Friday, December 28, 2007

The Space Casey Podcast by Christiana Ellis


“Some heroines will steal your heart… This one will steal your wallet.”

In my never-ending quest for cool stuff to read and listen to, I’m always on the lookout for something that makes me laugh.  There’s just something magical to me about people who can string words together and have them echo with the wit, humor and sarcasm that I like to think exists in my own mind, but rarely actually does.  I’m drawn to writers like that and if they can somehow find it in themselves to tickle my inner geek by making me laugh in outer space…I’m a fan for life.

A long time ago, my friend Andie introduced me to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Soon there after, I was hooked on all things that had to do with towels, the phrase “Don’t Panic” and the number 42.  I just loved the smart and funny voice that Douglas Adams wrote in and when he passed away, I will admit to being selfishly distraught because I would never get to hear that voice again.

All these years later I read, “Some heroines will steal your heart… This one will steal your wallet.”  And I laughed.  That’s all it took really, one line and I knew I had found something that had the potential to make me a fan.  I also knew there was another podcast I had to listen to by the name of Space Casey.

Christiana Ellis, author of the painfully funny Nina Kimberly the Merciless podcast novel, recently began podcasting her latest project, Space Casey at the end of November 2007.  Her writing with Casey has that same witty and irreverent feel that initially drew me into Douglas Adams’ work. 

Ellis has also continued to hone her already wickedly funny writing, which she first showed off in Nina Kimberly, into a tighter and more polished outer space epic with her latest work.  Space Casey is funny and whip smart with a heroine who you want to like, but you’re never quite sure of her motivations.  You’re relatively sure there’s more under her roguish space fairing exterior than larceny, piracy and her attempts at one big score but you just can’t prove it…yet

I guess I’ll just have to keep listening to Space Casey, her neurotic spaceship AI with a fashion sense and the splashing sounds of a hyper-excited space spider with a crush to find out what happens.  Just like I had to keep reading all those years ago to find out the answer to life the universe and everything.  Once again, I’m looking forward to the ride.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

7 Things I Will Never Tell You from Tag In The Seam by Leann Mabry


I listen to my iPod a lot. I’m jacked in all day at work to help me both concentrate on and forget about the work that I do. I listen at the gym. I listen in the car. The fact that my Prius had an iPod/aux in jack was a huge deciding factor in my getting the car…well, that and the astronomical cost of gas these days. That being said, I have a serious need for new content. I used to get all of it from either music or Audible.com, where I would download audiobooks.

Both of those have fallen by the wayside lately with my discovery Podiobooks.com. From Podiobooks.com I found a deep well of great new authors who produce amazing work. The quality of those works pushed me to research the authors and, in turn, led me to their websites and in some cases their other podcasts. Now even that find is bearing fruit, in that those same podcasts are recommending even more people and podcasts I should be listening to.

A combination of all of those circumstances recently led to me download one of the most amazing pieces of audio I have ever heard. I know that people throw terms like “most amazing” around without there being a lot behind them most of the time, but in this case I’m not saying it just to have something to say. I promise you that if you take the time to download Episode 25 of Leann Mabry’s Tag In The Seam podcast, your mind will be blown just like mine was.

Episode 25 of Tag In The Seam was originally released on June 18, 2007. I’m not going to tell you anything about the content of the episode other than its name, which is 7 Things I Will Never Tell You, for two reasons. The first of which is you really should listen to it without any preconceptions of what you’re going to hear. In other words, you should just experience it.

The second of which is I don’t have the words to describe what I heard exactly. I guess I could say that it’s the arual equivalent of a "trip", but I would only be speaking second hand and not doing Leann Mabry’s creation justice. I find myself in an unfamiliar situation akin to trying to describe what the color blue is to some one who was born blind. I just can’t do it.

I know what I heard was powerful and yet compassionate. I know it was personal to the point of being intimate and yet and an altogether isolating experience. It was light and dark, color and black and white. It was all of those things together at the same time.

Try to think about a painting for a minute. When you view it up close, you can see colors and brush strokes and all kinds of little things that don’t really make any sense. When you step back far enough, you can see what all of the parts that were out of context become, but you’re no longer able to see the individual pieces. If 7 Things I Will Never Tell You was a painting, you would be a fixed point in a room while it flew towards you and away from you, constantly changing perspective from one moment to the next; occasionally the whole, occasionally the parts, occasionally both.

That’s the closest I can come to describing it, but the only thing that can truly do Leann Mabry and 7 Things I Will Never Tell You justice is if you go and listen for yourself. So please go listen, you won’t regret it.



More about 7 Things I Will Never Tell You:

It’s not work safe or kid safe so be prepared. Listen in front of your boss or junior at your own risk.



More about Leann Mabry:

Leann is the host of her Tag In The Seam podcast as well as the owner of one of the most amazing voices in audio. If you listen to 7 Things I Will Never Tell You and think she sounds familiar, that’s because she probably is. If you’ve ever listened to a podcast or a podcast novel, odds are you’ve heard her. She has lent her voice to numerous trailers for podcast novels as well as been a voice actor in the podcast novels Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana as well as Billibub Baddings and The Case of the Singing Sword both by Tee Morris, Murder at Avedon Hill by P.G. Holyfield and The Metamore City Podcast by Chris Lester just to name a few.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Onthepod.net's LIVE Twitter from The Police live in Charlotte, NC: 11/15/07



Hello again everyone,

What follows is a transcript of my LIVE Twitter play-by-play from the Charlotte Bobcats Arena, in lovely "Uptown" Charlotte, NC on 11/15/07 where The Police played a show on their 2007 reunion tour. Hope you enjoy it!


At the police show. Opening band was good but can't remember their name. (Fiction Plane - fronted by Joe Sumner, Sting’s son)

22 bucks for a burger BBQ sw (sandwich) fries and a drink. Bobcats arena is anything but cheap.

Cost offset by finding spot on street a few blocks away and not in the $20 lot

Here they come

* Opening with Message In A Bottle

Minimal crap on the stage and they sound amazing

* Stewart had drum problems at start of song two. Synchronicity

Cool screens above stage with video of each member.

Cool bid (vid) effect with red, yellow and blue from album (Synchronicity)

* Walking On The Moon. And I meant video effects.

They’re totally just jamming (on) the bridge of this song.

* Sorry don't know this one

Very cool solo break by Andy. They all look like they’re actually having fun.

* Don’t Stand So Close To Me.

Ripping guitar intro by Andy

* Don't know the song. Driven To Tears? God, as a band they’re so tight.

* They’re on fire as a unit tonight. Sorry don't know this one either.

Into hit the road jack. That was weird. But cool

* Song from the first album

As far as reunion tours go...this one was done right.

The sound quality is outstanding too.

*Every Little Thing

Their sound guy should get a medal. Best sounding arena show I’ve ever been to.

* Wrapped Around Your Finger

Very orchestral airy arrangement for three guys to pull off. Stewarts playing kettle drums

Back on the kit

Back to the perc (percussion) again. Awesome

* Do Do Do

* Invisible sun

Sting and a pan flute

More percussion for Stewart

* Walking In Your Footsteps

Weird dinosaur animation

*Can’t Stand Losing You

That was last song

Cool Ghost In The Machine graphics


Encore

* Roxanne

* King Of Pain

* So Lonely

* Every Breath You Take

They left Andy out there by himself

Encore two

* Next To You

That’s it kids. The Police have left the building.

Great show. Now off to find the car.


The following comments were posted after the show


Overall impressions of the police show. 1) Great show 2) Great crew as lights, video & sound were fantastic 3) Eat before you go

I met Sting a few years back on one of his solo tours and he was very "English"...that doesn't seem to have changed much. ☺

Finally, I get the impression that when sting does his little "a-oooo" thing, Stewart Copeland would like to shove a drumstick up his... (Sorry ran out of characters on my Twitter post…oh well, you get the idea.)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sponsor Me As I Write My Fingers To Bloody Little Stumps For NaNoWriMo

Normally I wouldn't do this at Onthepod.net, but it's for charity. Check it out, investigate it and if you're interested, give me a click. I thank you for your support.

Hey, It's your favorite aspiring novelist and podcast host here, and as I'm a bit late to the game with most everything thing else, I figured why not with this too. BUT...there's always a but isn't there? BUT, you can now sponsor me as I type my fingers to bloody little stumps as I reach 50,000 words before November 30, 2007 for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. There's good news too (See, there's already good news...): 1) You can actually help out kids who want to write. 2) I'm already past 17000 words as I write this post. 3) Did I mention the bloody stumps part? I mean, I know that only applies if your into that kind of thing of course...but hey who am I to say? Anyway, here's the quote from the sponsor page below and this whole post is one big fat link to the site...so click it!!!


Hi there! Thanks for coming to my fundraising page for the National Novel Writing Month. This fall, I'll be joining 100,000 authors in the challenge of writing a book, from scratch, in November.

It's going to be a busy month! As I write my novel, I'll be raising money for the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light, whose free programs such as National Novel Writing Month have helped spark a lifelong love of writing in kids, teens, and adults around the world.

Thank you so much for your support of my writing and the Office of Letters and Light's literary mission! If you can think of anyone else who might be interested in sponsoring me, please forward this page along to them.

PS: You should think about writing a novel in November too! Find out more at www.NaNoWriMo.org



Thanks for humoring me,

Joe Mieczkowski
(aka: pseuodjoe)
(akaaka: your friendly neighborhood podcaster)



Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Participant

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Voices of New Media: Author & Podcaster Matthew Wayne Selznick

Matthew Wayne Selznick is a firm believer in doing things yourself…and, he practices what he preaches. He’s an author, podcaster, publisher and musician and the end result of all his creative endeavors can be found online at his website, www.mattselznick.com. I was first introduced to Matthew Wayne Selznick through Mur Lafferty’s podcast I Should Be Writing where he was discussing, among other things, his novel “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era.” That’s where I started, so why don’t we?

“Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era” is, according to Selznick, “The Breakfast Club meets X-Men.” While it doesn’t have capes or Judd Nelson, it does have people with extraordinary powers and a cast of characters who are mostly in their teens. Its also one of the best written fictional accounts of what its like to be different in the biggest popularity contest there is, high school. Thanks to the writing in “Brave Men Run,” the main character, Nate Charters' experiences on the page read like they’re experiences off the page. They breathe and are full of a life spent reflecting on what it means to be different and who you are because of it. Matthew Wayne Selznick has managed to capture the essence of what it means to live an outsiders life just at the point where all of the things that made you different suddenly thrust you into the spotlight for better and for worse.

For “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era”, Selznick has chosen to independently publish his work in several formats simultaneously and forgo the more traditional author/agent/publisher model. Along with the traditional print form of the novel, “Brave Men Run” was also released as an e-book, an audiobook and as a podcast novel read by the author himself. While the book, audiobook and e-book are for sale at Lulu.com and Payloadz.com respectively, the podcast novel version is available absolutely free of charge through Podiobooks.com…and if you like what you hear, you can always leave a donation for Matt at Podiobooks.com.

Similar to other authors who have chosen a podcast novel as a method to make their work available to a wider audience, Matthew Wayne Selznick has much more on his plate in the realm of podcasting. He’s also the host of Writers Talking, a live podcast where along with other authors, he discusses topics relating to the craft of writing. Even though Selznick is himself an author, he often times will ask the simple question which other interviewers tend to overlook. Through these questions he manages to get useful and oftentimes insightful answers as to the how’s and why’s of writing instead of just what happens after the author has written.

The Writers Talking podcast is hosted at Talkshoe.com, which allows not only the host and authors to take part in the discussion, but also any number of fans and listeners that sign in. After an in-depth interview segment, Selznick opens up the chat room and phone lines to anyone listening in with a question or comment. Talkshoe.com, in addition to hosting the podcast session, also compensates Writers Talking for each live listener and subscriber to the podcast. Matthew has chosen to donate 50% of any proceeds from his Writers Talking podcast, including donations, to 826 National, a group of nonprofit organizations that, in essence, help school age children learn the craft of writing.

In addition to Writers Talking, Matthew Wayne Selznick created and contributed to the first season of Five Minute Memoir. In a concept similar to that of NPR’s StoryCorps without the two party interview, contributors to Five Minute Memoir give listeners a look into the defining moments of their lives by retelling the stories that helped shape them into who they are today. From individual tales of people finding themselves employed as the low man on the totem pole in the vast Regan-era military machine to the very simple lesson of telling someone you love them while you still have the chance, Five Minute Memoir is some of the most compelling, moving and ultimately honest work ever shared with an audience.

If that weren’t enough, there’s also Scribtotum, Selznick’s personal blog, Sonitotum, Scribtotum’s companion podcast, and the DIY Endeavors podcast which features mostly musical tracks from independent artists who are trying to do music and the business of music their own way. On top of all of that, or perhaps because of it, Matthew Wayne Selznick endures a daily commute in excess of eighty miles each way to the offices of Mahalo.com, “the world's first human-powered search engine” where their “goal is to hand-write the top 20,000 search terms” on the internet. So not only does he do it all himself, he works for a company that does too.

Matthew Wayne Selznick is very much about doing it yourself and “DIY” plays a large part in all of his creative outings. At the top of his homepage, just under the welcome message, there’s a section called “Living The DIY Ethic” and if you look off on the sidebar, you can follow a link to what might just be the most telling thing about Matthew Wayne Selznick, his beliefs. As they’re listed, they are:


Each is followed by a short explanation to put them in context, but the titles are pretty much self-explanatory. So what does it all mean? Judging solely from his work, his words and his actions relating to both, Matthew Wayne Selznick is something of a visionary who doesn’t believe that just because something is the way it is, it has to stay that way. He has taken it upon himself to be one of the first to blaze a trail through the way things have been done to the way things could be done…and for that, we’re all better off.


FYI - If you find yourself interested in Matthew Wayne Selznick, this is really an opportune time to find out more about him. He has recently announced that for the remainder of 2007, he is taking a hiatus from podcasting in order to publish his follow-up to “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era,” entitled “Pilgrimage - The Dawn of the Sovereign Era.” This will be another multi-format release, but this time with a twist since the podcast novel version of “Pilgrimage” will be a full cast audio drama, a first for Selznick. His hiatus gives you a few solid months to listen to “Brave Men Run – A Novel of the Sovereign Era” and all of the archived episodes of Writers Talking, Five Minute Memoir, Sonitotum and DIY Endeavors. So take your time, listen to a great book, some great interviews and some amazing stories…and by the time you’re done, Matthew Wayne Selznick will be back with “Pilgrimage” and more of his great work

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Voices of New Media: J.C. Hutchins - Author of 7th Son




The President of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four-year-old boy…
J.C. Hutchins

…And so begins 7th Son, one of the most entertaining, action packed and well written series you’ll never find in a book store…at least not yet. 7th Son is the brainchild of author J.C. Hutchins. The reason you won’t find it in a book store is because the author has decided to release the trilogy as a series of episodic podcasts available through his website, www.jchutchins.net, and through Podiobooks.com. Originally conceived and written as a single story, the author has split the tale into three pieces: Decent, Deceit and Destruction. Each of those pieces is split into several episodes containing a chapter or two of the story as a whole, and what a story it is.

Seven seeming strangers are abducted and forced work together in a beyond top-secret government installation to try and save the world from the evil plans set in motion by the shadowy John Alpha. As the seven begin to work together, they start to realize they may be closer to him than they think, but also that time is running out for them, and the rest of the civilized world. They have to find John Alpha and stop him. The story takes you, as the listener, all over the globe in the search for John Alpha and introduces you to seven of the most similar yet amazingly unique characters an audio drama has ever seen. 7th Son is full of nonstop action and plot twists from its opening minutes and never lets up through its last episodes. In this work of epic scale, Hutchins manages to bring together the best aspects of the thriller genre and mix it together with a political conspiracy liberally seasoned with mad scientist pulp. If it were in print, it would be a book you simply couldn’t put down.

You may be thinking that since this is a podcast and not a big-budget audio production, how good could it be? Well, as I’ve said before, I love audiobooks and I devour them. I’ve probably listened to hundreds of titles so far and 7th Son ranks as one of the best I’ve heard. J.C. Hutchins, in addition to writing the work, is the voice talent for the 7th Son podcast. As the reader, he seems to effortlessly manage the difficult task of giving all his characters their own unique voice and not just reading the words he wrote from the page. The podcast is excellently produced by Shawn Bishop of The Dividing Line Broadcast Network, has musical chapter cues and even features its own theme music written by Celldweller. So that chalks up to being entertaining, well written, well read and sounding great. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The podcast and Podiobook versions of J.C. Hutchins novels have thousands of subscribed listeners, figuratively tuning in to each new episode release. Thanks to its own popularity and the seemingly ceaseless promotion by its creator, 7th Son has been featured both in print and on the web at venues such as Boing Boing, Mac User and the New Times. While that may be impressive, J.C. Hutchins has not only been covered by several New Media outlets, but also by such Old Media mainstays as The New York Times. In addition to that, the peers of the 7th Son podcast have given it their own brand of recognition and praise, as it has twice been nominated for a Parsec Award and twice won at the Podcast Peer Awards.

As if all of that weren’t enough, J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son has taken on a bit of a life of its own at the author’s website. The podcast novel has spawned both the Ministry of Propaganda and the Beta Clone Army of fans. The Ministry of Propaganda is the equivalent of a Street Team for the novels. In a fun twist on the traditional Street Team, members are issued promotional challenges by Natasha, the voice of the Ministry of Propaganda. By completing these challenges, they then have the opportunity to win actual 7th Son swag and some have even won the opportunity to appear on the 7th Son podcast and relate “The Story So Far…” In doing so, they find themselves in rather distinguished company as this feature of the podcast has been read by actors and authors with names like Nathan Fillion, Richard Hatch, Ron Glass, Alan Dean Foster, Nick Sagan and Kevin J. Anderson just to name a few. The Beta Clone Army is made up of fans who have thrown their support behind J.C. Hutchins by pointing their browsers over to Geeklabel.com and purchasing a 7th Son themed shirt…especially the particularly fashionable Beta Clone # shirt where fans are issued their own unique Beta Clone ID number. The new Beta Clones can then submit a picture of themselves wearing the shirt and have the image posted on the Beta Clone Army webpage, and often times named in the podcast itself.

So that’s 7th Son, a brilliant little idea that has found a devoted audience through unconventional means. J.C. Hutchins has the amazing gifts of being able to write a great story and find it a market in any way, and in as may ways as possible. If you’re a fan of a great story, I can’t recommend the 7th Son trilogy enough. The same goes for if you’re looking for a great podcast or just something to take up space on your iPod and kill a half and hour here and there. The series is worth a listen and J.C. Hutchins is worth keeping an eye on because it won’t be long before you’re picking up his next novel in the bookstore of your choice.



PS – If you were wondering how I knew so much about the Beta Clone Army…I’m Beta Clone #185.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Voices of New Media: Author & Podcaster Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is a force of nature. How else could you characterize a woman who manages to write, host and produce several simultaneous podcasts, write freelance pieces for all manner of publications, write original short stories, write novels of original fiction, hold down a full time job and find the time to be a wife and mother? That list alone is enough to make me tired, much less do it...but Mur Lafferty does all of it, and does it well.

I first found Mur through www.podiobooks.com where I stumbled upon her podcast novel Lessons from a Geek Fu Master. Forty essays later, I felt compelled to look up more information about the person who had just implied that the Food Network’s own Alton Brown was bent on world domination, clued me into to what a “Geekgasm” was and let me listen in on what can best described as the hardest decision a gamer ever had to make…City of Heroes or World of Warcraft. So after a Google search, I managed to find Geek Fu Action Grip, one in what I would soon learn was a veritable plethora of Mur Lafferty related sites on the web. Geek Fu could best be described as Mur’s personal podcast and blog, although in her most recent episodes of what has come to be called the Geek Fu Morning Show, she has been sharing the podcasting duties with one of her best friends and LuLu.TV co-worker Jason Adams. LuLu.TV would be her afore mentioned full time job, where she and Adams also co-host a videocast by the name of This Day In Alternate History. Geek Fu Action Grip was also where the experiment that would become Heaven was initially podcast.

Heaven is another of Mur Lafferty’s several podcasts. It started out as an experimental idea to see if a story she had about the afterlife could be done as a serialized podcast. That idea lasted twelve episodes, turned into a twelve episode second season called Hell, a twelve episode third season called Earth…and there are plans for two additional seasons of which season four is currently being written. Heaven, the series, follows two Earthly friends, Kate and Daniel, in their travels through and adventures in the afterlife. As the series continues, the characters of Kate and Daniel become more and more real through excellent writing and as a listener you are able to easily slip into their universe thanks to the wonderful audio production on Mur’s part. Similar to my experience with Lessons from a Geek Fu Master, I went looking for more by this talented writer and, again, wasn’t disappointed.

Mur Lafferty’s other podcast and blog, yes there’s another one, can be found at www.ishouldbewriting.com and is appropriately enough entitled, I Should Be Writing. It is, according to Mur at the beginning of every podcast, a “Podcast for want to be fiction writers by a want to be fiction writer.” While she is clearly a fiction writer, given the success of the Heaven series, Mur bases her “want to be” status on a professional standard of sales and revenue per word. This podcast has been running since 2005 and has booked over seventy episodes, including special edition daily shows and interviews. With I Should Be Writing, the listener is invited on an all access trip through the issues a writer faces as she tries to write, secure an agent and publish her first novel. Split into three sections, I Should Be Writing first gives us Mur’s personal progress on writing and the other issues she has as a result. The second section of the podcast deals with a topic related to writing, both in general and as a career choice. Topics from villains to query letters are regularly discussed in an easy to understand and un-intimidating way that allows the information offered up to be accessible to the widest possible audience. The third section is set aside for listener questions and comments received via voicemail and email.

With regard to her listeners, Mur Lafferty has taken accessibility to a place to where few people in the public eye dare to go. Anyone familiar with writer, director and actor Kevin Smith knows that his web-presence is nothing short of astounding given his visibility. However, it may very well be dwarfed by Lafferty’s presence on the web. After every podcast of I Should Be Writing, Geek Fu and the Heaven series, not to mention posted everywhere on all of her websites, Mur’s email address, voicemail number and website addresses are freely made available and listeners are encouraged to leave feedback, which they do and which is often addressed on I Should Be Writing itself or via an email from Mur. As a recent, and semi-frequent, submitter of these emails, I can personally vouch for this gifted and patient author’s willingness to help those in need.

While Geek Fu Action Grip, Heaven, Hell, Earth and I Should Be Writing immediately seem as if they would be more than enough to fill anyone’s plate, Mur Lafferty has also found the time for a few other projects. One was to publish a book by the name of Tricks of the Podcasting Masters with Rob Walch that is readily available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. Highlighting “tricks” and methods revealed through several interviews, both Lafferty and Walch convey podcasting professional’s advice to those interested in podcasting. Then there are the submission to no less than nine different publications including Knights of the Dinner Table, PC Gamer and SciFi Magazine. Oh, and even before all that there are the numerous contributions to several roll-playing game titles by Zeitgeist, Hogshead and White Wolf Publishing.

How one person can do so much and stay sane, much less coherent enough to continuously push out new and engaging material is well beyond my ability to comprehend, but Mur Lafferty does…and having listened extensively to all of the podcasts mentioned here, she does so amazingly. From her engrossing fiction in Heaven to her warm and honest advice in I Should Be Writing, Mur Lafferty proves herself as one of the brightest voices in new media today. My sincerest hope is that old media, ala the current print and entertainment powerhouses, can move beyond their current paradigms and recognize a voice that represents the future instead of just being afraid of it. If anyone deserves the recognition, it’s Mur Lafferty.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Podcasting 101 - Why aren't you listening?


OK kids, as you may or may not know Onthepod.net was originally conceived as a place for music reviews…heck it even says so right underneath the title. If you’ve been visiting for a while, you know that I've occasionally ventured away from my iPod to the Movies or even those barbaric book things. However, as I’m sure you'll be surprised to learn, because Onthepod.net is rather small, record labels don’t send me free music to review. The good news is that I’m a junkie when it comes to anything I consider to be good music but the bad news is that I’ve only got so much disposable income to play with. I will admit to trying to find a more cost effective manner in which to procure new music, but as my willingness to fund the Russian mob’s music download sites has waned and the though of paying the RIAA $222,000 for the privilege of reviewing their artists now seems like less of a perk than it once did, I find myself with less and less new music to listen to and, in turn, review. Not to mention there just hasn’t been a whole lot of new music released lately that I even like.

So with that little diatribe out of the way, I can continue on to the point. As my previous non-Twittered post states, the well ran dry and I was left with not a lot to listen to. As such, I found myself revisiting one of my own older posts that ran along the lines of Podcasting. What is podcasting you ask? Well podcasting is more of an idea than a physical thing. The idea being that if you’ve got something to say, a microphone, a computer and an internet connection you can reach as many people with your words as will listen. It puts the power in the hands of an individual with an idea and takes it away from the major broadcasters who believe that said idea doesn’t fit into their format. Technically, I guess that a podcast is a thing too, in that at the end of the day you have an audio file that you can post and others can download and listen to at their leisure. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a convert…and I’m not the only one.

As a self-admitted liberal geek, I listen to a lot of National Public Radio. As it turns out, NPR has fully embraced the idea of podcasting their broadcast shows in order to have them reach a wider audience. Want an example? Well, you’re going to get one anyway so you might as well just go with it. Lets say you, like myself, like to listen to NPR on Saturdays. You start your mornings with Car Talk and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and listen all the way through A Prairie Home Companion on Saturday night. Up North, you used to listen to Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know but your new local Charlotte NPR affiliate doesn’t carry it. What do you do? You can now hop online or into iTunes and subscribe to the Whad’Ya Know podcast which will let you download an hour of the show, usually a day after it airs every weekend. Want to know the best part, other than you can now listen to it whenever and wherever you want? It’s FREE, 100% abso-stinking-lutely free! Keep in mind that this example is for a more mainstream show that’s already “out there” in the public consciousness, not to mention that all the other NPR shows I mentioned are also available as free podcasts. So you say NPR is to mainstream, too right or too left leaning for your particular political persuasion? That’s fine, because there’s so much more that’s available if you just look. Political, entertainment, social commentary, educational; it’s all out there just waiting for you to find it.

As I must have mentioned about a million times here at On the pod.net, I love audiobooks. In the past, I’ve always pimped Audible.com as a great source for them…and it is, but it’s a subscription service that you have to pay for. I recently found a link through a post on either Gizmodo or Lifehacker (or both actually) that led me to www.podiobooks.com. Podiobooks.com offers novel length works, and short stories for that matter, by lesser-known or unknown authors in a serialized podcast format. If you find a story you like, you can subscribe to it in iTunes or your own favorite feedcatcher. If the story is new, you’ll get a new podcast episode ever time one is release. If the story you pick has been completed, you can choose to download the entire thing at once or episode by episode. You, again, also have the opportunity to listen at your leisure and it’s completely free.

I just want to go on record as saying, I Love This Site!

Podiobooks.com does ask, and quite fairly so I might add, that if you like what you’re hearing you consider making a small monetary donation, though I’m sure a large donation wouldn’t be thrown out of bed. Podiobooks does get something for the trouble of hosting the book on their website, but the author gets the majority of any donation you may make. It’s really a win, win situation in that you don’t have to drop $50.00 on an audio book you may or may not like, and if you do like it you can shoot the author a little something, at the very least an email, to let them know you liked what you heard.

I've managed to gleefully work my way through several of the available titles in recent weeks and can report that just as in music, there are some outstanding undiscovered writers in the literary world. Two names that just scream out to be mentioned are Mur Lafferty and J.C. Hutchins, both of whom have several titles available on www.podiobooks.com. Mur Lafferty has written a continuing series by the name of Heaven. There are three seasons of Heaven out now (Heaven, Hell & Earth) with a fourth on the way. J.C. Hutchins has penned a trilogy entitled 7th Son and is currently in the process of wrapping up his podcast of the final volume, Destruction. His previous two books being Descent and Deceit. I was so impressed with their work that I’m planning a few special pieces in the near future to talk about them specifically, so keep checking back.

So if you’ve been wondering what’s new On the pod, after a bit of searching, it ends up being podcasts and Podiobooks by some really talented writers. I urge you to check out www.podiobooks.com, www.murlafferty.com and www.jchutchins.net just to get a taste of what’s available to you out there. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.


Friday, September 28, 2007

On the pod's LIVE Twitter from Van Halen's 2007 World Tour Opening Night in Charlotte, NC


What follows is a slightly cleaned up version of my live Twitter play by play from the opening night of Van Halen’s 1997 World Tour in Charlotte, NC. Hope you enjoy it:



Getting excited for VH tonight, but secretly hoping for a train wreck so I finally have a good story to tell

At the arena

At the Merch. booth w/ $10 bumper stickers

At the seats and couldn't be higher up in the arena. Marley is on now

There are two rather large VH blimps circling the inside of the arena

Soon

The blimps have left

Lights off here they come

You Really Got Me

Sounds good

I'm The One

Wolfs good but I miss Mike

Gratuitous pause for love

Now
Runnin’ With The Devil

Crowd singing Runnin’ With The Devil louder than VH. Crazy. Next up, Dave talking…I can't remember the name but the lyric is “bringing whiskey to the party tonight...” (It was Romeo Delight )

Ed's playing a Peavey not Fender

Dave on harmonica (and or bull horn)
Somebody Get Me A Doctor

Beautiful Girls

Dave's strutting but they're basically just standing there

Dance The Night Away

Dave’s humping a top hat

…And there’s pot

Ed and Wolf kiss.
Atomic Punk

Wolfs walking the crowd loop

Everybody Wants Some

Ed and Dave in a motorcycle noise contest (Mouth vs. Guitar)

So This Is Love

My phone died, borrowing the wife’s

Mean Streets

Next song...
Oh, Pretty Woman

Alex’s drum solo

Pretty good drum solo actually (it was the best one I’ve heard him play to be honest)


Next song...Unchained

I'll Wait...the “mentalotomy” song…sorry inside joke

Dave’s on the loop

Ed’s got a Black and White (VH Striped) Fender with 2007 where 5150 would be

…And The Cradle Will Rock

Ed’s got a new Black and White with some Red (VH Striped) Fender

Smoke On The Water guitar out into
Hot For Teacher

I just watched my wife head bang...who is this woman???!!!

Ed’s back to a Peavey

Dave walks the crowd loop again

Little Dreamer

Little Guitars

Ed has “Frankenstein” (most likely a Fender relic copy)

Jamie’s Cryin’

Dave still likes to shake his ass

Dave talks

Dave talks some more

Dave is pickin around on an acoustic talking about an ice cream truck...any ideas?

Yup...

Ice Cream Man

Panama

EVH guitar solo

(Women In Love intro variant) 316 variant

Noodling

There are 8 double headed 5150 III stacks on stage...4 right & 4 left...Eruption variant

Guitar feedback

He went down for a minute…thought he might have broke that hip, but he’s ok :)

Cathedral variant

Eruption tapping variant

The hip thing was a joke by the way

Done and into Ain't Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

Dave does sound good, even this far into the show

Looks like the last song

Ed, Wolf, Dave and Alex bow

1984 & a big ass disco ball

Dave and a big red flag...dunno about that...into Jump

Dave and Eddie hi-five to a keyboard song...ironic don’t ya think?

Dave does swordplay with a mic stand

Dave rides the big inflatable mic into the sunset...confetti and exit stage left

That's all folks

Van Halen’s opening night in Charlotte, NC is now history :)

It’s hot, very hot… and we are never getting out of here by the way



The following was posted after the show:


Sat on a bench with the wife after the show, as we weren't getting out of the garage anytime soon, and dissected the show.


For what it was, she felt it was really good where as I feel it was pretty good. I don't think it could ever have lived up to they hype.


Still, for an opening night and given the circumstances...it was a great show. For the triumphant return of the MIGHTY MIGHTY VAN HALEN…it was a pretty good show.


However, if they make it further on down the tour schedule...it should be awesome, without a doubt. They were still kind of feeling it out tonight.




So…that’s it folks, my live Twitter posted directly from inside the Charlotte Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, NC on 09/27/07…The opening night of Van Halen’s 2007 World Tour.

Friday, August 03, 2007

...We were on a break!!!

Hi all,

OTP is taking a little break, as if you hadn’t noticed. I’m sure we’ll be back when something comes out that we just have to tell you about, which could be sooner rather than later, but for now…the wells run dry and we’re waiting for the rainy season.

Thanks so much,

Joe from On the pod.net

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mieka Pauley: Live at The Evening Muse 06/15/07


Mieka Pauley live is an experience, and her recent stop at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC was no exception. From coffee houses to theaters and all the bars in between, Mieka Pauley fills all those spaces, floor to ceiling, with her very own and deeply personal “melodies, harmonies, poetry and rhyme” and even after a day that had her driving all the way from New York City, it was definitely a show worth catching. If you somehow managed to miss it, here are a few of my impressions from the evening to get you excited for her return visit to Charlotte and the Muse on August 25th.

One of the first things that I noticed as Mieka Pauley began her set was just how powerful a performer she truly is. This is no mousy folk singer hiding behind an acoustic guitar. Her voice rings out of her body like a church bell on a quiet morning; both startling and musical. Once you recover from the impact of her voice, you start to notice her words. The lyrical content of Mieka Pauley’s original songs show someone who is in love with language and all its possibilities. She strings together words into lyrics and lyrics into songs that are deep, touching, personal and sometimes even funny…all at the same time. What you’re left with is the impression of an original voice that stands apart from all of the other noise.

In what was probably the best surprise of the evening, Mieka Pauley’s set was liberally peppered with new material from her upcoming release, tentatively due in August…oddly enough the very same month she will be returning to the Muse. Having devoured all of her previous releases and live shows available for download at the Live Music Archive, I can say with absolute certainty that her new material is as good as anything she has written previously . Having heard new songs like All the Same Mistakes, Chicago and The Golden Room, I can honestly say that Mieka Pauley’s new album is one of my most anticipated albums of 2007.

As I mentioned before, Mieka Pauley will be back in Charlotte and once again playing at The Evening Muse on August 25th. It will be a Saturday night and along with Mieka, other artists will take The Evening Muse stage as part of a benefit show for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. So, not only do you get the chance to help out a worthy cause simply by letting yourself be entertained, you have another great opportunity to catch Mieka Pauley do what she does best; sing and play and be the performer she was born to be.


*** Special thanks to Lydia Lewallen for use of her photos ***


Friday, June 08, 2007

John 5 - The Devil Knows My Name


John 5 - The Devil Knows My Name

Two things are evident to anyone who’s ever listened to an album by John 5. The first is that he is just a monster of a guitarist, with the chops and technique to stand with any notable guitarist in recent memory. The second is that he has issues…serious issues. On The Devil Knows My Name, John 5 seems to shift gears between the sonically disturbed and divine without so much as a second thought…it just happens. It’s almost as if he has split personalities, one angel and one devil, both of whom happen to be virtuosic guitarists.

Most of The Devil Knows My Name is simply devastating in terms of an electric guitar instrumental album. Nearly all of John 5’s original compositions are dark, technical and all the more interesting given that he generally plays a telecaster. On 27 Needles, he outwardly flirts with “chicken-pickin,” as he has done on his pervious releases, but then apparently slips it a ruffie, drags it behind the barn and proceeds to have his way with it. I can almost guarantee Fender may have rethought introducing the model if they knew the abuse that would be hurled at it on The Devil Knows My Name.

But…and there’s always a but, early on The Devil Knows My Name offers up what may be the most uncharacteristic and, essentially, sweet piece of music John 5 has ever released. Bella Kiss is a clean electric guitar piece, played on a “B-Bender” if I’m not mistaken, that sounds so simple that it effectively masks its technicality. This is a piece that’s so easy to fall in love with that it almost makes you forget the serial killer nature of the rest of the album…actually, it makes a lot of sense in a John Wayne Gacy kind of way.

Another exception to the welcome and expected aural assault that is The Devil Knows My Name is the Eric Johnson reminiscent track Young Thing near the close of the album. With the clean echoes of country and rockabilly, it is more apparent than ever that should he want, John 5 could play anywhere and in any genre he chose to.

My only problem with the album as a whole is John 5’s cover of Welcome to the Jungle originally by Guns ‘N’ Roses. It’s nothing against this particular instrumental version of a vocal song, technically it’s perfect, it’s all there…I just don’t the idea in general. To me it sounds like something that was either recorded for someone else or as a piece that used to get played at sound check and someone said, “Hey that’s pretty cool, you should record it.” It is cool, and as a novelty, it’s interesting as far as it goes, but when placed up against the more memorable original work on The Devil Knows My Name, it seems to fall a little short. Still, I wouldn’t let that stop me from recommending the album to anyone who would listen.

In the end, it really comes down to this…with each of his releases, John 5 has never come close to disappointing guitar fans and The Devil Knows My Name is no different. While primarily showcasing his blistering prowess as a rock guitarist, and doing it well…amazingly well actually, John 5 and The Devil Knows My Name also continue to show what a versatile composer and musician he really is.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

Here’s a rarity, as it’s about words as opposed to sound, but I just finished reading what may be the most laugh out loud, funny book I’ve ever managed to devour, and when I say laugh out loud, I actually mean it…I was in public, so there are witnesses.

A few days ago, I was in your local neighborhood literary superstore and happened to stumble across, I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle, a one time writer for The Simpsons, sitting on this amazingly overcrowded table. It had a snazzy orange and white cover with a rather amusing illustration, a weird yet eye catching title and the jacket write up made the book sound like a mix between every John Hughes movie ever made (prior to his preteen phase) and a train wreck you just couldn’t look away from. Needless to say, having watched a certain movie by Mr. Hughes so many times I could recite the dialogue on command, I was sold. So I bought I Love You, Beth Cooper and, for one of the few times ever, a purchase ended up being everything it was billed to be…and more.

From start to finish the book was hysterical, sometimes relentlessly so. It follows uber-geek, Denis Cooverman (”The Coove” to his best, and possibly gay, friend and “Penis” to absolutely everyone else) through his highly unanticipated high school valedictorian speech and all of the repercussions that come with it when he decides to cast off regret and tells everyone who’s listening, “I Love You, Beth Cooper!”

While embarrassingly funny (I don’t recommend reading it in a packed coffee shop if you really don’t like to draw attention to yourself) I Love You, Beth Cooper is not just a lunatic joy ride without any grasp of reality. Denis Cooverman is identifiable, relatable and genuine…unless you’re the knuckle-dragger whose girl he just tried to woo, in which case, I’m actually surprised you can read at all. Along with all the hysterics and insanity of what is, admittedly, an entirely over the top graduation night and next morning, there’s also poignancy, friendship and, well…hot cheerleader types who really wouldn’t have given you the time of day in high school anyway…uh, but I digress.

I Love You, Beth Cooper is a truly funny and brilliant read. It’s quick, witty and never dry. Larry Doyle has crafted a great story that shows its not always about being who you’re expected to be, but who you can be that makes all the difference. Sure, you may say to yourself that there are already classics in this genre and I’d have to say you’re right. Most of them are on film and have names like Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful and Say Anything. But, there’s always room for another name on that list and I Love You, Beth Cooper fits right in.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Frames – The Cost


The Frames – The Cost

The Cost, which happens to be the new album by the Irish band The Frames is absolutely my new favorite album of 2007 so far. That should be enough for you to run right out to iTunes and download a copy, but if my word isn’t quite enough, I can give you one more simple reason…The Cost is so worth buying just to hear its nearly perfect second song, Falling Slowly.

Falling Slowly is rich and delicate, subtle and yet all encompassing. It has a chorus that pulls you in melodically and then you actually hear the words and are all the more captured. It begins simply enough, with just a voice and guitar, but then builds into a piece of music that swirls around the space between your ears until you think you might burst. Lyrically and musically, Falling Slowly gives you the idea of hope and yet holds onto an undercurrent that makes you wonder if things ever do really work out. I really can’t say enough about this song, as if that’s not obvious, but I guess I’m just under its spell in the best possible way...and do you want to know the best part? There are nine other songs on the rest of the album.

As an album, The Cost delivers ten songs of mellow intensity with flawless execution and terrific musicianship. Guitarist and lead vocalist, Glen Hansard is spot on with his delivery, breathing life into The Cost while the other current band members, Joe Doyle on bass, Colm MacConIomaire on violin and keyboards and Rob Bochnik on lead guitar shape the sound of the album into it’s cohesive and complex whole.

One of the many notable things about The Cost is the inclusion of the violin into the mix of sound that is The Frames. As restrained as it is, it not only gives this band another color to paint with aurally but also the ability to not be pigeonholed into the format that rock traditionally is. It gives another dimension to what is already a multi-dimensional band and helps afford them the luxury of being something unto themselves and not just another in a long line of more of the same.

I guess that could be the reason it’s taken me so long to hear about The Frames. Since 1995 they’ve released eight albums, including The Cost and if it weren’t for World CafĂ© on NPR this past Saturday night, I’d still be missing out…and that would definitely be my loss.

I wonder if that could be a reflection on the music industry and what passes for talent these days? I guess anythings possible, but that’s another story all together. Go buy this album and introduce yourself to The Frames.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Art Turner – Sonora


Art Turner – Sonora


So I’m a fan of the Wailin’ Jennys incase you hadn’t noticed. If you go to their website or their MySpace page, you’ll see all of these wonderful photos of them…and if you look, you’ll see they were taken by Art Turner. If you go to the Jennys’ Link page you’ll see the following, “Art Turner: Art is a great friend of ours, a fabulous finger-style guitarist and he is also responsible for our new promo shots.” I read this and thought to myself that, “Hey, I’m a guitar player and a photographer too.” Needless to say, I clicked the link and I’m glad I did.

Aside from the great pictures, as if that weren’t enough, Art Turner is just an outstanding guitar player. While I may be a “Jack-Of-All-Trades and master of none,” Mr. Turner appears to be a master of both. I listened to some of the song samples on his Albums page and was just blown away. Not only is Art Turner amazingly technically proficient, he also has a gifted ear for melody and the ability to craft a full and expressive piece of music using only a single acoustic guitar.

That’s not to say that the tracks on Sonora are only solo acoustic guitar. Guest musicians also add the flavors of other string instruments to the tracks, but if you were to take all of them away, Sonora could still stand as a perfectly beautiful album.

Sonically, Sonora is beautifully simple with nothing getting in the way of the performances, and those performances are wonderfully crafted and simple in an amazingly complicated kind of way.

If you’re a guitar player or just love the guitar, I wouldn’t miss the chance to hear Art Turner play.

Meet Peter Ostroushko

Coming Down from Red Lodge

Postcards


Meet Peter Ostroushko

Way back on December 23, 2005 as I introduced myself to you in what was to be my first Onthepod.net post, I mentioned that I was listening to Peter Ostroushko and that I would tell you about it later. It’s taken me a while, but I didn’t forget the promise. Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet a master of the Fiddle and Mandolin, Peter Ostroushko…

As a regular listener to Garrison Keillor’s radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, I’ve heard a lot of artists that, in the course of my normal listening habits, I wouldn’t have otherwise. Peter Ostroushko is one of those artists. As a frequent guest of PHC, most of the really cool Mandolin and Fiddle pieces that you may have heard on the show are probably pieces written or played by Peter Ostroushko.

On a Saturday night back in 2002, one of the most beautiful pieces of music I had ever heard came drifting through the speakers of my car. I can still remember the feeling that I had that night. I was so moved when I heard it and that feeling has never left me. I never really knew who had written it at the time, but a few years later, during a listener request show Teelin Bay Waltz by Peter Ostroushko was re-aired. Ever since then, I’ve been a fan.

I don’t mind saying that every time I hear Teelin Bay Waltz, especially as the piece moves into and through its bridge section, my heart just breaks. Aurally, I suppose it’s the interplay between the Fiddle and the Slide Guitar. Musically, I would guess its how everything seems to hit its crescendo, how it peaks then very gracefully begins to slide towards it conclusion. Personally it all just comes together with such emotional force that it moves me in a way that very few pieces of music do.

Teelin Bay Waltz was recorded for Peter’s Coming Down from Red Lodge album, released in 2003 on the Red House label. Since finding that out, I purchased both that album and Peter’s most recent musical offering, 2006’s Postcards. Both are full of wonderful displays of just how much can be accomplished with the Fiddle and Mandolin when in the hands of a master composer and player.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to hear Peter Ostroushko play before, I managed to find a link from the PHC website to the original performance of Teelin Bay Waltz that originally aired on the show way back on March 2, 2002.

http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/20020302/

If you like what your hear…and really how could you not, I highly recommend either Coming Down from Red Lodge or Postcards as a great introduction to Peter Ostroushko and his immense musical talents. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Coming Down from Red Lodge

Postcards

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Calling


Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Calling

I fell in love with Mary Chapin Carpenter on her album Stones In The Road. Something about that album and all of it’s songs just connected with me on some level that most music doesn’t often do. Thirteen years and three albums later, Mary Chapin Carpenter has returned with her latest effort, The Calling, and I think that I’m falling in love with her all over again.

On her ninth album, Mary Chapin Carpenter seems to have found that place where her writing, her playing and her singing all come together to build a collection of songs that are bigger than themselves to create an album that is as much full of songs as it is full of feeling and emotion. From gentle ballads to rolling country flavored rockers, The Calling manages to score with every track.

The overall sound of the album is crystal clear with each instrument and vocal performance existing in it’s own space and yet playing perfectly off each other giving the album both texture and space at the same time.

The instrumental performances on The Calling are all top notch, as anyone familiar with Carpenter’s previous albums would expect. Along with a host of other players, Mary Chapin Carpenter again turns to her long time collaborator John Jennings on all manner of stringed instruments as well as one of my favorite pianists, Matt Rollings and his remarkable talents with all things keyed.

For her fans and for anyone who’s not really familiar with her previous work, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s The Calling is a great way to get to know her…or get to know her again.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Jonatha Brooke - Careful What You Wish For


Jonatha Brooke – Careful What You Wish For

Jonatha Brooke’s seventh release, Careful What You Wish For finds her in a much different place than her earlier recordings. Empowered and supported by her live band, featuring Darren Embry on Bass, Rich Mercurio on Drums and Geoffrey Moore on Guitar, the album is a much more electric offering, both in sound and spirit than any of her previous efforts.

All of the tracks on Careful What You Wish For are strong and full of a frenetic energy that was glimpsed on her recent live album, Live In New York. There are also the quiet moments that Jonatha Brooke does so well, one of which is the beautiful, Je N’peaux Pas Te Plaire. Despite, or perhaps because of, its French vocal, the track is sophisticated and elegant and yet very laid back.

Careful What You Wish For also continues the instrumental eclecticism of her prior albums that is almost a Jonatha Brooke trademark. Along with being eclectic, all of the musical performances are as warm and intimate as they are powerful and driven. Lyrically and melodically, the album finds Jonatha agile as ever, continuing in the tradition set with her very first releases.

Careful What You Wish For again finds Brooke partnered with veteran producer and long time collaborator Bob Clearmountain to handle most of the technical studio requirements as well as some of the instrumental duties. Surprisingly, there are also a few new and seemingly odd faces on Careful What You Wish For, in the guise JC Chasez of N’Sync and Nick Lachey, both of whom share writing credits on the album.

Throughout her two albums with The Story and her previous solo releases, Jonatha Brooke has continued to grow as a writer, musician and most of all as an artist and Careful What You Wish For is no exception. This album is a welcome addition to Jonatha Brooke’s album catalogue…and mine.



PS – If you order Careful What You Wish For from www.jonathabrooke.com it comes signed by Jonatha herself.



Friday, March 30, 2007

New: On the pod

New: On the pod

Fear the State - Live @ CBGB: OMFUG

Great White – Live At The Marquee (Official Bootleg)

Jonatha Brooke – Careful What You Wish For

Kelly Keagy – I’m Alive

Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Calling

Norah Jones – Not Too Late

Pete Yorn – Musicforthemorningafter

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden – I Trust You To Kill Me

Shaw/Blades – Influence


News: On the pod

We’re Back!!! As you may have noticed, OTP has been on a bit of an extended hiatus lately. It wasn’t really intentional, but as it turns out it was necessary. I found myself in the hospital for a few days and then not doing much for about six weeks. Not to worry though…I’m back into the swing of things for the most part and ready to bring you up to speed on a few great albums I’ve found.


While I was goofing around, I managed to blow through a couple of books:

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx – Eric Nylund

If you dig the Halo video game series, then odds are you’ll dig this book. This is the first book inspired by the game where the usual hero of the series, Master Chief, is not featured. It follows the story arc of a new Spartan program lead by a long thought dead Spartan from the Master Chief’s own team.

Hannibal Rising – Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris managed to score both a new book and a new movie all at the same time with Hannibal Rising. I just read the book though and oddly enough, not as creepy as I thought it would be. However, it does give a look into the life of a young Hannibal Lecter and some reasons for the way he ended up. It was a quick read that I managed to get through it in a day.

Lady Friday (The Keys to the Kingdom) – Garth Nix

Yeah, OK, so I read kids books…well young adult books, but still. Garth Nix is a terrific writer of young adult fiction whose Lady Friday book marks the fifth of seven in his The Keys to the Kingdom series. In this installment we continue to follow the young Arthur Penhaligon, the rightful heir to the Will of the Architect, and his struggle to save his friends, his family and himself from the denizens of the upper house and Lady Friday. The series is really a fun read and with only two installments left…it’s time to get started, don’t you think?



I also picked up my Xbox 360…finally. Of course, as expected, the minute I bought it Microsoft announced the Xbox 360 Elite…Bastards. So, I returned it and will be waiting for the new Xbox 360 Elite. Prior to that, I managed to play:

Dead Rising

You’re a photojournalist stranded in a shopping mall infested with zombies for 72 hours. You have to take outstanding pictures of the horror all around you and…survive by any means necessary. The game play is cool, but this game is meant for a big screen as the on-screen text is very small and hard to read.


Crackdown

You’re a super cop in a city run amuck. It’s very similar in fashion to the Grand Theft Auto series but this time you’re the good guy. The game play is very easy to get used to and as you collect and use your abilities, your powers increase. My only real complaint with this game was that it was really short. Even though you have three different gangs you need to put out of business, I managed to finish this game in less than a week. It’s a big investment for such a short experience, although it is ready for Xbox Live and does come with an invitation to the Halo 3 online beta.

Gears of War

First off, this is a pretty bad-ass game. The story is a familiar one though, you’re a human(oid) and your planet is invaded by aliens. At the start of the game you’re a soldier who’s serving time and you’re broken out only to facedown an alien invasion and your past. The game play is fairly unique in that one of the things you have to do in order to survive the game is take cover…if you don’t, you die. The weapons are fun too, although a chainsaw on the end of a machine gun? Eeh, who’s to say?


Finally, in my down time I’ve been watching a few DVDs. Here’s what I thought:

24: Season 1

I may have been the only person left on the planet Earth who hadn’t watched Jack Bauer save the world. Having watched Season 1…I get it. Good stuff!

Bones: Season 1

Based on characters created by Kathy Reichs, Bones is the story of Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deschanel, and her dealings and relationship with FBI agent Seely Booth, played by David Boreanaz. They hate each other, they love each other, they solve cases with each other…but the scripts are well written as well as being supported by great actors. Bones is actually a fun and intelligent alternative to the less fun and intelligent CSI.


I did say finally about the DVDs didn’t I? Oh well, last week was the week of live shows for me. I managed to see:

Indigo Girls @ the Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theater in CT

I’ve seen the Indigo Girls a bunch of time before, but this was hands down the best time yet. They played as an acoustic duo for the evening and just brought the house down. It was great because along with playing the predictable hits and new stuff, they dipped into their seemingly endless song catalogue for some really obscure things I’d never had the pleasure of hearing them play live before.

Shaw-Blades @ BB King’s in NYC

These two guys can sing. This was my second acoustic show for the week and well worth the trip. In a lot of ways, it was a cover show as they played tunes both on and considered for their latest album, Influence. They also played favorites from Damn Yankees, Styx and Night Ranger. With great songs and stories, the show was a great way to spend an evening in Manhattan

Fear the State @ The Space in CT

These guys have to be the hardest working unsigned band around. I have never seen them have a bad show performance wise, much less a show where they didn’t absolutely give 110% on stage. They work it no matter who or how many people are in the crowd and it’s always fun.


Speaking of Fear the State, they’ve released a new EP called Live @ CBGB: OMFUG. It’s half live and half new studio tunes. Fear the State was actually one of the last bands to play the legendary and now defunct CBGBs in NYC. They recorded that show and the best tracks are included on this disc. In many ways, Live @ CBGB: OMFUG is really a historic recording in that it captures the last days of the famous and infamous club. Aside from the cool tunes, it’s worth picking up just for that and if you manage to catch them live, I think you can pick up a copy for free when you buy your long sought after Fear the State merch.


That’s it…I swear. I just want to say thanks for reading and for continually coming back even during the down time. If you come back next wee, you’ll get a look at Jonatha Brooke’s new disc and here are some of the other artists I have coming up: Art Turner, Guy Clark, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Peter Ostroushko.


Thanks again and as always…Keep Listening!

Joe