Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jillian's Infinite Playlist

Recently, I read a blog about how everyone has their own personal "Sountrack" of their life. Songs that define you as a person, songs that you can relate to certain moments in your life, songs that you turn to for comfort, songs that stop you in your tracks when you hear them because they just mean that much to you.

My soundtrack? It would be a flippin' long one. Music is such an important part of my life. From the time I was a little kid, when my family used to tour around the back roads of the Pontiac listening to tapes, or on the Saturday nights we got to stay up late and Dad would take out his guitar, music was infused into my life. In high school, I was the girl who would put off homework to sit on the floor and make mixed tapes by recording all my favourite songs off the radio.

And now, in adulthood, God has blessed me with this little thing called iTunes, which allows me to download songs and create my own playlists. For me, it's a source of endless entertainment. I get to play DJ in my own little world. I've made myself tons of different mixes and playlists - but I've never tried, before now, to compile the "Soundtrack to my Life". It's a daunting task to me - to shave my vast and ever-growing eclectic MP3 library down into a neat-and-tidy list that defines me and my life.

But I'm going to try. So here, in no particular order, is my Soundtrack. I'll try to give a little explanation beside each, so you know why that song made my list. Here it goes...

All Shook Up - Elvis Presley: Impossible to not have Elvis on my list. He's my dad's favourite singer, so I heard a lot of him growing up. But not until recent years have I truly begun to appreciate the King. This was my favourite when I was a kid (when I thought it was called "Amashookah"), and it has stood the test of time. It still makes me want to dance!

Love Lifted Me - Kenny Rogers: Yes, this would be taking things back to those days of driving the back roads with my parents in the front and all three of us kids crammed into the back. Kenny Rogers' greatest hits tape was a popular choice (we only had a few to pick from!) - and while everyone else waited anxiously for "The Gambler", it was "Love Lifted Me" that I wanted to hear.

Forever and Ever Amen - Randy Travis: Seeing Randy Travis in concert this past winter was pretty cool for me. This song was also a staple of those Sunday afternoon drives, but it also makes me think of my teen sister being madly in love with a park ranger on one of our family camping trips to Achray Station in Algonquin Park - Mr. Ranger played it once around our campfire, so she had to buy the cassette, and for months afterwards, we heard it over and over and over again...AMEN!

The Sign - Ace of Base: Ok, I'm sure you're thinking this is one helluva lame choice for the Soundtrack to my life...But for a very long time, during my latter years as an elementary school kid, this was THE song. When it came on the radio, it was like the world stood still for a few minutes while I danced and sang along.

Cover Girl - The New Kids on the Block: Another of those songs of my youth - again, a bit against the grain; this wasn't NKOTB's biggest hit. But it was the song I made up dance moves to. And sometimes, my Donnie doll danced with me.

I Think We're Alone Now - Tiffany: I wouldn't be a girl from the late '80's/early '90's if I didn't have this song on my list. The neighbourhood kids used to do airbands in the garage to this song. (They made me be the drummer). In high school, it made a reprise - we rarely had a sleepover that this song didn't get played at least once. And even now, when the girls all get together, and after a few drinks are down, you can almost bet that Tiffany will hit the stereo...

The Graduation Song (Friends Forever) - Vitamin C: If this song hadn't hit the airwaves in the year 2000? I probably wouldn't have cared much for it. But being the high school grads of the year 2000, it seemed only fitting that we would have the most iconic graduation song ever released just in time for our big day. Stacy wrote the lyrics out in my yearbook, and everyone was listening to it on their discmen in preparation for our Grad. June 2000 = Vitamin C in my memories!

American Pie - Don McLean: It's a song that has always intrigued me, and one of the greatest songs to belt out with a bunch of friends at the top of your lungs. Young Family Christmas Eves have featured it many a time. The original is over 7 minutes long. My family? We can stretch it out for a good 15 minutes...

Long Time Running - The Tragically Hip: I'm a huge Hip fan, so many of their songs hold memories for me. They were my first concert; the first band I truly became obsessed with. This song is special for a particular reason. A certain dance, with a certain boy - a long time coming... it was well worth the wait.

The Green, Green Grass of Home - Elvis Presley: Back when my dad was a little more of a party animal, he'd pick up a guitar and run through a string of songs that were his "standards". Now, he no longer smokes or drinks, and he plays the guitar so little that when he does, we only get one song out of him, and it's always this one. It's still music to my ears.

All I Want is You - U2: It was the song my sister and her husband chose to be sung at their wedding by my cousin Troy. Since the day he sat down in our living room and played it for them, it has been my favourite U2 song. I'm proud to say I can now play it on my guitar, too.

Boom Boom Pow - The Black Eyed Peas: A little too soon to be choosing this for the Soundtrack of my life, you say? Considering it's at the top of the charts right now, and the big hype on the pop music scene, you might be right. But I'm pretty sure when I look back on this time in my life, I'll still get those words stuck in my head. I like that Boom Boom POW!!!

Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind: Remember when I said I spent hours as a teen making mixed tapes for myself? For a long time during that phase, this was MY song. I think I taped it every time it came on the radio - just in case, ya know, one of the tapes broke or something, then I'd have lots of copies. When I finally got the CD, I still taped it, just in case I one day lost the CD, or it broke too. Hearing this song today still makes me burst into a huge grin.

I Put My Blue Jeans On - Keith Urban: Road trips with the girls - before there were boyfriends and babies - during our party and "chase-the-band" phase. The girls always teased me for singing it wrong. It makes me think of summer days, driving around with the windows rolled down, hair blowing everywhere, and not a care in the world.

The Middle - Jimmy Eat World: This song has got me through some tough times in my life, especially during college, when it seemed like all my friends had boyfriends, and I felt like I had no one. This song can always get my chin back up, and fill me with positive hope.

Free Fallin' - Tom Petty: It's the first tune I learned to play by myself on guitar, so I have that connection to the song. It's also in one of my favourite movie moments - when Jerry Maguire is driving and looking for a "celebration song", it comes on the radio and he belts it. When I'm in my car, and it comes on the radio, I do the same as Tom Cruise did in the movie - I bang on my steering wheel and sing at the top of my lungs.

Fix You - Coldplay: I love this song. It sends shivers up my spine, and raises the hairs on the back of my neck. My goal in life is to one day have someone love me this much; that when I'm broken and beaten and at my lowest, there will be that guy who will do everything he can to fix me.

Sandy - John Travolta in Grease: Grease is my all-time favourite musical, so I had to pick one of the awesome songs from the soundtrack for my Soundtrack. I chose "Sandy", because that's the one my friend Sara and I occasionally break into song with - spontaneously, and I'm not even sure why we do it, but there's nothing more satisfying than singing it loudly and watching everyone around us look at us like we're completely nuts! Oooo, and the cool sexy talking part in the middle? LOVE it!

Drops of Jupiter - Train: Another song that makes me think of a certain boy who was a pretty big part of my life at one time - even though he didn't even know it.

Song 2 - Blur: I will always associate this song with the Ottawa Senators, especially those glorious early years of when I first became a fan of the team, and this became their own personal theme song. They played it everytime the team scored, and during the playoffs, fans would whip around their "Woo Hoo" towels and sing along. Those were good times...

Here for a Good Time - Trooper: This is my anthem. When the weekend rolls around, this song is exactly what I'm all about. And it reminds me of the good times with friends who I don't see as often, or who don't come out as much anymore. It's about embracing the moment, because it might not last long, and the sun can't shine everyday.

Love You 'Til the End - The Pogues: In my mind, this is the ultimate love song. It's wistful and melodic and Irish-sexy. One day, I hope to dance to this song at my wedding.

So there you have it - a very abbreviated Soundtrack of My Life...And I'm sure as soon as I post this, I'm going to think of a hundred other songs that should be on here. As my life continues, I'm sure there will be a ton more that can be added. It's an ever-changing list, as life brings new twists and turns.

With each step, there will always be a song.

(Want to share your own soundtracks? Feel free to post 'em in the comments section!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Everybody Loves an Underdog: Kris Allen Wins!!

It wasn't exactly David vs. Goliath on last night's finale of American Idol.

Both Adam Lambert and Kris Allen were worthy of standing side-by-side on that stage last night, as just under 100 million record-setting votes were tallied to decide who would be this season's victor. Both had turned in strong performances; both had large legions of fans behind them.
However, due to the judges' touting Adam as the heavy favourite from early on in the competition, and from much of what I'd heard and seen from the on-line pundits in the past few weeks, it seemed unlikely that Kris would be able to work his way out of the underdog shadow to steal the crown from Adam's capable hands.

But to compare the two was to compare apples to oranges. Adam Lambert, in his dark-goth clothing and jet-black hair, was an all-out rock singer who could hit notes a la Steven Tyler. From the performances I witnessed, he has one of the best rock voices I'd ever heard. When Paula called him 'iconic' on the final performance night, she was not joking. Adam Lambert, no matter what the final results, is destined for big things in the music industry.

Kris Allen? You could call him the exact opposite. He exuded a laid-back, innocently-sexy vibe, opting most often for faded jeans and button-down shirts, and he could usually be found with an acoustic guitar in hand, which blended well with his smooth, sweet voice. Man, I'm a sucker for a guy with a guitar. Especially one who looks as good as he does! Kris would fall into the-boy-next-door category. And I'll be honest - I wish he lived next door to me.

The one thing Adam and Kris seemed to have in common? I'm not sure the Idol stage has ever boasted two such sincerely nice, unassuming, well-mannered young men, which Simon Cowell complimented them on last night before Ryan Seacrest declared the winner. They truly were worthy of their fans' admiration

Despite my adoration for Kris, I was completely expecting an Adam Lambert win. And I would not have been disappointed or angry if his name had been called out as the new American Idol. On the final performance night, Adam had probably the highlight of the show with his new-age take on Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come". He absolutely tore that song apart - in a really good way.

That being said, Kris nailed the first round of the night when he chose to perform again "Ain't No Sunshine". He clearly out-shone Adam's "Mad World", and Cowell actually came right out and said, "Round 1 goes to Kris." After Adam's "A Change is Gonna Come", though, Kris' version of "What's Goin' On" didn't wow the judges. They told him it was a little too light, not quite up to the standards for that special night. Simon told him it reminded him of a bunch of guys sitting around with guitars strumming away in a light-hearted sing-along.

For me? His stripped-down, acoustic version of the Marvin Gaye hit was beautiful and poignant and wonderful. And give me that group of guys with guitars any day over the glam rocker.

Then both guys took on the Idol winner's single, "No Boundaries", co-written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardia. It was just meh for me. Neither one of them overly impressed me with it, but I think at the end of the day, it was a song meant more for Kris' style than Adam's. I wish they didn't end every season with the "winner's single" - it's always a little hokey, and ends it all rather anti-climaticly, I think.

I can't comment much on how last night's super-extended finale went, because I missed 3/4 of it, but I tuned in for the important part. After being joined on-stage by the remaining members of Queen, as well as the rest of the Top 13, for a spectacular rendition of "We Are the Champions", Kris and Adam stood together at centre stage and waited to find out who was #1.

When Seacrest announced Kris' name, I was absolutely thrilled! In one of the biggest upsets in Idol history, Kris Allen stole the title away from his strong competitor and claimed the American Idol crown! The look of complete shock and disbelief on Kris' face told the whole story. I think even he thought Adam was a given. When Ryan shoved a mic in his face, his first words were, "Are you serious? Are your friggin' SERIOUS??"

At the end of the day, I think Kris appealed more to the masses. His sweet, soulful image would win over the moms and grandmas watching at home, more so than Adam's guyliner and black painted fingernails. Either way, they both played hard and exceeded expectations. I think it's safe to say they both impressed and either one of them could have claimed the title.

But everbody loves an underdog. And I was so happy to see Kris win!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Oh My God! OH MY GOD!! It's GEORGE!!"

I tried to keep it quiet, but if my roommates heard me gasping those words last night as the season finale of Grey's Anatomy wound down, then I'll have to apologize. Between the sobbing and the tears, I just couldn't control myself.

What an end to the season!

Amidst rampant rumours that both Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight (the actors who play Izzie Stevens and George O'Malley) are both leaving the show, I somewhat expected there to be a bit of drama involving those two as the Season Finale began.

Izzie's drama was obvious - for weeks, we've known about her having Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, that spread to her liver and brain. Last week, in one heckuva tear-jerker, she and Alex got married (*sigh!*), and they teed up this 2-hour finale by indicating Izzie was possibly heading into surgery that might or might not kill her.

But George? I had no idea what was going to happen to George. If anything was going to happen to George.

I wasn't shocked when he announced that he was joining the army. I figured right there, that was his way off the show. No grisly demise for sweet, adorable George, thank God. Just headin' off to Iraq to be a trauma surgeon, leaving behind the possibility of returning someday. Or dying in the war. I could deal with that.

But I was a little pissed when he seemed completely absent in the second half of the finale. We barely got to see George at all this season, so you'd think, on the day they were shipping his character off to war, he might get a little more screen time, huh?

Instead, the story focussed on a man, a "John Dowe", who was brought in, completely mangled after being hit and dragged by a bus. The fact that he was alive was an absolute miracle. He jumped in front of the bus to save a woman who he had only spoke to for 30 seconds, on the street corner. She stayed by his side at the hospital, declaring to the world that this man was her hero, her prince charming, and if he survived, she would never leave him. This brought up conversation amongst the doctors. Would you jump in front of a bus to save a complete stranger? It's a tough question, and as they said, we'd all like to think we would, but come crunch time, only the truly amazing people of the world would do something so selfless and courageous.

The doctors worked on him mercilessly. Once, during a quiet moment, he tried to write something with his finger on Meredith's hand. She offered him a pen, which he wasn't strong enough to hold.

The only mention of George? Well, they were trying to organize an "intervention" amongst his friends at the hospital - Bailey, Callie, Meredith, Cristina, Alex, even Izzie - to stop him from leaving for the army the next day. They planned to catch him after he was done the surgery he was scheduled to scrub in on.

Meanwhile, Izzie's surgery was successful - or so they thought. Until she woke up and they discovered her short-term memory was shot. Alex spent the whole day making signs for her so she would stop asking the same questions over and over, then he exploded in a burst of frustration at her, which upset her. Then, feeling guilty, he asked if she'd forgotten yet, to which she simply replied, in a clearly hurt voice, "Nope."

It wasn't until much later on in the day that they realized she still hadn't forgotten Alex's angry rant. Cristina ran to tell him that Izzie's memory was coming back. All joy and sunshine at Seattle Grace!!

Ha. Ya, right. It was at about the same time that the crew started to get together for their intervention with George, but the Chief informed them that O'Malley had never scrubbed in for the surgery. After learning that it was his last day before joining the army, the Chief had told him to go home and spend it with his mother.

Cut to John Dowe's hospital room, where he was once again trying to tell Meredith something by writing in the palm of her hand with his finger. This time, rather than trying to give him a pen, she stopped and paid attention: "O...O...7...O...O..7..." she murmured over and over. And that's when we got it, all at the same time...George's nickname, given to him in Season 1 after he almost killed a patient during a routine appendectomy - 007, Licence to Kill.

And cue the gasping, the sobbing, the muffled cries of "Oh my God! OH MY GOD!! It's GEORGE!!"

The last ten minutes finished in a whirlwind of emotion. Alex rushes to Izzie's side to celebrate her returning memory, and she falls unconscious in his arms.

The doctors of the hospital all jump to action, dividing themselves between Izzie and the newly-discovered George. In Izzie's room, they disregard her "Do Not Resuscitate" papers and fight to save her life while Alex watches in desperation, tears rolling down his cheeks.

In George's room, they rush to save him with a renewed sense of urgency, now that they know who is, but he flatlines also.

And then, they flash to Izzie, getting on the elevator in her gorgeous pink prom dress - the one she was wearing the night Denny died. She presses the buttons, goes up, and when the doors open, there is George standing before her, in full military uniform, his hair buzzed in an army cut, smiling at her, while Meredith's voice-over commands us all to make sure you tell the ones you love how much they mean to you while you still can, because you never know when it might all end.

Dear Lord. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes as I type...

What a finale!!

So officially - we are led to believe that there's a possibility that both Izzie and George died, but it wasn't entirely clear. Ack. I hate cliff-hangers...A whole summer of wondering! Likely it's due to the fact that they are unsure of both of their contracts, and this ending leaves it open for either or both of them to come back after the summer. Or not.

For the record? I can't imagine Seattle Grace without Izzie and George. It won't be the same for me if they are both gone.

But if it does happen? If we've seen the last of Drs. Stevens and O'Malley?

Boy, did they go out with a bang.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kris Allen vs. Adam Lambert: AI Show-Down!!

I didn't intentionally ignore American Idol this season.

In fact, I watched a couple of the audition-round episodes for kicks, 'cause it's always fun to laugh at those half-wits who promise that they "WILL be the NEXT AMERICAN IDOL!" get up there in front of the judges and completely fall flat on their faces.

But somewhere in there, as a result of my busy evening schedule combined with a lack of interest in anyone I had seen through the few early episodes I caught, I stopped watching regularly. Occasionally, when the roomies were watching, I'd tune in, but it always seemed the only guy I ever saw perform was some dude named Anoop. And he didn't exactly rock my world.

However, the odd time, I did catch a glimpse of this one handsome guy, and the little snippets I saw of his performances were always quite good. His name was Kris Allen, and I thought to myself, If I was following Idol more closely, he'd probably be my guy. Even so, I never put him up in the ranks of Chris Daughtry, Greg Neufeld, or the Pigott Brothers - my other Idol faves of the past. After all, some early preliminary research nailed down the fact that the boy was already married, so he lost some of his "magic". A man that young-looking and so adorably cute and boyish shouldn't be already tied down. That's just depressing for we single girls of the world.

Nevertheless, I was pleased when I read an Idol re-cap last week on the 'Net and discovered that Kris had survived another cut and was now in the Top 3. Oh, and that Anoop lad was long gone. It also seemed that this other competitor, Adam Lambert, was the judges' darling, and having never seen him before, I was intrigued to see how he stacked up against Kris.

Suddenly, this week's episode took on new significance for me. Suddenly, I was back in the Idol groove!

Kris had heavy competition this week. As it turns out, Adam Lambert is the 'judges' darling' for good reason. Buddy can siiiiiing. This week, Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon had him perform "One" by U2, and then he himself chose to rock out to Aerosmith's "Cryin'". Yowzers. When he hits those big notes, it's hard not to get the shivers down the spine. I quickly realized why they've been touting him as the front-runner in all the headlines for weeks now.

Then there was Danny Gokey. He reminded me of Steven Page, former Barenaked Lady, in appearances, and I didn't recognize his first song, so I wrote him off quickly. But then, for his second song, he selected "You Are So Beautiful" and re-worked the arrangement - it was pretty cool. And I couldn't deny that he had an amazing voice.

Kris disappointed me with his first performance. The judges handed him "Apologize", and he played it safe behind the piano, and while it was a decent effort, it didn't wow me. Could be because I don't really like that song to begin with. Either way, I was afraid for him.

Then suddenly he stepped out for his second song, and ka-bam - Kris was back, baby! All alone, with his acoustic guitar, performing a bare-bones, gritty, original take on Kanye West's "Heartless". It was awesome. Easily one of my most favourite performances that I've ever seen on any Idol show. I loved it. Loved it. Even better - so did the judges! Not even Simon could say a bad thing about it. He told Kris he had totally altered everything with that one performance.

So last night, I avoided most of the 1-hour results show, tuning in just at the end to find out if Kris made it through or not. If he didn't, then next week's finale really wouldn't hold much interest for me. If he did, though, then everything would be altered for me, too. With Kris Allen in the final, based solely on that Kanye West cover, I would then be highly anticipating the grande finale!

Seacrest had to send somebody back to safety first. Despite Kris' amazing performance, I expected that Adam would be the first person selected for the Final 2, because as much as I love Kris, Adam is, undeniably, the big gun of this competition. So it was with great delight that I watched him officially anoint Kris the first contestant in next weeks finals!! I was absolutely thrilled to know that I have one more week to watch that adorable, sweet face and smooth, sexy voice.

So that left Adam & Danny - one going home, one on the verge of glory. They did the long, prolonged pause and flashed the cameras on the judges' tense faces - could it be? Was it possible that Adam was the one going home???...

Nah. He made it too. Danny was sent packing, leaving Adam in the finals with Kris.

And while I'm sure Adam Lambert is still a lock to win the Idol crown, Kris' interpretation of "Heartless" had to have garnered him some new fans. I know it definitely worked on me. Cowell has declared him the dark horse, and they're claiming this could be one of the most intense show-downs in the history of Idol.

It all comes down to next week...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Flyers Fever Hits Q-Town

There may actually be people in the world who don't realize it's ball season.

I don't think any of them live in Quyon, though.

The Quyon Flyers kicked off their 2009 fastball season with a flurry of activity over the past 4 days. First of all, on Saturday morning, they hosted a clinic for kids to give them some tips on the ball field. Kudos to the Flyers for running this event again this year. The town loves having fastball, and it's great to see the guys giving back to the community this way. I've heard several reports from some of the children involved, and they were all thrilled and excited, not only to learn more about how to play the game, but also just to be out on the field with the Flyers. Believe it or not, some of the kids even idolize the players! haha! But in all seriousness - it truly is a good day for the kids in town, and they - quite literally - had a ball.

Following the clinic, the Flyers then played some exhibition games. Word on the street is it was too cold & windy to be watching ball, so I'm glad I skipped them!

Monday night, the Flyers hit the road for their first game of the season, in Greely against the DNTW Eagles, where they walked away with a huge 10-1 mercy win. They were looking to continue their early-season momentum by playing a second consecutive evening, with their first home game in Q-Town last night. A nice crowd turned out to see the Flyers take on WC Electric...Or maybe the fans were gathered just to find out who would win the "Basket of Awesome" that players have been selling tickets on all spring! The fact that the team offers up a 2-for-$5 offer on beer doesn't hurt attendance either...Beer sales seemed to be brisk last night.

No matter what the reason for showing up, the Flyers' faithful went home happy after the game. The home team had another decisive victory, a 7-0 mercy win over the squad from Fitzroy, with Drew Hathway throwing a great game. The Flyers had a good night at the plate also, as Joe McCleary, Steve McCord, Hathway, Nick Armitage, and my own baby brother Lukey all went 2-for-3 at bat.

And then, once everyone was huddled under the beer shelter after the game, they finally drew the name of the winner of that tempting Basket of Booze. The winner, who was actually there to see his name drawn, was Jason Campbell.

I was severely disappointed, as I had chatted up the Texas mickey of Crown Royal, and I was certain it wanted to come home with me. However, Jason kindly tossed one of his bottles of Jagermeister back into the mix, having the team draw another winner for it, with the stipulation being that the person must be there to claim their bottle. After drawing many names of people who weren't there, they finally pulled one of the tickets that Brenda, Hollie, Vicky and I had purchased at the last minute - so the BJHV girls will be enjoying some Jagerbombs in the near future!