Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Songs of the Moment 10/11/11 - Originals

Hey guys, I'm not going to be too descriptive with individual songs here, but this post has been on my mind for a while. A couple months ago I shared a few fabulous song covers here: http://aslickgimmick.blogspot.com/2011/08/songs-of-moment-8211-covers.html

Now I'm going to turn things around and pay homage to the artists who are shadowed by the more popular renditions of their tunes and melodies. Many pop artists' biggest hits aren't actually their own and quite frankly, that pisses me off! Let's pay respects to the real artists! I'll include all of the examples I can think of, but I'm sure there are many more.

1. Apache - Incredible Bongo Band
(Used by Sugarhill Gang in Apache (Jump On It))

2. Time of My Life (From Dirty Dancing)
(Used by Black Eyed Peas in The Time)

3.Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap
(Used by Jason Derulo in Whatcha Say)

4.Under Pressure - Queen
(Used by Vanilla Ice in Ice Ice Baby)

5. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
(Used by Kanye West in Stronger)

6.Misirlou - Dick Dale
(Used by Black Eyed Peas in Pump It)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Insight - Encouraging Words

Fantastic! Wonderful! Amazing! These words are meant to be morale boosters, but are they? Let's face it, these words are overused, but in my opinion, that isn't the problem. The problem is that we've stopped considering what they really mean. Just because we don't need to look them up in dictionary doesn't mean we're using them right. Have you ever connected "awesome" to "awe" or "fantastic" to "fantasy"? Let's take a few minutes and see what's really behind these idolized terms so you can make sure you're using them right. Here are some such words followed by their literal interpretations. Some are obvious, but others may give you a new perspective.

Fantastic - having to do with fantasy
Use this word and you're suggesting that something's too good to be true or otherwise "out of this world". Be careful with this one. A new song from your favorite artist may seem fantastic, but your score on the last math test probably isn't.

Wonderful - full of wonder
This word usually doesn't quite fit where people place it. Love can certainly be wonderful, but is your boyfriend/girlfriend? Paintings can be wonderful, but so is my sister's bad taste in music... If my teacher told me my paper was wonderful, I might be worried. I want to stick with excellence. Let's keep the wondering to a minimum.

Amazing - it amazes
In my opinion, this word is actually a pretty meaningful one if you actually mean it and in the right way. You may find your date's appearance amazing, but keep in mind that people often amaze us with their stupidity as well. Your call with this one.

Awesome - involving awe
Let's face it...this word has been trashed. Back in the day, this was used in the most fanciful and sophisticated of novels. Now it's a dull medium for hipsta spreckin'. So what is awe? Awe is the sort of thing that makes you stop in your tracks or drop your jaw. A funky beat isn't awesome. A breakdancer is fairly awesome. The Grand Canyon is mighty awesome.

Excellent - it excels
Excellent is a good word for your teacher to use to describe your writing assignment. Don't use it when you find out that your long-awaited package has arrived. Use this word when you think something is above average.

Remarkable - you're able to make a remark about it
I think this is a joke of a word and I laugh inside when I hear it used in a dramatic way. Really though, it means absolutely nothing when you say that something is remarkable. You can make a remark about every single thing that has ever existed. "The dust behind my nightstand stinks." There, now the dust behind my nightstand is remarkable. You get the point...avoid this word.
P.S. "It wasn't remarkable" = the ultimate paradox.

Fabulous - related to fables (imaginary or hard to believe)
Fabulous is a lot like fantastic, but it's harder to use seriously just because of how it sounds. Use this word when something seems almost impossible, and by impossible I mean actually impossible. Hercules is fabulous, but I've never been to a fabulous wedding. Focus on fictitious things here, like flying pigs; they are particularly fabulous.

Incredible - not credible (hard to believe)
Incredible is like a more realistic version of fabulous and fantastic, kinda like amazing. I think it's a pretty good one. The Bugatti travels at incredible speeds and skyscrapers can reach incredible heights. Honestly, I can't think of a case where incredible wouldn't fit your needs so long as you actually find the described object hard to believe. Same thing with amazing applies here though...stupid people can be quite incredible.

Extraordinary - Outside of ordinary
I'm a big fan of the sound and meaning of this word...it really makes something seem special. The spouse of your dreams is extraordinary, your favorite song is extraordinary, the high score in the class is extraordinary. Take care with how much you use this word though. The more things you make extraordinary, the less extraordinary they all are. If you call everything extraordinary, then nothing is extaordinary.

Well there you have it. I know this is largely a matter of taste, but realize that you aren't going to find 'incredible' in the thesaurus entry for 'amazing'. These words aren't interchangeable and they mean more than we often care to consider. Let's try to resurrect these words by putting some more thought into how they're used. Oh, and never, under any circumstances, use the word 'remarkable'. Blech.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Songs of the Moment 9/15/11 - Video Game Music 2

Before you lose interest, know that I don't think I've ever felt as passionate about a single music post as I am about this one. Over two years ago, I posted my first video game music playlist; since then, one of those songs (Faith) showed up in my list of my 17 all-time favorite songs, one (Still Alive) appeared on Rock Band, and another (Baba Yetu) won a Grammy...I think this stuff is worth your time. The last five songs are a must-listen!

Check the first in this series here: http://aslickgimmick.blogspot.com/2009/08/songs-of-moment-817.html

I spend a lot of time playing video games. At least an hour almost every day and up to seven hours on an plan-less day. Am I addicted? Not in the way you would think. I'm not addicted to the violence or the laziness. I'm addicted to the stories, the immersion, the experience. Few people know that my aspiration to be a fiction novelist owes its existence to video games. It isn't enough to study or observe fictional worlds, as I'm restricted to with books and movies. I crave being inside of them, affecting their plots and devoting hours to their rich art - things that certain video games specialize in. Hopefully some of these tunes will help you understand the appeal I find in gaming.

1. Mall Music 5 from Dead Rising 2
Dead Rising 2 has a pretty dark nature: you're stuck in a giant mall during a zombie outbreak; survive for three days to be rescued. Seems like a pretty cruel, mindless objective, right? Well songs like this add a unique sort of realism to the situation, I mean...this does sound like something that would be playing in a mall, right? The game isn't about taking out zombies, it's about running around the mall to save survivors, stopping looters and psychos from putting others in danger, and protecting your character's ten-year-old daughter. Music like this strengthens the portrayal of the big idea.

2. Departure from Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
I shared this game's theme song in the last post, but I just have to share one more from the 52-song soundtrack. In this game, you and a few friends journey out into a dangerous fantasy land that hasn't been explored for decades to collect some of the magic energy that keeps your town alive. This tune is the first you come across in the brave journey and fits the mood well. I would replay that first level just to hear this song. Earlier today my sister, who used to play the game with me, told me that she's considering to use it for a dance that she has to choreograph. This mix of obscure instruments is wonderful.

3. Cohen's Masterpiece from Bioshock
"The artist has a duty: to seduce the ear and delight the spirit." -Sander Cohen
How about something more technically impressive? In Bioshock, you character is caught in a plane crash over the ocean. He finds his way into a underworld city called Rapture that is being torn apart by the unrestrained ambition of the utopians who built it. Sander Cohen is a psychotic man you find who is so obsessed with dramatic theater and art that he wants you to collect dead bodies for his new masterpiece. Pretty crazy, huh? Well so is his song. It captures the terror, the aesthetic value, and the eccentricity of the scene.

4. Tokara Forest Theme from Unreal Tournament 2004
Unreal Tournament 2004 is one of my top three favorite games of all time. I included the main theme last time, but this one better fits the game's atmosphere. This game's premise is a lot like that of The Hunger Games, with preferable differences. Skilled fighters are put into a virtual world to duke it out for the world's enjoyment; the good news is that they have unlimited lives. Each of the 100-or-so virtual arenas has its own music theme; these range from hardcore electronic to more dulcet tunes like this song, which plays over a giant forest setting. I've never felt so immersed as a result of a game's soundtrack.

5. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star from Dead Space
I'm fairly certain you'll never hear anything more creepy than this cover, which is hardly as lovable as its uberly popular original version. This extended version of a bedtime favorite was performed by one of the producers of the game and can be heard in the distance as you fight to get out of an alien-infested spaceship. This tune is the epitome of the feeling you have throughout the entire game...it gives me the chills every single time.

6. Ring Around the Rosie from Dead Space 2
Bad news...the aliens have now gained controlled over a gigantic spaceport and another childhood favorite has been corrupted in the process. I got this game for my birthday back in February and I've only played it for an hour because it is so flipping terrifying. Nothing scares me after that hour...dead serious. This song contains some of the intensity of the game with some of the startling sound effects you encounter in the space port. Creepy! Sorry in advance for the nightmares!

7. Sailing on the Wind by Vincent Diamente from Flower
Let's calm your racing heart with something especially light-hearted. Flower is a game like no other. You control a single flower petal pushed around by the breeze. Your goal: collect more flower petals to bring life back to the dull city! It sounds dumb and only lasts about 30 minutes, but the outstanding soundtrack and cool scenery makes this game a surprisingly beautiful experience that, I dare say, just about any non-gamer would enjoy.

8. Want You Gone by Jonathan Coulton/GLaDOS from Portal 2
"Goodbye my only friend...oh, did you think I meant you? That would be funny if it weren't so sad."
Portal's theme song, which I put in my previous post, took the world by storm. Everybody wondered if it could be outdone in the game's sequel, which also took the world by storm this past summer. Turns out it could. In fact, I think that the first song sucks compared to this new one. Characterized by the cruel humor of the game's prevailing villain, an A.I. that forces you to run through puzzling tests for the good of science, this song is the perfect ending to the most satisfying puzzle game I've ever played. It has some spoilers so be careful!

9. Destiny of Love by Inon Zur from Dragon Age 2
Now we're getting to the truly brilliant stuff. Many video game tunes rely upon the games they're composed to become noticed, but these songs achieve a level of artful prestige that reaches far beyond gaming. This song, for instance, can easily compete with the likes of Enya and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Inon Zur is a genius (check his song from Prince of Persia in my last post). These vocals are ridiculous! In this game, your family's town is destroyed by an army of dark creatures and you must fight to make a mark in your new home to improve the lives of your friends and family. This tune expresses some of the deep emotions the game tries to get across and draws from the world's complex backstory. Incredible stuff.

10. Edward Carnby by Oliver DeRiviere from Alone in the Dark
Speaking of ridiculous vocals, here's a Bulgarian choir for your listening enjoyment. In this game, New York City is being ripped to shreds by demons and the character you play, after which this song is titled, is the only one who can stop it. Orchestrations like this pack a lot of emotion into the story...this is the sort of feeling I crave in a video game. You might want to also check out Tiesto's electronic remix of this song.

11. The Poet and the Muse by Poets of the Fall from Alan Wake
This song is one of a kind. It's written by an actual rock band, which becomes a separate band within the story of the game, and it's lyrics are centered on the game's plot. Alan Wake is something truly inspired...the protagonist, Alan, is a horror novelist whose story comes to life around him. He must journey through darkness to figure out how he can write an ending that will both please the evil power he created and allow him to save his missing wife. The song's "Poet" is Tom, a man who lost his own wife, the "Muse", when he was in Alan's situation and who guides Alan to victory. If that isn't a cool premise, who knows what is. The amazing soundtrack and powerful storytelling, perhaps the most powerful of any video game, formed an experience I treasure far more than most.

12. Painful Memories by Normand Corbeil from Heavy Rain
"How far would you go to save someone you love?" -Heavy Rain tagline
Where do I start with Heavy Rain? Much like Alan Wake, this game is more about story than gameplay, which I love, unlike most gamers. You play Ethan Mars, a man partially responsible for his oldest son's death. Ethan gets divorced and is still haunted by his mistake when his second son and only other child is kidnapped by the Origami Killer, a criminal who promises to kill the boy if Ethan doesn't endure several crazy trials. This song captures the dynamic mood perfectly and frequently plays throughout the touching story. The song, like the game, is far too short.

13. Dead Island Trailer Theme by Giles Lamb
This last song has me speechless. It isn't from a game, but rather from the cinematic trailer of a game, which received 6.5 million views on Youtube...yes, it's that good. I'll spare you the pretty gruesome, extremely sad story of the trailer and get straight to the best part. Piano + string quartet = unspeakable passion in this simple, yet heart-wrenching piece. Unfortunately, I don't have this game yet and I have heard that it doesn't contain much of the emotion this song provides. I guess that makes this song a three-minute thing, an experience in and of itself. It just might break into my list of all-time favorites. Enjoy.

If you're brave enough, watch the trailer for the full effect:

Wow...that was lengthy. What can I say? I'm in love with the topic. I'm studying computer engineering so I can expand the virtual world and I'm looking into creative writing so I can create powerful stories of my own. In many ways, my greatest life goals depend upon that early start I had in the world of gaming. For the same reason a reader might dive into a book or a dancer might freestyle in the middle of an empty stage, I turn to video games. The allow me to escape. They make the world seem a bit more exciting. Add a bit of music, my other most favorite thing in the world, and you've got a work of art unlike anything else out there. In my opinion, you ought to count video games in if you want to consider yourself a full-fledged artistic explorer. I know, as always, that it's hard for me to communicate my passion effectively, but I hope you at least enjoyed this taste of a leading aspect of my life. Thanks!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Music Challenge #1

Just how immersed in the world of music am I? Lately I've been wanting to test this somehow and I think I've finally come up with a decent method. I'm going to listen as many artists as I can...no hints, no time limit no preparation, right here, right now. This includes bands, solo musicians, and musical projects (i.e. Owl City). Let's see how many I can get. It's 10:04...ready, set, go!


Alright guys, it is 10:48 and my mind is fried...turns out the greatest challenge here isn't searching for new artists, it's remembering their names! I quickly realized that the list was far too long to stick here so I'll just give you a summary.

I came up with a list of 326 artists starting with The Dangerous Summer and ending with Coheed and Cambria. I was astounded when I suddenly couldn't recall the names of some of my favorites like A Fine Frenzy, Great Northern, The Morning Of, and Moving Mountains...then again, I got some unexpected ones as well (Elvis Costello, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Kellie Pickler). My thought process was extra nifty. I watched as my list of country artists shifted into rap artists when Taylor Swift led to Kanye West. Sometimes I would even think in rhymes like from All Time Low to OK Go. Anyway...I think I'll hone my skills with this silly test and try again eventually. In the meantime, why don't you challenge yourself?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Songs of the Moment 8/2/11 - Covers

I used to be a firm critic of covers because I'm a strong proponent of recognizing original credit, but I've found so many excellent re-makes lately that I just allow myself to keep this amazing stuff from you guys. These aren't your typical covers. There's none of that lame same note, different voice nonsense in this list. This is a list of covers the way they're meant to be done.

How are covers "meant to be done?" In my mind, skilled reworking isn't just singing a song the way it's always been sung, nor is it taking a popular theme and making millions by throwing in some spoken words and a groovy beat without giving near enough credit to the creator. Curse them greedy rappers and pop artists! (Speaking of original credit, I've got a score to settle with Jason Derulo. Listen to this song and proceed to hate Jason Derulo forever...go to about 2:45 in the video. Imogen Heap ftw!!!)

Anyway...in my opinion, a good cover changes the song in some way. It changes the speed, the instrumentation, the vocal style, or any mix of these and other elements. The most memorable covers take a song from one genre to another. Here in this list we've got pop -> rock, pop -> alternative, folk -> pop, and a number of other change-ups. The cool thing about this list is that these covers weren't just sung in a bedroom some random day; these were arranged (and some produced for albums) with much effort by many of my favorite bands. You're bound to fall in love with at least one of them. Here we go! (Original versions are linked below each video for comparison.)

1. Crazy In Love - Snow Patrol (originally by Beyoncé)
This cover is nuts! From cheery pop tune to a fairly dark rock song...not for everyone, but I think it's sweet. This is Snow Patrol's only cover that I know of and you've got to wonder: what made them pick this song? I'd never have thought this vocal part could work so well with a male singer, but the band's nifty interpretation is commendable.

Original or cover?: I like the cover lots more. I'd take head-banging over foot-tapping any day!


2. Man in the Mirror - The Midway State (Michael Jackson)
Sadly, I heard this version of the song before I knew it was Michael Jackson's, which kind of skews my thinking in terms of bias. Good thing this band is tremendous and helped me to know this was a cover by putting the pop artist's name first on the video. They actually came up with this cover as a tribute to Michael shortly after his death...a real admirable bunch of guys. This version is extra touching and they definitely do the record-breaker justice.

Original or cover?: I respect Michael Jackson and his legacy, but I've never been a huge fan of his style. Cover wins here.


3. Eye of the Tiger - The Rural Alberta Advantage (Survivor)
This cover is absolutely stunning and I've been hooked since my first listen. I presume a lot of people will find it tough to accept the voice, but this acoustic instrumentation is genius and that can't be denied. The Rural Alberta Advantage released this cover as a single and it has become something that fans are really proud of. This is more than just a switch in genre, this is a switch in generations! I love it's mellow simplicity...much different than the original.

Original or cover?: That's a tough choice...I think I'm gonna have to root for the original here. That song is untouchable.


4. Just Dance - Gary Go (Lady Gaga)
This cover right here inspired my heavily-involved search for amazing covers and sparked my idea for this blog post. Anyone who pushes this cover aside is insane! Never before has a tune so energetic and empowering become something so sweet and packed with emotion. From heavy electronics to soft piano. I can't get enough! Gary Go needs to cover more often!

Original or cover?: They're like two different songs! Geeze...it's guess it's got to be the cover!


5. Imagine - A Perfect Circle (John Lennon)
The top comment on YouTube puts this cover best... 40 years ago, John Lennon shared a hope for the future with a extra melodious, inspiring song called Imagine. 30 years later, A Perfect Circle took the song and, in a way, corrupted it, just like power, greed, and the resulting conflict have corrupted Lennon's dream in our time. They contain the same words and the same ideal, but they are surrounded by separate, very different worlds. This song comes from an entire album of covers that A Perfect Circle put together to peacefully protest foreign intervention and unnecessary hate. This cover epitomizes both their beliefs and their musical skill. Check it out.

Original or cover?: Even though I heard A Perfect Circle's version first, I definitely like the original more.


6. No One's Gonna Love You - Cee Lo Green (Band of Horses)
Now you guys may not know the original song, but it's one of my favorites. Despite my general ill-feeling toward Cee Lo, I'm a big fan of his way of playing it. The original version is filled with a hint of regret and I love how Cee Lo keeps this feeling intact while alternating it with burst of joyful-sounding stuff. I'm thrilled such a big star would pick one of my little-known favorites to cover on his album!

Original or cover?: Definitely original here...I've loved that song for far too long.


7. Run - Leona Lewis (Snow Patrol)
Leona Lewis AND Snow Patrol!? Oh boy...we're getting serious. The previous coverer becomes covered in this amazing rendition of one of my all time favorite songs. This is definitely the most popular cover on the list; you might have even heard it (If you have...don't forget that Snow Patrol created this beauty first!). If I were to have anyone cover this song, someone just like Leona Lewis would be my pick. Her voice is perfect and provides a variety of emotion that's unique from what the original has to offer. I highly recommend to listen to both versions of this tune.

Original or cover?: Don't get me wrong, I love the piano/strings/harmonies of the cover, but the soft rock of Snow Patrol's original can't be beat, especially when its tied to so many good memories of mine. That's the feeling that was meant so that's the one I stand by.


8. Don't Give Up - The Midway State w/ Lady Gaga (Peter Gabriel w/ Kate Nash)
WHAT IS THIS!?!? One of my favorite obscure bands teaming up with a popular pop powerhouse!? They can do no wrong! Not only do they cover the song, they remake the music video! Shweet. Both versions are primarily electronic, but the difference between old and modern really shows. I wish stuff like this would happen more often, especially when we've got this example to show us how brilliant the result can be.

Original or cover?: I like the new version A LOT, but it seems as if Peter Gabriel and Kate Nash's voices were made for this song. To raise any recreation above the original would just be silly.


9. Use Somebody - Laura Jansen (Kings of Leon)
This is my most recent find and addiction. Covering the 2010 Grammy's song of the year seems like it'd be a daunting task, but artists are flocking to the masterpiece. I've heard Matisyahu, Paramore, Pixie Lott, and others take a whack at it, but Laura Jansen does it best of all. It's so cool to see the vocal gender-cross executed so nicely (this is the 4th time on the list now)! The piano is always a safe choice when beauty is in focus. I like the softer touch. Listen up!

Original or cover?: The cover's nice, but the original feels so much...I don't know...more epic.



10. Teenage Dream - The Rescues (Katy Perry)
My most favorite of the bunch! I'm not going to lying...I'm extremely excited to share this one with you guys cause it's an amazing find. These guys are harmony masters and this song is the perfect pick! When you see a band as skilled as this morph a huge pop tune, doesn't it kinda make them hotshot billboard leaders seem almost amateur? Compliments don't add much to how awesome this song is...just listen already!

Original or cover?: Cover, most definitely.


So there you have it! Impressed much? Usually we like to believe that nothing could beat the original tune, but when I tally up my preferred versions, I'm nearly split at 4 covers vs. 6 originals. I guess that's evidence that artists can beat each other at their own games, if you will. Well I've got a collection of such tunes large enough to supply another one or two excellent 'cover' lists...let me know if that sounds appealing!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Operation 'Operation' in Progress: A Full Account

Here I am, 17 days after surgery (I swear I didn't plan that) and still recovering. I planned to lay this out for you guys earlier, but the path toward normalcy has been taking some interesting turns so I thought I'd wait it out a bit longer so this post is a little more comprehensive concerning the experience as a whole. This explanation covers everything leading up to the surgery, the recovery, and would I can expect to see in the future as a result of my operation. I'm kinda treating it as a public journal entry so it's pretty dang thorough. If you want to see just the recent surgery stuff and onward, start at the paragraph with the asterisks.

When I hit puberty, it became clear that there was something abnormal about my chest. As I went through my teenage growth spurt, a dent in my chest (just below my pectorial muscles and beside the points of my ribcage) grew deeper and deeper pretty much throughout my life since then. Naturally, I went looking for answers with my parents leading the way. We visited with a doctor at Lakeview Hospital (I think) when I was about 14 and in 8th grade. Upon seeing my chest and physical form, she immediately suspected that I had Marfan's Syndrome.

What is Marfan's Syndrome? Here's the wiki (if you're interested): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marfan_syndrome It's genetic, it's not all too rare, and it's life-threatening at it's most severe levels. There are a bunch of symptoms associated with the condition, but generally people with Marfan's Syndrome have long bones, contributing to an unusual height:weight ratio, bad vision, and problems with major organs, particularly the heart. When I first took in all this information, I had reason to be concerned. I was definitely one of the taller kids around school and I had started noticing that my bare-eyed vision was failing me. To figure out if I had anything to worry about, we went straight the the diagnosis process.

For diagnosis, the doctor goes through five tests and if you test positive for Marfan's in three or more, you officially have it. The first two tests were immediately taken care of. I obviously had long bones, which was most clearly seen in my height, 11 1/2 shoe size, and long fingers, which have actually been extremely helpful in my viola/bass guitar playing endeavors. The next test I didn't really get, but when she saw stretchmarks on my back and the dent in my chest, I was marked positive for the 2nd test. I think it had something to do with my body not being ready physically for my growth spurt and therefore growing somewhat oddly, hence the stretchmarks and concave chest...who knows. So there I was, already one test away from being diagnosed. The next three tests were a bit more complicated.

For the third test, I was sent to an eye doctor. This is when I received my glasses and contacts for the first time. Though I was surprised by my worsening vision, it was far from a level that would prohibit concern. Test three was a negative. The next two tests were both taken care of with a single CT scan; one involved my organs (mainly my heart) and the other focused on my brain and spinal cord. The organ test looks at organ alignment, as well as the function of the heart's valves and chambers. Other than the pressure the concave chest put on my heart and lungs, there were no problems there. The brain test, which looks at the dural sac (the membrane around the top of the spinal cord that can cause unnecessary pain throughout the body if it is awry), was also a negative. So with an overall two out of five tests marked positive, I wasn't diagnosed. The doctor, however, agreed that I definitely have a mild case of the condition, which a few of my older relatives on my mom's side show more subtle signs of.

Unfortunately, I wasn't incredibly relieved by this news. The look of my concave chest made me incredibly uncomfortable. I would swim with my shirt on or just not swim at all. In fact, now that I think about it, I haven't been in a public pool for about 2 1/2 years. In this way, I was able to hide it pretty easily. Not even my closest friends knew about it until I mentioned my recent surgery. Even more unsettling was what came on when I 16, maybe even 17 years old. When I would go out to play racquetball or even when I was getting prepared for a big viola performance, I would feel a fairly intense burning in my chest accompanied by a shortness of breath. This would always pass within minutes, but it certainly worried me. Around this time, I started hearing about an effective procedure that could fix it: The Nuss Procedure. I decided to visit another doctor, this time an orthopedic surgeon who excels at the operation: my hero Dr. Scaife.

About three months ago, I met with Dr. Scaife just to get an idea about how reasonable the operation could be considered in my case. This visit made it clear that the dent had gotten much deeper than it was before. Right after seeing my chest, Dr. Scaife said I was an excellent candidate for the surgery, but there was a problem. The surgery wasn't absolutely necessary, so there was a possibility that it would pass for cosmetic, rather than medical, which means I'd have no help from my insurance company. I was put through another CT scan to figure out my Haller index value. This number basically represents how much room there is for my organs based on the distance between my spine and the deepest point in the dent. Results showed that the operation was "reasonable, but not necessarily recommended." This proof and a few pics convinced my insurance company to support me. Now all that was left was the decision. The doctor said that most people that don't like the look of the concave chest do it, and that was a major aspect of my reason for visiting him in the first point. I knew very well, however, that I would be sacrificing about a month of my summer to do it, but they don't like doing this operation past age 19 so now was the time. After a few weeks, I decided to go with it. My main reason? I can honestly tell you that I had my imagined future spouse at the forefront of my mind throughout the decision process. A few prayers later and I really felt like this was something I was meant to go through. I'm still thinking have that mindset two weeks later.

The next few weeks were quiet in this matter. I went through some insane testing, finished school, and had a few excellent weeks to open the summer. I wasn't worried about the surgery at all. I was actually really looking forward to the very unusual experience. Then my extended family found out what I was planning and you know how grandparents can be...they were all seriously concerned and I kept trying to reassure them I wasn't worried! The days went quick...I visited with friends at the beginning of July, where lots of them found out. Then on the 4th of July, I visited both sides of the family, witnessed some fantastic aerial fireworks, was given a blessing, and bam...surgery day: July 5th. I had been thinking and preparing for so long and it still took me a bit off guard.

Now I've never had surgery (other than when I was two, which I obviously don't remember) so that morning was mre than interesting. I checked in at 6:45 AM at Primary Children's and then went through the prep involving the IV hookup and other typical stuff. Then they take my parents and I into the surgery prep waiting room where doctors/nurses/anesthesiologists come to discuss things and then take patients away one by one. That place was freaky. On one half they've got the young patients, all toddlers, which I can't see from where I'm seated. I'm in the half with only teenagers. My surgeon was busy with an emergency operation so I was delayed a few hours, which worried me, but then as I saw things happen around me in that waiting room throughout that time, I was somewhat reassured. A sixteen year old guy to my right was getting knee surgery and he seemed to be trying to force the idea out of his head. A fifteen year old girl on the opposite end of the room was having surgery on both knees and didn't look worried at all. Just in front of me, a seventeen year old girl was preparing for heart surgery. She had parents, grandparents, AND a teddy bear helping her through the wait so I was feeling lucky in comparison. The minutes went by alright with the help of my "Key to Recovery" playlist on my ipod. My surgeon came, my nurse came, and then my anesthesiologist came and took me away. We went straight for the OR, which was surprisingly bright compared to my prediction, so he could put an epidural into my spine between my shoulder blades. I laid down soon after and I was out.

***So what about this Nuss procedure? It's been used for about ten years since Dr. Nuss introduced it and has basically replaced the alternative, very painful operation used before. I had two horizontal incisions, one below each armpit, and an additional little prick on one side where a medical camera was inserted. A cresent-shaped, steel sheet (very thin; less than one inch wide; as long as my torso across) is inserted through one side and pushed through to the other. The operation took just over an hour; most of the time was spent experimenting with and reshaping the sheet (mine is actually assymetrical because of the shape of my chest) When the shape is right, the bar is flipped around, forcing the sternum out; the effect of the surgery is immediate. At the end, they stitch it to the edges of my ribcage on both sides where the muscle will later cover and secure it. I'll have it in me for three years so my chest with stay popped out. Check out more details and sample x-rays on the wiki site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuss_procedure

Here's exactly what it did to me:

Then I woke up with crazy muscle spasms. The nurses thought I was cold so they piled blankets on me, causing me to sweat a ton. I was glad to find out that I only had one bar in me because I had been told I might need two. I was drugged up so my mind was pretty dull, but I stayed awake and was talking normally with the nurses and my parents just minutes out of the surgery. Everyone seemed surprised that I could recollect my entire journey from the waake-up room to my personal hospital room. I could definitely feel the pain, but it seemed like it would be very easy to endure. I was continually told that the major pain was coming soon, but the cool thing is that it never did. Having an epidural meant that I could force cold, pain-relieving fluid into my spinal column every 20 minutes with the push of a button. During my entire stay at the hospital, I pushed that button a total of four times. I was up and walking the next day. The nurses outside my room did a double take when they saw how fast I was crusing through those hospital halls. Sleeping was easy aside from the irritating needle that was causing my back to sweat. I didn't mind the nurses bugging me. The food was fantastic (and seemingly unlimited)! The hardest thing was boredom and limited movement. Visits were nice, but every other time was a mind battle. I couldn't really hold my hands up long enough to read or do anything else for most of the time so I relied on my ipod. My 97 song setlist got really old and soon enough the music didn't do it for me either. I just wanted to get out of there!

My stay at Primary Children's was unique because of my relatively high age. I took care of my own medical dealings and found that nearly all of my 11 or so nurses had a tendency to get into really deep conversations with me because they never get the chance when they're primarily working with kids half my age or less. I had actually taken the opportunity of being bedridden to test out some facial hair (unexpected of me, I know!) so I really stood out. One time when I was out walking, I saw that 17-year-old just out of heart surgery walking around down the hall. That moment was a wake-up call for me. It just seemed strange being part of that group. I've rarely been the one that needed care or that was unable and it's crazy to think about how many people are in that situation while we're out living normally. That and other such lessons I was hoping to get out of that surgery were plentiful and powerful. I was inspired by my new thoughts and I think I was overall very optimistic through the tough time. I've always been incredibly grateful for my crazy awesome immune system and it turns out my healing magic is all-inclusive. My nurses were concerned when the epidural was about to come out, but then I got up to walk around about ten minutes after it happened. Over half of my nurses said I was the quickest to heal out of any patient they've ever seen from the Nuss Procedure. My surgeon was super impressed and I was ready to go home sooner than anyone expected.

Things have been rough since then. At the beginning, the only sources of pain were the muscles in my chest and under my arm, which were sliced up during the operation. Everytime I twist or get up from sitting or laying down, it feels like I'm pulling a muscle in my chest. Laughing is the absolute worst, which has been a formidable challenge because I was so happy to come home and I've had to deal with a humorous family and a cute dog. Coughing and yawning hurt bad (ever tried stopping a yawn? It's embarassing). So far I've held off all sneezes, but those are likely to kill me. I battle shortness of breath all the time; raising the maximum capacity of my lungs actually caused their size to temporarily diminish (isn't that weird?) so I have a little device to help me fill up my lungs to their cap, even though they freak out when they expand that much. Sleeping is ridiculous. I got an average of 4 hours a night for the first four days home. When I got to the point where I could get myself out of bed, I figured out that sleeping on the couch is much better. but when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can't fall asleep in the same position so to this day I move from place to place (last night my seven hours of sleep involved five different locations).

How am I now? Well I can finally manage lifting my hands above my head, which means I no longer have to shower with a swimsuit so I can get help. A couple days ago, the swelling in my chest dropped. That was the hardest mountain to climb. I can now constantly feel the pressure pushing my chest out. The nights aren't getting better (thankfully I can manage without much sleep; it's 2 AM right now!), but the days are awesome. I've loved having an excuse to play video games for like ten hours each day. I still can't do any sports for about another month, which is practically when college starts, but at that point I'll be back to normal. I still won't be able to do extreme movements; things like swinging a baseball bat or wakeboarding have been known to push the bar out of place, which is excruciating. I'll be able to go on a mission though and I'll probably be able to get the bar out within several days of my return. I think I've just passed the last peak of pain so all that's left is a bit of waiting in patience.
So there it is. I'm now an enemy to metal detectors, a victim of Magneto's capabilities, and a partially bulletproof, regularly chested college freshman. It just makes me wonder...how do I go about telling someone I have a metal bar in my chest? They're not going to figure it out on their own and I can't live life surrounded by people who don't know I'm a cyborg! Nah...really though, these next few years are going to be kind of exciting and undeniably memorable. I feel like I made the right decision. I even had some tears going the first time I looked down. My family seems pleased, my closest friends seem glad for me, and everyone else...well I guess you've just found out. This is more than just a surgery to fix my body. I almost feel like it's fixing my life. It's funny knowing that I'm right in the middle of it. Maybe I'll post on this again later (this play-by-play turned out to be a beast so probably not), but in the meantime, don't give me any hugs!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Songs of the Moment 7/2/11 - Summer Ballads '11

AHHHH! Too much great music this summer! My playlists have been pretty much flawless for each and every occasion with all of the fabulous new stuff that's been coming out. For the third time on this blog, I'm bringing the highlights straight to ya with this post. Like usual, there was too much good stuff so I've expanded the 10-song limit I try for to 13 songs, 11 of which were released in the past few months. Not only are these song brand-spanking-new, they pretty much cover anything you're looking for this summer. A little rebellion, lots of excitement, some love, boat loads of memories, a few relaxing breaks...it's all here. We'll start with the really exciting stuff and then turn to the more chill tunes as we go down the list. Turns out we have a few awesome music videos with this group so make sure you don't miss out on those. Let's not waste any more time!

1. 19-2000 (Soulchild Remix) - Gorillaz
"It's the music that we choose."
What a perfect line of lyrics to start off the playlist! This song is actually several years old, but it's brand new to me. It's my most-listened-to tune out of this group over the past few weeks so it deserves to be here. The Gorillaz released out one last album this year and now they're over so it's cool to go back to their first album with this song as a way of showing appreciation for all they great stuff that has come from the project. This groove, like most Gorlliaz grooves, is inescapable and if you see me cruising around this summer, this is the song I'll probably be blasting.

2. Young Blood - The Naked and Famous
"You keep my secrets, hope to die. Promises...swear them to the sky."
This was the main song on my mind during the last hours of high school. The mood of this song screams summer and fits in with the post-graduation feel as well. I was thrilled to hear it in a TV commercial this week cause it seems to be gaining popularity as it should be. I'm a huge fan of the softer bit in the middle of the song and the male/female team vocalizing throughout. That strong, bass-drum beat is contagious!

3. Deer In the Headlights - Owl City
"Didn't you know love could shine this bright?"
Unfortunately I haven't picked up the new Owl City album, but this single had me hooked from the first listen. Adam Young's sound is always at home in the summer and I'm liking him more and more as he continues putting songs out. I'm always attracted to electronic stuff in the summer and this tune is almost perfect. Check it out.

4. Holiday - Swimming With Dolphins
"Does anything feel strange? Cause you're like a perfect dream and I'm afraid to awake."
A few years back, before "Fireflies", Owl City's master Adam Young started Swimming With Dolphins with his buddy Austin Tofte. When Adam saw some solo success, he left the project, which continued without him. It's too bad for Adam, cause I'm liking Swimming With Dolphin's new music is so much more than anything from Owl City. It deserves an equally large fanbase, in my opinion. This is the best album of the summer so far, hands down. Here's a taste:

5. Stamp - The Rural Alberta Advantage
All young lovers, you'll find another."
I'd say The Rural Alberta Advantage is an acquired taste, especially when it comes to the lead voice. I honestly can't get enough of it. The new album received much more attention than their first and for good reason. Watch the music video and you'll see this band's attractive quirkiness in action. The drummer is beyond commendable and this powerful tune owes a lot to him. See what you think.

6. The Valley - Eisley
"I don't see everything as right and wrong."
Eisley's new album shocked me. I wasn't super impressed by the last one, but now I love these guys! The whole CD is well-suited to the summer, but The Valley is especially catchy. The strings and piano, and the transitions between them, really set this song up to be a favorite of mine. All of the cool sounds work really well together and create some unique chords. This is one of those songs that makes me serious jealous about others' songwriting skills.

7. Work In Progress - The Dangerous Summer
"Even death can bring a man to life."
No summer playlist of mine is complete without The Dangerous Summer, one of my favorite bands (I'm wearing their t-shirt and looking at their poster right now!). These guys recently released two singles in anticipation for their new album, which is only two weeks out. I'm thrilled with what they're coming up with...this stuff is more mature than their last album and the lyrics are getting even stronger (keep in mind that each of the members is only about 22 years old). This tune right here is empowering and has an insanely awesome chorus. Keep an eye out for this band.

8. The Sun Shines At Night - The Submarines
"We had the summer of our lives."
Here's another band I got my second album from and this tune is definitely the frontrunner. I'm always a fan of the duel, male/female vocals and this band is excellent at it! I think this song is incredibly enjoyable in just about any summer setting; it just makes you feel good! Now if only I could make those lyrics applicable in my life...

9. Say It Like You Mean It - The Cinema
"I don't mean it like I say it and you don't say it like you mean it."
Remember Lydia, that band I'm crazy about? Well here's the short story: Last summer, Lydia's members start leaving. Leighton Antelman (lead singer and one of my top idols) announces split up and they have their farewell tour, which I went to. I'm super sad. After tour, the drummer convinces Leighton to keep going with Lydia. Lydia lives on and the only two remaining members start writing a new CD. While recording, Leighton creates a new project with the producer he's working with and here you go: The Cinema. This has been the most exciting group for me this summer. It's brand new, it's super catchy, and there's more soon to come. It's nothing like Lydia, but I love it. Enjoy!

10. Hiccups - Jinja Safari
"Party up, would you like to come?"
Jinja Safari's an up-and-coming band from Australia, you'll see them back in my best of 2010 list. I think it's amazing that today's technology and communication allows me to be obsessed with them! They're releasing the songs on their second EP one by one for free over the summer and each one packs a punch with their incredibly unique jungle sound. I think you'll really like it. Here's their leading tune

11. My Favorite Dream - Mae
"All I really know is that your hold on me is way too strong to be just a part of my imagination."
This is from my first of Mae's albums, which is sadly also their last. I honestly don't think they could have created a better finale. Due to an impressive leading ballad and passionate 18-minute piano solo, I was instantly captivated by these guys. My Favorite Dream is the song that convinced me to buy the CD. I really appreciate its lyrics and the feel that the composition puts behind the concept. Don't miss out.

12. July Flame - Laura Veirs
"Can I call you mine?"
This song belongs in last summer's list, but it caught my attention a bit too late. With July just starting, I figured it had to be here. This song's referrences to the summer make it extra suitable. Fireworks, lemonade, kites, peaches, a bit of summer longing. I'm enthralled with every listen. The changing mood created by its simple piano line, violin, and backing vocals is something extra special. Tell me what you think.

13. Atlantic - Sleeping At Last
Sleeping At Last is going strong with their year-long series of EPs. This tune is from the June EP, their 9th (only three left...that makes me sad). As with each set of songs in the past, this tune embraces its respective season and is different from the other tunes in that is was written for summer. The leading comment on YouTube says that this song is what love sounds like...I think that's an excellent way of putting it. No singing here, just the piano and cello at their very best. PS: I just listened to the July EP a few hours ago and I really think it's my favorite so far...I'll supply you guys with a sample as soon as it shows up online.

My favorite on the list? I'd have to say Atlantic or Holiday right now, but it changes with the days. Here's a few other summer tunes you might be interested in:
Good Times - Swimming With Dolphins
Civilian - Wye Oak
In The Summertime - The Rural Alberta Advantage
Shell Games - Bright Eyes
You Are A Tourist - Death Cab For Cutie
Sore Spores - Bobby
Beautiful Inside - Katie Herzig
Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay
Lifeline - Imogen Heap

If you're looking for a good summer album, try the ones by Eisley, Swimming With Dolphins, and Mae.

Thanks for stopping by! Share your own summer '11 favorites so I can beef up my list!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

YouTube Gold: Best Laughs

Here I am! After the terrifying end of senior year and anti-progress start to the summer, I'm back to blogging! I'm hoping to keep up the posting with all of this time off so check back often. So where do I begin after this 4-month hiatus? Well there's a list of things I've been wanting to do with this blog for a while so I guess I'll hit up that checklist. First up: YouTube.

It's not easy finding good stuff on YouTube without a little guidance. After a few years searching the site, I think I've seen a good chunk of the worthwhile stuff up there so I figured I'd start up a little collection of it right here for your convenience. Let's get to it.

1. Jake and Amir ... where to begin? I don't think I've laughed harder then during their best videos. Beware though...this stuff gets incredibly profane on certain videos so talk to me to find the right ones. Basic premise: Jake and Amir have adjacent desks at their workplace. Amir usually acts like an idiot and is always trying to get Jake, whom he idolizes, to notice him. Jake is incredibly annoyed by Amir, but can't get away from him. Now here's a small sample:


(Anyone notice that two of them say '17'?)

2. This series is done by the same company (College Humor), but includes Jake, Amir, and a bunch of guys in their office. It can also get pretty inappropriate so don't go watching them all you want if you'd rather avoid that stuff. Here's a good representation of the better half:


3. Now here's all the other stuff College Humor does. There aren't as many hilarious videos in this group, but many are worth checking it out. Here's some of them:


4. The Harvard Sailing Team is a college comedy sketch group I found not too long ago. These guys haven't been making videos lately and don't have too many, but i think they're hilarious. Check out these highlights:


5. Chances are you've heard of Julian Smith, but maybe you haven't seen all of his stuff. He's had some pretty epic videos lately. Here's a taste:


6. Here's my favorite comedy series of all: The Onion News Network. Sarcasm and mockery at their best. These guys even have their own newspaper and television channel. It's that good. Once again, be wary of the crude stuff. Check these out if anything on this post:


Now that's only scratching the surface of my collection, but I think it's a good batch for now. I'll be back with some more eventually. Let me know what your favorites are!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Last 17 Days: The End

I have 3 1/2 hours left to be 17...that's it. I don't know whether to tell you that this is the happiest day of my life or the sad day of my life, but it really is that huge. These feelings...it's incredible. 18 could never be the same...nor could any other year, for that matter. These last 17 days have been amazing, let's take a look at what's happened:

  • 1/31 - Downloaded Sleeping At Last's "Yearbook - February" EP. I'm loving those guys.
  • 2/2 - My first Davis Youth Symphony concert as the viola section leader.
  • 2/4 - Went on missionary splits for the first time, definitely one of the most spiritual moments of my life.
  • 2/6 - Received my patriarchal blessing on paper
  • 2/7 - turned in my revised IB Extended Essay (4,000 words) for the next-to final time
  • 2/8 - Named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. There's 15,000 across the nation...that's about .oo5% of U.S. high school seniors. Also received two full-ride scholarships. I'm extremely grateful.
  • 2/10 - Went to the BHS choir concert with an amazing girl. The concert blew my mind!
  • 2/11 - Made first chair violist in the BHS orchestra once again
  • 2/12 - Went to the Sweethearts' dance, one of the funnest dates I've ever been on, with an incredible girl and great friends.
  • 2/13 - The number 17 inspired me into bearing my testimony in my sacrament meeting; I also beat Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  • 2/14 - Finally tracked down the first Lydia album, something I've been searching nine months for. With it, I hit 4735 songs on iTunes and was surprised to find out that I now have more songs than my dad, the music master himself. I also hit 17 blog followers with the help of this post series.
  • 2/15 - Watched BHS take out WX yet again (We were tied at 17!)
  • 2/16 - Snowstorm! Just in time for my birthday! I kept telling everyone I wanted snow on my birthday...what a blessing.
  • The number 17 has showed up so many times! It's ridiculous! Some of my friends have even been keeping an eye out for the number in their own lives, letting me know all about each encounter.

There's probably more I'm forgetting right now, but yeah...lots to smile about. I'd now like to mention a few things that didn't make into any of the lists for various reasons. They need a place here.

  • TV Shows: Survivor, Dexter's Lab, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, Firefly, Wipeout, Firefly
  • Music Artists: Sia, Zero 7, Lamb, Imogen Heap, Oceanlab
  • People: my mom, dad, sisters, puppy(!!!), grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...I have so much to thank them for.

Haha, my phone just reminded me about an appointment...my birthday! What a handy phone that is! So here I am, the last few moments of 17. Have I cried about it? Yes, actually...it really sucks to have to let this go. Here's what I've learned about who I am at 17:

  • I am passionate, but extremely hesitant to show it.
  • I am driven by music. It's in my mind, in my heart, in my dreams, in my future. It is everything right now.
  • I am full of imagination and creativity. I love exploring others' ideas and I'm extremely passionate about my own ideas.
  • I am thrilled to live righteously. I've sorted things out in my life and I'm ready to let my spirit take me where it wants me to go.
  • I honestly don't want to go to college: music and writing are where I belong. They are what I truly aspire to.
  • The thing I want the most right now: to fall in love. There, I said it. I cannot wait until that day...
  • I am thankful for every little thing that has put me where I am today. I realize that I have great potential. I know that I am fortunate. I am ready to take advantage of it.

And where will life lead me next? Well...we'll leave that for another post. This is me saying goodbye as a 17-year-old for the last time...as I listen to 18 by Moby; I guess that's a good sign. For those of you who have kept up: I could never thank you enough. To be with me in this moment is truly special cause I don't see myself ever feeling quite this way ever again. I don't go on if people don't care. To quote the song I'm listening to right now: "We are still far from over." Thank you 17, for everything. Goodbye.

The Last 17 Days: The Last Day (Songs)

It's been a fun ride. I'm sad for this last post, but I've been looking forward to this one for quite some time. I knew I was going to do songs on the final day before I even thought about other possible topics. I ALWAYS have a song in my head. Not only is this probably the post I'll value most in the future, but I think it's of most use to you guys as well. If you're looking for good songs, well...these are the very best I have to offer. I've been keeping some of them hidden because some are quite personal, but I just can't have a blog post series like this without including the top tunes in my life. So here's the full reveal.

I'm going to end this round of blogging with a bang by including a list of 217 in this post. Ridiculous, right? It was actually extremely harder to narrow my songs down to 217 than to narrow down any other category to 17, believe it or not. These songs deserve to be known. Considering I now have over 4,700 songs, these tunes are a big deal. For those of you less interested or more lazy, I'll stick the top 17 into a group of their own; the other 200 will follow. Here they are: the songs that always get stuck in my mind, that I've cried to, that have given chills, that I've belted out time and time again, and that mean more to me than just about anything else. This is me in 217 songs. Enjoy and thank you.
  • Brothers On A Hotel Bed - Death Cab For Cutie
  • ***18 - Moby
  • Gravity of Love - Enigma
  • Gabriel - Lamb
  • Future Foe Scenarios - Silversun Pickups
  • ***Home - The Cinematics
  • Home - Foo Fighters
  • Life is Beautiful - Vega 4
  • Stall Out - Mute Math
  • The Reprise - Kiros
  • Half Life - Imogen Heap
  • Run In The Front - Dear & The Headlights
  • Lullaby - Assemblage 23
  • This Is Twice Now - Lydia
  • Sol Solis - Moving Mountains
  • Miracle - Oceanlab
  • Faith - Morten Sorlie (from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey)
And the other 200, in order of appearance in my life...
  • Wild Child - Enya
  • With Arms Wide Open - Creed
  • Higher - Creed
  • One Last Breath - Creed
  • Don't Stop Dancing - Creed
  • Lullaby - Creed
  • Don't Panic - Coldplay
  • Yellow - Coldplay
  • The Scientist - Coldplay
  • Jerusalem - Matisyahu
  • King Without A Crown - Matisyahu
  • Breathe Me - Sia
  • Today - Zero 7
  • Hamburg Song - Keane
  • Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
  • Your Eyes Open - Keane
  • Run - Snow Patrol
  • Title and Registration - Death Cab For Cutie
  • Passenger Seat - Death Cab For Cutie
  • Look At Her Face - The Coral Sea
  • One Of These Morning - Moby
  • Temptation - Moby
  • Love Should - Moby
  • Slipping Away - Moby
  • Nothing Better - The Postal Service
  • You Could Be Happy - Snow Patrol
  • Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
  • Set The Fire To The Third Bar - Snow Patrol
  • Feel Good Inc. - Gorillaz
  • El Mañana - Gorillaz
  • Incognito - Enigma
  • Boum-Boum - Enigma
  • Following The Sun - Enigma
  • Turn Around - Enigma
  • Beyond The Invisible - Enigma
  • Sitting On The Moon - Enigma
  • Sleeping Lessons - The Shins
  • Why!... - Enigma
  • Prism Of Life - Enigma
  • Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
  • Hey Ya! - OutKast
  • Fidelity - Regina Spektor
  • Push The Limits [ATB Remix] - Enigma
  • Aqueous Transmission - Incubus
  • The Anchor Song - Bjork
  • What Sound - Lamb
  • Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups
  • Less Talk More Rokk - Freezepop
  • Time Is Running Out - Muse
  • Hysteria - Muse
  • Knights of Cydonia - Muse
  • All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
  • Reptilia - The Strokes
  • Silence - Assemblage 23
  • Clockwork - Crosstide
  • Don't Defend - Blacktop Mourning
  • Hardly Recognize - Blacktop Mourning
  • Dusting Down The Stars - Mobile
  • The Ocean - The Bravery
  • I Went Blind - The Junior Varsity
  • The Sky - The Junior Varsity
  • Memory Made Easy - The Junior Varsity
  • That's What You Get - Paramore
  • Misery Business - Paramore
  • How My Heart Behaves - Feist
  • Over Again - Ghostland Observatory
  • Throwing Punches - The Myriad
  • Girls Who Play Guitars - Maximo Park
  • Something About Us - Daft Punk
  • Arms of an Angel - Sarah McLachlan
  • Seven Lives - Enigma
  • Is There A Ghost - Band of Horses
  • No One's Gonna Love You - Band of Horses
  • Lyric - Zwan
  • The Sound of Muzak - Porcupine Tree
  • You Don't See Me - Keane
  • Love Is The End - Keane
  • Trevor - The Schuers
  • The Unwinding Cable Car - Anberlin
  • Miserable At Best - Mayday Parade
  • Teardrop - Massive Attack
  • Walk With Me - Bedlight for Blue Eyes
  • Night Relay - The Heights
  • Kettle Song - The Heights
  • Almost Lover - A Fine Frenzy
  • Near To You - A Fine Frenzy
  • Into The West - Pilot Speed
  • So Low, So High - Maps
  • Get Comfortable - The Junior Varsity
  • You Are Mine - Mute Math
  • Wonder Why - Rides Again
  • Fly Away - Rides Again
  • Between The Headlights - Crosstide
  • Lazarus - Porcupine Tree
  • Speak Softly - Kiros
  • ...That I May Not Cause The Pain - Kiros
  • Nobody Understands - The Midway State
  • Darlin' - Between The Trees
  • The Luckiest - Ben Folds
  • Panic Switch - Silversun Pickups
  • Running - No Doubt
  • Gimme Sympathy - Metric
  • You Do - Until June
  • Stronger - Seabird
  • Sometimes - Seabird
  • Falling For You - Seabird
  • 'Til We See The Shore - Seabird
  • A Jagged Gorgeous Winter - The Main Drag
  • Sit Still - Brightwood
  • Shot In The Back Of The Head - Moby
  • Hello Seattle (Remix) - Owl City
  • My Beautiful Rescue - This Providence
  • Mr McGee - Zero 7
  • Medicine Man - Zero 7
  • Ghost sYMBOL - Zero 7
  • Time Flies - Porcupine Tree
  • Fiddle And The Drum - A Perfect Circle
  • In Memory - Brightwood
  • Surefire - Brightwood
  • Spain - Between The Trees
  • The One Thing - Between The Trees
  • Changed By You - Between The Trees
  • The World Ends Tonight - Until June
  • Nobody Knows You - Until June
  • The Only Exception - Paramore
  • Misguided Ghosts - Paramore
  • Nearly Home - Broken Records
  • Until The Earth Begins To Part - Broken Records
  • A Promise - Broken Records
  • Pins and Needles - Mute Math
  • Conversations With Stars - Brightwood
  • Swan Song - A Fine Frenzy
  • Handlebars - Flobots
  • The Adventure - Angels & Airwaves
  • Ready, Steady, Go - Oakenfield
  • Let the Drummer Kick - Citizen Cope
  • Wallflower - Elevation
  • Maybe Tomorrow - Elevation
  • Where I Want To Be - The Dangerous Summer
  • I Woke Up Near The Sea - Lydia (*language warning)
  • All I See - Lydia
  • Now The Once You Once Loved is Leaving - Lydia
  • My Never - Blue October
  • I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
  • One Tribe - Black Eyed Peas
  • 8105 - Moving Mountains
  • Ground Beneath My Feet - Sherwood
  • Worn - Sherwood
  • No Better - Sherwood
  • Wide Awake - Making April
  • Name - Fireflight
  • Shine - The Morning Of
  • Fearless - Falling Up
  • Change The World - This Beautiful Republic
  • Scapegoat - In Harbour
  • For Those Who Wait - Fireflight
  • Combat - Flobots
  • The Marsh - California Guitar Trio
  • Alley Cat - Sherwood
  • On Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz
  • Feel The Same Way - Poema
  • Infinite Arms - Band of Horses
  • Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds to Mars
  • Hannah - Freelance Whales
  • I Wouldn't Mind - He Is We
  • Happily Ever After - He Is We
  • On A Good Day - Oceanlab
  • One By One - Unkle Bob
  • Swans - Unkle Bob
  • I Know You Know - The Morning Of
  • Life - Beckah Shae
  • Tell 'Em - Sleigh Bells
  • Clap Your Hands - Sia
  • Bring Night - Sia
  • First Floor People - Barcelona
  • Please Don't Go - Barcelona
  • We Clean Up So Well - Lydia (*language warning)
  • Always Move Fast - Lydia (*language warning)
  • A Camera Lens & Careful Days - Lydia
  • Man In The Mirror - The Midway State
  • Change For You - The Midway State
  • Only You - Soletta
  • Rhythm, Chord, & Melody - The Reign of Kindo
  • Yuki - Vessels
  • No Way Out - This Century
  • Love Like Woe - The Ready Set
  • Wide Open - Brightwood
  • Two - Camerafone
  • Yellow Shirt - The Icarus Account
  • Favorite Girl - The Icarus Account
  • Eulalia (Remix) - In Aviate
  • Wonder - Color of Clouds
  • Believe In Me - Sing It Loud
  • Hidden Lakes - Shearwater
  • All Roads - The Foreign Exchange
  • Emphasis - Sleeping At Last
  • Snow - Sleeping At Last
  • Stop Smoking Because It's Not Good For You - I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business
  • Telling Me Goodbye - I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business
  • The Ash Is In Our Clothes - Sleeping At Last

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 2 Days Left (Moments)

We're getting down to the wire now... I keeping saying to myself "the day after tomorrow" That's how close it is: the day after tomorrow. Crazy! I'm saving all of the closing thoughts and wrap-up stuff until tomorrow, which also has the most killer list of them all, so I'll get straight to today's topic.

Moments: sometimes they're hard to remember in detail. I guess that's why this list is full of a lot of the more recent stuff that's happened in my life. Now, I'm using the term 'moment' pretty loosely here. Some of the things listed are actually entire days, but others actually are a single moment. I actually have 3 of them on video, 7 in pictures, and I was right next to one or more of the people included in my 'friends' post for 9 of them...that's awesome. Remember: these aren't necessarily my favorite moments, they're the ones that have played the biggest role in my life. In fact, the some of them, including the two I actually won't reveal, are extremely sad. Nevertheless, I am who I am largely because of these incredibly small portions of my life. They are the ones most longed for, most filled with passion, most pondered, and/or most clear in my mind. Here they are, the moments:
  • 8/01 - First day of the spectrum program at Valley View Elementary
  • 10/04 - Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
  • 10/04 - Visiting Salzburg, Austria
  • 3/08 - Scoring a point for answering "Iceland" in a national NAL game vs. a school from Colorado
  • 6/08 - Looking down from the top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland
  • 6/08 - Spend a night in a village in the Swiss Alps
  • 9/09 - (Secret)
  • 12/17/09 - John McKay Kunz's passing
  • 2/17/09 - 17th birthday
  • 2/20/10 - birthday party (Kyathlon)
  • 3/17/10 - (Secret)
  • 4/5/10 - listening to Chris Wolstenholme play the bass line of Hysteria live
  • 5/30/10 - hired to play in a quartet with friends for a wedding ceremony
  • 8/20/10 - Encore of the Lydia concert
  • 9/15/10 - Meeting AJ Perdomo and the rest of The Dangerous Summer
  • 1/23/11 - receiving my patriarchal blessing
  • 1/29/11 -last day of my final orchestra trip (in Disneyland)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 3 Days Left (Achievements)

As much as I've enjoyed thinking back to all of the big moments and best memories in my life, it has been quite frustrating realizing how much I've forgotten. There are huge gaps (5th grade, 8th grade) that I can't remember anything about. Is it because those years didn't do much to change me? Or have I forgotten about some of the things that ought to be here? That's a scary thought...and it's taught me some important things: pay attention to your life, take notes, care for what's going on around you and make of the most of what you're involved in. You don't want these years to be forgotten. I know I'll be doing some more of that sort of thing from here on out.

Today's list was the hardest to come up with by far. Sure, I've done some cool things if my life, but to put a name to them is hard. Which are really worth mentioning? Which ones am I'm most grateful for? That's what I pondered as I came up with these 17 accomplishments that form what I like to call "my life resume". Some required tons of effort, but others found their way to me. These are the awards that show that my efforts have paid off, the positions that make up my reputation, the reasons I push for greatness. In order of occurrence:
  • 1st Place Chess Club Trophy (4th grade)
  • 65 curl-ups in one minute and 21 pull ups at once (9th grade)
  • Co-captain of Millcreek JH NAL Team - 3rd place in the nation (9th grade)
  • Science Department Student of the Year (9th grade)
  • 2 x Completing the Book of Mormon in one month (10th and 11th grade)
  • 34 on the ACT (11th grade)
  • 1st chair violist in Davis Youth Symphony (12th grade)
  • 1st place in Literature for Reflections at BHS (12th grade)
  • Obtaining my patriarchal blessing (12th grade)
  • National Merit Scholarship Finalist (12th grade)
  • End of year AP and IB testing scores
  • Rank 1 of my class at BHS
  • ***1st chair violist all seven years in school
  • My XBOX 360 gamer score
  • my Rock Band/Guitar Hero skills
  • ***my music collection
  • this blog series

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 4 Days Left (Objects/Symbols)

Today was fast sunday for our stake. I got to sacrament and the first hymn we sang was hymn # 17. That inspired me to get up in front of the congregation and give a testimony based on the number 17 and the experience I've had here with all of this analysis. I got a few laughs out of it, but also tied it to the gospel in an effective way. Further proof that 17 is not just a silly number in my life...it really changes my life daily. Sometimes it makes me wonder: is it really all coincidence? I don't think so.

Today's topic is items/symbols. Some of these are things I like for their actual presence, physical or not, in my life, but others are more because of the symbolic concepts behind them, the things that would catch my attention in a poem or song. As I look down this list, I realize that this might just be the most important group of all. These things are absolutely necessary in the pursuit of my dreams, important in my daily life, and crucial in my way of thinking. For the first time, I'm not going to put a specific order to this list. Here they are:
  • Jacket
  • Pencil
  • ***Viola
  • Bass guitar
  • Hands
  • Lyrics Journal
  • Hourglass
  • CD
  • Drumsticks
  • Headphones/speakers
  • ***The number 17
  • Amethyst
  • Sun
  • XBOX 360 controller
  • Music note
  • Guitar pic
  • Cinnamon

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 5 Days Left (Original Characters)

The 5th to last day...it was crazy! Sweethearts' activities all day...how much more awesome stuff can I fit into these 17 days? So much amazing stuff has happened! I'll summarize it all for you guys in the final post in this series.

Today might not mean a single thing to you guys, unless you're one of my pretty close friends. A few days ago I talked about the fictional characters in my life. I feel like it would be good for the purpose of my future memory to also include a list of the fictional characters that I've created, whether in video games or for the novel ideas I've come up with. These names, though largely unknown to you guys, symbolize all that I am. I've passed my passions, interests, and character traits on to them. They are my creation, my pride, my "children", if you will. One of my greatest dreams is to one day make them known unto this world. I want them to join the ranks of Harry Potter, Frodo, and Luke Skywalker in the generations to come. These are the heroes of my imagination, in order of creation:
  • Sedna (from the Elementalists)
  • ***Yanusun (from The Elementalists)
  • Menzorith (from The Elementalists)
  • Shimmy Jones (my drummer in Rock Band)
  • Tulip (my guitarist in Rock Band)
  • Kargorashenutay (from The Elementalists)
  • Aveliandra (my main character in World of Warcraft)
  • ***Amy Marin/Amethyst (from The Dreamers)
  • Tristan Tasset (from The Dreamers)
  • Jason Less (from the Dreamers)
  • Louidor Montase/Heliodor (from The Dreamers)
  • Elouise Newmond/Citrine (from the Dreamers)
  • Blaise (from The Preservers)
  • Drake (from The Cyborgs)
  • Otto Elovine (from Sound of Defeat)
  • Lysette Vanille (from Sound of Defeat)
  • Lydia Vanille (from Sound of Defeat)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 6 Days Left (Places)

To be completely honest with you guys, I'm running out of ideas for categories. From here on out, they are gonna be a lot different than the topics I've talked about so far and perhaps more personal, but they'll be just as significant.

Today's list is of places, ranging from very specific positions to huge cities to an entire nation, including places I've been and a couple I haven't yet visited. Some don't even have names I that I remember so I'll offer some basic descriptions for those. These are the locations mostly firmly imprinted in my memories, that have affected how I look at the world, that allow me to remember the best of times.
  • The backyard of my old house in Woods Cross
  • Disneyland
  • Millcreek Junior High School
  • Taj Mahal (not yet visited)
  • Munich, Germany
  • Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany
  • ***Iceland (not yet visited)
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • On top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland
  • Small village in the Swiss Alps
  • Venice, Italy
  • Italian beach at sunset
  • My game room
  • My bedroom
  • ***Bountiful High School (especially the orchestra room)
  • Arlington Cemetery
  • On top of the Capitol Dome in Washington D.C.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 7 Days Left (Albums)

1 week guys...1 week! I'm thrilled and bummed at the same time - definitely a weird feeling. One thing's for sure: I'm throwing myself a killer party on the 16th, perhaps as big as the one I'll have on my birthday. Part of me can't wait! The other part wants a few extra weeks...but it all comes down to these next seven. Here we go!

Today's category is one of the last music-oriented ones: albums. Individuals songs are grabbing my attention left and right all of the time, but when an entire CD can capture you, that's something powerful right there. It's like the feeling you get from that one song, but times 12. It's spectacular when you can grow to love an artist for all of their work rather than just for that one special tune. These albums are the ones that I've fallen in love with, the ones that stand out on my shelf, the ones I can blast my lungs out to...the ones I desperately want others to be passionate about. In order of appearance in my life:
  • ***Love, Sensuality, and Devotion (Greatest Hits) - Enigma
  • Weathered - Creed
  • Hotel - Moby
  • Eyes Open - Snow Patrol
  • Parachutes - Coldplay
  • Carnavas - Silversun Pickups
  • Cinematographic - The Junior Varsity
  • Perfect Symmetry - Keane
  • 'Til We See The Shore - Seabird
  • Yeah Ghost - Zero 7
  • Spain - Between The Trees
  • Strangelove - Elevation
  • Illuminate - Lydia
  • ***Flesh & Fears - Wolftron
  • The Way I Fell In - The Morning Of
  • Sirens Of The Sea - Oceanlab
  • The World We Know - I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 8 Days Left (Video Games)

I passed the 1,000 pageviews mark with my last post! Thanks a ton to all of you who are keeping up. I've had this blog for about a year and a half and the past 300 pageviews all came in a few days...that means a lot to me. Thanks again.

For this post's little intro spiel, I think I'll tell you a little bit about me and the numbers 217 and 17 just to show you that the connection isn't imaginary. It all starts with my grandma and grandpa Kossin...
  • When my grandpa was first getting to know my grandma, her house address was 217.
  • My grandpa's locker number in the military was 217.
  • When my grandparents got married, their first apartment was number 217.
  • Their first grandchild (me) was born on 2/17.

That's pretty insane right there...now it's my turn:

  • I moved into my current house on the 17th of September, 2005
  • I moved my bedroom into the basement on the 17th of October, 2009
  • I taught my first viola lesson on the 17th of November, 2009
  • My good friend John McKay Kunz passed away on the 17th of December, 2009
  • The numbers of my Student ID add up to 17
  • The numbers of my student PIN Number add up to 17
  • The numbers of my BHS parking permit add up to 17
  • The time right this second is 8:54...no joke. Those add up to 17
  • My grade in 2nd period right now is 92.17%
  • First chair violist? Count 'em up...there's 17 letters.
  • I live in North Salt Lake, Utah...17 letters again.
  • My license plate? It just so happens to contain 17 backwards.

Alright, so you can see that I'm obsessed, but now you know it's for a reason. My close friends can back me up on this one.

Video games today? Oh man...we're getting serious. I play video games more than I should, but I think my success in school and with the viola make a good excuse for how much time I offer to gaming. Video games top movies and novels any day in my book. You get to be the hero. You get to construct the details concerning how the story develops, or, in the best of games, construct your own story. That's pretty nifty. These games here are the ones that had me addicted, the ones that charmed with their artistry, clever plots, and entertainment value, the ones I wish more people would dare to care about.
  • Diablo 2
  • Warlords Battlecry 2
  • Dungeon Siege
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
  • Unreal Tournament 2004
  • ***World of Warcraft
  • Half-Life 2 series
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series
  • Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  • Prince of Persia (2008)
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Dead Space
  • ***Rock Band 3
  • Mass Effect series
  • Alan Wake

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 9 Days Left (Movies)

I'm in the single digits now...bummer. I'm staying strong! haha. I've been getting tons of pageviews lately. I'd like to thank those of you who have been keeping up with this...it means a lot. Once again...check the intro post from January 31st if you're clueless.

As I think more about some of my previous posts, I've changed my mind and altered a couple of things. Some of those lists have changed if you're interested in looking back...

Hey, one more thing: For the sake of saving time and perhaps to make the lists more appealing, I haven't offered descriptions for a single specific item. With only titles and pictures to go by, you've probably wondered about a few of the things I've mentioned in this post series. Feel free to ask me about them. I'm more than happy to let you know how any of them claimed a spot here.

I'm not much of a moviewatcher. Quite frankly...I haven't had much time for a while and the time I do have goes to music, writing, and video games. Still, there are some movies out there that have made powerful impressions on me over the years. These 17 are the ones that got me excited about constructing stories, the ones that stand out artistically and emotionally, the ones that honestly touched me, the ones that had me hooked. Pick one of these up the next time you have a spare hour or two.
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
  • The Lord of the Rings series
  • The Matrix series
  • League of Extraordinary Gentleman
  • X-men series
  • ***Cloverfield
  • War of the Worlds
  • Knowing
  • Serenity
  • Wall-E
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • 9
  • Avatar
  • Inception
  • Prince of Persia
  • ***The Fountain

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Last 17 Days: 10 Days Left (Characters)

The number '2', being my birth month, frequently accompanies 17 both by my own choice and through luck. I decided I wanted to make an even further distinction with these items by selecting the top 2 from each category so we can see what stuff goes beyond standing out in my life. I've gone back to all of my older posts and starred the top 2 most influential (not necessarily my most favorite) in each subject and will do so from now on. Check those if you're interested in seeing my all-time tops.

Today I'm revealing the most prevalent fictional characters in my life. If I were to have included characters I've created, they would have taken all 17 slots, but since it would mean little to list them here and because I'd rather not reveal most of them at this time, I'm restricting this list to characters I haven't created, but rather adore: one from a book, one from a movie, one from a book and its movie, two from video games and their movies, and the rest (how many are left? haha) from video games. These are the characters that inspired me to create my own, the ones that really got me engaged in their stories, the ones I have always and will always root for.

  • Lara Croft (from the Tomb Raider series)

  • Pidgeotto (Pokemon #17)

  • Ronan (from Stargate: Atlantis)

  • Birdo (from the Mario series)

  • Legolas (from the Lord of the Rings series)

  • Drizzt Do-Urden (from the Dark Elf Trilogy, The Icewind Dale Trilogy, and more)

  • Gordan Freeman (from the Half-Life series)

  • Alyx Vance (from the Half-Life series)

  • DOG (from the Half-Life Series)

  • ***Zoe Castillo (from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey)

  • Altair (from Assassin's Creed)

  • Elika (from Prince of Persia 2008)

  • The Prince (from Prince of Persia 2008)

  • Wall-E

  • Tali Zorah (from the Mass Effect series)

  • Issac Clarke (from the Dead Space series)

  • ***Alan Wake (from self-titled video game)