Monday, June 30, 2008

sisterly confessions

Special thanks to Oscar Cortez of (and Courtney) for redesigning my blog. Hooray!

Nothing is more random than a Yeti, that's for sure.

So amusing story... (to me anyway)

Last week, I had met up with my friends Jeanne and Leslie for dinner, and afterward at their house, we somehow discovered that they did in fact have the entire Season 2 of Dexter still on Showtime on Demand, even though they had previously believed as of a couple weeks ago, they lost access to all of Season 2. So we decided to watch an episode. We picked it up right where I had left off at Episode 5.

However, I decided not to tell Miriam, for fear that she would get mad at me for watching an episode ahead of her and I secretly felt guilty for skipping ahead of her. She was in the middle of a three day shift at the hospital and probably wouldn't have time to watch an episode anyway, but in the event that she did, I resolved to just feign surprise and shock as we watched episode 5.

I really didn't think too much about it, until yesterday morning as we were driving home from church. Miriam said, "Melissa, I have a confession to make." Uh oh. This is not good. Ron had just done a sermon that morning on confession and repentance so I was bracing myself for an intense conversation of some sort...

Miriam: "I actually watched two and a half episodes of Dexter while you were gone last night."

What?! And here I was feeling guilty all this time. I actually remember walking in the house after Lauren's party and she was sitting on the couch with my laptop, and then she put it away as soon as I came in. I didn't think anything of it, but she later confessed that she was in the middle of an episode when I walked in and shut it off when I came inside the house!

What would have been really funny is if we had watched Episode 5 together and both pretended to not have seen it and acted all surprised at the plot twists and laugh during the funny scenes.

We are so silly.

I just realized this is my last post of the month of June (where did this month go?) and this is the most productive month I've ever had. Between Dexter and Ingrid Michaelson, it's been one crazy month, I'd say...;)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Voting update and new song posted!:)

Thanks for everybody who's been voting for the Way I Am contest. So cool! Special thanks to Paige for rallying votes on the West Coast;) In any given moment, I waver anywhere between 4th and 10th. Fate is so fickle in this thing. I also need to stop compulsively checking it, I think...haha.

Exciting news... I uploaded the first track of my in-process demo EP up onto my musicnation profile. You can check it out @

I guess I'll create a music myspace eventually, but I'm slacking on that:P Musicnation is easier. And prettier if you're lazy with html like me.

Anywho the new track is called "paper hearts" and I hope you guys enjoy it.

It's especially dedicated to anyone who has ever felt a little aimless, especially post-graduation..

Stop by and have a listen and feel free to vote again, if you feel so motivated;)


Thursday, June 26, 2008


They're going to build a shape-shifting skyscraper in Dubai.

It's like in Harry Potter where the staircases change all the time.

Check out the news link for the full story if you're interested:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vote for me! (can't believe I am saying this...:P)

If anybody had any doubt about my nerdiness, I fear that this blog entry shall confirm all suspicions once and for all.

I re-wrote the lyrics to Ingrid's "The Way I Am" (sorry, I know... overkill with the Ingrid blogs already) and recorded my version on youtube (yep, I know) and submitted to Gibson Guitars' "The Way I Am" contest. You're supposed to do a cover, actually. I hope I don't get points off for rewriting the thing.

The winner gets a beautiful Gibson SG, and runners-up get autographed CDs.

My actual aim in doing this was not to win the guitar, I just want Ingrid to hear my version since she'll be judging the top 20, mostly because I think she'll think it's funny. Or at least entertaining.

Basically the premise of my re-write is that some fool in Louisville, KY took Ingrid's lyrics seriously, when she sings "If you are chilly/Here take my sweater." He/she (i'm guessing it's a she since it's a girl's sweater, but it could be an emo kid, who knows) stole Ingrid's new blue cozy sweater! Right off the stage. Ingrid blogged about it on her myspace.

So I rewrote the lyrics to "The Way I Am" to reflect the situation and also address this infamous Sweater Thief and submitted my video to the contest. I don't think I'll actually win... mostly because I'll probably be disqualified for changing her lyrics. I'm actually pulling for a couple of the other contestants who are wonderful: Kiersten Holine ( this girl does amazing covers on youtube) and Tinted Image (he does a really cool jazzy version). All I want to do is make it into the Top 20 so Ingrid will watch it, since she's judging the Top 20.

Anyway, if you want to help me out, go vote at You don't necessarily have to watch every video (although it's pretty entertaining), and you can click refresh until it comes to my video and then vote for me!

I'm actually doing decently right now...I'm ranked 12th, and that's without even bulletining on myspace or facebooking. Don't know if I'm gonna stoop to that level yet. Although I just may;)

CanNOT believe I am actually posting this blog entry... haha...

the magic of PB and J

So after Status last night, my sis and I were hanging out and talking for awhile with our friend Chris in the lobby. Miriam and I were getting ready to go home/grab a bite to eat, when Chris (seemingly randomly) suggested that we have a picnic of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Earlier in the day, Chris had bought a couple jars of peanut butter, several kinds of jelly/jam/preserves and had set up a picnic table at a local park in Orlando, frequented by many homeless people. He simply offered to make sandwiches to anyone who was interested and got to talk with a lot of the people that passed through the park. He's done this several times before, but apparently on this particular day, there weren't as many people in the park.

Consequently, he had a bunch of leftovers.

After a massive fajita lunch at Chili's earlier in the day, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches actually sounded pretty good, oddly enough. So when Chris offered us an impromptu picnic, we kinda thought "Yeah, why not?" Chris began rounding up more people in the lobby and we headed across the street to Chris' Hybrid hatchback.

It kind of turned into a mini-party, with more than a dozen people crowded around the back of Chris' car and his makeshift peanut butter/jelly buffet bar, as he quite expertly made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of us. Surprisingly, he had a variety of jelly options, including grape, strawberry and boysenberry. Someone even pulled their SUV up next to Chris' car and started blasting their stereo to provide some dance music.

Someone joked that Chris should host sushi night out of the back of his car next week. haha:)

I met a bunch of new lovely people, ate a phenomenal PB and J sandwich (with boysenberry, i might add), and I witnessed something beautiful and spontaneous just arise out of nowhere in the middle of a parking lot.

I think it's called "community."

And then I watched two Dexter episodes.

So, all in all, I'd say it was a pretty phenomenal evening:)

on duality

darkness settles deep within
descends with a blissful sigh
with a jarring thud
layer upon layer
sweet and seductive
foul and oppressive
beckoning and clawing, enticing and writhing
hideously alluring


oh wretched duality.


beauty and truth
and whispers and love
and prophecies
and paradigms shifted
and prisoners freed
and the wounded healed

by body and blood

and trajectories chosen
destinies fulfilled
a kingdom extended
creation reclaimed
and a battle fought
to the sound of a thousand trumpets
to the cry of a thousand voices
to the explosion of a thousand memories of what was
what is
and an ache of what's to come
and what should be


evil extinguished.



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Star Wars Trumpet Solo

So I have been youtubing waaaaaay too much today. But this is the funniest thing I have seen in a long, long time.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (known as Arizona) this happened. This era was not kind. To anyone.

Searching for the Full House house

Yet another reason to love Ingrid Michaelson. When I thought she couldn't get any cooler.

Allie posted this video of her and Ingrid in San Fran, searching for the Full House house. She starts quizzing Ingrid about Full House trivia. I love that Allie just naturally feels compelled to start harmonizing with her toward the end. haha.

Also--Just wait for the photo at the end. Amazing.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I just got another message from Kat Costello, my friend who's working with RosaLoves to help support Hananasif Orphanage Center for their "Water the Fields" project. When she wrote us a few weeks ago, they still needed to sell 57 t-shirts to completely pay for the irrigation system, which will be the basis for the orphanage's agricultural program.

As of this morning, they are only 12 shirts away from reaching their end goal! Kat told me that many of the orders came from Orlando (heck yeah!), so I just wanted to thank all of you that supported Hananasif and RosaLoves and purchased a shirt. This will truly make a difference in the spiritual and community development of Hananasif Orphanage.

You guys rock.

And if you still haven't bought a shirt, what are ya waiting for?;)

Also, if they end up exceeding the remaining 12 shirt goal, the money will still go to Hananasif, but the money will be used for a chicken coop. This coop will house 300 chickens that will be used for food for the orphans, extra income for the orphanage, and fertilizer for the crops that they are growing.

Check out to read the story and order a shirt!

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).



Thursday, June 19, 2008


Probably shouldn't post this, since it's so new (literally minutes new), but I'm in a careless mood.

Ironically enough.

In honor of unrealized DTRs everywhere. Cheers.

(C) 2008

I know the sound of your voice by now
It spills out over the edge of an unsaid word
An unmade vow
We're taking all of the time that we need
But we're breaking up at the pace of it all

No wonder
No wonder

We were soft and soft and slow
We were soft and soft and slow

You left out the one detail that I needed to know
How deep, how deep did it go?
The wind caught all of my caution this time
So I'm fine, I'm fine, I'll be fine

No wonder
No wonder

We were soft and soft and slow
We were soft and soft and slow

We were soft and soft and slow
We were soft and soft and slow

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

more Ingrid pics

The OrlandoArts blog posted some really amazing pictures (from photographer Tisse Mallon) from the Ingrid Michaelson show at the Social the other night. You should check them out here!

I posted a more in-depth blog about the show in this previous entry.

I found one of us bowing that actually shows my face. (Hooray, more proof!:)

Dexter: the conclusion to my Season 1 saga

Please do NOT read below if you haven’t watched Dexter. It’ll just ruin it.

I mean it! Stop reading.

You think I’m joking… I’m not.


If you haven’t watched Dexter and you’re still reading this, our friendship is now in jeopardy and my respect for you as a person has significantly diminished. Just puttin’ that out there.

Go away. Seriously.

Okay, so Miriam and I got to the end of Disc 3 (Episode 1.11 “Truth Be Told”) and we both literally screamed. It’s THAT good and intense. It was such a cliffhanger, that we hopped online to Netflix to watch Disc 4—which was only one episode?—but is the season finale. (Episode 1.12 “Born Free”)

Code of Harry

  • I think my reservations about Harry were at least partially—if not fully—addressed. With the foil of Brian to compare Dexter to, Harry instantly saw into Brian's soul and saw what kind of man this kid was destined to become. He already had the darkness in him. But in Dexter, I think Harry sensed something that was redeemable, which is why he rescued him from that crime scene.
  • But once Harry realized what he was up against (Episode 1.1 “Dexter” when Harry realizes young Dex has been killing animals), Harry mustered all his wisdom and resources to train Dexter to master his darkness and not be completely chained to it.
  • Brian has totally embraced his identity, while Dexter barely hangs on by the thread of Harry’s code. Harry’s code and investment into Dexter, instilling values and ethics in him is what trained him to ultimately choose a different trajectory.
  • I LOVE stories like this, where choice and free will so clearly determine one’s destiny.
  • The sad thing is, the only difference between Dexter and Brian might have been the age. Brian was old enough to be twisted and warped by what he saw. Dexter couldn’t even remember the incident until Brian/Icey severely jogged his memory. And Dexter was still damaged by the event.

On the Job

  • Dang it. Just when I start to really enjoy LaGuerta, she gets demoted.
  • Wow, when she and Doakes figure out that Icey’s the Doctor = brilliant Sherlock Holmes moment.
  • I think the reason I love Doakes is because he’s the only one who sees through Dexter. If Doakes can get over his animosity, I think Doakes might be one of the first to see and accept Dexter for who he really is. Although, since he’s a very, very good cop and former Special Ops, this knowledge will create some obvious professional conflict. Could go either way. We’ll see.

The Future Mrs. Morgan?:

  • Rita, about Deb: “She must be a mess falling in love with a serial killer.”

Dexter: “What are the odds?” Seriously, writers. Stop winking at the audience. Haha.

  • Rita discovers a shoe, just like Paul said. Aaaaaand the writers perfectly set up Season 2.

Brothers & Sisters

  • The Lozenge reveal of Icey’s identity to Deb was BRILLIANT. I got the creepies during this part. I felt Deb become completely paralyzed and panicked. Brilliant acting, Jennifer Carpenter.
  • “Not Deb.” This moment finally shed some clarity for me on the nature of Dex. Somewhere under layers of psychosis and trauma and mess, there is a beating heart there that has somehow developed strained affection for his foster sister Debra, perhaps merely remnants of his affection for Harry. However warped that affection is, it saved him and distinguishes him from Brian.

The Ice Truck Killer/The Dexter Factor

  • Dexter: “Deb's fallen for you hard, and if you hurt her...”

Icey: “What you'll hurt me? Oohhh..”.

Dexter: “Yeah, something like that.” The way Icey says “Ooooh” had a Creepy factor of 10.

  • I LOVED the final scenes between Icey and Dex. It was so epic and Shakespearean, the idea of two brothers of two separate moral fibers and destinies—but still linked by a common tragedy—dueling it out. Wicked awesome.
  • Icey: “I know what you've been going through all these years. The isolation, the otherness, the hunger that's never satisfied. But you're not alone anymore, Dexter. You can be yourself with me, your real, genuine self. Takes the breath away, doesn't it?” SUCH a good demonstration of permissive freedom versus true freedom with the right restrictions. Icey has fully embraced his freedom as a license to fully indulge his insatiable need to kill. Icey sees Dexter as bound and restricted because of his “code.” They’re both damaged. But which one is truly more free?
  • Now, Icey’s getting Dextered. INTENSE. Such a loaded Dexteration, too. How in the world can Season 2 top this in narrative and emotional gravity? How I yearn for August 19th Oh, Season 2 DVDs, please come quicklyJ
  • I kind of breathed a sigh of relief with the conclusion. So I did not have to embrace any sort of “ethical paradigm shift” after all. In light of his backstory, Dexter makes perfect sense: “My mother was murdered before my eyes. Makes sense I'd choose a life where I search for meaning in blood, and the sole memory I have of her is being covered in it.” Yes, it does, Dex. Yes, it does. Now you should go to counseling…
Other random Pretender parallels and trivia:
  • The title character Dexter is played by actor Michael C. Hall. Jarod was portrayed by actor Michael T. Weiss.
  • In 2006, Michael T. Weiss portrayed a character named Dex in a movie called Razor Sharp. I'm not even making that up.
Now I have to wait for August 19th for Season 2. Oh, the agony:P

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

more Dexter... (spoiler alert)

Episode 1.10: "Seeing Red"

Oh no. The episode is called "Seeing Red?" It MUST be the crazy, bloody room scene from the preview. Ewwwww....

So I was eating a burrito when this episode started and in anticipation of a bloody room, I had to put the burrito down.

Room 103. Is. Horrrrriffic. SICK.

Okay, it's back to a Rita scene. I can eat my burrito now.

On the Job
  • So who's the random Asian girl who discovers the cup of blood?
  • Doakes to Dexter: "Something finally got to you. You're human after all." For this reason, I love Doakes.
  • Wow, Doakes can read Dexter's mind. Nice.
  • Dexter to LaGuerta: "Give that lady a lollipop." Haha.
  • "What did the freak do this time? Boil your goldfish?" bahaha:)
  • Angel's got a good lead on Icey. No, Angel, DON'T go talk to Icey for advice. He will KILL you... Gah.
  • aaahhhh... Icey's gonna kill Angel! Never mind, his life is spared for now.
  • Parking garages late at night are never good. Keep your guard, up Angel.
  • Angel's getting attacked! By none other than Icey, I'm sure:P
Code of Harry
  • More of the code unveiled: Dexter says the keys are: "Secrecy. Self Reliance. And stock of hefty bags." Harry you are sick. What were you teaching this kid?
  • "Harry didn't believe in pre-emptive killing, but Harry wasn't perfect. After all, he lied about my birth father." Thus begins the slippery slope. Interesting...
  • "Don't get emotionally involved. I think this is why." After Dex clocks Paul in the head while doing dishes. AWESOME.
Brothers and Sisters:
  • Deb is trying to make a connection with Dexter.
  • Dexter: "I'll tell you if some random emotion hits me in the middle of the night, you're the first one I"d call." Debra: "Fine. Whatever." Just talk it out, kids. Come on.
  • Aww. "How do you do it? Make me feel like I'm six years old again?" Aww, now Deb needs a hug.
  • "Dex you are all the family I have and I barely know you." Heartbreaking.
  • I'm gonna cry. Seriously. Poor Deb:(
The Future Mrs. Morgan?:
  • Aww Dex gave Rita pepper spray. How romantic.
  • WHAAAAttt? Rita is attacking PAUL? Gimme a break. Class 2 assault? Maybe Dex and Rita can go to prison together. That wouldn't be so bad.
  • Okay, so maybe Paul didn't get a haircut. But he has a huge bandage wrapped around his head. Much better:)
The Ice Truck Killer
  • Icey is interrogating Deb about Dexter. He's fascinated. That's weird.
  • Whoa... Oh snap! Icey is more interested in talking about Dexter than in doing the deed with Deb. That's messed up.
  • I think Icey has a crush on Dex. He showed up at his house. He offered him steak and beer. That's what I would do if I were crushin' on a guy...
  • DON't give Icey a meat knife, Dex. Gah...
  • Oh don't you toy with Deb's heart like that. You are evil, Icey. Evil.
  • Acrotomophilia? What does that even mean?
  • Aaaaand he's got a stash of nail polish in his drawer. SICK.
  • "I love you"? You are messing with my girl Deb now, Icey. That is NOT cool.
  • There he is, smiling away like Cillian Murphy again. Gah...

The Dexter Factor:
  • Dexter is reeling from the bloody room. Aww, I wanna give the guy a hug.
  • I'm assuming this is childhood trauma related? I'm pretty sure that was a flashback... What happened to his "parents"?
  • Dexter: "I always see other people's problems much clearer than my own." Ain't that the truth. I think this is the key to understanding Dexter. He isn't as self-aware as he thinks or pretends.
  • Paul is gonna get Dextered!!! Oh snap! But is this going to be an emotional kill for Dex?
  • Never mind. He just spared his life. And all because of the Code of Harry.
  • Now I have a glimpse into the trauma of Dexter's youth. The pieces are coming together.
  • Dexter, you are not as emotionally detached as you are trying to trick the audience into believing you are. I'm onto you...
Wow, this show is starting to get even more intense. Don't know if I can handle it...

and the Dexter saga continues...

I was overjoyed to discover that despite Netflix's unavoidable flaw of being inextricably bound to the timetable of the U.S. Postal service, they do offer certain DVDs online for free, available to watch at anytime. And Dexter is among the selections. So Miriam and I sat down to watch Episode 1.9 "Father Knows Best" last night. Glorious.

As I'm becoming more familiar with the show, I'm starting to get a handle on characters, elements and typical goings-on in any given episode, so I am restructuring my blog accordingly. Ironically enough, this episode didn't seem to fit the mold of any previous episode.

For one, nobody got Dextered.

Anyway, I'm still testing this out, so let me know if you think it's lame or not.

On the Job:
  • The episode begins with a unique twist. Whereas before Angel had some of the more comedic elements, along with domestic troubles in his attempt to keep up the facade of marital bliss, he gets caught up in intrigue when Doakes (I am beginning to love this man more and more by the way) shoots a mysterious man in a confrontation that nobody really witnesses. Intrigue ensues when Angel begins to question Doakes' motive in shooting the guy. I really enjoyed Angel's more dramatic scenes here.
  • Special Ops? Doakes? Suhweet. This man just became 10 times cooler. And I thought I couldn't love him any more...
  • Aww, lay off the man, Lame-o Cop whose name we don't even know. The guy's just trying to do the right thing. Leave the big Latino teddy bear alone:P
The Future Mrs. Morgan?:
  • I like the whole family vibe in the opening scene though with the kids. Awww... will the psychopathic killer make a good dad? Only time will tell...
  • Paul: Somebody PLEASE give this man a haircut. And an AA sponsor. Seriously.
  • I like that Rita's apparently grown a pair. She was a bit too whiny for my taste. But I guess her character arc had to go somewhere, eh?
  • Ugh. Paul is a terrible representative of the male species. He makes me mad.
  • Phew! I thought he was going to pop out of somewhere and block Rita and the kids from leaving. I thought she was really stupid until I saw her pull that baseball bat out. Yeaaaaah, Rita!

Code of Harry:
  • The title of the episode already signaled to me that Harry was going to be extremely important in this episode. Harry's becoming more and more fascinating to me.
  • I question his parenting: Why not just put Dex in counseling instead of teaching him how to murder justly, if there even is such a thing?
  • I question his ethics. What is his logical basis for imparting to Dex the code that he did? How did he determine what was right? And what is his backstory that prepared him to be such a unique father? Soooo many questions. I look more and more forward to flashback scenes. Very revealing.
  • Aha! Yet another parallel to Jarod from The Pretender. Jarod also had AB- blood. I learned from that show, that only 1 in 300,000 families have that blood type, so yes, it is extremely rare. Don't ask me how I remember that statistic..

Brothers & Sisters:
  • The scene between Deb and Dexter was awkward and lovely. You see their personalities juxtaposed so beautifully when Deb confronts Dex over his paternity. Deb is passionate; Dex is stoic; Deb is uncomfortably honest; Dex's whole persona is a lie.
  • Gah... I can't even imagine what's going to happen when Deb inevitably discovers the identity of her boyfriend. It's going to be a personal and professional disaster to the nth degree. But those are gonna be some gooooood scenes:)
  • Deb: Morgan here.
    Masuka: Wait, did I call the hot Morgan by mistake? Freudian. My subconscious has been exposed.
    Deb: Well, zip it up and tell me what's going on."
  • I freakin' love this girl. Miriam made a comment that she wished she could quote Deb. She has all the best lines! But she also has f-bombs sprinkled every other word. Too bad.
The Ice Truck Killer:
  • CREEEEEEeeeepy. He just popped out of nowhere and said "Dexter. I've been waiting a long time to meet you." Ahhhhhhh!!! Someone pleeeeease talk to that woman across the street. I KNOW she saw something...
  • Ewww. Creepy again. There he is making coffee. Getting up earlier than Dexter. What is this man's agenda with Dexter? What does he hope to accomplish?
  • Ugh, he seriously has that whole Cillian Murphy thing going on--the pretty face, good smile, and yet sinister. It's sinister prettiness.
  • Oh snap! Never mind. Poor sweet lady across the street is going to get Iced. Guh. Why did Dexter ignore her? Blah. I hate this show:P
The Dexter Factor:
  • So nobody got Dextered in this episode. Blast.
  • But it set so many things in motion. It planted seeds of doubt within Dexter's mind to question Harry. It brought Dex and the man we now knows as the Ice Truck Killer face to face for the first time. I HATE it when the audience knows more than the characters do.
  • I am still trying to figure out Dexter's moral core. Why does he adhere to Harry's Code? Loyalty to Harry? Training like Pavlov's dog? Does he have any sort of moral compass? Why stick to the code at all? I look forward to delving into this man's psyche...
  • He is a paradox.
That's all I got.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wickham and Wickham

The amazing Phil Wickham led worship at Status last night. Unfortunately, during the first service, his electric guitar went a bit wonko, so he had to switch to his acoustic. Consequently, he didn't do "I Adore You" until the second service. Which I missed. LAME.

Anyway, I couldn't help but notice his uncanny resemblance to Mr. Wickham of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth one). They look like they could be related.

Just picture Phil with a top hat on. He looks like Mr. Wickham's younger emo brother.

And yes, this blog is entitled "Randomness and Ruminations" for a reason. Deal with it.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

calming down

currently listening to: a good day by priscilla ahn

I originally thought this was going to be a ranting/venting blog entry. But Priscilla Ahn's new CD (auspiciously named "A Good Day") has put me in a slightly more amiable mood, so I think I'm going to let this one go.

I was just frustrated about something I heard today. I think I'm starting to realize what my issue is. Sometimes it feels like certain people focus on producing "right behavior" over internalizing truth that produces authentic action. I get frustrated when the emphasis becomes on doing what's apparently right and socially proper, rather than being genuine, transformed and authentically motivated to act on the truth.

I feel like when you begin to arbitrarily use other people's words and actions as a blanket litmus test for their spirituality rather than seeking them out and establishing relationships and trying to understand where people are coming from, you just invite people to be judgmental. And narrow-minded.

And we don't need any more help with that. We're bad enough as it is.

I realize I'm being vague. I 'm not trying to be divisive; I just start to get a bit annoyed when we take intimacy and authenticity out of the equation and try to replace that with pleasing people and doing the non-offensive, proper thing.

But that's just me.

Also, I disagreed with something that was said that I heard today. Essentially, what was said was that there is no poverty America and if you live in America and are poor, then it's basically your own fault, due to laziness or slothfulness.

I couldn't barely listen to the rest of what was being said, I was so incensed by this statement. First of all, this person did not define the parameters of poverty, only made a blanket statement, which perpetuates ignorance and propaganda.

A little known fact: out of all developed countries around the world, the United States actually has the highest rate of poverty. Of course, this refers to developed countries like in Western Europe or wealthy Middle Eastern nations, as opposed to places like Malawi in sub-Saharan Africa which are developing countries. There's a difference between poverty and extreme poverty. Extreme poverty refers to those who live on $1 a day or less. Of course, under these parameters, I realize that America does not suffer from extreme poverty.

However, those parameters were not defined. There is poverty in America, although not extreme poverty like we see in developing countries. What angered me was more of what was more of the apparent motivation behind what he was saying. He was not trying to educate us with accurate information about poverty in America. He was making a statement about the American dream, that if you try really hard, you can pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. And if you are in financial straits in America, then it's your own fault.

Tell that to kids in inner city L.A. who grow up amid gang violence, single-parent homes and drug culture. Tell that to people living in New Orleans, still recovering from losing everything in Hurricane Katrina while living in a city that still deals with the scars of institutionalized racism and injustice. The issues are so much more complex than this idealistic American dream propaganda that so many people just blithely spout out to make a point.

I wish the emphasis had been more of a call to serve and love people who are suffering, rather than polarizing the situation by making it an "us vs. them" situation. Yes, there are plenty of lazy people out there who manipulate the system and there are plenty of times where financial woes is self-inflicted in America.

But rather than judge and make divisive statements about how they are suffering the consequences of laziness, why not urge Christians to address these issues through love and service?

My main problem was that this was a politically-charged and polarizing statement to make a point, rather than actually address real issues.

Okay, I'm done.

Back to chilling and listening to Priscilla Ahn on a Sunday afternoon:)

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Way I Am. By Ingrid. (who else?)

Found this video of Ingrid singing "The Way I Am" (famous for being in those Old Navy commercials) at the Social Wednesday night. Ingrid was soooo marvelous. And funny:)

Don't know if you can tell exactly from the audio what she's saying, but basically she was explaining that the Black Dice did a remix of the song, so she started rapping to demonstrate.

Oh yes. Just watch:)

Dex in bulleted format.

So my opinion of Dexter can probably best be summed up as follows:

Since Jeanne gave me the recommend, over the course of watching this show, I went from initially wondering if Jeanne might possibly eat small babies in her spare time to now considering naming my firstborn after her. Well, maybe not quite that extreme;) She is, however, welcome to take any of my future offspring out for ice cream.

And maybe even the park.

But we'll just have to wait and see how I feel about the rest of the series...;)

Random thoughts on the past few episodes:

Episode 1.6 "Return to Sender"
  • Dex hates birthdays. Not surprising.
  • Uh-Oh! Dex is gonna get caught!
  • Waaaaaait a second...Am I actually rooting for the psychopathic serial killer to escape the law?! This show is genius. And completely corrupting my morals.
  • Wow, Dex can be a jerk. To his sister, mostly. But also to everyone.
  • Hold on, are LaGuerta and Deb actually bonding? .... ah, never mind Deb slammed the bathroom door in her face. That's my girl:)
  • The kid saw Jesus. Didn't see that coming.
  • Okay, maybe Dex doesn't hate birthdays anymore:) Dexter, you are a walking paradox.
Episode 1.7 "Circle of Friends"
  • Rita's husband could use a haircut. Just sayin'.
  • CREEPY psycho Ice Truck Killer suspect sings even creepier Italian opera music. WHAT was that...?
  • Rita, talking about her moppy haired hubbie: "I just wish he'd just go away. I mean, why can't he just go away and disappear forever?"
    Dexter: (in his voice over) "He can do that. Very easily.": Oh this show and its sick humor... Rita's husband is gonna get Dextered. Just wait.
  • Dex is in self-preservation mode and being a manipulative jerk again. Come on, dude! Be a good brother:P
  • Rita: "Somehow I doubt that. You have a good heart, Dexter. You're not like Paul, you don't hurt people."
    Dexter: "Innocent people. I don't hurt innocent people.": Oh, if only she knew...
  • Dexter's slow smile in the last frame of the episode=CLASSIC.
Episode 1.8 "Shrink Wrap"
  • Whoa, a lot of deeds being done in this ep. If you catch my meaning. And yet another reason why this show is on Showtime and not network TV.
  • Especially Deb. Something 'bout that doc creeps me out, though. He has a winning smile and a cruel looking mouth all at the same time. Is he...?? Nah....
  • Dex to the shrink: "I'm a serial killer! Wow, it feels so good to say that out loud!" AMAZING. Dex had a Dr. Phil moment.
  • This makes me not want to go to counseling. Moral of the story: shrinks are evil.
The End.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ingrid Michaelson. Best. Night. Ever.

Last night, I got to sing up onstage with Ingrid Michaelson at the Social. TWICE. Ahhhh!!!!! :):)

This is what happened:

First of all let me say to preface this that since the Hotel Cafe show at SXSW back in March, Ingrid has quickly become one of my favorite female singer/songwriters. Ever. And her song "The Chain" is my favorite of hers. By far.

Earlier in the day, I tried to track down the song "The Chain" by Ingrid. I had first heard her perform this song in her short set that she did in Austin, TX at SXSW this year. She, Allie Moss (her back up singer/friend) and Kate Havnevik (and I think Jessie Baylin, although I'm not positive) sang this GORGEOUS song. It was a round (you know, like when one person sings, then the other comes in, and then another: like Row, Row, Row Your Boat) and it quickly became my favorite Ingrid song. Suffice it to say, this is the song that made me fall in love with her music. And it's not available ANYWHERE to download. She had it up on her myspace for awhile, but took it down recently. A couple of months ago, I listened to the thing over and over while at work. I wanted to listen to it today, but couldn't find it ANYWHERE--not myspace, itunes, nowhere. It simply wasn't available.

Anyway, Brenda, Becca and I got to the Social and as soon as I saw Ingrid's stage set-up, as thrilled and excited as I was to be at the show, I was a tad disappointed because I saw she only had one back up singer (Allie Moss again). I realized that she probably wouldn't sing "The Chain", because you definitely need at least three female voices to sing it.

Halfway through her set, Ingrid said: "So, I wrote this song that's a round called "The Chain." Anybody heard of it? It was up on myspace for awhile." She got a few hoots of recognition, but hardly anybody seemed to know it. "Thing is, we need at least one other person to sing it. Does anybody here know the song?"

I felt a burst of adrenaline and my hand shot up, then I timidly retracted. Ingrid obviously didn't see me because we were to the far stage right side. My friend Becca who was with me grabbed my hand and pushed it up further, and yelled "She knows it!"

Ingrid turned her head in our direction and asked, "Really?" With a sly, fake-pompous attitude she asked "How much vocal training have you had?" A few answers shot through my brain: I had this inner dialogue with myself that sounded a little something like this: I could say I'm in a band. No, that's just tacky and if I were in the audience and I heard someone else say "Actually, I'm in a band", I would scoff derisively at them. I can try and be witty and say "I vocal train in the shower" but that's kind of an overused joke. Hmm...or I could actually be HONEST and say I've taken a couple months worth of voice lessons or I--Instead of saying anything, I just kind of laughed nervously.

Despite my pathetic lack of wit, eloquence or even words, she said, "Get on up here."

So I jumped up onstage in front of the where Allie was standing on stage right with her microphone. There was an extra mike stand and they told me I could take that one. Becca later told me that while I was adjusting the mike stand, apparently Ingrid said "Whoa, adjusting the mike stand. Impressive." and I guess some people cheered at that, but I was kind of too nervous and in a daze to notice...

Allie pulled me aside and quickly ran through the chorus part that I was supposed to sing in like 10 seconds. I think she just wanted to make sure I could at least hold a tune so I wouldn't completely ruin the song in the event that I sucked. Allie explained to me the song structure and told me when I should come in.

Ingrid asked me if I knew the words, and she made me say them with her;) The part that I sing as the round is:

So glide away and so be healed/(or soapy heels, depending on the version...haha;)
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take the chain from off the door

Allie looked at Ingrid and smiled and said, "Yeah, she can sing it."

So Ingrid began. I couldn't believe this. This is like something out of a crazy awesome dream. I was nervous... My hands were shaking a bit. I hardly looked at Ingrid, because I was so afraid I'd mess up. I was just kind of looking at Allie because I knew she would cue me when to come in.

After Ingrid and Allie sang through the verses and choruses, Allie nodded at me to come in and I sang WITH them. There's this part where the instruments drop out and it's just the voices singing the chorus in a round.

It was seriously the most surreal thing to be singing my favorite song by the artist (who is one of my faves) up onstage into a freaking microphone with said-favorite artist WHO WROTE the song.

The audience went crazy. I think it's best summed up in something one of the people said to me later: "We were all living vicariously through you. It was amazing!"

And to top it all off, Ingrid invited me back onstage for the final song! She looked through the audience and said "Where's Melissa? Let's get her back up here."

I protested, saying I didn't even know the song, but Ingrid said it was really simple and that she was going to teach all of us.

So I hopped back up onstage and Allie shared her mike with me. I honestly can't even remember the words or the melody or even the name of the song we did, but it was so incredibly fun to stand up there and just sing my heart out. And then at the end, we all bowed together like they do in theatre.

And that was it:)

Seriously, one of the craziest awesome things that has ever happened to me musically.
Me singing with Allie during "The Chain." Haha you can tell by my face how nervous I am. Note: Becca told me that shutter only opened halfway on the pictures during this song, sadly.

Ingrid and her band
up onstage with Ingrid during the final song

taking a bow. NEXT TO INGRID MICHAELSON. ahhh! although my face is covered up. it's me, I swear:)
Allie and Ingrid singing
Ingrid. Freaking brilliant.

Overall, it was an AMAZING show. Ingrid really is the whole package--she's a brilliant songwriter, an amazing vocalist, achingly funny, bluntly honest, creative, down-to-earth. She excels at establishing a personal connection with the audience. Very hard to do at all, and she does it so well.

Haha wish they would let me tour with them just to sing that one song.

I totally would. haha;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

my Tuesday evening

music: girls and boys by ingrid michaelson

By popular demand (by that, I mean by popular demand of one person), I am continuing my episode reviews of my Dexter experience as it unravels.

Episode 1.5: "Love American Style": I finagled my way into a free showing of Dexter at Jeanne's because her blessed household has Showtime on Demand, which has all of Season 1 and 2 available. Glorious.

So my inner struggle last night was this: Do I practice delayed gratification and actually wait for the Netflix DVD to come tomorrow? Or do I indulge immediately because I can? Happily--or sadly, depending on your perspective--indulgence won out.

Also, this was my sneaky way of forcing my sister to watch Dexter, since she had categorically refused to do so this past weekend:)

(I love you, sister. Please don't hate;)

I finally get the dark rhythm and quirky flavor of this show. Now I actually have time and freedom to enjoy the show's finer technical aspects like creative camera angles and unique lighting and whatnot.

In a small way, this show reminds me a lot of The Pretender, a show from the mid 90's that I'm pretty sure no one else but me watched. Dexter is like Jarod. Except whereas Jarod only messes with his victims, forces evidence from them (usually via some sort of taped confession) and turns them into the cops, Dex just kills 'em.

There were some great awkward moments where we have to see Dexter struggle with appearing normal and emotional, despite his psychopathic tendencies. I have never found unemotional so funny. Or equally heartbreaking.

Great character development episode.

Also, Mir and I went to see Kung Fu Panda last night with a lovely slew of friends. First, I was disgruntled to discover that Festival Bay has done away with $6 tickets on Tuesdays. What the crap. I intend to write a strongly worded email to Cinemark Management.

After enduring several exceedingly lame previews, the movie finally started. The animation was superb (especially the opening scene---wow!), the storyline was fairly simple and moral lesson was a wee bit cliche, but the humor was quite enjoyable:) I'm kind of skeptical of the content of animated films these days. I'm also weirded out by Pixar's recent animated attempts to humanize inanimate objects (Cars, Wall-E).

But I'll save that rant for another day;)

Because there's only one thing left to say...


Monday, June 9, 2008

On Dexter

So my friend Jeanne has been raving on and on about this show Dexter. Dexter is her Desert Island DVD. That’s intense.

Dexter—in the titular role—is a serial killer. As a protagonist. Like a vigilante, he hunts down people who has done society wrong and whacks ‘em. Except he doesn’t do this out of some inner, noble sense of justice or vengeance like V for Vendetta or anything. He only does it to “channel” his insatiable need to kill. Unique (and possibly disturbing) premise for a show, and not one would typically choose as a favorite to live out the days of one's life with on a desert island.

Anyway, since I cough up $8.99 per month for Netflix DVDs, I figured I’d add it to my queue, and over the weekend I got through Disc One. Mind you, not only was my opinion of the series on trial, my estimation of Jeanne as a human being also was on the line. Haha.

Here is my review, episode by episode:

Episode 1.1. “Dexter”: Jeanne is sick. SICK. I find Deb (Dexter’s sister and aspiring cop) kind of annoying, which does not bode well for my opinion of the show since she is closest emotionally to Dexter. This show is shaping up to be one huge ethical mess.

Episode 1.2 “Crocodile”: Hmm this show is kinda crazy. Hope they catch that Ice Truck Killer guy. Okay, so Jeanne’s not sick. She just has a black, black heart. My question is how they are going to make the audience continually sympathize with an emotionless, conscienceless killer?

Episode 1.3. “Poppin’ Cherry”: The character of Deb is starting to grow on me. In fact, I thought my heart might burst with pride when Deb was granted her deepest wish and was promoted from Vice to Homicide. I am feeling like I’m going to have to embrace some ethical paradigm shift in order to accept the premise of this show. Also, I think I need a line by line explanation of Dex’s “Code of Harry” which supposedly allows him to kill some people under certain circumstances and not others. Despite these misgivings, I am starting to appreciate the genius of the writing and also the complexity with which Michael C. Hall portrays Dexter. The voiceover narrative is unavoidably crucial to the show. I also have mixed feelings about that. Necessary evil, ay?

Episode 1.4. "Give the Boy a Hand": I am starting to finally get Dexter. This is his most psychologically revealing episode thus far. Last four seconds of the episode: “I am neither man nor beast. I am Dexter.” Freaking awesome. I’m sold. Jeanne is also turning out to be one of the most wonderfully complex people I know.

Black heart notwithstanding.

I can’t wait for the next Dexter DVD to come;)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Solaseria at Stardust

Last night I finally got to go see Chase Patterson perform his Solaseria material at the Stardust Cafe in Winter Park. Very cool, earthy venue. Looks like a Vegan hangout (yeah, you know what I'm talking about). They rent out cool indie, foreign films. And I got a wonderful iced espresso for a mere $1.86.

For having just graduated high school, Chase is a impressively gifted songwriter. He thinks outside of the box as a writer and actually develops his ideas. He doesn't submit to typical verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus formula, which is refreshing. It'll be cool to see what he does with his music. Check him out at Hurrah for local music!;)

However, I underestimated the caffeinated power of Stardust Cafe's espresso--which I had only at 5pm to keep me fueled through the show and band rehearsal later in the evening--for the darned thing kept me up all hours of the night. Blah.

Incidentally, we--the OaKs--are playing a FREE, all ages show at Virgin Megastore in Downtown Disney this Sunday, June 8th from 7pm to 8pm. Please come out, as I think this will be the last OaKs show in Orlando for several months at least.

I'm out. Peace.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

it's too late to apologize

music: dreaming out loud by onerepublic

No, it’s not. Hooray for grace!:)

Seriously though, I went to go see OneRepublic and Dave Barnes at House of Blues last night with some friends. Amazing.

This is my concert breakdown:
the venue: House of Blues
the line-up: two pretty boys with guitars, Dave Barnes and OneRepublic
the company: friends Jeanne, Tiffany, Leslie and Susan
the weather: freakishly humid and rainy

the show review:

Two guys went on before Dave Barnes and OneRepublic, but I don’t remember who they were: Jason somebody and Rob somebody. This was definitely one of the more crowded HOB shows I’ve ever gone to.

  • Rob Somebody had one of those awesome drum boxes where all you did is play the beat on the box, but it sounds like a snare, high hat and bass. I want one.
  • Jason Somebody had one of those Red Nord keyboards. Everybody and their mother has one of those now. I’m not so sure I want one anymore. For that very reason.
  • I finally got to hear Dave Barnes live. The first time I had ever heard him was when Sydney called me from his show at New City CafĂ© in Knoxville, Tennessee. She had me listen to a couple songs through the cell phone. And then my ex-roomie Kyara gave me one of his CDs during our summer internship in New Orleans. Dave Barnes definitely takes me back to the summer of ’04, that’s for sure. He kind of reminds me of John Mayer, the way he solos on guitar in between verses. It’s very cool.
  • OneRepublic came on an agonizing two and a half hours later, but it was well-worth it. One dude with crazy hair played on the cello and they did all the songs I hoped they would (Say, Mercy, Stop and Stare, Apologize, Goodbye Apathy, All Fall Down, Come Home). They even did one of my new faves that I didn’t think they would do—track 9 which I don’t know the name of.

Ryan--front man for OneRepublic--told a funny story about when OneRepublic was invited to come perform on American Idol. Little did they know that he was supposed to sing a duet with David Archuleta. The stage manager apparently told Ryan that he and Archuleta were supposed to lock eyes at one point in the song and sing to each other. Of course Ryan flatly refused and swore to beat Archuleta up if he did.

Archuleta apparently just giggled sheepishly in response.

hurricane kits

My home church Southside Christian was on WESH-2 news this week. Check it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I finally finished The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde over the weekend. I first became intrigued by this book during the Florida Music Festival (FMF) last year. It was pouring rain that day, so I decided to take refuge in the enormous downtown Orlando public library for a couple hours while we waited to load our equipment onstage. For some inexplicable reason, I picked up the Ravi Zacharias Deliver Us From Evil.

Looking back on it, I don’t know why I decided to read such a heavy book that day but I did. I honestly think I was in a Ravi mood at the time, having just finished Can Man Live Without God? (Brilliant read, by the way).

In one chapter, Ravi described the story of the wealthy, beautiful, young Dorian Gray, how he forges an unnatural connection to the portrait painted of him by the artist Basil Hallward. The portrait somehow supernaturally took upon his sins and deformities every time Dorian did something cruel or evil, but Dorian himself escaped unscathed from the consequences of whatever he did, until the hideousness of the portrait drove him mad with violence.

The idea of that totally intrigued me, but since I am forever wading through piles of books and trying to prioritize what I’m reading, I never got a chance to read it until recently, when Carrie hooked me up with a major discount at Barnes and Noble;) I got a copy of the book for a cool $3.99.

Anyway, the picture on the front majorly creeped me out, because I think whoever chose the portrait is obviously trying to evoke Dorian Gray, but it’s actually of Franz Liszt. I love Liszt, but there’s something about that particular portrait of him that’s always weirded me out. And to now associate that portrait with Dorian Gray is downright eerie.

As evidenced by his Art for Art’s sake manifesto that served as a preface to the book, it is clear that Wilde’s intention—as a major proponent of the aesthetic movement—sought to free art from social responsibility. Ironic that in his attempt, although he perhaps succeeded in shocking Victorian sensibilities and ethics, he actually made a deeper philosophical statement about the nature of evil and how seductively easy it is to be molded and shaped and doomed by ideas and our conversations.

I think so many times--and I am guilty of this--we thoughtlessly consume culture via media and swallow ideas without even thinking them through and before we realize it, we've internalized it and it becomes a part of who we are instead of "testing everything" by the Spirit and "holding on to the good."

I'm in the middle of reading The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard and it explores the power of philosophy and ideas to shape the world. This is something I believe that we as Christ-followers need to take more seriously. I thought of this because I went to see the midnight showing of Sex and the City last weekend with some friends. True to form, it was definitely an enjoyable film with oodles of fashion, humor and heart (I did get misty-eyed at one point...not gonna lie) with perhaps a bit (okay a lot) of scandalaciousness (yep, I invented a word. Deal with it) thrown in there... (it's called Sex and the City, what can I say?).

However, although the film resonated with me in lots of ways as a young single woman in this crazy Western dating culture, there were still many things I so fundamentally disagreed with about the way the characters approach marriage, love, sex and relationships in general.

But the problem is, how many women out there are seriously going to dissect the philosophical threads and worldviews running through that entire film? Not many. The film is a wonderful cultural mirror, but cultural mirrors have a sneaky tendency to become roadmaps if we're not careful.

Guess that's what these blogs are for, eh?;)

All that to say (wow I got really off topic that time), I really appreciate The Picture of Dorian Gray. It's a haunting story. And it's just plain fun to read. I highly recommend it.