Countdown- Best of Tycho

Tycho, an Electrogaze band who surprisingly put out their fourth full-length album with no warning. Tycho and frontman Scott Hansen, whom started the band, sound and image, has strategically made every aspect and detail in this album for a specific reason. Hansen’s blog post on Tycho’s album artwork evolution says it all from detail-mannered to minimalism to bringing back the color from his first self-released EP ‘The Science of Patterns’.

This is an article where the views are subjective, due to the nature of the blog and my admiration of Hansen’s and Tycho’s work over the last decade. As a megafan and occasional concert goer here is the list of the Best of Tycho.

  1. Coastal Brake (Dive):  One of the final songs that aren’t entitled after a single word, Coastal Brake takes you through an experiential journey starting with the first bass drop of a decoration of beautiful linking notes.
  2. A Walk (Dive): The first sound of Tycho I ever heard. Simplistic yet complex in the breathes and percussion addition. The Synth progression truly is; a walk.
  3. Dictaphone’s Lament (Past is Prologue): One of the most beautiful melodies heard to date. Hansen’s mother, a transcriptionist, recorded him and his brother as the featured vocals added to the track.
  4. Epoch (Epoch): A track to personify an entire album. Every sound and sensory detail carefully placed into the song to embody the album itself.
  5. Red Bridge (The Science of Patterns): With a trance(y) hook it’s hard to stay away from this journey. The simplicity links back to the complexity of Epoch with an emphasis on drums.
  6. See (Awake): The music video really tells the narrative on this track. Beyond visuals, one of the most diverse songs in terms of sound on Tycho’s portfolio with some very in your face guitar complimented by the classic synth in transition.
  7. Rings (Epoch): A flashback to the Dive era with vocal underlay and an emphasis on on the synth aspect yet the persistence of the presence of Awake with drum work.
  8. Adrift (Dive): Simplicity meets a classic rhythm in a beautiful harmony. The speed of drums and the slow/persistent electronica.
  9. Cloud Generator (Past is Prologue): Tycho classic. The alpha and omega of the song being the weather report from a marine radio. The in-between of a soft chorus and a staccato snare drum feels right. Not to mention the beautiful speed transition.
  10. Plains (Awake): The sequel in the trilogy of guitar-centered encores to each of Tycho’s LP’s. The barrier and combination of the nature of Tycho with the the new-age Tycho is a fitting evolution.

Lastly a note to share is that Hansen revealed in a Reddit AMA that Dive, Awake and Epoch are a trilogy. But the sequels don’t end there; Elegy, Plains and Field. Hours, L and Epoch. Dive, Awake and Source.

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Michigan Renaissance Festival Survival Guide

The Michigan Renaissance Festival, or RenFest for short, runs every year from mid-August to early October. Michigan’s RenFest started in 1979 as a five-weekend event in Clarkston and is now set in its permanent location in Holly on 17-acres.  The festival features 17 stages and over 300 artisans which attracts more than 250,000 visitors. The 16th century themed festival offers more than great artisans and shows, it offers games such as full-armored jousting, Irish Heavy Game (They throw tree trunks!) and much more. With every festival, you need to be prepared, using my seven years of RenFest experience, here is what you need to know to survive the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

Coupons:

Everybody loves a discount or a hell-of-a-deal as I like to call it. The RenFest was formerly a cheap ticket as long as you brought some canned goods, but now, almost $30 a ticket for an adult. Bargainstobounty.com offered a 50 percent off deal for a limited time, looks like the offer went quick, something to watch for 2017. The festival offers four ticket outlets at Kroger, Goodwill, Walgreens and Menards, you can find a $3-off coupon at these locations along with Subways and Big Boy (coupons only). Tickets are also sold upon arrival, I suggest to bring cash for the quickness of that particular line.

DBW (Designated Backpack Wearer):

I suggest a backpack over a drawstring bag because of structure. Much of the artisans make candles, incense and glassware that can easily be moved or broken in a drawstring bag.

The RenFest offers the impulse buyer a plethora of opportunities to purchase items they don’t need, including handmade weapons! A dagger or any sort of weapon will easily rip a lightweight bag.

Empty Stomach and an Open Mind:

It’s the 16th century, so eat like it’s the 16th century! Fortunately you don’t have to hunt down some poultry. Turkey legs are massive so grab ahold of the bone and dig in. Scotch eggs, if you can fit all of my favorite breakfast items in one food, its destine to be a favorite. Lastly, my personal favorite, pickle….on a stick. A massive pickle, on a popsicle stick, cannot beat that.

Shrek:

There is a gentleman who dresses as Shrek the ogre every year, every year. Get your photo’s taken, he’s there for the fans. Quality guy.

Ded Bob:

While I have not mustered up the so called ‘guts’ to witness a show, to survive a Ded Bob show has been rumored to be one of the truest test of a knight.

Parking:

Nobody wins when it comes to parking at RenFest. Although free, you will start about a half-mile adventure into the woods eventually coming to the fairy-tale land. Bring some comfortable shoes or if you’re dressing up to join the fun, put some gel insoles in the wooden shoes. Warning: if you go before or during rain, prepare for mud and lots of it.

The Renaissance Festival is an amazing experience and only you can make the most out of it. Dress up, yell HUZZAH, drink some ale, eat an entire turkey leg and enjoy the 16th century!

 

Opinion: My thoughts on Pokémon VGC 2016

Pokémon is more than just a game for me, I have been a massive fan of the game series since I first picked up Blue Version. As of the last few years playing I began to pay more attention competitively and become more aware of strategies, which is what makes Pokémon.

2016 VGC allowed legendaries, mega Rayquaza and primal reversions for the first time. Essentially, one can only win if they are running about five options of legendary Pokémon. Many of those Pokémon are also limited to the items that allow them to mega-evolve or primal revert. Similar to the complaints about CHALK in 2015, this years tournament lacked style and strategy as Glick went on to win with some Pokémon that have alleged to be cheated for.

While one can argue that you don’t have to use the legendaries, every single one of the top-eight did. To not use legendaries is effectively surrendering all hopes of winning.

First of all, I am not a fan of using legendaries competitively. The platform needs room for some rarely used Pokémon like Pachirisu (thanks Se Jun Park 2014). It’s just not fun when I use my eviolite Scyther and subsequently get smashed against a primal reversion Kyogre in one hit but hey, at least I lost with pride. On that subject, pride needs to be more relevant in the Pokémon community and that will happen when the Pokémon Company can accurately check for hacked or cheated Pokémon. Every attempt has failed and that is inexcusable. VGC 2016 wasn’t worth more than a minute of my time. There is an apparent need for creativity and the boundaries to do so must be set.

Get Your Ass Moving- Top Picks for Motivation

To birth a sequel to my last post about my top music picks for a run, I am going one step further- motivation. Motivation is an alien subject, you can’t teach it. Self-discipline and motivation is something that comes within. Some days are harder than others so I like to watch and listen to motivational content from people I respect. If you have some fight in you, these videos will kick your ass into optimizing your life.

Why Do We Fall- Mateuz M

DOUBT ME NOW- GreatToEntertain

The Mindset Behind Success- Be Inspired

Welcome To The Grind- Jerry Dobson

Best Songs to get you Through that Run

Running sucks. And that statement is coming from somebody who is pretty good at it. I’ve always been quite a good sprinter but lacked in the long distance department. For the last three years I have stayed at it trying to break personal records (PR’s) and getting over the long distance hump. This is a comprehensive list of my pick for the top songs to run to and why (all genres).

#5: Ready Steady Go- Paul Oakenfold: What is a better song to run to then a song titled after racing lingo? An EDM bridge to the chorus with a combination of keyboard and guitar makes for a fast paced (but not too fast) song to get a good rhythm with.

#4: POWER- Kanye West: Something about feeling strong gives you a rush of endorphins, just ask any UFC fighter to win by KO, they go bonkers. A reverbed choir creates an epic atmosphere for Kanye to do his thing.

#3: Chandelier- PVRIS (SIA Cover): An courageous chorus never fails to get my heart-rate elevated. A party song loaded with energy and a great pace to keep the feet moving. PVRIS do one hell of a justice to the original (Found on the Punk Goes Pop series).

#2: My Friend T3 (Remix of Resynthesize)- Mrs Jynx: My absolute favorite song to start out with and great for an outdoor run. Largely unknown electronic artist Mrs Jynx keeps a unique drum beat with a punctual-staccato keyboard sound that aids in setting the pace for a long run.

#1: White Washed- August Burns Red: I said this would include all genres and as a metalhead, you cannot beat this song. This is the final song to finish the run, never fails to give me goosebumps every single listen. The song features some of my favorite drumming of any metal song I have ever heard with great transitions and a breakdown that will power you to your best mile of the run.

segovia-post-run

Post outdoor run in Segovia, Spain.

It would be nice if my running app would show the change in my pace per song to help y’all out but I know it is a massive difference. For an easy link to find these songs on my ‘I Hate Cardio’ Spotify playlist, click this link!

How to Survive the Megabus

Ohhhhh the Megabus. Your low-cost effective way to get from one city to another. While the saying goes “It’ll get you from point-A to point-B” is true for the Megabus, you’re sacrificing a bit more then just a cheap ride.

I have taken the Megabus over a dozen times, all of which to Chicago or to one of the three Michigan stops. I believe that I am qualified to put together the Megabus Survival Guide, so buckle up.

Time Management: As a frequent Megabus(er) I can tell you to book on odd work days (Monday-Thursday). I know you don’t want to take a vacation day on Friday but trust me- your price will be cheaper and you will most likely get a seat row to yourself (major key). Be there early and do not expect to be at the destination on time, that is a luxury.

Noise Cancelling Headphones: I pretty much just needed to bold those words to make that point. My last ride included a large man talking to his “boo” on speaker phone about getting arrested for about 45 minutes, use/invest in noise-cancelling headphones.

Travel Light: While sometimes unavoidable, try to only bring a backpack. If you only have a backpack you do not need to load it with the rest of the luggage before, this is the biggest hack there is. If one does not have to wait to load luggage, they shoot to the front of the line and get first dibs on which seat to take (my suggestion is up top). Wear a light sweater just in case the temperature isn’t comfortable.

Break Rules: Upon traveling back from Europe I brought two suitcases to load up (which is against the rules) and I recently fit a bottle of wine in a sports water bottle (alcohol is not allowed). That being said I reaped the benefits of both giving me a richer experience but don’t get caught!

Remember Windows Reflect: This one is a good one to remember. I have read countless conversations via window reflection of passengers in front of me, I even saw a guy watching porn at one point. While entertainment value is nice on a long trip, remember that your phone will project the same image so face the other way if possible.

Don’t Trust the Bus: Wifi, don’t rely on it. My suggestion is to download some podcasts, offline playlists and some movies pre-ride. I am a big fan of long-form podcasts so I binged the Joe Rogan Experience on my ride. For droid users I use the app Podcast Addict. Spotify Premium offers a function to download a playlist so you can listen without using data. Lastly, you should know how to download a movie and most Blue Ray’s come with a digital copy to upload to your computer. Outlets also tend not to work so when you get first choice at seats make sure the orange light is lit on your power outlet.

Acceptance: For some of you, you know what you may or may not be getting yourself into, so be prepared and accept a what may prove to be anything but a smooth ride. The beauty of the Megabus is it’s low price, anyone can buy a ticket! But that is also its disadvantage, anyone can afford a $5 ticket, anyone. To be 100 percent honest with you (my readers) one of my favorite activities is reading reviews of some Megabus experiences. Without further ado:

Pavan (Consumeraffairs.com): “(The) Bus from White Marsh arrived at time but the scroller on the bus read Chicago/Cleveland so I stayed in my car waiting for my bus… The idiot driver never changed the scroller. This bus left at 6.35 pm. Again, the moron driver never changed the sign on the bus so I assumed that my bus was late… When I called they informed me that the bus that left at 6.35 was in fact the bus to Phila! I was at the stop 15 min. before the time and missed the bus due to the imbecile driving the bus… I want my money back. Megabus belongs needs to reimburse me for their stupid crew’s mistake which lead to me missing the right bus! How can I give Megabus minus stars!”

Penny (Consumeraffairs.com): “Yes Megabus! I understand it’s not your fault car service broke down, but the least they could have done is honor the already purchase ticket for the next day!!!! IT’S A MONEY MAKING BUSINESS AND THERE’S NO HUMANITY OR HONOR IN THIS BUS COMPANY.”

Starr (Consumeraffairs.com): “If you were on this bus please join me in filing a civil suit or signing a petition to get a full refund. I will never do business with Megabus again. From here on out we will be flying. Thank you for nothing Megabus!”

Shannon (Yelp.com): “Do not waste your money. Seek other options. Cheap, yes, but it will happen to you eventually. For the sake of your sanity and wallet, I repeat: STAY AWAY FROM MEGABUS.

Very unfortunate.
One star for the drivers. They are nice.”

Jamie (Yelp.com): “We arrived to the stop at 7:31 for a 7:30 bus. I know we were late but the bus was stopped at the light. We waved the bus down and the bitch refused to let us on. Why are you so mean megabus? Hate you.”

Cal (Yelp.com): “1/2 star rating not 1 maybe it was just that particular bus

I have three words for you!  Take The Train!!!!!!  This is by far the absolute worst travel experience I have ever had And I travel A LOT.

The ONLY two things good about this stupid service is it left on time, we arrived safely and it was actually early. That’s all!!! With ZERO comfort the whole way

Where do I begin?

I have one word to describe this experience.

GHETTO!!!!!!!!!

This entire bus slightly smells like a combo of bad breath, body odor and cigarettes

Bus is very very stuffy

Employees incredibly rude

The woman next to me was totally obnoxious, loud and I almost told her to watch her mouth since she was soooo casually swearing

kids next to me were listen to their headphones sooooo loud in the dead of the night you could hear the song and it’s was the same techno house music song for like 7 hours of a 9.5 hour commute It sounded like someone’s cell phone alarm clock going off for all that time

None of the electrical outlets conveniently located right in front of you to charge your mobile device worked

The damn bus was leaking water from the windows from the travel in the rain

Trust me on this!!! Pay the extra $35 and take the train!!”

Joseph (Yelp.com): “(and we won’t even get into the fact that someone was smoking on the bus)”

Final Thoughts: Keep in mind when people take time to review a service, it’s usually because they had a terrible experience, so take the reviews with a grain of salt. In all my experiences on the bus I have had an overall fine time. Nothing too crazy to report so stick to the tips and feel free to comment your Megabus hacks!

My Top Stress Relief Exercises (With detailed reasoning)

In many people’s lives they can really back one thing they believe in, whether it be gender equality, racial justice, bullying or something as light as 30-hour work weeks (hurray!). For me, I believe in mental health. I think many issues in the United States of America are pushed under the “crazy” categorization when really it’s in its roots, a mental health issue. Without getting too deep into the mental health issue, these next bullets are how I stay mentally healthy by limiting and managing stress and why I believe they work.

 

Music:

With no doubt (music pun) in my mind everyone finds stress relief with music whether they know it or not. As I am writing this listicle, I am listening to purposeful music to help me focus. The music I listen to for stress relief is hard to slap a genre on but here’s a try: Trance/Ambient/mello-electronica (really easy to remember). I don’t like a lot of words/lyrics in the music I use to calm me. I use the music to take me out of the world or even to a specific location. Throughout four years I have compiled a playlist of all the songs and sounds I find to get me to that place. The list is loaded with the likes of Tycho, Crystal Castles and Emancipator.

Color Therapy:

I believe (no idea if there is science to back it) that associating myself with a certain color when a specific feeling is desired helps me feel that way. For example, I think the color purple helps me feel mentally unburdened and stress free. Whenever I try to calm myself I use purple lights to create an ambient environment for my head. My Tumblr is decorated with many posts using this glow, or ambience. I follow many blogs dedicated to the exact thing. Every time I turn those lights on, I know it’s time to relax.

Meditation:

Meditation can be what a person wants it to be, in my opinion. What I mean by that rudimentary sentence is that meditation is not limited to guided, or breathe awareness exercises. My meditation is a combination of points above. To feel fully aware of myself on this earth and to completely be in the moment, I use my lights, listen to my playlist and many times burn incense. I need to constantly remind my brain why these element are being presented and it now is automatic to the feeling I am trying to achieve. I believe in my meditation I have almost every sense stimulated (except taste) in a manner that I know gets me where I need to be. I encourage everyone to try many techniques, each person is different and  reach awareness differently, that’s the beauty of meditation!

Exercise:

I have always been an athlete but the beauty of exercise is that anyone can do it no matter your athleticism. Ever since I ended my competitive sports career I have focused on lifting weights and bettering my running times. In doing so I found that nothing else matters to me in those moments. In the eight months of my consistent exercise I found that adding weights I can lift, cutting down seconds on my running times and seeing results stimulate my mind in a very specific way. While it is difficult to pinpoint the epicenter of this feeling, I think that it’s possibly because I get to focus on my body and my health solely for that hour or two, there’s something beautiful in that. A bi-product of the focus on my health and exercise is the awareness of my diet. I have been able to focus on what my body needs not only physically but nutritionally.

Skateboard/Longboard:

While probably hyper-specific to me, I find riding very soothing. Funny enough I don’t like listening to music while riding. The sounds, sights and monotony of my wheels hitting the cracks in the sidewalk makes for a nice break from this crazy world. Don’t worry I can’t do any tricks at all besides acting like when I fell down it didn’t hurt. Not too much skill required to longboard, try it out!pennyboardchi

Honorable Mention/Guilty Pleasure: Wine:

While I don’t condone alcohol consumption as a stress relief technique, it would be unfair to say that I don’t use it. Cabernet Sauvignon is my poison and although alcohol has some seriously detrimental effects, red wine has some benefits (AKA resveratrol- look it up!).