Monday, December 31, 2007

Favorite Albums And Songs of 2007

This list is in order of whatever album comes to mind first, not, a reflection of importance or favorites.

1. UB40 Labour Of Love
I rediscovered this in February. It brought some (warning cliche' ahead.) brought some sunshine into some of those dreary days. I like the way it opens up with "Cherry Oh Baby;" I have to be standing next to the speakers when it starts or I have to start it again.

2. XTC-Skylarking
The big hit off this album was "Dear God;" It still sort of amazes me that in 1986 "Dear God" was voted the best on the Salt Lake area radio station where they played bands like XTC. Not surprisingly, the song received the same honor at the dance club I used to frequent. My favorite song on the album is, the more poppy, "Earn Enough For Us."

3.Johnny Cash-
For Christmas last year my in-laws gave to us a gigantic collection of Johnny Cash songs. What can I say......We also got our hands on his last album "American IV: The Man Comes Around" I love it! It is not the Depeche Mode cover or the Nine Inch Nails cover, It's the whole thing. My favorite song really, is "We'll Meet Again."

4. Depeche Mode-Just Can't Get Enough
When I was 17, and hanging out at underage dance clubs, where they played this type of music, when the "just can't get enough" refrain would come around, we would change the enough to "get it up." Anyway, I think I have already written too much about this song, but, I have more. I discovered the song hanging out in the far reaches of my itunes library, I am not sure how it got there, I love it, it is a perfect pop song. The message is simple and the music is straight forward.

5. The Cure-Disintegration
As you, dear reader, have guessed none of these songs or albums come from 2007; I bought this one the same day I bought Labour of Love. They were birthday presents for me. In 1990 I owned a discarded copy of this that my sister did not want. "It's too dark." My reply: it's not as dark as some of Robert Smith's other albums. This album is sort of like some of the rainy days here; dark, cloudy, raining, but green and lush. I misplaced or sold this album along the way, and, found that I needed to have it after moving to Eugene.

6. Joanna Newsome- The Sprout And The Bean
I read a review in our local weekly of her performance at the wow hall; and found that she studied music at a womens college that is in my former Oakland CA, neighborhood. I had heard many tales of drunken musical experimentation from some students at this college, so after reading the review I had to hear her. Some reviewer had compared her singing voice to Lisa Simpson, of "The Simpsons," accompanied by a harp. I agree. She is a clever lyricist and, well, her voice has grown on me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Should I be worried?

I came into our computer area to find my wife browsing itunes for the song "Institutionalized:" the Suicidal Tendencies song from 1984, featured In the Repo Man soundtrack. She found the lounge version, which came out in the swingin' nineties, and the ST version.

We listened to both versions, frankly, I like both. I heard the Original in about 85, 86. And, well, at the age of 15-16 I thought it was...(I'm not holding back) amazing. Then ten years later, after grunge and "alternative" became completely bland; the lounge version sounded refreshing.

I can't put my finger on why I still like the song, it isn't nostalgia.

The song ends, the wife looks at me and asks "should I buy the whole album?"

me: "Why?"

her: "I like the song, why not the album?"

me: "why do you find 'Institutionalized' so appealing?"

her: "It is soothing."

She bought the album. I asked her to put in on her ipod, so I could listen to it at work. I listened to it that same night and...I found it kind of disturbing and gory. I was glad I had Kate Wolf to listen to afterwards to bring me down.

She finds it soothing, who am I to argue; I like Joy Division when I want to wind down.

I have to admit, I am slightly disturbed, that a 37 year old mom and High School teacher is suddenly interested in early eighties hardcore. Now that I have written that I don't find it so odd. Maybe, I find it odd because I was listening to that stuff back when I was sixteen and...messy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Charlie Climbing Window

So, I would like it to be known that I am not posting this picture because I think that my son is incredibly good looking, talented, and amazing. Seriously, I am not one to endlessly gush about how great my kids are, and post tons of pictures of them. Other bloggers can do that.

But..when it is must be done.
He got up there himself; someday I am going walk into his room he will say "Hi, dad" I will look around for a minute then find him hanging out in the corner of the room...on the ceiling!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To Restrain Or Not...

As I was digging through a box of Christmas lights, that I had brought down from the attic, I found this Elmo toddler leash. I can make a pretty good guess as to how it landed in there. Hide it so no one knows, not even me, that we own one.

I did not pay much mind to it, I thought our days of using one were over. We bought it for our trip through the Alaska's inside passage on three different Alaska Ferries. Note, in the picture you can see the one-and-a-half year old wearing the harness, the leash is taut; also note the railing of the ferry. What I imagine the builders of the ferry thinking when they put this railing in. "Well....if parents bring their toddlers on board they had better pay attention to what they are doing...cause we aren't putting railings in that would keep a toddler from mindlessly climbing through and falling into the icy waters below."
I argued against the harness until I saw that it was necessary.

Upon seeing the newly uncovered harness, DW (dear wife), began speculation on how we could use it on Charlie.
Ugh not again; we are not going on any ferry trips soon, I thought.
"We have no use for it." I said.
"Think about the holiday market." she countered. "All those people, lots of breakable merchandise; he could get lost."
I thought about it.

My first thought "If other people are as judgmental as I am.... I could not take all those disapproving looks"

Of course other peoples opinions don't matter as much as the safety of your child. However, more importantly, the "safety" of my child does not matter as much as my parenting philosophy, which, prohibits the use of these restraints.......any reasonable person can see that.......right?

I bolstered my argument, when I pointed at that Chaz would render the thing useless, by sitting down and crying because he can't move around and would have to be picked up anyway. So, why bother?

DW put it on him anyway, and Chaz thought it was pretty funny, until he tried to run into the kitchen, DW was keeping him from doing so. I unclasped the leash and Chaz ran away laughing.

"Be free child be free."

Opinion in favor of Child Harness and leashes.

Here is another pic of me, my daughter and my mom on a ferry in Alaska's inside passage.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Charlie Speaks

One of the things that is great about watching a child grow up is their language acquisition. Chaz, these days, has an ever expanding vocabulary; he shows preference: I like this, I don't like this.

On our recent trip to my homeland (the glorious, if not slightly maligned, Salt Lake Valley) Chaz showed his preference for things in several ways. When we arrived at the airport in Portland he took one look at the place and said "I don't like this house." I did not try to explain the difference between a house and an airport, I know he would not care, obviously he knows a house is a building, and an airport is a building he does not like.

After being in the air for an hour....or so, and we landed in Boise (I'M GOIN' TO BOISE........) Chaz announced that he was done. "I'm done" he said, he said it several times just so everyone would know. We stayed on the plane because it was SLC that we were headed for but not Boise.

The next morning, at my sisters house, he woke up and looked out the glass door at my sisters snow covered back yard and said "uh oh." The kid has seen snow ,but it was such a long time ago, I am sure that it is too distant a memory for him to know that it is cold and wet. It is hard for me to guess what he thought, obviously, he thought that the snow is wrong.

On our trip back to Portland Chaz showed his distaste for airplanes by saying " I don't like this Helicopter" Helicopter sounded more like helliopter, it took me a minute to decipher what he said. Why he identified it as helicopter instead of an airplane I will never guess, it's not as if we see many more of them than we do of airplanes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Grandfather passed away last Thursday (November 29th). My wife had stayed home to help with a sick child when I heard the news. We went from quiet morning to trying to pull off a last minute trip to Salt Lake City.

I am not a really stoic person. I am not uncomfortable about crying but, if there is stuff to be done, I will do it, even if I have tears in my eyes. I will mow the lawn and sob instead of sit on the couch and sob. So, there I was on Thursday making plans to travel, taking care of kids, wife, house, cats, chickens and trying to manage a flood of emotions, and memories of my Grandfather.

One of the thoughts I had, that I became fixated on, was something that I am sure other exmormons might be able to relate to; how to go to an L.D.S. funeral and pay tribute to a beloved relative without getting all hung up on how you disagree with all the dogma.

It was a real concern, I pictured myself sitting there in the chapel listening to one of my relatives talk about the afterlife while I cringe. Over the next couple of days I convinced myself that I could sit there in that pew without cringing.

This was my Grandfather after all. If he were in my position how would he have dealt with it? He would put aside his prejudices and just do it, and he would do it while being kind to everyone around him. I always felt valued by him, regardless of how freaky I looked when I was a teenager. Sure, he made comments about my ripped black jeans and my spiky hair, but he betrayed his true feelings by the hug he always gave me and the way he would smile when I would show up at family gatherings; gatherings I often did not want to be at because of the awkwardness.

Naturally, this awkwardness increased for me when I left the Mormon church. I know that it was disappointing for him to not see his first Grandson go a mission, even then, he did not let on how disappointing it was. If I could give him that satisfaction in return for the respect and love he that he has shown me and my wife and kids over the years I would put aside my disbelief and go just for him.

What I did for him, instead, was bring my family to Salt Lake for his memorial. And at the funeral, when prayers were offered I bowed my head and listened, when hymns were sung, I sang; when my mom and two uncles talked about seeing him in the heaven, I did not engage in an imaginary debate, with them about whether heaven is a pretend place or a real place.

Not only did this exercise make it easier to be at the funeral but it made it easier for me to talk to my relatives no matter how brief the exchange was.

It feels like a small token; somehow too me just being civil with my aunt, uncle's and cousins does not seem like enough. We all have lives of course, for more than one of us, those lives are vastly different and only intersect when someone passes away. Frankly, I do wish it were not like that, I would not mind having relationships with them that are as easy as they were when we were all kids playing in the woods on a camping trip.

And wouldn't it be a fitting memorial to a grandfather who cared about his grand kids to have them all talking to each other?

Goodbye Grandpa, I miss you.

Alfred Carl Nielsen

Alfred Carl Nielsen 1917 ~ 2007 Alfred Carl Nielsen passed away on November 29, 2007 in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 90.He was born on November 9, 1917 in Castle Dale, Utah to Alfred C. Nielsen and Mabel Ruth Steele. He married Lucy M. Springer on March 13, 1945 and was later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on November 15, 1945. He served in the Pacific in the Navy during World War II. He then joined the Army Air Corps later the Air Force and served in the Korean War. He retired from the Air Force on June 1, 1965. Alfred was active in the LDS church. He served a mission in California and later with his wife in England. He served in numerous callings including branch presidencies and bishoprics, Temple Square Host, the Church History Museum, and as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple. He was always willing to help those in need. Alfred is survived by his wife of 62 years, Lucy M. Springer, children: A. Carl (Elizabeth), Marion Wilson, Larry (Marsha), Sheryl (Marc) Atkinson, Bryon (Julie), Robert (Lisa); sister, Ella Hoskins, 27 grandchildren and 35 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Grant and Ross. Services will be held on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 at 12 noon at the Brickyard Ward, 1111 E. Charlton (2800 So.), Salt Lake City, Utah. The family will receive friends on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007 from 6-8 p.m. at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary, 3401 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah and before the services from 10:30-11:45 a.m. Interment will be held at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.