Displaying items by tag: blog

Love in Minor Key – Hum

MADISONVILLE, KY (10/5/13) - Greetings and salutations my dear readers, all four of you—hello! Today’s column is going to be about a '90s band that you probably vaguely remember. It’s Hum! If I say “Do you like Hum?” and your only response is “Stars!” you don’t really know Hum. But that’s Ok. I’m about to enlighten you. This isn’t just another simple review; this one is going to be a soapbox from which I’m going to release unto you a deluge of wonderful music. Music from a band that I’ve always loved and I believe you will too. Didn’t I say before it wouldn’t always be a simple music review, that sometimes it would be my musings on a band I like, hate or love, full of offhand rambling tangents? Didn’t I?

Well, first, we need to set the mood...The 1990s: Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and so many other great bands roamed the Top 40 radio airwaves. It was a worryingly short period of time when you could be an off-the-wall group of malcontents playing strange and abrasive music and still get a major record deal. Bands took the popular music and culture of the ‘80s and gave both a good smack in the mouth. It was a proverbial flush of the collective toilet of popular music. Bands who had dominated the airwaves in the ‘80s, wearing eyeliner and spandex while a metric ton of cocaine roared thru their system, had been replaced by teenagers in unwashed flannel, Chuck Taylors, and heroin. A glorious time to come of age! Don’t let that last bit of crassness get you all in fits. If you, my dear reader, decide to stick around, you’ll realize I have what many would call a dark sense of humor. If you can’t find a joke in the horrible bits of life, what’s the point of it really? Well, I’d better get back to the topic at hand before I get all sentimental and dye my hair green with kool-aid, again.

Hum! Yes, Hum. To have such an unassuming name, Hum brought something special to the loud-soft dynamic that was a staple of so many rock bands of the decade. Hum was formed in 1989 when Matt Talbot and Andy Switzky met in a coffee shop in Urbana, Illinois. Matt and Andy would go on to form the core of what would become the early version of Hum. A demo (“Kissing Me Is Like Kissing An Angel”) and a record (Fillet Show) soon followed. The songs on Fillet Show were dominated by Andy, their primary songwriter at the time, and feature slightly humorous and often political lyrics with a very indie rock vibe and punk sensibility. There were glimpses of what was to come, but overall the record feels a bit insincere. It sounds like your average high school band’s first EP/demo—a bit immature and simple. It lacks the complexity of songwriting that really defined Hum’s later albums. It’s not a bad album; it’s not really great either. It’s simply a solid effort. Fans of Poster Children, Minor Threat, and Fugazi will gravitate towards this album.

Shortly after the release of Fillet Show, creative differences led Andy to leave the band. This left Matt as the primary songwriter and, in this humble man’s opinion, this is when Hum went from being an above-average indie-rock band into something that will last the test of time. No, I’m not trying to say Hum surpassed the Fifth Symphony. I'm simply saying that, when viewed in the context of the ‘90s alternative-rock music scene, they should be judged to be the peers of the big ‘90s acts like The Smashing Pumpkins or Soundgarden, only to name a few. And I would wager that if they would've received a bit more mainstream airplay, I think they would've been as big as many of those bands. Even in a decade when pop music had been transformed into the antithesis of the shallow glitz and glam of the ‘80s, it still had certain fickle expectations that barred many a band from getting heavy rotation on the mainstream radio shows.

With the bands lineup finally coalescing into Matt Talbot on guitar and vocals, Tim Lash on guitar, Jeff Dimpsey on bass, and Bryan St. Pere on drums, a second release in the form of Electra 2000 soon followed. A more experimental and expansive style began to develop during this album. A sound that, while hinted at on Fillet Show, never got its full deserved attention. Electra 2000 is ephemeral and atmospheric. Intricate instrumental passages open up into soaring choruses dense with feedback and distortion so thick it envelopes you. It’s rough around the edges; low cost production and an unusual mix created a record that is garage rock at its finest. It’s an album filled with heartache, teenage frustration, and alienation. All the cliché Flotsam and Jetsam from the ‘90s music scene is here in full effect. It was a great start to a short but influential career. Standouts on this album are “Iron Clad Lou,” “Pinch and Roll,” “Shovel,” “Pewter”… the whole album is solid. Go listen to it now! Right here!

A heavy dose of science, space, and heartache created a record that will go down as a proverbial diamond in the rough for fans of ‘90s rock: You’d Prefer an Astronaut. If Electra 2000 didn’t really grow on you, there is a good chance this is the album that will grab you and make you a fan. For those of you out there that are already familiar with “Stars” and claim be a fan of Hum, it’s time to put up or shut up. Listen to this album, and if you can’t claim that you like at least half of this album, you aren’t a fan of Hum. That’s okay though, I’ve still got one more record to hook you with! There really is something special about this album. The songs have the same pulsating walls of thick distorted guitars, elaborate riffs, and space-infused lyrical imagery that were found on Electra 2000, but on this outing they are delivered with laser focus and a more polished mix.

The angsty emotional energy of previous albums gave way to a more astute understanding of what it takes to write a great song. Lyrically, the tales of heartache, alienation, and philosophical musings are still present, but they are more mature and subdued in their delivery. Themes are handled tactfully in abstract ways instead of screamed in teenage fury. This album is Hum at its finest. Stand out tracks on the album include the obligatory “Stars,” “I Hate It Too,” “The Pod,” “Why I Like the Robins,” and “I’d Like Your Hair Long.” You can listen to the album for free here.

Hum’s next major release came in the form of Downward is Heavenward, a worthy bookend to a great catalog. Not many things changed with this release; the bulwark of dizzyingly thick suspended chords, half-spoken and screamed lyrical passages glued together by a tight rhythm section, and precision focus on the production, are still present in spades (all the hallmarks of what makes Hum, well… Hum). I’m not going to claim this record changed the equation and did something revolutionary. This record is more of the same, but, in the case of Hum, that’s something to be cherished. Many bands go through many evolutionary fits and starts—that challenge to keep things interesting. I think Hum figured out their voice as a band early in their career. They found their niche in the melodical and oblique. They mined diamond out of that fusion of lyrical imagery and sound. This would turn out to be the last major release for Hum. The band was never dropped and they never broke up. They just felt they were done. I’ve never thought that was really the case. I think they were a band that hung it up in their prime. My favorites on this album include: “Afternoon with the Axolotls,” "The Inuit Promise,” "Isle of the Cheetah,” “Comin’ Home,” and "Green to Me.” Listen to the album here!

I hope your auditory journey through these four albums was enjoyable, and I hope at least a few of you will find a new band to love.

With that, I will sleep contentedly knowing that I spread a little bit of happiness to my fellow man.

Thank you Matt Talbot, Tim Lash, Jeff Dimpsey, and Bryan St. Pere for giving us all these wonderful sounds. If any of you out there end up loving Hum and would like to make the trip to St. Louis or Chicago to catch a reunion show, as they tend to have one every few years, give me a shout. Hum’s major fansite, Mission Control, is the best place to catch up on news with the band and even to chat with other fans. They have answers to any random question about the band you can imagine. 

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To view past “Love in Minor Key” reviews and/or articles, click here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Matt and Lindsey Stewart

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This Old "Witch" Makes Horror Flicks - Women I Write About

"PJ Woodside"HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/30/13) - "This Old 'Witch' Makes Horror Flicks" is a completely uncensored look at independent horror film making. PJ Woodside is one of the masterminds behind Big Biting Pig Productions, an internationally recognized, but locally-based independent movie company that films entirely in Hopkins County, KY. For a sneak peak behind the scenes, read on. (Note: some content may not be suitable for a younger audience)

I’ve been looking around at potential film festivals for Lucid, as some of you know. This takes time, as I not only must find the festivals and make sure we meet all the criteria, but in order to make the process effective, I need to be selective. Lucid will not do well at artsy festivals or music-centered festivals for example. It will fare better at horror/thriller fests, and even better at ones that stress strong writing. A few non-genre festivals have “dark”categories, which is a great option for Lucid.

One type of film festival I should fit into well is the type that promotes women in film. I’m a woman. I write, direct and even edit these movies. My central characters are women — real women, and not model-thin 20 year old cheerleaders. My villains are women. Female writer/directors are much scarcer than they should be, and any festival that promotes them is a good one.

After searching through the winners of several of these festivals, however, it turns out I’m not a good fit. You see, I don’t write about extraordinary women doing brave things in a sexist culture, which is what many of those film festivals strive to reward. I write about ordinary people who happen to be women as the central characters of interesting and dark and sometimes twisted stories. Human beings. Being human. With vaginas.

Don’t misunderstand me — I LIKE stories about the underdog, about challenging the system, about redefining yourself in the face of terrible obstacles. But women — ordinary women — still represent HALF the population. And all their stories collectively should be getting a lot more screen time. There should be a lot more of them at film festivals (to give festivals credit, the ratio is better there than in the cinemaplex). We should see them on purpose and not give them belittling labels like chick flicks or rom coms just because the central characters are women.

These are the people I write about: Widows, pregnant wives, girlfriends. Women who like sex, women who have scars, women who hurt other people, women who know things they shouldn’t, women who work and drive cars and sleep. Just like men.

I write about women whose stories should be told NOT because they are women, but because they are human. Women in movies should be more than peripheral, assistant, wifey sorts of characters in a percentage that at least reflects the real world.

It’s never been a worse time for female actors. Do your part. Go see some real women. In the movies.

Lucid is now on DVD and can be found at http://bigbitingpigproductions.com/LucidDVD.html.

PJ Woodside is the writer and director of Lucid, which features Bill Johnson and will be released in 2013. She is co-producer of Spirit Stalkers and six other movies with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions, and owner of PJ’s Productions. More from PJ's official blog can be found here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by PJ Woodside
Photos provided by PJ Woodside

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West Kentucky Wild: Early Season Squirrels

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/28/13) – The 2013 squirrel season opened up on Saturday, August 17th. Rain had come sometime during the night and lightning flashes were receding in the distance. Daylight was still over an hour away, giving me a chance to stop in town, grab cup of hot coffee, and a sausage biscuit, while still having enough time to drive to the Muhlenberg County farm before daylight. The rain during the night, along with the calm winds, left ideal hunting conditions.

For reasons unknown, I decided to take my .22 rifle at the last minute, which is tough enough anyway, but especially so in the early part of the season with all the green leaves. To make matters worse, the 3 X 9 scope that is usually mounted on this rifle was moved to the .50 caliber, black powder muzzle loader last fall to help short up my aim for deer season. I suppose if I had really wanted a mess of squirrels, I would have taken a shotgun. Sometimes it’s just about the hunting part and the chance to get out in the woods. After all, it was a beautiful morning—even the mosquitoes and gnats weren’t too bad.

The hardwood ridges on the farm are filled with many varieties of trees that attract squirrels, including beeches, black gums, and oaks, but I knew it was the hickory trees that would give me the best chance. The tight barks, pignuts, and scaly barks are usually the first to hold concentrations in the early days. Later on, the oaks bearing acorns take over. With the abundance of nuts this year, it seemed all species of hickory were full.

The squirrels seemed to be scattered, too, with no one area better. While the rain drops falling from the still-wet leaves masked the sound of nut cuttings hitting the forest floor, there was still quite a racket when a squirrel jumped from one limb to another.

The final results were definitely in the squirrel's favor on this day. There will be other days—hopefully when some the green leaves have fallen. And you can bet a scope will be attached to the .22 rifle a on the next trip.

And don’t be fooled; Duck Dynasty's Robertson family isn't the only place fried squirrel can be found. There are still kitchens in this part of Kentucky where you can find platters of fried squirrel, along with milk gravy, fresh-sliced garden tomatoes, and hot biscuits. If you’re looking for a recipe for fried squirrel, I’d be willing to bet that your grandmother, or maybe even your mother, has one.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Nick Short

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West Kentucky Wild: Bass at Night

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/15/13)—Problem: summertime doldrums. Extreme heat, lots of sun, water temperatures in the high 80s, and a lack of current caused by an absence of wind or very little water being pulled through the dam. Not to mention the big lakes that can accommodate all the summertime traffic of ski boats, jet skis, pontoons, etc. Throw in an occasional barge along with a slow bite and you’ve got a challenge on your hands. Maybe it’s time to start getting ready for deer season. 

Too hot to fish?
There is no such thing. You just have to adjust to either a few hours at dawn or a few hours at dusk. (I will admit that fishing all day in this summer heat should be one of the official stages of the Iron Man contest, though) Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at nighttime fishing.  

There is no question that bass, as well as some giants, feed at night, especially during hot weather periods. Summer nighttime fishing for bass works as good on local lakes as it does on bigger waters like Kentucky Lake. It is especially effective on clear water lakes and strip pits.   

Moon vs. dark: Which is the best?
While the experts say couple of days before and couple of days after the full moon is best, experiment and come to your own conclusion. While it’s certainly easier to see and get around, many anglers still swear by the dark. Personally, I prefer nights with very little moon and plenty of stars.  

With the specialty night lights available now—a favorite of mine is the one with lights built into the bill of the cap, which frees up your hands for retying and netting—there is no reason to let the dark hold you back. If you desire more light, there are some really good black lights available too, which will help you see shorelines and obstacles in the water. An added bonus: fluorescent mono line is magnified by black light, so you can see movements and twitches clearly. 

Lures
While nighttime fishing has sold millions of black Jitterbugs (and rightfully so), there are nights where top-water lures are not the best option. Some conditions, such as excessive moss or grass, will limit the selections. Try spinnerbaits in dark colors. Plastic worms and jigs will work, too.  

Final Word
It’s a good idea to get on the water prior to dark. Remember that it’s going to be cooler, lots quieter, and the fish will bite. Be sure and take your life jacket and your mosquito repellent, watch out for the summertime storms, and be sure and take a net. That big bass just might let his guard down. 

Required Listening
Edgar Winter’s third studio album, They Only Come Out at Night, which was released in November, 1972. Listen to the album in its entirety by clicking the YouTube player below this article. 

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A former Kentucky State BASS Federation Champ and longtime outdoorsman, Nick Short has spent over five decades learning the ins and outs of the hunting and fishing world. From coon-hunting as a youth, to hanging with fishing pros as an adult, Nick knows a thing or two about how it’s done outdoors. Want to know his secrets? Check out his latest installment of “West Kentucky Wild.”

To read other “West Kentucky Wild” installments, visit Nick’s Sugg Street Post blog page by clicking the following link: http://www.suggstreetpost.com/index.php/outdoors-west-kentucky-wild 

Sugg Street Post
Written by Nick Short

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nOM—Adventures in Yoga & Food: The Now of Nostalgia


PHOTO: Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/16/13) - Three years ago today, I dove into a month of living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires of western-Massachusetts, training to become a yoga teacher. I made this choice sight unseen. I landed at the Albany airport, got on a shuttle with a handful of other people from all across the world—most of whom also looked slightly shell-shocked and equally nervous—and an hour later I was lugging a month’s worth of yoga clothes, toiletries, and instant coffee into a dorm room I would share with 20+ people. (Yes, I said instant coffee. The literature Kripalu had sent said we had to be on the mat at 6:30am, six days a week, and there was no coffee in the dining hall, which didn’t open until 7:30am anyway…you better believe I was ready to eat Starbucks Via like a pixie stick on my way to practice!) It was a huge leap of faith, took almost all of the courage I could muster, and I had absolutely no idea—not even an inkling—as to how powerful and transformative the next month would be.

You know those split-seconds that are actually vibrant sparks on the continuum of time, where a simple choice can dramatically shift the trajectory of the entire story? Those seemingly mundane moments you can look back on in hindsight and see as defining, revelatory, a step onto a new path, a choice that would impact every single day of the rest of your life? I think of other moments with similar reverence: my first day at my first job at Block’s Hot Bagels when I was 16-years-old; my first day at summer camp in Maine; and my first day of freshman orientation at Kenyon College, an undergraduate community that would become a intellectual, creative, and spiritual home. It was that brand of split-second. Arriving at Kripalu felt like landing. Becoming a yoga teacher felt like a calling. In a thousand tiny, awesome ways, it was a coming Home.

I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with that month of my life.

And I miss it. I’ve been bathing in nostalgia as of late—swimming in thick pools of memory—caught between that extraordinary month at Kripalu and the present. I’ve been missing the way life smelled and tasted and was three years ago, the way I felt physically and emotionally, the people who were cheering me on from afar and the people I met in the Berkshires, and the place itself, right down to my bunk bed in that dorm room. I’ve been elbow-deep in the photos and the music, reaching out to the people who share a similar brand of experience, and generally longing for any connection to that month.

Anniversaries are an obvious time to remember and honor the past, and sometimes an easy time to sink so completely into remembering that you start to feel as though you are living in a highlight reel, longing for something you will never get back. Nostalgia is a strange beast. Inevitably, the pain of missing becomes greater than the joy of remembering. Don’t misunderstand; I think there is a purpose in remembering. Memory is a gift. I believe that honoring the past is innate to human nature, and a powerful practice. But dwelling in the past can cause all sorts of problems.

In yoga, we are taught to be present, to stay present, to come into the Now breath by breath. This is easier said than done. The question becomes, then, how to maintain your connection to your story while being fully present to Now, while simultaneously looking ahead toward a future that is in no way guaranteed. Indeed, this is the practice.

Have you been there? Maybe it is an experience that is over: summer camp, your vacation, a wedding, a college reunion. Or maybe it is a person. Someone you loved deeply who passed away, a friendship that came to an end, an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe it is an old way of being you have had to shed as you have grown. Whatever it is, that spark—any of it, all of it—deserves to be honored. It deserves the energy and respect of your memory. It deserves to inform your Now in some way, shape, or form. And then you let go. You can always remember again later.

This is an asana (yoga posture) practice designed to help ground you during times of nostalgia, times when the past is desperately trying to get you stuck in your head and disconnected from the present. This practice gives ample space for allowing integration of the trip down memory lane and, ultimately, garners the power and gift of memory to create strength and intention in the present.

PHOTO: Child's pose.

1) Begin in Child’s Pose (Garbasana), knees the width of the mat, inner edge of big toes just touching, dropping the bottom toward the heels, hands above the head, elbows slightly bent to take any strain out of the shoulders and upper back. Notice your breath. Slow and deepen the breath, inhaling and exhaling completely. Count five rounds of breath as you allow yourself to look back to whatever you are feeling nostalgic about. Allow any and all thoughts. Notice how you feel. On the fifth exhale, release the breath with a sigh through the mouth, letting go.

2) Practice Mountain Pose (Tadasana) to create a rooted connection to the present. Stand with feet hip-width apart, inner-edges parallel to one another. Lifting and spreading the toes, press firmly into the three corners of the feet—the ball mound under the big toe, the pinky toe, and into the heel. Feel your foundation and connection to the earth. Draw energy up the legs as you inhale deeply and engage the upper thigh muscles. Feel the lower belly draw in and up, and as you exhale, tuck your tailbone under and lengthen from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Feel the upper body buoyant, lifting and lengthening, even as the feet ground into the earth. Feel yourself fully present, at home in the body. Count five rounds of breath. You may choose to chant five rounds of OM instead, being present to the vibration and sound.

PHOTO: Tree pose by the Crabtree kids.

3) Practice Tree Pose (Vrksasana) to continue rooting into the present as you balance the inevitable wobbles and falls both in the pose and on your path. Rooting into your right foot, lift your left foot off the ground. Externally rotate the left hip and press the sole of the foot into the right upper thigh. Aim for five consecutive breaths in the pose, letting go of judgment if you lose your balance and have to put your left foot down. Simply pause for a round of breath and come into the pose again.

4) Practice a supported chest opener on a rolled blanket or blocks to integrate past and present, and to physically and emotionally make room for the future. Lay back on a rolled blanket, a bolster, or yoga blocks with the soles of the feet together and knees dropping naturally to either side. Allow the shoulders to relax completely as the spine lengthens. Breathe into the open space of the body from the floor of the pelvis to the crown of the head, and garner the strength of your past and your personal story as support to allow for deep release. As though you are sweeping out cobwebs, allow each inhale to clear out space and each exhale to affirm your experience of each moment in its fullness, as enough.

5) Take Corpse Pose (Savasana) for 10 minutes or longer. There is nothing left to do and nowhere to go. Allow the body, mind, and spirit ample time for integration and rest.

6) As you slowly, gently, and mindfully release Savasana, come into Sukasana or any comfortable cross-legged seat. If your lower back rounds, sit up on a blanket or cushion. Float your hands to heart center. Drop your chin to your chest, a gesture of gratitude toward the self for taking time to practice.

As a stand-alone or complimentary journaling practice, consider what the memory you are feeling nostalgic about brought out in you. How did it serve you? Many times we fall in love with an experience, a person, a thing, or even a time in our life because something about it allowed us to feel safe and comfortable in our own authenticity. To put it simply, you were able to truly be you. What could you do in the present moment to give yourself permission to fully embody your truth? Can you find it within you instead of in a memory?

These practices become an inquiry into optimal living. They encourage active participation in designing the tapestry of your life and are a means to weave fluidly in and out of the linear with an awareness of the greater scope, the bigger picture, the now and the not yet.

Jai Bhagwan.

Namaste.

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Hilary’s website: www.hilarylowbridge.weebly.com 
Connect with Hilary on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HilaryLowbridgeYoga
Hilary in 140 characters or less: www.twitter.com/hilarybreathes  

Find previous "nOM - Adventures in Yoga & Food" installments by clicking here.

Sugg Street Post
Writing/Photos by Hilary Lowbridge 

 

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This Old "Witch" Makes Horror Flicks - This Witch is a Total Fan

"credit" PJ WoodsideHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/30/13) - "This Old 'Witch' Makes Horror Flicks" is a completely uncensored look at independent horror film making. PJ Woodside is one of the masterminds behind Big Biting Pig Productions, an internationally recognized, but locally-based independent movie company that films entirely in Hopkins County, KY. For a sneak peak behind the scenes, read on. (Note: some content may not be suitable for a younger audience)

Okay, so even though we (Big Biting Pig Productions) make movies and I even gave two of our movies to Norman Reedus when I met him at a conference, I still get a little starstruck when it comes to The Walking Dead. So when Felicia Stewart and I were asked to give a workshop in Atlanta recently, we decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the town where The Walking Dead’s Woodbury is filmed, which is about an hour south of Atlanta.

As you can tell from the pics, we had a fun time visiting there. They don’t give tours (at least they didn’t this particular day), but they are definitely prepared for tourists. The town is clean and picture perfect and has lots of places to park. It’s a simple matter to walk from one end of town to the other, basically from the railroad tracks up through the divided main street for about three blocks.

The town is called Senoia and has appeared in 15 or so movies starting with Driving Miss Daisy. An Atlanta branch of Raleigh Studios is nearby, which I’m sure has something to do with location deals in the area. The prison from The Walking Dead is somewhere in the vicinity but is not open to tourists. Herschel’s house is also in the region. You can go to this site to find other locations - Map of Walking Dead locations.

The upper end of town, around the water tower, is all original. The lower end, which is what you see beyond where Felicia is lying on the ground above, was created for the show. One side of the street has a large old building, but the other side, the one you’re looking at here, was just empty land before the show bought it. We talked with the girl working in the ice cream shop and she said she’s lived there all her life, and it used to be “pretty dead” down at that end, as she described it. Some of the shops along that stretch are real, but some of them are just facades or unused when there’s no filming. In the photo below you can see the back of this stretch of property. The metal building to the right represents the back of the farthest right buildings in the top photo.

"credit" PJ Woodside
Now I’m not so much of a geek that I hunted through stills from The Walking Dead and tried to match them with the town, but I feel sure some of these spots are familiar, including the two below. Didn’t Andrea talk to Milton in this quaint alley?

"credit" PJ Woodside
Didn’t something terrible happen in the building below? (Btw, Felicia is trouble. You should know this.)

"credit" PJ Woodside
In any event, we had a blast while we were there. We had lunch, bought t-shirts, and scouted pretty much every inch of the downtown. We found out they had filmed there just two days before (darn our timing), and would likely be filming more.

I’m almost glad they weren’t filming, though. I know what a film set looks like. What was unique for me was spending time in a real life place that represents a fictional environnment so real to me that I almost felt I could turn around at any moment and see a zombie climbing over a wall. It was ordinary in one sense, but magical in another. It exists as Senoia, but also as Woodbury. It is imbued with story.

I felt like a total fan. And I loved it.

Lucid is now on DVD and can be found at http://bigbitingpigproductions.com/LucidDVD.html.

PJ Woodside is the writer and director of Lucid, which features Bill Johnson and will be released in 2013. She is co-producer of Spirit Stalkers and six other movies with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions, and owner of PJ’s Productions. More from PJ's official blog can be found here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by PJ Woodside
Photos provided by PJ Woodside

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This Old "Witch" Makes Horror Flicks - Birthing a Script

"credit" Jessi SmithHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/24/13) - "This Old 'Witch' Makes Horror Flicks" is a completely uncensored look at independent horror film making. PJ Woodside is one of the masterminds behind Big Biting Pig Productions, an internationally recognized, but locally-based independent movie company that films entirely in Hopkins County, KY. For a sneak peak behind the scenes, read on. (Note: some content may not be suitable for a younger audience)

Have you missed me? I’ve been so busy finishing up Lucid, then having the premiere, then promoting the movie, that I haven’t really had the energy to write a blog. But now there’s a little space in my life and I’m ready to start a new script, and this is what I’ve decided to share with you:

Writing a script is hard.

In preparing to start a new script, I always take out my various screenwriting and filmmaking books and flip through them — not so much for inspiration as to remind myself of the process. Then I pull out my notebooks. I like to do much of the early work of a script on pencil and paper,  because it feels less final there, more fluid. Since I didn’t have any new notebooks on my shelf, I looked through my used ones for an unused section long enough for a sketching out new ideas.

And that’s when I came upon my notes for Lucid.

I have to tell you, I had forgotten what a long journey it was from early ideas to “ready to script.” An early working title was Dead Dreams. I had completely forgotten that. In the early versions, Monica was married and had children, and the villain was a next-door neighbor. I can’t begin to explain what moved me from that incarnation to the one that got made, but here are some of my notes from the last pages of the notebook — the point I got to just before I started actually typing up scenes.

Handwritten page 21 starts: “This is the story of Monica, who has disturbing dreams that keep getting worse until she has to do something about it. Her external motivation is to stop the dreams. Her internal motivation is to avoid the guilt of the accident.”

Understand, almost everything up to p. 21 is now no longer part of the story that got made.

P. 22: ”Woman in relationship, woman with tragic past and anger issues and trust issues, starts having weird dreams. She sees a shrink but it’s not helping. Dreams get weirder. Boyfriend wants to stop them. His agenda–to protect her and prove something.”

“External stress — dreams.
Internal stress — trust.”

At this point, the final story is making its way to the surface.

P. 23: This couple is still getting intimate — have moved in together but not complete trust.”

“First turn — she wakes up doing something dangerous (violent).
Second turn — dream woman shows up in real life.”

And here we have the beginning of the actual script that got made into Lucid.

It’s only on about handwritten page 28 that the Sandman shows up, in the form of the Guru. When the name “Sandman” came to me, I was ecstatic, as it worked so much better than “Guru.”

At that point I believe I began typing out more complete scenes, moving from paper to laptop as the “treatment” had become more defined. That first draft, of course, is still far different from the finished script, and farther still from the finished movie.

Birthing a movie is a long process, longer than we want to remember when we’re thinking of starting a new one. It’s kind of like what they say about having a baby — if you truly remembered what it was like the first time, you’d never do it again.

But here I go . . .

Lucid is now on DVD and can be found at http://bigbitingpigproductions.com/LucidDVD.html.

PJ Woodside is the writer and director of Lucid, which features Bill Johnson and will be released in 2013. She is co-producer of Spirit Stalkers and six other movies with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions, and owner of PJ’s Productions. More from PJ's official blog can be found here.

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Written by PJ Woodside
Photo by Jessi Smith

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nOM—Adventures in Yoga & Food: Another Visit from the Yogi-Foodie

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/18/13) - Happy summer! This week I’m happy to offer some delicious, nutritious, vegan or vegetarian and gluten-free recipes. Enjoy!

Kale-Quinoa Salad
I originally created this as a way to save time. I was having kale chips and quinoa and I thought "I could mix these together and this whole eating thing would go a lot faster." (Not that you should EVER rush eating, unless you have somewhere to be in 20 minutes and won't get to eat for another eight hours after that. Cut me some slack here!). As it turned out, the crispy kale was a lovely texture to compliment the soft quinoa. An idea was born. Soon thereafter I was making dinner, and decided to get a bit more creative. I roasted cherry tomatoes AND kale, and mixed both with quinoa. It was DELICIOUS served hot alongside poached salmon! Hooray! I had some leftovers and realized it was even good cold the next day, and although the kale was no longer crispy, it did still have a lovely roasted flavor. That led me to try a version intentionally served cold, almost like a pasta salad to have with a cookout. I also played with garlic, herbs, the cooking liquid for the quinoa, adding additional roasted vegetables like beets for color contrast, adding nuts; the possibilities are really endless. Here are two versions I like - one hot and one cold.

Warm Kale-Quinoa Salad
(Serve on its own - quinoa is a complete protein, you know - or as a side dish with fish)

Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh kale, de-stemmed, rinsed, and pat dry with paper towels.
1 box (about 1.5 cups?) cherry tomatoes
1 cup quinoa (if it isn't pre-washed, you need to rinse it).
2 cups water or vegetable stock.
2-6 cloves of minced garlic.
1 tsp cumin (or whatever you're in the mood for, honestly. I love cumin).
2 tablespoons olive oil (approximate. You'll roast the kale and cherry tomatoes in it and need some to sauté the garlic for the quinoa. I don't really measure olive oil, normally! Sorry I can't be more precise).
salt to taste (optional)
lemon or vinegar to taste (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toss your kale with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. On a separate baking sheet, toss your cherry tomatoes (DON'T cut them) with just enough olive oil to lightly coat them and a light sprinkle of salt. Remember when salting the components that they are all going to end up in the same bowl, so you don't want to overdo it! Roast in the 325 degree oven and check every 10 minutes, shaking the tomatoes to roll them around and flipping your kale over. You want the kale to be mostly crisp and not too brown. (The reality is if you put an entire bunch of kale on one baking sheet, it's never going to get perfectly crisp. So if you have two ovens [lucky!] and lots of baking sheets, you can be crazy meticulous about spreading your kale out so it ALL gets perfectly crisp. I don't have the time or the luxury. Alas). The tomatoes will get all nice and wrinkly like they spent too much time in the bathtub. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes, but check back frequently!

Meanwhile, heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan (that you have the matching lid for on hand. Not that I have mixed and matched pots and pans in MY house), on medium-high heat. Sauté your garlic and cumin for about a minute, until it just gets golden, and then add the quinoa. Stir, stir, stir, and listen to the lovely sound of the quinoa beginning to roast and pop. (Toasting quinoa DRAMATICALLY improves the flavor, in my opinion. You can (again) be really meticulous (with your 12 ovens) and do this on a cookie sheet so each individual grain turns the same lovely color of brown. I, however, cheat and stir it up in the pot for about a minute. I'm getting really jealous of your 12 ovens, though). You'll start to recognize the SMELL that means it's as toasted as it's going to get without burning. Add the water or vegetable stock, stir, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

Put your quinoa in a big bowl. Add the roasted kale and the roasted cherry tomatoes. Mix it all up and taste it. You might dig the rich, olive oil flavor and be good to go. You might want some acid to balance it and squeeze a lemon into it, or sprinkle some type of vinegar over it - I like red wine or apple cider. Ohhh, but I've not tried balsamic with this... hmm!

EAT IT. Yum.

Cold Kale-Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh kale, de-stemmed, rinsed, and pat dry with paper towels.
1 box (about 1.5 cups?) cherry tomatoes
1 cup quinoa (if it isn't pre-washed, you need to rinse it).
2 cups water or vegetable stock.
2-6 cloves of minced garlic.
1 tsp cumin (or whatever you're in the mood for, honestly. I love cumin).
2 tablespoons olive oil (approximate. You'll roast the kale in it and need some to sauté the garlic for the quinoa. I don't really measure olive oil, normally! Sorry I can't be more precise).
salt to taste (optional)
lemon or vinegar to taste (optional)
1-2 ripe avocados

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toss your kale with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, checking and turning/tossing every 10 minutes or so. I like the kale as crispy as possible for this one, but not burnt. Prepare your quinoa as directed above. Mix it all up and add olive oil and an acid (lemon or vinegar) to taste. Toss the quinoa with the kale and refrigerate. When you are ready to eat it, add the cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) and the avocado (cubed) and toss together. Check for seasonings - add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes - whatever floats your boat. SERVE! Yum.

Poached eggs in Cabbage Nests
Quarter a Savoy cabbage and cut out the core. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour a bit of olive oil (a teaspoon, perhaps) onto each of four squares of aluminum foil. Roll the quarters in the oil so it is covered and season with salt and pepper, then wrap the aluminum foil tightly around the cabbage. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes until they are roasted to your liking.

Serve one or two poached eggs inside each quarter of cabbage. If you really want your eggs to be in a nest, remove a few of the inside leaves (and eat them!) so the eggs have somewhere to go.

It's a weird but super delicious combination, and avocado goes well with poached eggs ALWAYS.

Enjoy!

________________________________

Hilary’s website: www.hilarylowbridge.weebly.com 
Connect with Hilary on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HilaryLowbridgeYoga
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Writing/Photos by Hilary Lowbridge 

 

 

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This Old "Witch" Makes Horror Flicks - Does the Witch Look Pretty?

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/17/13) - "This Old 'Witch' Makes Horror Flicks" is a completely uncensored look at independent horror film making. PJ Woodside is one of the masterminds behind Big Biting Pig Productions, an internationally recognized, but locally-based independent movie company that films entirely in Hopkins County, KY. For a sneak peak behind the scenes, read on. (Note: some content may not be suitable for a younger audience)

One of the strangest things about making movies occurs when I have to edit myself.

Yep, that’s my big face on the screen. And oh my, I look fat. That’s a weird expression. Did I just sing that line instead of speaking it? What was I thinking there?

It’s kind of torture. The upside is that I can make myself look as good as is possible given the takes for the scene. The downside is that when I am acting I’m not directing (Steve is) and so I don’t get to call do-overs based on the weird thing I just did with my mouth.

So here is my list of DOs and DON’Ts for casting yourself in something you will also have to edit:

1.  Get over it.

Yep, that’s about it. I could tell you to remember the camera adds 10 pounds when choosing an outfit, or to get lots of takes when you’re in the shot (for optimal angles), or to review every take before you strike set so you’ll know if you need more, or to always film your best side, yada yada yada.

The truth is, you just have to get over it. You won’t always like how you look onscreen. You won’t always be pretty. Sometimes you’ll look pudgy or pasty or mean.

But it’s not a senior photo shoot. It’s  a movie. What you should be looking for is how well you portray the character you were cast to play. Do you inhabit the scene? Do you connect with other characters? Are your actions authentic?

It can be difficult to separate yourself the “vulnerable affirmation-seeking inner child” from yourself “the editor.” But you have to. If you cast yourself in the part, you gave yourself a job to do. How well did you do it?

If you can’t be objective and disengaged from your feelings in this , you shouldn’t cast yourself. Simple as that. The movie is not about how good you look. You’re just one part.

Okay, okay, so you probably won’t ever be in this situation, but I think there’s a life lesson here. It’s not how you look in any given moment that matters — not the car you drive, or the jewelry you wear, or the job you have. What matters is your part in the story.

And for the record? Sometimes you look awesome.

Please visit our Kickstarter page if you’d like to donate to our next production, The Caretakers!

PJ Woodside is the writer and director of Lucid, which features Bill Johnson and will be released in 2013. She is co-producer of Spirit Stalkers and six other movies with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions, and owner of PJ’s Productions. More from PJ's official blog can be found here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by PJ Woodside
Photo by PJ Woodside

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This Old "Witch" Makes Horror Flicks - The Story of The Story

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/10/13) - "This Old 'Witch' Makes Horror Flicks" is a completely uncensored look at independent horror film making. PJ Woodside is one of the masterminds behind Big Biting Pig Productions, an internationally recognized, but locally-based independent movie company that films entirely in Hopkins County, KY. For a sneak peak behind the scenes, read on. (Note: some content may not be suitable for a younger audience)

We just finished up Lucid, so it seems like a good time to stop and reflect about how a story gets from idea to finished film.

Three steps: First you write a script. Then you film it. Then you edit it.

Only, there are about a thousand detours in that scenario.

First, the script itself is typically significantly different from the initial ideas that the story sprang from. In the case of Lucid, I knew I wanted to make a movie about dreaming. And I knew I wanted a female protagonist. And I wanted her dreams to become more and more disturbing. The first incarnations of this version, however, were much different from the actual treatment we ended up with.

I also knew the main character would be fighting for something over these dreams, and that element is the core of the story. But story and plot are two different things and none of the above is a plot. A plot requires change, obstacles, actions.

What I do at this stage of the writing is to brainstorm scenarios and pursue them until they don’t work anymore or they do work and become THE ONE. This is sort of a zig-zag trial and error process that I have to go through in order to get anywhere with the script. It’s important at this stage to keep in mind a few key things:

>Main characters need motivation, both internal and external.
>Villains need motivation, both internal and external.
>Ideally, the story should take a strong U or L turn at the 1/3 and 2/3 points. (this creates your classic 3-act structure)
>Questions should be initiated early on by events and circumstances.
>These questions should be answered somehow by the end of the movie.
>Action should begin as late as possible. (no sooner)
>Action should end as soon as possible. (no later)
>Backstory is for the writer, not the audience.
>The story must say something that matters. (Don’t get this confused with a moral — but this is what makes a story different from a series of events)

After I have pursued a number of ideas and settled on the ones I think work best, I then sketch out a 10-12 step plot script that represents the main events of the movie. This helps me to keep it simple.

Nothing is written in stone, you understand. Revisions are constantly happening as new elements have an impact on the character, situations, etc. After I’m happy with the current version of the plot list, I begin sketching out scenes. Again, I’m constantly moving forward and looping back, moving forward, looping back.

You get the idea.

In truth, a script is never finished being revised until the movie has gone to press, so to speak — we make adjustments all through filming and all through editing as well. ”Better versions” sometimes become apparent to me only AFTER I’m in the editing room — sometimes not in a way I could have predicted, but because of the collaborative nature of film.

We constantly make choices in the editing room, making the story better, stronger, different from the script. In the case of Lucid, we added a scene late in the game, several months after principal photography had ended. I added audio that wasn’t in the original script. I also completely flipped around scenes in the last third of the movie.

In short, the script is just the beginning. We know that. But that’s not a reason to have a weak script.

You can only imagine a great movie if you have a strong script to start with.

Lucid trailer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woji15tH9L0&list=UU6uhhRbkP0QTSOnMaJEBtyw&index=1

Please visit our Kickstarter page if you’d like to donate to our next production, The Caretakers!

PJ Woodside is the writer and director of Lucid, which features Bill Johnson and will be released in 2013. She is co-producer of Spirit Stalkers and six other movies with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions, and owner of PJ’s Productions. More from PJ's official blog can be found here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by PJ Woodside
Photo by PJ Woodside

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