Thursday, August 23, 2012

My experience with Rhythm of Hope at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

I wasn't able to say much beforehand, but now I'm so pumped to share with everyone what I was able to experience today. My good buddies at CAA landed me a spot as the August artist for Lollipop Theater Network's Rhythm of Hope!

I went to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and was able to share one of my songs with them. Then, we were all able to write a song together. It was absolutely one of the coolest things that I've ever been involved with. The kids were a part of the songwriting process, from giving our song a title to coming up with the lyrics.

I remember my two weeks in the pediatrics unit at ECM when I was eight. I really didn't get out of my room very much. I could see the look of relief on the parents' faces knowing they could let loose and watch their children laugh for the period of time that they were with us. I don't think I'll ever forget it. It breaks my heart to think that they aren't able to enjoy their childhood. I felt honored to have been a part of brightening their day.

They most certainly brightened mine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Take it from a grad: My advice to freshmen

I can't believe some of the people that are filling up my news feed with posts about starting school today. Not because they are already complaining, but because they are old enough to be in college! Anyway, I graduated this May and thought I would offer a bit of advice. Here are Ben's Ten Words Of Wisdom.
  1. Take school with a grain of salt- You're going to learn a lot. Some of the information will be useless and you'll never use it EVER. That being said, school teaches you much more than what you learn in the classroom. It's the 8:00 am classes that prove you have to be motivated to get up for class. Tests will sometimes stack up and hit you all at once on a Monday. You have to be disciplined enough to study over the weekend ... which brings me to the next point. 
  2. Studying- Yes, you actually have to study in college! I remember how easy high school was for me. I'm fairly self-motivated, so I breezed through high school. My first semester as a freshman at UNA was quite a stark contrast. For once in my life, I actually had to study intensively for tests. 
  3. R-E-A-D- Trust me on this one. Spend 15 minutes right after class to read the section in your textbook that your teacher discussed that day in class, especially when you get into your major. It will help you become familiar with the material and you will rarely have to cram for those exams like 99 percent of other college kids. 
  4. Bring lunch/snack- I went to UNA. The GUC food is overpriced as all get out. Think stadium food prices on a ramen noodle budget. It can suck more money out of your pocket than anything else. Packing a lunch can help you eat on your own time and also help you avoid the dreaded freshman 15. 
  5. Get involved- Try to find your niche on campus. There is no joke something for everyone on campus. You may be a bro, so you're into the fraternity lifestyle. You may be a jock. Well there are intramural sports for you. You can find something to be involved in, trust me. 
  6. Get to know your professors- This is one point that I cannot stress enough. You'll have good ones and you'll have bad ones. During the first week of class, I always made it a point to stay (even if there was a line) to talk to my professors after class. They'll get to know you, you'll find out they have lives beyond giving you a grade and, when you need them most, they'll remember you for who you are and not as a name in their grade book. 
  7. Go to football games- I always found them as very fun and I'm shocked mores students don't go to more games!
  8. Do not, I repeat, do not stress about your major- In most cases, you don't have to declare a major until you're in your second semester of your sophomore year. If you have a general idea of what you want to do, or are trying to decide between a few things, see which 100 level classes you can take as an elective with your basics. Then, when you do decide, you will already have something to put toward getting out on time. 
  9. Don't wait to speak until you're spoken to- College is great for making friends. Don't feel pressured to join a fraternity or sorority. I have heard every single reason in the books for joining one and never saw a personal benefit for doing so. However, my best friend joined one and he LOVED it. To each his own. Talk to anyone and everyone. That's the greatest thing about meeting new people. You never know how a random friendship can benefit you in the long run. 
  10. Enjoy it!- My first semester in college I had a 30 hour per week job, an 15 hour per week on campus job and was taking 18 hours of classes! I can't tell you how much I hated school. I didn't enjoy it at all. I'm not saying you should quit your job (I did), but there are almost always some small jobs/on-campus jobs that can help you pay your bills. Be sure you're doing something that keeps the off-campus job stress to a minimum. It will make your life a heck of a lot easier. 
Maybe you made it through all ten points and still have some worries. If you made it through all 10 and thought, "Man, Ben is an idiot." Well, in fact, I am. Just take the experiences from this idiot and get the most out of your college experience! Enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So I was up most of the early hours this morning sick, and I was unable to go to work today. I slept most of today and just couldn't shake that exhausted feeling. I've been troubled lately. Sometimes I really question what I want to do when I grow up. It was an awesome feeling being 6 years old and telling my parents I wanted to be Batman. There were no consequences to wrong decisions. There was no "future" to worry about.

I remember asking my youngest cousin, Aaron, what he wanted to be when he grew up. Here was his response:

  1. A professional basketball player
  2. An artist
  3. An astronaut
And why should I be the one to tell him that those dreams are unobtainable? Because they're not. I think at some point we all get to where we have a few dreams that we want to hang on to and keep around. There comes a time when we decide they're just not worth fighting for, or maybe they just seem too impossible. I don't really know what the reasoning is.

Anyway, I said all of that to say this. I've always enjoyed music. It's probably been one of the biggest influences on who I am and what I do today. I was lying here on the couch trying to get motivated and then this rhythm popped into my head.

I walked into my bedroom, sat on the bed, and plugged my strat into my rig. I walked to the back of the amp and watched the tubes slowly heat up. I flipped the switch from standby to on, and knelt down, tinkering with my pedalboard.

I decided with a little bit of King Of Tone, Keeley Compressor (2-knob version, you know what's up), and just a run-of-the-mill Boss DD-3, I was finally ready to rock. I started playing what came to me. It was a feeling that I honestly can't begin to put into words. For the first time in two months, I felt ... alive.

Sure, you can laugh. It may sound silly, but I really mean that. I forgot how amazing it was to be slapped in the face by inspiration and just create. I still don't know where my path in life is heading. I know one thing, though. I'm tossing all musical inhibitions into the wind, I'm doing it. I'm going to finally track that EP I've always said I would track. This is me posting, so that I will be held accountable and finally do something ... for me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pacers' mascot shatters high school's backboard

I found this video while scanning headlines on Yahoo earlier.

Here is what I love about it (I'll try to go in chronological order):

  1. First off, you know these kids probably didn't care at all that the Pacers mascot was coming into town. They were totally humoring him by getting into.
  2. At around :07 into the video, look at the kid in the blue shirt trying to do The Running Man.
  3. Check out right after the backboard is shattered. There are about three seconds of shock, then everyone goes nuts. Especially the group of athletes, I'm assuming football players that didn't play basketball, storm the court.
We've all been to a game that gets out of hand early and nothing interesting happens. The game was 31-15 at halftime, as you can see from this video. The home team won handily and it's obvious the crowd definitely got the highlight of the night during Boomer's dunk.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Delta Horror Stories: The first one of 2012!

I titled this entry the first one of 2012 because I'm sure I'll end up flying Delta again. As sure as I am of that, I have a continued horrible string of experiences with Delta Airlines. They asked me to comment on my recent flight from Memphis to Nashville. Here was my response:

"I am done with Delta. The last three times I've flown with Delta have been terrible experiences. This past week, I was flying out of Nashville at 5:05 a.m. and, after a connecting flight out of Atlanta, was planning to be in St. Louis at 9:45. Those flights went decent.

The flight that night was one straight from Dante's Inferno. It was imperative that I be home that night so that I could return the camera for the St. Louis shoot and be at work. I can't stress this enough. After an hour and half technical delay, my flight arrived in Memphis at 7:30. I had the perfect view of my flight to Nashville leaving me.

I received no options other than a rude attendant at customer service printing me off receipts to stay at a hotel in Memphis. I would've rather been helped to find an alternate way to get to Nashville, but I was never given this option.

Needless to say, I paid a late fee for my camera being late (due at 10 a.m. and I didn't land in Nashville until 10 a.m.), and I missed almost 5 hours of work. I had parked in the short term $24 parking lot because I wasn't expecting to be gone more than 16-18 hours. Well, I ended up paying $40 plus dollars for parking. I'm sure Delta won't refund any of these costs to me.

Overall, I had terrible, cramped seats, a fantastic view of my plane leaving me behind and received the reverse-Burger King customer service, Delta's way. I will spread my story in hopes that other people don't have their own Delta horror stories."