Monday, February 27, 2012

Return Of The Upbeat...

Last week, I went out with some new friends. While the club scene really isn't my thing, the night did end up with a few positive points. One of which was a discussion I had where I took issue with the music that is played at clubs, including the one we went to that night. The end result of that conversation being that I promised to make a CD of what I call "good music" for them. This lead to an idea for me, and the reason for this post. See, back in the 90s, I was distressed by the amount of slow, sad music that was being released. So, I decided to create a series of CD which I dubbed "Upbeat Mix" that would have NO slow songs of any kind... EVER!! In working on the CD which I had promised to my friend, I decided to re-create this series!! Why? Well, I'm glad you asked.

The first series was really fun to make, and I listened to them all the time! But, as the years passed, the discs got damaged or went "missing". Also, I wasn't as careful back then at keeping records, so I didn't have a listing of what I put on the CDs so I couldn't remake them either. Plus, MP3s have made HUGE leaps forward in how well they reproduce sound. So, I figured, it would be awesome to restart the series from scratch, so to speak!! Thus Upbeat Mix: 2nd Series was born!!!

Here is the tracklist:

01) Mary J. Blige - Family Affair
02) Marc Anthony - I Need To Know (Miami Remix)
03) Nelson Polanco - Cana Dulce (Spanglish)
04) Usher Feat. Pitbull - DJ Got us Fallin' In Love
05) Finger Eleven - Paralyzer (Atlantic City Beats Lenny B. Radio Edit)
06) David Guetta - Night Of Your Life (Feat. Jennifer Hudson)
07) Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love (Moto Blanco Radio Edit)
08) Enrique Iglesias - Dirty Dancer (With Usher, Feat. Lil Wayne)
09) Pitbull - Rain Over Me (Feat. Marc Anthony)
10) David Guetta - Repeat (Feat. Jessie J)
11) Bananarama - Move In My Direction
12) Lionel Richie - Angel (Metro Mix)
13) Soluna - Bring It To Me
14) Ciara - Love Sex Magic (Original Version feat. Justin Timberlake)
15) Nikki Costa - Everybody Got Their Something
16) Jamelia - Superstar
17) Mis-Teeq - Scandalous
18) Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride (Crystal Method Remix)
19) My Darkest Days - Porn Star Dancing (Feat. Chad Kroger, Ludacris, and Zakk Wylde)
20) Nickelback - Shakin' Hands
21) AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long

Doesn't that list of songs just make you want to groove?? And I'm already working on the next disc in the series!! Very soon, I'll have the play list up for you to enjoy!!! What about you dear readers? What tunes make you want to get up and dance??

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Eighties Playlist....

When it comes to music, the 80s was a very bizarre decade. There were so many different styles of music that there isn't really a single defining trend for the decade. New Wave, Rock 'N' Roll, the birth of Rap, Pop, Michael Jackson (yes, he is his own category of music), etc... This diversity gives a nearly limitless trove of musical treasures to plunder for playlists, which makes creating playlists easier. At the same time, the diversity of music in the 80s also makes creating playlists difficult because it's exceedingly difficult to get a series of songs with a common theme or style.

I'm starting a new series of CDs/Playlists dedicated to my favorite 80s songs. I have creatively called this series: 80's CDs. Here is the first in the series:

 01 - Joey Scarbury - Believe It Or Not (Theme From The Greatest American Hero)
02 - John Parr - St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)
03 - John Farnham - Break The Ice
04 - The Breakfast Club - Drive My Car
05 - Roger Daltrey - Quicksilver Lightning
06 - Survivor - Burning Heart
07 - Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer
08 - ZZ Top - Legs
09 - Glenn Frey - The Heat Is On
10 - Stan Bush - Dare
11 - Dwight David - The Last Dragon
12 - Gloria Estefan - Conga
13 - Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science
14 - M/A/R/R/S - Pump Up The Volume
15 - Run DMC (Feat. Aerosmith) - Walk This Way
16 - Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
17 - George Michaeal - I Want Your Sex
18 - Kenny Loggins - Footloose

Awesome list, right? Are any of your favorites listed? Were there any songs you didn't know? What would YOU put on an 80s mix CD? Sound off in the comments!!

Welcome To The Show....

You may or may not know this, but it's that time of year again. The only reason that February is even tolerable to me: The Oscars!!! The last and biggest of the award shows and the one that get the most pomp & circumstance. It's also my favorite awards show. Now, I know that it's highly political and flawed. And usually the movies selected don't really represent what's popular, but given the popularity of the Twilight movies, I can see why the Oscars doesn't go with the popular choices.

But the reason I love the Oscars is because they pay respect to the Movies as a whole. Not just the current films, but the history of the movies as well. The Film Industry has a long and amazing history, and while the Oscars telecast can be a bit antiquated by modern awards standards, that history is worth exploring and re-living. Even if it is for just one night.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thoughts On... Responsibility

I was watching the latest ep of Tim Allen's new show "Last Man Standing". In the ep, there was an exploration of the idea of responsibility. Mostly from the perspective of the activities/things a person gives up when they become parents. The gist of the episode was that to be responsible your life had to be boring. Personally, I don't think that is true.

Now being responsible does mean sacrifice. It does mean thinking about the consequences of your actions for yourself and the people around you BEFORE you take said that action. Then you weigh the consequences of taking that action against the effect it will have on the people around/depending on you. If that effect is negative, you don't take that action. (Of course, this is operating under the theory that you actually care about the people depending on you.)

Here is the trick: not every action you take will have a negative effect on you or the people depending on you. And, you are not barred from having fun when you wish. You just have to be careful about what you do, and make sure the people depending on you are taken care of. Being responsible means that your fun doesn't negatively impact those who depend on you.

If you're a parent and want to go out, you hire a babysitter. Your child is taken care of, and you help someone make a little money. Now, there will be times you can't work around the consequences, and you'll have to say no to the things you want. But that isn't going to happen every time. If you plan ahead, it might not even happen most of the time. When it does happen, just remember the reasons why you need to say no: you care for a special someone, you need to keep your job, etc. These reasons will help you if your friends pressure you. And if they're really your friends and value you, they will respect your choice. Even if they don't like it. Depending on the class of friends you have, you may have to put up with some hazing, but they'll still respect your decision.

In the end, being responsible doesn't mean boring. It never did. It just means choosing your moments for fun carefully and planning the excitement into your life. You may lose some spontaneity, but you gain so much more. So please, be responsible but don't let that stop you from having fun!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Movie Review: Safe House

I walked in to Safe House expecting a spy movie with a little bit of complexity to the plot and great deal of action, along the lines of a Jason Bourne type of movie. Instead, I got the spy version of the first Terminator film and I LOVED IT!!! It was amazing. By the end of the film, I was almost as exhausted as the main characters.

The plot of the film is simple enough. A rogue agent, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), is brought into a CIA safe house for interrogation. When the safe house is attacked, the housekeeper, Matt Ryan (Ryan Reynolds), is forced to go on the run, with Frost in tow. The rest of the film is an almost never ending battle, where the opponents & type of battle changes, but the battle keeps going.

The beauty of an action oriented spy film is that the normal rules of an action movie don't apply. It's not the most badass person that wins, it's the person who has the most information and applies their intelligence in the best way possible. So in a movie like Safe House, it is essential to cast actors that can portray that kind of meta-level thinking that would be second nature to a spy. Casting Denzel Washington was nothing less than a master stroke on the part of director, Daniel Espinosa. When it comes to portraying intelligent characters on screen, Denzel is among my top 5 choices. And his performance in Safe House is a testament to that choice.

The surprise choice for me was Ryan Reynolds. When it comes to witty, sarcastic comedy, there is NO ONE better that Ryan Reynolds. And while that kind of wit demands a higher than average intelligence, I don't really think of him when it comes to dramatic or action based stories. The fact that he played so well in the film and held his own against Denzel on screen is a testament to the craft Reynolds has learned. His range is expanding and I'm looking forward to seeing his next dramatic role.

There isn't a way to discuss the plot without giving away key details, but the story is top notch. The film maintains a high level of intensity even as it switches from gun battles to car chases to verbal jousting and back. Espinosa's directing adds a depth to that intensity with the visceral nature of his shots. It makes the movie one HELL of a ride.

If you're looking for a heavy, character based, suspense thriller about the spy world, I would DEFINITELY recommend Safe House. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Anti-Valentine's Day CD 2012

Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls... Dying time's here!!! That's right, it's that time of year again: National Singles Awareness day. The day when we all recognize and become hyper aware of just how single we are. Everyone else calls it "Valentine's Day", but I really can't see how the anniversary of the beheading of a priest is the day to celebrate love. Actually, now that I come to think of it... that's actually a pretty good representation of love. I can actually see it now: the classic guillotine with the decapitated priest laying at its foundation. Cool...

I've stated in my previous posts that my issues with Valentine's Day stem from the fact that love is not accurately represented. There are some exceptionally violent expressions of love out there. It's not just chocolates, flowers, and cards. Given that violence, the beheading of a priest serves as an apt image for the fullness of love. As is my custom, I have come up with the latest Anti-Valentine's Day CD. In this case, the sub-theme is violence. Here's the list:

01) All American Rejects - Gives You Hell
02) David Guetta (Feat Jessie J) - Repeat
03) Maroon 5 - Wake Up Call
04) Adele - Rolling In The Deep
05) One Republic - Apologize
06) Keri Hilson - Energy
07) Boyz II Men - I Sit Away
08) Rockapella - Don't Tell Me You Do
09) Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone
10) Pink - There You Go
11) Eminem (Feat Rihanna) - Love The Way You Lie
12) Babyface (Feat Stevie Wonder) - How Come, How Long
13) Whitney Houston (Feat Faith Evans & Kelly Price) - Heartbreak Hotel
14) Keyshia Cole (Feat K.T.) - Shoulda Let You Go (Remix)
15) George Michael - Fast Love Part I
16) Lily Allen - Smile
17) Hot Chelle Rae - Let Down
18) Lasgo - Gone
19) Joe Lynn Turner - Heartless
20) Cher - Strong Enough (Club 69 Future Atlantic City Beats Radio Edit)
21) Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want

Most of these songs deal with strictly emotional violence, but Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie" and "How Come, How Long" by Babyface reference actual violence from dysfunctional relationships. They might be difficult to listen to for those of you who may have personal experience in that arena. Imagine if your local stores carried cards for THAT aspect of Valentine's day...

As always, this list is compiled to allow you to endure the hyper-sentimentality of this day. Good luck to you and I'll see you on the other side!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

End Of A Chapter...

It's difficult to say this, my dear readers, and I'm sure some of you have already directly from me, but I was laid off this past Thursday.

Yes, really.

As for what happened, that's simple. My company lost a partner which made budget cuts necessary. By budget cuts, I mean lay offs. I wasn't the only one, but that isn't really a big comfort. The strangest part about all this is my reaction to it. I've been laid off before, and every time it happened there was always this surge of fear. It felt like my soul jumped into freezing cold water.

But this time was different. I felt... Nothing. There was no fear, no anger, not even sadness. For a moment, there was a faint twinge of surprise, but that was it. Now, four days after, it's still the same. I'm going through the motions that are necessary. You know, filing for unemployment, updating my resume, restarting my searches on the job sites, etc. But, there isn't anything behind it.

It's possible that this is some weird form of depression, but I'm not sure. I've dealt with depression before (repeatedly, but that's a story for another post), but this feels different. It feels like more of the same; like the same story told over again. I know what I'm supposed to do, and I'm doing it. But like a tale that you've heard a thousand times over, there's little to no impact.

I do have an appointment with the recruiter that got me this last job, so there is a good chance I could get another job relatively soon. In the meantime, I'm living day by day, trying to find ways to fill the time.