Monday, November 29, 2010

iPod giveaway

I usually don't play Facebook games, but I made an exception today because I was tagged in a note that said I had to participate.  Actually, the idea behind the activity was kind of interesting, and went along with something that's been on my mind anyway.  So, why not?

In this game, the participant is presented with a list of questions like "How are you feeling?", "What is your goal in life?", and "What do you think about often?"  Going down the list, the participant clicks the "next" button on their MP3 player's shuffle mode, and the name of whatever song appears is entered as the answer to the question on which the participant happens to be.  For example, when asked "What's your motto?", I answered, "Take A Bow."

I sensed some consistencies in my answers, as well as in the answers of a couple friends who participated.  And I was finally led to the one-sentence expression of my recent thoughts: 

You can really learn something about a person by going through their iPod.

"For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).  I believe something similar can be applied to our individual collections of music.  Typically, we listen to the music we like.  And we like it for a reason.  I won't make an attempt to describe what some reasons might be; I can put words to some of my feelings, but music transcends every human explanation and acts, in effect, as a window to the very soul.

That's why I've posted so many videos on my blog lately, rather than writing much.  What a song can make us understand in four minutes, I would be lucky to even introduce in four pages of text.  There is so much about ourselves, our thoughts, and our very existence that we struggle to describe on our own.  But music seems to be made for that.  So, for example, instead of spending hours on a blog post entitled "Who I Am," and still get nowhere . . . I can simply link to something like Adagio and Transfiguration, and it would answer questions about who I am deep down, what I think about on a quiet night, and what I want to be.  Other musical posts might illustrate what's immediately on my mind (as I did with the lyrics to Have I Done Any Good?).  When I share a song, it's more than a song--it's an invitation into my soul.   

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this subject--and possibly even the songs that speak for you, if you're willing to share them.  We can learn a lot about each other without saying a word.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Mad Russian's Christmas

To kick off this Christmas season, I thought I'd highlight a moment from my Christmas in Texas last year. The occasion was a talent show at our mission conference. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked this particular piece to perform (suicide, maybe?), but it seemed to go over pretty well and was a blast to play.

Special thanks to my companion, Elder Allred. Without him turning pages and providing moral support through many practices and the show itself, I wouldn't have lasted up there.

Merry Christmas!

A Mad Russian's Christmas
Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The Lord wants you to have a spirit of gratitude in all you do and say. Live with a spirit of thanksgiving and you will have greater happiness and satisfaction in life. Even in your most difficult times, you can find much to be grateful for. Doing so will strengthen and bless you.
--For the Strength of Youth, p. 6

Gratitude creates the most wonderful feeling. It can resolve disputes. It can strengthen friendships. And it makes us better men and women. . . . Be grateful. Count your blessings and gifts and privileges and see just how long that list is.
--Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be!, pp. 18, 21

For more on gratitude, visit

Friday, November 19, 2010

Adagio and Transfiguration

A personal favorite.

Adagio and Transfiguration
from Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within
Elliot Goldenthal

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Matthew Cunningham conquers the sky

Matthew:  "I'm bored.  We should do something epic."

Me:  "I agree.  Let's do something epic."

Matthew:  "What epic thing shall we do?"

Me:  "I don't know what epic thing we shall do."

Matthew:  "How about a ride in the mountains?  That might be epic."

Me:  "A ride in the mountains would be epic, for sure.  Shall we take the car or the plane?"

Matthew:  "How about we take the plane today?"

Me:  "Sounds great.  You're driving."

This shot says, "Because we can."

More pictures:

Monday, November 15, 2010

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