Notes On a Playlist Only Two People Care About


-- चार हजार चार सौ आठ --

Okay you guys. Shobhit put in his requests for fleshing out his "Power Ballads" playlist, and I delivered! It's actually fleshed out to 18 tracks now -- my standard track number for playlists, as it happens -- and fleshed out well, I think:

1. The Winner Takes It All / ABBA
2. The Way We Were / Barbra Streisand *
3. Feed the Birds / Julie Andrews *
4. Your Song / Ewan McGregor and Alessandro Safina *
5. Going to a Town / Rufus Wainwright
6. Shallow / Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper *
7. Live to Tell / Madonna *
8. Somewhere Over the Rainbow / Judy Garland *
9. Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof *
10. Hum Dil De Cheuk Sanam from Hum Dil De Cheuk Sanam *
11. Oh What a World / Rufus Wainwright
12. (I've Had) The Time of My Life / Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes *
13. Come What May / Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman *
14. Save the Best for Last / Vanessa Williams *
15. I'll Never Love Again / Lady Gaga *
16. I Will Always Love You / Whitney Houston *
17. My Heart Will Go On / Celine Dion *
18. The Winner Takes It All / Cher

And now, a few further details on this iteration of the list.

*Asterisked tracks are from motion pictures, always the broader focus of this playlist, with a few exceptions. The original, 12-track version of this playlist had 8 songs from movie soundtracks, or two thirds of them. This one has the same number of tracks not from movies -- four -- but the other fourteen are from movies. So now the movie-soundtrack component makes up 78% of the list, or slightly lower than four fifths. It actually makes the list even more of what I was going for, in making it with Shobhit mostly in mind.

*To flesh it out to 18 tracks, 6 were added. Four of those were added specifically at Shobhit's request, the first two being "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing, and "Save the Best for Last," which I think is just a track Shobhit remembered that he likes, but probably did not remember is also from a movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). Granted, it appeared first on her 1992 album The Comfort Zone, but it still counts! Anyway, those were his first two suggestions for adds; he later recalled how much he loves the original Judy Garland version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," of course from The Wizard of Oz; and, similarly, "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof. He actually suggested the latter be the closing track, but that didn't work well with the sequencing of this particular group of songs. I think it could easily be argued that neither "Over the Rainbow" or "Sunrise, Sunset" are exactly power ballads (those being ballads with a sort of walloping energy to them), but they certainly fit with the theme of movie soundtrack ballads.

*Shobhit's suggestion of four more tracks fleshed out the list to 16, and so I figured, fuck it, I'll go ahead and add two more tracks I knew would now fit better than I might have thought at the start. The first was "Shallow" from A Star Is Born, which I had excluded originally only because "I'll Never Love Again" fit thematically better in sequencing with those three tracks near the end that are so similar in how they are memorable ballads that ended epic love stories. But, I have since learned that "Shallow" has gained quite a lot of traction as a single, and I'm currently guessing that if any song from A Star Is Born gets nominated for an Oscar, it will almost certainly be that one. (There's a good chance multiple songs from that movie will be nominated, but right now I think it's safe to say "Shallow" is the likely winner.) That means "Shallow" is destined to become the song people remember most from that movie for some time to come -- not least of which is because it was the track most prominently featured in the ubiquitous movie trailer. And the second track I took it upon myself to add, Shobhit likely has relatively little familiarity with, but now fits in nicely given the inclusion of both "Over the Rainbow" and "Sunrise, Sunset" -- that being "Feed the Birds" by Julie Andrews, from Mary Poppins. And of those three, actually, "Feed the Birds," with is crescendo of an orchestra section near the end, comes closest to actually qualifying as a "power ballad" as opposed to merely "movie soundtrack ballad."

*I am honestly dubious about the inclusion of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" in a collection of ballads, and really only included it because Shobhit specifically asked for it. Whether we call this a collection of ballads or not, the track fits, especially given the motion picture theme. Still, it's the one track that features a consistently danceable beat throughout, which in my mind places it squarely outside of "ballad" territory. Then again, if a "ballad" is defined strictly as "a slow sentimental or romantic song," it qualifies if only for its vocal delivery. It's not "slow" exactly, but neither is it a disco beat, exactly. It's kind of borderline.

*It would seem intuitive to place "Save the Best for Last" at the end of the playlist. Except the song, while nice, is not the best, and so I placed it just prior to the three power ballads that get saved for the end of the films they are all in, which makes logical sense in my mind. The song's placement says "I've saved the best for last," and then moves into those better songs. As for the Cher version of "The Winner Takes It All," I know Shobhit would be fine with that one being removed altogether, as he much prefers the ABBA version that opens the playlist, but I really like it, and I did make this list for myself too! (I guess you could say it's 80% for Shobhit; 20% for me.) I want it at the end since the two versions of the song bookend the list, and Shobhit can just think of it as a "bonus track," and skip it if he wants whenever he plays the list. (I suppose I should note here that the Cher version of "The Winner Takes It All" does have a disco beat, but a) it's a cover of an ABBA ballad, which actually also has a beat in parts; and b) it still plays like a ballad, and also only has the beat in sections. And whether Shobhit agrees or not, it sequences perfectly as a closing track!)

I finished up the expansion of this playlist on Tuesday evening, after picking up the CDs for both Dirty Dancing's soundtrack and Vanessa Williams's Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years, and ripping them in their entirety to my iTunes database. I don't really expect to listen to either album in their entirety, and only got them for a single track each, but I figured I had them, so why not? I finally synced the completed, expanded playlist to Shobhit's phone last night, although with some technical difficulty. The external hard drive, where all my music tracks are stored, had the connecting cord somehow fall from my desktop computer I the middle of the syncing process, which prevented iTunes from recognizing the tracks or finding them to sync. And what else did it do? Yet more of this bizarre bullshit that my iTunes has done for years now when it seems to get confused: it created duplicates of the playlist, each of them with tracks missing.

I have already learned from experience that, although I can add tracks to fix an existing playlist, trying to delete any duplicate playlist completely fucks everything up, resulting in tons of tracks missing from other, totally unrelated playlists. It makes no sense and the so-called "Geniuses" at Apple were never able to explain to me how or why it happens or how to prevent it from happening again. So, I just live with all these duplicate playlists, and simply play the one with the correct number and sequence of tracks in it. In this case, it means that in my list of playlists, I've got "Power Ballads" four times, and they even get automatically mumbered:

Power Ballads [18 songs]
Power Ballads 1 [11 songs]
Power Ballads 2 [12 songs]
Power Ballads 3 [15 songs]

When I first tried syncing to Shobhit's phone last night, and things went wonky, it only synced "Power Ballads" and "Power Ballads 3" -- neither of them with the correct number of tracks. When I went back to iTunes on my computer, something like three songs that had previously been in the main playlist had disappeared from it, and I had to add them back manually. Thankfully, the "Power Ballads" playlist appeared to be the only one iTunes had fucked with. And, also thankfully, when syncing to a phone, you can check on certain individual playlists to sync, so I just un-checked "Power Ballads 3" and synced again after I fixed the main one, and now he has only the one "Power Ballads" playlist synced to his phone, with the correctly sequenced and correct number of tracks.

-- चार हजार चार सौ आठ --


-- चार हजार चार सौ आठ --

Should I tell you anything about last night? I had my requisite October haircut. I have not yet taken any pictures, mostly because I washed my hair again this morning and it looks best on my non-hair-washing days. So maybe I'll get a photo tomorrow.

I budgeted $70 for this, and paid $69.60. I saved forty cents!

My intent these days is to go blonde in the spring and revert to gray for the fall and winter. In Seattle, I think this is kind of a perfect plan, a way for me to get in sync with Pacific Northwest weather patterns (this insanely sunny October notwithstanding). Last May I did the bottled temporary dye recommended by Laney, and I'll do it again six months from now. I think it's more like "semi-permanent," because, as I actually expected, I've still got a bit of the blond on the ends of my hair on the top. And that's perfectly fine.

It's sort of tricky, because I feel like this woman named Casey at Bang Salon is by far the best hair cutter I can go to in Seattle, maybe ever. She actually owns the company, though, which I did not know at all when she first cut my hair in 2014. Cuts with her are much more expensive than, say, Rudi's, which I went back to with the intent of saving the money, back in the spring of 2015, having gone to Casey in October 2014. But then I had bad experiences at Rudy's, which has proved to be a crapshoot -- sometimes great; sometimes not; one time I literally had to go back to get uneven lengths in the back of my head corrected. You get what you pay for, I guess. I returned to Casey last May, and now that she's cut my hair three times, she has consistently proven to be very reliable in giving me what I want, which is relatively specialized: I only get it cut every six months, which means a cut with the intent of allowing it to look okay as it grows out. I've basically decided that paying $130 or more for a cut and color is not worth it, and it's fine to use the boxed semi-permanent dye, especially as Laney's hair always looks great with the blonde color she uses, and is now the color I used as well.

The thing is, being loyal to Casey now -- she only does haircutting shifts on Wednesdays. I already have to make appointments there about a month in advance at least, and although I was able to book her online six months ago, now the website says to call to make an appointment. It's all a bit annoying and devoid of convenience, but certainly worth it. I got two pretty emphatic compliments on my haircut at work this morning.

Aimée told me I look "very respectable." That was a kind of odd word choice, but I know she meant it as a compliment and took it that way. And Lamai actually came up to after noticing my hair as she was passing by, to have a full-on discussion about how "amazing" it looks.

-- चार हजार चार सौ आठ --

Oh right -- the other big news is that Guru pierced my nose. I'm pretty sure it was Guru, anyway. I woke up to a jabbing pain on the side of my nose just before 3:30 this morning, blood dripping out of it. The pain jerked me awake, and my sudden "AAIGH!" woke Shobhit. He asked if I was bleeding, and I was pretty sure I was. It was dark and my finger felt kind of wet. I went to the bathroom and there was indeed a dark line of blood dripping down the side of my nose. At Shobhit's suggestion, I wiped it with alcohol on a cotton ball, then went back to sleep with a band-aid across my nose.

As I said to Shobhit, I don't think the cat was being aggressive. The reason I'm reasonably certain it was Guru is because, even though both cats were at the foot of the bed when I actually opened my eyes to look, Shanti was laying down and Guru was standing. My guess is he was either trying to get my attention or even just going for a loving tap in my sleep, his claw simply caught on my skin, and when he pulled it away he panicked and that gave me the deep scratch. There was no hissing or anything like that when the cut woke me up. I think Guru himself was more confused by my outburst than anything. I hold no grudges against him. Shobhit is probably right, though, that I really need to cut his nails. And I should do that more often, if I want to prevent a cut this bad from happening again in the future.

The whole thing sucked, of course, and then I couldn't get back to sleep for probably close to an hour. I might have gotten back to sleep otherwise, but Shobhit was also having trouble sleeping, and so he was moving around a lot more often, and looking at his phone. Given how dark it was at 4:00 in the morning, his phone was very bright and it kept pulling me out of barely getting close to falling back to sleep. It was very frustrating. And since I wasn't asleep anyway, I got out of bed to get the morning's exercises out of the way: 34 push-ups; 30-second side planks; 45-second plank. This way I'd already have that out of the way when I inevitably slept later than usual after finally getting back to sleep after this. And that's indeed how it was, as my alarm did not wake me up until 5:27 -- when I have it set to go off between 5:00 and 5:30.

I had no intention of spending the day with a fucking band-aid across the middle of my face, and thankfully, the band-aid had done its job by then. So now I've just got the scratch. And hopefully the alcohol cleaned it well enough to help stave off any infection.

-- चार हजार चार सौ आठ --

Oh! One more thing! I went on a last-minute walk with Alicia yesterday afternoon, maybe a quarter after 3:00. She emailed me to ask if it was too late, and I said not at all.

Even though we have a list that often gets emailed out, to people who have expressed interest in being notified when the walk will happen and maybe join us, it's quite rare that anyone does, and probably 90% of the people on the list still hasn't joined at all. I remain lucky in my job here where, as opposed to most of these other people, I pretty much never have the kind of distractions that would prevent me from committing to an afternoon walk that takes all of twenty minutes. It's clearly good for Alicia for different reasons: she has a fair amount of stress as the person managing the entire PCC Cooks program, and it's pretty clear she often goes on these walks as a means of relieving that stress.

Me, I am pretty close to never stressed at work. In fact, almost without fail, on the comparatively rare occasions I do have any genuine stress in my life, it's regarding my marriage. That's wholly separate from work, which at times, to be frank, feels like a welcome reprieve. Not always, though -- I do want to make it clear that the vast majority of time even at home, I am contented. It's still my default mode, and it's increasingly clear that very few other people have this luxury. (It does seem that Laney is one of them, which I think is a big reason we spend so much time together.) Anyway, back to my lack of stress at work: I just happily go along on these walks simply because a) I can; and b) I enjoy them. That's it.

They've also been easier to enjoy this month with hardly any rain, but I'll happily do them even when it's raining, provided I have my umbrella. Maybe I'll even make more of a concerted effort to do the walks when it does start raining more consistently.

-- चार हजार चार सौ आठ --


[posted 12:34 pm]