Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our New Animated Short, Other Fish!

Two weeks ago we completed work on our newest project, Other Fish. The 4:39 movie was animated/co-directed by Josh Stifter, produced by my wife Olivia Roush, and features sounds by Mike Hallenbeck. It follows a recently divorced woman who attempts to swim a channel of shark infested water in order to prove to herself that she is now truly independent. We were incredibly fortunate to score an amazing cast for this project including Michael Parks, Harley Quinn Smith, and Jacqui Duncan. Since the movie is now stuck in film fest submission hell (the process of submitting to film festivals means that you must sit on your hands for the better part of 6-9 months before you can release it) I wanted to take a little time to talk about what the project is, who was involved, and the lengthy process of bringing an animated project into fruition.

Deleted scene in Tusk
I first heard of Josh Stifter while working on the set of Tusk. Kevin Smith is a one in a million filmmaker who is such a work-hard nutcase on set that his rough cut of a project is typically assembled before principal photography is even over. One day about 3/4 into production in North Carolina, Kevin put Mewes and I in charge of assembling a TV and sound system in order to screen the rough edit of Tusk to the cast and crew during lunch. There is something truly magical about watching a crew actually see a version of the art that they are currently working on. It was this cut that included a few select animated sequences, one of which included the backstory of Michael Parks' character Howard Howe done by Josh Stifter. I was taken aback by the visceral animated visuals on screen. I'm not sure whether he or I reached out to one-another first, but ultimately less than a year later we were looking for a project to collaborate on together.

In February 2015 my Mother-in-law was about to swim a race that actually took place in shark-infested water. This lead to my wife waking me out of sleep one night, telling me about a nightmare of her mother actually getting attacked while in the water. The next morning I wrote a 7 page script inspired by the story she told me. However, I wanted to tell something bigger, something with a moral, a very twisted moral. One about the dangers of following your dreams.

James Gunn once wrote a blog about the dangers of following your dreams in Hollywood. It is a genius and thought-provoking article that should be considered mandated reading to anyone wishing to become a master in any career. The fact of the matter is that it is extremely irresponsible for people that have "made it" to blindly regurgitate the phrase "follow your dreams" when talking to those contemplating attempting to make art for a living. 

The film, TV, and music industries are extremely over-crowded by people who are attempting to break into it thinking they are special. If you are in fact one of the people truly dedicated to making it, you have to be so absorbed and obsessed with your craft that there is nothing else that matters. In many cases, this leads not only to the breaking of hearts, but the decline of relationships, finances, and even your own health. My point is that if you are so hell-bent that you are willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of your dream, there are deep, horrible ramifications that may come along as a result. I'm only using my own experience here as an example. I'm sure if you ask a painter, sculptor, carpenter, luthier, or those that have mastered any other trade, the same applies to some degree. This film is my little fable about the dangers of following your dreams.

Parks and I
Once I had the script finalized and sent it off to Stifter, we were off and rolling. We floated around some casting ideas but I knew exactly who I wanted. Though I traveled to North Carolina for Tusk as a behind the scenes videographer, Kevin immediately assigned me to Michael Parks as his assistant. During that time I'd drive him to set, go out to lunch, and the things one typically does in the role. However, the time I'll always value is sitting on the steps of his trailer with him in the doorway as we both shared cigarettes and he regaled me of tales of his days hanging with Elvis, Lenny Bruce, Johnny Cash, Richard Pryor, Miles Davis, etc. While talking about his music career, Parks would even occasionally break into song. So of course, when it came time to approach someone to play Grandpa in Other Fish, he was my natural choice and just like the class act he is, he immediately said yes.

HQ as Sandy
After we wrapped on Tusk I went back to my humdrum life at Sony (working 20 hour days and sleeping under my desk for the other 4... but that's another story). One night, out of the blue I got a call from Jen Schwalbach who invited me to come work for her family as a driver/bodyguard of sorts. That one call saved me from my cubical bound life and I will always be indebted for it. For the next year and a half I drove around the youngest of the Smith clan. I'd drive Harley and her friends to malls, parties, the movies, all sorts of teenage girl stuff. This allowed me ample downtime while waiting on them to concentrate on my writing and allowed me the flexibility to complete my movie Rodney Redbottom, write, shoot, and edit The Mission, as well as finish my first full screenplay (an adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story). One day while driving the family to the set of Yoga Hosers, I approached Jen about asking Harley to star in Other Fish and she was incredibly supportive. I recorded Harley Quinn the next week and she of course knocked it out of the park.

Jacqui on TV
That only leaved the role of the mother to be cast. We mulled over many options, but it was Liv who mentioned her good friend Jacqui Duncan. She had met the aspiring actress in Sydney while working for a wine dispensary and the two moved to Los Angeles at damn near the same time. I of course was offish about an Australian playing such a dominant role in an American, animated movie, but Liv was confident she could handle it. After reviewing several productions Jacqui had been involved in, I was sold as well and we recorded the following week. She is one of the most professional actresses I've ever witnessed.* While recording sounds of being attacked, she almost hyperventilated three times due to giving it all she had. Looking back there is no one that I would have rather had in the role. It saddens me that our friend has returned to Australia, but she's now on to bigger and better roles for doing so.

*Side note: She played all three witches voices in Kevin's short Hallow-Ian, his contribution to the movie Holidays.

Josh Stifter,
Self Portrait
Having the voices in the can, Stifter took the next few months nailing down the look of the animation. This was a trying time, after all, this wasn't your typical comical cartoon, this was a dark, dramatic animation. The style he eventually settled on is an amazing take on the look of the 1990's Liquid Television while adding incredibly refined texture, colors, and shading. This project is unlike any cartoon I've ever seen and I genuinely say Stifter's name in the same sentence with the greats like Bill Plympton, Don Hertzfeldt, and Mike Judge. As he started delivering me these gorgeous scenes, we began the talk about who was to do sound.

Mike Hallenbeck

As with all of the projects I've done thus far, I am a control freak. Normally I am actively involved with every single aspect of every project I do. So when Stifter suggested that Mike Hallenbeck, not I, do not only the sound-design, but the actual score to the movie, I freaked out. Being the insane asshole that I am, the concept of not having an active role in a movie after I have wrote and directed the actors is not something I'm comfortable with. However, Stifter assured me of Mike's work and I eventually relented.

I'm happy to say that Mike Hallenbeck turned in an auditory experience that I couldn't come close to approximating on my best damn day. The dude is an absolute genius with sound. Listen to the trailer. Hear the waves, the splashing, the dog, the grumbles, the little nuances in just that trailer alone are perfect. You're going to have your mind blown by what he did with the actual score, it's pure perfection.

Olivia Roush
But that's not the only people that helped make this project what it is. Much of the tension derived from the movie is largely thanks to the editing work of Jeremy Wanek. The score wouldn't be nearly the same without the lap-steel guitar of Ben Connelly and the electric guitar of Ben Glaros. Even our good friend Matt Rowbottom kicked ass as co-producer in the final stages of this project. However, as always, the biggest reason that this was made is due to the support of my amazing wife and partner Olivia Roush. If it wasn't for her, none of the projects I make from the podcast, to the shorts, to the writing, to the scripts would ever be possible.

So until film festival submission-hell ends, this is as much as I can show/tell you about our new little project. Check out the trailer below, check out Stifter's work at, hear Mike's auditory asskickery at, and watch for all things me.

Monday, July 25, 2016

An Open Birthday Card to my Cousin

My cousin's and I
I remember a cute, diapered little girl who would isolate herself in a room of photographs, just staring at pictures of her family. Anytime we would come in to talk to you, your fiendish little hands would grab ours, and escort us back out the door. Sharlene, Granny, and I would hide around the corner and marvel at the weird little psychopath who was enamored with the pictures of all of her family, yet wouldn’t walk into the next room to see them. It was pretty obvious from an early age you were either destined for great things, or would end up atop a watchtower with a rifle, wailing about the numerous sins of man. Although the winds are currently blowing the direction of the former, I still keep a wary eye for signs of mental degradation. After all, we can sense our own.

My Mother and I were so smitten by what a strange creature you were that we flew down to Florida just to hang with you. We didn’t go to Disney, Universal, or Sea World, we sat in front of your TV with you and watched Arthur for hours at a time. When we packed up to drive to Key West, we stopped after two hours and decided we didn’t want to continue unless your mother and you came with, so we parked at a strange attraction called Monkey Jungle as we waited for your Father to drop you off. We sat there for four hours in the dark, listening to the horrific sounds of monkeys either mating or killing one another until 2am just to spend an extra few days with you. When the vacation was over, we would still watch Arthur and talk about returning.

Angry from a
young age
As the years went by you slowly became more fun. You and I first smoked weed when people your age were playing with Barbie dolls. At thirteen years old, you and I were attending theatrical screenings of literary documentaries while your friends were likely watching (lame) cartoons. I vividly remember you choking on my Jack and Coke at your parents’ house in Florida when they went out on a date and if I’m not mistaken, I believe we even snuck you into your first bar at 17 years old. I won’t even go into your exploits atop the trailers in Hicksville as you ran wild with the local lesbian population while I was forced to tune out the shrieks and get some writing done. It’s been a wild, weird road we’ve shared.

Thanks to your parents I’ve had the opportunity to travel the US with you. We’ve spent time in Ohio, Florida, Washington, California, and more. Hell, after spending two weeks with each other in Hawaii, we decided that wasn’t enough and you came back to Los Angeles with me for two more. As if at that point it still wasn’t enough, I then boarded a plane with you and hung out at your house in Florida for another week. Even when you were a child I was in awe of your mind. You’ve always demonstrated an uncanny ability to cut through adult’s bullshit and have since maintained a precise radar for avoiding the idiots of this world.
Hicksville 2015

We come from hearty stock. We’ve got Ireland coursing through our hearts and brains. We’re fighters, and the only enemy that can come between us and any task in the goddamn world is ourselves. I won’t be around to see the great mark you leave upon the Earth by the time your body gives out, but I’m sure the path to it will be decorated with the mutilated corpses of your enemies. You’re destined for greatness, and if anyone speaks to the contrary, send them directly to me for a violent and speedy indoctrination.

My sister.
It’s good that you live so far away, I truly worry that if we were to live in the same city we may attempt a Coup d'état and institute a sympathy-free marshal law. You’re my family. You’re my cousin, but I feel like that isn’t a precious enough word for it. You’re my sister. I’ll always be here to bail you out. I’ll always be here to hurt boys. I’ll always be here to dig holes in the desert if hurting boys isn’t enough. You’re an old-soul who takes no prisoners. You’re a badass and even though you get really fucking annoying on occasion, I’m lucky to have you around.

Thank god I can finally stop making you fake ID's. Happy 21st birthday.

Thursday, May 26, 2016 Archives Vol 14: Piss N' Blood- Treason EP

This is the fourteenth edition of the " Archives", a collection of rare or bootleg-albums I'm releasing through this blog. Click here to view all past Archive Albums.

punk rock, josh roush
Live at the Anarchy Library
I moved to California in 2005 under the guise of attending college, while in reality, all my ambitions were pointed towards starting a Punk band. Throughout the next few years, I auditioned or even briefly joined bands such as Terezodu, The Clampdown, and too many others to count. Sometimes we didn't jive, sometimes I hated their manager, and sometimes they were apeshit crazy, but ultimately, it never worked out. Around mid-2008 I responded to a Craigslist ad from two guys named Cam Mosavian and Ron Anger. They seemed to know their stuff and had just recently acquired a drummer, Brad Hicks. I auditioned on bass for Piss N' Blood* and they loved me, so I joined. What I didn't know at that moment was that by doing so, Brad and Cam's group of friends would ultimately become my family.

*The name came from Cam and Ron watching a war documentary. A soldier said something to the tune of, "We were laying there, covered only in piss and blood."
We practiced about 2-3 times a week for months before we played our first gig at The Anarchy Library on February 21st, 2009 in Downey, CA. We must have not fucked it up too badly because we were immediately asked to play a nine show residency there from April to December. We didn't just keep to Downey though, during that time we also played places such as Chain Reaction, The Palmer Room, and Alex's Bar in Long Beach. We even played the local Hot Topic for our record release show. We were having such a good time at these shows that when we were asked to play The Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas, we said yes immediately.

anarchy library, chain reaction, double down saloon, palmer room, hot topic
Flyer Collection
If you've never been to The Double Down, it is a perfect shit-hole. No barricade, no stage, and a house drink made up of the last night's leavings entitled "Assjuice". When we arrived, drunk of course, we were greeted by the bouncer who, at 7pm was already smashing bottles against the door and screaming about something of which we eventually deemed to be racially derogatory.

We opened up for a a buddy of mine's band, Wake The Dead. When we went on and the place erupted. Not only were our friends raising hell in the pit, but for the first time so was everyone else in the venue. Brad and I, being complete deviants, were having a blast while the more professional duo of Ron and Cam were upset about getting elbowed by dozens of people during our performance. The night culminated with my jumping into the pit with my bass, still connected to my dual 4x12 cabinets, and having drinks poured down my throat. It was a moment of pure beauty I will likely never experience again.

josh roush, punk
Front cover art by Ray
About the time that we got back from Vegas was just about the time everything started to fall apart. As with every band that has ever existed, factions began to form and friendships broke down. Out of respect for my friends and former bandmates I'm not going to publicly give a play by play as to what happened. Eventually I was told the band was disbanded and about a month later I was told they got back together without inviting Brad and I. Cam and Ron continued the band for another few years, eventually releasing a full album on a label and even playing Punk Rock Bowling. One hell of an accomplishment. Cam even went on to write/record the entire score for our film The Mission (which is available as a free download here).

My time in the band was everything Punk Rock was meant to be: Fast, angry, and really fucking loud. Even at it's worst, it was one of the best experiences I've had.

About The Recording:
josh roush, punk
Back Cover
In January 2009, we entered Tru-One Studios in Anaheim, CA on a Friday and by Sunday we left not only having recorded the Treason EP, but mastered it as well. That's the charm of this recording, it was recorded fast and dirty with no time for polish. We recorded it in one take as a band and then each had about 3-4 takes to get our overdub correct for the final version. Listen to the second bass note on the song Treason. It's about a 1/4 second late. That one note is totally indicative of how fast paced this entire process was. This EP consists of two songs that Ron had written previous to the band's inception, one that he had written with Cam, and one that we came up with at practice.

Right-click, download here:
Treason-MP3 ZIP File
Treason FLAC ZIP File

The Tracklist is:
01: 24 Hour Machine
02: Rebel Radio
03: Treason
04: Old Boring Rebel
05: Piss N' Blood (Demo)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rodney Redbottom

josh roushRodney Redbottom is the first in a series of short movies I'm writing/directing titled the Benefits of a Small Town series. Believe it or not, this first chapter is based off of a very true story: Back in the day my good friend Brando inherited his Grandpa's car when he passed away. One day while driving said car he had a flat tire and as you do, he went into the trunk to pull out the spare. What he instead discovered wasn't a wheel, but tons of BDSM paraphernalia addressed to what turned out to be his Grandpa's pseudonym, Rodney Redbottom. After he begrudgingly confronted his Grandmother about the subject of Rodney, she enlightened him as to his Grandpa's more *ahem* interesting side.

It was Brando's constant drunken regaling of this story to me that struck a chord. What a wholly original and weird tale it is to discover such a thing about a patriarchal figure. Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction. So with his permission I wrote up a treatment of the project and we both sat down and wrote the script. After a few months of planning I enlisted my wife Olivia Roush to produce it, my buddy J.C. Reifenberg to shoot it, and we got to work on preproduction. We shot the movie in May 2014 over the course of a few weeks on a Canon 5Dm3 DSLR shooting RAW. My uncle William S. Abramson financed the project with the majority of the money buying me the laptop that I've used to make all of my content for the past three years.

Dylan and I at the Premiere
To star in the project we recruited a friend of mine who was collaborating with John Roecker on their debut album (which just got released) to play the young version of Charlie Thomas*. We grabbed Joe Karam to play the older version of Charlie, the ever-amazing Elaine Rinehart to play Grandma, and William Gary Penn to play Grandpa. To fill out the cast of the "play parties" we recruited all of my friends to dress in bondage and smack each other around for an afternoon. I am truly lucky to have such stupidly loyal friends. My personal favorite cast decision though is my buddy Brandon playing the younger version of his own Grandpa.

*Charlie Thomas will be the name of my first son (if I have one) due to me promising a man on his death bed I would name my first son after him at thirteen years old.

Never one to shy away from researching the actual topic that we
were committing to screen, we talked to several individuals in the BDSM community and my wife and I even visited a "play party" in an industrial section of Los Angeles. Eventually we found an amazing lady named Trea Wallis-Taylor who amazingly came out and helped us add an air of realism to the portrayal of bondage in the film. During the timelapse section of said BDSM scene we even had a buddy of mine who works at NASA come out and design a motor to move the camera in a way in which we could create a seamless shot over four decades. Yes, you read that correctly, we had a NASA engineer design a bondage shot in our short movie.

I love and am proud of this weird, strange little flick we made and I look forward to continuing this universe in other shorts, the next of which you'll see is The Mission which we're currently screening in festivals. At the end of this year we'll also be shooting the third chapter of the Benefits of a Small Town series titled Dick Burrito followed by several more in 2017.

Thank you to all my friends that helped make this happen.
Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 Archives Vol 13: Joe Strummer- The Permanent Record Outtakes

This is the thirteenth edition of the " Archives", a collection of rare bootleg-albums I'm releasing through this blog. Click here to view all past Archive Albums. If you'd like to hear more about this album, we cover it in the Slippin' Through The Tracks segment on Episode 12 of my podcast, The Soapbox Office.

Joe Strummer was many things: Rockstar. Punk Rock Warlord. Composer. Of the few films he wrote the music for, the one that has fallen through the cracks is to a movie titled Permanent Record. The reason for this is although he wrote thirteen tracks for the album, the powers that be largely hated his work and only released five of them on the official soundtrack.

Latino rockabilly riotWhen Paramount approached Joe to write the music to the movie, they screened the film privately for him at their lot. During the middle of the screening he reportedly broke down crying and immediately agreed to do it on the spot. They booked him time at The Baby O Recorders Studio and he went to work right away. Early on in the process, the studio expressed their displeasure with Strummer's work and started looking for other tracks to fill out the album. Strummer, though knocked back, continued on with the process and finished the whole of the thirteen songs intended for the movie (the film's star Keanu Reeves even guests as the rhythm guitarist for the theme song).

This being his first undertaking with a group of musicians since he left The Clash, he assembled a band to help him execute the undertaking and named them The Latino Rockabilly War. This group consisted of Zander Schloss, Joey Artuda, Willie MacNeil, and Jack Irons. This lineup changed slightly through the few years it existed, but these are the same musicians responsible for bringing about Joe's first solo album, Earthquake Weather.

latino rockabilly riot back coverThe album is raw and feels as if most tracks were captured live in the studio during one solid take. Though the album as a whole does lull at times, one has to keep in mind that much of it was designed to be an accompanying score to a film. The one track that is the absolute stand-out from the rest of this undeniably has to be the super-catchy Trash City. The lyrical style of this song was a foreshadowing of what to come with his future band The Mescaleros while the backbeat of the song is reminiscent of his past work in The Clash.

If you dig this album, buy the soundtrack as it is a much higher audio quality than these outtakes. If you are looking for more rare Joe Strummer that is actually purchasable, I would suggest looking into his first Pub-Rock band The 101'ers as it's one of the biggest unheralded masterpieces of his career.

Download Zip File Here

The tracklist is:
1:  Trash City
2:  Louisiana Turnpike
3:  Search Party
4:  Baby The Trans
5:  Plymouth Roadrunner
6:  Nefertiti Rock
7:  Outta Space
8:  Theme From 'Permanent Record'
9:  Nothin' 'bout Nothin'
10: Detour
11: Japanese Cars
12: Nameless
13: Cholo Vest

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bring Back Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Modern Culture:
We live in a world where we refuse to let our youth die. Every week there's another news story about Netflix resuscitating another fondly remembered product from our past. Sometimes it works, as I'm told is the case with Dr. Who, sometimes it's a mixed bag of both genius and low-budgeted missteps like Arrested Development, but more often than not it's Fuller House. I have no idea why the world demanded in unison that they desired more of the cheesy 90's show, but they did, they got it, and they seem to have immediately regretted it. Hell, I read even the new X-Files sucked. Next up? Returns to the universe of Coach, Twin Peaks, and Gilmore Girls. Who's to say if they will be as good as the bar our nostalgia has set for them, but I suppose we have no choice other than finding out.

However, there are some shows that seem to be in need of being brought back. The limited run of the Carl Sagan remake of Cosmos is an excellent example. It was ripe to be updated with new information and graphics and although I cannot stand the spotlight whore that is Neil Degrasse Tyson, good on him for helping make it happen. Intellectual fodder fares better with this new found phenomenon of bringing shows back from the crypt because knowledge is never passé, knowledge is only ever power. The one show that personifies that core concept better than all else is Penn & Teller's show Bullshit and it's high time it got brought back.

Bullshit tore away at popular fads and misconceptions with a blend of scientific prowess backed by cut-throat comedy that is likely to never be matched. To this day, anytime there is an argument made against vaccination, people inevitably start posting their bit demonstrating the importance of the subject by throwing balls at bowling pins. They didn't tackle subjects leaning to the left or the right, they tackled anything they viewed as a potential danger to humanity. Through their eight seasons they tore into the inaccuracies of the bible, the hypocrisy of PETA, and even the Criminal Justice System. Nothing was too precious to avoid their crosshairs and they tackled every episode with an equal amount of veracity and disdain.

The show is best summed up by a quote from Hunter S. Thompson: "Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point." Penn and Teller were biased, but they owned their bias and never attempted to cloud you with false information. Through this technique they accomplished things that modern "liberal" journalism never could. When someone is lying on camera and wholly ignoring the facts, that person is an asshole and should be labeled as such. They weren't concerned with offending people, nor did they make it their mission, they simply were fearless enough to mercilessly call out the people that were full of shit. Their cause was righteous and just and if more people practiced it, perhaps we wouldn't be looking at the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.

A Personal Note:
My Hometown
This show was and still is important. As a kid who grew up in Ohio and had a science textbook with a sticker in the inside cover stating that evolution was only one of many theories, this show changed my life. I spent most of my impressionable years being brought up in such a sheltered environment with the internet only beginning to dawn. As many children, I was heavily subject to the beliefs and viewpoints of those around me due to very little external influence. I was seventeen when this series came out (though I likely started watching it around nineteen) and was long suspect that most everyone around me was full of shit, though I had little hard evidence of such.  When you are raised with family members that are religious, believe in psychics, reiki healing, and alien abduction, it is hard for a young mind with limited resources to gather enough external information to have a well-rounded understanding of the world.

When I first caught a broadcast of Bullshit, I immediately set out to find a DVD copy and eventually did at a DVD store in Dayton. I got home, popped in the disc, and my life changed. Not only did it show me the tactics behind "clairvoyants" such as Sylvia Brown, episodes dealing with subjects such as Environmental Hysteria proved to me that regardless of a right or left viewpoint, everything in life inherently needs to be questioned and Penn and Teller aren't beyond being questioned either.

Question Everything:
As is the nature with science, our understanding of it is always changing. A few of the arguments they made along the way (such as the dangers of second hand smoke) have fallen apart with further research. Other viewpoints I just flatly disagree with (such as their constant disregard for the potential horror of global warming just for the fact that the data is not fully in). But it's amazing to watch a show that invites questioning and doesn't insist that you fully prescribe to their logic in order to enjoy it. They've long stated that if this show was brought back, they would do an episode titled "The Bullshit of Bullshit" in which they tackle their own show from a critical perspective and illustrate the times that they got it wrong. C'mon, we need that.

(Science + Stats) (Comedy + Magic) + Naked People = Gold
This show was built around a simple equation that holds up to this day. Watch episodes from Seasons 1-7 and the only argument you could make for them feeling dated is that they weren't shot in HD. Bullshit wasn't just informative, nor was it only a soapbox for the duo to bitch about the wrongdoers of the world, it was downright fucking hilarious. Penn & Teller incorporated aspects of comedy and magic simultaneously with science and statistics in order to entertain and inform. Plus, they constantly showed naked people on TV, and in all reality, who the hell doesn't want to look at naked people while gaining a greater understanding of the world around us? This show reached all demographics that were willing to question. It's the perfect recipe to enlighten intellects and entertain the populace, all while stimulating the more primitive recesses of our brain as well.

Bring Back Bullshit:
Bullshit was just released in its entirety on Amazon Prime. If you haven't watched it, do yourself a favor and view what is the most important show of all time. If you already have, do us all a favor and rewatch them on the service because Teller hinted that Amazon may be interested in commissioning a new series of episodes. If fans of fucking Full House and Beverly Hills 90210 get to have their mindless entertainment back, then let's fight to see something of significant importance back on television.

This show has been responsible for so many people in the world pulling their head out of their own ass and applying critical thinking to every aspect of their life. I should know, I'm one of them. Do us all a favor and watch the series again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Voting for Sanders Isn't Enough. We Need Trump.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, we all hate him. Hell, I suspect even his constituency hates him. But for just a few moments I want you to entertain the notion with an open mind. As a country we've tried to abolish poverty, racism, and sexism through legislation, education, and dialogue. While we have indeed made some meager strides toward these goals, they've been largely ineffective. It's been an estimated one-thousand, nine-hundred and eighty three years since the death of a man who espoused such radical notions as feeding those who cannot feed themselves, loving one another, and forgiving each other’s transgressions. That's an estimated 66 generations that have handed down this man's teachings to a world that is populated by 32% of his followers and yet, this country has only recently given homosexuals the same rights as straight people.

The people who are voting for Bernie Sanders are well-intentioned, but it's not enough. It's time to choose the nuclear option. In order to inspire the amount of disdain, anger, and violence that it takes to produce a true revolution, we need to elect Donald Trump.

Failed Revolutions
Before you overreact, think back to the 1960's. Revolution was inevitable. The Black Panthers and the Hippies and The Weather Underground were on a course to change the planet. Whether or not that was for the better is of course debatable, but all of those failed for the same reason: Tiny Victories. A tiny victory is allowing Blacks to have equal rights while over 60% of the population incarcerated are Black. A tiny victory is allowing women the right to vote while keeping their wages 21% lower than males. A tiny victory is giving Americans the promise of free health care, while instituting a complex system that financially penalizes them for not purchasing it. These tiny victories have been just enough to appease the populace and keep revolution at bay.

The world has always had an undercurrent of racism and sexism in our populace that inevitably re-emerges when a leader such as this rears its ugly head from the cesspool of human-indecency. Our only chance at cleansing this mark against humanity is to clearly identify the enemy by putting them into absolute power so that they may be violently overthrown. It's time that we stop thinking about our own well-being and resign ourselves to losing a battle in an effort to win the war. We need to subject our children to absolute hell. Like a spur to a horse, let us provoke a new generation with a leader and a constituency that is openly sexist, racist, and homophobic. Let us finally do away with gently teaching the upcoming class of young men and women to be good to one another through gentleness and love. Let us reintroduce the rod to show our children the horrors of this world so that they will be forced to fix it themselves.

Nixon Clash Joe Strummer Umberto D Margret Thatcher
Exceptional art comes from
exceptional times
If one needs proof that having a tyrant in charge of the country inspires the best that humanity is capable of, simply look to the arts. While the vile creature that was President Nixon was in power we were gifted with songs such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Ohio. As a response to the overlord that was Margret Thatcher, we received the gift that was The Clash. But it's not just music, Italy's world-war torn economy led to the birth of the Italian Neorealism Movement which focused on the glum, meaninglessness of life in such beautiful films as Umberto D. Hell, even before modern media the Dadaism Movement sprang forth in the early twentieth century as a response to the First World War. Give humans tiny victories and they remain complacent. Give them a tyrannical force of oppression and hurt them during hard times and that's when you see the true mettle of man, the product of which will inspire generations to come.

From Far Wreck Chords
Like many of us, I had the horrendous honor of growing up under the power that was the George W. Bush Regime. As he invaded a country under false-pretenses while using fabricated evidence, I got to watch the biggest powers of Rock N' Roll and Punk Rock come together in the unified spirit of waking up the youth. Unfortunately, as is their habit, the youth chose to remain dormant. The reason for this is that George W. was passively evil, not actively. The poor sap was little more than a marionette controlled by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Chaney, and Karl Rove and thus, not truly repugnant enough to inspire change. This is where Trump oozily outshines his competition, he represents the worst of the bottom of the barrel, and as Mark Twain once said. "If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times."

Trump will inspire the change this country yearns for while triggering the type of change this country needs. They will get the chance to spit their rhetoric about keeping Muslim's out of the country while we read books to our children about how our land was once a home offered to refugees. They will eliminate half of their army by kicking out gay's and women as we recruit from their castaways. They will bask in their entitled white-heterosexual-male excess like the Roman Orgies of old while we teach our children the guerilla tactics of Che Guevara. Hitler came to power under the popular misconception that the Jewish people were to blame for their problems. If our country wishes to be ruled by a man who blanketly blames Muslims for the threat of terrorism and Mexican's for a lack of jobs, then by god let America grow fat on a third helping of desert while we gruelingly train for battle.

Trump in 2016
If a large population in our country is prepared to run Donald Trump for President of the United States, then we need him to become the President of the United States. If the Republican Party no longer represents small-government and fiscal conservatism, then let it stand for blinding hatred and let us wholly embrace them for it. If this is indeed the way that the nation is swaying, then let us do away with tiny victories and let them have this one for once. Let us all stand back and watch the country fall so that we might one day actually reclaim it from the people that seek to destroy it.

Voting in Bernie Sanders would be just another Tiny Victory that we don't need.

We need a hard loss.
Vote for Donald Trump.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The SoapBox Office Podcast

Tusk One Sheet
I first met my buddy Mitch Cleaver on the set of Kevin Smith's film Tusk. We were the two assholes that volunteered to fly ourselves to North Carolina in order to work on the film for free because we just wanted to be part of something cool. Almost immediately we both forged a friendship over a mutually extensive knowledge of films, music and comics. That worked out well because as it turned out, we were to be roomates with each other for the entire eight week shoot. During that time we'd wake up at 6am, visit Waffle House, go to set, work until the last person broke, steal boxes of cereal from crafty for dinner, go to bed watching Jim Jarmusch flicks, then wake up to do it all over again. Spend that much time alone with a man and you will either grow to love him or fucking despise him. Lucky for the bastard, it was the former.

Mitch is one of the good ones. One of the dependable ones, and there ain't many out there, trust me. He does things for the same reason I do: Because why the hell not. Life is stupid and life is shitty and as long as you're ok with that concept, then why not suffer to make some cool shit? We're like-minded in that sense, and it doesn't matter what the project is, if one of our friends is involved, we'll break our backs to help, even as a PA.

The Mission
Last year I was all set to shoot my short The Mission and the DP had to back out. I was fucked. At that time Mitch was based out of New Jersey so calling him with a weeks notice was beyond a long-shot. I phoned him from the office of my old bosses house and told him how incredibly and royally screwed I was. His response? "Yeah, I'll be out in two days". He came out, we studied and worked with the Ronin Stabilizer for four days leading up to the shoot, and we shot it. The entire time he stayed on a futon bed in the same small 10x12 room that my wife and I both inhabited.

For years, a multitude of friends have asked me to start a Podcast. For one reason or another, things just never worked out. Sometimes people would get lazy (mostly me), sometimes things were on too grand of a scale, but mostly, there was just never a fully-formed concept. Well after months of badgering I finally convinced Mitch to move out to Los Angeles and I used the concept of the podcast to lure him. Is it the reason he came? Not at all, but I knew it would sweeten the pot. However, now that he is out here, I'm stuck in the unfortunate predicament of actually having to follow through with this promise. Even worse, I have to listen to myself talk on recordings.

Back in those days in the hotel he had mentioned the podcast he was working on, it was titled "The Soapbox Office", a pretty genius title I do have to admit. He had already secured all of the major social media handles with the name, but didn't have a concept yet. Lucky for me, he never found one until he moved to Hollywood, makes my life a little bit easier.

So here we are, having just recorded/edited the first episode. The root of the concept we've came up with is deconstructing movies we feel have been too built up over the years (not movies we hate, just ones we feel are overrated). But you can't do a podcast based only on beating up on something, that's just cruel. So in the place of the movie we deconstruct, we offer up a little known gem that we feel is overlooked and deserves a bit of the attention. Also we're treading into the hotly debated notion of Torrents and the positive benefit that they also serve beyond simply taking money away from artists.

Episode 1
So here goes folks. Give it a listen, or don't actually. That's kind of the beauty of this little project. We talk like this every time we hang out, we just happened to put a little production effort into it as well. We hope you like it, sincerely we do, but it's just one of those things that we're gonna do regardless.

The Soapbox Office

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 5: William S. Burroughs- The Junky's Christmas

Old Bull Lee
William S. Burroughs:
There are only a few select writers on the planet that I would rather listen to than read, and William S. Burroughs is among that group. Even though you unmistakably hear his voice when you're reading, there's something magical about the old man's flat tone and creaking, crotchety voice that adds a layer of ambiance that augments his written word so perfectly. Though his voice did age like a fine whiskey, he was born an old soul who Kerouac described as "...a gray, nondescript-looking fellow you wouldn't notice on the street unless you looked closer and saw his mad, bony skull..." Burroughs was only 43 years old when that description of him was published in 1957's On The Road.

Spare Ass Annie
The best capture (or at least my favorite) of his unmistakable voice was on the 1993 album, Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. On it, he recorded many of his short stories from miscellaneous books through the years put to a backing tracks by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. One of the most notable of these tracks was "The Junky's Christmas", a short story from his 1989 book Interzone. The story is all about a junky named Danny who is released from jail on Christmas day and is attempting to find his fix. After searching the entire city, he dupes a doctor and gets a small dose via a pill. As he returns to a hotel to shoot up, he instead discovers a kid going through kidney stones in agony and shoots him up instead. It's a beautifully twisted little story about choosing humanity over your own addictions.

Junky's Christmas Short Film:
The story combined with music and Burroughs' amazing narration was so brilliant in fact that Zoetrope Pictures (Francis Ford Coppola's company) and VH1 teamed up to turn it into a narrative, short film. The film was done as claymation with live action bookends where Burroughs pulls Interzone off the shelf and effectively reads you the tale on Christmas day with his friends and family. It was aired on VH1 (presumably as part of a Christmas lineup) and was eventually released via Koch Vision in 2006 on a long out-of-print DVD.

The problem with the DVD release is that it sucks. The claymation footage is presented as interlaced and in the wrong aspect ratio. This is unfortunately a normal result of mixed media presentations on DVD. It's hard to say exactly who's fault this is, but generally it results when the disc image is being designed immediately before being delivered to the factory. Additionally there are sections where Danny's collar has a moire effect going on due to the crosshatching on his coat. This is more than likely accentuated due to the project being edited on tape rather than on film.

This Release:
RestoredSo in order to fix this, I downloaded an ISO, disc-image capture of the film from the ever-amazing Uncle Jerk (who's post about this movie is the reason I'm writing this blog, thanks Jerk!). I popped it into Premiere CC, upscaled it and cut the movie apart from it's live action bits. I deinterlaced the claymation, stretched it out from its wrong aspect ratio into the correct 4:3 dimension. To remove the moire effect I desaturated all sections of the movie that didn't have color, and I snapped the blacks to a reasonable number in order to remove some of the DVD's digital artifacts. This is likely the best version that will ever be made available unless the original authors return to the original tape captures of the material.

*If you have a keen eye, you may notice that the claymation footage still has ghosting (blended frames) but after experimenting with several different frame rates to attempt to solve the problem, I consulted my friend Ian about it. After reviewing the credits at the end (which will show you if the image is skipping, repeating, or blending frames), it is undeniable that this project was created with them as either purposeful, or that they are baked in and cannot be removed without very tedious work.

Final Thought:
Amazing Claymation Work
If you dig this little gem, go and buy the album "Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales" because it's pure gold. Also, if you dug this (I don't know how widely available it is for purchase), grab Burroughs' audio-book of "Junky", you won't regret it. The point is, this isn't meant to compete with being able to purchase an artist's work, merely to make available things that are rare or out-of-print that should be experienced by anyone that loves his work. Either stream it from YouTube, or download it at the link provided below in h265 (be sure to be running the latest version of a decent player like VLC).

So here you go, one of the best holiday specials ever made for those of us a little off that beaten path. Enjoy!

h265 link (Right Click, Save As)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Free Download of To No End's Music Video "Twisted Knives" in 4k

Michael Parks
Playing Under Projection
My buddy Nick Dellaposta and I go back, way back. Matter of fact we were in our first band together, *Adorn. Before the dawn of the internet, you either had to sink money into a proper 4-track recording system, or you had to get inventive... we chose the latter. Desperate to record, I discovered that if I cut apart my guitar cable and twisted the ends together with an RCA cable that I was able to record the instrument with my mothers Aiwa cassette deck. Moreover, if I did this while "dubbing" a previously recorded cassette, I could effectively create a makeshift multi-track recording. About three times a week Nick would make the three mile walk to my house and we would record demos together into the homemade system. I cannot overly-express the genuine happiness that arises in me by bragging that despite two thousand, one hundred and eighty miles between us and fifteen years having passed, we're still collaborating on art with one another.

*I use the term band loosely as we never played a single show... or even had a drummer.

Nick Dellaposta and Josh Roush
Nick and I
About a year ago I got a drunken text message from Nick as I was watching a movie. I ignored it and several thereafter, but upon my phone beeping for the 6th time I read it. He had just written a new song and wanted me to listen to it. Fine. I walked into the kitchen and listened to the song he had just recorded directly into his phone. There is no other way to put it, I cried. My longtime friend had written a song about my life and the craziness I have been through and it moved me to no end. Flash forward to a year later and Nick again hit me up. This time it was to direct the music video for the song based on my life. At first I laughed, after all, the idea of someone directing a song about themselves is pretty far up it's own ass, but after some thought, I agreed on one condition: We had to kill the main character in the music video. We all die, but how many of us have had the chance to direct our own death? When Nick asked who we could get to play such a role, I immediately thought of my good friend, Michael Parks.

Michael Parks Josh Roush Nick Dellaposta
Nick, Parks, and I.
I first met Michael Parks (from Kill Bill, Dusk Till Dawn, Then Came Bronson, etc) during the shooting of Kevin Smith's film Tusk. After a few days on set, it became evident that Parks needed an assistant to help him on set with mundane tasks and Kevin assigned me to be that person. Believe it or not, the first few interactions between the green-haired punk-rocker and the grumpy old man were a bit awkward. However, over the course of a few days we discovered a mutual admiration of cinema and music and formed a kinship that continues to this day.

Matt Rowbottom
Matt's account of the music
video is great.
So with the concept and the talent taken care of, I needed a crew. I'm lucky enough in this life to have a group of insanely talented folks in the same industry who all share common interests, thus I hit up my friends Andrew Heaberlin and Matt Rowbottom. Andrew is a badass cinematographer from Kentucky who has done everything from his own short-film Let It Be War to being an Executive-Producer on Yoga Hosers. Matt on the other hand is the behind-the-scenes producing talent who just finished his new project Going Dark: A Sith Story, starring Darren Hayes and Tim Stanton (from the He Said, He Said Podcast) . My wife agreed to assistant-direct (shes a saint for dealing with me on set) and with the essential building blocks in place, the rest was just a matter of "getting the band back together" as the kids say. I called up my friends J.C, Erik, Mitch, Joey, Shaun, and Cam and we were off to the races.

I cannot thank all of my amazing friends enough for all they have done for me and my stupid projects. I would fight and die for each of them.

Andrew Heaberlin
Andrew Shooting Babies
We shot and edited the project in 4k, but the problem with the newly budding format is that there is next to no downloadable content for it. The long term solution to this seems to be highly effective encoding codecs like h265,which gives you ample quality with very small format size. The only issue with these is that it takes an incredible amount of processing power and a very good video card to reap the benefits of it, otherwise you're just staring at moving macro-blocks.

So here's our little contribution to the world of 4k, on the provided link below you can either download the highly efficient 4k, h265 video via my website (I suggest playing it in VLC), or if you follow the Vimeo link and click download, it will provide you with the 4k, h264 (easier on your computer to process, but larger filesize) download for free. It also provides you with 1080p, 2k, and other formats as well.

H265 (Right-Click, Save As)

Twisted Knives (Official Music Video) - TO NO END - 4k Resolution