Thursday, April 30, 2009

i've heard people say that going to church is like torture, but this is ridiculous

this is one of the most heartbreaking and infuriating things i can imagine reading. i mean look, i understand people facetiously talking about going to church as torture, or when kids say things like church bores them to death. maybe that's what i'm missing here: that so many people view their own churches as torture that torturing others can't seem to be that bad, because it's like going to church.

ok - not sure if that level of sarcasm is quite right here, because this is disturbing stuff, but it seems so preposterous that the most avid church goers would be the biggest group of people supporting torture. to be fair, the survey does show a significant disparity between white evangelical church goers (the biggest torture supporters) and primarily white mainline churches (least likely overall to support torture). perhaps this signals the opportunity to have a broader discussion, and i don't want to demonize or even make assumptions about groups with differing opinions, as i have stereotype-shattering friends across the spectrum on this.

but really, what does this kind of survey do for peoples' perceptions of people of christian faith? particularly after this other story on the shifting religious paths of americans. in some ways, spectacular stories like this don't seem to drive people away from deeply held beliefs, but i do wonder how they affect those looking at it from a vantage point that isn't insider-y? we have friends of myriad backgrounds that don't want their kids going to a church-run pre-school because they are concerned about the kind of indoctrination that their kids might receive. other friends were skeptical about an organization like invisible children because of their christian foundations, and were relieved when they found that ic really was about serving the people and not just doing a bait and switch to proselytize.

i'm rambling at this point, but here's the thing. torture is what happened to jesus, and now a large % of jesus' followers advocate torture. that is messed up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

amazing commercial & making of

wow - what a week! i need some time to backlog some posts, and more music recommendations are on the way, but in the meantime check out this amazing commercial for the new honda insight hybrid. the producers created the world's largest led screen out of about 1,000 cars. there's also a making of clip that is awesome.

Honda Insight - Let It Shine from Honda on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ahh, this may be why borders is having trouble

when it comes to a bookstore chain, i like borders, really i do. i prefer great local indie shops like powell's or davis-kidd, but in our new space here in san diego i haven't found a store like that yet, so i like to look at borders. i like their design better than barnes & noble and they used to have a music aesthetic that fit me better than others.

but the reason i was shopping there last week was that i had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and decided that i needed some fun new reading for an upcoming trip. i went for christopher moore's new book, fool, dan kennedy's rock on: an office power ballad, and one of the 33 1/3 books on radiohead's ok computer.

so i got a voice mail from a local store telling me that my order from had arrived and i could pick it up anytime. huh? i'd ordered it to come to the office so i could get it fresh in the middle of the day. i called the store, and after being on hold for 5 minutes while they checked, someone came back on the line and informed me that it was a bummer that my order had gone there, but my only option was to drive to their store and pick it up. it's not all that far, but for a one car family, heading another 10 minutes from where we generally traverse is a pain, and the store's nonchalance about it struck me the wrong way. so now i need to figure out when i can get to a place i don't normally go for something that already bugs me.

it got me wondering about how my expectations shape my mood, and how what others may expect from me shape their view of me - as a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, etc. i'm a pretty flexible person and prone to be able to improvise and find solutions on the go. but that's me, and if i unfairly measure others by that yardstick, or assume that they measure me that way, well, i can see some conflict there.

so i'm still not happy with borders and will revert back to another online store that gets things right or makes me happy making up for it. i'll also have a little voice in my head when i see the borders name somewhere making me ask some questions of myself.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

happy earth day!

today is earth day. i'm hoping that we'll be able to take a little time as a family and talk about how we can take some further steps to reduce our carbon footprint. i did a small post for the youth specialties blog today that talks about it a bit. i'm inspired by the challenge to take small steps to cut 10% of our usage in a year - a totally achievable goal, yet one that takes some intentionality.

i remember my college band, suedehead and the pop tops, playing at the valparaiso university earth day festival in 1991, the spring after i'd graduated. at the time earth day seemed like an obscure thing that was fairly parochial, limited to big cities and college campuses. it's amazing to see how prominent earth day celebrations are today, and aside from the good it does in reducing waste, it's a fantastic opportunity to think about and plan for steps that help us lead more intentional lives, thinking about others and how our actions affect each other.

happy earth day everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

tuesday music - the veils

my co-worker jay howver dropped a blank disc on my desk yesterday afternoon and said, "check this out", with no explanation. i popped it in the drive and laughed when i saw what came up, because about two weeks ago i went to amiestreet after having seen a number of people posting about the new album from the veils - sun gangs. that's what jay had given me.

i've been digging this record a ton and am still finding a lot surfacing on repeated listens. touch points here would be echo & the bunnymen, arcade fire, nick cave, and in a couple spots, like the closing song "begin again", that are very rufus wainwright-ish, which to me can only be a good thing.

this is a band that can go from straight forward, brit-infused indie rock to some pretty epic stuff, like "larkspur" and then bring it back down to a simple song like "begin again", all within what i'd describe as elegant brooding, melodic atmosphere. "sit down by the fire" is a great way to launch the record, and other favorites include "killed by the boom" and "the house she lived in".

leader finn andrews comes from smart, incisive music naturally, as his dad played keys for both xtc and shriekback. this is the band's third album, though the first i've gotten, and i anticipate diving deeper into their catalog based on this record. if you enjoy your sweeping brit-infused stuff with some added heaviness of tone, this is record for you.

Monday, April 20, 2009


yesterday i discovered a series of video interviews on faith posted on the washington post's site. it's an interesting mix of people, from elie weisel to td jakes, gene robinson and joel osteen, jim wallis and christiane amanpour, and this interesting clip of lorne michaels, creator of saturday night live.

plenty to go through and a fun mix of people.

Friday, April 17, 2009

record store day! support indie record stores!

tomorrow is record store day, a celebration of independent music stores around the country. there are artist appearances, free stuff galore and great deals on music from the kinds of stores that have been the heart and soul of breaking new bands for years. i'll likely be hitting lou's recordsin encinitas, and there are hundreds of other great shops around the country that deserve your support.

I totally understand the changing face of music retail, and online destinations like amiestreet, noisetrade, pitchfork, filter, pandora and of course itunes have all made music easier to find and purchase. but i still love the feel of a place that allows for true community to form and people to recognize other like-minded music maniacs. i remember heading to uncle albert's records in my hometown of arlington heights, il to buy a copy of wls djs larry lujack and tommy edwards' (uncle 'lar and little tommy) animal stories records, or when i was on the dj committee at my junior high and buying 45s of j. geils band "freeze frame" and "centerfold" and csn's "southern cross", barely realizing that i was also immersed in the nw suburbs' prime a head shop and meeting place for incense afficionados.

in nashville, grimey's new & pre-loved music is the place to go not just for great music but for a great hang and a room where music lovers are celebrated. there's also a great little venue downstairs, appropriately called the basement, where you're likely to hear great music most nights, and certainly some surprises through the years.

so go to the record store day site and find your local record store and be sure to spend a little scratch with them not just on saturday, but throughout the year, and know that you're contributing to the lifeblood of great new music. amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

macbook still out. if i'm missing a call with you today email me or call 619-440-2333
Ping test 4: listening to the surprising sound of michele looking for her keys

spike jonze: king of the kids' book adaptations

check both of these trailers for legendary kids book movie adaptations, with a special thanks to rob mitchell for tipping me off on the second.

where the wild things are:

everyone poops:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

tv weatherman - failblog

thanks to rob mitchell for this one

what am i interested in?

about 6 months ago i was evaluated by a group of co-workers (anonymously, so the info was straightforward ad very helpful). one of the items had people rate me on the statement, “has hobbies or interests outside of work.” i scored high. when that came back i shared with the leadership team at ys that i felt that i did have those in nashville, but in the midst of a cross country move, settling into a new neighborhood, getting kids in school, traveling 7 out of 10 weeks during one fall stretch and having michele’s parents move in with us, i didn’t feel i had those so far in san diego, though i must have duped the raters convincingly.

i told michele a few days ago that i was feeling a big gap in that area, particularly with the amount of hours i’ve been putting in at work and trying to be more intentional about time with the kids, which is another topic entirely. she asked what hobbies i thought i had in nashville, and i wasn’t sure what to say. so many of them were social hobbies as much as anything: browsing the bins at grimey’s record shop or talking about anything at all at the 12 south taproom was another, and i worked out quite regularly, which i haven’t done at all in san diego. i have myriad interests, though i haven’t spent focused time on anything in the last year, and i’m seeing the result of that in several ways. my intellectual curiosity is still there, but not acted out in any social way. in nashville we were blessed to have an amazingly large network of friends, and i could count on fairly regular social interaction with people i knew and who knew me, not to mention new friendships that popped up regularly.

so i’m re-examining those things. i must work out again or i’ll get back to my maximum density years of my late 20s. and while this is sure to counter balance those efforts, i’ve been thinking regularly about doing some more home brewing, which is fun to do solo and in a small group. i’m sure michele is thrilled by the memory of the scent of a brew kit in action, but the windows will be open, and i’ll look forward to unveiling something. i’ve mentioned it to a couple friends and it looks like we might have our own little club here in la mesa. stay tuned for the brew of the month.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

tuesday music update

each tuesday i'm going to try and write about whatever music i've been listening to. and because tuesday is new release day it seems a good time to make mention of it in case you're looking for something to check out. today it's all about the band farewell flight and their fantastic record, "sound. color. motion."

full disclosure: i had the privilege of working with farewell flight during my time at gotee records / mono vs. stereo . what's more, the record has been finished for well over a year, but after a lot of juggling, the band and mvs parted ways very amicably, and they have continued to be one of the hardest working and touring bands i know of. they're constantly on the road, and in february made their inaugural west coast trip after 8 or 9 east / midwest tours. seeing the band again made me remember just how much i love their music and take on things.

"sound. color. motion." is a record that fits neatly in line with bands like death cab for cutie, doves, even pedro the lion at times. luke foley is a wonderfully emotive singer who kicks things off with "a lullaby for insomniacs" with a nice set up of a character that to me has shades of the hold steady in it's descriptions. other favorite songs for me include "indianapolis", "begin again", the usual vernacular" and a standout track, "america will break your heart". the last one has even more resonance for me knowing that the guys read shane claiborne's first book the irresistible revolution and that some of his views on consumerism are echoed in the song's lyrics.

after seeing the band in february i messaged a number of friends in towns where the band was going to be laying and got several replies that they had checked it out and bought immediately. i hope the same happens with this post, as i couldn't wish for a band to get some breaks more than this one. enjoy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

the lightning fast transition from sublime to ridiculous

easter sunday
morning: meditation on redemption, second chances galore and the beauty of slowness to anger.
afternoon: max on back patio, buck naked, soaking wet with a chocolate easter bunny in hand and chocolate smeared all over his torso.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

great easter song (in my twisted mind)

i've been delving into the back catalog of one of my favorite bands of the past 4-5 years,the hold steady
the end of their fantastic record, separation sunday, closes with the track, how a resurrection really feels
this song caught me off guard a couple weeks ago, and i'll post the lyrics, which you can also find here
i'd also recommend you listen to the song that serves as a sort of prequel, which is called
crucifixion cruise
this isn't your standard triumphant hymn by any means, but the first half of the song in particular gets to me. it's a great scene to picture in my mind. hope you enjoy - here are the lyrics:

how a resurrection really feels - the hold steady
her parents named her halleluiah, the kids all called her holly.
if she scared you then she's sorry. she's been stranded at these parties.
these parties they start lovely but they get druggy and they get ugly and they get bloody.

the priest just kinda laughed. the deacon caught a draft.
she crashed into the easter mass with her hair done up in broken glass.
she was limping left on broken heels.
when she said father can i tell yr congregation how a resurrection really feels?

holly was a hoodrat. now you finally know that.
she's been disappeared for years. today she finally came back.

she said: st. louis had enslaved me. i guess santa ana saved me.
st. peter had me on the queue. the st. paul saints they waved me thru.
i was all wrapped up in some video booth. when i heard her say i love you too.

she said i've laid beneath my lovers but i've never gotten laid.
some nites she felt protected. some nites she felt afraid.
she spent half last winter justa trying to get paid.
from some guy she'd originally thought to be her saviour.

they wrote her name in magic marks. on stopsigns and subway cars.
they got a mural up on e.13th. that said halleluiah rest in peace.

halleluiah was a hoodrat. and now you finally know that.
she's been disappeared for years. today she finally came back.

walk on back. walk on back. she said don't turn me on again. i'd probably just go and get myself all gone again.
holly was a sexy mess. she looked strung out but experienced. so we all got kind of curious.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

fantastic new book

i'll do a larger post on david dark's fantastic new book, "the sacredness of questioning everything" soon, but as i finished the post on the sd reader story i recalled a favorite thing that david writes about. it's that he and his wife talk with their kids about going to "church building" as an intentional way to reinforce that people are the church, and buildings are where some of those people meet some of the time.

i've tried to start that with syd and max and it's an interesting conversation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

why do people go to church?

today i picked up the latest issue of the san diego reader, an alternative weekly paper, and read this really interesting story. the headline is provocative enough, and i expected something different than what the story held, but it was a great read nonetheless. i had expected more word on the street kinds of things, interviews with people abut why they did or didn't go to church, and it really turned into more of a piece on an orthodox priest who had travelled to that place from beginnings in a presbyterian church and a lot of time with campus crusade for christ.

it's interesting in that i've become aware of a decent number of people who have found themselves drawn to eastern orthodoxy (be that greek, russian, serbian, etc.) in the past few years, as well as many more who have gone from conventional evangelicalism to anglican, catholic and other more liturgical traditions as they have delved deeper into the roots of their faith.

growing up in the chicago area i was fully aware of catholicism, and my mom, though she was raised to believe that catholic=bad, never conveyed that thought to me, for which i am thankful. i don't think she believes that either, by the way - something she overcame from her youth.

anyway, it's a fascinating read and i need to go revisit karen armstrong's a history of god,particularly for its passages on the divide between the easter church and what has become catholicism.

still to come this weekend, a new favorite song that fits right in to easter, albeit in an unconventional and sloppy, salty way.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

you mean the pc "laptop hunter" commercial is a fraud?

being a mac fan i was of course skeptical of the new pc commercials, but here's one of my favorite cranks, bob lefsetz, to debunk the commercials. For the uninitiated, bob lefsetz is a music business thinker, gadfly and blogger. while he can be gruff and given to an abundance of hyperbole i find a lot of truth in what he writes, though i still can't figure out his love for modern country music. don't hold that against him. his posts on the music he loves are as passionate and indulgent as they come. here's a short burst on lying to customers:

Stop lying.

The Web has a zillion sleuths just waiting to be activated, like that worm on your computer delineated on "60 Minutes" last night (, (PC-only, in fact), in order to verify the veracity of your statements.

Latest example?

Microsoft's new "Laptop Hunters" TV campaign, in which an uber-attractive girl professes she's not cool enough to buy an Apple laptop and goes for a cheaper Windows machine.

Within moments, it was revealed that "Lauren" was not an average person, but a member of SAG (Screen Actor's Guild) recruited from Craigslist (

Then, it was revealed that the computer she purchased was an old model (,2817,2344017,00.asp) with bad reviews:

Then a Mac user offered to GIVE HER his own Apple PowerBook so she could see what she was missing:

In other words, if you think you can pull the wool over the public's eyes, with your lame excuse denying the truth, you're wrong. The twenty first century is about transparency. Reveal the facts, admit the truth and move on. People today know life is complicated, mistakes and failures are part of the game:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

one year anniversary

one year ago today i started work at youth specialties. i knew i was in the right place when i found my office decorated as the picture show - floor to ceiling covering in aluminum foil. i quickly dubbed it the foilarium and have collected the majority of the foil into a single, massive ball of foil that sits on a shelf here.

i'd had a long standing friendship / love affair with ys before coming to work here, and have some amazing relationships with ys employees past and present. a few stories that have shaped my perception of the kind of poeple that i've encountered at ys through the years:

- mike(y) atkinson being sure to invite me to a gospelcom web seminar when i was at reunion records and fighting through the skepticism of "this internet thing" and whether anyone would actually use it. mikey encouraged and educated me on many things, and also provided a framework for working through the square peg feeling of being in christian media but not fitting into the stereotypes that i was encountering.

- i recall calling marko very early one morning on a weekend trip with the ebpc youth group when will penner stuck with me a number of on-medication-but-not-taking-meds junior high students. i laid into marko asking him how he could possibly like working with middle schoolers and to call me as soon as he got this message for some ideas of how to not kill them. of course, he waiting until monday morning and asked me, "so, how was your weekend, sunshine?" with a grin so wide i could see it 2,000 miles away. i'm a high school guy, but marko has always modeled a consistent love for middle school kids, and i can't help but respect that.

- when squint entertainment was shuttered and our whole team got canned, mike yaconelli called me the day it happened asking if i was ok, if i needed work, if he could help in any way. i was floored. at his memorial service i must have run into half a dozen people with pretty much the same story.

- pretty much any time in the past year or so that i've reverted to junior high type behavior or language, michele asks me if i've been around or talked with ys publisher jay howver. i guess there's just something about jay that brings that out of me. in addition to the work relationship, jay (and marko) have been part of a group of guys that gets together annually to be present to each other in our lives, and that group has meant a tremendous amount to me.

- not long after i started last year we were at a july 4th party at tic's house (though he was on vacation and allowed michele, the kids and me to stay there during our time in exile). it was a fun and not very raucous time, but we watched fireworks on the hillside of tic's house and shared a few beers and cigars, along with some great conversations. several ys folks were there, including marko and his family, mindi godfrey, bethany marvin and beth slevcove along with her husband joe and their daughter. my in-laws were there as well and i remember my father-in-law expressing his appreciation for the welcome that he and my mother-in-law had received from the group. he said something to the effect of that if his generation in church life had been as welcoming he thinks people may have had a closer connection to faith and real life, and be less concerned with legalism.

so while ys goes through a period of re-formation and re-alignment, i'm still thankful for the chance to be a part of it. getting to work with and for youth workers who pour their lives into the lives of teenagers is an awesome opportunity and i'm convinced that it helps me stay young. well, that and the cool hat i wear to impress amy gilchrist here into thinking i'm young.