A Kinda Classic Soundtrack for a Romantic Date Night In

So you and your boo have decided to stay in instead of going out. Good call! What's more romantic than cooking and enjoying a good meal together? It doesn't have to be complicated, nor does it have to be perfect. In fact, kitchen missteps often make for some of the most memorable nights. (Consider Bridget Jones' blue soup debacle.)

But there should be music. Good tunes set the mood and gives you an opportunity to show off those skills you've been perfecting in the shower.

We asked our favorite DJ, Austin Powers, to put together a playlist that starts off classic, but has a few surprises.  Read More >>

Monday Morning Playlist: Tunes to Start Your Week Off Right

If you're Stevie Nicks, Monday morning sure looks fine. The rest of us, however, may need a little help putting some pep in our step. Step one: Caffeinate. Step two: Put on some tunes. But which ones? This is crucial; you want energetic, but not frenetic. Definitely no to Metallica.

We asked our go-to mix master, Austin Powers, to put together a playlist that strikes just the right balance.

Here's what Austin has to say about the tunes on his list.

When it comes to bands that can bridge the gap between an unforgettable weekend and a potentially blasé work week, the Brits have the market cornered. Between The Cribs, Kaiser Chiefs, White Lies, and The Futureheads, you'll find plenty of hooks to keep your head bobbing (and your Union Jack flying).

But for all of our American compatriots out there, the U.S. is still pumping out plenty of rock that is guaranteed to please (although it's a bit more on the alternative side). The instrumental grooves of El Ten Eleven, the 80s throwback feel of Small Black, and the garage rock anthems of Thee Oh Seas will carry you through any Monday morning spreadsheet.

Finally, mash-up artists have a habit of making that elusive connection between new energy and beloved nostalgia. Whether your yen is for a Motown senior prom or drinks at the lake this past weekend, let The Avalanches and Pretty Lights be your guide to a better start of the week.  Read More >>

Shake Your Groove Thang to This Electric Playlist

I feel about March kind of how I feel about Wednesdays. It's the time of year when the worst of winter is over (so long, February!) and there have been just enough nice days that I've (foolishly) considered putting away my puffy coat. But then Mother Nature reminds me with windy, bone-chilling days that spring isn't here just yet, even though I am so ready for it.

I went to Austin Powers, our go-to mixmaster, with a request for a playlist that would make me want to dance in the kitchen. I also added that we had something of an "Electric Kitchen" theme going this month. (You may have noticed an abundance of slow cooker, food processor, and microwave content. Pressure cooker and blender weeks still to come!)

I may have suggested the Electric Slide as one possible option, but Austin went with a more modern interpretation. The overall feel is an electric combination of New Wave (David Bowie), House (Daft Punk, Justice), Synthpop (Future Islands, Chvrches, Astro), and yes, EDM (Calvin Harris, Kryder, Erix Prydz).

As Bowie says, "Let's Dance!" 

A Cheesy Valentine's Day Playlist

We should probably say that cheese and chocolate were the guiding principles behind our Valentine's Day gathering, but the truth is this: It was all about the Electronic Dream Phone game. That was the centerpiece around which everything came together — including our very 90s-themed playlist.

Electronic Dream Phone is like Clue, but with boys and an oversized pink battery-operated phone. In other words, it symbolized everything we really wanted this party to be: pink, cheesy, and awesome. The food, the drinks, the decor, and the tunes all fell into place.

Since the game was first published in 1991, we knew we wanted to go with hit songs from that era — the cheesier the better. We asked Austin Powers to put something together (Mariah Carey songs strongly encouraged).

He didn't disappoint with a mix that features the best of the decade and a few from earlier and later that just feel like they belong. There's Roxette, Seal, Billy Ocean, and yes, Mariah.  Read More >>

A Playlist for Christmas Morning

No matter how you like to unwrap it, there's something undeniably magical about Christmas morning. The house smells like cinnamon and sugar, there's the crunch and rustle of wrapping paper underfoot, and at some point The Carpenters will croon out, "Merry Christmas, Darling."

While you're sipping your hot cocoa, biting into a hot cinnamon roll, or nursing a headache from too much eggnog, crank up this playlist full of new and old holiday cheer.

When I sat down with Austin Powers (my co-pilot for the Thanksgiving playlist) to create this playlist for Christmas morning, we knew we wanted its theme to be nostalgia.

There are two types of nostalgia for Christmas music: First, the kind that's outright embarrassing. If you're like Austin, you never — and I mean never — change the station when Mariah Carey's Christmas anthem comes on. And why should you? Then there's the nostalgia for the Nats, the Bings, and the Martins.  Read More >>

Doctoral Student Turns Dream of Experiencing Cuba into Reality

As relations between the U.S. and Cuba thaw, American curiosity about the Caribbean nation grows. In the past year, there were more U.S. visitors to Cuba than from any other nation; University at Albany doctoral student and lecturer Nicholas Figueroa was one of them.

UAlbany launched a study abroad program to Cuba in the summer of 2012, according to Austin Powers, program coordinator in UAlbany’s Office of Education Abroad, part of the Center for International Education and Global Strategy.

“We are proud to be one of the very few U.S. institutions that has a study abroad option in Cuba which we are able to offer through a special educational license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC),” said Powers.  Read More >>