Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unoriginal Thought

I just came home from the craft store. Something there really surprised me. Many of the items for sale seemed to be creativity inhibitors rather than the pathways to creative expression that I expected to see. This wasn't my first time in a craft store but it was the first time that I realized that I was surrounded by the shallow and empty shells of unoriginal thought.

So many items in the craft store are sold with elaborate instructions that lead us to a predetermined end result. This process is no different than combining the components of a "some assembly required" item from a regular store. The final product is the creative child of another mind.

I'm not opposed to the idea of doing something that has already been done before. I work in a bakery and we make bread the same way every single day. There is a time and a place to do what is tried and proven. I also realize that (even [maybe especially] in the creative arts) a skeletal structure of proper theory and technique is needed in order to reach true expression. Creativity is not anarchy.

I guess that my complaint (if it is one) is that this craft store was selling a large number of products that did not lead to the use of creativity nor did they teach principles that would lead to the ability to do so.

There you go.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

my ghosts of christmas present

For some reason I have been reading the collected ghost stories of M.R. James.

Yes, I know that it is the Christmas season. I haven't forgotten or overlooked that. In fact, I feel more excited about the holidays than I normally am. I haven't been neglecting the spirit of Christmas and I have been carrying out all of my traditions and even founding some new ones. The excitement and majesty of the season fills my soul. I am, however and paradoxically, also feeling a fascination for the supernatural and scary.

M.R. James wrote ghost stories and he did so long before the advent of Hollywood style terror. Many of his stories are centered around the strange powers held in ancient texts and architecture. They are short, unsettling and inconclusive. He exposes his readers to a short series of bizarre events and then never really explains why they occurred. He gives enough hints to make the reader imagine a more complex and frightening back story than he could possibly create himself. I especially enjoyed "Cannon Alberic's Scrap-book" and "The Mezzotint".

Along those same lines -
"Daniel" by Bat for Lashes. I have always loved this song. It is atmospheric, eerie and danceable. It makes me feel like I am walking through a misty forest in the half-light. I recently watched the video for the first time and was terrified and intrigued by the black dancing balloon-animal people. They are really cool and weird. Also, I think that Natasha Khan is really pretty.

As an interesting side note; I guess that Daniel is the kid from Karate Kid. And.....wait for it..... you can change the color of the playback bar of youtube videos. Yes! I chose red.

Friday, December 17, 2010

take me over

Do you like to be happy? Do you like to dance? Do you like to laugh at yourself because you can't remember the last time you had so much fun?? Do you like Fleetwood Mac?
Cut Copy.

This song is from their new album "Zonoscope" which is due to arrive this February. It can't come fast enough.

Don't overlook the album art. I love it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Giving Tree

Spike Jonze just made a short film called "I'm Here". A great friend told me about it and I have watched it several times and absolutely love it. Spike Jonze has a way of making situations and gestures communicate more than words could. In his films a facial expression, movement of the hand, silent glance, etc. can mean more than an long and complicated conversation. Very few directors or artists are able to this so well.

I don't know how proficient I am at non-verbal communication. The more I think about it the more I think that I am terrible at it. It's a skill that I wish I had but that I don't know how to go about developing.

I recommend "I'm Here" to anyone and everyone. It is a love story about two robots and it is all about how love is the giving of one's self to another person. In the film this happens quite literally. It is both heartbreaking and hearthealing.

It reminds me of the Shel Silverstein classic "The Giving Tree". This has always been one of my favorite picture books. The Giving Tree gives of herself until she is reduced to nothing but a stump. Her love for the boy that she watched grow into a man is much stronger than any sense of loss or feeling of self-pity that she could have had.

In my mind, her great sacrifice seems to be undervalued by the boy. He loved her as a boy but as he grows he starts to love other things more than her. Her love was put to the test by his constant absence. He only came to see her when he needed something. Time and time again he showed up and took something from her that she gladly gave. True love is giving without expecting or even wanting anything in return. The happiness of the boy she loved was the Giving Tree's only concern and it meant more to her than her fruit,branches, or trunk. It meant more to her than her self.

In "I'm Here" Sheldon valued the one he loved more than his physical person. There is one scene in particular that is extremely powerful to me. Sheldon is offering to make a large sacrifice to help his girlfriend and she does not want to accept his help. He gives the simple details of a dream that he had and shows her that his happiness depends on her acceptance of his offering. I can't really express why it is so potent and incredible. It just is.

Watch "I'm Here". You won't regret it.

This is the official website but it is soooo slow that I can't watch it there. You can also find it on youtube.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

tied for first

I have been browsing google image pictures of foxes for over an hour. I know that I should be doing other things but I really don't want to. This seems like the most important thing right now. The only problem is that about 75% of the pictures on google image searches for "fox" are gross pictures of gross Megan Fox. It helps to type 'fox animal'.

I really love foxes. If I were an animal I would be a fox. They have the perfect balance of soft beauty and toughness. Their spirit shines. They adapt to the seasons, changing their coats with the ease of my changing a shirt. They have grace and they fill me with wonder.

Foxes and giraffes are tied for first as my favorite animal.

oh, yeah, and Fantastic Mr. Fox is my favorite movie of all time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hilli (at the top of the world)

Icelandic quartet Amiina borrowed the amazing vocal talents of Lee Hazlewood for this song. He died three weeks later. It was the last recording that he ever did. I can't think of a better parting gift that he could have left the world.

At the top of the world there's an island
A place where the sun never shines
But the people don't care because the snow over there
Is so bright, they nearly go blind

They live at the foot of a mountain
Where the flowers last hardly a day
But they live off the land and lend each other a hand
On this island where night is their day

They'd punish me if I dare tell you
And if I ask them, they'd say they don't know
But what keeps them healthy even though they are not wealthy
On this magical island, is snow

The flakes as they fall look like candy
And the children rush out when it snows, for a treat
When they open their mouths and gulp down the flakes
Because nothing on earth tastes so sweet

But then one dark day, smoke blew in their way
And the temperatures got higher
On the horizon they saw fire and the waters did rise
And the snow started melting away

And the people weren't tearful, nor fearful or scared
Because the secret was out there
At last, the secret was shared

They watched as the ice turned to water
And streamed down into the sea
And lit up the ocean and crept in slow-motion
Through the world they never did see

And people in lands around the planet were in shock
As the light came to shore and lit up the beaches
And even their teachers couldn't say what the bright light was for

It flowed upstream through the mountains
Burst out through their fountains
Breaking all life's natural laws
Till they lit up the planet and all who lived on it
Were touched by this magical force

And they looked all around at the sky and at the ground
And they realized what they had been seeing then
As they started to cry their tears filled the sky
And the black storm clouds gathered above

And then the heavens opened
And the rains came to show them
That their world needs a little more love

At the top of the world there's an island
A place where the sun never shines
But the people don't care because the snow over there
Is so bright, the sun's in their mind

Friday, December 3, 2010

Palace of Dreams

Ikea. I recently went there for the first time and I love it. It is a palace of dreams.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Go Live Already!!

I can't describe the way that I am feeling right now. I ordered the live DVD/CD of Jónsi's amazing concert "Go Live". It is one of the greatest works of art that I have encountered in my life. I have been watching it, re-watching it, listening to it with my eyes closed, remembering it, feeling it, ...

His concert was (and is still) powerful, magnificent, chilling, warming, touching, moving and alive. I saw him play live twice and on each occasion I found myself overwhelmed with emotions of every possible flavor. It felt like my soul was a dusty and lonely amphitheater that had been suddenly and unexpectedly filled with a colorful and lively crowd. The crowd coursed and flowed through the neglected structure like blood through veins, restoring its sparkle and giving it a newness of life.

Jónsi is a person who bares the very core his being to the world. People like this are rare and beautiful. It is a risky thing to do. When a person gives other people access to their soul they become vulnerable to attack and rejection. But they also open up the possibility of pure and unfiltered emotional and spiritual expression and connection to others.

I think that the soul is the essence of a person. Souls can mingle. They can dance.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lake Faces

I haven't used Photoshop in years. All that I really wanted to do here was relearn layers and transparencies. It seemed like a nice way to pass a snowy Sunday afternoon. I took pieces from some photos I took in Africa and I ended up with this.

I uploaded this in a very large size. Click on it to see a more detailed image.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for so so many things today and everyday. Our lives are filled with beauty if we choose to seek it and to see it.

I am thankful for beauty. I think that all of my gratitude can be wrapped up in that single sentence. Beauty has so many different ways of manifesting itself. There is beauty in thought, expression and emotion. There is beauty in things constant and things changing. Beauty shines within and throughout our interactions and relationships with others (no matter how clumsy those relationships may be).

Lately I have realized that there are many things that are distracting me from fully participating in the beauty of life. I am thankful for this realization because it has allowed me to break free from some of these snares.

I think that true beauty has the power to bring about our true selves. When we seek it out and absorb it into ourselves we end up finding out who we are and why we are.

This man's music is absolutely beautiful. His band is called "Message to Bears" and it is ambient, instrumental and captivating. A lot of ambient music is very underwhelming and difficult to listen to but this is not. It is really special and I wish that more people knew about it.
Thank you Jerome Alexander.

Listen Here:

Download Here:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forever & Ever, Amen

Wow, I really can't get enough of this song lately. I find it intensely satisfying to sing along to this at an inappropriately high volume.

Witching Hour

The "Blizzard of 2010" was supposed to be wild. I was hearing rumors of 70mph winds and 18 inches of snow in the valley. The news reports recommended that I stay indoors. I chose not to comply.
This so-called blizzard turned out to be nothing more than a mild snowstorm. Everyone else seemed to have listened carefully to the warnings of danger because there wasn't another soul to be found on the streets. I felt like I had been inserted into a post-apocalyptic world. The snow was falling lightly like sticky clusters of ash. The earth and sky were both the same color of whitish grey and blended together so well that I couldn't find the horizon line. I was the only thing that seemed to not belong in this world of the dead. My bright red coat was an insult to the somber and uniform feeling put off by my surroundings. As I walked my footprints faded behind me underneath new-fallen snow. I felt as if my link back to the world of the living was slowly being severed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flying Pictures

I have good memories of the ad section in National Geographic. It was visually interesting to me as a child. The ads depicted larger-than-life people and a world to which I was a total stranger. I have a vivid memory of an attractive motherly figure with bright red lips holding up a finger in warning. I forget what the warning was. Perhaps I was being warned to never forget to buy the product being advertised. I forgot. But I will never forget that picture.

Newer issues of National Geo have totally lost and forgotten this magical space. The new ad section is larger and filled with ads about car insurance, cholesterol medicine, "rare" gold coins offered only for a "limited time" (haha), etc. National Geo realizes that everyone hates it so they are forced to insert interesting mini articles and pictures in between the ads so that people won't skip the section entirely. I usually choose to skip it anyways.

This month was different. I looked through it. I am very glad that I did because I came across something really wonderful.

This photographer can fly. After framing his picture he jumps and he flies for 1/125 of a second. His camera preserves the memory of this beautiful fraction of a second forever. These moments actually happened. They are captured with analog technology and unaltered with digital technology. Much effort went into the planning and preparation of each of these photographs and much pain and injury were the results of his inevitable descent after each shot (each picture took many, many attempts). All of this for 1/125 of a second. Daniel Gordon can very briefly accomplish the impossible.

I think that some of the best things in life are like this micromoment. So much sweat and so many tears go into making them happen. So much suffering is felt when there are no longer a part of our reality. But, in the end, you were in that perfect and beautiful moment and that's what matters. You. were. there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leaves of Trees

Night and darkness have been coming more quickly. I have decided that I need to pack more life into the limited amount of daylight that I am allotted.

Today I constructed a giant pile of leaves. My pile was perfect for jumping, burrowing, tunneling, hiding and pretending. Laying on my back, covered with a thin veil of leaves, I began to imagine myself inside the burning sun. The daylight was pushing the reds, yellows, browns and oranges of the leaves through my closed eyelids. I couldn't make out their shapes but I could sense their individuality and essence. I could smell them. As I quickly threw myself into a sitting position and opened my eyes I found myself surrounded and by a beautiful torrent of amber and bronze.

Music of the Day!
Iron & Wine - Southern Anthem
Bob Dylan - Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You

Monday, November 15, 2010

Janelle Monáe

I would like to showcase a musician that I believe is highly underrated - Janelle Monáe. This female R&B/Soul/Slow Jam artist is really something special.

Her new album "The ArchAndroid" is one of my favorite albums of the year. Many albums contain a story or at least have a particular flavor, but this album goes beyond that. It is a feature film projecting its image onto the screen of your imagination. Janelle has even described it as being an "emotion picture". It is best experienced all at once and preferably with your eyes closed as you relax on your carpet.

She molds and shapes music that breaks the barriers of genre and conventional songwriting. Her music manages to be modern and fresh while allowing me to reconnect and commune with legendary artists of the past like Anita Baker, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. She borrows some dance steps from the legendary James Brown and mixes them with her own moves. I think that Michael Jackson would have loved her.

She received formal training in acting at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and intended to work Broadway before changing her direction towards music production. She is a dancer, an actor, a singer, a songwriter and a very classy woman.

Janelle is a beautiful and modest person. She is usually dressed in classic uniforms and suits that cover her body. I love that she doesn't rely on her body to promote or sell her music. She has grace and respect for herself and those around her. Janelle Monáe is a hero of mine.

Check out her out.

Many Moons - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZyyORSHbaE&feature=channel
Tightrope - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwnefUaKCbc&feature=channel
Cold War - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqmORiHNtN4&feature=channel

Buy her music.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


In the book Xenocide, Ender Wiggin was able to create physical manifestations of the memories of his brother and sister with his mind. He carried such a strong image of these people with him that he was able to project these images and share his own life-force with them.

I have been thinking about this idea and at first it seemed very ridiculous to me. As I continued to consider it my way of thinking changed. I realized that, in a less impressive (yet more meaningful) way, we are able to give life to the memories of the people who have deeply affected us. We can give life and honor to the memories we hold inside us but we need to find an outlet or method of expression to do it.

When we allow our memories influence our actions or comportment we are effectively giving them form and life.

We are creators. He who created us also endowed us with the potential to create. There are many ways to create; music, art, writing, raising a child, etc. We can take a small part of our feelings and memories for the people we have known and put them into (or share them with - in the case of a child) our creations.

I think that this serves as a good example of what I am trying to say:
This song/video was a gift that this young man (POGO) gave to his mother on Mother's Day. He took sounds from her garden and harmonic syllables of her voice and combined them to form an image of her. After watching this I felt as if I partially understood his love for her and the portion of her soul that his art reveals to me.

If you like this the song it is a free download here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Be Not Ashamed

Today has been a beautiful day. I woke up, did yoga, sang/danced to Jonsi and I was late for my bus.

At first I was annoyed about missing my bus and worried about being late for class but as I transferred onto my second bus my bad attitude was quickly forgotten. There was a man on the bus who was talking to everyone. I wanted to read my book so I found my way to the back of the bus to avoid being distracted by his conversation. I tried to read but I found what the man
was saying to be of infinitely more worth than what I was reading.

He was speaking about Jesus Christ. What he was saying was disorganized and even slightly inaccurate but his words were laden with true power. He was preaching the love of Jesus Christ for all mankind and the power that God's Word has to improve our lives.

I found myself taking notes. Here are a couple things I wrote down:
"We need to stand up for the Lord and be not ashamed of him. Talk about him. Talk about him to everyone you see. Much of the goodness in the world has left because people aren't talking about Jesus. People aren't talking about Jesus enough. Tell people what he has done in your life. I might never see you again but we now share a bond in the Lord. It don't cost anything to talk about him."

"People might believe that you are crazy or insane but that don't carry no weight. If you show people what you really feel in your heart then you have nothing to be ashamed of. Those people who don't think you are crazy might take something from what you say and in either case the Lord will smile on your efforts and bless you for them".

I felt true belief coming out of this man. I felt his passion and I was deeply impressed by his lack of fear or embarrassment. I found myself getting off the bus with a burning heart and tears in my eyes. I took a moment to look at the faces of the people around him. We were all strangers yet we were all united through our smiles and wonder for this beautiful and slightly eccentric man.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Gift of Fire

I have been thinking a lot about government and politics and my duties as a citizen of a nation.
Richard Mitchell is incredible. This passage in his book "The Gift of Fire" really stood out to me and got me thinking.

Aristotle held, and Plato too, and many others,
that the highest and most important study to which
we could devote ourselves is the thoughtful
consideration of politics. An extraordinarily
dreary prospect for most of us, who suppose that it
is Politics that we see in action in election
campaigns, and in all the unseemly scramble for
office and power. But that is not at all what
ancient thinkers meant by the word. For them,
Politics, this time with the capital, was the study
of “polity,” the consideration of questions about
the art and nature of virtuous governing, and the
inquiry into the possibility of a just state. It was
not really about what we call the government,
except insofar as this or that government might
serve as an example, but about governing, and it
was not confined to considerations of the state and
its workings, but gave itself also to considering
the just governing of anything or anyone. It was
thus yet another way of self-knowledge, for the
self is, just as much as the state, a place, and even
a community, and it may, just like the state, be
governed well or ill.

It is hard to capture any one of his thoughts without copying entire chapters of his books because his ideas are so sprawling. I recommend "The Gift of Fire" to anyone who can read and can find a copy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


"Sans toi, les émotions d'aujourd'hui ne seraient que la peau morte des émotions d'autrefois." (Without you, today's emotions would be but the dead skin of past emotions) - Hipolito

When I can say this to someone I will know that I am truly in love.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


It's crazy how I judge a person's present actions without remembering how complex their lives are and without realizing that I don't understand their situation at all. I hate that about myself and I have started trying to remember that I can't see the whole equation of their life. If I can't see the entire equation then what gives me the right to complain about the answer?