i had a friend ask me the other day….


a good thought from a while ago.

Musings from Slow Pony

“What is God teaching you through all of this?”

i guess at the time i was still pretty hurt and angry.  those feelings subside and then they come right back, but i guess i do know what God is teaching me….

1. nothing suprises Him- He wasn’t like, “How did that happen?” He knew it was going to happen and He will use my situation so that He will be glorified.

2. that a true Resurrection Life is based on choosing Love over Hate-this was made very evident to me at a party i went to and a friend introduced me to his child as one who does that and i wasn’t. so today i choose to love and tomorrow, i’ll have to wake up again and choose love.

3. that apart from Him, i can do nothing-i can’t choose to love unless i’m truly grafted into Him.  that whole…

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a dream of sorts


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i have a few dreams for the creative things in my life. i want to make a record of songs written or co-written by me, and i want to make documentaries. i’ll be 43 this summer and sometimes i feel like the window is closing to do those things. there are a lot of songs, but i don’t know how many of them are album worthy, there are some great ideas for movies, but i often put those aside because of time and equipment contraints. i’ve written about fear before and that is a factor as well. i guess my question is, why haven’t i already started to make these dreams a reality? there can be a ton of excuses, but it really comes down to me just doing the things i need to do. not to worry about the money aspect of it. i could easily do a kickstarter campaign. not to worry about the creative part of it. i could easily ask a lot of my friends to contribute. not to worry about the equipment part. i have a good camera, all i need is a sound rig and a lens, heck i could even film on my iphone.

i wonder sometimes why God would allow me to have such great ideas, and not let me finish them, and i think it’s because He wants me to make them happen with other people. i realized this last week that creativity and the work can very easily be about one person. i naturally want the credit for greatness and i don’t have all of the tools to be great by myself. i have some of the components to make something great, but those components need to be shared with others while allowing others to share their greatness with me. i think that is why we need community. i love people, but often i will isolate myself from community. haven’t figured that one out yet. i do know that i am not an island and i need to create in the confines of community. i need to make the time to work with other people. i need that and so do they.

I tend to put down the auteur theory because a lot of people embraced it as a one man/one concept kind of thing, and making a movie is an ensemble.  Clint Eastwood

one of my favorite songwriters…


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happens to live right here in Austin, TX, so i have the opportunity to see him quite often as he is gracious enough to share his music with the hometown crowd. the first time i ever saw David Ramirez at a sold-out Stubbs show, he held the crowd with just his voice and a guitar. i would tell you, if you love great passion and songwriting, you should check him out.

i got to catch his set in a packed bar in the Hyatt Place yesterday and once again, he poured his heart out into the microphone. he closed the set with his song “Shoeboxes” and as i looked around at the crowd they were absolutely entranced as many of us all mouthed the words with him. we didn’t sing, we didn’t want to ruin the moment for those who were experiencing the magic of that song for the first time. i would say that David has a way of capturing the feelings we’ve all felt and that’s why he has such a connection with us.

if you are downtown at SXSW today, he’s playing a free show at the Sheraton on 11th at 6 pm. i highly suggest that you make the walk up to the lobby, have an adult beverage and be prepared to sing (silently) along.

Film thoughts…


It’s always a question of high aims, grandiose dreams, great bravado and confidence, and great courage at the typewriter; and then, when I’m in the midst of finishing a picture and everything’s gone horribly wrong and I’ve reedited it and reshot it and tried to fix it, then it’s merely a struggle for survival. You’re happy only to be alive. Gone are the exalted goals and aims, all the uncompromising notions of a perfect work of art, and you’re just fighting so people won’t storm up the aisles with tar and feathers- Woody Allen

 

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i really like the films of Woody Allen. i think he’s an absolute genius in the way he gets performances out of actors. some of his films i like far better than others and i think it has to do with that quote up above. sometimes his pictures seem incomplete, but always have amazing performances. i think as i read that quote, the thing that strikes me is that, not even Woody always believes in himself and i think that glimmer of doubt is what pushes him to greatness. one thing i found out recently was that all of the actors in Allen’s films work for union scale. they get roughly $60,000 for a picture. now to me, that is more than a years salary, but it’s no $20 million which is what most A-list stars get for movies. they want to work with him. they want them to bring out the best in them. and he does. we watched Blue Jasmine a few nights ago, and both Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins are amazing. hard to believe that Blanchett is Australian and Hawkins is English from the affected accents and characters they play. add in bang up performances by Alec Baldwin, Louis CK, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Sarsgaard and you have an amazing stable of talent.  i also love that Woody was able to pull an amazing performance out of Andrew Dice Clay, i never would have seen that coming.

Cate Blanchett definitely deserved her Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Jasmine. i love how Woody ties in her flashback scenes as she relives them by talking to herself. i actually related to her and her pain in a very real way. i found myself thinking how stupid it was as she self-destructed, but at the same time felt sorry for her. i couldn’t really tell if her insanity was what caused her to blindly look the other way, or it actually lent itself to the downfall. the breakdown in her apartment solidified some but not all of my questions. i loved the performances, but wish that Woody had really shown San Francisco like he does other cities. i also was a little let down by the ending, but i’ll let you watch and decide for yourself.

recovering a post


i wrote about my top 5 bands last year, and the post got lost, so i thought i would recover it today and add a band making it my top 6.

so here they are:

6. The Black Keys
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if lo-fi is your aim then Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have you covered. lyrically they are prolific. musically and rhythmically they always keep me wondering where they will go. i love their scaled back approach and gritty sound. also anyone who would name an album after my favorite classic automobile has to make the list.

5. Travis
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i first came across these Scottish rockers in about 2003 when i was living in the Houston area. i heard a cover of Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, and i was sold. many people describe Travis’ music as a soundtrack to park a running car in a garage, but they haven’t heard “Sing” if that’s the case. i’ve always thought that Coldplay just wished they were Travis.

4. Ben Folds Five
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Ben is one of my favorite artists ever, and when you put him in this power trio, magic happens. Robert and Darren’s bass and drums are the perfect complement to Ben’s keys. it’s like a jazz trio from the 50’s except they play balls out rock and drop the F bomb a lot. Ben calls it “punk rock for sissies”. they are known for pranking their audience at shows, and the Nashville concert from Ben’s studio that was broadcast live on myspace was pure magic. their live album is one of the 4 cd’s i keep in my car. it’s that good.

3. Gungor
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i met Michael Gungor in New York in 2006. he had won a grammy for “Friend of God” and “Say So”. he had a guitar strapped on his back and was a genuinely nice guy. fast forward to 2010 and the recreate conference in Nashville. Gungor debuts the album Beautiful Things live at the conference. mind. blown. i had not seen such artistry and musicianship in a long time. i’ve seen them about 6 times since and have not been disappointed. their live show is absolutely not to be missed. go buy their records now. now.

2. Wilco
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my friend Todd bought me “A Ghost is Born” in 2005 and i never looked back. i had to have every record by this Chicago alt-rock outfit. Jeff Tweedy is just a genius and has surrounded himself with a most amazing band. lyrical perfection coupled with controlled musical chaos is how i would describe Wilco. they unleash tasty musical fare followed by 2 minutes of frenzy. i got to see them live in 2011 and it still stands as my favorite concert of all time.

1. Radiohead
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if you follow me on instagram, it says i like radiohead, you should too. i discovered the band as many people do with “Creep”, but knew there was more as i dug deeper. Thom Yorke has infected me. i can sit and listen for hours upon hours to their music. it wavers between melodic perfection and trancelike repetition. i hope someday to see them live. it’s a bucketlist item for me. and no i’m not pretentious.

so there you have it. my top 6 bands. go check them out.

countdown to spring break…


i teach school. today is the friday before spring break.

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kids are typically going stir crazy. spring break is their last week of freedom before we enter what is called “the testing season” or as i like to call it, “the way the legislature wastes money and time”. today they seem a little quieter than they should be. that might be because some of our kiddos started their break a little early.

at 3:45, i will be free for a week, and i’m hoping to catch some great time with my wife and experience some of SXSW in Austin this week as i help bandsintown with their app. so watch for some posts about my break and i hope you have a good one if you get one.

six strings, three chords, and the truth


This list hasn’t changed for me.

Musings from Slow Pony

so my top 5 today is one that i’ve approached before, but it is one that has morphed a bit.

this list is based on my personal opinion and style with little regard to technical prowess and speed. really for me it’s about line and musicality. there are many players who could go on this list, but this is where i am right now.

so here we go with my top 5 guitar players.

5. Jared Scharff

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this guy is the lead player on SNL and basically he just rules everything he touches. he is one of the most versatile players i’ve heard and his solo work going to commercial breaks is amazing. i like how he approaches things with simplicity and his tone is amazing.

4. Gary Clark Jr.

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Austin local and total badass. this guy can flat play. you hear shades of Stevie Ray in his playing, yet…

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pfffffftttttt…..


that’s me blowing dust off of this blog….

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again…

now for the 8-9 of you who have read this blog for a while, it’s probably no surprise to you that i’m popping up again. i know that my writing is sporadic. a few years ago, i even tried to make a commitment to write every day for a year. that fizzled out, so i’m just going to try and write as my heart allows me to. during lent, i am adding instead of denying. i’m adding exercise a few days a week and i figure that means working out my mental muscles as well. so i’m going to read more and write as well. i’m hoping that it makes a difference in someone’s life, maybe yours, maybe mine. dang, it feels good to write in lowercase again.

sorry for the neglect. i hope to do better.

 

footy anyone?


something happened yesterday and i lost my top 5 bands post. i wish i had saved it somewhere else so that i could repost it, but it is gone in the vacuum that cyberspace is at times.

shifting gears i thought i’d post my top 5 football clubs.

5. InterMilan-Serie A

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i have clubs that i like in most every league. Inter is my fav in Serie A. Italian football is not a great as English football, but their fans are passionate and violent at times. the first Inter game i watched was a few years back when they won the Champions League. they also won the Serie A and the Italian Cup that year. then Mourihno left and they haven’t been the same.i liked Inter a lot because of Wesley Sniejder, but he plays for Galatasary now.

4. Celtic FC-Scottish Premiere League

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when people talk about the greatest rivalries in sports they have to include the Glasgow Old Firm Derby between Celtic and Rangers. sadly the game won’t be played this year as Rangers have been relegated due to financial issues. The Hoops have a grand tradition and have even won the European Cup. if you love good ol Scottish football then Celtic is the tops.

3. FC Dallas-MLS

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originally the Dallas Burn and owned by the soccer loving Lamar Hunt, this team relocated to Frisco, TX and became FC Dallas. being a native Texan, i would either have to support Dallas or Houston and since i lived in the North Dallas area i loved going to their matches. i will wear my Brek Shea jersey proudly and say Dallas Til I Die!

2. FC Barcelona-La Liga

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one of the greatest sides ever assembled with quite arguably the greatest player in the world. i watched Barça waltz through the Champions League with ease for two seasons in a row. their brand of possession football which has been labeled “tik tak” is interesting to watch. their side is almost all of the Spanish National Team which has won the last 3 major tournaments in world soccer. and then there is Messi. the only thing that keeps him from being considered the greatest player of all time is an elusive World Cup with Argentina.

1. Manchester United FC-Barclay’s Premiere League

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the most popular sports brand and most hated team in the world. but they are my club. i have the jerseys. i know the songs. i know the history. i love watching the Red Devils play. all of the legends have played at Old Trafford and someday, i will get to see a match there. i can’t explain why i like Man U. i didn’t grow up watching them, and knew very little about English Football growing up, but i picked a team and i will not change. Glory, Glory!!!

what is your favorite sport? who are your favorite teams?

i was ACTING!!


these top 5 lists are fun. i needed a fun break as i write.

so today, i’ll go with my top 5 actors. i don’t know if my list is on par with others, but it’s my opinion, and i like what i like.

5. Jack Nicholson

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just the incredible diversity and body of work he has done makes him one of my favorites. he’s been nominated for Academy Awards 12 times and he has won 3. he’s played the entire spectrum of roles from the Devil to a Marine Colonel. i mean he was the Joker for goodness sakes, and a great one at that. it really comes down to 5 words for me. “You Can’t Handle The Truth”. Brilliance. Genius.

4. Johnny Depp

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reclusive and just strange is how a lot of people describe Depp. i’ve been a fan of his for a while, Edward Scissorhands is personal favorite, long before his turn as Cap’n Jack Sparrow (which is a brilliant character). if you haven’t seen his work in Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you’ve missed a master actor in some of his best moments. the character George Jung in Blow is unreal and his 3 Oscar nominations are way too few for this versatile and amazing actor.

3. Bill Murray

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a brilliant comedian, his delivery and demeanor early on probably cost him some serious roles, but when you think of iconic cult classics like Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and What About Bob, his characters take front and center. then add in his collaboration with Wes Anderson and you begin to see his brilliance. it’s a shame he has only been nominated for one Oscar and has never won. his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt was overshadowed this year by another presidential performance. i think we might not have seen his best yet. “It’s in the Hole!!”

2. Morgan Freeman

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the man who could make a living on voicing Visa commercials alone is one of the most brilliant actors of his time. i mean he played Nelson Mandela. he was Easy Reader. he’s been nominated for five Academy Awards with one win, and how he didn’t win for Shawshank Redemption is beyond me. that might be one of the most brilliant and convincing performances i’ve ever seen on film. all amazing performances aside, the one line that sticks out to me is from his role as Lt. William Somerset in Se7en.  “There are seven deadly sins, Captain. Gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy. Seven… You can expect five more of these.”

1. Christoph Waltz

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pretty much an unknown Austrian actor who spoke German until he was featured as SS Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarrantino’s Inglorious Basterds. i remember leaning over to my friend after the opening scenes of the movie in which he masterfully flushes out a family of Jews being hidden under a farmhouse, and saying, “that is an Academy Award winning performance.” Waltz is 2 for 2 in Oscars with his second win this year for Django Unchained. i can’t explain how i just love to watch him take over a scene. his attention to craft and accuracy is amazing. it is frightening to watch him as he brings a calm, almost comedic presence to very dark characters. he is also probably one of the best interviews you will ever see on talk shows.  an amazing character actor who will probably never be a leading man, but it doesn’t matter.

who are your top 5 actors? honorable mention on my list are Kevin Spacey, Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.