Monday, January 26, 2009

Long Organ Post

This is an entirely too-detailed post about my adventures in organ playing yesterday. Enjoy.

Before I start, you should know that the ward chorister, Fritta (pronounced Freeta) was just released last week. Fritta (name has been changed) was the one who would pick the hymns and text them to me Sunday mornings, which I appreciated. I was able to run through them once or twice before going to church, and if I couldn't run through them, at least I knew what I was up against, which is more helpful than not knowing anything at all, you know? But now I don't know who picks the hymns, and I don't know who the chorister is.

I got to the chapel yesterday afternoon at 12:40, and had to wait until the choir was done rehearsing. Some other ward uses our chapel to rehearse in, which is quite annoying, since it means I don't get any actual practice time on the organ. Once congregants start arriving, which they usually do by 12:45, it's no longer practice, it's prelude. I might stay after Sacrament meeting to practice, but we have people come in to use the chapel then, too, so I can't. Maybe I should just do like my uncle and buy an organ. Hmm.

Anyway, this choir was rehearsing, and they're supposed to be done by 12:45. If they're not done by then, I usually go sit at the organ anyway and fiddle with the stops. That usually gets them out of there pretty quickly.

Thankfully, the choir left on time yesterday, and I started the prelude, still with no clue what the hymns were going to be. One sister used to be in charge of the programs, and she would bring them early and pass them out to whoever was already in the chapel (including me), but she hasn't done that in a while. Thus I had no program.

Eventually the chapel filled and the bishopric showed up on the stand. Nobody had changed the hymn numbers on the wooden hymn plaque thingy (what is that thing called, anyway?), and no one had come up to the stand to be the chorister. But I ignored all that, since I couldn't do anything about it, and focused on playing the organ.

When the bishop got up to start the meeting, there was still no one there to conduct, but even worse, I was in the middle of a hymn. This normally isn't a problem, since I just skip to the end and finish it off. The standard LDS hymn has three main chords, so the resolution sounds just fine from any of them. The hymn I was playing, however, happened to have a modulation into the dominant (where the dominant becomes the tonic), and I happened to be in the middle of that modulation. So when I played the last chord, the real tonic, it sounded like the subdominant, which, as we all know, is not a chord to end on at all. It was horribly unsettled.

But what could I do? I gave up because my mind is not quick enough to figure out the right chord to make it sound resolved, and as I looked out over the congregation I saw Randy staring at me. Randy was a music major and knows these things. I grimaced, and he kind of half-smiled, and I slumped my shoulders and scowled at the organ. When I was done scowling I looked over the shoulder of one of the people giving a talk to try to figure out what the opening hymn was.

Luckily, the opening hymn was easy (#3: Now Let Us Rejoice), and I was able to use the pedals. Unfortunately, when it was time to start the hymn, there was still no conductor. I am opposed to playing without a conductor. I sat for a second, but then, realizing they would probably just stare at me like I was crazy if I tried to tell them what was wrong, I gave in and started the introduction. Fritta, the old chorister, sits in the second row and also realized there was no conductor. She came up and conducted, thankfully. I still don't know who the new chorister is.

The sacrament hymn was #194: There Is A Green Hill Far Away, which is actually not as easy as you would think, as the chords change quickly. The opening hymn was great because it sits on one chord almost the entire time (the tonic), with just a few little cadences and resolutions and such (dominant to tonic); each measure usually is just one chord, though may be spelled different ways. But when the chords progress more quickly, that is more difficult for me. And when the bass line moves each beat as well, that is doubly difficult. There were no pedals for the Sacrament hymn.

After the Sacrament was passed I actually sat in the congregation, which is unusual for me, but the Ward Council was doing the musical number, and I didn't want to look stupid and have to move when they charged the stand.

The closing hymn was #5: High on the Mountain Top, and was moderately challenging. I didn't mess up too bad, but I didn't play it perfectly, either. No pedals. Oh well. And just so you all know, I feel really stupid telling you all the hymns that are hard for me, or that I messed up on. I should be able to play all of them perfectly.

Playing the hymns during Sacrament meeting is sometimes stressful to me, especially when my left hand gives up on me or my feet take over my brain. I like the time during the prelude and postlude better, because I can practice using the pedals. I can look down to make sure my feet are on the right notes before pressing, and I don't have to stay strictly in tempo. I don't really care if I mess up because no one's listening all that hard anyway (and I'm not saying I can just slop through the pieces or anything, but, if I make a little mistake, or push the wrong pedal for a second, it doesn't really stress me out). I always make sure that the last note of the postlude has a huge phatty bass on it. That's the best part of playing the organ.

Yesterday the bishop came up to say hi to me as I was playing the postlude (he does that sometimes, which I think is really nice), and i asked him who I should call or talk to in order to figure out what hymns were chosen, so I wouldn't have to sightread every week. He said something about how some new committee was deciding it and making a list or something for a few months in advance and something rather yadda yadda, which means that someone is working on it, but in the meantime, I'll probably still be sightreading for the next three months.

Remember when I used to go to Sacrament meeting and just be there? I had no idea it could be so much more exciting.


Friday, January 23, 2009


Have you ever been somewhere quiet, like in a full testing center, and realized, "Hey, I could yell really loud right now"? I have no idea why anyone would do such a thing, but the impulse is there all the same.

The urge to yell strikes me most frequently during prayers in church (terrible, I know--is this some sort of spiritual deficiency on my part?), during concerts, and, occasionally, during movies. In fact, when I was watching Harry Potter 4 for the first time, I had to stop myself from yelling, "Don't do it, Frank!" at the beginning. It was a midnight showing, and I wasn't sure if the audience would laugh or be annoyed, so I just kept silent.

On the other hand, I do tend to bust out the opera singing in parking garages and parking lots late at night, and I like to make fun noises down hallways and chambers that have a good echo. I suppose that will have to suffice for allowable distruptions for now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

HP--Numbers Answered

The answer to the previous post is "c. How many times Betty saw the movie in the theatre." I think I forgot to mention that it was a quiz of sorts. Sorry. But now you know the answer:

I saw the first movie 13 times in the theatre. Do you know how long that is? That's over one entire day of my life spent watching this movie. I'm still shocked at this fact. I'm even more shocked when I remember that 8 of those were before the movie went to the dollar theatre.

The second movie I saw 7 times in the theatre.

The third movie, 10 times. I would have seen it more, since it is so exceptionally done, but it went away before I could do so (I was in California at the time, and the sole one-dollar theatre, which closed not long after that movie, was actually a $4 theatre).

The fourth movie I only saw 4 times. I don't know why. Probably because I had no money.

The fifth movie I didn't see at all, since I was on a mission. I've seen it since, and am convinced I didn't miss much.

I can't wait to see the sixth movie, and I can't wait to see how many times I'll see it. Maybe just once on opening night, but when it hits the cheap theatre... It's anyone's guess.

Friday, January 16, 2009

HP--A Question of Numbers

13-Sorcerer's Stone
7--Chamber of Secrets
10-Prisoner of Azkaban
4--Goblet of Fire
0--Order of the Phoenix

The above numbers refer to:

a. How many different copies of the books Betty has.
b. How many different languages Betty has the books in.
c. How many times Betty saw the movie in the theatre.
d. How many times Betty has seen the movie.
e. How many costumes she has of different people in the book.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Harry Potter

I can remember when the fourth Harry Potter book came out, Mother Edit asked me if I wanted to go with her to Barnes and Noble at midnight. I wrinkled my nose in disgust.

"Harry Potter?" I asked with contempt. "Heck no. I don't read Harry Potter."

I'd noticed that some wild fanaticism had begun to sweep the nation, and I, not liking to blindly follow the crowd, had no intention of being swept up with it. I was, however, curious (it is a weakness I have), though I would never admit it. I would not become one of those Harry Potter nuts. But deep down I knew I didn't want to read Harry Potter because I would probably love it.

Later that same year, I went to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my friend in Las Vegas. Her brother happened to have the books, and I picked up the first one to read just a little bit to see how it was. I started the first page with a critical eye, expecting to be appalled at just how horrible the writing was, just how plot-driven and empty the novel was, and just how ridiculous everyone was being about the books. But within pages, my critical eye had disappeared, and my imagination had taken over. I was lost. It was over. Harry Potter had won the battle before I even got to chapter two.

The next day I read the second book. The day after that, the third. Then there was a mad dash to every bookstore in Las Vegas in an attempt to find the fourth book, which my friend's little brother had loaned to a friend (how could he?). Luckily I found it, and devoured it as I had the last three.

Thus began my love of Harry Potter.

I still love Harry Potter. In rereading the books, I find myself getting absorbed, just like I did the first time (and no, this is not my first rereading--if you knew the extent of my love of Harry Potter you would probably call me a freak, which actually has happened before, so I'm kind of used to it). My critical eye is present during these readings, and I do edit a little here and there as I go, but honestly, I like her writing. The books are gripping. They are fantastic. Is she a perfect writer? Oh, heck no. But who is?

And now you know my secret: I love Harry Potter.

I think I may share some of my Harry Potter-related exploits. Those might make for some fun reading.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

25 Things I Am Grateful For Today

1. Friends
2. Cell phones
3. Snow
4. Cinnamon rolls, especially the kind with walnuts and raisins in them
5. Roommates who give me cinnamon rolls (should that come before #4?)
6. My job
7. The Gospel (ok, these are not in order)
8. Band-aids and Neosporin
9. Crazy socks
10. Brothers who give me crazy socks
11. Brothers who write me thank-you notes
12. Sisters who write me emails
13. My car
14. My bed
15. Sunshine
16. Winter
17. Sunshine in winter
18. Milk to go with cinnamon rolls
19. TRAX
20. Happiness
21. Choices
22. Freedom
23. Faith
24. Time
25. Life

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Most years I avoid making official new year's resolutions, as I prefer to set goals on my own schedule. If anyone asks, however, I just tell them the two "new year's resolutions" I've had every year for the past 8 years:

1. Eat more chocolate.

2. Read more Harry Potter.

The advantage to having these resolutions is that if I do accomplish them, I have therefore accomplished my goal, and can rejoice. If I fail, however--by eating less chocolate or reading less Harry Potter--it doesn't really matter because it's probably healthier anyway. It's a win-win situation, and I don't have to worry when December rolls around about whether or not I achieved my goals for the year. Plus I can actually remember what those goals are.

This year, however, I've determined to set some official New Year's Resolutions. I haven't actually decided what they will be, but I'm thinking about it. My goal for this week is to decide. How do you like that? A goal to set a goal.

Ironically, I'm rereading the Harry Potter books right now, so if I never end up setting my goals, I'll at least have accomplished my fallback resolution. I'll wait until later in the year (until after the holiday sugar overload wears off) to worry about the chocolate.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

100 Things, Part 4

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London

I've been to London, and I've seen the guard, and they happened to be changing, but it wasn't really all that exciting. I've been in marching band. Now that's exciting.

77. Broken a bone

My toe. That was before I drank a million gallons of milk a week.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

Speeding... Well, that depends on your definition of speeding. Elegyrl and I are supposed to rent a Harley and take a trip sometime, but we haven't nailed down the specifics yet (or the means).

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

Do you ever come to the edge of a really tall drop and just want to fling yourself out into the open air? It doesn't help that I fly so well in my dreams. Needless to say, I didn't jump.

80. Published a book

Still working on that.

81. Visited the Vatican

No, but I've been to Temple Square.

82. Bought a brand new car

Brand new to me, yes.

83. Walked in Jerusalem

New Jerusalem, yes; Old Jerusalem, no.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

Who hasn't?

85. Read the entire Bible

Yes. And there's some mighty interesting stuff in there.

86. Visited the White House

Blah. Sometimes too much stock is set in these hugely famous landmarks. Just going to a place does not make you a better person.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

I do not kill animals to eat.

88. Had chickenpox

Yes, with my sister. Isn't that sweet?

89. Saved someone’s life

How am I supposed to know? I don't think they'd tell me if I had.

90. Sat on a jury

Got out of that one by moving to Utah...

91. Met someone famous

Lots of someones, actually. Yeehaw.

92. Joined a book club


93. Lost a loved one

... It's kind of complicated...

94. Had a baby

Do you think I'd have time to do silly things like this if I had a baby?

95. Seen the Alamo in person

It looked just like the picture.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

That's disgusting.

97. Been involved in a law suit

No, but I've written letters. I am a letter writer.

98. Owned a cell phone

That would be interesting to determine the percentage of bloggers posting this same blog who had never owned a cell phone. I am guessing there are not too many.

99. Been stung by a bee

Dang bees.

100. Totally copied a post from someone else's blog to your own

Ha, ha, this is supposed to be funny and ironic because it shows that you just did that so of course you would have to make it bold and everyone would read it and laugh ha ha ha.

And that's how I feel about those 100 things.