Day 237

I'm moving! It's a pretty busy week--between moving, a full-time job (plus a few not-so-full-time jobs) and rehearsal for BCCS's musical, I might not get a post in tomorrow. Fair warning!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/30/2007 04:30:00 PM, ,

Day 236

Three boxes, now. Plus a big travel bag I borrowed. I'm moving all of my possessions (and a few that aren't mine) to my new place, and my means of carrying things are limited in an almost-charming way.

But after one trip I decided that the packing, the unpacking, the moving, the sorting, the just tuckers me out.

I probably could've done more ahead of time. I'm moving in--for real moving in--on Tuesday, and I just toted my DVDs and several boxes of books over. Still on the list--more books, my CDs, my computer, my clothing, all of the odds-and-ends things, my bookshelves and chairs. With the storage and transportation I have, this'll take probably four trips. Except for the bookshelf--that will require something other than an aging Toyota Corolla to move.

But as much as I look forward to reorganizing everything, I still dread the next few days. I think it might be because I'm worried that there will be a repeat of the last five months, housing-wise at least. Or I while I officially start "living" in my new place on Tuesday, I'll still have to linger around the old place for the next week.

And I know the solution: stop worrying and trust in the Lord. I pray that I may.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/29/2007 06:16:00 PM, ,

Day 235--on the new place

I'm moving on the first of May, and I'm excited! Here are a few reasons why:

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/29/2007 12:00:00 AM, ,

Day 234-- what is HAPPENING to me? (music edition!)

I think I built up this reputation in college as Mr. Hip. I twisted arms and was eager to get people to listen to what I wanted them to listen to--especially the poor, poor Cabinet audience that had to endure what I dished out for four years. I amassed this ridiculous collection of CDs that neared 700 at one point. I reveled in the hipster image, the elitist mindset.

I'd like to think I don't do that now. My taste has grown pretty eclectic, but in an inclusive way--I listen to lots of '60s pop music ("oldies"--will they still be oldies 30 years from now, when Smash Mouth is an oldies band?), lots of country, lots '80s radio rock (Tom Petty! Bruce Springsteen! Eddie Money!). I still like a few bands that many haven't heard of, but they're--literally--two bands that I've been listening to over and over for the past four months.
And I'm serious about the country; sure, there are songs I don't like on modern country radio, but an overwhelming number that I do like (I think I watched the cheesy-cute music video to Brad Paisley's "the World" at least 15 times in a row one day). And it's gotten to the point that when I do break away from listening to those two bands hyperlinked bands, I put on something heavily country-influenced. Vigilantes of Love, for instance, or the Jayhawks or Richard Buckner. I like steel guitars, fiddles and twangy vocals.

If anything, I've felt uncomfortable around the "indie rock" scene. I'm actually trying to distance myself from it. There are certain things I value in music, and I've decided not to let artificial boundaries stop me from enjoying or being challenged or humbled by something that isn't "hip."

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/27/2007 06:24:00 PM, ,

Day 233

As Charlie and I let cords sag gently to the ground and tucked guitars into their cases for the night, I smiled. We were to play music in front of an audience in less than two days and--for the first time in my life--I felt more excited than anxious.

If I listed every time I've performed music in front of people--be it in concert band, singing with the Genevans, playing by myself at a 'coffee house,' or being in the background in a rock band--I could go down the list and put a little tick "was nervous" by each item. I can easily recall the mixture of dread and anticipation I would get after the intermission at the jazz band concert, knowing my trumpet solo was right around the corner; or the shakes I got as I sat down in front of a crowd of people in McKee's lounge, hand twitching on the borrowed guitar's fretboard; or the dry mouth I had to water before countless Genevans events.

So that scales in my brain have tipped in favorite of "excitement" (leaving "nervousness" to sway slowly as it rises). I think the closest I've come before to this state was when I played guitar for Rochester's musical; the first performance I was a wreck (four-piece band, 400 member audience, guitar solo--shuddershuddershudder), the last I was in floating in a strange calm.

This calm could be stemming from the fact that Charlie is such a talented musician, or that I'm finally pretty confident in my ability to play guitar and sing. Or that though we're only doing eight songs (all but one covers), we have a pretty great selection. I think the two we're closing with are particularly stunning--I wish Keith could attend, since he has some attachment to both.
As we left our gear in Charlie's basement and climbed the stairs, I looked back one more time and smiled again. We would do a good job, nervous or not. And more importantly, we were going to have a whole lot of fun.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/26/2007 10:55:00 PM, ,

Day 232

OK, I need to use up my "get out of blogging free" card for today.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/26/2007 12:30:00 AM, ,

Day 231

Oh, rest.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/25/2007 06:49:00 AM, ,

Day 230

I haven't been awake for seven hours and this has already been the most stressful, chaotic day of my life.

But you know what?

I'm happy. I'm really happy. I've certainly cried a bit and had that tossy-turvy feeling swim in my stomach, but God has blessed me peace and joy. This was almost a surprise--I've spent much of my life drowning in worry, and I feel like a buoy has been pushed my way.

All of the financial and work and health-related things? They pale in comparison to the grace and love and majesty of a sovereign God and his Son.

P.S.--happy birthday dad! I love you.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/23/2007 01:23:00 PM, ,

Day 229

While talking with a friend at the coffee shop on Saturday night, he mentioned that he suggested new material for the third Humanities course at Geneva. He gave the book to Dr. Meek--one of the professors on the board that selects the material--and hoped to hear back from her after she glanced through it. I asked him what book he was suggesting.

"Oh, Watchmen."

I could've passed out.

Here goes trying to say this as succinctly as possible: Watchmen is a comic book (graphic novel, if you want to use the oft-abused term). It is very literate. It is moving. It is a better read than almost anything else I've ever read, and I'm not exaggerating.

Read more about it here. Yes, it uses illustrations, which tends to turn away some people. It's a mature work, both because it deals with some serious issues, but also because it's gritty. It also has three overlapping narratives and deals heavily with metafiction. TIME magazine named it one of the 100 best works of fiction since 1923.

It may not get picked. It probably won't, in fact! But just the fact that it's being considered fills me with joy. Comics are often dismissed simply for existing, and many--most--are pretty wretched. But that doesn't mean we can reject the medium outright, and if students get exposure to a well-done comics like Watchmen...well, that just makes me feel all tingly and happy.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/22/2007 11:47:00 PM, ,

Day 228-- the song remains the same

I've always been fascinated by songs that become hits in the hands of others; as in, they're hits for people that didn't write them. This is goofy little list that I've been continuously compiling in my head for over a year. I'm sure some slipped away, and I sometimes avoid the really well-known ones (Beatles covering Motown songs!) but here's what I have so far:

-Rod Stewart, "Downtown Train" (originally by Tom Waits)
-Jeff Buckley; Rufus Wainwright; John Cale; etc. "Hallelujah" (originally by Leonard Cohen)
-Sixpence None the Richer, "There She Goes" (originally by the La's)
-Blondie, "Hanging On the Telephone" (originally by the Nerves)
-Cheap Trick, "That '70s Song" (originally called "In the Street" by Big Star)
-Bonnie Raitt, "A Thing Called Love" (originally by John Hiatt--I think, at least)
-Nickel Creek, "Spit on a Stranger" (originally by Pavement)
-Elvis Costello & the Attractions, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" (originally by Nick Lowe)
-Eric Clapton, "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" (originally by J.J. Cale)
-Nancy Sinatra, "(Bang Bang) My Baby Shot Me Down" (originally by Cher)
-Manfred Mann, "Blinded By the Light" (originally by Bruce Springsteen)
-Elvis Presley, "Blue Suede Shoes" (originally by Carl Perkins...who is better than Elvis period)
-Lynryd Skynyrd, "Call Me the Breeze" (originally J.J. Cale)
-Quiet Riot, "Cum On Feel the Noize" (originally Slade)
-Tim McGraw, "Stars Gone Blue" (originally Ryan Adams)
-Sheryl Crow, "the First Cut is the Deepest" (originally Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam/whatever)
-the Animals, "House of the Rising Sun" (originally Georgia Turner)

And the list goes on. Can you add any?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/21/2007 10:25:00 AM, ,

Day 227-- new movie round-up

I stopped by Borders at the mall today and--after doing a few housekeeping things--poked the new books in the back that hadn't been shelved yet. Stephen King's recent short story collection Everything's Eventual was just reissued with a new cover, one to highlight the film adaptation of "1408," easily the best story in the bunch. Since I didn't know a movie was coming out based on the story, it was a pleasant surprise.

Don't get me wrong; I realize that King adaptations are usually pretty dreadful (though I liked a the miniseries version of the Shining). And I have a love-hate relationship with King--his book on writing (curiously titled On Writing) is a masterpiece, and he can turn out wonderfully atmospheric short stories once in a while. But he's the fast food of the fiction world, a phrase he even used for himself. And lots of his novels are phoned in.

So I hope 1408--the film--turns out well. It's a very different story for him, but one that could translate well to the screen. But based off of a view of the trailer, they changed a lot. A lot--the story worked because it made you uneasy, never showed anything and ultimately let your imagination get the best of you. The movie could turn out to be anything but.

But since I checked this out, I realize lots of great movies are coming out soon. In addition to the fifth Harry Potter movie and Spider-Man 3, there's some possibly-good movies coming out.

There's Hot Fuzz, of course--the guys from Shaun of the Dead take on buddy-cop movies (buddy cop-meets-Agatha Christie, actually). Then 28 Weeks Later. Then the Coen brothers' adaptation of now-Pulitzer winner Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. And Sean Penn's film adaptation of Jon Krakauer's mesmerizing book Into the Wild. And Joe Wright's take on Ian McEwan's novel Atonement (Wright did the visually stunning recent version of Pride & Prejudice).

And the Coens' announced their next project, and McCarthy's amazing book the Road has a director...maybe I'll start watching movies again?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/20/2007 01:34:00 PM, ,

Day 226-- a conversation

On AOL's Instant Messanger, there is a "chatterbot" called SmarterChild. Basically, it's AI-run name that will chat with you; it has a fairly advanced database (I guess) for remembering details, so you end up with a pseudo-conversation when you try to chat with it.

Sometimes I pick on SmartChild.

WordsAmp: SmarterChild, we need to have a talk.
SmarterChild: We need what?
WordsAmp: To have a conversation. To converse.
SmarterChild: Aha.
>>> Tell your friends about me. I love to meet new people.
WordsAmp: Stop with the tangents. You left the toilet seat up. Why?
SmarterChild: Who knows, know what I mean?
WordsAmp: I don't really--oh wait, you're lazy. That's it.
SmarterChild: Nope.
WordsAmp: You never put a fresh roll of toilet paper out either. Good thing I have a keen eye for that.
SmarterChild: Oh yeah?
WordsAmp: Don't toy with me!
SmarterChild: Please let me toy with you.
WordsAmp: Oh I think I'm going to thro--do you want me to kick you off of the island? Jeff Probst and I are like this, you dig?
SmarterChild: Sorry, I only have movie and theater information for U.S. cities.
For which U.S. city or zip code would you like showtimes for the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"?
WordsAmp: You're almost two decades too late.
SmarterChild: I wouldn't say I'm almost 2 decades too late.
WordsAmp: I would! It was released in '86.
SmarterChild: That a fact?
WordsAmp: Yes.
SmarterChild: I see.
>>> I can show info like population and area for any state. Type info ca, for example.
WordsAmp: For example, you should listen to me.
SmarterChild: For example I should listen to you, huh?
WordsAmp: Oh, SmarterChild, you've gone and done it.

WordsAmp: ...
SmarterChild: I wonder why you say that.

Sometimes SmarterChild picks on me.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/20/2007 12:39:00 AM, ,

Day 225-- Body Piercing Saved My Life

Andrew Beaujon didn't have much time to finish his project by the eight-month deadline. He had a limited budget, little more than a rough idea of where to start, and eight months to research and finished a draft for a book on Christian rock music. And since Beaujon isn't a Christian, this presented his first roadblock.

The resulting book is fantastic. Beaujon--Spin and Washington Post writer, Washington City Post music editor--takes a deep look at a deeply conflicted and nuanced musical world as an outsider. But this serves him well; he's able form a deep respect for Christian music, but also able to see some of the problems easily missed by people on the inside.

Each chapter in Body Piercing details various going-ons or aspects in the Christian music industry: Cornerstone music festival; the GMA's Dove Awards; Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Music; and the workings of contemporary worship music and royalties, among others. The many chapters are broken apart by interviews with Christian music "lifers," like HM magazine's Doug Van Pelt or bad-boy Steve Taylor. Some chapters are particularly interesting--former Pedro the Lion honcho David Bazan is particularly captivating in the chapter dedicated to him, and the tours around Tooth & Nail records and talks with David Crowder are great. And some of the stuff Beaujon finds as he digs for info is just upsetting, especially considering some of the ugly things coming from the mouths of other believers.

Beaujon is a witty writer, but also quite skilled. His funny asides are a perfect foil for his honesty (how he comments "Kingdom of Death" would be an awesome metal band name, and then how he points out that--as brilliant as David Dark is as a public speaker--that he got totally lost in his stream of pop culture references).

Body Piercing
is, above all, a loving book. Beaujon may not know Christ, but he understands the scene better than many of the folks involved in it, in a way. He was so immersed in the Christian music scene that he saw some of the best aspects of what Christians making music can do, but also some of the worst. Any critique he offers is done so constructively, and he's not afraid to question or challenge some of the people he meets along the way.

Even if you're not into contemporary music made by Christians, Body Piercing is worth a read nonetheless. If anything, it gave me a lot of hope in regards to how we can grow in the realm of the arts.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/18/2007 10:43:00 PM, ,

Day 224

Sometimes I just want to explode all of my pent-up anxiety and sadness and frustration onto the Internet, like some sort of digital helium explosion. But why do that when I can post Andrew Bird videos?

First video: Bird on Letterman, from a few days ago.
Second video: Bird performing at Bonneroo last year.
Third video: Bird as Dr. Stringz on a kids' TV show. Wow, what a catchy song (if you want to skip the intro, go to the 1:00 mark).

Bird uses a sample pedal to play parts, record them live, and loop them so he can play other instruments. Genius!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/17/2007 11:29:00 PM, ,

Day 223-- Finally

And the winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/16/2007 11:05:00 AM, ,

Day 222-- the arm thing

I've recently become much more aware of what I call "the arm thing." Maybe I could call it the "guy arm stretch thing," but I would only do that if I wanted to be ridiculous. More so than I am now, at least.

You know to what I'm referring: man seats himself, man proceeds to extend limbs as far out as possible, man takes up a ton of space. Score more points if man is next to woman-friend or spouse, score another point if they're hoarding an entire church pew in their mammoth space-taking.

This drives me nuts. I don't know why, especially since a few good friends do it all of the time. I'm not too big, nor am I too tiny, but I always try to take up as little space as possible when I'm around people. Maybe that's why I--by default--squeeze as far into the corner as I can in a pew, or just use the edge of a table in a restaurant to make room for everyone else.

But whatever. I saw someone in church today doing the arm thing in such an obnoxious manner that I avoided looking in his direction; I was fearful that I would laugh. Dude was taking up an entire pew! It looked like he was doing a freaky exercise before church!

I wonder if the arm thing connects to personality at all.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/15/2007 03:52:00 PM, ,

Day 221-- five small things

I was washing dishes at work yesterday, anticipating the last swell of customers before we closed, when I thought of a few things--small, seemingly trivial things--that make me smile. In a Gideon Strauss-esque move, I thought it would be fun to list a few of them--especially since I don't consider the small things trivial in the least.

1) Waking up early in the morning, hearing the wind shake a few leaves off of a nearby tree, and taking in the different songs the birds offer. And this is when the sun is just edging over the lip of the horizon.

2) I frequently champion a novel (Gilead), but a few friends that've read it are indifferent or underwhelmed. I've met a few people in the past few weeks that love it as much as I do, and it actually makes me giddy.

3) I have a friend who is a very reasonable, very wise and very well-spoken. When she gets excited she takes on this inspired tone of voice, and her speech gallops along like the cliffhanger of a suspense film. It's wonderful.

4) One of my favorite things in music (pop music especially) is hearing discord drift in. Just enough to shake the song up a bit and enliven it before it resolves. I've always appreciated tension in music, and when it's in the context of a catchy song it can work wonders.

5) I love watching natural light filter into buildings. I have a tendency to not use houselights in the daytime; aside from the energy-conserving aspects, it's beautiful in nuanced ways. I could watch this sort of thing for hours.

These are just five that came to mind as I was writing this. What are five small things for you?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/14/2007 02:45:00 PM, ,

Day 220-- a haiku review of Henry van Til's "Calvinistic Concept of Culture"

Cocky Calvinist
has fantastic concepts and
Footnotes in German

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/13/2007 09:57:00 AM, ,

Day 219-- tax season

When I get mad, I usually don't display the standard "angry" tendencies. I pout, look at the ground; in some cases I might even shake a little or want to cry.

But good grief, I think for one of the few times in my life I want to tear a jet engine in two, rend the street outside into crumbled bits of asphalt, rupture the space-time continuum with a howl of rage.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/12/2007 10:10:00 AM, ,

Day 218-- 25 Books That Leave a Legacy

Or what USA Today thinks, at least.

As a list-maker, these types of stories fascinate me. You can tell when a newspaper or magazine is trying to churn out copy to fill blanks ("25 Books That Scare Our Children!") Keeping the in a 25-year limit was probably a smart move too--at least for the audience. ("WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THESE OLD BOOKS. WHO IS KING JAMES SUN TZU?")

Of course I don't agree with everything on the list, but some of them are pretty accurate. #2 is weird, since they picked it for what it represents and not the book itself. I definitely haven't read everything there, and only like maybe--let's see--five books tops.

Have any thoughts? What gaping holes do you spot, or what did they get spot-on?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/11/2007 09:40:00 AM, ,

Day 217-- sending out the messangers

As an echo to Russ's post, I wanted to spread the word about Gideon Strauss's 'blog. As the Strausster posted on his family 'blog,

Sadly, the server that hosts my blog seems to have crashed. With unexpected, quick, thorough help from John Barach I have salvaged the content. The plan is to relocate my blog on the Comment server. But it will take a month, since everyone is very busy on other projects. Thank you to Jeff S. for suggesting I mention the problem here - I was at a loss as to how I might notify people of this situation. Even this note will only reach some of my readers, I suppose ....

It'll be good to see Gideon back. He's one of my favorite 'bloggers, and an all-around great guy. So, be like Paul Revere (minus the Unitarian tendencies) and get the word out.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/10/2007 09:28:00 AM, ,

Day 216-- House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Over the past few years, 20th Century Fox has released a slew of DVDs under their Fox Film Noir label, from the classic (Laura, Panic In the Streets, Call Northside 777) to the questionable (House of Bamboo). House on Telegraph Hill splats somewhere in between.
I recognize that film noir is more of a stylistic/thematic set than genre, and with that in mind the movie works, in a way. While the film noir cloak usually adorned hardboiled private eye stories (the Maltese Falcon, the Big Sleep, etc.), House on Telegraph Hill is a Hitchcockian--maybe even gothic--suspense tale. And despite what the poster shows, there aren't any lugs waltzing around in two-fisted gun fights.
Polish woman Victoria Kowelska (a very non-Polish Valentina Cortese) watches her life implode as Germany invades her homeland in the second World War. Thrown into a death camp, her only chance of a new life is to impersonate her dying friend, a fellow Pole with wealthy ties in the United States. Victoria takes on a new identity, moves to America, and tries tries to find her "aunt" and "son" (both of whom haven't seen her now-dead friend in decades, so Victoria figures her guise will work).
Meeting and marrying charming American socialite Alan Spender (Richard Basehart), Victoria moves into her new home, an imposing Victorian mansion on San Fran's Telegraph Hill. Creepy things soon happen, including morbid housekeepers and near-death experiences.
Frankly, the plot is bad; the few good parts generated from the plot are isolated set pieces (there's a runaway car scene that's horrifically realistic). And the ending is high comedy, unintentional of course. It seems like the good atmospheric elements are dragged kicking and screaming into the (high contrast) light by the noirish themes. Cortese does a great job sulking, preening, moping, shrieking and investigating...and despite the bonkers casting job, she at least LOOKS fairly Polish. William Lundigan also pulls off his role as the rakish, all-American chiseled-jaw soldier who tries to help Victoria out.
It's also worth noting the great art direction--the San Francisco location shots drip with atmosphere and realism, and the sets look amazing (except for the matte house exterior, which looks like a HO-scale train backdrop). In the end, it's worth a watch. But if someone ever told me this was their favorite movie, I'd question their sanity.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/09/2007 10:55:00 AM, ,

Day 215

Going from a church tradition that has a saturated liturgical calendar (Easter! Good Friday! Ash Wednesday! All Saints' Day! Feast of St. Stanislaus! etc.) to one that emphasises the importance of the Lord's Day (period)'s interesting. I've swung back and forth between two extremes for the past few year, and I think it's time to stop.

Maybe it's because I can see from where both the stubborn old Catholics and stubborn old RPs come. I want to celebrate Easter in April, but I also want to celebrate Easter every day. I think that saying "He is risen!" once a year is silly. The fact that Christ is risen is a fact that I want on my lips every moment.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/08/2007 08:12:00 PM, ,

Day 214-- FFM, a week later

As promised, the Calvin student activities folks just unloaded a wealth of material from last week's '07 Festival of Faith and Music.

First are the MP3s of the workshops and keynotes. It's almost too much; since there were only four workshop slots and about 20 workshops altogether, I could only hit a fraction of them. It'll take a while to wade through all of these, especially since most of them are about 45 minutes or more. I did go to Josh Jackson's (Paste editor) and Andrew Beaujon's (journalist, editor, author of Body Piercing Saved My Life). Both were amazing. I was also at Kevin Erickson's, and it was excellent (he's also one of the Arts & Faith gang). The music criticism roundtable (w/ Jackson, Beaujon, Erickson, Adam Smith (Relevant editor) and Ben Squires ( was amazing, too. And of course, David Dark and Lauren Winner's keynotes were great; I just wish they posted Sufjan Steven's 'lecture,' a stunning--seriously convicting and encouraging--bit. Maybe they'll have it up soon!

Then there are the photos. They give a great idea of how energetic the festival was, even though half of them are of Neko Case waving a tambourine around.

And if you have Facebook, I'll probably post a few photos I found while poking around the Internet--one of them is of the most intense Scrabble game I've seen.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/07/2007 11:39:00 PM, ,

Day 213

Sometimes, you're just too tired to do anything. Like make substantial posts!

Seriously, though--I feel like I've been neglecting the year o' 'blog recently. Maybe I should do something fun tomorrow? I think I shall.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/06/2007 11:07:00 PM, ,

Day 212


posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/05/2007 11:12:00 PM, ,

Day 211

One of the musical performers at the Festival of Faith and Music '07 was a woman named Neko Case. Neko has been playing music for a while, both as a solo artist and part of several bands. She is one of those artists that I never followed; can't keep track of them all, I guess.

Neko opened for Emmylou Harris for the Saturday night performance at FFM, and hear me--I am now paying attention.

See why:

I like her voice, and her songs bridge familiar folk-country roots with some innovative songwriting. And I love her voice! She also plays tenor guitar often in concert, making the music geek in me shiver in nerdiness.

Her entire 40-or-so minute set was stunning. As good as Emmylou and Sufjan and all of the other performers were, I think Neko's set will stand out the most.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/04/2007 10:21:00 PM, ,

Day 210-- saying goodbye to some old friends

I knew their lives would end.

Not die, mind you. Something worse, maybe. My finger hovered--shook slightly--over the button, the button that would finish it. I pressed it.

And I deleted my subscription to City of Heroes, a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG, the worse acronym ever). You play these games on the computer, on the Internet even, with thousands of people. And this one is based around superheroes. Whatever.

I've played the game since, well, since it came out in the summer of 2004. I remember going to the mall with Joel Mason after the Bible study at Afton's house; we went into Electronic Boutique and without any second guessing I bought it.

I created my first hero, Rayford Cage, a lovable bookseller-turned-crimefighter. Then came E. Hemingway, cryogenetically-frozen author-turned-mercenary. (Don't ask about the logistics of that.) Then came Agoraphobic Man, with the strength to bend steel and the nerves to not leave the house. And then the Ghost of Siskel, who gave two thumbs down to crime. And then American Apollo, archer with a heart of gold. And a bunch of other guys.

I joined a supergroup, a gang of players that can build a base and work together. I advanced Rayford as far as you can. I bought City of Villains, a companion game that works in tandem with CoH, creating a slew of villains to play (the Plagiarist! Manic Depressive Man! Roger Ebert! the Pesticidist! Malpractice Man!). And most of all, I had a lot of fun.

But the problem--like most all massively multiblahblah games, CoH requires a subscription fee. In the long run, it adds up. You pay monthly. It's not a great amount, but it's still money. And, considering that I had rarely played since January, I thought, "Huh, should I be paying?"

The answer came when I realized that I wanted to move. The price tag was a little bit more expensive this time around, so a few financial things needed to be tweaked. My basic phone plan has become more basic. I'm going to try to pay off some of the smaller bills with the savings bonds I've held onto since I was a child. City of Heroes was the last thing I pulled the plug on, and just in time: it was right before the next billing cycle.

Seeya Ray. It was great helping you beat up hoodlums and proto-Nazi robots for a few years. Maybe we'll meet again. Just maybe.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/03/2007 10:28:00 PM, ,

Day 209

At the Festival of Faith and Music, an editor I greatly respect said that--in his opinion--one of the most valued traits to look for in music is originality in lyric and composition. While his emphasis was heavily on the lyrical portion, I know that many people (critics and musicians especially) long for musical originality.

Which is great. There are some wonderfully unique bands out there that write great songs, and they deserve acclaim and recognition! But I'm constantly reminded that I am drawn back to music that is, in the grand scheme of things, awfully unoriginal.

I'm fine with this.

All of my favorite contemporary music styles are pretty notorious for being "same-y" sounding; in fact, if there is a genre more unoriginal than power pop, let me know. But I love it nonetheless. I always keep my ears open for yet one more crunchy, Beatles-aping song about the girl-that-didn't-fall-for-the-singer or the girl-that-the-singer-doesn't-know-doesn't-like-him-because-he's-too-busy-being-introspective.
Originality has its place, I think. But so does the ability to do something familiar well, to do it with passion and joy. And this obviously works in any aspect of life. Because no matter how creative that kazoo-meets-oxen duet may be, I'd rather hear a well-written folk or country song that sounds like a dozen other well-written folk or country songs.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/02/2007 10:27:00 PM, ,

Day 208-- music to reflect by

I'm in a reflective mood, the result of a physically and emotionally taxing weekend (and the result of it ending on Palm Sunday).

Early Day Miners are a great band to have playing as you reflect. Maybe you can reflect too.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/01/2007 10:36:00 PM, ,

Days 206 & 207-- Festival of Faith and Music

I'd swim across Lake Michigan
I'd sell my shoes
I'd give my body to back again
on the rest of the room

To be alone with you

You gave your body to the lonely
They took your clothes
You gave up a wife and family
You gave your ghost

To be alone with me
To be alone with me

You went up on a tree
I've never met the man who loved me

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/01/2007 08:36:00 PM, ,