Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Xmas!!

Ok ok all you Christians, settle down about my post title. I'm a Christian too and just discovered (once again) that I'm ignorant. So I thought I'd post some of the info I found about the spelling or abbreviation of "X-mas" and why it is actually a good substitution to use.

. . . around Christmas each year there are always those who loudly decry the use of the abbreviation "Xmas" as some kind of blasphemy against Christ and Christianity. This concern has been elevated recently with the public debates about manger scenes and the substitution of "holiday" for Christmas in stores and government venues. Among religious folks, the objection to Xmas is usually along the line that people have taken Christ out of Christmas and replaced him with an unknown (since the Greek letter chi, [C,c] which looks like the English letter x, is the symbol for an unknown quantity in mathematics). (link)

The abbreviation of Xmas for Christmas is not irreligious. The first letter of the word Christ in Greek is chi, which is identical to our X. Xmas was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation that was used in tables and charts. In the early days of printing, when font sizes were limited and type was set by hand, abbreviations and ditto marks were used liberally. Xmas came into general use from the church! (link)


Friday, December 14, 2007

How Many Kings Radio Response

I noticed that many people are finding my blog by searching "How Many Kings Downhere" or something to that effect. In case you don't know, How Many Kings is a song that we (downhere) recorded and is on the Bethlehem Skyline album. According to our record label it is doing pretty well at radio right now which is very exciting. Here are a couple of very nice quotes from some radio folks who are playing it.

"How Many Kings – by far the most requested, emailed and called about song we’ve played this year."
- Mike Prendergast / KLTY

"How Many Kings" by Downhere is destined to become a Christmas Classic, it's that GOOD!"
- Jim Epperlein / XM 32 The Message

Wow! Thank you Mike and Jim for such kind words and to any of you who have been calling and emailing about the song!

-To hear the song you could head on over to our myspace page.
- For lyrics click Here.

Buy Bethlehem Skyline:
Through Our Web Site
on iTunes
at (Physical copy)



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Feist Gets Four Grammy Nominations!

I just found out that Leslie Feist picked up four Grammy nominations this year! I just saw her in concert last week and it was a great show! Read the review here.

Here's what she was nominated for:

Best Female Pop Vocal for "1234"
Best New Artist
Best Pop Vocal Album for The Reminder
Best Short Form Music video for "1234"

It's always great to see some good Canadian talent get noticed!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mike Huckabee for President

I'm not often into politics much but it's been really interesting to see how Mike Huckabee has seemed to pick up steam so quickly in the U.S. presidential race. The first time I heard of Mike Huckabee was back around 2000 when he was shown on a comedy special in Canada called Talking To Americans. The host, Rick Mercer, traveled to Arkansas as part of the show and talked to Governor Mike Huckabee. He obviously posed questions well enough to get Huckabee to say what he wanted him to say as he would do with every other American he talked to. And this is what made the show so funny. So Huckabee made a fool of himself and that was the first time I heard his name. Since then, and since I started running, I heard how he was a runner and was able to lose quite a bit of weight running. He's even run several marathons! So that's impressive and made me take notice of him again.

In the last couple of weeks two blogs that I often check have both posted about their support of Huckabee. One blogger, Randy Alcorn, is a writer and a pastor and lives in Colorado. I've read his books Safely Home and Lord Foulgrin's Letters and I posted about them a while back. The other, Dean Karnazes, is a runner and the Ultramarathon Man. He works towards beating childhood obesity, he's all about being fit and eating healthy and he lives in California. He's been a running inspiration to me and reading his book before a race is always helpful.

These guys come from very different places yet both of them support Huckabee. I'm not able to vote and that's fine because I'm a proud Canadian but if I were to vote in the U.S. Mike Huckabee would have my vote at this point. It'll be interesting to see how it all goes down.

To see what Alcorn and Karnazes had to say about Huckabee click on their names above.

Below is the clip from Talking To Americans as well as a great commercial Huckabee did with Chuck Norris. It made me laugh anyway.



Thursday, December 06, 2007


Ahhhhhh, there she is. A thing of beauty. Behold her humility. She just sits there quietly, unassuming, as if nothing is even happening, yet nothing could be further from the truth. She is however just starting to take a break due to the cold weather. It gets a little more difficult for her to work when it's so chilly outside and the insides of her aren't able to reach the 40-62 degrees C (105F-145F) she so desires. Normally when we throw in what to us is waste, she takes it and gets to work right away. Now that the weather has turned and she's kind of small her work will have to wait till the Spring and our waste will just have to pile up until she's full which she almost is.

Ok, ok, sorry. I couldn't help myself. It is just a compost container but something about it is so cool to me. I mean you just throw in some food scraps (the right ones of course) stir it a few times a week and in a matter of weeks it's all turned into some very fine dirt that can feed your garden or lawn or whatever. You're reducing your waste and producing something that can be used later and can save you a little dough. All for minimal work.

The area I live in is great for encouraging composting. I was just checking my region's web site and it looks like I could drive to 3 different places and pick up a FREE compost container like the one above. Nice! Here's some info about composting taken directly from that same web site.

Composting is one of the ways we all can contribute to reducing the need for landfills and preserving our environment. By composting our own household garbage, we can turn kitchen and yard waste into a dark, nutrient-rich earthy-smelling material which can be given back to the earth as an environmentally friendly soil conditioner.

By returning organic matter back to the soil, our plants will grow healthier and we can change this "waste" into a valuable resource for future generations. Make composting a part of your waste reduction routine!

What can you compost? One-third of your household garbage can be composted!
* vegetable cuttings
* fruit peels
* cores and rinds
* coffee grounds
* egg shells
* tea bags
* plant cuttings
* grass trimmings
* leafy vines
Things you should not compost include
- Meats, fish and bones
- Fatty foods (cheese, bustter, oils)
- Animal Feces
- Diseased or insect infected plants
- Weeds with mature seeds

For a great little brochure/pamphlet/information thingy, download the pdf in this link. It's full of lots of information about composting.

OK, that's it for now. I'll have to do another post on the old compost when Spring rolls around and she's able to start working again. Maybe some pictures of the lovely dirt she produces will be in order.



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Feist Concert Review

Being a full time touring musician makes going to see a live show a little different for me I think. I'm always at concerts, thing is they are usually ones I'm playing in! So to get to sit back and remember what it's like to be an audience member is great.

We had seats in the center of the front row of the mezzanine at Center in the Square in Kitchener ON. They were great seats considering I just picked them up the morning of the show. The show started with another Canadian act called Great Lake Swimmers. The vocalist had a sort of Sufjan-esque quality to his sound and the music could even be considered in the same genre as Sufjan, very organic, musical, real. Their bass player played an upright bass and they used a pump organ at one point. I really appreciated how their use of real instruments and how everything I heard was being produced from stage. A great opening for Feist.

The thing I really loved about Feist's performance is how simple and organic it all seemed. As you can see from the picture the stage only has instruments on it. There are no props and hardly anything noticeable in the way of lights. Then on the screen behind them there was not one piece of pre-recorded video. And only once in the show I was at was there video of anyone on stage. Even then it was just a simple shot of the kick drum pedal. The only other thing projected on the screen was a sort of shadow puppet type of thing that was all being created live. It's hard to explain and it was also hard to figure out how it was all happening which made it even more cool and unique. Here's a video clip of one of her songs with the shadows going on in the background.

Leslie Feist's vocals were spot on all night. And her guitar playing was great! When she spoke she was funny and endearing. She made sure we knew she was home grown here in Canada and that always wins over an audience. Her band members were great musicians. I'm not sure how many instruments I saw them all play but 4 guys covered everything from upright piano to flugel horn to saxophone to vibes to flute and even some pretty convincing sounding background vocals that often achieved a sound similar to the album. There was a sense of camaraderie between everyone on stage and when Feist brought out Great Lake Swimmers at the end it seemed like they were all a happy family.

All in all it was a great show. If you are considering going, go! Live is best and this performance was all live. Hopefully next time I see Feist it's not in an arena although I wouldn't be surprised with how well she is doing. Here is one of Apple's latest ipod ads that features a Feist song and video. I've gotta say that it makes me proud to see all this great music coming out of Canada and it reminds me that I need to get out and see live shows more often!



Monday, December 03, 2007

Post Wide Eyed and Mystified Tour Report

Not so long ago we (downhere) finished our Wide-Eyed and Mystified Tour with Jason Gray and Lanae Hale. Jason Gray just did a post on his blog where he gives a pretty good description of the Downhere team and how we operate. I found it interesting to get someone else's perspective on how we do everything and thought maybe someone else would too. Plus, Jason is an awesome guy and a very talented musician and performer so while you're at his site why not put on one of his songs to listen to while you read his post?



Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Proud Daddy Moment

My 3 year old son Jonah has his own drum kit and today we decided to try and fix the tuning of the floor tom. So Daddy went to work on it with the drum key, trying to get the weird rattle out of it and give it some tone. As much tone as you can get from a cheap kids drum kit anyway. I finally got it to a place where I thought it was sounding pretty good when Jonah said, not sounding too impressed, "It sounds like my other tom now!"
Sherri and I looked at each other and I asked him to go and play the other tom. He walked over and hit it and what do you know, it was exactly the same pitch! And it's not like he had been just playing it or anything. Somehow I had tuned the floor tom to the same note as the 2nd rack tom. Anyway, it seems like he's got a pretty good ear. We're guessing he's got his Uncle Mark's ear.
So yes, I'm a proud Daddy once again!



Global Warming

Well happy December from Southern Ontario Canada! We woke up to somewhere around 15cm of snow today. It felt like more than that though. I got stuck twice trying to get out of the driveway for church this morning. Then since we live on a hill I couldn't go up and ended up backing down the entire hill to get to a flat spot so I could start driving to church. As you can see Jonah and I had some outside time in the snow which was good seeing as he threw up last night while grandma was baby sitting. He's not 100% but we figured since the snow was here and he wanted to go out so bad it was worth it.

Environment Canada is also predicting that this will be our coldest winter in 15 years! Link. No problem with me. It just means we should be able to have our outdoor rink a little longer this year and that we should have more snow! Woo hoo. Maybe we can get into cross country skiing this year?




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