‘Good Kind of Crazy’ by Brighton, MA

As I attempt to get on a more regular schedule with blogging, I decided that I’m going to start sharing some of my favorite tunes both new and old. Focusing on artists or songs that might be a bit more under the radar, but warrant to be so much more. For the older ones, it’s also a prompt for me to revisit some of my standbys and get them back into circulation.

Up first…

Song: Good Kind of Crazy
Band: Brighton, MA
Released: 2007
Album: Self-Titled

I first heard this song when Chicago’s own Brighton, MA opened for Elvis Perkins in Dearland (another gem) in late 2007 at the Lakeshore Theater. I’d previously known a couple members of the band from Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, but this was the first time I’d heard this new project. They played a few songs that night (including ‘Graceland 02’ which is another favorite), but something about ‘Good Kind of Crazy’ was just right. Not only did the words speak to me, but that drum…. that drum is mesmerizing. Starting with small brushes and then into a solo set with such passion — around 3:20 in the video (4:03 in the recorded song) the beats explode and pull you in from every angle. The lyrics drew me in and the drums hooked me.

You’re a good kind of crazy
A good kind of tame
Good kind of lazy
Good kind of pain
Good kind of maybe
Good kind of vain
Good kind of baby
Good kind of change

Find it on Spotify + iTunes.

Yeah, I Just Turned 36: Birthday Memories by the Year

A couple months back, I turned 36 (seriously? where have the years gone?). Just after my birthday, I wrote up this list and published it to the List App which I’ve been testing out. Since I intend for this blog to be my content hub going into the future, I thought I’d repost it over here. A nice little tribute to birthdays past — going from childhood to a full-fledged adult in PJs on her birthday.

________________________

A look back at some memorable (+ not so memorable) birthdays from yesteryears.

1985/5 years old
Held in our newly built screened-in porch. I had a Rainbow Brite cake. My Mom and her friends painted our faces. (See photo – above: me / below: my sister)

birthday

1990/10 years old
I had a slumber party — I got to invite 5 friends. One friend got me a pack of sparklers + a Kirk Cameron poster (she was a big fan). There was drama in the middle of the night where half the girls slept in one room and talked about the girls sleeping in the other room.

1996/16 years old
My 23 year old friend + neighbor took me to get my license. I drove my Mom’s red Chrysler Lebaron convertible for my driving test. That night my sister (14) and I went to the mall + cruised the streets of my hometown (Peoria, IL) while listening to DMB’s ‘Crash’ album.

2001/21 years old
I was interning at WFAA in Dallas on their morning show ‘Good Morning Texas’. After work, I went outlet mall shopping + drank giant frozen strawberry margaritas w/ my aunt. Two days later, a guy (no hablo ingles) ran a red light and slammed into my car (no hay margaritas implicados). I had a rental (a grey Saturn) for the rest of the summer.

2006/26 years old
I was packing up my apartment in Chicago — getting ready for the next week’s cross country move to Newport Beach. That night I went out in Wrigleyville and had a big last hurrah. (Note: During the lead-up to my move, the Real Housewives of OC premiered. I will forever attribute this timing/connection to my love for everything housewives + Bravo.)

2010/30 years old
My first birthday after my move to Australia. I (reluctantly) said goodbye to the twenties + having a summer birthday (damn Southern Hemisphere living). Took a chilly trip to the Barossa Valley for a fun day of wine drinking + an evening at an old hotel w/ my boyfriend (now husband) and friends. The heat went out in our hotel and I slept in my coat.

2015/35 years old
My husband (whose bday is a few days before) and I planned a dinner for 12 friends + then hit the bars of Adelaide after. At 1am my husband fell asleep while sitting at the bar. I continued on without him — playing slots at the casino then wrapped the night with McDonald’s in bed at 3am.

2016/36 years old
I spent the first half the day flying from LAX to ADL + the second half of the day napping. We had a fire in the fireplace, ordered pizza, and watched The Americans. I was asleep by 9pm. Wild times at 36.

Mavis!

It’s a good month to be Mavis Staples.

She has an HBO Documentary ‘Mavis!’ airing February 29th – and tomorrow she’ll have a new album out titled ‘Livin’ on a High Note’ which was produced by the great M.Ward w/ songs written for her by other greats such as Nick Cave, Neko Case, Justin Vernon, and more. Watch the trailer + get the tunes.

I love myself some of Mavis Staples’ gospel. She’s a true American icon and at 76 years old… damn, that woman can still sing it.

While we wait for tomorrow’s release… here are two versions of one of my MS favorites — ‘The Weight’ which The Staple Singers performed with The Band at ‘The Last Waltz’ concert turned (classic) Scorsese documentary.

First up — from my sweet home Chicago… Wilco, Nick Lowe, and MS in rehearsal at a December 2011 concert.

And… the classic. The Staple Singers performing with The Band at their legendary ‘The Last Waltz’ concert in November 1976.

 

Nicholas Sparks: The Stephen King of Chick Flicks

Last night I asked my husband if he knew of Nicholas Sparks. He replied with “no”. After confessing my love for ‘A Walk to Remember’ + ‘The Notebook’ (no brainer) and reminding him that he sat through a TV viewing of ‘Dear John’ (while I was sleeping) a few weeks back — I shared with him that Nicholas Sparks is a book author and that he’s basically the Stephen King of chick flicks. I said that if he Googled “the Stephen King of chick flicks” he’d be sure to find Nicholas Sparks’ name in the top results.

While I pride myself on being a master in the art of Google search terms, I have to admit that I did not bring my A-game this time.  Even after going 10 pages into Google — still no sign of the “the Stephen King of chick flicks”.

A bit of a brief film history lesson for you:

Anyway, because it seems that no one online has ever said “the Stephen King of chick flicks” (yes, there I go again) when speaking about Nicholas Sparks, I’m officially making the exclamation here (+ testing out my SEO skills at the same time).

WordPress: 25% of the web + counting!

When I started at Automattic in February 2012, 16% of the internet was powered by WordPress. Fast forward to this week, according to W3Techs most recent report — WordPress now has a whopping 25% market share! To put it simply, 1 out of every 4 websites have chosen WordPress to power/manage their site (based on data collected from the top 10 million websites). Yep, WordPress isn’t just blogs — it’s a quarter of the web + the world’s biggest content management system by “heaps” (as the Aussies would say)!

Matt recently wrote about this accomplishment on his blog. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend the read. It goes into a bit more detail on the growth + the opportunities that lie ahead.

Sending out huge congrats to everyone that contributed to this milestone — the thousands of people with the same goal of making the web a better place!

Cooking with corn.

In about 90 minutes I’ll take the stage at the Automattic Grand Meetup. Each year we are tasked with sharing a 4-minute story (aka Flash Talk) in front of our colleagues. Some people talk hobbies, others talk work – regardless it’s a fun (though sometimes nerve-racking for the presenter) experience that allows us to learn something new that’s not necessarily aligned with our job responsibilities.

This year I am sharing a little background on myself which leads into my experience as a detasseler in Central Illinois over 20 years ago. For those that don’t know much about detasseling, it’s all about corn.

In my presentation, I promised folks a few good recipes involving this tasty ol’ American treat. So, without further ado…

Pinch and Swirl’s ‘Mexican Corn on the Cob’

MexicanStyleCornOnTheCob

FoodHero.org’s ‘Cowboy Salad’

cowboy

BETHANYWEATHERSBY’s ‘Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread’ (via AllRecipes)

cornbread

Happiness in Japan.

I spent the past few days in Tokyo for the PHP Conference. This was my first trip to Japan – and I fell in love. Not only was Tokyo vibrant + full of culture, but the people were also pretty awesome. In my years of traveling around this globe, I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a collective group of kind and respectful citizens. Even as an outsider (getting by with nods + my limited vocabulary of 5 or so words)… I felt a warm welcome.

I snapped this photo yesterday as a spectator of a mikoshi parade – everything about it makes me smile.

 

Nathaniel Rateliff (+ his epic sound)

Disclaimer: Everyone has those “I was a fan before…” stories. This is one of mine.

From 2009-2012, I worked as the Digital Communications Manager at Universal Music Australia. Like clockwork, on Fridays I would rummage the CD cabinet next to my desk. Based on what I found, I’d have my weekend playlist. Sometimes I’d discover winners, sometimes I’d politely return the CDs to the cabinet on the following Monday.

One Friday back in 2011, I found “In Memory of Loss” – an album from Nathaniel Rateliff, a lesser-known singer-songwriter from Missouri/based in Colorado. Just after slipping the CD into my laptop, I fell in love. His tune ‘Shroud’ quickly became one of my favorites and remains a favorite to this day (bonus: the video was shot in the city that has my heart). While his album resonated with me, it didn’t get the credit that I would have loved to have seen.

Since being turned on to him, I’ve been following Nathaniel’s career + waiting for that one day when I catch a passer by talking about this awesome artist. Well, it appears that day has finally come. After the performance of his new tune ‘S.O.B.’ on Jimmy Fallon this week, the internet is buzzing about NR. ‘S.O.B.’ + the other tunes that I’ve heard from his new album (due out on August 21st) are total winners – a perfect mix of soul, country, gospel, and rock.

I’m predicting a pretty amazing + epic 2015 for Nathaniel (+ The Night Sweats). Pumped to finally see him get that mainstream recognition.

 

A Tale of Airline (Dis)comfort

Dear woman in 96D,

Welcome to the airline! I hope you are having a relaxing trans-continent flight. What a score that you have two spare seats to the right of you! I wish I was so lucky (actually I do have a free seat next to me – although as you know, it’s been slightly compromised… ). I’m sure your legs are getting a nice rest propped up down the row. Also, I hope that full recline of your seat (in front of mine) as well as the seat next to you (in front of the seat which I was originally hoping to move to when you reclined on to my sleeping head) is somehow an added bonus giving you divine comfort while sprawling out (since you aren’t leaning up against the back of either of them). Well… enjoy your nap, I must get back to watching my TV shows just eight inches from my face – though not before taking a quick bathroom break (however, I’m not entirely sure my womanly hips will squeeze through the small opening between my arm rest and your reclined seat and I’d hate to disturb you).

See you soon (at our destination in 12 hours)!

Sincerely,
Bec

———-

As an avid traveler flying around 150,000 miles per year, I know the pros and cons of flying. The pros are the moments when I get to the airport and the service representative so kindly tells me that I’ve been upgraded to business class on a fourteen hour flight (which “yes” makes up for moments like this – and please be rest assured that I don’t take that earned perk for granted). The cons, the people that feel the need to get so super relaxed on a small cramped jet plane that they are willing to disrupt the comfort of others through relaxation overkill. As I sit here typing my blog post offline – I’m enduring one of those moments right now.

I (like many avid travelers I know) stand true to the philosophy of making long (+ short) flights work through the tools of neck pillows, window leans, forward tray table rests, etc… and 99.9% of the time – I do not fully recline in economy (it’s rare that I recline at all).

While I try not to hate on people for just following the lead of what the airlines have provided them, it’s still frustrating when someone so eagerly invades my (or anyone else’s) precious space. Sure (most) people have the right to recline, though that poor person wedged in the last row next to the toilets is shit out of luck (literally). While I’ll totally forgive those needing a little comfort recline, if you can’t tell – I find space hogs (like the woman in seat 96D) really irritating.

To my BFFs…

I recently came across a post titled ‘When Close Friends Live Far Away (A Request)’ when a colleague shared it on Facebook.

The entry starts with…

I want to go to the grocery store with you. I want to see where your kids go to school and see them run and hug you when you pick them up in the afternoon. I want to sit with you in your kitchen, and cook with you at your stove. I want to sit in your living room and chat and have tea, and I want to walk out your front door and see what scene greets you every day. I want to see where you work, and what sits atop your office desk. I even want to know what your spring coat looks like, for goodness’ sake. Because I want to soak in your everyday, so I can tuck it away for the next time we talk. I need pictures in my head, and to know the sum of your days, because I miss you, old friend.

The author says so many things that have raced through my head over the years. Wishes of sharing moments with close friends/family and getting to experience the simplicity of those everyday happenings that I miss out on in living overseas – as far away as 10,000+ miles from many of the ones I hold dearest to my heart. I’ve skipped around city to city, state to state, and most recently country to country since I was 18 – that is now just a year shy of half my life. That being said, this is a pretty familiar feeling – but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

While I do a decent job at getting back to the US (thanks to my job, frequent flyer miles, and a wonderful husband that encourages me to get home to celebrate weddings, births, etc..), it’s not as easy for my loved ones to get to Australia. It’s a pretty expensive flight, vacations are limited, and for many – kids are now in the picture. Because of this, the only me that most have seen over the past several years is the ‘in a rush’, ‘popping in for an afternoon’, or ‘living out of a suitcase’ Rebecca. Very few of my closest friends know what our house looks like, what type of a neighborhood we live in, what my favorite shops sell, how my favorite wine tastes, the personalities of the great new friends that I’ve made in Australia, or the vision of what our weekends entail. And finally, few see the calm and relaxed side of me just being me in my own surroundings. To be honest, this makes me a bit sad… sad that I can’t share these simple experiences of life with so many that I care about. Instead they just get to see glimpses via Instagram or in the stories I tell. But… that’s life – and luckily phones and Facetime help to fill some of those gaps.

I’m sure many of you reading this post can relate to my sentiments or to those written by the referenced author. There are few folks in this world that can say they’ve got all their loved ones in close proximity.

I may never again live in the same neighborhood, town, or state as many of these amazing folks that I miss – but I do hope that someday time zones line up a little more nicely and long weekends together are an easier option.

Like an old Casey Kasem (or Delilah) request + dedication… there are a bucketload of people that I’d like to send this out to over the airwaves. Those that I’ve spent hours on end with browsing the aisles of Target, listening to music in little venues or at big music festivals, watching Lifetime movie marathons, perfecting embarrassing dance moves on the dance floor, and oh so much more (including those less than amazing moments that everyone goes through – when you just need a good friend to cry with, hug, and say it’s gonna be ok).

When all is said and done, I’m so freaking lucky to have friends that I truly miss. ❤