Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yeah, I'm writing about this. So what?

This is perhaps the most ridiculous thing for me to write about, but I don't care. Ladies and gentlemen, Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"

Or at least a link to it. Can someone tell me how to upload videos? I'm so bad at this. Oh well, let us begin the analysis! I love this video. I've watched about four times in the past twelve hours. Now let's get a few things out of the way right off the bat. Yes, I'm a male, and yes, Beyonce is smokin' hawt. And yes, this video has plenty of pelvic movement, but so does Newsies, and no one is accusing me of enjoy that too much.

Now let's talk about some of the silly things in this video before I tell you why it is the best thing ever in the whole world. The butt smacking is a bit silly. Also, there are some ironic lyrical inconsistencies. Beyonce sings: "Don't treat me to the things of this world, I'm not that kind of girl..." Now this stands in contrast to the central theme of "put a ring on it," which begs for a material symbol of an emotional commitment. Yeah, I know, it's just a metaphor, but isn't this fun to talk about? Also, the ring in the video contains a very large diamond. And that robot arm: what's the deal?

But now, as I said, I will tell why this is the best video ever forever in the history of history. It is a rare thing to see a music video that focuses on minimalism. There are three women in this video, only three, and no props, only leotards. The dancing is complex and beautiful— elaborate and graceful! It is the focus, an exclamation point at the end of a simple, black and white colored sentence.

Let's talk about the color. Is there a statement on race here? We have three African American women here in the video, but the idea of it being in black and white (a particular black and white that seems to shimmer silver) seems to remove color. We have women, strong graceful women, not women of a certain race.

the lights evolve and shift, giving fascinating contrasts over the movements, never letting things get boring. Conventions are ignored! There are no stupid story lines, no one in a club, no one at a house party, just the simple elegance of a complicated dance over a catchy tune. It is simple in concept, yet complicated in movement, and gives value where it is needed.

Now if only I could get paid for this, then my degree would be easier to defend.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Virginia in Winter

So here are pictures of Virginia in Winter. The same frozen flower is in here twice, I wasn't sure which picture of it I liked more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgivin' time!

I love Thanksgiving, I really do. It just might be my favorite holiday. There's something special about having no better reason to be together than just wanting to be thankful. Now I love Christmas too, but look: if I ruled the world, not a word about Christmas would be allowed to be uttered until Thanksgiving has properly passed. All this Christmas stuff can ruin Thanksgiving far too soon, like it's a holiday we just have to get through before the good stuff. No thanks! I want to sit in the Thanksgiving season, look at the changing leaves, and get sleepy from eating all that food. And I swear— if one more person comes and tells me how the first Thanksgiving was "not like we're taught in school" and goes on about small pox, I will tear the giant belt buckle off my large, black hat and smack the stuffing out of them. I know the Native Americans we're treated very well, but the holiday means something else now. It's not Columbus Day, for turkey's sake.

Last night I played my horn and sang (not at the same time) in our church's Thanksgiving concert. It was a pretty good time, my friend Caroline was there, so you can ask her and get a more honest opinion. Anyway, towards the end, our special guest, a Scottish gentleman named Stuart, gave a short devotional thought (Count the commas in that sentence!). He said this: "Thanksgiving, the spirit of the holiday, is counter-intuitive to most of western culture." It got me thinking. I appreciate the day even more now, that we can all stop, as a society, and think: "We are so blessed. Thank you."

I am so blessed. I thank God every day for the things he has provided, for the friends I have, for the family I've be given. I will try my hardest, and I ask you to keep me accountable, to appreciate Thanksgiving all the more, not because of the season, not because of the colors, not because of the sweaters, and not because of the food, and not even just because I get to spend time with friends and family, but because I've been blessed with those things. Thanksgiving is wonderful not because we get together, hang out and eat, but because we get together, hang out and eat. I know that there are people who are not going to enjoy their Thanksgiving. I know that there are people who do not have as much as I do, materially, in friends and family, in people that love me, but I will not ignore the fact that I have been given those things. To do so would be a slap in the face to the one who gave them. So thanks, God, and thank you friends and family, thank you internet for letting me write these things. I hope and pray that we all get the chance not just to enjoy the day and the company, but to really, truly give thanks for it all.

bye now!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tally Ho, Academia!

OMG, life right? Totally. It like, happens all fast and crazy. So it looks like I'm taking this whole creative writing thing seriously. Next quarter I'm in independent study, and I thought it would be a great idea to make it as hard as possible. That's why next quarter I'm writing a grad school application essay, as well as one hundred pages of another, single storyline.

I'm excited! I am discovering this real passion for academia. I thought I would have to convince myself that I liked it so that I could survive in graduate school, but it turns out I like it just fine. I've even started research outside of classes for departments and my own masochistic curiosity. But I love it, and it's so interesting.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say, I don't have an outline or anything. I guess I'm just trying to express my excitement for more and more learnin'! I have tons of friends who tell me that they can't wait to get out of the University, but for me, whenever graduation is mentioned I cry a little inside. Good thing I don't plan on stopping. I'm getting too much out of it.

Plus, this way someday I'll have to wear tweed, as some sort of requirement! This guy knows what I'm talking about. Check him rockin' that tweed. Somebody get me some elbow patches, I don't want to wear this jacket out.



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Staring History in the Face

I could go on and on about how hopeful I am, I could write about how excited I am to see the world change before my eyes, I could tell you how happy I am to be proud of the people, but I'm guessing you've gotten the gist of that by now, and you've probably heard others say it better than I can. Instead I'll just tell you about what happened to me last night after the election was over.

I walked a friend home after an election party and heard what could only be described as "elation" buzzing through the street. I saw a large group of people sweep by and round a corner. I stopped, took a deep breath, and said to myself, "If I don't follow them, I am going to regret it." I wandered through the crowd, winding through the University District, until we arrived at Red Square, where hundreds of people filled the steps of Suzzalo library, chanting "Yes we can!" "Yes we did!" and a couple failed attempts at the star spangled banner. It was amazing. I found a couple of friends, we stared at the crowd, and we stood in awe and reflected on the fact that we, the people, had changed the world.

The crowd began to dissolve, but a large throng continued down the street. I found some more friends, and decided to keep going, no matter where the crowd was going. I wanted to be able to look at text books in the future and say yes, I was there, I joined in the celebration. My friends and I walked all the way from the University of Washington to Broadway and Pike, on Capitol Hill. In case you don't know, that is a long freaking walk. There was even a moment when we lost a member of the party, the adrenaline was dropping, and the celebration seemed just out of reach. But no! The two of us who kept going were well rewarded.

There, in the street, was a huge group of strangers, so many of us with not much in common, but we were all there, we were all happy, we were all celebrating, and we were all proud to be American. It was a night I will carry happily for the rest of my life, it is a night so many of us shared, and so many of us will look back on fondly. Thanks strangers, thanks friends, thanks fellow Americans. Tomorrow looks pretty exciting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Kids Are All Alright

I have a question. Is it wrong that part of my desire to work for a doctorate stems from a hope that I will one day have but a taste of the life of Indiana Jones? That a dream of mine is to be the adventurous academic that knows the score and where the action is? And why is it that gambling in James Bond movies looks so classy, so sexy, but when you go to Las Vegas it feels like an arcade for the elderly?

I am doing well. I think everyone in the world had a rough week last week, but personally there's a lot to look forward to. There is a lot going on this year. A great deal of creative work is needed before I graduate, and it is very exciting and daunting at the same time, but I have to be honest with myself. It wouldn't be worth it if there wasn't a challenge.

A good deal of my friends also have a good deal on their plates. We are all starting to feel a little strain. But you know what? They are the most intelligent, talented group of people I know. I have complete confidence in them. They are brilliant, they are capable, they are there for each other. I am constantly impressed by what they can produce. Especially since our fields are pretty diverse. I pray for them everyday, and I am constantly assured that they will hold strong. Sometimes we just have to remind each other.

Anyway, my point is that the kids, they can handle it. I feel good. I hope they feel the same.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hold on

I have something to say, but I just can't remember what it is. Maybe it's about politics. Or like, truth and beauty or something. Or maybe how much Joe the Plumber annoys me. Seriously, man. Check back later, there will be something profound.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Somethin' New

Ask me about being provided for, that's a good story I'd love to tell you in person.

Anyway. My advanced short story class (oh that's right— advanced) recently went through our first batch of short stories, of which mine was included. It was a startling process, especially after having spent so much time recently in my Writing Center training course. Allow me to explain. In Writing Center theory, the idea is (and this is a gross simplification) that the tutor is an equal, they and the writer sit side-by-side, the tutor asking questions to help the writer become better at their skill. Theoretically, both people bring something to the table, and both should leave with something more, even if it's just a warm fuzzy feeling. I give those out like candy.

Now when you get critiqued in a short story class, everyone in the class reads the work and you all sit in a circle. If your story is read, then you remain completely silent while everyone in the circle talks about what they liked or didn't like in your story. Sometimes someone will come in with discussion questions about your story.

Such was the case last Tuesday. I had spent four weeks reading and writing and practicing writing center theory, and then Tuesday came and I had to sit silent while a group of people that I do not know too well picked apart the themes of my story. Now hold on, there's value to that. You can't always be there to explain things to your readers. You can't always be around to say what you really meant or point out where they just "didn't get it." It's often very cool to hear people talk out your work, and how they got things out of it that you didn't mean to put in. I appreciate it.

But the flop side is this: with a community of student writers, none of which who are paid professionals enjoying a creative lifestyle, we all tend to fall into the trap of reading work and saying to ourselves, "their story isn't a s good as mine because..."

I think that there should be a new model. I think that some of the best writing is accomplished by two friends that want to see each other succeed, but who are honest with each other. Now obviously, the University can't force friends out of people and pair them up to make them better writers. You can't be assigned a muse or inspiration. But if you ask me, it can be encouraged much more than it is now. Writers, I encourage you: find someone who writes that you trust and want to see succeed. Help them be the best writer they can be, and hope they return the favor. I'll be looking for mine, I hope you're looking for yours.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Here are more things

Hey guys. I have a couple more of things to show you. I'm a little nervous about it, but oh well! Enjoy, if you wish. Again, click for a better view. This one above is actually my favorite

Thursday, October 2, 2008


So when I was a kid, I thought that the term "separation of church and state" meant that the government hated my church and did not like me singing in the choir. As I got older, I thought it was all about just keeping prayer out of schools, which sounds like bullying to us Jesus lovers if you live in suburban Colorado.

My mother helped me see it differently. Church is not just Christianity, and thinking so is a bit ignorant of me.

Looking at this current political season, I am caused to mull over my thinking of the topic again, and perhaps encourage others to think about it. Sarah Palin made a comment in tonight's debate that to many people, myself included, would find gentle and kind, but when said in the political environment, it felt... awkward. Governor Palin said to Senator Biden that his wife's treasure was in heaven for teaching for thirty years. Said personally over lunch, in a church, or in someone's home, a lovely comment, but out in the open during a debate, I had to think: does Christ want in our politics? Let's keep this brief, I could go on all day.

We should keep the church and the state seperate. I will tell you why I think this way. There is the very simple, clean view of states run by religion have a history of performing terribly. There, easy answer. Here's another: the government belongs to man. It is in place by man and rules over man. Our accountability to God is between us and God. We have governments to prevent total anrachy, and to prevent folks from murdering each other over fender-benders (I generalize). We do not have governments to make sure that my relationship with God is tip-top. We do not have laws making sure that I'm praying before lunch. We do not have laws that make sure I'm not lying and being an all-around jerk. That's my relationship with God, not my relationship with my government, my morality is a tough thing to ink into broad laws for everyone.

And here's the kicker: Christ said, "Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser's, and to God what is God's." So yeah, respect your government, but remember who you have the most important relationship with. The final note: if Jesus wanted to be the political and literal King (or president), he would have came and done so. But you know what? He came as a back-woods lecturer and teacher who just happened to be God as well. I don't think he wants to be voted into office.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Post of Arguable Substance

Welcome back, readers! What a time we're having. Are you excited to be here? I sure am. Today I'm throwing up some color photos from the ol' plastic camera. Take a gander, slip a stare, give a hoot, don't pollute. An interesting thing to note: These pictures, when held in you hand, are often very interesting, but occasionally just look like photos of an interesting size. But once you scan them, well it seems that another aesthetic slips over, a spectral film that adds to a vintage look. Sometimes I like the scan better. I am distracted and my writing is disjointed. But look! Pictures!That's Matt Costa, he performed at school a little bit ago. I am under the impression that he and I are best friends.
This is what happens when you leave the shutter open and slide the camera through the air.
I was a little dissapointed that I didn't get this one to turn out with him up close, but you know what? Instead of just a pictuer of a musician, it became an interesting photo that happened to have a musician in it.
Ah, the University. Look at that color! Fascinating. Well today I'm turning in a roll of black and white 35mm film that I jimmied into my 120 camera, so we'll see how that turned out! PEACE.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So I saved up and bought myself this small plastic camera called a Holga. Plastic body, plastic lens, it shoots onto 120 film and prints out square images. Before you are my favorite shots from my first roll.

Here's Steven in the hardware store. I like how it's blurred and unfocused, but still symmetrical.

This one's probably my favorite out of the bunch. Dogs are pretty awesome, you see.

Notice the vignetted corners there in the top

I have no idea how this image became so sharp.

Look who it is! My good friend Alex was spotted on the Ave that day! Notice the light leaks there at the bottom running up her coat. Signature Holga! 

Well I hope you enjoyed it. Tomorrow we'll have some color images from the Matt Costa concert at school and some other things. Huzzah! It is far past my bed time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm dreaming of you, Kiddo.

Did you know that every time you sleep, no matter what, you dream? Of course you did, you're awfully smart.  You also know that the average dream, no matter how long it seems, lasts only a matter of seconds. Science! Crazy, right?

I had an embarrassingly trivial dream last night. It meant nothing, but it really bothered me, and got me thinking about this whole thing. Sometimes I have dreams that are not nightmares, there is nothing terribly disturbing going on, but I wake up hating them, hating that I went through it. Do you ever feel that way?

Now of course the opposite is true as well! I have dreams that can be awfully mundane, just some weird conversation or I think that I'm cooking— I don't know it doesn't matter, but I wake up desperate to sink back into it, or create it in the real world. But it's just an emotion, ecstasy, fear, whatever, laid over images in my spinning mind. 

Then of course there are the dreams that follow some chain of events, or feature my friends and family, where something really happens that I can react to in as reasonable a way as dreams allow ("You only have french fries left? THERE IS NO JUSTICE." Not an uncommon interjection for my subconscious).  Sometimes I wake up with someone on my mind, like I haven't been abel to stop thinking about them, but I didn't necessarily dream about them. Almost as if they were lingering just out of sight during the whole thing. And other times two or more people will be merged into one stranger that waltzes in. Kah-kah-kah-razy! 

I suppose what I'm really getting around to is that I never dream what I want to dream. I'll enjoy my dreams, sure! Sometimes they're much more enjoyable than anything I could come up with (which is, of course, the irony of it all, seeing as how I am coming up with it). But my subconscious, unfortunately, does not work like a day on TRL. I never get to dream that I rescue a beautiful lady-love while riding bare-backed on a Tyrannosaurus Rex while brandishing a light saber. My dreams never seem to revolve around me being the captain of my clipper ship, "The Ursalina," and its rocket engines blasting across the seven seas to an island populated by well-read women who swoon at the sight of my nautical coat as Sigor Ros plays loudly in the background. 

I think I'll try extra-hard tonight. I'll top it off with something spicy right before bed. 

I had a dream the night I wrote this in which I was a member of the Law & Order SVU unit, except we caught child molesters on a Star Destroyer from Star Wars, instead of New York City. Awesome? 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm listening

What are you listening to? I need ideas.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dry Spells

"April is the cruelest month..." says T.S. Eliot at the beginning of The Waste Land. I tend to agree with everything T.S. Eliot says out of blind fanboy-dom (an odd thing for a modernist poet?) but I wish to add a footnote. "April is the cruelest month, but September can suck pretty bad too." Perhaps it lacks a certain eloquence. 

What's my reasoning? Well since the start of college all those years ago, September has represented that odd purgatory in my day planner, the limbo of my calendar. For the majority of the month, while the rest of the world (okay, the states at least) is starting their routine for an exciting new year, I sit around trying to figure out what to do with myself as I wait for my quarter to start. 

A lot of people go home or squeeze in one last exciting adventure. I encourage it, but never really follow suit. Not that I don't want to, I just, say, forget, can't afford to, or simply think that I have just enough things going on to keep me here and sufficiently bored out of my skull. 

But no more! Yes, do you hear me internet? Not this mid-late September! I will NOT sit on my patoot and wish I was always somewhere else doing something else! I think I'll read. I think I'll finish my book and start another. I think I'll write. I think I'll expand on my story and churn out something else. I think I'll go to work when I don't really need to; but perhaps bring my book when nothing's going on. I will embrace the peace and quiet! I will nestle in the open days! Perhaps I'll learn how to make something other than (and cheaper than) cheesecake. Perhaps I'll build a robot. Perhaps I'll catch a chipmunk and teach it to paint, or at the very least how to match up to those other chipmunks

This is not a pity party. This is a call to arms. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bumber that shoot!

Welcome to Bumbershoot, 2008! There are a lot of pictures up and about, so let's get this going and take up as little space as possible. First thing's first: Saturday, the first day, our little crew meandered threw the early afternoon crowds and plopped ourselves down in front of the main stage to await one of the biggest draws for us all. Yes, the wonderful Neko Case.
A personal show for us, to be sure. We were feet from the stage, we watched with mouths agape and souls ready for an outpouring of alternative country. She did not disappoint. I suppose I can make a little check mark on my "people to see before I die of nuclear poison or brain tumor caused by cell phone use" list. We saw a couple of other things that day, including a fiction reading and Strange Fruit, something that can't really be explained. Surreal, beautiful, please follow the link and do yourself a service. That evening we made it over to quite the performance by Band of Horses, seen in this little photo. They're the little things on the stage. Ask about the strange cooing noises that came from the show, and also how to keep musical time with your head and floppy hair. You'll probably enjoy the description that will follow. Here's the big one for me. I was excited to see M. Ward, I bought my pass to see him and Neko Case. That was the big draw for me. He came out and began to play, and I knew it would be a great show, but I had no idea how great it would be. M. Ward is known for a sort of softer, almost southern blues/alt. folk hybrid kind of sound, but here he was with several guitars and two drummers with complete kits, rocking rather hard and playing awfully kickin' solos. Every so often, very talented musicians like to come on stage and say, "Hey, this is why you're a fan, remember? Because I'm awesome." His fingers were just... possessed by talent running up and down the neck of that guitar.
Sunday I forgot to bring my camera, so I'll just tell you quick and hope I keep your attention. Nichole, my Bumbershoot Buddy, and myself wandered around and enjoyed a good deal of the art going on that night and afternoon. It took a good deal of effort to pull us out of the poster show, which was particularly awesome. Awesome. Anyway, we eventually met up with Kelly "The Kook" and sat down at the main stage to enjoy The Black Keys. For just two men, they certainly fill that space with more sound than most people would know what to do with. It was amazing. Now afterwards, a pucked Kelly understandably headed home, but Nichole and I decided to check out Final Fantasy. We knew nothing — nothing — about this performer, only that another one of our friends would probably be there, and that doesn't give much info as to musical styling. Oh, and there might be a violin involved. Imagine our gleeful surprise. It was an amazing display of talent and imagination.
Next day— the final one, a big one.
First up, Blitzen Trapper. Solid show, very enjoyable to be sure. Next was another viewing of Strange Fruit, this time with film cameras in hand. Those colors, folks... The day progressed, and we found ourselves just in time for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. I'm in great danger of rambling on and on, so I'll just say this: fantastic. Others can fill in the rest. Next? Yes, dear readers, it was Battles. Sure I had to try and push back a sea of teenagers, but you know what? They put on an amazing show.

I was inspired. Moved. Shaken. For those interested, my band, "Skirmishes", will be releasing our first EP next month. It was a fascinating thin to watch. Again, others can give better details, I'm starting to get very tired.

Finally, I was able to see a band that I've been trying to catch for years. Death Cab for Cutie ended at the main stage. Now I love Death Cab (I don't care what you say) but I quickly realized something. Are they a great band? Yes. Are they talented? Yes. Do they perform with energy? Yes. Can they fill a stadium? Well I'm looking at a full stadium right now. Are they a stadium band? No. Not at all. They're not like Journey, U2, or even Coldplay. Their sound is more personal. Look, I'll be honest, you just shouldn't crowd surf to a track like Title and Registration, but you know what? I saw kid after kid get passed over the crowd like a piece of food being passed down by centipede legs.

All in all: Top notch, folks. I don't regret a single moment. Except when I sucker-punched that one girl in the mosh pit for The Offspring. I'm kidding, that didn't happen, I didn't go to the Offspring show.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I don't know about you, but I've noticed a disturbing trend. It seems that gay bashing jokes are making a big run in entertainment today. 

Now I'm not gay, but I can't help but be offended. Maybe it's that whole "white people getting offended for other people" thing, and true I don't know how many homosexuals respond to it, but I personally have had enough. I recently saw Tropic Thunder, perhaps against my better judgement, and was shocked at how a gay joke was a huge punch-line for one of the characters. I also saw the Comedy Central roast of Bob Sagat, again, against my better judgement, and 75% of the material was along the lines of "Dude, Bob Sagat you are so gaaaaaay." Ha ha, right? You're laughing aren't you? Oh wait, you're not because it's not funny at all. 

I saw two clips of a new animated show coming out on HBO, and guess what? Gay jokes and stereotypes. Part of me wonders if the people involved in the comedy think that since gay rights are gaining that perhaps it's "edgy" or even "ironic" to do gay jokes, or maybe it's worse than that, that there's just some vague excuse for masking easy, discriminatory laughs. But I must confess, I am probably guilty of it too. I have what some people have described as a "gay voice," a little character voice, you know, but I like to think that it has evolved into just an eccentric voice, not a caricature of a people. For that, I ask forgiveness.  

Now I don't get offended easily. (Sure, my feelings get hurt, but that's different from offense, you know?) Anyway, I don't get offended too easily. I try to have a sense of humor about myself and even my faith, because I believe that there's room for that and it's healthy. And of course, any community has to have a sense of humor about itself or it won't last too long. If I'm wrong, please stop me, but what I'm saying is that I think that people can hold themselves to a higher standard then a series of homophobe jokes. We can hold ourselves, and as consumers, we should hold the entertainers and comedians and producers to a higher standard as well. That's my opinion. I'm open for what you have to say. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Analyze my writing of your analysis of their writing of an analytical work...

Writing is awfully complicated. 

I just watched Barton Fink today, and I thought how interesting it was that I could relate to the main character, in all of his self inflated reasoning and passion to change the world. Being a "creative" writer can be difficult, as Barton expressed, because it isn't always... respected(?) I don't know where that's going, so we'll wander a different direction. 

It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I wonder if creative writing, if fiction is somehow less valid than other forms of the written word. Have you ever met someone who has said, "I don't read fiction"? I sure have. Fiction can have a stigma of just being stories someone made up. No big deal. 

Sometimes I see people so invested in other writing, non-fiction, analysis, anything of anything, and I think about how complex and wonderful it is. I find myself jealous! I suddenly want to write more essays with as many big words as I can think of! I want to just think instead of manifest characters or plots. I wonder if the analysis of a story is more important then the story itself. I believe that I am coming to a fascinating point of thought in this arena. 

The creators and the analysts need each other. It's a beautiful partnership! Would we have The Waste Land if we didn't have people talking the crap out of it? Would I still be reading Frankenstein in class if people hadn't written tomes about its themes? I love it! I love being on the side that I'm on! I love analysis, I find it fulfilling, but I love creation. But perhaps even more than I love sitting at a desk and thinking up the craziest crap I can, perhaps even more than I love talking about how The Road just messed me up inside, I love the dialogue between the two. I love the ever evolving realizations. 

Good works still speak. Good books last because there is so much for us to get out of them. Good stories, good analysis stay with us in our heads and our conversation because they sharpen our senses and our observations. So many books still speak because people find things that even the authors didn't notice or necessarily intend. Discussion allows works to evolve, and works are the fuel for discussion and I love it so freaking much. 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Because shoehorning things into lists makes thinking so much easier...

As lists go, "Top Tens" always anger someone. "How could you forget (insert whatever)?" "What on earth do you mean (blank) is better than (blank)?"

So in the spirit of easy categorization and quirky things that linger in my mind, I present for your approval and disapproval: "Kyle Reardon's Top Ten Favorite Album Openers." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I present for your discussion, my favorite "track number one's" around. So far. These things are always evolving and changing, meaning that in the end they can be viewed as little time capsules of thought, or completely and totally worthless. 

Let's start at number ten (even though I don't think I'll really be counting them down in any real order aside from perhaps the number one!) 

"U.R.A. Fever" from Midnight Boom — The Kills
I'm a sucker for sound effects before tracks, but let's be honest, they can get blown out of proportion, but lucky for you and me, U.R.A. Fever's dial tone is a seductive intro into the heavy bass and drawling lyrics. 

"Concrete Bed" from The Weight is a Gift — Nada Surf
A single note that jumps into an energetic rhythm gifted with poignant lyrics: "To find someone you love, you got to be someone you love." Makes sense to me. "Like yourself!" they say over a rushing melody. I'll do my best, Nada Surf, I'll do my best!

"Concerning the UFO Sighting near Highland, Illinois" from Feel the Illinoise! — Sufjan Stevens
I can't get over Sufjan Stevens. This song, however, might be his best intro into any of his albums. The melancholy flavor peppered with hopeful note progressions not only makes for a beautiful track, but also gives a hint toward the fascinating concoction of tones throughout the album. 

"When The Lights Go Out" from Rubber Factory — The Black Keys
No song— I repeat no song puts me in a different place as quickly and effortlessly as this one. I get flung into some kind of romanticized alternate American South, one that works hard on being dirty. Shoot, son, I love it. 

"Sentimental Heart" from Volume One — She & Him
I'll admit, I was excited but nervous that one of my favorite musicians, M. Ward, had teamed up with one of my favorite actresses, Zooey Deschanel. Could it be as good as I hope and pray it to be? Thirty seconds into Sentimental Heart and I realize that it's better, better than what I had dared to hope for. 

"Plead the Fifth" from Five Score and Seven Years Ago — Relient K
Say what you will about the bubble gum pop that is my favorite band from High School! But know this: a great opening track has to get you excited to listen to the rest of the album, and that first humming note joined by that thumping bass pedal... you don't want to stop listening. 

"Things that Scare Me" from Blacklisted — Neko Case
This song is an attention getter. You almost have to stop and say to yourself: "What? What's that? And more importantly, what's next?"

"Gobbledigook" from It's Icelandic, I'm not even going to try. — Sigur Ros
This song feels like coming out of a dark cave, an introduction into running through whatever wonderful images play through your head for the rest of the album. 

"Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car" from The Shepherd's Dog — Iron & Wine
People have a tendency to say the same thing about every Iron & Wine album. "Well It's not The Creek Drank the Cradle." You know what? Shut up. This first track seems to say, "Look how exciting this evolving sound is. Won't you stick around?" How could I not?

"Marching Bands of Manhattan" from Plans — Death Cab for Cutie
Sorry, Haters. Say what you will, Death Cab has a pretty solid run of first tracks. Plans isn't even my favorite of their albums, but I don't think any of their first tracks said what this one did. With a rather strong following after the melancholy Transatlanticism, Plans scarred a few die hards and brought in a whole new crop of radio fans. In my opinion, "Marching Bands of Manhattan" was a beautiful announcement. It begins with a touch of that familiar sound from previous albums, but builds and builds into a hopeful parade of hoping progressions and simple, clear hope. 

Well, love it or hate it, this is kind of how I think this list looks for me, as of this single moment in history. I even changed it as I was writing it. I suppose it will never be finished, as long as albums keep coming out, but isn't that part of the fun in life? Evolving opinions show that we're willing to listen to new ideas, not that we're weak minded. In other words, you should change your opinions to adhere to mine. 


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Of Christ and Kermit

The whole DC day by day thing lost a little steam. But here's something and a little something more!

The other day the little bros. and myself were wandering from art gallery to art gallery when something caught my eye: An exhibit on Jim Henson! Someone had taken some of the most important pieces of my elementary development and put them in a museum! Such pure, untainted joy ran through my body!

We ran downstairs, and there he was, in his photograph free glass case: Kermit the Frog, sitting there, happy to see me. Around the corner sat Rolf, the piano playing dog, kiddy corner to him sat Bert and Ernie. I couldn't believe it! I was so happy to see these hollow, felt creations that just sat there, lifeless. But I knew how animated they could be. I knew how entertaining Sesame Street and The Muppet Show were to me as a kid. It meant something! I had to think, walking around with my little brothers. They had never watched Sesame Street 
(WHAT?!). They had never seen The Muppet Show right before they had to go to bed, the last program before Nick at Night. In twenty years, will Hannah Montana's wig be in the Smithsonian? Will there be an exhibit on Pokemon? I hope not, but at the same time, that's selfish. Their history should be preserved to, no matter how much it might annoy me. 

Then I started thinking about Jesus! (Hang tight. I don't really have a transition, but... I want to talk about it and it's my blog, so...) I had gone to my family's new church the Sunday before and had enjoyed the quaint service very much. The sermon, however, was a somewhat shallow fluff piece about giving yourself to Christ without much substance as to why outside of 'you'll be happy' (True, but it means so much more! It's so personal, so interesting, so adventurous!) It was peppered with a Southern style flair that was very enjoyable and blended with an extended sports analogy, but it got me thinking about something totally different, something I would like to call, 'The Greeting Card Jesus.'

The only Jesus that I could imagine while he was talking was the blank faced, white skinned, wavy haired, blue sashed Jesus. Is there anything wrong with this image? Not necessarily, besides the fact that Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, and was probably rather short and definitely not white, but I'm not going to complain about aesthetics. What I realized, though, is that there is obviously a Jesus product these days. I'm not talking about "The Man" and making money, though no doubt there's that element, what I mean is that I am rather tired of my Lord being something I by at a bookstore. I wanted the real Jesus, not one that had been morphed into a comfortable image. I wanted to see the real Jesus, who has a sense of humor, who got angry, who loved with sincerity and probably gave the best hugs in the history of the world. 

I wanted the substance. I wanted the cake, not just the frosting. I want the real Jesus who loves without ceasing, who always has the time to listen to anything and everything you have to say, who challenges you to love everyone, who asks you to forgive everyone because he's perfected the art. I've decided to look for Him with all I can. 

On a side note, sometimes when I try to imagine a modern day Jesus, he's always wearing a leather jacket (though probably faux leather. He's not too down with the whole 'killing for fashion' thing). It's funny, and you know what? I'll put a lot of money on the table that says he thinks it's funny too. 

I'm going to leave this one up for a while, so I'll see you guys later.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

D.C./Virginia Day 6

Arlington National Cemetery today. JFK, Jackie O, President Taft, and countless veterans. I'll admit, I think I wander of the path of legality and snuck over to a tombstone or two and stole some grave rubbings. Crayons and newsprint has never made me feel so rebellious. I hear it's a gateway crime to grave robbing. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. 

Since it is tremendously difficult to talk in depth about a graveyard without wandering into the realms of morbidity or perhaps unwanted reverence (these past posts have been full of that anyway), I thought I'd take today to give some details on how life is lived here on the East Coast. Take for example, my family's new home. 
When furnishin
g the house (that belongs to The Salvation Army) my mother asked me what kind of linens I wanted in the room that would serve as my bedroom/the guest room. I replied: "I want it to be as east coast as possible." I think that we accomplished that aesthetic. Note the navy blue trim to the bedding, complimented by the deep cherry color of the nightstand. Underneath the bed is where I keep my yacht, all of my pastel sweaters are folded neatly in the drawers there. The horse (a kentucky thoroughbred named "Ol' Blue Glory") is tied of to the lamp there, getting rested up for my next polo match. Here in this 
mirror is where I make sure that my hair is perfectly parted before I jump into the golf cart to spend the day with various moguls of various trades. The closet reflected there is where I keep all the oars for our crew team at the university, next to my fencing foils. I only wear Eddie Bauer now. On a realistic note, above is a picture of a rather common-looking hose in this area. Affluent, yes, but the point that I was really trying to make is that brick is commonplace in almost every building. Every home almost has at least one brick wall, not because they are old houses, not because they are meant to be "colonial" (well maybe, I don't know) but really, it's just how it's done. Almost as if you suggesting not using brick you'd be laughed at.

And then the building crew would throw one of their bricks at you. Goodnight, I love you very much. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

D.C./Virginia Day 5

What do you say to that? I memorized the Preamble when I was in fifth grade. Those were really the only words that came to mind as my little brothers and I stepped from document to document, drinking in the most important pieces of parchment for our Country. HOLY CRAP, RIGHT?

I felt kind of apathetic, while I was there. I wasn't sure why. Was I just like an eight grader, dragged here out of obligation? Or did I really care? I refused to believe that it meant nothing to me. I think I figured it out. I think it was all the people around. Now I know that it belongs to all of us, that we all claim it for who we are, but I kind of wanted... like... alone time with it. Just me and the Constitution. You know, a more romantic setting for the Declaration of Independence and me. I just wanted quiet, I guess... and candles. 

Next was our man Lincoln. So regal! So brilliant! It was terribly fascinating to stand there, not only for Lincoln, to reflect on what he stood for, reflect on what he had done, but also for what has happened at that spot specifically. Remember Martin Luther King Jr.? So many people stood for so much in that little area. I could only imagine what it was like! Would I be brave enough to march? Would I care enough? 

Joke time! How many amendments does it take to end slavery? Thirteen! HAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, sometimes facts just aren't funny. I'll be totally honest with you, I'm just trying to fill the space to the end of this photo. 

Blah blah
History is neat
Yadda yadda yadda.

I guess this is where things get heavy. I didn't have any relatives or ancestors in Vietnam, at least not to my knowledge, but this was a very important visit for me. All those names, right in your face. People with families, histories, ambitions, goals, girlfriends, sweethearts, terrible crushes that would never work out, kids, honor, self sacrifice, all of it. Try to leave all the politics out and what are you left with? Respect. Ditto for the Korean War memorial. 
Let's end this one on a high note. Here is a photo of SpongeBob SquarePants. Well, okay, if he had been turned into a frozen treat of summer joy, had his eye balls removed and replaced with gum drops, and seemed to be filled with a terrible, awful, paralyzing fear of everything. 
Goodnight! Arlington Cemetery tomorrow!

Monday, August 4, 2008

D.C./Virginia Day 4

In Transit
Originally uploaded by kyle_reardon
Well I'm having a bit of trouble uploading photos right now, sos we're going to have to stick with just this one photo. I guarantee there will be some more photos soon! And good ones, dear reader, good ones.

Well the ghost tour was postponed until next week, but that's okay, today was a big day. I woke up early and dropped my parents off at the airport— they're in Florida right now for a big Salvation Army youth event. Then I went home, took a minute to pray, and then wandered upstairs to begin my week with the little bros (bro's?). It was awfully exciting, I couldn't wait for the nine o'clock reduced metro fare to start. (See picture) 

Wes, David, and myself boarded the train and rolled down the track- past The Pentagon, through Arlington Cemetery, then finally... THE SMITHSONIAN. Today we crammed in three of the Smithsonian's.. smithians... smithikers... we went to three different museums. 

           Museum the first! The National Museum of Natural History. First, we wandered through the blacked bones of ancient beasts! Stood in awe of the monsters towering above us, their teeth turned to deadly stones, hungry for the flesh of innocents! Be they mere skeletons, true, but no less terrifying! Then we saw some rocks and stuff. The Hope Diamond was interesting, but I really dug the earrings worn by Marie Antoinette.

We then trudged through the heat across the Mall and peeked into "The Castle," the main information center for all the Smithsonians et. all. And guess who was there just to the left of the door to greet us! It was the remains of Smithson himself. Pretty wild, seeing his bathtub grave sitting on a pedestal right there. "Hey guys, you enjoying my museums? Yeah, it's cool, I'm just gonna chill out here. I'll see you later."

Then we blasted off to the National Air and Space Museum. Ha! Blasted off! Get it? Rocket ships and stuff! But do you know what they have there? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he original Flyer, the first successful flying machine, designed by those kooky Wright Brothers. 

That's the thing about these museums. I almost don't believe any of it! I've lived so much of my life at Disneyland and Universal Studios, where everything was made to look like all the amazing things I was inches away from. Very few replicas, this is the Smithsonian, for history's sake, it's all real, all right there. Yes, that's the real Spirit of St. Louis. Yes, that's the Apollo 11 pod thing— it was in space, it burned through our atmosphere and landed in the ocean. Why would we put up a fake one?

Wild, all of it. Well tomorrow's the National Archives— expect some stuff about liberty or whatever. PS— what do you recommend, reader? Have you been to D.C. before? Is there something I absolutely should not miss? Let me know! 


Hold on, I'm fixing everything for the better

D.C./Virginia Day 3

Not much, ask me about it in person.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

D.C./Virginia Day 2

Welcome to Mount Vernon, the estate of President George Washington.
Now I'm a real sucker for history. I almost majored in it, but memorizing those dates... well I just couldn't pull it off. That hasn't deterred my passion for it, though! This is one of the reasons I was so excited to spend the afternoon with my mother here. The house is only about ten minutes down the road, so I can't really express my surprise at how such an amazing, important place could be so close. Let's get to the good stuff, eh?
The house was beautiful, through and through. I have pictures a plenty, and I'll show you all of them when I get back (ask about the turkey cloud) but these three will have to tide you over for now. We walked into the dining room where Washington was informed he was going to be the first president, passed by his bedroom, and gazed upon the very bed he died in. Morbid? Perhaps. Muting in its simple elegance and importance? Most definitely. I was speechless. The idea, the very implication of the men that stood in that house— the very fathers of our nation that walked across the same floors that I was walking across, looking into the original mirrors and knowing that some of the most amazing people in history looked back through that glass was... well, numbing in its beauty. 
My mother and the Potomac. The first picture is the back of the house, where Mommy Dearest and I were standing in this picture. Apparently Ol' Man Washington loved landscapes, farming, and pictures of water. Imagine living with the Potomac at your fingertips. Below is a picture of part of the farm. The original property stretches for miles and miles, whole neighborhoods have been built on sections of it, causing residents to say that they "live on the farm." This was actually on the path to the Tomb of Washington himself. There it sits, behind steel bars, above ground. His white stone coffin, above ground with Martha (his wife) lain at a somewhat obscure angle to the left. Behind is a very small gate to the rest of the tomb which holds upwards of twenty-five family members. 
I had an interesting conversation with my father on the way home from the X-Files movie about how this all made me feel. Ever since I was a little kid I thought it was kind of tacky, perhaps "old man-ish" to say that I was "patriotic". Growing into an adult at the crest of the Iraq War only made me more reluctant to adopt the term (don't take my zeal in this paragraph as my approval of everything we are and do, that's not the case I'm making). But now, after just a brief wandering through our nation's nest and with so much more to some, I settled on a term. I like to consider myself a "patriot". Not in the Mel Gibson sense, I'm not thrusting Ol' Glory through the neck of a rather malicious British officer, but there is an elegance to the term that I think is lost in the word "patriotic". Blah, blah, they're the same, but really: which would you rather have describe you? I love our country. Do we have blotches in our history? Absolutely. Are we "da best country in da WORLD!!!!111!!! LOLOMG!!!" No, I'm sure there's probably better, but you know what? I am an American, I can claim this history as mine. The flaws, sure, we're learning. But the heroes: all mine as well. Go ahead, you can have them too.

Well that does it for day two. A tour of haunted Alexandria tomorrow, and then Monday brings the start of D.C. on foot.