Mall of America: 25 Years and Growing

It’s not very often that I would find myself inclined to want to celebrate the birthday of a place. There are plenty of anniversaries, centennials, and other landmark dates being celebrated throughout the country at any given time, so what makes the Mall of America’s 25th birthday so special? Perhaps it’s the fact that what may arguably be considered the pièce de résistance of traditional retailing has managed not only to survive, but actually thrive in an era when shopping malls are widely being categorized as largely passé and the so-called “retail apocalypse” appears to have descended upon us without mercy, culling both […]

MOA L3 Winter Wide

Shopping Malls: Form vs. Function

Sunlight filters through the glass entrance doors to Forest Fair Village’s “District B,” spilling across a polished wood plank floor. The short corridor is devoid of visitors, a handful of empty retail spaces on either side offering little reason to linger. A strange silence hangs in the air: there are no echoes of distant shoppers, not even the expected dull churning of the escalators to dispel the surreal solitude. As I turn the corner and gaze down what seems to be an endless, two-storied throughway illuminated brilliantly by arched skylights at the far end and decorated with an array of […]

Closure, Part 4

We’ve covered a fair amount of musical backstory over the course of the past three posts, so I think it’s high time we try to derive some meaning from all of it and see how these events have led me to where I am now as a songwriter. That’s what this fourth part will attempt to do, as well as answer the question I posed in the very beginning: why did I elect to keep most of my non-symphonic work out of the public eye, despite the fact that I’ve been a songwriter for almost 28 years. 

Closure, Part 3

Continuing this little journey into my musical past, this segment will focus on my first forays into writing and recording vocal music, an early stab at a concept album, and some of the assumptions, illusions, and misplaced hopes that developed along the way.

Closure, Part 2

In the first part of this series of posts, I explored my beginnings as a songwriter and posed the question of why the vast majority of my non-symphonic work had never found its way outside of the studio over the course of the past 27+ years. This post will pick up where we left off – at the end of 1987 and the beginning of what would become a highly transitional, productive, and yet creatively uncertain period. >

Closure, Part 1

It’s that time of year again. The time for holiday festivities, to be sure, but also the perfect opportunity to look back on everything that happened over the past twelve months as well as forward to what may be waiting post ball drop. 2014 proved to be quite a memorable year for me, with experiences ranging from having to endure the most treacherous driving conditions I’ve ever experienced in my life on the way back from an anime convention in January to performing live for the first time with Midnight Syndicate as part of Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends in the fall. As I […]

The Paradox of Art for Art’s Sake

Following my Parlormuse performance at Montello, Wisconsin’s Cog County Faire several weekends ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pay the nearby The House on the Rock Attraction a return visit. My first visit there, detailed in an earlier post, proved to be thoroughly inspiring and I found myself eager to learn more about the site’s mastermind, Alex Jordan, Jr. In particular, I wanted to know where he got his ideas and what drove him to undertake such a massive and multifaceted undertaking. Once again, my visit paid off generously, but not quite in the way that I had imagined […]

Frederic E. Church’s Olana Uses Nature As Its Canvas

Upstate New York – the Hudson River Valley in particular – may be known for a great many things, including gorgeous vistas, quaint towns, and classic Victorian architecture. What a visitor may not expect to find among the rolling hills and quiet valleys is Olana, the distinctly original, Persian-themed residence of artist Frederic E. Church. A student of Thomas Cole, Church earned his own place among the ranks of the great Hudson River School painters during the 19th century. Olana eventually became Church’s labor of love, and it serves as the crowning jewel of over 250 acres of property, offering […]

Being Vulnerable

Sometimes I think I’m addicted to self-help books. Call it the ever-dangling carrot of promised salvation (from what, exactly, is a question that many authors seem decidedly unclear about once you get past their respective remedies du jour) or simply a continuing desire to understand the inner workings of my own psyche, I’ve read quite a number of them over the years and have found them to range from being beyond useless to jaw-droppingly insightful. I would put Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly squarely in the latter category. One concept in particular resonated with me regarding creativity: the need for, and corresponding […]


For the Love of Madoka: Anime Meets the Movies

I remember seeing the original Star Wars seven times in the theater as a child. I simply couldn’t get enough of it – the world, the characters, the story. Everything just seemed to work about it, and what I left with was an incredibly compelling and powerful film experience that affected me for years afterward in ways both obvious and unseen.

Emptiness and Silence

Remember that scene in The Matrix, where Neo goes to see the Oracle and she tells him that, despite being gifted, he seems to be waiting for something to let him know whether or not he is “The One?” I’ve been thinking about that scene a lot lately, in terms of what it could mean from a creative perspective. In the movie, we eventually find out that what Neo was waiting for was a reason to truly believe in himself and fully own his own power. Once he is able to do that, everything changes.

Creative Passion: The Fire Within

During my freshman year in college, I found myself at a bit of a career crossroads. I originally enrolled as a music major with a minor in earth science, but quickly felt my loyalties shifting as I began to explore the potential job possibilities within both fields. My decision to switch majors at the end of the semester was based on a number of factors, but the level of enthusiasm and excitement my professor brought to his classes was absolutely key among them.

The House on the Rock: Imagination’s Wonderland

Bizarre. Ostentatious. Macabre. These may be just a few of the words that come to mind while exploring the maze-like halls and rooms of Spring Green, Wisconsin’s The House on the Rock Attraction. The brainchild of designer Alex Jordan, Jr., House on the Rock was originally opened to the public in 1959, although it would continue to be developed and expanded for decades to come.

Heritage of the Sea Battle