Just One More Book: My Review

Thanks to a tip and inspiration from Susan, I submitted a podcast review of a Chris Van Allsburg picture book to a site called Just One More Book that you just have to add into your RSS feeds if you enjoy the world of picture books.


Susan had done a review of a book called The Goats in the Rug and her efforts showed me the way to the site, and I figured that I should share this book, too.

The picture book that I chose is called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and it is a great resource for writing prompts with my sixth graders. You will have to listen to my podcast review to understand why I like it so much as a source for reading and writing.

Peace (in pictures and podcasts),

PS — Oh, here is my podcast review from Just One More Book.

Dogtrax Audiocast: The Roadbowlers

For a number of years (in the1990’s), I fronted a band called The Roadbowlers with some good friends — Chris and Susannah — and we played mostly in bedrooms, for an audience of only ourselves. We had a few gigs here and there, but the music we created was mostly just for the three of us.


I continue with my Dogtrax Audiocasts with a look at The Roadbowlers.

Listen to my audiocast: The Roadbowlers

As a special bonus, I created another Thelonius (claymation) movie in which the little dude investigates just what the heck a roadbowl is.


Peace (with bowling on the road),

PS — Here is the Wikipedia entry on Roadbowling for all you non-believers.




AudioBook Project: Lost Songs of Paradise, Vol. 1

As I have been listening to some audiobooks with my children lately, I have been wondering how it would be to create an audiobook of my own via podcasting. So, as with other ventures on this Weblog site, I figured I might as well try it.

So here goes: This is the first installment of my book called Lost Songs of Paradise: Tales from Mac’s Music Shack. The story revolves around music (a common theme of my writing) and uses classic English Literature as the organizing structure behind the stories. I’ll post a reflection on the experience of creating this audiobook at another time.

Meanwhile, my dog Bella will serve as the virtual narrator of this book. (woof)


Listen to the Introductory chapter of Lost Songs of Paradise or you can read along with my audio by using the Story file I have started here.  Introduction

As I go through this project, I am keeping in the back of my mind that this is something I want my sixth grade writers to experience. Thus, it is more than personal here, although self-publishing this way is certainly a motivation for me, too.




Dogtrax Audiocast: Writing the Score

Way back in college, I studied some basic music theory and then quickly forgot most of what I learned. So much for proper education. But years later, my dad (who is a drummer and drum teacher) showed me a music composition software that he was using to design drum lessons and he thought I might be interested.

So I tinkered with it and began writing some music that was very different from other things that I was doing. With the software, I could not only layer parts but I could write everything out note-for-note and then listen to it as if a small ensemble was playing for me. All that music theory suddenly came into use. Recently, I finally got around to converting some of those songs from MIDI files to MP3, and so here is the next installment of my Dogtrax Audiocast series.

microphone Listen to Dogtrax Audiocast: Writing the Score

(A future installment will center on a few pieces that I wrote for our family’s church choir and organ, with sax and guitar as accompaniment).


Composing Music

In the interests of more experimentation, I am posting a song that I composed on software called Scorewriter, which I first exported into a MIDI file, and then converted into an MP3 file (nothing is easy and everything takes a few steps but the process is a learning adventure). This particular song called The Door to Five-Four was written in 5/4 time, which is tricky to pull off (the most famous being Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond’s jazz classic Take Five), and I am not quite satisfied with the voicings of the three parts (and the fact that Scorewriter’s internal voices are merely adequate — it is a tool for writing compositions more than listening to compositions).
I plan on doing a future Dogtrax Audiocast on my Scorewriter compositions.

microphone Listen to The Door to Five-Four

I also realized that I could create a PDF file of the actual composition (in case you want to play it at home for yourself — laugh-laugh)

Here is the actual written musical composition


Dogtrax Audiocasts: Rough Draft

This is the the third in a series of audiocasts that I am experimenting with through this Weblog site, which has really become a mishmash of my thoughts on education, music, personal writing, and my work with the National Writing Project. I hope anyone who reads my site doesn’t feel the lack of focus is frustrating.

This audiocast features the archived music of a band that I was in during my college years at Eastern Connecticut State University in Connecticut. ECSU is in the shadow of the University of Connecticut, and is situated only a few miles away from UConn.

Our band, Rough Draft, was composed of myself and some close friends — Johnny D. on guitar and Alex D. on bass — and a drummer (Josh) who never watched the rest of the band when he played, but still did an OK job (it wasn’t easy to find a drummer in those days). We played parties, and some bars, and just got together to make a lot of noise and have fun.

The songs from this audiocast were from a short television show we did for the local cable company and are all songs that I wrote for the band.

microphone Listen to Dogtrax Audiocast Episode Two: Rough Draft


Dogtrax Audiocasts: A Musical Exploration


I have been writing songs on and off for the past 20 years with a variety of bands and throughout that time, I have often turned on a tape machine or recorder and tried to capture the songs in some fashion or another. The advent of easy-to-use coversion technology has allowed me to convert many of those analog files into mp3s and there they have sat, collecting dust in folders.
The idea of audiocasts has intrigued me for some time now and I figured this weblog was as good a space as any to begin creating a series of audiocasts that track some of my songs over the years. So when a friend of mine recently asked me to share some of the songs, I figured now was the time to give it a try. (It is possible they may retract that request upon listening to what I have to offer, but … too late now.)
And so, I begin my journey with this first audiocast, which is a bit embarrassing to release since it features some of the earliest songs I ever wrote and recorded. It was in 1985 and I had just picked up the guitar and didn’t know what I was doing. Not that this stopped me, however.
Thanks for listening (in advance)

microphone Listen to the Dogtrax Audiocast: The Wicked Early Years

Also, this is a running archive of the audiocasts I am creating (so far, only one other file is out there but more are on the way — next up: The Rough Draft Revolution):


Dogtrax Podcast: The Note Who Got Lost

This is a new direction for me — creating podcasts that will center on some of my own music and compositions. I am experimenting with OurMedia as the site for hosting the audio files and I finally worked out most of the kinks of the system.
This first edition features the musical play The Note Who Got Lost in the Masterpiece production. The play was produced this summer by Multi-Arts of Amherst and the young performers did a magnificent job. (You can also read my reflection of the experience of watching my play on stage from an earlier post).

microphone Listen to the Dogtrax Podcast: The Note Who Got Lost in the Masterpiece.

Thanks for listening.