Dec 21, 2010

Guest Post: Cookie cutters for Christmas

Guest post written by Holly Nielson

I'm by far the least domestic of all my friends, as in I'm not that great at cooking. But, one thing that I'm really good at is baking. When I was browsing for some more cooking supplies a couple of weeks ago, I got a really great idea for something to give them all for Christmas. I had been putting off buying them gifts for a while so I thought that would be perfect.

I went online to try and find some cookie cutters for them. I thought that it would be a really cute gift to wrap up a set of nice cookie cutters into a gift basket and tie it up with a ribbon. While I was doing that I came across the website and after that I decided to change over my internet access to that company.

I found a really great clearance on cookie cutters of all kinds of shapes and sizes. So I bought a whole bunch of the cookie cutters and got some really cheap gift baskets to put them all in. I think my friends are going to love my gifts.

Dec 4, 2010

Guest Post: Best Christmas lights display in the neighborhood

Guest post written by George Marshall

We probably put way too much thought into our Christmas lights display at our house every year, but it's one of our little hobbies. As soon as the kids start back at school in the fall, I start getting ideas online and trying to figure out new ways to rig up our lights so that they're look even better and be the best in the neighborhood.

I was online with our clear tv bundle a few weeks ago and found all kinds of great ideas to use! While I was at it, I also ordered a new ladder that would make hanging up lights on our roof and in our trees a bit easier.

I just finished all the finishing touches on our lights display during Thanksgiving weekend, although I started putting up some of it weeks before that. I like to take my time putting up everything so that it will all look perfect and itÕs easier to figure out how to plug everything up, to make sure that everything is electrically safe.

Dec 2, 2010

Guest Post: Michael J. Fox

Thanks for the post from Hal Potter

One the most interesting television actors was Michael J Fox. Most people have Michael J. Fox as a favorite television actor from his role in the show Family Ties. In this role, he played a role as the middle child having two sisters. His character was intriguing as a favorite television actor because it was the only character role on television that portrayed a liking to Wall Street. The show then disappeared from network television only to reemerge when everyone began watching their favorite actor on Direct Star TV.

As a favorite television actor, Michael J. Fox popularity increased due to his unbelievable fight with Parkinson's disease. His career as an actor had then changed. Everyone's favorite television actor became a compassionate, and desperate individual. Although his career as a favorite television actor was not destroyed, it was forever embraced by those fighting Parkinson's disease now. Our favorite television actor demonstrated that Hollywood is not void of terminal illnesses.

As his career moves on, Michael J. Fox will always be cherished as one of Americas favorite television actors. A little unknown fact by most Americans that Michael J. Fox's middle initial is really A[ndrews]. The change in the initials by our favorite television actor was due to the sounding: Michael A. Fox. The change was then made to Michael J. Fox.

Nov 27, 2010

Guest Post: Go Pirates!

Guest post of the week by Ferdinand Livingston

The Portland Pirates are an amazing hockey team and will forever be the best in my mind! Paul Bvron can tear up the ice like no other man can, he is absolutely stunning. Since I can never make it to an actual game, I watch them on the local channel on my satellite tv. I love the way they work so well together as a team and get the crowd to go wild. Even while sitting on the couch, I will find myself standing up and cheering, or screaming when Enroth messes up a play. My husband promised me that one of these months he will take me to a live game. I have always wanted to go but I either have to work or watch the children. It never works out. Since our anniversary is coming up, I think I am going to ask him to take me to dinner and a game! If he is still like the man I met years ago, he will do it. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best. The best gift that is!

Nov 19, 2010

Guest Post: Norwegian Black Metal Unveiled

The article written by Guy Barnes

Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind relays the story of how Norwegian black metal, and black metal in general, came to be. The story begins by describing all the early attempts to record a more satanic sound on an album. Bands like Witchcraft Coven and Black Widow dabbled with satanic imagery and lyrics on their albums, but it never went any further than that. Venom then came onto the scene and released their landmark album Black Metal. From there, bands came out of the woodwork boasting about satanic allegiances. Soon, the craze emerged in Norway. However, the youth of Norway would take their allegiances to much further levels, levels that would end in church arsons, bloodshed, and murder.

The book is essentially the biography of a movement. It features interviews with some of the major players in the Norwegian black metal scene. The book also throws around theories as to why fascism, Nazism, racism, and paganism would end up being such prevalent aspects of the Norwegian black metal scene. All in all, Lords of Chaos is a well researched and well-written account of the early history of black metal. A movie based on the book is in production, and I hope I can see it on satellite television that I got after researching Dish tv vs DIRECTV , my other favorite pastime.

Nov 18, 2010

Guest Post: The Stand Is My Favorite Book

Posted by Ambrose Mills

The best book I have ever read is The Stand by Stephen King. This book is one I was not able to put down and that was a problem, because it is a very long book. The country is infected with a nasty virus that kills the majority of the population.

A small percentage is immune to the virus and they cross the country to come together. Some of the people dream about an old woman named Abigail Freemantle that directs them to Boulder, Co. They set up a community where everyone is free and they work together to survive. Others dream about a bad guy named Randall Flagg and this group comes together in Las Vegas, NV. Those that are controlled by Randall Flagg are looking to dominate those in Boulder and he has set Trashcan man, an arsonist to look for weapons in the desert to destroy the good people in Boulder.

Trashcan man locates an atomic bomb that is activated by what appears to be the hand of god, killing everyone including a few good people from Boulder and that is the end of the evil Randall Flagg. Reading this book really made me consider good and evil.

When I'm not reading I watch Directv programming. Many of Stephen King's books have been turned into movies and they are all pretty good.

Nov 15, 2010

The Necessity of Music In The Car

I know there was a time when cars were simple. An engine, wheels, seats and a steering wheel used to be all that was needed. Maybe if you wanted the Model T tricked out edition you'd get a couple of windows thrown in. Nowadays, you get everything from GPS and 10 cup holders to seat warmers and auto parallel parking. Cars today are nothing short of homes on wheels. But setting all that crazy new technology aside, one thing that is now an absolute necessity in cars today are car audio receivers, or in layman's terms, the brains of the car stereo.

Really, where would we be today without music in the car? Traffic would be even more agony than it already is. Long road trips would be minus a soundtrack. Behind-the-wheel singers wouldn't even exist. You know those people. Kind of like the ones that pick their nose thinking that no one can see them as they drive down the road knuckle deep in the left nostril but instead, they are belting out every word to "If You Wanna Be My Lover" by the Spice Girls as if they were Posh Spice on speed. (Guilty.)

I know people listen to radio outside of their box on wheels, but radio as we know it would go the way of the VHS or Furby if not for people listening as they drive home from work or on their way to the grocery store. No more request lines, and free prizes for being the 9th caller. No more catchy radio jingles that get stuck in your head all day and no talk radio with outrageous political rants that offend and entice. Without that car stereo, I probably wouldn't find much use for CDs anymore. I wouldn't have that pleasure of driving home from the the local music store and blasting my new purchase with the windows down and the pedal to the floor.

Even though it only takes the simplest of car audio receivers to listen to the necessity that is radio in the car, it's hard not to drool over the new technology that's out there. It is the generation of in-the-dash everything isn't it? Especially when it's getting close to the holidays I can't help but browse sites like which has an endless catalog of car tricking bliss with that all that crazy technology I can't come close to understanding. I even tend to wander from car stereos to iPods and even voice recorders. (I've always wanted something like that to keep by my bed or in my car's glove box so I don't miss those moments of songwriting inspiration.) 

Overall, without music in the car, I feel like driving would be a chore. And the day driving becomes an absolute pain in the butt while stuck in silence, letting the boredom build and the road rage to boil over, is the day I cut my license in half and start taking the bus. No joke.

Nov 11, 2010

Guest Post: The Hockey Season

Author: Jonathan Suarez

Hockey fans have a lot to look forward to during the regular season and playoffs. The start of the year has become exciting not only because it is the start of a new season, it is now exciting for many fans to watch their favorite teams spend a week or two in Europe. While in Europe, teams compete against local teams as part of their preseason training, and then face opposing NHL teams to kick off the start of the season celebrations in Europe. These games, both local and NHL games have become popular in Europe as many people do not get the chance to see many NHL hockey teams live.

The season takes a break through the middle of the season for the All Star break. This allows the best players in the NHL to play against one another in a friendly game. The day before the game is the Skills Competition where players compete in a variety of events ranging from fastest skater, hardest shot, most accurate shooter, and recently: most creative break away.

The season begins to wind down when the playoff's begin. Other than playoff hockey, the playoffs are some of the most exciting hockey games a fan can watch all year. Last year the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on an unbelievable goal by Patrick Kane. Watching hockey in High Definition on satellite tv is a great way for hockey fans to stay up to date on the season.

Nov 7, 2010

Guest Post: Breaking Into a New Writing Genre

Guest post written by Shannon Piper

I've been a journalist since I was in high school when I was an editor for the school newspaper. I continued writing in college when I started writing for the student paper and even though I work in the corporate world now, I still write an occasional piece as a freelance journalist for a web site or newspaper here or there. But I really want to start writing fiction more.

I got a few of my fiction pieces published in my college's literary magazine. I was thinking about that the other day and actually found the link on the magazine's website when I ran across some info about DIRECTV internet bundle prices and showed it to my roommates. I think I may switch our internet over to it once I get some more details.

What I'm really excited about doing is breaking into horror writing though because that's the thing that I love reading the most. I also think that it's probably the most challenging thing to write, so that's another reason why I'm drawn to it.

Nov 6, 2010

Guest Post: Nothing Like a Scary Book

Guest post written by Walter Greene

I'm not sure how horror writers come up with all the crazy things that they write in their books, but I'm kind of in awe of it. I just wish that I could come up with half of the stuff that they create. I realize some of the stuff they write about is inspired by real life things, but I'm still amazed.

I like to read reviews and blogs about new horror books that are coming out with my Direct TV Internet. That keeps me pretty busy, especially now with all the vampire books that are popular now. Although most of those are aimed at the romantic preteen crowd and I just prefer the scary stuff.

One of my friends made a joke the other day that I never read anything that isn't a scary book. I told him that that was probably true, but I have read other books before. I am a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, so every now and then I'll reread The Great Gatsby.

Nov 5, 2010

Never Going "Away"

As much as I'm trying to work on new tunes (quite unsuccessfully I might add), I can't help but turn back the clock and get hooked on some of my old tunes. I guess I get a little sucked in by the feeling of accomplishment that I felt back then when I was satisfied with what I was doing at the time. Every once in a while I just sit here and listen to nothing but my "FryeTunes" playlist.

It feels a little weird in some ways. I'm not sure why. But overall it's just nice to sit back and think about what I've created. On a good day it motivates me to work harder thinking, "If I could do that then, why not something even better now?"

You know one of the best things about music? Once it's there, it's never gone. You can't uncreate something. You can change it, you can try to forget about it, you can even delete the files off your computer. But it will always be there in the back of your head somewhere just waiting to come out again.

Personally, whether I like some of my songs or not, I like to keep them around to show where I've been, feel good about where I am now and strive to kick so much more musical ass in the future.

The song below is an old one that tends to get stuck in my head. Not in a bad, Katy Perry kinda way either. Getting a band together and revamping this one would be a treat. If only I could get the hang of playing it and singing it at the same time. As old as it is in my book (we're talking almost 6 years now), I've never played it live and I still can't quite get the vocals and the rhythm to match up without tweaking myself out. The fingers do what they want sometimes.

Guest Post: Special Showings At The Movie Theater

My theater here in town has some great events throughout the year that draw a pretty good crowd. About once every month they will hold some sort of throwback movie marathon night. One of the best events that they had was a throwback to the popular 1980s teen movies. They did a marathon where they showed "The Goonies", "Pretty in Pink", and "The Breakfast Club." It was so much fun seeing movies that I loved as a teen on the big screen again!

The really neat thing about it was that I got to bring my daughter who shockingly had never even heard of those movies! She turned her nose up to the idea at first but ended up having a great time. Another favorite event that stands out in my mind was when my theater hosted a tribute to the Beatles. They had an entire night of showings including rare music videos and some live performances by great Beatles cover bands. Tonight they are doing a midnight viewing of the original "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies. I plan on setting my home security alarm (check it out) for peace of mind since I'll be gone all night and getting there early to get a front row seat! My daughter is coming along tonight too, I can't wait to see her reaction to the movies!

Nov 3, 2010

A Career In Music Production?

Ever since I started playing guitar, joined a band, and made music an everyday passion that I can't live without, I've thought about what it would be like to make music my career. Who doesn't think about turning their love into something that could make them money and become their livelihood? It's almost like living in a dream world to imagine a life in music production, whether it be writing songs, performing them, dabbling in video production, or even in the broad scope of things, taking a try at voice acting. (I'd say that would be kind of a stretch for me but it still sounds interesting.)

All those thoughts multiply after I stumble on sites like that of production company Studio Center. Their services cover everything from audio production, video production, and voice over work to jingle writing. Basically everything you would need to make your company stand out in the world of broadcast advertising. Really, the whole idea behind Studio Center's business falls pretty close to what I spent 4 years of my life learning about; marketing.

I attended college for business and a lot of the curriculum focused on advertising and overall marketing of everyday businesses. We even had the opportunity to take a stab at tv commercial production in the process of creating a product's complete advertising campaign. Around the same time I was truly discovering how important music was to me and I wrote a song about the issue of price-fixing in the airline industry which I performed in front of class in a crazy get up. I even wrote a jingle for my parents' business. (With moderate success.)

It is nice to think about working for a company like Studio Center, turning music into money for not only myself but other people, and actually using some of that knowledge I gained from college that I currently seem to be wasting printing t-shirts and being super uncreative. Not that it couldn't be possible someday, but unfortunately, the important thing now is making the dough. Writing jingles and making music videos can be a creative way to pass the time and keep my brain working but for now I'll leave the media production to the pros.

Rock on!

Oct 29, 2010

Guest Post: Kenan and Kel

Thanks for the post, Nora Howe

On Nickelodeon back in the 1990s, they had a lot of awesome shows. One of them was called All That! which was a lot like Saturday Night Live. On this show there were two cast members who really stood out from the rest: Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell.

Kenan and Kel had their own skits but they also had a lot of sketches that they did together. Because of this, they gained a reputation and popularity as a team. They eventually got their own show called "Kenan and Kel" which proved to be a hit right off the bat. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid and I still watch Kenan and Kel on satellite TV from even though I am in my twenties.
This show was hilarious even though it had a cliche sitcom setup. Kenan was the level-headed one, to an extent, and Kel was a crazy character who was always messing things up. He was an excellent actor and played his part perfectly. One of Kel's catch phrases was "I do, I do, I do, I do-ooo" in response to Kenan's query "Who loves Orange Soda?". Kel was clearly a sucker for Orange Soda and it was something that viewers looked forward to seeing and hearing every episode. All in all, Kenan and Kel was a really funny television show.

Oct 28, 2010

Guest Post: Love Watching Baseball at Home

Guest written by our friend Donnie Donovan

I like baseball but I prefer to watch Major League Baseball on Satellite TV from When I go to the games to watch my Baltimore Orioles play I end up paying a lot of money. The tickets, the food, the beer and even the parking add up to a considerable sum of money. It just is not worth it to me.

I use to go the sports bar to watch games with my friends but that is not my style. The bars are filled with loud people and many of them are not even baseball fans. The beer and food can add up rapidly in cost and there is always some sort of dram or fight that occurs. When I watch from home my wife makes nachos and I can switch channels to get updates on other teams if I choose too.

Watching at home is a lot more relaxing and I also get to save a lot of money. The Baltimore Orioles stunk this year. The Orioles did not even come close to a pennant and they finished with an awful record for the season. My Orioles sucked this year but I have hope that next year will be better. We know it cannot get any worse for the Orioles so I have faith that they will do much better next year and hopefully even make the playoffs.

Oct 23, 2010

The Gig

As excited (and nervous) and I was about it, I totally forgot to write about the gig in Topeka! (See "Finally Gigging It Up".)

It had been at least 4 years since I stepped on a stage to perform in front of people. Probably about 6 years by myself as I usually had a band behind me. But overall, once the rustiness wore off, as well as being able to look out and see my friends in front of me with the mixture of bar goers, I think it went pretty well.

The start was the worst. I got there super early and ended up being set up and ready to go 20 minutes before my scheduled to start time. I got all tuned up and let the anxiousness burrow into me. When I finally sat down, I checked my tuning on my shiny new tuner and I just started to play the first song in my 40 minute set list.

It felt wrong from the get go and I didn't start singing like I was supposed to but I kept playing. When I picked up the vocal the next time around the riff, it felt very weird. It was then that I realized I was in the wrong tuning. I play in E flat and Dropped D flat. I was supposed to be in D yet I was in E. I had no choice but to stop and do one of the most embarrassing things you can do on stage. Admit that you messed up, re-tune, and start over. 

One thing that's nice being a musician and writing your own tunes is that most people can't tell when you mess something up. You're the musician, you can play your own song, or even a cover for that matter, however you want. Back in the band days I would just keep going, forget about the mistake and it would usually just go unnoticed by the crowd. But in this situation, it was close to impossible to cover and I had to take the hit.

Setting aside the minor embarrassment, I started up again and the rest of the set went how I had practiced for the previous month. Aside from ending about 20 minutes early from my scheduled time, I was pretty satisfied with my performance. As always, it was just getting up there that was the mountain to climb, getting down was the smooth ride. I look forward to doing the whole thing again sooner than later, minus the tuning mishap of course, and maybe with someone else to jam with me. Hopefully I'll have a nice shiny new guitar to go with my nice shiny new tuner by then so I don't have to borrow.

Rock on!

Oct 22, 2010

Guest Post: The Beast with a Billion Backs - My Favorite Animated Movie to Watch on Satellite TV

I appreciate the guest post, Ignacio Phillips

Futurama is not only an excellent animated show, it is a transcendent piece of fiction. When I watched the last of the four straight to video movies, The Beast with a Billion Backs, I was startled to find the many layers and metaphors used in making this wonderful art piece. It begins with an ode to Japanese tentacle pornography, with a giant beast that sucks on your back for sustenance, all while providing you with unearthly pleasures. Truly in this sense the back is a metaphor for the nether regions, and the beast deliberately hideous as a statement to all forms of patriarchal depictions of sex.

Society in general tends to place the beautiful with the beastly, as if the act of coitus itself were a violent beating, the meeting of predator and prey. I believe Futurama sets out to spoof this juxtaposition, and do so in a heartwarming tale of love and romance. They also perhaps wanted to tie a bow on this last movie, as the uncertainty of whether the cast would return for a new season hung over the drawing board like the sword of Damocles. Nevertheless, this distraction does not take away from the lesson of lust and evolution that we see present in every mating ritual shown on the show. This is why it is my favorite animated movie of all time, seen only on Comedy Central on Direc4U Iowa.

Oct 18, 2010

Guest Post: Family Guy - My Favorite Fall TV Show Premier

Written by my friend Ian Cruz

My favorite fall TV premier had to be Family Guy, for the sole reason that it reminded me that I should stop wasting my time watching Family Guy. Like a show that focuses solely on the concept of diminishing returns, Family Guy has lost much of the fun of its crass, unapologetic humor that so captured a nation just a few years ago. In fact, it has gone as stale as a piece of french bread sitting out in the afternoon sun, a bread that was once very delicious.

The episode is a parody of some old murder mystery show no one under the age of thirty even remembers. This only heightens the fact that Family Guy is obsessed with parodies, which after I while lose all humor and substance. Still, this is why this premier was so riveting. It made me realize I need to spend more time outside, and not on Family Guy. In fact, there was not a single memorable moment from the entire show, and the only good joke concerned Quagmire's tepid reaction to his fat girlfriend. This was the most shocking part of the episode, since normally Quagmire is a one trick pony who has no range whatsoever. Yet this episode he was the star, and perhaps that is another reason why Family Guy was my favorite fall TV show premier. I watched the show via FOX on satellite TV from

Oct 5, 2010

Geting Ready For the Show With the Foo

It's getting pretty close to gig time (which I mentioned in"Finally Gigging It Up") so I've been playing quite a bit. I'm starting to get nervous as hell thinking about it. Never-the-less, I'm pretty confident and definitely excited, but it would be really nice for the day to come already.

Below is a vid of one of the covers that I'm going to be playing this Sunday. (Bad lighting and all.) It's one of my favorites to play.

4 days and counting!

Sep 20, 2010

3 Weeks And Counting!

It's officially 3 weeks (yesterday) to the big show. I think I'm getting a little more nervous with each passing day but that will happen when you haven't played a real show in about 4 years!

I finally busted out a set list, 10 songs, originals mixed with covers, that I can hopefully cram into 45 minutes. I don't think it will be a problem. Now it's just down to playing that set list over and over and over and over and over. That and I kind of have to finish a song that I've got in there as well. It's a song that I have tentatively called "U Can't/I Can". It's on the heavier side of the scale, as far acoustic music goes. The song is more or less the basis of what I'm trying to do with my music these days. If I could just get a band together and fill this stuff out we'd be in business.

My current sound is also based around one of my older tunes called "Lost In The Fray". I'm definitely going to jam that one out on October 10th. After all these years the song has been around it's still one my favorite original tunes to play. Feel free to take a listen. I'm off to rehearse. Rock on!

Guest Post: Grinding With Tony Little

Guest post written by Kevin Beach

One of my favorite infomercials is Tony Little's Gazelle. As I watched this infomercial on my satellite TV I always had to laugh especially since I could see all his make up with my Direct tv hd service. It looked almost like a cheesy adult movie. I am sure the product works great but I have yet to order a Tony Little Gazelle.

Even though I have never actually ordered the Gazelle I have watched the infomercial multiple times. When Tony Little would mount the Gazelle behind the lady it would make me laugh out loud every single time.

If I had a personal trainer like Tony Gazelle and he was mounted behind me on the Gazelle like he was in the infomercial I would be extremely nervous. Tony Gazelle had a great product with the Gazelle trainer but I do not think he would have been able to sell very many of them if it had only been him on the infomercial. Tony needed the help of a physically fit woman who was beautiful.

I am sure they were extremely nervous the first time the Infomercial went live with him behind the girl on the Gazelle grinding but it all worked out great for Tony Little as sales of his Gazelle trainer went through the roof.

Sep 7, 2010

Finally Gigging It Up

Thank you Reverbnation, because I now have a gig. A buddy of mine and I are going to be rockin' Joletta's in North Topeka on October 10th (10/10/10) for the Veteran's Aid Benefit.

It's been a while since I've played out. Not for lack of want, but mostly for the lack of motivation and put crudely, lack of balls. I used to enjoy playing out acoustic style by myself in college. There was never a shortage of open mics and music competitions to take part in. Before I was in a band, and even after I joined, that was my thang. Yeah, it was super nerve racking. It was hard getting up there in front of the varying size crowds that I used to play, but once I was up there it was like being in another world and all that mattered was playing and singing.

It would be nice to get back in the swing of the way it was back in those days. It's weird saying it like that, like it was a long time ago, but 5 years is a long time in the grand scheme of  things. So many things have changed since then; my job, new friends, living in a place 1500 miles away from home. But one thing has most definitely stayed the same; my passion to play music. It will be good to share again. I just hope I'm up for the challenge.

And it will be good to have someone beside me to jam just to take the edge off.

Rock on!

Guest Post: Practical Joke Cleanup

Guest post written by Abraham Sonne

I'm a history teacher and high school baseball coach so I put up with a lot of shennanigans. But one of my team's pranks that they routinely pull on me went awry a few weeks early this summer.

I proposed to my longtime girlfriend Julia in May and once my players heard about it they decided to toilet paper the trees in my yard and spray shaving cream all over my siding. They also wrote "CONGRATULATIONS" in big blue letters with that car window paint so you could see it from the street. They thought that stuff would wash off easily, but it stuck pretty good to my house's siding.

So I called sears Home Pro losangeles and got a quote on some new siding. The seniors on the team that did it offered to help me pay for it but I wouldn't let them because they didn't know that it wouldn't come off the house. Their parents were terrified I was going to press charges or take action at school like restricting them from walking at graduation, but I didn't think either one was necessary.

I picked out the same color again and the installation people were really nice. I also told my players that next time they should just stick to the shaving cream and toilet paper because they're a lot easier to clean up.

Aug 14, 2010

I Need To Get Out of Here!

I know I've said it before, but this place is not working for me...musically anyway. If this makes any sense, I feel like I'm trapped in a music killing cage where everyone can hear every single sound I make, see every move I make, while hating me for every second of it and poking me through the bars for good measure.

Is there any real reason to feel this way? Not really. None of the neighbors have complained. KJ doesn't mind the guitar playing and singing. Even the dog has gotten used to the extra sound. This feeling just emanates from inside of me, killing my focus, concentration and creativity.

I have so many ideas, none of which I can articulate into the full songs that play in my head as I doze of to sleep or daydream at the computer while typing a blog post.

What I think I really need is a sound proof studio. A simple set up with a place to relax with my guitar, my book and a pen along with a computer to catch those song ideas as they come out so forgetful me doesn't lose them. Or maybe just a simple, kind of out of the way practice space that I could rent and be alone with my thoughts and sometimes hideous noises that accompany my early songwriting stages that could compliment my intense lack of musical confidence. Heck, I'd settle for my own house, forget the soundproofing or the studio in general. Just a place that felt even remotely private, far away from the prodding, probably for the most part, non existent ears that judge and ridicule from all sides.

Perhaps this is just a bit of an overly dramatized dramatization. How many artists out there truly get there own safe haven isolated from the world to work on their masterpieces? I can imagine most of them don't. Though, a guy can dream can't he?

Overall, I'm just so antsy to get some of these ideas down and not sure how to do it. Any thoughts?

Jul 23, 2010

Billy Ray Cyrus Rockin' It!

Who knew Billy Ray could rock so hard. He's in a band called Brother Clyde. Their first tune, Lately,  is pretty sweet. They've been playing the hell out of it here in the Kansas City area. It sounds about as far from Achy Breaky Heart as you could get. Even though I dug my "Some Gave All" cassette back in the day, the new sound is definitely a good thing. Can't wait to hear the rest of the album when it comes out August 10th. Check the new song out for yourself below. Rock on!

Jul 3, 2010

One At A Time, Please

It's nice when things get rolling creatively. I really can't complain. Sometimes I'll go months without writing down anything significant in my book or weeks without jamming out a riff on the guitar. But when the gates truly open, there tends to be a flood and I'm helpless to stop it.

In some ways the creative avalanche that rarely comes my way is just as bad as no idea coming at all, mostly because I can never lock anything down. I'll be lying in bed and a great melody comes bouncing through my brain for one song. The next day, the bridge for another song hits me like a ton of bricks and I have to get it down.

But no matter how much work I get done, the constant song hopping is always my downfall. Before I know it I have a lyric book full of a scribbled mess of pages (the scribbled part for me is good, it's means I've been writing and rewriting and putting down lots of thoughts) but also a GarageBand folder on the computer packed with random recordings which in the end, never make much sense.

So what's my problem? I think it's focus. At the songwriting stage that I'm in, I feel I should be able to sit down and work on a song (one at a time) and bust it out. I've done it before. But here especially, there's always a distraction. Whether it's the dog needs a walk, I get an email, the tv gets turned on (the World Cup has me hooked), I think of a blog post idea and feel guilty for not posting in a month (like right now) or I simply don't feel comfortable playing as loud as I want in my apartment building.  (I get a little self-conscious,  most definitely in the early stages of songs when half the time I'm screaming nonsense words and fumbling on the guitar to get melodies and rhythms down.)

I have some ideas of how to be able to focus more and concentrate on one song at a time so I actually accomplish something, the most notable being getting out of this apartment. But otherwise, I'm not sure what to do. I really want to get these songs rolling. Anyone have any suggestions pertaining to focus and concentration, whether it be for songwriting or any other project you need to get done?

Rock on!

May 11, 2010

The First Listen

So what's with the first listen? You know, the first time you spin a brand new disc (or hit play on the iTunes or however you get your music). It's never what it's cracked up to be...but then, all of a sudden, you realize your stupidity and small-mindedness as the first listen becomes the second and the third.

For me, new music is an occasion. I try not to buy new music too often, the stuff can get expensive, but I have my kicks and it's hard not to indulge. I usually head to a place like Best Buy and immediately rip the case out of it's plastic prison once I get in the car so I can roll down the windows and enjoy a nice, slow ride home to rock some new tunage that I so crave.

But, it never fails. That first listen is never what I expect. Beside the one radio single I might recognize, the rest usually does nothing for me and I'm left wanting something more when the speakers have spit out the last notes.

Then comes the second listen. Whether it's right there in the car the same day, the next day, in my apartment, or in my headphones, something just clicks. The bland, unrecognizable songs morph into something totally different. The hooks pop out at me and the melodies sing their sweet sounds. The new disc becomes a totally new disc. Almost every time.

Maybe it's my expectations. Or maybe that first listen I always just zone out and don't get a hold of the big picture of what the whole album is about. In a way, it's insanely frustrating always having that initial let down. Even new albums from my favorite bands like Our Lady Peace and Three Days Grace do this to me even though I know they never disappoint and keep me listening year after year, album after album. Does this happen to anyone else, or am I just crazy?

Anyway, I think it's about time I just accept the inevitable truth that every cd that I buy is going to suck the first time around, but I should find comfort knowing that the second listen is most likely going to end up blowing my mind.

Thank you to Thousand Foot Krutch and their new album Welcome To The Masquerade for inspiring this post.  I have listened at least 4 times and I definitely

Apr 14, 2010

I Love Music: Example #1

It amazes me what people can do with music sometimes. Videos like this make me feel worthless on the music front but at the same time makes me want to play so much more.

Thanks for showing this video.

I love music. Enjoy.

Mar 8, 2010

In With The New, Out With The Old?

As much as I like to recycle, there's always a tipping point. And I speak of music here of course. Last year, I wrote of reusing old tunes in my overall effort to rid the world of musical pollution in my post "Going Green By Recycling...Old Tunes." But lately, I've been cruising through my old Moleskines and my tried and true technique is feeling a bit over tried and a lot less true.

It is true that a lyric I wrote down 5 years ago might not have worked back then yet fits perfectly with a new riff that I pumped out yesterday. But overall, I've found that I was in different place in 2005. Not only do I now live half way across the country, but I hang with new people, I've had a myriad of experiences, and maybe most decisively, I'm not going through a colossal break up.  I bet you can imagine how depressing, boring and whiny every line of these books feels today.

Life events like break ups give major inspiration. Some good tunes come from them but from my experience, it's mostly just cry baby drivel. Who wants to hear that? I don't. And I don't want to perform it either.

So where does that put me? It makes me a regular Sly Sludge, reveling in my skills to pollute and plunder, leaving a trail of unused, discarded lyrics and guitar riffs in my wake. (Keep up with the random Captain Planet reference.) But you know what? I'm ok with that. The last thing I want to be remembered for is being that guy that people couldn't stand listening to because of his outdated, unimaginative lyrics that just made everyone want to shoot themselves. I've decided that picking a line from here and there to get things moving isn't a bad thing, but I also have to live in the now and work with events going on around me in 2010. There's no shortage.

The hardest part is giving up all that work from back then. But since I'm looking for new as well as more fulfilling lyrics in my writing, good riddance. Here's to upbeat and rockin' songs that don't make people cry. Unless that's what I'm going for of course.

Rock on!

Feb 20, 2010

Yet Another Show and No Guitar?

We hit another live show last weekend. Hell, that's all I seem to write about these days. But to be honest, hitting shows is the only interesting thing I seem to have going on right now. Besides a trio of Red Sox games I plan on catching in Kansas City in early April, the only other thing I have to be excited about in the very near future is another show which I paid a pretty penny for. But we'll talk about that one later.

Last weekend, KJ and I caught the VD Party (Valentine's Day Party, get your mind of the gutter) in DT Kansas City. The motivation for this show wasn't so much for the bands playing but the price. It was absolutely free, well, minus the gas money and the parking garage....and the meal we ended up having at Chipotle which was scrumptious. (Yay, tacos.) But anyway, the show itself was free and you really can't pass that up.

The headliner was OK Go, a band I've never really listened to. Going in, I thought I only knew one song, turns out I know two. The band I was looking forward to seeing was Company of Thieves who we caught at the free Halloween show with Our Lady Peace. (Refer to Slutterfly, Slumblebee, Slirate, and Our Lady Peace.) It was quite a bit different not seeing them in their Wizard of Oz get ups but they put on another great show and busted out a few new tunes.

The band I was really impressed with was called Crash Kings. I'd never heard them and had no idea what to expect. When they first came on and I saw they were a three piece I was a little skeptical. From my experience it seems that a lot of three piece bands, especially up and coming bands, sound too hollow and incomplete without those layers that I so crave. My skepticism went up a couple of notches when I noticed there was no guitar player, just keyboards.

But they proved not to need one. Hell, half the songs sounded as if there was one, or two. With the crunching bass, drums, one hand rocking the rhythm on one keyboard, and the other hand rocking the solo (The thing even had a giant whammy bar! I know it's nothing new for a keyboard to sound like another instrument, but damn, it was still pretty cool to watch.) they filled out really well and were actually pretty heavy sounding in some places. The recorded versions, not so much, but I recommend checking them out anyway.

Maybe I'll go play some guitar now that I have the place to myself for a little while longer. I'll probably just end up falling asleep on the couch with the Olympics on. Not so rockin', but it's been a long week.

Rock on!

Jan 25, 2010

Scales, scales, they're good for your skills...

...the more you play, the more it kills.

Scales are one of the major building blocks of playing any instrument. I remember having to memorize and play then in high school band as warm ups every class...and I hated them. Scales are just so boring and I wasn't very good at memorizing them.

I couldn't get myself to play them when I was tooting on the trumpet back in my high school, brass rockin' days, and the same applied in my transition to the strings. Being a self-taught guitarist, I always figured learning scales were one of the best ways to learn the fret board, to strengthen my fretting hand, and to work on my alternate picking, among other things. Unfortunately, it never caught on. I skipped to the fun part, searching the internet for guitar tabs of songs I wanted to learn and strumming away.

So here I am, close to 9 years since I first picked up a guitar and the scales are coming back to haunt me. Still running with the self-teaching philosophy, lately I've been disgusted with my lack of knowledge with what I'm playing. (That and learning other people's songs. I know Good Riddance by Green Day yet I don't know some of the most basic theory!) I've written dozens of songs, I've been in a band, I play my guitar most every day, but if you were to ask me what I was playing, beyond the basic explanation of, "this is a G-chord", I'd probably talk like I just picked up a guitar yesterday.

Last week I pulled out an on old book, part of the K-I-S-S series of books (Keep It Simple Series...or Keep It Simple Stupid for someone like me.), for a starting point, something to jump start my thirst for guitar learning goodness.  The scales section popped right out at me and now whenever I'm just sitting around I tool with every scale I can literally wrap my hand around; major, minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor, chromatic, just goes on.

As simple and straight forward as some of the stuff in this book seems, having played for all this time, I think spending some time going over this mind-boggling music theory stuff will do me good. It's not the most fun thing in the world, I mean, let's play some songs! (Write some songs is more like it.) But that's what happened 9 years ago and I think it's time to get a little more serious, no matter how much is hurts.

Jan 23, 2010

See You Soon Conan

This is sad, at least for me. Conan O'Brien is off The Tonight Show after only 7 months. I love Conan, I never disliked Leno, but I always struggled to stay awake through Jay's show so I could catch Conan on Late Night.

Below is the link for the final episode of Conan's version of The Tonight Show. If you don't watch the whole thing, at the very least watch the last 5 minutes or so. It's a very rockin' and incredible end to a show cut too short.

Jan 8, 2010

Ending The Year With A Bang...Not So Much

The fact that I'm just now writing this post about my New Year's Eve says quite a bit. This new year was supposed to be different, not the same 'ol hum-drum, sitting in front of the tv to watch the ball drop and pretending that I enjoy drinking a few. (Which I really don't.)

I mentioned in my post, "The New Year's Eve Let Down", back in November how ringing in the New Year is never what it's cracked up to be. Though the transition from '09 to 0-Ten (definitely doesn't sound right when you say it out loud) wasn't the same kind of let down, I'm thinking I hyped up this year's celebration a little too much in my head.

KJ and I headed to downtown Kansas City to catch a rock show put on by 98.9 The Rock featuring local band Red Line Chemistry, Cavo, and Rev Theory. Overall, the show was decent, Rev Theory was definitely the highlight, with Cavo almost putting me to sleep and Red Line Chemistry being pretty impressive. No offense to Cavo, they have some great tunes, but they followed the local opener who came out ripping as a 5-piece group (2 guitars, bass, drums and lead vocal), as a 4-piece (only 1 guitar) which was a major step down the intensity meter.

Compounded with a long, short week at work, it being way past my normal bed time (I'm usually in bed by 10:00 at the latest), many more drunk people in comparison to other shows, and the countdown being a little bit of a dud (you need to work on that for next year 98.9) I was most definitely ready to hit the door once Rev Theory finished their set.

So as for ringing in 2010, the new decade, this show was a major step up from most other countdown nights of my adult life, but I feel that it could have been a little better, even with my insane expectations.

What's the moral here kiddies? I enjoyed myself and that's all that really mattered. I have to quit with all the hype and enjoy things for what they are from now on, I think that will make all the difference. Rock on to 2010!

Oh, and the hell with resolutions! Let's just write some tunes and leave it at that.

Let me know how your New Year's Eve went!
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