Sunday, January 30, 2005

Lend me your ear...

Hey, could I get some reaction on this from a few impartial judges? Just think of it as blogger idol. I need a few Simon Cowell types to tell me what they think. The following is a song of mine produced and sung by a friend, as we work toward a final mix. I won't say anything of what I am thinking so as not to bias you, but if you would, give it a listen and give your reaction. And don't worry about the goofy lyrics at the end, that was just having fun...

And anonymous comments are perfectly welcome, possibly preferred.

Here is the mix.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Not too much posting this month...

As you can see, I have not spent much time blogging in the new year. That is because I have been busying up my spare time, primarily with Japanese study and music. The music busyness is largely in response to some inspiring words from Jen, who said something in an email a while back that reminded me about motives for the music we do. She basically pointed out that first and foremost it's not about the promoting and the success/failure ratios that we can get so used to measuring ourselves by. She reminded me that we do it because we love it, because we just simply desire to express ourselves that way creatively, whether anyone is listening or not. And I think I had been forgetting that, dwelling too much on my space in life and the fact that any sort of typical musician's life just does not fit very well with a 30 year old, and a wife and two young kids, etc etc. But fact is, I still love writing songs and trying to express myself in music.

Songs can be kind of a riddle in which you try to communicate something that you wouldn't say otherwise. It's an interesting comparison with writing a blog, because it is such a different form of communication. I find it really hard to be too open on a blog, but in a song I can reveal things that I would never otherwise tell; though I guess I always make the really important stuff vague enough that I always leave myself space for full deniability...

But even so, once in while I will get an email where someone has heard one of the songs, and really connected with it, and there is no greater high than that. Once a lady phoned me crying and saying, "Thank you so much for writing that, and I want you to know I understand, I so understand what you are saying." The funny part of it is that, who knows, who knows what she understood or if it had anything to do with what I was trying to communicate. But really, who cares. I just loved the fact that it moved her, and that something that came out of me connected so deeply with something in her. I was high for weeks.

So we are going to try some more stuff, keep making music. We are practicing for some gigs around the city, and a friend in LA is working on a mix of one of the songs that has not yet been recorded. Oh yes, it will be an exclusive Herban Sprawl internet release, and of course I am positive I-tunes will be clamoring to add it to their collection. Probably release a special edition i-pod just for this song.

And more inspiration from jen (she's quite inspiring). She put on the trail of video blogging, which I have been finding quite fascinating. It seems that bandwidth could really limit such a thing, but I would like to give it a try. So I will be making a few video blog posts, if I can get over my fear of talking into a camera. Try it some time. You feel pretty dumb sitting there by yourself, looking into a camera, and trying to think of something to say. But maybe we will just sing you a few songs or something. Anyway...

Friday, January 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
Not something you see everyday on a sidewalk in Winnipeg. But in Nagoya, not such a big deal.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Nicene baby...

...The Nicene religion of the baby and the cross gives us Christianity without the politics. The Posh and Becks nativity scene is the perfect tableau into which to place this Nicene baby, for like the much-lauded celebrity, this Christ is there to be gazed upon and adored - but not to be heard or heeded. In a similar vein, modern evangelical choruses offer wave upon wave of praise to the name of Jesus, but offer little political or economic content to trouble his adoring fans.

...In the hands of conservative theologians, the Nicene religion of the baby and the cross is a way of distracting attention away from the teachings of Christ. It's a form of religion that concentrates on things like belief in the virgin birth while ignoring the fact that the gospels are much more concerned about the treatment of the poor and the forgiveness of enemies.

Good quote found by Graham in an article in the Guardian.

More from th article:

Nicene Christianity is the religion of Christmas and Easter, the celebration of a Jesus who is either too young or too much in agony to shock us with his revolutionary rhetoric. The adult Christ who calls his followers to renounce wealth, power and violence is passed over in favour of the gurgling baby and the screaming victim. As such, Nicene Christianity is easily conscripted into a religion of convenience, with believers worshipping a gagged and glorified saviour who has nothing to say about how we use our money or whether or not we go to war.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Wow. 7:02 We have got disasters on the brain and now this. I just experienced the biggest earthquake of my three and a half years in Japan. i sat there as my whole living room jumped and the cabinets popped open. Better start checking the news. I can guess this was probably a lot bigger somewhere else...

oh and by the way, from the a few posts back, both friends of mine who were in Thailand are just fine. One was stuck in Bangkok with an ironically lucky sickness, and the other managed to get up the mountain and out of harms way. Another guy who works at the same juku as me was in a boat getting ready to scuba dive. They said if he had been in the water he would have been gone, but being in the boat they just rode a really big wave. Apparently, it was safer being out at sea than on the shoreline.

Update: It was only a four. Wow. I wonder if I will be around if a five or a six ever hits.

Modern day parable of the Kingdom of God

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. At a Chush fund-raising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, "Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything that God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God's perfection?" The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father's anguish and stilled by his piercing query.
"I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that He seeks is in the way people react to this child."
He then told the following story about his son Shaya.

Shaya attends Chush throughout the week and regular Torah school on Sundays. One Sunday afternoon, Shaya and his father came to Torah school as his classmates were playing baseball. The game was in progress and as Shaya and his father made their way towards the ball field, Shaya said, "Do you think you could get me into the game?"

Shaya's father knew his son was not at all athletic, and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya's father understood that if his son was chosen in, it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.

Shaya's father approached one of the boys in the field and asked, "Do you think my Shaya could get into the game?"

The boy looked around for guidance from his team-mates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We are losing by six runs and the game is already in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."

Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field, a position that exists only in softball. There were no protests from the opposing team, which would now be hitting with an extra man in the outfield.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded and the potential winning runs on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was told to take a bat and try to get a hit. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible, for Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so that Shaya should at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya's team-mates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shaya.

As the next pitch came in, Shaya and his team-mate swung the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game.

Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far and wide beyond the first baseman's reach. Everyone started yelling, "Shaya, run to first! Shaya, run to first!" Never in his life had Shaya run to first.
He scampered down the baseline wide eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head, as everyone yelled, "Shaya, run to second! Shaya, run to second."

Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards the direction of third base and shouted "Shaya, run to third!"

As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, "Shaya, run home! Shaya, run home!"

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit the "grand slam" and won the game for his team."That day," said the father who now had tears rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of perfection. They showed that it is not only those who are talented that should be recognized, but also those who have less talent. They too are human beings, they too have feelings and emotions, they too are people, they too want to feel important."

via Scott Williams

Friday, January 07, 2005

Monday, January 03, 2005


I read the bible sometimes and usually when I do, I write thoughts that come to mind down on sticky notes and stick them in the pages somewhere. Now, the sticky notes tend to fall out and I lose for eternity those brilliant nuggets of wisdom, or at least until I find them on the bottom of my sock. So seeing that primarily I use this blog to store things for the future, and that virtually my only readers are Jen, Brian, Paul, and all those people looking for tsunami pictures - and possibly sometimes Steve - oh wait, and Erich, I think, and I know Rachael drops in - anyway, I want to start posting those nuggets here, mainly for me to read in the future, but you guys will see them too, so if you have any "sticky notes" to add, please do...

Ok, so first reading. John 14 and 15.

* The gist of these two chapters to me is Jesus explaining to the disciples just who exactly are really his followers, and it all clearly revolves around love.

* Those who love him are the ones who obey his commandments (v. 21), and his commandment is to love each other.

* In another place Jesus goes as far as to say that all the law and prophets are summed up in the commandments to love (Paul too)

* And in v.21, interesting order. sounds a lot like the open-endedness of 1 John 4:7 - those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me, and then I will reveal myself to each one of them

* Jesus adds that "you can not be fruitful apart from me" (15:4). Acting out in love can not be done apart from God, because God is the source of all love - indeed of every good thing, because God is love. So someone who acts out in love is demonstrating their connection to Christ.

* You see this in Judas question of clarification. He says, in effect (John's Modern English Paraphrase), "Jesus, it doesn't really seem fair that you would only reveal yourself to us in this small select group, and not to the rest of the world. What's up with that (haven't we all thought that!!!)?? Jesus replies, "the world over, wherever there is someone who loves me, you will know it because they will be the ones doing the things I have taught you about(v. 23). Don't doubt for a second that such people are connected to both my father and me. People who don't love me, don't do the stuff I told you was most important. That's what the Father is trying to communicate."

* Matthew 7:21 - "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven..."

* Matthew 7:18 - "A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit".

*Again, his disciple John echoes this loudly in 1 John 4:7. And Paul in his words on Mars Hill about the unknown god, along with the example of Cornelius, who's prayers and kindness to the poor were heard by God before there was any encounter with Christ. And then Peter in Acts 10:34, "I see clearly now that God doesn't show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right."

* In one way these ideas are terribly inclusive - too much so for a lot of conservative theologians. In another way, it is even more exclusive, because love is damn hard to live. It's the narrow path. Selfishness is considerably easier than selflessness.

Whoah. That ended up being longer than I expected. Guess these things still get me fired up...

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year from Japan

Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
They are ringing the bells and eating mochi. It is 2005 in Japan. I made my way down to the temple actually for the first time in three new years' that I have been here. But that was just for a short walk. Other than that, we spent the evening enjoying the other Japanese New Year's Eve tradition, that of watching grown men beat each other bloody in a fiesta of broken bones or noses. I suppose if I think long enough, I could come up with some sort of spiritual significance to that, but right at the moment, I got nothing. At any rate, Emelianenko the Russian won, and tonight that is all I need to go to bed happy.