Why the Twister Soundtrack is Damn Near Perfect

The movie Twister is 21 years old. Old enough to drink. I have to admit that it is one of my all-time favorite popcorn movies and is still in heavy rotation on channels such as TNT. The reason is simple. The acting is good enough and offers up an ensemble cast of characters who were both established, up and coming, that guy, and comeback? Actors like Helen Hunt in her first big role outside of Mad About You, Bill Paxton in his maybe fourth best role after Aliens, Titanic, and Weird Science. There was Phillip Seymour Hoffman in an early role, Cary Elwes (Wait? What?), Cameron from Ferris and that guy from The Single Guy. And who could forget Jami Gertz, brat packer and deliverer of the iconic line; “I can’t talk now, we got cows!” The movie had action, it had romance, it had Dorothy the tornado seeking robot. I love it!

I have to admit, what I love more than the movie is its near perfect soundtrack. If there ever was a 90s soundtrack this was it. Chock-full of original music from both up and coming and established artists it mirrored the movie in every way. The songs, as one would do in the 90s were featured throughout the movie but really this soundtrack can stand on its own. Here is a link to it on Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/album/6nhPA9JUFlmBiFASeD3Esb

The soundtrack opens with a late Van Hagar track Human Beings and it is solid late 80s OU812 VH. Sammy Hagar is yelling, Eddie Van Halen is guitaring like he always does and it just sets the album on fire.

The second song is Virtual Reality by Rusted Root. This song not only featured the it hippie act of the day, Rusted Root of Send Me On My Way fame but also was a song about a thing we thought was going to take over the world at the time (it didn’t) certainly after Demi Moore just killed the idea in the trash movie Disclosure. While that movie was 1994, we still had some sense that was still a think in 1996.

Tori Amos gave the album maturity and 90s ballad sensibility with her song Talula. She was the soundtrack “it” girl of the 90s.

Perhaps my favorite song on the album was Moments Like This by Allison Krauss. It is a beautiful song about living in the moment and not letting go that introduced me to this amazing talent. It is the one song I cherish most that likely does not belong on this soundtrack because it is too good.

Darling Pretty by Mark Knopfler was great and a huge break from his Dire Straits music. He was coming into his solo own at the time and this was a great artifact of that. It sounded like Irish Dance music.

Not sure many of us remember how big Soul Asylum was for like a year but in 1996 they had a string of hits and their song, Miss This was vintage Soul Asylum. It was all parts Runaway Train and if oft forgotten and it shouldn’t be.

The other really “it” band of the time was the group Belly. Their hit Feed The Tree had gone to the top of the alternative charts and their song on the soundtrack Broken was slower but had the same bones.

The other song that did not belong on this Soundtrack was K.D. Lang’s Love Affair. Bottomline, this girl can sing! She has this vocal range and softness that you rarely find and the song is just beautiful sadness. I love this song so much.

The soundtrack just keeps going and going. There is new stuff that sounds like the old stuff by the Goo Goo Dolls (who, by the way, I went to see in Carbondale, Illinois in 1996. Bush and No Doubt were also on the bill.) The Red Hot Chili Peppers made a sold addition, Shania Twain did her thing, and even Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham added a song.

I will close this post by giving a shout out to Lisa Loeb. I truly think she is vastly underrated and this song is proof. How is beautiful and sweet and makes me smile. I just love this album. Take a listen, watch the movie, pop some popcorn and enjoy. It is so 90s you will freak out.

Why I am taking a Facebook Vacation . . .

So earlier today I announced a summer vacation from Facebook. I am planning on taking about 100 days off until Labor Day and then I plan on implementing new habits to stay social media slim. Here is a disquieting truth I had to face. I LOVE social media. I love debating people I don’t even know, I love posting, I love the endorphins from getting likes and shares, I even like it when haters come around. I love being in touch with so many friends past and present and I love how it is a chronicle of my life. But, alas, I sometimes like it too much. Quite frankly I just spent too much time using Facebook. So just like eating too much pizza or ice cream I needed a diet.

So now is the time. But what am i going to do with all of my newly found time and energy? I got some ideas. Here is my summer vacation bucket list.

  1. I want to get better at cooking. I think my daughter Caroline and I are going to start doing a lot more real cooking in the kitchen. Fresh food and taking our time. I am going to start on the New York Times cooking site and just start making things happen. https://cooking.nytimes.com/topics/what-to-cook-this-week?mcubz=1

  2. Write more. I want to write more for my profession but also get around to some personal projects. Like getting a lot of distance on my Preston Top 1,000 Album Reviews. I hope to spend at least one hour per day getting better at writing.
  3. Get back to my crossword puzzles. I loved doing them, they are fun. I should do them more. Period.
  4. Become a coupon person. I love saving money so I am going to dig deep into the Penny Hoarder website, clip my coupons, and check the sales and see if I can readjust our budget.
  5. Get back to spinning class. I love spinning class and I stopped going. I need to get back to it. I find it so much fun! And it might get me back in shape.

There are other things I want to do but these are the big ticket items. So, I know there are lots of doubters out there but this is pretty important to me. I hope I can stick to it. If I am successful I think there can be some real benefits and maybe I can learn to go back to Facebook without spending too much time. We will see. I am excited to see what is possible.

Sometimes Patience is the Hardest Part

In higher education it is not the lack of ideas that is a problem, its allowing the good ideas the space to grow and develop. Change in higher education is one that takes time, patience, and tremendous coordination. That is why when I get frustrated I try to find pioneers who have led the way to help me when I get frustrated. You see, I am the Executive Director of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. This is a small start-up with big dreams. We consist of Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida and we are working together to help more underrepresented students graduate more often, with less debt, and into higher paying jobs. We believe that while we are told to compete, compete, compete for limited state resources, for talented students, and for program prestige. The idea of educational collaboration is not usually seen as fruitful.

But this blog post is less about our journey and more about how do we get there from here. Well, we can look to our pioneers to see how patience paid off. Recently I watched a video for my higher education policy course that felt really showcased how hard change can be and what it takes to make it all happen. It was a video produced by The University of Illinois on Dr. Karol Kahrs, the first Women’s Athletic Director at the college. The video spans her over 30 years of work for Illinois and how they went from a budget of just over $60,000 and three sports to the top flight program it is today. I think there is a misconception that when Title IX was first implemented it just opened the floodgates for equal access. That is simply not true. It took years, decades. I think the Florida Consortium has a similar path. Its going to take years. So when I have set backs, when I don’t see a path forward, I just remember Dr. Kahrs. You can watch it here:

Considering Life: What Leon Russell taught me about belongings

This painting hangs on my living room wall. I belonged to my father. My father has been dead now for 12 years. He died in 2005, was quickly creamated and I promptly estranged from my step-mother. It all happened very fast. So fast that this is the only material possession that I now own that belonged to my father. The only physical reminder (save a number of cherished photos) of his 52 year existence that I own. And that stinks. He had this amazing record collection that spanned 25 years of rock history, he had this collection of Time-Life Art History books that chronicled the great artists in history, and he had this amazing set of shaker style book cases that reminded me of my childhood every time I touched them. He had some shirts and a sweatshirt that I know he wore for 20 years. The man was a collector of things. But all of that is just memory. For a long time I was angry my step-mother never let me have any of his things. I would like to have just a few more items so as my memory fades I can rekindle that light with some physical reminders of his life and our love for each other.

But I guess that was not to be. Then, one day on my morning walk, I was listening to my Spotify and the song Lady Blue came on in some random mix. Its a beautiful some and I can honestly say I have not heard it since my father was alive. he played Leon Russell all of the time and this song was one of his favorites.

And then it hit me, these songs I still connect him with, they are my possessions handed down from him. The music is The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Stevie Wonder, Arethat Franklin, Cream, Devo, Joni Mitchell, Donovan, and more. These artists were his most prized possessions. And while I still miss the feel and smell of those albums I know they are there every time Boz Skagg’s Dirty Low Down comes on. every song is a hug from him. And that is pretty great.

College Athletics not a white knight

I love college athletics. I grew up on college sports and some of my best memories as a kid and college student centered around college games. One of my first formative sports memories was watching Lorenzo Charles make a last second dunk in 1983 to give N.C. State the national championship. I remember watching the Hail Flutie in Miami as a young Miami Hurricanes fan. In 1991 when Jeff Blake scored a two point keeper versus Pitt to preserve the dream season I was in the stands yelling “I love college!!” at the top of my lungs. I was at Catholics versus Convicts II in the Orange Bowl when Miami destroyed Notre Dame and the last substantial moment that my father and I shared while he was still alive was attending a University of North Carolina basketball game. It was his wish to see a game at the Dean Dome even though he had never attended college. So this is not about how great college athletics is or can be. I get it. Continue reading “College Athletics not a white knight”

Tired of Celebrity Deaths? Don’t Blame 2016.

Look, no doubt about it, 2016 was the worst. The election was a drag, the Olympics were meh, and in general it seemed that live was a little edgier. And then there were the celebrity deaths. Starting with David Bowie in January it was everywhere from music to movies to athletes – it seemed every ten days or so we were losing someone many of us cared about. And the only thing that they seemed to have in common was this stinking year. But I have another theory; maybe for a good number of these deaths 2016 was not the reason at all (and yes, I know cosmically that is true as well so save it . . . .)Continue reading “Tired of Celebrity Deaths? Don’t Blame 2016.”

Top 25 Albums of 2016 Themes and Preview

So it is that time of year again when I reveal my favorite albums of the year. This year I will review five albums per day leading up to my top five on Saturday, December 17th. But before I get to my favorite albums of the year I wanted to highlight some of the themes that we encountered in music. 2016 was a great year for music and I am so excited about the many new artists who I discovered and the return of many of all-time favorites. Continue reading “Top 25 Albums of 2016 Themes and Preview”

For the Ghost Ship

I acknowledge that I can be clumsy, ignorant, and awkward when writing or talking about diversity or our creative communities. So please forgive me in advance if I am not eloquent in this post. Kindly let me know how I can do better in the comments. I felt compelled to post as I have been consumed with learning about the lives and art that we lost in the Oakland Warehouse Fire, Friday night.Continue reading “For the Ghost Ship”

The Only Time You Can Have Everything is on a Bagel

Of all of the bagels there is nothing quite as satisfying to me than the Everything Bagel with cream cheese at a shop in town. It gives me everything I want out of life: a warm bagel that is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside; a savory and salty blend of sea salt, garlic, poppy seed, onion, and other stuff I cannot place right now. And then the cream cheese. Gooey and sweet, it cuts through all of the savory in a way that is magical.Continue reading “The Only Time You Can Have Everything is on a Bagel”

If You Want to Be On Time, Make Sure You End On Time

Welcome to Fall Semester 2016! It is a new college year and full of hope.

Many of us have taken the rollover of the calendar as a chance to make changes and reaffirm commitments. Usually these decisions take the form of the New Year’s resolution or in this case, new school year resolutions. Think your annual promise that you will always follow up on emails, take better notes, or get to that research project. Continue reading “If You Want to Be On Time, Make Sure You End On Time”