Friday, April 29, 2011

From Cassettes to Ipods...My Musical Journey

I own a lot of CDs. Compact Discs. That musical invention that came out after the cassette yet before ITunes was created. The thin, round donut-looking disc that used to cost like $21.99 at The Wall yet only had 12 songs on it. But you begrudgingly paid that astronomical amount because that was the ONLY way to get your music unless you taped it off the radio (Guilty).  The CD usually came with a sweet booklet with the song lyrics (if you were lucky) and a couple of snazzy photos of the band/artist. Of course, the minute you took out the CD, it usually got scratched which made 30 seconds into song 2 sound like a dizzying techno version. You learned to live through that though. 

I remember my first CD like it was yesterday. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. I didn’t really know or like her yet but my cousin got it for me so I knew it had to be cool. As if this was planned, my parents bought me my first boom box that year. To replace my pink cassette player, I received a GIGANTIC neon purple and silver CD player WITH a radio AND a cassette player (in case I wanted to tape anything off the radio).  To have all three options in one device, I couldn’t have been more overjoyed.

The boom box got retired several years later when I was given my first stereo system. The huge, black, hulking stereo that took up a whole shelf on my bookcase. I had to use my desk chair to put CDs in but that inconvenience was nothing compared to the thrill I felt when I put THREE (Count ‘em..THREE) CDs in at once. No more getting up every hour to change the CD for this girl! I was officially in heaven.

The days of recording off the radio and listening to cassettes that sounded like they were from the 1950s was over. I was fully in compact disc mood and would remain in there for most of my youth. 

When music downloading became big in late ‘98/’99 I found myself overwhelmed by all the possibilities that came to light. I can now download all the bands whose CD I couldn’t find anywhere! I dove into illegal music downloading with a vengeance only an awkward, young, music obsessed tween could have. 

I spent all my waking hours when I wasn’t in school under an itchy blanket in my near Arctic basement downloading every song ever recorded by all my favorite artists. Back in the day of low speed dial up, one song could take 5 hours to download. But not only did this not deter me, it made me that much more determined. I was going to download the entire Newfound Glory album before it came out in stores if it took me 18 hours in my dank basement. Why spend $21.99 of my hard earned birthday money at The Wiz when I can dedicate 18 hours of my Saturday to downloading 11 two minute long songs? Never underestimate an 11 year old girl with no social life.

The only problem that arose (minus my mom kicking me off line every time she made a phone call which was oh…every five minutes) was how do I transfer this music onto a disc? Being the only one in my family who dedicated myself on how to use a computer, I didn’t really know how to go about this. I tried putting the music on a floppy disk but it just never worked. So I was stuck. Then one of the greatest inventions ever came my way just in time for the Christmas season. That’s correct….I am talking about the CD burner.

I’m not sure when exactly CD burners came on the scene. Probably a good five years before we got one. But with the amount of music me and my brother were downloading, not only was our computer slower than shit, we got a different virus every day. So to have a device where we could essentially take our stolen music, burn it to a CD, and then delete the file; well let’s just say not only did it make our computer faster but it made my Dad a lot less angry.

I was burning CDs faster than a sweatshop. I made CDs for every occasion and gave them out like gifts. I even got fancy for a while and bought a label maker and designed my own labels for the CDs. After a couple of them I realized I was too lazy and not artistically talented.  I lived in my world of illegal music and awesome CDs for the good part of my teenage-hood. Until lo and behold, another technological advance was right on the horizon.

I had gone through about 5 portable CD players and was sick of buying new ones. That’s when I saw a girl at school had a CD player that played MP3 CDs too. Which means it could play up to 200 songs and display the titles of every song. It was my wet dream. I received one for X-Mas and was stoked for about…5 months. My dreams dissipated when the now generation-defying Ipod made its debut at my high school in late 2002.

To think that a little device such as that Ipod could hold all my songs AND fit in my pocket was too much for my 14 year old mind to comprehend. I was so used to lugging first the Walkman and then the Discman around that just the thought of an Ipod deemed incomprehensible. 

I’ll admit it took me a couple of years to come around. As convenient and awesome as the Ipod seemed..I wasn’t ready to let go of my CDs yet. I still enjoyed buying and making them and having a physical item in my possession of my favorite artists’ music. I didn’t like the thought that if my computer were to crash (which it did…weekly) all my songs would be lost.

My first iPod that I received coincided with the day my dad changed from dial up to Optimum Online.  Some of my friends had Optimum and just the thought that it wouldn’t take 15 minutes to connect to the Internet was the best thing since the invention of the dollar menu at Mickey D’s. I treaded lightly with my new Ipod (the big X-Mas gift of ’05) and spent most of my Christmas vacation organizing and re-organizing my ITunes. I downloaded the album covers to feel as if I wasn’t a complete sell out. By the end of my Christmas break, I was sold.

To this day I still have my first Ipod and use it on a daily basis. I can’t really picture taking my Sony Discman to the gym and when I bought my car, I was astounded to see it had a cassette player. My music journey from the cassette to the Ipod has only made my love for music stronger. And the fact that it is easily accessible and cheap doesn’t hurt either. I now see where my parents are coming from when they are reluctant to give in to technology. It was a hard transition to make but completely worth it. I still buy CDs if I really love the band and I am a huge fan of mixed CDs. Now,  if only I would have known nine ago that downloading a CD could take less than a minute, there would have been a lot less holes in the wall.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Top 10 List of Ultimate Nerds

As I was watching Saved By the Bell before work this morning, I became inspired to make a list of my favorite nerds. It seems every show in the ‘90s had a nerdy sidekick who brought all the comedic laughs.  Most of them got pigeon holed as being a “good nerd” and never got offered other roles.  I’m sure that made them every depressed and they’ve appeared in some Lifetime movies to try and gain an audience. Which we all know doesn’t work. Anywho, here’s my list:

Top 10 Ultimate Nerds

10.) Chuckie (Rugrats)- Chuckie was known for his crazy, red hair, glasses,  and semi-buck teeth. He was Tommy’s partner in crime and would usually whine about getting involced in Tommy’s schemes. 

9.) Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)- Not really a nerd but made famous by his black trendster glasses. His video for “Buddy Holly” shows that he would have been super hot if we were in the ‘50s. Actually, I guess he is still attractive in a nerdy way.

8.) Millhouse (The Simpsons)-Bart’s best friend. Always looks timid and scared. He always tags along on Bart’s crazy escapades. He has a hardcore crush on Lisa and gets bullied every day.

7.) Paul (The Wonder Years)- Kevin’s best friend. It as rumored that a young Marilyn Manson played this part but that isn’t true. He had big black glasses and a bowl cut and a pretty big nose. He was allergic to everything and I’m pretty sure he had a thing for Wendy.

6.) Kimmy Gibler (Full House): DJ’s BFF and next door neighbor. She had a bit of a big nose, crazy ‘80s hair and super neon jumpers. She ate all the food in the Tanner household and was in love with Uncle Jesse. Her dirtiness made Danny nuts and she was always the third wheel between DJ & Steve

5.) Stuart Minkus (Boy Meets World): The typical annoying kiss ass to Mr.Feney  in Corey and Shawn’s class. He was in love with Topanga (who at that time,was also quite a nerd). He also rocked the bowl cut and had a large head. He randomly stopped appearing in episodes during the second season.

4.) Carlton Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)- Will’s uber geeky cousin. Carlton was known for being super preppy, dancing to Tom Jones, and not having any luck with the ladies. If I remember correctly, he cried to Will about dying a virgin. He kissed Uncle Phil’s ass mercilessly and just about everyone hated him. Especially G, the butler.

3.) Andrea Zuckerman (Beverly Hills: 90210): Nerdy girl who worked on school newspaper with Brandon. Somehow became friends with the cool crowd but always stuck out. Super bookworm and always had to be right. Always wanted to be with Brandon and he was too nice to say she was ugly and annoying. Nobody liked Andrea Zuckerman. Especially after she had a baby, got fat, and cheated on Jesse, her loving Spanish husband whom doted on her.

2.) Steve Urkel (Family Matters)-Urkel rocked the suspenders up to his nipples look with oversized glasses and a super squeaky voice. In one episode, he  invented “cool juice” which made him into super suave Stefan Urquelle.  He was desperately in love with Laura although I think the only one who liked him was the old Grandma.

1.) Screech Powers (Saved By the Bell)- Screech had a mop of curly hair, was super skinny, displayed some unusual facial expressions and was a basic spaz. He was Zack’s best friend ( I have no idea how) and was in love with Lisa Turtle. Nobody returned his affection but Violet ( a young Tori Spelling), another super-geek. Nowadays, Screech has turned into a mega dousche and is best known for cursing out Harvey the drill instructor on Celebrity Fit Club.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: NBC's TheVoice

I’ll admit it. I gave in to the soul crushing promotion and watched The Voice on NBC last night. My brain was so convoluted with the constant promos and advertisements as soon as 9pm came about last night, I proclaimed “The Voice is on!” Which is exactly what NBC wanted me to do.

Did I expect anything earth shattering? Hardly. Did I kinda expect a bitchy Christina Aguilera and a stiff Carson Daly? Absolutely. Was I wrong? I’d say it was a toss up.
I don’t want to completely re-hash how the show works since they did that last night about fifty times. But if you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, here is a quick recap. The Voice’s prides itself on working with up and coming singers based completely on how they sing and not their stage performance or their looks. Four judges (Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine from Maroon 5, and Blake Shelton) have their backs turned to the stage. While each performer sings, the judges have the opportunity to press their button and turn their chair around. If they do this, that means they want the singer on their “team.” Each judge is allowed 8 people to join their “team” and those 8 people will be mentored  and groomed by said judge. If more than one judge wants a specific singer, it is up to the singer to decide who they want to work with. If nobody turns their chair around, the singer is dismissed.

All the singers were pre-selected to perform and are all semi to really talented. This is no American Idol auditions. Since the judges have their backs turned to the singers, sometimes it is a surprise to see where the awesome voice comes from. Case & Point:  the 42-year-old bull dyke with a shaved head who sang Janis Joplin. She had a good voice but I really doubt she will ever be marketable to the public. Middle aged bull dykes with neck tattoos don’t have the biggest audience.

I disgress. The show wasn’t horrible. I liked how they couldn’t see the contestants. Most of them however were fairly decent to beautiful 20-30 year olds. The ones that weren’t stereotypically beautiful just need a good stylist and perhaps a good workout and I’m sure they would be pop material. I was surprised at some of the more unique sounding voices. It seemed to me Cee Lo Green wanted to mentor every person who performed. Adam Levin’s enthusiasm for the singers he chose was cute in a weird, competitive way. Christina Aguilera was unexpectedly sweeter than I would have thought. She’s definitely the best vocalist in terms of the judges. But many of the performers chose to work with Cee Lo or Blake because they didn’t want to go the pop star route. I can’t say I blame them.

In the beginning I thought it would be a given that the country acts would want to work with Blake, the girls with Xtina, the true “artists” with Cee Lo, and the rockers with Adam. However, I was thrown for a loop when Blake didn’t automatically choose every person that performed a country song. It seemed he was a lot more specific in what he wanted in his team than the rest of the judges. Cee Lo would take anyone, Xtina held out for the people who hit all those hard to reach notes and Adam wanted the unique voices to put together “the winning team.”

They only completely dismissed two or three people. And those people probably would have made it to the finals in American Idol. There were one or two ladies whom I didn’t really think had that great of a voice but got through any way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Confession: I Am A Half Drinker

It seems as if recently many of my unusual habits have come to light. People have been commenting on things I do subconsciously and bringing it to my attention. Which leads me to think I have some super weird habits. Some of them I honestly had no idea I was doing and others I knew I was doing but didn’t think it was that weird.

We all have some sort of routine or habit in our life that other people may deem a bit off. I’m talking things you do without even thinking every day. I’m a notorious half drinker. I never noticed it until it has been pointed out to me by..oh, everyone…the past couple of months. Now I know this habit has stemmed from when I lived in a dorm in college. I only had a mini fridge with a certain amount of juiceboxes in it for a week. So I would half drink a juicebox then put it back in the fridge for later. It was a matter of being frugal. But now that habit has stemmed to me leaving only tiny amounts of liquid in a cup and putting it back in the fridge. Which annoys the hell out of everyone around me. All I want is a nice cold drink in a frosty glass. Is that too much to ask?

Another habit that spawned from my college years would be my inability to sleep if there is anything on my bedroom floor. I was always a semi-OCD neat person but my freshman year of college I shared a tiny dorm room with another person. So in actuality I went from having my own mid-sized bedroom to half of a tiny dorm. Which put my OCD into overdrive. I could not fall asleep until everything in my room was in place. My computer had to have all the files closed, my clothes needed to be put away, and my school stuff needed to be neatly stacked under my bed. This particular habit ingrained itself into my brain and from then on I absolutely cannot sleep unless everything is in its place. I don’t care how tired, drunk or lazy I am; I will not sleep with any disorder around me.

There are plenty of other things I do that even I can’t explain. I hate having double songs on my Itunes so I will systematically go through each song, delete doubles, and correct the spelling on everything. I have a folder for every major expense in my life and make sure to put all paperwork in the correct folder. I cannot leave my house unless my bed is made. I could go on for days.

Yes, all of these things make me unusual. But I’ve met people who are superstitious to the point of having to wear the same pair of boxers every time they play in a basketball game. And those who have to re-sharpen their pencil before every use so their writing is perfect. Not to mention those that vacuum their rooms every day so their rug has the perfect “lines” on it.

I know I’m not the only one out there who has a few peculiar habits. Share yours in the comments. Or better yet, when you see me take a drink and put the cup back in the fridge with only a smidgen of juice left in it, tell me how wonderfully unique I am.