Author Archives: corey

the gospel according to Pixar

From The Pixar Touch, by David A. Price:

Andrew Stanton, Co-Director of Finding Nemo, “…also spoke of a spiritual aspect to the relationship of Marlin and Dory. Dory was, literally, an angel fish. ‘The protagonist’s battle was to overcome fear by discovering faith, and certainly Dory represented the angel, or the helper who showed him how to let go and not be consumed by his worries,’ he told an interviewer for a Christian-oriented film web site.
He observed that subtlety is critical in giving films such as Pixar’s a spiritual or religious dimension. ‘My personal view is that if you go into things on a pulpit or with an agenda in the creative world, it can easily get in the way of your creativity and quality… Be Christ-like in everything you do, not worrying about whether you’re furthering the cause.’”

my little babies are all growed up…

So both of my sons have won the prestigious Principal’s Award at their school. Hooray… for Beth, “the good parent”, as some would call her. Ellie can sorta sing, is made for the stage, and all that. Hooray… for Beth.

MY contribution? Here’s a picture of Toby, my 8 year old. At Guitar Center. Playing Crazy Train. I almost cried.

crazy train

crazy train

Dear NBC, …really?

Okay, so I’m stealing a bit from an oft used bit on SNL, but really? So since I missed the last two episodes of the greatest show on television (#2 behind The Fall Guy), I can’t just go onto iTunes like I’ve done in the past, spend my less-than-two-bucks, and watch in peace. Now I have to go to your site, select the show by way of a semi-clunky flash interface, then go to episodes. Once I’ve done that, I have to choose which chapter of the episode I’d like to see. “Chapters”? Really? Any chance you might assume that folks would want to see the whole show? Once I’ve chosen the chapter(s) I’d like to see, I have to sit through 30+ seconds of commercials for each chapter. This was one of the reasons that iTunes worked for me. One-click, no commercials. I spend some money, you make some money, everybody wins. But you had to go and screw it up.

Remember when we had that great relationship? Remember when every college dorm in America filled up on Thursdays to see if Ross and Rachael were gonna finally hook up? Yeah? Well that’s done. I still love the greatest show on television, but it’s a reluctant love. As if the greatest child alive was born by accident from two parents that suck.

Addison Road Informal Focus Group, Round 1

Hypothetically, let’s say we’re naming a church congregation. It’s tied to a university, so there will be an on-campus gathering, but there will also be a location in a high end retail area. There are 5 names in the running. Contribute your untailored thoughts.

Adytum Mission
The Ark
Table 412/ Table Four Twelve
The Narthex
abbey west

ok, go.

there is no justice.

Let me set the scene…

We (the fam) are playing a rousing game of Pictionary Junior. Yours truly is a team captain, and my better half is the other team captain. My team consists of a certain 7 year old smiley-faced cherub as well as one few-days-short-of-5-years-old cheerleader/drama queen. The other team is made up of the 9 year old first-born. Competition is stiff. The good guys are winning (due in no small part to the art skills of the cheerleader). Good guys roll a 5 and advance to an all-play. The hint is “MONSTERS”. I present to you Exhibit A, my drawing. You can guess which classic movie monster is represented in the o-so-fine work of art.

exhibit A

The sand is barrelling through the hourglass, the guesses are way. way. WAY. off. The bad guys produce Exhibit B to win. Feast your eyes on this.

exhibit B

No justice whatsoever. None. I’m questioning the existence of a sovereign God.

(*the enjoyable part of the evening came when the Good Guys were actually going to let the cheerleader draw for one round. The word was “Skating Rink”. Captain took cheerleader in the other room to tell her that she was going to draw a shoe with circles on the bottom so that it looked like there were wheels under the foot. The cheerleader responded with, “no. I’m just going to draw an elephant working”. Uh. okay. I’ll allow it.)

100 things mostly about Beth (a.k.a. “the-reason-we-invite-corey-over”)

beth and the fam

1. I wanted to be a mom of six. That was way before I understood anything about finances.

2. I can’t multi-task when cooking, I usually burn whatever is in the oven.

3. My maiden name was Schafnitz, therefore, you can imagine how excited I was when, at age six, my mom told me that when I got married that I would have a new last name.

4. I can’t take multiple choice tests. Therefore, my SAT scores were NOT 1450.

5. I wore shoes that were too small for my feet in high school because I thought my feet looked big.

6. I don’t know Stick, but I think I like him. I, too, think most “worship” sets/settings are uncomfortable. Many worship leaders should not speak.

7. I believe in infant baptism.

8. I don’t believe parents should reason with their young children.

9. I think about deleting this about every minute or so because I’m not sure I want people to know stuff about me.

10. I have an opinion on everything.

11. I have strong opinions on parenting.

12. The house I grew up in was gold and avocado green until I was in sixth grade. Then my mom chose gray/blue for everything because “blue never goes out of style”

13. I harshly judge openly judgmental people.

14. I have been skydiving and don’t remember being scared.

15. I like doing risky things. See #14. Corey says that I think I am bullet proof. Maybe I am?

16. I love to travel but I hate to pack…. sometimes I don’t travel because I hate to pack.

17. I don’t know what I want to do “when I grow up” but I do know I will not sell anything for money.

18. I like to try new foods, I don’t like most fast food, and salads taste much better when other people make them.

19. I don’t like to cook for people because too many grown ups don’t eat anything green.

20. My husband has taught me that it’s OK to do nothing… sometimes.

21. Corey says I’m gonna die at age 33 due to the fact that I worry about everything. It has been nice knowing you all.

22. I love that my son, Toby, is interested in reading this as I type. He said I should write that he thinks I am the prettiest girl in the world. It doesn’t get much better than that.

23. My first real job was at a pet store and oddly enough I sold pets on commission. So why #17?

24. I believe that every parent should have life insurance.

25. I think I would’ve been a good doctor, but I would have never finished medical school. See #4

26. If a book hasn’t hooked me in two chapters it’s not worth reading, if a book is good, I won’t put it down until I’m finished.

27. I never question my faith but I often question theology, the church and christians.

28. Blood, needles, skin disorders, guts, vomit, etc. don’t bother me, but a suspenseful movie can make me shake, turn white, and hide under a blanket.

29. As a kid, I had everything I needed and some of what I wanted.

30. My dad made the best sack lunches. The brown bag was always overflowing and you never knew what you might find. My favorite was peanut butter or cream cheese in a plastic baggie, all you had to do was bite off the corner and decorate your crackers. The napkin always had a secret note in the fold.

31. I love horses. If I could have a ranch, I’d move today.

32. I secretly want to be a country star. I guess it’s not a secret anymore.

33. I know every line to the movie Pretty Woman. How bad is that!

34. I pray every time before I sing in front of people. because I once froze while singing a solo when I forgot to pray beforehand.

35. I have broken my two front teeth twice…. both times on the bottom of a pool.

36. I have always learned things the hard way. See #35

37. My grandma was the most influential person in my life, she could sew a dress in a day and could spend a dollar 15 different ways. She taught me how to use coupons and budget. I miss her.

38. I never wanted to break up with boyfriends, I just tried to make them break up with me.

39. I was engaged twice. I married once.

40. As a kid, I was somewhat of a tomboy, funny that my daughter is into princesses and sparkles. I’m not sure if that’s irony or cruelty.

41. Democrat or Republican?….I want a viable third option.

42. I have been on TV 3 times.

43. I use the word ‘selfish’ too often.

44. I have a small meltdown when I feel I have bought something I can’t afford. Oh wait, we own- I mean- pay an insane mortgage on a house in Southern California. Honey, brown paper bag!

45. 100 is just too many.

46. I don’t fit in with South Countians.

47. I couldn’t fall asleep while laying on my back if you paid me but I’m told that I end up in that position frequently. (Direct copy from another list)

48. Speaking in front of people is my fear factor, I’d pee my pants if I had to pray.

49. I’m pretty good at a lot of useless things. For example, the banner I made for Toby’s baseball team won 2nd place…. so that means… I’m good with felt????

50. I don’t think that I’m particularly good at starting something from scratch, I think I’m better at improving on something mediocre.

51. I admire people who can write succinctly.

52. Can anyone call himself an artist? Is it a matter of my opinion or theirs? I struggle with who gets to choose.

53. Babies make me smile.

54. I have never felt better than when I was pregnant, unfortunately, that has only been 120 weeks of my life.

55. Corey and I cuddle every night. He changes the way he sleeps for me. How cool is that!

56. I want to take voice lessons.

57. I rarely completely finish a home project before I start another one. However, when helping a friend, I have trouble leaving before it’s done done.

58. I’m thinking that because this list is taking so long, I may not be very interesting.

59. I’m not motivated by money, I’m motivated by the fear of not having it.

60. I want to master something but can’t think of anything I want to master.

61. I’m more empathetic than sympathetic.

62. I brush my teeth in the shower.

63. I am overly pessimistic because it is better to be pleasantly surprised than let down.

64. When using the words “leery” and “weary”, I always choose the wrong one.

65. I have never missed paying a bill on purpose.

66. I’m not sure how anyone can NOT believe in God after having a child. It’s too amazing for US to take credit for doing it correctly.

67. I’m left handed. I point out every actor on TV who is left-handed (ever since Corey started pointing out every Mac).

68. I’m not a fan of oak furniture.

69. I always said I wasn’t going to say “because I said so” to my kids. I totally do.

70. I cut every family member’s hair so that I can justify paying for mine.

71. I wasn’t a very good older sister.

72. I cry watching the Shamu show at Sea World.

73. I went to my junior prom on a school bus.

74. I often look at the price of an item, figure out how many gallons of milk it would buy and then put it back.

75. I told Corey to take the gig that consequently made him miss the birth of our daughter.

76. I arrived at the hospital 18 minutes before she was born.

77. I look funny without bangs.

78. Prayer lists sometimes seem like cleverly, or not so cleverly, disguised gossip columns. God already knows the details.

79. I think “why me” is a horrible thing to say. It’s as if you wish your misfortune on someone else.

80. I’ve had some hard decisions to make in my life. I made them based on what I knew was right and disregarded all that I felt.

81. I wish I had a better vocabulary.

82. My mom and dad are still married. I’m thankful I can say that.

83. I miss out on a lot of opportunities because I fear failure.

84. I have never written a song, nor do I think I could write a good one.

85. The traits that frustrate me most about others, I have.

86. My tastes in decor change every year or so.

87. I almost always use a recipe when cooking. I can’t wing it very well.

88. I often think of something funny to say on the way home from the party.

89. I’ve known my best friend since junior high.

90. Being a mom of teenage kids scares me.

91. I hardly ever remember my dreams.

92. I find that I say the same thing twice if I feel it is important.

93. I am not photogenic.

94. My parents said to eat what is put in front of me, I do.

95. I have danced with sea turtles and been chased (kind of) by an eel.

96. Kauai is my favorite Hawaiian island because of #95.

97. I lived in Houston for a year. Corey will correct me and say it was nine months. It was long enough.

98. This past year I’ve put more emphasis on making memories.

99. I burnt a batch of cookies while doing this list, further proving #2.

100. Delete. :)

C for Corey

Yeah, me too.

1. I’m a native Texan, and believe that to be an honor bestowed to only The Chosen.

2. Great grandfather was a Texas Ranger in Laredo, Grandfather was in the Shooting Stars (USAF version of the Blue Angels), Uncle was a SEAL. Apparently, military aptitude skips a generation every now and then. I’m afraid of guns and TERRIFIED of flying.

3. I liked pop music before I liked girls.

4. I went to three colleges in two states over 7 years to get a degree. My grades from the first two were so bad, the third one pretended like I had just graduated from high school.

5. My folks were on the committee for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (the world’s largest livestock show and second largest rodeo) every year. For two weeks every February, I slept in an executive box overlooking an Astrodome filled with dirt and manure while now-dead Country Legends performed and competed. I woke up the first time I heard Garth Brooks.

6. Southern accents are my security blanket.

7. My mom bought my first electric guitar when I was 12. It stayed under my bed until I was 13 when I pulled it out to start learning (out of jealousy towards another friend who was getting much better than me… I’m sure he still is).

8. My folks divorced when I was 2. I called my step dad “Jim” to his face, and “my dad” behind his back. I still call my real dad “Dad” to his face and “my real dad” behind his back.

9. My earliest memories of weekends with my real dad were him teaching me why Batman is cooler than God and how to work his record player so I could hear Elvis sing.

10. I’m 33 and still a die-hard Batman nerd.

11. Guitar Player’s Dirty Little Secret: I don’t get Jimi Hendrix. But I continue to buy his records to acquire the taste.

12. I’ve had the same Bible since I was a freshman in high school. It has a book cover on it that matches Eddie Van Halen’s famous striped guitars.

13. The only reason I went to a Christian School was because my older brother was expelled for bringing a pipe bomb to school in the Spring of my 8th grade year, right before I was supposed to enter that high school. We went to a rural Lutheran school with a student body of 80 instead.

14. I don’t remember when I came to faith, but it was started at that school and is still a work-in-progress.

15. Starting in the 7th grade, my New Year’s resolution every year was to lose my virginity. 

16. My folks thought I was a “Jesus Freak” in high school and college. In the last year before they died, they each asked me to pray for them and for insight into what it meant to be a Christian.

17. I named my first born after Nolan Ryan.

18. I named my second born after a counselor that I met at a christian camp.

19. My name is Corey because my mom thought I was going to be a girl. My brother would argue that she was right.

20. The longest I’ve ever lived in one house is 3.5 years (and counting).

21. In the 6th grade I wanted to be Marty McFly. In the 7th grade I wanted to be Maverick. In the 8th grade I wanted to be Richie Sambora.

22. I begged my mom for glasses as a senior in high school only because I wanted something on my face to offset the size of my nose. Turns out I really needed them. With better vision, my nose looked even bigger.

23. My first crush was a girl named Sally at day care when I was 4. My second girlfriend was from the 3rd grade to the 5th grade. We broke up because her folks moved her out here to Laguna Beach.

24. Most Painful Unrealized Dream: I never got to be a safety patrol. Chicks dug the orange belt with a badge.

25. My senior year of high school I was voted Funniest Guy. I also won awards for Best Creative Writer, Best Actor, and Best Artist. 

26. I had a crush on the same girl all 4 years of high school. She decided we should be Best Friends Forever instead.

27. My first job was sacking groceries as a 15 year old. 

28. I’m from Texas and have been around rural areas my whole life, but I’ve only been on a horse twice. Once in 1983, on vacation here in California with my granny, and once in Norco, CA when Beth and I were dating and I was trying to impress her.

29. Speaking of which, I’ve only been on one roller coaster in my whole life. It’s the big one at State Line in Nevada, and I only rode it to impress Beth while we were dating.

30. To recap: I’m afraid of guns, flying, roller coasters, horses, ghosts, snakes, and spiders. Talking in front of large groups is no problem and there’s almost nothing that I’m afraid to say to somebody.

31. I still have my childhood comic book collection.

32. I spend as much time holding and looking at my guitars as I do playing them. 

33. Granny taught me to love the movies. Going to the theater was sacred to me until I learned to go to church. I have to admit, for most of the last 20 years, I’ve still preferred the movies.

34. People used to say I was happy-go-lucky growing up. 

35. Now people think I’m grumpy, an a-hole and usually 5-10 years older than I really am.

36. I think my real dad is one of the smartest men alive.

37. Mom was beautiful and my real dad was a handsome jock. I’m pretty sure I was adopted.

38. My mom, my brother and I were on welfare after my mom and real dad split up. When my mom married Jim, he was a millionaire. Just add oxygen and you have two spoiled rotten brats.

39. For the last 10 years, I’ve been buying size 9.5 or 10 shoes because I thought big feet looked funny. Two months ago I found a pair of shoes that I liked for $4, the only problem is that they were size 11. Turns out, that’s my size. Yay big feet. Boo shoes 3 sizes too small.

40. I went through a 5 year period where I (quite literally) thought I was the most intelligent person I knew. It ended when I met Mike Lee and had to ask him what every 10th word in the conversation meant.

41. When I was in the third grade, my much-older babysitter taught me how to french kiss. 

42. I secretly want to be a drummer.

43. I twist the lyrics of most pop songs I hear so that they either become a song from God to man or a song from man to God.

44. One of my first paid guitar gigs was only 7 years ago with Mike Lee. When I got the call, I tried to talk him out of it.

45. Favorite 3 movies: Batman is always number 1, Lean On Me is always number 2, and I always leave the third slot open for whatever I’ve seen in the last few months.

46. The ONLY evidence I have that I’m not gay is that I’m attracted to females and not males. But I loves me some shoes, and all the product in my hair could go up in flames at any second.

47. For three years, I carried a notebook around in my back pocket and wrote down famous quotes that I’d heard or read. I stopped doing it because I was never using them.

48. I’m fascinated by the power of words and I have a lifetime of respect for those with Shakespearean accuracy for saying so much with so little. NOT a gift that I have.

49. The N word is the most profane of all words. A close second is it’snotmyfault.

50. When I was in Middle School, Jesse Jackson was trying to run for President. I lobbied to have people vote against him because I was afraid that he and the other Christians would take the good shows off of TV.

51. At Concordia University, I was the mascot for one basketball season. My girlfriend was the starting point guard on the girl’s team that went to Nationals that year. A little mixed up?

52. Smoking cigarettes is one of the most vulgar things I can imagine doing to my own mouth. It doesn’t really bother me to be around others doing it though.

53. I was engaged twice. I only married once. (I stole this from Beth.)

54. When my daughter was born, I was playing an Amway gig in Palm Springs with Rosy. I stopped playing in the middle of “Proud Mary” so one of my best friends and his wife could give me the play-by-play by phone. (note: please forward all sneers and scoffs to Beth’s email address. She’s fielding those comments.)

55. The idea of alien abduction keeps me up at night sometimes.

56. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been pretty sure that I’m gonna die from a gunshot.

57. Our kitchen isn’t that big, but sometimes all five of us stand in there and talk and laugh. The fact that my kids think I’m funny is the greatest compliment I can think of.

58. I spend an unhealthy amount of time ruminating on my mistakes.

59. I’ve refused anti-depressants for years out of fear that they’d impede my creativity.

60. When my brother and I were young, my mom pushed him towards athletics and me towards art so that we’d never be in competition with one another. This is ironic because he’s a severe asthmatic and my real dad (the jock) says I’m much more naturally athletic.

61. I use humor as a defense mechanism.

62. My wife, my kids, and my work are the reason I believe in The Gospel.

63. I’m pleasantly shocked by the moral compasses of those around me these days. As a youngster, I can’t remember a compass that wasn’t spinning wildly.

64. I have a guilty conscience like you wouldn’t believe. I have volunteered a confession for just about every large-scale wrongdoing in my life. Usually within a day.

65. I believe that my cell phone is giving me a tumor in my left ear. It makes me value my family time more.

66. When people apologize to me, I often say, “don’t worry about it. Life’s too short to get upset about much of anything.” In reality, I frustrate easily and mull it over for longer than I should. 

67. I suck at poker. Probably because I don’t care for the bluffing part.

68. I wear my English degree like a Safety Patrol belt. I corrected Beth’s first love letter to me. Ironically, I don’t proofread my own stuff out of laziness.

69. I type the word “y’all” in emails as if it were grammatically correct.

70. I feel morally inadequate compared to most of the people I’ve met since moving to California.

71. When I moved here, I flew into John Wayne Airport with 5 guitars and 3 suitcases. I spent the entire day sitting at baggage claim trying to figure out how I was going to get to the college campus. I’d never seen the school, I just knew I wanted to leave home. 

72. I tried to give myself nicknames growing up, hoping they would catch on. Thank God they didn’t. If I was known as Scooter or Skippy right now…

73. I have been going to therapy for the last five years and love it. It’s like hiring an arbitrator while you’re negotiating with yourself.

74. The only thing that keeps me from stalking John Mayer is that I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on when I told people I’m not gay.

75. I want to be able to play jazz, not because I like it, but because people have more respect for that than pop or country.

76. I can add numbers in my head quickly. Not “Rain Man” quick, but quick enough.

77. When I find clothes I really like, my first impulse is to go back and buy the exact same thing so I have a backup. 

78. To steal a sentiment from Ghandi, I really dig God. However, many of His people suck ass.

79. I’ve never been good looking enough to date a really really hot girl. I did happen to marry one, though. Thank God there’s at least one girl that I find stunning who thinks it’s more important to be funny than good looking. In short, I married waaaay up.

80. I used to read philosophy books because I thought they would make me socially intelligent. Instead. they made me a bigger prick.

81. I fancy myself a songwriter. 

82. When I microwave food, I never set the time in factors of five or ten.

83. Favorite Literature: Frankenstein for the writing style, The Scarlet Letter for the themes, Ethan Frome because I’ve lived parts of it.

84. I once saw a life-size painting of Nolan Ryan in his wind-up. It was so lifelike with the exception of a faint, fluorescent green outline around him. That day I realized that, to artistically record life, one must include appropriately placed oddities. 

85. I’m sorry.

86. I miss Texas in an idyllic sort of way. I don’t think I could ever go back.

87. Beth taught me to love onions, ethnic food, tomatoes, and sushi.

88. On average, I drink a pot or two of coffee every day.

89. My nature tells me to write awkward, personal, sensitive things on this list. I have to remind myself of the repercussions. 

90. I once was lost but now am found. And by “once”, I mean “ten minutes ago” and “ten minutes from now”.

91. I’m a font whore. 1400 and counting.

92. I wore braces from the 3rd grade to the 8th grade. You can’t really tell.

93. In high school, I couldn’t be trusted with a compliment from a female. I automatically assumed it meant she had a crush on me.

94. When I buy a new guitar, the deciding factor is what I think I’ll look like playing it. That’s embarrassing.

95. I was a waiter at Olive Garden.

96. I started watching pro basketball in ’95 because of Charles Barkley.

97. I’m apolitical.

98. I’ve been in one fist fight. I punched first and punched hard… with my eyes closed. Once I realized what I’d done, I ran away. He caught me and beat the hell out of me.

99. The thought of my kids growing up without a dad makes me sick to my stomach.

100. I left the best stuff off this list. A social poker face is the key to wisdom. :)

60 Months

Saturday (2/3) was the 5th anniversary of my mom’s death. Coincidentally, it was also the 4th anniversary of my dad’s death. (Mom had Lupus that gave way to Leukemia and my dad suffered a heart attack.) I tell myself that when the calendar came full circle and my dad realized that the years would all just be duplicates of the one before- without my mother – his heart gave up.

A Mama’s boy through and through, the loss is still challenging. I still have pictures of her on my desk and on my dresser, and I find myself staring at them from time to time, allowing my mind to let her move just enough to allow the photos to come alive. In the one where my brother and I are in our Christmas pj’s, sitting on her lap in the late 70’s, I see her hands pull us in closer as the photo gets snapped. In the one where she and my dad are smiling on our back porch, I see her eye squint a little because the flash never fails to catch her off guard. I still have dreams where she tells me that the kids are growing nicely and that she misses getting to visit with Ellie. I appreciate the short visit, and usually just find my way over to one of her pictures to watch them move again.

So it’s been five years since Mom died. And I struggle to find the perfect adverb to describe how much life changed. Catastrophically? Drastically? Suddenly? Thankfully? Finally? On this 5 year anniversary, I thought it’d be helpful for me to make a list of the things I’ve learned since she died and life changed as it did. And although I’m sharing these in a public forum, I have no delusions about them being universal.

1. Overwhelming stress forces man into the deepest recesses of himself. Job loss, death in the family, divorce, etc all work like a mine shaft to drop a man into his own well. What commodities he finds there will surprise him. I found plenty of overwhelming irresponsibility, the capability to behave in unspeakable ways, and the ability to disregard rational thought. At the same time, in the darkness, I met up with Paul- who sang while imprisoned – who shared his own struggles with me and called them a blessing – who reminded me that victory is sweet when the struggle is severe.

2. This, too, will pass. It has become the great equalizer. Knowing this: regardless of the season, another one is knocking on the door has been a source of strength as well as a healthy dose of reality. When we had no money, it passed. When we had so many questions, they were satisfied. When we had need, it was met. When we feared for our future, it came- and we were still in it! On the other hand, I’m reminded of my parents’ spending habits. My dad was an engineer and in sales. If you’ve ever eaten a Frito Lay product (my guess is that you have), it probably ran across a series of conveyor belts that my dad designed and sold to them for their Dallas plant. And when he did jobs for Frito Lay and Coca Cola, we were mafia rich and we lived as such. However, when those jobs didn’t materialize for a year, we had very very little. And after all the years of living with whiplash economics, my folks never prepared for the downtimes. If only I’d been wise enough to look at my folks when we had money and said, Mom, Dad, this too will pass. Keep your eyes on the calendar when things suck, keep your eyes on your appetite when things are good.

3. Ferris Bueller was right. Life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you just might miss it. 5 years ago, I was in a totally different career. There was something that I loved about it- something that made me better than others, but that something was such a small piece of the job. In actuality, I was miserable but I’d latched on to a sliver of something so much larger. It was like becoming a pilot because I liked the smell of the jetway. I have found myself to be infinitely more happy when I take inventory of the aspects of my life where I suffer the flight because it’s bookended with jetways. When my folks died, up was down and down was up. Work became pure misery. I left that job and went through a string of other jobs, each one training me to take inventory of the things that I loved and the things that I tolerated. I was a construction worker, a guitar player, a handyman, a painter, a graphic designer, a consultant, a charity case, a social worker, a bum. All in the first year. (see #’s 1 and 2) I started to get a better idea of what it was that I loved about work (and ultimately about myself) and found a way to spend the lion’s share of time in the jetways and very little time suffering through the flights. Which leads me to…

4. Know Thyself. I have spent 5 years in regular, expensive, offensive-at-times therapy. When I started, I thought it was just to help me get over the loss of dear old Mum. But as I got into it, invested effort into it, and started working on my head I realized that there were elements of the heart and mind that I’d never thought about. After my third year of therapy I went to my therapist and said, “okay, I started by blaming my father for being emotionally distant. Then I blamed my brother for that of which we do not speak. Then I blamed my mother for distorting my worldview and building me into a marionette. What do I do when I’m out of people to blame?” He responded, “you just stop blaming.” This isn’t applicable to everyone, and it took me a long time to get to the point where I could say these things and actually believe them. But I think that we are soft, pliable, not-so-resilient beings. We get bent out of shape. We get little pieces broken off of us. We get dinged and scratched. I’m convinced that we spend the first 3.9 years of our lives on the assembly line. Then we spend year 4 in showroom condition. And as soon as we set foot in school, we get taken for a life of test drives. And I don’t know cars, but I know plenty about guitars. Every guitar looks great the day it gets sold. Every guitar goes through a period where it gets played, abused, used, dinged, and aged. Many guitars fall into disrepair and eventually get dismantled. Some, however, fall into the hands of a person who recognized the value in vintage instruments, and he relishes the scratches. He shows off the fact that the forearm contour has lost it’s paint because of stage wear. The back of guitar necks that have been played lose the gummyness of a factory finish and start to get a soft, satin feel. The fingerboard actually flattens out over years and the edges of the neck start to contour to the shape of the hand of a player. What one man calls a “beat up guitar”, Fender can make you in their CUSTOM SHOP for outrageous prices. The only difference between “old” and “vintage” is the marketing. And there’s nobody to market us besides us. I think every person could benefit from some time spent staring in the mirror, saying nice things to the person with whom he or she is talking. It sounds retarded, but it only breaks down when you invite a 3rd party into it (a third version of yourself telling you that it looks stupid for the two of you to be talking into a mirror).

5. God is real. I’ve been a believer for 15 or 16 years. I learned the party lines and tried to share faith with family and friends. I believed in God and had faith that I was saved through Christ crucified, but it was what I call an academic faith. I can describe what a steak looks like. I can even give you a job at a steakhouse and you can work with steaks and smell the glory of great steak cooked to perfection. But nothing gets you to that understanding of steak like eating a great steak does. This all seems very elementary on the surface, but I think some people suffer from growing up in a steak family, and the magic of great steak is lost – or at least covered up with other memories. In these last five years, I’ve found that there is no description, no writing, no story, no sermon, no movie, no substitute for being the Honorary Chief of Sinners, and having God reveal his love for you in Christ at that time. I’ve grown a little weary of going to church and hearing people talk about how they were victimized by others. I empathize with them and feel sorry for their struggles, but I find that it misses the point of the Gospel. Yes, come to Jesus when you’ve been broken and beaten. Come to the Father when you’ve been left out. But where are the testimonies of the still-active sinners? I found that steak tastes great to those who’ve been robbed. But steak becomes unforgettable and irreplaceable when a man has sworn off food, separated himself from sustenance, run away from those who can provide for him, and yet someone hunts him down in the deepest recesses of his well, and cooks the steak for him right there in the darkness.

6. Stereotypes and Archetypes are the cancer of the church. I was driving the other day, and a lady slammed on her breaks right as a light turned yellow. She and 2 other cars could’ve easily made a very legal turn, negating the need to wait through another very long red light. As is usually my style, I went on to berate her and to tell my boys why the lady was an idiot. (see #1) Later, as we got to where we were going, I see the lady pull into the same parking lot and go into the same store. This isn’t a devotional story, so if you were expecting some high-drama twist at the end, like she just came from her husband’s funeral or something, you won’t find it here. She was a normal lady. Nothing special, and in fact, I couldn’t tell you today what she was wearing or what she looked like. But I remember thinking that what was once a silhouette of an idiot in front of me was now a lady who goes to the grocery store just like me and has a name and a life. The point here is that Homosexual is a silhouette. Alcoholic is a silhouette. Sex Offender is a silhouette. Unbeliever is a silhouette. Fat person is a silhouette. A–hole is a silhouette. Those are easy, what about the harder ones? Pastor is a silhouette. Worship Leader is a silhouette. Good Person is a silhouette. Great Singer is a silhouette. We box, and compartmentalize, and order, and file, and build a nomenclature so that we can access information quickly. “Oh, idiot?, lemmeseeeee… yep- I know 4 of those. Alcoholic? Yeah, I can tell a story, too, because I have one filed away right here… I’m only 33, but I see more and more that people’s greatest weaknesses are also their greatest strengths. Everyone is a paradox. When we fashion people as silhouettes, we fail to see the dynamic of the human. (see #4) How can we save humans if we’re fighting silhouettes? How can we help the hurt when we try to illuminate the silhouette instead of bandaging the heart? I say, bandage the heart, and the silhouette dissipates. To that end, many of my favorite people on this earth are non-christians, because they’re less involved in being a spotter for God The Sniper. They’re living with struggle, and frankly, they’re living in the darkness that is their silhouette. (see #1)

7. Everyone needs an Addison Road. Thanks be to God.

(NOTE: This was posted over the weekend, but ended up disappearing off of the site. I’m reposting here, which means some of you will be getting this in your email subscriptions and feed-readers twice. If those of you who commented on the original post would like to repost your comments here, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, and sorry for the confusion. – ml)

Getting Signed 2.0

In the early days of web design, there was a common presentation-style, in that designers and builders would build web pages and end-users (you and I) would load those pages and view the content. But a new standard of the web (or tubes for those of you tech savvy types) was born a few years ago and it was dubbed “Web 2.0” by nerds around the world. In short, it meant that a newer version of the internet experience (or tubing) was born. What characterized this new experience was that the end user (again, you and I- please try to keep up) was able to dictate the experience by adding or creating content and in some cases even changing the layout and look of the site itself with theme switchers that would give an entire site a facelift with a mouse-click. If it sounds weird to you, you’re actually participating in a Web 2.0 experience by reading this post and eventually posting a comment. Your input adds to the content of this page (and ultimately the site) and changes the comments of the person who follows you. The end user, not the designer, dictates the content.

So, in true Western social form, we take a profound and catchy title and abuse and overuse it until it gets voted off the island. So, having said that, let the overuse begin…

Behind The Music

In the past, most bands/musicians have gone through a similar process of forming a band, writing songs, playing live in local venues, building a local or regional following, attracting the attention of a cigar smoking record label guy, being offered a lucrative record deal, signing their lives away, then basking in the year of fame (give or take), and then going to work for Kinko’s while trying to reform the band and relive the good ol’ days.

But those days are starting to fade and times are changing. There are only a few major labels left, and the days of labels giving bands and artist a couple of records to develop is a memory. Now the label wants to recoup its money almost immediately. If the band isn’t a money-maker in the first outing, very few labels are willing to invest more time and money into trying to create a marketable sound.

So it raises the question- what does “Get Signed v2.0” look like? There are pro musicians, producers, songwriters, session cats, artists, etc. etc. around here and there are probably 5 or 6 records in the works at any given time. So discuss- but before that, here are some unverified statistics:

-Total albums released in 2005: 60, 331
-Of the 60,331 albums released in 2005, 16,580 (27.5%) were digital-only releases.
-Of the 16,580 digital-only releases, 2,935 (18%) were from major labels and 13,645 (82%) were from independents.
-Of the 16,580 digital-only releases, the TOTAL combined units sold = 865,424 units = an average of approximately 52 units / release.
-Of the 60,331 albums released in 2005, 11,070 (18.4%) were from the 4 majors and 49,261 (81.6%) from the independents.
-The 11,070 new releases issued in 2005 by the majors averaged 18,454 units per release.
-The 49,261 new releases issued in 2005 by the independents averaged 787 units per release.
-In 2005, 32 NEW titles generated sales of more than 1 million units, collectively selling 57.2 million.
Those top 32 albums averaged 1.79 million each.
-An additional 62 titles achieved sales of more than 500,000 units, and an additional 316 titles achieved sales more than 100,000 units.
-A total of 410 albums (0.7%) – of the 60,331 released achieved sales greater than 100,000 units.
-These 410 albums had combined sales of 169.2 million units, with an average of approximately 413,000 units each.
-These 410 albums represented 70% of all sales of new releases.

[Note: 2006 numbers will be available at the end of first quarter 07.]