Worth Repeating: Collaboration

I started writing this blog as a reason to write something everyday, and aside from a week of really intense work hours, I’ve come pretty close to meeting that goal. It was also something I felt was unique and worthwhile, sharing my perspective in a hopefully interesting way.

One of the things I wanted to do with this site was add a few other authors. It’s not much of a Collective if its just me, and I fear that I would soon run out of things to say as well.

This site currently gets about 30-40 visits a day on the days that I post, which I feel is very cool. I like stats like that, especially ones that make me feel good. So thank you to those who read and who continue to read.

What I would like to do is once we reach a certain threshold, I’m going to put it at 100 views per day, or 50 subscribers to the blog, whichever comes first, I am going to invite everyone who would like to to submit a guest post. At that point I will post the top 3 to 5, depending on how many submissions I receive, and those top posts will be invited to be guest authors, allowed access to the site to post as they please.

So stay tuned as we get closer to the 100/50 threshold, invite people to read the blog, make comments and involve yourself in the discussion, become a subscriber yourself, and get ready. I’ll post more information as we go along.

Thanks!

Perspective | Why?

I have had a few questions from friends and family the last few days about “the blog”. I’ve wanted to write a post like this but haven’t been able to find the right tone yet. But here goes nothin’…

I have always felt that I have the, call it what you will, gift of a wide perspective. I’m a thinker by nature; I can think back to how I liked to know how things worked, so I had boxes of toys and electronics that I had taken apart and put back together as a kid. I can remember how friends used to come to me to help solve their dilemmas because of my seemingly uncanny ability to help them step outside their problem and see it from a different perspective.

When I was serving as a missionary for my church in Washington DC, I was able to experience a lot of different perspectives, and what happened when two different perspectives were shared. It was interesting to hear a perspective from a sister missionary when we arrived in DC from Utah, and she saw some kids playing in the street, when she said “This reminds me of the Cosby show!”

It was also interesting to hear how two people could look at the same thing and come out with two completely different views. Take the LDS, or “Mormon” church…I don’t really need to elaborate to explain how varied the perspectives are here. My reasons for serving a mission was to spread the gospel, or “good news” and share the love of Christ with people. On more than one occasion I was yelled at, injured, and called Satan, because someone else saw my mission differently.

A few seconds listening to the news during an election can show you how opinions may vary on any number of different topics. I’ve actually tried to avoid political conversations for this very reason, because some people tend to take a differing opinion a little to personally.

When I left the mission, I was given a lesson, of sorts, about perspective. It went something like this:

First, this postulate: Truth is a knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.

In philosophy, a phenomenon is something that we perceive, in other words, “Things as they are”.

The other option, then, is when we see something differently from “as it is”. In this case, our perception differs from “truth”, whatever that might mean, depending on the situation.

Someone who has a so-called “narrow perspective”, given this postulate and its explanation, basically is not seeing things as they are, but rather as they choose to see them. The goal – at least, my goal – is to have a larger overlay, which is to say make sure that the way I see things is the way they are. Get it?

Ok, sorry if that was poorly worded or too hard to follow. The gist is, that there are truths and facts all around us, whether or not we choose to see things the way they are is up to us, and would be the determining factor in whether our perspective is wide or narrow.

So what’s the point? Why do we want a wide perspective? Allow me to list a few benefits:

Slower to anger, because of the ability to see other points of view.

Slower to take offense, for the same reason.

Humility, and equally as important less pride.

Charity, because we can more easily recognize the needs of others.

I’m sure there are many more, but for sake of brevity, I’ll leave those very broad benefits as a starting point.

Now, I’ve tried not to be too polarizing with my blog posts and my perspectives, but I also have left out some of the more, um… substantial posts as well. Maybe we’ll get there, but I’m not a huge fan of controversy, so it may be some time coming. We’ll have to wait and “see”.

Worth Repeating: Guys’ Night Out

Last night I had a handful of guy friends over for food & a movie. We actually watched Dragon Wars with the accompanying RiffTrax. Now, if you haven’t had the experience of watching a movie with a RiffTrax, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Here’s the thing though, I’ve been in relationships on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to this sort of a thing. In the past I’ve been the sole source of entertainment for my significant other, and by default was required to stay home and rarely venture out. Now though I have a very amazing wife with a “highly recognized street value” when referring to how cool she is. (Thanks for that quotable quote, Matt…)

I highly recommend staying in touch with friends and family members when you are married. It lets them know that you still care about them and that they are important to you. ย Find cool things that you all like (food & movies work well for guys’ nights) and have em every once and a while. Your sanity and marriage will benefit from it ๐Ÿ™‚

Worth Repeating: Guys’ (Girls’) Night Out

Worth Repeating: Live Music

So it says up there in the corner that I’m a writer | producer | soundsmith. Some of you may wonder what a soundsmith actually is/does…right? Well, here’s my definition.

I was looking for a name for my company a couple years ago, my company as of right now consisting of myself. I wanted to use my last name in it, my last name obviously being Smith. So I started off with musicsmith, recordsmith, yada yada, none of em worked. Duh! Light went off and out came SoundSmith. Nice ring to it, right? Well, just as a blacksmith of old worked on various types of projects, I too work in a few different areas of the field of sound. I do on-set and post production sound for film, music and commercial recording in studio, and live sound reinforcement. So, there you have it, I’m a self proclaimed SoundSmith.

I honestly love every aspect of what I do, (which is probably why I am not further ahead in my career), but one in particular is doing live sound. I’ve done bigger concerts and events at places like the Salt Palace, Grand America Hotel, Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU Marriott Center and LaVell Edwards Stadium, and Energy Solutions Arena. While I love being spoiled with expensive equipment, huge digital consoles, and enormous amounts of amps and speakers, I too love the intimate and humble setting that is Velour.

I’ve been working at Velour since shortly after it opened, a little over four years ago. I had gone to the venue a few times before asking to work there, and it probably took asking 4 or 5 times to actually start working there, but it was such a cool experience when I finally started. Touring bands from all over the US would come to this humble intimate venue on University Avenue to see a few hundred of die-hard fans ready to sing along to every song. It’s not unusual to hear how an artist or band genuinely loves coming back to Velour because of how much they have loved their experiences here. I’ve heard artists play songs that they’ve never played elsewhere on their tour just as a special gift for such a great crowd.

There’s another reason that I love working at Velour, and it’s not the money…

I’m kind of a huge Indy music fan…

And not only do I get to see some of these great acts come through, but I get to work with them to make them sound great. Some of the few in the last year or two:

Damien Jurado

We Shot The Moon

Sherwood

Benton Paul

Truman

Trevor Hall

Joshua James

Cary Judd

Chris Merritt

Cameron McGill

Hello Kavita

Band of Annuals

Atherton

Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm

The Vibrant Sound

The Second Estate

Allred

Rocky Votolato

(just to name a few.. please check out their music. They are all incredible musicians and bands and deserve a listen.)

Last night was one of those nights that really reinforce why I love doing sound there. Rocky Votolato is currently on tour and played last night, and my wife & I love his music. We’ve been listening to it all week in anticipation for this show. Not only is he incredible live, but he’s one of the most humble and down to earth musicians I’ve met. It was a great show, to say the least. Plus, there’s this:

Velour 11 March, 2010

And this:

(notice the awesomeness of my photoshop skills…the actual album is bigger but the scanner only could catch so much of it…)

So yeah, my fan-ness of Rocky has escalated exponentially due to last night.

So, whether you get to sit behind the sound board and make the music sound as good as you can, or you’re in the crowd, I highly recommend adding some live music to your life. If you’re just getting into it, I recommend some Jazz as well, there’s something unique about the genre because the songs are never the same twice if you’re listening to a combo. One of my favorite genres of all time.

Live Music: Worth Repeating!

First Poll!

A bit of a follow up to an earlier post about rising early. Lets see when you guys are getting up on a daily basis:

Worth Repeating: Alice in Wonderland

I’m back! My apologies for the week-or-so-long hiatus, work was brutal. I added to the brutality, however, by going to see Alice and Wonderland with my wife and some friends at Midnight opening night, knowing full well that I had to be at work at 8am the next morning, in Salt Lake (an hour away).

I’ve had a week or so think about the movie, not that I have by any means spent a large balance of time on it, but here’s my general review, in 5 words or so:

I give it a B-.

Now, if you’re a frequenter of movie reviews, a grade or a score can say a lot, especially if you knew what the expectations of the film were. Alice is a perfect example:

On March 3rd, over at one of my favorite film sites, Cinematical.com, on their reoccurring “box office predictions” post, they predicted that “Alice” would pull in a whopping $64m over the weekend. This is based on their interpretation and expertise, combining such data as how many screens the film is opening on, how much hype there is about the movie, and what time of year the movie is opening. It being March, $64 million wasn’t too shabby a prediction.

How did Alice do? Well, for one, it had the highest opening weekend in March to date. Cinematical says:

I knew Alice in Wonderland was going to do well but I seriously underestimated just how well. Alice had the biggest March opening ever, as well as the strongest opening for a 3D movie and had the best opening in history for a non-sequel.

So, as far as performance in the box office goes, you’d probably give the movie an A. To make $116m in one weekend is no easy task. So why the B-? Because there is oh so much more to a movie than how much money it makes. (Take Lars & The Real Girl for example…)

Now, where I draw the line between worth repeating and worth avoiding is somewhere between that C+ and B- range. Unless a C+ movie has a great performance or some great effects or sound design, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to others. I went into Alice in Wonderland with unusually high expectations myself. I saw the trailer months ago and was immediately filled with excitement, I being the lover of all-things-Burton-Depp-and-Carter that I am.

I was honestly torn between the C+ and B- rating for this one, however. In short, I came out of the movie without that feeling of being taken on a ride or an adventure. Sure, Tim Burton has a reputation of being a little dark and crazy, but he still makes great movies that are a lot of fun to watch over and over again (Big Fish, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Nightmare Before Christmas, Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow and Edward Scissorhands, to name a few…). But for me, Alice lacked that sense of wonder and fulfillment.

I left the movie with an appreciation for the production value of the movie. It was well acted, had very cool special effects, and great sound. I guess where it lacked was in the script. (Why didn’t they get John August for this one? He’s got a pretty decent track record, especially with Burton.)

There was a moment or two where I felt that the movie broke its own set of rules, and that’s a huge one for me. I won’t elaborate as to prevent any spoilers, but needless to say, you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

So much of what makes a movie great rather than good stems from having a great script. You can throw millions of dollars, some audience attracting crew and cast members, and advertise the heck out of it, but those things can’t make a movie great.

Alice is, however, worth repeating. Maybe it was the hour of night I watched it, or my high expectations, but I want to give it another go. It’s a trip worth going on at least once, especially for those, like me, who remember loving the animated movie growing up.

Worth Repeating: Writing

When I think back to the years that I was in school, I vaguely remember my relationship with writing. I remember a short story I wrote when I was really young, probably 3rd or 4th grade, about going to a dinosaur museum and having the dinosaurs coming to life. I remember how imaginative everyone thought I was.

I remember in junior high how I had a knack for writing love poems, even though I never really shared them, except for the one time that a friend of mine really wanted to impress a girl, and asked me to “help” him with the poem. It was one of the better poems I wrote.

I remember in high school how I kind of hated homework all together, but regained a joy for writing after returning to college in 2005. I had a writing class with a great teacher and a great semester of subject matters, mainly because we got to choose a lot of what we wrote about.

Since then, in my pursuit to somehow enter the film industry as a professional, I have begun writing screenplays, both on my own and with writing partners. In the last year and a half, we have written 5 screenplays and 5 treatments…not to shabby some would say. To me and to us, its not a huge feat, since the longest it took us to write 1 script was about 50 or 60 hours of work, and the longest to write a treatment was about 2 days.

But here’s the point: there’s something about writing that is just so uniquely fulfilling. It allows you to create, to express, to imagine, to impress. I read an article or a section of a book back in college about the language of Art, how things can be expressed in art that you can’t really express in words. It rings true even when you’re using words as the medium! We’ve all read a poem or seen a play or a work of art or heard music that in some way spoke to us in ways that we have since sought after because of the way it effected us. But upon trying to relay and share the feeling with another, our words fall short and that person is often unimpressed by the event, not being able to hear the original language of the art.

I completely agree with that idea. Writing is one of many ways I like to interact with art, both in doing it myself as well as in reading the writing of others. I love movies, music, and art and my wife and I love to go on gallery strolls, go to movies, and the theater and live music events. There’s just something about it that you don’t get from the day to day interactions of life. There’s a level of emotional communication that art lends itself to that if we are listening, we can be greatly enriched.

Art, in all of its forms is something worth repeating, both as a spectator and as the creator. Writing specifically has been a huge thrill ride for me, probably because I have seldom run into the dreaded writer’s block. There’s something about coming up with an idea, putting pen to paper, and then watching as someone reads what you just wrote. Watching their eyes light up, watching their lips turn a smile, and hearing them genuinely laugh is that same level of communication that, had I just told them the idea, or “the gist of it”, would have been absent.

However you like to create and express yourself, find ways to spend time doing it. Who knows, you could even make some money at it if a script or novel gets sold, or you record an album and can sell it at shows, or someone wants to buy that piece of art or that photograph from you. And if you’re already sustaining yourself on your art, make sure to take time to reach that “higher level” of emotion and communication.

You’ll find its worth repeating…

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the article I referenced. Thanks to my English 311 teacher Susan Miller for helping me find it ๐Ÿ™‚ http://bit.ly/8X6HYc