Month: September 2014


10 friggin’ years!

I want to wish a happy anniversary to two of my best friends in the whole world, Ann and Jeff Murdock. Their love is the center of the universe for a huge part of my own life, and their wedding is a giant personal milestone as well.

It wasn’t long after the Murdocks made things legal that I ventured off on my own to California, so in a way, this marks almost a decade in my adopted home.

Another major reason why it was such a big deal was that The Murdock Wedding was a shift in all of our lives.  It was the last time when so many of my high school friends were all in one place.  Shawn Page got married this summer, and a lot were there too.  But that larger group has scattered to the winds, and we all lead very separate lives.

I was honored to be asked to document their wedding by Ann’s father, the late Phil Gentile.  He was a good man that trusted I would honor the occassion with something nice.  I did one better, and the result was a two hour and five minute long film that encapsulated for me those feelings I mentioned above.

“The Murdock Wedding Story: Forever Together” was a rarified opportunity.  Not only did I get to celebrate my friends, that moment in time, and the love story that was central to all of that, but I also got to learn a lot about the Murdock, Gentile, and Gordon families.  And what a wonderful group of people they are.

Phil and Lisa Gentile wear their hearts on their sleeves, and such big hearts they have.  Ron and Debbie Murdock hide their light under an exterior that doesn’t seem particularly sentimental, but that light burns bright and with surprising romance.  Steve and Julie Murdock, David Gentile, the grandparents, and of course my friends, what they say is simple and universal, but there is a whole world of love in their words.  If we could all be so lucky to have these people in our lives.

And I guess that brings us to today.  Ten years later, on the rare instances that I get back to Ohio, I experience such an odd sensation.  I’m home again, but it’s different.  In many ways, I have sacrificed this life, this love – and the love of so many others – in pursuit of a dream I am still struggling to realize.

My good friend Jamie Mank, who was one of Ann’s two matrons-of-honor and who was my first high school friend to get married, once asked me explicitly to move back.  To get old with them, let our kids (her’s real, mine imagined) to grow up together.  A very tempting offer, but my very core tells me the season for that has not yet come.

These themes are ever present in the novel I’m working on, Home Street.  I’ve been churning and burning the stories that make up this universe of constant change in my mind and on paper since I was seven.  I was writing a draft ten years ago.  But I really feel like this is it for these characters.

Wish me luck.

And join me in wishing Ann and Jeff and those that they love a very happy anniversary.  I miss you, and I pray the best is yet in store.


The Simpsons Take the Bowl

Stella and I drove up to LA, listening to “Songs in the Key of Springfield” and “Go Symphonic with the Simpsons” and making our own wishlists for what we’d like to hear at The Hollywood Bowl. In short, we heard almost all of our favorites.

“25 Years Ago. . . In a gorge far, far away.” Homer “jumping” the Springfied gorge became our touchstone to Simpsons past and present.

The show started with a great video parodying the poor slobs who end up way in the nosebleed seats. Slobs like The Simpsons. Oh, and us. The crowd around us loved it, and it felt special to have these fully animated Simpsons clips made just for us.

Matt Groening welcomed the crowd with some “facts” about the show and actual notes from Fox censors.

After that, the show kicked off with Hank Azaria (who does a ton of voices on the show), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), and Nancy Cartright (Bart, Ralph, Nelson) entertaining the crowd with their vocal skills. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra played each song with incredible skill, and Beverly D’Angelo came out in full character to sing Lurleen Lumpkin’s “Gonna Bag Me a Homer.”

The highlight of the first act was definitely “Weird Al,” who expanded on the “Jack and Diane” parody they had him do on the show. He wrote two killer versus, danced like a maniac, and tore it up with an accordian solo.

The second act was packed with the best songs. The Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus sang “Spider Pig,” “The Stonecutter’s Song,” and “See My Vest” with the Stonecutter robes, which came off to reveal sequinced vests. Former writer Conan O’Brien knocked us dead with a bit of stand up that melted into “Monorail,” and John Lovitz did a tribute to Phil Hartman and “The Planet of the Apes” musical.

The show was full of surprises. Hans Zimmer made a rare public appearance to play piano for the Academy Award nominated Maggie daycare short and be the Stonecutters leader, and Michael Jackson’s infamous sound alike performed “Lisa (It’s Your Birthday)” publicly for the first time ever. Tito Puento performed the Emmy nominated “Senor Burns” while a sultry dancer (who did the show’s choreography) made everyone’s jaw drop. The movie’s director, David Silverman, even got in on performing. His band Vaud and the Villians set the stage (and a sousaphone) ablaze with their riotous performance of “We Put the Spring in Springfield.”

Everything culminated with a fireworks display that was synched with some clips. Homer finally jumps the gorge with the help of Bart and his slingshot (a scene from the film)

The big finish came when a full stage of the night’s performers backed up Cartright as she performed “Do the Bartman.” Forget the fireworks, flaming Bart, and hologram Bart, the best visual moment of the night was “Weird Al” and Matt Groening side-by-side at center stage, each doing their own variation of the Bartman. Classic.

Honestly, there were only two songs that I really missed. No “Streetcar” and no “I’m Checking In.” Without Harry Shearer (Ned Flanders, among others) or Julie Kavner (Marge), the former wasn’t really possible. I do think the latter was a missed opportunity though. We were in Hollywood, after all.

My favorite moments of the night include some real gems. Hank Azaria as Chief Wiggum, singing “Let It Go” from Frozen. “Weird Al” rhyming “Marge almost had an affair with her bowling instructor” with “She felt too guilty, so he never. . . kissed her” and then cheekily saying he wouldn’t even talk about season ten on. And Conan O’Brien insighting a riot against the “one percent of the one percent” sitting up front, confused about why cartoons kept being shown.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate the longest running scripted primetime show in American history. Even if your seat was on the O of the Hollywood sign.


It must have been ten years ago that I declared zombies were on the way out. I mean, who would have thought the obsession would stay so hot so long? But for my part, I’m glad it has.

As far as monsters go, I find zombies the most terrifying. By a huge margin. It’s your loved ones that are coming to tear you to pieces and eat you alive. And you can become one of them too. So easily. And what’s left of you once you’ve turned? Is there any part that stays with your reanimated corpse?

I’ve even written a zombie story. “She’s a Superfreak #3” is a comic take on the traditional voodoo zombie in a superhero’s world. Check it out if you’re cool with google. It’s still for sale.

And with Chalkskin, I did a song about zombies, which allowed me to do some cool video! It’s called “Zombies Tryna Eatchu,” and it’s a free download on

There’s been so many great stories over the years, carrying over in multiple media, and the culture goes even further, with survival stores and themed bars and paintball and parades and obstacle course and. . . Anyway, I’d like to present my. . .


10. The Walking Dead (comics)
9. World War Z (novel)
8. Dead Snow (film)
7. AMC’s The Walking Dead (series)
6. 28 Days Later (film)
5. Shaun of the Dead (film)
4. Zombieland (film)
3. The Last of Us (video game)
2. Tell Tale’s Walking Dead series (video game)
1. Dawn of the Dead – the original AND the remake (film)

Honorable mention goes to the Halloween episode of “Community.”

What’s your list?