The Artist We’ll Always Know as Prince

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There have been two profound musical tragedies that have affected my life in some way: the death of Amy Winehouse and the death of Michael Jackson. I remember exactly where I was and who I was with on the day that each of them died. I remember the dates. I remember the feeling I had when I heard the horrible news.

Today, the world lost Prince.

Now, for me, this likely isn’t a pivotal moment in my life like the former had been. But I know that it is for many many… many many people. Why? Because Prince was just that good.

Today, I coached a soccer game and while I was there, my girls (who weren’t even born yet in 1999, for the record), mentioned that Prince had died and that they were sad about it. That’s profound. Some of these girls don’t even know who N’Sync or the Spice Girls are and they were alive for their hits!

Now, I’ve seen a lot of statuses today about “oh, great, now we have to listen to Prince music and listen to how great he was.” or “I don’t understand the obsession with Prince.” or “Since when are there so many Prince fans.”

Maybe I’m one of the people “those guys” are talking about but let me hit you with a few facts first:

  • Prince didn’t just write his own music, he wrote music for many other artists — some of which I didn’t even know until just now. Manic Monday, the classic favorite from the Bangels: It’s a Prince Song. ’03 Bonnie & Clyde (which was obviously my jam in ’03): Prince helped write on that. Nothing Compares 2 U, the (in my opinion) one-hit wonder from Sinead O’Conner: Also Prince.
  • He has seven Grammys and has been nominated over 30 times between 1984 and 2010.
  • He has an Academy Award for his original score for Purple Rain.
  • He had 19 top-ten singles.
  • Five of the 19 went all the way to #1.

I had a conversation with a colleague about it today, and I said that I didn’t necessarily think he was ‘groundbreaking,’ but I’m starting to see why he was. He made an impact. He bridged the gap between pop and R&B, with a little new-wave funky feel. He’s got a vocal range that’s out of this world. It doesn’t matter what song it is, if you hear a Prince song, you know it’s his. He’s Prince. Regardless of whether or not he was ‘groundbreaking’ so to speak, he absolutely was a legend. And it’s always tragic when we lose a musical legend.

Prince — wherever you are, I hope it’s a world of never ending happiness where you can always see the sun.

Music is My Boyfriend

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Anyone who knows me knows what an important part of my life music is. Aside from the occasional piano lessons, I don’t really have any musical talent, except an ear for good music and an appreciation for all music. I think anyone who has musical talent is incredible and should use it in any way they can.

Just to give you an idea of how big a role music is in my life, here are few fun facts:

  • My boyfriend and I originally connected over our mutual love for music, which…
  • Made us go on two consecutive trips to Bonnaroo (and trust me, if we can survive two years at ‘Roo, we can survive anything. Mostly the drive to and from, because while we were there… ‘peace and love, man).
  • Instead of a diary or a journal when I was younger, I used to doodle lyrics to the songs that fit most with my life at the time. I still have those “journals.”
  • I have Fleetwood Mac lyrics tattooed on my ribs.
  • I used to spend hours organizing my iTunes library so that no song or artist field was empty. I would do this for friends, too. Just ask my college roommate, Karen.

In all my life, music has been a healing power for me. No matter what I’ve been going through, whether it be family issues, break ups, graduations, celebrations of new (and past) life — music has been there for me. Music is my first boyfriend and my first great love.

So, I wanted to dedicate a post to my top favorite songs and artists, so that you and I can connect. Maybe it will give you insight to my life. Or maybe it will give you insight into who I am. At the very least, maybe it will give you a few new tunes to love. Please keep in mind that these artists and songs are just the songs and artists that I’ve got on my mind currently; no particular order.

Top 10 Artists:

  • Fleetwood Mac – Classic, influential, and paved the way for rock music.
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Different, unique, catchy, brilliant.
  • Amos Lee – Relatable, soulful, makes your heart full.
  • Passion Pit – These guys are oxymorons – they make amazingly catchy upbeat songs with intense, rather depressing lyrics that make you think about what you’re listening to.
  • The Civil Wars – Beautiful. These voices will change your perspective on how music should be listened to.
  • Mumford & Sons – If you can make me rock out with your banjo, I’ve got to give you props.
  • Amy Winehouse – One of the most amazing talents to ever walk the face of the earth.
  • Penguin Prison – Catchy as all get out.
  • Michael Jackson – King of pop. Enough said.
  • Nicki Minaj – People will probably disagree with me on this one, but I truly believe she’s one of the most powerful female emcee’s to make music. Listen to her non-ontheradio-tunes.
  • BONUS: 98 Degrees, my first loves.

Top 10 Songs:

  • Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac
  • Electric Feel – MGMT
  • Spirit Cold – Tall Heights
  • Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars
  • Black River – Amos Lee
  • Almost Lover – A Fine Frenzy
  • Tears Dry on Their Own – Amy Winehouse
  • P.Y.T – Michael Jackson
  • Hurt – Johnny Cash
  • Give Me a Try – The Wombats

If you would ever like to chat about why these songs are amazing, I can give you all my notes, but I’d love to hear your interpretation and why you may or may not like any of these artists or songs.

In the spirit of Coachella this weekend, and you know… Bonnaroo, where my heart belongs…

Peace and love, man.

Always

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So, thanks to Glee, I follow a bunch of random people on Twitter that I don’t really know who or why I do, but I’m glad I do because the other day I came across this brilliant quote. It’s beautiful. It’s a mantra. I want to share it. So I am.

 

I don’t have much to say about it. It’s pretty self-explanatory. But I’ll say a little bit anyway…

I’ve always wanted to write a book. Spoiler alert, that’s the dream in my pocket at the moment. Some sort of 365-day challenge type book challenging readers to do things like this. If we took the time each and every day to make an effort to be more positive, we could do incredible things. Dare I say, change the world?

Being positive is a hard thing to do. Truly, it is. And I know this because I know how easy it is to get caught up in “venting” or joining in the latest “gossip” or falling into talking about someone just because someone else is. It’s easy to be negative when so much of our world and our news is awful and terrifying.

When you fall into that trap, and trust me, I do it too… Stop. Find that song in your heart. Pull out the dream in your pocket. Listen to your heart. Know love. And understand that this life — whatever life you’re living — it’s worth it if you can just find the good in it each and every day.

And with that, I leave you with a song I heard today that I can’t stop thinking. It’s the song in my heart right now. Tomorrow’s will be different, and maybe I’ll share that one with you, too.

Peace and love, friends.

 

Happy Blogiversary, TMB

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If you know anything about me, it’s got to be that I started a Glee blog with my friend Whitney about 5 years ago. Seriously, that may be the only thing you know, but everyone knows it. Because it… was awesome.

We started TroutyMouth.com (no longer in existence) on March 22, 2011. Same day, we started it’s twitter feed: @TroutyMouthBlog (still in existence). So, from then on, we shortened it to TMB. It was dedicated to our love for the show, and it was never meant to be anything but a fun little side project where we wrote about anything and everything Glee related. It didn’t follow a format. The content wasn’t always consistent. We probably broke every rule about blogging, ever. But, we loved that little blog.

Soon after we joined this little fandom, we started getting a small following. Two months after we started the blog, I just so happened to give myself a little trip to Las Vegas as a graduation-from-college present to myself. Ironically, at the same time, Glee was having their Glee Live dress rehearsals at the same time. Me, being the obnoxious person that I am, hung out outside the Mandalay Bay’s theater for hours with my friend Becky trying to get tickets to the private dress rehearsal screening. By the grace of God, and some incredibly nice people, Becky and I got in. Free food, free drinks, pre-screening to the Glee Live concert. Oh, did I mention, I had just started blogging? If that wasn’t the most intense blogging I’ve ever done (well, at least until a year later). And people ate it up. We doubled in following that night. Becky and I had a blast, although Whitney was a little jealous, but we started to see a little something in what that blog could actually turn into.

That same year, Whit and I had tickets to the Glee Live concert in Chicago, too. I think it was in June because I had just graduated, and this was like my “last hoorah” before I started a real job.

We went up to Chicago for the weekend with like, 22 custom made t-shirts in hand so that we could give to the cast and crew. Continuing our obnoxious streak, we tweeted the shit out of the crew — mainly Telly (sorry Telly!) — so that we could get their t-shrits to them. And we did. And it was fun. And on tumblr, someone posted this picture of Chris Colfer with his TMB shirt back stage… even though we jacked up the line and it should have read “tickle me doe face.” Whatever. Close enough.

During that time, we got more followers, some that were even trying to get us back stage with them. We met some followers because we were camping out all over that place. It was awesome how connected we were to some of these people. I felt like a Trekkie… except a Gleeie. (I guess they call those Gleeks?)

Fast forward like 4 weeks later to the end of the Glee Live tour in the US, and they were having their last show in New York. After about 6 hours of texting back and forth and me really trying to convince Whitney that it was a good idea, we booked plane tickets to New York and flew out the next day for their last US show. Somehow we managed to wrangle up two of our other friends. We had all just started our careers, so we were like “Monies? Let’s just spend it all!”

We didn’t get a hotel, because we were like “we’re literally going to be there one night. No need.” So, since we didn’t have anywhere to stay, we flew into NY, took a car to the arena, and literally tailgated for the day. I just remember walking across the street to a deli, eating the best Philly Cheese Steak sandwich I’d ever had, walking to the gas station next door to buy beer, walking back to the parking lot, and just sitting there eating and drinking beer. I’m surprised we didn’t get in trouble by anyone. It was a beautiful day, thank God… otherwise, I don’t know what we would have done.

We went to the box office to buy tickets to the show and the front-office lady was like “Tickets? Sure, give me all your money, and I’ll put you way up high!” and so my friend Ashley and I were like “Hold up. You have NOTHING else? That price is ridiculous, my friend.” And she was like “oh look at that, these floor seats just opened up for the same price!” and we were like “SOLD!” So like $100/person later, we were sitting 13 rows from the stage dancing our asses off at the concert without a care in the world.

After the concert, we hopped into a cab to go into the city and hang out for a while. And by hang out for a while we meant for the entire night because we had no where to stay.

At about 3:30 am, we decide that we’re all tired, so we’ll go to the airport, sleep on the food court tables for a couple of hours before we hop on our 7:15 am flight out of there. And that’s what we did. And afterward, Whitney looked like this:

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When we got back, we were on such a Glee high, we never wanted it to end. So we were like “Let’s continue this obnoxious streak and see if anyone can get us in at Comic Con like.. next week.”

So we tweeted at like the whole cast, and because she’s the nicest person in the world, Jenna Ushkowitz emailed us and was like “I’ll do my best, but don’t hate me if I can’t get you there.” and we were like “Oh Em GLEE, whatever you can do, you’re the best because we only had half an expectation that this would actually work.”

Well, we didn’t hear back and we were basically like “who the F cares, that was incredible. Let’s just bask in this glory forever.”So, we didn’t really mention it again, and we didn’t go to Comic Con that year.

Fast forward to, oh about 11 months later, we get a message from Jenna. Turns out she could get us passes for the 2012 Comic Con year. UH… Is this real life?

Yeah, it was. We booked a trip to San Diego, went to a hotel to pick up the passes, and it turns out we got “press passes” into the Glee panel. We were like front row, sitting 4 seats down from Will Keck and like a row in front of Matthew Hodgson and I was just like “Who are we right now?” It did not feel real at all. Turns out THAT was the most intense tweeting I ever had to do. I was tweeting and Whitney was taking notes for a blog post recap later. I felt like real journalists. It was pretty f-ing cool.

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In this time, somehow we managed follows from Harry, Jenna, Matthew Hodgson, and Michael Hitchcock — all part of the Glee family. We felt like we were a direct extension. Almost a direct extension:)

Well, Glee wrapped up last year. But just before it did, I had one final Gleetastic opportunity when I went to LA. For some reason — maybe because he read our blog every now and then, or maybe because he thought our tweets were funny, or maybe just because he is so damn nice — Michael Hitchcock offered to have lunch with me while I was there.

So, the day I arrived, I went straight from the hotel to my lunch meeting. We talked about everything under the sun: Glee, other TV shows that we liked, what to do in LA, what to do in St. Louis, weather — naturally.

It was awesome. I was super nervous at first, but as the hour or so passed, the conversation grew easier, and I felt like I was talking with a friend.

Now that Glee is over, we don’t really do much with TMB. But it was fun while it lasted. And because it turned into something so special for us, it will live on forever… as Whitney says, “not only because it’s legendary, but also because we inked it on our bodies.” Seriously, though — we both have TMB tattoos.

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March 22, 2011 will always have a special day in my heart. Just so happens that March 20, 2015 was the season finale of Glee, so it’s ironic that it ended the same weekend that we started the blog four years prior to its finale. It seems like it all came full circle.

The people, friends, connections, and stories that I’ve gained from Glee will always leave a positive, lasting memory in my mind. And who knows, maybe because of the success of TMB, I’ll turn a blog into something real on another date. The door that it opened brings endless opportunity!

Happy birthday TMB. I’ll always love you.

Traveling: It’s Business AND Pleasure

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I’m fortunate enough to work at a small St. Louis based marketing agency where most of our clients are local; so I’m not traveling all the time. But my main client is based in North Carolina, so I do get the best of both worlds. I get to travel to North Carolina at least 3-4 times per year. The first couple of trips that I went on were in-and-out trips. I flew in late night, and then was out by the next day. A one-day in the office type of thing. The more I become integrated into the account, though, the longer my trips become.

So the last few times, I’ve had a night to hang out by myself and enjoy what the hotel has to offer. Let me tell you… Eating dinner and having a few drinks at the hotel bar is the highlight of each of these business trips that I’ve been on because I get to meet people that I’d never otherwise have the opportunity to meet and have some of the BEST conversations that I can possibly have.

So, I’m just going to summarize the last couple of trips & the conversations that I was able to have with the unlikeliest of company.

  • I had an excellent conversation with a southern gentleman who worked in commercial real estate. We had in-depth conversations about how humor had to be a part of every single relationship — whether it be personal or business. If humor couldn’t be a part of the relationship, then the relationship probably wouldn’t work. He did improv for a living. He said it helped him break the ice in sales because he knew how to cater to his audience. I learned from this man that every relationship is unique and different, and you’ll find things that connect you just by asking questions. He was awesome.
  • This time around, I met another gentleman who was originally born in England, but lived most of his life in Australia, and then moved to Texas for work. You can imagine what his accent sounded like. He overheard that I was from St. Louis, and he used to travel there. We had the best heart-to-heart over St. Louis, and why I feel proud to be from here. He said he could feel the pride, and he knew St. Louis to be a wonderful place. He said that any time St. Louis has been negatively shown in the news, he reminded all of his friends that “that’s not the St. Louis he knows and loves.” I wanted to hug him for spreading that message to people that weren’t familiar with St. Louis
  • Did you know that collecting arcade games can make you a lot of money? You can rent them out to bars, and they pay you a “rental fee.” If you have… oh, somewhere around 10 machines, you can make an extra $750-$1,000 per month in “supplemental income.” I only know that from talking to the bartender this last trip I went on. Yep, he collects arcade games as a hobby and said he’s looking to start his own business. He has 20 machines in his house. WHAT?! He said wall-to-wall, those machines are everywhere.
  • The other bartender that I met on one of these business trips happened to be a Rams fan. We bonded over that… at the time. (You know, since I’m not a Rams fan anymore). He said that he grew up in Carolina, but before the Panthers were in Carolina, Carolina didn’t have a team that he could cheer for. So, he happened to cheer for the Rams. And when the Rams moved in 1995, and the Panthers moved to NC, he said he still always rooted for the Rams unless of course, they were playing against the Panthers.

So, what does this mean? Not a whole lot to you I’m sure. But these little anecdotes are just a couple hours worth of conversations that meant something to ME. And in the hustle and bustle of a busy 48 hours of meetings and travel, it’s a nice way to restore a little faith in humanity.

I encourage everyone who gets the chance to travel, whether it’s for business or pleasure, to make a little time to converse with a stranger at the hotel bar or restaurant. It really helps you realize that there are other human beings in this world who are innately good; and that’s a message we sometimes lose sight of with the array of negative news we see every single day.

Home Sweet Home

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Oh homeownership. What a thing that is.

Sorry I’ve been so MIA lately, we’ve been in the middle of a move and now Eric and I have a house! Woo hoo!

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This was on closing day. The seller left us beer and champagne. And we’re so excited!

I thought I’d write a quick little som’ som’ to let you know what I have learned so far about our big move.

First of all, if you know anything about us, we have lived in St. Louis city for the last 3 years, first in Benton Park and then in Tower Grove. Welp, we just took the plunge to the ‘burbs! So here are a couple of quick differences from city life to suburban life, both good and bad:

  • Applebees, Red Robin, Chile’s versus King & I, Cafe Mochi and Black Thorn in the city.
  • Fireworks. Definitely fireworks, out here. No question.
  • Traffic noise? Not a problem. Tractor noise? Possibly.
  • Crickets! Where have you been?!
  • Night life? Not a ton of that. And Ubers out here will be expensive! (But so worth it!)
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It’s the little things that count, right Liz?

Secondly, moving sucks. And the older I get, the more difficult it is. Seriously, I just moved boxes, and some how my entire body ended up bruised. I have no idea how that happens, but I’m sore, and I’m bruised, and I’m still completely unpacked.

Lastly, I’ve always known it, but it’s times like these that I realize just how lucky we are to have the friends and family that we have. Legit, throughout the day, we had 13 different people in and out helping us in our move. We got our entire two bedroom moved and a lot of it unpacked in just about 4 hours. What a team we had. So a BIG shoutout and a HUGE thanks to Tim, Karen, Matt, Liz, Trevor, Dan, Josh, Tina, Maggie, Katelyn, Holly, Mom, & Dad… And Eric’s mom for coming earlier in the week to help unpack some of the kitchen. The BEST.

Now we’ve got to unpack, but at least, as Katelyn reminded me, we have 30 years to do that. Here’s to the next chapter!

Fuller House: An Honest Review from a 90s Girl

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Obviously, when I was growing up, Friday was my favorite day, and it wasn’t because I could go out that night… It was because TGIF was THE BEST! My parents would take us to the store and let us pick out dinner — usually TV dinners, pizza, or chicken strips but kids’ choice nonetheless — and we would set up trays in the living room and we’d get to have dinner in front of the TV while Dinosaurs, Step By Step, Boy Meets World, Family Matters and Full House would grace our screens. Oh, those were the days.

When I heard that Netflix picked up a Full House reboot, I was STOKED. Keep in mind, Boy Meets World was rebooted a couple of years ago, but the expectation wasn’t near the heights of Fuller House. Why? Because it was on Disney Channel. Not that Disney Channel is a bad place to be — it’s great; but the audience isn’t the same people that grew up watching the show. Fuller House on Netflix, though… That caters to the people that grew up watching the original show. So, the expectation bar was set high, I guess.

Obviously, I binged the entire season in one night. I started at like 6:30 pm after work on Friday, and I was done by about 1:30 am that night. My honest opinion: It’s lame as hell. BUT THAT’S WHAT I EXPECTED.

I think that Fuller House is simply perfect. Guys, it’s a reboot of a show that was built upon family values, doing the right thing, learning your lesson and hugging it out, of course all the while telling a lame joke and saying silly catchphrase. When you’re rebooting a show on the same premise, how do you think that it’s not going to have all of those things.

It’s nostalgia in thirteen 30-minute episodes. It brings us back to find out exactly what our favorite family is doing some 20-to-30 years later. Then tells us those lame jokes, says those silly catch phrases, and explains family values that we loved and cherished about the original. It’s wholesome fun for the whole family. Except with more adult-like jokes that resonate with the 90s crowd.

How perfect. It’s something that the kids who watched the original can watch with their kids who don’t understand those jokes that I laughed entirely too hard at… like when Stephanie asks “Why the goofy grins? You didn’t find my brownies did you?” or when she tells the eldest son that being up all night, working on erupting his volcano (science project) was “TMI.”

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It has dance scenes, singing, new catch phrases (“Holy Chalupas!”) and old ones (“Oh my lanta!”). And perhaps the best part of it all are the flashback scenes to the original — particularly in the opening credits.

I don’t know what your expectations were, but I wanted Fuller House to basically pick Full House back up just 20 years later, except with more references to sex, drugs and alcohol. And that’s exactly what they did.

Last note: quit talking about the shade to the Olsen Twins. I loved it. It’s clear that they’re missing out, and a 30-second staredown at the camera when referencing that Michelle isn’t there because she’s running her fashion empire and lines like “with these prices, no wonder Mary-Kate and Ashley don’t have to act anymore!” are only meant to tell Mary-Kate and Ashley just that: YOU’RE MISSING OUT, GIRLS! Come back! Everyone misses you. Although, it’s clear that they’re doing just fine without them.

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Thank you Netflix, Jeff Franklin, John Stamos, and the whole Fuller House gang for bringing us back to that $3 million house in the heart of San Francisco for just over 6 hours. I hope and pray that we have a few more 6 hour-seasons with (in the words of Steve Hale) the Tanners, Fullers, Gibblers, Gladstone, Rippers, Katsopoli… Because I’m obsessed. And totally team Matt.

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Now 90’s kids — throw out any expectation that you had of this show being new & different, and just embrace it for the Full House perfection that it is.