Hot Like Wasabe When I Bust Rhymes

posted in: Life, Music | 0

It’s brutally difficult when staying away from the glutens to pass up a free donut…  Don’t judge me.  I did not snag one of those deep-fried goodies but I sure wanted to.  And even harder to pass on beer and whiskey throughout the holiday weekend.  Alas, I have abstained.

The newsletter is out!  My apologies for the short delay and unconventional delivery method.  I’m having issues with Mail Chimp and still trying to figure out how I want to proceed in the future.  I hope those of you who have signed up enjoyed it.  While I enjoy writing and creating them for you, I do let out a breath of relief once they’re out.  Now I can focus on the Lost Season 1 re-watch (have I mentioned I’m doing that?  Maybe once or twice).

Speaking of re-watching, my wife and I have been going through Brooklyn Nine-Nine and man has that show grown over the years.  We thought it was okay back when it first premiered and even stepped away from it for awhile before coming back around to it.  It has gotten stronger and while we were bummed it was cancelled by Fox, NBC picked it up and we can’t wait to keep getting Die Hard references and the many other running jokes in the show.

What else is happening…  Hmm, well, I’ve been listening to a lot of music and podcasts recently.  While I wouldn’t recommend the all the music because it’s the screaming type (yes, I do enjoy me some screamo/post hardcore from time to time), I can throw out some options.  Here, I’ll recommend a band that doesn’t scream and a band that does:

1) Hands Like Houses is the non-screaming band and they’re amazing.  I can’t get enough of their music.  They stem from the land down under (Australia for you geographically unsure types) and just lay down great melodies and lyrics I can get behind (and some I don’t).

2) Dance Gavin Dance is the screaming band and I think I should preface by saying I might just be a fan of Jonny Craig who lays down the clean vocals for the band’s first few albums.  He also does the clean vocals for the bands Emarosa, Isles and Glaciers, and Slaves—all of whom I have in my Spotify playlist: The Hardest Core.  So, yeah, I kind of like his voice.

As for podcasts, I have to recommend Punch Up the Jam for music and comedy fans.  The hosts, Demi and Miel, take a song they like or hate and with a guest discuss the music and lyrics of the song.  At the end, they decide to share a “punch up” of the song which is usually a parody in some way or fashion.  Very fun listen and while not for kids, you will find yourself laughing a lot.  (If you get the reference to this blog post title, check out that episode.)

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday weekend.  Enjoy whatever time you spend with friends and family.  Talk to you soon!

Unleashing the Lyrics: Restless by Cold War Kids

posted in: Music, Review | 0

I’ve always had this desire to be a songwriter.  I’ve dabbled with poetry and lyrics on many occasions, however, I am not able to write the music to accompany said lyrics due to my lack of knowing how to play guitar or piano (that’s all you need, right?).  So, I am left to embrace the songs and lyrics of others, forever envious.

I want to explore some music that speaks directly to me and give the reasons why.  Seeing as how I’m a writer, it only makes sense that I do this from a lyrical angle rather than by the music behind the words.  I hope to do this more often (at least once a month) just to add a bit more varied content.

I found Cold War Kids a few years ago, hearing their song “First” from their “Hold My Home” album while listening to the radio.  I was instantly gripped by it (note: this is not the song I’ll be discussing, lol).  As one does, I began to go through their back-catalogue since they released several albums before this current one.  My immediate thoughts were, “How have I never heard this band before?!”  My wife can vouch for this but Cold War Kids became my favorite band after this long immersion into their music.  There was just too much that caught my ear from the lyrics to the musicality of the band who seemed to have a distinct and fresh sound.

From then on, I followed the band eager to know when another new album would come out.  “L.A. Divine” was released in April 2017 and man oh man, I love the album.  Ask my wife and she’ll tell you I may be a little obsessed because I can always listen to this one.  The song I want to explore in today’s post is the track, “Restless”.  Take a listen:

 

I’m not going to go through the entirety of the lyrics but I do want to point out the ones I was most impacted by:

People wonder, people talk
We’re supposed to settle down
How we ever got this far
Without our feet touching the ground
What time is it now where you are?
We follow beats with different drums
We’re looking at the same star
It is a talent staying young

The first verse of the song sets up this idea that people in relationships can take different paths, not settling for what may be thought to be the traditional or expected life plan.  There’s also this idea of maintaining youth rather than growing up.

Try to keep it all up in the air
You ruin it when you ask why
You know it’s not that I don’t care
I don’t get jealous, I get free
Everything good comes back to me
It seems like wherever you are
Is just a better place to be

Where I want to focus most though in the lyrics is at the end of verse two.  I remember being with my wife in our car, driving out of town and listening to the whole album.  This song came on and I pointed out the lyrics:  I don’t get jealous, I get free/Everything good comes back to me

I told her that if I ever got a tattoo of song lyrics, it would be these two lines.  She asked why and I’ll share with all of you what I shared with her.  I was pretty immature as a teenager which shouldn’t be a shocker.  I was selfish and really lacked emotional maturity, often irked and acting out because I felt cheated in some way or another.  However, as I got older and found clarity and confidence in myself, I realized my errors and learned from my previous mistakes because my immaturity affected relationships with others.  I found freedom in this self-assurance, knowing that even though I wasn’t the first choice, I would still find joy and happiness (hint: my wife is a huge example of this but that story will be for another day).

Summer Days

posted in: Books, Film/TV, Life, Music, Review, Sports | 2

Summer is here in full tilt (poker reference) and beating down us weirdo’s who choose to live in the Mojave Desert.  Triple digit temperatures just about every day make you long for the mountains or beach.  While we endure it though, we’re having fun, remaining cool by whatever means necessary.

I don’t talk about it much, but I have been fully invested in baseball this year.  I am a San Francisco Giants fan (I admit, I am a newer fan thanks to my brother-in-law and have slid head first into the fandom—pun!).  As most people will say, they don’t like watching baseball games on tv because it’s boring.  I am the exact opposite.  I love watching the games whenever I have the opportunity.  I find it relaxing and a great thing to listen to in the background if I’ve got other things to do.  I’ve been quite prone (much to the chagrin of my wife) to listening to the radio feed while doing dishes and preparing dinner most nights, hahaha!  I’ve pretty much abandoned my childhood love of basketball for baseball.

I am reading a few books, finding quite a few non-fiction ones that I’ve enjoyed.  I don’t know if I’ll include these in my next newsletter but if I do, I’ll go a bit deeper in a full review.  Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel is renown and award winning and not at all a difficult read.  It explores civilization and its evolution from very grounded foundations.  I’m always intrigued by history and how we’ve got to where we are.  Another book I recently finished is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which serves as a memoir from his time in the Vietnam War.  It explores men he served with and their struggles both during and after the war.  I appreciate the vulnerability offered, letting the human side of these men be remembered.

Like sports, I don’t talk much about music but I’ve been stuck on a few albums as of late.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know how to really review music.  My tastes are what they are.  I can listen to hardcore melodies and screams of bands like Alexisonfire and Dance Gavin Dance while at the same time throw on some Tracy Chapman.  For lighter listening, The Paper Kites album, “twelvefour”, is beautiful and soothing.  I need to get it on vinyl.  It’s just one my favorites right now.  For a little “harder” sound, I recently found a band called Hands Like Houses.  No screaming but they are similar to the Hardcore Alternative styles that I enjoy.  Let’s just say I showed them to my wife and she liked what she heard (she’s not a fan of the screaming types, lol).

Our tv viewing has been mostly comprised of Chuck now that it’s on Amazon Prime.  When I find the time though, I am trying to get through season two of Westworld and plan on getting into season two of Legion after that.  Still waiting on Stranger Things Season 3 news.  I bet we’ll see a trailer at Comic-Con San Diego in a few weeks.  I’ll announce my plans for Stranger Things Month here on my blog when I get that info.

Okay, movies.  I’ve got two I recommend if you just need to laugh.  “Game Night” you can rent and “Tag” you can go see in a nice air conditioned theater right now.  Both are hilarious.  We laughed a lot.  “Game Night” was a pleasant surprise, surpassing my low expectations.  “Tag” was just fun.  Great characters who had great chemistry carry out a tradition that promotes friendship.  You’ll laugh a lot with these two so make sure you watch them with friends and family (neither are for little kids so get a babysitter).

Call to Action:  Anyone have any big plans for the summer?  Trips?  Concerts?  Having a newborn, we don’t have much planned beyond getting extra sleep on the weekends but once our son gets a little older, we are gonna hit that open road!

Life’s Subtle Snaps

We are two weeks away from the due date for our baby boy to join us.  The wait has been both fast and slow depending on the day.  My wife and I are anxiously being patient.  I feel like bragging on my wife a bit (I enjoy doing so whenever I can).  She has been amazing throughout the whole pregnancy.  Not only has she not experienced any morning sickness and barely any nausea (I keep my hard-boiled eggs far from her, hahaha!), but she has maintained a continuous healthy lifestyle throughout.  I have not made any midnight runs to Taco Bell or Baskin Robbins (honestly, if you know her, it would be the end of the world for her to even have the slightest bit of temptation for these things).  Besides her being too hot at night and eating all of our almonds and cashews, there have been no problems.  She’s been amazing in every way.

We think we’re as prepared as we can be all things considered.  The nursery is mostly put together and I still need to assemble the bassinet and install the car seat in the car, but we’re getting close to the finish line.  Life is good and this new season for us is strictly reserved for devoting ourselves to being the best parents we can be.  Everything else is taking a bit of a backseat on the priority list.

Even in this though, I need to maintain sanity and peace.  I find these best in doing the things I love.  Books, movies, and music remain my points of solidarity.  Writing is in there too but you all know that.

I’m currently reading a few books that may or may not end up on my April Newsletter (sign up if you haven’t yet).  Included in this list is Nicolas Eames’s Kings of the Wyld, which is a fantasy book I can only describe as part grimdark and part humor.  Eames does some interesting things with the genre and my lack of details should tell you it will more than likely be reviewed in full in my newsletter.  Other than that, I’ve gone through a few audiobooks that were okay but nothing that blew my hair back.  I do have an audiobook that I am extremely excited about called Cardboard Gods and deals with the author’s telling his story through his collection of baseball cards.  If you don’t remember, I have been collecting sports cards most of my life and I have a great desire to listen to his story.

For movies, I’ve still been trying to watch several films from 2017 that have gotten a lot of attention during the awards season.  I haven’t seen very many that I thought lived up to the acclaim.  One I did recently watch though that I thought was an amazing film was Wind River.  It is not an easy film to watch and recommend you be aware that the content is for adults.  The acting is superb by all the actors and the cinematography is exquisite.  If you like crime drama/thrillers, I highly recommend it.  Other than that, my wife and I have been revisiting movies from our youth.  Steven Spielberg’s Hook brought us back to childhood bliss and we quoted the movie, recalling how much Robin Williams was a master at what he did best: bringing joy and laughter wherever he went.

When it comes to music, I am all over the place.  Sometimes, I get pulled into a particular genre or artist and do not stop listening for weeks.  Recently, I’ve been glued to Haim’s “Something to Tell You” album as well as anything X Ambassadors puts out (I am counting down the days until their new album “Joyful” is released).  I can never pin down what in music captures my heart.  Believe it or not, I don’t think I could ever review a song or album, which I’ll simply explain is due to my lack of music theory understanding.  I like what I like.

Other than all this, I’m staying busy with my day job and various other things.  My wife has been good about keeping me patient and encouraged with my book, reminding me that I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to do things that would prevent me from being present with her and our son.  I agree and will continue to work, being okay if my plans get pushed out.  I still have time.

Call to Action:  Just a reminder that I will be stepping back from writing after this month.  I will do posts every five days with the first coming on the 5th of the month.  However, I will be taking two weeks off from writing anything when the baby is born.  So, if the baby is born April 4th (his actual due date), I will not post until the 20th.  Make sure to sign up for the newsletter though.  I fully intend to send that out April 30th to subscribers.

Another Superb Owl Watched

posted in: Film/TV, Life, Music, Sports | 1

I’ve been a fan of sports ever since I can remember.  I have vivid memories of watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls winning the NBA Championship in 1993, the 49ers (my favorite football team) winning the Super Bowl in 1995, and the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series in 1995.  I’ve followed all the major sports at one point or another in my life and depending on the decade, have a ridiculous amount of sports trivia logged away in my brain where math and science should be stored.

I watched the Super Bowl this last Sunday and found myself feeling okay with the outcome either way.  This was mostly because neither team is the 49ers so I’m not invested.  The game was exciting and I enjoyed the commercials (more funny and apolitical make for better ads in my opinion).  I drank 805 and had some very tasty chili a friend of mine made (I’ll happily mention she requested my own chili recipes for guidance).  What’s better than that?

I haven’t talked much about sports on my blog, focusing mostly on writing and storytelling but I want to branch out more this year.  I’m fairly certain those of you who come to read my blog posts won’t mind if I stray into other topics.  As I’ve said before, to know me is to read me.  I don’t think you can know me unless you understand sports have a special place in my heart.  I played basketball in a city league and in school most of my life and while basketball was my preferred sport, I have strayed more to football and baseball in recent years.

I love talking sports with others.  I take pride in my ability to understand the rules, history, and cultural impact sports have in our lives.  I’ve often joked that there is nothing more divisive in the world than religion, politics, and sports.  You know them.  Those people who are such die-hard fans that they ooze fandom, secreting love for their team and vitriol for every other team.

I admit, I was one of these fans a few years back when the 49ers became very prevalent and had a great team again.  I have apologized to my wife since then because I was quite the turd if my team lost and far too emotionally invested in their success.  After a few bad years recently, I’ve realized my unhealthy fandom and hopefully righted the ship.  That is until they’re good again…and they might be this next season (Jimmy GQ!).

What I find so interesting is how sports shape us.  As children, the game is fun and we learn how to be team players (hopefully).  We get to run around outside and compete and learn some valuable social skills in the process.  In adulthood, many of us realize we will probably not play professionally and we live vicariously through our favorite players and/or teams.  For me, sports can serve as more than entertainment and I hope to teach my kids that once they’re old enough to make a decision to play sports or not.  Until then, I

Call to Action:  Those fricking Tide ads won the Super Bowl.  Watch and enjoy one of my favorites!

The Greatest Showman Makes the Top Ten List

posted in: Film/TV, Music, Review | 2

Well it didn’t take long but I’ve got to amend my Top Ten Movies of 2017 list.  My wife and I took in The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and an amazing, talented cast this last weekend and I came away extremely happy.

Musicals were not my thing growing up.  I was never a fan of Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, or The Sound of Music.  After thinking about why that is, I came to a somewhat simple conclusion: I didn’t like show tunes.  My tastes in music were never great as a kid.  Like most kids, you listen to what your parents like because they have control of the stereo and tape deck (yep, antiquated) in the car.  I have memories of country music, Amy Grant, and Paula Abdul.  Straight up.

It wasn’t until I got older that I started exploring music and finding what I liked.  I’ve got some truly cringe-worthy periods of music in my younger years (I’ll still argue that Creed’s first album is a great post-grunge alternative album to this day).  But, I digress.  Back to musicals.

Every once in a while, I did run into some musicals that I liked and could tolerate thanks to my sister.  Newsies being one of them.  Nowadays it’s a bit different.  I watch Grease and don’t hate it.  I watched the most recent Les Miserables and I didn’t hate it.  I’m intrigued by other musicals like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen.  Then there’s films like La La Land, Sing Street, and Begin Again.  I’m drawn to music and when it’s combined with film, I am like a moth to the flame.

So, The Greatest Showman was amazing and captivating.  I found myself smiling throughout the entire film and appreciating the production, acting, singing, and choreography throughout.  Man, do those songs stay in your head days after too!  I kept hearing the positive reviews and became more and more interested in seeing it.  So glad we went (we almost didn’t due to an already busy weekend).  Like I said, this has entered my Top Ten Films of 2017 and means something has to come off the list.  At this point, I don’t know which movie is being bumped but it’s got to be done.  Err…  Sorry, Gifted…  You’re being moved to the Runner-ups.

Call to Action:  Other than saying you should go to see The Greatest Showman, I’m curious which musicals people enjoy.  Film or stage doesn’t matter.

My Cup Runneth Over

posted in: Fantasy, Film/TV, Music, Review, Writing | 2

Couple of things to go over first before I get into the trappings of my mind today.  This is going to be kind of subject to subject type of post but a good overview of the happenings in my fun-filled life.

Business first.  There may be some changes coming to my blog posting schedule.  If you’ve paid attention, I post on every even day of the week (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) unless the “On This Day” post lands on an odd day.  Roughly, that means I’ve posted about 14-15 posts a month.  After five months of this, I’m beginning to wonder if I can keep up that kind content production for the foreseeable future.  So, starting in June, I’ll be switching it up.  My plan is to begin posting every three days instead of every other day.  That means blog posts will likely be on the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and so on of every month.  There will be variances of course depending on when the “On This Day” post falls (maybe that will be a bonus post for the month).  Everything else will stay the same though.

Still nothing on the book art for “Dim the Veil” but I’ll let everyone know once that happens.  No progress on the method for savings towards the professional edit either.  I’m going to be looking into some options soon though and hopefully come to a decision.  Again, I decided against gofundme and kickstarter because if someone decides to give anything over $5, I fear that I cannot offer them anything in return besides the novella once I release it and I don’t believe that’s ethical.

Viewing pleasures.  I recently watched the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and I have to say I truly enjoyed the film.  It did not quite go in the direction I expected and I was pleasantly surprised by the more sentimental parts and its focus on family.  It hit the heart strings on a few occasions.  And the music was awesome of course!  No other movies I can think to bring up but I am watching the new seasons of Better Call Saul and Fargo.  Both are great television shows that continue to hold strong in their narratives and character explorations.  I’ve wanted to get into the American Gods show based on Neil Gaiman’s novel but I haven’t had the time yet.  I can’t say I loved the book so I’m not uber-drawn to the show.
Soothing Sounds.  As both a writer and musician, I’m naturally drawn to music.  My musical journey has been interesting to say the least.  I may have to do a separate blog post on that soon because I’ve gone from genre to genre over my life and settled recently on pretty much a place where I didn’t think I would.  One of my favorite bands is Cold War Kids and their latest album “LA Divine” has been a constant whenever I have music on in the background (heads-up, I’ll be working on a blog post soon going over some of the lyrics from that album in a sort of semi-review).  Also, freaking Paramore (probably one of my top-five bands ever) has released their fifth album “After Laughter” and that will be played out in no time between myself and my wife (her favorite band).

Bookworming.  Recent reads include a bevy of books.  A couple of fantasy tomes were “Heroes Die” by Matthew Woodring Stover and “Shadowmarch” by Tad Williams.  Both were good for what they were but did not blow my hair back.  “Heroes Die” was more an original idea with sort of a pseudo-sci-fi element to it.  “Shadowmarch” reminded me of “Game of Thrones” and some of the other books of that ilk.  I also finished Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” which I will probably review in the next newsletter.  Definitely a fun “read” as I listened to the audiobook.  I’m a little behind in my reading challenge over at Goodreads so I need to get on it and read some shorter books I think.  It’s these 500-600 page fantasy epics that really slow me down :/

Fun Stuff!  So, we’ll be going to Colorado to visit family in September and I was lucky to find that my baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, will be in Denver playing the Rockies while we are there.  So, I jumped on the chance to see my team play  for the time live and bought tickets for one of the games!  Super excited!  I haven’t been to a baseball game since I was in my early teens.  Should be a great experience with my dad, uncle, cousin, and brother-in-law.  The great thing about baseball games if that they don’t cost an arm and a leg to go.

And that concludes your quick update of my life.

Call to Action: I’m curious to know if anyone has any thoughts on how often I post blog posts.  One every other day was really a challenge to myself to see if I could do it but also provide enough content to gain readers.  I can’t say for sure if this has really gained people interested in reading my content though.  I don’t get much feedback besides from friends and family (am I even doing this right? lol).  Maybe switching it up will help.