Gravestone

I’ve heard that one day we are all going to die. So when I do finally lose my mojo I want to make sure everyone has a good time at my funeral. No crying, no whining, and no moaning. People should be glad I died. One of the most important things about my funeral will have to be the music—apart from hymns. I know I could come up with a lengthy list of songs to be played at my funeral and the following would be a small sample of the songs I’d like to be played:

  1. “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I know it’s cliché, but who can deny the greatness of this song. Hands down the best guitar solo ever. One of the few songs where listening to all nine minutes is worth it every time. To make things more entertaining you could also include a clip of the fight scene from the movie The Kingsman: The Secret Service.
  2. “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix. Jimi does justice to these great lyrics with both his voice and guitar playing. But let us stop talking falsely now and move on
  3. “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies. A hugely underrated band who needs some love.
  4. “Sweet Georgia Brown” by the Carroll Brothers. Used to be the Globetrotters’ theme song so you can’t go wrong with this choice.
  5. “Beans and Cornbread” by Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five. A song about friendship that simply explains that Beans and Cornbread go hand in hand like “weiners and sauerkraut…like chitlins and potato salad…like hot cakes and molasses”.
  6. “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks. Pure cheese, but a sad song about death. “Good bye Pa Pa, please pray for me. I was the black sheep in the family. You tried to teach my right from wrong…”
  7. “What A Man” (the Original) by Linda Lyndell. Just sayin’.
  8. “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations. Just for kicks and to inject some doubt about my character after my family has made me out to be a saint.
  9. “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. “that’s life….You’re riding high in April/Shot down in May/But I know I’m gonna change my tune/When I’m back on top, back on top in June…I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate/A poet, a pawn and a king/I’ve been up and down and over and out”. Nobody says it better than Frank Sinatra.
  10. “Learnin’ the Blues” by Frank Sinatra. This song should be taught to every lovesick teenager. Your heartbreak is what really cool people used to call the blues. Snap out of it and move on, that’s life!

Dean Frank and Bing

  1. Your Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” from Annie. Life is mostly about attitude is probably the biggest life lesson I got from the movie Annie.
  2. “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters. I hope everyone is as excited about my death as I will be.
  3. “I’m Sorry” by John Denver. The theme of my life, also what would a Hansen slide show be without a John Denver song.
  4. “The Last Farewell” by Roger Whittaker. In honor of Mom.
  5. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python. There are some deep lyrics here if you think about it: “And death is the final word….and just remember the last laugh is on you”. Outside of a hymn, this may be one of the best songs about life and death.
  6. If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly. Ever funeral needs some heartfelt Celtic Punk ballad.
  7. “Married Life” from the movie Up: For my wife who will surely live longer than me.
  8. “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)”/”I’m On My Way”/”Then I Met You” by the Proclaimers: For my wife and the kids in memory of our road trips together.
  9. “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley. Just in case I can’t get into Heaven maybe they’ll consider sending me back to Earth to work on few things.
  10. “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead: Just in case I don’t get into Heaven and they don’t send my back to earth.

Los Cuates of Sinaloa

Recently, we’ve been watching the Breaking Bad series again and this time around I finally noticed that one of the songs that was played during the series was “Negro y Azul: Ballad of Heisenberg” by a band called Los Cuates de Sinaloa.

Los Cuates de Sinaloa

Their brand of music is called Musica Nortena and I can only describe it as the Mexican version of the polka. I honestly don’t know what the appeal of it is, but it is very popular street music in Sinaloa and Nayarit. Occasionally though there is a song I like and I still get nostalgic for it, but for me a little bit goes a long way.

It’s been a while since I have heard the term cuate. The straightforward translation of cuate is buddy or pal, but the way it’s used in Mexico the meaning is closer to hommie than it is to buddy.

I can’t believe it’s been almost 30 years since I was called to the Mazatlan Mexico mission covering the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit. I remember initially being disappointed because I wanted to serve a European mission more specifically I wanted to serve a mission in France like my older brother (and later on my younger brother). With four years of French in high school and I thought for sure I was a shoe in, but the Lord knew better and He nailed it, although at first it didn’t seem like it.

It took a while to get accustomed to the humidity and the cockroaches, large spiders, and the iguanas I’d have to share housing with. For the first little while it seemed like the Spanish they were speaking was not the Spanish I had been taught. But after a couple of months my Spanish became functional and things got a lot better. Half of my mission was smack dab in the heart of Mazatlan, serving there twice. Besides Mazatlan, I also got to serve in Tepic, Nayarit, Culiacan Rosales (Culiacan), and Guamuchil. I loved Guamuchil, not only because I had a lot of success there, but because they ate flour tortillas (tortillas de arena) instead of corn tortillas. The way some of the women cooked those flour tortillas was a real treat when you put butter and strawberry jam on them.  I am pretty sure it was the lard that made those tortillas so good.

Mazatlan Cathedral

Sinaloa does have a bad rap because the Sinaloa Cartel is so powerful and can be ruthless. El Chapo is actually from Sinaloa. The cartel got its start a little bit before my mission began. By the time I was there, Culiacan had become known as the Chicago of Mexico because of all the gang activity. The Federal government at one point in time had to take over the local police force because it has become so corrupt. And we were not allowed to go out into the rural areas. But those were things we had to be cautious about but in no way did they define our daily experiences.

Most of our time was spent walking or biking up and down the dirt roads of our assigned barrios. As missionaries we were very lucky to have been invited into the humble abodes of some wonderful people, who despite being dirt poor and somewhat oppressed by a corrupt government, full of faith and extremely generous. Literally, their casa was tu casa. I got to meet some real spiritual giants in these poor areas of Sinaloa and Nayarit who I would want for my neighbors in a heartbeat, who would be pillars in any community.

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Don’t get me wrong like any other country Mexico has its share of criminals, gangsters, abusers, two-time losers, no good cheats, and palookas. And Mexico like any other country does have more than a few rat finks, double-crossers, haters, frauds, and philatelists. And there just might be a sprinkling of gainsayers, whoremongers, fanilows, peeping wizards and ne’er do wells in Mexico as well. But I can tell you the influence of one good, virtuous, faithful, and hard-working person on their family and on their community can be immeasurable and generational, outweighing the influence of many bad people. And if they want to leave Mexico they might as well come to America. Heaven knows we could use as many good people as we can get.

Mexico 1988 Mazatlan Neighborhood
The other side of Mazatlan

Needless to say I enjoyed my mission a lot, in fact I liked it so much that towards the end I started to go native and began to contemplate ways I could stay in Mexico after my mission. As missions are wont to do, you end up realizing that all the time you spent teaching other people that you were the one being taught the most.

Poutine and French Canada

In a tribute to Tammy’s French Canadian background, we went to the St. James Brassiere restaurant up in Reno and had our first taste of poutine. I’d give it a thumbs up, but I wouldn’t call it fine cuisine being it’s only slightly more fancy than a Kentucky Fried Chicken Bowl. Finding out about Tammy’s  French Canadian ancestry explains so many things (wonderful things) about her. Quebecois blood runs deep in Tammy’s family.

The Branchaud branch of her family immigrated from Western France to Quebec in the 17th century and lived there for many generations before immigrating to Max Bass, North Dakota, a town with a current population of 91 people.

Quote

“There never was an angry man who thought his anger unjust.”-St. Francis de Sale