Sunday, December 30, 2007

Top 10 Records of 2007

It's that time again when I give you my top 10 albums of the year. This years list might be the most eclectic list ever. So here we go.

10. Joy Electric - The Other Opus : I was really unfair to this record when it first came out. After hearing the Brothers Martin record, Joy Electric's latest offering seemed weak. Not interested, not bass heavy, no bad but not what I had hoped for. Upon further listening I was wrong. Ronnie spent a lot of time on vocals and it shows on this record. It might actually be my second favorite JoyE record.

9. Rich Swift - Dressed Up for the Letdown : Although half of this record contains songs on previous 7" record it's still great (besides, how many people are buying vinyl?). There aren't many artist doing what Swift is doing and that's good. It's very well crafted pop music.

8. Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone : I love post-rock. It might be the most listened to genre of music in my collection as of the last year. EITS released another beautiful piece of music. Gorgeous instrumental music.

7. Battles - Mirrored : I'm not sure what to say about Battles. A lot of people love this record. A lot of people hate this record. There is no middle ground. I love it.

6. Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works : Who doesn't love Dillinger Escape Plan? A combo of the math metal that made DEP famous and a jazz rock, Mike Patton fusion. It's good. I swear.

5. St Vincent - Marry Me : I read a review of Marry Me on popmatters and thought it could be an interesting record. After the fist few notes of Now, Now I knew it was going to be a good record, and it is. Very pretty pop music.

4. Pharoahe Monch - Desire : I love hip-hop. It's plan and simple. Desire is one of the best hip-hop records I've heard in a long time. Great beats, good hooks, strong lyrical content.

3. Hopesfall - Magnetic North : On a whim I picked up Hopesfall's record "Magnetic North" and it was a well spent $10. I love the guitar work on this record. This record didn't leave my car cd player for 2 months. Just a solid record.

2. Kenna - Make Sure They See My Face : I was a big fan of New Sacred Cow when that came out in 03 and the four years it took to release Make Sure They See my Face was worth it. A very energetic, danceable record. From start to finish this record is great.

1. The Brothers Martin - The Brother Martin : The fist time I listened to this record I literally wet myself. I've been waiting for this record for years and it was everything I thought it would be and more. Ronnie Martin (Joy Electric) and Jason Martin (Starflyer 59) finally got together and created a brilliant dance record. I could probably gush about this record all day but I won't. Just buy it. It's incredible.

Honorable Mentions:

Although they didn't make the top 10 I need to give a heads up about a couple of record that are also awesome.

Worlds End Girlfriend - Hurtbreak Wonderland
Eluvium - Copia
MxPx - Secret Weapon
Stars of the Lid - Stars Of The Lid And Their Refinement Of The Decline
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Signal Hill - Signal Hill
Caspian - The Four Trees

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rudiments of a Spiritual Life

So 2007 is coming to a close and like every year I've been taking stock of my life this past year. Where it started, what happened, how I grew, goals I accomplished, and where I am now. I was reading over a quick blurb that I wrote last year at this time. It's the things in my life I wanted to change and how I wanted to grow.

"I'm hoping in 2007 to work on things I'm not really happy with (being really shy and awkward around people I don't know) and working towards a deeper understand in who Christ is and what he wants from me. I spent most of this year just figuring out that I still love him and coming to an understanding of what I actually believe. This coming year I want to wrap myself in his love and his word. My belief is strong but that's where I feel it ends. "

I feel this is exactly what I had accomplished in 07. The year started off with a sermon by Rick McKinley about what he had learned on his time off from preaching and just meditating on God. What he said was such a simple truth that has stuck with me all year. He said "What I really got to focus on was the fact that God loves me... This thing really is about the love of God."

And I heard this and it rang true with me. Something hit home and I said yes, God loves me. And it's a complete duh moment. You smack yourself in forehead and say of course, it's the truth behind the gospel. But somewhere in my walk with God, in this journey to a deeper understanding of how I'm supposed to be following in the shadow of Jesus, I lost this simple concept that God loves me. And that was a good place to start this year. Because if God loves me, no matter how much I screw up, no matter how much I hurt him by going forward and looking for approval elsewhere, then why should anything else matter. At the end of the day when everyone fails me, when life seems to come up short, God will be there, waiting to embrace me with his love. And if God loves me that way, then he must love everyone else that way too. So I go to the gospel of Matthew.

"Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself."

And it made such an impact on my life. It's not a revolutionary concept but it was a base to start from and it was how I wanted to live my life. As a reminder I tattooed the verse on my arm, as a constant reminder of how to live my life.

I was able to find a church this year where I could plug into. It is a joy to be able to go to church again because I want to be there, not because I have to be there. I've meet some awesome people there and joined the worship team. It's been a joy to go there.

The other standout moment this year was a friendship. Without getting into any personal details, it's very nice and heartwarming to have someone that you can share meaningful conversation about spirituality with.I enjoyed the four months or so hat I had chance to dialogue with this person about our personal and spiritual struggles and it brought me joy to see them grow. I pray nothing but love and good things to this person, wherever life takes them next.

The past month I've really been learning to enjoy my relationships and friendships that I have now. I've spent all this week getting coffee and eating dinner with those closest to me and enjoying the company of others. I hope to continue this in 08. You never now how long someone will be alive or in your life and those relationship are precious and meaningful, if just for that moment in time you get to spend with them.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day


Boxing Day is a traditional celebration, dating back to the Middle Ages, and consists of the practice of giving out gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class.

Folk etymologies
The more common stories include:
It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who had worked for them throughout the year.
In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. After all the Christmas parties on 26 December, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obliged to supply these goods. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.

In England many years ago, it was common practice for the servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day's work on the day after Christmas. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts. This can be compared with the modern day concept of Christmas bonuses. The servants carried boxes for the coins, hence the name Boxing Day.

In churches, it was traditional to open the church's donation box on Christmas Day, and the money in the donation box was to be distributed to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day. In this case, the "box" in "Boxing Day" comes from that lockbox in which the donations were left.

Boxing Day was the day when the wren, the king of birds, was captured and put in a box and introduced to each household in the village when he would be asked for a successful year and a good harvest. See Frazer's Golden Bough.
Evidence can also be found in Wassail songs such as:
Where are you going ? said Milder to Malder,
Oh where are you going ? said Fessel to Foe,
I'm going to hunt the cutty wren said Milder to Malder,
I'm going to hunt the cutty wren said John the Rednose.
And what will you do wi' it ? said Milder to Malder,
And what will you do wi' it ? said Fessel to Foe,
I'll put it in a box said Milder to Malder,
I'll put it in a box said John the Rednose.

Because the staff had to work on such an important day as Christmas by serving the master of the house and their family, they were given the following day off. As servants were kept away from their own families to work on a traditional religious holiday and were not able to celebrate Christmas Dinner, the customary benefit was to "box" up the leftover food from Christmas Day and send it away with the servants and their families.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Morning

So tomorrow morning at 7:00 am my family will all gather in the living and go from youngest to oldest opening up stockings. From that point we'll eat breakfast, an assortment of pastries and an egg and cheese casserole. After breakfast we'll gather back in the living and open up our presents. Mid-morning we'll finish up, everyone will head to their rooms with their new stuff in tow. Showers will be had and lunch will be made. My grandparents, aunts, and future brother-in-law will come over and we'll have Christmas dinner. After which we'll open up more presents and then eat pie. Later in the evening will hit up the theater for a late night movie. And then the day will come to a close and Christmas will be over.

I pray you have a wonderful day tomorrow. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holly Jolly Christmas

I'm really excited about Christmas. I've been rocking out the latest edition of XMas with the Supans, drinking lots of eggnog, and just enjoying the season. I'm super excited for 24 hours of A Christmas Story. I love Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Highway Moves Tonight

It's been a week. Let's see if we can have an awesome little round-up. It snowed last week (yay!). First snow of the year and it was a bloody mess. I got to work more or less right when the snow started. Which was cool for me. I was at work on time. The fun was everyone else out on the road in the morning. See, here in good ole DC we don't do to well when it snows. And by snow I mean weather. Any sort of weather can mess up traffic. Cloudy is about the only kind of good traffic weather in DC. So good job to the Maryland, Virginia, and District's Department of Transportation. It was a good way to kick of the season and our hopes are once again high that you can take care of roads in case of any big storm (not!)

But I love the snow. I loved driving and watching it fall aboout me, I loved looking out the window at the snow(first year at work I get to look out a window). Traffic is a bitch when it snows but the beauty of it makes it worth it.

I've started reflecting on the last year. Looking back at how I've grown and what God has been doing in me. Without saying too much, I'm really happy with where God has brought me from and where I believe I'm going. I feel I'm more comfortable as myself then I have ever been, and I've found a place where I can be and worship God as I am and express myself as I am and not worry about fitting into any mold. I've made good friends this year and have lost close friends for one reason or another. I think for the first time this year I've really grasped the idea that God loves me, and he loves me because he made me and it's not about what I say or how I act. It's because I'm his. It's sad that as simple an idea this is, that it's missed so often by so many and it took me a while to grasp this concept.

I leave you with a song lyric. LN did a cover of "Softly and Tenderly" that still sends chills up my spine.

"Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunset Drama King

Christmas shopping online is awesome. I'm not a go out to the mall or department store and spend hours looking for the right gift and then wait in lines. To leisurely browse the world wide waste of time, in the comfort of my own home... who could ask for more. You get one giant package from sent right to your house...awesome!

Ocassionally things happen that make you look at where you are in life and you see that change is needed because there's a brick wall in front of you and you're going nowhere anymore... Today that happened.

Who can argue a little Snoop Dogg