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Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Anyone who’s spent more than 10 minutes reading past posts from this blog know that I’m a fan of fusion – both literary and musical. Some of the best examples of both come when someone known for one genre or style tries something new, or just decides to incorporate elements of the “other” into their own work.

Musically, Prince is one of my favorite examples, since his funk credentials are extensive, but the Little Purple One also has an incredible talent for penning an infectious pop song when he feels the urge. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

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What is it about the beach that makes everyone’s attitude improve?

Think about it. Everything good in life seems a little bit easier when you’re breathing sea air and basking in sunshine all day. Conversations between strangers strike up more easily. People are more attracted to each other. They’ll let you pull into traffic in front of them. And movies … movies at the beach just seem to go down a little easier, make us a little happier and add a special highlight to what’s usually a week away from “real” life. And it doesn’t even matter that the only reason you were at the movies was probably because it was raining that day.

So it was the first day of my family’s annual beach vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few weeks ago. We arrived on Sunday, and Monday turned out to be a wash as far as sunning and swimming went. And really, it provided the perfect excuse for me to round up my son and assorted other cousins and siblings (along with my 70-something aunt) to see a movie I’d been a little bit more excited about than a 45-year-old dad probably should be. Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

Power Pop Wednesday: Yes, Please Do Go All the Way

In 1974, when this song came out, I was 6 years old, and yet I find that memories of it playing on AM radio still bubble up from way back then.

It was one of those songs that, in retrospect, should have told me that I would eventually become a huge fan of the source material the Raspberries tapped, which was really Rubber Soul– and Revolver-era Beatles.

It’s also a reminder, at least for me, not to do anything half-assed. Granted, that sort of going all the way isn’t exactly what the song is about (you can read about that in another posting), but it never hurts to have little musical cues throughout your playlist reminding you to take care of business … as in actual business, rather than the other kind of wink-wink, nudge-nudge business.

Funky Friday: The Power of the Writing Remix

Witness Big Audio Dynamite II, culled from the wreckage of The Clash and infused with funk, hip hop and the earliest 1990s incarnations of electronic dance music.

What you might also notice is that an integral portion of this highly danceable tune is the loop from the Clash song “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” The guitar riff, the “woo!” – it’s all lifted straight from the song former band member Mick Jones helped write and one that has since become one of the band’s signature songs. Continue reading → Funky Friday: The Power of the Writing Remix

Today’s Writing Tip: Embrace the Beauty of Crowded Spaces

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If you’ve ever seen or read anything that includes Sherlock Holmes as a character, you already know a very important key to improving your writing – the art of observation.

Holmes, in nearly every iteration, seems nearly supernatural in his ability to deduce information about people, situations and – most importantly – crimes. How does he do it? He observes. He takes  the individual bits of what he sees, hears, smells, tastes and feels and he pieces them together, arriving at a conclusion based on how all those parts fit together. Continue reading → Today’s Writing Tip: Embrace the Beauty of Crowded Spaces

Power Pop Wednesday: Back From the Capital of Obsfucation and Misdirection, Enjoy Some Smoke and Mirrors

OK Go – The Writing’s On the Wall from 1stAveMachine on Vimeo.

The family and I visited Washington, D.C., earlier this week to do the required introduction of the young ones to Our Nation’s Capital. I might post some pictures if I feel so compelled to share.

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OK, you convinced me with your infernal whining. Here you go.

 

Overall, the city was much nicer than I remember it being during my last trip, when I was my son’s age and it was the 1970 and cities felt it was their duty to be as skanky as possible.

Regardless of the bad rap that D.C. gets from pretty much everyone, I found the people to be exceptionally friendly, and not just in the tourist-centric spots. The streets are quieter, the public transportation cleaner and people just seem generally more polite. It’s a reminder that even though lots of folks in my home state of South Carolina consider it “The North,” the heavy-duty influence of southern Maryland and Virginia made it very much a Southern city. Continue reading → Power Pop Wednesday: Back From the Capital of Obsfucation and Misdirection, Enjoy Some Smoke and Mirrors

Funky Friday: Writing Routine and the Power of the Atomic Dog

I and my family recently joined the ranks of the dog rescuers, adopting a smart and handsome pointer mix puppy we have named Percy, for no other reason than his given name was Persimmon and we just weren’t cool with that.

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Percy Pointer Puppydog Pruden, in a moment of relaxation.

So Persimmon became Percy and he’s eased into life at Chez Pruden very nicely. Not surprising since, whether he knew it or not, he was scheduled for euthanasia at the high-kill shelter in Greenville, S.C., from which the local group All 4 Paws Animal Rescue acquired him. As I’ve noted to others, Percy and I are now the only two native South Carolinians in our household (although being from Greenville, chances are he’d be a Clemson fan. I just choose not to think about that). Continue reading → Funky Friday: Writing Routine and the Power of the Atomic Dog

Funky Friday: Lyle Lovett Proves Genre Only Means Something If You Let It

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you “Penguins,” one of out-and-out funkiest songs ever laid down by someone generally classified as a country artist.

But if you took a country music fan – the Coors Light-drinking, NASCAR-watching, truck-driving, ATV riding type of country music fan – and asked him about Lyle Lovett, chances are he’d look at you like my dog does when he’s confused about what I’m asking him to do.

That’s because on the radar screen of your average “hot” country radio listener, Lovett isn’t even a blip. He’s too funny looking (real country stars are pretty-boy handsome with a rustic edge), he’s too bluesy (real country stars have twang galore and don’t use all those annoying horns and … what the hell is that – a cello?) and he sings about the wrong stuff (no songs about getting wasted on cheap beer from a Solo cup while partying in a field), etc.

Add to that the fact that some of his songs are actually funny, obviously taking an opportunity to tweak the country music stereotypes that remain so pervasive, and he seems tailor made to piss off typical country fans. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Lyle Lovett Proves Genre Only Means Something If You Let It

Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘Phoenix Island’ by John Dixon

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In the lives of kids, there aren’t many grays. In the case of bullying, there’s usually the bully, the victim and the bystanders – bad, good and indifferent. Young boxing champ and heavy rotation foster kid Carl Freeman is none of the above, having declared himself, thanks to a pact with his late father, a Philadelphia cop, to always protect the weak.

But within the confines of the foster care system and the various public schools Carl is dropped into over the course of his 16 years, his attitude is considered more criminal than heroic. When we meet Carl, his latest episode of vigilante justice has landed him in front of a judge who sentences him to the eponymous boot camp facility located off the Mexico mainland – away from any type of governmental supervision and outside the reach of U.S. child protection laws. There it becomes clear to Carl that something nefarious is being perpetrated by the camp commanders and that the teenage detainees are there for more than just reformation.

It’s with this nicely crafted setup that first-time author (and fellow member of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group) John Dixon begins his novel Phoenix Island (2014, Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster). Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘Phoenix Island’ by John Dixon

After a Week Under the Weather, an Unrelated Complaint

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Freelancing is a constant hustle for the new gig to both pad the revenue stream and have something to fill in the blanks should an existing client decide to bail or inexplicably run out of work for you.

I spent the last couple of days not feeling so well, so trying to gin up new work was about the only thing I was good for. And in doing so, I was reminded that people really have no concept of the fact that “artists” (a category that working freelance writers unfortunately fall under) are actually trained professionals deserving of pay on par with their similarly trained and experienced – but non-artistic – peers. Continue reading → After a Week Under the Weather, an Unrelated Complaint