Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Avatar *Spoiler Alert!*

Ok, so I finally watched Avatar this last weekend. I wasn't necessarily avoiding watching the movie, it just was never particularly high on my list for whatever reason. eventually, I found out what this reason was. It wasn't bad, but throughout most of the movie I felt like I already knew what was going to happen next. I couldn't put my finger on it until...

I was hit by a wave of inspiration. Avatar: Pretty much the grown-up, sci-fi version of Disney's Pocahontas. It's true! The more technologically-advanced people travel to a new world in search of precious minerals. These people consider the natives to be savages and don't seem to have any problems with destroying them or their world in order to get what they want. A soldier (John Smith) attempts to get to know them and understand them and finds out that they have their own technology by way of their connection with the world around them. The natives answer to a tree spirit (Grandmother Willow). The soldier falls in love with one of the natives and eventually ends up taking their side. Don't get me wrong, the underlying message, if taken in this way, is good. Respect others, respect their lands and way of life, respect nature, etc. I know that it's been forever since I've seen it, but this just might also line up pretty well with Ferngully. Seems like it would.

Had I not seen these movies as a child, I may have enjoyed Avatar a little more-- or maybe not; I don't know. As it was, the plot "just ok" and I was really sad that my little TV wasn't able to give me the 3-D effects that would have made it a little better.

Anyway, that's just my take on it. It was a very symbolic movie, and there were several different ways to interpret it. I've heard a few other interpretations, but they aren't nearly as nice!

Inception: Now THERE's a GOOD movie! I just saw it the other night at the theater. Amazing! Go watch it.

Here's to Days Just Packed watching movies like Inception and not Avatar (even though you have to watch a few crappy movies too just so you appreciate the really good ones!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

More than 31 flavors.

I guess I should officially declare August to be "Music Month." It seem like music is always on my mind lately, or at least it has been the only 'blog-worthy' thing on my mind. In the middle of last week I managed to exceed my 40-hour monthly music quota on Pandora. This would have been around Aug. 10 or 11. At any rate, it was a new record. Forty-hours of music in about 7 days if you take out the weekends.

I often show up to work in the morning, fire up my computer, pour a cup of coffee, and start up Pandora. Pandora can be summed up in one word:


Yes, I love my Pandora account because I can go there, pick a station I have custom made to fit a certain style of music, and then just let it play in the background as I work. The only times I ever really have to mess with it is to pause when someone comes into my office to talk, to tell it I really don't like the song it picked out (not likely), or to tell it that it should play more songs like the one it just played (I usually only do this enough times for it to get the idea).

I have 18 different Pandora stations. I know that my title said "More than 31 flavors," but I lied-- 31 sounds better. Anyway, picking a station to listen to in the morning is like asking myself, "Hmmm...what flavor should I pick today?" Like picking out ice cream, it really depends on my mood and how I feel. For example, this week's menu included dixieland/jazz today, gypsy punk/ska on Thursday, the kind of stuff you hear at Starbucks on Wednesday, "old vocals" like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Perry Como (<----odd one out?) on Tuesday, and Monday was 80's music. I'm surprised that the musical side of my brain hasn't been turned into blended mush with all the different kinds of music I throw at it.

For the curious, my current favorite is the Starbucks blend. It's really catchy, but still relaxing. I can tap my foot, but it's not hard-driving rock or chair-bouncing jazz. I give it my "Best Flavor for the Workplace" rating. Speaking of work...

Here's to Days Just Packed with the many flavors of music! (just not all mixed together at once, because a "music blendie" may be a horrible, horrible thing).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


This week is the first week of Band Camp for the CSU Marching Band (CSURFVMB) <----A gold star if you figure out the acronym. This week is also the first week in five years that I haven't been in it and, I have to admit-- I miss it already. The Band was big part of my life at CSU, and no matter how many times I said I was glad to be done, I can't help but be a little sad that I am.

I know that this past March I finished off that chapter in my life, and I even made a blog post about it. I "turned the page" so to speak, but I also "didn't close the book." The best stories are the ones that continue to be told even if the following chapters follow a different direction. I know it sounds geeky, but this week was one of reflection for me. I flipped back a few pages and looked back at some of the greatest memories I had while being in the band-- friendships I made (many of which have continued), the long, hot days I complained about but secretly loved (a far cry from my new life in the air-conditioned office), losing my voice and hurting my hands as I yelled commands and clapped the cadence time and time again until the new marchers "got it" (maybe I don't miss that as much!), and the feeling of successfully running through the entire show for the first time with music and drill (one of the greatest feelings of "mission accomplished" a band member could feel at the end of camp). *Sigh (typically the rest of the alto section would respond in chorus with another, even louder sigh).

Yes, I miss band, and yes, that makes me a band geek. As I said in my last post, music is still a big part of my life, and I'm sure it always will be. Even though I'm a little sad this week as I look back at my memories of band, I don't see this as a bad thing. For one, I have something to miss, which means that I was once involved in it. And secondly, I miss it, which means I enjoyed doing it. So, as always...

Here's to Days Just Packed with some very fond memories!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Return of the Muse

I have always loved music. From the time I was a little kid I loved to sit down with an instrument and just let the music flow out. I admit that there were, and are, some times when what was flowing into the air was more like pollution rather than sweet music, but I still loved doing it. It was a form of expressing myself, a way to make others smile, and an outlet to step outside of reality for a moment.

Although only a handful of people have ever heard my pieces, I also love to compose music. Just sitting and creating a piece that is completely fresh and new is something that I can spend hours doing and days agonizing over in order to get the sounds "just right." Writing music is a big outlet for me when words just won't do. Sometimes l like to think that there is a muse sitting next to me and softly humming the melody into my ear. This becomes even more fitting since the file extensions on my Finale program are ".mus" (nerdy, yes, but I have to feel like the muse is getting some credit with every music file I save on my computer).

Unfortunately, until a few nights ago I haven't been able to compose a decent piece of music for the past 8 months-- and how I did try! I would sit and look at a blank staff and wait for that soft whisper but it just wouldn't come anymore. I feel like this boils down to the fact that I had linked my muse to a specific person in my life. I felt that when she left, so did my inspiration, and this became extremely problematic for me. At a time when I felt like I needed the musical outlet the most, I felt that I had been abandoned by my muse. In reality, I had really been pushing the muse away.

This last Thursday, I heard the whisper again (metaphorically speaking, of course). I had just finished watching a movie when I started humming a tune I had never heard before. In pure excitement I ran to my computer and started writing. Four hours later I had finally managed a piece that I could consider "mostly finished." This small event was exciting for me for a couple different reasons. First and foremost I could finally write music again! I had worried that my muse would never return. Secondly, this helped show me that I am continuing to move forward with my life and that my muse is something that cannot be taken away. I refuse to allow past hurts to prevent me from doing the things I enjoy or things that define who I am. Life is too short and some things in it are too wonderful for me to spend my time living under a rock. Besides, the underside of rocks are dark and smelly--and there are spiders.

Here's to Day's Just Packed with music!