Good Mood Music: The Lady In My Life

…And I will keep you warm
Through the shadows of the night
Let me touch you with my love
I can make you feel so right…
…And baby through the years
Even when we’re old and gray
I will love you more each day
‘Cause you will always be the lady in my life…

Despite Michael Jackson being the “King of Pop” and revered for his dancing abilities, I gravitate towards the ballads in his catalog for many of my very favorite MJ songs.

The pattern holds true when it comes to my favorite song on his legendary Thriller album. While I really like listening to the more uptempo tracks, I can listen to  “The Lady In My Life” on repeat like no other.

I remember someone a few years ago asking people to name their favorite 3-5 MJ songs, and “The Lady In My Life” was mentioned surprisingly often. Surprising because of the 7 singles released off the 9 song containing Thriller, “The Lady In My Life” wasn’t one. The popularity of the album’s closing tune has been as much by happenstance as a song on the world’s best selling album ever could have.

I love the song so much that songs that sample it automatically increase their standing with me. Case and point: “Hey Lover” by LL Cool J featuring Boyz II Men.

Make no mistake, I already love LL and Boyz II Men so I likely would’ve liked, or really liked, that song anyway. However, the sample puts it over the top in a similar way that the “Show You The Way To Go” sample helped make LaDae’s “Party2Nite” a permanent fixture in my music collection.


Good Mood Music: “Mask Off” ChallengeĀ 

I love musicians that can combine their training on classic instruments and put their own take on contemporary music.

The “Mask Off” Challenge is one of those moments. The song that inspired the challenge is a trap rap song performed by Future.

I’m a strings girl, so many of my faves were done by violinists and cellists like the few below.

Though I like the string instrument renditions, I know that the strong attraction of the song lies in the flute. Flute melodies like the one in this song were used in negro spirituals. That flute just draws people in.

Bonus: Here’s another recent classic instrument and contemporary song mashup I love.


Final Thoughts: The Top 17 Teams of the 2017 Women’s NCAA Gym SeasonĀ 

Preseason Prediction
Pre-Postseason Update

After 3.5 months, the teams that started as the top 6 in the rankings ended as the Super Six for 2017. But more than a half dozen teams deserve recognition for the freshly completed season. So here are some final thoughts on the teams that finished at the head of the field in women’s NCAA gymnastics this year.

1st – Oklahoma: It was a wire-to-wire season victory. The Sooners are basically a team of anchor performers. There’s no weakness in their lineup. As a result, the team won the championship in record fashion (198.3875 final score during the Super Six final).

2nd – LSU: Like OU, LSU was solid the whole season from the first meet with virtually no busted meets. They were the only team that realistically had a shot to dethrone OU, but wasn’t as sharp in the final as they were in their record-setting semifinal performance. (Having to compete two times in less than 24 hours during Nationals could’ve been a factor.)

3rd – Florida: It went under the radar somewhat, but it was a great season. Plus they don’t have any competition routines to replace for next season (Claire Boyce, who medically retired earlier in the season, was the only senior on the squad), so they have a good chance of improving their finish next season.

4th – UCLA: 4th was probably the ceiling for UCLA this year with the vault issues and run-ins with the inconsistency bug the team faced this year. They definitely have the bars and beam to challenge OU, the task now is to bring the other two events up to the same level.

5th – Utah: Did really well to manage their rash of injuries and display a respectable season-long performance that included a PAC-12 title.

6th – Alabama: In the last 25 years, the team has missed Super Six twice: 1997 and 2007. It was a distinct possibility that the pattern could continue in 2017. However, the team did make Super Six with one of its best meets of the season in semis. That’s the good news. The bad? The inconsistency that marked the team’s season caught up to them in finals.
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Some of My Favorite NCAA Leos of the 2017 SeasonĀ 

I didn’t get around to a favorite leo post last year, so I’m bringing it back for 2017.

This is my favorite leo of the year. It was one Auburn debuted early in the season.

Our routine of the week goes to @emma_engler who crushed this bar set to get a 9.9! #WarEagle

A post shared by Auburn University Gymnastics (@auburngymnastics) on

Note: I posted this before Nationals, so I didn’t get to see the debuts that happened there. I had to come back and add this one from Alabama to the list. It ties with Auburn’s leo above for my fave of 2017.

If you described the leo below to someone without them seeing it, they’d probably say the top and sleeves sound too busy. But it works. To be honest this leo, worn by Michigan, would’ve made a really good LSU leo for Mardi Gras.

Screenshot from Meet

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Gymnastics, Olympics

The Most Decorated US Olympic Women Gymnasts

In my (quite possibly, but not intentionally biased) opinion, the already ridiculously tough goal of winning Olympic medals is a little harder in gymnastics than in other some sports.

Because of the extreme pounding the sport in general — let alone the medal-worthy routines — can entail, a large percentage of gymnasts are lucky to get through a single Olympic cycle instead of the multiple chances you’re more likely to see in sports like swimming and track. In addition, the presence of multiple relays in those sports increases the number of potential medal chances whereas gymnastics only has one team competition.

In light of the typically short career lifespan and comparatively fewer opportunities to medal, it makes the accomplishment of the 5 gymnasts that made Team USA’s current list of the 29 Most Decorated Female Olympians of All Time that much more incredible.
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Good Mood Music: Here Come The Girls

Mardi Gras was a few weeks ago, but the spirit of celebration is alive in this song whenever you want to play it. Trombone Shorty’s cover of the Allen Troussaint composed and Ernie K-Doe performed song “Here Come The Girls” is NOLA through and through.

As you can guess from the artist’s name, the horns are on point. The brass playing is so good, it all but renders the lyrics in the song a moot point. The cover is part of Trombone Shorty’s upcoming Parking Lot Symphony album.


Checking In On My 2017 NCAA Gym Preseason PredictionsĀ 

(Alternate Title: I didn’t know there’d be this many major injuries.)

For my preseason Super Six I chose (in alpha order): Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA and Utah. So far so good. These 6 teams are the top 6 in rankings right now (week of March 6).

Oklahoma (#1) is humming along the way everyone expected. The only questions each week for them seem to be: “Which event is Maggie going to score a 10 on?” and “Are they going to hit 198?”

LSU (#2) has found consistency at a high-level, riding a streak of nearly 20 consecutive 197+ meets. If they can have a meet like the one they had against George Washington and Iowa (without the very few mistakes), they could very well challenge for the title — especially with a vault rotation like that one.

The lineup at Florida (#3) came together a little faster than I expected. Their freshman class has stepped up to the challenge, as has transfer Rachel Slocum. Truly, their only speed bump has been a mid-season bout with illness. Although Claire Boyce was forced to retire mid-season because of hip issues, and it’d be nice if Kennedy Baker’s ankle is healthy enough for a postseason run.

UCLA (#4) is doing its normal thing — starting out kinda slow and building the closer we get to conference championship time. Felicia Hano, Angi Cipra and Madison Preston are chief among the team’s gymnasts that have missed meets because of injury. But they’re back or close to back. The only slightly concerning for them is a little vault inconsistency, and maybe not as much floor depth as they initially thought.

Utah (#5) has had more than its fair share of injuries. Sabrina Schwab tore her ACL, then a couple weeks later Kim Tessen tore her achilles — both major contributors. The Utes are hanging in there, however.

Alabama (#6) is an enigma. On paper they look like they can challenge, but really have only put a couple of meets together fully. They also are a step behind their competition in vault difficulty. A myriad of injuries appear to be effecting the team, most notably the ankle issues that have kept Mackenzie Brannan out and Keely McNeer’s recent broken hand from a car accident.

Most of the teams I also had potentially making Nationals before the season like Georgia (#7), Oregon State (#9) and Michigan (#11) are sitting in a good spot as the regular season winds down as well.
Continue reading “Checking In On My 2017 NCAA Gym Preseason PredictionsĀ “