Monday, May 31, 2010

A Slight Alteration...

...To my reading list for the summer.

In light of my rather slow progress in reading Don Quijote, I've decided to make a substitution for Les Miserables. In its place I will be reading 2666 by Roberto BolaƱo, in Spanish. I think this will still be a challenge, yet easier than Les Miserables. Don Quijote is apparently going to take all summer to read. No joke. It's just very slow going, written in the old Spanish. Very difficult to read. I'm actually enjoying it, but I can't take much more than a chapter at a time. Sometimes I take several days off.

However, I am bound and determined to get this classic work of literature read. I just need to.

We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

And Here It Is...

...My thoughts on music.

Music has been a part of my life since before I can remember. Literally. In the Journal my mother kept for me it says that I would sing songs my sisters taught me and people would give me quarters. I don't remember that personally, but I'm sure it's true.

I'm not nearly as keen on performing as I used to be. Music is much more personal now. I like singing in choirs. I don't mind singing solos. But I'm not a huge fan of being the center of attention, so I don't go out of my way to sing by myself in front of tons of people.

See, music is a fundamental part of myself. I discover who I am through music I listen to. I honestly don't know how many different songs I've listened to that have caused me to start sobbing as I finally unlock a part of myself that I just didn't understand or like.

I worship through music. The majority of my spiritual experiences have come through music. I wear my emotions on my sleeve anyway, and music just makes the emotions flow that much easier. A friend of mine once told me that he didn't believe me when I said I wasn't religious. He could feel my spirituality whenever I sang. And I sing a lot. I usually get self-conscious when I realize someone is paying attention and stop, but that's not the point.

A friend of mine thinks I'm insane because I would much rather lose my eyesight than my hearing. I honestly think I would go insane without music in my life. Without the cathartic release that music provides, I would explode. Possibly not so literally.

As far as my music tastes go, they are varied. I tell people I like a little bit of everybody from Abba to Zamfir. I listen to music in several languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese and German. I honestly think that anybody who looked through my music collection would find something that they like.

A lot of my listening habits depend on my mood. If I'm depressed, I'll listen to something upbeat, like Pink or the All-American Rejects or possibly one of the couple Fall Out Boy songs I have. If I'm pissed off, I'll listen to Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff." If I'm driving, I have to have music going, whether it's a CD or my iPod or, at last resort, the radio. Every now and again, someone will ask me who my music guilty pleasure is. Well, I don't have one. I like who I like. If you don't approve, well, fuck off.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on about music. I think I might have already. So I'll quit now. Basically, music is essential to me. I love it.

How's that?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tonight's Not the Night, Either...

I'm still putting my thoughts together about music. I had a good line of thought going, but was thrown completely off kilter by a call I received at work.

I work the grave shift at a hotel. Tonight I received a call inquiring as to the room rate. I told the man what the rate was for two people and a dog. He asked if it was okay to rent the room to film an adult movie.

I asked how many people would be in the room. He said just two and the dog. One cameraman to film the caller having sex with the dog. I then told him that I wouldn't feel comfortable renting the room for the purpose of making an adult film as I do not know the manager's or the hotel chain's policies on the matter.

He got really defensive. He asked if we allowed dogs. I said yes. He asked if we allowed people to have sex. I said sure. He then asked why I wouldn't allow him to rent. I told him again that I wasn't sure on the policy and didn't feel comfortable.

He then asked if it was because of the bestiality. I told him that his personal practices weren't any business of mine. He pursued the point, trying to make it a case of discrimination. He asked if I was against bestiality. I told him it wasn't my cup of tea. He then asked if necrophilia was, and that he could bring a dead girl instead of the dog.

At this point, I said, "I'm sorry, I'm hanging up now."

I swear this actually happened tonight. I'm not sure if it was a prank call. If a call is a prank call, I can usually hear laughter in the background. There was some people noise in the background, but no laughter. And he seemed truly offended that I was against bestiality.

It was weird. So now my thoughts are rather jumbled. I promise a post on music is coming. Tomorrow most likely.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Just Don't Feel Like It...

...Not anymore.

I've got a post planned for sometime in the near future. I was going to write it tonight, but I just don't feel like it.

What will it be about? An exploration of how I feel about music and what it means to me.

Why don't I feel like it tonight? A combination of things, really. The last twenty-four hours or so have been a roller coaster ride; lots of ups and downs. I accomplished a lot last night at work. Read a chapter of Don Quijote. Did some writing. Felt good about myself. Once the end of my shift drew near, things got worse. A whole bunch of things happened that I probably shouldn't let affect me, but they did.

This evening was going well. I received a new disc of Eli Stone episodes in the mail from Netflix. I already watched them, too. Great show. I really enjoy it and I am starting to really draw inspiration from it. I came in to work two hours early. I read two chapters of Don Quijote. I'm actually starting to enjoy reading this book. It's slow going, but I like it. That's a plus. I didn't think I'd enjoy reading it after the disastrous class I took on the book eight years ago.

But now? I'm just tired. And a little depressed. And I just don't feel like searching myself to find and describe how I feel about music.

Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Step On Out Part 2

I just recaptured a little bit of my childhood.

I went to Groovacious Monday to see if Tim could order in a copy of Step On Out by the Oak Ridge Boys. His normal supplier didn't have it in stock, but Tim said he'd try a couple other places and let me know the result. I got a call from him this evening saying that the CD had just come in.

I bought the CD and listened to it as soon as I got home. No wonder I wore out the cassette tape I owned in the 80s.

I enjoyed each song. When I listen to a song, I use iTunes' rating system. Step On Out had two five-star songs, seven four-star songs, and one three-star song. That makes it one of the highest-rated albums I own. Now, nostalgia may be coloring my judgement, but it's my song library and I can rate it how I like.

I honestly can't wait to listen to the album all the way through again.

It made my day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Don't Have a Clever Title...

...but I feel the need to write. Titles are the most difficult part of anything I write. Oh well.

I need to call UHEAA. They own my student loans. And, apparently, I'm not in deferment, even though I'm in school full time. I'd like to find out why. If I have to make payments this summer, I'm not going to be able to save up for anything I'd like to acquire. Oh well.

I think I may need to find a different ward to attend. The people in the ward I went to last week were very friendly. That was nice. Made me feel welcome. But when it came time to sing hymns, I felt I was the only one singing. Being able to sing the bass line of hymns with a group of people was one of the principle reasons I decided to attend church again. If I can't have that because everyone else is mumbling the hymn, then what's the point? Oh well.

On a brighter note, I really, really like the show Eli Stone. I realize I'm just setting myself up for disappointment, as it only lasted 2 seasons. However, it is a very inspirational show that resonates emotionally with me.

As far as shows that are currently being broadcast go, I can't wait for the series finale of Lost. It airs this Sunday. Also, this week's episode of Glee was phenomenal. Neil Patrick Harris was fun to watch and listen to. He has a great voice. Some surprising reveals as far as character motivations go. The season finale of Bones was very emotional for the characters, and for me. I can't wait to see where they go when it comes back in the fall. And I can't wait for the DVDs of this season to come out so I can buy them.

I can't ride my bike to work just yet. Actually, that isn't true. I could ride it to work just fine. It would just take me a long time to get home. The return trip is all uphill. So i will build up some endurance first, and see where I'm at in a couple weeks. I enjoy riding though, and it's a great workout.

Things are, overall, going well for me. Too bad I think I can feel a panic attack coming on.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Walking in Memphis...

...has nothing to do with this post. I just heard that song on the radio at work and I really like it, so there you go.

After I leave work tomorrow, I think I will walk to Walmart and purchase a bicycle. I know, I know, Walmart is of the devil, but if there were another store in town that had a bike anywhere near as cheap, I would go there. That's just how it goes sometimes.

Also, I went to church today. First time in a long time. I've been contemplating the pros and cons of going for quite a while now. What pushed me over the edge? A comic book series called Transmetropolitan. Transmet was written by Warren Ellis. It stars a character named Spider Jerusalem, a journalist. From what I understand, he was loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson. I think there's a lot of Warren Ellis in him, too. It's an amazing comic book. It makes me want to write. In the book, Spider moves back to the City because he needs to write and he can't write unless he's miserable and hated and the City makes him feel this way. Church doesn't necessarily make me feel miserable and hated. At least, not all the time. I figure that it will give me something to write about when I am lacking in ideas. So that and wanting to arrange to play the piano every now and again made me decide to go to church.

I'm going to apply for a part-time job at Domino's, to go along with my job at the Quality Inn. I work graves at the hotel, and sleep in the mornings, so working evening for a couple hours at Domino's will work out nicely. Just for the summer. I want to buy a flat-screen TV, and this will let me accomplish that much sooner. I am putting money aside out of every paycheck, as I don't want to go into more debt for just a TV.

Maybe I'm growing up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Step On Out... the name of an Oak Ridge Boys album I had when I was a kid. It was released in 1985, so I was at least 8 years old when I got it.

I listened to it so much I wore it out. It wouldn't play at all. I was crushed when I discovered this.

Listening to the Oak Ridge Boys made me want to sing. More specifically, listening to the Oak Ridge Boys made me want to sing like Richard Sterban. He's the bass. Now, I don't have the incredibly deep range he does, but I do okay. And I love to sing in choirs, quartets, duets, the car, the shower, and sometimes in class.

I'm no longer self-conscious about my voice. I don't mind who hears me sing. I used to hide "behind" the other voices in the choirs I sang with, but now I love to sing out and be noticed.

Back to "Step On Out." I can't find this album for download. I use legal sites, like iTunes, but they don't have it. I looked for mp3 downloads of the album, and I can't find it. Some sellers on have it, but I really don't like to use the independent sellers. No real reason, I just don't.

If I remember, I'm going to check with Groovacious this week. I really want to have this album again.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lost in La Mancha...

Just watched this documentary about Terry Gilliam's attempt to film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote." Interesting documentary.

Honestly? I would love to see the film that Gilliam wanted to make. They showed several shots of Jean Rochefort in the Quixote costume and he fit the image I have in my mind. Almost exactly. It was incredible!

It seemed oddly appropriate to watch this film right now. I just finished On Writing by Stephen King, and the next book on my list that I want to read is Don Quixote.

I can't wait to get started!

Before I do, though, I've decided to watch Pan's Labyrinth again. I keep putting it off because when I watched it in the theater, it was very powerful and deeply affected me. I love it and I fear it.

Is that normal?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Summer Reading List

It seems like a good idea.

I've read a couple lists recently where quite a few people are planning to read 16 books in the 16 weeks between now and when the fall semester starts. I like that concept, but the books I wanted to assign myself to read aren't books that I can read that quickly. If I finish early, I'll pick some more, but I want to start with a somewhat reachable goal.

Also, I will be reading a lot of books that are fun, quick reads. Books I've read over and over again. So those won't count towards my list, though I may mention them in future blogs.

Here's my reading list:

1. Don Quixote de La Mancha: (In Spanish) My very first semester at SUU, I took a class where we were supposed to read this book. By the middle of the semester everybody, including the professor, had purchased the sparknotes summary. Not an effective class, but I've been meaning to read this book since then.

2. En la Ardiente Oscuridad: (In the Burning Darkness). Spanish play about a University for blind students. I read this while at Dixie, and enjoyed it, but I want to read it again, now that I understand Spanish literature a little better.

3. Les Miserables: (Lez Mizzer-rabbleez) Actually going to attempt to read this in French. I only own the first half of the story, so that's what I'll read. I imagine it will take forever. I would much rather have some Hugo poetry books to read, but I'll take this in the meantime.

4. I have a book of French poetry that I haven't read yet. So it goes on the list. I can't remember the title.

5. On Writing, by Stephen King: I don't want to write like Stephen King, but my creative writing professor read some snippets from this book and King makes some points that I find very useful. So I'm going to read the entire book on my own.

So there's my reading list. Really looking forward to summer now. I have two very big novels to read in foreign languages, two smaller works in the same two languages, and a helpful book on writing.

Should be fun!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Just Some Thoughts...

...about some things I think about.

I generally don't like to broadcast my views when it comes to political "hot-topics." I generally feel that my opinions are my opinions and that I don't need to foist them off on other people. Even if asked, I'll usually hedge my way around answering, give non-answers, that sort of thing.

However, with the recent law enacted in Arizona, I feel like I need to get some thoughts off of my chest. Or head. Whatever.

When it comes to the Hispanic community, I'm in a rather unique position. After they get to know me, I usually get accepted as an honorary member of the Hispanic community. I speak Spanish fluently, which gives me an in, and my mindset is more affiliated with the Hispanic mindset than most gringos.

I'm against illegal immigration. Not so much because I don't want them in the country, but because I believe in obeying the law. When I go to another country, I make sure I jump through all the hoops to be there legally. And I believe in the Golden Rule, so I feel that people coming to my country should do the same.

This new law in Arizona feels like it's a way for the state to help Sheriff Arpaio avoid lawsuits for doing what he always does: go out and round up anybody who looks like an illegal immigrant. This usually translates to anybody who looks Mexican. Arizona keeps saying that they won't fall back on racial profiling, but that feels like this is exactly where they are heading.

It makes me very uncomfortable.

I wonder if those that had a hand in drafting this new law have ever spent any amount of time living in another country. I lived in Peru for two years, and it sucks to get singled out for looking different than the majority of those around you. I can relate to how the Hispanic community in Arizona is feeling now. This new law just feels wrong.

And those are my thoughts.