Cake Day

It's a nice little Monday morning.

Got up early, had coffee, caught up on the season finally of The Walking Dead.

(No spoilers)

Got an email from Tumblr that today is my one year anniversary on the social site.

For those of you who don't know what "Tumblr" is, that's fine.

It's a micro blogging social media site, but with a bit more anonymity, which means more nudity and less baby pictures than say, Facebook.

I used to post on it a lot, but never really got much traction, cause, well, it's been a long time since I've had the figure of a pin-up girl, I never did get any cool tattoos, and my Toyota Echo isn't quite old enough to be vintage . . . yet.

Anyway, along with other fun silly sites, it's now become a tradition to celebrate your "Cake Day", which we all assumed at first was your birthday, but it turns out it's the anniversary of when you joined the site.

Today would be my "Cake Day" on Tumblr.

There was a nice little note and a picture of a cupcake in the email.

It's also a tradition to post a picture of your cat on your cake day. If you don't have a cat, then post pictures of your dog. If you don't have a dog, your iguana will do, but if she's not feeling frisky enough to come out of her hole, then just go ahead and post a picture of something your proud of, like your vintage 2002 Toyota Echo.

Or your cherry tomato plant that is already starting to flower.

It's also perfectly reasonable to post things that aren't all that special, like bad drawings or a picture of what was supposed to be an omelet, but turned out to be scrambled eggs.

It might be meaningless junk to the rest of humanity, but it's proof that you got out of bed that day, and that you did something, and that for at least a few moments, you were alive.

That's kind of a sweet sentiment right there.

Anyway, I was getting a little existential, which in layman's terms means boring, and no frame of mind to start the week off with, and then I looked around my room and started to wonder, of all the crap in this particular room, would there be anything I'd be walking into Terminus with?

(You'll have to catch up on the Walking Dead if you want to get that reference.)

And since there aren't any weapons or salvageable footwear, I decided that he one thing that's coming with me is my six string.

(Now, we're just assuming here that it never came down to a moment where I had to choose my family over my guitar, cause that's a bit of a no brainer, but they're not in this room, so they don't get to be part of the game.)

The ukulele would be my second choice, cause, well, it's sooooo much lighter and a decade from now, it's going to be 100 years old, so, you know, history, but again, the game is pick one.

So I'm just going to go ahead and choose my Japanese Made Takamine steel string.

She was a present to me from my wife for our wedding, oh so many years ago. We traveled around to about twenty guitar shops and I went through every Martin, Taylor, Breedlove, Gibson, Fender, I could get my little hands around, but nothing spoke to me quite like this one did. She wasn't very expensive, she wasn't very ornate, but she sounded good and she fit in my hands lik
e no other guitar I'd ever played.

I've been noticing too recently that she's starting to get a little older. There are all kinds of nicks and scrapes and groove marks made by my furious strumming (I call these her laugh lines). The wood stain on her fret board is becoming lighter and you can clearly see where I've been playing a lot of open chords cause my finger tips have worn down the wood in places.

Her sound is also starting to change. She's getting huskier, like she'd been living off of scotch and cigarettes and there's a slight slapping buzz when I hit the bass notes that wasn't around back when she had her vestal robes.

I keep her very clean, very polished, and I take her out for a walk practically everyday. It would be impossible to quantify the amount of time we've spent together, so I won't bother, but it's enough that I know when she likes a song and when she doesn't, and when she's happy and when she's sad and I know when I'm being all Eeyore-like, I can sense her judging me from across the room.

I'd give her a name, but I haven't, and I'm not going to right this second.

But here she is, for my Cake Day, and here's to hoping she makes it through the zombie apocalypse.

Friday Five in the Millions

So I've been looking for creative ways to juice up my new YouTube video series and I've found some common thread among those who have successfully attained millions of subscribers.
It seems like quite a throw to get from 12 to One Million, but this is the internet where exponential numbers are the norm, not the exception.

I've discovered many traits that make a successful channel, but today, today I will share with you just five of the things my channel needs

First: My channel needs this guy. All that is required is a few more years playing RPG's, massive amounts of processed foods, and I need to convince my wife to stop washing my shirts.

Second: My channel needs a hot chick. Not "Porn" hot, more like "Girl Next Door" hot. And she either needs to know a lot about make-up, or drug culture, and or have a filthy mouth.

Third: My channel needs more fads. Like Pokemon or MineCraft or a Kardashian or that plastic thing my son uses to make jewelry with rubber bands, something that's super hot, but not so complicated that it would confuse the girl next door.

Fourth: My channel needs more illegal content. Like unapproved cover songs, or accidental nudity.

Fifth: My channel needs a second hot chick who has a sorta serious, sorta playful crush on the first hot chick, so there should be touching, but not enough to upset the christians.

If you or any of your friends next door have any of these things please feel free to share them on my channel:

Oh, and like Five point Five, my channel needs subscribers.

TBT-Snip, Snip

On Tuesday, Joann cut Calvin's hair.

It was the first time she ever really tried to do that.

I mean she'd made a few snips here and there, getting bangs out of eye's and taming cowlicks, but never a full-on, lay down some towels and get in the stool, son, kind of hair cut.

We tried it once years ago, and well, I screwed it up so badly, we were ashamed of taking him out doors for about six months.

I don't, nor will I ever do that again.

But Joann's got a bigger set of testicles than I do.

And I'll be damned, but it turned out great.

Oh, don't get me wrong, Calvin made the whole affair a nightmare of crying and flinching and squealing and crying and squealing. He wore a hoodie for the passed few days in protest and gets all fussy anytime someone mentions it, but I think the cut came out pretty damned good. Better in fact than the last five or so cuts we've spent serious money.

Quite the latent talent hidden in the old ball and chain, I must say.

Anyway, since it's throwback Thursday, and I'm actually kinda busy with a few other projects, I give you Calvin's Very First Haircut!

And I won't bother with too much commentary except to say I'm not sure which of the two of us has more baby fat.

And Joann's right, my ears are teeny tiny.

I'll just leave this here.

First Takes-Beautiful Girl

This week's video was quite a lesson.

See, I had this idea.

I wanted to take a song from my first album, change the key and time signature, and do this cool kinda classical guitar bit.

But my classical guitar (my dad's really) has this buzz that I can't seem to fix, which means that the close miking technique I wanted to use wasn't going to work for this particular song.


Then it got late, so I thought it would be fun to take a very old recording, something not released in this century and do a fun flashback video for it.

I don't know how much you all remember about the beginning of iTunes, but there was this amazingly stoney feature where you could watch this psychedelic light show screen saver while your music played.

The feature still exists, its called the visualizer, if you want to try it out, but we don't really listen to music much when we're not doing something else, so I wonder if the teens of today even know about it at all.

However, in my day, I remember scouring Radio Shack for a stereo phone jack splitter and extension cord so that me girl friend and I could lay, very chastely, side by side on the bed and watch my enormous 15" screen and like totally zone out to the new Concrete Blonde compilation.

Then we discovered shuffle, and suddenly never needed pot again.

It was like the rave culture was suddenly available in my living room.

Now kids spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to go to weekend long festivals for what is essentially elevator music with glow in the dark hula hoops.


Anyway, so I figured out how to capture a video of my screen (Thanks Google and QuickTime) and thought it would be awesome to just play the Visualizer over a song I recorded way back in the way back.

Alas, just like a Julie Taymor production, it was awesome for about a minute thirty and then boring.

"But" I thought, now that I know how to capture video from the screen "How cool would it be to type the lyrics of the song in real time, using a fun font?"

Answer: Very Cool.

Application: I can't type that fast.

Two hours killed trying.

Carriage return, stare at the ceiling.

I had another idea, which I won't share yet, cause I may end up doing it somewhere down the line, but in it's current form, didn't work either.

Three hours down.

Oh, look, pizza for dinner.

Then screw it. Put up a single mic. Put up a single camera. Hit record.

Same song as the first idea, but the raw punk acoustic version I do in my live show.

Sounds thin and terrible, but after taking the single track and passing it through several different amp filters and panning them a little to the left and a little to the right, now we've got something that sounds a bit more full and immediate.

Kay cool.

But the look is too static.


What if we go back to the typing idea, but not worry so much about capturing it in real time and just cutting it up in the editing room?

Totally should have thought of that before.

But, me, kinda stupid.

Or, you know, an untrained dilettante with something to prove.

So, five hours in total, when adding up the earlier cutting room floor pieces and we're done.

Time for pizza.


I swear to god that the plan was to have homemade chicken soup for dinner.

The whole chicken was defrosted, the ingredients were ready to be chopped and then it occurred to me and Joann, almost simultaneously that what we really wanted was not chicken soup at all.

What we really wanted was a couple of big fat juicy hamburgers and a bottomless order of steak cut french fries and a couple of watered down Cokes. Which is pretty much how we found ourselves at the restaurant at 4:45pm on a Friday afternoon.

To those of you that don't live in a mini mall mecca, 4:45 might seem like a bit early to be going out for dinner, but over the years we have learned that there is a perfect time for meeting all of our Amercian consuming needs.

People in our little town don't work 9-5 jobs, they don't know how to drive their six-ton four wheel drive mini-vans, and they don't like to cook at home.

But if you learn a few basic rules about timing, you can live almost stress free.

First rule is this: Food shopping must be done on Mondays around noon.

Second rule is to buy your Christmas presents on-line.

And the third is that if you head to any restaurant after five thirty, you're gonna have a bad time. However, if you adjust your consumption clock by three quarters of an hour, then when you arrive at the restaurant there will be very little wait, the staff will be just starting their shifts and will be naturally friendly cause they haven't dealt with hungry people all day, and most importantly, the food will be freshly cooked and arrive hot.

Now because Joann and I could go to restaurants professionally, we have a very specific protocol that must be followed in order to achieve maximum happiness when dining out with each other and our eight year old.

First, while standing in line, we find out what the boy wants to drink.

There are only three usual choices, milk, lemonade, or a coke.

We make this determination while waiting to be seated, so that everyone's beverages can be ordered at the same time and the poor server doesn't have to stand at our table, waiting, and waiting while we ask and eight year old for his opinion.

Don't make your server wait while you ask an eight year old for his opinion.

For god's sake.

Yes, we would like a kids menu, yes, we prefer inside, yes, we've been here before, and please, would it be possible to get a booth? We don't have to think about these things or check each other's faces for confirmation.

Sit down, drinks immediately ordered and then quick as a couple of bunny rabbits, we dive straight into the kids menu.

Again, do not make your server wait while you ask your eight year old what he wants for dinner.

OMG I can't stress that enough.

There are three usual options. Plain cheese burger, Mac n Cheese, corn dogs.

You would think chicken fingers would be added to the list, but no, for some reason he's just not a big fan.


Anyway, our drinks arrive, and a plain cheese burger is ordered quickly, but the two adults are going to need more time. This is subterfuge. The quicker the eight year old gets his food, the less time he has to start getting antsy and crawling under the table.

Do any thing you can to keep your eight year old from crawling under the table.

Small pox is a real thing.

Now, just to get real for a moment, Joann is going to get the avocado burger and I'm going to get the jalapeño burger, but we like to take ten minutes to perform this little one act play of ours:

Joann: What are you gonna have?

Josh: I was thinking about the thing with the thing.

Joann: Oh, that's what I was thinking of getting.

Josh: Well, why don't you get it and I'll get something else with the thing and I'll just have a bite of yours.

Joann: Get your own food, I don't want your boy cooties. Ooh, onion rings or french fries?

Josh: Maybe I'll have this other thing with the things.

Joann: OMG where's that? I didn't see that.

Josh reaches across the table and turns a few pages of Joann's menu and points to the description of the thing with the things.

Joann: Ooh, that looks good.

Josh: I know, but look at the calories.

Joann: Really? Cause we're not here to get thin.

Josh: Maybe I'll just get the thing.

Joann: That' so boring, you always get the thing.

Josh: That's cause I like the thing. Enter Server. Do you know what you're getting?

Joann: No. You order first.

Server: What'll it be?

Josh: I'll have the Jalapeño Burger.

Server: Good choice. And I dare you to eat the roasted Jalapeño on top.

Josh: What?

Server: It comes with a roasted jalapeño on top and I've only seen two people who ate it. And Ma'am, what'll you be having?

Joann: I'll have the avocado burger, well done, with fries.

Server: Anything else for you two?

Josh and Joann: No thanks.

Cue lights.

Now, I don't know if you caught that little piece of the play where the server improvised, but I'm pretty sure there was a moment where a community college dropout with dreams of getting into a nursing program just double dog dared me to eat a jalapeño in front of my son.

(Now don't get me wrong, I dropped out of community college no less than three times myself while working a multitude of retail jobs, so even though the joke required a bit of mean spirited adjectives, I have nothing but the utmost respect for people doing the best they can to live good lives, and our server was no exception.)

Yet, if you missed the line, I assure you, Calvin did not.

Wait . . . Dad?

Uh huh?

Are you going to eat the whole Jalapeño?

Of course, duh.

So you're going to be like only one of three people who have ever eaten the whole thing.

Damn straight.

Which is when I got the look from my wife. You know that look. The look that says you're acting like a child.

Now to be fair, had I been double dog dared to eat a jalapeño in front of my wife and my wife alone, I would very easily respond like an adult and have made the decision whether or not to eat the whole thing only if I felt like it.

She has witnessed all kinds of unmanly behavior from me, and to back down from what was most likely to become a gastrointestinal nightmare, wouldn't change her opinion of me in the slightest. In fact, considering that she has to share the bedroom with me later, she would probably be relieved to know I made the decision not to jeopardize her clean sheets.

But I'll be damned if I'm ever going to let my boy see me flinch.

So the burgers arrive, and yes, right there, skewered to the top of the bun, was a five inch roasted Jalapeño just glistening with capsaicin.

(That's the stuff that makes peppers hot)

And you gotta remember, I love jalapeños.

Love jalapeños.

I grow em, I stuff em, I barbecue em, I put them in every salsa I've ever made, I've even perfected a recipe for pickling them.

I put them on chicken soup.

Awe yeah.

Pickled jalapeños on chicken soup.

Awe yeah.

But, this might have been the case of maybe a little too much of a good thing.

See, I ordered a Jalapeño Burger.

Which comes with a 1/2 pound of ground beef, on a Jalapeño bun, with tomatoes, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, a creamy chipotle sauce, and these wonderful deep fried jalapeño medallions scattered throughout.

If there is any thing in the world that could probably go without having a five inch roasted jalapeño skewered to the top of it, it would probably be the jalapeño burger I was about to eat.

When Calvin saw the jalapeño, he freaked just a little.

And I, of course, being a man with several testicles, took a huge bite of the roasted pepper.

Which, wasn't a bad decision if I want my son growing up with an image of powerful masculinity, but it was not the right choice if I wanted to enjoy my meal, or for that matter, the rest of the night, and most of the morning after.

My digestive tract was now lava.

Beads of sweat dripping down the shriveled testicles I was so proud of earlier.

It took a full ten minutes before my hands stopped shaking.

Was I gonna finish it?

Of course.

Like, duh.

I may have had to eat the rest of it after thinly slicing it and following each piece with a coke chaser, but if he was a she, then I was gonna get her done.

And I stand by my choice.

As I do all my choices.

In fact, there are only two kinds of choices:

Good Choices,

and Better Choices.

Make a choice, its a good choice, but you won't know if there was a better choice until later, so, you know, choose something.

And in this particular case, I made the Better Choice, and I'll tell you why;

Truth is, I write stories.

And it's a better story to have eaten the thing, than to not have eaten the thing, clean sheets be damned.

And second, there will absolutely come a time when I get to instill in my son the more pragmatic measured man that defines the real role of positive masculinity. Teach him to build things, treat people with respect, hold open doors for people (including feminists), be strong and quiet and decisive and approachable.

But, please jesus, not yet.

He doesn't have Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy, or Superman or Batman or The Incredible Hulk anymore.

What he has is Dad.

And yes, the day will come when I will absolutely teach him that real strength is only derived from weakness and fear and that sometimes, the manliest thing is to not eat the jalapeño.

But today is not that day.

Today is not that day.

Gonna Have to Put Her Down Five

Spoiler Alert:

What you are about to read is a five list that results in the sad, but necessary, deaths of some of our least understood protagonists.

You should very much stop reading if you are the kind of person whose Netflix and TiVo queues are out of control, or if you have a pile of literary classics by the side of your bed that you are planning to read as soon as you finish Eat, Pray, Love.

(Additional Spoiler Alert: If you have only finished the Eat part of Eat, Pray, Love, then feel free to stop, you've already had the best part.)

In celebration of possibly one of the most twisted episodes of The Walking Dead this week, if you haven't seen it, stop reading now, I give you my top five pop culture moments where, unfortunately, due to extreme circumstances, you're gonna have to put her down.

1. Frankenstein's Monster:
Aw, such a touching moment where the little girl is tossing flower petals into the lake. Gosh it almost seems obvious that if the plan is to throw pretty things into the water, shouldn't we throw the pretty little girl as well? The townsfolk don't think so, and its a shame, someone was going to make espresso.

2. Of Mice and Lenny:
Killing the puppies was kinda sad. Killing the farmer's daughter, well, that was just poor decision making. Tell me about the rabbits again, George.

3. Old Yeller:
Well, we now know that rabies from bats is incredibly rare, so it's most likely boy's best friend tussled with a crazy raccoon, but it don't matter much, son, just go get Daddy's shotgun and quit asking questions.

4. Heather Number One:
You could gag her with a pitchfork or eff her with a chainsaw backwards, but if you're gonna feed her drain cleaner mixed with milk and orange juice, try to make sure she's not standing by a glass coffee table.

5. The Big Blonde Guy in Fargo
Oh, you can kidnap and ultimately kill a mother of two and pop a cap in a highway patrolman on a snowy bank by the side of the road, but nobody, nobody, puts Steve Buscemi's body parts through a wood chipper, nobody.

Please send me your favorite Pop Culture "Sorry, but we're gonna have to put her down" Moments and I'll be more than happy to share them with the class.

Happy Weekend.

TBT: Can't Go Wrong With The Babies

Look at that face!

Look at it!

Can you believe there was once a time when Calvin had fat around his arms and face?

Now he's all tendon and bone.

Look . . . at . . . that . . . Face!


So a good friend of mine and his wife announced the birth of their brand new bouncing baby.

And not a few months ago, a good friend and her husband had their own bouncing baby boy. It'll be their second, but the first was a girl and that doesn't count.

I have a cousin too who is a new Dad.

Good to know that that is still happening.

Not too far from now, as our ages start to push deeper into the 40yard territory, we will no longer be posting pictures of our children, soon begins the postings of our children's children.

That will be an unfortunate day.

I'm already starting to save up for the jewelry Joann's gonna need to make her stop crying.

I'm kidding.

Joann's not that girl at all.

No, my friends, its gonna be more like a European Tour, or video of me doing laundry.

Anyway, congratulations to them all.

And if there is any piece of advice that goes ignored more than any piece of advice ever uttered, it's this:

Don't worry too much.

As long as you love it and feed it, and something something about keeping it warm and dry, you can't go wrong with the babies.

Concentrate on your own sanity.

And take pictures.

I'm glad I took a lot of pictures of those first few years, cause honestly, I don't remember a single moment of any of that. Being a new parent is kinda like being a black-out drunk for a quarter of a decade.

It was a wild time and you did some wonderful and terrible things.

And yes there was quite a bit of joy, but my god the terror whenever anything weird or unscripted happened, where you seem to jump from crisis to crisis to crisis with nearly no end in sight, because, well, the only end in sight is your own death, hopefully long after you've taken your beautiful bride of fifty years on the european tour.

Cause it never stops.

My big guy can legally buy beer, so shit just got real.

My little guy can't seem to put on weight, no matter how much I try to shovel food into him.

But you know what?

I'm trying not to worry about it.

Cause I love em, and feed em, and something something warm and dry, and though they stopped being cute after that new car smell wore off, they're still babies.

Until they have babies of their own.

And when that happens, I'll be posting
pictures of Venice.

First Takes-Sit By Me (and an "Ooops, I'll fix that later")

So this week I thought it might be fun to try and combine a live recording with some of my writing.

Why, yes, I did get the idea from watching Star Wars.

Why, no, I'm not ashamed.

Artistry borrows, Genius steals.

So, fixed camera, grainy black and white almost ambient filming, with an adaptation of one of my old essays scrolling along.

In putting it together I had all kinds of fun.

There were all these new kinds of challenges, like how to edit to a specific word count, and how to pace it so it's followable, but not boring.

Problems: The Star Wars scroll cuts off at the edges of the screen, so at first it feels kinda like you're reading only the middle of each sentence. Ooops.

And I kinda edited it on my 24" computer screen, without thinking, that maybe, you're going to be watching this on your iPhone. The font is way too small, so, sorry, you're just going to have to enjoy the song by itself.

Now you're probably asking "Why post if its not perfect?"

Cause, it's going to be a long time before I have any real mastery of this format, and my whole artistic product is about journey not destination.

Even Doctors refer to their work as mere "Practice" so think of my stuff as being somewhat of a public colonoscopy.

No, on second thought, don't think about that at all.

At all.

Just watch and listen, or just listen, or whatever, and tell me what you think, or don't.

Please do.

and thank you.

Tap the picture to take you to YouTube. :)

Pi-day Five

Aw yeah, who's got two thumbs, loves puns, and National Holidays dedicated to Math?

This Guy!

What's a circle's favorite animal?
Pi thon

Did you know that 3.14% of all sailors are Pi-rates

What do you call the first episode of a Circle Sitcom?

How come Sicilians have such a firm grasp of circumference?
Cause in Sicily, Pizza Pi's are squared. 

What's a circle's favorite scent?
New Car Smell just like everyone else. But it really should be Pi-ne. 

Don't forget to send me your favorite Pi Day Hilarity.

Happy Pi Day Everybody 

TBT: No Tongue

I love taking those Facebook Quizzes.

I know.

It's terrible.

Say it.

I'm one cute kid picture posting away from being That Girl.

However, and I will say this for the jury of my peers, no matter how giddy I am to get the results, I never post them.

But for the record, if I was a Star Wars character I'd be Obi Wan Kenobi, if I was a car I'd be a Ford Mustang. I've been Dumbledore, Gandalf, Sid Vicious, and the candlestick from Beauty and the Beast.

I'm Seattle, Toronto, Autumn, and a bungalow by the sea.

My dialect proves I'm clearly living in Sacramento, CA, which freaks me out just a little bit, and my belief system is that of a catholic nun, which makes me feel much better.

I always find time to do the quizzes, and I'm always jazzed about the result.

And then I pretty much forget about it and go on my way.

But there was one this morning "Which literary Couple are you and your significant other?"

Had to take it.

Had to.

But before I started clicking all the little answers, I warmed up my ponder muscle and began to guess as to what literary couple Joann and I really resemble.

I first ruled out anything Shakespearean.

No Troilus and Cresseda, Antony and Cleopatra, definitely not Oh Romeo and Juliet, and we're way too nice to each other to be either Benedict or Beatrice.

Anything before that would be too fable like.

Nothing in the literary classics, for two theatrical artists, we are surprisingly drama free.

All of Jane Austen was out, cause, well, we love our parents, but they assuredly do not have permission to have any input at all into our sex life.

Nothing from the early twentieth century, simply not rich enough, nor poor enough, to excite the imagination of those writers.

Westerns are out. Science fiction is out. Modern, oh, so, out.

Fantasy, maybe, but nothing Tolkien, even though we have been joking about turning into hobbits as we age.

So anyway, I really could think of nothing and then I got my answer.

Aparently, and this is pretty scientific as far as Facebook Quizzes are concerned, apparently, Joann and I are most like Daenerys and Khal Drogo in "The Game of Thrones".


I'm not going to spoil the books for you, even though, by now, it's your own damn fault for not reading them.

But Daenerys and Khal are a very odd choice.

Kinda flattering, sorta skin crawly, but you get the sense later on in the book that they're perfect for one another and aside from all the blood and gore, they're pretty cute as a couple.

Okay, cool.

I'm game.

But Joann can't have dragons.

If I'm not gonna let her get a puppy, then she sure as shit can't have dragons.

So there's definitely a fictional line drawn.

But if for some reason you need to know what kind of a couple we actually are, it's this picture right here.

I just said something that I'm pretty sure was the funniest thing ever said, and Joann just finished saying "Yeah, I'm gonna need you to shut up now and kiss me"

No tongue.

First Takes-Chase the Magic SE

So I wanted to try out a newly discovered video editing technique.

(I say newly discovered cause it's one of those techniques that have been available since like forever and I was flipping around on YouTube and was like "iMovie does that?")

Basically, you can take an audio recording, set little markers at certain beats, and drag video clips over the audio file and iMovie will adjust the clips to fit the markers.

This is how you're kinda supposed to make a music video.

The program is designed mainly to make your home movies look cooler, and not exactly powerful enough to really do the kinds of things I want it to do. (Complex stuff that has to do with syncing, blah, blah, blah) So there are all these little kinds of problems around detail editing that I haven't solved yet.

However, the big program costs actual money.

Not big money.

I could go out and get it right now and not feel even remotely guilty.

In fact, it could be finished downloading before I even post this blog.

But here's the thing,

You don't learn to play guitar on a Gibson 335.

You learn on a beat up, rusty,  perpetually out of tune, flea market, made of balsa wood and ripped calluses, piece of crap guitar.

You do this to strengthen your hands and firm your resolve.

Master an Fmajor where the action is four and a half inches from the frets and you know you've got what it takes to handle playing with the big boys.

And with this "free with the computer back in 2008" program, I haven't quite shed enough blood to convince myself that I should be making professional movies.

Although, I must admit, I am having all kinds of fun doing it.

I haven't stayed up this late and obsessed over a project like this in a long time and it feels good to stretch, even if the muscle isn't very strong yet.

Anyway, I wanted to test out this newly discovered technique, designed to make your home movies look a little cooler, and I needed to concentrate on the technique rather than the final product.

So I'm breaking with format this week and using a recording from my first album, and there's no real narrative, so stop looking for one.

Basically this is just a coolish looking home movie with an old recording.

Click the picture below to take you all the way to the YouTubes.

So yeah, enjoy.

South by South Snowden

Austin, Texas.

Home of the South By South West Festival.

SXSW (By those in the know, or media writers with limited word counts)

Austin is also, considered by those who have visited, an incredibly liberal oasis in the middle of what is very decidedly a Red State.

Which means everyone orders coffee using odd italian phrasing and Apple MacBooks are distributed with highschool diplomas. It also means that there is an unacheivably overpriced organic food supplier and Joan Baez stayed at a Motel 6 there once.

I live in the Bible Belt of a decidedly Blue State, which means the tap water tastes fantastic and Walmart carries amazingly crisp broccoli.

I win.

But the SXSW Festival is all the talk in the trades right now cause it is supposedly the hippest gathering of independent music and the cutting edge of technology.

Every cool pop band from Imagine Dragons to Daft Punk gets to rub elbows with the cutting edge indie bands with their turn tables and ukuleles. Thousands of shows and impromptu jams exploding over the little town, man, that sounds fun.

Yet, now that it's in full swing, the only thing everyone is talking about is a presentation/live interview of Edward Snowden via iChat from Moscow.

Which, I get, I guess. Edward Snowden is like the closest us lefties have had to a bona fied Patrick Henry.

(Don't bother looking it up, he's the dude that said "Give me liberty or give me death!")

If information is bags of gold coin, Snowden is Robin Hood.

Unless you think he's more like a traitor and should be shot through the heart for treason, you Nottingham Sheriffs, you.

Most of us, however, are like Errol Flynn era Maid Marions, wondering why Robin is spending all his nights with Little John.

To make the point more clear, none of us really understand most of it.

We kinda knew all that information was being stored and sifted.

We kinda agree that government secrets are the only way to go.

We kinda hope Americans won't do anything terrible with that information.

And yes, we're all kinda creeped out that Target can use our private browsing pornography preferences to help increase sales of tissue and unscented lotion.

Yes, it's incredibly shocking how much personal information is out there using the simplest search techniques imaginable.

I kid you not, I once had to kick a group of gentlemen out of my coffee shop because they would spend hours at their laptops Facebook stalking my employees. To think that with just a first name and a work location a bunch of forty something perves can access the summer vacation photos of a seventeen year old girl looking for bikini shots.

And, yes, you can totally blame the girl for posting bikini shots, the little strumpet, but that's not really fair is it? Nobody reads the fine print and nobody can live in a world if all of their actions are guided by the fear of creepy men.

After that I instituted a program where we could wear any name we wanted on our name tags.

Corporate got all pissy about it because somehow Batman once made the latte of a secret shopper, but I never gave in, none the less.

I'd post bikini shots of myself all day if I thought it would get people to come out to the shows.

But traitor, or revolutionary?

Thomas Paine or Ethyl Rosenburg?

The real problem is that how you feel about it says more about what television you watch than it does about your historical point or the relevance of your perspective.

The Great Sift, as it's now being called, where each of us are beginning to migrate into our respective corners, choosing the agreeableness of our news intake, coming to conclusions when the scope of the information is beyond our horizons, the drawing of lines in the sand, the creation of Blue State Bible Belts and Red State Liberal Oasises, that's really what's gong to be the end of American culture.

There's really nothing the NSA can do with the dirty texts I send my wife, but don't think for a second that you're safe from the terrible motives of tyranny, everytime you gas up your car or bite into a double bacon burger.

All of us agree on just about 99.9% of all things.

Nobody likes potholes.

Everyone likes clean water.

Nobody likes vegatables, but they want good ones available at reasonable prices.

You have to wear your seat belt, but go ahead and forgoe the motorcycle helmet if you need a better undertanding of Newtonian Motion.

Smoke pot, marry gay. Or both. Or neither.

Own guns and regulate your militias, there's a reason why a land war hasn't been fought on the continent since the Mexicans tried to disagree with our minifest destiny. You don't pick a fight with a Texan, that's just stupid.

The saying goes, that a polite society is an armed society.

Okay, sure, I get the logic.

But if I conceed you that, then we also should agree that a transparent socity, too, is a polite society. Information can regulate behavior like an assualt rifle can regulate a zombie horde.

Either way, Snowden's never coming home.

The man gets to die in a foreign airport long before we ever agree if he was right or if he was wrong.

But he did get to open for Daft Punk.

So that's pretty cool.

Sunday Sevenish

Sometimes, when I fail to post up a Friday Five, it's only cause I got lazy.

Sometimes, it's only cause I got this idea for a thing, and that thing becomes more important than any other thing.

Sometimes both.

Sometimes Jennifer Lawrence.

And sometimes all four.

I spent the morning and early afternoon traveling down and back to see my dad. We had some good laughs and a good lunch.

In the car ride home I thought a lot about the Friday Five, but nothing seemed to really spark the imagination and then Joann sent me a picture of the cover of Catching Fire, the sequel to the Hunger Games, which came out on DVD that afternoon, with hours and hours of extras, and pretty much decided to dominate the rest of the day.

So no Friday Five for you.

Cause, and I must say it, Catching Fire is a really good flick.

Like really good.

Like there was not a single wasted frame of celluloid.

However, it made butt tons of money and was based on a young adult novel, so the critical analysis of the flick was beside the point, which I think is a shame because it was an action disaster movie, a love story, and post WWIII sci-fi and yet was made to feel real and present at the same time.

You feel like you want to write it off until you start to realize that there were gladiators in a democratic empire and the firing squad is still a legal form of execution in some states.

Huzzah, I say, Huzzah.

Now, yes, I am a sci-fi fanboy, so I do find myself feeling apologetic to the literati from time to time for how much fantasy, super hero, dystopian futurama fluff I imbibe on a regular basis, but that's kinda like feeling bad for not reading the nutritional facts on a Chicken Chalupa.

And just like all art forms, there's good, bad, really good, really bad, kitschy, failed kitsch, and surprisingly magnificent examples of the craft.

It was the "surprisingly magnificent" monicker that got my ball a rollin cause I started to think about all kinds of movies that really just blew my mind in one way or another, but were either shined over because of how popular they were, or never captured the zeitgeist of the moment, or never rediscovered by the pop culture people who are in charge of that sorta thing.

So here's just a random list of movies, some popular, some unheard of, that I could literally watch hundreds of times. And mostly have.

First: Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell is funny, yes, but watching him as a grounded character surrounded by the most amazing performers and a tale that's just quirky and fantastical enough to keep you slightly unprepared, well, what can I say? If you haven't seen it, please do.

Second: the original Red Dawn:
One of my best friends referred to this movie as "cold war propaganda trash" which, you know, okay then. I can't really, really, argue with that. A war movie about high school children becoming guerrilla fighters due to a Soviet invasion of the U.S. starring the Brat Pack. Yeah, I know, but if you sift passed all the flag waving and second amendment rhetoric and start to think a little globally and you start to think about how often an invaded country turns to a quagmire of children killing children, and yes, until you're in your thirties, you're still a kid, then it's possible to put an american face to a terrorist act. Freedom just happens to be our religion. That, and Leah Thompson. Wolverines!

Third: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince:
I know it's silly to list the sixth installment of one of the most popular series ever, but if you watch it again, you'll notice that it's the only one that is constructed like a movie and not a "Harry Potter" movie. The performances, the dialogue, the pace, the exposition, even the sight gags, all combine very gracefully and maturely. It is the "Empire Strikes Back" of the series and deserved a lot more critical acclaim than it got.

Fourth: Mumford
Speaking of Star Wars movies, did you know that Lawrence Kasdan was responsible for both Return of the Jedi and The Big Chill, in the same frigging year? The same guy who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Bodyguard. Anyway, just slightly down the list of his IMDB page is a teeny weeny forgotten about movie called Mumford. I won't spoil it for you except for the fact that it includes pretty much the only watchable performance of Martin Short ever, and solidifies the fact truth the world doesn't get enough of Hope Davis.

Five: Lenny
I can't imagine that working with Bob Fosse was anything other than terrible, but this black and white biopic of comedian Lenny Bruce is my favorite of the three films he did. The movie is pretty frenetic until this incredible melt down scene where the camera shoots Dustin Hoffman from the back of the theater and it's so long and so terrible you're both devastated and horrified and sad.

Six: The Little Prince
Lerner and Lowe's last musical together, and yeah, it's pretty heavy with seventies schmaltz, but gosh the songs are good, and the performances good, and Bob Fosse as the snake, I've heard the stage show isn't all that, but boy would I like to see it.

Seven: Across the Universe
Continuing the musical theme, this is a musical movie incorporating Beatles tunes. And, okay, yeah, Julie Taymore really starts to lose herself in high concept art that just becomes stupid (See Spiderman: The Broadway Musical) and can Twila Tharp us to death, but the guys who did the production work on the sound track where just unbelievably tight and you had to know a little inside pool to get it, but even if you didn't, the moment when Evan Rachel Wood sings Blackbird, ooopmh.

Seven and a half: A Life Less Ordinary
Sure, a road romance with Cameran Diaz and Ewan McGregor, but there is this wonderful side romance of cupids played by Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo that the whole thing is like a mash up of  Quentin Tarantino and Frank Capra.

Seven and three quarters: Better Off Dead
Actually, this list is going to go on forever and there wasn't really much of a thread to begin with, so we're just gonna stop here. Except to say that David Ogden Stiers was actually at the opening night cast party where Joann and I went home together for the first time and John Cusack rules.

Next week I may keep the movie theme going with the exact opposite of this list: Overrated Meh.

(Looking right at you, American Hustle)

Sorry Jen.

TBT: All the Things

You know what there aren't a lot of?

Cowboy Firemen in feety pajamas.

You know why?


There aren't a lot of five year olds with the guts to be everyone's hero in comfortable couture.

With the added super power of the super slide when padded soles meet the greasy shag.

Nobody knows what they want to be when then grow up, so this boy has decided to be ALL the things.

He doesn't change much over the next 32 years.

Same thin lips and steely gaze. Same left handedness and still requires a chin strap to put on a hat.

There are sublet differences though.

He's much taller now. And doesn't like his feet being covered when he sleeps. He never did get to drive a fire truck and he's pretty positive that he'll never ride a horse or fire a six shooter from the hip.

He doesn't cry as much during bath time.

He eats his vegetables.

He still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, and he still thinks he can be ALL the things.

In fact the central problem of his life right now is what to be and where.

Being all the things, to all the people and all the places, all the time, is confusing.

Not impossible,

just confusing.

Which is why he picked this picture today.

Cause there's a boy who wants to be all the things, and sees nary an obstacle.

His only concern is waiting for mom to leave the living room so he can run his baby brother over with his fire truck.

Cause it's Black Hat Day.

And when it's Black Hat Day, someone's getting run over with a fire truck.

Those are the rules.

First Takes - Quiet Amy

Special treat this week with Joann guest starring.

Which, considering how many hits her pretty little face is gonna generate, will most likely become a thing.

I like things.

Things are good.

Just click the picture to take you straight to the YouTubes.

And this week, don't just send feedback, I'd also love to hear suggestions for future songs.

Thanks :)


I could tell immediately something was wrong.

There's a little dance, a little hesitation, quick glances down the hallway, and a shortness of breath that insinuates a need to confess of sorts.

What's wrong dude?

Wait . . . Dad?


Wait . . . so a while ago, I was on YouTube, and I was just watching this video on Portal, and, then, at the beginning, there was this picture of a white ball with a bloody face on it, and it just popped out of nowhere, and I can't get it out of my head.

Wait . . . Wilson? Are you talking about Wilson?

Who's that?

Was it a volleyball and did the face look like a hand print?

Yu yu yu yu yeah. huh.

Dude, that's just Wilson. He's from a movie, Cast Away.

I thought he was a demon who popped out wherever.

No dude, he's Tom Hanks' friend in the movie Cast Away.

But why's he all bloody?

Well, okay, so Tom Hank's is stranded on an island and he has to start a fire, so he rubs a couple of pieces of wood together like this:

{Me miming Tom Hanks starting a fire}

But it takes a really long time and he gets a blister on his hand. Do you know what a blister is?

Uh huh. Like a cut.

No not exactly, but kinda. So the blister pops and Tom Hanks get angry and grabs a volley ball and throws it into the jungle. Then he notices that his hand print has made something that looks like a face on the front of the ball. So because he's all alone, he starts talking to the face like he's his friend and he calls him Wilson. The ball becomes his best friend for years while they are together on the island, and then it gets really sad because Tom Hanks builds a boat and sails away from the island and then there's this big storm and Wilson falls off the boat and disappears. It's one of the saddest parts of any movie ever.


Here. {I grab my iPad and look up images of Wilson. Thanks Google.} Is this what you saw?

Yu yu yu yu yeah.

Yeah dude, that's just Wilson.


See, no need to worry.


And that was pretty much that. In fact, cause it was bed time, rather than reading a story or falling asleep in front of the TV, he wanted me to tell him the whole story of Cast Away since we couldn't find our copy of the DVD. (I don't think it survived one of our last media purges.)

I did dance lightly over the plane crash, and omitted Helen Hunt entirely, but it made a nice little bed time story with a somewhat happy ending.

I say somewhat, because I firmly believe that the moment when Wilson drifts off into the vast Pacific Ocean, it is like one of the saddest moments ever caught on film. If I were to work a top list into today's blog it would be when the gun goes off on Old Yeller, Jenny dying on a Tuesday, Sophie's final decision, the brothers bleeding to death on a park bench at the end of Red Dawn, and Tom Hanks apologizing to a volleyball.

I'm sure there are others. Tell me about the bunny rabbits again, George, and when Mr. T somehow causes Burgess Meredith to have a heart attack, but you know, that's just crossing hairs.

But the idea of context was what was really on my mind today.

See, if you're eight and you've never seen Cast Away, and someone suddenly shows you a picture of a bloody hand print on a volleyball, there's really no reason for you to think it's anything other than a demon that pops out at you.

The mind will just start to make things up.

Fill in all the blanks until a full story emerges.

And, is it more than just pessimism to suggest that the story is always a terrible one?

Calvin falls asleep on the couch and kicks a wine glass off one of the end tables and all I could think about in the middle of the night with the sound of shattering glass is that someone just broke in and I have to kill some one and why don't I have a baseball bat?

Part of that is some over active anxiety, but, a big part of that is survival instinct.

The Homo Erectus that doesn't conjure images of lions at the sound of a snapping twig, gets eaten nine times out of ten.

It's very possible that we're just simply hard wired for aggressively terrible conclusions.

Learning how to untangle the mess the modern amygdala makes is a lifetime pursuit.

But it's a worthwhile one. Once you get passed something, something being your own imagination, and see things at face value, you start to have courage and faith and that icky feeling in the pit of your stomach disappears and your voice has authority and your spine seems to, well, grow a spine.

Yet the real conclusion isn't just about facing fear.

See, I've been throwing myself out into the big bad world a lot.

Which has lead to a substantial amount of rejection.

And an even bigger amount of indifference.

Which can be much much, much much worse.

So much worse, that it is nearly impossible not to jump to the conclusion that everything I've ever created is terrible, and I'm just a clown of a man.

Which, when you think about it, is no less ridiculous than worrying about a bloody faced monster popping up down the hall.

But who's to criticize anything down a darkened hallway five minutes before bedtime?

Or to feel a sense of self worth when you're told by a major music producer that Selina Gomez would never sing "change is difficult, but my heart is reeling" as if you have any idea what that means.

Too cheesy or too complicated?

I don't know.

Never will.

Don't have to.

As long as I continue to remind myself, that most likely, my bloody demons are nothing more than props.