Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Days

I always enjoyed Memorial Day when I was in high school. The North Olmsted marching band would participate in a morning parade that commemorated the local veterans and featured a ceremony at the city park, located right around the corner from our house. While many of those Monday mornings from my teenage years were spent with bleary eyes, I took special pride in being a part of this parade.

My Boy Scout troop also participated in the parade. Before high school, I marched with the troop, as well. During those years, even though I wanted nothing to do with the armed forces (I'm very anti-war), I still appreciated and respected the men and women who place(ed) themselves in harm's way to protect our country and our freedoms.

I know it sounds corny to write sentiments like this, especially when Facebook was filled with the same kind of statements all day yesterday. But I want to add my voice to the masses. And if it's a day late, that's even better. We shouldn't have just one day to say "thank you" to the veterans who served the United States. Everyday should be Memorial Day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gaslight Anthem concert review

In case you missed it, I posted a review of the Gaslight Anthem/ Matt Mays I concert I attended back in April.  It appeared on Popdose and I don't want to repost it here because I'd rather people return to Popdose for material that is less than a year old.  I love Popdose so much and I want to see it continue to grow.

Anyway, here's a link to the review. I haven't been to many non-Springsteen shows in the past 14 years. This one was exceptional.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

100K and counting

I feel like this was a great Mother’s Day, but I’ll have to let Julie tell you that. Both of the kids sang in church this morning, and afterward Sophie made the family brunch. She’s becoming quite the cook.  She prepared biscuits (a favorite of hers to cook) and scrambled eggs. At her age I could barely make peanut butter and jelly for myself (occasionally with a slice of American cheese in the middle). I’m so impressed with the young lady she is becoming and the confidence she has in herself. Do I fret over her entering high school next year? Hell yes. It’s not her I’m concerned about, it’s the boys. I was a stupid teenage boy at one time. Hopefully the young male population has progressed in the thirty years since I was a freshman in high school. God, I hope so.

We spent most of the day lounging around, watching TV. The temperature outside was 103 degrees! I’ve lived in L.A. nearly twenty years and I can’t recall a May when it was this hot. 103? That’s insanity. We went to an early dinner, which was nice, and returned home for a round of Rock Band. I don’t know what inspired Jacob to pull that game out of the cobwebs in the toy room, but it was a blast jamming with the kids. Someday, perhaps, I really will bring my drums down from the rafters and set them up in the garage. I do miss playing them.

The past couple weeks were hectic. Julie’s parents were visiting for one of them, which meant that Jules and I slept in the living room on an air mattress. Something about not sleeping in my own bed screws with my writing rhythm. However, my writing partner, Jeff, and I completed a new TV spec script, so some good did come from that week. As for last week, it was an odd one. It was a busy one at the office and I found myself lacking energy and motivation when I got home at night.
The week did bring some fantastic news, though.

This week the CF Foundation had their annual Volunteer Appreciation Night in Hollywood. Julie and I rarely go to any of the CF events because they tend to fall on a weeknight and the drive sucks getting to and fro Los Angeles. Once again, we didn't attend this year, but we wish we would have. Team Jacob was recognized for reaching the "Century Club," which means we've raised $100,000 through our fundraising efforts over the years.

Can you believe that?

This is quite an accomplishment for our small little team. That means we've raised around 10K a year since we began our fundraising work. And with 90 cents of every dollar going to research, our money is making a difference!

I checked out the sales of Basement Songs this evening and the book has sold around 80 copies. I wish is was more. But I'm just some nobody. The key is trying to get people to read it and buy it, people who don't already know who I am. The column was never the most popular one on Popdose, but it did have dedicated followers. Would it help to write more Basement Songs columns? I'm not sure if I have any in me. I wish I did.

So if you're reading this now and you haven't bought the book, why is that? What can I do to inspire you to pick up a copy? Yes, there's a certain part of me as a author that really wants to reach that mass audience, but the fundraising aspect is sincere. I'm not making a dime off of this book. 

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. My mind is alive after the latest episode of Game of Thrones (only 3 episodes until the season is done!). I hope that all of you were able to celebrate Mother's Day.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Popdose Rewind: AC/DC, "If You Want Blood (You Got It)"

Today is Free Comic Book Day, which has become a tradition in our house. In honor of getting up early with my son and heading to our favorite local comic store, here is Basement Song post I wrote for Popdose in 2010.
Each year the movie industry tries to push up the start of summer by opening their big event movies earlier in the year.  Used to be that Memorial Day was the weekend that kicked off the season. Now it feels like mid-April is when the studios begin pushing their big blockbusters. Pretty soon it’ll be summer year round and the only way to see small indie films will be through video on demand or Netflix. For me, the summer officially begins the first Saturday of May. Throughout the country that day is Free Comic Book Day at the local comic shops. This Saturday, May 1st, Jacob and I will head on over to Brave New World, the excellent comic store we frequent, getting caught up in the  zaniness the proprietors will serve up that day. Raffles, baked goods, discounts, Stormtroopers and droids, and of course, free comic books.

I’m so happy that my son has become enamored with this art form. It’s one way that the two of us bond separately from his sister and mother. I once took Sophie to Free Comic Book Day. She was patient, God bless her, but after about twenty minutes she began eyeing the front door, hoping to exit. Jacob is a lot like me; he likes to browse. He takes his time examining as many of the comics as he possible before determining just which one to buy. This was my method perusing the aisles of record stores twenty-five years ago. To this day, on those rare occasions when I’m in Hollywood and visit the massive Amoeba Records, I can spend a good hour looking at everything before finally heading to the bin with the album I originally planned to buy. I suppose I’m not that different than any other collector.

Perhaps someday Jacob will want to visit Amoeba, one of the last independent record stores. If his love for music becomes an obsession like his love for super heroes, soon enough we’ll be marking Record Store Day on our calendar each year, too.

Music, of course, is another area where the two of us have a special bond. Although Jake is well rounded and likes all genres, he seems to lean toward the harder edged music when it’s just the two of us, knowing he can crank up the volume. It’s not hard to imagine the day when Jake is a teenager speeding up the driveway singing at the top of his lungs and beating the steering wheel in time with the drums, while the car vibrates from the bass of some hard rocking band,.
That’s one aspect of summer I look forward to year round: cruising in my car around the neighborhood, through the city streets or down the highway with the music loud, the wind pounding on my face and not a care in the world. This universal feeling of freedom goes back to my adolescence, to the days of the Whomobile. It was a time when my friends and I would motor through the Cleveland Metroparks, the Valley, with no particular place to go, just enjoying the camaraderie, the sunny days, and the girls out tanning or playing Frisbee.
And the music.

Tom Petty, the Who, Zeppelin, the Georgia Satellites, Van Halen, the Outfield, Peter Gabriel, Springsteen and Rush. The music made the moment; the people made the memories.
Each summer there were always one or two songs that defined the year. One year it was “Don’t Come Around Here No More;” another year it was the one two punch of “Heartbreaker”/”Living Loving Maid” These summer songs weren’t sought; they leapt at you and sank their deep hooks into your heart. At that time radio played an important role in introducing me to great music. Now I rely on my iPod and the cornucopia of albums my friends have recommended and sent to me. Thank God for my iPod. I never would’ve given AC/DC a chance past their hit songs; I never would have heard “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” from their 1979 album, Highway to Hell.

Angus and Malcolm Young are in sync, creating another one of their killer guitar riffs, with Angus going off on two solos. The rhythm section of bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd keep the number chugging along with the power of a locomotive. Bon Scott’s gravely voice drips with the appropriate mix of anger and disgust. Mutt Lange’s production stays out of the way, letting AC/DC’s meat and potatoes approach to rock ‘n roll keep the song genuine, capturing the band in their prime. Simply put, this song f’n ROCKS!

As the weekend approaches my anticipation grows. I can’t wait to spend the morning with Jake, shopping for comics and witnessing fanboy mania up close; I can’t wait for our customary lunch at Wendy’s when we’ll pour over the stash we picked up; and I can’t wait to introduce him to one kick ass AC/DC song, driving around with the windows down, the wind blowing our hair and our fists raised high as we welcome in the summer.

originally published April 29, 2010 on POPDOSE

Friday, May 3, 2013

Great Strides success

Last week was stressful, as the build up to Great Strides always is for me. The pressure of trying to make that fundraising goal, along with the preparations and the anticipation of friends and family coming together to find a cure for cystic fibrosis can become overwhelming.

There were numerous times when I felt the spark to write. Each time this spark occurred something would come up. This is one week when I don't beat myself up over not being diligent about writing. This is one week when the only thing that matters is Great Strides.

The walk was a great success. Our Valencia Great Strides had over 400 people in attendance and together we raised over $67,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Team Jacob raised close to $7000 and our family surpassed our goal of $5000! The walk day is always emotional for the families. You are quickly reminded at how large your support group is and how many people care about your family and your child.

I always appreciate that my parents drive in from Tucson to join the team; they do this each year in support of Jacob and the family. This year was also special because Julie's parents joined us, having flown in from Ohio Saturday morning. The weather was nice, although a little hot towards the end. I'm always concerned about Jacob during the walk because I know that the reminders of the seriousness of his illness make him sad. They make me sad, too.

Great Strides is never a truly sad day for me. It's emotional, yes, and there were many moments when I was resisting tears (my friends Giles and Wardlaw will have a field day when they read this). But it's really a day of celebration, a day to recognize the CF community and all of the wonderful work being done to find a cure, and a day to make us appreciate that we aren't alone.

I know many CF kids and adults they can feel very alone, as they aren't supposed to have any human contact with each other. This is particularly true for Jacob. He doesn't think we understand how much it sucks to be a boy with CF. Someday he may develop a friendship with a CF person through Skype or video chat. I'm sure this would help him realize that he is not alone.

Of course, with Great Strides we realize that we're never alone. I feel blessed each year when the donations and letters of encouragement pour in.

I know I have to send personal "thank yous" to everyone who donated, but I hpe that you all realize how important you are to our family, and to me.

Thank you!

PS- If you still want to donate, there's still time: