BlogInspirationMusic and Movies

I recently read the book “Contact” by Carl Sagan. You may remember the brilliant but oft criticized Zemeckis movie with Jodie Foster and McConaughey.

I’m not going to get into a breakdown of either work, but if you want to watch a movie (or read a book) that attempts to deal with and reconcile science, religion and faith and what it means to be human as well as 2001, or Close Encounters, for sure check out “Contact”.

Anyway, in the book, aliens make contact with Earth through a radio signal sent from Vega. It is discovered and decoded and how it is known to be generated by intelligent life, as opposed to random noise, is that they are transmitting prime numbers.

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Week #3 of thankfulness blogs

This week, the purity of sound

A few summers ago I was camping with my family and one entire day was rained out. I had an infant that wasn’t entirely happy, and I was just beginning the recovery process after ECT.

Anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks just after lunch and I went to my tent to lie down and get away. And there is where I discovered something that has been an effective part of treating my anxiety ever since, the sound of a hard rain on that nylon/ polyester blended surface.

BlogInspirationMusic and Movies

Week Two of the thankfulness blogs:

Last week was a pretty deep and serious thing, a way my daughter delights my heart. This week is something much simpler, but something that has been huge for me lately.

A couple months ago I traded a guy some guitar equipment I no longer used for some that he no longer used. I ended up with a new (to me) guitar amplifier. It happened to be an amp I had been wanting for a decade. And I couldn’t feel more pleasure playing through it.


I am starting a new series of essays on this blog. I’m going to be posting them on Saturday mornings, as this one was, hoping to inject some good vibes into your weekends. However, I might move them into my normal weekly slots. Stay tuned.

But here is the plan: I’m going to write one piece a week about things I am thankful for, or at least things that keep me positive. I don’t plan on doing the big obvious things, though. Anyone who knows me or has read enough of this blog understands that I am a lucky person, born into a situation that most people envy, and given enough talent and ability for it to be a real shame if I don’t do something with my life.


My whole life I have been a huge fan of both science and science fiction.

My favorite movies when I was a kid were things like Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Alien and Terminator. The novels I really gravitated towards as a kid were HG Wells and Jules Verne. I was a huge Dr. Dolittle fan as an even younger child which is an adventure series about a scientist, nothing like those god awful movies.

This is probably even more pronounced today. Almost all of what I read is science fiction, and most of the movies I make a point of watching are sci-fi as well. My favorite author is Arthur C Clarke, followed by PKD, followed by Vonnegut. The best movies from 2015? Ex Machina, The Martian, Star Wars VII. Best movie I saw in 2016? Arrival!

You’ll never convince me that Childhood’s End isn’t the greatest book ever written, unless of course you bring up Ender’s Game. What movie am I most excited about coming up? Beyond Star Wars, I would have to say Ready Player One, one of the best novels I have read in years, one I consumed in about four days.


A photography professor of mine always told me to respect the edge of the frame.

It wasn’t just to be mindful of where the physical limits of your image are, but to embrace the edge as a way to create dynamic movement within the image itself. Paragraphs work the same way in writing. Where one begins or ends a paragraph can create dynamic tension, can change the entire feel of the written word.


For years I’ve been trying to study the edges. I find that the most interesting work occurs there. How a resolution is made or forgotten. I’ve particularly focused my study on music. Edges are everywhere in music. How a transition is made, the conclusion of a solo piece, the end of the chorus, even down to a single lick played by a musician can have a fascinating resolve. Unfortunately, most artists never make the big finish and just let their music fade to black at the end, always disappointing.

Lately I’ve been looking at the edges of life. I have a 13 month old baby, and witnessing firsthand the initial strokes of presence and how clumsily graceful they can be. Babies are almost obsessed with finding the edges of their existence. They can’t wait to paint the corners, eager to leave the middle of the canvass for the masterwork that will become their life. But also having a child has forced me to look more deeply at the edges of my own life. I’ve been seeing the white space I’ve left unattended all these years, as well as the edges being left for the big moments or the end. My canvass is surprisingly void of vibrancy.

Most people would argue with that premise.

Most people don’t get to see my canvass.

BlogInspirationMusic and Movies

A big source of inspiration to me has been the early career of Kevin Smith. The influence on my life of works like Clerks and Mallrats cannot be overstated. But it isn’t the movies themselves, which I do find to be right in my alley of comedy, but rather the entire creative process. The gumption of maxing out several credit cards, shooting in limited takes to conserve film, using friends as actors, and hoping it got picked up at a festival for distribution, all simply because he had never seen a movie that spoke to him about his friends is incredible. I wish I had that type of gumption. Or maybe I do, but not the talent. Which is more important is an internal debate I’ve had for years. I’ve come to the conclusion that work ethic is much more important than talent.

My friends and I have had several movies speak to us. For me, it was most notably Superbad and the TV show Freaks and Geeks. These two projects summed up high school life in a way I had never seen before and really showed what it was like for me to pass through that time. And this was important to me because I loved high school. I was remotely popular without being an athlete, I had a rock band that played dozens of gigs, I had lots of girlfriends, and a teal car that was all the rage. But despite all that, I really peaked in college. Going to design school was the first time I really got to be artistic and creative in ways I never had before, and I was good at it. I got into an even better band, even though that was short lived. And I still maintained good quality women.

It was odd though because I was really into Kevin Smith works about college aged kids when I was in high school, and I really got into Superbad and Freaks and Geeks, about high school kids, when I was in college. Partially due to when they were available, but also they happened to speak to me at that time. I think nostalgia in the later case and an urge to be mature in the former.

I always had the myth about myself that I was mature and advanced for my age. It is something I still have to shake off from time to time. I’m not good at it, by the way. I have yet to figure out if it is something that comes with age or work or both. All I know, I have put very little work into it and a lot of age. Maybe one day humility and honesty will be a trick in my quiver, but to this point I’m still shooting blanks.

One of the things Kevin Smith inspired me to do is be creative at all costs. Try to make your own thing and make it well despite evidence to the contrary. That’s why I’m starting this blog. It doesn’t require a huge commitment of resources, but hopefully it is entertainment for you and cathartic for me.