Mars Life


Lower expectations

So I wrote a big long entry last week about not having a free moment to spare, and look where it got me. I didn't even post last week, and that entry still sits in my palm, unused, unfinished, unread. That's why you are currently reading 'lower expectations.'

So what the hell's been keeping me so busy? Well, here's a list of the multitude of tasks I've been somewhat neglecting or spottily trying to finish, with minimal detail describing each.

Finish my pieces of the RoxBox website (namely the bio page. Good progress on this one, though!)
Organize a commercial shoot for Jambalaya's (need to do this fast for an upcoming deadline!!!)
create my own website (this is waiting until I finish my part of the RB site)
transcribe and complete 'Cause and Affection,' my screenplay (ummm… yeah… need to pick that up again)
buy a gym bag and start working out (enough procrastinating on this one. Especially since I weighed myself this weekend.)
begin animating 'Bob and Patrick, the cartoon Kerri and I have an idea for (this’ll be a time consumer just like the personal site)
diversify my 401k (must…stop…losing…money!)

(insert infomercial voice) And many more!!

So yeah, being the easily-overwhelmed type, I’ve taken on quite a bit as of late, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep updating, as well as living my life day-to-day while fitting this stuff in. I guess we’ll just have to see. I apologize for not expounding a little more, or telling those who actually read this little corner of the intraweb any more about things, but I’m just venting here folks.

Until next time, more to come (eventually)


The Yammer vortex

As you may or may not know, when I first moved to Chicago, I was dying for a creative outlet. Enter spoken word performance poetry. I went out by myself, saw my first feature (by Jason Pettus, actually, read his journal here), saw a couple open mics, then saw a slam. I loved it! Everyone seemed like such a tight-knit commnity, all speaking their minds, all performing to entertain an audience.

"Shit! I could do this," I thought. "Shit! I've done this," I then thought. I used to write poetry very similar to what I was hearing back when I was in high school. I even performed at a couple coffee houses in college. Also, I'd been the frontman/rapper in two different roots-like bands before moving to Chicago (check out the most recent of the two at, so I really felt at home at these kinds of events. Aaah, the comfortable feeling of familiarity.

So I started to frequent some open mics in town, most regularly, the Mental Graffiti open mic which was at The Note at the time (since then it's moved to the Funky Buddha Lounge. If you need something fun to do on a monday night in Chicago, I highly recommend it.) I wrote what I like to think were some nice pieces, and they were fairly well received.

It's an easy transition going from being a rapper with absolutely no street cred to being a spoken word poet. You've got the notion of rhythm and inflection already (if you didn't I hate to tell ya, you weren't a good rapper), the biggest adjustment I felt was freeing myself up to write about anything and everything I was feeling. Of course, in that sense, that’s where the no street cred came in handy. I didn’t really have anything in my life that the usual rapper would write about, like spending time with other fans of hip-hop, the run-around life of a hustler, promiscuous sex, but I had the skills. Spoken word poetry was perfect.

So flash-forward to now, where I’ve already written some poetry, performed it for several months at the open mics in town, and stopped going because I wasn’t really finding a place in the community. I haven’t really lost any interest in the art, I just haven’t made many friends in the scene, really. So when Jason and Kate (another poet who frequented the Mental Graffiti event) asked if I wanted to go see some open-mic poetry on Wednesday night, it didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the energy of the Yammer open mic at Carol’s Pub.

What a fun time. I got to pick both Kate and Jason’s poems, they both sounded wonderful, I got to meet Lisa Hemminger, who runs the open mic, and we all had tequila shots! What could be better! I even got up and did one of my old poems, yes, I was fully pulled into the Yammer vortex. It did end up in me finally recording one of my poems on my handheld, something I’ve always been meaning to do. I took a cue from Jason, and influenced by the creativity that was flowing in the room despite the low turnout, I frantically transcribed my poem “Squeak, Rattle, and Pose” into my Sony Clie.

God, stepping back up there really affected me. It always does. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that it’s less than five minutes in front an audience of ten, and won’t really result in me jumping headfirst back into spoken word. Nevertheless, it did affect me. Next time I’m free on an evening, maybe I’ll actually consider going to one of the open mics in this city that likes to pride itself as the birthplace of spoken word. Stranger things have happened!

So for now, I wish you all a safe weekend. Next week there’ll be more to come!


Happy Sandwich Week!

I'll explain the title in a bit, I just have unfinished hip-hop business from yesterday, so onto that.

My history with hip-hop (like any of my stories on my personal life) could go back very far. Let’s go back to high school for the sake of this story. My friends got me into rap music back when I was in high school. As I only had about four close high school friends, I pretty much listened to whaqt they listened to. I really did like rap, and gained my own appreciation for it, and even started to seek out new artists I liked (I can still recall the first time I ever saw Del on Yo! MTV Raps, and telling my friends about it). This was from about 90 – 93 or so, when a lot of people thought (and some still think) the artform was at its prime.

When I went off to college, I still listened to rap music, but it was a bit harder to find like-minded fans, so I started to once again take in the influence of those around me. Enter Phish. It was in 94 that I really started listening to a lot of Phish, hanging out with the hippies in school, and buying copious amounts of tickets for the tours they were on (also the hey-day for Phish, some think). Rap music started to adopt a lot of thuggish imagery, gang associations, and less-than-enlightened themes around this time (forgive the pompous sound of that last remark, circumlocution’s a bitch) and though some of it was good, I didn’t really feel it in me to be ‘in the game’.

Nowadays, there are all sorts of incredible independent-label emcees, and artists who are of the same opinion as me, and prefer not to pander to the gangsta rap of the mid-to-late 90’s. They’ve actually been around in some form since I dropped out of the scene, but they’ve been gaining momentum and are quite a bit more prominent now. So, what do you know, my eyes have been opened, and I’m back into hip-hop. The prodigal son has returned (“anyone stepping to me ya get burned…” yeah, I know)

So now let’s revisit last Friday night. Whenever I go to a hip-hop show nowadays, I get this incredible connection to it. I know I have a background in it, I feel confident in that, I just don’t run with a crew that lives and breathes hip-hop. I love the energy, I love the artists, the battles, the circles, the call-and-response, and it’s all good times, really. After every hip-hop show, open mic, or event I go to, I always have a buzz from the energy and swear I’m going to try more to be an active part of the scene. The thing is, how the hell do I actually do it?

I’ve gone to the open mic in my neighborhood a few times before, but I don’t know anyone, so I stand there and just watch. It’s entertaining, but I can’t exactly go with anyone I know, because the thing doesn’t usually get hoppin until about 10:30, which is much too late for all of my day-job having, wanting to get paid for their art friends. Ah well, what can I do? I can just stand on the sidelines, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to start writing verses again (I used to be in a couple bands where I rapped. Everyone always told me I was good, and, ironically enough, that I sound just like Del).

So my connection to the hip-hop scene is limited, at best. Shit, I don’t even have cable anymore, so it’s not like I can even see what passes for a rap video these days. However, that didn’t stop me from stepping to Pugslee Atoms of the Nacrobats after last Friday’s show and offering to do a video for them with RoxBox. Pugs was selling CD’s after the show, (which they sincerely rocked, by the way. Anyone interested in Chicago hip-ho should check out Nacro) Jamie gave him a business card, and I reached out to build. They’re going on tour, but how fun would it be to have a RoxBox/Nacro collabo? I’d love to work with them to see what ideas they’d have to put into a video.


OK, the Sandwich Week explanation, as promised. Tuesday, I got lunch at a nice little salad restaurant in my building. I usually, for the last year or so, have been getting one of their salads (If you ever find yourself in a Salad Spinners restaurant, I suggest the mexicali), but I used to be a big fan of their sandwiches. Well, on Tuesday, for no real reason I can tell, I decided to go back to the sandwich.

Coincidentally, Kerri had a sandwich for lunch that day as well, from Mr. Submarine. She sat down with me after work to eat the remainder of her sandwich, and I reveled in the coincidence, and proclaimed it Sandwich Week.

Since Tuesday, I've had sandwiches at Mr. Submarine, Potbelly's, and right now I just finished a chicken bacon club at a small place named Earl's. From my experiences this week, I'm going to have to give my judgment to Potbelly's. Stop by if you want a great hot sandwich at a very reasonable price. I suggest the 'Wreck'.

Lastly, an update on mom’s project. I think I’ll be able to do it. I made a little progress yesterday, and now I just need to put in some time on Saturday. If all comes together as I plan, I’ll give an update on Monday and tell all about it.

Until then, even if it’s not until Monday, there’s sure to be more to come!


Go 'ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh!'

Oh, god, do I love hip-hop. Oh, god, do I love De La Soul. I finally got to see them again, after the last time being able to see them was about three years ago in CT. Let me just tell any De La fans out there, you should have been there. Maseo was on, he got to step in for Common's part, switched up the beat on potholes, and was just all-around-on-point for all the changes. The best part of all had to be when Plug 3 cut to the beat from 'The Choice is Yours,' Plug 1 and 2 faced the back, and bowed their heads, and Dres came out to rock it with them. The crowd was bananas from the moment Maseo dropped the beat.

Here's a setlist (of what I knew, at least.)
Plug Tunin'>
Potholes> Potholes remix>
Ring Ring Ring
Stakes is High
common joint from stakes is high*
Thru Ya City
A Rollerskating Jam Named Saturday
Me, Myself, & I
Flavor of the Month**
The Choice is Yours**
Ooh, Ooh

*w / Maseo for Common
**w / Dres

Wish I had time to go on to talk about my relationship with hip-hop, and what these shows do to me. Guess that’ll just have to be a teaser of more to come!


Mother of all holidays

Well, here we are once again approaching the busiest mail day of the year, Mother's Day. When April hits every year, I start to quickly become aware of the string of holidays that are fast approaching. For me, I have Dad's birthday in April, Mother's day in May, Mom's birthday in June, and Father's day, which I always forget the date for until about a week before.

I always go through the same bout with guilt every year, because I honestly never know what to get for my parents. They always say all I need to do is get them a card, and I do, but I know they'd love to be the proud parents of a son who can buy them a new car, or a luxurious trip to the Caribbean, but I've never really been the guy who can do that. Couple that with them paying for my entire college education, add in the fact that I moved halfway across the country after not leaving the state for 25 years, and you've got one guilty feeling son.

I've always considered myself an extremely lucky person to have parents who could provide for me so well. I've always hoped that when I finally do have a child of my own, I'd provide just as well for it as they have for me. I think it's one of the main reasons I turned out as well adjusted as I did. Here's to hoping.

So I'm currently in the middle of the parental holiday block, having moved past Dad's birthday, and I'm still toiling over how to celebrate the upcoming holiday for Mom. I sort of feel like I failed miserably for Dad, I sent a card, called him on the big day, but never got him a gift. He's never wanted a gift in all the times I've asked, but I still can't help but feel as if I should be getting him something.

I do have somewhat of an idea of how to celebrate Mom's day. I told Kerri last night, and she loved it. I mean, she didn't jump up and go through the choreography of her upcoming fight scene, but she thought it was a sweet idea. That said, I think I'm going to go ahead and try and do it. If all goes well, it will be completed by the big day. I'll keep you posted, but since mom reads the old blog, I can't be very specific.


Well, that’s about all I’ve got time for today, but I’ve been dying to write a review of the De La show I went to on Friday. Hopefully I’ll be able to get into that tomorrow. Oh, man I can’t wait to break it down.

So until then, stay tuned, there’s more to come.


I'm hella mobile, yo.

So mobile, in fact, that I'm writing this entry on the toilet. You didn't need to know that, but I did feel the need to tell you.

I first got a palm pilot for Christmas in 2000. Before Christmas that year, I had told my mom not to get one for me because I'd never use it. Yes, my mother's stubborn, and she thinks she knows what's best for me. In her defense, she usually ends up being right, after I stubbornly kick and scream for a little while. You know, usual mother/son stuff.

Anyway, I was sort of right about the whole palm pilot claim I made. I kept it around all the time, and from time to time I'd put an appointment or a phone number in it, but I was never really consistent with it. I was even more inconsistent at syncing it to my pc. It got to be a normal occurrence that my batteries would run down, I wouldn't sync it quick enough, and then when I finally got around to changing them, I'd have lost all my personal data. Ugh.

Recently, however, my coworker Karen got a new palm tungsten. Finally I got to see these new, fancy, hi-resolution color handhelds in action. I immediately knew what to do with my bonus. Ebay probably heard me coming a mile away.

I ended up settling on the Sony Clie SJ33. I was ecstatic with the deal I got on ebay mostly because of the 64MB memory stick that came with it. It perfectly fit my criteria due to the Documents To Go software that came with it. Now I can work on MS Word (this journal entry) and Excel files on the go.

I'm not sure if it's a placebo or an actual solution to my slacker tendencies, but I sure feel a lot more productive and organized. Hell, it's the main reason I've been updating! Oh, and by the way, no, I wasn't on the can the whole time, mainly just for that sentence.

Until next time, I'm completely confident in promising more to come!


Adventures on the inter-web

As promised, a little more RoxBox news. Recently, as I've mentioned in previous entries, I've been putzing around with the popular web animation tool, flash. Ask my girlfriend Kerri, it has consumed many hours that used to be spent in front of the television with her. Don't get me wrong, though, she's always happy to see me passionate about something.

So like I said, I've talked about this in previous entries, and linked to the animations I've made. Since then, though, I've learned quite a bit. I've made a navigation menu that looks quite a bit sleeker, I think, and you can see it at the RoxBox site (ahem...FAVORITES/BOOKMARKS!). The site isn't finished yet, but at least it's well on its way.

I love working with flash if I have a couple hours to devote to it. Mostly because it's a tool that makes animation possible for one person to create independently. I always wanted to be a cartoonist when I was growing up. I'm not there yet by any means, but understanding this software makes me believe I actually could be one day.

Here's to hoping!


Lastly, I made a fuss yeserday about subscriptions, and I came to find out today that the web application that makes it possible has a server error right now.

Thanks to those who left comments though!!!

Until next time, more to come!!


May Day, May Day!!!

Well, long time no speak, good friends (all three or four of you*).
Welcome once again to the self-important chronicling of my life. Sit
back and enjoy the dose of journalistic exhibitionism I provide here at
'Mars Life'.


So then, where have all the updates gone? Well, I've definitely been
slacking on my writing, and my most recent assumption is that these
updates will hopefully refuel those creative energies.

Today, I thought a little RoxBox news would be in order. About two
weeks ago RoxBox fnished shooting our most recent short film, 'Tim's
Day'. It will be about ten to fifteen minutes long, and chronicles a
day in the life with Tim (go figure), a young man who perpetually has
angry visions flowing through his head.

This one was especially exciting for several reasons. First off, we
were dealing with a first time director, Ben Montague. Ben also did the
writing on this piece, so it was easy to match the vision to the script.
Another interesting part of this project was our first eperience with
special effects. Comments on that? Well, let me just say scrubbing
blood spatter off of an office wall can be quite tedious.

The main reason behind shooting this one is that Ben's also hoping to
direct our first feature, and wanted to gear up to the process of
directing. We hope to begin production on the feature in the fall.
It's entitled 'Thud', and Ben wrote that piece as well. In short, Ben has
been quite the asset to the company.

Well, I think tomorrow may be a little more RoxBox news... don't want to
blow the proverbial load all at once, you know.

Until then (fingers crossed), more to come!

(*Oh yeah, one more thing. If you are reading, feel free to leave a
comment below. I do love to read them, and the email address field is
strictly informational, I do believe. Heck, try putting in a fake one!
No pressure though, I've ben a lurker on more than one blog/board myself.
Lastly, feel free to subscribe at the top of the page, all the
subcription does is send an email each time I update linking to the
update. Nothing happens with your address. Ask my co-worker Karen or
my mom! Currently my two loyal subcribers. God have you ever seen a
wordier needy person?)

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