Saturday, July 31, 2010

long exposures

When I was a kid, I had a pinhole camera. I loved the ancient-looking results, the beautiful prints that weren't exactly fuzzy in the way of a badly-focused conventional picture but dreamlike and (in the color ones) beautifully colored in a painterly way.

Jason Young turned me on to this gallery of long-exposure pinhole photos, some of which were exposed for a year or more. Just beautiful!

Take a look.

Friday, July 30, 2010

let's not get used to this kind of thing

"The Ground Zero Mosque": a triumph of marketing language, and as is often the case with marketing language, false in almost every respect. (In this case the "the" is accurate.)

We've known for some time that it's *not* a mosque at all... but it shouldn't have been this hard, or taken this long, to find out that it's not at Ground Zero.

Just one more example of people whipping up a fury out of nothing, and then taking it to fever pitch, and keeping it there for weeks.

Read all about it. And please read this excellent commentary by Clyde Haberman (referred to in the above article), that goes into detail about the hypocrisy and opportunism behind this campaign.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

new protagonists album

... is in the works! We just got into the studio for our first session toward the album. Here's a sneak peek, a new composition called "Loong." Listen

Sunday, July 25, 2010

king william jazz collective

I'm editing this Tuesday's Protagonists Jazz Party right now. Our special guests are the King William Jazz Collective, a 12-piece band that does some really unusual and nice material. Here's a sneak peek: "Everything Must Change," featuring their vocalist Joan Carroll.

if you can't see the player below, click on the title "king william jazz collective" above

Thursday, July 22, 2010

how popular is greta, anyway?

Here's an interesting chart: The name Greta hits a huge peak in 1932 (for obvious reasons! Greta Garbo's career was hitting its peak right then); then, weirdly, another peak in 1966?! What on earth. Then, it completely disappears off the top 1000 in the eighties and nineties. And now it's heading toward its peak level again.

Of course, even at its most popular, as the chart shows, it's only 4 hundredths of a percent of the female population. If it were that high right now, it would mean 60,000 Gretas, if I'm doing my math right; now it's only 3 hundredths of a percent, which comes out to 45,000 Gretas. That seems like a lot of Gretas.

I still wonder what caused the Greta boom of the mid-sixties.

Monday, July 19, 2010

meet greta - more pictures

Just in case you're not a Facebook friend, take a look at this gallery of pictures taken by sisters, brothers, and parents, surrounding the baby's birth.

pictures of greta brake

Friday, July 16, 2010

meet greta

Introducing Greta Lind Saenger Brake. Born on July 14th, 2010.

Our little girl! We can't wait to meet her: to see what she turns out to be like. She's already a wonder.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

jobs and work

There was a decent article on Jonathan Riggs' blog a while back, that talked about the issue of a working worship leader "ministering to the Lord" while ministering to other people — an idea that translates into most people's lives insofar as it's really worthwhile to dig the intrinsic aspects of what you're doing and not just whether someone else liked it.

The article itself is right on. Very perceptive and true. But it ended with a question intended to provoke a large comments section: "What do you do to keep your music ministry from becoming 'just a job?' " So far my response is the only one, and instead of answering that question, I questioned it.

Of course, the phrase "just a job" is a telling one. If your last name is Smith, you had an ancestor back there in the Middle Ages somewhere whose job as a blacksmith was such a part of his identity that it became his name. What you did was who you were: Taylor, Schumacher, Miller.

Names like this should remind us that we're in a weird place and time, when we seesaw between two extreme approaches to career: that it doesn't define you, and that it should be incredibly fulfilling. Our ancestors, those tailors and shoemakers and millers, knew better. Your job does define you in some way, and slogging away at it is a noble calling; and therefore it doesn't have to be incredibly fulfilling.

Paul the Apostle was a tentmaker.

I'm a professional musician — composer, arranger, producer, worship leader, jazz performer. The times when my work becomes tedious and sloggy, which happen often, are the times I can look back on with most joy, because there's nothing mere about a job, and there's nothing mere about digging into it.

When leading worship, thinking about the tempo, writing in a key change at just the right moment, adding or subtracting an instrument, changing ranges, coming up with the perfect riff, adjusting the microphone or the instrument — this is when I'm at play in the fields of the Lord, where discipline and freedom become indistinguishable. These aren't distractions from worship: they are worship.

When you discover your ministry is 'just' a job, then rejoice, and do the job.