a couple notes here:
10. the middle east - i want that you are always happy
i first got onto this band while walking out of crazy, stupid love (‘blood’ was playing from an older album). since then, i’ve noticed the same melancholic wishfulness in their music that first drew me to bon iver.
9. drake - take care
this is the first rap album i’ve listened to that sounds like king solomon in ecclesiastes when he points out the vanity of every facet of life. even though i hated drake at first, i have a lot of respect for his honesty (more so than other rappers), self-loving/loathing, and the way in which he places all those things into each song. here’s an insightful Grantland article on drake’s psyche.
8. cults - cults
thanks to travus white for the rec. good, solid, fun pop. it’s like the civil wars, but better, on speedcrack.
7. james blake - james blake
james blake’s covers are generally better than the original artist’s songs, and ‘limit to your love’ is case in point. glad to see him collaborating with bon iver on an independent track (HOOT, bro!)
6. tune-yards - w h o k i l l
i love tune-yards because i can’t figure out her music (hell, i didn’t even know she was a woman for like a month). ‘bizness’ and ‘powa’ are top tracks for me.
5. M83 - hurry up, we’re dreaming
M83 doesn’t feel the need to lyricize every song, and that is its primary strength.
4. jay-z & kanye west - watch the throne
jay-z and kanye aren’t even trying on this album, and it’s still gold (including the cover art).
3. the roots - undun
mainly because of sufjan’s influence in the final tracks/movements, but also because i’ve come to appreciate how they can adapt to nearly every genre of music. there’s a reason why Grantland called them ‘america’s band.’
2. the weeknd - house of balloons, thursday, echoes of silence
the younger, more self-indulgent and less self-conscious version of drake. i applaud abel’s voice, his focus on love over lust, and his ability to become huge by releasing his trilogy on the internet without a label.
1. bon iver - bon iver
this album has done more for me this year than any other. justin vernon breaks out of his icy cabin in for emma and explores broader themes with even less understandable lyrics that somehow evoke introspection and deep longing.
Click to check out James Blake and Bon Iver’s collaborative track, “Fall Creek Boys Choir”.
“If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.”
– Dave Ramsey
i just got a voicemail from my dad that made me cry, standing in the middle of a line to board a plane for albuquerque. it has been a terrible, or rather, terribly long day. i found myself super angry at the jelly-rolling lady in front of me, holding an A58 ticket while i had an A57. i pulled my phone out to check my missed calls. this is all he said:
‘love ya bud. can’t wait to see you and stacey in a few weeks. wish i called more often and left voicemails just saying that i love you. i’m so proud of you man. miss you.’
oh, i need to call him back.
summer’s here, and that means blockbusters galore. we all know that the yearly trend in film tends to save its best artwork for the fall and beginning of winter, but the economies of film also demand that some high-quality products be released during the warm days of malarkey and frivolity.
today’s friday fracas features this year’s top five summer films to eagerly anticipate.
5. captain america/thor/green lantern/x-men: first class - cram all these into one and we’ve got a good summer for superheroes. take your pick.
4. 30 minutes or less - ruben fleischer and jesse eisenberg (zombieland) teaming up again? toss danny mcbride into the mix and it’ll deliver some good action and laughs.
3. the tree of life - ah, a hopefully fulfilling period piece that also forays into the grandiose elements of nature. discusses a young boy’s ‘loss of innocence’, seemingly from a varied, enigmatic, child-like perspective. great cast, and terrence malick has established himself as a capable director.
2. cowboys and aliens - let’s be honest: who doesn’t want genres in film to collide? harrison ford making a comeback. daniel craig as the hero and ultimate man’s man. created by ‘Lost’ co-writer damon lindelof. it’s gonna be action-packed and weird and awesome.
1. harry potter and the deathly hallows, part 2 - awww yeahhhh. you either love it or you don’t. there’s no denying that the conclusion of this superb series, book and film, will not disappoint. granted, part one dragged on, but the final confrontation will happen, and all will end well. JULY 15
drop me a line with a few others i might have missed that you’re looking forward to seeing this summer.
looks like FX is bringing out another great, or at least relatively intriguing tv series (à la it’s always sunny, archer, and the league). wilfred, however, might prove to possess a few more of the redemptive qualities i like to look for.
the lead character, played by elijah wood, seems to be friendless and hopeless, crafting multiple suicide letters and trying to come up with the best way to execute himself. in the eleventh hour, his next-door neighbor arrives with a request to care for her dog, wilfred. the dog (supposedly unbeknownst to the rest of society and the owner) is actually quite humanlike (dressed in a dog outfit), having the ability to communicate, think rationally and use a urinal.
despite his reluctance, our protagonist develops an awkward friendship with the dog, whose dual human/canine nature provides a sense of purpose for e. wood, however trivial it may appear. the premise of the show piqued my curiosity in the way that it elucidates that subconscious need for ‘other’ - how we thrive and learn about ourselves within community, and conversely, how we wilt emotionally and spiritually without it.
‘wilfred’ promises to be offbeat and presumptively human - the kind of art that might teach better than most others. let’s see if it delivers, starting on june 23.
the second installment of the friday fracas falls on a good friday. i always feel a certain despair on this day, not because i don’t know how it concludes, but because i sense the gravity of the act - the mourning of heaven and earth. think about how distraught the disciples must have been, how confused the pharisees, how crushed the mother of Christ.
i think it necessary to spend today soaking in the weight of this moment - not just individually, but on a social, political, economic, and historical level. there isn’t a person who could argue with me that this event was the turning point of human history.
the name of Jesus Christ has been abused and misused for all kinds of reasons and agendas, and mainly because the intensive meaning of this day has gone unrecognized.
today’s good friday fracas lists the top five hymns that center around the cross and Christ’s substitutionary atonement. i chose hymns in particular because of the richness and depth of the lyrics within them. you can click on the links to see all the lyrics. ponder them; don’t take them lightly.
5. when i survey the wondrous cross - isaac watts/lowell mason - ‘see from his head, his hands his feet / sorrow and love flow mingled down / did e’er such love and sorrow meet / or thorns compose so rich a crown!’
4. Jesus paid it all - elvina m. hall - ‘for nothing good have i / whereby the grace to claim / i’ll wash my garments white / in the blood of calvary’s Lamb’
3. nothing but the blood - robert lowry - ‘this is all my hope and peace / nothing but the blood of Jesus / this is all my righteousness / nothing but the blood of Jesus’
2. how deep the father’s love for us - stuart townend - ‘behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders / ashamed, i hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers / it was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished / his dying breath has brought me life; i know that it is finished!’
1. there is a fountain filled with blood - william cowper - ‘there is a fountain filled with blood / drawn from Immanuel’s veins / and sinners, plunged beneath that flood / lose all their guilty stains’
beautiful. have a good friday.
my birthday is coming up. i’ve never been overly fond of celebrating my own birthday, as it attracts unwanted attention and doesn’t seem to warrant rejoicing over another year of my body’s decomposition. birthdays mean presents, but presents don’t excite me like they used to. often gifts become ‘things’ that are relegated to a corner of my closet. left unchecked, they tend to pile up and suffocate my joy.
i don’t hate gifts, whether giving or receiving. but i do hate materialism, and i know that my heart is as suspect to it as the next american. the quest to accumulate simply for the sake of consuming can become a driving force in one’s life.
Jesus owned only the clothes that he wore, and he told others to act similarly: ‘do not worry about what you will eat or drink or wear, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things’ and ‘don’t store up treasures for yourself here on earth’ (matthew 6).
i don’t need to rehash the statistics on world poverty - you can find those easily enough. but all it takes is a few bullet points to quickly realize that the level of affluence that even the middle class in america experiences is shockingly wealthy to the poorest of the poor in the world. i think Jesus, in light of his mandates to us to minister to the poor, would have his followers change our operative word from ‘acquire’ to ‘release’.
last year i discovered dave bruno’s 100 thing challenge, which is an excellent starting point to taking Jesus seriously and learning to live not only within our means, but even more minimalist. to start giving the clothes off our back and the extra trinkets we don’t need away, and developing a habit of self-discipline amidst affluence and learning joyful giving.
what follows is a list of all 100 items or less that i personally own, in the hopes that you’ll realize that this challenge is not only quite possible, but also an excellent starting point for fighting affluenza in your own life.
i can fit everything i own into our car, and that is a liberating feeling. minimalism is clean and rewarding, and it does make a statement to those around you, believe it or not.
click dave’s link above for clarification on how the rules of this challenge work. these don’t include items that stacey and i own jointly, just the ones that i own and use for myself.
1. cross necklaces (6) - not only do i wear them, but they also hang on my wall as art
2. memory boxes (3) - full of letters, ticket stubs, pictures, tangible love, etc.
3. undies (10) - can’t have too few of these around
4. socks (10) - same as above
5. library (100+) - self-improvement is always worth purchasing
6. undershirts (2)
7. electric razor
10. tennis racquet
14. Frank Lloyd Wright fountain pen
15. large suitcase
17. ray-ban wayfarers
21. calculator (HB)
22. drawstring bag
23. black/brown belt
24. prescription glasses
25. wedding ring
26. dove ring
27. nixon watch
28. paul frank watch
29. ‘no smoking’ tie
30. American Apparel tie
31. red tie
32. black tie
34. jcrew tie
35. grey shorts
36. khaki shorts
37. blue shorts
38. white shorts
39. board shorts
41. black nike shorts
42. silver nike shorts
43. adidas shorts
44. UF black shorts
45. khaki pants
46. blue dress pants
47. grey pants
48. black dress pants
50. pajama pants
51. adidas track pants
53. new balance
54. black dress shoes
57. black casual shoes
59. rainbow flip-flops
60. vandy t-shirt
61. black v-neck
62. grey v-neck
63. black long-sleeve shirt
64. blue v-neck
65. green v-neck
66. brown long-sleeve shirt
67. checkered button-down
68. striped button-down
69. picnic button-down
70. grey button-down
71. green button-down
72. dark blue button-down
73. denim button-down
74. white checkered button-down
75. white button-down
76. blue checkered button-down
77. grey flannel button-down
78. red flannel button-down
79. blue zip-up sweater
80. grey sweater
81. suede pullover
82. north face jacket
83. patagonia raincoat
84. blue suit jacket
85. black suit jacket
in the last few days before my birthday, i was able to whittle my things down to 86 items that i personally own. that number will obviously jump up as i get a few valuable presents from loved ones. but hopefully i can go even lower than 86 by next year.
honestly, i’m a little ashamed that the number is so high, considering that the larger percentage of the world comes in owning between 0-10 items.
i invite you to join me by asking yourself, what am i spending my powerful dollar on? do i need it? can others use it more than me? what can i give away to others that i don’t immediately use or need? how can i maximize my stewardship for the kingdom?
let’s begin the discussion together. this is only the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve been thinking a lot, which is to say, I’ve had a lot to think about.
My mind has been reeling for days (years even) regarding several topics, all very important to me. Here are the main things I’ve been mentally pressing into:
1. My photography business (how to continually manage, grow,…