A blog whereby I motivate myself, and my readers, to punch me in the mouth.

  "Punchworthy feeds our deepest Freudian wishes!" --Entertainment

  "The consumate rocker's rocker. Charming, personable... a sucking void of inescapable inner turmoil."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

How getting the iPhones went down

As promised, here is a hopefully not-too-painful retelling of how getting the iPhones went down. See, my employers decided that everyone in the company should have an iPhone as a perk. I heartily agree with this idea. So at about 9:30am on Friday morning (the day the phones were released) we (everyone in the company) packed up the cars with reading material, games, chairs, umbrellas, and a big cooler, and hit the sidewalk in front of the local at&t/cingular store. This is a lot of the day's progress, as recorded by me on my laptop as events unfolded. Or failed to.

9:45am – And here we are, sitting outside the Cingular wireless store in Savoy, IL. The entire staff of Spinlight studio. Still waiting for Matt’s wife, Candy, to show up. She better be quick about it, too, because word is they’ve only got 20 phones—and there are 14 people in line right now.

I can’t get a wireless signal, or I’d be posting updates throughout the day. Instead, I’m just going to fire up the laptop every couple hours or so. Wouldn’t want the world to miss out on any of the exciting details of this saga! After it’s over.


10:32am – And here we still are. Candy made it in time to sit with us. We let one guy go ahead because he was trapped in the middle of our agency. We kind of figure it’s an all-or-nothing endeavor, so if that one guy sinks us, so be it.

In the last 45mins I’ve both learned how to play—and been badly beaten at—the Nintendo DS. It’s hard to see the screen out here in the sun. And I’ve introduced people to the wonders of Paste magazine.

Also, I’ve put on sunscreen. Lots of it. I’m not drinking anything yet. I see no need to speed up the inevitable. But the manager of this store came out and said we could use their bathroom and that they have water and stuff for us if we need it. Pretty nice. Unfortunately, he won’t tell us if they have enough phones for everyone, or if they have enough 8G phones for us. (The phones come in 8G and 4G version—I’ve already volunteered to accept the 4G version if it comes down to that.)

I wonder where we’re gonna get lunch?


11:48am – When I started working for this company, I had to pick a screen finish for the MacBook Pro that they were going to buy me—matte or glossy. I had no clue, but I knew I’d be spending a lot of hours with it, so I did some internet research. The number one complaint against the glossy screen was that you couldn’t use it in direct sunlight. People were seriously bent out of shape. But, they said, you couldn’t hardly use the matte screen in sunlight, either, so it wasn’t such a huge setback. I chose matte. Figured it would reduce the glare from the fluorescent lights that I would actually be working under, and not a problem for the direct sunlight under which I would not.

The sun has officially come out. And in addition to being pretty warm, as suns tend to be, it is also rendering my screen almost unreadable. Really, though, it’s pretty nice out here. I bet it’s only maybe 85 degrees, tops, and there’s a really nice breeze going most of the time. I haven’t even broken out the umbrella yet.

I’m slowly grinding my way through Paste. Matt, Candy, Jolene, Linda, and Chris are playing Euchre. Debby is reading a book and watching Euchre (this may well be the world’s worst spectator sport). Matt says, “Just think, In only three more hours, we’ll be halfway there!”

The FedEx truck showed up an hour or two ago. The guy walked in with two small boxes. Not even a dolly. We were not encouraged. BUT.. our account exec, Linda, came over her yesterday and talked to a manager, and he said they already had them. No clue if any of that is true. UPS just got here, and unloaded a whole cart, but word is the drop will be made only via FedEx.

THE LINE: The person at the head of the line actually slept here in a tent in the parking lot. Then a few of his friends. Then there are a couple other guys up there with a soccer ball. A volleyball, actually, which they’ve been playing soccer with over the line chain for most of the time we’ve been here. You would think if you were going to sit in line for 8 hours playing soccer, you’d rummage up a soccer ball. Then there’s a kid who’s parents are professors. He’s just hanging out. Writing in a journal, looks like. Then there’s an empty chair—the guy who we let in front of us. We think he’s maybe not going to be spending a lot of time in the actual line this afternoon. He started off first thing this morning making friends with everyone and giving people food and stuff. Then one of his homies showed up about 30 mins ago and he told us he was gonna run for a sec but he’d be right back. Tick, tick, tick… Behind us, there’s a guy who works at Provena who seems nice. Behind him there’s a trio of college guys who brought a grill (!) ..aww yeah.. and a cooler full of meat and drinks. They also sent a runner to the Schnucks behind us for a case of beer and some bag ice. They are living large. After that there’s a half dozen or so other people—some of whom know Matt & Debby. Nothing special going on back there. Looks like it’s a line of… 27?.. currently.

Turns out that we really have no idea how many phones they have. Somebody was messing with somebody. It’s all a mystery. The best pre-event intelligence we have suggested that each store would get 250 phones. No clue. Sure hope this pans out.

Candy, Linda, and Jolene just ran to A&W/KFC to pick up some lunch. Mmm… two things I’m doing today which Brant would do under no circumstances.

Actually, since I’m writing a book right now, anyway, I should go ahead and clear things up a bit. I am not paying for this phone.

So Brant would probably do this. So long as he didn’t have to eat the KFC.

The phone is being paid for—everyone at the office will have one. And for those of you saying, “YES! BUT IT’S NOT EVEN THE PHONE COST, THE PLAN WILL COST YOU A KAJILLION DOLLARS DON’T YOU KNOW CHILDREN ARE STARVING IN AFRICA!?!?” Um.. no.. actually, it won’t. Because that’s paid for, too. As is the KFC, and my salary for a day of sitting here on the sidewalk doing whatever I feel like, and hanging out with a group of people who’s company I genuinely enjoy and am immensely blessed to be associated with in any way.

Lunchtime! Later, y’all.

1:51pm – Oh man. I was hoping that when I powered up the laptop this time, it would tell me it’s 3 o’clock or so. It is not. Still, it’s not horrible. I had to hold the umbrella for about an hour of pretty intense sun, but now it’s overcast again. There were breezes all along, so not really bad at all.

The little manager man has been out to adjust the line. Linda went in & hassled them because there was a whole circle/line thing going on that was not at all cool. Made it very confusing to figure out who was where. I’m not sitting in line for 8hrs to see other people get the only phones. One of the first 2 guys girlfriend showed up. We’ll see if she’s gonna try to sneak in. There’s another one of their friends who’s here, too, but it’s hard to say whether or not he’s going to try it. There are at least 7 people here willing to call them on it. : ]] While manager dude was out here he walked all around and didn’t-answer questions. (“I don’t know what the device situation will be.”) Apparently, he isn’t allowed to use the word “phone.” Only “device.” He assures us, though, that if they run out of “devices”, that we can all order the phone here, and our orders will be given “priority”, because the Cingular store order comes “from the warehouse.” We have serious doubts about that. Don’t ALL the phones come from the warehouse?

Matt thinks that the guy tipped his hand, though. He told us they’d be open until at least 10pm. Seems unlikely that they’d keep the doors open until 10 to sell no phones, doesn’t it?

All talking has now ceased. People hae fallen into reading and doing puzzles and stuff. I think I’m going to work on that Paste magazine again.. Ooh! Now there’s a photographer here taking shots of the party. Probably for the News Gazette. There was already a radio guy here from WDWS. I have no doubt a camera crew from one of the local news channels will be by later in the day. Lookit us, Mom! We’re on the TV!

All for now.

3:22pm – Hot again. Had to get out the umbrella. I think I may make it through the whole Paste before the end of the day. Matt & Chris just went to get us ice cream. Gotta like that. I’m having black walnut flavor, which is something I learned from my Grandpa Brown. Good stuff. My back hurts, so I think I’ll go take a little walkaround. Only two and a half more hours to go. They had better have these phones.

4:00pm – They just locked up the store, so they can get ready for the big push. I went and took advantage of the facilities before they did so, and while I was in there I got to plunge their toilet! Yay! This is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Sure enough, channel 3 news was here around 3:30, and now there’s another guy here with a notebook to talk to people. Gotta be a newspaper guy.

We figure that around 5 o’clock we’ll pack up the cooler, chairs, etc so we’re lean and mean and ready to go in. Deb has made us all promise that if she goes down before the big push, we’ll drag her body across the threshold behind us.

They were all out of black walnut, so I had cookies-n-cream, instead.

This has got to be the easiest line-sit ever. People were wearing astronaut diapers and sitting in 35-degreee rain at midnight to get a PS3. We haven’t even run out of cheetos yet.

Here are some pics I took w/ the MacBook camera.


4:54pm – Chris’s wife, Emelia is here hanging out with us now. The newspaper guy did turn out to be from the News Gazette, and he was very interested in the whole “entire company” angle. So we’ll probably get a little write-up out of it.

The Cingular staff is putting up new posters. The manager briefly put up a hand-drawn one that said, “SOLD OUT”. He so cra-zy!

Jamie Stout, the Mac sysadmin from Wolfram, showed up a few minutes ago. He said the word circulating there is that at&t stores in communities under 200,000 are guaranteed to have “at least” 6 phones. Over 200,000 “at least” 30 phones. And all Apples stores “at least” 30 phones.

I’m hanging on that “at least”.

A few people have been driving past and telling us to get lives, girlfriends, etc.. it’s a good time.

Gonna pack up the laptop now. If we actually get phones, it’ll be back to the studio to get things set up. If we don’t.. I don’t know. Probably have to get some kind of counseling or something. Or 8 hours of our lives back. Whichever is available.

PRETTY EXCITING STUFF, HUH!!?? Well, you ask for a description of 9hrs on a sidewalk and this is what you get.

I'm not sure how many phones they really did have, but it appeared they had 20 of the 8G version. I don't know how many 4s were tacked on after that. If Jamie was right, they would've only had another 10. Very sad for those behind us. I'm really glad we went when we did. And I'm really glad we went, in general. It was a good time with good people. I'm a lucky guy, indeed.

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Friday, June 29, 2007


Okay, as a sort of rough update... I sat in line all day with the folks from the office. As a company perk, they bought iPhones for everybody.

Yes, that actually is as super-cool as it sounds.

I had my Macbook there, but couldn't get wireless access while waiting in line. Instead, I kept a timed log of the day's events. I'll edit that and post it tomorrow probably--but I warn you... deadly boring. That's what that is. Have you ever waited in line for something for a long time? You know that stage you reach, especially if it's hot, where your head is tilted back just slightly on the top of your spine and your mouth is hanging open like a trout? Well imagine how entertaining the text-only version of that moment is.

Meantime, here's another pic of the phone. This time, lit up. Just to prove it can be done.

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Ten long hours later...

More to come.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jiggitty Jig

We're home again. Miss us?

Well, we missed you, too. Though I am somewhat saddened to learn, upon our return, that the "Yard Church" has now passed out of fashion, and the Catacomb Church is where it's all at. Still, I think it makes a good album title, so I'll probably use it anyway.

For this album. That I'm not recording.

That makes it even hip-er, really.

On our vacation, we caught a lot of fish. If we ever get the pictures, I'll post some here. We also ate a lot of fish, which were tasty. Mmm.

Markus is turning into a rabid fisherman--he and I went out one day and he caught a couple dozen nice fish. Plus he hooked a big one that broke him off. I told him I think it's probably time to upgrade his tackle--if he's going to be out in the boat hooking whales, he'll need the gear to get it done. Emma LOVES fish. To the extent that she wants to hug and kiss them. I don't think most little girls want to hug and kiss fish--at least not once they find out the amount of slime involved--but she seems to be bucking the trend. She spent quite a bit of time one day catching fish out of a bucket with her hands and delivering them to me and dad so we could cut them up. Deb is practicing dressing fish, so she can help clean up Markus' messes. Matthew is tolerating fishing, but that's about it. He's good at it.. caught a couple really nice 15" bass one day.. but just not loving it.

And now we're home, and I'm at work, trying to "catch up." But here's what I think about the new workplace... it doesn't seem to be the kind of place where you can be gone and then catch up. It sort of just has a current. Like a stream. And you can't "catch up" or "get ahead". You just get IN. And then go with the flow. And, since the principal keepers of the flow are currently in a meeting that not even they remembered they were supposed to have.. and since we all spent the first 2hrs of the day scheming up ways to get everybody one of the new iPhones on the day they're released... going with the flow appears to take the form of updating my blog.

I'm done with that now, so I guess I'll bend my brain around a little real work, and see if I can't write something brilliant about something.

Good to be back. I'll try and say something interesting by the end of the week.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"The Yard Church Heresy"

It strikes me that this is an excellent name for a book. Or an album.

Either way, I'll go ahead and write that up sometime, m'kay? Alright.






Sunday, June 17, 2007

happy father's day

On this, the most holy of paternal days, I have mixed feelings about fatherhood.

Not about the institution--it's a good one. Yay fathers.

But about my own marginal participation in the sport of father-being.

In fact, I just wrote a whole big post about it--and then deleted the whole thing because I couldn't stand it.

Sorry, but that's how I roll. I know it's hard to accept, but you'll just have to get over it. If you'd like an in-depth discussion of fatherhood and my feelings of inadequacy, I guess you'll just have to give me a call or something.

But just a few minutes ago, Deb and I got to explain the lyrics of Derek Webb's "new law" to Markus. He actually had a really good grasp on the entire concept. So I must be doing something right.

don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music

don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice

don’t teach me about loving my enemies

don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law

what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

Saturday, June 16, 2007

update: June 16, 2007

You know you're in for a snoozer of a blog post when you can't even come up with a title.

"Here's a guy," you might say to yourself, "who has absolutely nothing to say."

You wouldn't be too far off. But hey, I like talking to you, so sue me, okay?

I'm putting some new/old tunes up on the myspace page right now. I've GOT to make some new recordings. They don't have to be awesome, but I should at least sit down w/ a guitar and rip a few off, just so I can stop rotating scraplettes of would-be music that I recorded on cassettes in my basement ten years ago. I understand I'm not trying to break into the Billboard "hot 100" or anything, but come on..

Oh, and on a related note, I might get to play a little show in August. Details have yet to solidify, but I'm poking my musically-inclined friends to see if I can like up another iteration of The Eclectic Mix band that played with me last time out. I've also got one lined up for June 2008--so now it's sort of just a challenge to see how many I can squeeze into the next 12 months w/out upsetting the apple cart too much.

Kids are playing in the basement. Deb's working on homework and I'm on standby to help (thus the stupid amount of online time, playing myspace). I'd better go start pushing people through the tub soon, too--it's bath day! They will react like drowning kittens. What's up with that, anyway?

And that's all for now.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Almost famous (redoux)

It turns out, if you just keep submitting photos, eventually they'll tell you that you really are the handsome devil you've always believed yourself to be.

Here is me, looking more like more good-looking people. (And Maurice Gibb)

ahh! ahh! ahh! ahh!

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Dear guitar players...

..here is why we should all give up.

Oh, and he also sings.

Of course, if it helps to muddy the waters and keep us all in comfortable delusion, we can bend this conversation in the direction of "Let's compare this guy with any single one of the 'American Idol' contest winners and then you try and tell me why it's cool that so many people know them and so few know him."

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Monday, June 11, 2007

almost famous

I'm just disappointed there wasn't room for my #10 match.. Scott Bakula.

Oh, and also about about the Andy Warhol thing. I mean.. I guess it's kind of cool. Kind of like how I share a birthday with Tom Petty. But when the game you're playing is "who do you look like?" neither one of these gentlemen are who you want in your starting lineup.


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Sunday, June 10, 2007

look what i can do... (redux)

This is a lot more impressive than the ear thing.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

New personal catchphrase


Monday, June 04, 2007

Two bags of otters' noses, please.

This debate was interesting enough that I actually read all of it. It sort of reads like Monty Python, with the main difference being that Python way funnier because it's both devastatingly brilliant and intentionally ridiculous. This one lacks the latter, and is worse for the absent juxtaposition.

Roughly.. The question is whether or not Christianity is good for the world. One guy says no, and/because its unnecessary complexity causes a lot more trouble than good. The other guy says yes, and/because without it it's pretty much impossible to use words like "good."

My version is way shorter than the real thing. But the real thing is done in the form of letters back and forth, so it chunks itself up nicely enough to trick you into continuing to read.

One of the things that I always find disappointing about debates like this is the lack of perspective. By which I mean, I don't think there's a good way to have a truly rational discussion of something so immense and profound as a "philosophy of life" within the bounds of what amounts to a single conversation. It's all fine to talk (obviously I'm a big fan), but it's so difficult to know what we're talking about, that I don't think the point served is one of immediate or even semi-immediate resolution. It's just one conversation.

And, an integral part of the boundary defining the field of play is the life experience of the participants. It's no good to pretend we're arguing in a vacuum devoid of personal bias. To make an appeal to impartial rationalism. No such thing exists! I guess on a very small scale, sure.. but when you ramp the whole thing up, you're just going to end up with a sort of conversational theory of relativity, where the devaluation of reason increases exponentially as the complexity of intervening factors reaches critical mass. I'm givin' her all she's got, Cap'n, but I don't think she can take much more!

But then, for me, it all comes down to relationships and communication. Which (as one would suspect, based on my assertions above) is a conclusion bolstered by my personal experience, both with life in general, and with Jesus. I think that's what it's all about.

Interestingly, when it comes down to the two guys here, if I had to choose a guy (since I think it's all about relationships), I would probably choose the "Christianity is bad" guy. I don't know why. That's just how I roll. But, he and I would probably end up having issues. Because from my point of view, neither of us would have "positions," we would have a relationship, and differing "beliefs." And I'm cool with that. I'll leave all that "transforming of hearts and minds" business up to God. Think what you think, man.

But my feelings get hurt when people go out of their way to viciously attack my beliefs--like when they write entire books with the sole purpose of dogging me--especially when we have a relationship. That is also how I roll. Yo. And I've got a feeling that, since he doesn't have a deity to pin all that transformational responsibility on.. I'm going to get an earful. I'm happy enough to leave him alone--or at least converse respectfully, explaining my view on things and listening to his, without focusing on how hopelessly deluded we each think the other is, or simplifying opposing view for the purpose of a good lampoon. Hopefully we both learn something, and edify each other. Maybe even it'll leak out into the rest of the world. But I think this guy is not cool with "you leave me alone and I'll leave you alone". No, he came here for an argument!

And for his part, he would probably just want to smack me for being stupid and talking on and on.

But I can totally understand that. Which is why I'm shutting up now.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Thank you for not killing us

Just got back from two nights of tent camping with the boys and their cub scout pack.

When you're out in the wild, you always have to worry that something is going to get you. Wolves. Hyenas. Coyotes. Bad s'more.. you can never tell. So you've got to stay super vigilant.

This time it was the weather gunning for us. We were camping under gi-normous old oak trees that looked like they'd probably been sitting around, right before we got there, saying wouldn't it be nice if they had some campers to fall on and crush to death--so the thunderstorms in the forecast were somewhat concerning. But the first night, while they were having hailstorms here at the house (20 minutes away from our campsite) we got nothing. And while they got a downpour the second night, we had a light sprinkle.

I'm not sure how you can be vigilant for a thunderstorm, but I guess we must've been. All I know is, I'm glad we didn't get squished, and I'd like to give a big shout-out to God, country, and whoever else might have been responsible for not killing us.

All in all, it turned out great. The boys had a good time. The new tent performed flawlessly. No one got lost or poison ivy, and the lake did not--despite what you may have heard--have al-li-ga-tors.

It wasn't perfect, of course. I think maybe we were so busy watching for storms that we let our guard down in other areas. So to help us on future outings, I've compiled this short list of things we should keep an eye out for:

1. More bag ice.

2. Outhouses without frenzied, violent, pooping birds in them. (although, I guess if a pooping bird is going to be somewhere...)

3. Outhouses without whatever else was in there--unless it was the birds causing that stink, in which case see #2. (insert #2 joke here)

4. Cub Scouts.

5. Participatory campfire games. Especially ones that involve numbering off, clapping, changing chairs repeatedly, and loud chanting of the phrase, "BIG BOOTY! BIG BOOTY! BIG BOOTY, BIG BOOTY, BIG BOOTY! OH YEAH! BIG BOOTY! BIG BOOTY!" (This is not a description of more than one game.)

6. Rogue underwear in confined spaces.

7. Not getting sucked into staying a second night just because the boys really, really want to.

Sorry about the number of poop-related references in this list. But when you spend two whole days with ten year old boys it's a prevalent theme. Can't be helped. No matter how much you wish it could.

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