I Have A Weird Hobby

Having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder my whole life has led to some strange interests and fascinations. For one thing, I’m one of the few fantasy role-playing game enthusiasts who actively loves level grinding for hours on end. It’s a great way to relax, let out stress, and concentrate on listening to audiobooks, podcasts or music, while doing the same monotonous task for hours and growing my characters.

Over the years my collection of music has grown from a few CDs to a massive iTunes library of 50+ GB of music. Much of it is legitimately purchased, and much of it has been torrented, although I do make an effort to still support the artists I like, and buy physical copies of albums I love.

Since I have so much music, one of my favorite activities, apart from keeping it all meticulously organized (and it is: my library is organized alphabetically by artist, then chronologically by release date, and I have several B-Sides collections for artists like Tori Amos, organized by era, and I try to always have high quality album artwork, as well as properly formatted song and album titles), is making playlists. My enjoyment of making playlists has led to a strange new hobby: creating fake Greatest Hits albums.

There are some incredible musicians whose catalogue is not exactly newcomer-friendly. Case in point: Tori Amos. When I discovered Tori, she had at the time released 11 studio albums, along with various collections and EPs, and I had no idea where to begin. I started with her own greatest hits collection Tales of a Librarian, but it turned out to be a pretty terrible collection for a newcomer, and then got her box set A Piano: The Collection, but that was 86 tracks long so it wasn’t exactly easy to digest. I ended up just going through albums as I chose, mixing in new Tori with old Tori, but there’s never been a Tori collection that I feel really encapsulates her entire career and gives newcomers a good place to start.

Kate Bush is an even more difficult situation, because she has only one small greatest hits collection, and it’s from halfway through her career, with only a few of her best songs on it, plus the audio quality is pretty bad because it’s never been properly remastered. Her box set This Woman’s Work contains almost all of her albums, plus B-Sides, but that’s not a very place to begin either.

So, I’ve had a lot of fun organizing playlists to create fake Greatest Hits albums for artists I like. Sometimes I keep them in playlists, and sometimes, like recently, I actually create disc-length mixes and give them their own album in my library. I’ve had so much fun creating these that I decided to share them with you, and hey, if you’re a newcomer to these artists, you can feel free to use these as a place to begin!

As it happens, I kept them all within standard CD length, so they should all be mixes you could burn to a physical CD if you like.

The Essential Tori Amos

I based this collection on “the essential” album series. You’ve probably seen them in Wal-Mart or other stores before: they always have a black and white cover, with white and red font, and usually contain two discs, spanning an artists entire career, in chronological order. If you’re unfamiliar, take a look at The Essential Heart, The Essential Sarah McLachlan, the Essential Sade, or something like that, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I actually really love this image of Tori, it’s from The Beekeeper era tour book, and it was used as the album art for A Piano The Collection’s bonus DVD, but I think it works perfectly for something like this. I also looked up the actual font used on the cover of “the essential” series and used it on this photo, so I think it actually came out looking pretty official. The selections span Tori’s entire career, mostly important singles or landmark songs, although there wasn’t room to include any B-Sides because of the limitations on length, but I think that for a 2 disc collection of an artist who’s released 15+ albums, I did a pretty good job. Track listing is below.

Disc 1

1 Precious Things
2 Crucify (Unedited Single Version)
3 Silent All These Years
4 Winter
5 Pretty Good Year
6 God
7 Past The Mission
8 Cornflake Girl
9 Talula (The Tornado Mix)
10 Hey Jupiter (The Dakota Version)
11 Mr. Zebra
12 Caught A Lite Sneeze
13 Spark
14 Raspberry Swirl
15 Jackie’s Strength
16 Playboy Mommy
17 Bliss
18 Concertina
19 1000 Oceans

Disc 2

1 A Sorta Fairytale
2 Taxi Ride
3 Gold Dust
4 Angels
5 Snow Cherries From France
6 Sleeps With Butterflies
7 Sweet The Sting
8 Marys Of The Sea
9 Big Wheel
10 Bouncing Off Clouds
11 Welcome To England
12 Maybe California
13 Star of Wonder
14 Pink and Glitter
15 Carry
16 Flavor
17 Programmable Soda
18 Trouble’s Lament
19 Invisible Boy

 

American Doll Posse EP’s

Tori’s ninth album American Doll Posse is told from the point of view of five personas, representing different elements of the divine feminine, and utilizing goddesses from the Greek pantheon. The album is great but suffers from being a little too long, simply because of the album’s variety. Tori herself commented on it “Either I was making five seperate albums, or I was speaking with different voices.” So these fives voices are all jammed together as tightly as the one hour and twenty minutes a CD will allow, meaning that the album is more than a little cluttered. Although I think it still came out fine, the final album is 23 tracks long, which is pretty staggering. There are also three bonus tracks available on different versions of the album. I thought it might be fun to separate the songs into 5 individual extended plays based on the Posse personas. Even though I like the album the way it is, I can imagine the excitement fans would have felt as she released the five EP’s in sequence, each one about five tracks long, with fans devouring the songs, comparing the EP’s, discussing the themes present in them, and wondering what would come next. I created my five Doll EP’s just as a fun little project, and then actually made some album art for them too. By the way, Tori’s EP begins with an Isabel song, which I chose to do because I think it’s a good opener, and Isabel already has another “interlude song.” Clyde is the only one who didn’t get a brief opening song.

 

Tori (EP)

1 Yo George
2 Big Wheel
3 Digital Ghost
4 Father’s Son
5 Code Red
6 Posse Bonus

Clyde (EP)

1 Bouncing Off Clouds
2 Girl Disappearing
3 Roosterspur Bridge
4 Beauty of Speed
5 Miracle

Pip (EP)

1 Velvet Revolution
2 Body and Soul
3 Fat Slut
4 Teenage Hustling
5 Smokey Joe

Isabel (EP)

1 Devils and Gods
2 Mr. Bad Man
3 Drive All Night
4 Almost Rosey
5 Dark Side of the Sun

Santa (EP)

1 Programmable Soda
2 You Can Bring Your Dog
3 Secret Spell
4 My Posse Can Do
5 Dragon

The Essential Kate Bush

You really can’t be a fan of Tori Amos without hearing Kate Bush’s name bandied about. There is an unfortunate tendency in music reporting to compare EVERY female singer-songwriter (particularly the quirky eccentric ones) to Kate Bush, and to a lesser extent, Tori Amos herself. The way in which I first heard of Tori Amos was through reviews of Evanescence’s albums comparing Amy Lee to Tori Amos (the only real connection between them is that they’re women who play piano and sing, sometimes about dark and gritty subject matter). Then, when I got into Tori, I couldn’t read an interview or review of her music without hearing about Kate Bush. As it happens, despite this weird tendency in music journalism to compare every woman to the same two women who came before them (as though there can be only one weird alternate female singer-songwriter), as opposed to men who do NOT all find themselves being compared to David Bowie or Prince, it is for the best that I learned about these two women, as their music is not something that should be missed.

Kate Bush’s catalogue, like Tori’s, doesn’t offer a lot of easy entry for newcomers. You can ask around and you’ll probably hear that the best place to begin is Hounds of Love, as it’s sort of the midpoint of her career, combining the quirky weirdness of her first three albums with the pop sensibility and melodic hooks of the next three. I decided to try and put together a two-disc Essential Kate Bush, and I’m pretty proud of it. A lot of things had to be left out (I struggled over how and whether to include Un Biser D’enfant, Army Dreamers, and Hounds of Love), and the latter half of her career is difficult to represent because most of her newer work is very lengthy. As a consequence, disc 2 is a lot shorter and spans less material, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it came out, even though I had to leave out a couple of her duets and most of her soundtrack songs (I included Lyra though, because it’s never been included on any of her official collections, due to coming out after the release of her box set.

Disc 1

1 Moving
2 Wuthering Heights
3 Them Heavy People
4 The Man With The Child In His Eyes
5 Hammer Horror
6 Wow
7 Symphony In Blue
8 Breathing
9 Babooshka
10 Army Dreamers
11 December Will Be Magic Again
12 Sat In Your Lap
13 The Dreaming
14 There Goes A Tenner
15 Suspended In Gaffa
16 Ne T’enfuis Pas
17 Night of the Swallow
18 Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
19 Cloudbusting
20 Hounds Of Love

Disc 2

1 Wuthering Heights (New Vocal)
2 Experiment IV
3 Be Kind To My Mistakes
4 The Sensual World
5 This Woman’s Work
6 Deeper Understanding
7 Love And Anger
8 Rubberband Girl
9 The Red Shoes
10 Eat The Music
11 And So Is Love
12 King of the Mountain
13 Aerial
14 Lyra
15 Flower of the Mountain
16 Wild Man
17 And Dream Of Sheep

That’s all for now! I’ve got a lot of exciting stuff I’m planning to write and post about soon, so I hope to have more to tell you all soon about life, projects, and what I’m up to. Happy listening!

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8 Podcasts You Should Listen To

I first discovered the existence of podcasts back in about 2011. The first podcast I ever listened to was called Downstage Center from the American Theatre Wing, where they interviewed just about every important theater acter from Broadway to Shakespeare. After that I started just searching iTunes for interviews with people I liked, like Imogen Heap, Tori Amos or Gregory Maguire.

More recently I’ve discovered podcasts again, and wow has the landscape changed since 2011. There are some really fantastic podcasts out there, and the best thing is that no matter what you’re interested in, there is probably at least one great-quality podcast out there. On top of that, because podcasts are almost always free, it’s a great medium to create in. I experimented with doing my own podcast and would like to come back to it at some point, though probably with a more focused idea of what I was doing. All that being said, I’m going to share with you some of the podcasts I’ve been listening to, and what I think of them.

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy
Hosted by David Barr Kirtley and John Joseph Adams

If I had to pick a “favorite podcast,” this would probably be it. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is a podcast primarily centered around science fiction and fantasy, but honestly they touch on just about every element of geek culture. The podcast is hosted by Wired.com, so there is oftentimes an element of technology. Host David Barr Kirtley is really unique among podcast hosts, because he’s very good at asking questions that allow the guest to give a complete, uninteruppted answer. He is very skilled at leading the guest toward a topic they want to expand on, and he only pops in to offer commentary or ask further questions when it serves the guests narrative, he doesn’t monopolize the interviews by interjecting much with his own experience. This style of letting the guest have center stage has led some critics to think David is uninterested in the subject matter, but as you can see from the panel episodes, this is certainly not the case. The earlier episodes of Geek’s Guide usually included an interview as well as a panel discussion with fellow host John Joseph Adams and various other geeks (usually writers), however in recent years they’ve split the two formats into different episodes, which I personally like because it keeps the episodes from getting overloaded.

Pretty much every important “geek luminary” you can imagine has been interviewed on this podcast. Just some of their guests include: Philip Pullman, Richard Dawkins, George R.R. Martin, John Cleese, Patrick Rothfuss, R.A. Salvatore, Naomi Novak, Andy Weir, Ernest Cline, Ken Liu, Amanda Palmer, Diana Gabaldon, Christopher Moore, Dan Simmons, Margaret Atwood, Felicia Day, Lev & Austin Grossman, Gregory Maguire, and this is just scratching the surface. Short of Neil Gaiman and the Star Trek captains, there are very few icons of geek culture who have not appeared on the show.

I definitely recommend listening to Geek’s Guide, and you can start anywhere. Just scroll through the episode list and find some people and topics you want to hear about. They also have a Patreon, which is a great way to support the show.

Timesuck
Hosted by Dan Cummins

This is a new one for me. I’ve listened to Dan Cummins’ comedy for a long time on Pandora, and recently he started running ads after his comedy clips for the podcast, so I went to check it out. Basically Dan explores topics that go down the rabbit hole, no matter what the subject, as long as there is a plethora of information about it. Some of those topics include flat earth conspiracy theories, belief in Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster, the history of alien sightings, an examination on Walmart, conspiracy theories about lizard illimunati, and historical overviews of Hitler’s rise to power, Lyndon Johnson and his fascination with his own penis, and a variety of serial killers including Charles Manson, H.H. Holmes, and Ted Bundy.

Dan is one of the few people I’ve heard successfully carry an entire podcast by himself, he has only had a guest on the show one time so far (though it was hilarious and fun), and manages to keep me interested. He also intersperses some great comedy among his examinations, including my personal favorite bit about sucking the nipples of Irish kings (true story, by the way) during The Dead Do Tell Tales, and a hilarious anecdote about his occasionally obstinate daughter Monroe and a plastic dog during Robert the Cursed Doll.

Though I only just started listening to this series a few weeks ago, I highly recommend it.

Nerdist
Hosted by Chris Hardwick

I am probably one of the few people in the world who really didn’t know about Nerdist until somewhat recently. Last year I had a brief obsession with Maria Bamford after listening to her comedy and watching her Netflix series Lady Dynamite (which if you haven’t seen it is basically a very weird and meta dissection of the comedy genre), and found her interview on the show. Nerdist is just shy of a thousand episodes so there is a LOT of material, and as is the case with Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, if you just search for the name of any geek icon you’re likely to find an interview. My personal favorites are the interviews with Patrick Stewart, who has a fantastic sense of humour and seems to genuinely enjoy his time with Chris and the Nerdist crew. Not much else to say, just a really great place to find interviews with nerd icons.

Ardent Atheist
Hosted by Emery Emery

2013 was my year of atheism. It began with God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, then Letting Go of God by Julia Sweeney and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and from there I went into an infinite spiral of atheist culture. One of my personal favorites was the Austin, Texas based Atheist Experience, a public access call-in show where a small panel of atheists basically listen to a bunch of hillbillies give weak explanations for the existance of God while the panel responds with some quiet and sane logic. At any rate, during this time I searched for some atheist podcasts and very briefly listened to part of an episode of Ardent Atheist, but I think at the time I got distracted and forgot to come back.

Recently I tried listening again and found that this show is pretty fantastic. Emery is fiery and hilarious, prone to outbursts and often flying into a screaming rage, but always about important injustices in the world that should be addressed, and even so, he still listens to opposing views. The panel is almost always made of atheists, so there isn’t exactly a lot of theological debate so much as there is a collective examination of the theological ideas of others, and a lot of time spent calling out religious nut-jobs who do real damage in the world. If you’re looking for a good show based in atheism, this is a great one.

Serial
Hosted by Sarah Koenig

I remember hearing a lot of buzz about Serial a few years ago when it first came out. I never listened to it, and I briefly had it confused with Thrilling Adventure Hour, so when I downloaded the first episode I fully expected a comedy podcast, having no idea what I was walking into. What I found was the incredibly compelling story of the murder of Hae Min Lee, supposedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison. Sarah Koenig is a journalist who examines the many flaws in the handling of the case, and really attempts to get to the bottom of who exactly killed Hae Min Lee, and most importantly, if Adnan was convicted when he is really innocent.

For his part, Adnan maintains his innocence, and every claim he makes about the circumstances surrounding the murder turn out to be true, while his representation at the hands of an attourney whose health was failing was very questionable. An alibi who never appeared during the trial ends up involved, and Sarah and her producer go through every aspect of the case, from a mysterious stranger in the park the day Hae’s body was found, to the incredibly weird Jay, a friend of Adnan’s who claims to have helped Adnan bury the body of Hae and then became the state’s star witness by testifying against Adnan.

I can warn you that there isn’t really a clear ending to this story. As of this writing, Adnan is still in prison, although Sarah’s work with Serial was responsible for getting Adnan another trial, and details are still sparse. There is a second season of Serial about the defection of U.S. soldier Bo Bergdahl, which admittedly I didn’t find quite as interesting and which I haven’t finished, but the first season is incredibly gripping, although be prepared for some disturbing details. I actually listened to the entirety of the first season in one night, beginning at around 8pm and ending the next morning, absolutely exhausted and barely awake but unable to stop listening.

And for what it’s worth, I think Jay did it.

Welcome to Night Vale
Hosted by Cecil Palmer (played by Cecil Baldwin)
Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Welcome to Night Vale is the first podcast on this list to be completely fictional. It is somewhat like a radio play, except that the majority of episodes are narrated by a single character, Cecil Palmer, the host of a public radio station in the desert town of Night Vale. Night Vale is basically an incredibly creepy little town where Lovecraftian horrors are commonplace and where the ordinary is treated as unusual and the macabre as ordinary. From the first episode it’s clear that the central protagonist Cecil is gay, and in love with a newcomer in town, a scientist named Carlos. As times goes on, Night Vale’s popularity has grown and they’ve done several live episodes which include a full cast of actors portraying their characters in the style of a radio play. Night Vale’s popularity has led to the publication of a novel based in the town, and a second novel to be released soon.

The series begins a little slowly, and honestly I’m not quite as interested in the horror aspects of the show, simply because there isn’t one concrete narrative. The story is not really a story so much as a free form exploration of the town, with several recurring characters and running gags. Some episodes are better than others, but the writing has gotten consistently better as time goes on. Every episode also features a “weather” segment, which is a musical break, always featuring music from independent artists. You’re likely to find some cool new artists to follow through the weather segments.

Terms
By Spoke Media

Terms is another fictional podcast, very much done in the style of a radio play. Terms is more or less an examination of Donald Trump’s rise to becoming the president of the United States. But in Terms, things play out very differently. The central character is the outgoing president of the United States, Oliver Pierce, a Republican who managed to gain incredible popularity and revitalized his party, popular among both Republicans and Democrats. On election night it becomes clear that Republican candidate Charles Dunwalke, a malicious, maniacal anarchist who wants to provoke war around the world and disrupt the foundation of American principles (and who is, VERY clearly, a fictional representation of Donald Trump), is going to become the next preisdent, and Pierce begins to play a dangerous political game to ensure that Dunwalke doesn’t take office.

The writing of this story is very cliche, and I found myself rolling my times at least once during every episode, because the dialogue is very similar to the corny dialogue of crime procedurals, and the acting varies from pretty good to absolutely bad. Still, the story is interesting and the episodes aren’t incredibly long, so it’s very easy to get sucked in. The music, while a bit cliche, is also pretty good, and a little bit scary. But that might just be because I’ve primarily listened to the show while driving around at night.

Myths and Legends
Hosted by Jason Weiser

I’m really glad that this podcast exists. It’s one of those shows that is both entertaining and educational. Think of any famous legend, from mythology, literature or history, and it’s likely that it’s been touched on in this show, or will be at some point. Jason will choose a topic, and then combine several versions of the mythology surrounding it into one clear narrative, telling it in the form of a story, while adding in his own commentary. There’s some great ambient music underscoring the stories as well. He’s touched on topic from Greek and Arthurian legends to the history of The Little Mermaid, and my personal favorite, a two-part episode surrounding the events of the life of Pocahontas, told from the perspective of the settlers as well as the natives. Jason seems to make it a point to make sure that even during episodes with intense subject matter involving sex and death, he tries to keep the show fairly family friendly, which means that often sexuality is alluded to rather than spoken about explicitly, which admittedly I find a little annoying, because explicit sexuality and gore are an important part of these legends. He doesn’t do the legends any disservice, however, it’s just one element of the show that bothers me a little. Still, all in all this is a great podcast, and like Timesuck with Dan Cummins, it’s not only entertaining but really informative. There’s nothing better than learning while being entertained.

Some Random Facts About Me

I am gay. I am attracted to both cisgender and transgender males. As far as I know there isn’t a specific classification for this, because it isn’t pansexual since I’m not attracted to trans females. I think I shall call it Ultimate Level Gay

I identify as non-binary gender with a leaning towards male.

I am a Hufflepuff

I play piano

I’m a Baritone, though I was a Bass 2 in high school chorus

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder

As a child I had Deinophobia (fear of dinosaurs), Mysophobia (fear of contamination by dirt or germs), and I was also afraid of words that began the letter “T”

I was raised by Christians but it never took, I went through an incredibly religious Christian phase, then became Pagan, and finally became an “IDGAF Atheist”

I am left handed

The first time I tried to write a novel I was twelve, the villain was a leviathan who could transform into a human and controlled water, and the book was called Horizon Zero. For exactly no reason whatsoever. I was twelve.

As a child my favorite movie was Little Mermaid. I used to put my legs into a pillowcase to be my fin, and sit at the coffee table and pretend I was Ariel singing on the rock in the sea. I even pushed my chest out the way she does.

My all time favorite album is Boys For Pele by Tori Amos

I put so much cream in my coffee that it usually turns cold

My guilty pleasure artist is Nicki Minaj. As an artist I find her reprehensible, but I know every word to Stupid Hoe and Roman’s Revenge.

I can name every Madonna album in chronological order, including the compilations

My favorite classical musician is Mozart, and my two favorite pieces are Lacrimosa and Rondo alla Turca

I hate plain chocolate ice cream

The first five albums I ever received, in order, were: Oops! I Did It Again (Britney Spears), Beware of Dog (Lil Bow Wow), Unleash the Dragon (Sisqo), In The Zone (Britney Spears), and The Very Best of Cher

The first anime I ever watched from beginning to end was Pretear

I want to be a writer, and an English major, even though I failed Creative Writing and English 12 in high school. In fairness, I failed those classes because I was lazy and refused to finish my work, not because I’m bad at those subjects.

Aside from the normal everyday colors you learn in grade school, I learned all of my intermediate colors (like Aquamarine, Teal, Periwinkle, etc.) from Microsoft Works Word Processor

I once tried to write a fanfiction novel based on Kingdom Hearts called Kingdom Spades (I didn’t come up with the name, my best friend at the time insisted upon it). Interestingly, I invented Drive Mode in my story before I saw it in Kingdom Hearts II.

I’m hypersexual. A therapist told me this. That’s how I know it’s true. Also, ask my ex-boyfriends, they will confirm.

My first crush was Nick Carter, followed by Lance Bass, Tom Felton, and Liam Aiken. Clearly I had a thing for twinks when I was a kid.

In a related story, I dyed my hair blonde when I was eleven because of my crush on Draco Malfoy

I once lived with a Presbyterian Minister and his family for two months. I convinced his son (who was the same age as me, by the way) to play “you show me yours I’ll show you mine.” On several different occasions.

My favorite animals are pigs, rats and cows

The first song I ever learned completely to play on piano, through sheet music and without any help, was Hello by Evanescence

My first date was the movie Juno. The movie sucked, but I did get to hold the guy’s hand and make out with him in his car afterward.

The first guy I ever had sex with was someone I had met an hour before.

When I was eighteen, I went through a severe depression and identity crisis in which I destroyed everything I’d ever written, including close to two-hundred poems, three novels I was writing, and all journal/blog entries I’d ever written.

The first boy I ever kissed was cheating on his boyfriend with me. I knew this going in but I didn’t care. For the record, it was an amazing kiss, and my heart was broken for months when he chose his boyfriend over me.

The song that makes me happiest is Watchin’ by Freemasons

(EDIT 2/18/16: I’m going to overrule myself here and say that the song that makes me happiest is Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox)

The song that makes me saddest is The Bed Song by Amanda Palmer

(EDIT 2/18/16: Overruling myself again, there are a LOT of songs I could choose but I think Iris by Goo Goo Dolls is the song that makes me saddest)

If I ever get a tattoo, I want it to be lyrics. Most likely the chorus of Iris by Goo Goo Dolls

When I was fifteen I had an online pseudonym of Roku Matsamura

I have a fear of heights with one exception. From the time I was twelve until fifteen I used to play on an old rickety abandoned railroad bridge above a river, complete with loose boards, huge holes in the bridge, and I even did this during winter when the whole thing was slick with ice. I was not afraid.

I once fell in love with a fictional character from a television show. And I mean that I really and genuinely believed we were together.

I had two imaginary friends throughout my teenage years. Their names were Lance and Max. They originated as my “good” and “evil” sides, but it was more like “naughty” and “nice” sides. Lance was the naughty, foul-mouthed one, he was tall with blonde spiky hair, and Max had shoulder-length straight brown hair. Over time, Lance became the only one to usually speak, while Max was constantly somber and emotional. Eventually, I went through a bad breakup and told them to go away. I didn’t see them much after that, but the last time I spoke to them they were in love with one another and were together as a couple.

When I was fourteen, my best friend was a stuffed dog. I talked to it, took it from room to room with me, and slept with it.

I have acid reflux and can burp on command.

I become a complete needy emotional baby when I’m sick. It’s best if I’m in a relationship during these times, and woe betide the poor boy who has to take care of me.

I’m incredibly clingy with friends and especially with boyfriends.

I have a fantasy of a boy whispering sweet nothings into my ear in German.

The first gay-themed movie I ever saw was a German film called Sommersturm

When I see dead animals in the road, I think about coming back with a shovel and burying them in the woods.

The earliest video game I can remember playing in Super Mario Bros, followed by Mega Man 2.

My favorite series of novels as a kid was A Series of Unfortunate Events

Part of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was that I used to go through phases of taping sitcoms and watching the episodes over and over and over again. I taped and watched every single episode of Seinfeld ever made, and watched them so many times I knew them word for word. Strangely, I never actually found the show funny.

One of my all-time favorite video games is Breath of Fire III. I’ve played it many times but never actually beaten it. Maybe I don’t want it to end.

My favorite musical is Into the Woods (the original stage version, not the Disney film)

As a kid my favorite television show was Dragonball Z, and I used to read a magazine called Beckett Dragonball Collector

In my opinion, the greatest video game system ever made was the Sega Dreamcast

My favorite fictional witches are, in ascending order of awesomeness: Luna Lovegood, Myrtle Snow, Elphaba Thropp, and The Witch (portrayed by Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods)

 

I attribute my creativity, love of fantasy and adventure, and love of music, to Final Fantasy VII.

On a similar note, the next few facts are going to be all Final Fantasy related. I first learned to play piano so that I could play songs from Final Fantasy VII.

I have never played through Final Fantasy VIII without using Zell Dincht in my party, primarily because I’ve pretty much always had a crush on him.

I have spent something like two-hundred to three-hundred hours playing Final Fantasy XIII, and have never once voluntarily included Snow in my party.

Fran from Final Fantasy XII is one of my all-time favorite Final Fantasy characters, and one of the first songs I ever composed on piano was inspired by Fran’s feelings about leaving the forest.

I’m obsessed with the concept of Mages, particularly their color sorting, with differently coloured mages having access to different spells (black mages cast offensive spells, white mages can heal, green mages can affect stats and both positive and negative statuses, etc.) This system was a big part of what inspired the novel I’m currently writing.

My two favorite fictional heroes are Lightning Farron from Final Fantasy XIII and Ellen Ripley from Alien

I wish people had tails, similar to Zidane from Final Fantasy IX and Goku from Dragonball Z. I think they would be useful, fun, and could be an interesting erogenous zone.

My favorite Final Fantasy villain is Kuja.

My favorite Powerpuff Girl is Bubbles

My favorite female name is Bronwen

My favorite male name is Oliver. Or Wolfgang. I’m not sure I have a difficult time making decisions.

I am generally very indecisive. I’ve spent days not beginning video games because I couldn’t decide what to name my characters.

The Best Songs I Discovered This Year

Before we begin, here’s a random picture of Jeremy Sumpter playing Peter Pan in 2003. To this day 
I’ve never seen this live-action film version of the story, but when I first saw him on the movie cover,
my twelve-year-old heart went pitter patter.

Doing year end wrap-up style blogs is fun, but honestly, if I were to do a blog post about “the top songs of 2015,” I’d be pretty sorely disappointed, but frankly, the last few years haven’t been great years for music, particularly popular music. But then again, that’s just my opinion, and it doesn’t even matter anyway because this post is about my favorite songs that I DISCOVERED this year. So songs in this list are not necessarily new (in fact I don’t think a single song in this list is from this year), but they are songs that I discovered this year and spent a lot of time listening to. Frankly, this list was a lot longer because it was originally “the songs I listened to the most this year,” but I decided it was more fun to go with songs I discovered this year. That’s the rule that I mostly stick to, though some of them are songs I discovered before this year but listened to obsessively this year.

Also this rambling introductory paragraph is a good excuse why you shouldn’t listen to really fast Ben Folds music rambling into your ears because it makes it damn difficult to concentrate. One final thing I want to mention is that unlike most of my other fun little lists, these aren’t in any particular order.

Say Something
A Great Big World

I first heard this song around Christmas 2013 when it became a big hit, and the lyrics really hit me like a brick. 2015 has been a year which, for me, has been primarily defined by crushing depression, loneliness, fear, and a desperate struggle to get over a relationship that lasted three years and ended just before Christmas of 2014. My relationship was strained from the beginning, but when I first heard the words, “Say something I’m giving up on you,” it so perfectly described how I felt in my relationship that seemed completely stuck and moving nowhere. In the silence between us was a sadness and a void, and though I wasn’t ready to say it out loud yet, this song said it for me.

I spent considerable time this year curled up in bed crying and listening to this song, much like I did with Kesha’s “The Harold Song” back when I experienced another traumatic breakup a few years ago. I also want to mention that I usually listen to the original version of the song, though I enjoy the version with Christina Aguilera as well (in fact I was shocked to learn that the girl in the song was Christina because she doesn’t over-sing like usual, and manages to be soft and heartfelt; well done Christina).

Bigger On The Inside
Amanda Palmer

Oh god I think my heart is breaking already. I read Amanda’s book The Art of Asking earlier this year, and by read I mean I listened to the audiobook, and it was nice to hear Amanda’s voice telling the story. Not only that, but the audiobook actually featured ten songs from throughout her career, including the original version of Bigger On The Inside, which was talked about near the end of the book and played before the final chapter of the audiobook. The version of the song featured in the audiobook is simply Amanda, vocal and ukulele, and this song is about trying to deal with her best friend and mentor dying of cancer, as well as the communal heartbreak we all feel all the time; she even references a fan who sent her a letter about being raped, who said that they were scared and wanted to know how to keep fighting. You pretty much can’t listen to this song without your heart completely breaking. It’s gorgeous. When I first heard it I was driving with tears in my eyes.

Love Me Or Leave Me
Kerli

Okay, so I’m suddenly noticing that the majority of the songs I’ve listened to this year are sad, but hey, it’s been an upsetting year. This one I haven’t listened to nearly as much as the others, but I got into a relationship this year that unfortunately only lasted a few months, but early on, he showed me this song, and I loved it both because it reminded me of being with him and because it’s so beautiful. I first heard it while watching Kerli’s performance of various songs from Utopia in Estonia.

Nothing Really Matters
Madonna

I had a BIG Madonna phase this year. There were a few months where I listened to just about nothing but Madonna. I could have chosen quite a few songs here (Angel, Ray of Light, Falling Free, Easy Ride, Erotica, Deeper and Deeper, Vogue, Survival, Runaway Lover, Secret Garden, Human Nature, Music Inferno…. the list goes on and on), but ironically I chose the one Madonna song I discovered AFTER my two-month Madonna binge was completed. I was trying to show off Madonna’s flexibility and the huge amount of ground she’s covered in career to a boyfriend (mentioned earlier) and I remember that the Nothing Really Matters video had seemed kind of cool and creepy, and I found that I accidentally really loved both the video and the song, so I spent a while binge-listening.

Spinning Around
Kylie Minogue

I accidentally found this song a while back when listening to Kylie’s Aphrodite tour, because it was done right after Get Outta My Way, and I can see why because the songs have very similar choruses, so earlier this year I went through a short Kylie phase, and I started exploring some of her older music, and discovered that I really like Spinning Around. I listened to the live version from the Aphrodite tour, and found myself insatiably hungry for the studio version, and once I heard it I pretty much didn’t listen to much else for days on end.

Swallow
Emilie Autumn

I was only vaguely aware of Emilie Autumn before this year, and Fight Like A Girl is actually the only song of hers that I’d ever heard, but only once, when a friend shared the music video upon it’s release. My short-term boyfriend from earlier this year is a huge Emilie Autumn fan, and successfully converted me over to Emilie’s team by showing me her music, her poetry, her writing, and her story of mental illness and her struggle with it. I was very impressed with Emilie upon listening to her Opheliac Companion (which was about eight hours plus), where she talks about how she’s dealt with mental illness, rape, abuse, and expresses her creativity. It was very inspiring. Though Fight Like A Girl remains one of my favorite Emilie songs (it’s a freaking earworm, and it’s a fantastic battle anthem), the song that really one me over was Swallow, which is a six-minute long journey through something that might be underwater and might be floating through the air, and describes the struggle of taking antidepressants and accepting all that comes along with it, because it’s the only way to survive when you’re about to drown.

By the way, I had a very difficult time choosing one Emilie Autumn song because there have been three that I’ve listened to absolutely obsessively: Swallow, Fight Like A Girl, and Opheliac. I highly recommend all three of these, especially Opheliac since I didn’t talk much about it here.

Tusk
Fleetwood Mac

I went through a Fleetwood Mac / Stevie Nicks phase earlier in the year, also influenced by the aforementioned short-term boyfriend, whose favorite music is Stevie. I discovered a lot of songs I didn’t know, or songs I’d heard before but hadn’t given much time to, but I’d absolutely never heard Tusk before and I was shocked that I hadn’t, because it’s such a great uptempo rock song, with something of the feeling of dancing around a campfire mixed with marching band brass. I was pretty surprised that I’d never actually listened to a song that is apparently one of Fleetwood Mac’s hits, but then, they have so many hits that it’s difficult to know when you’ve heard them all.

Lost
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

I’ve had Amanda’s album Theatre Is Evil for a while, and even binge-listened to a few of the songs in the past few years, but I had never actually listened to Lost until I heard it on the audiobook of The Art of Asking. Funnily enough I actually didn’t finish listening to it when I heard it on the audiobook, but I came back to it later and found that it reduced me to a blubbering mess in the midst of all my heartbreak. “No one’s ever lost forever, they are caught inside your heart, if you garden them and water them they make you what you are.” I found myself driving down the road in the middle of the night and crying loudly just listening to this song on repeat (along with Want It Back, another song that’s happy, but heartbreaking).

Rather Be
Clean Bandit

I fell in love with this song the moment I first heard it on the radio back in 2014. Clean Bandit is one of those bands like Freemasons that just gets House music right, and I have a real love for House music. I can’t tell you why exactly, I just love how it seems to have this kind of depth, if that makes sense, and I’m talking about the way it sounds, it sounds deep. Like, physically deep. I know, describing music is something that doesn’t really make sense but there you have it. Anyhow, earlier this year I found myself listening to Rather Be on an infinite loop, and screaming with joy when I heard it. It’s one of the happiest songs I’ve ever heard, and it’s difficult to wear this one out (though I’ve moved on to some other Clean Bandit songs now, I recommend Stronger).

I Just Wanna Dance
Alison Jiear

Now, this song has apparently been kind of a gay party anthem for a few years, thanks to a dance remix, but even though I really enjoy the dance remix, it’s the original version of the song from Jerry Springer: The Opera that I adore. It’s funny, because Jerry Springer: The Opera is as silly and tongue-in-cheek as it sounds, but this song manages to be so incredibly expressive and beautiful, and what begins as the story of a white-trash poledancer turns into a gorgeous song about longing, the desire to cast aside all worry and a deep need to experience life. I found myself crying to this song more than once, and it was my go-to song right after my breakup.


Bernadette
IAMX

This one is a recent find. I’ve known about IAMX for a while, and always enjoyed the song Spit It Out (particularly it’s re-released single version and Imogen Heap’s remix), but I hadn’t really listened to his music in a while, because even though I liked a few of Chris Corner’s songs, and bought Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, nothing really stuck with me much. Earlier this year I decided to watch How To Get Away With Murder, and I was amazed at how great of a show it was, and at the end of the first episode I could hear a song called I Come With Knives, and though I’d never heard the song I immediately recognized Chris’ voice, and it turns out that IAMX is featured in almost every episode of the show, which adds an incredible depth to both the show and the music, because I find certain IAMX songs a lot more meaningful, having memories of the show attached to them.

Bernadette, however, is not featured in How To Get Away With Murder, and I think I must have found it just by seeing it in a related links bar on Youtube while watching other IAMX songs, and the moment I heard it I was addicted. Interestingly, I’ve gotten my little sister addicted to the song too. It’s this carnival cabaret song with toy pianos and strings and a theremin, and falls somewhere between Pink Floyd’s The Trial and some kind of creepy carnival dance. It’s entrancing.

~

There were a lot more than eleven, but I decided to narrow the list a bit. I didn’t include any of Ben Folds’ music, because I went through a phase earlier this year listening to his album Way To Normal, and also had a huge Dresden Dolls bender as well, but these are pretty much the big highlights of the songs that kept me company this year.

And now, here’s another sexy picture of Dylan O’Brien. I may need to make this a regular feature of blog posts.