No, the title doesn’t mean anything.¬† Just a Seinfeld quote. ūüôā

So 2011 has wasted no time buring its brand on my mind.¬†With the loss of Gary Miller, founder and member of Vocal Union, it’s been a slow go in terms of shows and updates.¬† Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support.¬† Even though the shock of Gary’s loss has smoothed out a little for the general public, please don’t forget that his absence is still very real to his family.¬† Please visit www.vocalunion.com to see how you can help.

Most of my updates have been in a somewhat real time format since we picked up a Facebook page.¬† That’s left this blog on the proverbial back-burner for quite a while¬†(I’ve read more than a few blogs, and I’m amazed at how many blog posts are simply apologies for not posting in a while).¬† I’ll try to keep up from this point forward, but events that have happened up to this point are kind of blurry to me right now.¬† I’ll not rehash that.¬† I’m trying to be a realist.

So far the biggest change here is the updated iWillBe page and the addition of the iWas page.¬† As always, I’d love to see you wherever you can make it!

We had a crazy, awesome weekend this past weekend in Austin, Texas.

As you know, I tour with Vocal Union, but what you may not know is that Karen and I have been blessed with a great church and a great relationship with the Fourth Avenue Church in Franklin, Tennessee.¬† It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s absolutely worth the 30 minute drive from Murfreesboro.

Through that church we have been allowed to use our God-given gifts with Ken Young and the Hallal worship group, and this past weekend was another example of how God has smiled on that ministry.

We boarded the plane early Friday, connected in snowy Chicago, and arrived in the sunny Lone Star State around Friday lunch.  The Hallal group was commissioned to conduct a worship conference called Stream at the Westover Hills Church. 

Karen and I will be forever grateful for our new friendships and our refreshed relationship with God.  If there is ever a Stream near you, it really needs to be among your top priorities to go.

Check out www.hallalworship.com for more details.

The days grow short and the gray alleys of mid- and early mid-twentieth century nostalgia are fading and breaking into small, brittle pieces. His mind now is like a photograph pulled from the wreckage of forgotten storage.  The corners are gone, and the tape that had repaired it a long time ago has browned and is crackling.

He barely and fully remembers days of clothing that was original, not throwback. Days of art, music, experience and experiment, all wrapped up in browns, burgundys, deep greens, and yellows. The film lies.  He imagines their time smelled of must and neglect.  They were happy, hardened, and as ignorant as any generation before or since. Their sports were rougher, their smiles were earned, and they became his history.

One by one, another piece of the photograph mingles with the dust and gnats at the bottom of a suitcase. Memories caught in time now forgotten, now crumbs. They laughed on the hood of a car on an Indiana back road. They squinted their eyes and smirked in the sun. They stood in the school parking lot with their huge collars and folders. They gathered in his great-great-grandparents home, or at least in their honor. In the corners sat the sages and elderly, “that’s my uncle” or “I don’t remember him.”¬† In spurts are the sporadic splashes of the younger, newer members of the family, up close, mouth open, eyes wide and smooth.

The scenes are blurry, the trees have silver garland and popcorn. The dresses had belts, the hairdos had wings, the pants had plaid. The glasses were black, the hats were dapper, the televisions were forgotten.

Weak images of strong recollection. Pieces of a single frame.  He prays to see them move, breathe, wink, cough.  His petition granted with a catch: silence.

In their background, they must have the constant rattle and hum of¬†running from spool to spool. It’s all¬†he knows of them, and they¬†have to¬†be hearing it, too. There must be large spots of dust in their world that appear then disappear as quickly. Their mouths move, but they don’t speak. There is background music, but¬†he doesn’t think they hear it. If they do, they continue to smile, smoke, laugh, hug, and blush.¬† They move so much more quickly than he remembers.

They struggle with the same sins,¬†he believes. Theirs are far more hidden, of necessity. Their tastes are simpler than his own, yet more complex than their parents’. Their word is their bond, and¬†he will never again hear their bond. Their love is deeper from the start. “Till death do us part” meant they were both leaving, together. They, too, are a cycle, and their memories are crumbling just like his. Tin crumbles, too, and gathers, stains, and fills the space between floor and bed.

The screen goes blank. The spool beats the projector in hopeless rage. The vinyl goes white.  The room goes black.  Suddenly he feels he is a picture in his own hand.

The pictures fade. Their images are soon stock. No one remembers them anymore.¬†His wrinkled hand hurts as it grips the faded, little paper. Drops of moisture are no issue by now. He can’t really save them. He knows so much more than they, and so much less.

They are now names that another explorer in a distant generation will discover in a library, and those names will be called branches. And those branches will hopefully¬†make an herbal salve, healing wounded consciences that are unclean because they belong to fingers that didn’t write, hold, call, or wave.

The explorer hurts.

His memories are brittle, too.

One of the new shots from the latest photo shoot is on the website now. Check it out: www.vocalunion.com
While there, figure out which show you get to come to!

Another year of MLB in the books. For the first time in 56 years of west coast baseball, the Giants have won the pennant. My baseball year was over after the Braves lost in the first round of the playoffs. It was a good send-off for the bog #6, Bobby Cox.

Now that the NFL near or around the halfway mark, and the NBA is completing its first week in the 2010-11 season, my thoughts turn to my fantasy NBA and NFL teams.

I’m running two NFL fantasy teams and one NBA team. Only one for money, therefore, only one matters (ha!). I’m number one in the money league, but I’ve let a lead like that slip away before so I’ll have to keep you updated. That lead could’ve slipped away this week had I not faced a guy the matchup who forgot to set his roster. I’ve had two straight weeks of typically high-scoring players who have barely crossed the 5 point mark. Rough, i tell ya.

Right now I’m finishing the Colts game out of mere addiction. I switched to ESPN Fantasy this year, and the free, live FantasyCast has me glued to the computer screen with brief stints watching the actual TV screen. I say addiction because I won my matchup yesterday, but I still have Schaub and Garcon in play (neither of whom have come close to the analysts point predictions).

Life’s been hectic of late. Work’s forever unspeakable because of regulations, so let’s just say it’s been good. Now I just have to live up to the standards I’ve set myself. Church has been fun because of several leading and praise team appearances. Touring has been light of late, but we’ve added personal travel to make up for it.

This past weekend I had outdoor show in west Tennessee. The weather has been a bit strange, and to prove it, I got a sun burn in October! I drove myself out there so I could get back to the house in time to pass out candy for Halloween. I tried my best to break the speed laws, but it didn’t work. I guess it could have, but we bought a fire pit just before I left for the shows. Our neighbors have a tradition of passing the candy out from the driveways while gathered around fire pits. I love that because I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy one. When I got back to the house I had to put it together, and by the time I did that, it was too late. Karen and I lit a fire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows together on the back porch. While Karen wishes we could have been together for the trick-or-treaters, the time she and I got to share on the back porch made the speed demonic trip home worth every mile!

This weekend we get to visit family in Indiana. My great-grandparents are celebrating 70 years of marriage together. Not many people have or will be able to enjoy something like that, so I consider myself almost as blessed as my Nina and Grandpa. I hope Karen and I live long enough to share that with our families.

Next shows will be weekend after this coming one. We’ll be in the Chicago area, so you who can come, I’d love to see ya!

Well, we decided to rejoin the Facebook world a little while ago.¬† We tried to simply start from scratch and build it from the ground up, but to no avail.¬† Of all the shifting things in our lives, one of the few constants has been our e-mail address (same one since 2003).¬† Since we didn’t have another one to turn to, I attempted to log-in using the old account.¬† It worked, and I was face to face with an online time capsule.

1,200-1,300 “friends” were sitting there having gone on with their online world, and I’m not sure that many of them even noticed I was gone, or at least I hope they didn’t notice.¬† Karen and I took about an hour or more shaving down the list to essentials–people we know now and don’t mind reading what new recipe they’re trying out or how big a mess their kid or dog left in the living room.¬† When we finished there were only 192 left.

A week or two later, we’re approaching 500 friends, and even though we didn’t necessarily want it to get that big, I’m proud that we can at least say we know them all.

There’s no real set criteria for who we’ll add.¬† We didn’t set out with a formula or anything.¬† But here are a few trends I’ve noticed in our “adds”:

  1. Do we go to church with you?
  2. If we go to church with you, would we hang out with you outside church?
  3. Are we related to you?
  4. Did we go to school with you?
  5. If we went to school with you, do we want to know how you’re doing now (which mostly has to do with whether or not we liked you then)?
  6. Are you a part of good memories?
  7. Do we wish we could spend more time with you, but simply do not have time to call you regularly?
  8. Do we work with you?
  9. If we work with you, do we like you? (after looking at the friend list, I think a couple may have slipped through that crack)
  10. Are you more concerned with getting that beer in your hand in the pic than your face?
  11. Would I hire you if your Facebook page were your resume?
  12. Do you dress like a whore?
  13. Do you let your daughters dress like whores?
  14. Does your online representation make us want to beg Facebook for a “dislike” button?

(If the answer to any one of 10, 12, 13,¬†or 14 is “yes,” you will not be confirmed as a friend)

Again, those questions are not a formula, they’re merely a result of observation.

On another note, I enjoyed an evening of whole wheat pasta at Macaroni Grille with my wife.¬† She’d had a hard day at work, and just wanted to chill a bit.¬† I don’t mind a $50 meal at all when I know we can sit across the table and talk without the television stealing our attention.¬† It’s not her fault this time of year.¬† It’s too hard to pay attention to anyone when the ALCS and NLCS are both running.

The only real distraction was that stupid waiter who sings Happy Birthday in Italian.¬† I have no idea how we do it, but it seems like every time we go there someone is celebrating a birthday.¬† I’d rather hear the Mexicans manage a yelling mumble of their version of the song than hear these MG goofballs.

I do, however, love looking at Karen during that nut-job’s song and being able to make fun of it together without ever saying a word!

It’s a good life.

Off the road for the¬†next two weekends!¬† I’m¬†pretty stoked about some good¬†Saturday time with Karen for two straight weekends.¬†

Actually, it’s a bit difficult to step away from music for that long.¬†¬†Thank God for¬†Ken Young and the Fourth Avenue church, though.¬†¬†Ken asked¬†me to¬†lead worship again while he’s in Alaska this Sunday, and next week¬†is fourth Sunday so Karen and I¬†will be on¬†the praise team.¬† The last time I led, he was in Texas, and man it’s easy to see why he loves what he does.¬† He’s put something quite special together with that team and Hallal.¬† Karen and I will get to sing on the praise team the following week, as well.¬† A thirty-minute drive to church (where we’d be anyway) to do¬†some singing is hardly a taxing task.

The last Vocal Union show nearly wiped me out.¬† The ironic part is that we barely sang (two 30 minute sets at Silver Dollar City).¬† We didn’t take the bus to Missouri because so many of us brought our families along.¬† From Friday night to Monday night I threw a little over 1,000 miles on the old Accord.¬† Love that gas mileage!¬† Karen’s parents and brother came with us, and we tore that town to bits.¬† Between the rides, the mini-golf, the TWO country fried steaks I ate, and all manner of other goods, I drove and laughed myself into a week-long weariness.¬† I wouldn’t change a thing!¬†

We’ve added¬†a few dates to the schedule.¬† Of course, the Paris and Illinois dates stand, but we’ve added¬†three shows in North Alabama–Karen’s home region.¬† The weekend before Thanksgiving we’ll be in Florence, Athens, and Joppa, Alabama.¬† Florence is Saturday and the other two are on Sunday.¬† Not sure what any of them are, I just know I’d love to see any of you if you can make it!

AND let me tell you just how much I’d love to see you there:¬†I got a call this morning from one of my best friends in the world, Paul David Kennamer (PD, for short).¬† He needed me to do a show with them, but because of the bookings in Alabama I had to turn it down.¬† The kicker of the deal (here’s the bitter part) is that show he needed me for is in . . . (wait for it) . . . Bermuda.¬† Yes, freakin’ Bermuda.¬† I turned down an island gig to do a North Alabama gig, so you’d better be there!!! Ha!