Saturday, April 30, 2011

So Much For Everyone

I am somewhat troubled inside. During this last week at while I was at work an individual walked into the store who I thought I recognized. He had sat down with a guitar so I went over and asked if he needed a hand with anything, I looked him dead in the eye and quickly realized who he was.

If you had read my old blog you may remember a series of posts called "The Loner", these posts were about this kid who happened to be sitting in front of me this week. He was clinging to a piece of mahogany like it was the last thing he had to cling to. He was broken.

Let me refresh you on the back story. During my junior high years this individual was in my class. Being somewhat overweight this individual was constantly picked on. The kids would keep going back to pick on him because he gave the best reaction, often throwing fits of rage.

In grade eight he left. He simply left. Never again to dawn the doorways of Springs Christian Academy. An Academy that was everything but Christian, everything opposite to the teachings of Christ. It was not the institution itself that turned its back on this student but rather the people inside it, especially his classmates.

Just like that. A life turned upside down because a series of kids were ass holes.

Despite the hard times that this kid went through, and believe me, they went far beyond being bullied out of a school in junior high, he has big dreams. A luthier I do believe, to create guitars and stringed instruments from scratch. He already buys them to simply take them apart, and he loves to do it.

But do you know what the real kicker is? This kid, without graduating high school, while suffering heavy loss in his life, with no more than a few close friends, has already and will continue to accomplish more than those who made his life Hell.

With this I say: So much for everyone.
Don't let those in your past define who you are.
You are you, not what they did to you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chat Roulette?

It was about a month ago now that I found a few interesting Youtube videos. The videos consisted of a man named "Merton" playing his piano and singing songs for random strangers on the controversial website Chat Roulette.

Here is the first video that he had posted, if your twelve years old, ask your parents to watch it first, he cusses once or twice.

So why am I showing you this? What is so special about a Hoodie wearing guy playing the piano for a bunch of strangers over the internet? Allow me to explain.

Chat Roulette, is a website with a very simple concept. You can go onto your computer, enable your webcam and microphone and then get paired up with strangers from all over the world. The name Chat Roulette truly speaks for itself.
But it didn't take too long for Chat Roulette to be used and abused by its users. Conversations quickly went from Hi's and Hello's to explicit actions and vulgarity of all sorts. Chat Roulette was effectively labeled a dark corner of the internet. It is not uncommon to go on to this site and see more male nudity in ten minutes than most of you have seen in your life.

With that being said, there is one common denominator that relates to all the people that Merton played to. That being, they smiled. As Merton tickled the ivory's and made up impromptu lyrics nearly every other user got a good laugh out of it, it is something that it out of the ordinary. Instead of being a naked dude it was someone singing you a song. There is no doubt that music resonates with people all over the world, no matter the culture or background that you are coming from.

While I scanned through other related YouTube videos, I found a series of videos called "An Ode to Merton." Once again, a simple idea. Giving credit to Merton for originally founding the idea, other musicians would play and sing to Chat Roulette users, eliciting the same response.

After getting over a little apprehension I decided to pick up a guitar and head on over to Chat Roulette. I played a series of chords and sang about whatever came to my head. It was honestly one of the best experiences that I have had on the internet to date.

Person after person coming up on screen would smile and laugh at the lyrics that were being quickly generated and spewed out. Was it cheap laughs? Oh yeah, there was nothing really to it, but was it worth it? Without doubt.

With some individuals, one girl from Florida for example, what started out as a 4 minute tune turned into a 2 hour set. Playing and playing and playing some more, each new song, each new lyric eliciting a fit of laughter and smiles.

So why waste my time playing guitar to strangers on an internet chat site?

As you know, I think we need a little more positivity around this globe and especially on the internet. That is exactly what I am trying to accomplish. Yet apart from spreading smiles the experience was valuable to me in the sense that I generated my own laughter as well. Let me assure you, I didn't only run into a whole bunch of people who were eager to hear a song or two, the majority of the people that I was partnered with usually "Nexted" me or simply gave me some sort of crude gesture. But out of the whole thing I had an insane amount of laughing, I think I heard someone say that the more you laugh, the longer you live. If that be the case I'm sure they could start writing prescriptions for Chat Roulette.

Remember, He is risen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wondering What's Up?

So if your reading this, odds are you have seen my Facebook page pop up in your newsfeed over the past few days. If you have seen my wall your probably thinking "What type of site did that weirdo click on?" Well let me explain.

Around two weeks ago my Dad departed Winnipeg en route to Indonesia. My local church, Soul Sanctuary, sponsors an orphanage out in Indonesia called Wisma Kasih, a place for orphaned children or for children who have seen violence and lost a parent due to violence and poverty. He went on a fact finding mission to see how the orphanage needed help, what could Soul Sanctuary do to benefit Wisma Kasih.

After his stay with the children which lasted a week and a half he few back home with a vision of how to help these kids. In fact, he didn't just come back with a vision, he came back with the kids. No, not in his suitcase but rather he brought them back via social networking.

As I understand it, when the children go to school they are able to use Facebook and other forms of communication. Therefore, I am now friends with 20 odd Indonesian girls who all call my Dad "Father".

I watched some video that my dad brought back and was near moved to tears. The love that these kids have for western culture and for Canada in specific is insane. On Sunday May 1st my Dad and his traveling partner will present what they learned to the community of Soul Sanctuary and I highly recommend you show up. I don't care if you don't believe in God, I don't care if you have never been to "church" before or what-have-you. Show up. You will be moved.

So if you see a bunch of Facebook posts on my wall, or if you happen to get a random friend request, be chill about it. It is not some sketchy app that I accidentally clicked on
but rather 100% real people looking for connection.

Peace and love, or else.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Faith and Labels

"The supporting evidence either makes the cross the single biggest hoax of all time, or the hope of all humanity."
- Max Lucado

Something that has been ever-growing within me during the past few weeks is my love of God. God - the eternal, everlasting, divine, supernatural, all powerful, all knowing, the-list-could-go-on. Yes, the God of the Bible, the God of Christendom. I cannot personally fathom a world without God, as far as I see, it just makes sense.

Over that past few years I have seen many "Christians" stray away from the label "Christian" and rather supplement it with "Son/Daughter of Christ" etc. For example: When I say Christian, you say? Probably Westboro Baptist Church, maybe hypocrite? With such a negative response it is no wonder why someone would want to distance themselves from the label "Christian".

But we have devoted so much time to finding the label that suits us, or doesn't suit us, that we seemed to have neglected the message behind the variety of labels. Let me tell you, your label just gives you something to fall back on when you don't understand your own beliefs. When your asked "What does it mean to be a Christian?" you are already labeled Christian so you don't see the need, or rather you don't know how, to explain your belief, your faith, your whatever it may be.

We rely on our label to do all the talking for us. The "I can go through the motions and never really need to know what I believe" mentality has to stop, because it is far more common than you think, and all it leads to is a big crash. Let's put this into perspective: You attend every class all year, you listen to the lectures but you never fully understand what you are doing. You can get by like this for a while, but eventually, when the test comes along you are going to crash. Same deal with your faith, you can only fake it for so long. Own it, make it yours.

Stop worrying about what you are called, Christian, Christ Follower, whatever it may be and begin to understand your faith and what it means. Begin to open up your Bible and live out the teachings of Christ.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Ultimate Goal in Life...

I have been putting off blogging all week. I have had plenty of time to do it, but it seems like I have always found an excuse not to do it. As for that, I apologize.
When was the last time you had a seriously "trippy" experience? Let me rephrase that, when was the last time you had a seriously trippy experience while completely sober? While mine was last night, while sleeping. Although the experience is somewhat personal and I would rather not share it, I had a dream that had a direct relation to the date that it was, and to boot, I have had the week off so I was not even aware that this date was coming up. Anyways, that to say, the human subconscious seriously weirds me out sometimes.

On another note,

It often happens this way; sometimes I feel insecure about something I have written, yeah I'll admit it... I feel that what I wrote was too scatter brained or would be too hard for anyone to follow, but once I post those type of posts I get an incredible amount of positive feedback, therefore reinforcing me posting blogs and musings that I don't always feel comfortable sharing.

After one of my recent posts on smiling I happened to get a series of texts and Facebook messages. Each and everyone was uplifting and encouraging in some way. When I initially wrote up the draft for "And Sometimes a Smile" I didn't really know where I was going to go with it. I felt totally apprehensive about posting it, but once I got feedback from it, posting it was the best thing I could have done.

Let me break it down for you, my ultimate goal in life is to make a difference.

I want to change someones life for the better. I have already had plenty of opportunities to do this and I hope that I have been successful in most of them. Like I said, once I posted "And Sometimes a Smile" I received a whole lot of positive feedback. But I would say that the most important message communicated to me came in the form of a Facebook message from a girl that I have known for about 2-3 years now, she happens to be a few years younger than me but is a very mature and level headed person.

The context of her message was simple, it was a thank-you. She told me that I had succeeded in at least one life, I made some sort of a difference in her life. This is honestly the greatest joy that I could experience. Knowing that I have in some way, made a difference.
May you slow down so that you don't miss a thing,
May the eyes of your heart be enlightened.
May you be fully present, right here, right now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quick Explanation

It is exam season, that explains the leave of absence from the blog. I write two exams tomorrow, it's going to be a heavy day, keep me in your prayers. But I can assure you, I have a review (at least 1) in the works as well as a pretty solid piece dealing with relationships. I am sure you will be able to take something away from it.

Anyways, I leave you with a video. What more could you want out of a Youtube video?
You get:
- 100.5 the Peak
- Said the Whale
- We Are The City
- Dan Mangan
- Hannah Georgas
- The Zolas
And the list goes on...

I would also like to highlight that my review of Del Barber's Love Songs for the Last 20 made it onto Del's press page, pretty sweet deal. You can read the review here -

See you back here later in the week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rebecca Black? No, James Reimer? Yes!

So the Leafs are not making the playoffs this year. But that's okay. Here is some homegrown talent making his mark on the NHL.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And Sometimes a Smile

There has always been this little thought that I have stored in the back of my head since high school. I had heard the idea reiterated time and time again by countless numbers of teachers, mentors and speakers. The idea is simple, smile.

They say that it takes more muscles to force a frown than it does to make a smile. Whether that is true or not, I could care less, but the idea behind it is that you may as well smile because it's less effort. But is it really less effort? Think about it, when do you smile? When something has gone your way? When someone made you feel special? Think back for a second, picture a treasured memory and reminisce it... Feel a lot more light hearted now? Easier to smile per chance?
When you walk from class to class at school do you smile? I sure don't... I often find myself caught in a trance of sorts, barrelling down hallways and pathways getting prepared for my next class. Often I will walk by people I know without even noticing them, only to receive a text message a minute later from them asking me why I am upset today. I guess that I just look mad, not a stigma I would like to have associated with myself...

The point here is that although it may seem easy to smile, it's not, you have to teach yourself to smile. If I do not tell myself to put a smile on, which takes about just as much effort as not thinking about smiling, I will not smile. Basic concept eh?

The power of a smile is incomparable to any other gesture. The power that is held in between your lips and teeth is more than you could imagine. I consciously tell myself to smile, only because, the person who sees the smile, may just needed it that day. I can guarantee you that one smile can change someones day, I am sure it has changed some of yours.

On a somewhat related note, I love interacting with strangers, people that I do not know. Whether it be handing out pamphlets and giving a two line speech to everyone who walks through a door, or waving at a car full of teenagers (usually girls, you know how I do) while they pull up next to me at a traffic light. There is something mysterious, foreign and yet intoxicating about interaction with people you do not know. Whenever I do find myself in these situations I always put on a smile. It gives off that warmth, that feeling of "Hey! We just met but I feel like I have known you for years!" You know, all that good stuff.

Now, all that mumbo jumbo to say one thing. Smile.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bye Bye Myspace, Hello Bandcamp!

It's most definitely a shift in the times, my friends. Remember good ol' Myspace? I am not talking about Myspace in the sense of networking friends together but rather in the context of Myspace Music. Let me tell you, Myspace Music is officially dead.

I can remember putting together the social media aspect of my first "band." Yeah, Eventual Epic was on Facebook (still is I think, down to 20 fans or so) and we were also Myspace. We never really garnished a lot of attention but we had a Myspace, that meant we were legit.

I went onto Myspace yesterday to listen to a few bands. First off was Annex Theory, (listen to 'em here - I have never really been a huge fan of harder genres of music but it's a buddies band and they are seriously talented, so I couldn't not (double negative, I know, so shut up) listen to them. I also was on Myspace to listen to Julia Kasdorf, ( I heard her open for Del Barber a few years ago and have been in love ever since. The only problem being, I don't think she has released anything for years now, sad sad story.

Anyways, while listening to tunes, like I do, the beats stopped. So naturally I went to the page to see what happened. As I opened the page Myspace had decided to tell me that I needed to log in to continue listening. In the top right corner was an exit button, so I clicked it. What happened next is unimaginable...

Every song on the playlist had been shrunken to a 30 second preview.

Seriously?! Myspace, you didn't just do that did you? I hope you know, you have officially shot yourselves in the foot, for the last time. I honestly don't remember Eventual Epic's password, and I have way to many accounts on this thing called the internet, I am not going to make another one so I can use your porn-ad-filled, slow, emo girl nursing website. I am sorry, but I am gone.

After I left Myspace (and took a walk to cool my jets) I headed over to the new Myspace, actually, I don't like comparing it to Myspace, lets just call it Bandcamp.

Bandcamp was brought to my attention some time ago, it is that same basic idea as Myspace Music, but it kicks it in the shins and then uses it as a stepping stool to get over the fence. Bandcamp has officially pushed Myspace to the curb with to reluctance.

With the same initial concept of Myspace, allowing artists share their music, Bandcamp takes things to the next level. Bandcamp will allow the user (band) to put up their tunes, allow their tunes to be shared via multiple internet embedding resources and also allows them to sell their tunes.

Bandcamp also boasts about having a 5:1 album to track purchase rate while the majority of other sites (i.e. iTunes) have a 16:1 track to album purchase rate. What does that mean exactly? More sales - meaning - more money in your pocket!

A note to all you musicians out their. Tell Myspace to go home. Sign up for a Bandcamp account, and let it be. I can guarantee you that your experience on Bandcamp will blow away what you have ever done on Myspace.

Peace and Love, or else.