Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Life Influences

I was lucky to hear famed writer and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom speak at the PRSA National Conference this morning. He did a wonderful job.

As he walked through a bit of his past, he mentioned how important several people have been in shaping his life (think Tuesdays with Morrie if you've read it). It seemed the theme of his entire speech (besides plugging his books), was to never forget those who have mentored you throughout your life -- both professionally and personally.

While he was speaking, my mind started to wander. Who has been the influencers in my life? To combat my questioning brain, I came up with a list.

The obvious influencers:

Grandma N.
She's the happiest lady ever, ever, ever. I have her to thank for my optimism and my ability to talk to make strangers feel comfortable.

Grandma B.
She's stubborn as heck and she never gives up. She taught me when you set your mind to something, gosh darn it, you gotta make it happen.

My dad is one of the smartest people I know. Not just the book smart stuff, but the street smarts, too. He's got a good combo for both and I think I was blessed with that half/half gene.

My mother has taught me the art of communication and expression. I've always been into a little bit of everything and I think it's because she exposed me to so many things at a young age -- both good and bad.

The not-so-obvious folks/things:

Mrs. Trader -- 4th grade teacher
When Mrs. Trader split our classroom up between the "smart" math kids and the "slower" math kids...I was put in the slow class, while all my friends left for the smart kid class. I think I cried myself to sleep for a week. But Mrs. Trader quickly saw my talent for other subjects -- English and the arts and reiterated to me that we all have our talents and mine just didn't happen to be math. To this day, I have her to thank for helping me to find where my talents lie.

I worked there for 2.5 years in high school. Contrary to the popular belief that Wal-Mart is the devil, they treated me well and paid me well. I met tons of great people while working there and was able to learn the true value behind obtaining a college degree. I was also able to save enough money to go on a trip to Europe and get through my first year of college, so I guess you could say it helped me with money management as well!

Mr. Bushey -- middle and high school choir teacher and neighbor
Anybody who went to high school with me will agree, Mr. B had the ability to make anyone feel at home. His classroom was more than just a place to sing...it was a place where I gained wonderful friends.

I just may have the bestest friends ever and I feel very fortunate in that regard. My friends have taught me the most important lesson ever -- when things get crazy, take a breath (or a drink!) and be sure to laugh.

I could name a thousand folks, but these are the cream of the crop. Who has influenced you? Think about it, it's pretty neat stuff.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Songs: Music by the Vitamin String Quartet

I flippin' love stumbling coming across random, great music.

Perhaps I'm out of the loop on these folks, but one of my most recent lucky finds is music by the Vitamin String Quartet. The songs they play aren't originals but orchestral versions of popular songs.

It's really interesting to hear a song that is so recognizable to you performed in a completely different style. But this isn't your average cover song...the strings being played can sometimes feel as if the entire meaning of the song has changed. Pretty amazing stuff.

The VSQ Tribute is a series of string quartet tribute albums, released by Vitamin Records and performed by several different groups of string quartets. From the Beatles and Paramore to Queen and Seether, the group has managed to bring a classical sound to some of the biggest songs in history by giving them a fresh, new sound.

Here's a few of my faves thus far:
Tribute to The Used - Taste of Ink
Tribute to Coldplay - Clocks
Tribute to System of a Down - Aerials
Tribute To The Killers - Mr. Brightside
Tribute to My Chemical Romance - I'm Not Okay
Tribute to Paramore - Crushcrushcrush
Tribute to Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Give them a listen. Even if your generally not a fan of classical music, I guarantee you'll appreciate this stuff. And it's so fun to sing along, too...It's like karaoke with strings!

Check out all of the Vitamin String Quartet's albums at VitaminRecords.com.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Song: "Detroit '67" by Sam Roberts

I love this song and the video is a great tribute to Detroit -- even though Sam Roberts is Canadian!

I love how it shows the grit and blight of Detroit, but also highlights the charm, beauty and history. Very well done!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Six Random Things

I feel honored the fabulous Supergirll tagged me in a meme and now it's my turn to talk about 6 unspectacular things about me, so here goes nothing:

1. I loathe drama-filled TV sitcoms, but I love all Bravo reality shows (with the exception of Real Housewives...).
2. My maiden name, Panaretos means of all virtues in Greek...or so I'm told!
3. My hubby would say the craziest thing about me is that I could have died twice...As a baby, I went down the basement stairs in my walker and I almost drown when I was two (my dad rescued me). I am still very clumsy...yet have never broke a bone.
4. I really, really, really love Taco Bell (most of you know this). And if Yum! Brands weren't based in California, I would LOVE to do PR for them...even though they probably induce millions of heart attacks each year.
5. I took ballet for 13 years, 3 of which was on point. Man, I give those real ballerinas credit. Bleeding toes were awful.
6. I provide TMI to almost everyone I encounter on a daily basis. I can't help it -- I'm very open!

Wasn't that enthralling? Now I tag Estrella10, Radiant Thoughts and randommsugirl!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Free Scoop of Ben & Jerry's to Voters

Just came across this sweet promotion from Ban & Jerry's and thought I'd share:

Come to participating scoop shops on November 4th from 5-8pm, show us you voted and you'll get a free scoop of ice cream. Show us your "I Voted" sticker, a photo of you in front of your polling station, do the "I Voted dance" or just tell us you voted.

Check here for the B & J's nearest you or to find out about other election events, check the Ben & Jerry's Facebook page.

I heart you Ben & Jerry's! Thanks for always keeping my ridiculous ice cream cravings satisfied.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Song: "Citizen/Soldier" by 3 Doors Down

Stop for a moment today to pray for a soldier. Remember what they give up to fight for you and me. Honor their sacrifice. Never forget that we live in the land of the free because of the brave.

There are days I forget we are in a war because I don't see it on a daily basis...To me, it's too scary to really think about the thousands of men and women my age (and much younger) fighting and dying in a war many do not believe in.

Citizen/Soldier was written by 3 Doors Down as a tribute to the National Guard and the lyrics convey the band's views regarding the actions performed by the military.

You may have already seen the music video, as it has appeared for awhile as a movie theater ads as part of a $24 million recruiting campaign targeting 18 to 24-year-olds. The campaign aims to build Guard enrollment as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to tap into the state-based units. Guard soldiers make up as much as half the ground troops in Iraq, with more than 224,000 members having served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. An additional 25,000 are leaving for Iraq this fall and 14,000 are deploying to Iraq and Kuwait in the spring.

The song's video explores the battles, victories and proud traditions of the National Guard from 1636 through today.

In general, I’m not a big fan of 3 Doors Down, however, this is a great tribute song and a great video. Check it out here and be reminded of why we need to be thankful for our troops that fight for our safety on a daily basis.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Treasure of Love

Jason and I received a beautiful wedding card (it's only four months late!) the other day and I liked the darn cheesy poem so much I've decided to transcribe it on here so I can have it forever:

The Treasure of Love
Sooner or later we begin to understand that
love is more than verses on valentines and romance in the movies.
We begin to know that love is here and now,
real and true, the most important thing in our lives.
For love is the creator of our favorite
memories and the foundation of our fondest dreams.
Love is a promise that is always kept,
a fortune that can never be spent,
a seed that can flourish in even the most unlikely of places.
And this radiance that never fades, this mysterious and magical joy, is the greatest treasure of all
one known only by those who love.
- Anonymous

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Song(s): Beatles Covers

OK, it's another week where I can't decide on just one specific Sunday song...so instead, I have another mini list.

I watched the 2007 flick Across the Universe last night and got inspired by all the amazing new spins on classic Beatles jams. It got my mind going...I have adored The Beatles since I found my parents extensive collection of their records in our basement when I was young. I tried to be hip and hang them on my walls with tacks, but of course that didn't fly for long (and thank goodness)...those babies could be worth something now-a-days!

The thing I enjoy the most about the music John, George, Ringo and Paul made is how their songs seem to transcend across all musical genres, hence my decision to make a list of my favorite Beatles covers by other artists.

Here's the list:
Joe Cocker — With a Little Help From My Friends (love this one esp. because of the show the Wonder Years!!!)
Fiona Apple — Across the Universe
Eddie Vedder — You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
Ben Harper — Strawberry Fields Forever (also love Ben's rendition of John Lennon's Beautiful Boy = tear jerker)

I highly recommend you take a listen. There's so many great Beatles covers out there, but as always, the originals can never be topped!