Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “M.C. James”

Michael Des Barres: The Key of Love

Michael Des BarresI woke up this morning to find out that Michael Des Barres, one of my favorite musicians, just released a new single: “The Key of Love.” While Michael’s previous work included a solid rock album and a fun Christmas song, “The Key of Love” is a beautiful, mid-tempo ballad with heartfelt lyrics. What impresses me most about this song are the vocals; Michael masterfully hits high notes in “The Key of Love,” and he sounds better than ever. The arrangement is also worth noting as the guitar, horn section and backup vocals create a melody you won’t soon forget. It’s a worthy addition to any music lover’s library.

Supermarket Stories: Jack Daniels

Jack DanielsAlmost all of my shifts at the supermarket are six hours. To kill the time I regularly engage customers in conversations about a variety of subjects – music, dating, the stock market, and, sometimes, food. Doing so has helped me gain a reputation for being one of the nicest cashiers at the store. Besides praising me for being good at my job, some customers – both male and female – will compliment me on my looks. This doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m grateful that people of different ages, races and sexes find me attractive. On a crappy day, having some old lady tell me I look “like a movie star” makes me feel like a million bucks. However, when customers cross the line, it can get creepy.

One night, several years ago, I was in the express lane ringing up countless customers. My line stretched all the way to Egypt, and I was doing my best to get them in and out as quickly as possible. Even though I get paid by the hour, and not per customer, I still take pride in being efficient and establishing a quick, rhythmic pace. This results in me getting lost in the moment and time slipping away like grains of sand.

After the rush of customers had gone home to have dinner, I let out a sigh of relief and took a swig of water. When my eyes landed on my next customer, I instantly recognized him; he lived in the neighborhood and, based on the scrubs he always wore, worked at a hospital. We’d never spoken outside the store and I didn’t know his name, but I still “knew” him. However, this time he was accompanied by another man, whom I didn’t know.

After placing his items on the conveyor belt, I greeted him and he drunkenly slurred, “Hello handsome.” His friend, who I quickly deduced was his partner, yelled at him: “Jack, stop that!” Jack continued by saying, “I’ve seen you outside the store. You look good in regular clothes.” Needless to say, I was mortified. This customer was drunk and hitting on me, in front of his boyfriend no less – who kept yelling “Jack!” every time he said something inappropriate. All I could do was say, “Do you have your savings card?” and get him out of my line as quickly as possible.

After he left, I never saw Jack at the supermarket or in the neighborhood again. Either he and his partner broke up and he moved away or his partner killed him; I’m not sure. I’m just thankful there wasn’t a sequel to that incredibly awkward experience. One encounter with Jack “Daniels” was more than enough for me.

Review: Louis C.K. Live

Louis C.K.Tonight I saw Louis C.K. live for the first time, and he was great. As many of you know, George Carlin is my all-time favorite comedian. He is quickly followed by Lewis Black, and Louis C.K. is right up there. If his career continues on this trajectory, Louis C.K. will be considered a comedic legend in 40 years.

Tonight was night two of three sold-out shows in Philadelphia. Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, whose humor puts me to sleep, selling out more than one night in a row is unheard of in stand-up comedy. While the crowd was fairly diverse, a large portion of it consisted of young people. Similar to George Carlin, Louis C.K. seems to strike a cord with the youth of America. Perhaps it’s the irreverent humor or his self-deprecating personality. The only thing that’s certain is he’s got a winning formula.

I won’t reveal any of the jokes he told during the show, because you should see Louis C.K. live for yourself. If you can’t, you’ll be glad to know that he’s having several of the shows in February recorded for an upcoming HBO special. That said, I can reveal that he touched on a variety of subjects including: pedophilia, aging, food allergies, and patriotism. Needless to say, he infused all of these topics, and more, with witty observations and a twisted sense of humor.

If you get a chance to see Louis C.K. on this tour, do so. He’s charging only $45 for every ticket (including fees and taxes), regardless of where you sit. For your money you get two compelling hours of comedy you won’t soon forget.

For the uninitiated, below is one of Louis C.K.’s classic bits.

John Oates – Beauty

John OatesOne of the most gorgeous songs I’ve ever heard is “Beauty” on John Oates’ first solo album, Phunk Shui, which is fantastic from start to finish. Below are the lyrics as well as  the song itself. Enjoy!

Beauty

They say that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.

Some say beauty is a spirit deep inside.

The colors of the rainbow look the same to young and older.

The way you look at beauty is the way you look at life.

Your state of mind and definitions may change, but the essence of the question goes on.

You can wonder till the end of time, ponder and pray, but I say beauty is the that way you look tonight.

 

To stay in touch with beauty, keep an angel on your shoulder.

Reach for beauty in the stars up in the sky.

Moonlight on the mountains or a sunset on the ocean, the way you look at beauty is the way you look at life.

No black and white, your perceptions may change, so the essence of the question goes on.

You can wonder till the end of time, ponder and pray, but I say beauty is the way that you look tonight.

 

Beauty is the spirit deep inside you that I see in your face.

 

Your state of mind and definitions may change, but the essence of the question goes on.

You can wonder till the end of time, ponder and pray, but I say beauty is the that way you look tonight.

 

People say that beauty is a spirit deep inside.

The way you look at beauty is the way you look at life.

The eye of the beholder is a window to the soul.

Beauty’s just like passion, it’s the same for young and old.

 

 

 

Samsung Google Chromebook Review

Google ChromebookAs promised, below is my Samsung Google Chromebook review. I still prefer my Kinde Fire HD for video and gaming, but the Chromebook is great for surfing the web, email and creating and editing documents. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

It’s All In The Details

I’m in the process of writing my first novel, and it’s a time-consuming endeavor because I work two jobs and I’m in graduate school. However, now that I have a new Google Chromebook, I’m starting to make some headway. Having just written a new chapter, I came to a realization about what makes a book memorable to readers – details.

Many of the most effective modern authors (e.g., Ken Follett, Lee Child, etc.) write stories that resonate with readers because they pay close attention to the details. By this I mean they take great care in making sure their stories are infused with a considerable amount of specificity. Whether it’s describing the color and texture of a piece of clothing or slowly unveiling a gripping backstory for one of the lead characters, these authors understand the value in creating a three-dimensional world that readers can practically smell, taste and touch.

With this in mind, I’m making sure my novel contains a considerable amount of detail. I want readers leave my book feeling like they have a true understanding of my characters, their motivations and where they come from. That said, I realize that it’s equally important to make sure the plot doesn’t play second fiddle to the details.

When reading a book or watching a movie or TV show, what do you enjoy most about the story? Do you find the details help flesh out the characters and the situations they face, or do you think they get in the way?

My Google Chromebook Has Arrived

Metal Gear Solid

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Metal Gear Solid was a revolutionary game on the original Playstation. It was the first truly cinematic gaming experience. Below are a couple fan-made videos featuring some of the best scenes from the game.

What Authors Can Learn From Pro Wrestlers

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I’ve been a fan of pro wrestling since I was a child. When executed effectively, this amalgam of theater and athleticism can suspend my disbelief and take me on a thrilling adventure – similar to other art forms. Unfortunately, pro wrestling doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. There are many uneducated people who approach wrestling fans and say asinine things such as, “You know it’s fake, right?” What these Neanderthals fail to realize is that wrestling fans are fully aware of the fact that it’s an intricately planned form of entertainment; so are television shows, movies and novels, but you don’t see these same myopic buffoons accosting fans of True Blood or Lord of the Rings saying, “You know vampires and hobbits aren’t real, right?”

Rather than dismissing it because you don’t understand it, I challenge those of you unfamiliar with pro wrestling to watch the match below. It’s arguably the greatest match in the history of pro wrestling. It features Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25. What makes it special is it tells a story from start to finish. From the opening video package to the match itself, there is a great deal to be learned from these two grizzled veterans. Like any skillful storyteller, they set a great pace, insert several calamities and end with a thrilling, and satisfying, conclusion.

Yes, there are plenty of terrible wrestling matches, the same way there are a multitude of dreadful television shows, films and novels. But the great ones are a spectacle to behold and, as writers, we can learn from them. We can learn that it’s important to know your audience and give them what they want, while at the same time keeping things unpredictable and fun. None of us want to produce something that is forgettable; we want to be known for drawing in our readers, having them fully invested in our characters and anxiously turning pages. Wrestling is the same. Companies like WWE seek to create compelling characters, insert them in precarious situations and let the drama unfold.

For authors, there is much to be learned from pro wrestling. Give the match below a shot and you’ll see what I mean. There are stories being told all around us; some are good, and some are bad. But if we aren’t open to experiencing all of the different mediums through which they are told (e.g., TV, movies, plays, books, music, pro wrestling, video games, etc.), then, as storytellers, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. There is a great deal to be learned, but only if we expand our horizons.

It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve

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As 2012 comes to a close, WordPress is sending bloggers annual reports culling together interesting statistics about their blogs. Considering I started my blog less than six months ago, I’m thrilled that it has been viewed nearly 5,000 times by people in 85 countries. Thank you to all of my followers and regular readers, including Vic, Hollin and Daniela, among others; your support is greatly appreciated.

Below is a lovely song by Barry Manilow that’s perfect for this time of year. And with 2012 behind us, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2013!

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