Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And so this is Christmas

Christmas Day, 2013. Never thought I'd be writing posts from my cell phone, but this is the age of instant communication, when we don't need a laptop to write down our thoughts. What an amazing time. As much as some people bemoan the way our children are fixated with their mobile devices, I really marvel at the way we can all communicate so easily. We''re visiting Julie's family in Ohio and it has, so far, been a warm and lovely holiday. I'm so blessed to be a part of this family, and to have been loved by them for over 20 years.

I hope that anyone reading this is having wonderful day. I hope that anyone reading this is able to spend time with their own family. I hope that you all are creating new memories that have significance, just like the stories I wrote about in Basement Songs.

God bless and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sorry about that...

Last week was the kind of crazy hell that limits the amount of time I can contribute to the blog. Work was quite busy. Add to that the holiday rush and the general sadness that comes around every December 10th, and you can understand why spilling my guts on the Internet doesn't have its appeal.

I did get some writing done, though. With the whole write a novel in month business behind me, I've decided to focus on completing the script I've been working on for the past four months. I haven't quit the book altogether. Indeed, I've just joined a writing group and I plan to use the group as a motivator to get the book finished. It's just that I want to wrap up this script- at least the first draft - before the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed.

I've been writing more reviews, but trying to take a less clinical approach to them and find a way to personalize the movie experience. It's getting to be less of a challenge writing a film synopsis and throwing in a couple of comments about what I liked about a movie or TV show. I'd much rather talk about why I liked or didn't like something, as if you and I were sitting in my living room, talking over a couple of drinks. If I'm going to keep writing for Popdose, I want it to be my real voice. Again, fingers crossed, my friends.

Speaking of the Dose, my friends Jeff Giles and Jason Hare are midway through their annual Mellowmas countdown, a look at some of the worst Christmas songs of the year. It's a hoot, but not for the faint of heart.

Thanks for stopping by today!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Disturbed Podcast #8

The podcast begins with me freezing my butt off in my garage and the topic of an Ajax enema.  Good times.

Here's the link to the latest Disturbed Podcast.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

In Memory of Seann Flynn

Today, December 5, 2013, marked the second year since the death of my brother-in-law, Seann Flynn. I wish there was something profound I could say on this very sad anniversary, but there's nothing profound about the death of a young man. This beautiful person was in our lives a brief time, but long enough to touch our hearts, change our minds and give us comfort.

I will always be grateful for the long conversations Seann and I had about music, film and sports. I will recall with fondness how he accepted me as a brother, how he always had an open heart for his nieces and nephews, how he loved his family so - especially his mother and father, how he wanted to protect his older sisters, and how he worked so hard to become an enlightened human being.

I can hear his voice right now, his half smirked "Yo." I can envision his outstretched on our living room chair, sleeping while some lame TV sitcom plays in the background. I can see feel his presence in our home and in my heart.

This morning Julie and I drove down to the Santa Monica Pier to see the bench that bears his name in memory of him. It faces the ocean and rests right next to Muscle Beach, one of his favorite hang outs. Julie brought an ornament to hang. It read "Little Angel." Before we left, an older couple asked if they could sit on the bench. We, of course, let them. Julie explained who Seann was and that this was our first time visiting the area. The woman, who spoke with an Eastern European accent, said that she felt that he would be happy that we were there and that he would smile at the sight of the little wooden ornament. "God bless," she said, and we left to drive home.

Oh how I wish I could lift the shadow of grief from the hearts of my loved ones. But how can I lift the shadow when I can't shake it myself?

We miss Seann.  We love you.

We were blessed.

We were blessed.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Make-A-Wish and Adventure Time

As you may know, I work on Adventure Time, the Cartoon Network hit series about a boy named Finn and his best friend, a magical dog named Jake. Adventure Time is one of those rare animated series that has cross generation appeal and works on many levels. It's a silly comedy, a thoughtful look at growing up, and a philosophical contemplation on humanity.

This past spring, a boy asked to visit our production as his "wish" from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The boy's name is Christopher and he wanted to see how we produced the show, meet the show's creator, Pendleton Ward, and most important, he wanted to be a voice on an episode of the show. Christopher knew he could do funny voices and he felt that Adventure Time was the place where he could experience what it's like to be a voice over actor.

Along with his mother and sister, the boy spent the day with us. He got a tour of our offices, met the great staff and learned the entire process we go through to create one 11 minute episode of Adventure Time, had lunch with Pen, got to see two episodes that hadn't aired yet, and was welcomed with open arms by the entire crew. It was awesome.

Then, Christopher went down to the record studio, where he was met by the Adventure Time cast. John DiMaggio and Tom Kenny, two of the stars of the show, were wonderful to Christopher and really made him feel at ease in the record booth. The big moment came and Christopher recorded voices for the show. He was great!

As soon as the editors began assembling the voices for the episode, creating the animatic, our Supervising Producer, Adam Muto, was very clear that he wanted to use one of Christopher's voices. From pre-production through the final edit, Christopher remained a part of the show.

The episode has been completed and tonight it premieres on Cartoon Network! It's entitled "Root Beer Guy" and it airs at 7:00 PM. This episode was written and storyboarded by a talented artist named Graham Falk. Christopher's role is that of the "Gum Drop Guy," and he appears in two scenes.

Making this information known to everyone is very important to me. As a Make-A-Wish parent, I've seen first hand the remarkable work of volunteers and the organizers of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. These people change the lives of sick children and their families. They offer a ray of sunlight and a brief respite from the fear and stress that becomes a part of your daily life when dealing with a serious illness.

The Adventure Time crew are some of the best people I've worked with and the kindness they showed for this young man moved me and should be an example for all to follow.

Tonight, Christopher's wish is complete. He wanted to be a voice on Adventure Time, and now that voice will forever be a part of the Adventure Time legacy. I hope you'll tune in and cheer him on.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Updates: A Close Shave and One Not So Much

It's December 1st and I'm back to give you an update on my two November experiments.

Experiment #1 was to use Dollar Shave Club for a month to see if their razors were better than the cheap Bic disposables I've been using for years.

The answer is "yes." I've been quite pleased with these razors that were delivered right to my mailbox and have been impressed with their durability.  I'm on my last razor of the month (the next shipment is in the mail) and I believe I'll be using the razors from now on.

Experiment #2 was to attempt to write a novel in one month as a participant in National Write A Novel Month. By the website's definition, a novel consists of 50,000 words or more. Man, I was on a roll for the first two weeks and churned our over 12,000 words in two and a half weeks. The new novel is entitled Breathe, and I guess it would be best described as a young adult romantic comedy. I was so confident that I'd be able to get that first draft completed by the end of November.

Alas, those 12,000 words were all I could get out.

A number of distractions took me away from my novel. I did my best to multitask, but the book took the hit. However, I realized that I'm never happier than when I'm writing prose and I'm really dedicated to completing this book. Most likely no one will ever read it, but I need the story to get out. I'm not giving up.

Experiment #3 was tied to #2 and it proved to be a game changer. I decided to use the Livescribe Echo pen, a special computer ballpoint pen that has actually records everything I write in free hand. Then, by hooking the pen to my laptop, the computer uploads my handwritten documents and I can convert them to computer text.

Holy crap, this has blown my mind. The one chore that taxes me the most when I'm writing is transcribing my handwritten pages. Now, that step has been removed. The computer translation isn't perfect and I still have to edit the uploaded text, but I've been saved HOURS of my life.

So there you have it. I may have not completed my book, but the attempt at completing the novel was a good thing for me.

Now, if I could just figure out how to market Basement Songs better, maybe I could sell a few more novels before the holidays.