Thursday, August 28, 2008

Labor Day is NOT a Win for Organized Labor

Have you recently asked yourself how much average Joe American works in a given week? What about you? My guess is that you're pretty average, too. And that means you're being overworked. Maybe you actually like the challenge of work, maybe you like your job more than your family, maybe you need the money, or maybe you just want the money. But the answer is still the same - for right intentions or wrong - you work too much.

And so do I.

It's only 10:20 PM, but to me it feels like it's midnight. Today, I road my bike to work, put in five hours, road home, immediately turned on my computer and started doing some graphic design stuff that I wanted finish today (and didn't), then I went to Office Max, to have transparencies printed for screen printing, and now back at home, I'm writing to all of you.

Two more comments (okay, three):

1. Yes, I did eat dinner, so I had to break there. I also cooked part of dinner tonight. I also watched part of the Cubs game. Ramirez hit a grand slam in the seventh to take the lead against the Phillies - 6 to 4! (Again, this wasn't work.)

2. Yes, I love sharing life with you, so this isn't completely work either. There is some self-satisfaction in it. But shouldn't some of our work be fun, too?

3. Okay, so this might not describe your life. But dang, this is really hard for me. This music thing is hard work! I wish I could just sit on the couch, or at the theater, or at the beach (no beaches in Chicago, really), but I can't.

So this Labor Day, I'll be doing what I always seem to be doing: working on my music. Monday is screen printing day. Wish me luck! It's my first soiree with "ink pulling"...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I Love Rock Climbing

Staring at a picture of the Cuernos Del Paine, in Chile, I asked myself a seemingly insignificant question: "Why do I love rock climbing?" The answer, as you will see, is slightly more complicated than the six words that comprise the inquisition.

1. I love climbing because I love the outdoors. I love the outdoors because: a) it's beautiful and captivating to look at, b) it gives me a "smallness of self" perspective, and c) it reminds me that the world was not created by chance.

2. I love climbing because it is physically challenging. Tough routes are tough on your body. Training - whether in the gym or on other climbs - is absolutely essential. Nobody I know on-sights 5.11b, let alone 5.15a, and everyone I know works for 5.11.

3. I love climbing because it is mentally challenging. Climbing requires attention to the smallest of details in body movement. Body movement is one of the most basic functions of human existence, yet we rarely think about it. In climbing, these movements require a climber's fullest attention; and by thinking about them, he is, in a sense, doing what is most natural to the human existence.

4. I love climbing because I get to spend time with friends. As Christopher McCandless once said, "HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED".

5. I love climbing because I love playing with cool toys. You have to admit, there are few sports out there that offer the enthusiast as great an opportunity to tinker with devices with alien names like "ATC", "Cordelette", "tricam", "hexcentric", and "quickdraw".

That about sums things up. Please let me know if I have forgotten anything.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You Always Want What You Can Not Have

I woke up this morning, wanting more sleep. I couldn't have it. I rode my bike to my part-time job, wanting a car. I couldn't have it. I want a million dollars, and... (well, most people have to work for that.)

Here's what this all comes down to: humans are wired with a craving. It's not so much a craving for *things*, but for *satisfaction*. As I am sitting here, teasing this out, I have time and time again observed people trying to satisfy with material possessions what some people call the "God-shaped vacuum" inside of each one of us.

Right now, I feel like I'm in a really, really dangerous place in life. Let me explain: I love music. I am so passionate about writing and performing - and listening to others play. I am single-mindedly pursuing to achieve notoriety with my music and to play for a living to hundreds of fans all across the world. And I am misguided if I think that these things will satisfy my deepest longings and desires.

This is the danger: to pursue with deepest passion those things which are of lesser importance. There is no such thing as "rock 'n' roll immortality." Every image fades. Even with better technology, what we capture on HD today will only be a small essence of the true rockstar in fifty years.

So this is an admonition and a call to action: a life of value is spent pursuing valuable things - not fleeting things. "The grass withers and the flower fades..."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Behold! The Bicycle.

Most of you probably don't know this, and I want you to know it. About a month ago, I wrote a post about how making a career in music is difficult to do. Yeah, I meant it.

The biggest difficulty has always been in the tense balance between doing what you love and making enough money to live on. "Money: it's just green paper," a good friend of mine often says. And, for me, needing that green paper has led me to get a part-time job at a computer company in Naperville, IL. It's a great job - honestly - with a great staff and boss. It's just not music, though.

Okay. Enough about that. You all just needed a little background before I went off on the real point of this post:

As many days as I work in Naperville are (almost) as many days that I ride my bicycle. Yes, to and from work, 12 miles, round trip, on the road (half of my route doesn't have sidewalks, and the half that does is completely unsafe to use - due to traffic patterns, layout of the sidewalk, other pedestrians, etc.).

You should also know that Megan works in the exact opposite direction of where I work, and she works twenty minutes away from our apartment (30 from where I work), so she takes the car. By me riding, we save around $200 in gas - every month.

So. I just wanted to say that I'm getting sick of riding my bike to work. But I'm not sick enough to waste $200 a month in gas. Plus, it's healthier for me and the environment.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Screen Printing is the Future

Just this afternoon, I finished reading a book that I bought last week on Screen Printing. Basically, I've decided to start screen printing my own T-shirts and, maybe, a few other things, if I can manage it. It's an investment of a couple hundred dollars, but after I print two different T-shirts using my supplies, it would have cost the same amount (or more) to buy the shirts from another company. Plus, I hear it's really fun to do.

So anyway, the book I bought was written by some folks over at Print Liberation. They sound like some really cool people, and they wrote a great book. Oh, by the way, it's called "Print Liberation: The Screen Printing Primer". So, not that I need to diversify any more or anything, but I've decided that having this sort of "equipment" might be beneficial in the future anyhow: I can print shirts or other paper art for fun, and maybe even help out friends by printing stuff for them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Vlog Post: Recording Journal

Free Sox Tix: Cha-ching

Okay. So anyone who knows me knows that I love the Cubs. And Wrigley Field. But nobody is going to question rooting for the home team - whoever they may be.

A guy I know sent out this huge email, saying that he had free White Sox tickets to give away - to the game *that* night (which was yesterday). I just happened to be at my computer, online, when the new message popped up. I immediately responded, "I'll take them". Score.

Section 509, Row 11, Seats 10 and 11.

No, they're not the greatest seats in the park, but the view was much better there than in the terrace reserved section of Wrigley - where my brother and I stood from a few weeks ago. My hunch is that, overall, the view of the field is better at U.S. Cellular. But, there's no surpassing the history, look, and feel of good ole Wrigley. Though originally named Weegham Park (1914-1920), then Cubs Park (1920-1926), the name has remained the same since the 1927 season.

The game was great. Megan really likes the Sox (she's from a Sox family), so I was happy to take her. Plus, I had not been to Sox Park since it was "New Comiskey, Rev. 1". Sox 3, Royals 0.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Memphis BBQ

If you've ever been to Memphis, you've probably had dry rub barbeque. But if you haven't, you don't know what you're missing! Hanging out in Memphis this past month, I am convinced that I ate the best BBQ ribs I have ever had. The restaurant? Central BBQ. This stuff is just fall-off-the-bone juicy on the inside, but the outside is dry, rubbed with a secret combination of spices. It beats me how they do it, but the combination of dry and juicy is unreal. Here's a picture of what I got: the "slab for two".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Recording Day

Jameson Cunningham came over today, and we recorded drums for almost 13 hours straight for my new EP, "Glimmer". He's an awesome, local drummer, and I'm really happy to be able to team up with him on this stuff. I'm totally exhausted, though! I'm hitting the sack as soon as I post this.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Just recently, I took inventory of all of the music business "stuff" that I do on my own - stuff that isn't always music, but is essential to making a career by it. Over the last three years, I've learned quite a bit about graphic design, web design, PR, advertising, product development, product pricing, radio promotion, computer hardware, concert booking, internet radio, digital and physical music distribution, merchandising, engineering, producing, and a ton of other things. And now, I've decided to start screen printing my own T-shirts and other merch - I think.

Beginning a new "area of study" always reignites this looming question that I always have: is learning "this" (whatever it may be: web design, radio promotion, etc.) going to be worth my time and effort? Because every minute I spend working on this new "thing" is one more minute that I'm not spending directly on my music - I'm not on a stage; I'm not creating a new song; and I'm not making a new record.

I think it's a good practice to sit down every once in a while to figure out if the things that you're doing are bringing you closer to, or distracting you from, your goals. And that's where I'm at today. Will learning how to screen print help me to earn a living performing, recording, and writing music? Maybe. With all of this "stuff", the answer to the question, really, is simply "I just don't know if this is going to be worth my time and effort."

And guess what? I think that's okay. I've learned to trust in something bigger than myself - that if something is meant to be, it's going to happen. And, most likely, it will happen by means completely contrary to how I would have thought they should happen - just to demonstrate to me that I was never the one in control of my future anyhow. And the result will be good. Every time.

And so I press on, trusting that my God-given desires and abilities, coupled with opportunity, and approval from wise friends, will lead me down the right road. Happy screening!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Don't Be So Nosey

So this week, I discovered that if something on my head hurts or doesn't feel right, I get cranky. Oh yeah: and I hate health insurance companies. So in addition to my whole "nose fiasco" this week, Megan had her wisdom teeth pulled on Tuesday. Between the two of us, we were quite a pair! (Obviously, all of this junk was the cause of my lapse in weekly posts.)

And about that cranky part: it's totally understandable that people are more prone to fits of rage while their heads are in a mess. Understandable. But still not acceptable. We (and by "we" I mean "I") have to remember that whatever I'm dealing with - however bad - I'm always doing better than I deserve, and it's always better than it could be.

So with this new nose issue I'm dealing with, there's a possibility that my recordings are going to get pushed back a little. The new EP may not be ready for my out of town shows in September. But we'll see. I'm working hard to stay on schedule, and within the next two weeks, I'll really know where we stand.