Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Few Questions with Timothy Compton, Comic Book Writer/Filmmaker

Timothy Compton loves to tell a good story! Whether it is comic books or filmmakers, Timothy is busy writing away and sharing a good story. 

"Runnin' Down a Dream" caught up Timothy to talk about his comic book Monster City and he talks about his influences! 

QUESTION: You are a creator, what is it you have created?
TIMOTHY COMPTON: Beyond comics, I have been able to work in film and create a number of shorts among other things.
[However as] far as comic books go, I’ve had the pleasure of creating a series called Monster City with the help of the illustrator Aaron Nicholson, over the last couple of years.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

INTERVIEW: Lisa Dascoli, actor - Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate"

Lisa Dascoli Interview from Don Smith on Vimeo.

In recent weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting an amazing actor by the name of Lisa Dascoli. She is with the TNT Theater Company and currently starring as Mrs. Robinson in a production of "The Graduate."

I talked with Lisa about playing the roll of the immortal older woman!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: “Trying To Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel” By Nicolaia Rips

From the inside book jacket:

Part Eloise, part The Grand Budapest Hotel, part early David Sedaris, a seventeen-year-old's darkly funny, bighearted memoir about growing up in a legendary New York City hotel.

New York's Chelsea Hotel may no longer be home to its most famous denizens...but the eccentric spirit of the Chelsea is alive and well. Meet the family Rips: father Michael, a lawyer turned writer with a penchant for fine tailoring; mother Sheila, a former model and renowned artist who matches her welding outfits with couture; and daughter Nicolaia, a precocious high school senior working on a record of her peculiar seventeen years.

Nicolaia is a perpetual outsider who has struggled to find her place in schools populated by cliquish girls and loudmouthed boys. But at the Chelsea, Nicolaia need not look far to find her tribe. The kids at school might never understand her, but as Nicolaia endeavors to fit in, she begins to understand that the Chelsea's motley crew could hold the key to surviving the perils of a Manhattan childhood.

I work in a library, and when I saw Trying to Float by Nicolaia Rips on the shelf with the rest of our new releases, its cover adorned with adorable young photos of the author, I couldn't help but pick it up. Then I read the synopsis on the inside of the book jacket and it was so bizarre – and yet so terribly interesting – that I just knew I had to read this book! Believe me when I say that I am so glad I did.

Nicolaia Rips is the only child of two very unconventional, creatively-minded parents; father Michael is a lawyer-turned-writer, and mother, Sheila, is a former model and celebrated artist. Her first real friends are the equally unconventional fellow residents of the Hotel Chelsea, which includes Artie, proprietor of New York's most famous nightclubs, and the androgynous Storme', who keeps a pink handgun strapped to her ankle. As early as preschool Nicolaia struggles to fit in and make friends; a near-tragedy involving Nicolaia during a birthday party in kindergarten earns her a reputation that follows her straight through junior high school and doesn't make it any easier for her classmates understand her. Her entire student career is a myriad of misunderstanding and struggle until that last day of junior high when, at last, it all starts to make sense.

What makes this book a triumph for me is a combination of things. First off, the author – despite being just seventeen – has a writing style that hooks the reader's interest from the first sentence until the very last one. Her witty tone and self-depreciation, combined with the particular selection of anecdotes that she chose to share (one can't help but wonder what ended up being left out) makes this one memoir that no reader should miss out on! What's more, the essential theme of this book is acceptance – a child looking for acceptance from her parents, her teachers, her peers – and that is something that anyone is able to relate to, no matter where you grew up.

Trying to Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel by Nicolaia Rips is available on Amazon.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Interview with Carla Ulbrich: Singer/Songwriter/Professional Smart Aleck

"Runnin' Down a Dream" is continuing a love of local music (1 and 2). Over at DonSmithWrites, there's an interview up on the "Conversations for the Better" page.

Singer/Songwriter Carla Ulbrich stopped by and talked songwriting, humor and comedy.  Check it out and enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Six To Eight Mathematics Rocked Clash Bar in Clifton on June 24th

L to R: Ali McDowell, lead guitarist; Alana Quartuccio, lead singer; Dan Peacock, drummer & former Hollywood Stuntman; and Mary Beth Kochmar, bassist.

Remember last week when Runnin' Down a Dream's interviewed our buddies Six To Eight Mathematics?  

And remember, the amazing story of how Alana Quartuccio, the lead singer, had a tumor removed which resulted in her losing her voice and hearing in one ear?  

And remember how the band - Ali McDowell, guitarist; Mary Beth Kochmar, bassist; and drummer Dan Peacock - talked about sticking it out during Alana's recovery?  

And, finally, remember how Six To Eight was making a comeback by headlining a local show here in New Jersey on June 24 at the Clash Bar in Clifton, New Jersey?  

How did it go?  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Six To Eight Mathematics to Headline Concert at Clash Bar, June 24th

Image Courtesy of Six to Eight Mathematics.
I am sure it is known that many musicians - whether they be fine, classical, poppy or jazzy - call New Jersey their home. 

However, there are some bands that just plain kick the teeth out of music and take no prisoners! And one of those bands is the North Jersey based punk band - Six to Eight Mathematics! 

Six to Eight, as they are known to friends and fans, has been around since 2004. The band has two CDs available on CD Baby - High Heels, Whiskey & Mayhem and Mental Melodies (click on the links to pick 'em up!). 

I was able to sit down with them back in May to promote an upcoming show on June 24th, at the Clash Bar in Clifton, New Jersey. Six to Eight will headline the DIY Radio Presents Concert. They concert will feature many amazing bands and begins right at 8:30 pm.

I had been following them since 2011 and I saw them live in 2015 (see pictures below)! It is amazing to see real music on a real stage on a local level that is not some cheap cover band! Their name comes up from time to time in punk circles here in New Jersey and - wow! - everyone agrees - this is the band that takes the stage, puts on a show and leaves 'em wantin' more!

Image courtesy of Six to Eight Mathematics.

Since 2014, their current line up, which has featured Alana Quartuccio the lead singer and rhythm guitarist; Ali McDowell, lead guitarist and backing vocalist; Mary Beth Kochmar, bass guitarist and Dan Peacock, drummer.

And when I sat down to talk with the quartet, they discussed it had been a year of challenges! However, it was challenges they overcame and June 24th will be their first back! 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Review: “The Pug List” by Alison Hodgson

Synopsis from the back cover:

“What if a wheezing, sneezing, allegedly house-trained, ticking time bomb of an orphan pug is the key to helping a family feel at home again, after an arsonist set their house—and life—on fire? If you asked me, I would have said it’s a bad idea; we can do better. Unfortunately no one asked me, and The Pug List is my family’s story.”

In the fire’s aftermath of insurance battles royal, rebuilding plans, parenting in the face of life’s hard questions and a scorching case of post-traumatic stress, now is absolutely the worst possible time to adopt a dog. But to Alison’s seven-year-old daughter, Eden, it’s the perfect time—and The Relentless Campaign begins.

Until one day Alison peeks inside Eden’s diary—dubbed “The Pug List”—and realizes in one fell swoop that her girl’s heart is on the line, and resistance is futile (“The pugs make me happy FOREVER.”).

Enter “Outrageous” Oliver, and the hilarity, healing, and irresistible hope that follows.

The story of a family who loses their home and almost every material possession they own after an arsonist burns their house down should not sound like something any reader would enjoy. Yet enjoy this book was exactly what I did! While the Hodgson family did suffer through this very tragedy, the story isn't really about the fire itself but rather how each member of the family – wife and mother Alison, husband and father Paul, and their kids Christopher, Lydia, and Eden – travels the emotional journey to grieve for what they’ve lost and eventually come to terms with this tragedy that has beset their lives and start rebuilding their lives. Each person learns to cope in different ways, but what finally brings them all together is one absolutely ridiculous little black pug dog named Oliver – or "Outrageous Oliver," the moniker his breeder / foster mom has given him. Oliver's appearance in the Hodgson family's lives is what finally shows them how to begin enjoying life again and get themselves back to some semblance of a new normal.

At the risk of repeating myself, I really did enjoy this book; while the sadness and tragedy of this true story – every family’s worst nightmare, I think – is palpable throughout, the way that the Hodgson family learns to lean on their Christian faith to get through the fire and its aftermath – and how that faith then grows in the process – is something that every Christian can appreciate and ultimately relate to. What’s more, Alison Hodgson’s writing is also raw, honest, and uncensored, which is something I, as a fellow writer, can appreciate, and that readers will appreciate as well. She doesn’t cut corners or leave out the gory details, she puts everyone’s humanity out there for the world to see, which is something I find admirable in an author – and something that makes this a Really Good Book.

That said, my only disappointments with this book were that, for one, I expected Oliver’s appearance to happen much earlier in the story; Hodgson doesn’t actually get to him until more than halfway through the book. But once “Outrageous Oliver” is finally a part of the story, he’s there to stay, and readers won’t be able to get enough of him. I instantly fell in love that “ridiculous little dog” and how he becomes a cherished member of the Hodgson family.

So if you’re a person of faith, a dog lover, or if you just want to read a story with a great happy ending, “The Pug List” is for you! Find your copy on Amazon today.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of "The Pug List" free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.