Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway [Book]

Death in the Afternoon by Ernest HemingwayStill considered one of the best books ever written about bullfighting, “Death in the Afternoon” is an impassioned look at the sport by one of its true aficionados. It reflects Hemingway’s conviction that bullfighting was more than mere sport and reveals a rich source of inspiration for his art. The unrivaled drama of bullfighting, with its rigorous combination of athleticism and artistry, and its requisite display of grace under pressure, ignited Hemingway’s imagination. Here he describes and explains the technical aspects of this dangerous ritual and “the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure classic beauty that can be produced by a man, an animal, and a piece of scarlet serge draped on a stick.” Seen through his eyes, bullfighting becomes a richly choreographed ballet, with performers who range from awkward amateurs to masters of great elegance and cunning.

A fascinating look at the history and grandeur of bullfighting, “Death in the Afternoon” is also a deeper contemplation of the nature of cowardice and bravery, sport and tragedy, and is enlivened throughout by Hemingway’s sharp commentary on life and literature.


My thoughts:

If I had to choose three descriptive terms for Ernest Hemingway, it would be easy and they would be the following:  Genius, dignitary, and…..cocksman.  Undoubtedly, Hemingway is one of the greatest American figures in history.  His life and actions during his time have secured him a covenant spot in history as one of the most brilliant men to, frankly, ever exist.  And more importantly, he still personally remains to be the finest pen man of books that kids are forced to read in the public school system.  That is quite the statement for me, considering how much I fucking hated some of the books they chose for us to read.  (Seriously, of all the classic Steinbeck novels, we read The Pearl?)

That being said, Ernest Hemingway seemed to know everything there was to know about being a man.  Sexists as it might seem, that is what he was.  He was a man.  I know that when I read his words, I always seem to develop a desire for a good scotch (even though I don’t really know what “good scotch” is) and a massive flank steak of buffalo meat.  And at the same time, the man was an artist.  Like the Kerouacs and Keseys that would follow in his footsteps, he wrote about how he lived.  Therefore, it is no surprise that old Papa would know everything there is to know about bullfighting, which he has featured predominately in some of his earlier works, and that we would write a mostly instructional book about the subject that is still as relevant today as it was when it was written 80 years ago.

I don’t know anything about bullfighting.  I don’t know much about Spain.  Hell, I didn’t even know that this book existed until I found a copy of it in the audiobook section of my local library here in Spain.  But when I did find it, I was obviously intrigued.  I have been living in Spain just over a month now, and bullfights are definitely on my list of “things I just HAVE to see while in Spain”.  The concept of the sport is absolutely majestic.  And just as most majestic things tend to be, there is also stigma, backlash, and corruption.  And nobody tells it better than Hemingway does in Death in the Afternoon.  Seriously, every nook and cranny about the bullfight world is covered with the type of grace and elegance you would expect from one of the greatest writers in history.  From the detailing maneuvering of a matador or picador, to the sexual exploits that sadly brought so many of them to their graves.  The fears and triumphs of precisely examined and explained in this wonderful and extremely informative narrative.  If you are at all interested in the world of bullfighting, this is the tell all book you simply must read.

That being said, I really didn’t care for it.  Let me explain.  Hemingway has always been one of my favorite writers of all time, and I know I am not alone in these thoughts.  The Sun Also Rises still holds the spot as my favorite book of all time, and the only book I have read more than 3 times.  I didn’t care much for The Old Man and the Sea when I read it at 13 years old, but when I digested it 10 years later, I found it absolutely incredible, and worthy of the praise I once refused to give it.  But, Death in the Afternoon is different.  To be quite honest, if it wasn’t a book by Hemingway, I would probably never have even considered giving it a shot.  In fact, I didn’t even know what the hell the book was about when I picked it up.  I simply saw the name Ernest Hemingway, and a title I had never heard of before, and know that it most be read.  It was a surprise to realize that it was about bullfighting.  And even more surprising that it is about bullfighting in the country I recently moved to (although Spain and bullfighting is as obvious of a collaboration as peas and carrots or peanut butter and jelly).  So my interest was grabbed.  But it just didn’t seem to have the zest and zeal I usually come to expect when reading any sort of story from Papa.  It truly is an instructional piece of non-fiction.  It is as informative as all hell, but not nearly as inspiring as the likes of Men Without Women, or other classic stories he has written.

There is definitely something very personal about this book.  You might think I could appreciate that. I should be able to appreciate the fact that this book was written by a man who yearned to speak his mind, and write about whatever he damn well pleased.  But, I am a selfish man at times.  I respect the legacy of this man more than I respect most anybody.  Still, I can not help but figure that there is a reason that this book managed to escape my knowledge of Mr. Hemingway having ever written it until now.  It isn’t a bad book.  It is written with absolute beauty and grace.  It was pretty much impossible for Ernest not to do so.  It really just isn’t that interesting.  That is unless you are curious about the sport of bullfighting, and especially if you believe yourself to be knowledgable in the sport.  I knew the equivalent of dick before reading this book, and now I feel as though I could tell you whatever you need to know, without even as much as a Google search!

EH 7976PYes, overall Death in the Afternoon seems to be simply another title to add to the “Also By Ernest Hemingway” at the beginning of 187th edition of A Farewell to Arms.  I would recommend it to everybody, simply because it is Ernest Hemingway.  For even the worst work by this man is vastly superior to just about anybody else in history in my opinion.

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #2.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Travels With Trembaths (Part 2 of 2) [Travelogue]

Spain11December 23rd, 2013

Christmas is in two days.  Yet, today I walked the streets of Rota, Spain in nothing more than a Bluth Frozen Banana Stand t-shirt.  In Chuck Taylors rather than winter boots, I glided over delicate sand rather than slushy snow.  Yes, I am deeply in love with the weather around here.  In fact, I am in love with most everything around here.  We will soon pick up the keys to our new home.  We decided to stay on base, and possibly miss out on the actually “living in Spain” experience.  But, our thought process is that we can still enjoy the atmosphere, travel every which way we please, and still have a house just off the Bay of Cadiz.  And we just couldn’t pass off such an amazing house with just so much room, a courtyard, a backyard the size of half a football field, and being a block and half away from the kids’s school.  Convenience is of the utmost importance when it comes to housing arrangements.  But, I have digressed from the original sequence of events.  Lets go back a little.

We arrived on the flight line of Rota Naval Station at 0730L.  The sun was just beginning to rise, but the air was so delightfully warm.  Of course, for the locals it was probably colder than Bill O’Reilly’s heart, but for a bunch of travelers recently leaving the US around Christmas time, it was absolutely delightful.  The plane ride form Norfolk, Virginia to Rota was mostly uneventful.  Best of all, it was 2 hours shorter than we had originally thought it was going to be.  I only had to eat one shitty meal of “beef” and re-watch that stupid ass movie where Clive Owen manages to sleep with every woman he comes across because of his accent and his past profession as a bad ass soccer player.  Between small bits of sleep, a few trips sneaking off to the lavatory to puff on my e-cig, and taming a few kids, the six hours flew by like nothing.

Spain7Of course, we landed at such an inconvenient time as the day was just beginning.  The time difference is only 6 hours from the east coast in which we just left, so it was though we literally flew throughout the entire night.  But with little to no sleep, and only one glass of wine.  But, we pushed through.  Throughout the week, the family as really learned that jet lag is a son of a bitch.  For the first three days it was impossible to keep them up beyond 6:00 p,m.  I hate to toot my own horn, but I’ve done this shit a few times.  Although I did learn that going 17 hours in to the future to Korea was much easier than going 9 in to Spain.  But, here we are almost a week later and all is well.  We have also learned about the power of kindness and the wonderful benefits of military living.  Sure, the downsides might outweigh the good at times.  Isolation is always a motherfucker.  But, I will be damned if the benefits don’t come out in all of the greatest ways.  Let me explain.

When you move from one base to another, you are usually assigned a sponsor from your work center.  Somebody who has been at your new location for a good amount of time, and has been assigned to help get you settled in.  I have had the great fortune of having an amazing sponsor who coordinated our temporary housing, found us a batch of loaner dishes, cookware, and bedding to use while we await the shipment of our old life currently floating across the Atlantic.  He has also driven myself and my family around to wherever we please, including a night out at a wonderful Spanish & Italian buffett in the city of Jerez.  It has been so amazing to have this dude showing me around where to go, and even letting us steal his fancy Volvo to take the family out on my own.  And to top it all off, another fine gentlemen I will be working with for a while has actually offered up his little Ford Fiesta for us to use until the Subaru comes off the boat in a month or so.  Yes, if I can say one thing about military living it would be this: we take care of our own.  Sure many of vets get the shaft once they get out except for the two or three days a month most of you choose to acknowledge us.  But when we are in, we are a family.  I am not the most patriotic, flag-waving American you will ever know, but I do believe in the idea of being kind to one another, and the U.S. military definitely knows how to take care of its people.  Well, most of the time, but we won’t get in to all of that just yet.

Spain12Back to Spain…..  our home!  Recently we managed to sneak a peak at the city of Rota.  The streets are lined with old Spanish style (obviously) buildings that generally seem to sport American themed eateries and shops catering to the American lifestyle.  The setting is similar to any area directly off of a military installation.  Not exactly as insanely Americanized as Songtan, South Korea, but still rather estranged from its beginnings.  Needless to say, we are going to have to venture off much further from the base to experience the real Spain.  And you can bet your sweet hipster asses that we will definitely be doing just that.  But, even with all of its Americanization and filth, Rota is still a wonderful little place.  Why?  The motherfucking Bay of Cadiz, man!!  We managed to reach the beach that is considered to be subpar to several of the other beaches in the area, and yet, it was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was setting on this little tourist trap, yet the air was delightful and I couldn’t have been happier.  If the city of Rota is the lesser of the places to visit in the area, I am going to love it here.

But alas, we really haven’t gotten to travel around much in the 5 days we have been here.  And honestly, we are not too worried about it.  Our main goal is to gain a bit of normalcy that we have not had in over a year.  We have been living in a home without wifi for almost a week, and apparently one of those bearded rednecks from Duck Dynasty said something very homophobic and the internet seems surprised.  Actually I’m pretty happy we haven’t gotten to be a part of that.  I don’t think worrying about something stupid that reality TV star says is “normalcy”.  But, there are things we are looking forward to in the moment that don’t involve travel.  Like regular ass household goods.  Our car.  Internet for other reasons than just social media (but yes, we do miss Facebook).  But, we stay positive that within a month from this day, we should have everything together, I will be settled in at work, and we will begin traveling around Spain and eventually as much of Europe as possible.  Melissa is deadset on a Christmas in Paris, and I guess I am at risk of serious personal injury if I don’t oblige.

Spain13I even managed to find a book entitled Forty Day Trips from Rota by Melinda Ronka that details some amazing single day activities to do in southern Spain.  And with so much just outside our back door, I am certain this is going to be an experience that will be forever engrained in our lives.  But, until we get our housing situation in order, a car to get us around, and that beloved normalcy in the background of our lives, we may not get out as quickly as we would like to.  But rest assure that by the winter of 2016, we will have seen a whole bunch of great shit that I will pass along to you all right here at the Trainwreck’d Society Travelogue.  Until then, buenos noches, and snoogans to all!


Marilyn Ghigliotti [Interview]

Marilyn Ghigliotti120 years ago, a very important film was showcased to the world.  Some kid from Jersey, hell bent with passion for cinema, decided he would risk everything he owned, or didn’t own, to make a film.  What would conspire would be one of the greatest and highest praised independent films in the history of cinema.  Not to mention the greatest collection of dick jokes to world has ever known.  That film would be called Clerks, and it would launch the career of one of the most fascinating filmmakers of our day and age, Sir Kevin Smith.  Seriously, he is one of the luckiest men I have ever had the pleasure to follow.  Of course, he worked hard and took the risks.  But, in his first efforts as filmmaker, he managed to have a brilliant cast of actors and actresses that he surely has to be grateful as hell to have ever known.

And one of those fine characters was the illustriously talented and crazy sassy Marilyn Ghigliotti.  She portrayed the far too devoted to a deadbeat store clerk girlfriend we all know and love named Veronica.  The beautiful woman who brings lasagna to work for her undeserving boyfriend.  The one that wants nothing more than to be a great girlfriend to a man who doesn’t deserve her.  And without going into too much detail….she is the reason we here at Trainwreck’d Society have chosen the number 37 for our year end albums list on the musical side of the house.  Yes, Marilyn was definitely one of the major highlights of this little black and white film that shocked the world and has yet to lose its significance in the world of cinema, which don’t believe will ever happen.

I have been following Marilyn’s career for many years now, and have always been delighted to find out that she is working on something new.  She is an amazingly talented actress beyond the stigma of being the “37 girl from Clerks”.  It is undeniable that she will always be first and foremost linked to this role, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  If she hadn’t been so amazing in the film, she might not have been remembered at all.  But, she has also had an amazing career of her own in the last twenty years, with skills beyond just the acting world.  So I thought it would be an absolute honor to try and steal a few words from Marilyn for you fine readers.  We were honored to have her fellow Clerks cast member Scott Schiaffo speak with us last July, so you can only imagine how damn excited I am to have Marilyn join the TWS alumni as well (and here is to the hope that we can have even more join the ranks, should we be so lucky).  So ladies and gentlemen, bow your heads, and then look up so you can read, and allow me to introduce the fabulous and brilliant Marilyn Ghigliotti.

What was your experience like on the set of Clerks?

It’s hard to give you what it was like when you don’t have something to compare it to, but for me and I think for all it was a wonderful experience of doing something to the next level that you’re looking to hopefully do for a long time in your life. My experience came from a theatrical one and it was an opportunity to take it to the next level and see what could come of it. Even though many seemed to have brushed off the thought of auditioning for what was being said as “A kid is making a movie, and they’re holding auditions.” For me, I didn’t care, I wanted to be in a film and at least would prepare my monologue and go and check it out and audition.

How was it working under the rookie direction of the now esteemed Kevin Smith?

Who was I to critique, weren’t we all rookies to some degree?  We were all learning together, experiencing this together, figuring it out together…all in various degrees obviously. But all in the same boat.

Your character of Veronica in the film seemed to be, in hindsight, a typcasted confident Jersey girl in the 90’s. How much of the character was taken from your own existence? What was different from your own personality?

I can’t say how much of the character was taken out of my own existence as I didn’t write Veronica, Kevin did. So I’m assuming that he wrote upon his experience from the Jersey girls he knew. But I do understand that the character is based upon his girlfriend at the time. But on that note, I do find myself in Veronica quite a bit. I would be the one to bring Lasagna to my boyfriend or something there like to his office or make for him. I love and I love hard and am committed when committed. And don’t ever try to harm anyone that I love be it family or friend. I am strong, but I’m human, and can hurt like anyone and am just as vulnerable.

Marilyn Ghigliotti2We wouldn’t dare ask for details about the your upcoming role in Clerks III, for we know that just won’t happen. But, if you could, tell us what you are most excited about in doing this film and returning to that world?

Good, because actually I have none, honestly. But if I did of course I wouldn’t be able to say anything. But I’m excited to work with my family again. And it’s the only way that I can see it. Brian and I have history before Clerks from knowing each other and working in the community theater circuit back home. To work with him again is just absolutely…well hard to put into words, because I’m always excited when I get to see him as much as I am seeing a family member I haven’t seen in a while. I know that there may be some things missing from the first that might not be there for the third, but they will be missed by me as I would love to see them. But I’m especially excited, as much as anyone else fans alike, what has happened with Veronica and what her life has been.

Besides an abundance of acting credits to your name, you are also an established make up artist. If you were forced to draw down and only choose one profession, which would it be?

Well I don’t know about an abundance of acting credits, but thank you. Sorry, no disrespect to how anyone sees it, but I know and understand how the entertainment business works and the ones you count on to give you the opportunity to do it again, don’t see it as an abundance. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, I wouldn’t change most of those credits. You know there’s always that one you wished you hadn’t done. But all of them gave me experience and experience is what gains you knowledge and the experience to get further. But if I had to pick one or the other, it would be acting. But being creative is the #1 pick and that encompasses alot.

You have also been known to do some voice over work in your time. What sort of stuff have you done? What is it that you enjoy about this line of work?

Actually my first job doing voice over you could say was doing the little girl voice in Clerks of “Happy Scrappy Hero Pup”. When we went into ADR to work on Clerks they asked if I could do that, don’t remember the exact details on it, but I did and until I either told people it was me on the 10th anniversary DVD no one knew. Since then I do believe it’s been redone, by an actual child maybe. I don’t know. And not too long after Clerks I did a voice commercial for a shoe company way back when. But my real work started in the beginning of 2013 when I started taking some voice classes and was shown how easy it is to start doing audio books. And as time has allowed I’m already on my fourth narration of an audio book. And I have to say if you’ve got a great book, can be quite entertaining as you read along and get drawn in as well. I’ve surprised myself with voices to a degree, as I like to call it, which is me giving the voice a personality versus making an impression. But if you ask any actor out here in LA, we don’t only have just one line of work, unless you make your living as an actor and I can’t quite say that yet. So I’ve got a plethora of hats that I wear.

And to add yet ANOTHER great talent….you also dabble in professional photography. How did you fall in to this field? What draws you to the work?

I’ve been interested in photography for quite some time actually. Probably almost as much as I’ve been interested in acting if not more. As a child, my interests lied in dance, drawing, photography and many other things I can’t remember. Anyway, to make a long story shorter, a few years ago I decided to learn photography in the way that I wanted to and eventually I decided that I wanted to get out of my day job and was hoping that starting to do some headshot photography the way that I always looked to get my headshots done would be a way to supplement my income besides the hair and makeup, which was something that I can add on as well, in the meantime of trying to make a living as an actress. But again, I’m a creative person and I’m drawn to the creative and it actually helps in the film business to know lenses, angles, composition, etc, so it can only enhance my knowledge in the field.

What do you feel is your greatest non-artistic accomplishment?

My daughter. Because she is who she became because of me and I can’t be prouder of her.

If you could portray any legendary woman in American history, who would it be?

I wouldn’t even begin to know where to answer this question other than I would hope that I would give the person the utmost respect in my portrayal, whether they are someone of good or bad reputation. Because one never knows what history they’ve had to make them who they are be it right or wrong.

Marilyn Ghigliotti3Can you tell us about your upcoming film Lake Eerie?

Lake Eerie is a script that I told that I had been mentioned for a role in and was able to obtain the script to read. When picking it up to scan, I just couldn’t put the script down because it was very well written and drew me in. Done well, I feel it could do something for itself. After reading it, however I really wanted to play the lead and did make it known, and then did find out that the writer had written the script for her to play in. And after much deliberation on the production side they decided to have me do the role originally spoken about. Which I was still happy to be a part of. Met some great people. And we got to shoot on the shores of Lake Erie in MI. Lovely spot and very tranquil which lends to a great horror film set there of a woman that buys a home, after the loss of her husband, that they both had talked about owning one day. And almost immediately strange things start to happen. They’re currently in post production after shooting in October 2013.

What else does the near future hold for Marilyn Ghigliotti? What else have you been working on these days?

Besides having Lake Eerie in post production there is also Starship Rising, a Sci Fi film written, directed by Neil Johnson, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with previously. Something a little different than what most people are used to seeing me. And then of course there’s Clerks III. Other than those, there are some possible projects kind of molding themselves, but nothing that worth speaking about till it actually starts to happen.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Well, there’s always some posting on FB that makes me smile or laugh. Ah the age of technology.


Be sure to check out Marilyn’s new blog, Beyond 37, to hear her recap of the release of Clerks, her experiences at the time, and the 20 years that have passed since.

Travels with Trembaths (Part 1 of 2) [Travelogue]

Spain9December 19th 2013, Rota Naval Station, Spain

Buenos Dias Everybody!  I am writing to you fine reader’s from the confines of a temporary lodging facility on Rota Naval Station here in Spain upon a MacBook that I am only now learning has resources and software available without access to the world wide web.  In fact, in the 48 hours or so that my family and I have been in the country of Spain, we have had few connections to the outside world.  We aren’t living under a proverbial rock or anything, but we are without wifi.  Which, in this day and age, might as well be the same damn thing.  We have managed to snag a bit of wifi at the local Naval Exchange and when I stopped by my new work center (yes, I have wifi at work.  And a KFC.  I think I am going to like this place a lot).  But alas, I am officially an American residing in Spain.  Our lodging may be temporary, but we are full on living in Spain, even if we can’t tell the world about it on Facebook.

Spain1Our travels began a few days ago at the beloved train station in my “beloved” hometown of Kelso, Washington.  Fun fact:  the Kelso train station is mere blocks from my beloved Tim’s Tavern, a place where I once claimed to have died for our country in order to obtain the rights to a shuffle board table on my 21st birthday, once punched a very nice man in the face only to find him at the end of the “new” bridge (locals will understand) after I was kicked out of the bar so he could apologize for acting in any behavior that may have led to me wanting to punch him (and his much smaller friend) in the face during a very dark period in the winter of 2011, and also the location of my ten year high school reunion this last summer which I returned with good timing from the land of the morning calm to attend.  So, yeah, it was sort of surreal to be leaving my hometown (and not that dreadful Longview place across the river, as though it matters) on such a surreal adventure.  As most folks in the area know, the most convenient means of living Kelso is through the military or prison (hey-o!), or from Portland Oregon, 30 minutes to our south.  It was pretty surreal to hop on the train with our 14 bags of luggage (of which I will surely bitch about later) and wave goodbye to several family members as we boarded our steel vessel to take us on our first journey to paradise.

Of course, much like so many of the hopes and dreams of my fellow Kelso natives… was all bullshit.  We actually had to travel down to my favorite city in the world, the aforementioned Portland, Oregon to the historic Union Station where we transferred our luggage (did I mention we had 14 FUCKING BAGS!) to an eastbound train, swallowed down some turkey sandwiches (Portland locals probably called them “organic” or “artisan”, but I call a damn turkey sandwich), and board a train bound for our former residence of Spokane, Washington, the Lost City of Potential.  Warning: the following sentences were not paid for my the Spain4good folks at Amtrak, but they might certainly appear to be as so.  And for all of you naysayers out there, the train is the fucking way to go, man!  It is roomy, cheap, and surrounded with amazing employees that only wish to make your life a pleasurable one for a few hours.  Not to mention the fact that your 4G network is still in tact, and they have outlets available at every seat.  But even the fact that it is cheaper than sex with a lady boy in the Philippines wasn’t the best part.  The outstanding feature to me revolves around the entire fact that I have three children in tow.  And should you find yourself in need of a cross country venture, this is definitely the way to go.  My wife and my youngest daughter managed to sleep side by side comfortably with the leg rest risen.  I had one kid in two seats all to her self, passed out for half the trip, and the other one next to me in her twin bed like space of just here seat and leg rest while I murdered a few zombies on Dead Trigger, as well as a shit ton of multi colored jelly beans on Candy Crush for 7 straight hours.  Fuck the jam packed SUV’s of the past, and the compacted plane rides of the future (which honestly turned out okay, more later).  So there.  Amtrak is the shit.  They really should pay me for this shit.  And believe you me, the irony of setting forth on a long journey on a train with the fact that I run a website called Trainwreck’d Society in tow was not lost at all.  I seriously thought that my journey would be cut short via derailment in the desolate lands of Eastern Washington, where only the farm hands could hear you scream at that time of night.

Spain5We arrived in the Lilac City sometime around midnight at a train station in the heart of the city.  The station was filled with whack jobs and weirdos looking to to disappear in the middle of the night.  Outside of the station you could hear the hoots and hollers of the whack jobs and weirdos looking to incinerate the fire of hate in their hearts and transform it in to desire and lust through $3 fireball shots and $2 tall boy cans of PBR all the while screaming to the late night air, “Fuck this!  I’m moving to Seattle!!”.  Yes, we were in my beloved city of Spokane.  Hometown of Bing Crosby, Craig T. Nelson, John Stockton, and Father’s Day.  The city that has so much to offer, but has a damn hard time offering anything.  It is the city in which I was once beaten, mugged, and robbed of all my possessions on my persons.  The city that almost robbed my sanity and ripped apart my life.  The city in which I purchased a home in the shittitest part of the shittiest area for hundreds of miles (West Central, not Hillyard, for the locals)….and absolutely loved it.  We had a hotel room at the beautiful Red Lion Hotel that sat right next to our once beloved Riverfront Park.  It was a place I had run, walked, and stumbled by several times in the three years prior to my time in isolation in South Korea, and never thought I would stay in.  And did this place have a view!  From the 10th floor you could spot such beautiful landmarks as the clock tower, the Parkade Garage, the Spokane Arena, the other Red Lion hotel across the street, and as many beautiful old bridges as your sight would allow you to view.  But more importantly, I got a great view of the Value Village in which 85% of my clothes are from, and a distant view of my old neighborhood where I once sat on my porch listening to a neighbor couple argue and bicker until the legendary phrase “get in this house before you have my fucking fist for dinner” was uttered.  Of course my lovely little neighbor hood of poverty and history has now official entered a gentrification period that began even before I left (Fuckin Kendall Yards, ammiright, locals?).  Sad, but expansive I guess.  At least I will always have my memories of making friends with local homeless and vagabonds by throwing large bags of PBR cans in the alleyway for them to cash in for a night’s worth of Black Velvet.  God dammit Spokane, I hate the way I love you.

Spain10Then we slept off the train ride to the best of our abilities.  My experience in travel is immense to say the least, so I felt alright.  But, short spurts of sleep on mobile machines is a new concept to most of my family, therefore some headaches were involved.  But, it all ended up turning in to a following day of brunch at our beloved Satellite Diner (Frank’s is way better, locals will understand), a trip to the Northtown Mall to replace a booster seat that Amtrak left (Still ain’t even mad at them, it was 15 bucks well lost), dinner at the Olive Garden across the street, and a quick drink and couple of cigarettes with my dear friend Nick who is thriving as a prior military, now civilian, young man in he medium city of Spokane (Locals:  His girlfriend works at Zola, so yeah, he’s a guy to know!).  It was great to see this little shit even if it was only for an hour.  Once my subordinate, now a dear friend.  We spent almost every moment awake together during my stint in Qatar which started almost 4 years ago.  And since then, I’ve watched this Jersey Shore praising, Lil Wayne aficionado, and somehow still a half-assed redneck (that’s Ohio kids for you) turn in to…. well, older.  That’s about it.  Older.  It was basically a very nice capper to a day spent in my old city reminiscing about times past.  Good or bad, Spokane has been a city that has been in my heart for the last 15 years or so, and I will always adore it in all of his glory and tyranny.  There is probably some sort of metaphorical verbiage I could throw in about how returning to the land of which I came is significant to my departure out of the country with my beloved family, but the Bacardi Rum and the sound of the theme music from Bambi on the DVD menu amidst a living room filled with said family passed out already at 6:30 p.m. local time due to jet lag has me at ill ease and such subliminal comfort that I am unable to think of anything right now.  You tell me?

Spain8It was a very early morning for the old Trembath family as we left the Red Lion for Spokane International Airport (they fly to Canada, so, “international” is the “correct” term).  0345 wake up!  In the van by 0430.  Needless to say, I had some pissed off kids.  But, like the troopers they are, they pushed through the early wake up, helped get our luggage checked in (14 big ass bags!!!), made it through their first check in through security, and boarded their first plane ride with (mostly) ease as we flew off to the only city in the state of Minnesota of note, Minneapolis (Sorry St. Paul, just because you share an airport title with them doesn’t make you worth a damn).  I guess it is only fair to not that my oldest daughter has actually taken a round trip from Rapid City, South Dakota to Portland Oregon, a trip from Portland, Oregon to Reno, Nevada, and a trip from San Jose back to Portland, Oregon before, but she doesn’t remember it at all as she was between the ages of 3 months and 1 year old.  Not that you probably care.  No matter, 2 hours and 15 minutes later we arrived in Minneapolis with great success.  Some of them slept, some of them didn’t.  We ate some DQ, charged our iPhones, and were then on our way destined for Norfolk, Virginia.  Another 2 hours and 15 minutes later, we landed in Norfolk for our final destination of the day.  Stopping in Virginia is notable for one simple reason alone: my lovely wife Melissa has never been anywhere near the east coast.  True story:  When I met my sweet wife just days before the towers fell in the late summer of 2001, she had never been out of the Northwest (save for the northern tip of California where the Redwoods grow and Boise Idaho, but who gives a shit about Boise ammiright?).  Obviously since then, I have gotten her around.  We’ve lived in Texas, the midwest, and have traveled to such fabulous places as Denver, New Orleans, Biloxi, St. Louis, and Bellevue, Illinois.  But, this was literally the first time she had made it to the east coast of the United States (and if you couldn’t gather thus far, this will be her first trip overseas).  Therefore, it was pretty special.

Sadly though, as most travelers now, there is a vast difference in “being somewhere” and “experiencing somewhere”.  Most of us who move around for a living know about the “Airport Cities”.  I am obviously referring to the areas that revolve around certain dimensions of a major city’s airport.  Areas filled with hotels, chain restaurants, more than likely a Walmart or two.  Places that provide employment to locals, and a safe haven for those of us on the go who don’t have the time to experience anything culturally related to the area in which you are simply a visitor, which is even further below tourist.  For example:  In 2007 I made my second trip to Atlanta as a layover for a week of training in Panama City, Florida.  While I was able to once again thoroughly enjoy a wonderful night in my second favorite city, I was actually staying at a Sheraton in College Park, Georgia.  And for those of you who were old enough to remember 2007 (or young enough, I should say, you old geezers), College Park was sort of stale in the world of mainstream hip hop music with the likes of the Ying Yang Twins and other such foul mouthed and hilarious rappers supplying the plethora of hits during that time.  But, needless to say, the hip hop persona that the mainstream television and music scene would lead to you believe was dangerous and at times life threatening, didn’t quite equate the hotel I was staying at across from the TGI Fridays and Walgreens.  So there you have it.  But nonetheless, we found ourselves in a very nice Holiday Inn Express, had some dinner at a Hooter’s, bought some cheap beer from a Walmart, and Melissa got to stay overnight on the east coast.  That’s the glory of travel:  You can take it as you will, for experience is best seen through the mind’s eye.

Spain6And a small series of events from that point forward has brought us to right now.  We are here in Spain.  We are far from settled.  But, in the coming weeks, we will be as foot loose and fancy free from limitations as the rest of the residents here.  Have no doubt: we are an American military family.  We are the embodiment of Americans in Europe.  We have chosen to reside on the confines of a Spanish base that has been kind enough to let us Americanize the shit out of it.  There is very little European about the housing.  The local establishments on the base are the same as any other base in the U.S.  But as I sit and watch the palm trees blow in the warm wind, and hear the water from the bay crash on to land, I know that adventure is in our foresight, and I am so excited about what the future holds.  But alas, we find the Trembath family in a sort of stagnant mode, just waiting to pounce at the first opportunity of whimsical adventure.  But not yet.  This is why I have adverted a few details of our travels for a second chapter, as I have plenty of time before we are even able bodied enough to do anything of any real note.  But, rest assured dear reader(s), there will be adventures.  And even sooner, I will tell you the bizarre and (hopefully) intriguing story of us actually getting in to this beautiful country, and the hilarious adjustments of moving to a strange new place.

Until then folks, take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

Buenos Tardes!

Christine Lakin [Interview]

ChristineLakinIf you are an old timer here at Trainwreck’d Society, you probably won’t be too surprised just how damn excited I am to have someone as wonderful as Christine Lakin join our list of interviewees.  If you are new, just understand that my obsessions run deep.  I know this probably sounds creepy and downright disturbing, but let me explain.  The people I find to interview are all, in some form or anther, part of my favorite moments, eras, etc. of the entertainment world.  Let’s just say, even if I had the option to interview Angelina Jolie, I seriously wouldn’t know what to ask, as I truly don’t care (Brad Pitt, on the other hand…..).  Nothing against her, I’m just not interested.  That being said, my personal choices have often led me to researching and learning about some extremely talented folks.  And today is no exception.

In the 90’s, television sitcoms were golden.  They seem to be making a small comeback, but they are obviously not as predominate as they were when I was a young child anxiously awaiting my beloved TGIF premieres.  It was as if having our own family just wasn’t enough.  We needed to be a part of the Winslows, the Tanners, and…..The Lamberts.  One of my favorite sitcoms of all time will always be Step By Step.  There wasn’t so much that was unique about this new age Brady Bunch, except that it was OUR Brady Bunch.  A family strewn together and bound by love and loyalty.  In that respect, it was brilliant.  And then there was Al.  Oh sweet, sweet Al.  I grew up with such a crush on the tomboy turned young lady that was Al, the same why young girls swooned over JTT at that time.  Al was my girl!  I may have looked the way of the a Topanga or an Alex Mack, but in the end it always led back to Al.  And now, too many years later to count, I still look fondly at those times of when I so desperately wanted to be Zack Morris or Waldo Geraldo Faldo whilst shaking my head out how ridiculously obsessed with television.  I swear I went outside as a kid.  But, I never missed a TGIF, I am almost certain.

All of this has led me to looking in to the lives and careers of some of my favorite stars from now, but especially then.  And I often learn that the talents some of these fine actors and actresses did not cease to exist once a show either jumped the shark or ended right on time.  They are still living and breathing in the world of entertainment.  Granted some are more obvious than others.  And one of those obvious stars has been kind enough to speak with us today!  Christine Lakin has been working at a race horse like speed even after her stint as Al (*sigh*, oh Al) ended in the late 90’s.  She created and starred in one of the best web series the inter webs has ever shown, Lovin’ Lakin, made her rounds in the theater, is a constant contributor on E!, and is consistently behind the camera in other works besides the world wide web.  Christine is not only an exception the “child star stigma”, she is a triumph.  Rather than ignoring her past, she embraces it!  But so much in the fact that she is ever annoying about it (take heed, Screech).  She is an extremely talented woman who has so much to offer, and is not afraid to show the world that she indeed matters in the world of entertainment.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the legendary and extremely talented Christine Lakin!

You spent the majority of the 90’s as a member of the fictional Lambert family on Step By Step.  Tell us if you would, what was it like essentially growing up with two families?  Did it feel like a true family atmosphere, or just work?

Hmmm, well both I guess.  I grew up in Atlanta from the time I was 6 as an only child.  I always did lots of theater and dance so I understood what it was to have an “artist family”, which is really prevalent in theater.  So that concept was fairly familiar to me and I welcomed that commoradie with the other cast members as I was also suddenly living in California for half the year, away from my home and friends.  All of us “kids” on the show shared a three room school house, so everyone was essentially in the same building being taught by different studio teachers, so that sort of bonded us.  We genuinely enjoyed each other and played a lot of basketball, video games, roughhousing when we were on breaks.  Acting never felt like work to me, so I think that’s why Im still in the biz.  When I was a junior in high school and applying for college and then started balancing UCLA with working, at times yes, striving to find that balance felt like work.  Late nights studying, mixed with long days on set, sometimes with little time to study in between (if I was heavy in the show) could be challenging.  It required a lot of focus and self-motivation on my part to stay ahead in school and get good grades.  So yes, to answer your question, that part felt like work.  The rest was the fun stuff.

Christine Lakin3Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your old “family”

Sure, Patrick Duffy and I write each other.  He did a cameo in my web series “Lovin Lakin” (currently on YouTube and Hulu), and both he and Stacy Keanan were in “You Again” with me.  Stacy and I see each other every few months or so.  She’s been in law school so she’s quite busy being very studious.  I still see and talk to several of the producers, writers and directors.  Facebook makes that pretty easy 🙂

I hate to continue on with the “child star” questions, but my pre-pubescent 12 year old in the mid 90’s self would kick me in the ass if I didn’t ask….  What was it like dealing with boys, especially in your later years on the show when you seemed to blossom (no pun intended) in to a woman?  Did you have any funny or horror stories in dealing with boys?

HA!  Oh jeez… well I wish this answer was juicer but to be honest, because my high school was in Atlanta, most of my pubescent years were encased in a fortress of normalcy.  In that, no one at my school treated me any differently or really seemed to care I was on television.  I can’t say it helped me with boys, but I don’t think it necessarily hurt either.  I wasn’t the most popular kid at my school but I wasn’t an outcast.  There was maybe one time when a junior or senior boy tried to ask me to marry him in the hallway when I was a freshman but I think that had more to do with the older guys trying to embarrass freshman girls than it did with me being on television.

How did your extremely hilarious web series Lovin Lakin come about?  What made you want to create this series?  And will we get to see more?

First of all, thanks!  Glad you’ve enjoyed it.  I wrote and created the series after a writing class my friend had taught, and kind of came up with the idea there.  My good friend and producing partner, Dave Mahanes, has a documentary company and a bunch of equipment.  He came to me and wanted to do something different than his usual fare- something lighthearted and fun- and I told him my idea.  We got to brainstorming on episode ideas, brought it into Oops Doughnuts Productions, who then came on to exec produce, and we started filming.  I created this because I wanted to create a vehicle for myself.  That’s the more direct way as an artist to take control. And I figured what better way to take control of my image than to call out the most awkward, stereotypical version of myself.  I will never get away from being a child star- it’s just what my path was- and to that end, why not embrace it? And additionally, embrace the awkward nature of that entire world… and as I started thinking on this character of “Lakin”… I was tickled by a girl who couldn’t be farther away from my real self… who is so delusional about her image, her world, her reality… that she’s both kind of a hot mess and completely, sadly adorable.  And I think that combo is comedic gold.  I created the character first, and then worked her into ridiculous situations that kind of had a through line with her trying make this docu-series about her great comeback.  Add in some really funny friends, a few great cameos and some improvising… and I was wildly delighted with what we got.  I don’t know if more Lovin Lakin is in the cards for now… if I could get funding to do another season I would in a heartbeat but there’s only so many times you can ask your friends to work for peanuts.  Currently however, Im producing a new web series called “Valet” by Brandon breault and Matt Morgan, two theater friends of mine, who created this series based off a play they wrote and put up here in Hollywood.  It takes place at a hot Hollywood hotel, and is essentially Entourage, from the prospective of the two valets who work the front door.

I’ve noticed that you are credited with a few choreography gigs, including a three episode stint on HBO’s True Blood and the sadly short lived series Breaking In.  What sort of work did you actually do, and what made you want to get in to this line of work?

I’ve been a dancer my whole life, having started classes when I was about 3 and moving into competition and company when I was around 8.  I obviously quit training when I started acting full time, but it’s a vocabulary and understanding I have used in theater in the last 10 years or so here in LA.  We’d be putting up a new show with Troubadour Theater Co. and I’d be one of the few with this background so I was asked to assist and choreograph on occasion.  My name started getting passed around the LA theater scene and before I knew it, I had been nominated several times (Ovation, LADCC awards).  That led to assisting a few choreographers on films and building relationships with line producers, directors and 1st AD’s, which is how the first True Blood gig came about.  That led to three more episodes, some films and more TV.  I feel very lucky to have found this niche because I genuinely like working on “the other side” of the camera.  I find that I get hired for two reasons- I work quickly and I know how to talk to actors (mainly because I am one).  In television especially, whenever there is a dance sequence or specific movement written in the script, the director usually feels the need to hire someone to help build the movement to his/her vision and then teach the actors that sequence.  So essentially, that’s what I do.  I create something based on the script direction and conversation with the director/producer, meet and rehearse the actors, adjust the movement based on their ability/likes/dislikes, show the director again, tweak from there and adjust/demonstrate from the monitor angle once we start filming.  I find most actors just want to feel good about themselves – who doesn’t? – so the majority of what I do is try and make them look (and feel) good, while taking into consideration the storyline and what the scene is getting across.  It’s a really fun job and I’ve gotten to work with some fantastic people- Sigorney Weaver, Betty White, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Anna Paquin, Ana Gastyer… fun folks.

You have also found your way in to voice over work as Joyce Kinney, the new Quahog 5 News anchor on Family Guy.  How did you get in to this gig as well?  Are you a fan of the show?

I was a big Family Guy fan and was so excited when Seth MacFarlane came to see one of the shows I did with the Troubies.  We got to chatting after and he asked me to come fill in at a table read… I did that a few times and recorded some bit parts here and there and the next season they asked me to play Joyce.  I was thrilled, obviously.  It’s an incredible group of people to be involved with and they’ve been so good to me.  That is definitely a story of being at the right place at the right time and it’s led to a great career in voice over work, which I very much enjoy.

What do you do for a little “me time” when you find a chance to peel yourself away from your extremely busy schedule?

I am obsessed with Homeland– just got caught up to season 3.  I love binge-watching shows now.  My fiancee and I get really into one or two at a time.  It’s a great way to study a series.  Im also watching Six Feet Under.  Never saw it the first time around.  I do a lot of outdoor activities- hiking, tennis.  I like yoga, dance, concerts, new restaurants, cooking and wine tasting.  Those things keep me pretty busy and satisfied.  Also producing my live show “Worst Ever” with my partner Alec Ledd the past 3 years has been a blast.  We take people’s most terrible, horrifying experiences and make them tell their stories in front of a live audience while we do a multi-media slide show behind them.  Sort of like Pop up Video meets Worst Week.

If you could portray any historical figure in American history in a biopic, who would it be? 

Who would I be right for is the question?  Maybe Billie Jean King.  She’s an incredible athlete and her story is inspiring for all women.

ChristineLakin2This might a dumb question, but I will ask it any way……  if you hadn’t gotten into the world of acting, what do you think you would be doing right now?

Jeez, hard to say.  Ive been doing this so damn long… Id probably be working as an executive somewhere… doing something creative but also very business minded. Maybe at a studio or a magazine.  Man, that life sounds so glamorous, maybe I made a mistake 😉

What does the future hold for you?  Any new projects in development?

Lots of projects in the fire- Im writing and pitching more new shows now than ever.  Stay tuned there.  Hopefully more stuff on E!, Definitely more audiobooks, which i love doing, planning my wedding and hopefully becoming a mom!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I walked out of my exercise class this morning and one of the gals I see there all the time asked me if I was on The Soup Investigates.  I said yes and she was so sweet, she said “Oh you’re really funny!  It’s hard to find something good on TV and I just love that show!”.  Always nice to make someone else smile… which I guess makes me smile too.

Kathryn Caine and the Small Band: Kathryn Caine and the Small Band [Album]

Kathryn Caine and the Small BandWhen I first dropped down the digitalized and hypothetical needle onto this new record from Kathryn Caine, I found myself wondering just one thing: Why am I only hearing this now?  This self titled release with the Small Band is far from her first release as I would come to learn.  Caine has stunning audiences with her wonderful Americana meets country meets gritty Gospel infused vocals and songwriting for several years.  And although I am only now coming to know this twang laced songstress, it certainly feels as though she has never missed a beat as this is some down home goodness I am so happy to have discovered.

The album features a variation of lyric driven tracks, with guitar work that is reminiscent of some sort of floating dock in a country setting, with checkered tablecloth covered picnic tables spread about, and a feeling of happiness floating in the air.  Even when Caine belts out words about running away or crying as she does on “Beatle Song”, it is still so uplifting and powerful that if you know at sort of two step, you may just want to grab a partner and sway your problems as well as the night away.  It behooves me to state that I am not usually a fan of most country music.  And being quite the moody son of a bitch at times, good time music may not compute.  But when it comes to sounds like this, even my grumpy self can’t help but feel uplifted and with a feel of praise for this beautiful life we live in.

Kathryn Caine’s excellence comes mostly from her ability to take old and sometimes tired forms of Americana and country and making them new, fresh, and entirely unique.  And this album with the Small Band is about as perfect of an example for how great it can be to bring back the old days, when tears and whiskey and a little foot stomping reigned supreme.  For fans of the old days of down home music, you are not likely to find another album as wonderful as this one.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan [Book]

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin SloanThe Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.I had no real intention of every reading a story like Mr. Panumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store when I found it sitting in the audio book section of the Rota Naval Station library.  I also had no intention of falling in love with it.  But alas, I did both.  Robin Sloan offers up a beautiful slice of life that matches the far too realistic nature of mankind in the age of knowing anything we want in a few on line searches and the mystery of what may lie in the outer surfaces of existence. – AMAZON.COM

My Thoughts:

The story kicks off with what would seem to be a tired and storied series of events leading to the eventual employment of our main character.  An arts major turned web designer who is out of work.  Oh, if only we could go back to the early years of this century and let all these people know that it just wasn’t going to work out, imagine the place we would be in now.  Thankfully, Sloan doesn’t dwell on this subject too much, and the story starts somewhat quickly, although he does seem to dwell on a few major character quirks that don’t seem to resignate to much need as the story moves forward, but are entertaining nonetheless.  The story takes place in the great city of San Francisco, a city that is a character in itself.  Google is definitely involved in a triumphant manner, as one would assume.  Our hero lands a gig as a bookstore clerk/night watchmen at Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store rather quickly in the tale, but things don’t really start happening until late into Act 2 of the story.

We meet a wide array of characters who would eventually shape the foundation of the story.  There is the rich friend, the hot Googler girlfriend (who always wears a read shirt, which I envisioned to be the same as Sheldon Cooper’s in The Big Bang Theory, but envision as you like), the weird model building roommate, the attractive yet robot-like roommate (who doesn’t really need to exist, if I were to be frank), and, of course, Mr. Penumbra, the eccentric book store owner who is a whimsical old fellow who really made the story for me.  Although I must admit, I read this book in merely an audible sense, and so much credit must be given to Ari Fliakos who did an amazing job throughout the book, but excelled at capturing just how delightful the character of Mr. Penumbra could be.

Author, Robin Sloan

Author, Robin Sloan

The series of events that occur throughout the novel are almost so entirely site specific that I fear that I may give away much of the mystery and detail that shall arise should you decide to go on the adventure yourself.  But it is suffice to say that this is a fun little book that genuinely asks the new age old questions like: Do we know too much?  Is there any limit to what we as human beings should truly understand?  Is it okay that the amount of mystery in our lives is being shrunk to almost nothing?  Questions like this may not arise as you are reading this tale about a loss of fortitude in society, and the gaining of the greater knowledge that we will all die one day, and maybe a (failed?) quest for the key to eternal life is not such a bad way to commute through the very life you have already been given even with it’s restrictions of time.  But, when you are finished, if these questions do not arise, you might want to see a doctor to ensure that you are indeed a human being after all.

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #1.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  Enjoy!

Michael Ornstein [Interview]

Michael Ornstein1Much like the rest of the world, I have fallen in love with FX’s Sons of Anarchy.  The show has gained so much praise and love over the last few years that it actually as an Anonymous Support Group on Facebook boasting almost 13,000 members (including myself).  I’m serious, check it out.  I once dubbed this show a “soap opera for men”, but it has obviously evolved in to so much more.  And as you may remember, we have interviewed cast members in the past and had to perform background checks too.  It is an addicting drama that is so much more than a show about a cutthroat motorcycle club.

But, as we like to do here at Trainwreck’d Society, we need to know more about the folks involved with the series.  That is why I was so interested in learning more about Michael Ornstein, the man behind one of the strangest characters of the show known as Chucky.  He is a character who’s chronic masturbation led him to be cast aside from the Chinese underground, and led to the ever-embracing arms of the more “caring” SAMCRO (Obviously there is more to the story, but we shall leave it at that for now).  Of course, there is more to Michael Ornstein than just this role, and that is exactly what we want to learn.

And through some research, I discovered that Ornstein might very well be one of the finest artists and musicians working today.  As a painter, he is far too impressive within the world of abstract and impressions for a simple minded fool and/or blogger such as myself to truly convey.  You really have to check out his work for yourself (you owe it to yourself to go HERE, but do come back!).  He is also a wonderful musician with influences that range from Bob Dylan to ragtime.  This is a man who personifies the idealism that a character actor does not simply have to remain a character actor.  One man’s genius should not be restricted, but highlighted in several variations of genius.  This is exactly what Michael Ornstein has done.  And with that, I am very excited that Mr. Ornstein has agreed to let us ask him a few questions to share with you fine readers.  So here we go!

You are an accomplished actor, painter, writer, musician, and so much more.  Tell us if you would, what was your first artistic love, and when did you know you wanted to create art for a living? 

My first artistic love was for painting. My parents took me to a lot of museums and gallery shows in NYC when I was a kid and there was something about the paintings that turned me on in a big way. The theater, too, turned me on quite a bit. There is nothing like that moment when the lights go down in the theater and the story begins. I learned real early on, from those moments, that I was an artist, way before I actually performed in front of people or put paint to canvas. So, painting and performance go hand in hand with me, still. I call my work “Hand Painted Radio” and view the paintings as performance and music. Check out Making a living from art is still a struggle and I think it’ll always be that way, but I signed up for that struggle long ago and there’s no turning back on it now. I wouldn’t know what to do outside of that, except maybe be a cook. Open a little place, hang paintings on the wall and serve up some food. I could do that.

What sort of music do you like to perform?  Any works we should be, or should have been, looking for?  

I like to perform very simple music with a repetitive structure. Real old story songs. I’d say that everybody should explore Alan Lomax’s field recordings and hear as much of that as possible. He collected music for the Library of Congress, recorded people in their living rooms, on their porches from Appalachia to the Delta to the West to Europe. He recorded prisoners working in chain gangs and longshoreman in Genoa singing acapella on the docks. That’s my favorite kind of music to listen to. Story music told by real people. Start here, Bob Thiele draws on a lot of that music for SOA, actually. Songs like “John the Revelator”, “House of the Rising Sun”, etc. I also love hunting down new bands and love what Elvis Costello and the Roots just recorded. I listen to a whole lot of everything. I love Flamenco. Folks should also revisit the music that was coming out of NYC and the UK around 1975 for some background on what’s happening now, all those amazing bands. I feel like people ought to be aware of the history of where today’s music and performance came from. Take a look at Little Richard when he first hit the scene. Gene Vincent. Buddy Holly. Blind Willie McTell. Glen Gould. Monk. Miles. Django Reinhardt. I think you can learn a lot about people and the world by traveling through the history of music.

We recently spoke with one of your former castmates, Christopher Douglas Reed, who was sadly killed off this season.  Now, your character Chucky has survived a lot during your tenure.  But, obviously nobody is safe from the brilliant mind of Kurt Sutter.  But no matter if Chucky gets offed or survives through the show’s entire existence, what do you think Chucky’s legacy will be when we look back at the show?  What have you wanted to convey to audiences?

I think what Chucky personifies is how a person survives against a whole lot of odds and never complains about it, just finds a way to go on and on, helping those around him as best he can. He’s a totally selfless man who places importance on loyalty, integrity and family in top priority / above himself. The club saved his life. He honors that with how he lives his life. There’s a lot of strength and soul to living like that.

Michael Ornstein2SAMCRO is definitely all about family, friendship, loyalty, etc.  Is there the same kind of feeling behind the scenes amongst the cast and crew? 

Absolutely. Working together on this level for this number of years, traveling through this particular story is a deep experience for all of us. We’re real tight as people, as a cast & crew. It doesn’t get tighter than this. It’s evident in the work we’re doing and how it’s being communicated to fans all over the world, from our hearts to yours.

What exaclty are your fake fingers made of?  Are they easy to function in?

They’re a type of rubber, like thick rubber gloves. They’re made from a mold of my hands, so they’re very comfortable.

You seemed to create quite the buzz with your soon to be legendary kazoo scenes.  How was it filming those scenes?  Could there be a pretty hilarious blooper reel made from shooting the scenes?

The kazoo is an insane instrument. It’s inherently funny that a person would “play” a thing that makes those sounds. It was a pretty integral instrument in the 20’s, actually, with early ragtime. It’s a home-made instrument, like a jug whistle or a wash bucket bass. I love the spirit of that kind of thing. Plus, even with a harmonica, you have to hold it and manipulate it with your hands, unless you’re wearing a neck holder, like Dylan and Neil Young do. A kazoo, you could just stick it in your mouth and go to town, hands-free, which is a perfect instrument for Chucky to express himself with. So, yeah, we had a lot of fun with that kazoo.

I heard that you displayed some of your art at the wonderful Beat Museum in San Francisco.  As a huge Beat fanatic, it behooves me to ask you what you dig about the beats?  Did any writer, or writers, have any direct influence in your own writing and acting?

I embrace the writings of those guys the way I embrace music. I grew up to the sounds of Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac. I come from an Italian / Jewish household and listening to my family speaking and telling stories was like listening to music, too. The music of language has always had a serious impact on me. I first read On the Road when I was about ten or eleven and it sparked something very large inside of me. Hearing the sounds of just being in New York City, when I was a kid, was like swimming inside of a symphony. Reading Kerouac exposed me to the possibilities of what a writer could do with words on a page. Later on in life, I was fortunate to have hung out with Greg Corso and Alan Ginsberg and Herbert Huncke. Alan grew up in Patterson, NJ, a town very close to my hometown of Passaic. We both come from mill towns. Kerouac also grew up in a mill town. There’s something to living around flowing water, I think. Reading those guys when I was a kid and later spending time with them, I related to them a great deal. The show I did at the Beat Museum was about Kerouac in New York City. I settled on six NYC locations that were important to Jack Kerouac and also important to me, and I wrote six poems about those places and painted six paintings, corresponding. So, at the show, I linked the paintings to audio tracks of me reading the poems, via QR Codes, so that people could stand in front of the paintings and listen to the stories. This show can be mounted anywhere. I’m sure I’ll put it up again. Here is the story, online, if you want to check it out,

Original art by Michael Ornstein

Original art by Michael Ornstein

What do you consider to be your greatest non-artistic accomplishment?

Having children with Zoe and raising them to be good people. But, even that’s artistic in some way, right?

What else is in the future for Michael Ornstein?  Do you have any other projects of any sort in the works we should be looking forward to?

I’m going to keep on writing and painting and performing for as long as I’m around.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My children, just now. I smile all the time.

Trainwreck’d Society’s Top 37 1/2 Albums of 2013 [Exclusive]

37halfcoverI know I say this every year but….what a year 2013 was!  We had a great bit of material up on the site for you fine readers this year.  It was especially a great year for the TWS Interview world.  We interviewed everyone from an Oscar Award winning screenwriter to the original April O’Neil from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.  From new school filmmakers making movies about YouTube and shit demons, to legendary filmmakers who have credited such amazing films involving everything from punk rock in Mormon country, Leonard Cohen, and the acclaimed Fokker series.  We even spoke with writers who have touched on everything from the acclaimed Chelsea Hotel during the 80’s and 90’s, to the obsessive compulsions of Alfred Hitchcock.  Yes, we indulged ourselves in the film and literary world quite immensely this year.  But, one of our main focuses will always be on music.  This is our bread, and the film and literary world is our butter.  We wouldn’t be worth a damn if it weren’t for so many fine folks out there spilling their guts through microphones in bedroom closets or glamorous studios with excellent fruit assortments.  Yes, we thrive to honor the masters of the song.

And it was another great year for music in 2013.  Things jumped off pretty quick, with many of the albums in our top ten being released in the first quarter of the year alone.  2013 happens to be one of the most peculiar years Trainwreck’d Society has ever tallied.  We have many folks returning from years past, some debut acts, even a couple of A-List celebrities with some great pipes and strumming abilities. I also broke one of the unspoken laws of year end lists, and included a film soundtrack that was simply too delightful to pass up.  Hip hop music had it’s strongest showing yet to add to the peculiarity.  It goes without saying, that this is one of the most diverse lists we have had to date.  So here it is folks!  I present to you Trainwreck’d Society’s Top 37 1/2 Albums of 2013.

Note: As per usual, the highlighted Artist and Album Titles will contain a link to a related article on the featured artist and/or album.  Enjoy!

37.5 Bobby Joe Ebola & the Children Macnuggits - Meal Deal with the Devil EP


37. Collisionville - The Revenge of Two-Gun Pete 37.  COLLISIONVILLE – THE REVENE OF TWO-GUN PETE

 36. Hailer - Another Way


35. Lonely & The Socialites - Connections 35.  LONELY & THE SOCIALITES – CONNECTIONS

34. Grayskul - Zenith 34.  GRAYSKUL – ZENITH

33. Helene Greenwood - Collectable You 33.  HELENE GREENWOOD – COLLECTABLE YOU

 32. The Fire Tapes - Phantoms


31. The Spin Doctors - If the River Was Whiskey 31.  THE SPIN DOCTORS – IF THE RIVER WAS WHISKEY

 30. The Morrisons - Morrison Brew


 29. George Glass - Welcome Home


 28. Star Anna - Go To Hell


27. She & Him - Volume 3

27.  SHE & HIM – VOLUME 3

 26. Nathan Angelo - Out of the Blue


 25. Sleep - Lockland 95


 24. Brother Dege - How To Kill A Horse


 David Bowie's The Next Day


 22. STRFKR-MiracleMile


21. Electric Needle Room - The Presidents of the United States of America Volume 3 21.  ELECTRIC NEEDLE ROOM – THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA VOLUME 3

20. The Head and the Heart - Let's Be Still 20. THE HEAD AND THE HEART – LET’S BE STILL

19. Joseph Demaree and the Square Tires - Sunbeams 19.  JOSEPH DEMAREE & THE SQUARE TIRES – SUNBEAMS

18. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell - Love Has Come For You 18. STEVE MARTIN & EDIE BRICKELL – LOVE HAS COME FOR YOU

 17. Jack-Wilson-Spare-Key-Cover-w-sticker-420x420


 16. alela-diane_about-farewell


 15. Greetings From Spektor Island


14. The Sea The Sea - Love We Are Love We Are 14.  THE SEA THE SEA – LOVE WE ARE LOVE WE ARE

13. Marshall McLean - Glossolalia - cover 13.  MARSHALL MCLEAN BAND – GLOSSOLALIA


 11. Dedere - Little Ease in the Bell Jar


10. Guilt Monkey - World On A Thread (Songs About Politics and Surfing) 10.  GUILT MONKEY – WORLD ON A THREAD

 9. Sadistik - Flowers For My Father


 8. National Pastime - All Our Yesterdays


7. Lotte Kestner - The Bluebird of Happiness 7.  LOTTE KESTNER – BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS

 6. Cerny Brothers



 4. Blitzen Trapper - VII


3. Cleemann - Different 3.  CLEEMANN – DIFFERENT

 2. There Is No Mountain - There Is No Mountain


1. Bodi - The Fall of Atlas 1. BODI – THE FALL OF ATLAS

Anja McCloskey & Dan Whitehouse: Still EP [Album]

Anja McCloskey & Dan WhitehouseOr old friend with one of the sweetest voices and killer accordion skills in indie rock history, Anja McCloskey, is back once again!  And this time she has brought along the equally brilliant Birmingham (UK) based singer/songwriter Dan Whitehouse to help create the absolutely stunning and beautiful EP they have called Still.  Where Anja’s vocals are almost extravagant and sweetly exasperated, Dan’s soft folk heavy voice follows up with his own brand of sweetness and the delicacy of a dandelion in the light wind.  Seriously, we should feel so fortunate that these two fine folksmiths have found each other, and have shared their talents with the world.

Still is a small collection of tracks that will surely leave you breathless and begging for more when it ends, all too soon.  In fact, the only complaint I can come up with when listening to this album is that there just isn’t more of it!  But that being said, this is a brilliant sample of the treasures that McCloskey and Whitehouse have right on hand and available for you.  It seems trite and ridiculous to try and pick a standout track, but I do have to admit that “Petals” was probably on repeat the most.  It is one of the less complex tracks on the record, but that may very well be what is so damn compelling.  Let it be known, this is one of the finest displays of folk music this writer has heard since Robin Grey’s released our favorite album of 2011, Strangers With Shoes.  And it is not just that Whitehouse’s style is similar to Grey’s, it is that both of these artists are along the same lines of brilliant as him.

And if a few tracks turns out to be just not enough for you as it was for me, you may be in luck!  Well, if you find yourself in the Canada or Germany you will have a few great chances.  The duo will be doing a couple of shows in Anja’s current home country, as well as a nice little Canadian tour.  Check out these dates and see if you can make it!  You really owe it to yourself, you know.

9th January 2014 – House Concert in Kronprinzenkoog (Anja Only, w/Fredrick Kinborn and Mike Kenney)
10th January 2014 – Industriemuseum Elmshorn (Anja Only, w/Fredrick Kinborn and Mike Kenney)
11th January 2014 – The Boat that Rocks, Flensburg (Anja Only, w/Fredrick Kinborn and Mike Kenney)
24th January 2014 – Bozzini’s, Chilliwack, BC, Canada
25th January 2014 – Benoit’s Wine Bar, Revelstoke, BC, Canada

26th January 2014 – Wild Flour Bakery, Banff, AB, Canada
28th January 2014 – Harvest Coffee House, Pincher Creek, AB, Canada, 2pm
29th January 2014 – Centre 64, Kimberley, AB, Canada
30th January 2014 – Cafe Books West, Rossland, BC, Canada, 7pm
31st January 2014 – Minstrel Cafe and Bar, Kelowna, BC, Canada
1st February 2014 – The Art We Are, Kamloops, BC, Canada
2nd February 2014 – Cafe Deux Soleils, Vancouver, BC, Canada

You can also pre-order your copy of Still right HERE.  Official release date is January 20th 2014.