Another 30-Day Song Challenge: Days 22-30

With all the upheaval going on lately in my life, I realized I never quite got around to finishing the 30-Day Song Challenge over here on the blog! So, let’s lighten things up and take a look at the last songs of this challenge.

Day 22: A Song That Moves You Forward

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

How can one not have this song in their playlist? It’s the perfect song for getting all the negative energy and toxic relationships out of one’s life. It’s the ultimate “moving me forward” song.

Day 23: A Song You Think Everyone Should Listen To

“Taxi” by Harry Chapin

I think I’ve written about my dad’s love of Harry Chapin before, and this song is simply a *chef’s kiss* on top of an incredible career of one of the most underrated singer-songwriters in the history of popular music. It’s a bit of a long song, but the story it tells is kind of relatable (a taxi driver has a reunion with the one who got away when she hails his cab) and it probably brings up similar memories of ones who got away when people listen to it. The story goes that when Chapin was invited to perform it on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the reception was so incredible that Carson supposedly invited him back on the show to perform it again the following night…although the show’s archives do not show that it actually happened. But Carson did have him come back a couple of months later to perform another song called “Sniper”. Chapin ended up making 14 appearances on The Tonight Show between 1972 and 1979 (Chapin died in 1981). I remember watching Harry Chapin’s episode of Behind the Music and my dad was watching it with me. A bit of “Taxi” was played during the episode, and my dad actually said the line, “Harry, keep the change” along with the recording. The song proved so popular that Chapin released a follow-up single, called “Sequel”, in 1980. And one last thing about this song: the guy singing the bridge on this song (“Baby’s so high, she’s skying…”) also sings the bass vocals on another Chapin song, “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” (written about an actual truck accident that took place in Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1960s) and also was the singing voice for Bluto in the movie Popeye (which stars Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall). His name is John Wallace, or “Big John”.

Day 24: A Song By a Band You Wish Was Still Together

“Monty Got a Raw Deal” by R.E.M.

A lot of my favorite bands overall are British, but my absolute favorite American band is R.E.M., followed pretty closely by the Eagles. Unfortunately, R.E.M. decided to amicably split up in 2011, but they left behind a catalog that really helped to define the sound of a generation. They were alternative before alternative was cool, they were game changers without the baggage and fad labels of grunge, and they made incredible music as a single unit, with lead singer Michael Stipe usually handling the lyrics, while the other three members (guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry) composed the music. R.E.M. has a lot of great songs in their catalog, but this album cut from Automatic for the People (possibly one of the best albums released in the 1990s) is one of my favorites. It’s a song about the actor Montgomery Clift, who was considered a sex symbol in his early career in the 1950s, but a car accident in 1956 left him severely injured and kickstarted an addiction to prescription painkillers and alcohol that ultimately contributed to his death from heart disease in 1966 at the age of 45. In addition, Clift was also closeted in his adult life, believed to be at the very least bisexual (although his friend Elizabeth Taylor would later refer to him as gay) in a time where being openly homosexual was not only discouraged, but often illegal. Michael Stipe might have used this information about Clift in writing the lyrics for “Monty Got a Raw Deal”, because a couple of years after Automatic for the People was released, Stipe came out as LGBT, although he did not put a specific label on his sexuality at the time. In a 2001 interview, Stipe would later clarify that he identifies as queer.

Day 25: A Song by an Artist No Longer Living

“Fashion” by David Bowie

David Bowie is another artist with an incredible catalog of songs, but I just absolutely love the groove in “Fashion”. It’s got a little bit of a disco element to it, but Bowie puts his own spin to it, and it’s got that coolness 😎 that he is so famous for showing on his records.

Day 26: A Song That Makes You Want to Fall in Love

“Angel Eyes” by The Jeff Healey Band

It may seem ironic that a blind singer (Jeff Healey lost his sight as a child due to a rare form of cancer, and it was cancer that would later take his life in 2008) is singing about making a woman’s “angel eyes” turning his way, but this song was actually co-written by John Hiatt (of “Have a Little Faith in Me” fame), who is sighted. But it was Healey who made this song famous. And every time I listen to it, my heart ends up aching because I want someone to feel the same way about me that he’s describing in the song.

Day 27: A Song That Breaks Your Heart

“Veronica” by Elvis Costello

I had picked this song for this challenge not knowing that my mom would pass away less than a month later. It’s been less than three weeks now since she died, but it’s already starting to feel like an eternity ago that she was here. It’s a void I’m learning how to live with. But Elvis Costello had co-written this song with Paul McCartney about Costello’s grandmother, Veronica, who suffered from the same disease that took my mom, Alzheimer’s. It’s relatable, at least to me, and it hits me in the jellies. I’m actually going to include both the music video and studio versions of the song, because in the music video he actually talks about what it was like being around his grandmother while she was living with the disease.

Day 28: A Song by an Artist Whose Voice You Love

“Cherry Wine” by Hozier

I think I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy listening to Hozier when I wrote about “Take Me to Church” in my post Losing My Religion. This song is another one from his self-titled debut album, and it touches on a subject rarely talked about: a woman abusing a man. (The music video also deals with the subject matter of abuse, but makes the woman the victim instead of the man like in the song.) The song itself is sad, but it takes true talent to make good art out of pain and suffering.

Day 29: A Song You Remember from Your Childhood

“I Can’t Dance” by Genesis

Seriously. This is one of the first music videos I ever remember watching. The music video is a spoof on fashion commercials and even works a little bit of the lyrics into the video (“…her dog’s talking to me but she’s out of reach…”).

Day 30: A Song That Reminds You of Yourself

“At Seventeen” by Janis Ian

The opening lines, “I learned the truth at seventeen / That love was meant for beauty queens…”, really resonate with me. I have something to confess about myself: I’ve never felt I was ever particularly beautiful, and the sad truth is that I’ve never had a man that I was attracted to ever tell me that I was “pretty” or “beautiful”. This is one of the few songs out there that really speaks out to the “ugly ducklings”, but unlike the story, I don’t think I’ve ever developed into swan…I’ve just become an ugly duck. Or, at the very least, a plain duck. It talks so much about how if you’re pretty, you get more advantages in life…but do they really end up happier? Whereas all of us plain girls get thrust into this world with nothing but dreams and we have to work for everything we have, from relationships to success and independence. And perhaps us plain girls end up happier than the girls who got by on their looks because we appreciate the effort it took for us to get there. “And dreams were all they gave for free / To ugly duckling girls like me…”

Thanks for sticking with me through all of this. And I hope you enjoy my song picks!

Another 30-Day Song Challenge: Days 15-21

When I last left off, I had completed 14 of the 30 songs on this challenge. Here are my picks for Days 15 to 21. Apologies for this taking a little long to update.

Day 15: A Song That’s a Cover By Another Artist

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash

This may be one of the best covers ever recorded; it’s become so legendary that YouTube channel Polyphonic recently included the song in a video about legendary cover songs. The original version was written by Trent Reznor, who also recorded it as part of his band/project Nine Inch Nails, and the original version is featured on the band’s second album, The Downward Spiral (which also features the band’s best known song, “Closer”). Coincidentally, Nine Inch Nails is set to join Johnny Cash (who was inducted in 1992) in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year as part of the Class of 2020 (the induction was supposed to happen this spring, but got pushed back tentatively to the fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic). Cash recorded his version of the song in 2002 for his album American IV: The Man Comes Around, which ultimately ended up being the final album he released in his lifetime. Where the original version comes from the point of view of a suicidal addict trying to find some sort of feeling or meaning in his life, Cash’s version becomes sort of a bookend not just of a man’s life, long and troubled, but essentially of his own life, which had its share of pain, addiction, and ultimately redemption and salvation. Cash changed one word from the original lyrics (“I wear this crown of shit…” became “I wear this crown of thorns…”), which brought the symbolism from a man in a place of shame and filth to one of a man about to become a martyr, a sacrificial lamb to atone for his many sins. Cash was a man of deep faith and his gravelly bass voice was able to evoke a lifetime of mistakes in the hope that he can find his way in the end. Upon hearing Cash’s version, Reznor said, “…that song isn’t mine anymore.” I’m going to include both versions here because they are both so worth hearing.

Day 16: A Classic Favorite

“Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” by The Spinners

This song is such a classic example of what is known as “Philly soul”, a subgenre of soul music pioneered in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Philadelphia-based producers and songwriters such as Gamble & Huff, McFadden & Whitehead, Bobby Martin, and Norman Harris. Philly soul had a distinct break from the Motown sound that dominated the 1960s, which was largely beat-driven and pop-influenced with notable songwriters and producers like Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Norman Whitfield. Philly soul featured lush, orchestral arrangements, with emphasis on strings and horns, and a much more melodic sound overall. Philly soul would ultimately lay the roots for what would become funk music. Funny enough, The Spinners were originally from Detroit (the original home city for Motown Records, although the label had moved to Los Angeles by the early 1970s, and with whom The Spinners had recorded in the 1960s), but their most influential recordings and biggest commercial success came from their work with the producers and songwriters in the Philly soul movement.

Day 17: A Song You’d Sing As a Duet with Someone at Karaoke

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by The Righteous Brothers

I’m not a huge fan of Tom Cruise, but I have to admit that the scene in Top Gun where his character Maverick and the other Navy pilots are singing this to his flight instructor/love interest (played by Kelly McGillis) in a bar is pretty classic. Now, the part I’d be singing would probably depend on the gender of my duet partner. If my singing partner is a woman, I’d probably take Bill Medley’s part because I kind of have a low singing voice for a woman (thanks to my maternal grandmother, who had a speaking voice almost as masculine as Bea Arthur’s — albeit with a thick New England accent — and a singing voice that could conjure up thoughts of Lou Monte and his infamous cover of “C’e na luna”, an Italian folk song popular among Neapolitan and Sicilian immigrant communities). If my singing partner is a man, though, I’d have to take Bobby Hatfield’s higher-pitched part. Either way, the song is a classic.

Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born

“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley

I’m not Rickrolling you! I really was born the year that this song was released! It was released in July 1987, when I was about 4 months old, and it became a #1 hit in the United States in March 1988, the same month as my first birthday.

Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life

“One Thing” by Finger Eleven

Although this song was initially used in WWE’s tribute to Chris Benoit (before the facts of the double murder-suicide he committed publicly came to light), I actually associate this song more with his best friend Eddie Guerrero, a fellow wrestler who died of heart disease in 2005, about two years before Benoit. (WWE’s tribute video for Guerrero actually used Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”). The whole Benoit story is incredibly sad, tragic, and anger-inducing (when it comes to the double murder of his wife and son), and I strongly recommend watching the Dark Side of the Ring episode about his life and the actions of his final days. Anyway, I think this song really gets to the spirit of what Eddie Guerrero’s life was all about, and I think this song really makes us all look back on what we could have done in our own lives.

Day 20: A Song with Many Meanings to You

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

While Stevie Nicks wrote this song at a major crossroads in her life: she was deciding between continuing her education or continuing her professional partnership with Lindsey Buckingham, who was also her boyfriend at the time. There’s a lot of contemplation and fear of the unknown expressed in the lyrics, which I think a lot of people can relate to. But this song is also very personal to me: it was my mother’s favorite song. She adored Stevie Nicks and my mother’s face would light up whenever she’d hear this song come on. Now that she’s in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, I don’t know if she’d recognize this song now…or even if the sensation of hearing it feels familiar to her. But I’ll always associate this song with her.

Day 21: A Song You Like with a Person’s Name in the Title

“Jane” by Jefferson Starship

I may have used this song in my first challenge as well. Of the three incarnations of Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship seems to be the most underrated (Jefferson Airplane had all the iconic songs in the ‘60s while Starship had all the commercial success in the ‘80s). “Miracles” (off of their album Red Octopus) is my favorite song of all three incarnations of the band, but this song features a slapping vocal performance by Mickey Thomas (who also sang lead on Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” and would become one of Starship’s two lead singers in the ‘80s, along with Jefferson Airplane vet Grace Slick). This song does bring to mind Jane Fonda, who was a huge star but also a controversial one in the 1970s, when this song was released, although I don’t think this song is explicitly about her.

Stay tuned for the final part of this challenge, when I will be covering days 22-30.

Another 30-Day Song Challenge: Days 8-14

Here are the next few songs from the Song Challenge I’m currently doing on Instagram.

Day 8: A Song About Drugs or Alcohol

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers

I think I included this one in my previous song challenge as well. But I always enjoy hearing George’s gravelly voice singing about getting drunk in this blues standard.

Day 9: A Song That Makes You Happy

“Shoop” and “Push It” by Salt N Pepa

My original choice for this one was “Shoop”, but surprise…it wasn’t available on Instagram! So I ended up using another great song from Salt N Pepa, “Push It”. “Shoop” is a hip hop classic, and it’s gotten new life after being featured in Deadpool a few years ago. I think I have most of Salt’s verses memorized, especially the one that starts, “You’re packed and you’re stacked / ‘specially in the back / Brother, wanna thank your mother for a butt like that…” I always wanna dance to this one and I usually do find myself rapping along with it. “Push It” also gets people dancing.

Day 10: A Song That Makes You Sad

“Perfect Day” by Lou Reed

The whole song just sounds sad. Not to mention the song is sung from the point of view of a heroin addict trying to find a reason to keep living…yeah, it’s a rough song.

Day 11: A Song I Never Get Tired Of

“Africa” by Toto

This is an ‘80s classic that has gotten new life in recent years thanks to a hit cover version by the band Weezer. The song is such a favorite of mine that I use the chorus to time my hand washing (as it lasts approximately 20 seconds).

Day 12: A Song From My Preteen Years

“Tearin’ Up My Heart” by N Sync

I was obsessed with these guys as a tween. Like, posters on the bedroom wall and everything. And this was the group where Justin Timberlake got his start. He’s become such a pop culture icon since then.

Day 13: Song From the 1970s

“Nights On Broadway” by Bee Gees

This song, which is also the basis for the theme song to the “Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketch on SNL, showcases some of the best of the brothers’ musicianship, including a section in the bridge where their voices blend in beautiful three-part harmony. Listen for yourself.

Day 14 – Wedding Song

“Reflecting Light” by Sam Phillips

If it’s good enough for Lorelai and Luke’s wedding on Gilmore Girls, it should be good enough for me.

Stay tuned for more songs!

Another 30-Day Song Challenge

Back in 2017, I did a 30-Day Song Challenge that played out on my Tumblr and was summed here on the blog. I’ve decided to do another one for the month of May on my Instagram Stories, and I’ll be summing it up here again. Some of the songs also appeared in the 2017 challenge, but many of them are new.

The songs featured in this post will be from the first week of this challenge, which started on May 1st.

Day 1: A Song with a Color in the Title

“Blue Monday” by New Order

I just absolutely love this song. I love ‘80s music in general, but this one has been a bop for me ever since I discovered it a few years ago. Their song “Bizarre Love Triangle” is also considered an ‘80s Classic here in the U.S., but this one both got mashed up with Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Outta My Head” and was also used in the first trailer for the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984.

Day 2: A Song with a Number in the Title

“1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins

I grew up hearing this one a lot on the local alternative rock radio station. The Smashing Pumpkins helped to define the sound of the 1990s and are part of the soundtrack of many ‘90s kids’ lives.

Day 3: A Song That Reminds Me of Summertime

“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett

Given the state of the world today, sometimes I wish things were as easy as blowing out a flip flop, stepping on a pop top, looking for a lost shaker of salt, and ending the day with a nice frozen margarita. Let’s hope that the summer of 2021 is better than the summer of 2020.

Day 4: A Song That Reminds Me of Someone I’d Rather Forget

“Never Gonna Let You Go” by Sergio Mendes

This song doesn’t remind me of an ex (as I have no actual exes to speak of), it actually reminds me of a bully. From 7th grade all the way through my senior year of high school, there was a boy who made it his mission to tease me mercilessly and try to make me feel embarrassed or miserable every chance he got. I don’t know why he targeted me in particular, but I’m pretty sure a crush was not involved. There were many taunts and methods he used to try and get under my skin over the years. This one in particular came in 8th grade, when he was assigned to sit behind me in algebra class. He would sing stupid lyrics to the tune of this song solely to annoy the shit out of me. (And yes, I felt the swear word was justified here). The teacher eventually moved him to another seat when she got wind of what he was doing, but the bullying did not stop until we graduated from high school. I have not seen him since, but he is supposedly a lawyer now (according to social media), and I imagine if he saw the state of my life right now, he’d probably still find a way to make fun of me.

Day 5: A Song That Needs to Be Played Loud

“Toxicity” by System of a Down

The Nu metal movement of the early 2000s created a lot of tracks that frankly make me cringe now (especially Limp Bizkit, although their track “Nookie” was recently used in a pretty genius way in a commercial for CarMax, complete with a cameo by frontman Fred Durst). One band from that era whose songs have aged surprisingly well, though, is the Armenian-American band System of a Down. Their first single was the song “Chop Suey!”, but it was the title track from their debut album Toxicity that really got my attention. This song is a cynical look at their hometown of Los Angeles, with the memorable line “Eating seeds as a pastime activity…”, complete with a headbanging breakdown bridge before frontman Serj Tankian bellows out the final chorus and closing lines in his booming baritone voice. I remember headbanging along to this as a teenager in the early 2000s and I still stan this song now in my thirties.

Day 6: A Song That Makes Me Want to Dance

“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

This song is just so much fun in all its cheesy ‘80s glory.

Day 7: A Song to Drive To

“Radar Love” by Golden Earring

It literally starts with, “I’ve been driving all night, my hands wet on the wheel…” The rhythm of the drumming also reminds me of watching the lane dividers pass outside the passenger window while my dad is driving along the interstate highway. In other words, it’s the driving song!

I’ll have more coming up over the next few weeks!

The ABCs of Me

With all the emotional upheaval that’s been going on with me lately (my mom’s condition worsening, me having to come to terms with this new chapter, and all of us adjusting to a new normal), I figured I’d post something a little lighter and fun today. I saw this from Kris of Around the Corner (I’m linking to her post for reference), and I decided to do one of my own. So, a little something about me to correspond with each letter of the English alphabet.

Age – I am currently 32, but I will be turning 33 next month!

Bed Size – I currently sleep in a full size bed, which originally belonged to my maternal grandmother, and then it was my brother’s after she passed away. Once he moved out, it was unused for a couple of years, but then I decided to rid myself of an ancient twin mattress that had seen much better days and upgrade to the full. I like to say it’s my answer to the question, Do you sleep around? Why yes…I sleep on the left, on the right, and in the middle…all around my bed! 😂 When you’re a single woman like me, every side is your side of the bed. It’s gonna feel a little weird once I find a man to share a bed with.

Cat name – I’ve only had one official cat and a couple that kinda adopted us. The only cat we’ve had that was truly ours was named Prissy. That was the name she had when we adopted her as a kitten and just kept the name. She was a torbie floof (not a true calico) who hated being held but loved laps and soft blankets. We had her for 16 wonderful years, but her age eventually caught up with her and she was peacefully euthanized in October 2014. We haven’t adopted any cats since then (Roxy is territorial, but she actually didn’t mind Prissy, although Prissy didn’t care much for Roxy…I think Roxy just chases cats that she doesn’t recognize as “her” cats), but I think I could see myself adopting another cat or two in the future. In the meantime I fawn over them on Instagram.

Dog name – Roxy is the only dog I’ve ever had. I don’t really care much for dogs in general (visits to a family friend’s house usually resulted in one of their large dogs trying to tackle me, which traumatized me as a kid), but Roxy grew on me.

Essential start of your day – In a perfect world, my morning would consist of a fresh cup of coffee, checking my emails and news/social feeds, and spending an extended period of time by myself so I can get ready to face the world. These days, it’s usually coffee, The Golden Girls, checking on my mom to see if she’s awake and to get her ready for the day as well as preparing the materials we need to clean her and change her briefs.

Favorite color – I’m usually drawn to shades of red and blue, but I also love anything that is jewel-toned.

Ghosts exist – I’m one of those skeptics when it comes to anything “paranormal”. If anything, the “ghosts” that people experience are more or less projections of our own anxieties and fears.

Height – My ID says I’m 5 feet, 7 inches tall. That could be a slight exaggeration, but I am slightly taller than average…but I don’t have very long legs for my build. I’m built like a German, kinda stocky…the women on my dad’s side of the family have a similar build when they gain weight (and yes, there is German ancestry on his side of the family, although I think he has a larger percentage of British…but he is one-quarter Frisian through his maternal grandfather, whose parents were East Frisian immigrants; East Frisia is located on the northwestern coast of what is now Germany).

Instruments you played in school – I wasn’t in band or anything; I learned recorder in elementary school and for fun kept playing for several years. I used to be able to play quite a lot on a soprano recorder, but it’s been years. In high school I got a guitar as a Christmas present and was a decent strummer. Unfortunately, about 10 years ago the neck broke from the body when I went to pick it up to play it and I haven’t been able to replace it since. I miss playing guitar. I want to relearn it so badly, this time starting from the basics, not just chords.

Jokester or serious – My nickname in school was “Joke Killer”, I am terrible at telling jokes. However, I do like to embrace the sillier side of things, and usually my best received attempts at humor are corny puns, usually involving food. Like these…

Kind of day that’s your favorite – A day with few problems, and the ones that do occur get taken care of relatively quickly. Also, any day where I can sit outside and read in the sun while Roxy runs around is a good day. A perfect day for me, though, would be a day at the beach with a comfy beach chair, a good book, sunny skies, and maybe some friends for company. I don’t really swim in ocean water, so just wading into the waves for a bit would be good. I haven’t been to the beach in well over a decade, but I absolutely love the scent of seawater and the sound of the waves coming in.

Longest relationship – I’ve known me my whole life. Romantically, I’ve never been in a relationship, although it would be nice to be in one…I just haven’t had the time or opportunity to meet anyone who would be worth taking the plunge for. As for my friendships, the longest friendship that I’ve had that still exists to this day has lasted about 24 years (although there were extended periods where she and I were out of contact). The longest friendships I’ve had where I’ve maintained somewhat regular contact with the person has lasted about 20 years (I’ve known this friend since we were 13), and I’ve known The Lady Bryan for 17 years.

Most annoying job – I will admit, being a caregiver has its annoyances. All the paying jobs I’ve had were very temporary, so I haven’t been at one long enough to determine which was the most annoying.

Night Owl – I don’t mind staying up at night. Sometimes I drink coffee too late in the day and I end up staying wide awake until 3 in the morning. But I do enjoy going outside on a clear night and stargazing.

Overnight Hospital stay – I’ve never had to stay in a hospital; heck, I’ve never even had to visit the emergency room! However, I have had relatives who’ve stayed in hospitals overnight, and depending on the situation, it can be a stressful time for me. I’m a bit of an empath, and I think it’s because of that when I see people suffering, it always hits me harder than most people. Even seeing my dad having to stay overnight for observation (triggered by very high blood pressure and chest pains; luckily, stress tests the next day showed there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with his heart) left me a bundle of nerves.

Pet peeve – I have several. My biggest one is when people use a toilet and then they don’t flush, leaving nature’s offerings right there in the bowl for me to see. I always flush before I will use said toilet. I also get annoyed by people who yip while they yawn.

Quiet time hobby – I can knit at any noise level, but I tend to read best when I’ve got a mostly quiet room and some classical music playing (since it’s primarily instrumental and usually has no lyrics to distract me).

Right or Left handed – I do most things right handed; but I open soda cans (or any can with a tab pull), untwist bottle lids, turn book pages and play cards left-handed. (How does one play cards left-handed? Most people will hold a hand of playing cards in their left hand and play a card to the table with their right hand. I, however, have done the opposite for as long as as I can remember: I hold the hand of cards with my right hand and play a card to the table with my left.)

Siblings – I have just one, a younger brother (by around two and half years), who I just refer to by his first initial, “J”, to maintain his privacy. He’s married to my sister-in-law, “A”, and is the father of my nieces, “R” and “The Bambina” (they have the same first initial, so I started calling the younger one “The Bambina”, which comes from the Italian word meaning “little girl”).

TV shows you watch – I am TV aficionado, so I watch quite a bit of TV. Now, obviously The Golden Girls is in regular rotation, but there are many others. My current favorites include The Masked Singer (it’s a fluff show, but it’s so much fun to try and play along with it), Jeopardy! (I am a total Dorothy Zbornak when it comes to this show, although I don’t think I’d be as obnoxious as she was when she tried out for the show in the episode “Questions and Answers”, though; I’d love to try and apply for the show at some point when life isn’t so crazy), Survivor (which has always been a favorite in our family), and Eurovision (which, although it currently does not air on U.S. television, I follow pretty closely over the Internet, and this year will mark the second year in a row that all three shows of the Contest will be put up on Netflix in the U.S. following the Contest; I have previously written a couple of posts about my whole love affair with Eurovision if you’re interested in seeing why I’m so obsessed with it).

Underachiever or Overachiever? – I was a slacker among the brains of my school group; overall, I’d say I’m the textbook example of an underachiever, and basically a female version of Charlie Brown.

Voice of influence – As many differences as we’ve had, my dad is a pretty big influence on how to be both a dedicated worker and a good human being. As for people outside of my family and friends who’ve been influential on how I perceive and interact with the world around me, I’d include John F. Kennedy, Malala Yousafzai, Maya Angelou, and Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut’s quote, “God damn it – you’ve got to be kind”, is my number one rule of life.

Worst day of the week – Sundays, because that’s when the week resets for us; it’s the first day of my dad’s work week, far from a day of rest for me. There are no days off in giving care to a family member, but knowing that my dad can help out a little more on his days off does give me a little relief on those days and I can take a little more time to rest and process what’s happened during the week. But then Sunday comes and we have to reset.

X-rays – I’ve only ever had to have dental X-rays done, and you have to wear a lead vest and stand real still. Thankfully, I’ve never broken any bones.

Yummy food you like – Here’s where the German and Italian parts of me really come out: I love cheese, sausages and all sorts of cured meats, lots of savory vegetables like zucchini (courgettes to my Commonwealth readers), eggplant (aubergines), all sorts of summer squash, just about any kind of fish or shellfish, and I’m always up for ice cream.

Zoo favorites – I haven’t been to any zoos since I was a kid. But as long as it isn’t a bug or gigantic spider, I’ll watch any animal. I like bird watching with binoculars sometimes, so something tells me I’d have fun in an aviary.

And that’s it! If you feel like playing along, go right ahead! This was fun.

40 Odd Things About Me

I don’t do these tags a lot on my WordPress blog, but I figured I’d have a little fun today. This was borrowed from Missy of Missy’s Crafty Mess.

40 odd things about me . . . join in with a comment or a post on your blog.

1. Do you like mustard? Yellow mustard is a strong no. Any other kind of mustard is fine, though.
2. Choice of carbonated beverage? I like cherry cola or root beer the best, but I’ll drink just about anything that isn’t diet soda or grape-flavored.
3. Ever traveled to another country? No, but I’d love to visit Italy (most of Europe, actually), Australia, and New Zealand.
4. Whiskey, Tequila, Vodka? Not heavily into any of them, but out of those three…whiskey.
5. Hot dogs or Cheeseburgers? Cheeseburgers.
6. Favorite Type Of food: Just about any type of cheese or sausages.
7. Do you believe in ghosts? Not really.
8. What do you drink in the mornings? Coffee, coffee, and more coffee.
9. Can you do a 100 pushups? I can’t even do one pushup!
10. Summer, Winter, Spring, Or Fall? Winter, because it’s the only season in Florida guaranteed not to be hot as balls at some point!
11. Favorite hobby? Knitting, crocheting, cooking, reading, playing video games…
12. Tattoos? Zero.
13. Do you wear glasses? I’m supposed to, but my current glasses are over 15 years old (which I can still see out of) and the frames are all worn out with the plastic chipped away. I’m definitely due for an exam and possibly new glasses. (I have a weird condition where my left eye is practically perfect and my right eye is the one that can’t see sharply.)
14. Phobia? Heights, spiders, most insects (maybe with the exception of ants), and reptiles.
15. Nickname? Some call me Crys, some call me C-Chan, and my dad calls me Sister.
16. Three drinks you drink? Coffee, Water, Milk.
17. Biggest Downfall? I’m too critical of myself.
18. Rain or Snow? Snow
19. Piercings? Just the ones in each ear I got when I was 7 (the girls in my family typically have their ears pierced in childhood; it’s sort of a rite of passage).
20. Age? 32
21. Taken or Single? Single as a sour cream and onion Pringle.
22. How long taken or single? I’ve never been in an actual relationship; it’s been almost 15 years since I’ve been on a date, and frankly it’s starting to get on my nerves! (Paraphrasing a Sophia Petrillo quote from The Golden Girls.)
23. Kids? 0
24. Favorite color? I’d currently go with a sapphire blue.
25. Employed? No, but I am a caregiver for my mom full-time, so I can’t really work a traditional job right now.
26. Can you whistle? Not since I got braces.
27. Where were you born? Orlando, Florida
28. Brothers or Sisters? 1 brother
29. Ninjas or Pirates? Pirates!
30. Surgeries? None
31. Religious? Not in the slightest.
32. Shower or Bath? Doesn’t matter.
33. Like gambling? Only while playing bingo, but it’s been a while since the last time I went.
34. Are You Loyal? Yes, otherwise Pottermore wouldn’t have told me I was a Hufflepuff!
35. Broken bones? No
36. How many tv’s in your house? 2
37. Worst pain ever? I’ve been pretty lucky there; worst pain was probably an ankle sprain.
38. Do you like to dance? By myself…in the kitchen. Usually with Pandora playing.
39. Are your parents still alive? Yes.
40. Do you like camping? I’ve only been camping a couple of times and felt so glad to be back home afterwards! I’m so not an outside person.

End of the Year Book Tag

I saw this on Saucers and Sorcery and this tag was originally created by Ariel Bissett.

Anyways, enjoy.


  1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which I have set a goal of trying to finish by the end of the year.
  2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? No, I don’t really do seasonal reading.
  3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for? No, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to current authors and novels, although the next two books on my list are both from the 21st century, one of which won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I’ve mainly been focusing on older books from my Book Bucket List.
  4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? Honestly, The Fountainhead is the only one, and I tend to read only one book at a time.
  5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year? No, Catching Fire did a pretty good job of that for my 2018 reads.
  6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2019? I’ve decided I definitely want three books in my collection if I get Christmas money and have enough to buy books: Mockingjay, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Slaughterhouse-Five. I’d also like to add Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and revisit both Animal Farm by George Orwell and Anthem by Ayn Rand (both of which we studied my freshman year of high school but I don’t really remember reading). We’ll see if I actually get the funds to do so. If not, I still have two physical books in my backlog and somewhere around 28-30 novels in my e-reader to go to (some of them public domain classic novels and others I bought with a gift card, several of them when they were marked way down in the Apple Books store).

If you liked this tag, feel free to copy and fill in your own responses.

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 22-30

Welcome to the final post on my take on the 30 Days of Music Challenge, inspired by Mr Knitter!  This post covers the final 9 posts of the challenge, and you can check out the day-by-day version on my Tumblr page, as well as all the other crazy stuff I tend to post on Tumblr.

Okay, here it goes…

Day 22: Song with a Number in the Title

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor

This song is most closely associated with Sinéad O’Connor, whose version became a #1 hit here in the United States, but its origins (and its quirky title) actually lie with the dearly departed and legendary Prince.  Prince, who wrote this song, was well known for using numbers and letters in his song titles (a couple examples being “I Would Die 4 U” and “1999”), and this was no exception.  Sadly, the controversy surrounding her Saturday Night Live performance in which she tore up a photo of then-Pope John Paul II as a protest against sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church (years before the allegations became widespread and accepted as common knowledge) derailed a promising career for her in the States, but this song remains one of the biggest and most-celebrated songs of the 1990s.

Day 23: A Summertime Song

“Cruel Summer” by Bananarama

Most summertime songs are supposed to sound happy and cheerful.  This one is not so happy and cheerful.  It’s one of a handful of summer songs written in a minor key, and I quite like the minor keys. (C-sharp Minor, if  I’m not mistaken.)

Day 24: A Favorite Rock ‘n Roll Artist

“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin

I’ve talked a bit about my love of Queen on here, but Led Zeppelin is another favorite rock band of mine.  I love pretty much all of Led Zeppelin IV, and this song is no exception.  Just a classic song from a classic album.

Day 25: Favorite Old Country Artist

“Jolene” by Dolly Parton

I don’t listen to a whole lot of country music, but I actually don’t mind Dolly Parton.  I just admire how much moxie this girl who grew up poor in the mountain country in Tennessee had to get out there and share her songs with the world.  She’s legendary as both a singer and a songwriter.  What’s not to like about her?

Day 26: Favorite New Country Artist

“That Don’t Impress Me Much” (Shania Twain)

I’ll be honest with you: 1. I don’t really listen to any current country music, and 2. I initially wanted to put a Garth Brooks song on here, as he is one of the few country artists I actually get excited about.  Unfortunately, Garth Brooks is practically impossible to find on YouTube (I think because he has an exclusive deal with Amazon for streaming his music), so I went with my second-favorite here.  Shania was a pretty big deal here in the 1990s.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times we had her album Come On Over playing on repeat as a tween and teen.  I just found out she’s releasing her first album of new music in about 15 years pretty soon and that she’ll be touring, too.  I’m glad to hear, after her various personal events (that included a cheating husband who cheated with her best friend, a divorce from said cheating husband, remarrying to the former best friend’s now-ex-husband, dealing with vocal problems, stage fright, and Lyme disease) that she’s finally getting back to her music and I hope she does well in her comeback.

Day 27: A Song That Moves You Forward

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

I must admit: I love disco.  How can you move on from whatever crap has affected you in your life and not include this song?  It’s both a dance classic and an inspirational song!  Not a lot of those.

Day 28: Newest Song Introduced to You This Year

“Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles

Well, I don’t think it was introduced to me, but it’s a new song, so in my mind it qualifies.  I remember watching Harry and the rest of One Direction competing on the British version of The X Factor, and I always thought Liam Payne was gonna be the breakout member of the group (since he usually got the first vocal in almost all their competition performances), but Harry was memorable to me because he looked just like a guy by the name of Lee Mead, who had won a musical competition show a few years earlier called Any Dream Will Do, which sought to cast a Joseph for a West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  So I usually referred to Harry as “Mini Mead” (a pun on the Austin Powers trilogy character Mini-Me).  I was surprised that Harry ended up getting the most fan attention in 1D.  Me, personally, I did listen to some of their music when it would come on the radio, but my days of being an obsessive boy band fan are long behind me, so it was more of a polite admiration for me.  When 1D went on hiatus, well having already heard former member Zayn Malik’s #1 hit “Pillowtalk” (and actually liking it), I got a bit intrigued about what kind of stuff the other members would put out in their solo efforts.  Niall’s debut was pretty cool and unexpected.  Louis and Liam’s debuts were just okay.  Harry’s was…surprisingly good.  I quite liked the Bowie-esque influence in the overall arrangement of this song.  I did not expect the glam rock influence, but it surprisingly worked.  And a ballad, at that.  I wish him well in his solo career.

Day 29: First Song You Heard Today

“Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry

I kid you not, this was the song playing on the radio when I woke up one morning.  I think the station was doing a “Flashback Friday” playlist that morning.  It’s a fun ’80s song, and I think she and her half-brother Eagle Eye Cherry (the biological son of her adoptive father, Don Cherry) are the only brother and sister to have separate hit songs considered “one-hit wonders” in the United States (Eagle Eye had a Top 40 hit here in the late ’90s called “Save Tonight”, over a decade after Neneh had her one hit over here).

Day 30: Last Song You Heard on the Radio

“Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle

When we’re riding in Dad’s truck, he normally has NASCAR Radio (a sports talk radio station devoted to everything NASCAR) playing, so we don’t hear a lot of music playing unless we’re on a long drive.  This is the most recent song I remember playing on the truck’s radio.  It’s a song about a man telling the story of his grandfather and father as moonshiners and them dealing with the law.  Then, when he tells his own part of the story, the narrator volunteers to fight in Vietnam (“…they draft the white trash first ’round here anyway…”).  After returning, he takes some seeds he acquired while he was out of the country and starts growing marijuana near the title road, essentially doing what his moonshiner relatives did, but with marijuana instead of moonshine.  This song also has a mandolin riff (played by Earle himself), a thumping bass drum, and driving guitar power chords, the latter two being unusual features in a song that is otherwise an example of the country and bluegrass genres.

And there you have it: 30 Days of Music!  It was fun coming up with these songs (but a bit of a pain in the butt to draft, schedule, and publish).  If anybody else is inspired to do this, go right ahead!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 15-21

Here are days 15-21 of the 30 Days of Music Challenge I’m doing, thanks to Mr Knitter!  You can also watch the day-by-day version play out on my Tumblr page, but be warned: you may come across some adult language in my posts there (almost all the posts themselves are SFW, though).

Day 15: Favorite Song with a Person’s Name

“Jane” by Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Airplane usually gets most of the credit in influence, but its successor band, Jefferson Starship, had quite a few hits and memorable songs in its own right.  This song showcases the vocals of its then-new vocalist, Mickey Thomas, who had previously sung with Elvin Bishop’s band (and is in fact the singer heard on the guitarist Bishop’s biggest pop hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”).  Thomas, after a lengthy legal dispute with Paul Kantner, became the co-lead singer (along with Grace Slick) to this band’s successor band, Starship in the 1980s, when they had their greatest pop hits from any incarnation of Jefferson Airplane, including three number ones: “Sara”, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, and the oft-mocked “We Built This City”.

Day 16: Song About Drugs & Alcohol

“House Rent Blues/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers

There are so many great rock songs about drugs and/or alcohol (“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton immediately comes to mind), but this one is immediately memorable because of George Thorogood’s gravelly voice.  The first part of the song details the narrator’s troubles in paying his rent, and after his landlady kicks him out, he finds himself at his favorite bar, continuously ordering the title trio of drinks: one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.  Only the last call ends his odyssey in getting drunk, getting high, and getting loose.  “Bad to the Bone” was Thorogood’s biggest hit, but this pair of songs remains on the song list of classic rock stations everywhere.

Day 17: A Song with Meaning to You

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

You may have seen me reference Harry Chapin in relation to my dad in a previous entry.  Well, if Harry Chapin makes me think of my dad, then Fleetwood Mac makes me think of my mom.  My mom loves Stevie Nicks and the sound of her voice.  This song, “Landslide”, is my mom’s favorite song.  Whenever she hears it, it immediately makes her face light up.  These last few years have not been easy on her.  I prefer to keep the exact details of her condition private at this time, but she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease last year (only my closest friends know the exact details), and I basically am the one caring for her, especially when my dad is away at work.  It hasn’t been easy, and at times it tests me, but at least I am getting time with her.  It is gonna hurt me beyond belief the day she eventually leaves this planet, but this song is a way for me to connect with her.  And I hope she can keep this song with her as long as she possibly can.  (/sad)

Day 18: Song from an Artist No Longer Living

“Fashion” by David Bowie

Bowie had a lot of legendary songs in his catalog, but I absolutely love this one.  It’s got a bit of a funk/disco rhythm to it (but was released in the early 1980s), and is just so much fun to listen to.  And of course, the line “We are the Goon Squad and we’re comin’ to town…beep beep” gets me every time.

Day 19: Song You Would Play at Your Wedding

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys

I’m about as nonreligious as they get, so I’m not picking it for the reference to the deity in the title, but more for the overall lyrics and that beautiful baroque pop sound.  It is one of the great enduring love songs of the pop era, and a legendary piece in the Beach Boys’ catalog (only “Good Vibrations” is a better song, in my opinion).  This instrumental version by the Vitamin String Quartet would make a lovely recessional piece to play if I ever get married.

Day 20: Song You Would Play at Your Funeral

“Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

I’ve been a longtime fan of classic rock music, and that includes genres like hard rock, early heavy metal, and Southern rock (which, for those of you outside the United States, is a subgenre of rock music that originated in the Southeastern U.S. that is best described as hard rock music combined with influences from country, blues, and gospel).  This song sounds more like a fond farewell than the band’s other goodbye song, “Freebird”, which I interpret as more of a heartbreaking goodbye than the sad, but wistful vibe conveyed in “Tuesday’s Gone”.

Day 21: Song with a Color in the Title

“Blue Monday” by New Order

I only discovered this song relatively recently.  I quite like its unusual structure as a song: no discernable chorus, barely discernable verses, and a very monotonous vocal.  It’s very unusual for a pop song.  The hook is very catchy, and is quite a gem from the New Wave era.

Stay tuned for Days 22-30!

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!