Crisco

Two weeks ago I mentioned how it was getting close to choosing Music for November. Specifically Christmas music. I’m not going to lie, I’ve snuck in a couple playlists since then. Especially on Saturday when we pulled out the decorations.

I love playing music. Over the past few months I have enjoyed Spotify as it plays on all of my devices.

Last night as I was driving home, I wanted my iPhone to play some Christmas music. Only this time it wasn’t in my car or on my phone. My Spotify account was still connected to our home. So my music was being played for my family and not me.

They got to enjoy some Christmas Disco. Or as my daughter has decided to dub it, CRISCO. Probably my most favorite term this year now. And very fitting considering how much baking we do during the holidays as well.

From here on out, when I’m baking and listening to Christmas music- it’s only Crisco for the whole household!

Music For November

Halloween is over, so no more spooky music playing in my home. A few years ago I began playing Christmas Music at the start of November. This year my wife has asked me not to.

So what do I play in the mean time? Should I put on Guns N’ Roses “November Rain” on repeat? I have no problem playing that song for hours on end. Pretty sure my family would think it is some sort of torture by the fourth or fifth time it starts. I could always play Disco.

I’m not sure why, but my family despises my disco music. I’m always up for a bit of dancing around the house to some classic 70’s beats. “Disco is not dead! Disco is life!

Or I can just put on some calming Chamber music. I love classical music as an ambience for our home. Considering we do call it Castle Havelka.

I’ll still be sneaking some Christmas music in soon in hopes that the family doesn’t notice. Maybe Christmas Disco or Christmas Chamber Music…

Spooky Music 2020

Recently, I have been playing spooky music in our home. It all started with Creepy Carnival Music that I discovered on Spotify. I was enjoying it last weekend, but my family was not a fan. So I played some more “fun” music.

My daughters and I have been singing along to “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Little Shop Of Horrors” and “Wicked”. All very lively and kooky musicals. It’s great that I know the words to two of the musicals. Unfortunately I have yet to see “Wicked” but it is on my list.

While the family was out this evening, I had to make dinner. So I decided that o wanted to listen to Nine Inch Nails. It has been years, so I chose to play “Pretty Hate Machine” on of my all time favorite albums. I discovered a version done by Vitamin String Quartet that was beautifully crafted. Somehow I missed this album when it was released- 2002! Probably because I was busy becoming a father for the first time.

What do you listen to at Halloween?

Let me know in the comments.

Beetlejuice Time

Halloween family film tonight is the 1988 classic- Beetlejuice.

This is easily one of our favorite films to traditionally watch each year. Kind of like when we watch Independence Day on July 4th. Or our regular viewing of Christmas Story every year.

I loving having traditions like this. Where we as a family just hang out on a Friday night and enjoy a film we’ve seen numerous times.

We also enjoy “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and have that movie memorized. Along with each and every song. Which reminds me- Beetlejuice is a Broadway musical now! I need to see it one day.

Do you have any family movies you watch regularly with your kids?

Forgotten Songs of My Teenage Years

This morning I spent a considerable amount of time putting together an eclectic playlist on Spotify. Find it Here. Creating this playlist sent me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia.

Many of the songs remind me of old friendships and fun times. Driving around town, sitting in my bedroom, even hanging out in class, buying albums through Columbia House, and overplayed songs on repeat. Using one headphone as you shared with a friend of the opposite sex and not hearing the stereo sound. But willing to sacrifice that for a chance to sit closer.

I still have many of my cds. But they are stored away in a steamer trunk as I don’t have a way to play them except in my car. And even then- using Bluetooth to play different playlists is the new normal. So much more convenient than the large booklets of cds we once carried around.

Enjoy the musical trip down my memory lane. A couple songs are NSFW but fun nonetheless.

Edit: An old friend asked to make this “Collaborative”. Anyone who knew me from my teenage years and can think of a song that reminds them of me- add away!

Autumn Jazz and Mixer

Spotify Fun

I discovered an Autumn Jazz mix on Spotify. It has some great classics, and tons of songs that I know from years of hearing them. I appreciate these playlists more than expected.

This playlist is filled with a bunch of 1940’s-1980’s music. Lots of trumpets and swing style songs. Great as background music while siting around.

I catch myself dancing around the house as well while no one is here. Even shaking my butt in my chair while sitting at the table having lunch. If music moves you- why not share the joy with others?

Honestly, I was listening to White Zombie earlier this morning. Which is quite the difference to what I am listening to now. Do you have an autumn go-to playlist?

Audrey 3

I love musicals. I have shared my love of them with my family. In turn, they have grown to love them as well.

One of my favorite musical films is “Little Shop Of Horrors”. A great comedic cast that pulls it together in such a way that I couldn’t imagine anyone else performing the songs.

Over the summer, our middle child and I would play the soundtrack on Spotify repeatedly. I think we have memorized each and every song. Much to the chagrin of my wife… but it’s still fun.

Back in the spring, I planted a red cabbage in our back garden. Our oldest named it “Audrey 3”. It thrived nicely with the other vegetables. I harvested it this afternoon for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by how big it had actually grown.

About half of Audrey 3 will be enjoyed tonight with our apple and Brie pork loin. Otherwise, that’d be too much cabbage! And the results would be far scarier than a lean green mother from outta space.

Playing 78’s

Today marks what would’ve been my father’s 78th birthday. Over the years I have not been too kind in sharing memories of him. This year I am going to do my best to share a couple of bittersweet experiences instead.

In the past I have gone to visit his grave and enjoyed a Molson Canadian beer in his honor. That was the beer of choice by my father. I remember the stale scent of Rothman’s cigarettes and beer emanating from his beard as I grew up. It was a very distinct odor on evenings and weekends that only my father possessed.

During the day, he would have the aroma of Halls Lozenges mixed in with the scent of Cigarettes. He always had a package in his car and would pop one in his mouth from time to time. They sat in the change holder near the car stereo. After unwrapping one of the square candies, he would bunch up the waxed paper into tight little balls while a song played on the radio. At the end of the song, he would place the tiny paper balls into the car’s ashtray. It was an odd habit, but one that was distinctly his.

I never knew my father to enjoy music the way I do. In September of 1981 he did buy a brand new stereo from Sears. Perhaps as a birthday gift to himself since he rarely wished to celebrate birthdays in group settings. The JVC LXI came in numerous large metallic framed pieces. A set of oversized 12” subwoofers, an amplifier, tape deck, radio and record player. I was with him when he purchased it from the local Sears in Edmonton. We brought it home and he set it up in the dining room on the china cabinet. Where it would remain until we moved.

I remember that once it was set up, he put on a record and I sat directly in front of one of the speakers to listen to the music. I was five at the time and just amazed at the magic behind how it worked. After a few hours, my father made me wear some headphones instead and turned off the speakers.

For the remaining few years in Edmonton, my mother would put on her “Highland records” and sing her Scottish songs. Occasionally ABBA would be put on the turntable (I think that’s where my love of disco originated). I was never allowed to touch the records in fear that I would scratch them. As well, my records were only permitted on my children’s plastic record player- not the high end one that my dad purchased.

Looking back on that purchase, I realized my father didn’t do it for himself. He did it for my mother… and in a way for me. I became entranced by music that wasn’t just learning my ABC’s. I fell in love with all genres and memorized numerous song lyrics as I grew up. The only music my father would listen to was the radio on his commute. No cassettes or records were ever played by him in our home.

Nowadays, in my home, music is always being played throughout the house. I set up speakers in every room, and we play music that keeps us all entertained. The family sometimes argues over what to listen to, because they don’t always want to listen to disco… but that’s okay. We all enjoy the fact that music brings us together.

Perhaps now my father listens to his collection of 78’s in the afterlife. Keeping his emotions to himself like he always did. His bits of sharing while he was alive was minimal, but effectual. I always thought he liked Elvis because of the records he owned, but I could be wrong.

That’s my story about my father and how he inadvertently created my love of music. Happy Birthday Dad.

More Than A Feeling

I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away.

Something about music can bring forth memories or feelings. Hearing songs from years ago can truly raise your spirits. I have become fascinated over the years at the variety of genres that I enjoy. Each time I put on something new, I find I over indulge in the music.

Unless it’s country. No time for that genre to pollute my ear holes.

I have written about music numerous times now. It’s nothing new to my readers. I would like to write my own music eventually. Just don’t get me to sing- I am self conscious about that. Especially if it were to hit the interwebs.

Hopefully one day I can piece together a song and say, “Here’s a little number I tossed off recently in the Caribbean.”

Because reasons…

Transcendental Music

I worked for twelve hours. I drove for forty five minutes to get to work and forty five minutes to get home. I got home, I put on some music, and made dinner for everyone. We ate our burgers on the back patio, shared some stories of the day, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Slowly, everyone left the table. No words were said. Just one by one they left. Until I remained. Hoping one or more would return. But they did not. They left their dirty plates. They left me behind.

After about ten minutes, I changed the music. I put on some trance music by The Orb and stared off into the yard, listening to the music and the wildlife, eventually closing my eyes. I let the music take me away. Several moments passed. I had been zoned out. It was relaxing.

I miss listening to music for the sake of music. No lyrics. The occasional word is spoken. But the rhythmic nothingness of trance music with the sounds of birds chirping is zen like. I do not care that the dishes were left behind. Or that no thank you’s were offered up to me for working all day and making dinner. My wife also worked, so did our eldest. The other two had online school. We all had busy mental days. Busy happens.

Life is busy. We all experience it. Take a breather and don’t get angry. The dishes will get washed. The table will get cleared. The smiles will remain. The music will play. The time is now.

Baroness of Barrenness

Today I witnessed some of the usual oddness that humanity has to offer. I’m not sure what was going on, but I couldn’t get enough of it.

We spotted some folks on our security cameras nearby our rail yard. There was a person with a fancy video camera, an actress with a blue face, and a third person with what I can only describe as a “spritz bottle” to add a glistening shine.

I watched them do eight or nine takes of what I can only assume was a music video. She appeared to be Rage Dancing very enthusiastically. Watching her perform over the security cameras with no sound added an eeriness to it. My thoughts began to try and create a story for her.

“The Baroness of Barrenness expressed her rage. She is fed up with simply kicking the rocks of the wasteland she overlooks. Seeing no beauty and no ugly in the world has become commonplace. It was time for action. Perhaps it was time to revisit the Mushroom Death that began this new world…”

That’s the sort of oddness that filled my mind. And of course between their takes, she smiled. Obviously happy with whatever they were filming. You could see how energized the camera operator and this lady were. Spritz boy was doing his job quite effortlessly to add glistening to her face. Three artists alone making art. Not knowing we were watching.

Allow people to express themselves and all will be right in the world. I hope for these artists to experience their piece of fame. Maybe a tiktok or YouTube celebrity in the making.

Pac-Man Turns 40!

Ghost munching madness! Pacman is effing 40! I remember seeing the arcade game for the first time in a convenience store when I was like 5.

Since then I have bought numerous reiterations of the game on numerous video game consoles. From Atari to PlayStation 4, Gameboy to 1st Gen Video IPod: Pac-Man is my “Go-To” game. I will play it for hours on end.

Scott Pilgrim

Ten years ago I was excited that the Google Doodle was a playable version of Pac-Man for the 30th anniversary. And just think, In ten years it’ll be the 50th Anniversary of the game! Crazy.

But those 8bit sounds and simplistic graphics paved the way for generations of games and players.

Yes, Pac-Man is a great game. I’d love to own an original upright cabinet or cocktail table version of the game. Until that day comes, I’ll just play it on our big screen. I really enjoy playing Pac-Man Championship.

Did I tell you that I like Pac-Man?

Disneyland Churros

Disney released the greatest thing ever this week. They released their churro recipe for those of us at home who miss attending the parks. The recipe is extremely easy. Find it at Disney Parks Blog Churros.

Of course, we HAD TO MAKE THEM!

My kids had a great time helping make the churros, deep fry the churros, sugar the churros and of course- eat the churros!

It was a fun bonding time with the kids and surprisingly easy to make. (Especially with a deep fryer). I highly suggest those who love churros and miss the most magical place on earth- try this recipe. It’s a great way to bring the magic home.

And don’t forget to listen to your favorite Disney music while making them!

You’re The Cream In My Coffee

I heard a song today and it made me smile.

I’m not a poet,
How well I know it,
I’ve never been a raver,
But when I speak of you,
I rave a bit, its true.
I’m wild about you,
I’m lost without you,

You give my life its flavor,
What sugar does for tea,
That’s what you do for me.
You’re the cream in my coffee,
You’re the salt in my stew
You will always be my necessity,
I’d be lost without you
.

I listened to this song a couple more times as I drove home from work. There was something about the crack and hiss of the old recording that made it magical. It was as if the old song was speaking directly to me. Like the voice inside my head was reminding me of how much I love my wife.

Sure, it sounds cheesy. And it is. But it’s also true. I came home and at the dinner table I said the line to my wife, “You’re the cream in my coffee.” I thought I was being sweet.

My wife promptly reminded me that I don’t take cream in my coffee.

Come On Out to a Speakeasy!

At the end of the month, there is a dance in Fort Langley Community Hall that I am excited to attend. It is an opportunity for the community to support the Langley Fine Arts Dry Grad event happening later this year. There will be drinks available for purchase as well as a couple of Blackjack Tables and auction items up for grabs.

There will be plenty of “Old Timey” themes and music throughout the night. Personally, I love music from a century ago and feel inspired to be attending a Roaring 20’s dance. Because these are parents of Fine Arts students planning it-you know it’ll be well thought out and executed. Dressing the part from 100 years ago isn’t necessary, but it is encouraged!

For all my local friends who want to enjoy an evening out helping to support the Dry Grad- you can buy tickets here: Eventbrite. So get on your dancing shoes and flapper dresses! I’d love to see people attend and have a good time on February 29th!

Please share this throughout Langley and let’s make it a monumental event!

Come On Get Happy

Sometimes I overly express that people should be happy and take care of themselves. The truth is that it’s also totally okay to not happy. Look at my life. I’m a tall, thin guy who has trouble finding pants. And that sucks.

But music makes me happy. And something about music from decades ago is great for chasing away my existential blues. Those classic pop songs that you can sing along with.

Sometimes I wish I could write music. Music that others would sing for generations- even after the Hits no longer held the charts.

I also love discovering unique music at thrifts stores that was tossed aside. I’ll pick up all sorts of music from 1920’s thru to the 1980’s. Albums that no one knows or would ever need to know. They get play time now in my home.

Am I making people happy? I don’t know. Maybe in some inadvertent way. Buying an album at a thrift store ensures money goes back where it’s needed. Playing those albums brings joy to me and sometimes my family. That joy gets spread in the world to their friends.

So maybe I can make people happier.

Concert Ticket Stubs

What do you do with old concert tickets?

When I was a teenager and for a few years afterwards, I enjoyed going to concerts. Over the years, much of my musical tastes have varied to a point that I’m not sure I love one style only.

I attended shows in small venues to outdoor weekend long extravaganzas. The 90’s were filled with great shows and the music industry was booming thanks to cd’s and radio. All before mp3s or streaming.

The other day I found an old photo album of mine. Inside I discovered a page of ticket stubs. Concert tickets and show stubs ranging from comedy to magic, or gothic to alternative music. I can remember each person I attended these shows with. I loved the experiences and keeping these ticket stubs was a great reminder of these shows.

Nowadays tickets are mostly on your phone, with no way to keep them. Perhaps a screen shot? Or saving an email? Having a physical stub is a tactile item that I personally used as a memento. I also cannot believe the difference in show prices. A show cost $25 or less in the mid-90’s. Last year I went to see Queen in the nosebleeds and it cost $160! And no ticket stub!

Ya, I’m old. And I love music. I’ll gladly pay 99¢ for a song now. Or search out old records at the thrift shop. But concerts are a thing of the past for me. Because without a ticket stub, did it even happen?

Sisters Forever

A couple of years ago we discovered the joy of Andrews Sisters Jing-a-Ling on a drive home from the school. Our daughters enjoy the song and love to sing with it. It has become a staple in our Christmas music playing.

Our two girls seem to always get along this time of year. Last week when we were decorating, the two of them were loving and caring. Hugs and silliness abound. Seeing them get along like this warms my heart.

I know that over the next few years life will change. Our teenagers will become adults. They will grow up and move on in their own ways. I don’t want to look towards the future with a heavy heart. Instead I am trying to enjoy the moments we have now because these will soon become a distant memory.

And just like when we discovered the Andrews Sisters, I will become pleasantly surprised when my memories resurface once more through music and photos of yesteryear.

Enjoy the now- it’s a gift of joy. I guess that’s why it’s called The Present.

First One Out

I thought I was doing so well this year. Last night at dinner my family and I were talking about Whamageddon and how many covers there are out there. How each time a cover came o the radio, we were sure that we lost the game.

I lost the game early this morning. I got into my car and drove to work. I turned on the radio and listened to the news station. For about twenty minutes I received updates on the world and my traffic commute. Since I was driving my daughter’s car I switched over to the FM stations in hopes to listen to some loud classic rock music.

As soon as I hit the FM button, I heard “Last Christmas” just begin. It was as if the universe knew that I was to lose the game today. A large sigh and acceptance that I now had nothing left to fear from Christmas music, I let the song play out it’s familiar theme.

I even sang along.

Are you playing along with Whamageddon? Have you lasted this far into the month without hearing the original Wham! Song? Let me know in the comments.

Ghost of Christmas Present

Waking up mid afternoon after working a night shift can be bad enough. Having the house empty when you sleep usually means there’s no one to wake you- so you constantly wake and check the time to make sure you didn’t oversleep. So sleep gets broken up.

I woke up to hear noises downstairs. My brain knew that no one was supposed to be here. Maybe it was the dog? Perhaps someone stayed home?

Nope.

Turns out my family left the Christmas Music radio station on. What I heard was Christmas classics faintly echoing through the house. Those joyous hits were scaring the poop out of me.

I think my family left the station on in hopes that I would lose Whamageddon 2019 on day one!

Are You Ready For Whamageddon 2019?

December 1st is coming up. That means it’s time start the annual Whamageddon Challenge.

This game has been going on since roughly 2010 according to Wikipedia. The rules are pretty simple:

  • The player must go as long as possible without hearing Wham!’s Christmas song, “Last Christmas”
  • The game starts on the 1st of December and ends midnight of the 24th of December
  • Only the original version of “Last Christmas” applies, the player can listen to remixes and covers of the song
  • The player is out as soon as they recognise the original version of the song
  • The player must post “#Whamageddon” on social media as soon as they lose the game
  • Seems fairly straightforward. I have yet to make it to December 24th. I’m trying to get all the listenings in of the song already before the game starts. The easiest way to win would be to avoid all Christmas Music Stations. But I enjoy Christmas Music and shops may have a way of catching you off guard. Because as soon as you recognize the song- you lose.
  • Let’s do this people! See how long you last.
  • Wish List Time

    Christmas is on the horizon- so that means gift giving and holiday cheer. The holiday cheer part is getting into full swing at our home. Minus the music… that starts at the beginning of December. Oh and Christmas Trees- we have numerous trees that go up starting December 7th. I’m getting off topic… let’s talk “Wish Lists”.

    As a child, I remember filling a page of dreams, or rather filling it with stuff that my young mind thought I needed. Video games, Transformers, remote control cars, or whatever toy was popular. Up until we had three kids, I still made a list. It turned into an adult list involving housewares, tools, and small appliances. Now I make those purchases myself and get exactly what I need or want.

    Wish lists always have been filled with hopes. An idealistic vision of what would make your life complete. But if you don’t get everything on the list, there can be a sense of disappointment. As parents, the lists can be beneficial. You want to give your kids so much in life, but you also have to make sure they get what they need. Going into debt over material stuff isn’t a good idea though.

    Our kids have lists. It’s smattered with things they think would make their lives fulfilled. Things like books, pens, art supplies and music are topping the list. Knowing that they want to create more than consume makes me happy. I’m not quite sure where or when it changed, but I’ll gladly support their artistic side.

    I’m sure Santa will support it as well- if you know what I mean.

    What’s on your wish list? Do you set limits on what your kids ask for? How much stuff is too much stuff?

    Let me know in the comments.

    Emotional for Electronics

    At work I was having a discussion about old electronics and if you can have an emotional attachment to them. My coworker’s wife says she is emotionally attached to her old tv. Now this isn’t some retro 60’s or even 80’s tv. It’s a run of the mill plasma tv from a decade ago. The type of tv that can be upgraded to a larger screen and higher hd quality for a couple hundred dollars. But she wants to keep the tv and my coworker doesn’t understand the emotional attachment she has for it. But I can *almost* relate.

    I asked my coworker what about an old Nintendo or an N64? He said those are okay to have sentimental attachments to because they bring back nostalgic memories. But an iPhone 5 that you played Angry Birds on for hours- that’s a throw away electronic device like a tv.

    So at what point does something generate a value or desire to be kept if it’s no longer used or obsolete?

    I feel it is more what the owner associates with the item. I went through numerous cassette players and CD players in my life- yet I have grown a fondness to my daughter’s record player. I sometimes think about an old telephone alarm clock my parents had back in the 80’s and the sound of it ringing- but I would never want it now. But I still have memories of it. I have an upright arcade machine that only goes on four or five days a year, but I’m not ready to part with it.

    In the end I figure if you like your device and can’t part with it- keep it and don’t let someone tell you that you’re wrong. Sometimes an emotional bond is created and is tough to severe.

    Dark Clouds

    Two lovers in a cage,

    Trapped and ever so afraid

    To step outside;

    From the world we hide.

    The street life

    And the bright lights

    Blind their eyes;

    And send us running to obscurity-

    We need to break free.

    Trapped you see.

    Trapped here in mediocrity.

    Don’t ever trust a soul on planet earth.

    Dark

    Clouds

    Drift away

    To reveal…

    Sunshine.


    These are song lyrics from a mid-nineties British group called “SPACE“. The CD was titled “Spiders“. I loved the style of this band back in the day. I even had the opportunity to see them perform at a club in Vancouver way back when.

    This particular song has been stuck in my head since I took the above picture yesterday morning on my drive home. It’s not just the lyrics, but the instrumental parts as well that ring on in my mind. I like the final line in the song.

    Dark clouds drift away to reveal sunshine.

    That’s what I work towards every day. A bit more sunshine and lot less gloom. Go give Space a listen to. I’m going to dust off my cd and listen to it later on.

    Vivaldi

    The past few days I have been enjoying listening to Vivaldi: La Cetra, 1-7. It has made my drive to and from work a bit more pleasant and calm. There’s something about hearing stringed instruments as they eloquently form each piece. As I listen to La Cetra I can also pick out the piccolo and harpsichord. Two very unique sounds that work well together.

    Many know Vivaldi as written Four Seasons which is also a fantastic piece. I’m a huge fan of classical music and the variety of styles that come with each composer. Next week I am planning on listening to another composer as I travel to and from work. Perhaps Mozart, Bach, Handel or Beethoven. Whichever suits my fancy on my first day of commuting.

    Do you appreciate classical music?

    Who are your favorite composers?

    Let me know.