Archive for the ‘ television ’ Category

Spotify your way to happiness

So, it’s another evening in for you and yours? There’s nothing on the TV worth watching; the kids are in bed (or you don’t have any); you like music but sometimes think you end up listening to the same old tunes over and over again; you haven’t had a proper natter with your other half or your mates for a while; and you’re skint.

Well, may I make a suggestion? It’ll probably sound a bit naff, but I promise you, if you’ve got some good music-related memories or you are game for a laugh, you will enjoy it.

“It” on this occasion is the Spotify “Chain Game” (said in deep booming voice, with accompanying homemade theme tune) Honestly, it’s good fun. Really. Do you trust me? You do? Then give it a whirl. What have you got to lose?

Before you know it you too could be discovering and marvelling at the likes of Richard Cheese (real name) and Catfish Keith; digging out a “before they were famous” track by Bros, or reliving school disco days with The Cult. I’m not selling it well am I? Bear with, bear with…

First, you will need the following: a laptop or iPad or other device on which you can call up Spotify (free version of course); a comfortable setting, probably your lounge; some speakers (inbuilt ones will do); at least two people for the chatting part, though I guess you could play solo; access to nice wine/beer/cocktails/drink of choice.

Next you need to pick a theme. It could, for example, be cities, or countries, or names of people you know or who are in your family, or vegetables, or animals. Most ideas seem to work well, but try more obscure ones if you like (detectives of the 1970s and 1980s is a tester…)

All you need to do now is start the “Chain Game” (don’t forget the booming voice and doodley doodley theme tune).

Now, the first player types in a word on the theme – for this example, I’ll pick vegetables, so I type in ‘aubergine’.

A list of song titles and artists containing the word ‘aubergine’ duly appear. It’s not a very long list, but still more than I’d expected. Another player picks a number (I’m playing with hubby and he picks five.) I scroll down that number and together we listen to whatever comes up – in this example it’s “Aubergine Walls” by Nick Lawson. It’s a chillout, ambient electronic thing (describing it as a tune would be a bit strong). It’s all right but I won’t be rushing out to buy Nick’s EP. We cut it short after 2 minutes.

Next hubby inputs “carrot”. Now that’s more like it – I can spy tunes from Neutral Milk Hotel, Pavement and Captain Beefheart. But I go for track 20 – which turns out to be a racket by Bentley Rhythm Ace called A Lot of Stick (But Not Much Carrot). Turns out they are from Birmingham and feature the bassist out of Pop Will Eat Itself. They are truly dreadful, but it triggers a long rambling conversation about bands from Birmingham (Duran Duran, Steel Pulse, and err, that’s it…), nights out we have known in Birmingham (bizarrely involving strippers), and whether the Selfridges Bull Ring is an architectural gem or a load of silver hubcaps stuck on a round wall (it’s an architectural gem).

Which segues nicely into my next choice. “potato”. Now I had no idea there was a band called Potato. Their biggest hit is Jamaika Ska. They are located via the number six. They make a pleasant enough old school reggae noise, with lots of trumpets and skanking beats. We recall the holiday we once had to the Dominican Republic, when hubby got a dodgy tum. He ended up in bed for three days with raging diarrhoea. I, on the other hand, learned to windsurf after a fashion and enjoyed lots of cheap local rum.

Do you get the idea?

We did Chain Game recently, inputting our own first names. This led us to the discovery of the comically monikered lounge singer Richard Cheese. You have not lived until you have heard versions of the likes of Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2, Smack My Bitch Up by Prodigy and Nirvana’s Rape Me performed by a man called Richard. Cheese. (You’ve realised the rudeness potential by now I’m sure.)

So if you sometimes run out of things to say to the other half of an evening that don’t involve the kids, work, DIY or what’s on the telly, I’d urge you to give “Chain Game” a try. It won’t be long before you’re grabbing the laptop off each other to click on a song you’ve spied on the list, or shouting out how much you used to LOVE this song and you haven’t heard it for ages, or how this always reminds you of being in a caravan with your mum and dad in north Wales. Obviously getting slowly drunk together aids the process considerably.

You’ll almost certainly end up abandoning the game after a while, but hopefully that will be because you are chatting so much you end up just letting the music play on without your input. Or you realise it’s after midnight and the wine has all gone and you’ve got work in the morning.

Give it a go. I might be onto something.

Random thoughts while watching TV

This blog will do what it says on the tin. I will merely blog tonight as I watch TV and observe my family. This is called multi-tasking, I think. Women do it all the time apparently, men less so; at least, that’s what gender stereotypes would have you believe.

I’ll set the scene for you: my eldest is sprawled on a bean bag in the middle of the lounge, lanky legs akimbo; hubby is snuggling littlest man on the settee, his injured leg up on a second bean bag (he’s just been to the physio and has an icepack on his poorly calf muscle); and I’m slumped on an armchair, son’s laptop on knee, trying not to annoy everyone with my touch typing.

The room is quiet – it’s the boys’ Simpsons time, when I normally spend half an hour pottering in the kitchen in peace, listening to the radio or humming to myself.

By rights I should not be here tonight. I have tickets to go and see Jonny – a new collaboration between Euros Childs, ex Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, and Norman Blake, of Teenage Fanclub – in Bristol with one of my oldest and most lovely friends Liz and her sister Suzy. I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I should right now be at Liz’s house, quaffing wine and booking a cab. But my flu-hangover is still with me, and I really couldn’t face the hour-and-a-half journey down the M5, so I’m stuck here instead.

I’m fed-up, I must admit. Fed up to be missing seeing a good band but mostly fed up to miss out on seeing my chum, who always makes me feel happy. But to be honest I’m quite resigned and realise I’ve not got much to moan about really. I’ve only had flu, not a fatal illness. And while I’m lacking in energy, I’m not in pain and suffering.

Oops; I’ve now caused a minor rumpus by switching channels from Channel 4 to Emmerdale. I don’t think this will give me the excitement I am craving. The storyline concerns Jackson, left paralysed in an accident, and his relationship with boyfriend Aaron, who has a new fella on the go (but feels guilty about it). And now there’s something about a pair of sisters; one of them has a son, but he’s not really her son, he’s her sister’s son, but doesn’t know it. It’s very confusing. Pauline Quirk from Birds of a Feather is in it. That’s all I can tell you, as I’ve now lost interest.

I did notice none of the houses in Emmerdale are ever messy (unless it’s done as part of the storyline, to symbolise someone’s mental decline). The pub never seems to have any empty glasses left on tables or piled up at the bar. How on earth does it manage to employ so many bar staff when it has so few customers?

The adverts are on now. I like the Oreo one with the dunking boy and sad dog and the cheesy Werthers one that uses “I would give everything I own…” by Bread to sell sucky sweets.

The kids have disappeared to play in the kitchen with littlest boy’s Ben 10 ultimate alien car, which he has just converted to a – well, to a convertible. It was a robot thing before. Their dad is filling hot water bottles, making the boys’ beds and is about to read a story with littlest boy. He’s a fantastic dad. Sitting here typing instead of helping suggests I’m the less good parent. This is probably true.

The laptop battery gave out briefly, so I’ve been away a while, just getting back in time for University Challenge. The Sheffield team are easily the least handsome quartet I’ve seen for some time. They almost certainly put their religion down as “jedi”, quote from Lord of The Rings and enjoy a game of dungeons and dragons into the early hours.

I’ve had enough now. I have things to do, like talk to my husband, take some more flu remedy and maybe even have a bath. Exciting, eh? Well, when I promised to blog daily I never promised to blog about interesting things.