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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Music of "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Before we get started here, a quick disclaimer. This is not going to be an academic look at the subject matter. Nor will this be from a musician's point of view. I'm not in the academic field and I sure as hell am not a musician either. And since I'm not a musician, there may well be times where I incorrectly use musical terminology or don't even use any proper terminology since, honestly, that's not in my sphere of reference. This is going to be me, shamelessly being a fanboy about one of my favorite film scores of all time. If that doesn't appeal to you, best to back out now.

Having said that, I'll go right ahead and state the obvious; I love The Nightmare Before Christmas! It easily one of my favorite movies. Not just a Christmas movie. Not just a Halloween movie. A movie that's perfect for watching any time of the year.

But I'm not here to talk about the movie today. While it is visually a masterpiece, I want to focus on the musical score for the film which was composed by one of my favorite composers, Danny Elfman. Now just a quick bit of background for those who may not be familiar. Danny Elfman is an American composer who served as lead singer and songwriter for the rock group Oingo Boingo in the late 70's through mid 90's. In 1985, director Tim Burton reached out to Elfman and asked him to write the score for his first feature film, Pee Wee's Big Adventure. And the rest, as they say, is history. Elfman has scored all of Tim Burton's films since then except for two, Ed Wood  and Sweeney Todd.

One of the biggest reasons that Elfman's music works so well with Burton's films, in my opinion at least, is the fact they both can switch tonal gears in a second. Things can go from quirky and whimsical to dark and brooding in the blink of an eye. Not to mention the occasional juxtaposition of these two tones as well. Take for example "Kidnap The Sandy Claws", an upbeat song in which a trio of trick-or-treaters gleefully sing about how they play to capture Santa Claus and then subject him to all kinds of torture afterward. And a prime example of tonal shift; after the Town Meeting scene, we see a montage of Jack conducting all sorts of scientific experiments in an effort to understand Christmas. Near the end of this montage, Sally, a rag doll-esque creation of the resident mad scientist, picks up up a dead flower which transforms into a beautifully trimmed Christmas tree in her hands. And then, just as quickly, it bursts into flames and burns up. The music that underscores this moment is so fitting; very soft strings, chimes and a slight accordion accompany Sally is she walks away from Jack's house and picks up the flower. As it transforms into the tree the strings become louder and some high brass enters the piece, culminating in a trumpet flourish. This quickly gives way to bass drums, low brass and mournful sounding bells as the tree goes up in flames. The piece concludes with the low notes of a cello as Sally looks on, shocked at what she had just witnessed.
To better hear what I mean, follow this link and listen from the 4:40 mark until the end of the video. It is superb!

In 2008 to help commemorate the movie's 15th Anniversary, Walt Disney Records released Nightmare Revisited. Nightmare Revisited was a cover album of the score to The Nightmare Before Christmas. 18 artists contributed their own unique takes on the music from the movie with Danny Elfman serving as narrator for the Opening and Closing tracks which appeared on the original soundtrack - originally done by Patrick Stewart, no less - but not in the movie itself. To say it's an eclectic mix of musicians would be an understatement. The fact that both Marilyn Manson and Korn are contributors to an album put by the Walt Disney Company would be enough to make most people's heads spin! But the album is nearly perfect in my opinion. The Plain White Ts do an amazing job with "Jack's Lament", Rise Against gives us a kick ass version of "Making Christmas" and you can't help but smirk a little when you hear Jonathon Davis sing "Kidnap The Sandy Claws". And the instrumental covers are great as well. The "Jack And Sally Montage" piece I mentioned earlier is covered by The Vitamin String Quartet and it sounds absolutely beautiful! And the duo Rodrigo y Gabriela turn "Oogie Boogie's Song" into a Latin guitar flavored instrumental cover.

Now you'll notice I said the album is almost perfect. There's one track on this album which I think is the worst song I have ever heard. It's the cover of "Jack Obsession" done by Sparklehorse. The vocals are terrible and the arrangement is garbage. And this particularly pissed me off because "Jack's Obsession" is my favorite song in the entire movie. There's a playlist here on YouTube that collects the entire tribute album together. If you're a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas and haven't heard anything from this album yet, I definitely recommend you give it a lesson. But skip over the Sparklehorse song. It's the audio equivalent of expecting some nice present and upon opening the box you find a shrunken head waiting for you instead.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

1 Day Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 3, Post-College

After I graduated from the University of Scranton, there was a period of 5 years which we'll refer to as "The Dark Times". During this time, I wasn't involved in theatre at all. This was mostly due to the fact that I was working pretty consistently in the evening. I still went to see shows when the opportunity presented itself, but I wasn't involved in a show at any point. I did audition for a couple of shows during this time, but nothing ever came of it. But this all changed when August of 2011 rolled around. I read that York Little Theatre was holding auditions for "The Music Man" the week before Labor Day. Just on a whim, I decided to go and audition after I got home from work that afternoon. I figured it would be worth a shot since it was another show I was familiar with. I was hoping for one of the non-singing roles, like the Mayor or Charlie Cowell, the rival salesman. And if I didn't get either of those, I figured I'd probably be cast in the Ensemble. Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later I was contacted by the music director who said he wanted to try and meet up with the members of the Barbershop Quartet before the first rehearsal. Wait, what?!? I'm part of the Barbershop Quartet? I don't even read music! For the longest time, I kept wondering if maybe they had made some sort of mistake with this casting decision. But as we got closer to opening night, my confidence grew and I felt more and more at ease with things. I was finally back on stage after so long, and it felt great!

After "The Music Man" closed, I quickly auditioned for the next show in the season which was a farce called "Leading Ladies" written by Tony Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig who, believe it or not, is from York, PA. And the show also took place in York as well. How d'you like that? The only bad part of working on this show was I got incredibly sick the second weekend. That was unpleasant in and of itself. But add to the fact that my character did a lot of yelling in the show, my voice was pretty much shot by the time we closed. Despite this, it felt good to do a play again.

A few weeks after "Leading Ladies" closed, I got a call from my friend Chelsea who I had met through being in "Leading Ladies". She was directed a production of "The Taming of the Shrew" for a group in Dover called OrangeMite Studios and they needed a few more guys to round out their cast and asked me if I would be interested. Well, of course I jumped at the chance to be involved! It was another new experience for me since the performance space was a converted barn, so this was my first time working an outdoor venue. So far, that was the first and only time I've done a show for OrangeMite. But I look forward to hopefully being involved in another show sometime soon.

I spent most of the summer preparing for my next audition, the South Central PA premiere of "Avenue Q" at York Little Theatre. I love Avenue Q! I was lucky enough to see it twice while it was on Broadway and think it's one of the most original pieces of theatre even written in the last decade. I was determined to be involved in this show. I chose the song "I Believe" from the musical "The Book of Mormon" as my audition piece and drilled that song constantly for close to three months leading up to the auditions. All my efforts were worth it as I was cast as The Newcomer and also served as an additional puppeteer for the show. In all, I helped operate four different puppets over the course of the show. It was definitely a challenge, but I loved every minute of it!

As 2012 started, I went to the other side of the stage and served as Stage Manager for York Little Theatre's production of "Godspell". It was my first time working as SM for YLT and also working as SM since graduating from college close to six years earlier. Again, it was a challenging experience since it was, once again, a step up in responsibilities from college to community theatre. But in the long run, I enjoyed my time working on the show and will gladly Stage Manage a show at York Little Theatre again. It'll depend on finding the right show though, so we'll see when this will be.

Most recently, I had worked on "The Producers" at York Little Theatre over the summer. I was in the Ensemble for this show and played a wide variety of characters ranging from a blind violinist (who, by the way, got to utter the line "It's good to be the king!"), a horrible auditioner and former British Prime Minister William Churchill. Talk about range, am I right?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm currently in rehearsals for York Little Theatre's production of "The Rocky Horror Show". I'm so glad to be a part of this show and am loving every second I'm involved. It's interesting because, with the exception of a couple of people, I've worked with everyone else involved in the show before. I know this is going to be a great production when everything comes together. I can't wait until we open!

Well, there you have it. Looking back, it's hard to believe that theatre was such a non-entity for most of the first half of my life. I'm glad I finally embraced it and have striven to be as involved as I can these last 15 years. Theatre has proven to be an invaluable resource in my life, I honestly believe that anyone that has to work retail or in the customer service industry should take some basic theatre courses.

The most important thing I've been able to take away from all my time involved in theatre is the many friendships that I have developed as a result. A lot of the people I have met in theatre are some of my closest friends to this day. The people you meet through theatre can be close to you as family since you spend so much time with them over the course of several months. I wouldn't have traded any of my time with any of them for anything. So for that, I say thank you to everyone I've ever known through the theatre. Thank you for being there for me and helping me become the man I am today.

And thank you to everyone who stuck with me through this "30 Days Til 30" project. We made it! Now, I look forward to a nice, relaxing day tomorrow as I celebrate. Thanks for reading! See you around!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2 Days Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 2, College

August 2002, I'm now officially a college Freshman enrolled at the University of Scranton. Not long after arriving on move-in day, I learn about auditions for the first show of the year being produced by The University Players, the academic theatre program's group. The show is William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". This is perfect! I was familiar with the show since I worked on it when I was a Freshman in high school. So I went in and auditioned the first night, got a callback a couple of nights later and was finally cast as Snug/The Lion, one of the "mechanicals" who perform the play-within-the-play that happens near the end of the show. Not long after that, I was cast in the second show of the year called "The Foreigner" where I played a character named Ellard, a "slow" but kind-hearted Southern kid. I think it could easily be called my most memorable role since people would bring it up to me continuously for years afterwards. It's nice to know I made an impact.

Sophomore year was the time for me to expand my horizons. The first show that year was "The Fantasticks", a musical. And even though I still didn't consider myself much of a singer, I decided to audition all the same because it was another show I was familiar with having seen a production of it while in high school. There are two characters in the show who are aging actors and don't do a whole lot of singing, so I figured I'd be good for one of those roles. Lo and behold, I was eventually cast as Mortimer, an old actor who specialized in death scenes. It was a great comedic role. Plus I got to dress as a pirate in Act 2. So that's always nice. The next show I was cast in was "Our Country's Good", a play about a group of Royal Marines and convicts at a penal colony in New South Wales. It was the first dramatic role I had ever played and was an interesting change of pace from all the comedic character work I had done in past shows. A few months later, I would be involved in the biggest challenge I'd ever faced in theatre up to that point. Notices were posted, "Audition for The 24-Hour Musical!" What could this mean? Basically the task was to audition, cast, rehearse and perform a musical all in the span of 24 hours. And as an added wrinkle, no one outside of the people organizing the show were told what it was until casting had concluded. Eventually, I became Erronius in the one night production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum". It was a very interesting 24 hours with plenty of entertainment happened both on and off stage during the late night hours. The production itself was filmed along with plenty of behind the scenes and off-stage footage. Unfortunately, that footage has been lost to time but I'll always have the memories of that first night, and following morning and the performance.

Fall semester of my Junior year was a very difficult time for me. My parents had split up the week before my 21st birthday in mid-September, a few weeks later my girlfriend of two years broke up with me and about a month later was dismissed from the University for potentially being "a danger to herself and others". Yeah, heavy stuff. Thankfully, I had theatre and the University Players to help me through this tough time. Funny thing though, the shows I was involved in during this time dealt with some pretty heavy subject matter. "Dead Man Walking: The School Project" was an adaptation of the critically acclaimed book and movie of the same name produced exclusively for use in the context of academic theatre. We were actually the first University to put on the show. A high school in California performed the show first a couple weeks before we opened so they had distinction of being the first school to perform it. I was part of the ensemble playing a variety of characters, including a prison guard who yells the titular line. Right after the show closed, it was right into the next one, "The House of Bernarda Alba"; A really uplifting play about a widow who forces her five daughters to live in seclusion with her following the death of her husband and it ends with one of the daughters hanging herself. Yeah, not a lighthearted romp. For this show, I worked as the Assistant Stage Manager for the first time in my college theatre career. Spring semester rolled around and I was back on stage in "Madmen and Specialists", a play about the aftermath of the Nigerian civil war. Needless to say, the cultural context and impact was somewhat lost on us being a bunch white kids going to school in Northeast Pennsylvania. If there's anything notable to be said about this show, it's the first time I've been killed on stage. So there's that. The year closed out with "Strange Snow" and once again I was Assistant Stage Manager. So, here it was. Three-quarters of the way through my college years and I had gained plenty of experience both on stage and on production staff. What would Senior year bring? Read on.

Fall semester of Senior year ran the gamut of plays starting with Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit", followed by Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and finally Bertold Brecht's "The Caucasian Chalk Circle". A classic comedy to a classic drama to a look into the world of epic theatre. These shows came one right after the other in quick succession, so it was a very busy semester to say the least. It also was the last time I appeared onstage in a show at the Royal Theatre. My final show at the University of Scranton was a return to the position of Stage Manager for the University Players' production of "Urinetown: The Musical" in April. I felt like I had much more responsibility working on this show than I did on "...Dreamcoat" back in high school. Of course, that's seems to be a fairly obvious observation given the jump from high school to college theatre and the change in scope between the two environments.

I graduated from the University of Scranton in May of 2006 with a Bachelor's Degree in English and a minor in Theatre. I am eternally grateful for the time I spent with the University Players and the theatre program as a whole. It helped me grow as an actor, a stage manager and - most importantly - as a person.

But my story is not over yet. Come back tomorrow for the final act.

Monday, September 16, 2013

3 Days Til 30 - Fundraising Event Coming Up

Today's blog post is dedicated to promoting a fund raising event that a friend of mine is participating in next weekend; The 2nd Annual iPads for Autism Fall Festival at Indian Acres Tree Farm in Medford, NJ is taking place on September 28th from 10:00 until 4:00. This fundraiser enables the school to provide the much needed technology to students with Autism. The iPad gives students a tool to learn and communicate more efficiently and effectively. This resource allows the student to achieve a more independent life style and creates responsibility for one self. This invaluable equipment allows students to make and follow their own daily schedules, communicate more fluently, and learn at a higher acquisition rate. More information can be found at the following website;

My friend Chrissy will be at the event as a vendor for Scentsy, the popular candle warmer company. All proceeds will go to the organization and if you can't be there in person, click the link below to shop and participate!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and check out the event on the 28th if you're free or shop online to contribute to the cause.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

4 Days Til 30 - Still So Many Questions

It's been 3 months since CHIKARA's "Anniversario: Never Compromise" and we are still left with more questions than answers, especially in the wake of this weekend where an Icarus-led rally in Philadelphia seems to have resurrected "MysteriumP" & the remaining members of the group GEKIDO stormed a Wrestling Is Intense show and forcefully demanded the promotion be shut down.

I still am having a hard time wrapping my head around everything. And I'm assuming that more than a few of you reading this have no clue what in the hell I'm talking about. Well, if you have some time to put aside for some reading, click that link below and consider yourself informed.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

5 Days Til 30 - An Incident At Work

I don't post often about work these days. Why would I? Most of it wouldn't be worth reading if I'm being honest. But this is something I just feel I needed to share.

Brief bit of background for those who don't know; I work as a tech at a pharmacy. One of the aspects of that job is we call insurance companies if there is an issue with a prescription that is causing it to not be covered. Today, we were working on a prescription for a patient and this issue popped up; the insurance company was claiming it was too soon to fill the medication citing it was filled earlier that day by our pharmacy. What likely happened was we had filled the same medication for another patient in the family and both profiles had the same birthday in our system. The patients, however, were not twins. The profile that was rejecting had a note highlighting what the actual birthday was, the incorrect birthday was in our system because it was possible that the insurance company may have had that date in their records and if the date was changed, the insurance wouldn't cover as a result. I know, it sounds stupid but I've run into that situation more times than I care to recall.

Anyway, I call the insurance provider's help desk number and after initially speaking to a customer service representative, I am told they need to transfer me to another department in order to resolve the issue and the hold time should be about 1 to 2 minutes. I say fine and wait to be transferred. 20 minutes pass and I'm still on hold. Nothing has happened. I hang up. Not long after that, the patient's mother returned looking to pick up the order. I explained the situation to her and said I would attempt to call again. Thankfully, the lady was very understanding about everything. I hate to say it, but that reaction is something of a rarity. So very often people become upset and confrontational when told their medications are not ready. And that gets very old after a while.

So after some time passed, I attempted to call again. Same exact thing happened; Initial representative tells me I need to be transferred, it should take 1-2 minutes, and it was once again a 20 minute hold time. I was less than thrilled, to say the least.

The pharmacist then suggested trying to change the patient's date of birth to what was noted as the correct date. Neither of us figured it would work since we were under the impression that the insurance company had the wrong date on file and it would continue to reject. But I went ahead and made the change anyway. Guess what happened. Go on, guess. Yeah, we got a paid claim. Again, I was kinda pissed. Don't get me wrong, I was glad we had finally resolved the issue. But I just wish we thought to try that earlier so I wouldn't have wasted close to 40 minutes on hold! 5 minutes later, the patient's mother called and I explained the situation to her but ultimately culminated in telling her we got everything resolved. She was thrilled.

So, yeah, that was the "big thrill" for today. Yeah, I got nothing. I don't really know how to end this post. See you tomorrow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

6 Days Til 30 - Making Progress

Day 16 of "Operation Mutton Chops". Now it's finally starting to look like something.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

7 Days Til 30 - One Week To Go

Man, time has really flown by these past 3 weeks. 1 more left! I wonder what the next 7 days will have in store for me

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

8 Days Til 30 - Always Remember, Never Forget

12 years ago, the world changed. I remember where I was when I heard; Sitting in English class my Senior year of high school when the principal's voice suddenly came over the P.A. system informing us of the planes hitting the towers of the World Trade Center. He instructed the teachers not to turn on any of the TVs in the classrooms and that we would be kept informed on any further developments.

It still feels very surreal to me each time I see a shot of the New York City skyline in something made before the year 2000 and I have to remind myself that it doesn't look like that any longer.

"All gave some. Some gave all." Take a moment today to remember all those who were effected by the events of September 11, 2001

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9 Days Til 30 - I Love Wrestling Is

Wow, into the single digit days now! And once again, I'm plugging someone else I enjoy! "Wrestling Is" can be considered a spin-off group of CHIKARA Pro, my favorite indy wrestling company. And they post a multitude of videos on their channel every week. Sometimes it's promos for upcoming shows, original programming or even full matches from past events. Go check 'em out on YouTube and have some fun!

Monday, September 9, 2013

10 Days Til 30 - Daily Updating Is Difficult

Man, it's hard trying to come up with stuff to post on a daily basis. Not just purely in terms of coming up with content, but also finding the time to be able to post it during the day. Case in point, right now! As I type this it's 11:02 PM and Monday is almost over. I didn't have the time post anything earlier because I had work all day and then rehearsal right after I got off work. And that's the way the pattern is going to be the rest of the this week. Well, except for Friday when I have off. But for the next couple of days, it might be a bit of a scramble to get something typed up and posted online within the daily window.

And yet, there are others who do it seemingly effortlessly. And I think you should check them out!

TheTimTracker on YouTube

Videos posted by a guy named Tim and his wife Jen. They live in Florida and are definitely theme park aficionados. That being said, many of my favorite videos involve them at either of the Disney or Universal parks. But there are also videos not dealing with thrill rides, but about the minutia of daily life which are also entertaining. I encourage giving him a look;

Keith and the Girl

A daily podcast featuring comedian Kieth Malley and his ex-girlfriend Chemda. How best to describe this? Honestly, I don't think anything I say could accurately do it justice. It's something you must listen to and experience yourself in order to truly appreciate it. Bring an open mind, though. If you're really hung up on political correctness, you're likely going to be offended. And to that, I say "Good!";

The Preston and Steve Show on WMMR

"Wait a minute", I hear you say. "This doesn't count! It's a radio show. They have to do it everyday, it's their job". True. But that doesn't mean it doesn't belong on this list. And, they also have the show edited down into a daily podcast for people to listen to which is great if you don't live in the Philadelphia area or can't listen live for any other reason. Just sit back, relax, yell out "Gadzooks!" and enjoy the funny!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

11 Days Til 30 - Answer This

The sole question I received was this one from a former co-worker of mine.

Why does my medication cost so much, sir? And what is this thing that you call "a deductible"?

Don't worry, I've already scolded him for his insolence. But these questions are not uncommon ones, working in a retail pharmacy. The best answer I can give for both of these is "If you give your insurance provider a call, they can explain to you in better detail." Because we don't have the answers. We bill online, they send a price back to us and that's the extent of it. And as far as deductibles go... I dunno. I just work here, I don't claim to understand everything.

Thank you and good night.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

12 Days Til 30 - Building The Blu-Ray Co

A couple of months ago, I bought a Blu-Ray player on a whim. I also bought two movies to start out my library; The Rocky Horror Picture Show (big surprise) and Wreck-It Ralph, my favorite movie of last year. Tonight, I finally added a few more titles. Once again, on a whim.

I went to Target tonight hoping to find the ressurected monster cereals, Fruity Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute. I did, but that's not the point of this post. I picked up four of the greatest, quotable movies the 1980s ever gave us; Caddyshack, The Princess Bride, Spaceballs and Little Shop of Horrors. And yes, I consider Little Shop a quotable movie. I am a theatre nerd, after all.

Friday, September 6, 2013

13 Days Til 30 - I'm Exhausted

This has been such a long week. Pulling in extra hours at work, up early today to get my car fixed, and it's still not over yet. Really looking forward to being off on Sunday.

Not much else to say today. Just wanted to make a quick post for today. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

14 Days Til 30 - 1 Week Later

It is now Day 8 of "Operation Mutton Chops".  They're starting to stubble in, so I'd call that progress. 6 weeks to go until we open.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

15 Days Til 30 - Intermission; A Plug For Someone Else

Well, we've made it to the halfway point of this project. Thanks for sticking with me thus far. For this post, I'm going to take a break from focusing on me and instead focus on another project that I am not associated with but I think is a great idea.

In this post you'll find a link to a Kickstarter campaign for a movie called "Rocky Horror Saved My Life", a fan-made documentary about The Rocky Horror Picture show, its fans, collectors and live shadowcast performers. The filmmakers plan to travel the country throughout 2014 to meet with and interview as many fans and performers as they can for this film which is slated to premiere in the fall of 2015 to celebrate the movie's 40th anniversary.

I think it sounds like a great project and it's one I'm definitely going to back. If you love Rocky Horror or independently produced documentaries, I think it would be worth your time to check out their page and pitch video. Link is included right down there for your clicking and viewing pleasure. Have a nice night!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

16 Days Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 1, High School

Believe it or not, I wasn't always the theatre devotee that I am today. For a long time, I didn't think very much about theatre. Particularly musicals. I admit, I was kind of a cynical kid and thought musicals were stupid. People suddenly bursting into song and dance randomly out of nowhere, how absurd! Things changed pretty suddenly as I entered high school though.

First day of Freshman year, I quickly decided that being on the football team would not be the right path for me. So after returning my gear that morning, I went through the day wondering where it would take me. After lunch, I saw a flier on one of the bulletin boards outside a classroom. It has audition and production staff information application information for the Fall musical. Normally, I probably wouldn't have cared. However, something caught my eye. The show that Fall was "Damn Yankees". The previous year, my 8th grade class had gone to a local high school to see their annual Spring musical which was  "Damn Yankees". I really enjoyed the when I saw it at Camden Catholic and since I was familiar with the show, I decided to apply to be on the production staff. I applied for the position of Assistant Stage Manager and, much to my surprise, was chosen to be one of the ASMs. My time with the Cape & Sword Drama Society at St. Joe's Prep began this day!

During my time at the Prep, I severed as Assistant Stage Manager for four shows there; "Damn Yankees", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Little Shop of Horrors" and "The Music Man". I loved every second of my time there. I learned a lot from everyone involved with each passing show. I auditioned for "Midsummer..." and "Little Shop" but didn't get cast in either. Though why I auditioned for "Little Shop" I'm still not particularly sure about. I remained firmly a part of the production staff because most of the shows they did were musicals and I really didn't consider myself to be a singer by any stretch of the imagination. Not that it mattered all that much to me, I was just glad to be involved.

The summer after my Sophomore, my family moved from Cherry Hill, NJ to York, PA. Spring of my Junior year, I got involved in the theatre program at York Catholic High School by serving as the Assistant Stage Manager for their production of "The King & I". That semester, I also began my experience working on stage crew since that apparently went hand-in-hand with being on production staff. I have to be honest, I never really enjoyed stage crew work. I'm not a handy person or good with tools so I was always concerned I'd screw something up. To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that ever happened. So, yeah, good for me.

That summer, I took some classes at York Little Theatre. I don't remember the exact names of the classes, but I remember one was a class about improv and the others dealt with scene work. It was during this time that I became determined to branch out and hopefully start to act as well as work backstage.

Senior year, in the fall I finally made my debut on stage. The Senior Play that year was "M*A*S*H*" and I was cast in the role of Colonel Henry Blake, the commanding officer of the hospital who was played by McLean Stevenson on the TV show. My first appearance in the show had me entering wearing thermal underwear, boots and a winter hat. Got to admit, that's a hell of a first impression to make!

Not long after the Senior Play finished, I auditioned for a show at York Little Theatre for the first time. It was a play in the Children's Theatre Series called "The Trickster" by French playwright Moliere. I was cast as a gypsy/pirate named Andres who served as an antagonist in the second act. It was an interesting run, 10 performances over the course of two weekends. It was kind of draining since I wasn't used to doing two shows a day during Saturdays and Sundays, but - once again - I loved every second of it.

That Spring, I decided to step up and take the reins as Stage Manager for the musical that year which was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". I didn't really do a whole lot during the rehearsal process aside from watch since the show is entirely sung through so there really weren't any line notes to give. Once Tech Week rolled around and I was actually calling cues as the show unfolded, I felt great! It was an incredible feeling to know I was the one controlling the show. I heard nothing but positive comments which was, as one would expect, a total ego boost.

As high school came to an end, it was time to start planning for college. I'd be starting at The University of Scranton as an English major that Fall. At the open house, I heard many great things about the English program and the Theatre program as well. I was ready to immerse myself in the world of college theatre and continue to improve my skills both on and off stage.

Monday, September 2, 2013

17 Days Til 30 - An Opportunity For Interactivity

So I had this idea. For the remainder of this week, you have the opportunity to ask me any questions you want. I'll answer them in a blog post here this coming Sunday. Feel free to post your questions here in the comments or send me a message on Facebook or E-mail me at

I'm looking forward to seeing the response I get for this. Have a good week, everyone!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

18 Days Til 30 - I Just Don't Understand

So I've been on this planet for almost 3 decades now. There are many mysteries of life that I still don't comprehend but there is one that baffles me over all of them. What is the big obsession with pumpkin flavored stuff?

Seriously. Why do people get so excited about it? Every year around this time I see people gleefully posting on Facebook and Twitter that they've found pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin muffins or any number of pumpkin flavored products. I honestly don't get it.

Maybe it's because I'm not a fan of pumpkin myself. Lots of people like pumpkin pie, that staple of dessert at Thanksgiving. I, however, don't like it. It's been several years since I've had it, but I didn't like it the first time I tried it. Personally, cheesecake is my preferred dessert of choice at Thanksgiving. And don't try to give me that "Why not try a pumpkin cheesecake?" nonsense. My mom tried that one year and it wasn't very well received at all.

Honestly, I'd appreciate it if anyone could explain to me why people lose their minds over pumpkin flavored foods and beverages. Who knows, maybe you'll even convince me to give it a try. Go ahead, I'm listening.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

19 Days Til 30 - My Brief Life In Team/School Sports

I know, it sounds unbelievable. But, yes, I did actually play sports for a time when I was a kid.

We'll start with 4th Grade. I don't recall what events lead to the formation, but this was the year when a 4th Grade boys basketball team was organized at Queen of Heaven in Cherry Hill, NJ. Not much came of it though since there weren't any other schools in the area that had teams of a similar age range. So it was more or less time spent practicing and playing against one another. It was an OK time, I guess. Any excuse to get kids to spend more time playing together.

5th Grade was when sports became a big deal since guys were finally able to try out for the JV basketball team. And I, just for the hell of it, decided to give it a shot. Since it was the JV team, I think everyone who came out for the team was allowed to play. I mean, I was on the team and I wasn't in anything even remotely resembling peak physical condition. But again, I think it was another case of getting kids together and having them actually engaging in physical activity instead of sitting around and watching TV or playing video games. Since I was on the team, my dad was part of the coaching staff. I'm not sure if he volunteered or got roped into it since I was involved, but nevertheless he was there for every practice and every game. Don't worry, this didn't turn into one of those cliched moments you see in movies or TV shows where the coach's son is treated like the star player and sees a ridiculous amount of game time. It was evident that my basketball skills were... let's say "mediocre" at best. Don't get me wrong, I understood the basics of the game - dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, and so on. But there were plenty of people on the team who were much better than me. That is to say, pretty much everyone else. But I did see time on the court. I wasn't a great player, but I did manage to score a whopping 12 points throughout my starred career. Funny thing, each basket I made was at an away game. Well, maybe it's not that funny now that I think about it. Not ironic either. I guess, if anything, it's... um... a fact. Yeah, I got nothing. I did the JV team thing again in 6th grade and even tried out for Varsity in 7th grade. It's no surprise to me that I was cut after tryouts. Oh well, it didn't really matter to me. That was the end of my time playing basketball.

Being an overweight kid, I didn't wear a "traditional" jersey. Most likely because they didn't carry one in my size. Even if they did, I'd probably have worn a t-shirt under it since I would've been more comfortable that way. That's what I did when wearing my singlet for wrestling, but more on that later. If need be, I'm sure I could just worn a plain blue t-shirt (since our school colors were blue & white) and maybe gotten some iron-on transfers for numbers to go on the back of it. Instead, I was given a different jersey. It was a girls' basketball jersey. No, seriously, I was told flat out that's what it was. It basically looked like a t-shirt but the material was a dark, shinier blue. This is what they found that would fit me? And it was still a bit on the tight side. I don't think any of the opposing players ever took me seriously. But then again, why would they? "Check out this fat kid trying to keep up playing basketball! What is he thinking?" I even remember some punk ass kid from some team saying to me in the bathroom before one game, "Hey, if we win, your ass is grass. If you guys win, your ass is grass". So, let me get this straight; This little prick basically threatened to beat me up regardless of the outcome of the game. Did I say anything to anybody about it at the time? No. I didn't think much about it. Besides, I didn't think anything would happen to me after the game since I wasn't planning on spending any time away from the team and my dad after we were finished. Besides, what was he going to do? Approach me as I was leaving with my dad and try to kick my ass? I'm sure this guy went on to be a big star in the NBA and is making a living off his numerous merchandising deals and... oh, wait, no, I'm sure he's probably just some guy leading an average life who has since stopped playing basketball since it's not how he's making his living. I know I may sound sort of embittered, but honestly, what does one gain by trying to bully an overweight kid you don't know and have never seen before in your life? Kids are dumb, there's no two ways about it. 

I started wrestling in 5th grade as well since a good friend of mine was involved in it. However, Queen of Heaven didn't have a wrestling team. So we were part of the team for St. Peter's in Merchantville, NJ. It's important to note that wrestling and basketball seasons intersected so when I started with St. Peter's, I was still on the JV basketball team at Queen of Heaven. Basketball practices were Monday and Wednesday evenings while wrestling practices were Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I definitely kept myself active during that time, but I was still overweight. At practices, I usually drilled with the coaches or my dad since they were technically the closest to my weight class. Most of the time at matches I ended up wrestling in the heavyweight division since many of the school didn't have guys in my weight class and it wasn't uncommon for me to take on guys who outweighed me by 20 or more pounds or were even older than me by a couple of years depending on the time frame of reference. 

I stuck with wrestling all the way through 8th grade. I guess I enjoyed it more than basketball and was probably better at it in the long run. Though, I will admit, I wasn't that great of a wrestler. I had a lot of factors going against me. For one, I never was a quick kid. Speed is a very important aspect of wrestling, almost as important as strength if you ask me. And lacking that, it wasn't very uncommon for me to end up on my back looking up at the lights as the referee counted the pin. Also, I've worn glasses since I was 9 years old. And, let's be honest, if there's one sport where you cannot wear glasses and safely participate, it's wrestling. So blurry vision while competing, also not conducive to winning. Occasionally I would go to meets or tournaments and not have a single match and end up just sitting around most of the day. I didn't win very often. In some tournaments I would win via forfeit being the only person in my weight division. But I do have one legit win to my name. It happened so quickly that I barely remember it, but at one meet when I was in 8th grade I succeeded in pinning my opponent in the second period. It may be the only win I ever had, but it was via pin and that made me feel pretty damn good! As it turned out, this was also the day where I ended up wrestling in either 4 different matches over the course of the day. With the last two matches coming one right after the other. Needless to say, I didn't last very long at that point. One of the team dads made large wooden pins as trophies for guys on the team who achieved victories via pinfall. I received one of those the following week as well as something an extra, a wooden barbell trophy to commemorate the fact I wrestled a large number of matches at that meet. That was really cool. I still have both of these trophies as you can see here.

After graduating from 8th grade, it was time to get ready for the next step in life - high school. In the fall of 1998, I would be attending St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia, PA. And for reasons I still can't quite fathom, that summer I decided I would train to get ready to be on the Freshman football team. Again, I have no clue why this idea entered my head. I've never been a fan of football nor had I ever shown any interest in playing it before. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume my dad had some influence in my decision to pursue this course of action. Anyway, he and I would go to a school in the area and train together. Running on the football field or the track the enveloped the grassy area a couple of times a week. The first practice was on a Sunday afternoon in late August, the day before the first day of school. We all went to St. Joe's to get our gear and get introduced to the coaches. Then practice began with us running from the Prep to Girard College, half a mile away. Once we got to the campus, there was more running. And then, some more running. And finally, the day was capped off with even more running. I was not accustomed to this. Yes, my dad and I had done lots of running at the high school near us during the weeks leading up to this. But that was in the evening when temperatures were beginning to cool off and out near the suburbs of South Jersey. This practice was in the early afternoon and not too far from Center City Philadelphia. It was scorchingly hot out that day. By the end of practice, I was dehydrated and miserable. I cried most of the way home telling my dad I didn't think this was for me. He told me I should calm down and think about it before making a decision. I'm sure he meant I should take a couple of days to think it over, but later that evening at home I said I was positive that I didn't want to play football because I was sure it wasn't for me. I can't help but think I may have really disappointed him with my decision, though I don't think he made any indication one way or another. Besides, no time like high school to start asserting yourself somewhat in making your decisions. I certainly didn't feel like being miserable day in and day out just because I was worried about whether or not my dad would be disappointed in me. 

The first day of school game and I brought my gear with me on the bus that morning. When we pulled up to the Prep, my first order of business was to go to the equipment room to meet up with the coach and return everything. I told him I didn't think I'd be a good fit for the team and, upon returning my equipment, thanked him for his time. So, I was a football player for all of one day. A friend of mine from St. Joe's and I still joke about this since he was the the first practice as well and he also decided that it was not for him that day. "Can you believe we toyed with the idea of being on the Freshman football team", I'd always say. "What in the Hell were we thinking?" That was the first and last time I ever got involved with high school sports. Later that day, I saw a flyer on a bulletin board for a different activity that would change my life forever. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

Friday, August 30, 2013

20 Days Til 30 - Why Not Join SliceThePie?

Hey there, everyone! Do you like music? Sure, we all do. Would you like to listen to new music, write a review about it and get paid to do so? Well then, check out  Just click the link below and sign up using the referral link. There's nothing quite like exposing yourself to new music, plus getting paid to do so as well.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I promise to have a couple more extensive entries coming up this weekend. But until then, go ahead and click the link below.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

21 Days Til 30 - It Begins

Here we go, Day 1 of "Operation Mutton Chops". For a bit more of an explanation, see yesterday's post.

Nothing really to show so far, but that's due to the fact I did shave yesterday. We'll see how this goes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

22 Days Til 30 - "Rocky Horror" Rehearsals Have Begun

We're almost through the first week of rehearsals for "The Rocky Horror Show" at York Little Theatre. Things are going well so far. Well, I guess that's to be expected since we're so early in the process. I can't speak highly enough about the people involved, most of whom I've worked with before in one capacity or another. I had actually joked not too long ago that it's been close to two years since I've gotten re-involved at YLT, at some point I'll look at a cast list and go "Yep, I know all of these people". Well, that happened with this show. I should be facetiously prophetic more often.

Monday was a read-through and rough sing-through of the show with last night and tonight focused on learning the music in greater depth. I think everyone sounds pretty good so far, I can only imagine how even better we'll sound as we get closer to opening night.

First dance rehearsal is tomorrow night. We'll be working on "Eddie's Teddy" and "The Time Warp". Should be an interesting and long night. I don't mind, of course. I'm looking forward to it.

Tonight, Lee - the director - told me he'd like me to try and grow mutton chops for the show. This should be interesting. The aesthetic the director is going for with this production is Steampunk, and what little knowledge I have about the sub-genre has shown me that this is a common look for men. We'll see how this goes. A friend of mine suggested I do a time lapse video of the process. I think it's a cool idea, but I have neither the time, patience or equipment to do so and to do it well. But I will document the process through pictures probably every week or so. I'll likely post them on here in addition to Facebook and Twitter so keep an eye out for those.

Guess that's all I have for now. Hard to believe it's almost September and my birthday inches ever closer.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

23 Days Til 30 - Movies I Have Seen

So earlier I took a look at the IMDB Top 250 and listed the big name movies on there I haven't seen. Well, why not go with the other side of the proverbial coin with this one; movies on IMDB's Top 250 list that I have seen. Here goes.

Pulp Fiction
The Dark Knight
Schindler's List
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Forrest Gump
The Silence of the Lambs
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Dr. Strangelove
Back to the Future
Life Is Beautiful
Citizen Kane
American Beauty
The Green Mile
Toy Story 3
A Clockwork Orange
Lawrence of Arabia
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Lion King
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Batman Begins
Toy Story
The Big Lebowski
Good Will Hunting
The Sixth Sense
Sin City
The Wizard of Oz
My Neighbor Totoro
Annie Hall
Finding Nemo
The Terminator
Stand By Me
Groundhog Day
The Princess Bride
The Exorcist
Stalag 17
Monsters, Inc.
The Truman Show
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Jurassic Park
Rain Man
Beauty and the Beast

So... there we go. See, I have seen some movies. I'm not entirely hopeless.

Monday, August 26, 2013

24 Days Til 30 - The Worst Job I've Ever Had

It's a situation I'm sure many of us are familiar with. It's the summer time and you need money. Looks like it's time to go job hunting. And admittedly, not every job you find will be a winner. This is my story.

The summer before my Senior year of college, I went and applied at a temp agency called Adecco. When I went in that day, I was hoping to be placed in clerical jobs. The recruiter said it didn't look like I was qualified of any clerical jobs after looking at my resume. This struck me as odd since at the time I was an English major and spent most of my educational career writing and editing plus I was completely capable of filing, alphabetizing, most of the skills you'd associate with clerical office jobs. The recruiter then asked me if I'd be interested in taking their light industrial placement test. I said sure, though in retrospect I probably should have passed. While the placement test had questions which asked about identifying UPCs, item numbers and bar codes, the job I was eventually given had nothing to do with any of these. I felt as if I had been mislead severely.

I was assigned a temp job at a place called Apex Logistics. It was a large warehouse and the job was 4 days a week from, if memory serves me correctly, 5:00 until 11:00. And what did they have me doing? Loading trucks with mail-order merchandise, especially a multitude of packages ordered from QVC. And no, I didn't know this would be what I was doing until after I came in the first night. So here I am, it's late July, I'm incredibly out of shape and I'm working in a warehouse loading boxes and packages into the back of a truck for 6 hours. This. Was. Hell. On top of this, I was the only person working in my section that had a firm grasp of the English language. The rest of the men working with me where of various Hispanic works and spoke Spanish or, on the rare occasion they needed to tell me something, broken English.

Since I had no idea what this job entailed, I was unprepared for the working conditions. When I left the building that night, I was severely dehydrated. There was a water cooler in the section where I was working, but I obviously wasn't able to make enough trips to it to stay hydrated. I legitimately was unable to spit when I left. It was easily the worst night of my life.

Despite all of this, I decided I'd stick to it and see the job out until the end of the week since that's when I imagined how long my assignment would last. When I went back to work on Wednesday, the first thing I decided to do was find the supervisor just to make sure how long my assignment was. He told me that the temporary assignments are usually ongoing with intent to hire full-time. Yeah, this was not going to work for me. Not just because I'd be going to back school in about a month, but because there is no way I wanted to make a career out of working in a warehouse loading mail-order merchandise into trucks. I know people joke about the uselessness of an English degree, but I knew I was better than this and destined for something better.

Thursday night, most of us were taken off truck loading duty and instead assigned to wrap skids full of boxes in cling wrap. And, as an added bonus, we were told that we would not be dismissed until every skid was wrapped satisfactorily despite the shift switch that came at 11:00. So I was there until well after midnight before being told to go.

So, remember earlier when I said I intended to see stick around until the end of the week? Yeah, this was the night I said "Fuck that" and changed my mind. Friday morning I called Adecco and told them I wished to be removed from that assignment. The representative I spoke to told me this would count as a "voluntary quit" and I might be unable to receive future job assignments from Apex. That was fine with me. I didn't want to deal with the strains of working there any longer.

A week or so later, I got a call from Adecco saying they had another potential job assignment for me. It was a 3rd shift job cleaning industrial paint containers. I couldn't say "No" fast enough. That was the last time Adecco contacted me and not long after that I got a job as a cashier at Weis Market. I think I'm done with temp agencies, or, at the very least, the ones that offer me jobs described as "light industrial".

Sunday, August 25, 2013

25 Days Til 30 - Coming Up On "This Is Gonna Suck"

Here's a brief preview of what I'll be watching and discussion on some upcoming episodes of "This Is Gonna Suck".

Oh Sit!: A televised Musical Chairs competition hosted by Jamie Kennedy. There is no part of that sentence that I'm looking forward to.

Sunday School Musical: A long while back I posted a poll asking what movies from The Asylum I should watch and discuss on the podcast. Two movies tied for first place. The first one, Sherlock Holmes, I have already watched and discussed on a previous episode. This monstrosity, The Asylum's answer to "High School Musical", is still waiting in the wings. I know it's going to be painful.

My Bare Lady: I didn't even know this show existed until I stumbled upon it while looking around on Hulu. What's the premise? Here you go, straight from Wikipedia; "United Kingdom-based reality TV show that aired on the Fox Reality Channel. The series followed four American female porn stars as they took acting lessons and performed in scenes from classic drama alongside British actors in London's West End". Let's take a moment to process this, a show about porn stars taking acting lessons and performing in scenes from classic dramas with British actors. Who in the blue hell came up with this concept? This can't possibly be anything but a train wreck, which is exactly why I will suffer through it for the podcast.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

26 Days Til 30 - Movies I Haven't Seen

I've seen a pretty good amount of movies so far in my life. But I'm positive there are even more movies that are considered popular or significant that I haven't seen. Naturally, I'm a little curious to see how behind on things I am so I decided to take a look at the IMBD Top 250 list and see which "big" movies I haven't seen yet for one reason or another. This may be a long post since this is a long list I'm referencing, so get comfortable.

The Shawshank Redemption
The Godfather
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Fight Club
The Matrix
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Rear Window
It's A Wonderful Life
Apocalypse Now
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Saving Private Ryan
Spirited Away
The Shining
The Departed
The Dark Knight Rises
Taxi Driver
Reservoir Dogs
Requiem For A Dream
Full Metal Jacket
L.A. Confidential
Some Like It Hot
Princess Mononoke
2001: A Space Odyssey 
Raging Bull
Die Hard
Blade Runner
The Thing (either version)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Kill Bill: Volume 1
Gone With the Wind
The Avengers
V For Vendetta
Million Dollar Baby
A Beautiful Mind
Black Swan
The Graduate
Slumdog Millionaire
Life of Pi
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek Into Darkness
District 9
Shutter Island
A Streetcar Named Desire
Rosemary's Baby

OK, I think that'll do it. Since this is the Internet, you are now free to make judgments about my value as a person based on the fact I haven't watched any of these movies.

Friday, August 23, 2013

27 Days Til 30 - An Hour of Music With Pandora

So a long while ago I decided to occasionally make some posts on here called "An Hour of Music With..." and then choose a channel on one of my free streaming music apps, listen to an hour of music on there without skipping a song and writing my thoughts about what I'm hearing. Well... it's close to a year and half now since I first mentioned the concept and just now I'm doing it for the first time. Don't judge. I need content to fill this 30 Days Til 3 project somehow. Anyway, here's an hour of music from Pandora. And I'm not choosing a specific station this go around, I'm using the Shuffle function. So who knows what we're going to hear? Alright, here we go!

"Take Out The Trash" by They Might Be Giants: Good start! Anytime's a good time for some TMBG. Not one of my favorite tracks from their album "The Else", but still a good song all the same. Got a very grungy feel to it thanks to the fuzzy effect on the guitars.

"Piano Man" by Billy Joel: An absolute classic! I really don't think I need to say much more.

"Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon: I'm sure it helps matters greatly that most of the stations in my Pandora line-up are of artists and genres I enjoy. So I'm remaining positive that I will get stuck listening to crap very few times. That being said, third good song in a row. Promising hour so far.

"Call Me (Original Long Version)" by Blondie: Aw, yeah! Sing to me, Debbie Harry! And they aren't kidding when they have this labeled "Long Version". 8 minutes long. Wow.

Autographs & Apologies" by Motion City Soundtrack: Still not overly familiar with this band despite being introduced to them a few years ago by my friend, Katrina. I keep meaning to look up some of their stuff on YouTube, but it never seems to ever leap to the front of my mind to do so. I like what I hear in this song though. Very crisp sounding guitars, nice piano and keyboard and the vocals aren't grating like so many bands that have come into popularity over the last decade.

"Set Fire To The Rain" by Adele: And we hit our first roadblock. Still, a streak of 5 pretty good songs become coming across one I hate is pretty good. I'll be glad when this song is done in 3 minutes from now.

"Steven's Last Night In Town" by Ben Folds Five: Ahh, that's much better. Easily one of the jazziest tunes to come from the inaccurately named trio. I actually saw the band perform this song live with Ben Folds using a melodica to play the clarinet part. Good stuff!

"The Man Who Sold The World" by David Bowie: I've heard the Nirvana cover many times, but this is the first time I've heard the original version. Maybe it's because I'm used to the Nirvana cover, but I'm not a fan of the vocal effects that Bowie is using on this song. And maybe this makes me a bad rock music fan, but I can't help it. Chalk it up to being "Covered Up", as TV Tropes would put it.

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds: Another classic! I don't think there's anybody who doesn't like this song. BRB, nostalgia is washing over me.

"Disarm" by Smashing Pumpkins: "The killer in me is the killer in you". I guess that's kinda deep. But then again, I never said I was looking for deeper meaning as I listen to these songs. Man, love that string section.

"Wonderboy" by Tenacious D": Easily the most epic of epic songs.

"Party In The CIA" by "Weird Al" Yankovic: Well, it is a parody. But it's a parody of "Party In The USA". ...In conclusion; Go to Hell, Miley Cyrus!

"I Melt With You" by Modern English: All right, some more 80s goodness. I still find it funny that both Burger King and Hershey's have used this song in commercials campaigns despite the song's true meaning. It's about nuclear annihilation.

"Defying Gravity" from Wicked: Nice! Great way to cap off this first edition of "An Hour Of Music With..." I dare anyone to tell me that listening to this song does not pump you up or inspire you somehow. Because if you tell me that, I will call you a liar to your face! Also, Idina Menzel, your voice is a gift from the theatre gods. I could listen to her sing the phone book and be captivated.

OK, that'll do it for today. Thanks for coming back!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

28 Days Til 30 - Fall 2013 Movie Season Preview

We're more than halfway through August and that means Fall is approaching. And with each new season that comes up on the calendar, that means a new crop of movies are going to be released into theatres. Much like I did earlier this year when looking at the upcoming Summer movies - which, by the way, I saw none of - I decided to do the same for the upcoming Fall movies using the most recent Entertainment Weekly issue as my guide.

Now I'm not going to cover every single movie coming out over the course of the next 3-4 months, that would take far too much time than I'm willing to invest in this. So I'll be covering the movies which would interest me or that I feel like touching on for one reason or another. OK, on we go!

Metallica Through The River (September 27): The movie is being described as "an action-heavy narrative that sends a roadie on a series of nighttime misadventures while the band shreds through its back catalog in 3-D close-ups". I'll pass, thanks.

Runner Runner (October 4): A thriller that revolves around poker written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the two who wrote Rounders which may be considered the quintessential poker movie. You have my attention.

Bad Milo! (October 4): Here's is the entire write-up of this movie in Entertainment Weekly; "In all seriousness, Bad Milo! is a demon inside Ken Marino's butt". ... I really don't know what to say in response to that.

Romeo and Juliet (October 11): I get this feeling this version will be much more subdued than the Baz Luhrman fever dream that came out in the 90s. Might be worth a look.

Zero Charisma (October 11): Apparently, this movie is about a role-playing game master who worries that he suffers from the titular problem. As long as the writers didn't decide to follow the model of "Let's makes these characters like the ones on The Big Bang Theory because that's how nerds act and people find that funny", it should be worth a watch.

Carrie (October 18): What's this? A version of Carrie where the lead actress is actually close to the character's age? Hell, the fact that a high school student is being played by a 16-year-old and not someone in their mid-to-late 20s is pretty mind blowing! All snarkiness aside, I'm looking forward to seeing this one. The novel is great and the original movie was very unnerving. I can only anticipate what they'll do with this version.

Last Vegas (November 1): OK, stop me if you've heard this one before. Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play four childhood friends who came together in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Don't think of it as Grumpy Old Men meets The Hangover because director Jon Turtletaub might beat the crap out of you if you do.

About Time (November 1): A young man learns that all the men in his family have the ability to travel through time. Don't make your judgments just yet though, director Richard Curtis says this is "an anti-time-travel time-travel movie". It focuses less on the sci-fi aspects of the concept on more on the philosophical question: What really matters when it comes to time? This unconventional look at time-travel sounds like it's worth a look to me.

Tyler Perry's A Medea Christmas (December 13):  Please, make these Medea movies stop!

Saving Mr. Banks (December 13): A movie about the issues that occurred as Walt Disney Pictures tried to adapt Mary Poppins into a movie? And Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney? Sold!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 20): I enjoyed the first Anchorman movie. A sequel should be some more goofy fun.

August: Osage County (December 25): I heard great things about this Tony award winning play. I'm guessing this film version will be the closest I get to seeing it. No real complaints about that though, More Broadway plays should get film adaptations so that a wider audience can be exposed to them. 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (December 25): Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig star in this movie which is adapted from a James Thurber short story about a man who imagines himself in fantastical and heroic situations in an effort to make his dull life seem more interesting. Color me intrigued.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

29 Days Til 30 - The State of "Wings Of York"

I figured now would be a good time for me to make a brief statement about one of my various side projects. Around this time last year I decided to start a food blog of sorts called "Wings Of York". As you may have guessed, the focus of this blog would be Buffalo wings. My initial concept was to see how many wings and how many different sauces I could try in York - and possibly other surrounding areas - over the course of a year. But I ended up falling behind in my documenting and, as a result, the blog ended up stagnating with no new updates since February. Needless to say, I'm more than a little disappointed in myself as a result of this.

But I'm not giving up. After this 30 Days Til 30 project concludes, I'm going to do a hard reset on "Wings Of York". Or, to use a term bandied about frequently in pop culture these days, it'll be a reboot. I'll focus more on trying the different varieties of sauces available and won't limit myself to any form of time frame. If it takes me 2 years to try all the flavors that Arooga's has to offer, then so be it! And I won't be doing an ongoing tally of how many wings I've eaten. It's about quality, not quantity.

So, yeah, just wanted to put that out there. Look for the new life cycle of "Wings Of York" coming Fall 2013 at

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

30 Days 'Til 30 - What It's All About?

Hello everyone. Welcome to the first day of a month long project I decided to embark on. In one month, I will be turning 30. I can hardly believe it myself. So I thought I'd like to do something interesting leading up to that date. And so, here we are; The 30 Days Til 30 Project!

What I'm setting out to do is create and post a new piece of content here everyday from now until September 18th, the day before my birthday. It may be a blog post of some kind, a new podcast episode or even a video. Whatever it may be, it'll be posted right here for the next 30 days. Taking this into consideration, do I have something special planned for September 19th? Why, yes, yes I do. I'll be taking a break from posting anything here and just enjoy the day. I feel I'll have earned it.

I'm thinking of making one of the posts past the halfway point an "Ask Me Anything..." type of post. And, of course, I'm hoping I am actually able to keep up with this and not fall behind, lose interest or quit at some point over the course of the next month. I admit, I've abandoned a whole lot of projects in the past. And I'm honestly going to try to not let that happen with this one.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy whatever may come these next 30 days!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 Summer Movie Season Preview

It won't be long now until the big Summer movies begin to pour into theatres around the country. And since it's been a while since I've posted anything here, I decided to take a look at some of these movies - assisted by last week's issue of Entertainment Weekly which was the Summer Movie Preview issue - and give my thoughts on them. I can almost smell the popcorn!

The Great Gatsby (May 10) - Believe or not, I've never read this book. It was never assigned in any of my high school or college classes, nor did I ever pick it up to read it on my own. Perhaps the release of this film will spur me to take a look before seeing it. And that fact that it's in 3D has me even more intrigued. I doubt there are many straight forward dramas out there that have been filmed in 3D. Usually you'd associate that effect with sci-fi, fantasy, or animated films where you'd figure there will be an action sequence occurring at some point when objects will seem to just leap off the screen at you. I'm interested to see how this will translate to a movie like "The Great Gatsby".

Now You See Me (May 31) - The following summary is paraphrased from Entertainment Weekly; "A thriller about a group of magicians who full off elaborate Robin Hood-esque bank heists while by chased by the FBI". I think that's a pretty interesting premise. And after seeing a trailer for this movie before "Jurassic Park 3D", I was even more intrigued. I definitely think I'll be checking this one out.

The Purge (May 31) - Ethan Hawke stars in this movie which takes place in a world where all crime is legal for one night a year. Trailers online have been touting this movie as one of the most disturbing to come out this year. I think it might be worth a look.

Much Ado About Nothing (June 7) -  Joss Whedon's directing a film adaptation of a Shakespeare play starring Nathan Fillion? Sign me up!

Monsters University (June 21) - The prequel to the Disney/Pixar film "Monsters Inc.". Do I really need to say any more?

Pacific Rim (July 12) - I was instantly intrigued when I saw a trailer online a few months ago for this movie that features giant, human-piloted robots called Jaegers which fight monstrous creatures called kaiju. And yes, if I see this you can be sure to hear me "complain" as to why Dr. Cube and numerous other personalities from Kaiju Big Battel weren't included.

The Smurfs 2 (July 31) - Really? This is a thing? Moving on.

R.I.P.D. (July 19) - "R.I.P.D." is based on a graphic novel with the following premise; After a young cop is shot dead in the line of duty, he joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest In Peace Department and tries to find the man who killed him. Well, consider my curiosity aroused. I think this one's worth a look.

The To Do List (August 16) - Aubrey Plaza and Alia Shawkat in a coming of age comedy set in the 90s? And it's being described as sort of a gender flip of American Pie? Sold!

Cockneys vs. Zombies (August 2) - The undead are unleashed on London's East End. But let's be honest, I'd go see this movie based on the title alone.

In A World (August 9) - A vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie trailer voice-overs, to fulfill her dream of becoming a voice-over artist. Sounds pretty good to me.

Now I'm sure many of you are asking about some titles that I haven't mentioned in this post. So I'll address some of those "concerns" right now.

"Hey, you didn't mention 'Iron Man 3'. What gives?" - I haven't seen the first two Iron Man movies, so it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to be anticipated the third one in the series. Plus, I've never been a big comic book reader so I guess I'm just not all that into comic book movies.

"You ignored 'Man Of Steel'. Why?" - Again, not a big comic book movie guy.

 Thanks for indulging me by reading this post. Here's hoping you find plenty of entertainment in the coming Summer months!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I've Been Going About This All Wrong

Sometimes it takes the actions of another person to put things into perspective. Case in point, a good friend of mine started a blog of her own yesterday. The last sentence of her introduction is as follows, "Right now, I'm just hoping to write".

That's the point of a blog, to write for the sake of writing when you have something to write about at your own pace. No one dictates that you have to write something at a particular time. Unless you're a professional blogger and companies have deadlines set for you. But that's not the case for me. That's not my job. I'm just an ordinary guy.

I've been far too harsh on myself for not keeping up with the MST recaps, or podcast episodes or other such content. And really, I don't understand why. No one's been breathing down my neck about it or critisizing me for not being on any sort of set and structured schedule. I don't think I'd know what a set and structured schedule would look like even if it bit me.

From here on it, I'm doing things at my own pace. Random blog posts; whenever they spring to mind. MST Recaps; when I have the time to do so. New podcast episodes; they'll surface when I have stuff to talk about  and have the time to sit and record it.

I'll write when I want to, when I'm able, when I have something to talk about. And hopefully, I'll keep up with it this time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MST Tuesday - " Moon Zero Two"

Hello and welcome to another edition of MST Tuesday. This week, we're taking a look at "Moon Zero Two", an episode from Season 1. Why do I mention the fact it's Season 1? Well, the fact that we have Josh "J. Elvis" Weinstein, the original voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo, on the show! And he plays Dr. Laurence Erhardt, Dr. Forrester's original assistant. So, welcome to the blog, J. Elvis!  We've got Blog Post Sign!

Host Segment #1

Joel is on the bridge of the Satellite of Love with Crow and Tom Servo and briefly explains the premise of the show before going to commercial. He asks those of us watching to think of him if we go to get a snack so he can eat vicariously through us. And with that, we have Commercial Sign.

Invention Exchange

Joel introduces the concept of drive-by food, a much faster process than drive-thru because the food is teleported directly into your stomach!

The Mads have Mouth-To-Mouth Celebrity Toothpaste, toothpaste dispensers with doll heads that appear to vomit toothpaste onto your toothbrush. Selected models include Mr. Creosote from "Monty Python and the Meaning of Life" and Linda Blair from "The Exorcist".

I think Joel wins this one no contest. Quick food delivery is always a plus. Also, who wants to equate vomiting with brushing one's teeth? Yuck!

And now... we're got Movie Sign!

Movie Segment #1

The film begins with an animated title sequence that features an American astronaut and a Russian astronaut both landing on the moon, feuding with each other, discovering a civilization that has been built on the moon and exploring the city they find there. Tom Servo wonders if the whole film is like this. Crow hopes not because he doesn't think he could take two hours of the theme song playing. Joel seems to dig it though and actually dances around the theatre a bit during the credits.

After the credits, we're into live action as we pull back from a reflection of the moon to an interior of a spaceship. A member of the crew goes on a space walk to retrieve a satellite they spot floating adrift in space near their ship. The satellite is compared to, amongst other things, a space Garden Weasel or a space ice machine. Tom Servo thinks the crew member's equipment resembles the Nintendo Power Glove, and I'm not disagreeing with him.

The crew member returns to the ship and heads back to the control console while some jazzy music plays in the background. The 2nd member of the crew looks over at his colleague as he returns and Crow asks, "Why don't we talk anymore?" And I agree, why the Hell hasn't anyone said anything yet? Counting the opening credit sequence, we're almost 7 minutes into the movie now and there hasn't been a single word of spoken on-screen dialogue yet.

Not long after that, my prayers are answered... I guess, as the ship Moon Zero Two contacts Moon Control for landing instructions. Riveting. We're treated to a brief instrumental reprise of the theme song and then we get an ad break.

Movie Segment #2

The captain of the Moon Express approaches the men from Moon Zero Two and complains that their landing made his ship's landing two minutes late. He is then told off by another crew member and the Moon Zero Two crew instruct that the satellite they picked up be taken to the scrap yard.

Back in the locker room, Captain Bill Kemp of the Moon Zero Two is being told by another crew member that personnel has been talking about getting him back into the corporation. Captain Kemp expresses no interest in the idea of being a mere passenger pilot.

A woman enters the locker room catching Kemp as he's leaving the shower. He says that she is looking for Captain Kemp, but he doesn't identify himself and yells at her to leave which she eventually does.

Captain Kemp's colleague walks into the locker room and sees a maintenance man making an update to a memorial plaque for those who had given their lives to make the moon habitable. Captain Kemp thinks the memorial would be better placed outside of the crew's locker room, but the maintenance man says it might distress customers. Captain Kemp asks his colleague about the money they got for the satellite and takes his cut.

Sudden cut to footage of a Western, and we see it's an in-flight movie. Captain Kemp enters the transport and is escorted to a seat up front where he once again encounters the woman from the locker room. She seems confused as to why he denied being Captain Kemp, but Kemp simply replies he finds himself to be at a disadvantage when he's not wearing clothes. Upon getting her first view of the surface of the moon, the woman proclaims the landscape to be bleak. I feel the same way about this movie.

Upon arriving at a transport station, Kemp gives the woman a tour of various lunar landmarks by looking at them through windows. And I am so bored by this episode so far. Joel and the Bots exit the theatre and I don't blame them one bit.

Host Segment #2

Joel and the Bots put on a play about the first moon landing. It's a lot more entertaining than the movie thus far.

Movie Segment #3

Back from break and we get a dance number. Sure, why not. Captain Kemp enters the Moon Bar and joins his colleague who is already there. While at the bar, Kemp is approach by a man who tells him that a Mr. Hubbard wants to see him.

We cut to Hubbard's lair where a bunch of vapid looking models are playing Moonopoly. Joel and the Bots rightfully boo the stupid joke. Kemp arrives and Hubbard tells Kemp he has a job for him, find a jewel-encrusted asteroid and intentionally crash it into the moon. Kemp is unwilling to to cooperate with the plan citing the illegality of such an action. Hubbard says if Kemp can make it look like an accident, there should be no problem. And then we get an ad break

Movie Segment #4

Back from break and Kemp is getting ready for the mission Hubbard assigned him. One of the attendants asks what it is but his engineer - despite not knowing what the plan truly is - is quick to stop him from revealing any information citing rules from a handbook or something. Hubbard appears and two of his henchmen go along with Kemp to make sure all goes according to plan.

Moon Zero Two takes off and one of Hubbard's henchmen plots the course for the asteroid and tells Kemp the details of their plan to make the asteroid crash into the far side of the moon.

Back at the station, a rowdy group makes their way into the Moon Bar where everything is Wild West themed now and we got another pointless dance number. Though, honestly, every scene is the movie has seemed pretty pointless to me thus far.

The woman Kemp was talking to earlier enters the bar and asks a couple of men if they knew her brother and if he was with the convoy they arrived with. They tell her they hadn't heard from her brother in months and cite the reason as a damaged communication satellite on the far side of the moon. Joel and the Bots then excuse themselves from the theatre and we get and ad break.

Host Segment #3

Going off the awful Moonopoly joke in the movie, Joel and the Bots speculate about what games of the future will be like. Some examples include Moontendo presents Super Lunar Mario Brothers, Parcheesi becomes GreenCheesi, Chutes & Ladders will be replaced by Vacuum Tubes and Mouse Trap will no longer exist because all the mice will be in laboratories for scientific research.

Joel finishes things off by making the Bots into his own personal version of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and we get Movie Sign.

Movie Segment #5

Moon Zero Two comes into contact with the giant bejeweled asteroid and begin placing the equipment on it. Crow: "In space, no one can hear you yawn".  And is he ever right. This is easily the most boring episode of MST3K I've ever seen. Not quite halfway through the episode yet and I'm not sure if I can hold on until the end.

Hubbard's men return to the ship and Kemp stays on the asteroid a little longer to make sure all the engines fire off accordingly. Everything goes according to plan. Yay, I think.

Back to the bar on the moon and the dancers are dressed like chickens or something. But who cares about that, here comes Kemp to get a drink after a job well done. The woman is still waiting for her brother and is glad to see Kemp has returned. She asks if Kemp could take her over to Far Side since she's eager to see if her brother has found something on his mining claim. Kemp says he could probably help her out, but one of Hubbard's men had been eavesdropping and confronts Kemp at the bar. The henchman tells Kemp not to help the woman out, but Kemp says he is a pilot for hire. A fight breaks out and Kemp turns off the artificial gravity sending everything into slow motion. It's incredibly goofy, and not in a good way.

Movie Segment #6

Suddenly, we're back on Moon Zero Two and the woman has joined Kemp and his engineer. I guess their en route to Far Side now. Upon arriving, Kemp rents a Moon Bug and they attempt to make their way to the claim. Exposition is traded as they drive on.  My attention span is running low. We get an ad break.

Movie Segment #7

They finally arrive at the claim site and find it deserted. A spacesuited figure is spotted in the distance, but it turns out to be a dead body. Guess she won't be reunited with her brother after all.

They board the Moon Bug and are preparing to leave when Kemp spots some figures moving around outside the claim site. Kemp asks them to identify themselves, but in response the mysterious forms open fire on the Moon Bug.

Kemp and the woman escape from the Moon Bug and Kemp dispatches his would-be assailants. They commandeer the Moon Dozer from the claim site and now begin to race against time in order to get back to the base where they intially landed.

Host Segment #4

Crow and Tom Servo fight over which woman in the movie is more attractive. Joel says if they're going to fight, they'll do it in zero gravity just like in the movie. This segment is slightly more entertaining than the slo mo segment in the actual movie.

Movie Segment #8

Morning is beginning to break and as such the temperature on the moon is climbing. Power is at a premium so Kemp is unable to use any of the cooling systems on the Moon Dozer. As they approach the last few miles, Kemp worries that they may need to walk the last few miles and doubts the power in their moon suits would be enough to sustain them. The cabin pressure drops suddenly and Kemp and the woman put their moon suits back on and exit just before the Dozer explodes.

Kemp finally returns to the base and ends up forcing a confession out of the man who sells the supplies at the base implicating him in the murder. Kemp puts two and two together and figures out Hubbard was behind everything and wanted to get the claim cleared before crashing the asteroid into that location. Hubbard reveals himself and one of his henchmen shoots the woman from the beaureu of investigation before she can arrest him. Kemp says he's no longer willing to help Hubbard but after threatening to kill the lady he'd been assisting, Kemp quickly changes his tune.

Movie Segment #9

Oh, thank God, final movie segment. Kemp and the henchmen are on the asteroid once again making calculations for the descent. After dispatching one of Hubbard's henchmen from the ship and flying away a bit, Kemp sets off an engine on the asteroid and flees leaving Hubbard and one of his other henchmen trapped as the it makes its approach. The heroes return to Moon City and I've never been more glad to see an episode of this show come to an end.

Host Segment #5

It's time for the Movie Review Game. The Bots have to name a good thing and a bad thing about this movie, and they get a RAM chip if they do so.  I'd say the good thing would be it wasn't longer than it was, and the bad thing is the fact it exists.

Joel reads a letter and the Mads remind them to share the address for the Info Club. Dr. Forrester tells Dr. Erhardt that his hair makes him look like the mascot for Bob's Big Boy and instructs him to file something. Dr. Forrester pushes the button ending the episode and sending us to the credits.

Well... that sucked. I wanted to give up on this episode so many times. The film itself was plodding and dull which, as a result, didn't lead to a lot of great riffs in my mind. The saving graces were the Moon Landing Salute and Games in the Future host segments. 2 out of 5 stars.

I hope whatever I'm recapping for next week is more interesting than this episode was. So until next time; Push the Publish button, me!