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Showing posts from 2013

And so this is Christmas

Christmas Day, 2013. Never thought I'd be writing posts from my cell phone, but this is the age of instant communication, when we don't need a laptop to write down our thoughts. What an amazing time. As much as some people bemoan the way our children are fixated with their mobile devices, I really marvel at the way we can all communicate so easily. We''re visiting Julie's family in Ohio and it has, so far, been a warm and lovely holiday. I'm so blessed to be a part of this family, and to have been loved by them for over 20 years. I hope that anyone reading this is having wonderful day. I hope that anyone reading this is able to spend time with their own family. I hope that you all are creating new memories that have significance, just like the stories I wrote about in Basement Songs. God bless and Merry Christmas!

Sorry about that...

Last week was the kind of crazy hell that limits the amount of time I can contribute to the blog. Work was quite busy. Add to that the holiday rush and the general sadness that comes around every December 10th , and you can understand why spilling my guts on the Internet doesn't have its appeal. I did get some writing done, though. With the whole write a novel in month business behind me, I've decided to focus on completing the script I've been working on for the past four months. I haven't quit the book altogether. Indeed, I've just joined a writing group and I plan to use the group as a motivator to get the book finished. It's just that I want to wrap up this script- at least the first draft - before the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed. I've been writing more reviews, but trying to take a less clinical approach to them and find a way to personalize the movie experience. It's getting to be less of a challenge writing a film synopsis and throw

Disturbed Podcast #8

The podcast begins with me freezing my butt off in my garage and the topic of an Ajax enema.  Good times. Here's the link to the latest Disturbed Podcast.  Enjoy! http://www.southgatemediagroup.com/disturbed-an-american-horror-story-fan-podcast

In Memory of Seann Flynn

Today, December 5, 2013, marked the second year since the death of my brother-in-law, Seann Flynn. I wish there was something profound I could say on this very sad anniversary, but there's nothing profound about the death of a young man. This beautiful person was in our lives a brief time, but long enough to touch our hearts, change our minds and give us comfort. I will always be grateful for the long conversations Seann and I had about music, film and sports. I will recall with fondness how he accepted me as a brother, how he always had an open heart for his nieces and nephews, how he loved his family so - especially his mother and father, how he wanted to protect his older sisters, and how he worked so hard to become an enlightened human being. I can hear his voice right now, his half smirked "Yo." I can envision his outstretched on our living room chair, sleeping while some lame TV sitcom plays in the background. I can see feel his presence in our home and in my hear

Make-A-Wish and Adventure Time

As you may know, I work on Adventure Time , the Cartoon Network hit series about a boy named Finn and his best friend, a magical dog named Jake. Adventure Time is one of those rare animated series that has cross generation appeal and works on many levels. It's a silly comedy, a thoughtful look at growing up, and a philosophical contemplation on humanity. This past spring, a boy asked to visit our production as his "wish" from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The boy's name is Christopher and he wanted to see how we produced the show, meet the show's creator, Pendleton Ward, and most important, he wanted to be a voice on an episode of the show. Christopher knew he could do funny voices and he felt that Adventure Time was the place where he could experience what it's like to be a voice over actor. Along with his mother and sister, the boy spent the day with us. He got a tour of our offices, met the great staff and learned the entire process we go through to create

Updates: A Close Shave and One Not So Much

It's December 1st and I'm back to give you an update on my two November experiments. Experiment #1 was to use Dollar Shave Club for a month to see if their razors were better than the cheap Bic disposables I've been using for years. The answer is "yes." I've been quite pleased with these razors that were delivered right to my mailbox and have been impressed with their durability.  I'm on my last razor of the month (the next shipment is in the mail) and I believe I'll be using the razors from now on. Experiment #2 was to attempt to write a novel in one month as a participant in National Write A Novel Month. By the website's definition, a novel consists of 50,000 words or more. Man, I was on a roll for the first two weeks and churned our over 12,000 words in two and a half weeks. The new novel is entitled Breathe , and I guess it would be best described as a young adult romantic comedy. I was so confident that I'd be able to get that first draft

"12 Years a Slave" is the One Film You Should See This Year

Sunday evening I went to see 12 Years a Slave , a new motion picture starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, two of the finest actors in film right now. Perhaps you've heard of this one. It's based on the true story a Solomon Northup, a free black man who had a family and lived in New York in the mid-1800s. A musician by trade, Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. For twelve years he worked on plantations and suffered under the cruelty of slave owners, After he was finally rescued and returned to his family, Northup wrote a firsthand account of his experience that was published in 1853. His book, Twelve Years a Slave , was a best seller and helped open the country's eyes to the horror of slavery.  John Ridley, a screenwriter with credits as varied as U-Turn (1997), Undercover Brother (2002) and Red Tails (2012), adapted Northup's memoir, crafting an exceptional screenplay that uses beautiful language to capture a time in our history when bein

Disturbed Podcast #7

Somehow we begin this episode with a prolonged conversation about Toto. It goes in strange directions from there. Witch and ghost sex. Zombie, zombie, live girl menage e trois. You have to check the latest podcast. I apologize now for the paper shuffling. http://www.southgatemediagroup.com/disturbed-an-american-horror-story-fan-podcast

Sophie, the Band and Dylan

This morning, as I backed the Jetta out of the driveway to drive Sophie to school, the Band's "Rag Mama Rag" was coming to an end on my favorite radio station, KCSN, 88.5. "Ooh, this is a great song," I said, even before we began pulling away from the house. Sophie shrugged and let me listen to my song, for a change. Typically we listen to her station on the drive to school. But I didn't stop with just telling her that I loved the song. I began a 7 minute lesson on the Band (who they were, how they became known as the Band, etc), Bob Dylan (his accident, how being Dylan in the 60s was close to being like a prophet), depression and how some musicians dealt with it, how the members of the Band became acrimonious, and finally, I ended my lecture by singing her some Dylan songs that I thought she might know, but didn't. I was proud of myself for knowing the lyrics to "Blowin' in the Wind," "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along th

Disturbed Podcast #6 is live

I have to admit, I was a little tired when we recorded this on Saturday morning. But Jeff was patient and let me go off some tangents that didn't have much to do with American Horror Story . Still, it was another lively discussion. If you haven't checked out the Southgate Media Group site in a while, they have a lot of podcasts and they've started to make the site look really fun.  Here's the link to the latest podcast for episode six of American Horror Story: Coven , "The Axeman Cometh." http://www.southgatemediagroup.com/disturbed-an-american-horror-story-fan-podcast

Chapter Preview: The Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun"

It's been awhile since I posted a chapter of the book. Readership of the blog has had a bit of an uptick, so for those of you who are curious about the content of Basement Songs, here is the chapter I wrote about my son, Jacob. I hope you enjoy it.  Aloha. THE BEATLES "HERE COMES THE SUN"   The phone rang sometime in the middle of the day.   I was at my desk prepping materials for an upcoming record session at the animation company where I worked.   It was busywork to keep my mind occupied while I awaited this call from Julie.   She had taken our son, Jacob, then under a month old, to see the pediatrician. Jacob’s failure to thrive had been a cause for concern, and the doctor wanted to rule out the disease cystic fibrosis as the cause of his lack of growth.   It was early December 2001. When I answered, I could hear it in Julie’s voice that she was fighting back tears.   What we had feared was confirmed… Jacob did indeed have cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an i

Happy Birthday to Jacob!

Jacob is 12 years old today. This "tweener" (as he likes to remind us) is one of the bravest, strongest and most righteous guys I know. When I think of all that he endures, I feel like half a man. Each day when I get home from work, he comes up to me and has an enormous hug. When I was his age I rarely hugged my parents like that. I'm so glad that he can express his love so openly.  Those hugs often lift my days up and restore my hope. Happy Birthday, Jacob. I'm a blessed man to have a son as wonderful as you are. May this year be filled with joy and great things. Love, Dad (this picture was taken 6 years ago!) Now here's one of the songs that will always remind me of my boy!

An Actual Nice Review for "King's Highway"

If you venture over to the King's Highway page on Netflix, you'll find some pretty scathing reviews. Some people are actually pissed off at me for making the movie. A part of me would like to reply to their comments, but after 10 years there's no point. We made a feature length digital movie for $5000, before there was a digital revolution! Is it perfect? No. But it's still a quality project with some great performances and some exceptional behind the scenes work. I stand by that as the writer/director and one of the producers. If you haven't seen King's Highway , you can get it in the mail from Netflix (like anyone does that anymore), or you can stream it through Amazon Prime. The movie stars Geoff Stults, a sincere and talented actor who has a new sitcom that premieres on FOX in January. Occasionally I'll check to see if anyone leaves their two cents, and it's on Amazon Prime that I found this really nice review: "Did not know the actors and h

Veterans Day 2013

I've never served in the military, so I don't understand what it takes to place your life on the line for your country. That doesn't mean that I'm not moved by the sacrifices the men and women of our military, past and present, have made for our freedoms. Today we salute all veterans, those who lived through the hell of war and came home and those who did not make it back alive. Take a moment to listen to this majestic theme from the HBO miniseries, The Pacific . This music captures everything I wish I could say about how much I respect the men and women of our armed forces.

Goin' Country: The CMA Awards

In case you missed it, I posted a new Goin' Country column at Popdose, the best damn pop culture site on the Internet. This week I discuss the Country Music Association Awards that were handed out on Wednesday (the same night as American Horror Story: Coven - it was a very eclectic evening). The CMA Awards are a night of celebration of country music. If the show was just handing out awards, it would be over in an hour. To fill the other two hours, country music stars play some pretty great music. Here's a link to my column. If you have a couple of minutes, please check it out! http://popdose.com/goin-country-the-2013-cma-awards/ Aloha.

Distrubed Podcast #5 is Live

The latest Disturbed Podcast has just gone live. Jeff and I breakdown last week's American Horror Story: Coven episode, "Burn, Witch Burn." Happy to say that I'm feeling a lot better and I don't cough as much in this week's installment. Please check it out, and if you like it, the LIKE us at the Disturbed Podcast Facebook page... or send money. You can always send money. Just follow this LINK . Add caption

Bruce Springsteen - New York City Serenade (Rome 7/11/13)

My love affair with Springsteen's music really began in the mid-90s, as I dug deeper into his back catalog. I stumbled across some bootlegs from his early years, one of which contained an alternate version of "New York Serenade" that is just as good as the released version on The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. I've never heard "New York Serenade" in concert; it's one of those rarities (like "The Price You Pay") that I pray will show up each time I see the boss, but never does. Now I can say I've heard a live version, at least. This is my favorite song from Springsteen's sophomore effort (which he released in late 1973... 40 years ago!). There are more popular tracks on the album, and others that have more complex lyrics, but "New York Serenade" tugs at my heart like none of those other songs. When the rest of the band fades out at the end and it's just David Sancious's piano and strings there are always

November Experiment #'s 2 & 3

Okay, my second and third experiments for the month of November go hand in hand and they're a little daunting. Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month ? I didn't either until a couple of years ago, when a friend introduced me to this special time when budding novelists try to cram 50,000 words into 30 days. Two years ago I toyed with trying to start a new book; this year I'm ready. My very first novel, an unpublished YA romantic comedy called Legendary , was written very fast. Well, the first draft was written fast, and then I began revising for a year. But getting that first draft out is the most important step, at least it is for me. So, if I can get into a rhythm and write 50,000 words by the end of November, I could have novel #2 under my belt (again, just the first draft). I'm cheating, a little, by adapting an old screenplay. The structure of the book is kind of in place, although I'm going to focus on just one character instead of the two f

November Experiment #1

The month is still fresh and I feel I should tell you about the first of my three experiments this month. It's the easier of the three and I'm doing it thanks to this video: One of my Facebook friends introduced me to the video for the Dollar Shave Club and the video was so well done - it's funny, informative and made me want to try their product - that I couldn't resist. I wish I knew someone who could market like this so I could get Basement Songs into more hands. Maybe I should try something with the same tone as they have. Hmm. Anyway, I joined the club and the first pack of razors arrived on November 1st, appropriately enough. So far so good. I'm supposed to change the razor each week, which is revolutionary for me, as I've been known to go a whole month before tossing out one of the Bic disposables I'm used to shaving with. I'll keep you updated.

Disturbed Podcast #4 is Live

Jeff and I break down the latest episode of American Horror Story: Coven , as I try not to hack up a loogie during the recording. TMI? Man, if that grosses you out, what does the voodoo snake slicing zombie ritual from the show do to you? Here's the link to this week's Disturbed Podcast.  You can also download it from iTunes. http://www.southgatemediagroup.com/disturbed-an-american-horror-story-fan-podcast/ Please remember to like us on Facebook! Aloha

One More for Lou Reed

In 1988, bassist Rob Wasserman released his second solo album , Duets . It's a great album full of duets (hence the title) performed by Wasserman and various artists. Each song features Wasserman and a guest performing all instruments and/or vocals. I happened catch a performance of Wasserman and Aaron Neville doing their version of "Stardust" on the David Sanborn show, Sunday Night , and was inspired to seek out the album. This same version of "Stardust" appears on the Rain Man soundtrack, for those of you interested. Duets remains one of the most listened to albums in my collection. Besides the Neville track, there are great songs with Ricki Lee Jones, Bobby McFerrin (which I used in my college film, The Brass Ring - don't tell them) and Cheryl Bentyne of the Manhattan Transfer. However, the one song I return to almost monthly is "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)," a pop standard written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer and made po

Popdose Rewind: Lou Reed, "Walk on the Wild Side"

Lou Reed died today, at the age of 71. I can't claim to be the world's biggest Reed fan, but several of his works are favorites. Transformer and New York receive regular plays on my iPod, while the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," and Reed's moderate hit single, "I Love You, Suzanne," are songs I can't go very long without listening to. In 2009, I wrote about a memorable night in North Olmsted, driving around and listening "Walk on the Wild Side." I do believe this was the first time I heard this song and it was my introduction to Transformer, one of the best albums of the 70s. We huddled outside the North Olmsted recreation center waiting for the rest of the spirit band to arrive.  On this cold December night, we were supposed to be energizing high school hockey fans, but when not enough kids showed up, we were presented with a three-hour window to spend the rest of the night.  Our foursome included Dan, a junior, cool, laid back

Disturbed Podcast #3 is Posted

My buddy, Jeff Marsick, and I have been recording a podcast devoted to American Horror Story: Coven . The podcast is produced by Southgate Media Group and we've done three so far. The third one has just gone live on the SMG webpage. You can download the first two eps on iTunes or from the SMG webpage. The theme music is by the band Expiate, which was the group my brother-in-law, Seann, was in before his death. It makes me feel good to be able to use the song "No Doubt" as our theme music. Check out the podcast. I can't promise any brilliant insight, but I think you may be entertained. This week I was starting to get a cold, so I was a little loopy in the head. Here's the link: http://www.southgatemediagroup.com/disturbed-an-american-horror-story-fan-podcast/ Aloha

2014 Rock Hall nominees/SRV

I can't say that the list of Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame nominees this year are a bad bunch. Some people (i.e. critics) may scoff at the inclusion of KISS, but whether you like the band or not they did alter the landscape of  rock music. I'm thrilled to see the Replacements and Peter Gabriel get nominated. The 'Mats helped establish what we call indie rock and Gabriel is one of the founding fathers of alternative music. Also, he opened the eyes of young people who otherwise may not have taken interest to the plight of black South Africans living under the thumb of apartheid. Gabriel's moving anthem, "Biko," remains a cornerstone in the movement to end apartheid. Although it's not going to happen (again), Chic deserves to get in. They were more than just a disco band. Listen to their songs and you'll be amazed and how groundbreaking they were. Now, will someone explain why Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were not nominated? If you check out thi