Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yelling at B.J. Novak

This past weekend, I was down at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, hanging out with my brother Mike. Friday night, B.J. Novak was doing a stand-up show, and we tried to go. But alas, student activities decided to move the event indoors because of the rain. We showed up a wee bit too late and couldn't get in.

We searched for another way in. We snuck, we explored, we developed the "where does that door go" complex, opening every door we saw. Finally, we tried the outside of the building and discovered that the balcony stairs lead us to the outside of the room where B.J. would be performing. Two others discovered the spot before us, and we joined them.

The show was supposed to start at 7:30 PM. It was now the bottom of the 6th inning for the Cubs. No, seriously. I didn't know what time it was, but I knew the Cubs were in the 6th - I got a text message. Passing the time, Mike and I had a short discussion about the durability of Nalgene bottles; at which point, I proceeded to toss mine over the side of the three-story balcony. My brother's jaw dropped. The bottle survived, bouncing a good five feet in the air after impact.

Retrieving the water bottle from where it landed, in the shipping dock of the Illini Union, my brother yelled out to me. "Hey, there's a giant block of ice down there!" It was the remains of an ice sculpture for some event earlier in the day. And then the idea: let's drop it from the balcony. My brother got a grip on the giant ice block and carried it up.

Moments later, a delivery truck backed into the dock. Our experiment would have to wait. When the truck left, B.J. was still not there. We were beginning to think that either 1) he wasn't going to show up or 2) he was really trying to milk the crowd by making them sit through three episodes of The Office before he began his routine. We waited for the warehouse employees to bring the shipment inside.

And then B.J. arrived in his silver, 2008 Infiniti G35 sedan. He pulled right up to the shipping dock, parked his car, and got out. The two guys we were with excitedly greeted B.J. from the railing, one floor above the dock. B.J. said nothing. With a baseball cap pull down, far over his eyes, he didn't even acknowledge our presence. I couldn't believe it.

Hoping, at the least, to salvage one, small ounce of satisfaction from meeting/seeing/hearing B.J., in disgust I addressed him myself: "Hey, can you atleast move your car!?!?! We were going to drop a giant ice block from the balcony on to the concrete, exactly where you parked!" Again, no acknowledgement.

A discussion ensued: B.J. probably had no intentions of moving his car, so our chances of dropping the ice block were lost. Now what do we do with it? I suggested we put it in front of, or next to, his car, so that B.J. can see that we were serious, and that he was being a jerk by simply not acknowledging us. But, I do understand he was pretty stressed already, and he was late for his show, etc.

In preparation for putting the ice block somewhere near his car, but in no way damaging it, I brought it down to the first floor, just above the shipping dock, where the four of us had been strategizing. A woman from building management soon poked her head out the door. "Hey, B.J. Novak just told me that there were a few hoodlums outside who said they were going to drop a giant ice block on his car. Was that you?"

Moments later, another shipping truck arrived, honking his horn in anger, at B.J. Novak for parking his car in the dock. The shipping employees came out again. "Hey, is your friend going to come back and move his car?" he said. I responded. "Actually, I don't think so. I think it would be best for you to have it towed. In fact, if you give me the phone number, I'll call for you!"

The shipping employees questioning, the truck driver honking, the ice block ten feet away from us, B.J.'s car in the shipping dock, the campus police show up. Obviously, B.J. simply misunderstood what we said, and he subsequently had the police called on us. Basically, they just carded us and told us to "Get the hell out of here." And so we did. This sounds like a pretty good Seinfeld episode, right?

After all of the commotion, Mike and I went over to Legends to watch the remainder of the Cubs game. Tied. Bottom of the 9th. (The game is away.) Home run. Cubs lose.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Point of Being Sick

I've been sick since Monday morning. It's Wednesday. Needless to say, I've had some time to think about being sick: why do we get sick? is there a purpose in sickness? what's the best way to get better? I'm not so sure that I've made any break-through discoveries on this subject, but what I can say is this:

Being sick has reminded me that one day, all sickness and disease will be wiped away, destroyed, and conquered, and we'll never have to deal with it again. In these moments, I find myself longing for that perfect day when all things will be made right. And yes, I do believe that day approaches.

For me, music captures so much of this longing. Right now, I find myself pining for that perfected reality, where tears of pain shall no longer be shed. If you're looking for a few songs to hit you this way, check out these two songs by SLEEPING AT LAST: "Careful Hands" and "Needle & Thread". Oh yeah, and by now I know you all know that I was uber-blessed to be able to open for Sleeping At Last this past Saturday night, at a show at COLLEGE CHURCH, with some friends of mine, RESTORATION PROJECT.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Results w/ Less Work

So I still can't figure this one out. Over the last three months, I've spent very little time working on the "business side" of music, and most of my time on the "creative side". The results? Not a lack of them, I'll tell you that much.

Obviously, I've had my hands in a lot of things, as of late, and the ball is finally rolling on Restoration Project; but honestly, two weeks ago really marks the end of a period where I haven't been putting in the time to book gigs, do promo, etc. I've been primarily focused on the creative end of my profession.

This Saturday, I'll be performing the biggest concert of my career so far. And the gig just landed in my lap. It just happened to come from a guy I know - at church! I'll be performing with Restoration Project, opening for Sleeping At Last.

But that's not all. A few friends of mine in ResProj have accomplished what I have never been able to on the Wheaton College radio station: WETN, 88.1 FM: yesterday morning Paige Winfield had an interview promoing the album, on the "Joy in the Morning" program. Just amazing. And this coming week, I expect the album to be in rotation on the station. Again, unattainable for me, personally - even with my new recordings from Nashville.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ahab and the Boy: What Drives Us Mad?

Over the last few weeks, I've had the chance to read. Alot. I finished Moby Dick (though I started this a while ago) and I read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. I loved both books. Obviously, Moby Dick is epic. But both books really push the reader to answer the questions: "Is there any good in humanity?" and "Are we in control of our own destinies?"

Honestly, I don't think the answers are so simple. Certainly, people demonstrate small amounts of goodness at some point, but the question then becomes: what is the origin of that goodness? Is it generated from within us, or is it placed upon us somehow? McCarthy's book is a battle for survival - a journey where the only thing left to do is keep moving.

The road itself is, in the book, a metaphor for all of life: we don't know how things will turn out, but we have no choice but to continue on. McCarthy's book ends with a resounding "yes" to the question "Is there good in humanity?". But I tend to disagree with where that goodness seems to be generated from. McCarthy would most likely say that the goodness is self-generated and that all humans are inherently good. I think that this goodness is given to us.

I highly recommend both books, but I would suggest skipping some of the Melville's writing on Cetology. Though it adds a miniscule amount of depth to Melville's main character, it does not really add to the plot or overall effectiveness of the book. (Don't tell him I said that!)