Thursday, July 30, 2009

neil armstrong podcasts

Neil Armstrong is the best DJ. Ever. That is all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

why I dance

Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made.
--Ted Shawn, Time, 25 July 1955

I woke up a couple of days ago in the middle of the evening (thanks to my circadian rhythms being off from Europe) just in time to see the middle of "So You Think You Can Dance." I generally don't watch much TV, definitely not much reality TV, but what I have seen of SYTYCD has been impressive. The quality of the dancers and the choreography on that show is astounding - the idea of picking one as the best is silly.

I tuned in just in time for this performance as choreographed by the very talented (and very demanding - as seen on "Making the Band") Laurie Ann Gibson:
This is the perfect example of how AMAZING hip hop dance can be when done correctly. It's not all popping, locking, and gyrating. The minutely controlled isolations and emotions in every tendon of these dancers shows such power and conveys a very loud message without them having to add any dialogue. Flawless.

There was another piece I saw while watching from Emmy nominated choreographer Tyce Diorio. This is a contemporary dance to Maxwell's "This Woman's Worth" about a woman battling cancer. The dancers convey the message so well that you forget they're dancing. It had all the judges crying at the end it was so inspirational.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

TV, pain, & supernovas

A few more links I might as well share while I'm posting, because who knows when I'll get around to it otherwise:

"Why I Don't Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies" by Pastor John Piper (just an excerpt - click the link for the full article)

What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).

Brothers, that is serious. Really serious. Jesus is violent about this. What we do with our eyes can damn us. One reason is that it is virtually impossible to transition from being entertained by nudity to an act of “beholding the glory of the Lord.” But this means the entire Christian life is threatened by the deadening effects of sexual titillation.

All Christ-exalting transformation comes from “beholding the glory of Christ.” “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whatever dulls the eyes of our mind from seeing Christ powerfully and purely is destroying us. There is not one man in a thousand whose spiritual eyes are more readily moved by the beauty of Christ because he has just seen a bare breast with his buddies.

But leave sex aside (as if that were possible for fifteen minutes on TV). It’s the unremitting triviality that makes television so deadly. What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ. Television takes us almost constantly in the opposite direction, lowering, shrinking, and deadening our capacities for worshiping Christ.

One more smaller concern with TV (besides its addictive tendencies, trivialization of life, and deadening effects): It takes time. I have so many things I want to accomplish in this one short life. Don’t waste your life is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.

Warning: you may feel your spirit convicted. I wouldn't go so far as to eliminate TV totally from my life (would I?) but I do think this article raises very valid questions in which we should examine what we expose ourselves to, often on a daily basis. Even putting the Christian lens aside, shouldn't we be trying to always better ourselves, not wasting this precious time we've been given? Is "New York Goes to Work" doing anything for you? I doubt it. Granted we all have our guilty pleasures, personally a "Law and Order" marathon will make me seriously reconsider leaving the house. In the greater scheme if our exposure to music, movies, television, books, etc. is desensitizing us to our morals, our standards, and our purpose how do we distinguish the damaging from the entertaining?

For the most part I try to surround myself with positivity but I don't shy away from art that lays bare the selfishness, the evil, the pain of our world. A lot of disturbing works of arts - novels, paintings, song lyrics, movies - open our eyes and make us aware of the possibilities that lie in the world, positive and negative. I know people with no TVs, no cable, people who restrict themself to only non-fiction works, people who only listen to Christian music, people who only listen to Christian sermons -- is each one of them missing out on a certain beauty of the world? I believe that's a personal choice and you should do follow your convictions and instincts - which may be different based on your purpose and path.

In considering completely eliminating a form or more of popular media from your life, is there something to be said to being able to join in on a conversation about the latest movie or sitcom, even if it's "worldly?" In Corporate America where you rely wholly on your network and its connections, maybe you limit your opportunities by not being able to bond with coworkers or your boss by being that person who's clueless about pop culture. Maybe it doesn't matter. If you couldn't eat meat for religious reasons, would it matter that you're not ordering a steak during company dinners? Of course not. If you don't drink then you get yourself a Shirley Temple or a water at happy hours and keep it moving. On the other hand, if we consciously filter the TV programming, movies, and music that we're exposed to and we make conscious decisions to not "waste life" but rather use that time to relax or learn, perhaps they're not the damaging and desensitizing mediums Pastor Piper makes them seem.

G.D. at "Post Bourgie" explores in this post "Boy Pain, Girl Pain" the differences in how reactions to pain have been socialized based on respective cultures and genders. It's really an interesting thought and I think that similar reasoning can be applied to a wider range of our perceptions - what's hard for me may not be hard for you and vice versa. This appeals to the fact that we must always strive to understand and celebrate our differences: weaknesses and strengths. Just like you don't know anything about me I don't know where you were raised, if you were abused, if you have some sort of mental illness, what you are battling right this minute. Who am I to judge your perceptions? Needless to say the post (and the comments) is thought provoking. There is also a follow-up post that's good and further explores the topic.
And while there’s probably a lot of variance as to individual thresholds for those things, there’s a huge social component to certain perceptions and sensations. The ability to brush off the kind of agony you feel when you work out is a learned behavior, and often informed by things like gender and class and race in ways that we don’t always acknowledge. I tease my female friends that working out with them is always a drag because they’re crybabies.* (“It’s supposed to hurt!”) The arrogance/condescencion in that statement is twofold: it presumes not only that my friends can’t handle physical pain because they’re women but also that my very genderized notion of pain is the only way of understanding and experiencing it.

I mentioned an artist a few months back named Mr. Hudson. He has a (relatively) new song out with Kanye West called "Supernova" and it's fire. It reminds me of Moulin Rouge but a reloaded version. The video is also wild and features more than Kanye vocals over a cartoon (no shots to "Streetlights"...).


What a bittersweet celebration the entire world has joined in honor of Michael Jackson's life. He led such a tortured life that was put on display for the entire world - a world that often forgot there was a human being behind those many bizarre antics and musical genius. Joe Jackson recently told CNN "I wish the world had recognized him when he was living" which sums up how ironic this celebration is (although the comments were ironic in and of themselves as they were coming from a man depicted as the central figure in MJ's abuse). We've all been overwhelmed with coverage and reflections on the great Michael Jackson's life and legacy. However, there have been two blog entries that I found especially original and appropriate. Click the links to read them in their entirety but I've highlighted passages that really hit home for me.

"Michael Jackson: Freak Like Me" by Richard Kim for "The Nation"
Our fascination with Whack-o Jack-o has never been only, or even primarily, with his prodigious skills. It was with the way he personified our culture's most central ambitions to whiteness, immortality, wealth, real estate and fame. Lodged somewhere between the superhuman and the alien, aspiration and disgust, Jackson was a grotesque reflection of our collective desires.
Was Michael Jackson a weirdo? Of course he was a weirdo.
But maybe if you had been in the public eye since you were 7, had grown ass women throwing themselves at you since you were 13, suffered physical abuse at the hands of your father, watched your father and older brothers engage in sex with groupies on tour as a child, were called "Big Nose" and "ugly" by both family members AND fans, developed a skin disease that took away the one thing you repeatedly expressed your pride for, and spent the last half of your life as the most famous person on Earth, you'd probably be a bit of a weirdo too.
I am not attempting to paint Michael Jackson as a saint, as no man ever lives up to such a lofty title. But to me, the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” seems to sum up Michael Jackson’s life more than ever.
Now you know I have to throw up my favorite Jackson song. RIP King. Only you could pull off a sweater vest with a giant sequin star on it.

Edit: after watching this a ridiculously embarassing number of times PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE watch it and just look at the short, pudgy Jackson with his jacket open. His moves and facial expressions are HILARIOUS. Bonus points if you can tell me his name.

Monday, June 29, 2009

partly cloudy

Animated short from the beginning of "Up" - which I missed because I was late to the theater. As we all expect from Pixar, the piece is ingenius and beautifully done.

oren lavie

This morning I saw that Smilupe shared Oren Lavie's video "Her Morning Elegance" in a piece about how the video had been ripped off in a commercial for a Norwegian company. I was immediately entralled by the video, which is shot in stop motion animation (which always makes things more interesting to me) and follows this woman in her bed (which sounds crazy but you have to watch it to understand.) The concept intrigued me initially because the way it is filmed is similar to Adele's "Chasing Pavements" video (which leaves me breathless every time I watch it) and I thought it might be by the same director. Lavie actually directed "Her Morning Elegance" and Matthew Cullen of Motion Theory directed "Chasing Pavements." In addition to singing and directing, Lavie is an accomplished playwright and songwriter from Tel Aviv. Read more about him here and here. Everything I've heard so far is smooth and beautifully poignant. I immediately got the album and I expect it to be on heavy rotation in the future as it's the kind of music you want to put on while you're destressing at the end of the day.

Soon she's down the stairs
Her morning elegance she wears
The sound of water makes her dream
Awoken by a cloud of steam
She pours a daydream in a cup
A spoon of sugar sweetens up

And she fights for her life
As she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
As it pours
And she fights for her life
As she goes in a store
With a thought she has caught
By a thread
She pays for the bread
And she goes...
Nobody knows

Sunday, June 14, 2009


"We can never exert the influence over others which we can exert over ourselves. If we are better, if we show love, patience, and understanding of the weaknesses of others; if we seek to never criticize but rather encourage, others will do likewise….” (Shoghi Effendi: Lights of Guidance, p. 83)

"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill." - Matthew 5:21-22

Start taking steps today, however small, to transform yourself for it's through the transformed individual that our communities are able to transform. Respond to all that negativity in your life with love. You never know who's watching you and looking for positive examples of how to change their life. We have to start learning from each other's mistakes and stop waiting until tomorrow to take the first step towards a fresh start.

Monday, March 16, 2009

each must believe for himself

"Each must believe for himself.

Each soul chooses for itself.

No other can choose for it; in all the world there is no authority for anyone save his own soul....

Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing:

One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it's gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief--that's more terrible than dying--more terrible than dying young."

--the character of Joan of Arc in the 1946 play "Joan of Lorraine" written by Maxwell Anderson

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We had a rainy day, I'm in a snake back situation.

Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information + lyrics (because they are NOT clear)

Be my best friend and find me that on an LP.

I'm not really sure what to think of the fact that traffic here has stayed pretty much constant despite my neglect of The Thirteenth Floor. Not surprisingly high, but consistent nonetheless. Either I'm doing something right or I'm not doing anything at all, I suppose.

I said I wouldn't talk if I didn't have anything to say. I'm not necessarily here to vent, to talk about daily life, to reflect on the injustices in everyday occurrences, I have journals for that and privacy concerns about that. I'm not here to bootleg music, to ridicule others, or to gossip about people I probably will never meet. I'm not interested in building up a huge internet following nor do I have a fantastic agenda for publishing a really insightful blog. What am I here for then? I guess I'm waiting for inspiration to strike. Maybe when I have something that I believe to be worthwhile to say it'll hit a few more people than if I just tell a couple of close friends. Maybe I'll write something that the person who happened to stumble over here from a mistyped Google search will read and have it hit home. Maybe in sharing a piece of myself those who know me in "real life" will read something that makes them realize I'm just like them or not like them at all and it will incite some necessary (for either party) conversation. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. I really want to get a Tumblr and just post up quotes and stray comments and pictures that happen to move me - but at the point that I'm combining Twitter and Blogger when I already have both, I'm pretty sure I'm just getting lazy and contributing nothing to this pseudo Internet society. Meh.

Soooo it's about 1:30 AM - an hour or two before my usual bedtime. I've studied literally from dawn to dusk this week and I've had my fill. The things that happen physiologically after being in the libraries so many hours in a week are really strange. Emotions are a lot more variable, you lose sight of what's an appropriate reaction, your eating habits get downright questionable, and you start operating on what feels like the margin of The Matrix. I love it. I've had more meaningful, prolonged conversations with people I rarely get the chance to see this week. While I've missed a week of cramming for dance shows, I have met a ton of other obligations and accomplished a lot academically. I have seen how campus is different at 8 AM from 4 AM - it involves multiple raccoons - and taken the time to sit for a minute and enjoy the moment. I'm especially reflective because the finish line is in view - this game of higher education is winding up in May and I'm starting an entirely new chapter of life. The road has been anything but easy and now I stand in a place where I wonder if my adolescent self would even recognize who I am today. "I've seen fire, and I've seen rain. I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end." (c) James Taylor. I've carefully, painfully, sometimes impatiently refined a self and a faith that will have to see me through. I've lived days where I didn't think it was possible to be more alive and I've lived other days where I felt more intensely than words can express that, were it not for my faith, I would not be standing. I've seen absolute evil and beautiful grace and sacrifice. Endured the worst times of my life right next to the best. Kissed headstones of those dearest to me and welcomed a whole slew of lifelong friends. Confirmed every young person's fears that I don't always fit in, and realized that I wouldn't ever want to. Learned the hard way that if you don't stand for something, you absolutely are destined to fall for anything - only to bounce back knowing that "nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent" (c) Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm not sure what tomorrow will look like, much less the rest of my life - but it's through the insane amount of perseverance ( in addition to a whole lot of blessings, perhaps some luck, and a support team you can count on) that it takes to make it through college and young adulthood on nights like tonight that I know I'm living for a purpose, that this thing is bigger than me and you, that if I can just rise above for one more day I might get another moment of clarity. I guess I did have something to say. Thank you, and good night.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

mr hudson and the library

Mr. Hudson's blog

What caught my ear:
Mr.Hudson and the Library- "Too Late, Too Late"

What kept me listening:

Mr Hudson & The Library - Bread + Roses: Video

Where I heard them:

The Couch Sessions
Click on the link to see Mr. Hudson's involvement with 808's and Blueprint 3

From Wikipedia:
Mr Hudson & The Library are a band based in London, whose members hail from both that city and Birmingham. This duality was the inspiration for the title of their debut album A Tale of Two Cities, which was released on 5 March 2007.[1] They are signed to music producer Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label & Mercury Records.

Oooh I know I'm slipping perilously on my blogging dear ones. I would love to take the time to tell you my thoughts on Romans 12, on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, on the failures of our public education system when it comes to disadvantaged populations and special education, on the importance of honesty, and our current economic woes. Unfortunately, while I'm living the life some consider a myth, I don't have a lot of time. If I sit down I feel like I should be doing something else. I update my Twitter regularly though: see sidebar. Other than that, I'm listening. I'll come back when I have something to say... and the time to say it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

worldle visualization

Sir Smilupe showed me this application called "Wordle" that translates your text or blog or random website into a "beautiful word cloud." How appropriate that the biggest word is "listen" on mine. Just a'tuning my ear. Despite my lack of posting, I think it's a cool selection of words.

Monday, January 19, 2009


"Remembering MLK (again)"
- an MLK post that is incredibly well written and insightful - whether or not you agree with his views of how MLK Day has been transformed and manufactured since his death in '68. Definitely skip on over and read it. The conclusion is striking:

I wonder what Martin Luther King would think of his eponymous day. Of the MLK lesson plan - long on heroism, patriotism, and feel-good rhetoric but short on violence, non- or otherwise — in my son’s classroom. Of the fact that his holiday’s roots in organized labor have been completely forgotten. Of the painful irony that corporate sponsorship proved key in passing the law marking his birthday.

More than that, I wonder what those sponsors would think if they were transported back to Grosse Pointe, on March 12, 1968, to hear King deliver his “Other America” speech, including the line, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” I suspect they wouldn’t recognize that Dr. King. I wonder how many of us would.

I listened to MLK's "Mountaintop" speech today on the radio and wanted to post it up for anyone who stops by and hasn't heard it. I think it's my favorite MLK speech and especially meaningful because he's so aware of what he's accomplished and he was assassinated less than 24 hours later. In Austin 88.7 is playing MLK's major speeches today throughout the day and it's absolutely breathtaking and heartbreaking how relevant they still are today. I had the fortune of being in D.C. last spring break and standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looking over the "I have a dream" inscription pictured above (and man how I wish I could be there tomorrow!). I feel like any words I could produce to describe the emotions attached today and tomorrow would fall far short of what I want them to do so I'll let the speech speak for itself.

On a related note, they played this on the radio too, although I prefer the Five Stairsteps version myself:

If you want more ideas for your soundtrack for the week check out this post from Souled On.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Amazing Peace
By Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.

Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
implore you to stay awhile with us
so we may learn by your shimmering light
how to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ

Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.

We look at our world and speak the word aloud.

We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul

I read this poem while spending far longer than I should have in Barnes and Noble today. I ended up getting The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Waste Land and other poems (T.S. Eliot), Against the Gods (Bernstein), two new Moleskine notebooks and Sammy the Seal (for my brother). It was a wonderful, relaxing excursion and maybe school won't kick me too much this semester and I'll have a chance to read them. I came across this book and I thought this poem was particularly eloquent. Ms. Angelou is so poignant with every word: "We look at each other, then into ourselves, and we say without shyness or apology or hesitation...Peace, My Soul." It's a little past due with Christmas being over and all but who cares I'm the type to listen to Christmas music year round.

Buy it here.

I had the great fortune of seeing Ms. Angelou last semester at UT and here's a clip from her talk where she recited a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar.