Beer. Tall Bikes. Bears Costumes.

Bears. Tall Bikes. Beer.

Three things that appear in the Blue Like Jazz movie along with a writer's ability to tell a story, a producer's faith in the project, and thousands of willing fans that want to make history.

When I first read the Blue Like Jazz book I was intrigued. Donald Miller spoke about faith and spirituality in a fresh way that I coming from a more conservative background had been only recently encountering since I had attended college the three years previous (to reading the book). I was hooked from the start because I felt like I was speaking with Donald Miller at a coffee shop about his views on faith, Jesus, religion, and fathers.

When I heard the movie was coming, it took a while for me to be on board. I was one of the first to be dedicated, and then I saw how important it was that this story came into being.

The story follows a young (and moderately fictionalized) Don Miller as he enters in freshman year at Reed College in Portland Oregon. Trying to escape infidelity and hypocrisy of his Texas Baptist roots, he seeks acceptance in all forms: getting drunk, making fun of God, drinking more beer, riding tall bikes, civil disobedience, and drinking more beer. Don faces the reality that most college freshman do - they feel like a astronaut in a robot invasion, just slightly out of place and trying desperately to belong. In addition, many Christian students, as they transition into new phases like college test God - to prove them that putting their faith in Him has not been a waste.

And Don feels his 19 years as Texas Baptist have been a waste, so he tries to escape. But Don realizes that no matter how much he tries to escape God, he has failed. He realizes there is brokenness in the world - youth pastors mess up, parents let you down, people have affairs, cooperations screw over the little guy but in spite of that there is a lot of good in the world. When the movie is over, many of the character's questions of "where is meaning in life" and "Why would God let this happen to my life" and "Where is God in the broken crap of our lives" remain to be fully answered. The real Donald Miller and Producer Steve Tyler want us to question that for ourselves and come to our own answers.

I appreciate that this movie doesn't wrap up nicely. Many "Christian" movies or many sentimental (they are not always one in the same, but many are) try to have a perfect little ending to their movie - with the answer to the deep questions of life easily spelled out. But you can't answer these deep questions in a two hour movie and I think Blue Like Jazz really does a great job at this. This isn't your typical Christian movie. In fact I used the term "Christian" with hesitance. Does it have a nice ending? No. Does it have a lot of sentimentality? No. But does it talk about Jesus - absolutely. Does it wrestle with hard, deep Christian themes - of course. But beware - if you don't like beer, tall bikes, or bear costumes this movie may not be for you.

The Blue Like Jazz Trailer...


One Hundred

I have been thinking about this post for quite some time. This marks the historic 100th post of this blog, that I started back in 2011. I began it right after I finished my first ever online blog, Tre. Sei. Cinque, which is Three.Six.Five in Italian. It was my photo a day blog (go ahead, and give it a look see).

So for the 100th post, I have decided to make a list (I really do love lists) of my top 100 things I have done/learned since I started this blog. They are in the order that they come to my mind...
  1. Always call a few days in advance to set up the water for your house before you move in. 
  2. Pintrest is amazing but can suck you in to hours of time consumption. Be aware.
  3. Knowing the weather ahead of time can be your best friend - find a good program to check your daily weather.
  4. Take lots of photo adventures with friends.
  5. Try to arrange your sickness during breaks and holidays so your mom can take care of you.
  6. Kids carry germs. Lots of them. Sanitize and take your vitamins regularly.
  7. Performance doesn't mean worth. It is, however, a challenge to believe this of yourself and others.
  8. AAA baseball games are amazing and cheaper alternatives to professional games. 
  9. Not planning can lead to some fantastic things.
  10. Pigeons hold grudges. 
  11. Fusion food made look scary but is secretly awesome.
  12. Everybody needs a second chance because first impressions aren't always correct.
  13. Photography can be such a blessing to others, but mostly to myself.
  14. Sandwiches are best done in San Luis Obispo, High Street, Gus's, Konas....
  15. Audio books make commutes more than tolerable but enjoyable.
  16. The phone is an amazing invention, and I never appreciated it until it became a lifeline to maintain long distance friendships. 
  17. Long distance friendships are full of confusion, frustration, and high phone bills. But are also full of God's grace. 
  18. Sometimes you have laugh, otherwise you'll cry. But sometimes you just need to cry. 
  19. My body will never get used to waking up 5:30 am. 
  20. Strength Finder is just as good (if not better) that Myers-Briggs. 
  21. Pho 75# 2 is the best Pho place ever. 
  22. A child sitting on your lap is better than most expsensive therapy. 
  23. Transitions from college to adult is one of the hardest transitions to make. 
  24. When looking for a good place to eat, choose a place with the longest line. It probably has the best food. 
  25. Joy is not always immediate and sometimes you have try to find it. 
  26. The power of the cross is something that we should meditate on daily, not just at easter time. 
  27. "She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me,' For she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."-  Genesis 16:13
  28. Memorizing scripture is one of the best things you can do for yourself. 
  29. The best things aren't always done in the conventional way. 
  30. Entering a contest can't hurt. You could win a car. Or in my case, a snuggie. 
  31. There is never not a bad time for scones. 
  32. Forgiving others is not a feeling, it's a choice. 
  33. No amount of pre-sleep will ever prepare you for the pain of an all-nighter when you are an adult. 
  34. Enjoy the local coffee shops, bars, and bookstores. Even if they aren't actually local to you, they are local to someone. 
  35. Know how to disarm your smoke detector. And quickly. 
  36. Don't eat all sugary foods all day. It will make you feel like a crazy person. To remedy: eat some eggs or something with salt. 
  37. Be excited about the small things. And make a get psyched mix if you need help. 
  38. When throwing up, aim for the toilet. If you puke in the sink, you will have to clean it up eventually.
  39. Despite might what I may wish, my hair will not truly accommodate bangs the way I want them to. 
  40. People admire you when you admit your flaws
  41. It is appropriate to applaud after airport security finally shuts off a 40 minute beeping alarm. Be warned, it may confuse new comers to the terminal. 
  42. Even after our teenage years, much to all of our disappointment, people are still driven by the opinions of others. 
  43. Cheerleading can make for a surprisingly good musical with the right writers. 
  44. Fries are always meant for sharing. Especially fries from The Hat
  45. When dressing up for Jr. High students, go big or go home. 
  46. "Sometimes you have to have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself." - Blue Like Jazz.
  47. Keep calm and eat more ice cream. 
  48. Money is stressful when you don't have enough. It is even more stressful when you have more than plenty and try to spend it well. You buy more crap that you don't need. 
  49. It is still cool to built a fort when you are an adult. 
  50. When people don't respond on the phone, it could mean they are listening intently. It could also mean, they are falling asleep. It is always ok to ask if they are still there. 
  51. Drinks are complimentary in first class. And the stewardess will look at you weird when you giggle at this. 
  52. I am not exempt from hardship just because of my faith in God. (When God Lets you Down.)
  53. Take risks. 
  54. The Lord is enough and is greater than the things that I lack. 
  55. Bing is the new search engine of choice. 
  56. Embarrassment lingers for a moment but shame roots itself in deep. If left undealt with, it becomes a part of your identity. 
  57. Be extra nice to people who serve you (waitresses, cleaning crews, stewardesses, etc) because then they will go out of their way to help you. 
  58. Sometimes the place you want to be the least is right where you are supposed to be. 
  59. Stage Manager should really be Stage Mother. 
  60. Want to make actors work better and stay on task - feed them.
  61. "The miracle of grace is not that God stops the storms of life. The miracle of grace is that he is willing to stay in the boat with us during the storms of life." - When God Lets you Down.  
  62. Our anger is often misplaced, not at the one who is absent, but at the one who is present. 
  63. If plan "A" doesn't work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet. 
  64. You can have more than one favorite student. But NEVER tell them who your favorites actually are. 
  65. Celebrate the good years with people who have them. It means that they will celebrate with you when yours finally come around. 
  66. At age 25, you don't have to have everything figured out.
  67. Don't work for people who make you miserable. The paycheck isn't worth it and you still have time to find the job that you love.
  68. There is no need to rush dating and marriage. Spend time maintaining the close friendships of people around you. 
  69. When moving to a new place, don't spend all your time church-hopping. Figure out what you must have from a church, what you would like but can live without, and what is not necessary. Pick one that fits the best. No church will be perfect but you need to be in community somewhere. 
  70. Counseling is an amazing resource and more people should do it.
  71. Practice spiritual disciplines like fasting, memorizing scripture, listening prayer, etc. 
  72. Volunteer at places. Many places. 
  73. Learn how to cook more than just pasta and Top Ramen. Then learn how to cook eggs other than just scrambled and chicken grilled. 
  74. Even the young can start a revolution
  75. The best way to get to know someone is let them take you to their favorite restaurant or cook their favorite meal. Food bonds people. 
  76. Sometimes we need to waste our lives for God and to worship him. 
  77. When you shut people out of your life, you are risking that they will take the hint and stay away. Be vulnerable with the people that matter to you. 
  78. Dress up and let people compliment your outfits. 
  79. Wear clothes you love, no matter what people say about them. 
  80. "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him." - Psalm 40: 1-3. 
  81. Spend time thinking about all the things in your life that definitely didn't happen by chance
  82. Staying positive doesn't have to be overly bubbly and pink, but it is seeing that there is more to your situation than the here and now. 
  83. People do see you when you sing loudly in the car. But their looks just mean they are jealous they aren't blasting their favorite musical. 
  84. No matter how many you seem to buy, bobby pins and hair ties always seem to disappear within minutes of opening them. 
  85. There are times when you may have to be in a box of crap
  86. Looking at something close up can bring revelation. 
  87. Clean your oven regularly. And regularly is not once every six months. 
  88. It is ok to doubt God. Questioning means you are seeking real answers. Just don't stay in that land forever. Let God answer you. 
  89. When making a difficult decision, take a false step into it. Try it on for a while and see how it fits before you commit. 
  90. Don't let college students get a hold of your hats. Sometimes you don't get them back. Sometimes they play "keep away" from you as if you were back in elementary school. 
  91. Be aware of your expectations. If you are holding tightly to a way something is done, God may want to challenge that. 
  92. Visit the places you love frequently. You often don't realize how much you love a place until you can't go there. 
  93. When you are in college you can miss a lot of sleep each week. When you become an working adult, even missing a few hours of sleep is a death sentence. 
  94. Give yourself into what do you love. Your passion will bless others. 
  95. We sometimes need to sit in the reality of our own sin, it makes us realize how amazing and necessary that Jesus redeems us. 
  96. Nerf wars are always a great idea. 
  97. Always know what time it is when you are having a late night conversation. Being loud at 2am is much different than being loud at 10pm. People generally don't enjoy laughter at 2am. 
  98. God's kingdom is an upside down one where the king's throne was a cross, where he uses the incompetent for his purposes, and he redeems rather than condemns
  99. Sometimes it is best when we don't totally fit in, when we are an astronaut in a robot invasion. 
  100. 100 is a really large number and writing a blog post about 100 things you learned is a much larger feat than anticipated... next time I'll do it after only 50. 


Loving Something

"Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself."

Donald Miller - I love the way you tell stories.


"Do You Exist?"

You may have heard me talk about Blue Like Jazz or my love of Donald Miller. Some of you have seen my Facebook change appearance with BLJ posters and profile pictures, but that is not to seem to hip or cool but to get the word out there about this amazing movie. 

I have seen two advanced movie screenings of this movie and I was deeply moved both times. This movie tells the profound story of forgiveness, acceptance, fitting in, and finding yourself in God's universe. This is a unique tale that deals with Christian themes without being cheesy, over-emotional, or overly sentimental. It appeals to an intellectual audience of Christians and non-Christians alike. It allows to question and ponder our place in the universe. 

But this weekend is make or break for this movie. This is not the Hunger Games that has probably a billion dollar advertising campaign. If this movie doesn't do well at the box office opening weekend, then it may be pulled from Theaters. Blue Like Jazz's ad campaign is largely told through people - people who are passionate about God's plan for this movie to reach more people than ever. 

How can I help? Yes, great question. Start by telling your friends. Buy tickets for opening weekend. Take friends with you. Bring your non-Christian friends and start discussions with them afterwards. Whatever it takes, gets the word out to se this movie. I will be seeing it on Sunday in Burbank, if you want to join me. And if you can't afford a ticket - I will buy one for you, that's how much I want to see this movie go beyond just one great weekend. Will you be a part of this story? 

And here is a copy of the email the producer, Steve, sent to the Blue Like Jazz Street Team for more info

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Steve Taylor Presents
Do You Exist?
I love our distributor, Roadside Attractions.  They've released Oscar nominated films like Winter's Bone, Margin Call and Biutiful. They were the first distributor we screened for, they've got a reputation for both honesty and good taste, and they're genuine fans of Blue Like Jazz.

But at our L.A. screening last week at the Pasadena Arclight, the co-president of our distributor made a telling comment afterwards—something to the effect of, "Wow, Steve. I have to admit I was a bit surprised at the crowd. This was a youthful-looking, hip audience with intelligent questions during the Q&A. This is a lot like the audience for our other movies."

While I appreciated his candor, it underscored both the joy and frustration of bringing "Blue Like Jazz" to the screen.

We've been trying to tell people for six years that you exist. That there's an audience for an intelligent, well-crafted movie made by Christians that takes issues of faith seriously. No, we are by no means the first. But neither is it overstating the case to say that this weekend, April 13th, is a defining moment, as the success or failure of Blue LIke Jazz at the box office can determine for years to come whether or not like-minded projects get funded.

I have friends in Hollywood who love the movie. But they're trying to prep me for disappointment.

Our PR team has done a superb job. But they can't get coverage from key press outlets, because the national press simply doesn't believe Blue Like Jazz will register more than a blip at the box office.

And then, of course, there's the Christian Movie Establsihment, who may well be literally praying that you don't exist.

Do you exist?

We know we've got a record-breaking 4500 Kickstarter backers. We know we've got a record-breaking 1500 Civil Disobedience Street Teamers. We know we've had full houses at sneak previews from coast to coast.

But can we sell tickets this weekend - the weekend of April 13th?

We've had an historic series of events leading up to this moment.

But there's only one way to finish this story.

This is the week we need all our friends to join us in a nationwide "get out the vote" campaign. The theater list will be finalized today. (We'll be expanding to other cities the following weekend.) Fandango will be selling advance tickets on either Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on the theater chain). And we need you to use all your communication tools to help Blue Like Jazz have an historic opening weekend at the box office.

These are exciting days as we count down to Friday. More to come...



Catalina Island

I will miss Catalina because...

- I no longer get food to served to me at 8 am, 12:30 pm, and 6 pm on the dot.
- I no longer can sit by the ocean and just watch the waves roll in.
- No more kayaking. Even for ten minutes with the twin who is afraid of the ocean.
- No more constant stream of people that send an extrovert (like me) into a unusual state of bliss.
- No more fantastic manuscript study and amazing revelations that really only come with such in depth study of the Word.
- No more late night conversations (in person and not on the phone)
- No more amazingly clear days surrrounded by God's amazing ocean front creation.

I will not miss Catalina because...

- I can finally sleep in a comfortable bed without people shouting loudly from the bathroom
- I can shower in peace without people trying to have a conversation with me
- I can sleep in and not be awoken by a bell at 7:30 am
- I will not be stuck at a church because the boat cannot go out in high winds.
- I am no longer sea sick from a boat ride.

Well, it was still totally worth it. I love Spring Con. More on this to come.