Monday, December 29, 2008

Letting My Voice Be Heard

I woke up today to take Wifey and AKV to the train station to go visit Na and PaPa during the big  Chicago Bears bonanza of a game only to be followed by the hilarious and atrocious loss of the Cowboys.   By the time I got home, I was running on roughly 6 hours of sleep and new a nap was in order.  The couch invited me to curl up with Munky and we curled up dozing to the dulcet tones of Penn Jillete mocking people who live their lives always wanting "the best" of whatever material goods bring them a limited amount of joy.  A few hours of sleep would do me good before I recorded some vocal takes.

I got a phone call that rudely woke me up.  I could've ignored it, but I figured it might be important (tell me, what's more important - sleep or finding flight information? ).   After that call, I tried to sleep but not felt wide awake .  I laid around for another half hour watching more Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t and then finally mustered up the will to record.

The cool thing about owning your own studio is that you have access to it all of the time.  One bad thing is that you don't ever have someone willing to help you out so you have to do everything yourself.  I detest doing my own vocal takes.  I'm far too critical and insecure about them.  My first instinct is to stop recording and fix everything with Auto-tune and studio trickery.  However, I was relatively in a peaceful state of mind from my rest and just wanted something down on tape.  So, I just kinda went for it.  No vocal warm up.  No multiple takes.  I sang the song three times straight through and did the essential backup vocals.  I then took a break and took Munky for a walk while I forgot about the takes themselves.  I returned and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  I had enough material to make a really decent composite vocal track!  So, after doing so and doing a bunch of other vocal tracks, I finished "Hypocrite", a song that honestly has been sitting around for the last 4 years to be finished

I listened to it in the car and still am pretty proud of it.  Yes, there are somethings I'd like to fix but they are very minor and if I do it right, you won't have a clue I fixed it .  Now, if I can just take this attitude going forward, the rest of the tracks should be finished by week's end!

Currently watching:
Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t - The Complete Third Season
Release date: 2006-10-03


Note: This was originally posted at Myspace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=459696052

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blog Grab Bag - 12/21/2008

I originally had posted up a really in-depth blog of grab bag items.  Since the moment of inspiration has past, I'm going to challenge my self to give one-sentence summaries with proper grammar and syntax of each I had originally written about.

  • A Not So Ho-Ho Christmas

    The Honda (Ho-Ho) got towed last week being left with a dead battery in front of Gorilla Tango Theatre after Salsa-Sketch, and after spending $400 total to get it out, it's parked outside of my building with 2 feet of snow on top of it.

     
  • Flagging Down Help

    I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a photographer to help with my photoshoot in order to generate some material for the new Courageous Rue website; it got flagged and pulled off for no apparent reason.

     
  • RueTape Progress

    With an ever approaching deadline of December 31st, I've laid down scratch vocals to "This One's For You" and tracked ideas for "Miscommunication".

     
  • Creative Agenda for 2009

    In 2009, I plan to take ballet lessons, stage combat training, on-camera workshops, put out a formal Courageous Rue record, play shows as Courageous Rue and with Static Republic, audition for more Second City stuff, tour with Salsation and Recapitulation, get a principle role in a movie and/or commercial, lose weight (it's an art onto itself), and be happy.

Alright MySpace, let's see if you accept this blog!

Currently watching:
Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t - The Complete Third Season
Release date: 2006-10-03


Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=458147028

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bad Girls Club - Why?

In the string of reality shows I choose to watch(albeit grudgingly), Oxygen's Bad Girls Club has been added to my repertoire.  This show I totally don't understand.  Not even Wikipedia was able to give me an understanding as to why this show is on TV other than watching a bunch of women with psychological and emotional issues fight.  They're supposed to be "working" on resolving their issues but every episode has them doing something completely counter-intuitive.  It makes me angry watching it...yet, I CAN'T TURN AWAY!  

I'm such a hypocrite. 

Currently playing:
Pimp My Ride
Release date: 2008-02-20



Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments athttp://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=456984188

Thursday, December 11, 2008

That Really Would’ve Wrecked My Night!

I could've fuckin' died tonight...

After a glorious night of directing improvisation, I had just got off my phone with my wife letting her know I was coming home and that everything was good.  I was jamming to Chingo Bling and looking forward to seeing my son.  While heading west on Wilson, I was at a dead stop.  I was about to turn left to head south on Central Park when I looked into my driver's side mirror and saw a mini-van about 15 feet behind me swerving to miss me heading 60 mph!  HOLY SHIT!  I didn't have enough time to do anything so I just sat in my car motionless as the mini-van vroomed by narrowly missing my car!  He then weaved crazily in the street, hit 4-5 parked cars and continued driving. 

I sat there in shock .  I had these thoughts all going in my head sat the same time:

- I COULD'VE FUCKIN' DIED TONIGHT!!! 
- Man, it was an act of God I didn't get hit at all.  Had he hit me going that fast, I really would've been in bad shape.
- Go after him!  Call 911 and give them his license plate number.
- Is the guy on drugs or drunk?!

I sat at the intersection in a daze having a hard time soaking in the magnitude of what just happened.  After about a minute, I decided to see if the van had stopped so I could get some info, but it was too late.  He had disappeared.

I am SOOOOO grateful I came out unscathed.  I get to see my family in one piece and for another night.  The shock hasn't completely worn off yet.  You can tell by the fact I used real curses in this blog vs my usual "fawk" and "sh*t" or "shite" verbiage.

Currently watching:
Crash (Widescreen Edition)
Release date: 2005-09-06


Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments athttp://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=455512694

Monday, December 8, 2008

Great Song Titles

I just returned from The Smashing Pumpkins show @ The Aragon tonight.  Here a song titles inspired by me observing the crowd:
  1. Fawk You(An Ode To Each of You)
    The title a play on a Pumpkins song title which is dedicated as an ode to no one.  There was so much apathy in the crowd tonight.  I felt like saying this to each of those standing there an not actively engaged.  Why buy tickets?!

  2. A Sense of Entitlement
    Why do girls think they can bump right into you and not expecting me to respond?  Why do they think they should be allowed to go up to the front of the crowd?  Just because they think they're good looking?  WTF?

  3. Now I'm Old
    I chose not to sing along with any of the hits tonight and let the people reliving their youth  do the work for me.  I was a total b-side mofo tonight.  I actually looked forward to the newest stuff that totally alientated 90% of the crowd.  99 Floors was pretty awesome for me.  Singing the new sh*t keeps me young .

  4. Forcin' It
    There were a couple of fools trying to start a mosh pit.  Why?  If the crowd isn't feeling it organicallym why force one?

  5. Disconnected Communication
    I saw so many mofos sitting in the back of the aragon texting and looking bored out of their minds.  Once again, why come to a rock show to not rock?  To not commune with other like-minded fans?  Or perhaps it's a commune of people that don't want really want to be a part of it...

  6. Change
    There's a lot of it going on.  I'm in the middle of it.  It's contagious.

  7. Dear Dad
    This one came to me while hearing Billy sing Medellia of the Grey Skies tonight.  It flashed me back to when I was on tour with Lonestar on the bus.  I made four 120 minute mixtapes of Pumpkins on them and this song was on it.  I remember what it felt like to feel pain due to hearing a simple song.  It got me thinking of what would make me feel like that again.
Currently listening:
The Unquestionable Truth, Pt. 1
By Limp Bizkit
Release date: 2005-05-03

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Recap of 2008

Today we celebrated Recapitulation's success in 2008 at the venerable Wells On Wells where we all first really hung out oh so long ago.  We became a formal theatre company, elected a board, did two long form show runs, performed auditions, got sponsorships, got advertising, had a successful fundraiser, and managed to still ike each other at the end of the tour!    Thank you Recapitulation for giving me something to really be proud of and be a part of.
Currently listening:
Mandy Patinkin
By Mandy Patinkin
Release date: 1990-10-25

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Family - A Nice Way To Remind Yourself Of Where You’ve Been And Where You Need To Go

I just returned from our first trip to Texas with the Baby Boy in tow for the Grandparents to see him.  It's been long over due as he's already grown so much in the last 10 weeks.  He's already in his 6-9 month baby clothes!   

While we were there, within the first two hours of arriving at my parent's house, I was already wanting to go home.    My Dad went had a lot of unbridled energy on this trip.  He would light up every time he saw the baby and would want to play with him.  It was very sweet to see and I do appreciate it, but the energy got really annoying quickly, because he got 100 times louder than normal and didn't give a damn about what else was going on around him .  So, let's say the baby is trying to sleep, he would creep up on him and start messing with him.  The second the baby starts crying, he would walk away for everyone else to deal with the gush of unhappiness    Now, I know grandparents have that luxury of being able to be with their grandchildren and not really deal with the after effects, e.g., spoil them to death, but this was a little bit too much .  

It took me a while to get adjusted to it and interact with my family on a different level.  I as no longer just "the son" but now I was "the father/son" which meant I could switch roles depending on the situation.  I didn't realize how much I tended to revert back to being a  little kid with my Mom around until the baby would start crying and then *bam* Daddy Mode kicked in and I would deal with them on an "adult" level.  It was interesting. 

I saw the best and worst of family along with myself on this trip.  I realized just how much I've grown up in the last 10 years and just how much more I need to do in the next 10.

Currently listening:
Death Magnetic
By Metallica
Release date: 2008-09-12

Note: This was originally posted on Myspace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=453934053

Friday, November 28, 2008

Be Truly Thankful....

and at a minimum call the people you wish a Happy Thanksgiving to!  DO NOT GIVE THEM SUCH AN IMPERSONAL GREETING LIKE A COT DAMN TEXT MESSAGE!!!!    Take the time out today (and everyday) to make a connection with them.   The person on the receiving end will truly appreciate the extra effort you put in, and in turn will be thankful for your presence in their lives.


Currently listening:
Super Mario Brothers & The Legend of Zelda Big Band Live

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=452254347

Monday, November 24, 2008

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Aretha!


I was in the shuttle yesterday awaiting the powers that be to show to shoot our part of the commercial.  We huddled into a van to escape the cold atop a parking garage next to the El (they had an entire production rig stuffed into two cars circling the loop running on the inside rack).  As we were waiting, the driver turned on NPR and they were doing a segment on the bastion of all professional audio studios - Antares AutoTune.

Per Wikipedia, Auto-Tune is a proprietary audio processor created by Antares Audio Technologies which uses a phase vocoder to correct pitch in vocal and instrumental performances. It is used to disguise inaccuracies and mistakes, and has allowed many artists to produce more precisely tuned recordings.  So, in other words, it creates believable yet unbelievable recordings .

One assertion the commentator made was that Aretha Franklin, considered one of the greatest singers of our time (as well as one of the biggest drama queens ), said "she's never heard of it".  As soon as I heard that, I was immediately incensed!  Perhaps it's my perception of her and my scorn towards the reverence given to her by people, but c'mon, anybody who's a recording artist knows about pitch correction and basic studio trickery used to make records.  She comes off to me as an even more pretentious diva when she implies to me that she's such a great singer, she's never needed it, thus, has never heard of it.  As a colleague pointed out to me, the probably used it on her records without telling her what they did.  Unless she's in the habit of letting people record her in any fashion and doesn't care about the output (highly unlikely), she's had to have heard of these tools. 

A large majority of mainstream records made (I'm going with at least 75%) use some level of unauthentic studio magic.  The commercial records you hear on the radio had a lot of work done to them to get them to sound that good.  Multi-tracking, arrays of effects and processors, drag-and-drop capability, and the digital domain have been in use for years to make records.In the old days, pieces of tape were shuttled around and spliced together to get awesome takes.  AutoTune is just another tool in the arsenal that's available to artists and producers.

Sometimes it's the performance of the vocal than its pitch that's more important to the overall recording.  If you sing something out of tune but it's believable and you make me feel it, it's forgivable.  I am not against using it as I've used it on some of my recordings but if an artist can do a performance without retuning, that's best thing that can happen.
Currently listening:
Believe
By Cher
Release date: 1998-11-10

Friday, November 21, 2008

Got The Job!...Well, Kinda...Well, No, Got It!

OK.  It looks like I got cast as a principle after all in the commercial.  I went for a fitting today.  I'm cautiously excited as things can always change at the last minute.  I shoot stuff Sunday!

Currently listening:
Chinese Democracy
By Guns N' Roses

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=450656599

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Got The Job!...Well, kinda

I got offered a part in the commercial I auditioned for.  I didn't get the part I auditioned for but was offered a part of the production.  I'm happy I finally landed some work at union scale but I'm disappointed a little bit in not being cast as a principle as I feel my auditioned kicked ass .  Oh well, gotta start somewhere.

It looks like I'm still on track to get cast as a principle in 2009.

Currently listening:
Smashing Pumpkins - If All Goes Wrong
Release date: 2008-11-11

  


Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=450038310

C’mon Michael! Man Up!

I have mad love for the sane-ish Michael of yesteryear.  The black man that gave us the Jackson 5, The Wiz, and Thriller.  The last worthwhile record I bought was Dangerous.  Then Michael lost his cot damn mind, butchered his face and body with unneeded cosmetic surgery, got jiggy with some kids (allegedly), released a wack ass solo record entitled Invincible, had a bunch of kids, got married a couple of times, and went on TV and creeped me the fawk out enough for me to shake my head and say "What the hell happened?!"

After Michael moved to Bahrain, there were rumors that he was resting up for a comeback of some sort.  Since every other country in the world outside the US is still in love with him (especially the Romanians!), I figured that he would be away from the circus he helped create, and that break allow him to concentrate on being an artist.  I also heard he was considering a run in Vegas a la Celine Dion and Cher.  Cool.  Yeah, it's not 1983 Michael Jackson but at least he's working.  Then I see this article and think to myself "Why do I even hold out hope for this guy?!" 

This is a note to Michael.  Michael, get your stuff together man.  Grow the fawk up!  If you aren't already seeing therapists, then go and see them.  If you have therapists now, fire each of them, and get some from another source.  Act like a man of 50 years of age and pay your bills, own up to your obligations, and live up to your potential!  Stop borrowing money to live a lifestyle you know you cannot afford.  Face your fears and reality.  If you want to continue to be an artist, great!  We would like to see it.  Underneath all the BS in your former life, the REAL MJ needs to stand up and show himself to the world.
Currently listening:
Dangerous
By Michael Jackson
Release date: 2001-10-16
 


This was originally posted on Myspace with comments at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=449988684

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We’ll Get ’Em Next Year! : Revisted

No, it's not a blog about those dismal Cubs losing every year and keeping their fan-base strong.  Rather I'm lamenting the fact I won't get new floors until the spring.  My floors are so wavy and buckled that you could launch yourself from one side of the room to the other if you ran fast enough   I had a contractor out today and he suggested we wait until next year before we rip out the floors and door to fix it.  We are going to stop gap the fix with some professional caulking to at least keep the drafts out.  
Currently watching:
The Sentinel
Release date: 2004-09-07

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don’t Count On It

The Smashing Pumpkins new DVD came out today.  I forgot to swing by a Best Buy to try to pick it up; however, I was by a LackLuster Blockbuster Video store.  I figure I'd swing by quickly, pick it up, get some popcorn, and watch the video as a family.  After parking, I notice a huge entourage of people standing outside.  There was a note on the door reading

OUR COMPUTERS ARE DOWN.  WE NEED TO REBOOT THE SYSTEM.  WE'LL REOPEN AT 3:30 PM.

I read the note at 3:47 PM   I thought out loud, "You've got to be kidding me.  Oh, we can't do any transactions because we don't have the expertise to use a regular cash register!  Our inventory will be off because we don't know how to do it without a computer!  I can't calculate sales tax! "  I am sure I oversimplified what effect the system being down is to the business but frankly I don't give a fawk. 

How many times have you tried to buy something but they couldn't sell it to you because there wasn't a bar code?  Or they scan it and it doesn't show up in the system?  Why should a company's lack of having a robust accounting system disallow me as a consumer from purchasing items? 

I call for the reinstatement for real cash registers!   I call for those people working fast food to have to actually think about dealing with real money vs. just pushing the colorful shape on the cash register that match the Happy Meal ordered!  I call for business to deal formally with their customers instead of letting the machines run their business!  THIS IS A CALL!

Currently listening:
Fore!
By Huey Lewis & the News
Release date: 2007-05-21


This was original posted on Myspace at http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=16074757&blogId=448262111

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Than A Feeling

I went to the musical improv jam today at SC to promote ISY:TIM in addition to play with some people I've never played before. It's been quite some time since I've been at SC performing so it felt good to walk up on the mainstage and feel right at home.

Todays' jam was the most fun I've had improvising. No judgements, no worries about rules or offending people, no titles to deal with, no dealing with past dramas, no expectation to succeed, no worries of failing, no agony of defeat; I was just a player amongst a group of people who were there for a good time and mess around for a good hour and a half. Some of my best characters and work came out today in the midst of some of the worst improv imaginable! It was cool because it was safe to just play. There were a lot of talented folks there and it was an honor to play with them as well.

The feeling I got today is the feeling I needed to remind myself of and need to carry to all my other more formal endeavors. Ultimately, it truly is about having fun.

Currently listening :
Boston
By Boston
Release date: 2006-06-13

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What a Historic Day

Some observations I've made today regarding this election:

  • This is the first presidential election in 8 years that ended relatively early. Pinche chads in Florida!

  • We've got a true African-American president in Obama. He holds a dual citizenship to Kenya and the US.

  • This may be the first step into getting Americans to truly unite. We truly are Americans at all time above all backgrounds and ethnicities.

  • Jesse Jackson cried at the post election rally. I couldn't help but wonder if they were tears of happiness or tears of envy.

  • There's a lot of talk about the white America vs. black America. I'm hoping Cheech Marin runs at some point. I want to be accused of voting for a Latino simply based on his skin color vs. supporting his issues.

  • I hope my son grows up to see know nothing about the level of divide we have in our country. I am inspired to think that we all get along from this point on.

  • OK. I get it. Oprah is in the audience. Oprah is rich and she supported him. I get it. TV Camermen, stop panning to her.

    I like, however, she was stuck with the regular people and was just a regular person. Low class, beatch!

  • Obama spoke quite well tonight. Fantastic speech.

It's time for a change for all of us. Embrace it.
Currently listening :
Barack Obama’s Speech on Race : A More Perfect Union
By Barack Obama
Release date: 2008-10-02

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16074757&blogID=446403239&Mytoken=C7152190-FF4B-46FF-B86B0B364D3FE8DB218552609

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Have More than Just One Job

While producing theatre shows over the last year, I've learned so much about what it takes to put on a successful production. It's no wonder why artists bloody HATE doing this work as it's not glamorous at all, people second guess you at every turn, and when you have to get something done, sometimes you have hurt and offend people's feelings so that they can put up the best show possible.

One of the many duties I've picked up is website design, maintenance, and group promotion. I've helmed the task of putting together the websites for two groups thus far, and after getting up something that I felt people wanted to look at, then the task of putting together things like newsletters, graphics, bios, show dates, ticket management, and contact information began. This task is like pulling teeth. I think to get one site up it took me a good solid week of 12-14 hour days to get the content together, and then once you look at it, it doesn't look like a whole lot Then maintaining it with news, pictures, and flashy presentations becomes the next task. After that is done, then keeping folks visiting the site and clicking on buying tickets or attending shows is the next challenge. It's all very time consuming and overwhelming at times.

As a result of doing this work, more time is being invested in my own projects as well. I've started to see the power of marketing and why so much time is devoted towards it. It's the ultimate art of manipulating people into doing something they wouldn't normally do . With no formal training, I've learned how to market with mailing lists, newsletters, various social networking entities, e.g., Myspace & Facebook, using press releases, print/posting flyers and posters, and hitting up online boards and chat rooms to promote. The game was stepped up by including seeking and getting advertising in programs, supporting fundraising activities, cross-promoting with other groups and companies, putting on promotions where it costs a little upfront but pays off in the end, getting radio, TV, and web spots, and the tried-and-true word of mouth promotions. Now I want to step up my game even more!

Yesterday I drove to Barnes and Noble looking for an escape from my 2 days of captivity in the house while the Wifey and Baby Boy went down souf to visit with family. I took a look at the marketing books and saw a lot of information there but nothing that was had "real world", practical marketing ploys. There was a lot of theory in the book which I do believe I need to read and understand, but at this time I would rather have something a bit more immediate that would touch on the theory along the way. I've been tinkering with the idea of taking a college entry-level class on marketing to get a more formal understanding of it as some point. I found nothing that I was willing to pay for and then left to get get some cheese from Julio's for the next day .

After I got to Julio's I shared with a bartender friend of mine my predicament of always thinking about what can be done to generate interest in all of my projects. He then turned me onto the Google Analytics, Keywords, Trends, and Adsense to help shape the online presence of these endeavors. After talking to him about it, I decided to try it out on a smaller scale as MySpace and Facebook are now getting into that space as well. I posted up an ad for the Courageous E.P. this morning around 1AM and had a very meager budget. In the span of 8 hours, I got 485 views of my ad! That's 485 more than I would've had without in my opinion. So, I am geeking out at the possibilities this could bring.

I feel like I may have a future in marketing. I'm not sure where exactly but this skill I'm developing is worth some money. I need to start hooking up with people in this industry to teach me more.

Currently listening :
Year of the Dog...Again
By DMX
Release date: 2006-08-01

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16074757&blogID=445448416&Mytoken=C7152190-FF4B-46FF-B86B0B364D3FE8DB218552609