Childhood Music Archives

When Ace of Base was getting big, I was still popping in cassette tapes while my peers rocked those flashy compact discs. No big deal, because in late 1992, our household finally got its first CD: Supertramp’s Classics, Vol. 9.  As good as Buddha, Malin, Jenny, Joker and “The Sign” are, they don’t hold a sputtering candle to “Crime of the Century” or “Give a Little Bit” or a dozen other Supertramp songs. If you haven’t listened to them lately, please put them on and enjoy a few tunes. Enjoy them just like this happy crowd:


It’s not difficult to claim superiority for Supertramp over Ace of Base, but really our musical tastes weren’t/aren’t that well informed. My family’s early collection also contained “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, Green Day’s “Dookie,” and a regularly spun Ghostbusters II record. Regularly. Ghostbusters II. I don’t think we ever even saw the movie, so I’m not sure how we ended up with the record but there it was wedged between “Mousercise” and “Kukla, Fran and Ollie.”

Mousercise really should have its own dedicated post. We had great whirling dervish dance parties in footed pajamas to that record. Any other children of the 80s that know what I’m talking about?


Cross-eyed and Dizzy


When you marry Murphy’s Law and technology during a power outage, you arrive at the byte-bloody, sync-spastic scene of my last month of work. After tromping through the weeds of mixed frame rates, incorporating new, untested pieces of equipment in film shoots, setting up dual editing systems, and stumbling into a very unwanted murk of audio drift, my eyes are sinking back into my skull and maybe starting to cross a little. Probably the eyes of my colleagues as well, who shared in the technology apocalypse.


In times like this, it’s worth remembering the things about your job that you cherish. Because while the audio was drifting, I got to listen to a sharp and funny 99 year old recount his recollections of playing in big bands in the 1930s, and how he was able to keep warm during the Great Depression winters in Michigan by nicking coal off freight trains. While the frames were mixing, I was able to break bread with a crew of lively and compassionate people, gaining new political insights and life lessons from their conversations. Before the files needed transcoding, I got to see the sun rise, a sky of black tar to pink to blue, three days in a row. (Perhaps not a tremendous feat in the dead of winter but I was up early enough to be awake enough to appreciate it). I got to film in some very cool places. And I came home from a work trip into the Mr’s loving arms plus sparkling new grout in the shower – a gift not unappreciated given how long it’s been needed and the fact that I didn’t have to spend a single second on it.  Yes, it’s been a very good month too.

So when your eyes start to cross, remember the good stuff. And maybe listen to some Dizzy, preferably with Muppets.

Goh-T-Yay. Gotye

Just to clear the air…:


Four months into listening to this genius of an artist and I’ve finally figured out how to pronounce his name. For those four months it didn’t really matter that we said “Got Yay” (hear the college kids snicker from here to Sacramento. Or high school kids? Because they sure do start young these days), as anyone that I mentioned the artist to hadn’t yet heard of him. Probably because the people I mentioned him to probably consist of my sister in med school who doesn’t have time to blink let alone listen to music and the squirrel that lives in our wall. But even if I’m not hip or avant garde, Gotye sure is!!

I was so into his behind-the-scenes making of an album, I nearly caused us to miss the $267-per-ticket blowhard Mission Impossible For Tom Cruise to Give Up the Ghost IMAX 3D DLP Projection. Or something along those lines. The main takeaway here is don’t bother with an aging Tom Cruise. (Ok, I’ll give you the Dubai skyscraper scaling scene). Watch this instead. Not only is it free, but it will have you imagining what you could do with a few thrift store LPs and the rusty xylophone you’ve had since kindergarden. That, my friends, is priceless.


The creative process on display is just so cool – the mix of the old and the new, building respectfully on others’ creativity – all described in a really approachable, normal way. His sound is Peter Gabriel plus a more respectable Guster plus solo-Sting on a leash plus Beck, slightly tempered. Kind of?  At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing him live at the intimate venue that is The Paradise. The tickets are basically the same price as Mission Impossible, but I’m sure it’ll be ten times the show.

TGIF, Lidia Bastianich – Bread & Cabbage Soup

Growing up without cable made for a lot of pop culture miss-outs and PBS-watching. We still had TGIF, obviously, but unless mom and dad were out, we weren’t allowed to watch Perfect Strangers (too…uh…sexy?), Step by Step (divorce!!!), and some episodes of Dinosaurs (the demanding baby, I think, and the episode where the teenage son does drugs. Oh, and the tarpit). I’d like to say I was uninfluenced by my childhood TV watching, but seeing as how I now work in documentary film, it’s clear at least some of the PBS stuff seeped in.  Guess my parents were smarter than I thought at the time.

We still don’t have cable, and despite missing the occasional sports game or Food Network marathon, don’t really miss it. Matt hooked up a MacMini to the TV screen, so Netflix gets us movies and documentaries, Hulu gets us TV shows, and iTunes fills in any gaps.  But every now and then, when an open Saturday morning or afternoon presents itself, I’ll flip over to our basic TV and hope for the best.

Oh baby, just gimme a smorgasbord of Jacques and Julia, flirting like crazy despite the age difference, a dusting of the eternally stuffy-nosed Simply Ming, a tantalizing hint of Rick Steves washing his underwear in a sink in some German hostel, and the maraschino cherry on top – Lidia Bastianich, lording over her kitchen and her cooking guests with Italian grandmama pride – I’ll be in commercial-free bliss for hours.

Last year Lidia treated us to this heavy gem, and it’s become an annual tradition to make it when the temperatures dip. If you can catch the episode, do watch it, and shout like we did as she adds more cheese, more bread??, MORE cheese???!?, more broth?, even MORE CHEESE?!.  The book recipe is marginally less decadent, but regardless, it’s a warm, cheesy, broth-y, filling dish where you pack on one layer of food-comfort after another.

Gallurese Bread & Cabbage Soup
Recipe from Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy 

Approximately 12 slices whole-wheat country bread, cut 1/2 inch thick
Small head of Savoy cabbage
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound chunk mild provolone (she says not aged, but we mixed mild and aged at a ratio of 3:1, and it was good. We also didn’t use a full pound…)
1 tablespoon soft butter for the baking dish
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino
4 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toast slices of bread in the preheating oven, turning them when one side starts to brown. When they are fully toasted, remove from oven and set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Slice the cabbage head in half, cut out the core completely. Discard all rough and torn outer leaves, lay the cabbage cut side down, and slice crosswise into 1-inch strips.  Drop these into the boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Pour into colander, rinse with cool water, and then put in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and olive oil. Toss.

Slice the chunk of provolone into slabs about 1/3 inch thick. Butter the sides and bottom of a large baking dish.

Assemble the casserole: layer bread slices at the bottom, trimming the pieces as needed to fit snugly and fill any gaps. Spread half the cabbage strips in a layer over the bread. Lay the provolone slabs on top of the cabbage in one layer. Sprinkle on half the grated cheese. Next, layer the remaining cabbage, and top with the remaining bread.

Press down gently on the layers with your palm to compress them. Slowly pour the stock all over the bread and down the insides of the pan, so everything is moistened. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the top.

Cover the dish with a tented layer of foil so it doesn’t touch the surface of the food, put the casserole dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking until the top of the casserole is golden brown.

Serve hot.

The Threat of the Weekend

You know what the excitement of an impending Friday plus a little Woodchuck Hard Cider (it’s delicious) will do to you?  I suppose it depends on your life circumstances, but it just might compel you to go through your Shazam tag list on your iPhone, download a bunch of random songs, and then actually take iTunes’ genius recommendations very, very seriously.

And then you may even be suckered into buying songs like this because you remember your dad mention in passing that he liked Conway Twitty:


Should you find yourself in a similar situation, please remember the stack of unread and dust-blanketed books languishing next to your bed and step away from the electronic devices. Very, very slowly.