#13 – Jumanji, YouTubers, Star Trek Discovery and Happy! Wrap-ups

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #13!

I begin this episode with a spoiler-free review of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a movie that I didn’t intend to see, but I’m glad I did. (1:16)

Next, I give a short report of how YouTubers are becoming an ingrained part of our culture, based on my experience at the NAMM trade show. (6:33)

Finally, I give end-of-season wrap ups of two shows that I just finished watching: Star Trek Discovery (12:10) and Happy! (19:14)

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

And that’s a wrap on NAMM 2018

By the time I left the Anaheim Convention Center Saturday night, my voice sounded like I’d drunk a case of whiskey while gargling nails, my feet were sore from miles of walking from end to end of the convention center for meetings, my ears were nearly bleeding from so much loud cacophony, and I wondered why the hell I put myself through all this. In other words, it was another successful NAMM show.

I put myself through it of course because I meet friends and acquaintances that I only see at the show. I get to break bread with wonderful people and the camaraderie, on the one hand, and industry opportunities if you’re in the MI Industry make it not just worthwhile, but enjoyable and valuable. Seeing remote co-workers and supervisors, friends and professionals is the important thing; seeing the new shiny toys is fun, but that’s become the most minor part of it to me.

This year I decided that instead of the stress of trying to find parking, I would use Lyft to call up rides on my phone to and from the show. It worked like a charm, and even ended up being cheaper than parking in the lots, so that seems to be the way to go for the future. A less pleasant sign of the world we live in is that for the first time in the decades I’ve been going, they brought in metal detectors we had to walk through and made everyone put their bags and metal objects in trays, etc. Sort of like airport security before they decided that the way to make us more safe is by irradiating our genitals in the nude scanners.

Yes, this was completely inconvenient—everyone had tons of metal in them and on them, and I don’t just mean bags, I mean musicians who have piercings and so on. It seemed like every other person stopped the line so they could give them a personal wand check or pat down. I heard as many as 100,000 people were there this year, so that’s a lot of pat downs. Thankfully, I had an exhibitor badge (I edit documentation for an exhibitor at NAMM) so I got to stand in smaller lines than the ones that looked hundreds of people long. But it was still annoying. By Saturday, when they’d been seeing the same people for three days and pretty much knew everyone, security was finally moving faster.  It was at the point where I’d hand over my backpack, say “I’ve only got snacks” and they’d nod, confirm that the main pocket was empty, and just send me on my way.

I have to say, I know that “security theater” is a thing that some people need to make them feel safe, even though we all know that someone who really wanted to kill someone or blow up a building would find a way around a metal detector or pat down. But I think that this closed-to-the-public convention of creatives, hippies, musicians, and the occasional corporate businessman—is not one that needs all that stuff to feel safe. And moreover, in the decades I’ve been going, I’ve never heard of any threat made to anyone at NAMM, not even a drunken “Imma gonna kill you when the floor stops spinning!” or something. So I guess it’s not surprising that security was tighter, and if this is simply “the new normal” for the Anaheim Convention Center these days, it’s a bummer. But if the NAMM organization itself thought it was necessary, I don’t agree, and the security theater was probably the main complaint I heard.

Other than security grumblings, this was a show filled with warm friends and feelings, and I’m glad I attended. I’ll probably be sharing some info on some of the shiny objects that appealed to me on social media for those who are interested, but otherwise, this is my NAMM sign off, and my next convention reports will be pop culture conventions!

The NAMM show cometh (again)

Like clockwork, January of a new year brings a new NAMM show, where those who build and develop musical instruments and music software and related materials show their upcoming wares to retailers, buyers, and the music instrument (MI) industry press. I’ve been either in or on the periphery of the MI industry for going on 20 years now, and I’ve attended the NAMM show every year but one. And through it all, I’ve still managed to retain my enthusiasm for it.

For example, look at the picture I took. The Anaheim Convention Center, which has been the home of the NAMM show since I was about 10 years old, just added a new wing, with huge glass windows that look down at the floor of the exhibit hall below. So this is a bird’s eye view of some of the music software and microphone and pro audio exhibitors getting their huge booths together. It’s chaotic, but the air is also charged with anticipation of meeting people, making demos, and of course, they hope getting people excited enough to order new products for their chain, store, school, studio, etc.

I go to meet the people in the MI industry that I work with, and friends in far flung places I rarely get to see. And who am I kidding—as a musician, I go to drool over the new gear being introduced in the new year. This year is no exception, and I’m looking forward to all of the above. I’ll probably have pictures on social media, and something to say about some of what caught my eye after the show. And to those who can’t make it, you should be able to see highlights all over social media—even my profiles should have some!

#12 – The Shape of Water, Happy!, and Podcast apps

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #12, the first episode of 2018! In this episode I cover film, TV, and even some podcast apps!

First, I give my spoiler free thoughts about the new Guillermo Del Toro film, The Shape of Water (1:01).

Then I tell you about a new show based on a comic book miniseries that I just started, called Happy! (6:05).

Finally, I answer questions about my favorite podcast apps for listening to Culture Pop Remix—and other podcasts, of course! (8:39)

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

#11 – Star Wars The Last Jedi, The Punisher, and Doctor Who

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #11, the last episode of 2017! This episode is filled to the top with goodness, and NO SPOILERS for anything being discussed!

First, I give you my thoughts on Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, including the fan controversy that has surrounded the film. (1:10).

Then I discuss the latest Netflix Marvel series The Punisher, and how compelling a character Frank Castle is. (7:48)

Next up, the Doctor Who Christmas Special “Twice Upon A Time,” and some of my opinions of the Stephen Moffet years of Doctor Who, and Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. (16:09)

Finally, I end the podcast with some end of year thoughts about where Culture Pop Remix is, and where it’s going in 2018 and beyond.

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

Lionheart’s Moonage Daydream (2002-2017)

Giant schnauzers live 10-12 years. I’m on enough GS groups to know how rare it is for a GS to make 13, let alone 14, let alone over 14. And sometimes you see the “happy birthday” picture of those 13+ year old giant schnauzers, and they look ratty and miserable, and you wonder, they’re not dead, but are they truly alive? We agreed we’d never let that happen to Luna.

She’d been getting more and more fragile and shutting down for a while, but she still enjoyed her table scraps and running around (well, hobbling around) with Drax in the yard. But last night she had a bit of a bloody nose. Then this morning, she had it again. Then she got it a third time, and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Her lifelong vet made time to see her immediately, and when he examined her, the diagnosis was as easy for him to make as it was to see the trail of blood she left on the floor—a bleeding tumor, assumed to be cancerous, definitely would require lots of tests and invasive procedures, with no guarantee of success. And for a dog that is already outlived her life expectancy, what does “success” even mean? It was a heavy morning, but Michelle and I made the call.

She’d been full of life and fire since the day she came bounding (and barking) into our life, and that’s how I’ll always remember her. Life was a full-contact sport for her, and she had no off switch. She was a goofball and a handful and a fierce protector: 75 pounds of love and teeth. She never stopped feeling her duty was to protect the house, even at the end.

There’s an absence in the house now, and she will be missed.

Luna when we brought her home for the first time.
Luna practicing her hurdles for agility.
Luna: bigger than a guitar.

#10 – Crisis on Earth-X and Stranger Things 2

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #10!

This episode covers two television related topics. First, I give a spoiler-free review and impressions of the crossover event “Crisis on Earth-X” that spans all of the CW’s Superhero shows: Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. (:59)

After that, it’s time for a panel discussion with Caren and Chris! This time, we discuss the Netflix series Stranger Things 2. As with all our panel discusions: SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t finished watching Stranger Things 2 yet, you’ve been warned! (8:56)


#9 – An Ethical Examination of Star Trek’s Transporter

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #9!

Don’t let the academic sounding title fool you—my guest Alex Rajczi and I have a rousing discussion of how people look at technology and risk and ethics using one of our favorite sci-fi technologies! If you already like geeking out over stuff like this, you’ll definitely enjoy this discussion! If you wonder what all the hubub is about, this might just be enough to get you interested!

#7 – Thor Ragnarok

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #7!

This short episode consists entirely of my spoiler-free impressions of the just-released movie Thor Ragnarok. Enjoy!

New Novel: Firebird Champion Released Today!

I’m proud to announce the availability of the latest novel in The Sedumen Chronicles:

The opposite of life isn’t death; it is lifelessness.

Firebird Alex died. When she was brought back to life, Alex  discovered that she could communicate with all living things—the very life force itself. But with resurrection, comes responsibility—Life compels Alex to fight it’s enemies. And Life’s biggest enemy is the Cult of the Watchers. They destroy everything, leaving only lifelessness.

The Cult of the Watchers has beaten Alex at every turn, leaving her bloody and broken, but everyone depends on Firebird Alex to be their champion. There’s no amount of torment she won’t endure to succeed. She won’t fail her friends and those she’s sworn to protect. She won’t waste her second chance.

Firebird Champion is available today as an eBook at the following online retailers:

You can buy a paperback copy at the following online retailers:

You can download the first chapter free, or read it online.

This novel picks up where Watcher and Firebird, The Sedumen Chronicles, Book 5, leaves off. However, it is a complete tale with a beginning, middle, end, and all the backstory you need to know what’s happening. So to get the complete arc, you can read Watcher and Firebird and Firebird Champion (bonus, but not necessary: Stinger and Bow a “day in the life” story featuring thirteen-year-old Rachel aka Stinger, introduces the baddies). If you want the richest experience of the world of Sediin and our heroines, read all six. But this isn’t necessary to enjoy Firebird Champion.

Please download the free chapter, check out the novel, and if you like it, let everyone know! As an indie author, I don’t have a giant PR machine, my best method of getting the word out is people who love the story. I hope you enjoy it!