Who Let the Dogs Out?

dogs-running-1-1623343-639x425FreeImages.com/Dora Pete

I was never a fan of the throwback, party anthem “Who Let The Dogs Out?”, but these days I find myself asking that very same question. My neighborhood is filled with loose dogs. Some are strays, but most are just doggies running around freely because their owners just don’t give a f***.

I moved in with my cousin early last year to save money while in school. It’s not the most desirable area of town, but since his particular neighborhood is fairly safe, I decided to suck it up and move on in. Little did I know I was moving into a wildlife preserve for canines.

For the 1st couple of months, the dog situation was fine. My next door neighbor’s dog would occasionally break loose from the tree he’s tethered to, but the dog was harmless. He’s a solid black dog with the body of a German Shephard, but he’d surprisingly run away if you got too close to him. I soon realized, though, that the neighbor across the street was actually letting her brown and gray Shih Tzu run loose.

Like many dog owners, I’m the kinda guy who will put his dog on a leash and take the dog for a walk. Our yard isn’t fenced in, so I don’t want to let my furbaby just run around outside. I love my dog and dogs in general, but I believe in keeping your dog under your control. If my dog was running loose and got struck by a car, I’d be devastated, but apparently, none of my neighbors share my same thoughts.

The Shih Tzu lady NEVER walks her dog. She opens her front door, lets the dog run outside, and the yappy little pooch happily runs around pooping and peeing in whomever’s yard it pleases.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t always feel like walking my dog, and I certainly don’t enjoy picking up poop. Still, responsibility comes first. I think it’s completely rude to let your dog crap in someone else’s yard, and you don’t bother to pick it up. I can assure you that your neighbor doesn’t want to step in an unexpected dog turd on his or her way to the car. #NotCool :-/

Up the street, the doggie chaos continues. This family has a “Beware of dog” sign on their house, which tells me there is a dangerous dog either inside or pent-up somewhere. But that, of course, would be too much like right. There’s actually two dogs there: some knee-high, odd-looking black dog, and a white chihuahua that looks entirely too big to be a chihuahua. They run freely in the front yard, and if you walk past the house, THEY WILL charge at you.

labrador-retriever-1299559-639x550FreeImages.com/Rene Jorgensen

At first, I thought they were just after my dog when we’d be on our walks, but one day I walked past the house alone to go meet a friend, and they still came charging at me!!! And let me tell you, that chihuahua looking dog is one feisty bitch! I always yell at her to get back when she gets too close, and she actually listens, but not without giving me a nasty growl first.

Oh lawd, and then there are the pitbull-mixed puppies from the same neighbor who’s big black dog occasionally gets loose. Cute puppies, BUT they run around and do whatever they want, whenever they want. You’ll hear them screaming and howling up and down the block at any given moment of the day. They even had a nightly ritual of barking loudly right outside my bedroom window around 11 pm, but thankfully they’ve gotten bored with that.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think they were me and my cousin’s puppies as much as they hang out around our house. I swear I want to call animal control on my neighbors, but I also feel bad for the dogs. It’s not their fault they have crappy owners. If this was the country, where the next house was a mile down the road, I wouldn’t care about your dog running freely. But this is Atlanta! We live in the city, and there’s no countryside over here.

I could talk to my neighbors, but I’m pretty sure it would do no good. So, I just bite the bullet and deal with it because once I finish school and go back to working full-time, I’m quickly saying toodle loo to this neighborhood. But by golly, if it isn’t annoying, and at times scary, living in this doggie jungle.

What would you do in my situation? How do you feel about dogs running freely in someone’s yard or around your neighborhood? Toddley wants to know.

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Toddley’s Top 10 Albums of the Past 10 years: Celebrating 10 years in the ATL!

This year marks my 10th year of living in the fabulous city of Atlanta, GA. It’s been a crazy, yet exciting 10 years full of ups, downs, and in-betweens. Through it all though, I always had my music!

Music is my passion, and I even worked as a professional singer for a while, as some of you already know. Music is a hobby now, but it stays in my blood. So, to celebrate these 10 years that I’ve lived in Hotlanta, I decided to put together a list of ten albums that have truly touched, inspired, uplifted me, or made me wanna boogie down over this past decade.

These are not ranked in any particular order, and in all honestly, the list could change depending on the day of the week you ask me. Lol. Anyhow, here goes.

The Fame – Lady Gaga

Lady_Gaga_–_The_Fame_album_cover

Lady Gaga didn’t look or sound like anybody else when she dropped her debut album, The Fame, in 2008. She had this underground, NYC, dirty pop vibe going on that you couldn’t help but get addicted to. She was giving Madonna and Grace Jones realness.

I loved her singles “Just Dance,” and “Poker Face,” but she really had me at ‘disco stick.’ Oh yes…I loved everything about her sexy song “Lovegame” and its accompanying video. Plus, her blood-filled performance of “Paparazzi” at the MTV VMAs was classic. In my opinion, this is the ultimate Gaga album!

B’day – Beyonce

Beyoncé_-_B'Day

To this day, B’day is my favorite Beyonce album. It’s also the album that solidified me as a Beyonce fan. I wasn’t gung ho about Mrs. Carter during her Destiny’s Child days. In fact, it wasn’t until her 1st solo album, Dangerously in Love, that I finally started jumping on the Beyonce bandwagon. When she dropped B’day though, I finally realized….this girl is bad!

B’day was like a Janet Jackson album with more hip-hop grit. Bey mixed hip-hop, funk, R&B, and pop with one destination in mind: the dancefloor. There was no way you could sit still listening to “Get Me Bodied,” “Freakum Dress,” “Greenlight,” or the majority of the album. She also gave you plenty of choreo to go along with the songs via her B’day video anthology & her stunning live concert DVD, The Beyonce Experience. Not to mention that her vocals were on fleek from beginning to end.

The album title is quite fitting as well. This record is certainly meant for any birthday celebration.

A Strange Arrangement – Mayer Hawthorne

Mayer_Hawthorne_A_Strange_Arrangement

The throwback sound has gotten quite popular over the past few years, but few have been able to capture that sound as authentically as Mayer Hawthorne did on his 2009 debut album, A Strange Arrangement.

When I would play this album around people, they thought I was listening to an old Motown record. Mayer Hawthorne delivered a geniune 60s and 70s soul sound that could easily fit into a playlist of classics from the The Stylistics or The Temptations. It is a damn good album!

His vocals aren’t as strong on this album as they are on his subsequent albums, but his voice is still smooth and his harmonies are crazy. If you’re not familiar with Mayer Hawthorne or this album, YouTube him now!

The Emancipation of Mimi – Mariah Carey

Mariah_Carey_-_The_Emancipation_of_Mimi

Before this album came out, it seemed as if Mariah’s chart-topping success had come to an end. Her Glitter film and soundtrack flopped, her Charmbracelet album tanked, and she had even dropped a greatest hits album (which usually signals the end of a career). But Miss Carey in all her divalicious determination made the comeback of all comebacks with this fantastic 2005 album.

This is arguably the best album of Mariah’s career. There’s not a single bad song on it. The songbird still gave us crazy vocals, hip-hop flavor, and guest appearances from Nelly, Snoop Dogg and more. However, Mariah took it back to the days of classic soul with her live-instrumentation based tunes like “Mine Again,” “Circles,” and “Fly Like a Bird.” It was R&B at its finest.

And of course, this album contains the Billboard top song of the 00s decade, “We Belong Together.” Mimi finally emancipated herself, and it paid off. Thank you for this wonderful album, Mimi 🙂

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Amy_Winehouse_-_Back_to_Black_(album)

Imma tell you right now, I wore this album OUT. I still listen to her Marvin Gaye-sampling tune “Tears Dry on Their Own” like it came out yesterday.

Amy was at the forefront of the blue-eyed soul, British invasion with Duffy and Adele right behind her. Her voice was laced in soul, her lyrics were raw, and her lush Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi-produced arrangements (with frequent help from funk band The Dap-Kings) would make any musician excited to play along with the songs on Back to Black.

Amy was truly in a class all of her own. This is one of the best albums of all time by a young lady who had an immeasurable amount of talent. RIP Amy Winehouse.

Uncaged – Zac Brown Band

ZBB-Uncaged

I grew up with a mom that listened to nothing but country & bluegrass, and I must say that I was never a fan of either of those genres. Eventually, I came to appreciate country a bit thanks to the fabulous Shania Twain. However, it was Zac Brown Band that officially turned me into a country music fan.

Zac Brown Band has a number of great albums, but Uncaged especially resonates with me. Their song “Day That I Die” hits home probably with every singer & musician. It’s a tear-inducing number about fulfilling one’s passion for music up until death. The album fluidly spans a multitude of genres from bluegrass to R&B to reggae. The lyrics are heartfelt, the harmonies are euphonious, and Zac’s voice is one of the best male voices of the past decade. This album even won the band a Grammy, and I’m sure their future will be filled with many more well-deserved awards.

My One and Only Thrill – Melody Gardot

MGardot_Thrill

Unless you listen to modern day jazz, you probably aren’t familiar with Melody Gardot…..but you need to be! Her 2009 sophomore album My One and Only Thrill is a masterpiece. Listening to this album, you’re instantly transported into a smoky, NYC jazz lounge. The music is mellow, and Melody’s voice is incredibly soothing.

There’s no belting, no crazy riffs and runs; In fact, Melody doesn’t really showcase much of a vocal range.  However, Melody pours so much emotion into her singing that it still manages to pierce your soul.

If you’re not careful, you might find tears streaming down your face while listening to ballads like “Deep Within the Corners of My Mind” where she coos about missing a lover, or “The Rain,” where she splendidly tells the story of a couple contemplating a breakup. This album will make you want a drink and a smoke. So fix yourself a cocktail, grab a cigar, and enjoy!

21 – Adele

Adele_-_21

Now I will admit that although there truly are no bad songs on this album, there are a couple I tend to skip over. However, the majority of the songs on 21 are REALLY GOOD. This album is so legendary that there’s no way I could leave it off the list. It was the best-selling album of 2011 & 2012….and for good reason.

Adele gave us pop music filled with soul and minus the gimmicks. No sexualized lyrics, no guest rappers, and no bubblegum. This was grown folks music performed by a highly likable and mature young lady. She was a breath of fresh air in the music industry.

“Rolling in the Deep” became a classic that every person on the planet knows, and yet the album still delivered even more amazing tunes like “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Someone Like You.” This is an album that pulls at the heartstrings and will forever be a favorite among many.

Title (Deluxe Edition) – Meghan Trainor

Meghan_Trainor_-_Title_(Official_Album_Cover)

Meghan has been serving me every ounce of my life over the past year with her debut album, Title. It’s a very happy and sassy album filled with doo-wop flavored tunes fit for a modern day sock hop. I specifically chose the deluxe version because three of the bonus songs (“No Good For You,” “My Selfish Heart,” and “Credit”) are truly the best songs of all and should have been standard on the album. Still, the rest of the album is great.

Her fun and risque lyrics will have you raising an eyebrow at times. Plus, she totally changed the game with her lead single and thick girl anthem, “All About That Bass.” 50s style harmonies, racy lyrics, and colorful videos, what is there not to love about M-Train and her fabulous album?!?!

Rockferry – Duffy

Duffy_-_Rockferry_(album)

Rockferry is not only my fave album of the past 10 years; It’s also my favorite album of all time. I’ve laughed with this album, felt inspired by this album, and I’ve cried to it more times than I’d like to admit. This is THE tormented lover’s album. Being that I was unhappily in a relationship at the time this album was out, it spoke volumes to me.

Now, Duffy’s voice is highly unique. It was almost too unique for me at 1st, but I got used to it. Her voice really compliments the throwback soul sound of this album quite nicely. “Warwick Avenue” has to be one of the best songs ever recorded, & her tear-filled video for it is absolutely perfect. If you don’t own (or at least stream this album from time to time), then you are truly doing yourself a disservice.

What do you think of these albums?
What have been some of your faves over the years?
Toddley wants to know 🙂

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Album image credits.

Lady Gaga: “Lady Gaga – The Fame album cover” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lady_Gaga_%E2%80%93_The_Fame_album_cover.png#/media/File:Lady_Gaga_%E2%80%93_The_Fame_album_cover.png

Beyonce: “Beyoncé – B’Day” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beyonc%C3%A9_-_B%27Day.png#/media/File:Beyonc%C3%A9_-_B%27Day.png

Mayer Hawthorne: “Mayer Hawthorne A Strange Arrangement” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mayer_Hawthorne_A_Strange_Arrangement.jpg#/media/File:Mayer_Hawthorne_A_Strange_Arrangement.jpg

Mariah Carey: “Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mariah_Carey_-_The_Emancipation_of_Mimi.jpg#/media/File:Mariah_Carey_-_The_Emancipation_of_Mimi.jpg

Amy Winehouse: “Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (album)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amy_Winehouse_-_Back_to_Black_(album).png#/media/File:Amy_Winehouse_-_Back_to_Black_(album).png

Zac Brown Band: “ZBB-Uncaged” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ZBB-Uncaged.jpg#/media/File:ZBB-Uncaged.jpg

Melody Gardot: “MGardot Thrill” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MGardot_Thrill.jpg#/media/File:MGardot_Thrill.jpg

Adele: “Adele – 21” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adele_-_21.png#/media/File:Adele_-_21.png

Meghan Trainor: “Meghan Trainor – Title (Official Album Cover)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meghan_Trainor_-_Title_(Official_Album_Cover).png#/media/File:Meghan_Trainor_-_Title_(Official_Album_Cover).png

Duffy: “Duffy – Rockferry (album)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Duffy_-_Rockferry_(album).png#/media/File:Duffy_-_Rockferry_(album).png

“Work smarter, not harder”….really????

If someone told you to “work smarter, not harder” how would that make you feel? I had a coworker say that to me soon after I started my part-time job, and I must say, I found it to be highly insulting. When did it become a bad thing to work harder? The interesting thing is that this particular coworker tends to be one of the lazier ones on the job. Even another coworker has commented to me about Mr. Work Harder Not Smarter’s lack of motivation at work. Other coworkers and I have picked up his slack before. I guess in his mind, leaving his work for others to finish is working smarter, not harder.

Anywho, the day this coworker said this to me, I was working on a small task at work. He thought my method was more challenging and suggested an alternate method, without tact I might add. He isn’t one for saying things tactfully. After making his suggestion, he told me to “work smarter, not harder.” Now, had he told me to “work easier, not harder”, then I wouldn’t have felt some kinda way. I appreciated being shown a simpler way to do something, but my original method was still getting the job done without affecting him or anyone else for that matter. So, why was I being dumber just because I was taking a few extra steps???

I’ve even seen other situations where one person has their way of doing something, feels you’re supposed to do it their way too, and gets upset if you don’t. However, just like with many math problems, there can be multiple ways to obtain the answer. How you go about getting it is your choice, and you shouldn’t be judged for that. Just because you took 6 steps to figure out the solution and I took 4 steps doesn’t mean you’re not as smart as me. Frankly, the only time I would ever consider someone as not working smartly is if their method is dangerous or not getting the job done. And even then, I would never insult someone by telling them to work smarter. I would just politely offer to show them an easier way to get the job done.

What do you think? Am I overeacting? What does “work smarter, not harder” mean to you? Toddley would love to know!

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“All About That Bass” to “All About That Rest”

OMG yall! I was devastated when I woke up from my afternoon nap yesterday and checked my email. There was this unexpected message from Ticketmaster informing me that my girl’s show this Sunday night at The Tabernacle in Atlanta had been canceled. Yes, Miss “All About That Bass” herself, Meghan Trainor, was not coming to the A-Town. What in the world?!?!? I was hoping I was still dreaming. I bought tix to this show way back in March of this year, & I’ve been anxiously awaiting to get my “Lips are Moving” on. Soooo, when I found out that the show wasn’t happening, I was certainly a brokenhearted, little Megatron. (Meghan calls her fans Megatronz in case you didn’t know).  The poor thing actually had to cancel all of her remaining tour dates due to a hemorrhage in her vocal cords. As a singer myself, I know the voice is nothing to play with, so I can’t even be upset with her. I can only wish her a successful recovery.

This would have been my first concert in over a year. I’ve definitely been having concert withdrawal too. My last was the ever so amazing Mayer Hawthorne show at Center Stage Atlanta. With my crazy new school & work schedule, in addition to my college student budget, concerts aren’t really in my foreseeable future. So, I was definitely looking forward to this treat of a show….especially since it was the Sunday night before classes started back up. I forced myself to see the one good thing in all of this: I’m getting a refund. It’s not like I couldn’t use the money either :-/

Meghan is such a unique artist, & I love that about her. Like Adele, she’s a beautiful pop star that doesn’t follow the conventional standards of beauty that dominate the pop world. She made that clear with her debut single “All About That Bass.” Meghan writes her own songs and sings wonderfully. Her songs are incredibly catchy, and many of her lyrics have this layer of sassiness that the inner queen in me just adores. Since I can’t get my concert, I will have to settle for YouTube videos. Check out her fabulous performance of “Dear Future Husband” below on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Megatronz, where you at? Do any of you have tickets to any hot upcoming shows? Let me know who you’re going to see 🙂

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Hello world :-D

Hey hey hey!!!

It’s your boy Todd Vaughan aka Toddley, and welcome to my brand new blog Chat and Sip. I’m very excited to have a blog up and running where I can share my thoughts about life, love, pop culture and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Throughout the years, I have invited friends over to the various apartments I’ve lived in for “wine and conversation.” It was always a blast. We’d sip wine (the inexpensive brands of course…lol) or a cocktail and talk about life and all the craziness that comes with it. Sometimes I would cook dinner too, but rest assured, you could always count on a good drink being in the mix. So, I decided to name my blog Chat and Sip as a way to always remember the good times and tipsy chats I had with friends. I’m a bit of an introvert, so I’ve always kept a smaller circle of friends. Unfortunately, I don’t have wine and conversation nights too much anymore because my closest friends have either moved away, passed away, or just have so much on their plate these days that it’s hard for us to get together. Not to mention that my schedule is also crazy these days. Still, I love a good drink and a good conversation to go with it. So, pour yourself a drink and let’s chat!!! 🙂

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