Tuesday, September 30, 2008

David Hull's Wedding

A couple of weekends ago, Jess and I went down to Long Beach for my friend David Hull's wedding. David has been a close friend of mine since high school, and his new wife, Tara, is an awesome girl too!

They had their wedding down at a restaurant right on the water in Long Beach. The actual ceremony was outside, right at the entrance to the harbor. There were a number of people out on the water on their own boats, and a few "booze cruises" came by as well, so in addition to the 100 or so people who were actually attending the wedding, we had a number of extra guests who contributed a loud "congratulations," or "way to go," or "don't do it!" during the program.

We had a tremendous dinner afterward in one of the banquet rooms at the restaurant, and got to sit with more old friends from high school, which was fun. I graduated in a senior class of 12 students, so when I tell people I keep in touch with 1/4 of my friends from high school, it sounds more impressive than it actually is. But it was fun to hang out again with my friends Masako, Suzanne and David (different one obviously), Adrienne and her brother Josh, and Danny.

The night was topped off with dancing, and we had a blast. Here are some photos:
Me and Jess with the newlyweds ^

Me and Masako ^

Me and David and Suzanne ^

Me with Adrienne and her brother Josh ^

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's on the mp3 Player...

I tend to go in phases in regard to the genres that I explore, although I often reside in the global category of "rock." It is interesting to see some of the sub-genres that have "developed" from this patriarch of musical styles: (This is the actual progression of genre->sub-genre from Rhapsody)

I. Rock/Pop
A. Adult Alternative
B. Adult Contemporary
C. Art & Progressive Rock
D. Blues & Boogie Rock
E. Classic Rock
F. Country Rock
G. Folk-Rock (Not sure why this sub-genre gets a hyphen???)
H. Funk Rock
I. Glam (Don't even NEED to put "rock" here right??)
J. Hard Rock
K. Instrumental Rock
L. Jam Rock
M. Latin Pop
N. Metal
O. Pop
P. Roots
Q. Singer-Songwriter
R. Surf

Pretty interesting huh? All that to say I've been dabbling in a "Tooth & Nail phase" (which would be found under the more specialized genre progression: "Alternative/Punk (Genre) ->Indie Rock->Emo). Tooth & Nail is a Christian label, and they spawned one of my favorite bands of my youth: Plankeye. They've progressed as a label, and have settled into a good spot in music culture; meaning they have a much wider audience than just Christian kids whose parents are worried that they have "swoop" haircuts and wear black nail polish. They have done a good job of signing bands that have resisted the urge to make a "worship album," but instead write about the life that happens outside of the box many Christians have put the term "worship" inside. Lyrically, some of these bands show promise, and I'm still just scratching the surface of many of these bands, but here are some names to check out:

-"Cover Your Eyes" by Sullivan
-"Great White Whale" by Secret and Whisper
-"A Fire So Big The Heavens Can See It" by Search The City
-"The Silver Cord" by The Classic Crime
-"Rival Factions" by Project 86
-"Brother, Sister" by MewithoutYou
-"A Toast To Bad Taste" by Far-Less

I'm also in the midst of a Beatles revival of sorts. When I first acquired the Beatles catalog, it was mostly out of obligation (I figured since I called myself a musician, I SHOULD own the Beatles). A couple weekends ago, on the way to the Radiohead concert, Peter, Greg, and I listened to the Beatles the whole trip home, and it got me thinking I should give them another go. So I did, and something finally clicked for me. I have developed an immense appreciation for their contributions to rock and roll, and to just plain ol' good songwriting (of which I think Paul McCartney was the champion; sorry Lennon fans).

So that's a little taste of what I'm listening to. If you know me, I'm always trying to expand and challenge my musical tastes, so if you have any suggestions, don't be shy...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Adventures In Real Estate

So with the economy in a slump, and the housing market at its lowest in years, Jess and I thought we'd see what the proverbial "water" was like, and dip our feet into the real estate market. We had no experience in this crazy world of 30-year loans and escrows, so we wanted to acquaint ourselves with how it works.

We started working with a great real estate agent out here in Valencia named Tricia LaMotte who has been an incredible help to us, and showed us the ropes of this complex industry, if you're thinking at all about getting into the SCV, I highly recommend her! She and Jess talked often, and combed the listings of sales, foreclosures, and short-sales to see if there was anything we thought we could afford.

We went to look at a number of places, and decided to put in some offers on some of the ones we liked. Tricia said that making an offer is sort of like asking someone out on a date, the worst that can happen is that they don't accept, but there's no "rejected offer penalty" or anything, so we thought we'd throw a few out.

Wouldn't you know, that a couple of our offers got accepted! This was an interesting development, and we found ourselves in escrow for a great little 2 bed/2 bath place in Valencia. When all was said and done though, we decided not to take it. A number of factors played a part, but a monthly "housing" increase of 44% was part of it. It wasn't going to break the bank, but it would have made the bank a lot smaller, and our loan guy agreed with us in saying "you don't want to be house-rich, and cash-poor."

So it was quite an adventure, with some pleasant surprises, and later on, when we're really ready to buy, we feel pretty confident that God will provide the right place at the right time, for the right price. But for those of you who, like us, thought that there was NO WAY you could ever get into a house, you may want to take a closer look at what's out there!

Friday, September 12, 2008

European Parliament To Ban "Sexual Stereotyping"

From Albert Mohler's blog:

The European Parliament evidently has too much time on its hands. Last week, this glorious and august legislative body voted to warn advertisers and marketers against "sexual stereotyping." Seriously.

Anyone viewing today's advertisements is certainly aware of the charged sexual content that is constantly piped into our homes through advertising messages and images. Much of it is pornographic, at least in the fundamental sense of the word. The images are intended to fire sexual interest in hopes of attracting sales and brand interest.

The New York Times reports that some of these advertisements are exactly what the European Parliament is attempting to eliminate. The legislature voted 504 to 110 to "scold" advertisers and call the industry to higher standards.

But it turns out that these higher standards are not intended to produce advertisements that are necessarily less sexually-charged, just free from "sexual stereotyping."

The clothing powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana was cited as an example of an offending company. The firm, known for its advocacy of liberal causes, was cited for an advertisement that featured "a woman in spike heels pinned to the ground by sweaty men in tight jeans."

The European Parliament does not like that advertisement. Not one bit. But the concern is not the explicit sexuality, but the sexual stereotyping. The European Parliament wants gender balancing in ads. Next time, perhaps the firm had better feature a man in spike heels pinned down by sweaty women in tight jeans. Fair is fair.

As Doreen Carvajal reports:

The concern, according to the committee report, is that stereotypes in advertising can “straitjacket women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed-down for both sexes.”

Another target of the European Parliament's concern -- Mr. Clean. The Parliamentary report argued that Mr. Clean, whose image dates from the 1950s, is an example of sexual stereotyping. Mr. Clean's "muscular physique," The Times reports, "might imply that only a strong man is powerful enough to tackle dirt."

Does the late Orville Redenbacher's image on his product's packaging imply that only elderly men can handle popping corn? Is Wendy's guilty of demeaning red-headed boys by suggesting that only red-headed girls can cook hamburgers? Should Tony the Tiger be balanced with Tanya?

It is hard to take this report -- or this legislative body -- seriously. There really is a big problem, but that problem is the fact that so many demeaning images of women are common to advertising. Beyond that we find the problem of so much sexually-explicit advertising content in the first place. But the European Parliament merely calls for gender equity in the images and messages.

This concern for "sexual stereotyping" in advertisements is a perfect representation of the postmodern temptation to suggest that the utopian ideal of enforced gender equity will bring on a new epoch of human happiness. There are serious moral issues involving the advertising industry and the use of images that demean women, but this is not a report that can be taken seriously.

Here we find a presumably responsible legislative body that registers its concern about the iconic image of a cleaning product, suggesting that women are (or should be) insulted by Mr. Clean. The logic must be that the image of Mr. Clean implies that, in order to defeat dirt, women must call upon the assistance of a muscular man in a white t-shirt and an earring.

As Mary Honeyball, a member of the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee stated, "The report was passed by a big majority, and so there's obviously recognition that there is a need to look at this. There is unacceptable stereotyping."

So, watch out Mr. Clean. You just might be targeted for a sex change.

In the words of the great Charles "Charlie" Brown: "Good grief."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Kids' Prayers

Over at my worship blog, I link the titles of the songs we sing each week at church to a video on YouTube which helps them learn/familiarize/remember each of the songs. This week we're doing Benton Brown's "Hallelujah (Your love is amazing)" and I found the coolest video of a bunch of handwritten prayers from little kids addressed to God asking him various questions or telling him things. It was so awesome I decided to post it here. Sorry I'm on a video kick as of late...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Piper Palin Grooming Her Baby Brother

This video is from Wednesday night, as McCain's running mate Sarah Palin was delivering a speech. Her Daughter Piper was holding her baby brother Trig, and apparently thought he needed a little cleaning up...