And then Drax turned three…

Happy third birthday Drax the Destroyer!

I will admit, when Drax first came into the picture, I was dubious. We already had two dogs, one a giant schnauzer as well. And Drax definitely lived up to his “destroyer” moniker, being a crazy hellion. But as manic as he was, he was also extremely affectionate, moreso than our elderly giant schnauzer, Luna.

Well, three years in, he’s still a crazy hellion, but he’s also mellowed, and is more accepting of new people and dogs without losing any of his natural protectiveness or affectionate nature.

Drax is not an easy dog to photograph, for two reasons. One, he’s jet black, and absorbs all the light in the world. The other is that when he’s awake he rarely stays still long enough to get a picture. But I was able to catch him after he stole one of my slippers. Yeah, that’s Drax—not trying to hide it, not trying to run, just staring me down with an impish look in his eye.

Either that, or maybe he’s trying to tell me that since I named him after a Marvel character, I shouldn’t wear the slippers promoting a DC character…

Enjoy your meat and fresh bone tonight, Drax. Happy birthday, and may you have many more, and never lose that impish look in your eye.

#16 – WonderCon, Suicide Squad, Kevin Hearne, Batman Ninja, Ready Player One

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #16! I’m your host Orren Merton, and while this is a shorter episode it’s jam packed with goodies!

This year I attended WonderCon in Orange County, California. (:54). I give my impressions of the con, and also some of the great premieres and panels I saw there:

I took in the DC Animated movie Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (3:27)
A panel with fantasy author Kevin Hearne (6:30)
And another DC Animated movie, this one from Warner Japan called Batman Ninja (8:22).

Finally, I give a **spoiler free** review of Ready Player One. (10:33)

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

#15 – Timeless & Jessica Jones S2 + Tech Gadgets

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #15! This episode we’ve got a little television and a few tech gadgets!

I start by discussiong two shows I’m watching that just started their second seasons: Timeless and Jessica Jones. (:44)

After that, I discuss three tech gadgets: the iPhone X, the Xiaomi Amazfit Bip watch, and the Amazon Echo Spot. (4:45)

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

#14 – The Black Panther Panel

Welcome to Culture Pop Remix #14!

This episode is entirely about the new Marvel movie Black Panther! It’s definitely a movie worth a panel, and so we give it one! Join Caren and Golden as we discuss this game changing superhero film.

SPOILER ALERT!! We don’t go plot point by plot point, but we do skip around and mention lots of events, so if you’re one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t seen the film yet, you have been warned!

Happy Birthday 4th Birthday Reilly!

One look at that face and the first thing you notice (well, after the size) is how happy he looks. He’s an incredibly easy keeper, which isn’t to say that he couldn’t be a rambunctious puppy; all dogs can. He’s got kindness and warmth for everyone. He’ll bark, sure, and any dog of his size has a bark that can rumble the earth, but to know him is to love his sweet nature. He wants nothing more than to be included and loved. Well, that and the occasional mad run around the yard with Drax and other dogs that come over—he’s big, but when he gets going, he can really move, and he loves to play!

Four years isn’t old, but giant breeds (Irish wolfhounds, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and so on) have much shorter lifespans, in the range of 5-8 years. One of the things that appealed to me about Sunstag is that her wolfhounds routinely lived 10 years or more. My hope for Reilly is that he’ll be running around and enjoying the yard and being a great ambassador for wolfhound kind for many years to come. He’ll have no idea why tonight he’ll get extra treats and snuggles (as will his jealous little brother, Drax) but hopefully a little bit of how grateful I am to have him in my life will come through.

#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!