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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? Continue reading 5 Songs with Deeper Meaning

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Theater Review: “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”

Dare to be different, I always say.

I love to actively seek out and experience the unique, the quirky, the off-the-beaten-path type of stuff, especially in the world of fine arts and entertainment.  While radio is attempting to shove what they want to be the “next big thing” down the public’s throat, I scour music sites like eMusic, CDBaby, and (to a lesser extent) iTunes, trying to find artists and bands that I actually want to listen to based on my own personal preferences, not what someone else is telling me to do.  I can use wonderful independent or wider-ranging film services like Vimeo or Netflix Instant to find lesser-known movies and hidden gems that aren’t afforded the luxury of national marketing campaigns.  Amazing authors working with a smaller press or self-publishing their work are just a few clicks away from discovery on sites like Smashwords, Goodreads, and of course Amazon.  Finding that singular, largely-unknown and under-rated slice of goodness really makes me feel like I’m privy to something special, something that I can confidently tell others about and proudly say “’I found this first…I found this on my own.”

That’s my feeling in a nutshell about “Debbie Does Dallas,” the stage-musical version of the kitsch-tastic 1970s pseudo-porn movie of the same name.  The iteration I had the pleasure to witness is currently running on stage here in Indianapolis, at Theater on the Square on Mass Ave.  The fine folks at TOTS are no strangers to pushing the envelopes with their shows, as I having at one time performed in a TOTS production while being on stage in nothing but a dance belt, a well-placed marijuana leaf, and a smile, can directly attest to.  “Debbie” tells a familiar tale: a young, bright-eyed and innocent youth goes on a voyage of self-discovery and personal change while trying to follow a dream.

The only difference between “Debbie” and Shakespeare, really, is that Debbie’s dream is to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, the “’personal change”’ she and her fellow high-school cheerleaders go through is more related to hormones than anything else, and their voyage of self-discovery is just that, in the most literal and physical sense.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, both the show and the cast are clearly having a great time letting loose in front of the audience.  The content itself is intrinsically cheesy and entertaining – the story is firmly entrenched in the free-wheelin’ 1970s and there’s no getting around it – but it’s the surprisingly nuanced performances by the cast that really bring the show’s irresistible charm to life.  Performing live comedy, especially the goofy, out-of-your-natural-element kind, is incredibly hard to do, and the actors and actresses in “Debbie” all shine in their own ways, playing to their characters’ singular quirks.

In the title role of Debbie, Emily Bohannon exudes the perfect balance of innocence and a growing understanding of sexuality and how the world revolves around it.  She’s cute as a button, unequivocally likable, and effortlessly carries the weight of most of the show’s musical numbers (it seems the show’s creators focused what little musical numbers there were primarily on the lead character, although the second act does feature some fun tunes for the entire cast to perform).  Maria Meschi plays Lisa, Debbie’s “frenemy” co-cheerleader; she does a fantastic job of playing a subtly evil high school girl, and she also gets the chance to show her vocal prowess in a second-act solo.  As Roberta, Linda Heiden absolutely nails the classic ditzy-cheerleader persona from top to bottom, and Andrea Heiden and Betsy Norton round out the cheerleading squad with excellent play off of each other as blissfully-unaware almost-lesbians.

My, what a large…loofah you have.

There are guys in the show, too.  Zachary Joyce portrays Rick, Debbie’s boyfriend and star high school quarterback; Joyce plays the role to spot-on perfection, presenting (physically and mentally) as the typical ‘70s porn-star leading man, replete with awesome moustache and an odd indifference to getting into sexytime situations with both guys and girls.  Ryan Dunn and Rich Tunnell both play double-duty as H.S. football players and a variety of other male-adult characters, with Dunn earning a special mention for playing a host of random but always-entertaining personas.  Rounding out the cast is Carl Cooper, who seems right at home in the finest of retro clothing as he also plays multiple roles of the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, a seemingly-innocent candle-store owner, and a not-so-innocent older man who first turns the girls on to the fact that “Teen Services” can mean a lot more than a simple innuendo.

The true mastery of the cast’s performance lies not in the “main” moments of dialogue and music, but in the small moments of comedy and “subtle” acting in between their words and when the primary attention of the audience is supposed to be directed to a different part of the stage.  Bohannon, Dunn, Joyce, and Linda Heiden particularly excel in this area, and it is this attention to detail and dedication to “acting through the end of the scene” that helps create a totally enjoyable experience for this show.

Choreographed with chintzy aplomb by Erin Cohenour (special mention to the tap-dancing glory of the song “The Dildo Rag”) and directed with a zealous embrace of all things tacky by Andrew Ranck, “Debbie Does Dallas” is a show that should certainly make you laugh and – pardon the innuendo – make you want to come again and again.  If porn mustaches were a rating system, this would be a 5-‘stacher for sure.  Yes, it’s an adult-themed show, but with this knowledge beforehand, you can obviously make your own choice to either relax and have fun with it, or simply pass on seeing it if you’re that concerned about what the ladies at the Bridge Club might think.  Personally, I highly recommend the first option, and then tell the card-playing ladies to lighten up and enjoy life a little bit.

Tickets, performance information, and more can be found on the Theater on the Square website.

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

If you ain’t doin’ it down low, you gots ta go.

Well, the anticipation continues to build as I get closer and closer to completing the next two books on my plate. I’m working hard to get them both totally complete and in print before the big HorrorHound convention here in Indianapolis at the end of March. A quick update on both tomes for you:

  • “The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 2” is coming along well. I still have about 10 more reviews to write, which includes the 5 that I’ll be writing specifically for the book and won’t be available anywhere else, before I’ll have enough content to fill the book to the desired level. I’ll also be writing a new introduction, as well as a retrospective-journal of sorts, detailing my experience when I got to be a zombie in the stage production of “Night of the Living Dead Live” last October. My fabulous brother-in-law Tom (whose praises I recently sung at length on my blog here) will be designing the cover for this book, as he did with Vol. 1 as well.
  • “Reviews of the Dead” is so close to completion I can almost taste it! This book is being compiled, formatted, and printed by a stand-alone publisher, Living Dead Press, with whom I have a 5-year contract for the book. My responsibility on this one is simply to get the content to him by the deadline, Feb. 14; sounds easy, right? Well, since the book is a companion guide for the top 25 zombie movies, my content is not really being edited too heavily by the publisher, since he’d essentially be altering my thoughts, opinions, and my “voice” by changing too much, which means what I send over to him needs to be damn near perfect in my eyes, or else he’ll print something that I sent him that may have been a mistake on my part. And as you all may or may not know, I’m a pretty damn big perfectionist, so mistakes are the devil to me. Regardless, it’s all coming along well, I’m up ‘til all hours of the night trying to do final analytical viewings of the movies and editing what I’ve written, to make sure I’m not missing anything. It’s going to be one radical book, if I do say so myself.

Other than that, one final piece of writing-related news for you: my Nebula-nominated novella, “The Eagle Has Reanimated,” is now officially available on both the Kindle and in physical print form from Amazon! You can click here to order it for your Kindle (only $3!), and you can click here to order the physical version. Any and all assistance in helping boost sales is greatly appreciated – linking to it on Facebook, Tweeting about it, or getting your own copy, it’s all good! You all rock, and thanks so much for not only stopping by to read the blog, but all the support and encouragement you give me, I literally couldn’t do it without you all!

Freak Nasty "Da Dip" (1997)
Currently Listening To: Freak Nasty "Da Dip" (1997)