Getting to know myself intimately in a very public way.

I’ve said it once, I will say it a million times. I hate it when people ask me what my favorite things are. I immediately panic and my mind goes blank. By now, I should know that I always have to have default answers to questions I know I will get asked on a regular basis. Where are you from? What are your favorite TV Shows? What music do you like? What types of books are you? What type of Asian are you? Luckily, I know that I’m Chinese, so that’s one question that I don’t have to worry about. Yay. I will take a moment to celebrate by throwing dried rice up in the air. Oh, wait. That’s something else. Screw it. I’m throwing dried rice in the air to celebrate my Asianness.

You must want to ask me, “Kenny, how do you not know where you’re from?” Well, it’s complicated. Depending on my mood, I will give a range of answers. I usually just say that I’m from Queens, New York because that is where my heart is. Technically, though, I’m from New Jersey. Eh, it’s close enough. I do have a long-winded answer waiting in the wings for when I want to explain the saga of where I’m from.

For questions regarding my favorite things, I usually just say “A little bit of everything.” Sometimes they leave it at that. Other times, they ask specific question after specific question, and I’m lead down to an existential rabbit hole of awkwardness and regret.

The main reason why I do not like to mention the things I like is because I am a bit cautious about mentioning things that the other person might not be aware of. I always assume that the only shows they know of are Friends and ER and they’re only aware of super-mainstream bands and artists to, like, I don’t know, Madonna, the Rolling Stones or Beyonce. During one such occurrence, I said I liked Billy Joel and Hootie and the Blowfish. They’re fine, but they’re not really an accurate representation of what I like.

So, here I am, putting myself out there. I will essentially have a conversation by myself with the point of asking various “What do you like questions?” If you choose to leave now, I won’t blame you. I’m just hoping I don’t shrivel up and, you know, die.

What kind of music do you like?

Folk, Rock, Pop

How interesting. What are your favorite musicians/bands?

Joshua Radin, The Black Keys, Aerosmith

How about movies. What type of movies do you like?

Pretty much everything except for horror.

That’s a shame. What are your favorite movies?

50/50, Juno, Hot Fuzz

What’s 50/50?

It’s a comedy/drama about a man dealing with cancer.

Sounds sad. Do you watch TV?

Yes, I watch petty much everything.

Oh, great. Like what?

Burn Notice, Dexter, Breaking Bad

What do you like to do for fun?

The usual boring stuff. Writing, Reading, Web Design

Oh, you like to read? What do you like to read?

Pretty much everything. I especially like memoirs and autobiographies.

Can you give me some examples?

Amy Poehler’s book. There are others, but they’re really not well known. I like to read memoirs written by eveyday people.

How wonderful. I have to go now. Goodbye. -scurries off-

Um, bye.

Singing about the struggles of blogging or, you know, actual social issues people care about

It makes me very happy whenever I hear a song that’s not about love. We get it. You’re in love or you’re out of love or you have a crush or you’re having a threesome in a hot tub. That’s great. That’s wonderful. But we need more songs not about love, breakups and everything in between. That includes intense lovemaking in a hot tub.

Seriously. There needs to be a boycott on love songs. Sara Bareilles is doing it. Why can’t everyone else?

Enough about love. Let’s move on to songs about depressing social issues, shall we?

Walkin’ On the Sun – Smash Mouth (Consumerism, Drugs)

The origins of this song is ambiguous at best. The sad depiction of our society is subtlety masked by the upbeat melody and humorous lyrics. Seriously, though, forget about drugs. Just waiting for a package of batteries for six to eight years would kill me.

The Remedy – Jason Mraz – (Healthcare, Cancer)

OK, maybe healthcare is a bit of a stretch here. This song was written when a close friend of Jason’s was diagnosed with cancer and is about how it impacted his life. Every time I listen to this song, I imagine a rebel trying to deal with a world of corruption. Or I just have a wild imagination. You decide.

New Americana – Halsey (Legal Marijuana, Same-Sex Marriage)

The most recent of the three by far, the song is about how the world is changing and focuses on legal marijuana and same-sex-marriage. It has a pleasant, slightly eerie tone, but I would have preferred something more upbeat. Yeah, despite my adoration for Michelle Branch, I am more of a rock guy than a pop guy.

Remember These? (Songs) – Michelle Branch is nowhere to be found in this post

When a person has a blog where they talk about things that they find nostalgic, there will be a time where they will consistently get comments along the lines of “I’ve never heard of it, but it sounds interesting.” This blog is no different. So to mix things up a bit, I will list a series of things, of which I’m sure all of you would recognize at least one. If you don’t recognize anything, then I suggest that you stop locking yourself in your bedroom and get some fresh air. I, of course, say this in the most friendliest, kindest way possible.

I’ve chosen six songs that are all pop songs from the mid to late 2000s by non-American singer-songwriters. Yes, it’s a very specific theme that I accidentally came across. How many songs do you recognize? Please say at least one, or I will cry. You know I will, and you don’t want me to cry. Really, you don’t.

This is the Life (2007) – Amy Macdonald (Scotland)

Suddenly I See (2004) – KT Tunstall (Scotland)

Warwick Avenue (2008) – Duffy (Wales)

Bad Day (2005) – Daniel Powter (Canada)

Sweet About Me (2008) – Gabriella Cilmi (Australia)

Timeless Thoughts: Michelle Branch is no longer ‘everywhere’. In fact, she’s nowhere. Or is she somewhere?

This post is a part of Timeless Thoughts, a monthly link-up hosted by Georgie and Tara where bloggers share something they’ve missed from their past. OK. OK. That’s basically my entire blog, but I’m doing this anyway. Sue me.

OK, so this isn’t the first time I’ve posted about Michelle Branch. I didn’t dedicate an entire post to her though. She was more of a blurb. I wonder how many times I can subtlety mention Michelle Branch on my blog before someone mentions it. Challenge accepted.

As a teenager, my music taste was ambiguous at best. I listened to mostly country music and to this day, I’m still puzzled as to why. Now, I’m not a big fan of country music. In fact, I pretty much listen to everything but country. Yeah, I’m a strange one.

I don’t have a lot of nostalgia and memories attached to music until I was much older because I wasn’t listening to music until I was like 12. Michelle Branch is one of the few music artists I was familiar with around that age. Yes, I sometimes feel like a 12-year-old girl listening to her songs. Her songs are easy for me to listen to and they remind me of a simpler time. Since I listened to music at a later age and I wasn’t familiar with a lot of music at the time, it’s nice to have at least a small amount of music artists that I’m familiar with and can easily recognize. Plus, at the time, she was literally everywhere. It was difficult to avoid her anyway, heh.

In the mid-2000s, Michelle decided to form a country pop duo with Jessica Harp, a friend and fellow musician. I didn’t expect Michelle to sing country, but I still liked her. I did still like country at the time though, heh. So that doesn’t say much.

in 2007, they disbanded, and she’s been here and there but she’s nowhere near as popular as she used to be. She’s not everywhere. She’s not nowhere. She’s somewhere. Maybe she’s in a coffeehouse in Iowa.

No, I don’t find songs through TV shows. I find them through commercials.

As a person without a TV, I don’t get exposed to as many commercials as I used to. Of course, I still use the Internet on a daily basis, so I do get bombarded with commercials and advertisements all over the place. I haven’t really seen many commercials that I’m fond of the past years though. I know. I know. Commercials are not supposed to be memorable or nostalgic. Still, when I had a TV, there were quite a few commercials that immediately grabbed my attention, and I have since missed them. So, I should be thankful that YouTube exists.

Although well-known songs are used in a lot of commercials, songs not familiar to the general public are used just as much. I did not know any of the songs in the commercials below beforehand and, now, I associate these songs exclusively with the commercials. As a result, I have nostalgia for these songs and commercials. Yes, there I said it. Commercials make me nostalgic. Sue me.

Coincidentally, all of the commercials are between 2009 and 2010. What amazes me is that the songs enhance the commercials. They don’t overpower them. Of course, I don’t know what song could overpower an Advil commercial but nevertheless, it works.

Where has my music taste gone? Oh, it’s just been sitting on Pandora for five years.

As mentioned in previous posts, my music taste has significantly grown over the past 15 years or so. I’m at the point now where I’m listening to music so infrequently that I barely know what my music taste is right now. Like almost everyone else in the world, I have stopped using Pandora but from time to time, I log onto my account and listen to the same old artists and bands I’ve always listened to. Once in a while, I would remove or add artists, but my music taste hasn’t really changed over the years. My music taste can be divided into two types: Blues Rock and Varying Degrees of Folk Music. I spent some time listening to songs I used to love and listen to all the time, and with the exception of a few songs, my reaction was “meh.” I guess I need to embark in the long, tedious and painful journey of rediscovering my music taste. Wish me luck. In the meantime, here’s a small sample of songs I’ve loved at one point of another. Can you guess which song is not like the others? Heh.

I liked country music. You can punch me now.

Out of every little possible thing one could be nostalgic about, music is probably the least nostalgic for me. Sure, certain songs remind me of certain parts of my life but, honestly, it’s one of the things that I can live without. Perhaps the reason for this is because I spent the first 22 years or so of my life listening to almost exclusively country music, and I’m only starting to get a better idea of what my music taste is. What’s definite is, yeah, I am tired of country music now.

Just to amuse everyone, below is an example of a song I would listen to. Yeah… you can punch me in the face now.

So, I decided to dig a little deeper into my tragic relationship with music to find non-country songs that I liked and connected with during my re-teen/teenage years. Yeah, you should be extremely scared right now.

Absolutely (Story of a Girl) – Nine Days

It’s just a catchy run-of-the-mill pop rock song, but it immediately takes me back to when I was 14, and I would watch random music videos on the TV at 6 in the morning because that was literally the only thing that was on at the time. I also like the subtle theme of self-destruction.

Drops of Jupiter – Train

Probably the most recognizable song for anyone between the ages of 20 to 40, this again takes me back to when I was in high school, although it doesn’t point to a specific memory. It just reminds me of the late 90s/early 2000s for no apparent reason. Ugh, yes. I’m one of those people.

Everywhere – Michelle Branch

Completely different from the other two, this song reminds me of a much simpler time, which is funny because this song came out when I was a teenager. I guess it just reminds me of when I was 12 years old, which is fitting because every time I listen to this song now, it makes me feel like a 12-year-old girl.

Please don’t ask me who my favorite musicians are, or I will shriek

As a reluctant introvert, I always try to be as friendly and social as possible in all situations. I do this for a very good reason. I do not want my neighbors to refer me as “that crazy guy who never comes out and is probably torturing cats right now.” Yeah, I would rather not be tagged as a crazy cat murderer recluse.

The thought of someone asking me to name my favorite TV shows or movies or musicians or whatever else they could possibly ask terrifies me. There was a time in my life where I would lie on my bed trying to think of “suitable responses” to such questions. Yes, I was this concerned about such mundane interactions that happen between two or more people every single day. Hey, I said I’m an introvert.

The main fear I have when someone asks for a favorite of mine, whether it be a book or TV show or musician, is that they’re not going to know who or what I’m talking about. I had an awful experience four years ago when a friend of mine asked what kind of music I liked. I answered with the standard cop-out of “a little bit of everything,” but she kwas relentless in grilling me for more information. “What are the specific genres do you like?” “Oh, you like folk music, that’s cool. Any specific singers?” “Yeah, but name a few. I might know at least one of them.” And that was the point where I wanted to shrivel and die.

Since the fiasco, I have since responded to such questions with random mainstream musicians/bands that I kind of like. Usually it’s Hootie and the Blowfish and Billy Joel. Yes, I know. I’m hip. I would not consider my music taste “mainstream,” so I feel uncomfortable and socially awkward when trying to come up with examples of musicians/bands I like. I have no idea whether or not someone has actually heard of the musicians/bands that I listen to.

Although I do little to a little bit of everything, I tend to stick with folk and rock. My favorite musicians/bands include The Black Keys, Joshua Radin, Vienna Teng, Joe Purdy and Iron & Wine. Yes, some of these are well-known to a lot of people, but I still dread in being in awkward situations where the person I’m talking to has no idea what I’m talking about. I can only shrivel and die so many times.

It doesn’t help that I don’t listen to a lot of music. As someone who doesn’t listen to music outside of his laptop, I heavily rely on Pandora and YouTube videos. Yes, I know. I’m a annoying leech who should burn upon eternal flames.

I do have a tiny CD collection that I’m oddly proud of. I shouldn’t be, because of one glaring reason.

Yes, that, my friends, is a Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. I know. I just lost all of my credibility. Oh well. You lose some. You win some. You have a tiny CD collection that makes the entire world shake their heads in extreme disapproval.

OK, I guess the next time someone asks me what my favorite musician is, I should just shriek and run away.