Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cello with Steven Sharp Nelson

So I went up to Salt Lake a few days ago to work with Steven Sharp Nelson on recording cello for the new album. I had sent Steve the piano tracks around a month ago for him to start listening to. Partly due to his preparation, but mostly due to the fact that he is a pure musical genius, we were able to get all the cello stuff recorded in one day.

Because of logistics, I had originally done some recording with another cello player for the new CD. The music just didn't have the feel I was looking for, and Steve has a real sense for the feel of my music. I ended up scrapping all the cello stuff I had recorded previously.

I'm very excited about how the album is turning out. Keep your eye here for updates on final stages of the album, including songs and an album cover.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Musician Paranoia

I just returned from a trip to Salt Lake to record cello for the new CD with Steven Sharp Nelson (more about the recording process another day when I’m not so tired).

I was a tad paranoid during my four and half hours sitting in the car as my mind thought about the recording session. I thought about how amazing Steve sounded, and worried that maybe the microphones picked up nothing but static (which has happened before). The logical side of me knows this is irrational because I heard the music through the headphones as it was being recorded.

I worried about a computer or external hard drive malfunction, and the fact that literally countless hours of work on the new album hang precariously inside a piece of plastic and metal called a flash drive.

From what I can gather, all musicians are paranoid about stuff like this. We pour our hearts, souls, time, money, and creativity into songs and baby them like we’re raising a child. I’m going to the laptop now to listen to the songs and make sure my paranoia was unfounded.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Redeem Team

I am really sad the Olympics are over. I have welcomed the lost sleep in return for the excitement, inspiration, and enjoyment of the games. The biggest dagger in the back was when NBC ran a commercial for the much-anticipated return of "America's Got Talent" RIGHT after the Olympics ended. Ugh. That's like going from eating cheesecake to eating scrap metal. Pitiful.

I got goosebumps listening to the National Anthem as the USA's "Redeem Team" won gold in basketball. I was also touched by the act of the players who felt it wasn't fair that their coach Mike Krzyzewski didn't get a medal, so every player put their medal around his neck in a showing of gratitude.

I'm looking forward to the baseball playoffs starting soon so that at least one thing of value will be on the television.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Allyson Felix Has Skinny Legs

I saw another cool Olympic moment a few nights ago. An American runner named Allyson Felix was talking about how kids always made fun of her in school and teased her because her legs were so skinny. But instead of laying the smack down and saying "Look at me now jerks! I'm winning medals in the Olympics! Do you want me to help you remove your big fat foot out of your mouth?!?", she took another approach. She said:

"I think back to those kids on the playground. I just want to thank them for motivating me to do great things."

(I know that's what she said because I thought it was so cool I wrote it down.) Instead of whining and complaining about her childhood woes, she used those challenges to fuel her. She has mastered the old adage "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Talk about a good life lesson on how to handle the challenges we have in our lives.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wanna Bet?

A few nights ago, during a commercial break from the Olympics, I switched channels and found something on television that was worse than "America's Got Talent". I didn't think such a show existed, but now I know better.

The show is called "Wanna Bet?" I only saw three minutes of the show which consisted of four washed up "celebrities" betting whether or not a moving crew could fit a bunch of couches into a truck in under three minutes. Out of the four "celebrities", I had never heard of two of them. I recognized one from a very small part he had in a movie. It was such a significant part that I don't know what movie it was. The fourth "celebrity" was Tom Green who was cool on MTV. Ten years ago. Librarians are bigger celebrities than these guys.

I mourn for the status of television once the Olympics are over.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

I just found out a good friend of mine is really sick and looking at getting a heart transplant soon. This friend has helped me in many ways over the last ten years, including being a sounding board, giving suggestions and advice, and maybe most importantly just being an an example of a really good guy.

If there's anything that can come from health struggles, I think it is the blessing of reminding the one suffering and those around them to not sweat the small stuff. When a friend is facing something like this, the little dramas of work, or a gallon of spilled lemonade on the kitchen floor, or a broken air conditioner don't seem like that big of a deal.

I suppose that's how we should be living life everyday. Don't get worked up about the little things, and by all means, don't take anything for granted. It's unfortunate that it takes something like this to remind us of what's really important. I know I'll be spending some extra time on my knees tonight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I found this new Christian album by Phil Wickham called Singalong that he has made available FREE on his website. The whole CD is only an acoustic guitar, a really good singer, some really good songs, and a backup choir. It's a little different than I'm used to, but I've listened to it a lot since downloading it, and I really like it. Some favorites are "Desire" and "Beautiful".

The only cost of the CD is registering your email on Phil's mailing list. After having heard his music, I would have done this anyway. These songs are definitely worth more than an email address. Two big thumbs up for the CD, and my two big toes up to Phil for making this album available to a wide audience. Check it out!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Clock Cleaning Courtesy of Michael Phelps

I have LOVED watching the Olympics over the last week. I think it's worth the sleep deprivation I've been experiencing to watch the games late into the night.

I've most enjoyed watching swimmer Michael Phelps clean everyone's clock at everything he does. I wish I could shake that guy's hand and tell him thanks for his expertise in clock-cleaning. Eight gold medals! What!?! There's nothing that boosts patriotism more than watching a guy in a swimming pool whooping every other country and making competitors cry for their mammas.

With his six-hour daily workouts and sleek, toned body, I have a hunch that my wife likes watching Michael Phelps swim for different reasons than I do. That's okay. The guy deserves another medal for actually making swimming exciting to watch.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Me and My Carp Burps

I bought a bottle of fish oil capsules a few days ago.

“Why?” you ask?

Because Oprah told me to.

“If Oprah told you to jump off a cliff, would you?” you ask.

Of course I would. When the most powerful woman in the world tells you to do something, you do it.

Okay, after that first line, everything else is a complete and utter lie. I don’t watch Oprah. My wife rarely even watches Oprah which to some females probably sounds anti-American.

I bought fish oil capsules because I read numerous sources citing their extreme health benefits. You know, the omega 3 fatty acid stuff, heart health, and building your muscles to look like an American Gladiator. Woops, I lied again.

And now….the rest of the story. I hate seafood. Just the smell of someone else partaking in aquatic foulness makes me queezy. I don’t understand the hype of seafood. A serious problem has arisen in my quest to be healthy and take fish oil capsules. It’s a problem I have unaffectionately termed “Carp Burps”.

A half hour after ingesting these horse pills, I feel like a trout is trying to swim upstream right out of my mouth. And all his friends are swimming around in my upper intestines ready to follow him. It reminds me of the old-school Saturday Night Live when Dan Akroyd put some fish into his “Bass-O-Matic” and made a “delicious bass shake.” I’m positive that I’d have the same taste in my mouth from a bass shake as I do from these fish oil pills.

I’m going to do my best to man-up, load up on Tic-Tacs, and try to work past the carp burps. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My $5 Magnet

I was up in Park City last weekend and we stopped at a little book store to buy a souvenir for the kids. I found one for myself too: a $5 magnet. You may think I may need to wipe the "SUCKER" sign off my forehead for buying a $5 magnet. It had a cool quote on it though so I didn't feel bad pulling out my wallet.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...
-Jack Kerouac

This doesn't describe who I am, but who I'm trying to be. Instead of what he described, I'm often mad to sleep, or mad to eat junk food. I'll work on this though. It's a darn good thing I have a $5 magnet to remind me what I'm shooting for.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good CDs

I’ve got a few CDs I need you to check out:

Chris Tomlin – See The Morning: I regret that I hadn’t become familiar with Chris’ music years ago. His music is so strongly crafted that it’s no surprise Chris is at the top of the inspirational music category.

Chris Tomlin – Arriving: In the realm of positive, uplifting, inspiring, hopeful, and superbly written music, there aren’t too many musicians that can match the level of Chris Tomlin.

Ferras – Aliens and Rainbows: I first heard one of his songs on American Idol. On rare occasions I hear a song that I can’t, for the life of me, get out of my head. It is so well-composed or written that I can’t get it out of my brain. Marc Cohn’s first CD was full of songs like that. This is another one of those rare CDs where most songs are so catchy that a pry bar couldn’t get them out of your skull.

Jon McLaughlin – Indiana: An awesome mix of energetic songs and personal, revealing, introspective tunes. I’m surprised Jon’s music isn’t on the radio constantly.

There’s nothing worse than shelling out some hard-earned dollars for a CD that turns out to be worse than rotting catfish. If you’re looking for good music (just click on the links), I can assure you that these are some CDs which will fit the bill.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend Up North

We just returned from a relaxing trip to northern Utah. I had a few minor things for work, but then also got to have some fun in Salt Lake and Park City. Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Mackie, and Mel's sister Angie, Mel and I had two days where we didn't have to get food for three little mouths before getting our own meals. Two days of shopping without whining (I admit, I did whine a little about the shopping). Two days where we could take a nap on OUR schedule. We got to see a movie without wondering if the kids would make it through. It was glorious. It was glorious.

When we were in Salt Lake Mel and I also went to a concert by a group called Remedy Drive. We got to meet the lead singer and drummer before the show which was cool. Here is a video of their new song called Daylight. I guarantee you a CD that you'll like it. Go ahead - give it a try.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Saturday Night Sleep-Over

On Saturday a bad noise started in our house. It sounded like our air conditioner was in labor. Or in the process of turning into a gorilla. Or having really bad diarrhea. Or preparing to meet it's maker. Then it died.

In case you weren't aware, southern Utah has been hovering around 108 degrees during the day. Without the luxury of an air conditioner, it doesn't take long before your clothes are sticking to you like to got dunked in rubber cement.

We tried to sleep in our house Saturday night. Despite our strong will, it just wasn't meant to happen. Our girls came downstairs with dripping foreheads. Yea, we had a grande sleep-over at Mel's sister's house that night (thanks Matt and Renee!). Thanks to a good friend, we finally got the air conditioner fixed and were able to sleep in our own house Sunday night.

Next time an appliance has to go out in the middle of the summer, I nominate the toaster.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dad Party Day Four

Our trusty internet has been down for a few days delaying our Dad Party updates, so here you go:

We started the final day of the Dad Party with a lemonade stand. Jackson had been talking about it for days and we figured Saturday might be a good day to do it. He had everything elaborately planned out. Sadly, after an hour, the kids had sold three cups and the heat had done them in. I decided to buy them out and paid them each fifty cents. The Dansie’s also contributed a dollar to the cause which was really nice. The kids were happy about that.

For lunch we went to McDonald’s and the kids played in the Germ Zone. Oops. I mean, Play Zone. Truth be told, I took them there for a selfish reason. My body was begging for a fatty, calorie-infested, artery-clogging, greasy Big Mac. My body begs for one every few months. I can’t help it.

Against the resistance of some pre-schooler/ kindergartener / second-grader attitude we managed to get the house cleaned up before Mel’s arrival. The Dad Party was like a long vacation: you’re glad you get to do it, and you’re glad when it’s done. Welcome Home Mel!

Dad Party Day Three

Dad Party Day Three was a little mellower than previous days. One slight snag in today’s Dad Party is the fact that my throat feels like I swallowed a porcupine. He’s currently doing summersaults near my Adam’s apple. Grrrr. We did the park again this morning, and then just took it easy around the house. I got a little nap which was nice.

You want to know something else that’s been nice about having Mel gone? Five words: Leaving The Toilet Seat Up. I haven’t gotten guff about that for three days! I’m generally a considerate male who puts the toilet seat down so no females end up sitting in water, although it does seem a bit sexist that males are always the ones having to adjust the toilet seat instead of females. If it minimizes guff though, I’m willing to do it.

I got a music order today from someone in Canada who said that a friend sent them my CD from Iran (Iran!?!) who got it from a friend of hers in the Czech Republic (Czech Republic!?!). Crazy. I want written in my obituary “He had a fan of his music in Iran.”

The excitement of the day came from Jackson losing a tooth. He has seriously been wiggling this tooth ten hours a day for the last three days. We finished up the day with a movie and anticipation of Mom being home tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dad Party Day Two

Dad Party Day Two went really well. I’m coming to realize that sleeping in is not one of the perks of Dad Parties. After some time on the exercise bike I joined the kids in coloring some pictures. In the afternoon we stopped by the library and happened to walk in at the exact moment that a magic show was starting. Although the kids looked like orphans, I decided to let them be seen in public anyway. The magic show was a hit.

We got a pizza for lunch and headed to the park to have a picnic and play. By this time the temperature outside had equaled that of a pizza oven, but the red faces were a small price to pay for time at the playground.

Later in the day, I became a hero in the Reese household (and to the neighbor boy) when we heard the ice cream man coming down the road, and “put some bread in his jar”. Granted, I shelled out $7 for some frozen treats but the kids were almost as excited as when we told them we were going to Disneyland.

The day concluded with dinner and a trip to the splash pad. Over the course of the day I managed to 1) do the dishes, 2) cook dinner (better than last night), 3) do a load of laundry, 4) get the whole upstairs, (which was previously a tornado disaster zone) cleaned spotless with the help of three little kids, and 5) vacuum the house. I AM MR. MOM.

Lessons learned from Dad Party Day Two:

1) I could be a stay-at-home dad and love it.

2) It’s much easier to get the house cleaned when you make it fun and be willing to help out instead of just telling the kids to go clean up.

3) It’s nice to have a wife around for moral support, and to be there for an adult conversation, and to cook good food, and to have someone to laugh with, and to have someone to wrangle kids when I’m worn out, and to have someone who would smile and support paying $7 for ice cream.