Podcasts

Podcasts have come to the rescue since I’ve been in San Francisco, riding buses left and right. At home I’m so quick to hop in the car anytime I need to get somewhere, and in my car I always blast music (just a little too loudly). But here I spend so much time walking to the bus, waiting for the bus, riding the bus, I cycle through my favorite playlists pretty quickly. One solution is to get new music so I don’t get bored, and never you fear I’m all over that. But I also love to listen to books on tape or radio shows. Enter the podcast.

I used to be so wary of podcasts since in my mind they belonged to the realm of the nerd, sitting in front of his computer spouting information no one wants to hear. They fell in the same category as bad college radio. Obviously that’s not true, since there are podcasts on just about any subject you could ever be interested in.

Cheaper than a book on tape, and more varied as well, podcasts are like radio without the advertisements. Stories and music on demand, if you will. I don’t know why it took me so long to get on board with podcasts as brilliant option for commuting and traveling, but now I’m hooked. I can bop along to the music of All Songs Considered, or listen to Grantland writers discuss the weeks entertainment releases. When I was stuck in the Atlanta airport for 3 hours I listened to a podcast of the best music of the past decade, which included discussions and samples of the songs.

I realize this is a post that should have been written in 2006. Sue me, I’m behind the times. However, I’m happy riding the bus while listening to podcasts with a look of late-to-the-game wonder in my eyes as I’m fed the 40 minutes of entertainment I want.

A few of my favorite podcasts? I’m a big NPR fan, so I love All Songs Considered for new music and music conversations. This American Life, on the other hand, is great for some good stories. When I venture away from NPR I like the Grantland Network Hollywood Prospectus podcasts, although all of theirs are good, particularly for sports fans who don’t have all day to sit in front of Sports Center. Other channels I’ll download just an episode or two from, like TED or various yoga & wellness podcasts.

So for those of you who are laughing thinking “Oh Molly, it’s cute how she finally listens to podcasts,” do you have any favorites? Or better yet, any recommendations for how to pass the time on the bus?

Advertisements

She Runs The World: Beyonce and Feminism

Recently I had a long-delayed bus ride and a longer-delayed train ride during which I had to keep myself amused, so naturally I listened to a lot of Beyonce. Now normally when I have a long Beyonce jam-sesh I’m in the car and I’m belting out the lyrics in my worst Beyonce voice. You better believe I do a mean rendition of “I Was Here,” although my “Halo” could use some work. As I was sitting on the bus, and at Penn station, and on the train, I started thinking about Beyonce as a cultural producer rather than as the person who I most want to be in this world. And I started thinking about what it means to listen to Beyonce as a woman and, beyond that, a feminist. After all, Beyonce sings primarily about being a woman in a heterosexual relationship, with the occasional power ballad or club anthem thrown in. However she is also widely acknowledged as a badass diva extraordinaire, and one not to be trifled with. So as I sat listening to her belting that she’d rather die young than live her life without me (yes, I believe it was directed towards me specifically), I couldn’t help but think about what Beyonce means to women. Is she a feminist?

Destiny’s Child Roots

I’ll try not to linger too long on the Destiny’s Child days, because I think it’s hard to judge Beyonce on what she did 11+ years ago when she was still young enough to sing a song called Bootylicious. However it’s fairly undeniable that Destiny’s Child did something pretty important when they were around. Though they were not the first to do so (they continue a legacy somewhere between the Supremes and TLC), they were a group of strong, unapologetic women who were talented and confident enough to keep the limelight on them. No doubt when the group released Survivor the world was aware they were not girls to be trifled with.

Other songs of theirs, however, seemed decidedly simpering and hollow. Cater 2 U might be one of my least favorite songs ever, and not because I hate on love songs or the idea of giving selflessly in a relationship (I’m not a heartless freak). I just think that the group that took such pride in female independence and forcing men to own their actions could do better than, “Let me run your bathwater” and “I’ll keep my figure right, I’ll keep my hair fixed, keep rocking the hottest outfits.” Come on, Kelly drips herself against a car and sings “I know whatever I’m not fulfilling another woman is willing.” If my man ever told me to step it up because another woman would run his bathwater and keep her hair fixed he’d find himself free to pursue that other woman far far away from me.

Fast forward to 2011 and the album 4. The album may not have been as widely praised or critically successful as her previous releases, but it was undeniable that Beyonce now knew she was a badass woman that any man would be lucky to have, bathwater or not. In some songs she seemed to trumpet her love of her husband, but there was always a hint or more of undeniable female swag. On “Countdown” in between the touting of her love and the praise she heaps on her man, she sings, “Don’t ever let me go, say it real loud if you’re fly, If you leave me you’re out of your mind.” It’s clear she knows that she brings as much to the table as her man, and in my mind that’s a far cry from Cater 2 U.

Sasha Fierce & Ego

With the release of her third solo album, Beyonce introduced the world to her alter-ego, Sasha Fierce. Accompanied by a duo of backing dancers, she strutted and swagged her way to the top of the charts. For those of us who read gossip magazines, there was a disconnect between her “Single Ladies” anthem and the fact that she was a recently married woman, but none of us were willing to deny that she was indeed fierce.

In my mind, one of the undeniably “fierce” songs on the album was “Ego.” At first I was hesitant. A woman singing about her man’s big ego and how sexy it is? Seemed like the kind of song that could serve as kindling for a big ass ego fire. But the more I listened the more I grew to love the song, not for any grand musical genius, but because it touched on that same “Countdown” vibe: my husband is awesome, I’m awesome, and we just work. Who can argue with that? I think that if I had been in the spotlight since I was 17 I’d be curled up in a ball somewhere right now, but instead Beyonce sounds more sure than ever on “Ego” that she’s a catch (And let’s face it, she is. I’d date her). With sex appeal just a touch of attitude she sings, “I talk like this cause I can back it up. I got a big ego, such a huge ego. But he love my big ego.” On someone else it might sound arrogant (like, for example, the Kanye verse on the remix), but she pulls it off by reminding us that “he” loves her big ego, oh and don’t forget she’s got the goods to back it up.

You may not worship at the temple of Beyonce the way I do, but I think there’s something to be said for that kind of message being out there. Too often female empowerment in popular culture takes the form of man-bashing or pure sexuality. Beyonce, instead, tells girls that they can love who they are, that they can know how incredible they are, and that the man worth writing love songs about will appreciate that strength and knowledge. How’s that for a sexy message?

Demanding Respect

Beyond just knowing that she is worth something, Beyonce tends to demand respect in her music. ‘Irreplaceable’ is a prime example of that, although certainly not the only one. Any girl I know who has been cheated on or wronged gets immense satisfaction out of singing along to “I could have another you by tomorrow, so don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.” What’s interesting about her confidence is that not unlike J. Lo in “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” much of Beyonce’s confidence and self-assurance comes from her monetary power. She, like many other women of power, derives much of that power from her money and her sexuality; it’s easier to demand respect and kick a man to the curb when you have the resources, and when you know the power of your own sexuality. However, the same could be said for many men who derive power from money or good looks, so it’s hardly easy to fault her for falling into that trap.

In addition to “Irreplaceable” songs like “If I Were A Boy”, “Best Thing I Never Had”, and “Single Ladies” are all brimming with Beyonce’s swagtastic demands for respect. “If I Were A Boy”, despite all its shortcomings and the strange way in which she switches between the things she could get away with and the things she knows a man should do, tells the men of the world exactly what it looks like to respect a woman: “I’d listen to her ’cause I know how it hurts when you lose the one you wanted ’cause he’s taking you for granted.”

On “Best Thing I Never Had” she lets her betrayer know “I’m gonna always be the best thing you never had. I bet it sucks to be you right now.” She knows she’s the best, and doesn’t stick around to hear anything else. And seriously, you cheated on Beyonce, it probably does suck to be you right now. Even her slightly scary growl on “Ring the Alarm” warns that you best not be the man who wrongs Beyonce, because she’s not putting up with anything less than the utmost respect and love.

And then there’s “Single Ladies.” Oh, “Single Ladies”, how you call to me. I know that a lot of the discussions of feminism and Beyonce have arisen around “Girls” but for me this was the song where I first thought “Wow, she really is not messing around with the whole I am woman hear me roar thing.” Sure, it’s a club song. Sure, it’s got a silly and fabulous music video. Sure, a million scorned women have probably sung along badly to this song. But when it comes right down to it, it’s the ultimate in demanding respect.

Before you interrupt, I know that “putting a ring on it” is not everyone’s goal, and doesn’t mean respect, and maybe there’s something to be said about Beyonce playing into gender and relationship expectations (Hey B, you could buy him a ring). But there’s also something intensely satisfying about hearing her tell her man, “You can’t be mad at me, ’cause if you like it then you should’ve put a ring on it. Don’t be mad when you see that he want it.” Not ready to deliver Beyonce to infinity and beyond? “If you don’t, you’ll be alone, and like a ghost I’ll be gone.” That’s a woman who knows what she wants and, better yet, what she deserves. Respect, and a shiny ring.

Love Ballads

So this may be where people are thinking, “But hey isn’t this the same woman who sings ‘Halo’ and ‘1+1’? Those are so not chick-anthems.” Okay, so maybe not. But I don’t think to be a feminist you have to sing chick anthems and only sing better off alone songs (although “Me, Myself and I” is a fabulous better on my own song). What Beyonce does is sing the (heterosexual) female experience, from staggering heartbreak and soaring love, to moments of introspection and relationship musings. Sometimes you feel like you’ve found someone perfect and they’re your “saving grace,” as Beyonce belts on Halo. Empowering women doesn’t mean pretending you’ve always done everything on your own, forsaking relationships and man-bashing. It does mean being honest, and if nothing else many of her love songs are the epitome of stark honesty. Admitting you need someone doesn’t make you un-feminist, and it certainly doesn’t make you less of a badass. In fact, on 4‘s “I Miss You” Beyonce sings “It hurts my pride to tell you how I feel, but I still need to. Why is that?” What it says to me, in tandem with her other music, is that she is willing to sing about real relationships good and bad, doubts and confidence.

Girls

I’ve saved the most-discussed for last, and “Run the World (Girls)” was nothing if not a point of discussion. Was it feminist? Did it promote the idea of a female-driven world that doesn’t exist? Globally, what is her responsibility? Is it problematic that her video made use of African dancers without explicitly acknowledging their role in the choreography?

For example, one article discussed the idea that her sexual dance moves negated her girl power message:

Does the ultimate message of female empowerment resonate with audiences, or are they too distracted by Beyoncé’s obvious pandering to the male gaze to take it seriously, or even notice it at all? After all, men joke all the time about how hard it is to think when all their blood has rushed south. And it’s hard to project a powerful persona when one is so subservient to the ideals patriarchy has set out for women: perfect hair, a perfect face and a “bootylicious” figure.

The article seemed to argue that Beyonce was pandering to a male ideal of beauty and only subverting norms when it served her. There may be some truth to that. But it ignores the idea that Beyonce may be one of those woman who is trying to own her sexuality. Aha, but is “owning your sexuality” just a post-feminist ploy to make you feel like you’re making a choice? I hope not, because I like to think I am a woman who genuinely owns my sexuality, from the clothing choices I make right down to my uterus. You can tell me heels and a “bootylicious” figure aren’t feminist and I can tell you to shove it.

Additionally, people were highly critical of the idea that girls don’t run the world, finding it problematic to suggest that they do without highlighting the problems faced by women around the world.

People were quick to discuss the song, in part, I think, because by the time Beyonce released the song people had come to recognize her as a powerful woman in a position to influence hoards of girls. There is an expectation around Beyonce in her post-Bootylicious days that she will be something of a role model to girls. Because there is no such expectation around Britney Spears or Katy Perry, both are free to say whatever they want about girls. But when Beyonce says that girls run the world, people listen and question whether that’s true, or whether it’s aspirational.

I’m not dumb, and I don’t actually think Beyonce is either. We both know that neither girls nor women run the world. But does that mean we shouldn’t aspire to? There are a hell of a lot more women helping run the world today than there were 30 years ago, and more then than 30 years before that. Should we only sing songs called “Run the World (Boys)” just because the majority of the politicians and bankers that we see are men? Not a song I’m trying to listen to, call me crazy.

So is she a feminist?

In the end, I don’t have any grand conclusions about Beyonce. She sings about relationships from a female standpoint, and she does it well. She continually expresses the fact that she knows her worth, and continues to demand mutual respect in relationships. I think, in the context of her subject matter, that’s not too shabby. True, she still plays into the male gaze and uses her money and sexuality as forms of power. But there are also messages of confidence and female strength throughout her music, and even her videos tend to be more varied and less blatantly sexualized that one might expect. And furthermore, she is an important female voice (a black female voice at that) and perhaps it’s better if we listen to her as an important but flawed female figure we can learn something.

I’m not willing to say for Beyonce whether or not she’s a feminist, and she herself has declined to call herself feminist. But I’d be more than happy to go on a road trip with my future daughters and listen to nothing but Beyonce. In fact, I intend to. And they’ll be getting an earful about feminism and pop culture, you’re welcome.

(Image Source: 1)

Running Playlist: Rap and Hip-Hop

My iPod is the sole reason I’m able to run

The last few days I’ve been listening pretty much exclusively to my running playlists and Beyonce (more on that to come). But one of my favorite playlists is my Rap & Hip-Hop running playlist. There are definitely days I want to indulge in guilty pleasures or an eclectic mix of music, but more often than not this is the playlist that keeps me the most pumped up. I’ve found that a lot of people who put together hip-hop playlists for running focus on the obvious radio rap (Kanye, T.I.). There’s nothing wrong with that (although there might be something wrong with the amount of Black Eyed Peas that shows up on those playlists), but I tend to favor a bit more variety. Besides, Kanye makes appearances on my other playlists, so I like to dial him down here. I’ve also left off any songs that I previously posted on other playlists.

I know rap and hip-hop isn’t everyone’s thing. To that I say, you’re just not listening to the right songs and artists, because I really believe there is something for everyone. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you listen exclusively to country and obscure modern operas. If that’s the case, probably just stop reading now.

I’ll throw my usual disclaimer on this playlist by noting that not all of these songs are the *best* that rap & hip-hop have to offer. They will, however, get your ass running. It is a longer playlist, so feel free to pick and choose the songs that work best for you.

Running Playlist:
Rap & Hip-Hop

  • D-Block – Mighty, Mighty D-Block : There’s nothing like a good chant set to some militaristic drumming to get you feeling ready to run. Again, this is near the beginning because it’s the type of song I like to listen to while I jog over to the track.
  • 50 Cent – In Da Club : Because no playlist is complete without a song that could be played on repeat at a frat party. Or maybe that’s just me.
  • Beastie Boys – Intergalactic : I’m not the biggest Beastie Boys fan (I can appreciate Paul’s Boutique without loving everything about it), but I do love running to this song, and it’s a good way to mix up the style of a playlist.
  • Outkast – B.O.B. : Outkast has several songs that could have made this list, but B.O.B. has a higher BPM and a go-go-go feel to it that makes it perfect for picking up the pace.
  • Dr. Dre – Forgot About Dre (Feat. Eminem) : There’s a lot of Dre that’s good to run too, but this is another one of those shoulder wiggling songs that makes me look really stupid while I’m running and ensures that I’m having a great time. Plus I always like a little “I’m way better than you” when I’m running.
  • Brand Nubian – Concerto in X Minor : From the first “We got a really big show” to the last “I’m outta here” you can’t not love this song. Or you can and you’re just the worst. This is one of those songs I love listening to every single time, and the lyrics are just spot on. The funky jazzy vibe is just an added bonus.
  • Big Boi – Daddy Fat Sax : This whole album was pretty much my jam for an entire summer (Tangerine & Shutterbug got a lot of play time), but Daddy Fat Sax in particular has that sassy beat that’s great to run to. It’s shorter as well, and helps to keep song length varied and interesting.
  • Gang Star – Check the Technique : I love California Soul (particularly the Marlena Shaw version), so Premier sampling it had me on board from the start. Plus maybe you’ll remember to have good running technique? Okay that’s a stretch, I know, it’s just a really good song.
  • The Roots – Here I Come : You will be pumped up by this song. The Roots will set your feet on fire and get you moving. If they don’t, you and I need to have a very serious talk.
  • Killer Mike & Big Boi – ADIDAS : So maybe they’re not dreaming about sports, but tell me that beat doesn’t make you want to smile while you run. Awkward smile-dance-running is my specialty.
  • Young Jeezy – Crazy World : Okay let’s just agree that Young Jeezy has a silly sounding voice. But then again so do a lot of people (I’m looking at you Bjork), and none of them have made anything this fun to run to.
  • Ludacris – Move Bitch : In the 7th grade when I still thought I was a badass (I got over that quickly), I was feuding with another equally badass 7th grader, and this song kind of became my anthem, as songs so often do in 7th grade. In the intervening years I’ve become considerably more self-aware, but I haven’t abandoned this as an awesome pump up and get mad song.
  • Jay-Z – Moment of Clarity : At this point if you’re trying to be in the zone it doesn’t get much better than this. Some of his more popular songs might be a little more MTV generation approved (Izzo, something from the abominable Blueprint 3), but in my opinion Moment of Clarity is one of the best running or workout songs ever. (Also worth considering: Lucifer)
  • Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids (Feat. Raekwon) : For a while I had a bunch of Raekwon on my running playlist, but he was recently ousted because honestly a lot of the songs just weren’t that fun for me to run to. As a way of killing two birds with one stone I added this into my rotation, because it’s got two people I love and also includes the line “Ayo this rap is like ziti.” Say what, Ghostface?
  • Freeway – Freeway’s Beard : It’s a song about His. Own. Beard. Can you get any better than that? “Plenty beards Em could’ve jumped up in and vanished / but he picked mine, best beard on the planet.”
  • T.I. – Respect This Hustle : There’s a reason T.I. makes it onto a lot of running playlists: it just works. But I like a good spelling lesson, therefore I give you the song that demands respect while giving a school-worthy lesson on hustling.
  • Andre Nickatina – Ayo for Yayo : While I don’t condone getting drugged up before a run, I do condone listening to this song on repeat. And mouthing along while you run, ensuring that everyone at the track/gym/running route will stare at you.
  • Dilated Peoples – This Way : If you hadn’t noticed by now I love the Save the Best For Last mentality when it comes to running playlists. This is a bit of a staple on some running playlists, and for good reason. Motivational? Catchy? Unexpected use of a piano? Yes, yes, and yes.

More suggestions:

  • Wu Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck
  • Talib Kweli – Ms. Hill
  • The Roots – Adrenaline!
  • CunninLynguists – 616 Rewind
  • Kid Cudi – cudderisback
  • The Knux – Bang Bang
  • Bun B – Damn I’m Cold
  • Jean Grae – Fall Back
  • Lil’ Wayne – Got Money
  • Rick Ross – Push It
  • The Roots – The Seed (2.0)

Good Cool Down/Stretching Songs (or warm up):

  • Lil’ Wayne – Let The Beat Build
  • The Roots – The Fire : In the interest of diversity I tried to keep each artist to a minimum, but I don’t really think you can ever have too much Questo. I leave you with, “You don’t say good luck, you say don’t give up, it’s the fire inside ya.” Preach.

I don’t know why this playlist is so much longer than my other ones (and this is after I left some songs off), but it’s certainly fun to run to. Even if you’re just looking for a good rap/hip-hop playlist that’s on the upbeat side I recommend taking a listen. I know this list skews towards less music from the last few years, and I don’t think has anything from the last year, so is there anything more recent I’m missing? Other suggestions for good rap and hip-hop to run to?

(Image Source: http://fitbottomedgirls.com/2012/03/our-top-10-podcasts-to-move-and-groove-to/5/)

Running Playlist: Guilty Pleasures

Caught the baby listening to some Avril

I promised I’d be posting some of my favorite running playlists and I’m not one to break a promise. …And also my life is pretty boring these days so a can’t-stop-dancing-while-running playlist is about as exciting as it gets. Today I’m sharing with you my Guilty Pleasure Playlist. Now I realize that my definition of a guilty pleasure may be very different from yours, and by no means am I trying to hate on the people who non-guiltily indulge in some Paramore (but really?). I do, however, find that my favorite guilty pleasure songs tend to be great to run to.

Running Playlist:
Guilty Pleasures

  • Rihanna – Shut up and Drive : She may need a few classes in finishing school, but man do I love Rihanna. This is a great song for heading over to the track (or walking to warm up) ’cause it definitely puts you in the pump up mentality.
  • Katy Perry – Part of Me : Or [insert Kary Perry song here]. With the exception of a few songs, Katy Perry’s dance pop is great to run to. I love this song in particular to start my jog because, as I mentioned, I dig a good “scorned woman” song.
  • The Veronicas – 4Ever : This is definitely among the guiltier of the indulgences on this playlist, but the part of me that wants to be belting along with the song fuels me to run a little faster instead. If I run fast enough no one sees me shake my shoulders and hips in time to the music while I run..
  • Paramore – Misery Business : I’m a little embarassed by how much I like running to this song, but it has a high enough BPM to push you, and it’s so catchy. Plus hearing someone yell in your hear “God it just feels so good” can trick you into the “hurts so good” mentality, even if you’re out of breath and don’t want to keep going.
  • Pitbull – Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor) (Feat. T-Pain) : I don’t know what Pitbull did to earn the self-given nickname “Mr. Worldwide.” I do know that when you get him together with the rapper most likely to wear a top hat (that would be Mr. T-Pain) it makes for great running music.
  • Black Eyed Peas – Pump It : I really can’t stand the Black Eyed Peas and have absolutely no reason, but I respond well to Will.I.Am telling me to Pump It Louder for three and a half minutes.
  • Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend : This song is kind of my jam. As someone’s girlfriend I know I should be offended by it (or so I’ve been told?), but there’s a part of me that can’t help singing along with her when she sing-talks “And hell yeah I’m the mother f*cking princess” (Again, not a “clean” playlist). It’s the sort of bubblegum pop disguised as pop rock that makes for incredible running music.
  • Kylie Minogue – Love at First Sight : Kylie Minogue is pretty much the queen of infectious dance music, and I find it incredibly hard not to enjoy myself when I’m listening to her.
  • Miley Cyrus – See You Again : Ignore the part where this song was performed by a 13-year-old, and the fact that the lyrics are atrocious, and the fact that Miley Cyrus is highly unlikable. Embrace your inner middle school girl and jog your heart out to this pop anthem.
  • Jonas Brothers – SOS : While I’m on the subject of middle school music I might as well throw in the Jonas Brothers. I’m only half-embarrassed to be in love with Nick, the youngest JoBro, and not at all embarrassed to admit that running to this song makes me so incredibly happy. Plus, sometimes you just need a short transition song, and this is definitely that, clocking in at just under 3 minutes.
  • David Guetta – Turn Me On (Feat. Nicki Minaj) : I actually can’t stand this song when it plays on the radio, mainly because it’s been months now of Nicki Minaj non-stop on every station. It is, however, an undeniable pump-up song.
  • Ke$ha – Blow : This song definitely when up in my book when I saw the music video and how willing James Van Der Beek was to make fun of himself in it. Music video aside though, this is one of those guilty pleasures that I’m almost unwilling to call a guilty pleasure. She’s untalented (like I am at running) and just trying to have a good time (the only way I get through a run). If anything, I relate most to Ke$ha while running.

The amount of additionally guilty pleasure music I have on my iPod is just overwhelming. Lucky for you I pared it down to these few running songs, leaving out all the embarrassing power ballads (Celine Dion, anyone?).

More playlists to come, because let’s face it: I have a lot of spare time to make playlists, and have a lot of good running music hidden away.

(Image Source: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/wlas0006/1001/2011/11/the-rhetoric-of-superbabies.html)

A Sleepy Friday’s Weekend Essentials

The combination of rain, a very painful (but much-needed) massage and a sleepless night has left me way too tired to write much. But lest I end the week without posting at all, I’ve rounded up some weekend essentials.

Read:

Trendwatching.com reports on it’s July/August trend: “Newism.” What do you think: is there anything all that new about the need for faster and newer?

Also, a bit of shameless self-promotion: a post I wrote on a separate blog was Freshly Pressed, so if you’re interested check it out.

Eat:

Hungry Hannah’s Honey Lime Baked Chicken. I had my eye on the recipe and finally made it the other night when I needed a no-fuss recipe that was still reasonably healthy. It’s so easy to make and still winds up incredibly flavorful and moist. The cayenne adds a real kick, and it’s easy to adjust the heat level to your liking.

Fast, good dinner

Watch:

The Olympics closing ceremonies on Sunday! Apparently the Spice Girls will be making an appearance, and if that doesn’t get your pulse up than you clearly aren’t a girl born between 1987 and 1991 (and also aren’t my friend).

Listen:

If you’re a fan of the xx you have to listen to their newest single, Chained. I absolutely loved Angels, and from the sound of their first few singles Coexist is going to be a good, although not revolutionary or fresh, CD.

The album cover for Coexist

Laugh:

Check out SceeneShoes’s hilarious assortment of hand-painted bras on Etsy. For the gamer in you, there’s the xbox 360 controller bra, but I’m partial to the Ninja Turtle motif. The Ninja Turtles and I go all the way back to my first hand-me-down TMNT bike, so they have a soft spot in my heart.

Carry Donatello wherever you go

(Image Sources: Coexist Cover, TMNT Bra)

Running Playlist

My thoughts exactly

I recently admitted to myself that as much as I’ve been eating healthily lately, I’m not going to get in shape and lose weight without working out. You’ve seen my baked goods, I love food too much. I’ve been hesitant to start running again since I’ve had a lot of problems with my knees in the past year, but this week I bit the bullet and started running.

Well.. I started by running two and a half minutes at the start of every half mile and finishing out the half mile by walking. In the end it meant I ran just over a mile and walked just over 1 3/4 mile (plus a mile and a half before my run). I know to some people it doesn’t sound like much but I’m really scared to push to the point that my knee gives out again, so this seemed like a good compromise. In the past I’ve jumped right back into running two or three miles at a time, and I have to stop right away because of my knee (and because I was a college kid and let’s be honest, sitting on the couch was way more appealing). This time my plan is to build up to steady running.

That said, I’m sure I’m not the only person who absolutely dreads running unless I have a great playlist to run to. Recently I’ve been working on building new playlists since I’m sort of tired of my usual gym music, and Top 40 hits can only take you so far. Over the next couple weeks I’ll post some of my favorite running and workout playlists. I’m starting with my go to playlist that I ran to yesterday, which has such a weird variety of music that it keeps me going. I make no promises that all of the songs constitute “good music” but they sure do keep me running. The order really doesn’t matter, but I listed them in the order that I listen to them.

Running Playlist:
For Those with Eclectic Taste
(or just need to mix it up while running)

  • Miranda Lambert – Kerosene : I usually listen to this song while I’m warming up which, for me, entails walking over to the track. It puts a little kick in my step like only a scorned woman can.
  • Eminem – Till I Collapse (Feat. Nate Dogg) : I love starting out to this song since it builds at the beginning and gets me pumped to start my run. Plus it definitely puts me in a “I wont stop until I want to collapse” mentality.
  • M.I.A. – Paper Planes (Remix) (Feat. Bun B and Rich Boy) : Okay so this is really just a running song for me because I love it and associate it with great people and great things. If it’s not your cup of tea feel free to leave it off.
  • Britney Spears – Radar : Say what you want about Britney in the Blackout/having a breakdown era but the chick put out great pump up music. You can also run to Piece of Me. Or to Gimme More. Or to Toy Soldier. You get the idea.
  • Daniel Bedingfield – I Gotta Get Through This : This song has the distinction of being a staple on both my workout playlists and finals studying playlists. If you need a steady beat and you’re feeling like giving up, this is the song for you.
  • Kanye West – Power (Remix) (Feat. Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz) : Kanye has come to be a running staple and I find he tends to be over-represented on most playlists. This song, however, is the perfect steady determination song. Grit your teeth and power on.
  • Phoenix – 1901 : This song really just makes me feel like I’m running through that car commercial that it was in, which is always a plus. It’s a great playlist addition for those who tire of the radio hip-hop that dominates a lot of running playlists.
  • Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank : Is there anyone who’s gonna run to this and think “Man, I’m not having any fun”? I thought not.
  • Dada Life – Kick Out The Epic Motherf**ker : At this point you really need some pump up, give-it-your-all music, and if this song doesn’t do it for you I don’t know what will. Also if you haven’t caught on my now, this is not a “clean” playlist, because I think some well placed heavy cursing helps me get through my runs.
  • Elvis Costello – Pump It Up : Okay so this may be the most abrupt of my transitions, since Dada Life and Elvis Costello have almost nothing to do with each other (unlike Miranda Lambert and Eminem…), but this is another dance your way through your run kind of song. It’s just a fun pump-up song.
  • N.E.R.D. – She Wants To Move : I can’t tell if I’m more motivated by the beat or by the thought of Pharrell crooning to me. Either way, it does the job.
  • Talib Kweli – Get By : I try to place a few songs that I really want to hear towards the end of my playlist so I keep going until the end. Even if I’m done running it means I have good music to stretch to. And this song is pretty much a staple on my running playlists.
  • Afrojack – Take Over Control (Feat. Eva Simons)(Official Radio Mix) : I find that the original mix is way too long since I have a little bit of music ADD when I’m running. But I like to have some really recent music on my playlists, particularly toward the end, since it keeps me in that bar-dancing hyped up mode all the way to the end. Plus, I just kicked ass on a run, I get to dance my way home if I want to.

Stay tuned since I’ll be posting a few other playlists in the coming weeks, including my Guilty Pleasure Playlist and my Rap/Hip-Hop Playlist.

And, of course, let me know any good running song suggestions. I’m the type of girl who believes you can never have too many good playlists.

(Image Source: http://rwdaily.runnersworld.com/)

Mess Conquered, and Weekend Essentials

Mess organized!

I conquered the mess!! My boxes have found a home, my clothes have drawers and hangers and I organized my nail polish by color. So the essentials are taken care of. It feels nice to be settled into my room, and gave me time to focus on things like GRE flashcards and working on my current sketchbook.

Look Ma, folded and everything!

I did, however, notice one thing when I was going through my closet: when I like a color I really like it. There’s a difference between realizing you like certain styles (bright colors and vibrant prints mixed with black) and realizing your wardrobe is shockingly dominated by two color schemes.

I may need to stop buying clothes in the same shade of blue…

Smurf city bitch, smurf smurf city bitch

…and I may need to branch out of the pink/magenta family for dresses.

Pink on pink on pink

Erm, yeah, I’ll work on that.

Now that my life feels a bit more organized, I’m heading to Maine for the weekend to relax, swim, canoe, kayak and undoubtedly eat my face off. I leave you with my weekend essentials.

Kick off your weekend

Watch:

Trailer Park Boys. It’s a Canadian mockumentary TV show about a group of people living in a trailer park. I watched most of the series one weekend visiting Patrick and laughed my ass off. I just now finished the rest of the series since it’s all on Netflix.

Read:

This fem-tastic article about the heartbreak of a 10-year-old girl thinking she’s fat.

Also, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. I picked it up to reread today and it tugged (as it always does) at my animal-loving heartstrings. If you’ve ever loved a dog with all your heart you must read this very, very short book. If you’ve never loved a dog with all your heart then that’s a real bummer.

Eat:

Another warm weekend calls for very little cooking and this SkinnyTaste.com recipe for Asian Ginger Carrot Dressing would make for an easy, cool salad.

Listen:

De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. It’s impossible to listen to this CD and not enjoy yourself while you’re listening. I have a particular weakness for Eye Know and Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin’s Revenge).

Lust:

I’ve jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon and fallen in love with this turquoise necklace from J Crew. Fun for summer, plus you can tell your friends you’re so on trend.