Music + Culture


In the Kitchen: Thanksgiving, Volume 2

Happy (early) Thanksgiving fellow Americans, and just a happy Wednesday to everyone else!

Thanksgiving is a blessing and a curse for someone who loves being in the kitchen. I love cooking and creating things that eventually satisfy others. It’s a gigantic labor of love. I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner (among other holiday dinners) by myself for roughly 12 years now. Looking back, it was quite the task for a teenager to take on, but it’s really given me a chance to see what works. But what does this have to do with music, right?



Mix No. 11: Fall Vibes

Ah, the fall mix has finally arrived. The time of year where I fully get to embrace the part of me that loves a good cozy sweater, drinking cup of coffee (or tea), and having indie folk music playing from my speakers. Over the years fall has been one of my favorite playlists to make. I think the only occasion that sees more playlist than fall is Christmas. When I first started college, what feels like a million years ago now, I would create these playlists to keep me company on my long walks to and from class. They each served their own little purpose given my mood or the weather. Pretty nerdy, right? Probably.

When I made this one I used a really chill Saturday morning as the inspiration. The weather has been pretty warm (bummer) so no sweaters were involved. I just kinda tuned everything out (even my phone) and just enjoyed a cup of coffee while listening to music. It was pretty relaxing, and I wonder why I don’t just do that more often. When I set out to make a fall playlist I consider, like anyone would, the mood. Fall tends to be a little more gloomy because the days are much shorter. The weather is chilly, the leaves are changing (if you’re lucky enough to have those), and sometimes you even get rain.


My Favorite Horror Movies

As I mentioned multiple times on the blog, I love classic horror movies. Way back when AMC’s Fear Fest used to begin with the black and white classics and move up to the modern-day slasher films. Sadly, they’ve cut the movie marathon down to about a week rather than a month so they tend to strictly focus on the slasher films. At least the streaming services still have them available to watch. Of course, I took a bunch of film classes where we studied the likes of Psycho, The Exorcist, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari which gave me a greater appreciation for the classics.

My limit of horror movie watching stops after the original Scream because I just can’t stand whatever they are trying to pull with modern horror/slasher films. I mean, the modern Halloween remakes? Pass. There’s a lot I just can’t take seriously and its important to be able to suspend your disbelief to view them. With today being Halloween I thought I might share my favorite movies just in case you’re looking for something festive to check out tonight while waiting for (or avoiding) trick or treaters.


Halloween (1978)

In 1963 Michael Myers murders his 17-year-old sister, Judith, but on October 30, 1978 he breaks out during a transport from his mental hospital. He steals a car and terrorizes his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.

Why I Like It: It’s a fact Halloween defined the slasher film genre. It takes an already eerie holiday and elevates it with an even creepier, almost silent, killer. Despite it being over 30 years old, and there being plenty of things to laugh it, there’s still plenty of enthralling suspense. Michael Myers is a magnificent villain with an emotionless mask that depicts the soulless, evil person Michael truly is. The John Carpenter score could easily be my favorite film score. It’s hard to imagine Halloween (the holiday) without Michael Myers.


Psycho (1960)

A secretary steals $40,000 from her employer intending to run away with her boyfriend. She becomes exhausted traveling the back roads to avoid the police, and stops at the Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates, a high-strung young man with an interest in taxidermy and plenty of mommy issues. What could possibly go wrong?

Why I Like It: Psycho is one of the greatest thrillers of all time (not to mention one of Hitchcock’s best films). Despite the film not being as shocking as it originally was in 1960 (it genuinely made people fear showering), and being made with a low-budget, the film is still incredible today. It’s tense and nerve-wracking. One of the most iconic scenes in film history is the killing of Janet Leigh’s character paired with the extraordinary score, but I might go as far as to there are plenty of other great scenes. I also love how it was partly filmed in Downtown Phoenix giving me a little slice of movie history here in my hometown.


Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A young couple move into a New York City apartment building with quite the reputation, and end up with some pretty creepy neighbors. When Rosemary becomes pregnant she is isolated more and more until the truth about the diabolical cult who wants to use her baby for their rituals comes to light.

Why I Like It: Rosemary’s Baby was outlawed by my mother when I was a child, but as a rebellious teenager I went ahead and watched it. Hey, it was this or the Omen (which I’m still not able to watch again). Rosemary’s Baby is a psychological thriller about a conspiring cult who want to steal her baby but their own dark causes. As the world around her unravels the story becomes more and more uncomfortable. Roman Polanski takes the opportunity to create optimum scariness by leaving much of the storytelling to the imagination of the viewer. There’s nothing more unsettling than realizing you have the ability to create your own darkness based on a few small prompts on-screen, right?


The Shining (1980)

A writer hoping to cure writers block becomes the winter caretaker of an isolated hotel in Colorado. He is joined by his wife and son who is prone to psychic premonitions. Danny’s visions become more disturbing as time goes on, and Jack begins to unravel along with the dark secrets of the hotel.

Why I Like It: The Shining is a genuinely scary movie, and not simply because it is the upsetting story of a man having a psychological breakdown and terrorizing his own family. It has everything including creepy kids, a set of twins, and blood pouring from an elevator. There are cinematically beautiful shots mixed with eerie and creepy ones. So many of the iconic scenes have made their way into the pop culture lexicon, and considering it took nearly 5 years to make, I’d say it was worth it. There are also plenty of conspiracy theories about the film (I didn’t really know this), but one thing I love about the film is Danny’s NASA sweater. I mean, how cool is that?


The Amityville Horror (1979)

A family is terrorized by supernatural phenomenon after moving into a home which was the scene of a mass killing. Flies begin to swarm, the walls begin to ooze slime and blood, and a priest is called in to exorcise the home from evil spirits.

Why I Like It: Based on the “true” story of George and Kathleen Lutz (true used very very loosely) and their experiences living in the haunted home of a recently killed family. The detectives aren’t sure what caused the killing of the family, but the Lutzes and their children are menaced by the lingering evil it caused. It’s not necessarily a true classic horror film (it’s horribly rated on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s a really great ghost story. It perfectly gives off the creepy, eerie feeling movies in this genre need to have. They need to be unsettling, and the Amityville Horror succeeds. Sure, there is something to learn here; Have you seen a listing for the home of your dreams at an incredibly low price and you have to question how this could possibly be real? Just. walk. away. I don’t know how the story claims they made it an entire month. I would have been out right at the pig with glowing red eyes.


Poltergeist (1982) 

An average California family is menaced by ghosts communicating with them through their television set. At first the spirits are friendly but begin to terrorize the family unexpectedly. When the youngest daughter, Carol Ann, goes missing they must turn to a parapsychologist and exorcist for help.

Why I Like It: Poltergeist horrified me as a child, and strangely it doesn’t change much as an adult. Nothing is creepier than Carol Ann staring at a television and saying “they’re hereeeeeeeeeee.” What makes Poltergeist so terrifying is the normal situation where the story takes place. It wasn’t a monster filled ancient castle or a haunted mansion, it was a regular family home in California. It was just like any other cookie cutter home and town in anywhere USA. Okay, unless you count that whole ancient Native American burial ground filled with violent, unhappy ghosts thing. Those skeletons in the swimming pool is still the thing nightmares are made of.



Halloween Playlist Spooktacular

Don’t worry, I even eye rolled myself while typing the title to this blog post.

It’s a special Music Friday here on my blog, and I have collected every Halloween playlist I have made since 2013. Shout out to Spotify for making this possible, and extra big shout out to me for apparently never cleaning out my list of playlists on Spotify. This is mainly the reason why I can’t explain their being two mixes from 2015. Like I mentioned a couple of days ago (oh my god all she does is talk about this stuff), Halloween mixes are my favorite to make even if they are widely unappreciated. What I love most about them is being able to make something creepy sounding that plays perfectly at a Halloween party or just while handing out candy to Trick or Treaters. It just adds a little something to the overall creepiness in the air. Of course, if you’re going to be soundtracking any Halloween festivities, most people are going to strictly be all “shut up and play the hits.” So I made plenty of those playlists in my time (but with a little Nicole twist).

Obviously I don’t know everyone’s Halloween plans, but if  you’re anything like me, you’re probably sick of party hosts using pre-made Spotify playlists that have Thriller on them every 3rd song. So I thought I would just share the fruits of my yearly labor in one giant collection. Since it’s the Friday before Halloween it seemed like the perfect time for a musical extravaganza to soundtrack just about anything.

Find the links below, and have a good weekend!

PS: Yes, I am the queen of using strange, vintage Halloween photos as my artwork. #blessed

2013 | 2014 | 2015 Part 1 | 2015 Part 2 | 2016 | 2017 | My Favorite Horror Movie Scores

Monthly Mix: Halloween 2017

A few days ago I stumbled upon an article in my social media feed pondering how Halloween became a months long celebration rather than just one solid day. I can’t find the article now, but I never considered such an idea because Halloween has always been a gigantic deal in my family. It was always almost like my dad’s second Christmas. I didn’t pick up the nickname Wednesday Addams for just any ol’ reason. I just love Halloween. There’s a weird creepiness in the air and (usually) it’s not 100 degrees out anymore so I can finally enjoy all my favorite chilly weather things. Like a cozy sweater & joggers while watching Halloween on AMC. It’s a tradition, you know.



Life Lessons from Horror Movies

I love a good horror movie. Okay scratch that. I love a few select horror movies and none of them are recent. Trust me, just ask anyone who gets incredibly mad at me laughing the entire time because I just cannot suspend my disbelief for two or so hours. I might get into my favorites in another post because I just finished watching the 1979 version of the Amityville Horror and AMC’s Fear Fest is going to start in just a few days. Plenty to write about, right?

We all know the horror movie clichés. I mean, if we didn’t there wouldn’t have been 5, yes FIVE, Scary Movie franchise films to mock them. For example: There’s the typical don’t go camping because, of course, nothing good ever happens in the woods. Who likes spending time outdoors anyway? Another good one: Don’t be a promiscuously dressed female attempting to run away from any ghost, zombie, monster, or killer. Why would you be wearing heels at time like this? Are you serious right now? Get rid of them and high tail it out of there, girl. See what I’m getting at? So I chose 6 of the best life lessons we can learn from classic horror movies to get ourselves through the next few creepy weeks leading up to Halloween.



What I’m Listening To, Volume 5

I know monthly around this time I drop the themed mix of my choosing, but October is going to be a little different. Halloween is probably my second favorite holiday because it really combines two of my best qualities: being dead inside and my love of (some) holidays. So it really goes without saying that making my yearly Halloween mix is one of my favorite things to do. A lot of work goes into handcrafting my mixture of horror scores, creepy songs and popular favorites not to mention the search for the ideal creepy image to accompany it. Halloween is fast approaching so that mix will be out in the next week or so (hopefully). I just hope I get to add some of the new Stranger Things soundtrack into this year’s mix since the show’s return coincides with this most frightful time of year.

Since the Halloween mix has yet to reach my high standards (standards no one else cares about), I decided to just throw together a playlist of what I’m listening to a lot right now. This 5th playlist in a series of who knows how many to come features a bunch of new releases and some classic Tom Petty. Of course it had to have some Tom Petty on it because the classic rock station around here played nothing but blocks and blocks of his work after his passing. There are just so many good Tom Petty songs.

Listen on Spotify

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