Anything Bose

Author: Kirsten K., Entertainment, Music, Wellness

A couple of years ago, when he heard that the ear buds I’d received with my iPod Classic had finally given up the ghost, my brother-in-law gave me his old Bose SoundTrue in-ear headphones. I tend to use a thing until far beyond its natural life cycle, so while I’d been coaxing every last decibel out of my standard-issue Apple headphones, I hadn’t been aware of certain advances in ear bud technology, such as soft, silicone tips with specialized “wings” that hook in the folds of the ear to keep the buds comfortably in place. Ahhh…

The darling, destructive duo of Disco and Queen.

I probably would have run these bad Bose into the ground if they hadn’t met their untimely demise at the teeth of two adorable dogs named Disco and Queen. While visiting my friend Mika, the headphones fell out of my purse in proximity to her playful pups, and when we left to run a short errand, those dear buds found my ear buds. Sigh.

Having previously had a great experience with the Bose Wave CD player—which held up so well that I sold it on eBay years later for nearly the price I paid for it—I decided to splurge and replace the obliterated buds with an identical pair, but somehow ended up with the SoundTrue Ultra version instead.

Folks, these headphones have been life-changing. Bose took their silicone tips to the next level with a noise-isolating design that instantly blocks virtually all external sound. One reviewer called these StayHear Ultra tips the headphones’ “secret sauce.” The ear buds don’t contain noise-cancelling technology, but it’s hardly necessary when the tips do such a great job of making you feel like you’re the only one—or thing—in the room.

This effect can have some drawbacks, though. Every sound you make, from heavy breathing and coughing to talking and humming along, becomes magnified within your own head, similar to when you plug your ears with your fingers. I also wouldn’t recommend wearing these headphones while driving or jogging, as they may prevent you from hearing critical sounds. But if you want to listen to music, audiobooks, or meditation recordings without distraction, these are a high-quality, comfortable, and effective option that is more affordable than the noise-cancelling variety.

I particularly enjoy using them when listening to binaural/brainwave entrainment tracks, which can quickly put me in a deeply relaxed state when I don’t have to deal with extraneous aural interference. And while I’m still holding out for a Hearo in certain circumstances, my SoundTrue Ultra ear buds make exceptional earplugs when I want instant relief, since the external sound-blocking effect is both effortless and immediate. Kirsti and I just returned from a swoon-worthy trip to Savannah and Charleston, and even the roar of the jet engines on our flights was no match for my Bose buds.

Some of the mixed reviews at Amazon indicate that high-fidelity enthusiasts might not enjoy these ear buds, but I used to work for an audiophile label and I’m very happy with these headphones. In fact, I’m prepared to buy anything Bose makes—just as soon as my SoundTrue Ultras buy the farm…or get torn apart by one of the animals.


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones

 

Since I came late to the game, Bose is already phasing out the SoundTrue Ultra in favor of its SoundSport in-ear headphones with standard StayHear tips and the the more pricey QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones with StayHear+ tips (equivalent to the Ultra), but that means you can currently find great deals on remaining pairs of SoundTrue Ultra ear buds online while supplies last, so get a move on to get your groove on.

 

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When a Costume Comes Along, You Must Whip It

Author: Kirsti Kay, Entertainment, Music, Nostalgia, Pop Culture

DEVO 1I think most of us have a pivotal moment where we are living our young lives, oblivious to everything except Saturday morning cartoons and making sure your mom bought Hostess Fruit Pies for your school lunches. And then one day it happens. You realize there is something more out there, that there is a whole world filled with movies and music, art and culture (and, better yet, counter-culture). For me, music was the thing that woke me up, made me take notice and understand there was something great and magical outside of my Valley suburb. Music made me realize I was alive.

I remember the day it happened for me. The year was 1980. MTV had not launched yet. I was listening to KROQ (back when they really played alternative music) and “Whip It” by DEVO came on. I stopped what I was doing and stared at the radio, unable to move or breathe. I’d never heard music like this before. I felt crazy excitement—a buzzing inside my body that made me want to run through the streets and be wild. I felt free. I felt like I had found my tribe. I also felt a little afraid, as if, in this very moment, my life was changed forever and I could never go back to the way it was.

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The first time I actually saw what DEVO looked like, I was babysitting and they were on The Merv Griffin Show. I knew I liked their music, but when I saw them, my jaw dropped and I gasped. What was going on with the weird red hats (called Energy Domes) and the jerky dance moves? Why are they all wearing the same outfits? What are those noises they are creating that I’ve never heard before? And—holy crap!—is that guy playing a keyboard like a guitar? I was swirling with questions, but there was no Internet to ask. I was giddy with delight, but there was no Instagram to document my happiness. I was alone in a strange living room with all this excited emotion and I didn’t know a soul who would understand how wonderful and important this moment was to me.

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“Whip It” good in this DEVO costume from Atom Age Industries.

These days, I have a DEVO poster framed in my office and a DEVO action figure on my desk, and when I wear my DEVO t-shirt, I can’t help but feel happy. Recently, I found out that Atom Age Industries is making a fully licensed “Whip It Outfit and Energy Dome.” Not only can I be the uncontested darling of ANY Halloween soirée, I can look incredibly cool walking my dog and freaking out my neighbors. If they ask me what’s up with my outfit, I’ll just say, “We are DEVO. D-E-V-O.” That should put them right at ease. And the entire delicious ensemble comes in a super cool retro box that you are going to want to keep out in plain view for others to covet. At $40 for the whole shebang, I’m going to stock up. If there is ever a zombie apocalypse, I’m sure they will pass me over, because they will understand that I’m just way too awesome to gorge on, and they will probably want to come over and listen to some of my records. Atom Age Industries also has a RAD Booji Boy mask and many other trinkets and baubles to help you Devolutionize.

I still feel that buzzing inside whenever I hear a DEVO song. It is a good reminder that I am alive. If you need me, I’ll be the one in the red Energy Dome running wild through the streets.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

DEVO “Whip It” Costume

 

 

A Show with Legs

Author: Kirsten K., Entertainment, Music, Theatre

Jane Eyre Original Broadway Cast RecordingReading Jane Eyre in high school had me racing to English class each day to discuss the brooding Mr. Rochester and the mystery in his attic. I fell hard for gothic romance and subsequently saw every iteration of the story on film, which is why a notice about a pre-Broadway tryout of the musical version at the La Jolla Playhouse caught my eye in the summer of 1999. I recruited My Crazy Friend Marianne™ to drive with me from L.A. to San Diego to see the show, and was later able to catch it on Broadway in 2001 during its brief run.

Since then, I’ve followed the career of composer and lyricist Paul Gordon, but I somehow failed to hear about his production of Daddy Long Legs until mere weeks after it had finished its premiere run at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura County, just a short drive north of Los Angeles. Disappointed at this missed opportunity, I consoled myself by listening to the delightful cast recording, which presents the story in such a way that I was able to clearly envision the show.

Daddy Long Legs Original Cast RecordingUntil reading about the musical, I’d never heard of the book Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster or the 1955 film of the same name starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. The book is an epistolary novel, told through a series of letters, and the musical takes advantage of this device. Set in early 1900s New England, it tells the story of Jerusha Abbott, “The Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home,” a trustee of which chooses to be her benefactor and send her to school for a proper education. Though she’s never met him, she sees his long shadow cast by the lights of a car as he’s leaving the home and nicknames him Daddy Long Legs. His one requirement is that she write to him regularly with updates about her progress, and it is through these letters that her intelligence, humor, and innocent wonder begin to chip away at his cynicism. While she assumes that he is an older gentlemen, he’s actually a young man who is starting to develop feelings for her.

Daddy Long Legs is one of the sweetest, most charming musicals I’ve ever heard. Sung entirely by the two main characters, the inventive score is brought to life by the expressive voices of stars Megan McGinnis and Paul Alexander Nolan (Robert Adelman Hancock in the original production). And, like a Progressive Era You’ve Got Mail (a Swoon Society favorite), the letter-writing format heightens the anticipation as it builds to the big reveal. Unfortunately, despite being nominated for three Outer Critics Circle Awards (Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, Book of a Musical, and New Score) and two Drama Desk Awards (Outstanding Musical and Score), the show will close its Off-Broadway run on June 6th after less than nine months.

Daddy Long Legs Original Off-Broadway Cast RecordingIt seems I’m always just two steps behind these Long Legs, first missing the original production in my own backyard, then neglecting to read about the livestream event this past December until shortly after it had come and gone. Now the show will close in less than a week, dashing any hope of seeing it on Broadway, but the music lives on. Perhaps, like other critical darlings that have closed after short runs (remember Side Show?), it will find new life in regional theatres and I’ll have the opportunity to see it someday.

Until then, anyone can pop in the CD or download the Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording and swoon over this lyrical love letter. Even though the current production is coming to an end, I believe this show has legs and will continue to weave its magic for a long time to come.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Daddy Long Legs

 

The Off-Broadway Cast Recording is also available for download from Amazon and Google Play. The Original Cast Recording* can be downloaded from iTunes and Amazon. The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Jane Eyre can be purchased as a CD or MP3 from Amazon and is available for download from iTunes.

 

*This recording is slightly different from the Off-Broadway version and contains my favorite verse from the show, which was cut from the subsequent production:

“I see my name upon the page,
She writes of me in such detail.
Am I just fostering her education,
Or reading someone else’s mail?”

 

Holding Out for a Hearo

Author: Kirsten K., Entertainment, Music, Wellness

Hearos 1

Sometimes I think I was born an old lady. When I was in high school, my idea of a wild Friday night was going to a restaurant with a small group of friends to discuss philosophy over tea and dessert. I did attend a number of concerts, but, regardless of the venue or how much I loved the band, I would invariably find myself asking, “Why does it have to be so LOUD?!”

Hearos 2

I resigned myself to being hopelessly uncool until, while at a concert with a friend, we bumped into an acquaintance of his who was a music critic for a local publication. I thought she was the epitome of hip with her thrift store dress, steel-toed Doc Martens, and notepad to jot down thoughts on the performance. As the three of us stood close together, yelling to be heard over the music, I noticed that she was wearing ear plugs. It was a light bulb moment. If this impossibly cool chick could use ear plugs, so could I.

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I’ve been carrying ear plugs in my purse ever since, and my go-to brand is Hearos. Over the years, they have come in handy in a multitude of unexpected situations. This past holiday season I saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, both of which had their share of explosions and gun battles. Listening in Dolby Surround might have been jarring if not for the Ultimate Softness Series from Hearos. When I got up close and personal with a 4th of July fireworks display, I went to the Xtreme Protection Series. On a trip to Paris, I shared a hotel room with a person who snores—loudly—but I slept Pretty in Pink with a pair of Women’s Sleep Ear Plugs.* Bonne nuit!

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It’s one thing to take the edge off when sharing space with someone who is sawing logs in their sleep, but what about those times you want to hear every little nuance, as when listening to music? I find that ear plugs don’t prevent me from experiencing a full, rich sound. They simply filter out any harsh noises that might cause discomfort. I wore Hearos each time I went to see my friends’ rock band play live and I could pick out every note.

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Even though Hearos makes a Rock N Roll Series, these ear plugs do block out quite a bit of sound, so I’ve only used them in a few unusual circumstances. My dog has allergies, and before I found an effective treatment, he would lick and chew his paws relentlessly, making a sound that I found intolerable. Rather than force him to wear the cone of shame, I’d pop in a pair of Rock N Roll Hearos and find myself in a cone of silence.

Ear plugs may not seem like a swoon-worthy topic to blog about, but protecting one’s hearing is definitely a Subject Worthy Of Our Notice. Music, in particular, is extremely important to me and I want to be able to listen and enjoy it throughout my lifetime, but many people don’t think about such things until it’s too late. Unless you’re Superman, you can’t turn back time, so consider getting yourself a pair (or two!) of ear plugs and let Hearos save the day—and your hearing.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Hearos

 

Hearos can be found at CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart.

 

*I have to admit that this peeves me a little. Hearos offers pink ear plugs for women, but there are no ear plugs specifically made for men, unless it is implied that the Xtreme Protection Series, which is blue, is intended for male ears. Are Hearos actually Jokers? Do women’s and men’s ears differ in some way? (There is evidence that women have more sensitive hearing than men.) Are there not women who snore and keep their male companions awake? What if men want to sleep Boyish in Blue? Hearos, it’s time to pull the plug on silly gender stereotypes. I propose the gender-neutral Sleep Soundlessly Series.