Sunday, November 21, 2010

Recommended viewing

Here are some things I've been watching/ have watched recently.  They are all Sci-fi type things.  I am a big sci-fi & fantasy fan.  Not quite big enough to dress up like my favorite characters and go to conventions, but I love the sci-fi and fantasy genres.  One of the main reasons is their capacity for story telling.  They allow the storyteller to set aside realty (even more so than normal authors do) and lend to a broader capacity for invention.  Some of the best things I've ever read (like Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro) and seen (like Primer) are not great just because they are sci-fi or fantasy, but because the stories are amazing.  And the sci-fi and fantasy elements are merely the backdrop for the storytelling.  Having finished my long winded introduction, here are some recommendations for your viewing pleasure.

How I missed this when it came out is beyond me.  Moon is the type story that I described above - it has elements of sci-fi which are merely a backdrop for telling a powerfully good story.  Set on the moon's surface, starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son), Moon is a fantastic film.  I would put it on a par with intelligent sci-fi films like 2001, Alien and Sunshine.  With a 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating, this is one of my recommended must see movies. 

Battlestar Galactica
I tried to watch this a couple of times while it was on the air but could never get into it.  BG has lots of characters and lots of plot lines so I could never get into it.  But this past week, it came up on Netflix instant so I immediately began watching it.  I watched the first season this past week and am most definitely hooked on it. 

The Walking Dead
I'm not sure which genre zombies fit into, sci-fi, fantasy or if they are their very own genre, but who cares.  The Walking Dead tells the story of a local lawman waking up from a coma and finding the world overrun by zombies.  Sounds cliche, but this original show from AMC is very watchable.  The 4th episode airs tonight.  Watch the first episode here

Monday, November 1, 2010

The End of an Era

Today I reached the end of an era.  As of today, I'm no longer searching for a job.  Nor am I searching for a better job.  After over two years of looking for a quality job here in Chapel Hill, I finally got one.  Thanks to the Eternal Father, thanks to Dottie, thanks to everyone who has prayed for me once or often.

Since the fall of 2008, I have invested hours of my time, driven lots of miles, been emotionally distressed, discouraged, beaten down, and depressed.  And now, I can leave those things behind.  I no longer have to search for jobs.  I no longer have to apply for jobs.  I no longer have to wait for phone calls or emails from potential employers.

Today I got a call with an official job offer for a job which a friend (Dottie) passed on to me.  And When asked if I needed time to think about it, I said, 'No, I want this job.'  I will start a new career in two weeks.  Praise God for His faithfulness.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Surviving a Zombie Attack (Happy Halloween!!)

I've read several zombie books (Feed, World War Z) recently and am a lover of zombie films (Almost all George's Romero's zombie flicks, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later).  So in honor of Halloween, here is some advice for when the zombie apocalypse finally hits:

 Zombie Survival Tips
  • Be prepared.
  • Know the route to the nearest superstore, school or shopping mall.
  • Learn how to use a firearm.
  • Find a place to hide.
  • Connect with other survivors.
  • Take out anyone who has been bitten before they turn.
  • Defend yourself to the best of your ability.
  • Always aim for the head
  • Stay away from the windows
Click on these links on through to and to learn more about preparations for the immanent Zombie Apocalypse.  Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recommended film viewing - bad poetic version

Junior has issues
Mom has issues
Korea has good movies

Leo and Ellen
Kid from 3rd Rock
Mind bending

Mix Braveheart
With Kill Bill
Add 300 and simmer

Low-fi Sci-fi
Countdown to love
Worth every second

Vampire priest
Love and blood
Perfect pair

11 Minutes Ago
Low budget time travel
Low on money
Big on heart

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Artsitic Double Standards?

I watched a documentary last night on Danielson, one of the most unique musicians/ groups ever.  It made me think again about double standards in the artistic community.

In the film, Daniel was being interviewed and said something like  this:
'I don't like it when critics say things like "I don't agree with this but..." ' (then the interviewer asks what he means and Daniel explains). 'Its like they have to let people know they don't believe in Jesus, but they're still going to review my music.  You don't hear them say things like "I don't agree with Rastafarian beliefs, but here's my review of this reggae album." '

In the artistic community it seems you can be Buddhist (Beastie Boys), Jewish (Matisyahu), or Muslim (Jurassic 5 and lots of other rappers), yet not be judged solely by one of those labels.   But if you are a Christian who makes music, films, paintings, whatever, people want to always attach the label of 'Christian' to you.  That in itself is fine.  But it seems that 'Christian' can't be reconciled with 'artistic' in many people's minds.

This stems from several sources.  One source is a hard one for Christians to accept: a lot of current 'Christian' art (books, visual arts, music, films, etc.) are substandard and low quality.  I don't mean production quality or anything like that.  The art itself often isn't very good and doesn't stand up against art made by non-Christians.  Christian films for example are notoriously bad.  And Christian music has tended to be cheesy and overly preachy.

Why have Christians accepted substandard artistic creations?  Possibly due to lack of funding.  Or maybe due to a lack of support by the Christian community.  But I think those are lame excuses.  In general it seems that Christians in the modern era have not been challenged to think of music, books and films in regards to their artistic quality.  To most Christians, if the Good News is shared (which I am all in favor of), that makes it 'good' regardless of quality.  So whether the actors are robotic or the songs repeat the same three chords or the books read like pulp fiction novels seems to not matter.  I actually shy away from most 'Christian' media for this reason.

Seeing this attitude among many Christians and knowing that they may not expect high quality artistic output from other Christians, is it any surprise then that all Christian artists get lumped in with all the other substandard art made by well meaning Christians?

Music reviewers are surprised when a Christian makes something interesting, thoughtful or good.  So Christians have a double hurdle to jump - first making their art and making it good, and secondly having their work judged more harshly because they are Christians. But of all people in the world, shouldn't we, professed children of the Creator, be creative people?  And shouldn't we strive for creative excellence that we might have people look at our creations and say, "It is good!"

Thankfully there are Christian artists that have gained respect for their art and for the realistic portrayal of their beliefs.  Danielson, Sufjan Stevens, Scott Derrickson, Stephen R. Lawhhead and others.  And thankfully, many critics have realized that 'Christian' need not always be synonymous with 'substandard artistic expression.'

And since we're talking about Danielson, here's the video for "Did I Step on Your Trumpet"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Song Lyric of the Day

This song was going through my head last night:

"the devoted were wearing bracelets
to remind them why they came
some concrete motivation
when the abstract could not do the same
but if all that's left is duty
I'm falling on my sword
at least then I would not serve
an unseen distant Lord"

Secret of the Easy Yoke by Pedro the Lion

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ozomatli - videos from the show

Here's  a song from the OZO show.  Rodger and I were sitting down in the left side of the stage, 3 rows back from the folks you see dancing on the front row. 

La Gallina 

And here's Ozo in the lobby at the end of the show.  They are very much a 'band of the people'.  They ended the show by marching out into the lobby and playing a bit more:

Friday, October 1, 2010


Rodger and I went to see Ozomatli tonight.  Saying the the show was awesome is an understatement.  They are an extremely great band.  This was my first time ever seeing them live and they are better in person than in their recordings.  They rock.  They swing.  They do great things with musical instruments.  Lots of fun.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

9 years

I don't think the number '9' is significant, especially when you're celebrating something.  Most people celebrate after one year.  Then it seems pretty common to count five years, 10 years, 25 years, 50 years, and so on as milestones.  Honestly, I can't remember the last time I heard anyone get excited and say, "Nine years!  Wow that's great!" So even though nine may not be as good as 10, it's better then eight (or seven or even four).  But I like nine.

As of this past week, Jo and I have been married nine years.  Not all of it has been fun or easy.  But a lot of things have been fun or easy, and sometimes both.  We've had some hard things happen which could have broken us.  But thank God, here we are, having worked through all those things and happy to be together.

For us, nine is a great number.  Nine is a good reason to celebrate. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spotlight on: System of a Down - Aerials

This in my opinion, is an amazing song.  Its close to perfection.  But that's just what I think.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Song Lyric of the Day

Sometimes when I wake up I have a song going through my head.  This morning some lyrics were playing on repeat:

"O hound of heaven hear my cry
Remorse for things that I have justified
My life a book whose pages are well read
Of actions good and evil
And thoughts inside my head"
Consequence by Circle of Dust

When I woke up, I couldn't remember all the right words or even the band.  But I managed to find the lyrics and the band.  Google is an amazing thing; what did we ever do without it?  You can hear the song here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Quotes

I love quotes and sayings.  Here are some great ones:

“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.” - Saint Augustine

“There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful by nature, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art, and knowledge.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

“I despise a world which does not feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy” - Ludwig van Beethoven


Monday, September 13, 2010

Why non-beach loving parents go to the beach

I don't love the beach.  Jo does, but I don't.  I don't hate it by any means and can think or much worse places to go, but am really not into sand and sun.  But photos like this make the sand and sun and salt water worth it for me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Separated at Birth? - Pigeon John and Thierry Henry

Pigeon John (Everybody's favorite rapper)                                                              

Thierry Henry (Footballeur extraordinaire)


Saturday, August 28, 2010

New (wet) Life

Today, Tasha, one of our beloved Greenleafers, was baptized in the Haw River.  We sang a little, somebody prayed, then Tasha was taken out in to the water and baptized.  After that we sang again, somebody read from the Bible, some people prayed for Tasha, then everyone had lunch together.

But in short, Tasha got wet.  I mean, isn't that what it boils down to?  She went in dry and came out wet? 

How crazy, even absurd, that baptism, the dunking of a person in water, is a sign of the new life that person now possesses!   It seems like God could have come up with something a lot better.  A better ritual, a better display, something with a bit more pizazz!

But in reality, I can't think of a better picture of what God has done to Tasha than what happened this morning.  She stepped into the water dry and came out wet.  In that action, we see an embrace, an immersion into God's presence and an enfolding into His family.

For ancient Jews, baptism was an outward show of their awareness of their need to turn/ return to God (a.k.a. repentance).  It was a display of the cleansing that God had done and was doing in them, a cleansing of thoughts, motives, desires, and behaviors.  John the Baptizer preached, 'Turn to God, the kingdom of God is close, even here right now!!'

For followers of Jesus, it is all of the above and then some.  Baptism is a picture of death and life.  As Tasha went under the water, we saw a picture of her 'death' to her self - selfish ways, self-centered thoughts, not doing things God's way, etc.  As she emerged, we saw a picture of her 'live' again - new life lived in Jesus, with Him taking first place in all things and all the other things that were not as important or not good for Tasha either taking a backseat to Jesus or being cast completely away.

I was so moved by the scene and I know lots of other people were too.  Tasha did much more than just get wet.  She told all of us, Greenleafers, family members, and all her friends that came to see her get dunked, that she has 'died' and now 'lives' again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Song lyric of the day - King's X

"We have heard the man and devil...lies
We've heard it all for far too long.
This is not the time to be weak,
But if you are then you're not alone."

Don't Believe It (It's Easier Said Than Done), King's X - from Gretchen Goes to Nebraska

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jesus - Man of Action

Jesus was not a theoretician.  He did not dispense a lot of ideas and leave His followers to sort out their application. His goal was never to leave behind a great catalogue of sermons.  Yes, Jesus was a great teacher, but He never wanted people to make a list of things He said and then debate His teaching points.  In other words, Jesus' goal was not to teach and leave us to figure out what to do next.  Jesus acted and taught with action in mind so He could teach people how to act. 

Jesus often did His teaching with actions, which said more than any sermon ever could. Take the story of Zacchaeus, the little tax collector from Jericho was was too short to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree.  Jesus could have turned up in Jericho, preached a sermon on repentance, and then left.  But instead of preaching that kind of sermon, He saw a guy in a tree and invited Himself to his home.  Some of the the people around Jesus were disturbed that Jesus would enter the home of a low life scumbag like Zacchaeus, a tax collector. 

But during the course of this visit, Zacchaeus stands up and says:
"Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."  Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost"  (Luke 19:8-10).

The actions of Jesus in Jericho speak so much more loudly than any sermon ever could.  He chose one of the worst guys in Jericho, a Chief Tax Collector, went to his house, spent time with him, ate with him, and probably had some good conversation.  Zacchaeus knew about Jesus, otherwise he wouldn't have been climbing a tree to get a better look at Him.  I don't imagine that Jesus really had to say loads and loads.  But in the course of the visit Zacchaeus spontaneously turned away from all his corrupt ways and decided to give money away and pay back the folks he had cheated.

There is no real sermon recorded by Luke.  All Jesus says is, 'Salvation has arrived in this house.  Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham, a child of faith.'  Not much in the way of sermons.  But the last part of what Jesus says is the best: 'See this everybody - this is exactly why I came.  I came so that people who are far from God like Zacchaeus can come close to God.  This is my purpose.' 

Jesus, the Man of Action, demonstrates the heart of the Good News - that God wants to come live near us and in us and have us be close to Him.  Very literally, God asked Zacchaeus to let Him into his life.  When Zacchaeus let that happen, Jesus showed everyone the result  - a drastically changed life.  Jesus left a reminder for the people of Jericho in the form of Zacchaeus' new way of life, a concrete reminder that God changes lives.  In my opinion that is much better than any sermon on repentance than Jesus could have ever preached.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stoke City - Tottenham 1-2 Gareth Bale Goal

Check out this goal from Gareth Bale during Tottenham's match today against Stoke City.  You don't see goals like this everyday:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Resolve. Accident.

I, Jamie H. Garrett, resolve to blog more. Seeing that my last post was almost 2 1/2 months ago, this really won't require much effort. If I can just blog once or twice a month, I'll be doing well. That's right, I'm setting high standards for myself. Whatever.

I crashed my bike today. I haven't wrecked a bike in years. The bad thing is that I have no clue how it happened. I was on a sidewalk and a couple was walking towards me. To be considerate, I rode over into the grass (which was level with the sidewalk), went around them, them moved back over onto the sidewalk, which as I said, was level with the grass next to it. Sounds simple, but somehow I ended up face first in the dirt. I am not a reckless rider at all, mainly because I don't want to get run over by a car, so how I crashed on, for all practical purposes, level ground is a mystery.

It was one of those moments when time slowed down and I could see with absolute clarity that I was going to eat it. I crossed back onto the sidewalk and felt the bike jump and twist. Them I saw the ground coming up fast. After I skidded to a halt, face first into the dirt and leaves, I slowly heaved myself up and picked up my bike. After checking for blood and making sure I was pretty much intact, I took a few limping steps, then jumped back on my bike.

The damage is minimal: I have a good sized abrasion on my right leg, my whole calf hurts on my left leg, and my forehead has a little road rash on it. I also tore my pants where my right leg scrubbed the sidewalk. When I looked down at my leg and saw this big tear in my pant leg I thought, 'Oh well, guess that's it for this pair.'

I thank God that I didn't eat it near as hard as I thought I might. I say this because I could have ended up face first on the sidewalk with a broken nose, lots of bad scrapes, a concussion and a trip to the ER. While that would have been a great story, having no health insurance makes me glad for a that I don't have a story that awesome to tell. Just a couple of scrapes, some soreness and torn pants.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup 2010

The greatest, largest, most fantastic sporting event in the world begins today. Where else can you find a month long sporting event which showcases the greatest players in the sport from all around the world? You can't.

This World Cup is especially exceptional because it is the first one ever held on the continent of Africa. South Africa hosts the 2010 World Cup of Football. Watch it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost without Lost

Okay so Lost is officially history. No new episodes ever again. Yes, I will be re-watching the entire series over and over until I die, but no new Lost. None. No more. Ever. I am not having withdrawal symptoms yet, but at the same time its only been 2 days since it finished.

Lost going off the air is like losing a good friend. Its not like a friend died; I can buy the DVD set and sleep with it next to me in bed, I mean, watch it over and over again. But when there is something great in your life that you enjoy and all of sudden it is no longer there, its a little sad.

(Feel free to make fun of me before you continue reading).

I love good storytelling and Lost is some of the best storytelling I've ever experienced. It was always a hybrid between TV and film. Sure there were some things that didn't ever make sense and inconsistencies now and then. There were even episodes that I didn't like. But what matters is the big huge story that the creators were weaving. It transcended the inidividual parts to form a truly astonishing whole.

The storytelling was so good that most episodes I was riveted to my seat. I cried more than once during Lost's 6 year run. I remember some episodes so clearly and even their titles. The episodes have titles? Yes, like Greatest Hits or The Constant, two of may favorites.

So why did I love Lost so much? I do love the sci-fi elements and the idea that fantastic things happened on the show. But as I watched the finale, what I realized is that I had grown to love and care for these fictional characters. When Charlie and Claire had their moment of mutual realization, I cried. No lie, I did.

I use Lost to mark certain events and periods of the past 6 years of my life. When Lost started 6 years ago, Jo and I were living in Morocco. We heard about this awesome new J.J. Abrams (Alias, Cloverfield, Star Trek) show about a plane crash. Having been Alias and J.J. Abrams fans for years, we figured Lost would be good. We were right. I knew from watching the first episode that this would be a great show. If only I'd known then how amazing it would turn out to be! Since we were in Morocco, we would download the episodes and watch them with out laptop hooked up to the TV.

During Season 3, we were living in Pennsylvania and hosting a small group. I insisted on not having group on Lost night. That worked well for a while, but halfway through the season there was a break of several months. When it came back on again, it was on small group night. So we had to record it and watch it after group. What a hardship to have to sit through small group knowing that Lost was on and I wasn't watching it!

Then when I was unemployed, looking for a job, and we were living in my in-laws' basement in VA, Lost was one of the things that helped make life interesting. As pathetic as that sounds, it's true. My in-laws have a huge projection screen TV in their basement (like 5 feet wide) and I would turn off all the lights and drink beer while watching Lost on the big screen.

There are so many more things I could say about Lost, but since nobody is reading this anyway, I'll quit now. Goodbye Lost. At least goodbye to any chance of new Lost. So many unanswered questions, so much to still think about. So long Desmond. Farewell Sawyer. Goodbye Kate. Godspeed Vincent. Au Revoir Lost. Now I can have my life back. Until I start watching the whole series again.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Amazing books

Reading is one of my favorite things to do. And books are one of my favorite things in the world. I love bookstores, but love free public libraries even more because, well the books are free. Its not so much that I love the actual books themselves; I'm not infatuated with paper, ink, book bindings, and slip covers. I love stories. And I especially love good stories. I love to get lost in stories. For me if I start reading a book and I don't get lost in it pretty quickly I don't read anymore. My love is also at the root of my love for movies, but that's a different topic altogether.

Anyways, I have three books that I've recently that are all pretty spectacular. Two are probably some of the best I've ever read. The other is quite awesome as well:
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The first two books are the two I mentioned as being two of the best I've ever read.

I also recently read one of the best short stories I've ever read, Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang which is is his collection of short stories Stories of Your Life and Others.

If you're into reading at all I highly recommend all of the above. Happy reading!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I've been on a metal kick recently. Real, metal not hair bands (although I love them too). I love heavy metal music (good metal anyways). I love the the technical skills of the musicians, the vocal range of the singers, the theatrics, the image, basically everything. So in light of my metal kick, here's a classic metal song, Season in the Abyss by Slayer:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lost plane crash 'mash-up'

Mash-ups happen when a creative editor takes video or audio and mashes them together. The pieces that are fitted together were never meant to be together, but the creative individual finds a way to make them fit well together. Below is one of the my favorite mash-ups. Its the Lost plane crash like you've never seen before.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Life lessons I've learned from Lost

Lost is currently in its 6th and last last season. I will be beyond sad when it is done. It is my favorite show of all time. There are few TV shows that havecaused me to think so much and made me anticipate the next episode as Lost has. As I look back on these past few years of Lost watching, I've realized I've learned a lot. So here are some lessons I've gleaned from Lost.


From the example of Jin and Sun, don't ever under any circumstance let your partner out of your sight. Bad things happen when they're not together.

If you're anyone else in the world, don't get involved with people like either Jack or Kate. Some people will always hurt you regardless, because that's the way they are.

Life and Death
No one can escape death forever. Even major characters are not exempt (Charlie). If you're not a major character, its just a matter of counting the minutes until death.

Mystery & Ambiguity
A little mystery and ambiguity makes life interesting. A lot of mystery makes life terrifying. An island of mysteries might be kind of cool if there were just a few, but having like 700 mysteries gets tiring.

You cannot under any circumstances escape from your fate. No matter how hard you try. Case in point, The Island - no matter how hard you try to leave, if you're meant to be there, you're going to either end up back there, even if you leave, or die trying not to end up back there.

Lost has taught me so much about life. When it is finally done, I don't know where I will go for life lessons. I guess I'll have to start watching Scrubs again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

recent views and reads

This post is lame, filler, not worth reading. But since I have nothing else to blog about, here are things I've read and watched that are much more than memorable (meaning I loved them):

The Baader-Meinhof Complex
District 9
How to Be
The Vanishing
Sin Nombre




Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Y: The Last Man

Sunday, January 17, 2010

blog silence

I haven't blogged for a while because I'm been on 'blog silence'. Its kind of like 'radio silence' like when a Special Forces team is about to invade en enemy's base. Well, not really.

I just haven't had anything worth writing about. And I still don't have much worth writing about. End of blog for today.