Wednesday, November 30, 2022

From the Archives - Bits & Bobs Volume V


This is the fifth installment in the “From the Archives – Bits & Bobs” series. Volume I is here, Volume II is here, Volume III is here, and Volume IV is here. I got the idea for this series from all the published writers who, when they run out of new material, basically print their own money by publishing old letters or diaries that had just been gathering dust. Surely they edit and polish the stuff though, and choose only the best bits, which is what I’ve also done with the following passages, from letters I wrote to my friends or brothers. I’ve provided, for each snippet, the locale I was writing from. Enjoy please enjoy.

(Below is a fairly representative photo from those days. You can tell from my grin that I either had no idea how foolish I looked, or just didn’t care.)

July 17, 1991 - Berkeley

Remember all the hoopla surrounding the solar eclipse? Well that was barely noticeable here in the Bay Area. We’ve had a dark sky for weeks: nothing but cloud cover. I have had the blahs for days, real bad. I can’t seem to focus on anything but the negative. I try to count my blessings, but when the sky is this grey for this long, nothing seems to satisfy. It’s like the Book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (1:2) and “The eye is not satisfied with seeing,/ Nor the ear filled with hearing” (1:8). Of course, that narrator had it easy, because he was talking about all things “under the sun” and there is no sun to be had here. I just get so glum, I end up with songs like Pink Floyd’s “Dogs” in my head:

       So have a good drown
       As you go down
       All alone
       Dragged down by the stone

That was my feeling this morning when I looked outside and found another dreary day facing me. Even rain would be a nice change, but the sky outside is one of thick formless cloud cover, far too high up to break the monotony with rainfall. A day should ideally begin with a lovely dawn, breaking into a sunny yet cool morning, followed by a hot sun burning directly overhead at noon. This accomplished, the heat should taper off into a lazy sunny afternoon, ideally broken up by a short thundershower to set the scene for a slightly cooler evening and finally dusk. But for the last few days, nothing like this has transpired. Ten in the morning has been identical to noon, to 2 p.m., and to the evening. It’s been bland nothingness.

But then I looked out our sliding glass doors and was struck by something out toward the horizon. Out of a background of stony grey, I saw the island of Alcatraz, framed perfectly by the only structure that wears fog well: the Golden Gate bridge. I have seen Alcatraz countless times before, and never with so much as a second thought. But now it was the only brightly lit thing I had seen in days. Somehow the sun had found a loophole in the cloud cover and aimed itself right at the former prison, lighting it brilliantly. The scene looked like something out of The Wizard of Oz, with its emerald buildings shining as if lit from within. I grabbed the binoculars Dad gave me last Christmas and got the best look of Alcatraz I’ve ever had, as if the bridge and island were right in my backyard. That was the whole morning—only a few minutes long, and only out there on that island—but we had a morning nonetheless, and while it lasted “Dogs” evaporated and was replaced in my head with another Pink Floyd song, “A Pillow of Winds”:

        Green fields,
        A cold rain is falling
        In a golden dawn
        And I rise like a bird
        In the haze
        When the first rays
        Touch the sky
        And the night winds die

The appearance of this oddly localized shaft of sun was so brief, I thought I might sink all the way back down into my earlier despondency, but I didn’t. Somehow, that little taste of sunshine seems like enough to sustain me for a while. After all, this is California. The sun is bound to come out soon. Right?

August 17, 1992 - Berkeley

School starts in about a week. The realization that this is my final semester is slowly sinking in. Last night I had a dream I went to interview for a job with a former employer. I wore this light blue cotton suit with white vertical stripes that was totally inappropriate, and in fact looked pretty ridiculous. Some receptionist kept trying to turn me away because of my suit, and due to my lack of ability with the new word processing software, and the fact that I didn’t even have an appointment. I kept trying to convince her that I could learn the new software quickly, but she wouldn’t believe me. Finally the office manager recognized me from when I’d worked there, and told me someone would talk to me in a few minutes.

While I was waiting in the lobby, I realized my suit was stretched really tightly over my body. Unbuttoning the jacket (which had buttons all the way to the collar, making it even less appropriate for the business world), I was horrified to find I was wearing another suit jacket underneath it. Unbuttoning this jacket, I found not one but two dress shirts, one beneath the other. I even had two pairs of shoes: some giant white Nike Air Super Solo Magnum Team Force Court Flight basketball shoes, and underneath those, some more conservative black Reebok tennis shoes. I began to strip off all my clothing and sort it by appropriateness so that I could end up with one decent outfit. Just as I was down to my underwear behind the two piles, the president of the company walked out to meet me. Glancing at my watch, I realized I was ten minutes late for my first class, and since this was the first day of the semester, I would be disenrolled from college if I didn’t get my ass over there. I fled from the building, leaving behind all the clothes.

January 10, 1994 – San Francisco

I almost got shot. E— and I had driven all the way to Ventura to visit friends and arrived at like 2 a.m. Our friend D— lives on a little street called Bath which is in a fairly nice area, near the beach. Bath Street isn’t all that wide—parking along it is illegal—so it’s kind of like a little alley. We were parked temporarily while unloading and I was taking the bikes off the back of the car when a car drove by us really slow. D—, being new to the neighborhood, thought it was either a neighbor or somebody looking for directions, but the guy didn’t stop. He just drove on, down the dead-end street, and D— said, “Wow, that guy looked at me really funny.” I hadn’t actually looked; I was busy unhooking bungee cords (if you aren’t paying attention and one snaps you, it’s quite painful, you know). Well, after turning around the car drove by again, really slowly, and again I didn’t look. D— was curious, though, and looked in at the guy. A short distance later, the guy stopped and got out of the car.

I didn’t want any trouble, and have adopted a big-city policy of minding my own business, so I just continued with the bikes, unlocking them and juggling the Straight-Jacket and Bad Bones (which sound like handy ghetto weapons but are actually U-lock accessories). I could hear the guy saying to D—, “What’s a mattah, man, you ain’t useta seein’ dudes like me ‘round heah?” D— said no, and the guy came back, “Man, you lookin’ at me funny, man, like ya got a problem wit me or sumpin.’” At this point D— came back with a response which he will never live down: “I think you’re paranoid.”

I glared at D— at this point, but I still didn’t look at the stranger (perhaps out of fear of his thinking that I, too, was looking at him funny). Had I looked, I would have seen him pull a handgun out from his jacket as he yelled, “Paranoid? I’ll show you paranoid!” At this point, E—, who clearly possessed the most presence of mind of us all, rabbited. D— quickly backed up towards the garage door, and I continued to mess with the lock. Not having seen the gun, I simply locked the lock and tested its weight in my hand, evaluating its effectiveness in bashing in a human skull. I mean, hell, I’d never scrapped with a gun-toting lunatic before so it never occurred to me the guy was armed. I figured we had a minor altercation on our hands and we had him outnumbered. I was puzzled by D—’s obvious terror as he smeared himself up against the garage door with his arms up, saying, “No problem, man, no problem!”

I looked over, finally, at this point, and the man was bending over. Not having seen the gun, I thought he was picking up something off the ground to throw at us. I was just standing there, like a great big dopy-looking target, trying to remember if I’d packed my mace in my bag. (It’s actually this new jalapeno pepper spray, which has now been made illegal in the state of California. Ironic, isn’t it, that handguns and automatic weapons are legal here, but harmless self-defense sprays are not?) Anyway, I finally realized what was going on: the guy was bending over to get a clip out of his sock. He loaded his gun and pointed it right at D—, and by this time there was nowhere for me to go. You don’t want to move too quickly, you know, when a lunatic is pointing a loaded gun.

Oddly enough, in the moment I didn’t feel that scared. I was thinking to myself that if the guy really wanted to go out and shoot someone, he’d have loaded his gun before leaving the house. Keeping the clip in his sock and reaching down to get it seemed kind of theatrical. Of course this was probably pure rationalization—my brain’s desperate effort to keep panic at bay by pretending the situation wasn’t that dire. Meanwhile D— just kept saying, “No problem, man, no problem!” until finally the guy got back in his car, where his woman had been waiting (I now noticed), and they drove off.

At that moment, I realized the gravity of the situation, and my teeth began chattering uncontrollably. We ran into the house, where E— had scared the daylights out of D—’s wife and her friend who hadn’t recognized her and wondered why this strange woman had suddenly burst through the door. E— had looked for a phone but failed to find once since the only one in sight was a crazy transparent terminator-style phone that look like a science project. It was at least five minutes before we were able to actually think straight, fetch the phone, and dial 911. An officer arrived within minutes, and we gave him a description of the man. (Interestingly, I had somehow remembered the car as a white ‘70s boxy thing, whereas D— was saying it was a dark, modern one—but I kept my mouth shut. I mean, the man had had a gun and I didn’t even realize it: I was clearly not star witness material.)

The cop said, “You’ll be interested to know that a man of the same description robbed a Motel 6 a few blocks away from here about two minutes before you called. We had four officers in the area but nobody got him.” I guess if we’d called earlier, they might have caught him in the act. On the other hand, people might have been shot.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Why Wordle?


Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not one for crossword puzzles, Sudokus, etc., and I’m certainly not looking for new ways to spend time with my smartphone. I’d rather create than solve, and as regards the digital realm my typical advice is to log off and do something useful. And yet, here I am, recommending the Wordle as a fun little puzzle and a way to (gasp) connect online.

What is Wordle?

I’ll save you a google search: Wordle is a word game you can play on the New York Times website. Every day they put up a new puzzle (i.e., a new word you have to guess). You can learn how to play in about 30 seconds and don’t need a subscription or login or anything. And because it’s the same word for everyone, you can compete with others.

Why I resisted Wordle

Here’s my introduction to the Wordle. My brain was very tired after a long workday when my phone, annoyingly, bleeped at me. At first I didn’t react. I couldn’t handle it. These stupid phones hector us all day long with all their notifications … such an intrusion. And yet, people seem to welcome this. It’s like those whackos who put ketchup on a hot dog.

After a delay—designed to convince myself I’m not my phone’s bitch—I swiped down to check the notification. Lo and behold, it was actually something good: a text from my daughter Alexa! “You ever try the NYT Wordle?” she’d written. “Seems like it would be right up your alley. We can compete to see who solves it in the fewest moves.” She followed this with a little devil emoticon.

I instantly recoiled. As I said, I don’t like puzzles. My only exception is the Jumble (i.e., anagram) in the newspaper, which I’ll do only because I can generally solve it in like 30 seconds (and if I get stuck on any of the words I just shrug it off and bail). Since the Wordle has similarities to anagrams, my daughter thought I’d like it. But “we can compete” is not necessarily an attractive proposal when coming from her … she’s a born competitor, and when we play cards she usually wins. Sometimes I’ll lose like two or three games in a row and think, what’s the point? Hasn’t it been definitively established that she’s sharper? Is this Wordle thing just another way for her to lose respect for me—to roll her eyes at the terrible toll age is taking on my brain?

I started to text my daughter back but got fed up with the tedious process of typing on my smartphone. “Maybe ugh h hmm if did it to to I’d fffd go to that position,” I texted. I was freestyling, roaming randomly across the keyboard and blindly accepting autosuggestions. I could not go on. I put my phone away for the night.

Upon reflection the next day, I decided I’d been rude, and to make amends I relented and tried the Wordle. Surprisingly, I liked it right away.

What’s cool about Wordle

Here is my first-ever Wordle result:

My first guess was a complete wash: all the letters in my trial word were wrong. At first it seemed like I’d just totally wasted one of my six tries, but actually, I was making progress: I’d ruled out two of the five vowels and two rather common consonants. I have to admit, the minor triumph of gaining useful information, even without the reward of a yellow or green tile, was refreshing given how often these days (in non-gaming scenarios) I feel like I’m just treading water.

With a game like chess, I never know how to proceed, but with Wordle I was able to continue making decent guesses based on a combination of logic and intuition. And, as you can see, I did solve the puzzle. Nowadays, with around thirty Wordles under my belt, I wouldn’t be pleased about needing five guesses, but in the moment I felt satisfied, and I hadn’t had to work very hard.

But the really fun part was comparing notes with Alexa. She took five tries too, and I got to look at her finished card and note her strategy. 

This is one of the other really cool things about Wordle: you “show your work.” It’s not like with a crossword, maze, word search, Bingo, or Sudoku, where all completed puzzles look identical. With Wordle you get a sequential view of how the solution was achieved. For example, Alexa used “MODUS” which is barely a word, in the sense that we kind of stole it from the phrase modus operandi which is not technically English. Obviously lots of words have such origins (e.g., cafĂ©, alumnae) but really, when’s the last time you heard somebody use “modus”? Probably Alexa wasn’t hoping to solve the puzzle with this guess, but was testing two vowels in one go, which is smart.

The social aspect

As noted in these pages (here, here, and here), I’m not a fan of social media and texting. I didn’t even let my kids have phones until they were like 18, and my younger daughter still doesn’t use one. But it’s nice to have some contact with Alexa, especially since I’m an empty nester now, and the Wordle is a good excuse to check in daily, and a convenient method. A phone call requires both parties to be available concurrently, which is rare.

Try this with your college kid: send a text saying, “Is everything okay? Do you need anything? What’s new? Are you making friends? Getting enough sleep?” My guess is you won’t get much of a response. But the simple message “Wordle in 4” is either throwing down the gauntlet (if you’re first), or inviting your kid to compare her result, which kicks off a nice, easy dialogue. For example, looking at Alexa’s solution to that first Wordle, I noticed something in common with mine: we both tried “DOWDY.” I texted, “Great minds think alike, and so do ours, apparently!” This earned me an LOL, which is arguably the quintessential affirmation of our time. Which brings us to…

The MOULS files

On October 28, I got this Wordle result:

I was surprised by a couple of aspects of Alexa’s strategy with this one:

First off, she didn’t carry forward the E and A from her first guess. This ruined her chances of solving in two tries, but then how good were those chances, anyway? (More on this later.) And then she “guessed” MOULS, which is not a word. I mean, okay, it’s recognized as a valid Scrabble word, and Wordle accepted it, but what the hell? I’ve never heard it, and the dictionary app on my phone doesn’t have it. The prospect of winning in four moves didn’t seem well served by this entry. Neither did her next “guess,” SPANE.

Well, even though MOULS didn’t gain her much in this round, she tried it again a day or two later. I texted, “Mouls cannot be a word, can it?” This, combined with a random photo of our cat, kicked off a nice dialogue:

Thus did MOULS become a thing. A week or so later I crashed and burned for the first time, on the word PINEY, which seems about as abstract and non-wordlike as MOULS, but which Alexa somehow got in a mere three moves. I was devastated. Yeah, of course I recognize that this is just a silly game, with nothing hanging in the balance, but man … I just felt so defeated and low, especially when I compared our cards:

I complained, “You’ve got better mouls.” She replied, “Yeah, you’ve gotta embrace the mouls!” She tried to console me: “Well, at least you don’t have a year-long streak that got broken! Relatively early for a miss.” I replied, “Now you’re just rubbing it in.” She came back with, “Sorry, my intention is not to cause further mouls!”

I looked some more at my losing card and realized my last guess was really stupid: I’d put a D in it even though Wordle had told me there was no D. I had just been swinging wild, in desperation. I was also growing increasingly irritated at my own irritation. Why get all bent out of shape over a stupid game?

“No worries, the whole thing is just a pain in the mouls anyway,” I replied. What a useful catch-all word this was proving to be. And just like that, it’s entered our private lexicon. (Well, not entirely private: as Alexa has noted, her Autofill now suggests “mouls.”) A week or two later when I nailed a Wordle in three tries, she texted, “The mouls were with you today.”

Can the Wordle change us?

Some weeks into our Wordle dialogue, Alexa texted me with a discovery: “Did you know Wordle has a hard mode? You need to use every known letter in each word.” I replied that this is what I’ve always done anyway, risking the heartbreak of failure for the prospect of a better score (i.e., fewer guesses). So she switched over, with the eventual result that she crashed and burned—for the first time—on BAKER, which is one of these deadly words that offer too many possible candidates. For example, in this case you could waste a lot of tries on words ending in –AKER (e.g., FAKER, MAKER, TAKER). Ruling out several possible leading consonants with one “guess” (that wouldn’t, couldn’t include known letters) would be safer in this case.

But notwithstanding the end of her streak, Alexa came to embrace the riskier path that can lead to greater glory. I put forth that playing in the easier mode would be “like riding [your bike] up Wildcat when you could ride up Lomas Cantadas.” Alexa, who has suffered on both climbs, saw my point: “Time to go big or go home,” she replied.


I’ve only been at this about a month, but I’ve had some fairly odd games. Look at this one: nothing but green.

And here’s its evil twin:

Victory lap

And finally, check this out:

How do you like them mouls?

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Monday, November 14, 2022

Workout Megamix Liner Notes - Part VI: Recent Updates (continued)

Hear my playlist!

Hear my entire Megamix (200+ songs) on Spotify - click here!


As you may have seen last week, I’ve appended my original workout music playlist (from years ago) to include a bunch of new songs. Well, not actually new, and not always even newer, but stuff I more recently realized is just perfect for exercising to indoors. I got to half of these tracks last time, and here are the rest. It’s not just a list, but also the liner notes: not the ones from the musical artists, which would of course be plagiarism, but my notes on why I like a song and/or anything else interesting about it.

I’m also including, as an appendix, the complete list of all my favorite workout songs since I originally started this project. Enjoy please enjoy.

Liner Notes – Dana’s Ultimate Superfly Workout Megamix Part VI

Icky Thump - The White Stripes

              The first few White Stripes albums were amazing, but then their fifth album pretty much sucked. Critics seemed to like it, but screw them. I almost gave up on this band but then went ahead and checked out “Icky Thump,” their sixth (and alas, final) album. Daaaaaamn! The whole collection is kickass! Pretty much any of the songs on it would be a solid addition to your megamix, but this track, along with 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues and Martyr for my Love for You, are particularly good.

Loot My Body - Man Man

              This song has it all: it’s fast, it’s funny, it rocks, and it somehow puts me in touch with my inner hipster while mocking hipsters and making me relieved I don’t seem to have an outer hipster. I think it takes a pretty special song to do all that.

Move Your Body - Sia

              Okay, so Sia is one of those acts I decided to check out because of an Eminem song. I liked her background vocals in Beautiful Pain so I checked out a Sia disc. (Yes, an actual disc, as I’m a Spotify newb.) My first impression was wow, she really needs a better songwriter (e.g., someone like Eminem). Her lyrics are so repetitive and uninspired. At the same time, her songs do have a good energy, and half the time riding indoors I’m cross-eyed and brain-dead anyway, and upon reflection I have concluded that this song, and others on her “This Is Acting” album, are perfect for indoor workouts. Also, one of her concert tours was called “Nostalgic for the Present,” which I think is clever (in an albeit cynical way).

Non-State Actor - Soundgarden

              For many years, I thought “Down on the Upside” was Soundgarden’s final album. They’d been releasing an album every couple years during their heyday, and then they broke up, and I thought that was that. Well, while I wasn’t looking, they quietly got back together and recorded “King Animal,” after a sixteen-year hiatus. This album almost passed me by completely, but a couple years ago I came to wonder (for reasons I can’t recall) if the novel Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov might have been an influence on the band. I researched this a bit and though I never found anything to support my theory, I did come across this last album and discovered it’s fricking great. If Non-State Actor doesn’t get you amped up during your workout, nothing will. Also check out By Crooked Steps, Bones of Birds, Black Saturday, and A Thousand Days Before.

Not the Same Anymore - The Strokes

              Okay, so this is another band I lost track of, and then suddenly there was this new album, “The New Abnormal,” which dropped at almost exactly the same time the U.S. went into shelter-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that regard, the title of this album seems incredibly prescient. And it’s a kickass collection, definitely one of their finest. Not the Same Anymore starts off kind of mellow but builds nicely until it’s rocking plenty hard, and then it goes out like a lamb. Very cool indeed. Other good workout tracks from this album are Why Are Sundays So Depressing, The Adults are Talking, and Bad Decisions.

Pony - Ginuwine

              This is a workout megamix recommendation from my daughter Alexa. It’s amusing right off the bat with background vocals from some guy with an impossibly low voice. Then the proper singing kicks in, of course, or the song would be nothing but a gag. This is kind of an R&B style song, I think, so it’s kind of a departure from the general feel of my playlist, which never hurts. Very solid beat here without causing the kind of head-thrashing that eventually makes your neck sore.

Safe From Harm - Massive Attack

              This is a band I started listening to all the way back in 1991 when I was still in college. I rediscovered Massive Attack because my daughter wandered into their oeuvre and put a lot of their music on a playlist she made for me. Safe From Harm is a bit different from the rest of my megamix it that it’s trip hop instead of rock or rap. But don’t worry, it’s fast and rhythmic enough to keep your pedals turning.

Smile Like You Mean It - The Killers

              This is one of those anthem-like exuberant songs that just go well with exercise. Heck, if I were one of those people who can dance, I would surely dance to this. It’s probably not one for your everyday mix because it’s a bit repetitive and simple, but gosh, it’s great for working out. Another good Killers song is Mr. Brightside.

Soul of a Man - Beck

             I cannot keep up with Beck. He has just put out so much stuff, and nobody ever tells me. It’s like I ought to subscribe to a music magazine or something, but to my earlier point, music critics are morons, and Rolling Stone has tobacco ads (which for me is an automatic boycott). But I digress. I stumbled across Beck’s eleventh studio album, “Modern Guilt,” more than a decade after its release, and although great music often has to grow on you gradually, Soul of a Man grabbed me instantly—I was like, “Holy shit, this song is awesome!” It’s also pretty short (about 2-½ minutes) which can feel like a relief during a workout if, like me, you often rest for just a bit between tracks.

Stop - Jane’s Addiction

              For me, this song is all about nostalgia. It brings me back to my UC Santa Barbara days. Jane’s Addiction played live on the UCSB campus as part of Extravaganza1989 and I’ll never forget it. Not the concert itself, mind you, since I didn’t attend, but the fact of it. A friend said the show sucked because the band members were totally drunk. But this song—that is, the recording they made when sober—is a great fit for indoor workouts. “Stop—now go!

Thrift Shop - Macklemore

              This is a fun, funny song with a nice bouncy beat that’s great to ride along to. I absolutely love thrift shopping, and because my daughter turned me on to this song, it always reminds me of thrifting with her, and/or with her sister, and since I’m now an empty nester this song only gets more poignant over time. “This is fucking awesome.”

What’s Up Danger - Black Caviar & Blackway

              Look, let me make one thing clear: I’m not a giant fan of comic book movies (though I did like the first Wonder Woman). I’m trying to be a fricking adult, okay? According to Wikipedia, “Black Caviar claimed that ‘when the opportunity to write a song for the new Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film came up, [their] 10-year-old selves were freaking out.’” Yeah, ten is about the perfect age for Spider-Man. But hey, the ticking-clock background effect in this song makes a nice metronome to pedal to, and being able to enjoy lowbrow pop songs is one of the great things about working out indoors.

More reading

Here are links to the rest of my series of Workout Megamix liner notes:

Appendix – the complete Megamix list

For your convenience, here’s the complete list of Ultimate Superfly Workout Megamix tracks (208 songs, 54 artists, about 14 hours of music). Enjoy please enjoy.

‘Till I Collapse - Eminem
16 Shots -  Stefflon Don
20 Dollar - M.I.A.
212 - Azelia Banks
8 Miles & Runnin’ - Freeway/Jay-Z
911 Is a Joke - Public Enemy
A Punchup at a Wedding - Radiohead
A Thousand Days Before - Soundgarden
A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T - The Hives
Adrenaline Rush - Obie Trice
Airbag - Radiohead
Alive - Sia
Ass Like That - Eminem
Average Man - Obie Trice
Bad Girls - M.I.A.
Bad Guy - Eminem
Be Somebody - Kings of Leon
Beautiful - Eminem
Beautiful Pain - Eminem w/ Sia
Best Rapper Alive - Lil Wayne
Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden
Black Saturday - Soundgarden
Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos - Public Enemy
Blow Up the Outside World - Soundgarden
Bones of Birds - Soundgarden
Borders - M.I.A.
Born Free - M.I.A.
Brain Stew - Green Day
Broke as Fuck -  YBN Cordae
Bucky Done Gun - M.I.A.
Burden in My Hand - Soundgarden
Cash Money Millionaires - Lil Wayne
Celebrity Skin - Doja Cat
Cha Ching (Cheq 1-2 Remix) - Lady Sovereign
Charmer - Kings of Leon
Cheers - Obie Trice
Closer - Kings of Leon
Come As You Are - Nirvana
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Cool Cats - Obie Trice
Cops Shot the Kid - Nas
Creep - Radiohead
Cry Now - Obie Trice
Deja Vu - Eminem
Desperation - Eminem
Discombobulated - Eminem
Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man) - Devo
Down In It - Nine Inch Nails
Easy to Crash - Cake
Enter Sandman - Metallica
Everlong - Foo Fighters
Eyelid’s Mouth - Soundgarden
Fell In Love With a Girl - The White Stripes
Fell On Black Days - Soundgarden
Fight the Power - Public Enemy
Follow My Life - Obie Trice
Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Fresh - Devo
Galang - M.I.A.
Get Free - Lana Del Rey
Girls LGBNAF - Ice-T
Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gnat - Eminem
Godzilla - Eminem
Got Hungry - Obie Trice
Hands On You - Eminem/Obie Trice
Happiness is a Warm Gun - The Breeders
Heart In a Cage - The Strokes
Heart Shaped Box - Nirvana
Heartbeat - Ice-T
Hustlers - Nas
Hypnotize - The White Stripes
I Am Not a Human Being - Lil Wayne
I Could Have Lied - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I Go To Work - Kool Moe Dee
I Will - Eminem
Icky Thump - The White Stripes
If I Had - Eminem
I’m Back - Eminem
I’m Your Pusher - Ice-T
It Takes a Muscle - M.I.A.
Jack My Dick - Obie Trice
Jesus Christ Pose - Soundgarden
Just Lose It - Eminem
Killing Lies - The Strokes
Knives Out - Radiohead
Know It Ain’t Right - M.I.A.
Last Nite - The Strokes
Legacy - Eminem
Like Suicide - Soundgarden
Little Acorns - The White Stripes
Loco-Motive - Nas
Lollipop - Lil Wayne
Longview - Green Day
Look In My Eyes - Obie Trice
Loot My Body - Man Man
Lose Yourself - Eminem
Love Me - 50 Cent
Love Me or Hate Me - Lady Sovereign
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
Matangi - M.I.A.
Mockingbird - Eminem
Money Over Bullsh*t - Nas
Mother - Pink Floyd
Move Your Body - Sia
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Mr. Carter - Lil Wayne
Mrs. Officer - Bobby Valentino/Lil Wayne
My Dad’s Gone Crazy - Eminem
My England - Lady Sovereign
My Mom - Eminem
My Name Is - Eminem
My Wave - Soundgarden
No Love - Lil Wayne/Eminem
No Regrets - Eminem
Non-State Actor - Soundgarden
Not Going Back - Nas
Not the Same Anymore - The Strokes
Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
Offend In Every Way - The White Stripes
On the Other Side - The Strokes
One Mic - Nas
One Time 4 Your Mind - Nas
Outshined - Soundgarden
Overfloater - Soundgarden
Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
Paper Planes - M.I.A.
Personal - Ice-T
Pony - Ginuwine
Pump Your Fist - Kool Moe Dee
R.A.K.I.M. - Rakim
Rabbit Run - Eminem
Radio Suckers - Ice-T
Rap God - Eminem
Rewind - Nas
Rhinosaur - Soundgarden
Richard - Obie Trice
Roughnecks - Obie Trice
Safe From Harm - Massive Attack
Santeria - Sublime
Searching With My Good Eye Closed - Soundgarden
Seduction - Eminem
Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
Sexodus - M.I.A.
Shoot Me Down -Lil Wayne
Shooter - Lil Wayne
Sick Of You - Cake
Sing For the Moment - Eminem
Smack That - Eminem
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Smile Like You Mean It - The Killers
So Human - Lady Sovereign
Soul of a Man - Beck
Spoonman - Soundgarden
Stan - Eminem
Stop - Jane’s Addiction
Suck My Kiss - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunshowers - M.I.A.
Superunknown - Soundgarden
Survival - Eminem
Sympathy For the Devil - The Rolling Stones
Take It or Leave It - The Strokes
Take, Take, Take - The White Stripes
Takeover - Jay-Z
Tango - Lady Sovereign
Tarantula - Bob Schneider
Tell Me Why - M.I.A.
That Was Just Your Life - Metallica
The Adults Are Talking - The Strokes
The Air Near My Fingers - The White Stripes
The Day I Tried To Live - Soundgarden
The Day That Never Comes - Metallica
The Girl Tried To Kill Me - Ice-T
The God That Failed - Metallica
The Hardest Button to Button - The White Stripes
The Man Who Sold the World - Nirvana
The Monster - Eminem with Rihanna
The Real Slim Shady - Eminem
The Righteous & The Wicked - Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Unforgiven - Metallica
The Unforgiven III - Metallica
Thrift Shop - Macklemore
Through Being Cool - Devo
Time To Get Ill - Beastie Boys
Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs - Beck
Trunk - Kings of Leon
U Wanna Be Me - Nas
Ultraviolence - Lana Del Rey
Unorthadox Daughter - No Lay
Untutored Youth - The Hives
Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
W.T.P. - Eminem
What I Got - Sublime
What’s Up Danger - Black Caviar & Blackway
What’s Wrong With Them - Lil Wayne
When I Come Around – Green Day
Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Nirvana
Where Is My Mind? - The Pixies
Wherever I May Roam - Metallica
Whip It - Devo
Why Are Sundays So Depressing - The Strokes
Worse Dreams - Soundgarden
Wrong Way - Sublime
XR2 - M.I.A.
Yah Yah - Eminem
You Ain’t Got Nuthin - Lil Wayne
Young Lust - Pink Floyd
Zero Chance - Soundgarden

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Monday, November 7, 2022

Workout Megamix Liner Notes - Part V: Recent Updates

Hear my playlist!

Hear my entire Megamix (200+ songs) on Spotify - click here!


“Don’t smile until February.” These are words of wisdom I heard recently from a third-grade teacher, on how to maintain order in the classroom. But these words could just as easily apply to a winter workout regimen. Staying fit just isn’t as much fun when the cold, dark, and rain send us inside.

Almost seven years ago in these pages, I started a series on what music I recommend for indoor workouts. The tedium of riding rollers or a trainer requires a meticulously curated collection, or “megamix,” of fast-paced, hard driving rock or rap songs. (Do you also need a great playlist for brisk walking or running on that treadmill you bought during the pandemic? Of course.)

I don’t discover new music as quickly as Gen-Z does, but I have added a lot to my collection over the years, and now have many more tracks to recommend. (This makes even more sense now than it did seven years ago, because now everyone has Spotify and doesn’t have to buy or borrow CDs. Click here for my Spotify playlist.) And so, here are my current recommendations, along with “liner notes” (a more metaphorical concept than ever, since so many young listeners have never seen a record jacket liner). 

Liner Notes – Dana’s Ultimate Superfly Workout Megamix Part V

212 - Azelia Banks

              I discovered this song, and this artist, through one of those YouTube algorithms. It figured since I like M.I.A. videos, I’d like this video too, and put it into my feed. Well, the algorithm wasn’t wrong. The video is fun and funny, and I dig the song too. It’s perfect for riding rollers. (But I’m still not a big fan of these algorithms.)

16 Shots -  Stefflon Don

              My daughter turned me on to this one. As with “212” above, I cannot figure out what the singer is even talking about. The song seems political and probably relates to current events, which it’d be easy enough to google, but none of that matters to me. As has been observed by the philosopher Rakim, “It’s just the beat, the beat, the beat.”

Borders - M.I.A.

              I really like M.I.A. and lots of her songs have made my workout megamix, but I have to admit, I like each album a little less than the one before it. This is my favorite song from her fifth album, AIM, from 2016. And if you have a giant plasma TV in your home gym, be sure to check out the video too. It’s pretty awesome … possibly more extras than I’ve even seen in a music video.

Broke as Fuck -  YBN Cordae

              YBN Cordae, according to Wikipedia, is “known mononymously as Cordae.” What? You don’t know this word, “mononymous”? I didn’t either. It means having only one name. But of course that’s not the case with this musician, unless you decide to call him Cordae. I mean, you could as easily say I’m known mononymously as Dana, except that I’m not known. Now, I don’t know much about Cordae except he got his start doing a remix of “My Name Is” by Eminem. How does a rapper whose name isn’t Slim Shady or Eminem make a name for himself doing a remix of “My Name Is”? Are you as confused as I am? Well, who cares. This is another song my daughter turned me on to, and you can totally pedal to it.

Celebrity Skin - Doja Cat

              This is a cover of the Hole song. If you’re reading this post out loud to somebody, you’re going to have to pause here and explain it’s H-O-L-E, not W-H-O-L-E. Anyhow, I was never crazy about the original version of this song, but the vocals in this cover take it up a notch. Solid.

Cops Shot the Kid - Nas

              This one starts off with a dude telling a story, and he does a pretty funny imitation of a white cop saying sternly, “All right you kids, stop having so much fun. Move along.” This monologue goes on for about twenty seconds, which gives you a nice respite from all that hammering, as you just soft-pedal and listen, but then the song suddenly gets hard and fast and disturbing and dark. If you sync up your pedaling, you’ll start to really suffer, but you’ll go ahead and pour on the pace because you know the song is fairly short. Man. It’s a good one.

Down In It - Nine Inch Nails

              You’re thinking “What? I thought this was new music albertnet is recommending!” No, just new to my workout megamix. This song is definitely old school. I can’t hear it without thinking of my old college roommate who, as described here, listened to this song constantly to the exclusion of all others. Nevertheless, it’s a good one and easy to dance—er, to work out—to.

Everlong - Foo Fighters

               I fricking love this song. It’s old-school at this point too, being from 1997, and though I was aware of it then, I only came to love it recently. (I was like that with avocados too … just really late learning to appreciate them.) The drumming on this in particular song is so good, I not only wish it were louder, but I wish I could be inside the drum while the song is being played. Alas, the Foo Fighters’ drummer, Taylor Hawkins, died this year, very suddenly. So it’s kind of sad to hear this song now, but mostly it’s just awesome.

Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

              Okay, this song is almost as old as I am. What’s it doing on this list? Well, I asked my older daughter to give me her top 10 workout songs, and this was one of them. I think it’s adorable how these youngsters somehow discover music this old, totally on their own somehow. I also tend to associate this song with El Freebird’s, the taqueria in Isla Vista where I won the Burrito World Championships, so it brings back good memories. And the song, though it picks up gradually and is super long, does freakin’ rock out eventually so it does totally belong in my megamix.

Get Free - Lana Del Rey

              I read somewhere that Lana Del Rey was sued by Radiohead over this song, their claim being that it ripped off “Creep.” I couldn’t make out any resemblance at all and thought this seemed crazy. So with no preamble I played the song for my daughter and asked if it reminded her of anything. She replied, “I’m getting a pretty strong ‘Creep’ vibe from it.” OMG. I obviously know nothing about music. Clearly the ripoff (or tribute, if you want to prevaricate) was clear enough to my kid, and as described here“The Guardian found that the chords used in ‘Creep’ were rare in pop music and that the melodies bore an ‘uncanny resemblance.’” But ignorant as I may be, I do know what I like, and this song is great. I was going to say something about the pacing of it, along with that of other songs, but I can’t remember my point. Suffice to say, virtually all the songs in this megamix can be synced with your pedaling, at one cadence or another, and the variety helps since sometimes ya wanna spin, and sometimes ya wanna get out of the saddle and mosh.

Godzilla - Eminem

              There seems to be a tendency among music critics to be hard on Eminem and suggest he’s washed up. This is the clearest example of incompetence I have ever seen. Not to sound like a troll or anything , but anyone who bags on Eminem is just an idiot, and the critics need to evaluate how far they’ve drifted from actual listeners, considering Eminem’s last eleven albums have hit number one on the US charts. This guy is amazing—he just gets better and better. If I gave him his due on this list of killer workout tracks, his songs would dominate and the whole post would look like an ad.  Godzilla is a lot of fun, has perfect energy for hammering your ass off, and even set a new record for speed: 10.65 syllables per second. The video is a hoot as well. You should definitely add the following tracks to your mix, too: No Regrets, Yah Yah, I Will, Gnat, No Regrets, The Ringer, and Darkness. Oh, and just about all his other songs, too.

To be continued

I thought I could cram all my new recommendations into a single post, but you lucked out: I’ve run out of space (or more to the point, you’ve run out of patience). Next week I’ll cover the rest of my modern megamix. I’ll also include, as an appendix, my entire workout song list, comprising over 200 tracks. Watch for it!

More reading

Here are links to the rest of my series of Workout Megamix liner notes:

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