Saturday, January 17, 2009


The following entry is something that I've had on my mind for a few months now. I'm usually not one to solicit readers or comments, but I would really appreciate it if you read this and responded thoughtfully to the questions at the end. I know it's kinda long but hopefully you will find it interesting and thought-provoking and you will have some equally interesting and thought-provoking things to say. Also, please don't make any implications about my personal life based on the following. If you're really that curious call me or email me and we'll chat.


A few years back, while wandering the wintry wastelands of Quebec (which are really quite nice in the summer), I stumbled upon a book called Le Petit Prince (in English, The Little Prince, in case you didn't figure that out). For those of you unfamiliar with this literary masterpiece, it's children's book written by Antione de Saint-Exupery in 1943. While it's written in language that children could understand and illustrated with awesome watercolor paintings by the author, it's actually quite a profound piece of literature.

I've read this book numerous times; the first while I was on my mission, the most recent being last summer. In fact, I was really close to buying this book for all my friends for Christmas last year; alas, my college student poverty prevented me. The last time I read it, a certain point the author makes really stuck out to me, and it's been on my mind ever since.

The story is about a young prince who is the sole inhabitant of a planet roughly the size of a house -- essentially an asteroid. One day he notices a small plant growing on the surface of his planet. He watches it and looks after it and eventually it grows into a beautiful rose. And even though the rose treats him badly, he falls in love with her and takes care of her.

But one day, enough is enough and the little prince leaves his flower. He travels from planet to planet until he finally reaches Earth.

He spends quite some time wandering the expanses of the Sahara Desert until one day he stumbles upon a garden of roses. Here is his reaction:

And he was overcome with sadness. His flower had told him that she was the only one of her kind in all the universe. And here were five thousand of them, all alike, in one single garden!

"I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose."

And he lay down in the grass and cried.
Not long after, the little prince meets a fox. Desperate for companionship, the prince seeks to befriend the fox.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."


"What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."
The fox goes on to explain that the taming process -- the process of forming a relationship or friendship -- takes time and patience. Slowly the prince and the fox become good friends and the prince learns what it means to tame someone. Just before continuing his journey, the fox recommends that the prince visit the bed of roses before he leaves.

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

And the roses were very much embarassed.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you-- the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.
OK, I'm finally getting to my point, to the questions that have been on my mind since the last time I read this book.

With this point, I agree with the author: that many of the relationships and friendships we have in life are founded and based upon the time and experiences we share with one another.

Here's where I'm not so sure what to think. The author is arguing that the reason why the prince's rose was so important -- ultimately the reason why he loved her -- was because he tamed her. In other words, he loved her simply because of the time he spend with her.

So here's my question(s): in regards to relationships, specifically in regards to love, what portion of a relationship is based on things like physical attraction and common interest, and what portion is based on the time two people spend together? Furthermore, does something like common interest matter in a relationship? Could a relationship survive if the only real thing they have in common is a desire to make it work? Why or why not? In the same vein, where is the fine line between settling and accepting?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Those crazy nights!

A while back I got this idea. I can't pinpoint when it first came to me. It may have been when I saw Wicked with my sis back in 2006. During this same period I started getting into Journey, courtesy of one David "Fatcat" Lowery. So, I think it was the combination of these two things that gave me the idea of a rock opera featuring tunes by, you guessed it, Journey. Think Mamma Mia for guys (I mean, at least to the extent that musicals can be for guys, you know?).

Ever since I read Ender's Game in high school I've thought it would be cool to be an author, writing books and short stories and such. I've never taken this dream seriously; I guess I never thought I had what it takes (that and I rarely take my dreams seriously). And I probably don't have what it takes. But that doesn't mean I can't try it for fun, right? Somehow it worked out that for my last semester of school (which started Wednesday) I only needed nine credits to complete my degree. Well, this wouldn't do because I needed to be enrolled full-time (12 credits) in order to get free money from the government for tuition; I needed to pick up an extra class. My first choices were culinary arts or ceramics. One day I was chatting online with Trevor. We talked about writing and he suggested that I take a creative writing class. What a better way to satisfy those three credits?

Our first writing assignment is a drama piece -- a play, screenplay, teleplay, etc. My first idea was to write a screenplay for this short story idea I've had for a while. I actually started writing it today and had a lot of fun doing so. Then sometime tonight, I don't know how the idea came back to me: the Journey rock opera. At first, I didn't give it much thought. Then I realized that it would just as easy to write a rock opera as it would be to write a screenplay. Maybe easier since the songs for the rock opera are already written, I just have to manipulate them to make some kind of story out of them.

Right now the working title for the Journey rock opera is Those Crazy Nights, taken from the first line of "Stone In Love". Who knows if I'll actually go through with it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Top Seven Albums of 2008

Two thousand eight (if you begin a sentence with a number you have to write it out; consider this today's grammar lesson; this is very important) has been an incredible year for music. From legendary (Journey, The Police, Neil Diamond, Styx) to epic (Coldplay) to intimate (Jeremy Enigk) to just plain fun (Weezer), my concert experiences did not disappoint. Equally undisappointing has been the quality and quantity of last year's new music. Now, usually these lists come in tens or twenties or some other interval that makes sense. So why only a top seven (spell out numbers when they are less than 10) list? These are the albums destined to be my classics and in my full rotation years from now. So while the amount of great music of this past year has been staggering, the following are the albums destined to leave their musical footprint on my life.

7. Day & Age by The Killers
This album barely makes the list. I would've liked to see it go a little higher actually. The follow-up to Sam's Town, I expected another great rock album. But instead there's less guitar, more synths, a bit of saxophone, and some pretty dancy beats. But that's not to say the album is devoid of rock moments -- check "Spaceman". And at least they didn't succumb to the folk trend. Sure, it's no Sam's Town but just like that album the more I listen to Day & Age, the more I like it.

6. Flight of the Conchords by Flight of the Conchords
I usually don't care for novelty music. But when you do it as well as "New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" it's hard not to love it.

5. Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust by Sigur Rós
I think this is as close to a convential album as Sigur Rós will get. Not quite as spacy and abstract as their previous work, this disc is easier to listen to on a song by song level where an album like Takk... is best enjoyed in its entirety. And for that reason, Med Sud is probably more accessible and palatable to the general public.

4. Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo by Rivers Cuomo
Another disc packed full of demo songs by the self-proclaimed Greatest Man That Ever Lived, Alone II is a step up from 2007's Alone I, if only a small one. Where Alone I has more heavy hitters like "Longtime Sunshine" and "Lover in the Snow", Alone II packs more punch track for track. The recordings are lo-fi and very Pinkteron-esque so the overproduction that has plagued Weezer in recent years is simply non-existant here. Another great part of this album is the linear notes, a 32 page booklet giving the background and biography of each song. And the cover art? To know that Rivers was dead serious when this picture was taken makes me love him even more. Alone III in 2009? I certainly hope so.

3. Viva La Vida by Coldplay
As incredible and cohesive as this album is, it could be better in regards to its playability as a theme or concept album. Lyrically, they do a great job -- the themes of life, death, love, and God are dominant through the entire album. But musically, it would have been cool to hear repeating melodies and motifs (maybe a "Viva La Vida" reprise?) -- something more operatic. It's disappointing that the themes of this album repeat only lyrically and not musically. But don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic album. And their live show is amazing -- mostly because a sweaty Chris Martin bears a striking resemblence to immediate post-carbonite Han Solo.

2. Narrow Stairs by Death Cab For Cutie
This album can be summed up in the following equation:
the rockability of The Photo Album + the listenability of Transatlanticism + the intelligent songwriting of Plans - overproduction - gloom = Narrow Stairs
Pretty much everything you and I could ask for in a Death Cab album. And while we're talking math metaphors, how awesome is "Long Division"? How about these lyrics:

And they carried on like long division
And it was clear with every page
That they were further away
From a solution that would play
Without a remainder
Just a sample of the high-caliber song writing found on Narrow Stairs.

1. The Red Album [Deluxe Edition] by Weezer
How does Weezer spell redemption? R-E-D. This album is best explained with an analogy. Let's say you meet guy or a girl, depending on your gender and sexual orientation (I'm just gonna say "girl" from now on to make this easier on all of us). She's happy, smart, and she evokes feelings you haven't felt in a long time -- feelings you rarely, if ever, experienced with other girls. Just like any other girl, though, she has her quirks. However, on occasion her quirks extend to the level of painfully annoying. But there's times where she makes you feel so alive, so you decide to stay with her. Time wears on and you fall in love. After you take a step back you realize that not only are quirks less irksome, but that they have become endearing. You realize that they're an essential part of the woman you love; without them she would no longer be this woman. This is how I feel about The Red Album and a lot of recent Weezer. No matter how many times I feel like Rivers whipped out the rhyming dictionary, I'll always love Weezer.

Rivers explained why The Red Album shines brighter than any post-Pinkerton album:

Our approach was to get into the studio and try to blow our minds with whatever we wanted to do. To just have fun, so that when we pressed play and listened back to what we did, our minds were just blown. That was the goal.
They weren't worried about commercial success. As a result, they created their best album since 1996.

Anyway, these are the soon-to-be timeless albums of 2008. There's still a lot of music from last year I haven't heard yet. So ... gimme your top three.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Official Slogan of 2009

Coined by my brother Matthew in the early hours of the morning while heckling the drunks on the light rail last night. Start using it!

"Make it mine, 2009!"