Category: Music

Fun Recent Activities in Utah

It’s no secret that I spend a lot of my life cooped up in doors. Sometimes people will say the weather has been bad but I don’t really know because I’ve been inside all day! So lately for my sanity I’ve been trying to get out and go to more activities- particularly plays and concerts and I thought I would give you a round up of what I’ve seen. Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought.

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First cool experience is I got to go to the Utah Symphony to hear a concert called An American in Paris which was half Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and half Schubert’s Symphony No 7 in C Major. I preferred the Gershwin but as Utah has one of the best symphonies in the country it was a great experience.

Next, if you’ve been following my blog you probably know my favorite book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Well, after 13 years he has a new book called Bridge of Clay which I am dying to read. He came to Salt Lake for a lecture and book signing and it was really neat. He autographed my book and I was able to tell him how much his writing meant to me. So cool!

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Then I tried out a new theater in Provo called The Hive.  They were putting on a new original play called The Bookbinders Tale, which I had heard great things about. Unfortunately I found it to be a bit hipstery for me. I think it felt it was being more groundbreaking in its themes and messages than it really was. Still, I like what they are trying to do with the theater and would definitely give them another chance.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows how much I adore Josh Groban. One of the coolest experiences of my life was in 2007 when my friend Camille got bumped from the nosebleeds to down right by the stage! I also love Idina Menzel and have seen her in concert. So I was thrilled to see they were touring together and snatched up a seat (a terrible seat but I was sitting by nice people so it was fun). They did an amazing job and sung all the songs I wanted them to. My only qualm was that the big screen was broken so we could barely see them (the photo of them is from the Deseret News). But other than that a fantastic concert!

I also had the chance to make a new friend named Ashley who is a member of a theater group I follow on facebook. Always good to go out of your comfort zone and meet someone new. 🙂

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As I was driving around in my hometown of Draper I noticed a sign for ‘A Night of Broadway’ by the Draper Philharmonic and Choral Society and decided to give it a try. To my delight it was such a great experience! Everything was so well done with so many different shows covered by talented singers and dancers. There were a few minor hiccups with microphones but other than that it was amazing and I hope to go to many more of their concerts

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I was very excited to see Hale Center Theaters latest version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I had seen it there once before years ago (at the old Hale of course) and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately this time I left with mixed feelings. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing it with my family I thought some of the casting was a little off (not great chemistry) and the show isn’t very memorable. I couldn’t tell you a single song. Also it doesn’t use the Sink Me and iconic poem very well. The production of the play was very good and great costumes.

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Next I was able to see 3 shows at Hale Center Theater Orem. 2 of them were at a double header of sorts. First I saw The Velveteen Rabbit, which is a play for children written by my former teacher Dave Smith. It was a very sweet little play for kids. Next I saw Anything Goes which is a bright and bubbly play full of Cole Porter songs. Naturally I loved it!

But the greatest surprise was seeing Daddy Long Legs which is a 2 person show based on the classic book (which I’m not high on and I like the movie even less). I went into it with low expectations but I wanted to support Dave and I ended up being delighted. The songs are great! It’s very romantic and I was amazed how they could learn so many lines! Very impressive!

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Finally I went to another ‘Night of Broadway’ this time at the Scera theater in Orem. It was full of talent and they mixed in the standards with some more obscure picks. It was great. My only complaint is the seats in that theater are so small I could barely sit through it and you can’t move the seat arm rest up making it quite uncomfortable. Oh well

So there you have it! It’s been a pretty fun Fall for checking out the arts. There are so many great things to see and do that it can be quite overwhelming. I’m grateful to live in such a artistic and talented place.

What have you been doing lately? Been to any plays or concerts? Any recommendations? Let me know! Thanks!

Winners 3/26/2017

Each week I try to celebrate things I believe are winners. This is an effort to be positive and focus on the many good things out there to enjoy!

This week’s winners are:

  1. Utah Bands- For this week’s Friday 5 over on my youtube channel the topic was bands from you hometown so I picked 5 bands/groups from Utah! This proved to be really fun
  2. Murder on the Orient Express- I finished reading the classic mystery novel by Agatha Christie this week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. She does such a good job building characters and giving clues. I really like Poirot almost as much as Sherlock Holmes. Reading the book made me excited for the upcoming movie directed by Kenneth Branaugh.
  3. Power Rangers and Smurfs: Lost Village come through- I am always a fan of underdogs and this week I got 2 surprisingly decent films. I enjoyed both The Power Rangers Movie and Smurfs: the Lost Village. Neither is perfect but I was entertained by both.  Check out my blog and youtube channel for reviews of both. What are your winners? What books, music, movies or anything else have you been enjoying?

Friday 5: Songs that Remind Me of Books

This week I have a special episode of the music series I participate in called the Friday 5. The topic was supposed to be song parodies but I’m not really a fan so my friend and I came up with our own topic to talk about. Instead we picked 5 songs that remind us of books. I tried to stay away from soundtracks of movies based on the books because that would be too easy.  It was songs that I feel capture the essence of the book. It was a challenge but also a lot of fun.

The songs and books I chose are:

Ashokan’s Farewell to match with Little Women- I particularly think in the Beth scene this song would be perfect. It’s a song I would like played at my funeral and even though it is just classical music it makes me cry every time. Little Women is the first substatial novel I ever remember reading so it will always have a special place in my heart.

I’ll Follow You Into the Dark to match with The Book Thief- this beautiful song by Death Cab for Cutie captures the surreal feeling of the book and weird combination of despair and hope. The Book Thief is my favorite modern novel and I love the song also.

Kiss Me to go with the Undomestic Goddess- Sophie Kinsella books started out as a guilty pleasure and then I gave up the guilt and realized I just genuinely love them. This song by Six Pence None the Richer is kind of the same way. It’s a one hit wonder of sorts but I genuinely love it. Plus, it captures the light romance of the book and Kinsella’s writing. The Undomestic Goddess has its silliness but I really like what Kinsella has to say about work and balancing the modern with homemaking.

Swing Lo Sweet Chariot to go with To Kill a Mockingbird- Sung by Suzy Bogguss there is something about this song which fits To Kill a Mockingbird. It is a folk song that feels real with a mournful quality to it. I can picture it being sung as Atticus leaves the courtroom and all in the balcony stand in his honor.

Seven Years to go with North and South- Technically this song is about a little girl so perhaps it is an odd choice but there is something about the lyrics that reminds me of Margaret and John in this novel. The way their worlds open up to each other and they go from hating each other to understanding.

So there you have it!  Those are my 5 songs that remind me of books.  What about you? What songs remind you of your favorite books? Put in the comment section below.  Thanks!

Friday 5: Protest Songs

This week for Friday 5 the topic is best protest songs. This was a challenging topic but I think I came up with 5 eclectic choices that cover different kinds of protests. This was obviously a topic to recognize this horrible election which is almost over. Thank goodness!

Here are the 5 songs I selected:

Paths to Victory- Cat Power singing Bob Dylan song from union film North Country but originally written for civil rights movement

Have You Forgotten- Darryl Worley singing about the war in Afghanistan

Glory- John Legend and Common from the film Selma about the Selma protests and Black Lives Matter

Hawaii 78- IZ song about the forced Hawaii statehood

Fortunate Son- Creedence Clearwater Revival about the Vietnam War.

What do you think of my selections and what are some of your favorite protests songs?

Friday 5: Spooky Instrumentals

This week for Friday 5 we could do anything Halloween based. I decided to focus on spooky instrumentals. I think you will enjoy these for your Halloween party.

Are you guys doing anything fun for Halloween weekend? I plan on just spending time with family and friends. I have a very special Halloween costume which you will get to see on Monday on my channel.

Friday 5: Songs from the 80s

This week for the Friday 5 we were asked to pick a decade and give 5 of our favorite songs from that decade. I thought about doing a more obscure decade because I had previously done the 50’s which was  ton of fun but nothing was really speaking to me so 80s it is. I have actually done the 80s once before but as it is a favorite decade of mine I certainly have 10+ songs that I love from that decade.

So here are the 5 I came up with. I think you will agree with me these are 5 iconic songs from the 80s:

Here’s a review of the 5 songs I picked:

  1. Everybody Wants to Rule the World- Tears for Fears: This song has such a great hook and draws you into the song. It’s very catchy. I feel like this song isn’t talked about in the great 80’s songs and I’m not sure why.
  2. I Want You to Want Me- Cheap Trick: I guess this song was technically released in 1978. Oops! Still it feels like an 80s song. It’s the kind of song that is great when driving with friends.
  3. Rio- Duran Duran: I got introduced to Duran Duran fairly recently and I love their songs! They have the feel of the era but creative lyrics and some unusual songs. This is one of their more mainstream songs but it is catchy and fun to listen to
  4. Just What I Needed: The Cars: Nothing seems more like the 80s than The Cars. They are so great at writing catchy hooks that you can’t help but hum along to.
  5. Once in a Lifetime- Talking Heads: A bit of an experimental group but they have some mainstream songs as well. It was hard to get a good 25 second clip from one of their songs because they tend to ramble.

Friday 5: 5 Deep Cut Songs

This week for the musical series I do on my youtube channel I had a lot of fun. It may be my favorite week yet. The theme was ‘what are 5 favorite deep cut or hidden gem songs by your favorite artists?’.  I think I enjoyed this week so much because it helped reintroduce me to songs I had forgotten about. The idea is whenever an album is a bit hit there are always those songs that don’t get a single release and aren’t well known but are still great songs. Here are the 5 songs that I picked and why:

  1. Billy Joel- Seen the Lights Out on Broadway.  This song is from his Turnstiles album which is probably best known for New York State of Mind but I love this unique power ballad.  Billy Joel wrote the song about New York City as it was falling apart at that time and close to default and disaster.
  2. Richard Marx- Turn Off the Night- This song is from his Beautiful Goodbye album which isn’t that popular but the reason I picked it is because he sang it at a concert I attended just after he wrote it.  He described the emotions he had just gone through and asked us if we would like to hear the song and we cheered. It felt like a real authentic moment. After on twitter I told him how meaningful it was and he said he was blown away by it. To me that is a true deep cut. Sure his other songs may be more famous but this is one I got to see why it meant so much.
  3. Beatles- Wait. This song is from the Rubber Soul album which is so great a song as good as Wait gets forgotten.  I’m Looking Through You or Nowhere Man are probably the most popular off of the album but listen to the entire thing. It’s fantastic.
  4. Beach Boys- I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times. Just like Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds, is one of the greatest albums ever released. The harmonies are perfect and every song is carefully written and beautiful. Some of the biggest hits are Wouldn’t it Be Nice or God Only Knows, but I also love I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times because I think we all feel that from time to time.
  5. Paul Simon- Silent Eyes. This song is from Still Crazy After All These Years. Quiet songs are always more likely to be forgotten than the more poppy songs, but Silent Eyes is a beautiful song. It’s a song about faith, hope and grief.

What are some deep cuts of popular artists that you like? What do you think of my 5 picks? I would love to hear.

I’m getting really close to 1,000 subscribers on my channel and would love to cross that threshold so I’d love if you subscribe. Thanks tons!

Friday 5: Songs from 1981

Hey guys! I hope you are doing well. It is time for another Friday 5!  This week we are talking about Songs from the Year we Are Born, which for me is 1981. It was a year that didn’t have ton of songs I liked when I started to review it. I think it’s probably because it was a transitional year between Disco and 1980s rock. It was the start of MTV that year so that probably made a difference as well.

It’s weird because one of my songs, 9 to 5, actually had two different songs with that title released during 1980-1981ish (it was a little fuzzy. I read different dates on different places). You of course had the Dolly Parton classic which I love but then another song by Sheena Easton, which isn’t too bad either. Isn’t that strange to have 2 songs with the exact same random name released the same year?

Overall, it’s not the strongest year but the 5 songs I picked are fun. They are cheesy songs but it’s just part of that time period.

My youtube friend the Lawn Gnome was also born in 1981 so check out his list as well. He has the other 9 to 5 on his list.

If you haven’t subscribed to my youtube channel please do and subscribe to the Lawn Gnome as well.  We both produce a lot of fun content you will really enjoy. (50 more followers and I will be at the magic 1000 subscribers!)

What are your favorite songs from the year you were born? Put in the comments section.

Friday 5: My Dad’s Favorite Songs

This week for Friday 5 we had a special topic. It was all about Dads and Father’s Day.  I tried to find songs about fathers like I had done for Mother’s Day but most of the songs were really depressing (like Papa was a Rolling Stone).  This certainly didn’t capture my Dad at all. So I decided to do something different and I asked my Dad what his 5 favorite songs were and he gave me 6 great choices.

I think the songs show  a lot about his personality and how much of a people person he is.  They are also diverse and songs filled with empathy.  I was a little surprised he went with a Fleetwood Mac song as I had no idea he was a fan of them.  That’s what’s cool about the Friday 5 is I’m constantly learning new things about music.  It’s neat because I think I know just about everything about my Dad or other relatives and then it turns out there is always more to learn.

So these are my Dad’s 6 favorite songs and they are all fantastic.  I particularly love Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Credence Clear water Revival. With the horrible events that happened in Orlando I found myself listening to that song and finding some comfort in it.

Anyway, let me know what you think of these 6 songs and to all you Dads out there have a great weekend!

What I’m Listening, Reading, Viewing and Doing

Sorry it has been a few days since my last post. I have been a little overwhelmed getting ready for my upcoming trip to Spain. I am trying to make sure my youtube channel isn’t dormant during that time so I am trying to get my Family Movie Night, Friday 5’s and Disney Canon Project videos all pre-filmed and scheduled before the trip. Of course, this requires watching all the films, taking notes, filming and editing the videos. No small task. Last weekend I finished all of the Friday 5s for when I’m gone.

Listening

I also did last week’s Friday 5 which was songs not in your native language and I went with Hawaiian music!

Viewing

So last weekend I filmed the Friday 5 for a lot of fun upcoming topics. And I also filmed reviews for Finding Nemo, The Goofy Movie, Independence Day, Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and 3 unboxing reviews. You can see the Finding Nemo review here.  I should be able to see Finding Dory tomorrow and post the review so keep an eye out for that.

On Monday I got to see an early screening for a new comedy called Central Intelligence and that was really funny. I genuinely laughed a lot.

And then today I did a podcast with my friend Tom on the 3rd Star Trek Movie- Star Trek 3: The Search for Spok

Not only have I had video reviews but also written reviews for my blog http://54disneyreviews.com and my column for LDSBlogs.com .Make sure you check all of that content out.  In addition I have done some posts for Rotoscopers.com including a review of Make Mine Music and a piece that got a lot of discussion going on The Lego Movie and The Other Pixar Films. I’m tired just reading all of that! Nobody can accuse me of not creating enough content!

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But it’s not all viewing I also have done some reading.  Recently I read Lady Susan and Love and Friendship the more obscure Jane Austen novels and loved them. It’s so funny with Love and Friendship Austen feels like a teenager of today complaining about her parents (she wrote it when she was between 11-15). Lady Susan has Austen’s most devious and selfish heroine but she is hilarious. I loved the book and the movie. Check out my review of the movie here. 

I have also finished reading I Am Malala for book club and found it very moving. Here’s my goodreads review:

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the TalibanI Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not going to win any awards for great writing but sometimes life is just captivating on it’s own. I really loved learning about Malala’s family most of all. Her Dad seems like the coolest guy and her Mom as well. The fact they all spoke out at great risk and then had to deal with their daughter getting shot in the face is pretty remarkable. I felt like I got to know her well and that it wasn’t just a fluff type biography. It worked for me.

View all my reviews

I also read Burning Glass a fairly mediocre YA novel but it had some campy fun and good kissing scenes:

Burning Glass (Burning Glass, #1)Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I started out hating it as another YA love triangle, strong mystical woman book but after a while it won me over. It’s extremely silly but I felt it embraced the campy world. The kissing scenes were fun and it was all very over the top with auras melding together and an extremely silly bad guy. Definitely too long and drawn out for how silly it is but I had some fun with it. I don’t think I enjoyed it in the way the author was intending however. It’s pretty dumb. So if you are expecting a great fantasy read than you will probably be disappointed. If you want an over the top campy romance with fantasy elements than you might have fun with it.
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I got my first taste of open water for the year last week with my friend Etsuko. That was so much fun! I can’t wait to be in Spain and swimming my heart out.

etsuko and rachel

I got 3 new swimsuits for my trip and I think they are pretty cute!

3 swimsuitsAnd I got my new passport so I am ready to go!

passportFinally I went and saw the Broadway touring company of Newsies and it was everything I wanted and more. I have a lot of nostalgia for the film and the Broadway musical has made it even better. It was so much fun! I also got to do it with the Utah Theater Lovers who I’ve wanted to meet up with for some time. I hope I will continue to be able to see more things with them.

newsies2Finally we had our first meeting Sunday of the new Midsingles Ward and it was amazing! I felt such a good spirit there and I know it is where I need to be. I can’t wait until some activities start and things really start going.

So all in all things are going pretty good in my life. I’m certainly staying busy. I hope things are going well for you.