Monday, April 24, 2006

Cappuccinos, Computers, and Simon Cowell

Well, Mondays are my day off, generally. Right now, I'm hanging out at my favorite coffee shop, Scotty McBean's. I woke up with a sore throat this morning...not sure what the deal is with that...probably due to some stray germs at one of my crazy church parties. I attend a young adult group with "major" events on Thursdays and Sundays...and then "minor" events (home group, Bible studies, movie nights, birthday parties, etc.) almost every other night of the week. I generally am out with these church friends about 3-5 times a week. Every so often you run into the guy who (without notice) coughs right in your face...or wipes his nose and then offers you a handshake. Wow. And they say elementary schools are bad. Anyway,'s nice to have a day off...and the warmth of a tall foamy cappuccino is soothing on a sandy throat.

The weather is incredible outside, but I'm stuck inside the coffee shop until the battery on my laptop is fully charged. I love my Powerbook Mac G4. I've basically downsized my whole studio into one box. It's amazing how far technology has come. I used to have to have a roomfull of synthesizers to do what I do (arranging, programming, etc.), but now I have gigs and gigs of sounds right on this very machine I'm typing from...everything from realistic strings and orchestral instruments to crazy ethnic instruments. The great thing about "soft synths" (keyboard sounds in the form of software) is the fact that you can run any of these sounds through any of the others effects (reverbs, etc.) that are installed on your machine. This would involve a lot of cabling and other limitations on the hardware level. Also, "soft synths" are a ton cheaper. Now a days, you can get the same amount of sounds you'd find in a $2000 keyboard for $200, only in software form. The downside? You have to keep everything updated...the more software you have, the more of a pain it is when you get a new computer or upgrade to a newer operating system. Regardless, it's worked pretty well for me. I recently finished some string arrangements/programming (organ, pads, etc) for 4 songs on a new album by Fresno, CA worship artist Jon Shabaglian (produced by Michael Quinlan). Hopefully, some of his stuff will be up on line one of these days. The whole laptop phenomenon is really cool, until someone walks by your table at the coffee shop, trips on your power cord, and your whole studio crashes to the floor...or you make the mistake of giving your laptop a swig of cappuccino. And that is why we have insurance...and backup DVDs.

I've had some interesting comments from readers regarding my last 2-3 blog entries. I had one guy tell me that my writings sounded "whiny, very self doubting and in question of everything." My response to him? "Yeah, I agree. They sound a lot like the Psalms, huh?" My purpose in writing this blog is not to put myself in the center of the universe, nor complain myself into the limelight. I just put my feelings out on the table because I find that it's very healing...for me, and hopefully for "my readers." No one person wants to admit he's/she's struggled with disliking his/her "makeup." However, I believe that we have all had issues with self-doubt...everyone from the "I'm too cool not to take my sunglasses off inside" Bono savior types to the "I have everything going for me and you don't" Simon Cowell bullies of the world. I think Jesus is the only example of someone who was completely sure of Himself...He had no desire to win anyone's approval because his life was about servanthood to mankind and submission to His father's will. He wasn't wrapped up in the popularity contest that we all, consciously or unconsciously, emerse ourselves in. He knew the heart of man, and if anything, He was trying to win mankind's submission and obedience, not mankind's pop culture stamp of approval. We recently celebrated Good Friday. Interesting how one day the crowds were waving palm branches and cheering Christ to stardom while days later, they were spitting at him and hurling obscenities while He hung on a cross of splintered wood. My point in all this? We are fickle and broken people...and it's important for us to admit that. We need to be open and vulnerable before God and others. This whole idea of "losing your life" is so contrary to everything the world teaches us. I'm still wrestling with this concept, but if anything, I think it starts with an honest heart that's willing to say, "yeah, I'm screwed up and I need help."

With this being said, I continue on an interesting journey (as we all do). The band continues to be on hold, and will be so for a while. In the meantime, I'm trying to invest in reading books, writing, and further investigation of God's will and how that incarnates in my life. Sometimes, there are very obvious opportunites God puts right in front of our faces, yet we want to find something "bigger and better" because we fear our own identity and/or self-worth may be at stake, when in fact, our true identity and greatest accomplishment is often found in the ordinary, most humbling of duties.