Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Music and the movement...

I'm often asked what my favorite song is. I can't ever nail it down. I'm pretty sure it'd probably be "Holiday In Spain" by Counting Crows. But that's my best guess. I'm still arguing with myself over this one. I probably always will.

As of late, my favorite new artists have been Mumford & Sons (British folk) and The Tallest Man on Earth (aka: Kristian Matsson, folk). Both are beyond incredible. I have decided that I would love the Avett Brothers more if their CD's resembled more of their live sound. Brittany has fallen for Old Crow Medicine Show. The new Band of Horses album has disappointed me. There's not enough reverb. It just doesn't have the same ballsy feel as their last two, "Cease to Begin" and "Everything All The Time." The new Swell Season LP is great while the new Modest Mouse EP doesn't really excite or disappoint me. The National moves me in ways I didn't expect--their mellow, sultry sound is terrific. I've also taken a liking to Noah and the Whale as they can arrange some very dynamic, emotional songs with captivating lyrics.

I've tried to think of what started all of this. What were the first songs that really struck a chord within me and made me what to write and sing? There are certainly early influences that impacted me a lot. My dad always had country music playing in his truck. My sister always had the latest cassette from New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson or Paula Abdul. My mom always had the oldies playing in the car and loved to sing. But what particular songs? I've narrowed it down. I think the following three songs were catalytic in my musical life:

1- Say It Ain't So -- Weezer

2- Motorcycle Drive-By -- Third Eye Blind

3- Long December -- Counting Crows

I could name a million. Some came before, some came after. But those three moved something in me. Those three changed me in some way.

What about you? What songs impacted who you are? What music makes you feel a little more alive?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Prepare to waste 5 hours...

Wikipedia is an incredible website. Its a cultural phenomenon. Who would have thought five years ago that an open-source encyclopedia would be successful, much less this huge? I love the idea that information edited by many would/could be more accurate than information selected and edited by a few scholars. Granted, I wouldn't use Wikipedia for a research paper. But if I want to find quick info on about anything, I search for whatever I'm curious about followed by "wiki" so that link comes up first. Need info on the first moon landing? Its there. Info on the Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash? Its there. Info in the human reproductive system? Its there. Info on the history of tattooing? Its there. Info on anything else you could ever want to know? Its probably there.

I came across this great site tonight. Copybot has put together a link list of the 50 most interesting articles on Wikipedia. Bookmark it. When you're bored, read through some of the articles. You'll soon be a wealth of knowledge and interesting facts.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New look... again...

I'm working on it. Be patient with me.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Den of Satan...

You probably thought I'd be writing about Lifeway Christian book stores or Glenn Beck's living room. But you're wrong. I'm talking about Wal-Mart. Yes, that evil cistern of waste and rape: Wal-Mart.

I think that Wal-Mart is a stain on our society. Its bad for so many reasons. "Like what reasons?" you ask. Well, here's a few:

1- They exploit their workers. (The typical pay rate is terrible. The average worker makes less than $20,000 a year yet Wal-Mart profits reach into the billions annually.)

2- They burden American taxpayers. (Most employees don't get health care from Wal-Mart, so they're encouraged to seek public assistance. Guess who pays for that?)

3- They destroy local economies. (Most local businesses don't sell the cheap crap from China that Wal-Mart sells internationally in huge, bulk amounts. Ergo, local businesses lose shoppers and eventually close. When a Wal-Mart opens in a town, it typically causes more jobs to be lost than it creates. Do they care? No. They still profit.)

4- They have a huge negative impact on the environment. (Importing. Shipping. Manufacturing. Waste. Etc etc.)

5- They brainwash people. This is what I wanted to write about tonight: how Wal-Mart brainwashes people. It convinces people to buy a bunch of crap they don't need. Wal-Mart offers cheap, sweat-shop-produced items and people buy it because they see the huge displays with the rollback prices all over the store. (Last I heard, 70+% of their items were made overseas. A recent PBS documentary says that number is closer to 85%.)

Here's the rub: Wal-Mart doesn't have to have the lowest prices. In many cases, they don't. They just have to convince people that they do. And that's how they've been successful. They've got most of the world convinced that they can't afford to shop anywhere else. In this recent economic recession, all they had to do was run commercials that looked happy and cheerful and told people how low their prices were. These commercials have contained subtle hints that people can't afford to shop anywhere else. And that's simply not true. But they run ads all over the country reinforcing the idea in people's minds. (Read here.)

We (re: americans, humans, consumers, etc) should think about where we shop. Brittany and I haven't shopped at Wal-Mart in years (on purpose). Has it changed our lifestyle at all? Yes--for the better. Are we poorer? No. We probably have saved money because we don't get sucked in to buying a bunch of junk that we don't need anyway.

There are better places to shop. Like locally. Eat local. Shop local. Live local. As much as possible. But even if you can't, Cosco and Target both run better businesses that Wal-Mart. There are plenty of chain stores that treat employees well, give back to the neighborhood, and sell decent products. You don't have to shop at Wal-Mart. Moreover, you don't need to shop at Wal-Mart. An easy first step away from the consumeristic lifestyle that advertisers are convincing us to live is to cut ties with Wal-Mart. Its liberating.

Read up. Be informed. Boycott Wal-Mart.

Great article here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rolling with them polar bears...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bumper Sticker Doctrine...

I think the worst phrased ever used by any Christian ever probably involved something to do with the word "predestined." I think the second worst phrase ever used by an Christian ever is "Let Go, Let God." That's awful. Plain awful.

What does that even mean? It makes no sense.

What am I supposed to "let go" of? And by doing so, how does that "let God" does his/her/its thing?

I think this falls under the category of Bumper Sticker Doctrine. People thought it sounded good. Its short. Its ambiguous enough that people can think it means all sorts of things. Done. They put it on stickers, motivational posters, and office paper weights.

I don't find a Biblical text anywhere that supports this kind of thinking. Nor can I think of any reasoning to actually make a logical statement to support the phrase "Let Go, Let God." It makes me angry. Its so frustrating. I know people mean well when they share these types of things, but it makes me wanna punch someone.

On a happier note: my favorite bumper sticker I ever saw said "God is coming and boy is she pissed." That's great. My second favorite said something much more offensive.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ahhhh, Espana...

Spain was simply one of the most incredible places I've been. Barcelona is so full of art and life and beauty and culture that you know it from the minute you drive in. The week and a half Brit and I spent there last year was some of the best days of my life. We talk about going back often. We're planning on going to the UK next spring, but its tempting to return to Spain.

No matter what, though, I won't be running with the bulls. Pamplona seems like a cool city. It'd be a neat place to visit. But every time I see a photo like this, I'm quickly reminded of why I eat cows and not run among their horned brethren.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Four Fine Minutes:

This guy is so good.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dear Reader: Some Questions...

I don't feel like talking. You should talk.

Should the toilet paper go over or under?
-For me, its over. I'll change the direction of the roll if I'm at someone's house and its rolling under. For real.

Wad or fold?
-Me? I do both.

Favorite band?
-Too tough a question. However, if I could be in any band, it'd be Counting Crows. If I could be a solo musician, I'd be The Tallest Man on Earth (aka, Kristian Matsson). Or myself. I like me, too.

Your turn.


Lately, I've just run out of things to say. Or the desire to type the things I want to say. Life has been busy and I've been busy enjoying it (or busy complaining about the things I don't enjoy). That, or I've become apathetic about a lot.

Who knows?