Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Gimme some sugar, baby"

The topic is TV viewing habits...and I don't mean watching the nuns on the Catholic channel.

In my family, tastes differ sharply. In fact, I tease my wife sometimes about her unseemly fascination with the "true crime" genre and how, to me, most episodes seem to be about some sweet mid-western wife who unexpectedly dispatches her husband in some peculiarly vile and creative way. Spooky, I say.

And both she and my son have always shared an enjoyment of horror movies, slasher flicks, and all manner of cinematized supernatural terror. Most of the time they eschew the outright demonic, but I do not care for any of them.

Except for this one.

I really like Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness. Directed by Sam Raimi, brilliantly written by him and his brother Ivan, and starring the inimitable Bruce Campbell, this is one of the most entertaining movies ever. Campbell is possibly the best B-movie hero to ever swagger across the dollar-movie screen, and I am definitely a member of the fan club. Hopefully, we'll get to watch it this weekend. For me, it is "The Princess Bride" of horror movies.

And here is a hilarious commercial Bruce Campbell made for Old Spice. Just what you need to get rid of that Evil Dead smell.

This is very, very funny to me.

Here is a link to Campbell's IMDB listing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Statistical Analysis and Tommy Walker

I very rarely look at my blog stats. I go for months at a time forgetting that I have a counter and I always have to look up my password to get into the Statcounter site. Honestly, if I were interested in racking up hits or tracking who was reading, this would be a totally different kind of joint around here. I like hearing from my friends, and I've met several folks through blogging whose friendships I really value. But beyond that, I just don't care whether I'm popular or not.

But one aspect of my blog statistics does intrigue me. It is interesting to me that the most popular keyword phrase that time and again seem to direct people to my blog are "when I don't know what to do". It refers to this post, wherein I talk a little about one of my favorite Tommy Walker songs. I imagine that the people typing that phrase into their search engine have heard this song somewhere and it has resonated with them in a certain way. Most people don't actually read my post, and nobody actually leaves a comment. But that's okay.

That song bears an especially penetrating message of hope, in a world largely adrift in desperation and hopelessness. I am more than happy to do my small part keeping that message afloat.

Home again...

Home again and happily so. It was a good trip, as business trips go, and will likely be fruitful. Travel and accommodations were perfectly fine, without snag or complaint. That is, until I got to my car in the parking lot at the James Cox International Airport in Dayton on my return Saturday afternoon at which point I found that I couldn't find my keys. They remain lost to date, presumably in Atlanta, but who knows...they still haven't turned up. Nevertheless, thanks to my son, I made it back home in time to catch the end of the worship rehearsal at church and the evening's service.

The highlight of the trip was, without a doubt, the worship concert that I attended Thursday night. Diante do Trono ("before the throne") is the worship team of Igreja Batista da LaGoinha, a large evangelical church in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, that I mentioned in a previous post. I had been invited by Randy Adams, who is the recording engineer for most of the Diante Do Trono's worship recording projects. (Go here to see a list of Randy's astounding discography.) The amazing thing was that these friends of mine from so far away, whom I had never met in person before, happened to be in Atlanta at the same time I was, performing at a local church that was less than a mile from my hotel.

My friend and colleague, Jeff McLeod, and I stood behind Andre Espindula, the chief engineer whom I have known telephonically and virtually for several years now. It was a joy to meet him in person at last. The worship was wonderful. They had a full rhythm section, background singers, six-piece horn section and a pair of young dancers. Ana Paula Valdao Bessa is the worship leader and she is a great leader, possessing a wonderful voice and a strong passion for the gospel.

Jeff and I speak enough Spanish between us that we could roughly interpret the Portuguese lyrics and speech, although the languages are, in fact, very much different. It is not the first time that I have worshipped in a non-native tongue and, hopefully won't be the last. I believe that Heaven will be very much like that. It is likely that in Heaven, the Lord will reverse the curse of Babel so that we will all speak and understand a common language, but it is undeniable that the children of God come from every time and every culture on Earth. And language is an integral, inseparable part of cultural identity.

An especially moving segment was when Ana spoke at length to the predominately Brazilian audience of some 1200 or so people about the need for them to remember that most Christian believers in Brazil were saved as a result of the efforts of American missionaries over the last 150 years. She encouraged them to now do all they can to, in turn, embrace and positively impact their adopted country. I was somewhat undone emotionally by the passion of her prayer for our country, the outpouring from the people, and the power of the worship song that followed, Águas Purificadoras.

After the concert, at Andre's request, the host-pastor of the Brazilian congregation took us back to the green room and introduced us to Ana. As it turns out, we share a number of friends in Texas, where she went to college in the early 90's. She was humble and gracious, and it was very considerate of her to spend time with us after a rigorous evening. They were to leave by bus later that night for Miami, Florida for the final concert on the tour before returning home.

What an unexpected blessing this was, and one I will remember often for years to come.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Groovy stuff

The new Midas XL8 digital audio console is amazing. Not only does it boast extraordinarily high quality and an amazing feature set, it has more cool lights per square inch than anything else I've ever seen. This little pic does it no justice, but it really is one of the most beautiful, aesthetically satisfying high-tech device I've seen in a while. Multiple interactive display screens, hundreds of illuminated knobs and buttons, it is something out of a sci-fi movie.

To really see how beautiful these 3-dimensional decorative tools are from Rose Brand, you need to go to their website and follow the links.


They are very cleverly designed and beautifully made, consisting of a spandex-like material stretched over a stick frame. They come in several sizes and are quite wonderful.

And, just to demonstrate the diversity of this tradeshow and prove that it is by no means all about technology, across the aisle from our booth is Starry Host Design. This is a company devoted to the design of creative worship spaces for children. They partner with churches and focus on facility planning, security, and an engaging, artistic environment for children to learn about God. Their website cites an important statistic, that "80% of the decisions to follow Christ occur between the ages of 4-14." Personally, I can testify that more than once, when our son was young, we decided whether or not we would attend a particular church based on the discernable quality, or lack thereof, of the child care. A church that wants to reach out to and meet the needs of young adults with families need to understand how critical this is. It doesn't matter how beautiful the sanctuary is, how wonderful the worship music sounds, or how great the preaching may be if the needs of your kids are being ignored.

This is the last day of the show and I fly home tomorrow. I had a great time last night at the Brazilian worship concert at Cumberland Community Church. I will write more about it later, but it was great to see in person some friends that I have only known for several years by phone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Groovy stuff I saw today at WFX - Atlanta

Here are a couple of the more interesting products that I have seen here in the WFX exhibit hall.

Earthworks is a renowned manufacturer of innovative microphone solutions. Their newest product is really the cat's pajamas, though, their PianoMic System. At $4500 retail, you aren't going to find it on every piano you see, but it does sound extremely good and it solves several long-standing technical challenges in mic'ing a grand piano. Larry Blakely, their chief marketing guy, said that at the recent Audio Engineering Society (AES) show, they were swarmed by people interested in this new item.

Next is a peculiar product, really. The Corevalus SamePage System is, essentially, an electronic, computerized music stand. And, although my company is a dealer, I have been skeptical of what I've read. Having now seen a good demo and been able to play with the system myself, I am starting to come around. It has a touch-sensitive interactive screen that enables you to highlight or circle specific passages. It does some simple transposition. It uses a customizable database of songs, which enables the worship leader to easily add or subtract songs from a set list...while playing. The foot controller, used for turning the pages, works exceptionally well, which surprised me. There are a number of other commendable features that range from the convenient to the ingenious.

This is a young company with a new and fairly radical high-tech concept. Sorry, but I couldn't find any decent still photos of the product, but if you go to their website via the above link, they have a short online video demo that is pretty cool.

Also, Bill, Jeff, and I ate bison burgers at Ted's Montana Grill, a restaurant chain owned by Ted Turner who blurs the distinction between being insane and being insanely wealthy. The burgers were great and so was the hand-squeezed lemonade.

I will try to post more on other interesting things I see and do.
And perhaps eat.

Worship Facilities § The Premier Conference for Growing Churches

Okay, this is where I am:

Worship Facilities § The Premier Conference for Growing Churches

And these are the folks with whom we are sharing our exhibit space:

Adaptive Technologies/Allen Products - They make all manner of ingenious hardware for hanging speakers, monitor screens, and such. Suspending big heavy things in the air is serious business and, in their field, these guys are the best.

M-Audio - Computer audio interfaces, keyboards, software, speakers and in-ear monitors.

Intelix - Sophisticated audio distribution gizmos. Mixers, processors, and a slew of really cool little electronic signal conversion products called baluns.

TOA Electronics - Full range of pro audio tools, including the super fantastic HX-5 mini-line array.

I've already run into several old friends and seen some very impressive new professional lighting, video, and audio technology, targeted primarily at the house of worship market. I have some pics, but no way to upload them at this point. It's all incredibly geeky and don't for an instant think that I fully understand what all of this stuff does.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WFX - Atlanta, GA / Gospel from Brazil!

It was never my intention for my blog to be merely a recap of my calendar, nor just a haphazard aggregation of news items or semi-interesting links. However, for the time being that is what it has devolved into.

It is what it is. At least for now. And so that is why it is at least apropos, if not otherwise commendable, to report that I will be in Atlanta for the next few days attending and participating the Worship Facilities Expo and Conference (WFX). It should be fun, actually, and the plan is that it will develop business for my company. I'll be hanging out with Bill (Braveheart) Wallace and Jeff McLeod (of the clan McLeod), two of my esteemed colleagues.

Which is good. Isn't it? Of course it is.

An interesting synchronicity is that during the time I am there some friends (and very good clients) from Brazil are leading a worship event on Thursday night in a church just a mile or so away from my hotel. Diante de Trono, which is the worship team from Igreja Batista da LaGoinha, have come all the way from Belo Horizonte (I love the sound of that means "beautiful horizon" in Portuguese). They are an extraordinarily dynamic church and, though I have several of their recordings, I have never seen them live. It should be outstanding. One of my very good friends, Randy Adams, records and produces much of their work and he will be there, too. This may well be the highlight of the whole trip.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"You sneeze and you're dead, man."

I like this guy's attitude. So do his wife and neighbors.

IgNobel Prize or Brain-freeze Epidemic Grips Norway!


My first inclination was to just simply ignore this whole Al Gore/Nobel Peace Prize thing but, really, it is the very definition of an Egregious Offense. Historically, this particular category of the prizes has a checkered past, with past winners including Jimmy Carter, Yasser Arafat, and various United Nations agencies, individuals, and unindicted co-conspirators. But still, what a load of crap.

There are two tiny shimmers of silver lining that rim this dark cloud of stupidity: First, evidently Gore is not going to pursue any kind of domestic political advantage on the strength of this new public relations wave.

Secondly, I do like very much that Gore got to say to former President Jimmy Carter what most of America would like to say to him, "President Carter, please do not call me any more."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Wood Shortage

Here is an alarming article about the serious problems in obtaining quality wood materials for making musical instruments. Real ebony and good koa wood is virtually unobtainable at any price and even Sitka spruce, which seemed to be endlessly abundant 20 years ago, is becoming harder to get and increasingly expensive.

This is a real problem, people. Not like that global warming yadayada.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Baby Pictures...

Hey! Drop everything and go look at these baby pictures. Who doesn't like baby pictures?!?!


Last Friday morning, I was riding the shuttle at the D/FW International airport, on my way to pick up a rental car. I sat opposite a guy in his mid-30's, who had that look, both relieved and anxious, of a businessman coming home. Some six feet away, on the opposite side of the luggage rack, were two gruff men, in faded jeans and casual shirts, grayed and in their 50's, talking about an imminent sales presentation of some vague, barely imaginable sort that was to take place in Waco later that day.

Their banter was ear-catching in that it was liberally seasoned with a bracing flow of profane exclamatory utterances and adjectives. Conversational, and yet startling in its extremity, given the setting and the fact that it would it would not be noon for several hours, anywhere in the hemisphere.

Anyway, one of these grizzled carpetbaggers then said this to the other, "What we really need is a coupla shots of JD this morning, ya know? You gotta feed the hair of that dog, I'm telling ya."

And that utterly inane and bizarre turn of phrase has left me bewildered and amused ever since. My gaze met that of the guy sitting across the aisle from me and we traded subtle, wry grins at what we had just heard. I suspect that it will be a long time before I hear another colloquial expression so violently abused as that. At least I think I hope so.