Sunday, December 31, 2006
I remember watching the movie The Lost Boys when I was 10 years old. I was amazed at this awesome film about teenage vampires. That movie would become my favorite throughout my childhood. As a kid, I wanted to be in the film. I pictured myself as part of the gang as they ran around Santa Carla trying to wipe out the vampires. I always imagined myself ramming a stake through one of the vampire's hearts (preferably Kiefer Sutherland's character) and saying something slick like, "How's that sucka!"
As I think back to this great film, I remember the character Michael. It's pretty awesome that even after he became a vampire, he still had compassion for his brother Sam and his family. I mean, he could have just wiped them out if he wanted to. But he didn't. If you watch it, you could see the pain inside as he struggles with being a new vampire, and at the same time his care for not wanting to hurt those he loves. Towards the end, he uses his strength as a vampire to help his brother and friends kill the vampires once and for all.
I'm like Michael in a lot of ways. Every day, I have this war going on inside of me between my selfish and wicked self, and the struggle to do my best and love my family and those around me. Man it's rough. Just another reminder why I need God in my life.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
It was around 2001 when my wife and I met Tim. He lived upstairs from us in this apartment building in Alexandria, VA. Other than saying "hello" when we bumped into him on our way in the building, we hardly knew him. He didn't live with anyone, was real friendly, and smiled a lot. Eventually, we had longer conversations than "hello" and my wife and I got to know him better. He worked for a place that did AIDS research in Washington DC and seemed to be doing well in his job. We kind of figured out he was gay before he told us. In fact, when he told us that he was, it was very casual like he was telling us he went to the mall that day. I have to admit, before I met him, I never had any gay friends. So this was weird for me at first. One night we invited him over to have dinner with us. This was during the time we were vegan, so naturally my wife cooked tofu. (On a side note: if you think tofu is disgusting, you obviously haven't tried my wife's. She cooks it REALLY good.) We all had a good time hanging out and talking. Over time we became good friends. He was very thoughtful to us. I remember one day he left a copy of M. Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled" at our door because he thought I'd like to read it. When I went in the hospital for depression, my wife told him where I was, and he came and visited me to remind me things will be ok. On Christmas day, he knocked on our door and gave my wife a pet fish as a gift, and he gave me a sweater. He heard me out without being judgemental when I needed to cry during some crazy shit I was going through, as well as my wife. I know homosexuality seems to be a big topic these days. I'm straight, so I don't understand what makes someone gay. But I understand kindness. And that's what he gave to us as a friend.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"Queen's Greatest Hits"
I have to admit, I am not into '70's rock music so much. The only time I listened to it growing up was when my dad or someone else played it in the car, at parties, etc. I was more into 80's and 90's music, since those were the decades I grew up in. But something was different about Queen. Was it Freddie Mercury's opera/rock star vocals? The way the band harmonized in their choruses? Or was it because of the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne's World? Maybe all of the above, I really don't know. One thing I can say is, after listening to Queen's Greatest Hits, I have moved from casual listener to a complete fan of their music. These guys weren't kidding when they proclaimed "we will rock you". If you aren't blown away by Freddie Mercury's voice belting out Another One Bites The Dust, then you probably aren't listening good enough. Other than the obvious hits like Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are The Champions, I found so much more about them on here. I really came to appreciate their music and how timeless and radical it is. Radical in the sense that you could see how they were ahead of their time by making songs that would eventually inspire many more great rock bands. An added bonus on this album is to hear the live version of the Queen/David Bowie song Under Pressure performed by them. Lyrically, you could see the cries of desperation by Freddie on tracks like Somebody To Love. On it, he sings, "Can anybody find me, somebody to love?" That's something we all have cried before. I'm also reminded each time I play their songs of Freddie's tragic death from AIDS. It really breaks my heart he had to go that way, along with many others that suffer with it too. Thankfully, his contribution to the music world is not gone.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I heard about Flyleaf when they were recommended by one of my new favorite bands, Shiny Toy Guns. So after listening to Flyleaf's debut album, they have me convinced that they can rock. The guitar riffs are intense, and the vocals from the lead singer sound part Cyndi Lauper and part Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries. Oh, and she can scream like she was the singer of Underoath. Just when a song needs an extra kick, singer Lacey Mosley will belt out a scream to knock you on your ass. Interested now? At times on the album, she sings as if she has a thick Irish accent, and then will break into that scream to add an extra shot of adrenaline to the song. Now don't think this is just mindless screaming noise. There's actual depth to their songs. The lyrics seem to be written through the eyes of Christian spirituality, without actually being "preachy" in the songs. There's real honesty in the songs dealing with the darkness that comes in this life, but you aren't left with just that. Despite the dark times being sung about, there's a yearning for hope that's found throughout the CD. Flyleaf appears to have found the right combination of sounds and lyrical themes to connect with a wide range of listeners.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Ghosts On The Radio
"Standing On Clovers"
Remember those Bounty paper towel commercials? The ones that compared Bounty to the other paper towel brands? Remember how they showed two pictures, one of how Bounty absorbs an entire spill while the other brand leaves the mess behind? Well take that image of Bounty absorbing the spill, and you can equate that to how the band Ghosts On The Radio absorbs all their musical influences, without leaving a mess behind for their listeners. On their album Standing On Clovers, they create a slick sound, at times sounding like AFI, Depeche Mode, and various new-wave artists, without ripping off the bands' sounds. With all of those influences, they're still able to maintain originality. I found out about this band when I noticed they were doing a show with Kevin Max at the Viper Room in LA. I'm glad I checked them out. With Standing On Clovers, there's no big record label putting out their CD. Having said that, it shows the work these guys did to create a unique sounding debut album. Anyone willing to listen will find potential written all over their music.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Ten Insights by Steven Wright
A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Lately I've had a fear of what I call "the unique becoming the norm". Let me explain. You know when you have something that you cherish for being original, whether it's a CD, an outfit, etc...? And you come to find out what you thought was so original is also owned by a million other people. So much for being original, right? It happens with fashion. You notice a certain style that's catchy and unique, and you think only a few people know about it. Then you come to find out everyone is wearing the same clothes. Well that's "the unique becoming the norm". I see it all the time here in New York. What was original 5 years ago, is now worn by everyone on the street, making tons of clones walking through Manhattan. I hate it, don't you? Well, as excited as I am at the new bands that are pushing musical boundaries and going against what's "the norm", I fear that a thousand other bands are waiting in line to jump on the bandwagon, making the music common. Only time will tell. So what does that have to do with Jonezetta's album Popularity? I'm getting to that. Well, I found out about this new band Jonezetta when I saw they were touring with Mutemath. I read about them and heard people comparing them to The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and bands like that. So I was a little skeptical, yet hopeful, that they wouldn't be a copycat band. I have to say this album grew on me. The melodies are catchy and the lyrics are witty. Ironically, Jonezetta seems to feel the same way I do about what's popular, in their track Popularity. Check out these lyrics.
They got the raddest hooks
They got the dopest looks
And when they're misunderstood it's even better
And they all agree
The future ends with me
On their computer screens
Like they even...
Matter to the words we sing
Or feel apart in our melodies
If all you have is yourself, you're never going to need anyone else
Popularity- Do you think it's scary?
Everybody's talking with their own opinion
Popularity- It's a lot to carry
I'll fall asleep to you screaming in my brain
The album is filled with lyrics like that, and the music providing the background to the songs are a combination of rock, synth-pop, and funk. With a combination like that, Jonezetta makes a nice entrance for themselves in the music scene.
"Songs From Black Mountain"
The mid to late 90's had it's share of awesome rock bands. Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, and Garbage were a few of them. And then there was the band Live. "Selling the Drama"," "I Alone" and "Lightning Crashes" were some of their songs that caught my attention, and had me tuned to to hear lyrics grappling with the pain in this life, and at the same time adding a rocking background to each track. Fast forward to 2006. I have to admit I was so caught up with the new wave of experimental music out, that I had no idea Live released a new album. Curiosity led me to check out what new songs they created this time. One thing I learned after hearing this album is, if there's a band you like that you haven't heard in a while, and they release a new album, drop all expectations before listening to it. Because you'll probably be let down. Rather than welcome a bands' new sound, we slam the door on them, saying they sold out on their original sound. I'm learning to give the bands that I like a little more freedom to experiment, without jumping all over them saying, "Sell out!" Anyway, after hearing this album, I didn't know what to think. I was expecting the intensity of a track like "All Over You" from their older songs, but didn't really get it. But I noticed the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. I found myself intently listening to the lyrics in the songs, which happen to put me in a reflective mood about life, love, pain, and hope. Then I started to appreciate where they're at as a band now. I would have to say, while their older songs would fit in great at a rock show with tons of screaming fans, this album fits in more at a coffee shop on a rainy day. Depending on your perspective, this is not an album that you could just categorize as good or bad. If you appreciate lyrics that are deep and deal with the complexities that life brings, than you'll probably dig it. As far as the sound goes, it's a little more tame than their previous tracks, but it's actually a nice background for the songs this time around.
“Sometimes you've got to die, to be born again
Sometimes you've got to fight
Sometimes you've got to learn
Sometimes you've got to burn the old brush out, so the new can grow
The weight that lays on your shoulders, could be the wings that carry you home..."
from the song "Wings" on the album.
So I'm here taking up space in this universe, and I have no idea why. What I mean to say is that I have no idea how I'm still alive, considering my past (and present too). I love the word "Grace". It means different things to different people, To some it's a name, to others a prayer before dinner. To me it's my existence. That is the only reason to explain why I'm still here. Sometimes I revisit my memories, and they scare the shit out of me, but at the same time make me grateful to God for allowing me to live. Here's some evidence of grace in my life:
- Going through severe depression and feeling like I was losing my fucking mind at 25, and being able to get through that period of my life. Grace
- Smoking weed, tripping on acid, doing cocaine, drinking heavily in high school, and not getting addicted to any of those. Grace
- Having a wife who continuously loves me, as messed up as I am, and as much as I drive her nuts. Grace
- Constantly feeling like a failure as a dad, and then seeing how much my son loves being with me. Grace
How has grace been manifested in your life?
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I heard two of my favorite songs today. Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant, and Take On Me by A-Ha. They're the kind of catchy, "get-stuck-in-your-head-all-day-long" songs. (Those trumpets from Goody Two Shoes are still spinning in my head.) So I wanted to pose a question to all of you in cyberspace. What are some of your "get-stuck-in-your-head-all-day-long" songs?