Song – Let’s Get the Party Started

Let’s Get the Party Started – MP3

“Let’s Get the Party Started” was originally written for a CD release of sports dance music. It features several studio vocalists from Road Records including Fred Reliford and Daphne. Ironically, when production started on this piece the song by Pink of the same name hadn’t been released yet. So it’s often confused with the Let’s Get the Party Started that Pink released.

Similiarly, we had a song release of “You’re the Best Lie” for recording artist Gailyn Addis several years ago – which coincided with “My Favorite Mistake” release by Sheryl Crow. With the amount of music I work on this is bound to happen. But it always gets me to thinking, what IF I was the one with a powerful label behind me and I was the one to get the push on an artist I produced. Then it would be my material that others were chasing. Well, that’s how it seems in producer dream world anyway.

Let’s Get the Party Started was the opening song for the Road Records release New Faces Volume Four produced by Conrad Askland.

How To Do a Dance Remix

How do you do a dance remix? You’ve got these way cool ideas in your head but how do you get those ideas down within the constraints of pre-recorded material? Here’s how I approached a dance remix in a tight time crunch. I can’t say it’s the “right” way to do it, but might find some helpful info for those wanting to do a dance remix of their own.

I got a call to do a remix of Chicago performed by Frank Sinatra for the 2005 Toyota National Convention in Chicago. This was to be their big opener for the convention and would be edited into video footage showcasing their new car models.

Note: This is an educational tutorial and falls under the Fair Use copyright act for using samples in an educational setting.

I agreed to do the project and sat down to execute it with these constraints:

1) I had 24 hours to deliver a finished product.
2) Only direction given was for it to be a high energy dance remix with a little bit of a rock feel.
3) Final must be around 3:30
CHECK YOUR DETAILS
First thing I always do on any project is make absolutely sure I know what’s in the clients head. It’s MY job to figure this out, not the client’s. Fortunately, when I went to get the original Sinatra audio for Chicago I spotted that there were two similiar songs with references to Chicago. There’s “Chicago” (Chicago, Chicago that toddlin’ town….) and there’s also “My Kind of Town” (Now this could only happen to a guy like me….). I assumed it was “Chicago” I was supposed to remix but I called the producer to double check. In fact what I was supposed to remix was “My Kind of Town” which he referred to as “Chicago”, but was not. Now if I had remixed the wrong song it wouldn’t have mattered for me to come back and say “but you said CHICAGO” – bottom line is I would have messed up the job and ruined a new solid business relationship. Honestly, I think this is the main reason I have a high success rate with my work, is really checking the details and finding out what’s really in the client’s head. This is always my first step in any project.

GATHER SOURCE MATERIAL
Now armed with correct info I locate the original big band arrangement of “My Kind of Town” and listen to it several times. Problem is that the Sinatra song is only about two and a half minutes and the producer wants THREE and a half minutes. So I know right away I need to insert at least a minute of extra stuff that fits the song, has a rock feel and maintains the high energy needed for the presentation.

VISUALIZE PROCESS AND OUTCOME
I know I’m going to be working with samples, need to insert high energy elements into the mix and need a final mastered version. I am very comfortable laying down MIDI tracks in ProTools and have a pretty good MIDI setup. I felt that the MIDI tracks were essential to the mix so I could lay down dedicated bass and surrounding instrument tracks to help support any direction I wanted to go that might fight the original track a bit. General idea was to build the session in protools around the original track, edit to be 3:30, fly that template into a program like ACID to quickly insert beat elements, then fly the ACID tracks back into ProTools to add dedicated MIDI instrumental parts to fill out the final production.

I always go very slow when I first start a project, thinking of all the elements and how best to proceed. If it’s a project I’ve done before then I’m right on it, but if it’s something a little new I think it through. It’s not uncommon to see me sit in a chair for quite a while on a project. This is the most helpful thing you can do for your productions and saves you SO MUCH time once you get into it. Usually freaks clients out a bit if they’re in the same room while I start. But they “get it” as the farther we get into production the faster I go. Towards the end I am absolutely blazing fast. Think of it as a sculpture – at the beginning it’s just a big block of rock. As you get farther into it, there’s more of a direction and momentum.
BUILDING THE TEMPLATE
I uploaded the Sinatra song into Pro Tools. I have the TDM version of ProTools and it’s quite a bit more hairy to build a template than in a program like ACID where you just drag and drop. The original Sinatra audio is too slow. I altered the tempo of the source material up to around 170 (this is where it “felt” good to me, though obviously not a good dance tempo, I felt it would be best at this tempo to maintain the energy, and technically no one was going to actually dance to this anyway, it’s a presentation for car dealers). Jumping the tempo up that high ended up being a good decision. I took an educated guess that the client saying “dance remix” didn’t really mean dance remix, it meant “make it really cool so all the car dealers get pumped up at the opening of our convention”.

When I changed the tempo on the audio file, I did it to the whole complete sample. Then I could start on edits from there. If you’ve ever edited a template that’s created by ear to the audio, then changed tempos, you know how time consuming it is to revert back. Actually, for me I just start over with a new template. Why is it important the audio be to a template that locks to measures and beats? I’m going to be doing lots of MIDI tracks, and I’d like them to lock to the track. Because I’m on such a tight time restraint (24 hrs), I need to be able to move very fast in final production.

I spent probably 30 minutes listening to the audio at a wide range of tempos before I decided on the final. My benchmark for the “correct” tempo was simply what “felt good” to me. Around 150 just felt too slow, and up around 180 the song to me just fell apart, wasn’t cool anymore.

With my audio track at the tempo I like, I started to line up the audio the my MIDI grids. The opening of this particular piece is like a ballad and very loose in the timing. So my beginning of the grid I used the first bars where the drums and horns enter to establish the groove. Then I would listen through with a click for where the audio was drifting from the MIDI bars in my template. When I noticed a drift I would make a slice edit and nudge the audio to correct the timing. When lining up audio samples in ProTools, I always listen at half speed and also zoom in progressively until I am at the sample level. Use ears and use eyes to line it up. Then listen again at regular speed to see if it “feels” right. I’ve used the Beat Detective plugin on ProTools before but never really got it to work properly. I guess I’m missing the boat on how it works. Lining this all up by ear was maybe not the best approach. I had a time crunch deadline and had to work fast, so that’s how I did this project. If I have a week on the project I probably would have fully investigated the beat detective options.

After getting the main body of the song lined up in the template, I went back to the loose intro and lined it up, which required considerably more edits. In fact, it wasn’t really “lined up” because it’s ad libbed with a loose timing, I just tightened it up a bit.

Looking at the final template, the song is now only about 2:15 because of the increased tempo! I need over another minute to the song. And the intro is too long and slow. I don’t think the producer will dig a long intro like that. But it NEEDS an intro, it sets up the whole vibe of the song, the whole REASON for the song. I decided to cut the intro in half, and used the lyrics that I thought best set the song up.

Now the songs even shorter, I need another 90 seconds of music and have no idea what to do. I listen through the song in my template, and where it musically makes sense to go into a new music section, I make large edits of 8 or 16 bars to leave open space for additional music. Right now I don’t know what’s going to go there, but SOMETHING has to.

Some of the best “magical” moments in audio production happen when I leave wide open blank spaces to fill up later. When the spaces are open like that, I’m more creative to use snippets, samples and musical detours for that space – because I’m not locked into anything. As it turns out, I ended up doing a whole section around samples of Frank Sinatra to create a jazz horn section breakdown, rock guitar solos and different elements using samples of the horn section.

BUILDING DRUM TRACKS
I mixed down the audio from my ProTools template – in the mix was also a metronome click to make sure the integrity of the tempo was maintained through the silent sections. I wasn’t using a sync track so a reference was essential.

The audio templated I uploaded into Sony’s ACID program, which I have unconveniently on a seperate computer. This was easy to line up within ACID. First thing is to build the drum track – don’t recall which libraries I used, just what sounded good to me. I built a pretty beefy rhythm section using multiple layers of drum samples that would build on the different sections, and break down where it felt right.

Once rhythm was in place I added in some horn lines and some light music samples that fit well. Most of my music overdubs and cymbal crashes I’m saving for the MIDI overdubs in ProTools where I have more control and can work faster. Once the parts are in place to create the shell of the whole arrangement, I mute the original Sinatra audio and create a .wav file of the Acid overdubs and fly this back into ProTools.

Hey, now it’s starting to sound like something!

MIDI OVERDUBS
Now I can work at blazing speed. Being a keyboardist, I’m VERY fast at MIDI overdubs. I forgot to mention also, I have a pretty good ear so I’m also able to hear all the chords in my head and know what will fit where without a chart. This is a nice advantage where my early piano lessons and bar gigs come in handy. For those that aren’t players, this will slow you down a bit as you’ll have to just put in parts that seem to fit without knowing the underlying theory. If you can get some theory under your belt and develop your ear training, it will be your strongest asset when working with musical tracks.

POST PRODUCTION EDITING
Now I’ve got everything in place and do final edits to take out or add a measure here and there. I take some of Sinatra’s vocals and use them as filler samples, add in some delay effects, etc.

MIXING
I do some obvious moves to the original track – I EQ out the bottom low end to get rid of the bass so I can use my own kicks and my own MIDI bassline. Usually a hard shelf rolloff below 80hz and another gradual rolloff in the 250-300hz area. Use your ears, depends on the source material and what you want to do with overdubs. EQ the sample track to bring out Frank’s vocals a bit, which is usually in the ballpark of 5khz. I like a lot of the original elements in Sinatra’s track so I bring up the high end about 1.5db around 12hz to taste.

FINAL PRODUCT FINISHED – I THOUGHT!
The final mix is emailed to the video editor in New York. Meanwhile my mother is in the hospital in critical care and I have to leave town right away. The video editor emails me that he wants rock guitars in the mix. Totally nutty guitars all over the place to hype it up. ARGHH! Oh, and he needs it within TWO HOURS.
Because I have templates created it’s actually not to big of a deal. I fly my new edited template back into ACID, insert a cacophany of obnoxious guitar tracks. I’m guessing since the editor is younger and from New York City, he probably wants something totally crazy. I was right. He absolutely loved it and the head producer loved it. Now to my ears the guitars I inserted are really loose and a bit out of place, but when I saw the final video it all made sense and fit perfectly with the footage they were working with. Incidentally I never got to see the footage before I worked on this project.

The video editor did some edits to my music to make it fit the video, and did some edits to the video to make everything work. I got to see the finished product and it was really amazing. I’m not posting the video because I don’t know if I have permission to. Too bad, the audio itself is a little interesting, but seeing the finished product was very, very cool.

So that’s how I did it. If you have tips and tricks of your own please feel free to leave notes.

Toyota Sinatra Remix MP3 File

Forum Network Down for Server Work

Our forum network has been down for a few days and will be back up and running early next week. We were doing pretty good with updates but missed one, and with the size of our network we’re an easy target for security holes in the PHPBB system.

We already have transferred a test forum over to an Invision software platform, which has a better history of security.

When the network comes back up many of you will also notice that we have new features installed for members. We will continue to stay committed to providing our free discussion network as a public service. We feel strongly that when people discuss openly; good things happen.

Forum Network – Sample Websites

CybermonstersThese are some sample websites from my forum network. If you visit them you’ll notice some are very busy with several thousand members, and some are sleepy little havens for occasional posts. The communities are very fun to interact with, and I’ve learned a lot from our very diverse communities.

Member support for forums is at forum@askland.net
Scroll down for more info and background on my forums.
We Have Lupus

Snowboard Forum

Skate Bulletin Board

Christian Prayers

Bible Discussion

Ultimate Talent

Religious Science

Rap Dogs

Punk Talk

Pro Life Talk

Pro Choice Talk

Christian Guitar Forum

Drum Dogs

Darwin Talk

Creation Talk

Blues Talk

beethoventalkbanner.gif

Bach Talk

The first forum in my network was a guitar player forum started in 2000. Shortly thereafter a friend was bragging to me how much money she was making charging for online prayer services. That really made my stomach turn. So the next day I opened my own prayer support website – committed to always keeping it FREE. Several months later we started opening up more music related forums; then branched out into religion, politics, science and niche discussion group forums.

Many members within one site grouping are also members on related boards. For instance many guitar players belong to multiple communities of ours that are guitar related, many Christian members belong to our Christian orientated sites, etc.

There was never really a master plan for these communities. I just thought it seemed like fun. When I opened the network I was doing very well with internet sales so it seemed like a fair way to give back to the online community.

All of our forums are free to join and have limited advertising, no popups and no spam. Thanks to volunteer moderators and admins I’m able to keep the network going with a minimum of financial and time investment.

I’ve learned a LOT from our community members. Many members are experts and professionials in their related fields and are very generous in supplying information to help others. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting many of our members in person which is always fun.

In general our communities run very smooth. Community members are active in policing their “home turf” and that really helps to keep things stable. Although I would love to take personal credit for developing these communities, it is absolutely the members and moderators that create the vibe and feel of each forum. They are the ones that have dictated over time what they think is appropriate, and what is not. This is why our network is so varied. Some forums are run are by youth and they absolutely will not stand for censorship and prefer an “anything goes” community, while we also have more “mature” discussion groups that prefer to keep everything in line so they can focus on discussion.

I have a handful of the forums I personally post on – but on most forums I keep it to a minimum. It’s very easy for me to get swept up into individual board controversies and the next thing I know hours have gone by as I get lost in “forum world”. There was a point a couple years ago where I had trouble sleeping because of being privy to all the different controversies going on. So if I keep my activity to a minimum, and the community leaders alert me to problems while they manage things unfettered, I am able to blissfully just try to make sure I have money to cover all the overhead!

One thing I always find amusing is the different conspiracy theories I hear about some of the websites or pockets of the network. For instance there are many sites proclaiming that our abortion debate website at Pro Choice Talk is part of some grand plan of control. It’s just a site, and we also run it’s counter-partner at Pro Life Talk. We also run Creation Talk and it’s counter-partner at Darwin Talk. The idea was just to give two spaces for opposing communities to develop and see what happened.

Another website post I saw a couple years ago said that I had a genius master plan for all of our forums that was yet to be unveiled. There was a very long thread with people guessing at what I was “really” doing. And you know what, some of the ideas were pretty good! I was impressed that people thought I was that smart and forward thinking. Admittedly, I do have a lot of good ideas. But I think that’s because I have a LOT of ideas. I fall on my face all the time, doesn’t bother me. On the particular thread where they thought I was a Bill Gates in the making, I quietly left the forum while remembering the phrase: “Better to be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Yes, it’s really that simple. I just wanted to see what would happen. The content of our individual forums does not necessarily reflect my personal views, and I like that. It promotes diversity and lets life breathe a little.

Originally I had IT techs setting up all the forums and scripts. Over time I’ve learned how to do it myself with managing databases, php, mysql and all that fun stuff. In a geeky way it’s been very fun to learn. All those big words don’t scare me anymore.

CybermonstersI go by “Cybermonsters” on the forums, or CM. My alter-ego is a squid (technically a Calimari, but squid is more fun), more properly General Ackbar of Mon Calimari from Star Wars who utters the famous line: It’s a trap! Info on General Ackbar

Why? my friend might ask……It’s just fun, and makes doing admin functions a little more lighthearted. Who’s going to get mad at a squid? πŸ™‚

I feel that the boards’ varied discussion topics and the friendships I have made with people in those communities have made my life richer, and I’d dare say a little smarter too (or maybe better to say my knowledge is more rounded now). So that’s what I get out of it, and hopefully a little of what other people get out of it too.

Many of the friends I have made from this network hold entirely different views that myself. I think that makes life very rich.

Macromedia Flash

I have a love-hate relationship with Macromedia Flash. It looks so cool on websites, but so easy to be a big headache for a number of reasons.

Back in 2001 Flash was pretty cutting edge and promised to be the next big thing on the internet, so I actually hired a dedicated flash specialist to created dedicated flash websites for our network. We advertised flash website design services and I kept feeding this guy money while waiting for orders to come in. In three months we didn’t get a single order and I canned the whole project.

In the meantime I wanted to use all the flash work he had created for our own sites. Lots of problems. Our search engine ranking plummeted because all of our SEO work was down the tubes when we switched to flash. Back then most people were still on dial-up as well so load time was very slow. Customers had to wait for load times and were frustrated, meanwhile back at empire headquarters we were all huddled around the computer screens going “Wow, isn’t that cool”.

I think it’s pretty well documented now how a total flash site can ruin a websites search engine rankings. In fact right now I have one competitor in a small niche market who switched to flash, and their site went off the Google map within a couple weeks. I wonder if they even realize the cause. Looking deeper at their code I don’t think they are real business saavy, just kind of lucked out. And I wonder if they are at the office looking at the screen going “Wow, isn’t this cool” while at the same time wondering why their sales have grinded to a halt.

BUT, because I’m in a lot of audio niches I’ve always loved the idea of having really cool flash intros. I got all hyped up on Flash again after visiting the new site for Aftermath Entertainment. I got the chance to do some pre-production work for one of their newest artists and was visiting the site to get a feel for Dr. Dre’s vibe.

What seems to work well is using flash headers in certain parts of a website, but keep the rest of the layout html or xhtml so you still have good info for search engine crawls. One example of this is at the website for McIntyre Hall Performing Arts Center – (which I’ll be performing at soon!) – They have a nice flash intro, and when you enter the main site they have a little flash header running. I think it’s very effective because it actually shows footage of their shows. (Currently showing a clip of Papageno from Mozart’s Magic Flute opera which I got to see at McIntyre Hall last year – GREAT performance). At the same time, you can easily navigate the site to quickly get the info you need. This kind of approach has slowly evolved over the last few years and for good reason. Give up a little of the coolness factor for functionality.

When I’m shopping or trying to retrieve info on the internet, it’s VERY frustrating to sit through flash presentations. When I’m shopping, I just want to find the info quickly. I don’t really care how “cool” your site is. I just want easy to find product descriptions, secure shopping and an indication that what you are selling is what I think I’m buying.

So here I have my own personal website and many people know I run a pretty large internet network. They expect something super cool – after all – I’m “Cybermonsters” and have done all this music stuff. I should be the guy. Ironically, I have never really worked on my personal site. Never thought it was important.

Armed with my new fervor to make my site the coolest composer site on the web I went searching for Flash programmers to create something cool for me. But I don’t want to wait, I want it now. I’ve got a few days before I go out of town and just want it to be finished. That’s when I started looking for flash templates I could customize.

Have you looked on the web for flash templates? I spent literally 6 hours scouring every site I could find, and with few exceptions they are all selling the same templates! In fact, one of my competitors redid their site in flash, and I see the template for sale for around sixty dollars! What a bunch of cheezeballs.

I’m guessing this mega network will get canned at one point by google, how can you have hundreds of sites selling the exact same templates? Event the same searching options. It looks more sinister than affiliate programs to me, looks like a gigantic network is sliding under the Google radar.

Finally biting the bullet after three days of finding the perfect template, finding a better one, finding a better one, etc ad nauseum – I finally decided to go with a very simple flash intro template to use for this site. It had really cool music, was simple so I thought I could edit it easily.

I buy the template for a whopping $34 and start to edit it. What a nightmare. What looked so simple was now bogged down in cheezy interfaces, and I was very lost with the editing. Not at all simple like had been insinuated on their website.

As I’m editing I realize how cheezy it is to use someone else’s music ON A COMPOSER WEBSITE! Would have been unforgiveable and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. So I inserted my own audio in the Flash template. The template would not accept MP3 files, only .wav – And when I imported the audio as a .wav file something happened where it was so compressed it lost all it’s bandwidth. It sounded horrible! My beautiful orchestral piece that’s crystal clear as an MP3 file was now a hidous piece of garbage. And now the animation didn’t fit the audio. I played with the audio but it didn’t quite look right with my own track. How am I going to sell film scoring and composer services when I can’t even get my audio to match a stupid flash animation?

Well, my audio was never written for the flash animation, it was an orchestral piece I recorded several years ago. And the flash was never written for my audio. So to make this work I would need to compose a new piece for the flash animation, which seems like a total waste of time since I don’t have the expertise yet to do quality flash editing.

Dear Flash, I hate you and I love you. I’m dropping it for now. If I want flash for my site I’m going to send a dedicated audio file to a professional Flash animator, and have them animate the flash presentation to my audio. It will just be a little intro or a website header, keep the rest html based code.

Of course, by the time I get around to it everything will have changed again. So, when do they finish this internet thingy anyway? πŸ™‚

Barks and Farts for Christmas

A Dog's ChristmasA couple family members weren’t very pleased and a friend really thought I had finally lost it. But my two Christmas CD’s ended up being very strong sellers for the holiday season. I’m hoping someone will promote them heavier next year or pick them up for wider distribution.

Dogs Christmas – We Wish You a Merry Christmas MP3 Sample

Farting Christmas – Jingle Bells MP3 Sample

NOW ONΓ‚ MYSPACE.COM!
Use the dog and fart Christmas songs on your MySpace.com page -Γ‚ Select a song at http://www.MySpace.com/Cybermonsters
Yes, it’s The Farting Christmas and A Dog’s Christmas cd collection. Go ahead and laugh, it kept my refrigerator full through Christmas. Ironically these projects were much more difficult to produce than I thought they would be. The tracks were easy enough, just the right blend of tradition and schmaltz without going over the top. But to keep the fart and dog sounds funny and entertaining was pretty time consuming.

A Farting ChristmasI have a rep for being pretty picky about details and this project was no exception. The trick was to keep the sounds from being to repetitive and to give it a feel like dogs really ARE barking right along, or farting right along, with the songs. I felt I had to play them live and a little loose to make it realistic, and obviously without quantization.

The end result was I actually built a complete sample library just for the dogs with various velocity strenghts so I could control the variations, and also two random banks to use for longer notes. I kept listening to it and thought it was finished, then would start from scratch on the sample bank again. It ended up taking about 20 hours to complete the sample libraries so I could execute them live in a way I thought retained the comedy of the whole venture. If it’s not funny, why bother?

As you could probably predict, the Dog’s Christmas CD is the one women like because it’s cute and cuddly. But the guys like the Farting Christmas CD. I’ve had several guys tell me how gross the fart Christmas CD idea is while their wives are around, then when the wives leave they come up and ask me for a copy. πŸ™‚
And for the people that can find absolutely nothing funny about dogs or farts on Christmas songs….well…..sorry dude. I’ll save you time – here the link for Pat Robertson.
Fair warning, if you do happen to purchase a Dog’s Christmas CD – your dogs are going to go absolutely nuts the first few minutes….or hours.

Full CD’s available at Music of Christmas or wholesale at Askland Music Wholesale.

Joel Osteen – Christian Minister or New Thought Activist?

Joel OsteenJoel Osteen fascinates me for many reasons. I’d say I’ve seen about 15 of his televised sermons. When I first saw him I was compelled to sit down and watch his entire sermon. What really struck me is how everything was very easy to digest. I didn’t hear the condemnation or seperatist type statements that seem to be typical of TV evangelists. He didn’t seem “fake”, he seemed very real and present.

But what I also noticed by the fifth sermon or so was a real avoidance of all the hot topics. Basically an avoidance of all the topics that would be an indication of how he approached interpretation of scripture. Are Paul’s letters to the Church in Corinth to be followed, just used as guidelines or written off as cultural comments of the time that have no bearing on today. (Interpretation of Corinthians is my personal benchmark to know how people are approaching interpretation).

At the time I was involved in a “New Thought” church and I heard several people very excited that “new thought is finally being accepted by the Christians”. This was a little red flag to me, because every Christian fundamentalist friend of mine is very opposed to new thought ideas. What a genius man this Osteen is, to be embraced by Christian AND New Thought congregations simultaneously.

History shows me this cannot continue. At one point Joel Osteen will need to make a stand on the beefier issues, and that will create firm dividing lines as to who accepts or does not accept him. These are just my personal opinions, and I could very well be wrong. Just the way I see it.

In a 60 Minutes interview they asked him to make a comment on some of the heavier issues, including sexuality. His answer was to give that Sunny Jim southern smile and say something to the effect of: “Oh no, I don’t want to go there. I want to keep things positive.” Good or bad to do this? The jury is still out I think.

Here’s an interesting blog article on Joel Osteen from the Wesleyian Blog.

And my whole point of this article: It’s very easy in any theology to make everything work when you keep it light and superficial. But when you dig in deep is when people are going to show their real colors and where they stand. For me, I’d rather dig in deep first and see where everything is leading and then get to the superficial “feel good” stuff later. I’d like to know I’m not wasting my time barking up the wrong tree.

If Joel Osteen can keep his ministry going and never make a stand on those very sensitive divisive issues, then my hat’s off to him. He has succeeded in the tight rope act of the century.

Report on the Perversion of Science to Support Mysticism

Report on the Perversion of Science to Support Mysticism – PDF Download

For more info on debuking pseudoscience please visit the James Randi website and also the Skeptic Society with Michael Shermer that hosts regular educational seminars at CalTech Pasedena (Mr. Shermer is a regular contributing writer to Scientific American magazine)

. This is a report I put together in April 2005 detailing a small iceberg’s tip of misinformation and New Age pseudoscience that has crept into the New Thought movement. At the time of the report I had thought I was doing a great service to New Thought and specifically the Church of Religious Science by looking into these subjects more carefully.

I was astonished at the time to find virtually no support whatsoever for what I was doing. In time I came to realize that I myself was the outsider for bringing up these subjects, and that path led to discovering a multitude of twisted ideologies and theologies coming to light.

The powers that be are well aware of this work, which I think is actually a very small beginning and really not even a “report”, more of a compilation of the obvious.

I had contacted James Randi of the James Randi Institute about some of these issues and he quoted me on his site. Shortly thereafter I was contacted by Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, co-producer of Cosmos and of the movie Contact. She encouraged me to keep the path, and that in time my voice would be heard.

Then e-mails from all over started trickling in, people thanking me for speaking out. Most of them had a funny feeling that something wasn’t quite right about what they were hearing in Religious Science churches, or in New Thought groups where discussions were suddenly turning a little too New Age. These people looked for more info online and found my report.

Here’s the catch: YOU WILL NEVER FIND OUT THIS INFORMATION IF YOU DON’T THINK TO LOOK! Sound too obvious? It wasn’t for me – I watched my whole life fall apart, not knowing why anything wasn’t working – and never ONCE did it occur to me I was on the wrong path. The tools I was using were similiar to sweeping dirt under a rug – I was working on changing my outlook, my vision, on co-creating with spirit on and on…..but nothing was changing.

Well that’s enough on that for now. If things aren’t working, consider at looking to your belief systems.

Oh, another good friend I’ve made after the report release was Michael Shermer, head of the Skeptics Society. I have attended several of the lectures he sponsors down at Cal Tech in Pasadena. These lectures have been worth their weight in gold. Getting the REAL low-down on science research from world renowned scientists at a very reputable college.

All the e-mails I get, only a very few can I post. People are scared. They are scared of making waves, of being confronted within their church, for whatever reason. I do respect that so I don’t repost them. But it’s too bad, because there are a lot of rich stories in those emails and you can feel their pain at realizing they have been deceived.

It’s nice to be able to look back a bit and see that my own personal pain was for a greater good, and that my voice is being heard more and more. Actually, it’s not my voice, it’s the voice of the academic community that has done so much research in these areas. Unfortunately, the general public is not educated strongly enough in these areas to know what information is correct. We rely on our sources for this info.

My discovery is that what the established body of scientific research says in these areas, and what New Thought ministers SAY that the scientific community says, are often two entirely different and opposing viewpoints.

I choose to stand with the science community, as Religious Science has apparently and inescapably veered off into the dangerous realm of the New Age and by all indications I have seen; have no intention of correcting that course.

Why is it important? When people base their life off bad information, they make bad decisions. It very much has dire affects on individual lives and no, I do not think I am taking these areas too seriously. To me, the implications of doing otherwise are sinister, suppressive and devious.

Ask Tech Web Servers Back Online

Our web servers are back online and have finally been stabilized. We may have periodic outages but those will be mainly for upkeep and should be fairly short.

The former tech crew left our servers in a real mess and poor security. This led to a number of vulnerabilities being exploited and our servers being compromised. In addition one of our former techs put servers and certificates in their own name so we actually had to hack in to retrieve our own information. Ironically, the security holes left open allowed us to do this.

A heartfelt thank to our new techs that got everything back in order. It will still take quite a while to get everything in order. Most of our software applications were never finished in 2004 as intended, so that’s the work we begin now. Finishing what we started.

Conrad would also like to thank Nobby and Laura from our Christian forum network. You two have been so helpful through all this. πŸ™‚

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