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Showing posts from November, 2013

"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.

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."

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! 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. Please remember to like us on Facebook! Aloha