Saturday, May 21, 2011

I've Moved!!

Just a quick note -- if anyone still frequents this page -- that I have actually ported this blog over to Wordpress. I find the layout over there more user-friendly and easier to publicize. The site name is basically the same:

If you choose to continue in following this project, you may find it over there. I'm blogging tomorrow! Watch for it!

Until then!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

City on a Hill: Sing Alleluia

Happy Sunday, all. This past week has been only slightly eventful. Monday was my last physical therapy session. I'm slightly relieved it's over, only because I received the bill a couple of days following and am regretting the decision in some ways. Even so, nothing can compare to the improvement I've felt over recent weeks to my physical body.

Friday found me hosting some of the young people from our church at our home for a night of games and gaiety. "Young people." That sounds so pretentious. I really don't know what to call them without sounding old. "Kids" is definitely worse. Am I truly making my way towards decrepitude? This thought is most disheartening. Still, it warms my heart to fellowship with those that don't seem to find my life boring and mundane. Seriously, I had one of the students from church tell me my life was boring. I can't begin to explain how pissed off I was. I can't help that this town has sucked the life out of me. But, as always, I digress.

Yesterday was a somewhat pleasant surprise for my husband and I. He had taken the day off to attend the wedding of a former co-worker and lovingly dragged me along to attend. The ceremony, lasting a total of three minutes (no kidding), found us with ample time to ourselves, so we ventured out for a late lunch and some necessary shopping (on his part, though he did encourage me to get something for myself). Other than tummy upsets right before bed, it was definitely a cherished moment within our marriage.

Anyways, on to our main event -- the multi-artist project known as City on a Hill. This was a series of albums that started around my pre-teen years that my parents liked. My parents were odd when it came to music during my formative years. They listened to a lot of older Christian artists and cast a wary eye on anything that sounded like it didn't some out of the 1980's. The only exception to this standard was when it pertained to worship music, which is mainly what the City on a Hill series focused on. After listening to them again, I realized that the theme was taken from one of the old hymns that we all grew up on and reinvented by various artists in rather creative ways.

The "Sing Alleluia" aspect comes from the old hymn, "All Creatures of Our God and King," one hymn I've never had any particular deep intrinsic connection. While I harbor such an indifference towards the hymn itself, I have to admit that this has to be my favorite of the series. The lyrics of the songs written for this edition ring truer to me than any of the other, if not for the rather painfully admitted revelation that I find in them to hope still in the salvation and love of my Savior. To be honest, since I've been married and moved back to a town where I thought I would find strength, rest and comfort, the end result has been anything but. I daily find it fatiguing to remind myself whose I am. My spiritual life couldn't be any further from glamorous and exemplary. As I write this, I'm wrestling within myself to even believe that God -- that Christ himself -- exist, though I know from past experience that the existence of this loving deity to be a fact. Being broken enough times in close sequential order can do that to a person, even one so at one time passionately in love with her Savior as I once was. But it is that memory of my great God that I cling to still, knowing that hope still abounds, even if but a slight flicker.

Even now, as the album plays, I'm trying to find one sample of the songs that showcase the Ebenezer stone of my heart that I look back to in order to restore my faith in that I once clinged to with fervor and wild abandon. As relieving tears trickle down, I can't choose just one. This album is just that good. I encourage those of you that are having a time -- whatever that may be -- find a way to listen to this album and remember that warm hand around your shoulders that reminds you that it holds the power over all creation...and more importantly, over the dire situation you find yourself currently in the middle.

We must not lose hope.

Eternal God, unchanging
Mysterious and unknown
Your boundless love unfailing
In grace and mercy shown
Bright seraphim in ceaseless flight

Around your glorious throne

Their voices raised both day and night
In praise to you alone

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God
Glory be to our great God!

Lord, we are weak and frail,
Helpless in the storm
Surround us with your angels
Hold us in your arms
Our cold and ruthless enemy
His pleasure is our harm
Rise up, oh Lord, and he will flee
Before our Sovereign God

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Let every creature in the sea
And every flying bird
Let all the mountains, all the fields
And valleys of the earth
Let all the moons and all the stars
Throughout the universe
Sing praises to the Living God
Who rules them by His word

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Declaration" Steven Curtis Chapman

Happy Mother's Day, everyone. I am currently sitting in a semi spur-of-the-moment situation with my parents, my sister and her husband. All of it is usually my sister's idea. I always start to realize I would be receiving a call from her about the week before, so I tell myself I'll think of a decent I idea that doesn't cost too much...and then, I end up getting that call with not so much as a complete sentence of an idea to offer. This year, she decided we should go up and surprise her with lunch and gelato, and I never have anything better to suggest other than a card, so here we are. Now that all that was planned has been complete, I decided to take time to gather my thoughts for this week's selection.

It's somewhat fitting that this week's music on topic is "Declaration" by Steven Curtis Chapman. It reminds me of my Junior year of high school, when I started preparing for that year's Fine Arts Festival. It was the first of one of the few times that my mother helped me choreograph my human video, which came from this album. I have to say this about my mother--she's just like any mother, annoying and frustrating and still a work in progress...but I have to say that she never discouraged me from following my dreams. It was her way of saying I could be my own person, I think. For that, I will always be grateful.

This album also holds sour memories for me. It reminds me of a time when I spoke my mind in constructive criticism, only to be berated by an individual ignorant of the situation concerning the person I previously advised. Needless to say, I don't concern myself with this album, artist or Fine Arts Festival very often due to this painful experience. I find them overrated now as a whole. It's all I really care to say on the matter at the moment, partially for the reason I'm tapping this blog out on my BlackBerry phone, and my thumbs are getting weary. If I feel so inclined, I may expound upon my reservations and issues about Fine Arts Festival, as well as Christian music in general.

But for now, I leave you with glorious greetings on this celebration of women and life. For without women, we may not be here today.

Happy Mother's Day!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Prince of Egypt soundtrack

Well, last we meet again. After a rather random hiatus from blogging, writing --living in general for me, really -- I find myself doing a bit of spring cleaning and dusting off old hobbies, dreams, and other new/old interests that I never made time for. I'm experiencing a slow start to things at the moment, but as the old adage goes: "Better late than never."

How are you? It's been a while. Almost a year, in fact. For me, the last year involved trying to go back to school for my theater degree. Somewhere in the middle of that, I start experiencing money shortage and health issues; so instead of doing what I planned, life lead me back to the lifeless job I left for a brief month and a half I was in school, in physical, spiritual and emotional pain. Eventually, I found a doctor that heard enough of my complaining and sent me for an MRI, which located the source of the pain in a few bulging discs in my neck. As I am at a young enough age where these things could be resolved before any major surgery, I was sent to a very nice older gentleman who helped me get some of my mobility and life back through physical therapy. Is it expensive? Yes. But at least I'm getting myself back.

Hence, the reason I'm here, smiling cheerfully back at you in the form of this post.

Anyways, on to the reason we're all here! It's amazing that I could even remember that this is where we left off (and I still have to add some albums to the drawing bag that I've bought since I blogged last year), but I did. Here we go!

I actually only have one song from this entire album, "Through Heaven's Eyes." For some odd reason, that was the only song that I was able to transfer from Casey's music collection to mine. It's sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose voice I only came to know after listening to a more recent Broadway cast recording of "Man of La Mancha" (my favorite musical, but I'll save that for another day). The guy's voice is hoss, and this song properly showcases this fact. Someday, I would like to watch a live performance of Brian Stokes Mitchell -- preferrably in "Man of La Mancha" again, but I know it's merely wishful thinking of experiencing that any time soon.

As a whole, I always thought soundtrack to the Prince of Egypt should have been taken and translated to the stage. I've spoken with countless others who have had the same sentiments. It would make sense, right? But what does corporate America do? They produce the embarrassment that is The Ten Commandments musical, with a cast that is headed by off-key Val Kilmer as Moses. I don't care if the man played Moses (spoken part) in The Prince of Egypt; did you see how awkward the guy's performance was? You don't do that to the theater. And really, the show only had one good song in the middle of it, just after the Israelites cross the Red Sea. But I digress.

It makes me realize how little of the theater, the musical and Broadway I've thought of in the past year. I remember vaguely when it was all I could talk about, think about -- BE about. I had plans to revolutionize the stage -- for Jesus, of course. It was my life's passion to put something on Broadway that would make people think. I had even started working on a musical based on Relient K music in college (as I previously mentioned). Now...I could care less about that project. I numbly admitted to my husband the other day, "You know, I've lost interest in the theater. My dream isn't there anymore. It's just kind of...died." Or something like that. I was met with silence and a look of shock with a twinge of sadness. He knew how much it meant to me at one time; to hear this admission was hard on us both, I think.
"Well, what are you passionate about now?" he asked.
"That's just it. I don't know anymore," I labored softly.
"Well, maybe you can start working on old stuff. Dust off the story we started. Watch your favorite musicals so you can remember. We'll figure something out."

You know, some things about my husband are most frustrating -- the way his attitude about money, cleaning, do-it-yourself-ing can be. But for a man to still be here after all I've had to go through and helping me in some way to find my way back...these are the reasons I love and married this man. With him and some tips from my writer friend/old college friend Cid, I'm starting to dig myself out of the darkness and make goals for myself. Slowly, but surely...I'm finding myself and my passion again.

This is probably a lot more than I meant to say and even more than you cared to hear. Blame it on the fact that the first day of May 2011 is cold and rainy, leaving me with the TV, Fane the shih-tzu, my kindle and the house all to myself. But there's only so many minutes you can watch, times you can play fetch, pages you can read and places where you can loaf around before your fingers beckon you to come back and tap about until your brain turns to mush. Well, it's not exactly mush. In fact, this is the most stimulated my brain has felt in a while.

So this is what it feels like to be creative. I could get used to this.

[Well, I could also be sewing...but I'm too lazy to cut out patterns today. Meh.]

Friday, June 11, 2010

Double Feature: "The Color Purple" Soundtrack and Billy Joel's "Storm Front"

I need to get better at this. Really I do. It's annoying how inconsistent I can be about things that interest me the most. Moreover, it's actually rather sad that I can't find a shred of energy to devote to things I love. This particular day finds me at the end of a day that was not meant to be. A woman, a veterinarian, from one of the groups we service at work berated and belittled me in the midst of me trying to help her and her employee because she "doesn't have time for this. It's your screw-up. Fix it." You know what, lady? I really don't have time for this, either. I can't POSSIBLY pull yourself away from saving the lives of animals, but understand this, you vile representation of the soft-hearted female that you're supposed to be...I didn't want to put up with your sad excuse of the fact that you can't possibly be bothered to pay for a service we render you. They don't pay me enough to sift through your poor exhibition of humanity to come on my hands and knees begging you to forgive me for something that happened before I even started working there that YOU were too lazy to check for yourself. No...I AM WOMAN, TOO, YOU SELFISH BRAZEN HUSSY!!

It's at times like these I miss my last job that allowed me to listen to music while I worked. I have found that music is a key ingredient to my vitality; it reminds me in its subtle way that I am still alive and full of creativity. I'm hoping that when I move to part-time status at work come August that I will have a job that allows me to do this once more. Until then, I take what I can get as far as times to listen. Well, it's been a while since I have been able to, but before that happened I was able to stumble through to very different representations of music, which is why I am commenting on two albums this evening.

The first up to the plate is the soundtrack from Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple” (why Oprah’s name is attached to this is beyond me, but far be it from me to announce or label the album/show other than what it has been). I actually bought the album before I saw the show (as is the case with most of the musical soundtracks I own), and I knew that eventually I wanted to see how the show played out along with the music. Preston and I finally had the opportunity in January 2009 as a belated Christmas present to ourselves. Believe me, it was an investment well spent. The story is a somber one, but it has its humorous moments, which make the musical very endearing and memorable. I think now of all times the plight of Celie that's played out in the show rings true to me. She spends most of her life separated from her only sister and the children she gave birth to and constantly asks God, "Why?" She almost gives up on God until she realizes that sometimes it just takes a while for things to come full. It spoke to me of trust and living life as much as you can with what you have. The song "I'm Here" expounds on this. In it, Celie states that she may not have those things she wants close to her, but in the same way she does. "Most of all I'm thankful for lovin' who I really am. I'm beautiful, and I'm here," she ends the song. It really does take coming to a point where we sees in us what God sees in us and becoming comfortable enough to say that same mantra--I'm beautiful, and I'm here.

The other feature on this post I happened to find for a whopping 97 cents at Hastings one day. As we all know...I can't pass up Billy Joel, especially when it comes cheap, so yet another album from the Piano Man made its way into my collection (though as of this post, not yet onto my iPod--I fudged a little). I liked the first song, "That's Not Her Style" the first time I listened to it. As I made my way through the rest of the album, however, I found it to be a prime example of what made 80's music so cheesy and odd. Even so, it has quite a few songs that I have always enjoyed, such as "We Didn't Start the Fire" (and yes, I can actually sing the whole song...when the song's playing), "Downeaster Alexa" (my dad's ringtone on my phone, family inside joke) and "Leningrad" ("blast those yellow Reds to hell"...probably the wittiest and silliest line of its time from a poignant lyric). In the end, I believe that it was a 97 cents well spent.

After writing this, I feel a little better after such a heinous day. I feel accomplished, which is always a good thing concerning things that matter to you. The only place I need to work on accomplishment is my stomach that is currently growling on account that we haven't had dinner yet because a splendid evening cut short. Preston's Home Depot job somehow said he was scheduled to work tonight, though he took down his schedule himself and didn't see himself on for tonight. Both of us were frustrated, but as of now, there's little we can do. So...I wait to obtain foodage.

Here's hoping life is treating you well, wherever you are. Good night.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Enter the Danger Brigade" Calibretto 13

One thing that I've come to realize about this blog is this: I have no real idea who is reading this. For all I know, Cid, it could be just you. I doubt that my blog has been around long for StumbleUpon to throw into the mix for some unsuspecting person to find. I say this because what I'm about to do is expound on the wonderful impact Miss Cidly has had on my musical influences since I've known her. While I don't listen to everything she does, I can for certain say that the influence her musical tastes had on me has changed me for the better.

This album is one of them. I first became introduced to the musical stylings of Calibretto 13 in the front passenger side seat of her Ford station wagon. At first, I wasn't sure what to think of the lead singer's rather unique voice quality or the fact that it sounded like the song was going into convulsive spasms, but by the end of the first song she played for me, I found myself highly fascinated and intrigued. I felt the faint pangs of yearning for more. And of course, who wouldn't find it endearing when a song entitled "The Proposal" starts out something like this?

Now love is one thing and sex is another
But they got together like bread and butter
People think they know it all but they are confused
That's why so many people get hurt and used
Now I'm waiting for you and you're waiting for me
So believe it or not I think we're meant to be
We've been through the smiles and we've been through the tears
We've been though hell and heaven in the last four years
Let me tell you something cos I think you're ready
I'm your boy and you're my honey
So open your ears and close your eyes
And baby get ready for a big surprise

Hey, you're the one who makes me happy
You're the one I want to marry
You're the one I want to be with oh oh oh
So please don't tell me no
I don't want you to go
You're the one I want to wake up with

I was freaking hooked. I always enjoyed when she played them, and after a point in time, I asked her for a copy of one of their CD's. Just fyi, this particular album doesn't contain the aforementioned song, which is what I wanted, but I have enjoyed this album nonetheless. "Ballroom Blitz" and "High 5" are fun and funky songs that get the blood pumping and make you want to have fun. They're personally my favorites to listen to on the album. The others also have their fun, funky, and yet very poignant points to them, which has made the album so endearing to me. I may not listen to it that often, but when I do, it always puts a smile on my face. It makes me want to get sno-cones and sit out by the lake or just drive with the windows rolled down and the music blaring. This album is full of life, and it's high time I remember I have one.

So, thank you, Cid. Thank you for making me listen to this. I honestly was missing out until then.

Now, I'm off to save the world...or something of that burn a mixed CD for a kid and go to bed. I think those are good contributions to the world. At least for now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Next to Normal" The Original Broadway Soundtrack

It took me about three days to get through this album going to and from work in my car. I have found that I actually focus on the music better while driving in my car. Perhaps it is contributed to the fact that I can't escape the music...or something like that. Anyways...

First off, let me say that the music is satisfactory. The style reminded me of a Jason-Robert-Brown-meets-Rodgers-and-Hammerstein-meets-Rent vibe, if that's even possible. The one thing that surprising within the first 30 seconds of the album was the presence of explicatives. There was no explicit lyrics content sticker on the album, so I found that rather surprising and odd. Some of the songs were satisfactory, and it will probably take another listen-through to figure out how much I really like the show (and whether or not I will actually want to see it), but for now these are my thoughts on the music.

The story itself very much reminds me of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House if you think of the role of Nora being played out as a bipolar woman who is trying to figure out why her memories are gone and how she has this unnerving feeling that she has another child that her family isn't reminding her about. It plays out very much like that, and it is from that fact I find my hesitation to even see the show. Doll's House was rather depressing and dumb, in my opinion. However, I suppose that it is a good exploration of our society's obsession with calling every manic-depressive outburst a chemical imbalance and to fix it accordingly with meds.

It's definitely something to think about. Until then, I go to work and try to motivate myself to things I want to do instead of being tired all the time.