May 21, 2023 · 9:55 am
Have you ever tried staying off your devices and social media to avoid spoilers about a show or an event that you haven’t watched yet? I surprised myself recently in discovering just exactly how difficult that can be.
I wouldn’t consider myself addicted to social media, my phone or my iPad by any stretch of the imagination. I can definitely go a few hours without looking at any of them and not feel the slightest sense of missing out. I do it all the time when I am deeply in the creative zone.
In the years that I have been writing, interruptions have been my kryptonite that have been known to break my flow. That being the case, with so many writing projects in the queue, why would I get in my own way and check my phone between paragraphs? Why would I subject myself to the negative energy of articles that the algorithms have mistakenly assumed that I want to look at? If those aren’t a buzzkill for creativity, I don’t know what is.
This past weekend was the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that I have followed for almost 20 years. Throughout that span of time, I don’t recall its schedule conflicting with North America’s Mother’s Day weekend, but this year it did. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, music, pop culture, stories, TV
Tagged as alerts, competition, Contest, devices, ESC, eurovision, events, live, music, news, outcome, programs, song, spoiler, spoilers, sports, streaming, telecasts, television, time, TV, winner
October 2, 2022 · 8:21 am
In picking up a new iPhone 13 mini with heaps of storage space, I have been gradually transferring over my music collection to my new device.
In doing so, I have been able to reconnect with so many musical artists I haven’t been able to listen to in the last few years, given the minuscule amount of storage on my previous phone… My mistake… Lessons learned.
Now, with approximately 13,000 songs on my new phone, there is a fair bit of scrolling going on to get from album to album. But interestingly enough, within my scrolling time, a new game caught my eye.
It’s not the kind of game you need to download from iTunes, it’s just a serendipitous discovery I made along the way.
I don’t know if you’ve had the same experience, but the premise of the game goes like this:
While scrolling through the alphabetically sorted list, I started noticing “neighbours” in the list, like Bon Jovi and Bonnie Raitt.
Note: Yes, I know that Raitt starts with an R, but iPhone/iTunes sorts the list on the first name or word. Continue reading →
Filed under music, pop culture, stories
Tagged as artists, cell, collaborations, game, library, mobile, music, musical, phone, songs, tech, technology
August 21, 2022 · 7:45 am
Shortly after buying a new iPhone 13 to replace my ailing iPhone 7, I rediscovered my love of music in a big way.
In having chosen a model with 256 GB of storage space, I could store my entire music collection on my phone and was able to play any song I wanted, any time I wanted.
Given how the switch to a new phone was caused by a broken connector port, I started looking for ways to reduce wear and tear on the new phone’s port. Given the price of phones, any measure to potentially stretch its life span seemed like a worthwhile undertaking.
First, every time I plugged the power cord into the new phone, I slowed myself down to be as gentle and mindful as possible, trying not the jostle the phone unnecessarily. My moves were so calculated and slow, you’d think that I was handling a priceless artifact. Given the price of phones, that’s probably an accurate comparison.
Second, when I was moving music from iTunes onto the device, to ensure I wasn’t plugging and unplugging the phone repeatedly, I ensured I had my selections ready to transfer in large batches.
Third, I started wondering if wireless headphones would be a good investment. By using the phone’s Bluetooth technology to have the mobile device communicate with headphones maybe that could also help reduce wear and tear on the connector port.
You’d think that as a music lover, I would have already been plugged in to the wonder of wireless headphones. I’m afraid that I hadn’t jumped on that bandwagon yet. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, music
Tagged as appreciation, bluetooth, budget, buds, connector, ear, ears, enjoyment, headphones, joy, listen, listening, music, run, running, solution, tunes, walking, wireless, wires
August 7, 2022 · 7:36 am
Not too long ago, I ran into the “Oh no!” moment that many of us experience at one time or another: The moment when one’s mobile device is having a near-death experience.
It’s not like it was unexpected. Shopping for a new phone has been on my list for a little while. I just hoped that it could have waited a few more months.
The problem was my iPhone 7’s connector port, the one used for recharging and for using headphones. Any cord in that port wasn’t staying in properly anymore. What began as an occasional issue now required progressively more jiggling for it to:
(a) stay in, and
(b) to find the sweet spot for it to recharge or to send music to the headphones.
Needless to say, going for a walk or a run with the phone has been out of the question for several months.
Ironically, this phone was probably the one that has endured the least amount of wear and tear of all of the phones I have owned in the last twenty years. Let’s face it, like most of us, it spent the pandemic at home for two years. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, music, pop culture, Running, stories
Tagged as albums, appreciation, artists, broken, connector, cord, device, memory, mobile, music, phone, recording, running, storage, tech, technology, walking
December 19, 2021 · 8:33 am
When I look back on my high school and university years, I am astounded that I was able to get my homework done with the radio, the stereo or the television on.
I remember that the music helped me keep the neurons firing, especially after a full day of classes. The background noise also helped keep me company through a lonely night of homework, keeping the borderline extrovert in me happy.
While I don’t seem to have a vivid recollection of the homework process in itself (and truly, who would?) I seem to remember that for most tasks, I could multi-task with music playing in the background.
Did I have music on to study for tests? My memory is a little fuzzy on that question, but I would be inclined to think that I didn’t. I can’t imagine that I could successfully memorize if I had lyrics or radio chatter playing interference with the words on the written page. Today, I definitely can’t.
But did I have music on for writing essays? I am pretty sure that the answer is yes, as this is a habit that still holds true today for my writing projects. However, the music that forms the soundtrack of my writing is very carefully chosen.
Finding the perfect writing tunes has been a fascinating and fun journey in itself. As an all-around music lover, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of listening to different artists and trying different genres of music to see what works best. Continue reading →
Filed under music, Writing
Tagged as classical, concentrate, concentration, flow, focus, ideas, instrumental, interruptions, music, silence, tunes
April 25, 2021 · 9:37 am
This past week, as I was out for the once-per-week, masked, sanitized, and respectfully socially-distanced grocery store run, I had one of those moments that have become all too familiar.
As I turned my king-sized grocery cart around a corner, I was disappointed to see someone going in the wrong direction, completely contrary to the arrows on the ground. I asked myself, after 13 months of Covid-19, have we not gotten the choreography down yet?
But before the cranky old man within me had a chance to fully surface and irritate me for the rest of the grocery run, the grocery store’s speaker system launched into the first notes of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun”.
As I started humming along (hey, if there’s only 25 people allowed in the store at one time, I can softly hum with a smile under my mask) my mood instantly changed and the non-compliant grocery shopper was already deleted from my consciousness.
When you review the lyrics, it’s not like “Soak Up the Sun” is one of the cheeriest songs ever written, but the chorus, the music and its associated music video convey to me a certain lightness and free-spiritedness that have often helped me let go of some of the little irritants in life.
Have you ever noticed how songs seem to have that power over us, to – please forgive the cliché – turn a frown upside down? And have you ever been in a situation where you are driving around, enjoying a string of one good song after another, and actually hoping for red lights to slow down your commute to enjoy the tunes?
Much like with “Soak Up the Sun”, it doesn’t always have to be about uplifting lyrics, sometimes it can be all about the music itself and a skillful arrangement that just strikes the right notes to raise ones spirits or even better, to energize. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Inspiring, Lists, music, pop culture
Tagged as energy, good mood, happy, joy, lift, mood, music, positive, spirits, trigger, tunes, uplifting
July 12, 2020 · 8:21 am
When my partner first suggested moving to the country, I cannot say I was hugely conflicted by the question.
There were indeed a number of factors to consider and this move would be a pretty big change for this city boy. But the part that required no thought whatsoever was the prospect of having almost no neighbours… and almost no neighbour noise. That part sounded like heaven to me.
I could write a book about my dealings with noisy neighbours, having experienced the good, the bad and the ugly over the last 30 years.
When we pick a place to live, there is always a package deal of pros and cons to consider before signing on the dotted line. No matter how perfect a place may seem, there will be irritants for which patience and some degree of compromise will be needed on both parts.
And just like anything in life, nothing is really certain nor permanent. Great neighbours, as well as the lousy ones, come and go.
As much as I enjoyed my last house for 19 years, it wasn’t without its moments of blaring stereos, roaring cars, screaming kids, disobedient dogs, industrial vehicles and 3:00 a.m. parties, but that’s life in the city when you have neighbours. Part of that package deal was ideal proximity to transit, shopping and an abundance of cultural events.
It didn’t matter if “quiet enjoyment of premises” was supposed to be a reassuring clause in each of my apartment leases or in the big book of condo rules, but someone’s urge to make noise always seemed greater than my craving for the calm to recover from the roar of city life. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, home, Humour
Tagged as calm, energy, escape, extrovert, introvert, landlord, loud, music, neighbors, neighbours, noise, noise pollution, noisy, quiet, relax, relaxation, relaxing, serenity
December 15, 2019 · 12:43 pm
I admit that I am a sucker for some good Christmas tunes.
When it comes to picking favourites, I am pretty easy going. It doesn’t really matter whether I listen to the classics by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald or Burl Ives, or modern ones like Wham’s “Last Christmas” or Linda Eder’s “The Bells of St Paul”, I am a fan.
In my own traditions, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band-Aid is usually the first one I play to kick off my holiday preparations, much like it did when it first hit the airwaves in 1984.
I can’t think of a better time to have the holiday tunes playing than when I am decking the halls, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts or enjoying some holiday baking. To me, the music can be the icing on the cake, turning my holiday activities into more idyllic Norman Rockwell-Hallmark movie moments.
Over the years, I have collected a couple of new CDs each year just to hear different jazz or pop interpretations, to switch things up and to keep the holiday tunes fresh.
Ten years ago, when I was learning Swedish, I accumulated some CDs from Sweden’s top pop singers that not only added fresh new voices to the mix, but also introduced me to traditional Swedish songs. Today, I couldn’t imagine my holidays without them.
Overall, I will admit to having a pretty big appetite for holiday tunes… but not all the time. Continue reading →
Filed under Christmas, Humour, music, pop culture
Tagged as blaring, CD, Christmas, classics, December, drivers, driving, early, holiday, music, overload, radio, seasonal, senses, songs, stations, traditional, traditions, tunes
November 12, 2018 · 10:25 am
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. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, music, pop culture, TV
Tagged as 1980's, Apple TV, art, artful life, celebrity, Duran Duran, education, entertainment, Friday Night Videos, Good Rockin Tonight, industry, interviews, media, MuchMusic, music, music videos, MusiquePlus, program, programming, stories, technology, television, video, Video Hits, video jockey, VJ, YouTube
October 7, 2018 · 8:45 am
1- Music can pick up a listener’s mood when they’re feeling down.
2- Music can help a listener to relax when they’re feeling wound up.
3- Music can help set the mood for any activity.
4- In the morning, the right song can help set the pace for the whole day.
5- The right music can make traffic jams more bearable.
6- The right background music can make a movie a masterpiece.
7- A game show would not be as much fun if it didn’t have the right background music.
8- A horror movie would not be as enjoyable without the appropriate background music.
9- Music is a great conversation starter.
10- Music makes people want to move.
11- Music makes exercise more fun. Continue reading →
Filed under Lists, music, pop culture
Tagged as appreciation, art, artist, celebration, classical, composer, emotions, feelings, fitness, inspiration, instrument, jazz, joy, listicle, love, music, musical, passion, pop, relaxation, singer, song, songs, tradition