Thursday, December 21, 2017

Looking Forward To 2018

Expounding on a recent Facebook post I made...
So, what am I looking forward to as we go into 2018?

Producing new Third World Sun material
This weekend, I'll be taking the tracks that Third World Sun recorded (so far a total of 11 new songs) and cleaning them up for future instrument overdubbing. Will we get around to laying down the additional instrument tracks this year? Probably not. But look for a song released digitally very likely in the first couple months of 2018. Since it seems like many or most people download or stream their music these days, we may do a few digital releases before we put out an entire new CD. I'm old-school though. I like having the CD. 

Elvin's Pet Peeve T-shirts

I expect to get two brand new Peeve T-shirt designs produced and available online this weekend. So stay tuned for an announcement on that. The artwork for both designs is done. So it's just a matter of setting up the Paul Carhart store and putting the shirts together. Shouldn't take too long and it's one more a step in the right direction for feeding the monster.

New Elvin's Pet Peeve comic strips

Yes. I've done some new Peeve artwork recently but I haven't drawn a new comic strip in quite a while. I have, however, now storyboarded 13 new comic strips and there will be more to come. So, I expect to draw the first BRAND NEW Elvin's Pet Peeve comic strip in 25 years this weekend. And I expect the effort to be recorded (see The Creative Underground below).


I'll also be designing a facelift for my website that will better point people into the various facets of work I'll be doing in the coming year. I probably won't implement this facelift until early next year, however but at that time I'll be...

Re-Launching The Creative Underground YouTube channel
The idea is to put out a weekly 10-15 behind-the-scenes video on whatever it is I'm doing that week. Might be cartooning. Might be writing. Might be music. I hope you'll tune in.

A Stranger At The Gallows (Worlds Collide #2)
There are only four stinking chapters left and I outlined the entire story from the get-go! I have no excuse. With two weeks' break coming up, I will be facing compete and utter failure if I can't wrap this book up. At least the first draft. Once that's done, it's all about the editing.

Returning to the studio with the rest of Third World Sun

Third World Sun's blog just recently got an update. And that's not the only thing band-related that's new. We've been recording new songs and there are two left ("Little Miss Sunshine" and "There Is A Name") that we didn't get to the last two times we went into the studio. So we're going to do that on the day after Christmas. That will bring the total we've recorded since the last CD (not counting the cover of Air Supply's "Don't Be Afraid") to thirteen.

Family time

As usual, I'll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Melody and my extended family. This usually takes place at my sister's family's house and I don't think that will differ this year.

The Last Jedi
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a Star Wars fan from the time I was ten years old. So I'm hopeful that we'll see The Last Jedi one more time (I actually liked it) in the theater... maybe in Dolby Cinema with my sister's family on Christmas Eve prior to the feast. THEN, I look forward to partaking in fan theory weaving and debate with my brother-in-law as we did after the release of The Force Awakens.

Music outside of the band
I've written a lot of songs that we don't do in the band. I'm toying with recording a batch of them and releasing them myself. I'll start preliminary work on that once the Third World Sun drum tracks are cleaned up.

Something new. Something Nasti

At least several hours of one day this break will be dedicated to brainstorming a business venture with one of my closest friends. More info to come when I'm at liberty to do so.

New Year's Eve tradition
Third World Sun will be playing, for the fourth consecutive year, New Year's Eve at Angel City in Bellflower, CA. We'll be ringing in the New Year with distortion! Come out and join us. We go on around 10:30-ish. Click for more info.

The Musical Journey

Also, probably after Christmas, I think I'll be taking Melody, at her request, to see Hugh Jackman's latest film, The Greatest Showman, from the people who brought you Dear Evan Hansen and the music in La La Land.

The Happiest Place On Earth
Hopefully, there'll be a visit to Disneyland in the coming weeks as well. It's been a couple months since I've been. And I'm going through withdrawal.
Classic Peeve
I'll also start the arduous task of scanning all of the original 185 Elvin's Pet Peeve comic strips so they can appear online once the website gets it's facelift. I'm also hoping these original 1991 and 1992 comic strips will make their way into book form followed by a third book of the NEW ones. 
Peeve Nerdiness
There are also two or three Peeve comic book-style stories--I believe one of them still needs to be inked--that I'd like to scan and figure out how to get into the hands of the public as well. And, who knows, maybe there'll be more of those to come too. 
What to write next?
Once I complete the first draft for A Stranger At The Gallows, I'll need to decide what to write next. I've got many options. Psychick 2? Fairlight 4? Planetfall vol 2? Start the Melody Midnight children's books? If you have an opinion, let's hear it. Convince me!

Lots to look forward to and reasons to get up in the morning in 2018! Rock on! - PMC

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thoughts on Hamilton
There's a million things I haven't done...
But just you wait...

Melody is REALLY into musicals now. In particular, she really likes Dear Evan Hansen, Heathers: The Musical, Be More Chill and Lin Manuel Miranda's game-changing Hamilton.

If you've seen Disney's Moana, you've heard some of his work (he's one of the songwriters for the film and his voice is in the song at the end). 

Last night, I took her to see Hamilton at The Pantages in Hollywood.

This has been coming for some time. Melody has been playing the soundtrack on YouTube around the house for months. Finally, I purchased the soundtrack for her and now it's in the car too. The rest of these musicals aren't playing locally or touring on the west coast at this time. But the Hamilton touring company has been parked in Hollywood since August.

So I really had no excuse not to take her. Hamilton is literally her favorite thing right now. Far more important than her favorite band (Twenty One Pilots). My only remaining excuse was monetary. Hamilton seats do not come cheap and it's still selling out only two weeks from the end of its four-month Hollywood run.

Of all of the things I've exposed Melody to since Lori's passing, I feel that musical theater is probably the most Lori-ish thing I could have done. Lori loved the theater. She would play music from Phantom of the Opera and West Side Story on the piano in our living room and get Melody to sing along with her. We all went together to see Les Miserebles. Melody was just little at the time but it still sticks with her. In fact, now that I think of it, I suppose it's not me doing the exposing. Lori did it. And now Melody is sort of doing it to me.

I mean, I'm not a newbie. I've seen Cats twice. I've seen Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast (also twice), Camelot and that's just off the top of my head. And just this year I took Melody to see Musical Theater West's production of Lin Manuel Miranda's first hit, In The Heights at Carpenter Center and a local production of Hunchback of Notre Dame that used the songs from the Disney film but a story that matched more-closely to Victor Hugo's original novel. This production was expertly directed by my sister-in-law, Megan O'Toole and the costumes were impeccably designed by my brother, James (Melody knows them as Aunt Megan and Uncle Jim). I told Melody earlier this year, if we're gonna start going to musicals, we're gonna at least see the ones that family is involved with first.

So financial hurdle or not, it wasn't much of an excuse to hold out any longer. I didn't really have a choice. I disguised it as part of her (our) Christmas. But really, I still bought stuff for under the tree so that's a superficial disguise. Nevertheless, I buckled down and purchased two tickets to see Hamilton. And last night, immediately after Melody's Holiday Orchestra concert, we rushed up through Los Angeles rush hour traffic, paid our $20 to park and had the cast of Hamilton put on one HECK of a show.

Melody knew all of the words. And Miranda's hip-hop-like songs lend themselves to the sing-along in a fashion that is more akin to a rock concert than musical theater. But most of the audience were not singing along. So Melody refrained. But she was bouncing up and down in her seat and cheering. Applause after every song. And tears. Tears throughout the second act up until the end. Until the end. But AT THE END, standing ovation!

Me too. Tears and standing. Both. Most impressive, Lin. Most impressive indeed.

Before we sat down, Melody and I each purchased a shirt. Melody wanted to get the one with Hamilton and Lafayette high-fiving that had the line from the play, "Immigrants, we get the job done" on it. I talked her out of it. It's a great line and relevant in the context of the story. But here's the sad state of where I live in Downtown Long Beach, California as some of the only white people we know: Someone would have given her crap for that shirt in our neighborhood. Never mind that Hamilton, who was an immigrant from the Carribbean, was as white as Melody is. And never mind that Lori's ancestry on her mother's side came over from Ireland as immigrants... making Melody directly descended from Irish settlers (Colonel Thomas Carhart came over in the late 1600s from Cornwall, England so I guess he was an immigrant too). For Melody to go around with that shirt on, I'm afraid she would have been likely been accused of "cultural appropriation" (which I think is a laugh when you consider that every historically white person in Hamilton is portrayed by a person of color). Nevertheless, I cautioned her against the shirt because I didn't want someone giving her a hard time when I'm not around to protect her.

It's too bad that Melody can't be as openly proud of her own ancestry as others are. But that's the state of the world we live in. And I'm not going to put her in harm's way so she can wear a certain shirt.

So I caved to the (perhaps non-existent, or mis-perceived) pressure. We both got the standard black shirt with the star-shaped Hamilton logo.

The show itself was fabulous. For those of you who are not familiar with Hamilton. It's a hip-hop style musical that tells the story of one of America's founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. It uses a diverse cast to tell a story of the founding of our country then with a cast of what America looks like now. I'm okay with that. I don't judge talent by skin color. And this cast has got loads of talent. The entire cast sings, dances and acts their way through the story impeccably. It soars and it tugs at the heartstrings. The songs have a beat and, despite its hip-hop pedigree, a melody as well. Miranda did an excellent job of crafting music that has a hip-hop base but is still accessible to the average listener through engaging melodies and snappy lyrics. And, even though I had heard the soundtrack for months (there is little spoken dialogue in the entire play... almost everything is done in song, almost like an urban opera), there were still little humorous surprises for me (just about everything King George does, for example). And I appreciate that.

After the show, Melody used her allowance to buy a set of six Hamilton buttons and then we were motoring back home, pulling into the driveway around 12:30 am. Work and school for both of us the following day. But the whole thing was worth it. Even the money--and it was nothing to sneeze at--it was worth it.

One thing of note that I find encouraging: When we look at the political landscape we're in right now, it's nice to know that, even in the founding of this great country, there was just as much disagreement and political in-fighting as we see right now. That gives me hope that we can iron out our differences without (God forbid) sparking another civil war. Which is the direction it sometimes seems we're going (I got the same takeaway from Spielberg's film, Lincoln, when I saw it).

For me, an artist re-finding himself after the loss of a loved-one, the story of Hamilton was important to me. As Hamilton says when he's first introduced, "There's a million things I haven't done. But just you wait. Just you wait..."

That resonates with me. And I don't have forever to do what I want to do.

"Why do you write like you're running out of time?"

I've got a lot more to write. To say.

So as we enter into the holiday season, no matter what holidays you choose to celebrate, my challenge to you is to think on that. Find something you haven't done. Something that maybe you've always wanted to do. Or something you feel like you need to say and haven't had a chance to get it out. And find a way to do that. Or at least try it.

That's what I'm going to do. So stay tuned. I've been gearing up for a couple months now to launch a few things in 2018. Puzzle pieces are coming together. New music. Cartoons. Books. 2018 is gonna be a year of changes and shifts. New paradigms and new directions.

And I'm not throwing away my shot.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Learning To Walk Again

So I'm officially RE-STARTING this blog. However, I'm going to leave everything that's come before so it will still serve as a journey, however harrowing, back through time for those who wish to peruse it. But I've been taking a step here and a step there to move forward from the passing of my wife for many months now and I'm ready to start unveiling the flower that is threatening to blossom shortly.

If you haven't heard the Foo Fighters song, "Walk," I highly recommend giving it a good listen (Official video: It's definitely been my theme song for the past three and a half years. A lot is happening though and this blog will be your front-row seat to watching what I've been up to finally come to fruition.

As I take one step at a time, I'm re-learning what it is to be me... to be the me I want to be and the me I was becoming over a decade ago before I chose to take a different road. Being married changed me. It certainly wasn't all for the worse. Don't get me wrong. My family was and continues to be of paramount importance to me. But the dynamic has shifted, once again. And just as it shifted in one direction when I made the decision to start a family, taking my time away, at least temporarily, from writing and certainly art projects, the time has come for the dynamic to shift again. This time, I am actively seeking to shift it and attempting to manage where it shifts to.

What does this all mean? Well, for one thing, I'll be resurrecting my early 90s cartoon characters from my Elvin's Pet Peeve comic strips. That will take a few different shapes. There's new music on the horizon, certainly with my band, Third World Sun. But perhaps even outside of the band. My latest novel should be out before Spring of 2018 is over. And I've got a series of children's books to jump-start that I expect to illustrate as well as write. And there's more! But I don't wanna spill all the beans at once.

One final note: The Creative Underground will also be starting back up. If you're not aware of that, it was a local cable-access TV show that I did to highlight creatives and creativity in Southern California (before that, it was an Internet radio show in Colorado Springs, CO). The show will get a a bit of a retool (again) and I'm hoping for weekly installments starting in January of 2018. It may or may not make it back on TV in Long Beach via PadNet. I haven't decided yet. Either way, I hope to grow it into a vibrant YouTube destination. So stay turned. Subscribe to my blog here and to The Creative Underground YouTube page ( And I'll keep plugging away at what I'm working on in the meantime.

Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring your dreams closer to your reality.

Hopefully, I'll see you in January.

Peace and love and rock on!