Writing

“Elton John”

by Amanda DeLalla

I told you once as we lied in bed
A memory that doesn’t leave my head
The fish was seared; there were lights on the tree
And for one night a year
I felt like I had a family
Sharing a laugh with my cousin Helene
Wine flowing free on a snowy scene
The music plays and the candles burn
Then in a week, the loneliness returns
The trouble with me is that I feel too much
Or do not feel enough
Or simply out of touch
Whatever I felt then, don’t worry, it’s gone
I’ve only got Christmastime
And Elton John
Fast forward to the summer and suddenly
You steal my heart, you’re loving me
And your song plays on a crocodile rock
I expected forever
I was in for a shock
To my soul you held the key
And now you wanna be a memory
Never mind, you’re already gone
Leaving me with Christmases
And Elton John
Why can’t things ever stay so simple?
People die, they despair, they have grown
Life won’t promise to be that simple
So I’ll wait and I’ll dream alone
Friday night, he holds me close

Candy canes and a silver bell and it snows
I can smile at him despite what we shared
The time is now; I’ve left it all there
Something’s in the air, could I ever move on?
Taking my Christmases
And Elton John

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Personals

Goodbye, Miss Kathleen: Reflection on a Teacher

“Goodbye Miss Kathleen,

From the young girl in the 22nd row

Who sees you as something more than what we know,

More than just our sophomore hero.”

Knowing the subject of this post in high school taught me some important lessons…and not just the ones I got from her classroom.

Kathleen Nolan taught a few religious studies courses at St. Joseph Hill Academy high school. She was a soft-spoken woman, probably in her sixties, with short mouse-brown hair and spectacles. She was rarely seen not wearing a sweater-and-long-skirt ensemble. This God-fearing educator was also fighting for social justice…as well as a long battle with cancer.

It was she who first told me to “keep things in perspective.” She was also one of the select people who found amusement (rather than annoyance) in my histrionics. At the innocent age of 15, I admired Ms. Nolan’s strength and tact, and yet her existence also confused me greatly. I couldn’t wrap my head around why such a gentle person had to suffer in such a manner. I remember crying over her more than once. Her cancer ultimately went into remission, but she still retired the following year.

Through my fleeting experience here, I learned that bad things would happen to good people. But I also figured out that if we spread charity and decency…and maintain optimism…happiness is still a very tangible goal.

I’ve sadly come to accept that I will never see Ms. Nolan again, at least not in this lifetime. I guess it’s often impossible for teachers to know whether or not they made a difference in their students’ lives. I think everyone fails to recognize just how many people drift in and out of his or her life; that doesn’t diminish their significance, though.

So…do as Ms. Nolan did…and be good to others.

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Music

Songs You Probably Didn’t Realize Are About Dark Things

Mind=blown.

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The clock at Grand Central Terminal waits for nobody.

“Blown Away,” Carrie Underwood. What it’s about: In this song from Underwood’s album of the same name, the story centers around a girl with a dead mother and an abusive, alcoholic father. When a tornado hits their Oklahoma home, the girl leaves her passed-out father as she locks herself in the storm shelter. We can assume that he is destroyed when the twister rips through the house. Ouch!

“Unworthy of Your Love,” Stephen Sondheim. What it’s about: At first glance, this number from the Broadway show Assassins sounds like a standard, beautiful love ballad. But it takes on an entirely different tone when you realize it’s being sung by Squeaky Fromme and John Hinckley- a wannabe Manson follower and Jodie Foster’s stalker, respectively. These two also attempted to assassinate U.S. Presidents in an effort to win their beloved’s attention. Now that’s what I call tainted love!

“I Don’t Like Mondays,” The Boomtown Rats. What it’s about: This staple rock song is deceptively catchy for such dark lyrical inspiration. The title comes from a quote by Brenda Ann Spencer, a troubled teen who was asked why she sniped ten people in a playground (two died). Though composer Bob Geldof received some flack for allegedly “exploiting a tragedy,” which he denies, the record became the Boomtown Rats’ biggest hit.

“Pumped Up Kicks,” Foster the People. What it’s about: In a similar vein, the earworm-worthy hook of this band’s debut single masks some morbid subject matter. When closely listening to the lyrics, it becomes clear that the song is about a school shooter, in the vein of Columbine. “Pumped up kicks” refer to the designer shoes worn by the narrator’s intended victims. The lead singer, Mark Foster, said that he wrote the piece to raise awareness for teen mental illness.

“Sweet Painted Lady,” Elton John. What it’s about: A majority of the tracks from Elton John’s smash Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album manage to be incredibly fun while telling some grim tales. In this slow, sea-soaked jam, a sailor sings of the prostitute he’s hired for the night and wonders how she feels about the life she leads. With its thoughtful lyrics by Bernie Taupin, the song achieves a certain poignancy.

“At the Ballet,” Marvin Hamlisch. What it’s about: This number from A Chorus Line is a semi-torch song for a trio of women. Typically sung by soubrettes, it conveys three distinct dramas that have something in common: their heroines all found relief when they went to the ballet. Sheila’s parents had a loveless marriage, Bebe’s mother made her feel unattractive, and Maggie’s father was absent entirely. Audiences who get lost in the glitter of the show tend to forget the inherent sadness of this scene.

Music

Puccini Does a 30 Song Challenge

So, folks…because I just found this challenge on another blog and feel like spinning the gears in my brain…the post I originally planned for this week has been postponed. Don’t worry- you’ll get it in time for October 1st! But let’s cut right to the chase.

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  1. Your favorite song- As of now, it’s “Wish That You Were Here” by Florence + the Machine, but ask me again tomorrow.
  2. Your least favorite song- I’d say “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus, but again, that could change tomorrow.
  3. A song that makes you happy- Totally cliche, but “Firework” by Katy Perry always lifts my spirits!
  4. A song that makes you sad- There are so many, but one that comes to mind is “She Used to Be Mine” from the musical Waitress.
  5. A song that reminds you of someone- Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” always makes me think of my boyfriend.
  6. A song that reminds you of somewhere- “Learning to Fly” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers makes me think of the Bronx. Don’t ask.
  7. A song that reminds you of a certain event- “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz always brings me back to Sweet 16 parties.
  8. A song that you know all the words to- Super random one…Sondheim’s “Can That Boy Foxtrot,” cut from the musical Follies.
  9. A song that you can dance to- I’m not a good dancer at all, but I love to boogie to some “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees.
  10. A song that makes you fall asleep- “Eternity~Memories of Light and Waves” from Final Fantasy X-2 always puts me in a calm, slumbering mood.
  11. A song from your favorite band- I’ve already mentioned them, so here, have a “Refugee” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
  12. A song from a band you hate- “Christian Woman” by Type O Negative scares the hell out of me. Yuck.
  13. A song that is a guilty pleasure- Easily “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy. I don’t care what anyone says, that was a 90s masterpiece.
  14. A song that no one would expect you to love- Since I normally don’t like EDM, you’d probably be surprised to know that I love David Guetta’s “Turn Me On.”
  15. A song that describes you- “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan sums up a lot of how I feel regarding my interactions with the world.
  16. A song that you used to love but you now hate- I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I don’t love Britney Spears’ “Sometimes” like I did when I was a kid.
  17. A song you hear often on the radio- Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” featuring Sean Paul. I love her, but it’s not one of her very best songs.
  18. A song that you wish you heard on the radio- I wish Kelly Clarkson’s “Invincible” got more radio play. It was released as a single, so not sure why it doesn’t.
  19. A song from your favorite album- “Last Friday Night (TGIF)” from Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream helps me relax and have fun!
  20. A song that you listen to when you’re angry- Definitely “Speechless” by Lady Gaga. It’s such an emotional song, and it often fits.
  21. A song that you listen to when you’re happy- “Let It Go” from Frozen! It makes me feel like I can do anything.
  22. A song that you listen to when you’re sad- I think “Human” by Christina Perri is both comforting and relatable for a sad person.
  23. A song you want to play at your wedding- Since forever, I’ve wanted my first dance song to be Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
  24. A song you want to play at your funeral- Ugh, how morbid. I guess if I had to pick, it’d be “Fix You” by Coldplay.
  25. A song that makes you laugh- Music doesn’t really make me laugh, per se, but “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot is a good one!
  26. A song you can play on a instrument- I’m a singer, but I did teach myself to play “76 Trombones” from The Music Man on piano.
  27. A song that you wish you could play- I’ve wanted to play “All I Ask of You” from Phantom because it makes for a gorgeous instrumental.
  28. A song that makes you feel guilty- I don’t have a great answer for this one…maybe John Mayer’s “Half of My Heart.”
  29. A song from your childhood- “Too Much” by the Spice Girls. They were a childhood obsession for me!
  30. Your favorite song at this time last year- Most likely, it was “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift. I still love it, but it’s not quite as relevant to me now.
Personals

Daily Prompt: Recharge (or, Because I Have Writer’s Block and Why Not?)

“I’m no princess. I have no carriage. I do not even know if that beautiful slipper would fit. But if it does, will you take me as I am? An honest country girl who loves you?”

Hi friends. Sorry I’ve been scarce. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks, and as you may know, I don’t always cope well with external stressors. Le sigh. But, I’m feeling better, and I am going to get stronger. And then, as the above quote from Cinderella implies, I’ll be able to ask it of someone…secure enough in my own skin…

I suppose you could say I am recharging my own batteries at the moment. I just need to believe that after it’s all said and done, I will be brought closer to where I wanna be, not further away. I do that by listening to relevant music (Elton John and Rachel Platten, anyone?), drinking lots of tea, and (of course) writing. In fact, I just sent one of my plays to a professional playwright for some feedback. And he actually had good things to say about it! He had some criticism, naturally, but overall it was a positively-spun evaluation. Thank goodness. Now if only I could determine how to apply his suggestions without a total revamp of my story…

Have you ever noticed that I use a lot of ellipses when I write…? I have.

Anyway, to make up, I will be penning a second entry this week. It’s going to be a review of something fun! Stay tuned- and thanks for sticking around.

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Music

Spotlight: Vinyl’s Amazing Comeback

Have you ever noticed how, in recent years, vinyl albums have made this enormous leap back into the public’s good graces? I don’t know how or why it’s happened, but the fact remains that I’m hearing (and seeing) more LP records in the past two or so years than I have in my entire life. Forget about children of the 80s or 70s…I’m talking people my age (20s-30s) buying record players and starting their own collection of vinyls. I asked my mom, a longtime worshiper and owner of dozens, what could be making them so appealing.

Her response: “I liked the cover art; it’s easier to appreciate it than on a little CD. There were also the jacket liners with different things printed on them- stories, information, lyrics, even posters inside. The sound has been made better with the newer ones…but I even liked to listen to the crackles!”

Seems like a legitimate explanation to me. In the remainder of this blog post, I’ll show you some of my favorite vinyls- both from Mom’s archives and modern ones I’ve seen in stores. For the latter, I will also tell you where to buy them and how much they cost. After all, this is one bandwagon that could be worth jumping on!

91atpdzmovl-_sx425_ Pitch Perfect 2 (Originally exclusive to Target, now on Amazon for $12)

inside_w_sleeves_vinyl The Last Five Years (Sh-K-Boom Records, $29.98 for deluxe edition)

tangled_vinyl_picture_sideahi-520x520 Songs from Tangled (Hot Topic, $26.50)

r-6194700-1429029503-8901-jpeg Songs from Frozen (Hot Topic, $26.50)

eltonjohngoodbyeyellowbrickroadle1 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Vintage)

r-1602165-1231459776-jpeg The Stranger (Vintage)

Uncategorized

30DDC- Day Twenty Nine

Favorite Overall Moment

Sorry this is late! And what a task stands  before me in this category. How on Earth am I supposed to pick the best overall moment in any Disney movie? Hmm…let me think about this…ah, I’ve got it!

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Yes, this is most definitely the one. And not just because my attitude while doing this challenge is basically, “When all else fails, pick something from The Lion King.” All joking aside- the “Circle of Life” scene in this film is a masterwork of visuals, music, and pure exhilaration. The words of the song are so meaningful. The sight of all the savanna animals is fascinating and beautiful. And ultimately, when the number culminates in Simba’s recognition as the next king, it all just becomes….I don’t know, life-affirming? Either way, “Circle of Life” is undoubtedly the greatest opener to a Disney movie, and quite possibly one of the greatest openers for film in general.

Uncategorized

30DDC- Day One

Favorite Movie

This one’s easy. My favorite Disney film is not just that, but may also be my favorite movie of all time. Period. I think it has everything a cinematic creation needs…beautiful visuals, a perfect mix of comedy and tragedy, a meaningful message, an all-star cast, and a fantastic musical score.

The Lion King makes me laugh, makes me cry, and makes me think. These, of course, are three top things that artists hope to do with what they produce. In that sense, I feel that this movie is a near-perfect work of art. What is your favorite Disney film of all time and why?