When I was 11 years old, I used to stay up each night in the summer until 10:53 to watch the 6-minute long SportsWrap segment on KTVU Channel 2. I stayed up because I wanted to know what happened in the world of sports, and there was no other way to find out that night other than watching it on TV. There was no internet. We did not have ESPN or any other cable channels for that matter. And most A’s games were not on local TV. So I waited semi-patiently through the first 53 minutes of local news (again, no cable), flipping over every so often to UHF channels trying to catch a random episode of Jerry Springer or Baywatch or something else with girls in bikinis (I was 11). Just so I could get sports scores that night from the only source I could figure: the KTVU newsdesk. Featuring Mark Ibanez. Larry Beil. Fred Ingles. All the greats.
The real thrill came on Sunday or Saturday night: a 2-segment sportswrap that started at 10:45. Or maybe a weekday segment that went past the top of the hour to about 11:03. An extra 3 minutes of sports highlights? With a punchbowl full of Lucky Charms (a story for another day)? I’m livin’ the life! says 11-year-old me. Of course, the other option was calling a friend who may have watched the game. Hanni, Larry, my brother Eddie. Maybe Anthony. I liked finding out before 10:53 sometimes. But I would stay up anyway to get a feel for the win or loss.
Now, when I want to know if the A’s won, I can open my phone and find out in about 15 seconds. I use ESPN.com to find the exact score and a game recap. It’s easier but a little less thrilling. And it’s not a taste, either: it’s a buffet of information. The greatest thing about baseball is the amount of information recorded. It’s also the most pointless thing to consume if you don’t need to.
Recently, I’ve been trying to recapture a little bit of that thrill of not knowing everything. No, I won’t wait until 10:53 to find out what happened, but I’ll flip open twitter on my phone and start with the most recent updates. I’ll scroll down and inevitably get to a tweet by a A’s beat writer referring to something that happened in the game. It doesn’t always include the score, and I like that. For example:
This post doesn’t tell me exactly what happened, but I can glean that the A’s lost (again). After that, I won’t read anything more about the A’s until later that night or the next morning. It’s kind of like calling my buddy before 10:53 to find out what happened in the game; it’s just a little taste of the action–no score–and that’s all I should need until the kids are in bed and I have some time by myself. Makes me feel like a kid again, just a little bit, and I think that’s something we’re all trying to capture from time to time. I like the idea of not immediately knowing everything I want to know, or could possibly know, especially for something of low consequence. It’s a mental exercise for my patience muscle.
Checking scores on ESPN.com is not a bad thing by any means, especially when you’re trying to closely follow a game that’s currently on. But if I’m just checking scores after the fact in a 162-game season, I can stand to wait a few hours or even overnight. Sometimes I just want a taste.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt, I was invited to speak live and in-studio at NBC 11 Bay Area about interagency emergency response coordination, a topic I have examined in my research. Specifically, I was asked questions about how SWAT teams, bomb squads, and other special forces coordinate their efforts and communicate with other municipalities in an operation on the scale of the manhunt in Boston.
And here’s a shorter clip from the previous night:
Thanks to Marika Krause for setting this up, and to Cheryl Hurd and Sam Brock as well.
Thank you to everyone who filled in this year’s survey. I always enjoy getting new recommendations, and I look forward to listening to each and every song listed by you. Here are my favorite songs and albums of the year.
In previous years, I listed songs in order of how many times they were mentioned. However, I decided that it makes more sense to give weight to where you placed a certain song, since your favorite song of the year is probably worth more to you than your fifth favorite. However, I didn’t want to weight first selections so much that they became the only songs that counted. So, in a totally arbitrary manner, I have weighted first selections twice as much as fifth selections, using an 8-7-6-5-4 scoring system. Does that make sense? As my friend Stacy told me last night, as I was compiling our Fountain Circle album (see the end of this post): “These are all arbitrary, self-imposed rules, Andrew!”, which I think is going on my tombstone.
So here’s the list of all songs chosen, embedded in a spreadsheet:
If you couldn’t see the embedded spreadsheet, the top songs this year are:
- “Some Nights” by Fun
- “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons
- “Lights” by Ellie Goulding
- “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers
- “Skyfall” by Adele
- “Home” by Phillip Phillips
- “We Are Young” by Fun
- “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele
“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen is close by, but come on now, people. I didn’t love the song, but I didn’t hate it, either, and I’m pretty sure if I did this survey in August, “Call Me Maybe” would have had 600 out of 45 1st place votes. Also, if you were wondering, Gangham Style by PSY was the top “Guily Pleasure” song choice, with 4 votes.
Thank you for sending in you responses. Again, I look forward to listening to every song you sent in. If you’re interested in other results from the survey, let me know.
I originally started this music survey as a way to make a compilation of my college roommate’s favorite songs. A refresher from last year:
The FC12 Music Project started when I wanted to gather favorite songs from my college roommates and their families and turn it into a CD. We lived in the 12th unit of a somewhat dingy apartment complex called Fountain Circle, hence the name of the project (FC12). So the final track listing mainly represents songs chosen by them but with some input from friends. Here’s the priority list:
- Number #1 song chosen by Fountain Circlers - 10 songs this year
- Any duplicates on top 5 lists of Fountain Circlers (meaning a song was on 2 lists) - this added 1 more song, as most of the duplicates were already #1′s
- 1 of the 3 most mentioned songs from all Friends - this didn’t add any songs, as they were all already chosen
- If only one song from a Fountain Circler’s list has been chosen–and they listed 5 songs–an additional song is chosen from #2 through #5 – this added 6 more songs
1 of the 3 most mentioned songs Overall (Friends + Students)
- Editor’s Choice (a song chosen at my discretion) - 1 more song
- Others at my discretion, based on fit, sound, smell. – 1 mashup of a bunch of popular songs
And something I forgot last year, which should be slotted in at #2: marriages and kids get automatic songs. For example, Dan and Nadia chose “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz a few years ago in the year they married. This year, Heather and I are choosing a song for our son.
Each year, the album takes on a theme about halfway through the process. Last year, it was Top 40. This year, it’s folk, but maybe I pushed it that way because of my personal preferences. Who cares. Here’s the track listing, along with some videos for you to enjoy. And yes, it’s worth listening to the pre-song ads to hear these songs.
1. John Mayer – Queen of California (Andrew #1/Heather #5)
Here’s an awesome acoustic version. Enjoy.
2. Brandi Carlile – Hard Way Home (Stacy #1/Heather #2/Andrew #2)
Here is a live version from the cabin in which the album was recorded.
3. Fun. – Some Nights (People’s Choice #1/Brian #1/Brett #2/Dan #4)
Here’s the official video. The song is in here somewhere.
4. Passion Pit – Take a Walk (Brett #5)
Good choice, Brett! No more EuroPop! Alright, Brett!
5. Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know (Dan #5)
357 million views!!!???? For this video!!??? I like the song, but come on now.
6. Frank Ocean – Thinkin Bout You (Norris Family #3)
7. Ellie Goulding – Lights (Heather #1/People’s Choice #3)
Good workout song! Here comes Pop Row, songs 7 through 13.
8. David Guetta & Sia – Titanium (Brett #1)
Oh okay, I spoke too soon, Brett. It’s okay, I still enjoy your choices.
9. Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Nadia #1)
This should be everyone’s guilty pleasure song for the next ten years. I love this video. No regrets. Live hard.
10. Tanlines – All of Me (Norris Family #1)
11. M83 – Midnight City (Blake #1/Brian #4/Stacy #5)
I’m in favor of any song with a saxophone solo.
12. Apples – Theo (Heather and Andrew’s Baby Choice)
Chosen for obvious reasons, as we have named our son Apples.
13. Pop Danthology 2012 by Daniel Kim
I included this because it’s pop music on steroids, and it kind of sums up a whole genre in 7 minutes.
14. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait (People’s Choice #2/Dan #2/Diana #4/Blake #5)
We’re now entering the stretch run of mostly folksy songs.
15. The Lumineers – Ho Hey (Diana #1/Brian #2/People’s Choice #4)
16. Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (Stacy #4)
17. Zac Brown Band – Day That I Die, featuring Amos Lee (Dan #1)
18. Brandi Carlile – That Wasn’t Me (Andrew #4)
19. Michael Kiwanuka – I’m Getting Ready (Editor’s Choice)
20. Phillip Phillips – Home (Heather #4)
If Heather didn’t choose this one, it would have been my Editor’s Choice, as I try to choose a song with a good message to end on. Thanks, Heather!
Let me know if you want a copy of this album. Have a Merry Christmas, and see you all in the New Year!
NOTE: On Friday, I’ll release the results of the 2012 Music Survey. Today, here are my favorites of the year.
This has been an eventful year for me and my family. In retrospect, it seems like we experienced 4 big events: I got a job in California, we had a baby, I defended my dissertation, and we moved back to the Bay Area. But, more accurately, those were 4 processes we experienced over months, and in the case of completing a PhD, finding a great job in academia, and moving back to the Bay, they were processes that we experienced mentally over years. Yes, the processes culminated with a bang* (a defense meeting, an offer letter, a drive across the country), but they were still processes.
No doubt, you have experienced something in your life that was the punctuation mark at the end of a long process: a marriage, a graduation, a championship, making a brisket in a smoker. And if you’re like me, you sometimes look back at the process and say: that’s where the substance was. The big moment at the end is often made public, but the process can be lonely at times, or at least, it offers time for introspection,
Listening to music is a process; it doesn’t happen at a moment in time, and this is especially true when we approach it retrospectively. For example, if I ask you what music you listen to while you study, it’s likely that you will pull up an amalgamation of memories, not one specific instance when you listened to one specific song. And if it does happen, you brain might actually be fooling you into thinking that it pulled up a specific memory, when it hasn’t.
It’s rare for me that I remember a song at a certain moment in time, but rather I associate music with past processes. I think this is common for most people. There’s no need for me to explain which songs and albums remind me of everything I did this year; that’s boring and personal and I don’t think anyone cares. One thing I will talk about, though, is the music that was instrumental (get it?) in completing my dissertation, as that might have some value to others.
I completed my dissertation in 50 minute chunks, aided by certain albums that I now consider the biggest bargains in iTunes history (both released in late 2011). Above all, the Moneyball Soundtrack by Mychael Danna, clocking in at over 60 full listens, if my computer’s play count is to be believed. Everyone works to soundtracks, right? That’s what I’m guessing. Other soundtracks I enjoyed while working, but which aren’t from the last 18 months: The Social Network, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Simpsons Movie, and the soundtrack to the old video game, Medal of Honor. The rule here is there are no rules: if you can get good work done while listening to it, then listen to it.
My other favorite study album of 2012, which I thought I was done with late last year, but apparently I wasn’t: Bon Iver’s self-titled album is designed, I think, to make humans think about snow or cabins or apple cider or wool sweaters or other peaceful things, making it good for getting work done. And oddly enough, while I listen to hip hop almost exclusively while running, this was my favorite album to run to as well, especially during the cold mornings around Town Lake in Austin last winter. Thanks, Justin Vernon, for making something that worked in two very important spaces for me. Other albums I
Now, onto my favorite albums. Each of my three overall favorite albums of the year sounds like it was recorded in a cabin, or it actually was. My top album is Brandi Carlile’s Bear Creek, which I would describe as polished, packaged American folk rock, and I mean those modifiers as compliments, not insults. It’s a well-made album with both sheen and soul, which I think are hard to get in the same package. It was recorded in a cabin, coincidentally named Bear Creek; how about that? Also, it doesn’t hurt that my daughter loves this album.
My second album of the year is John Mayer’s Born and Raised. I’m partial to John Mayer, so I saw this one coming, but not in the way that I would have imagined. This is a folk pop album, which was somewhat unexpected to me, after a turn in the blues arena followed by a nondescript radio-friendly effort in 2009. The whole moving-to-Montana-after-saying-lots-of-silly-things-in-the-media thing worked, in my opinion. This disc is mature yet approachable, and after reading about the influences of the album, I went and listened to some American classics that I had never experienced much of before: Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, and CSN&Y, for example. So I have a new album that I enjoy very much, and I discovered some old classics.
And my third favorite album is Bon Iver. Again, recorded in a cabin.
These three albums are examples of the kind of music I would have described using terms such as boring, pointless, slow, simplistic, or old-people music just a few years back. I don’t know if I have matured or softened, or if I should say something like “I’m getting old,” which sounds really stupid at my age, but my tastes have broadened and I’m happier for it.
So there’s a heavy folk tint to my top 30 songs of the year, and here they are, in some sort of weird order! Thanks, musicians, for making something for the process.
NOTE: You can listen to most of these songs using the embedded Spotify playlist at the top of this post.
Queen of California (1), by John Mayer, and Hard Way Home (2), by Brandi Carlile. Two folk songs about home that also sound right when you’re moving your stuff across the Southwest (which I did this summer, twice). I love the pedal steel and love songs that sound like trains. Is that stupid? I don’t care. Also, speaking of home, Home (9) by Phillip Phillips, and San Francisco (30), by The Mowglis.
My two powersongs this year both use a list of famous Michaels to make a point. That’s weird, right?
Sunrise (3) by Childish Gambino
My s*** be Jackson, Jordan, Bolton, Keaton, Tyson: 5 Mikes (5 mics is a perfect score on an album from The Source Mag)
N***** in Paris (21) by Kanye West and JAY Z
Pyscho, I’m liable to go Michael, take your pick:
Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6
So, as you may have guessed, these are the two songs on this list that have the red EXPLICIT label next to them. Also, one of those words is so offensive that it’s not even blanked out on some Top Songs lists, it’s just completely removed; like, the song is just called “Paris” on Billboard. Does anyone else feel like a major poser when they listen to hip hop? Anyone else? Just me? Okay I’ll keep my headphones in. If you want a clean version, check out Niners in Paris. It’s awesome.
I’M GETTING OLD, PART 2
Including my number one choice listed above, I have noticed that many of my top choices are about maturation and atonement and a willingness to say that I can be better. That Wasn’t Me (4) by Brandi Carlile, Born and Raised (5) by John Mayer, and I’m Getting Ready (7) by Michael Kiwanuka. Also, a song that I didn’t care for when I first heard it, Shadow Days (15) by John Mayer. But I like it now. I don’t feel like explaining why, which is kind of silly in a post as long as this one. It’s my guilty pleasure song of 2012, and you don’t have to explain why you like guilty pleasure songs, even when you think you shouldn’t. Also, The Wind (23) by The Fray.
Songs about making sure your life has meaning. Which is a good thing. 100 (8) by Brandi Carlile, and then a host of songs by Brandon Heath:
Wait and See – Acoustic (13) (a new version of his song from 2009)
The Harvester (28)
And then, the appropriately titled It’s a Process (10) by Mychael Danna from the Moneyball soundtrack. Can you have a powersong in the middle of a study album? That’s what this was. 80 words per minute!
Well, I’m gonna breeze through the latter half. Here we go:
CONSIDER LISTENING TO THESE SONGS IF:
- Thinkin Bout You (19) by Frank Ocean if you like R&B and falsetto.
- Take a Walk (11) by Passion Pit if you like a good beat.
- Some Nights (17) by Fun if you like music. Seriously, this is a fun song.
- Nothing is the News (25) by Damien Jurado if you like a little blues guitar in your 1970s-cokelines-sounding songs.
- In Your Light (16) and Save Me (18) by Gotye if you like hand claps and nonsense harmonies, which I do!
- Sovereign Light Café (24) by Keane if you like old Keane, because this sounds like old Keane.
- Apartment (14) by Young the Giant if you are wondering where the alternative rock is on this list. This is as close as it’s going to get.
- If I Ever Get Around to Living (12) by John Mayer if you like when songs switch up their sound in the middle, or whatever that’s called in official music terms. You have to be patient with this song. Is anyone still reading this?
- State of Grace (22) by Taylor Swift if you like U2′s guitar delay thing
- Everything Has Changed (29) by Taylor Swift if you like duets, which I usually don’t, as they usually have too much Peabo Bryson.
- The Future (27) by Teen Daze if you like house/electronic. Not a very creative description. Sorry.
- Sleepless (26) by Flume if you like house/electronic that will give you a weird headache. No seriously, it gives me a headache, but I like it. Kind of like ice cream.
- Michicant (6) by Bon Iver. One of my favorite songs of the year and I have no idea what he is singing about. Let me look it up…okay, I looked up the lyrics and I’m confused and I think I’ll go back to just enjoying the song.
*or in the case of a birth, started with a bang heyooooooo!