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Category Archives: video

Crushing On: Smart Girls at the Party

E and I joke that in our relationship she contributes most of the food discovery, while I chip in most of the media. She finds fresh foods, new snacks, and recipes, while I unearth new bands, programs, and news.

Lately we have slightly flipped the script, with me signing up for a CSA and E getting more connected with the women in tech movement. Which is how I walked downstairs the other day to find her watching this:

(If you can’t see the embed, you can watch the episode elsewhere.)

I sat down. I laughed and cried. I was delighted.

That’s an episode of Smart Girls at the Party, an unusual and awesome internet talk-show hosted by Amy Poehler of SNL and Parks and Rec. The show’s mission statement is “Extraordinary individuals changing the world by being themselves.”

What that boils down to is Amy Poehler interviewing young women who are trying and succeeding at anything and everything they want to do.

“We wanted to represent real female friends and celebrate that stage of life where you write down what you want to be when you get older, before too many people tell you no,” Poehler said. “And we poke fun at the talk-show format a little bit, taking very silly things very seriously. This is like ‘Charlie Rose’ for a younger audience.”

…”We wanted something to feel bite-sized and positive and I do think that there’s some lack of celebration of the unique, original girl,” Poehler told the Daily News. “So in some ways, it was a response to that. But, honestly, we really wanted to do a talk show that had a dance party at the end.”

I am not a fanatic about Poehler, but here her typical deadpan delivery makes for hilariously honest interactions with the wide age-group of her guests. She never condescends or jokes at their expense. Actually, she builds them up as characters and experts by interviewing them from a place of delighted naivete.

Despite being a major feminist, I’m always unsure when it comes to girl-centric programming – whether that’s curricular or in media. On one hand, I know girls need to get away from the shadow and influence of boys in educational and social settings so they can grow up with equal footing. On the other, girls-only can be a ghetto, and it can serve not only to over-shelter girls but also exclude the inquisitive, equality-minded boys that form the other half of a equal-opportunity world.

It’s a tough line to tread, and I feel like Smart Girls at the Party really gets it right. It’s a show I would share with girls or boys, and I’m sure they would both find it equally delightful – it just happens to feature the empowered young women who will change the world tomorrow by being themselves today.

Best of all, it’s a reminder that smart girls at the party are often the coolest ones in the room.

A Moment of Krisis

Watch as I talk about my “obsessive collectorism” and my Quixotic quest for the perfect set of coasters.

What an example of something you’re obsessed with collecting? What thing did you pass up the chance to buy that you wish you could go back in time to purchase?

A Moment of Krisis

Watch as I answer one of my friend’s recent Facebook Poll queries: “Is pure altruism real? Do people ever do anything out of concern for others that is completely independent of their own self-interest?”

I know my examples of altruism aren’t exactly the work of Mother Theresa, but my point still stands – I think even when we do the best possible thing for someone else we get something for ourselves, even if it’s just a bit of satisfaction.

Do you agree? Can you think of something altruistic that you do totally free of any psychological reward for yourself?

A Moment of Krisis

Watch as I answer today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt: “When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?”

Somehow I don’t forsee these getting any more serious.

What I didn’t say in my moment is that I’ve also always been obsessed with the idea of permanence and archiving everything, so it makes sense that I don’t like to write things in pen – much harder to back up that way!

What about you? Are you a pen and pad devotee, even in our digital age, or would you happily elect to forget the dying artform that is cursive handwriting?

A Moment of Krisis

Watch as I answer today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt: “Can you listen to music and write?”

You’re probably not surprised at my answer, although you are maybe a little terrified of my animal voices. Do you listen to music while you write, or do you find it distracting?

A Moment of Krisis

Watch as I answer today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt: “If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?”

Clearly I have an affinity for fish. What would you want your last meal to be? Is it a specific dish like mine, or a entire genre of cuisine?

A Moment of Krisis

Watch as I answer today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt: “What is your favorite part about writing?”

Now you know my favorite part. What’s yours? When did you first start writing just to write?

Better (excerpt) – Arcati Crisis, Live @ Rehearsal

I keep crowing about how we have a new bass player in Arcati Crisis, but what I have been slightly mum on is that Jake the Bassman is also a formidable singer. He was the other baritone in our erstwhile professional acappella group, and one of my go-to companions for heading out to open mic nights.

Gina and I being the hardcore harmony freebasing addicts that we are, it was only a matter of time until we used Jake to upgrade one of our duets to three-part harmony.

Behold, our first successful attempt on “Better,” with harmony as arranged by Arcati Crisis with the help of my dear wife, E:

When I first started learning to play music I had a free guitar tab notation program, and I would spend endless hours entering my favorite songs into it. In many cases I was notating them in ways that would be unplayable by one, two, or even three guitars.

I didn’t care. I wanted to hear the harmony. I would set the midi patch on “vocal oohs” and pretend that a group of singers were crooning the song back at me. How amazing, I thought, that people could make chords with their voices like I do on my guitar.

(This perhaps explains my obsession with acappella groups.)

That version of Peter barely knew what notes were portrayed on a treble clef, and couldn’t hit one if his life depended on it.

Fifteen years later, three part harmony, exactly like my speakers sang to me back in the 90s.

I love making past versions of me proud to be grown up :)

Video Demo: “End With Me”

Last night Gina and I held an epic Arcati Crisis rehearsal with our drummer Zina. We’ve worked our way up to eight drummed up tunes, and now we’re adding other special features like electric guitars and effects pedals.

We’re going to figure out this band thing, one way or another.

Meanwhile, I spent seemingly every free moment of yesterday singing the arpeggio D-F#-A-D-F#-A-D, which spans all the good bits of my singing range. However, on a weird set of vowels the top D can be a bit of a beast to get on top of, and of course I wrote myself just such a troublesome set of sounds when I penned “End With Me” shortly after posting about Eric Smith on Sunday night.

Can bad vowels stop me? Hell no. I mean, have you heard some of the audio on here from ten years ago? Not even bad singing can stop me.

Anyhow, here is a late-night first take on “End With Me,” another song from my soundtrack to Eric’s novel, Textual Healing. This tune has a slew of references to the book, including some specific lines. The recording has plenty of rough edges, but it sounds right, and I’ll take rough and right over mannered and plasticine any day of the week.

(Okay, not really, but let’s just think that for the purposes of this post.)

(Watch the video on Facebook, where I occasionally demo brand new tunes for my likers. Also, you can read the lyrics there.)

How Eric Smith rocked my world.

Story time.

A few weeks ago Britt Miller, my partner in all things FAME, posted a link to the first segment of Eric Smith‘s “podiobook” – a podcasted audiobook version of his forthcoming novel Textual Healing with Britt contributing a special voice-acting appearance.

Eric Smith was one of those people that everyone I know knew, but I did not. Still, I occasionally followed his adventures on Twitter, which is what one does these days when you don’t know someone everyone else knows and you want to know why they all knew him already.

It turns out they mostly know him from running Geekadelphia, editing uwishunu, and working for Quirk Books (of Pride and Predjudice and Zombies fame). Eric’s also a professor and a music photographer who spent time touring with a number of bands.

I knew about a lot of those things separately, but didn’t know Eric connected them. I was intrigued – by Eric, by the idea of the advance podiobook, by Britt’s appearance in it, and by hearing Eric’s voice read his work – so I listened. And in the span of about an hour of my on-and-off listening to the podcast, a song popped out…

(watch the video on Facebook, where I sometimes demo sneak peeks of new tunes before releasing them anywhere else)

…so, doing what any DIY songwriter would do after midnight having just moments ago written a new song for a book by someone he knew only through his extended circle of friends, I recorded my first run-through, posted it to my Facebook page at two in the morning, and tagged Eric in it – off-handedly suggesting it was the first of a number of songs I’d write for his novel.

That resulted in Eric commenting “♥!” about eight hours later, which in turn lead to an email exchanges with the extremely genial Mr. Smith, who now I suppose I finally know directly instead of just knowing of via the knowledge of other people I know. Eric sent me an advance copy of Textual Healing and I am now committed (personally, not by contract or gentleman’s agreement or anything) to write at least four songs for the soundtrack of his book.

I just finished my second tune a few minutes ago, but this time there’ll be no insta-video. The phrases are so darn long that I’ll need to do voice exercise for a few days before I can get from breath mark to breath mark on the verses.

I’m happy to finally know who Eric is, and to have his passion project inspire some passion mirrored in me. Head to his blog, Eric Smith Rocks, to catch up on the first few episodes of the podiobook, and keep your eyes and ears open here for more tunes.

PS: About ten minutes after I posted this I wrote another song. Three down! One to go!

28 years, 51 weeks: pt. 4

Thursday, September 16, 2010. 28 years, 51 weeks, 2 days.

When I packed meticulously for our gig I wasn’t considering the half mile walk up slight hill to the trolley.

Well, I was considering it pretty hard when I set foot out the door with my guitar, a canvas beach bag of clothing, a display box of free discs, and a boombox loaded with my voice exercises.

That’s my life. I mused it as I dragged my belongings uphill to the trolley line, and I mused it again nine hours later while singing my vocal warmups in an empty office while rain started to obscure my view of the city.

Backstage @ The Tin Angel, 9/16/2010

It felt a little odd to be singing my silly warmups at the office – they aren’t meant to sound good, and I was nervous that some late-working colleague would think I was actually a horrible singer despite all my crowing about voice lessons. By the end of the tape my voice felt good and sure – a welcome relief after being allergy-ravaged the day before.

Maybe the gig wouldn’t be so bad afterall.

Being me, I timed it perfectly – my voice tape would end and I’d have five minutes to pack up and catch a cab to our sound check at the Tin Angel.

So, of course, literally the second the tape finished our building’s fire alarm began to sound its klaxon. Between ear-splitting rings, a calm voice intoned, “Stand by for instructions. Do not use elevators.”

Do not use elevators. I was carrying 40+ pounds of personal belongings 38 stories above the ground. Stairs were not so much an option.

I sat on the ground in our elevator lobby, festooned with guitar, beach bag, display case, and boom box, as the klaxon rang on. Three minutes. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Surely if it wasn’t a drill I’d be dead by now. Continue reading ›

Monday Music: Alexandra Day, live @ Psalm Salon

Monday here is a little dreary, so I brought you a concert!

Alexandra Day is on my short-list of “must see” artists in Philly, and this Saturday she played her first full-band show in ages.

Alexandra has been an artist I’ll cancel plans to see ever since her album No Castles No Moats was my top LP of 2008 (and not just of local artists). However, my Saturday night outing was unscuttleable – Gina and I were booked to bash through our entire set of songs at Collingswood’s 2nd Saturday.

That meant I was obligated to miss what would otherwise be an unmissable show – Alexandra and her band at PSALM Salon, a 70-seat venue that’s an audiophile heaven.

Luckily, PSALM streams all their shows, which means you can spend your lunch break with Alexandra Day.

Me? I’ll probably save it to savor with a glass of wine this evening

(The only way to reliably keep track of Alexandra’s comings and goings is to sign up for her email list which – paradoxically – only seems to exist in person. I will pester her tonight to ascertain if there’s a digital way to sign up.)

Guest-starring with Filmstar

Some things I learned about myself on Saturday, while performing my first gig as substitute-bassist with E’s band Filmstar.

  1. I am not actually a bass player.

  2. I am way hotter playing bass than I am playing guitar.
  3. No matter how much I beat myself up about #1, I can’t even pick out most of my flubs on rewatch unless I was making a nasty face while flubbing.
  4. I’m not actually conflicted about Filmstar.

That last one is the big news and the big surprise. When I last wrote last Friday I was wistful, thinking ahead to my imminent replacement in the band.

Before more blather, please witness our first public performance of my current favorite Filmstar tune, “Fall From the Sky.”

(I know, I’m using my first finger for everything. One step at a time, folks.)

Shortly after that performance I neatly resolved my conflicting emotions over a pint of Abita Purple Haze, a rare beer I will stop my life to drink.

Basically, I realized that – though I love both Filmstar’s songs and sound – what I really love is playing in a full, happy, committed band, with a chance to be significant without always doing the heaviest lifting in the band.

I’m incredibly happy to continue to do that with Filmstar as a bassist or in some other capacity, and I let the band know that in no uncertain terms. I do love their songs and their sound, and if I can push that further I’m all for it!

At the same time, I have to find a way to make my own music into something where I don’t have to be the heaviest lifter all of the time. Am I ever going to cede lead vocals? No – dueting with Gina is the closest I’ll come. But having a drummer, or other instrumentalists? Yes, that would take the pressure off of me – the constant beating myself up and assuming I’m not yet ready for primetime.

That’s what I love about Filmstar – that on Saturday I was not sure I was ready for primetime, but they were sure for me, and it turned out I was.

On the way home I asked E if I could be vain for a few minutes, and I put on the recordings of Gina and I playing Arcati Crisis tunes with Chaz on drums last fall. I’m still in love with them – in love with a recording of me almost a year later! That nearly never happens.

That’s what I want. I’ve got it with Filmstar for the moment, and that’s awesome. But this year I’m going to find it for myself as well.

House Concert Highlights: Madonna, Mieka, & Elise

OMG you guys, you missed the best night ever. But don’t worry – I recorded it all for you!

Last night I supported Mieka Pauley at our first ever house concert, which was also ostensibly the CK 10th Anniversary Show. It was amazing. I had a great time playing songs I usually think are pretty hard, and Mieka was both flawless and real several feet away from my sofa.

Here’s two highlights I will treasure forever…

<a rel="nofollow" href="">Ray of Light (live) by Peter Marinari</a>
I cover “Ray of Light” for the first time ever, on my baritone guitar, which I had only figured out how to do about 24 hours prior.


Mieka plays her spectacular tune “Colossal” with impromptu, unrehearsed harmony from Elise, my wife and lead singer of Filmstar.


There’s way, way more where that came from. Also, my blog turns 10 in three days.

Did I mention that all happened IN MY LIVING ROOM.


OK Go and the Substitute Person

Last week I posted about the fantasy of being a substitute person – filling in perfectly for a favorite band with none of the risk of being the permanent solution.

This weekend I saw the phenomenon in action when OK Go pulled a fan out of the audience to play “Here It Goes Again” with them on stage.

(Afterwards, OK Go was impressed by Eric’s performance, noting, “Most people think they know how to play it because they played it on Guitar Hero.”)

As amazing as it is to be the substitute person, it also uniquely rewarding to watch a substitute person succeed at their task. It’s as once-in-a-lifetime for an audience member as it as for the substitute!

My favorite substitute person memory is from 2002. Guster played our Drexel Spring Jam, and a young flautist in the audience convinced them to bring him on stage to play the flute parts at the end of “Fa Fa.”

Not only did he play the exact flute part from the album, he played arrangements of the horn parts and sang backing vocals.

That remains one of my favorite concert memories of all time.