Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Sesame Street Clip -

// Favorite Scrubs Nostalgia - watch out, there's  a smidge of profanity

// Favorite Tech Story - Digital meets analog (check out the Youtube Channel HERE)

// The Voices of Batman -

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Short - Two words: Jedi Ninjas. Merry Christmas.

// Favorite Bo Staff Skills - Scary kid.

// Favorite Song -

// Favorite Time Lapse -

// Favorite Crazy People -

// Favorite Cat-Like Reflexes - Hey, at least he isn't complaining about the gays!

// Favorite Robyn Interpretation -

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Prank - Jimmy Kimmel is at it again.

// Favorite Video Essay - The Spielberg Face

// Funniest Campagin Video -

// Something I Don't Miss About Russia -

// Favorite Mash-Up - Breaking Bad and The Simpsons

// Favorite Look Back at 2011 -

// Favorite Song - A new one off of the Black Key's album. It's called "Little Black Submarine." You may see it again shortly. We'll see.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite New Blog - My friend Hook is now blogging, and his posts are always interesting! He's an awesome guy, and I encourage you to check it out HERE! (It's also good Russian practice.)

// Favorite Stop Motion Film - This came out over two years ago. I missed it.

The Arctic Circle from Kevin Parry on Vimeo.

// Favorite Video About Russia - Thanks Almost an M!

// Favorite Song/Music Video -

// Favorite Extreme Video (and just the video in general) -

// Favorite Predictions of the Future -

// Favorite 2011 Year in (Film) Review -

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// I Didn't Know They Could Do This -

// Favorite (Creepy) Nature Video -

// Favorite Original "Nothing Is Original" Video -

Everything Is A Remix: THE MATRIX from on Vimeo.

// Favorite SNL Sketch of Last Week -

// Favorite Song - Five Iron Frenzy is back!

// Favorite Office Cameo -

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Encouraging Video -

// Favorite Parody -

// Favorite Ad -

// Favorite Song - "A Case of You" by James Blake

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Charity - Charity: Water's WaterForward Campaign:

How WaterForward works. from charity: water on Vimeo.

// Favorite Autotune - This new video from the Symphony of Science:

And this one:

// Favorite "To Catch a Predator" Stunt - (warning, some of the text is nsfw)

// Favorite Informational Video -

// Favorite Song -

// Favorite Son - Beth accidentally left the light on after Liam was put to bed last night. So naturally I took the opportunity to get a photo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Guys, please, please do me a favor RIGHT THIS MOMENT and check out this blog post.

Okay, back?


Who's in? I've thrown my name in the ring for an invite -- let me know if you want me to pay for an invite for you.

I really like this idea, and I love the charity: water organization. As I'm sure you read, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of donations go to getting clean water to those in need of it.

Please let me know if you're interested. If you have ten bucks to spare, it'll completely be worth it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meditations on 7,000,000,000

Earlier this week in the Philippines, the (hypothetical, of course) 7 billionth person on the planet was born.

There's a lot of talk--granted, mostly from Ted Turner--about how overpopulation is one of the worst things that can happen to this planet. And they'll usually use these anecdotal pictures of a crowded street:

Honestly I'm trying to wrap my mind around that many people and what it means for the planet. But my initial reaction to the population increase is not so bleak and horrific. I tend to think that the more people on the planet, despite there being more mouths to feed, means more minds to solve the problem.

Although it's easy for me to say that as I shovel starburst candy into my mouth from an evening of children going door to door and receiving food that they do not need, from people they do not know, I tend to be more optimistic. Research shows that less people are dying from disease and starvation--even as the population continues to rise. It's still a staggeringly horrific fact that millions still do die each year from easily preventable causes, but it's encouraging to know that the number is continually dropping each year.

The rising population is already starting to plateau, and the more humanity progresses the more it will continue to do so. Instead of freaking out about the population of the planet, let's do what we can to help those on it. There is a way. And it probably involves all seven billion of us.

For an interesting read, check out this article.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite New Album - A tie between Florence and the Machine's Ceremonials and John Mark McMillan's Economy

// Favorite Song - Johnny Cash's "I See a Darkness"

// "You Should Have Been There" - Will anything as exciting and awe-inspring as this happen again? I sure hope so.

// Favorite Nature Video -

// Favorite Video of My Son - He went trick or treating for the first time. He's definitely got some learning to do.

// Favorite Ryan Adams Video - The strange Halloween absurdist metal-themed talk-show. (Confused? So am I. But it's great.)

// Favorite New Website - The Verge. My new favorite site discussing consumer electronics. I've been looking forward to this for a while.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Night Cheese Podcast

I know I mentioned it before.... but I wanted to again let you know about a weekly project I've been working on for the last 4 months.

My good friend Stephen and I began the Night Cheese podcast -- a weekly show discussing Netflix recommendations regarding film and television shows. Every week we pick a one or two to recommend, possibly something that has flown under the radar.

We love doing it, and think you might be interested in checking it out. Here are a list of important links:

Click here to go to our Facebook page.

Feel free to rate and review in iTunes, and "like" us on Facebook -- add to the discussions going on there!

Weekly Discoveries

// Some Much Needed Facebook Advice -

// Favorite Infographic -

CNET UK Presents: History of the iPhone, dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs from Drew Stearne on Vimeo.

// Favorite Song AND Video -

// Favorite Talent -

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Parody -

// Favorite Website -

// Favorite "Sweded" Trailer -

// This Much Closer to Finally Getting our Hoverboards -

// The Mother of All Hot Wheels Tracks - 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Dub Step -

// Don Draper introduces Facebook's new layout - (watch here)

// Favorite Use of Technology - 

// How to Be Remembered Forever -

Wanna Live Forever? Become A Noun from NPR on Vimeo.

 // That's Going to Leave a Mark -


Monday, September 26, 2011

Cover Me

Just this weekend, in honor (or memory) of R.E.M., Coldplay covered one of my favorites of theirs:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Music Video -

// Favorite "Holy Crap" Video -

// Favorite Song - I don't know what it is, but Coldplay's new single has me hooked:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Trailer Parody:

// Favorite Late-Night Musical Performance:

// Favorite Song:  This new gem from Florence and the Machine

Florence + The Machine - Shake it Out by Artur Cunha

// Favorite TV Show: Louie. I can't believe I'm just getting to this one.

// Favorite "Holy Crap" Video:

Experience Zero Gravity from Betty Wants In on Vimeo.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Song -


// Concert I'm Most Looking Forward to Tonight - Beth and I are catching the Avett Brothers! We are very very excited.

I'm embarrassed to say, but that's all I got.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cover Me

Did you think you'd ever get to hear Willie Nelson covering a Coldplay song? Me neither.

But he did it. And it's good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Muppets + Ok Go = Another Great Video

// 9-11 Time Lapse

// Favorite Song - This one by Bon Iver and James Blake:

// Second Favorite Song - This new single off of Ryan Adam's upcoming album:

Lucky Now by ryanadams

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Turn Now

Beth and I with Nadya, Anya, and Yulya

Tomorrow, something very exciting will be happening in the city of Atlanta. Three very good friends from Moscow will be visiting. for a little under a week. In between trips to NYC and LA, they will make their stop here where we will show them around town and make the long drive to Indiana for another good friend's wedding.

I may have talked about this a little before, but this is something we've been excited about for a while. For many reasons.

While Beth and I were in Moscow, it would be an understatement to say we were spoiled by all of our friends. One of the reasons we became so comfortable so quickly in such an overwhelming city is because of all the help of our friends. From helping us find places, to helping us with the language, to even helping us get Liam's birth certificate (no easy feat in Moscow, especially if you're language skills are lacking), we were so fortunate to have friends that were there for you whenever you needed.

Now it's our turn.

We're so excited to now be able to share our city with some of our best friends. On the weekend we'll head up to the wedding in Indiana, but between then we'll be showing them all that we can in Atlanta.

Our dear friend Andrea is getting married!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cover Me

I'm sure you've seen this already. Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen guests.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Album - This one came out (digitally, at least) on my birthday. And it's fantastic. It's Beirut's new album, called The Rip Tide. You can pick it up on iTunes for now. Here's a song from the album.

// Favorite Song - This one also came out on my birthday I think. It's Switchfoot's new single "Dark Horses." While this isn't the best song ever, I've always been a fan and I'm really excited about their new album out on Sept. 27.

// Favorite Show - This one is from BBC, and sadly there's only three episodes at the moment (but the three is the entire first season).

// Favorite GalleryThese chilling photos of the always hidden North Korea

// Favorite Video You Should Actually Be Watching - Live 58:

// Favorite Short Films - Move, Eat Learn.

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage. (thanks to for this pick)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Some Film/TV I'm Looking Forward To:

This trailer for an upcoming TV show looks like it may be going in the exact direction I was hoping for.

I'll be the first to say I am disappointed that this is a reboot and not a continuation of what Raimi and Co. were doing, but this does look like it has potential. Except for that POV at the end. I hope the movie has none of that.

// Favorite Prank Backfire : Jack Vale gets punched.

// Favorite Lost Deleted Scene:

// Album I'm Looking Forward To:  I'm really hoping this makes up for their sophomore slump.

// Another Album I'm Looking Forward To:

// Favorite Song: You might recognize this from the season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad.

// Favorite Music Video: Ok Go does it again. (Go here for interactive version)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cover Me

One of my favorite bands in the world covered Dolly Parton. And it is fantastic.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Song - I really want to send this to every single person that sends me a forward.

// Favorite Podcast - Okay, this is just shameless promotion. But if you are a film or television enthusiast, check out a podcast a friend of mine and I started, called Night Cheese. Every week we both pick a movie and tv show and recommend it. Visit our website at or click here to subscribe in iTunes.

// Favorite Barbecue - This is actually a few weeks old, but while Beth and I were at a family reunion in Jackson, GA, we were able to visit Blind Pig BBQ and were beyond impressed.

** I know, I know.... it's not much this week. Sorry about that. **

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cover Me

This song isn't even released yet. It's only a minute thirty clip, but I'm already loving it.

Trent Reznor and Karen O - "Immigrant Song"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Rap - First World Problems

// Favorite trailer - Apparently this was the best part of Cars 2.

and this one too:

// Favorite Improv Everywhere Prank - Carousel Horse Race

// Favorite Song - "Farther Along" by Josh Garrels

"Farther Along" - Josh Garrels from Josh Garrels on Vimeo.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite album of the year (so far) - Bon Iver's new self-titled album is a masterpiece. Get it now if you haven't already.

// Favorite live performance(s) - Bon Iver was on the Colbert Report this week:

He was also on Fallon:

// Best show on TV this week - Without a doubt, the Colbert Report. This week he was his first summer music week, and the guests were stellar. Bon Iver (as mentioned above), Florence and the Machine, Talib Kweli, and the Black Belles, AND Jack White. It was phenomenal. Catch all the videos here.

// FINALLY, a real trailer - The Muppets.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Need This

Yesterday Reluctant Runners went live (created by the great Tripp and Tyler, of, and I can't tell you enough how much I need this site. But here are a few.

// Why I needed to start running anyways: When Beth and I returned to the states, we frequented Chic-Fil-A probably every day. Multiple times. Not only that, but because the spicy biscuits and sandwiches were introduced while we were in Moscow, I was enticed but couldn't choose between it or the original. So I bought both. For nearly two weeks, every morning I devoured an original and spicy chicken biscuit. And an orange juice, to be more healthy.

But I knew I couldn't continue this. I knew that if I wanted to eat every delicious meal at many incredible restaurants that I had missed over the two years, I was going to have to exercise without completely exploding.

// Every single day I think of dozens of reasons not to run. Literally every time I'm supposed to run. For instance, this morning. Here were some of the many thoughts that rushed through my head to prevent me from running:

"My phone's dead-- I should wait until it's charged. I'd probably better not run today"

"It's later than I wanted to wake up, by the time I'm finished half of my morning will be gone."

"It's looking cloudy today-- it might rain. Better not run."

"I'm out of chocolate milk, I won't have anything to drink after my run."

Needless to say these are as mindless as they sound. It's that period when I'm barely awake, so anything I say sounds like lunacy-- but makes a great deal of sense to me at the time.

// Speaking of chocolate milk. One inspiration to actually commit to jogging was this article. This gives me a great excuse to be fully stocked of one of the most amazing beverages in existence. And it gives me great relief while running to know that at the end of the torture there's chocolate milk waiting for me at home.

// No music = no run. This is an absolute. If something's wrong with my iPod or it's not charged, I just don't run. Period. The music is what keeps me going.

If you're a runner who's not the runner type, please do yourself a favor and check out

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Song - This band and song has just blown me away.

Listener "Wooden Heart" from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo.

// Favorite Album - Josh Garrels' new album just came out this week. It's fantastic and FREE. Get it here!

// Favorite Studio Performance - Arcade Fire stopped by Sound Opinions and recorded a couple performances.

Arcade Fire perform "Sprawl II" on Sound Opinions from WBEZ on Vimeo.

Arcade Fire performs "We Used To Wait" on Sound Opinions from WBEZ on Vimeo.

// Another Parody Trailer of a Movie I'm Looking Forward To:

// Favorite Gregory Brothers Tune:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cover Me

*Man, I'm cutting it close here with my attempts to get this posted before the end of Monday. Hopefully in the future it'll be up sooner in the day.*

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." -Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite song - This new single from Beirut:

// Favorite parody trailer -

// Favorite parody music video -

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cover Me

**Ever Monday I'm going to post a cover song I've enjoyed lately. Hope you like the first one.**

Admittedly I've never heard of this artist, but her cover of Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" is incredible.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Cover - of Montreal's spot-on, but still great, take of the White Stripes.

Of Montreal covers The White Stripes

// Show I'm most looking forward to - Breaking Bad, hands down, is my favorite show right now.

// Other Favorite Cover - Sufjan Stevens does REM:

// Favorite Sites - and

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Between a Sacrifice and Vacation

Upon telling family, friends, and co-workers about our upcoming work in Moscow, we had mostly two basic responses:

WOW! What a sacrifice!
Have fun on your vacation!

In reality, of course, it was neither of those things.

Beth and I could never really think of it as a sacrifice. Because, honestly, we wouldn't have done it if we didn't think we would have enjoyed it. We both fell in love with the city years before, and were elated that we would be living there.

And, although this goes without saying, life in Moscow most certainly wasn't a vacation. Anyone who has been to Moscow for more than a couple weeks will know this. Moscow is definitely more European than most of the rest of the country, and pretty international, but getting around and getting by can be difficult at times.

You see, if you're on a short term trip to possibly anywhere (meaning you're only there for a week or two), there's a strong likelihood you're going to get the special treatment. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just not a good barometer for actually living there. Many times people who host groups in the countries or cities they live in, they tend to go easy on them -- for the most part. They naturally want you to like and enjoy the place. And even if you have difficult work to do, you probably knew what you were getting into.

I digress. Sorry about that. I'm just trying to say that living anywhere that isn't your home culture is probably going to be pretty hard at times. There will be days where it's a blast and you think it couldn't be better, and there will be days where you collapse in the snow and want to give up (there will probably be more of these days, by the way). Either way, as long as you shake off your American sense of entitlement, an adventurous attitude, and have the long term in mind, every day will be worth it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Some rapture confessions - a week later

// I don't want the rapture to happen. I feel like a bad Christian when I say this, but I really want to live life right now. I know as believers we're supposed to desire Heaven and have this excitement about it (and that's fine, I've got nothing against that), but I really don't at the moment. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, Liam. Secondly, the scores of people that will possibly be condemned to hell. A desire for Heaven for me just feels like selfishness.

// I don't think the world is any more worse off (or any "closer" to a rapture).  If you know me at all, you've probably heard a rant about the "good 'ol days." It bothers me when people talk about how much things were better in the previous generation. Because it's just not true. There has always been atrocities, there has always been sin. No period of time is worse than the one before it. In fact in several areas things are kind of improving. But I'll shut up about it. You've probably heard it all already from me.

// I don't even know what I think about a rapture. I did the whole Bible college thing. Took enough courses (as required by the school) to earn a minor in Biblical Studies. And I still don't know what I think about the "end times." I just can't figure it out, and I don't think anyone really can. Even in the Bible, Paul and other spoke as if Christ was going to return then - during their lifetimes. Not that that changes anything, it just goes to show no one has a clue.

// I just don't like the whole "100% certainty" attitude. The fact that this guy claims to be absolutely right yet comes up with reasons why he won't give away everything he has, you know he's full of it. It's okay to say "I think I'm right but can't really know for sure because that's what faith is all about." Still won't believe him, but I might like him more.

// And why are we even listening to this guy?? Why is this even a news story? Why am I writing a blog post about it? He was wrong in the '90s. It's clear this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Stuff like this you shouldn't really get a second chance. Why do people still believe him? And doesn't he know the track record of other peoples' predictions of end times throughout the thousands of years? They've all been wrong 100% of the time. Horrible odds. I'd just stick to something safer-- "That earthquake was because God was angry! The end times are coming soon*!"

*The end times are a lot like my viewpoint of global climate change-- although I believe it's happening, I feel like ANYTHING that happens is used as proof of it. Anything. I just wish something would happen where they would say, "Well, maybe things aren't as bad as we thought." or "Well, maybe Christ isn't coming back as soon as we were thinking."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite song and video - This song had me hooked already, but the video itself is awesome too.

Goldfish - We Come Together (OFFICIAL) from Goldfish live on Vimeo.

// Favorite Diet Coke + Mentos video - I know, I know. If you've seen one you've probably seen them all. But this one is a little different.

// Favorite Darth Vader video - This is just priceless.

// Favorite Outtakes - Kristen Shaal pimping a Sony Xperia Play. I think that's what it's called.

// Movie I'm really, really, looking forward to - Watch the whole thing.

// Creative Youtube product that would have never existed without Youtube - Brilliant. So cool I had to show two.

// Article that made me tear up - This one by Christopher Hitchens.

What did you discover this week?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

// Favorite Band - Although this release is a few weeks old, Panda Bear's album Tomboy has been on repeat all this week. Check out one of my favorite tracks, "Slow Motion:"

// Favorite Song - Bon Iver's new single "Calgary." His next album is out June 21st, and I can't wait.

// Favorite Video - This insanely cool marriage proposal that you've probably already seen. Stuff like this makes me feel like I've let my wife down.

// Favorite Restaurant - This one's in Decatur (where most of my favorite restaurants exist), and it's called Farm Burger. The food is incredible-- they have some of the best sweet potato fries and onion rings. And they have Abita Root Beer on tap!

// Documentary I Really Want to See - Werner Herzog's new film Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How Was Your Weekend?

This weekend we travelled up to Mountain City, Georgia with friends to run in the Warrior Dash. This was the first race I've ever competed in, and was the necessary motivation to keep running these last few months.

My time was 41:19-- not great, but not horrible for a first race. Here's some helmet cam footage someone recorded. They skipped the boring stuff.


and After:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekly Discoveries

**Okay, so I guess I'm making this an every Friday thing. We'll see how it goes.**

// Favorite Band - I've been a fan for a few years so this isn't really a discovery, but the new Fleet Foxes album is really great. It was the AmazonMP3 Daily Deal, but now it's back to the normal price. You can get it here. Here's a sampling:

// Favorite Song - Thanks to my friend Mark for showing me this one. It's the National and their song from the new Portal 2 game. It's called "Exile Vilify" and it's fantastic.

// Favorite Video - The new digital short from SNL had me cracking up. It's off the Lonely Island's new album Turtleneck and Chain. So far I'm loving the album and think it's a slight step up from their previous.

// Something I Want to Build - The Most Useless Machine Ever

// Favorite Photos - 25 Abandoned Yugoslavia Monuments That Look Like They're From the Future

// Restaurant Find - Beth and I (along with our friend Michael) found a Russian restaurant called Lana's Express. For many reasons we were nervous and our expectations were low, but it turned out to be really great.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Discoveries of This Past Week

// Music Discovery - a band called the Heartless Bastards. I have actually heard of them for a few years now, but was always weary of listening to them based solely on their name. Thanks to Friday Night Lights I fell in love with them. Here's one of my favorite songs - "All This Time":

// Favorite Trailer - Beth and I got sucked in to the Harry Potter series while in Moscow. This trailer is just fantastic.

// Favorite Interview - Tina Fey at Google. Need I say more?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lost in Tra[i]nslation

About a year ago, Beth had to return to the states to renew her visa. She was gone about three weeks, and during that time I was pretty busy. But for one of those weeks I was able to make a trip to our friends the Friersons and Wilhelms in Izhevsk.

You probably remember posts previously about trips to visit them-- it's a lengthy 18-hour train ride from Moscow. And this particular time I was a little nervous. Not only would I be riding alone, but I purchased the cheapest tickets available, the плацкарт (platskart) -- in which the rooms are open and beds are everywhere.

Here's an image as an example:

I'm not so nervous because of the space issue-- Russia helped me get over my personal bubble a long time ago. I was simply nervous about the language aspect of it and not really having anyone else with me to chat with that I knew.

At the same time I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to really put my language to the test-- we had been living in Moscow for right at a year. Although my skills were far from where I wanted them to be, I figured this would help give me a better picture as to how I was doing.

I'm sure I've mentioned on previous blogs before, but I have this desire-- maybe it's normal, maybe odd-- whenever I'm in another country (in this case of course, living in Moscow), I want to blend in as much as possible. I don't want to appear foreign or American. I don't want anybody to notice me. I am still not sure why I have this strange aspiration.

Finally the day comes. I arrive at the train station and find my bunk. I find myself in a little compartment with a kind elderly couple and a larger man in his 30s. We all greet each other, prepare our beds and change as needed, and the train takes off. It's the moment of no return.

The first 2 hours seemed to go perfect. I was getting pretty impressed with myself. Like most conversations between complete strangers, everything began small. My strong suit. We talked about where we were going, the train, the weather, and so on. Everything appeared completely normal. I could not believe how well things were going.

Finally the elderly lady asked if she lay down on the bed she and I were sitting on. I graciously moved over and crammed on the other side with the man and younger guy. He begins to talk to me, one on one. We were close, and everything was very deliberate. Slowly but surely I was unable to understand a word here, a phrase there. Finally he asked me something, and I have no idea what he said. At all.

I had finally hit that point. I wasn't looking forward to it, but I knew I had to admit to him my true identity. I told him in Russian "I'm sorry, I didn't understand you. I don't speak Russian very well [and then I always say this even though it's completely and utterly unnecessary except to make me seem better] but I am studying the language in Moscow."

The man looked at me as if something had finally clicked in his brain.

He said to me, in Russian and laughing, "It all makes sense now! This whole time I thought you were just stupid!"

And those thoughts of self-satisfaction and success were all gone. This entire time I thought I was mastering the Russian language, I just sounded mentally ill to those that actually spoke it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

kcohS erutluC

Reverse Culture Shock is something you hear about (and almost prepare for) while living overseas. It's the basic idea that the difficulty you had adjusting to a new culture (in our case, Moscow) will be somewhat similar when returning and re-acclimating to your native culture.

Surprisingly, we didn't have as much difficulty as we were worried about. It took less than a day to get used to driving again (we didn't have or drive a car the entire duration of our time in Moscow). In fact, things didn't seem that foreign at all. Most of our reverse culture shock experiences could be summed into one-sentence shouts of exclamation:

"This washing machine is HUGE!"

"Wait, you can get another drink with the same cup -- FOR FREE??"

"There's a whole shelf for cereal at the grocery store?!"

"Wait, I can wash my clothes and wear them again in the same day??"

I could go on.

But there is definitely another side to reverse culture shock. It's this feeling of displacement. Not only have we left this incredible group of friends and colleagues back in Moscow, but we are entering back into life in America as if it were two years ago. People have moved on. It's that tightrope feeling that probably feels the strangest. Not belonging to either world.

I know that sounds pretty pathetic, but I don't mean it that way at all. It's life. It happens. The tension will go away eventually.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Liam's Toy Firetruck

Liam's got this little talking anthropomorphic fire engine (really aren't all children toys anthropomorphic?). It's a cool little toy, but there is something very odd about it.

The toy's name is Boomer. It's got some phrases that it says when you press the flashing red lights. Most of them are pretty normal:

"We put the fire out!"

"Don't worry, help is on the way!"

"Firetruck sirens."

And so on. But every once in a while, when you press to talk, he'll say:

"Can we just put it in park and talk this though?"

Friday, March 11, 2011

New and [hopefully] Improved

A friend of mine gave me a really kind compliment a few months ago. Ironically it was right after I completely bombed a joke I was telling.

He said, "You know Tim, that's why you're so funny. Because you tell jokes all the time, and even if they end up bad, you still follow through."  (I'm probably paraphrasing.)

I don't typically think of myself as funny, although I try really hard to be. Call it a defense mechanism. But his encouragement really meant a lot.

And it got me thinking about this blog and what I write. I remember thinking when I was younger how much bolder and braver I'd be with older age. But I feel the opposite has happened. I'm more scared to write anything now than ever before.

His compliment inspired me to write more-- bad posts and all. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oh The Memories #1: Starstruck

**This post is in honor of Bright Eye's newest (and possibly last) album releasing this week, entitled The People's Key.**

Have I told you about the time I met Conor Oberst?

I don't think of myself as someone who is a fanatic of anything, or someone who thinks highly of a celebrity status. In my narcissistic view of myself, I'd like to imagine me not getting terribly excited when seeing someone famous. I definitely have this "I value their talent, but they're just like you and me" attitude about it. Sadly it's easier said than done.

I've got a really talented step-brother, Clay. He's popular in the Athens music scene-- and he can do just about anything. He's in a country band called the Chasers, in which he sings lead and plays guitar. He drummed in a band called Now It's Overhead off of Saddle Creek Records.  I could go on.  He recorded with Bright Eyes, and in the Fall of 2007 he also toured with them.

Because of this, Beth and I were able to meet up with him on their stop in Birmingham, Alabama (sadly there were no Atlanta dates on this particular tour).  So my wife and I roaddtripped it over one time zone.

Excitement doesn't begin to describe our feelings. Ironically, I had been a fan of Bright Eyes before I knew Clay played with them (imagine my shock reading the liner notes of Lifted and seeing his name in the backing vocals and percussion section). Bright Eyes has had quite the impact on my life, both musically and spiritually. One of the most important albums of my spiritual life is the previously mentioned Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground.

The anticipation was great, but I still had that mental idea that "Conor Oberst is just a person. I'll just chat it up if I see him and tell him I appreciate his work."  We met Clay at the theater they were playing, grabbed dinner, and he gave us a little backstage tour. We even met Gillian Welch, who would guest perform on a song with Oberst, along with Dave Rawlins.  She was very cordial, but disgusted at the fact that we had just eaten at Arby's.

Eventually we made our way to the tour bus, where we sat towards the front. We talked together while the History Channel ran on a small television in the background. After some time, Conor Oberst made his way onto the bus.

I froze. All those smoothe and cool things I wanted to say were out the window.  I was starstruck. Clay introduced us, and I don't really remember what I said. I think it was something along the lines of being a big fan and being excited when I heard Clay would be touring with them.

Oberst sat down, and Beth complimented his cowboy boots. From there they talked for about 15 minutes-- who gave him the boots, clothes, cowboys, rodeos, and so on. He was very courteous and outgoing. Pretty normal.

And I just sat there, frozen.

And after their conversation, he hopped off the bus to do whatever it is musicians do before performing.  Leaving me cursing myself under my breath.  My opportunity, I thought, was gone.  That was it.

After the show we met up with Clay again and actually ended up back on the bus.  This time I was determined to be ready for Oberst. I was going to have something planned out-- a compliment about the performance or a high five. But the fatal flaw came in the form of one of my favorite foods.  Clay pointed to a pile of pizza boxes on a table on the bus and said, "At the end of every show they bring this up for us.  You want some?"

I should have said no.  I should have said I wasn't hungry.  But I was.  And I love pizza.

I dug in.  Actually, I just had one slice.  But at the worst possible moment, I took a big bite-- one of those bites where the cheese on the rest of the pizza comes along for the ride. The moment I was fighting a bite of pizza larger than my mouth could handle, Conor Oberst stepped onto the bus and walked right past me.

Outraged with myself, I threw the rest of the pizza in the trash. That would be the last time I saw Oberst, and probably will be the last time I ever see him.

But later that night Beth and I walked with Clay to a bar where he performed on his own (both covers and his own songs)-- something he did after every concert. There we sang and laughed, and I remembered why I was there in the first place.

This is the setlist of the night.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Favorite Songs of 2010

Well, finally. My 25 favorite songs of the past year.  I hope you enjoy it.

25.  The Dead Weather - "The Distance Between Us"

24.  The Black Keys - "Tighten Up"

23.  Joe Pug - "Bury Me (Far From My Uniform)"

22.  Band of Horses - "Neighbors"

21.  April Smith and the Great Picture Machine - "Colors"

20.  John Mark McMillan - "Skeleton Bones"

19.  Dr. Dog - "Jackie Wants a Black Eye"

18.  Lord Huron - "Mighty"

17.  Broken Bells - "The High Road"

16.  Best Coast - "Boyfriend"

15.  Cloud Cult - "You Were Born"

14.  Mumford and Sons - "Little Lion Man"

13.  LCD Soundsystem - "Dance Yrself Clean"

12.  Jonsi - "Go Do"

11.  Kanye West - "Runaway"

10.  Arcade Fire - "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

9.  Frightened Rabbit - "Loneliness and the Scream"

8.  Sleigh Bells - "Rill, Rill"

7.  Shad - "We, Myself, and I"

6.  The Tallest Man on Earth - "Kids on the Run"

5.  Spoon - "Written in Reverse"

4.  Janelle Monae - "Tightrope"

3.  Sufjan Stevens - "The Age of Adz"

2.  The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

1.  Cee-Lo Green - "Forget You"

(But if I can be completely honest, I liked the uncensored version much better.)

What did I get right? What did I get wrong? What did I miss?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Favorite Albums of 2010

Here are some of my favorite albums of the year.

20.  The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards

Of all Jack White's side-projects this is probably my least favorite.  But that's not saying much.  Still a great band, still a phenomenal album.

19.  Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

Upon first listening I was actually very disappointed.  But something happened between now and then-- now I have a much greater appreciation for it.

18.  John Mark McMillan - The Medicine

Technically this could be considered an '09 release.  But it was pulled and then re-released this year.  I'll let it slide.

17.  Vampire Weekend - Contra

They took all the things haters complained about in their first album and cranked it up.

16.  Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring

Somewhat brighter than their previous albums, and just as good.

15.  Cloud Cult - Light Chasers

As I write this I wonder why this isn't higher on the list.  Phenomenal album.

14.  Best Coast - Crazy Fot You

It's a little hard to sing these songs in public.  But they're so catchy it's a little hard not to.

13.  Sleigh Bells - Treats

I never thought I'd hear this kind of mash-up of genres.  For the most part it's pulled off incredibly.

12.  LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Another genre that I usually don't gravitate towards, but this album is just amazing.

11.  The Black Keys - Brothers

This is the album I wanted their last couple to be.

10.  Jonsi - Go

This was the sound of our Spring.

9.  Janelle Monae - The Archandroid

One of the most ambitious debut albums I've ever heard.

8.  Shad - TSOL

The best hip hop artist you may have never heard of.

7.  Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

One of the most consistent albums of the year.  Just as good as their previous record.

6.  Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Not a lot of beauty on this album, but the ambition and scope is just incredible.

5.  Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Despite being a band that's way too serious for it's own good, I really admire them at the same time.

4.  The National - High Violet

I had extremely high expectations with this album, and wasn't let down one bit.

3.  Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More

I've heard this band compared to the Avett Brothers and Fleet Foxes, among others.  While there are definite similarities, there are just as many distinctions.

2.  The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

My surprise album and favorite musical discovery of the year.

1.  Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Sufjan took noise and made it into a beautiful sound. Heartfelt, honest, and introspective.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

30 Things I'm Looking Forward to in the States

With our departure being only 1 week away, I was thinking about things we're excited about that we can't really have or get here.  It's a totally vain list (sadly mostly food items are on it), but I hope it shows just some of the small differences between Russia and the US.  And don't worry-- next up will be 30 things I'm going to miss about Moscow.

So here it goes-- some things I can't wait to get back to in the US:

  1. Chick-Fil-A (this one is probably a no-brainer)
  2. Pumpkin Spice Lattes
  3. Free Refills
  4. Pedestrians having the right-of-way
  5. Free condiments at fast food joints
  6. Being able to hold random conversations with people in lines at grocery stores
  7. Cheez-its
  8. Being able to eavesdrop
  9. Mellow Mushroom
  10. Driving
  11. Reese's Pieces
  12. Coupons and bargain shopping
  13. Root Beer
  14. Ginger Ale
  15. Dr. Pepper (Although you can buy this here, it's just much much more expensive and rare)
  16. Peanut Butter (You can also buy this here, but it is also more expensive)
  17. Free plastic bags at grocery stores
  18. Cashiers not getting frustrated if you don't have the correct amount of change
  19. Zaxby's
  20. Being able to smile in public
  21. Thrift stores
  22. Air conditioning
  23. Triscuits
  24. Barbeque sauce (more specifically:  Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque Sauce)
  25. Hulu
  26. Netflix
  27. Ordering things online
  28. Traffic laws (or the relative obedience of them)
  29. Urinating in public is frowned upon
  30. A lengthy Autumn (at least as far as Georgia is concerned)