Saturday, August 29, 2015


Don't remember the rules? Okay. I'll set my iTunes to play random and then blog somewhat stream-of-consciousness for whatever plays next. I'm supposed to go until the song ends, but I usually end up staying on topic for two songs at once because I don't stream-of-conscious blog very quickly. Neither the stream nor the conscious are particularly on point most nights.

What will happen next? I have no idea! Nobody does! It's so exciting! And here we go...

 #1: Mile Markers by Codename Rocky

I have never heard this song. I've never heard of this band. It's from an indie Christian ska compilation I downloaded a few years ago. Yeah, it was free. I was so huge into the whole Christian ska thing (and, to a lesser extent, the mainstream ska thing) back in the high school and college years. Recent years have led me to conclude that so much of it was actually not good music. Like, at all. I still enjoy, obviously, pulling out FIF, even the old stuff, as well as the Supertones, Insyderz, and the swingy sounds of the W's, though I'll acknowledge those last two don't generally stand the test of time very well. And then there were all the fairly awful bands that I loved that only got minor-label deals because it was the flavor of the day. I own a lot of those. Anyway, this song actually doesn't sound that bad. Most of these songs on these compilations start out all right, and then the "singer" starts and either the voice or the lyrics pretty much kill the whole thing, and I despair for the future of the genre. Niche as it was to begin with.

Incidentally, I recommend checking out the band "October Light." You can get some of their music on Bandcamp, I believe.

Hey, does anybody remember that I once played drums for the (mostly) theatre major ska band Astor Place Riot for one night? That ruled. I wish that had become an actual thing, instead of just a one-night thing. I still use that in my bio sometimes.

Thanks, Codename Rocky, for reminding me of that.

#2: The Economy of Mercy, by Switchfoot

I love that I still have Switchfoot music from before they were, well, Switchfoot. That said, there aren't a lot of tracks from this particular album I still listen to. My sister once had the biggest crush on these guys. Wonder what would have become of this band if that Mandy Moore movie had never happened. A Walk to Remember, I believe. I actually watched that movie once in college, not because one of my female friends wanted to watch it, but because one of the Manly Movie Night guys had a pretty hardcore crush on Mandy Moore, if I remember correctly. I don't remember much about it but I don't think I liked it. I also think I was working on a Scene Painting class assignment while it was on, so I had an excuse to not pay much attention without being rude.

Looking back, I wish I'd found more opportunities to stay active in scenic design and painting. I took to it fairly well, but there were just no opportunities in our tiny program at undergrad. I would always get some great experience in learning new skills in summer stock, but by the time I moved on full-tie professional work there was always something else for me to do, and people who were hired specifically for scene work, that opportunities for learning and growth pretty much dried up. It'd be very hard to go back to it now, especially with new tech's role in the process (my professor taught us to do everything by hand and was surprisingly uninterested in my independent study Scene Design II class, but then we never really clicked, I don't think, and that wasn't her fault). Still, when I'm reading a script, there are times when I'll get a vision for a set and there's a part of me that'll always wish I'd found a way to give that side of my creativity more of a chance before leaving it behind.

#3: Programmed to Fight (Acoustic) by The Megas

I love The Megas. If you've ridden in my car in the past five years you probably know this. Mega Man was my favorite video game franchise (NES) growing up. This is a band that's taken the theme from each level of the first three games and turned them into rock anthems for each character. And I know that sounds incredibly geeky and very "Time to move out of Mom's basement," but what I love about this band above the many others that have done similar things is the way they've managed to weave character and storytelling into their work. It's gotten better from album to album, to the point where their last two releases (History Repeating Red & Blue) actually play out like a pretty epic rock opera. Some of these tracks can pack a surprisingly heartfelt punch, and they also know how to structure the album as a whole to maximize the emotional impact. For example, I hate Quick Man. I hate his stage, I hate the boss fight, I hate everything about him. But the Megas track on his theme (The Quick and the Blue) casts the villainous bot as a self-appointed sheriff prepping for his eventual demise in a Wild West vein, and it's surprisingly effective. (And one of my favorite video game cover tracks in existence)

Anyway, while it obviously helps to be well-versed in the lore ahead of time, and while it can take some getting used to due to the fact that the same voice sings every song, I still recommend checking out the History Repeating albums (again, Bandcamp) and enjoying them for the stories they tell. (Have I dreamed about what a theatrical production of the music with a massive budget might one day look like? .....maybe. Again, my old scene design enthusiast is pretty stoked about the idea)

#4: Jesusita En Chihuahua by the 101 Strings Orchestra

Our first year of marriage, we didn't have a lot of money. (Not at all like today, of course) We had a tiny one-bedroom apartment, some hand-me-down furniture--you know, newlywed just-out-of-undergrad life. It was pretty grand, really.

Anyway, I remember when we went down to Wal-Mart to buy our first Christmas tree. We got the least expensive one that we could still put wrapped packages under. We also didn't have much in the way of holiday music at that point, either, so when I found a three-disc set of instrumental Christmas music for five bucks, we decided, "Hey, why not?" We also talked about buying one new Christmas album each year. I don't know that we've stuck with that.

BUT! Man, was that ever an amazing buy! This collection is still one of our favorite holiday albums. It's all not only instrumental, but orchestral. It's pretty high quality stuff, and we can listen to it in the car with the kids, as background music at home, pretty much wherever. We're pretty old-school, we like classic stuff, and this collection absolutely nails the nostalgic, traditional Christmas sweet spot.

I have been contemplating doing a Top Seven blog of the best bang-for-our-buck purchases Kim and I have made in our life together. This 3 CD set is definitely on that list.

#5: Dream of Two Cities by the O.C. Supertones

Remember back when the Supertones broke up? This was a bizarre song to have closed their canon. It's slower in tempo, it draws heavily from a lot of the imagery out of Revelation, it's a very mysterious and prophetic sort of song. It's kind of intense. It was so very different from everything they'd done in their entire career. And of course, when it came out, none of us realized it was the last song they'd release. So when the announcement came sometime the next year (I think?) it just felt this was a strange stamp to have on the end of their career. I like looking back on the Supertones' original run (not to exclude their excellent reboot a few years ago, but I'm just talking "Adventures" through "Revenge"). You could tell the songwriter was basically a brand-new believer and the band was still learning how to write music together, as all of the songs are incredibly simple, peppy, and repetitive, and the songs don't go much deeper than "I love God and God loves me" or "Don't let me fall down, never wanna fall, never wanna fall, fall down." I still love these songs, they're so infectious and joyful, but you can tell as the albums went along (and the band started to lose some of its followers) that the musicians were maturing and thus expanding upon the basic ska sound--most of the bands that lasted a while did this--and Matt Morginsky (primary lyricist) was really reading and studying up on theology, church history, etc. A lot of the material on this last album got quite a bit deeper than the older stuff, and some of it may have even been a stretch to grasp to newer believers. And then there was this song.

Anyway, sometimes I'd be driving around Houston while this song plays, looking at our skyscrapers and our highways full of cars and our megachurches and all the modern marvels and wealth and technological advances that are a part of my everyday life here, and I think about how much power and influence this nation has on the entire world, and it just sort of blows my mind how no world power has ever stayed on top indefinitely. I get a mental image of all our mighty buildings laid waste and our overpasses crumbling, our metropolises abandoned. And I don't know that I expect anything that dramatic to ever come, even when the U.S. is eventually ousted from its spot as Nation Numero Uno, but I also think it's a definite possibility. For the sake of my generations of descendants, I hope that there's a peaceful transition out of dominance. But it's fascinating how the world is constantly changing. We always have a sense that the way it is is at least similar to the way it will be for centuries to come. But God only knows, right?

*clears throat* Right, anyway. Shuffleblog. Not a good medium at attempting to dissect deep topics. But it's almost an eight minute song, so at some point during it my brain usually starts wandering down that path.

Okay, last one:

#6:Behold Behold by the St John's Kids Choir

I have so much kids' music on my iTunes, y'all. Some of it's pretty god. Some of it is terrible. I get that there are lots of companies that try to fast-track cheap entertainment options for kids and sell them for practically nothing, hard would it have been to find someone who can actually sing "The Wheels on the Bus." Did you just pick the guy in the office down the hall and say, "Hey, try a goofy voice. One take. I want to go get a burger." Even if you're not going to try, it shouldn't be too much to find a decent voice actor to narrate your picture book. I know a ton of actors who'd do it for free, believing that it would be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, because we creative types desperately want to believe that some random job is going to one day open the door to that tantalizing Big Break which very few ever truly get but SOMETIMES PEOPLE DO!

Where did this start? Oh, St John's Kids Choir. This one's okay. But I don't think I've ever heard this song, so clearly not one of my kids' favorites. Like I said, I have a lot of toddler music. I'm surprised more didn't come up on this Shuffleblog. Also a little disappointed none of my Broadway stuff came up. Because, you know, Broadway musical popping up on your Shuffleblog lends a bit of instant theatre/artist street cred. Or something.

Sorry for any typos. I'm not the biggest fan in the world of this keyboard.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fighting Back

First, I deleted the blogrolls off the side of my page because most of the blogs I follow tell me when they've updated on Twitter, and most of the people I know IRL who blog haven't updated in over a year (or two or three or more) and it makes my blogroll look sad. So, gone. Enjoy a less-obstructed view of the ocean, everybody.


I get that the Despicable Me Minions are everywhere right now. It makes sense. They've been around for a few years, they're cute, they're downright hilarious (at least in a supporting role, your mileage may vary as headliners), and they just had a movie come out this year that was by far the most marketable film for young kids this summer. The studio and toy industry will milk this for as long as they can. I have a ton of minion McDonald's toys in my house that make all sorts of obnoxious sounds. I have adult friends who collect them. Again, I get it. I have absolutely nothing against the minions.

Lately, however, I've been noticing them popping up in a ton of Internet memes where they just don't seem to fit. I love Internet memes, by the way. You just post a picture and put something funny or poignant that goes with it and boom, you've created a meme. (Although technically I think it's not a meme until it goes viral, but hey, definitions are in constant evolution and there seems to be no term for a meme that you just created to amuse yourself and yourself only, so for the purpose of this discussion--which again, is not a discussion since I've disabled comments, so really for the intent of this discourse--a meme is a picture with those big blocky white letters that you share on social media) I usually laugh out loud at at least one new meme on Facebook per day. But lately pictures of minions have been showing up on memes that have absolutely nothing to do with anything minion related. It's just like, "Here's a snarky comment...and there's a minion!" And people love it and share it and I really have no idea what that's about. Hang on, let me go find an example...

...and then you eat a cupcake?

Oh by the way... MINION IN A CAPE!

I appreciate that this minion looks like even he can't figure out why he's standing next to this particular block of text.

Every woman wants to be reminded that she's beautiful. And that it took a minion to remind you to remind her that she's beautiful.

This one is really sad, and then...o hey, happy little minion!

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Now I realize online meme generators mean that you can do this with virtually anything, but from what I've seen's mostly just minions. Just really random minions. And I know I'm not the only one who noticed, because a quick Google search or "Minion memes" reveals a bunch of minion memes featuring minions that say "I hate minion memes." But for whatever reason, minions have become the face of virtually anything anybody wants to say on social media these days.

Well two can play at this game.

Feel free to use these. You're welcome.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Great Disturbance in the Blog

As if a million comments suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced...

That's right, I've just eliminated the opportunity to comment on any of my posts!

Now, I know what you're all thinking:

And you're right! Now, if you find something that you enjoy, and you want to share your enjoyment, or engage in an exchange of thoughts or ideas, you'll have to ACTUALLY CONTACT ME! And, if you're reading this, you probably know at least one way to contact me. We might even have an actual conversation over it sometime!

Forced IRL interaction via social media. It's a thing, kids. 

(But seriously, I have no idea exactly how many times I'd get emails saying that some robot spammer had left a comment on a random post from four years ago. Obnoxious.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

So anyway, where was I?

Over the past two years, there have been many times that I've been tempted to just throw something random up on here, just to see if anybody's still out there. (I know Travis is still out there, because Travis often tells me he is still out there) Truth is, I'd essentially written off the possibility of coming back to blogging. First, it's just not as "cool" as it used to be. Look at the blogroll on the side of my page. Very few of the people who were keeping personal blogs back when I was doing so regularly have done much in the past year. Facebook statuses have replaced blogs for most of my friends as jobs and children have begun to sap all the time and energy from our lives. Second, there are already a ton of words and opinions all over the Internet. I don't generally feel as though I have anything worthwhile to add most of the time. So many blogs are just adding to the noise, and lately I've become disenchanted with the whole "saying stuff just to say stuff" way of Internetting. I'd think of something to write about, and then I'll ask, "Now, is that really worth my time to write or anyone else's time to read?" And with dishes and scripts and housework that all need finished, the answer is frequently, "Nah, not particularly." Third, the Internet is just a mean-spirited place. If I ever click over to an article or an op-ed that a friend has shared via FB or email, I sometimes make the mistake of scrolling down and reading the first few comments and I start to lose all hope for our species. People are just vindictive and hateful online, and I'm afraid that sometime, when I do have something meaningful to say, it'll end up on some lonely troll's Google search sometime and I'll go viral, and then people will be threatening my children and finding out where I live so they can drive by and yell hurtful things at my wife. It's a long shot, yes, but it's the sort of thing that happens these days, and I just don't want to deal with it, so I tend to stay away from saying much online and instead prefer to have discussions about meaningful topics in person, where ideas can actually be exchanged and questions asked without fear of venom and international infamy.

When I first started this blog, I was blogging daily for an entire year, and it was a great exercise for me as a writer and a lot of fun. I also attracted a decent following of friends who encouraged me in my process and my output. I attempted a "sequel" 365 project, but because I had already accomplished it once the thrill was gone and my heart wasn't into it, so eventually it failed. Also, most of my friends stopped reading, because they'd been reading every day and after a while you move on to other, newer Internet things. I resurrected the blog a couple of times and produced some decent entries, but my blogging had become so irregular that my audience had dwindled to a handful--which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because I appreciated the handful, but it's easy to look back at all your friends who used to find you interesting and don't anymore, and wah wah wah. More than anything, however, I had come to care about the quality of my blogs. As such, I wanted to produce entries that were long enough and solid enough to merit reading. I couldn't post one-and-done paragraphs as I had when I was a beginning blogger. I wanted to write blogs that weren't crap. But those sort of entries took more time, and as I found myself more and more fatigued from the raising of two kids (and then eventually three) and doing whatever I could to make whatever money I can to keep the family afloat, I didn't have the time or energy to craft the sort of thing I wanted to see on my own site. So it went away.

What, then, is this?

Well, a new blog, duh. And thus far, a fairly boring one at that, but sometimes you have to wade through a ton of exposition if you want to get an idea of what's really going on.

Lately I find that there are nights when I need to write, but no progress on any of my current projects is forthcoming. These blocks often completely derail me and I find myself stuck in a marshy swampland of creative impotence, and sometimes the frustration leaves me at such an impasse for weeks at a time. After such lulls, I return to the craft to discover that I've lost some of my skill, and then that's discouraging and then comes the whole "Oh no I'll never write anything decent again I peaked with the last Hero Squad script it's all downhill from here" Cyclone of Cynicism which lads to more inactivity.

(By the way, I promise I'm not pathetic. Most writers I've spoken to or read about--in fact, artists in nearly every discipline--face these same traps throughout their lives. It's a constant battle to overcome the paralysis that comes from your own fears. So STOP JUDGING ME)

So, once again, why are we here? Because I have realized that I need to be pouring words somewhere. I would prefer for them to be poured into a project that will eventually touch dozens if not hundreds or thousands of others, or if not at least into projects that will provide some sort of financial support for my family. But currently, that's not happening, and I need to be writing something. So I'm telling Travis and anyone else who happens to find out that I'm "back" how pathetic I am and why I've been gone for so long. Because I want to write, and at the moment I have the energy to do so and no other responsibilities, so I have to write something.

I imagine that, whenever I do post on here, it'll be a night like tonight. I've got the time, and I'm stuck in another project, so I come here to keep the creative muscle working through the lean times. I may just shoot some thoughts off the top of my head, or I may try to be a little on the entertaining side from time to time. (Most who know me best have commented that the inner-workings of my mind tend to be at least mildly entertaining more often than not anyway) I still remember the old features and I love them, but I don't have a plan, for example, to make sure I actually do a Random Nintendo Game of the Week every week. Or every month, for that matter. Though I loved that series. But again, time consuming, and I'd like to be a little more spontaneous in my blogging moving forward. I will endeavor not to worry so much about readers, comments, feedback, etc, because I know that's a trap, and anyway I'm supposedly blogging for my own exercise anyway, but I realize that a blog is a public thing, and in case anybody is reading it I'd still prefer for it to be something worth his or her time.

I'm currently in a hotel room about two thirds of way home from our vacation at my parents' house. Everybody else is, thankfully, asleep. School starts for the boys in a week. Tomorrow night I have to work at the ballpark and next week I'm holding auditions for the next show I'm directing. This is going to be a long, tough year, but I believe there's some light for relief at the end of the tunnel. If you're reading this, I hope you'll say a quick prayer for me, for my whole family, for rest, for perseverance, and for faith.

Another reason for blogging tonight was that I was wired and couldn't fall asleep. It seems as though throwing these thoughts into the little square text box has helped with this as well. I believe I shall turn in for the night.

Maybe I'll see ya around here later, eh?

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Classical Monday!

Something classy to start off your week.  You're welcome. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ukulele Man

If you check out my Flickr, you've probably already seen this. It was something I started to write as a joke, and then I ended up kinda liking it, so I decided to share with a (slightly) wider audience. 

It's eleven o'clock on a Friday
Me and my boys hanging out
Neither one's jumping on top of me
But that'll change quickly, no doubt

Then my son finds this old ukulele
He's not really sure what it's for
So I tighten a string and I pluck a few notes
And then he starts beggin' for more

La la la di dee da,
La la, di da da dum

Play us a song, ukulele man,
Play us a song today
Yeah this thing's just a toy, but it brings your dad joy
Whenever your song starts to play

Then I hand Isaac back the small instrument
To see what he'll do with it now
And his eyes say "I know this makes music
I just gotta figure out how."
Then his eyes scrunch up in concentration
As he gingerly fingers a string
And he bites his lower lip as he plucks it
And the thing makes a magical "ping"

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Then my boy starts to pick each and every string
Studying every noise
Then his fingers start strummin' and he begins hummin',
That thing becomes more than a toy

It's a pretty good song for a toddler
When he's finished, he finally grins
And I know that my baby loves music
Almost as much as I love him.
And he carries it around for the rest of the day
Till his ukulele time is done
In a year, he won't even remember these days
In a year, I'll wonder where they've all gone

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

So play me a song, Ukulele Man,
Play me a song today
Though the world may be full of grand-masters
You're the one that I want to hear play

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Try not to think too hard, Vivi, sometimes you have to smile..."

This post has nothing to do with that song, but it's been stuck in my head lately.  Longtime readers of the blog will know that I'm at least a passing fan of The Internet's Brentalfloss, who built a solid youtube following putting lyrics to old school video game music.  Lately, he's been branching out and doing some originals, and they're better than his "with lyrics" songs.  And even though I'm not familiar with Final Fantasy IX at all, this song is just incredibly catchy.   (With the warning, should you go exploring, much of Floss' stuff is, shall we say, not at all family-friendly) 

Anyway, here we are.  I did survive the month of May.  Go me!  And two of my four jobs have now successfully wrapped up.  Woohoo!  This month is also going to be taxing, but in a different way.  I have a week-plus break between ball games this month, but most of it will be taken up by preteen camp.  And every day I'm at home I'll have both boys, which will be physically and mentally exhausting.  But life is good, friends :-)

And we're having another baby in December.  Have I mentioned that yet?

Really, I just wanted to pop in to say I know I haven't been around blogger a lot lately, and that's actually not likely to change in the short-term. I've got two big auditions later this month that I really  need to get work done on, and I have not one, not two,  not three, but four writing projects in various stages of development right now, at least two of which actually involve *gasp* research.  So blogging may take a backseat for the time being.

Really, you should be following my flickr feed if you just really want a slice-of-my-life.  A picture may or may not be worth a thousand words, but it generally takes less time.

So, just dropping in to say hi, I'm good, how are you?  I may not have time to write again until early July.  Vacation is on the horizon, though, my friends!  This will be some well-earned time off, I tell you!

(Sorry for the lack of an informative or entertaining entry; however, if all you get out of this blog is the Vivi song, then this blog is still totally worth it)