The anti Jack Sprat

Jack_Sprat.jpgSometimes I wish that I was one of those people with depression that when they were depressed, they had no appetite and ate nothing at all. I’m quite the opposite, eating everything in sight trying to fill a void that can’t possibly be filled. I just stepped on the scale and I know it’s the end of the day and you should never do that but I am at an all time high for weight. This has got to stop.

The trouble is that when I’m struggling, like I am now, I think that eating things that taste good will make me feel better. It’s not true and never has been true. It’s just a self fulfilling prophecy really. I eat a lot to try to feel better, then I end up gaining weight which gives me more ammunition to feel bad about myself.  It’s so bad right now I don’t even pretend like I’m being good because I’m totally not.

But I have to try to find a way to, as Cher would say, snap out of it. It’s not good for my physical health or mental health. I can feel my pants not fitting right, all of my T-shirts are just a little too tight. I guess I’ll have to up my exercise game, but I don’t feel well enough to do that.

Excuses, excuses I guess.

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A second chance

300x300.jpgBen Rector’s “Brand New” made my best-of 2016 compilation and has been a favorite of mine ever since.  I discovered it back in January of 2016 and found out about it only because Bandsintown app was recommending his Des Moines concert to me.  I tossed around the idea of going to the concert, but I couldn’t really justify it because I didn’t know that many songs and it was general admission and even though I go to a lot of general admission shows, I really don’t care for them all that much. At nearly 45, give me my damn seat.

Today I got another notification from Bandsintown that Ben Rector had announced a concert nearby – and when I say nearby, I mean EXTREMELY nearby. He’ll be at Iowa State University on August 23rd, which is about a mile from my house. Hell, I could walk there, but it’ll probably be so hot that I won’t want to.

Since he’ll be so close, I decided that I’m going to go this time. Based on the timing, it looks like it’s part of a “welcome back students” type thing, but who cares? I still don’t know many more of his songs than the Brand New album, but I have some time to change that.

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This one’s for me

I’ve been on a bit of an 80s Aretha Franklin kick tonight. Am I the only person on the face of planet Earth that remembers this song?

Released in 1986, it seemed weird to me that Aretha Franklin was still having pop hits. She seemed to be someone of a different time, but really, she was only in her 40s at the time this song was released. How ageist was 14 year-old Dan?!?

R-2633355-1367587042-4396.jpgStill, I kinda liked this song in spite of myself. It didn’t fare too well on the charts, missing the top 20 and I’m kinda surprised they don’t have a 7″ edit which takes out the slow beginning, but whatever. A little searching at Discogs shows that the version on the single was the same length as the album version. They did see fit to give it an extended remix which clocks in at almost 8 minutes and is a bit beyond my comprehension.

80s Aretha is actually pretty capable in hindsight. I mean, there was the smash duet with George Michael (which I naively thought was a the only way that Aretha could get a hit in the 80s.) But there was also the very good “Freeway of Love” from 1985’s Who’s Zoomin’ Who that holds up much better than you might expect, thanks in large part to Clarence Clemons’ saxophone contribution.

I actually bought “Jimmy Lee” from iTunes tonight – how quaint! – and I’m thinking of ordering the 7″ but I like the UK artwork better than the US artwork and getting singles from the UK is always so bittersweet because you pay more for shipping than you do for the actual record. I may get crazy and actually download the extended version of “Jimmy Lee.” (ETA: It totally takes out the slow beginning so it’s being purchased immediately.)

PS – I’m back bitches. And who knew it’d be with a post about Aretha Franklin? Certainly not me.


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Keeping anxiety at bay

I’m anxious about lots of things tonight. It’s been one of those kinds of days.

The only trouble is I’ve had more of those days lately than I’d really like to have.  I know that I’m always going to be an anxious person. There’s no changing that. What I can change is how I react to those anxious thoughts and feelings.  For lots of reasons, the strategies that I usually use to keep those thoughts and feelings under control have not worked as well as they usually do.

In many ways, I’d rather be depressed than anxious. They’re usually inseparable from each other, so I suppose I can’t have one without the other. I really can’t say that I have been depressed lately so much as I have had a lot of negative self-talk. Even earlier tonight I was working on this antimicrobial stewardship thing I’m trying to get certified in and I kept missing questions on the test at the end of one of the sections and I would say to myself “I am so stupid!” which is patently untrue but nevertheless, was the automatic response I had.

So it’s no wonder I’m drinking tonight. Liver enzyme test results be damned.

So in an attempt to keep anxiety at bay, here’s a list of some fun things.

  • Madonna’s “Gang Bang” and Jermaine Stewart’s “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” have aged better than you would expect.
  • I get new glasses this week.  They have shipped from Texas and are supposed to be here Saturday but I really want them to be here on Friday because I have that day off and I can’t wait to start wearing them. New glasses, new Dan so to speak.
  • Deborah Harry is going to be 72 and she still sounds as good as ever.

Something that is not so good is that I have a raft of journals from my college years that are password protected and I thought I knew the passwords but apparently for some of them I don’t.  Maybe on a night that I’m not drunk on the Valentine’s Day wine that Heidi bought for me, I’ll be able to remember them. Although a part of me thinks that perhaps they are better off forever sealed.


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Mix CD Redux: Dan’s Tres Excellente CD

Once upon a time, probably in the spring on 1998 right after Ray Of Light was released, I made a mix tape and I cleverly called it “Dan’s Tres Excellente Tape.” I remember Heidi making fun of it because there were some songs that she definitely looked over her glasses at, but we were newly married and so much in love that she tolerated them. When CD burning became a thing, I took to transferring a lot of my mix tapes to CD. The only trouble was the tapes were 90 minutes and the CDs were only 74 minutes long, cutting out over 15 minutes worth of music and up to 4-5 songs. The cuts were always brutal, but never moreso than they were in making “Dan’s Tres Excellente CD.” I wish I could remember the songs I cut.


Some thoughts:

  • Lots of duplicate artists – two Madonnas, two Loreena McKennitts, two Chers, two Mary Chapin Carpenters. I wonder if any of the songs I cut were a third selection from any of these artists or ones I should have kept in lieu of keeping a second by any of the previously mentioned artistts. But duplicate artists played well on mix tapes as long as you didn’t have them on the same side of the tape! CDs (and now, playlists) are much less forgiving.
  • I had completely forgotten about that Amanda Marshall song, “I’ll Be Okay.” It came from the soundtrack to My Best Friend’s Wedding and was a big favorite of ours at the time. We loved Amanda Marshall’s debut album so much and this song would have fit right in with that bunch. I’ll always think of the early years of our marriage when I listen to Amanda Marshall.
  • Heidi always turned up her nose at “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” but it is arguably the strongest song on the Grease soundtrack. I’ve always dug Stockard Channing’s portrayal of Rizzo – it’s surely the definitive performance for a generations of fans of the musical – and this song that she sings as rumors of her pregnancy swirl through Rydell High is a huge favorite of mine. It’s also home to one of my most infamous misheard lyrics. Actual lyric: I can feel and I can cry/A fact I’ll bet you never knew. What Dan heard: I can feel and I can cry/That dog bit you, you never knew.
  • This was the beginning of a big Pam Tillis obsession for me. I’m pretty sure that “Spilled Perfume” was my gateway into all things Pam. How was I supposed to resist a song that contains a lyric “there’s no use crying over spilled perfume”? Pam’s music is pretty cheesy but it was some of the best 90s country had to offer.
  • “Quittin’ Time” is such a college song for me. A song about the end of a romantic relationship, I remember applying it to any  number of platonic relationships I had at the time. A lot of that was my depression talking, but it doesn’t change that’s how I felt. You pretend and I pretend that everything is fine. And though we should be at an end, it’s so hard admittin’ when it’s quittin’ time. God I wasted a lot of college feeling like shit.
  • I LOVE “Trail of Broken Hearts.” It’s such a quintessential Cher song but no one knows it, not even a lot of fans. I can’t even describe why I like it so much. I guess it’s just something unique to me.
  • That goddamn Titanic song.
  • “Dante’s Prayer” is the best last song on a CD ever.

Anyway, if you want to listen to this mix, here’s a Spotify playlist. I recommend it as it’s “very great.”


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Scaling back on concerts

Last year, I famously went to 10 different concerts. I enjoyed each and every one of them, but by the end of the year, I have to admit that I was pretty exhausted. I love the thrill of going to a live show, be it an arena show or a smaller show in a general admission venue. It would have been different if I hadn’t had to travel for almost all of the shows – only a few were in Des Moines. As J.D. Salinger said, you can’t go on abusing the body, year in, year out – regardless of what you may think. And by the end of the year, I felt like my body had been through the wringer as far as traveling to concerts went.

Because of that – and some other things that I’ll get into – I’m seriously cutting back on concerts. It’s going to take something AMAZING to get me to go to more than the one that I have lined up for March. Honestly, my bucket list is getting pretty short. The only two bonafide bucket list artists that remain are Suzanne Vega and Pam Tillis, and I am pretty sure that Suzanne Vega will not be touring in 2017.  Anybody else is mostly a “would be fun” type thing. Not that I’m opposed to that – quite the contrary – but sometimes you just have to say no.

The fact that I bought at $2300 computer in a couple of weeks ago is probably the biggest reason that I will be saying no to more concerts this year. It’s hard to justify that AND the price of some of the shows. I really did need a new computer, my old one was a late 2011 model iMac and was barely limping along. The good thing was that it never gave me a single day’s worth of trouble in the 5 years that I had it, which is more than I can say for some of my PCs. The instant that I purchased it, I knew that meant fewer concerts.

I’m also really trying to pay down debt. I refinanced two different credit cards with Sofi this year and got it into one monthly payment that is lower interest and $200 less per month than I was paying before. I refinanced the house last fall to save another $200 per month. I can’t really justify putting concert tickets on credit cards that I have just paid off. It would be different if I had actually paid them off and not just refinanced them to a better interest rate and lower monthly payment. I still have to pay them off and the last damn thing I need is to pay Sofi AND the credit card companies.  That defeats the whole purpose. My student loans may be going away at the end of the year thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which will be nice, and I plan to put all that money on Sofi or the car to pay those down faster.

But perhaps the most important reason I want to cut back on concerts is I want to see people this year, not concerts. I would love to take a trip somewhere to see far flung friends – NYC or Washington, D.C.or Denver or Ottawa – I have friends in all these places that I haven’t seen in a long time and would love to see again.

However, I couldn’t say no to this “could be amazing, could be a train wreck” combination in Minneapolis in March.  It’s combining going to a concert with seeing people as there are five of us going to this show.  Given Ms. Carey’s New Year’s Eve meltdown in Times Square, it could be interesting. Still, I’m really looking forward to it, even though I have to drive to goddamn Minneapolis.


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More old favorites

I’ve written about my “Old Favorites” playlist before, so this blog post feels like cheating, but I have a really good reason to be blogging about it. For those that don’t know, my “Old Favorites” playlist is an iTunes smart playlist that my friend Matt came up with back before he switched to all streaming all the time. The criteria for a song to make the list is it hads to have been played more than 22 times, but not within the last 3 months.  I frequently ignore it and it gets huge and unwieldy, sometimes coming in at between 300 and 400 songs.  Well, I would like to present this picture as proof that it is not always that way.


It is down to 10 songs total after a few days of very diligent listening. Frankly, I don’t understand how I went 3 months without listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Boy Problems.”  But by the time I go to bed tonight, that playlist will be empty.  Perhaps it will populate with some new songs in the morning, and I’m sure that I’ll ignore it for another 6 months and then do the same thing all over again.

I’ve had to edit the playlist a lot since I first created it. The original minimum play count was 8, a laughably small number now.  That playlist would easily be a thousand songs with that kind of criteria.  I’ve toyed with making the time since last listen 6 months, but just haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet.  A change like that just delays the inevitable and doesn’t really change the dynamic of the playlist.

What I love about this playlist is how it reminds me of songs that have fallen off my radar. Many of these songs were once residents of another smart playlist “Dan’s Favorites” that you can see in my iTunes sidebar if you look closely.

I don’t know that I’ll ever completely throw over iTunes for Spotify, although I definitely go in phases as the binge listening in iTunes over the last few days demonstrates. And until Spotify adds play counts, it is woefully incomplete. I know that they have that data, they just need to show it to me!

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