Saturday, December 25, 2010


today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! Christmas holds so many meanings for so many people. today has become a major commercial holiday in america, filled with the spirit of giving and receiving gifts. today is a day to spend time with family and friends and to enjoy one another's company. today (more likely last evening) is a time to go to church and celebrate this birth, whether church is a standard practice in people's lives or not.

no sense in further complicating the day, though. it is about the birth of Christ. oftentimes, this day is filled with things to do, meals to cook, and people to see. for the nelko family, our whole-family celebration will happen on monday due to circumstances. due to some other circumstances, i'm sitting in my empty house in pittsburgh for an hour or so right now enjoying some peaceful time. this time is golden. being away from the hustle and bustle of the day gives me the opportunity to really think about what this day means.

this day means that Christ arrived on this earth only to die for our sins. i can sit here today and enjoy some time of peace because Jesus Christ granted me this peace with his sacrifice. my spirits are at ease and my troubles cease when i remember that this world means nothing besides spreading the love and Word of Jesus Christ.

so for those of you who do not celebrate Christmas in this way, i apologize, but i was put on this earth to love God and spread the Word of Jesus Christ. His birth we celebrate today and it is through His blood that we may celebrate life every day.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

growing up

at some point we started to grow up. we're not really kids anymore. maybe we stopped being kids when we left for college or when we started driving. maybe it was that first kiss or even the first time we had to do homework instead of going outside to play. either way, we can't really be the kids we once were.

over the past week or so i have thought about this progression a few times. over the course of a handful of years, my life has gone from living in my parents house and paying for nothing besides gas to living on my own, paying rent, buying groceries, and job hunting. this transition happened so seamlessly that i didn't realize it really happened until this week! in this time, i started college where i stopped answering to my parents every day. eventually i moved off-campus, started paying for some of my rent and groceries, and thinking about what to do when college was over.

before i knew it, i am finishing graduate school and looking for a job. i'll start paying students loans and think about where i want to live that might not be pittsburgh. responsibility has come along without much warning, or maybe with plenty of warning.

either way, i don't want to grow up. fact is, i probably won't! while my friends are getting married and starting families, i'm still sitting back hoping that that perfect song comes along soon or that the avett brothers come within a 4 hour radius of our house. career goals? to get a job. something that i like. do i want to be a director? i don't know. probably? i'll get bored with one job and hope to get promoted to another, i'm sure.

the bottom line is that life can be about a lot of things. faith, friends, family, career, money, fame. for me, life is about enjoying every second. those seconds will be gone someday and you'll wish you enjoyed them all to the fullest. today, i encourage you to do whatever you want. do something that will put a smile on your face. or, better yet, do something that will put a smile on someone else's.

Friday, December 17, 2010

favorite albums of 2010

2010 was a sweet year for music. so much good stuff came out this year and i'm excited to share my favorites with you. let's get right into it.

10. Jimmy Eat World - Invented - JEW brought it again, and with a sound rivaling Futures. The album rocks top-to-bottom with a lot of feeling. "Heart is Hard to Find" and "My Best Theory" hit you with catchiness we remember from Bleed American while the album has an epic finish with a pair of winners; "Invented" and "Mixtape".

9. Steel Train - Steel Train - If you enjoy power pop, this is the album for you in 2010. Steel Train has changed their sound a bit, but they'll hit you in the face with glam and stick in your head for days to come.

8. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz - I don't know what to say about this album that hasn't already been said. It's confusing. It's mind-blowing. It's Sufjan Stevens doing something we've never heard. Where did the banjo go? Who knows, but this album is getting accolades for a reason.

7. The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt - I can't lie, Kristian Matsson isn't really that tall. But this album is the best solo album of the year. His voice is unmistakable and the songwriting gets to your heart. The album ends and you just want more and more.

6. House of Heroes - Suburba - This may be biased on my part, but who cares, it's my favorites. House of Heroes wrote the second-best album about the suburbs this year with a pop-punk beauty. The album brings you back to high school, singing about girls, school, and fights behind the bleachers.

5. The New Pornographers - Together - This was my first exposure to The New Pornographers and I'm glad it didn't take any longer. These Canadian folk have been around a while and pack the stage with 8 musicians. The music is poppy, but layered. The beats and lyrics are fun, but don't mess with Neko Case. She'll curse you out.

4. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms - I think I liked this album a lot more than other people. But I can't get enough. It didn't leave my CD player for a while because BoH is some smooth, relaxed, country-infused indie rock. The tunes are soothing when they're down and will get your foot tapping when they're up.

3. Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More - It took me a while to come around to this one, but the talent of Mumford and Sons is undeniable. Fans of the Avett Brothers are falling for Mumford for a reason. The songwriting is incredible, the energy is top-notch, and the emotion is unparalleled.

2. Hellogoodbye - Would it Kill You? - Pop-rock mastery. This is the best pop-punk album I've heard since Ocean Avenue. It's not the synth-infused pop music you heard on Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, but they're getting back to their roots. Every track is a hit and you can't pull it out of my CD player.

1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs - When I heard Funeral for the first time this summer, I didn't think an indie album could top it. Arguably, The Suburbs has. This album catches you at the beginning and flows the entire way. The best album writing about the suburbs this year, their approach is much more adult-themed, not in an XXX way but rather in a way that we look back at where we came from and wonder how we got here. Bottom line, this is one of the best albums I've ever heard. "The Suburbs" is the first single and caught my attention every time it came on the XM at work. The album has a flow that moves from one song to the next without a hitch. "We Used to Wait" has an incredible video associated with it at Before you realize that the album is almost over, it hits you with, arguably, the best closer you'll ever hear; "Sprawl II (Mountaints Beyond Mountains). The only downside? The album gets pretty depressing, but they're hipsters singing about growing up, what do you expect?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the pain of being a baseball fan: pirates and phillies

i've been blogging for a couple of years now, but i think it's time to break my sports silence.

i recently have had conversations with phillies fans about baseball fandom in general. i will say this: phillies fans are good, passionate, smart baseball fans. however, they look for far more sympathy from pirates fans than they deserve.

here are the hard facts: in the 1990s, the pirates and phillies sucked. after the pirates' 3 trips to the NLCS in 1990-1992 and the phillies' trip to the world series in 1993, pennsylvania produced 0 winning seasons of baseball. from 1994-2000, the pirates posted a 541-688 record (.440) and the phillies posted a 561-670 record (.456). the phillies win the number-of-worse-seasons battle, 4-3. pretty bad.

once the 2000s hit, though, things changed. from 2001 to 2010, the pirates posted a 607-848 record (.417) and the phillies a 796-661 record (.546). the phillies won 4 division titles, 2 national league pennants, and 1 world series. the pirates had a worse record all 10 years and finished under .500 every year with 2 100-loss seasons.

last night the phillies signed cliff lee, adding the best pitcher in baseball to a stacked rotation of roy halladay, roy oswalt, and cole hamels. this might be the best rotation ever assembled in baseball history. the phillies are instant front-runners for the world series. they acquired cliff lee for less money than he was offered by the yankees because lee has enough integrity to do so. the 4th-highest payroll in baseball just increased and will certainly move up.

here's my point: phillies fans have been claiming their awfulness from the 1990s. they were almost as equally bad as the pirates and had a worse record as many times as the pirates in the 90s, but it's time to stop the madness. phillies fans have to let go. yes, they were bad, but they're not anymore. they're good. they're very good. they will probably win a couple more world series, at least, before this staff disassembles. it's time to take ownership of the high-salary, high-quality baseball team on the field.

there is no comparison between pirates fans and phillies fans; we're cheering for different worlds. pirates fans live in a world of hopelessness and despair where our major free agent signings are other teams' middle-of-the-trash-heap fodder. players don't want to play for the pirates and i don't blame them. management is terrible. ownership is stingy. the aura of losing can be felt from april til july (when dem stillers start training camp and the pirates become an afterthought). it's a depressing state. the stadium is beautiful and the fans are loyal, but that can only be attractive for so long.

the phillies, though, they're good. the fans are loyal, the stadium is also beautiful, the money is there, and the players are winners. it's a great place for a baseball player to be. but it's time for fans to take ownership of this identity. they're not the lovable losers of the 90s anymore; they're lovable winners.

bottom line: pirates fans will no longer listen to a phillies fan talk about how hard it's been to be a philadelphia baseball fan. we just don't want to hear it. that era is over and a new one has started; one where the phillies compete with the red sox and yankees. it's not a bad thing, philly. it's a good thing. your team is competitive and has a legitimate chance to win the world series every year. i wish the pirates could spend that kind of money on free agents.

it's time to own it, though. the phillies may be called the next evil empire, but who cares? you're cheering for winning baseball. i am more envious than i'd care to describe.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

social networking

alright, i did it. i caved and started using twitter. i feel like a sort of sellout because i try so hard not to give in to technology! but the fact is that i am a writer, a blogger, a communicator. in this day and age it's impossible for me to gain exposure doing these things without using all of the available resources.

here are a few of my stances regarding technology and communication:

first, i appreciate the advancement, so let me say that first. communication is important for someone who is extraverted and disorganized like me. i like being able to call, text, email, and blog basically whenever i want. i thrive off of being in constant communication with people.

second, i like being able to turn it all off. as much as i appreciate being able to do these things whenever i want, i also enjoy being able to avoid them whenever i want, too. this is why i hope to never own a phone that can access the internet.

third, we wouldn't be where we are today without these advancements; good and bad. we know what's happening in people's lives so much, which can be fun, but can be overwhelming and intrusive, as well. did you know that miley cyrus took a bong hit? and there's a video? i hear it wasn't pot, though, so billie ray can sleep easy.

all this being said, i like to utilize technology. i thought that i'd consider myself a sellout if i used blogger, facebook, myspace, and twitter. but, the fact is that i do enjoy it, so i might as well just sell out. i like to write and make music, and the best way to share these things today is with blogging and myspace. the best way to market blogs and music is with facebook and twitter.

so here i am, blogging about it. i'll probably put up a facebook status and a tweet about this blog, too. then maybe i'll write a song about how i like writing songs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

live an etraordinary life

today i really wanted a cheeseburger and fries for lunch. i packed a lunch, but i didn't want a cold peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so i bought a cheeseburger. that's not extraordinary. i had a long morning and wanted comfort food. that is very normal. no one wants to read that. i'm sorry i wrote it.

today, live an extraordinary life. do something worth talking about; something worth writing about. donald miller encourages people to live a better story in his latest book, "a million miles in a thousand years". for those who haven't read it, he travels the incan trail to machu picchu, bikes across the country, and encounters some incredible people. all of these things happen because he makes them happen.

so today do something worth talking about. it's a friday, it's a workday, but do something to make it interesting. i already have an idea of how to make my day memorable, so it's time to step up and do something extraordinary.