a realistic dose of cynicism

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battle studies

above: JM’s “modest” songwriting rig.

been listening to the new John Mayer album, Battle Studies, for almost three days straight now.

the good:

  • 1. Heartbreak Warfare (presumably the inspiration for the album title. Reminiscent of U2. Standout vocals and accompaniment; single material.)
  • 2. All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye (Returning to a bit of a jazzier sound. Continuum fans: right here.)
  • 3. Half Of My Heart feat. Taylor Swift (pure lyrical genius…but needs more tay-sway. might get a little repetitive, but the lyrics make up for it.)
  • 4. Who Says (maybe a little irreverent. but that’s okay. Incredible guitar skill showcase though.)
  • 7. Crossroads (it’s a cover, but I really enjoy it. It’s a completely different side of Mayer. but to be honest my favorite part of the song is the extended bridge. pure love.)
  • 9. Edge of Desire (pretty classic-sounding Mayer.)
  • 11. Friends, Lovers, or Nothing (okay this is pretty reminiscent of Continuum—it’s a song that can remain true throughout the ages. Do like.)

the mediocre:

  • 6. Assassin (it’s okay. it’s got this mysterious feel to it, which probably indicates that the lyrics go very well with the instrumentation.)
  • 8. War Of My Life (it sounds very chill. but also kinda monotonous.)
  • 10. Do You Know Me (doesn’t sound like anything special to me.)

the bad:

  • 5. Perfectly Lonely (it really sounds like he tried way too hard; to make it sound carefree, to convince us that he’s perfectly lonely. the whole thing comes off as kind of pompous.)

So make no mistake, Mayer sounds a lot poppier here. None of the jazz/bluesy sound that propelled Continuum to great heights.

so it’s no Continuum. you won’t find it here (although you’ll find what you’re looking for in All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye, Edge of Desire, and Friends, Lovers, or Nothing. but it’s still a good album in its own right, showing conceptual growth, increasing musical depth, and progression.

Each Mayer album seems to be slightly, if not strikingly, different from its predecessor. Much like Heavier Things changed the game from Room For Squares, and Continuum for Heavier Things, Mayer takes it in a new direction…

and to be honest I kinda like it.

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initial thoughts on A Grief Observed

“I had yet to learn that all human relationships end in pain–it is the price that our imperfection has allowed Satan to exact from us for the privilege of love.” -Douglas S. Gresham, the introduction to A Grief Observed

All human relationships end in pain, whether it’s through bitterness, neglect, estrangement, or worse.

But at the same time, we humans seem to start and deepen such relationships, knowing full well that they all invariably end in pain. And it seems to be true that the deeper and more intimate the relationship, the deeper the anguish and sorrow when we are inevitably seemingly robbed of it. So why do we do it? Why do we bother?

It’s not because we think that all the joy we can discover in the company of another person could ever displace the eventual crushing sadness of grief when we lose them. It’s not because we figure it’s a zero-sum game. It’s not even sufficient to say that we do it for the joy of the moment, regardless of whether that moment lasts for mere minutes or sustains through many seasons.

But it’s not a zero-sum game. Of course you could say, ‘let’s just average out all the joy and pain and call it a straight line; a constant, monotonous, average value.’ But still, we don’t. There *is* something to be gained through the pursuit of deep human relationships.

If that constant average value is the state completely devoid of relational sentiment, then any deviation from that value, either positive or negative, constitutes an emotion that we feel. And if we believe that any joyful deviation must always be accompanied by a corresponding dose of sorrow, then nudging that line upwards will invariably cause a downward dip later.

But in our minds, somewhere, we must think that it’s all worth it; that we would rather experience both effervescent joy and love in the splendor of God’s creation and then the anguish that later accompanies it.

Much like finding the average value of a sinusoid, life cannot simply be approximated by taking the emotional average. A life with its relational emotional peaks and valleys derives infinitely more meaning than a life without any of the above.

The ability to feel both joy and sorrow versus the inability to feel anything makes us more than just a constant value.

We’re more than just a swatch of 18% gray.

As Switchfoot put it, we’re more than “just okay”.

 

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found on the interwebs, quoted out of context:

Marc: well i asked them to chop up the fingers

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when God weeps

reading Boy Meets Girl and here’s something I’d like to share with you… something I think everyone should read.

“Let’s gaze on it (the Cross) together. As we draw close, don’t assume that you already know or understand what happened there. Come to the Cross as if for the first time. In the book When God Weeps, Steven Estes and Joni Eareckson Tada give the following account of Christ’s death. As you read, refuse to let the scene be familiar. Let its reality shock you and break your heart.

The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow…

“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has the power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His Father! He must face his Father like this!

From Heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seem the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe this things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind for every century explodes in a single direction.

” Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

Don’t move to quickly from this scene. Keep gazing.

The Rescue accomplished here was for you. John Scott writes, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance) … As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it; my sins sent Him there,’ and ‘He did it; His love took Him there.’”

Did you see your own offense on the list of sins that necessitated the Cross? If not, name them yourself. Name your darkest sin. Now reflect on the fact that Christ bore the punishment for that sin. He took the punishment you deserved. Do you feel His passionate and specific love for you? He died for you. He was condemned and cursed so that you could go free – He was forsaken by God so that you would never be forsaken (Hebrews 13:5).”

(I was lazy and copied it from here, I hope they’re okay with it.)

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Let my mouth do the listening.

I wanted to share with you how God’s been speaking to me lately.

He’s been telling me to stop speaking.

First it was Joshua Harris’ Boy Meets Girl, in a section slyly titled “What To Do With Your Lips”:

Principle #2: Your ears are your most important communication tools.
Often, the best thing we can do with our lips is to keep them sealed.
God gave people two ears and one mouth because he wants us to listen twice as much as we talk.

And then I discovered this new female electropop artist, Lights. Lights is really, really good. Imagine Owl City… as a woman. Even Owl City likes Lights. Lights has a new album coming out October 6 entitled The Listening. The title track on the CD goes like this:

can I let the trees do the talking?
can I let the ground do the walking
can I let the sky fill what’s missing
can I let my mouth do the listening?

And then today, September 17, I was reading the proverb-of-the-day and I read this:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28

Listen twice as much as I speak. I’m gonna have to cut this short.

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I’ve crossed over.

The unmistakable and infallible wisdom of the internet has spoken:

estj1

estj2

2 for 2. I’ve crossed over to extraversion.

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my blog and Twitter: not biffles

plinko

Sadly, I’ve largely abandoned my post here at my blog. It’s not that I don’t have anything to blog about, though. My mind is perpetually filled with random, disorganized thought. Think of it as a modified game of Plinko (remember that?) where you drop the… round thing into a tube and it makes its way into one of several bins.

A blog post happens when one of those bins ends up being too full, and writing will be my way of processing and emptying that bin. Sometimes the $1000 bin fills up and you get a nice, quality post. Once in a very long while, the $10000 bin seems to be overflowing and then you get an epic post like this.

But at the same time, you can just as easily fill up a $0 bin… and make a post out of that. Those are usually thrown to the wayside, forgotten and run over by the storms of people that flock to your blog for one of those $10000 posts.

What’s the point? …maybe blogging is like a game of Plinko.

But the real culprit here is Twitter; truly, madly, deeply, I blame you.

Instead of waiting for those bins to fill up and overflow in a series of merely-acceptable blogposts, each bin is emptied as soon as one of those… round things (what are they called?!) falls in. And a tweet is born.

As a result, the currently favored method of relieving my repressed narcissism is no longer a well-thought post on my blog. These individual plinks (maybe that’s what you call them!) don’t have time to coalesce themselves into a well-written, interesting, informative, and slightly cynical series of paragraphs.

They are instead smattered into an unorganized, chaotic cesspool, known to us as Twitter.

Thank goodness.

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A starbucks haiku. (in Derek’s honor)

starbucks

starbucks iced coffee.
a tall… is not tall… at all.
…it is rather small.

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ma po tofu.

IMG_1192

sure it looks amazing, but it’s wayyyyyyyy too spicy. my stomach is paying the ultimate price.

I omitted the… chicken broth, salted black beans (where can i find this?!), substituted ground beef for ground pork, and substituted black pepper for szechuan pepper. And roughly doubled the recipe.

i’ll fix it next time, i promise.

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Not my own.

oceaneyes

I picked up (er, downloaded. off iTunes!) Owl City’s new album, Ocean Eyes, Tuesday morning at 12:01am. Yes, I stayed up and waited. I can safely say that if you’ve enjoyed any of Owl City’s previous airy, expansive melodies about the mystical tides and oceans from landlocked Minnesota, you’re going to love Ocean Eyes.

Plenty of happy, get-up-and-dance songs like Rainbow Veins and Hello Seattle (actually, Hello Seattle is on the new album. Twice. That’s how good it is.) from their old albums show their faces in Cave In and Dental Care (a happy, upbeat song about going to the dentist!). But there’s a good, sobering dose of reality too.

Track 7, a slow, heartfelt song entitled Meteor Shower. It’s a very quick song, lasting only 2 minutes 14 seconds, and everyone I’ve talked to about it says it ends much too soon. But it’s clearly the standout powerful and solemn track on an otherwise uplifting CD. The lyrics go,

I can finally see,
That you’re right there beside me,

I am my not own,
For I have been made new,
Please don’t let me go,
I desperately need you (x2)

And I was immediately reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (I had to look it up… I’m not that good):

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

And of 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

If Christ has truly paid the price for my sin and spared me from death, then I am truly not my own any longer; I cannot live for myself. I owe my life to Him who has redeemed for me, and I live for him. I exist to bring Him glory.

I am a new creation. I do not live for myself or for the world any longer, but only for Him.

And we very so desperately need God if we’re living for Him and only Him.

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sugar is tweet and so are you.

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