Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dear NFL - Social Media Research Shows . . .

Dear NFL - in a service to the planning committee of next year's Super Bowl, I have compiled the following social media research regarding impressions of this year's event. Please sit down.

Darthvader: that halftime show did more to crush the rebellion in 30 minutes than I ever did

Seriously sound guy, how hard is it to mix 4 mics and an iPod?

I didn't know the black eyed peas had a cult

Somebody just tweeted they couldn't hear the music behind the vocals. Music? Was there music? I thought they were an A cappella group!?!?

That was the longest 3 hr half time show ever!


I think it's a big challenge to mix tracks these days. (not)

It's official.... Music just died

Not sure who's more or Jamie Fox?

In other news, my grandmorther just applied for the broadcast mix enginner position for the 2012 SuperBowl

Someone please take out the soundguy at the super bowl... Fergie stop yelling and please stop singing.

Slash popped up, and Usher came down.

Am I old, or are these very, very average singers at best? Not sure they would make it out of American Idol auditions

And I thought the "hawk" letters had problems. They can't even light up the whole "V" at the super bowl. YES!

Who else thinks the black eyed peas sound guy is getting fired tonight?

I think the LOVE letters had a wardrobe malfunction. It just kinda says lo'e.

The world needs rock n roll. Bad.

They just became carebears.

So basically Slash just said "Andrew, I don't want to be one of your favorite guitarists anymore".

Everyone would have enjoyed a William Hung and Susan Boyle collab more than this.

I think we've answered the "can the black eyed peas sing" question. Fail.

Slash has the enthusiasm of a tollbooth attendant.

They seem to have the same sound guy our church has, vocal up after a line or two.

one good thing about the superbowl...all the field lights came back on. :)

Um, well...that happened..

My 4 year old could do a better mix for the halftime show! Not that it would make the black eye peas sound better.

Look out Ashley Simpson, Fergie is looking to out-fail you.

it's like i'm watching a really high-end production of a 5th grade talent show

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I just sat for an hour-and-half watching AC360 broadcast from the floor of an interior room near the heart of Cairo in Egypt. I sat in a mixture of confusion, anger and utter disappointment as CNN recounted how a peaceful uprising had devolved into a violent street fight.

The outpouring of civil disobedience in Egypt over the past week was an inspiration to me. I watched with wonder and great hope something that I don't know has happened in my lifetime in the Middle East. A largely middle class population, with no clear leadership or alternative, simply decided to stand up and shrug off the autocratic regime that has ruled them for the last fifty years. First, these are educated people. This isn't a poverty-sticken population rising up behind the false hope that a change in leadership will pave the way for their instant well-being. These Egyptians in the streets well understand the ramifications of their actions - and they choose that risk in the hopes of a more free society. Not only that, but there is, to this point, no clear leadership driving these people to demand a change. They rally behind no man. They offer no head to cut off. This is truly one body rising against a single man. It is inspiring.

And then yesterday happened; Mubarak, sensing the writing on the wall, decided to make his stand. Let me be clear; a peaceful uprising has been usurped by a single man's passion for power. Secret police and their conscripts have acted on his behalf to thrust the nation into chaos.

It is a strange illustration of politics in the Middle East. The people of Egypt understand the principles of civil disobedience to bring about change. They understand the greater good of a free society. Mubarak understands none of this. Civil disobedience and protest hold no ultimatum for a man embedded in wealth and power and shamelessly disconnected from the reality of his citizenship. That for which these people take a stand would end the only life Mubarak has ever known. Clearly a man that chooses his personal comfort and lifestyle over the greater good is a a despot.

I am smart enough to watch the television and discern all of this. Yet sadly, sitting in the greatest bastion of liberty this world has known, I also understand that my people will do little or nothing to help the people of Egypt. We can't. This is not "our fight". We have no vested interest in Egypt. If we were to intervene the American people would, justly, cry foul of putting US lives at risk for another nation. A US intervention would most likely doom a new leadership to suspicions of a puppet government, with the US and Israel being the grand puppeteer. Not to mention that we simply are not good nation builders (see Afghanistan and Iraq).

We live in an incredibly complex world. There are an infinite number of forces at play at all times. In these moments when these forces collide, we are often left with no choice but to realize their power and our smallness. And that is where I sit; feeling small in a world with forces I will never be able to control. Yet I am awed by the fact that so many in Egypt have decided they may be able to change the tides these forces control, and I wish them all the best. I will continue to watch them struggle and offer prayers that God may find their cause just and pave the way for a better Egypt.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Life Philosophy

My wife tweeted something along the lines of "What's the secret to life" the other day. There's a question that you see and forget . . . . or not. I don't know if there's one secret, but I've thought of several personal philosophies and here they are:

-Know Yourself: Take every opportunity to turn an eye inward and discover who you are as a person. Your strengths, weaknesses, excesses and limits are all a crucial part of finding your stride in life. Only when you understand these and move through them with confidence will life be as rich as it can be.
-Be Diligent: Never miss a chance to engage something. Work, play or relaxation, be 100% there for them all.
-Heal: We are all broken people. Take the time to discover the brokenness, embrace it and start a journey of healing.
-Experiences last a lifetime: There is more life in the world than any one person will ever experience, but that shouldn't stop anyone from trying. Taking in things outside of our day-to-day routine challenge us and broaden our understanding of how amazing life can be.
-Embrace Relationship: This one isn't always pretty, but it's the way we were made to live; side-by-side, arm-in-arm; pick your clichè. We can't do anything above on our own. Life is made ever so richer when we share it with others.

To this point in my life, these are the five things that have most led me to happiness. These apply to spiritual pursuits, professional lives, personal lives - all are far reaching. But it may not matter, since my wife stole her tweeted question from a television commercial. Hmmm . . . number 6 might be "don't get duped by a TV commercial".

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Top 10 Songs

I'm not clear if Jon Steingard or Justin Benner issued the challenge, but it's time now to list my top 10 songs of all time. A few disclaimers: these are the top ten - they are not ranked one through ten. It was hard enough getting it down to only ten tunes. Also, these are the top ten tunes I own - I can't imagine trying to draw out the top ten tunes I have EVER heard. That's got to be impossible. OK enough disclaimers - here we go:

"Book of My Life", Sting: From the "Sacred Love" album, Sting's lyric captures a bevy of universal human experiences. I love this tune.

"Cathedrals", Jump Little Children: There is a LOT of good music in this world that goes undiscovered by the masses. I have a feeling this may be one of those situations. This band was from the town 30 minutes down the road from where I grew up, so this tune was always a beauty I took for granted, but in researching what happened to Jump Little Children it appears they never made it and are no longer together.

"Eleanor Rigby", The Beatles: There can be no greater example of collaboration bringing art to a higher form. Paul McCartney tells the story of all the people we never notice, and George Martin adds the urgency of "the lonely people" with a string arrangement that stands well on it's own (if curious, the string tracks only are available on Beatles Anthology 2)

"What Sarah Said", Death Cab for Cutie: The power of the coda! It's a little used technique in pop music, and works so well in this tune to turn a deathly sad story into an action item for our lives. I love it. Not to mention the subtlety of the drums as the coda builds. Wrenching!

"Ghost", Indigo Girls: The greatest encapsulation of what it's like to be young and have lost love. Through high school (and even once or twice in college) I can remember riding in late 80's model Hondas, every person in the car singing this song in perfect harmony as we let loose the feelings we didn't yet know how to handle but nonetheless found enthralling.

"Take Me Out the Ballgame": With lyrics by Jack Norworth and music by Albert Van Tilzer, this is a classic from old Tin Pan Alley. It is the score to the happiest moment in sports, the old seventh inning stretch, and I hear it as a testament to the timelessness of the game of baseball. It wasn't until 20 years after the writing of this song that EITHER of the composers actually attended a baseball game; yet on a subway car in Manhattan it took just 15 minutes to pen a lyric that stands for all the joys of America's game. (are you convinced that this is my list yet?)

"Hide and Seek", Imogen Heap: This song turned me around on electronic music. I'm a fan of lines in music, and though this sounds quite chordal I find it a stunning marriage of classical writing techniques and electronic music. To me, this is what beautiful electronic music can be.

"Things We've Handed Down", Marc Cohn: The honesty of this song is disarming. It's a perfect pairing of gentle musical questioning and a deep sense of awe-struck wonder. I love Marc Cohn's approach to songwriting.

"Cry On Demand", Ryan Adams: Geez, this is the saddest song ever written. It's so simple and deeply personal in Ryan Adams's rendering of the lyric. I can't avoid feeling the pain that inspired this song, and that is the beauty of music.

"With or Without You", U2: An entire song that is, essentially, a crescendo. And when the fortissimo arrives it's with such restraint that the tension is hardly released . . . just three notes from the guitar and a screaming lead singer. Add a live performance with a crowd of thousands unanimously and cathartically belting a non-sense syllable and you've touched upon genius.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post Wedding Blog

It's been just a couple of days since Ashley and I tied the knot, and whilst in the process of preparing for that joyous day I sat down a few times to try to capture the experience and share a bit of what it was like from where I sat. The trouble is, the process was so overwhelming that at no point could I find words that adequately expressed the flood of sensations that accompanies such a momentous occasion.

But we are married now. We are far from settled, but we are married and perspective on the experience is coming a bit easier. I feel a bit of a disclaimer is needed before I go any further: my perspective on a wedding/getting married is that of a guy: in no way is this a rendering of what the Bride's experience may be. Also, I am speaking in broad generalizations in most instances so of course exceptions will exist to the conclusions drawn below.

First of all, I will say that I don't think most guys have any idea that when they say "will you marry me?", it is most often answered with "oh boy, we're going to have a wedding!" Absolutely the two of us want to get and be married for the rest of our lives: but never did it cross my mind when I asked Ashley to marry me that we would embark on this journey of THE WEDDING. And it is a journey to say the least. There are peaks and valleys along the trail: the weather can turn rough despite the forecast and whilst there are many a sherpa along the way, few know the way better than the two of you standing at the altar on your wedding day.

Now that the question has been asked, and the wedding snowball is gaining gerth, let's get to what happens as the wedding approaches. For me, I found it to be a troubling time in terms of identity. Somewhere along the way I ceased to be "Josh" and became a bevy of other forms of "guy who is getting married." As if the re-designation of worth by friends and peers isn't challenging enough, there is truly a sense that life is about to change and I found myself trying to become more comfortable with what "after-marriage Josh" would look like than I care to admit. The over-whelming challenge here is that in the time when I most needed to be checking on, acknowledging and dealing with my emotions, far too often I tried to frame them into a new "me". I actually found myself in the rear-view mirror a few times, as I sped along towards our wedding.

Here's a thought that you may not have considered previously, but became profoundly clear to me the day prior to our wedding: I found getting married to be, at times, belittling. I'll say that I may be a bit more in touch with my emotions than most other fellas, so perhaps I am more susceptible to this rendering of the experience. This experience stems from the in-numerable comments that my life (as the guy) is about to get fixed/changed/repaired/set straight since a woman is now coming to live with me. It's one thing to say things are going to change: but that something about the way I live is going to get FIXED? Well I found that fairly insulting. I've been doing just fine with the scratched-up pots and pans everyone cheers my wife for throwing away . . .

This one's going to be a bit subtle as well, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention (and this is the broadest of generalizations) the roles I found friends and family played in the wedding events. I found family, for the most part, seeking to be involved and friends seeking to support. Family members were more likely to approach myself or the bride and offer a suggestion, observation or proposed role for themselves as we moved towards the actual big day. Friends tended to just ask what I needed, or in the most amazing cases observe something that needed to be fixed and simply fix it without any fanfare. Both roles definitely have their place.

The overwhelming joy of the actual wedding stemmed from our union for sure - seeing my Bride coming towards me up the stairs whilst feeling my heart try to pump it's way closer to her will forever stand out as one of the greatest moments of my life: it's right up there with when I got to kiss my WIFE for the first time! Just behind those moments though is the unique joining of friends and family. I had to stop in my tracks when I walked in rehearsal and saw how many people had gathered to join us in joining together. And this was a group of people that I doubt we will EVER have together again in our lifetimes. All families were represented: friends from near and far that coalesced as good friends do, colleagues from now and long ago - it was simply amazing. We live in a compartmentalized world. I spend time with my family, time with my friends in Nashville, go to community group and have my church friends, and I work with this group of people - but rarely do you see ALL of these folks in one place and realize what a blessing the people in our lives truly are. It was so incredibly overwhelming.

And now, as I write this - all of those experience as still sorting themselves out. The idea of responsibility as a husband is weighing heavy right now. Yet at the same time I don't feel like I'm really married. It's a limbo of sorts. But it's a real limbo and a beautiful one. And I'm grateful for all of it - because never have I felt so much growth descend upon two people in as timely a manner as that which a wedding demands. And we will forever reap the benefits of the experience. Right on into eternity.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Ease of Helping - A Reminder

I've hardly left my room this morning. For some reason I landed in front of my computer soon after getting out of bed. But that's not to say I haven't done anything. I took this morning to print some photos and write to Shailesh, my WorldVision sponsored child in India. AND I checked in on my Kiva account, added a few dollars and contributed to two micro-loans: one in Iraq and one in Palestine. I always feel like something greater has been accomplished on mornings like this. I haven't actually left my room - but through my simple ability to donate $30 at a time, I've used what I have to send love and grace to other parts of the world. It's really quite simple. I've included the links to these wonderful organizations below, and encourage you to check this out or find your own way to contribute.
Child Sponsorship at $30/month
Micro-lending for individuals around the globe. Your donation supports a portion of a loan of your choosing. When the funds are repaid, you may re-loan. It's sustainable giving.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Landlord's Spiritual Observation

My landlord, who collects the rent by noon on the first of each month, has a pretty limited understanding of exactly what it is I do. He knows I am usually not home when he comes to get the rent (but can't seem to remember that the rent check is typically right where he can find it), and that I do something that involves the church. I think a lot of the disconnect stems from his being a Romanian Immigrant - there really isn't a Christian Music Business in Romania, so the reality is that my role in support Christian artists is quite foreign to him. Not to mention that he is Catholic and, well - I just don't get a lot of work from the OTHER CCM (Contemporary CATHOLIC Music).

I tell you all of these things because I find it fascinating when he comes to pick up the rent and I am actually home. He and I always try to connect on one of the few fronts we connect upon. Most recently he commented on the fact that I seem to be gone more now that the economy is weak than I was in stronger economic days. I played this off as more the result of my primary client's recording cycle, but he pressed on and made the following astute spiritual observation:

"People, they look to Jesus when things are not going well. The Church always does better when things get rough. The pews are fuller on Sunday. I saw it during Romanian Revolution. But when things get good again, they will forget about Jesus and the Church will struggle - because then everyone will be OK and not need Jesus anymore."

Amen brother. Sad but true.

So the question I have been left to ponder is this: are we missing something as a church if we experience an influx of folks seeking refuge, and in the time that shelter is provided cannot provide enough warmth and love to create a more permanent home for these folks? Where are we not living up to the Church model provided in the New Testament if so many in need can slip through the cracks of our physical and spiritual structures?

I don't have the answer - but I think the converstaion is worth the question.