Friday, October 31, 2008

Favorite Zombie Movies (Holloween Edition)

Night of the Living Dead(1968) is THE classic zombie film. It's old, gory, and actually creepy...a quality almost every modern horror film lacks. It was directed and produced by George Romero on only a $114,000 budget.

Directed by Bob Clark who brought us Porky's, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things(1972) is even more irreverent and low-budget than The Night of the Living Dead. A bunch of theater students spend the night near an island graveyard and exhume a dead body for kicks. The fun really starts when they decide to tinker around with some satanic rituals and their dead playmate comes back to life. Includes lots of bell bottoms.

Zombie(1980)... Sharks+Zombies=Two Thumbs Up.

Dawn of the Dead(1978)... Romero's sequel to The Night of the Living Dead, takes place in a zombie infested shopping mall.
It's consumerism at its scariest.

Day of the Dead(1985) takes Romero's zombie flicks to an even gorier and eerier level. Armed to the teeth survivors are trapped in a nuke bunker giving that additional cold war freakiness. The survivors are getting a case of cabin fever and by the end it's hard to tell who is scarier, the living impaired or the couped up crazies trying to stay alive.

A modern look at the Zombie genre. Not too much new here. Dennis Hopper adds a lot to the movie. It's cool because it takes place in Pittsburgh. Oh Yeah... Zombies can swim.

Fido is one of my all time favorites... seriously funny. It's a retro zombie love story. Leave it to Beaver meets 28 Days Later. Billy Connolly is absolutely brilliant. Even if you are not a zombie movie fan, this movie is a must see.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Virginia Kendall

One of the things I did as a bored high school kid was hike around some of North east Ohio's beautiful parklands. Sometimes with friends but often by myself... Always toting one of those archaic Walkman or Discman CD players and several CDs or tapes in my bulging coat pockets.

It was on these hikes that I was able to really get into whatever music I happened to be listening to. I would listen carefully to each nuance and rewind over and over to examine the individual notes. Music added a depth to the hiking experience, burning the sights and smells of the forest along with the sounds of music into my mind. When I hear those songs now I am, for a moment, brought back to those times in the woods.

It's been over ten years since I've been back to my old stomping grounds. I miss it. When I do make my way back to N.E. Ohio, Virginia Kendall will no doubt be one of my first destinations.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bee Pollen

Bee Polen is a nutritional suppliment available in raw form at most health food stores and in capsule form (aka. Bee Propolus) in most grocery stores. It is said to contain around a hundred different nutrients including all the necesarry nutrients to sustain life.

It is 40% protein and contains 22 amino acids, vitamin C, B-complex and folic acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids, enzymes, carotene and all known anti-oxidants...all of which is readily usable by the body without ant further breakdown or metabolism.

It is considered an effective way to boost the immune system, relieve allergies, help cope with stress and is a wonderful energy booster.

In fact i began using bee pollen as an energy suppliment. I was amazed at the boost of energy and the lack of a "crash" as experienced with other energy suppliments such as caffeine.

Every morning I start my day with a nice heaping tablespoon of this stuff. It helps get me going and keeps me feeling good. If you haven't yet...You should try it.

"How Bee Pollen Benefits Your Health."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jaco and Bright Size Life

Bright Size Life was my first Pat Metheny album. In fact, it was Metheny's first album. Released in 1976, it features Bob Moses on drums and the legendary bass revolutionary Jaco Pastorius. I love its rainy day-ness. It's mellow and full of soul.

Here is the original audio version of the title track.

I really got into this album when I was in music school. Metheny was a big influence on my playing at that time. I think I first heard of this album when I read the Jaco Pastorius biography Jaco: The Extraordinary and the Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius, "the World's Greatest Bass Player" by Bill Milkowsky.

Jaco's life was really quite tragic. He was a drug addict and alcoholic and in his later years, he could barely get a gig despite his status as a bass legend. Finally he was tragically killed from injuries sustained in a bar fight in Florida.

To this day Jaco is recognized as a pioneer of jazz and fretless bass. His techniques have changed bass forever. His playing has influenced not just bass players, but musicians of various instruments and styles.

This is an excerpt from the "Hot Licks" instructional video described in Milkowski's book. It is said that Jaco hadn't performed for a while and was nervous. He borrowed $5 from his dad and bough a six pack to calm his nerves. He loosened up alright, as you will see in this clip where Jaco plays a little duet with himself.

Here is a live version of Jaco on piano playing his tune "Three Views of a Secret" with the incomperable Toots Thielemans on harmonica.

It is the combination of Metheny's mellowness with Jaco's wildness along with Bob Moses' solid backbone that makes Bright size life a magical recording. I reccomend listening to the album in its entirety, preferably over and over... and it helps if it's really rainy and wintery.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Regular-Type Normal Blog Post #1

I couldn't wait to post something other than my life story, so here we go...

I am a huge fan of musician and composer Frank Zappa.

Of all Frank's work some of my favorite is the Mother's of Invention stuff that features George Duke on Keys.

George has played with so many legendary players including:Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Cannonball Adderley to name a few. Oh yea... and he composed and performed with a guy named Miles Davis.

Some of my favorite George Duke stuff is with the George Duke/Billy Cobham Band which featured Billy Cobham on drums, John Scofield on guitar and Alphonso Johnson on Bass.

Here's a taste... to get a sense of his style, check out George Duke's solo around 4:15.

And since it's getting cold out here's some solo Dukey...
"Summer Breezin'"

The guy is such a master of the trade, it's easy to get lost in his music.

All you never wanted to know and more.

Well... I've had little luck with these things in the past. Its usually a bit like an old journal with about five entries and the rest blank pages. We'll see how it goes.
I guess I'll start with some background information.

I'm a family man first and foremost. Here we are:

Gibson, Frannie and Mitch

I grew up in Hudson OH, a small-ish, uppity, mostly quiet town somewhere between Cleveland and Akron. I spent most of my time in Hudson trying to stand out... as I was 6'4" with goofy hair and bizarre clothes, I did so with a good amount of success.

In High School I played Lacrosse, explored my fascination of music and spent entirely too much time drinking coffee at a local truck stop. I was lucky enough to see a good amount of live improvisational (hippie) music like The Grateful Dead and Phish. These musical experiences shaped the next several years of my life. I made some lifelong friends at this time with whom I try my best to keep in touch with.

We were at this show in Richfield Oh during the big blizzard of '93

In 1994 I moved to West Virginia to attend WVU. Unfortunately academics were pretty low on my list of priorities. At this time I made even more lifelong friends and learned a lot about myself. I was also able to develop my appreciation for the guitar.

After floundering around a few majors I decided to devote my energy to the one thing that interested me most, music. I studied jazz and classical guitar under Scott Elliot and was lucky enough to play in the WVU classical guitar ensemble and various jazz ensembles... with some very talented players.

Unfortunately graduation was not in the cards for me... yet.

I left school to enter the workforce. I moved to Dayton to work for my father where I eventually bought a small condo on Soliloquy Trail. Working for Dad at Maaco Auto painting I learned about the ins and outs of running a business and most importantly, I learned the delicate politics of dealing with employees and customers. Although I had achieved a certain amount of success in Dayton, I was not quite ready to settle down.

Around 2001 I moved back to West Virginia. I felt more at home in WV. Here I was able to play music with my friends which gave me a sense of identity. I got a job in a piano store, Keyboard World, where I was trained in the art of high-ticket retail sales. Keyboard World owner Ron Klientob was nice enough to send me to north Carolina to further study product demonstration and sales techniques at Kawai America corp.

At this time I was in a cool reggae band named Jahbone. I fully immersed myself in Reggae music and learned quite a bit about the music and culture. My roommate at the time had a home studio and our location allowed for all-hours practice so when inspiration struck we were able to maximize the experience.

After a while at Keyboard World I decided to try my hand at management. I became the General Manager of a small tanning salon in Morgantown. Out of character? a little bit, but I was able to further develop my leadership and problem solving skills and get some solid management experience. Managing a tanning salon was easy right? Not so much. We were located right on campus and saw a large volume of customers. I averaged about ten employees, most of which belonged to sororities. It's not easy to get a bunch of sorority girls to mop floors and clean bathrooms when all they are interested in is tanning.

Around this time I had the honor of playing with the Tom Batchelor Band. Tom was experienced in Roots, Rock and Reggae and had played with the legendary reggae band, Rasta Rafiki. In addition, Tom is a kind and nurturing teacher so this was a valuable musical learning experience for me.

Soon after playing with Tom Batchelor I met My beautiful wife Fran. We met on the cast of a community theater production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I played Chief and she played Nurse Ratchet. One day during a break we were walking to the Blue Moose to get coffee and she grabbed and held my hand. I was hooked.

Fran and I dated, and five friends and I co-founded a rock band named Thred. This was the first chance I had to really rock on guitar. Our music was primarily written by bassist, Adam Vanscoy. Lyrics were written by genius, and crazy man Brian Pickens. The music was rock, funk and dance oriented.

I also began working at the local brewery. The band practiced in the basement and was a hang out for us and our budding fan base. I really wanted to work with friends and was willing to start as a dishwasher. At the "Brew Pub" my work ethic stood out and I was soon moved to line cook status with some cleaning shifts on the side. The business was having tough times and was eventually taken over by Master Brewer, Ned Strauser. Ned believed in me and gave me the chance to bartend and help out in the brewery. Over the next two years I worked my way around the Brew Pub position by position ending up as the Night Supervisor.

It was at this time that Fran and I got married. We were married at Fran's home in Morgantown. It was a casual and easy-going wedding with friends and family... A real good time.

We honeymooned in Cancun. I think about it often, it was a beautiful trip.

Then came Gibbie.

All the floundering and soul searching ended with my marriage to Fran and the birth of my son Gibson. This is what it's all about for me.

So that's where I stand today. I'm back in school as an RBA with an area of emphasis in professional writing. I'm a full time family man. I'm no longer in a gigging band, but I'll have opportunities to play again eventually. I love learning and I love my family. I'm the luckiest man in the world.

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to and more about me, we can go on to some more normal journal type blog entries.

If you've read this far than you have already exceeded my expectations. This blog is intended mostly as a cathartic release for me... if someone wants to read it well that's great too.