Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrate Him Home

         Christmastime. I say I will always get overexcited and waste it out beforehand but I can't hold it in. As as I lay resting from overfeasting and leftoverfeasting on yams and apples and REAL mash potatoes on black friday, I start thinking about Christmas music. I dream about it. I love giving for selfish reasons. It makes me feel good. Just plain good. I try harder than ever during the Christmas season because I want others to feel good and see how happy it makes me. I've been sporting a Pay It Forward rubber bracelet for a bit because I want those I give to to understand that it can do the same for them.  My mother taught me that. My best friend "What" is the perfect exemplar. She would teach me SO MUCH that I could not possibly contain the knowledge she had to give. Most importantly she gave me the fire of learning. The passion to soak in how  everything works.
          Christmas = Music. Amazing music. From holy to secular. From attending Mo Tab Christmas Specials (thanks to my roommate Tyler) to my time singing as a "wait" in the Feast and Revels at the Sir Francis Drake with the Golden Gate Boys Choir to Caroling sometimes with my Family and other times Alumni from the choir to Christmas party and gift shopping sing and dance-a-longs.  I love to share the feeling the music gives me with everyone. Tremendous songs sung in church like Good Christian Men Rejoice or Whence is that Goodly Fragrance Flowing. Soulful Christmas jams like What Christmas Means to Me or This Christmas. Classics like The Christmas Song or Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  The feeling it gives me is Joy, Happiness, Excitement, Warmness inside the heart and home against the Bitter Cold of winter.
           Most of all Christmas is a word for the greatest of the many special Catholic masses (feasts or celebrations) celebrated on December the 25th; aka Christ's mass. Although more a traditional holiday than an accurate historical birthdate, it is a mass to celebrate the birth of The Anointed One and we'll take it. He showed us how to give and what it would mean to give. It shows love and brings love. While our family listens to Journey to Bethany on vinyl to the dramatized version of Luke 2, I feel the wondering awe sung of in the hymn. A few years back my little niece Ella (as many kids are prone to do) picked up the baby in the manger and asked me "who is this?" Of course I started to tear up and I told her he is the very reason for Christmas; he is our Savior.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall = Football

It's fall again people. Although I love Pumpkin Pie, Cookies, Muffins and Doughnuts, I love eating them while watching FOOTBALL.  I do love the "rest of the world's" sense of the word but it is Our Nation's favorite pastime that is my favorite spectator sport overall.  Even College's big end of the season game edged out my World Champion Giants playing in the World Series in viewers, even if you counted two baseball games over one football.

Let me set give you my Sundays growing up. 9:00 A.M. Church. Got home at 12:10 PM or a little after judging on how long my Mom would talk with her friends. When we got home I would click on the Tube.
Only situations under which football could be watched on sunday:
1. My mother had things to do NOT in the family-room-adjacent kitchen where the TV lived.
2. Dad was tired, as he often was cause he always worked very hard at all hours to provide for us 8 kids. He would sit in the easy chair and watch with me.
3. I would go across the street to my best friend, What's (subject of which will be in a an epic blog soon) house.
4. Like number 2 if What aka Marylyn, also my mom's best friend (a kind of odd friend-triangle) came over and she would turn on the TV even on the off chance that I forgot.

OTHERWISE my loving mother would want it off so we would not "vege" and could do boring sunday things like write missionaries letters, read the Ensign, contemplate life or walk around the lake next to our house. (Things I've grown into as I've grown up which makes prioritizing on Sunday much more difficult.)

So, with these two venues for professional football watching, there were perks to both. What played football as a little girl growing up in East Oakland in the 1950s. There's a great picture she's got as a child standing in the street that I've imposed my vision of her as the only girl playing football with all the tough boys.  So in her little Football Haven, we would enjoy such staples as Ruffles and Lipton Onion Dip, Milkshakes or just plain Ice Cream (never really plain: Chocolate and Butterscotch Syrup, fudge, nuts but never maraschino cherries, blech.), popcorn with real butter poured on, and always plenty of orange juice and chocolate milk to wash it down. There were plush seats that changed over time starting with this grey corduroy chair then later a nice pleather love seat recliner. The TV would get larger overtime too. When I go home NOW, it is a considerably large HD and has since ruined me for standard definition football.

At home was still nice although we had to get all the goodies for ourselves. There was a bevy of these in the garage/Costco pantry.  It would be the same if What managed her way over as she often did waiting for sunday dinner which we all ate together very often. She often would bring the Chips and Dip with her which would make it that much more lovely. The best part of watching football on sundays was watching with my pop. As with many traits I have inherited from my father, one is my affinity and the excitement that comes to me as I watch football.  He also would watch football all Saturday if he had the chance and over time I got heavier and heavier into the college game seeing why he found it much more exciting than professional. Also, his love for my BELOVED cougars as he, my mother and three of my sisters attended there. We watched some incredible QBs, number 8 Steve Young and then Ty Detmer and on to Steve Sarkisian as with receivers like Austin Collie. Sadly we haven't seen many great QBs since, especially after the horrible display in the Holy War last Saturday. But you'll find no fairweathers here. In fact, when Dad would watch and see a great or horrible play, he would get very excited or express his discomfort. Among my favorite expressions were, "For Pete's Sake!" "Son of Gun!" and my brother and I's favorite: "I love it, I love it, I love it!" At first we would reminisce having at my father's expense but I have since realized that I get excited in a very similar manner today.

The NFL is what we got most excited about because it was something people would most talk about and seemed to be more popular than college growing up.  Our team, and I want to make this clear, was the Forty-niners BEFORE Young came to the team.  I grew up with the legacy names like Ronnie Lott, Randy CrossRoger Craig, Dwight ClarkJerry Rice and the famed Joe Montana. The amazing 16 - 80 connections were something of legend and we LOVED to watch again and again, especially  when Coach Seifert took the boys to 1988 and 1989 Super Bowl wins. When Steve Young came to town, you could imagine our family and all Mormon friends excitement with him come to the "home team." Steve Young made a great impression in his own right his southpaw connections to Rice time and time again surpassing even the Montana to Rice TD record. My favorite Young moment was "the catch II" to a certain number 81 who I loved for the couple seconds he stayed humble before he became an eyesore in the media.

Football is the greatest spectator sport of all time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cinematic Excellence: The Spaghetti Western

From the earliest silent movie we have had numerous of what have been called Westerns. These have been known as Cowboy flicks, and since before the first moving picture there were many stories shared and published about Lawmen, Bounty Hunters, Outlaws, Desperados and Injuns involving both heroic and antiheroic motifs.

The Duke's Legacy is a lengthy one but I find the westerns with this typecast actor to be as wimpy as his real name: Marion.  After watching the craziness of Tarantino's Sukiyaki Western Django I realized that I am not the only one that finds the Italians take on the western to be quite extraordinary.  Ironically "Sukiyaki" was made in Japanese and Western themes with Japanese Actors, while many Italian Westerns copied plots from Japanese classics like Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa which was not an Italian exception with The Magnificent Seven obvious copy of the famed classic Seven Samurai These elaborate plotlines, the beautiful wide shots of the Hoyo de Manzanares or Tabernas Desert in Spain made to look like the South and Southwest United States in the late 19th century, the closeups of newfound prodigious actors such as Clint Eastwood, Franco Nero and Eli Wallach and the time-tested scores of composers like Ennio Morricone. He wasn't the first Italian to make memorable music set to western themes as you might see with one of my favorite and most renown composers, Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini.

Sergio Corbucci made his mark with the original Django starring Nero and had many exceptional westerns to come. Sergio Leone made an even greater mark with the No Name Trilogy in which Eastwood starred and later with Once Upon a Time in the West with Peter Fonda playing largely against type as villainous Frank. Although famous for their violence and testing the established film rating system in many countries, one can see the beauty of these films and their vision of the west.  When one watches these films it is hard not to accept these directors' view of a popular film theme as exceptional. I advise you, the reader, to start with Clint Eastwood's very first western, Leone's Fistful of Dollars, and you will see what I mean.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

British Music of the Aughts.

Since the turn of the latest century into the 00s there have been many a great group of talented musicians making good creative postnewpunkwaverock, especially British ones. First The Clash's sound started to evolve with Sandinista! but there were many more where they came from.

During my older brother's teenage years, I could hear music blasting out of his locked room (couldn't turn it down, even if he wasn't home). It took me ten-odd years to appreciate his love of record stores and open my ears to more than the gangsta rap that was so popular in MY teenage years. When I did, I remembered the sounds I had heard when I could barely recognize them: Siouxsee Sioux and her crew, Robert Smith with his new band, Ians both McCullough and Curtis and their respective groups, Jesus and Mary Chain, while Costello also and the wave he'd made. All these seem to center around English Radio DJ John Peel whose studio sessions promoted many of these acts when airplay was much more relevant to launching music careers.

In the early "double-zeroes"I was in Wisconsin serving a spanish-speaking LDS mission and although I did occasionally hear popular music, I wasn't able to soak it up like I love to do. Or if I did, it was mostly ranchera music booming out of camillonetas or trocas on the calle (that too holds a special place in my heart.)

When I returned home in May 2003, I was blown away with the resurgence of good rock music coming from across the pond in what the many called the post-punk revival. I had never made the connection, but it was much like the music I heard as a boy mixed with the creative juices flowing from all directions in the beginning of this new millennia.

While britpop pioneer Damon Albarn worked on his projects, brilliant acts like Bloc Party shared a new look at this great era of rock, citing the Cure as a major influence. My favorite of these bands just arriving on the british music scene has to be those chimps from the north, the Arctic Monkeys. They burst forth as the internet era of music brought them to more people quicker than ever before. After seeing them last monday and their new "interestingly-titled" album coming out today in the states, I am convinced that their brand of rock revives only the best in the british music of the yesteryear.

P.S. Figuring out my new handy little handheld handrecorder, I recorded a few live tracks from the in the venue show. Among other great songs I was too tired to hold my H2 up for were: Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair from the new LP, the classic If You Were There, Beware, Humbug's Potion Approaching, my favorite When the Sun Goes Down, Then when the picks and bottles of water were thrown into the audience and my friend was yelling something I couldn't quite make out, they played She's Thunderstorms also new, and crowd pleaser Fluorescent Adolescent.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's not world music, it's just music.

After listening heartily to Mali Music with my brothers in 2002, being exposed to Fela Kuti in 2006 by my dear friend Whit and reintroduced with the relatively new broadway show, and most recently turned to Tinariwen from my bud JDR, I have grown to love the traditional music of Africa and the spin new artists from the motherland put on American's take on the music they created in the first place. Full Circle.
From the dolcet tones of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to the funloving riffs of Vieux Farka Toure one can spend a lifetime exploring the myriad genres in Mama Africa. Move over Stanley, Burton and Livingstone, there is much more to discover here. L'Afrique, your contributions to music are endless.

P.S. Best part of my night? Toure family came out to dance on stage.
P.P.S. The Secret just came out tuesday, check it out.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Information overload

I love to learn about pretty much everything. When new things are introduced to me, it is like a drug. I must have new music/art/film/food and like Veloso's vagabond heart, mine "wants to hold the world in me."  I find the history of everything from Theremin festivals to Rock Paper Scissor Championships all tremendously interesting.  Why just this last week I saw french pop on wednesday, goslings and ducklings at work on thursday, found a new natural cherry energy drink on friday and wanna hear the words of the prophet (Q'uran) complete with a reciter? there's an app for that.  When I encounter these types of things I tend to explode into nonstopsharing mode, as my friends and wellwishers know well (Moe: I'm a wellwisher, in that I don't wish you any specific harm). When I am attempting to be clever and tell my story with tongue-in-cheek (it's hereditary, makes it hard to chew) please understand this is my way. Either laugh at me or with me. Either way it gives me much joy to see your smiling face.