Friday, January 22, 2010

Conan lost me

I have always really loved his show, and I think it's terrible that he's gotten the wrong end of the stick when it comes to the Tonight Show. But rather than take the lumps (and the buyout) over to a different network in the fall, he turned his last week of the Tonight Show into a "stick it to NBC as hard as humanly possible" show. 

I certainly don't know how it would feel to be in his position, to have your dream job stripped from you after only a few months, and I imagine his anger is justifiable (especially when he's lost the rights to so many of his character creations). But he lost my sympathy with the way he's making his exit. 

I should also say that I'm sure he doesn't need my sympathy.

Watching him blow $1.5 million just to jab at NBC doesn't change my feelings of hope that Conan will find success with whatever network he lands on in the fall, but it shows me that he's just as willing to hit below the belt as the network did. 

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Heaviest Decade

While brushing my teeth before bed a couple of nights ago, I had these thoughts about my life in this new decade:

During the next ten years...
... I will likely finish having children
... I will be in the prime of my health
... I will reach middle age
... I will have a new career
... I will still not be able to grow anything resembling facial hair
... I will need to make the bulk of my life's money (yikes!??)
... My life will probably not make much money (double yikes!)
... I will still want to drive an old Jeep
... I will probably drive a 2002 yellow Mazda
... The Warm Fuzzies will likely reach the finish line
... We will still probably have copies of bubblegum-scented CDs in boxes in our house
... I will still bang out songs on whatever's laying around
... I will meet new friends and build new relationships
... I will lose touch with people I care about
... I will probably move to a different home
... my children will experience those golden years of childhood
... People I love dearly will die
... I'll be ten years closer to my own death
... We'll all lose something dear to us.
... There is no guarantee I'll even survive it

I feel cursed sometimes by the fact that I rarely think about the good without the bad. I guess the opposite true as well (and is a bit more optimistic). My enthusiasm is always tempered by caution, and my caution is always warmed by the hope I have that things will turn out okay. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? All I see is "both."

But I do know I will need Jesus to be more real to me in these next ten years than in the three decades preceeding. And though I imagine I will see 2020 (no pun intended) having hurt more than ever, I also believe I will have hoped, loved, and laughed more than enough to tip the scale toward that glass being a little more filled.

To arrive at 2020 without some tragedies is impossible, but if and when I reach it, I hope to simply be ten years better.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Goodbye, Fender Twin Amp; You'll Forever Rock In My Heart

A couple of days ago I sold my beloved Fender Twin to a gentleman in one of my very favorite Athens bands, Doctor Squid. (I should also mention that my 3 year old considers them her favorite band, which means I've listened to their record nearly every day since February of last year... and it still holds up).

It needed to be done: since I bought my dream amp in late '08 (my equally beloved Mesa/Boogie Mark III), the tried-and-true Twin hadn't seen much use. And it really deserves to be played. Plus, I needed the money to put towards what I hope is some kind of future in recording things, and let's face it, money ain't exactly just laying around everywhere these days.

So allow me a brief (yet absurd) moment to tell a piece of electronic equipment thanks for all the years of rocking and rolling.

I bought the amp off eBay when I was a senior in college (waaaaaay back in '00-'01). Having lived through the suicide of my second Peavey combo, I scrounged some money and bought something with tubes. Something that weighed nearly 80 lbs. Seriously, that thing is heavy... I really needed one of those contractor harness things or at least a weightlifter's belt to avoid a hernia. 

The Twin served me well through my college band (the barely-remembered Waleska, GA Christian folk/rock five-piece Copper John) and on to California and back when we started Rebuilt Records. Every Flavor of the Week track featuring guitar was recorded with that amp, though it rarely left the house during my Alive in the Fall years. 

But when the Warm Fuzzies came calling, the Twin was first to volunteer, and the Bubblegum EP is the sound of a whole 'lot of it (as well as Davey's Pro Junior). 

I really like building history with the things I "own." I use quotations there because I don't really "own" anything for perpetuity; at some point things will pass on to someone else. I'm really coming to enjoy that. When I play my most beloved instrument, the Buddy Holly reissue Gibson J-45 my lovely wife gave me when we got married for my children as they sleep or dance around the house, I imagine that one day it will fall to them. I hope they're nicer to my instruments than I was to my father's...

Now, I know artifacts don't have souls, but just like the Velveteen Rabbit who became more real with every bump, scrape, and tear, I like to imagine that my hands are somehow shaping these instruments into a story worth passing on to my kids (and their kids and their kids).

Besides, money ain't just layin' around these days, and a few guitars may be all I've got to give them (so those stories better be good).

Farewell, Fender Twin - thanks for a decade of awesomeness.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Songs About Time, etc.

"So the songs are about time, and they're about getting on with it. Whether you like it, or think you could improve with it, you've just got to get on with it, because there's another one you've got to do. So it's just about moving forward instead of spending so much time laboring over things that may mean a great deal to me but mean nothing to anyone else. So this year has been about not getting caught up with that, and just moving on." - Matt Sharp of the Rentals

This quote is from a recent interview (, if you're interested) in which Sharp discusses the completion of the Rentals' "Songs About Time" project, one of the most expansive and riveting artistic challenges I've ever seen. For all of 2009, Sharp shot a roll of 35mm film and posted one picture a day online. Each week the band produced a short film and a musical score to accompany the film, and every four months, the band released an EP. I can't believe they pulled it off. 

One of my lasting memories from 2009 will undoubtedly be eating my lunch at my office desk and watching that weeks short film. I'll certainly miss that.

I love this quote; it resonates deeply with the part of me that makes my own music/art/whatever. 2009 was about a lot of moving on for me, which is probably why a project called "Songs About Time" captured my attention for 52 weeks. Last February, I attempted to record an album as part of the RPM Challenge ( I failed miserably. But I loved the pace; I loved that I was forced to come up with something without the benefit of thinking about how "good" it was. The challenge was to ignore the "critic" part of my mind... that annoying part that watches what I do and then pops up on my shoulder to tell me how awful it is. And while I really only finished one song, I recorded music to 10 or so, and in the months since, I've been listening to some of that music in my car in an attempt to find some vocal melodies and see what these songs are about. And when I do finish them, I don't think I'll do much editing to the tracks. I like that they are as they are, a document of sorts, of February 2009 (and whenever I record vocals, I guess). 

One of my favorite Tom Petty songs has the line, "Time to move on/ Time to get goin'/ What lies ahead I have no way of knowin'/ But under my feet, baby, grass is growin'/ It's time to move on, time to get goin'"

 Life seems to be more and more about the process. I like this. Here's to moving forward this year.

For more about the "Songs About Time" project, visit the whole thing (even all 52 films!) online here at

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It's got to go somewhere, right?

I've been trying really hard in this election season to remember the things the internet has taught us: 1. Don't read the comments...