29 February 2012

Choreography Is The Best Job Ever

Seriously, name me one other occupation where you can listen to your favourite song in the world for hours on end and have absolutely no shame in doing so.

28 February 2012


She was my first Sunday School teacher -- way back when I was three or four years old.

I don't remember a single lesson she ever taught. All I can see in my mind's eye is her squarish face with the gold-rimmed glasses set against the baby blue of the classroom walls as we sat around the low wooden table.

I don't know if I ever saw her actually smile, but I never really saw her frown either.

But she talked. Oh, she was always talking. Her face probably had no chance to smile or to frown -- her mouth was always changing shape, always moving.

She never seemed to age. In all the years I knew her she never seemed to get any older, though she passed through nearly two decades in that time. All her wrinkles had set in by the time she was my Sunday School teacher and it seemed not a single one was added since.

She was forthright, rather loud, and nothing if not opinionated. It seemed to be a trait in the family -- good German stock, I'm told. She cared about things, though the vehemence with which she did so was rather off-putting to those not used to such forceful decisiveness.

She was a tower. Strongly built, firmly set.

But she was not one of those who just sat around and grumbled about how terrible things were. No, no.

She was a member of every board she could find, every committee relevant to the things she cared about. She was involved in everything. She was the change she wanted to see in things. Some disagreed with her, sometimes strongly, but no one could say she was a lazy whiner.

Though four years his junior, she faithfully supported her brother, his only constant in a family broken by greed. Card games, church choir, Thursday morning coffee, she was his rock.

And then the ailment which had so nearly claimed her brother years before... a heart attack. Rushed to the hospital. A string of infections, two other operations she shouldn't have needed. Her birthday somewhere in the middle of it all. Flat on her back, a trach tube rendering her unable to speak.

Even now her fierce independence shone through -- she refused all visitors except her own children. No one needed to see her like this.

For months she ebbed and flowed. Finally there was a stretch of significant progress and she was moved out of the ICU.

And then Sunday morning came the call to her daughter -- respiratory distress. Hours later, a stroke. She was moved back to ICU, family was called.

Then on the morning of the twenty-eighth, her last earthly memory was made.

Though I can't remember a single Sunday School lesson she taught me all those years ago, I can still hear her voice. Even though I can't remember whether her short-cropped hair was light blonde or white -- or if it made a transition between the two over the years -- I can still see it softly permed and piled above her head. I still see the plain-style floral-print blue and green dresses she would wear to church with gold-plated earrings and a large ring on her soft white hand.

Though I hardly knew her, in an odd way I miss her. And my heart aches for those who knew her well.

In memory of H.M.G.
1934 ~ 2012

22 February 2012

Today's Commute (As Chronicled By The iPod)

Today's two-hour commute to and from dance went as follows:

(Backstory: A friend from church ended up with a second iPod car adapter he didn't need and gave it to me. I decided to put my 2 GB nano back to work (it had been kind of forgotten since my library outgrew it). I loaded it with a bunch of random songs and took it for a spin today.)

I started it off myself with The Devil Is Bad by the W's. It was the first song that caught my attention as I was scrolling through the song list and I thought, 'Hey, why not?' (It was also peppy enough to get me through the first few minutes of the drive when I'm still tired and not really alert.)

Then I set it to shuffle.

I didn't recognise the second song at first... but when I did I started laughing. The only Christmas song on the iPod (and, I had noticed after syncing, the *gasp!* only White Heart song). It seemed quite fitting as the clouds hung thick and white in the sky, heavy with glorious snow so rare.

We were off to a very good start.

Next up, the analogue recording of PFR's Name (even though the dragging is awful, I couldn't part with the analogue tracks even after getting the CD).

After that, Petra's More Power To Ya, followed immediately by Adonai.

That right there, my friends, is a good commute song. Actually it's good for pretty much anything. (Have I ever mentioned that I love this song?)

It was kind of a downer when the best rock praise song ever recorded (says me) was followed by Switchfoot's More Than Fine. Not a lot of tracks can easily follow Adonai, and that wasn't one of them.

Then came Frontlynaz's Addicted (a random hip hop song I heard once and kind of liked so I downloaded it. You know, back when I had money for that kind of frivolous stuff).

Then the iPod abruptly changed gears and put out two early Amy Grant tracks in a row -- Love Can Do and Angels (eerily appropriate for driving that highway at times).

Then it apparently tired of the '80s and moved on to R&B/Soul-type stuff (Nicole C Mullen's Witness and Mary Mary's Shackles (Praise You)).

Midway through that last track we arrived at the studio and the iPod was put on hold for several hours in favour of piano music.

Upon returning to the rattletrap and finishing the Mary Mary song, it pulled out Owl City's Fireflies, much to my sister's delight, then, as we came off the overpass onto the main highway, one of my favourite Newsboys tracks, Praises.

Following that, Fisherman Song by Boxtree -- a sweet little flashback to my childhood. Such a cute cheerful song. Stylistically it's like PFR's Great Lengths, only nobody's ever heard of it.

Then came the ultimate in modern pop (as modern pop as one gets on my iPod, anyway), the remixed version of ZOEgirl's Even If. This is definitely a song you blast from the speakers as you rock down the highway. (At least that's what I did.)

And the ultimate in BeeGee-esque late '70s rock (as far as that goes on my iPod -- see previous paragraph) Petra's Angel Of Light. It was a bit of a jump, but hey, Petra is always fitting. Always.

We pulled into Tim Horton's just as Angel Of Light finished and paused it while I went in and ordered our weekly pair of small iced capps. (Yes, non-Canadian readers, that's 'capps' with two p's. It takes less time for the weather to change around here than it does for us to say 'iced cappuccino' and we just don't have that kind of time to mess with because the hockey game starts in ten minutes and we have to hurry up and get back to home sweet igloo before the face-off.)

Anyway, the trip from Tim Horton's to the next lights followed the soundtrack to Phil Joel's Strangely Normal, and the trip from those lights to the next were underscored by PFR's Goldie's Last Day. (Is it just me or did I drive really really slowly through town? Wow. Two songs seems a bit excessive. Apologies to the people stuck behind me.)

The Newsboys' Joy carried us out of town and back onto the highway, followed by Steven Curtis Chapman's This Day and Jasmin Gibb's Come To Jesus.

As I made the left onto the gravel road to our house, the final leg of the journey, and the last note ofCome To Jesus faded into a mere echo in the short-term memory, I began to seriously hope the next song wouldn't be a dud. Years of living in the same house, taking the same road over and over and over again has taught me that from the turn onto the gravel to our house is four and a half minutes -- just enough for one more song.

What would it be? Which should I hope for?

Come on, don't pick a lame one, don't pick a lame one...

Drum beat. Drum beat. Three more, successive.

Yes. (*insert mental fist pump here* I couldn't do a real one because if I took my hand off the wheel the wind would have swept us neatly into the ditch.)

People In A Box.

Just a little bit of eighties to stick in my head for the rest of the afternoon. (Okay okay, maybe a lot of eighties to stick in my head for the rest of the afternoon.)

And then once I got in the house it was too quiet so I put on some DeGarmo & Key. So much for that other plan.

(Yes, I know I need a life.)

17 February 2012

Music Day

It's Friday already?

...Friday's almost over already?

Crap. I guess I need to find a song. (*starts scrolling through iTunes frantically*)

So, um... how have you all been? What's been going on in your world?

Me, well lately I've been (ooh, maybe Sheila Walsh? Oh wait, the iTunes Store doesn't carry her stuff yet) working on choreography, like I think I've probably mentioned lately.

It's been going pretty well. I picked a song I've had an intro to for like months and have determined that I will not work on any other choreography until that piece is done. At least in rough draft form. Also I decided I'd work on it every single day until it's done. Even if that work just means transcribing my hastily-scrawled English-language notes about it into Benesh notation without actually coming up with new steps. Because making sure it's understandable six months from now still counts, if you ask me.

And believe it or not, I've already choreographed the entire seventeen-second intro, the first verse and the first chorus. I've transcribed about halfway through the verse.

Also, speaking of choreography, my dance friend and I have decided that we're going to do a NaNoWriMo-esque choreography month in May. There is already a similar challenge in January, but it was the last week of January before we found out about it and anyway, they don't have a minimum accomplishment threshold like NaNoWriMo does. And without a definite goal to push toward, neither of us gets anything accomplished (well, I don't anyway).

We're still trying to figure out what kind of goal to set (a certain number of minutes' worth in a month? a certain number of pages in a month?), but we've already set aside the first of June to get together and share May's output with each other.

So I've found a song!

This is another one from my childhood, from my father's collection. This is one of his favourite artists -- he has this song on vinyl (probably twice) and at least twice on CD. This is probably my favourite song from this artist... there's this moment, about four and a half minutes into it, after the lyric Not to speak a word... there's a pause and then a tremble of excitement in his voice in the next line that gets into the depths of your mind and sends itself down your spine because you know the celebration is coming and the excitement begins to build and it makes your hands flutter in anticipation.

And then with triumph the celebration starts! and it makes your heart beat faster and it makes you get up out of your chair and jump around, reaching higher with every leap, and it makes you sing along at the top of your lungs and by the time the song ends you're completely spent from the previous two minutes but you're totally exhilarated.

It feels dramatic, but it's also so real. And to top it all, this features some of his best lyric crafting (in my opinion).

Title: Gotta Tell Somebody
Artist: Don Francisco
Album: Got To Tell Somebody
Year: 1979
Label: Newpax Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.
(Based on the miracle documented in Mark chapter 5 verses 21-24 and 35-43. It's also covered in Luke chapter 8 verses 41, 42, and 49 through 56.)

And doesn't the analogue mixing/mastering just make that celebration? This song wouldn't be nearly as big a part of my memory as it is now if it weren't for the sound of the celebration pushing the volume limits of late-1970s recording equipment.

But with authority I'd never heard from the lips of any man
He spoke and every sound rolled out with the thunder of command...

He gave me life when all hope was dead
Where there was grief He brought joy instead...

10 February 2012

Music Day

This song, for me, like time traveling to 2008, to the Bible study I was in at the time with our youth group -- all twelve or so of us crammed in the youth pastor's cosy living room eating his wife's baking, fresh from the oven, playing with the cat and the eight-month-old's toys. There resides many of my favourite memories, even though more than half the original members are abroad at school, the very youngest members of the study are all now in their final year of high school and the youth pastor himself has since spent a year as a head pastor at another church and is currently back in seminary.

I had never heard this song, nor even knew of the artist, back then, but the connection remains because the title of this song is the title of the book we studied.

That book grabbed me by the shoulders and woke me up. And I do believe I'll be forever grateful for it. So it was little wonder I thoroughly enjoyed the song which (I'm fairly certain) is inspired by that book...

Title: Don't Waste Your Life
Artist: Lecrae
Album: Rebel
Year: 2008
Label: Reach Records
iTunes here; YouTube here (official video) and here (full song).

I don't listen to any so-called 'secular' rap at all, but I've heard many people say this guy is on par with the biggest names out there in rap right now (I won't even try to name them because I have no idea who they are), and this, by far, is his best performance to date (according to me). (Actually this is his best album to date according to me.)

See your money, your singleness, marriage, talents, your time
They were loaned to you to show the world that Christ is divine...

03 February 2012

Music Day

Finally finally finally finally finally somebody at the Canadian iTunes Store got with the program and added this album!

This is, no question, this artist's best album so far and quite possibly the best Christian contemporary album ever recorded (according to me). The songs featured here today have been my number one and two favourite songs ever since I discovered the album among my father's collection as a child.

I've listed two songs because they run together so it sounds like one song and in my mind it's impossible to play one without the other. I remember having, at age four, a rather heated argument with my parents that the two were actually one track on the CD.

It was a good year or so before I actually paid attention to the track numbers showing as the 'song' played and found out my parents were right after all.

Titles: Interlude In B Minor and This Time
Artist: David Meece
Album: Learning To Trust
Year: 1989
Label: Star Song Records
iTunes here; YouTube here (this is both songs together).

Also, I have exciting news!

The other day I was poking around the David Meece website and apparently HE IS WORKING ON AN ALL-NEW ALBUM! (Excitement!)

David Meece has been my favourite artist since I was four years old. Unfortunately, he's only released three albums since I was born and one of those was a greatest-hits compilation with just two new recordings. The latest album came in 2002.

Needless to say, an all-new David Meece album is long overdue. If you agree with me, you can donate to his new project here.

And then go buy Learning To Trust, whether from iTunes or from his website.

No backward glance
Now is the time
This is our chance...

I Was Just There

If you are the observant type, you might have noticed in my profile thingy (or a post or two) that I'm from Alberta.

And in Alberta, there are two hockey teams.

There's the Oilers, and then some other cowboy team or something that sucks anyway.

Tonight (well, last night), was, as Dan Tencer and Rob Brown of 630 CHED reminded us about a thousand times, historic. Especially for an Oilers fan.

Sam Ganger scored eight points in a game -- four goals, four assists. He has tied the record for most points in a game (in the Oilers franchise at least), a record previously made by only two other men.

One was Paul Coffey. The other, who actually accomplished this feat twice, went by the name Wayne Gretzky.

Oh, and actually -- Ganger scored all eight points in the last two-thirds of the game.

I'm just young enough to have missed the Oilers' so-called glory years of the 1980s, so this is completely new to me. I'm also a bit of a latecomer to Canada's national sport, so I also managed to miss the remainder of Wayne Gretzky's career.

I've never been witness to anything like this before.

Certainly, Sam Ganger is no Wayne Gretzky (not at this point anyway), but it's a thrilling peek at what the Oilers have been at one point and will be again... and if they keep adding skilled young players like this, that will be fairly soon.

I guess I'm just trying to add my voice to the crowd, to be able to say, when I'm seventy-five years old or so, "I remember that night. I heard Jack Michaels screaming with shocked exhilaration the word 'SCORES!' over the blaring horn and the deafening roar of 16,839 fans eight times through my radio speakers as I sat in my room unable to concentrate on any of the blogs I was trying to catch up on. I wasn't in the arena that night, but I was there when it happened."

I'm not quite sure what to think of the fact that as the Oilers were down 1-0 in the first period (a score usually quite hazardous to their health), I said, "Why do the Oilers even bother playing anymore? They never win."

If saying that is going to get these sorts of results, I'll gladly say it again on Saturday when they play next.