Friday, December 30, 2011


In honor of tomorrow being New Year's Eve, today's Retro Friday features Prince (or the artist formerly KNOWN as Prince), and the song 1999.

Prince Rogers Nelson, born on June 7, 1958, most often known simply as Prince, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Prince has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label; writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a "talent promoter" for the careers of such artists as Sheila E., Carmen Electra, The Time and Vanity 6, and his songs have been recorded by these artists and others (including Chaka Khan, The Bangles, Sinéad O'Connor, and even Kim Basinger). Taken from History of Rock and Roll, Thomas Larsen, page 243.

Prince has a wide vocal range and is popularly known for his flamboyant stage presence and costumes. His releases have sold over 80 million copies worldwide.

Prince joined the band Grand Central while he was attending Minneapolis's Central High School. He played piano and guitar for the band which performed at clubs and parties in the Minneapolis area. Grand Central later changed its name to Champagne and started playing original music influenced by Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, Parliament-Funkadelic, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and Todd Rundgren.

Oh, and as a contestant in the "Biggest Fan of the Big East Contest" (please vote for me) I have to tell you that Prince also played basketball in High School!

Prince's musical beginnings came in the mid-1970's, but my favorite all time Prince song, 1999, was released on the 1982 double album, also called 1999, which sold over three million copies. The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit in countries outside the U.S. Prince's "Little Red Corvette" was one of the first two videos by a black artist played in heavy rotation on MTV, right along side Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". The song "Delirious" also placed in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

1999 is the fifth studio album by Prince, released on October 27, 1982. It was his first top ten album on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States (topping at number 9) and became the fifth best-selling album of 1983. 1999 was Prince's breakthrough album, but his next album Purple Rain would become his most successful.

According to the Rolling Stone Album Guide, "1999 may be Prince's most influential album: Its synth-and-drum machine-heavy arrangements codified the Minneapolis sound that loomed over mid-'80s R&B and pop, not to mention the next two decades' worth of electro, house, and techno."

And to think back then we thought that 1999 would NEVER come ... and now we're looking at 2012. Wow.

Okay ... and for your listening pleasure ... Prince's 1999!

Cheers! & Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Onward to Victory

As a girl who loves hockey, nothing makes me happier than being able to be at Notre Dame, and be able to sit and watch my beloved hockey team play. So when I was given the distinct honor to preview the Versus special "Onward to Victory: Notre Dame Hockey" ... I was like a kid on Christmas.

I've spent this evening watching the hour long special that will air on Versus on New Year's Eve, after the Notre Dame/Boston University hockey game, and I want to share this with you ... (set your TiVo boys and girls!) this is a program not to be missed.

It used to be, if you played in the NHL that you were asked ... "Oh, I didn't know that Notre Dame had hockey" (Dave Poulin). Overshadowed by a football program that is known to all, I am happy to say that the Notre Dame HOCKEY program has more than arrived. They are a program of excellence that is here to stay.

Hockey is such a great fit at Notre Dame. It is made of the same fiber. It's a tough, blue collar kind of sport that matches Notre Dame's roots.

With it's origin during Knute Rockne's time at Notre Dame, the boys of Notre Dame began playing hockey on St. Mary's Lake under the tutelage of Father Cunningham. Even a few of Knute's players tried their hand at hockey!

Now I don't want to give too much of this away, but if you love Notre Dame, and you love hockey ... this is definitely something you will not want to miss!

Cheer, cheer for Ole Notre Dame ... while her loyal sons go marching ONWARD TO VICTORY!

Want to watch the trailer, to get a little sneak peek as to what is in store for you on New Year's Eve? Well, here you go!

Notre Dame hockey fans and college hockey fans in general will want to have their televisions tuned to Versus cable network on Saturday, December 31 at 9:30 p.m. to watch "Onward To Victory -- Notre Dame Hockey," a one-hour feature that gives viewers a look at the Irish hockey program including retrospectives on its early days to its current status as one of the top college hockey programs in the nation.


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Golden Dome Mobile

Here it is, Challenge Post #4 in the "Biggest Fan of the Big East" Contest! What's the directive we've been given? Create the Ultimate Notre Dame Volvo S60. How would you customize a Volvo S60 to show your school spirit?

Well, back in college days, my Notre Dame school spirit car may have looked a little something like this:

But customizing a Volvo S60 is a whole new ball game!

Maybe you think I would start with a classic Caspian Blue Metallic Volvo S60 ...

... but to truly be a pimped-out Notre Dame car, I'd have to ask the athletic department for some of that special golden flaked paint that they paint the football helmets with, cause what other color would you paint a Notre Dame spirit car ... besides Golden Dome GOLD!! (Oh, and not the "Maryland" 2011 game GOLD football helmets ... but the USC 2011 game GOLD football helmets. No velvet, please, no velvet!)

The wheels would also have GOLD plated rims, complete with the Fighting Leprechaun in the center.

Next, I would change the lovely Soft Beige interior leather to a Notre Dame Navy Blue leather to compliment the Golden Dome GOLD exterior.

Here is an example of the luxurious Volvo S60 leather interior ... just imagine this in Notre Dame BLUE!

Okay ... so now let's talk a little bit more about some of the other key features of the interior. Instead of the standard black leather shifter ... the Notre Dame spirit car would feature a Golden Dome GOLD shifter, with a BIG EAST basketball on the top! And unlike the blue in the dials below, my Notre Dame spirit Volvo S60 would have GREEN dials.

Now let's get to the good stuff. I would have them take the Volvo grill and have it vulcanized with gray rubber, to resemble a Notre Dame football helmet face mask. And I would have the windshield tinted to look like a Notre Dame football helmet visor.

Instead of a moon roof, the Notre Dame spirit car would be fitted with a DOME roof, and the exhaust pipes would plume white when a new coach is chosen! Oh, and my rosary hanging on the rear view mirror ...

And of course, what would a Notre Dame spirit car be without speakers on the OUTSIDE of the car playing Crazy Train ... to get everyone ready for the upcoming Notre Dame game du jour.

The Volvo logo on the front of my GOLD Volvo S60 would of course be wearing it's very own Golden football helmet, and the license plate would read LUV ND.

And don't forget the ever important Notre Dame alumni license plate frame.

The steering wheel would be fitted with a Notre Dame leather steering wheel cover, and would also have a laser cut shamrock in the middle of it.

To protect the interior upholstery of the car, don't forget the custom Notre Dame floor mats. You wouldn't want to get any of that snowy South Bend sludge on the interior of your Volvo S60!!

And of course no Notre Dame spirit car is complete without a few Notre Dame window decals on the back ... on a back window that is the shape of Our Lady's grotto.

I'd like to give some of my Notre Dame Twitter folks a shout out to thank them for truly giving me the inspiration for this post! THANKS guys & gals! @Dear__Chicago @cathyang50 @chawalte @ndrazee @PucktacularOne @Notre_Josh @oates03 @mrstruj @ND_Tog @36beachbabe @HLS-Biscuit

Okay, I guess I had better head on down the road in my Golden Notre Dame spirit Volvo S60! You'll hear me as I head on my way as the horn plans the Notre Dame Fight Song!

I hope you like my tricked out Notre Dame car. And hey, if you've yet to vote for me on my "Biggest Fan of the Big East" profile page, please swing by and vote!! Oh, and tell your friends to vote, too ... please!


By the way, if you have not been to the Volvo web site lately, definitely swing on over there. They have this feature where you can "build your own Volvo S60" which is super, SUPER cool! Cheers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Little Drummer Boy

This edition of Retro Friday features a little holiday cheer with Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing The Little Drummer Boy and Peace on Earth.

Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, also known as The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, is a Christmas song which was performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby in 1977. The "Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song which was written in 1957, and the "Peace on Earth" tune and lyrics were added to the song especially for David Bowie and Bing Crosby's 1977 recording.

The track was recorded on September 11, 1977 for Bing Crosby's then-upcoming television special called "Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas." At the beginning of the piece, Bing Crosby and David Bowie exchanged dialogue about what they do for Christmas, before singing "Little Drummer Boy" with a new counterpoint with original lyrics written for the special, "Peace on Earth." David Bowie's appearance on the show has been described as a "surreal" event, undertaken at the time becuase he was "actively trying to normalise his career."

Bowie has since recalled that he only appeared on the show because "I just knew my mother liked him." Buz Kohan was not sure that Crosby knew who Bowie was, but Ian Fraser claimed, "I'm pretty sure he did. Bing was no idiot. If he didn't, his kids sure did." Crosby died that same year on October 14, just over a month after recording the special. In the U.S., the show aired on November 30, 1977 on CBS.

According to co-writer Ian Fraser, Bowie balked at singing "Little Drummer Boy." "I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?" Fraser recalls Bowie telling him. Fraser, along with songwriter Larry Grossman and the special's scriptwriter, Buz Kohan, then wrote "Peace on Earth" as a counterpoint to "Little Drummer Boy." Crosby performed "Little Drummer Boy," while Bowie sang the new tune "Peace on Earth," which they reportedly performed after less than an hour of rehearsal.

And here it is, for your holiday listening enjoyment: Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy:

Cheers & Merry Christmas to you & yours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Wrapping

It's hard to believe ... but Christmas is just FIVE DAYS AWAY. Holy cow! Where did the year go? I've been dancing around the house, frantically trying to get everything just perfect, and I have my favorite Christmas song stuck in my head. Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses.

What, you don't know it? Well then clearly you are a newbie to my blog, because I wrote about it last Christmas. Or, you are like me and have CRS ... Can't Remember ... wait, what does that S stand for?

Anyways, click here to read last year's Christmas Retro Friday post and enjoy a little Christmas Wrapping!!

And most of all ... enjoy yourself and dance a little this Christmas season!!


(Oh, and while I have you here, let me throw in a tiny little shameless plug! Please don’t forget to vote for me as the Notre Dame rep in Volvo's "Biggest Fan of the Big East" contest … Click here to cast your vote!! And ask your friends to vote, too ... because let's face it ... I need some serious voting help!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Big East Road Trip: Feels Like Home

You guessed it! It's time for another "Biggest Fan of the Big East Challenge" post! And challenge number three is: What are your top three Big East road trip towns and why? At first glance, I thought this might be a tough decision. But then after I thought about it for a minute, it was not so difficult after all!

My top three Big East road trip towns feel like home to me because two of them were home to me, and the third town is truly my happy place on earth. Seeing as I spent my last challenge post detailing why I love Notre Dame so much, South Bend, Indiana and Notre Dame are not on today's list!

First things first, it's not a road trip if you don't have your best pals with you. So let me grab my girls, hop into the shiny new Volvo S60, and let's head on out to our first destination ... Marquette University ... Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

As a child, I spent several years living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My Dad was training to be a brew master at Schlitz Brewing Company, and we spent several years living just eight blocks from Lake Michigan. I have very fond memories of Milwaukee as a child ... mostly of snowy activities ... but I'd love to head back as an adult to check the sites of the city itself, as well as the fine Jesuit institution of Marquette University. Here is my bucket list of things that I would want to see while on my road trip at Marquette University, and in Milwaukee.

First, I would like to visit the Joan of Arc chapel. (Thank you, Brian, for pointing this out to me!) What a beautiful gem set in the heart of Midwestern USA. The St. Joan of Arc Chapel is "the only medieval structure in the entire Western Hemisphere dedicated to its original purpose: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam." ("For the greater glory of God")

My next stop would be to check out the Church of the Gesu. I will admit, I am kind of a church nerd, so any time I travel somewhere, I make a point to check out any interesting nearby churches, and this would be no exception! The cornerstone laying ceremony for the Church of Gesu was on May 21, 1893, and the church was completed and dedicated on December 16, 1894. Quite a landmark in Milwaukee.

Of course I'd want to catch a game at the Bradley Center, preferably a Notre Dame-Marquette match up, so that we can see who the better Catholic school really is ... wink.

While in Milwaukee, I'd want to take advantage of the great local German food & beverages, so my next stop would be to take the girls in the Volvo S60, and head on over to Gasthaus for some fantastic German eats. Their extensive bar selections include over 55 different kinds of beer, primarily German and Wisconsin beers, including their House Weissgerber Amber. And the menu had me at Walleye ... Friday nights, the Gasthaus offers a fish fry that is spectacular. Icelandic cod, fries, potato pancakes, cole slaw, rye bread and potato salad. All-you-can-eat. Yup, I'm there!

Our final Milwaukee stop would be the Milwaukee Art Museum. I have always wanted to go to the Milwaukee Art Museum. It looks simply stunning from the outside, and I am a sucker for a good Impressionism art collection. Goodness knows my friends won't let me drag them to sporting events for this entire road trip ... some culture must be woven in there, too!

Okay ... on to our next stop ... DePaul University and CHICAGO, Illinois.

Chicago is, by far, one of my happiest places on earth. I don't know what it is about Chicago, but given the opportunity, I would move there in a heart beat. Not only is it practically spitting distance from Notre Dame, there is just SO much to do there. So, without further ado, let me get on to my DePaul/Chicago bucket list!

With as many times as I have been to Chicago, I do not think I've ever caught a DePaul Basketball game. I have wandered around the beautiful DePaul city campus many times, but I'd love to catch a DePaul game at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

My other Chicago bucket list items would include the following:

Cruising through Chicago on the Architectural Boat Ride Tour. Especially on a sunny day, but even on a cloudy, misty Chicago day, there is no better way to spend a few hours in Chicago than floating down the river and watching the beautiful city architecture drift by. I've been on this tour on sunny days, as well as on rainy days, and I swear, each time I go I see something different. Truly inspiring!

My next Chicago stop with the girls would be spending the afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago has to be one of my all time favorite museums. Mostly because it has two of my favorite pieces there ... Georges Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" ... and Georgia O'Keefe's "Cow's Skull with Calico Rose." I just simply adore these two pieces and cannot get enough of them!

When it's time to take a load off our tired feet, I'd take the girls to dinner at Tratoria No. 10. I must say, I have not met a restaurant in Chicago that I have not liked. And there is an endless assortment of restaurant choices in Chicago ... of all ranges of cuisines, atmospheres and price. But I must say that my all time favorite restaurant in Chicago is Tratoria No. 10. They have this Butternut Squash Ravioli that is simply to die for, and like any good authentic Italian Restaurant, you can finish your meal off with a delightful Limoncello. The next time you are in Chicago you MUST. EAT. HERE!

And to round off my Chicago road trip bucket list, a stop at the Hangge-Uppe is definitely a must!! If you, by chance, google the Hangge-Uppe, it will come up as a "dive bar" ... but trust me on this one, you do not want to miss out on this experience. The Hangge-Uppe is located on the near north side of Chicago and has a bar upstairs ... but the fun is in the downstairs bar where there is a dance floor and a DJ playing music from the 70's and 80's. Seriously, this place is full of so much ridiculous fun, it's not even fair!

Okay ... so there is Milwaukee and Chicago. Stop three of my Big East road trip would be my birthplace and hometown, home of the University of Pittsburgh ... Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

I know, many of you still equate Pittsburgh with a dirty old steel down, but truly that is not the case any more. Pittsburgh is actually quite clean and vibrant, and there is much to see and do there! All of my family, with the exception of my Dad and I, went to the University of Pittsburgh, "Pitt." I have spent many a weekends on Pitt's campus with my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins showing me their favorite hangouts on campus. Since I have attended many football games at Pitt, but not yet a basketball game ... my first bucket list item in Pittsburgh would be to attend a Pitt-Notre Dame basketball game at the Petersen Events Center.

The other things on my Pittsburgh bucket list are as follows.

First, I'd drag the girls to ride The Duquesne Incline. In my mind, this is one of the most unique things that Pittsburgh has to offer, and no Pittsburgh road trip is complete without a ride on the incline. Take a step back in time on a century-old cable car and see the best views of downtown Pittsburgh while riding one of the few remaining inclines in the country. The Duquesne Incine opened on May 20, 1877, and it was later rescued and restored by a group of local residents in 1963 and still delights residents and visitors with its original, elegant, wooden cable cars. Now you can also visit the interior of the incline and watch the machinery while it operates. When you get to The Duquesne Incline's upper station, there is a museum of Pittsburgh history, including photos and information on inclines from around the world.

Next, after teaching my friends how to speak Pittsburghese (yes, there is an entire set of vocabulary words that you must learn to understand the good people of Pittsburgh), I would take them to the S&D Polish Deli and treat them to one of my favorite Pittsburgh foods ... Pierogi! If you don't know what a pierogi is, here is an explanation for you.

Pierogi are dumplings of unleavened dough - first boiled, then they are baked or fried usually in butter with onions - traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. Of central and eastern European provenance, they are usually semicircular, but are rectangular or triangular in some cuisines.

There are some fantastic museums in Pittsburgh, but the next stop that I'd take the girls to is the Andy Warhol Museum. Campbells soup cans anyone? The Andy Warhol Museum is an ultramodern tribute to the founder of pop art. The most comprehensive single artist museum in the world houses more than 4,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, films, and videos, from this native Pittsburgh artist. While dedicated to Andy Warhol, the museum also hosts rotating exhibits by artists who push the boundaries of art, just as Warhol did. Oh, and I just saw that there is a comic book exhibit there right now ... Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross. Okay, now I really am super homesick. Sigh.

My final Pittsburgh road trip destinations would include me taking the girls to see where I am from ... the house where my Dad grew up, the church that I was baptised in, and where our family store was located from 1881 until it finally closed in 2010. It was very sad for me when our family store closed. It was such a big part of every visit that we made to see the family back home, and there will forever be a void there, but times have changed and some things just do not survive.

I hope you have enjoyed my Big East road trip, to my three favorite "feels like home" cities in the Big East! I can't wait to head back to Notre Dame in January for my Alma Mater trip, and take a spin around campus in the fancy Volvo S60. If anywhere truly feels like home to me, it is Notre Dame for sure!

Thank you, once again, for supporting me in Volvo's “Biggest Fan of the Big East” competition. Please don’t forget to vote for me … click here to cast your vote. And ask your friends to vote too ... because let's face it ... I need some serious voting help!


A to Z

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band ABC, and I'm going to highlight several of their songs!

I can't believe that I've been writing Retro Friday posts for almost three years now, and have yet to cover ABC. The band ABC was one of my ALL-TIME favorite bands in High School. So many great high school memories revolve around ABC songs!

ABC are an English band, that charted ten UK and five US Top 40 singles between the years 1981 and 1990. The band released it's most recent album, Traffic, in 2008.

ABC formed out of the band Vice Versa. Vice Versa was born in 1977 in Sheffield by Stephen Singleton, Mark White and David Sydenham. They founded their own label, Neutron Records, releasing the EP (extended play) Music 4. They had a sound similar to The Human League, whom they supported in 1978. Martin Fry, who wrote the fan magazine Modern Drugs, interviewed the band; and shortly afterwards they asked him to join as synthesizer player. Fry accepted but within a short period of time the band became ABC, he assumed the role of lead vocalist.

My favorite ABC album is How to Be a ...Zillionaire!

How to Be a ... Zillionaire was released in 1985 and four singles were released from this album. "Be Near Me" which reached 26 on the UK singles chart, and number 9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. "(How to Be a) Millionaire" 49 on the UK singles chart and 20 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. "Vanity Kills" 74 in the UK, and 91 in the U.S. And last, but not least, "Ocean Blue", 54 in the UK. The album topped at 28 on the UK Albums Chart, and at 30 on the Billboard 200.

For some reason, "Be Near Me" was a quintessential High School song for me. In the spring of 1986, my accelerated English class (yes, I was a nerd in High School) went on a weekend trip to Yosemite. It was one of those "trust building" trips where they took us on all of these cool trust walks ... through caves, and blindfolded ... to teach us to trust each other. I'm not sure how successful that aspect of the trip was, but I do have a lot of great memories from that trip, and this album was pretty much the soundtrack for the weekend. I'd post a photo from that weekend ... but, um, no way. I was WAY too much of a dork!

So here are a few of my favorite ABC songs, for your listening pleasure!

A to Z

Be Near Me

Ocean Blue

Vanity Kills


Friday, December 2, 2011

In the Arms of the Angels

Today's edition of Retro Friday is being sidetracked with some sad news of mine. As I sit here brewing a pot of coffee, I still can't seem to wrap my brain around this.

The brother and wife of a dear friend of mine have been through so much this year in their journey to have a child. After many trials and tribulations, they were finally able to conceive a child, and with much joy they began their journey towards parenthood. The year has been spent wishing and dreaming, and hoping and planning of all this bundle of joy would bring into their lives. And then I get the phone call last night. Apparently she had sudden complications yesterday, and was taken to the hospital and rushed into surgery, and to our shock they were unable to save Mother or baby.

I just can't wrap my head around this at all. Not one bit. Do these things truly happen in 2011? We seem to take motherhood and pregnancy so much for granted. That women get pregnant, and carry to full term, and deliver healthy bouncing babies ... but all too often this is not the case. I guess it seems in my mind that dying in childbirth is such an 1800's thing, and that this should not happen in 2011, but this is a reminder to us all that life is very much a fragile thing.

And so I have two songs for you today, as my heart breaks. First, Angels, by Sarah McLachlin, as these two angels leave this world and join our Father in heaven.

The second song I have is, And So It Goes, by Billy Joel ... as my heart breaks for the husband and father who just lost his best friend, and his glimmer of hope for the future.

Crying is how your body speaks when your mouth can't explain the pain you feel.

Gods speed to Mother and baby as they are welcomed into their Father's loving arms. May they look down on all of us from heaven above.

Blessings to you all.