Sunday, May 24, 2009

Two Kinds of Fliers (airplane, not paper)

A friend of mine asked if I planned to write in my blog about the touring life. Well for all of you waiting, here it is. The first blog about an aspect of touring life – and this has NOTHING to do with a show.

I’ve come to the realization that there are two types of fliers when it comes to commercial air travel. There are idiots, and there are experts. That’s the only two options. No one falls between the two. I include myself. Let’s delve deeper into each.

In the idiots’ defense, most air travel idiots are not your general life idiots. Many an air travel idiot functions with ease and normalcy in his everyday life; but a strange thing happens when he first drives onto airport property and haunts him until he leaves the airport grounds of his destination. He forgets how to drive. Lane changes are arbitrary, and with little concern for the safety of others. He can’t seem to get that suitcase out of the trunk without unloading the spare tire and trying to hand it to the curbside check-in attendant who, by the way, does not represent the airline upon which the idiot will be flying today. The idiot can not see the next available check-in kiosk at check-in; has stored his ID somewhere beneath his laptop in his briefcase, and is immune to the coddling kindly offered up by the TSA agents as he invariably earns a bag check whilst simultaneously setting off the metal detector. Signs and gate numbers may as well be gibberish to the idiot, as well as boarding announcements. The idiot will always carry a bag onto the plane that will not fit in the overhead. The idiot enjoys his music, but forgot his headphones. The idiot can’t find baggage claim, and can’t understand why his spare tire isn’t on the belt when luggage does begin to spin round and round.

Most likely sitting next to the idiot is the expert, and I admit I place myself in this category. The expert is most likely a frequent flyer and is familiar with the way things work at an airport; and he can prove it because he has a story that will always one-up whatever is currently happening in your air travel experience. The expert has a favorite parking spot in the long-term lot, mostly due to the timing of the shuttle busses and the cost effectiveness of the long-term lot. The expert has, in his lifetime, worked as a TSA agent, ticket agent, baggage handler, flight attendant, jet-bridge driver, aircraft re-fueler, co-pilot, pilot, flight engineer, air traffic controller and de-icer for a MAJOR airline. He has a membership to the airline lounge but never takes guests because it is a “special place.” He has an opinion about everything, and regularly offers to perform the flight safety briefing prior to take-off.

These are the only two kinds of people in an airport; and one is neither better nor worse than the other. The magic and the ease of traveling comes, just as in life, when you know who you are. If you are an idiot, know it. If you are an expert, know it. Then, as you arrive at the airport try to subdue the overt tendencies you display as part of your natural role in air travel. Idiots take your time and be on the lookout for the next thing coming. Experts – well how do I put this gently? Experts, shut up. Together we can make air travel a more positive experience for all the idiots and experts of the world.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Pendulum

First of all - a friend asked the other day if I was going to Blog about touring stuff and music stuff, and I certainly am; but I can never start something like this when I'm doing the road part of my job, so these first few are going to be just observations. By the way - does anyone actually care to hear about the road stuff? And if so, more or less than the other random thoughts? I'll take comments . . .

I've been struck lately by the pendulum of personality. In myself and others I keep noticing the extreme swings of trying to figure out who we are and how we work.

The first crest of the pendulum swing comes along when we have swung as far as possible in our natural direction and find that position to be less than useful in everyday life. For instance, if you are a person that says what you think, you might find yourself at the extreme of that swing when you offend someone you care deeply about by sharing something they weren't quite ready to hear from you. Granted, you didn't mean to hurt anyone - you just naturally say what you think.

And as a result of guilt, or a tried and true effort at learning from mistakes - we come to the opposing swing of the pendulum. Now, we find ourselves avoiding at all costs that which comes naturally to us. This reaction is probably a natural response but can be detrimental in other aspects of our lives. Now we are out of balance - trying to live our lives outside our natural strengths and exposing and wounding our weaknesses.

So we swing a little less in the other direction, then back towards our insecurities and over time we settle into a shorter swing that serves as as a well-rounded individual.

I've started to notice my swings; and the sad part is that I kind of hoped I was old enough to be past them. I feel like I know who I am - but I still swing hard sometimes and the swings themselves can be frustrating. I keep learning from them and looking forward to the day when the balance of my various pendulums swing evenly and smoothly in a controlled circle. Then again I have to wonder if I will ever get there. This life is full of curve balls and every one swings at a curve ball from time to time (get it, swings?). Maybe its a calming thing to simply recognize the swing and work with intent towards finding the middle ground.

Pendulum - I remember seeing a huge one when I was young, but never imagined it would stick like it has.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lost Art

I took off to Birmingham, AL tonight to catch a show on Jars of Clay's current tour. They are going to headline Creation Festival: The Tour, which I am Production Managing, in the fall and I wanted to observe them do their thing to generate ideas as to how myself and our production staff might best serve the Jars of Clay folks in the fall. I came out with some ideas, which I expected. What I didn't expect was to come out pondering how lame Christians can be when it comes to music.

I haven't been able to put down this new Jars of Clay record since, um, well . . . since before it was released. Top to bottom I love the message, lyrics, arrangements, textures, hooks, and most of all the intentionality of the art that I hear in Jars' latest effort. There are subtle nuances to this record that keep me coming back for more.

And then somewhere along the way tonight I started to think that the artistic element of what these guys do is lost on all but a small sector of the Christian Music Market, and let's face it a small sector of the Christian Music Market is REALLY small. Luckily, they are skilled at writing catchy hooks that play well to radio - but why, oh why is the Christian music consumer so overwhelmingly simple in their tastes? I would think an audience that acknowledges and seeks deep spiritual growth and connection with God would latch on to someone really digging into those conflicts of who we are growing to be and all that happens along that road - particularly if it entails a level of artistic merit that only serves to focus and intensify the experience. But I just feel like people miss it, and it's an absolute shame.

On a moderately separate note, there was a kid standing on the floor a few feet in front of the stage tonight that totally reminded me of myself in high school. He was a little taller than I would have been but other than that he had it all: black Chuck Taylors; bowl-style haircut; awkward sense of self-consciousness about how much he enjoyed the music; the occasional dance move that stopped abruptly when he realized what just happened;clapping when told to; jumping when told to but never too high; and of course standing at the foot of the stage when all was said and done and looking for that last little bit of connection to what just happened. I think he got it though. I think he connected to more than a beat to resist dancing to. He payed attention - he knew the words without a video screen. This kid might have a future around music, who knows. Or maybe in 13-15 years he will just be another jaded blogger. Anything is possible.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is hungry?

Two days into my healthier lifestyle and I spent a lot of time today considering what "I'm hungry" really means. And I have two categories of I'm hungry for your consideration:

Category I: My stomach/body aches or is telling me in some way that I need some sustenance to continue functionally normally. There is a certain degree of discomfort involved. This is probably the truest of the two hungries and the one I am trying to pay more attention to in my "healthy living" efforts.

Category II: I say I'm hungry, but really I just want something to eat. I have a craving for ice cream, or normally have a snack at a certain of time of the day so I'm salivating in expectation. This might be called the Pavlov category.

That's all I really got. BUT I did blog today so that's keeping another commitment. I'm going to get some ice cream . . .

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 1 of Fitness time - 2.76 miles and according to my friendly iPod I ran my fastest mile this morning at 9 minutes and 28 seconds. No doubt myself and friends will pay for that later today with ample whining - but it is a start. Anyone have a banana?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Music Boat, New Blog

This is a new blog site for me - the ole .Mac web hosting is going away so I have to start over somewhere and this seems like the easiest place, though honestly I don't even know the address at this point.

I'm back home from the Music Boat - an experience to say the least. Not sure a cruise is my ideal vacation, but there were definitely some fun moments. It's a good thing that last day at sea was a fairly full schedule - otherwise cabin fever may have taken over my life. It was great to spend five days with my parents and catch up with my old friend Nathan - not to mention getting to see a few performances that will become ingrained in my being come the fall.

When I got home yesterday I decided to start a few new things - and while I'm wondering if it will all pass as a phase that never played out to the point of habit - here is what's on the docket:

1. Blog more
2. Twitter - and hope to find the value in a Tweet that exceeds a Facebook Status update
3. Fitness Time - my word for work out and live a little healthier

Let's talk about #3 - it's time to start running again. And trying to eat a little healthier. I don't eat too much right now, so between a little working out and slightly better dining habits I might be able to shape up. Biggest thing for me might be eliminating Dr. Pepper from my diet. That's a huge undertaking in my life - so keep my in your prayers.

I've got about two weeks at home to get kicking on all of this. It's welcome time for sure. I value home way more than I ever have before. Love it.