Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Podcasts of 2010

I am a nut when it comes to podcast.  And I kind of mean that in a bad way.  I download way too many podcasts-- I know that there's no way I could possibly listen to all of them.  Seriously.  I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but right now I have 1,687 podcast episodes that I have yet to listen to.  That is crazy.

But I've just fallen in love with the format-- and there's an infinite amount of information and entertainment out there.  If I'm not reading or listening to music on my commute here and there in Moscow, I'm listening to a podcast.  And here are my 20 favorite (and I apologize for the awful descriptions):

20.  Sound Opinions

An informative and fun podcast about music.  It's probably lower on my list because it's a recent discovery.

19.  The Ethicist

NY Times Columnist spends 4 minutes or so answering reader questions dealing with ethical dilemmas.  Interesting and thoughtful.

18.  Big Ideas

Lectures dealing with all sorts of topics-- politics, religion, culture, arts.

17.  To The Best of Our Knowledge

Somewhat similar to Big Ideas, this podcast shifts away from just a single lecture to interview people on multiple sides of the issue.

16.  Relevant Podcast

I listen to this mostly for the humor.

15.  Filmspotting

If you're a movie buff, you'll love this one.

14.  Film Riot

If you're into the production aspect of film, you'll love this one.

13.  Fresh Air

I really like Terry Gross.  Great interviews dealing with the arts and current issues.

12.  All Songs Considered

One of the ways I keep up with what's going on musically.  They do a good job of picking out some of the more interesting music.

11.  Penn Point

I just really love Penn Jillette.  Don't agree with him on everything, but I just really like the guy.

10.  Tiny Desk Concert

The title says it all -- a band performs a few songs in an office space behind a tiny desk.

9.  The Nerdist

Like Kevin Pollack or Adam Carolla, this podcast has regular interviews that are more casual and less structured.  Almost like rambling, but in a good way.  I really appreciate it that way.  It feels more real.

8.  The Moth

Individuals spend 10 to 15 minutes sharing a story from their life.  I'm a sucker for this.

7.  TED

You probably already know about this one.

6.  Engagdet

Funny and informative podcast on the technology of the day.

5.  Radiolab

I'll be honest-- I don't know how this is number five.  This is one of my all-time favorite podcasts.  It's hard to explain, but it's almost a merging of science and philosophy.  It takes the facts and then asks why.

4.  Slate Culture Gabfest

Highly interesting roundtable discussions about various topics of the day.  (My descriptions are ridiculously generic)  Very intelligent and the chemistry between the hosts is fantastic.  (Yep, still generic)  I highly recommend it.

3.  This American Life

When I was younger, I wanted to buy a video camera or some kind of audio recording device, and just set it in front of everyone I know one at a time.  And I would have them just tell about their life.  Whatever they wanted to say.  Everything they wanted to say.  I know this show isn't that at all, but it kind of embodies that idea that everybody is inherently interesting.

2.  The Christian Humanist 

This show has as much wit and intelligence that can be crammed into an hour-long podcast.  They approach compelling topics thoughtfully and informedly.  The hosts fit each other perfectly.  Anyone interested in Christianity and the humanities and the intersection of both, this podcast is a no brainer.

1.  The History of the World in 100 Objects

Like walking through a museum, this podcast takes one historical object per episode and guides you through its past significance.  Brilliant, fun, and educational.

I probably shouldn't ask this.......... but what did I miss?  What are your favorites?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorite Television Series of 2010

Here are ten shows that I enjoyed (if not loved) this past year. Please note that I do not consider any of these a "best of" list-- I am only commenting on the shows that I've seen over the year and my favorites from that group.

10. Chuck

I remember chatting around a lunch table about this show while working at FamilyNet. Everyone seemed to love it. I enjoyed the show too, but I expressed my fears about the show to the table. I liked it, but was afraid that looking back in the future, it would be a very, very stupid show. My fear was just that it wouldn't hold up well in the years to come. Randy, a co-worker and friend, simply looked at me and replied "So what?" And he was right in a way (although I'm still debating if that's a reasonable critique of a show-- it's "classic-ness"), and since then I've just plunged in and enjoyed it through and through. There are times where it's corny and times where you can tell they are working with a minuscule budget, but it still pulls everything off well. This season was somewhat lackluster-- to have done so much in the past season finale just to forget about most of it (Chuck hiding he's a spy once again from his sister, and so on), but the recent jumps and developments -- and Timothy Dalton's presence have helped improve things.

Favorite episode: "Chuck Vs. The First Fight"

9. The Office

While I've been a little disappointed in previous seasons, I feel like this one has slightly improved. Whether it's better because it's been tying up Michael Scott's loose ends while at the same time focusing on the supporting cast, or just had better plots overall, something about it has been more enjoyable.

Favorite episode(s): "Christening," "Classy Christmas"

8. The Walking Dead

I know I've said this before, but dystopian and/or apocalyptic themed narratives somehow manage to scare and compel me more than any other genre. There's probably some deep psychological reason for that, but for now I can't really figure out why. I was (and am) particularly intrigued with this show because of the serialized, long-form nature. Because movies are inherently limited to just a couple hours at the most, I feel like it can't really get past the fear aspect of trying to survive to get to some of the deeper emotions-- mourning the loss of loved ones-- or just mourning period, the actual debate over whether survival is worth it, and so on. I know I am excited for the scenes intended to scare, but I'm equally looking forward to downtime as well.

Favorite episode: "Days Gone By"

7. The Daily Show

I have to admit-- because Beth and I are living in Russia, this is my primary source of news. I blame Russia, but I have to say it would be just the same were we still living in the States. I know it's on Comedy Central and can be crass at times, blah blah blah, but Jon is one of the most genuine and honestly concerned [fake] newscasters out there. He cuts through the crap of all the 24 hour news stations (yes, all of them are mostly ridiculous. CNN. Fox News. MSNBC. etc. All of them.).

Favorite episode: too many to count

6. The Colbert Report

While Jon Stewart brings the news and is probably ultimately more valuable, I have never laughed out loud as much as watching Stephen Colbert (and that's saying a lot). Colbert is my hero.

Favorite episode: This one:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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5. Dexter

I love Dexter. I'd be the first to say that this season was far from their best. But there's something about the show that I'm just drawn to. This season I found many problems -- one was a slow early half of the season (after an incredible premiere). I wasn't a fan of the villains this year. I felt like they were way too one-dimensional and were some of the absolute worst sort of criminal. You had to side with Dexter. And I was also bugged by the ending-- everything wrapped up way too easily. The show has hit a formula that they've only branched away from really at the end of Season 4.

Despite all of these shortcomings, I'm still wildly impressed by Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, and the story in general. To make you care about a serial killer is an impressive feat.

Favorite episode: "My Bad"

4. Lost

Lost was an imperfect show-- there were way too many characters, too many story lines, too many questions (that ended up being more interesting than most of the answers). The mythology was too overwhelming and daunting. But the aspect I most appreciated about the show was also what the producers cared most about-- the characters and their relationships to those around them. The redemption that was sought by every character. In that respect it was a beautiful show (although I even enjoyed the problems with the show too). If you went to the final season of the show caring more about the mythology, you were going to be undoubtedly disappointed. But if you went in it caring about the narratives of the characters, that's what the end was ultimately about. The risks that the show took were daring and bold, and because of it Lost is one of the most compelling shows with some of the best characters on television. Lost will go down as one of the best (and one of my favorite) shows of all time.

Favorite episode: "The End"

3. Community

Community is my favorite comedy on television right now. I cannot say enough good things about it. For a show that wears its heart on its sleeve just as much as it makes you laugh until your heart hurts, it pulls it off incredibly.
Favorite episode(s): "Modern Warfare," "Cooperative Calligraphy," "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"

2. Mad Men

I didn't actually start watching this show until this year-- but it didn't take long for Beth and I to get caught up. While I think my expectations were too high in the beginning (and thus finding the pilot and part of the first season somewhat underwhelming), the show continued to grow on me and just get better with every new season. This fourth season was among their best.

Favorite episode: "The Suitcase"

1. Breaking Bad

It goes for most of my favorite shows that it takes at least a few episodes for me to really like the show. It was true for Dexter, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Mad Men, and so on. Breaking Bad, however, had me hooked immediately. Never have I seen a more original and intriguing show. The cast and cinematography are phenomenal, and each season just improves on the last. This is the best show on television right now.

Favorite episode(s): "One Minute," "Fly," "Half Measure," "Full Measure"

Any shows I missed?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Favorites of 2010

Over the coming days (hopefully), I want to share some of my favorite things of this past year.  Years ago I kind of had this existential crisis, freaking out over how much had happened over the years that I probably had already forgotten.  Although the crises have not stopped, I feel that looking over the past year has helped calm them.  Even though I'll be posting favorite music, movies, tv, etc. over the past year, it's all mostly for myself and a means of reflecting on the year.  I hope you enjoy it-- and feel free to comment, critique, or post some of your own.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Still In Italy

 We were supposed to be back in Moscow today.

We've been touring Italy for just about two weeks now.  It's been a fantastic vacation, and it's not ending as soon as we thought.  We can't complain-- I mean, it's Italy.  But our departure date is being pushed back a little.

One of the things we had to do while on vacation, ironically, was apply for and receive a visa for Liam to get back into Russia.  Although we sent in the application immediately when we got here (and hoped it'd arrive by now), it's taking more time than we had imagined.  Surprise surprise.

But like I said, we can't complain.  We are running a little low on our vacation funds, the trip has been incredible. We've been able to cover Rome, visit Florence, take a quick trip to see Pisa, and spend some time in Naples (where my mother's parents lived before immigrating back in the day).  We'll try to post pictures and stories soon!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Joel Burns' "It Gets Better" Speech at City Council

I know this is at least a week old. I'm finally getting around to watching it. It's difficult because of the 12 minute length, but it's such a worthwhile viewing. If you do watch this, please stick with it until the end.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stephen Fry on Language

I used to be really prudish when it came to grammar and language. I'm getting over it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I didn't know our military had a "don't ask, don't tell" policy until at least the end of high school or college.  I just didn't think something so ridiculous could actually BE a policy.

Let's just end it already.

Dan Choi - Don't Tell, Martha! from The Moth on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

the dog days are over

This song has been in my head ever since I heard it a week ago. I even impulse-bought Florence and the Machine's album, Lungs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Favorite Benjamin Story

Two weeks ago, my grandfather Benjamin Rhodes passed away.  It was very unexpected on my end, but it sounds like he was ready and it was something he wanted. 

I'd like to share one of the funniest, and possibly favorite, stories of our time together.

After Beth and I became engaged in August of 2006, we had a Christmas-themed engagement party in December.  We invited family and friends to the event that was held at Beth's parents' house.  Many relatives came, including Benjamin.

All throughout the night, Benjamin kept asking when we would play Spin-The-Bottle.  We knew it was a joke, and laughed about it, but we had no idea what kind of foreshadowing this would be.

We played a few games during the night, all of which Benjamin refrained from playing along-- he said he wanted to wait until we played Spin-The-Bottle.  I continued to laugh at this, completely thinking he was joking.  But it was getting a little strange.

Towards the end of the night, we were all sitting in the dining room as a group.  We were talking and swapping stories, just having a good time.  I went into the kitchen where Benjamin was getting something to drink.  He stopped me to talk.

"Tim.  That Aunt Lucy..... sure is something."

Lucy, Beth's Aunt, was at the party.  And apparently Benjamin, through the course of the three hour or so night, had become fond of her.

"Do you think she would play Spin-The-Bottle with me?"

I know what I should have said.  I should have said.  "Don't even think about it.  That's crazy."

But I really wanted to see this-- whatever it was-- play out.

So I told him.  "She might.  But don't phrase it 'Will you play Spin-The-Bottle with ME.' Make it sound like more people are involved.  She might agree if she knows others are playing as well."

I went back in to the dining room and sat down, (unintentionally) beside Lucy, and resumed conversations.  A few minutes later Benjamin walked in.  Noticing Lucy beside me, and really wanting to see Benjamin talk to her, I jump up.  "How rude of me Benjamin!  Here, have my seat."

He sits down beside her, and kind of gives me a little wink.  It's like I'm his wingman.

And Benjamin does not waste any time.  And, he didn't take any of my advice:  "Lucy, would you play Spin-The-Bottle with me?"

Everything got silent.  People stopped talking out of shock.  But I have a theory that they were also interested in seeing this conversation play out too.  Like a car-wreck, or an episode of Jersey Shore, you can't help but watch the disaster through winced eyes.

Lucy, clearly in shock, stammered, not knowing what to say.  "Uh......, I don't think I want to play that game."

This didn't faze Benjamin.  "Well, we don't have to play; we can just kiss."

Lucy was still shocked, if not moreso, but tried to play it off with a joke.  "Well..... it's been so long since anyone's asked me to do that.  I wouldn't know what to do."

"I'll show you."

That's when everyone lost it.  And Benjamin, unfortunately, got no further than that.  But I did find out that he called Beth's mom many times over the course of the next month, asking for Lucy's phone number.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It Takes a Village

During our retreat to Saint Petersburg, Beth's brother Brandon came for a week or so to visit.  While we only had a few days in St. Pete, we still tried to show him as many sights as possible before making our way back to Moscow.

One of those places was the beautiful Saint Isaac's Cathedral.  Because there was a significant admission fee and Beth and I had already visited the church a few times, I decided to stay outside with Liam.  Beth had fed him recently, and he had slept a while, so we felt like it was a perfect opportunity to leave him with me.  He was in a good mood, and we figured Beth and Brandon would only be about 30 minutes.  Everything would be fine.

We were wrong.

I walked Liam across the street to a park, and everything seemed very normal.  Liam was in a content mood, and I decided to sit on a bench and park the stroller beside me.  For some unknown reason (or a probably very easily known reason; babies are relatively simple to figure out), the instant I sat down, everything changed.  Liam began crying-- one of his exceptionally loud, yelling cries.  I proceeded to go through my Stop-Liam-From-Crying toolbox.  I picked him up.  Nothing.  I turned him around to have him face in front of me.  Nothing.  I turned on music.  Nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing.

Literally nothing I did calmed him down.  I didn't know what to do.  I was (and am) still in that self-conscious stage where I fear everyone around me is judging me for having a crying baby. 

After about a minute, I was bombarded.  An Orthodox woman sitting on a nearby bench ran over and kept crossing herself and saying a little prayer for Liam. Then the nearby porta-potty attendant (only those who live in Russia will understand this amazing profession)  ran over to try to help.  At the same time, another woman selling souvenirs quickly put out her cigarette and ran over as well.   Another woman just remained on the bench nearby, but did manage to shout a command here and there.

All these women tried their hardest to help quiet Liam.  To my surprise and relief, not one woman approached me in harsh or judgmental way, and all wanted to help and support me in my mission to get Liam to stop crying.  The questions came at me:

Do you have a pacifier?
Is he hungry?
Is he cold?
Does he need to eat?
Does he have a stomachache?
Does he have a hat?
Where is his mother?
Do you need to call her?

As the women passed Liam amongst themselves, I managed to quickly text Beth: "Hurry."

As I waited for Beth, and as Liam wailed at the top of his lungs, I tried to explain myself.  I would say things like:

"He was happy just a few minutes ago."


"This is my first child."

Anything to make it seem like I'm not actually a horrible parent and Liam is either crying because of something that is out of my control or something I don't know about.

Finally Beth came.  And the women rejoiced.

After Beth finished feeding Liam, we left the park.  But not before going by every woman that helped us to show off a happy child.  Our way of saying, "Look, he doesn't cry like that all the time.  He really can be quite pleasant."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

[Stephen Colbert is the Real Deal]

I love Stephen Colbert.  I've always been a fan and impressed with his show on Comedy Central (and even before when he worked on The Daily Show), but for I started paying much more attention to him last year in June.

In June of 2009, Colbert took his show to Iraq for the troops.  It was obvious in everything he did that he was performing for those troops in front of him.  It didn't matter that his performance was being televised and aired all over America-- you could tell he was willing to do anything for the audience.

And then he shaved his head.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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This was one of those moments, as silly as it sounds, where I realized that Colbert really truly cared about those watching him.

And that's not the only reason why I am a fan.  I love this guy-- not just because he's hilarious, not just because he's a Sunday school teacher, not just because he got his hair shaved on T.V. Not just because although he plays an arch-conservative character for satire, he's really more complicated than that.

Part of it has to do with this interview clip:

Did you ever go through a period where you lost your faith?
Yeah.  It was a college angst thing.  But once I graduated from college, some Gideon literally gave me a box of The New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs on the street in Chicago.  I took one and opened it right away to Matthew chapter 5, which is the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.  The whole chapter is essentially about not worrying.  I didn't read it--it spoke to me, and it was an effortless absorption of the idea.  Nothing came to me in a thunderbolt, but I thought to myself, "I'd be dumb not to re-examine this."
What caused you to go through that dark period?
Well, I had very sad events in my childhood.  The death of my father and my brothers [his father and two brothers died in a plane accident] was an understandably a shattering experience that I hadn't really dealt with in any way.  And there comes a time when you're psychologically able to do so.  I still don't like talking about it.  It still is too fresh.
Do you think experiencing that has helped what you do in any way?  Or made it more of a challenge?
Not to get too deep here, but the most valuable thing I can think of is to be grateful for suffering.  That is a sublime feeling, and completely and inexplicable and illogical, but no one doesn't suffer.  So the degree to which you can be aware of your own humanity is the degree to which you can accept, with open eyes, your suffering.  To be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity, because what else are you going to do -- say, "No, thanks?"  It's there.  "Smile and accept," said Mother Teresa.  And she was talking to people who had it rough.  That's not how you make jokes, though.

Not only is Colbert an incredible comedian, but he genuinely cares about the issues and problems facing the United States and the rest of the world.  In his position I feel like he gets a free pass to say almost anything he wants.  And he does.  But all while still being optimistic and light-hearted.  I feel like his authoritarian character makes it easier for him to topple authority and level the playing field.

And who else can say "I TEACH Sunday School, motherf***er!"?


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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**Disclaimer** -- There a lot of people that I look up to or inspire me, and I'm not quite sure why I chose Colbert. I think he's just been on my mind a lot lately. He and Stewart are really how I get my news while living in Moscow. And he's one of the few people where I consistently laugh out loud all the time.  I guess I'm really saying this because I'm afraid people will read this and think "really??  You couldn't think of anyone better??"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

[judge not, lest....]

I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I found out a very good friend of mine did not want to tell me what she was reading because she thought I would judge her.  Not only was I surprised, I was also kind of frightened.

I certainly hope I don't have that same effect on other people.  If I do, and you're one of those people, please know that I will never judge anything you do.  In fact, if you are a close friend, chances are I trust just about everything you say and do.  So if you read/watch/listen to/do something, I automatically assume there's something worthwhile to it.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I judge the action based on the person, not the other way around.

For instance, I remember while growing up through middle and high school Stephen King was an author that our youth group at church and friends at school didn't like.  But when I found out my Mom enjoyed reading King when she was growing up, I decided that there must be something to King and his books (instead of deciding that my mother was a heathen and going to hell).  So I picked up The Stand, read it, and loved it.

And not to sound even more ridiculous, usually if there's something that someone likes and I don't -- I think there's something wrong with me, that I'm missing something.  It's never a judgement on someone else.

Unless you like that hack Justin Bieber.  (fortunately he's nowhere to be found here in Russia!)

I know this is silly, but just to show you-- I'm going to share some of things I've read/seen/listened to that I'm not particularly boastful about:

  • I have read (and watched) the Twilight series.  I read it mostly to see what the hype was about.  And I'm still trying to figure that one out.  (what has happened to vampires these days??)
  • I watch Desperate Housewives with my wife.  It's not that bad.
  • I enjoy listening to the Adam Carolla podcast.
  •  I was completely moved by Brokeback Mountain, but I have to admit in some areas I had mixed emotions (but that's another post for another time).
  • I think Kanye West is every bit as good as he says he is.  It's unfortunate, but I think he's incredibly talented.

These are just a few things that I probably don't mention much about myself-- not because I'm ashamed of them, but because of that fear that I will be judged if someone knows about it.  I realize the list is somewhat silly-- but many times people tend to peg you on the little things.  What are some things you fear will get you judged?  

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Moderated Comments #4

    I really don't know how to respond to this.  If the takeaway from this memorial is the shock that the holocaust victims are nude, something is seriously wrong.

    The nudity works not only as history (the victims weren't paraded to the gas chambers in their Sunday best), but also in an artistic manner-- how can you most strip a person of their dignity?  This memorial powerfully portrays that dignity that was robbed of every victim of the despicable acts of the holocaust-- but it also does it truthfully.  And the memorial does so in a beautiful yet heartbreaking manner.  I haven't been more moved by any holocaust memorial than by this one.

    An artifact being nude in and of itself does not make it "unChristian."  It's not the subject matter itself that is up for debate, but how the subject matter is treated.  We all can agree probably that if the people in the memorial were engaging in erotic sexual behavior, something would be wrong (not that sex is wrong, but broadcasting it would probably be inappropriate).  But to show these people in any other light would be historically inaccurate and disrespectful of those who lost their lives to this atrocity.

    Besides, there are numerous "Christian" works of art that portray nudity-- the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's  David, etc.  Those are all probably far less "appropriate" than this memorial (in a sense of historicity or necessity), but completely worthwhile, valuable, and good.  It's not nudity we should fear or judge, but how that nudity is portrayed.

    It's fine to not like the memorial or the art portrayed as a matter of taste.  But to objectively say it's wrong to create it is just flat out, well, wrong.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Moderated Comments #3

    A closer pronunciation would be "Med-vye-div."  It's more of a "vye" sound than a "vwe."  The "w" sound that we have in English isn't really present in the Russian language.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    We, Myself and I

    One of my favorite songs off of Shad's new album.

    Well there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there’s an ‘I’ in ‘win’
    And every guy wanna win so folks is eyeing him
    The ‘I’ in ‘pride’
    They say pride puts the ‘I’ in ‘sin’ – puts self in the centre
    I and I come in
    ’cause I am imperfect, none of us is iron men
    Please be my third eye when the light gets dim
    Even my story’s not mine, where do I begin
    Not with ‘I’, I’m reminded see the ‘I’ in Him
    In my enemy especially
    Him and I are twins
    Gotta love him as I love I
    Him and I are kin
    Take the thing outta my own eye
    Then see if the word is where the world begin
    Then at the end of the word ‘friend’ is where I end
    And all men become I, and I them
    So who am I then?
    Just dust in the wind
    With a pen and a grin
    I’m goin’ in (you goin’ in?)
    I’m goin’ in like, yes

    Chorus: We all in agreement/ If you hear the song and you feel it/ put your palms to the ceiling like yes/ yes, everybody/ yes x 2

    What can I say for myself?
    Where I’m at ain’t where I stationed myself
    So I’m grateful I do okay for myself
    I wanna do better for y’all
    I’m afraid of myself
    God said, ‘You trust me,
    now have some faith in yourself’
    When I made my first record
    I would say to myself
    I’m glad to share this
    I don’t wanna just play for myself
    The thing with rappin is
    It helps me get away from myself
    Go put these thoughts and feelings out
    So they don’t stay on the shelf
    Stay in my soul
    ’cause I find the more I stay to myself
    The less I find the real me
    The more I stray from myself
    And can’t relate to no one else
    I don’t have to make a way for myself
    Just make my thoughts point away from myself
    And what else


    We are
    Greater than the sum of us
    All greater than the some of us
    Greater than each piece or part
    We are a body, an army
    Greater than any single art piece (peace)
    And love in our hearts
    And we are who we are behind doors in secret
    In our deep depths and recesses
    We aren’t free yet
    We are how we treat our sick folks and widows
    The rich with broken hearts
    The broke and the crippled
    And the soul that’s weak
    We are not what we eat
    But what comes out of our mouths when we speak
    Most of y’all don’t speak truth
    Can’t play me, playboy
    I’m no kid- I don’t play Wii
    We are parents
    Proud and embarrased
    We’ve come a long way, but we’re still not there yet
    And we don’t always get along
    Me, myself and I
    When we do, we in tune like the song
    Singing, yes…

    Monday, June 21, 2010


    Go ninja go ninja go!

    Welcome to the Great Blog Post Challenge of 2010!  I'm very excited about this.  My friends Michael, Meredith, and myself are going to feature this series on our blogs.  Michael, who introduced and orchestrated the [challenge], had this to say about it:

    "A group of friends and fellow bloggers have decided to challenge each other to think, write, and dream in new and innovative ways. The group will take turns challenging each other (with a topic, theme, photograph, song, etc... ) to write meaningful entries.

    We all share a common fear of the unknown. Will people like my post? Will they be offended? Will they be bored? We are challenging each other to move beyond our normal frames of reference and to embrace new forms, media, styles, and content.

    This might get interesting. When one of my post titles is [in brackets], be aware that it is an official submission for the [Challenge] and read it with a grain of salt.

    Above all, we hope to grow as people and writers through this challenge. We hope, as a side benefit, that you will all enjoy our broader horizons as much as we do."

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    One of the best ads I've ever seen.

    I will admit that I'm only a moderate fan of soccer.  I have never been too engrossed in the sport, but I do enjoy it.

    This 3 minute long commercial masterfully shows the highs and lows of the sport.  In single plays, split seconds, players can either become renowned or hated for the rest of their lives.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Introducing Liam

    On June 9, 2010, at 6:53 p.m. Moscow time, William Soren Rhodes was born.

    He weighed in at 3.8 kilos (8.3 pounds), and was 55 centimeters (22 inches) long.

    I'm still in shock.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    So Many Questions

    I feel like becoming a father is like an episode of Lost --- more questions than discoveries.  I guess that's like life too (I've used this metaphor a lot... sorry).

    You may have noticed the general lack of posts related to this impending life-changer.  I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.  Typically I find "baby overload" annoying, but at the same time it has been a massive part of my life.  But it's been hard for me to write about this.  To articulate my thoughts.  This post has been a draft for almost a week by the time it's actually being published!  I started writing this May 16th!  It's nearly June!

    We're (I'm guessing) a few days away from the birth or less, and I still feel completely unprepared mentally speaking.  It's still even hard to believe anything is going to change.  It's still hard to believe we're going to have a child.  People keep asking if I'm finding the answers I need, but I still wonder if I'm missing some of the questions.

    That's not to say I haven't done my fair share of research.  I've read a couple phenomenal books, and have been fortunate to speak with some great parents.  I guess the idea I rest on is that nobody is prepared to be a parent.  Nothing can prepare you.  At least that's my excuse :-).

    All this being said, we are both immensely excited about the upcoming addition to our family.  It's this weird mix of feelings, we're both nervous and a little panicked, but at the same time at this point we can't wait for him to arrive.  Right now we're both trying to figure out how he's going to be a part of our lives.  We want him to be a part of the family, but not the center of it.  We don't want him to be our complete identity.  We're going to include him in much of what we do, and not use him as an excuse to get out of things.  I guess we're trying to figure out how the child's going to change our life.  Not only that, but areas where we shouldn't change our lives for him.  If that makes sense.  Beth and I certainly want to retain our identity while at the same time making our child a part of it.

    I don't even really know where I'm going with this.  Perhaps this post really mirrors things pretty well-- I don't really know what to do or where to go.  I feel like I'm just making things up as we go.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    "there's gonna be some rain sometimes"

    Shad's new album TSOL is out now. And it's phenomenal.

    Baby Hears Mom For First Time

    Man this is too adorable. I know Cochlear Implants are controversial, and I'm still not sure what I think about it. But this video HAS to count for something.

    Another Movie I'm Looking Forward To

    They're waiting to post a second trailer, but are waiting for their Facebook page to garner 100,000 fans.  So join up!

    Lost Alternate Ending!

    Just a little thing I put together. Hope you get a kick out of it.

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Fun at Ikea

    Beth and Andrea and I made a trip out to IKEA today to pick up some last -minute baby items we thought we might need.

    While shopping, I found this box wooden artist models:

    I saw these all the time at the IKEA in Atlanta, but this was definitely a first seeing them here in Moscow.  So I grabbed a few, and decided to do a little decorating in some of the nearby rooms and displays:

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Babylist - May 2, 2010

    Last night, heeding my desire to introduce more "classics" to the baby playlist, I played one of my favorite Beatles songs:  "Hey Jude."

    (suck it, Bieber!)

    Really, Fox News??

    They don't like Mr. Rogers.

    Now who hasn't heard this before?  "Our generation is swell, but I'm worried about the next generation." 


    Saturday, May 1, 2010


    Most nights, before going to bed, I play a song for little CrimeFighter Grizzly Killer (our soon-to-be son).  It's not quite as regular as I'd like, but it's something fun I like to do.

    In fact, while in America, Beth found my old iPod nano-- we plan to make some playlists for our child for every situation (a normal playlist for the daily routine, a softer playlist for putting him to bed, etc.).

    Even though we only have a month left before he enters this world, I thought I'd share the songs I've played for him so far, and add the song I play for him each day.  Let me know your thoughts or songs you think I should play for him as well.  What are some of your favorites and/or most important songs?  What should every baby hear??

    The list (so far):

    Little Richard - "Long Tall Sally"
    Matt and Kim - "Daylight"
    The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps"
    Belle and Sebastian - "Suki in the Graveyard"
    Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"
    Modest Mouse - "Float On"
    LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends"
    Vampire Weekend - "Horchata"
    Death Cab For Cutie - "Passenger Seat"
    Bob Dylan - "Shelter From the Storm"
    Bright Eyes - "First Day of My Life"
    Movits - "Fel del av gården"
    Feist - "1234"
    Spoon - "Got Nuffin"
    Chuck Berry - "Johnny B. Goode"
    Decemberists - "Sons and Daughters"
    Wolf J. - "Grizzly"
    Sigur Ros - "Gobbledigook"
    Switchfoot - "More than Fine"
    Sufjan Stevens - "Chicago"
    The Flaming Lips - "Do You Realize??"
    Arcade Fire - "Rebellion (Lies)"
    Josh Garrels - "Rabbit and Bear"
    Mumford and Sons - "Winter Winds"
    Band of Horses - "General Specific"
    Welcome Wagon - "Up on a Mountain"
    Sufjan Stevens - "The Transfiguration"
    Kid Cudi - "Pursuit of Happiness"
    Josh Ritter - "To the Dogs or Whoever"

    And I think there's more I just didn't write down.  There's just so much great music out there.  One thing that's really noticeable is that I really need to add more classics into the mix (Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.).  Several of these are definitely not "essentials," but really some of them were just what was stuck on my mind at the time.

    Let me know what you think!

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    New Band of Horses!

    If you didn't know that there was a band called "Band of Horses," that title would definitely make no sense....

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Христос Воскрес!

    Воистину Воскрес!

    Forgive me, I stole this from Michial Farmer and the Christian Humanist blog.  But it is incredible.

    Make no mistake: if He rose at all
    it was as His body;
    if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
    the Church will fall.

    It was not as the flowers,
    each soft Spring recurrent;
    it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
    it was His flesh: ours.

    The same hinged thumbs and toes,
    the same valved heart
    that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then regathered out of enduring Might
    new strength to enclose.

    Let us not mock God with metaphor,
    analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
    making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
    let us walk through the door.

    The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
    not a stone in a story,
    but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
    the wide light of day.

    And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
    make it a real angel,
    weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
    spun on a definite loom.

    Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
    for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
    lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed by the miracle,
    and crushed by remonstrance.
    - John Updike

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Crowder and Dylan: Performance and Worship

    In a pairing that many say was destiny waiting to happen, Bob Dylan and David Crowder join forces at the Jaded Conference to present a provocative session on the "Death of Performance Worship."

    It is rumored that Bob Dylan will provide a stirring indictment of worship music, and how it is becoming less and less about the performer and performance.  Instead of drawing people to the musician's myspace page, performances have steadily been drawing the audience to worshipping Christ.

    While Dylan will speak more of the performer, Crowder plans to emphasize the audience, and how to focus them on the performer.  Providing layouts and schematics not only demonstrating the setting of a church performance (mirroring that of a theater or stadium), Crowder also provides blueprints to for lighting and stage setup.  He even plans to give meticulous detail of how to utilize facial hair to bring the audience to awestruck attention.

    "Since childhood, I have been inspired by Bob Dylan's hair," Crowder recalls.

    Though no one is certain of Dylan's religious affiliation (though most believe it's Judaism), the Jaded Conference allowed him in on the technicality that he did just release a Christmas album.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Events of Yesterday

    As you all know, two bombings occurred today in the Moscow metro -- one at "Лубянка" (Lubyanka) station and one at "Парк Культури" (Park Culturi).  Both happened within 30 minutes of each other--one around 8:00 a.m. and one around 8:30-8:45 a.m.  38 are dead, around 65 are injured

    While trying not to co-op on other people's pain, Beth and I have never been closer to an attack like this than today.  We have come to regard this city as our home, and we share the pain of the citizens of Moscow.  We grieve with our friends here.  We fear with them.  These are just random places, these are places that we know and travel to often.

    Our new language teacher, Irina, who has tutored for our company for years, her husband was injured in an explosion.  He is out of surgery and still has not regained consciousness as far as we know.  Please keep their family in your prayers.

    As you probably noticed in an earlier post, Beth and I love the metro.  We don't give taking it a second thought.  It's just something that we do to get around Moscow.  But now there is this intense fear and apprehension with going near a station.  In reality, we are probably just as safe as we were the day before the attacks, but our emotions tell us otherwise.  Although we have to just live life normally, internally we feel at a stand still.

    Please keep the families of the victims and injured in your prayers.  People are shaken all over Moscow-- a cashier I spoke through at the grocery store said it was "как кошмар" -- "like a nightmare."  If nothing else, we hope this time will be a reflection in all of our lives about what really matters-- and a reminder of how fleeting life is.  May we make every breath count.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Moscow Metro Explosions

    Women suicide bombers kill dozens in Moscow Metro attacks - Times Online

    At least 34 people were killed and dozens more injured when female suicide bombers attacked two Moscow metro stations at the height of rush hour this morning.
    The first blast came at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow at 0756 (0356 GMT) killing 22 people.
    The headquarters of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is located above the station which is just yards away the Kremlin.
    Around 45 minutes later at 0838 (0438 GMT) the second explosion happened at Park Kultury station, killing at least 12 more people. "There are killed and injured," a security source said.
    The blasts were caused by two women wearing belts packed with explosives, Moscow's chief prosecutor Yuri Syomin told reporters.
    Surveillance camera footage posted on the Interbet showed motionless bodies lying in Lubyanka station lobby and emergency workers treating victims.
    Passengers, many of them in tears, streamed out of the station, one man exclaiming over and over "This is how we live!"
    No group immediately took responsibility for the blasts, but suspicion is likely to fall on Chechen militants and other groups from Russia's North Caucasus, where Russia is fighting a growing Islamist insurgency.
    Russian emergencies ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said the first explosion happened as a metro train stopped at the Lubyanka station that was packed with peak hour commuters.
    "The blast hit the second carriage of a metro train that stopped at Lubyanka," she said. Commuters were killed both on the platform and in the carriage and at least 10 people were wounded, she said.
    The second blast also took place in a train carriage while it was stationary at the platform, she added.
    The twin attacks practically paralysed movement on the city's main roads, as emergency vehicles sped to the stations. Helicopters hovered over the Park Kultury station area, which is next to the city's renowned Gorky Park.

    Security sources told the state Interfax news agency the blast could have been caused by a suicide bomber. Authorities have opened a criminal investigation into terrorism, a spokesman of the investigative committee of prosecutors said.
    Over the last decade the Russian capital has been hit by a string of deadly explosions claimed by Chechen militants.
    The last fatal attack on the Moscow underground was in 2004. That attack, which killed 39 people and wounded another 150, was claimed by Chechen terrorists
    The Moscow subway system is one of the world's busiest, carrying around 7 million passengers on an average workday, and is a key element in running the sprawling city.
    Recent attacks in Russia
    1994-1996 - Tens of thousands of people are killed in the first Chechen war.
    June 1995 - Chechen rebels seize hundreds of hostages in a hospital in the southern Russian town of Budennovsk. More than 100 people are killed during the rebel assault and a botched Russian commando raid.
    Jan 1996 - Chechen fighters take hundreds hostage in a hospital at Kizlyar in Dagestan, then move them by bus to Pervomaiskoye on the Chechen border. Most rebels escape but many hostages are killed when Russian forces attempt a rescue.
    Sept 1999 - Bombs destroy apartment blocks in Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk. More than 200 people are killed. Moscow blames Chechens who in turn blame Russian secret services.
    Aug-Sept 1999 - Hundreds of Russian soldiers killed battling Chechen militants in the mountains of Dagestan. The second Chechen war begins and Russia bombs Chechnya. Tens of thousands are killed in the war. Russia re-establishes direct rule in 2000.
    Oct 23-26, 2002 - 129 hostages and 41 Chechen guerrillas are killed when Russian troops storm a Moscow theatre where rebels had taken 700 people captive three days earlier. Most of the hostages are killed by gas used to knock out the Chechens.
    July 5, 2003 - Two women suicide bombers kill 15 other people when they blow themselves up at an open-air rock festival at Moscow's Tushino airfield. Sixty are injured.
    Aug 1, 2003 - A suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives blows up a military hospital at Mozdok in North Ossetia bordering Chechnya. The blast kills at least 50.
    Dec 5, 2003 - An explosion tears through a morning commuter train just outside Yessentuki station in Russia's southern fringe. Forty-six people are killed and 160 injured.
    Dec 9, 2003 - A suicide bomber kills five other people near the Kremlin. At least 13 people are wounded.
    Feb 6, 2004 - A suicide bombing kills at least 39 people and wounds more than 100 on an underground train in Moscow.
    May 9, 2004 - Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov is killed in a bomb blast in Grozny.
    June 22, 2004 - Rebels seize an interior ministry building in Ingushetia, near Chechnya, and attack other points in lightning attacks. At least 92 people are killed including the acting regional interior minister, Abukar Kostoyev.
    Aug 24, 2004 - Two Russian passenger planes are blown up almost simultaneously, killing 90 people. One Tu-134, flying to Volgograd, goes down south of Moscow. Moments later a Tu-154 bound for Sochi crashes near Rostov-on-Don.
    Aug 31, 2004 - A suicide bomb attack in central Moscow kills 10 people and injures 51.
    Sept 1-3, 2004 - 331 hostages - half of them children - die in a chaotic storming of School No.1 in Beslan, after it is seized by rebels demanding Chechen independence.
    Oct 13, 2005 - Up to 100 rebels attack key security points in Nalchik, main city of the Muslim Kabardino-Balkaria region. Twelve local residents are killed as well as 12 police. Twenty fighters are killed and 12 are seized by security forces.
    Feb 10, 2006 - Seven Russian policemen and 12 gunmen are killed when special forces storm houses to fight rebels holed up in a village in the Stavropol region of southern Russia.
    Aug 21, 2006 - A bomb kills 10 people in a Moscow suburban market.
    April 27, 2007 - A Russian helicopter is shot down in Chechnya, killing 18 people.
    Aug 13, 2007 - A bomb derails the Nevsky Express between Moscow and St Petersburg, injuring 60 people.
    Aug 31, 2007 - A bomb on a bus in the Southern Russian city of Togliatti kills eight and injures 50 during the rush hour.
    June 22, 2009 - Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is seriously injured when a suicide bomber detonates explosives beside his car. He later recovers and returns to work.
    Aug 17, 2009 - A suicide bomber drives a truck into the gates of the main police station in Nazran, the largest city in Ingushetia, killing 20 people and wounding 138 others.
    Nov 27, 2009 - A bomb blast derails the Nevsky Express with about 700 people on board. At least 26 people are killed and 100 injured.
    Jan 6, 2010 - At least seven policemen are killed and 20 more injured in Dagestan when a suicide bomber detonates a car packed with explosives at a traffic police depot.
    March 29, 2010 - At least two blasts strike Moscow metro stations during rush hour, killing 34 people and wounding 18.