Friday, September 18, 2020

My first EP is now on Bandcamp!

About a year and a half ago I was in my buddy Joe's recording studio, laying down tracks for a Bob Dylan parody song I'd written about a dead raccoon. I made some comment about it being a silly song and me not being a "real musician" like Joe (who scored my first feature film, and has been nominated for an Emmy for his work, for cripes sake), and Joe basically said, "Let me stop you right there. You're writing songs, you're a musician, period. End of story."

I went home.

I thought about it.

Like every other art form I've ever attempted, I thought of music as a magical power possessed only by those who'd taken possession of some magical artifact they found in some mysterious cave. 

But Joe, who is most definitely a real musician, was telling me my idea was bunkum.

I wrote a fully original song. I played it for Joe. He liked it. I kept writing. 

Last Sunday I went back into Joe's studio, turned on Facebook Live, and recorded my very first EP, "under our own piece of sky." And now, five days later, it's on bandcamp - with an original cover designed and executed by the illimitable James Alfred Friesen, who had suggested the album title (which was then chosen by audience poll in a FB livestream the week before).

I'm beyond flabbergasted at the support that Joe, James, and so many friends have given me with this project. My hope/dream/fantasy is that enough people will dig the vibe that I'll one day be able to gather the resources (and my various genius-level musician friends) for a full, studio album.

Thanks for checking out "under our own piece of sky," and if you dig it... please share the love! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Saint... Who?

I traded a painting for a baby.

The less illegal version of that sentence is that I partially paid our midwife's services with a work-for-trade portrait of her husband, who I incorporated into Ghirlandaio's 1480 fresco of Saint Jerome in His Study. Part of that incorporation involved adding elements that would be meaningful to the recipient... like his favorite guitar, sheet music for a Johnny Cash songthat sort of thing.

While I've got some anxiety about jumping back into something quite this elaborate, for the right project and the right price... who knows?

Reach out if you're interested!


Friday, July 31, 2020

why DARK is the best television you'll ever see shut up I know BREAKING BAD just got voted best and sure it's great but DARK is better so just go watch it already

This first bit is the SPOILER-ALERT-filler so that those of you who haven't yet watched the show don't accidentally see something that'll diminish your experience and make me guilty of a crime against humanity. 

So to get us below the fold, I'll start off by admonishing you to watch DARK in the original German, with subtitles. I know the dubbed English version (which for some insane reason is the default on Netflix USA) seems like it would be easier to watch, but in this case easier is definitely not better. No offense to the actors who worked on the overdub, but just... no. 

Now go. 

Go watch all three seasons of the best television you'll (probably) ever see and then come back here so I can tell you the definitive answer to the question you'll definitely be asking yourself every moment of the way and also when you're through: 

What. The. Hell?

Friday, July 3, 2020

My Novel POUNDERS is Now an Audiobook!

Did you know that the world record for most trees planted in a day by one person is over fifteen thousand???!!!

I spent ten years hand-planting over half a million trees in Northern British Columbia and Alberta in every kind of weather and on every kind of terrain, all so I could write a novel about a pair of brothers who venture into the wilderness of northern Canada for what the BBC has called one of the toughest jobs on the planet. Now you can sit back in the climate-controlled, bug-free environment of your choice and listen as I mellifluously read that novel to you in my mellifluous, treeplanter-y voice.

And here's my honey-roasted voice, reading the first wee chapter:

- - -

post script: they say it'll be on itunes here in the next few days. But as I don't itune, so I'll have to take their word for it. If they were lying, let me know.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

this is YOUR fault

After I posted my (thus far) one hundred percent accurate prophecy of what the next few years will hold for the people of this planet (with some variance for personal taste), someone asked me on The Facebooks what we're supposed to do about our impending doom.

Like any good modern-day prophet, I evaded the question. 

But as I can't in good conscience leave the dozens of readers of this blog hanging (hi, mom!), I will now tell you how our current predicament is your fault, and what you would need to do if you wanted to correct it.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

In Case You're Wondering What Happens Next...

Unless you've been vacationing on North Sentinel Island for the past few months (you haven't), then you've probably heard that a lot of celebrities are losing their minds and posting stuff  on social media that they might later regret.

Also, there's a virus called COVID-19.

It's possible this has made you feel a bit more anxious than usual. I mean, if celebrities can't be counted on to remain cool-headed in a crisis, then who?!?

Well, my anxious American friends, you can set all that aside because I am here to tell you exactly what comes next. What's more, I'm going to give you both a best and worst case scenario to choose fromso you can just do what you always do and choose what you want to believe, facts be danged.

Are you ready? Let's go...

Friday, March 6, 2020

ABDUCTED goes to Tribeca Film Festival!

Around six years ago Ben Joyner came to me with an idea for a short film. I wrote it. Rewrote it a million more times. Shot some fundraising stuff with some actors. Watched it fall apart. Applied for an IndieGrants production grant. Got the grant! Re-Cast! Shot it! Post-productioned the heck out of it! And now, Coronavirus-Permitting, ABDUCTED will be playing at Tribeca 2020!

No movie every happens without a ton of work from a ton of people, and even a short little film like ours takes way more effort than anyone who hasn't done it can imagine.

Way too many people helped out to mention, but aside from the well deserved topline credit owed to Ben, Tucker MacDonald deserves huge props for his Cinematography; Brad Jayne at IndieGrants has been fantastic all the way through, Jacob Kirby did an amazing job on the edit; and of course our cast brought it completely to life. They are: Jenna Kanell, Jesse C. Boyd, Jay DeVon Johnson, and Rebecca Koon.

I'm super-proud of the result of everybody's hard work and excited to be attending the first two screenings (April 17th & April 22nd) in New York City. If you're around town and we're not all dead of a pandemic by then, please drop by and say howdy!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Scraps and Techniques

After a painstaking six months spent (slowly) completing the most complex painting commission I've ever attempted, this past week I delivered it to its new owner. As the painting is a portrait of the client's husband, not sure I'll ever be able to share it on here... however, this is the small canvas I kept on hand to use up leftover paint and try out some techniques. Enjoy...

Friday, February 14, 2020

More Romanticalness

Valentines Day again! Which means it's time for my annual tradition of posting the most romantic poem ever, which I composed for my incredibly amazing and thankfully un-romantic wife from the first lines of thirty of the (apparently) most romantic poems ever written in the English language.


- - -

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Fear & Love & Me

When he was in his early twenties, Diego Velazquezwho is now in all the Art History books—painted a masterpiece called "The Waterseller of Seville." And in my early(ish) twenties I painted a (modified) copy of it that wasn't half bad.

How the heck did I even do that?

Was it magic?

I mean, sure, there are a ton of painters out there who are way better than me, but I was just some kid from the jungle with basically zero early formal art training, who minored in Art at a college that didn't even have an Art major. 

My teacher, who was an accomplished visual artist in her own right and had a Master's degree in the education of gifted students, took me aside one day and said, "Josh, I'm only going to tell you this once, but you're better at this than the other students so I'm going grade you harder and push you harder than I do them. Because I think if you wanted to, you could probably make a living as a visual artist."

So what do you think I did?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

One Decade, Seven Hundred and Seventy movies

My wife and I had a new baby in February of this year, which made it impossible for me to complete my usual task of watching all the movies; or at least enough that I can feel good about unequivocally recommending ten of them. 

Behold, a Child!

I did watch a few I really liked this year, though. Here they are, in alphabetical order...

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"We Have Lived by the Assumption"

Maybe I'm a Wendell Berry Fangirl.

Or maybe the world is just becoming increasingly stuck in a moment that needs what Wendell Berry has to offer.

Or maybe it's just because a former student wrote me this past week to say he'd been reading through a collection of Wendell Berry essays, and he wanted to thank me for connecting him with the man. 

Whatever the case, here's another bit of Wendell Berry:

"We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world - to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it. And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error has become clear. It is not only our own creativity - our own capacity for life - that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled. 
We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it." 

From his essay, A Native Hill

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

an endless green monument

One Sunday
I sat at
Wendell Berry's
at Tanya Berry's
at the Berrys' kitchen table.

We drank their water
from their cups:

The Berrys,
and my fiancée

(not mine yet, not exactly--
not like those cups were theirs--
but almost.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

I'm Having Wendell Berry's Dream

I keep coming back to Wendell Berry's poems, and I don't think it's just because I have a book full of them in my bathroom.

After all, there's an extensive library in the ol' Barkey Throne Room, and unlike Berry's poetry, a lot of the books have pretty pictureswhich make for easy reading as I'm completing my digestive process.

And yet...

I find myself endlessly re-reading Berry's poem The Dream, and I think it's because in it he brilliantly calls out both the Big Problem, as well as the reason any solution is bound to sputter.

Check it out...

Support my writing habit: click below to...