Sunday, January 31, 2010

Joel Alme

Joel Alme is one of the most amazing musicians I've heard in a long time. I feel like I'm always on this music binge, always downloading something. But this one made me stop and listen on repeat. This guy is so talented. Look him up!

I'm calling it, Joel Alme's "Waiting for the Bells" is the best new album of 2010.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

OK Go will never stop being fun to listen to.

And it's unwritten law that they must always make great music videos.

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.

Today I walked to work under a sky of bright oranges and deep amber gold.
Today is a good day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Looking Into the Past: Thomas Circle, Washington, DC

Birthdays are always just so underwhelming for me. I guess I just don't really care about it. Ha, I mean it didn't even register to me that my birthday was coming up until last Friday.


That's weird. It doesn't feel like I'm twenty. I've officially left behind my teen years. I don't know if I'll ever fully grasp that, but then again I'm only a few hours in to "adulthood".

Someone phrased it today like this: "you're half of forty now!"
That's even weirder to think about.

This birthday has forced me to look back. I mean I am entering my 20s. That's scary to me. I can't just make promises to myself of things I'll do someday, dreams I'm sure I'll achieve, places I'll somehow end up in...I have to start being that change. And its daunting.
A 19 year old can dream, and let those dreams envelop his inner-most passions and desires. But a 20 year old must act on those passions. He must channel those dreams into motivation.
It's one of my greatest weaknesses, I feel. It's so easy to say and think these things, but it's an even greater challenge to act.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Nothing can touch me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Her eyes scanned the metallic door frames for a reason to turn back.
The spring-back woosh the doors make when someone walks in front of them cloud her mind from further thought. Suitcase in tow, she blindly goes where so many have gone before.

The illuminated flight numbers leave light shadows under her eyes. What would set her apart? How would she change anything?

The PA murmurs a flight change that echos against every wall in the terminal. It finds its way back to her ears and her eyes flicker with hopeful anticipation. The echo never seems to end as it dissolves into the masses of travelers.
Looking past the masses, a slow but steady best foot forward, she is taken aback by movement. She reels in her insecurities with the snap of the suitcase handle and lets the moving track take her to her destination.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


What makes war photography so beautiful is its ability to freeze a moment in time forever. "Well isn't that what a picture is anyways?" you may ask. It is. But with war photography, I've found that there is a certain peace in the ability to stop one particular moment in war. It's an ability to look at this moment with discerning human eyes. I've never been in the midst of war, but from what I've seen, you're not exactly given time to stop and process the inhumanity, or as some would argue, the humanity, of it all.

It is our duty to see pictures like these, to know the plights of our fellow human beings in different parts of the world. This photography inspires, and brings about change in the world.
War photography lets us take these dramatic/traumatic moments in time and analyze them in stillness. Whether they are viewed from a grainy computer screen, a print newspaper, or in a studio gallery, this isolation of time and space sharply contrasts the tragedies of war with our mundane lives. Figuratively, it stops the war for a short moment. Beauty can be found in this peace.
It's not tragedy for the sake of beauty, it's finding beauty in the tragedy.

Photo by Jehad Nga

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Buck up – never say die. We’ll get along.

I found an old review I wrote back in high school of Modern Times. I used to write an essay for every single movie I saw back in high school, just for the fun of it. I kind of miss doing it honestly. But I don't know if I would have the time (or will power) to do it now.
I just love Chaplin. He truly is one of my greatest inspirations. I'd even go as far to say he's my hero (corny, I know). Over the last couple weeks, I've watched Modern Times two times (once over the break and once in a class), and each time I found something new I wanted to write about. So here's a throwback, I wrote a new essay on the movie, as inspired by my old high school review. I'm only posting this for posterity...I don't expect anyone to read it.

In the wake of a sound revolution in Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin was hard-pressed to drop his traditional silent act of the “little tramp”. From the character’s debut in the 1914 Keystone short Kid Auto Races at Venice up to The Great Dictator in 1940, Chaplin made biting satire and physical comedy a benchmark of his silent cinema. With there being no language barrier, Chaplin was seen across the world. So when sound came around, it’s easy to see why he was so hesitant to completely give himself over to making a full “talkie”. In making Modern Times, he even went so far as to film an entire scene with dialogue between characters only to decide he only wanted to make a partial talkie. By the film’s 1936 release, sound had been used in films for nearly a decade. Chaplin took a great risk in testing the relevancy of his silent persona. Later on in his career, well after Chaplin’s “little tramp” years, he said, “I was wrong to kill him. There was room for the Little Man in the atomic age. Modern Times ended up becoming one of Chaplin’s most beloved films.

The reason why Modern Times works so well is because the character of the tramp is such a timeless character. He easily fits into just about any time period of culture you set him in. The Tramp represents the oblivious bewilderment of an ever-changing society as well as those left in its unforgiving wake. Chaplin fine tunes this character as he sets him against an industrial man vs. machine society, radical political revolution, urban poverty, and other issues of the day. All this can be found wrapped in a light-hearted comedy. Chaplin always jumped on the opportunity to push serious issues of the day into a light where they could be laughed at and made manageable – this is his greatest accomplishment as a comedian and filmmaker.

Modern Times explores many social and technological changes and their effects on mankind. Many times in the film, we see characters reactions and behaviors towards this new foreign industrial society. Man is slowly becoming machine, and those who refuse to let this happen are usually in between jobs and living in poverty (the gamin). These psychological issues are often explored in Chaplin films. Chaplin dealt with psychological issues from a young age. In his teenage years, Chaplin’s mother suffered from mental illness and was in and out of mental hospitals. Chaplin explores similar issues in Modern Times. He takes on the idea of "bucking up". I think it would be safe to say that Chaplin would be of the belief that you can find humor or entertainment in just about any experience, whether it be good or bad. It's a very admirable notion set in a time when many were still living Great Depression-era lifestyles.
I find it fascinating how often we witness characters breaking down. No matter their role in the film, they are effected by this unforgiving man vs. machine society. The antagonist, a big burly man the Tramp worked with in the factory makes another appearance in the film when he and few other men break in to the department store the Tramp is working in. He breaks down crying claiming he is hungry, only looking for some food. The Gamin has moments of despair living in poverty throughout the film but has her big break down at the end after she and the Tramp have fled from the police. All throughout, Chaplin’s Tramp gives reassurance to the characters, and the audience. He leans over to her and says, “Buck up – never say die. We’ll get along.” She glances over at a grinning Chaplin and manages to pull out a smile from beneath the tears.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


My mood could best be described as...

I think it's absolutely wonderful that we have the ability to take such great joy in such small details. I could be having the worst day ever but I can still revel in the beauty that is Ella Fitzgerald's voice. Seriously, listen to that woman sing and tell me everything isn't going to turn out well?
Life is neither good nor bad. It's only how we perceive it on a moment to moment basis.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wake Up

Melancholy is waking up numb to the world.
Beauty is almost immediately falling in love with it again.

God is good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heaven Help Us All

I am so much like the Nephites it scares me.

I so easily forget the works of God in my life. I recognize and appreciate them at first, inspired by this revelation from God. But then just as quickly, I am swayed to questioning even His existence. Then God makes himself known once more and I am repentant. Then I deny him again.

The process repeats itself over and over.

I will say that I take comfort in the fact that I know I am not perfect, I am human, I sin. But it still amazes me at just how unappreciative I can be sometimes, how easily I forget the beauty and truth.

one of my favorite live videos of Mr. Charles

Oh, and I'm going to try this new thing where I change my blog header picture almost every time I post a new blog. So right now, I'm using a picture of my wife from another life, Paulette Goddard.

Patience is a Virtue

I feel like I have 200 things I want to say, but I can only say a few of them.
I feel like I feel that way a lot.

I have all this stuff bottled up, all of these things that I would absolutely LOVE to be outspoken about but "common sense" and "patience" tell me otherwise. See, I have this way of thinking and communicating where I just want to let everyone in on my "secret" passions and desires. I guess I just trust everyone. Everyone is worthy to hear about them. Not saying you'd particularly want to...
But do you ever have times like that? Because not only do I feel like that all of the time, I also feel like no one else experiences this. Which obviously, is false, but it feels that way.
I feel like I give too much of myself to people sometimes. Maybe it would mean more if I stretched it out over time? I don't know.

All of my classes are going well. An online gen ed (Diseases and the Systems They Affect), Cinema Studies (US), Arabic, Single Cam, and a stupid math class.
The only two I'm actually excited about are Cinema Studies and Arabic. Arabic, because I can't wait to learn more, and the teacher isn't too bad to look at. She's this cute Tunisian with this amazing passion to teach us all. Maybe I can get some...EXTRA credit yeah? yeah????
Anyways, Cinema Studies will be good because we're writing papers about the movies we watch, like all the other cinema studies courses I've taken. So that's fun.

I'm just looking forward to this semester to be over. I'm sure it will be fun, and I'll get a lot out of it. But really, if April was here already, I wouldn't be upset.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Donate. But most of all, Pray.

I'm writing in reverse.

I've been listening to Spoon's new stuff like crazy.
It makes me want to see them live again. Seriously, live...they are...SO GOOD. They get so into the music and play these on-the-spot freestyles tagged on to the end of songs. They played close to a 10 minute version of Black Like Me when I saw them a year and half back, which was like a dream come true.

I love this song. Everything about it.


I feel so grownup. I wake up at 7:30am everyday, down a glass of OJ.
Get to work and deal with a lot of ignorant people who know nothing about computers. Oh by the way, did I mention that I too, know almost nothing about computers? ...Or so it seems, because I never know how to answer their questions.

Monday, January 11, 2010

So you say you want a revolution?

Watching Steven Soderbergh's two part 4 hour 8 minute epic is a brilliant portrait of a very flawed man. Che is more a romantic interpretation, yet it holds true to facts and events over the extensive "revolution" brought on by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
I think it goes without saying that his philosophy is very flawed and was destined to have him assassinated by his enemies. But what is so attractive about telling Che's story is his passion and firmness in his belief. Replace communism with any other political ideology and it would not have changed our view of Che. It's impossible not to root for him all throughout the film (even if we know the context). I found his charisma and zealousness inspiring, it's no wonder he recruited so many to his cause.
But his philosophy is his demise.

When asked if he believes in God, his responds that he "believes in mankind". His "faith in mankind" sounds inspiring but is a utopia that could never exist. He believes all mankind will adapt to his passion. And in most cases, they do. They are inspired, caught up in revolution, fighting against "injustices". But if the people are not with him, then he is basically nothing. After all, he believes the only way to bring about radical change in government policy is by force. This goes against everything Che preaches, this "faith in mankind". If his coup works, does he assume this new found power will never go to the head of another man in politics again? That is inevitable. Man will always find himself power hungry in that position. That's the way politics go. It's a vicious cycle.
The "peasants" who lived in the Bolivian countryside had no desire to stray from their meager lifestyles. They are so isolated from everything that they know not of the injustices Guevara speaks of. Che's message proves invalid and instead of creating a revolution in the heart of Latin America, he ran in circles away from Bolivia's prudent military forces.
Che realizes this as he speaks with a Bolivian soldier the night of his capture. The two converse very informally and it looks as if Che will be able to talk himself out of captivity. But the soldier eventually turns a back to his friendliness and follows orders to guard.
Faith in mankind can be fleeting at times.

I think our society vilifies him far too often. He was by no means a good person, but he had morals. He is known to have killed many men, most in battle and "traitors" to the cause. This is where most will point to when trying to defame him. But we have no room to talk. Our government kills innocent foreigners just about every day in Afghanistan. As a God-fearing democracy, we carry out just as many top secret assassinations as those "corrupt" political ideologies do. We must not also forget that Che's cause was very admirable at root. He surely went about it in all the wrong ways. But at heart he was a humanitarian. It's a shame he resorted to picking up a gun for his cause. That is where he went wrong.

I will say, I was very inspired by Che's message of helping the less fortunate. Sure he let the ideology go to his head. But the initial care he has for each new person he meets is stirring. He truly could have become a brilliant humanitarian if he had wanted to. You can see this side of Che in the 2004 film, The Motorcycle Diaries. Here is a young Che, uninfluenced by ideas of forceful revolution, a man of the people; believing that the road to change is through individuals. There is a peace that can be found once you accept this.

I want to do more for the individual.
Right here, right now, I am making a promise to myself:
I feel called to offer myself to others more often. I've never gotten too involved with local charities because I've had this view of helping less fortunate people worse off than those in the U.S. But there is still a lot of work, a lot of love to spread to the less fortunate locally. This semester I will set my sights more on "local".

Yep. Done.

My life is complete.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Life from Above

Clouds float above
Their weightlessness weighs heavy against my mind
on a cold winter morning.

They see
and beauty.

So much they have witnessed
So freely they float on

The wind carries them from sight to sight
They are always present, floating above these moments
Like nothing matters
Like humanity will push on
Through the ages of time

So much they have witnessed
So freely they float on


I feel like I talk about things on a grand/worldly scale quite often.

But I find it fascinating that I am still so easily able to feel amazement or surprise at just how big and intricate our world is. My mind can't wrap itself around it. To think of all the moments that are taking place right now

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


You ever have those moments where everything kind of comes together and you just feel this "purpose"? I feel like everything is in line. I have a purpose in this life. I know what I have to do. And I am excited about taking it all on, the good and the bad.
It's exciting.

By the way, Basia Bulat has basically been singing the soundtrack to my life recently...

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Originally uploaded by Spencer Finnley
For the first time
in my life,

My mind is no longer a swirl of questions without answers.

That's not to say I have all of the answers.
But I am content with knowing that I am not all-knowing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Photo Retrospective

New Years Resolution 2010: Don't look so pissed off in Photobooth pictures.