That Eye Sore Is A Real Eye Sore

October 29th, 2008 |

Is that a stye in your eye or are you just glad I punched you?

I woke up this morning with my eye pasted completely shut. I thought that my eye had caught the plague or something.

It turns out I have the stye that ate Manhattan and it’s working its way towards my brain. Now, I’ve had a stye before but nothing like this. This is the size of a giant zit and it’s inside my upper eye lid and pushing against my eye ball. It’s like having a puss factory in my face. I just thought I’d share.

It makes me look a little like Thom York. Maybe that’s cool.

Times Have Changed

October 27th, 2008 |

At band practice last Saturday it struck me how different it is to be in a band now than it was when I first started playing in bands.

We used to worry about the neighbors calling the cops because of all the noise. Now we rehearse in a sound-proof studio where not even the people upstairs can hear us.

We used to record practice to a cassette on a jam box. Now we record practice on a hand-held digital recorder.

We used to argue over who got to take the practice tape home to listen to it. Now we transfer the wav files to a thumb drive and take them home with us.

I used to make demos on a 4-track and hand them out to my band mates. Now I record them in 24-bit and upload them to my server for my band mates to download.

I used to write songs about the act of making babies. Now I write songs about how our babies grow up so fast.

I used to write songs mocking Christianity. Now I write songs of remorse over my own sinfulness.

It used to bother me that nobody in the band had awesome, flowing hair like mine. Now I think it’s cool that I have a buzz cut and there is somebody in the band that still has less hair than me.

Addendum

Right after I posted this I went and read my brother’s blog post from today. You must read it. It’s hilarious.

My Weight Loss So Far

October 22nd, 2008 |

Three weeks ago I mentioned that I was participating in a weight loss challenge sort of thing with a bunch of folks from work. The thing goes for twenty-one weeks. My goal was to lose two pounds a week for twenty-one weeks.

Today was the day to turn in our results for the first three weeks. I haven’t been weighing myself as I go because that’s too frustrating for me. But this morning I had to turn in my numbers so I had no choice. I was pretty nervous because if it turned out that I hadn’t met my goal (six pounds) I was going to be rather furious. Well, I have good news. I’ve lost 9.5 pounds so far and my exercise total was 914 minutes. Woot! At this rate I should be gaunt and sickly in no time at all.

I decided not to do any sort of designer or name-brand type of diet. Those definitely work but what I really needed was a change in lifestyle that I could stick to indefinitely. So I’ve just been eating a bunch of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. I’ve also been walking and lifting weights quite a lot. It’s working so far.

Last night as Angel and I were headed to bed I peeked in Riley’s room to make sure he was still breathing and all that. Here’s what I found.

He is sound asleep. That kid is the most sound sleeper I’ve ever seen.

When I got up this morning I found them like this.

That’s a little more like it.

What Kind of Software Did Mozart Use for This?

October 20th, 2008 |

Hey, I almost forgot, I’ve got a blog. Weird. Have you been here the whole time? You could have knocked Carl.

I’ve been working non-stop on this orchestral piece I’ve written. There’s always a race to finish a song before you start to hate it. I’ve lost the race.

When I first recorded the demo for this thing I knew that it would take a very long time to finish. But I figured that would be fine, I don’t really have anywhere I have to be this year so I’ll just mess with it a little bit at a time and it will eventually get done.

The whole “a little bit at a time” thing doesn’t really work for me. I’m more of an “until Angel stops taking your calls” kind of guy.

With a song like this the sheer volume of it can be intimidating. I try to make myself sit down at the computer, decide on two or three problems to fix, fix them, and then stop with a sense of accomplishment. What usually happens is I sit down at the computer, identify 348 problems that I hadn’t identified the last time I sat down, try to fix all of them all at once, realize I haven’t eaten, realize I have to be at work in five hours, and go to bed frustrated.

So I’m taking a break to “get some perspective” as J. Christopher Hughes always says.

This reminds me of an interview I read many years ago. The interview was with an audio engineer/producer who was working with Eric Johnson on his Venus Isle album. Eric Johnson is known to be a perfectionist to a crippling degree. The engineer said that there was this one lick that Eric kept playing over and over and over trying to get it just so. The engineer (geez I should just look the guy up) decided that he would show Eric how to run the equipment so Eric could work on this lick to his heart’s content without the guy having to be there for the whole thing. So the guy told Eric basically “I’ve got a few Jazz albums I need to go record this weekend. I’ll be back on Monday.” He said that when he returned on Monday Eric was still working on that same lick.

I got to open for Eric a few years ago at The Pageant. Steve Nowles and I did a short acoustic set. I was scared out of my ever loving mind. Playing the guitar in front of a couple thousand guys who play guitar is not my idea of a good time. To make matters even worse, we decided to play Van Halen’s “Take Your Whiskey Home.”

Playing an Eddie Van Halen guitar part while singing a David Lee Roth vocal at the same time in front of a packed house packed with guitar players, 90% of which can play circles around you, is really more than a guy should ever ask of himself. We pulled it off though. The response was great.

But that’s not the point really. The point is that I’ve never seen anybody do a more ridiculously, painfully, exhaustively thorough sound check in my entire life.

He would say stuff like this: “I need you to cut 2dB at 1.5K in the top side-fill monitor stage right.” Then he’d play every blazing minor pentatonic lick in the book. Then he’d say “I need you to boost 4K on the second rack tom 2.5 dB and bring it down .5 dB in my second from the left floor wedge.” Then more pentatonics. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This went on for what seemed like hours. Then about five minutes before the doors opened Steve and I got our sound-check. It went something like this: soundman – “I need you guys to play like half of a verse of a song.” Which we did. Then he said something like “OK we’re good, thanks.”

Oh the life of a TBA.

The Happening

October 17th, 2008 |

Realizing that most of my readers only hang around for the delicious recipes and insightful movie reviews I will now continue with my blistering pace of one movie review a year.

But first, a delicious recipe. The secret sauce on Steak-n-Shake’s Frisco Melts is one part 1,000 Island dressing and one part French dressing. You’re welcome.

Back to the movies. Angel and I just watched the worst movie ever made. The highest degree of hyperbole cannot over-state the vastness of horridity that is The Happening.

Angel and I kept pausing the movie to discuss whether or not it was a spoof or some kind of homage to Ed Wood. Maybe it’s a genre film? A tribute film? Does anyone do tributes to some genre where nobody knows how to act or write or direct? Is this a comedy?

This is a horror film. Wait, let me re-punctuate that. This is a horror film? What kind of horror film has you laughing hysterically through the whole thing and a gag real that doesn’t even elicit one single chuckle?

We even watched the special features to see if M. Night spoke about the kitschy B movies he was trying to emulate. He was trying to emulate those right? ‘Cause he flippin’ nailed it…hard! All he talked about in the special features was how dark this movie was and how they were really trying to go for a “hard R” rating. The only reason this got an R rating was because it was so incredibly offensive to our sense of taste. Any person with opposable thumbs should be outraged.

Go rent it now. Witness the spectacle.

Mark Wahlberg was the lead in this movie and I want to use him as a segway into this next thing. 

[segway] Mark Wahlberg [segway]

There are a few SNL-isms that have made their way into my home and vocabulary. The “Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals” skit was one of those skits that make you laugh the first time you see them and the more you see them the funnier they are. This skit has added “Now I’m gonna talk to a goat” to my arsenal of one-liners that nobody thinks are funny but me. SNL fans will also understand why “I said we” is another one I try to use as often as possible.

Happy Birthday Lilly

October 14th, 2008 |

Lilly turned one year old today. For her birthday I gave her a piece of my broccoli from dinner and let her lick my feet.

A few nights ago after Riley went to bed Angel and I decided to give Lilly an early birthday party by tormenting her with socks.

 

Tonight while I was downstairs working on a new tune (you can hear it in the background if you listen closely) Angel shot some video of Lilly fighting with herself and eating her foot. We’re so proud to have such a smart dog.

Riley got a new haircut this past weekend. Over the past few months he had developed an insanely persistent habit of twirling his hair. I mean all the time. Both hands on top of his head all day long, every day. We’ve tried various methods to get him to stop but the one that he finally agreed to was to get a haircut like his buddy Nicolas. Of course it’s the same haircut that I have but looking like dear old dad just didn’t seem to appeal to him quite like looking like Nicolas.

The Atheist Debate

October 13th, 2008 |

I watch a lot of videos on You Tube about atheism. I’ve watched hours of interviews with and lectures by the most brilliant atheists around, such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins.  I’ve also watched hours of videos posted by random You Tube atheists decrying Christianity. I know a lot more about evolution and Darwin’s theory than most average white males because I’ve studied it quite a lot. If there’s is a show on T.V. about the origins of the earth I always watch it. I regularly read the blogs of at least two atheists.

I am really trying to do my part. The vast majority of Christians don’t really take an interest in atheists. I do. I want to know what their arguments against religion are. And not just the arguments that most Christians are aware of, I’m talking about the hard questions that atheists raise. I want to know what those are. In fact, I do know what they are because I’ve searched them out.

One phrase I come across a lot is “Fundamentalist Christian biblical literalist.” In layman’s terms this means “People who blow up abortion clinics.” In fact, “fundamentalist” anything means you blow stuff up.

A couple of months ago I heard a caller on NPR say that John Hagee (I am not defending John Hagee in any way, shape or form. That man falls way on the opposite side of the theological map from me) views the end times the way he does because he believes a literal interpretation of the book of Revelation. This made me laugh. There is not one Christian on the planet who believes that all of Revelation is to be read literally. Have you read Revelation? Revelation is written in a highly stylized fashion. Does anyone really think that Jesus was literally standing at the door and knocking in Revelation 3:20? Nope. Not to mention all the beasts with horns and stuff.

Does anyone really think that God literally made David lie down in green pastures in Psalm 23? Nope. Does anyone really believe that God literally breathed fire out of His nose? Nope. Does anyone really believe that Jesus is literally a gate? Nope. No Christian believes that every single word of the Bible is meant to be taken literally.

When I write a song about going to Memphis does that song literally mean that I’m going to Memphis? Did I record the vocal in the car on the way there? How many takes was it before I got the keeper?

However, when I write a blog post that says I went to the zoo with my family does that mean that I literally went to the zoo with my family? Yes it does.

The key is knowing the difference between when I’m writing lyrics with an underlying meaning and when I’m giving an actual account of real events.

By the way, I think I’ve mentioned this before, I do believe all the fantastical accounts in the Bible of the parting of the Red Sea, and the story of Jonah, and the story of the flood, and all of Christ’s miracles, and all the stuff that seems so unbelievable. I’m not saying that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally. It is. But not all of it. And I think that to many Christians it is obvious when it is and when it is not to be taken as historical and future fact.

Back to the atheists. I’ve seen many debates between believers and the aforementioned brilliant atheists. The one thing that always bothers me is that the guys debating on the side of Christianity never seem to have their theology in order. They often have their philosophical, historical, and existential rhetoric down pat but their theology seems shaky. They never seem to be able to deal with the charges leveled against the Old Testament.

The magic sword in the hands of the atheists always seems to be the book of Leviticus. Why can’t the Christian debater ever tackle this issue head on? It seems like if you have a solid grasp on the entire scope of redemptive history you should be able to knock this one out of the park.

The atheist debaters always seem to be able to put the Christians on their heals when they ask how a God who is loving, merciful, righteous, and holy would ever command the severe punishments for sin He commanded to the Israelites.

For a theologian these are not all that hard to answer. Why don’t the debaters take on this question from a theological perspective? Certainly it’s not going to change the atheist’s mind but at least answer the question biblically.

I’ve heard many non-believers say that Christians claim that God is tolerant. Then they say, “If God is so tolerant why would He…” fill in the blank with whatever a tolerant God should allow. Here’s the answer. God is not tolerant. Not at all. Christians who say that God is tolerant are wrong.

Another one goes something like this, “If God is a of God love then why…?” Here is the answer: God is a God of love and mercy and all of that but He is also a God of incredible wrath and judgement.

The Leviticus issue usually goes like this: “How can you say that God is righteous when He commanded the Israelites to punish sin and unbelief with such ferocity?” Here is the answer. Actually, this hasn’t been the answer (or anything even resembling it) in the debates I’ve seen but it should be at least close to this. God is holy. Holy beyond anything we can comprehend. And we should see from the incredible fierceness of the punishments He demands that the sins we see as trivial are deserving of the most brutal punishment imaginable. If we don’t see sin as flying in the face of a holy God then stoning probably seems barbaric. But when we start to understand God’s holiness then we see why sin deserves death.

Has the world ever seen a more brutal punishment of sin than Calvary? Nope. Nor will we ever.

Is this going to ease the way atheists look at our God? Nope. That’s not the point. I just think that the debaters should have a theologically sound answer to the question.

That is my criticism of the Christian debaters. Here is my criticism of the atheist debaters. Explaining the origins and evolution of human morality while ridiculing and mocking billions of religious people is probably not the best defense of your morality.

Recordings Page – New!!!

October 11th, 2008 |

It has become apparent to me over the past year that it is not an easy task to find all of my recordings. They are spread out over four years of blog posts and on two different sites. So I’ve created a “Recordings” page where you can find everything in one spot.

If you look all the way up at the very top of my blog you’ll find a link named “Recordings“. Just click that and you find a long list of songs and whatnots from the past twelve years or so. I’ve got them roughly categorized and even roughly-er placed in chronological order.

This is by no means an exhaustive listing of absolutely everything, but pretty much everything I think you might be remotely interested in is there.

One thing that is available for the first time is the wav file versions of all the songs from The Drew Johnson Band’s album “Invention of the Wheel.” Those CDs are very hard to find these days so I thought I’d at least put the files where they can be found in digital format.

That page probably took me eight hours to complete. If I had know how much work it was going to be I might have never tackled it. I’ve checked all the links and the spelling and I think everything works right. If you find any broken links or if there’s anything missing that you’d like me to add just email me through my Contact page.

Derek Webb

October 9th, 2008 |

I recently had an email conversation with a friend of mine who was claiming that the majority of Christian music is basically garbage. In my very best attempt to rebut his outlandish statement I said “You’re absolutely right.”

I’ve said this before but I think it bears repeating, the vast majority of all music is basically garbage. So in fairness to the Contemporary Christian Music scene I really wouldn’t expect them to be much different. I would, in fact, expect them to be very much different. But they’re not.

However, there are some Christian artists that truly rise above the fluff. Derek Webb is one of them.

My cousin Bryan turned me on to him a while back and the guy is the real deal for sure.

Here is one of my favorite songs by him. Someday I’ll learn to write songs with only five notes in the melody and make them compelling like this.

The video is kind of silly so close your eyes and just listen to the tune.

The Lyrics Notebook

October 8th, 2008 |

Today I started working on the lyrics for the next new tune in line. I opened up my lyrics notebook and started looking through it for any interesting ideas. On the very first page I found some notes I made to myself. The page was dated 3/12/08. At the top of the page was this:

I Have Walked On The Moon is shaping up poorly.

My Dancing Days, Sin No More, Going To Memphis, and Falling For Me are finished and sound absolutely nothing alike. I need to start over with fresh ideas.

I Have Walked On The Moon was the working title for my solo record. I still completely agree with what I said. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with that mess any more.

There were a bunch of bullet points on that same page. Here are a few of them.

– New beats.

– Don’t try to make blues music.

– Learn how to combine The Beatles with Alt-Country and Soul music.

– Don’t keep working on songs that don’t really excite you.

There were many more that I should probably keep to myself.

At the bottom of that page there was one lyrical line that I really liked. As luck would have it that line fits perfectly into the chorus of the song I was starting to work on. Sweet.

Angel’s blog post from today is exceptionally funny. Go read it.