College Portfolio

Below are five features I wrote in my Communication 4640 course.

The Art of the Click-Clack 

Click, clack, click, clack. The clatter of high heels is a sound anyone can hear—that is if the person wearing heels knows how to properly walk in them.

Walking in heels is a talent—a form of art. Not everyone can put on a pair of 3-, 4-, or even 5-inch heels and strut their stuff without a bit of prose and practice.

Ben Mitchell, shoe salesman at Christensen’s Department Store, believes there is a style and height of heel specific to every age group.

Mitchell said the younger the person, the less support they need. Teenagers and young adults can more easily get away with wearing stilettos because they are still agile enough to keep their balance. Once a person reaches their 20s or 30s, Mitchell recommends a thicker heel, such as a platform or wedge.

“You’ll see different age groups wanting different things,” Mitchell said. ”The older you get, the lower (in relation to the ground) you want to be.”

Shorter heels make it so the body is not too far off the ground, which makes for more solidity.

Mitchell also said there is a variety of support provided with all styles of shoes. The wedge, which is the thickest heel, is the most stable. The stiletto, which is the thinnest and oftentimes highest heel, is the most instable.

Chandler Larsen, a student at Dixie State College and contestant in Miss Dixie 2011, said in order to be successful when walking in heels, the right heel needs to be worn.

Larsen said if it’s a tall heel, then look at the base, where the toes are.

“The thicker [the base] is with a high heel, the more comfortable it will be because your feet won’t be as arched,” Larsen said. “Also, the thickness of the actual heel will give you more balance. If you have a stiletto, it’s harder to maintain balance because your heel will consistently wiggle, and then you’re uncomfortable.”

Even with previously mentioned tips and tricks, people should not get defeated when they cannot walk in stilettos their first try.

Tiffany Anderson, a DSC student and junior clothing assistant manager at Christensen’s, said: “I would start with a smaller heel and let your ankles get stronger. Build up to a higher heel.”

Once the shoe fits, wear it—but remember there’s a correct and incorrect way of walking.

Anderson said get used to the shoe and familiar walking in it by wearing the shoe around the house before stepping out into the real world.

Krissia Beatty, Miss Utah 2012 finalist, said practice makes perfect.

“When you first start walking in heels, try to plan for a day when you won’t have to walk a lot and preferably only on flat surfaces,” Beatty said. “Basically after that it’s just practice by wearing them.”

Beatty teaches modeling in her spare time and was willing enough to share a couple tips she often tells her students.

“I tell girls to walk heel to toe because that helps you to stay balanced, and it makes you look sexy,” Beatty informed.

Another bit of advice Beatty gave to pageant girls was making sure they know where they’ll be walking ahead of time, specifically if they’re on stage, so they don’t have any sudden turns or poses that could throw off balance.

Larsen supported Beatty by saying: “You can’t expect to just throw on some 3-inch heel and own it your first time.”

Trevor Hunt, assistant manager at Shoe Carnival and seasoned actor, said it takes time adjusting to heels.

With performing experience, Hunt has worn heels with at least one of his acting roles. Hunt said after his first performance his legs, thighs and calves hurt badly afterward. It’s a matter of getting used to the heel, he said.

Once enough practice has been accumulated, step out into the world with confidence.

“Be confident,” declared Kami Gonzalez, resident of St. George. “If you’re nervous about [walking in heels], it shows.”

There are a number of ways to stand out and be confident when wearing heels.

“Don’t drag your feet or look at your feet while trying to walk,” Gonzalez suggested.

Podiatrist Michael Felley has treated a number of women suffering problems related to wearing heels.

“They’re highly not recommended from a physician’s standpoint,” Felley said.

Though heels are fashionable, they cause so much instability in the foot, ankle and legs.

“The truthful answer is heels are never good,” Felley advised. “It’s a cosmetic issue; it depends on if you want to go for stability in the foot or for fashion.”

Felley put emphasis on two degrees of pain related to wearing heels: chronic and acute. Chronic pain is long-lasting, and examples include fractures or hammer toes. Acute pain is sharp and intense, and examples include severe ankle problems.

Felley pointed out when wearing heels “your body puts so much more weight on a certain point of your foot rather than balancing it out, and you end up having problems…”

Once heels are worn, the ankle becomes less stable, creating more risk for acute fractures, ligament tears and twisted ankles, Felley stressed.

Regardless of his profession, Felley recognizes the importance of fashion. He said: “Obviously we all want to look good, so wearing [heels] sparingly is just fine, but wearing them constantly will eventually cause problems.”

Mr. Bumble's Buns Draws in Bustling Crowds

Christmas is a magical time, and for the Boulton family, the magic takes place at the Dickens’ Christmas Festival in their family-run booth, Mr. Bumble’s Buns. After spending year after year at the Dickens’ Christmas Festival, the family views the holiday as more than just unwrapping pretty packages.

The Dickens’ Christmas Festival provides a glimpse of a day in the life of Charles Dickens. Creating a feeling of 19th-century London, vendors line the festival streets, selling goods and charming crowds.

Customers with a sweet tooth will want to head to Mr. Bumble’s Buns, a booth offering an assortment of homemade cinnamon rolls. Mr. Bumble’s Buns is one of the most famous booths at the Dickens’ Christmas Festival.

Chuck and Leslie Boulton, along with their three children, Nick, 31, Brianna, 29, and Matthew, 27, have been working and running Mr. Bumble’s Buns for 32 years.

Leslie came up with the name of the booth from inspiration in Charles Dickens’ novel, “Oliver Twist,” where Mr. Bumble is the character in charge of the workhouse.

“Bumble was just this mean, grumpy old man,” Matthew said, though he was quick to clarify his dad, unlike the fictional character, is quite the opposite of grumpy.

The buns sell out every year, causing customers to wonder why Mr. Bumble’s Buns isn’t a full-time business.

“Cinnamon rolls do not sell when it’s hot,” Chuck said, explaining the frosted treat sells far better during cooler times of fall and winter.

Chuck said the secret recipe came from a combination of different recipes that his father, Bud, put together. The secret recipe is not written down anywhere but is instead locked up in each of the three Boulton boys’ brains. “We learned it through repetition, by watching my grandfather and father doing it,” Matthew said.

Because she is the only girl of the Boulton children, Brianna has been deprived of knowing the recipe. She sure had her piece to say about this: “Apparently since my last name is eventually going to change, I’m not allowed to have the recipe.”

Leslie added, “I’m the one who tweaked it, and they won’t give it to me now.”

Brianna and Leslie aren’t alone in wishing they had a glimpse at the magical mix, though. Chuck said there have been a number of people looking in the booth, writing as fast as they can, trying to steal the secret recipe.

Chuck also said people have come all the way up from Las Vegas just for a bite of the buns, and the buns have been shipped across the states. Brianna said she can always recognize the familiar face of one lady from Las Vegas, who says the only reason she comes to the festival with her children is to stop by Mr. Bumble’s Buns.

Leslie said she has heard a plethora of people say the same thing: “I used to think if I had a dollar for every person that told me that, I’d make twice as much money.”

The cinnamon rolls are served fresh out of the oven, and icing is added seconds before serving. The family never sells anything a day old. Each batch is 30 buns, and the record number of buns sold in a single day stands at 22 batches, totaling 660 buns. The cinnamon rolls are only available in one size and sell for $3 a bun.

Mr. Bumble’s Buns has to keep up with competitor prices, and besides the secret-recipe that has customers eyeballing from the other side of the counter, the $3 buns seem to do the trick. “Our buns should probably be selling somewhere between $4 and $4.50,” Chuck said. “Over 32 years, we’ve gone from a dollar to $3. We’re not out to gouge the public.”

Leslie said a number of kids perform at the festival and come to the booth with only a few dollars, so it’s important the prices remain relatively low.

“It’s Christmas!” Chuck exclaimed, agreeing that if he was to raise the prices of his buns, it would ruin the whole spirit of the season of giving.

What happens in the rare situation Mr. Bumble’s doesn’t sell every last bun? The family does not let a single scrap go to waste. If they aren’t able to sell the buns to other booth owners or cast members, they take the buns to businesses around town.

The buns are about 6 inches around and 2 inches thick—a hearty size some might argue is still not big enough. Flavors include cinnamon, cinnamon raisin, caramel pecan and an orange coconut and Craisins bun. It was Brianna’s idea to add dried cranberries to the originally orange coconut bun, creating one of the better selling flavors.

If it’s a lucky day, customers might get to try the secret-menu item, Sweeney Todd, a raspberry white chocolate cinnamon roll. “It looks like bones and blood,” Matthew said. “We named it after ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.’ We do it every once in a while just for fun.”

Matthew said with long hours, making for long days, there is a lot of stress. Chuck finds an easy way to relieve that stress by lying down on the concrete and resting his head on a bag of flour, something the Boulton children remember their grandfather also doing.

As with any family-owned business, drama is bound to unravel between family members. Brianna said, “There are days where you literally take your apron off, throw it down, and say, ‘To hell with this.’”

But most families in business think of ways to minimize the drama, and the Boulton family explains theirs.

“We try to keep it funny,” Chuck said. “We pull pranks all the time.”

Because the booth is near the main performing stage, Matthew’s favorite pranksters are the performers. “We always try to look up on stage and make the kids crack and laugh,” Matthew said.

“I think that Dickens’ will be the thing that our kids remember about Christmas,” Leslie said. Falling every year on Chuck and Leslie’s wedding anniversary, the festival is surely something these two will also remember. The couple’s anniversary this year will be yet another celebration spent the only way they know—hosting Mr. Bumble’s Buns at the Dickens’ Christmas Festival.

Dallas and the Daunting Days 

At age 27, Dallas Pearce has been an actor, body guard, bartender, EMT, real estate agent, student, and most admirably, a veteran.

Dallas served his country from March 2004 to June 2008, the latter marking when he left the service, ranked as an U.S. Army Sgt. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which occurs after people experience distressing events.

Reasons for enlisting
Just three years older, Brady Pearce quickly became an example to Dallas, as big brothers often do. As the two brothers matured throughout childhood and then adolescence, Dallas always looked up to Brady.

Enlisting in the Army was no exception.

“He wouldn’t have joined it I didn’t,” Brady said.

By the time Dallas joined the service, his brother was a Master Sgt. in the Air Force.

“He’s always done what I’ve done,” Brady said. “He was always trying to get the praise that I was getting.”

But Brady was quick to tell his younger brother that the Army would not exactly be his cup of tea.

“When he asked if he should go into the service, I told him no because he was exactly the opposite kind of personality that should be in the service,” Brady said. “He’s too free-spirited. He doesn’t want to be told what to do, and in the service you’ve got to be told what to do.”

Though Brady, an example to Dallas for so many years, warned his younger brother not to join the forces, it was a decision Dallas had to make for himself.

And he did. It was a spontaneous decision that changed his life.

Hurricane Katrina

After completing Army Airborne School, a three week program training which teaches students how to use a parachute in combat deployment, Dallas spent a number of weeks in New Orleans helping with the cleanup of Hurricane Katrina.

Dallas said out of all of the thousands of people who died in Hurricane Katrina, most were not killed by the hurricane, but rather by a mob of angry gangs.

“It was all gang violence and turf wars,” he said. “The reason why they deployed the 82nd Airborne down there was to fight off all the gangsters. The city was just a mess”

Dallas worked on foot patrol, trying to find the gangs and the rioters. He also participated in basic service projects, cleaning up debris on streets and in buildings.

Rotting bodies covered the streets, causing an uncouth smell in the air. Service members were not allowed to touch the bodies, so the bodies remained decomposed along the streets for weeks at a time.

Dallas lived in this environment for a month and a half.


Unable to even clean up during the cleanup of Hurricane Katrina, Dallas was overcome with joy when he got the call he was finally going to Baghdad.

After feeling helpless for so long, Dallas said he was finally getting a chance to go to Baghdad and “kick some Haji ass.”

Dallas headed overseas as a scout sniper. He described his duties.

“I kidnapped a lot of terrorists and bomb makers, and I participated in a lot of combat operations to take down high-value targets and Al Qaeda leadership operating in the Al Fadl area.”

Not only did he kidnap terrorists and bomb makers, but he also kidnapped children to rat out the terrorists and bomb makers.

“We kidnapped neighborhood children in the middle of the night ‘cause they always stay out way after dark playing soccer,” he said. “We’d let them play with our night-vision optics. Unloaded of course, we’d let them play with our weapons and see how cool they were, and we’d give them chocolate and basically foster really, really good foreign relations. Then we’d use interpreters to speak with them and get them to spill the beans on who was making the bombs in the neighborhood. That’s how we caught all our neighborhood bomb makers.”

The interpreters were Iraqis, which brought comfort to the children, allowing them to trust the American soldiers.

“Baghdad hasn’t had a functioning trash service since the late 1950s,” Dallas explained. “It just ends up on the street, and you have basically 20-30-40- years of garbage wherever you go. We actually had a sect of bomb makers who were creating paper mache rocks, and paper mache garbage, hiding explosive devices inside.”

Dallas and the men in his infantry always kept their eyes wide open to the terrorists.

His best and worst days
Amongst it all, though thousands of miles oversea, Dallas still had to deal with common problems of everyday life.

His worst day was nowhere near the horror story expected from the Hollywood portrayal of a soldier. It was nothing entailing blood or gore, injury or death. Dallas said his worst day was when his fiancé of five years sent him a letter explaining she was breaking up with him. While he had been faithful to her for years, she admitted she had cheated on him.

Dallas was quick to direct his attention away from this particular experience.

“There’s no good times deployed,” he said. “The closest thing I could come up with as a good time is maybe like, we all got exploded and everybody still had their fingers and toes, and it was a giddy-like ‘Oh! We’re alive!’ moment.”

He described his best day as sitting in Shannon, Ireland, making his way home in June.

“Knowing I was going home, provided I wasn’t part of a terrible plane crash accident, was a wonderful feeling. That was the best day of my life, always will be. Everybody’s really excited to go to war and more excited to come back.”

Life now

“I don’t sleep at night,” Dallas said. “I have a lot of night terrors, and I’m a terrible drunk. I will never be the same. I have to sleep in heavy footwear, otherwise I can’t sleep.”

He wears his boots to bed each night because he feels safer. He said there are only two times a soldier isn’t wearing boots: while showering and while changing into a fresh pair of socks. Dallas said everything else required in uniform is typically easy to put on. It’s not hard to throw on a T-shirt, button a pair of slacks, tighten a belt, and buckle a helmet, but taking the time to put on each boot, foot by foot, and lace each boot, foot by foot, is extremely time consuming.

Time consuming could mean the difference between life and death.

“I actually don’t feel the need to sleep with heavy footwear on when I’m with women,” he said. “I’m kind of normal. I don’t really have a lot of the symptomology you would expect from PTSD when I’m having intimate relationships with a female. Consequentially, I’ve been single going on four and a half years now, and there’s no sign of it stopping.”

Former girlfriend Audrie Mclendon said the war changed who Dallas was. She said he seemed calloused to life.

“He led on this life for a while that he was clean with smoking,” Audrie said. “We went on like four dates, and the last one he told me that he saw us growing old together and sitting on a park bench, but after I told him that I didn’t see that for us, he really freaked out and said that he smokes and all this other stuff. I was actually pretty afraid of him after that, hence us not seeing each other anymore.”

Greg Kinney, veterans’ compliance coordinator at Dixie State College of Utah and a retired Vietnam War veteran, said a lot of veterans have anger issues.

“Each person handles it differently,” Kinney said, explaining that he spent a decade of his life drinking his post-war troubles away. “I can count the sober days on one hand.”

And so can Dallas.

Scotch in hand, Dallas openly admitted he uses alcohol as a way to cope with the disorder. Cigarettes gripped tightly in the other hand, Dallas is also a severe chain-smoker.

“It amplified all of his bad qualities,” Brady said. “It made him lazy.”

“You remember the first scene in ‘Top Gun,’ where they’re all out at dock fighting to get back?” Brady asked. “Cougar, the pilot, who throws his wings on the table and is like, ‘I can’t do it anymore. I’ve got a wife and kids.’And they call Maverick and Goose in, and the guy’s like, ‘Cougar lost it—turned in his wings.’ That’s Dallas. He lost it and turned in his wings his whole life because that bad engagement messed him up so much.”

Currently struggling to make it to only two classes a week at hair school, Dallas is slowly losing what little grip he has on life.

He recently started seeing a therapist.

Blessings of Cody 

Raising a child with disabilities is not only a challenge but also a blessing.

The Lancaster family, from St. George, Utah, explained the joys of living with a disabled son, grandson, brother and friend. Each member of the family has been changed because of the awareness of disabilities they have been exposed to.

Cody Lancaster was born with CHARGE Syndrome. According to the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, the condition refers to individuals which have multiple birth defects, including coloboma (an eye abnormality), choanal atresia (blockage of the nasal passage), unusual ears or other problems. While many cases of CHARGE have been linked to a mutation of the CHD7 gene, the syndrome is primarily a diagnosis based on physical features.

Brother Chase Lancaster explained the syndrome in simpler terms.

“I don’t tell people he has CHARGE Syndrome,” he said. “I tell people he’s blind and autistic because people don’t know what CHARGE Syndrome is.”

Cody does not have heart problems, nor is he deaf, but he was born with no eyes and because he has choanal atresia, doctors didn’t expect him to live for more than two days. He is now 31 years old.

Cody went to special education classes in public schools until he was 7.

“It was then that his dad and I had him evaluated at the Oregon School for the Blind in Salem, one hour north of Eugene,” mother DeeAnn Lancaster said. “After an extensive three week evaluation, we were so impressed with the school that we made the decision to have Cody schooled there. We would drive Cody approximately 60 miles to school on Mondays, then pick him up and bring him home on Fridays. He spent four nights a week at the dorms on campus and three nights a week at home.”

There were several dorms on campus, staffed with a number of employees. Each dorm had a leader, often referred to as a dorm mother. The school campus also had an infirmary staffed with nurses, a cafeteria, bowling alley, roller rink, track, playground and swimming pool. Cody loved his time spent at Oregon School for the Blind and has fond memories of his friends and the time he spent there.

Cody needed several surgeries as a baby. He has a shunt because he was born with hydrocephalus, which is water on the brain. A shunt provides a passage and allows fluid to move off the brain. Cody’s shunt moves fluid from his brain to his chest cavity, where it’s absorbed. He had a cleft lip when he was born that was repaired by a plastic surgeon. He had surgery three times to unblock his nasal passage.

“Each time failed, so his dad and I decided against trying it again,” DeeAnn said. “Cody has lived his life not breathing through his nose. We think it is for this reason that Cody has never sneezed.”

When Cody was around 8 years old, he had his first seizure.

“That was a scary time for us because he wouldn’t come out of it,” DeeAnn said. “We had to take him to the emergency room so they could inject a drug to make the seizing stop.”

Doctors decided Cody needed to be on a seizure medication, so they gave him Dilantin, a drug that remains in the body anywhere from weeks to months after it’s initially introduced. After about three weeks, Cody broke out in a rash and became really sick.

“It turned out he was allergic to the Dilantin, but he had three weeks’ worth of the drug in his system, so he was hospitalized until it wore off,” DeeAnn said. “We did not think he would live through the illness. He was that sick.”

DeeAnn said the shunt the neurologist placed in Cody’s skull miraculously lasted until he was around 14 years old. It was then that Cody became extremely ill and had to have a new shunt. He spent over three weeks in the hospital. Once again, doctors didn’t expect him to live.

Because of staff infections and other problems, Cody had to have his shunt replaced two more times, for a total of three surgeries in a six month period.

Father Don Lancaster said watching Cody go through multiple surgeries is what influenced him to become an EMT.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “You have to always be prepared.”

DeeAnn echoed her husband’s words, describing the moment when she knew Cody had to be assessed for autism.

“After watching an episode about autism on ‘The Sally Jessy Raphael Show’…I decided Cody needed to be evaluated for autism,” DeeAnn said. “He had several of the characteristics that were discussed on the television program. He was able to be evaluated while at OSB and was diagnosed with moderate autism.”

Although Cody talks and doesn’t mind being touched—like most autistic people do—he hates having his routine changed, much like the movie ‘Rain Man,’ whose main character suffers from autism and has to do certain things at certain times and places.

Cody too has a routine he follows. He goes bowling on Mondays, eats a Twinkie for lunch on Tuesdays, watches ‘Survivor’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ on Wednesdays, walks the track on Thursdays, watches a movie on Fridays, watches cartoons on Saturdays, and attends church on Sundays. Although autism has its disadvantages, it also makes Cody who he is. He can be quite a character.

Chase said if anyone is watching television or listening to the radio with Cody, they can’t change the channel or the music because it breaks Cody’s routine. Chase laughed as he talked about the number of times he has watched a show he didn’t want to or listened to unpleasant music in order to keep Cody happy.

DeeAnn said in the case that his routine must be changed, Cody has to know well in advance.

“Heaven forbid Obama ever has to speak,” DeeAnn said with laughter, explaining that during breaking news events, such as presidential speeches, Cody throws a fit, not able to understand there are some things that just can’t be controlled.

Brother Casey Lancaster said having a disabled brother has been beneficial because you “learn to raise a kid basically.” Casey explained that Cody won’t use the bathroom without being told, and the family has learned to read Cody’s signals and needs from the non-verbal cues he gives.

These cues could be anything from something simple, like Cody fidgeting in his seat, or something more complex, like Cody becoming sad or angry.

Sister-in-law Talitha Lancaster married into the family July 2012 and has adopted Cody as her brother.

“I have learned in the period of time of getting to know Cody that he has his routine in things just like anyone else,” she said. “Now that I know Cody, I can’t even picture him not being around. I’m glad to have met him, and he’s a part of my family now.”

Cody has developed a close relationship with his father, and the two of them often joke with each other. Cody imitates his dad in every way, mostly by repeating things his dad says or the way he says them. His father, from South Carolina, has a strong accent, and Cody finds entertainment by pretending he’s also from the South.

Cody learned braille and mobility (how to walk with a cane) while at the school for the blind.

When the Lancaster family moved to Utah, Cody was once again placed in the public school special education program and involved in inclusion. Although he missed being with his friends and teachers at Oregon School for the Blind, he thrived being around “normal” peers. Some of his best friends were made through the peer tutor program at Pine View High School.

Upon leaving the public education system, Cody started attending TURN Community Services, a program providing services for people with disabilities. Much like school or a job, Cody is at TURN weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program provides an entertaining and educational environment for disabled individuals.

DeeAnn said the employees at the program have been exceptional. DeeAnn kept a note from a previous employee, Katie Johnson, who is no longer with TURN. Katie wrote: “It’s my last day today, and I wanted to do something special for Cody because he’s my absolute favorite client. There were a lot of days when Cody was my reason for coming to work, and I’m going to miss him a lot, so I made this mix CD for him to keep of songs that remind me of him or that he really likes.”

Cody loves listening to 95.9 The Hawk, 1980s music, watching home videos, eating Kit Kat candy bars and macaroni and cheese, watching the movie ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’, and playing Atari video games at his grandma’s house.

Cody does not like ice cream, popsicles, lollipops, gum or cold fruit.

DeeAnn said Cody used to eat cold foods when he was young but after his first dental surgery, his teeth became sensitive.

Cody has not only influenced his family, but he also has influenced everyone who has ever known him.

Cody is a miracle before anyone’s eyes. He has used his disability as a way to make others aware of the importance of life—and the greater meaning therein.

Brother Casey Lancaster said: “It wouldn’t be a life without Cody in it. He’s always been there. I wouldn’t know what it’s like without him.”

Grandmother Marilyn Crawford-Bauer also explained.

“He makes us think about what’s important in life and what’s special,” she said. “Things could be so much worse.”

Greasers Reunite With Christmas Album

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John no longer go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.

The famed “Grease” stars joined together in their holiday album, “This Christmas.” The proceeds of the album go to the Jett Travolta Foundation, which provides relief to disabled children, and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre. Even though the album was awful, I’m glad my money went toward a good cause.

Released on Nov. 13, 2012, the CD features classics, such as “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Deck the Halls” and “Auld Lang Syne.”

In “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Travolta sounds like he’s trying to imitate Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.” Not only is Travolta confused about who he wants to sound like throughout the song, he and Newton-John also struggle to harmonize their voices the entire track. After 35 years of not performing together, maybe they were just trying to remember how to synchronize their voices.

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” features Barbara Streisand, a music superstar who stooped low by singing alongside “Grease” has-beens. Though her vocals elevated the music, they also made Travolta and Newton-John sound like amateurs. Other featured artists include Tony Bennett, James Taylor and Cliff Richard.

The only non-traditional song was “I Think You Might Like It,” and I think I might’ve liked it. It sounded like a peppy country song and was a refresher compared to the remaining 12 Christmastime jingles.

A variety of instruments can be heard throughout the different tracks.

“This Christmas” highlights horn instruments, such as the trumpet, saxophone and trombone, sounding much like the NBC Orchestra on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

But the song’s jazz vibe was short-lived once the piano was introduced, placing the listener inside a “Charlie Brown” episode, where Linus is playing the piano like a Classical artist.

“Silent Night” follows “This Christmas,” and keeps the listener in the “Charlie Brown” mindset. The track features a children’s choir, sounding like the whole Peanuts gang in their famous Christmas episode.

“Silent Night” also features a flute and violin. The chords sound like a bagpipe, bringing forth an Irish flavor, like nothing else on the album.

If that isn’t for you, then change the track to “Deck the Halls” and the chime of a tambourine will bring back the ringing of the holiday.

This song features James Taylor, whose low-key voice makes the song less spirited compared to the original track.

While Taylor’s voice might be relaxing, this isn’t the type of album that you would want to listen to while cozied up near a fireplace—that is unless you’re interested in hearing Travolta and Newton-John talk and laugh throughout each track, as if they are catching up on missed years. Actually, the entire album seemed nothing more than a happy reunion of sweethearts Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsen.

If you’re not interested in the personal lives of Travolta and Newton-John, the only other reason you’d want to buy the CD is to benefit the chosen charities. If that’s your concern, simply write a $10 check and don’t purchase the album.

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