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That was not fun while it lasted

The other night, I got it in my head that I was going to try to find a vinyl copy of Crowded House’s 1991 album Woodface.  It’s one of those albums, like so many 90s albums, that is not easy to find on vinyl since by that point, most labels weren’t bothering to produce vinyl copies of albums any longer.  It’s insanely expensive on Amazon ($125) and only slightly less expensive on Discogs ($68, but you have to pay to ship it from Spain, which practically doubles the price of the album.)  So I went looking where I hardly ever look – eBay.

I used to be a big eBay guy back in the late 90s, back when it was loaded with bootleg CDs by my favorite artists. But then along came Napster and the bottom fell out of the bootleg market and I mostly abandoned eBay. Even if it hadn’t been that, I was pretty close to quitting eBay altogether because I hate the concept of an auction. The bidding war frenzy of an auction’s final moments drove me to drink and really, how many of those times was it the seller’s friends trying to artificially drive the price up?  I lost so many auctions in the last seconds that I found myself more frustrated than anything.  I’d actually rather pay a little bit more for something and buy it outright rather than dealing with that foolishness.

When I went to eBay, I saw Woodface for $8.99, and only $4 shipping.  I couldn’t resist.

I originally put in a max bid of $30, but then Heidi told me that I should go with what you’d be willing to pay + about $5 so that when it sailed past that point, you didn’t feel the need to go and rebid over and over until you’re so much higher than you ever expected to be.  You have to balance what you’re willing to pay with paying just slightly more than what would make you sick.  So I upped my max bid to $45.

It only took about a half hour for this to happen.

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It was at this point that I was reminded all over again why I hate eBay.

I just checked and it’s still stuck at $46, but I’m not going to bid anymore.  There’s a buy-it-now copy for about $49, but it’s in the UK, so it’ll cost around $22 to ship.

Buying vinyl online is easy for the most part, but nothing beats digging through crates trying to find stuff. And I almost hope that’s how I find Woodface – some random afternoon when I’m totally not expecting to find it.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Music

 

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What’s up?

It always bothered me that the name of that 4 Non Blondes song is “What’s Up?” and not “What’s Goin’ On?”  Do they actually say “what’s up?” at any point in the song.  Anyway, here’s what’s been going on with me these days.

  • Got back from a trip to Washington, D.C. this week. I finally met up with the always fantastic @xolondon while I was there after 7 years of e-mails and Twitter exchanges.  He holds the honor of being the one to really break me on Hard Candy.  Henceforth, it shall be known as the Stale Candy.  We hit many monuments and museums and did A LOT of walking.  According to the pedometer app on my phone, I walked 50 miles during the time I was there – 10.2 miles on the first day alone! My parents came along as well and that was fun, and it was especially fun to take Anna to D.C. when she was old enough to appreciate it but before she was old enough to turn up the exasperation to 10 and say “ugh, family vacation!”  This was my favorite photo I took while there.  It was at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall.  My dad found the names of several friends that died in Vietnam, and Anna helped him out.

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  • We lost our cat of nearly 10 years, Sidney, this week to the trifecta of cardiomegaly, hyperthyroidism and end stage renal disease. It was sad to let him go – he was a cat that loved to be spanked and never missed a basket of unfolded laundry.  Under normal circumstances, we probably would have a new cat already since our house abhors a cat vacuum (and only in our house can there be 3 cats in a cat vacuum), but that’s just not in the cards this week because …
  • Heidi heads under the knife next week – total abdominal hysterectomy and salpingo-oopherectomy, as well as the excision of a large amount of endometrial tissue – and while she will take a while recovering from that, we are cautiously optimistic that this may very well be the answer to health questions that have plagued her for nearly a decade.  Tonight while I was doing the dishes, the Tracey Thorn song “Hormones” came on. It always gets me whenever I listen to it – I’m hard pressed to think of a better song about parenting a teenage girl than that one, but it has extra meaning with Heidi’s upcoming surgery.
  • The title may be the most pretentious thing I’ve heard in forever, but Me…I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse contains not one but TWO great Mariah songs.  This is great Mariah songs than there have been in the last several years.  Check out “Meteorite” and “You Don’t Know What To Do.”  The latter would be better without the rapper, but Mariah is always ruining her songs with dumb rappers.
  • For some reason, I’m 42 years old and I’m breaking out like I’m in high school.  This graphic I saw online summed up my feelings perfectly.2nd-puberty

That’s about all I have. I have some ideas for upcoming posts.  Let’s see if my life cooperates.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in update

 

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Too much new Kylie?

Kylie-Minogue-Crystallize-2014I’ll admit that I don’t think Kylie Minogue has a clue what she’s doing with the promo for her latest record, Kiss Me Once.  It all started out rather traditionally, with lead single “Into The Blue” and its accompanying video.  But then it seemed to go off the rails a bit with a video for non-single “Sexercise” followed by a truly abysmal video for actual single “I Was Gonna Cancel.”  Also, gone is the Kylie from 2010 that was performing “Get Outta My Way” on any American TV show that would have her.  The lack of promo for the album is just stunning.  It’s almost as if she’s taking a page from Madonna’s book and counting on the tour to be promo enough for the album. She may want to ask Madonna how that worked out for MDNA (although I highly doubt Madonna cares as she is rolling in dough from that tour regardless of how poorly the album sold.)  It’s too bad because the album, while certainly no Aphrodite, is more than capable. It’s a bit more slipshod of an affair, lacking in focus, but there’s still plenty of Kylie fun to be had.

And then, as if we weren’t confused enough, she goes and releases a non-album charity single “Crystallize.”


Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t really a complaint. I’m always glad when there’s new Kylie, regardless of the circumstances. It’s just that she seems to be quite unfocused in her promotion right now, as if the album is played out even though the tour doesn’t start till late summer. It’s also not a complaint because honestly, “Crystallize” is probably better than 80% of Kiss Me Once.  It is almost guaranteed a place on my year-end list.  At once classic Kylie as well as a Kylie for 2014, it does everything right. It gets in and out in just over 3 minutes, has a hooky pop chorus and is swirly Kylie awesomeness.  I wonder how different the Kiss Me Once campaign would have played out with “Crystallize” as the first single.

This is clearly a first world problem as there is no such thing as too much Kylie. Her music makes me happy like few other artists, because she seems so genuine. Whereas an artist like Madonna seems a bit begrudging in her fame, Kylie still seems to be a bit flummoxed by the fact that people like her music, even all these years later.  She was a truly gracious live performer, and one with a much stronger live voice than I expected.

Still, I think a little more focus and a little less judging on The Voice would go a long way.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Music

 

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I ain’t afraid of no ghost

On Record Store Day this year, a combination of me forgetting about it in my single-minded quest for Dolly Parton’s “Blue Smoke” blue vinyl 7″ single and my local record store not getting any in stock, I completely missed out on the 30th anniversary 10-inch single of Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.” I remember liking the song a lot as a kid in 1984 – it was the summer I turned 12 and my attention was shifting toward pop music other than that recorded by one Olivia Newton-John – but in hindsight, it’s kind of a gimmicky song that, much like Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” was one of those soundtrack songs that was bound and determined to have the name of its accompanying movie in the title, come hell or high water.  I hadn’t listened to it in years. Until tonight.  I brought it up on Spotify and was once again reminded of it’s amazing 80s cheese, which is said, of course, with humility and love.

Still, I was sad to have missed out on the Record Store Day release.  The day after, it showed up on eBay in the $80 to $100 range – a massively inflated price over what it retailed for.  I had kind of resigned myself to never getting it.  But then, a friend of mine on Twitter (who I recently also connected with on Facebook) brought to my attention that it was for sale in the Ghostbusters store.  Not only that, it was bundled with a T-shirt for a pretty decent price of $32.99.

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Oh, and did I mention that the record is GLOW IN THE DARK vinyl?  Because it is.  To me, that’s the real draw.

I’m kind of to the point with T-shirts where I should get rid of one for every new one that I get.  But that’s a pretty iconic print and well, I can always use more shirts, right?

Truth be told, the thing that makes me happiest about this being available for a reasonable price is that the bottom just dropped out of the market for all those who bought it on RSD and then tried to sell it at an astronomical price on eBay. Take that, you dirty bastards.  It may not have a RSD label on it, but I guess I don’t really care all that much about that.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Mix CD Redux: Dan’s Very First Mix

To paraphrase 10,000 Maniacs – it’s been such a long time since my blogging days.  I’ve been trying to think of a way to break back in, but a combination of a zillion little things and some very big things have kept me from blogging pretty much at all.  The longer I was away from it, the more it seemed like maybe I should just say to heck with it. But no – I haven’t carried on for as long as I have to quit now.  So I decided to resurrect the Mix CD Redux feature – they’re always guaranteed to be interesting (at least to me) and Lord knows I have enough of the damn things that I haven’t done a post on yet.  Today, I decided to go back to where it all began – Dan’s Very First Mix.

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I got my first CD burner in the post-Christmas season of 1999.  It was only a 2x, but it was a CD burner.  This was something I had dreamed about for most of the 90s.  If only I could burn my own CDs in the way I made mix tapes, I would be so happy.  The arrival of CD burning technology for the masses happened almost simultaneously with the file-sharing revolution and suddenly, all these songs that I was looking for and resigning myself to having to buy a full CD to get one song were at my fingertips.

That said, none of the songs that are on Dan’s Very First Mix were acquired through Napster.  Some were from library CDs, others from my own CDs.  A couple came from a CDs a friend loaned me. Songs that were acquired from the Internet were found the old fashioned way – typing the song title + mp3 into Alta Vista and hoping that someone somewhere was hosting an mp3 of the song you were looking for on a server in the vastness of cyberspace.  Most of the time, the links you found were dead, but every now and again, you got lucky.  I distinctly remember that’s how I acquired the El Debarge song “Who’s Johnny?” and why it didn’t end up on this CD is a damn good question.

Some thoughts on the songs:

  • I feel like the Celine Dion songs on this CD were from the golden age of Celine.  The white-hot fame of Falling Into You was starting to fade, but she could still generate hits.  “That’s The Way It Is” is in my top 5 favorite Celine Dion songs. Incidentally, I’m only slightly disturbed by the fact that I have bothered ranking Celine Dion songs.  And the dance remix of the ubiquitous “My Heart Will Go On” was one of those highly sought after import-only remixes that a year earlier I would have, without question, found the import CD-single and purchased it.  I only feel a little bit bad that I didn’t pay for it as certainly Celine has gotten enough of my money, but the fact that you still can’t buy the dance version digitally 17 years later shows just how much the record company missed the boat (no pun intended.)  Of note, although you can’t buy the dance remix, you can buy the incredibly tacky “dialogue version” on iTunes.
  • I remember hearing Santana’s “Smooth” in a movie theater while waiting to watch The Sixth Sense.  I remember liking it enough and thinking “too bad I’ll never hear that song again.”  Famous last words.
  • You can see my CD mixing skills needed some work – two Pet Shop Boys songs, two Celine Dion songs, two Diana Ross songs.  Surely I could have had a better representation of artists.
  • Samantha Fox has long been one of those artists singers acts that I’ve been more fond of than I should be.  The mere fact that she had more than one hit record is astounding to me, but “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” is an old favorite and, at the time, the Full Force Naughty House Mix (abbreviated FFN Mix here) was all I could find.  It works, but it lacks the punch of the original, mostly because it carries on for too long.  Eventually, I downloaded the original single version from Napster.  I justified it by the fact that I had spent $1.49 at Pamida on the 45 back in the day.
  • I wrote all about “You Gotta Be” back when I was blogging a song-a-day back in November of 2013. *sigh* Daily blogging.
  • The best Deep Blue Something story I have is from back when “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” was popular, I asked my sister who sang it and she said “Deep Blue Something.”  I just assumed she didn’t know the rest of the band’s name.
  • Finally, “The Goonies R Good Enough” – one of those songs that Cyndi Lauper hated, refusing to perform live and banishing from best-of collections.  I can’t imagine that she likes it much more now, but she did sing it the other night when she opened for Cher.  I had always suspected that the title “The Goonies R Good Enough” was record company shenanigans hearkening back to when soundtrack songs had to mention the title of the movie and Wikipedia confirms this suspicion.  I’m glad that she’s gotten over herself and is singing it live now.  If only one of her contemporaries could be bothered to do that with some of her old songs.

This was fun.  I will be doing this again.  I knew I just needed a jump start.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Mix CDs, Music

 

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Intexticated

Screen-Shot-2013-08-12-at-7.01.17-PM-600x369I watched a short documentary on texting and driving last night on Netflix called From One Second To The Next.  I’m always on the lookout for interesting new documentaries to watch and the subject is a timely one considering how many people have cell phones and insist that they are completely capable of driving safely.  The fact that it was only 34 minutes long also was a draw.  In the end, I wish it had been longer because it was completely fascinating and heartbreaking.

The documentary profiles four different car accidents that resulted from texting and driving.  In most cases, the texters are interviewed as well as the victims (if they survived) and their families.  As the title of the film suggests, all of these people’s lives were irrevocably altered in one second.  Some lives ended, some wished their lives had ended. Some have enormous amounts of unresolved anger, others have channeled that anger into something more productive and, in one case, something very surprising.

I know that I’ve been guilty of thinking I can text on my phone while I’m driving, even though it’s illegal in Iowa to do it.  Even before I watched From One Second To The Next, I realized that even by interacting with my phone while I’m behind the wheel of a car, I’m more distracted than even I know.  The statistics state that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving after drinking 4 beers and that you’re 23 times more likely to cause an accident.

But all the statistics in the world don’t really seem to connect to people. These real life stories did.  These people didn’t wake up that morning intending to kill someone or change their lives forever, but they did. It really made me think about how I use my phone when I’m driving.  I had already been mostly ignoring text messages while I drive, and I don’t really talk on my phone that much anyway.  After watching this, my phone goes away when I’m driving.  All that is just not that important.  And if it is that important, I have to make the time to pull over and not endanger my own life and the lives of those on the road with me.

As it turns out, you don’t even need Netflix to watch this documentary.  It’s on YouTube and I’ve embedded it below.  It should be required viewing for all teen drivers and anyone who thinks that they can text, web surf or, frankly, talk on their phone while driving.  It’s just not worth it.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Movies, Serious thoughts

 

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The moves and the motion

Madonna+-+Causing+A+Commotion+-+Injection+Moulded+&+Paper+Sleeve+-+7"+RECORD-5332Last night while I was doing the dishes, I was listening to my Old Favorites playlist and the Madonna oldie “Causing A Commotion” came up.  It’s one of those huge Madonna hits that I think has kind of been forgotten about.  Even as an uber-Madonna fan, I still forget about it.  But I really think it deserves to be revisited and remembered as one of her classic songs, even if it was a reject from the True Blue sessions.

The first time I heard the song, I didn’t even know what it was. MTV was broadcasting a performance from Madonna’s Who’s That Girl tour via satellite from Miami.  The song hadn’t even been released yet, so no one knew it.  The only lines I recognized were “get into the groove” which made me think that maybe it was “Into The Groove” but the words were all wrong and, well, clearly it wasn’t “Into The Groove.”  I can’t even remember if they told us that night what the name of the song was – they must have because I would imagine they wanted all the fans tuned in that night to know what they were listening to.  When Madonna got around to releasing it as a single, I remember being very concerned that it would break her streak of top 10 hits (I am now convinced I lived a charmed life if that was something I wasted time worrying about.)  That worrying was for naught because it was one of Madonna’s many songs to stall out at #2 on the Billboard chart, this time blocked by Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

There was a girl I knew in high school who really latched on to the phrase “causing a commotion.”  I remember she signed my yearbook with some turn of the phrase like “U will B Causing a Commotion this Year!”  If I recall correctly, I think she used that same phrase when she wrote on the back of the senior picture she gave me.  It makes me think that maybe she couldn’t think of anything to write and just resorted to something safe.  My Madonna fandom was pretty legendary in my high school so it was always pretty easy to invoke her name on things like that.  Even then, I wore my fandom on my sleeve.

While the success of the song owes a lot to Stephen Bray’s production, what makes “Causing A Commotion” so fantastic is the bridge.  Most of Madonna’s most memorable songs have amazing bridges (“Like A Prayer”, and while I wouldn’t quite qualify “Causing A Commotion”‘s bridge as “amazing” it more than gets the job done. The simplicity of the lyrics belies how deftly the bridge brings the whole song together.

I hope you find what you’re looking for
Is it mine? Walk through that door
We’re wasting time, make up your mind
And get into the groove.

Madonna hasn’t performed it live in nearly 25 years – wouldn’t THAT be a trip to see her perform it live now?  Somehow, I don’t see her trotting it out now as she probably considers it to be one of her “stupid songs.”  The first bootleg live Madonna CD I ever purchased was “Sexual Exposure” – a recording of the Blond Ambition Tour in London that was simulcast on radio.  It was a fairly good performance as her voice hadn’t been shredded beyond belief like it was by the time she got to the end of the tour, but for some reason or another, the recording was slowed down just enough to be noticeable.  I always referred to it as the geriatric live remix.  A friend of mine at the time cleverly changed the lyrics of “Causing A Commotion” from “if we got together/we’d be causing a commotion” to “wow, she is singing this song/oh, in way slow-motion.”  It was the truth.

A couple summers ago, this bootleg mash-up of “Causing A Commotion” with Chromeo’s “Night By Night” appeared and it got significant play on my iPod.

I’ll close today with the live version of “Causing A Commotion” from the Blond Ambition Tour – not the version I mentioned earlier, but rather, from Yokohama, Japan.  Even though her vocals are not the greatest, I almost prefer it to her enhanced live vocals these days.

Go forth and cause a commotion.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Life stories, Madonna, Music

 

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