Mini-Movie Premiere: Escape of the Furious Three

Making Robbers on Loose 2 collage

My youngest son, age 10, wrote and directed and edited this short movie. We shot it during winter (I was cameraman) and then hemmed and hawed on the editing (we needed to shoot one last scene and never did) until recently, when I turned my computer and iMovie over to him and he did the editing. I only helped here and there and mostly, I just let him alone to edit the movie as he saw it (working around the missing scene).

The only thing I changed from the original edit is the soundtrack. He had some copyright music from his iTunes collection that I would not allow to be included in public sharing, so we composed some original music in the Garageband iPad app and used that. We’ve had lots of conversations about fair use and copyright and he is tired now of m mantra of “make your own stuff as much possible.” We kept his original edit for home use and DVD burning.

This is actually the second movie in a series that began with Robbers on the Loose. He writes the scripts on Google Docs, asking for input from neighborhood friends. Most involve chase scenes and nerf guns. He’s a ten year old boy who loves Mission Impossible.

Can you tell?

Peace (with popcorn),

PS — here is the original movie from 2012: Robbers on the Loose.


Which Modality? Making Music

Interesting question … and it feels like the 140 character limit on Twitter just won’t cut it. Or, it will cut it too short to respond with depth. Yin-Wah, if I think of which modality I most like to create in, it has to be songwriting. I do love the other kinds of creating — making comics, writing stories, remixing media. But there’s something about working on a song and music that pulls me in deeper than all of the others that I dabble in.

And I am not ever claiming that I am some professional songwriter, or ever will be, nor do I think that the songs I write will become the soundtrack of the world. It’s a personal thing, this songwriting that I do, although some songs do become used in the band I am in, Duke Rushmore. As I was writing this, I remembered once writing a post (I see, from 2009) entitled Why I Write Songs.

Just this week, I was working on a new song, perhaps for the band, and in a break in the writing (and even in breaks, my brain keeps working on lyrics and rhythm and parts …. when writing songs, I can’t turn it off), I found myself writing a second song. It emerged from an old scrap of a guitar riff, and then the first line came, and I found myself writing very quickly, this song of losing a friend, and in little time at all, I had the structure and the first verse and the chorus.

It’s odd how sometimes the writing flows like that, something coming out of nothing and utterly unexpected, Yin-Wah. So, for a few days, I found myself toggling between two new songs. For me, if I don’t play the song over and over, and over and over, I lose the nuance of it. I have to practice it into the ground (my poor family) to understand what the song is, and what the song is about. My fingers ache, Yin-Wah, from playing guitar so much this week.

But I can look at what I wrote, and hear it as I play it, and know: this is something worth keeping. That might mean just stuffing it away into my guitar case, or it might mean sharing it with my bandmates. I’m still unsure. Last month, I dug out a song that I write five years ago and never shared, and showed it to the band, and now we are working on it. You just never know. Songs are like messages in a bottle. The bobble on the surf of the mind.

Maybe you want to hear the demo of the song I have been writing about?

First, here is my lyric sheet. You probably can’t read much of it, Yin-Wah. I’m a word scratcher. But you can see the general ideas I was developing, the ways I identified rhyming and verses and choruses, and how one word gets changed, erased, changed again, returned to the original, changed again. I revise more with songs than I do with other writing. I admit it: I am terrible reviser. But with songwriting, every word is a rhythm, and every beat is important.

Come in close lyric sheet

Here is a demo I recorded quickly yesterday. I hear the flubs. You may not.

Thank you for asking me about my writing. This is probably more than you expected, but in answering your Tweet, you gave me an excuse to be reflective. That’s a gift in and of itself.

Peace (in the muse you find),

Why I support Good Guy with a Gun

I only periodically contribute to Kickstarter campaigns but I was happy to become a small supporter for a documentary film, Good Guy with a Gun, that will explore the tension of arming teachers in schools with guns. If that sentence has you thinking — What? — then you and I are thinking the same thing. What?

My reasons for backing this documentary film are:

  • what the heck is wrong with our country that we are even thinking about bringing guns into schools on purpose?
  • my neighbor and friend, a documentary filmmaker who has done wonderful work, is one of the producers of this independent film.

I’m actually a little uncomfortable even thinking of what they are going to discover in their inquiry about the move to arm teachers with guns — just the shots of teachers at firing ranges as part of some professional development makes me squirm — and in some locations, those guns can be hidden away by school staff as part of policy. Maybe it is some East Coast, liberal bias kicking in, but this all seems like a reaction too far. I think we must be going crazy.

So, yeah, I am supporting Good Guy with a Gun, and I was happy to see they just received enough funding support from crowdsourcing on Kickstarter to get the production of the documentary up and running, with a possible release this coming fall. I’ll let you all know.

Good luck, Kate and Julie.

Peace (please),

Transformed into a Robot

My youngest son has a sketchbook where he is creating a whole menagerie of robot designs. He showed he this one recently: The Daddy-o-Tron. I feel honored to have been made robotic. Notice how he gave me a side-kick robot — the Book-o-Tron.

Daddy-o-Tron Robot

Peace (with them ears),

Zeega Music Demo: I Fall Apart

This demo song is one I wrote quite a long time ago, and only recently pulled it back onto my guitar. It was first written in the aftermath of the devastating Haiti Earthquake. I tinkered a bit more with it in the last few days, adding a new section, and then recorded this as a spare song. Don’t worry — it’s thankfully not about me. I am happy. I am fine. The narrator of the song is not. (I always feel the need to write that for these kinds of songs.)

I am still making with Zeega until the doors close …

Peace (in the fall and recovery),

Hey Terry, It’s Your Birthday

Nothing like some collaborative energy to celebrate a friend, and that’s what Maha, Simon and Susan and I have been up behind the scenes for our friend, Terry, whose birthday is today. We recorded a song, and then some thoughts — all via on online collaborative audio tool called Soundtrap (I’ll share out more about it later).

For now … Hey Terry, It’s Your Birthday!

And here is a bonus that I made for him, too. A comic series about our journey into the rabbit holes of technology.

Peace (in friendship),

Put the Message of 2014 in a Box

Message in the box

I was inspired by my friend, Terry, to create a podcast as we ring out 2014. He talks in a post of his the other day about the power of podcasting, and the improvements podcasting needs to stay pertinent in the blogging world, and then pledges to do more podcasting himself. He and I, and others, have talked about the power of voice, and how podcasting brings voice to the front and center, and yet, how many of us don’t do it.

So, here is a podcast to ring out 2014.


Let me say for the record: This podcast is a second, edited attempt at this podcast. I actually had one all planned out, all recorded and even ready to be shared. I had layered my message perfectly on top of a song by World Party, my words sifting in and out of the song. I spent quite a bit of time on the recording, and I thought it worked nicely.

But then … the internal copyright infringement police walked into my brain and asked: Can you do that? Can you use someone else’s full song for your podcast that you want to publish to the world? I asked for advice on Twitter, did some research and realized … I could not do that, not without permission from the Record Company and/or the band, World Party.

Dang it. Foiled by the law … again. And it was back to the mixing board (eh, app) and the result is a much lesser version of the original. But it’s what I have and the message is still there.

But, hey, here is the song on YouTube:

So long, 2014. Hello, 2015.

Peace (in the share),


Infographic: Screen Time

Hmm. I like this graphic in that it forces us to consider the consumer vs. creator concept when we put technology and digital media into the hands of our kids. This ran in the Boston Globe recently. While I like the visual, I am not sure I like the title on it so much. I don’t see it as a defense of screen time so much as the possibilities of digital media creation.

Peace (in the sectors),





Oh, The Irony of It

If you have some time, watch this video about language immersion. It’s well-done, if bent to a certain political view.

This “Immersion” video is a required part of a state-sponsored Sheltered English Immersion course that I am taking part in right now. All teachers will eventually need to get a certification around teaching students whose primary language is not English. This course will fulfill my requirement, but I have to say that, even with the boatload of work, it is valuable information and discussions for all of my students.

Back to the video … we are required to watch it and then write about it in our online community space.

I find it very ironic that the very same state Department of \Education that is ramping up state testing into the PARCC while ramming data of student growth models down our throats for how it will judge how we are doing — as schools, as educators (the state wants student test scores as part of our evaluation/accountability process) — wants us educators to watch this video in which the systematic push towards standardized testing — and no accommodations for students learning English — hurts and hinders a child who wants to do well.

I mean, that is the message of this video, loud and clear. What am I to make of that tension between the video and the reality of our state’s educational system? (Note: we banned bilingual educational services a few years ago after some California right-wing moneybag came into our state and funded/pushed a referendum on us. Then, he left us with the mess to figure out. Later, the Department of Justice stepped in, which is where the push for Sheltered Immersion is coming from)

Do the state folks feel for the young child in this short movie? If so, why do we have the same restrictions here in our schools that are featured there in that video?

I suspect there is tension in any administrative system, so then I wondered: Is the sharing of this video some subversive act by a technocrat in the state Department of Education?

I’m down with that.

Peace (in the vid),