Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pawning my soul

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I went to a pawn shop with my father-in-law and brother-in-law. While they perused the power tools, saddles and firearms, I spent most of my time looking at musical instruments, amplifiers and electronics. As I didn't find anything that caught my fancy, I decided to look through the rack of CDs. I saw some old CDs that brought back fond memories (Real McCoy, Boyz II Men, etc.), as well as some Christmas CDs that I was trying to remember if my wife already owned or not.

Then all of a sudden a CD caught my full attention. I looked at the familiar spine with skepticism and carefully pulled it off the shelf from under the stack resting above it. This was the image on the front cover:

That's right - I found All I Fear, my own CD from 2001 sitting the EZ Money pawn shop in Burley, ID. I'm still not sure if I should be flattered or offended. But if you're in the money for a $2 Chris Hartwell album, now you'll know where to go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Live, from Anchorage . . . it's Saturday Night!

What is it with Alaska that makes their constituents choose Saturday Night Live lookalikes as the head of their state government? I mean we all know the whole former Gov. Sarah Palin/Tina Fey comparison:

Well, the other day, I got an email from Alaska's tourism department telling me that I should come visit the state. In that email was a message from the current Alaskan Governor, Sean Parnell, along with the following photo:

First off, he shares a surname with SNL alum Chris Parnell. But what struck me was the uncanny resemblance that he has to another former SNL cast member, Phil Hartman:

So, in a highly scientific study, I decided to take a look at a few other former governors of Alaska and see how they stack up with SNL alumni:

Frank Murkowski and Dana Carvey

Walter Hickel and Jon Lovitz

But one I have yet to place is Tony Knowles:

Any ideas for his SNL doppelganger?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GMAT Report

So, I took the GMAT yesterday. The main reason was to try and best the Quantitative Section score on my previously-taken GRE. So I barely even studied the Verbal Section and spent weeks studying the Quantitative Section. Come test day, I was still not feeling up-to-snuff on all of the theorems, formulas, and equations that are out there, but my brain was full and I was out of time.

First in the test were two 30 minute essay responses. Then I took a five minute break before going head-on into the 75-minute Quantitative Section. By the end of that section, I was fried, and I didn't even think I had really done too well. But I didn't want to take a break and dwell on it, so I went straight into the 75-minute Verbal Section. Almost four hours after starting the test, I finished and was given my scores on the way out.

The first thing I did was check the Quantitative Score. And the funny thing is that I scored at exactly the same percentile as I did on the GRE. So much for all that wasted effort!

Then I saw my Verbal Score. Somehow, my score was eight percentile points higher than my GRE score. And my overall percentile (Quantitative and Verbal together) was significantly higher than my GRE scores. So I guess taking the test was worth it after all.

I wonder what would have happened if I would have focused my studying on the Verbal Section instead. Then my Quantitative Section score might have improved, right? :-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Racing & Retracing" available on iTunes and CDBaby

My new album, Racing & Retracing, is now available at the following locations:

(click on any of the above for the direct link to the album)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40th, Sesame Street!

My favorite character as a kid was definitely Count Von Count. In fact, he taught me how to count. 1 ah, ah, ah . . . 2 ah, ah, ah . . . 3 ah, ah, ah . . .

And then my parents had to teach me that I didn't have to say "ah, ah, ah" after every number.

(P.S. Snuffleupagus will always be Big Bird's imaginary friend to me)

And the winner is . . . (drumroll, please)

Brooke S.! Congratulations, you have won the Racing & Retracing CD giveaway! I will be in contact with you to get the information needed to send you the CD.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Physical CDs are now available directly from me for $10 (cash/check/PayPal). CDs will also be available at ($12.95) within the next week, and Apple iTunes ($9.99 full album or $0.99 per track) within the next couple of months. I will give you all an update when those services are available.

Feel free to contact me or leave a comment on this post with any questions.

(contest winner selected using

Saturday, November 07, 2009

October books

Ender in Exile
Orson Scott Card

Being a fan of Ender's Game, I have read through all of the sequels and concurrent novels. This one just adds another layer to an already confusing landscape of stories that intertwine. I feel the same way about this novel as I felt about the latest Alvin Maker novel from the same author; I don't get to know the characters any more than I already do, which makes the entire book predictable. It's almost as if the author is trying to squeeze every penny out of a series that has been lucrative in the past, rather than coming up with something new.

Mario Facione

It was an fascinating read to learn about this conversion story and the complete change of heart and lifestyle that accompanied the conversion.

Jason F. Wright

An interesting premise (unfolding information written in weekly letters from a husband to his wife over the course of their decades-long relationship) is overshadowed by a dramatic soap opera story lines that makes it border on unbelievable.

Malcolm Gladwell

This book delves into some of the anomalies that produced outliers like the Beatles and Bill Gates. From birth dates, to cultures, to practice time, etc., it is interesting to see how there's always more to a rags to riches story than initially meets the eye.

L. Frank Baum

This was a quick read, as it was meant to be a book for children. However, there are great descriptions and underpinnings of the book that adults can draw from as well. While none of the adventures of Dorothy and her friends is very inventive (for example, a giant spider-like beast that has long been terrorizing the forest is killed in its sleep by the lion in about two sentences), the imagery and fast pace make the book enjoyable.
Mitch Albom

Fitting that I finished this "ghost story" on Halloween night. Having read a couple of Albom's other books, this one seemed to fall right in line with The Five People You Meet in Heaven. That was both good and bad. It was still enjoyable to read and Ablom creates a good narrative, but the book didn't seem to break much new ground or be particularly thought-provoking.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Nov. 9 (Monday) - Closing date for drawing

I received the "Racing & Retracing" CDs in the mail today, and it made me realize that I had not stated a closing date for the drawing I had previously posted. So I have set next Monday, Nov. 9th, as the closing date. Add your comment to this post before midnight on Nov. 9th to be included in the drawing. Good luck!