Tag Archives: tony schaab

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5 Songs with Deeper Meaning

With the ever-present and all-encompassing nature of tools like radio stations and online streaming services, listeners have unprecedented access to any and all types of music they could possibly desire.  When planning a wedding, private party, corporate gathering, or any other kind of social event, having a variety of music is key.  But, along with the sound of the songs, there is another important aspect that is often overlooked: the content of the music, specifically what the lyrics of the songs might be saying to the listeners.

Some songs are easy to understand, but lots of music features lyrics that are sung so quickly or take such a back-seat to the overall sound of the song that most folks miss the “real meaning” of the experience entirely.  For every obviously-apparent song like David Allen Coe’s “Take This Job and Shove It” (which I do not recommend playing at corporate functions, for the record), there are a slew of songs whose true meanings aren’t so readily apparent.  In addition to questions about lyrics, many popular songs have back-stories about the how/where/why the songs were written that may not be entirely accurate (but the stories sound good and help to sell copies).  Take, for example, Eric Clapton’s classic ballad “Layla;” while it seems readily apparent that the song was written about a lady in Clapton’s life, it was actually inspired by a classic Persian poem from the 12th Century that Clapton thought would make a good story in song.  I’m sure the mysterious-girl/heartbroken-singer angle sold many more records, though.

In my years of DJ work and music management, I’ve discovered lots of interesting tidbits about many songs that might just surprise you (or at least give you some nuggets of trivia for the next time you’re out at the bar with your friends).  I’ve listed five well-known examples below, and as you’re planning your big event, I recommend that you take the time with songs you might not be familiar with and explore their lyrics and/or back-story in a little greater detail.  By utilizing sites like Lyrics.com and other online resources (as well as consulting directly with your friendly neighborhood DJ), you’ll be able to avoid potential blunders: since approximately 94% of Taylor Swift songs are about break-ups, maybe her songs are not the best picks for your Must-Play list at your wedding, am I right?

Click on the album covers to hear the songs and buy them from Amazon.com

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” IZ

aa-izWe’ll start with a widely-believed “deeper meaning” that actually isn’t accurate.  Hawaiian-born Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, better known simply as “IZ” to the world outside of the island state, became famous worldwide when his 1993 album, Facing Future, was released and featured the now-iconic medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” The acoustic-ukulele song sung and performed by IZ has since been featured in several films, TV shows, commercials, and more; IZ holds the distinction of being the first Hawaiian-born musician to have a platinum album, although the honor sadly came years after his death due to obesity in 1997.  It’s often talked about and believed by many casual listeners that the medley was created by IZ while he was dying as something for his daughter to remember him by; sadly, this appears to be one of those tales that “sounds nice” but isn’t accurate.  The song was released four years before he passed away, and the producer of the album has actually stated that the song was a last-minute addition to the record in order to (hopefully) boost recognition and sales.  The “daughter/tribute” story sounds lots better, though, doesn’t it?  Let’s just pretend that’s the real reason.

“Gangnam Style” Psy

PsyThis one may not necessarily be a “deeper,” but since the lyrics are predominantly sung in Korean, most of the English-speaking world is left to wonder what exactly Psy is singing about in his very catchy song – and the singer’s crazy horse-dancing antics in the song’s video don’t exactly shed a lot of light on the subject.  The explanation is actually a simple one: Gangnam is the name of a very wealthy and trendy district in the city of Seoul, South Korea, so “Gangnam Style” is meant to convey an aura of hip-ness and a lavish lifestyle.  The American equivalent would essentially be a song called “Beverly Hills Style.”  The refrain of the song, “Oppan Gangnam Style,” roughly translates from Korean as simply “I am Gangnam Style,” with Psy self-referentially poking fun at himself by saying that he is being trendy while doing such idiotic things in the song’s video.  As he himself said in a recent interview with CNN, “People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are – it’s only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are ‘Gangnam Style’ – so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying very hard to be something that they’re not.”

“Semi-Charmed Life” Third Eye Blind

aa-3ebIf you spent any of your teen or twentysomething years in the late 1990s or early 2000s, you are undoubtedly familiar with 3EB’s insanely catchy rock-pop anthem, and let’s be honest, you’re probably already repeating the doo-doo-doo, doo-duh-doo-doo chorus in your head (if you weren’t before, you are now – you’re welcome).  But once you get past the upbeat melody and have a chance to slow down those quick-fire lyrics, you’ll start to see that the actual content of the song is not all sunshine and roses.  With versed content like “Chop another line like a coda with a curse,” “I was taking sips of it through my nose,” and the just-in-case-you-were-confused “Doing crystal myth, will lift you up until you break // And then I bumped up, I took the hit that I was given Then I bumped again, then I bumped again I said…,” very little is left to the imagination here.  Lead singer Stephan Jenkins has said that “Semi-Charmed Life” was written as a response to Lou Reed’s classic 1970s song “Walk on the Wild Side,” whose lyrics spoke in detail about drugs, prostitution, and sex, among other taboo topics.  It’s important to note that Jenkins was not necessarily talking about his personal experiences with drug use; regardless of the inspiration, the song is a great example of deeper meanings in lyrics that are just waiting for the “average listener” to glaze over them.

“Hotel California” The Eagles

aa-eaglesOn the surface, this classic ‘70s rock song describes the title establishment as a high-class resort where “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”  The lyrics of the song seem to illustrate either the mental state of travelers who enjoy luxury accommodations on their vacation and will never forget how great the experience was, or a tall tale about a fatigued traveler who becomes trapped in a nightmarishly-extravagant hotel.  According to multiple interviews and retrospectives from the band members, however, the song is an allegory about hedonism, self-destruction, and greed in the music industry of the late 1970s. In an interview with Rolling Stone, lead singer Don Henley called the song “our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles” (none of the members of the band were originally from California) and later reiterated “it’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.”

“California Girls” The Beach Boys

aa-bbAt the risk of hitting you with too much to do with The Golden State, a song as well-known as this one simply has to make the list.  After all, it is not only one of the Boys’ most famous songs, but both The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone has listed “California Girls” on their (separate) lists as One of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  The tune was primarily written by lead singer Brian Wilson during his first LSD trip, but that in itself isn’t the most intriguing part of the song; we’ve all probably heard it played countless times, but I’m not sure that most of us realize what the song is actually saying. The song’s hook, “I wish they all could be California girls,” is most easily interpreted as the band professing how much they love their home-state gals and how much they would like all the girls of the world to be just like their West-Coast versions.  But maybe – just maybe – the true meaning of the song is the exact opposite; what if the Boys are really indicating that they don’t like the ladies in their area, that every other part of the globe has far more awesome girls and the band wishes that all those gals lived closer to them?  The lyrics in the rest of the song certainly are confusing, as some verses sing the praises of females in other geographical regions but other lines profess the band’s love to get back home to “the cutest girls in the world.”  So, which is it?  Well, according to separate interviews with Wilson and Mike Love, it’s a little of both; says Love in a 1992 interview for Goldmine, “We’d been to Hawaii, we’d been to Australia. We’d been all around the [world] and I just thought the neat thing about the United States was that all these girls from all over the world were living here. And that was the premise of the song. Some people confuse it with thinking that we were extolling the virtues of simply California girls but if you listen to the lyrics it’s about girls from all over the [country].”  So, there you go – USA!  USA!

books

Top Things to Consider when Picking a Publisher

Hi folks!  I thought I’d share a little bit about some things I’ve learned in my few years of being an author having multiple books and short stories published.  There are a lot of different kinds and types of publishers out there, and not all of them strike a good balance between wanting both their company and their authors to be professionally and financially successful.  Especially with smaller or independent publishers, it can be a daunting task separating the “knights in shining armor” from the plain old shysters.  I’ve had my dealings with both kinds, and I’d like to share with you a few insights and things to look for that I’ve discovered along the way.  Any feedback you may care to share is welcomed via the comments section below!

Top Things to Consider when Picking a Publisher

  1. What do their other books look like?  Take a moment to look around the publisher’s website (WARNING: if a publisher doesn’t have a dedicated website for their company, they are missing out on a key way to sell the books they publish) or search their books on Amazon.  Do the covers of the publishers’ other books look like a cover you would want on your book?  Most companies use only one or a small handful of cover artists, so the odds are good that (if you decided to publish with this company) the cover for your book will have a similar design or theme as the already-for-sale books.  It’s true what they say: “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but in an increasingly populated marketplace, a shoddy cover is a surefire way to make potential buyers pass you right by without even bothering to discover what your book is about.
  2. How are their other books doing in sales?  This is not always a perfect indicator, but if you hop on Amazon and see that all the books from this publisher are languishing at the 2-million-ranking mark or higher, odds are good that not a lot of promotion for these books (and, in turn, yours when it comes out) is going on.  On the flip side, if you see good sales numbers, the company could definitely be doing some excellent marketing to go along with a solid book.  Of course, an author can many times go out and whip up a sales storm, so make sure to take those numbers with a grain of salt; go out and pick up a copy of a magazine that is specific to the genre you are writing in (for example, if your book is horror, than go grab a Fangoria or Rue Morgue) and see if the company has any ads out there.  Of course, the easiest way to get direct book sales numbers – if you have the gumption – is to simply ask the publisher directly for this information.
  3. Does the publisher have a publicly-noted good/bad reputation?  Visit an online forum or author’s club, or once again hit up Amazon and take a look at the conversation threads attached to any of the publisher’s book’s pages.  The website Preditors & Editors is a great resource to find honest information from other authors as well.  Good publishers will have people singing their praises; bad publishers will have people with many horror stories to tell you.  Both kinds may be slightly embellished, but you can usually take any trends you find out there as a pretty solid indicator of the truth.
  4. What are the terms of the deal they are offering?  This seems simple enough, but in reality there is actually quite a bit to consider here.  In addition to how much money per book you will make (and NEVER take an agreement that asks you for money up-front!), be sure to find out how many free copies of your book you will get sent to you upon release, and what kind of a discount you can have if you order extra copies of your book.  Be sure to note the length of time you will receive royalties and how long the book remains “exclusive” with the publisher.  Most publishers will offer you royalties from book sales for a set amount of time (3, 5, or 10 years, as some standard examples) but will ask to keep the book in their library “for as long as there is public demand for the title” (i.e., forever).  After your royalty period ends, I strongly encourage you to ensure the contract states that the exclusive rights also end, allowing you to sell the book on your own or publish it with another company, even if a version stays with the original publisher – you should always be able to get paid for your book!
  5. Are they professional in their communication with you?  This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the kind of things a publisher may say to you in your e-mail or phone call communication.  Good manners, mutual respect, and excitement about your work are key – also of great importance, that a publisher is well-spoken and knows correct grammar and spelling!  I used to work with a publisher who wrote the most haphazard e-mails you’d ever see: line breaks at the wrong place, misspellings so plentiful I’d sometimes be confused as to what was being said, and not a single capital letter to be found.  If a person who runs a “professional” company can’t even be bothered to present as professional to you, how do you think he/she treats the products (i.e., your book)?  Also of note: be wary of someone who constantly badmouths other authors/publishers/companies.  If he/she speaks so unprofessionally and poorly about people he/she doesn’t work with, how do you know he/she doesn’t say the same about you to others?

Hopefully these pieces of information will be helpful to you as you go on your search for the “right” publisher.  There are many out there, so take your time and don’t necessarily feel the need to jump on the first offer you get simply because it’s there.  You know the value of your work – make sure you get your fair slice of the pie!

“May-berry” is coming!

Howdy folks! Another busy week in the bank, but I wanted to take a moment here on this holiday to, first and foremost, say Happy Easter to everyone out there, and also give you all a brief update on what’s been keeping me occupied as of late. So let’s get right to it, eh?

Jonathan MaberryThe G.O.R.E. Score is gearing up for another special event next month, and one that I’m really excited about. During the month of May, I’ll only be reviewing items written by NY-Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry! Jonathan is an incredibly talented writer, and he’s infinitely personable and always willing to connect with his fans directly, as evidenced by his many hours spent posting and replying to messages on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Jonathan has written fiction and non-fiction novels, as well as been a featured writer on many zombie (and non-zombie)-centric comic books, so May will still give everyone a good dose of different media types, even though they’ll all be written by the same author.

As a special treat for everyone, Jonathan has graciously agreed to wrap up “May-berry” by being The G.O.R.E. Score’s first-ever guest reviewer! Although we’re keeping the finer details under wraps until we actually post the review at the end of next month, suffice it to say Jonathan will be wowing you not only with his writing skills but with his knowledge of zombies as well. It’s easily an event you won’t want to miss!

In addition to May featuring Jonathan, who was my “Award-Winning Author” counterpart in this year’s Dead Letter Awards (he won the Shambler award, the lifetime achievement award for excellence in the zombie community, and I won the Fresh Meat award for best newcomer to the genre), May is also the final month for the Great G.O.R.E. Giveaway! We’re giving away TONS of zombie books, movies, and more, including the Grand Prize of a brand-new Nook eReader! There’s no purchase necessary to enter and you can get multiple entries! To learn more about the competition and enter to win, click here to visit the “Win Stuff” page on The G.O.R.E. Score site.

May’s going to be a great month at The G.O.R.E. Score! I hope to see you all there!

Call for submissions: new anthology now open!

Anyone who is familiar with Ed Wood’s “classic” 1959 film Plan 9 from Outer Space knows that the sometimes-nefarious aliens and their ninth attempt to destroy humanity didn’t quite work out.  But what we don’t know is this: what were the first eight Plans?  When did they happen?  What did they entail?  How and why did they all fail?

This brand-new anthology will seek to answer those questions.  With Wood’s original film being a public-domain title and a “serious” remake of the movie currently in production, the time is right for the world to know what happened on those fateful days, months, and years leading up to the events shown in the original Plan 9.

WHAT IT IS: Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 from Outer Space will take place within the continuity of the universe originally established by Ed Wood’s 1959 film Plan 9 from Outer Space.  It will contain eight different stories, each tale detailing one of the 8 plans attempted and failed by the aliens.  It will also contain a Prologue and an Epilogue, written by me, to not only help bind the stories together but to also tie the stories in to the original film.

WHAT WE WANT: A unique story set in any point in history, from the beginning of time up through 1959, that focuses on and describes one and only one of the eight Plans.  This is important to note; stories that do not meet this very important requirement will not be considered for inclusion.  So, as an example, if you have a story in mind that tells the tale of the first two Plans, your story will not work; while you can write about other plot points and story lines, the main focus of your tale should be one plan only.

WHAT YOU GET: Each of the eight authors selected to have their stories included in the book will receive a one-time payment of $50.00 and one free author’s copy of the book upon its release.

DETAILS:

  • Stories can be written from a variety of standpoints (the aliens, human civilians/military, etc.) and may include elements of one or more genres (horror, science fiction, humor, etc.).
  • Word count must firmly fall between 7,000-10,000 words; stories that are longer or shorter than this set guideline will be returned to the author unread.
  • It is YOUR CHOICE if you decide to write your Plan as one that could be any of the eight Plans OR if you reference the Plan you are writing about as a specifically-numbered plan.  That is to say, if you are dead-set that the story you are creating is about the very first plan, Plan 1, that is fine; just know that in doing so, you will not only be up against all stories written as a non-numbered Plan but are also directly competing with all other stories submitted that were specifically written as Plan 1.
  • IMPORTANT: Please submit your story as a Word Document (.doc) or an RTF file (.rtf).  DO NOT use fancy fonts anywhere in the document; use a general font such as Arial, Times New Roman, or other “normal” font.  Please double-space, number your pages, and put the following information at the top of the first page: your name, your e-mail address, your phone number, story word count, and story title if you have one (titles may or may not be used in the final version of the book).  If your story was written to be a specific Plan number, please include that information as well.

The DEADLINE for submissions for this anthology is 11:59pm EST on Thursday, September 15, 2011.

NO MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS and NO REPRINTS will be considered for this anthology.  Since the nature of these stories is so specialized, we are seeking your one best, unique tale; take as much time as you need before the deadline to make your story the absolute best that it can be.

     Plan 9 from Outer Space is a public-domain movie and as such is available for free and legal download from a variety of sites, and it is also available on DVD.  I HIGHLY encourage anyone who is planning on submitting a story to watch the original film before you begin writing, in order to re-familiarize yourself with the storyline and details that Ed Wood has established for this universe, in addition to fully understanding why the aliens are attacking the humans (the reason is given towards the end of the film).

Send all submissions to tony@tonyschaab.com.  Please make the body of your e-mail a brief cover letter, outlining any previous works or publications you wish me to be aware of.  I will send an e-mail confirming receipt of story, but will not be offering any acceptances or rejections until after the submission deadline has passed.

Any further questions you may have surrounding the nature or specifics of this project, feel free to send them to me at the e-mail address above or post them on this thread, as I will be checking back often.  Thank you, and I look forward to reading your creations!

–Tony Schaab

Write for The G.A.S.P. Factor!

Attention writers of all ages and status!

 I’m Tony Schaab, creator of the award-winning review site www.TheGOREScore.com, and I’m embarking on a brand-new review project set to launch soon.  Unlike The G.O.R.E. Score, of which I am the sole author and reviewer, for this new project I’m searching for a talented team of a select few authors to join in routinely reviewing general-horror and science-fiction cinema!

The new project is called The G.A.S.P. Factor, and will be located online at http://www.thegaspfactor.com/.  Much like The G.O.R.E. Score, The G.A.S.P. Factor will provide readers with a detailed review, called Factor Files, centered around four distinct categories.  The intent is that the reviews will be less centered on the reviewer’s opinion alone and moreso on the breakdown of the four different sections, leading to a professional and detailed review that will help set The G.A.S.P. Factor apart from other review sites.

What does this mean for you as a writer and potential Factor File staff member?  Not only will you be a part of a ground-breaking new site that is based on a review system with a proven history of success, you will also gain a new avenue for publication!  The G.O.R.E. Score is not only an award-winning website, but the reviews featured on the site have been packaged into a best-selling book series.  “The G.O.R.E. Score: A Review Guide to All Things Zombie, Vol. 1” has been as high as #18 on Amazon’s Reviews and Guides list, and Volume 2 in the series recently completely sold out its initial preview printing for the HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis.  In this same vein, The G.A.S.P. Factor will be printed as a companion book series and is expected to see much of the same success that its sister series, The G.O.R.E. Score, has.

In addition to all this, there will be a revenue-sharing option built into the contract for any writers brought on to The G.A.S.P. Factor project, so not only will you be a part of an amazing new review site, you will also be a published author with the opportunity to earn additional income based on the book’s success!

I’ll be asking only a select few authors to join me on this endeavor.  To inquire about how you can submit a written audition piece to be considered as one of the new G.A.S.P. Factor staff writers, send an inquiry e-mail to me at tony@tonyschaab.com, and I will respond with specifics regarding your next step.  This is a first-offered, first-served opportunity; I am looking to put the writing staff in place as soon as I have found the few authors whose submissions are approved and have signed their contracts, so DON’T DELAY!  E-mail me today and see if you’ve got what it takes to write for The G.A.S.P. Factor!  I look forward to hearing from you.

HorrorHound Indianapolis!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to make a quick entry tonight, at the end of a looong by great weekend.

This weekend was the big HorrorHound convention here in Indianapolis, the “biggest in the Midwest” as proclaimed by the HH folks. Although this was my first horror convention and don’t have anything to compare it to, I’d have to say that the claim is probably well-founded, because there were TONS of people there all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! The weekend was an absolute blast from start to finish.

It was also an amazingly-great commercial success for me. I went equipped with many copies of my books, and not only did I make my first sale 30 minutes into the convention, I am proud to say that I sold over 50 books this weekend! I completely sold out of “Reviews of the Dead” by Saturday afternoon, and all my copies of “The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 2″ (not yet released to the public and sporting a convention-only alternate cover) was sold out very early on Sunday. I gave away tons of free TheGOREScore.com bookmarks, and the site has already seen a significant uptcik in visitors this weekend.

The convention wasn’t all about sales, of course. I made a lot of great industry contacts, successfully pitched an anthology idea to Doc Pus at the Library of the Living Dead that I will be editing – more details on this project coming soon! – and got to meet some true horror greats, including Jeffery Combs, Ken Foree, and Norman Reedus. After I chatted him up and told him about my work, Jeffery Combs called me a “horror aficionado” and said that I was doing “amazing work” – hello, Vol. 3 cover quote! :) Still blowing my mind is the fact that Norman Reedus, star of “The Boondock Saints” film and “The Walking Dead” TV show, CAME BY MY TABLE and said hello – it made an amazing weekend even that more incredible.

I am absolutely exhausted, so I’ve got a few website updates to do and then it’s off to bed, but there will be more ecsiting updates coming soon, so stay tuned for more info coming your way very soon. I’ll leave you with pictures of me and my amazing connections this weekend! (Click them to see the much larger versions.) Until next time, friends…!

Jeffery Combs and I
Ken Foree and I
Norman Reedus and I

“May-Berry” is coming, plus lots more!

Hello friends! I hae a few big piese of news to share with you, so let’s get right to it.

Jonathan MaberryFirst and foremost: the month of May on TheGOREScore.com will be devoted to New York Times best-selling author and recent Dead Letter “Lifetime Achievement Award” recipient Jonathan Maberry! During “May-berry,” The G.O.R.E. Score will be exclusively reviewing some of Maberry’s best-known works, including Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead, Patient Zero, Rot & Ruin (the 2010 Dead Letter Award winner for Best Fiction Novel), and others.

In addition to these exciting reviews, The G.O.R.E. Score is proud to welcome Maberry as the site’s first-ever guest reviewer! Maberry will be reviewing a piece of zombie media of his choosing, following the traditional G.O.R.E. review format established by Score creator Tony Schaab. I am both honored and humbled by Jonathan’s acceptance of this exciting collaboration – May can’t come soon enough!

Speaking of that month: going on right now through the end of May is the Great G.O.R.E. Giveaway, where the site is offering readers multiple chances to win tons of different zombie prizes (books, movies, comics, and more), including the grand prize of a brand-new Nook eReader! Details of the competition can be found online at http://thegorescore.com/win-stuff/ so please take a moment to stop by and find out how you can enter multiple times to increase your odds of winning!

Last but certainly not least: any readers who may be attending the huge HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis next weekend (March 25-27) can stop by The G.O.R.E. Score table to say hello! I’ll be selling acopies of all my books, including the not-yet-released “The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 2″ with an EXCLUSIVE limited-edition variant cover, an homage to the classic “Evil Dead” poster. There will only be 25 copies of this limited-edition version available, and this is the ONLY place to buy Vol. 2 right now.

More big news coming down the pipeline in the next few weeks, including a brand-new review project that will be of special interest to authors and reviewers looking to expand their portfolio! Until next time…!

-Tony