The Indy 627

Indy 627

My road trip to Indy this past week involved 627 miles of driving and what seemed like nearly that number of songs on SiriusXM. Since I Shazam like a fiend in Herta (my Jetta), I figured I’d use the app to tag as many tunes as I could during my drive, which included crossing the entire state of West Virginia (pictured above), so I could then create a Spotify playlist when I returned to Richmond.

Being the generous guy that I am, I thought I’d also share “The Indy 627” playlist here. Fair warning: It includes everything from Tom Jones to Taylor Swift.

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Karmin Kills “Acapella,” Even Sans Rebel Wilson

Karmin Acapella

This is how acapella is done, folks. I’ve been a fan of Karmin – comprised of tandem turned love couple, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan – since their pre-fame YouTube days covering top-40 singles (released as an album in 2010). I became an even bigger fan when my sister told me they’d studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music (i.e. they’re legit).

The two take a page out of “Pitch Perfect” with their latest swag-pop (yes, this is a thing) single, “Acapella.” The only thing this video is missing: Rebel Wilson!

Want more? Allie Van Dine of PolicyMic discussed the vid in a recent article, listing 10 reasons – complete with gifs – why the song achieves musical perfection. I’d tend to agree.

One Down, Eight to Go

99 Problems Running

I can now officially say that I survived my first week of half marathon training. Okay, so survived may be a bit melodramatic, as I’ve quickly come to learn that this process is far less about survival than it is about simply enjoying the process.

I won’t lie that I used to be daunted by the prospect of running a half, and by distance running altogether for that matter. But, now that I’ve embraced running and taken it more seriously in terms of consistency and competing in a few races, it’s become a mainstay; a required yet welcome part of my routine.

A friend once told me how he starts feeling like some kind of “grouchy fucking bum” after a couple days of not running, and I can totally sympathize. Another friend recently remarked that “Running is a lifestyle.” Again, holla. I view it as not only a means of fitness, but a way to be more in touch with your body and better aware of how you treat it. I guess it goes back to the whole “Your body is a temple.” mantra, which correlates nicely with the vegan thing.

And moreover, why be intimidated by a half? I mean, let’s face it, we all know someone who’s done one that you’d in no manner refer to as a “runner,” a notion that has allowed me to adopt an “If they can do it, then hell anybody can.” mentality.

When it comes down to it, I think the single most important factor involving running is motivation (one’s playlist being a close second). Running gets me out of bed in the morning or feeling inspired to hit the gym over the occasional lunch break, either leaving me feeling hella good the rest of the day.

For much of this, I’ve gotta thank my girl, TL, who lent me her training schedule (below) and who’s become one helluva guru. Between her explanations (I took one look at Wednesday’s training and gave her a call.) and insightful stories, the wise and often inspirational words from others in my life, along with what I’ve found online (pic above), I think I’ll be golden.

With that said, bring on week two!

Half Training Schedule Screen Shot

Move Over Taylor Swift

Guitar

If T-Swizzle can play the guitar, then anyone can, right? Learning the guitar has been secretly sitting on my bucket list for some time now, so I recently decided to take the plunge and bought an acoustic guitar. Now mind you that I haven’t played a musical instrument since my middle school days of playing the oboe, which did as little for my social status as it did for my parents’ discretionary income given the countless $8 reeds that I destroyed – sorry again, mom and dad.

In addition to bringing back some unpleasant memories of my overweight younger years, taking up the guitar has helped me recall how learning a new instrument represents the perfect combination of fun and frustration. After a few short weeks, though, I can easily say that the “fun” has totally trumped the occasional moments of frustration. It’s awesome to just get lost in playing and not give a single thought to the real world for a while.

Along with self-teaching out of one of those ridiculously juvenile (but admittedly appropriate) beginner books – we all remember those, right? – to add more fun to the process I’ve begun taking lessons at a local guitar store in my neighborhood.  

Forgive me for the unkosher yet fitting reference, but my teacher is the tits. Just a few minutes into my first lesson, I not only had a good feel for Jay’s exceptional guitar playing, but the way in which he’s able to put himself in his students’ shoes and teach to their individual level as well.

One of the best parts of our lessons is the humor, exemplified by him cupping his hands around his mouth and mocking the roar of an arena crowd after I cleanly played “Ode to Joy”. He also rips on the Taylor Swifts of the world a fair bit, which is cool… until he brings Bieber into the discussion.

For homework this past week, he asked me to devise a list of five songs I’d like to   ultimately learn to play down the road. I mentally tossed around a ton of tunes over the past few weeks and came up with 10 songs (narrowing it down to five was entirely too difficult) that I feel are pretty representative of my musical tastes and who – without the risk of sounding overly precocious – I’d like to consider as influences. I appreciate the fact that he’s already having me learn the chords to a couple of them, too.

I thought I’d share my list here along with links to each considering a few aren’t generally well known. Oh, and I’d also like to thank my parents for having legit tastes in music, as I fondly remember them playing a number of these growing up.

The Best of the Harlem Shake

In the matter of a few short weeks, Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” has shaken up the online universe like few viral sensations have in history. The 30-second flash mob trend whose titular song is currently No. 1 on the iTunes chart has caught fire across the world, taking workplaces, college campuses and sporting venues by storm. Heck, the trend has even gone underwater and taken to the friendly skies.

Since I’ve watched my fair share of Harlem Shake vids these last several weeks (counting the hours would be pointless), I thought I’d share some of my favorites from the thousands that exist and the more than 4,000 now uploaded each day.

While I’m gladly riding the wave of the phenomenon, I think we’re quickly approaching the point where this is no longer a new trend and the videos are becoming old news. This seems to be the growing sentiment I’ve found in my long hours of recent informal research.

Nevertheless, the trend isn’t over yet, which is why my workplace is planning to create our own Harlem Shake video on Monday. With viral videos like these serving as essentially free, proven methods of gaining instant viewership, there’s no reason not to jump on the bandwagon, especially when there’s a means of publicity behind it.

If you’re interested in learning the dance (like I’m attempting to do), then wait no longer. And I came across the Daily Beast’s interview with the man behind the Harlem Shake, Baauer, whose take on all of this is definitely worth the read.

The video that supposedly began it all

Georgia Swim & Dive goes underwater…

A group takes the shake to the sky…

Maryland may have set the bar for college campuses. They do a range of dances, but the Harlem Shake begins at 1:30 mark…

Jon Stewart’s twist on the trend has been a definite success…

Even Lucy and Linus are into this thing…

The Coast Guard is one of many military schools to create a video, but theirs is the only one featuring a guy who falls off the stairs (guy in brown jacket to left at :20 mark)…

And I can’t leave out my alma maters…

And “Best Acceptance Speech” Goes to…

Kelly Clarkson. If you didn’t catch her acceptance speech at the Grammys on Sunday, it’s worth the quick watch. I’ve heard a few people refer to the speech as drunken or obnoxious, but I personally find it (and her) genuine and endearing.

I’m already looking forward to that Miguel collaboration.

And if you missed her tribute to Patti Page and Carole King, it’s also a must-watch. Check it out here.

Say what you will about her and that speech, as she proved on Sunday (and at President Obama’s Inauguration), her voice is one of the most pure, powerful and arresting in the industry today.She blew Carrie Underwood and her Hunger Games dress out of the water. I’m sure Patti and Carole would have been proud.

Not Cool, Robert Frost – This Kid’s on to Something

Watch this video. Now. Oh, you’ve already seen it? Well watch it again. Then read the rest of this post. Whoops, forgot to say please…

Part of an ongoing YouTube series, this vid has become a viral sensation, and with good reason. This little guy’s on to something. He proves that kids not only say the darndest things, but at times speak the most profound things as well.

I mean, can anyone else see him as our president in 2062?

Not only could we all regularly use this kind of pep talk in our lives, but so many of his quips can be applied to our world today on a macro level. This is especially true coming on the heels of November’s election and the seemingly unending crisis and near-crisis situations spanning the globe.

Some of my favorite lines from the vid are below; what I believe to be the most meaningful and relevant is in bold.

  • The world needs you to stop being boring… Boring is easy.
  • Life isn’t a game, people. If life is a game, are we on the same team?
  • It’s time to do something.
  • Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the road less traveled.
  • Not cool Robert Frost.
  • If there really were two paths, I want to be on the one that leads to awesome.
  • It’s like that dude from Journey said, ‘Don’t stop believing… unless your dream is stupid.’ Then you should get a better dream.
  • What will be your Space Jam? What will you create that would be make the world awesome?
  • This is your time. This is my time. It’s our time!
  • We can make every day better for each other. If we’re all on the same team, let’s start acting like it.
  • You were made to be awesome.
  • It’s everyone’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.

And if you’re like me and dug the background music, here’s the song…