Sunday, June 20, 2010

Just a Little Update

I went to a family party last night and realized, while talking to my cousin Jenny, that I hadn't really circulated a certain bit of news among a good portion of my friends and family. Here is the news: on May 5th, I went to the temple and took out my endowments. I didn't make a big deal out of it for a couple of reasons; first, my cousin was getting married (in the temple) the next week and I was hoping to attend her sealing without her knowing I would be there. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I felt that going to the temple was such a personal and sacred thing that posting it anywhere and everywhere would lessen the magnitude of the event. I finally decided to blog about it because I don't want to seem like I'm hiding it or anything. I'm actually not sharing this particular post on Facebook, but those who follow my blog or check it regularly will see this and be up to date.

I suppose I should throw in a little note as to why I decided to go to the temple at this time. Whenever I told people that I didn't know very well that I was going, they always asked the same three questions: "Are you getting married? (no) Are you going on a mission? (no) So, why are you going?" I've thought about this a lot, and I could give a really long answer or I could just say this: it was time. I truly believe that right now (or rather, last month) is the time for me to take out my endowment, and I'm so glad that I did. It has already been a blessing in my life and I know it will continue to be in the future.

And that's all I have to say about that :) (try to read that in a Forrest Gump voice)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

You Don't Mess Around with Jim or, in this case, Journey

Since the beginning of time, people have been doing song covers (How's that for a ridiculous essay opener? Somewhere, my former English professors are feeling the urge to scream and they don't know why). Even back in medieval times, bards and minstrels put their own spins on the songs that were part of the oral tradition of the time. In the days of Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, it seemed like everyone sang the same songs in their own way. Sometimes, the best way for an artist to get started is to cover songs, and there are even bands that only perform covers of songs, some dedicated to one single band or artist.

Of course, there are rules in the world of song covering. These rules are in place to protect the hallowed halls of the musical canon, and to avoid a serious backlash for the ambitious artists. One of these rules is to tread very, very lightly when dealing with the sort of song that has become a legend. The kind of song that has the power to unite the entire world, party, or just the group in a car in the cause of singing the beloved words at the top of their lungs in an everlasting salute to the musical geniuses that brought forth the beauty flowing forth from the speakers. You know what I mean?

One such song is "Don't Stop Believin' " by Journey. Perhaps you've heard of it, as it is only one of the greatest songs of all time. As such, it's understandable that any and all musicians may want to play it. Within the first few notes, the audience in attendance will inevitably start cheering with excitement. Here's the catch, though. The song needs to be performed pretty dang close to the original arrangement. I'm not saying that it needs to be exactly the same; that wouldn't really be fair to creative musicians all over the world. All I ask is that it stays pretty close to the original spirit of the song.

What I take issue with (wait, was that a quote from "Sherlock Holmes"?) is the blatant re-creation of this cherished song into something that barely resembles the original masterpiece. This train wreck was, rather forcefully, introduced to me via the music played at my place of employment, the JCP. I heard the intro and thought "Hey! They're playing one of the greatest songs of all time!", but I quickly realized how very, very wrong I was. Shortly after realizing that the music itself was quite different, I heard a voice (although at this moment, memory clouded by my annoyance and outrage, I can't recall whether I heard the whiny boy or whiny girl first) that was certainly not Steve Perry, no not even close. It was....the voice of a Glee cast member.

Now, I should probably take a moment to explain that I have no hard feelings towards Glee and their various cover songs. Although I have never seen the show, I plan to and I'm sure I'll really love it. In fact, I may even enjoy their version of this practically sacred song, but that will only be within the confines of that episode. The thing is, Glee has invaded the radio waves of JCP! I swear that we play like four or five different songs from that show and it's driving me crazy! Recently I've taken to, upon hearing a suspicious cover of a song, calling my dear friend Becca, down in the men's department to find out if the song is from Glee, and it always is. Tonight, I actually just yelled out her name after we had closed because I didn't know where she was. She yelled back that we were, indeed, listening to Glee. You may, at this point, imagine me saying "Glee" with the same amount of distaste that Jerry Seinfeld employed when saying "Newman!"

Why, JCP, why???

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Danger and Adventure, in My Own Backyard

Imagine, if you will, a lovely Sunday afternoon. The sky was clear, the air was warm, and I had just begun my annual summer reading of my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, on a swing in my backyard. After some time had been passed, basking in the witty banter of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, I felt something crawling on my foot. I looked down, assuming it was an ant or other bug that could be swept away. To my horror, however, I saw that there was a wasp on my foot! I have a horrible, horrible fear of wasps and all other related, stinging insects. I've been stung several times in my life and have no wish to be stung again. I tried to remain calm, hoping that the beast would eventually bore of its perch and take flight, but that did not appear to be the wasp's plan. It stayed, and stayed, and, you guessed it, stayed. I moved my foot closer to the grass in an attempt to entice the wasp towards the lush greenery, but alas! my efforts were in vain.

After several more paralyzingly frightening moments, in which the wasp continued to reposition its many legs and move around its thorax (an action which I was certain meant the insect was preparing to sting me), my mind caught hold upon the thought that my brother, Bret, was just inside and could surely come to my rescue. I picked up my phone and called him. The call went a bit like this:
Bret: Hello? (In a questioning tone, wondering why his sister was calling him from outside)
Me: Are you home? (I was afraid that he had left while I was outside)
Bret: Yes.
Me: You have to come save me. There's a wasp on my foot. (I was whispering because I was afraid that excess noise would provoke the monster)
Bret: Ok, I'll be right out.

Moments later, Bret emerged from the house, wearing a straw cowboy hat and wielding a BB gun. I was pretty sure that he did not intend to shoot me, but he did have a gun... My foot began to tremble and I tried to control it, certain that movement would enrage the creature into a violent show of self defense. Bret walked toward me, cocking the gun as he crossed the grassy expanse. I wondered if maybe he planned to poke the wasp off my foot. That concerned me because it seemed likely that such a poke would only anger the wasp and end with me being stung. Bret pointed the gun at my foot and pulled the trigger. The puff of air that came out of the empty barrel shot the wasp off my foot and out of sight. Afraid that the wasp would make a swift and vengeful return, I screamed, gathered my belongings, and ran into the house. My legs were shaking too badly to support my weight, and I had to take a seat, gasping to regain a regular breathing pattern. Bret came in and laid his weapon and hat down. I told him he was my hero, because it was true.

Bret saved my life that day.