Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Yesterday I began the process of submitting the book for review considerations. Much like querying agents to read the novel I completed a year ago, I can only hope that the introduction letter I've written provides enough to draw interest and request a book. It's a nerve wracking procedure, although after you've sent out a couple and received your first rejection response (which I did yesterday) it gets a little easier.

Monday was a very difficult, with Jacob's health causing me concern all day long. He had to come home from school, complaining of tightness in the chest. We believe it has to do with one of his new medicines, so we have stopped it until the weekend so that if it is the medicine it doesn't cause him to miss more school.

Ever since Jacob was born I've struggled with being the one at work while Julie makes herself readily available to get the kids from school and take them to the doctor. Especially when it comes to my son, I feel so inadequate at times, which is how I felt all day Monday. As I rode home in the pitch black night, the moon sat low in the sky and I could feel it tugging at my heart. I was so discouraged Monday night, ready to throw in the towel on all of my artistic aspirations.

This is the tortuous process that writers and other artists go through. We work so hard on our craft and hope that someone will discover it and like it. But there are days, days when you want to give up, days when it doesn't feel worth the emotional exhaustion. Those are the days I turn in to bed early and sleep off the shit. Usually I wake up the next morning with fresh eyes and a stronger heart. I hate having these feelings of doubt and letting my nerves get the best of me. Hate it.

Today I read an interview with Dave Grohl, the leader of Foo Fighters and the former drummer of Nirvana. Grohl has just released a documentary he directed about a recording studio in the San Fernando Valley that was the birthplace of some of the greatest albums ever recorded, including Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Nevermind by Nirvana. Grohl went around to many of the great artists who recorded there, including Petty. In the interview, Grohl remarked that he was apprehensive about approaching Petty. But he found the courage to call the man anyway.

"I've finally realized that in those moments you have to let go of that bullshit and say, 'I can't ruin this moment by being scared or by being nervous, or by being insecure or thinking that I'm not going to be able to do it. It'll be much more rewarding if I actually just do it.' I would be terrified to ask Tom Petty to be in my movie, but God, I'd be an idiot not to, and when I finally did he said, 'Well, you can't have a movie about Sound City without me in it, now can you?'"

(Read more:

When I read something like that, it encourages me. Even renowned musicians struggle within themselves. I'm not so alone. I'm not so alone.

The other day I inquired whether I should transfer all of my old blog posts to this new one. A couple of my friends suggested that this book blog should be used as a means for readers to interact with me and discuss the book, while one of my old blogs be used for my soul searching. I thought that was a great idea. However, in many ways this blog continues the conversation I started in the book. This blog and the book are about my life and I don't think I can continue to make entries if I don't continue to open up like I do. If anything, I hope that people who are coming to the blog out of interest in the book will read these entries and like the sound of my voice.

And the truth of the matter is I just don't have the time or energy to keep multiple blogs while I keep writing for Popdose, working on scripts, hopefully starting another book and put in 40 + hours on the job.

So my friends, if you're new, I hope you'll indulge my long winded entries. And if you're a returning friend, I hope you'll pass the word about Basement Songs.

Here's one of my favorite Foo Fighters songs, and one of Jake's, too. If there is one person who teaches me courage on a daily basis, it's my son.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Something Else reviews BASEMENT SONGS

A really nice review of Basement Songs has just been posted on Something Else, a great music blog. Here is the link:

Check it out!

Love Will Find a Way

All of the research that went into writing the book (i.e. digging through my old blogs to locate the original Basement Songs posts so I could begin adapting) lead me to a couple of discoveries.

1. I've created five different blogs in the past eight years. Including the Basement Songs site, there was one dedicated to updating people about my marathon training; one created for one of our CF walks, a third one dedicated to King's Highway, and finally there was thunderbolt, which was my last blog before I started writing for Popdose.

2. I can import all of the old blog entries to a new blog. For instance, I just imported all of my entries from If I Should Fall Behind, my CF marathon blog, into thunderbolt.

My question to you all is: Would it be worth it to anyone out there to have access to my old entries? Some of them date back to 2003, which is amazing when you think about it. I can't believe that I've been pouring my heart out on the Internet for so long.

A part of me would like everything to be in one place. However, another part likes the idea of everything starting fresh after the book was released.

If anyone reads this and has an opinion, let me know!

In the meantime, here is some Yes to start off your weekend. Jacob was so excited to record and watch Batman and Robin, the dreadful George Clooney starring comic book film from the late 90s.  It is, in my opinion, one of the worst films ever made. To block out the one liners and gaudy imagery, I started listening to Yes music from the 1980s, in particular the Big Generator album. Not sure that was much better.

One track from that LP still has a way of getting to me. "Love Will Find a Way" was released during the fall of my senior year of high school, which was a tumultuous time for me. It continues to amaze me that the melody of this song and the harmonies of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire can still move me and make me recall that period of my life. It's not that I'm being nostalgic or want to relive those years, believe me I don't; it's something chemical in my brain that just reacts to that track. I'm sure we all have those songs in the vaults in our head.

And I'm sure that the past two days, which have been sad and difficult for me, played a part of this song getting a rise out me. Jake had a couple of tough days and all I want to do is wrap my arms around him and keep him safe. The best I can do is offer my love. It will find a way to make things better. Like how I tied this all together? Clever, huh?

Anyway, let me know what you think about importing the old posts. I can't promise that they're any good.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Riding my bike home from the train station tonight, I listened to ELO's Greatest Hits, the 1978 compilation from Electric Light Orchestra. Together with a Sha Na Na live album that I bought with spare change from the Record Theater store in the Great Northern strip (natives of North Olmsted know what I'm talking about), ELO's Greatest Hits was my first "rock" album.

In '78 the band was at their peak, and this album doesn't have a bad track on it. "Mr. Blue Sky" has been used regularly in commercials and films, as have "Livin Thing" (in Boogie Nights) and "Showdown" (appearing in that classic comedy, Kingpin). My favorite track is "Turn to Stone," which has a driving beat and a great mix of vocals and strings. It doesn't get as much airplay as the other songs from ELO's catalog.

One of my best friends during the late 70s was a boy named Pat L. He was one of the coolest kids in the school and was influential in my wanting ELO's Greatest Hits. At that time I really only knew "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Telephone Line," the 45 of which my brother owned- it was pressed on GREEN vinyl- but because Pat owned a copy and said it was cool, I wanted it, too. Pat and I had a falling out in fifth grade and were never best friends again. We were friendly, but it wasn't the same. Still, whenever I hear these ELO songs, I can't help but think of him.

ELO had many more hits in the late 70s and 80s. We all remember "Don't Bring Me Down," right? However, the eleven songs on this album are the ones that mean the most to me, and not just because of that friendship from long ago. As I've stated on numerous occasions, I didn't own many records in my formative years. It wasn't until 8th and 9th grade that I truly became a collector. So the early albums I had were my most beloved possessions, besides the few comic books and Mad Magazines I owned.

Jeff Lynne, the mastermind behind ELO, went on to become a renowned producer, working with the likes of George Harrison, Tom Petty, Dave Edmunds and the Beatles. He was also a member of the Traveling Wilburys. His sound is very distinct, with the snare drum on all of his songs sounding like a pillow on top of a trash can. I hate that sound, but man he knows how to create a great pop record. And the songs on ELO's Greatest Hits sound near perfect.

What about some of you? What was your first rock album? Do you go back and relisten to it on occasion? Or is it better left in the past?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter blues

After an incredible weekend in which I cleared out the equivalent of two small trees in our backyard and the four of us put together a trampoline, today I found myself in a funk. Perhaps it was too much coffee and the crash that came from all that caffeine, but I questioned who I am as a writer and my motives for putting the pen to page. I questioned my talent and whether I still had it in me to pursue this craft.

We came to California so that I could become a screenwriter and director. I wanted so badly to just tell stories. I didn't care about acclaim and fame, in my head I saw everything with a wide scope lens, a John Williams score behind it, and Thelma Schoonmaker's editing. That's why I went to film school, to learn how to take what was in my head and make it something tangible for other people to see.

But something changed. At some point I started to think, "Awards and acclaim would be cool." I started to believe that I was just as good as any of my contemporaries making movies. Everything I wrote had some hidden incentive. "This will be the one that makes me a household name, or at least a name that gets meetings."  I lost touch with that kid, the one who just wanted to tell stories.

I look at Sophie and Jacob and I see them being so creative for the sheer joy of it. They don't feel pressure to be a success; it's just because it makes them feel good. I want that feeling again. Unfortunately, everything I do feels like it has a hidden agenda.

Okay, okay, I hear you. This isn't the type of shit you're supposed to write about when you want people to read your book. But if I'm going to use this blog as an open line to anyone who is a fan of Basement Songs in all its forms, then I'm going to just put myself out there. I don't want my book to just be about sales, I really want people to enjoy it and get something from it. Basement Songs was done for the pure joy of writing. That's what I plan to use this blog for. Otherwise, you all are going to get sick of reading about the how many copies have been sold.

Perhaps the funk came today because the hard work is about to begin. Writing letters soliciting critics to review the book is daunting. I have an intense fear of rejection. Coincidentally, the sermon at church this week was about fearlessness and how to overcome our fears. I am often reminded that the worst than can happen is someone can say "no." I don't want to go through the rest of my life like I did my early twenties, when picking up a telephone to make a phone call to even a store asking for directions brought on sweaty palms and a shaky voice.

I suppose we all have days like today, when the world suddenly goes blank and all that we've accomplished seems pointless. Luckily I came home to the loving arms of Julie, Sophie and Jacob. Sitting on the couch watching Adventure Time with Jake, laughing at Suburgatory with Soph, and snuggled into be with Julie certainly made forget about that funk. Tomorrow's a new day and by all signs, it will be a bright one. Let's hope so.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Seann

Someone from the series Bunheads must have seen Moonrise Kingdom last summer because this gorgeous song, "Cuckoo," written by Benjamin Britten for his work, Friday Afternoons, children's songs for children's chorus and piano, Op. 7,was featured in this week's episode. I'd forgotten about it, as it's been months seen I saw Wes Anderson's wonderful movie. Hearing it again tonight has me in tears.  I'm worried about Jake, not that his health is an issue, I'm just worried is all. And it being my brother-in-law's birthday (he would have been 31), I'm a little on edge already. Anyway, this short melody is just too beautiful not to be shared. The "cuckoo's" really do me in.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter days

It's cold out this morning. Coooooold. I know that my east coast friends will tell me, "Malchus, you don't know cold, you thin skinned west coast baby!" But I'll tell you, a) I DO know cold, thank you very much, and b) it was frickin' ice cold when I rode my bike to the train station. Literally. I was riding across ice patches.

Alright, I'll stop my moaning. But I do feel new aches when I climb on my Specialized Crossroads 18 speeder each day. Is it age? Seems like I've had the same pains in my hips, knees and shoulders for months now. I recall the days when I could shake 'em off and plow through my waking hours. Not so much anymore.

It makes me wonder if my parents experienced the same thing in their 40s. I was in my teens, my formative years, when Mom & Dad lived through their 40s. I don't remember them having any issues. Maybe I was too self absorbed to notice, or maybe they just hid it well so as not to worry their kids. I bet it was a little of both.

I do know one thing, I've come to appreciate Tylenol PM. My sleeping habits are sporadic and I don't always climb into bed the most relaxed man. After a night with Ty PM, I don't feel quite so pained in the morning. That helps on days like today... when it's so damn cold outside.

I'll stop now because I realize that I'm being infantile. I've seen real pain first hand, people with debilitating arthritis who fight through their agony and carry on a 40 hour work week. I can endure some minor creaks in my bones. And I can endure the cold chill that comes with a two mile bike ride to the train station.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So this is the New Year

We've been home nearly a week and I just now feel as if I'm getting back into my groove. When I get even an extra day off from work it usually takes me a couple to get my head straight. So you can imagine why it's taken so long to return to"normal," so to speak.

BASEMENT SONGS has been available for a month and it's sold over 50 copies. I'm very happy with that number. Considering that my marketing for the book has been minimal, I think it's a nice figure. While some kind people have bought multiple copies, that doesn't account for most of the sales. To all of you who have picked up the book, Thank you!

So what's next?

Now the hard work begins. I'll begin submitting BASEMENT SONGS to various websites for review consideration, as the year progresses. Additionally, I hope to enter it into some contests that judge self-published works of non-fiction. This will take some time, as they'll require money to pay for additional copies of the book. But I will be diligent.

This whole part of publishing is actually scarier for me than the writing. Placing the book into hands of critics, people who can use their words to help or knock down the book, makes my stomach turn. The anticipation of wanting your work to be appreciated is one of those topics most "artists" don't talk about because they want to be, well, artists and not worry about critics. But come on, when you pour your heart and soul into a project you hope that everyone loves it.

At least, that's how it's always been for me.

While I put my nose to the grindstone (a phrase frequently used during my childhood), I hope that those of you who bought BASEMENT SONGS will help spread the word, either by recommending it to people, reviewing it on Amazon or Goodreads, or just passing links to this site and the Facebook page to someone you think might be interested in it.

This whole project is a grassroots effort. And I guarantee that ALL earnings from the sale of the book will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

I have other ideas that I will share soon. And if anyone reading this wants to offer input about ways to help spread the news about BASEMENT SONGS I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sophie

Today is my daughter's birthday. She has turned 14. I can't believe how fast time is speeding by and how quickly she is growing up. I won't embarrass her with a photo from her childhood or some story about the silly things she's done. I'm lucky enough that she was cool with me using her name in the book. Instead, I'll just publicly state, once again, how proud I am of her and how much I love her.

Julie and I have been blessed with a wonderful, thoughtful daughter whose enormous empathy outshines most of the teenagers I've met, and Jacob has to consider himself one of the luckiest brother's alive.

Happy Birthday, Sophie.

Okay, I'll embarrass her just a little by playing this Bryan Adams song that I happen to like a lot. It's the one I consider to be her song.  Wait, maybe this embarrasses me more than her.