End of 2017 Roundup

2017 in Review
  1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before? I led a fundraiser for my company. We raised just over $1000 for the Virginia Beach SPCA. It was pretty darn great.
  2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I gave up on resolutions ages ago. They’re honestly pointless to me. A great man once sang, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Unfortunately, yes. And I only say that because I’m a selfish person who sided with the bad guy in Dan Brown’s Inferno, not because I judge anyone’s life choices. giphy
  4. Did anyone close to you die? We had a close call with my mom in law, but no deaths this year. But a lot of folks I know lost very close loved ones.
  5. What countries did you visit? Didn’t leave the bedraggled USA, but I was in Washington, D.C. a lot, and got as far north as MA.
  6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? A decent President.
  7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Probably November 9th, because this happened:

    Some background: A person asked if you were to sing karaoke with you favorite celebrity, what song would you choose, and Lin stepped the fuck UP.

  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being aware of the disgusting status of the US government, and doing my best to resist, march, protest, and help get the right people elected.
  9. What was your biggest failure? Not being able to travel to FL when I wanted to. Due to unforeseen financial issues, the trip to see my Orlando area friends (and visit the Harry Potter thing at Universal) wasn’t able to happen. That really bummed me out.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major, just gained weight and got an ear infection for the first time since being a toddler.
  11. What was the best thing you bought? Concert tickets. I saw Ringo Starr and the man said hello to me from the stage. 378b8d77ce5a64b408abdf6c24865039
  12. Whose behavior merited celebration? All of the folks who have fought the soon to be Fascist government in power. The Women’s March ladies, the #metoo movement, Jose Andres and what he’s doing to help hungry people in Puerto Rico, and the ordinary folks who have gotten off their butts and done SOMETHING.
  13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Our Voldemort President (daily), and the men I admired that ended up either being super creeps or minor creeps. I’m looking at you, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Franken.
  14. Where did most of your money go? Food, alcohol, donations to good causes, and the occasional geeky bit of clothing or thingie.
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I was absolutely THRILLED to be at the Lady Gaga show. It was magical for me. And part of it was on TV! And then she won an award! Gaga on American Music Awards
  16. What song will always remind you of 2017? Do You Still Love Me?
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c ) richer or poorer? A. Sadder B. FATTER C. Poorer
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Definitely hiked more; gotten exercise, been more politically active.
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Staring at shit on the internet and wasting time.
  20. How did you spend Christmas? A brief visit with parents, followed by a Game of Thrones marathon.
  21. Did you fall in love in 2017? I fall in love with my dude every day. He’s the best. IMG_8595
  22. What was your favorite TV program? Just one? Nice try. Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Great News, Legion, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, & Big Little Lies come to mind.
  23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Hate is a strong word, but I have ended friendships. The state of our nation has made me realize who will be on the right side of history, and I prefer to be friends with those people.
  24. What was the best book you read? I really enjoyed The Devil’s West series by Laura Anne Gilman.
  25. What was your greatest musical discovery? LIZZO, y’all. Water Me
  26. What did you want and get? I got to stay alive?
  27. What did you want and not get? The impeachment of our jackass President.
  28. What was your favorite film of this year? There were a lot of badass films. Dunkirk, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Blade Runner 2049, Baby Driver, & It. But I have to go with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
  29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Ugh, thanks for reminding me that it’s my 43rd year on this blue marble. I didn’t really do anything on the actual day of my birth, but my favorite present was experiencing the music of Game of Thrones, live. It was lovely. A taste: Winds of Winter
  30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Seeing so many fun concerts with my dude, and being able to contribute to my favorite podcast, even if it was just a playlist. Check out The Hooray Show with Horatio Sanz.
  31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017? Fashion is a concept that will forever allude me. My mom in law gifted me a sweet wrap/sweater thing, however, and I wore it to the Lady Gaga show and felt most fierce. gagaselfie
  32. What kept you sane? Animals. My three cats, the cat we rescued from the streets (who may belong to us in 2018 – stay tuned), the foxes behind my backyard, the critters we helped at the shelter, and the elephant fosters I gifted to family (and the foster I received – Check out the elephant babies!).
  33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Horatio SanzLin, and Ryan Adams were the boys who made me smile the most. 
  34. Who did you miss? I miss Carrie Fisher. Some funny Carrie moments
  35. Who was the best new person you met? I can’t recall meeting someone new, in person that is. But the guys who run the Crooked Media podcasts have been a welcome addition to my internet “pals”.
  36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017. Do not put up with anything you don’t want to put up with. This world is too short and fucked up for that. But be kind and good. And funny.
  37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
    Are we crazy?
    Livin’ our lives through a lens
    Trapped in our white picket fence
    Like ornaments
    So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble
    So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
    Aren’t you lonely
    Up there in utopia
    Where nothing will ever be enough?
    Happily numb
    So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble
    So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
    Ah, so good
    Your rose-colored glasses on
    And party on (woo)
    Turn it up, it’s your favorite song
    Dance, dance, dance to the distortion
    Turn it up, keep it on repeat
    Stumblin’ around like a wasted zombie
    Yeah, we think we’re free
    Drink, this one’s on me
    We’re all chained to the rhythm
    To the rhythm, to the rhythm
    Turn it up, it’s your favorite song
    Are we tone deaf?
    Keep sweepin’ it under the mat
    Thought we could do better than that
    I hope we can
    So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble
    So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
    Aha, so good (so good)
    Your rose-colored glasses on
    And party on (woo)
    Turn it up, it’s your favorite song (oh)
    Dance, dance, dance to the distortion
    Turn it up, keep it on repeat
    Stumblin’ around like a wasted zombie
    Yeah, we think we’re free
    Drink, this one’s on me
    We’re all chained to the rhythm
    To the rhythm, to the rhythm (woah)
    It is my desire
    Break down the walls to connect, inspire
    Ay, up inna your high place, liars
    Time is ticking for the empire
    The truth they feed is feeble
    As so many times before
    The greed over the people
    They stumblin’ and fumblin’ and we about to riot
    They woke up, they woke up the lions (woah)
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Top Ten Madonna Songs, AKA Hard Decisions

Before I get to what the title of this post indicates, I want to say I tried out the new live streaming app, Meerkat, yesterday, and it was pretty fun. I have no idea if I’ll use it on a regular basis, but I streamed a short bit, chatting about Madonna and the songs I’ve picked for this list. I had five people watching at one point; one from Mexico and another from The Netherlands. It seems like a pretty cool “on the go” way to stream something and interact with other folks. If you’re reading this because you watched my goofy stream, thanks and hello!

Well, let’s get to it. Madonna has a new album out, Rebel Heart. As you probably know, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has been the queen of pop music, fashion, reinvention, and provocation since the early 80s. It’s hard to remain relevant for such a long period of time, but, despite a few bumps along the way, Madge has managed to do it. Rebel Heart is a pretty decent pop album, more so than the previous two (Hard Candy and MDNA). When a legend releases a new album, however, we like to think back to the beginning. Us music lovers want to compare and contrast the new stuff to the old stuff. Instead of doing that, I began to think about the songs that have meant the most to me over the years. Should I make a top 20 list? Top 10? Ugh, THIS IS HARD! There are so many songs! Seriously, so many. I have a Spotify playlist of 44 favorites, for Pete’s sake!

I grabbed a pen and my trusty notepad, and made a damn list. Because I am an adult and I can do this! *deep breaths* I’ll probably change my mind in the future, or wish the order was different, but who cares. For the most part, these Madonna tunes give me the feels and/or the urge to dance around the room.

10. Don’t Tell Me

The standout track from 2000’s Music. I love the guitar sample at the beginning. I love the strings and the emotional, sweeping ending. The lyrics are great, as well. And who doesn’t think Madonna looks fab in a cowgirl outfit?

 

9. Hung Up

Does this make you want to bust out a leotard and get to grooving? If not, you might be a weirdo. Between the sample of ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) and the actual pounding beat, Hung Up is one of the greatest dance tracks ever. I dig the breakdown towards the end; just that beat and the ticking clocks. A strange thing I love about this song is the way Madonna enunciates “hesitating”. Alrighty then! Fun fact I learned about the video – it was shot only a few weeks after our queen had a horse riding accident and broke some bones. The woman has some determination.

 

8. Beautiful Stranger

Madonna. Austin Powers. Could that combo be wrong? Nope. This uptempo number has a great feel to it. It’s a total ear worm, too. The swingin’ 60s sound mixed with the late 90s production is a win. Let’s talk about the video for a second: How can Madonna make a pair of khakis sexy? I mean, they seriously look like something I sold when I worked at Lerner back in the day. But somehow she throws on a pair of heels and dances like she does, and those pants become HOT.

 

7. Causing A Commotion

This was one of my favorites as a kid in 1987, and has remained so. Back then, I don’t even think I knew exactly what a commotion was, other than it rhymed with motion and sounded fun. I recall memorizing the dance moves and wishing I had a conveyor belt in my living room. I recently learned this song was written about Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn. Which makes sense.

 

6. The Power of Good-Bye

One of Madonna’s best ballads, for sure, from the Ray of Light record. Perhaps this is a companion to Causing A Commotion? I’ve read rumors that this one was about ol’ Spicoli as well. Regardless, it’s a lovely, sad, but hopeful tune about a breakup. The electronic bleeps and bloops blend well with the guitar. Since we also have to discuss the video as well as the song, how sexy is Goran Visnjic? Talk about hubba hubba. I adore the blue tint of everything, as well. Matthew Rolson always makes things and people look gorgeous in his videos.

 

5. Rain

Damn, this song is pretty, hiding among all the sexy songs on the Erotica album. That awesome crescendo, though! So good. I also love the homage to Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. I could do without the spoken word part, however. As for the video, it’s beautiful. Madonna in short black hair and perfect eyebrows? Yes please.

 

4. Deeper And Deeper

Put this track on and you are guaranteed to see me start boogying. It’s super fun to sing, too. Deeper And Deeper also gets cool points for referencing Vogue. I have a soft spot for artists dropping their previous hit song lyrics into new songs. Why? Don’t ask me. I have to say that the video for this song is…. weird. I get the Andy Warhol references, but I thought he was weird too, so there you go. Udo Kier is a total creeper and watching Madonna fawn over him disturbs me. At least she looks badass in an afro wig.

 

3. Ray Of Light

Ray of Light is Madonna’s best album, in my humble opinion. The title track blew me away the first time I heard it. It was like she rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a naughty pop princess and became an electronic Mother Earth. The beat is so fast paced, I don’t know if I want to dance or start a mosh pit. The video has that same crazy frantic feel. Brilliant!

 

2. Oh Father

Madonna at her most vulnerable can be incredibly outstanding, and this song is an example. It tells a story about loss and coping with that loss, breaking free, and coming to terms. We all know this is autobiographical. Madonna lost her mom at a young age, and had difficulty with her father as well. The odd sounding violin arrangement complements the melody extremely well; it’s my favorite part of the song. As for the video, there really isn’t much to say, since it’s a perfect representation of the song.

 

1. Live To Tell

This will always be my favorite Madonna song. Period. It was the first song I heard of hers that hit me in the gut. I was 12 years old and had no idea why a man would tell a thousand lies, but I knew that holding a secret until the death was some powerful grownup stuff. I remember being impressed that Madonna could release a serious ballad – she wasn’t just a sexy minx for us girls to admire and the boys to drool over! Now that I’m an adult, the song still packs an emotional punch. I love her soft and simple look in the video, as well. I never did see At Close Range, so I’ve no idea what the hell is going on with the movie scenes. Christopher Walken’s mustache is scary to this day.

 

What did you think? Could you list your favorite Madonna songs? Feel free to leave your list in the comments. I’m curious! I’m glad Madonna has graced us with so many tunes, and I’m proud that she continues to do so.

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Quick Book Review – Divergent by Veronica Roth

I have to admit, my expectations were not high when I started reading this one. The idea of another “teenage girl in a dystopian shit show” story was not appealing to me. I wasn’t super impressed with Roth’s writing style, either. Like some other reviewers on here, the present tense storytelling really irked me. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised overall. It was well paced, the different factions were intriguing, and the unanswered questions were numerous enough to get me to read the next book, eventually. The ending came around so suddenly, though, due to the movie tie-in version given to me. There was so much bonus material, that took up about 40-50 pages, which deceived me into thinking I had a long ways to go. I didn’t realize the climax was the climax! Whoops. Guess I should have paid closer attention to the table of contents.

If you’re into it, check out the Divergent playlist made by the author. The taste is a bit questionable to me, but hey, I shouldn’t be too judge-y. I’ll listen to the songs.

I suppose I’ll have to check out the movie too, huh?

Meri Listens To Podcasts

Podcasts are a fun, great, super duper platform to express yourself on the internet.  Like something?  Are you funny?  Want to share your interests with the masses?  Make a podcast.  Or, if you don’t want to make one, listen to one or 40.  I happen to do both.  Me and my wonderfully talented lady friends do the MouthyBroadcast podcast, which is part comedy, group therapy, geekdom, and rant space.  It’s great.  Feel free to subscribe to our insanity.  I also listen to bunch of podcasts, mainly when I’m in my car going to and from work.  I’m happy to suggest my favorites, and feel free to tell me yours in the comments!  I’m always looking for new ones.

First upI Seem Fun – The Diary of Jen Kirkman Podcast.  I first heard Jen on another favorite podcast (which I’ll discuss in a second).  I loved her voice and desire to revive the old 80s show, Puttin’ On The Hits.  Remember that show?  Here’s a taste:

Anyway, so I decided to check out Jen’s podcast – LOVE IT.  You’d think that one person sitting in their bed or couch and talking into a mike would not be engaging or interesting, but not JK.  She sings along to songs adorably, dishes about her LA life, reads listener emails, and has the coolest family.

Second podcast on my current fave list:  The Fogelnest Files.  Here’s the deal:  Listen to Jake Fogelnest play random You Tube clips, usually with a cool guest, then watch the clips on his very own You Tube channel (it’s on the provided link).  Jake never fails to find some AMAZING stuff.  Like a clip from Fernwood Tonight.

Third upU Talkin’ U2 To Me?.  One of my favorite actors, Adam Scott, teams up with fellow Scott, Scott Aukerman, to comprehensively (and hilariously) discuss the career of the best band in the world, U2.  They’re only on episode two as of this typing, but if the first one’s an indication of the fun I’m going to have listening, I’ve found what I’m Looking For.  Har har har.

A Musical Intro

Hi.  This is the first post on my new website.  There will be all kinds of fun stuff here, so go make yourself a nice cocktail, have a snack, and enjoy yourself.  This place is a work in progress, so bear with me.  Pretty soon I’ll have it all spiffy looking, with cool features, including my future podcast, Meri’s World.  But for now, I’m just going to post random things to get my creative juices flowing and whatnot.

Today, I’m starting my Saturday with a clingy cat on my lap, the computer in front of me, and some music playing.  My friend Peter created a playlist that’s been in heavy rotation lately, and one song in particular has been speaking to me.  It’s one of those songs I’ve loved since I was 14, but didn’t know why particularly until I got older.  Don’t Change by INXS.  

LYRICS ALERT!!!

I’m standing here on the ground
The sky above won’t fall down
See no evil in all direction
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark
For too longDon’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for meI found a love I had lost
It was gone for too long
Hear no evil in all directions
Execution of bitterness
Message received loud and clearDon’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me

I’m standing here on the ground
The sky above won’t fall down
See no evil in all directions
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark for too long

Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me

Baby Michael Hutchence.  *sigh*
I’ll leave you with that today.  Be good, kitty cats.  Oh, and here’s the playlist I’ve been jamming to all week:  Songs That Hit You In The Feels