Thursday, July 29, 2004

Hello from Kathmandu

Hey everybody! Right now I'm in the capital city of Nepal, starving because it's been 10 hours since my last real meal, (they only eat 2 per day around here) and in pretty good spirits. Let me tell you, we don't eat too often around here, but when we do the food more than makes up for the wait! It's some great stuff.

There is nothing quite like the traffic in a third world country. People around here drive like madmen, but somehow it all works out and is apparently quite safe. The roads are a mess of taxis, which are remarkably to the Festiva which was proudly driven by three of the look machiners, tractors, busses, motorcycles with a few dozen people on each one, hindu cows that are calmer than I ever immagined, dump trucks, pedystrians, bicyclers, and three wheeled vans, all of which are simultaneously honking their horns. It's great stuff! There isn't much that resembles lanes or anything, it's a free for all, but somehow they know what's going on.

We're staying in and working in a really great orphanage. The kids are awesome, and the staff does a really great job. Today we went with the kids and taught about creation, the food web, and interdependence in the public schools. It was pretty cool. After that we wandered around the streets of kathmandu, between the meat vendors and the hindu temples. I gotta go eat now, but I'll try to put another update up here sometime. Bye!

Ps. Collin, please email this to Mom and Grandad. Thanks.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

We turned out the Light?

The dream is over!


Jason Latshaw wrote:
Hi Ha--

I think at this point it would be better for both of us if you found another band. Thanks for considering us!

Sincerely,

Jason

On 7/28/04 2:32 PM, "NHU-HA LE" wrote:

Okay.



Update at 11:26 PM -- REPLACED SO QUICKLY
Well, that didn't take long. . . last night the Look Machine was listed for music. . .today at noon we told her we weren't interested anymore (see below) and by 8 PM the White Light site (when I checked) listed:

Music by:
- Denise Montana (negotiation)
- Michael Breckenridge http://www.tikiv.com/demos.html (negotiation)


Denise is a jazzy singer -- check her out here. Michael Breckenridge specializes in doing soundtracks to various projects.

2 observations:

1.) If the film is able to switch from Look Machine to jazzy music in a matter of hours for overall mood, I wonder how strong the artistic vision is on what they want the music to sound like? The two genres are very far apart.

2.) I have a hard time believing that either of them will be willing to sell their own original music for $1. . . so those negotiations are probably not going to be wrapped up anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Another White Light Update

OK, so I looked at their site again. Patrick Swayze appears to be out! And it's now called My Light Child.

The Dirty Dancer is being replaced by Bob Bowersox. . . the host of the QVC cooking show, In the Kitchen with Bob -- and he played a random policeman in the film A Perfect Murder.

This baby appears to be taking on water.

However, even though the site previously listed Sum 41 under music as "in negotiation" it now lists the Look Machine. Take that Sum 41!. However, we may not be able to retain that glorious title for long as our song "has no connection to the last scene!"

In the words of Collin (paraphrased from memory since I'm too lazy to go back and look it up) "This thing is going to drown the dock rats" or something like that.

The White Light is Fading?

I've told you about the contractual problems we've been having with White Light (translation: they are trying to steal our music for $1 -- copyright, publishing, everything). Finally, since they weren't rewriting their contract to reflect us owning our own music. . . I sent them one that I wrote. And I got this response:

Jason,
If you give us a license to use your music vs. "work for hire", I have to review with the board/investors and it will take time.

The 50% profit from sale of the sound track will be shared among the groups of musicians. So if only your group on the sound track... you'll get 50% profit from the sound tract. If two groups, you'll get 25% (do the simple math).

Did you have a song for the last scene? Any way we can listen to it?
Have you composed the "Preview" ?

Give me a call sometime today, I want to give you an LOI (Letter of Intent) before we can finalize the contract.


So then I send her a rough copy of the song. .. turns out we may not need to finalize that contract anyway, because she says this:
Jason,
The last scene is about the father lost his daughter. He missed the time they were together. In the process of rearing her he learned much more than he taugh her. He once gave her a life. Then he gave up her life to save him. And because of her he becomes a better person. He wishes he could be with his daughter again. Now she was gone, each time he looks up and sees a star, or a light he thinks of her. She is with him always.

Your song has no connection with the last scene!

Can you create a new song appropreate with the movie!


Wow!! And I actually did write the song after I read the entire script, knowing that scene exactly. When I asked for what specifically she thinks is inappropriate to the scene, she responds:

Jason,
Please write out the lyrics of your song and compare it with the description of the story.


Very terse. Very non-collaborative, in my opinion. In fact -- NO answer at all to my question. Obviously, I think the song we wrote is appropriate to the story -- I read the story and then wrote it. So I need to know from her what is not working in her opinion. That's why I asked for specifics.

For those of you that care, here are the words to the song:

but you've only just arrived, you've not yet even breathed the air
we had a whole lifetime to learn what we are
but now it's been cut down to only yesterday and the day before that

curse myself for taking any of you without gratitude
curse myself for not holding you yesterday
curse myself for not sharing who I am with you
and now I'm cursed to reach and not find you.

stay around, just for a little, at least to see that you were loved.
stay around, in the heavy air around me, let me hear your whispers
watch me cry the tears I should have spilled while you were here
stay around, just to hear the words I could never say
stay around, just to see the life we should have lived.

hey I hope we get another chance
to build what we weren't even able to start
hey I pray I'll see you again, in a world where I'm not so lost and clueless
hey look at me with sympathy, watch me never getting over you.


And here is a link to a rough version of it if you'd like to hear it.

When I read the script, one of the more interesting things that emerged was that the father had a very hard time really connecting with his daughter, couldn't really get through to her and let her know how much he loved her. It was one of the more compelling things about the script, and the song does reflect on this a little. Maybe that isn't what she was going for? Who knows, because she won't tell me.

You know what, I like this song at this point. . . I wouldn't want to change it much for her. I like what it's become. Yes, it fits for the scene, but it's more than that too. I like the meaning that has emerged.

I asked her and asked her if she wanted anything specific for the song when she first asked us to write it and she just said, "Oh I heard your other stuff, I'm sure whatever you do will be fine." It's not like a wrote a song about the joy of chocolate milk or the pain of teenage acne. I wrote a song about the loss of a loved one that you didn't think you would lose, the realization that there was a deep well of love there and the regret that you'd never really shared it. And I even kept in a "after death" connection between the two per the script; you know, like when he sees the stars and thinks they are still together, like Ha mentions-- "look at me with sympathy, watch me never getting over you."

Even though I have my bouts with self-doubt and the like, I am a proud person with a good deal of self-confidence. That is to say, when I think I've done good work, I don't like it degraded. I do not appreciate the brusque way that Ha has addressed me here. It is not in the manner that I would treat someone who was helping me out -- for basically free.

I have a hard enough time hearing well thought out criticism, but I will hear that, because I know I should and I work hard to be able to accept it. But my goodness, her comments are showing no thought, they are not helpful. We're doing this for her for $1. So I am one millimeter away from telling Ha Le that this maybe is not a good fit after all and she should look for another band.

If this were actually a real Hollywood movie. . .or didn't seem so shady. . . or was a script that I absolutely loved. . .I would work harder to suck it up -- I can and will work through differences when the goal is worthy. I really make an effort to not be "difficult to work with," as many artists stereotypically are. . .But with this. . . I'm very tempted to just tell her to look elsewhere. But I need the approval of the rest of the band first -- it shouldn't be my decision to make alone.

Thoughts? And band. . . what do you think?

The Simple Folk

A while back, someone asked us what kind of music we listened to and each band member went through a list of artists they enjoy. People seemed quite surprised that I like folk music, but I really do... a lot.

I like folk for several reasons including vocal and instrumental styles, but the main reason is really quite human. I love a good story. To me, listening to a good folk song is like watching a good movie. There is a story and it is conveyed in a way that is easy to feel and relate to.

Some songs I like because I can identify with the specific content. For example, I love to listen to Simon and Garfunkel because they sing about hitch-hiking a great distance and the mix of excitement and drudgery that comes with that experience. Another song is about the excitement of coming home after a long trip. Since I have hitch-hiked and traveled a lot, those songs evoke the exact feelings that I experienced in those contexts. James Taylor describes what it is like to be in love in a way that I have never seen anywhere else. Joni Mitchell alows you to partake in the beauty of cycles of time, changes in life, seasons, love, pain, and nostalgia.

There are other songs that tell stories in such a way that one is able to imagin and almost experience something that is not a part of their own life. Robert Earl Keen tells a story about a girl who falls for an outlaw. While I have never been a girl with feelings for a gunslinger, I feel like I know each person in the song. That is fun if you ask me. The somg is able to make a human connection

Art involves communicating ideas, situations, concepts, and feelings, and to me, folk music hits the nail on the head.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Another proposition

Look what I got today:

G
> About 10 years ago, I had 2 TV shows on cable TV. They were "Planet Hip-Hop" and "Undergound Flava." They were about music and music videos. We had sponsors who gave us clothing, money, radio spots, cds, and studio time in exchange for advertising. It was a lot of fun, and a great venue for us to express ourselves.

> My philosophy for gaining viewers is the same philosophy that many shows that you see on MTV, BET, and other music networks employ today: "Get the people involved." They want to see themselves on TV, not just you. If you film a show in a closed studio, people aren't inclined to watch. If you film where the people are, and tell them "Tell your family to watch the show, because you will be on TV," you have automatically gained a guaranteed viewer. When you factor in 20 - 50 people, your viewer ship goes up exponentially. That is why many places invite the kids down to their studios, where as before, they didn't.

> Having said all of this, what do you do with your footage of your shows? Would you consider airing them on cable TV? I would enlist the aid of my daughter and some of her friends as hostesses/hosts. They would introduce your performances. Submitting a complete 28-minute standard 1/2" videotape to Comcast channel 66 is inexpensive. Your bands would get exposure, my daughter and her friends would get broadcasting experience, and I would get to promote a great TV show!

> BTW - Cable TV is also a great venue for the plays that you will be writing. You can utilize the theater in Middletown, or, I can get the Baby Grand to let your actors record plays, and air them on leased access to gauge viewer response.

> Let me know what you think. Have a great day.


Seems like a pretty fantastic idea to me. . . and we could get other cool bands to play it too. One of our difficulties is that the standard DE/PA venue -- bars that want cover bands -- don't really fit what we're trying to do. So we kind of have to "create a scene," which isn't easy. This might be a step in that direction. Thoughts?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Wedding Bells

One of the ways I'm trying to make some money while "retiring" is through photography and videography. I've videotaped 2 weddings and yesterday I still photographed a wedding. While it's incredibly stressful (so many things to capture that only happen once), I also think it's a huge honor to be the one who can document such a monumental moment.

After the wedding day, really only about 10% of the job is finished. I then spend numerous hours transferring the tapes or photos, examining them, cleaning them up, cropping and editing, etc. Over this time, I get to live the day over and over again, get to see the couple and their families over and over again. Get to see the birth of a new, deeper love.

I enjoy being a photographer and filmmaker because of the moments that you can capture. For me, it's not about deception -- trying to make the moments look better than they are. It's about avoiding the deception that most videos and photos fall prey to -- I'm trying to capture an image that actually lives up to how incredible "being there" was.

I know I've done my job when this happens. I've been fortunate enough that with each of these projects, they rise to these standards.

Part of the "unique" thing that we do for the videos is we interview the couple, their family, their friends before we tape the ceremony. We try to make the video a true documentary of the couple, their relationship, the day, everything. In doing this, I get the chance to see the relationship and how it works.

All this to say that I like marriage, that I like when two people tie themselves to each other for life. I got married very young -- 19 -- and it's not all been easy. But I think being married has made us both much better people, our commitment and love for each other has shaped each other. . . And it excites me each time I see a couple entering into this seriously.

So hooray for marriage. And hooray for the hell you can survive together if you allow it to be the bond it's meant to be.

Sunday and Thursday

Hey, just thought you might want to know. Today (Sunday) the guy who does the production for Thursday (an awesome band on Island Records) is going to get one of our demos, and hopefully give it a listen. You see, he's my girlfriend's sister's friend's uncle, so we're pretty much related. Hopefully he'll really like it, and we'll get some kind of feedback.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Retirement

I really look up to Jason. I decided to follow his fine example and retire. You know, I think that I deserve it after five or six weeks of work. The pension really isn't quite what I was hoping for, but I think that I made the right decission.

I've been working for Hilferty Construction Co. this summer, and it's been a really great time. I've learned a lot and had some fun. The cool part is that Isaiah (yes, the non-blogging bassist) is/was my boss.

So now that work is out of the way it's time for me to take a trip. I'm leaving on Monday for Nepal. I'll be there for about three weeks, and I'm really excited. I've traveled a lot in the US and a good bing in Mexico and Canada, but I've never been acrosss the big pond.

It's going to be an awesome trip! For those of you who don't really follow geography, Nepal is a small extremely mountanous country sandwiched between India and Tibet. It's the home of many of the worlds highest mountains, including Mt. Everest. For those of you who don't follow obscure third world nation polotics, Nepal is a pretty dangerous place right now. There is kind of a civil war between the government and the Maoists (a communist party). There are some travel advisories against going there, but really no tourists hawve been targeted, and I feel like I'm doing the right thing.

I'm going with a brother and some friends and we'll be working in an orphanage in Kathmandu (the capital city) for a while, then we'll head into the mountains to work in some medical clinics, and hopefully we'll be teaching some english in the schools. And of course, I'll be working on my never ending musical side projects. I'm excited, and I'll see you all later!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Shots from our concert

Hey if anybody has any other pictures, send them to us at info@thelookmachine.com, we'd love to post them. These are courtesy of Brianna Cochran. . .



Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Judge Mathis for President

Something that many people may not know about me is that I am -- unabashedley, unapologetically -- a fan of daytime court TV shows. When I was younger I loved the People's Court with Judge Wapner. My mom and I used to watch it together.

I know that many people equate these shows with daytime trash like soaps and Jerry Springer. But no, you are sorely wrong if this is what you think. These shows are wonderful displays of the petty stupid battles that humans of all stations and class get caught up in, and how wisdom and justice can provide an antidote.

I really do love them all -- Judge Joe Brown, the new People's Court, Texas Justice -- I'll even watch Divorce Court sometimes. But looming over all the rest is the champion of TV courts, the lord of all daytime justices -- Judge Mathis.



He is very wise. He's an excellent job of character. He grew up on the tough streets, worked hard and turned his life around because of his strong love for his mother. He's an ethical man, yet not hypocritical or over-righteous. . . He's real and honest, and can sniff out a lie.

He has strong values. He truly cares about taking care of others. Even when the people on his show are complete idiots, he takes time to do what he can to put them on the correct path, if possible. He's funny. He doesn't take himself too seriously, yet he will be serious and forceful when the moment calls for it. He's smart and streetsmart. He's reasonable. And I love his solutions sometimes. For instance, he just awarded the Plaintiff $5000 for "Pain and Suffering" -- and then immediately afterwards, he awarded the Defendant $5000 for the same reason. . . The gavel comes down. . . it's over! They both get nothing because it was a stupid argument in the first case.

This is not a joke -- even though I know it most likely sounds like one --I think he'd be one of the best presidents we could ever have. People may say he isn't qualified, but Reagan was just an actor for a long time and W was just a failed oilman and baseball team owner before becoming a Governor. His Honor just needs to do one thing -- get a Senate seat or something -- as his next step, and then he's ready for 2008.

And I would love to be a fly on the wall to see him discussing important issues with world leaders. "Mr. Putin, you're lying, I can tell you're lying. And you know what? I'm cutting off all our aid to you until you decide you want to be honest with me and pay me the respect that I deserve. Why don't you come back when you've made that decision, ok?"

I think that I'm going to write in a vote for Judge Mathis. And I'm going to write him a letter; because I'd much rather see him in the White House in 2008 than Hillary Clinton!

Various Updates

Collin, Ian and I have written a new song (it may be used at the end of White Light). . . it's really catchy and unique I think. Kind of built the instrumentation around this piano part that Ian wrote. The words are inspired by the idea that someone you love but never quite expressed that love well enough is gone. .. kind of a mix of inspiration between my own life, an experience of a miscarriage, and this excellent book I read recently called the Lovely Bones. Anyway, it really is a cool song, at this moment it's called "So soon."

Last night we got together and worked on our power pop punk dance song (for use in the "dance scene" in the film). . . that one isn't nearly as far along. Of course, since we're not your ordinary fellows, we can't even write a normal by the numbers song like this when we try. . . but nonetheless, it should be a fairly interesting experiment.

We're playing at Newark Community Day, which should be fun. September 19th. . .

I'm trying to get a show sponsored by Amnesty International at UD that we would play with Boy Sets Fire. Keep you're fingers crossed. We're working so hard to get this show with BSF, and I just know that their fans will boo us off the stage. . . but it'll still be fun.

An Iraqi's opinion of Farenheit 9/11

I haven't seen the film yet, but I found this young Iraqi's weblog post about F 9/11 very interesting. His english isn't the best -- but you get the idea. . .

Monday, July 19, 2004

Frustrating

Collin and I met with Ha Le (of "White Light" fame) today. She's extremely nice. And for some reason, the contract she is trying to get us to sign, and what she tells us our agreement will be, they seem totally contradictory -- still.

I know I unfortunately cannot trust her word -- it's really only what the contract says that matters. People can seem like the nicest people in the world, but the contract is what holds up when things get dicey. And this contract says specifically that all of the look machine music would be considered "work for hire" and the copyright would belong to White Light Productions, LLC.

She wants us to do the following:

* Do the instrumental music for the movie, and also the trailer that she's creating by the end of the month.
* Do 3 songs with lyrics
* Appear in an 8 minute party scene

Now all of this is pretty cool, and could be good exposure for us. BUT, she's not paying us for this stuff, and she's also not paying for studio time to get it recorded. We're on our own with that. And, we have pretty tight turnaround times on everything -- like 5 days once we get the footage for the trailer and 1 month once we get the footage for the whole movie. So, we don't want to do all this work if we can't reuse it for our own purposes, and if we don't own the music.

On the off chance that White Light isn't a huge blockbuster, we'd like to be able to put these songs on our own releases without having to secure permission from and pay royalties to an entity that did no work and lent nothing creatively to the songs' creation!

Ha says that they have to own the music because they can't risk us changing our minds about how they can use it for the movie and then hamstringing the distribution of the entire film project, of which the music is a relatively small part. But -- I think we could overcome that by just writing something in to the contract that says that we license use of the music to White Light via all available distribution channels -- including but not limited to internet, overseas, DVD, Video, Cable, Satellite, etc etc. .. We then won't be able to change our minds (and again, why would we want to / need to anyway?) because we are contractually bound to that agreement. But we can't just give away the fruits of our labor!

I checked, and 2 other movies that I can think of that do this kind of thing (where a band / artist writes most of the music) -- the Graduate with Simon and Garfunkel, and Harold and Maude with Cat Stevens, still have the artist or their publishing company still holding the rights to their songs -- NOT the movie production company. So, just like our buddies Paul, Art and Cat, we will have to hold out for the same thing.

At this point I think that we're going to have to try to just rewrite their contract, and that's what we'll sign. I've asked for her to rewrite it a couple of times, and nothing really changes. Still "work for hire," still the copyright belongs to them.

Yes, we might miss out on the opportunity, but we can't risk getting burnt. And in reality, it probably isn't that huge of an opportunity. I doubt it's going to get wide release, and it likely won't get that much exposure, in the grand scheme of things.

Thanks to Steve from Jealousy Curve and Josh from Boysetsfire (who both gave good advice) for looking out for us here and warning us about the dangers of contracts -- we appreciate it.

Power Meeting

Collin and I are meeting with Ha Le about our participation in White Light, the movie. Really the main reason we want to be in it is so we can talk to Patrick Swayze about his Saturday Night Live skit with Chris Farley. . .

As it stands now, Ha Le wants us to do the background music, 3 songs with lyrics, and appear in an 8 minute party scene. It sounds very worth our while. I talked to her last week, and she was very complimentary about our music, saying that she was sure that it would make the movie much better. Very flattering. She said, "When you're big rock stars you have to remember me." Maybe she doesn't realize that we're already big rock stars? :-)

We talk about the arrangement on the phone, and agree that we (the Look Machine) get paid $1 (a standard payday for us, honestly), and we retain all the rights to our songs, just license them to her for use in the film. And if there is a soundtrack, we get 50% of the profits. This sounds ok to me, so I tell her to send me the contract.

She sends me a contract -- and good thing I read it because it said that they pay us $1 and then all the music belongs to White Light Productions. . . what??? I write back to her and say that as much as we want to be a part of the project, we can't sign away the rights to our music for $1. (I don't think we'd want to do that for any amount of money at this time. . .)

She writes back and says that this was something her lawyer just wanted to add in, and that is ok. But the 50/50 profit split on the soundtrack is essential. We're fine with that. So now we're meeting to more fully discuss our participation.

I will be sure to read whatever she asks us to sign. It still all seems too surreal, so I wouldn't be suprised if it all fell apart. But I guess we'll see.

She kind of wants us to write new music specifically inspired by the script. We can do that, and could be fun.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Thanks

Hey, we had a really good time at the show last night. It was a blast to play with Shane and Jealousy Curve, Pat did a great job setting up the sound system and mixing for us, and David's cousin Jared drove all of our equipment way down to middletown in his truck then bought us all dinner (he was promoted to #1 fan for that). So thanks, all you guys, we really appreciate it. Also, thank all of you for coming out and listening to us play! It's great to know that so many people like our music and will drive thousands of miles to lower-slower Delaware to support us. You're all awesome and we'll remember each and every one of you when we're millionaire rock stars.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

My clever co-worker

My co-workers like to stalk me through the weblog and send me strangely familiar emails that show that they've been reading what I write. This one is completely hilarious -- she took my captions to my photos from England, and arranged them to have. . . let's just say a different meaning then intended.

Honestly, if I ever "make it" in any capacity where I have enough money to put together a group of people who work on something, there are about 5-10 people from my job who I'd hire in a heartbeat.

I know it's cliche, but I really did laugh out loud when I read this:

It's so beautiful. The people are nice. We climbed on top of one of them and the wind was incredibly strong up there and we got a little frightened

The wedding we attended was in a cathedral built in 1200 AD. There are wild horses and ponies that roam freely, and sheep and goats as well. It's an amazing place.

Our faces look like faces of children, free of the second thoughts, the doubts, the concerns, the ulterior motives, the distractions that adults so often suffer. . . we never claimed to be mountainmen. Darby and I sang "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "And I love her" during the ceremony, Oh man it hurt. I got very sick and had a terrible attitude as well.

Since generally the populace was illiterate back when the cathedrals were built, much of the gospel and truths of the scriptures are pictorially displayed in the stained glass windows and throughout the sanctuary. Nobody that I asked knew when they were built nor who built them. One woman guessed "farmers," "a long time ago."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Boy Sets Fire WILL NOT be playing with us this Friday

Though we've been working very hard to make it happen, unfortunately BSF will not be playing with us this Friday. And it's not because of the Everett's squeamishness about loud music either, we overcame that. It's that they'll be in NYC mixing some of their new material with their A&R rep. We were very close though. And we WILL schedule something in the area with them shortly.

Just wanted to tell everyone because I knew that rumors were spreading and I didn't want to get booed because it was just the Look Machine.

Actually, and Jealousy Curve will be playing with us as well. And Shane Palkovitz. See you there.

Hitch-hiking with the Amish

My brother shane and I have a tradition. We are both still unmarried, but last year we went on a couple of really fun bachelor parties. We figured that since we are still bachelors we may as well have our own "bachelor parties" every year. Basically that means that we go on some kind of random and unplanned camping trip which usually turns into an adventure.

There is an old rail-road track that crosses the road near by my house. I've always been fascinated by it! It feels kind of mysterious and histlrical, and it has a pretty special place in my heart, which is a story for another time. I have always wondered where the tracks go, so this year for our party shane and I threw some camping equipment, plenty of food (yes, the incredible raman noodles) into some backpacks, and started hiking. The plan was to hike as far as possilbe the first day, find a farmers field to sleep in, then see how far we could get the next day.

The appealing thing about train tracks is that they go to places you would never get to see otherwise. They tend to go behind everything you would drive in front of, through peoples back yards, inbetween farmers fields, and behind rows of shabby section 8 homes. It's a cool perspective, seeing what is behind the false fronts that everybody hides behind. You see all of the garbage and graphiti, the dumps and the abandoned shacks. You also get to see the incredible places that people haven't touched yet. Streams that wind through undeveloped woods, forests that have never been cut. The train runs through the unseen places in America, dark secrets, and beautiful discoveries.

Another cool thing about backpacking down the tracks is that it reminds me of the movie Stand By Me, and it's cool to feel like a kid, exploring a world that is fresh and exciting.

So, I was pretty excited about this trip, and it was really fun. We hiked about 12 miles west of where we started, through woods and fields, through a ghetto that I never knew existed in oxford, throught rural Notingham, when suddenly the track ended. So here we were at 4 pm. Sitting on the tracks behind a potato chip factory with nowhere left to go. We decided to try to make a call and get picked up and go camping somewhere else, but we had to hike down the roads to an easy spot to get picked up. We were kind of tired when along came this Amish dude (I hope it's ok to call an Amish gentleman a dude) driving a plow. Shane yells out, "Hello, can we ride with you?" And he shook his head, smiled and kept on driving. Great, we were unsuccessful hoboes and hitch hikers. Even the Amish wouldn't pick us up!

I never thought that I would envy an Amish person driving their little wagons down a busy street, I never knew that Oxford had a ghetto, I never knew that I could make a killer pot of spaghetti on a railroad track. I guess I learned a lot of things.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Not easy being Green?

I have been thinking recently about the upcoming election. I know that lots and lots of people feel torn about who they are going to vote for, and at the current time, that is pretty understandable. Wars, taxes, security, environmental concerns, gay rights... there are so many issues in the spotlight right now that it seems impossible for one person to do a good job at addressing all of them. I have been thinking of an alternative.

This might sound crazy, but I may vote green party this year (my hair gets me in trouble again). It is not that I want Nader to be president (in fact, I wouldn't want that at all). All I want is for there to be a third nationally funded political party in future elections. The fact is that if a party ever gets 5% of the raw vote, then their party's campaign will get federal fundinng the next time around. Federal funding would allow a party to be a viable option in a national election. I am so tired of having only two options when it comes to politics. I think that a new political party would force the two existing (and dated) political parties to re-adjust some of their stances on issues. In many cases, there are 2 sides to a situation, Democrat or Republican. A third opinion would not only bring new aspects of old issues to the light, but they may also address things that are currently glossed over in politics.

I have not fully decided yet, but I am leaning in the direction of voting green. Last election they missed their 5 percent cutoff by literally a few thousand votes. They were SO close. All it would take is a few more votes to bring a third player to the stage in a whole new way. It is something to think about anyway.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Me from a while ago

I'm giving away my PC computer that I've had for. . . I think 7 years (I need to free up the desk for my photography equipment). It's the computer that got me through college, and there are a whole lot of old "Works" files on it.

"Works" is the word processing software I used to use, but it's not compatible with any word processing files on my Mac. So, I've spent the last couple of days opening every single one of them and then saving them as Word files. It's taken awhile, but I don't want to lose all of the files, you know?

It's actually been a very strange experience. Having been out of school for a while, I've been working "in the real world," or whatever you want to call a large corporation. And now reading the papers that I wrote for my philosophy classes, my history classes, all of my classes. . . man I feel like in many ways I was just smarter back then.

Of course I know part of it is the same phenomena that I experience when looking at pictures of myself. . . I tend to like the ones that are from a while ago more than recent ones -- because I've had the time and seperation to be more objective about them, and thus appreciate them more objectively. Since in many ways I'd forgotten even writing these essays, stories, skits, etc , I could read them as if I were another person. And some of it was pretty cool, because I was honestly somewhat impressed by myself (I'm not bragging, just honestly describing what I experienced) -- kind of thinking, "Wow, I Wrote that?"

Anyway, all this to say that it's just been weird and unsettling. I've kind of had to fight off this sense of loss, like I've dulled myself by working in a corporation, deadened something bright and alive that once lived inside of me. But I know that I have to step back and attempt not to overdramatize things -- I know who I was when I wrote this stuff, and I was the same guy. I think it's just that I've not been especially challenged in the same way. I mean actually I have been challenged -- but it's by database schemas, marketing strategies, demographics. . . yawn. Right, nothing really worth reading years later. .. (Although I have to add that I don't regret a second I've spent there. I've learned lessons that will serve me well for the rest of my life, making me much more complete than if I hadn't done this. . .)

My termination date is 9/3. I have to say that when I first saw that on a sheet of paper, I felt somewhat sad. It's just so final. I've gotten a lot of success at my job, made a lot of friends. But sifting through my thoughts put down on paper in college, I've no doubt that I'm making the right decision leaving. This period of my life was fruitfull in many unimaginable ways, but I need to be challenged again. I'm looking forward to going back to school, to developing my passion for music, photography, drama and film. . . to working on my graphic design skills.

It's like I'm answering this charge that I wrote in my senior year of college:
I refuse to believe that our best days are ever behind us, but I know that for some they are. I refuse to believe that some can waste their dreams away, but I know that some do. I refuse to believe that young people with dreams somehow turn into middle and old-aged people with nothing but memories, but I know that many do.

Will you dream? Should I?

Can you still lasso the moon? Do you even still want to? Are you working towards it?
Maybe the elves can teach you how to make those fine shoes yourself next time they visit. Perhaps they will show me as well.

I do not want to end up being someone who has done a so-so job raising children, been adequate as a husband, earned some money, and now derives no greater pleasure or meaning from life than what can be found in the next episode of Jeopardy. I am working to avoid falling into this. . . What are you doing to prevent it?

"Tough and Smart"

I just saw an advertisement for John Kerry where he wisely says:
To win the war on terror, we must be tough and smart

Oh wow -- THAT's all we need to do? Why hasn't he shared this earlier, this is THE KEY? Tough. . .AND Smart? Of course that's the secret formula. And here we all thought you were supposed to be weak and stupid.

Oh wait. . . but what does that mean? He kind of elucidates on it a bit saying (working from memory here):

We must rebuild the alliances that have been broken so we can find the terrorists before they attack

And then he says something about building firehouses in Baghdad but not in America (what in the world does that have to do with terrorism?) and then proudly declares that he approved this message.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he was a little jetlagged when he approved this message. What is the message? Think it through, Mr. Kerry, it makes no sense. The tough and smart solution is no solution at all -- just fluffy rhetoric.

When you do give specifics, you talk about rebuilding international relations -- presumably the Russian, French, and German ones that were damaged by Bush's march to war in Iraq. But wait. . . we had those alliances undamaged prior to the 9/11 attacks, right? Did they help us avoid that massive loss of life? No. . . So clearly having those alliances can't be the ONLY solution to the terror problem. Yet for some reason it's the one specific that you mention. (Incidently -- it was our alliance with Russia that provided our intelligence community with a tip that Saddam and Iraq were planning terror attacks on US soil. . .)

I still can't believe that the democrats couldn't come up with a better candidate. . .

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Let's Rock

Well we had a good long practice last night. We've been a bit scattered all around the world recently, so it felt good to all be back together and playing music. I gotta say, we sounded surprisingly good! I can't wait to play this show at the Everett, to do some more work in the studio, and to become movie stars. Things are really looking up for the machine!

We have a plan for getting shows this coming year. We're planning on setting aside every other weekend, and booking as many shows as possible for those times. We'll be working on shows pretty far in advance and trying to keep a full schedule. Is there anywhere specific any of you would like to see a Look Machine show?

July 16th at 7PM

We sent this to our email distribution, but doesn't hurt to post it again:
Salutations to all of our numerous masses of fans!

Perhaps you’ve already heard, if you haven’t then this is your official notice. We’re playing a show at the historic Everett Theatre in Middletown, DE on July 16th. (If you’ve seen Dead Poets Society, it’s where the Shakespeare scenes were filmed). It’s an incredible venue and we’re fortunate to be playing there. Should be an excellent evening.

Doors open at 7 PM. We’ll have some other acts playing with us, once they are finalized we’ll let you know who they are.

PLEASE attend and bring 2 of your best friends, 2 of your good friends, 3 of your casual acquaintances, 2 enemies, and 4 complete strangers. PLEASE. Not for us, but for you. Really. . . OK, for us.

If you’d like to help promote the show, print this out: flier is here

Monday, July 05, 2004

Update on White Light, the movie

It's confirmed that we'll have 2 songs in the movie White Light. One playing on the radio before a car accident, and the other at the end in the last scene and the credits rolling, when a main character dies. Additionally, there is a teen party scene and the rock band playing the party might be none of than. . . yes you guessed it, the Look Machine. Isn't that funny?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Veritas et Venustas

A very distinguished architect named John happened upon my photos of England and left a great comment about England and its attitude towards suburban sprawl. In another life I think I would love to be an architect because beautiful buildings and spaces spark this deep yearning inside of me that I can't quite explain.

His site is very interesting -- his blog is here and thought provoking, and wow I feel honored to have such a obviously bright person appreciating my pictures. I'm a pretty confident person, but this counts as some nice validation. I love the internet, because it makes such previously impossible connections common.

I wanted to see more of his work, and I found his professional site -- Massengale.com, and he is in my opinion outstanding. I've often wondered why in the world new contruction has to be so seemingly random and spread apart and impersonal -- why can't we build villages and towns that look like communities, that have nice rows of grand houses, where people can walk to the stores, the parks, the events, their neighbors. Why don't they build towns like Williamsburg and Strasburg, PA, and the towns that you see in Europe. The very cool thing about John's work is that this is exactly what it appears that he does! So then you have many more people living per mile in a quaint beautiful town, and the countryside can be preserved as well. It makes so much sense to me.

I was told by some of the English people (I haven't verified the stats), that in populated areas England has 200 people per square mile, while the US has 6. These particular people said that they lived in a flat and had no real yard. I asked them if they would want one, and they said of course they would, but if they and all 60 million people living in England had a yard then they'd lose the unspoiled countryside that they love. I'm not bashing America at all, but I just don't see this being the attitude of Americans, and I think that's our definite loss.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

England Pt. 1

I visited England with my parents 10 years ago and pretty much, with some exceptions, hated it. I got very sick and had a terrible attitude as well. So honestly, while I was looking forward to going there again, I had low expectations.

I now am totally in love with England. I want to go back. It's so beautiful. The people are nice.

Everything is way too expensive, that is the only downside (oh, and for some reason the teeth really are in very bad disrepair, and they don't give you much water to drink for your meals either, and their roads are way too thin, and their radio choices are terrible. . .) But truly, they are a people who protect and conserve the natural beauty that God has blessed them with. We drove 5 hours from London to Devon and all we saw was green and then the ocassional village. No suburban sprawl, no new construction spreading into the woods and fields. As Darby said, "It makes you feel better about the world knowing that places like this exist." It's like the Shire or something.

Since I don't want to overwhelm the log, I'll post the Devon pictures first, and the Cornwall pictures at a later date.


Landscape of Dartmoor. Dartmoor is an incredible protected area in Devon that is all sweeping hills (called Moors) and rock formations (called Tors). There are wild horses and ponies that roam freely, and sheep and goats as well. It's an amazing place.

An example of the numerous Tors. These are not manmade. Can you believe that? We climbed on top of one of them and the wind was incredibly strong up there and we got a little frightened (we never claimed to be mountainmen). We heard that on top of the highest Tor in Dartmoor there is built a stone church. We didn't have time to find that, but it's on our list of things to find when we return.

Sheep at Dartmoor

More Dartmoor. The sky was constantly changing. All of the Dartmoor pictures were taken in the space of about 2 hours, and I didn't adjust the colors -- the sky was just always changing colors and clouds and looks.

Stone is so prevelant that it's no wonder that all the houses are made of it.

The areas are seperated by the nicest stone walls. Nobody that I asked knew when they were built nor who built them. One woman guessed "farmers," "a long time ago."

I mentioned the wild horses, and you can see them silhoutted here on top of the hill. I ran up this hill for a while without thinking things through and my legs were torn up by some plants, like stinging nettles but worse. Oh man it hurt.

Another picture of Dartmoor's landscape.

Proof that Dartmoor made us happy. I think this is an interesting picture, because our faces look like faces of children, free of the second thoughts, the doubts, the concerns, the ulterior motives, the distractions that adults so often suffer. . .

The wedding we attended was in a cathedral built in 1200 AD. I particularly like some of the gravestones and thought that Sacred described the setting perfectly. Darby and I sang "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "And I love her" during the ceremony, which was quite an honor. Singing a Beatles song in a 13th Century Cathedral in England. . . kind of surreal.

Since generally the populace was illiterate back when the cathedrals were built, much of the gospel and truths of the scriptures are pictorially displayed in the stained glass windows and throughout the sanctuary.

I found Ian's kindred spirit! He made much more than $7 though. . . he's a better panhandler.

More sheep. It's funny, because Darby and I did a horrible job of planning for this trip (hadn't even booked anywhere to stay or decided where we were going until 1 week prior), and yet everything worked out perfectly. Whenever I would ask Darby where she wanted to stay in England and what she wanted to see, she said, "I want to see peaceful hills with lots of sheep." We saw that for sure.

the Look Machine on a soundtrack?

Got an email from NHU-HA LE, a female writer/director:
I'm a writer/producer for a feature tilm entitled White Light. I'm looking for local artist who like you to provide music to my film.
Please see http://nhuhale.bravehost.com
Regards,
Nhu Ha Le


I think it would be very cool to be on a soundtrack. I LOVE well done movie soundtracks, and love the idea of one of our songs being used in a movie (which is another dream of mine, making movies).

This movie White Light sounds pretty interesting:
White Light is a paranormal drama. The story asks the ultimate question, what if a struggling man adopts a special child with paranormal abilities beyond his imagination.


The site says it's starring Patrick Swayze??? Well, certainly Ghost did a lot for the song Unchained Melody. One can hope!

Photography

So I'm working full time right now doing construction. I'm having a really fun time and I'm working with some really cool guys. One of those guys, Brett Webber (name kept to destroy privacy) is an outstanding artist. He's majoring in photography and art at the University of Delaware right now, and he can take a mean picture. Anyway, he wants to take pictures for us, for free. He needs experience to build up a resume and we need some new pictures. It sounds like it could work out well!

Good Boy Billy

I have been a Smashing Pumpkins fan since the days of Gish and Pisces Iscariot. I loved all of their more popular albums that followed after that and I loved the solo stuff that Billy Corgan put out (he had a great acoustic import).

I was a fan for several reasons. I think that the Pumpkins have extraordinary talents in their ability to play their instruments and in their writing (every transition they make in their songs just seems to be perfect). Bily Corgan is also a great lyricist. He is so honest and so poetic. He is very philosophical yet very tangible. You can watch the journey of his life over the years in his lyrics. Often, he is very angry at God, and often, he has a lot of questions, but always, he knows that God exists. There were a couple of years in my life that I was angry and searching, and I found solace in his music.

When I was a young teenager, I caught a lot of flac from other Christians for listening to the music that I did. A lot of people told me that I should only listen to "Christian Music." I always disagreed with that because I am of the opinion that the only thing that separates Christian and secular music is that... well "Christian music" was written by a Christian. I have never seen that as a good reason to avoid secular music. I think that everyone who is creating something is acting out of their God given ability that we weere all given when we were created in his image. Besides, there is lots of "Christian" music that is very angry, rebelious, and not in any way more moral than secular music. I remember that several people really got on my case about the Smashing Pumpkins in particular. I always said that they were not bad... they were just looking for the truth exactly like me. I felt that they were inspiring because they cared enough to search, strive, and even be angry. This appealed to me because it seemed real, not like they were just doing what they thought they should.

So, back to Bily. I have always loved his music and really felt like it is full of truth and sincerity. He recently became a christian and strarted playing music that is openly about God and about God's love. His recent Band Zwan (they are good, but not like the pumpkins) is very forthright about their belief in Jesus. Billy Corgan is also featured in a song on the new Blindside album (which is an amazing record from start to finish). And you know what is the coolest part? It is still real. In his same Bily Corgan way, he will write whatever he wants and not try to kiss up. He seems to have found the truth he always knew was out there, but you can tell that he found it by searching for it.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Return of the Filthy Mittens

I'm back from England and I'll post about that later, have lots to catch up on right now. But I did just get a email that was pretty darn funny, from James of The Filthy Mittens.
I did a google search my band name and found your page on us.
Was my review that bad?? I liked the guitars :) Pretty funny stuff
Can we start a rivalry sort of like the Beatles vs The Stones? Or Backstreet vs Nsync?
Good Luck on the recording, I listened to the other songs on your site and it is sounding
pretty good.

Take it sleazy