Category Archives: My Life

Okay, Okay…

CONTENT WARNING!!!

**If hearing Christian music from the 80s and 90s causes you pain, do not continue… The following songs are hardcore Christian. Not suitable for all audiences.**

No need to twist my arm, folks. I have a healthy sense of humor about my college days. And judging by the comments on my last post, so do many of you. This is just a few of the approximately 80 songs I converted to mp3 this past week. For those of you who don’t remember or don’t normally read my blog, these songs were recorded by a music group I was part of during my time at Bible College. The group toured the country and performed their “multi-media” (think slide shows, music, and skits) concerts for churches coast to coast. And so here it is, just a smattering of old Impact Brass and Singers’ songs.

This first one is Evolution Redefined. It was recorded on the campus of Ozark Christian College in the Spring of 1995. I’m singing the solo on this one from the perspective of a student who is being “subjected” to a teacher who believes in evolution. The horror! My character suggests that perhaps there is “another possible solution.” Prepare thyself…

This is Higher Ground. We recorded this in 1992, my first year in the group. I included it because it is typical of the brass and vocals that Impact Brass was known for. My favorite part is the “marching band-esque” interlude. I can almost see the flags and poms…

This is He Shall Dry Every Tear. I wasn’t even part of the group when this was recorded in 1981. But, it represents old-school Impact Brass and Singers.

cover_forgiven

Well, that’s probably enough Impact Brass stuff for now. I just thought I should give examples of what I’ve written about numerous times. Proof, if you will.

A Blast from the Past

We live in a very digital world. Or, dig-i-kal, as my grandma would say. Everything is seemingly turning digital. I’m fine with that. I’m so glad we don’t need to haul bulky vinyl records around in order to hear our music. For me, the ease of use and accessibility of music in mp3 format is unbeatable. It gives me access to my entire music library whenever I want it.

I was reading that there is a major rise in the use of vinyl. I think that people just love to go retro. I can almost hear the purists now, “vinyl just sounds so warm…” In fact, CDs are already on the decline, perhaps due in a very small part to the resurgence of vinyl records. And who would have thought? It wasn’t even 10 years ago that people were hauling around dozens of CDs and plopping them into CD players everywhere. However, the new standard is mp3. Everything is becoming iPod accessible and I love it.

But, this is about more than just music. As I said, this is a dig-i-kal world we live in. This includes music, movies, pictures–basically, all our information. I have spent a lot of time making the conversion. I’ve scanned countless photos and converted many CDs.

I have a small stack of old CDs leftover from my college years that I’ve been looking at it for quite some time. Actually, that’s not totally true. They are tucked neatly away in a container in a storage cabinet. But, every time I go into that cabinet I see them. It’s annoying really, I hear them saying, “convert me. converrrrrrrt me.” Ok, already. Geesh. I decided the time had come for me to convert my old Impact Brass and Singers’ CDs.

It’s not that I want to listen to them over and over. I just want them converted for archival purposes. You know, in case I want to listen to them later. Well, I couldn’t help myself. After spending an hour or so converting these gems from my past, I had to listen to some of it. I discovered that the best perspective on your life comes in the form of recordings of you singing in college.

I haven’t listened to this stuff for years, probably close to ten years. My first thought was: wow, this sounds old, like the early 90s. Of course, it was recorded in the early 90s. My second thought was: wow, I have changed…a lot. I look different, I sound different, I think different. In a moment of weakness I decided to play one of my songs for Jeff. I’m not sure that he’s fully recovered just yet. It was like a taking him in a time machine back to 1992.

Poor guy. At least he didn’t leave me. I really did go to Bible College and sing in a group that traveled around performing Christian cover songs and skits, all with a slide show going on in the background. It’s hard to paint a proper picture without actually pulling out the CDs and old videos, which thankfully are not in my possession.

Here’s our group picture. I’m the blond guy in the back wearing the burgundy suspenders, the over-sized glasses, and a sheepish smile…

Stand Strong! (and down.)

that’s for all my fellow survivors.

Top-Notch Journalism

I guess I’ve been taking a bit of a blogging break. When I start to feel a little too “ranty,” I like to step back and take stock. I also like to take time and review what I’ve written so far. So I use the time that I would normally write and I read my blog as well as other blogs. It’s a great process and a lot of fun for me, but I’m ready to get back to writing new posts.

After all, I’m a creative person. I sometimes forget that. Nothing kills my creative energy quite like spending 11 hours on an airplane. It’s kind of strange, but I don’t think most of my California friends really see me that way–that is, as a creative person. They see me as Tyler, the flight attendant, or Tyler, Jeff’s boyfriend. I guess that’s why this blog is so important to me. It’s my creative outlet.

This blog isn’t my first attempt at writing, though. When I was a senior in high school I was the editor of my high school paper. Well, at least I was editor until I was fired. That’s right, I was fired from my very first and only writing job. I still, 16 years later, take pride in getting fired as editor-in-chief of the Trojan Trib. The 17-year-old Tyler was a much more dramatic version of me. And, in a moment of pissy anger, I called the newspaper teacher an “ass.” Actually, I told her not to “assume” because she’d make an “ass out of u and me.” I was really quite impressed with myself at the time. I like to envision myself as a sort of Julia Sugarbaker (from Designing Women). I think I got my point across.

I don’t remember what it was that she was assuming, but I sure as hell was tired of it. So I walked to the principal’s office with great pride. It was the only time I ever was actually sent to the office. My mother worked at the high school and so I knew the people in the office very well. They were surprised by my non-social visit. Anyway, to get to the point, I was “let go” from my editor position, and demoted to “staff writer.”

As staff writer I channeled all of my untapped editorial energy into creating incredibly thought provoking exposés. I uncovered the secret evil and corruption of the student hall monitoring system. I exposed the inner-workings of the Pleasantville High School Drama Club, of which I was a member and the newspaper teacher was also the sponsor. What can I say? It was a small school. And, perhaps my journalism was not completely “unbiased.” I gave it my best shot.

I recently discovered that my predecessor as Trojan Trib editor-in-chief went on to work for the Wall Street Journal. Wow. I suppose he never spelled out “ass” to any of his superiors. And, I hope he regrets it.

Christians, Part 2

I never intended for there to be any follow-ups to my Christians post. Really. I realize that I can tend to obsess about things, especially when it comes to things involving Christians. But, this is totally out of my hands. You see, a fellow blogger recently sent me this video. Before I go any further I want you to watch this video…in its entirety. This was posted on Youtube by someone who runs a bizarre Christian blog called The House of Hunt. It’s a very interesting blog. Check it out after you check out this video.
**UPDATE**
The video was removed from Youtube. It was also removed from The Way International’s website. Wow. I guess they really weren’t enjoying all of the new traffic. They really should learn to have a sense of humor about themselves. I mean come on, really? Well, at least I have the memories of that video and the hours of laughter it gave me.

Now, for just a few notes…

1) Evidently, these people are part of The Way International. This is a religious group that is considered to be a cult by most mainstream Christians. No comment.

2) I have watched this video over 10 times and find it funnier each time.

3) I love the fact that they worked the phrase “legal rights” into their song. That takes talent.

4) Not many people can pull off choreographed “freestyle” in a suit, tie, and wireless headset microphone–correction, no one can actually pull that off.

5) I think I’m gonna watch it again.

OK. So, I have a confession to make before I start getting all kinds of comments reminding me of my past. I once was part of a music group that can now be considered equally cheesy and hilarious. Just add a some bad acting and a multi-media slide presentation. I guess this isn’t totally a new confession. I just feel like every now and then I should own up to it, just in case any old video footage ever surfaces. We would travel to churches, located mostly in the Pagan Midwestern states and attempt to convert people that were already going to church. As you can imagine, we were incredibly successful.

From a performance standpoint, I do have to say that this trio was very well rehearsed. Oh, shit, who am I kidding? This was ridiculous. I sure do hope they produce more material for us…

The Final Days of RENT

I originally wrote this post at the end of May. The amazing and legendary Broadway musical RENT was scheduled to close June 1 and, due to good ticket sales, was thrown a life line until this weekend. It’s now time for RENT to close after 5,123 performances on Broadway since it opened on April 29, 1996. That makes it the 7th longest running show in Broadway history.

RENT is closing on Broadway on September 7, 2008. This may not seem that big of a deal to many of you, hardly even “blog-worthy.” But for me it is the end of one of the best musicals to ever perform on Broadway. You see, RENT was my first Broadway show. I saw it in November of 1997 and it’s the reason for my love of musical theater. My friend Cathy and I went and saw it at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. I was working several weekends a month at a church in Texas. I would drive an hour and a half to Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Joplin, Missouri, and then fly to Dallas for the weekend to work at a church where I was the worship leader. I’m not sure why a church would pay to have a college student come so far, but they did. The escape from Bible college and the sense of being a jet-setter were amazing. The church was hoping I would come there full-time after graduation. In reality, the whole experience not only introduced me to my current employer, but it also gave me the flying bug.

Anyway, my point is that this was a transitional time for me. I was finishing up my six years at Ozark Christian College and dealing with all of the gay issues I’ve previously written about. At this point in my journey, I hadn’t come out of the closet. Going to see RENT was like giving me a peek into a world that I didn’t even know existed. A beautiful world of drag queens and queers (I mean that in a good way), a world where it was not only OK to be gay, but fabulously OK. It was a world in which people broke into song and dance for no apparent reason. This was my world. Stunned and, frankly, a little giddy, I sat on the edge of my seat for most of the performance.

I don’t know if Cathy ever knew that I loved it this much because as soon as we left the Majestic I had to get back into “Christian Music Pastor” mode. But, the seed had been planted. And that’s why this musical has been so important to me. It provided me with something I had been longing for–gay life–in all of it’s vibrant color and spectacular diversity. For several years RENT was the only ingredient in my musical theater diet. It was the appetizer, the main course, and the dessert.

I remember the following months in the Bible college dorm as other music students began to discover this musical. You could hear “Seasons of Love” floating out of their rooms. You could also hear the abrupt change in volume when the phrase “mucho masturbation” was supposed to be shouting from “La Vie Boheme.” Some songs really could never be played–at least through speakers. I suppose there is a very strange irony in a bunch of Bible college students drooling over a musical not just filled with sex, but sex with the same sex. And, don’t forget all of the colorful language and the topic of HIV/AIDS that permeates RENT.

But we couldn’t help ourselves. This was an amazing piece of work. I wanted to be Mark, one of the lead roles. And in some ways, I developed his sort of quirky, bohemian sense of style. All in all, I’ve seen RENT three times on stage. That hardly makes me a “RENT-head,” but I don’t think it diminishes my love for the show. When the movie came out, I paid to see it three times. When I bought the DVD and watched the accompanying Jonthan Larson documentary, I cried so hard that I thought I was going to hyperventilate. My love runs deep. So I’ll always hold a very special place in my heart for this musical that means so much to me. We have history.

goodbye, love, goodbye…

RENT links:

Original New York Times review of the show

A Photographer’s journal of RENT from the New York Times

RENT’s website siteforrent.com

Wikipedia’s RENT page

The original cast recording on Amazon.com

A Sentimental Day

My, My how times have changed over the last decade. I’ve been feeling extremely sentimental lately. It’s been 10 years since my mother passed, 10 years since I graduated from college, 10 years since I left the midwest, 10 years since my life took the dramatic turn that has led me to where I am today.

Frankly, in retrospect, I find it amazing that I am where I am. A secular gay man working in the airline industry and living in San Francisco. I still suffer from culture shock on occasion. Ten years ago I was just leaving the midwest after 6 years of Bible College. I was just starting an exciting job with an up-and-coming mega-church in Arizona. The job didn’t last long, and the next thing I knew I was working for my first airline. Then I started coming to terms with a life outside the Church. I realize that is a horrible summary of an extremely turbulent 1998. But, I don’t think I’m ready to broadcast all of that on my blog…nothing personal. Really, it’s me, not you.

The point of this post is not to elaborate on my journey from point A to point B. I’m just amazed at my starting point. I think that I’m mostly amazed that people change. More specifically, I changed. I mean, shit, I voted for Bob Dole in 1996. Ouch! Wow, that hurt to type those words. I. Voted. For. Bob. Dole. The only thing I have say in my defense is that I did not vote George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004. I remember sitting in my dormitory lobby gathered around the TV and feeling the immense dread of another 4 years with Bill Clinton. And now, I think that Bill Clinton was a great president! And that’s actually my point…I started thinking for myself.

I totally get why so many of my Bible College friends have a hard time understanding me these days. I’m not the same Tyler that they knew in college. There are parts of me that haven’t changed. I still love music, even some gospel music. I’m still just a little odd, a little geeky.

To be fair, it also freaks Jeff out a little bit to envision the Tyler from 1998. When I’m feeling a little bit ornery, I’ll whip into a rousing rendition of How Great Thou Art or Shout to the Lord. My friend Jaclyn likes to hear one my special prayers. You know the type that involves lots of thee’s and thou’s, blessing’s and tribulation’s. Oh yeah, I can preach, too. I reserve that for when I’m feeling just downright mean. And every time I pull from my personal experience in Bible College, I also have a moment of gratitude. I’m happy to be where I am now.

For old time’s sake, here’s a picture of me from my Bible-thumpin’ days. This was taken at my senior piano recital. I had no idea that my whole world was about to change…

Moving On.

Last month I went home to Iowa to visit my family. It was a great trip, especially since I hadn’t been home in 3 1/2 years. I spent most of the time simply catching up with everyone. Oh yeah, and scanning photos. My sister and I decided to start scanning old pictures so that we could have them in a digital format. We didn’t realize just how time consuming it would be. The nice side of this is that I now have a ton of pictures from my childhood on my computer. Pictures that I would have never had otherwise. I’ve decided to share one of my favorites with you. I believe you’ve heard me talk about my stint in sports. Now I have the photos to prove it. This picture is from 4th grade (1983).

Notice the nice glasses and the determined look on my face. I’m ready to go to the ball field, sit in the outfield, and pick dandelions. Anyway, we had a great time looking at the pictures, having a nice stroll down memory lane.

For some reason I’ve had a very serious case of writer’s block this past month. In fact, the first and second paragraphs of this post were typed about one month apart. I apologize for the gap in my posting. I’ve decided to push through and just post something without worrying if it’s just the way I want it.

Since I love to over-analyze things, you’ll be pleased to know that I have figured out my writer’s block. My trip home to Iowa was extremely cathartic for me. I hadn’t been home for so long because of my need to distance myself from my family. I needed them to see me as who I am now, not who I used to be. I needed some space and I took it–about 3 1/2 years worth. I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, taking space. However, going home was truly wonderful. My family and I have both changed immensely. At this point, I think we all agreed that it is simply time to move forward and allow each other to be who we are.

Moving on…so much of the reason I began to blog in the first place was purely psychological. I wanted to express in writing a lot of what I was feeling regarding my past, with a sprinkle of current “Tyler” events. After going home, I don’t feel the need to work through so much of the past anymore. I just want to move forward. So, I was stumped. No material.

Where do I go from here? Good question. I’m just going to write as it comes. I think occasionally you will see me write about my college days or childhood; but, for the most part I think this will become more current.

So, here’s to blogging again.

Oh yeah, and before I go, I wanted to share one more picture from my childhood.

I’d like to introduce you to the Wild Rose Cloggers of Marion County, Iowa, 1982. I’m the tow head in the front row. Nice bolo tie, huh?