Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top 10 Songs of Summer (Sort Of)

The Suddenly Kate Show

Top 10 Tuesday time again! Be sure to check out both Kate and Tiff's Blogs to see other (and guaranteed better) views on today's subject and to find out how to join up.

I know I always seem to start these with "this is a hard one", but this one really is! I'm not a summer music kind of person per-se...I like the music that I've always liked and I rarely venture elsewhere. On top of that, most of my music isn't the perkiest of genres, Besides Duran, I tend to lean more toward the Depeche and Cure types.

Before I started this list, I searched my music library and found that I had surprisingly 79 songs with the word "Summer" in the title, but considering I have well over 10,000 in my library that, in itself, is kind of a joke and a good 15 of them were remixes of my #1 choice below. As I scanned through the list, none of the songs really made me think of summer...songs like, Endless Summer Nights by Richard Marx, Cruel Summer by Bananarama, Long Hot Summer by Girls Aloud or even Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Since I don't really link songs to events in my life or to specific people (other than a couple of exceptions), I don't really have songs that remind me of things that might have happened during the summer (be it good or bad), so I've got no experiences to pull from there either.

I had initially decided to leave Duran Duran out of this list entirely (despite them having three summer-titled songs that I can pull off the top of my head and a large part of their library having a "summery" vibe), but I wouldn't have a list otherwise. I tried to find songs with "summer" or "sun" in the title that I could tolerate enough to add to the list, songs with a summery vibe, songs that had a summer-type video, songs that make you want to crank up the radio and roll your window down in the summertime (which is kind of insane during the summers here) and even songs that I remember getting released in the summer, but I barely got enough for part of a list and I kept turning it into a Top 10 Favorite Songs list instead. I even went as far as Googling "Summer Songs" and I had either never heard of most of them or hated them with a passion and would never include them in my list. So, I'm going to give it a shot, probably mixing most of these options and try to get things as "summery" as is possible for this dark soul!

These are in no particular order, FYI...it's just how they went.

Obviously, this is always the first song that came to my head when I thought of possible summer songs. It's not my favorite Duran song, but it is one of Simon's. There was a lot of controversy about this video at the time because it came out around the same time as INXS's Suicide Blonde and they are very similar. Of course, although Michael Hutchence and Simon Le Bon were best friends, this wasn't intentional and things like this sometimes happen. It didn't affect their friendship even though VOS bombed and Suicide Blonde was a hit.

As much as I rant on and on about not liking mainstream music (especially in my youth), there are notable exceptions and this is one of them. Granted, I only own two Don Henley albums (if I don't count a couple of Eagles Greatest Hits - see? I can be varied!), one is a Greatest Hits and one is The End Of The Innocence (which I contend is one of the best non-New Wave albums of the late 80's, hands down), but thankfully, this song is on the Greatest Hits album. I'm not sure this is a very positive/upbeat/summery song, but I remember blasting it in the summertime and I always get that "summery" feel from it for some weird reason.

This one falls more in the summery-video ring than anything else, but it was another one of the first ones I thought of, so it had to make the list, whichever way I chose. Besides, there isn't a scene in this video which I can't find a location just like it within 10 miles of me (even though this was filmed in Louisiana and I live in Arkansas), and as much as I complain about my home, it's nice to imagine Depeche Mode in it!

There are six main different edits of this video (there are more, but let's not go there) - the main one and each band member has their own version. With each band member version, the music mix varies to match their personality...Simon and Nick's both have a dance vibe, John and Roger's tend to be a bit groovy, and Andy's is (obviously) guitar heavy. I'm not going to post the individual ones (although I do prefer Simon's first, then John's), but rather the whole group together in the original edit. And trust me, it was incredibly difficult not to list all six individually so I would only have to come up with four other choices!

How is this summery, you ask? It's not. But when you think of all the biggest summer-type anthems, this song has that vibe to me as does the video, with all the street dancing etc. Besides, any song that specifically mentions Simon Le Bon in the lyrics MUST be brilliant!

This song has always been very summery to me...I don't know if it's just a Southern thing (and I actually visited Athens, GA where both The B-52's and R.E.M. are from, just because I loved this song so much) or the vibe of the song, but this song also would qualify as one of my theme songs.

What makes this a summer song for me is the storyline...little boy finds love of his life during summer break. They end up moving away from each other and she grows up to be a model/actress and he's just a stalkery geek wondering if she still loves him. Weird, but summery, right?

Does sand make things summery? I'm not sure, but it's what I think of when I think of this video. It's not one of my favorite Spandau songs, it's probably pretty far on the list, but this isn't a list of my favorite songs (I have to keep repeating that for myself more than you guys).

Well, if I had to pick a summer anthem, it would probably be this song, although I'm not sure why. It does have the kind of sound that is a 'sing at the top of your lungs' kind of song, it was filmed on a rooftop in L.A. (where I will be very shortly...in L.A., not on a rooftop), and it's by my second favorite band, Take That.

All this list has accomplished for me is that I have NO idea what constitutes a "summer" song. But again, the video to this one always comes to mind, so it made my list. When it comes to Spice Girls solo stuff, I do tend to lean toward Mel C's solo stuff to everyone else's simply because I think she has the best voice (although Victoria Beckham has some amazing songs on her self-titled album and Posh was my favorite Spice).

Sucky list, right? Sorry about that...I really just didn't know where to go with this one. I'm sure Kate and Tiffany came up with amazing lists! I rarely go outside, my favorite clothing color is black no matter what time of year, and popular music is something I grew out of about 30 years ago. If this would have been a favorite song or video list, I probably would have aced it. Or maybe Top 10 F-U Songs, Top 10 Most Depressing Songs, Top 10 Songs by Bands From "insert British city here", or even Top 10 Songs from Splinter Groups or Solo Acts from One Particular Band (I could do several different ones on that topic). I may not be cut out for Top 10 lists after all, but I'm going to keep trying!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Duran Duran - #15 Northern Lights and Final Thoughts

My Birthday's over, so here we are at the end of my Duran Duran album review of Paper Gods with the final bonus song, Northern Lights. Well, hello there Liberty album, it's nice to see you got a production upgrade! This song is pure Liberty to me (of course, with the modern Duran twist that this album is filled with). As much as some of these songs pull me back to specific Duran albums, it is all still quite a new Duran vibe, so I probably shouldn't reference old albums, but I tend to think in terms of what I know.

This might be my least favorite of the three bonus tracks, but it's not my least favorite of the album (I've already covered those). This one is probably at the lower end of my favorites or the upper end of my mid-lands. This is yet another reason why the Deluxe version is always a good purchase when it comes to Duran. You really get your money's worth all across the album instead of one or two good songs and a bunch of fluff like 90% of the other albums bands put out (and I'm not going to name names, but I'm sure thinking of some).

More than likely, as singles start to get released, there will be other B-sides, demos or new tracks that find their way on the circuit, that always happens and most of them are the gems of my Duran collection, so Duranies keep a lookout (but, if you are a Duranie, you already know that, don't you?).

And that's the end! I've gone over every single song on Duran Duran's new album (including the bonus tracks) and, overall, I absolutely LOVE it (well, except for Danceophobia, but not everyone's perfect, not even Simon Le Bon!). It is a rather dark album, but because the melodies all pretty much tend to be upbeat, you don't feel like you're being brought down and it is pure Duran, so the kids might not get it, but us older folks will...I guess you'd call it a mature thinking person's dance music? Yep, I'll go with that.

In almost every single Duran album, there is always at least one instrumental or an interlude type song, but this entire album is back-to-back full-on. I've always kind of complained about the lack of Simon on that one instrumental too, especially being a tiny bit partial (OK, blatant lie, you caught me) to The Good one himself (inside joke for those who can speak French), but honestly, I kind of missed it on this album. Be careful what you complain about, I guess.

Granted, this review is very personal and opinionated...I'm no Jane Austen by any means, but I think that it's fair to admit that I'm "a partial, prejudiced, and ignorant historian" when it comes to Duran Duran. I tend to see things from very rose-colored glasses when it comes to them and I'm OK with that. I mean, seriously (no pun intended), one of my favorite D2 albums is Liberty, so that already says something might be off with me in the first place. Or is is? I actually ran across this article the other day on the Duran Duran site. Apparently, I'm not the only fan of the album or Serious! HA! Take that (again, no pun intended) Liberty naysayers!

I just wanted to go over every song for myself and see where they took me (I do always say I blog for myself because who else would care about this stuff anyway). I don't know about you, but I'm rockin' a serious (again, no pun intended) happy face about this album! DURAN DURAN RULZ FOREVER (so said my 6th grade school notebook and so say I now, 34 years later).

As I was digging up clips for yesterday's Birthday post, I found this interview with Simon and John, which is barely a week old, and it surprisingly sums up a lot of the points I made through this whole mess, so obviously I do know my stuff a bit because Simon and John both say (in a lot less time) that I have throughout this whole series. So I'm going to leave you with the interview...enjoy!

Oh, and go out and buy the album (see, I am old, I probably should have said download it!), or hell, do both! It is honestly one of Duran Duran's best albums in years and that is an unbiased, unprejudiced, and rather smartly summed up opinion, if I do say so myself!

My posts will probably be pretty sparse between now and after Disneyland (or not, I may have panic-attack postings every five minutes), we'll see.

Oh, and I missed my Blogoversary in here somewhere (again), so a big THANK YOU to all those who follow me (for whatever reason) and here's to many more years of Stitching, Disney, and Duran Duran (with a puppy pic or two in the mix for good measure) as I try to let my Asper-flame burn bright! I'm off to watch old Duran videos now and bask in the glory of my favorite band ever.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Duran Duran - #14 Valentine Stones

I would have really liked to have ended my Duran Duran Paper Gods review today of all days...a fitting end for my Birthday. Yes, today is my big 45th Birthday, but enough about me, let's get to the Duran!

Valentine Stones, bonus song #2, is Red Carpet Massacre meets Medazzaland, but with an All You Need Is Now vibe. I can relate quite a bit to the lyrics of this song because it reminds me a lot of my relationship with my ex-husband, but I don't want to go there, especially on my Birthday, so I choose not to think about that right now and just enjoy the music.

I don't want to do a reference video with this one, but instead let's go this route:

And definitely this route:

Granted, these are are a "specific" period in Duran history, but isn't that what we old people do...wax nostalgic about the past? Besides, I had to get Serious in there somewhere, right? It IS my day after all!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Duran Duran - #13 Planet Roaring

"Congratulations Duran Duran albums Astronaut and All You Need Is Now, you've just had a child named Planet Roaring"...that's the first thought I had after hearing the first bonus song on the Paper Gods album. This is probably my favorite of the three bonuses (if you can't tell already).

There is also no question about the frame of reference here...Astronaut I would say a mix of Sunrise (a concert opening favorite, so let's go there instead of the official video):

and the title track itself:

And from All You Need, I'd say either Girl Panic, which is an amazingly fun video FYI (and for those that don't know, "the guitarist" is none other than Simon's wife Yasmin):

Friday, September 25, 2015

Duran Duran - #12 The Universe Alone

I am absolutely in love with Duran Duran's Paper Gods album. It's definitely not one of those that peeters out after the first couple of songs and, if anything, I'd say the album gets stronger and stronger as it goes on. The last song on the regular album (but on the deluxe version), The Universe Alone, is the perfect example of this. Again, this is a very Astronaut song, I'd probably venture to say it's a soft version of Last Day On Earth (which was actually on Pop Trash, but was one of the only good ones on that album and feels Astronauty to me anyway...so imagine Last Day On Earth without Warren and on Astronaut and you've got it).

What I don't like, nay, readily admit I hate, is the melody breakdown at the end that just sounds like the CD is warped or something. It's such a great melody anyway, I'm not sure why it's there. This isn't a strong Nick heavy song, it's more orchestral driven (which again leads one back to Astronaut), so maybe it was Nick's attempt to do something one would notice? I'm anxious to hear some remixes on this one because it's just honestly more annoying that pleasing and I'm terrified at horrible it's going to sound with headphones on. Thankfully though, it's only at the ending and it's brief.

Oh, and since I mentioned it, here is Last Day On Earth.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Duran Duran - #11 Only In Dreams

We're getting close to done reviewing Duran Duran's Paper Gods album, but I'm not quite there yet.

Only In My Dreams is once again classic Duran sounding, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear John's voice on the backing vocals (usually he's so auto-tuned down, you can't hear him or Simon's voice is looped so many times, he disappears). I love this song. Again, that "play that fuckin' bass John" chant starts in on beat one of this song and continues the entire time. I also could tell that Nile Rodgers had his hands on this one without even having to look it up (as well as Mark Ronson), but this song is 80% John Taylor and my secondary 14 year-old self that loved John too (just not as much as Simon), is a twittering a bit on this one as well!

When it comes to John-heavy songs and Nile Rodgers, you can pretty much count the entire Notorious album, but let's go with the title track for frame of reference:

But you could also arguably pick any song from Rio too for that heavy John bass line. Me personally, I think I'll go with a live version mix of Sound Of Thunder from the first Duran album and Hold Back The Rain from Rio:

You guys have NO IDEA how much I'm LOVING doing these reviews...not just because I can keep playing the new album over and over again, but because I can scour YouTube for Duran Duran videos! I really should be focusing on Disneyland, but my heart is currently filled with nothing but Duran Duran.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Duran Duran - #10 Butterfly Girl

I always write my iTunes reviews after I listen to the album for the very first time in its entirety. My opinion tends to be a bit truer then and time can't cloud my judgement, especially where Duran Duran is concerned. I have a bad habit of "learning to love" Duran songs I wouldn't necessarily care for if they were by some other band.

When I initially reviewed Paper Gods (see how I managed to get that link in there still?), the only two songs I dogged were Danceophobia (and I stand by that judgment) and this one, Butterfly Girl. I think it was initially because of the strong guitar riff that felt very Chili Peppery (obviously because John Frusciante is on this one too) and it just sounds like he's trying to channel Warren Cuccurullo (and we all know how I feel about Warren).

But the more I listen to it, I would probably move Change The Skyline to my #2 least favorite and move this one up higher on the list (although I'm not sure how high). I still don't like the heavy guitar, but I love hearing Anna Ross, who has been a backup singer for Duran Duran for quite a while now. She just has one of those voices that melds well with Simon's (like Lamya's did back during The Wedding Album years-she's the singer you hear on Come Undone) and I love the lyrics and melody here. So, forgive me iTunes, but I do actually like this song after all (minus the guitar, of course)!

When it comes to references, the entire Pop Trash song has too much weird guitar strands on it, but here is the one I was specifically thinking of when I heard Butterfly Girl, Mars Meets Venus:

It's a great song if you take bloody Warren away!

And, since I mentioned it, here's Come Undone:

Ferg-id is alive and kicking

I debated whether or not I wanted to "broadcast" this news, especially since only one member of my family is going to know about it (if she ever calls me back), but I need to tell someone and this is my only forum. I had my annual MRI day before yesterday like I do every year about this time to check on Ferg-id Quinn (and for those that don't know, that's the name I've given the benign brain tumor in my head...a mash-up of my three least-favorite bosses names). I fully expected that he would be stable and that I could go to having an MRI every two years instead of every year but that, unfortunately, wasn't the case. He has grown a millimeter (which doesn't sound like much, but when you're talking tumors, be they benign or cancerous, that's not good). If he stays on this course, I have anywhere from 5 to 10 years before he'll have to be removed. If he gets the right amount of hormones (and, considering my age, that is now a very real possibility), he could literally double in size in just a few months time or he could just stop growing altogether.

It wasn't all gloom and doom however (although I might beg to differ). He is growing away from my cortex (the middle of my brain) which is why he is so dangerous in the first place...his location. As long as he continues to spread away from it, then his eventual eviction will be easier and the less damage he can do. The closer he gets to the cortex, the more I risk permanent and more serious damage (whatever trouble he causes cannot be undone, even with removal, no matter which way he goes).

Because of his current parking space, they can't go in through my eye socket and pull him out, but they will have to literally crack my skull and they will only be able to take part of him out. Radiation will have to do the rest. He lives in an area that just can't be cut on. I'm not scared of that and, as a matter of fact, I'd prefer to get it over with now instead of in 5 to 10 years when I don't know what kind of health I will be in. But because he's still not the "right size" (whatever the heck that means), they don't want to risk the invasive surgery to remove him. I get that it is a major surgery, but I'd rather have it now while I'm still relatively young and can handle it better (and before I go blind or deaf or whatever other trouble he can get into). The thought of having seizures terrifies me and always has. A literal hair's width closer to the cortex and I'm looking at them for the rest of my life.

I've worked in the medical field most of my life...so has my mother, my aunt, my sister, another aunt, and several cousins. I know how insurance works, how hospitals work, and how doctors think, but it still doesn't prepare me for being a patient. Patient-me has a dangerous foreign body in my brain and I want it gone. It makes so much more sense to me to take it out now while it's still small and easy to get more of it. Medical-me knows that insurance isn't going to pay unless it's life-threatening or has already caused damage (which makes NO sense because preventive medicine is always cheaper on insurance than the diseases themselves), hospitals don't like to do brain surgeries because they are expensive and use up too many resources (got no quip for that, they are just cheap and greedy bastards), and doctors don't like to not do things perfectly (because most of them really do have god complexes).

I can see both sides of the argument, but today patient-me is the dominant one and she's really upset. I'm not scared of dying, never have been, but I am scared of having seizures or going blind or deaf, loosing arm or leg movement, or even something as simple as loosing my sense of smell, taste, or touch and having to live that way. Even worse, I fear ending up in such a state that other people have to take care of me. It could happen at any second or it could never happen and I have to live with this. It's one thing to know that you could have a car wreck at any moment, it's another thing to be told you WILL have a car wreck, we just don't know when and what state you'll end up in. I hate to be a whiny-butt, but it's just not fair!

But anyhoo, enough already, it's time to get back to the real world, so here's my little companion:
If I want to be positive, my head fat is a lot smaller than it was last year...that's good, right? If nothing else, I am good at deflection! Guess I got yet another early Birthday present today, yea me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top 10 Cakes To Make You Bake

The Suddenly Kate Show

It's that time again, Top 10 Tuesday! Make sure to check out Kate's Blog as well as Tiffany's to see what their view on this topic is (there's are always SOOO much better than mine!).

I'm going to do something I don't really like to do, I'm going to manipulate the topic. I live alone and have for so many years now that I just don't cook, let alone bake. I can, but why? Buying food to cook for one is a really expensive prospect. When it comes to cakes, you can either bake one from a mix which means you've got a LOT of cake to eat, you could buy one (but again, lots to eat), or you could bake one yourself and make it one person-sized, but I don't keep those sort of ingredients in my house. So, I'm going to do a countdown of my top 10 favorite cakes instead.

When it comes to cake, I'm not usually a fan (excluding the nine below). I will typically just eat the icing. Whenever we have cake at work, my coworkers are trained to let me have the corner piece and I will often cut it in such a way that there is barely any cake in the piece. At my previous job, everyone tried to "portray" healthy eating habits and since the cake is "OK" to eat but not the icing, they would scrape off their icing and give it to me and I'd end up with an entire bowl of nothing but icing! I still have issues with controlling myself when it comes to icing, my absolute favorite thing is to put a huge wad of it on top of raw cookie dough and eat tons of it. But not all icings are created equal and I'm very particular about the types I'll eat as well. Since I also have issues with white creamy foods, I will often mix blue food color in the icing to make it more appealing and less gag-worthy. I'm not sure why I use blue, especially since my favorite color is purple, but it's just the one I've always used (I have to do the same with Cool-Whip).

Speaking of purple, yep, you read that right, purple velvet cake (you just use purple food coloring instead of red). I have actually made myself one of these once and it was AH-MAZ-ING (but probably due more to the color than the flavor). I have very specific velvet cake requirements...I have to mix the cream cheese icing with vanilla buttercream (because I can't stand the overpowering cream cheese icing) and I cover the entire outside of the cake in mini white chocolate chips. I've always been a huge fan of red velvet anything and right now I'm obsessed with the red velvet oreo shakes at Burger King (but I must stop because I am SOO screwing up my Disney diet).

Every year on my birthday I go to Wal-Mart and buy a pre-made red velvet cake, a can of icing, and a bag of white chocolate chips. Sometimes I color the new icing, sometimes I don't, but I always try to mix it in with the old as best as possible and then coat with the white chocolate chips (they hide the white icing part and I'm not so prone to think about it much). Is it sad that I buy my own birthday cake? I don't necessarily think so because I never could do the "party" thing and at least eating it alone means no one else witnesses me eating an entire cake by myself. Guess I need to prep myself for a store visit because the B-day is coming up this weekend.

Whoever came up with this idea should be canonized right along with the Sonic Nerds-in-drinks guy. We have them at my local Wal-Mart and, don't get me wrong, they are good, but they are NOT Disney World cake pops...especially since Disney World has RED VELVET CAKE POPS! For those who have never had a cake pop, imagine cake crumbled up, mixed with icing and formed into balls, and then dipped in a hard icing shell...heaven on a stick! There are also cookie pops, but I guess I can't really go there since this is a cake theme. And how about a picture this time? Seriously, who wouldn't want to eat this?
The only bad caveat with the Disney World version is that the ears are marshmallows, so I often won't eat those. I'm not a marshmallow fan unless they are either part of rice crispy treats or practically burnt to a crisp on a stick.

One of the most brilliant inventions ever...a giant cookie covered in icing! I LOVE these! Again, I do have to pick the heavily icing'ed parts, but when I get one for home, I just buy a can of icing to spruce it up (but I rarely ever buy one of these for myself...control issues can be pretty dangerous!). One of my favorite things is icing between two chocolate chip cookies (well, I'd prefer the cookie part uncooked, but that's another story), but you can now get cookie cakes in layers with icing in the middle! They are REALLY expensive and I haven't gotten one yet, but maybe one day!

When it comes to cheesecake, I'm VERY particular (shock). It is blasphemy to use graham cracker crusts (and I contend that graham cracker crusts on ANYTHING is blasphemy...it should either be a cookie crust or nothing and, when it comes to cheesecake, I prefer nothing). The very best cheesecake I've ever had was on vacation (but not Disney, believe it or not). It was a white chocolate amaretto flavored cheesecake which had marzipan streaked through the middle. I have never had a better cheesecake since (although I do keep trying). It's just really hard to find one out that doesn't have a graham cracker crust. I did try to make one of these once, I even bought a springform pan, but I couldn't keep the marzipan from making the batter runny, no matter how I tried, so the few times I baked a cheesecake (crust free), I just kept it simple and white chocolate (my favorite). One of my biggest gag-worthy foods is sour cream...I hate it! I have the innate ability to smell sour cream in cheesecake and if it's made with sour cream, I won't eat it. If you ever seen me in public and I've got a cheesecake in front of me, don't be surprised if I'm sniffing it.

Cupcakes are all the rage and even here in backwoods Arkansas we have six (count them, SIX) cupcake shops. But honestly, as ticky as I am about the other cakes, when it comes to cupcakes, I prefer the mini chocolate ones you get at Wal-Mart (and probably the only time I would pick chocolate or vanilla). The mini ones have a higher icing to cake ratio than the normal size ones (which is always good). I think that cupcake stores get "too" creative when it comes to the cake part and they tend to taste weird. The Wal-Mart ones are moist and actually taste like cake. Same with the Disney World ones (although I still profess that EVERYTHING tastes better in Disney World).

Yes, we even have cake versions of ice cream here. For those who don't know what a concrete is, it's kind of hard to explain, but I'm going to try. If you have a Dairy Queen, think Blizzard made with yogurt instead of ice cream and, if you have Sonic, think the same but in Blast form. If you don't have either one of those, the best that I can do is that it's very stiff frozen yogurt with flavors mixed in and it has the consistency of hardening concrete. My two favorite concretes are wedding cake (which is mushed up cake and icing mixed in) or cake batter (which is self explanatory). I can control myself with these as long as I stay away for a while, but the moment I have one, I am literally going every single day until I can get control of myself again (which is usually when I get broke because it's the middle of a pay period).

This is more of a theme cake versus a flavor, but there is something about black food coloring that I adore. Besides, is there anything bad about Halloween in general? Put it in cake form, and I'm SOOO there! They always have them at the various stores in town, but I can only go to the Wal-Mart Marketplace since they moved my beloved Kroger (I can't typically go to new places by myself and since they built the Super Kroger, I haven't been able to go). Hopefully, Wal-Mart Marketplace will have a Halloween cake this year!

This is kind of a mute point, because they don't make these anymore...but back in the day, you could get a slice of this cake at Red Lobster (back in the day when Red Lobster was a destination restaurant and not the fast-foodie type version on every street corner now). This cake was made up of seven different types of chocolate all in one cake. I'm not a chocolate fan by nature, I'm more of a candy girl, but this cake was some of the best chocolate I've ever eaten and I do really miss it. Last week we went to Red Lobster for my parents anniversary and I got their new chocolate cake, the chocolate wave and, although it was good, it didn't even compare to the seven layer, so that cake has been on my mind ever since. Maybe I'll make one of those some day.

I'm not a fan of fruit-flavored cakes, but the Grapefruit Cake at The Brown Derby Restaurant in Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, is a love-hate cake for me. I always get it and I always complain about it, but yet I still keep getting it. I'm not sure why. It's bitter when you expect sweet, it's covered in icing, but it's a strange, heavily bitter grapefruit flavor (and I LOVE grapefruits, especially white ones, which are bitter). I've never made one myself (although they ALWAYS give you the recipe when you order it). Maybe if I made one, I could "correct" the bitter flavor that bothers me so much. But then again, if I change the bitterness, I have the feeling I won't like it at all. I don't know what my deal with this cake is, but love it or hate it, it's always something I order, so there must be something about it!

And that's it! My top 10 favorite cakes. Sorry, I went off subject a bit, but technically, I could try to make any one of these, so I didn't branch that far off!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Duran Duran - #9 Change The Skyline

Duran Duran Paper Gods time again. #9, Change The Skyline featuring Jonas Bjerre (I don't know who he is either...I am REALLY getting old) is a good song, don't get me wrong, it's just not a Duran Duran song. It's more of a very producer-driven song with Duran Duran performing on it and I'm not sure I would even go that far and might just limit it to 'Simon sings on' versus 'the entire band performs on' type song. This might be one of those I can't pick out various band members, I haven't listened enough yet to tell.

But again, I do really like it...it's a great beat, has that old disco-type dance beat and is simple and flowing. There are a few of these in the Duran canon, so I'm not used to them, but they still shock me when I first hear them.

It may be hard to tell sometimes, but this entire album is a bit darker than a Duran album typically is...you just can't tell because of the upbeat melodies, but this one really stumps me. The album was released on September 11th, and with the title, I kind of felt that was the direction they were going with this particular song, but I'm still not sure (and anyone other than Simon Le Bon that can interpret his lyrics is a genius in my book because he usually makes them ambiguous on purpose). With lyrics like:

I can change the skyline
I'll arrange the limbs time
Time to change the skyline
I see far a rising up

Lyrically, I get an American-themed inspiring September 11th anthem, but the melody throws it all out of whack. Most of the boys have lived in New York at one point or another (John for the longest), so it wouldn't surprise me. I'll just go with that for now until Simon says differently (and he rarely ever does).

I really didn't think out far enough to realize that I'm going to be crossing two Top 10 Tuesdays, but here we are, so I'll be back with these reviews on Wednesday. There are still some really good songs on this album I've yet to get to!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Duran Duran - #8 Sunset Garage

Link time...let's continue on with my Duran Duran's Paper Gods album review. We're at #8 on the track list, Sunset Garage. I'm still on the fence about this one. I surely don't hate it, but I'm not sure I love it either...I do like it however. It is very Pop Trashish, more specifically it reminds me a lot of a fast Someone Else Not Me meets John Taylor's solo stuff (actually, it probably sounds more John than Pop Trash now that I think about it). I love the lyrics, but I think it's the melody I have issues with, it doesn't fit the lyrics for me and the lyrical style sounds more John than Simon. As time goes on, my opinion will probably change for the positive. If I had to guess, I'd say that this sounds like a Simon favorite song to me (he definitely has a type just like I do), but who knows.

Reference time! When I mentioned John's stuff, I was thinking more Hey Day which has great lyrics with a weird melody, although it's probably my most favorite of John's solo stuff because it's so obvious the meaning behind it:

And, since I mentioned it, here's the English lyric version of Someone Else Not Me, but how about a mixed version that speeds it up a bit?

As an afterthought (and a weeks worth of playing nothing but this album), I think I've finally figured out what bothers me about this song...it's too much like Serious! I didn't pick up on that at all initially, but For someone who has been rambling on and on about how I like that this album has elements of certain songs, there is one song that is above reproach and that song is Serious. It's one thing to be influenced by it, it's an entirely different thing to remake it. But, having said all that negativity, now that I've realized and accepted it, I'm really beginning to like this song better.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Duran Duran - #7 What Are The Chances

I'm not sure if I really need to keep saying it's Duran Duran Paper Gods review time again, but it gives me a good excuse to point you to it's iTunes link (although it's really not helping out the people in other countries considering iTunes doesn't cross continents, much to my chagrin...that's a rant for another day however).

Where Danceophobia flops, What Are The Chances vies for my second or third favorite of the entire album. It is so Seven and the Ragged Tiger meets The Wedding Album it's not funny! I've even stretch and admit that, if it wasn't for the strong guitar lines from John Frusciante (I do actually know who he is, although I'm not a Chili Peppers fan per-se), I'd say this could easily also be an Arcadia or one of Simon's solo songs.

I absolute adore this song and the more I listen to it, the higher up the list it does (I figure, when it's all said and done, this will be my favorite song from the album). I have literally paused writing this because I wanted to hear the song four times in a row. It's beautiful, classic Duran with so much heart it literally makes mine want to bust. My inner 14 year-old Simon Le Bon obsessed self comes out when I hear this song and I didn't realize how much I've missed her!

Now we are caught up to where I ended on the whole album review post, so the next eight will be brand new and not rehashed stuff...god help you!

Here's another frame of reference, this is one of Simon's solo songs called Nobody Knows (and the one that reminds me the most of this song):

As well as John's Losing You (I really was thinking more Trust The Process, but I couldn't find it):

Friday, September 18, 2015

Duran Duran - #6 Danceophobia

It's Duran Duran's Paper Gods review time again. There is always at least one song on every album I don't like and Danceophobia is Paper God's. This is one that started with "what the hell?" and is still at "what the hell?" with a bit of, "do I have to?" mixed in. Granted, I was probably predisposed to hate it because of the weird, interrupting speech by Lindsey Lohan very similar to the mess that is Grace Jones' interlude on Election Day, an Arcadia song (but at least Election Day was an amazing song) or Nick's vocals on Medazzaland (not such a great song). Danceophobia is just weird on all kinds of other levels though, but judge for yourself:

No need to make this review long, but this song will probably end up being the favorite of everyone's on the album...that's the way it usually goes for me and my views versus the rest of the world, but I honestly can't imagine anyone liking this song.

And, of course, as a frame of reference, here is Arcadia's Election Day. Musically, it's miles above Danceophobia, but it shows Duran's predilection for weird guest speeches (and I'm linking the long version so you can hear the whole unedited speech). But seriously, tell me that's not just dark Duran, and besides, this incarnation of Simon's looks is the one that gets my blood boiling the highest, so why not show it, if for no other reason than I want to see him?

that is SO me...I'm moody and grey, I'm mean and I'm restless.

And, god help me, might as well do Medazzaland too, but this one is just weird all the way around...it's inspired by a dentist visit Simon had where they used the drug Midazolam on him (you know, the one they sometimes use in prisoner executions). Nick, I love you, but please NEVER do this again!:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Duran Duran - #5 Face For Today

It's time again for my review of Duran Duran's newest album, Paper Gods. Face For Today is a bit harder to define than the other songs on the album. I hear so many different album influences in this song, it's really hard to pin one down...I hear Notorious, Big Thing and Liberty influences in it for sure, but I also hear the first Duran album, a bit of Astronaut, some All You Need Is Now, and maybe even a bit of Red Carpet.

Another one of the great things about Duran is that, if I focus, it is very easy for me to distinguish each band member's particular sound. I can hear only John's strong bass lines, Nick's synth coolness, Roger's rhythmic drumming, Simon's signature voice looping, and even, back in the day, Andy's guitar strings and I've always been this way with Duran (although I really try hard to ignore Warren's guitar...he still annoys me to this day). It's a rarity than I can do this with any other band. But sometimes, one member's attributes stick out more than another's and this one is all John in my head. Play that fuckin' bass John!

For those who have never been to a Duran Duran concert, usually during Girls on Film, Simon does the band intros and, as we arrive at John, Simon always gets the audience to chanting "play that fuckin' bass John" over and over, sometimes for very long periods of time (I've literally done it until I was hoarse). Just an example from 2012 if you choose to listen (and yes, that is me with the strong Southern accent you hear screaming on a very low quality iPhone video). It's really not a good thing to do, especially since there are usually children around somewhere, but thus is the life of an old-school Duranie...you'll also often hear us screaming bits from the Arena concert during certain old songs as well (and Simon's taken to doing this himself over the years, so the band knows us, oh yes they do!).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Duran Duran - #4 Pressure Off

Continuing on with my Duran Duran Paper Gods album review, Pressure Off was the first one the band "previewed" on YouTube (and I think it's the first single, but I don't listen to the radio, so how would I know?). I'm not sure if it's because it was the first one that I heard which makes it my #2 favorite next to Paper Gods or if I genuinely like it that much, but there is just "something" about this song.

Pressure Off is pure-de-ole Duran Duran with a bit of a modern twist...I like to call it Notorious Astronaut and that might be because it was produced by Nile Rodgers like Notorious was almost 27 years ago and it has a very Astronaut-y vibe. It's an extremely danceable song as well and has a kind of summery feel to it without the shocking intro by the female co-singer, although it does have one (this time, Janelle Monae - who I also don't know).

Is it me, or are these getting shorter? Could I possibly be "learning" to do short blog posts? Well, if you consider that this was originally part of a much larger review, then no, I guess not. Fact is, it's a really simple song and there is really no need to over analyze it, just enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top 10 Things To Do Near Here

The Suddenly Kate Show

It's time again for the Top 10 Tuesday countdown! For those that aren't aware of what this is or where to go to sign up, the best place to start is to just click on the icon above which will take you to Kate's Blog, The Suddenly Kate Show and also link you to Tiffany's Blog, Tiffsttiches a Blog.

Hopefully this week will go as quick as last week, but this is going to be a real hard theme for me. I've always been pretty vocal about my dislike of my home territory (even though I do absolutely nothing in terms of getting a better job so I could afford to move...self sabotage, but that's a whole other ball of wax). There is absolutely NO culture in Northeast Arkansas at all and culture is what leads me out of my hidie-hole when I do emerge, so I'm definitely going to have to branch out a bit for this list, but I'll try to keep it pretty "southern" in locales.

Branson, Missouri is the big draw for a lot of Arkansans, but I find Branson, not only a commercial joke, but a useless waste of space. Branson is horrible to navigate through and is designed more for the country music-loving octogenarian set versus the weirdos like me. Eureka Springs is Branson's baby sister and has always been hipper and cooler (and weirdo friendly). Eureka has become a bit more commercialized lately (still not even close to the level of Branson), but it's still a neat place to go with all the old fudge/taffy shops and other niche-type places. It's really a very diverse kind of town with pretty much something for everyone. They have one of those giant Jesus statues as well as a LOT of churches (it's a really popular wedding destination) but they also have some great clubs and places for the new age-types. The infamous Passion Play comes and goes and I think it's currently about to come back for those that like that kind of thing (I have seen it, but I'll just leave it at that and drop the subject). There is also a very famous haunted hotel there that has been on Ghost Hunters called the Crescent (one of the few places they actually got video of a ghost), but I have trouble going anywhere near it because the ju-ju vibe is strong there Obi-Wan.

Sonic is an eatery that pretty much covers the South, but it's actually more like a religion around here, especially for me. When I was a kid, the only "chain"-type eating place we had in my town was a Sonic and a Pizza Hut (we eventually got a McDonald's and it spread from there), so I basically grew up with Sonic food (because Pizza Hut was for "special" occasions...yeah, the joys of small Southern town life). One of the biggest things that the youth always got in my day was a Pineapple Cherry Mountain Dew (although EVERYONE else called it a Cherry Pineapple Mountain Dew). Now, Sonic carries Mello Yello, but the effect is the same...that's the best thing about Sonic, there are hundreds of drink combinations and, if they have it, you can put it in any drink from all kinds of fruit to chocolate or vanilla to even candy. Whoever came up with the idea of putting Nerds in drinks should be canonized...trust me, it is literally drink nirvana! I always get a Coke Zero with Nerds although you can get them in any other kind of drink too as well as Jolly Ranchers and Pop Rocks (but I haven't tried either one of those yet). I think I'm secretly trying to convince myself that the diet drink with candy in it is less harmful to me than a sugary one, but the thin layer of grease that forms as the Nerds start to melt tells me another story.

The town I grew up in is a bit less than an hour outside of Memphis, so "going to town" for us always meant going to Memphis. We shopped there, ate there, went to the fair there, etc. I attribute it to my "Yankee" mother who knew what culture was and knew there wasn't any in Northeast Arkansas for her children (might have been the other "real" mothering she ever did). As I got older and Memphis got more and more dangerous, those trips slacked off quite and bit and now I rarely go more than once a year and that's usually only a trip to the Memphis airport to go to Disney, but there are still some pretty "cultural" type things to do there. When we were in school, we always took numerous trips per year to the Pink Palace, Mud Island, the Zoo, the MidSouth Fair, Libertyland, etc, but some of those placed are gone now...succumbed to the gang activity that has taken over much of the city (and I don't think kids take school trips anymore anyway).

Every decade or so they build a new mall on the outskirts of town in a newer safer area, but it falls victim to the same fate and the outskirts grow further and further out, either to the South in Mississippi, or on the old road to my #6. It's a shame really, but I'm still listing it because of all the great memories I have of going there, especially the MidSouth Fair (which always fell on the week of my birthday, so we went for my birthday and for school and I got a double whammy of it every year). The town I was born in and the town I grew up in both have festivals whereas the county fair is held in the town I live in now...it's a huge part of Southern life and almost every town here has a festival or a fair. I've only ever been to my local fair once, and only because I was tricked by friends and thought we were going to the MidSouth Fair in Memphis (that's what "going to the fair" meant to me).

The modicum of culture I got from Memphis probably hurt more than it helped. I would probably be a quite happy redneck woman content with my life and stature otherwise, never knowing what I was missing from the world, drugged up, riding up and down the highway, ten kids in tow by nine different men, living in public housing and on welfare...what the hell am I saying? Anything that kills one's predilection to the redneck virus should be praised! I'm always hopeful that Memphis will get it's act together again and become the city it once was, if not for me, then for the generations of Southern kids of the future. Maybe one day, the redneck gene will die out completely...again, I live in hope!

#4: BBQ
Here in the South, we literally have the best barbecue in the world. When I go to other places (even Disney), their idea of BBQ is really quite hilarious and is not to be touched. I actually don't really even eat a lot of it around here, even though I absolutely love it, because most of the BBQ restaurants don't have drive thrus (and I can't go into places by myself). But thankfully, every fall, the local Catholic Church and School have their fall festival and someone from work always manages to go and get enough for all of us (especially since it's literally two blocks from our job). They have the absolute best in the whole town and it's just a shame we only get it once a year! The town I was born in (not the one I grew up in), has several great (and semi-famous) BBQ restaurants too, but I rarely ever get there, especially since my dad moved away from there (and I haven't spoken to him in 14 years, so there you go). Memphis has a huge BBQ festival every year and they have a very famous restaurant on the river side called Rendezvous (which I personally hate because it's dry rub and there is no meat on the bones). But speaking of BBQ, my next number below has another famous chain called The Shed (or at least both it's sister cities, Gulfport and Ocean Springs do) and that has become my new favorite 'cue place!

OK, this one is a bit of a stretch because Biloxi is about 6 1/2 hours away, but there was a time I used to drive down there on Saturdays, get out and walk on the beach for 20 minutes and then drive straight back home, I loved it that much. After Andrew and then Katrina came through, I didn't go at all for several years and I really missed it. My first trip back there was several years after Katrina, once everything had been cleaned up and I fell back in love with it all over again. I always make it a point to drive through there either on the way to or from Disney World now, even though it adds several hours to the journey, simply because I enjoy the road so much. I should warn you though...the Gulf ocean has a bit of a "smell" compared to the open ocean like that of the Atlantic and it can freak some people out (I'm kind of anxious to see how the Pacific smells...that sounds weird, right?), more of a dead fish/oil/moldy seaweed smell versus that of salt water and clean air. I don't notice that Gulf smell so much anymore, especially since Katrina. I often wondered if it was because they had to ship in new sand to replace the decimated beaches after Katrina and it was the sand's fault all along. Who knows?

OK, I know I'm reaching a bit again with this one because it's 6 hours in a different direction from Biloxi, but we're still talking the South, so there you go. I used to LOVE going to Chattanooga when I was a kid and we went through there a lot on the way to the Smokies (which, by the way, has their own Branson/Eureka Springs incarnations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge...one is cool, the other is a tourist trap, I just can't remember which is which if someone can help me out on that point). Granted, Chattanooga is a huge tourist trap too, but a tourist trap with cool places like Rock City and Lookout Mountain (where you can see seven states from one location). I really wanted to take Kate there when she was here, but time and money just didn't allow it (besides, she was hurting pretty bad then and it was bad enough I dragged her to Disney World). Someday I will go back (I've been saying that a lot lately, haven't I?), although I have driven to Disney through there in the past couple of years, but I didn't stop because...wait for it...I was by myself and I can't do stuff like that alone. Asperness in action.

I can dog my area as much as I want, but one thing I can't deny is that Arkansas really is a beautiful state. We have tons of state parks here and you really can't drive 50 miles in any direction without hitting one. We actually have one in this town and at least two others that I can think of within 20 miles. The further west you go, the more there are and some of them are amazing. Petit Jean State Park, Devil's Den, Blanchard Springs Caverns, Beaver Lake, just to name a few. There was a time I used to drive a lot just to clear my head and I always found my way into a State Park and I've always preferred the parks with more rocks than trees (thanks to my massive tree phobia). I always loved the caves and went to them a lot as a kid (which is why the ones I specifically named were all rocky places). Most water here is all spring fed, so bottled water is kind of useless around here because what comes out of the tap is usually better (well, my town ain't so great, but the town I grew up in has amazing water). Most people around here go to the "lake" all the time (and there are dozens of lakes around here, so I'm never sure where they mean). I prefer my vacations to be a big more adventurous (funny for an Asper, right?). But these "lake people" are the ones that don't get Disney at all (the ones that have been), so there is obviously a cultural clash between our mentalities anyway. I've just learned not to discuss Disney with "lake people", even if they ask.

OK, I'm kind of pulling things out of my butt now, but it is a list of things to do and people do it, so there you go. When I was a kid (and still to this day), riding up and down the highway was a really huge deal for the teens. I rarely did it and my first (and only) ever wreck was because I was trying to get the attention of the guy I had a huge crush on and I rear-ended someone. I never got the point...you started at one end of town, drove straight down the highway to the other side of town, turned around, and kept doing it over and over again. Some people would pull each other over and they'd sit on the hoods of their cars and talk or whatever, but I still didn't (and don't) get the point. The town I live in now has banned it and you can literally get a ticket if you traverse the same roadway more than once in front of a cop (so don't get lost around here, FYI). I always preferred to get on the open road and go to new places instead of traversing the same track over and over and over and over again. Besides, it was bad enough I had to deal with those people all day at school, I sure as heck didn't want to socialize with them (and still don't...I haven't been to one single reunion and don't ever plan to).

I've never understood the purpose of hunting. It's not like in this day and age it's done for food...if you want food, you go to the store and buy it (and I don't buy the argument that it's cheaper to kill it because by the time you buy the guns, bullets, clothing, and licenses, you've spent a heck of a lot more than groceries). I also don't buy the "sport" argument of it, using a gun on a defenseless animal isn't sport. Give the animal a weapon, preferably the same as the human and let the two of them go at it in the woods, then you have a "sport". But hunting is a HUGE culture around here. Same goes with fishing. I'm not a fish eater, but fish always tastes cleaner and better when it's store bought versus ditch-fished (what I call fishing in waters that you can't see your fingertips when you stick you hand in up to wrist level, some people call them lakes or rivers...you say tomato...needless to say, I don't typically go near them let alone swim in them). It is something people do around here though, so I guess I needed to add it to the list to.

And I guess I'll end on a negative spin again because drinking and drugs are a huge part of redneck culture too. I live in a dry county...for those that don't know what is, alcohol cannot be sold here (I remember a very funny conversation with a Cast Member at LeCellier Restaurant in Epcot who had, not only never heard of such, but called over several of his co-workers as well as brought me to the attention of the other patrons sitting around me in on the discussion...normally, I would have been terrified in that situation, but he was so cute, I didn't mind too much). We don't have liquor stores and the like, but fairly recently certain places have been allowed liquor licenses and you can "buy" a membership so they can sell you booze with a meal. A "membership" is defined as signing your name to a school notebook pad, maybe paying a dollar or showing your license, and your in the club (at least for the night). You can't take the drinks outside the restaurants though.

I'm not a big drinker. Growing up in an extremely religious household, being seen in a liquor store was a "dirty" thing and not something "good people" did. Granted, they all had libations in their house (including my parents), but you just didn't talk about it. I personally never even stepped foot in a liquor store until I was in my mid to late 30's and I used to be married to an alcoholic! Now, I typically go about once a year to stock up, but it's always a very hard thing for me to do (that damned religious conditioning!). Besides, I can think of a lot of other things I'd rather be spending my money on anyway. The town I grew up in was a wet county, so a LOT of people drank and drank heavily. A lot of my high school classmates are dead now because of either overdoses or car accidents from being drunk. It's just a way of life here.

I've always said that it is the worst side effect of no culture, there is nothing for the kids to do but get high, drunk and ride up and down the highway. I preferred the solo route and it probably saved my life (because I would have been right in the mix had I been a "normal"). I went to a very drug heavy school and it wasn't just a wasters world...even the super popular kids did it quite heavily (and more of those are dead now than the so-called wasters), but I honestly was completely oblivious to it (well, except for the fact that the bathrooms smelled like pot, which is why I rarely went to the bathroom at school anyway, so I didn't know). I'm not sure if I was just blind or ignorant or didn't care enough to notice. I spent a lot of my high school time either in the art room or the library. I had to get my culture somewhere! People still talk about my town to this day for it's drug problem and I still never see it. We actually made it on 20/20 back in the day because we had one of the highest VD rates in the country for the population...yeah, I grew up in a town famous for VD! Now do you understand why I distance myself!

So that's it...this was a HARD one, especially for me. I think this area does have a lot of offer for the right kind of person, I'm just not one of those people and thankfully, no one in my immediate family is either. Granted, even I have some distant cousins who are full-on cartoonish Arkansans, barefoot, pregnant, corncob-smokin', moonshine-drinkin' redneck hillbillies, but doesn't everyone? Next week probably will be quite hard for me too...I might have to modify it a bit.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Duran Duran - #3 You Kill Me With Silence

Day 3 of my Duran Duran album review for Paper Gods, so we're up to track 3. This one might contain a bit of a rant (well, actually, it does), so please forgive...there is a method to my madness (at least to me) and sometimes I just got to put it out there!

You Kill Me With Silence is very Seven and the Ragged Tiger with a touch of Rio and The Wedding Album in the mix. Most people would probably say it's not good that a new album has the sound of a thirty-something year-old album, but with Duran, that is a VERY good thing...especially to a Duranie. There is nothing worse to me than a group of 50-something year-old's trying to mimic Justin Timberlake (I really can't let go of that whole Red Carpet Massacre thing, can I?) or whoever young guy is popular nowadays just to please the kids of today's market instead of their loyal followers who have been there since the beginning.

When I was a kid, I thought Madonna was the best female singer ever and had excellent style...nowadays, her constant need to compete with the likes of Miley Cyrus completely baffles me. Do Miley fans really like Madonna anyway or do they find her old and gross? I don't know and I don't really care, but if I was still 14, I would think that (but I'd probably find Miley gross too, so what do I know?). But it proves a point...I don't even know who is popular right now because I prefer Duran Duran and am attuned to a particular sound. A good band to me doesn't just meld to the masses and change for the sake of popularity, but retains their soul that made me love them in the first place and still manages to grow enough to be ever so slightly relevant...a bit like people should do. That's why I love Duran so much because they always strive to do just that (although they don't always succeed).

Besides, kids might "get" Duran because their parents were fans, but honestly, how many kids would hear a Duran song these days and go, "I love it!" and become diehard Duranies without that inherited parent-love gene? What is a parent-love gene you ask? Well, let me just illuminate you! My mother was a Barry Manilow fan and she played his music all the time when I was little, so I can't help but like him, just not like she does. I gained her love for him, but at a reduced, "inherited" level (like all things inherited). The parent-love gene is very particular and isn't always present in multiples...my mother also loved Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, but I literally can't stand to hear either one of them, even to this day (although I can at least tolerate Barbra whereas Neil is like nails on a chalkboard for me).

Most kids only have a few IP-L genes (as I will now refer to it) that cross over through the umbilical cord, but some have inherited their parent's entire musical library's worth. I'd say the only other one I inherited would be Olivia Newton-John, but ONJ crossed over a bit into my time too (ONJ was actually a country singer in my mother's day anyway, a form of music I can't stand, so she could only go up the ladder).

IP-L genes aren't the only ones we inherit from our parents, oh no. By nature, most kids inherit an Anti-IP-L gene (hereafter named A-IP-L) and hate most of their parent's music in general on principle alone, but you can have both a regular IP-L and an A-IP-L and be a functioning music listener. Most kids don't even discover they have regular IP-L genes until they are older and the A-IP-L's have died down somewhat...A-IP-L's are always more powerful in the youth and slack with age. I have no idea what kind of music my father listened to, so I don't know what, if any, IP-L's or A-IP-L's I got from him.

Every kid today has probably heard of Duran, maybe even likes a song or two, but without that IP-L gene, you will rarely find a diehard Duranie under the age of 35 or so (although they do exist...they are the modern version of how I was a kid, a self-professed weirdo). Most Duranie's come in waves, the original diehards like me, and The Wedding Album era second gen'ers, actually, it's very similar to Disney fandom, but geez, sorry! Getting off track again (it's a really bad habit of mine).

Don't you just love the ideas I pull out of my butt sometimes? I'm probably just completely full of crap, but it makes perfect sense in my head, so I run with it! But seriously, time to get back to the important stuff (although I've probably lost most of you already), so how about we FINALLY get to the song, shall we?

Tomorrow is Top 10 Tuesday day, so we'll resume the review on Wednesday. Just to give a frame of reference though, here is a Red Carpet Massacre example (which I do actually like but isn't very Duran sounding), Skin Divers produced by Timbaland:

And, since I mentioned him specifically, the Justin Timberlake produced Falling Down (which is Duran, especially when it comes to the music video):

Can you hear Justin beneath the layers of Simon's voice? Not much really, but he is definitely there. I have to give Justin credit, at least on this song he let Duran be Duran and didn't try to change them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Duran Duran - #2 Night In The City

I'm going to continue on with my album review of Duran Duran's newest, Paper Gods. This post should be a lot shorter than the last one (that intro stuff ALWAYS takes more time), so yea me!

Song 2, Last Night In the City features Kiesza (I don't know who she is, but I guess that doesn't matter). It starts off very non-Duran and could literally be something off of Red Carpet Massacre versus this album. Again, like the first song, as this one progresses, it starts to have a very Astronaut Album sound and I can appreciate it more, it's just that opening that throws me because I always expect the first note to be Simon, not someone else (yes, I know that Paper Gods was also begun by someone else, but it wasn't as startling as it is on this one).

A lot of the songs from the new album have featured guests, something Duran really hasn't done this heavily since the Arcadia album (and yes, I consider Arcadia a Duran album and not the Power Station ones (which I consider a true side project), a by-product of being a Simon-ite maybe, but no one can convince me that Arcadia doesn't have a Duran-type sound, albeit a bit more synth-based and dark. Besides, despite the heavy funk beats of The Power Station project, I think that Notorious (the album made after they came back together, well, minus two Taylors that is) has a much stronger Arcadia influence overall, but I'm digressing (I do that a lot).

Night In The City is a very club-centric song, but very danceable (I don't dance, but if I did, I could definitely "get down" to this one). It's definitely a good workout song, so maybe it will motivate me to get my butt on the treadmill, 'ey?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Duran Duran - #1 Paper Gods

I've never been one to actually achieve a short post, especially about something I'm passionate about. I chalk it up to my lack of vocality in "real life", but it's really just that I'm extremely opinionated and passionate about only a couple of things or people (one of the best Asperger traits, IMO). I know I've been a bit blog-absent lately as well...it's too close to Disney for me. I don't usually stitch during this time anyway because of planning and my Disney Movie watching challenge really wore me out (I've been pretty much watching nothing but horror movies on Netflix ever since).

Friday, Duran Duran's new album Paper Gods came out, so what better reason to dip my toes back into Blog World than some good ol'D2! I originally started this post as a single album review, but by the time I was only halfway done and it was literally over 2000 words, I figured I might want to break it up a bit, so I restarted and I'm going to do a post per song and, excluding this first one (of course), most of them might actually turn out fairly short, so good news all around!

I also know I just did a very Duran-centric blog post on Duran Duran Appreciation Day, but it's been almost four years since I've had new Duran material and this stuff is REALLY good, which is why I want to do a song-by-song review of the entire album in the first place. Plus, I got the Deluxe Edition, so there are three bonus songs on it as well I need to cover, for a total of 15 (yeah, I made the right decision splitting this up)

The good thing about Duran is that they don't just do remixes of the same songs and call them bonuses, but actually put on completely new ones, so you really get 15 new songs. In the old days, we used to call them B-sides, because they were on the B-side of the 45 (if you don't know what a 45 is, you should probably either completely skip this series or maybe not...you might learn something!). Some of Duran's B-sides are actually more famous than their album songs and it was a powerful medium, back in my day (boy, I'm sounding old lately, is it because I'm about to turn 45 myself?).

I did get an actual CD of the album instead of the download, I really only do this with my most favorite of bands, but always with Duran and I often get it in various other forms as well like LP's (they still release them too), but the LP will have to wait until after Disney expense is over with. I maybe a techie, but I'm also old school and like to "hold" my music...word! And, no matter how good digital files get, they will never beat the sound of an actual LP and I don't really know why, that's just the way it is.

Let me get stop rambling though and get into the meat of this album! The very first song, Paper Gods, threw me for a loop at first. It's already been "previewed" on YouTube (I think of it more as "leaked", but I guess it's a matter of opinion nowadays, especially since it's actually Duran Duran doing the "leaking"-I made a funny!). But seriously, the song Paper Gods is my Wild Boys.

I know I've told this story before, but the very first time I heard Wild Boys on the radio, I bawled (not cried, but full-on bawled) like a baby..."my band was ruined", "the song was horrible", yada yada yada. I probably went on for a couple of days whining before I really LISTENED to the song and then I started to "get" it although I never really loved WB like I do this song and Duran Duran got a LOT of radio airplay back in the Wild Boy days, but I digress.

The beginning of Paper Gods reminded me of one of the songs off one of the Twilight soundtracks and, at first, I was all like "what the hell?" (no Wild Boys type bawling occurred, just a cuss word or two). As the song progressed though, I started to see what a beautiful song it really is and about the fifth time I listened, it started to absorb into my psyche and I now feel it in my blood every single time I play it (oh, and FYI, that's the sign of a true Duranie...we keep playing songs over and over even when we hate them). It's a bit more political than Duran usually does, but I don't mind them going dark every once in a while...I like to refer to this song as Dark Girls On Film.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I need to do this, but I'm going to for reference sake...here's Wild Boys in it's full music video format (do you guys remember those?):

Tomorrow, I'll do song #2 and so on. I will skip Tuesday because of the Top 10 Tuesday's post, but I'll resume with song #4 on Wednesday. Hopefully, by the end of this series, I will have either created some new Duranies or re-awakened some old ones but, if you do like these songs, please go and download the album from iTunes (or buy it in touchable form) and give the band their credit. I'm giving the YouTube links to the songs released by the band themselves, but only to show them off (probably the same reason the band put them there in the first place). Anyway, the audio quality of a YouTube file is horrible compared to the "real thing", especially if you listen with headphones, so why would anyone really judge music seriously based on a YouTube audio file? And, as much as I hate Taylor Swift, she's right in that artists deserve to be paid for their work and my boys still have kids to feed! The more albums bought means the higher up the charts they go (or so it used to be, I wonder nowadays), and I'd really see Duran kick one out of the park!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Top 10 Dream Destinations

The Suddenly Kate Show

Now that the Disney Movie Challenge is over with, I'm finally ready to join in with the Top 10 Tuesdays Blog Challenge. For those that don't know, my good friend Kate over at The Suddenly Kate Show came up with a blog challenge that has a weekly theme. All you have to to is take the theme and fill it with your own personal flavor. As of now, I think that it's just Kate and Tiffany over at Tiffstitches a Blog (and now me), but give her a holler and get added to the list because everyone is welcome!

This week's theme is your Top 10 Dream Destinations, a theme that is both really easy and quite difficult for me. Obviously, the top spots will be of Disney orientation but, because of my issues (or my Asperness, as I've taken to calling it lately), something as simple as going to Wal-Mart is a massive challenge for me, so the thought of travelling anywhere other than my old beaten paths is almost out of the question. A passing thought of a dream destination is one thing, but actually thinking seriously about such things can literally send me into one or all of my phases, be it full-on panic mode, a deep depression, extreme hermitting, or complete and utter avoidance of the topic altogether. I've gone through all of these phases with Disneyland planning this year and any ideas I had of going anywhere else in the future all pretty much ride on how this trip goes, but that's a story for another day.

I'm not really sure how I'm going to keep this short and sweet...not my strong suit, but without further ado, here we go!


This is now, and shall forever be, my dream place to visit, no matter how many times I've been in the past or how many times I'll go in the future. I may not be able to go to Wal-Mart by myself, but I've been to Disney World three times alone, two times flying and once driving (which, despite the 14 hour length, is SO much easier for me than the 2 hour flight...well other than when I need a bathroom break and I'm too terrified to stop anywhere so I end up holding it until I need gas which doesn't make it any easier to stop but then it's more important than my bladder), and I will probably go by myself again someday, although it is cheaper to travel with others.

Disney World is a place that always changes (and it's going a MASSIVE change right now and will be for the foreseeable future), there are enough hotels that you can go over 24 or 25 times and never stay at the same resort twice, there are four parks, two waterparks, a massive shopping district, two miniature golf courses and several championship ones, there's a World of Sports complex, and there is even a housing subdivision located right inside the property (for the extremely wealthy-my first lottery win expenditure, FYI) ...what more could anyone want? There is no way you can see and do even a modicum of everything in 10 days, let alone a lifetime, and it never fails that I always see and do something I've never done before every single trip, even if I can only afford to go once a year.

This makes #2 on the list because it's a place I've always wanted to go, and have never done...that is until NEXT MONTH (I can't believe it's almost time!). It's Walt's original park, the one that started it all, and despite my extreme fears over going, I can't imagine not ever experiencing it at least once in my lifetime. I've never really had much of a desire to go to California until recently (or anywhere West for that matter...again, a story for another day, or another number lower down the list here), but Disneyland is the exception.

Obviously, I'm quite proud of being of Scottish descent, so visiting the "Mother Land" should rank pretty high with me. Logistically, I can't really think too deeply on the matter for the reasons stated above, but I do still have family there that I would like to meet (although again, a pretty difficult feat) and see where my people came from. Plus, because Aspers do have heightened senses, I'm more than a little curious to see if my blood feels the pull to the land that I always imagined it would. But the other side of that coin is the overabundance of historical energy throwing my senses out of whack (something I have trouble enough with in parts of this country, let alone one a heck of a lot older than ours!).

Obviously, I have a bit of an obsession with all things British. I listened to British music almost exclusively (and still do), watched British TV more than American (and still do), and I tend to find even the most ordinarily looking British male highly superior to his (by definition) "gorgeous" American counterpart. I love the culture, the art, the architecture, the vibe, the whole ball of wax, as it were. I'm not sure if that's a side effect of growing up in the South where there is no culture at all (at least not where I live) or a tie to a past life, but I feel British in my heart and always have (although my British accent is quite horrible and my Scottish sounds more Irish than Scots). My pull to England might actually be stronger than Scotland, so these two really probably should be in the same number, but I went with Scotland first because, as we like to say in the South, "blood is thicker than water". I don't have family in England (that I know about), but I have a couple of friends (one in particular), who does deserve a visit from me someday!

I have been here before, on our first Disney World vacation when I was 10, but I've ALWAYS wanted to go back, especially now as an adult and because my space and planetary obsession has gotten stronger with age. My problem is always that no one will go with me! I keep asking, especially on driving Disney World trips, but I always get a veritable NO from my travelling companions and there is no way I could ever go by myself. Maybe someday, but not in the foreseeable future. Since my Sister really doesn't read my blog anymore, then I don't mind publishing that I'm going to push really hard for it next year, especially since her husband is going too and I think he'll enjoy it. We'll see.

I haven't been to the American West much...I've pretty much covered all the ground East, but the few trips I've ever taken into the West have all ended in disaster for one reason or another (good omen for Disneyland). I've been to Texas three or four times (I forget) and HATED every single trip. I've been to church camp in New Mexico which was also horrid. About the only Westward thing I've ever done that I've enjoyed have been day trips either on the Western side of Arkansas, or across the border to Oklahoma. I've also gone to Kansas several times just to buy lottery tickets (because it's one of the few states that you can claim it anonymously...a must for today's world), but it's not a place I enjoy, at least not the Arkansas border of it.

When it comes to West, I guess there is a bit of backstory I need to give. Our very first trip to Disney World when I was 10 was my "last" family vacation. I refused to go with my parents anywhere after that and didn't for a very long time (and I stupidly thought that since we were all grown in 2004, we could try again, but that one was even worse than the first trip!). I either went on vacation with my step-dad's parents or my Aunt and Grandmother, eventually with just my mother then just my ex-husband, then back to just my mother or my Sister, but never my parents together. They went places, but I stayed home (yes, that first Disney World trip was THAT horrible...funny how I keep going back now, guess it takes going with the "right" people to enjoy it). My parents and my sister did go West once, to see all the big monuments like The Grand Canyon and Yosemite or Yellowstone (I always get those two mixed up), the Painted Desert, etc. That's the only trip they ever took that I was jealous over not going (although not jealous enough to break my vow obviously).

So back to now when the subject of Disneyland came up, my first thought was driving it (and not just because of my fear of airports...not flying itself, but the actual airports and more specifically security...go figure). Obviously, logistically that would add two weeks to the journey, especially when I started making a list of all the places I wanted to see (which took me weeks because each time I Googled a place, I'd have a panic attack), but it brought up the idea of a me and Bam driving trip, maybe next year. The more I looked at it, the more I decided I should probably do two separate trips, one South West and a different one North West, but as Disneyland planning has progressed and my Asperness episodes get worse, that plan has obviously been scrapped completely. I just don't think I can handle planning a non-Disney World trip ever again, especially right now. Maybe in a year I'll see things differently, especially if my Disneyland trip goes well and I can get back to my home turf at Disney World next year.

This is another one of those places I've been to before (with my Aunt and Grandmother), but I was too young to appreciate it. Granted, I was 16, but I can now admit that I was a very immature 16 year-old (the joys of Asperness), and was probably no better off emotionally than when we went to Disney World when I was 10. I'd like to go back and see all the monuments again, go back to the Smithsonian and enjoy it (this time), and just relish in American history, a topic I never really cared about as a kid (probably because I wished I was British).

This one is a bit weird. I went through a "French" phase as kid, especially because I was an artist and had a love for all things art, but five years of French (both high school and college) and the shutting off of my "art gene" pretty much extinguished all French dreams. Even now, when I think about going to France, I only see one destination, Disneyland Paris...sad but true. Granted, maybe I would want a quick stop off at Notre Dame, especially since I studied it so much in my youth, but it would have to be quick and on the way to Disney. It would be extremely hard to convince anyone to go to France with me and only go to Disneyland Paris, but every so often I do bring the subject up...never hurts to try, right? Alas, people just don't see things like I do and I pretty much get laughed at every single time. Oh well, the desire isn't that strong anyway.

Again, convincing someone to go to a foreign country just to go to Disney is hard enough, but add to that my utter terror of going anywhere other than the normal, and this is one of those, "never in a million years" scenarios. But hey, it doesn't keep me from thinking about going when I see cool pictures on the Disney blogs of the other parks and this is a Dream Destination topic after all, right? Other than Britain and briefly France, my desire to travel outside the US has always been pretty much nil. I've been to Canada and Mexico (long ago before you needed a passport to do such), but that has always been the extent of my out-of-country travels. I know there are some fabulous things to see in this world, but I'd much rather do it from the safety of my living room than actually going there. Only a Disney park would be enough of a pull to get me outside the norm and I'm not sure that even that is enough when it comes to very far away Asian destinations. That may sound sad to some, but trust me when I say that my stress level would be so great at being in a foreign land, not only would I not enjoy it, but I would be terrified to even travel outside of my house (and yes, that has happened to me in the past with in-country travelling, let alone outside)...I guess I'll just have to stick to Epcot's World Showcase for my foreign influences!

Here's where I get more honest than I probably ever have out loud. I do think that loyalty is an admirable trait, but in my case it is more of a curse because I tend to take loyalty to the extreme. It's not just a Disney thing either (although I do own Disney stock, so giving money to the "enemy" is actually financially stupid and let's not even go into the Oswald debacle or their greediness when it comes to Marvel rights...I'll never shut up then). But, there is a very tiny part of me that would like to see the place just once, if for no other reason than just to stay I've been there. It really is Disney's only "true" competition, so all those other amusement-type parks I've visited in my day don't count (and I'm not calling them theme parks because they were far from it). Back in the day, we went to Sea World before it ballooned, but that place creeped me out (I've never been a fan of the whole animal vibe-type places anyway like zoos and such, so it wasn't surprising - I don't like seeing animals in the wild but I also don't like seeing them in cages either). But considering I can't even bring myself to type the name of the "other" place, guess that's pretty much a no-go place to visit.

Granted, I really wanted to add my living room as a dream destination, especially if I could win the lottery and would never have to leave it (except to cross the road to get to Disney World, of course), but I tried to be a bit more realistic. And speaking of realism, honestly, I would be grateful just to be able to get out and drive around like I used to do in my younger days, like drive down to Biloxi for the day just to walk on the beach for five minutes, or go to various other states to see Duran Duran play (as I have done many a time back in the day), or just drive to clear my head as I did every night for most of my early 20's, but I think those days are far behind me now. I'm too set in my ways to even drive home from work in a different direction (and I've been known to freak out more than once when I even had to drive in the opposite lane for one reason or the other).

Now, the thought of getting out on the road to see where it takes me terrifies me to no end and I'm not sure why considering I used to do it so much without a problem and now we have cell phones and GPS to help when you get lost (not that GPS helps too much on that front as anyone who's been taken through the "scenic route" (as I like to call it) by your GPS knows). A lot of it may have to do with my isolation from others...my mother is too annoying to me to travel with anymore, my Sister has a life of her own and a husband, I have way less than a handful of friends, only one of which I can travel with (and again, that may be shot to hell once Disneyland is over and done with)...basically, I am pretty much alone in the world and I travelling is one of the few things I do prefer to do with others.

Like I said, I'm not big on the idea of actually travelling to a foreign country and that includes island nations. As much as I love the ocean, I will NOT, no matter how much weight I lose or if I had surgery to remove the excess skin, would I walk on a beach in anything other than long shorts and a T-shirt, so that's kind of a mute point. Besides, I was forced to watch so many home movies taken from either cruise ships on the way to Hawaii or the islands themselves (a popular destination for my parents when we were young), that I could go my whole life without even seeing another picture of the place. It's also probably the reason that I could care less about cruises, even a Disney one. There are places I wanted to go to more than anything (Boston is always the first one that comes to mind), but they ended up being horrible disappointments in the the end (although I would like to go back to Massachusetts to visit family). There are places that I knew would cause me trouble (like New Orleans or Gettysburg and the like) and I went anyway, only to be proven right and terrified to ever go back again (that damned Asper sensitivity thing!). It's probably why my Dream Destination list is not only limited, but not too varied...I'm just not an adventurous person.

And that's it, my first Top 10 Tuesday! I think this ended up pretty long, but it really didn't take me any time to write it...funny that! Here's hoping for the same next week!