30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 8-14

Here are days 8-14 of the  30 Days of Music Challenge that I’m doing, thanks to Mr Knitter!

Day 8: Song from the ’70s

“December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by The Four Seasons

How did a song about a guy losing his virginity to a woman whose name he didn’t even know in late December, back in ’63 become a #1 hit here?  A fantastic groove, a catchy piano riff, and the sweet verses from drummer Gerry Polci, that’s how!  Not to mention Frankie Valli’s classic vocals in the chorus.  I first heard this song during promo interstitials for what was then the WB Network (which later merged with UPN to become The CW), and I still get images of Michigan J. Frog in my head when I hear this song!

Day 9: Song from the ’80s

“Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

I just love this song and all its quirks: the monotonous vocal from Ivan Doroschuk over such a bright-sounding backing track, the lyrics, and in the full version (posted here), you can hear Doroschuk spelling out the song’s title in his very obvious Montreal accent (and Anglophone Montreal residents have a very distinct accent to my ears, even more distinct than the model of all Canadian accents, the Toronto accent).. And of course, the line “We can dance / We can dance / Everybody look at your hands” makes me think of Z quoting Homer Simpson saying “Dance, dance, everyone look at your pants.”. And finally, only this song can get away with using the word “imbecile” in the lyrics.

Day 10: Song from the ’90s

“Too Close” by Next

Here in the States, the two music genres from the 1990s with the most lasting musical legacy are Grunge and Hip-hop/R&B.  This song was a pretty big hit here on both the R&B and pop charts.  In a decade that decided to throw all sorts of romantic and sexual subtlety to the curb, this is a textbook example of that.  This song is essentially the musical version of “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”.  And yes, I do remember this song playing on the radio.

Day 11: Song from the ’00s

“Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparxx

Two reasons why I picked this song: 1. Most songs from the 2000s sound incredibly dated these days and don’t give me the feels, and 2. Epic Movie.  That is all.

Day 12: Favorite Song from a Cowboy Movie

“Blazing Saddles” by Frankie Laine (opening theme to Blazing Saddles)

The movie that this song appears in holds a special place in my heart: it was the first R-rated movie I ever saw (with my parents’ permission, too, as my dad was the one who bought the DVD) and it also sparked my love of Mel Brooks movies.

Day 13: Favorite Song from a Western

“Django” by Rocky Roberts (theme from Django and Django Unchained)

I first heard this song in Django Unchained, which is Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to spaghetti westerns, but the song originally appeared in the 1960s spaghetti western classic, Django (and that film’s star, Franco Nero, is the one to whom Django in the latter film informs that “The ‘D’ is silent”).  My dad is such a huge fan of both Quentin Tarantino and western films, and his fandom of Tarantino may have rubbed off on me.  One thing I love about his films is his incredible skill in selecting music that not only enhances a film, but in some cases also advances its plot (“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” in Pulp Fiction, “Stuck in the Middle with You” in Reservoir Dogs, “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” in Kill Bill, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” in Inglourious Basterds).  He was able to take a song from the film that inspired Django Unchained and capture the essence of what Jamie Foxx’s Django is after: freedom and the woman he loves (“Django, after the showers the Sun will be shining.”).  And the original Django is a legendary film itself, having spawned many sequels and spiritual sequels.  Next to The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood’s character in the Fistful of Dollars trilogy), Django is one of the most legendary characters in the Western and spaghetti western film genres.

Day 14: Favorite Song from a TV Show

“MST3K Love Theme” by Har Mar Superstar (theme song for Mystery Science Theater 3000)

I am relatively new to this fandom (the original run aired in the 1990s, usually late at night, so I was too young at the time to watch it), but so far I have really been enjoying it.  I’ve watched episodes from the original and new runs and I love how it plays into one of my favorite things: snarking on stuff.  From the episodes I’ve seen on Netflix, my favorite episode from the old run so far is Eegah!, and my favorite from the new run so far is Starcrash (the former being a caveman/teen romance movie featuring the creepy and, as a fellow Raveler put it, “cantilevered” hair of Arch Hall, Jr., and the latter being a gloriously bad knockoff of Star Wars starring Christopher Plummer, a former child preacher, a future video vixen, a young David Hasselhoff, and some redneck robocop).  The song was a no-brainer, as I usually find myself singing along in the intros.

Next week, it’s Days 15-21!

WIPs: The Hard Part is Almost Over!

So, the last time I left you with La vie en rose et violet, it pretty much looked like this:

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Well, it’s been about a month or so since my last major update, and I can show you that it now looks like this:

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Yes…the hard part is almost done!  I have an area of 8 rows and 5 columns left to work on this blanket before I start on the border.  40 squares.  That’s all that remains…just 40 squares.  I remember when this looked like a giant backwards L.  It has come a very long way since then.  I had guessed that I would finish this by the end of October, but now I think the date of completion may be closer to the end of August or the beginning of September.

Here are a couple more pictures of the more recent sections that I’ve worked on.

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I don’t know which project I’ll do next just yet.  I have my eyes set on a couple different wrap patterns, but I’m also looking at possible crochet projects to do.  I haven’t made my mind up just yet.  But what I do know is that I hope to be able to share a finished project with you very soon!

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 1-7

So, I saw a post on a blog that I follow, written by my favorite blogger with a tricky-to-pronounce name of (presumably) Celtic origin, Eiain (better known by his blogging name “Mr Knitter”, and that’s with no period because he’s British).  He decided to take part in something called the ” 30 Days of Music Challenge”, where you post one song a day in accordance with that day’s theme.  I was so interested by it that I’ve also decided to take part this month.  The day-by-day version will play out on my Tumblr page, but Eiain also encouraged me to post them here on WordPress, too.  However, I’m not a daily poster here and prefer to do one or two posts a week.  So, for this blog, I’ll be posting my selections once every week or so in batches of seven (although the final week will actually have 9 posts instead of seven.  I hope you enjoy my selections and feel free to chime in with your own picks for whatever theme you like in the comments.

BTW, if you want to check out Eiain’s picks for this challenge (or just want to learn more about him), you can check him out at Mr Knitter.

So, here are my picks for Days 1-7 in this challenge.

Day 1: Your Favorite Song Right Now

“Your Love” by The Outfield

I love this ’80s classic, from its power chords, to its lyrics, to that rhythmic yet understated bass line.  This song about a guy getting a booty call while his girl is on a vacation far away was a pretty big hit here in the States but barely made a dent in the band’s native UK.  It’s still regarded as an ’80s arena rock anthem here in America.  Not bad for a British band named after part of America’s Game!

Day 2: #1 Song When You Were Born

“Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau

This cover of the Bill Withers classic is one of a handful of songs that have topped America’s Billboard Hot 100 twice (along with classics like “Lady Marmalade”, ” Venus”, and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”).  And according to Billboard magazine’s issue dates, this is the song that was #1 on the Hot 100 for the issue dated during the week I was born, on March 24, 1987.

Day 3: Song You Play When You Are Happy

“Zou bisou bisou” by Gillian Hills (and Jessica Paré…and Sophia Loren…and many others…)

This song may be in French, but its lyrics (if I read the translation correctly, an ode to sweet and secret kisses) are so fluffy and cutesy, and the music itself is reminiscent of so many early ’60s rom-coms.  How can you not be happy after hearing this song?  Even in English (called “Zoo Bee Zoo Bee Zoo”) it sounds happy!

Day 4: Song You Play When You Are Sad

“Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths

The first time I heard this song was in the movie Never Been Kissed, but I really only remember hearing the mandolin playing at the very end of this song as flashback scenes of Drew Barrymore’s character Josie getting humiliated on her first prom night years before the movie’s events take place play out on the screen.  When I actually heard this song in full for the first time, I really related to the lyrics in which Morrissey laments his terrible luck in life (and presumably in love; Morrissey was notoriously known for being celibate during his time with The Smiths, and according to most sources he remained celibate until the late ’90s).  Now and then, if I’m feeling a little down or moody, this song is certainly on my playlist.  I guess as the Elton John song says, “Sad songs say so much.”

Day 5: Song You Play When You Are Angry

“Cult of Personality” by Living Colour

Sometimes you want a songs that just screams “Screw the system!”.  This is one of them.  It is awesome.

Day 6: Your Favorite Classical Song

“Thaxted” (Gustav Holst)

This piece is known by several titles: “Theme from Jupiter” from The Planets (which is the orchestral suite of Holst’s in which this theme originally appeared), “I Vow to Thee, My Country” (a patriotic hymn in Britain, basically the United Kingdom’s answer to “God Bless America”), or “God Beyond All Praising” (if you’re of the church-going crowd).  I tell you, this is one of the few pieces of music that consistently makes me cry.  And not a lot of pieces of music make me cry.

Day 7: A Song That Makes Me Want to Fall in Love

“Angel Eyes” by The Jeff Healey Band

A little ironic that the first line of the song, “Girl, you’re lookin’ fine tonight”, is sung by a man who lost his eyes to cancer as a child (and would die in 2008 from a recurrence of that same cancer), but I should mention that this song was originally co-written by the (sighted) singer John Hiatt (of ” Have a Little Faith in Me” fame).  It’s such a sweet song, but not cloying or bubblegum.  I can see why this makes a great wedding song.

Stay tuned, next week is Days 8-14!

On Being 30 and Single

Pardon me for the radio silence…I’ve been chugging away on my afghan (about 3/4 of the way finished now on the main portion and I just got the yarn in the border color a couple of days ago), but other than that I’ve been dealing with general blogger’s block.  That is, until yesterday.  Let’s see, I recently started emailing an old friend of mine from when I was attending college (I only attended for three semesters at a local community college before dropping out due to financial and transportation problems, and I still have aspirations to return someday to finish the associate’s degree I started; this friend and I attended the same high school, graduating a year apart, but we didn’t meet until college), and when I informed him of my brother’s wedding date, he responded with a somewhat cynical email about all of his friends’ marriages that he’d seen fall apart.  I kindly let him know how cynical he sounded, and his response and my reply ended up being quite reflective of something that I don’t think gets talked about a lot in a real, honest manner: the experience of being a single thirtysomething.  What follows is reflective of my experience, and my experience alone, of being single and in my thirties (granted, I am only four months into being in my thirties, but I am in my thirties).

I don’t have much of a dating history, just one date in high school to my senior prom, and that was 12 years ago.  I haven’t been on a date since, and while it bugged me quite a bit in my 20s, it doesn’t bug me so much anymore now in my 30s.  Sure, I get the occasional questions asking why I don’t have a boyfriend or (on rare occasions) the assumption that because I don’t have a boyfriend that I’m into girls (sorry, I have no interest in playing with other ladies’ fun parts), but otherwise, it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care if it bothers anyone else.  Other than that one date, I really have no other experience other than that of being perpetually single. It hasn’t been easy, but I tend to approach this with the mindset that I’d rather date few men of quality than a sizable quantity of men and hoping I strike gold.  Unfortunately for me, there aren’t a lot of quality men where I live.  Where I live, the ones that aren’t married are the type where I take one look at them and I know I could do better.  Most of the quality men where I live have usually had the sense to move away to pursue better opportunities than what’s necessarily available in small town and suburban Florida.  And what remains are men of simpler means and simpler needs, the kind that like to go four-wheeling, mudding, or fishing.  I have never been an outdoors type of person.  Not a lot of these men are into reading the kind of books I like to read, or would be willing to pay attention to my thinking out loud about my knitting or other creative endeavors, or share my ideas and opinions on things that matter to me.  Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong part of the country.  I’m the kind of girl who knows what she likes and knows what she needs in a potential boyfriend or husband: I need someone who challenges me mentally; who is a voice of encouragement in whatever I decide to do; and who will allow me to be my own ridiculous, opinionated, goofy, intuitive self without trying place his own expectations on me and holding me up to be something I can’t.  I’m, among other things, a terrible housekeeper, a pretty good cook, a somewhat masculine woman in personality (though I am not above wearing a dress or a shorter skirt when I want to feel feminine, which isn’t very often), and unashamed of my geekdom.  I know by this point I will never be a girly-girl, a supermodel/beauty queen, June Cleaver, or a trophy wife…but I hope I can still be a nice match for somebody.  I know at this point in my life, though, I am not settling for anything.  I deserve the best, and I’m okay with admitting it.

It seems like society often looks down on people my age who are still single.  And true, a lot of people in my age group are starting to marry and have families of their own.  And yet, no matter if it’s the government or a religious group, most social institutions seem to value people more if they’re married: married people get tax breaks, married people get to have children without being judged for having them out of wedlock, married people are more trustworthy because the single person might try to *gasp* sleep with your spouse!  Sometimes it feels like in the eyes of society, though I may not be worthless, because I am single I am literally worth less in social capital.  Now, all this may have been an issue in my twenties, but honestly, now that I’m in my thirties, I don’t care.

I think I’m happier now being single at 30 than I was being single at 20; part of it is just understanding myself a little better as a person and being able to own my flaws, and the other part is just the fact that there isn’t really any pressure for me to fit in anymore. In your twenties, you’re coming out of adolescence and trying to find your place in the world, and people place a lot of expectations on you; in your thirties, you’re more assured of yourself and feeling more confident in your own decisions and aspirations. I feel no personal pressure to date, I feel no pressure to marry, and I feel no pressure to have a child.  I’ve accepted the possibility that my life may not necessarily include a husband or children. I could be happier when it comes to things I want to do in life (career, education, traveling, et cetera), but where I am right now is where I’m needed.  I could be happier with how I feel about my looks, but then again, it’s all superficial anyway.  But I’m content with where my life is right now for the first time in a long time.  I’m not angry with the world.  I’m not angry at anyone.  And I’m not angry with where life has taken me.  I could be happy, but if content is all the universe wants to give me right now, then I’m okay with it.  At this point I am just along for the ride, and I hope I can get as much out of life as I can.  I wasted my twenties with fear, anger, and cynicism.  I hope I won’t do the same with my thirties.

I hope other single thirtysomethings out there can take some solace in my thoughts and know that their worth is not determined by their relationship or marital status.  And those that do have love in their lives, know that what you have is rare, special, and something that not everyone will get a chance to experience in this life.  Cherish it, treasure it, and don’t let small things get in the way of the bigger picture.  And to those out there perpetually single like me, don’t fret over it; take the opportunity to learn great things about yourselves, appreciate all of your strengths and own your flaws, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first.  Singlehood should no longer be a scarlet letter, a badge of shame.  Singlehood may be a part of my life, but it doesn’t define my life.  I’m a geek, a knitter, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, and a smartass who just happens to be 30 and single.

Should Be a Nice Week This Week.

This is not going to be a long entry.

I’m hoping this week will be a good week, given the two special occasions we have in our family this week.

Nope, not my brother’s wedding.  But they have already set a date for that…more on that in a later entry.  I will say that it will happen before the end of the year, though.

Nope, the two special occasions are both birthdays…namely, my mom’s and my dad’s.  You read that right.  They both have birthdays this week.  In fact, today is my mom’s birthday!  My dad’s birthday is on Friday.  In case you’re wondering, they are not the same age.  I won’t share their exact ages, but my mom is actually seven years older than my dad (yep, my dad married a cougar).  The closeness in their birthdays usually makes birthday plans for them pretty simple.  We went grocery shopping over the weekend and my mom picked out a carrot cake, which we cut into this morning.  We still have half of it left, and may hold onto it until either Friday or whenever my dad next feels like eating carrot cake.

I hope we have a good week this week, and that my parents have great birthdays.

And here is “Happy Birthday” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (only because YouTube took down all the good videos for “Birthday” by The Beatles).

Bumble

Idea for this post taken from this prompt.

Dictionaries define the word “bumble” as a verb referring to the act of moving, acting, or speaking in an awkward or confused manner.

Sometimes I feel like I am the epitome of the word “bumble”.  I think back on choices I have made over the years, and I realize that my path to finding myself has not been a straight line, but a meandering path with a lot of dead ends and backtracks.  I think back on even the littlest things, and I wonder: what if I had stuck with band class in sixth grade instead of quitting after just a couple of days?  What if I had taken that driver’s education class?  What if I had said yes to that boy who had asked me to go to a dance with him when I was 14 and not bowed to the pressure of my parents (who thought I was too young at the time)?  What if I hadn’t dropped out of college?  What if I had been able to find steady work?  What if I’d been more assertive about myself and my ideas and opinions?  And even now, I see so many possibilities for my future, but my own personal path has so many forks in the road that I don’t know how to go about it.  In my 30 years so far, I have bumbled through my life without so much of an idea of where I want it to go.  And it bugs the crap out of me.

It bugs the crap out of me because I know I should be doing better things.  It bugs the crap out of me because I feel like I should’ve already had an idea of what I want to do with my life now.  It bugs the crap out of me because I feel like I’ve disappointed my family.  It bugs the crap out of me because I feel like I’ve disappointed myself.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if it’s a common view in my generation.  Why do so many of us have such a lack of personal fulfillment?  How do we deal with all these crossroads in our lives and pick a path that not only leads to self-sufficiency but also to self-fulfillment?  How do we make our own lives and preserve our happiness at the same time?  Do we have to sacrifice happiness to become self-sufficient or can we have both?  How can we escape the constant feeling of bumbling through life and actually take control?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that question right now, but there is one thing I have figured out in my first 30 years so far: it’s okay to not know all the answers.  Hopefully, my not knowing doesn’t resign itself to complacency and results in my life ending with no purpose, meaning, or fulfillment.  I hope to be able to answer that question someday.  I hope a lot of people in my generation going through the same challenges are able to answer that question as well.

Some Knitting & An Announcement

It’s been an interesting week, to say the least.

First, the knitting.  I’ve had quite a bit of knitting time this week because my dad decided to take the week off from work (he used one of his vacation weeks), so it hasn’t been so busy around here.  I was able to finish another motif of small squares that I was working on (15 squares in a diagonal orientation, going from 5 squares in the first row, to 4 squares in the second row, and so on, all the way down to one square.  The rows alternated between pink and purple.

And here’s how it’s looking so far.

First, the wide shot of the whole thing.

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Now, it is folded up in a couple of places to make room for most of it to be seen on my bed, but the section I was just working on is in the lower left-hand portion of the photo.  As you can see, it has pretty much caught up with the 25-square checkerboard I finished last month.  In fact, that pink square at the very upper-left hand corner of the latest section (which you will see in more detail shortly) marks 10 small squares up that particular side.  I have reached a pretty big milestone: I have filled in a little over half of this afghan, which measures 18 small squares by 18 small squares.  When I resume work on this project, I will be working some more on the right-hand side of the afghan and starting to fill that in.  Considering I started this nearly four months ago with some leftover scrap yarn and decided to go with it, it’s not bad at all.  (Of course, we have had to purchase more yarn for this over the months, but I’ve only added a skein or two at a time.)

Here are some more detailed pics of the most recent section I was working on:

The first pic is a wide shot as it sits on the afghan, the second is more of a close-up, and the third is from the angle that I actually knitted them onto the piece.  I started with a row of five baby pink squares, then the next row of squares was variegated purple, then a row of variegated pink, then the solid gemstone purple, and capped it off with the strawberry pink square.

All right.  I made a reference to an “announcement” in the title of this post, and I will string you along no longer.

The announcement is:

There will be a wedding in the somewhat near future.  No, not mine.

My brother and his girlfriend got engaged this week!

I found out the news when she sent a picture of her engagement ring to my dad’s phone on Wednesday night (although my dad had already gone to bed by then), followed by a simple text saying “We got engaged” about 15 minutes later.  I’m not expecting them to set a date just yet, so no word on any wedding plans for the time being.  Although I must say that I have been privately calling her my “sister-in-law” for some time now.  It’ll be nice for them to finally make it legal, and I’m very happy for them.

Until next time…have a great day!