Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Faust, Midas, Sandler, and Myself

I have to be honest. I don't usually get this feeling that "God's trying to teach me something," but as of recently, I really think he has.

And it's a simple thing. But it's one of those things we pass up, only because we get so used to our lives.

It all started (kind of) with a Switchfoot song from their new CD, "Faust, Midas, and Myself." It's another one of his philosophical songs, reminiscent of "Something More (Augustine's Confession)," "Under the Floor," "Home," etc. I like this one a whole whole lot.

Here are the lyrics:

This one’s about a dream

I had last night

How an old man tracked me home

And stepped inside

He put his foot inside the door

And gave a crooked smile

Something in his eyes

Something in his laugh

Something in his voice

That made my skin crawl off

He said, “I’ve seen you here before

I know your name.

You could have your pick

Of pretty things.

You could have it all

Everything at once.

Everything you’ve seen,

Everything you’ll need,

Everything you’ve ever had in fantasies.”

“You’ve one life,

You’ve one life.

You’ve one life left to lead.”

I woke up from my dream

As a golden man

With a girl I’ve never seen

With golden skin

I jumped up to my feet

She asked me what was wrong

I began to scream

I don’t think this is me

Is this just a dream

Or really happening?

What direction?

I’m splitting up!

This is my personal disaffection

What direction? What direction?

What direction now?

I looked outside the glass

At golden shores

Golden ships and masts

With golden cords

As my reflection passed

I hated what I saw

My golden eyes were dead

And a thought passed through my head

A heart that is made of gold can’t really beat at all

I wanted to wake up again

Without a touch of gold

What direction?

Death or action!

Life begins at the intersection.

I woke up as before

But the gold was gone

My wife was at the door

With her night robe on

My heart beat once or twice

And life flooded my veins

Everything had changed

My lungs had found their voice

And what was once routine

was now the perfect joy

You’ve one life

One life left to lead


We all know the story of Faust. This guy sells his soul to the devil (Mephistopheles) to have all that he wants in order to attain complete happiness.

This song just reminded me how truly blessed I am. I really don't have it bad at all. I complain about having no money, this and that, but in reality, I don't have anything to whine about. The bad and negative that does happen, I only define as "bad" and "negative" because of all the good I see surrounding it. And I know that I say all of this while nothing "bad" is really happening, and my tune will probably change when I do get crapped on, but I don't think life is like that--the idea that it's good one moment and then bad the next. I think it's a fair mix all the time, some moments having more good than bad, and some moments more bad than good.

And then I watched Click. While I wasn't a huge fan of the movie by any means, I did like what it was trying to say. We tend to live our lives in fast forward at times, skipping the slow parts, the commercials, the formulas we already have memorized by heart. In the "nearly literal" sense, there will be times where I'm driving, and I cannot remember the last 5-10 minutes. But we tend to take things for granted, count it as given, and never think twice about it.

I'm trying to slow things down. Breathe easier. Appreciate even the seemingly mundane. I'm trying.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Have You Ever Noticed...

Have you ever noticed how people will recognize some trait about them only in attempts to diminish the veracity and actuality of that negative characteristic? For instance, I say stuff like, "I'm so rude" or "I'm this or that," not to recognize the fact that I am rude, but to say I'm not that rude, because it seems to be less negative when I know that I'm rude. And knowing is somehow progress to not being that way.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Meet One of the Greatets Men Alive

Have you heard of this man?

For over a half century, the scientific and humanitarian achievements of Dr. Norman Borlaug (Nobel Peace Prize winner, Medal Of Freedom Winner and recipient of over 35 honorary Doctorate Degrees) has kept starvation at bay for millions of people in third world countries. Dr. Borlaug, " Father of the Green Revolution" continues his battle against starvation in Africa.

"Though barely known in the country of his birth, elsewhere in the world Norman Borlaug is widely considered to be among the leading Americans of our age." Greg Easterbrook

When he won the Nobel Peace prize in 1970, he had already saved over ONE BILLION lives thanks to his hybrid genetically engineered plants that he introduced to Mexico and India, as well as other countries.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My 20 Favorite Songs of 2006

This is a list of my 20 favorite songs of the year. I kind of cheated, because two are actually from different years, but has had a significant presence this year. So, yeah.

20. TV on The Radio "Province" - I like this band. It's one of those where I don't know why. But this song is probably my favorite on their record. Lush layers, some help from David Bowie, just an incredible song.

19. Jay-Z "Oh My God" - Yeah yeah, I was excited when Jay-z came out of retirement. Although his newest album was just decent, this song just sticks with you. One review called this song a new form of hip hop called 'stadium rap.' And that sounds about right. This one is my favorite song on the record.

18. Johnny Cash "God's Gonna Cut You Down" - Man oh man. And I thought the late Cash had a very fine ending with "We'll Meet Again." He admonishes from experience. I don't think I'd trust anyone else more.

17. Jars of Clay "Work" - Every album by these guys is different, and on this one they go the pop-rock route. It's not quite as uniquely them as their other albums, but provides this pretty awesome song. Just don't watch the music video--it's okay, but Haseltine's jolts inbetween his singing is just odd looking.

16. Built To Spill - "Goin' Against Your Mind" - This band sounds oddly like They Sang As They Slew. The intro, from the simplest drum beat to this soaring 8+ minute rock piece doesn't seem to end--and you don't want it to.

15. Regina Spektor "Samson" - When Spektor isn't her upbeat quirky self, she's this masterfully intense singer. This is the perfect example. I'm really sorry I missed the two times she was in Atlanta (and the first time for free!).

14. Fair "Unglued" - Other than Mute Math, and maybe Mat Kearney, I can't think of any good (or even decent!) new bands to come out of the "Christian" music industry. Partially because there aren't any, and partially because I don't pay that much attention to that industry any more. Fair, however, has been able to stand above the rest--mostly because of veteran producer and now frontman for the band, Aaron Sprinkle. Not only has he been producing about every other Christian artist's music (seriously, get your Christian music in a pile, pick one at random, and there's a 70% chance he produced some or all of it), but he's had some pretty stellar records on his own (Lackluster is amazing). Although I haven't heard all of his album, this particular song is great. The rock sound, Sprinkle's lyrics and voice, and some help from the ladies from Eisley, it's got it all.

13. T.I. "What You Know" - Yeah, I feel yah T.I. Represent the ATL. I'm thinking of becoming a hip-hop artist, but calling myself "T.I.M." Maybe. Okay, just kidding. Anyways, this is probably my favorite hip-hop song of the year.

12. Bright Eyes “Trees Get Wheeled Away” - This song is off of Noise Floor, a collection of rarities from 1998-2005. Although most of the songs show you why they weren’t put in albums, this one shines over the rest. It sounds most like his Lifted material.

11. Cold War Kids "Saint John" - I don't know much about this band. For a while I didn't want to like them because they have a song that's the same title as one of my poems. But this prison tune, featuring ragged percussion and a bass riff, stands out. I hate to compare it to the White Stripes like everyone else, but that's what it kind of reminds me of.

10. Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos “Quiet As A Mouse” - Not only is this the album of the year, but almost all of their songs could fit on this list. You can hear just about every member of this 8 person band. This is the hardest song on the album, defying it’s title, but it is absolutely gorgeous. “Wake up, the sun is rising without you.”

9. Now It’s Overhead “Let Up” - Now, naturally I’m a little biased. But this stripped down, acoustic and light percussion/hand claps is one of their best on their new CD, Dark Light Daybreak (although most of them are pretty close).

8. The Flaming Lips “The W.A.N.D.” - Although their new album is nothing compared to their previous Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, this catchy tune makes up for it.

7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Gold Lion” - First of all, this album Show Your Bones is everything I wished their previous album would have been. This first single of the CD is great. Karen O’s vocal performance is quirky but not chaotic. It’s just great.

6. Sufjan Stevens “Dumb I Sound” - Yeah yeah, this is an old song. I think it was recorded in 2000. But I heard it for the first time this year. This one makes me want to cry.

5. The Black Keys “thickfreakness” - The Black Keys… the yin to The White Stripes’ yang, this band I swore was some ‘60s blues-rock band. But I later found out they are relatively new. Although this song was recorded in 2004, this is the epitome of their amazing sound. One of my favorite new artists of the year

4. Beck “Strange Apparition” - On an album made up of all whizzes and beats imaginable, the standout instrument of this track is a piano. It’s Beck meets gospel, and all of God’s people said “AMEN!”

3. Margot and The Nuclear So and Sos “Talking In Code” - Their best track on the album Dust of Retreat and SO close to song of the year. Similarly to “Quiet As a Mouse,” this song is layered and layered with harmonies and melodies. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

2. The Format “Dog Problems” - Their new album of the same title is amazing. Their first was decent, but their entire sophmore album is BRILLIANT--and this song is the best.. Soft at some points, and others it’s a blaring big band piece. “When I said I hate what I’ve become, I lied—I hated who I was.”

1. Mute Math “Typical” - So what if fourteen year old girls like this band. THEY’RE GOOD. I mean, really good. This is probably my favorite song on the album. It's the typical existential song, akin to Switchfoot's "Meant To Live." It works well. I just haven’t been able to get this song out of my head all year long. And that's what makes it my favorite of the year.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Do You Sneeze When You Look At The Sun?

I just thought this was cool because I thought everyone sneezed when they saw bright light.


Photic sneeze reflex (also referred to as sun sneezing, photogenic sneezing, or whimsically called ACHOO, a backronym for Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome) is a medical condition by which people exposed to bright light sneeze. The photic sneeze reflex can also cause one to sneeze many times consecutively. The condition occurs in 17% to 25% of humans, with more common occurrence in Caucasians than other human races. The condition is passed along genetically as an autosomal dominant trait.

The first mention of the phenomenon is probably in the later work attributed to Aristotle (Problems, book XXXIII).

The probable cause is a congenital malfunction in nerve signals in the trigeminal nerve nucleus. The fifth cranial nerve, called the trigeminal nerve, is apparently responsible for sneezes. Research suggests that some people have an association between this nerve and the nerve that transmits visual impulses to the brain. Overstimulation of the optic nerve triggers the trigeminal nerve, and this causes the photic sneeze reflex. Another theory suggests that tears leaking into the nose through the nasolacrimal duct are a cause of the photic sneeze reflex. The speed of the reflex seems to favour the first theory, as it happens much too quickly for tears to be generated and drain into the nose. In addition this sneeze reflex can be brought on by a sudden inhaling of cold air or a strong flavor such as a strong mint gum. This implies an overstimulation of any nerve close to the trigeminal nerve can cause the sneeze reflex.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Editing lyrics

Have you ever listened to a song, misread the lyrics, and after finding out the actual lyrics, you like your own better than the original?

The Format - "If Work Permits"

sometimes, when sailors are sailing
they think twice, about where they're anchoring
and I think, I could make better use of my time on land
I'll drink less
Cause Lord knows I could use a warm kiss
Instead of a cold goodbye

But this is what I thought they said:

sometimes, when sailors are sailing
they think twice, about where they're anchoring
and I think, I could make better use of my time on land
I'll drink less
Cause Lord knows I could use a warm kiss
Instead of a cold kick back

There's just something I like more about it, considering he already alluded to wanting to drink less. I don't know. It's also just a really cool way of saying "beer" to me. Listening to it over again, I wonder how I could have ever thought that he sang "kick back."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Is There A Product Like This?

Here at Random Parts, Unlimited, we're happy to offer the brand new AXEcommunication.

Have you renounced your faith in Christ or are just "in the valley?"
Have you been spotted at various heathen areas, and need to remove any sort of identification on your car?

Or, are you just sick and tired of your car being responsible for Christianity and the faith as a whole because of some dumb decal?

Now, thanks to the AXEcommunication, we can easily remove any unsightly fish, dove, or cross label stuck to the backside of your Ford Taurus. Maybe it was there before you owned the car, or maybe in a fervor of spiritual excitement you decided to mark your religious territory on places other than your heart. Either way, now you can rest easier in your horseless carriage knowing that you are no longer responsible for other people basing their views of Christianity on whether you have a hemi or not. And just think, you can now freely express your distaste of the car in front of you when they decide to cut you off. Shout obscenities! Flip them off! They'll never know that you have a personal responsibility to show love to everyone that you meet--or interact with on the highway. You're free and clear--your car won't be any more or less Christian without it--and neither will you!

It's the AXEcommunication, something I wish someone would invent.

Like Spinning Cats

Enough said

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A Revelation of Prejudice

This is so embarrassing, but I have developed a prejudice over the past couple years.

It all started while waiting tables in Highlands, N.C. For a while I didn't notice things when it came to tips or people, but one day a fellow waiter, in between one of his trips to a back alley to sneak swigs of some sort of liquor, shouted, "Cheap South Carolinians!"

"Huh?" I asked, noticing his very clear generalization.

"Yeah, all South Carolinians are cheap," he complained. "They vacation with clothes and hundred dollar bills, and don't change either of them!" (That apparently was a waiter joke)

I arrogantly laughed his idea off, knowing that I would never judge people like that. Minutes later, I took a table with a family of four, all wearing outrageously tacky Hawaiian looking clothes. I took their orders, and in between filling their waters I chatted with them; where they were from, how long they were going to be in Highlands, what waterfalls they were going to hike to, and so on. It turned out that they were from South Carolina. After that, for some odd reason, I noted that they all only got waters, and got the cheapest things on the menu. As well, they hardly tipped at all, despite their friendly personalities and the fact that we seemed to get along and they seemed pleased with the service, thanking me for everything.

A seed had been planted.

The next day, I waited tables again at the restaurant. Nothing was out of the ordinary. During a lull in the lunch hour, however, I looked outside and across the street to notice the South Carolina family I had served the day before--ALL WEARING THE SAME CLOTHES AS YESTERDAY!

I was baffled. Maybe Paul was right, I thought to myself.

Ever since then, at the restaurant, if I got a bad tip, I immediately assumed they were one of those cheap South Carolinians. This idea grew worse, I began thinking that not only were South Carolinians were cheap, but stupid.

Now, whenever I see someone in a car with a South Carolina tag, I immediately assume they are horrible drivers, and whenever I see such a car make the tiniest mistake, it only reinforces my prejudice. The "MR UGLY" car, a few days ago? It only figured, since the car had a South Carolina tag on it. Whenever I drive through South Carolina, I can't help but think that suddenly I am more intelligent than everyone around me. If a South Carolina vehicle cuts me off, doesn't turn on its blinker when turning, has its brights on, drives too slow, drives too fast, has a dumb bumper sticker, etc., there's hell to pay.

Yes, I am a horrible person.

"To generalize is to be an idiot" - William Blake.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

This Year

This was taken from Meredith and Michial. :-D

1) Was 2006 a good year for you?
I think so.... it was a mixed bag, but things ended up really well.

2) What was your favorite moment of the year?
There were many. Proposing to Beth. Going to Russia--more specifically, Red Square, The Hermitage, hearing a chorus of Russian students singing "Wind of Change" at Summer Camp.

3) What was your least favorite moment of the year?
I'm not sure. But there were some.

4) Where were you when 2006 began?
Nicole's apartment at Falls Park

5) Whom were you with?
A LOT of people.

6) Where will you be when 2006 ends?
Not sure. I think Nicole wants a shindig

7) Whom will you be with when 2006 ends?
Friends or family.

8) Did you keep your New Year's resolution of 2006?
Hmm.... I don't know. I usually resolve to do the opposite of what I want, so it always works out.

9) Do you have a New Year's resolution for 2007?
Resolutions mean nothing.

10) Did you fall in love in 2006?
No, but I already was.

11) If yes, with whom?

12) If yes, do they know?

13) Are you still in love with them?
Oh yeah.

14) Do you regret it?
Not at all.

15) Did you breakup with anyone in 2006?

16) Did you make any new friends in 2006?
Yes, I did.

17) Who are your favorite new friends?
Meredith, Paul and Krystal, etc. It's hard to remember though, because it feels like I've known everybody for much longer, including those on this list.

18) What was your favorite month of 2006?
Probably August.

19) Did you travel outside of the US in 2006?

20) How many different states did you travel to in 2006?
I went to South Carolina, Florida, and that's it.

21) Did you lose anybody close to you in 2006?

22) Did you miss anybody in the past year?
BETH, among others.

23) What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2006?
Hmm.... theater movie or movie movie? Video movie it'd have to be Magnolia or Millions or 21 Grams or The Shawshank Redemption. Movie movie, hmm.... that's tough. I really liked the Departed, but it's probably far from my favorite. Maybe Stranger Than Fiction.

24) What was your favorite song during 2006?
Now THIS is tough. I absolutely loved "Dog Problems" by the format, "Elevator Music" and "Strange Apparition" by Beck, almost anything by MuteMath, "Talking in Code" by Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, "Samson" by Regina Spektor. And more and more and more.

25) What was your favorite record from 2006?
Probably MuteMath or Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos.

26) Did you see any concerts this year?
I got to see Now It's Overhead, MuteMath, They Sang As They Slew,

27) Did you have a favorite concert in 2006?
Probably MuteMath

28) Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2006?
Not a lot.

29) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2006?
Hahahaha. I took a lot of ibuprofen for headaches.

30) Did you hope for something you didn't get in 2006?
Of course.

31) Did you do anything you're ashamed of this year?

32) What was the biggest lie you told in 2006?
That I know what I'm doing.

33) What was the worst lie someone told you?
Not sure.

34) Did you treat somebody badly in 2006?

35) Did somebody treat you badly in 2006?
No big deal.

36) How much money did you spend in 2006?
Hahha a lot.

37) What was your proudest moment of 2006?
When she said "Yes." when I navigated my way around Moscow alone, when Jon and Sonnet were impressed with the video, etc.

38) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2006?
Oops...... I'm not sure. I think was when I took a wrong bus in Moscow (the 128 instead of the 1), and it completely threw me off track and I had to run a couple miles back to the original bus stop, before the 1 bus showed up.

39) If you could go back in time to any moment of 2006 and change something, what would it be?
Now where's the fun in that? but probably.

40) What are your plans for 2007?
Finish school, do an internship, work my ass off, get married, find a job, etc.

Make Haste Two

I like this one a lot--when I'm not cynical about everything.. This one is back from my junior or senior year in high school. It's a series of poems that are more structured than anything I've ever done.

Make haste, make haste, this fiery wind

Because the storms and tempest toss,

Where death prevails and life grows thin,

And little hope is all but lost.

From forceful gales, I’m thrown aside,

Like some pawn in a deadly game,

The bolts of rain, they pierce my eyes,

Is this the end for this faceless name?

I pull the cords to no avail

They seem to tie the noose more tight

Around my neck, but breath prevails

And leads me on this bitter plight.

I choke and curse this beaten ship

And curse the seas that brought me here

For black and void is all the trip

And grief regardless where I steer.

On knees I fall amidst the pain,

And pray to God who hears me speak

I pray my life is not in vain

I am in need for I am weak.

I turn my eyes to face the sea

And see a Man upon the waves

Is it He who comes, just for me?

And for my life, through Him be saved?

At first I doubt, it not be true,

No man—or God—would die for me.

There’s not a thing that I could do

Where can I go if I can’t see?

He climbs aboard this battered ship

And His scars reveal the truth

“Oh My child, you’re worth the trip

See these scars? Yes, that’s the proof.

“I love you more than My own life,

And there’s nothing I’d not do,

I’d bear all the torment and the strife,

For all time, just to be with you.

And in those times You cursed Me,

I held you deep inside my arms

And though there’s pain that you will see,

I tried to keep you safe from harm.”

And with a shout, He cried “Be still!”

And calmed the waves upon the sea.

And though that was, and is, His will

Was what He spoke meant just for me?

Monday, December 4, 2006

Form of Monotony

I'm sure I've posted this old poem elsewhere. It was written in my freshman year of college - I think.

We've brandished a form of monotony,
"Bigger words make better poetry."
We make an oracle of what we do not understand
And child's play of what we do.
We are different for different's sake,
And not for the sake of being original--
Or ourselves.
Some use profanity to look bad
Like some men who use tools and greasy rags
To look more like a mechanic and less
Of what they really are: clueless.
Some do not use profanity in order to look good,
Like some men who go to church or carry around
A Bible to look more like a Christian
And less of what they really are: clueless.
Our brandished form of pedanticism
Has made our lives the uniformity of rules
Like a game
Instead of
Rules to survive, to live, to love, to cherish
The games people play become our lives
And our lives reduced to games
Reducing life further to merely assisted suicide.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Toccoa Is For Lovers (Even Though I Haven't Gotten Any)

Toccoa is for lovers,
So why aren't you still here?
All our lives once intertwined,
Like a crossword puzzle
I always did like the New York Times'
So come on back
I'll use a pencil this time
I won't be so confident
I'm well-prepared to give up everything I've gained
And start right back
At Across 1.

I guess that's the curse
Of having convictions
Or the curse of cable reception
But I've done my time
15 seconds of fame
Come on back now,
Things won't be the same.
I'll show you why they call it Big A Road,
Baby, it's not an oversight.

I know you may be long gone
It was wrong to make you wait
And I've learned since then
So come on back,
Toccoa is for lovers
And we're right on track
Nestled neatly between
Almost anywhere.

I don't think I'm done with this one yet.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Secular Vs. Sacred

In Leviticus 11:44 it talks about not using pagan items to worship God.

In 1 Corinthians 10 it says eat meat that has been blessed to other gods in God's name.

Now, although one verse is from the OT and the other from the NT (an therefore it seems the second negates the first, under the "new law" or whatever, but), where do you think the line is drawn on the secular vs. sacred realm? What can't we do in Christ's name?