Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Thoughts Of The Year

I felt it necessary to throw out some last minute thoughts before the lights go out on 2008. It has been an amazing year.

My life changed immensely as I married Kerry and moved to the opposite side of town. I know, the first part is expected to be a big change but I've always loved living on the northwest side of town. On the southeast... it's saving me time and stress getting to work and also saving my spouse some frustration with the freeway. In November we also welcomed in the final member to our quartet, Bella. (She has little respect for her older sibling and I expect David to be sleeping in the kennel soon.)

Our families have also had some big changes. After 7 years of hard work, my brother-in-law Cory has become one of the latest members of S.W.A.T. This increases our concern but also the praise we heap upon him for his contribution to the community and keeping us safe. My sister has taken on an added role in her administrative work for the Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation. (I still don't know how she finds the time.) My brother Michael is seeing the release of some films he has worked on and seems to have more direction in a very tough field. Lastly, Matthew has weathered the financial tsunami we are currently amidst amazingly well, as a member of the financial community. What can I say, Hennessys float but don't sink.

Our Web sites remain busy and we celebrated the 100th episode of our talkcast, Talking 80s Music with Martin Hennessy. We had the privilege to talk to a lot of celebrities this year (in and outside of interviews) and find it humbling that a passion could grow into something meaningful for many. We also made lots of friends that show up during the show, online and keeping track of us on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. Sadly, that affected our frequent posting here on Rantings Of An 80s Nut (a.k.a. but we are working on that.

Kerry and I have made some resolutions for the new year. Kerry wants to be healthier, more patient and advance a few more belts in Chun Kuk Do (karate... as she plans to punish me for leaving the toilet seat up. Just kidding.) I have several: I am counting down the days until I can take Bella for walks. I need the exercise and that kills two birds. I also am also working to uncomplicate the things that I make complicated, spend more quality time at home and organize my time. I would also like to keep up my reading pace as I finished off 35 very diverse books this year.

More important than introspection and all are my wishes for all of you. Uncertainty is a terrible thing and one thing that you can be sure of are your friends and family. Hold them close in 2009. May the new year be prosperous in your financial, romantic and intellectual endeavours. Have a very happy new year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

It just seems that we are getting busier and busier. But Kerry, David, Bella and myself would like to extend our hopes that you have a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, caring Kwanzaa and jolly Festivus.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Guilt Post

Things have been so busy that, yes, time to post has been limited... extremely limited. I'm looking at the date of the last post and feel extremely guilty. The biggest problem is needing to keep my eye on the P.M. (poop machine) that I mentioned previously. Our fear of her possibly getting parvo virus and other things (as she has only just gotten her second vaccination -- vet said outdoor walks/dumps when she is about 6 months old) have changed her dumping schedule and location. This means, watching the little pup with eagle eyes and keeping her on a leash near me when I'm on the computer. So far, so good. It's an adjustment for all of us. I have to say that the last book I finished, How To Raise A Puppy by The Monks Of New Skete, is really helpful... just wish I read it before getting Bella. We did steal a little time to do some Christmas shopping and she went with us to my mother's house for Thanksgiving. I can see that this blog is going to get a lot of puppy love now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Week That Has Really Gone To The Dogs

I can tell you that sometimes you don't get to know that you bear the same scars as your spouse until well into your marriage. Mine was Max. Hers was Cassie. I felt that I did something that led to my great dane's death and really never let myself get attached to an animal again. Cassie lived a long life but her passing away in Kerry's arms at the vet about 7 years ago closed that door for her as well. Neither of us needs a pet, right? I mean, we are newlyweds and have a son that makes cat noises about 4 times a day.

It may be for that latter reason that we talked about getting a dog. We made plans to both take the day off work yesterday (Nov. 11th) to take David on a surprise trip to the store to "meet a very special person in his life." Well, that was what we would tell him on the way there. Before that day would come, this would become a week that went to the dogs.

I think that I showed you a picture of the wall at my old home (now endearingly called the rental) with bricks falling over on our side. Part of that was due to the tree roots pushing the intersecting walls apart. The other cause would be the two big dogs the neighbor has that wedge themselves between the tree and the wall and push. I got a call almost a week ago that the neighbor's dog pushed another brick over and was jumping about half-way over the wall. Meaning, I had to confront the neighbor and fix the wall before their dog jumped over and killed the renter's pooch. I told them I'd be over on Sunday.

Sunday arrives and I go on my normal errands with the wife. I really do enjoy grocery shopping with her. It's some one-on-one time that we don't get often and a chance to show our thrifty sides. We are just returning home from the stores (with the plan that I will head over and work on the wall as she takes David and our niece and nephew to Shark Reef) when she gets a call from her sister. Our niece got bit around the eye by their dog. This killed the Shark Reef plans as well as our nephew spending the night (which really depressed David.) Kerry ran to the car to head to their house before going to the hospital. I unpacked the groceries and headed over to the rental. (As this seemed like a sign.)

A pleasant approach wound up bringing the neighbor and renter together in a joint effort to fix the wall. A large old sheet of wood left at the house worked perfectly to prevent further dog pushing. We also mixed up some mortar that I left there at the rental and re-stacked the brick wall. I left listening to the Raiders getting killed on the radio (this is rather expected though.)

Got home. Consoled David and brought him a little lunch. Our niece needed 7 stitches and was rather chipper about the whole ordeal. The sleepover worked out and they went to Shark Reef the following day after Chuck E. Cheese. I used the time to slip over to a pawn shop and purchase our first video camera. (We are calling it our gift to ourselves for Christmas.)

So we woke up this morning, did some shopping and got ready for our purchase. David was floored when we stood in front of a sign that said "Puppy Sale." We chose a beautiful female puggle we named Bella. Took her shopping for some necessities, went home and then went to my mother-in-law's house for a little birthday gathering for David. It was during these trips we discovered that Bella does have kennel cough and I'll be taking her to the vet tomorrow. So, the dog week continues but I have to say that I haven't yacked once cleaning up doo-doo this time around. Here's just a few photos:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Only Election Post On The Day Of...

I wanted to get this in during the 11th hour. As you can tell, I didn't spend time waxing political during this major election campaign. I do want to take this time to thank all those voting -- no matter what part of the ideological divide you may sit. Yes, it is expected that just under half of the nation will be either celebrating or looking for a recount. But, we have a wonderful country and a system of constituent participation unmatched. I'll just be happy when we can return to dreaded tampon and feminine freshness ads and be done with the phrase "I approve this message."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Through The Glass

I feel pretty bad for going AWOL for so long, so I'm giving you something special. You see, there is a new film coming out (had its premiere last week) named Though The Glass. You might not hear a lot about it but the film has some interesting things going for it. Check out this synopsis:

Jeffrey lives the ultimate bachelor's life going through numerous non-committed relationships, but struggles to excel at work and gain his father's love and acceptance. Jeffrey's life gets even more intriguing when life deals him a card that stops him in his tracks. On a typical day, he returns from work to find a note "take care of your responsibility" left on top of a baby who is abandoned on his doorstep. In nothing short of what is scary, confusing and comedic, he turns to his Nigerian neighbor, Ada who he has a secret crush on, to help him. What happens to the baby? Will Jeffrey break through the glass of his phobia for commitment and keep the baby? Will Jeffrey confess his secret crush on Ada?

Check out the trailer:

It sounds like 3 Men And A Baby but deals with 1 man and his commitment issues. You can find more information about the film at I know that you must be wondering why I'm excited about a film that seems rather relationship-based. I can only tell you that my brother Michael Hennessy is in the cast. (If you really must know, go to the Cast link at the site and you'll see his picture... you'll notice him in a few spots in the trailer.) I'll be keeping my eye on when it plays here in Vegas.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Going Video? Maybe

I feel bad about going AWOL. I think one of the problems with social networking is that you wind up spreading yourself a little thin at times. You focus on one area but neglect something else. A few months ago, someone listening live to Talking 80s Music was asking me why I didn't have a cam set up (as a lot of audio podcasts have gone on to video.) I told them that I didn't know and would consider it. Picked up a highly rated webcam online and tried to set it up... and it didn't work with Vista x64. Then I went to the New Media Expo and forgot all about the experiment.

That was until I was sitting down in the audience of TWiT Live. Leo was testing out a live video program that lets you record your show live with video and audio at I talked to one of their people and they gave me a webcam with a few software items. Remembering my past experience with this, it got shelved until last week. After the show, we tried out Stickam and... it worked. It seems the webcam has better drivers than some of the others I had looked at. Looks good. I don't know how the audio will work out but we will see. Essentially, by going to you can see the live video/audio feed (we'll see if that audio comes through) while recording the show Saturday at noon PST. It also has a second chat room that I will need to keep track of and yes, I'll be looking over my shoulder constantly.

Other than that, more reviews, cleaning and other nonsense getting in the way of my traditional posts. I hope to remedy that as soon as I start figuring out specific days for specific projects. My best wishes go out to all of you.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Vampire Rights Amendment

Been running around with a bunch of projects that don't seem to want resolution. We shall see how that comes about. Moments from now, we will be replacing the water heater (oh, joy!) But, I feel like I went AWOL and wanted to remedy that and share something with ya. How well do you remember School House Rock and the "I'm Just A Bill" episode?

Well, it seems that the promoters for True Blood have paid homage in a little video. Enjoy.

Kerry and Teri had been enjoying Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries series for quite some time and from the covers of the books... they looked like really cheesy romance novels. According to them, they definitely made some changes to the source material when adapting it for HBO but I have to say that I'm enjoying it enough to consider reading at least the first one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monetize It

I've told you before that the launches of the newsletter, Web site(s) and podcast were labours of love. But after over a decade of working on it, it's time to help it pay back a little. I've been thinking it over for the last few years on finding ways to make what I enjoy so much fiscally solvent.

With the podcast, I started taking in ads a few months ago. At least they are for products that I like and use but we will see if it pays off at the end of the quarter. I'd rather be promoting albums or concert tours.

With the newsletter, you just can't charge people to read news in the information age. Not even worth considering as I've seen others try and disappear. Ad placement could be possible but I'd need to grow the subscriptions a bit more and... I'm just not a 'pat myself on the back' kind of guy.

With the Web site(s), I have a little leeway. But, I don't want to sell sexual enhancement products. (I actually got an email from a company asking me to try and review a certain type of ring. If you see something like that on here in the future, I'll be ready for the white coat with restricted arms.) But, the aim is to promote music and possibly the site(s), podcast or newsletter. This has led me to I've thought about them before... mainly for some funny t-shirt ideas that I had. Now, I'm considering the use of their site to create custom gear to help promote what we have, grow the brands and pay a bill or two.

Now I just need to come up with a few good slogans for the tees. Stuff like "Over a decade celebrating a decade..." on one side and "" on the back. Or "Musical neutered? Get longer lasting pleasure with..." on the front and "Talking 80s Music" on the back. Time to brainstorm and come up with a pic or two. Any good ideas?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not As Part 'A Me

I specifically remember as a child, my mother breaking open packets of Sweet-N-Low in her iced tea. Of course, I was using sugar because it just tasted better. Then there was the day that I saw her switch to NutraSweet. A lot of advances have come in the realm of artificial sweeteners over the last 20 years. We now have Alitame and Sucralose on top of Saccharine, Acesulfame-K and Aspartame. Going on low-carb diets at different times in my life, the latter and Sucralose have been very helpful in cutting our sugar.

But last week, after a long time of looking at too many weird reports on Aspartame (from side-effects, FDA approval and chemical decomposition), I am seeing how long that I can avoid the stuff. Yes, that means reading more labels. The Diet Coke that I have every morning as my form of caffeine is now the Splenda version (or regular Coke at a drive-thru.) I see that most of my intake was coming from beverages. Do I believe all the stuff that I read online? Not really. I wanted to make a change and try something different and see the effect for myself. I do have to say that I'm not eating as much... which is kinda odd.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Racism & Sexism: 2008 Election

As nutty as that t-shirt is, it was the best visual to allow me to address an issue that's been in my head for the last week. You see, the day after the Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was announced, I saw something that I never really thought I'd see expressed openly. A black co-worker pulled me aside and said: "They just shot themselves in the foot." I said, "What?" He replied, "Foreign countries would see us as weak with a female VP, let alone a possible female President. Heck, most nations right now won't even show up to meetings with Condoleezza Rice because she's a woman." After having him clarify the Rice statement, I asked him, "You really feel that way." He responded, "There is no way that I want an emotional woman at the button."

As you might expect, this floored me. Not just the line of logic but that he had no reservations in saying it. So I said, "That's funny that you mention it now. What would you have done if Hillary was named as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee." He then said, "Well, our family talked about this and we said we couldn't vote for Obama if Clinton was on the ticket."

My jaw dropped open and I'm still left in awe of the exchange but more so that I thought sexism was a dying stereotype. In 12 years we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment and the 200th anniversary of the movement advocating women's suffrage. Nationwide, it wasn't until 1965's Voting Rights Act that blacks would see the end of most forms of disenfranchisement.

I had another co-worker ask me if I was voting for Obama. When I told him I was a Libertarian and leaning more towards Bob Barr, the response was "You just won't vote for him because he's black." It's a bit sad really when it is believed that the only reason people have to not vote someone into the highest offices in our government is because of color or genitalia. Do I believe that can happen. Well, from conversation #1, we know that someone will use the latter as an excuse not to vote one way.

With that in context, what shook me was how easy it was to be sexist despite having over half our population being women and their voting rights being affirmed nearly a century ago. I just didn't think that it was this prominent. Yes, you still hear cries of racism here and there. Never would I have thought that a presidential election would become a battleground or a momentary resurgence of gender and racial politics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Bureau - ...and another thing

Formed in late 1980 by when the original line-up of Northern Soul act Dexy's Midnight Runners split-up, The Bureau would release their self-titled debut album in Canada and Australia in 1981. The band went their separate ways despite scoring a #6 hit in Australia with "Only For Sheep." The album was finally released in the U.K. in 2005 with several reunion gigs following. This led to a little recording by a reunited version of the band (sans drummer Stoker Growcott) that has led to the upcoming release of ...and another thing. (Due out in October 6th in the U.K. but is available for order at

The album leads with "Run Rabbit Run" brass-heavy soul/jazz fusion that sounds like they are really enjoying themselves. The opening reminds me too much of Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" but it works as a hook for the gravely delivery of a dark narrative about a man and his pet. You can't dismiss the fun funk vibe that comes from "Save Me." There is a lot of James Brown to with track written by vocalist Archie Brown (no relation.) "Chance In A Million" is an emotional and pure piece. An interesting lyrical perspective that is hard to put your finger on with "A Fine Mess Rag" but an energetic rollercoaster ride. "Just A Word" is a great break from the Joe Cocker-esque vocal delivery early on the album although it harkens more toward Rod Stewart. It is a very beautiful use of horns and keyboards. You really start enjoying the instrumental layering and mix by the time "Falling" arrives. The album tracklisting (intentional or not) had "Divided In Two" and "Mad" switched. The former is a striking ballad and the latter is a frenzy of horns, organ, rhythm guitar in polka/country/blues. A strong jazz piano drives the meandering "Flying Lessons." "Nothing's Going To Stand In Our Way" may be the gem of the bunch with a strut that yields to lilting jazz and back in this duet between Pete and Archie. Also notable is the addition of bonus track of the haunting "Keaton's Walk" which was recorded before the group split up in 1982.

On ...and another thing, The Bureau have an amalgam of many different but alluring styles that they make their own. This is an enduring collection. The vocals on the early tracks take some getting used to but are acknowledged as character in the songs as much as Mick Talbot's keyboard delivery but both fuse together upon later impressions. This album is a joy to listen to and heralds the return of Northern Soul with a little more experience behind it.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Classically Martin: Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine

I have to say that the creative name didn't lead me to this band. Often just called Carter USM, the duo of "Jim Bob" Morrison and "Fruitbat" Carter released their first single in 1988 and were kind of an oddity as they merged samples, funk, guitar, keyboards and rap in what is sometimes hard to pin down (Beastie Boys/Bulletboys meets Pet Shop Boys) as anything but alternative rock. I'd urge you to check each of these songs out especially the last couple as you can see their growth as a band. They still kept the need to sabotage their work but that made them a bit more likeable. Even more funny to mention is that they didn't include real drums on any of their songs until 1994... which may have sped up their implosion. Since they have a lot of area to cover, I figured that I'd throw a few different songs up here in order of release.

"Sheriff Fatman" - 1989 (re-issued in 1991)

"Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" - 1990

"The Only Living Boy In New Cross" - 1992

"The Impossible Dream" - 1992

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Swing Out Sister - Beautiful Mess

For a group that surfaced in 1987, Swing Out Sister have never taken much time off. You would discover -- going through their discography -- that they've been pumping out albums every two to three years...until now. Four years after Where Our Love Grows, Swing Out Sister have created their 9th studio album, Beautiful Mess, due out in U.K. stores on Sept. 8th.

The disc grabs your attention early with the teasing and tantalizing groove of the first single "Something Every Day." Right there is ample evidence that Corinne Drewery and Andy Connell aren't falling back on their previous successes. "Time Tracks You Down" is lyrically astute and songbird Drewery gets to stretch her wings on some notes here. Expected as a possible single, "Butterfly," is beautiful and percussion-heavy but repeat listenings wear out the wings. A slight bit more experimentation surfaces in the textures used on "My State Of Mind" but seems to overpower the track. Close your eyes and you can't help but think Motown when hearing the electric "I'd Be Happy" which is a true gem here. "Butterfly Lullaby" (an instrumental interpretation of "Butterfly") is aptly titled and not recommended on long drives but maybe slow dancing. Lush build-up going into "Secret Love (You're Invisible)" as it utilizes the lull created by the former track and makes an abrupt but welcomed jump. Would just love to hear that remixed for the dance floor. "All I Say, All I Do" falls flat a little while "Out There" recaptures the torch with a stark keyboard opening, lightening as the layers build. The title track re-energizes the set as the disc closes. I can't recommend the Little Wizard bonus remixes of "Butterfly" and "Something Every Day" as they just don't add anything positive to the originals.

I specifically recall my father referring to Sade as 'sleepy music' yet, entirely enjoying Anita Baker. Jazz in it's many variations has a wide range of reactions upon a listener. Technically, Swing Out Sister's Beautiful Mess hits all the right notes for this reviewer but I believe it repeats a few of them too often. Far from a mess, the album still shines more than not and fans will receive it with open arms.

3 out of 5

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Every once in awhile I like to post a little about some restaurants here in town. Today, I wanted to tell you about my favorite place for pizza in Las Vegas. You see, for the longest time, I believed it was Aurelio's (located on Buffalo and Cheyenne.) Great stuff but a co-worker told me about Grimaldi's (9595 S. Eastern). I dismissed it entirely. A few months later he had told me how he came to believe it was the best pizza in town. He went to all the local places to try their food, took notes and rated them according to specific criteria. I never saw the notebook but decided that if he really did his research, I had to give it a try.

A few months ago, I took Kerry and David there as we had to go next door to fill out some insurance information. The detour was a good thing. The pizza was terrific and Kerry likes the caesar salad there (which isn't normal unless it's wrapped up with some chicken.) Anyhow, I had some free time with her today and she's been craving pizza. So we went. David may be upset. He was off horseback riding with my Mom. But, we saved two slices for him. If we are sharing our leftovers with him, we might as well share the word about Grimaldi's with you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

TWiT Face Review Musings

It's been busy and I wanted to at least post something before the week is up. Previously, I mentioned appearing on TWiT with Leo and Amber. It was pretty cool how, something set up like it is in the photo above, looked like it was done in a studio. They were surrounded by these chairs, some lighting and a producer's booth to the far side. Anyhow, someone attending took this photo during the show (I'm in the red shirt with black sleeves kinda in the middle) and shared it with some of the attendees so... why not share it with you.

One thing that I did get from the whole convention was the need to improve my level of contact my 'community.' One step in that direction was setting up the Facebook account. I always figured that having one on MySpace was enough but, logically, there are probably people that feel the same way at Facebook. I was pretty astonished to see how many of you were already there.

Lastly, I have a little bit of work ahead of me here as the new Swing Out Sister album, Beautiful Mess, and the Bureau's ...And Another Thing arrived yesterday. Reviews are an odd part of running 80s Music Central. It's how I started in music journalism at my high school newspaper. I remember cranking out opinion pieces on Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine, the B-52's Cosmic Thing, Bell Biv Devoe's Poison, the Thompson Twins' Big Trash and many others. Who would have thought that I'd still be doing that nearly 20 years later. I guess, the highlight of my reviews was when I was contacted in 2002 by some band reps that were trying to push for the release of another single from Def Leppard's X album and wished to use my review as fuel to make it happen. Maybe I better get started on these new ones.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage

Fans of Deep Purple and Rainbow may have had questions as to the disappearance of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. In 1997, he went into the night... Blackmore's Night and hasn't returned. But what exactly is a return, anyhow, as it seems he's having fun there releasing 6 albums together up to now. Led by singer/songwriter Candice Night, the band have released their seventh disc, Secret Voyage.

Rock, blues and country are an odd lot as they owe a lot to what has come before and even more to cross-pollination. New age music owes a lot to jazz and most music goes back to the days of the traveling minstrel. That is where Blackmore's Night come along and blur some lines between the Renaissance, Greek, rock and pop. The disc begins with a setting provided by the instrumental piece "God Save The Keg." Swept away into expecting much of the same, it is followed by the spellbinding "Locked Within The Crystal Ball." The tantalizing track is a harmonics dynamo built with waves of guitar virtuosity, mesmerizing vocals and a war drum rhythm section keeping the beat. Easy to get dizzy trying to count the instruments used on this outstanding song. It's hard to follow a lead like that but the subdued "Guided Cage" is mystery and beauty wrapped in strings... violin and flamenco. There are moments where you can hear flashes of Kate Bush, Celine Dion and even Sarah Brightman on these tracks. "Rainbow Eyes" is one of those moments and the pairing of this voice and guitar is spectacular. Other strong tracks here include "The Circle," "Sister Gypsy" and "Far And Away." The group does reach another crest with their cover of "Can't Help Falling In Love" (which even out-paces Lick The Tins 1987 version from the Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack.) The album closes with the lush "Empty Words" which eerily reconstitutes the refrain used in the album-opener "God Save The Keg."

Secret Voyage is truly a journey into musical forms we don't hear expressed often enough. Some styles do get incorporated into other media forms in light doses but Blackmore's Night has a talent for bringing these themes and sounds from ages past into a context of now. Stellar production and performances here. Secret Voyage is the best kept secret out there... just don't tell them that we spilled the beans.

4 out of 5

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Media Expo 2008 Wrap-Up

Do you remember, many many posts back, my rant about the shabby treatment given to my tech guru Leo Laporte by G4 or even his return? His shows Call For Help and The Screen Savers were my introduction into most of the technological leaps I took in the PC world. I can cite specifics all day but, notably, the icon you see on the site came from a suggestion co-host Amber gave me as a way to inexpensively add graphics to That same $25 that I paid for that picture by Jose Ramos has been used on there, here,, the podcast and as profile photos.

Anyhow, I go to New Media Expo on Thursday (yesterday) and I first caught an inspiring keynote address by Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. Very likely that I will go check his shows out later. Then I wandered around and talked to Zune, Blubrry, Podtrac, RawVoice and a few other vendors. That's when I turned down an aisle and saw TWiT Live. You see, the show (This Week in Tech) is Laporte's shows that he does as a video podcast. This one was using a technology called Stickam -- a video version of the technology that I use at Talkshoe allowing a chat room as you record your live show. So I sat there for awhile and found out that they were taking guests... Needless to say, I appeared on the show with Leo and Amber and talked about Talking 80s Music, their influence on me and spoke in defense of 80s music. Very very cool.

Anyhow, I had a great time and took home some goodies and a lot of knowledge on what I should have been focused on and where I'm heading next. I don't think video is coming too soon but we will see. I mean, it was Leo and Amber doing a test podcast called Net @ Nite on Talkshoe that led me there in the first place. I'm holding off on attending tomorrow to focus on the show but think that I found a spark for the gasoline Gary V. threw down in the keynote speech.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Summer Camp For Pod People

A very quick post, as I gotta get some business cards printed up before work. I took a few days off to attend the New Media Expo (think of it as a podcasters convention.) Some great conference sessions are planned and I have to wiggle room in so I can still attend while doing the newsletter Friday and show on Saturday (the expo runs Thurs. to Sat.) They even have a hands-on audio editing conference that I'm going to that uses the same software (Audacity) that I use for the show. But, hands-on means: bring your laptop. I don't have one, nor really like them. But thankfully, Kerry came up with a good idea of having me borrow one from someone for the day. I have to seriously thank them as well as Kerry's twin sister Kelly (yes, in Japan their names would sound alike) for watching David during Thursday and Friday. Anyhow... off to get business cards made... my printer is ticking me off. More about my issues with them in the future.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Objects In The Rearview Mirror (May Appear Stranger Than They Are)

During the last week, it seems that my visual perspective had changed. I started seeing everyday items, turned them slightly or saw them at a different angle. Suddenly, I viewed more and more items in this slanted and skewed way. So I tried to take a few photos to share them with you. This box of wet wipes sure looks a whole lot like the smallest port-a-potty that I've ever seen.

This one freaked me out a little. I expected that. if I had taken something hallucinogenic, the thing would have started talking. Looks a whole lot like a plastic duck's head with a wide smiling bill. I was told by the wife that in reality it is an extension of her blow dryer, turned upside down.

I wish I had taken more photos for you because there were some oddities. But I'm happy to share what little that I could document with you. Now back to your regular scheduled programming.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Extended Weekend

No, the bed doesn't mean that I have been sleeping away the last week. It has been rather active. I'll explain the bed as we go.

Yes, on Saturday we recorded the show and celebrated my birthday. It went a lot better than I thought it would. I have to say that I hadn't been as nervous about an episode of the show since we launched it in December 2006. We got a call early on from a new listener and then it seems Kerry worked out a plan to have her mother, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece call in during the show. Very cool and humbling. Later we went to dinner with Lloyd and Teri at Maggiano's had a freakin' amazing dinner. (We need to go back there again.) We also tried to coax Teri into a little karaoke after a little wine... I still think she sang along a little.

On Sunday, we went to dinner with my side of the family at my mother's house. Steak, chicken, potatoes, pumpkin pie... gotta love that. My nieces, nephew and cousins sang a few songs and "Happy Birthday" on a make-shift stage and it was all really sweet.

Kerry and I went to Best Buy on Monday to pick up a 160GB iPod. She now has the 60GB and David has his Nano. One per person, per computer... it's kinda like a technological addiction but everyone is covered. We then went to dinner at Fiamma Trattoria at the MGM Grand Hotel. Again, an amazing dinner and I fell in love with the seafood risotto (lobster, scallops and shrimp.)

Tuesday, Kerry and I went to see The Dark Knight, hung out at the house and then went to Boulder City to stay at Milo's Inn. We stayed in the Beaujolais room which was incredible (in the photo above.) We took a nap, walked down to Toto's Mexican Restaurant and back. Picked up two bottles of wine at Milo's Cellar. We spent the rest of the night finishing off those bottles and soaking in the hot tub. We are thinking of going back each year to celebrate our honeymoon. (Well worth clicking on their link attached to the photo as well as the one with the photos in this paragraph.)

The following morning, we had breakfast, lounged in bed and then checked out of the room. We returned to town (after a brief stop at my grandmother and grandfather's house to look at their computer) and relaxed the rest of the day until Kerry went back to karate.

Anyhow... I'm off to the shower before heading to work and wanted to just say that I had an amazing week and hope that you get a chance to step back and pamper yourself for a change. And I can't thank my wife enough for all that went into this extended weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Open Phones

Today is the last really busy day for the week. Busy because it is time to start writing the newsletter. I'm off to start that now. Then there is the show tomorrow followed by 4 days off. But, I wanted to put an invitation out to you.

As you know, I have a tendency to create weekly obligations that -- for me -- can feel confining over time. Now they are appropriately lumped right next to each other (Friday and Saturday.) When starting Talking 80s Music, I really didn't think it would fall on my birthday and if it did, it wouldn't happen this quickly. So tomorrow, it does and the episode will be a very open format. We may even try to set a record for how many calls we can take during the course of the show.

So, if you would like to use some of those free weekend cell phone minutes, you can call into our switchboard anytime after noon (PST) at (724) 444-7444. Enter Call ID 11757 and 1 (for guest) when prompted. By hitting *8, it will put your call in cue and you can hear what's going on until we get to you. Usually, we cover news until 12:30pm, so the best time to call would be anytime between then and 1pm. You could always just say hi, ask me a question or call me names. Ok, I gotta get back to work.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Scraping Pooh Off The Window

Yes, I think Teri is going to cry when she sees this. You see, the wife has swapped her Camry with my mother-in-law for her Tucson. It does give us two Tucsons in the household and gives us a choice for our trips (hilly inclines... 6-cylinder, flat area... 4-cylinder.) There are noticeable power drops when taking the 4-cylinder Tucson to L.A. despite the fuel savings. Anyhow, we had to clean up the car yesterday before presenting it to her mom. That included the removal of Winnie The Pooh.

Kerry and Teri are fans of the character (and have rhyming names that screw me up when I am tired.) Taking a razor to her car window was fun but I don't think the Pooh on her ankle will come off so easily. I wouldn't want that to happen either as you don't go into a marriage to give someone a makeover or smash their idols (pant-less or not.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

MS vs ZA vs My Patience

So many things that I can post about but right now, the easiest to talk about are computer issues. (Gotta thank Lora for letting me vent the other day.) You see, all these programs running on your computer have to know their place. Microsoft overstepped during a recent update... you know, the kind that force your computer to reboot in the middle of the night. Anyhow, the update killed the Internet connection for anyone using the Zone Alarm firewall.

Amazing how dependent one becomes on needing the Internet to research, troubleshoot and inform when it comes to computer issues. To put it more succinctly, it's like needing hands to put gloves on your hands. Thankfully, I was running Comodo firewall on the main computer leaving that one error-free.

Thankfully, it was so widespread that it got plenty of coverage and a fix was readied quite quickly. But it does make you think more about your software. Did several Zone Alarm users lose trust in the company during this episode and decide to change to another firewall product? If so, it would be quite sad that an outside company's update can hurt a competitor (as Microsoft has implemented a firewall in Vista.) I'm sure a conspiracy theorist out there has already figured that it is a plan to knock off one company at a time.

Interesting enough, the two computers we have running at home that use Zone Alarm have had mixed results. One took the remedy provided at the site quite easily while the other... wouldn't initiate it. I'm working on that second computer now (running a thorough analysis of the files on it) and hope to have it better than normal soon. It has also forced me to look into a new WYSIWYG Web design program (the one I use normally is on the messed up machine.) I'll explain more about that one shortly.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shifting Days, Audio Steams and Pretty Lights

So the move to Friday started today. I just didn't give myself enough time to properly prepare (I usually spend the day before taking care of little stuff.) Thankfully, I took today off of work, allowing me a few more hours to catch up. The show tomorrow will just have more news than normal.

I need to figure out the best way to interact with guests while reciting the news. Usually, I'll throw a quick shout out or reply to the chat room as I'm running through the script. I'm going to try to break it up a bit more and use a marker to remember where I was and take a few more calls. We'll see what happens. Usually, I only take them at the end of the show due to technical issues. (The recorder I use on my side -- which is generally cleaner -- utilizes the audio provided from Skype from the call. But the in-bound audio stream and out-bound audio stream get an abnormal time-shift when the recording process finishes. Essentially, it comes out all fudged up making the clean audio useless.) I'm testing a new beta version of Skype this week that may fix the issue just prior to the July 26th episode. [crossing fingers]

Otherwise, I'm beat. Did have a fun time watching the kids Kerry's side of the family light fireworks. It just takes me back. Also the smell of burnt powder reminded me of the 'big wheel' fireworks that you were supposed to nail into a wood fence or tree. (That sounds pretty safe doesn't it... nailing something that is on fire to wood.) Yet, whenever we did it... the thing would shoot right off that nail and into some random pile of leaves. (Probably wasn't safe there either.) Good memories.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Classically Martin: The Oak Ridge Boys

I don't think that I've exposed myself... wait, let's put it differently. I don't think I've shown as wide a swath of the genres that had an effect on my musical appreciation. This time, I wanted to touch on country.

Thanks to Daniel and Robin, Kerry and I accompanied them to see the Oak Ridge Boys last night. I've always believed in the saying "you better see them once while they are here" when it applies to acts that have been around a long time. I usually go into a show like this thinking that I'll know several expected songs and be shocked at some others that surface from the back of my mind while they play them. I love moments like that. And I have to say that they were far far better than I ever expected. Dan and Robin figured that Kerry and I were the only ones under 40 there. (Wheelchairs, scooters and canes galore. I asked aloud later if you can get a contact high from Viagra, Enzyte or Geritol.)

I tried to explain it to our hosts at the end of the show but there is nothing quite like the sound of Richard Sterban's voice. I couldn't help but smile at the vocalist who emits a bass sound as that just astounds the listener. I saw that same smile, grin and laughter amongst the attendees and I think that it is a sound so closely tied to joy in life. Absolutely amazing. The human voice truly is an instrument. Anyhow, I decided to share a few video gems from their impressive history with you.


"Bobbie Sue"

"Tryin' To Love Two Women"

I couldn't embed the last couple... more professional videos but the are just as important to post. Here are Little Things and Thank God For Kids.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Night Ranger - Hole In The Sun

Night Ranger. Many images and songs surface to memory when you mention this band who have sold 16 million albums worldwide. What doesn't arise are memories of studio work after 1998's Seven album. Until now. Despite a changing line-up during the last decade, the group played a lot of tour dates and even released several live discs and hits collections. In 2007, the band regrouped to record Hole In The Sun.

Many of the songs will have you checking credits and possibly searching to see if there is a new group that stole the Night Ranger name out there. There isn't. (To help guide the lost, they've even provided stunning acoustic versions of their classics "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" and "Sister Christian" as bonus tracks.) The band have matured. The powerful alcoholic prayer that is "White Knuckle Ride" is an outstanding rock track with a stellar breakdown that engages near the 3 minute mark. Rock tracks abound on this collection. The opener, "Tell Your Vision," blazes to life and harmonizes at just the right moments (eerily sounding like Blue October.) "Drama Queen" is a guitar work-out. The first single, "You're Gonna Hear From Me," is a song that you get the overwhelming urge to chant along. (Reminiscent of "Rock N' Roll Part 2" so I can expect it to be played at sporting events.) I never would have expected a song by the group to open like "Whatever Happened" but it is a clever chorus merged with minimalist Everclear-ish verses. "There Is Life" is a beautiful piano-based triumph. "Rockstar," "Hole In The Sun" and "Revelation 4AM" aren't slackers as they keep up what is a strong rock disc. Even the mellower "Fool In Me" seems to be placed appropriately as a break between some to the heavier tunes. Guitarist Jeff Watson and the group parted ways after recording the album but his influence isn't entirely gone as the relationship reflection of "Being" and the ZZ Top-esque "Wrap It Up," written by him, close the new tracks the disc.

This album is bursting with energy... solar energy composed of group synergy. Topically and rhythmically varied, it is hard to predict what is coming next. There isn't a single let down here. Night Ranger's sound here doesn't rely on old or tried tricks and makes it positively refreshing. Despite it getting released in Japan late last year, a few goodies (the bonus tracks) were placed on here to more than make up for it. I don't see a single hole in this album and I forecast that this sun truly shines on American shores.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All Of The Above

Time to tick a few people off. Energy issues have been a part of the American landscape for over 3 decades. It surfaced once in 1973, the again in 1979 and has come to a head again with gas prices passing $4 per gallon. Personally, I believe the status quo isn't working. So here are some quick thoughts on energy economics.

There has been a mania behind exporting jobs, importing cheap products and increased trade deficits that seems hypocritical when we consider that we export $1 billion per day (combined -- in order --to Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, Angola, Algeria and many others) in trade for two-thirds of the oil-based products we consume. (You may notice we purchase less from places further away as it costs more to ship.) When we make less than half of what we consume, that's a huge on-going energy deficit. And, when we pay someone else to extract oil, we provide a job extracting oil to someone in another country.

The notion that we can grow our own oil is a terrific one. Self-sufficiency through productive growth is ideal. Yet, it leaves us dependent on sunny weather. E-85 gets its name from the percentage of corn-based ethanol in the product (15% is gasoline.) The price of corn is climbing. Don't expect that to stop. The current Midwest flooding and other natural events such as drought affecting supply do not make for stable pricing. I will not go into the fuel's contribution to greenhouse gases as the studies will take some time. Just kind of odd to say you want to get off gasoline but you include it in the mixture when there are car conversions that allow you to run on vegetable oil which also could be affected by natural events.

Electricity is wonderful. The promise of hybrid cars is exciting. One presidential candidate has proposed a $300 million prize "for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars". Of course, the definition of 'leapfrog' is debatable but similar to corn-based ethanol... how stable is electricity? 70% of our electricity is created from fossil fuels. Many rightly claim that this means of production adds to air pollution and, yes, greenhouse gases. But, more dangerous is dependence on electricity. The rolling black-outs of 2000-2001 were not an anomaly. During another set of California rolling blackouts in 2005, The California Independent System Operator ordered the provider to "to reduce demand throughout its territory." I don't know about you, but I don't see us producing more electric energy without some clearing of legislative hurdles. Plugging in your car sounds amazing until a new wave of blackouts begin. I believe that this will lead to something similar to our watering plans ("People in plan C can plug in on Wednesdays and Saturdays.")

Windpower is wonderful. It is a growing form of renewable energy as states are able to make use of some land (and water areas) that might otherwise go unused.
As of June 30, 2006, the United States has 9,971 MW of installed wind capacity, enough to serve over 2.3 million average American households. Finding suitable area that isn't in migration paths are an issue here. For some reason, birds either don't see it or care. There are also a lot of people that don't find it visually appealing.

Hydropower has hope. But there are tons of different technologies being looked into. According to the IEEE, "
In fiscal year 2008, funding was provided to DOE for research on a wide range of advanced water power technologies. As part of its commitment to develop clean, domestic energy sources, DOE is collaborating with industry, regulators, and other stakeholders to investigate emerging water power technologies and further improve conventional hydropower systems." So possibly in the future. Sure dams have been around for a long time but creating power by releasing water is entirely dependent on rainfall and snowpack which are as predictable as... the weather.

Solar energy is progressing nicely. Oddly enough, BP -- one of those big greedy oil companies -- has been involved in its development for over 30 years. The technology is getting better for storage and return to the power grid. It's still costly due to the cost of the accumulators, the fragility of the components (glass, semiconductors and more) and regular maintenance. Again, aesthetics and land use are problems but it is getting more tempting to add panels to your house when you make the purchase. When it gets cheaper, expect panels on every roof. Yes, it requires mother nature's help again with plenty of sun.

The hydrogen engine is also appealing. There are several automobile models that are already using it. Despite the promise it may hold, there are critics that claim that it is one of the least efficient and most expensive ways to reduce greenhouse gases. And it may not even do that. According to an article published in the March/April 2007 issue of Technology Review: "In the context of the overall energy economy, a car like the BMW Hydrogen 7 would proba­bly produce far more carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline-powered cars available today. And changing this calculation would take multiple breakthroughs--which study after study has predicted will take decades, if they arrive at all. In fact, the Hydrogen 7 and its hydrogen-fuel-cell cousins are, in many ways, simply flashy distractions produced by automakers who should be taking stronger immediate action to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions of their cars."

Lastly, I'll mention nuclear energy. Remember when I said 70% of our elecricity comes from fossil fuels? 20% of it comes from nuclear energy. There are many arguments against its use (waste disposal, radiation and accidents creating a meltdown.) Of course, this isn't keeping global competition from going this route as China, Russia and India have plans to build over a hundred new plants among them in the coming decades.

If anything, what we do know is that there are a lot of alternatives out there when it comes to energy. Is America sitting on the fence when it comes to self-sufficiency? That's something for us to consider. Let's say that the best all-electric car comes along at an affordable price. Although, that kind of development is quite a ways off, it needs to be powered or it'll be useless. Emerging technologies are just that... emerging. It's important to develop these and let American ingenuity loose. Waiting and depending on the advancement of specific technologies to hopefully come save the day is wishful thinking. I wonder what would happen if we developed all of the above. Could these energy forms duke it out in a free market to lessen their costs and sharpen their focus? Could we become a nation that exports energy as well as intellectual property? I think that I'll revisit this topic 10 years from now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scheduling My Life Away

I have noticed that one of my biggest issues in life will be scheduling. It is so bad that when someone asks me if I will be free to do something on a specific date... I usually hesitate, delay and ask for later notice. Why? Well, it could be that I tend to take my days and associate them with tasks. Some of those have become recurring themes (the newsletter on Monday and the show on Saturdays.) After seeing those blossom, I worry about creating other weekly obligations. Especially now that I have a family that need to deal with that.

When the newsletter started, I was writing it on Fridays after I got home from work (around 3pm until 8pm or so.) They were pretty short and my search skills and correspondence with labels was non-existent. As things got more intricate, I was spending more time on Friday night writing. There was a woman that I was dating around that time that wasn't able to deal with my self-imposed obligation as it looked that I put that ahead of being with her. When that ended... I called it a day and stopped the newsletter. But, I was still looking up the news for myself and that relationship was over so I decided to move it to Mondays (which didn't affect concerts and could be seen as the start of the week news-wise.)

Now, years later, I'm looking at Mondays and most of Saturday being scheduled away. On Saturdays, when I cover the news of the week... it's missing 5 days or so of recent news. Doesn't seem right. Also, the wife has Mondays off. I've been considering doing the newsletter on Fridays as there is less missing news when I record the show the following day. Even when it went out on Mondays, it didn't get there until later on Monday so it was something people got after work. Changing this would also give me time that I can go away and really relax during the week and possibly schedule an interview here and there. Much to think about in doing this but, I think it is for the perfect reasons this time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

A happy Father's Day to all that it applies. I felt that I needed to try to make a post today. Yes, today is my first day that I can celebrate the holiday as David's step-father. I could never really celebrate it before (despite that deep dark secret that I posted about quite some time ago.) My mother would still call me on Father's Day before to wish me a happy one but now -- I feel like I might be doing more to earn it.

David is an outstanding boy. Overly inquisitive, very expressive and very concerned about disappointing his mother. I'd say that he reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger but someone please... tell me that I had a mute button on me somewhere. I find myself being strict and sometimes the 'bad guy.' I find my level of sarcasm is sometimes too harsh. Yet, sometimes he calls me Dad. Sometimes it slips, sometimes it seems forced but it reminds me that I have a life to guide.

I can only hope that I do as well as my own father. Yes, I think he was a little cold and a little stern when I was younger. (This may be how it is coming out of me.) But as I got older and became his friend later in life, I can say that he is one of the most giving individuals that I've ever met. There are lots of things I can say at this time about how he's inspired me to betterment but that would take more than a single post. What I can do is wish him a very happy Father's Day as I truly celebrate my first.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life Update: 061108

As usual, a lot has been going on. So, instead of letting it pile up anymore... it's time for another update.

  • Kerry's great aunt passed away during the weekend. I took today and tomorrow off from work as we will head to the funeral. I'm planning to do a little bit of reading during the ride there and back. Kerry's niece will be driving (her first out of town trip) and it should prove interesting.

  • The next time you are in the laundry room, take a look at the electrical sockets. Homes built before 1996 used a 3-wire cable (1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground.) The dryer we moved from the house to the rental (because we wanted to keep the good ones at the house) had a 4-wire cable. So, we had a dryer that couldn't use the outlet provided in the rental. Thanks to our friend Matt, this was resolved and relieved a lot of stress.

  • Kerry has gone back to the program that works best for her, Weight Watchers. I can understand that. Low-carb worked really well for me but I don't want to make that my lifestyle. I can see that she feels better about it already. We sat down and looked at how many 'points' that I'd have according to the Weight Watchers 'flex' plan. Something clicked in my head. If a good-sized grilled chicken sandwich could be around 8 points and I'm allowed 35 points a day (at my current weight, height, activity level, etc.), then why not think of every day as a 3 sandwich plus day. That is the idea in my head starting this week and it will help with portion control.

  • When were were having our garage sale, a family from a few houses over kept coming by to purchase items. Kerry was at the house cleaning recently (as we plan to rent it out soon) and the relatives of that neighbor stopped by to ask if we planned to rent it out. We've had that on our minds while finishing the clean-up. That family has submitted their rental application and we expect to sign the lease with them on the 21st.

  • Too many good albums came out recently. I'm floored by how good the new Journey album is. At $11.88, it's a steal. (Two CDs and a DVD... how much would each of those sell individually? Someone is taking a slight loss on this.) I expect the album to make the top 10 if reported by Wal-Mart.

  • David tested for purple belt at karate this week. It does remind me of when I took tai kwon do while in Junior High with my father. Didn't stay long enough to test beyond gold belt. In retrospect, it was a good bonding time for us back then. I'm quite proud of him.

  • So far, I've been working out on the Wii Fit about 4 days a week. It is pretty outstanding when you can get physically sore and sweaty from a game system. Never knew how aerobic an excercize using a hula-hoop can be. (Especially doing it for 10 minutes.) The lunges really do burn. I also really enjoy the rhythm boxing. Yoga is pretty interesting as well and I can feel a difference in my posture as I walk around at work.

  • Back a few weeks ago, I was absolutely giddy when I found out that Yaz (or Yazoo in the U.K.) were coming to Las Vegas. I found a secret code on their MySpace page and was able to purchase tickets early. I was thrilled... until I got the notice that they canceled the concert this week. Now I'm a bit down about it. It's like someone yanked away the dangling carrot. Over 15 years ago, Depeche Mode were coming to Las Vegas. My dad knew someone promoting it and I wound up getting tickets (which I still had to pay for.) They canceled that show the day of due to Dave Gahan having the flu or something. Alan Wilder left the band right after that and even though they rescheduled, I was still upset enough that I now didn't want to go. I'm feeling the same way at this moment.

  • Kerry has changed her last name. Yes, to mine. This has also had us going to different places to consolidate accounts. I'm heading to both her bank and mine in a moment to add our names to each others account, in case of emergency.

That's probably enough to keep you busy. So much more. Too many ideas to post. So little time. Hope you are all doing well!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Bret Michaels - Rock My World

After two stints starring in Rock Of Love and a run as a celebrity judge on Nashville Star, Poison frontman Bret Michaels has released his third solo album, Rock My World. The disc features two new songs with remixed and remastered material from his previous solo albums.

Rock My World launches with the playful first single "Go That Far" which also served as the theme song to Michaels' Rock Of Love. Highly appropriate to start the disc as it is familiar to fans that are new to Michaels' solo music. The other new track is "Fallen" which is honestly the best track on the disc. Lyrically potent, the song may be looked at as "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" retread but I would have to differ there. "Driven" (which first appeared on Michaels' 2005 collection Freedom Of Sound Vol. 1) is a welcomed inclusion here as it is as high on energy as it is sexual innuendo. If anything, the most musically diverse tracks were taken for this set and sprinkled throughout the disc. The Blink 182-ish "Bittersweet" feels a little odd in the set when surrounded by powerful songs like "Raine" and "Start Again." "All I Ever Needed" is outstanding and Jessica Andrews vocal assistance adds a needed hint of femininity. "Menace To Society" is lyrically abysmal but the energy is infectious. "Right Now, Right Here" has some haunting moments nestled in the chords. "It's My Party [2008 Mix]" is just an out and out party song.

There is a reason that we avoid reviewing previously-released material. If you've heard it, there is less of a reason for us to tell you about it because you already have an opinion. This collection straddled the fence of our review policies as it contained new songs, new mixes and mastering. That said. This is a good overview of his recording styles. Some may find those 'styles' may be too much, too diverse or too manic for their tastes. That may be good, though, as the project director knew enough not to overload the set with ballads when titled Rock My World. We recommend this album for those newly interested in Michaels' solo career and believe several of these songs deserve inclusion on all of your iPods.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Understanding The Long Journey

Ok, I want you to imagine you have this amazing band that has sold millions of albums but are having lead singer problems. We won't go into all of them but the guy that brought the glory has moved on, the guy that replaced him has vocal issues (not good for a vocalist) and the guy that you had fill in for him doesn't seem to work in your vision of the group's return to prominence. Well you do a vanity search or two on YouTube.

That's pretty much where guitarist Neal Schon was when he stumbled upon this video of a band called The Zoo from the Phillipines.

So, instead of becoming the next group to be featured on Mark Burnett's Rock Star, Journey have their new singer, Arnel Pineda. The album came out yesterday and is getting rave reviews (some less so for the second disc of re-recordings of the band's hits.) A 3-disc set is exlusively available at Wal-Mart (for less than $15 from what I have heard) which includes a live DVD. You can go to their Web site and hear samples from the album as well. Not sold on it yet? Check out this video of the new Journey line-up playing a concert earlier this year in Chile.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Boxes That Time (And Martin) Forgot

Still have some work to do at the other house (the rental) today and possibly this weekend but we're almost there. Of course, there is still work here to do but I do see the end of the tunnel. Just finished reviewing the new album by Man Raze (Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, his former Girl bandmate bassist Simon Laffey and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook) and can't get some of the songs out of my head. The disc comes out on June 3rd but I've been given permission to feature it on the show on Saturday. I'd love to call it an exclusive debut but I won't push it. We are supposed to also do a special Bret Michaels week soon where we will give away copies of his new Rock My World album (one on the show and one in the newsletter.)

I took yesterday off work to go through some things in the garage at the rental. Found some pretty hilarious things. Many photos, old notes, letters, awards, clay pottery and cassette tapes. The notes are interesting because most of them came from Belinda, a girl that I was friends with in high school, that she would write during class. We are talking about 60 or so that were just sitting in a box somewhere. It's amazing how oblivious I was to the interest level of women around me when I was a teen. The photos are great. Definitely plan to post some of them. I found a better version of my prom photos and.... a photo of my former band Fak-shen. I might try to track down something to convert some of the audio from the tapes so you can have an idea of what the sound was like. There are also some unlabelled tapes that I need to go through. Tanya asked me about a decade ago if I still had a tape of her friend's band (which I swore that I gave back to her to give them.) I need to go through those to confirm it.

Enough babbling but I didn't want to let you think that I dropped off the face of the earth. Been working out with Wii Fit each morning. Doing really well with it and I've canceled my Athletic Club membership. (The buffet last night didn't help... but it was a special occasion.) Oh, btw... it's our two month anniversary. Please tell me, do people count anniversary months like baby's ages? 20 month anniversary, anyone? Hope you are all doing well!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Man Raze - Surreal

Man Raze was created when Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen met up with his former Girl bandmate Simon Laffy in 2004 and mentioned some songs he'd been working on. Phil then bumped into Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and ensnared him into the project. They released their first single, "Skin Crawl," in late 2005 and saw it make the top 10 on the U.K. Rock Singles chart. They gave away their next single "Turn It Up" as a free download. Work on the album (at the Dublin home studio of Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott) has now birthed their debut album Surreal.

"This is the age of experience..." The opening lines of the first track, "This Is," gets to the point right away. These are music veterans that know what they are doing and all they require is for you to sit back and enjoy the ride. The songs are crisp, sharp and don't linger longer than necessary. The rhythm section is flawless, the guitars blaze and the vocals by Simon and Phil are passionate. Influences touching on ska, rock, blues, pop and garage abound without sounding like unabashed tributes. That can be heard on the opener which subtly evokes the Foo Fighters, "Turn It Up" has Def Leppard echoes and "Runnin' Me Up" feels like 311 covering the Police. Brilliant tracks surface shortly after like the driving "Every Second Of Everyday," the electric "Can't Find My Own Way," the scorching "Skin Crawl," the pleading "Low" and the anthematic "Halo" which are all single-worthy.

Surreal is a very appropriate album title. First impressions are always important. If there were one negative thing that could be said about the disc is that it is front-loaded with 3 tracks that make one wonder where it is heading and if the band have a sound of their own. That gets resolved quickly on the following song and the album really soars from there. Repeated listenings do lessen that early effect and make it more enjoyable. In fact, I believe it could be looked at as them shattering all preconceived expectations early so they can get to business. That aside, Surreal does answer the prayers of those fearing rock music's slow death. You can find Man Raze's tire marks among those on the roadkill that was that rock rumor. This creative and versatile album is sure to satisfy.

4 out of 5

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Renewed Interest In Reno

Remember that week that I was renting a U-Haul to do some moving? Well, a few days earlier, I stopped by to help Tracy and Jason with loading up their stuff as they move to Reno. I really can't count on one hand the friends that I've had the longest. It could be that I'm a busy-body, a recluse, self-centered or completely inept at sustaining life-long friendships. There are some exceptions (some that are reading this right now.)

Tracy is the longest female friendship that I've retained on that previously-mentioned hand count. We were roommates for some time and saw each other through some rather bad moments... which I now consider growing pains. We've both changed immensely since then. I do consider her my second sister. Every year, I'm more and more proud of her accomplishments and she is one of the greatest examples of what self-determination and educational pursuit can achieve. I give a lot of credit to her husband Jason as they are terrific team.

Anyhow, I wanted to take a moment to post this photo up here and share a few of my friends with you. Then again, I know they read the blog here and there (so it'll really get Tray teary-eyed if she catches it.) I know that I'm not the most attentive, visible or communicative of friends but you are always in my heart and thoughts. Their daughter Sonja (and her soon to be born sibling) couldn't do better when it comes to parents. See that smile on Sonja's face in the photo above? I don't travel often but add that to a list of new reasons for a few visits to Reno.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We Wii

As many people may know, I have been avoiding console games for most of my life. (Dating back to the Atari 2600 and 800.) There is just something wrong with having an entire box become obsolete. I say this because I was big into the online role-playing games for awhile. I would leave work early just to come home and play Dark Age Of Camelot. Most of the weekend would disappear as well. Anyhow, I have always welcomed a game onto my computer more than buying 'the latest' system.

I do have to put a little of the blame on Lloyd and Teri for letting us play with their Wii one night when we were over for our purchase. Kerry absolutely loved the games and interaction. Wouldn't you know that when all our wedding gifts were added up that we had $250 in Best Buy gift cards (enough to get the Wii.) She was hopping around the house singing/chanting: "We're getting a Wii! We're getting a Wii!" So, it is done.

I've decided that I'll be canceling my gym membership and putting the money aside from that towards some of the interactive games they have. It is the first system that I've seen where you can get an aerobic workout in by playing some of the games or taking some of their physical tests. With that in mind, we pre-ordered Wii Fit (I'm putting the YouTube video of the commercial below). I think there is a better chance that I will go to the living room than to the gym. It also looks fun. A little expensive at around $90 but if it keeps the family entertained and slightly more active... it's a winner.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ibuprofen Sunday

Today is the big move of items from the house and 'the rental' to storage. This coordinated effort has some problems already but we'll see if we can pull it off. First we pick up the U-Haul at 8am. Then we put the entertainment center from the house in it. We then come back to the house and wait for reinforcements (Greg and Kerry's nephew Anthony.) We then head to 'the rental' and load up a very old and heavy player piano that belonged to my great grandfather on my mother's side (the Indian reservation in North Dakota.) The issue with that is we have 3 men to lift it... usually takes more but maybe I can snare another somewhere. Anyhow, that goes to Mom's house. We come back to the rental, load up, and take some things to donate to charity. Lastly, we come back to the rental and grab all the stuff going into storage (sectional, tables, speakers, DJ equipment, CD collection... etc.)

A lot of work and I think that typing it out helped solidify it in my mind. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday and Cinco de Mayo!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Van Morrison - Keep It Simple

Grammy award-winning Northern Irish vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Van Morrison has returned with Keep It Simple, his follow-up to 2006's Pay The Devil. What can a critically-lauded performer hope to achieve with his new 11-track self-produced disc of his own compositions?

The answer to that question is simply perfection. The songs here are stripped down yet vibrant and emotional. The disc opens with the bluesy (with hints of gospel) jam, "How Can A Poor Boy." The song hardly prepares you for the other tracks but allows one to see his versatility as a songsmith. That can be best seen in the form of "School Of Hard Knocks" which boasts an unforced rhythm and delivery reminiscent of a Schoolhouse Rocks episode... our favorite song on the disc. A close second is "Don't Go To Nightclubs Anymore" which is hard to shake out of your head. Beautiful instrumental separation and layering only enhance his lyricism here. "Behind The Ritual" is a great character development piece. It's actually hard to find a song out of place here that should have been omitted... leaving me to believe there are more gems waiting to be released.

The album title pretty much sums it up. Keep it simple! Van Morrison has done that by creating uncomplicated pieces that feel like a part of the songbook of life. I can only hope that radio gives the album plenty of air-time to awaken a deeper music appreciation in the public. Not simple but simply beautiful.

4.5 of 5

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Classically Martin: Asia

It's been awhile since I posted any music here. So, I figured that I'd flash backwards and get current with one of my favorite acts... Asia. I've always been a big fan of their first two albums (Asia and Alpha). The band chemistry is obvious and evident. So, 25 years later, after many line-up changes that left keyboardist Geoff Downes the sole member, the original members have released Phoenix.

Below, I will place a video for a single from each album (one's you may not remember) leading up to "Never Again" from their new album. Enjoy.

Only Time Will Tell

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

Never Again

Friday, April 25, 2008

Life Update 042508

Yes, 10 days is a little too long for me to go without a post. There have been a few things going on. Work on future projects. Work on current projects. And well... just overall confusion too.

First off, I need to say that I've very thankful for my two brothers-in-law. The weekend after we returned from the cruise, Kerry and I decided to move some of the good appliances from Casa de Hennessy West (soon to be called 'the rental') to Casa de Hennessy East. Greg (who is married to Kerry's twin sister Kelly) got roped into the deal and helped immensely as the washer, dryer and refrigerator were swapped between houses. The next weekend Cory (my sister's husband) gave up his Sunday night to help us move the bed, wine cabinet and a bunch of other things. (We were just happy to spend some time with him, Michelle and the kids.) So now all the major things are moved.

After moving the nice gas dryer and other appliances to Casa de Hennessy East, we discovered... no gas outlet in the condo. This meant that Kerry was taking our clothes to her mother's house (a few blocks over) to clean them while I did a little work. Her stepfather works for the gas company and teaches many of their employees how to install gas pipes. The thought of the task seemed overwhelming in scope but hours later he showed me a diagram and it clicked... solidly, as if I could do it in my sleep. The dryer is opposite the gas stove, so it meant changing an elbow joint to a T joint. Everything runs well (it's been checked for leaks) and, now, I just need to do a little wall repair.

All the moving isn't over yet. We now have a lot of duplicate products. The extras include: 3 televisions, 2 VCRs, 3 television stands, several phones and a bunch of kitchen products and other things. That means... garage sale on Sunday. Tomorrow night, we will head over there and sort through a bunch of things and set them aside for sale (with a planned post on, placement of some signage and a visit to the Mann's to get some stuff out of their garage.) All that doesn't sell will probably go to charity or in a storage unit during the following Sunday with the planned move of a very heavy player piano that needs to go to Mom's. (If you scroll down aways, you'll that see she replied to one of the wedding posts.)

Saturday is the NFL draft. The fact that it's been moved back to noon PST does not help. I'll be busy recording the show. (I'll probably have it on mute and look over my shoulder every 7 minutes or so.) Of course, this happens to be possibly the most serious episode of the show we've attempted. We will be focusing on AIDS this week. A lot of people forget how tied the disease is to the 1980s. We will play a few songs from several artists that lost their battle with AIDS as well as talk to a fellow 80's music fan that is participating in AIDS Walk New York 2008. A donation will be made in 80sMusicCentral's name and we are hoping to get a few other people to stop by her donation page to sponsor her with what little they can. If you would just like to lend her your support, you could also stop in the show's chatroom at around noon PST or call in (they put the instructions up there.)

So much that I'd like post about right now but I also have so much to do. I just couldn't leave you out of the loop too much longer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rocking Cruise

Yup, we're back. So much that I can type about but sorely limited on time. Have a few projects that I need to get done (you'll hear about them soon) but wanted to quickly put a few fun photos up from the cruise. You see, I've always wanted to do some rock climing and they just so happened to have it on the boat. The photo above is of me. The last three are of Kerry. (She did amazingly well considering that she had those nails on from the wedding.) Not great quality pics as they came from my phone.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Gone, Gone, Gone

Yes, it's really early on a Monday and the newsletter is going out right now. Kerry and I are heading toward L.A. to catch our boat. (L.A., San Diego, Ensenada, Catalina and back.) I don't think anything has made her happier during the course of our days of wedding planning than repeating the phrase "I'm going on a cruise!" She has wanted to go on one for so long. Kind of weird though... they don't give you an address to where you are heading. Hard to enter in a route if MapQuest doesn't have a destination. We just put the city in instead. Just get us close. hahaha I don't get a chance to go on vacation often, so I'm making the most of it.

We will be moving a lot of things when we get back from the trip so this rest will be useful. We decided to trade the nice things in my house with some from her condo as we plan to rent out the house. Bed, big screen TV, washer, dryer and refrigerator... fun fun.

I better get going but wanted to get a post in before we leave. I'm just about to check for last-minute news before we sending out the newsletter. Have a great week! I know that we will.