Wednesday, May 31, 2006

on the road: figure eight [1.0]

this january i unveiled a series of new features to the 17 point scale. one of these ideas was a segment called 'on the road reviews.' i explained that:

these posts will hopefully bear the fruit of my most dangerous new idea (and perhaps my sole idea) concerning that i-5 stretch of verdant wasteland between seattle and portland. the recipe for my new idea is really quite simple; in fact, it only takes a few key ingredients: one or more full length music albums, a device with which to play said cds, a pen, and a post-it note pad. the stickies that survive the ride shall then serve as the song-by-song foundation for my 'on the road reviews.' as an aside, i suddenly (as in a few minutes ago) became intensly interested in origins. that is, where did this idea come from? (i don't know). why did i choose this title? (to begin, i did not intend hurtle my way into the company of jack kerouac
or willy nelson. in fact, having never finished 'on the road' or listened to the verses of 'on the road again,' i can't even claim an artistic birthright to their sense of these words, so there is no connection. none. i liked the aliteration; that's it).

joel's blog and an occasional article in paste magazine is about my only exposure to the world of legitimate music reviews. still, from what i've seen, my vision of a track-by-track album analysis seems rather unique. this surprises me. maybe my method is overkill, perhaps it's too unpolished, but the overall effect seems like an interesting blend of analysis and subjectivity.

in any case, despite all the hoopla that surrounded my initial announcement of on the road reviews, it's been almost six months and i have yet to post a single on the road review. frankly, i'm a little hesitant to embark upon this path. mostly i'm afraid that it will prove too exhaustive and uninteresting for readers that lack the album that happens to be my flavor of the day. and, unfortunately, i obviously can't post links to the songs that i discuss. also, these thoughts are scribbled on little scraps of paper as i drive from portland to seattle: they tend to be rather scattered. thus, i'm open to feedback. here's a sample of how an on the road review might read:

figure eight by elliot smith

1. 'you're just somebody that i used to know.' the chorus says it all. an implicit indictment of the 'you.' the song attacks her but does so oh so pleasantly. still, at first listen, the song is blessedly ambiguous. we can't quite swallow what elliot's preaching; we only half believe that she's really 'just somebody' that he used to know...

2. 'something's happening. don't speak to soon...son of sam?' i like the piano. i like the phrase 'acting under orders from fall down.' i don't know what the song is saying, but i like the succession of parallel-looking words like 'under' and 'order.' moreover, this line seems like a microcosm for the album: to some degree, his words take us down (under) and then up (above) and then down again (down).

8. "stay with me / hanging around at the lost and found...don't go home, angelina...i'm alone, most of the time / but that's okay..." there's a constant sense of 'it seems this way.' nothing is concrete. also, the song (and album) seems to shift places between happiness and sadness, companionship and solitude, staying or leaving. the main lyric is somehow ironic. and the song has a weird unconnected 30 second instrumental postlude.

10. another indictment of a girl: "it's all about taking the easy way out for you i suppose..." elliot smith seems pretty good at conveying a bitter yet seemingly logical analysis of his ex's. he paints a familiar picture (i.e., as someone with ex's, his lyrics and tone resonate with me) that somehow manages to remain uncliche.

more? stop this insanity?

andrew david 'free advertising' yelapa, mexico.

a gift for whitney

for her birthday, i promised to give beth's roommate, whitney, a picture from mexico. we looked over some of my photos together, but she wanted me to make the final decision. i thought this would be a great picture for her room -- whitney really likes both beth and i. when i have some time, i'll make beth and i a separate photoshop layer, lighten us up, and send this baby to the printer. whitney will be speechless. because the picture is for whitney, i recently removed it from the website. if you want to ask her for it, here is the citation: angela boyd. "andrew's most romantic moment in mexico" puerto vallarta, mexico.

Monday, May 29, 2006

a pg-13 post [3]

[previously on the 17 point scale]
then, momentarily satisfied, it slithers to the synapse machine and taps out a quick command to the rest of the brain: n-o-s-t-a-l-g-i-a. beth sighs...

[not the conclusion of a pg-13 post]
something about this house seems familiar, and not in an everyday-my-boyfriend-lives-here-so-i-make-occasional-yet-obligatory-visits kind of way.
despite a blizzard of memory calisthenics, she can't quite place it. stepping over some obituaries and a front page or two, beth makes her way to my couch.

i greet her with a kiss, coke zero, and grilled cheese sandwich. “that was some sigh,” i say. and it was, but let's face it, i'm a guy: my mind is about a million miles from everything but that kiss.

it was a little like kissing an elf. don't laugh, i don't mean a cuddly holiday elf. beth might look stunning in leotards and a floppy green hat, and her will ferrellian enthusiasm for christmas is legendary, but there wasn't even a hint of peppermint mocha on her breath. no, this was an altogether different kind of elf. this was a salt-sniffing, sea-dreaming elf.

beth snaps open her coke....

[to be continued...]

andrew david. 'an elf and some arches' puerto vallarta, mexico.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

les miserables

tonight i skimmed part of practical photography while strolling through barnes and noble. reading that magazine kind of erodes my sense of the spontaneity of photography. the editors strongly encourage photographers to plan their photo sessions or, worse yet, to stage their photographs. this makes pratical sense, but somehow i'm afraid that it dulls the creative juices and cheapens the magic of a good photograph. oh, well.

i also saw les miserables. if you ask me about it, i might tell you some things. otherwise, i'm going to bed.

andrew david 'quintessential picture of a donkey and a palm tree' yelapa, mexico.

Monday, May 22, 2006

the first essence [5]

here is the seventh poem from my unpublished anthology Poems Written in Brady's UCORE Notes at 3AMish ca 2001:

Theater of Hate
I bite it
At you.

beth and i are considering a cross-country road trip to attend danny warren's wedding. hoping to secure lodgings in spokane, i contacted the original inspiration for these poems, brady hatfield. brady seemed optimistic, but spokane is just the first pit stop; danny's wedding is in saskatoon, which means, according to brady, they might as well get married on the moon. that's a lot of driving. unfortunately, today's poem is not about weddings or driving. i'm afraid that might be a bit too sentimental. therefore, i have selected a poem that is perhaps the most raw of the anthology. it is a poem with teeth. it bristles in a way that the reader can't quite explain. with its economical style, the poem bypasses the analytical matter of the brain and races straight for that ancient primordial throne of anger. Theater of Hate is certainly not my favorite poem in the anthology, but it is the most dangerous. For more information concerning this poetry, please refer to my post entitled 'the first essence [1]' or other poems from this anthology (simply search 'first essence' in my blog).

beth the s.o. 'showering in the jungle.' yelapa, mexico.

i wish i had taken this picture. i really like the contrast of light colors on the left and the dark, almost silhouttey, figure on the right. and i love the two characters of water: the spray and the cascading drip from my face. and she captured a great facial expression; i'm not sure what it means, but it's certainly interesting. still, in this case i think i'd prefer to take a shower than take a picture of someone taking a shower, because it was sooooooooo cooooool to shower out in the open jungle!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

duncan and driscoll

a while ago i almost posted something like this:

my girlfriend and i happen to be huge fans of david james duncan. his book 'the brothers k' is nearly a perfect novel. in any case, last month he visited seattle, promoting his new book God laughs and plays: churchless sermons in response to the preachments of the fundamentalist right.

during the last few weeks i've been meaning to share about the brilliance and so-so-ness of duncan's visit. my experience with authors has recently been like watching ray and walk the line in quick eye-blink succession. in the space of two weeks, i heard both anne lamott and duncan--two quasi-christian, anti-bush authors who use their talent to push political agendas. duncan (and lamott) had good things to say, but i suspect that i'm something of a purist. give me fiction, i say, screw politics.

my response to these authors is similar to attending a service at mars hill church. this trendy yet word-based church is an odd phenomena in seattle: it's growing. it's growing so much that following a 8:30am service in the ballard sanctuary (the first of the day), pastor mark driscoll's voice is thrown into the back of a van (on dvd, of course) and driven thirty minutes north to a 9:45am service. all told there are seven services between these two locations. now, pastor mark's voice has cool things to say. driscoll seems dedicated to preaching straight from the text. however, he also seems to have pet issues. i can't recall a sermon where he didn't refer to gender roles--a man does this, a woman does this. personally, i teeter-totter back and forth in my opinion of gender and the church, but week after week i don't need someone like driscoll jumping on the teeter-totter with me. give me the gospel, i say, screw gender.

okay, i know: i'm insane (aggggggahawwwwwwwwwaaa!), but david james duncan has become a literary (and liberal) mark driscoll.

ummm...anyway, duncan also read some really interesting passages. and, to his credit, it totally makes sense that he writes about his passions. i really should shut up and applaud his efforts.

andrew david 'shaman for hire' yelapa, mexico. there's no connection between pastor mark driscoll and this shaman. while driscoll drinks beer i doubt he chews peyote or practices ancient huichol customs. also, this list was for a sign-up sheet for one-on-one healing; despite the title, i don't think people actually had to pay the shaman for his services. in any case, it was a wee bit odd staying in the same jungle as mr. shaman. the thing that i really like about this picture is the cork and other periphereal items. i think that they give the picture a lot more character.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

the da vinci code

this weekend everyone's going to be talking about the rain and the da vinci code. i'll save the rain for another day. since i'm still a bit bitter from yesterday's blogging experience, i'm not going to bother with writing; i'm just going to hawk a list of thoughts:

the good
1. the movie raises some intriguing theological issues.
2. it's fun to see mainstream seattlelites watching a film that references the nicene council or other fourth century fragments of christian history.
3. for that matter, the movie makes you think, 'gosh, does that jive with what i learned in christian history with the evil dr. ferreiro?' in other words, it almost makes one seek further learning. almost. despite the da vinci code, my christian history text books are still gathering dust...
4. no sex, (almost) no distracting love story, no swearing, no man-eating alligators
5. there are moments where audrey tatou (aka amelie) is cute--not necessarily physically, just in her french mannerisms.

the bad
1. there's too much crammed into this movie. things move unnaturally fast (it happens all in one day) and seem to lack sophistication or development. the pacing just didn't give me a chance to jump in and experience the action for myself.
2. despite tom hanks' supposed versatility as an actor, i don't think he adds much to this role. he doesn't play it bad, but he doesn't play it particularly good. perhaps this is because the film's dialogue is chiefly composed of one-liners and cheesy filler. we never learn anything about these characters -- what makes them tick? WHO are they? -- except for their tragic pasts. moreover, hanks' historian fellow appears to have confused himself with the freaky girl from the ring two.
3. sean (aka msn) tells me that thousands and thousands of americans take dan brown's fiction for fact. i wonder whether that will be true of the movie. in my opinion, the plot had the requisite number of coincidences and lucky escapes for an ordinary action movie. in other words, there were times that i consciously had to suspend my sense of reality. since i was already skeptical of the theological issues in the film, this typical action movie paradigm may have further wounded my ability to swallow all of the artsy/spiritual clues. but it was an interesting ride.
4. ...except when i got confused. at the moment i'm teeter-tottering between saying that the film was too mysterious and not mysterious enough. what i mean is that i don't think it would make a very good poker player; it showed its cards at some of the wrong times. it's tough to explain what i mean without spoiling the plot, but i think the film fails to clearly differentiate between the two key mysterious groups that shadow hanks and tatou.
5. this will make no sense if you don't know the da vinci code's premise. i might be missing something, but it seems like everyone in the film has a distorted view of the theological consequences of the grail. the movie's vision of the grail would lead to serious philosophical questions, but all of the characters seem to think that the nature of the grail also reflects the nature of Jesus. that is, the movie tries to wrestle with the question, 'is Jesus human or God? does it matter?' and it seems to think that the nature of the grail will answer those questions. i may be missing something, but establishing Jesus's divinity or lack thereof based upon the nature of the grail seems like a major (and fairly obvious) logical flaw. so why are all these characters stressing out? :)
6. i think the film wants to preach a gospel of peace and gender equality. it tries to raise mary magadelen to mother mary heights and to provide some kind of link between women and salvation. something like that. anyway, in this context, i thought that it was funny that the female protagonist hardly solves anything in this movie while hanks--the guy--is again and again the hero of the night.

the ordinary
1. ultimately this film is entertaining. it may even make you think a bit. but, grinch that i am, i felt no need to join our theater as they clapped through the first few credits.

andrew david 'a clue' mismaloya, mexico.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

blogging sucks

i hate blogging.

okay, maybe i just hate writing stories.

well, i probably just hate writing ongoing stories for my blog. i hate that i only have forty minutes to turn a phrase and conceive a plot. i hate playing scrabble with my sentences while battling the clock (i.e., my bedtime) and chatting with my roommate.

beth the s.o. 'google sucks.' seward, alaska.

that's right, i hate google and every billion dollar grossing gimics
they throw our way. mark just downloaded their new google screensaver; guess what. it sucks! and, as you will soon realize, their picture hosting program (hello) and blog server ( also suck. if things were working properly, you'd see that this is a picture of me (actually, despite google's suckiness, if you click the stupid little icon, you should still see the picture). i'm humbly laughing as beth takes a picture of me and my amazing dam, but you can bet that i'm not laughing now. laughter sucks, and it makes me angry.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

real life gets in the way of blogging again

monday: lost two basketball games, 7-11, to nathan; watched 24
tuesday: celebrated beth's new job at tuta bella; watched 24
wednesday: barbeque with mark?
thursday: see the da vinci code
friday: hear bach at st. james
saturday: not sure. possible church dinner.
sunday: not sure. possible compline.

andrew david 'a not-so-photogenic cat' yelapa, mexico.

andrew david 'stray cats aren't fire proof' yelapa, mexico. these pictures really stink, BUT i thought it was quite shocking that the cat was so startled by my nikon and i that he fled through the fire. by the way, i hope these pictures load, they seem to be having some difficulty.

Monday, May 15, 2006

back page: notes from underground

notes from underground by fyodor dostoevsky

"starts slow, ends fast. sometimes as i drown in the underground intellectual rants, i wonder if there's anything to these tirades that i read over and over again, searching wildly for some meaning. powerful soliloquy. drama."

as the title might suggest, notes from underground is a rather slim work. still, it's a bit of a puzzle. in fact, i might have to titrate down my daily dose of risperidone if i hope to empathize with dostoevsky's narrator. ah, yes. this is what i love about russian literature: the unsettling character sketches of the lonely and less than lucid. maybe i'm with modest mouse and steve van selus on this one: "i like songs about drifters [e.g., crazy russian blokes], books about the same / they both seem to make me feel a little less insane."

in any case, i'm back from nyc. i promise to share photos from my visit to the big apple soon. it was a blast! matt and jacinda are truly gifted at sharing their lives (and city) with others. they are amazing hosts.

sooooo...i've got a lot of great things planned for the 17 point scale (i.e., don't laugh, but i have several blog drafts in progress), but i might be a bit slow in uploading those changes...

andrew david. 'mysterious bathroom guest.' yelapa, mexico.

this bugger is apparently known as a canclo.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

a 17 point scale absence

i'm going to nyc this weekend to visit matt and jacinda. hoooray!

andrew david 'bird and boat' yelapa, mexico.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

united 93

beth and i saw united 93 tonight. one might think that a post-9/11 film might be a great date movie, but i'm here to say that despite the nearly empty theater, the atmosphere was a bit too somber for making out. and obviously date movies are only worthwhile if there is kissing. still, i would have liked to see a couple more couples turn out to see this film. after all, it's only been a week since opening day – i'm a little surprised that beth and i got two rows to ourselves for such an important movie.

in any case, you can read good reviews elsewhere. in short, i don't see how someone could have made a better film about this tragedy. united 93 was poignant without being preachy; it was touching without being (overly) dramatic. perhaps the greatest testament to the emotional punch of this film is that our audience of 20 left the theater silently. indeed, the hush reminded me of a maundy thursday service or compline at st. mark's. it was a holy quiet.

andrew david 'five pictures' yelapa, mexico. (yes, i know. it's a little odd to include pictures of a mexican cemetery in a post about a US historical film. still, they seemed somehow appropriate. also, aesthetically i didn't feel they were worth a post of their own. by the way, i doubt you find many pictures of the yelapa cemetery elsewhere; it's a little off the beaten path.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

NEWS!!! (and the end of holy week)

i have been promoted!

today, may 1, marked my first day as a (or the) full-time editor for the MIRECC (Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center). it may even be my first day as an adult: my first day in an actual career. whoohoo!

in other news, beth is also starting a new job. as of may 15 she will be the coordinator for SPU's MFA in writing. congratulations beth!

(I will continue 'a pg-13 post' in a future posting)

andrew david 'ascension' puerto vallarta, mexico.

don't skip this picture! especially if your name is mari and you really loved my easter post. in a maundy thursday post, i presented a close-up image of the land-locked fellow. the portrait seemed to communicate a sense of pure horror (perhaps related to the crucifixion). then, in an easter post, i included a photo of the same triangle man that somehow communicated an entirely different perspective--it highlighted the praise-like position of his outstretched arms (perhaps related to the resurrection). i was concerned with simultaneously illustrating the transformative power of photography and the easter season. now, i have posted a final picture, which may finally tell the whole story.

to be honest, when i first saw these statues, they gave me the creeps, but given the current title and context, two other interpretations strike me as particularly fitting. the children on the ladder represent beth and i. triangle man--God--is encouraging, perhaps even commanding, us to venture upward. it's a ladder of life, with each rung representing another step in our earthly destiny. to some, this may seem like a sickly optimistic vision of life, but what can you expect, i just got a new job! instead of moving side-to-side in the grown-up world of jobs, i actually feel like my work-life is on an upward course.

but life is more than the day-to-day grind of the nine to five. likewise, this picture may suggest something a bit more transcendental. however, on my own i am afraid that i lack the language to make this message clear. andrew, beth, a ladder, and a triangle-headed God are curiously like the divine dance of the trinity, i can only pull the pieces together by using a distinctly christian lingo.

and here is my attempt: this picture represents the fruition of the gospels. God is calling us to resurrection life. he is urging us to accept christ's redemptive gift and live here on earth, here on the ladder. sure, there is an empty space at the rainbow's end, a moment where the ladder ends and we finally climb up into the son. but like christ, we must first make our homes here in this broken world. indeed, i think this picture might be the final, most poignant of my holy week posts--it is a picture for all year, all life 'round.