The Healer and the Pirate

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Monday, January 31, 2011

A Rotterdam November (Revisited)

First off, High Flight Society made their goal! :)

OK, so writing a review of an album you've only listened to a few times, on a deadline? BAD IDEA.

It's kind of like going to a party and meeting someone for a few minutes. At that first meeting, you might have the idea that the person is the most fascinating person in the world...only to later find that they have three good stories, and you just heard them all. Or, you might think the person is really boring, only to realize later just how much you enjoy their company.

Or what if you have a friend who you haven't seen for a while who got a haircut? You may not like the haircut the first time you see it just because it's DIFFERENT, but after a few days it grows on you, until you realize you like it as much or more than you liked his or her old style!

In short, my previous review of "Love Is..." by A Rotterdam November was not really fair because I hadn't had enough time to let the album grow on me. I liked it OK when I reviewed it, but now I find it one of my favorites. There are some wonderful and even haunting melodies in songs like "Three Words," "Problematic" and the almost 1980s sound of "A Song To Take You Back."

And some lyrics are just catchy and interesting and kind of sweet, like "Some things you get will be with you to the grave/But there doesn't have to be a funeral today/Don't have to give, give yourself away." (And like I said, "Letter" would melt most girls' hearts.) A lot more emotion on this album, even if the situations are more everyday for most of us than epic wars that occurred over 90 years ago.

AND I never once mentioned David McCormick's beautiful voice! Now if only they would put their lyrics and explanations online like they did for their first album, it'd be pretty perfect.

So anyway, no, unlike their debut album, there is not one hard-rock songsthat instantly made me want to sing at the top of my lungs the very first time I heard it. But on the balance, I found more excellent songs on "Love Is..." than the (also excellent) debut album.

They also play a good set live, or at least they did at RAGE.

I did take a couple videos but my camera does not get along with the amps and the audio quality was so poor, it wouldn't be fair to them.

But if you would like to hear them and maybe pick up "Love Is...", they are currently touring with Everyday Sunday. Dates are on their MySpace, or below. Check them out!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashback Friday - January 28, 1921

Most news stories are from January 29, 1921, because the stories would have mostly happened Friday.


--The New York Times, January 29, 1921

The US produced over 443,000,000 barrels, and consumed the "unprecedented" amount of over 531,000,000 barrels. The article notes the US is becoming more dependent on foreign supplies. Based on data from 1920!.

Now if this government page is accurate, we use over 18,000,000 barrels a day--that's 6,851,415,000 barrels a year--not quite 13 times more than in 1921. About half of that is imported.

Not trying to get political; just find it interesting that some of the things we worry about today were concerns 90 years ago.

With film recording making up most news stories, you don't see many descriptions like this anymore. Though I don't know why there were two different spellings of the same place. Then again, I'm not French...


Burial Beneath the Arc de Triomphe Is Completed With Simple Ceremony....

--New York Times, January 29, 1921

The article is very artistic. I think Americans tend to forget World War I since we took so long to enter into it, but America felt it keenly at the time, and it really hit Europe hard.


So-called "Consumers' Strike" Did Not Affect Buying Here.

--New York Times, January 29, 1921

There was a pretty serious recession in 1920-1921 (deflation, decreasing wages, and I read unemployment rates may have been 12%). Sound familiar? As far as I understand, things were awful for farmers, too. Unfortunately, most pages on the topic seem to be highly economic and/or political.... Anyway, when I write about the 1920s it tends to be later in the decade, so I'm not so up on this part. I will work on it.

And I couldn't quite find any good info on the supposed "consumer's strike" referenced above but this quite is a little chilling. Too close to today (replace "coal" with "oil").

The 'consumers' strike' so vociferously denounced in recent weeks has a twofold origin: the actual straits of many families and institutions at a time of lowered incomes, and the absence, so far, of any authoritative statement why the price of coal at the present time should be higher than a year ago when retail prices of almost all other commodities are falling.

--The Survey, Vol. XLVI - April, 1921--September, 1921

Let's conclude with a happy story! Even if some of the language is rather old-fashioned.


Got 100 Per Cent. In All Studies but One--Plays, Dances and Sews....

--New York Times, January 29, 1921

The story tells about 14-year-old Rosa Cohen, who led a public school, mixed-gender class of 35.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Busy Wednesday

I don't have much to say today, really. I'm going a little slower than I wanted for my work in progress "Flight from Endwood." I hoped to have it finished by the end of the month, and I'm a touch behind. Believe me, if it were a hard and fast deadline I would have worked harder to get it done, but it's more of a "I'd just like to be DONE and work on another project!" date.

But without a hard deadline, how could I turn down a get-together with co-workers at a pizza place? (Delicious, by the way.)

In fairness, a little of the procrastination is that I got a new phone! (I got my previous one in November 2009, and have been complaining about it since...November 2009 + 2 days.)

I think it's about as powerful as the first computer I bought. If I can get a working microSD card, it will have considerably more "hard drive" space. Even without additional storage it's working out decently so far. AND it has a place for a cell phone charm!

Yes, that is Silvermist the Disney Fairy. I had Fawn on my old phone (in memory of a wonderful trip to Disneyland in June 2010, when we happened to meet her and Tinkerbell). Oh, I love Disneyland.

I'm thinking about changing my background to black with two blue ovals and making my phone look a bit like EVE from Wall-E. What do you think?

Anyway, despite such obstacles as playing with my shiny new toy and trying to get its memory card to work in FOUR different devices, I'm nearly done with the second-to-last chapter of Endwood, and the last will be an epilogue. God willing, I'll be there soon.

Got some great (positive) feedback on my collaborative novel, so that's great news! I'm wondering if we should just buckle down and edit it, then start sending it out...

I don't know. If I don't have anything interesting for next week, maybe I'll just put up some ship pictures? What do you want to see, anyway?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flatfoot 56, Circle Pits, Outcasts, Bands, Free Download

Flatfoot 56, "a Celtic punk band from Chicago," is one of the more prolific bands that plays Rage Fest, and perhaps the only one that played this year that has complete crossover appeal. They play in clubs and the like more often than Christian events, and they actually took a break from their tour with secular band Authority Zero to come play Rage. Whether they are your style or not, it's well worth seeing them in-person, if just for the spectacle. I like it best when they play the occasional Gospel song (they usually play "Amazing Grace", at least at Rage, and sometimes "I'll Fly Away").

Of all the bands at Rage, you're also perhaps the most likely to get trampled at their concert, between the stampedes, circle pits, and so forth. Then again, maybe not; the security guys love Flatfoot 56 and always have everyone's back.

Yes, that is a circle pit around the sound booth.

Oh, and Flatfoot 56 has a free download of "Courage" on their webpage (on the right side, near the top)! You have to give them your email but I got the MP3 just fine.

OK, I don't think that just because a musician is on-stage, that gives them any special knowledge about God (or anything else except maybe life as a musician). But, Tobin (I'm almost sure it was) of Flatfoot 56 noted that God was laying on his heart to tell everyone that Christians need to make an effort to befriend the outcasts--that person with a nervous tic is the only example he mentioned that I recall, but basically befriend the friendless and such, citing his experience with special-ed kids as one of the most positive things he's ever done (I'm paraphrasing here). The thing is, Tobin mentioned, Jesus ministered to the people on the fringe of society. Not that He loved the rich and the people who had it together any less, but as followers of Christ, we're called to be like Him.

Good stuff, particularly poignant given that he was talking just one weekend after the Tucson shootings (committed by someone I'd definitely consider an outsider and outcast). As to HOW to implement that advice? I'm really not sure, unless I'm meant to go volunteer somewhere, which is good, but the opportunities you see often don't encourage more than a one-time interaction. Maybe reaching out to more people online? Retirement homes?

He also mentioned that if your friend has a problem, you can offer to pray with him. And he mentioned how hard it was to be a band out touring, and said that if you have a band that the Lord lays on your heart, you should not only go to their concerts and buy their merch(andise), but he noted that it was even more important to pray for them every day. I've picked my band and am going to TRY to pray for them daily for a year (starting mid-January).

One interesting thing about Christian bands, though--they don't tend to last terribly long (I can't compare stats with secular "indie" bands, which are the closest equivalent I can think of). Often they'll just put out an album or two. On the one hand, I think it's sad that they can't continue forever, particularly the ones who play the most awesome worship music (Delirious and Ever Stays Red come to mind). But on the other hand, whether they have financial success, whether they ever get famous, if they're doing what God asks of them, they're successful. I'm not a musician, but I know if I wrote a book that God wanted me to write, and it brought one person to Christ, I'd consider it a success. Not to say I wouldn't get frustrated if it had no visible success, granted, but if you're following your calling and your passion, there's satisfaction in that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flashback Friday - January 21, 1921

Again, I mostly take stories from the Saturday after, because the stories themselves generally occurred that Friday. Aside from huge stories (and not always then, even), news wasn't really instantaneous in the early 1920s. Radio spread throughout the decade, but in 1921 it was really fairly obscure, kind of like the Internet.


Brooklyn Man Asks Why Princess Cantacuzene Pleads for Russia's Starving....

--New York Times, January 22, 1921

Julia Dent Cantacuzène Spiransky-Grant (1876-1975) married a Russian Prince in 1899 and moved to Russia with him. She was there during the Russian Revolution and she wrote a book about her experiences. If you believe it, she eventually moved to Sarasota, Florida! Can you imagine seeing so many changes in your life? She was reportedly born IN the White House, while her grandfather was in office, and became a Russian princess, moved back to America, was divorced...never mind the technological and societal changes she lived to see. I can hardly even fathom it!

Old-time Ponzi schemes. The article linked uses rather more blunt language than we see in mainstream publications today, such as "gullible.":


--New York Times, January 22, 1921

Not only did there not used to be income tax at all, but the tax code has become so complex, they've added a full month to the deadline we had 90 years ago!


Those for Small Returns to Be Distributed Next Week.....

--New York Times, January 22, 1921

I find this job listing interesting, as it allows men or women! Worth reading the linked article.

The Civil Service....

--New York Times, January 22, 1921

And a shout-out to Bisbee, Arizona!


And Three Firemen Risked Their Lives--It Was a Dog.....

--New York Times, January 22, 1921

*All articles believed to be in public domain per US law.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Write for Publication?

Writing progress report: I have another chapter of Flight from Endwood up for critique (33!). 34 has been kind of sort of written, and I think I just have one more chapter to go!

And, last weekend I found an Alphonse Mucha calendar (no nudity even). His art is just the type of art I want to see on the cover of my (eventual) next novel, so it seems very appropriate.

Last week I talked about why I write, and I promised I'd answer the question, why write for (traditional) publication?

Writing for publication is not the only way to get your work out there. If you give your writing away for free on the Internet, you just might end up with more readers than if a big publisher had your book. (That works well for webcomics; I don't know about novels.) If you sell your book for a small fee on Kindle, you have a potential to make thousands and reach tens of thousands of readers. Even if you want a book to hold in your hands (and e-books may make those a bit obsolete), there are several ways to accomplish that, with and without going through a traditional publisher.

I'll try to sum up some of the different means of publication as quickly as possible:

*Vanity press = more or less, the author pays someone to print his or her book

*Print on demand = the author uploads his or her book to a site like . When someone orders a copy of the book, the publisher prints a copy just for that person; the author gets a percentage of each purchase of the book, based on how he or she priced the book.

*E-books = like print on demand, minus the print aspect. When someone orders a copy of the e-book, they get it delivered digitally, and the author gets a percentage of each purchase of the e-book, again, based on how he or she priced the book.

*Traditional press = may or may not pay an advance to the author. Author probably gets a percentage of the sales (provided that amount exceeds the advance). An editor probably looks at the book and suggests revisions before it is printed. Small presses might use print on demand or e-book technology, as referenced above, but in this case the press will determine pricing and the author's share of any profits.

I bring all these options up because it was just a couple years ago that I discovered that to most people who don't write, a book is a book. They don't know or care how it was published. From interactions I've seen online and in person, a lot of people consider a print-on-demand book to be about the same thing as one printed by a small press, and maybe even as good as something from Random House. They seem to see it as, you have a book with your name on it! You're an author! I have a copy of a book that I got printed through just for fun and yes, most people I've shown it to are wowed that I wrote a book and am "published." I duly explain that no, I just got this printed out, but I'm still not convinced that they grasp the difference.

Writers, on the other hand, will often argue that you need to be accepted by a publisher in order to really be an author. It can be very hard to get published traditionally. Publishers have very narrow definitions of what they will accept, and finding a publisher can literally take years. They may request substantial edits to the manuscript, some of which the author may not agree with. Small-press publishers can have significant overhead as well, meaning that a book you could have sold for a good profit at $9 a copy, they might need to sell for $12 a copy, which can reduce sales, while still delivering smaller profits to you personally. Publishers on all levels still expect the author to do a lot of the work of promoting the book; many publishers do little or no marketing of their authors' novels anymore. I've also heard it said that publishers really want you to submit a near-ready-for-press novel; they're supposedly not even interested in editing anymore! (An editor I saw at the Tuccon Festival of Books disagreed, but he did seem old-school (and wonderful!).)

And if you're a Christian author writing anything besides category romances like Heartsong Presents or Steeple Hill Love Inspired, many big publishers won't even look at your book unless you have an agent. Meanwhile, it's very difficult to land an agent if you haven't been published.

On the other hand, quite a few people have had success selling their novels as eBooks on Kindle, for instance, with no particular publisher. When I say success, I mean I've heard of people selling thousands in a month. One person on the critique site I frequent ( says she has sold over 20,000 copies of one book.

I'm sure those successful e-book writers generally work very hard to achieve those numbers, and I think these people often sell their books at a low price. But even if you make 35 cents profit on 20,000 books (which I understand is the norm for a low-priced book), that's $7,000, which is more than a lot (most?) authors get from publishing with a small press, and about the size of some advances. Meanwhile, I've seen small presses that offer advances of $10 and consider 300 books sold a success.

So, with all that in mind, why write for traditional publication?

I think the main motivation for being traditionally published for most people is probably validation and respect from one's peers and from some third party authority. I imagine it would be an incredible self-esteem boost to have a publisher accept your work. And fellow authors and authors' groups usually (not always!) consider self-published authors to be the same as amateur or unpublished authors. It can be hard for self-published authors to find promotion opportunities. And of course the (few) famous authors you hear of are all (eventually) traditionally published. There's something to it.

When it comes down to it, very few novelists make a full-time living on their writing, regardless of whether they're traditionally published or self-published. One (of many) reasons I don't play the lottery is because I'd much rather be blessed by becoming a rich novelist than just winning the same amount of money...and the odds of winning the lottery are a bit better than being a rich novelist, I think. So it's probably a matter of putting your book where God wants it to be, and not so much getting rich.

I'm not sure what God wants me to do with my writing right now; I only have one (co-authored) manuscript that's near the stage of being ready to go out, and it's not quite there, so I haven't worried too much.

But barring any specific guidance, the plan is to start with the biggest publisher that will accept Christian fantasy romance, and work our way down the (small) list, until someone accepts it or we end up self-publishing. I believe in our novel and I think God wants us to get it out to people. But I think a publication credit would be good for my co-author and me both.

All that said, I'm most likely going to do some experimentation on self-publishing with a novel that has 8 chapters on my personal website.

Wow; that's a lot of words. What do you think about publishing? I think I need to ask God for some more guidance.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rage Fest 2011 Memories

Tuesday bonus! Here are some things I remember about bands that I won't be writing full articles about.

The Kings Divide were on the far-away Carousel Stage, quite a distance from the main grounds (but near the roller coaster!). So they had a huge sign that they had had folks and/or they themselves lugged around the festival grounds. A for effort!

We meandered over there and then got some food. I'd wanted pizza all day but something didn't sound quite right...

So I got "gyros" instead. If gyros have chopped up onions and ranch dressing.

Spoken played three of my favorite songs of theirs ("Wind in My Sails," "September," "Promise"). During "Promise," however, Matt saw everyone singing along and held out the microphone to the audience. There wasn't much sound. He was shocked and said everyone was lip-synching, and that people would be talking about it forever! I wasn't lip-synching, but I was near the back and I wasn't singing loud.

During the EXTENDED sound check for Superchick, instead of saying "check, check," singer/guitarist Melissa sang, "Straight up, now tell me, do you really wanna love me forever" and the audience sang, "Whoa-oh-oh" back for her. The whole chorus proceeded in such a manner. (They also cited what I believe is an urban legend, that the parking lot scene in Back to the Future was filmed at MetroCenter mall. I'm pretty sure that's wrong, though MetroCenter did have Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Regardless, MetroCenter has seen better days...)

And The Wedding's lead singer loved getting in the crowd. Yeah, that face out there? That's him.

He also called for circle pits. It was actually very, very funny to watch most of the crowd scamper to the edges whenever they called for a circle pit!

Sanctus Real had fun hijacking a fan's camera. This footage from another (bigger) concert about 9 months prior must be something like the fan had when she or he got home:

They also had a very nice song about the life of a small band, touring.

At his service, Pastor Dave talked about how the reason Jesus died was so that we could have a relationship with God, not just a fire insurance policy. I've come to understand that over the years, but a lot of the young people present (probably 30-40%) came forward at the invitation to promise to work on that relationship, etc. Good to see.

And the first band we saw, Hyland, had a good sound and a great stage presence, with amusing banter. They noted that how Phoenix said "hello" to them was by someone breaking into their van and taking their iPods and GPS. O_O (I apologize on behalf of Phoenix!) Also, something along the lines of, "How many of you are wearing sunglasses? 60%? You know what they're wearing in Minnesota? SNOWSHOES. And they're fighting polar bears." Good stuff. They recently got signed by Tooth and Nail's hoping Air1 picks them up.

And here's a lousy video I took, a.k.a. Hyland tries to teach Julie how to use the video camera in her camera. Apologies for the video, sound, and otherwise horrid quality!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rage Fest Christian Music Festival Phoenix Arizona 2011

EDIT:  If you're looking for info on Rage Fest 2012, check the Extreme Faith Productions site!


If anything here sounds a bit incoherent, sorry; I got hit in the head by a water bottle less than 12 hours before writing this!

So every year for I don't even know how many years (someone onstage referenced attending in 2003), Extreme Faith Productions has put on a Christian music event known as Rage or Rage Fest. It's two (or one year, three) days of Christian music in a parking lot for Castles and Coasters, which is Arizona's only small-scale (or any scale) park with a looping roller coaster, plus more rides and mini golf. This year, $50 got you in both days to see 50 bands, they said (cheaper prices for one-day admissions). Hours are more or less 10 AM - 10:30 PM, with a church service on Sunday morning. Every previous year I'd been to, it was at Castles and Coasters' main parking lot, with one main stage on one side and a somewhat smaller stage on the other side, (they generally have 2 acts on the main stage, then 2 on the side stage, then 2 on the main stage again, with no overlap), and a side stage by the carousel inside the park itself.

Band lineup from the Extreme Faith webpage for this year:
Band Line-up

Saturday, Jan 15:
8:45 PM - Thousand Foot Krutch
7:15 PM -Disciple
6:25 PM - Project 86
5:35 PM - Flatfoot 56
4:45 PM - Decyfer Down
3:55 PM - Manafest
3:05 PM - The Letter Black
2:20 PM - Ivoryline
1:30 PM - Spoken
12:45 PM - Write This Down
12:05 PM - Sent By Ravens
11:20 AM - I Am Empire
10:40 AM - Hyland
10:05 AM - I Am We

Sunday, Jan 16:
8:00 PM - Sanctus Real
6:30 PM - Superchick
5:45 PM - Flatfoot 56
4:55 PM - Manafest
4:10 PM - Abandon
3:20 PM - The Red Airplanes
2:35 PM - The Wedding
1:55 PM - Me In Motion
1:15 PM - Children 18:3
12:35 PM - Philmont
12:00 PM - White As Wool
11:30 AM - A Rotterdam November
10:30 AM - Church Service

Bands Appearing on Community Stage:


Rate of Change
Twice As Deep
Ryan Romeo
Jeff DeKnegt
Heavenswill Band
Rachel O.
Adriane Blanco Band
Healed Blind Eye
The Kings Divide


Katelyn From Havasu
Lacy Brooks
Jeff DeKnegt
All Eyes on Israel
Smiling Up
Truth Be Told
Ryan Romeo

This year, it was in Castles and Coasters' side parking lot, which on the map looks more or less the same size, but the lot is laid out differently.

Old location is by the "A"; new one is the lower left-hand corner of the image.

Plus this year, there was a food stand with a grill like you'd see at a carnival, and a fourth stage in-between the main and side stages. So it certainly felt more crowded, and louder!

Hope you like meat.

This year they made it clear on the website that you could bring your own camping chairs to set behind the chair line, and also bring outside food in coolers. However, they didn't plan the chair lines for the main stage (where the big-named bands played), so they set up a chair line on Saturday and then had to move it back significantly, creating a tiny area for chairs, and making most people relocate their chairs to beside the smaller stage.

Merch tables in the background

Air1 sponsors one of the stages and has a big presence there, but a lot of the bands at RAGE play hard rock music that Air1 won't play.

So if you're just an Air1 fan, you might not like the music, or may even fear for your life, depending on which artists you see (and how fearful you are). It's very common for artists to empty out water bottles on the audience, and/or throw partly-filled bottles into the crowd. Moshing isn't allowed, but people push each other around (lovingly). I accidentally wound up in that "pushing" area during a concert by Red several years ago. Very uncomfortable, I just went limp. Fortunately, going limp, I just bounced my way out like a pinball. It was pretty funny. Other bands do "circle pits" where you basically run around the crowd. If you hear the words "circle pit" and you aren't wanting to run around, I suggest you back away from the center VERY quickly, like people did during The Wedding's show. If you were already dead center, get behind a security guy (if one is there; most of them are built like refrigerators) and you should be OK.

And if you do get in a circle pit and lose a shoe, someone in the middle will pick it up and hold it up until you claim it. :)

Then again, I saw a lot more older (i.e. older than me) people rocking out this year, even jumping when told to jump, and so forth.

So here are the essentials I think everyone needs for RAGE:

Before RAGE:

PRAY - That's the biggest thing. I prayed several times in the days leading to the festival, that the bands would put Jesus first and that I'd really hear from God. To be honest, a lot of the bands' songs aren't specifically Christian (not bad, but not worship songs, and some really aren't related to God at all as far as I can see). But I did hear a lot more artists talking about God, and their words spoke to me more, this year versus the year prior. I don't know if prayer changed the artists' speech, what bands I saw, or what I noticed--probably all three. But it made a huge difference for me.

SUNSCREEN - The sun is BRUTAL. Wear sunscreen if you don't want to turn into a raisin. I wore SPF 100, water/sweatproof, etc. both days, and I'm still a touch pink today. Ideally, you should reapply your sunscreen at least once, but just wearing some in the first place is a good start.

DEODORANT - I've never noticed a problem with anyone else on this front, but again, the sun is brutal. Most bands also encourage people to not only clap, but also to jump, wave their arms, and sometimes form an aforementioned "circle pit" or run in straight lines, etc. Yes, I have video I may share later, LOL.


EARPLUGS - I don't see how anyone gets through the concert without earplugs. It is LOUD. I am not the kind of person that says you have to take perfect care of your body (no matter what you do, your body is going to eventually give out on you). But there's no reason to experience premature hearing loss. If you bring your little kids, absolutely make sure they have earplugs themselves.

WATER - See the sun and deodorant entries. Don't get dehydrated! This year they also sold water for $1.00 a bottle, which was reasonable...but since you can buy 24 bottles at Fry's for $3.69 or less, you might want to plan accordingly.

HAND SANITIZER - With RAGE across the street from Castles and Coasters (and its flush toilets), the portable toilets were almost unavoidable. Might not be amiss to bring some toilet paper either. Just saying.

COAT - It gets cold in the desert at night. Sometimes during the day, too! It must have been January 13-14, 2007 when the highs on Saturday and Sunday were 49 and 46 respectively...I still remember Joy Williams' improvised song about Arizona. Something like "You lied to me, Arizona; I should've worn my ski boots." Anyway, leave your coat in your vehicle, or leave it on your chair (if you have one). But don't be one of those people in a short-sleeved T-shirt, shivering all night. I get cold just looking at them!

MONEY - Support the bands by buying their CDs and other merchandise. Also buy food if needed.

OPTIONAL - You can bring a camping chair--those are great for just lounging around between acts, as it's hard to stand for 12 hours straight. Check the policy in 2012, but in 2011 you could bring food in coolers if you wanted. Bring a camera if you want to take pictures; it's definitely allowed.

Also bring a Christ-like attitude. I overheard some people who...did not have one...and it was very discouraging, to hear such words coming out of Christians' mouths. (And they were professed Christians, since they (eventually) said "hate the sin, love the sinner.")

Meanwhile, one year my friend and I visited Waldenbooks in MetroCenter (back before it closed) and they knew we were there because of the festival, even though our wristbands were hidden. Granted, it was probably mostly because we were dressed a little unusually (nothing I haven't worn elsewhere, though), or just the fact that the mall suddenly had customers...but you never know. A smile can do some good, and the last thing we want is for people to think poorly of Christians because of how we treat others or how we speak.

Make sure you meet the bands! I don't know if secular bands are so friendly, but it's usually easy to get an autograph from Christian bands (bring a Sharpie to be safe). The bigger acts will be in a signing tent; the smaller ones are often found by their merchandise tables. Or just stop by and say "hi" or "thanks for coming." I'm VERY shy to talk to bands (I feel like I'm interrupting or pestering them) but they always seem happy to be thanked and it's a blessing to me to shake hands with them.

And, always keep your head up. Bands and the people on stage before bands like to throw things at people. Nathan of The Red Airplanes stated that he wasn't going to leave the stage until everyone was hydrated. So he threw most of the bands' case of water bottles (individually, but FULL) into the crowd. While I was looking down at a kid who was picking up one that had hit near me, one nailed me right in the forehead! I think it gave a little, because it didn't really hurt much, though I was pretty stunned. It's funny; I think it was Beth Moore (and surely others) who said that God may give you the thing you're most afraid of, so that you won't fear it any more. When I saw the half-filled water bottles go into the crowd, I always was a little concerned that if one hit me upside the head, it would really hurt. Well, I got a FULL one upside the head and am OK! And, suddenly not particularly worried about getting hit by a half-full one.

(The Red Airplanes are an awesome band; I've got no problem with them, and will write them up once their new CD release date is closer.)

So anyway, stay alert!

If you have any questions about the festival, let me know. I'll write more about a few of the bands on future Mondays for a while. See you then!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flashback Friday - Things Never Change - January 14, 1921

You know something awesome? The days of the week in 1921 correspond perfectly to 2011. So January 14, 1921 was a Friday too. Neat, huh? Except Easter was in March in 1921. (Still on a Sunday, though. ;) )

Speaking of things not changing, check out these stories published January 15, 1921 (occurred January 14):

This unbalanced, armed man reminded me of the horrible shootings in Tucson.

Montreal Major Shoots Broker He Says Held Him Under a Spell.


Strange Story Vouched For by Priests, Relatives and Friends of the Soldier....--New York Times, January 15, 1921

Mayor Bob Griffith in Montreal was sure a man, Bill Holland, put an "evil influence" over him, so he shot him.

Hit-and-runs are nothing new.

AUTOS KILL 2 WOMEN THEN SPEED AWAY...--New York Times, January 15, 1921

Two different women were killed by black limousines that didn't stop!

Arson existed, though it's my understanding that we no longer dynamite buildings to create firebreaks:


Clearfield, Pa. Suffers Heavily From Supposed Firebugs....

--New York Times, January 15, 1921

Five fire companies were summoned to fight a fire that destroyed 15 buildings, including the buildings for the Madera Times, two movie theaters, and the Hileman Hotel.

And don't forget speculating on commodities.

Chicago Board of Trade Representatives and Cornell Professor Heard..

--New York Times, January 15, 1921

Joseph P. Griffin, President of the Chicago Board of Trade, says "Exchanges cannot function without speculation" and that hedging helps the public.

*All articles believed to be in the public domain per US law.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wacky 13th - About me

Stolen (and edited down) from a friend's Facebook note:

Name → Julie Bihn

Nickname(s) → Jules; JR

Status → Single (happily)

Zodiac sign → Bah. (On the cusp)

Male or female → Female

Height → I think 5'6

Hair color → Brown

Long or Short → A bit past shoulder length (I got it cut way too short!)

Loud or Quiet → I'm usually considered quiet, but I can be a chatterbox too.

Sweats or Jeans → Cargo pants (I visit you from 2001!)

Phone or Camera → What does this mean? You kind of have to have your phone but my camera phone is hilarious--it takes tiny photos and when you zoom in, it just CROPS them. I take my camera when I'm going somewhere interesting.

Health freak → Chocolate is a fruit, right?

Drink or Smoke? → I have never had more than one drink at a sitting (not been remotely drunk), and never smoked.

Do you have a crush on someone? → Are we in grade school? No.

Piercings? → 0

What did you do last night→ I'm actually writing this on January 6, 2011 :#/ so who knows? (TIME TRAVEL!) Odds are, stayed up too late, probably wandering down Internet rabbit holes.


Eating → No

Drinking → No, but I'm about to get up and have some water

I'm about to → Do laundry!

Listening to → "The Office" ("Let's get ethical, ethical...")

Plans for tomorrow → Going to work


Run away from home → No, but when I was a kid and we came home after a vacation and found our house burgled, I took my bike, I think it was, and rode to the edge of our 10-acre property. Yes, when I am frightened, I run like a rabbit.

Broken someone's heart → Highly doubtful (if so, I'm sorry!)

Been arrested → No


Yourself → Kind of

Love at first sight → Sure?

Heaven → Yes

Santa Claus → My brother did discover that Santa has the same handwriting as Dad...

God → Yes

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Write?

Progress report - I'm still getting a chapter of Endwood up for critique weekly, so that's good. I think I'm about 3 chapters from the end. I'm really excited to put this novel behind me for a while! Also returned a couple critiques in the past 7 days.

My question today is: Why write? God gave me a passion for writing, I believe, as I've been interested since I was a small child. I drew comic books and wrote stories when I was about 11 or 12, and have been writing ever since. If you count NaNoWriMo, I've completed drafts of about 5 novels, plus a co-written novel and one that I stopped at 50,000 words after NaNo but will rewrite someday. At any rate, I adore entertaining people with imagined characters and worlds. For someone who can't memorize, writing is a great way to do it.

OK, so why write novels? I just haven't gotten the hang of writing short stories--I like to have more time to play with characters. And in a perfect world, I know every novel would be as polished as a short story, but in the real world, every word has to count in a short story, whereas novels have a bit more wiggle room. I'd like to try it sometime, though.

I actually love writing comic books, but I'm not a very good artist and don't enjoy drawing enough to become a much better artist. I've toyed with having artists draw my scripts, but that kind of collaboration can be difficult to pull off, in that both parties must be very motivated. I've heard that it usually comes down to the artist "encouraging" the artist to work, and I'm not so good at that.

I wrote a script for a play once (I took a playwriting class in college instead of advanced fiction writing...more on that another day!), and it was enjoyable. But I feel like doing a play would be so draining for someone who loves ideas but can have trouble interacting with people for long, long stretches.

I think it'd be kind of cool to write for TV, but I'm not sure I'd want to write other people's characters, and I know I don't want to move to LA.

I know if you write a movie screenplay and Hollywood makes it, odds are VERY poor that your vision will end up on the screen. I think that would be hard to deal with, no matter how excellent the money can be.

And I prefer imagined worlds to the real ones, so that's why I prefer to write fiction. Did I leave out any possibilities you can think of?

But when it comes down to it, I love to write, and it's just something I do. Even in the lunchroom at work, I prefer to just sit down with a pencil and paper and work on my novel. It's one of the things I enjoy most in the world, and I believe God likes me to do it.

Do you write? If so, why? If not, why not?

Next Wednesday I'll continue this thread with, why write for publication?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Media/Music Monday - A Rotterdam November - Love Is...

So I am attending RAGE Music Festival 2011--anyone with me? And I figured what better way to prepare than to review an album from one of the bands that will be there?

From their MySpace:

The name “A Rotterdam November” is the brainchild of Jared Nelson and contains a metaphorical meaning describing the mission and heart of the band. The city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands was bombed during WWII and the main part of the city was completely destroyed. At that time, a Russian/French sculptor saw the wasteland and dubbed it “the city without a heart.” However, the spirit of Rotterdam was determined to “…go on, eyes firmly fixed on the present and the future, and not to linger in the past.” As a result, architects were presented with the opportunity to reconstruct the heart of Rotterdam from scratch and so they did. As it stands today, Rotterdam is an old city with a new heart. This is the analogy for Christians; the enemy’s goal is to destroy mankind and he has been partly successful through Adam’s original sin. However, that is not the end of the story, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, mankind has the opportunity to be reconstructed with a brand new heart. Spreading this message through music, whether directly or indirectly, is the goal and desire of the band A Rotterdam November.

A Rotterdam November has two albums out. The quote above pretty much refers to their first, self-titled effort, which has a lot of brilliant war references, including a song called 1914 about the 1914 Christmas Truce during World War I. Perhaps their most popular song from that album was "Trainwreck," which may be my favorite love song, given its emphasis on "I can't be perfect." (It starts out, "I can't ever promise I won't let you down...I won't give my word you won't get hurt.") My favorite is still "City Without a Heart," which is just ridiculously catchy.

So, like many Christian (and probably other independent) bands, A Rotterdam November, or "ARN," lost a couple members between their first album and their second. I was rather concerned that one of these losses included the aforementioned Jared Nelson, who, if I recall correctly, was credited with most of my favorite lyrics. So when I found out that they had a new album coming out, I was a bit concerned that it might be weaker lyrically.

So, how is "Love Is..."?

The album seems to focus rather more on love and broken-hearted relationship songs, which is probably a smart move, given the popularity of "Trainwreck." Honestly, since I'm not terribly interested in having a relationship (!), those kind of songs don't always appeal so much to me, although several of these are for girls who are afraid to

The melodies are fairly catchy, though there are no songs that make me want to drop everything and sing along like "City Without a Heart" on the first album. Lyrically, it took a while for anything to actually catch my ear the first time through (aside from the fact that "Anemone" rhymes "Sometimes I wish I'd met you long before" with "A flower where the world only sees a w...", which is the first time I think I'd heard that particular word on a Christian album!).

Then I stumbled across "Problematic," which says, "A bird isn't free when it's in flight/It's chained, chained, chained by the distance it creates." That's when my ears perked up and I realized that yes, there are some good lyrics here. Good thing, because some great lyrics, and melodies, follow. "Letter" is a song sweet enough to make most girls' hearts melt, I reckon. I fell in love with "We Still Believe" on the first listen was. It's an acoustic song that is about as far from "City Without a Heart" as you can get, but it's pretty and the lyrics are explicitly Christian, which is something you don't get on a surprising number of Christian rock albums.

In fact, there are even direct Biblical references (albeit most of them would go over the heads of non-believers). I found an explanation of the lyrics of "Love Is..." through Google (couldn't access it from their main site): It references Psalm 56:8-9 (I semi-arbitrarily cited NASB):

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle
Are they not in Your book?
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.

So lyrically, this album seems to have more direct Bible references than the previous one, but fewer historical references, and perhaps not quite as picky about grammar (the previous one actually uses the subjunctive and asks "If I were drowning...").

At any rate, I'd say "Love Is..." holds up pretty well lyrically and musically--not quite as intense as the first album, but quite good nonetheless. If "Trainwreck" is your favorite ARN song, then "Love Is..." is probably going to be a great album for you. Even if it's not your favorite, it's worth having.

(Psssst, now you can get up to 12 songs from High Flight Society for $5! Pledge $5 (the money will only leave your credit card if they reach their funding goal) and once they've completed it, they'll send you their 6-song EP. And you can get their previous EP--that's 6 free songs--here!)

FTC disclosure: I received "Love Is..." as a "donation gift" for supporting Effect Radio. I figure that I basically paid $15 (at the time) for it, but you could also consider it a "free" CD if you wanted.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Bonus - What is "Meek"?

Yesterday's question got me wondering if the definition of "meek" has really changed so much over the years. I'm not a huge fan of Webster's 1828 dictionary, per se, but a lot of Evangelicals love it. Personally, I need to get a good concordance, and/or find a trustworthy one on the Internet. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad/disturbing/worrisome Bible commentary on the Internet, even though there is also some excellent commentary. So I usually don't attempt searches on things subject to so much interpretation, like the definition of "meek."

But from the dictionary definitions

1828 Webster's:

MEEK, a. [L. mucus; Eng. mucilage; Heb. to melt.]

1. Mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries.

Now the man Moses was very meek, above all men. Num.12.

2. Appropriately,(sic?) humble, in an evangelical sense; submissive to the divine will; not proud, self-sufficient or refractory; not peevish and apt to complain of divine dispensations. Christ says, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls." Matt.11.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matt.5.

1913 Webster's (same page):

[Compar. Meeker (-1913 webster dictionaryr); superl. Meekest.] [OE. mek, meoc; akin to Icel. mj(?)kr mild, soft, Sw. mjuk, Dan. myg, D. muik, Goth. mukam[u

1. Mild of temper; not easily provoked or orritated (sic?); patient under injuries; not vain, or haughty, or resentful; forbearing; submissive.

Now the man Moses was very meek. Num. xii. 3.

2. Evincing mildness of temper, or patience; characterized by mildness or patience; as, a meek answer; a meek face.
"Her meek prayer." Chaucer.

Syn. -- Gentle; mild; soft; yielding; pacific; unassuming; humble. See Gentle.

Modern Miriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of MEEK
1: enduring injury with patience and without resentment : mild
2: deficient in spirit and courage : submissive
3: not violent or strong : moderate

So it does look like there has been a shift in the worldly definition of "meek."

That said, I'm not sure it's quite right to provide two different definitions in 1828, one for Moses and one for Christ. Granted, the Old Testament was Hebrew and the New Testament was originally Greek, right? But does that really mean that "meek" had two significantly different meanings Biblically? I don't know about that.

Either way, I think a man could possibly accept 1828 definition 2 in a hero (though "not...self-sufficient" is pushing it). Definition 1, maybe not; "soft" and "yielding" are not really something one expects a hero to be.

1913 would be less popular with heroes, I think ("submissive," "mildness," "soft").

I think the modern definition, with the possible exception of definition 1, is just disastrous for male heroes. Definition 1 actually more or less matches how some Bible sites I saw online defined "meek." Other definitions included "submission to God's will." That sort of submission is super-hard, granted (at least, I struggle with it). But to me it sounds much easier than both submitting to God's direct commands and ALSO being humble and gentle to other people. One page mentioned that meekness to people will come easily if you're completely submissive to God. Could be; I've just never gotten there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Bonus - Meek Heroes

Friday night I went to Corona After Hours (a.k.a. "loud church," or at least I call it that because of the rock music, which I like, but I always have to put in earplugs, even at concert!). Pastor Mike preached on the Beatitudes, and specifically:

Matthew 5:5: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (NIV)

Pastor Mike noted (correctly, IMO) that in today's society, it's especially hard for men to be meek and gentle, as it's not a quality valued in men. But that made me think of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" (a kind of post-apocalyptic book--incredibly compelling, rather dark and not from a Christian worldview at all). Nadine has a pretty good review of it--though she was a bit more positive toward its morality than I am.

I think you could argue that Peeta, the male lead, embodies many of the Beatitudes, while Katniss, the female lead, rather does not. And I adored Peeta in that book (haven't read the sequels and don't plan to). While I found Katniss fascinating, I can't say I actually LIKED her as a person, exactly. It could be that she's too human, fair enough, but I really wanted to shake some sense into her...

That said, Peeta's gentleness makes me wonder if guys actually like Peeta, or if he's just a woman's fantasy. Thoughts? Can men enjoy reading a "meek" hero?

(EDIT: I answer a great question in the next post.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Flashback Friday - The Good Old Days - January 8, 1921

A New York Times editorial that would have been written almost exactly 90 years ago today complains that the British are selling oil to the Japanese for $1.80 a barrel, but selling the same oil to Californians at $2.40 a barrel!

--The New York Times, January 8, 1921

If this converter is to be believed, that's $22 and $29.34 in current dollars, respectively.


Hey, Great Britain, if you'd like to make up for your unfair treatment of 1921 and charge us $29.34 per barrel of oil today, we'll take it. :)

Harding has been cited as saying "Prayer is a dominant factor for a successful life." The New York Times said he wrote those words as President-elect to Reverend Benjamin Root of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

See Herald and Presbyter, Volume 92 and The New York Times, January 8, 1921

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Collaborative Writing - The Long Awaited Part 2

So updates on my own writing...I had a vague hope of finishing Flight from Endwood before the new year. That didn't happen, but now I'm cheering for the end of January. So I am buckling down and trying! I'd love to start a new collaborative project, too, but we'll see....

Speaking of collaboration! So a few weeks ago I said I'd share some things I heard at a panel on collaborative writing. Never mind the timeline I said I'd get that information out to you. Here it is now!

In November 2010 at the (secular) Tuscon Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror convention, there was a panel on co-authoring with Michelle M. Welch, John Vornholt, and Jeff Mariotte. Some collaborated while under contract; I'm not sure any of them necessarily wrote a novel with someone quite how we did, without even having it sold yet. (Note that these writers are not necessarily--I'd go so far as to say not likely--Christians, but that doesn't mean they don't know some good techniques.)

A couple reasons for collaboration might be to have fun with a friend, and sometimes utilize different points of expertise. Overall, as I may have already mentioned, the goal of collaboration is for the finished product to be better than you could do yourself.

Random points they offered:

*Get a detailed outline first so that you know where it's going (this is beyond important if you're collaborating with one person writing some chapters and some people writing other chapters, etc.)

*Collaboration is very good for comedy--if you find something funny, someone else may not find it funny. But if TWO people think something is funny, then maybe other people will find it funny too!

*Distance is no longer an issue in collaboration, as it comes down to words on a page. You used to have to mail floppy disks (!) back in forth, but now you can collaborate in essentially, or even literally, real-time (see Google Docs etc.).

*Collaborating can be easier with a tight deadline (I think the logic there was that with a tight deadline, you both have to work, and you won't quibble about the small stuff).

*If an argument arises between the authors, try just scrapping the scene and writing something else.

*MAKE SURE WHOEVER SENDS TO THE EDITOR SENDS THE RIGHT VERSION! (One of the panelists had been working on a collaboration and the partner who sent the final copy out sent a previous draft. Since I can see myself doing that, I thought that was a good thing to note.)

They vaguely mentioned you need to agree who gets the final draft, etc., which I already knew from reading up on collaboration before we started.

And that...was about it. I thought I had more info, but sometimes short and sweet is best!

Monday, January 3, 2011

6 songs FREE - High Flight Society!

Your life is more than what you've done.
You can't hold on forever.
I hope you know it's time to let this go.
You gotta run from yesterday,
Turn away from past mistakes
And leave them all behind
You're holding on too tight...

--"Run From Yesterday", High Flight Society

First thing's first: Go to this page before January 31, 2011, so High Flight Society can make another EP. Got it? Free songs closer to the bottom.

A new year and I figured I could work on my blog! Still haven't hashed out everything I'll write about, true enough, but one thing I do have quite a bit of interest in is Christian rock. It helped me emotionally around and following college, and it's been interesting to trace which songs were meaningful to me then, versus now.

Most the Christian bands I know of--and some you even hear on Air1--are pretty small outfits. Many of them tour the country with their van and their trailer, and then they set up and sound check their own equipment. Since I like harder music with good (and not filthy) lyrics, I tend to like the more independent bands. I actually came to love Christian rock from Effect Radio back in the day when it was in town (Air1, no relation, now has its 89.9 frequency).

High Flight Society is one of those smaller bands, and their story is one of the common ones. Put out a record on a small label; signed by a larger label; label has a shake-up and drops them before they even get a record out.

The whole world of business can be especially heartbreaking to be any sort of artist--musician, artist, writer. The one point of hope that any Christian artist has that others don't is knowing that if we're doing what God has led us to do, we can know that God's purpose has been accomplished. I find it comforting to know that no matter what your sales numbers are, perhaps God used your work to touch just one life. Given that I love to create, to me that potential is enough.

Back to music. After their first album, High Flight Society put out a short digital EP, "Par Avion," which has good songs and kind of hidden Christian messages (as most Christian rock does nowadays). The first track is a hard rock song, "Give It Up," which starts out with what I consider almost discordant beats, but it ends up working. "Inhaling a Bullet" has heavy guitars, not surprisingly. The "Whoa-oh, oh-oh"s kind of remind me of a 1980s song, in the best way. "Run from Yesterday" is both very catchy and works nicely on a Christian level, though I'm sure non-Christians could listen to it and not be overwhelmed. Definitely one of my favorites on the album. The closer on the general release of the EP is "Come on Sister," which is pretty low-key.

On top of that, there are two bonus tracks that you originally could only get by buying the download card at their concerts. (I may or may not have ducked out of my only sibling's wedding rehearsal dinner maybe an hour earlier than most in order to get to their concert and procure said card...) "Sanctuary" may be my favorite song on the EP; it's another of those songs that is Christian if you want it to be. It makes me want to write a spaceship/war story. Download it and maybe you'll get some ideas too! The final song is "Indecision" which is another hard-rock song.

Something else I'm generally interested in is FREE stuff! [b]You can get ALL SIX SONGS FREE from High Flight Society if you just give them your email address![/b] I would give my email address for "Sanctuary" alone, actually. (In fact, on 1/1/11 them my email myself to make sure it works. The whole process from submission to download took about 90 seconds. The download page might say it has 4 songs, but when I downloaded I got all 6!)

[b]And if you like the music, you can help them out by throwing them a few bucks via this page before January 31, 2011, so they can make another EP. You can even get their new EP free if you pledge! Your credit card will only be charged if they reach their goal, so go help them out![/b]

(FTC disclosure - I DID pay regular price for this EP in June 2009, and reviewed the copy I paid for. But you can get it for free as above.)