The Rentals + Ozma

Wow.  It’s going to be hard to come up with the proper words.  Words that will do these guys justice, words that will properly describe the emotion, passion, and energy of these two bands are not easily formed.

I was a teenager when I first heard The Rentals, shortly after their first album, Return of the Rentals.  Stacks of vintage synths, Orange Amplifiers, and 5, 6, or 7 musicians colliding in danceable and incredible sonic goodness.  Eventually, you can pull your nose out of liner notes and go to a show.

For me, it was around 10 years before this dream could come to fruition.  If the Rentals were ever around the Southeast (it was really rare) it just didn’t work out for me.  When the news surfaced that Matt Sharp had put together a group to do some Rentals songs, I was stoked, but cautious with my expectations.

This group blew me away.  Matt’s stage presence (you may remember seeing him in the early days of Weezer) is terrific.  There’s a world he enters when he steps on the stage that really renews my hope in show business.  Not just Matt; Laura Chipman, Ben Pringle, Sara Radle, Dan Joeright, and Rachel Haden can’t be matched for stage presence, talent, and the ability to follow carefully choreographed mid-song instrument switches.  Rachel played all 7 keyboards at one time or another.  She picked up the Bass several times, acoustic guitar, the small mic’ed set of bells on occasion; sang beautifully. Laura played the Violin, 3 or 4 of the keyboards, and sang in perfect harmony with Matt and Rachel.  Sara too: all over the keys, singing beautifully.  Dan, the drummer, appropriately stayed in royal command of the rhythm.  As a drummer, I can appreciate the feat of being in the rhythm section with three different bassists in one evening.  Ben: WOW.  Ben blew us all the way.  He started in the ‘synth cave’ played bass, guitar, trombone, lap steel, and didn’t miss a beat on any of those.  He had energy that, like Matt’s, makes me want to present a video of this show to other people who grace stages all over the world.

They played old Rentals songs, an old Weezer B-Side, and even Lou Reed’s Take a Walk on the Wild Side.  The news (from the end of the show) is that Matt reported a forthcoming album.  Sweet.

Ozma was terrific too.  After a two year hiatus, they decided to come back and give it another shot. They’re really on top of their game. Their set was tight, and they played a lot of good ol’ songs.  Since I’ve seen Ozma twice before, I won’t be able to ramble like an idiot (see above) about them.  That shouldn’t diminish their show though – it was unbelievable.  They weren’t too clear about their plans for after this tour is over.  I tried to pry but didn’t get any solid answer about forthcoming albums, but I suspect that we’ll see more of Ozma.

Great time.  Great show.  I’m easy to excite, but these guys didn’t leave anything to chance.

New Blog

I’ve decided to create another blog to differentiate subject matter. The crowd I’ve attracted to space-age wasteland is largely addicted to productivity methods, GTD, gmail, and other geekery and hackery (I’m a blogger, I may coin words as I please).

For my new ministry and work in keynotes for youth events and for my liturgical music, I’ve created bryan.themurdaughs.com. It’s certainly not meant to be exclusive but they say that guys like to compartmentalize.

That’s all (for now).

Bingbit Update

So why have I been quietly calculating my next move?

First, some details on what’s different about bingbit.

  1. Old: Liturgical music publishers charge a per copy license for music and separate the licensing from mechanical reproduction: costly.
    bingbit: Parish Licensing Program allows music ministers and worship leaders to purchase a combination copy-limited piece of music and an annual license to perform the music: much cheaper.
  2. Old: The same liturgical music publishers charge a monthly fee for publications to make suggestions for songs to play on a given Sunday (songs out of their library, more often that not).
    bingbit: The unique sharebit (FREE) resource offers suggestions from many publishers (including, but not limited to bingbit). Ideas for this resource are contributed and managed by the community.
  3. Old: Publishers are often forced to focus on the business and the marketing much like major music labels are.
    bingbit: Focuses on the liturgy and on the music. We don’t focus on bottom line and management of overhead.

Sharebit is free, and each bingbit song on the annual Parish Licensing Program costs $0.99. That’s less than a dollar. Make all the copies you need for your musicians. Play the song as many times as you need. Renew it if you need it next year. All of the music is downloadable as a PDF lead sheet and many titles already have recordings (if you need some help learning it).

Sharebit is in alpha stage right now. I hope to have a public beta version when things around my parish get started up in September, but I’m waiting on a few functions to be integrated. The public bingbit site is still missing some major graphical components but I hope to launch it around the same time.

With everything going on, it’s been hard to manage development of these two properties. It’s been hard enough to just get a few songs onto the bingbit store at lulu. In fact, I’ve turned over all of the functional development to my friend Jonathan, who has also been quite busy with his own work.

So you’ve got my whole plan now. Not much I can do to stop myself now, huh?

Clear Like Tar

Contrary to my normal behavior, I’ve been a stranger lately. Not just because I haven’t been communicating much. When I have communicated, it hasn’t been deep. So I’m going to treat everyone to a few posts that are deep.

  • Family Life – what’s new with the family?
  • Career – it’s funny how I don’t complain when I’m enjoying it.
  • Uncle Widget – what’s the real story, what’s the process?
  • Bingbit – why I’ve been quietly calculating my next move.
  • …much much more! Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks.

I started this blog over a year ago. My modus operandi is sharing. I just haven’t been fully utilizing this venue lately.

I’ll be back soon!

The King of Side-Jobs: Bad Dad

…I don’t want to become the bad dad.

It seems like I read a lot of “don’t be defined by your job” or “unfortunately, the first question asked upon meeting someone new is ‘so what do you do for a living?'”

“But Bryan, the work I do doesn’t really define me.”

Well, maybe you’re doing the wrong thing.

My current work situation probably hits closer to the definition of me than any other snapshot in time. I’m teaching, writing music and sharing my spirituality. A few weeks ago I configured a network, this week I’m doing web design, and next week I might do some software testing. This is a perfect definition of how bad my ADHD really is.

In my adolescence (some would argue that I’m still there), one of the biggest aids to productivity, progress and success was structure. “Bryan needs rules and framework to work effectively.” Sometimes I feel like working effectively meant producing black and white cows.

A simple example: In High School, just after diagnosis, I was regularly dosed with time-released Ritalin. The point was to get me to focus on one task at a time and finish it. As a member of the Jazz Ensemble (and coming from a family who reared talented jazz musicians), one of my favorite things was jazz and blues improvisation. While my medicine was doing its thing to get me to focus, I couldn’t find my zone while playing piano. Off the medicine, improvisation was creative, fun and entertaining. It was different enough that others could tell.

Ritalin was structure. Specific rules about when homework or chores needed to be done were structure. Getting a job with a large corporation: structure. Structure is necessary for me to overcome my obstacle. Disciplining myself to create my own framework, rules, and protocol to provide this structure is even better.

So now I have systems. They don’t kill my creativity. They don’t keep me in a 4’x4′ box all day. But I’ve learned how to effectively manage multiple side-jobs quite effectively. Then my systems break down.

It’s hard to put your family in a system.

The wires in my brain need to be shorted out because I haven’t been able to systemize the #1 priority in my life on earth. It isn’t a chore, it isn’t work. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to play with my daughters. It’s really difficult, however, to remember in the midst of getting things done, that soon my little girls aren’t going to be so little anymore. It’s time I can’t get back. Most of the work things I do aren’t time critical. I really think it’s the act of checking an accomplished task off a list that pushes me towards urgency.

Time to reprogram the noodle. I’ve been doing hypnotherapy for weight-loss (I’ve lost 10 pounds in less than a month). I’m thinking about getting the hypnotist to work on relaxing my sense of urgency.

I believe it’ll help me out a lot.

And now it’s time to go play kitchen with a wonderful toddler.

Birthday and Bits

Today is my oldest daughter’s first birthday, so I’m not going to take a whole lot of time to disclose any updates because I haven’t taken any time to make any progress.

Zack has once again mentioned that he’ll be working on the redesign of space-age wasteland. Even if it seems like he keeps putting this off, it’s really a low-priority personal favor and he’s a really busy dude. You should start noticing minor changes coming in one at a time.

And for everyone perpetuating this glorious meme, keep it up! We’re all on the right track.

An Antithetical Matter

It has been brought to my attention by friends, people I’ve never even met and by the little voice in the back of my head that it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. While this is true, there is good reason.

I set out here to offer, support, and field good ideas on productivity and on making life better for like-minded people. Productivity is a high aim.

I could probably find a reason to post every day.

Since my posts on GTD with Gmail, my readership has gone way up, and it seems I’ve stumbled across even more clever ways to implement GTD. I’ve seen several people bouncing all over the place on their implementation schemes. I won’t spell out the irony. Merlin and others noticed it and posted on it before I did. Expounding would be unnecessary.

My goal here isn’t to provide people with something to read so that they can avoid work. The goal here is to provide and collect ideas so that we can get our work done and move on to more important things.

So, worry not, I’m still here. From time to time I’ll be selfish and ask you for feedback or a solution. Today, now that I’ve thoroughly wasted 5 or 6 minutes of our time with this exercise in hypocrisy, I’ll ask that you go do something that’s been hanging out on your action list or project list with no progress for way too long.