Jonas aka Snowzilla Binge Watching

I can’t say I like being stuck inside due to dangerously inclement weather, but I was very fortunate that my family and I were able to remain safe during the blizzard just past.  I did lose some income due to cancelled work, and I probably got a little fatter due to a sedentary weekend.  On the other hand, this storm had a particularly fortuitous timing from my viewpoint.

As you probably know, the SAG Awards are coming up on January 30.  Yes, indeed, we are in the last week of consideration by the membership before votes are due.  Many years I find myself struggling to schedule the time to finish watching all the nominated shows and movies.  Jonas, of course, completely cleared my calendar beginning Friday night right through tomorrow (Monday) morning.  And that has afforded me the opportunity to binge watch the nominees!

So far I’ve gotten through 4 of the television productions I hadn’t seen previously and 5 movies.  I still have a few hours to go, so I may well cram in a couple more viewings thanks to Jonas the Snowzilla.  And why not?  After all, tomorrow it’s right back to the daily grind.


Still Getting Spins -ITCL

The album I released almost three years ago, In The City Lights, surprises me with it’s ability to get radio play.  I recently did some checking and found that the song “Change Me” received multiple spins in 2015 on TLC radio New Zealand and on internet radio by DJ Nicole.  Many thanks to TLC and Nicole!  And a shout out to TSP for getting the song to them (in 2012).

The songs from ITCL were also finally uploaded to YouTube this past year by music retailer and distributor CD Baby.  Here are the top three tunes on YouTube.




Hope you enjoy!









Finding Inspiration Close At Hand

I have to admit that I pretty much took 2015 off as far as songwriting.  No, I didn’t forget about it completely.  I sat down plenty of times to try and make progress on something.  But, in the end, it didn’t seem to get me anywhere.  Writer’s block, if you want to call it that.

Funny thing is … I had the necessary stuff for jump-starting my inspiration close at hand all the time.  In a book (a series, actually) that I had been reading.  I liked the book – plot, characters, subtext and perceived symbolism within.  I just really liked it (and the sequels).  Got through the whole story across this past year.

Still making no progress on my other songs (I have myriad partially-written tunes waiting), very recently I finally decided to sit down and try writing a song that you could consider like a theme song for the book – the story – if it were made into a movie.  Like fan fiction – only music.  Fan music?  Is that a genre?

Much to my joy (and relief), the lyrics and tune just began to flow naturally.  Not without some work, of course.  And it is still being edited and caressed.  But I sure do wish I’d brought that book into my songwriting sessions months ago.  Whatever happens – however good or bad the resulting song turns out to be – that so-called writer’s block is history.  Yay!  Just in time for a new year of composing tunes to start off right.

Zoom-(ba)-ing Off Topic

I like to think of myself as a moderately enthused fitness enthusiast.  I enjoy being physically active even though I am no spring chicken.  The activities I have generally engaged in to keep me moving include jogging, biking, cardio machines, and resistance training.  While I have exercised with a trainer, a workout partner and even a running club in the past, I’ve never been big on group exercise.  The running club started and ended in the same place, but you ran pretty much at your own pace.

Anyway, I’ve been pondering a change in my exercise regimen and thought maybe I should try one of those classes.  After watching a few, I was shocked to find myself drawn toward – of all things – the Zumba classes.  Why?  Well, I think it’s because those classes are very different from the exercise I can do on my own.  You know, why join a class where I repeat pretty much the same work I already do?  In the past, I have heard some fellow male colleagues (non-dancers, I’m talking about) speak glowingly about Zumba classes at their gyms.  Also, while the classes I watched were predominantly crowded with people of the female persuasion, they all had one or two guys in them.  So I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a try.

I took my first Zumba class two weeks ago from an very nice and energetic instructor named Jamie.  As she described it to me, her class was heavy on cardio and lighter on the dance moves.  That suited me just fine!  Although, I think I still screwed up every single “routine.”  lol  Undeterred, I decided to try her class again that Wednesday to see if I could do better.  I didn’t do significantly better, but I do think I was at least keeping up with some of the others in the class.  Of course, that could be self delusion talking.   Deluded or not, on Saturday I tried a different instructor.  The class was posted as being taught by “gym staff”.  Turned out to be a male instructor named Tomas subbing in.  This guy took it to a different place … that dancier place.  Surprisingly, he also turned the music down to a level at which we could hear the beat but didn’t make our ears ring afterward.  Anyway, I don’t think my hips have ever moved (or at least been asked to move) in that way in public in my entire life.  But in for a penny, in for a pound!  I gave it my best effort.

That Saturday night as I tried to fall asleep, I realized that I was more sore than I have been in years.  Cumulatively sore, no doubt, in places I haven’t been sore since I was a kid learning to ride a horse.  My legs were a little tight, sure, but I really felt it all through my midsection – especially the obliques and serratus (those little muscles over the ribs).  I have also been sweating like a horse after every single class.  Good exercise?  I should think so!  Don’t know if this will become a regular part of  my regimen.   There are some movements my body just doesn’t seem able to accomplish, and some of the instructors clearly gear their classes toward their main audience with choreography that is decidedly not masculine (and which I choose to forgo).  Even so, I’m impressed and understand the hype now.


April Jazz and More at the Black Fox Lounge

Had an awesomely fun evening at the Black Fox Lounge last night.  Invited to join in the April Jazz Showcase at the Black Fox with music director Oren Levine, I brought a couple of my own tunes and a cover to the festive evening.  Although my tunes were a bit of a genre departure, the audience was warm and welcoming.

It was my first visit to the Black Fox, and I was impressed.  It’s a small venue with two floors of music – primarily jazz.  My friends said it reminded them of some of the cool, small clubs in NYC.

As far as the showcase went, it was a tremendous mash-up of jazz, jazzed-up standards, Oren Levine originals and cabaret tunes in addition to some pop and a little alt. country to boot (that would be me – lol).  To be honest, the stars of the evening were the instrumentalists – Oren Levine on piano, Winston Johnson on drums and Charlie Himel on bass.  They were amazingly facile at moving from song to song and style to style with alacrity.  Vocalists on hand included Jazz Showcase mainstay Barbara Papendorp along with guest vocalists Andrew Harmon, Deirdre Jennings, and me.   We also had a last minute addition – a jazz flute player named Eric (a coworker of Barbara’s) who was fantastic.

Thanks to everyone who came out to hear us!  And big thanks to Barbara Papendorp and Oren Levine for inviting me to join in the fun!

Books To Die For

If you are a mystery buff, you should definitely pick this up.  It’s an anthology of essays (over 100) by today’s mystery writers on their favorite tales and favorite authors that influenced them.  Edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels is a veritable “Who’s Who” of authors in the genre.

As a lover of mysteries but not an aficionado of mystery literature, I discovered some authors and stories I hadn’t previously been aware of.  That’ll keep me in reading material for some time!  In addition, I was interested in getting the insider’s view on stories that were seminal in establishing and furthering the genre.  To be sure, there were a few authors who took the opportunity to talk more about their own work than the work of authors who influenced them.  Still, the large majority of the authors asked to participate make this book a very interesting read and a wonderful resource for anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Because this is an assembled group of essays, you can easily pick it up for a few minutes, set it down, then pick it back up again as your schedule permits.  Perfect for commute-time reading or a little dose just before lights out.  If you want to find out more about this anthology, click on the graphic to the right.


BOOKS TO DIE FOR is a unique, must-have anthology for any fan of the mystery genre, featuring personal essays from 120 of the world’s most beloved and renowned crime writers on the mysteries and thrillers that they most admire, edited by two of their own—John Connolly and Declan Burke.

Tana French on The Secret History by Donna Tartt; Jo Nesbø on Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280; Kathy Reichs on The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris; Michael Connelly on Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister, and Charlaine Harris on Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male: these are just a few of the 120 internationally bestselling mystery writers showcased in this collection—a book every reader of crime fiction should own.

In the most ambitious anthology of its kind ever compiled, each author pays a deeply personal tribute to one mystery that means the most to them, explaining why that book affects them and how it has influenced their own work.  This collection presents a treasure trove of works in the mystery genre by the people who know it best, and is an essential guide for all readers and writers.

TV Show Renewals – Almost?

I have been seeing a number of online articles recently foretelling the future of television – which shows are being renewed for another season and which shows are being dropped.  The most interesting category to my mind is the group of shows that are still in limbo.

Most recently I read a brief on that lists nineteen shows which they describe as “on the bubble.”  By that they mean they could go either way – renewal or cancellation.  As I read through the list, I wasn’t particularly surprised by what I saw.  Many of the shows haven’t interested me enough to draw me in even once.  Of those I have seen, only a few have coaxed me into more than one episode.  And only one – Almost Human – pulled me in for the season.

I will admit that I am a Sci Fi fan.  I grew up watching reruns of Star Trek after school, don’t you know?  So I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to Sci Fi shows.  Even so, there are other Sci Fi shows on The Wrap’s bubble list that didn’t get me (or that I didn’t get).  But I’ve enjoyed Almost Human.

I like the premise – a crusty “old style” cop paired with an unexpectedly unpredictable “old model” robot sidekick.  It certainly supports the title well enough.  And I think the “outsider” feel to both central characters (Det. John Kennex and Dorian, played by Karl Urban and Michael Ealy, respectively) should appeal to audiences.

I will admit that I don’t always absolutely love the story lines, but I find that’s true in any series.  And while not every episode’s plot made me thrill with excitement and anticipation, the writing (especially the humorous banter between Kennex and Dorian) gave me reason enough to find it on the demand menu of my cable service even when I couldn’t watch in real time.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope it does get renewed.   It would be great to see if the show can really hit it’s stride by settling into a second season.

What Is That Doing There?

Have you ever opened a drawer, suddenly noticed something that has heretofore been just background, and thought, “What is that doing there?”  I know this is slightly off topic for this blog.  Please forgive this detour.  It’s a very “in the moment” kind of thing, though.  lol

So … it happened to me just the other day.  I was doing a little clearing out.  Thus, things that had lain unseen and unconsidered for some time were the object of my attention.  That’s when I noticed this button.

Interesting little alien-looking mascot announcing an international exposition in Japan?  Sure … OK, I’ve been to Japan.  Except as I looked more closely at the dates, I realized that I didn’t travel to Japan in ’85.  And that means that I never attended this exposition!  Hmm.  How did I get a button for an international event I was never at?

I did attend an international exposition in Japan.  It was a world’s fair on Okinawa called Expo ’75.  I remember that one quite clearly.  It was there I realized that I probably shouldn’t go on any ocean cruises.  They had a small model of a floating city called the Aquapolis moored at the site.  I recall they had a funky entrance ramp that had odd bumps under the floor covering in an attempt to fool your inner ear and make you oblivious to the fact that you were essentially on a boat.  Aside from almost falling on my face because I tripped on one of the bumps, it didn’t do a thing for me.  It certainly didn’t reduce my awareness of the gentle, rolling back-and-forth, back-and-forth of that “City of the Future.”  I took a quick self-guided tour and hurried back to land before my visit became even more memorable.  Whew!

Anyway, what about the chachkies at Expo 75?  Well, I remember getting a sun hat in the shape of an upside down tulip with the Expo ’75 logo on it and the waves repeating all the way around the brim.  I burn fairly easily; I didn’t have sunscreen with me; so I purchased the souvenir hat for the occasion.  It was one of the ugliest hats I’ve ever worn — on me.  It was, however, incredibly handy because it folded up so small it could be tucked away in a hip pocket.  Even so, I don’t remember wearing it too often beyond that day.  The upside down tulip just didn’t seem to complement the shape of my head.  LOL  This button, however, doesn’t make the replay tapes in my memory.

Photo by Gio von Gryneck

Could I have gotten it as a promo handout while wandering through the various pavilions at Expo ’75?  I guess so.  Of course, the real question is, “How did a button from an event I never attended stay with me for so many years?”  No, you will not see me on “Hoarders: Buried Alive!”  While some potential answers may be disturbing, I think I may have this figured out.  When in doubt, blame the parents!

They also attended Expo ’75, and they’ve always been big into memorabilia – not from stars and celebrities but just from their lives.  I suppose it’s been their way of celebrating the process of living life to the best of their ability.  A few year ago, they were cleaning out their archives and foisted upon (I mean gave) us kids some of their collection so we could reminisce.  No doubt this little button was in among the items they gifted me at the time.  Funny how I didn’t notice then that it was for another event entirely.

Come to think of it, though, I guess it really did serve the purpose for which they intended it.  It provided me with a little mystery to explore, and in the process it brought back lots of memories from the Expo we did attend.  Well done, Mom and Dad!  Well done.



I watch TV.  Of course I do.  Even so, my schedule often prevents me from tuning in when shows I’d like to watch are on.  In that regard, Netflix and on demand cable have been a boon for me – allowing me to watch things on my own timetable as well as to discover and enjoy such gems as the BBC America show “Orphan Black” and the Netflix original “House of Cards.”

Happily, though, this past weekend I had a bit of a break.  So on Friday night when I fired up the Xfinity menu, I saw the options for Watchathon.  Watchawhat?  I had somehow missed the announcements.  Oh, but I was quick to dive in and became a weekend Watchathonamaniac!  As a result, I am now officially hooked on 3 shows that I am going to have to follow up on.

1.  I finally understand what all the fuss is over “Game of Thrones.”  I’d seen a few episode and didn’t like it.  What can I say?  I just didn’t.  Now that I’ve seen season one, I’m in.

2.  Although it only ran for a couple of seasons about a decade ago, “Carnivale” has also caught my fancy. After a few episodes, I find the underlying premise and some of the characters quite fascinating.

3.  “Da Vinci’s Demons” from Starz is another interesting show.  It’s a bit like watching MacGyver in Renaissance Italy.  lol  Still, I think there is a nifty cast of darned good actors portraying many of the supporting and tangential roles along with strong performances from the principals.