Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

One of my favorite days of all time: July 21, 2007.

If the HP 5 and HP 6 releases were a fun and exciting, then the HP 7 release was THE MOST FUN AND EXCITING THING EVER.

I literally took 150 pictures, screamed so much I lost my voice, set up a Harry Potter shrine to shame all others (see pic above. Yes, 98% of that is MINE.), threw 2 book 7 preparation parties (the second of which was on July 16 to celebrate book 6 and to play a final jeopardy game to determine preparedness level for book 7), made HP7 T-shirts and bookmarks for all my friends and family, organized a binder full of editorials from Mugglenet that added to my ideas about book 7, made a schedule and re-read books 1-6 in June and July, made 2 different countdowns 100 days out (one was a chain and the other a little box with cards in it), spent hours and hours on Mugglenet and to study, prepare, and check out new theories, rumors, and updates, recorded my own theories in detail, worked on a 3x5 HP character file system (complete with a note card giving details for each character in the series, and let's just say there are a lot), listened to Mugglenet's Mugglecast podcast everyday at the gym, collected more Harry Potter stuff, and so on.

I showed someone part of my Harry Potter collection the other day and they said, "wow. You have shown me a new way to be a fan." I think she got it. The enormity of the situation. The fact that when I am a fan of something, I am the biggest fan of something that you have ever come across. I am devoted.

And so, I once again spent the release with Nicole. And Judy and Shawn. My cousins and aunt who lovingly refer to me as "Potty." It originally came from "Audie Potty," but morphed into just "Potty" when the whole Harry Potter thing happened in my life.

We got our wristbands at the Bountiful Barnes and Noble at 3am on Friday morning (somehow we missed the wristbands at the Layton store- they did it a day early and didn't tell anyone. See picture on left with the green shirts), but still went to the Layton Barnes and Noble that night. Nobody cared. They did the bands in groups of the alphabet. We sat securely in line with our "A" bands. "A" is for "Audrey," "Awesome," and "Absolutely the most devoted Harry Potter fans ever because they came to get a wristband earlier than everyone else." We got our books at 12:01am, then rushed home to take even more pictures and read a ton. (picture below: Nicole and I being more excited than is probably healthy.)

The experience of reading those books for the first time is hard to describe. It just is. It. is. so. fun. so great. We laughed and cried and finished and then cried because we were done, and it was over. I mourned by joining the facebook group, "After page 759 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, my childhood ended."

But I love Harry Potter.

PS, I listened to HP7 all day at work today. It was magical. (picture to right: the gang. Those of us in festive Harry Potter shirts are obviously the coolest)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Harry Potter 6 day.

5 years ago today Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released. July 16, 2005.

In preparation, I read all the books and I made shirts in graphics class with Mr. Gardner. They were lime green with black letters so they matched the book.

I spent the weekend, once again, at my cousin Nicole's house in Syracuse, Utah. We went to Barnes and Noble in Layton, Utah, and were eleventh and twelfth in a line of hundreds of people. It was beautiful. I'm not sure I had ever been more excited about anything in my entire life.

We read and cried and did the Harry Potter Happy Dance (copyright Audrey and Nicole, 2005).

And when I got home I read it again and then again. And I used my experience at the midnight release for a paper I wrote for Mrs. Barben in AP Language. I think that makes me a big nerd. I then made the paper I wrote into a story book/scrapbook to forever cement the memories.

Once again, unexpected.

So this video was a great idea. And entirely unexpected.

Freddie. In a tux. And possibly wearing tennis shoes. Standing still, no powerful galumphing around the stage. Or bursting out in random dance moves. He is calm. But don't you just get the feeling that he is dying to burst out of the tux and run around a bit? Perform in his usual crazy way? My favorite part is during the third verse when he looks at the camera while he sings.

I love this song.

Back to the basics.

PS, I don't expect ya'll to read all of this. I know it's long and boring. And there are no pictures. And I'm not even funny in this post. But anyway.

My blog needs a little revamping. I've said before that "celebrities are actually a really big part of my life." I was joking. But when you look at my blog, you can see that celebrities, or singers and their music, are my hobbies. Music=never ending enjoyment. And the people who make music=fascinating.

Anyway, I need to expand the scope of what I have been talking about on this here supposed "autobiography" builder. So that's what this post is for.

I'm going to number everything like I used to, back when my blog was about ME.

1. I went to St. George last weekend for my friend Collette's wedding. I actually only got to attend the reception, but I was very happy to be there to support and celebrate her. I went with Elise and Moe (who is pregnant and super adorable, btw), and met Jen, Jon, and baby Eli there. We had a fabulous time feeling awkward standing in the back while we waited to greet the bride. Collette was on color guard with me, Moe, and Jen. We have way too many crazy memories with that girl. Let's just say that color guard would NOT have been the same without her. She certainly kept things interesting with her random bursts of laughter or anger and sometimes sneaky ways.

So while in St. George I was able to spend time with Moe and Jen, and my family. I always love the time I get to spend with my family. They love me way more than I deserve. I love living in Provo, and I love the friends I have here. It is so easy to get caught up in a BYU summer ward social life and stop caring about spending time with outside parties. I knew that I was going to St. George see Collette and my family, but I was in a hurry to get back to Provo because I didn't want to miss out on the fun- and the photo-ops for Lene's future facebook albums. It's interesting, though, that once I got home and took a deep breath, I didn't want to go back to Provo anyway. I had forgotten what peace there is at home and what comfort there is in knowing that the people around you love you more than anyone else in the world does. So when Elise, Moriah, Mom, and Dad tried to get me to stay an extra day, of course I said yes. Of course I wanted to stay in St. George. I just love them too much, and I love my city too much. The longer I was there, the longer I wanted to stay. There were so many more things that I wanted to do while I was there, so many things that I didn't have time for. And when I finally pulled out of my driveway on Monday afternoon, I actually almost shed a tear. My family stood in the driveway to wave goodbye, and I just wanted to stay and take care of them. Wanted to be there to make sure that they were happy and had everything they needed. So my visit to St. George last weekend really just reminded me how important my family is, and how much I need Mom, Dad, Elise, Moriah, Andrew, Mallory, and Stephanie in my life. I love them so much. And they love me back, even if I'm being a Provo brat.

2. I only have one more semester on campus. This fact has recently felt real. Not sure why. But I'm freaking out. Graduating is literally the last thing that I want to do at this moment. I don't like change. And I especially don't like being forced into change. It's like high school graduation all over again. Why did they make me do that again? It was traumatic, leaving that school. I just loved high school too much. I was so happy there.  But I'm just glad that I still have that last semester on campus, and that one other semester of student teaching, during which I can still say that I am a student at BYU, before they make me graduate. I'm glad that I still have a little bit of time to figure out what is going to come next in my life, because I really have no idea. And I am terrified. Literally paralyzed in terror.

3. Number one pet peeve at BYU: When students from outside of Utah trash on Utah and "Utah Mormons." You guys, it really is offensive. I am from Utah, and seriously, I am not a second-rate Mormon because I am from the place in which Brigham Young said, "This is the place." Sure, I went to high school surrounded by LDS kids, some of whom did bad things. They were bad Mormon kids who did not keep the commandments. They took their membership in the church for granted. But I also went to school with many, many really good LDS kids who worked hard, did what they were supposed to, and love love loved being a part of the Lord's restored gospel. So please don't judge. Don't make your derogatory comments about "Utah Mormons" and then laugh and say that you are "in Utah, but not of Utah." Because seriously, it's rude. And I could not be more proud to be from Utah.

4. I have to talk about Freddie for a little bit. Freddie Mercury and the other boys from Queen have possessed my ears for the last month. I listen to them nonstop. I have purchased two albums online in addition to the three that I already had. I just love Freddie's voice and mustache, and the fact that when he performs he pulls the microphone stand half apart and just holds the top piece. And Brian May's guitar solos and crazy hair. And John Deacon's songs and that he is seriously very shy. And Roger Taylor's long long long blonde hair in the '70s, crazy drum skills, and that his voice sounds like Rod Stewart. And I love that they all write their songs individually, and then put the work of all four artists onto one album, giving the music on any given album a variety, but unity with elements of the Queen sound (like the layered harmonies). And I love that they released 14 studio albums. Because you know what that means? A lot of music. And a lot of music that spans a lot of years, which MEANS that the music evolves. A lot. It's very different from the beginning to the end. That gives variety. A lot of sides to Queen. Oh, and I love the British accents. And that they are all so smart. When Queen stopped working together a few years after Freddie died, Brian May went back to school and got a PhD in astrophysics. That's crazy.

And I love that they rarely interviewed throughout their height in popularity. They didn't want to deal with it, so they didn't. And nobody cared. Because it really was the music that was important.

And I love Freddie's solo work. I think it was under appreciated at the time of its release. I mean, I don't actually know for sure, because I wasn't alive. But there is this one song called "Made in Heaven." It touches the soul. He sings about how he knows that everything is meant to be. That there is a reason for everything, and that pain and misery will have a good end. It's just so touching considering how much he suffered. With everything.

My favorite part of the song:
"I'm playing my role in history/
Looking to find my goal/
Taking in all this misery/
But giving it all my soul/"

I'm not going to lie. As I was sitting in the reading room in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU and listening to this song, I had an epiphany. It inspired me. I just need to find my role in history. I need to find my goal. I won't know what I am going to do after I graduate if I don't even know what the goal is! And even if it's hard and stressful and I hate it, I need to give it all my soul. Cause that's the attitude you have to have. You have to make the best of things, and just work towards the goal. Now I just need to find the goal. Thanks Freddie. 

It's funny, because half of Freddie's songs are silly like "Bicycle Race" and the other half are very meaningful. And I can usually connect them to the limited knowledge that I have about his character and life. I know that he wrote about things that were important to him, but in a vague enough way that his fans could connect to the songs. That's what songwriters are supposed to do, I think.

Last, I watched a clip on YouTube where someone asked Freddie about "We are the Champions." And you know what he said? He said that when he wrote the song, he had the vision of people playing it at football games. He said, "I am not the champion. Queen is not the champion. The song is for everyone. That's what music is. It's for everyone. Everyone is a champion." I liked that. Freddie. So full of wisdom.

4. In the midst of Queen, I have found some new Michael Jackson songs I love. Don't look at me like that, I can't abandon my roots. So there's this one. It's called "On The Line," and it practically gives me goosebumps. But it's a happy song. And it sounds different from anything else he has done. I like it.

5. I passed the Praxis. I am certified to teach high school, after student teaching anyway. (but is that what I even want??! Mass confusion, I tell you what. )

6. When I was younger and I thought about schoolwork or the football game that weekend every second of my life, I used to fall asleep doing my homework in my head. Like, if I knew that I had a paper to write, and I needed to work out the introduction, I would compose it in my head as I fell asleep. I would lay it all out so that when I worked on it the next day, the thinking was already done. It was a lot of fun. And super helpful. I've gotten lazy and a lot less focused now, and I have decided that I should put more effort and energy into my school work this fall. I mean, seriously, it might be the last time I take college classes. Ever.

Okay, I'm scaring myself, I need to go to bed. Doesn't not ever going to classes again sound like the worst idea EVER? I want to be an eternal student. Always learning. Writing more papers, reading more books, and taking mores notes. I love taking notes. And I love highlighting in textbooks. But that is partly because I was not allowed to do that in high school. It's still a bit of a novelty. Plus, the colors look pretty on the page.  Oh heck, please don't make me graduate. It might give me a heart attack.

Signing off,
Audrey Spainhower.

Sneak peek of upcoming posts: The best day of the year: July 4, and July 16: HP6 anniversary celebration.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

American Idol

Billboard posted an article about the all-time top 24 American Idol contestants, using album and track sales and radio airplay as the the judges. I was pleased the see that Kelly Clarkson came out on top. The original Idol, I guess, still packs the most punch. She's sold more- and been played more- than everyone else. Carrie Underwood is a close second. So, question. Is Kelly the highest because she's been around the longest? Will she eventually be overtaken by Carrie? Or maybe by the number 3, Jordin Sparks? Or even number 4, Chris Daughtry.

I hope not.

Click HERE for the article.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Can anyone direct me to the nearest backstreet?"

"If you want it to be good girl, get yourself a..." Backstreet Boy! (track 12, Backstreet Boys)

"It" is defined as.... a concert.

Cause HOLY COW. I went to the Backstreet Boys concert in Salt Lake last week. And simply stated, it was just about the most fun I have ever had.

Let me start at the beginning.

Picture a ten-year-old Audrey standing in Andrew's room, listening to the first, self-titled, Backstreet Boys album, reading the lyrics from the album sleeve, and trying to decipher whose voice is whose by looking at the pictures on the cover of the album. I tried so hard.

That CD was literally my first real exposure to modern music. Up until that point the only songs I knew were by the Beach Boys, TOTO, or Neil Diamond. I mean, I had heard songs on the radio while riding on the school bus (and was thoroughly annoyed with Savage Garden's "Truly, Madly, Deeply," might I add), but I never paid attention to any of it. I had best friends who loved the Spice Girls and *NSYNC, but I just didn't get it. Not until the Backstreet Boys.

The summer after 5th grade, when my family moved to Iowa, the Backstreet Boys fully entered my life-- in near-obsession form. I credit that to one of the best songs of the twentieth century, "I Want It That Way." That song- and the album that followed it, Millenium, changed my world. After that song, music became a hobby of mine. A major hobby (which continues today in the form of people like, um, Michael Jackson for example) that in its earliest stages included buying teeny-bopper magazines and cutting them up into collages, printing pictures off the internet to make into what eventually became my many "boy band" scrapbooks, buying concert VHS tapes and watching them, recording talk shows and specials onto VHS tapes when the handsome boy band boys were featured, and specifically in the case of the Backstreet Boys, the hobby included sleepovers with my best friend, Shellena, that were devoted solely to listening, dancing, and singing to the Backstreet Boys, and actually writing a book called, "My BSB Adventure." It is a compelling, coming of age story (haha) about Shellena and I meeting the Backstreet Boys and getting to go on tour with them. We rode in their tour bus. And they took us to the Mall of America and let us buy anything we wanted. (what more could a girl possibly want? oh wait... keep reading) AND, we made up a twin brother for Brian (because he was both me and Shellena's favorite Backstreet Boy) named Benny, who went on tour with them and took turns with Brian performing, so that we could BOTH fall in love with someone who looked and sounded like Brian. If I remember correctly, she ended up with the actual Brian, and I got fake Benny. I pretended not to be bitter.

Keep in mind that I'm still about 12 years old and this point. Well, the scrapbook of boy bands thing lasted until about 13... when the Harry Potter phase replaced it. But that's another story.
(best album in the history of the world)
So anyway. Me and the Backstreet Boys. We go way back. And in that original frenzy of "I can't live without listening to the entire Millenium album' at least twenty times a day," the only thing I wanted was to go to a Backstreet Boys concert. I wanted to. go. so. bad. But I couldn't go. I remember when they came to the Quad Cities (in Iowa). I counted down the days even though I wasn't going. I wanted to know when these 20-something year-old men were in my city. The day of the concert, when I was moping around the house, not at the concert, I remember my dad saying something about how he thought about getting tickets. I freaked out. "WHY DIDN'T YOU? I WOULD HAVE DIED TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM WITH THEM!" I really remember saying that. Clearly, he thought it was probably a good idea NOT to have gotten tickets. I wonder if he was worried about his little girl who was obviously going crazy.

It is safe to say that going to a Backstreet Boys concert was a dream of mine since the age of 11. I am now 22. That is HALF of my life. 

So, after the initial obsession, I waited from 2001 to 2005 for a Backstreet Boys album. One day, Moe came to my house with the fabulous news of a new BSB single. I heard it and immediately fell in love.

Now, 2010, three new (and virtually unheard of) CDs later, I actually still listen to them, and I own all of their stuff. I literally have 96 Backstreet Boys songs in my iTunes. I bet you didn't even know they had that many songs. Oh, they do.

And so, when they came to Salt Lake this year, there was only one decision to make, "When will we buy the tickets?" If wasn't really an "if." I knew that I had to go.

And I did.

I went with Stephanie and her friend Riley. We made shirts. Mine said, "You are my fire" and had a pink heart on it. Stephanie's said, "Get Another Boyfriend" (track 3 on Black and Blue), and Riley's said, "Backstreets Back ALRIGHT."

And seriously, I have never screamed so much in my entire life. I know it's crazy, and I know it's ridiculous. But that 2 hours of concert was unbelievable. The whole time I was like, "I can't believe this is happening. Is this really happening?!" It was.

Let's take a gander at some of my facial expressions during the concert:

This is me being REALLY excited before the concert even started.
This is us dancing to the boring DJ who kind of tried to open the show. We like to swing our hair around, and apparently I like to contort my face in weird ways. 
But anyway, nobody wanted to listen to the DJ guy. There were constant chants of "BACKSTREET BOYS! BACKSTREET BOYS!"
This is when the concert was about halfway over, and I was just shocked and overwhelmed by the amazingness. I couldn't handle it. Plus, I was feeling a little tired from screaming.
But no worries. This picture is about one minute later during "I Want It That Way," and any sort of fatigue quickly left. Pure happiness on that face. 
Yes, my face is contorted into a frown. I know I look funny. But let's just say that a tear actually almost escaped my eye when the concert was over. I didn't want those Backstreet Boys to leave.
 But then, the concert was over, and I was STILL excited. It was just way too much fun. 

So, they sang around 7 or 8 songs from their new album, which was super fun, because I know and love all of those songs, like "Bigger" and "Bye Bye Love." But the highlight of the show was BY FAR the old stuff. They did six songs from the first album (they show opened with "Everybody (Backstreets Back)," followed by, "We've Got It Goin' On" and "As Long As You Love Me." "Quit Playing Games With My Heart was also fantastic. They also played 4 songs from Millenium, the best album of the boy band era BY FAR. I nearly fainted when the music for "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" started, lost my voice from screaming when the boys came out in robot outfits for "Larger Than Life," and knew my life was complete as I listened to the sweetness of "I Want It That Way." There were three songs from Black and Blue, the 2001 album, which isn't my fave, but still contains amazing songs like "The Call" and "Shape of My Heart" (okay, that might be my 2nd favorite BSB song ever). The last "old" song they performed was "Incomplete"- the first single from the 2005 album, and that might actually have been my favorite part of the concert. They just sounded so good, and that is just such a good song. 

So we all know I grew up with Brian as my fave. But after the concert- I mean, I'm still a #1 Brian fan- but I have to admit that AJ is the best live performer. His voice was AMAZING. And really, people screamed for him the most. 

Now, for more pictures:
 The beginning of the concert. They appeared out of that smoke.
Taken during "Shape of My Heart"
She the "Larger Than Life" robot costumes?
Just looking awesome. Look at AJ's checkered pants. 
Waving Goodbye. :(

All in all, I could not have made a better choice about going to that concert. It was something that I had to do. I spent way too much energy loving these guys as an eleven year old- I owned it to my pre-teen years to go to the concert and love it.

PS, I forgot to say that the one bittersweet thing was that Kevin wasn't there. He left the band in 2006. Good old Kevin. He's the star of the second verse in "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" (you know, the "eyes of stone" part), and the bridge in "I Want It That Way." I missed him. Howie took all of his parts.

So there you have it. And in conclusion, I'm going to repeat AJ's parting words: "Remember everyone, BACKSTREET'S BACK!"