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July 19-30, 2010

Rule #35
Don’t be afraid.

This has been coming up a lot in my life lately, the whole ideal of fear crippling you from action. Maybe fear isn’t the right word, let’s go with insecurity, whether that’s in risk taking, relationships, experiences, whatever, I don’t think it’s worth it, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Over the past twelve days I’ve quit my job, worked on ad sales, and Bianca and I have laid out nearly every page of the new issue.  I’m insanely stoked about it, it’s going to look great (plus, I wrote the cover story).

I spent yesterday making a huge circle around central Texas visiting all my grandparents. It’s a strange feeling, visiting your extended family for the first time as an individual as opposed to a part of a larger family. You’re forced to relate one on one rather than relaying through your parents and siblings.  I’ve never really had the classical extended family relationship, just Christmas and the occasional vacation. There’s a mountain of information I don’t know about these people in my life and at this point they’ve forgotten a lot of it.  All that said, my trek turned out really well, had some good chats and better food. Totally worth it.

Within the next two hours I have every intention of moving 800 miles across the country back to Missouri.  I think the typical response is bittersweet. HM’s been great, but like any non-sociopath I miss my friends and family.  It’s not easy building a social life in the middle of Taylor, TX.

I’ve definitely been blessed by my time here at the Ranch, Doug’s great, Bianca and Jeff have been great, I’ve had a ton of opportunities come my way that I would have otherwise missed out on, and learned a lot of practical magazineish stuff that ought to come in handy in the future. I’d love to have a hand in HM’s future endeavors (coughletmekeepbuildingthepodcastDougcough).

I have a part time job lined up back home, but I really just want to soak in what I’ve missed rather than dive right back into working. I really miss just breathing.

If you’re not one of the dozen of people from back home that read my blog and have any interest in keeping up with me, my personal blog is sosafe.tumblr.com, I’d love to hear from you.Photo 91

Read more, talk less.

Reading: Atlas Shrugged
Watching: Family Guy
Listening: Thrice – Illusion of SafetyJuly 13-18, 2010

Rule #34
Pay attention to detail.

Bonus #35
Don’t let your story tell you how to write it.

I quit my other job Wednesday, it’s getting to be that time.

I’ve been in butt kicking mode lately.  From Tuesday to Friday I hammered through my For Today story. I transcribed a good chunk of all the conversations I recorded, made an outline of the story I wanted to write and sat down and went to work. By 4pm Thursday I was a third of the way into my outline and way over my 2000 word limit, so I streamlined what I had, and then realized that what I had wasn’t nearly as interesting as what I left off, so I scrapped it and started over. Fortunately, round two left me with some vision and a clear path, so it came together fairly quickly after that.

Once I wrapped that up I jumped onto building Episode 22 of the HM Magazine Podcast. It had kinda been passed around like a foster child for most of the summer. I had it, then Jeff had it, then Jeff left and I got it again, and I’m very glad I did.  Typically, HM tries to produce their podcast in Audacity, the thing is, I hate Audacity, and decided to use Garageband instead.  Doug had most of the content that he wanted hammered down, I just needed to arrange it, add music, and cut a few host-ish tracks to help it flow. I wrapped up at about five o’clock this morning, I really enjoyed that project, I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again.

For future interns and anyone who plans to record an interview and upload it digitally: If you are using any sort of sound editing software to record your interview (Audacity, Garageband, etc) turn off the metronome while you’re recording. It makes the sound engineer’s life much more difficult, and your interviewee doesn’t need to speak to a click.

Side note, two weeks from now I’ll be sleeping in my own bed. I’m pretty stoked to get home, but I gotta say I love what I’ve been doing lately.

Reading: Atlas Shrugged
Watching: American Gangster
Listening: The HM Magazine Podcast (Episode 22) <– I’ll post a download link soon.

July 12, 2010

Rule #33
Learn to listen.

This is normally the part of my diary where I apologize for failing to promptly update things, but I promise I have a good excuse this time, I spent the past three days on the Scream the Prayer Tour with For Today and In the Midst of Lions (along with Maylene, A Plea for Purging, Blessed by a Broken Heart, The Color Morale, The Crimson Armada, I the Breather, The Great Commission, and Hundredth). First and foremost, catch this tour, the bands are amazing, and are insanely great guys. I seriously could not say enough about how welcoming everyone on the tour was, especially ITMOL and For Today.

After two weeks of asking different people different questions, I finally got confirmation Thursday morning, so that night Jeff and I drove out to Houston and stayed with some family friends of mine.  The next morning we rolled into the venue around noon and I spent the next few hours getting adjusted, meeting people, and taking everything in.  Jeff, on the other hand, had a ridiculous amount of trouble between interview stuff and car issues before finally rolling out to drive home after the show.  I’m gonna miss that dude.

Houston was miserable. It was insanely hot, humid, and the venue was less than stellar.  Most of the bands sounded rough thanks to the house speakers blowing, and the building itself was stifling.  It was the first time I’d been in Texas and would have rather been outside.  Fortunately, the next two days were much more forgiving.

I really lucked out with my van assignment.  I have a weird connection with the guys in In the Midst of Lions, we happen to know a lot of the same people, and that made getting adjusted extremely easy.  Crack a few jokes and all’s well.  I almost wish I was doing the story on them just because of all the time we spent together. I casually met the guys at Cornerstone two years ago, and Ryan actually remember exactly who I was, which blew my mind. Jake’s friends in high school are now some of my best friends in college, and Sam and I spent a good six hours chatting between San Antonio and Dallas.  Those guys are awesome and such a blessing, I really hope I get the chance to go out with them again in the future.

For Today absolutely rule.  I was blown away by how many kids left every night after they finished their set. I won’t say much about the guys because that’s for the story, and you can pick it up for yourself.  I’m so glad I got this assignment, and even more so that I went into the tour with a blank slate, I didn’t have an angle or agenda and decided to just let them speak for themselves and came back with some real quality material.

San Antonio ruled, and Dallas was great as well, took a Greyhound back to Austin and made it back to the ranch in one successful piece.  I’m still sifting through my notes and am crazy stoked to get to work on the story.

Saturday night my sister texted me and said the family was together watching Almost Famous in my honor. It made me smile.

I could talk about the tour for hours, but I honestly don’t feel like messing with it right now. If you wanna hear more email me at nathan@hmmag.com.

Oh, and I got my first bit of hate mail. Great success.

Watching: An old Chevelle press release
Reading: Atlas Shrugged
Listening: For Today – Breaker and In the Midst of Lions – The Heart of Man

July 8, 2010

Rule #31
Put yourself out there.

Bonus Rule #32 (since I’ve neglected this beast for the past week)
Never stop learning

Last time on Lost Nate’s blog…

I’ve spent the past two weeks bouncing between the fine PR folks at Facedown Records trying to hammer down this whole “going on tour with the band” thing, and finally, after dozens of emails and absolutely no more waiting room I got an email back this morning confirming everything.  Basically, I’m hopping on the Scream the Prayer Tour for the next few days.  My story is over For Today, but I’ll be riding with the boys in In the Midst of Lions.  I think I goes without saying that I am incredibly stoked about this opportunity. Not only am I going on tour with some of my favorite bands, but I’m putting together the biggest journalist endeavor of my life and doing it for my favorite magazine.  I dare you to find a better summer gig. Try me.

I spent yesterday in Taylor working on ad sales.  Later today I’m planning on making a few pitches to my list of bands and companies that would benefit from our services.  After I wrapped all that up Jeff and I drove into Austin and watched Thrice play at Emo’s.  Something  you should know: Thrice is one of my top four favorite bands of all time (along with Beloved, As Cities Burn, and Brand New) I absolutely love that band, and Jeff is right there with me.  I’ve seen Thrice a few times before, but this was the first time I’ve seen them with someone who cares as much as I do about their music. The review should be up shortly.

During the opening bands Jeff and I made a list of individuals you typically see at a show (and their most stereotypical characteristics), including, but not limited to: The underage girl, the guy who’s slightly taller than average, “I’m not indie” guy, the girl in her late 20’s who’s absolutely hammered, the Norwegian black metal warrior, the guy who’s way to old to be there, the jerk who shoves everyone that’s not in the pit, the three guys that start the pit, the Asian guy, the hipsterette, the overweight emo kid, the scenester that didn’t get the memo, the guy throwing up metal horns the entire time, and the mom. I’m sure we had more (the digital age hippie, the straight edge kid, and the east coast hardcore crew come to mind).

In other news, Jeff is leaving us tomorrow 🙁 fortunately, he’ll be driving up to Houston with me for the first day of my tour stint before heading out, so we’ll get to kick it a little while longer.

Did I mention I’m going on tour?

Watching: Chuck
Reading: Atlas Shrugged
Listening: For Today – Portraits

June 29, 2010

Rule #30
You’ve gotta learn how the box is made before you can think outside it.

I had a pretty nifty idea yesterday.  For the big cover story I’m working on, I’m gonna try and see if I can hop on the tour for a few days and come back with my story. I’ve still got to clear it with DVP, but fortunately I have a few contacts on the actual tour itself, so stay tuned on that one.

We cleaned hardcore yesterday. I edited a few stories, but the important thing is we cleaned HAAARD-CORE. It’s like a whole new office living area. Bianca and I joined our forces and made a legit lasagna that we shared with Jeff, Tornado, and Tornado’s daughter, Alyssa. It was a good time.

In other news, Doug is gone this week, he and the crew drug the trailer up to this years Cornerstone Festival. We all have a decent idea of what we can be working on, but I think by Friday we’re gonna be wondering what else we can work on. I’m hoping while he’s there he can help me out with that idea two paragraphs ago. I’m not overly optimistic that it’ll happen, but I do think it’s in the realm of possibility.

Watching: Lord, Save us from your Followers
Reading: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs
Listening: The Showdown – Blood in the Gears

June 28, 2010

Rule #29
Quit trying to be someone else.

This weekend was beautifully relaxed.  Worked Saturday, and accomplished absolutely nothing from 6PM Saturday until now.  I needed the breather for sure.

I’ve been reading Chuck Kolsterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.  Like every other twenty-something aspiring writer, I wish I was half as clever as that man is, but by shooting for that I’d be clearly contradicting rule #29.  He brings up a lot of insanely valid point, specifically, ever since the premiere of The Real World in 1992, people are trying harder and harder to minimize their personalities into one key characteristic, whether that be a racial identity, a gender role, an athletic persona, a skill, or a mindset.  People find character types that they somewhat identify with and try to model their personalities around them, and (at least in my own experience) when you don’t fit into one of these pop culture models, something doesn’t seem to fit. I think it’s easier to relate with people when you dumb down your identity to one element, if my first impression of someone is “Oh, they’re the infeminite minority figure” then pop culture has taught me basically everything I should expect from that person, and 90% of the time those expectations are dead on, because my new friend is basing his identity of the same cultural figures I am.

My favorite example of stock character roles is the Brains/Face/Brawn/Wildcard featured everywhere from The A Team to Ghostbusters.  You don’t care about BA’s personal interests, you just care that he pities fools. I never walked away from Ghostbusters feeling like I knew Egon on any level other than the fact that the man was brilliant and maybe crossing the streams isn’t such a bad idea after all.

My point here is, I do this in a lot of my personal relationships, subdividing my friends into the character roles they fill best and not expecting anything more from them (my siblings and I joke about this stuff all the time, but it’s insanely true).  There’s nothing wrong with being the the girl who hides behind her paint brush, or the inseparable couple, or the clever guy or the introspective poet, but I think being limited to that dynamic is horribly crippling.  I’m not saying I’m gonna stop doing this anytime soon (I’m constantly writing a screen play in my head with these character types). I’m just making myself aware of it, so if I decide it’s a problem I know where to fix it.

Media teaches us how to identify with character types, it’s a lot harder to identify with real characters.

Watching: We made a Reggae song yesterday
Reading: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs
Listening: The Museum – Let Love Win

June 26, 2010

Rule #28
Make time to unwind.

This is what I did last night.
mychildren-haste-the-day-083-copy

Watching: Grown Ups
Reading: The Things They Carried
Listening: mychildren mybride – Lost Boy

June 25, 2010

Rule #27
Check the labels.

Yesterday was a borderline disaster.

At ten-to-four I found out that I needed to interview A Plea for Purging by five, so I grabbed my iPod, a note book and the two back issues with stories on the band and spent the next half hour prepping for the interview.  By 4:20 I had a list of questions, names, album titles and other general information that may come in handy, two tapes and had Plea’s vocalist, Andy, on the phone by 4:25.

The interview itself was great, I felt like I had solid questions, and Andy gave great answers.  Every time I interview a band afterwards I really just wanna be friends with the person I interviewed, just be like, “Hey, you wanna grab Taco Bell and play Tekken for a while?” I would definitely kick it with Andy.

Anyway, after the interview I pop my tape from the recorder and realize that instead of the 30 minute tape that was supposed to be in the case, it had been replaced with a 15 minute tape. I essentially lost the last half of my interview because the wrong tape was in the wrong case. Needless to say, I was absolutely livid.

Fortunately, Andy gave me just enough quality material in the first fifteen minutes that I was able to sit down and put something together this afternoon.  I’m still kinda bummed because that last half had some real gems in it about God and growing up and the state of our scene.

I’m supposed to interview For Today sometime in the next few days, the only problem is the band is touring overseas right now and then goes straight to Cornerstone when they get back, so basically I won’t be able to get the interview until literally the day before the original deadline (fortunately, I’m getting an extension from July 2nd to the 9th).

Aside from the mentioned hiccups everything seems to be falling into place for this issue, at least on my end.  I have all the albums I’m supposed to review (I suspect a few more will find their way into my stack).  Hopefully Doug will give me an ad sales/collections crash course today before he leaves for the festival, I’d hate to lose a week of productivity.

I’m throwing down in three hours. I am absolutely stoked. Matthew Hastings, while I highly doubt you read my blog, I’m comin’ for you tonight.

Watching: Youth in Revolt
Reading: old Plea interviews
Listening: A Plea for Purging – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

June 22-24, 2010

Rule #26
Get over it.

I woke up really angry this morning.  Woke up isn’t exactly the right phrase, lets just say I was pissed when I got out of bed this morning.  My whole plan to sleep last night didn’t exactly pan out as I’d hoped.  Instead, I stayed up working on the desktop wallpaper for HM’s gracious supporters and bounced a few emails around for the next issue.  The crappy part was laying in bed from three to seven without accomplishing much.  I would greatly appreciate it if I passed out at a reasonable time tonight.

I may be the only one, but I’m reaching one of those periods in my life where everything I own is breaking down on me.  Six weeks before I arrived here my car broke down, so I had to buy a new one.  Two weeks before I arrived the keyboard on my laptop went out, so I jacked a spare keyboard from a friend.  Two weeks ago Crash got hit by a car and broke his leg (went to the doctor today, he’s looking so much better).  This weekend either the battery, charger or something much more important on my laptop crapped out on me, so I’m using the dinosaur in the intern’s office (this thing is killing my productivity).  At some point between driving from Dallas and driving to work on Tuesday I lost a hubcap, and now my iPod is refusing to turn off.  Most of it isn’t anything immediately necessary, just horribly inconvienant.

Btw, those risks I mentioned didn’t exactly pan out as I would have hoped, but I’ll manage.

I need to invest in a library card.

Tomorrow – mychildren mybride and Haste the Day in Austin.  I’m not sure you understand how much I need this show.

All my reading/viewing materials and most of my music are on my computer, so that complicates typical sign off, so even though I’m sure you don’t care, bare with me.

Watching: Toy Story 3
Reading: The Things They Carried
Listening: In the Midst of Lions – The Heart of Man

June 14-21, 2010

Rule #25
Know your limits.

I took a “vacation” this weekend.  I use that term loosely.  Typically vacations are chill and refreshing, and my four day weekend was certainly refreshing, but I can’t exactly say the same for the chill element.

As I mentioned before, my roommate Tyler and his lovely wife Jessica got married this weekend, so I made the trek home for a four day weekend for the bachelor party, wedding, Father’s Day, and a free travel Monday.  I was successfully functioning at 2am Saturday morning after 2 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours.  I have every intention of banking on this whole youth thing while I can.

It was wonderful to see my friends and family again, fortunately I got to see most of the people I wanted to (Andrew, Josh, and Limecooler, I’ll make it up in August). I took a few risks while I was gone, I still don’t know how they’re going to pan out, but I’m confident how ever it turns out will be for the best.

Now that I’m back in the working saddle, I started contacting the publicists at Facedown Records to set up interviews for our upcoming features. I’m stoked to have my hands on the entire span of an issue, rather than sink or swim after showing up just before the deadline. I’m sure it’ll be equally busy, but I feel like I’ll have a better gauge of where I am and where I need to be.

Tonight – Metalica simulcast with Megadeath, Anthrax, and Slayer.  It’s gonna get heavy.

Watching: The A-Team
Reading: The Things They Carried
Listening: For Today – Ekklesia

June 9-13, 2010

Rule #24
In any relationship, you can either insist on being right, or you can insist on being happy.

I would apologize to those of you who’ve missed keeping up with this thing, but in all honesty, blogging is a very low priority on my to do list right now.  It’s nothing personal, I love each and everyone of you (some of you literally, but most of you in the way U2 loves Chicago) and hopefully once things mellow out I’ll be able to give this thing the attention it deserves.

I spent the bulk of Wednesday and Thursday designing the header for the Top 20 Hip Hop Albums and the HM Mixtape. Worked at the Hut on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and today. I’m putting in a solid 25 hours a week there, plus however much time I’m putting into hitting our deadline (which we decided to extend to Monday rather than killing ourselves trying to finish by Thursday). I spent my free time yesterday wrestling with PhotoShop for a good six hours.  I have very very very little experience with the program and kept having to backtrack and repair one thing or another.  Needless to say, it was extremely frustrating.

But busyness and life stuff I can handle. I survive, it’s what I do best. It’s everything else that’s exhausting.

Friday afternoon Crash got out of the yard and I didn’t notice it until over two hours later, little bugger’s far too reckless for his own good (sounds like a certain intern I know). Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find him. I went outside to hunt him down and saw him curled up underneath the camper Doug keeps parked at the Ranch, but he wasn’t crawling out to meet me when I called him, and that’s extremely unusual.

I lean under to see him and realize that the entire underside of his body is covered in blood and his front paw is absolutely thrashed. I finally coax him out and he’s carrying his leg at one of those awkward “I don’t think your arm’s supposed to bend that way” angles.  So, I give Jeff my keys, pick Crash up and we rush into town to find a vet. A half hour later the vet tells me it looks like he was hit by a car and that his leg was broken just above the elbow (right about where the sleeve on a t-shirt would end on a person). I can’t afford x-rays, pins, or plates, so we splinted it as best as we could and hopefully he can do the rest. He’s young, healthy, and has a really solid immune system, so I’m confident his ability to pull this one out.

So basically, he got out, and over the span of two hours, got hit by a car and limped himself back home (where we’ve lived for a month) so we could find him.  Tell me my dog isn’t brilliant, I dare you.

I have a lot of faith in Crash, he’s insanely resilient. The only problem is, the break is right by the nerve that connects the feeling in his leg to the rest of his body, and if the break slips it could severe the nerve and he’d lose the leg. I have no doubts that Crash would be fine as an amputee, but it wouldn’t exactly be ideal.

It’s been weird watching him the past two days, after the accident he was just exhausted, but ate and had plenty of water, yesterday he wouldn’t eat or go to the bathroom and just seemed really depressed and almost nonresponsive. It was like watching a stroke patient (doc said the collision gave him a concussion, so that probably explains it). On the bright side, today he’s energetic, eating, drinking and took a “League of Their Own” length piss this morning (can I say piss on here?).

I’m just concerned like any parent/pet owner would be, Crash’s my family down here (not to be confused with the legions of extended family I have in the area). He’s home. I don’t think I’ve been that shaken in a long time.

Now it’s just a matter of keeping him healthy and both of us in proper spirits, but it’ll work out.

On a brighter note, the new Impending Doom album is beautifully violent and I really wanna go see The A-Team.

poor guy :(

poor guy 🙁

Watching: The OC
Reading: Everything I can possibly find on caring for a crippled dog.
Listening: Life in Jersey – Plotted Points

June 8, 2010

Rule #23
Find what works for you.

Doug Van Pelt is a beast. We’re inching closer and closer to our deadline and the closer we get the longer we seem to be taking. Otis, Bianca and I seem to be rotating our job duties in shifts, Jeff is a morning person, Bianca carries our afternoons, and I take off once the sun goes down.  Obviously, we’re all working during those periods (except when those shifts involve sleeping).  Bianca and Jeff typically turn in before one, today I was hammering away until a little before four.  They also wake up much earlier than I do, so it balances out.  My point here is, Doug runs on full steam that entire period.  They start when he rolls in and I stop when he leaves.  That man is a beast. Someone buy him an espresso machine, and maybe a car or a vacation.

Anyway, we’re trying really really really hard to finish this asap.  I’m not sure when our new deadline is, maybe tomorrow, the day after?  I’m getting to the point where I don’t really know what else I can do.  The Impending Doom review fell into my lap, I’ve never really gotten into Impending Doom before, they do what they do really well, but I just don’t really dig that sorta metal.  I can enjoy it, but blast beats all just sound the same to me.

I’ve edited more text and photos in the last week than I have in my entire life, Holy crap.  I’m stoked any time I can get away from the small computer details and find a change of pace.  Which brings me to how I spent 10pm to 3am:

The big spread for the 25th Anniversary Issue is HM’s Top 100 Christian Rock Albums of All Time.  To compliment that, Doug polled a selection of experts in the Christian Hip Hop industry to compile HM’s Top 20 Christian Hip Hop Albums. There’s some math here, so try and keep up. Basically, each expert turned in 20 albums (five experts x 20 albums= 100 albums). I had to eliminate any albums that were mentioned more than once (22 to be exact) so I didn’t end up repeating the same work over again (this has nothing to do with the actual formula, just a little house cleaning).

Every album on the experts list is then given a number of points depending on where it falls (#1 gets 20, #20 gets 1, you can fill in the blanks) from there I added up the total on each album (Ex.1 gave album A 9pts, ex 2, 3, 4 didn’t have album A on their list, ex. 5 gave album A 9 pts = 19pts) and multiplied that total by the number of times it was mentioned (album A is mentioned twice, so 19 x 2=38). This keeps any particular album that is rated highly by one individual from beating out another album that was mentioned in a less prominent slot by all five experts. Ex. 3 may think Album B is extraordinary, but no one else does while everyone things Album A is great (ex 3 gave album B 20 pts, but since album A was named by two experts 19pts x 2=38, so album A ranks higher than album B).

From there we have a new problem, a bunch of artists have such a broad career that no amount of experts can agree on any one specific album, so to remedy that I added up the totals from the artists albums with the lowest ranking (Doug Van Pelt gets recognized for Album A and Album C, and Album D, but album A has a higher total score than the other two, so the scores from Albums C and D are added together) and divided them by two, and added that to the highest ranking album (Album C+D= 14 divided by 2=7, seven is added to Album A’s score, 38, bringing Album A’s score to 45)

The 20 albums with the highest score go on the list accordingly

Album Score =  points x times mentioned + (total of other albums divided by 2)

Album A = (9 +10) x 2 + [(5+9)/2] = 45

I really hope that makes sense to someone besides me.

Watching: I wish I was watching Sports Center so I could figure out this Big 12 mess
Reading: Back Issues, and every spread that crosses my desk.
Listening: Impending Doom – There Will Be Violence

June 7, 2010

Rule #22
Use the right tool for the job.

I think Otis wants my office.  After I updated last we heard some serious scurrying going on under the kitchen floor, so we decide to strap up and investigate.  I grabbed my bat and ten minutes later was attempting to climb under our trailer. #1 There are some freaking huge spiders down there, #2 Don’t trust Otis to hold your ladder for you, he will let you fall. (in this case, replace “ladder” with “chair” and imagine me going over five feet of siding while standing on the back of the chair). #3 Military crawling with a busted hand blows.

Moving on, more deadline today.  I think we’re at the point where we’ve acknowledged that we’ve passed our deadline, but there’s really nothing we can do about it for now aside from continuing to plug away at our lay out. I finished the album reviews, letters to the editor, and my behind the scenes feature, Otis is working on town hall, and pick of the litter, Bianca jumped ship and went home for someone’s graduation and then got stranded in Dallas.

Tomorrow, survival. I’m shooting for table of contents, lifestyles, and maybe some ads. I’m ready for this madness to end, and I’m stoked to see a final product and get it out there.  I’m still trying to figure out what my Cornerstone agenda is; I’d love to make it out, but I’m not sure if I have the money to skip work.

Watching: Jeff play NCAA Football 2007
Reading: Lord of the Flies
Listening: A Day to Remember – For Those Who Have Heart

June 4-6, 2010

Rule #21
If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

I’m behind on this because I’m absolutely exhausted in every since of the phrase. Deadline’s come and gone and we’re still not done, I’m planning on knocking out what I have of the album reviews, letters to the editor and Pick of the Litter this weekend, as well as finding a photo for my Behind the Scenes spread.  I’m a little frustrated just because I still don’t have everything I need to finish my job, but most of what I need is out of my hands.

I’m working day shifts on the weekends at Pizza Hut, so right now resting isn’t really part of the equation.  Man may not be able to live on bread alone, but I seem to get getting by all right on energy drinks. At this rate, I’m predicting another week before my system revolts and I go into a three day coma.  I can already feel my vision getting all fuzzy, but I think that has more to do not wearing my glasses.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we’re shooting to go to print on Tuesday.  Hopefully that works out and we’ll get to throw ourselves a HM’s 25th Anniversary party. (Note: we should do something with this at Cornerstone, maybe one of the nights at the HM Stage or at the Dance Club or something… hm…).

Bad news: the eBay orders got mixed up, so dude in Tennessee got homeboy in Canada’s pedal and vice versa, I’ll have to fix that soon.

Bianca went home again this weekend, but this time she left her rat tiny dog Lazy here for the weekend.  The dynamic between her and the other two dogs is interesting to say the least. It’s odd to think about, but you can definitely see a huge difference in training and personality between all three of them, Crash definitely has a lot of puppy in him, he’s more energetic, and not as refined as the other two. Biscuit has a bit of a pure bred canter to him, and Lazy is an absolute diva. It’s like watching the French Revolution class system without guillotines.

Watching: Chapelle’s Show: Season One
Reading: Lord of the Flies
Listening: Saosin – Translating the Name

June 3, 2010

Rule #20
Work smart, not hard.

Deadline’s tomorrow and that definitely isn’t going to happen. We’re finally catching up on lay out, I spent almost six hours just working on the album reviews spread for this issue.  Lemme tell you, there are tons of them.

Jeff and I drove into Taylor to stream albums we are both reviewing, he grabbed Chinese on the way back, I had left over pizza. I’m fairly confident I could eat pizza every day of my life and not get sick of it, true story.

I’m currently training Crash to come on command.  It’s a work in progress, but we’ll get there. Hopefully by the time I get back he’ll have it down.

And Tornado’s daughter got stuck in the mud last night, so Jeff and I had to push her out.  Minor observation: people south of the Mason-Dixon line have no idea how to handle driving in inclement weather.

Today and tomorrow are gonna be days where there’s a lot going on and not much to say about it, sorry.

Watching: The OC: Season One
Reading: Lord of the Flies
Listening: For All Those Sleeping – Cross Your Fingers

June 2, 2010

Rule # 19
You don’t get to pick your own nickname.

From now on, Jeff is to be addressed as Otis.  Actually, I may jump over to his blog really quick and change his name, just a sec… okay, done.

Moving on, Doug came into the office today, so the deadline day off didn’t really work out, but that’s probably for the better, we have a lot of work left to do between now and Friday.  Fortunately, the duties that I have directly on my plate are quickly winding down.  I finished my big feature this morning (I’m really stoked about it).  I finally got the new mychildren mybride album for review (I don’t care what the internet says, I friggin’ love this band) and I need to hammer out a review of For All Those Sleeping’s debut album, which means driving into town and highjacking a free wifi connection so I can stream it.

I wasn’t in the office a whole lot today because I had to work at Pizza Hut from 3 to close.  We got absolutely killed.  When I finally got back to the Ranch the massive thunderstorm that rolled through knocked our power out, and without power working on a magazine becomes very complicated.

I recently picked up Lord of the Flies again.  I really enjoy the novel, but for some reason over the past year I’ve started it and put it back down three or four separate times. I’ve depleted my stockpile of television shows on my computer, so now I’m moving on to the novels and 30 gb of comic books I have laying around. I’d highly suggest Old Man Logan, the Marvel Civil War, Watchmen, and Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine if you’re Marvel savvy.

What are you reading?

Watching: lots and lots of lightning
Reading: Lord of the Flies
Listening: mychildren mybride – Lost Boy

June 1, 2010

Rule # 18
Go big or go home.

There’s an HM Ranch cd throwing competition.  Today I made one of those little suckers smash against the barbed wire fence on the far side of the East pasture.  Doug said it’s a record.  My goal for the summer is to make it into the corn field on the other side of the highway (probably another twenty yards).

Jeff want’s to pull off 100 reps on Doug’s Total Gym, Doug want’s to survive the summer, and I have no idea what Bianca’s current goals are.

Speaking of Bianca, we definitely got into it last night.  By got into it, let me clarify; we didn’t fight or get angry or anything, we just had and firery debate for about twenty minutes about our political system.  We totally disagree on the role of government, but lined up in a few unexpected places.  That was really odd for me, because while I’m totally comfortable in a debate scenario, I’m typically the guy who observes the conversation rather than perpetuates it.

Today was where one of those days where I got a lot of work done, and it was all stuff that had to be done immediately, but none of it directly effected the deadline.  We’re selling a few items on eBay and two of them sold, so I have to go through the process of receiving their payment, and shipping their purchase.  Two problems with that: 1. One of the winners is from Canada and customs forms suck.  2. The boxes that we selected on the auction form are just a little too small for the dimensions of the pedal (fortunately I just “Fred Flintstoned” it and made it fit).

**To “Fred Flintstone” something: to manipulate an inanimate object using brute force in order to achieve the desired result.  Can be effectively used on television sets, dryers, cell phones, small children, and shipping boxes.**

Tornado brought us dinner because she’s a saint. and I spent a few hours hunting down the cover albums for Doug’s Top 100 Christian Rock Albums while we watched Hot Tub Time Machine.  Poor Jeff had to count the profanity. Sucker.

Watching: Hot Tub Time Machine
Reading: Lord of the Flies
Listening: Demon Hunter – The Triptych

May 31, 2010

Rule #17
Pack light.

I’m a huge supporter of minimizing your luggage.  Last year I went to Haiti with three pairs of clothes, this year I moved to Texas and I think Crash’s stuff took up more space in my car than my stuff did. I basically packed food, a small suitcase, my backpack, and two laundry baskets. Since I got here I only mildly regret two things: 1. I packed way too many socks. and 2. I wish I would have brought a Nintendo or a Sega or something along those lines. Everything else has been peachy.

Still no zombie news, but I did realize today that with as open as the surrounding land is, with the right person the roof of the office could be “a gatdem sniper’s de-light.”

I’m almost done with my big feature.  I dropped in a few quotes into the story which subsiquently added a good five hundred words to my total.  I’m supposed to interview Doug’s wife today and hopefully what I get from her will wrap it up.

Helped Doug design the new cover, got acquainted with Jeff, had a can of Diet Dr. Pepper explode in my face, and edited more articles. For having to work a holiday it wasn’t too bad.

Oh, and I got a haircut this weekend.Photo 87 I haven’t looked this clean cut since, literally, the seventh grade.

Watching: Tele-Mundo
Reading: Lord of the Flies
Listening: A Day to Remember – For Those Who Have Heart

May 28, 2010

Rule#16
Be Prepared.

I’m part of an interesting demographic in American culture.  Growing up in a fairly quiet Midwest town (city?) I don’t bother locking doors, have a very diluted sense of privacy, and am just generally a super relaxed individual.  I don’t worry about getting mugged or robbed or anything like that, what makes my particular demographic interesting is that instead of preparing myself for violent crime or assault, any time I walk into a new room I have one very specific through go through my mind: If there were a zombie out break here and now, what would I do? Seriously, I walk into a new place and I’m instantly looking for something to severe undead heads:  Pizza Hut- cut table blade, High school cafeteria- lunch tray, my grandfather’s house- the rifle mounted over the back door, Wal-Mart- shopping cart to sporting goods.  I keep a baseball bat in my trunk because 1. baseball rules and I don’t want to miss the opportunity for a pick up game, and 2. I refuse to be caught off guard in the event of a flesh eating Dooms Day.

That’s the strange thing about moving to a new place — at home, I’m prepared, I have a plan, tools and supplies to get started (seriously, check my closet.)  I know who I can rely on, who I’d go back for, and who I’d leave to get eaten (sorry). I know where I’m going, how long it takes to get there by car and by foot, I know who’s most likely to freak out and get every one killed, and who’s likely to show up at the last second with a bulldozer and rescue us all by running over the giant horde in our front yard.  Here, I’m back at zero. The greatest benefit about living at the Ranch during the apocalypse is the isolation. No neighbors means no one to try and eat you.  The office has more windows than I’d like, but the shed has enough melee options for me to work with. Plus, there are horses and cattle in the west pasture, which would be great for transportation, potential food sources, and meat shields (seriously, corral them all up in the yard and even the hungriest blood sucker’s gonna have trouble getting to my door).

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on my survival plan.

Things are about to get crazy here at the HM Ranch. Jeff moves in Sunday, I started my other job, and deadline is Friday. Bianca still isn’t feeling well, but we’re slowing catching up on ads.

Today I started hammering out my Behind the Scenes story, at this point I’m a little under halfway done.  As I started writing I realized that I’m probably going to do something completely different than I had in mind when I started my interview process.  It’s cool, I’m just gonna have to improvise a few things.  I’m juggling how much history I should go into; it’s not like anyone reading the article can’t just hop on Wikipedia and find out the high points in the publication’s twenty-five years.

I think we’re slowly starting to fill in the gaps in this issue, a lot of reviews have slipped in over the past 48 hours.  I have no idea where we’re at on layout, Bianca and Doug have been running that show to the best of my knowledge.

Now for my life off of the Ranch: I started my gig at Pizza Hut this week, right?  Well, today was my first legitimate full shift as a real person and not some scamp that they’re training not to burn down the restaurant.  The shop that I used to work out closed at midnight (or 1am, depending on the day) and you’d average 18-22 deliveries in your shift.  Here, we close at 10 (11 on weekends) and you take maybe 9 deliveries a shift. Typically, this cut in productivity would suck, but 1. This makes prep/clean up/side work insanely easy compared to what I’m accustomed to, 2. Taylor is extremely easy to drive in, navigate and doesn’t have half the traffic issues my hometown does, and 3. A majority of people around here tip really well, I’m not making nearly the money I’m used to, but I’m making up for quantity with quality.

Watching: Point Break
Reading: The Anatomy of the Perfect Burger
Listening: Mat Kearney- Bullet

May 27, 2010

Rule #15
Everyone who owns a car should know how to check their fluids, change a tire, and change your oil. (part B: knowing your automotive anatomy doesn’t hurt either).

Bianca and I both arrived at the ranch at a very interesting time.  When I got here we had three weeks until deadline, and Doug has been in overdrive since day one.  What this means is, we (Bianca and I) are either going to sink or swim; because Doug’s been so whelmed we haven’t exactly gotten the HM 101 handbook walk through.  Fortunately, we both know how to write, we both have some layout experience, we both know how to edit and operate a computer. We both have opinions and interests, and we know our strengths; Bianca’s been working layout like a beast and I’ve edited basically every word that’s passed through our server.  We’re gonna make it work, just watch.

Today was what I imagine the rest of this issue looking like: busy, active, alive.

As of this very moment I’ve touched every story that we have for this issue, I just need to finish [start] my Behind the Scenes feature and I’ll be caught up with my written to do list.  There’s still plenty to be done, I just don’t have it on my list yet. I’ve also taken up a clerical sort of role keeping track of everything on the clipboards we use.  Since I’ve been the primary copy editor this issue I have the best context for what’s in our file, what’s ready for print and what we’re still waiting on.  Basically, I check a bunch of boxes on four sheets of paper and report back to Doug.

What else… Emailed a press release about HM’s 25th Anniversary to a bunch of different publications, started filling out the paper work for RevGen Festival, emailed mychildren mybride’s PR folks because we still need a copy of their album for the new issue, and I was going to mow the lawn around the ranch, but I couldn’t find the key to the mower, so I settled for the weed eater and chewed up everything around the drive way, fence, office and the landscaping we have in the yard.

I have a love/hate relationship with lawn care.  I worked a full time job for about four months last year doing lawn care and detailing cars, so I know what I’m doing, it just gets old after a while.  Then again, there are days where I just wanna do it, sometimes stuff’s gotta get done and today it was either lawn care or sit around and do nothing.  I’ve got plenty of time to do the latter after deadline.

I’m stoked for Jeff to roll in on Sunday.  Having a roommate is going to be a different experience for me, but I’m flexible, I can’t see it being a problem. That said, he’s kinda jumping into the deep end with this issue, but we’ll take care of him.  I don’t know if he’s reading this thing or not but I need to email him sometime soon.

You can tell the three of us are all wearing down.  Bianca’s still not feeling well, and you can pick up that she misses home and her family, Doug’s been a little scattered hammering out ad sales for this issue, and I’ve just felt exhausted for the past week, I’m not sure if it’s a diet thing or an anxiety thing, but it’ll come around soon enough.  This is nothing new to me, just kinda comes and goes, I get the feeling it’s the same way for everyone else.

Watching: How I Met Your Mother
Reading: Cracked.com: 6 New Weapons You Literally Cannot Hide From
Listening: Brand New – The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me

May 26, 2010

Rule #14
Live every week like it’s Shark Week.

We overloaded the internet here at the HM Ranch last night, fortunately today’s Doug’s day at home so our lack of web access really only inhibits the intern’s workload.  That said, Bianca spent the day in Austin with Tornado, and I went to Tornado’s place and did laundry.  Three hours later I had my My Epic review done, read through a fat stack of “Letters to the Editor,” and proofread two more album reviews.  That was basically my Wednesday.

On a completely unrelated note, one of my roommates is getting married June 19th. As cool as this is, it really freaks me out because 1. I really need a suit.  2. My friends are starting to get married (next their gonna start having kids and getting real jobs and buying houses and dying). 3. I’m not exactly jumping at the opportunity to spend lots of time around couples (that’s one of the big reasons I’m down here). It’ll be cool to go home and see everyone, chill out and celebrate for our friends, plus I wanna grab my Sega for the ranch.

Maybe one of these days I’ll actually get into why I’m down here.

Watching: How I Met Your Mother
Reading: Warmingglow: The Best of Tracy Morgan, Season 4
Listening: Life In Your Way – Waking Giants

May 25, 2010

Rule #13
Evidently, sitting in the parking lot at the local Post Office after hours in suspicious.

I hate waking up in the morning.  Live with me for a week and you’ll learn that very quickly; I schedule classes in the afternoon and find jobs that let me work at night solely because I hate waking up before eleven. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here at the ranch, or at least it’s not supposed to be.  Doug typically rolls in a little after eight and starts work by nine.  Right now I’m in this crap habit of not rolling out of bed until around ten.  I’m really waiting for the day he walks in a hits me with a football helmet after he scrambles his eggs.

Today, I worked on our new ground promotions campaign.  Basically, you cover shipping costs and HM will send you a box of 100 back issues for you to distribute around your area. We’re trying to broaden our readership as best as possible and guess who’s in charge? This guy.  I’m contacting people, collecting addresses and credit card numbers and making sure Jim in Pennsylvania gets 100 copies of issue 138. It all boils down to sending lots of email and sifting through the shed to make sure we have enough extra copies in stock.

I also emailed the New York Times, Washington Post, absolutepunk.net, and a handful of other publications with the press release highlighting HM’s 25th Anniversary.  This magazine is four years older than I am.  Let that marinade for a second.

I started my night job at Pizza Hut today.  I’m thrilled that not only are my financial issues being addressed, but I’m getting off the ranch for a while and seeing what’s around.  It’s nice to jump into something familiar, and as far as corporate chains go Pizza Hut isn’t a bad gig at all, minus that whole no facial hair thing. Oh, and my uniform smells like Play-Doh.

Tomorrow is Doug’s day off, which means a morning of guiltless sleeping in and an afternoon of catching up on email, laundry, and cleaning up the loose ends I have laying around.

Our deadline is coming up quick and I’m still waiting on a few emails for our Behind the Scenes story.

In other news, the basement flooded in my house back home.  Drove into Thrall for a half hour after work and made a few calls to contain the situation (we have horrible cell phone reception at the ranch).  As I was leaving I got pulled over, apparently, parking in front of a public facility after hours and talking on the phone is suspicious in towns with less than 800 people (see Rule #13).  I explained what was up and the cop was pretty chill about it, really nice guy, just said have a safe night and let me  be.

Anyone know where I can get A. an oil change or B. tools to change my own oil near Taylor, TX?

I’m still not over Lost being through, but I won’t torture you with that.

Watching: Slipknot Remembers Paul Gray
Reading: Stuff Christians Like: Treating Secular Media Like Satan’s Newspaper
Listening: My Epic – Yet

May 24, 2010

Rule #12
Live together, die alone.

This weekend was good busy.  I went out to dinner with my uncle and his family Saturday night, then went and visited my cousin Tommy on my way back to the ranch. Sunday I got a job (I cannot escape the pizza delivery gig) and watched the Lost series finale with Tornado and the Ripple crew. I’m really glad we got to enjoy the end of an era with like minded people, it would have been too quiet out here with just Bianca and I.

A side note: Out of the millions of people that watched the finale last night, did anyone else (aside from my friend Hannah and I) notice any big relations between Season 6 and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut?  Just wonderin’.

Anyway, back to work.  Today’s been pretty productive, I hammered out three of the four album reviews I have left, emailed Micah from Oh, Sleeper, edited a half dozen articles, filled out paper work for the Hut, and triumphed over the office technology (aka I finally figured out how to print wirelessly, access the HM network and plugged the stereo into my laptop).  Then I spent a good four hours wrestling with the DJ turntables that Bianca’s reviewing for the next issue. They’re fun, but I got really frustrated trying to figure them out and the manual wasn’t helping.

I have a face.

I have a face.

Oh, and I shaved today.  I have to shave for work (the Hut back home doesn’t really care, but my boss here is pretty firm on it). This is the first time I’ll be consistently clean shaven since I learned to shave (literally, like seven years).

Watching: Lost: The Series Finale
Reading: Hercules Music: DJ Control MP3 e2 User Manual
Listening: Every Time I Die – Gutter Phenomenon

May 21, 2010

Rule #11
When writing a story, flaw your hero and perfect your villain.

Today was a long clerical Friday.  Put four guitar pedals up on eBay, filed away some more of those subscription cards, touched base with everyone who has responded to HM’s ground promotion campaign, and edited every article that we have on the server for this issue.  I don’t know why, but being able to sit down with a printed document and doctor it up with a red pen and a pencil is one of my favorite ways to spend my time, particularly when it’s something I’m interested in and isn’t related to the academic environment (translation: I don’t want to spell check your Lit. paper).

I had an interesting discovery today.  On Monday Doug assigned me reviews for the new Haste the Day album, as well as the new album from A Plea for Purging, both albums are appropriately heavy (HTD has a lot more hook, APFP is straight up punishing) and I’m pretty sure both albums are based on the same story about a wolf who’s stalking a heard of sheep, takes the smallest one and runs back into the woods, only to have his score taken away by a lion. The wolf gets pissed because the lion took what he’s rightfully stolen, and the lion calls him out because the lamb was never his to begin with. I’m not saying they’re concept albums by any means (well, HTD is, I can’t speak for Plea) but they both depend extremely heavily on this wolf/lion dichotomy.  Stephen from HTD explains everything on his end in the next issue, so I won’t spoil that.

Plea’s new single, “The Eternal Female” not only rules, but it builds around the lines, The wolf provides for his own, but God provides for the lion. I am the lion, you are the wolf. You can run but I will find you. The album art only supports that theory (see it here).  Anyway, I just think it’s cool how that plays out.

Saturday I’m grabbing dinner with my extended family in Austin.  It’s kind of weird being down here on my own because so much of my identity in Texas has been established by my parents and siblings.  I’m used to being “Dennis’ Son” rather than just being Nathan. I think that’s why everything felt so awkward on family vacations growing up; we weren’t people, we were family.  We didn’t have interests or hobbies, we just fell together because we shared the same blood.  I’m 90% sure this is the first time I’ve spent time with any of my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents without so much as a sibling in tow, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve been here and done the family thing on my own free will (don’t hear what I’m not saying, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s that I never had a say in whether or not I wanted to).  This time around I’m just me, and that’s both freeing and absolutely horrifying.

Crash puked today.  Dog keeps getting into the cat food and they do not get along.

Watching: How I Met Your Mother
Reading: Poems About Superheroes by Stephen Burt
Listening: Confide – Recover

May 20, 2010

Rule #10
Get rid of the goatee, it doesn’t go with your suit. (part B: Get a suit, suits are cool).

Today turned into the day off that Doug didn’t have yesterday, so it stayed fairly quiet around the office today.  He did stop in for a little while and brought out the family.  His parents are in town for a little while, so I got to interview them for the Behind the Scenes article I’m working on.  They’re super sweet people, it was nice to get a little background on Doug.

Took an hour to transcribe the interview I did yesterday with Chad.  Like I said, I’m pretty bummed Destroy the Runner is done, but I’m just as excited to see what they do in the future.  Chad’s reviving an old project called Chapter 14, and I’m sure everyone else is moving on to other projects as well.  I would have liked to hear the material they recorded over the past seven months, but sometimes it’s best to let the dead stay buried. Regardless, I felt insanely blessed to help provide Chad with a platform to say good bye to this chapter on his life.

Drove into Taylor and bought groceries while Bianca watched Grey’s Anatomy, may have a lead on a job, addressed a few packages for the contest winners, got free crazy bread from Little Caesar’s, and spent fifteen minutes running around the living room with a vacuum cleaner and a magazine trying to kill all the bugs that flew inside while I unpacked the aforementioned groceries.

Watching: How I Met Your Mother
Reading: Now Hear This!: mewithoutYou
Listening: My Epic – Yet

May 19, 2010

Rule #9
A firm handshake goes a long way.

Today was pretty chill.  Wednesday is typically Doug’s day off, so I slept in until Doug surprised us by rolling in around ten.  Fortunately, he brought a bunch of new music for us to review (I got the new Haste the Day, A Plea for Purging, and My Epic).  I love this gig. Anyone who knows me will openly tell you, I am not a morning person.  I intentionally schedule afternoon classes so I don’t have to wake up, I work nights back home, and work when the sun goes down. It drives me nuts when I finally fall asleep after the birds are already waking up, I get so unnecessarily angry about it.

Anyway, waking up every morning at eight and getting to work has been a very different experience for me. Can’t say I’m a fan.

Like any periodical, HM exists thanks to ad sales.  We need run around $xx,xxx per issue in ad sales, but right now we’re sitting on xxk for the upcoming issue.  What this means is I have spent most of my time over the past few days hunting down record labels, clothing lines, and gear manufacturers that could potentially take out an ad in the next issue and wrangling a contact at the source. In the next few days Doug is supposed to give me a list of the current advertisers in the upcoming issue so I don’t waste my time hunting down contacts that we already have.

I’m really stoked about this project.  I know how to write, sales, on the other hand, is a completely new animal for me and this is something that we really need right now.  I’m not the only one around here strapped for cash.

I had my interview today with Chad Ackerman (Destroy the Runner).  Look for that to pop up on the website here in the next few days.  He was really grateful for the opportunity to share his thoughts on the the break up and I was thrilled to give him a platform to speak.  I love his band and his past work, and I’m stoked to see what his future looks like (be on the look out for his newish project, Chapter 14).

After the interview I left the ranch and went into Austin.  My friend Sarah is down here on vacation with her family and they were nice enough to take me out for dinner (I do love me some barbecue) and my buddy Eric rolled in from Oklahoma last night as well (he’s working at a summer camp in Austin all summer) so we hung out afterwords.  I miss that dude, he’s good people.

It’s about an hour from here to Austin, so on the way there and back I spun through a few of the old HM Podcasts.  Something tells me Doug’s going to drop that project in my lap fairly soon, so I made it a point to make notes about the current podcast and what I would change/improve for the future. I always wanted to be a radio host as a kid, so I’m pretty stoked about that. I’ve got me some big ideas, be on the lookout.

Watching: Judge Mathis
Reading: lots of corporate websites
Listening: Haste the Day – Attack of the Wolf King

May 18, 2010

Rule #8 There are very important differences between “They’re,” “There,” and “Their.”

This week is my calm before the storm.  I emailed out all my questions and set up all my phone interviews for the bigger stories I have coming up.  There’s not much else I can do with those until my interviews start falling into place. It’s a waiting game.

In other news, Bianca and I had our first aesthetic difference today.  We’re both editing the Impending Doom cover story for the next issue, and Bianca is very much a news-style editor (inverse pyramid style, fast facts) and I’m much more feature oriented (a little more ambiguous, less structured).  I think ideally for magazine stories it needs to be somewhere in between; yes, you’re trying to inform your reader, but you’re trying just as hard to entertain and to create something of interest (particularly for cover stories).  That’s just my own personal school of thought, take what you will. While I’m talking about that Impending Doom article; anyone looking to write and get paid for it: 1. Learn the proper use of grammar and punctuation, and more importantly 2. If you’re going to screw it up, be consistent in your failure.

The rest of my day consisted of sifting through the dozens of indie bands we have backing up in Doug’s office and watching Lost.

To ABC, Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cruise: You are killing me, and not in the suspenseful, encouraging, myheartisabouttoexplodeinmychest way that you feel when you watch The Shining, I mean if the season finale is anything like last night’s episode (and most of this season) I will personally strap a grenade to the outer window of your underwater research base and drown us all. I understand the need for transitional episodes, but not transitional seasons (that best lead to an intense series finale), and ABC, I would greatly appreciate it if you would cease to rape my favorite television series for advertising time. To close, if you don’t plan to break my heart Sunday, then please don’t waste my time.

Rant Ended.

Watching: Lost
Reading: Why We Write: Damon Lindelof (<- Read this now.)
Listening: A Plea for Purging – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

May 17, 2010

Rule #7
You’re never too old.

Massive mind blowing moment of my day – realizing how much younger the kids are at heavy shows in Austin compared to the scene back home.

I’ll Tarantino that for you.  Around noon Doug tells us, “Nathan, Bianca, Bruce [Fitzhugh] got you on the guest list for the Living Sacrifice show tonight.”  This is sweet for plenty of reasons, 1. Living Sacrifice has been playing shows since I was a year old. No typo, They’ve been touring since 1989. That’s some gumption.  2. It’s freaking Living Sacrifice, I don’t care who you are or what you think, but you have to at least respect these guys for creating something bigger than any sum of its parts. 3. Heavy Metal Josh Childers from the Showdown is filling in on guitar for this tour, and that boy kills it.

So Bianca and I roll into to Emo’s around 7, chill out, grab some food, yada yada yada, first band (DSGNS) does their thing (kind of a gutter punkish feel, really scattered), followed by The Brigade (tough guy metalcore, engaging and driven) and then Let the Dead (Screamo from San Marcos, totally generic chug chug two-step, but it was a lot of fun, they had fun, and the crowd had fun, so I don’t care) and then LS commanded respect from the corner.

Like I mentioned earlier, a bunch of the kids at the show were easily 14-15 years old, my little brothers age.  You can tell that this sort of stuff is just starting to catch on with certain groups just by how they react: over enthusiastic push pits, metal horns, sloppy pit moves, but I digress.

Had a few really gnarly things fall into my lap today on top of the show, I got started on that Behind the Scenes article and randomly got an autographed photo from a band that I, not only don’t recognize, but I can’t read the signature (If you sent me a picture, what’s your band called, ’cause I have no clue who you are).  Then yesterday I mentioned how Destroy the Runner is breaking up.  Well, their vocalist emailed the magazine and wants to do an interview about what went down — and guess who gets that project?

Yahtzee.

Watching: Sons of Anarchy: Season 2
Reading: Desert High
Listening: The Showdown – A Chorus of Obliteration “From the Mouth of Gath Comes Terror”

May 16, 2010

Rule #6
Relax.

Unless something really major comes up/goes down, I have very little intention of blogging during the weekends, but since this is the first week I figured it wouldn’t hurt to drop something small in here. Bianca made it in today, I was about to start weed eating around the ranch (that’s how antsy I get when the office shuts down) when she pulled in.  I’m stoked to have another person here, at least that way I’m not turning into the crazy recluse that just talks to his dog and watches movies.

Counted the cuss words in Avatar (32 in English, I don’t know about the Na’vii though), slept, drove around, got lost, drove around more, job hunted, failed (there’s a story there, you should ask me in person some time), and answered a few emails.

Nothing special yet.

In sad news Destroy the Runner finally announced their indefinite hiatus.  I’ve been expecting this for a long time to be honest; they took a huge risk on I, Lucifer and it didn’t seem to have nearly the amount of success they needed to survive the financial straits of touring.  It’s sad, but it’s life. Rock ‘n Roll won’t pay the pills.

Oh, I just had a huge feature for the upcoming issue fall into my lap.  I’ll be doing a behind the scenes look into the cogs of the HM machine, interviewing past and present employees, family, interns, etc.  If you keep up with the magazine at all you’ll know two things: the upcoming June/July issue marks our 25th anniversary and that our summer issue is the biggest selling issues of the year (thank you festival season) so this has the potential to be a pretty big deal.

Watching: Sons of Anarchy
Reading: Desert High
Listening: Destroy the Runner – Saints

May 14, 2010

Rule #5
Know your competition.

Doug owns more magazines than any person I have ever known. Aside from twenty-five years worth of HM back issues, there are piles and piles of AP, Relevant, Revolver, Wired, Auto Trader, Weekly Auto, Spin, Paste, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CCM, Christianity Today, Details, and dozens more.

Anyway, my job the latter half of this afternoon was to get this growing colossus under control.  I gave up two hours later, I really hope Doug gets around to burning most of these while I’m here, it’ll be therapeutic.

Then we attempted to clean this place up before Bianca gets here Sunday.  It’s not awful, but you can definitely tell this shop doesn’t exactly get a whole lot of visitors.

Backtracking: finished the Allan Aguirre transcript (14 pages, 9525 words), started on the Pick of the Litter for the next issue, and organized what will become Bianca’s office when she rolls in Sunday. Nothing thrilling, but it’s Friday and it’s good to start wrapping things up.

I’m a writer by trade. It’s what I do, it’s what I’m getting better at, it’s what I like and what I’m going to school for. I’m decent, but I feel like I’m a much better editor. I understand why certain phrases do and don’t work, know what to listen for with the tone and voice of a piece.  Grammar is a different story, I’m ok, but not much better than the spell check tab on your word processor.

Anyway, I bring this up because one of my side projects for this summer is to read through the novel Doug’s working on.  I’m legally bound not to talk about it, so I won’t, but I’m pretty sure talking about reading it is fair game.  First, I’ve never done this with a full length novel before — it’s mildly intimidating to say the least.  Second, I’m not a hundred percent sure what to do with it. My first reaction is to grab a pen and start doctoring where I can, but I’m pretty sure I ought to just kick into auto pilot and just look at it as a whole instead of analyzing every line. Third, I have no idea how to approach any potential criticism I may have with the novel. I totally understand why I’m reading it, and I definitely want to read it, but I’m mildly hesitant with my critiques because while Doug and I get along really well and I’m confident he respects my abilities, he’s still my boss and it’s his baby, and I wanna make sure I understand exactly where that line is before I say something stupid.

I still need a job. If you know anyone in Taylor that’s hiring drop me a line.

Watching: Avatar
Reading: Desert High
Listening: The Victory Lap – 209 West Second

May 13, 2010

Rule #4
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

It’s ad day here at the HM Ranch.  Basically, Doug spent all day hitting up ad contacts to see if they wanted to run ads with the magazine.  My job in this was to find the aforementioned contacts whether that be email, phone number, personal pager, Myspace, whatever.

Spent more time on that Allan Aguire interview (I’m half way through at already have about 7500 words, and something tells me this is hardly the longest interview they’ve ever had). Later I picked up another review of a new Fearless [records] band called For All Those Sleeping. Basically, their PR folks hit us up to review the disc, and my job was to determine whether or not these dudes are Christians.

I don’t know about you, but I ain’t qualified for that. I mean, yeah, some times all you have to do is hop online or thumb through the lyrics and “BOOM” there’s Jesus, but a lot of the time that’s not how it works.  That is the strange thing about this job (and any job in a ministry I would imagine), there’s a certain level of social politics that you have to play with in order to keep the right people happy.  A great example; back in the 90’s Allan Aguirre admitted to smoking pot in an interview with CCM and it turned into a public relations nightmare.  I’m not saying that what Aguirre was doing was right, I’m saying that what he was doing was between him and God and I’ve got a few trees I gotta rub out of my eyes before I start dealing with other people’s dust.

Anyway, so been there, done that, still need to write the Norma Jean review sometime soon.  I’m thinking Sunday/Monday and give me the weekend to give it the time it deserves.  I really don’t want to rush the article, I like the band far too much for that. I’ll get it done.

On the brightside, a lady from a local church emailed the office today looking for a graphic designer — we don’t have a designer handy at the moment, but I’m fortunate enough to know probably a dozen of them, so I hooked her up with my buddy’s contact info and sent them on their way.  Btw, if you or anyone you know need a quality designer/photographer/video guy, I know some people who know some people if you get my drift.

Another perk of this gig is that last night I got to take my cousin Melisa out on a pair of press passes to an advanced screening of La Mission. The film is focused on the life of Che Rivera, an ex con in the Mission district of San Francisco as he deals with his violence issues (oh, and the fact that his only son, Jay, is gay).  The movie was all right, I had a few continuity issues, but the biggest problem for me was that La Mission never really found a steady pace.  It was dramatic, funny, and violent all at different times, but just as the tension for one moment was building they would throw in something that completely shattered the illusion.  Anyway, go see it if you want, but you won’t be missing much if you don’t and see Robin Hood instead.

So movie wraps up, I drive home, stop at the Post Office in Thrall (a blip of a town ten minutes from the ranch) to mail a letter, and at the end of the road there’s this huge bonfire, but it’s different from the bonfire’s I’m used to, less controlled, lots of thick black smoke. So I mail my letter and decide to check out whatever it is that’s going on. I get further down the road and realize that it’s not a bonfire, but a row of hedges between these two houses had gone up in flames. I feel insanely dumb for this, but I definitely called Melisa first and made sure that wasn’t normal for rural Texas towns to randomly be on fire before I called 911.

Watching: Firefly
Reading: lots and lots of email (lame I know)
Listening: Life In Your Way: [ignite and rebuild]

May 12, 2010

Rule #3
Don’t be the one that get’s left behind.

Today was an interesting experience here at the HM Ranch.  Wednesdays are Doug’s day off, so I had the place wholly and completely to myself for a solid 36 hours.  This phenomenon won’t happen again for the rest of the summer, but I’m not sure if I’d want it to.

Lemme back track here; I come from a big family who doesn’t exactly believe in things like locking the doors or knocking or privacy. I grew up around people, I thrive there. So, this whole consistently having a place completely to myself is really strange to me.  This is also the first time I’ve lived anywhere but my home town.  Spend twenty-one years in a 16,000 person town and you’ll be amazed by how many people you’ll get to know.  Today was the first time I’ve walked into a grocery store and not known a single person.  It’s quite bizarre.

Which brings me to my day, with Doug out of the office and the internet down, I spent the bulk of my afternoon exploring Taylor.  I really need a paying job if I’m going to make it to August without missing a few very important bill payments. Fortunately, the Pizza Hut in town is hiring and that’s right up my alley (I’m a delivery guy back home). Turned in an application there and checked a few other locations, bought a newspaper and spent a good two hours at the public library, then went back to the ranch and got to work. At this point I’ve hammered out five of my six reviews, kept up with my blog (as you can see) and started transcribing Doug’s interview with Allan Aguirre (from Scatered Few). The interview is roughly 90 minutes long, I got through the first thirty minutes over four hours and called it a night.

On a side note:  Crash has been great this entire trip.  He’s behaving, eating properly, the water isn’t making him sick, he and Bisquit are paling around great, and for the most part while I’m working he just passes out on the carpet.  I was really glad when he didn’t try to get through the fence around the ranch.  I think he’s too much of a pansy to get too far away from me.  The only real problem is that as soon as we arrived Monday Crash started getting to know the locals, mainly this meant sticking his nose in Tiger’s business (Doug’s cat).  Well, Tiger didn’t much appreciate that and popped him one in the face.  Ever sense every time Crash see’s one of those cats he starts howling and growling and absolutely refuses to go outside.

For as much heart as that dog has he sure is a coward.
Watching: Lost and Firefly
Reading: the Taylor Daily Press
Listening: Norma Jean – Meridional

May 11, 2010

Rule #2 Fold the subscription cards with the text facing out.

Today was my first full day at the office, got my HM email set up, worked out the blog/internet kinks, and dove in with both feet.

I don’t sleep well.  You’d think after two days of steady travel I’d be out like a light.  Instead I ended up reading potential book submissions until four in the morning and waking up at eight.  I’ve never been an energy drink person, but since HM has a steady stream of Monster on hand (they sponsor the magazine) I have a feeling that is going to change very quickly. We all gotta get by somehow, right?

I spent the morning filing the submission cards from the past few months.  Basically I quarter folded stacks of paper and put them in a box for three hours.  Wrapped that up and Doug tells me that someone folded them the wrong way during the summer of 2008 and I had was supposed to go through the box and fix the cards that were folded incorrectly (see rule #2).  Who ever it was, know this: I have every intention of finding you and making you watch me fold pizza boxes for two hours.

After lunch I finally got to the good stuff, Doug gave me a crash course on HM’s internet presence and a stack of cd’s to review for the next issue (including the new Norma Jean album, be jealous). I listened through most of the albums and finished one of the reviews, then helped Doug reshelf the albums from his Top 100 Christian Hard Rock Albums article and called it a day.

I think I’m going to post a similar list here in the next few days, but since this is my blog and not a reputable music magazine I’ll probably list more personal favorites than influential releases (there’s stuff on there that’s a decade older than I am).  Also, the very nature of the publication opens up every thing from U2 to Mortification.  I’ll probably narrow that spectrum significantly.

The ranch dies from 6pm to 8am the next day.  I’m currently the only one out here when Doug leaves (I have no idea how that man spends so much time here alone, I’d go Shining after a week).  I was absolutely thrilled when Doug’s neighbor, Tornado stopped by and asked if I wanted to join her and some folks from her church for coffee. For future interns and my mother: Tornado is a saint.  She’ll feed you, let you do your laundry at her place, invite you to church and has a constant supply of brownies on hand at all times.  She’s good people, get to know her.

Four hours later I took my first real bath in probably fourteen years. It was glorious.

Watching: Community
Reading: From Acid to the Body of Christ (I wouldn’t suggest it)
Listening: Amber Pacific- Virtues and Norma Jean- Meridional

May 10, 2010

Rule #1 When driving from Kansas City to Austin, do not exceed the speed limit by more three miles an hour, especially while cutting through Durant, Oklahoma.

I have a love/hate relationship with blogging (and driving, and Arby’s, but neither of those are important right now).  As a writer, I enjoy having an audience at my disposal, enjoy hammering out words for people, at the same time I always feel like I’m struggling to say something worth reading, and the blogosphere only increases that annoyance. I had a Livejournal and a Xanga back in the day, use a Tumblr at home, and now I’m here. Can’t complain. A

nyway, I’m Nathan, I’m a twenty-one-year-old college student from Warrensburg, MO (home of the motorized lawn mower).  I’m a Communication/Creative Writing student at the University of Central Missouri, and this is my first time living away from the town I was born in.  I like Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Wright, Craig Morgan Teicher, and Alex Lemon (all writers) and Thrice, As Cities Burn, Beloved, and August Burns Red (all bands).  I also need a part time job in Central Texas, so if you know a guy who knows a guy, lemme know.

I brought my two-year-old mutt of dog, Crash, with me to Austin.  For as anxious as he typically is he took the drive like a champ, chilled out in the back seat and didn’t make a mess, done a father proud. When we rolled in he immediately stuck his nose in Tiger’s business (Tiger = Doug’s Cat) and got promptly swatted.  He’s now officially horrified of cats and the outdoors.

We arrived at the ranch around six last night.  It’s about twelve hours from Warrensburg to North Austin, but we stopped at a buddy’s house in Dallas Sunday night and got a late start Monday afternoon. It was well worth it.

At the ranch Doug gave me the rundown of the operation; where the bathrooms were, what hours looked like, what to expect, and so on. Then around nine we drove into Taylor and grabbed dinner at this hole in the wall barbecue pit.

Disclaimer: Kansas City is famous for three things: Jazz music, awful professional sports teams, and barbecue. That said, 85% of my family lives in Central Texas (Dad’s from Austin, Mom’s from San Antonio), so I’ve grown up with an awesome fusion of Texas/Kansas City barbecue (Texas focuses more on the meat, KC is more sauce oriented). It’s hard to beat.

Moving on, I’m the first intern to arrive for the summer.  You can look forward to meeting Jeff and Bianca just shortly after I do.  Bianca is supposed to arrive Sunday.  So, until then I have the ranch to myself, at least while Doug’s not around.  Basically, this results in a lot of walking around in my underwear and not combing my hair.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure how much of that will change with housemates.

Watching: Community
Reading: Slaughterhouse Five
Listening: Means- Sending you Strength

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