Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Six seconds of recorded music that altered history:

I haven't seen the whole documentary, but this 20 minute clip was fascinating all by itself. I've heard this sample ALL OVER THE PLACE (most notably in my memory as part of the Ocean's 11 soundtrack).

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sam Heilig's Album Cover or Part Of What I Do For A Living

This is some of my most recent design work (you know, as in one of my handful of part-time jobs) for Sam Heilig's debut EP, Between Here & Home (produced and recorded by my good friend Paul Reeves). I'm really happy with how it turned out, and as always, my goal to try and make something that looks like the music sounds. 

So if you're wondering what Sam's music looks like, here it is. Of course, if you'd rather just know what it sounds like, he's putting up a track a week building up to his official release show here in Athens on Wednesday, Feb. 24th at Tasty World (with John French and Emily Hearn also joining the bill). I tell you all that in case you see the album cover and want to know what it sounds like, leading you to surf on over to his music page, which in turn leads you to think, "Boy, I sure wish I could see Sam play these songs live."

I'm just here to help.

I appreciate Sam trusting me with his project - it was a blast!

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Birthday Presents/Presence

Today I turned 31 years old. 

My birthdays growing up tended to feel like ordinary days, but that was because they were ordinary days generally. Unlike my friends with summer birthdays, my birthdays usually began with me standing out at the end of our driveway waiting for the bus to come pick my brother, sister, and I up for school. In my memory it was often raining, and it seems to me that the rain was generally colder on the second of February than the first or third. Then, upon arriving to school, I was inevitably greeted with jokes about seeing my shadow and stuff about groundhogs, a complex experience for me in that my birthday just happened to share the day we look to a specific variety of ground rodents to predict the weather, two things that to me seemed unrelated. But after Bill Murray made a movie about reliving the same day over and over again, and after calling that movie Groundhog Day, and after having a birthday on the actual Groundhog Day on which people said the exact same things to me over and over again made the two things seem very related.

But it wasn't so bad really. My parents always made my birthdays special, and except for the year I was sick and nearly threw up on my cake notwithstanding (the fact that I threw up right next to it didn't seem to deter anyone from eating it, by the way), I've always enjoyed kind of ordinary-but-special birthday celebrations. 

But from start to finish, today was an absolutely perfect birthday and not at all ordinary.

I awoke to find a smallish blue-eyed little girl patting me on the arm and frantically telling me "Happy Birthday," partly because she was excited and mostly because we were having breakfast in bed and she knew she couldn't eat a cinnamon roll until I was up. The whole family crowded in, and we gorged ourselves on the sweet, sweet sugary rolls until we dared not eat anymore, which is when that same smallish blue-eyed little girl felt the sugar kick in and proceeded to play tag with her mom and dad, which amounted to her running around the end of the bed from one side to the other, smacking each of us on our arms, and yelling, "Tag! You're it!" at the top of her lungs. Our baby boy watched it all, as he normally does, with a look equal parts horror, amusement, and confusion. 

After breakfast and showers, I was sent away from the house to do whatever I wanted to do for the day. Being for the moment in between graphic design projects and a day of the week I don't normally go to one of my other jobs, the world was my playground. And so I did what I tend to do on such rare occasions - I played guitar for a good long while. It was great fun spending the afternoon in our band's practice space, making racket and getting our makeshift studio ready to record an album this month. 

Right as I was finishing up the studio bit, my great friend Paul Reeves called, and we met up at Walker's to hang out for a bit before I was to return home at 6pm, under strict orders from my lovely wife. Upon arriving home, I opened the door to the aroma of beef stew and a well-dressed group of Harwells (including my five-month-old son in a Bart Scarborough-approved Polo onesie that someone gave him). I opened some sweet cards from special people and two wonderful gifts - copies of Iron & Wine's Shepherd's Dog and Nada Surf's Let Go on vinyl. Ummm... vinyl.

Then the doorbell rang, and for the next half hour or so, our tiny house filled up with nearly every one of my favorite friends here in Athens, some of whom came even though they felt a little under the weather. I was truly surprised and very much overwhelmed, kind of like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It's A Wonderful Life. Our house was very loud for a while as we ate cake and drank coffee and told ridiculous stories and tried to be funny, and it reaffirmed a thought I've been living with for a little while about how someone's presence is much better than their presents (though presents are nice, too).

I've made it through 31 years, but I don't really know how many I've got left. My mom is certainly trying to help me live longer (she got me a pedometer, some vitamins, and a bottle of fish oil pills for my birthday), but despite her best efforts, the length of my days is anyone's guess. We have some friends who have been dealing with the realness of our own mortality for years now as one has fought cancer twice and is in now in a place where the doctors are running out of options. They literally (and valiantly, I might add) are having to focus on the day while it is today for tomorrow can be something very hard to think about. Mike is an amazing man, and we are praying for a miracle.

So when I look around my tiny living room and see people who have shared their lives with me and helped to mold my own, I am unable to deal with the thankfulness I feel for each of them. I keep thinking this day matters to me. These people matter to me. I used to run a record label and do things that people might find interesting, but I do them no longer. And despite the "ordinariness" of the life I am forging in my thirties, I am fortunate to have people who want to show up unannounced and crowd my house and eat my birthday cake. They didn't have to be here, but they were here just the same.

I sure am looking forward to dropping the needle on these shiny new pieces of vinyl tomorrow at my office, but the best birthday gifts I got were the thoughtful calls, emails, texts, and tweets from people I don't get to see nearly enough, and visits from people I am thankful to see daily.

And the pedometer, Mom. Can't forget the pedometer. I took nearly 6000 steps yesterday...

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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...