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Top Ten Tuesday

18 May

Thanks to Amanda and some new friends, I realized I have WAY more than ten things to list about my experiences in the music industry.  So for this week, here’s the next chapter:

Top Ten Times I Asked Myself The Question, “What Am I Doing With My Life?” While Working In Christian Music (Vol. II)

10.  The time I went shopping for food for the bus on a promo tour and one of our VPs gave me his/her “rider” for his/her bus food requirements:  1) Creamy Skippy peanut butter (with his/her own spoon), 2) Bananas without brown spots and 3) Bottled water (Dasani preferred).

 9.  The time I was with a band in Dallas and we got stuck on the wrong side of the Christmas parade in the downtown area.  I could NOT find a way around or through the parade route and the band decided to nickname me Powder.



 8.  The time I showed up to the bus for another promo tour and the bus driver only had one leg.

 7.  The time I hired a road manager for yet another promo tour and he/she disappeared once it was time to load the artist’s gear from the hotel to the bus.  Once my co-worker and I schlepped the artist’s crap to the bus we found the road manager – on the bus – relaxing and having a nice cool beverage while watching a movie.

 6.  The time I lived through this.

 5.  The time I was at my very first sales conference and walked by the soundboard only to kick the power cords out of the wall, causing the video and audio presentations to come to a screeching halt.  100 people in the conference room sitting in silence, wondering what happened, when the sound tech yelled, “Just a moment ladies and gentlemen.  SOMEBODY kicked the power cord out of the wall.”  I was the only one standing up in the entire room, let alone near the soundboard.

 4.  The time I fell down the stairs at my very first Gospel Music Week.  Brick stairs.  And when I say I fell, I mean I fell to my knees at the top of the stairs and proceeded to slide down the brick stairs.  On my shins.  With the artist I was escorting for the day right behind me.  Yes, the skin on my shins has grown back quite nicely.  Thanks for asking.

 3.  The time I searched all over God’s Green Earth (otherwise known as Manhattan’s Midtown) for a McDonalds for an artist’s breakfast because they were on the Atkins Diet and wanted the egg & sausage breakfast.  Once I returned with said fat and lard I was chastised for not having McDonalds remove the biscuits prior to me delivering the meals.

 2.  The time the FBI called my office investigating the moving truck I rented to carry stuff to a trade convention.  It was parked in the lot between my building and the next building over.  The next building over just happened to be a secret FBI office and they were afraid the moving truck may have had explosives in it.  Not Christian music.  Explosives.

 1.  The time I was peed on while working an instore.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Peed.  On.  And not by a child.  It’s a long story.

P.S.  I actually drank blue Gatorade last Saturday at my kids’ ball games.  It tastes like berry-flavored metal.  Ick.


The Great Language Barrier

13 May

I love Japanese food. I was not, however, an immediate convert. The first time I was exposed to the exotic fare was in a funky little restaurant in Capitola Village that was situated directly under an enormous train trestle that spanned the San Lorenzo River. I was there with my mother, my younger stepbrother and another friend. I asked for pointers from my food senseis, but they assured me that I’d like nearly everything on the menu. Worry free, I perused the menu. After all, it all seemed harmless enough. For example, who doesn’t like teriyaki? It’s sweet. It’s salty. Everything you could ask for in fine cuisine. Even the California Roll was an intriguing combination. Especially because it had avocado in it. I love avocado. Mild, creamy and refreshing, I’ve even been known to make an avocado sandwich with nothing but bread, avocado and a thin layer mayonnaise.

I was eyeing the large hunk of avocado that was nestled aside the little delicate green plastic sheet cut to resemble one-dimensional blades of grass. Thinking the minty-colored morsel had broken free of the tightly rolled coil of seaweed, crab, cucumber and rice, I grinned from one side of my mouth. “I’ve got you now,” I whispered under my breath. Sneaking up from the rear, I awkwardly snatched up the rogue ingredient with my chopsticks and quickly deposited it on my tongue to savor the gentle flavor.

Imagine my surprise when the pretty pastel wad attacked with a ferocity I had never before experienced with any other edible substance. In my inexperience with cookery from the land of the rising sun, I mistook a nearly lethal amount of wasabi for my beloved avocado. Panic set in as the effects of the fiery substance spread from my tongue southward to my throat and northward to my unsuspecting nasal passages and tear ducts. It was as if my head had spontaneously combusted (a phenomenon with which I am a tad obsessed) yet I was still alive to experience every painful horrifying moment. The heat subsided within seconds but the memory is still enough to elicit a sweat moustache. Nobody else at the table had seen what I had done, but all six eyes were staring at me as I composed myself. “What did you do?” “Did you choke on something?” “Why are you so red?” “You’re sweating. Are you okay?”

Once I retraced my ill-fated steps there was a moment of silence, followed by an eruption of laughter that could only have been drowned out by a train crossing the great rusty steel structure overhead. It’s one of those stories still recounted at every family gathering. It’s not the only story about me to be added to the familial arsenal over the years (Heaven forbid we should forget the time when I was a pre-teen and tripped up my grandparents’ stairs holding the Thanksgiving pumpkin pies), but one of their favorites to be sure.

I’ve acquired a taste and a healthy respect for wasabi since that time. My family now eats Japanese food on a regular basis. Just tonight, my mom, whom Jacob and Andrew have lovingly renamed JuJu (her given name is Judi), was visiting from out of town and we took her to one of our favorite sushi spots. Jacob wanted some crayons so he could draw something, most likely a scene taken from his exciting other life in outer space. When the waiter arrived at the table to take our drink order, we all told him what we would like and then my mom asked for some crayons. “We have ah Sprite,” the waiter replied in his best broken English.

“No, I’m sorry. My grandson would like a crayon.”

“We only have ah Sprite,” responded the waiter again with a smile.

“No. A craaaay-onnnnnn,” responded JuJu patiently.

“Ahhhh, no. Only ah Sprite.”

“No, not a drink. A crayon. Something to draawwww with.”

There was no verbal response from our waiter. Only a forced yet pleasant smile and a slight nod. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then he walked away, half grinning and half gritting, showing just a little too much tooth. And JuJu was left at the table, forever crayonless and looking at us in disbelief. We were witness to a complete breakdown in communication. The great language barrier had reared its ugly head, leaving both parties confused, frustrated and unsatisfied.

We all fall victim to a great language barrier. Not like the kind in Babel or at the sushi bar that night, but the everyday kind that makes us feel alone. How many times do we reach out to another person, only to be disappointed? Feeling misheard. Unsatisfied. Yearning for a connection, only to be left with a puzzled look and a view of the back of someone’s shaking head. And how many times are we the one leaving the other person wanting more, not grasping what it was they were asking of us? Or perhaps not really caring. How many missed opportunities for relationship have we stupidly grinned our way through, simply agreeing to give up on each other, never giving or receiving that which is most dear to us. Acknowledgement. Respect. Love.

The next time you need a crayon, an encouraging word, or especially some advice on sushi condiments, just let me know. I’m here for you…

Top Ten Tuesday

10 May

My newish friend Amanda inspired me to create a Top Ten Tuesday list.  It is entitled:

Top Ten Times I Asked Myself The Question, “What Am I Doing With My Life?” While Working In Christian Music

10.  The time I received a call from a customer complaining that this album cover was pornographic so the music catalog where it was printed had been burned so the customer’s sons wouldn’t be exposed to said pornography:

9.  The time I almost witnessed an actual conception of a child in an elevator in Philly where a hemotology convention was in full swing.

8.  The time I was asked why I hadn’t purchased billboards all over Nashville for a new release.

7.  The time I had to cut out little Valentine hearts for a radio promo.  LOTS.  OF.  VALENTINE.  HEARTS.

6.  The time one of my artists was asked never to return to a well-known organization’s chapel service because she wore open-toed shoes there, to which I nearly said, “focus on your OWN damn toes,” but didn’t.

5.  The time I received a call from a customer that this album cover was pornographic so the music catalog where it was printed had been burned so the customer’s sons wouldn’t be exposed to said pornography:

4.  The time Andy Griffith left me a mean voicemail after I did exactly what he asked me to do.

3.  The time took an artist to get a mani/pedi just before a video shoot.  Which is why I can relate to this:

2.  The time I was asked to purchase BLUE Gatorade for an artist and when I could only find RED Gatorade I was chastised accordingly by the artist’s road manager.

1.  The time I was asked to find hot tea for the same artist, only to find out it was really only for the artist’s road manager with the thing for BLUE Gatorade.

Why Was I Given No Formal Training For This?

3 Mar

DXB toilet

Welcome to Dubai International Airport:

What’s In A Name?

3 Jan

Here’s a glimpse at the self-imposed humiliation I endure on a daily basis. You see, I’m bad with names.  Horrible.  Pathetic.  At my church in California we would break into prayer groups in the middle of service with people we didn’t know and pray for each other after brief introductions.  I could NEVER remember the person’s name I was praying for. 

Me = Mortified.

Then I heard about a technique that COULD NOT FAIL.  Simply put, you repeat the person’s name in your head ten times upon hearing it.  Easy, right?  Imagine my excitement the next Sunday morning when we broke into groups to pray.  

“Hi, I’m Michael.  And you are?”

“Hello, Michael.  My name is Sarah.”


I certainly remembered Sarah’s name, but while repeating it under my breath over and over again, I did not hear a WORD of her prayer request.  Needless to say, when it came time to pray for my new friend SARAH SARAH SARAH, I had no idea HOW to pray for her.  The rest, quite honestly, is a clammy sweat-moustached blur. 

Today I had my teeth cleaned.  My dental hygienist reminds me a lot of our friend Staci. They kinda look alike and their personalities are similar. My dental hygienist’s name is Erin (it’s even embroidered on her smock) but today I kept calling her Staci. The name kind of morphed throughout the appointment:

“So Staci – DOH!”

“Hey Staci – I mean Erin…”

“Hey StaccccccccccccccccccccccccErin?”

“Tell me, Stayrin…”

“So Sssserin…”

Sixty minutes in her chair.  Never got it right.  Not once.