Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Titusville, PA, Video Games

2017 Year In Review

PAST YEARS: 20162015, 2014, 2013

First and foremost, love and happiness and positivity from all of us to you.

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The collective masses seemed to have had a miserable 2016 but for some reason I felt like I was spared. But oh wait! Quickly around the corner came 2017 and with it came what I imagine to be the baggage, pain, and confusion most everyone else had felt in 2016.

It was a long year. I doubted myself a lot I spent a lot of this year confused about my place in all of this. I looked around at the world, both what surrounds me in the community where I live and what surrounds me everywhere else, and I just felt so lost and tired. At the core of all of this what I realized was that I just don’t feel the connection I had felt to the world that I had felt before. All of this is OK. Things change, people grow, and learning is a big part of the process we all go through during our time here on earth. It was a long year full of some tough moments, but instead of letting it get me down too much I’ve decided to adopt the idea that 2017 was a year of learning and growth. These two things are never tidy. They’re messy but the end result is always positive. That’s how I’m heading into 2018: with the thought that I did some hard work in the previous year and that in the new year that work will pay off.

Now that all of that has been said, here’s some stuff I did and some stuff I enjoyed in 2017:

  • Spent as much of my time awake with the amazing Aero, Finn, and Haley.
  • Continued to work on rehabbing Fidelia Hall. The plan with the space is now this: we will be moving into the downstairs space in early 2018. That space has heat and is in the process of having some electrical work done as well as rehabbing the bathroom and kitchen. The upstairs space (the chapel) will be getting a heating system installed starting on December 26 2017. Once we move over to that space, we will figure out what to do with the house. We envisioned Fidelia Hall as a community space, but have refocused and decided that it’s now more of a space for our family and our closest friends.
  • I recorded and released two albums: Either Way I’m Fine and Prozac Is The Dam & I Am The Dynamite
  • I finished my second full year as a library director. I’ve been doing this for 30 months now. I really enjoy it.
  • I listened to a lot of music and I wish I could keep better track of it, but Apple Music hasn’t done any kind of year in review recap like Spotify did this year. I hope they do that soon. I do know that as my father and I worked on Fidelia Hall we really enjoyed listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown 1970’s edition every Saturday.
  • My most played video game was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was also my favorite game this year, with Super Mario Odyssey coming in at a close second. I played a lot more Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp than I expected to play. And I finally got into Picross…The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Picross was the one that did it for me.

Love to you and all of those that you care about this holiday season from me!

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Libraries, Video Games

“Retro Gaming Gives Libraries a Boost” over at Information Today NewsBreaks

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Head on over to Information Today NewsBreaks today to read my piece on Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic and why public libraries should be scooping these up and loaning them out to their communities….that is, if you can get your hands on one! I know I’ve been in the hunt for one, both for myself and for my library, for almost a year now. Just imagine the retro video game themed programs you could run with one of these things!

HERE YOU GO OH FRIENDS: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Retro-Gaming-Gives-Libraries-a-Boost-122162.asp

Libraries, Life, Music

Why You Should Subscribe to IndiePicks

 

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You know my shtick by now: I don’t write about things on this blog that I don’t care about. I don’t write about things on this blog because someone paid me to do so. What I do on this blog is try to be represent my thoughts and feelings about things I am passionate about with words (and at least one picture per post). That’s who I am and what I do.

So I’m here with this post to tell you one thing: You should subscribe to IndiePicks Magazine. I’ll tell you why in the next couple of paragraphs.

INDEPENDENT ARTISTS ARE WHERE IT’S AT

Just so you know, I am a contributing writer to IndiePicks. My part as a contributing writer is that I get to interview awesome musicians and filmmakers who are creating their art independent from any big publishers, companies, etc. I do this because I not only like to write but I believe in independent artists. I believe in what they’re doing. I feel and understand their desire  “go indie” with their career, whether it be out of necessity or choice. You see I believe that people should create art (books, music, movies, video games, etc) because they have something to say, not just to sell a product. Of course, all artists have to sell something in order to keep doing what they’re doing, but the common thread I see with all of the independent artists I’ve encountered is that they’re creating what they create because THEY WANT to create something. I believe in honesty above everything else in the world, and trust me when I say that when I talk to these independent artists that I see and feel and hear nothing but honesty. In a world where things are becoming more and more homogeneous and pumped out by the dozen by huge companies and conglomerates, this honesty is something that we all will begin to seek in our day to day lives. We need more honest art, be it in books, movies, music, and more, in our lives. That honesty starts with independent artists.

LIBRARIES NEED MORE THAN THE BIG FIVE

While James Patterson, the latest Avengers movie, and the new Taylor Swift albums will guarantee our libraries a lot of circulations, we all have to agree that public libraries are about more than just pumping out the latest and most popular materials to their communities. Public libraries are gateways to new and exciting things for everyone that walks through our doors. When I was a kid, for me it was being introduced to graphic novels, books about whales, and vinyl LPs from bands that I heard about on the school playground but couldn’t afford to buy.

One of the neatest things that a public library does is offer each and every community a chance to dive into something new. Imagine being in a small town, isolated from a big city where you may have easy access to all kinds of independent media. What can a library be to that person? A library can be a gateway to a whole new kind of passion, hobby, or idea for that person. I think about the people I see in my library from day to day: the people that love manga, the folks that enjoy nothing but westerns, and the people that really want to watch every movie out there. Around these parts, their options are limited. There are no book stores in our town, one big chain movie rental store (yes, they exist), and a whole bunch of not that much to do. While these people do want what the Big Five are putting out, they also want variety. They want something new. They want to experience the rest of the world out there.

Libraries are the greatest recommendation and discovery machines out there. Let’s put stuff in our libraries that gives everyone in our community a chance to learn, grow, and understand the whole world together.

WE’VE ASKED FOR THIS EXACT THING

And finally, and perhaps most noteworthy is that we’ve been asking IndiePicks for quite some time. Back in the day, we just didn’t have a name for it. For as long as I have been in this library world, I’ve seen and heard conversations about how we can get more than just the Big Five and other mainstream media into our libraries. We’ve talked about how we can do it and why we should do it. We’ve debated this endlessly. Nowhere was discussion more prevalent when us libraries were all heavily debating ebooks in libraries. In these discussions, we criticized the heavy lending restrictions the big publishers put on eBooks in libraries and wondered how we were going to get more variety in our collections through independent media when the big eBook platforms were controlled by the big publishers.

It is safe to say that we’ve really, really wanted something like IndiePicks for a while. And guess what? We now have it. (Here’s the link to Issue #1). With IndiePicks, we now have a magazine which we can go to for insight into the world of independent media. We no longer have to blindly go into this area and pick a few titles here and there. We now have a place where there are top quality reviews and opinions on independent media. We now have an amazing tool in our tool belt that we can use to bring more variety to our library collections.

The best part yet? The team is made up of librarians. You know, people like you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a librarian. You know you can trust a librarian.

Follow IndiePicks on Twitter: @IndiePicksMag 

 

 

 

Family, Life, Music

THREE THINGS 2017.5

OPINIONS ON THE INTERNET

On the day before Thanksgiving my family and I did our traditional “half day of work so that means we go to a movie matinee” event. We saw Justice League, a film that we were all pretty excited for despite the kind of average/negative reviews on the internet. And guess what? All four of us really enjoyed the film. It’s no life changer that’s for sure, but we enjoyed a lot of the moments, the characters (especially Flash and Wonder Woman), and the overall story. It got me thinking about the internet these days and how, even though it still has great moments, mostly a place where people come to have opinions, fight with others, and yell about things. It has become one giant drama filled clique, with people coming and going from conversations and every day a new topic for us all to post our opinions on. And I think that is very tiring. What can be changed? What can we each individually do to disrupt this trend? My plan is to be kinder, to think before I post, or to post less or maybe not at all. All in all, these things that we feel like we need to yell about on the internet are not all that important in the great grand scheme of things.

LOSE IT

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About two months ago it just *clicked* in my head that a big reason why I didn’t feel that great and that I wasn’t all too happy mentally may have something to do with how much I eat. I have always understood that what you eat can affect you, but I never thought about how much you eat affecting you. I’m of the mindset that I wanna eat what I wanna eat….and you know what sometimes I just really want Taco Bell. And that’s cool. I just can’t eat Taco Bell more than once a week, and if I do have Taco Bell I should be getting one maybe two things from the menu.

The LOSE IT app has really helped me. I got the free edition and I don’t ever plan on buying into the system. I use it to track my day to day weight and count my calories. This has worked well for me, as it has given me a better understanding of what I eat and how much I eat. Knowing these two things has increased my mindfulness when it comes to all this stuff. It has worked for me. I’ve lost 10 pounds and overall I just feel better and more alert.

HOLIDAY 2017

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/holiday-2017/pl.u-J3oZsob7YR

Click on the link above for our 2017 HOLIDAY playlist. You’ll find a lot of the same stuff we put on there every year, but that’s because we love it! My all time favorite is still THE VENTURES CHRISTMAS ALBUM, which you can listen to below!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays to all.

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 10/14): Everything Will Be Alright In The End

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Released: October 7, 2014
Recorded: January–July 2014
Studio: The Village, Los Angeles, California
Length: 42:24
Producer: Ric Ocasek

Sometimes you have to hit bottom before you can get back to the top. In Weezer’s case, if Hurley and Raditude were the bottom, the next two albums will represent something similar to the top. While Everything Will Be Alright In The End (EWBAITE for short from here on out) isn’t ever going to be the “best” Weezer album out there (I think the first two have those spots locked up for the long haul), you’ve gotta recognize that EWBAITE is a damn fine album and if The Blue Album and Pinkerton didn’t exist that this would be at the top or number two on Weezer’s best of list. Packed to the brim with great songs, amazing performances, and an all around feeling of great inspiration, EWBAITE is a gem that should be listened to many and recognized as a great rock record.

AIN’T GOT NOBODY

Songwriting: Great lyrics, great melody, and overall just a nice chord structure. It feels like there was inspiration behind it.
Arrangement: Nothing special, but it fully emphasizes the rock and it brings it to the masses.
Production: This song does a great job of establishing the EWBAITE sound, which is clean enough for radio yet a bit rough for the fans that want something loose.
Performance: The band is on fire on this album. It is good to have them as a fully functioning unit.
SCORE: 8

BACK TO THE SHACK

Songwriting: A great riff at the beginning that never fully takes off and instead goes into a pretty standard and boring rock song with lyrics that really only die hard fans may understand. Writing songs about your career arch and relationship with fans seems a bit weird.
Arrangement: Heavy rock emphasis.
Production: More of the EWBAITE style and it fits for the song.
Performance: I like the playing on this one, especially from Scott who really nails the low end down.
SCORE: 5

EULOGY FOR A ROCK BAND

Songwriting: OK so I just bashed the last song for being weird and referring to your career arc. This does something similar but it is unclear who the band Rivers is singing about really is. No matter what, the chords and melody of the song are so fabulous that you just focus on that. The song has a great energy.
Arrangement: Perfect. A nice mix of pop song in the chorus mixed in with some dissonant rock in the verse.
Production: Nice touches with the keyboard in the verse.
Performance: Pat’s drumming is amazing on this tune.
SCORE: 9

LONELY GIRL

Songwriting: A simple song that just brings everything to the table and is a really good listen from start to finish. Rivers writes these kinds of tunes well.
Arrangement: It starts and it never lets up. Every note in its right place.
Production: I love it. Crunchy enough to refer back to The Blue Album sound.
Performance: The “I know you’re scared” verse near the end is perfectly placed and both the guitar and Rivers’ voice sound perfect.
SCORE: 8

I’VE HAD IT UP TO HERE

Songwriting: The verse and the chorus don’t seem to match up but in the end it works. The bridge is a great example of how amazing Rivers was at writing bridges starting in this period of his life.
Arrangement: Great soft/loud pop rock dynamics. The bridge breakdown is amazing and is followed by a wonderful solo.
Production: Wonderful. I love that guitar sound in the verse.
Performance: The band is on fire on this album and this continues it.
SCORE: 8

THE BRITISH ARE COMING

Songwriting: An interesting oddity with lyrics that are not expected but work really well. The chords and guitar parts are fabulous.
Arrangement: It has a great flow to it and everything works.
Production: Weezer does a great job of blending acoustic and electric guitars here.
Performance: Solid all around
SCORE: 8

DA VINCI

Songwriting: A pretty good song that sometimes tries way too hard to be a single. You can tell Rivers was pushing for that with this one.
Arrangement: Great pop rock arrangement that is pretty typical.
Production: Sometimes the chorus sound a bit too loud for me. The outro though? Perfect. And I am glad they added the whistling to the tune.
Performance: Pretty solid.
SCORE: 8

GO AWAY

Songwriting: A simple he sings/she sings boy girl pop song. Nothing more, nothing less.
Arrangement: Simple and to the point.
Production: I really enjoy the guitar sound.
Performance: It isn’t bad and it isn’t great. It just is.
SCORE: 7

CLEOPATRA

Songwriting: A brilliant verse into a really simple yet amazing chorus with some weird time signature skipping in there. The bridge (which is in two sections) is amazing! Then you top it off with a great solo and BOOM! You have one of the best Weezer songs ever.
Arrangement: It all works from beginning to end. Don’t change a thing!
Production: Crunchy guitar mixed with acoustic guitar and some harmonica. I will take this any day of the week.
Performance: One of my favorite performances from the band. All around a winner.
SCORE: 10

FOOLISH FATHER

Songwriting: Heavy on the emotions, but this is something Rivers is great at. A great chorus to sing along to with an outro for the ages.
Arrangement: The chorus and outro work, but for some reason the intro and first verse let me down.
Production: More of the EWBAITE style of production.
Performance: A nice performance. Not the best on the album, but one that is good.
SCORE: 8

THE FUTURESCOPE TRILOGY: I: THE WASTE LAND

Songwriting: A great morose melody with some nice backing music behind it.
Arrangement: Everything fits really well. A great overall structure to the song.
Production: It takes a nice bleek turn here and I think it fits really well.
Performance: The band should really do more of these Weezer prog rock esque instrumentals. They’re pretty damn good at them.
SCORE: 8

THE FUTURESCOPE TRILOGY: II: ANONYMOUS

Songwriting: Almost like a mantra, it builds and builds and builds until it all reaches the point where it needs to explode.
Arrangement: The piano really moves it along.
Production: Every four bars builds the song and the production really helps give it an “epic” feeling.
Performance: Great playing all around.
SCORE: 8

THE FUTURESCOPE TRILOGY: III: RETURN TO ITHAKA

Songwriting: A wonderful instrumental that is epic and pretty perfect in every way.
Arrangement: Not much to talk about with an arrangement, but it works so we will leave it be.
Production: The sounds of the guitars and drums just works so well for this kind of tune.
Performance: I think the band really enjoyed playing this one. What great rock.
SCORE: 8

THE FINAL WORD

EWBAITE is a fantastic album full of great songs, great themes, and great ideas. I feel like it could be better without “Back To The Shack” and “Go Away”, but then again those are the two singles so there must be something in there. As an album this is a great one to listen to from front to back, with my only very minor complaint is that it seems like it is a bit too long (13 tracks on the album feels like a lot for Weezer) when I listen to it these days. Don’t write off post Pinkerton Weezer as a band that may have a few good songs here and there. EWBAITE proves that this band can, if they want to, make a really solid rock album. I wish they’d keep this focus in the future.

TOTAL POINTS: 103
AVERAGE SCORE: 7.92

 

 

Benson Memorial Library, Chattanooga Public Library, Chattanooga, TN, Libraries, Music, Portland, ME, The Beach Boys and Libraries, Titusville, PA

The Library Career Arc of Justin Hoenke As Told Through GIFS of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys and Their Overall Career Arc

It lines up! You’ve gotta trust me!

1964 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2008-2012/2013: Cape May (NJ) County Library and Portland (ME) Public Library. Little stuff. Teen Librarian. Neat little programs. The surfing songs version of librarianship. Very basic ideas that were creative and at the same time hinted at the fact that I had some bigger ideas up my sleeve. People seem to dig it.

The Beach Boys GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2013-2015: Chattanooga (TN) Public Library. Let’s do some neat stuff. Month long code camps (DEV DEV), sewing machines, 3D printers, maker and learning tables, one gigabit per second super fast internet, entire floors dedicated to creativity, thinking outside the box, and trying to reinvent the library. The PET SOUNDS and SMiLE of my library career. Like Brian Wilson, I was surrounded by some of the most creative and talented people I have ever met. The best of times. The most creative library experience ever.

The View Abc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2015-Present: Benson Memorial Library (Titusville, PA). Little stuff. Very focused to this tiny community. The equivalent of the bedroom tapes, SMILEY SMILE, FRIENDS, and other tiny little Beach Boys and Brian Wilson gems between 1967-1971. The songs don’t change the world, but if you hear them you like them and they bring you happiness. Good work. Out of the spotlight.

Beach Boys GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A POSSIBLE FUTURE: A retreat. This stuff is wearing me down. I can’t please everyone and I do my best to make the experience a positive one for everyone, but the loud voices just keep getting louder. Do I want to use my time here on earth and my limited energy on battles? Do I have to change the world? I don’t. All that I have to do is take care of myself and my family and be myself. I can retreat. I don’t have to do this forever.

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 9/14): Hurley

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Released: September 10, 2010
Length: 34:16
Label: Epitaph
Producer Rivers Cuomo, Shawn Everett

I have been putting this one off for long enough. To be honest with you, I haven’t wanted to write this one because there really isn’t a lot of great things to say about Hurley. I don’t want to put negativity out into the world, but with this one there is just not much else I can do. Hurley doesn’t work on a lot of levels: it feels like a badly patched together solo album, the songs are rather bland and cookie cutter, and the whole thing feels rushed. When I listen to a Weezer album, I want to hear the band performing the songs that Rivers writes. On Hurley, I’m hearing songs that Rivers wrote being performed by something that’s just not Weezer.

MEMORIES

Songwriting: The most “classic Weezer” sounding thing on here. A simple straight forward rock song. It works.
Arrangement: The band is tight on this and moves from section to section and never lets go.
Production: It’s crunchy and I like that.
Performance: Like I said above, it feels like the band played on this one together. I can dig that.
SCORE: 6

RULING ME

Songwriting: An absolutely wonderful pop rock song, but it sounds too much like a song that a band that wanted to sound like Weezer would write and perform. Weezer shouldn’t be doing that, right?
Arrangement: Classic power pop. It never lets up and that’s good. The chorus drums are great at moving the tune along.
Production: It sounds like it was made for the radio.
Performance: Here’s where we get to the “is Weezer on this song?” question. I hear elements of Rivers but I don’t hear anything from any other members. The drumming doesn’t 100% feel like Pat. It feels off.
SCORE: 6

TRAINWRECKS

Songwriting: Written with an absolute gem of a songwriter (Desmond Child), this is a great tune overall. Well paced, well written, great emotions.
Arrangement: The song chugs along just like a train. I love it.
Production: The chugging guitar and bass really work well for this song. Some of the overdubs and adornments can distract from the great tune underneath them.
Performance: Once again, who is playing on this? The bass feels like Scott, but everything else feels off.
SCORE: 6

UNSPOKEN

Songwriting: Some interesting chords that throw you off at first, but the climax of the song really works well. It feels like Rivers there.
Arrangement: Bare bones at the beginning, crunchy at the end, and the backing vocals are really great.
Production: I question the flute flourishes in the verses. They don’t really need to be there and distract the listener.
Performance: It feels like Weezer and I like that, especially on this album.
SCORE: 6

WHERE’S MY SEX?

Songwriting: You can tell something is gonna be off from the weird synthy drums at the beginning, and then you hear the lyrics. These are the worst. Great riff though in the verses.
Arrangement: The verses do a great job a using the riff to anchor the song. The chorus is great when it kicks into the second part of it. The time shift off kilter bridge is great.
Production: This song should rock harder. That riff is great. It just doesn’t get to that level.
Performance: Once again, it rocks but who is playing on it? And Rivers’ vocal performance should have been scrapped. It is embarrassing at points.
SCORE: 2 (I want to give this a higher ranking, but those lyrics destroy the tune)

RUN AWAY

Songwriting: A decent tune, but one that just doesn’t sound like a Weezer sound. Then you look at the songwriting credits and you see it was cowritten by Ryan Adams. And then you realize that its a Ryan Adams song sung by Rivers.
Arrangement: The chorus, which is usually a pick me up part of a song, just really drags here.
Production: I like it, but once again it doesn’t sound like a Weezer song and instead sounds too much like a Ryan Adams song. If I wanted to listen to him, I would listen to him.
Performance: The Ryan and Rivers show. I like my Weezer with Brian, Scott, and Pat.
SCORE: 3

HANG ON

Songwriting: The little single that never was. It has all the makings of a great single…wonderful and triumphant verses into a great chorus. But there’s just something that holds this song back.
Arrangement: Maybe the arrangement holds it back? Nah, this is good pop rock.
Production: Once you hear Michael Cera you can’t un-hear him.
Performance: It feels like a band moving in a new-ish direction. I appreciate that.
SCORE: 6

SMART GIRLS

Songwriting: The lyrics just creep me out, but the melody and the chorus are so very strong and you wanna sing along to them.
Arrangement: It is structured in such a way that makes you want to sing along.
Production: It feels like it would’ve been a great Rivers Cuomo solo song with this production.
Performance: It doesn’t feel like there’s a performance. It feels like Rivers with some loops of people playing instruments.
SCORE: 5

BRAVE NEW WORLD

Songwriting: It feels so “modern rock band on the radio” derivative. I could hear Nickelback doing this song. Why not just give it to them?
Arrangement: “Let’s rock out on the chorus just like a high school band”. It just doesn’t work. The bridge should pick it up but it just leaves it even flatter than before.
Production: The song is so bad I don’t think any kind of production could save it.
Performance: Mechanical and going through the motions. I have to force myself to listen to the whole song.
SCORE: 1

TIME FLIES

Songwriting: Written with legend Mac Davis, this song has a great tune but…(skip to production)
Arrangement: A nice little folk song structure.
Production: What is going on here? Why is everything so dirty and muddy? Is something wrong with my headphones? This just isn’t fun to listen to. I hear a good song destroyed by a production choice.
Performance: The production just destroyed this song for me.
SCORE: 4

THE FINAL WORD

I just can’t get through this album unless I force myself to get through this album. Rivers writes great songs, but the songs on this one just ain’t that great. Some of them are decent but a bunch of decent songs don’t add up to make a good album. I love Weezer as a four piece band making great music. On some records you can just hear Rivers directing everything and it not really being a band effort. That is the most apparent with this album. Hurley may have been looked upon as an interesting oddity if it wasn’t a Weezer album but instead a one off Rivers Cuomo solo album. But here, as the 8th Weezer album, it just stands out as a really bad album.

TOTAL POINTS: 45
AVERAGE SCORE: 4.50