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January 31, 2006

The first time I've watched American Idol this season

It's not an obsession for me, but I do enjoy an episode of American Idol here and there. For me, the most watchable episodes are early on, when multiple clueless people bumble their way through their auditions.

I can't help but wonder though. . . how do these people think they are good enough?

Actually, I have a friend, Erin, who recently had someone she knows make it to the LA round of American Idol. She has some inside scoop on the way the show runs.

Basically, Simon and the other judges don't see everyone. People first have to make it through producers, who then pass them onto the television judges. Of course, to get to the "second round," you either have to be really good. . . or really bad. So they understand that the early rounds are really about entertainment, not yet about talent.

Sometimes when I watch this show, I wonder how I would do. But I really have no desire to do it, regardless of how I would do. . . I'd rather just play in a band and try to make music the old fashioned, non-produced way.

Posted by jason on 08:47 PM | Comments (7)

Upcoming Shows

So we have some exciting news. Some great shows coming up.

The first is with uberfan Jack who is also now an uberfriend.

3/3/06 - The Abdad 233 Hamilton St., New Brunswick, NJ - $5 with: The Fire Still Burns, Heartfelt Discord, and One Win Choice

The second is at the Garage in Kennet Square, where we've had a great show before.

March 4th -- The Garage. Kennet Square, PA. Other artists, Corin Joel and others TBA

And finally, we are just so honored to get to play at boysetsfire's cd release show on 3/5. Wow, can you believe it?

March 5 - North Star Bar, Philadelphia The venue is small -- a 300 person capacity. . . this is for safety so they cannot "play nice" if lots of friends and family show up. . . in other words, buy tickets now.

Posted by jason on 10:49 AM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2006

Ha Ha Ha America

Wow, who knew that China could talk so much trash?

Get ready to get PWNed by Red China. It's funny. Yet scary. Really really scary. Because I hope it's not true. This is a short film from the Sundance Film Festival.

Posted by jason on 02:32 PM | Comments (5)

the new boysetsfire album

I'd just like to take the time to thank boysetsfire for putting out a significant chunk of musical brilliance. It's called The Misery Index: Notes From The Plague Years and it has dominated 80% of my itunes and ipod play for the past 2 weeks.

Now, the album is not for young children. It is also not for people who enjoy bad music. And it is not for ardent Bush supporters (at least those who get angry when another point of view is stated). If you have any one of those limitations. . . whatever, I'm not posting any disclaimers. I'll let Jason do that after me.

I love the creativity in the melodies, the obvious and intentional musical talent that these guys play with, and the passion that they present so eloquently in every song. Hearing this album has brought my respect for these guys one notch higher and I recommend it . . . to those allowed to have it (you see, Nathan swears sometimes). For those of you offended by swearing . . . let me say this. If you can manage to look/listen past it, you'll be inspired, moved, and entertained by some great music.

Thus ends my review of The Misery Index.

Oh, and by the way, I play trombone and trumpet on two songs.

Posted by xerxes on 10:33 AM | Comments (5)

January 23, 2006

The Calm Before a Storm

Hey everybody. What's up? I know that things have been really slow around here for The Look Machine, so I wanted to let you all know what is going on. It would be easy to assume from the lack of shows and the slow weblog that TLM is hibernating for the winter. This couldn't be further from the truth.

You see, we thought that Ian was going to be in Ghana for the winter, but as it turns out, he is not. Having already scheduled a time with no shows so that Ian could go away, we found ourselves with a couple of free winter months. We decided to make the most of our time as a band and finish a full-length album.

That's right, we are recording and we will actually be releasing our first full-length album very soon. We are all very excited because we have been together writing music, playing shows, and entertaining ourselves with this weblog for a couple of years now. Producing a real CD will feel like such a tremendous accomplishment.

We have written 24 (I think) songs together, so it was tough to decide what to put on the album, but we have pared it down to our favorite 11. Over this past month we have been practicing, practicing, practicing. With plenty of (constructive) criticism of each other's parts, and with the generous help of our manager, Josh as well as Nathan from BSF, we have taken our songs and deconstructed them. We then put them back together piece by piece keeping the parts we love already, throwing out those we do not love, and writing new parts that tie everything together. After weeks of work, we are all very proud of what we have built together. Every part is planned and special in some unique way. We are ready to go into the studio and start recording tomorrow. With lots of hard work, and good fortune, our debut album should be available this spring.

Thank you all for your patience. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

Posted by collin on 10:42 PM | Comments (38)

January 19, 2006

A Nation of Pharisees

This is a very thought-provoking article written by a Jesuit Priest. . . thoughts?

Published on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 by CommonDreams.org

Pharisee Nation
by John Dear

Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. "Now let me get this straight," I said. "Jesus says, 'Blessed are the peacemakers,' which means he does not say, 'Blessed are the warmakers,' which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq."

With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, "Bush! Bush! Bush!"

So much for my speech. Not to mention the Beatitudes.

I was not at all surprised that George W. Bush was reelected president. As I travel the country speaking out against war, injustice and nuclear weapons, I see many people consciously siding with the culture of war, choosing the path of violence, supporting corporate greed, rampant militarism, and global domination. I see many others swept up in the raging current of patriotism. Since most of these people, beginning with the president, claim to be Christian, I am ashamed and appalled that they support war and systemic injustice, that they do it in the name of God, and that they feign fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus who gave his life resisting institutionalized injustice.

I am reminded of Flannery O'Connor's great book, "Wise Blood," where her outrageous character Hazel Motes is so fed up with Christian hypocrisy that he forms his own church, the "Church of Christ without Christ," 'where the lame don't walk, the blind don't see, and the dead don't rise." That's where we are headed today.

I used to think these all-American Christians never read the Gospel, that they simply chose not to be authentic disciples of the nonviolent Jesus. Now, alas, I think they have indeed chosen discipleship, but not to the hero of the Gospels, Jesus. Instead, through their actions, they have become disciples of the devout, religious, all-powerful, murderous Pharisees who killed him.

A Culture of Pharisees

We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls "stiff-necked people." And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.

In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence. Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God. This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them. The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy. It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction. Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God.

In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called "blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful." Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world's poor. But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent. As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings, and create a "Church of Christ without Christ," as Flannery O’Connor foresaw.

Troublemaking Nonviolence, the Measure of the Gospel

The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is not to become good Pharisees. Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

Jesus commands that we love one another, love our neighbors, seek justice, forgive those who hurt us, pray for our persecutors, and be as compassionate as God. But at the center of his teaching is the most radical declaration ever uttered: "love your enemies."

If we dare call ourselves Christian, we cannot support war or nuclear weapons or corporate greed or executions or systemic injustice of any kind. If we do, we may well be devout American citizens, but we no longer follow the nonviolent Jesus. We have joined the hypocrites and blasphemers of the land, beginning with their leaders in the White House, the Pentagon and Los Alamos.

Jesus resisted the empire, engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the Temple, was arrested by the Pharisees, tried by the Roman governor and executed by Roman soldiers. If we dare follow this nonviolent revolutionary, we too must resist empire, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against U.S. warmaking and imperial domination, and risk arrest and imprisonment like the great modern day disciples, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan.

If we do not want to be part of the Pharisaic culture and do want to follow the nonviolent Jesus, we have to get in trouble just as Jesus was constantly in trouble for speaking the truth, loving the wrong people, worshipping the wrong way, and promoting the wrong things, like justice and peace. We have to resist this new American empire, as well as its false spirituality and all those who claim to be Christian yet support the murder of other human beings. We have to repent of the sin of war, put down the sword, practice Gospel nonviolence, and take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about.

Just because the culture and the cultural church have joined with the empire and its wars does not mean that we all have to go along with such heresy, or fall into despair as if nothing can be done. It is never too late to try to follow the troublemaking Jesus, to join his practice of revolutionary nonviolence and become authentic Christians. We may find ourselves in trouble, even at the hands of so-called Christians, just as Jesus was in trouble at the hands of the so-called religious leaders of his day. But this very trouble may lead us back to those Beatitude blessings.

Posted by jason on 09:12 PM | Comments (13)

January 18, 2006

hours and hours.


With the upcoming recording of the full length album, I have been practicing like mad.
Hours a day, I have been drumming in my basement.
Breaking many sticks,
Bleeding much blood,
And very tired of sitting on that stool.

I have now gotten a desk chair with a pillow on it to replace my throne.

This next monday, we will (tentatively) start recording...

We will be doing these songs:

Falling Behind
Stop The Bleeding
Live Our Lives
"White Light" (title to be changed)


So, I was thinking of a way to describe both my past and next few days of drumming.
This is what I came up with:
me (shane) : drums :: this dude : computer

Posted by shane on 01:20 AM | Comments (4)

January 17, 2006

Happy Birthday


Two of these fine fellows just had birthdays.

Posted by ian on 12:08 AM | Comments (9)

January 14, 2006

So you may think this makes me geeky

But I think my complete set of Narnia figurines makes me cool.


(And technically, they are for my kids. Though they are kept in my office when not being played with.)

Posted by jason on 05:19 PM | Comments (12)

January 13, 2006

The Fog

Today was a really foggy day. It was awesome. I went horseback riding out in fair hill and it was so thick I got turned around and cofused about where I was. It was cool.


In other news, scuba class is going well. We spent most of today's class in the pool practicing clearing our masks underwater and swimming around with flippers.

After the whole class I walked into the locker room and was adjusting my swim trunks when I discovered something confusing. My drawstring was hanging out the back. I was totally perplexed for a minute, then I realized... I had been wearing my trunks backwards the whole morning long.

Posted by ian on 05:43 PM | Comments (3)

January 11, 2006

You should have seen the other guy.

This is what happened to me.


This is the other guy

Posted by ian on 04:58 PM | Comments (5)

I am very hungry right now.

And I have a headache.

Just thought you would all like to know.

Oh an by the way, I did finally see the Chronicles of Narnia movie and it was incredible. I couldn't believe just how much I adored this movie. I actually watched it through tears for the entire second half. (Something strange happens to me when something that was special to me in my childhood is realized well on the big screen. I cried watching Spiderman too.)

I know this sounds almost. . .well. . . blasphomous or something, but I enjoyed this film more than any of the Lord of the Rings movies. I'm not saying it's a better movie, just that I enjoyed it more.

I'm so glad that they played it straight and kind of old-fashioned. I'm glad the Pevensie kids weren't hip and cool and making clever modern self-aware comments (like. . . Shrek movies). I was impressed that this film didn't try to be Lord of the Rings. The colors were saturated and bright, creating a real fantasy world. And I've heard that the kids weren't such good actors -- I thought they were fantastic.

While watching this movie, I was thinking, "How does this film not make a billion dollars?" It's extremely entertaining, appealing to fantasy geeks, yet still appropriate to families and ever manages to pull in "The Passion of the Christ" crowd. And I was right, because it's box office run has been very impressive. I don't think anyone predicted it would beat Kong or be nipping at the heels of such a mammoth franchise like Harry Potter.

Well, actually I have heard rumblings of one particular group who won't watch it. Those who complain it's "The Passion of the Lion" or "a thinly veiled Christian allegory" that people should avoid.

To those people, I would like to give a hearty "Screw you." Do you know that in this movie there is a battle where a Rhino fights? A Rhino!

And a phoenix, and a griffin, and white tigers, and a minotaur, and fauns, and cheetahs. And you're going to miss out on that visual awesomeness because you are somehow offended by someone innocent sacrificing so that someone guilty can be freed? Screw you. Do you know that this is a good story. Do you know if you wanted to avoid all stories with a hint of "Christian allegory" you would have to not watch Titanic (where Jack gave up his life for Rose), the Matrix (Neo=Jesus), Braveheart (Martydom), Star Wars (Kenobi willingly gives up his life to save Luke and "becomes stronger than you can ever imagine"). Many many films play upon this theme because it's an important theme in life. Since when is the idea of sacrifice and redemption one to be avoided? Screw that.

Posted by jason on 09:00 AM | Comments (7)

January 07, 2006

the video iPod

I've had the video iPod for about a month now, and I'm very impressed. What can I say, it's very cool. I've even watched some movies on it, using trusty old Handbrake software to rip some of my DVDs. And of course, I've downloaded episodes of Lost and the Office, and Pixar shorts from iTunes Music Store. All in all, a very impressive device.

Today, I bought the iPod Av cable from the Apple store and watched some of the iPod video's contrent on a television. I have to admit, I was blown away by the quality. It wasn't hi-def or DVD quality, but it was certainly as crisp and clear as normal cable or VHS tapes. I thought the picture would be pixelated and kind of unwatchable, but I was very impressed.

Why don't people talk about this feature more often? I now have a portable VCR that can carry 75 hours of footage whereever I go and easily plug into to any TV.

Wow, what a cool gadget.

PS. Bonus coolness. If you just want to listen to music, you can listen through you TV's speakers. Which really works out well if you don't have the money for a Bose docking station or something like that.

Posted by jason on 09:07 PM | Comments (5)

January 04, 2006

Some Holiday Photos

The Look MAchine christmas_card_2.jpg
-Collin made this cool card with photoshop and stuff.
The Look MAchine rudolf-rednose_1.jpg
-I found this somewhere. I forget where, so no credit will be given. Therefore, I stole it.
The Look MAchine HPIM1441.jpg
-Our dog, Kwali, tied Ian up and beat the crap out of him one night. a great time.
The Look MAchine HPIM1343_1.jpg
-We got a tree from this farm. What an amazing experience...

-So, I took a bunch of pictures of it (this tree). There are some pretty cool settings on my camera (That Ian found at the Story of the Year concert and gave to me).
A time exposure with sunset effect and different types of motion is the best. If you feel like looking, you will see these motion patterns, andd you will probably be able to tell what is what:

-Up & Down
-Slight vibration in the wrist
-Other stuff...

The Look MAchine HPIM1435.jpg

The Look Machine HPIM1434.jpg

The Look MAchine HPIM1433.jpg

The Look MAchine HPIM1366.jpg

The Look MAchine HPIM1362.jpg

The Look MAchine HPIM1394.jpg

So, in closing... Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year all that good stuff!

P.S. We are working on our full length...

Posted by shane on 05:11 PM | Comments (1)

January 02, 2006

If you are on a Windows computer, beware the WMF vulnerability.

This is a warning for everyone out there using a Microsoft Operating System. . .

If I were you, I'd unplug your modem for the next week or 2. Many people don't know, but a huge vulnerability has recently been discovered in the Windows platform, one that will allow malicious hackers to execute code on your machine and install horrible spyware software. . . and you don't even have to accept or open a file. It happens automatically, just from using your email, using intant messenger, or browsing the web.

Microsoft has known about it for 4 weeks, but no patch has been released yet.

Here's some background on it.

The way it works is with a graphic file called a "WMF," which the operating system is trained to accept without question, and which. . . for some strange reason. . . can execute code on an administrator level. .. and screw everything up. And just filtering for "WMF"s won't work because they can be disguised as a JPEG or a GIF or any other image file.

So there is your warning. There is an unofficial 3rd party patch that some nice fellow put out that might protect you. (How some individual coder can put out a patch while MS twidles its collective thumbs is beyond me). Microsoft advises that you disable some dll files, but apparently that isn't really going to protect you very well.

But really, I would just unplug your modem and wait this thing out until MS releases the patch.

Oh. . . cough cough. . .by the way. . . cough cough. . . Apple and Linux computers are completely unaffected by this problem.

Posted by jason on 03:33 PM | Comments (11)