Friday, November 30, 2007

Lunch with Magill

I had lunch with Matt Magill today, and it was a blessing. I've been couped up here in this apartment for weeks now, and even though I love what I'm doing, I haven't had a chance to meet too many people, specifically, other Christian men since I've been here. Mostly because my whole life is on this here computer.

Getting to hang out with Matt was straight from God, a flat-out blessing and answer to prayer. We are similar in many, many ways, including weaknesses, and the ways in which he encouraged me most were through his testimony and his open and contrite heart. He's got a great testimony and is starting a powerful ministry here in Manhattan. He leads a bible study here in Manhattan through... (I'm going to get this name wrong because people always say it too fast and I'm a slow southern boy) "Priority & Associates." (?) I think it is a branch of Campus Crusade ministries but it is designed for working men. I went this Wednesday and I loved it.

He and his wife, Megan, are both musicians who moved from Texas. They sing Gospel music together, and his wife sings musical theater here in the city as well... I don't know... sounds familiar... Anyways, they have an original and terrific sound together, a kind of metro-Rock'abilly romp, that makes me flat out want to go to church and stomp and shout. Even more, it makes me want to get on the piano and jam with them. Go have a listen and buy a record. We musicians gotta eat.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Blog posts might be scant or non-exsistant for the next week as an Agent has reqested to see the FULL MANUSCRIPT of my novel. Only about two thirds is spotlessly edited and I guess didn't expect someone to request the whole thing so soon. But hey, at least now the darn thing will be finished. It should only take a few days of coffee and no sleep, but things always come up so maybe longer. One thing I am mostly excited about is that, even if this agent decides to pass, at least I know the query letter is decent.

From what I've read and heard from other writers, the process finding an Agent, or the right Agent could take a while, but I'll keep you guys informed if you are interested in that kind of thing.

Also, if any of you published writers out there who have some helpful tips in this area, please, drop your 2 cents in the comments box for the love of Pete.

Regardless of what happens with her, it is fun to be affirmed and will great to be finished.

Pray for Amber tonight as this is the opening night of It's A Wonderful Life.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Abundant Life, Part 1: Quit Whining, Start Living.

I have a notion that the world is filled with people who are not pursuing their passions. Many are, but many, many people are simply missing out for no good reason. Probably a good sign that you aren’t pursuing your own passion is that that first sentence sort of irked you. You are coming up with all kinds of excuses to why you can’t or won’t do what is burning inside of you: Kids, too old, too late, too young, too tired, too fat, too skinny, too much debt, etc. For some, very few, the dream might actually be unattainable. You can’t very well go for the major leagues in your 50’s with a cholesterol problem. But who knows? Roy Hobbs did it, and he had a bullet in his belly. (A movie, I know, but there’s a reason why we all love it so much.) But for most non-physical oriented dreams, I dare say its never too late. And before you go standing on the side of “too old and sore to do it,” let me share a little story with you, a story for the poor little me 30-40-50-60-somethings reading this…

When I attended the Aspen Music Festival at the healthy age of 19, a bunch of my buddies and myself decided to climb Aspen Mountain, all the way to the Gondola (The very, very top. Waaay past the designated hikers trail, where plenty-o-oxygen could still be accessed.) Anywho, if you made it to the Gondola summit, you could ride free down. So we geared-up, and with youthful vigor began our quest. It was tough and one of the most physically tasking things in distant and recent memory. But finally, with cramps in our sides, one break for eating, and pulses a'pounding, we made it in 11 hours flat. For extra fun, we were attacked by birds who where no longer afaid of humans that made diving passes at our sandwiches.

When we got to the top, we were so proud. The view was spectacular. We took deep breaths of the cool, thin air and silently surveyed the blissful view. Then we looked at all the other people, who came up riding the Gondola, and took pride in our youth and our ability to do what others could not. We even had a little flag that we had constructed to plant at the summit.

Right about the time we were finishing our high-fives and ready to plant our flag, we all turned towards the incline from where we had just scaled... more like, crawled. A strange scraping sound emerged. Then a bike tire appeared, then the full bike, and sitting on the bike, I shark you not, was a man with a long white beard, white hair, and wrinkled, tanned skin that covered a whole set of tight lean muscles, covered only by a runner's loin cloth and a little tattered tank top that said “I Live Dammit.” The old geezer rode the whole way up the mountain on a bike in 8 hours. He had to have been close to 80. Everyone at the summit, (about 60 or so jaw-dangly people) turned and clapped, laughed and took pictures. You cold barely see the old man’s smile underneath the bushy full white beard as he stood by his bike and posed for adoring strangers, but his squinting eyes said it all.

After the applause ended, we had to force ourselves to plant our flag but we did it anyways, and rode the gondola down for our reward at the only KFC in Aspen. The old man, as we found out later, rode his bike back down. At the time, I felt a little like the old coot stole some of that sweetness, but really, he did the opposite. His prescence was a gift and a reminder: "You're living now boy, and that's good. Just never quit."

Fear is the greatest foe to living the abundant life that Christ has set us free for. It takes guts and faith to do what you are secretly or openly passionate about.

(A little Roy Hobbs Clip for your enjoyment.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dry Socket

I have what's called "dry socket" in a few of the holes where once dwelled my wisdom teeth. A local surgeon was nice enough to "pack" the socket and prescribe some painkillers. The pain went away, but replacing the pain is the constant taste of garbage. Pure, rancid, nasty, nauseating, garbage. Whatever is saturating the gauze in my gums is supposed to dissolve into a mushy material that makes the gum think that it has clotted properly. However, at this point, I don't care. Give me the pain. It tastes like black liquorish concentrate without sugar, and the dirty sweaty underwear of a sumo wrestler who took a crap on a pile of burning tires.

It's that bad. I wake up 2 times a night gagging. I have to go wash my mouth out and goop globs of toothpaste into the sockets for relief. During the day, there are always two mints in my mouth slowly dissolving, lodged between my cheek and gums like tobacco. I have to wonder... Do you remember that Austin Powers with Fat Bastard... remember that part where Austin thought he was drinking coffee but instead he was drinking... remember? Well, I'm wondering if something similar happened at the surgeon's office when he dipped the gauze in the medicated solution.

Just thought I'd share that with you.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Subway Sermon

I sat on a subway today, thinking about my future. I sat and wondered what or whom I need to meet to take the next step to further myself in this big dog-eat-your-face-off world. There is really no better place to come to terms with the cold indifference of the world's backside than in NYC. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful place, but like anything beautiful or majestic, it can be terribly dangerous, if approached naively or arrogantly. All earthly beauty dangles upon this powerful, odd truth. From the greatest mountain in the Alps to the smallest frail rose in my mom's garden. It isn't a paradox really- that something beautiful is dangerous. It is the starkest reality of fallen man. We fear what we cannot control, because anything truly beautiful controls us, for some period of time, or by some measure. And we tremble in awe as we stand at the edge of those great wonders, all wrought by the hand of God.

So there I sat, on a light green subway seat, rumbling through the dark underbelly of the city, trying to predict the future and attempting to ignore the man at the back of the subway car who was yelling his introduction to us all and preparing to sing for a few breadcrumbs. He began to sing, and to all of our surprises, the man wasn't bad. Not only was he not bad, he sang about God. He sang, "this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." The crowd gently parted for him has he walked and sang through about five encouraging verses, humbly uplifting every rat in the race, awaiting their next stop, and their next "big meeting." I got out all the change I had and dumped it into his cap (as did many, many others) and thanked God for reminding me of my next step. Just let it shine buddy. It’s that simple. All the other stuff, jobs and so forth, are simply the kind of lamps God decides to give you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Election... A recent poll of my thoughts...

Here is what comes to mind when I think about each of these candidates, and sadly, as my opinion will probably remain unchanged by my lack of political vigor, it will also determine my vote.

Hillary: Sorry. Just can't do it. I'm sure she's good for it. There's just toooo much history. It's like going back to eat a Big Mac after you got sick eating one and barfed it up.

Obama: Okay, probably the guy I'd like to see get the office more than anyone. Several reasons. Yes, one of them is because he is black. And who cares if that is a reason? Personally, I think it's time that America had a black President. It would do wonders for our Nation's conscience and conscious. It is time that someone else besides P-diddy, Kanye and 50 Cent represent the potential of the young American Black Male. I think if all three worked really hard and cheated, they could pass an English course. Obama... is probably the brightest mind running.

Edwards: I'm not sure about. He seems too Ken Doll to be president. I always think about the Truman Show or something every time I see him. At any moment his face could flap open and reveal a complex robotic mechanism controlled by some secret right-wing organization.

Giuliani, "The thug." At least that's how everyone up here in NYC refers to him. I don't care how big his mafia bat is; he sure did a good job of cleaning up the streets around here. BUT, we are talking about the leader of the free world and... if he were to use the same tactics to rule the world... hmmmm. Lets just Don Giuliani clear of the nuke button shall we?

Thompson: You were good in Hunt for Red October. That's about all I know about you. If we were still in a cold war with the Ruskies, well I'd think about it.

McCain: I like McCain, but I've never been able to shake the fear that underneath that nice rationale, there lies a Ross Perot waiting to burst.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Houston Fun

I have returned from Houston. I left a few teeth, my deodorant and a bunch of good friends in H-town. Sounds like a hit country song.

I don't think I'll ever be able to say enough about our Church in Sugarland and what a blessing they have been to us. Every time I start to write about it, I can't figure out where to start, and I end just gushing like a goober and never finish. So let me just sum it up, I love you guys.

Had a great time with my friend Tan recording Carey Carroll's project. As always, the Holtzmans treated me like the blonde headed stepson, as opposed to their red headed son Jack. What a wonderful family. It was also great to see Josh and Elise Moore and catch up with those two crazy geniuses. I was reaaaaally bummed that I didn't get to spend any time with the Maerz or Spitz family but next time... Shoot, I wish I could have hung out with the whole church for that matter.

I also snuck into that church on Sunday morning, which was fun as well. A terrific pianist who seems to be getting along smashingly has replaced me at the helm of the Steinway. I was surprised at how much he looks like the present music minister... It was almost eerie... But then I had to imagine how weird I must have looked playing every Sunday with that long dippy looking hair, thumping my leg up and down. (A bad habit.)

Anyways, it was a good trip. Much was accomplished and it flew by. I miss my friends in Houston and this last trip I realized something...

I've moved around most of my life, and I am used to putting up walls and moving on. I realized that I'm not so good at that anymore. I have my friends in Houston to thank for that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mom Can't Call Me Wisearse Anymore!

The wisdom teeth are OUT! The stuck a little I.V. in my arm and into la la land I went. O.U.T. Yup, just me and the purple elephant and cellophane flowers of yellow and green. I think I remember saying... "Well, there I go..." And then, darkness.

It's kinda creepy if you think about it. Just pretty much going into a coma of sorts. But I much prefer it to the grinding, sawing and slicing, IN MY TEETH, I would have endured opting to stay awake under "local anesthesia." Something I like to call, "dumb." I don't care if they call it laughing gas. The only people REALLY laughing are the dentists because you are saying such goofy things like. "Rara rirogaga garrarradarra," translated means, "that hurts like a banshee you filthy fatherless swine."

The whole operation went by pretty fast as wisdom teeth go. 30 minutes. Usually takes an hour and a half but I suppose mine were ready to be free. Or maybe I WILLED them to come lose in my sedated state. I have been polishing my force skills lately.

Now on to the subject of painkillers. I like them. A lot. Vicadin. Pretty swift little ditty they engineered there. Makes you feel...happy. All over. I bet if I plucked my eyebrows I wouldn't cry like the last time I tried it. Maybe I could even finish any set of dishes my mom decides to start washing in the liquid fire she runs into the sink, and then calls it "warm dish water." Who knows. Feeling too good to try.

So how do you all feel about pain killers? Know anything I should watch out for? I hear something called "Cannabis" is pretty effective for pain as well.

Let me take you back, cause I'm going too Strawberry fields, nothing is real... and nothing to get hung about... Vicadin fields forever.

Monday, November 12, 2007


In honor of Veterans Day, I'd like to tell a story about my Dad, a Vietnam Marine Corps Veteran, and the lesson he taught me about pacifism.

When I was in 8th grade, we moved to Florence Alabama. It was hard. Really hard. My new school was split down the middle racially and the racism ran rampant on both sides of color spectrum.

Sometime in the middle of the year, the bullies at my school invented a game called "Jankum." The rules of the game were simple. To be "in the game" one only had to link your pinkie finger and from that point on, everything that was in your hand was fair game to be "janked." Sort of a toddler version of "car-jacking."

The game sucked. No one wanted to be in it except the few guys who invented it and wanted everyone’s stuff.

Well, we were pretty poor at the time and the school supplies that I had needed to last, or I went without. Inevitably, a few days after the game was invented, my new backpack was "janked" (stolen) from my feeble grip by a large kid by the name of Lo Allen. He was twice my size and a notorious fighter.

The internal fires of panic ignited and the bartering began. For the next 5 minutes I tried to avoid a fistfight, and somehow, convince Lo Allen to give back my friggin bag. Without looking like a big giant wimp and losing all self-respect, I somehow convinced Lo Allen to cut me a deal. He would "sell" me back my backpack for 3 dollars. Lunch money was 1.60 at the time and I handed that day's cash over and told him I could pay him the rest the next day. It was the best I could do. I figured I could make myself a lunch for the next day, pay the thief, retrieve my bag, and go on about my life. Suuuuure.

As I handed Lo Allen my first payment installment the next day, I mustered all my courage, and simultaneously linked pinkies, disengaging myself from further "janks." He was not happy and felt it somehow unfair. I probably should have waited on that part of it because Lo Allen decided to charge me interest. 100%-per-day interest to be exact.

Shamefully, I paid that slimy piece of crap my lunch money for the next 7 days. After the 5th day I guess Lo Allen's conscience kicked in ever so slightly and he returned my bag. However, he still expected the daily money until he decided the debt was satisfied.

Seven school days of this crud ensued and by the end of every school day, I was starving. It had to stop. However, there was no way to turn Lo Allen in to the principle because, sooner or later, I would pay dearly for ratting. With no end in sight, I was stuck, totally lunchless and paying Lo Allen a $1.60 per day.

Finally, I went to my dad. I told him all about the sordid game, and my plight. He listened quietly and expressionless. By the end I was in tears and awaited his solution. The conversation went a little something like this:

"Well son, here's the deal. I'm only gonna say this once. If you go to school and give that puke another penny of your lunch money, and I mean ONE PENNY, I'M gonna whip your ass. It's either me, or him. Take your pick. Come tomorrow, I better smell the school lunch on your breath when you get home, and I better see that backpack."

He left the room and I sat speechless for about an hour. Even though it wasn't even close to what I expected to hear, and I was double-scared, something in me knew it was right. I couldn't argue and I knew he meant it. When the old man gave an ultimatum, he wasn't whistling dixie.

The next day arrived and Lo Allen approached me for the money, at the regular time. The fear was nearly crippling. That conversation went like this:

Lo Allen: "Okay, Sef (Seth) Where's my payment."

Me: "Sorry Lo. I can't do it."

Lo Allen: "Alright, I'm gonna bush (bust) ya if you don't give it."

Me: "Sorry Lo, my dad said he'd whip my ass if I gave you any more money. I can't do it."

Lo Allen: "Alright, after class, I'm gonna bush ya."

Me, scared poopless: "Well, I guess you're gonna hafta bust me then."

The hour ticked by while many bullets of sweat passed through every pore of my brow. Finally the bell rang and I slowly walked out of the classroom and awaited the "busting," but Lo Allen... was gone.

It was over. I couldn't believe it.

In fact, I never heard a word about it. Later I told my dad, he chuckled, and that was the end of that.

Several lessons were learned that day.

I also started Karate lessons.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Secret Life

I wrote a novel. I started it about 6 months ago.

Some thoughts and things I've learned:

I have never had more fun doing something in my entire life. The editing process is monstrous. I can't tell you anything about the story because I'm too chicken right now. It’s about 70,000 words. I told about 3 people I was writing it, and I think the secrecy played a big role in getting it finished. I wrote a little over 1000 words per day. (Three hours a day.)

Writing a novel, editing it and getting it published is a 12-hour a day job. That is pretty hard for a fellow that already has waaaaaaay too many irons in the fire. I can see why people spend years on a novel. But, the Good Lord helped me pull it off.

I learned what a Query letter is. It is the single most important one page, three paragraph, single spaced thing in your life, that is, if you want to get published. It is more important than your novel. It is like a movie trailer. Or, a movie trailer sales-pitch. I've probably rewritten the query letter more times than any part of the entire novel, except for the last half of the first chapter.

I've been Querying agents the past 2 weeks and got a good nibble from one recently. She's sold some books to the big dog publishers so I'm crossing my fingers as I type, and as she reads. It's a long shot but who knows? She might dig it... However, finding a good agent as an unpublished writer is sort of like getting the senior-class-prom-queen-captain-of-the-cheerleaders to date an 8th-grader with pimples and mashed potato biceps. I got the equivalent of a wink.

Usually, an unpublished novelist lucks out with a breakout novel or a publisher approaches you because of your platform. In my case, if I had a platform, a publisher would approach me and ask me to write a book based on the art of staying in school and getting paid for it. Platforms are for non-fiction. I don't have any interest in writing those kinds of novels anyways so, the hard way it is.

In the mean time, I'm writing another novel with a good friend of mine and we are two-thirds done with the first book of a 5 book series.

Lastly, I'd like to say a word of thanks to my lovely wife. Not only do we sing and write tunes together, but also she is a kick-butt editor. She's been taking my novel to her auditions and editing while she waits. Editing is a long grueling process and she has a knack for it, and actually LIKES it. The woman never ceases to amaze me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Scandal in the Suburbs - XJ Kennedy

We had to have him put away,
For what if he'd grown vicious?
To play faith healer, give away
Stale bread and stinking fishes!
His soapbox preaching set the tongues
Of all the neighbors going.
Odd stuff: how lilies never spin
And birds don't bother sowing.
Why, bums were coming to the door—
His pockets had no bottom—
And then-the foot-wash from that whore!
We signed. They came and got him.

Poetry for Pete's Sake

I love poetry. Reading poetry is a lost art these days and it is sad because poetry should be read out loud. I think people forget that. Most of us read our page-turners in the airport and skip paragraphs and miss a few names but still get the plot because its hard to miss. And every once in a while then they (I, we, you) might, - ( if they are extremely bored and a poetry book is the only bound paper in six-mile radius) - open a book of good poetry.

Next time you open a book of poetry, read it out loud. There is a lot of bad, depressing poetry out there but when you run on to a good one, it rolls off your tongue like a tasty treat. Just try it. Do fun things like reading it with a goofy English accent. (Not that the English are goofy, it’s just when I try to do it sounds gooftarded.) Read it to your wife, your kids. If you don't get it at first, read it again. Usually a good poem really comes alive to me on the third reading.

My mom read me poetry when I was a wee lad and I loved it. Did I understand it? Heck no. But some of the imagery stuck in my brain and hasn't come unstuck since.

I think reading poetry to kids at a young age teaches them the basic tenants of art: order and beauty. It is also a little more fun for the mom than reading about duck's new brother "the red beach-ball."

The mind recognizes the patterns in the poetry but cannot predict them, and the way in which the poet wields the scheme and words and alliterations and imagery... well, I think they tickle the brain in ways no one else can.

Shoot, read them Shell Silvertstein for crying out loud. And don't forget Dr. Seuss.

Here are a couple of poems that are a fun outloud read.

Mr. Grumpledump's Song - Shell Silverstein

Everything's wrong,
Days are too long,
Sunshine's too hot,
Wind is too strong.
Clouds are too fluffy,
Grass is too green,
Ground is too dusty,
Sheets are too clean.
Stars are too twinkly,
Moon is too high,
Water's too drippy,
Sand is too dry.
Rocks are too heavy,
Feathers too light,
Kids are too noisy,
Shoes are too tight.
Folks are too happy,
Singin' their songs.
Why can't they see it?
Everything's wrong!

A Considerable Speck - Robert Frost


A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When something strange about it made me think,
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt--
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn't want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.

Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Proud Hubby

I feel I must take a moment and brag. My wife is in a show! She beat-out over 200 other budding actresses for an understudy role in "Its a Wonderful Life" playing through December. She will be understudying the role of Violet and singing and dancing in the ensemble. Plus she gets paid! For those of you who don't know the theater business up here, paid roles in equity theaters are tough to come by. Especially when you are non-equity. Wahoo!!

Next stop: Broadway.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Storm a' brewin

Busy Week a' comin'.

Starting Friday I will be:

1. Flying to Houston
2. Taking my German Exit Exam at Rice
3. Attending a composition Lesson, presenting a draft for my dissertation
4. Finishing producing Carey Carrol's record (recording vocals)
5. While doing all of the the above, I'll be getting my wisdom teeth removed
6. Fly back.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dan in Real Life: Review

The Delio: Dan, played by Steve Carrel, is a widower and advice columnist with 3 daughters. Go ahead; get it out of your system. Altogether now... "Awwwwwwwwe." In my opinion, if you've got a decent director and good actors, you are set for heartstring fun-park. Dan and his daughters load up the car to go to a yearly family get-together somewhere where the leaves are beautiful. Along the way, after he drops his girl off at the get-together homestead, he meets whatshername who starred in that film about Chocolate. It’s love at first sight except for one problemo, she's dating Dan's brother ... played by Dane Cook. Not a big fan of Dane, but in this film he was pretty charming. Please Dane, play more of these films.

Anywho, I'll give you three shiny nickels if you can guess the rest of the plot. Got it? Nickels in the mail.

The verdict: I liked this movie. I laughed out loud and even got teary-eyed once for a fleeting half-second. It is cute, funny and charming. Some might be turned off by the fuzzy-sweater-cuddliness of the family scenes (i.e. the crossword puzzle competition between the girls and boys) but if you have had a family that does those corny kind of things, like "playing games together" then you'll sink right into your movie seat and laugh for more.

Final Thoughts: Dan in Real Life made me want to go home and rassle with my family. Okay, maybe not rassle but definitely play monopoly and win, eat some of my dad's chili, then laugh at someone's unwelcome toot over some nice hot chocolate while watching re-runs of Frazier.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A New Favorite Quote

"I've never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks." - Daniel Boone