Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Regarding Christianity, and a certain oft-used phrase.

     The word relationship is more or less a passive one. A relationship is the way that two things, or two beings, relate to each other, and does not necessary imply any importance.
     Religion, on the other hand, implies active participation. A religion is a specific set of ideals and standards that one uses to define their life - or to define a relationship.

If it's just a relationship, and not a religion, then you're doing something wrong.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We are not Homer,
Nor are we Galileo.
We are the product of a modern world,
And this comes with a joy and a sorrow.
The joy being that great multitude of knowledge available to us;
The sorrow being that we are obliged to learn it.

edit: I feel compelled to tell you that this note is meant as a commentary, and my own opinion does not parallel that of the last line. It's hard to discern sarcasm in online type.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Oh no, politics!

     I rarely (never) discuss politics on this blog, but I feel strongly compelled to tell you my opinion regarding the election to-morrow.
     My hope is that there'll be at least one reader who hasn't voted yet - You've all heard this statement hundreds of times, but I honestly believe that this is one of the most important elections in our country's history.

      Now, before I am accused of being tethered to the ancient two-party system, I will tell you my argument against independent voting. (And be aware that this is still formulating in my mind somewhat - this is an issue that has been gestating in my mind for the last few months, and I have only reached a decision in the last few days.)
     First, I believe that it is incredibly important that alternatives exist, and I respect those who attempt to make a statement by voting independently. However, I think that this struggle - - to have an independent candidate recognized - - is somewhat misplaced. In my opinion, this form of activism should not reach its apex of popularity every four years, in November. Rather, it would be much more effective if the forward thinkers brought this to the table when the public consciousness was not already flooded with political figures clamoring for votes.
     Second, I believe in the importance of one vote. This country has had several incredibly close elections, and it has been proven time and time again that every single vote matters when deciding who will be the leader of this country. This is one of our most important rights as American citizens (and, in my opinion, one of our most important responsibilities.) You do not want to squander this opportunity, and voting for a candidate who has no realistic chance of winning falls dangerously close to that category. The danger of being staunchly idealistic, as my sister says, is that you lose all actual influence you might have otherwise had. Compromises, although never ideal, are sometimes necessary.
     Far too many people become incredibly passionate about politics in the weeks leading up to an important election, yet ignore what is going on in politics for the other three and a half years (myself included.) If you're going to bemoan the state of politics in November, and if you shudder at the thought of voting for the lesser of two evils, then stand up and do something about it in October.

     Now then, on to the main event - Obama vs. McCain. I will do my very best to provide a balanced look at these two candidates. You probably are aware of who I support for presidency, though for the sake of this post you should be pleased to know that I don't particularly like either of them.

     Issue 1: Economy
Obama: Barack Obama's economic plan centers mainly around his idea of redistributing the wealth. Very noble and Robin-Hood-esque, to be sure. This idea looks fantastic on paper - the poor are raised to a respectable standard of living, while the rich are knocked down from their silly-looking gilded thrones. Unfortunately, Obama cannot claim credit for this idea - the credit for this idea belongs mainly to an obscure little bearded man named Karl Marx. Of course, we all know how it turned out the last time a plan like this was implemented on a large scale.
     (It's worth noting that his healthcare plan has strong socialist leanings as well)
McCain: The main criticism of McCain's economic plan is that it favors big businesses too much. This can certainly be a drawback. The most expansive (+expensive) aspect of his plan would have to be the bailout he is planning for enormous mortgage rates. While I am almost always opposed to increased government involvement, this seems necessary to... well, to save us, I suppose. In the meantime, can we avoid getting into a situation like this again? Pretty please?

     Issue 2: Foreign Policy
Obama: Barack Obama has been very clear on this point - he believes we should move toward a significantly more isolationist standpoint. He supports the removal of troops from Iraq, and decreased involvement in general in the Middle East. As leader, he would definitely avoid getting involved in any major conflicts unless they came to our own shores. Unfortunately, a stance like this often leads to global conflicts growing in size until they cannot help but bump up against Washington. This policy could be either very good or very bad for America - and world politics in general. However, in this time of uncertain motivations and shaky alliances, one second's hesitation can be extremely costly.
McCain: John McCain has also been very clear when it comes to foreign policy. However, his plan seems markedly different from Obama's. While not particularly advocating U.S. intervention, he has acknowledged that sometimes it is necessary for our country to get involved in order to quell conflicts before they become unmanageable. He has stated that, if he becomes president, our troops would stay overseas to finish our work in Iraq, as well as increasing involvement in Israel. Unfortunately, our presence overseas is costing us quite a lot, and it is hard to see when we'll be finished. The question to be asked, then, is this: is it worth it for us to stay involved in this conflict, or would it be better for us to retract ourselves right now?

     Issue 3: Abortion
Obama: Fortunately for this post, Obama has been very clear on this matter. He is staunchly pro-choice, and would not tighten abortion laws if he was elected to the office of President.
McCain: Unfortunately, McCain's voting record does not always line up with his current standpoint on this issue. However, during recent months, he has attempted to clear up this point. He has stated that he is completely pro-life, and supports Ron Paul's plan to overturn Roe v. Wade and give authority to the states to enforce anti-abortion laws.

     Note: I am entirely convinced that, on this last issue, there is no moral middle ground. I believe that abortion is no less than legalized murder. The argument for women's rights is completely lacking in merit to me, because it ignores the rights of the unborn child. I believe the point of conception can be the only biological standard for when life begins.

I hope this has been informative. In case I have not made it clear by this point, I believe that on the three major issues in this election, John McCain has proven himself to be a substantially more worthy candidate for Presidency than Barack Obama.

However, if you find yourself disappointed on wednesday, do not worry - America has proven itself to be strong enough to withstand the downfalls of a human president.

Please leave any comments or questions below, and thank you for reading this lengthy post.


Sunday, August 17, 2008


putting college-ruled notebook paper into a blue three-ring binder.

making sure I've got spare lead for my .5mm mechanical pencil.

check and check - now if only I could realize the fact that classes do, indeed, start to-morrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

and here we... go.

OK so here I am. I was planning to do posts on this about once a week this summer, but as you can see that hasn't happened.  Life interferes yet again with my plans.

But anyway I have one long overdue review and another not-so-overdue review for you to digest. Hope you like them / take into consideration my thoughts / or something .

Viva La Vida • Coldplay

I'm sure you've all heard it by now - especially considering it's been one of the top 5 bestselling US albums since its release. 

To be honest, I haven't been a very big Coldplay fan for a while now. I'm always somewhat wary about mentioning this, because I don't want to be lumped in the same category as the indie-poser-elitist types who automatically hate Coldplay because they're so popular. I have no problems with coldplay's popularity, I just tired of them several years ago and haven't come back to them since.

But Viva La Vida is decidedly different. It's obvious that Coldplay tired of their formulaic approach to music making and decided to mix things up a bit. This album is full of new sounds that, frankly, are quite unexpected from these four boys.

One of the instances in which this is most evident is the first track. "Life in Technicolor" boldly proclaims 'we have a new producer.' Brian Eno is great, and his influence is welcome. The underlying beat of this track simply screams of his touch.

Joining him is the producer from Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible", whose name is Markus Dravs.

The following track, "Cemeteries of London", is one of the best on the album. It's darker than Coldplay's older music, and serves as a perfect introduction to their new feel.  "Lost!" and "42" are mostly harmless, but they don't do anything new. They're tolerable enough that they belong on the album, but not good enough to belong next to "Cemeteries" or "Lovers". "Lovers in Japan" is my favorite song from the album. It's got a distinct U2 sound, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. Unfortunately, directly following it is the album's worst misstep. On the very same track as "Lovers in Japan" is an incredibly bland three minute piano disaster. "Reign of Love" completely disrupts the flow of the album. "Yes" is somewhat gimmicky, employing what sounds like the violinist from Fiddler on the Roof for its main theme. You've all heard "Viva La Vida", but it's very good - the lyrics are almost enjoyable, and the church bell adds an enormous amount to its catchy beat. "Violet Hill" is also good. To be perfectly honest, I think this track would have been a much better opener than "Life in Technicolor". It perfectly exemplifies Coldplay's new tone. "Strawberry Swing" takes a break from the gloom of the prior three songs with a relaxed beat and leisurely vocals. "Death and All His Friends" brings back a bit of the anthemic Coldplay that everybody knows, and the album ends with a reprise of "Life in Technicolor."

All in all, it's a solid album. However, I feel that Coldplay is still playing it safe. They're wary of trying anything too out of the ordinary. This likely comes from wanting to keep their enormous fanbase. Chris Martin's lyrics are still horrendously dull, and even embarrassing at times. This problem pervades the entire album, to a certain extent. "Viva La Vida" is promising, and it bodes well for the band's future, but if they do not keep striving for originality then they will become irrelevent. The next album will likely skyrocket Coldplay to even more fame, or completely destroy their reputation.

6.8 / 10

The Dark Knight • Christopher Nolan.

This isn't exactly going to be a full review, but I have to implore you all to see it while it's still in theaters. Of course, considering its popularity it'll be in theaters for quite a long time, but you really shouldn't miss this.

Christopher Nolan has proven that he is capable of making a film that can speak on several different levels. Whether you buy a ticket for the action, for the philosophical musings, or for the performance of the actors, it's extremely unlikely that you'll be disappointed.

The cinematography is excellent, and the writing is excellent. The direction is incredible. The soundtrack is much better than the first movie, and fits very well with the film. The acting is very good on all accounts - but especially with Heath Ledger, who played The Joker. This role easily ranks among the best performances I've ever seen on film.

This movie isn't perfect, but it might come as close to a perfect rating as is possible for a batman movie.

9 / 10

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Road [ by Cormac McCarthy ]

I think I'm becoming a big fan of Mr. McCarthy.

     I really liked No Country For Old Men - it was an expertly written book, and it had some excellent points to make about human morality. I noticed that his most recent book, The Road, has received glowing reviews from critics, and there is an upcoming movie adaptation. My interest was piqued, so I got a copy from the library.

     Cormac McCarthy has an intriguing style of writing - he recalls James Joyce in several aspects, most obviously with his somewhat relaxed use of punctuation. Conversations go back and forth with very little grammatical indication of who is talking. However, very rarely does this become noticeable - in fact, it only serves to increase the reader's immersion.
    Another notable trademark of McCarthy's is his pacing. To some it may seem boring, but he keeps a consistent pace throughout the entire book. Because of this, it's practically impossible to find a 'climax' in the story. McCarthy uses this to his advantage, and instead of keeping you focused only on the moving plot (which, incidentally, is completely focus-worthy,) he creates a landscape. This landscape is detailed enough to give the reader a vivid mental picture of what the world looks like, but the descriptions are also free enough that readers can put in small details according to their own imaginations. This landscape has the same amount of attention given to it throughout the entire book.
    However, while a reader would be satisfied reading this book just for the scenery, it usually is just a background to the relationship between the main characters. This relationship is portrayed in a way that feels more honest and more realistic than almost every other piece of literature. The methodical story centers completely around this connection.

    Many people would say that Cormac McCarthy is quickly proving himself to be one of the greatest living authors. Only time will tell for sure whether or not he deserves to be remembered, but for now I have yet to be disappointed with his writing.


[ p.s. The last paragraph of the book was my favorite. ]

Friday, June 6, 2008


You may have seen this on my facebook, but I can't let anyone miss this, radiohead fan or otherwise.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

testing the water

How many of you would be interested in participating in a short story contest?

I don't know who I would get to judge it... (maybe make a public poll?) but right now I'm imagining that a bunch of people would submit stories, with illustrations if they like, and we could gather them all on one website so people could see them. Then we could even have seperate award categories, like most original, best illustrations, best overall, etc.

Would you be interested in that sort of thing? You could even submit music to go along with it.

I think it would be sweet. Post in the comments below if you want to be notified if/when I start it.


Sunday, April 6, 2008


If you're of the opinion that a person is the product of their environment, then can any idea be truly labelled "original"?

On a separate note, I'm reading my first Pynchon novel - Against the Day - and I like it so far. Considering the author's reputation, it's surprisingly approachable.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


April fool's joke removed because it wasn't funny.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A note of clarification.

you're ≠ your.

thank you for your time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

everyone seems so much happier now

we finally built a weather machine

but then it was taken over by fifth-grade boys

nobody can get to work or school any more

i don't think anyone's tried to stop them yet

Sunday, March 2, 2008

enough incoherent non sequiturs.

Some days I feel as if I'm walking through a blur, a haze, or a dream.

Others days, everything feels so real that I don't quite understand what's going on.

      It's as if the movements of my life are flashing rapidly past me, like a broken slide projector.

      I feel like I'm about to reach a rousing climax; will it be a cry for help, a dissonant plea flying through the darkness? Or will it be like the final chord of Hindemith's horn concerto, a final ray of hope, completely contradicting its precedent?

I think I've lost my score. Did I even have one to begin with? My only instruction now comes from the Conductor, and I eagerly await His command.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

what a mess

all messes can be cleaned:
      some with water, all with fire.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the arc of the pendulum

I feel that even the classicist is not free of his own emotions;
     It is likely that the greatest influence on a work comes, in fact, from its own author, regardless of his motives.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

down is the new update

First of all, Heath Ledger. He was a great actor whose potential was never fully realized... after the Dark Knight comes out it'll be even more obvious, and even more tragic. Besides, he seemed to be a genuinely nice human being. He will be sorely missed by a lot of people.

Next, seating auditions... I just got my results in the email, and I'm fifth chair. 
Wait, fifth chair??! Wasn't that the worst audition I'd ever experienced? 
You would have laughed hysterically if you saw it... good grief, I started laughing. Seriously.
but, I'm really happy to be four chairs closer to the front of the section now. I attribute it not to a tabulation error, but to the grace of God. 

Arvo Pärt is an absolutely fantastic composer from Estonia whose instrumental works (at least those I've heard) resemble that of eastern Orthodox chant. The recordings I have are Tabula Rasa, and Fratres for 8 cellos. YES, I JUST SAID EIGHT CELLOS. His vocal works are gorgeous as well.

Finally, I watched Heima with my family on Sunday night, and it was really beautiful. If you haven't seen it, I recommend at least renting it. My favorite part was the section where they made the stone marimba, closely followed by them exploring the canning factory.

I'd say... about 8/10.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

another blog!

I've been invited to contribute, and it's really cool. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

obligatory year-end music list

Goodbye, 2007. You were really weird, but no one can deny you were an absolutely fantastic year for music releases... One of the best in quite a long time, and though it was quite hard to whittle it down, I've got five albums that really stood out to me:
5. Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
This album made it onto the list mainly because of LCD Soundsytem's live act. Not until I saw James Murphy in person did I truly appreciate the genious of this recording, and it seems that all the little nuances stand out much more now. Easily one of the best electronic/dance albums of the last decade. 
4. TIE: Armchair Apocrypha - Andrew Bird / The Flying Club Cup - Beirut
Every time I considered putting one of these albums on here, the other popped into mind. Their similarities are unmistakeable, and both have a very pleasant subdued indie/alt feel to them. The string arrangements on both are extremely well done, and conjure up feelings of September. Both albums are significantly more refined as compared to their predecessors, and I would consider both to be the highlight of their creators' respective repertoires.
3. Boxer - The National
America is what I think of when I listen to this cd. It's about all sorts of different things, but the overarching feel of the album is distinctly American, and The National is one of very few artists who have managed to successfully invoke a patriotic feeling without being stale. Although that was a huge part of what made me include this album, I think an even more exciting element to their music is the drumming. The drums are a much larger part of this album than any other I've heard. They transcend their traditional role of a metronomic embellishment, and truly become an inescapable part of the music.
2. In Rainbows - Radiohead
First of all, I'd like to apologize for not posting a review yet. I haven't quite found the right words. As you might know, I decided not to listen to the low-quality mp3s, choosing instead to order the discbox and hear it on vinyl. Whether because it was my first true vinyl experience, or because I hyped it up so much inside my head, or simply because it's an absolutely fantastic album, I haven't been able to stop listening to it. I honestly haven't found a weak song on the album. It doesn't quite achieve the greatness of Kid A ( One of few albums that I've given a perfect rating ), but it comes shockingly close. In fact, I almost gave it my #1 album slot for 2007.  This album will be remembered long after anything else that was released this year, not solely because of its unorthodox release, but because it's a brilliant piece of art.

And my absolute favorite album of 2007:
1. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
This was a tough decision for me to make, because there were so many fantastic music releases this year. One of the first albums turned out to be the best. The album that I've kept coming back to is Neon Bible. Every song on it has been my favorite at some point, and as an album it's completely cohesive. The lyricism, the instrumentation, the performances, and the writing all earn a perfect five stars from me. However, the true reason it made the number one spot on this list is the live performance. Seeing Arcade Fire play live at Red Rocks was definitely one of the standout experiences from my entire life. Playing two of their songs (admittedly, they were Funeral songs) made me realize why they're so exhilarating to listen to, and I'm excited to see what they do next.

Honorable mentions:

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - Of Montreal

Hvarf/Heim - Sîgur Rós (Considering it's a double EP, rather than a full LP, I didn't feel it really qualified...)

Return To The Sea - Islands

Foley Room - Amon Tobin

The Shepherd's Dog - Iron and Wine

Biggest disappointments (Completely overhyped):

Jens Lekman

Band of Horses


Argue with my decisions in the comment section. Happy 2008!