Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Anthem part 2

Current mood: happy

So I had a pretty cool experience tonight singing the National Anthem at the KSU-Akron game in Kent. For those not familiar with the rivalry between the two schools, the University of Akron and Kent State are only about 14 miles apart, so it's a very intense rivalry (sometimes referred to as a "crosstown" rivalry), not to mention a conference game. I'd say it's most intense in men's basketball, where after tonight Kent State leads the overall series just 63-60. It's intense in football too, but Kent State and Akron are hardly ever good so the game rarely has any meaning outside the bragging rights. KSU and Akron have never both been good in football at the same time. That is not true in men's basketball, where Kent State and Akron have been two of the best teams in the MAC the last several years and each meeting between the two has had conference implications. Such was the case tonight, with Akron coming in at 14-3, 4-0 in the MAC East and Kent State at 14-4, 3-1 in the MAC East. The game, naturally, was sold out and there was quite a buzz in the arena well before gametime, mostly due to the KSU students who arrived early to get good seats and the Akron students who came early and sat in the corner of the balcony.

As you can see, the students were already there well before gametime! Both end zones!

I was a little nervous about Katie, Becky, David, and Chris getting into the game, even though they already had student tickets. At every previous game, all you had to do was show your student ID and they'd give you a ticket. Tonight, due to the high demand, they were actually scanning ID's, so since none of them are currently taking classes, their ID's wouldn't get them in. Luckily I was able to talk to Chris Pinch, the guy in charge of marketing and promotions and the guy who arranges the singers. He was able to tell the ticker-taker to just let in the four people I identified. I felt so special doing that...look at me with all the connections! =) I was glad they could all come though. As much as I enjoy going to games, going by myself isn't as much fun.

Katie, Becky, David, and Chris came with me. We had a blast!

Even though it's out of focus, I thought it was still a good pic of the 3 of us.

This isn't a bad one either!

I sang about 8 minutes before the starting lineups. Kent State is different in that they have the anthem played or sung well before the starting lineups. At Lake Erie College, I sing just before the lineups are introduced. In high school I sang after the lineups. In both of those cases, I'm singing with both teams lined up on the floor. At KSU, I sing virtually alone in the middle of the court. It was something else to walk out of there and see the MAC Center full and to be in the middle like that. As for my singing, mind you, I'm a perfectionist, especially in singing, so I notice things that didn't go quite as well. Honestly, though, I felt good about how I did. It wasn't my best ever, but it was far from my worst. What a thrill when I finished to a loud applause. I think I floated off the court. I was happy to see my aunt Sue had stopped in just to see me sing, plus my Ridinger grandparents and cousin Jason were there as well. Some friends at KSU were there too. The only thing that kinda bugged me was the Akron student section started to cheer something before I was done (which I think is classless and disrespectful not only to the performer, but also to the anthem) and so the KSU student sections were trying to drown them out I think. Katie taped it all, so I need to watch it. I did hear an audio recording of it and thought it sounded pretty good.

I stood in the center of the logo when I sang, facing the flag (upper left corner of picture)

One thing that's kinda bugged me right now is I read a blog of a guy who blogs about the Akron Zips for the Akron Beacon-Journal's website I've always thought he's way biased (yes I realize he's blogging about the Zips, but he acts like they're perfect sometimes), epsecially against Kent State. Reading his blog, Akron and their fans are the class of the MAC while KSU is a rag-tag bunch of transfers and classless thugs with rude fans. I'll be the first to admit that KSU students do dumb things at games, but it's nothing unusual or widespread. This is what he said that bugged me:

"Kent State's students were really obnoxious during the national anthem. The singer missed at least three notes by my count, too."

Yes, that irritated me. I HATE it when non-music people try to critique a music performance, even as lame as his comments were. I think he was trying to be "clever," but unfortunately, he failed miserably. I did leave a comment on his blog, stating that not only did I not miss any notes, but he needs to have his hearing checked and not to comment on music unless he has a music degree. It's one thing to sit behind a computer screen and talk trash, but it's an entirely different thing to be out there in the middle of the arena singing a solo a cappella, especially a song like the Star Spangled Banner. It is not an easy song to sing. I also pointed out that Akron's students were just as obnoxious with that lame chant they tried before I was even done. It wasn't overly loud, and they weren't the only ones making noise, but nevertheless, that blogger, of course, only points out the faults of others, not Akron or their fans. I was happy to see a post from an Akron fan on that blog that basically pointed out the major bias and that as a journalist he (the blogger) should report the whole thing. Couldn't agree more. The Akron fan also said he was "embarrassed" to be an Akron fan because it seemed many of the Zips fans came just to "cause trouble." I thought the Akron fans weren't that bad, though they were annoying at times...

First half from our end zone seats after a slam by Q!

Inside the sold-out MAC Center in Kent, Ohio in the second half. Our seats can be seen in the end zone on the far left of the picture.

A view of the end zone where we were sitting. We were on the far right of the end zone. The student sections are both end zone areas.

Oh yeah, the game was AWESOME and very intense. Kent looked AWFUL in the first half and Akron couldn't miss from three-point range, so we went into the half down 35-25. The second half was a different story. Kent State slowly started chipping away and was finally able to get some inside points, while pestering the Zips into more outside shooting. Akron is a really good shooting team, so they were able to stay in it, but since they couldn't hit everything, Kent State was able to rally back and eventually win 75-69. It was very tense at the end when Akron fouled one of our players (a big guy known as "Q") and there was a shove and then a fight. Some students in the opposite end zone from us threw some trash (a few wrappers and broken balloon pieces), but it was still pretty exciting. In the end, three technicals were called: two on Akron, one on Kent. I swear, it literally took over 15 minutes for 4.6 seconds to go off the clock to end the game. Akron never game up though and they hit some big threes down the stretch to keep a faint hope alive even after it seemed Kent State had iced it. They are a very tough team. It will be quite a game when we play again March 9th in Akron. GO KENT! SCREW THE ROO!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

National Anthem spectacular!

Current mood: excited

So I wanted to share how much I've been singing the National Anthem lately. It's been a lot of fun and I still have a few more performances left. In high school I used to sing it pretty regularly at soccer and basketball games. I even sang at a track meet once. After high school I only sang about four more times (all Kent State women's basketball games) before going on my mission in 2001. I didn't sing again until an unexpected (but very fun) opportunity I had at Morgan High School in Morgan, Utah in January 2005. I did it to surprise some friends there who had wanted to hear me sing. Not only did it surprise them, but I got a lot of good compliments after I sang, plus they announced I had come "all the way from Kent, Ohio" even though I was at BYU-Idaho at the time. After that game a guy came up to me and asked if I knew Andy Ridinger. Of course I said yes, "he's my brother." Turns out this guy served with him during his mission in Hungary and recognized my last name, but thought "but Andy was from Kent, Ohio."

Anyway, I didn't sing again until this past Fall 2007, though I tried to sing at a few events in the meantime with no success. I've been trying forever to sing the National Anthem at a Cleveland Indians' game, but I usually get my audition tape/CD in too late, so no success so far. I finally sang again at a Kent State Ice Hockey game against Youngstown State on November 9th. Little did I know, but that was just the beginning!

I finally got to do my first KSU men's basketball game on November 28 against Saint Louis University. It was a great experience and am looking forward to my next game.

On December 11th I went to see my friend Ashley play for Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. We both worked at Geauga Lake in 2005 and 2006 and now that I'm back in Ohio I wanted to see her play since I couldn't come to any games last season. Well, I showed up and it didn't look like they had an anthem singer, so just before the game started I inquired as to if they needed one and if they wanted one. Those in charge were rightfully cautious since they had no clue who I was. They did, however, let me after hearing me sing for a few meaures and making sure I knew all the words. I did a decent job and have sung the anthem at every women's game since at LEC and now at the men's games too as they do doubleheaders. Even though it's an hour trip to Painesville, I've really grown to enjoy singing there and getting to know the people there a little bit better. Lake Erie College is a small liberal arts school that has an enrollment just below 1,000 and is currently an NCAA Division III (soon to be D-II) school. I'll be singing there again on Monday January 21 and I anticipate at least a few more times after that!

I'm way excited to be singing at the men's basketball game at KSU this coming Wednesday, January 23 against arch-rival Akron. The game is going to be sold out (a battle for first place in the MAC East), so it should be an exciting environment. I've been wanting to sing at that game for a long time and now I finally have my chance! I even had the opportunity to sing at my high school again January 4th, once again unexpectedly, but I've found good things happen when I just ask if a singer is needed!

Here's where I've sung recently:
November 9, 2007 KSU ice hockey vs. Youngstown State University
November 16, 2007 KSU ice hockey vs. Iowa State University
November 28, 2007 KSU men's basketball vs. St. Louis University
December 11, 2007 LEC women's basketball vs. Ursuline College
December 29, 2007 LEC women's basketball vs. Hiram College
January 4, 2008 Roosevelt High School boy's basketball vs. Norton High School
January 9, 2008 LEC women's basketball vs. Medaille College
January 9, 2008 LEC men's basketball vs. Medaille College
January 12, 2008 LEC women's basketball vs. La Roche College
Janaury 12, 2008 LEC men's basketball vs. La Roche College

Coming up:
January 21, 2008 LEC women's basketball 1 PM vs. Frostburg State University
January 21, 2008 LEC men's basletball 3 PM vs. Frostburg State University
January 23, 2008 KSU men's basketball 7 PM vs. University of Akron
January 24, 2008 LEC women's basketball 6 PM vs. Penn State-Behrend College
January 24, 2008 LEC men's basketball 8 PM vs. Penn State-Behrend College
hopefully some more at LEC and KSU...we'll see!!!

Hopefully I can get my audition CD together and sent off in time so I can FINALLY sing at an Indians game this season!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Poor article

Current mood: contemplative

So I wrote a blog about this about a week ago, but as I went to post it, the system said I wasn't logged on so it deleted it. Oh was a pretty long post, so I guess I just wasn't meant to be! In any case, I still want to write about it! Here's the article in question. I was in the January 11, 2008 Record-Courier in Kent, Ohio:

Now, of course I have MAJOR issues with the content and claims made by this so-called professor from Washington state. I'm's hard to really take a professor seriously who's teaching at a community college. I could write (and did) a LONG blog about the issues here (and even why is this guy still a member of the church?). BUT, my main issue has to do with the reporter because this is a terribly biased and unbalanced article as well as incorrect.

For background, this is about the latest editions of the Book of Mormon, more specifically the introduction, and how the new editions have a slight rewording in them in regards to the Lamanites (a major group in the Book of Mormon) and how they are connected to today's American Indian tribes. In my opinion, the change (discussed later) is not that big of a deal and is a clarification rather than a change in doctrine. The introduction itself has only been around since 1981 and is really just that: an introduction to give readers an idea of what they're about to read and why it's important. But as I said, my main issues for this blog are with the reporter and how the article was written and presented.

For starters, look at how much space is devoted to the Church's position that the change is no big deal. Hard to find? It's a two-sentence paragraph in the second column: "What's the big deal? Church defenders say there is nothing important in the change." That's it. No official comments from Church representatives or even something like "the church declined comment" or even a pro-church statement. Now, check out how much of the article is devoted to the professor's antagonistic view of the church and the change. Yep...over two and a half complete columns, some two-thirds of the article. Are you kidding me? This is nowhere NEAR good journalism or even good reporting! Every story has two sides, right? While the opposition gets most pf the article, the defense is limited to one sentence that's not even a quote at that.

My second issue is that the change the article talks about isn't even quoted right. In the paragraph before the church's "defense" is stated it says this: "In previous editions, the phrase was "are the ancestors." Actually, for those of us who have and have actually READ the Book of Mormon, the phrase is: "are the principal ancestors..." (Book of Mormon introduction, emphasis added). The new 2006 editions now state "they are among the ancestors." (emphasis added). When you leave out one of the words, it makes a HUGE difference, now doesn't it? Like I said earlier in the blog, this is a clarification and a good one in my opinion. However, it doesn't affect what's in the book itself and whether it is true or not.

Of course I don't want to think that this AP reporter has some ax to grind against the church or is doing this on purpose, but after reading this, it definitely makes me wonder if there are not alterior motives here. What better way to make the church and its leaders and supporters look like old-fashioned, mindless religious people who ignore reality and science than to extensively quote a college professor, ESPECIALLY one who is LDS and has been antagonistic towards the church? I do seriously wonder why this guy is even LDS still since he obviously thinks that some of our core beliefs are myths and that the leadership of the church is ignoring that. Why be part of an organization that you think that way of? The article and this professor also ignore the scholarly reasearch that has been made in regards to the historocity of the Book of Mormon. There are many great sites that deal with this, one of which is As much as I enjoy the archeological evidence and study of the Book of Mormon, it's not why I believe it's true, nor is archeological evidence why I believe in the Bible. Archeological evidence can only prove that certain places existed, but it cannot prove that certain miracles or extraordinary events took place there. That knowledge and understanding can only come from God himself.

Seriously, the best way to find out what the Book of Mormon is all about is to read it. Yes, it has it's slower parts, but really it's a fascinating story whether you want to take it as a literal history like I and other Latter-day Saints do or just as something Joseph Smith wrote with a third-grade frontier farmer's education. It's SO EASY to get a free Book of can get them from missionaries, from members of the Church, or online at and click on basic beliefs. You can also read it online there or at in the Gospel Library. Sorry to turn this into an ad, but really the best defense for the Book of Mormon is itself.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Current mood: irritated

I had a really nice, long blog all written and when I went to post it, BAM, all gone. Thank you myspace!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If you get the Ensign...

Current mood: annoyed

Just a little note of explanation, the Ensign is an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that comes out monthly. It is an excellent source for inspirational material related to the Church. It has an international counterpart known as the Liahona and there are also two other monthly magazines that accompany the Ensign or Liahona: The New Era for youth ages 12-18 and the Friend for children. They are all excellent publications with great articles and good material, but the January 2008 Ensign had an article that made me just roll my eyes. So here is my first blog of 2008!

The article, like most in Church magazines, was written by an average member of the Church (as opposed to a church leader or magazine writer) and was entitled "Unplugged" (page 57, January 2008 Ensign). It basically tells the story of a family who moved into a new house and had it wired for satellite TV. Before it was hooked up, the cables were covered up in the attic by the insulation. They couldn't find them, so they did without TV for two weeks. IN the meantime, they discovered how much they'd been "missing" by watching TV like playing games, spending time together, and getting other projects done. When they finally did find the cables in the attic, they "arrived at an instant agreement: "Bury those wires!"" I just had to exclaim "OH NO" when I finished reading this article.

Of course I'm not opposed to spending time with family and participating in activities besides watching TV. There are many great things families can do together and activities and projects that the author mentioned are most certainly worthwhile! I am, however, opposed to people, especially in the Church, who advocate not having TV at all as some sort of higher way of life. Are you kidding me? One of the things the author mentioned was a talk by M. Russell Ballard in General Conference (which they listened to on the radio) that spoke about "the sleazy and evil entrapments of the media," which she drew the conclusion "maybe we shouldn't hook up our TV." First of all, nowhere in his talk did Elder Ballard (whom Latter-day Saints regard as an Apostle of the Lord) advocate or mention getting rid of your TV. He is simply cautioning us about the evils that can come into our homes through the MEDIA. Second, the radio is also part of the media. Just because we can't see images from the radio doesn't mean it is free of sleaze or questionable material. The same is true with books. Reading is a very powerful tool and can lead to tons of information and learning. Books, though, are also not free of the very things people dog TV and even the Internet for. It all depends on what you read, just as it depends on what you listen to or what you watch. In the end, it's all how we use the mediums of media we have access to. There is no way to totally avoid the "sleaze" in the world and isolating ourselves from the world is not an answer. Isolation just makes people out of touch and downright WEIRD. While we certainly shouldn't put ourselves in front of objectionable material or actively seek it, we should know how to deal with it and teach our children how to deal with it. Growing up, whenever we watched a program or movie that had bad language or something of the like, my mom would tell us to substitute that phrase for a better one or she would explain why we don't believe in such acts or why they were against what we believed. It helped me to be able to look past the bad parts and not dwell on them. We all have to learn how to deal with stuff like that eventually, so why not in the home with the guidance of our parents?

Of course we shouldn't just sit on our butts all day and just watch TV, but the argument that there's "nothing good on TV anymore" is not a very good one. Again, it's all a matter of what you're watching. I have seen many great programs that are entertaining, educational, or both on many many channels, not just the BYU channel (which I think is overall a pretty boring channel!). For those of you with cable or satellite, check out stuff on the History Channel, Discovery, the Learning Channel, and even places like ESPN or Fox Sports Net. Even the regular networks have overall good programming that is suitable for families, depending on the time of the day. You just have to be aware of what you are watching just like you need to be aware of what you are reading. Along with this, watching TV isn't always the mind-numbing experience some people make it out to be. We can learn a lot from TV programs, especially from the news. I'll be the first to point out the biases that exist in the news media, but it is still a way for us to know and see what is going on in the world. For members of the church, being a good citizen is part of being a good Latter-day Saint and one cannot really be the best citizen if they are ignorant of current events in my opinion. And let's not forget that not everyone learns best by reading; many people are visual learners and there are many times that a TV program can help someone understand a concept in a way no book could ever hope for (and vice versa!). We need to follow the counsel of moderation in all things. Too much of anything, including TV, video games, or Internet use, isn't a good thing, but complete avoidance of them isn't good either.

Obviously the Church itself does not consider TV and the media completely evil. The Church broadcasts General Conference on TV every 6 months and most local chapels are equipped with a satellite dish that can get other programs besides just church-related ones. Further, the church has produced many TV commercials and the media has been a big part in spreading the gospel and getting our message out to more and more people. It certainly does more than isolating ourselves in our homes and becoming an ignorant people.


LDS Drama Queen (Becky); January 1, 2008
You're right, of course. Hate to say it but most of the crazy people who think this way live in COUGHutahCOUGH. As soon as people start saying we need to get rid of TV, they better be saying we need to get rid of radio, books, magazines (including the ENSIGN she sent that article to!), computers, and hey, even telephones. Go back to the stone ages and MAYBE you will be able to be "closer to God".

I agree, moderation in all things is the key. Gene R. Cook of the seventy said that Satan is found in the extremes. How true!!

Nari; January 1, 2008
I'm obsessed with Animal Planet. I've learned so many random things from that channel.

I'm not obsessed with t.v. anymore (now it's the internet instead lol) but I'd be lying if I told you that I could live happily without it. What oh what would I do without American Idol, Desperate Housewives, and trashy reality television? We'd have nothing to talk about at work!
Anyway, good blog!