The Best Movies With Killer Soundtracks From the Early ’90’s

Every teenager loves music, and I was no exception.  The early ’90’s were that transition period from high school to college for me.  It was the beginning of the grunge movement, a rock offshoot that still makes my musical heart go pitter-patter and yearn for those youthful days before bills and kids and Snoop Doggy Dog.

As the mother of a teenager I try to remember how important music used to be to me, especially when he’s be-bopping around the house with earphones and singing off-key. Somewhere along the line, I lost my connection to that part of me that revolved around a great tune.  When I brought this up to a friend recently, she agreed that the older we’ve gotten the less we’ve listened. This brought us around to our favorite movies of that time period that had awesome soundtracks.  We whittled it down to five.

(Click on the titles for a direct link to purchase each soundtrack. I make no money from this. Just sharing the awesomeness. ;) )

1. Empire Records

This movie did not do well in theaters and it baffles me to this day.  It’s worth the time for Gen Xers to watch for two simple reasons: a) the soundtrack is amazing, featuring up-and-comers of its time like The Gin Blossoms, The Cranberries and Toad the Wet Sprocket, and b) it takes place in the relic of our youth–a record store. Filled with a representative of every social level you ever encountered in high school, there isn’t much for someone who loves the ’90’s not to embrace here. It’s a classic coming-of-age movie that truly does ROCK.

2. Singles

No list of ’90’s movies is ever complete unless it includes this one. I have to admit, though, that I love this movie for three reasons, the third being the most bizarre. First, of course, is the fact that it’s a great romantic comedy and the perfect date night movie if you’re looking for the nostalgia of your youth. Second, this movie not only has oodles of cameos of significant people from the Seattle grunge movement, but they also appear on the soundtrack. Those of us who were really into that scene will forever consider this album when picking out their college anthem, with bands like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam (when they were just starting out and were known as Mookie Blaylock). Which leads me to my third reason for loving this movie.  Two words: Eddie. Vedder. He has a brief cameo in the movie. Every self-respecting grunge lover had a crush on him in the ’90’s (some of us still do!).

3.  Forrest Gump

Seldom has there ever been a movie whose soundtrack was so huge.  It took 2 full CD’s to capture this album’s awesomeness. Because the movie takes place over the span of one man’s life, the music feels like the soundtrack to history itself. Featuring Elvis, Joan Baez, Creedance Clearwater Revival and Bob Seger, it has something for everyone. This movie is a lovely tear-jerker and the music doesn’t disappoint.

4.  Reality Bites

Whenever I bring this one up, my friends cringe, but I can’t help but love it. For one, it’s full of pop culture references and I am a pop culture junkie. Who doesn’t like a movie that beckons memories from our youth like “Conjunction Junction?” And, again, this soundtrack is really great, featuring Lisa Loeb’s breakout hit “Stay (I Missed You).” She didn’t even have a record label yet when this song got popular, all because of a little movie about our generation becoming disenfranchised after college graduation. Let’s face it, it was a little prophetic, too, wasn’t it?

5. Dazed and Confused

Maybe this list says more about my movie taste than it does about my love of music, but this movie does not deserve the cross-eyed looks I get when I mention it. I love it because it takes place in the ’70’s–not because I particularly care for the fashion, but because I love the cars. I remember driving in the back of a few of them as a kid.  I miss the days an entire family could fit comfortably in a car and no one worried about gas mileage. Not only was this film a spot-on reflection of high school dynamics, but the soundtrack harkens me back to my childhood and dancing to KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd in my grandfather’s living room. We saved Alice Cooper for home.

Very few movies of the ’90’s could boast the shear talent found on these soundtracks.  Seldom do you find a movie that is both great and has a killer soundtrack. I think I am going to wrangle my teen into a ’90’s movie night this weekend just so I can share some of the tunes his mama used to sing off-key.

Meniere’s Disease and Me: Be kind when I ask you to repeat yourself

I’ve had issues with hearing for years. Because of horrible ear infections when I was a kid, I have a build-up of scar tissue around the bones in my right ear which makes it difficult for me to hear. If I cover my good ear to listen with my bad one people sound like they are talking in tin cans, and I can only make out that they are saying something, not what they are saying.  You can’t whisper in my right ear and expect me to respond.  Except for feeling someone breathing on my neck, I won’t hear anything.Meneire's Disease, hearing loss, deaf, deafness

In the last few months I’ve learned that I have something called Meniere’s Disease, which only adds to my hearing issues.  (Find out more about the particulars of Meniere’s Disease here.) Now, instead of one bad ear, I have two– the hearing in my left ear is in decline, also. Basically, something is wrong with the fluid in my ears and I am slowly going deaf. Not something you want to hear when you’re 41.

While my husband and children have learned over the years that a person with hearing issues requires a little more thought when speaking to them (like not turning away mid speech, not trying to speak without moving your lips, not speaking to me when my back is turned, not expecting me to hear them and the person I’m talking on the phone with…), the thought that I may be completely deaf some day is unsettling for them.  I am terrified.

I keep thinking about all that I will miss out on when my hearing finally goes kaput.  I’ll not be able to hear my husband and children say they love me anymore.  Will I be able to hear my grandchildren’s voices? Will I have to wear hearing aids and still be hard of hearing? Will I talk funny? Will I need to learn sign language?  Even though I’m a writer, I don’t relish the idea of writing down every word I want to say.  Will I feel isolated, even more so than I do now?  Will people give up communicating with me because it’s just too damn hard? I already have a hard time deciphering what characters in shows are saying sometimes, but will the day come that I need closed captioning to understand anything I watch?

I see people who live with others with hearing loss issues. They get angry when whoever they are speaking to doesn’t hear them or asks them to repeat themselves a few times. I hear their families chastise them about getting hearing aids and how their hearing loss is frustrating their family members. It breaks my heart, and it seems incredibly insensitive, but I can see why it would be difficult to live with someone who can’t hear.

I think of all the things I love to hear:  birds singing, my children laughing, spoken word poetry by Shane Koyczan, and my favorite authors speak. And I wonder how they will change for me when my world goes silent.

So, I stand on a precipice of sorts when it comes to my hearing. For now, I will be thankful for what hearing I have. I’ll try to focus on the fact that I’m not deaf yet.  I have no idea when my hearing is going to be gone.  There’s always a chance that I will just be hard of hearing and not completely deaf.  Declining hearing sucks no matter how you dice it.  I’m still missing out on sounds that others hear, little clues in daily life that completely pass me by.

One thing is for sure: the list of what I can’t hear is only growing. And it’s breaking my heart.

Do you have an experience to share about Meneire’s Disease?  Have you or a loved one been faced with a sudden disability? Share your experiences in the comments below.

If you’d like to read more of my writing, please check out Lemonade and Holy Stuff, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


SCOTUS Makes Marriage Legal for Everyone!

I’m not going to lie.  I was worried for some time that The Supreme Court of the United States would fail its people.  I’m glad to see that I was wrong.  This morning history was made and SCOTUS made marriage legal for all United States citizens. Today the terms “gay marriage” and “marriage equality” became obsolete.

While I am over-the-moon happy about this decision I find myself divided on one issue:  My children’s reactions.  They woke up this morning, groggy-eyed and zombie-like, shuffling off to breakfast.

“Jimmy, did you hear?  The Supreme Court just made marriage legal for everyone!”

With a barely muffled grunt he said, “Okay.”lovewins

“Jimmy, this is a red-letter day in history.  You’ll be able to tell your kids you remember when people weren’t afforded the right to marry, that you were alive and cognizant of the weight of this decision ON. THE. DAY. IT. HAPPENED.”

He chewed his cereal with bovine zeal.

His brother shuffled in.

“Tony, SCOTUS just made marriage legal for everyone!  Isn’t that great?”

“What’s SCOTUS?”

I groaned and shoved aside my worries about his education.  “The Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

“Oh.  Nice.”  And again with the bovine zeal.

They didn’t get it.  They didn’t get that decades of oppression was just swatted down by the literal law of this land.

My thoughts strayed to my friends in high school and college who were gay and lesbian, who couldn’t live their lives openly, much less consider the idea of marriage.  I thought of the violence so many of them had faced, even being beaten to death because of who they were.  I thought of friends I had made as an adult who married in a state that wasn’t their own, and weren’t recognized as a legal couple except in a handful of places.

It all dissolved in a puff of smoke.  It all became “the past” with one bang of a gavel.  My friends are married in the eyes of the law everywhere they travel in the U.S. now.  They will have the legal rights afforded everyone born here.  Every last one.

While my kids may not get the weight of this decision, I sure do.  I get it.

I’m glad the U.S. legal system gets it now, too.


Let’s face it, boys are weird

I never realized the extent to which boys are weird until I had nieces.  Girls sit still.  They are sometimes quiet. They play house and they teach school.  They even mother their dolls and give Barbie high fashion makeovers, not to mention aspirations of becoming a lawyer or doctor.

Boys do not do “sitting still.”  They come with two switches at birth:  on and off.  “On” means full tilt, through the dirt, all day.  Boys are dipped in sugar, rolled in grass clippings and mulch, all the while attempting to break the sound barrier while going anywhere.  “Off” happens while being wrangled out of the bath and wrestled into pajamas.  Nine chances out of ten, they fall asleep mid-squirm and mid-sentence, their batteries just as drained as yours.

My sons had a doll each when they were small.  Both of them asked for one for Christmas one year.  They learned how to father them, of their own accord, for about a day.  After that their babies were stark naked Nerf gun targets and cannon fodder.  Their dolls were given jobs like Hollywood stunt double or dinosaur attack victim.  All I could do was sit back and watch as one of their babies launched across the back yard, a failure at making it over the swing set via the slingshot they created (with the goal post from a long-lost football game and a piece of elastic scavenged from my sewing basket).

Once they had cousins who were female I thought some calm may rub off on them.  My hopes were dashed pretty quickly.

Tony came home from his aunt’s house one day, excited beyond belief.

“Mom, Alexandria said I could have some of her broken Barbies.  She even said I could have her Barbie house when she was done.”

Visions of Barbie’s new career as Fay Wray to Tony’s RC King Kong ran through my mind.  “What are you going to do with a bunch of broken dolls and Barbie’s Dream House?”

“Well, I thought I could decorate them with Sharpies and turn it into a haunted mansion.  It won’t matter what shape the Barbies are in.  I plan on turning them into the zombies that live in the mansion.  I’ll need some Halloween spider web, of course, but it would be perfect!”

I guess I’ll give the kid ten points for creativity.

I know you’re sitting back in your chair, thinking that I’m making this up.  Well, you’re wrong.

So accustomed to their weirdness I have become, that I don’t even notice anymore.

Case in point:

I woke up with a stuffy nose, laryngitis and aches and pains.  We were out of milk. Like many mothers out there I was the only one with a license who could drive.  I dragged myself and Tony to the store.  I gave him the few dollars he needed to go in and purchase our milk.  It wasn’t until he came out that I realized what he looked like.

Zombie preparedness at its finest.

Zombie preparedness at its finest.

Yeah, that’s my kid.  In a gas mask.  At the grocery store.

And you wonder why I say boys are weird.

What’s the weirdest thing your kids have ever done?  I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

For more stories about what my crazy kids do, purchase my book Lemonade and Holy Stuff.  It’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

My Tribe: How Online Networking Helped Me Find My People


A misfit among misfits is how I’ve felt for most of my life.  Growing up, I never really fit in anywhere.  Sure I had friends, but I didn’t fit in with preppy kids because I was too poor.  I didn’t fit in with the stoner kids, because I just didn’t look like them much less partake of what earned them their moniker. I didn’t fit in with the nerds or punkers, either.  As a teenager, I was big into the hippie culture of the late ’60’s, long before there were hipsters or whatever the hell they call themselves today.  I walked around with peace signs on my jeans jacket, hair in a long braid down past my butt. My musical tastes ran a spectrum most kids scoffed at.  I stuck out a little bit more than your average misfit.

Once I went to college I found a few more misfits like me, but still they weren’t my tribe.  I wasn’t into the drugs, sleeping around and partying that many of them were.  I had a job to do, get through school, so I could start earning a living wage and get on with my life.

Eventually I married and had kids and changed careers.  I wanted to write.  I had wanted to be a writer since I was in high school, but I, and others around me, brushed it off as not being a viable selection as far as careers were concerned.  It took me until well into my thirties to realize that that was a bunch of B.S.

I dipped my toe into the writing pool around age 36 and got a few things published. However, ever the pessimist that I am, I backed off on my goals, believing that it was a fluke.  I wanted to bask in that success and not have it ruined by a bazillion rejections.  Not a bright move, in hindsight.

Thankfully, through the wonder of blogging and writing, I found a writer much like me and she encouraged me to keep going.  While I had no end of encouragement at home from my Sweet Babboo and my friends, this encouragement was different.  This came from someone who understood the torture that is writing, the push and pull of banging around in your own head for hours a day putting words to paper.

Then she formed a secret group of writers who could get together and share ideas, ask questions and just be themselves.  In that group I’ve found a sort of Shangri-La. In the few months that I’ve been there, I’ve learned more about the writing business, blogging and freelancing than I have in the past 5 years all by myself.  I’ve found a group of people who share the same neuroses as me, who are haunted by the same writerly fears as me, and who get that sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants as motivation to keep going.

And they are unbelievably kind, giving, open people.  They have banded together virtually and in person by attending a conference together.  Then we found out that my friend’s secret group isn’t all that secret.  There are people desperate to join the fun.  My friend, whether intentionally or not, created a small writer’s community filled with some of the most amazing talent the internet has to offer today.  And I cannot tell you how much I am amazed.

All of this started because a lady in Maine reached out to me one day to say she liked my writing.  That’s it.  A stranger took the leap and contacted me. From there I found my tribe because she grabbed me by my virtual sleeve and dragged me along with her.  And I’m so glad she did.

Even though I am truly a fledgling writer when it comes to freelance work, I don’t feel as if I don’t belong.  I am writing and sending out submissions daily. There are nearly 140 people in the blogosphere who know my name and come to my rescue at the slightest mention of needing help.  It’s a marvelous little world and it speaks to the power of networking.  It speaks to the generosity of our species.

Never have I been more proud to be called writer.

What about you?  Have you found your tribe? If so, how?  Leave your story in the comments.