Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Santa was very good to our household. The boys got TONS of toys. Hopefully everyone got what the wanted, or at least want what they got.

I'll be home with the boys this week (taking some time off!). I've got the clip of I'm Coming Home up on my site for those that would care to listen. I'll also be concentrating on getting the artwork for the CD complete. As a result, I don't expect to be blogging or checking blogs much this week. I'll check in when I can. If not, have a Happy New Year and see you in 2006!


Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm Coming Home

Last night I worked on probably the most difficult song that will go on my CD. It's called I'm Coming Home. It's difficult on many levels. I've had the music for this song since about 1988. My good friend Scott gave me the title of the track while I was playing it one day. He heard the chorus and just came up with the line "I'm coming home". I spent the next 14 years trying to write the rest of the song with no success. Everything I wrote sucked. More on the final inspiration for the lyrics in a minute.

When I started recording this song, unlike all the others, all I knew for sure that I wanted was the guitar track since I'd had it for so long. All the other songs I had the arrangements basically worked out in my head before I started. On this song, I had nothing. I recorded all kinds of tracks for it, additional percussion tracks, more guitars, different bass tracks, a couple of drum tracks, you name it. None of it seemed right. At final mix down yesterday, the more I listened to it, the more I took out. The song basically got stripped to essentials. Acoustic guitar track, electric track starting halfway in, very gentle bass track, keyboards and simple drum track at the end. It's layered so a new instrument comes in periodically throughout the song until everything is in at the end.

The second tough thing about the song is the vocal track. Leave it to me to write a song I can barely sing. It strains my voice even though I tried to write it in a key that wouldn't. No dice. The vocal track is the best I can do, but there are times my voice sounds like I spent the previous few hours crying and am now hoarse. However, that works as well.

That's because the final insiration for the lyrics came following the death of my cousin Sharon at the age of 51. She was perfectly healthy, with no signs of heart trouble, and died suddenly of a heart attack last year (God, was it only last year?). I got a call at about 6 am from my sister saying she'd died. The Wife and I went through the whole shock and disbelief thing that I don't think either of us has gotten over. I wrote the song for Sharon, but also dedicated it to a person that worked for me at my previous job that died in an auto accident at the age of 30. Friday afternoon I told her to have a good weekend and see her Monday kind of thing. Monday morning I found out she was gone. Just like that.

I was a little emotional last night just listening to the song. Over the 10 or so times we played it to get the mix right, I went from wanting to cry to being peaceful, if sad. I think the song captures what I really wanted to say and is a fitting tribute to the people in my life that were gone too soon.

Sharon, we miss you. It's not been the same since you've left us. I look forward to seeing you again.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Score one for the good guys

As reported on ABCnews.com, it appears a federal court as ruled the Dover, Penn. school district cannot teach Intelligent Design in biology class. It rightly recognizes that ID is just repackaged creationism. Which in the public school system belongs in a class on comparative religion.

I never did believe in this whole intelligent design thing anyway. Because I know who created the universe. Or more accurately, my faith tells me who created the universe. But the thing is, evolution doesn't teach or even suggest who created the universe. It's merely a mechanism. But some people's minds are too small to grasp that God's plan is bigger than human understanding and that everything written in the Bible is not literal. I'm sorry, my fundamentalist brothers and sisters, but the Earth is not a few thousand years old.

Here's my arguement agains literal translation of Genesis. Look in chapter 1. In verse 27, after God had created everything else, including the animals, He created man. In chapter 2, verse 15, he creates man. He then realizes man is alone and creates all the animals. So which way is it? Point 2: in Chapter 4, Adam and Eve have 2 sons. Cain kills Abel, and is sent away. He then has relations with his wife and has children. Where did his wife come from? It isn't his sister because he doesn't have one (remember, literal translation states 2 boys, no girls). So where does she come from?

I think this proves that some of the stories in the Bible, like Creation, are spiritual truths, not literal truths. I'm also pretty sure that Adam didn't live to be 939. People get too hung up on the numbers and the words. Here's my "Big Truth". Let's assume for a moment that all the theories of evolution of the universe are correct. There was a Big Bang billions of years ago that tossed all the elements of the universe into motion which eventually resulted in the earth as we know it. This theory assumes that all of the elements were there to begin with. There's no part of the theory that even tries to figure out where that stuff came from. Answer (for me anyway): God. Cause if you can beleive all of the stuff of the universe was just there when the Big Bang happened, it's a short leap to beleive that God always just existed as well.

Final little tidbit: The Dover school board wanted to include the following statement before the discussion on evolution: "The Dover policy required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement said Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information."

I would like to mention that nearly all fields of science contain "inexpicable gaps". Because our knowledge is never complete. Should we then disregard all scientific theories becasue we can't explain everything? Duh, that's what science is about. Trying to explain the unexplainable.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

More clips ready

I've placed clips for Blessings, Give It Back To You, and Lament on my website. That makes 9 down, 3 to go. I've also updated the liner notes page. Check it out if you care to and enjoy the clips!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Getting there

Sorry I've been kind of quiet this week. Between home and work just no time to either post or read many blogs. So if it looks like I haven't been visiting, I'm trying but I can't get to everyone. I anticipate this will be true until after Christmas so if you don't hear a lot from me, I didn't go away.

I've got 8 tracks for Voice of the Spirit complete, and the 9th should be done tonight. Which leaves 3 tracks to complete the project, with an average of 2 days per track. I'm probably only going to be in the studio 3 nights next week so if my math is correct that means the CD won't be complete by Christmas. However, it will be shortly thereafter, right around the first of the new year. I also have to put artwork together for it. Maverick has been kind enough to volunteer making a CD cover for me. Hang in there everyone, it will be ready very soon. If you care to pre-order, the information is on my website. I should have some additional clips on it soon. I just need to find a little time to create the clips and put them up on the site.

If I haven't said so to everyone yet, Merry Christmas! Hope everyone's Christmas plans are coming together without too much stress. The stress level in our household has been going up and down, but I think we're going to make it without a nervous breakdown on the part of myself or the Wife. Lois, if I could get that gift of time in a bottle prior to Christmas, I would really appreciate it.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Crazy Christians

Ok, here's the latest example that the world has lost it's mind. Or at least the Christian world. It seems that some "megachurches" have decided to close on Christmas day. Why you may ask? Becuase they're afraid attendance will be low. That's right, people, a CHURCH is afraid that it's congregation will decide to stay home on a SUNDAY that HAPPENS TO ALSO BE CHRISTMAS.

Am I missing something here? I don't know about other Christian denominations, but Christmas is the most packed Mass of the year after Easter. I know that many people like to go Christmas Eve and all, but Sunday morning Masses are well attended also. The fact that it falls on a Sunday this year is a bonus for us since now we don't have to go to a Sunday Mass and a Christmas Mass. For example, when Christmas is on a Monday next year, Catholics will attend Sunday and Monday. What a deal!

I don't get what the hell is wrong with these denominations. How can you not have a service of some kind on Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord? The article I read said these "megachurches" were going to send DVDs home for the families to watch and spend some "quality" time with Jesus and the family. I'm sorry, I thought that's what going to Chruch was about. How poor are these people's faith that they'd rather stay home? I'm so confused? Can any of you other Christians out there explain it to me?

I guess this is what happens when you have "faith" without direction. One of the Ten Commandments says to keep hoy the Sabbath. Shouldn't this mean spending some time with the Lord and your faith community? I feel sorry for those people in these congregations that actually want to attend a Christmas service and now cannot. Perhaps they'll find a better chruch that will meet their spiritual needs. Cause closing on Christmas doesn't seem to be the way to meet your congregation's spiritual needs.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Going too far

I usually don't post twice in a day but I just had to say something about this. Apparently a parent in Wisconsin is upset that the local school changed the lyrics to Silent Night to something secular. Why? In order to continue taking the Christ out of Christmas? To denegrate the song? No, because it is part of a play. They're putting on a little play about a family going to buy a Christmas tree. They took well known tunes (like Silent Night, Jingle Bells, and We Three Kings) and changed the lyrics to help tell the story. You know, like REAL musical produces tend to do. Hello! This guy seems to think Silent Night is some sort of sacred song that cannot be modified in any way. He was quoted as saying: "To take 'Silent Night' and to intentionally change the words as they do here is wrong. No matter if they've done it in the past, no matter if somebody else wrote the song, it's the school's actions [that are the problem]."

That's right, the schools actions were to adapt a popular tune (that by the way is eminent domain, meaning it has no copyright) to a performance they put together. How sinful. The lyrics are as follows: "Cold in the night, no one in sight, winter winds whirl and bite, how I wish I were happy and warm, safe with my family out of the storm." Do you not see how they mock the original lyrics, as the parent claims? Can you feel the fervent Anti-Christian theme being presented?

One last bit of trivia I just learned. Silent Night was originally a poem, not a song. It was later put to music, much like our national anthem. What really annoys me about all of this is that while I agree that Christ is getting taken out of Christmas a little too much these days, people are going too far. Groups are advocating boycotting Target and Sears because they don't go far enough in promoting Christmas over "the holidays". I hate to sound like a conservative or anything, but these are businesses. They want to appeal to as large a population as possible so people will come to their store and buy stuff. If we start boycotting businesses for every little stupid thing, they're won't be any place to shop, because there's no way they can't keep from offending someone. Let's get a grip here people.

I guess my big beef with this whole thing is that I feel many Christians are loosing sight of the meaning of the holiday and concentrating on buying stuff and Christmas being ruined if you can't buy that one popular thing that everyone wants (Cabbage Patch Doll, Playstation, X-Box, whatever). Christmas is both a religious and secular holiday. I have no problem with the secular side. When those claiming to believe in Christ loose sight of the celebration of His birth and what it means for the secular meanings of the holiday, I have a problem.


They Will Rock Me Again

I have just purchased my ticket for Queen+Paul Rodgers in Buffalo! I'm going to see them again, kiddies! I mentioned the possibility of doing a Queen trifecta and going to Toronto, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, but I got "the look" from the Wife and came back down to earth.

I'm going to be on the floor again, right in front of the sound guy. For those interested, I'm in section FL4. Here's the link to the arena so you can check out my cool seat. I'm totally looking forward to seeing the show again. Hopefully they'll add some new tunes, but if not, I'll just kick back and enjoy.

Now if Julie can come through on her fantasy Christmas gift, I don't mind deferring it until March. Backstage with Queen and jamming with Brian May! How cool would that be?


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Local politics rant

Most of you probably won't care about the issue I going to go off on, but any lurkers from the Rochester area may understand. It relates to this article in our local newspaper. It relates to an audit done of the finances of the town of Gates, where I grew up and lived in until last year, when I moved to the neighboring town.

The current supervisor has been in office for a long time. I'm not sure how many terms, but most of my adult life. The state conducted an audit of the town's finances and found many poor practices. Instead of reviewing the report and noting areas for improvement, the town supervisor labeled the auditors "incompetent or partisan". It would be amusing if this were an isolated incident.

The fact is, that is the standard mode of operation for this supervisor whenever criticized. Shoot back at the attacker and obscure the real issues as nothing but an attack against him. Because, you see, he seems to think he rules the town. In the last election, he said he couldn't work with the person he defeated because he couldn't trust her and be sure she would be loyal.

Which is the core of his problem. He surrounds himself with people that will be loyal above all else. The town board is nothing more than a rubber stamp for his policies. He rules with an iron fist. One library employee once had the nerve to "embarrass" him in front of county Republican leaders. What really happened was he was using the library meeting hall for his meeting and the librarian was trying to close up the building at 9 pm like she was supposed to do. Instead of doing the usual polite thing and say something like, "Oh, I didn't realize it was so late," he accused the librarian of doing it on purpose to make him look bad. Amazingly, the library's budget got cut the next year and the librarian wasn't employed there for much longer.

In another incident, he rather roughly treated a boy scout that went to interview him as part of a requirement for scouting. Why did he treat this kid like crap? Because the kid's dad was the leader of the town Democratic party. And don't try to start a business in Gates unless you know how to grease town hall. One potential businessman sent a letter to the town board giving up due to all the obstacles placed in his path.

All this has gone on without too many people in the town complaining because he kept town taxes low for many years. He did this because the town got a part of the county sales tax when it was 8.25%. Problem is, that extra .25% the county was collecting has gone away. And a major business closed its doors in the town. So now town revenue is down. And taxes are going up. And the town is probably mimicing the administration by spending money it doesn't have.

BTW, I think the residents are finally starting to wise up. In a HEAVILY Republican town, the supervisor won with only about 53% of the vote. He keeps this up, and next time around it may be the other guy getting 53%.

I'm so glad I moved out of that town.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Back to the grind

First, I'd like to say that I'm feeling much better now (thanks for asking Lois!). I'm now just my usual cranky morninged, pain in the ass self. No germs to blame being miserable on.

This week my recording engineer is back from Maine so I'm diving back into Voice of the Spirit. I've got about 3 weeks to complete it so I'll probably be going crazy with it. I'm anxious to get it done so I can put it to rest and not have this music thing hanging over my head.

On the plus side, the Wife and I have 98% of the Christmas shopping done. We have a few miscellaneous gifts to buy and that's it. Of course, we still have to wrap the presents, send Christmas cards out, make Christmas cutout cookies, and a few other things, but since it's December 5, we're in good shape. We just need to keep the momentum going.

Add on top of this I've given myself a major project at work which I've got to complete by Christmas and you can see that by December 26 I'll be dead or hopelessly insane.

Lastly, Lois suggested that if we think of gifts for a fellow blogger (money being no object) then we should post it. I'll begin by saying that if money was no object, I would give the Wife everything. Pretty simple.

I've found the perfect gift for Julie, assuming money is no object. It is the gift of freedom, from financial stress that is. I would set up a large enough bank account so she would be set as far as rent, utilities, clothing, etc and allow her to live our her dreams as a dramaturg full time without worrying about staying alive and having all the essentials. Cause you know, I'm like that. I'm a giver. Merry fantasy Christmas, Julz!


Friday, December 02, 2005

Battling the Viruses

I've been battling a cold for about the last week. I'm not sure which of us is winning. I'm trying to take it easy and get some rest, but every time I overcome one sympton, another seems to take its place. I've had a sore throat, headache, stuffy head/nose, and now a cough and ache in my chest. The ache in my chest kept me up most of the night so I'm a very tired and extra cranky guy today. Working on less than 4 hours sleep does that to me.

I may have to engage in peace talks with the viruses coursing through my body and explain that my schedule does not allow for me to be ill until perhaps sometime in the middle of January. If they would care to make an appointment with me then, I'll check my calendar. I may be able to squeeze them in for a few hours.

Not helping all of this today is the fact that some changes were made to our email system last night that broke access to certain mailboxes. I figured out what the problem is, but even though I'm the exchange administrator, I have not yet been given admin access to our new exchange server. Meaning I can't fix the problem and the person that can won't be in until noon.

Frustrations when I'm cranky I don't need. I'm now off to find some cheese to compliment my whine. Or perhapes simply some wine to relieve my crankiness.

On a completely unrelated note, I've added a new link on my sidebar. It's for Serra. Check out her site. It's pretty cool. Tell her I sent you. Serra, no thanks are necessary, though cash is appreciated, especially in large bills.