Friday, July 29, 2011

Mug of the Day - 29 July

The kings and queens of Scotland.  Educational!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mug of the Day - 28 July

Barcelona is one of my favourite mugs. I think it's so pretty.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pop Music Wars

I'm a fan of The Critical Condition, which has insightful and often very funny pop culture commentary.  And I'm a fan of pop music.  So, imagine my delight when those two things merged together in what I say, without hesitation, is THE GREATEST MUSICAL CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME!

I mean, really.  How can you not love this:
You will decide the winner in an epic match-up among the 64 best pop songs released since 1981.
I've very much enjoyed the first round of voting, although some of the choices have been tougher than I anticipated.  So, go and vote, and then come back and I'll tell you who I voted for and why.

Seriously, go and vote.

Right.  So, the first votes have been in the Joy Bomb category.  And the choices have been excellent.  Almost every song has made me want to get up and dance.

Game 1: Madonna's Like A Prayer vs Steve Winwood's Higher Love

Now, I won't lie to you.  Higher Love is a very good song.  It's happy.  It's very very catchy.  But, come on.  Like A Prayer is one of my all time favourite songs, ever.  And, I would say, one of the best pop songs ever.  It's also a great karaoke song.  This one was a total no brainer.  Like A Prayer all the way.

Game 2: Chumbawumba's Tubthumping vs Human League's Don't You Want Me

This is the first round in which a pattern started to emerge with my voting.  (I'll let you see if you can figure it out.) I like Don't You Want Me a lot.  I love story songs, especially duets.  I love 80s music, especially at its most synthesiser-tastic.  But there's just something about Tubthumping that makes me want to jump up out of my chair, start dancing and shouting along with the chorus.  I have such specific memories attached to this song, and it makes me smile every time I hear it.  Plus, both the band and the song are silly words, which is always pleasing.  Tubthumping for the win.

Game 3: Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) vs George Michael's Freedom 90

This one actually surprised me.  I'd have thought for sure it would be the Eurythmics all the way.  That song is a classic!  But then I listened to them both, and remembered just how much I like Freedom 90.  It's so catchy!  And that video!  (Which, I am aware, shouldn't factor into the decision, but it's iconic!)  And, comparing them back to back, I realised that, of the two songs, I think I prefer Freedom.  And so it won. (And so the pattern continues.)

Game 4:  The Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way vs Belinda Carlisle's Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Okay, this is where it gets a bit embarrassing. I may as well just come right out and admit it.  I love boy bands. I do, I can't help it.  The harmonies, the ballads, the dramatic key changes.  It all just hits me right in the cheesy music enjoyment target zone.  And I Want It That Way does all of those things so well!  It's like they took a "perfect boy band ballad" template and crafted this song.  And so, while I do like Belinda C, there was just no way that I could let her win.  Sorry Belinda.  Backstreet Boys it is.  (And, again with the pattern.)

Game 5:  Lady Gaga's Bad Romance vs Dolly Parton's 9 to 5

Well, this one wasn't even a contest.  I have no real strong feelings one way or the other for Lady Gaga, but I fucking love Dolly Parton. Love. Her. To. Bits.  Even though she would probably be mad at me right now for cursing.  Remember how I said I love story songs? 9 to 5 is the story song of every single person in the world who has ever had a job. The lyrics are amazing, the music is amazing, it all just works.  I love love love it.  Not even a question.  Dolly all the way. (This one is pattern free, for the record.)

Game 6:  Irene Cara's Flashdance (What A Feeling) vs Deee-Lite's Groove Is In The Heart

I think this was my toughest call.  I instinctively was thinking Flashdance.  I love that song.  It's on my iPod, and I smile every time it comes on.  But then I listened to Groove Is In The Heart again.  And, as a pop song?  It's amazing.  And ridiculous!  Which makes it even more amazing, because it shouldn't work.  It uses a slide whistle!  That is not an instrument that you generally find in your average pop song.  Yes, Flashdance is ridiculous in its own way, what with it's silly, silly lyrics.  But Groove Is In The Heart is just so fucking catchy.  Playing them back to back, I still had Deee-Lite in my head hours later.  And if that's not the sign of a great pop song, I don't know what is.  Deee-Lite it is. (And there's that pattern again!)

Game 7: Culture Club's Karma Chameleon vs Paula Abdul's Straight Up

Okay, I lied.  This was my toughest call.  Because I love both these songs.  Karma Chameleon is such a perfect encapsulation of its time and place.  It's just a wonderful song.  So catchy, and memorable.  But Straight Up?  Holy crap, 12 year old me loved that song so much that even considering voting against it is like a slap in the face to my early teen years.  I actually thought this song came out later than it did (1988, in case you were wondering, although it was on the Billboard charts in early 1989).  I associate it much more with the 90s than the 80s, for some reason.  Maybe because it feels more like the cheesy pop I was listening to in the early 90s?  I'm not sure.  But anyway, I love it, so it had to be Paula.

(Bonus Abdul fun: listen to Opposites Attract again sometime.  The lyrics are so delightfully dated!  Plus: animated cat duet!)

Game 8: Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone vs Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It

This was was the only match-up where I liked, but did not love, both of the songs.  I went with Tina Turner, because you know, she's Tina Turner.  She's a classic.  But I like these songs pretty equally, so it was a bit of a coin toss.

What I realised in my voting is that, although I love 80s music, it's not the music I listened to when I started listening to music.  It's the music I listened to ironically (but really did love) in the late 90s when I was at university.  But the music that I first listened to? I'm the oldest in my family, so I didn't grow up with an older sibling's music in the background.  The music I first listened to on my own was the music of the early 90s.  And a pattern definitely started to emerge as I pretty much picked 90s songs over 80s songs every time.

And, I have to say, that surprised me a little.

Next: the Deep Feelings division.  I can't talk about that just yet.  Time After Time against Total Eclipse of the Heart?  I think that Sophie's Choice was actually about this decision.  So difficult!

Mug of the Day - 26 July

In honour of my upcoming Skype chat this evening with my California based friend, I give you San Francisco.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mug of the Day - 25 July

It was surprisingly hard to find an attractive mug in Istanbul.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Okay, Not Such A Great Start

Well, that didn't go so well, did it?

Only one day in to my big plan, and I forgot to post anything yesterday.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I remembered, but at such a time that I couldn't really do anything about it.  And then when I got home from my friend's leaving do, I was a bit drunk and tired, and completely forgot.

So, take two!

I'm currently debating whether or not to be productive today.  There are lots of things I could be doing.  Or, I could finish re-reading the fifth Harry Potter book.  I'm re-reading them all after seeing the final movie, to remind myself how much better the books are compared to the movies.  But that's always the case, isn't it?  I can't think of any film version I've seen that's actually been better than the movie version.

I actually try to avoid seeing films if I've read the book.  I saw that Will Smith movie, I Am Legend, and I spent the entire last third on pins and needles wondering when the big reveal was going to come that the woman and kid staying with him were actually zombies, in disguise and infiltrating his home to lure him out to be captured.  Because that's what happens in the book!  (Oh, sorry.  Spoiler alert for a 57 year old book!)

Only it never happened.  And the movie has a happy(ish) ending!  The book ending is way better.  Much, much, much darker.  Probably too dark for audiences of a Will Smith movie.  But way better.

I probably won't be productive today.  I have the whole week for that kind of nonsense.  And it's sunny.  So, today's version of productiveness will be to lie out in my sunny garden, and read the most whiny and annoying of all the Harry Potter books.

Seriously, could he be more of a whiny baby?  Or a more accurate representation of a fifteen year old?  Or could practically any given teenager be more of a whiny baby?

Man, I do not miss being fifteen.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mid-Year Resolution

I've set myself a mid-year resolution.

I know a lot of people go in for those new-fangled "New Years Resolutions", but I say those are for suckers.  It's right after Christmas, you're all exhausted from spending time with your family, fat from eating chocoalate for weeks on end, and hungover from weeks of binge holiday drinking.  Are you really in the right frame of mind to make any decisions about your life? I think not.

But mid-July! Now, that's a different story.  It's sunny (theoretically), it's warm (theoretically), you're full of the joys of summertime (theoretically).  Never mind that it's been raining for the last six weeks basically non-stop, and you're thinking about building an ark in your garden.  It's summer!  And that is the time when you should be making resolutions.

So, my resolution is this:  I am going to remember that I have a blog, and that I like writing on it.  And, every day for the next 30 days, I am going to write something and post it.

That's it.  Nothing fancy or earth shattering.  But I think it will be really good for me.  And good for you!  Because you'll get to read it!  Don't you feel lucky??

So, feel free to check back in.  I plan to be here.

Mug of the Day - 22 July

I heart New York.