Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anny the 15th Mix Tape!

This year's mix-tape (CD) to Amber for our 15th wedding anniversary has a theme.  One of Amber's favorite genres of music is from the 80's.  She really digs synth-pop acts like Erasure, Depeche Mode, or stuff you'd find off of the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack.  I like to think it's a Preston, Idaho thing.  And that's cool.  I like a lot of that stuff too.  Its just seems that those Prestonians really know their obscure 80's synth-pop. My knowledge isn't as vast.  Amber has long given up the frizzy hair and poofy sleeves, but the good taste in music remains.  Here is the list:

1.  Private Idaho by the B-52's:  We're both Idaho natives.  There you go.

2.  A Little Respect by Erasure:  Amber likes this group.  I think the guy sings funny.

3.  She Drives by Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals:  No, she doesn't really drive me crazy.  She'll say she does.  Perplexed at times, yes.  Crazy, no.

4.  One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head:  Never been there, but we love Thai food.  I'm sure this song isn't about food, but chess or drag queens.  I don't know.  Good to see a guy named Murray with a hit.

5.  Can't Stand Losing You by The Police:  I wasn't gonna put "Roxanne" or "Every Breath You Take" on here, so this is my best choice.  Maybe I should have put on "King of Pain".  No, Amber would have read to much into that.

6.  Never Tear Us Apart by INXS:  Ah, a love song.  So sweet.

7.  What is Love? by Howard Jones: Classic 80's synth-pop with synth-hair.  Amber is a big fan. 

8.  Halo by Depeche Mode:  The first conversation I ever had with Amber was about Depeche Mode. Technically this song came out in 1990, but we know Depeche Mode as an 80's group.  I believe the  "Violator" album is responsible for a quarter of all births between 1990 and 1992.

9.  If You Were Here by The Thompson Twins:  Oh, how I love this song.  Can you name the film it stared in?  I'm sure many of us that grew up in that era has some memory linked to this song.

10.  I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder:  Fact #1:  I did once call Amber's phone when we were dating and sang this song on her answering machine.  Fact #2: She still has the recording.  Fact #3: You will never hear it.

Stay tuned to for next year's mix!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Scary Larry's Top 5 Albums of 2013

Rolling Stone or Spin magazines have nothing on me.  We all love lists.  Here is a list:

 #5 Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

The reason this album by two "robots" is so good is it's humanity.  Most credit Daft Punk's success with this album to their collaboration with Pharrell Williams.  Wrong.   Their collaboration with Nile Rodgers is what gives this album a heart beat and a soul and a trip to the top of the pop charts.  Nile is a one man goldmine of hits.  He has worked with some of the most successful names in the world of music from Diana Ross to David Bowie.  His signature disco guitar welded with DP's beats on several tracks allowed DP to come back making a huge statement showing that they're the top of the food chain in electronic music.

#4 Delta Machine by Depeche Mode

Speaking of electronic, Depeche Mode also release what could be considered a come back album this year.  A lot of alternative music at this time can trace their roots to DM.  Sultry rhythms mixed with haunting vocals and a Gretsch guitar.  This album would have been the perfect follow up to their masterpiece, Violator.  "Sooth My Soul" and "Heaven" both stand out.  This album reaches out to their delta blues influences interweaving blues guitar and religious themes over a drum machine.  So classic Depeche Mode.  Simply lovely.

#3 Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara went for broke with their album, Heartthrob.  They officially said adieu to their coffee shop roots and set up shop in the land of popular music.  This non-pop duo out-popped popular music with the best pop album of the year.  Even the mighty Taylor Swift is counted as one of their biggest fans.  Their songs often speak of break-ups, make-ups, and hey lets get a little "Closer" (he he).   This is the type of album you'll find being sung in folks' cars coming and going from a night on the town.  Tons of hooks.  Tegan and Sara should not be considered obscure alterna-chicks any longer.

#2 The Bones of What You Believe  by Chvrches

Chvrches is this year's great discovery.  A throw back to 80's synth-pop (Depeche Mode influenced) with heavier themes.  Singer Lauren Mayberry has an angelic voice and looks like she is 13 years old.  Come to find out, she is not 13 but has a law and journalism degree.  Top to bottom, this album has one infectious groove after another.  Songs "Lies", "Gun", and "Recover" are instant ear worms.  I can't recommend this album enough. 

#1 Kveikur by Sigur Ros

We've been spoiled by Sigur Ros.  In 2010, lead singer Jonsi released his first solo album "Go".  In 2011 Sigur Ros released the wonderful live album "Inni".  Last year they gave us the other worldly "Valtari".  And this year they blessed us with the truly amazing and brilliant "Kveikur".  Kveikur is a stark departure from last year's Valtari.  Kjartan Sveinsson left the group after Valtari, thus taking much of the ethereal calm with him.  Kveikur is more similar to Jonsi's solo work, much more elemental and brash.  Sigur Ros clearly falls outside any genre.  They paint pictures with their music.  Kveikur feels like you're witnessing the creation of a volcanic island.  Listen to "Brennistein" (translated means sulfur) or "Isjaki" (translated means iceberg) you get the idea why. They are from Iceland, so it makes kinda sense.  I must also say that the live experience is intense.  One cannot just casually go see them live.  Sigur Ros can only be experienced and absorbed.  Likewise, this album won't be appreciated by casual listening.  I enjoy it best every Saturday morning as I watch the sun rise on my way to my favorite running spot on the wooded Loveland trail here in Ohio.  This album, and basically everything Sigur Ros does, makes most music seem amateurish and shallow.  Kveikur is without a doubt the best album of 2013.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Race Review & Rankings

This is a report on the seven races I participated in this past year.  I also decided to rank them in order of how much I enjoyed each one.

7. Fighting Hunger 5k

The race was organized by Matthew 25 ministries here in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It's a fairly popular race, with several thousand participants.  It runs through the business district of the Blue Ash area, which isn't much to look at.  However, they have the biggest post race buffet I've ever seen.  So much food.  A bit ironic since the race is about fighting hunger for the needy.  I did set a PR with an official time of 21:22.

6. Capital City Half Marathon

This race takes place in Columbus, Ohio.  It is a larger half marathon on a fairly flat course.  This was my first race coming off of IT band issues and I finished with my slowed half marathon result to date (1hr 50min).  The course mostly goes around downtown and there is a good amount of crowd support.  The shirt and medal were pretty nice.

5. Go OTR 5k

I loved this community based 5k.  It takes place in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati.  Lauren ran it with me and won her age group.  Only age group winners receive medals and hers is one of the coolest I've seen.  It was made by the historic Rookwood Pottery Company.  Not a cheap item.  There is also a great arts and crafts fair in Washington Park after the race worth sticking around for.

4. Air Force Marathon

This is was my second go with the Air Force Marathon.  I shaved 15 minutes from last years time and finished at 3hrs 50min.  However, that was still off my goal time.  It rained up until the moment the race gun sounded off (no lie) and it was cool dry weather the rest of the way.  The last 5 miles really tore me up with some of the hills.  Running with all the vets and current service men & women is really an honor and that is why I return to this race.  Plus, the finishers' medals are always really cool.  They feature a different war plane every year.

3. Cincinnati Half Marathon

I really liked the course for this race.  Not to be confused with the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, the course is really fast and many PR on it.  I got my best recorded half marathon result finishing in 1hr 41min.  The race is fairly low key, not a ton of hoopla, just the way I like it.  I held back for the first 4 miles knowing I'd have to run uphill into downtown. After that, I sped up at the five mile mark and kept a good pace up to the 10 mile mark.  At that point, it started to rain and I turned up the speed a little bit and finished strong.  This race is a good one for runners doing their first half marathon.

2. Ragnar Relay Florida Keys

This race is really 1b on my list.  It's definitely #1 on the fun scale.  The correct way to run Ragnar is to not try to win or PR.  It's really just a party for runners.  Our team, "Dead by Dawn", was beyond awesome and there are far too many funny stories to mention in this post.  This was my first time in Florida and I couldn't have experienced it in any better way.  Our team captains did a superb job of organizing our mad adventure.

1. Monumental Indianapolis Marathon

A young marathon, it runs like it's been doing it for 20 years.  This was my first time actually visiting Indianapolis and not just the airport.  The mostly flat course attempts to highlight all the major areas of the city.  The day was cool, clear, and fall colors were in full bloom.  I rejected the idea of running with a pace group this time and simply ran "my own race".  This was better, because I like to run by effort and not by someone else's tempo.  There were plenty of hydration stations and others with fruit and/or gel.  The volunteers were very helpful, including the Butler University student that let me use her shoulder so I could balance myself while I stretched out a cramp.  The swag was top notch along with the beanie they handed out at the finish line with the finishers' medals.  I came away very impressed with the organization of the race and the city itself.  To top it off, I PR'd finishing at 3hrs 41min, beating my goal time by 4min.

I am grateful that my family indulges me in my adventures. The road trips we take are always memorable. I look forward to when my girls get old enough to start doing some of these with me.  Next year, my tentative race plans include the Flying Pig 10k, Go OTR 5k, Air Force Marathon, Cincinnati Half Marathon, and the JFK 50 in Boonsboro, MD.  Feel free to join me!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ragnaristic Reflections: Florida Keys Edition

  • Want to explore a part of the world you've never visited? Cram yourself into a van with family, friends, and complete strangers and take turns running a combined total of 197 miles of unfamiliar territory.
  • This is the first race I ever ran where I wasn't trying to PR.  As long as I wasn't letting my team down, I didn't care much about how fast I was going.  This was my fun run.  Too much fun.
  • Beautiful start at Virginia Key in Miami.  Perfect weather.
  • Met running guru/celebrity/Runners World magazine Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, at the start.  Good way to start a race.
  • Kat's first leg included a formidable bridge.  It didn't appear to be a problem for her.
  • First legs of our race included residential and commerce areas.  There was a clear look of puzzlement on some of the resident's faces. 
  • We found out early the humidity was going to be our foe on this race.
  • We found out early that 30+ hours of conch jokes is possible.
  • "Get to the choppa!" (with thick Schwarzenegger accent) while tearing of our shirts was our battle cry for our first legs. 
  • When one of your runners finishes his/her leg, a water bottle is much appreciated. A Nature Valley granola bar? Curtis couldn't find the value in that so much.
  • Shade was oh-so important.  Even a friendly cloud was helpful.  The moment you were exposed to sun, in addition to 90% humidity, life would start to drain from you.
  • Kicking myself that I didn't take more pictures.
  • My first leg went well.  I liked talking to people as I would come up to them and then abruptly pass them.
  • I was psychologically prepped to run an additional 2.7miles for Blake's leg, because I wasn't sure if he was going to get off work in time.  So, it was real nice to see him at the check point when I got there.
  • After our van finished our first leg, we crashed at Blake's a bit to stretch and catch a few winks.  Doesn't sound like much, but it helped a ton to keep us fresh.
  • A Key Lime milkshake is either a great way to get ready for 7.1 miles or a great way to recover from running 3.5.  Whatever, it was good.
  • Kat ran past a prison at night.  Freakay! 
  • I'm glad I didn't run leg 13.  It went right past some dudes cooking BBQ.  My race would have ended right there with a slab of ribs.
  • Mary and Curtis had the honor of running through the Everglades at night.  We're glad no runners were eaten by alligators, crocs, or cannibal rednecks during those legs.
  • Ragnar logo pasties, oh my!
  • Grant's second leg was 1.3 miles short of a half marathon.  Maybe it's his military stoicism, but 11.8 miles really didn't seem to faze him.
  • Running through Key Largo at night, I imagined palm trees, the smell of the sea, and sounds of wildlife.  Instead I got palm trees, the smell of alcohol, drunken couples arguing, and some dude looking for some meth.
  • We were definitely ready for a nap by the end of our second leg.  So very grateful the Randy's had the foresight to book a hotel room for us to get some sleep before our final leg.
  • I volunteered to do leg 26 which included the 7-mile bridge.  However, I didn't know there was a bridge ON the bridge! 
  • Thankfully, the bridge ON the bridge was a non-issue.  However, once the morning sun broke through the clouds, the humidity ate me up.  My IT band syndrome, which had been reasonably tolerable up to then, became a big issue around mile 7 requiring me to attend to it twice in the last 2 miles.
  • Never will I run in Reebok RealFlex again.  The blisters I endured on my last leg prompted me to throw those suckers in the trash.
  • Grant and Mary surprised me with BBQ ribs at the end of my run.  One of the coolest things anyone has done for me at a race.  Tasted oh so good.
  • We believe leg 27 was the hardest of the entire race.  The length plus heat and humidity made it look like a doozy.  Naturally, Curtis conquered it with style, class, and topless nudity.
  • We tried to throw Mary some water on her final leg, but upon hitting the ground, she got a bottle full of sand instead.  Sorry!
  • Surreal feeling once Blake finished his last leg.  Van 1 was done.  All we had to do was relax and wait for van 2 to arrive in Key West.
  • Blake and Curtis took us to a food shack in Key West that made a killer Lobster sandwich.
  • Curtis got to eat the conch (fritters) that he waited all race for.
  • In tired euphoria and delirium, the conch jokes and innuendos never got old.
  • Seeing the former home of Ernest Hemingway was neat.  Especially since I saw where he was buried in Idaho in June.
  • Having the finish line at the end of Duval street in Key West was a brilliant idea.
  • Nice lookin' finishers' medals.
  • The Randy's did a fantastic job of organizing this team.  Everyone had a great time.
  • Witnessing the birth of new Ragnarians is always a cool part of the experience.
  • Grant is going to have to run a dozen more relays to use up all the cool team names he came up with during the trip.
  • This team had incredible chemistry.  It is always a gamble when making running assignments, but many new friendships were forged.  There was no Van 1 vs. Van 2 mentality, just lots of laughs and support.  A great experience!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top 5 Albums of 2012 that you didn't know existed (unless you did, oh well)

2012 was a great year for new album releases.  If I compare how much $$ I spent on music versus last year, 2012 was clearly a better year for music.  I was happy to see the return of two bands: Bloc Party and Bryan Scary.  Both put out praiseworthy new music.  Some bands disappointed with their latest efforts (Muse, Silversun Pickups).  But, I am forgiving and will let the offending musicians slide for one album.  Overall there was a lot of good music.  However, I only list five as my favorites based on how often they get played in my car and home.  It is bit of an eclectic mix. Hopefully you'll find something new on this list.  Now, without further ado I give you my favorite albums of 2012!
1. Valtari by Sigur Ros:  Perhaps the most talented and original group of musicians on the planet.  I understand, they're not everyone's cup of tea. When lyrics are in Icelandic or "Hopelandic" (I can never tell the difference), it is hard for an American audience to connect.  But, I believe their music transcends language barriers. This album requires active listening to visualize the images they paint with music.  I've played this album more than any other this year.  Mesmerizing. 

Must download: "Dauðalogn" "Varúð"
2. Lightning by Matt and Kim:  Stacked full with sing-a-long songs, there is no possible way anyone can walk away with a bad attitude after listening to this album.  Synths, funky beats, and catchy lyrics make this the ultimate road trip record for 2012.  Everyone in you car will be singing and hopping along.  Also!  Matt and Kim produced the best music video of the year for their song "Let's Go"

Must download: "Let's Go" "I Said"
3. Apocryhon by The Sword:  Best metal album of the year.  Period.  The Sword hearkens back to the golden age of metal with absolute mastery in this album.  Elements of Sci-fi, fantasy, mythology combined with Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs and rhythms will force you to don your jean jacket, throw up your devil horns, and bang your head.  This album is accessible to folks who don't consider themselves metalheads, but appreciate a good aggressive record to listen to.  I simply love this record.
Must download: "Hawks & Serpents" "Apocryphon"
4. The Church of Rock and Roll by Foxy Shazam:  Unknown to many, the Church of Rock and Roll resides in Cincinnati with Eric Nally as their head Pastor.  Foxy Shazam continues to establish themselves as the closest thing this generation will ever get to Queen with this album.  Some songs may come off as campy or tongue in cheek ("I Like It" "The Temple"), but there is also great sincerity in their music that draws fans' loyalty ("Forever Together" "The Streets").    There is still so much potential that this band has yet to tap.  But, will the music world in it's present state ever be able handle this very talented group?

Must download: "Holy Touch" "The Streets"
5. Comet by the Bouncing Souls:  A great great punk album.  Their best record since Anchor's Aweigh in 2003.  Certainly the most earnest and sincere album of 2012.  These NJ punkers serve notice on how punk rock should be: accessible.  An album for the people, this record ranks as one of their best.
Must download: "Comet" "Ship in a Bottle"

That's a wrap for 2012!  Have a blissfull 2013!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012 Running Races Reviewed

Little Miami River in Ohio

Time to reflect on the races I completed for 2012.  This year, I limited my self to five races.  So it was important to make them count.  The decision was made to run the full gamut of long distance races, excluding the elusive ultramarathon.  Those races include 5k, 10k, half marathon (13.1 miles), full marathon (26.2 miles), and a relay for good measure.

First race of the year was the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon that took place in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky.  I was really ready for this race.  A mild winter allowed me to get in some extra training and I was feeling fast.  Goal for this race was a finish time of 1 hour 45 minutes.  We (I mean, my family and myself) arrived in Louisville the night before the race and picked up my registration at the expo.  We had a quick bite and headed to the hotel to get some adequate rest for the race the next morning.  Rest I did not get.  Our hotel was located next to the Hard Rock Cafe which had an outdoor concert of some sort going on late into the night.  A loud refrigerator in the room and Lauren talking in her sleep added to the frustration.  I got three hours of sleep.  Despite the lack of sleep I was still amped up for the race.  The race started without any problems.  Weather was great and the runners were friendly.  Everything was going right until mile 8 when I "bonked".  Tiredness set in.  The night caught up to me and I just wanted to lie down and take a nap.  I relented, I finished, and got my very nice half marathon medal.  I did not achieve my goal.  Instead I finished 1 hour and 49 minutes.  Running lesson learned: sleep in essential for performance, even a 5hour energy drink won't get you through.

Second race of the year was the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon 10k.  "The Pig", as it is affectionately referred to, is a tradition around here.  We've participated in the 5k portion before, but this year I decided to do the 10k.  After bonking on my half marathon in Louisville, I wanted to take my revenge out on the 10k.  Goal for this race was under 50 minutes.  The race took place on an overcast Saturday in downtown Cincinnati.  I've run a number of races in downtown before, so the course was familiar.  There was very mild rain at the beginning of the race and I was worried a downpour would come.  Fortunately it didn't.  Running the bridges was no problem and I enjoyed running past landmarks such as Great American Ballpark and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  At the finish, I easily beat my goal with a time of 47 minutes and 39 seconds.  I placed 6th in my division.  One of the great things about the Pig is that every year they have one of the most creative finishers medals.  Running lesson learned:  Revenge can motivate (in a positive way).

Third race of the year was the Sawtooth Relay in Stanley, Idaho.  This race goes down as the race I had the most fun with for the year.  There really was no pressure to achieve a goal time, only a goal experience.  The race takes place in the stunningly beautiful Sawtooth mountains in central Idaho.  Our race started at 1am at a small school in who-knows-where.  On my team was my wife, Amber, my sister and her husband, and our great friends the Dickinsons.  I was assigned two legs of about 5 miles each.  I kept my pace at a nearly exact 8 minutes on each leg.  The course varied between 6500 and 8500 ft elevation.  However, I fortunately didn't feel any ill effects of the elevation since I live in Ohio (elevation 950ft). The temperature was pretty darn cold.  It varied little between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit... in June.  We encountered wind, rain, fog, sleet, snow, thunder, lightning, hail, and a wee bit of sunshine.  But, we had the best time.  Everyone ran well.  I particularly liked running in the dense fog only being able to see ten feet in front of me and hearing the Salmon river on my right.  At the finish line we had brats and huckleberry soda pop.  A great great experience in a gorgeous location.  Running lesson learned:  running with close friends and family can make crazy circumstances an exciting adventure.

Fourth race of the year was the Mudathlon in Hamilton, Ohio.  For my 5k race of the year, I decided to take part in one of those popular muddy obstacle course races.  This meant that I won't achieve any sort of time goal.  My goal was to finish uninjured.  I was in mid-marathon training at this point and was admittedly nervous about breaking an ankle or something.  I ran it with a friend from anesthesia school, Ami, and her husband Jim.  They're practically pros at running obstacle course races, so I simply followed their lead.  There was a lot of climbing up things, climbing down things, climbing across things, and mud mud mud.  It took a couple of days for me to get de-mudded.  Not a race I would do competitively, but for indulging the little kid in me.  It was fun to horse around and I can see why people are addicted to these kind of races.  Running lesson learned: sometimes doing a non-traditional race can be healthy in breaking up the seriousness of marathon training.

Fifth race of the year was the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio.  The year before I had a successful half marathon with this event and I decided I wanted to do the full this year.  I got good sleep the night before the race, tapered properly, and stuck to my diet.  When I arrived on Saturday morning I was so happy that the temperature was 50 degrees. All summer, I trained for this race in the hot humid weather of southwest Ohio.  The cooler weather was a relief.  Right before the race gun sounded, a B2 bomber flew low over the crowd.  A stealth bomber, all you could hear was the wind going over the wings. What an honor to run with military veterans and active duty service men and women.  My time goal was 3 hours 45 minutes.  I felt this was reasonable since I was doing my 20+ mile training runs at a pace of 8:40 to 8:20 minute miles.  The first 2-ish miles was uphill, but with all the pre-race adrenaline going, you would never notice.   The next 18 miles were either mildly downhill or flat.  At the celebrated "Mile 10" I saw my family cheer me on.  That gave me an added boost.  I loosely stuck with the 3:45 pace group so that I didn't start out too fast.  All went as planned until about mile 16 or 17.  This is where I started to "bonk".  It felt as if someone had hit me in the back of the legs with a baseball bat.  I stopped to stretch out the cramps and let out a small yell.  One of the runners asked if I needed a medic.  I laughed and fibbed that's what I do when I stretch.  A medic wasn't necessary, but looking back proper hydration strategy was needed.  Because the race wasn't as hot as when I was training, I made the very poor decision to start hydrating at about the 10k mark.  Bad, bad, bad.  When I noticed I wasn't sweating anymore, I knew I was in trouble.  I wasn't tired.  I wasn't exhausted.  Yet the muscles in my legs turned to immovable stone.  How discouraging it all suddenly became.  I wasn't going to make my time.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  All I could do was try to save face.  In the end I finished in 4 hours and 5 minutes.  I was disappointed, especially while running one of my favorite events.  On a positive note, I learned much about marathon running.  Marathons aren't races you simply run and hope you do well.  They require proper training, planning, and strategy.  I think I trained right, planned right, but strategy was wrong.  Next year, I'll have my revenge...  Running lesson learned: HYDRATE!  Even when you don't thing you need it, because you do.  Hydrate early and listen to signals from you body.

One of the best part about running these races is training for them.  I live about ten minutes from the Loveland trail here in Ohio.  I spend nearly every Saturday morning on that trail at sun up.  It's quiet, beautiful, and peaceful.  The Little Miami river lazily runs next to the trail and I always see cardinals, deer, wild turkey, blue jays, and other critters while I run.  These training runs have been good for my soul after a week of work.  I will continue utilize this trail for my races in 2013. 

Most of all I'm grateful for the support of my wife, Amber.  Not once has she called me crazy for running all these races.  She has always be ultra supportive.

Next year's races will be the Ragnar Relay Florida Keys, Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio, the GoOTR 5k in Cincinnati,  the Cincinnati Reds Redlegs Run 10k, the Air Force Marathon, and Monumental Indianapolis Marathon.  Feel free to join me!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lucky 13th Anniversary

It is that time of year for the 13th edition of the "mix-tape" I make for Amber for our wedding anniversary.  13 songs for lucky 13!

1.  Something to Die For by the Sounds:  As most of you know, we love The Sounds.  So a great song to start of the mix-tape.

2.  Love Interruption by Jack White:  Mr. White sings how he feels love should be.  Apparently, he's been burned once or twice.  Thankfully, Amber hasn't ditched me.

3.  Under the Milky Way by the Church:  Had to slip in an 80's new wave(ish) tune on the list.  I know Amber loves this genre.  Good song for night driving.

4.  Good for Great by Matt & Kim:  We are very excited for their new album coming out soon.  We love to sing along.  Good mood music.

5.  If I Can't Have You (feat. Harvey Fuqua) by Etta James:  I decided to include Etta again this year.  She sings the best love songs even if this particular song is a bit silly.

6.  Your Touch by the Black Keys:  Love music from Ohio.

7.  Under the Westway by Blur:  Brand new song from the kings of Brit-pop.  Makes me want to put my arms around Amber and watch the world slowly doom itself.  Dystopian as usual, beautiful as always.

8.   Amor Fati by Wasted Out:  Pretty song.  Very 80's-ish "The world's your goal to find".  Amber doesn't like to me talk about setting goals, so I'm going the subliminal route with this.

9.   Fljotavik by Sigur Ros:  Gorgeous piano piece by our favorite band out of Iceland.  I haven't a clue as to what the song is about.  Don't need to, their music transports.

10. Kolnidur by Jonsi:  Another Icelandic song by Sigur Ros frontman, Jonsi.  Jonsi has been Amber's favorite for the last 2 years.

11. Midnight City by M83:  Amazing song, amazing band, on heavy rotation at our house.

12. Stand by Me by Ben E. King:  An oldie, but timeless goody.  I heard this song a couple of weeks ago somewhere and knew I had to add it to this year's list.  Try to resist singing along.  You can't.

13. Crazy Thing Called Love by Queen:  Love is crazy.  Amber has put up with me for 13 years that's love and crazy at the same time.