Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tune in Tuesday — Merry Christmas!

Tune in Tuesday is a weekly music feature that was originally hosted by the fabulous Ginger at GReads. However, for the time being, Katelyn of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands will be hosting. It's probably obvious by now that I love music almost as much as I love books! When I found out about Tune in Tuesday, I couldn't resist getting in on the action! Be sure to check back every week for new music and if you'd like to join us, just drop by Katelyn's blog and link up your post!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

In honor of Christmas, I'm posting one of my favorite holiday songs—Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra's Marshmallow World... Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tune in Tuesday — Road Trip

Tune in Tuesday is a weekly music feature that was originally hosted by the fabulous Ginger at GReads. However, for the time being, Katelyn of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands will be hosting. It's probably obvious by now that I love music almost as much as I love books! When I found out about Tune in Tuesday, I couldn't resist getting in on the action! Be sure to check back every week for new music and if you'd like to join us, just drop by Katelyn's blog and link up your post!

By the time this posts, I'll have been driving for *checks watch* four hours already.

...And after four hours on the road, I'll still have another eight hours of drive time before I reach my destination.

You know what I'm going to need for this trip, right?

Well... Besides a large pile of snacks and ridiculous amounts of coffee, I mean.

It's time to put together the all-important road trip playlist!

And since I'm driving, I get to choose the music. House rules... To quote Dean Winchester, "Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole."

In honor of Dean, the first song on the playlist will be Survivor—Eye of the Tiger. Is there a better song to get you pumped up about... well... anything? And besides. I really just wanted an excuse to post this outtake from season four. It's kind of priceless.

This next one is a song that I've played as the first song of every solo road trip I've taken in the last year.  If you recognize the song (and know the movie it's from), you'll understand why it's a perfect road trip song. It's Gogol Bordello—Through the Roof 'N' Underground. And when you're hitting the road half-awake and not-quite-caffeinated at three in the morning, it's exactly what you need to hear.... Or maybe I'm just weird. That's possible, too.

On the country end of the spectrum we have a little Brantley Gilbert with the song Hell on Wheels. Guaranteed to earn you funny looks when you start rocking out at a red light. With bonus Popcorn Sutton photos... because it is a song about runnin' shine after all. It's only right. ;)

And last but certainly not least—another band that's a road trip favorite of mine—LUCERO! And, okay, Lucero is kind of a favorite of mine all the time and not just on road trips. Love those guys. I can think of almost half a dozen road trips I've taken just to see them in concert, so a long drive without Lucero just seems wrong at this point. Here's Lucero's song California as the soundtrack to another crazy trip, illustrated entirely in photographic stills. It's amazing. Just see for yourself.

San Francisco from DEREK WOODS on Vimeo.

 What about you guys? What songs are must-haves for your road trip playlists?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Of Nerdfighters, Giving Back, and Mario's

I'm not really sure how to open this entry.

Yesterday was... horrific. Although that word really doesn't cover it. Watching the news, reading the reports, I felt sick. Helpless. Angry. Depressed. A myriad of emotions that I've felt more times than I'd like to count in the last twelve months.

When I woke up this morning, I decided to scrap my original post about lessons I learned the hard way while self-publishing Revival. (I'll post it eventually, but now didn't seem like the time.)

Instead, I wanted to focus on something positive. For that reason, I decided to talk about a couple of charities and organizations that are (to draw from the Nerdfighter mantra) helping to decrease WorldSuck... Basically, they're all dedicated to making the world a better (less sucky) place.

First up, Nerdfighteria's Project For Awesome.

If you're a fellow Nerdfighter—Hello! Welcome! And french the llama, am I ever happy to meet you! ;)

If you're reading that and wondering what the heck I'm talking about, I shall direct you to this video (and I'm very happy to meet you, too!):

Project for Awesome is a yearly event in which YouTube users all over the world post videos in support of their favorite charities. Every December, word about a wide array of charity organizations is spread, donations are made, good deeds are planned, and by the time the event is over, the world sucks a little bit less than it did that morning. It truly is awesome and I highly recommend checking it out.

Next up, Mario Marathon!

Mario Marathon is a charity drive that's very near and dear to my heart. As someone who's spent more time in the hospital than I'd like to think about, I know exactly how depressing and stressful it can be when you're confined to a bed while doctors poke and prod and hover over you in their attempts to make you better. 

And when you're a kid, it can be terrifying.

That's why Child's Play Charity—the organization Mario Marathon supports—is one of my favorite charities out there.

Basically, Child's Play donates toys, games and books(!) to hospitals and therapy facilities around the world. Using their website, you can view the wish lists compiled by individual hospitals and donate items from the list, or you can make a cash donation to Child's Play and the money will be used to buy and distribute items to various hospitals. Either way, your donation goes toward putting a smile on a child's face. And that is pretty awesome.

As for Mario Marathon itself—the event is a (usually) a four- or five-day-long video-game-playing marathon during which the Mario Marathon team plays their way through every Mario game in creation all the while raising money and awareness for Child's Play! The more you donate, the more levels and special events are unlocked, and the longer the marathon lasts.  The event is live-streamed over the internet and runs (nonstop) until the last goal is met. It's hilarious, fun and supports a wonderful cause.

...And, okay, so it's December right now and this particular event doesn't take place until June... That's okay! You can still donate! Plus, you can go ahead and mark your calendar for June of next year. The event (and the exact dates) have yet to be confirmed, but the hints being dropped by former Mario Marathoners have me thinking there's a good chance that Mario Marathon 6 will be taking place in the summer of 2013.


Obviously there are plenty of other charities out there that could use your support. If you want to get involved, but don't know where to start, I'll point you back toward the Project For Awesome taking place this Monday, December 17th. You're guaranteed to find a ton of worthwhile projects and charities during the event and it's an excellent place to get started!

And if you find the chance, do something nice for someone today.  That one act could make their day brighter and make you feel better in the process... And that's pretty awesome, too.

I'll end this here, but—as they say in my hometown—Don't Forget To Be Awesome! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tune in Tuesday — Bring On the Pop

Tune in Tuesday is a weekly music feature that was originally hosted by the fabulous Ginger at GReads. However, for the time being, Katelyn of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands will be hosting. It's probably obvious by now that I love music almost as much as I love books! When I found out about Tune in Tuesday, I couldn't resist getting in on the action! Be sure to check back every week for new music and if you'd like to join us, just drop by Katelyn's blog and link up your post!

I have a confession to make.

I am a total sucker for a catchy beat. If a song makes me want to dance or tap my toes when I'm listening to it, I'll probably put it on repeat the second it's over (this includes head bobbing and shoulder shuffles too, just to clarify).

Many of my friends have very particular tastes in music. If the lyrics aren't profound, if the artist has taken to selling out stadiums, or if the song even remotely resembles a Top 40 hit, they'll turn their noses up.

And, okay, maybe the catchy pop songs I'm referring to don't have the most original lyrics or the slightest hint of depth.

But you know what? I am totally okay with that.

Bring on the pop, baby.

I'm not too proud to admit it. I love "bad" music. Especially bad music with a catchy backbeat.

So this Tune In Tuesday I'll be linking to some of my favorite ear worms from the last few years. I'm aiming for obscure-but-awesome here, so as to introduce you to things you might not have heard before. A few of these may even be more rock than generic pop, but I've always seen it as a fine line, anyway.

If you're going to play along, I recommend ignoring your inner-hipster long enough to look past the fact that you're listening to pop music and just relax! Oh, and get ready to dance.

Seriously. If you make it to the end of this and don't at least wiggle in your seat a bit, then I have completely failed in my mission.

That said... On with the show!

First up, we have a little Breathe Carolina — Hit and Run. Goofy, yet fantastic.

This next song is by Beautiful Small Machines — Superconductor. I heard this during an episode of Castle a while back and Shazamed my way into a new obsession. I love living in the future.

Next it's Dragonette—I Get Around. That opening beat still gets stuck in my head on a regular basis. What's not to love?

The Sugars — Way to My Heart. And dear lord, that is a terrifying screen cap from the music video. I promise you that the dude isn't wailing in agony or anything. I mean, he wails, but it's really rather pleasant... And... And I'm just going to shut up now so you can play the song and see for yourself.

And last but not least, Martin Solveig Feat. Dragonette — Hello. Which, if you've watched the CW for any length of time, you've probably heard in the background of a show or during a commercial.  It's that sort of a song. Good luck getting the chorus out of your head...

That's all for today! I hope you click away from this with at least one of those stuck in your head. And also, I hope that you'll never be too embarrassed to like a song just because it's catchy or popular... If you like it, that's great! There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of for enjoying a piece of music. And if some silly hipster tries to tell you otherwise, send them to me and I'll straighten 'em out.

What about you guys? What are your favorite can't-get-them-out-of-your-head pop tunes from recent years? I'd love to hear them!

I'll be posting more information about recent interviews and giveaways in the not-to-distant future, so be sure to check back!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Of Tea Parties and Goofy Hats

I went to a tea party themed bridal shower last weekend.... And it was awesome.

And not just because it was a bridal shower for one of my besties, the food was phenomenal, and everyone had a fantastic time...

I mean, there was that too.

But guys.

We were given hats to wear.


Now, I'm not usually a fancy hat sort of person. (See my introductory post.) If you stick a hat on my head (and it isn't a ball cap), I'll either take it off and whack you with it, or I'll grudgingly wear it, but will straight up refuse to be seen in public.

And trust me. You wouldn't want to be seen in public with me in a hat, anyway. I look ridiculous. And that can only reflect badly on you and your ability to choose friends.

So when I arrived early to help set up the shower and was immediately shown to a large basket overflowing with vintage hats... Well, I might have made a face.

Not a pretty one, either.

I plucked the first hat from the pile that didn't have a wide brim or a giant bow tacked on top, stuck it grudgingly on my head and then wandered back into the kitchen... Where I was immediately complimented by two different people on my choice in headwear.

Confused at this unfamiliar reaction to someone seeing me in a hat, I sought out the nearest mirror.

...And it wasn't half bad.

I immediately fell in love with that goofy hat. And the best part? The owner was so thrilled that we loved our hats that she gave them to us! I got to keep it!

You know those crack-filled e-mails I write to friends? Well the second I made it home I knew I had to write to Carrie and show her this impossibly fantastic hat.

...But being the loser that I am, I forgot to take pictures during the shower.

Desperately in need of photographic evidence to support my argument regarding the hat's utter awesomeness, I did what any person with access to an iMac camera would do.... I immediately used photo booth to take my picture.

Only, it didn't exactly go as I planned on that first take.

Y'see, just before I clicked the button to snap the photo, Pandora started playing Wagner.

Like... Ride of the Valkyries, Wagner.

It took me half a second to identify.

In that half a second, my face went from photo-ready smile to... Well, to this:

Best. Accidental. Photo. Ever.

I gave serious consideration to using it as my icon. Still might.

Eventually I got my hands on copies of the bridal shower photos... But that photographic outtake might just be the best picture I'll ever take of that hat.

In case you're curious, here's what the hat looks like in color:

(It's purple! And it has a feather! I seriously need to reconsider my previous statements regarding plumage.)

And for those of you curious as to what, exactly, a tea party bridal shower looks like... Well, it looks a lot like this:

And, yes. Those scones and finger sandwiches were just as tasty as they appear in the image.

This tea party thing ain't half bad, y'all.

Good food, good friends, and good times.

...And hats!

Yay, hats.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tune in Tuesday and a Giveaway

Well this is dangerous...

So Katelyn over at Kate's Tales of Books and Bands has this lovely feature where—every Tuesday—she links to music that she happens to enjoy.

It's called Tune in Tuesday. And it's awesome.

She invites other bloggers to join in on the fun by putting together their own Tune in Tuesday posts and... Well... How could I resist?

*rubs hands together gleefully*

I thought I might share a few songs that have been playing in my headphones this week. There's no real theme to these selections. In fact, the only thing they really have in common is that each and every one of them earned a love-at-first-listen reaction from me and usually wound up playing on repeat for hours at a time... Much to the annoyance of my neighbors, I'm sure (see my last post for more about my apartment's really thin walls).

I can't guarantee that you'll love any of these... But there's a nice variety of genre's here, so hopefully you'll find something you can enjoy.

First up—a little gem from the boys of The Revival Tour. (That's an actual tour, by the way. An EPIC tour filled with amazing alt-country/folk/rock/punk bands that I'd give my left arm to see. *sigh* Maybe next year.)

It's Joe Ginsberg, Dave Hause and the inimitable Chuck Ragan performing Hause's song Prague (Revive Me) using a harmonica, a baritone ukulele and a wedding ring on a beer bottle. Did I mention that I love these boys? Cause I do.

Tiny things. Makin' history.

Next up, an Imogen Heap song that I loved back in college but had forgotten about entirely until that Pentatonix Aha! cover got me listening to it again.

It's called Glittering Cloud from the compilation album Plague Songs.

I defy you to listen to that chorus and not dance in your seat a little. Or at the very least, tap your foot or bob your head. It's infectious (and no, that pun on the album name was not intentional... I swear.)

This next one's courtesy of my friend Carrie, who has an almost supernatural ability to find perfect songs that fit different Variant Series characters—or, as in this instance, songs that fit relationships between the characters.

This one's Shell Games by Bright Eyes. And she's right. It is a great song for Declan. It's a perfect fit for how he probably views his relationship with Alex as the story progresses...

And then there's this...

Brantley Gilbert's Kick it in the Sticks from his album Halfway to Heaven. There are a few songs from that album I love (Hell on Wheels, Take it Outside, Hell on an Angel)... But this is the one I listen to when I want to remember starry nights spent in the Appalachian mountains, driving down the parkway with the windows down or partying with friends around a bonfire.

You know... The good times.

Yes, I listen to (and love) country music. All country music. From Hank Sr. and Waylon Jennings to Jason Aldean and George Strait... And everything in between. (Except, possibly, Rascal Flatts. Sorry, Flatts fans. I just can't hack it.)

And last but not least...

The song that got me writing again after my last bout with writer's block.

Flyleaf's song Call You Out off their latest album New Horizons. It's loud, it's catchy, and it's perfect for tuning out the world. I love it.

That's all for now, but before I go...

Be sure to check out my interview with Laura over at her blog Colorimetry! And while you're there, you can enter to when an eBook copy of Revival!

Well? What are you doing still reading this? Go check out Laura's blog! YOU MIGHT WIN SOMETHING. < /bribe > What's not to love?