Friday, December 30, 2005

Traffic stinks.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

you gotta love ambrose

This is the man, the myth, the Martos. This is Ambrose.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

album review: paramore

actually, i guess i'm not reviewing an album here as much as i'm reviewing a band. paramore just released theri first album, called All We Know is Falling and it genuinely worth a listen.
I'm finding it more and more difficult to nail down what kind of music i "like" and what genre is my cup 'o tea. i'm just as likely to be listening to a U2 concert bootleg as to david crowder's new remix disc, as to lovedrug, as to death cab, as to the heartwood EP that nathan gave me. some days, brtiney spears could even weasel her way into the itunes shuffle, and there's more than a few indigo girls tunes on that list, too.
so, it should come as no surprise that i'm entranced by paramore right now.
this group of five kids [all 16-19] from nashville by way of mississippi have real chops. they are firmly planted in typical teen-angst-punk, but have a real knack for creating great hooks. haley, the 16-yr-old front-chick-singer has a set of pipes that made me sit up and listen immediately. the three boys backing her up all ably find their way around their instruments, with particularly string guitar leadership by josh on an old les paul and an AC30.
they're on the 'Fueled by Ramen' label, which is a good sign - they currently have Fall Out boy and TheAcademyIs... on their roster and are becoming a great home for creative new-rock and punk. the band itself shows signs of maturity - they started recording almost immediately and found a great home on myspace to show off their work. by the time they got in the real studio to record this album for fueled by ramen, they really knew how to wrangle what the need out of their lines. the fact that there's multiple voicings in each tune makes it all very listenable, but they also have carved out a nice niche in the lyrics department. they list their influences as being "from classic rock bands such as U2 and the Cure to such modern outfits as Sparta and Failure" which shows a littl depth [and makes me feel old - the cure is classic rock??]
anyway, the album itself hits its highest points in "Here We Go" and "Conspiracy", but is pretty consistent across the board. all in all, it's worth a listen. you can stream most of it on myspace, so try it out.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

long week, great christmas

it looks like there's a happy end to this story.
i just faxed the contract back to the seller of our sooon-to-be home, and that's makes it official. i'm happy with the deal we made, and i'm really excited to put my beautiful honey in a great little home in our favorite neighborhood in charlotte.
of course, the schedule to get us there is INSANE... i mean, we're supposed to close on JANUARY 25! [30 days - ONLY] and move in...
WOW.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

d-day on the house. where's the willpower?

i'm telling you, this whole house-buying-thing has turned me into an impatient ninny. while i've always considered my grandfather's lessons in willpower to be the hallmark of my upbringing, i find myself mired in the land of but-i-wanna-know-now-now-now! sad, huh?
we got a call from the seller yesterday, and he seemed to be open to our offer - said we're "in the ballpark" but didn't give us any specifics. looks like we'll hear something more definite today... but, wow, is my patience running low! i know most people struggle through the home-buying process for months and find nothing but frustration, and we are only a few weeks into this... but i just wanna know!
ah, patience. willpower. somehow are completely escaping me.

pop-pop would be so disappointed.
every saturday that we spent with my grandparents , he would walk us down to the market on high street in pottstown - about five total blocks from his old row home on chestnut street, and he'd buy me and jenni-lee a hot doughnut. [probably a fried fastnacht, or the like] we'd walk into the bakery part of the market, and the smell would be so overwhelming so as to almost knock me down. after the seemingly endless process of selecting the perfect glob of fried dough, he'd pay the 20 cents and hand one bag to me, and one to my sister. the bags were the old brown paper lunchsacks that got very soft with the rising heat and moisture thrown off by the treats inside.
with those beautiful bags [containing unfathomable tasty greatness] in hand, we'd walk back to chestnut street, talking about what we'd do for the rest of the day. all the while, we could smell the pastry inside, and feel the warmth. but the rule was simple - no eating, or peeking - until we got home and showed mom-mom what we got.
that walk was always excruciatingly long. we're talking waiting-in-the-dentist-chair, last-five-minutes-of-the-last-day-of-school, christmas-eve-in-bed, loooong.
granted, somehow we always survived. the doughnuts were always amazing. and yes, the waiting did make them taste better.
willpower, courtesy of pop-pop umstead.
think TC will let me use this technique?

Friday, December 16, 2005

hocoby corner. the new wilmore.

my hands are shaking in a "i'm-going-to-debtors-prison" kind of way.
no, nothing bad has happenned, only good. so far.
yesterday, TC and I put in an offer contract on a house in our wonderful hood of wilmore, and WOW - the economics of the whole equation blow me away.
this photo is from when it was a condemned piece of hmmm, and it looks a bit better now. long story short, we could very soon be looking at moving our whole existence into a little duplex where we'll be renting to someone else. we'll go from renters to slumlords all in one swoop. exctiting, no doubt, but daunting with a capital -aunting. the bank is about to own us, and we're both pretty creaky people.
all in all, i couldn't be more extcited, but i'm also really wary of the whole process of getting IN the place. there are so many pieces that need to fall into place for this to happen, not the least of which is moving our whole lot of stuff there - not an easy proposition when TC is growing a baby and i'm shaking a lot more lately. not a great recipe.
but it will no doubt be worth the effort to share a backyard with two incredible families.
HOCOBY corner is about to born.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

how flat is paper?

i've always just accepted that paper is, well, flat. i mean, i know that in reality there is thickness and actual structure to it, but i've never really considered that thickness to be relevavnt, other than when determining how thick a folder should be or something.
but this stuff, well, it blows my mind to think about the architectural nature of this stuff. the staircase in this pic is made ENTIRELY out of A4-sized [210mm x 297mm] pieces of copy paper. the artist, peter callesen somehow sees incredible structures made entirely of flat paper.
the truly incredible pieces are the ones entire from a single sheet of A4 paper. ONE sheet! like these:

it makes me ask myself how in the world someone can see that spider crawling across to trap a butterfly - from a truly blank page. i met with one of the genius artists from our 242 community last night, and as we bantered around ideas for a new installation to be used in an upcoming worship event, there came a time when he hit the 'zone' - and had left me so far behind, i couldn't even see him anymore. i kept up with him for a while, but then we entered a "but-how-flat-is-paper" kind of moment. i love seeing that happen. the pure thrill of watching an artist, a musician, a poet, enter that realm when they have allowed themselves to be posessed by Spirit - to be taken over by what could be - and trip through true creation.
i have another friend who uses language in a way similar to how michael jordan uses a basketball. if you were alive when MJ was playing, you couldn't help but notice the sheer abundance of posters of MJ rising above the court to dunk the ball with grace. on every one of these posters, the scale is maintained by having some poor schlep that looks nailed to the floor below him. there's always the guy there to give us perspective on how high MJ really is.
this type of flow / creativity / creation completely sucks me in. when i can sit and watch someone lift off the ground and enter a place i'd never known existed, well, i see a glimpse of how flat paper isn't.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

U2 in charlotte. gloria.

another day, another amazing U2 show.
last night was the second leg of the hopkins-whitby U2 tour of 2005. after seeing them from inside the ellipse in hotlanta last month, dennis and i got to jump around with some great friends in the rabble of the general admission section...
great show. great friends.
the boys were in top form, and aside from a little wigginess on the vox mix, the sound and light show was one for the ages. the set list changed enough from ATL to make it surprising, and we got to see them end on Yahweh and 40... two of my all-time faves.
i only took about 400 pics during the show... these two can't even give an idea of how good they are.

one of the best parts of the whole experience was the little bit of understanding that TC gave me about how amazing a woman she really is. she's always amazing me in this arena [i should just get used to it...] but last night took the cake.

we had tix to go to the show together, but after D&D sold their tix, she agreed to give her wonderful general admission spot to dennis so that he and i could have a good "date-night". [her words, not mine]
how amazing a wife is that?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

movie review: RENT

wuss alert.
as a warning, someone once told me that i know far too many show tunes to be straight. rest assured, i am 100% straight, but BOY, do i love me some show tunes.
and in the great land of showtunes that stretches from shall we dance to bring him home to tell me on a sunday, please, there's very few shows that shake my boots that way that rent does. now, if you're not familiar, please stop reading now and proceed directly to the movie trailer. do not pass go. do not collect $200.
go ahead, watch it now. that's ok, i'll wait...
alright, now, do you see what i mean? that tune that's in the trailer - seasons of love - doesn't even scratch the surface.
the long and short of it is, i saw the flick yesterday, and found myself in tears three times. granted, it's a pretty sad script - it's about a group of 8 friends in 1989 who are all dealing with HIV/AIDS in some way. some are infected, some are in love with someone that's infected, some are struggling through all of it.
but truthfully, the death that is inherent in the story is not what brings me to tears every time. the meat of it is these relationships that are built on knowing there is a worldly end at some point, but for them - that's not the whole story.

there is such beautiful simplicity in this lyrical line in my favorite song for the show:
"will i lose my dignity? will someone care? will i wake tomorrow from this nightmare?"
that's the whole song. REALLY. and every time, i cry. there is such grace in these friendships and love affairs. such simple and true grace.

overall, the film features nearly all the actors who pioneered/created the roles on broadway. so, the acting is brilliant - in a stage-to-film kind of way. jesse l. martin [law and order] is particularly strong, as is rosario dawson [one of the few not from the original broadway cast]. the direction is simple - they use real streets in the alphabet city area of NYC, but Chric Columbus doesn't let his feel-good nature [see Home Alone and Uncle Buck] get in the way of the solid writing. the voices featured are fantastic, but raw. they are the real voices of these actors, and whether it's rosario dawson graveling her way through 'light my candle' or taye diggs screaming in a very 2005 R&B voice, the reality of these is important.
overall, the film is well made, and allows for the opening 40 minutes to be slower and obsessed with the introduction of characters. because once the second act starts, there's no turning back.

solid movie. see it. NOW.