Monday, May 31, 2004

Difficulties, but all worth it. . .

On Wednesday night, we were getting together to do our "final" mix of Becoming, Fanatic, and All Our Hands. 6 to 8 hours later. . . only Becoming is really finished. We had to record some new parts to all of them, and that was all well and good, but things really took a long time, and then there were some technical difficulties (but only a hint of things to come).

OK, so then we reconvene on Saturday night to really finish this thing off. Or at least we think so. We stayed at the Studio for 5 hours and got absolutely nothing finished. Actually it was only me Ian and David. And we literally accomplished nothing. Brad, our engineer, spent the night pulling out his hair, swearing, freaking out, losing guitar solos, and somehow managing to transfer everything out of sync so that we could do nothing with it. So while Brad tried to figure some more stuff out, to no avail. . . we jammed out on the drums, organ, piano, and got our frustrations out. Kind of.

So Brad promises to properly transfer everything somewhere else, and we were to get together this morning at 8.30 AM for our final mixdown. Should only take 2 hours. . . yeah right. That doesn't take into account the Firewire going haywire, the computer dying, Brad accidentally transferring over the wrong tracks, etc etc. It's amazing how many things can go wrong.

I have to say, it's hard putting in the long hours, but it's also so great. So fun to sit around and talk with a great bunch of guys. Josh, thanks for all your help, we really appreciate it!

FINALLY, by 2 PM (oh man, what happened to 2 hours?), we have a suitable mixdown and the arduous journey seems to be over!!! The songs sound really great, and it's exciting.

Two Weeks Out

I am done College now... for a while anyway. I Graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Anthropology and one in Psychology. I didn't expect it to be a big deal, but I really liked the actual graduation ceremony. It brought a nice sense of completion. I think that since I was home-schooled for much of my life and always attended an informal church, the Pomp and Circumstance of the whole graduation thing was fun for me. I never really am a part of things with that kind of formality, so I really enjoyed the different awards ceremonies, speeches, honors, etc... over the past few weeks.



I am going to Chicago tomorrow for a big Graphic Design conference. I have been really excited about it for a while because I love the work that I do, but I can't wait to learn more. Some graphic design superstars will be teaching workshops and there is lots of awesome video-production stuff going on besides the web design essentials. It is going to rock.



Lindsay (my wife) is coming with me to Chicago (we are driving) and then we are going to take a vacation from there. We are going to take a while to come back through Canada and go around the North Shore of the Great Lakes. It is such beautiful country up there with a whole different ecology. I love camping, and that is one of my favorite areas of the world. This should be a cool time.



So all that is to say that I will be out for a while. All in all it will be about 2 weeks that I am gone. I love this weblog. I love reading other band members' posts. I love posting my own thoughts. I love reading the comments and responding to them. I won't be able to take part in all of the fun for 2 weeks, and I think I will miss it. I hope you miss me too.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Lyrics to All Our Hands

At some point we'll out together a proper lyrics page. . . but at this point by request here they are:
Trying to wipe the tears away in the harsh light of the break of day.
And relief is all that you wanted, just some peace away from the hunted.
And you're haunted by the thoughts inside, and you're bounded by the dreams that died.
And you need to find your way back to this, yes we need to find our way back to bliss, but. . .

You can duck and you can hide but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Lift your fists up to the sky, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Capital- and Commun-ize, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Accuse them and villify, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.

Everything we built so proud and high is cursed to tumble from the sky.
And meaning, is all that we wanted. Permanence, a shield for the hunted.
It's time we found a sacrifice, something to burn to light the night.
And Bury this crime and walk away. And Try to forget all we betrayed, so. . .

You can kneel and testify, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Lecture and prosleytize, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Civilized in your disguise, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Lift your leaders up on High, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands. Our hands. Our hands.

I wish I could find a way to blame you. Ridding myself of all the things you do.
Reflected in your eyes I see myself. Even with you gone I'm still in Hell.

You can duck and you can hide but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Lift your fists up to the sky, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Capital- and Commun-ize, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.
Accuse them and villify, but there's blood on all, there's blood on all our hands.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Graduation Jamboree

In case you did not know, Collin is graduating from college and Ian from high school. We're playing an exclusive show at their party on Sunday. Don't miss it, it will be a special acoustic set (stop drooling, JD).

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Faraway, too far to reach. . .

Have you ever had the experience where you are walking through the woods, talking to someone you truly care about, seeing a powerful film, playing with a child, listening to a song. . . and all of a sudden it hits you, this inexplicable feeling mixed with a thought mixed with a yearning. . . this idea that the joy you are now partaking of is just a miniscule sample of this huge ocean of joy, this incredible world that we have heard hints of but never really seen the full picture.

I had it yesterday, when, strangely enough, I saw a pattern of peeling paint on some steps. I got a hint of transcendent reality. . .

The hints are sprinkled everywhere in this world, these echoes of paradise, this whispers of God. It's one of the reason I love my kids so much, since they are newer to this world, I think they display these unvarnished clues a little better.

But of course there is a certain amount of heartache associated with these moments, because inevitably they draw to a close, at least in our current existence. The song ends. The game ends. The sight fades. . .

Which is why our hearts do yearn for more, a more permanent paradise. A satisfying culmination to our desires.

Whether you want to look at Solomon's Ecclesiastes or Hugh Hefner's life (sorry Hugh, I can see through your act -- I think most people can), it becomes clear that you can't quench these eternal desires by pursuing fleeting things. Obsession with youth and beauty, with highs and thrills, our drive to make money, to acquire power, to accomplish some matter of fame. When the moment has come and gone, you're basically left not with eternal joy, but as someone with haunting memories, unfulfilled wishes. . . So much of this world's ills are caused by people looking to the material world to quench their eternal thirsts.

I'd say that in general, if you observe the way this world is set up -- when something is yearned for there exists something which can fulfill that yearning. Thirst exists, as does water to quench it. Hunger exists, as does food to fill it. Plants reach out for sunlight, and the sun feeds them. A child cries out to be held, and a parent cradles him until comforted. Tastebuds work because things can be tasted. Olfactory nerves work because things emit odors.

In other words, for me, a deep yearning for something eternal is pretty powerful circumstantial evidence that there exists something which can fulfill that. We have, in essence, a 6th sense -- one that senses eternity. If eternity didn't exists, this 6th sense would make as much sense as ears in a world with no sound.

So these moments when I get a glimpse of something exquisitely incredible, something transcendent, I appreciate them for what they are. To me they are proof (at least as close as we can get to proof in this world) that there is something more waiting for me. And then I attempt to live this way, and I find that I get to exist more and more in this world that is waiting for me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

False Advertisement

Yesterday I was at my landlord's house (my landlords are also my bosses and my friends) and I met another one of their friends. He is in a band that plays out all of the time. He is a really nice guy, but we literally talked for about 30 seconds. After I met him, I went home.



I was in my house getting ready to go running and I heard a knock on the door. My wife and I looked each other in surprise. We live WAY out in the woods, and I don't think anyone has ever just come and knocked on our door (except Jehova's Witnesses) so we had no idea who would be at our door. I went downstairs and answered the knock. It was the Guy that I had just met!



I stepped outside and said "hey man, what's up?" He said, "I was just wondering if you wanted to smoke a Bowl with me." As he said that, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pipe filled with the special herb. I laughed and said "No thanks. I don't smoke, but I'll hang out with you while you do." He looked at me in bewilderment and said "Man... that is f*#king false advertising. I had you pegged for a pot smoker for sure. You can't sport dreads like that and not smoke up." With that, he lit up and the pungent smell of Marijuana filled my driveway. We talked for about 10 minutes while he smoked, shook hands and then he left.



Lindsay and I thought that was particularly funny, but this is not the first time this has happened to me. Literally about 3-4 times per month (at least) a random stranger asks me for pot. One time some guy followed me down the street for 5 minutes trying to buy Phish tickets from me which I didn't have... but he was convinced that I did and I was holding out on him. I have literally never done drugs in my life, but nobody I meet believes me. It was funny the first few times it happened, but I get it so much, I am getting pretty fed up with it. It is like a joke that was funny the first time, and the second time, but after a couple of hundred times, when somebody tells you the same stupid joke and expects you to laugh, you just want to haul off and smack em' in the face.



Now, I know that it is entirely my choice to wear my hair in dreads. I have had them for about 3 and a half years and they are pretty darn long now (if you don't know what I look like, click on the pictures link on our homepage). I like them, but being typecasted everywhere I go is not so great. When people get to know me, they are always surprised and usually end up telling me that I am "way different" than they thought I was the first time they saw me. I only keep them because I like the way they look and they are incredibly easy. I never have to do my hair at all. I just get up and go and I always look like I want to. I don't even wash my hair. Also, some people want me to keep them and since I don't really care, I just havn't bothered to chop them off (Ian says that I am not allowed to cut them. He says that having someone with long Dreadlocks is good for the band image).



So here's the deal. I am contemplating a change from my long messy hair to short messy hair. What do you think? Let's have an online vote.

Monday, May 24, 2004

A funny story

Recently, we discovered that we have a mouse in our house. Actually probably more than one. My wife found a tiny calling card in our daughter's room. . . and freaked out. She literally bought about 10 of those old school scary metal traps.

I tried to smear one with peanut butter and set it, but honestly I could not. I just couldn't figure it out. So. . . if anyone wants 9 unused mouse traps and 1 peanut butter coated one for real cheap let me know.

I bought one of those "glue trays." Now this I could set. You kind of just put it down on the floor or the counter.

At about 1.30 in the AM, I visit the kitchen, and I see the glue tray has done it's job. A mouse, stuck to the tray, clearly thinking, "What in the world have I gotten myself into?" It was very scared, and I truthfully experienced a large amount of compassion for it.

Reading the box, I saw that it instructed me in a type of cryptic haiku: "For humane use, use gloves, apply vegetable oil, remove with pencil." It's like a clue. . .

I put the glue tray with the squeaking mouse on a plate. I pour some olive oil in a large red plastic cup, and I can't find a pencil so I find a fork. Then I actually do find a pencil, I put both the pencil and fork on the plate.

It's late, so I have no shirt and shoes on, just shorts. Of course, I have to release the mouse outside. And I can't just release it near to my house, or it will find its way back in. I have to go far away from my house. I live in a townhouse community.

So here I am, 1.30 in the morning, wearing nothing but shorts, carrying a place with a live mouse on it, a cup and a fork, and sitting on the curb and I realize that if anybody sees me, I'd be lucky if I weren't institutionalized by morning.

Now that I read it, maybe it's not that funny when written. But goodness it was funny to me.

Dog Days

Hello. Here is a little poem that a professor at school gave me (a friend of his wrote it). I enjoyed it and I hope you do to. Take what you want out of it.


If a dog was the teacher


If a dog was the teacher, you would learn stuff like:

When Loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity for a joy ride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When it is in your best interest, practice obedience.

Let others know when they have invaded your territory.

take naps.

streach before rising.

Run,romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growel will do.

On warm days, stop to li on your back in the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie onder a shady tree.

When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you are scolded, don't buy into the whole guilt thing and pout...run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you are not.

If you want what liet buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day ,be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Corporate America

Well, it looks like I'm going to get my wish. Between my company and the company with which we're merging, our team has 34 people. It was just announced that they'd be cutting that number down to 10 people.

10 people! At least I can get laid off. At least it looks that way. But that means that 24 people (well, 23. . . I want to get away) will be without jobs. 23 people stressed over how they pay their mortgage, how they buy their food, how they pay their credit cards' minimum monthly payments.

23 people who may have to move, may have to leave their friends and family. 23 people who may start fighting with their spouses as things get tighter. 23 people -- whose employer is displaying pursuit of the dollar over human decency.

Yes, I know that there are redundancies and it wouldn't be fair "to the shareholders" to keep everyone around. This makes sense to me. There may have to be a small amount of layoffs. . . But cutting almost 66% of them? That's my team alone. Across the company, there will be 1000s of cuts.

But you know what is funny? The senior executives -- the ones with 6 figure salaries and 6 figure bonuses. . . Somehow there were no redundancies between them. Somehow they are all remaining in the company.

Even though their responsibilities are being sliced in half. Even though their teams are being cut. Somehow they are remain completely vital to the combined company's future.

Even though cutting just 1 of them would be financially equal to cutting 5 people on the lower levels.

Oh no, we're told. This is just to deliver "financial results" in the "best interests of the shareholders."

Really?
Then why are the people who are making the decisions not cutting any of their buddies? Why are they creating whole new "do nothing" positions for them -- anything to save them? All the while cutting the workers on the lower level (ie, the ones where a layoff would hurt most because they live check to check) so severely.

You know, I do consider myself a capitalist. I think that so long as people remain ethical (and there are many "legal" things that are unethical) that they should be allowed to make as much money as they can. But there is something kind of fundamentally screwy about Wall Street's expectations. Wall Street expects year after year growth. Sometimes these expectations are just not sustainable -- and they push a company to start doing unethical things to fulfill them.

If we were to apply that to your personal life, it would be like making a million dollars a year. Most would be happy making one million in 2004, in 2005, in 2006 and on and on. But on Wall Street, this would be considered a zero percent growth company. This company would be a failure.

Or how about a sports team? It wouldn't be enough to win a championship every year. You'd have to win by more, in less games, go undefeated. . . you have to somehow get better every year.

So even though my company makes gobs of cash, even though it's a money machine. . . it needs to find a way to lower its costs (fire workers, increase workers' health care contribution, stop paying for parking, lower 401K matching rates) while increasing its revenue (by raising prices, raising fees, etc). . . Eventually the human interest part of the equation gets shoved aside in order to "meet the numbers."

I don't think this system has any easy answer, because honestly shareholders do need some kind of growth in order for them to want to invest in the first place -- and without investment, alot of our economy would go into the tank. But I do think that shareholders should change their expectations a little bit, to allow companies to grow naturally and ethically.

But what I'm learning through this whole process is that even the financial aspect is kind of rhetoric. Window dressing. In actuality, the leadership wants to do what they want to do, do favors for each other, pay each other huge sums of money, all the while looking to Wall Street like they are cutting costs. They don't really care about delivering value for the shareholders any more than they care about delivering value for the customers. They care about their money, their power, their buddies.

Oh well, at least I'm getting laid off.

Stupid Technical Question

I'm still learning the ins and outs of Cascading Style Sheet Coding, which is the coding that this page uses. On most computers and browsers, the navigation is to the left of this page just fine, but on some, you don't see it until the very bottom of the page.

Can people just chime in and let me know if you see the navigation? Actually, only chime in if you don't. And if you can't see it, let me know what operating system (windows 98, etc) and browser you are using.

Extreme geek moment is now over. We can continue being rock stars now.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A Few Pictures

I just thought I would put a few pictures on here since I like seeing everyone else's.





A church across the street from my new apartment.





A fancy restaurant next to my new apartment.




The northern coast of CA.



The northern coast of CA.



The northern coast of CA.



Crater lake in OR.



Crater lake in OR.

Polaroid Transfers

A while ago, I had talked about loving the look of Polaroid Transfers. Well, after learning everything I could, getting some of the equipment, and experimenting a whole lot. . . here are some that I've completed.

I'm still getting better. But I'm pretty happy so far.


Cherubs at Winterthur


Wilmington Train Station Clock


Starfish from the Baltimore Aquarium

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The next step... or is that morbid?

I am studying death and dying in a class in school right now, and I am really enjoying it. Death is something that has always interested me, but never really frightened me. I am not obsessed with death on a scary, gothic level or anything, but I find it to be a captivating subject. The simple fact is that literally every single person will die at some point. There is no way to avoid it. Admitedly, some ways to go are better than others, but in the end, everyone will take their last breath.

In America, we tend to view death as a bad thing. We do all that we can to prolong life even in the face of terminal illness and, in some cases, even when it means much greater and much longer suffering for the patient. I love the American medical field and I think that our advances are fantastic, but sometimes I wonder when we begin to intervene too much (like someone in a coma on life support for years until the family runs out of money and they have to pull the plug). Everyone has different convictions about active and passive euthanasia, but all are grappling with the same issue... death.

Also in America, we tend to be in denial about death. We call it passing away" or we say that someone is "no longer with us." Evidenced in our language, is the fact that people have a tough time confronting the issue. Cultures that are Buddhist or Hindu (just 2 examples) don't view life as the end. It is simply one step in repeating process that is , hopefully, leading toward an end state of perfection. In some cultures, the dead are kept on display for days, or even kept in the family house instead of being burried in a secluded graveyard. I (being a Christian) have always seen death as one phase of life that people experience before the next life. It is sad for me when someone dies, because they are not physically with us in the same way, but they are certainly not just gone. I think that everyone goes through this transition in life, but I have never seen it as the end of life itself. I understand why death is scary for an athiest. It is a scary thought. (Muse has a song abut this. It is called thoughts of a dying atheist. Some of the lyrics are as follows...I know the moment's near and there is nothing we can do. Look through a faithless eye, are you afraid to die? It scares the hell out of me, and the end is all I can see...)

It seems strange to me that in general, our culture is incredibly phobic about something that everyone experiences. I was wondering today if part of the intense fear of death in America is rooted in the separation of church and state. We don't have, as a nation, a unified philosophy about what happens to someone after they die, so on a national level, it is nearly impossible to address. Thailand is a Buddhist country, and death is not feared the same way there. Everyone believes the same thing about it and can talk about it. Here in America it is taboo to discuss. You never really know what somebody else thinks about death and so you have to be careful about stepping on someone's religious toes with a discussion of your theological ideas of death. I love it that we have the freedom of speech, but I think that widespread discourd on this topic has caused it to be swept under the rug. I just like to peek under the rug every now and again to see what kind of dirt has piled up there.

I am an Anthropology major (and a Psych major) and sometimes I am frustrated by the fact that most social and cultural anthropologists try to say that there are not any universals, not even in development. I would argue that since literally everyone will experience death, that makes it universal. It is amazing to see the diversity with which people approach the topic, but still, everyone has to in some way. I am amazed , though, at the fear of death that prevails in our society.

I Need An Amp

I really need a new Amp. I have an old vintage Twin Reverb right now. It's a sweet amp, it's just really old and not really tough enough to gig with. I'm going to try to sell that one, and get something newer. I would like to get a half stack of some sort, but they just cost so much money! Right now I'm thinking about getting a fender stage dsp 160. It's a really nice amp, and it is a reasonable deal. It's a 212 combo, but that might be about all I can afford for now.

Does anybody have any suggestions about amps? Does anybody have anything for sale or that they would like to trade?

Ian

Ian's New Song

Ok, it's very rough, and it was the first take. But here you go, I think it's nice. . .

Listen to it hear

Monday, May 17, 2004

Compare Us

Well whenever I tell someone that I'm in a band the inevitable question that comes up is "what band do you guys sound like?". Personally I don't think we match up to anyone very good so I never know what to say. I'd be interested to know who you guys think we sound like.

The other question that always comes up is "Are you guys a Christian band?". I think there's a big difference between a Christian worship band (which people usually think of as a typical "Christian" band) and just a Christian band. So I usually answer the question as "yes, we're all Christians, but it might be hard to tell were a Christian band from our lyrics". If you want to read a really in depth post on this topic Jason did a great post on the subject awhile back.

The Beauty of a Dumpster

One thing I've learned about this world is that beauty isn't always where you'd expect it to be. I love finding examples of such things. It's like hope in a world of gloom. Kind of like a baby born in a run down barn or something. Anyway, whenever I can find examples, I like to take a snapshot. Here are some images that I think are beautiful, and yet they are all part of a dumpster, which is really rather ugly.

What do you think?

Does anyone have any other examples they would like to share?






And if you'd like to see more:
red_dumpster_3.jpg
red_dumpster_4.jpg
red_dumpster_6.jpg

I just want to post again, so here it is...

Hello to all of my fans, family, friends, and foe (wait, I have no foe... I am not sure I have any fans either... personal fans, that is).


After the long salutation, I don't have a big important political or philosophical thing to say here. I really just wanted to say hi. It's good to have normal personal conversations (or blogs) from time to time just for the sake of relationship. It wouldn't be so nice to just argue or debate with you all the time (like I did last week). So here is my friendly little post about not much in particular.


Lindsay and I went camping in the Wharton State Forest (that is in the pine barrons) with 2 friends of ours. I have to admit that when I think of New Jersey, toxic waste, ugly urban sprawl, and drive by shootings all come to mind, but the state forest is far removed from all of that and acutally quite beautiful. We canoed several miles into the forest on a small stream and camped for the night. The next day we canoed several more miles to a dirt road, hid the canoes, and hiked hiked back to the car before picking up the canoes and returining home. All in all, it was a great time.


During all of the canoing, Linds and I were far out in front of our friends because we were in our canoe which is better than the one they were in (sorry Jason and Susan, I just have a special affinity for our canoe and couldn't part with it). The stream is so winding, that it felt as though we were completely alone. The water's edge is such a beautiful part of the ecosystem. The dense forest parts just enough to let someone in a canoe slip quietly through and see what goes on in the woods far away from roads and trails. We saw countless deer, turtles, birds, and all kinds of other wildlife. When the sounds of voices, cars, sirens and even planes are gone, it is truly amazing how much more you notice. There is a peace that can be found amongst the trees that is different than any other.


On a totally different note, I am working on a new song. I don't always finish when I start writing lyrics, but I thought that if I told you all I was working on something, that might spur me on to finish it. Feel free to bug me about it until I actually finish it and give it to the band.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Ian is pretty cool

Yesterday Ian and I got togethe to record a song about poverty that he had to write for one of his classes at school. I have to say, it's a pretty cool song. Ian said that it was kind of cheesy, but I wouldn't say it was at all. It's kind of staying with me a little. I like that the members of this band aren't ashamed to say we want to make this world better, aren't too cool and cynical to say things like that.

Anyway, I can't really post the lyrics or song or anything without Ian's permission, so if you all beg enough maybe he's go for it.

Posting your comments on this system

Hey all. If you want to partake in this cool new system for posting your comments and Ideas you have to be registered with Bolgger. That is easy to do.



1. Go to www.blogger.com.



2. Click the link on their home page to register with them -Create an account. (this is totally free and it takes about 3 minutes at the most).



3. If you want to use a different name than your first name when you post (like if you want to remain El Guappo, Fatty, MyNym or one of our other message board regulars) go to your member profile and look for the spot where you can specify what you want your posting name to be (you can change this at any time). That is better than staying anon because we all love to see what the regulars have to say (remember when you are leaving a comment to select the option for your posting name to appear next to what you said.)



That's it. If you do that stuff, you can comment just like before and keep your cool name too. I honestly love to check the weblog to see if there are new comments up. I check it like 3-4 times per day on average, and I love to see what people have to say. So thanks for all of the good comments, conversations, and laughs in the past, and please... go register so that you can keep the fun alive.

Friday, May 14, 2004

New comments system

It was driving me crazy how the numbers weren't working with the old comments system, so the new blogger system is now live. In some ways it's better (it all displays on the same page with the post, you can read the post while you're commenting), in some ways it's worse -- have to go to blogger.com to fill them out, and unless you want to post anonymously you have to register with blogger), but oh well, the other system was breaking.

If you are dying to read an old comment, here they are.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Comments will be erased

We'll be switching over to a new comments system next Monday, so we just want you to know that the existing ones are going to be wiped clean. It's sad, but I think that Ian will be making a record of the comments that we've had to date, as we've had some conversations worth saving.

So be ready, and don't be surprised.

Outrage

I don't really want to talk about it much, but I also don't want to give the appearance of not being outraged by the murder of Nicholas Berg like I was by the torture going on at the hands of US troops.

Yes, I am much more sickened, much more outraged. And that they were yelling "God is great" or whatever at the same time just shows who these people have become. . . oh my this world is capable of such evil it boggles the mind.

Sad, sad sad day.

Britney

I would just like to clear my good name from any discredit that's been put against it by a certain picture available in our studio pictures section. Contrary to what you might believe, I am not really gazing longingly at a half naked poster of Britney Spears in the picture. Ian with his evil brilliance was able to get just the right angle to make it look like I was staring at the poster when actually I was looking at the wall while listening to one of the drum tracks. Brad (the studio guy) seemed to be in love with Britney Spears and thought it fitting to put up a nice poster of her right on the doorway that you have to walk through everytime you want to go to the drum room (Don't worry, I got back at him with a certian granola bar incident). I think if he saw her without her makeup on and with any other "augmentations" gone he might change his mind about her.

So there you have it.....by the way Jason, I don't get the caption. I would've thought you could do better. And what's up with those Ian captions? :)

The Legend of Zelda

In the sixth grade, the first Legend of Zelda game came out, and I have been hooked ever since. Even to the point where I wanted to name a child Link, but Darby wouldn't go for it. To this day, it's the reason that I'll only buy Nintendo game systems. Anyway, if you are a fan like me, surely you'll get chills like I did when you see this trailer for the next game, which is cryptically "coming soon."

Monday, May 10, 2004

The importance of the artist

One of our valued fans said in the comments to the "Boy, George" post. . .
The artist is overly concerned with their own "feelings" and image over substance. . .
At any rate, a soldier has to go out and deal with the hard truths of life while the artist tends to sit back and write a song about it.

Ouch.
Now this is something I can get passionate about. Why in the world do we have to be disrespecting the artist? I'd like to defend the artist, as I think a person with this disposition is essential to any balanced, healthy community of people. And also, I believe that God has created me to be an artist. And I'm not about to allow God's creation to be maligned without some dissent.

If this world was nothing more than Darwin imagined, one in which material reality, the passing of genes, and survival of your genes was the ultimate goal, then I might agree with the notion that a soldier is vitally more important than an artist. But the truth is, we have a spiritual dimension to deal with. We have to feed our soul as well as our bodies. We need to defend our spirits as well as our borders. And we need to explore our hearts as much as we need to explore new frontiers of science and land. . .

Of course, anyone with a small appreciation of the Apostle Paul's teaching of the Body, and how every part has an essential function and need appreciate parts different then themselves, probably knows all this already, but there is no reason to degrade the artists in comparison to the soldier. They are both equally deserving of revere, of appreciation, of respect.

As the scriptures begin, how do we first see God? He is an artist, creating .. . turning a dark vast chunk of nothingness into the wonderfully vibrant beautiful world we all should enjoy.

As we are made in the image of God, this to me is a mandate. I always have loved seeing a chunk of clay and knowing it could be a sublimely designed pot, a sculpture, it could be anything. I love the idea that as a musician I can take notes that are available to everyone and language available to everyone, filter these things through my talent and heart, and come up with something brand new, something this world has never seen, something that can be the thing to touch someone's heart in a way it wouldn't be touched otherwise.

Of course this is no longer dealing in the world of image alone, but in both image, and the substance that stands behind that image and powers it. True artists are not concerned with image over substance -- instead they delve into the substance to produce an adequate image, one that can at least approximate the substance that it tries to mirror. Images alone, soundbites alone -- they are the currency that politicians, corporations, and propagandists trade in. . . not the artist.

I can craft a story that can capture somebodies interest and teach them something that a debate never could. Is it any surprise that Jesus was primarily a storyteller, which is another form of the arts of course. He entertained and delighted people with his simple stories, and by them taught people things they could never understand through through a lecture or an essay.

The above quote represents to me a very bad understanding of what a real artist does. Every artist that I know who makes anything worth appreciating is succesful precisely because they are confronting the hard truths of this world. This is what often makes art vital and worthwhile. Not the avoidance of these things, running off to write a song or paint a picture, but sublimating the ills of this world and actually dealing with them through art. It's sad that this is not recognized.

As for pre-occupation with self, this entirely subjective measure needs some quantifying to even discuss it (was Jesus pre-occupied with self when he was begging God to take this cup from him in the garden, is that anguish any less self-centered than what some artists express?), but I've often found that artists are some of the most observant people, of both themselves and other people. They watch, they listen, they think, they dream, and they create.

Most of my music is actually taking the perspective of people I meet or talk to, dealing with their hard truths for them in some ways. And when the true artist is "self-centered," by sharing that pain or happiness or anger with the rest of the world, they can in some ways act as the sacrificial lamb, the person who can express these things that everybody feels, and again add to the existence of other people.

Lastly, unless you want constant war, constant uprisings and constant chaos, eventually you have to change people's hearts. In England, the church led the charge to abolish slavery, fueled by some excellent abolition songs that captured a country's spirit. You change people's hearts -- not through force, but through speaking to their spirits. One movie -- the Passion of Christ, managed to affect more young people in this country than years of forced church going. Think of how a movie, a song, think how it can affect you. This is an artists job, and a huge responsibility, as it can obviously be used for good or bad.

Again, I'm guilty of an essay, a very long essay. But really, I think this had to be addressed. And please, the artist and the soldier are roles that the same person can play. Have no doubt that I would take up arms and defend our country if we were invaded. Have no doubt that if I had to I would sacrifice myself for another. Have no doubt that many artists would do this.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Photography

Collin mentioned that he liked how JD's site included his photography, and said we should put some of the pictures we take, if we'd like. So here are some non-band related pictures, for what they are worth.



Soho, NYC


Subway exit in Manhatten


Church on Sullivan Street in Soho


Performer in the subway under Times Square


Ceiling in the dining room of the Mansfield Hotel


My favorite building in Soho


Old friends spending time at Bethany Beach, Delaware


Protest stick in NYC bus. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition between the sticker and the flag, I don't necassarily agree with the sentiments expressed in the sticker. . . Although America is far too corporate.



Row of buildings on Sullivan Street


Steam rising from below NYC


Incredible stone window on 44th St.


Wall within a French Bistro where Darby and I ate.


Window in our room at the Mansfield, NYC.


Floatation washed ashore on Bethany Beach


Pier on Bethany Beach


Flying home from California, a mountain range (not sure which one). . .


Another view of that pier in Bethany Beach


Looking up at the sky in the Kodak Theater in Hollywood


Rusted bolt on weathered wood

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Recordings
Hey everyone Jason put our latest recordings up on the site. They're still in rough form (not mixed hardly at all) so they sound pretty live and there's tracks in them that might not make the final cut. Everyone should definitely check them out though, especially "All Our Hands". "Becoming" has also turned into a really nice song. Hopefully we'll get the final versions mixed soon and they'll sound nice and professional.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Boy, George

In many ways I'm not all that political of a person. Not really by choice -- it's not that I'm not interested in these things. I watch the news, read websites, read magazines, try to keep current on everything that is going on. But, I am cursed and blessed by the ability to see every issue from at least 2 angles, probably more. It kind of keeps me from being able to jump in on any one side. . . it's this sentiment that is expressed in the song Fanatic.

So even though it's been fashionable to speak out against George W, I've been hesitant to do so, because to me it's just been the same roles being played by seperate sides as when Clinton was in office. It's been that political, in my mind. Republicans automatically hated Clinton. And democrats automatically hate Bush. And the funny thing is, Clinton was much more conservative then people realized (welfare reform, pledging our troops to wars around the world, etc), while Bush is much more liberal than most people realize (liberalizing immigration laws, spending so much on health care. . .)

For a while I thought that Bush was good for the country for a couple of reasons.

1.) Because he was hated so much, he energized the protesters. Instead of being numbed by the seemingly progressive Clinton administration, during which pushes for social change were few and far between, even though the need for it was just as pressing, you see large groups of people mobilized to push for change, to get involved. While I don't agree with every cause, I think the country benefits by protest, it keeps the country from drifting too far in either direction.

2.) He lowered taxes. And when you're paying a lot of taxes, this is appreciated. I really don't think the government does a good job with our money, and shouldn't be trusted with much of it. I also do think that getting more money into the economy rather then the treasury does benefit the economy.

But now I have to say that he probably isn't very good for the country. I'm not going to personally attack him. I honestly think he is an honorable man who is motivated by what he believes is the right thing to do.

BUT. I'm sorry, but anyone who has seen the pictures of what some (granted a very small amount) of our troops have been doing in Iraq to prisoners has to be ashamed to be an American. This is amazingly, terribly embarrassing. This is not something that you'd think (or would want to think) that US troops would do. This is the kind of thing that Bush said that Saddam's regime did -- part of the reason we went in there (supposedly).

And I have to now say, I think that Bush's administration has made me less safe, has made all American's less safe around the world. My goodness, if seeing these pictures makes me feel so bad, what will it make a fundamentalist Islamic feel? Pure hatred, I've no doubt. And while I wouldn't excuse the violence they might commit, I'd have to say I'd understand it. . .

A naked man, dragged on a leash, held by a woman. If we want the Arab world to hate us, we've managed to release the most humiliating, dehumanizing images. . . "this is what Americans think of us. . ."

It justifies all of the things that Osama says about us. That we're only in Iraq to flex our imperialistic muscle. That we aren't liberators, we're occupiers. My goodness, we're worse than occupiers, we're torturers.

I know, it's not all of our military. It's not even 1/2 of 1 percent. It's maybe only 7 people.

But come on, the way they took pictures of it, the way they made a record of it, are you going to tell me that they didn't have some superior officers' tacit approval of this? And if that superior officer wasn't nervous enough to want to destroy any evidence of this behavior, then guess what? For some reason that superior officer wasn't fearful of reprisals from their superiors. Maybe because it was an accepted, yet unspoken, interrogation technique.. . . And it goes on and on to the top. This is why I ultimately blame Bush. Rumsfield is his guy. And the military is his.

I think that Bush put the wrong people around him. Rumsfield, Cheney, the Neo-cons. . . and I think he has lost me.

Delaware Online
Thanks to the Snake Man for pointing out that the Look Machine is the number one downloaded song from April on DelawareOnline. . . hey that's pretty cool. And it takes some of the brutal sting off of our dizzying fall on the Amazon.com download chart.



We're just ready to do some final mixdowns on the 3 songs we just recorded, listening to them right now for our final comments. Honestly, I love them. Collin Ian and Isaiah laid some great backing vocals down, and everything is just shining in my opinion. We're definitely going to go ahead and finish a full length. . . Trying to aim for June/July completion date. I had the music on and told my daughter it was us and she said, "Oh wow, this sounds real." I said, "Real, what do you mean?" She said, "Like real music, like you'd hear on CDs." I think that's quite a compliment if you ask me.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

What do you want to know?

Hey, we're thinking about putting together a "bio" section of our website, which would basically be us individually answering questions (kind of like a survey) so that people could get to know us a little bit. Well, looking around at other bands' websites they ask themselves and then answer the most boring questions. I want ours to be really interesting, entertaining, but at the same time relevant to who we are as people and as a band.

So my question is, what do you want to know about us? Just give us some ideas about what you think would be cool stuff for a band to tell people about themselves.

Post away!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Buttons and Postcards

Guess what I got in the mail today? Our buttons. I think they are very cool, take a look at them. They are very small, and to demonstrate that I took a picture of them along with a nickel.

And guess what I got yesterday? Our postcards. These we'll send with our CDs when we're trying to get shows, etc, and also give out and leave them places just for publicity. Here is a picture of them:

Monday, May 03, 2004

Finding us through search engines

You used to be able to type the Look Machine in google, etc and not find us at all. But things have started to change. Now, you'll find mentions of us, and eventually you'll find our site too.

Our hosting service gives us reporting on what search terms are typed in when people click to our site. Most of them are fairly obvious.

In april, there were 9 different "search strings"

4 times people found us by typing "thelookmachine"

3 times people found us by typing "http://www.thelookmachine.com"

3 times people found us by typing "solarcult"

3 times people found us by typing "the look machine"

2 times people found us by typing "how's look your dream house" -- what, 2 times this happened???

And this is my ultimate favorite!
2 times people found our site by typing in "william hung and down's syndrome"
WHAT? -- not once, but twice this happened?

The rest of the search terms are pretty boring, but just so you know --
\www.thelookmachine.com

http://www.thelookmachine.com/weblog/

thelookmachine.com

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Is it legitimate?
One thing that I guess I shouldn't be surprised by but I am is the amount of groups out there that seem to try to scam musicians out of their money -- which there isn't much of in the first place. I've already told you about that new york music fest ($945 entrance fee), and I was also contacted by someone that wanted to loan us money for buying instruments -- the fine print interest was like 30%, which is a horrible deal.

Now I just got an email from "Brighter Life Records" (which doesn't have a website that I can find, and a quick google search returned no results.

From: "jeremy boe"
Date: Sat, 01 May 2004 06:28:13 +0000
To: info@thelookmachine.com
Subject: brighter life records

hi, brighter life records is looking forward towards our first release. we
are currently looking for talented artists to work with in the future. we
stumbled upon your band the look machine from pure volume, we really like
your sound. what we would like to do is release one of your songs on our
upcoming comp, to see what kinda response you get from the public. if you
would like more information on the upcoming release please respond to this
email.

thanks,
brighter life records
c/o jeromy


Always suspicious, I wrote back saying maybe we were interested, give us more details.

And he writes:

awsome, we‚re very happy that your taking interest in brighter life records.
okay well heres the deal with the comp. like with all comps the bands pay
a fee to be on it, this particular one is $150. but rest assured that we
aren‚t making money off of your dividend, we‚re having such a huge amount
pressed that we alone couldn‚t cover the costs of pressing. At $150, the
bands are covering about a quarter of the costs. because we don‚t have any
talent yet, this entire compilation is exclusively for our reference. we
want to see which bands receive the best response, in the hopes to start a
professional relation ship with them. therefore there will not be any
signed national acts on this comp, but that doesn‚t mean that your band will
be the only one worth listening to. we are doing all of the contacting for
this release, and we pride ourselves in our taste in music. the style that
we‚re targeting is the emo/indie sound. putting aside the potential to gain
a furthered relationship, there are other benefits. it will be distributed
nationwide, and that means that if we do not get in touch for an extended
relationship, theres a good chance that somebody else will. also we already
have made engagements with college radio stations all over the north east to
play the upcoming release. finally each band will receive 50 copies to sell
at their will. so at $150 dollars the cost of each cd is $3, sell them for
$6 and you doubled your investment. if you are still interested in working
with us please contact me again for a conformation, and we‚ll get back to
you with further instructions.

thanks,
brighter life records
c/o jeromy


Ahhh. . . so the money. It's always about the money. he wants $150. Anxious to smoke him out, I ask him why he likes our music, where he is located, what contacts he has for us. . . and he answers:

hi, i'd be happy to give you my opinion of your music. i like the blend of
genres that you gracefully incorporate into you music. i like the tasteful
distortion. too often do you hear bands today that rely too much on
distortion. i like it that theres really no band out there that can claim
you to be their xerox copy. also the versatility of your band, you could
play anything from an underground club with a bunch of emo bands to a
college bar or even an alt rock event. thats what sticks out to me. thats
why i feel that your band has potential. as far as distribution, we'll be
using lumberjack, insound and probably rev hq. all of which get the record
out into stores and into the hands of customers. finally we're from
pennsylvania, northern. small town called jim thorpe. pleasant,
historical, beautiful. you should visit someday. i hope that i was able to
answer all your questions and look forward to working with you on this
upcoming release. let me know if you have any other questions that you'd
like me to answer. oh yeah, there arent any bands confirmed yet, there will
be approximately 10 - 15 bands, and they will range from the entire east
coast. and will not request any type of deposit until all bands are
confirmed and the final product is ready to ship.

thanks,
brighter life records
c/o jeromy


I have to admit, his response shows some thought, like maybe he has listened to us and likes us. BUT, then I know that he is only saying positive stuff that maybe all bands would want to hear (which is a trick of psyhics and "prophets" -- they tell you somewhat generic stuff that is complimentary, so of course you're going to think it's "perfect for you"). . . So I ask him where his website is, and he says:

at the moment we do not have a working website, mostly because we haven't
worked with any artists yet, but we are looking to launch it soon. another
reason as to why we haven't launched it is because we don't want tons of
junk bands emailing us asking to be on the comp. right now we're
exclusively in the scouting phase of production, and we like to do all of
the searching. but i believe we will be launching it after we confirm all
the bands via email.

thanks,
brighter life records
c/o jeromy


Hmmmm... . . what are your thoughts, is it a scam????

Saturday, May 01, 2004

A big vicious cycle
Right now the Look Machine has a lot of cool things going on, but at the same time it doesn't seem like we're moving forward because all these things depend on each other. For instance, in an attempt to get shows, I've sent a million emails out and called a bunch of people and gotten some real cool leads. But they all want me to send a demo and a press kit. OK, you all know we're recording the demo, but it's not quite done. . . So I think, well I'll just send some copies of the old demo, which isn't as good, but should be good enough to get us some shows. But then our press kit that is being printed won't be here until May 5th. AHHH!!!

And then yes, I think we need people to dig our music, more of them. But really in my opinion you need to give fans 2 things, shows and albums. Full length albums. And really fun shows. For instance, I really like this band Moments in Grace, but I wouldn't declare myself some huge fan because so far all they have in a 4 song demo, which is awesome, but really not enough to captivate me for a long period of time. So I really think we need to put together a full length. I'm confident that we have enough material to put together a good one, but man the time commitment to do it right. . . Not that it's not worth it, but I wish it were done now. But I think we owe it to people to have it all recorded and recorded well, if we're to expect people to listen to us.

So yes, we are trying to get shows and I'm itching for them, I know it seems like a barren wasteland of shows right now but soon that will change in a very large way I believe. You'll see, there is a lot of behind the scenes conversations going on, and once this demo and press kit are in my possession we can turn them into something.

That is, if we can keep Ian from going to Nepal again! Or Florida, or wherever it is that he is always traveling. He tours like a rock star, but without playing music.

Just kind of rambling really here.

Went to Dutch Wonderland with my kids today -- just me with a 4 year old and 18 month old, and it was a whole lot of exhausting fun. Man it's a treat to have children and to appreciate them. I have the two best children in the world. No doubt about it. They mean so much to me. I'd honestly give up all my dreams for them if I had to, if it would help them or save them or something like that. It's hard to explain when you don't have children, but man they just open up parts of your heart that you never knew existed. I hate it when parents are rude to their children -- and you hear it all the time. Of course I'm not perfect, but Darby and I do try to treat our children like they are people, not pets who can be commanded around.

While at the Land full of Dutch Wonder, we happened to catch a show by a childrens' act called Two of Kind. I have to say, they were pretty good, and had my kids bopping out. My son was shaking his head so much that he hit it on the bench in front of him and gave himself quite a little mark (but it did go away, thankfully). I was watching them and I was just thinking that there are so many people who play music, so much music that goes unlistened to by the vast majority of people in the world. But here were these 2 people wearing silly hats and making a living off of it, and God bless them for it. I mean, they were really putting a lot into it. It was inspirational in a "wearing silly hats and singing about dinosaurs" kind of way.

Darby was at a wedding all day -- a wedding I couldn't attend because we couldn't get anyone to watch the children, and she still isn't home. That party animal.

The next date we were able to get studio time for (bad grammar I know) is Wednesday night. HOPEFULLY, that night we will be finished. I am so happy with the way things are sounding so far, they just sound great. I think people are going to pleasantly suprised. Like thinking, "I thought they were good, but this is very good." Or something like that.

Tomorrow I'm attending a Pet Shower for my sister in law, who just bought a tiny white dog from canada. I've never been to one of these things before. Just thought you'd like to know.

At work, things are really winding down. A lot of my stuff has been transitioned over to other people, so I don't have that much to do on the 2 days that I'm in the office. It's kind of strange, because I'm a pretty hard worker, and pretty aggressive and not the kind of person to do nothing. . . but well that's kind of just where things have landed huh? Hopefully I will get laid off within the month, that is the way it is looking.

A new version of iTunes music store has launched, and now they let people publish their own recommended playlists. If anyone wants to see a nice collection of cover songs, check out this. Another cool thing is that iTunes is starting a free single of the week, of up and coming acts.

Collin has started a conversation up with Jealousy Curve , who are very talented, and they like us too (it's like we're dating), so we're going to be planning a show together sometime soon.