Sunday, December 27, 2009

the good fight (leaving song)

You fight the good fight don't ask me to stay
The sun's in your eyes but you don't look away
By your side I took the beating of a lifetime
So please don't mind
If my blood gets on your shirt
I'll get you a new one, get you a new one
One that's better than the first
Just don't go away when I need you the most
Leave me holding the rope, I don't yet have a grip
So what? I can't stand on my own
I'll admit that you are the better man

All I have to give I gave
Change the rules to better play your games
And this chain around my neck is wearing thin
Oh thin

Count me out of this round but not the race
I'm bruised but not beaten, worn but not weakened
Still got some fight in me yet
Seven years, and I'm not who I was when I started
If you would see last insufficiencies past, through this scarlet letter
Maybe I, maybe things would be different
I wish I could look you in the eye without hesitation

Oh I'm learning to walk without crutches
Oh I'm learning to love with a heart that is busted
So make a little room
Clear a little space if I stumble

Oh I'm learning to walk without crutches
Oh I'm learning to love with a heart that is busted
Find a little place
Any little space of my own

Friday, December 25, 2009

a charlie brown christmas

Charlie Brown:
I think there must be something wrong with me Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas I guess. I like getting presents, and sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.

You're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Full special on Hulu until the new year:

Friday, December 18, 2009

christmas presents

My Christmas gifts this year are photographic.

All finished.

Wrapped up, 99 cent wrapping paper FTW!

These are for me.

Nice frames are cool.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

mustard - last time

“I listen to the O&A show daily at work so I’ll give a little back story here. When they brought this guy on they had no idea he could sing. It was just going to be a radio bit promoting their upcoming “homeless shopping spree.” During the interview it came up that he has written some songs and could play guitar. So they went and got the man a guitar (he did not own one himself) and he proceeded to shock the hell out of everyone. No one expected him to be as good as he was. He played two other songs that he wrote that are kind of in the style of Dave Matthews or John Mayer, I would imagine that stuff will be online shortly.”


Monday, December 14, 2009

rainy days...

...please won't you stay?
(click for full size)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

i can't remember

Several years ago in a large city in the far West, rumors spread that a certain Catholic woman was having visions of Jesus. The reports reached the archbishop. He decided to check her out. There is always a fine line between the authentic mystic and the lunatic fringe.

"Is it true, ma'am, that you have visions of Jesus?" asked the cleric.

"Yes," the woman replied simply.

"Well, the next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins that I confessed in my last confession."

The woman was stunned. "Did I hear you right bishop? You actually want me to ask Jesus to tell me the sins of your past?"

"Exactly. Please call me if anything happens."

Ten days later the woman notified her spiritual leader of a recent apparition. "Please come," she said.

Within the hour the archbishop arrived. He trusted eye-to-eye contact. "You just told me on the telephone that you actually had a vision of Jesus. Did you do what I asked?"

"Yes, bishop, I asked Jesus to tell me the sins you confessed in your last confession."

The bishop leaned forward with anticipation. His eyes narrowed.

"What did Jesus say?"

She took his hand and gazed deep into his eyes. "Bishop," she said, "these are His exact words: 'I CAN'T REMEMBER.' "

-Brennan Manning, "The Ragamuffin Gospel"

ask for wonder

Several years before his death, a remarkable rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, suffered a near-fatal heart attack. His closest male friend was at his bedside. Heschel was so weak he was only able to whisper. "Sam," he said, "I feel only gratitude for my life, for every moment I have lived. I am ready to go. I have seen so many miracles during my lifetime." The old rabbi was exhausted by his effort to speak. After a long pause, he said, "Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and He gave it to me."
I asked for wonder, and He gave it to me. A Philistine will stand before a Claude Monet painting and pick his nose; a person filled with wonder will stand there fighting back the tears.

"Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of Your universe. Delight me to see how Your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to the Father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with Your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share in the wonder of it all."

-Brennan Manning, "The Ragamuffin Gospel"

Monday, December 7, 2009

the prince

The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing; and when men succeed in this they are always praised rather than condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes.
-Niccoló Machiavelli, "The Prince"
It's strange how a 500 year old book on Italian politics can be so accurate in describing human nature. I guess people don't change much over the centuries. I don't recommend this book unless you enjoy sifting through historical and political rhetoric for anything meaningful. Or you plan on becoming a dictator. I do feel kinda pretentiously smart reading it though.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from those fantastic "ideas" [about his own character and identity] and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. And this is the simple truth - that to live is to feel oneself lost. Whoever accepts this has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.

-Jose Ortega y Gasset, "The Revolt of the Masses"


Saturday, December 5, 2009


I just realized that approval and acceptance are my drugs of choice. I will never get enough to satisfy my hunger.

Friday, December 4, 2009

faith and works

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:27

If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:14-15

Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
2 John 1:8
If we have been saved by grace, not by works, how can there exist a concept of heavenly rewards according to earthly deeds? Why does scripture repeatedly refer to a rewards system based on what we do on earth? What is so reprehensible about barely escaping through the flames if the ultimate reward in heaven is God Himself? I thought that the worker who is hired at the end of the day is paid the same as the one hired in the morning.

My only concrete understanding of heaven is eternal fellowship with God, where worship exists without corruption nor fatigue nor apathy. And everyone in heaven participates, whether they entered by an inch or a mile. So why a rewards system? Will we stare jealously at our neighbor's house which is gilded with gold from our own which is gilded with silver? I cannot believe that heaven will contain such human fallacies. I believe our attentions will be so captivated by Glory that we will hardly notice ourselves, much less our surroundings.

Faith without deeds is dead, that much is understandable. Could these rewards be a motivator for the less initiated? The idea of a heavenly reward can and does drive many people to labor for God, even if it doesn't make any difference. But I can't believe that God would be so...manipulative. It's not consistent with His personality to create vestigial motivators. If good works do not come out of a desire for God, they are but dirty rags.

How can such a paradox, if not an outright contradiction, exist within scripture which is supposed to be infallible? The only way I can rationalize it is by arguing that life is paradoxical. We are walking contradictions. Shine a red light on a yellow scrap of paper and it will look red. Shine a green light on that same scrap and it will look green. (I think.) Only white light reveals true colors. It is important not to shelve our doubts, but to wrestle over them. God could have called his people whatever He wanted to, but he chose the name "Israel," which means "wrestles with God."

Please share your thoughts. Maybe our different colored flashlights will combine into something resembling white light.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

forgiven and loved

Tell me I’m forgiven and loved
‘Cause I hear it from the street corner priests
On how God is love and how man can be clean
But my joy has been on holiday
And my peace has almost passed away
Tell me I’m forgiven and free

Oh I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation
But I bought the lie I still have work to do
Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation
But there is no condemnation in You

Oh whisper to me now that it’s for real
‘Cause in the silence of these walls righteousness lost its appeal
Dirty deeds have done me in
Oh but that can’t stop the faithful friend
Giving mercy once again as You heal
Here it is I’m feeling it

Oh He died, He died to rectify my hopeless situation
And His blood commands my guilt to leave
Now on Calvary I stand
Empty pockets, open hands
Oh there is no condemnation for me

Child, you’re forgiven and loved
Child, you’re forgiven and loved
Child, you’re forgiven
And child, you are loved
Child, you’re forgiven and loved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the measure of a man

Is part of the measure of a man in his ability to soldier on indefinitely? To wear a pleasant face when situations are not pleasant? To ignore emotion when emotions beckon?

Is lacking stoicism a sign of weakness?

Answer me or I will have no reaction either way!

Monday, November 23, 2009

the apt

Getting acquainted with a new lens.

Hover bike!

Toys toys toys.


Finally have room to set all this stuff up.


Noise complaint machine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

something vs someone

It's so easy to find worth in what we have to offer instead of who we are. We strive for the qualities or achievements which allow us to fit in with different kinds of people. 'If I wear these clothes and drive this car, she will like me,' or 'If I am knowledgeable about this subject, they will respect me,' or 'If I don't meet these requirements, he will be so disappointed.' Colleges look for GPAs and extracurricular activities, employers look for achievements and experience, and friends look at everything else.

We are driven to make something of ourselves, but that ambition makes us only the sum of our accomplishments, it reduces a person to a résumé. Feeling productive and accomplished often becomes my idol. Every minute that passes idle seems like a minute wasted. Hard to enjoy living when life seems like a race to get everything done before the timer goes off (Iron Chef style).

We are not to live as plaques on a wall. I want to stop trying to be something and start trying to be someone. Someone show me how please.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

sail the sea

Wrote a new song earlier tonight sitting on my balcony thinking about Where the Wild Things Are. My balcony is pretty chill, just installed some mood lights. It's kinda loud too and I was using my laptop mic, so the audio sucks. Oh well, deal with it.

Oh I would sail the sea
Fight the ocean endlessly
To take back what belongs to me

The moon it glows
It’s gravity throws
The compass of my heart to where
An “X” will mark the spot and there

We could run around
We could build a home
We could laugh and play and jump for joy
Make a mess and walk away

These four walls
Do not a prison make
I’ll cut the bars and blow the doors
Sing the guard a song it goes like this
La la la

And he’ll let me free
Send me on my way
Clap his hands and stamp his feet
Tip his hat and say to me

“You should sail the sea
Fight the waves endlessly
I want you to forget about me.”

We have run around
We have built a home
We have laughed and played and jumped for joy
Made a mess and walked away

Now its time for bed
You sleepy heads
By the light of the rising moon
I can’t help but sing this tune
La la la

Friday, November 13, 2009

fix you

Spent some time trying to fix some pictures that were otherwise blurry/poorly lighted/uninteresting. Bad picture = art? I'm not sure. Here are some of my favorites in full res. See the rest here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

what men live by

"I knew before that God gives life to men, and desires them to live; but now I know far more. I know that God does not desire men to live apart from each other, and therefore has not revealed to them what is needful for each of them to live by himself. He wishes them to live together united, and therefore has revealed to them that they are needful to each other's happiness.

"I know now that people only seem to live when they care only for themselves, and that it is by love for others that they really live. He who has Love has God in him, and is in God- because God is Love."

And the Angel sang the glory of God, that the house trembled at his voice, and the roof parted asunder, and a pillar of fire shot up from earth to Heaven. Simon and his wife fell down with their faces to the ground; and wings burst forth from the Angel's shoulders, and he rose into Heaven.

And when Simon raised his eyes again, the house stood there as before, and in the house there was no one but his own dear family.

-Leo Tolstoy, What Men Live By

Friday, November 6, 2009

make music

Man these things look like fun.

Not really expecting anyone to care, but currently expanding effects pedal collection.


Morley Tremonti Wah
Morley Volume
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
Marshall Guv'nor Distortion (Classic)
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
DigiTech RV-7 Stereo Reverb

Any suggestions?

Monday, November 2, 2009

dust and discipleship

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
-John 8:31-32
Christian discipleship is a relationship of imitation and reproduction. To be a Christian is to be a “Little Christ.” We are ultimately disciples of Jesus, but, since the Twelve, we follow by proxy. Discipleship is to follow someone as they follow Christ. And there are as many ways to follow God as there are ways to interpret Scripture. A thousand people will express love a thousand different ways, none better or worse than another. We were created so uniquely for good reason.

To imitate any man so closely is to imitate their weaknesses as well as their strengths. To emulate their world view, their approach to devotion, their perspectives on doctrine, their lifestyle and their heart. By necessity, grace blankets men’s shortcomings to draw together imperfect people with incongruous hearts. But, if fortunate enough to be presented with a choice in the matter, be a disciple of someone with a similar heart. Even better, find someone who has the character and qualities that you want for yourself, and follow them so closely that the dust kicked up by their feet becomes a second skin.

I am having to live with a difficult decision in a similar vein, to leave a community which I love because of incongruous directions. Leaving these people whom I love very much leaves jagged edges and splinters in the rift. Aside from them, there is little left that retains me. This community is a hermit crab shell which I have outgrown. It was home to me and I will forever remember fondly of it, but it will never quite fit the way that it used to. My heart is resting on distant shores and new beginnings. Still looking for a shell that fits.

Friday, October 30, 2009


...are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better, but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly.

-Francis Chan, Crazy Love; Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

why are you striving

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it took you to catch them?" The businessman asked.

"Only a little while." The fisherman replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" The businessman asked.

"I have enough to support my family's needs." The fisherman said.

"But," The businessman asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?"

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, sir."

The businessman scoffed, "I have a Harvard MBA and could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats."

"Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York where you would run your expanding enterprise."

The fisherman asked, "But sir, how long will this all take?"

To which the businessman replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then, sir?"

The businessman laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become rich, you would make millions."

"Millions, sir? Then what?"

The businessman said slowly, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

what is peace corps

The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.

Since that time, more than 195,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.


I've more or less been accepted into the program. The recruiter nominated me for a math teaching position in Africa which is scheduled to leave next September. I don't have any details and plans can change at anytime. It's a two year commitment, 3 months in-country training and 24 months in the field, living among the people I will be serving. As I understand it, programs start with a group of volunteers training together, then dispersing into their service fields, maintaining contact with each other as needed until each feels more at home with the locals.

The full force of this commitment hasn't hit me yet, but I am pretty excited about it. Hard to imagine setting foot in Africa a year from now. But Peace Corps gives me a chance to address several burning desires that have yet been met by closed doors. If I walk through this door that is opening before me, I wonder if I will have to close it behind me. And I wonder how many more rooms I will have to walk through before reaching the end of the maze.

Monday, October 19, 2009

peace corps

I got accepted. Just got the call. Decent chance I'll be leaving for Africa to teach math this time next year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The difference between
The Lukewarm and the
Cold is that the Cold
Know they are missing
What the Lukewarm assume
They have.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

wind over sand

Biked to Venice Beach the other day in the late afternoon. It was so windy the sand was stinging my skin. Didn't think to bring my real camera, these are off my iPhone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

taylor swift cover

You (Don't) Belong With Me - Taylor Swift Cover

You're on the phone with your girlfriend, you're upset
She's going off about something that I said
'Cause you don't get my humor like I do
I'm in the room it's a typical Tuesday night
I'm listening to the kind of music you don't like
And you'll never know my story like I do

Cuz you wear short skirts, I wear T-shirts
You're cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers
Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find
That what you're looking for has been gone a long time

If you could see that I just don't understand you
Been here all along, so why can't you see?
You don't belong with me, you don't belong with me

Walkin' the streets with you and your stone washed jeans
What was I thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing on a park bench, thinking to myself
This isn't easy

And you've got a smile that could light up this whole town
I haven't seen it in a while since I brought you down
You say were fine, I know us better than that
What am I doing with a girl like that?

You wear high heels, I wear sneakers
You're cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers
Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find
That what you're looking for has been gone a long time

If you could see that I just don't understand you
Been here all along, so why can't you see?
You don't belong with me
Standing by and waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know, baby
You don't belong with me

Oh I remember you drivin' to my house
In the middle of the night
When you know you're about to laugh
I'm the one who makes you cry
And I know your favorite songs
And you tell me about your dreams
Think I know where you belong
Think I know it's not with me

Can't you see that I'm the one who doesn't love you
Been here all along, so why can't you see?
You don't belong with me

Standing by and waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know, baby
You don't belong with me, you don't belong with me
You don't belong with me
Have you ever thought just maybe
You don't belong with me, you don't belong with me

Friday, September 25, 2009

headaches and heartaches

We are willing to endure headaches over what our hearts ache for.

Some things are worth the trouble. Some are not.

It is necessary to evaluate what is important and what isn't, and trim the fat.

This is not a quarter-life crisis.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i've moved

First night in the new place. 5 miles south of UCLA. Smells like paint. Come visit!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

bear and racoon

The original by Taking Back Sunday:

Monday, September 14, 2009

after my heart

"Paul left New Orleans and made it, on his own, as far as Houston, which is where he ran out of money. He got a job at an oil refinery, walking along the top of tanker cars, checking valves to make sure they were closed securely, climbing the ladders of vertical pipe at the end of the evening to look out over the landscape of smokestacks and yellow light, to breathe the sulfur and salt and humidity as a way of noting its human beauty, but all this was done in a longing for his home, the way a man will hold the woman he has while thinking of the woman he loves."

"Charles Dickens tells us every heart is a profound mystery to the heart beating nearest it, and I am starting to understand him. Watching the dark towns pass gives them a new significance. During the day the roads are clustered with cars at stoplights, but tonight the thick, dark lines simply separate one neighborhood from another, one socioeconomic group from the one it once was. And it is odd for me to consider the thousands of sleeping people, quiet in their homes, their clocks ticking on the walls, the dogs breathing at the feet of their masters' beds, and to realize there are six billion people living in six billion settings. These homes house families we dont know. So many sleeping people, all of them spirit, bound by flesh, held up by bone and trapped in time."

"I confess I wanted to believe life was bigger, larger than my presuppositions. Out there under the cosmos, out in the desert of Texas, beneath those billion stars and the umbrella of pitch-black eons of nothingness, on top of that hill, I started wondering if life was something different than I thought it was, if there was some kind of raging beauty a person could find, that he could get caught up in the why of life. And I needed to believe beauty meant something, and I needed God to step off His self-help soapbox and be willing to say something eternally significant and intelligent and meaningful, more meaningful than the parroted lines from detergent commercials. I needed God to be larger than our free-market economy, larger than our two-for-one coupons, larger than our religious ideas... The temperature has dropped and a layer of moisture soaks the ground. Brainless june bugs make loud, fast dives at a light on the wall of the rest area. One broken-winged bug struggles on the sidewalk. I squash him under my boot and say softly, as if to myself, "All your questions are now answered."

-Donald Miller, "Through Painted Deserts"

Friday, September 11, 2009


I had to write an essay for an application, describing a cross-cultural experience. I hope it's alright to post it...
In 2005, I spent the summer between my third and fourth years of college in China and Mongolia. VSET brings American college students to teach conversational English to high school and college students in several Asian countries. Much of the focus is on building relationships that last beyond the two months of the program. My team of eight had two teaching sessions in addition to a week of training and a week of debriefing with the other teams.

Our first session was spent in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaan Bataar. Other than some basic language and culture lessons, I knew nothing about the isolated land we were flying into. Adjusting was difficult at first, but I quickly fell in love with my students. Their strong cultural identity and warmth as a people was inspiring. I spent almost every waking hour with my students, doing what they enjoyed doing, eating what they ate, and even seeing some of their homes and meeting their families. A tearful goodbye at the train station sent us to Bejing.

I am ethnically Chinese though I was born and raised in California. This was my first time in China, but I expected the culture shock to be less jarring. In many ways it was more comfortable, but I felt no connection to the people. I had assumed that because I understood the culture, I would be able to integrate easily and connect naturally. But I realized that I identified more with the American side of my upbringing than I did with the Chinese side. I felt superior.

One afternoon, we struck up a conversation with a graduate student who had spent a semester studying abroad in Ohio. After talking for a while, he started opening up about his battle with loneliness. He complained about having incessant pain in his hand and would clench his forearm constantly. At one point in the conversation he removed his watch and revealed four lines across his wrist that had been hidden by the wristband. My expression must have betrayed my confusion because my teammate leaned over to me and whispered, “He tried to kill himself.” At that moment, my pride melted. I had never met anyone who attempted suicide. All of a sudden, it was no longer about me. I wished that I had some magical solution for him, but I could do nothing but be a friend. We met a few more times before we had to leave Beijing and I haven’t heard from him since. I will never forget him.

The remainder of the Beijing session was much easier. I was no longer hindered by my identity crisis and I was able to see the students for who they were on the inside. I left the States thinking I would see how different the rest of the world was. I returned realizing that walls of culture and language and wealth divide hearts that have the same fears, struggles, ambitions, and joys. We are one world.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

ok pics

My faves. (click to enlarge)



thermal activity

another sky picture

More here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

back from wyoming

Back from Yellowstone.

San Jose, Milpitas, Pacifica, San Francisco, Fresno, Frazier Park, Jackson. All in the last couple weeks.

Every town has its own flavor. How do people end up living where they do? I guess most do not get to choose, but what if you could? If you could spin a globe and point, where would your finger stop?

Pics coming, here's a preview:

Buffalo Crossing

Monday, August 24, 2009

magic for monkeys

Okay, a lot of weird stuff comes out of Japan, but this is just awesome. And adorable.

it's not that hard to lead an army of clones

except no two soldiers think alike...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

weekend update

So I went up to Norcal this weekend and my car stranded me right before the Grapevine, 80 miles out of LA, at midnight last night. I got into work today at like 1:30, right before a meeting that I was unprepared for. Car is more or less okay. Details and pics later...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

free time is an interesting thing...

...when we don't have it we lust for it and when we do have it we're not sure what to do with it.

One evening last summer, about 8 or 9 o'clock on a weekday, I went out to my building's patio with an electric guitar. My fingers found two chords that sounded interesting together and the sky reminded me of the stars I've seen in less light polluted places. I started to string together some words.

This song came out over the next couple of days and I recorded it so I wouldn't forget it. Then I forgot it. I found it again last week and messed around with it. It's rough, I think you can hear Elliot's voice in the beginning if you turn it up. I experimented with drums in Fruity Loops, virtual amplifiers, crappy synth playing, and T-Pain style autotune. Enjoy!

Also, I realized I haven't taken any real pictures in a while, so I made a quick video for it last night.

The stars are out tonight
The skies are filled with light

Galaxies come and sit within reach of these fingertips

As I wander

As I forget everything

And the sound of silence overwhelms me

Can you hear the wind echo like thunder

As cars drive by they sing their song

Spirit come and stand beside me

Maybe I'll die

Maybe I'll die

Maybe I'll die on this patio tonight


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

concrete river video and story

Full lyrics two posts down.

The concept for this song came to me two summers ago while I was living in Cerritos and commuting to work by bike, train, and skateboard. It's about 4 miles along the San Gabriel River from my parent's house to the train station. If you haven't seen the rivers in LA, they are massive slabs of concrete shaped like a V to channel water from inland to the the Pacific. Sometimes after a rain the water level rises, but most of the time it is just a trickle. They usually have a walkway running along either side with entrances at various overpasses and neighborhoods.

I would bike with my skateboard strapped to my backpack from my house to the train station, ride the Greenline to El Segundo and skateboard the half-mile to my office. I remember learning how to slow myself down after 5 whirlwind years as an undergrad. Learning how to adjust to life in the real world. Learning how to enjoy the journey.

And it was from my bicycle, along the river, that I watched the sun rise and the sun set every day. That river ran along poorer backyards and horse stables and industrial junkyards. Over the handlebars I saw a different universe hidden from suburban Los Angeles. I saw taggers trying to make their mark, couples stealing a moment of privacy, families fishing, cowboys giving their horses a workout, and the dregs of society trying to keep warm away from prying eyes.

It was a strange mix of worlds, but one that seemed to fit together somehow. It was separated from the ambitions and judgments and vanities of normal life. It was different. It was peaceful. I started writing about that concrete river two years ago but gave up until this song came out recently.

Does knowing more of the story behind a song make it more meaningful or would you rather come up with your own interpretation?

Saturday, August 1, 2009


My friend lives in a cloud overlooking San Diego. Dunno how to post pic from iPhone.

This was from Coldplay a couple weeks ago. This was their song "Yellow."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

concrete river

Light shines through my window
Is it sunlight or artificial

Light shines through my window
Is it sunlight or artificial

This concrete river is a bed of nails for me
And the cold black asphalt will hold my bones for all to see
And if I drown in the middle of the city can my soul I keep
Or will the glow of headlights show the way to sleep on golden streets

When the chips are down
And luck's run out
When all hope is gone
I'll always have you

I much prefer the nighttime to the day
Because in the dark they won't remark how far I've gone astray
We can stand on even ground and maybe on my toes for just one
Second I can pretend I am just as good as you

This concrete river is a bed of nails for me
And the cold black asphalt will hold my bones for all to see
And if I drown in the middle of the city can my soul I keep
Or will the glow of headlights show the way to sleep on golden streets

Light shines through my window
Is it sunlight or artificial?

Friday, July 24, 2009

a departure

I'm not sure where my head was at yesterday, but this is what fell out of it. I think I might have ripped off Flight of the Conchords.

Today I start my rap career
Traded my guitar for some iced out gear
Said bye to my ma and pa
A gangster don't need them at all
Got money dead presidents is all I need

I'll leave this world behind
To see what I can find
In the rap game

First thing's first gonna need some killer beats
Wonder what Timbaland's up to this week
Hey dude that's all played out
Gonna have to do this myself
I'd sell my soul for a number one

I'll leave this world behind
To see what I can find
In the rap game

Next come the things I'll rap about
What are those things they rap about?
Money and power, women and fame
Guess I'll have to watch Scarface again
That's just something us gangsters gotta do

[guitar solo]

What was that? It was the guitar solo
What do you mean rap songs don't have guitar solos?
I guess I have a lot to learn
I'll have to do it while earn
A couple of Grammys on my way to being a star

I'll leave this world behind
To see what I can find
In the rap game

(sorry for the terrible beat-boxing, it's my first day)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

meeting harry potter

Haha this is great!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

new song

I like my new microphone.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

3rd street promenade

Played at 3rd street last night. Didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be pretty fun. Earned $1.50 and a couple of compliments. Not bad for a half hour's work on a Wednesday evening. I'll be back.

Monday, July 13, 2009

a broken and contrite heart

Last time I spoke at UCLA, the topic was the kind of worship that God desires from us; worship that defies efficiency and practicality. Continuing from there, this message is about the kind of heart that God desires from us; a heart that is broken and contrite.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice,
or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God,
you will not despise.
In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51:16-19
Some background: This psalm was written by King David after he commits adultery with Bathsheba and murders her husband. It is an expression of his repentance before God. By the law of Moses, when someone sins, he is to slaughter an animal that is without defect, which atones for the sin and admonishes the man. The idea is that the animal, which is clean, takes on the sin of the man, who is dirty. The lamb or goat or bull is made dirty so that the man can be clean. The animal is then slaughtered to pay the penalty for the sin. This idea carries through to Jesus, who is offered as a clean sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. So if a goat takes on one sin for one person, Jesus takes on all sins for all men. Same idea.

But what King David says here turns that idea on its head. Even though God specifically says that one sin can be paid for by one goat, David says that’s not what pleases God. He’s not saying that dead animals are bad, because verse 19 says that there will definitely be dead animals. He says that God does not take pleasure in that kind of sacrifice unless it comes with a heart of repentance. So what David does is he falls to his knees before God and begs for forgiveness. As king, he did not have to do this. He could have justified himself and silenced anyone who objected. He could have had a priest quietly kill a goat and wiped his conscience clean. But not only does he publicly admit that he sinned, he publicly humbles himself before his kingdom. This is tremendous humility! If it doesn’t sound tremendous, when was the last time a President responded to a mistake in the same way?

So two kinds of sacrifices are presented here; one that is pleasing to God and one that isn’t. The sacrifices of men are burnt offerings and slaughtered bulls. But the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a humble heart. So even though God instructs them to offer external sacrifices, Israel knew what He was really looking for.

An even more theatrical demonstration of this happens earlier with Abraham and Isaac. Before Israel existed as a nation, the Lord promises Abraham a son through whom all of Israel will be born. God delivers Isaac but tells him to kill him as a sacrifice. Somehow, Abraham obeys, but I’m sure that as he gathered the wood and traveled to the sacrifice place, his heart was shattered. Why would God deliver a miracle and then take it from him? How would Israel be born through Isaac if Isaac was dead? God is cruel! But of all the confusion and anger and chaos swirling around in Abraham’s head, one thing was clear and allowed him to obey: It is God who gives and God who takes away. His heart was humble and contrite before the Lord despite his circumstance, or maybe because of it. And as he reached out his hand to slay his son, God stops him. It was never about the act of sacrifice, it was about the heart behind it. God wanted to bring Abraham to a place where his heart was broken and his will was submitted. That’s the heart that pleased God and from that heart, Israel was born.

Yet by the time the New Testament is written, Israel seems to have lost sight of this. Jesus continually rebukes the leaders of Jewish society for their hypocrisy.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Matthew 23:25-28
The Pharisees had taken the law and run with it. They prided themselves on doing the right things and having the right words to say. They made sure that they followed the rules to the letter. They probably had a whole stable of goats to sacrifice just in case they messed up. They were by all human accounts perfect Jewish citizens. But their bones were dead men’s bones. For all they knew of the Torah, for all their prayers and offerings, for all their sacrifices, they did not know God at all. They had the stories of David and Abraham memorized, but they did not know humility and brokenness. It didn’t matter how well they obeyed the law, their hearts were stone, and by their hearts they were condemned.

So why would God even give us those laws? I think the answer lies in our weakness. Why does every country on earth have laws? Everyone knows that murder is bad, that stealing is bad, that driving too fast on the freeway is bad. So why have speed limits if everyone is going to speed anyway? Because without written rules and punishments, we can justify anything and everything. Without speed limits and speeding tickets, I’m sure I can find a reason to drive 120 on the 405. But even with laws, people speed anyway, right? Yes they do, but nothing brings about a broken spirit and a contrite heart faster than flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror. The law exists to remind us that we are sinners, and that we need forgiveness.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Romans 3:20

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
Galatians 3:24
The laws that God has given us exist for our benefit, but we cannot live for them alone. God’s law exists to lead us to repentance and humility. But it is much easier to live according to a set of rules than it is to live in brokenness and humility. It is much easier to be a Pharisee than it is to be a David. I recently realized how tricky legalism can be. It snuck up on me while I was trying to do the right thing and all of a sudden I realized I had put myself on a pedestal. But like He is so good at doing, God brought me crashing down from that high place.

And that’s where God wants us. He wants us to be aware of our sin and He humbles us every time we lose sight of Him. He does this not because He is cruel, but because He loves us. He knows that in order for us to fully experience His grace, we need to be broken. And He is willing to cause us pain if it leads to a humble and contrite heart, because that heart leads us to Him. Nobody likes to be broken, but when we understand why he breaks us, we stop being afraid of it. We might even start praying for it. And from experience, that prayer rarely goes unanswered.

[WHEC, 7-12-2009] welcome..

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

new beginnings II

City of Santa Monica Street Performer Permit