Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sufjan Stevens Concert

Sufjan Stevens in concert was what I thought it would be, and it wasn’t. He’d like that answer.

One thing was clear after listening to his music and his short monologues between songs, Sufjan is in a stage of purgation. My guess is that he’s dealing with some messy stuff in his past or in his present, which comes out in his music. It’s significantly darker than his earlier material, and I’d say even the brighter parts of it are not the hope I hear in previous albums.

“If anyone came here to listen to me play the banjo, they can see me after the show. There’s a money-back guarantee.” Those were his words towards the end of the concert. At least he was aware.

The concert was almost entirely any work he did in the past two albums, and really just “Age of Adz” (which I learned at the concert is pronounced odds, not ads). If anyone has listened to this album, they’ll notice a dramatic shift to synthesizers with a heavy electronic sound. I don’t mind this, and I don’t mind his older material, but it is a shift, and I’m sure we all had to change our Sufjan paradigms when we heard it. The concert was a visible form of this shift.

Two strong points about it.

The videos played during the songs. These were wonderful. The most memorable was the multicolored sea plant that grew from the bottom left corner of the screen to eventually fill the entire background. Other times, inspired as Sufjan said by the artwork of Royal Robertson, it was like we were a few feet off the surface of another planet with all sorts of moving architecture flying toward us. This went on for many of the songs. It worked, though I felt like I was in a 60s sci-fi movie throughout much of it.

And the choreography, particularly the dancers themselves. Yes, there was choreography at the Sufjan Stevens concert. They seemed to have a dance for each of the newer songs and Sufjan would sometimes join as if the words went along with the songs, like a person could jump in at any time depending on what words or moves went at that part. Sufjan’s dancing was a mix between undulations and robotic gestures that fit with the music.

The best song during the show was his 25 minute song, “Impossible Soul” that ended with a kind of dance-off between one of the dancers and Sufjan on the tiny runway in front of the stage. His new style seemed to work in longer doses, letting the listeners enter a meditative state.

He finished the show with three of his older songs: “Chicago”, “Casimir Pulaski Day”, and “Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid).” A friend of mine said this made the concert worth it. This is true because if he stayed with only his newer material, it’d be a denial for both himself and us.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Blog

I started this blog in the spring with no clear direction and around June I stopped posting. We know why we start things usually, but when they fade the reasons aren't as clear. However, after a few months to think on other matters, I decided to start blogging again, though this time with a bit more organization and focus.

I decided this blog will be for personal things. Topics such as movie reviews, thoughts on living, encounters with felines, etc. Before, this blog had all sorts of topics, but there will be two I will leave to another blog, my most recent creation.

Here is the link:


The other blog will be for religious, spiritual, and sometimes political issues, the more serious things I blog about. Heaven forbid I leave humor out of it. Lord, have mercy on us if I do.

Thanks to everyone who reads my blogs, and I apologize for dropping it all and never saying a word since June. I hope to be more consistent in the future.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Music and Time

One of my greatest fears is to grow out of touch with what's new regarding music and movies. Getting older usually contributes to this, so does having children, a drug addiction doesn't help so much either. I am getting older, but the other two are not quite in my life yet- one I hope to have, the other not so much.

Ever met that guy that is listening to the same music he did ten years ago? I don't want to be that person. I counter this by spending a little time a week listening to NPR: All Songs Considered and DayTrotter as well as having people in my life that look for good music even on daily basis. Of course, I trust their opinion and they're usually right.

As I spend the afternoon going through new music, I realized for the first time as I'm watching the little dot on the bar that shows the song progressing that music and time are related, closely related. Tempo, time measure, and even the seconds ticking by as a song plays all point to time. Music exists in time, but I wonder if in some way humans attempt to transcend time through music.

I went to see Sufjan Stevens in concert this week and I felt above time for a good bit of that concert. Good music absorbs the person and time stops, but in order for that to happen, there has to be structure in time, the foundation that gets us to heaven, so to speak.

Music is around us more than ever, but do we have a philosophy of music or think of its purpose. I can't think of a church that doesn't have music, even the ones with no instruments are singing. Music might be part of the divine image we are created in. This is something I'd like to research more.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

After the Social Network

This is a movie to see. If you haven't gone out and seen it, please do before it leaves theaters.

Aside from the interesting story it depicts behind the startup of the company that made the youngest billionaire alive that is in fact not true in some key places but we allow for the sake of the plot, there is an interesting point the movie takes that is only one part of it, though a crucial part. Is facebook a waste of time? Are social networks one of the worst parts of our lives in the twenty first century that only carries with a replacement for real social interaction, face to face as they say?

I don't think they are.

Zuckerberg made a few brilliant moves to get him where he is, but it was the idea that carried facebook. He took the social experience and put it on the internet. Simple. We're social creatures, we watch each other, we imitate each other, we disagree with each other, so why not put it online? Yes, that's the point.

If facebook is all a person does for their social time, they're probably depressed and headed for a cycle that they need to break. It alone will not fulfill a person. However, it is affirming and it's a way to connect to people in ways we couldn't before. I affirm it. Get on facebook, just don't stay on it all the time.

Point two. Zuckerberg is in many ways a model for something new and where I believe business and work are headed. There's a kind of integration he did with his own life and facebook that is refreshing and personal, and much needed in the business world. Ideas are valuable, and they are dangerous, and yes, they can make a person a lot of money. Corporations are heading for something different, not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of keeping up with a changing world.

This movie is a nice late ending to an overall bad summer for movies. Inception and Scott Pilgrim were good, but this one holds its own. Besides, I love Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Social Network

Before I begin, I will say I have no idea why this is the first entry in what? Five months? It got to be such a long time that I ended up thinking I needed something big, like massive, to write about to break the months-long silence, and this is it: I know nearly nothing about Mark Zuckerberg, I know little about the origins of Facebook, and I know the movie that just came out is getting good reviews.

More information. I'm the same age as the main characters in the movie. I graduated college in 2005, which means me and Mark are kin in some way, generationally, as much as two people could be.

And there's this feeling I get about what I see in that movie. The guy did something, he had an idea and went with it, and look what he has. It's not the fame or the money that I'm talking about. It's this chasm I see between those in their forties and older and what I see in my peers. I feel close to this guy, Mark.

There are several things I've read in the past few months that say to me that my generation is a lost one on the edge of a decline in what has been a long period of ascendency in American culture. For the first time in a while, they say, parents aren't sure if their children will be better off than they were.

Those born in the 50s and 60s had parents born in the 30s and 40s. From what I can tell, the "revolution" of the 60s wouldn't have happened without the stability of the 40s and 50s. But what happens when that generation has children? Us. The gen Xers and the millenials.

If a person has divorced parents and marries someone without divorced parents, they are 50% more likely to get a divorce. If both people in a marriage come from divorced homes, the likelihood is 200% greater than if they weren't.

A writer for Time magazine wrote an article after Obama was elected saying the young generation that helped elect him is the direct descendant that moved in the late 60s.

I feel like things are changing. Their parents aren't our parents. Their experience isn't much like ours. I feel like that changes something along the way, and it is this: they challenged the institutions of society and looked to take down what was built. That project failed, I would say, and what is left is the American home gutted of values that once made it strong.

What does this have to do with Mark Zuckerberg? I have no idea.