Why My iPod Is Better Than Your Cloud

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I saw the movie, Baby Driver, this week and it was fantastic. Not only do I love a good car chase and quirky characters, but one of the central components of the film was the iPod Classic, (multiple generations, too!).  You read that correctly – the iPod Classic. Not the iPod Touch or the invisible Cloud, but the golden device that started it all, the iPod Classic. It took everything I had not to cheer right there in the theater, (especially when I saw Baby had both generations of iPods that I currently own and use) because I firmly believe the iPod Classic is still the best device out there for multi-media files.

Over the last year, I’ve noticed iPods have gained some popularity among the smartphone generation. My 9th and 10th grade students stare in awe, not disdain, at my 6th Generation 160GB iPod Classic. That awe only grows when I explain how it works (they truly have never seen anything like it) and why it rocks:

⇒ It doesn’t absolutely require the internet. Songs can be uploaded straight from DVD or MP4 media files. Listening to songs or watching videos requires no internet, either, which means it’s good on planes, road trips, dead zones, or anywhere else.

⇒ I don’t have to pick what to download, I can have it all  with 160G of pure space. It’s basically a portable hard drive that works waaaay more efficiently thanks to a simple filing system of music playlists and file categories for TV Shows, Movies, and Audiobooks. After 9 years, I still have 50G remaining!

⇒ I don’t have to worry about data usage because I’m not using the internet while I watch movies or listen to music.

⇒ Battery life rivals any smartphone. Although, I will admit this applies mostly to music and audiobooks. Videos can kill battery life much faster.

⇒ It does music and video and audiobooks with a simple flick of the click wheel. I know smartphones and iPads do this, too, but you likely need the internet or have a limited number of choices based on what is downloaded. My iPod is a complete entertainment system with everything I love, not just a small selection.

⇒ I can plug my iPod into any speaker, TV, or projection system if I want to enjoy media files without my earbuds. This is why my students have seen my iPod – I plug it into a speaker in my classroom all the time. They like my Disney and 90s Retro playlists while they work. And, again, I can do it without the internet!

⇒ iPods are incredibly reliable if you take good care of them. Mine is 9 years old and it still works perfectly. I have a 13 year old 4th Generation Classic that still works beautifully as well.

Now, I know the iPod Classic is grossly archaic to some people and that’s okay. It’s not that I hate the Cloud (I do use it for a number of things), I just prefer not to be totally reliant on it. Maybe I’m just tragically nostalgic, but for me I’ll be using my iPod until the day it dies. And then I’ll probably hunt one down on eBay.

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c.b.w. 2017

A Music Flood

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First, I’d like to apologize to my followers on Twitter. I fan-girled a bit too hard last weekend, so everything on my feed probably made no sense unless you watch Shadowhunters. Things should normalize now that the winter finale has aired! However, I did realize Twitter is a lot more fun than I remember. I may have to play there a bit more as I piece together my haiku chapbook.

I digress. While in the process of fangirling, I’m continuing to discover new music as I branch out from the artists that revitalized my iPod a few weeks ago (see Music Drought Averted). It’s amazing what new music can do for the muse. I’m feeling a fresh wave of creativity, despite complete exhaustion caused by the day job.

Here are a few of my newfound favorites:

Artist: Kina Grannis

One song and I was hooked! I found this artist through one of the actors on Shadowhunters, (see, fangirling can be productive). She does a lot of acoustic covers of popular songs, but she also releases original music. Her voice is angelic and I love her sound.

This is the song that got me:

I visited her youtube channel and found she truly is a gem. I downloaded her album, Elements, but you can stream the entire thing through youtube – Just click on her name: Kina Grannis. Give it a listen – you won’t be sorry! I highly recommend exploring her channel as it is packed with some amazing music.

Artist: Talos

  • In Time

This song is as beautiful as it is haunting. Be forewarned, it digs right into the soul. There is a NSFW word in the lyrics, so you know … earbuds.

Artist: LEISURE

  • Got It Bad

I just love the funk factor of this song. My foot just starts tapping and I wish I had enough cool in me to sing along.

Artist: Sundara Karma

  • Indigo Puff

There are two versions of this song floating around. The original has a bit more funk, which I love, while the LAYLA remix is a little more pop infused. I love both for different reasons, but the lyrics are what pull me in the most.

Original Version:

LAYLA Remix:

Artist: Tiny Deaths

  • Ever

This song has such a nice vibe. It’s a little more pop than I usually go for, but it makes me smile every time I hear it.

The more I go exploring, the more I seem to find! I may have started with the threat of a music drought, but now it’s more a of a flood. I love how one artist leads to another if you’re willing to follow the trail and have an open mind. 🙂

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c.b.w. 2017

Favorite Thing Friday: New Music on My Old iPod

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Somehow I got bored with music. Never mind that I have two iPods (don’t laugh) loaded with almost 4,000 songs. For months, I haven’t been able to get into any sort of music aside from a few tracks I added to The Muse’s sequel playlist.

Every once in a while I get in this funk and it’s hard to get out unless I find the time to do some major shopping or sit down to listen to samples or freebie streams. Winter Break gave me a chance to do that and I ended up finding some great new music to add to my Classic iPods (more on these dinosaurs later).

On the pop and rock end of things, these are some of my new favorites:

Ed Sheeran – X

Ed Sheeran – +

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1

The Script – No Sound Without Silence

One Republic – Native

So far, I’m digging every one of these albums, especially Ed Sheeran. I knew I liked him based on what I’ve heard on the radio, but I had no idea his albums were so good. There’s a song for every mood, yet they all string together beautifully. In particular, X explores a number of different styles without losing the common thread that connects every song.

Guardians of the Galaxy was hands down my favorite movie of 2014 (aside from Grand Budapest Hotel), so I was thrilled to get my hands on Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Part of what made that movie so great was how vintage music was integrated into the storyline and soundtrack. Even though I already had a couple of the songs in my collection, it was worth picking up this CD for the rest.

While loading my new music onto my old iPod, I poked around the iTunes Store and found even more goodies to add to my playlists.

For my BritFolk playlist, I found new-to-me music from one of my all time favorite artists, Johnny Flynn. A couple of years ago he composed the soundtrack for the indie movie, A Bag of Hammers. It wasn’t available for download until now! As expected it is all kinds of awesome.

For The Muse’s sequel playlist, I had jotted down the name of a song I heard on the radio and it dawned on me that I should look for it on iTunes. I found it and ended up liking the entire album. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness offers an interesting mix of modern pop with a throwback feel of the 80s. The song, Cecilia and the Satellite is helping me dig deeper into my main character as I set up his storyline.

While all of this new music is fun, I’m also reminiscing with my iPods. When Apple stopped selling the Classic iPod I think I had a small stroke. I’m not a fan of streaming or cloud storage when it comes to music, because I’m not always plugged into the internet. I like my music downloaded and accessible without being tethered to an internet or 4G connection.

Just the other day I pulled out my 5th Generation 2006 Classic iPod. I took it to work and my students snickered at it’s brick-like appearance until I showed them it’s 80GB storage capacity. Those snickers quickly turned to gasps of awe. Then, I showed them my 6th Generation 2008 Classic iPod. I thought their heads were going to explode when they saw it had 160 GB of storage space. Yeah, the screens are small and there’s no touch screen, but for me nothing beats having enough space to keep my stuff!

My new music plays beautifully on my antiquated iPods. The fact that they both still work perfectly after 9 and 7 years respectively, is pretty remarkable given the average life-span of electronics these days. All I can do is hope that Apple launches a new generation of something that is Classic iPod-esque.

Until then, I’ll be jamming to my new favorite music on both of my Classic iPods!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2015

Playlist For A Sequel

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As I wait to hear back on the query letters I’ve sent out for my novel, I’ve been keeping busy with another little project.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve been filling up another Novel Notebook with research, brainstorm blocks, image collages, sketches, research notes, and a playlist  for the sequel to Novel #2.

At the core of my writing process is music. The playlist for Novel #2 proved to be an immensely powerful tool in helping me shape characters and mood. Overall, 94 songs served as the soundtrack for the “movie” playing in my head from start to finish. As I embark on writing the sequel, I intend on using this tool once again to create a stronger emotional sense of my characters as they undertake new journeys and to aid me in creating an atmosphere that is a bit different from Novel #2.

Novel #2 is all about falling in love and fighting for what matters most in life. There is struggle, but also strength and determination. Therefore, the music on my playlist was often ethereal to reflect the nature of Ian’s identity, but also to emulate the euphoria of falling in love. In addition, songs with a strong beat and empowering lyrics dominated the latter portion of the novel to represent a fierce conflict that rages both internally and externally for my characters. Aside from storyline songs, the playlist also included music for individual characters. In particular The Beatles, Junip, and Death Cab for Cutie represented my main character, Amanda.

The sequel follows a different plotline in that it’s a step beyond the “origin” story for Amanda and Ian. They now find themselves in a new struggle that is defined by several factors:

  • Falling in love is great, but it’s not always easy
  • Confronting past “demons”
  • Once you have what you’ve always wanted, it isn’t what you imagined
  • Issues of identity

A new journey means new music, but there still has to be ties to the familiar in order to maintain continuity.  The mood is a little darker, but it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. As for my characters, they are experiencing growing pains, but they retain their core personalities. To make a playlist to accommodate these issues, I started by selecting songs on the old playlist that I consider to be overall theme songs. These are songs that will work for the entire series as they reflect Amanda and Ian’s bond and the big picture journey they are traveling.

For example, Firefly by Delerium is the ultimate song that inspires Amanda and Ian’s journey as a whole:

At the same time, I am selecting songs that are unique to the plot and character development of the sequel. To achieve continuity, I’m looking to the same bands for new music that has a familiar feel. Delerium was the central component of Novel #2’s playlist so I combed through all of their albums and found a perfect new mix. Additionally, the band Junip has since come out with a new album, which is great news for Amanda!

Here’s a selection of what I’ve got so far . . .

Delerium – Semantic Spaces

  • Flowers Become Screens
  • Metaphor
  • Resurrection
  • Incantation
  • Consensual Worlds
  • Metamorphasis
  • Flatlands

Delerium – Single Tracks

Junip – self titled

Tempted (Conjure One Mix) – Collide

The Beginning – Joey Fehrenbach

Kaleidescope of Memories – Simmonds and Jones

The Cedar Room – The Doves

Russia – Magna Carta

First Snow – Emancipator

The Daydream – Tycho

Once I get this playlist loaded on my iPod, my muse will have the juice it needs to start writing the first draft!

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For more posts on creating the perfect music mix, see The Daily Prompt: Mix Tape Masterpiece

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c.b.w. 2013

The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again!

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As an Autograph Ninja, it’s important to have a pen and something to sign on my person at all times, (see The Autograph Ninja).  So, when I went to see two of my favorite singer/songwriters in concert last week, I took extra care to pack a good marker and a special item to sign.

Marcus Foster has an incredibly soulful voice that soars with his blues infused brand of folk. When I went to London last summer I was hoping to catch him live, but instead had to settle for an EP album that isn’t available in the States.  Imagine my excitement when I found out he was going on a U.S. tour that included a stop in Arizona!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Foster’s opening act turned out to be an artist I’ve had on my iPod for the last year, (and just love!).  Sam Bradley croons with a crystal clear voice, giving his lyrics incredible emotional depth. I only have a few of his songs, but I’m looking forward to many more.

Both Bradley and Foster put an a great show!  Sometimes the best concerts are those where its just a guy and his guitar.  The voice takes center stage and reaches right into the soul.

Sam Bradley (c.b.w. 2012)

Marcus Foster, (c.b.w. 2012)

One of the best things about a small venue is that the artists are often milling about before and after a show.  The Autograph Ninja takes full advantage of these situations by keeping watch on the bar.  I spotted Marcus Foster before his set and managed to get a little one on one time with him.  Before heading backstage, he was kind enough to sign the CD I bought in London.

After the concert, both Marcus and Sam manned the merchandise table.   In between selling CDs and t-shirts, they signed autographs, posed for pictures, and gave hugs. I was one of the first in line to buy new music and get my CDs signed by both.  Marcus took my ninja marker, but I figured he needed it more than I did!  I got my picture with both and received a couple hugs as well.   These guys are so friendly, genuine, and gracious to their fans.  Before I walked away, both were adamant about saying, “thank you.”  I wish them so much luck for future success.

Top Left: Marcus Foster, Right: Sam Bradley, Poster: Marcus Foster

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If you’d like to hear why I love these guys so much click on each name above for direct links to their official sites. In addition, you can visit these links to listen to samples of their music on amazon.com.

Marcus Foster

Sam Bradely

For the record, Foster’s “The Room” and “Movement” are among my favorite of his songs.

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c.b. 2012