Friday, May 28, 2010


I’m sorry but I gotta say it…I have a real problem with people who appear to use other, more connected individuals to get to a person of note for the simple reason of being able to state “Yeh…I hang with him”. It pisses me off to no end. Although not a new concept, social networking has exposed this behavior, and in some ways exacerbated it, to the point where people are literally clawing over others virtually to get the attention of those who may be able to help them achieve their goal. Proper networking etiquette is largely non-existent and needs to be redefined for the online space. There are times when it is appropriate to network, but then there are times when it is just selfishly using someone to get a little fleeting moment of notoriety for yourself. If you are going to go to the effort of making nice with someone you met online, do it for what they have to offer, not for whom they know. Particularly if the only reason you want to meet the object of your desire is just say that you did.

On the flip side of the coin, equally problematic for me are those who name-call and make accusatory statements about the aforementioned individuals, who have no real reason on which to base their harsh judgments. To the people flinging mud at those “working the system”, calling them names and making unsubstantiated allegations: figure out a more diplomatic way to state your feelings or just dont say anything at all. This isn’t the high school cafeteria and it is NOT ok to call anyone an unflattering and rude name, especially when you don’t know all the facts. You are just coming across as acting petty and jealous. Notice I said you were ACTING petty and jealous, not that you were petty and jealous. I am not in a position to make a character judgment about you, as you are not in a position to make character judgments about someone else when you dont know the whole story. So please stop flooding my Twitter feed with your griping!

To those who are the targets of said petty and jealous behavior – one little bit of advice. Don’t brag about it. If you don’t want people to give you a hard time then BE COOL. You don’t need to tell the world your business. There is a way to express your joy at achieving whatever it is you set out to achieve without coming across as if you are using people to get what you want. In addition, if you truly want to build relationships with these folks, then put as much effort into getting to know who they are and what they have to offer as you would friends you make IRL (for those not fluent in netspeak, that means “In Real Life”). Otherwise, you should not be surprised about the pushback you receive from those who will be quick to judge based on your braggadocio and random “nah-nee-nah-nee-boo-boo” posts you make online. These are real people with whom you are dealing, with feelings and emotions. They do not like to be used or made to feel like they have nothing more to offer than who they happen to be friendly with.

I’m sure you may be wondering what has sparked this rant. A variety of things have led me to this moment, and up to now I have been holding my tongue. I’ve witnessed some very childish behavior on various social networking sites that I belong to and it is not coming from children. It is alarming the behavior that some adults engage in online, cowardly hiding behind the artificial wall that is the Internet.

So that is what I have to say…and if you don’t like it, oh well. I’m entitled to my opinion.

Be thoughtful about what you put out there. Karma’s a bitch and that bitch will come back and bite you in the arse if you aren’t careful. At the end of the day, for your sake and mine, keep it classy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pasta a la M.E.!

As often as I get Writer's Block, I just as often am afflicted with Chef's Block. As with my cyclical moods for writing, I go through these episodes where I am feeling especially creative in the kitchen. I am in the midst of one of these cooking frenzies right now and find myself coming up with some pretty tasty things. Tonight I created "Pasta a la M.E.!"...a dish brimming over with so much flavor and healthy goodness, my mouth is doing the happy dance! Yes - sometimes I get it right!

You should know that I dont really believe in exact recipes. If cooking is not instinctual, then that takes some of the joy out of it. With the exception of baking, there is very little you can do to completely muck up a dish as long as you know the ingredients you are working with and have an idea of how they will taste together. For me, the key is thinking outside the box, putting together ingredients that you may not immediately think will go together. It is with this in mind that I created this dish, featuring some of my favorite flavors! I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed conceiving and indulging in it! Word to the wise, these are only approximate measures. Please use your best judgement. You can adjust the spice up and down by using plain olives or adding red chili flakes are your will.

2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
About 20 large, pitted green olives marinated in chili flakes, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes (any brand, any flavor - I used green pepper and onion)
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 jar Barilla marinara sauce (or your favorite brand; Barilla happens to be mine)
1 lb of medium shrimp (cooked or raw - up to you)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Bottle of Luna di Luna Merlot-Cabarnet (for the cook)

Over medium-high heat saute the garlic and onions w/ salt & pepper in EVOO until tender. Add the olives and saute for about 5 minutes on medium. Add the spinach and saute for another 5-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes & sauce and stir. Let simmer together for about 10 minutes, then add the shrimp. Simmer on medium for about 15 minutes. Serve over your pasta of choice; I choose whole wheat linguine and it was PHENOMENAL! Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy with red wine.

As with any sauce, this will taste better the next day so if you can, make ahead and reheat.

Buen Apetito!

Double Trouble, Double Fun!

This review was previously posted at The Chris Dallman Connection. I thought I would post here for reasons which will become clear very soon! :)

Having already made the acquaintance of Christopher Dallman and Aiden James in the virtual world, I thought before attending their show at the Skylark Club and Café in West Seattle on Sunday night that I was going to be in for a mellow, entertaining evening featuring two guys and their guitars. I wasn’t prepared for such energetic and brilliantly charged performances!

Unfamiliar with the Skylark Club, I had heard that it was your typical divey Seattle music joint and not to expect much. Of course, the individual who told me this has previously performed at Benaroya Hall and The Triple Door; we’ll forgive him if his thinking was a little skewed! As it turned out, the Skylark is a cool, hipster - albeit small - venue that affords an intimate and personal setting with the musicians who grace the tiny stage. Save for the creepy Addams Family-style portrait on the side of the stage with eyes that seemed to penetrate through the darkest of souls, the Skylark is a great venue and served these songsters well on the final stop of their Double Trouble Tour.

Once my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit space, I scanned the room for my friends. Spotting them at the bar, I walked toward the front of the room only to look up and see the lithe frame of Chris walking towards me with a contagious grin spread across his face and arms open wide for a hug. Even though we only know each other from online communiqués, I instantly felt like I was reuniting with a long lost friend. Every bit as warm and open as his online persona, Chris is a truly affable soul.

After the friendly greeting, he quickly hurried off to tend to final preparations before taking the stage and I sat down next to my friends at the bar, with Aiden James on the other side of me. Aiden was on the phone when I arrived and beat a courtesy retreat to the back of the room when it was time for the spotlight to be on Chris, so I wasn’t able to say Hi to him right away. Within a few moments, the opening chords of ‘Count the Shadows” filled the small space as Chris opened his set. I am most familiar with his last two albums Never Was and Sad Britney, and had not heard many of the tracks from his freshman offering Race the Light. I was glad his set included older and newer compositions as it allowed me to get a full appreciation of the long journey he has made to that small stage in West Seattle.

In addition to familiar tracks such as “A Little Bit of Blue” (on which he was accompanied by Aiden in a synchronous harmony that belied their still fresh collaboration), “Motel Room”, “Subterranean” and “Over My Head”, the audience was treated to a couple covers of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” (or Cyndi Lauper depending on which decade you were born in!) and Madonna’s “Borderline”. The inspired “Anthem”, written by Chris the day after Prop 8 passed in California, transformed Chris into a modern-day folk singer.

During the Intermission, I had an opportunity to chat with Chris. A naturally friendly, outgoing guy he’s easily approachable and comfortable to be around. Taking a break from the club and getting a breath of fresh air, we chatted like old friends trading notes about life in L.A. and life in Seattle.

His cohort and partner-in-crime for the Double Trouble Tour, Aiden James is just as friendly and easy-going, if more serious and – well, for lack of a better term – moody. But not in that annoying kind of way that makes you want to roll your eyes and slap him up the side of the head. As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed more and more that the things I observe first in others are usually those things that I know to be true about myself but may not necessarily let me them be known right away for fear of appearing vulnerable. It was that vulnerability that I sensed in Aiden almost immediately from the moment I first saw him, sequestered at the end of the bar, deep in conversation on the phone. I could immediately tell that he was a serious person –serious about his craft, passionate about his life’s path; someone who channels his passion into a creative outlet, beautiful music being the output of those efforts. A man with a dream he so desperately wants to realize and in Aiden’s case, he is savvy and motivated enough to make it happen.

To be true, I’ve not taken the time to listen to Aiden’s music as much as I have to Chris. This is in no way a reflection of Aiden. It’s my failing – and my loss - for not making the time. I have heard his track “On the Run” off the album of the same name, and seen the accompanying video, but hearing it live is so much better than through my ear buds or factory stock computer speakers.

As Aiden made his way through his set, I felt connected to him through his soulful, heartfelt lyrics that were so very real they were palpable. Like Chris, he stopped between songs to tell the stories that inspired the tunes, relating life lessons learned throughout his 27 years. It’s always fascinating to hear the stories that inspired the lyrics. “Mifflin County”, “You and He” and the unreleased “On My Sleeve” created a nexus with the audience that will last long after Aiden returns to his hometown of Philadelphia. His medley homage – humorous and respectful - to Lady Gaga was met with glee from the audience and left people wanting more.

As a writer, I take much inspiration from those who expend a lot of energy creating and putting their wares out there to be listened to and judged by the critical masses. Christopher Dallman and Aiden James are the next generation of indie musicians. They are musical orators who are telling their stories and sharing their journey along the way with those that will stop and listen. For myself, this show was one that will stick out in my mind. I hope that the next time I see them live will come much sooner, rather than later.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crazy for G!

As a precocious 8-year old, I discovered the truth about Santa Claus and immediately confronted my mother. She made me promise not to reveal my discovery to my younger siblings. This killed me as I wanted nothing more than to spill this monumental discovery, but knew I couldn’t til the time was right, lest I bear the Wrath of Mom! That’s sort of how I felt about Griffin Anthony’s new album – “Crazy Ways” when I was fortunate enough to get a preview of this album before its official release. And I can safely say now - from the first note to the last, I wanted to shout from the rooftops – “LISTEN UP PEOPLE! I got something good to tell you!!”

I’ve been following Griffin’s progress in the creation of his first LP for more than a year, since being introduced to him by a mutual friend. His is a study in creative energy and perseverance. At 26, Griffin knows where he wants to go in life and as this album clearly demonstrates, his path is clear. A talented singer/songwriter, Griffin has maximized his life experience to create a body of work that rings through with strong lyrics and masterful harmonies. As I have stood on the sidelines watching the album come together and talking to Griffin off and on throughout the process, I feel fortunate to have had a front-row seat to witness the hard work and dedication that went into it by a young man with the talent and passion to succeed in achieving what others only dream about.

And the work speaks loud and clear: Griffin’s vocals carry a smooth cadence…a bedroom voice that runs shivers down your spine and practically makes you squeal in delight. The title track “Crazy Ways” is a head-bopping little diddy that makes you want to sing along even if you don’t know the lyrics. As this first single was released in October, I had heard it before but wanted to listen again in order to get the full effect of the compilation. My initial reaction was reinvigorated as I turned up the volume and went along for the ride. Speaking of rides, the next track – “So You “ – called to mind the perfect ‘driving-home-after-a-busy-day‘ song, with no traffic around you and a wide open road where you can open it up, settle in and just cruise along. “Keep It Honest” is a funky-cool, bluesy piece that extols the Wisdom of the Ages from someone who was barely out of nappies as I was headed off to high school.

Then there is “Sleepy Sunday “…when I heard the original version I couldn’t help thinking what a great song it was. It was my favorite off Griffin’s first EP (released in 2007) and I was really excited for him when it was picked up by ABC. I had heard he was re-working it for the LP and was a little nervous about what I would hear. But let me tell you something – whereas Version 1 was a fun, flirty tune, Version 2 is sexy and seductive.

My two favorite tracks – “Without my Blocks “ and “Hurry Up “ are polar opposites. One is mellow and laidback, the other calls forth the Gods of Blues & Funk and invites the listener to get up and shake their booty to a riveting beat and bass line

Crazy Ways puts some volumes of work by far more seasoned musicians to shame. Griffin Anthony is a force to be reckoned with, and with this freshman offering he is going to help bring forth a new generation of music lovers in search of more substance and soul, and just really want to get down with the music…the basic, primal passion that moves all of us to dance and bop our heads in time to the rhythm and rejoice in the melody. Knowing what I know about G, he was born to do this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


As a long-term user of various social networking sites, I find my preferences shift over time as new sites rise in popularity over others and things evolve to suit my own changing needs. It started years ago in college when I was frequenting chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards, trolling for pen friends and such. Gradually I made the jump from chat rooms to online forums to social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook. For the most part these days, I can be found on Twitter. (The full circle journey from sparse bulletin boards through the electronic labyrinth of more complex online forums and back to the micro-blogging tool that is Twitter does not escape notice.)

On Twitter I have tweeps that I follow and tweeps who follow me (not necessarily one and the same). The folks I follow, I believe, are representative of both personal taste, interests and a random smattering from my friends and family circle. I first dipped my toe in the Twitter pond about a year ago, having the virtues of Twitter being extolled upon me at a department-wide summit. I caught the Twitter-bug big time and initially set up my account to follow other like-minded co-workers, in an exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing. Gradually my Tweet Feed has evolved into a mish-mash of professional, personal and TMI tweets from all corners of the globe.

During this past year, I’ve made many an observation about Twitter. First and foremost, I firmly believe that Twitter is guilty of creating a false sense of closeness to people that you have never met before. Case in point: I am a fan of a certain Hollywood Actor who shall remain nameless. This actor took a long time to warm up to the idea of Twitter and has previously spoken out against social networking sites as it was his belief it did society a disservice. I’ve found many share this belief…I do not. For all its shortcomings I firmly believe it is a useful tool when used properly. But I digress. That is not what this blog is really about.

In any event, said Actor has taken to tweeting quite a bit in the past month. Maybe he’s feeling generous with his thoughts, maybe he wants to reach out more to his fanbase, who knows… But following every tweet there is intense discussion amongst many of his more ardent fans speculating as to what he meant by his tweet. In response, some fans tweet him back with replies that are akin to something you would say to your Uncle sitting across from you at the dinner table. Not someone you have never met, nor are you likely to ever meet.

Then there are the psychotweeters; those people who repeatedly tweet the Actor in the hopes that maybe – just maybe – they will receive a tweet in reply. One woman tweeted the Actor constantly, and when she didn’t get a reply she UNFOLLOWED him out of spite. Then the next day, she RE-FOLLOWED him and told him she was sorry for unfollowing him in the first place. Still not sure what her point was, as I am certain with 117000+ followers, one follow-unfollow-follow gesture would go unnoticed.

Twitter also creates a false sense of security. It makes you feel like you are having a private conversation with someone only to all of a sudden have another of your mutual followers pop in and opine on your tweet. Sort of akin to being in a corner of a crowded room with a confidante, only to have that annoying chatty Cathy butt into your conversation. Certainly you have the option of sending the other person a DM (direct message), but that’s kind of the same as turning your back on a group of people all having a discussion together and whispering into your friend’s ear so no one can hear. What would Miss Manners say?

And let’s not forget the TMI tweets…I am also guilty of those. Tweets about certain bodily functions, drunk tweets, rant tweets, things that really shouldn’t be out there on the web discoverable for all to see. Granted, unlike spoken word, Twitter has a delete function which allows you to take back something you said out of anger, vanity or stupidity but you still put it there. And millions of people can potentially see it (not likely in most cases, but still a possibility!).

So – let this be a cautionary tale to you. Tweet wise; never Foolish. If in doubt, delete-the-tweet. You never know who could be...twatching!