Sunday, August 31, 2008

...and it's done (almost)

julie & i chose to take labor day to an extreme this year. we moved over labor day weekend from our apartment into a house! we're excited about it, and our cats seem to like it too. panini and squigs (our 2 cats) are finding great joy while playing with their new toy, the stairs. they haven't lived in a place with those before.

it's sunday night as i type this, and all of our stuff is in our new place after 8 crazy hours of moving on saturday. we've made some good headway in a few of the rooms, but we still have cardboard boxes a' plenty with stuff in them. ah, the joy of moving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympics Fever!

I have loved watching the 2008 Olympiad. I always look forward to the games and the sheer athleticism of the competition. But this year I have noticed something that I hadn't in prior games. The tone of this year's games seems to contain a subtle arrogance and elitism of the U.S.A.'s supposed superiority. I've felt this through the commentary and have quite frankly been embarassed at times at the some of the things that have been said to fill time. (During one synchronized diving performance, Bob Costas said, "it's best if the synchronized divers practice together", during the opening games both Matt Lauer and Bob said many times "Now to the Chinese it's quite obvious that this symbol means harmony," "Now to the Chinese it's apparent that...") Thanks Bob and Matt for your accurate reading of the script furnished by the Chinese. But more than the annoying commentating, what I've been most frustrated with is the hype around Michael Phelps, Nastia Lukin and Dana Torres... Don't get me wrong, I know they work hard in what they do and are extremely talented. But what gets me, is the lack of the obvious that ALL of the athletes have trained hard to get here. ALL of the athletes have spent countless hours going over their routines, ALL of the athletes have nerves about this momentous occasion, ALL of the athletes would like to win a gold medal. I feel as if we assume that we are entitled to the bronze and silver and certainly the gold medal simply because we are the U.S.A. In my opinion, there are always winners and losers and sometimes we will be the winners and sometimes we will be the losers. Sometimes we won't get a medal. Sometimes we will get 12 medals. Regardless, everyone who makes it to that level is entitled to an equal chance at standing on a podium and hearing their national anthem. And sometimes, we won't be the ones who get to stand on a podium. Sometimes we are off in our game, sometimes we slip, sometimes we fall, but just as we celebrate when we succeed, we also should admit that someone else was on their game, they didn't fall, and we weren't as good. Again, don't get me wrong that I enjoyed Michael Phelps breaking record after record, but I also enjoyed (possibly more) watching the lesser hyped athletes win their first (and possibly only) medal. Their victory seemed just a little sweeter, a little more genuine, a little more real.

So as the games are nearing to a close, I celebrate the medals that the U.S.A. won and I celebrate the medals that the other countries won as well. I will wish that those countries who only had a handful of athletes will have increased the ratio of athletes to medals. I will hope that those who didn't get a medal will cherish the experience and be celebrated upon return as if they did.

I will look forward to the next Olympiad and hope that the commentators will recognize the dedication and hard work that each and every athlete possess in order to get to this level.

And as a side note, I will never need to see G.W. oggling the women's volleyball team again.

i've heard there was a secret chord

i came across this blog on NPR's website about the song "Hallelujah". the NPR blog (here's the link) has some youtube videos of various artists performing it. the song was originally written & performed by Leonard Cohen, and made famous by Jeff Buckley on his album Grace. i had forgotten how moving this song is. if you haven't heard it, you need to. you could consider it a modern hymn, especially with it's many biblical references. i won't go too much more into it, especially since the comments in the NPR blog cover what i would want to mention anyway...and then some. all that i ask of you is to take a few minutes, shut the door to whatever room you're in to block out all distractions, and listen to this song with your eyes closed. sometimes that's the only real way to connect with music...especially a song like this one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life List

So the idea for this list came both from the movie "The Bucket List" with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, but also from a friend's blog. I prefer to call it the Life List for now, because writing a bucket list seems as if it could be so far away (not that I can predict the time in which I will pass). So here is my list so far:

(in no particular order)
- become fluent in French (been close, been far, now starting to get close again)
- visit all 50 states with Brian
- live in France for 3+ months
- regularly take dance classes (especially ballet - and build enough strength to dance pointe)
- have enough money to make it mandatory (and convenient) for apartment complexes to have a recycling program
- own the Monet painting called "The Flood" - not the one that is common, the one he painted after his mistress died (it was owned by Gustav Rau and was part of the Rau Collection and then he passed it on to UNICEF in Germany for one of their auctions)
-dispel racism when it crosses my path
- teach my children about the pain of racism
- spend an entire day at the Louvre
- start a compost pile
- live in an entirely "green" house
- visit South Korea with Brian
- adopt 1+ child and birth 1+ child

That's enough for now. I'll share more later!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm Famous!

But probably only for about 15 seconds. I've been attending a career networking group in my efforts to land a gig in the music industry for the past several months. A couple weeks ago some people from the Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper, came to interview some folks at this group. I was one of the lucky ones. The article appeared over the weekend, and I'm even the focus of the main picture. Funny, how even in today's culture of Facebook, Myspace & the like I still feel special having my picture in the newspaper.

Monday, August 4, 2008

the tower of...

maybe i get too emotionally attached to certain movies, but i just finished watching one that is causing some deep thoughts.

i just watched "Babel", staring brad pitt (amongst others). it's the story of loneliness, of connection, and of simply being human. there's one scene in particular that stands out for me. brad pitt's on-screen wife was shot by random gunfire while they are in calcutta. one of the locals extends his help as he assists them in taking them to his village to find a doctor & help in any way he can. it's a picture of what we americans would think of as destitute. dirt floors, ramshackle housing and the like. but for this culture it's normal & nothing to be ashamed of. as brad's wife, a little later, is about to be taken away via helicopter by the u.s. embassy, brad offers money in appreciation to his friend. he turns it down. not because he didn't need it, but because (i think) he didn't want to turn what he just did out of friendship into something as meaningless as a commodity. something that can simply be bought, sold or traded. this was far deeper than that.

and it struck me. this is what it means to be human. willingly extending your resources, no matter how limited, to to someone else without asking for something in return.

another part of the plot happens in japan. there is a daughter of a wealthy businessman who is struggling with loneliness, and simply trying to connect & find meaning in the wake of her mother's suicide. the movie ends with her embracing her dad on the balcony of their (at least) 30 story penthouse. as they hug, the camera pans away, revealing more and more of the city skyline. the blinking lights of immense skyscrapers, the hum of a major metropolitan city. it made me think of how easy it is it get lost in the whirling sea of humanity around us, and how it is so easy to feel alone in the middle of a crowd. which is exactly what happened to her earlier in the movie. it was interesting how that came to mind as the camera stopped focusing only on the father & daughter and moved out to more & more of the city.

it also makes me think, how do we find meaning & truth in our own lives in the midst of 300 billion+ people on this planet. my only answer is you need to focus on the community around you and be human to them.

this is a movie that wonderfully displays how connected our planet really is. it involved 4 different cultures. mexican, mideastern, american and asian. it doesn't take a whole lot of further thought to realize how they came up with the name for the movie, "Babel".

the times, they are a changin'

it's still a shock to me how quick time can go. it dawned upon me that it's been a bit since we posted anything here. so, i thought i could at least give an update on what's been going on in the life of Brian & Julie.

one of the biggest fun new developments is we now know where we're living next month. our lease on our current apartment ends August 30. we could have renewed our lease, but we decided we needed a place with more space. it looks like we've found that in a house not too far from where we are now. it's a rental...and in great shape. it has 1600 square feet of joy with a deck, a yard, & all the fixins'. yes, that was a bit a bit southern. but we're definitely excited about this place...especially since it's not too much more than what we're paying now for our 1000 square foot apartment.

right now, though, julie is in her home state of arizona enjoying some time with her family. they're renting a houseboat for a week and cruising along Lake Powell, which is near the border of arizona & utah. it's a much needed escape for her. she's had to deal with a lot of issues at work recently, and my only hope is that she comes back recharged & refreshed. why is brian not there, you may ask? simple. my employer would not grant me the time off to go.

so, as an antidote for missing my wife, i went on a bit of a shopping spree this weekend & purchased a bunch of wonderful new music. i love what i've heard of it so far.

1) R.L. Burnside - "Come On In"
2) The Avalanches - "Since I Left You"
3) Cadence Weapon - "Afterparty Babies"
4) She Wants Revenge - (self-titled)
5) The Appleseed Cast - "Two Conversations"
6) The Forms - "T.B.D."
7) Jimmy Smith - "Root Down (Live)"
8) Over the Rhine - "Ohio"

some of these purchases were steps in expanding my musical horizons. namely Jimmy Smith (jazz), R.L. Burnside (blues) and Over the Rhine (americana/bluegrass).

thanks for tuning in for another episode.

P.S> an imaginary gold star to the 1st person who comments with the name of the artist, album and year for the song referenced in the title. it shouldn't be too difficult.