Archive for September, 2009

I am not Steve Perry

September 29, 2009

I’m convinced after a recent Rock Band gathering, that there are 6 types of singing voices in this world.  Now, I’m talking the common folk.  Not Michael Buble or Celine Dion.  Each professional singer out there has their own style and range that makes them who they are.  What I’m speaking about are the folks like you and me, who belt it out in the car, who maybe only break their voice out after a few “beverages”, or those who will mildly hum along.  To us crooners of the shower, I dedicate this breakdown.

  1. The Confident Voice- This is the voice that comes out when you find it deep down in yourself.  I think maybe five people have heard mine.  It’s the one that can blow people away with its power.  It’s tough to find but you know it when it comes out.  And, yes, it’s not always perfect.  It can be pitchy, or have cracks and squeaks.  But it’s the voice that makes you want to go out on a stage, throw your arms to the side, and belt out that note that’s been buried down deep inside.  During a dream I had recently, I passed a dark stage, stepped away from the people I was with, went to the front of the stage, belted out one line from a Broadway show someone put in my head earlier that day, and held the final note for as long as I could.  After I was done, gave a little nod to the empty crowd, and went back to the group as if nothing happened.
  2. The Soulful Voice- Everyone’s got one.  It’s that raspy, breathy, deep voice that comes out during a blues song.  It’s that voice that doesn’t take a lot of effort to get out.  It comes from the back of your throat as if there are some marbles back there you’re trying to push the note through.  Sometimes there aren’t words that come out but the notes are usually there.
  3. The Imitation Voice- I think this is the voice most people use.  It’s definitely the one I use the most.  It’s the one that comes out during karaoke or Rock Band.  It’s the one used amongst friends.  It’s the safe bet.  It’s usually humorous as people try to do their best Steve Perry or Cyndi Lauper impression.  Favorite time for me to break this out was singing with a Jamaican accent to “Kiss the Girl” over the headsets while warming up for Little Theater shows at Canisius.  (Yep, just made a Little Mermaid reference.  I’m ok with it).
  4. The Finding the Words to A Song Voice- Person X in a group, “Oh, how does that song go again?”.  Someone other than me because I get them wrong half the time, “If ya liked it… da da da da.. ring on it.  If… ya liked it… THEN ya (said very quickly) should put a ring on it… All the single ladies…”  (Side story pet peeve: ever notice that when people are singing back a song, they skip over the different parts where there’s no words.  FYI- I’m hum that s**t out.  Be prepared.  You want me to sing back “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey?  You better be ready for a kickin’ hummed rendition of that guitar solo in the middle of the song.)
  5. The Pretend Backup Singer- Harmonies are a pain.  People I know can find them in a second, others like me take practice to make sure I’ve got it right.  I was amazed the other week at a local band that claimed to be playing “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas for the first time (they take requests from the audience during their show).  As they were sounding the notes out, he turned to his bandmates and said, “You got the low part”.  Head nod.  He turns to the bassist and says, “Can you get those high notes.” Confident head nod.  The crowd sees it and cheers.  Silence… and then as if Kansas was standing before us, “Carry on my wayward son”.  I turn in shock to the people I went to the concert with.  But this is the supportive voice.  It’s the voice you use during More Than Words to help out whoever took the main part.  It’s usually all over the place as you try to hit the harmonies but then end up just signing the main line just like the other person.
  6. Your Real Voice- It’s the scary one.  It’s the one that doesn’t have a lot of power but you try your hardest hit every note.  It’s not the voice you use to belt it out or become the next Rod Stewart, it’s that voice that can be quiet in the shower or loud at karaoke night when you’re not trying to imitate someone else.  It can be soft like when you’re in office signing along to the radio or loud like in the shower.  It can be all over the place.  In and out of different chords and pitches, cracks and squeaks as if you’re just hitting puberty…  But we each have it and I will always respect yours.  Mine’s not perfect so why should I expect yours to be. Know that if you break out in song (at appropriate times… Standing in line at McDonalds is not the appropriate time) and I hear it, I’ll be the one applauding you at the end.  You got up there and you tried.  Rock on.

Thanks for reading…

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Great Moment at Wegmans

September 19, 2009

You probably didn’t know that grocery stores are integral to some Spain family stories.  For example:

  • If you send my grandfather to the grocery store in town, plan on him being gone for about two hours.  As a kid growing up, we knew that going into the store with him meant being treated as a celebrity.  He’d being going in there just for milk and I wouldn’t be surprised if four things happened each time:  1) The milk had spoiled by the time he left. 2) He would have to stop again on the way home at the convenience store to purchase new milk. 3) That his left hand didn’t have bruises from holding the milk all that time.  And 4) That his right hand didn’t throb from all the handshaking he did.
  • I worked as a cashier for a few years at the local supermarket.  One late night, an attractive brunette came to my register.  I briefly looked at her item and saw a 12 pack of cans in a silver box with red cursive writing.  Being the rico suave gentlemen I know you all know that I am, I asked in a gentlemen-ly (read: deep) voice, “Can I see some ID maam?”  She smiled, then giggled, then stared right into my eyes.  I said again, with equal debonair, “No really miss, I do need to see some ID.”  She didn’t show the same amusement this time.  I think the foot stomped in frustration but I couldn’t be sure because all I heard her say was, “For this?”  “Yep, we have to check IDs for beer sales.” (Oh yea, pouring on the Spain charm).  With some attitude that to this day still gives me a frown she says, “But it’s Diet Coke.”  Defeat.  Seriously, at that time, if you put a 12 can pack of Coors Light and Diet Coke next to each other, they look exactly the same!

Wegmans is a mecca for grocery store shoppers.  In various parts of the country, if you say “Wegmans”, they will probably clutch their hand to their heart and say, “Oh!  How we need one of those around here.”  But Wegmans is now the home to one of my favorite grocery store stories.

I was bringing my cart towards the register and a grandmother came racing past me with her grandson in tow.  As they passed, I heard her sing to her grandson, “We’re late. We’re late.  For a very important date.”  She asked him if he had ever seen Alice in Wonderland, and he in a very out of breath way said, “No”.  He points out different things along the way that he’d like to check out.  Not in an annoying way, more in an inquisitive way. They get to the register and I pull in behind them.  The kid looks over at the candy, his hand grasping a Three Musketeers bar (side story, this kid got major points in my book for grabbing at that candy bar.  See, if there was any candy bar I really wanted to try even though I’m completely allergic to it, it would be a Three Musketeers bar).  He says, “Grandma, can I get this?”  She responds, “No sweetie…” and goes into another chorus of the song as she smiles and bends down to rub his head and get the candy from his hand, “No time to say hello, goodbye!  We’re late! We’re late! We’re late!”.  He looks at me midway through the chorus with a big smile.  I don’t know if it was to say, “Hey dude, you want to buy this for me?” or “Get a load of my silly grandma.”  I think it was the latter.  She rings her items up, picks up the kid’s hand, and leads him towards the exit.

I say hello to the cashier but for some reason keep my eyes on these two.  In the Wegmans I was at, you have to pass the flower section in order to exit.  Grandma was going at a good clip. And her voice wasn’t half bad as she continued with the “We’re late!”.  She’s a good step ahead of him and his eyes catch the flower section.  I hear, “Grandma, can I buy you a flower?”

It was as if the world stopped.  The grandmother freezes in her tracks.  The grandson, with his eyes still fixated on the flowers, nearly bumps into her leg from the sudden ceasing of movement.  And all I heard was “Muah muah muah” from the cashier as if she was the teacher in those Charlie Brown commercials.  The grandmother turns around, bends down a little bit, puts her hands on his cheeks lifting his face towards hers, looks out at the flowers and says, “Well which one would you buy Grandma?”  The kid didn’t even blink pointing out a pretty nice arrangement.  Grandma said, “Oh that’s a nice arrangeme…” but then, and not in an annoying way, more as if he just caught sight of Mickey Mouse, he suddenly changed his mind to say, “No I think those would be better.”  Grandma paused, looked around for a few second as her grandson did the same, and said, “Well one day you can buy any flower you’d like for Grandma but right now, we’ve got to get going.  Ok?”  He says, “Ok grandma!  We’re late right?”  She responds, “That’s right!” and she continues out the door singing.  But this time, he was right next to her.  Right in step and in tune with her.

No matter how busy life may be…  No matter how late you might be to something… don’t forget the little things.  Sometimes you need to stop and make someone’s day.  Sometimes you need to stop and pay attention.  Sometimes just a quick moment to push everything else out of the way and focus in on one person’s wish can make a world of difference.

Thanks for reading…

Step 2

September 16, 2009

An update…

Way back when I wrote this post, I didn’t look quite like this but I was pretty close:
bigpicforblog

(The hair will need to be covered in a different blog post)

Things were out of control at the time in more ways than one.  But what cannot be denied were the choices I made.  I chose to eat bad food.  I chose that my only form of exercise was typing on a keyboard.  I wasn’t taking responsibility for my actions.  I used to joke that my home would contain a built in soda tap that only served Coca-Cola.  My Coke to water ratio was probably 15 to 1.

The bigger problem was that I was not respecting the signs.  I think I’ve said it before but I’m a big signs guy.  I play the “fortune teller” radio game.  I keep an eye out for the little things that show that someone out there is thinking of me.  But, to bring in a baseball reference, I was a runner on second base paying attention to the first base coach behind me, not the third base coach ahead of me.

Don’t think I’ll forget the moment when I got the wake up call to change because it literally was a wake up call.  The Sunday of that week of RA training mentioned in the post, my mom calls me to talk about a family issue and it turned into a discussion about the previous week’s drama.  My head still buried in the pillow like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop where he says, “They’re horrible”, she basically told me to get off my butt and do something.  It was like lighting bolts shot through the ceiling.  I think that was the first morning that I started to put my bike to good use.

But it ain’t perfect.  I’m definitely happier and healthier, but need to take that next step.  Here’s what things look like now:

betterpicforblog

So what is step 2?  Step 2 was mentioned way back in December of 2008.  Step 2 is the french fry.  French fries are my side!  They go with a sandwich, a burger, hell, even a good steak.  Even as I write this I’m thinking of the inevitable moment when I actually come to the fork in the road.  My stomach is growling in anger at the thought of the fried potato goodness being removed, nay, RIPPED from its future.  It’s time.

But this begs the question, what is Step 3?  Step 3 is opening my eyes to vegetables.  I enjoy most green and white vegetables.  But my tastes have never gravitated toward the eggplant, or the squash, or the (shiver) mushroom.  But baby, year and a half long, steps.

Thanks for reading.