Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Church

Sunday, September 17, 2006 0
We may have found our church here in Atlanta. We've only been twice, but so far it seems like this is probably where we'll end up. It's called Northpoint Community Church and it's in Alpharetta, Ga. The pastor is a guy named Andy Stanley (you might have heard of him...he's written some books and I think speaks at Promise Keepers and stuff). Another one you may have heard of is Louie Giglio...he leads the singles service and is known for his affiliation with the Passion Praise conferences. It's kind of far away (it takes 35-40 minutes to get there, but really everything here does) and it's soooooo big. I mean big big. You may think you've seen big churches before (ala Central Christian), but seriously...this church makes that look like a start up in a middle school gym. The first time we visited a few weeks ago, we got there late and had to park literally 1/2 a mile away and walk to the church. When we got inside, the main auditorium and the overflow were both full and we had to sit on the floor at the back. The message was really good, but we didn't think we would go back because it was really kind of a hassle. We visited another church a few times which was ok, but I just had a weird feeling like maybe everything was just a little too slick. It's hard to explain...the preaching seemed ok and the music was good. I all just felt very plastic. I was getting a vibe from the praise band that just seemed phony. The whole time they were up there playing I felt like they were posing for a CD cover or something. So we went back to Northpoint today and even though it's more of a logistical challenge, it just feels a lot more right. Andy Stanley is such an engaging speaker. He's funny and really down to earth and just has a very conversational way about him almost like you're just sitting across the kitchen table having a conversation. It's just comes across as so accessible that you almost don't realize how powerful the thing's he's sharing are. Most of his messages from the past year are can watch the video or listen to the audio if you have time. His message on Intimacy with God is especially good. He started a series today called "The Cross, the Star and the Crescent". It's about the relationship and historic connection between Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Really interesting stuff. The only part of this church that I'm worried about is that it's so big I really want to make sure we get connected. We still don't really know anyone here yet, so church will be our main avenue for meeting people and making friends. I miss our friends back home so much. It's nice though to kind of have the church question settled so at least we can start with some kind of a routine there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Wednesday, September 13, 2006 1
I have a confession to make. This won't mean much to some people, but I feel like I 've been living a lie and I have to unburden myself. I can't keep this inside any more. This is difficult for me to say because I've been hiding for so long now, I almost don't remember what it was like before I started lying. goes. I never liked Nirvana. I finally decided that I couldn't keep up the facade anymore when I was driving home this week and heard "All Apologies" for about the 9th time this week and I just snapped. They're lyrics are nonsense, sonically they were marginally creative at best. The best thing about Nirvana is that they gave Dave Grohl a band to play in until he formed the Foo Fighters (which are 10 times the band that Nirvana was). Even among the Seattle "grunge" scene of the early 90's Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were far superior in my mind. I'm sorry if this disappoints you, I never meant to hurt anyone. I know I'm supposed to like Nirvana and think that Kurt Cobain was some kind of revolutionary Rock and Roll Messiah who burned out too soon. I just never saw it. I hope we can still be friends.

I need to make a few clarifications to this post - I'm not saying that Nirvana didn't have any positive affect on the musical landscape. I'm just saying that my favorite song that they ever did was a cover of a David Bowie Song ("The Man Who Sold the World") and not even one of their own. The best thing I can attribute to them is that they more or less ended the Hair Metal phase of the late 80's/early 90's. It had basically congealed into a lump of vodka and Aqua-Net and was likely circling the drain anyway, but if anything Nirvana put it and us out of our collective misery. I'm They served their purpose....but it's time to move on.

Shakeup at Victory Records

Interesting news from one of my current favorite bands, Hawthorne Heights. For everybody who thinks that being a rock star is all partys and free schwag, read this letter. I guess the moral of the story is just because you're on MTV doesn't mean you're rich.

The REAL Manifesto

Due to recent events we have decided to leave Victory Records. Our departure is anything but amicable. We have decided to leave Victory, in part due to the actions of the man who sits at the head of the label, Tony Brummel. Tony Brummel is a man that cares more about his ego and bank account than the bands themselves.

Many of you are familiar with the greed driven letters sent out by Mr. Brummel: his manifesto calling rock supporters to arms and virtual declaration of war on hip-hop and Ne-Yo done under the guise of a band
message; as well as the “street-team” letter which instructed people to re-arrange our CDs, putting them in higher visibility areas in stores. Unfortunately, the head of street-team, Abby Valentine, who understandably resigned following the incident, took the fall for this.

At the time of the letters we were branded as racists by some, all over a letter we did NOT write, targeting a genre which we have NOTHING against whatsoever. Because of these letters, our second album debuted at #3 on the charts, an incredible feat, which would normally be cause for joy, but now is tainted much like Barry Bonds’ statistics.

When questioned about the letters Tony was more upset that we had told the press that he actually wrote the letters (not us) because he was more worried about “rumors” surrounding Taking Back Sunday and Thursday’s exoduses being justified than the credibility and reputation of his current biggest band.

Couple these letters with him threatening the head program director at Q101 in Chicago for putting the new Taking Back Sunday song into rotation to the point in which the program director pulls “Saying Sorry” from rotation and you can see why we would more than question whether or not the head of our label cares about us or his own ego more.

Tony is a man whose greed knows no bounds. After selling more than 1.2 million copies of The Silence In Black and White and If Only You Were Lonely, we have never seen a single dollar in artist royalties from Victory Records. Tony will claim that we have not “recouped,” a term used by those in the music business which means the label has spent more money in advertising than has been made by CD sales. In fact questionable accounting practices are the culprit and we are in fact owed substantial amounts of money much like audits from Taking Back Sunday, Thursday and Atreyu have uncovered.

You may be wondering, why now? Why did they wait three years before saying something? Why did they sound happy in that interview??? Like being in an abusive relationship, we let certain things slide as we were afraid, as many of the bands on Victory are, to stick our neck out for fear of being “beaten,” in this case represented by the threat of not being promoted as has been the case with certain bands on the roster. We’re done being abused. The reasons stated above represent the final straw in a huge pile of hay that broke our backs.

Undoubtedly Tony will proclaim that we are ungrateful and our success was due solely to “his” promotional efforts. In reality, promotion is only a portion of the equation in a bands success. Even then, in our case especially, promotional efforts can be attributed the hard work of the band and staff at Victory, many of whom recently resigned or were fired due to differences with Tony. Non-stop touring, dedicated fans and songs (we challenge Tony to sell over 1 million blank CDs) account for the rest of the equation.

We’ve accomplished more in three years than most bands do in a lifetime and for that we are extremely grateful and consider ourselves very fortunate. Our situation with Tony Brummel is indicative of issues that all bands on Victory Records encounter on some level or another.

We have decided to remove ourselves from the negative situation so that we can continue to do what we love best and focus on writing and playing music to people that care about what we have created.

Hawthorne Heights

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ben Folds is the greatest

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 0
I've mentioned this before but I'm pretty sure it bears repeating. Ben Folds is probably the best songwriter working today. I've been listening to his EP's Sunny 16 and Super D the last couple of days. His lyrics can be a bit profane at times (i.e. he cusses like a sailor on some tracks) but there is an undeniable beauty there as well. Honestly, he speaks more truth in a lot of his music than some of what I hear on Christian radio these days. You could well find yourself having an epiphany or 2 about your life or the people in it by spending some time with Ben.

This is one of the songs that I find myself listening to over and over again. Not because I'm unhappy with my life...far from it. I just think it's a truth that many people don't want to accept. That you can come to a point where you start to say "is this as good as it gets? Is this all there is for me? Is this what I am going to be?" And sometimes the answer to that question is yes. You think your life is going to turn out one way and it turns out another. You think you're going to be a fireman when you grow up and end up being an investment banker or a cop or pouring coffee at Starbucks. And there's no big surprise waiting around the corner and there's no moment of truth in your life where it all falls into place. It is what it is...good or bad, it is what it is. The good news is if you have people around you who love you for what you are, it doesn't matter whether it turned out the way you planned. Do yourself a favor and go find this song on iTunes or Yahoo or something.

Learn To Live With What You Are

I know that you're in there
I can see you
You're saying you're ok
I don't believe you
And now that the gig is off
The spell is broken
The fat lady sung
The president has spoken
These days that you were waiting for
Will come and go
Like any day
Just another day

There's never gonna be a moment of truth for you
While the world is watching
All you need is the thing you forgotten
And that's to learn to live with what you are

So freak out if you wanna
And I'll still be here
Don't call me for years and when you do
Yeah, I'll still be here
I'm not saying the effort is a waste of time – but
I Just love you for the things you couldn't change
Though you've tried
These hours of confusion they will soon expire
Like everything

There's never gonna be a moment of truth for you
While the world is watching
All you need is the thing you've forgotten
And that's to learn to live with what you are

Everything you've ever wanted
Floats above
sticking out its tongue and laughing
While everything
Anyone can ever need
Is down below
Waiting for you to notice

There's never gonna be a moment of truth for you
While the world is watching
All you need is the thing you've forgotten
And that's to learn to live with what you are
You got to learn to live with what you
You got to learn to live with what you are

Monday, September 11, 2006

Perks of working for the company that owns NBC

Monday, September 11, 2006 0
I was in a training session today for a software tool that GE has available to it's employees. It was pretty uneventful until they used as an example of the tool the internal document site for the Conan O'Brian Show. Over my lunch hour I started exploring a little and came across the repository for the last 13 seasons worth of show transcripts. I found some classic "In the year 2000" bits which are some of my favorite things ever. Here are a couple of good ones.




Sunday, September 10, 2006

This is a test

Sunday, September 10, 2006 0
This is a test to see if the remote blogging feature I set up works. If it does, then hang on to your hats party people cuz my posts are about to get a lot more frequent. I'm bout to turn this mutha out...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Digging ditches

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 0
I heard something on the radio today that made me think. It was a commercial for some tech school and the guy was saying something about not wanting to dig ditches all his life. So I started thinking "does anybody really do that anymore?" People used to threaten their kids with that right? "You better stay in school or you're gonna be digging ditches for a living". But seriously, I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually digging a ditch. Then I started thinking what if you were ok with that? What if you were like "whatever...I'm cool with digging ditches...pass me a shovel and clock me in bro". So you're thinking that you beat the system and life is sweet. You get to party all through the 10th grade and then just slide right into your ditch digging career and it's all good because you don't need much money and you don't really have a problem slinging that shovel. Just think how pissed you'd be after you dropped out of school and the realization began to dawn on you that contrary to all your father's threats...there are no jobs available in the ditch digging sector.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some random musings on Rich Mullins

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 0
A poet for the common man...That's what they used to say about Rich Mullins. I always sort of thought that was kind of a cheesy marketing line, but the more I listen to him the more I think that is such an accurate way to describe what he was/is. September 17th will mark the 9th anniversery of his death. I found a Wiki page that contains several quotes that have been attributed to Rich. Here are 2 of my favorites -

"If you've ever known the love of God, you know it's nothing but reckless and it's nothing but raging. Sometimes it hurts to be loved, and if it doesn't hurt it's probably not love, may be infatuation. I think a lot of American people are infatuated with God, but we don't really love Him, and they don't really let Him love them. Being loved by God is one of the most painful things in the world, it's also the only thing that can bring us salvation and it's like everything else that is really wonderful, there's a little bit of pain in it, little bit of hurt."

Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken."

Jdubz referenced this in one of his posts the other day and it's absolutely worth a listen. This is a tribute that 20 - The Countdown Magazine put together after he died.

I recently downloaded a cd called Rich Mullins - Here in America off of Yahoo Music the other day. It's basically a bunch of songwriter demos and live recordings of some of Rich's earlier songs. What I realized as I was listening to the live tracks was that I actually miss hearing him speak as much as I miss hearing him sing. One of the things I loved best about seeing Rich in concert was the things he would say before and after the songs. He wasn't the best singer in the world, sometimes his voice was rough and he couldn't hit all the notes but when he spoke it came from his heart. Every time he spoke I was humbled by how unimpressed he was with himself and his celebrity status. These songs are rough and the sound quality is poor but they may be the most beautiful music I've ever heard. If you can find it do yourself a favor and pick it up. You won't regret it.

Rest in Peace Mate...

Sad news today...Steve Irwin, TV's beloved Crocodile Hunter was killed in a freak accident with a stingray while diving off the Great Barrier Reef. I didn't really watch his show very much but I have to say I always kind of respected that crazy little dude. Whatever you thought about his have to admit he had a set of berries on him. For what it's worth, I predicted his death many years ago. I never said when, but I always said someday one of these animals that he was chasing around was going to kill him. Granted, I would have thought his demise would come in the mouth of a giant croc or a king cobra or something and not getting stabbed through the heart with a Stingray barb. From what I hear, stingrays are really very docile. I got to pet one at the Georgia Aquarium a few weeks ago. That's sort of like getting killed by puppy. Alright... a puppy with a razor sharp venemous tail but you get my point. He had probably put his hands on hundreds of stingrays over the years and never been stabbed through the heart by one. I'm not sure what the moral of the story is here. Maybe there's not one...I guess when it's your time to go it doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing. He could have just as easily choked to death while enjoying a juicy Kangaroo steak if he had decided not to go scuba diving that day.
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