Thursday, July 31, 2014

Song of the Week: The Mysterious Ticking Noise

The Mysterious Ticking Noise, by the Potter Puppet Pals

What the song's about: Nothing.

Why I picked it: I had another post ready for today, but then it hit me that today is Harry Potter's birthday, and I simply can't let it go by without honoring it in some way. Those of you who didn't see the other post during the hour and a half it was up are just going to have to wait, because duty to Harry Potter fandom calls.

If you only watch one Potter Puppet Pals video, make it this one. (Although I would recommend watching "The Elder Swear," too. And the one where Snape says "500 thousand points from Gryffindor." And the one where Ron says, "What's a bosom, Harry?" and Harry says, "Oh look, another page." You know what? Just watch them all. It's a holiday.)

Best line: Dumbledore!

Mood trigger: While this song is especially conducive to late-night giggling fests, there's a good chance it will make you snicker when you're having a bad day, too.

Random observation: One day while Kimberly was making some toast, she started singing, "Toast. Toast. Cinnamon toast." Now, we Carters often make up our own lyrics to beloved songs, but we rarely get as far as we did with our Potter Pals remake. After a half-hour of brilliant (and loud) brainstorming, we came up with the following:

Severus Snape: Cinnamon toast.

Ron Weasley: Strawberry (as in, jam—it goes like this: "Straw, straw, strawBERRY." I admit it doesn't work as well as the others).

Dumbledore: Marmalade!

Hermione: Baloney (gross, I know, but there's something highly comical about Hermione crooning the word "baloney" over and over again).

Harry Potter: Peanut butter.

Voldemort: Moldy bread.

We even made up a version with our own names. You should try it some time.

 

Monday, July 28, 2014

7 strange things about this morning

1. I got so bored with trying to sleep that I started getting ready for the day at 5:30, an hour and a half earlier than is usual or sane.

2. And I was in a good mood.

3. I still didn't beat the sun, though. Did you know that the sun starts coming out before 6:00 during the summer?

4. It was 80˚ when I stopped stalling and left for work at 7:15. Last week that would have disgusted me, but today it didn't bother me too much.

5. I was the first person on my floor to arrive at work. I kind of wish it was always this quiet.

6. I still have no desire to sleep.

7. The no-sleep headache hasn't hit me yet, and I'm still feeling remarkable mellow. Today just might be a good Monday.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Introducing the Song of the Week series

A friend of mine recently had a great idea: post his thoughts about feel-good songs on Facebook. I've enjoyed learning about how special songs have touched his life, and the dialogue that has resulted from his posts has been great, too. Music is the other native language we all speak; it brings us together, and I'm a firm believer it's one of the many ways God communicates with us.

So I've decided to play copycat and do a similar thing on this blog. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, I haven't had the desire, motivation, or heart to write much since I got my master's in creative writing. Ironic, I know. I'm not too worried about it though, because I think it's mostly just burn-out and summer laziness—it'll pass when it passes. But this is the first writing project I've been excited about in months, and unlike many of my other "brilliant" blog ideas, I haven't discarded this one in shame yet after sleeping on it and waking up to my senses. So I'm going to take it and roll with it.

Second, I've always wanted to write about music, but I've never been sure how to do it, exactly. Music communicates perfectly well on its own; trying to put words to its power is often pathetically redundant. So we'll see how this goes.

My plan is to post every Thursday because, well, today is Thursday and I want to get started. I don't know how long I'll keep this up, but I've got a pretty long list of songs already, so unless I get bored, this series should last a while. I'd also like to have a couple categories to discuss every week, to add some consistent variety to the posts. Unlike my friend, though, I won't just be talking about feel-good songs. Anything is fair game: songs that are stuck in my head, songs I can't figure out, songs I've loved since childhood, sad songs, funny songs, chart-topping songs, songs you've probably never heard—you get the picture.

If this isn't your thing, feel free to skip these posts. But if you feel so inclined, please speak up if you have something to say. I'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions on songs and categories to discuss, and any experiences you'd like to share.

With that, I give you my first song of the week:

Calamity Jane, by Bethany Joy Lenz

What the song's about: Someone who is lost and hurts everyone around her. But redemption is possible because someone still cares about her. (Here are the lyrics.)

Why I picked it: This summer, my go-to source for TV entertainment has been One Tree Hill. It's definitely a guilty-pleasure show, but it surpassed my mediocre expectations, partly because it features two of my favorite things: music and basketball. (And books, to an extent. And there's a Mr. Feeney-like teacher.)

Joy plays my favorite character, and she's also a musician. She has released some of her music through the show, and I became a fan immediately. I'm a soprano-turned-alto, so I admire any singer who can utilize her rich alto tones. "Calamity Jane" was released just this week, and is one of my favorites from this artist.

Best line: "She's lost and she's lonesome and wounds everyone that she's near. But I love her just the same, wicked calamity Jane." This line hits you right where it hurts. I've known people like this, and I don't know which is worse—the hurt you feel when someone you care about hurts you, or the hurt you get watching them hurt.

Mood trigger (still trying to think of a better category name): The lyrics are a bit depressing, but the music has a determined, upbeat feel to it that makes you want to go out there and keep fighting for that person you love, no matter what.

Random observation: Is it possible to have a chocolatey voice? Because the timbre of Joy's voice makes me think of smooth, silky chocolate, the kind you get from a chocolate fountain.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

7 is a magical number

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out seven years ago yesterday. MuggleNet wrote a special anniversary post about that day, so I've been walking down memory lane a bit as I've read others' experiences with reading that book for the first time.

I think a pretty good way to gage whether an experience is life-changing is if you remember the tiniest of details surrounding that event. I've already written about what it felt like to hold that book for the first time, but there are other moments that are just as clear:
  • I was really ornery during the 40-minute drive home from the Orem Barnes & Noble because Shannan was reading the family copy of the book by flashlight and I had to be responsible and drive.
  • I was sitting on some drink crates at Domino's when I found out that Norbert was a girl. My manager was bitter that he didn't think to bring his copy to work with him, so he hid in the office during the slow hours while I grinned my face off in my little corner.
  • I was sitting under the swamp cooler trying to stay cool when Ron came back. Bored Tyrel kept stopping by to sigh at me, completely flummoxed that I was wasting a perfectly good Sunday afternoon on that orange Harry Potter book. 
  • I read the last 400 pages alternating between bouncing on my bed and sitting on the floor. I had to remake my bed that night because my wide range of intense emotions caused it to combust. I cried the whole time I was putting my bed back together.
  • Because when I read the last page, I felt like life as I knew it had ended. And it had.
Yeah, Harry Potter is "just" a book and a cultural phenomenon. But there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not grateful it's been part of my life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July grumblings

July is full of quintessential summer things: fireworks, barbecues, swimming pools, sunshine. It paints such a lovely picture regardless of what time of year it is, especially when your head is stuffed with memories of spitting watermelon seeds off the deck and playing softball as the sun sets.

The summerness of July is almost great enough to make me forget the worst part—the oppressive heat. After experiencing Florida's murderous heat/humidity combo, I will be forever grateful that Utah exudes heat in the dry variety.

But that's not enough to waylay the grouchiness that comes every time temperatures are above the 90s for more than a couple of days. I wish I could just not let it get to me, but the heat is like a dementor that feeds off of my energy. It's an enemy I simply cannot beat. Especially when my A/C isn't powerful enough to combat the inferno as well as I'd like, which means I'm averaging about 4.5 hours of sleep a night now. And it's not restful sleep.

Hence the grouchiness.

I guess I've no choice but to grump my way through the next month. Hopefully no one notices the bags under my eyes and my shortened tolerance for, hmm, anything. Except for watching guilty-pleasure TV shows in the dark for hours. And eating Denali Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. Obviously.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My top 10 playlist (2014)

I'm pretty serious about my Top 10 Playlist. For some reason it's important to me to always know what my 10 most favorite songs are. And because I manage this playlist so protectively, it's a huge deal whenever a song is awesome enough to bump off one of my top ten beloveds. A big enough deal that I want to, say, blog about it.

This playlist has changed many times since I got my first iPod in 2007. (Back then it was mostly sappy love songs.) It's fascinating how personal preferences change over the years—in music, books, hobbies, friends, etc.—and I've always kind of wanted to document my ever-changing Top 10 Playlist in some way.

So here it is: Angie's Top 10 Playlist for summer 2014.

1. "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," by Bryan Adams
This was my no. 1 song back in 2007, and it hasn't budged since; it's the only song on this playlist to hold its original spot. I love everything about this song, from the opening chord to Bryan Adams' raspy voice to its true-love message. Plus, the music video at the end of Robin Hood romanticized the concept of playing a grand piano in the woods for me long before the Piano Guys got together. In fact, I think I'll add that to my bucket list.

2. "Brave," by Sara Bareilles
My theme for 2014 is "Be Bold," so this song is pretty much my song of the year. Especially since it talks about being brave by doing something I've always been afraid to do: speak up. I listen to this song sometimes before social outings, and it always gives me a little extra oomph to do more than just show up and wait for someone to talk to me.

3. "When You Come Back to Me Again," by Garth Brooks
This is the song that reminds me God loves me. I discovered the Vocal Point version of this song during fall semester 2008, which was one of my hardest semesters. On a particularly rough day, I got in my car, drove to the Provo Temple parking lot, and listened to this song at least 15 times. I felt like I was drowning in a dark ocean of responsibilities and confusion, so the ship-lost-at--sea metaphor was especially powerful to me. The simple reminder that there was a lighthouse watching the lost ship struggle, lighting its way back to safety, was one of the most poignant answers to a prayer I have ever had. It's one of the few songs I devote my full attention to every time I hear it, because God always feels so much closer.

4. "Danny Boy," by Vocal Point
I've always liked this song, but this arrangement is really something else. There's so much to enjoy about it—the harmonies, the emotion, the message, the haunting melody. Listening to it just once is never enough, which is why this is the most-played song on my iPod.

5. "Go the Distance," by Michael Bolton
First off, Michael Bolton has a beautiful voice, even if he is hard to understand sometimes. And, this song inspires me. I also played this song for the Clavinova Festival when I was about 14, so it's got that added nostalgic element to it.

6. "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul," by Vocal Point
Pretty much everything I said about "Danny Boy" applies to this song. Any song that Keith helps arrange and is the lead singer for I'm guaranteed to love. I hope this song is in the next LDS hymnbook.

7. "The Time of My Life," by David Cook
If I ever decide to run a marathon, this song would definitely be on my playlist. I get a burst of energy every time I hear it. I first heard it about the time I graduated from college, and it perfectly described the excitement I felt about my exciting adventures ahead. It still excites me, because it always makes me feel like I'm living the best time of my life right now.

8. "Cowboy Take Me Away," by the Dixie Chicks
Several of the lines from this song came straight from my brain, I swear. When I find that special guy, he is going to listen to this song.

9. "Somewhere in the Middle," by Casting Crowns
A part of me hates this song. It's so frustrating to give up what you want for what God wants for you, sometimes, and this song really whacks you upside the head with that message. But when I'm done rolling my eyes, I love this song because it so perfectly captures a battle I've experienced many, many times.

10. "All for Love," by Bryan Adams
This song doesn't have any profound impact on my life, but I love it anyway.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My town

Last week, I needed just one thing: something to counter the beginning-of-summer slowdown at work. You all know how well I handle boredom (a.k.a, not well), and my sanity was calling for something exciting to keep itself intact.

Luckily, Elk Ridge Days (which, apparently, is a thing now) was last weekend. Immersion in a nice, friendly crowd and a couple of countrified meals was just the thing I needed to wipe the painful memories of workplace inactivity from my mind.

The parade was nice and short, with a few more glamorous floats than we've been treated to in the past. The bluegrass band didn't arrogantly turn up the mics so everyone within 20 miles could hear their tunes, but rather kept the volume to a perfect background-noise level so we could eat our pulled-pork sandwiches and chat without damaging our vocal cords. I easily could have parted with hundreds of dollars on jewelry and handcrafted wooden things at the country fair. There was even a Tilt-a-Whirl type ride (shaped like a strawberry) at the park. 

And to top it all off, the weather was perfect.

But the best part of the whole celebration was the rampant Elk Ridge-ness. I've been to other city celebrations and while they're all unique and charming in their own way, they're also loud, overcrowded, and infested with cigarette smoke. Elk Ridge, even after 30 years of human habitation, can still put on a celebration without overwhelming its residents and bringing out the miscreants. 

I knew I had a good thing going while I was growing up here. But it's an even bigger blessing, perhaps, that every time I come back for a visit, everything is the same as I left it. This place continues to attract and breed good, down-to-earth people. There are still no sidewalks on the roads. It's still quiet and peaceful, and the stars are always easy to find at night. 

Sure, there are houses in places that used to be weedy fields, and occasionally another pointless stop sign will unexpectedly appear, but Elk Ridge is still Elk Ridge. It still feels like the home I grew up in, even though I belong somewhere else now. Those mountains are always there to welcome me back when I turn onto Elk Ridge Drive, completely forgiving of the fact that I stopped growing there and had to move somewhere else. This town doesn't resent the fact that I have another home now; rather, it's always there to be the home I remember, whenever I need it.

Elk Ridge is pretty great like that.