Tag Archives: celebrity

How I Miss Music Video Programs

Ever since music video programs took to the airwaves in the 1980s, I have always been a huge fan of the art form. Whether it was “Friday Night Videos”, “Video Hits”, “Good Rockin’ Tonite”, “MuchMusic” or “MusiquePlus”, I was glued to the set. Hour after hour I would watch, mesmerized by this cool art form combining music, film and storytelling in a tight package with a run time of about four minutes.

Through my late high school years and university years, music videos formed the soundtrack of my life, featuring artists like Duran Duran, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama, Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and the Jackson family. Music videos welcomed me home from school, were the focal point of some parties, helped keep me awake through late-night essays and helped me pace myself in studying for final exams.

When I got into the career years, priorities changed a little as did my ability to watch 12 consecutive hours of music videos. But I remained a fan nonetheless, often keeping the music channels on for background music while I cleaned my apartment or worked in the kitchen.

A few nights ago, I realized how much I missed music videos as a source of background music. I decided to try to recreate that feeling.

Since I got the iTunes app almost a decade ago, I have purchased a few music videos that were particularly special to me, but not enough to make a playlist as diverse as what a music video channel offered back in the day. Plus, iTunes doesn’t carry all of my old favourites.

YouTube on the other hand, carries almost everything I could possibly want, with only a few exceptions. Sadly, some treasured videos are hanging by a thread in cyberspace with only a couple of grainy versions to be found.

Last Friday, after I had gone to bed, I wondered if I could create a YouTube playlist of favourite videos. I got up and gave it a try. It couldn’t have been easier, but my timing was a mistake.

What started as a 5 minute experiment turned into a full scale project into the wee hours of the morning, building a playlist of favourite tunes based on the best quality versions available.

Thanks to my Apple TV, my YouTube playlists can follow me around, I just need to hook up the Apple TV device to an HDTV wherever I happen to be puttering (but not the old-style tube TV in the picture above).

Two days later and armed with 600 favourite songs grouped together in three playlists, I now have my own free music video channels, combining old favourites and brand new ones. I love it!

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen working on my food prep for the week, accompanied by favourite tunes and familiar faces, singing away the time over pulled pork, scalloped potatoes and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.

When working in the kitchen, I tend to avoid watching movies or new TV programs. It is difficult to keep track of an intricate plot as well as the distance between a knife and my fingers, so my full attention goes to the sharp instruments, as it should!

What I like best about music videos is that they are something with which I can multi-task and glance up every now and then, between steps in a recipe or between tasks, without breaking concentration and without seriously breaking the flow of the music. Much like a musical playlist I might use to go running, a music video playlist is another tool to keep me happy, engaged and in a good energy flow.

But as much as I feel huge gratitude for technology and being able to recreate the feeling of having a constant source of music videos, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth… it was very close… but it wasn’t the same.

I miss (what some might consider) the chatter between the blocks of videos. I miss the video jockeys (VJs) and the hosts. I miss the music news, the interviews and the interesting facts about the artists, the songs and their creative process that have made me a contender in any game involving 1980’s music trivia.

While I could certainly Google factoids myself, I liked that the hosts brought information to me that I wouldn’t be inclined to research myself, about artists that might not have known enough to look into. In doing so, it just fed and heightened my curiosity about the industry, the many people behind it, and the creative forces that drove it.

In the creative world, I tend not to see boundaries between artists’ chosen media. Art is art, and all of it can be inspiring when a spirit is open to it. In some ways, knowing more about the music industry still lends itself to developing an understanding of the business side of writing. I am certain that there must be some common elements.

Plus, every four minute story carries with it the possibility of sowing seeds of inspiration for my own writing and creating threads I can weave into my own stories.

Even in the absence of the VJs and the music news, it is a “Thriller” to be “Hungry Like The Wolf” again and “Left to My Own Devices”, watching hours of music videos which feeds my “Constant Craving” for music. I “Just Can’t Get Enough”. With music videos, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, it’s a “Beautiful Life”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”.

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The Many Ways Biographies Have Inspired Me

BiographiesWhen it comes to finding a good book to read whether for some light reading before bed, for something fun to read while on vacation, or just to curl up on the couch with the cat on a rainy day, biographies, autobiographies and memoirs are my guilty pleasure.

I would consider that my first exposure to biographies took place in my pre-teens through my idol, Erma Bombeck. Her unique style demonstrated a consistent ability to make readers crack a smile or laugh out loud, from her seemingly effortless ability recount those everyday moments of family life we have all lived through, whether as a child or as a parent. Her talent was in the ability to hit the nail on the head in breaking down the story and examining every detail through her microscope of humour.

Even though I would suspect that she might have used some creative licence in retelling her humourous stories of a suburban housewife, at its core, her storytelling style had to be built on a foundation of truth, authenticity and love. While her books may not have been typically classified as biographies, letting us into the intimate details of her family life as she did, in memoir style, was to me, my gateway into biographies.

Throughout my teen years, I would spend much of my allowance money buying fan magazines and entertainment magazines. It was not because I had any appreciable appetite for celebrity gossip, but to me it was a way to get to know my favourite TV and musical artists outside of the realm of their public personas. This period also offered my first experiences in being inspired by celebrity quotes, especially when they related to the creative process and working at one’s craft.

In 1986, when taking a break from an all-nighter, working on a paper for university, I recall a middle-of-the-night trip to the 24-hour grocery store and stumbling upon Shirley MacLaine’s book “Dancing in the Light”. The notes on the jacket struck a chord with me. I bought the paperback and read it in a few weeks.

At 21 years old, I was struggling with a number of things, faith, identity, and my place in the world as a young adult. Miss MacLaine’s book offered the right words at the right time. “Dancing in the Light” was a catalyst in helping me understand my natural curiosity about life and my innate desire to continuously evolve. “Dancing in the Light” was the first book that demystified the concept of the soul for me and also positioned me for my own spiritual journey in life. These were my first “aha moments”, while reading a book.

As a result, once the university years were over and I returned to reading for the fun of it, my go-to books became biographies. Continue reading


Filed under Inspiring, TV, Writing

When an Icon Passes

IconHow is it that we can be so deeply touched by the passing of a stranger? Someone we have never met, someone to whom we are not related, and someone with whom we did not have day-to-day dealings… yet it still hits us so hard.

I am no stranger to the effect of loved ones and colleagues passing, whether suddenly or through illness, male, female, older and younger. Each passing seems to bring its own unique spectrum of emotions and grief.

With the recent passing of icons like Prince and David Bowie one cannot help but marvel at the ripple effect of such brilliant artists, when their passing elicits such strong emotions and grief around the globe:

The universality of their message that could motivate and inspire, bypassing language and cultural boundaries.

The strength of their message that resonated with so many.

They said what we couldn’t… or before we could say it.

Their music formed the memorable songs in the soundtrack for the good times.

Their music lifted us up in the soundtrack for the bad times.

Their music helped us when Continue reading

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