Mixtape Monday: Up Yours, Monday

Mixtape Monday: Up Yours, Monday

Rockstar (1)
Not having an office job really changes your perspective on Mondays.

For instance, I no longer wake up with a pit in my stomach dreading the day ahead of me. I don’t worry about wolfing down a bowl of granola (or, let’s be honest here, waiting until I drop my daughter off at school and then buying and Egg McMuffin) or packing a lunch that will end up sitting in the fridge at work because I decided I wanted broccoli cheese soup from the sandwich place

I don’t worry about my hair or makeup any more. I do end up looking like the witch from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, but its a trade-off I’m willing to live with.

witch.jpg

It’s pretty great. I won’t lie. You should all consider early retirement

There are still things I need to do, though. Things like putting together a blog post and corresponding playlist because I thought “Mixtape Mondays” sounded cute and didn’t think about the fact I was actually committing to writing a blog post EVERY SINGLE MONDAY.

Then there are the domestic chores – mopping floors, making bread, washing the laundry and hanging it out to dry. It’s a regular goddamn Little House on the Prairie around here.

And just like my office days, I rely on music to get me through. Because mopping the floors to “Welcome to the Jungle” is a lot more fun than mopping the floors in silence, and we can all use a little more Dolly Parton in our lives.

So, roll up your sleeves, pop in your ear buds, and let’s get to work!

  1. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

  2. Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N Roses

  3. Stronger – Kanye West and Daft Punk

  4. Mutha’uckers – Flight of the Conchords

  5. You Make My Dreams – Daryl Hall and John Oates

  6. Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News

  7. Manic Monday – The Bangles

  8. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

  9. Story of My Life – Social Distortion

  10. Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney

  11. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen

  12. You’re the Best – Joe “Bean” Esposito

  13. Groove is the Heart – Deee-Lite

  14. Short Skirt/Long Jacket – Cake

  15. Mo Money Mo Problems – Notorious B.I.G.

  16. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince

Listen here on SpotifyAnd don’t forget to check the Mixtapes & Cupcakes Facebook Page on Wednesdays for the next week’s topic!

*Special thanks to readers (and long-time friends) Heather and Sarah for playing along this week!

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Mixtape Monday: Prom Night

Mixtape Monday: Prom Night

After going back over some old posts, I realized I wasn’t really living up to the “mixtape” part of “Mixtapes and Cupcakes.” I haven’t really met the “cupcake” requirement, either now that I think of it. In fact, I really only have one cupcake recipe I use on a regular basis. Maybe I should have put more thought into the name of my blog.

Anywho … in an effort to start living up to my name, I’m introducing a regular feature called “Mixtape Mondays” because Mondays stink and music makes it better. Also, it’s the only day of the week that fits well with the word “mixtape.”

Every week I will pick a new topic and ask my faithful readers to help me out. This is primarily to keep me from only picking songs from the 90s where it appears my mixtape making abilities got left behind…along with actual mixtapes.

If you want to play along you can follow me on Facebook.

This week’s topic is prom. I don’t really have a good reason for picking it. I just heard an ad on the radio for a “Prom Rewind Party” at our local casino and thought, “Hey, people really like prom.”

I’m not sure why this is. My own proms weren’t that magical. We didn’t have to fight city hall to hold the dance. I didn’t make my own dress. I wasn’t the victim of a cruel bet to make me into prom queen.

My proms were pretty average. We had both the dinner and dance in our high school gymnasium and after it was over we all went to the commons for “After Prom” where we got pizza and karaoke. I think that’s how it was for a lot of people.

So, why do we love prom so much? I guess it’s the Pretty In Pink effect. We all want to live in a John Hughes movie. Or maybe that’s just me.

I thought I should get to the bottom of it and see if anyone else out there had a prom song or memory that wasn’t directly tied to the movie version of prom. I asked the question “What songs make you think of prom?”

Here’s some of the answers:

Our song was “I will remember you” by Sarah McLachlan. I hated it so much. We were way too young to be that nostalgic. At the time, I worked at Sam Goody with the guy who DJ’d our prom, so I’m pretty sure I got some Afghan Whigs played, though I don’t remember what song. I thought I was so cool with my indie rock and my connex with the DJ.
– Nicole

When I think proms for some reason I always think of the movie and soundtrack of Pretty in Pink…I think I watched it way too many times when I was younger. Prom Story – Junior Prom I got the flu at the prom and had to leave shortly after the dance started. Made it home and was able to change out my dress before I started throwing up.
– Sarah

The Romantics “What I Like About You” and Van Halen’s “Oh, Pretty Woman”. For some reason I remember my junior prom in 1982 better than my senior prom. And no, alcohol was not the reason! Just better songs!
– Tony

Stevie B “Because I love you.” Incidentally, it is also the one-song soundtrack to my lonely solo shuffling at Skatetown. Those were some brutal, friend-zone, times.
– Jenn

Kenny G “Forever in Love” was our theme for senior prom at RS. My first official date with Jeff (now husband).
­- Jenny

The theme for my junior prom in 1984 was “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The version that was played at prom was by Taco, a 1980s one hit wonder. I just learned by visiting Wikipedia that it was actually a cover of a song written in the 1920s by none other than Irving Berlin. The more you know!
– Mary

Pour Some Sugar on Me, Hurts So Good. I don’t really remember slow songs due to the fact that I was dateless, lol.
-Heather

Of course “Shout” (little bit softer now), with the whole Blues Brothers dance. And any song from Romy and Michelle. (Which works well for prom and reunion mixed tapes). No stories, but I did hit a cat on the way to my junior prom. I still feel bad about that one.
-Nikki

“This Is The Time” by Billy Joel. Other prom themes during my high school years when I didn’t actually go to the prom include “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton and “With or Without You” by U2 (that last one is a still a headscratcher).
-Liam

Thanks to everyone who submitted songs and stories! And now … let’s dance!

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Footloose – Kenny Loggins
I Melt With You – Modern English
If You Leave – Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark
The Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim
Teenage Dirtbag – Wheetus
I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
What I Like About You – The Romantics
With or Without You – U2
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams
Because I Love You – Stevie B.
Puttin’ On The Ritz– Taco
Cruel To Be Kind – Letters to Cleo
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
I Remember You – Skid Row
Forever In Love – Kenny G
Shout! – This Isley Brothers

Here’s the link to my Spotify playlist if you’d like to listen along.

(I’m crossing my fingers that the link works. I’ve been messing with it all morning. If it doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll try to get it fixed for next week.)

Encyclopedia of Random Thoughts, Volume II

Encyclopedia of Random Thoughts, Volume II

Batman Begins: Over the weekend, there was quite a bit of smoke in the air due to wildfires in Minnesota and Canada. My 13-year-old thought that was a boring explanation and offered an alternative theory: What if a madman had released a hallucinogenic substance into the water supply so when the water vaporized the substance would cover the city in a fog that would drive people crazy. Unbeknownst to me, she was just describing the plot of Batman Begins.

Beastie Boys: I like listening to the album Check Your Head while I’m taking my walks. It makes me feel like I’m in a movie; a really boring movie about a woman walking.

Boo Radley: We have a four-year-old neighbor named Evie who has struck up a friendship with our nine-year-old daughter. Now, every so often when we get home, we find little gifts by our back door; a picture Evie colored in preschool, a ball, a plastic St. Patrick’s Day bowler hat. She’s like our own little Boo Radley.

Crayons: My daughter brought home this activity sheet the other day. Is it just me or do these crayons look an awful lot like condoms?

crayons

Library Books: I currently have eight books checked out from the library. I don’t want to read any of them. I just keep checking out new ones hoping one will stick.

Mr. Cola: I recently saw a car with the license plate “MR COLA.” I wondered who this Mr. Cola was. Was he the heir to a cola empire? Or was he just a man who really liked cola, and if so, would he drink other types of soda or only cola? Would he turn down a lemon-lime? The I wondered if maybe there was a “MR PIBB” out there. Or a “DR PEPPER.” And why are there no feminine sodas? Why couldn’t it be “Ms. Fresca?” Then I had to wonder if it was sexist of me to think Dr. Pepper was a man. Then I realized I should focus less on sodas and license plates and more on driving. See also,  Sexy Bitch Edition.

Nine: My youngest daughter is nine. The great thing about have a nine-year-old is she will happily make my bed if I pay her a quarter.

Sexy Bitch Edition: On my way into work a couple of weeks ago, I followed a car into the parking garage with an emblem that said “Sexy Bitch Edition.” At first, I thought this was a real thing. The car looked pretty ordinary from the outside so I wondered what made it “sexy” and “bitchy.” Maybe the it had leopard print upholstery? When I sat down at my desk I researched it and was disappointed to find out that it was just a magnet you could order online. The rest of the day, however, when I walked through the skywalk to get lunch or run an errand I would eye the other women walking and wonder “Is she the sexy bitch?” See also, Mr. Cola.

Spring Pictures: I love the spring photos at my kids’ school. We usually forget about them until the day of, so they go to school wearing whatever they want. Also, my kids know I won’t order them, so they don’t take them very seriously. This makes for more natural photos. This year is a great example. Never has a school photo summed up my 13-year-old the way this one does.

Amelia

Swedish Chef: My husband and I have an agreement; I do the cooking and he does the clean-up. I clearly come out ahead in this arrangement. I like to cook and usually leave the kitchen looking like the Swedish Chef has been there. The fact that my husband knows both of these things and still does the clean-up either means he really loves me or really hates to cook.

The_Swedish_Chef

Thought Process as I’m About to Order Fast Food: Maybe I’ll just order a soda. I shouldn’t be eating this junk anyway. I am a little hungry. Maybe I could add a salad. That’s healthy. But French fries sound so good right now. What about a small fry? Yep, that’s what I’ll do. A Diet Coke and a small fry.

Pulling up to the drive-thru: ” I will have the Whopper with cheese, hold the onion. And let’s make that a large with a Diet Coke, thanks.”

Two Years: I will try almost anything for two years then give it up. This includes being a vegan, giving up caffeine, watching Glee, doing yoga, couponing, making my own laundry detergent, going to a Unitarian church, and living in Texas.

“Rhythm Nation,” Janet Jackson #AtoZChallenge

“Rhythm Nation,” Janet Jackson #AtoZChallenge

There must be something about big families and the need to perform. Maybe its the lack of attention growing up, but I have yet to meet a family of more than five children who didn’t have at least one – if not all –  of the children try their hand at stardom.

There’s the famous examples: The Osmonds, The Carters, The Jacksons, The Jets, The Pointer Sisters, The Brady Bunch.

Then you have my family. We’re sort of like the Jacksons, but white with less talent and less plastic surgery. We also never pooled our collective talents for singing and dancing to form a super group that would become one of the most influential pop groups on the planet. We could have! But we didn’t.

So, okay, bad analogy. I take it back. My family is nothing like the Jacksons. Not even in size. They had nine. We had seven. But one of my brother was in a band. And I have a sister who was a Janet Jackson impersonator. So, suck it!

Yes, yes, my sister was Janet – Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty – for one glorious night in high school back in the early 90s. It’s okay to be a little jealous of me.

Long before Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed the song on TBS’ Lip Sync Battle, my older sister Debbie and two of her friends took to the stage and made our tiny hometown the capital of “Rhythm Nation” for one night.

Like a lot of high schools, ours held a talent show every year during homecoming week. It was based on The Gong Show, which meant a group of merciless seniors sat up on the stage, a gigantic gong beside them, and not-so-silently judged your performance.

Every moment you were up there, you lived in fear that one of the judges – usually a burly football player – would stand up with that enormous mallet in his hand and encourage the crowd to “boo” you. It was not for the faint-hearted.

Which is why I think people were a little suprised when Debbie signed up to do it. “Debbie? Really? But she’s so quiet.”

You know what they say…the quiet ones always surprise you. Deep down, Deb is a bad-ass. A little like Janet herself.

The three of them practiced for weeks leading up to the competition. These weren’t a couple of kids up there half-assing it. Oh no, they were in it to win it. Their attitude was, “Fuck that gong!”

The best was when they practiced at our house. They would let me sit with them while they studied Janet’s videos and practiced her moves. They even let me run the tape recorder. So, yeah, I was basically in the group.

I’m not sure if our school’s Gong Show was always a lip sync contest, but it seemed like by the time me and my sister got to high school, they made up a majority of the acts. This really confused some of the older folks in town.

On the night of my sister’s performance, I heard some old guy behind me ask what was going on, like he had just been dragged in off the street.

“It’s some sort of lip sync concert, I think,” the woman beside him said.

“A lipstick contest? What on earth?”

“No, Harold. A LIP SYNC CONCERT!”

When it was their turn to take the stage, Deb and her friends looked amazing. We didn’t have an army surplus store nearby, so it was a little tough to nail down the look from the video. But Deb scored an awesome outfit from Maurice’s that had a jacket that buttoned up the front and had gigantic shoulder pads. She looked fairly militant

The music started and they slayed it. Debbie was used to kicking ass – my ass – but now she was kicking ass on stage.  The choreography was on point and if you squinted a little you would have thought it Janet herself up there. They were amazing! And I’m saying that as someone who has been to a fair number of crappy high school talent shows.

Nobody booed. Not even Harold. Nobody banged the gong ,either. In fact, they took home the first-place trophy! All that hard work paid off. Then she retired the Janet act. She hung up her hoop earrings and big black jacket and never performed “Rhythm Nation” again.

She sings now – for real – with a music group in our hometown. On the same stage she performed on that night. They donate money to the school’s music program and sponsor a scholarship. But mostly they get up there because they like to sing and perform, so my sister fits right in.  And, I like to think she brings a little of that old “Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty” sass to the act when she’s up there.

Bonus Track: Joseph Gordon-Levitt performing “Rhythm Nation” on Lip Sync Battle

You have to watch Anthony Mackie to “2 Legit 2 Quit” first, but the whole video is pretty darn funny.

“Quit Playing Games With My Heart,” Backstreet Boys #AtoZChallenge

“Quit Playing Games With My Heart,” Backstreet Boys #AtoZChallenge

My brother told me last week to quit apologizing for the music I like, and I think he’s right. I have spent a good portion of this challenge making fun of myself for listening to (and loving!) Amy Grant, Hootie and the Blowfish, Hanson, and Taylor Swift. I think it’s because I live with a music snob. I regularly apologize (but never turn the station) when one of my guilty pleasures comes on.

So, it’s a force of habit. Make fun of myself before they can make fun of me. But it ends now. I will apologize no more. Are you ready for this?

I LOVE BOY BANDS!

There. I said it. WOO! That felt good!

New Kids on the Block? Love ’em. *NSYNC? Love ’em. New Edition? Love ’em. One Direction? They’re ok.

And then there’s the Backstreet Boys. My heart truly belongs to *NSYNC, but B was taken up by Amy Grant so I couldn’t do “Bye, Bye, Bye.” It was a tough call, but I think I made the right choice.

And I really needed something for the letter “Q” and so Backstreet Boys it is. Take it away, boys!

Bonus Track: Bye, Bye, Bye
Because I had to work it into this challenge somehow.

“Purple Rain,” Prince #AtoZ Challenge

“Purple Rain,” Prince #AtoZ Challenge

Once again, I feel like I need to clear something up.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love Prince. Some might even call me a super fan. This might be because I scream like a maniac and run out to the dance floor the minute I hear Prince say the words “Dearly beloved…” when I’m at a wedding reception.

But I’m here to tell ya … I am not a Prince super fan.

I am a Prince fan, yes. But claiming to be a Prince fan means you live in a constant state of fear that some actual super fan will find out you like Prince and want to talk to you about his new project 3rdeyegirl or the song he wrote for the Minnesota Vikings. You’ll have to fumble your way through the conversation before admitting you don’t know anything about those things and hang your head in a purple cloud of shame. It would be very embarrassing.

So, I am here to state, for the record, that I am not Prince super fan. I am Purple Rain super fan. And that’s a pretty big distinction.

You, too, might actually be just a Purple Rain fan. How do you know? Think about all the Prince songs you know and love.  “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Baby I’m A Star,” “Darling Nikki,” “Purple Rain” – all of those are from the Purple Rain soundtrack.

I know, I know… there’s “Kiss” and “Little Red Corvette” and some of the dirty stuff like “Cream” and “Pussy Control” … but honestly, I think the Prince most of us think of is the Prince from Purple Rain. That was probably the pinnacle of his career. The soundtrack was huge and so was the movie. It grossed more than $80 million at the box office. And that was 1984 dollars.

So, I’m always a little surprised when one of my friends tells me they haven’t seen Purple Rain. I feel like if you grew up in the 80s (or even the early 90s) you would have had to come across it at some point. But I am almost always the only one in my peer group who has actually seen it.

I think it has a reputation for being pretty risqué, but it’s not all that different than Footloose or Dirty Dancing. Sure, there’s the scene where Appollonia takes off her top and jumps into a lake. Then there’s the scene where Prince humps his piano while singing “Darling Nikki.” Well, there’s “Darling Nikki” … okay, okay, I see why this might not have been a hit at slumber parties.

But I remember watching it with my family once it came out on video. Sure, I was only nine and it was rated R, but the 80s were a different time. Movie nights were pretty loosey-goosey in our house. My parents seemed to have an utter disregard for the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system. Sex, violence, drug use – no biggies. My mom or dad would just throw a hand up over our eyes if someone started to unbutton a top. That was the most censoring that went on in our household. Sometimes they weren’t fast enough and one of us would get exposed to a stray nipple, but oh well.

It also has a reputation for being a pretty terrible movie. There’s a fair amount of misogyny and some pretty awful acting. But it’s also pretty funny. Let me break it down for you: the movie is 80 percent music performances, 5 percent misogyny, 5 percent shots of Prince’s motorcycle and 10 percent straight-up comedy.  If you like Prince’s music, motorcycles, and can handle a scene where Morris Day throws a woman in a dumpster, you’ll probably have an okay time.

Need more convincing? Here are a few more reasons to give it a shot:

Prince has a puppet.  It only makes a brief appearance, but it leaves a lasting impression. And Prince has some mad ventriloquist skills. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t.

Billy, the club owner. Billy is the fictional owner of the very real, very famous Minneapolis club First Avenue. He gets to deliver one of the best lines in the film, or at least the line my husband and I quote to each other the most often. Prince, playing The Kid, has just finished performing “Darling Nikki” to a shocked crowd. The Kid storms down to his dressing room. Billy follows him, points a finger and says, “Nobody digs your music…but yourself.” Then later, while The Kid is performing “Purple Rain,” Billy is nodding his head in approval…digging it. Looks like the tables have turned, Billy.

Apollonia’s cape.  It’s winter. It’s Minnesota. Of course you have to wear a cape over your lingerie.

Prince is just like us! You might think that Prince seems less like a mortal human being and more like an alien sent to earth on a lavender-scented cloud, but personal touches in this semi-autobiographical movie tell a different story. For instance, he eats Doritos; he lives in his parent’s basement; and in this basement are rows and rows of home-canned green beans.  There’s even a baby bathtub hanging on the wall indicating he was possibly an infant at one time. I have a hard time picturing Prince in any type of normal domestic scene, but this movie drives home that he was, at one time, just like you and me.

Ruffles. Prince has three outfits in the movie – tank top, bare chest and flouncy pirate blouse, reminding us all that he had the puffy shirt look bagged up long before Seinfeld.

Minneapolis is a pretty cool place. When I saw this movie as a kid, I thought it was set in New York. It blew my mind that such a place existed a mere four hours from the cornfield I lived in. Watch Purple Rain and then watch Fargo and then remind yourself that these movies are set in the same state. It will blow your mind.

Morris Day.  He has all the good lines. He also has Jerome, a man whose only job is to follow him around with a big mirror.

The Music.  Duh.

So, if you haven’t seen the movie, here’s what you need to do. You need to make yourself a big plate of spaghetti because that’s Prince’s favorite meal (okay, maybe I am a minor league super fan); mix up a batch of Purple Rain cocktails – vodka, blue curacoa, cranberry juice and grenadine – because it helps to be just a wee bit drunk; and let in rain, my friend, let it rain!

Note about the video: Prince is famously fussy about the licensing of his music, so it was tough to find a good clip. Thanks to my friend, Sarah, I was able to find an 8-minute video of Prince during his Super Bowl halftime show where he plays the song in the rain. There’s also a pretty grainy clip of him playing it on a TV show. The sound is good, though.

There’s also this awesome clip of Kelly Clarkson singing it in St. Paul. She always does an amazing job with her covers, so it’s worth the watch.

 

 

 

 

 

“One More Try,” Timmy T., #AtoZChallenge

“One More Try,” Timmy T., #AtoZChallenge

I’m a sucker for romance.

Movies, soap operas, songs. I rarely read a book that doesn’t have someone falling in love by the end of it.

Back when I was in high school, nothing was more romantic than the “Goodnight Line” on 105.7 KOKZ. It was a ten minute window where teenagers could call in profess their love for each other on the radio. Sometimes they were straight up –  “Hi, this is Darcy, and I want to say goodnight to Jake. You are the love of my life. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow in study hall.” Other times, they were a bit more coy – “This is Troy, and I would like to say goodnight to my special girl S. You know who you are.”

Never once was there a call that said, “This is Crush A (or Crush B)and I want to say goodnight to Jean, the most beautiful girl in the world. I love you so much it hurts. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow in study hall.” I’m pretty sure the entire purpose of the program was to make me feel the sharp sting of rejection on a daily basis.

After the last call, they would play “One More Try,” a song that was so tender it made me want a boyfriend just so I could dump him and then have him beg me for a second chance. As Timmy T. sang, I would lie there and think that maybe tomorrow night would be the night Crush A or Crush B would call. If I tight-rolled my frosted jeans extra tight and put on another spritz of Exclamation! it would all fall into place.

Every once in a while, though, instead of thinking about Crush A or Crush B, I would lie there and imagine that the boy I would one day marry wasn’t either one of them, but a different boy altogether. And he was out there listening, too, like the song from An American Tail. What did he look like? What kinds of clothes did he wear? What were his hobbies?

It turns out he was tall and skinny with ears that stick out just enough to be adorable.

He was really into sports. He wore a Twins shirt and baseball cap almost every day and had a subscription to Sport magazine.

He didn’t have a girlfriend, either, but he listened to the “Goodnight Line,” too, hoping to hear his name.

He was out there. My husband of 15 years was a little over an hour away listening to the same sappy Timmy T. song I was. Just like Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram said he would be. My 14-year-old self would have been very happy to know that.

 

Bonus Track: “Somewhere Out There”

For all you lovers out there