Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: July 2005

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Fantastic Four

Rex and I have just returned to our motel room after viewing a matinee feature of Fantastic Four. After riding two rides in US (Universal Studios), we decided it was time to head indoors to escape the heat.

I am a huge FF comic fan, right behind Captain America, so I was looking forward to this movie for quite some time, keeping up with the production, etc. When I saw the first trailer, I was like "oh crap, this is going to stink." It just looked terrible. Well, after viewing the movie, I am happy to write that the film is much better than the trailers portray, but still falls short of a really solid comic book movie, compared to Batman Begins and the incredible X-men series. And I don't even like the X-Men comic books. Reed, aka, Mr. Fantastic just does not come across as the brilliant leader that he is in the comics. But the real problem is Dr. Doom. Not even called Dr. Doom once in the movie, he is portrayed as a cut-throat business man who eventually wears a metal mask. Just not the dark, menacing Doom we know and love. Even remove the expectations of the characters from the comic book, the story still lacks a real punch and the ending left me wanting to see the 2nd FF movie way more than the movie I had just seen. Maybe that is the point.

On the positive side, there are some clever dialogue moments and a few beautiful action sequences. Although the trailer itself to Transporter 2 blew away anything in FF.

Rex really enjoyed the film, so there is another example that what is junk to one is treasure to another.

The Beast Grade: C+

First day of Vacation

Today I flew into Orlando to meet up with Rex and get our first day of the week started. I simply hate being away from Andi, and that makes the trip not quite as sweet as normal, but it was good to see Rex and be back in my favorite vacation spot.

The day got off to a rather hilarious start as we headed into IOA (Islands of Adventure) and went straight to captain America's Diner to eat the greatest cheeseburger combo in the world. Captain America is my favorite comic hero, and amazingly, he was IN THE DINER talking to the guests. Well, when Rex and I sat down, he was at the table right behind us. Then, I heard the most depressing and disturbing question ever. The lady at the table behind us asked Captain America if he was Adam Ant. Adam Ant? I mean come up, Adam Ant was a 80's pop star. Not only is Captain America the greatest super hero ever, but we were in his diner. Cap then comes to our table, and Rex and I try to make him feel better by telling him that he is still the greatest. He then said to us, in quite a defeated tone, that "the woman over there asked if I was Adam Ant." We found it quite funny that he told us, and could tell that it was annoying to him at the least. After Cap left our table, Rex and I laughed for about 5 minutes, and then wolfed down some cheeseburgers and fries.

We then rode the dragons and River Adventure, headed out to grab some Dews and D-nuts, and then back to the parks to ride the water rides. We are probably going to go buy a television tomorrow.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yet Another "Beast"

This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to once again visit my favorite amusement park, Kings Island. I took my students up there to see a Red's game and go to the park. After watching perhaps the most inept baseball team ever get killed by the Cubs, the next day we went to Kings Island.

Now, let me explain the difference between Amusement and Theme parks. An amusement park is basically ride oriented, not too much emphasis on themeing or overall design. (although that is changing). Theme parks go with the idea of creating another world that you step into once you enter the gates. Just being in the park is every bit as cool as the rides themselves. Typically, amusement parks will have more thrill rides and theme parks will have more family oriented rides. That is why Islands of Adventure is the greatest park in the world. It combines the atmosphere of a theme park with the excitement of an amusement park. So, IOA is my fav theme park, but Kings Island remains my fav amusement park. Now that those things are understood. . .

The Beast is the greatest roller coaster in the world. Even better than the Hulk at IOA. Although it's counterpart, Son of Beast may be taller and faster, there is something special about The Beast that gives it the greatest coaster status. Let me outline just a couple of reasons why it is top in my book:

1. You cannot see the coaster. Yep, the only thing you can see is the lift hill. The rest of the coaster is hidden by the woods. Kings Island does a great job of building this up by advertising with phrases such as "lurking in the woods of Kings Island." I mean you literally can't see any part of the coaster except the lift.

2. It is the world's longest wooden coaster. It just keeps going and going. Half way through, when most coasters would be finished, you go back up yet another lift hill. Awesome.

3. The overall experience is unmatchable. The history, the tradition, the feeling. Even though Son of Beast is faster and taller, it doesn't have quite the charm of The Beast. It will always be the greatest coaster ever.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Cutest Picture

Several days ago, Andi and my sister Missy (whose real name is Melissa, but I have chosen to call her Missy my entire life for some reason) took my niece Bella to shop for a flower girl dress. My mom was also along for the enjoyment, and they snapped this super cute picture of Andi and Bella together. I love this picture. Planning for this wedding is such a incredible rush, and so much fun. Saturday night, Andi and I went to Target to register. We laughed, ran up and down the isles and scanned everything in site. It was a blast. And also tiring. We have decided to go with a blue theme in the kitchen. So, we scanned a bunch of blue stuff. See how that works?

Today at Grace, we started a Prayer Revival and I was actually impressed with the speaker, who will be there through Wednesday. Typically, Revival preachers come across as emotion string pulling guys who want to see a lot of decisions, regardless of if they are genuine. But this guy, whose name was Don, seems very real and interested in the lives of our people at Grace. I kind of hate that tomorrow and Tuesday, I will be taking the students to Cincinnati to see a Reds game and go to Kings Island. I would have like to have heard him preach those nights. But, I guess I will suffer doing those other things.

Tonight, me and buddy Greg sent text messages to each other for well over an hour, simply quoting Metallica and Beavis and Butthead. Talk about a waste of money. It was great.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Judah First on the radio

Well, today I had another first experience with Judah First. I was able to hear one of our songs on the internet radio, TriRock. It was a unique experience for me, and amazing. To go to the radio station and request Judah First, click on the image to the right.

JF has been such an amazing part of my life. There have been some incredible mountains that I have wanted to climb, and up to this point, have made it to my goals. Just recording a full length quality album was my first goal. We accomplished that with The Vision Road. I remember how emotional I was when that first cd arrived at my doorstep. We then toured for over a year and played all over the east. The memories are unforgettable.

Then, with the release of Devil's Dice, our 2nd record, we truly took the musicianship to another level, and word is starting to spread. Tonight when I heard the beginning to one of our songs on the radio, it just took me to a place where I hoped I would be. I look forward to the rest of this year for so many incredible reasons.The amazing thing is that no matter how excited I get about my music, is still takes 2nd place to my thrill of finding the person God has held for me all my life. Anyway, there will be lots more on that topic later.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Proposal

Yesterday was just a great day. I officially proposed to my fiancee and had a terrific talk with her father. I would get into the nice details of how that proposal thing happened, but come on, some things don't need to be shared with the world. October 1st is the big day, and I couldn't be more excited and anxious to start my new life with her.

In the world of Judah First, our new record Devil's Dice is starting to create a little stir in the Christian metal world. People are talking about the record and seem to be enjoying the music. You go into making an album like this with the mindset of "I am making this for me. . .if people hate it, I don't care." To some degree, I feel that way. If I was forced to write and record music I didn't connect with or enjoy, then what would be the point. On the other hand, no matter how much of a "this is for me" attitude you have, you still want people to like your music when it is all said and done. Of course, not everyone is going to, but it is encouraging to hear that at least some are loving the new songs.

If you haven't heard the music, go to www.myspace.com/judahfirst and check it out. If you have a myspace account, be sure and add us as a friend.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Good Saturday

Today was a fun day. I had the chance to eat lunch with an old friend who I had not seen in quite a long time, and we ate at Calypsso Cafe, which has some killer chicken salad. He is also a minister and we wasted no time getting straight into a lengthy and deep theological conversation on the proper hermeneutical, historical method approach to scripture. Okay, actually we talked about movies, music and the overseas adoption process, which he and his wife are currently in the middle of. At any rate, it was good to see him and we headed over to Hollywood 27 to catch a movie, Cinderella Man, which we had both somehow missed out on. We came an inch of going to see Star Wars Episode III again, but decided to stay with Cinderella Man. I'm glad we did.

Ever since I stepped foot into the Islands of Adventure's Marvel Super Hero Island, I have been collecting Captain America, The Avengers, and Fantastic Four comic books. Needless to say, I have been rather looking forward to the release of the motion picture. However, after viewing the trailers, I am kind of depressed. It just looks terrible. I will be seeing it soon enough, so I will be sure to let you know if it was better than my reaction to the trailer.

I was able to meet two of Andi's friends tonight, and they are very sweet. It's good to have friends, especially ones that are actually interested in your life. Which seems to be rather rare. We watched "Hitch" tonight at Andi's house, and although that particular movie was not on my top 1o of the next movies I wanted to see, it was cute and funny. In case you are curious about my top 10 movies I want to see, well, here they are:

The Beast's Top 10 Movies I Want To See Next:
1. Fantastic Four
2. War of the Worlds
3. Dark Water
4. The Devil's Rejects
5. The Skeleton Key
6. Undead
7. Star Wars (again)

Ok, there is only 7 for now. But, many cool horror flicks are soon coming, and I will talk more about those later.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Pink Hair Picture

As I have already told you, I had to dye my hair pink for family night at my church to lead the music because the girls gave more money for the mission offering. As it turned out, the pastor and worship leader also got in on the fun, so the entire staff had pink hair for VBS Family night. I thought a picture was in order.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Van Part II

Today, I actually got to drive the van that I have been talking about. To catch you up, my band, Judah First, recently killed a very nice Ford Windstar in the middle of nowhere, VA. We have been without a vehicle to tour in and I have a friend who has been keeping a lookout for me.

Well, he found a 1988 model Chevy Vantura Mark III 2500 series. I had never heard of a Vantura either (no, not Ventura) but this bad boy is something else. It has 4 captains chairs that fold all the way down, and a huge bench seat in the back that folds down into a bed. There is a built in cooler in the back of the van, that smells amazingly like my dad's tackle box that he had for ever. That brought back some memories. "boys, I can't see my float."

Anyway, the Vantura ( like typing that), has only 86,000 miles on it, seeming impossible for a 1988 model on a vehicle that has a 350 engine, designed to go hundreds of thousands of miles. So, I politely asked if that was a bunch of garbage, and he informed me that it is against the law to misrepresent the mileage on the title, so he is certain the mileage is correct. I of course realized that people always go by the law, and so I am confident that the mileage is, in fact, correct.

Once I got on the road with it, I was pleasantly surprised. It drove great, and it blows super cold air. Basically, those are the only two things I care about. I am going back tomorrow to talk with him some more, but things are looking good for JF's third "Judah One" vehicle. (the first was a super cool 2001 chevy blazer).

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Universal Studios in 2 1/2 weeks

Rex, who is my brother, and I will be heading down to Universal Studios to enjoy our annual week long excursion to the single greatest vacation destination in the world. Let me give a quick rundown on our Orlando/Universal Studios history.

I have no idea what year it was when we first made our trip to Orlando. I think it was like 1997. Yeah, it was. Anyway, we went to tackle the Disney parks. (By the way, for those of you who are Disney rookies, Walt Disney World is actually 4 main parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM and Animal Kingdom. There are also water parks, such as Blizzard Beach, and other entertainment, such as Downtown Disney that all make up Walt Disney World.) We took our first trip and had a blast, it is still probably my fav trip of all time that we have taken. We were on a shoestring budget and things were just brand new.

After our Disney adventure, we realized that Universal may be more up to our speed. (another sidenote, Magic Kingdom could very well be my favorite park, even against the Universal Parks. But, when Rex and I are together, that park doesn't quite fit our needs as a team. We need something else). So, we decided to head over and see what Universal was up to. Now, similar to Disney, the Universal Studios Resort is made up of two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. That is even more confusing than Disney, because one of the main parks is actually called Universal Studios, whereas there is no park called Walt Disney World. A few years ago, they were calling the entire package Universal Escape, but then changed it back to studios. I don't know why.

Islands of Adventure, one of the two Universal parks, is more of a themed thrill park than just a theme park. In other words, it has thrill rides, like roller coasters, but still kicks serious tail in the themeing department. As soon as we stepped foot inside IOA, we knew that we had found something special. Rides such as Spiderman are among the greatest in the world and you really have to experience it to fully appreciate how incredible the rides are.

Universal Studios, sensing that their sister park was much cooler now, decided to pick up the pace, and began unleashing cool rides of their own, such as the recent Mummy dark ride/coaster. As of the last couple of years, Rex and I spend about equal time at both IOA and US. What is amazing, even to me, is how often we can go to the parks and still never get tired of being there. We even have season passes and live halfway across the country!

So, I am already getting excited about crossing the line of IOA and hearing that wonderful music welcome me into the park. I can hear the roar of The Hulk and can sense the taste of the greatest combo meal in the world, Captain America's Diner!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Roasting Marshmallows

Andi and I were having a discussion about the correct method of roasting marshmallows. I think it is perhaps my perfection nature that leads me to believe that you must slowly and patiently turn your marshmallow holding device until every part of the white puff is completely and uniformly roasted. One thing that drives me crazy is when people just shove the entire marshmallow in there, catch it on fire, and then blow it out. I mean come on, can we get away from this fast paced world long enough to enjoy a roasted marshmallow the way it was supposed to be enjoyed?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Judah First Is Back

I am excited because James Aaron, Keyth Harkleroad and Greg Simmons are coming into town toinght for the JF show on Saturday. It has been a while since I have seen them and it will be good hang out and eat some of mom's food.

I am even more excited because last night Bella, my niece, bought her flower girl dress for the wedding. I really think I better propose. More on that later.

The Van

My band, Judah First, had a bit of a crazy adventure happen to us in the middle of nowhere, VA. We were on our way to a performance and the transmission decided that it was time to go bye bye. So, after about 13 hours, we had the thing towed back to East TN and I was without a vehicle for the remainder of our shows. Great way to start a tour.

Tonight at VBS, a guy from the church who is very cool told me that his dad found a van that might suit our needs. It is one of these conversion vans with 4 captains chairs and the bench in the back. Plus, it has a 350 engine, which means it should be able to pull anything. So that was some good news. I am going to check it out tomorrow, so hopefully things will be good in that area.

There was a competition at VBS this week. The guys vs. girls to see who could raise the most money for the Baptist Children's Home. If the guys won, then I had to dye my hair blue. If the girls won, then I had to dye it pink. Of course, the girls won, so tomorrow night I will be leading the music during family night with pink hair. Killer.