Friday, December 31, 2010

A Quick Summation of Twenty-Ten

Half-way through writing this entire blog and checking items off my lists of things to do in my lifetime, I started to realize how much new stuff happened this year compared to the rest of my teenage-hood. I don't know if it's because I'm in college now or what, but the experiences I've had in the past 12 months are looking like a great start to the rest of my life. A while ago I was feeling so proud of myself that I decided to start a list of all the new things I tried this year, and what better time to post it than on the last day of the year?

New Experiences for Shannon in 2010

Twilight Concert Series in SLC
Failed Legit Job Interview
Indian Food
Regular Babysitting Gig
Meeting People From the Internet
Legit Double Date
Owning an iPhone
Major Declaration
Road Trip Sans-Parents
Barista Job
Painted a Plate (Color Me Mine)
Studying the Bible
Roller Derby
Riding the Catapult
Trip to the Junkyard
Fishing With Friends
Dancing in Foam
High School Hockey Game
Oxygen Bar
Cartilage Piercing
Starting a BLOG!!

On top of all those things, the very core of my being has changed in monumental ways: I now hardly ever eat breakfast, and I drink coffee frequently. With lots of french vanilla creamer, yes, but it's a big improvement. I can stand the taste of oatmeal, and I have a new fascination with mushrooms and supreme pizza.

I enjoy studying the Bible and falling in love with Jesus, and I think I know what I want to do as a career. I like hard rock more than ever, and I quickly became enamored with big, fancy rings. This summer I was the tannest I've ever been - something I miss a lot right now, with the reappearance of my chalky paleness. Skinny jeans are becoming a fave, especially paired with high top converse. One Tree Hill is an addiction I acquired this year - I'm almost to season five! I've made tons of new friends and have started to find a world to belong in during my college years. All that and more has contributed to the Shannon that's typing these words right now. I feel like a puzzle with the pieces slowly coming together. Hopefully 2011 and all the years after that are as happy as this one was, full of even more new experiences and relationships to build. Bring it on world: I'm ready!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Last Few Weeks (in Lazy List Form)

Things I Love Right Now
    Despicable Me (Single-Disc Edition)
  • The DRUMS on Guitar/Band Hero
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Busy-ness at work, meaning large handfuls of cash to count!
  • Cheesy holiday teen romance novels
  • 7 new CD's I got for Christmas, plus a mix
  • Despicable Me
  • Seeing old friends over the holidays
  • The idea of whitening my teeth, which will happen soon
  • The large amount that is going to appear on my next paycheck
  • The Sing Off on NBC, and acapella groups in general
  • Finally getting to tell people I picked a major

Things I Hate Right Now
  • All the good holiday food that I can't stay away from
  • My car in this weather
  • This weather
  • The Internet not working for 24 hours at a time, on and off for a week
  • My coat somehow spewing out feathers all over my back, ALL THE TIME
  • Writer's block
  • Stupid dreams! Argh! And the person who occupies them! You need to not exist anymore! 
  • Indecision about my next job status

Over this last month of vacation I've felt really grateful to have so many leisure opportunities. Not since Christmas of 2009 did I have more than 3 straight weeks of time where I didn't have to go to school. Taking classes during the summer kept me from being bored, but it also meant that fall semester was waiting for me right at the end. Right now I'm relishing in my last week of freedom before the spring semester starts, although work is a bitch. Not really. It's just that waking up early and doing the same thing everyday gets old pretty fast. Good thing it's an easy job and I actually like it most of the time. 

I'm also thankful that I've gotten to spend a lot of time with family and friends. Seeing my buddies who go to different colleges is always something I look forward to, and I could only wish they were all here for longer. With some, it feels like the party is only getting started, but I know they'll be leaving before it's over. Here's to ... a good Christmas, great companions, and hopefully blogging more in the future. I need to get back on that train! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010: The Year in Music (According to MY Library)

One of my favorite magazines that my family subscribes to is Entertainment Weekly. At the end of each year, they produce an issue overflowing with their "top lists" for all forms of media for the last 12 months. Movies, books, music, ... having many subcategories within each. Most of the time I don't agree with their top picks, so I thought this year I'd make my own. And that's exactly what these are - strictly my personal experiences, and certainly not an attempt at summing up the entire industry's year of productions. My genre bias becomes evident as you read on.

Top 20 Singles
Whether they were released in 2009 or 2010, these are the songs that I will always remember being the anthems of this past year. Most made their discoveries known to me through pop radio stations, some are rock songs (of course, that IS my taste), and some are just inbetween. Note that in no way does the order of a song's appearance on this or any following list signify ranking.

1. Tik Tok - Ke$sha
2. Animal - Neon Trees
3. Cooler than Me - Mike Posner featuring Big Sean
4. Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars
5. I Will Not Bow - Breaking Benjamin
6. Jar of Hearts - Christina Perri
7. Pornstar Dancing - My Darkest Days featuring Chad Kroeger
8. Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds to Mars
9. Nightmare - Avenged Sevenfold
10. OMG - Usher featuring Will.I.Am
11. Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
12. Like a G6 - Far East Movement
13. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
14. The Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine
15. Secrets - One Republic
16. Dynamite - Taio Cruz
17. Kick in the Teeth - Papa Roach
18. Your Betrayal - Bullet For My Valentine
19. Empire State of Mind - Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys
20. Teenage Dream - Katy Perry

Top 10 Albums I Discovered
I don't know about other people, but I am always finding out about old music that just happens to tickle my fancy at a much later time than when it was actually popular. I guess you could say I'm behind the times, but I don't care. Here I record a few of the albums I'm thankful for listening to in 2010.

1. Fearless - Taylor Swift (2008)
2. We Are Not Alone - Breaking Benjamin (2004)
3. Lateralus - Tool (2001)
4. Riot! - Paramore (2007)
5. Elephant - The White Stripes (2003)
6. The Sound of Madness - Shinedown (2008)
7. Greatest Hits - Guns N' Roses (2004)
8. Meteora - Linkin Park (2003)
9. Innocence & Instinct - RED (early 2009)
10. Dirt - Alice in Chains (1992)

Top 15 Singles I Discovered
Same description as above, but these are single songs. This list almost means more than the last, simply because there weren't a lot more than 10 albums I downloaded/bought that were older than a year or two, so the ones I had pretty much filled up those spots. The selection for this one is a lot wider, though. Here goes:

1. Basket Case - Green Day (1994)
2. Fire It Up - Modest Mouse (2006)
3. Big Balls - AC/DC (1976)
4. Work - Jimmy Eat World (2004)
5. Son's Gonna Rise - Citizen Cope (2005)
6. Champagne Supernova - Oasis (1995)
7. My Own Worst Enemy - Lit (1999)
8. Holy Diver - Dio (1983)
9. Pepper - The Butthole Surfers (1996)
10. Till I Collapse - Eminem (2002)
11. Loser - Beck (1993)
12. Lollipop - Framing Hanley (2007)
13. Nookie - Limp Bizkit (1999)
14. More Than a Feeling - Boston (1976)
15. Plush - Stone Temple Pilots (1992)

Top 5 2010 Albums 
Pretty self-explanatory. Of the 2010 and late 2009 releases, these were the albums I listened to the most this year. I wish I had had time to listen to more, but I simply did not. And with this final list, I conclude my post.

1. Dear Agony - Breaking Benjamin
2. This is War - 30 Seconds to Mars
3. Speak Now - Taylor Swift
4. Asylum - Disturbed
5. Need You Now - Lady Antebellum

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ... with nuts!

Thanks to this lovely app I have on my iPhone, "Epicurious," I can browse thousands of recipes for any kind of food without having to flip through multiple cookbooks. I love it because most recipes are rated and reviewed, and by looking at the percentage of people who say they would make it again, along with the number of people who actually voted, you can easily determine which recipes are winners. With 91% of 79 people saying they would make this oatmeal chocolate chip cookie again, I figured the chance that the cookies would come out unsatisfying was small. Some reviews tell of their slight revisions of the recipe, but when I followed the exact instructions and used the exact ingredient amounts, they came out pretty much perfect. So here's me sharing this yummy recipe for ya'll!

"Chocolate Chip Cookies with Oatmeal and Pecans"

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 2 heavy large baking sheets. Beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until fluffy and well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, the vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt over butter mixture and stir to blend. Mix in oats, the chocolate chips, and pecans.

Working in batches, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 14 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store cookies airtight at room temperature.)

Bon Appetit, December 1996

Ok so I guess I kinda lied about changing the recipe. I normally don't have unsalted butter on hand, so I used the regular salted kind that we had, and left out the extra salt the recipe calls for. When using this technique I've never found my cookies to be too salty, so it must be working. Also, my brown sugar was not "dark brown" sugar, just regular ... brown ... sugar. And it worked fine. 

The cookies came out looking gorgeous, as you can see, and it really makes me appreciate the ice cream scooper I've started to use for baking. It truly does make nicely rounded cookies more efficiently and with less mess on your fingers. You know what I'm talking about - the thing where you squeeze the handle and it plops out the dough for you? Sometimes I'm wary of all the kitchen gadgetry on the shelves these days, but this nifty tool actually has some use.

I feel like I've been praising so many things in this one post! If you take anything away from it, I hope you either check out the Epicurious app, bake these awesome cookies, or even invest in a cookie dough scooper (find a good one at pampered chef). Otherwise I will at least have another well-made recipe documented for my own sake. Ha!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Confessions of a Childcare-giver

I'm not so pro at eating pizza in bed with my laptop yet, but I just couldn't resist the surprise leftovers I came home to on an empty stomach after babysitting just now. I could've eaten anything at the family's house, but I didn't realize how hungry I was till I opened the pizza box in my kitchen and my heart filled with glee. Even further, after just eating half a slice, it was apparant that one of the reasons I had been so tired was because I hadn't eaten in 8 hours.

Babysitting is always an adventure. Once or twice a month I am called on by a sweet couple I met to watch their two and four-year old boys for a few hours. Progressively each time I had fallen more and more in love with them, especially the innocent toddler whose infectious laugh makes me melt inside. But tonight we've crossed a certain threshold where all of the sudden these sweet boys are TOO comfortable around me that they won't physically leave me alone. One or both were attached to my body at all times, often with a hand in the face or legs somewhere up around my shoulders. No longer is the infectious laugh cute when it results from repeatedly smacking me with a pillow while the other attempts to conquer my person like King Kong and the Empire State Building.

Were their parents secretly keeping them locked up all day so all their energy could be released all on me, or is there really that much sugar in two tubes of gogurt? Two and four-year olds may be able to repeat the words please and thank you, demonstrating that they can pretend to have manners when you remind them, but neither age group knows the meaning of the word "no." As in, no you may not jump on my stomach just because I lied down on the floor for 5 seconds, and no you may not keep climbing onto the railing and almost killing yourselves falling down, and no you may not keep eating all the food in your fridge even though I know you can't still be hungry.

Me, after putting M & G to bed

Everytime I see this family, the two year old has learned new words, and the ones that showed up most tonight were very centered around some common themes. No way could I have not understood that "nack" with a point to the cupboard obviously meant "feed me now." No way did I underestimate the importance little M laid on how much he wanted to climb on my shoulders, when the sequence of vocabulary went from "move" to "back" to "stand up."

No clearer have any commands been from this almost three year old who's graduating from his crib soon. I do not look forward to the day when I get to put him to sleep only to hear him crawl right out and go back to playing with his toys. This is not just annoying, but very worrisome, as he is nicknamed El Destructo for his superhuman ability to get into anything and cause a ruckus. Just today he scared me half to death whenever he attempted to climb on his toy box to turn off the light and fall in. I know I may have some extra padding around my gluteus maximus area, but if I were him, I wouldn't be so thrilled about landing on so many hard, plastic items. I do have to hand it to the kid, though, for being such a daredevil and not even crying the many times he's fallen off the couch or taken a buzz lightyear to the butt.

If all this is making me sound like a horrible caretaker, you'll be even more delighted to know I let them watch Cops on TV. It was the only thing that made them sit still for 5 minutes, and I was NOT going to give that up. Besides, they're too young to know what any of it means, so I don't think any harm was done. But really, I'm actually doing a pretty dang good job of watching them, since no phone calls to the parents have been made, let alone tears shed by either of the boys from an injury. That in and of itself is an accomplishment to be noted.

Despite the boys being super hyper and good at not listening to me tonight, I still presently enjoy the few occasions I get to see them. Babysitting not only puts a pleasing amount of cash in my wallet, but it's fun because their smiles delight me so. Plus, being around kids is almost an instant boost of self confidence, since you don't have to worry one bit about them thinking your hair is greasy or you don't sing as well as Carrie Underwood. As long as you're giving them attention, you will be loved, and that love is a nice thing to feel.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Partays

Oh how I love my fellow Intervarsitites! Intervarsitians ... Intervarsinese ... Intervarsitish ...

Two Christmas parties thus far involving these folk have put a smile on my face already during the month of December of o-ten. Actually, more than a smile. Last night tears were streaming down my face not once, twice, but three times, from laughing so hard at our funny selves! Our crazy shenanigans from the shin-digs have included plenty of ugly sweaters, funny portraits, Guitar Hero collaborations, candy cane cookies, and more. If this weren't my blog (being entirely open for the world to see), I'd put pictures up that documented the occasions. Perhaps in the print version of this so-called "yearbook" of mine, I'll put some photos in where they should be.

Last night, at the advisement of one of our wiser and more experienced friends, we watched White Christmas, a movie I had never heard of. It's one of those old flicks with dancing and singing ... haha, a musical I guess. Bing Crosby stars with 3 other leading actors who all did a fantastic job in this film that has it all - a love story, humor (yes, I laughed!), Christmas spirit, that cute old-fashioned feel, sentimental warm fuzzies, and plenty of adorable outfits worn by the women that left me wanting to live their lives. Those empire waists and flowing skirts ... sigh. Such glamour! Such poise! Such elegance! Not to mention the dancing was phenomenal - extremely entertaining, and seemingly a blast to perform.

Of course this 1954 movie was where the song "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" originated. When Bing Crosby sings any song, the sound is so fantastically rich, it's like listening to the dark chocolate of voices. I couldn't help but feel like I was indulging, by simply allowing the sound into my ears. Indulge as well, as you listen to this clip from the movie and consider watching the whole thing yourself:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Scantron Failure

And the Nobel Piece Prize for Scantron Failure in 2010 goes to ... the List Girl! 

This chick here is a bonafide retard when it comes to filling out scantron forms. For some reason it takes an unusually large amount of effort to get the right bubbles filled in with the right numbers, and matching up with the answers I actually want to choose. I have missed questions on tests that I knew the right answers to because I simply filled in the wrong bubble. This is a big deal in college! Every little multiple choice counts! Additionally, at other times I can fill in the right bubble but it will be on the wrong line, and I'll have to go all the way back to the root of the problem and erase like 20 answers. It always worries me that I don't erase the wrong ones all the way because the machines are so picky about that and I don't want to be marked down because there was still some smudging left, due to a crappy eraser. I made at least 5 mistakes like these today on one scantron sheet alone. Go me...

And there was even one time this semester in class where we completed a practice quiz with about 25 questions and I intelligently started my answers at #2 instead of #1. The beauty of this (yes, sarcasm) was that I had no way of realizing I messed up until I got the sheet back graded with an entire line of red marks on the side, indicating almost every one of my answers was wrong. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to ask my professor if I could fill out a new one. This wasn't 5th grade, this was college. He must think my ACT score was a 12 or something. (However, if this was the case, I could just blame it on my inability to fill in the right bubbles - who knows, maybe I'm still a genius and that is my only error.)

On a somewhat related note, does anybody else get excited when they have four answers in a row that are of the sequence A C D C ? Because it just tickles me. :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catching Up With Nothing of Any Real Importance, But Still Interesting Stuff

Hello, blog, long time no see. You've missed me, have you? Well that's nice to hear. I'm kind of having a writing crisis this season, as you may have noticed, since I haven't posted very much in the past few weeks. I feel bad but I just can't do it ... hopefully this funk goes away and I can get back to my regular schedule and get back to loving blogging again.

But here I am, trying. I have no subject for this post yet. I thought I might talk about how much of a creeper I am, since within minutes of posting a facebook status about it, I got 3 or 4 likes. Meaning it was a successful discussion topic ... ? I'm rather pleased that my statuses have been doing so well recently, capturing many likes and comments on each one. I feel like facebook isn't such a waste if people actually pay attention to my activity and conversation is generated.

You know what would be really sweet? If I could publish the spectacularly awesome white paper on this blog that I've been putting so much time into with my group in Technical Writing. We finally finished today after hours and hours of work and stress. It was a 6 week long project that spanned many documents, assignments, and a presentation. I'm so proud of our professional piece of work completed today, it could legitimately be a real white paper produced in a successful business. Of course now that we've spent so much time being nit-picky on every bit of language in the 15 pages, I can't help noticing all the flaws I already have in this one post. BUT I don't care. :) I get to be myself on this blog and I write the way I think, which is in no way perfect.

Back to the creeper thing though - 

Funny story, but I happen to have recently developed a crush on this amazingly designed specimen in my accounting class. He's kind of gorgeous. Quiet and mysterious. (And by kind of gorgeous I mean he's really attractive.) I've never talked to him, and I don't know anything about him except that he asks smart questions, falls asleep adorably sometimes in class because of his work (?), and does not wear a wedding ring. In proper detective fashion, I carefully listened the last time our professor was handing out graded tests, and I caught his last name (it came right before mine!). Upon filing that piece of information away in a safe place in my brain, I was able to look up the one e-mail our professor ever sent the whole class, and scanned the list of recipients till I found his last name. Luckily our school e-mails consist simply of our first and last name, so with that one step I gained the most important part - his whole name!

I owe much thanks to Mark Zuckerburg for ever creating facebook because within seconds I had found him on the internet and was gazing upon his very nicely done profile pic. It's not one of those you can place in a category on a mockery list of all the stereotypical douche pics guys always use (the party pic with beer in one hand and arms around friends in a dark location, or the phone snapshot in the bathroom mirror, etc.). I didn't friend him or anything, that would definitely be really weird. I don't know why I was compelled to look him up at all, but at least now I know his name. I'm really hoping he's in my next accounting class. So yeah. That's my story of creeperness for this week. My services are available in exchange for suitable compensation.

In other news:

- Harry Potter 7 is a good movie.
- I'm even more in love with the new Taylor Swift album.
- I've been producing a lot of awesome mix cd's for friends that I wanted to just upload the playlists for, but they're all specialized to each person and purpose, so that might be ineffective for other people to see.
- Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties are fun, even if they end early. I shall post about that later when the pics are up.
- I had my first Mormon Muffin a few weeks ago. It was HEAVENLY.
- I'm also REALLY enjoying the Hunger Games series!! Man, those books have the best cliff-hangers I've ever seen. You simply MUST obtain the next book as soon as you're done with one. Good thing they're all out now because I would have a hard time waiting a few months/years for more to be published.
- If I had my way this Christmas, I would get the normal amount of presents, plus about 5 pairs of converse on top of that. I can't look at their website without finding too many pairs that I want, but they're all so expensive!
- On the Christmas note, we have a real tree this year, finally. I was expecting it to smell of pine but it actually isn't that fragrant at all. I want to buy a pine-scented candle to light next to the tree so when people come over, they're really impressed with how good the "tree" smells.
- Also pertaining to Christmas, my highly organized and geeky CD Wish List, complete with priority ranking:

I love Excel. I also love music. I also think I might love accounting. I'm thinking I should work for some sort of music production company's finance division. (Wow, that was one noun-compact phrase if there ever was one.)

How to BS
Speaking of technical writing, again (the reference, if you didn't catch it, was in that last statement in parentheses), I have to say that I have actually benefited a lot from this class. I think everybody should take it, because people these days suck at writing intelligently. Our book is great - Technical Communication by Mike Markel   - especially the chapter on "Writing Effective Sentences." It's all about being concise and clear, and eliminating unnecessary words. Very useful for professional documents, but also if you apply the concepts in reverse, it's a great instruction guide for how to BS.

The high school I come from gave us lots of practice in that (unintentionally of course), but these techniques are even more helpful. I can't claim it's a good thing for college students to follow this advice in making papers longer because I expect professors catch onto these things and aren't appreciative of our deceitful efforts. But I bet such tactics work wonders for high school kids. So if anybody who's reading this post is in high school, I recommend you pick up a copy of that textbook. If you're smart, you can find out which principles to use from chapter 10 that it actually advises against that will work wonders for adding length and fancy-speak. The book also has legitimate chapters that tell you how to write a good argument, which you'll end up learning anyway in regular english classes.

That's all I have to say for now. I hope to be back soon but I can't make any guarantees. At least know that my absense is not due to laziness, but other more complicated reasons that I can't explain.

I bid thee farewell.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BOB Challenge #5: Thanksgiving (subtitle: The Beauty of Time)

I'm thankful for a lot of things. Too many to even begin writing down, although I've had this idea circulating in my head of a giant board where I can take colorful sharpies and marker in all the things I'm thankful for, whenever they spring into mind. The inspiration came from hearing about a friend who just does this to an entire wall in his room - I thought it was really awesome, but if I'm moving out of my parents' house in the next year or so, I won't be able to take that wall with me.

Anyway, I wasn't intending for this to be a really long post. I just wanted to talk about one thing that has popped up in my head recently, and that is the idea of time, and all its benefits. I've just begun to watch this 4 part sermon about time and how we use it, and one thing I thought was interesting was this statement: (in summary) Time generally seems to go by faster the older you are. The pastor comically explained that this is why Christmas always seems so far away when you're a kid, but as an adult, you feel like you never get a break from the holidays. I concurred with this statement, thinking about how I definitely felt the time fly by since I graduated high school. I used to fret about how fast a year would go by without anything significant happening ... specifically, for example, a relationship. But I'm just kinda used to that by now, and I have to remind myself that it sounds a lot longer than it actually is, so it's really not even a big deal. 

Back to the benefits of time. And relationships. People say time heals a broken heart, and it's a crucial part of getting over somebody. No comment on that per se, but what I do want to bring attention to is how crucial time is in letting go of grudges. Grudges actually isn't a great word to use, because it implies an insufficient reason for holding them. More like ... hurt feelings, caused by legitimate quarrels with or insults from people you care about. In the past relevant chunk of my life, I've had some issues that left me really really pissed at some friends, enough so that I didn't talk to them for a while. One in particular sort of ruined an entire friendship for a year, which is slowly being built back up again without intense discussion of said serious issue. 

In these situations, you have all this anger inside you for what that person did, and the function of time is to help that anger slowly go away. This is because the longer it has been since the anger-inducing incident, the more the memory has faded. It's not like you've just forgotten what they've done, but for one, you've become used to it, and two, the painful details aren't so fresh anymore. Just like a flesh wound is worse at the beginning when the senses are so stimulated from all the exposure to contact with foreign substances. 

When I lay this out in words, it seems like a no-duh type of thing, but the reason I'm fascinated by it is because without me realizing it, time has helped me begin to forget those initially hurt feelings and open up to my friends again. It doesn't erase what they did, but it softens my heart enough to let them back into my life, even if it's in bits and pieces. Is this the meaning of forgiveness? The word hadn't even crossed my mind until now, but it's worth pondering. I'll have to go spend some more TIME on that one. 

To sum up this post in one simple sentence (and to point out the actual relation to the topic of this week's challenge):  One thing I'm unexpectedly thankful for at this point in my life is the healing properties of time. Which I don't think is a coincidence of the design of the universe. So thanks, God. 

(sorry readers who may be annoyed/offended by that 
religious reference. I couldn't help myself.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Applause for "Speak Now"

Dare I attempt to voice my opinions on the music of Taylor Swift? I feel like I'm about to step onto a minefield where any small move I make will cause a sudden explosion, in the form of someone reacting to what I say that they don't agree with. Depending on the person, this could leave me in a bad mood, but what it comes down to is this: I have a strong feeling about this new album, and whether it be positive or negative, at least it's something to write about. And honestly, lately I've been having a hard time with that.

Fact: There are two kinds of people in this world - those who love T-Swizzle, and those who hate her. Anyone in the middle needs to reveal himself to me, because I know of no such case. If you wanted to be picky, we could say there are people who like her music but don't like her, but I'm not concerned with that at this point. I've been pro-Taylor for a while, and her new album Speak Now just further confirmed that standpoint for me.

In trying to discover why everybody loves her music, I've decided it's because her lyrics always tell a story. Lessons on effective arguing always teach you that one of the biggest persuasive techniques is appeal to emotion, especially with examples. Every one of Taylor's songs is either a love story or a broken heart story, and everybody can relate to that - whether it be from personal experience, or a dream harbored deep in our hearts with the rest of our hopeless romantic insecurities. Instead of confusing strings of poetic language like many of the more artistic/emotional song-writers create (emo music, for example), Taylor writes with naturally spoken phrases that are easy to understand. Less of the unclear, abstract feelings, more of the detailing what happens in situations that affect her life. The little things like seeing a charming boy across the room (by whom she is "Enchanted"), the first time another put his arm around her by the water ("Mine"), or the tiny hand of an infant wrapped around her finger as she puts her to bed ("Never Grow Up"). These details paint pictures in the mind of listeners, which forge the way for emotional connections to be made.

Besides the narrative lyrics that everybody can comprehend and relate to, a few witty rhymes are thrown in as well, such as on "Better Than Revenge": "She's not a saint and she's not what you think, she's an actress. She's better known for the things she does on the mattress." In the imaginative scene about interrupting a wedding to save the man she loves from marrying the wrong girl ("Speak Now"), Taylor sweetly croons in her innocent voice all her humorous and biting commentary about the bride: "I sneak in and see your friends and her snotty little family all dressed in pastel, and she is yelling at a bridesmaid somewhere back inside a room wearing a gown shaped like a pastry." It's funny because such remarks should be spouted from a grumpy voice, but instead they're sung brightly from the optimistic, Disney-esque Taylor who is angelic as always. And have I mentioned how cute "Mean" is, where the tone reminds me of an 8 year old version of myself or any other vulnerable girl sticking her tongue out at an offensive comment?

Back to that voice of hers - who could criticize the aesthetic appeal? Couple it with the simple guitar chords and varied, beautiful melodies that she impressively puts together herself (starting at such a young age, too), the sheer sound of her music is just pleasing to the ear. And to anyone who says all her songs sound the same, I say you need to listen to a couple more - besides the normal bubbly love songs, "Dear John" is a slow and beautiful ballad of heartbreak, while I personally heard a strikingly Paramore-like influence on "Haunted." On the first few listens, anyway. And those were just the ones I found that strayed from the norm the most; by no means do the other 12 songs follow one similar pattern. Taylor's producers also know just the right amount of subtle pop additives to complement the basic structure of every song. Kind of like how make up is said to enhance beauty, not create it. The harmonic back-up sections are not necessary, but they enhance the already present beauty of a song.

Some fun I've had with this album is attempting to pin every one of her public relationships to at least one song, using the small hints provided in the lyrics. "Back to December" (which I LOVE) is obviously about Taylor Lautner, while the only one "Dear John" could be about is John Mayer. If you watched the VMA's this year, you know "Innocent" was directed towards Kanye West, but I also think "Mean" could have been, too. I admire her for having the guts to release these raw emotions willingly to the public, knowing full well they'll figure out who the lyrics are about. It's one thing to put your love stories out there, but when they're not anonymous anymore, that's just risky territory.

I sometimes feel like I'm intruding on Taylor's diary, which is maybe another reason fans like her so much - she trusts us. I've read facebook statuses of people saying things like "Taylor Swift knows exactly how to put into words the events of my life!" so obviously there is a great deal of common experiences. I haven't even had that many relationships in my life yet, but I know many songs that I felt were direct representations of my own thoughts. It's just annoying that she can put them into song form so well, whereas I don't even have enough talent to ATTEMPT such a feat.

Conclusion: Two thumbs up, a round of applause, cheers, hats off . . .  to Taylor Swift's 2010 album Speak Now. Shannon is a very satisfied consumer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lacking Excitement: A New List

Dear Shannon:

You must find more inspiration to write in your blog. You've made this thing a commitment! It would seem as if you've fallen into a routine of life where everything is the same every week and those things are fun but just aren't compelling enough to blog about. Since you've slowed down on the 20s List, here are some more activities I (your other half) have thought about doing to spice up your (our) life in order to have more things to write about - or just to keep things interesting.

  • take a cold shower
  • send flowers to somebody
  • drive somewhere new and explore
  • memorize all the tic tac toe strategies
  • carve something in a tree
  • write my last will and testament
  • eat authentic indian food
  • do everything with my left hand for a day
  • compose a poem and leave it in a public place
  • write a letter to the future
  • duct tape someone to the wall
  • turn a sidewalk into a gameboard
  • decorate someone's car
  • send a postcard

If you don't heed my advice, you'll just have to start forcing posts about school subjects or something boring like that. So hop to it.

Dear Readers: If you can think of other random fun things to do like these written here, your suggestions would be much appreciated!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BOB Challenge 4: Voting in Non-Presidential Elections

So ... recently there have been some elections going on. I don't pay attention to politics yet, for the most part. I couldn't even tell you who was running for what, that's how much I am oblivious to what's going on around me. It's pretty disgusting, I know. I have faith that as I mature and grow older, these things will become important to me. I'll end up watching the news on my own when I move out, and seeking information about political candidates once I know what my own views are, thus allowing me to judge who I think would best lead our country/state/whatever. 

I'm not going to be an ignorant, irresponsible citizen as an adult, but right now I'm not ready to take on the task of voting. For a few weeks my school was campaigning to get as many people registered to vote as possible. It was a competition between other schools in the area, meaning it didn't matter if the people who registered knew what they were even doing - a circumstance that was probably magnified due to the fact that your name was entered into a drawing for some rad prizes if you registered. It was just a game of numbers. I didn't want to partake in registering, or voting for that matter, if I knew that I have absolutely no knowledge of the matters at hand. It would be IRresponsible of me to randomly put a check mark by the name of the person that I think had the coolest name, or the one that ended up winning the Eenie Meenie game. I know people who have done that! It sickens me to think that might happen on a large level with more serious things like the actual presidential elections. I feel no shame in walking by that table and politely refusing the registration opportunity, because I will not vote until I am informed enough to know what I'm doing, and the consequences of my actions. Sure, one silly vote that wasn't intended to mean anything won't throw an election, but if enough people do that in college when they all they really care about is ... well, college, then I'm really worried about the state of our election system. 

One thing I DID vote in, that was non-presidential (keeping with the theme of the post), was which cover of our school's literary magazine I liked best. Those things are easy, take 5 seconds, and help better represent the student population's opinion if everyone took their time to do it. For now I'll stick with that - sharing my voice on what I can surely form my own opinions on, the things that have to do with what I'm experiencing in my life right now: School! I'm not ready to be an adult yet; however, I will get there in time. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Post on the Roller Derby

Yup, that's what I did last night. Thanks to an assignment for anthropology class (which didn't make much sense to me), I got to experience the thrill of witnessing the intense championship game between two local teams in my area. Something I never thought I'd get around to doing otherwise. It's just one of those things that either is or is not on your list, and for some reason it never occurred to me that I would enjoy going to the roller derby, but I'm bummed now that I didn't have it on my 20s List to cross off.

I'd only ever seen footage of what a roller derby looks like from trailers for that one show that Ellen Page is in and that Drew Barrymore directed. I wanted to see it, and I do even more now. Going into the game (with m good friend KC!), I knew absolutely nothing about how it's played, just that a bunch of crazily-dressed girls skate around in circles and beat each other up at the same time. Turns out there actually is a point, though, and strategy is involved, and it gets pretty physical.

An excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Contemporary roller derby is an American-invented contact sport with roots in sports entertainment. The game is based on formation roller skating around an oval track by two teams. Points are scored as the designated scoring player (the "jammer") of both teams each laps members of the opposing team, including its "blockers,"[1] hence offense and defense typically occur simultaneously.[2][3]"

So pretty much one person scores points during each round for their team by lapping the most people from the opposing team. Many tactics are used to prevent this from happening, which lead to rough tumbles and ripped tights and many bruises. Referees are constantly in the middle of the track following the "jammers" and keeping track of who's in the lead and how many people they've passed. It's a demanding job, as they have to simultaneously loop around their inner circle to keep up with the girls they're tracking, usually while displaying their status (lead or non-lead) with arm/hand signals.

The game started out slow, making it pretty easy to get a hold of how the rules worked. The second half picked up quite a bit though: Shoving started much earlier on in the rounds, more people were getting penalties and sent to time out, larger point tallies were being wracked up each time, and it was never a guarantee of who would win. During the last minute and a half, the teams were 118-110 (the team we were rooting for being the losers at this point), where previously there had been 30+ point differences that left you wondering if there was even hope. But like I said, things got intense and sometimes a team would earn 20 points at a time. The very last round started out great until the jammer on our team fell to the ground and lost a wheel on her skate, which forced her to basically forfeit trying to get any points. She sat on the side while the opposing team's jammer wracked up 20-something points, and furthered their score to win the game. The crowd was heartbroken.

At the end of the night, we obviously were very excited about the turnout of the game, but there was reason to be excited even before it started. If it's your first time, the atmosphere is definitely fun to soak in, as you will find obvious that it's not your typical contact sport. These girls are decked out in funky tights, usually bootie shorts or a short skirt (tutu optional), glitter and/or heavy make up, plus all their protective gear covering their heads, elbows, knees, and teeth (mouthguards are a must). Each skater has a unique name on her jersey that usually plays on words to make either a provocative or intimidatingly aggressive nickname. Examples are Babe Ruthless, Iron Butterfly, Katie Karnage, or Mudd Girl (even the referees have names!) Basically, if it's anything a normal person would be embarrassed to wear on their back, it could be seen as the moniker of a derby doll.

The variety of girls participating in roller derbies seems to be greater than your average sport. Size and age seem to be the most varied factors - this is definitely not something that limits players to having a Barbie physique, which made me happy. Heavier girls proudly strut their stuff in what a lot of women are too scared to wear in public, and skinny minnies can do the same.

What I was surprised to notice was the amount of calmness that resided in each team despite the fighting nature of the sport. When they're out on the track, everyone is trying to push the others down, or one-up them by sneaking up from behind and gaining the lead. Even when the more aggressive maneuvers lead to big falls and penalties, the teams always kept their cool and left the anger on the track. KC and I sat very close to the team's sitting areas, and never heard or saw any shouts or expressions of hatred. They play fair and respect the other teams, which I respect and admire, even though naturally I think people tend to be attracted to violence.

All in all I'm not as upset as I was before about spending $12 to go to the roller derby. I'd definitely do it again, when it's not required for a school assignment, and I'm still hoping I get to see that movie sometime.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Life Lessons (The Meaningful Ones)

It's been a while since I posted last, so I felt obligated to write today. Nothing has inspired me though, enough to share with people on my blog anyway, so I resorted to a random writing prompt generator on the internet.

What is the greatest lesson you've learned so far in your life?

Good freaking question. I'd first have to say that I'm kind of young and I haven't learned a whole lot of lessons so far, relative to what I'm sure will come in the next many decades of my life. The majority of things I've been learning in these first 19 years is factual information, due to this mandatory thing called schooling, and then my willful continuation into higher education. 

Learning life lessons comes from what you experience, mainly with hardships, relationships, and Pirate ships. Just kidding. But so far my count on the first two is kind of low in my opinion. Nothing traumatic has happened to me yet, nor have I fallen deeply in love and known what I wanted out of my future. But at the same time that doesn't mean that what I have experienced meant any less because it doesn't carry the same magnitude. When you're a teenager, the highlight of your day might be a really brief conversation with a boy you like. It takes over your mind and you'll end up thinking about that person till you fall asleep, and maybe even then some. In adulthood, those menial things happen everyday and bigger stuff takes over. So I feel like whatever I may have to say about my life so far will pale in comparison to the wisdom held by my elders. 

So let's try to get a good list going here, of what I HAVE learned. A lot of it sums up to what used to be my motto of "Expect the worst and you'll never get let down." Always. For a while in a darker period of my life it seemed that whenever I had something to look forward to, things somehow always went awry and I ended up in a very lonely place. I couldn't ever have hope in a budding friendship because something would come along and ruin it. I couldn't look forward to a planned gathering too much because I'd have this grand idea of how perfect everything would be, and reality would have it that actually it turned out to be a boring, uncomfortable ordeal that made me feel foolish for being enthusiastic about something. This still happens to me, but not to the same extent. Maybe it's because of a changed outlook on life that I haven't noticed but just somehow took over. Or maybe I've just been particularly blessed with this past year of my life. I don't know. One thing I do know is that if I had answered this question a year or two ago, it would have been a misery-filled response that sounded like I never got to experience joy, and that's not true. 

Another thought just popped into my head, that maybe all the important things I've been learning lately aren't exactly life lessons, they are just about ME. Figuring out who I am: what I value, what things attract me, what I disrespect or am apathetic about, what makes me the most satisfied. Those kinds of things. And I'm not talking about my favorite food or movie genre, I'm talking about deep stuff. Such as ... am I the type of person that obtains fulfillment from a successful career or from relationships? I think I've already got a good feel for this one, and I'm sure it will just become more and more clear the older I become. On the other hand though, I know that nobody is ever dominated by one trait over another, which leads me to another thing I've learned, which is the importance of balance.

Balance can be applied to many aspects of life. In that previous example, it means that I can receive fulfillment from both work AND relationships. I, and most people, will have a preference, but that doesn't mean the other is irrelevant. Balance is important in what pleasures you allow yourself in life - everything in moderation, right? Eat balanced meals. Don't become addicted to anything. Exercise on a regular basis. Such statements are self explanatory. You should also have balance in the priorities which take over your time. I see a lot of people my age becoming way too bogged down by school, or work, or both. It creates a large amount of stress when you don't even have time to relax and hang out with friends. Speaking of friends, balance applies here too, as you should not get caught in the delusion that you are best friends with multiple groups of people and not put enough effort into maintaining those relationships. Further, balance the tools you use to make decisions - do not put everything all on your heart or your head, but consider logic and emotion in every situation. 

All of the sudden all these ideas keep coming to mind! Never assume you know everything and that your opinion cannot change. It's good to have opinions, but always be open to learning and questioning and absorbing new information. The more you know about all sides of a topic, the more fine-tuned and responsible your opinion IS. 

Don't tell someone you love them unless you're sure of it. This is the item on the list that doesn't belong, it feels a bit out of place, but I had to say it. Continuing on.  

The Golden Rules works wonders in any situation. As long as you take into consideration the fact that some people might prefer a different outcome than you. For example, you feel most cared about when people express their interest through words and encouragement, whereas others might resonate more with significant actions displaying affection. Anyway, the point is to think of others and not be selfish all the time. 

And for me, personally, faith in God. Is very important. And I will stop at that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BOB Challenge 3: The Universe

Technically the topic is something more like "the universe and its vastness." These words bring up bad memories for me, since I unknowingly signed up, in the Spring of 2010, to put myself through the torture of an astronomy class (knowledge of the signing up was there, not the future torture). Anytime the word astronomy comes up in a discussion, I tell people not to take that class, because there is so much information to learn and not enough time. You pretty much have to know everything about the universe!! It's true. And is there no thing bigger than the universe? I think not! If I wanted an A I would've had to put an hour or two a day into reading the book and memorizing things alone, and that does not include time spent on homework. The early chapters talked about some scientific laws and everything about the planets in our galaxy, but then branched out into all other possibly existing pieces of material in the universe, what the stuff is in between, and then the size of the whole thing itself.

Apparently the universe has no boundaries. Scientists try to talk about the shape of the universe, whether it is open or closed, flat, spherical, etc. It's cool and all in theory, but honestly the percentage of people on this planet that care is probably about .00001%. Because as far as I know, our own galaxy is so huge and full of exploration, how can we attempt to solve and know everything about things beyond that? I don't see how we can benefit from it. Traveling from Earth to the Sun takes 8.3 minutes, traveling at the speed of light, which frankly, is not really something I believe is physically possible for human beings and spacecraft to figure out how to do. Not that we'd want to get to the sun of course, but to give you some sense of how big the Milky Way Galaxy is, if Earth were a peppercorn and the sun was a bowling ball, the two would have to sit 78 feet away. A peppercorn! That's tiny! Plus, that's just one sun out of many in this galaxy.

In the scheme of things, I don't give a crap about how large the universe is. I know that the chances of intelligent life on other planets is calculable (we did it in a lab, there are many steps), and that it's also really small. If you want to bring the big bang theory into this, I would just flat out say that's impossible. God had to have created us, given the chances of us existing normally, and how complicated our existence IS. Just looking at the way our bodies are put together and function so creatively is ... well it's just a work of art resulting from great, detailed planning.

I appreciate the universe and the stars and everything. When I'm walking the dogs on a clear night, I'll cup my hands around my eyes and stare at the stars while still walking. They don't move at all. I can almost trick myself into thinking I'm on a treadmill and not going anywhere. It's because they're just that far away, and to us the night sky looks like a dark blanket spread out with bits of light peaking through. I read the textbook, the one that changes every year because things are being discovered so fast. I attempted to learn everything about the universe (ok, it was definitely a half-ass attempt), and I still don't see how it matters to me, or anybody else on this planet. I know studying things in our own galaxy is important to see how Earth is affected, but beyond that I don't really think it matters. Frankly, a good number of people are probably earning salaries based on useless research. Lucky them?

I maintain my position about astronomy class. Don't take it unless you want to go into that field, because you're probably thinking it's an easy, fun general that lets you chill in the planetarium all the time. Yeah, I did fall asleep a lot in my reclined chair in that secluded, dark bubble, which was nice until I tried catching up on the notes. Unless your teacher tests on the most general of material, in which case you probably won't have to study the book AS hard, you're going to spend a lot of time on this class. And it sucks. The end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Holiday Update, Exercise Curse, and Life Ambitions

So maybe I might've been a little too harsh on the Universe in my previous post complaining about Halloween because right now it is snowing like Christmas Eve at my house. The weather has been yucky all weekend, but it was just right for a few days when it actually rained like it should have, and brought out the beautiful colors of fall. However, overcompensation is evident in this current flurry of winter weather that is a month early. The skies are so cluttered with STUFF that I can't even see the mountain behind my house, and the sun hasn't shone normally since last week. Good thing I wasn't on Boo-gram duty tonight. Speaking of which, they did actually end up happening, as did most of the things I was missing out on during that mid-October rant. We immediately purchased candy corn, the weather straightened out (temporarily), and I've been seeing lots of Halloween specials on TV. I'd say there has been a definite improvement.

In other news, I went to the gym today with my mom. This is noteworthy simply because it was one of those things I get to cross off my 20s List. I realize that I went against the grain in making it a goal to only go once, because obviously no real change is going to come from 45 minutes on the exercise bike. Most people set their resolutions to go every day or at least a few times a week, but this was mostly just about me trying it out and seeing how I feel. The family is considering buying new exercise equipment, so we wanted to test out machines to see which one/s we will want to use. I had hope for the elliptical, but I could only stand it for 15 minutes. I did do the exercise bike though, which was a lot more enjoyable, until the rest of my day was plagued by this strange pain at the joint of my pelvis and my leg. I don't know what caused it but it seems like every time I try to start being healthier by exercising, I hurt myself. It's like fate does not want me to BE physically fit. "No Shannon, you're destined to an early death from heart disease brought on by poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle." But I say no! I WILL fix myself and exercise without injury, if only just to spite destiny. Not because I want to be healthy or anything.

Reflecting a bit on goals that I've made in my life, I have kind of an interesting track record. In my junior year I used to joke about my life being complete once I starred in a Hot Pocket commercial. But after eating too many over the years, they didn't taste as good anymore and I lost that ambition. It still would be cool, but there are better on-the-go, processed, addictive foods to be poster child for (pop tarts anyone?!) Also, another life-long goal that I already mentioned is to never get a ticket. And now, after a few conversations I had last night on Omegle, I have become determined to persuade a complete stranger into sending me a cheesecake in the mail. Or at least that's the rough draft of the plan. I think I came really close, but I lost connection before we could exchange information. The only obstacle I'm worried about is giving out my address to someone random over the internet. I really want this to happen though, so I need to figure out how to do this. If anybody has a suggestion of a roundabout way of getting a cheesecake in the mail without actually giving away MY address, please help me. Let's pool our genius minds together, me and all 10 ten of my "followers," and if I'm lucky someone random who happens to read this.

That's all I have to say for now. I feel like this post needs to be a little more lengthy. How about a picture of the bulls' eye I hit at a party this weekend? It was such an accomplishment we had to capture evidence. It might be somewhat hard to see, but it's the one that's slanted down all funny. Don't ask me how that happened.

Wow. Yeah that pretty much doubled the size of this post. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nice Cops Do Exist

Is it sad that the first time I get pulled over by a police officer, one of my reactions when getting home is to blog about it?

My goal for the year (and pretty much life) was to keep my driving record clean (see 20s List), specifically meaning no speeding tickets. I think I'm still in the running, but I can't decide if a warning counts against that goal. Technically I bet it does go on record, and the thing I most was dreading was just getting pulled over at all. BUT no speeding ticket. So ... I'm gonna say I can still keep going with that. It would please me so much if I never got a speeding ticket in my life, like some people I know (at least one who's in her 50s). I must be more careful from now on if I'm going to accomplish that!

The story is that I was driving home from a Halloween party that was relatively close to my house, around midnight. The mountain road speed limit is 40 mph; during the day I go 45-ish, but I was cruising along tonight like nobody's business. I was thinking "No cop is going to be out on the streets in the dead of night in THIS tiny town." Haha. At times I got up to 60, but mainly coasted at 55, and that's the speed I was caught at. Thankfully I didn't freak out when I saw the flashing lights behind me. I always wondered how it would go the first time I got pulled over. Surprising myself, I remained calm throughout the whole thing.

I tried to think of all the things I've read about what to do or not to do when you get pulled over. Don't go rummaging through your things. Keep your hands where the cop can see them. He asked what the speed limit was and I honestly told him 40, in a questioning tone that implied I don't travel the road a lot but I've driven it enough to know I was definitely speeding. He said, "I got you at 55," and I guiltily replied "Yeah ... I just wasn't even paying attention." War paint on my face was explained when I said I was just on my way home from a Halloween party, which I then questioned myself for mentioning, as it might've given the wrong impression. I gave him my license and he came back maybe 7, 8 minutes later. Luckily it was a good sign to him that my driving record is pretty much perfect, so he let me off with a warning and I said I greatly appreciated it. I also think it helped that I was honest and didn't try to make up excuses. He asked if I was in a hurry to get home and I was just like nope, not really.

Just to be careful, since I mentioned the party, he asked if I had been drinking, while he shone his flashlight in my face. I was immediately like, "Oh, not at all," because that's exactly what I was thinking. It would've been the most unlikely thing for there to be any booze at that specific party, given the crowd with outstanding morals. He was obviously convinced and politely told me to be careful and wished me a good night. I followed up by further pointing out that I don't make it a habit of speeding on that road anyway, and I won't be doing it again. And thank you again, sir.

The whole experience was the least thing from traumatic. I find it ironic that I wasn't even in a hurry to get anywhere when I was pulled over, and it was maybe 60 seconds after my thoughts about how there couldn't possibly be any cops out at the time. I wasn't even worried about getting pulled over because it just wasn't in my mind as a possibility. Funny, right? And I'm thankful that nice cops DO exist, and that the Lord has blessed me so far with keeping me from getting caught all the other times I have sped. Normally it's not that much over the limit, but there have been a few times on road trips for sure. So that's it. Now I've documented my first time being pulled over, after 3 + years of license-holding. I will tell my children about this moment, or refer to my published blog/personal-yearbook that will include this post, IF that ever happens and I keep it long enough for them to see. Key future kids: I love you. I don't even know you yet but I love you already. Stay in school, say no to drugs, and don't speed. Love, Your Currently 19 Year Old Mother.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dark Horse Tour 2010

After my first experience seeing Nickelback live in 2009, I promised if I would ever get the chance to go again I would not let it pass me by. This year I bought tickets before they even went on sale, at a very large price due to the fees and general expensiveness of the show, and waited for 3 months. I was totally prepared after a year of getting more familiar with their albums and knowing the lyrics to all the choruses (and many full songs). At the last minute something happened that almost caused me to miss the concert, but my darling friend Abby so lovingly stepped in and took the extra ticket. It was very important to me to find somebody who legitimately liked the bands, or else my concert experience wouldn't have been as great if I were rocking out all by myself. As a plus, Abby also took oodles of pictures while I chowed down on my cheese fries and ice cream. 

I'm always wary at concerts when the opening bands are pretty kickass but the crowd hasn't gotten excited yet. Buckcherry would've been a great show if they were the main act in a small and more personal venue. I only knew some of their songs, but I took delight in the lead singer's propensity for shaking his ass. In his black skinny jeans and heavily tattooed bare chest, Josh Todd danced around the stage like no other from a rock band that I'VE seen. He shocked the crowd with his obscene gestures and statements, preparing us for the naughtiness that was to come from the next two bands. 

Three Days Grace took it up a notch and immediately refused to play until everybody was on their feet. I appreciated this very much because I wanted everyone to be enthusiastic, and most people were sitting down lazily in their stadium chairs. I enjoyed their relatively hardcore music as I always have, and a lot more people knew their songs. Adam Gontier started in on the traditional crowd singing wars by dividing the room in half and having us repeat his "Oh oh oooh ooh's" in competition to see which side was loudest. Graciously he declared a tie, though to me it sounded like our side should've lost. At one point when people started sitting down again, he went into the crowd and walked all around the arena (with bodyguards) while singing to get them to stand up. Abby and I wanted to sit down just so he would come over to us and we would get a little celebrity attention. 

When Nickelback finally came on, I instantly knew this night was about to get 10,000 times better. During set up they draped a huge curtain over the stage so we couldn't see what they were doing, which obviously meant bigger and greater things were going to happen while they played. A huge wall of digital screen was put up, creating a sort-of jumbo tron behind the band that showed close-ups of them half the time, and various lighting and photo effects the other half. When Nickelback actually came on, 3 VERY loud bangs went off, as if somebody was being shot, and we all jumped about half a foot in our seats. Turns out they were fireworks signaling "Hey, pay attention. Get ready to have your minds blown." And that we did. 

You know those games where someone stands in a clear box and paper money is blown all around while they try to grab as much of it as they can? Imagine your mind being blown to pieces, and then those pieces flying around crazily like the cash in the box, and then sucked all back into your head forcefully, and fast. That's what I felt like after Nickelback performed. Their music is awesome, sure, but pair that with the pyrotechnics and all the lighting and the orgasmic drum solo lasting about 10 minutes, and you have got yourself one entertaining show. I mean, I saw Daniel Adair do the same thing last year where he and his set were raised on a platform about 15-20 feet in the air and slowly rotated 360 degrees while murdering the drums with all hands and feet simultaneously, but I might as well have not ever seen it in my life because it was THAT AMAZING the second time! 

FYI my awesome iPhone took this sucker!

Nickelback is also known for their, shall we say, "friendly" stage presence. The minute Chad Kroeger says "Bring out the booze," all hell breaks loose. I'm not sure if he actually got drunk this time, but the band does drink during the show, and they throw cups of alcohol into the crowd. Of course none of it ends up in anybody's mouth, but free beer flying through the air just makes everyone that much rowdier. At one point the jumbo-tron zoomed in on two chicks in the front enthusiastically making out, and earlier, to set up for "Something In Your Mouth," girls were vying for attention by devouring bananas and lollipops as menacingly as possible to get on screen. Normally this kind of behavior bothers me a lot but I've grown used to it over the span of my growing relationship with rock music. Men AND women behaving like sluts and whores just becomes part of the experience. I just feel bad for all the 10 and 12 year olds whose moms thought taking them to see Nickelback would be a fun family adventure. Oh yeah, it's an adventure alright. If I had seen and understood some of the things when I was that young that I saw last night, I might have been slightly traumatized as a child. 

But no matter. I'm a big girl now and I don't care what people do as long as everyone is having a fun time. I still have to stress my opinion that despite my likeness for Nickelback's music, their show would only have been mediocre if not for their team of professionals who design what goes on behind the music. Flames and fireworks make so much of a difference in getting people excited. I was just super surprised at how we could even feel the heat from the torch guns when we were hundreds of feet away. Conclusion: They were legit. I specifically taped the ending of the show to keep record of how crazy it gets so I can prove to people that it's not just some pansy pop band. For all of those who only know Nickelback's music from the radio, give their real stuff a listen and you'll find out they're not what they are made out to be by the general public. I could probably write a whole essay in defense of my favorite band, but it almost distresses me too much to fight with my friends about it. 

I feel no shame in the amount of money spent on the night of October 20, 2010. Every penny was worth it, and I will proudly wear my new Dark Horse Tour t-shirt to brag to everyone that I was there. To reiterate my FB status on the matter: 

Shannon Sousa Died and was reborn tonight . . . 
Except with a still scratchy throat, and semi-blown eardrums, 
and half-melted face. It feels good :)

And of course, time for pictures. These are the highlights, and it's already a lot, but there are so many more if you want to look at the facebook album. Thanks Abby for helping me out with these!