New Release: Adele – “25”

Last Friday, Adele released her highly anticipated new album, “25”. It is, as most of us had hoped (and predicted) an amazing piece of work. Her first single “Hello” dropped a few weeks ago, with an accompanying video, and almost broke the Internet. The physical CD is being sold at rates not seen since the N*SYNC levels of 2000. That was 15 years ago, when people actually bought CDs…and she’s still beating those numbers. In short, to say she’s breaking records with her new album is, in itself, a broken record.

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Now for the most important question, is it any good? Yes, it’s phenomenally good. It is a matured version of her last album “21” with the raw sound of the past now replaced with more finely produced tracks. The album is SO good, there is nothing on the market today to compare it to. Adele has now cemented herself as the best active solo artist on the planet.

My only issue on the whole album is with the song “When We Were Young”. It’s a great song, and my issue is that it had the potential to be Adele’s greatest song ever. This song’s potential, in my opinion, was on course for a once in a lifetime song…but there is this very awkward section that ends the chorus with “let me photograph you in this light/in case it is the last time/that we might be exactly like we were/before we realized/we were sad of getting old/it made us restless” and I keep thinking, WHY IS THIS HERE??? It’s completely out of place, in fact, it doesn’t belong. This song is flying so high and then “plop” this forced sounding piece is added to this beautiful song. I’ve listened to this song over and over and over and I just don’t get it, why is this needed. Anyhow, even with this piece, the song is still great, I’m just disappointed because it feels like you are about to hear something out of this world. I’d love to know your opinions on this part and if you think I’m on to something or if I’ve missed the mark on this one.

Overall, the album is wonderful, 10 out of 10, and the only question is how does it compare to “21”. I believe “21” had Adele’s best song ever with “Rolling in the Deep”, but overall I believe I’d have to give “25” a slight advantage in being the better album. Either way, you should have all of Adele’s music and take pleasure in listening to some of the best music ever made.

Make sure to let me know your thoughts on the new album in the comments below.  Also, stay up to date with the blog by subscribing above.

I like T-Shirts yes I do, I like T-Shirts how ‘bout…really cool ones!?!?

It is no secret that I have a Love/Love relationship with T-Shirts. If I could wear T-Shirts to work every day I would, but I’m limited to “Casual Friday” where they have to be plain and bland, with no designs. Outside of work hours though, you’ll find me in T-Shirts with all sorts of designs. I love funny ones with clever slogans or I’m always proud to put my favorite band, movie, etc. on my chest as well. There’s also an entire section of shirts reserved for my favorite sports teams, not necessarily the players, but the teams (I’m probably loyal to a fault, but you’ll always see me root, root, root for the home team, because truly, if they don’t win…it’s a shame).

However, my favorite T-Shirts are the ones that come with a design providing a small glimpse inside the personality of who’s wearing the shirt: Me!

Recently I came across a T-Shirt display that, for lack of a better term, made me act like a 12-year-old girl at a One Direction/Just Bieber concert double-header. Ok, I didn’t quite cry uncontrollably or scream, but you get my point. The first shirt I saw had the word “Drifter” across the front, with a cowboy-riding silhouette like Clint in his old Western movies. I love Westerns, and had never seen the subtle play of the lone-rider image on a T-Shirt before. Subtle, but telling; awesome. There was also a shirt that had the simple slogan “Midnight Rider” and then my favorite of the music inspired shirts, an old Cadillac with the back of the car visible, New Jersey plates, and BORNTORUN on the tag. These are the small glimpses I’m referring to. A fan of old Westerns and classic Rock & Roll, wearing T-Shirts that are as far under the radar as they are over the top. A T-Shirt paradox, or maybe I’m just overthinking it. Either way, nothing is better than a good T-Shirt.

I’ll add images to this post for some of the designs I was able to get my hands on. Also, I have some contact information regarding the designer (who happens to be a musician) and the store, Grit and Grace, (Instagram and Facebook) where many of these T-Shirts are located. Let me know what you think in the comments below and also tell me about your favorite T-Shirt hanging in the closet.

Exclusive Interview: YouTube star Relaxing ASMR

I am very excited to present an interview with one of my favorite ASMR content creators, Relaxing ASMR! Recently I wrote a post where I discussed my interests with ASMR and then had the opportunity to interview another talented ASMRtist, Emma WhispersRed ASMR. You can imagine my excitement when I received a reply from Relaxing ASMR who graciously agreed to also do an interview. I stayed consistent with the questions to help maintain the theme of the interviews while also providing the opportunity to see the different thoughts and perspectives of such talented content creators. Below is a transcript of our interview:

Mark: When did you first experience ASMR?

Relaxing ASMR: Hi Mark, thanks for this opportunity to talk about ASMR. Like most people that experience ASMR, my earliest memories of it are from childhood. One of my dad’s pastimes during the cold, snowy winters was making his own fishing lures, particularly the type known as jigs. I used to sit on a stool at his workbench and watch as he melted the lead and poured it into the molds. After the jig heads were cast, it was time to paint them, which many times I was allowed to participate in. Once the paint was dry, I would watch as he took colorful, fluffy, feathery materials and tied them to the jig. Sometimes he talked to me gently as he made these lures, and sometimes we both remained as silent as the snow falling outside the window, the only sound being the clinking and clacking of his jig-making tools.

Mark: What made you decide to create a YouTube channel devoted to ASMR?

Relaxing ASMR: Maybe it’s because of my childhood jig-tying memories, that I enjoy watching people sitting at a table, doing things that require mental focus, especially drawing and painting. Years ago, I used to watch Bob Ross paint his pictures every week on TV, but thanks to YouTube, I discovered a whole slew of art videos that gave me that same calming, relaxed feeling. Yanghaiying is probably the first video creator that I ever subscribed to on YouTube. At the time, ASMR wasn’t a term I was familiar with and I’m not even sure if Yanghaiying realized that many of her painting videos contained elements of this perceptual phenomenon called autonomous sensory meridian response, but what I do know is that thanks to YouTube, I no longer had to stumble upon ASMR inducing situations by chance.

Like many people, I used to listen to ASMR videos at bedtime using my smart phone, but, after my wife presented me with a new iPhone for Christmas 2011, I became amazed with the quality of its camera. So, on the day after Christmas, I created a simple drawing of a truck, and uploaded it to a new YouTube account, and that video is still there to this day. It was fun, so I made another video, then another, and a new hobby was born.

Mark: What is the most common request that you get from viewers?

Relaxing ASMR: That could be a tough question to answer because it seems like my subscribers, which by the way are the best on YouTube, seem to have such varying taste, but if I had to say, I guess it would be requests for more aquarium and baseball card videos.

Mark: Who are some of your favorite ASMRtists? Do you ever have contact with them or any other ASMRtists?

Relaxing ASMR: I liken ASMR channels in much the same way I do music, meaning that I have never been 100% all-in to every song created by any particular artist. Years ago, before the internet and downloadable music, we had to purchase an expensive album or CD just so we could enjoy seven out of fourteen songs. Thankfully, those days are gone and now we can buy our music à la carte. There are many ASMR channels that I frequent just for one out of perhaps a hundred videos, but if I had to name a couple of channels that have the greatest appeal to me, it would be DonnaASMR and ASMRrequest. I find the majority of Donna’s and Ally’s content to be quite agreeable to my taste. Of course I could name others that I enjoy but the list would double the length of this interview. As for contact with other ASMR content creators, no, not really. Once in a while I may ask a fellow content creator a question about YouTube or a technical question concerning video or audio, but that is about the extent of it.

Mark: Where do you see the world of ASMR going? Where would you like to see it go?

Relaxing ASMR: I can only speculate, but I imagine that ASMR will continue to slowly gain widespread public acknowledgement. Some people will tout ASMR as new and exciting, but just because we now have a fancy name for this age old “feeling”, there is no reason to think that ASMR hasn’t existed in a portion of the population since the days of cavemen. Thanks to the ASMR community on YouTube though, I imagine that more and more non-ASMR people are discovering through media reports, that there are people in the world, perhaps people even close to them, that experience ASMR; but, awareness is only just that…awareness. My hope is that, such awareness will result in recognition that ASMR videos can and often do offer health benefits, and this might result in ASMR videos being widely prescribed as some sort of holistic therapy. If the holistic angle takes hold and becomes common place, enter the large-scale commercialization of ASMR using over the top hype and mass marketing techniques, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about that aspect of ASMR’s newly found mainstream popularity. Can you imagine seeing TV infomercials for ASMR video sets and ASMR audio sets, promising more restful sleep, better moods, less depression, and a greater ability to focus, all for just three easy payments of $19.95? What about “The ASMR Channel” on your cable or satellite service? It’s an age-old truth that anything trending will be aggressively marketed. Only time will tell.

Mark: What’s the best way for our readers to stay up to date with your work and follow your ASMR activities?

Relaxing ASMR: Mark, folks can check out my YouTube channel, my Facebook page, or my Twitter feed.

I’d like to send a HUGE Thank You to Relaxing ASMR for his time and for such thoughtful answers to my questions. I truly enjoyed reading his perspective on the world of ASMR and learning about his experience in creating such great content. Also, for those of you who haven’t visited his channel yet, I highly recommend stopping by; you’ll be there, relaxing for a while. Finally, I know that he has been approached by much larger organizations than my blog for thoughts and comments, and the fact that he chose to share them here is an absolute honor!

Hello, my name is Mark…and I like to color.

I have come across a new “hobby” that is as surprising as it is relaxing.  I recently went to my nearest Barnes & Noble and was greeted with a display as I walked in for “Adult” coloring books.  Seeming to think this was a tad strange, I continued into the bookstore where the second table in the store was covered with adult coloring books.  At this point my curiosity was peaked and I started looking through the books.  These are not your old superhero coloring books that you used when you were young, these books were filled with elaborate designs.  Many of the titles were referencing stress relief for adults.  I continued looking at the books on the table and saw colored markers and pencils and realized, “this is no joke, this is a real thing“.

I went home and did a little research online and found out that I was late to the party.  What I had never heard of was being used as a tool to help out with stress relief, art therapy, etc.  I’ll admit, I was never the best colorer in school (I blame the crayons), but this new concept sounded appealing.  It’s no secret that I have anxiety and OCD, both conditions where a nice brain timeout is coveted.  I decided it was worth a shot and it gave me an excuse to by Sharpies.  I love ultra fine tip Sharpies! I went to Barnes & Noble and bought two different books that had these amazing looking designs and then grabbed me a pack of colored Sharpies.  I even spent 98¢ on a simple pencil box.

What happened next was unexpected: I started coloring and I liked it.  I truly enjoyed slowing down, picking out a marker, and peacefully shading objects in an elaborate design.  Over an hour went by and I completely lost track of time.  I can’t remember the last time that I sat in one place for more than an hour that didn’t involve a laptop or a business meeting.

If you haven’t checked out adult coloring or adult doodling, I’d highly suggest it.  I can honestly say I would have never thought I’d say those words, but it truly was a stress relieving activity.  Also, and this may be the most important part of all, I realized I am SO MUCH BETTER at coloring than when I was 4.  Score!  Mom will be so proud!