Laying Out Gate Clothes

I am in the middle of writing a song for the soon-to-be-recorded X-Alt CD (tentatively titled “Funky Shui”).  I’m having a really hard time finishing it, because it’s so different from most Christian music, and it’s such a different perspective than the one I usually put forth.

On its surface, it is not an optimistic song at all.  It is not written from the mountain top, looking back with thanksgiving over the recently travelled valley.  It is a song written from deep inside the valley.

It is one step short of despair.  It makes the listener ache.

The song is more about a mood than any one thing.  I put myself inside the minds of the prisoners we visit.  I’m writing from the perspective of my friends who have dire medical situations.  I’m writing from the point of view of my brothers – one has a degenerative muscle disease that has been stealing his strength since he was 17, the other just got laid off by an employer he served for 27 years.  I even borrowed from our own money situation (up until last week); savings gone, no more coming in.

Mostly, I was inspired by the story of Sascha Weinzheimer (as told in Ken Burns’ documentary The War).  In short, she was a girl roughly my own daughter’s age in 1942, part of a wealthy family who owned a sugar plantation near Manila when the Japanese took over.  She ended up, with the rest of her family,  in the internment camp the Japanese set up on the walled campus of the Santo Tomas University.  There, her life slowly descended into Hell. After almost 3 years, they were finally rescued by the 1st Cavalry Division on February 3, 1945.

I won’t totally recount her story here, in fact, I’d like you go to this site,  and read the chronological excerpts from her diary. It truly is compelling.  I’ll wait for you.

Two excerpts that appear back-to-back stand out to me:

January 12.
People are dying every day from starvation. Fred Fairman and Mrs. Everett yesterday. We have such a short time to go ““ what a pity they couldn’t hang on to life just a while longer. Mother weighs only 73 pounds ““she used to weigh 148 ““ and Dr. Allen says she has to stay in bed from now because she can’t walk.

January 17.

Buddy’s favorite expression is, “Let’s talk about food.” He has a favorite suit, too, which he calls his “Gate suit.” He’s been taking this suit out almost every day for months, putting it on the bed and saying, “I’ll put my Gate things right here Mummy, so I can be ready.” All of us have something saved to wear out the Gate. All of us except Daddy who has been bare-footed now for six months. “I don’t need a thing for the Gate except two good legs to walk out with,” he said.

“what a pity they couldn’t hang on to life just a while longer.”

“All of us have something saved to wear out the Gate.”

This is the place I’m writing the song from.

On second thought, this might be the most optimistic song I’ve ever written.  It’s about that moment when you are chained to the floor, when everything in the universe has lined up against you, and you can see no way out.

Yet, you defiantly believe there is a way out, nonetheless.

The Universe tells you to curse God and die.  Against all hope, you lay a suit out on the bed.

I think this is going to be a pretty good song.  I hope to get it completed soon.  Going to that place is a little draining.

It’s Neat, But I Cringe

A while back, I told you that X-Alt had gone to the studio and recorded a new theme song for the locally-produced television show, Nashville Gospel.  Well, Ford Prefect had a surprise for us this morning.  He’s edited the new show opening, and posted a sneak peek:

This is quite snazzy.  Ford is a very good producer.  The interesting thing is, after I left the studio that day, they finished the mix and brought my vocal up to lead level.  It makes me cringe a little; this one was right at the edge of my range.  Everyone else did a spectacular job of singing.  But, like I said, Ford can produce the heck out of video.  You can also hear Ginger prominently in this one.  The song, done in an old-time style, was written by Mark Mills.

I can’t wait to see Nashvill Gospel “on the air” again!

Also, today is Ford’s (OK, his real name is Vince) birthday!  I know how old he is, but I won’t post that here.

I Wonder If There Will Be Swag?

This looks to be pretty interesting:

Músico a Músico announces Nashville Conference of Praise and Worshiping Arts

I wonder if they’d want X-Alt to present on how to navigate church politics?  How to re-invent yourself after you’ve been fired?  How to fit 11 people on a 15-foot stage? How to vary your service based on the congregation (for vagabond acts such as ourselves)? How to develop a thick skin, because grumpy, picky congregants are not shy?


Seriously, I’m very interested, if only as  an attendee.  To say that Nashville has a thriving praise and worship scene is an understatement.  There is some real worship going on out there, in little churches dotted across our city, if you look past the megachurches.  And even there, you can find worship. 

I’ve been in more diverse churches, diverse in every way, in the past 3 years than most people see in their entire lives.  Most people lack that perspective; I wish you could see what I’ve seen!  I’ve seen every type of worship there is; some focus on “spirit”,  some on “truth”, the best ones have a balance.  If it is Christ-focused, it’s ALL good. 

Misc Stuff

Lintilla and I would like to thank all of you from the bottom of our heart for your kindness and well wishes.  They lift us more than you’ll ever know.  You are a blessing beyond measure.

Today is the craziest day known to man.  I have to “electronically” fill out an FMLA form, I’ve got to do it today, and the online system we use to do that with is down.  Pah.  We’ll be in Birmingham tonight and Florida tomorrow.  I haven’t packed yet.  I have to drop off the dogs at the sitter’s after I pick up the kids from school. I’ve got insurance companies to call, and who knows what else I’ve forgotten.

(To would-be robbers: go ahead and break into my house while we’re gone if you must.  You think I give a crap?) 

About half of our men’s rooms at work have the automated faucets; the other half are manual.  I wonder if I’m the only one that stands there looking like a fool with his hands under a manual one, waiting for the water to come out.

What the heck is ABC thinking, having a new Ugly Betty on Thanksgiving?  (Before it was ‘work’, I would have been quite pleased with this).

Y’all, mark this date: December 1st.  New Beginnings Church is having another coffeehouse, but this one is different.  It will be Christmas based, for one thing.  There will be no cover charge.  X-Alt will be singing many familiar Christmas songs.  Our friend, the incomparable Jim Weber will be there again.  Channel 4’s Jennifer Herron will be hosting again.  And, we’ll have a a huge treat:

When X-Alt played at Word of Life Christian Center a bit ago, we were blown away by a choir called “Sounds of Life”.  There was also a 3-man group called Men-U (Men United) that had the tightest harmonies I have ever heard.  Well, folks, these two groups are going to be at our coffeehouse!  It’s going to be so great have such a wide cultural and musical diversity on Dec 1.

I’m telling you, you don’t want to miss this.  Many amongst us have had rough times this year; some of us are going through them right now.  What we need right now is overwhelming Joy.  I can tell you right now – I’m a little ticked off.  My family is under attack, in health, spiritually, financially.  Many others are too.  But, whatever our demons…

We can let go and be overcome with Joy.  No preaching, no pressure – just a night of therapeutic music and Joy.  You know you need it – Lord knows, I do.  There are some of you who have never come to an X-Alt event. We don’t care if you are Christian, we just want to play music for our friends.  No charge.  I might even let you crash at my house, if you feel Bellevue is too much of a drive.  I’d just love to have you there. Some of you hard cases, whom I am disappointed to never see at these events,  can expect an email from me soon.

Let’s tell all that negativity in our lives to kiss our collective butts and kick off the Christmas season right!  Mark it down – December 1st.

Finally, I’m going to Costco during my lunch hour.  Anybody need me to pick up anything?

Cancelled Due To Lack of Appetizing Funds

There will be no Vandy/UT Slarti Party.  It would appear everybody has to clean out their sock drawer. 🙂

I think the fire kind of got un-kindled when Vandy lost that heartbreaker to Kentucky, and UT looked so strong against the Hogs.  Suddenly, the game looks like it might be another painful memory for Vandy fans.  We’ll see.

I still might take up Susie’s offer to have chili and yell at her TV this Saturday, though.  I’ll be seeing a lot of Susie this weekend anyway, since X-Alt plays a Sunday service at New Beginnings, then travels to Springfield to play another Soul Food Sunday up there (how the heck am I going to maintain my weight is all these churches keep feeding me? Praying for baked chicken…)

But first, I have to get over this nagging sinus infection.  Bleh.

Cue The Ohio Players

This last 24 hours has been an adreneline roller coaster.  I’m about spent.

First, let me update you on the situation with Trillian.  She’s serving an in-school suspension today, along with three of her peers.  The three of them took a fourth girl, held her hands behind her back, covered her mouth, and punched her.  It gets worse. 

This is apparently an extreme extension of a clique.  The fourth girl (the victim), was a member of this “club”, but apparently let others in on it.  This girl is Trillian’s BFF, they are normally inseperable.  This was basically a mafia-style beatdown.  I’ve gotten the “it was supposed to be a joke” excuse, and I don’t doubt it, but Trillian needs to learn that such things are not joking matters.  As the principal told her, if this was high school, she’d be in jail now.

I’ve given her the clique lesson before, but obviously it didn’t stick.  I’ll let a few days pass, then I’m going to have a long talk with her to let her know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of bullying. She and her friends are good kids, but this was a very, very poor choice.  I’m hoping the lesson will be learned.  The BFF’s parents are good friends with us, weve already talked and everything is fine between us.  It would appear that everything is OK between BFF and Trilian, and that’s a good thing.

Now onto happier matters.

Last night at the Wildhorse was an incredible experience.  It’s the largest stage I’ve ever been on.  I was pleased to learn that Ginger was able to make it.  Ginger, or at least her camera, took the most amazing photo of us on the stage.  I hope she posts it soon.  We kicked butt, although we didn’t win any prizes.  I had a HUGE stage to act a fool on, and I did my best middle aged David Lee Roth impression.  The musicians and singers were incredible;  it might be the most energy we’ve ever displayed on stage.  I’ll tell you more when I’ve recovered – it was that much of a rush.

Finally, over at my other place, I was contacted by a major magazine about an upcoming cover story, and given a scoop!  It’s quite a lot of fun when you’re actually taken seriously by real journalists.  Yes, I know it’s part of their marketing plan, but it also helped me immensely.

Like I said, this has been quite a rollercoaster.  I need a nap.

You Have A Date At the Wildhorse

This has turned into the busiest, craziest week ever, but I couldn’t let this morning pass without letting you know of a wonderful, fun event coming up on October 30th.

Media Challenge

It’s the Media Challenge Talent Show! This event benefits United Way, and here’s the fun part: the participants are bands/acts that have at least one employee a local media outlet. Well, Channel 4 has Ford Prefect, the best ad guy in town, and he happens to be in a Christian Band named X-Alt.

That’s right, we, (X-Alt), will be representing WSMV.

There are a couple of contests involved, the most important of which involves the raising on money.  As each band plays, money will be collected in the name of the performing act.  The band that raises the most money wins!

We have every intention of winning.

So, I’m asking all of you who can, please come to the Wildhorse Saloon on Tuesday, October 30th.  And, even if you can’t please get in contact with me or with Ginger; we can pool our money ahead of time and have someone present donate it at the appropriate time.

The show starts at 6 PM, and we’re counting on you.  Please come, help support the United Way, and X-Alt!  Cover charge is $5 and anything else you can donate would greatly be appreciated!