I Miss Soul Train

From the time I was a kid, I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons, all the while anticipating the treat which would come after cartoons were over. The Soul Train theme song would play, and I would settle in for an hour of some of the best music around. I continued this pattern through my early 20’s, and would plan my Saturday around Soul Train, carving out time to watch like the faithful fan I always was. At the 45 minute mark, the Soul Train dance line would form, and I would be glued to the television set, watching all the moves, and looking at all the cool outfits. The Dance Line began as a couples line, then by the 1980’s, it morphed into singlets and the occasional group of dancers moving across the dance floor:

The first Soul Train episode aired on October 2, 1971, and the show ran through March of 2006. That’s 35 years and 1,117 soul, dance, R and B, and funk-filled episodes. Thanks to creator and host Don Cornelius, Soul Train brought black culture into America’s homes, broke down barriers, and wowed people like me. Don Cornelius would close out every episode with a sweeping thrown kiss and a wish to the viewers for “love, peace, and SOUUUUUUUULLLL”, a uniting and loving gesture which became a signature for the show.

For those of you who loved Soul Train as much as I did, you’ll get kick out of the following video, in which former Soul Train dancers share their experiences of being on the show:

Here are two video compilations, one which features the top ten female Soul Train dancers, and the other which showcases the top ten male Soul Train dancers:

Quit Taking My Musical Icons

Michael Jackson’s death in June of 2009 was so shocking and painful for me that I still feel profound sadness over his passing. I grew up listening to his music, so his voice and artistic vision helped to define my entire life from childhood. David Bowie had a similar impact on my growing years, and I was so passionately moved by his musical genius that he remained a favorite artist from the time I was very little through today. Though Bowie was ill from cancer, his death was shocking as well, and my heart has been heavy from it.

When I heard that Prince was dealing with poor health, I began to worry. Surely this 57 year old multitalented musical god wasn’t near death’s door? Alarm bells went off in my head when I heard about the emergency plane landing on April 15th. Then on the morning of Thursday, April 21st, I flipped to Sirius XM’s Z100NY and thought it was very odd that a Prince song from 1984, “When Doves Cry”, was playing, since the station runs current hits. I pulled into a gas station and turned off the ignition to pump my gas. When I started up the car, “Purple Rain” was playing on Z100NY. I groaned and thought, “Oh no…”, grabbed my phone and looked up Prince. Sure enough, news of his death had hit the world.

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It’s been seventeen days since Prince’s death, and I still feel like I was punched in the solar plexus. I have been listening to The Groove to soak up Prince’s music, and my iPod runs Prince tunes while I am training at the gym. Admittedly, though, I already had a collection of Prince songs loaded onto my iPod for many years, so jamming to something like “Sexy M.F.” was a regular occurrence. There is no doubt that I am one of the many millions of Prince fans who are in mourning, who appreciate the enormous talent this man had. Prince was daring, controversial, brilliant, innovative, original, and charismatic, and had a profound influence on my teen years and early adulthood.

R.I.P. Prince.

What Do You Want To See On My Blog?

Noel Denim

Hey everyone! I wanted to check in with you to see what you would like to see on my blog. Since I have been posting every single day, it can be a real challenge to come up with content to post. For that reason, I am not as prone to write lengthy posts.

I have also decided to change my posting frequency to three days per week from now on. I will post every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or Sunday.

Here is a list of topics which I typically cover:

Preventative health
Optimal health
Brain health
Medical conditions
Anti-aging
Nutrition
Healthy recipes
Supplements
Weightlifting
Exercise
Fitness
Bodybuilding
Sports
Cosmetic Dermatology
Skincare
Makeup
Personal grooming
Empowerment
Modeling
Branding
Fashion
Bodybuilding contests and prep
Music
Pets
Relationships
Travel
Comedy
Entertainment

I welcome suggestions from you! Please reply to this post and let me know how I can best accommodate your interests.

Thanks so much for following my blog!

Music Performance and Cognitive Function

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Please check out my original post at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/music-performance-and-cognitive-function/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Play For Your Brain

Not all of us are able to play musical instruments well, but the challenge of learning to play one can be a fun hobby. Recent research suggests that people who play a musical instrument regularly, even if they aren’t musically gifted per se, are reinforcing their brain’s function at the same time.

Musical training is thought to increase neural connections in the brain which are associated with decision making, complex memory, and creativity. Musical education can even boost cognitive function in people who have suffered from strokes, and equip the brain to adapt by using intact brain regions.

Musical Brains

Numerous studies have proven that the brains of musicians differ functionally and structurally from the brains of non-musicians. Skilled musicians are like athletes, because they need to coordinate multiple senses, and focus on complex elements like melody and tempo, while performing a piece.

There is also research which suggests that the areas used in musical performance are closely linked with other important cognitive functions. One study by Schaug discovered that musical disorders such as tone deafness affect about 4 to 10 percent of the population, which is the same percentage range seen with disabilities such as dyslexia and dyscalculia (math difficulties).

Another study, performed by Wang, examined the brains of 48 young adults who had studied music for at least one year between the ages of 3 and 15. The subjects who had begun musical training before the age of 7 had greater development in the areas of the brain associated with language and executive function.

The Submarines Biography Is So Interesting!

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I enjoy the musical arrangements and vocals which characterize songs by indie pop group The Submarines, but I had no idea how interesting their biography was!

The Submarines consist of John Dragonetti (aka Jack Drag) and Blake Hazard, who met in Boston and began to collaborate musically and romantically. Dragonetti produced Hazard’s debut solo album, Little Airplane, in 2002, from which point they began playing and performing with each other’s bands. Shortly thereafter, the couple moved west to Los Angeles, but their relationship ended in late 2004. The breakup turned out to be magical for their respective songwriting, however, and since Hazard was still recording at Dragonetti’s studio, the two began sharing the songs they had written about their breakup. This collaboration also rekindled their romance and the two got back together, recorded the breakup songs, and ultimately married. Their 2006 album Declare a New State! was mastered by a friend as a wedding present. As a reflection of better times, their 2008 release Honeysuckle Weeks featured much happier songs.

My All-Time Favorite Musical Artists

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about all of my favorite musical artists throughout my life, so I thought it would be fun to compile a list of them here. I figured the best way to do it would be to group them by the decade in which I was first influenced by them. In an effort to keep the list from being exhaustive, I have decided to omit bands which I might have liked in the past but cannot listen to now. What I ended up with was a list of my all-time favorite bands and artists who have stood the test of time and held my interest.

Rolling Stones
1960’s:
Rolling Stones
Stevie Wonder
Jackson 5
Aretha Franklin

david-bowie
1970’s:
Elton John
David Bowie
Led Zeppelin
Aerosmith
Journey
Earth, Wind & Fire

the Doors
1980’s:
Jimi Hendrix
Pink Floyd
The Doors
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Prince
Michael Jackson

NIN
1990’s:
Janet Jackson
Lenny Kravitz
Dishwalla
Rage Against The Machine
Nine Inch Nails
Portishead

white stripes
2000’s:
White Stripes
Kings of Leon
Keane
Coldplay

NBT
2010’s:
Muse
Royal Blood
Nothing But Thieves

Oh To Feel Music Again…

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I am completely sick of pop and Top 40 music and have been for a very long time. Most of it is filled with vacuous lyrics and modulated voices, and the only visceral response which it triggers in me is disgust. The worst offenders for me in recent years have been Katy Perry and Meghan Trainor, but I am also underwhelmed by the fact that every song by The Weeknd sounds exactly the same, and that other artists are starting to bore me to tears.

Even some alternative bands have been on my banned list, such as Walk The Moon and Florence + The Machine. I swear, if I hear “Shut Up + Dance” by Walk the Moon ONE more time, I will rip out my eyebrow hairs one by one! I also do not see what the fuss is about Florence + The Machine, because that excessive female vibrato and operatic quality in Florence Welch’s voice absolutely grates on my nerves. The only song I like from this band is “Heavy In Your Arms” because it is dark, and Florence keeps her ridiculous vibrato under control:

However, because I have been diving deep in the musical waters of alternative music lately, I have been pleasantly surprised by the incredible talent which lives there, and I have been finding some amazing songs and unbelievably talented artists. Alternative music has always been a favorite genre, and it has always appealed to my quasi-goth, vampire loving self. If music is dark, murky, disturbed, and off the beaten path, I am far more likely to enjoy it (however, I love R&B, blues, and Motown as well). There are old school alternative bands I will always adore, including Radiohead, NIN, and Rage Against The Machine, but there have been some new additions to my iPod lately. I have been eating up music by Satin Jackets, Phantogram, Wolf Alice, Muse, AWOLNATION, Coleman Hell, Royal Blood, Dorothy, BØRNS, and I could definitely go on.

I kept hearing “Trip Switch” by Nothing But Thieves over the last few months and was intrigued by the fact that the more I listened to that song, the more I wanted to hear it. Usually I get tired of hearing a song all the time, but this one grew on me and tugged at my spirit until I broke down and investigated the other songs by this band. When I did, I was completely blown away, and can honestly say that I absolutely love every single song by this massively talented band. I feel like I want to crawl inside every song and live there, that’s how powerful their music is.

In case you want to explore music by Nothing But Thieves, you can check out their official website here:

http://www.nbthieves.com/

Nothing But Thieves is one of the best bands to come on the scene this decade, and I am convinced that they will be HUGE. May their talent and their energy take them to the very top, because that is where they belong.

I Dig Trip Hop

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For the past few weeks I have really gotten back into trip hop. Trip hop is a sensual blend of electronica and down-tempo hip-hop, urban and ethereal, street and ambience, very smooth and trancy, which is why it is often referred to as “chill-out music”. Trip hop is known as “Bristol Sound” s a result of its origins in Bristol, England.

Popular trip hop groups which I would consider my favorites are: Portishead, Phantogram, Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Lamb, Morcheeba, Tricky, Propellerheads, Olive, and the Sneaker Pimps. One of the things I love about this style of music is that it is great music for me to write to, and there is rarely a song I dislike.

Here is a sample of a song from Portishead, which is my number one favorite trip hop band:

Portishead “Numb”

I am obsessed with this song from Phantogram right now:

This is great music!

Are You A Sponsored Athlete Or An Unpaid Salesperson?

Original post can be found here:

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/11790-are-you-a-sponsored-athlete-or-an-unpaid-salesperson.html

Are you an athlete
Most sports supplement companies and other fitness related companies aggressively promote their products through athletes who can sing the praises of their benefits. Who could be better at describing the efficacy of a product and how it enhances training or recovery than an athlete who not only already uses those types of products, but someone who has a following and who can convince new customers to purchase from the company which they represent?

Here’s where things get problematic. The pool of bodybuilding and fitness athletes is pretty massive, and the waters are teeming with athletes who are anxious to get their so-called “big break”. As a result of this, savvy marketing teams from fitness related companies often sweep up these individuals because they are enthusiastic and can propel a brand’s exposure. All the company needs to do is to offer some free product to the athlete and provide instructions on how to use social media to get the word out that these products exist. Then the athletes post images of themselves holding or using products, and add affiliate codes so that any orders which are generated through that athlete’s post are credited to the athlete. This can be a great way for an athlete to make some extra money while competing or chasing down fitness related gigs and projects.

It is important to bear in mind that such athletes really aren’t sponsored, but are instead unpaid salespeople who provide free advertising and generate sales via social media posts which direct followers to product websites. Yes, they get commissions if they have affiliate codes, but such commissions are nothing to write home about unless someone is really blowing the roof off in sales. This is in stark contrast to a true athlete sponsorship, in which an athlete is paid to represent the brand as a brand ambassador. The sponsored athlete is chosen for his or her physique, performance history and awards, facial good looks, charisma, enthusiasm, and often the size of his or her social media following. Usually a sponsored athlete signs a contract which stipulates that he or she will receive a certain amount of free product, and in most cases will also receive financial compensation which is either paid via a monthly salary or via a contest stipend. Though the athlete usually agrees to a set requirement or recommendation to provide social media posts for the company at regular intervals, the company pays the athlete for his or her trouble. Personal appearances and events are also part of the sponsored athlete agreement and clearly described in the written contract. The sponsored athlete is compensated for use of his or her likeness on advertising materials as well.

Obviously it is a far better deal to become an official sponsored athlete for a company. Otherwise, you are just providing free advertising and cheap labor in exchange for products which are sold at a significant markup from what they are manufactured at. If you post a selfie with product that somehow goes viral, the company will certainly love the boost, but I doubt you will ever see any type of compensation if you aren’t a sponsored athlete, which means you provided your likeness for free. The truth of the matter is that there are only a handful of athlete sponsorships to go around, with a massive surplus of athletes vying for those spots. The athletes who end up getting sponsorships stand out from the crowd in some way, or fit a brand’s look and philosophy so well that it makes sense to bring them on board to represent a brand. The rest of the athletes must navigate through all the companies out there to try to find an arrangement which benefits them in some way. Sometimes it is easy to sell a product, usually because the athlete enjoys using it so much that he or she doesn’t mind providing free advertising or labor.

Sometimes a supplement company will launch a contest which is based on social media posts. One company, which shall remain unnamed, launched a huge campaign this year that was patterned on this idea, and decided to award 5 of the entrants $10,000. Sure, that sounds like a good chunk of change, but if there were 8,000 entrants, then 7,995 walked away with nothing. At the end of the campaign, the company got tons of free advertising and all those hashtags they requested for “tracking” purposes also propelled their brand in a huge way. To be honest, this is a brilliant marketing tactic, but not the best move for the majority of athletes who participated. I have also seen companies launch contests in which entrants must purchase a product, then post on social media with hashtags to enter the contest. This is another form of free advertising for the company, a great way to generate sales, a brilliant means for them to boost exposure, and yet another way for athletes to be suckered into doing free advertising. I don’t see much harm in taking part in such a contest if you truly love a product and want to proclaim it, but just remember that it works wonders as an advertising tool for the company without any benefit for you.

One thing I will never advocate is purchasing products, even at a steep discount, while also representing a brand as one of its “sponsored” athletes. If you are asked to pay for a product while also providing free advertising on social media channels, run quickly in the other direction! Basically you are dealing with a company which doesn’t value you enough as an athlete to provide compensation for your advertising efforts. This isn’t the same as purchasing a product, finding out you like it, THEN posting something on social media which lets people know how much you like it. I know of several athletes who had done this, which sparked the attention of the company which manufactured the product, eventually leading to a sponsorship deal. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT PAY for products as a way to get false sponsorship for a company.

It isn’t a bad thing to work as an unpaid salesperson in the fitness industry as long as you know your place and value. Once your following builds, the smart thing to do is to leverage your visibility into getting an athlete sponsorship. The main thing is to make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of in the process.