Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2014

The Turns We Took

There's a reason why the ending of The Muppet Movie always tugs at my heart. Doesn't matter if I'm depressed or happy when I watch one of my favorite movies. The lump in my throat or the tears that come out of my eyes are from this reminder about life: When things fall apart after you think you're finally on track with your life, you find beauty and answers you've longed for over the years. I've often come back to this final movie sequence in my adult life. This year, it resonates more than ever. In 2014, I said goodbye to Juliet, the dog that cemented my love of dogs for the rest of my life. I also said goodbye to Sunny, a dog who lived a very long life that let me be in her life despite being frail, hard of hearing and seeing. As a result, every single day I get to spend with the dogs I have is a gift. They are there for me on the best days and the worst days, which I've had many of both this year. I was heartbroken when word passed along that m

A Year in Music, 2014 Edition

As a long 2014 draws to a close, I'm sharing my musical favorites of the year. From albums that came out this year to albums that came out twelve years ago, there's a lot to talk about, so without further ado . . . Favorite Albums Released in 2014 Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues A brutally-honest punk rock record with instantly-likeable melodies. Laura Jane Grace doesn't hold anything back about being transgender in her lyrics, and this is AM! at its most immediate. And thanks to Adam "Atom" Willard, this has the best drumming AM! has ever committed to record. I think it's safe to call it a classic AM! record.( Stream the whole thing ) J. Robbins, Abandoned Mansions I've admired J's work with all of his bands, which have been loud, twisted rock. This EP was a complete revelation to me. Reduced to an acoustic guitar with piano and strings, these reworked versions of Jawbox, Burning Airlines, and Office of Future Plans songs wo

Pieces of Me

As 2014 wraps up, I'm cleaning up and gathering together the loose ends. Here are the pieces I've done for the Observer in the last few months.  An interview with Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria. Just like my interviews with his bandmates Josh and Claudio, Trav was super-nice and friendly. An interview   with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. Coupled with my first piece for the Observer , which was a review of a Louris/Mark Olson show, and my interview with Mark Olson, this was a full-circle kind of experience. A feature on Dead Flowers. My third time to spotlight these guys, and they are such a worthy band. Lastly, a memorial to Evan Chronister, written for people that didn't know him. One other thing: I went to Los Angeles in November to be a guest on a podcast called This Is Rad! Co-hosted by Kyle Clark (who has been on many Nerdist podcasts). We talked about post-hardcore/emo and had a great time. You can download it on iTunes, but you can also stream it he

Groovy Times

The Dallas music scene lost one of its most vocal, opinionated, and well-spoken music ethusiasts last night. Evan Chronister was in his early fifties and passed away from injuries sustained in an accident with his scooter. I, along with many other people in the scene who see music as a never-ending rabbit hole, lost a good friend. Evan was from Houston, but spent most of his life in Dallas. He lived for music as he bought records constantly and often went to shows. The stories he would share about seeing the original version of the Misfits and Echo and the Bunnymen were some of the ones that stuck out to me. He painted vivid pictures of these shows with his words, as well as when and where he bought a certain record. Yet the guy wasn't one who lived off the memories of the distant past. He actively searched for new music every single day. He loved searching online for records and give you what you wanted and even more. He would even admit to spending more time downloading mus

Ten Years Gone

Ten years ago, after thinking about it for a few months, I finally pulled the trigger and started a blog. Taking a line from Swingers that I loved, I dubbed the blog, Theme Park Experience. Originally, I wanted to document the experience of writing my first book. Then it morphed into an outlet for rants about music, movies, TV shows, and books. Along the way, it became very philosophical by way of writers like Chuck Klosterman, Michael Azerrad, and Greg Kot. (I didn't realize how philosophical it became until my mother, a former philosophy professor, pointed it out to me.) During the first few years, I saw the rise of blogs having an influence on breaking new artists. I tried to play along, but I really felt more comfortable writing about other things. Instead of posting (and raving about) an MP3 from some duo from New York that released an EP only months after forming, I was more interested in talking about the futility of remaking a TV show or movie for a modern American aud

Go Where You Wanna Go

It's been a year since I moved away from Lakewood, and even though I could relocate to a new place as a newly-single guy, I've chosen to stay where I am. I enjoy living in North Dallas/Richardson given its central location, being not too far away from places I have enjoyed going to in my fourteen-plus years living in Dallas County. Living in Lakewood for nine years was critical for me, but I am glad I don't have homeless people going through my garbage, my street getting shut down like it's Mardi Gras on Halloween night, and I don't have to answer to the not-so-friendly landlords who bought my old place. I have a new housemate moving in at the end of the month and I have many reasons to be excited as he's been a friend for many years. Couple that with a humongous  new record store opening in nearby Farmers Branch , shows to see, and a quick trip to Los Angeles for something very cool (for which I reveal at a later date) and I'm happy to say fall is sha

Your Nobody Called Today

Last night, though tired and sleepy from a long day of working, I decided to stay up a little later when I saw my PBS affiliate airing an encore presentation of When Dallas Rocked , a recently-made documentary. Focusing on the 70s and early 80s of blues and rock musicians, as well as the radio personalities and journalists, everything seemed like a nice overview. That is, until I got to a section towards the end. When I heard what was being said, I rolled my eyes and proclaimed, "Bullshit!" (I did a similar thing as I watched the end of Downloaded , a documentary on the rise, fall, and impact of Napster.) I take a lot of umbrage with people who make generalized statements like, "Nobody buys records anymore" and "There aren't any record stores anymore." Couple that with a comment about how barely anyone goes to local shows now and there are barely any venues to play. Why I take umbrage is because this is not entirely true . People buy less records

8 Mile Road

I set out on the healing road to think about the past and focus on the future. This summer, I've been to Round Rock twice and Houston once. This past weekend, I went to St. Louis, planning on seeing a show and making up my plans before and after the show. The day before I left Dallas, I received a text from my friend who plays in the band I wanted to see. He said the show might be cancelled and he didn't want me to waste a nine-hour drive. I told him that I needed a road trip and that I would understand if the show ended up getting cancelled. The venue they were originally scheduled to play in was shut down and they had tentative plans to play the venue next door. Starting early Sunday morning, I drove through Oklahoma to get to Springfield and then St. Louis. The drive was long, but it wasn't too short or too long for me. I enjoyed the sights of mountains with the cooler (for summer) temperatures. I listened to a variety of tunes on the multiple CD mixes I made. (One

When We Were the Kids

After seven years, my second book, When We Were the Kids , has been made available. Amazon and Barnes & Noble will have it soon, but it can be purchased through the publisher now .  Thanks to everyone who waited.

The Healing Road

I've never looked into the science of it, but somehow, motion has a soothing effect on our bodies and minds. It's the action that (usually) soothes babies who are crying about some want or desire they have, but they can't explain with words. Motion, whether it's walking, riding, or driving, puts someone's mind at ease, no matter what the age. On the nights I couldn't go to sleep as a baby, my father would drive me around the streets of Metarie in our blue Pontiac Catalina. (Years later, that car would serve as my first car.) Something worked better by being on paved roads instead of a rocking chair. My mind was filled with only a few thoughts, mainly about hunger and answering nature's call. Eventually I would fall asleep and my dad would bring us home. These days, motion provides something that doesn't make me fall asleep. Motion lets me spread out my thoughts and inspires me to keep going in life.  Neil Peart wrote a bare-all book called Ghost

Whenever, If Ever

Here's a recap of what I've been up to with the Observer . I wasn't planning on going to the Jeff Tweedy show at the Majestic, but when my editor asked if anyone was interested in going, I signed up. I had trepidation about seeing a show filled with random yelling from the crowd and random musings from Jeff. Luckily, the show was great with very little of that. You can read the full review here . I don't consider myself a huge fan of The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, but I was impressed when I saw them live back in February. So when their publicist asked me if I was interested in interviewing them, I was open for it. I talked with main member Derrick on Tuesday and the interview went live on Friday. And while I was excited to see Deafheaven again, I came away from the show disappointed. How the hell this happened, I explain in the first few paragraphs in my review .

Stuck On You

Living in Dallas, I'm well aware of some great musical acts that only come to the biggest cities in America. If I could deal with the crowded living found in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, then I could see even more bands that come around only once in a lifetime. But I love living in Dallas, and I've never thought about getting on a plane to see a band. (I have done a roadtrip and it was worth it.) When a band like Failure reunites, I'd expect them to only play a handful of shows, mainly tied in with festivals like Coachella or Lollapalooza. I don't begrudge the bands who do this; the money's way too good. Failure did do a special one-off show earlier this year in Los Angeles, but they decided to mount a national tour. Seeing Dallas on the itinerary, I jumped at the chance to do anything I could with press coverage. That resulted in a show preview , an interview with Greg Edwards , and a live show review . That's a lot of Failure, but being a Failure fa

You Saved Me

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I went to three shows, two of which I reviewed for the Observer . You can read my thoughts on Eagulls' first time playing Dallas here  and read my review of the Journey show here . But the show that really impressed me was the show I didn't review: the Winery Dogs at the Granada Theater. I had the pleasure of interviewing  their drummer, Mike Portnoy, for DC9 as a show preview. He was friendly and open with me, making the interview flow very well. I didn't want to ask any direct questions about Dream Theater, but did share about his past while focusing on the present with the Winery Dogs. Coming into the show on Saturday night, I had a feeling I would enjoy the show. The tunes on the band's self-titled debut are enjoyable, bluesy pop rock songs. But I did not expect to see a crowd so charged by the band's set. People were going crazy at the sight of the band, with everyone raising arms and fists, yelling loudly, befo

Drinkin' That Ice Cold Beer

What happens when a trend in music reeks of terrible offenses to the audio and visual senses, yet is somehow still infectiously catchy? A trend in particular that's been on my mind lately is the one dubbed, "bro country." This trend has been perfectly mocked on  YouTube  and the best talk radio station in the DFW area . Essentially, these days, if you're a male artist and want to have a massive hit on the country charts, the song lyrics must include references to the following: 1. A truck 2. A girl 3. Alcohol 4. Driving on dirt roads 5. Farm equipment 6. Tight jeans on said girl  7. A small body of water 8. Sunset and/or moonlight 9. Summer 10. Guns 11. Fishing 12. Boots 13. God The more references the artist has in the first 60 seconds of the song, the better chances of it becoming a hit. Don't believe me? Just watch the clock as a song gets going.  Musically, bro country is more like hard rock with flashes

A Real Good Time Together

I'm a little behind in posting these links, but I've been pretty busy with articles for the Observer . In the last few weeks, I wrote about an Indiegogo countdown party , the Hold Steady returning to the Granada in fine fashion , had a fun little interview with Dylan from Tiny Moving Parts , and a did a brief interview with Eric Nadel, the great Texas Rangers broadcaster . After not doing much for the paper in the last few months of 2013, things keep popping up now, and it's still a lot of fun. I'm going on five years with this place, and I have some really cool interviews coming up in the next few weeks. Interviews with people I never thought I'd interview that I've long admired.

It's Never Too Late to Work Nine to Five

For years, I was not sure I was cut out for working a regular, nine-to-five job. Was I going to be happier working from a home office, away from the kind of nuances that Office Space  and The Office perfectly lampooned? Would I ever have weekends and holidays completely free of the fear a last-minute emergency would happen and I would have to work? Was I giving into The Man by wanting things like health insurance, a livable wage, and an opportunity to grow my professional skills? After years of working part-time jobs and full-time jobs in one industry, I have to say transitioning into a different industry has been an extremely positive change. Yes, I work in an environment that might, from an outsider's perspective, give way to Initech and Dunder Mifflin references, but there is nothing I find wrong with this environment. The office environment I had previously worked in (cubicles, offices, water coolers, copy machines) was not different from what I'm now. 


This month marks five years of writing for the Dallas Observer . I am always happy to talk about local bands that are doing great things, and promising and established national bands that come to the area. Things of Earth is, without a doubt, one of my favorite active bands around. I had interviewed their drummer before, but I had never interviewed them before. With their new EP, Dangers , out, I got the chance to interview all four of them. You can read the interview here . Little backstory about the interview. We all met at a sports bar called Plucker's. None of us knew it would be on a trivia night, and there was no way we could do an interview with the MC constantly talking into a microphone. After we ate, we went into the parking lot and talked.

Walk On

Sometimes in life, we get wonderful news and terrible news in only a short amount of time. Between hours or days, it feels like everything is right in the world, only to have that joy undercut by tragedy. Seems like you can't have one end of the spectrum without the other. This week, I landed a full-time job with a company I had previously worked for as a freelancer. It is a fantastic company that I am happy to join and they're happy to have me. (Good sign with any company: the people you worked with a few years ago are still there .) Signing on with them ended a two-year rocky journey trying to find something that would move my career in a new direction. I'm grateful for all the part-time work I've done since October 2011, but I never stopped trying to find the right fit in a full-time position. Something inside me wasn't ready to settle or give up. Whatever it took, no matter how long it took, and no matter how crazy of a schedule I would have. I credit persis

March Record a Day (Fourth Week)

March 23rd: Album Bought at a Show Into It. Over It, Intersections ( pic ) Bought this directly from Evan Weiss at Trees when his band opened for Saves the Day. March 24th: Hand-Numbered Record Braid, Frame & Canvas ( pic ) Not necessarily hand-numbered, but for Record Store Day 2013, this came with a "420/1000" UPC. I don't know if every copy had the same UPC or not. March 25th: A Picture Disc Robert Goulet, Hollywood Mon Amour ( pic ) I don't own any picture discs, so I thought it would be funny to post a pic of an early Robert Goulet album. Goulet is Goulet, part serious, part over-the-top. March 26th: A Re-press Phil Spector's Christmas Album ( pic ) Definitely not an original, given the very '80s design for a sleeve. The music is still ace. March 27th: Album Given As a Gift  Tom Waits, Nighthawks at the Diner ( pic ) My old housemate Matt gave me this as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. Features some wonderful tunes, l


I've played the drums for twenty years, and I can't decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I have only had three proper drum lessons. My first sit-down-and-listen lesson was four years ago, when I participated in Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp. The teacher? Sandy Gennaro, the same drummer who was featured on the first instructional tape I ever received. (Sandy signed my tape afterwards.) The other two lessons were from Robert Anderson, a local drummer I have long respected during his time in the Deathray Davies and currently with Nervous Curtains.  As I'm preparing for my next lesson, with none other than Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Rymer, I take into account why I want to improve as a drummer now, twenty years after I started playing on a kit.  Like a lot of things in life, if you want to make yourself happy (and stay happy), you try to improve your strengths and assess your weaknesses. With drumming, it never, ever hurts to go back

A Fat Wreck

I don't remember how I heard about A Fat Wreck , but I remember when I met with Shaun Colón last year. We had talked over e-mail a few days before the Dallas premiere of Filmage , the excellent documentary on the Descendents/All. We talked after the screening about what he hoped to do with his film, which was originally planned to be a short film. Now with plans to make A Fat Wreck into a much-longer film, he created an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to, essentially, finish the film. The goal was $7,500 in 36 days. Turns out, all of that money was raised in 24 hours. I talked with Shaun yesterday afternoon, transcribed the conversation later in the evening, and the interview was posted this morning. I'm proud of Shaun and what he's done so far. This kind of story is what keeps me writing for the Observer . Writing about people who live in the DFW area, doing things that people often mistakenly think you can only do in larger, hipper cities. Make your town be proud,

March Record a Day (Third Week)

March 16th: A Splatter-Colored Vinyl The Appleseed Cast, Middle States ( pic )  Upon closer inspection, I actually have a few splatter-colored vinyls. This is one I have never spun. I bought it directly from the band at a show in Denton last year. Got out the MP3 code and rocked out to it that way. Sure is a pretty color vinyl, though. March 17th: A Green-Colored Vinyl Title Fight, Floral Green ( pic ) In honor of St. Patrick's Day, it's green vinyl! I don't hesitate to call this a classic. While their influences are pretty obvious (No Knife, Seaweed, Lifetime), these guys are going in the right direction.  March 18th: A Local Band Innards, I've Lost Everything ( pic ) This is a Denton-based four-piece. They play really short songs with a lot of screaming. For some reason, they're considered "Dad-core." I have no clue as to what the hell that means. March 19th: An Album That Makes You Dance The Sylvers, Something Special (

March Record a Day (Second Week)

March 9th: An Album on Classic Black Vinyl Laura Nyro and LaBelle, Gonna Take a Miracle ( pic ) An album of R&B and soul covers, but delivered in such an incredible way. I found this for a few dollars at Half Price Books. I finally got to hear more of the album (I had only heard the title track, which is worth the price of the record on its own) and am continued to be amazed by it. "Jimmy Mack" is especially great. March 10th: A 10-inch Environmental Youth Crunch/Pink Razors split ( pic )  A record I barely remember listening to from my days as a reviewer for Punk Planet . Every month I'd get a stack of records to review for each issue. Some records were memorable, but so many were not. If I recall correctly, this is trashy pop-punk.  March 11th: Any Record John Barry, Great Movie Sounds of . . . ( pic ) John Barry's music really grabbed me when I heard the main theme from Midnight Cowboy on a radio station I did traffic for. After I w

March Record a Day (First Week)

I had so much fun with February Record a Day, and I was happy to see there is a March Record a Day. This series might continue for the rest of the year, and I'll keep doing this until I run out of records to show. March 1st: An Artist That Begins With the Letter M The Moody Blues, Days of Future Past ( pic )  One of the earliest additions to my library when I started collecting vinyl a couple of years ago. Just a great collection of string-tinged tunes, including "Nights in White Satin." March 2nd: An Album from a Foreign Artist Paul Young, The Secret of Association ( pic )  Aside from an album of German polka songs (done by various artists), I don't have many options with what constitutes a "foreign" artist. Since Paul Young is not from America, I figured this counts. I bought this for "Every Time You Go Away" and I was surprised to hear the LP version. Certain key elements from the single version are not there, especi

Girls Rock!

While I was at the Comedy House on Wednesday, I received an e-mail from the Observer 's temporary editor. Asking if anyone would be interested in writing about Girls Rock Dallas, a non-profit, volunteer-run group that puts instruments in the hands of girls and lets them form a band, I jumped at the chance. Yesterday afternoon, I talked with its founder, Rachel Michaud, and quickly transcribed our interview. Since GRD is looking for a new venue (and they're running out of time), I put this together as fast as I could. You can find my interview here .

February Record a Day (Fourth Week)

February 24th: Least Favorite Record Warren Franklin, Your Heart Belongs to the Midwest ( pic )  I bought this at a house show last year directly from Warren. Warren played an excellent electric set with the current line-up of Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate). Yet when I listened to this record, which is all acoustic, I wasn't very pleased. His voice is a little too rough and shaky for my tastes. (I'm more of a Davey von Bohlen guy than a Tim Kinsella guy.) I'm more than happy to help and support musicians, but this record is not one I go to for repeat plays.  February 25th: Record on Classic Black Vinyl Rival Schools, United By Fate ( pic ) Received this a gift from my friend Nick. I'm a monumental fan of Rival Schools. I've seen them every time they've come to town (which, so far, is only twice). This is, without question, my favorite band that Walter Schreifels has been a part of. Since this is an original pressing, it's on

February Record a Day (Third Week)

February 17th: An Acoustic Album Andres Segovia, A Bach Recital ( pic ) Segovia is a name I've heard in passing over the years. But I didn't really understand the beauty of his playing until I watched a clip in Sound City . John Fogerty talks about the sound quality and the passion of Segovia's playing, and I couldn't help notice. I found this a little over a month ago. The sound quality is not great, but the playing is top notch. February 18th: A Split-EP Minus the Bear/The City on Film ( pic ) Bob Nanna gave me this at a show he played at Beat Kitchen in Chicago. I didn't have a record player at the time, so I initially politely declined. Thankfully I wised up, took it, and agreed to find some record to play it on. February 19th: White Vinyl Everyone Everywhere, self-titled ( pic ) There are times when you're lucky to be online at the right time. This fantastic Philly band was selling a very limited number of their second


On Thursday of last week, I turned 35. Like almost every birthday since my 18th, I don't feel like a full-blown adult. Then again, I wasn't exactly sure what being an adult would feel like. Not often, but occasionally in my teenage years, I wondered what being an adult was really like. I looked at adults around me and pondered things. Will I be taller than I am now? Will I be listening to Kenny G and Celine Dion? Will I be living by myself in a big empty place?  I can't say there is one event or moment when I stopped being a youth and started being an adult. Becoming an uncle seven years ago was an indicator, but so was moving into my own apartment back in 1998. There are so many transitions in life; more than I would realize until later. If you want a good indication on how much you've grown, talk with someone you haven't spoken to in a number of months or years. You generalize the main events, including obstacles that seemed huge and unab

February Record a Day (Second Week)

February 10th: Any 10-inch Record face to face,  Econo-Live  ( pic ) Back when I collected singles, I came upon this through a mailorder catalog. It's a very rare and rough documentation of face to face before they recorded their self-titled third album. There are slightly different arrangements of songs that wound up on the album. Think of it as a glimpse of the album to come. February 11th: Collection of an Artist Jimi Hendrix,  Are You Experienced ,  Axis: Bold as Love ,  Electric Ladyland  ( pic ) I don't have many complete collections of an artist on vinyl. Showcasing the three proper albums that Hendrix released while he was alive, this is one of the exceptions. My former housemate Matt gave me these when he moved out last summer. They're still in good shape, and the music is still out of this world. February 12th: Artist That Begins with the Letter 'L' Lifetime,  Hello Bastards ,  Jersey's Best Dancers  ( pic ) I don't often double