The Speckled Mind

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Got A Bad Case of the Yuki? Try Vicks.

So what do you do if you're an indie band, you're ready to record a new album, but you don't have money to pay for studio time? Do you record it in your friend's basement (again)?

Not if the pharmaceutical industry has anything to say about it.

Turns out that some indie-music-savvy producer from Vicks wanted to use one of Anathallo's songs for a thirty second commercial this fall. It also turns out that thirty seconds of your music from your last album--when it is used by a company with deep pockets--is enough to pay for your entire next album.

Way to go, kids.

Check out this new (and very artistically tasteful, I might add) commercial by Vicks featuring the music from Anathallo's Yuki! Yuki! Yuki! from their 2006 release, "Floating World."

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

No Coffee Drinker Left Behind

A couple of odd things that happened yesterday at my place of employment.

First I had a midmorning encounter with evil of Tim Lahaye proportions. Around 10:00, I had a customer order three beverages.

Her price total--$6.66

After announcing the cost of the items, she and I joked about it as I made her latte. Then, the next customer steps up to the counter and orders two beverages, a scone and a newspaper.

His price total--$6.66

Two in a row. Now, THAT is creepy. Left Behind Ministries will be investigating the matter shortly.

The other strange bit was the 60 year old gentleman who ordered a mocha and tried to pay with his Starbucks gift card.

"Do you take these here?"

"No, sir, this isn't a Starbucks."

"I know, I just wanted to check if I could pay with it here."

Apparently the person that gave him the card didn't tell him that it was a card for a particular coffee establishment. I honestly think he believed it to be a universal coffee card. Which gives me an idea...

Wouldn't it be great if we had a barcode on or a computer chip implanted in our foreheads that was a universal gift card for coffee? That would be amazing...but would surely prompt another investigation by Left Behind Ministries.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To MLB Or Not To MLB?

Any of you who have known me for more than five minutes are aware that I love baseball. It is easily my favorite sport--I think I could watch a nine inning pitchers duel between the two worst teams in MLB.

So, when it comes time for the World Series, I'm all over it. I've been waiting for this all year; and, even though my Twins have no place in the conversation about MLB's best team, the series still greatly intrigues me.

I suppose my love for baseball was impressed upon me at an early age. I vividly remember watching the Twins play in the 1987 and 1991 world series. I'm almost positive that I watched every second of those games as a seven and eleven year old--they are some of my fondest father/son childhood memories.

Of course, that was back in the day when a kid was able to watch the world series...

Now? Well, now the games start really late, and the prognosticators blather on pointlessly for a half hour pre-game show. Josh Beckett didn't throw the first pitch tonight until 8:34 EST. That seems ridiculous to me. Sure, the networks will get their ratings, but WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS???

Oh well. To hell with the kids, right FOX? Who cares if they grow up to love baseball. Or, to speak your language, who cares if the kids grow up loving the game enough to buy merchandise, go to the ballpark or watch the world series in 20 years. Word to the wise--maybe you should care, FOX.

One way or another, I'm going to enjoy this series. Lots of great story lines--small market v. big market, Todd Helton finally getting to the series, the Rockies 20 out of 21 streak, Josh Beckett as the best post season pitcher of all time, Manny Ramirez's hair--I could go on and on.

There's just so much to love about baseball. But, of course, I've been raised to think that way.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Faith Rising

It seems we've found a church.

I can't even express how glad I am that we're done church shopping. For multiple reasons--(1) it's very trying on the patience. And, (2) the term 'church shopping,' being accepted vernacular in America, betrays that the church in this country has been hopelessly co opted by the same materialistic values with which we are called to live in contrast. But I digress...

Ok. About the church--for those who attend Hope--if you can imagine what Hope would be like if it did liturgy, you'd have Church of the Resurrection. They have the same commitment to church planting, to discipleship and they have an eerily similar demographic. Even the building reminds me of Hope (when we met on the U of M campus).

The differences--first, they do liturgy, as I already mentioned. I have to say after being in non-liturgical churches for such a long time, this is a really nice change. Liturgy, when it is done well, does a great job of telling the whole Biblical story every week.

I also really like that they do communion every week. And the way the service is ordered, it serves as the culmination of the time of worship. It's a beautiful thing. Oh, and another difference is the denomination. It is a part of the Anglican church of Rwanda--basically it is an African church plant. According to the pastor (or 'rector') the Anglican church in Africa began to send missionaries to the United States because of the Episcopal church's crisis over the authority of scripture (amongst other issues). According to the Bishop of Rwanda (and I'm paraphrasing here), "During the crisis of genocide in Rwanda, the United States turned its back on Africa. Now, in the spiritual crisis the United states is experiencing, we will NOT return the favor."

Pretty powerful stuff. It really turns the ethnocentric Christianity of America on its head.

That's all I've got for now. Happy Monday, everyone.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wildlife gone...wild?

I saw this guy today.

And how do I know it was a 'guy', you ask? Quite simple. I'm fairly confident that a female panda would have more discretion than to spread its legs and scratch its genitals for eight straight minutes.


Not that we should blame the panda. I'm pretty sure he was just doing it to spite the guy who had been pounding on the glass for ten minutes, trying to rouse the enormous animal. I could just just hear that inner monologue--"You're tired of me just laying around? You want me to do something? I've got your 'something' right here."

We also saw this, front and center as we passed the turtle exhibit. Some reptiles have no shame. Seriously.

So, all in all it was a good day for a biology lesson....complete with the inevitable question, "What is that turtle doing to that other turtle, Daddy."

...and the inevitable, "They're just playing a little game, sweetheart" response. It was funny.

Oh, and we also saw a lioness eat grass for about ten minutes, and then dry heave for about five minutes. You think it's gross when your cat coughs up a hairball. We could hear her majesty hawking it up from half a mile away.

The Smithsonian National Zoo is only 10 blocks from our apartment, so we'll definitely have to spend some more time there later. Who knows what we'll see next time...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Real Tim of Genius

Well, friends, I've done it. I've landed that big job I've been looking for.

Except, replace "big" with "part-time"...

And replace "job" with "pleasant, paid diversion from studying"...

And replace "looking for" with "stumbled upon"...

There. That looks better.

The truth of the matter is that I am the proud new owner of the title, "Barista." And before you mock me or pontificate on the stereotypical nature of this situation, I have two words for you:

Shut up.

Besides--no matter how well you can say it, someone else has already beaten you to the punch.

Just replace "Master's degree in Art History" with "Master's degree in Theology"...

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

R-I-AA...It's fun to make fun of R-I-AA

Well, the case has come back from the jury, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lost.

That's right, I said they lost.

Sure, you're going to see all kinds of news stories tomorrow morning about this case. And they will tell you that a single mom from Brainerd, Jammie Thomas, now owes the RIAA $220,000 in fines and damages. You will be told that this is a landmark, precedent setting case. You will hear from record executives all over the country that justice has finally been served, that the tide has been stemmed, and that internet users will soon terminate their illegal file sharing behaviors.

That's what they'll tell you.

But they're wrong about all of it. Except Jammie Thomas and her fine--she's (to quote Shrek 2)
"up a chocolate river without a Popsicle stick." But the RIAA did not win for the long term. Today's court decision was one of the final nails in the coffin for an industry that has shown itself consistently unable to be imaginative or forward thinking. Seriously--how messed up is it (from a marketing standpoint) to sue your potential customers? It's unprecedented, and it spells further doom for Sony, Virgin and the others. Because, the truth is, people are waking up to the reality that they DON'T NEED record companies to find music anymore. And, as online music stores like iTunes and myspace continue to crop up and synchronize file formats, people won't need the record companies to buy music either.

If you want further evidence that the RIAA is in its final throes, read Peter Carlson's excellent blog about Radiohead's plan for their new album. The short version: they are releasing it independently and are allowing downloaders to choose how much they will pay for it. Thus, if you value it, you'll drop 10 bucks or more. If you're just checking them out for the first time, you can download it for free with no guilt involved.

So, just to be clear: Record Labels=dying; Radiohead=brilliant.

When this pans out financially for RH--and I'm sure it will--there will be execs at the major labels turning their ties into nooses. A decade of reactionary and antagonistic behavior toward its consumers combined with an utter lack of imagination has guaranteed the end.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's a...nice day to....START AGAIN!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen--Billy Idol.

That might have been a little contrived. But is there really a good way to get back into this after not blogging for almost 4 months? Maybe that's unfair. I didn't blog here for four months. For any of you who missed it and are interested, the blog from our month in Europe can be found here.

There are a host of reasons why I've been absent from this corner of cyberspace, but none of them are particularly blog-worthy. The most important development in all of it is that Jess and I are now living in Washington, DC. It's crazy really. I already have a host of tales to tell, but I'll try to spin them one yarn at a time in the coming days. The most important thing for now is that DC really is a place to, in the words of Mr. Idol, "start again."

Right before I started at the University of Minnesota, one of the orientation speakers told us, "This is one of the few times in your life where you can make a clean break from your past and truly become someone new." It was good advice that caused me to think about the person I was and the person I wanted to become. This week I've felt the gravity of that same opportunity pressing down on me. And, unlike freshman year of college, I'm going to take it seriously this time.

So...I've started exercising. It's been almost a week of running and lifting weights, and tonight was the first time that I felt genuinely energized by the experience. It actually felt good to exercise. I'm also hardwiring study habits and locations--getting into a schedule to ensure that I'm as productive as possible. It's a beautiful thing.

With any luck, I'll be smart and beautiful in a few weeks time.

I guess that's about all for now. I hope I can lure some of my past readers back to me. I promise to make blog writing one of my new areas of concentrated discipline. Should be exciting.

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