Categories
Music

Top 25 for 2012

You guys should know the story by now. Every year I reset the song count on my iTunes, and share with you the top 25 songs that I listened to last year.

I almost cut and pasted 2011’s list and write up.  Rather than just Guster & Dispatch making the list, I added a little Jason Mraz and Mac Miller.  Wait, who? Mac Miller?

I told you my Guster & Dispatch stories last year, so let’s give you some insight to the others on the list: Jason Mraz, Mac Miller & Christina Perri.  I was also very pleased to find that Guster and Jason Mraz appeared on “Live at Daryl’s House” with Daryl Hall.

Jason Mraz

Mraz concert in IndyJason is one of the most talented artists that I know.  For me, he’s got one of the best outlooks on life and that’s reflected in his songs.  He made the comment one time that he writes songs about people in his life that he loves and are special to him.  That way when he’s performing those songs, he gets to have those people with him when he’s on the road.  I went to see him again this year in Indy.  (Christina Perri made the list as she was the opening act in Indy.)  If you doubt that he’s got some powerful songs, check out his appearance on VH1’s Storytellers.

Mac Miller
How did this song get on the list.  Well, let me tell you.  Last year the HBO had the 24/7 Show “Road to the Winter Classic” featuring the Washington Capitals & the Philadelphia Flyers.  This song was the Flyers victory song and they played it on a few episodes and it stuck in my head. So, I bought it and somewhere along the way it became a song for Truce & I.  It fell to #16 by year end, but it was number 1 for most of the year.

See you next year.

Name Artist Album
1 Never or Now Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
2 We Hold a Gun Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
3 Josaphine Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
4 Circles Around the Sun Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
5 G Major Guster Satellite
6 Flag Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
7 Feels So Good Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
8 You Fckn Did It (Live) Jason Mraz Live Is a Four Letter Word – EP
9 One Man Wrecking Machine Guster Ganging Up On The Sun
10 Keep It Together Guster Keep It Together
11 Rise & Shine Guster Satellite
12 The Woman I Love (Live) Jason Mraz Live Is a Four Letter Word – EP
13 I Never Knew You (Live) Jason Mraz Live Is a Four Letter Word – EP
14 Come to Me Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
15 Lightning Rod Guster Ganging Up On The Sun
16 Knock Knock Mac Miller Knock Knock – Single
17 Get Ready Boy Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
18 Sign of the Times Dispatch Circles Around the Sun
19 Timothy Leary Guster Satellite
20 I’m Through Guster Satellite
21 What Mama Say (Live) Jason Mraz Life is Good – EP
22 Satellite (The Astronauts Remix) Guster Satellite
23 Two Of Us (Live At KCRW) Guster Satellite
24 Satellite Guster Ganging Up On The Sun
25 Distance (w/Jason Mraz) Christina Perri Lovestrong

 

Categories
life Web Stuff

Use Your Facebook Status to Change your Life

Facebook is an interesting animal.  I was an early adopter to FB (started 6/14/2007) and as an almost 5-year grizzled veteran of the social media behemoth, I have seen some interesting happenings over that time.  However, the most interesting item has to be what your FB status says about you.

In researching this post, I went back and read all my posts over the past few months (I usually update once a day or so).  Now, if I didn’t know anything about me, I would gather that I am the class clown, post funny stuff and try to make myself seem witty.  That my friends is dead on.  Now, I didn’t say I was funny or witty, but I try.

So, I took some other FB friends of mine and read their posts over the past couple of months (the new Timeline feature makes that real easy).  It’s interesting what you see.

I have friends that attempt to be wittier than me (they try).  I have friends that have a genuinely positive outlook on life.  Everyday is glorious.  Sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and puppies.  Ya gotta love it.   I have friends that seem to have lives worse than “Born Loser”.  Nothing goes their way.  Every bounce of the ball is off their foot.  The glass is way past half-empty.  Then I have friends that live if only for their kids.  No post goes without a mention of their children.  I’m not saying that’s bad, just follow me on this.

But, I would like for you to look past the above general stereotypes and read YOUR posts.  Do you see a theme?  FB is a simple way to get what’s going on with you out of your head and out there for the world to see (like this post.)  I believe that what is going on in your life manifests itself to a FB post.  So, how is that going to change you life?

Read your posts.  If every 3rd one is about how terrible your job is, or how you are dreading work,  maybe you need a new job.  Are they easy to come by, no.  But you have to decide that you are going to start looking.  If every other post is “why do bad things happen to me?”  Then you are giving a self-fulfilling prophesy.  What is making these bad things happen?  Your financial situation?  Your job?  Your partner?  Use that to look inside yourself and find a positive way to change it.

Now, you happy people don’t get off the hook either.  If you were one of the before mentioned unicorn people, nice work.  However, make sure that if that is your attitude, you are sharing it with others that don’t have it.  Is one of your friends one of the people from the last paragraph?  Call them.  Take them to lunch.  Share that good juice that you got with them.  They need it.  If you do, it will fuel you even more.

Now, I hope that I don’t lose friends on FB because you think I’m pointing fingers, I’m not.  I love all 703 of you like you are my own internet children.  More importantly, I hope this reaches at least one of you 703 and helps you in the new year.  Have a great day.

 

 

Categories
Media Music

Top 25 on the iTunes Playlist 2011

Every year, I try to share the top 25 songs on my iTunes. I then reset it for the next year.

I gotta tell ya, this has been a boring year for me musically. Only 2 artists made the list: Guster and Dispatch (Chadwick Stokes is a spin off from Dispatch, so I’m not counting him).

Guster
It’s not a shock that Guster has come in taking up the top 4 spots. Guster is great music for playing while at work or putting the headphones on while working on the computer. I was introduced to Guster by a friend of mine, Paul (PJ). We caught common ground when I was playing State Radio the first time we met and he bought me “Guster on Ice“. I was hooked. I have since bought the entire catalog. They remain the last of the bands that I like that I need to see live. I have a “Best of Guster” (link goes to Spotify) playlist that I made up and it’s my go-to when I don’t want to search for music. The Guster station on Pandora is also a regular play for me.

They own this year’s Top 25, taking 13 of the spots.  I think what I like best about Guster is that they don’t have one particular sound.  So while I look like I need to branch out and listen to other kinds of music, they have such a diverse sound that I feel like I’m listening to different groups.

Dispatch
Ahhhh, Dispatch. Taking up the other 12 spots on my Top 25 is Dispatch.  Chad, Pete & Bradigan did me the courtesy of going back out on tour together this past year.  I was able to see them in Millenium Park this past June. If you don’t know the history of Dispatch, Wikipedia tells all. Mark put me onto Dispatch a few years back, but alas, they had already broken up.  They have been Top 25 regulars for the past few years.  Great band, great harmonies, great live show.

Dispatch is one of bands that you hope will go on forever.  They can do all their solo projects, then come back together every couple of years and throw an EP or new music on us.  I’m cool with that.  They are hinting at another album for 2012, so we will see.

There you have it, the top 25 songs played in my iTunes for 2011.  The full list is below in all it’s glory.  I have reset the playlist count and 2012 is a fresh slate.  (FYI, the first other artist was Led Zepplin’s D’Yer Mak’er at #26)

 

Name Artist Album Count
1 Keep It Together Guster Keep It Together 67
2 Lightning Rod Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 51
3 One Man Wrecking Machine Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 51
4 Jesus & Mary Guster Easy Wonderful (Deluxe Edition) 48
5 Flying Horses Dispatch Silent Steeples 47
6 Satellite Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 47
7 Hercules Guster Easy Wonderful (Deluxe Edition) 42
8 Jesus On The Radio Guster Keep It Together 41
9 Hey, Hey Dispatch Silent Steeples 40
10 Questioned Apocalypse Dispatch Silent Steeples 40
11 Manifest Destiny Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 40
12 Broken American Dispatch Dispatch – EP 39
13 The Captain Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 37
14 New Underground Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 36
15 Two At A Time Guster Keep It Together 36
16 Con Man Dispatch Dispatch – EP 35
17 Homecoming King Guster Keep It Together 35
18 Steeples Dispatch Silent Steeples 34
19 Hang On Guster Ganging Up On The Sun 34
20 Water Stop Dispatch Silent Steeples 33
21 Mayday Dispatch Silent Steeples 33
22 Melon Bend Dispatch Dispatch – EP 32
23 Coffee and Wine (Bonus Track) Chadwick Stokes Simmerkane II (Bonus Track Version) 30
24 Past the Falls Dispatch Silent Steeples 30
25 Elias Dispatch Silent Steeples 30

 

Categories
life

Seconds of Beauty

I saw this video this morning and I thought it was really cool.  Especially this time of year when we are rushing around buying gifts, pepper spraying people at Walmart and baking cookies.  Take a second to soak in the beauty that is life.  I just looked up from my desk to see all the pictures of Truce & Jennifer on my wall.  That deserves more seconds than 1.  My point is this; life is a beautiful, wonderful gift, take a second to take it in, marvel at it and rejoice in it.  Doing that several times a day changes the entire way you look at things.  It gives you a great perspective on how wonderful and beautiful life is.  It’s raining and cold here today, but I can’t help look out the window and enjoy the simple beauty of the rain.

Have a wonderful day. (Watch it full screen if you can.)

Seconds Of Beauty – 1st round compilation from The Beauty Of A Second on Vimeo.

 

Categories
life

Steve Jobs Eulogy

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

By MONA SIMPSON

Published: October 30, 2011

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.