oblivious action figures

yeah, yeah, it's been a while.

after my own sister told me I really needed to update my blog, and others said they thought the "refresh" on their browser was malfunctioning, I've decided to break my silence.

phoenix, new castle, columbus, raleigh - I'm now at my 4th holiday destination within an 8-day period.

while you reel in the ecstasy of my new blog post, check out the new action figures website! it kills me that we're going to miss their CD release next week. we've only been waiting for the CD to be done since before the dawn of man.

for example, I listened to the action figures "rough mixes" to keep me awake on my drive up to propose to Jodi... that was 8 months before we were married... and we got married 3 1/2 years ago.

new pics and other news coming sooner or later.


the beautiful effect is...

...one way to explain the holy spirit's work on our souls
...another excuse to use the word 'beauty'
...getting a perma-grin when you pass a cooing baby
...tongue in cheek?
...what you make of it
...what happens when you make art with titles like "american beauty", "life is beautiful", "a beautiful mind", "the beautiful letdown", "beautiful day"... the list goes on
...a testament to the overuse of said word
...finally here
...the name of my new album
...available now.



what you're looking at is the remains of my car stereo. this morning, as I finished my ER shift at 5am, I walked out to my vehicle, turned off the car alarm (which was still blinking, reassuring me of a "secure" vehicle), and looked right into my 4Runner through the shattered driver's side window. someone had just been burglin' my truck!

our hospital security said they had just ridden by my vehicle about 10 minutes earlier and everything looked fine. there was really nothing of any value inside... besides the radio. the vandals pretty much only made off with the face plate (which I'm sure was well worth their time and effort). but in the process, they mangled the rest of my radio.

so here I sit (already awake at 10am after getting home at 6am). thinking about how to squeeze car stereo/window repair into my already busy schedule this week. and about how I'm going to get all that glass out of my car!

two more thoughts. (1) I still have yet to figure how to get crowder out from inside this faceless box; and (2) maybe a new car radio with input for an ipod would make me feel better?


funny video

this kid reminds me of people in goldsboro, NC. for those of you who haven't lived in the south, the word he keeps saying is "fixin" - but in the deep south, they say "fit'n."

thanks to ashdown for the link.


11.19.05 - club ark (and star wars)

we were blessed to play at club ark again this weekend. mad props to Myron and the club ark crew for being so hospitable! i'd totally forgotten how rad the smoke machine and lighting were at club ark. sorry no pictures lately - i keep forgetting to charge the digital camera.

carl deese (bass player in my band) opened up the show with an acoustic set of originals. love that loop-delay thing dude! "my boooooooooo...."

for those of you who don't know, I have an unhealthy pre-occupation with lightsabers, star wars, and the like. while jodi was out of town this weekend, I fell asleep and woke up several times to our new DVD of episode III. it was pretty much playing around the clock. and, if you'll recall, I also had a Star Wars birthday party last month.

our dear friend, Paul Deluca is aware of this. he knows me well, and he's heard me carry on about this fascination of mine. so you can understand my dismay when I realized, as we were in the middle of our set, that people were playing a Star Wars game on Xbox! Paul and I had been playing Xbox earlier that night. Paul was the one who walked over to all the games to pick which ones we played - these included Mike Tyson boxing, some Nascar race game, and Tiger Woods golf - they did NOT include anything resembling Star Wars.

understandably, I was very upset with Paul and am now trying to forgive and forget. just like I did when he tried to burn our house down with a bag of microwave popcorn....


11.17.05 - the Rock, ASU

tonight we were spoiled with a group of students hungry for worship. they asked us to do a whole service of singing and communion. the Holy Spirit was in the house, and the Rock definitely showed up to get some. good vibes all around - the Rock rocks!

with all the delays of our new CD coming out, we've lied to this group the most. every time, it's been like "we'll have the new CD next time we come." and next time we arrive empty handed again! wish we'd taken some pictures - but maybe next time?


business = busy-ness

here's what my last few days looked like:

wednesday: had band practice 4-6pm, then worked 7pm to 5am at the hospital.
thursday: practiced 4-6pm, then worked 7pm to 5am.
friday: band practice 4-6, then 2nd band practice 6-7:30, then gigged on ASU campus 8:30-10pm... then worked midnight to 7am!
saturday: slept about 3 hours, then had band practice noon to 2pm. tried to nap... but couldn't. then rolled to the crash competition by 6:30.
sunday: up by 6am to play drums at crosspointe.
sunday afternoon: nap time!

no towels! need sleepy!


11.12.05 - crash competition semi-finals

we did a 3-song set at the semi-finals of the crash competition (local battle of the bands-type deal). only by some Grace and a large number of votes from our sweet fans did we squeak into the final round by nabbing the wild card spot.
carlsbad... no really, he's a pretty bad dude.

kurt (aka the gimp), wahba, and josh's arm. note the custom kick drum head with wahba headphones. watch out, Warrant!


11.11.05 - faithful city @ ASU

kurt, tim and I did an outdoor acoustic cafe with the very cool Faithful City ministries. they are an all Asian/Indian-American student ministry with such sweet, kind folks. we were a little chilly (for Arizona), but good vibes all around....

tim hitting the dumbek and djembe.

the beast (between me and tim) makes us a quartet.


best week ever... or best week this month

much to catch up on from this past week. here's the run-down....

wednesday, 10/26 - my birthday! we led worship with youth for truth at grace chapel (who were so warm and fuzzy). then went off to buca di beppo for a late b-day dinner with carl, leslie, jodi, josh and paul. i'm feeling pretty stinkin' old. trying to embrace the 31-ness.

thursday - finished mixing! done. that's it. no more for me to DO to get the album DONE, because it's done. I've already uploaded my whole album to the mastering engineer's website (see "monday").

friday - i finally got to sit down and play around with my birthday gift - an ipod! i'm going through the slow process of ripping all my CDs and getting them onto this monster. i've already used 10 out of 60GB on it. and we're not close to being done with loading up!

saturday - after more toying with the ipod, jodi and I went to a halloween party at a grad-school-buddy's house. she was a flapper. I was a sumo wrestler - the costume was inflatable with a fan that kept me looking more sumo than I already do. slicked the hair into a bun and the whole deal. please don't ask for photos. it wasn't exactly a fond halloween memory in the making.

sunday - did acoustic worship at crosspointe in the morning, then had my birthday party. jodi really went all out for this one. she made me homemade carrot cake. all the cups, music, decorations, and prizes were themed around star wars. we divided into teams and played games like light saber-balloon relay races, and pin-the-light-saber-on-the-vader. she even got me my very own light saber (not a real one of course). you rock, boss!

monday - today is mastering day. I'm biting my fingernails about this one. I've never had a real pro try to master - or even listen to an album I've produced. the mastering engineer is a gentleman in Nashville named Hank Williams - he's mastered several grammy winners/nominees, as well as the latest records by DCB and Passion.

sorry so long. we'll try to keep up. hope you're well!


campus crusade - 10.19.05

this week, me and josh led worship at ASU's campus crusade. so, so, so cool. it was one of those times when there was little need for a worship leader, and an incredible need for 100+ college students just to sing songs and clap and make noise for God. Alex, Jack, and the whole ASU Cru crew were mighty hospitable.

"yyyyyou should have a wrinkly collar like mine"

-paul 'p-diddy' deluca

after the worship gig, we headed to my big fat greek restaurant on mill ave for the meat lover's platter.

we boys ate our fill, mm-hmm.


done recording... another setback

as of today, we're done with recording for the album!

jj heller and her husband, dave, came over to record the final few vocals for the album. i've already mixed 3 songs - 10 more to mix in the next few days. i'm so thankful to the Big Man. yippeee!

today I realized another setback though. my mastering dude no longer works with the same company. he might not even be doing mastering anymore. I liked him so much - and the work he did on my last album was amazing. not to mention, he was the cheapest person with a dedicated mastering studio i'd ever met.

having to choose another mastering studio/engineer will most likely cost me 3-4 times what my other guy would have cost. there might be good news about who I end up choosing though. we'll keep ya posted. meantime, if you get a minute, please pray for us as we mix and master over the next few weeks. thanks so much.


let the mix begin

it's a wednesday and as of today, I'm all done recording (with the exception of one female vocalist we're trying to get into the studio next week).

and I'm almost completely done editing all the songs. this is where I painstakingly go through each vocal, guitar, bass - everything recorded - and "clean up" the track, getting rid of extra noises and making sure everything lines up and fades nicely. the goal is to set aside mixing days for just mixing and not much else.

speaking of which, I'll (Lord willing) start mixing this saturday and through next week. all going well, we should be started on the mastering process by the last week of October!

in other current events, as I type, Jodi is on the very last hour of her comps (comprehensive exams - three lovely 9 hour days of intensive testing, with questions custom made by her advisor based pretty much on everything she's ever learned). it's the last major milestone in getting her PhD before she actually completes her dissertation.

so life kinda sucks. i'm waiting for my wife back while she waits to get her husband back. hark! the end is in near sight!


getting closer...

as of today, I *think* i'm pretty much done with all the vocals on the album. finished "saint" and "my Jesus" this week. I've still yet to record some odds and ends - a possible guest female vocalist who will remain unnamed until she is actually sitting in my studio recording harmonies on 2 of my songs. kurt's solos on "saint." also a cello track or two. some extra guitars on "my Jesus".

then comes track clean-up and digital editing. and we're off to the mixes. I've actually called discmakers in an effort to have everything's lined up when the dang thing is finally mastered.

it's a beast. but a fun, playful, rewarding beast.

meantime, we're practicing every day this week for the crash competition. my drummer, Josh, has been using an in-ear click all week, and he's sounding pretty darn good. hopefully we'll start using it for every practice, then start using it live. that will be a huge relief.

okay, i'm not really talking about anything of any real consequence, so i'll go to bed now. g'night. G'bless.


recording update

well here's what's up with the recording:

-jodi told me I needed a shower today. this tells me I've been spending lots of time recording. this is a good thing.

-yesterday, I lost a song. lost it. the whole thing. my computer froze, stopped playing a song while I was recording a track, made a farting noise, then restarted. when I went back, the entire song (about 1 GB) was gone. fortunately, I purchased a backup external hard drive just last week and was able to restore everything. He was definitely looking out for me on that one.

-we're close! about 80% done. a little vocals, a little more guitar, some cello and tambourine. then mixing, mastering, artwork, photos and replication. okay... so we're not very close.

peace up


props to google

so last week, jodi's experience with google went like this:

she was trying to remember some boy-band from the 80's (incidentally called "the boys") and did a google search for it. unfortunately, what came up was a link to a child pornography website. not only did it come up as a regular link - it was a sponsored link (i.e. part of a pay-per-click deal where google gets paid 5-20 cents for every person that clicks on the link). the ad pretty much said "come see little boys get r#ped for the first time".

jodi was understandably upset. so we wrote an email to google together. here's part of their email response:

"... please note that we do not accept advertising for child pornography on Google. I have investigated the site that appeared for the search phrase you mentioned and have taken the appropriate action...."

we did another search and the sponsored link was gone.

so we can now use google again. and we're both happy we didn't have to take this onto the Factor.


slashed tire & worship in the desert

okay, so maybe it wasn't slashed - but it looks just like someone sabotaged our transportation out to yuma for our gig last night. i swear i wasn't going all that fast. good thing we were in a 4runner and not one of those ford exploders.

Fred and the whole crew at Foothills Assembly of God were so warm and fuzzy. and man, can they worship out in yuma! we really felt at home there and hope to go back soon....

kurt shows his "affection" for sirena. you should have deleted this while you had the chance....

paul, jodi, and leslie - workin' the merch.

the bad boys of Christian rock. is that possible?
of note is the el bandito facial hair stylings of yours truly.
keep or shave? that is the question.


nashville, part 2

yes, two posts in a row about nashville. except that one was about a gig....

and this one is about a hurricane evacuee.

we've found someone who wants to stay with us for a couple of months. I won't mention her name until everything goes through. but we're excited to have connected in this huge world. please pray for her. she's at a church in nashville right now. she needs shelter. she needs transportation. she needs a new life. and like all of us, she needs Providence too.

-j & j


nashville cancelled....

... well, not the whole town of nashville - just wahba's appearance there.

I was scheduled to be part of an indieheaven.com showcase at rocketown (the name of a song, record label, and now club in nashville, all affiliated with Michael W. Smith, a.k.a. CCM diddy).

I put a lot of thought and prayer into this trip. I would definitely have been going into the proverbial 'hole' with this one. flight expense, paying Steve (my percussionist from Ohio) to come down and play, hotel, rental car, GAS!

and not to mention that, well frankly, I can't stand nashville.

to be fair about my unreasonable, unfounded opinion of this town, I've never really been there. I've only heard about it - and what's worse - I've heard the music that comes out of it.

I'd prided myself on the notion that I didn't need nashville, and therefore would regularly boast my intentions of never associating myself with the town.

alas, despite my complaining and bragging, the first opportunity I had to gig there, I took.

come on, admit it - it was a good opportunity, right? and I had a good chuckle with God at his calling to get over my apparent loathing of the town.

I'm getting to the point, I promise....

last week I found out the gig was actually in the 'coffee bar' area of rocketown (they have a main stage, a skate park, and a coffee shop). then I found out that the noise and the clientele (mostly youth I guess) usually make for a noisy, somewhat chaotic atmosphere in the coffee bar. evidently, at the first indieheaven.com showcase last week, it was difficult to hear artists play and pretty distracting.

so... the showcase has been moved to a coffee shop at a church in Franklin, TN - which I'm sure is a great place to play, but very similar to lots of coffee-shop-in-a-church places I frequently play here in AZ.

so yeah. we cancelled. and I hate that word. cancel.

mad shout-outs to ken who was trying to arrange an envoy from NC to come see us in nash-town. maybe someday soon... but then, maybe never?


hurricane housing update

we'll we've spent 4 days trying to adopt Katrina refugees and have had no successful leads.

we've signed up on about 10 different websites and haven't had anyone call or email. we've even considered going down to the Veterans' Coliseum (where over 1000 Katrina victims currently reside in close quarters) and just picking out a couple or family.

unfortunately, they have the place protected and even volunteers can't get in unless they have an assignment for that particular day and a special card to swipe.

so we're planning to volunteer - jodi's doing some training and volunteering this week - and I'm talking to some red cross folks about volunteering medical services.

we'll keep ya posted on the quest for our new family members!



by tomorrow, over 1000 hurricane victims will have been flown into Arizona. jodi and I have decided to try and host hurricane Katrina victims. interestingly, when we googled "housing katrina victims" - we got lots of news stories, a few website links, and NO churches or denominations!

if you're in the state of Arizona, the AZ department of housing and urban development (866-641-8102) has a list of those who want to host hurricane victims.

and while we don't necessarily align ourselves politically with MoveOn.org, we've placed an ad on their housing list. pray about this with us....

MoveOn.org just launched a website, http://www.hurricanehousing.org/, to connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a place to wait out the storm.
You can post your offer of housing (a spare room, extra bed, even a decent couch) on
http://www.hurricanehousing.org/ or search there for housing if you need it.

MoveOn will pass requests from hurricane victims or relief agencies on to volunteer hosts, who can decide whether or not to respond to a particular request. The host remains anonymous until they reply to someone looking for housing.
I just posted my own offer. I hope you will too, or pass this on to people you know:



wedding crashers

jodi and I saw wedding crashers for her birthday this week.

it was so funny. we could've done without the raunchy parts - but the dialogue was flippin' hilarious - and the Will Farrell cameo was perfect.




i've learned from gigging around Phoenix that around here, you can't have a large draw to an event simply because a band is playing, or because of any event gimmick. what seems to attract large numbers is an already established community. the 'build it and they will come' mentality doesn't seem to work here. flyers and advertisement just don't bring large crowds to see a band.... that is, unless, the name of the band is coldplay.

though I'm not a huge fan, my drummer josh dragged me to the show. front row!

i was pretty impressed. they had an enormous crowd. and they put on a really good show. chris martin is definitely an entertainer (though i've never seen a male skip as much as he does). the lights and visuals were tasteful and spectacular at the same time.

i probably won't buy their new album, but i'm glad i got to see them live.


gigs x 5

we're beat! just got done with 5 gigs in the same weekend. after the experiment on friday night, I led worship at crosspointe's mens breakfast saturday morning.

then we were off to tucson for a huge gig at The Cool Church (tucson community church - TCC - get it?). everyone at TCC was so great. warm, friendly, supportive.

josh shed blood yet again - from a splinter in his hand this time. and we were praying the whole night that he wouldn't fall off the back of his drum riser. he played so hard that one of the boom mics fell down. the pastor from TCC told him he was "an animal." we think that's a good thing.

this was probably our biggest crowd as a band. and we hit an all-time record for number of CDs sold in one night! super big thanks to ken and toby at TCC. hope to see you again soon!

next up was worship sunday morning at crosspointe - kurt led from electric while I played drums and sang.

and finally, this afternoon we played a worship set at eternal books music - a sweet PoMo christian bookstore with plasma screens everywhere and their own custom painted H2. Eric, our host at eternal, was the real deal, fo' sheezy.

they have a full band setup inside their store with speaker stacks, lighting, and a camera that feeds images of the band to a couple of the TVs in the store.

to sum it all up... we're tired. mad props to kurt and josh for hanging in there all weekend. you guys are the best!


the experiment

"good grief, it's a three-piece!" -abby 6

here are some pix from the gig in phoenix tonight. the kids there were fun and Mike was such a great host.

paul trying to hide from the camera.

in other news, jodi had a makeover today. here is a picture of her goth-eye.


recording funk

sheesh! that vacation took some serious momentum off the recording process.

it has now been over a month since i've even recorded anything. i've been back for a whole week from vacation and all the busy-ness of life has kept me away from doing what i'd been thinking about the entire time I was away.

so here i sit, praying for motivation to get things kickin' again. except my whole guitar rig is at the church all week. and i'm working night shifts, so my voice is definitely not where it should be to record vocals. poor me!


home sweet brick box

the tour/vacation is finally over! it's actually good to be home - our brick box in the desert. to sleep in our bed. to take a decent shower.

all in all, i loved being on the road. visiting with folks. playing a lot. people were so generous and kind. out of the 100 CDs we took with us, we only have 9 left.

here are some goofy pics of jodi wearing her grandmother's accessories....

nice shades.

members only. c'est tres chic, no?


07.29.05 - 07.30.05 - meadville, PA

here are some pics from meadville. everyone was so supportive and encouraging. the worship leader, Brent Henderson even took a back seat and played keys without singing a whole lot - very humble for a guy who toured the world and used to write with Steven Curtis Chapman. the worship band there rocked too.


07.29.05 - cleveland, OH

steve and I had one of our best shows last night. good turnout. great venue - the sound and lighting made all the difference. i screwed up a few lyrics, but the vibes were good in the room.

lots of great responses from jodi's friends and family... and from a few strangers. a curtain was up so that casual coffee customers could hear, but not see the show without paying.

our youngest fan, 3 week-old Keller. congrats Zack and Shelley - sorry the picture's blurry.

i guess the seekers stage has been graced with the likes of the ragamuffin band (rich mullins' former band), the lost dogs (kurt would be giddy), shaun groves, eli, zoegirl, and a few other national christian acts. hoping they get one of these in AZ - we could use a nice clean christian venue.

we played till 11pm, then packed up and drove from cleveland to new castle. got in at about 1:30am and we play meadville tonight. i'm LOVING life on the road.


more butt-arms

we had a little too much fun with the camera phone and our elbows.
reminder: these are the arms, not the back-sides, of adults and kids....

jonathan's arm.

our nephew luke. he's only six, and it's already hairy!

above is my butt-arm. kinda chunky, eh?

this is the most hairy and freckle-covered of them all. the butt arm of my brother-in-law, kosta:


kelly and deke were so sweet. they let us crash in their basement when we played in columbus. the only condition was that their little anna had to show up on the blog....

anna too close.



07.28.05 - columbus, OH

columbus was a blast. not the greatest turnout. but susan and the crew at the mustard seed were such great hosts.

got to have dinner with my sister and her family before the show.

steve and I are getting tighter as a duo. just in time for us to part ways after tomorrow's show. he's a great guy and an audiophile like me (e.g. he and i casually conversated about velocity-sensitive distortion on wurlitzer keyboard pads).

the road to columbus (leads to me?)

jodi driving - eyes on the road, girl!

capitalizing on god's wonders

the grand canyon
intimate human "relations"
niagara falls

what do these things have in common? they're all god's creation, made for us to enjoy, and taken by us to make money and earn status.

i was thinking about niagara falls. how god made it for us to marvel at. to enjoy and appreciate. and then how we, mankind, have built up this shiny, ritzy, money-making frame around it.

i feel the same way about human "relations" - we've exploited it with pornography, entertainment, clothing.

and although worship music is an 'industry' i'm currently pursuing, I've started to feel similar vibes. guess it's one of the many things we'll look back upon from heaven, realizing that aside from jesus, we had it all wrong.

we play columbus tonight. praying I don't ruin it with notions of status and income.


the butt-arm

our 6-year-old nephew luke taught us how to make an arm look like a butt.
we're fascinated.


the falls of niagara

a rule of thumb on tours it to keep the overhead way low. we've not followed this rule very well. airfares, 2 days in cedar point, rental vehicles, eating out, and... a trip to niagara falls!

jodi and I went with her parents, and her brother's family, including their porcelain baby doll daughter, shannon. i'd probably been to the falls about 10 times - my family lived in ontario for a while growing up. but somehow, when my parents took me and my sister, we managed to miss a few fun things....

i finally made it onto the maid of the mist - fun and refreshing since it was a hot day. the horseshoe falls are fast, massive and overwhelming. can't believe god made something so huge for us to enjoy and appreciate.

and we went onto the US side for the cave of the winds tour. you have to do this! we were blown away by the sheer force of those falls. a great reminder for us to fear god a little more.


07.24.05 - new castle, PA

pastor mark and the gang at first church of god in new castle were so sweet! they welcomed me and steve back with so much enthusiasm.

the congregation responded so well to our tribal worship set (me on acoustic, steve on djembe). at the end, someone shouted out "tug!" - and we got to do one more song as the pastor dismissed the service.


07.23.05 - greenville, PA

"what do you think about me coming to greenville?" - action figures

the Jamhouse was my first stop on this here tour. got to meet steve mokris - my percussionist for the tour. he responded to an ad I put on craigslist just 2 weeks ago - I love technology....

cassie, john, and martin were mighty hospitable - helping us load in, load out, serving us yummy coffee, popcorn and just being nice folks. steve and me slammed through 2 hours of music - much of it improvised since steve had never heard the songs before.

afterward, we had a competition on one of those playstation dance games where you have to stomp on the arrows at the right time. kylie jo sat in for me and beat the snot out of jodi. then cassie from the jamhouse made all our jaws drop by doing a dance that involved both (player 1 and player 2) dance pads!

me and steve.

the dance-off - sorry so blurry - new camera phone.

cedar point

jodi and I spent our 3 year anniversary at cedar point - and it rocked! we went with friends Shana and Eric (aka "the honeymooners"). here are some highlights.

i went on all the coasters, but i wimped out on the ocean motion.

their newest ride, the Top Thrill Dragster goes from zero to 125mph in about 6 seconds, then shoots you vertical for about 400 feet. this was the longest wait, but the shortest ride.

i've now perfected the art of listening for jodi's scream - i could be 100 yards away and still know when she's on a particular ride.

my favorite was probably the raptor.

good times and a great anniversary. the tour starts tonight. i get to meet my drummer (we found each other on craigslist) today too. stay tuned....

eric, shana, and jodi - note the demon drop in the background.

jodi in the hotel lobby.