Amazon enters original TV fray with ‘Alpha House’

Amazon enters original TV fray with ‘Alpha House’ (via AFP)

Online retail giant Amazon jumped on the original Internet TV programming bandwagon Friday with a character-driven political sitcom created by the man behind the “Doonesbury” comic strip. “Alpha House” stars John Goodman, Clark Johnson and Matt Malloy…


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Entertainment memorabilia gets stage at Amazon.com

Entertainment memorabilia gets stage at Amazon.com (via AFP)

As this year’s Academy Awards ceremony nears, Internet retail colossus Amazon.com has launched an online shop stocked with film, music, and television show memorabilia. The Entertainment Collectibles Store opened its virtual doors on Tuesday at amazon.com/entertainmentcollectibles with more than 350…

Amazon says music catalog open to Apple users



Amazon says music catalog open to Apple users (via AFP)

Amazon said Thursday its 22-million song music catalog was now “optimized” for users of Apple devices, making it easier for iPhone owners to circumvent the iTunes store. The move is part of a new initiative by the Internet retail giant challenging Apple’s dominance of the digital music market. “For…

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Add The Art of Men To Your Reading List

I make it a point to read, listen to, or watch anything that the people I admire or consider my friends have worked on.  This has led me to experience so many amazing things (and a few not so amazing).   I also make it a point to recommend the good stuff to anyone and everyone I know.  That is the case with Kirstie Alley‘s new book, The Art of Men (I Prefer Mine al Dente).  Its no secret that I follow Kirstie on Twitter and that we enjoy regular exchanges (well, I know I do & I hope she does too) and its also known that I have had the pleasure of being in her presence on a few occasions.  Those are moments I always treasure and they are some pretty awesome memories too!

I got The Art of Men for my Kindle this past Tuesday evening and began to read it that same night. I was so into reading that I shut off the TV and got so lost in the stories that I forgot to tweet (If you know me, you know these two actions are very rare).  I almost always have the television on in the background and no matter what I am up to, I regularly check in with Twitter.  I found myself treating the experience as if I were actually visiting with a friend that was in town for a few days and I wanted to spend as much time catching up with them as possible.  Reading this book is truly like sitting across from Kirstie at dinner and enjoying her stories, advice, and humor.

You may know Kirstie from Cheers, Veronica’s Closet, North and South, Look Who’s Talking, or her various other roles.  Whether she is dancing on Dancing with the Stars, encouraging people to join her in her weight loss journey by taking about her company Organic Liaison, acting, working for various charities, organizing relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy, or doing a talk show interview, she does it all with that infectious laugh and sense of humor.  This book is no different.  There are touching moments, sad moments, and a few shocking moments, but no matter what there is always that sense of humor.

In true Kirstie fashion, she is honest, open, and holds nothing back.  I am so glad that she included a piece on her religion.  It is not preachy or an attempt to convert anyone but it does clear up some misconceptions many people have of her.  I have found myself being asked more than once by people if I have ever been approached about the subject when I have seen Kirstie.  This is SO not the case, she is someone who shares her spirit with you and encourages people to be the best they can be but has never imposed anything on me.  Now when I am asked that question and find myself defending her, I will just refer people to that chapter.  Who better to explain, right?

Another thing I am asked is “What is she like?” and that is something else I can refer people to the book for.  If you want to know what Kirstie Alley is like, read this book!  It is written by her in her own voice.  It is a refreshing, honest, and open account of her experiences with the men that have touched her life as well as a look into her life and career.  She admits when she made a mistake, she acknowledges when she may have been able to handle a situation better, and she doesn’t make excuses for any of it.

Since the book came out and people have started reading it, or are pretending they are reading it, I see some criticisms about some of the people she has admitted to being in love with.  I can understand fully that the heart can fall in love while the brain can say, “OH, NO, this ain’t gonna happen.”  How many of us have friends we would allow ourselves to be with if the circumstances were right? We are all guilty of crushes that never amount to sex.  Every lustful feeling is not acted upon while some of these experiences can leave you with the gift of a most amazing friendship.

If you really want to judge Kirstie, look at the quality of the friendships she has built and look at the quality of the children she has raised.  I met True and Lily so I can tell you that her description of them is spot on. Yes, there is motherly bragging thrown in there too but I can honestly say that even from the limited time I was in their presence, I could see the goodness in them just by how they treated the people around them. That is all anyone really needs to know, well that and the stories Kirstie chooses to share in her book.

So, if you are a fan of Kirstie and/or her work, do yourself a favor and pick up  The Art of Men.  If you aren’t, maybe you should read it anyway, you may find that you can be a fan after all.  I am sure you will find something to enjoy, learn something new, and come away feeling as though you had a chance to visit.   Most importantly, I think you will see that Kirstie has always been entertaining, even when she may not have thought she was or wasn’t even trying to be.

Now that I have read the book the next thing to look forward to is her new sitcom on TV Land, coming soon!

 

Derek Bishop Is More Than Just a Piano Man

To say that Derek Bishop is a musician or a keyboard player does not do this performer justice.  Derek Bishop is an experience on stage that one should treat themselves to.  The first time I saw Derek perform, I was impressed, intrigued, and delighted.  His showmanship perfectly compliments the lyrics and melodies of his songs.  I have had the privilege of seeing Derek perform in the NYC area and am so happy to be able to introduce you all to him.

Q: Did music help you to be more comfortable about coming out?

A: It didn’t necessarily make me more comfortable, but it gave me a platform to work through a lot of turbulent emotions.  And that platform provided me with some great songs and a much-needed cathartic outlet — which I feel very fortunate to have had.  One of my favorite songs of my album, “HARVEY” is specifically about coming out.  I think it will always be a favorite because of how that time in my life shaped me. It’s also the song where I get the title of my CD, “Resistance is Beautiful” — which is a lyric that is very telling about that era of my history.
Take a listen: http://soundcloud.com/derekbishop/harvey

Q: You describe yourself as “maker of melodies and odd odes.” Who and what sounds inspire you most?

A: I love ear candy.  I love sounds, instruments and arrangements that are different from what we normally hear in a song.  I want to create music that is “ear-catching.”  I work hard to give each of my songs a sound and a pallet that is unique combining elements that one might not usually put together.  In terms of what inspires me, it could be anything from finding an old xylophone in a junk shop and wanting to try implementing that into a disco song — or just hearing two songs back to back from two different eras and wanting to figure out how it would sound to merge those decades together into something fresh. Inspiration can come from anywhere: reading, bike riding, seeing someone good-looking walk down the street… And I don’t care if that inspiration ends up in lyrical or melodic form.  I just take it when it comes and run with it.

Q: Your music incorporates new sounds as well as old.  Would you say you are an old soul?

A: Although I love many a vintage thing from days gone by, I really don’t think I’m an old soul. I’m way too trusting and naive   A few songs on my album are about being lost, clueless and letting time and opportunities pass me by. I would hope that if I were an old soul, I’d be a little more quick to pick up what’s going on. That said, I am a smart guy who has the reward of past experiences on my side to help me guide through the future.

Q: What artists would you like to work with? Besides Brett Gleason, of course! :)

A: I would like a one-on-one with Butch Walker discussing music production and stage singing stamina (I think he’s just amazing!). I would love to record some songs with Christine McVie in a vintage-sort-of-way, using only Wurlies, Rhodes and B3s (she plays them beautifully…and I miss her voice!)  I would like to co-write a lyric or two with Amiee Mann. (She’s so smart and dry in her writing.)  I‘d love to sing harmonies with the fellas from The Kin. (The way their voices intertwine is a modern day alchemy.) And I’d like to do anything musically with Stevie Nicks… Heck, I’d be happy just to hang out with her! Lunch..tea…what ever she prefers! I’m available!

Q: I have been privileged to see you perform live. It is quite a performance. Do you see yourself as equal parts showman & musician? Any aspirations to act?

A: Thank you so much for saying that.  I’m truly thrilled you liked my show!  Honestly, I just try and put on a show that is equal parts musical and visual.  I want to make sure that I not only sing well, but I’m well-rehearsed on the piano. And I always consider what I will wear. I’m on stage, so I don’t want to just look like I’m hanging out on the sofa.  As a keyboardist, I’m somewhat trapped behind the piano, so I do make a concerted effort to make sure my show is more than just “guy-at-a-piano”.  When I see a show that I really enjoy — one that inspires me — I take mental notes because I want to ensure I do something similar at my gigs.  I want to entertain…but I have no aspirations to act.  Though I certainly enjoy making the music videos. Lip syncing and emoting to my own tunes is all the acting I care to do.

Q: Along those lines, is Derek Bishop the man the same as Derek Bishop the performer? Beyonce has her stage persona, Sasha Fierce, do you have one as well?

A: I have no alter ego. I’m just a little more confident on stage because I have melodies (and sometimes a drummer) to back me up.  Pretty much, I am the same fella on and off stage. I even dress the same. My songs are rooted in my experiences and history, so I want to share those as honestly as possible.  I don’t want to put on a mask that could cover anything up.

Q: Where can we find you online? Purchase your music, connect with you?

A: Online, I’m at www.derekbishop.net
You can find and purchase my music at Amazon ( www.amazon.com/Resistance-Beautiful-Derek-Bishop )
and Itunes ( http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/resistance-is-beautiful/id444180412 )

Socially, I’m most active on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr
https://twitter.com/MrDerekBishop
http://www.facebook.com/DerekBishopMusic
http://mrderekbishop.tumblr.com/

And be sure to check out my videos on youtube. (i’m working on a new one right now!)
http://www.youtube.com/user/DerekBishopMusic

Q: What do you think of shows like American Idol, The Voice, and X Factor? Do they help artists? Are they beneficial to the industry, in your opinion?

A: I believe they can occasionally help the occasional artist, but mostly they just create fast disposable entertainment. These shows are not about fostering talent, they are about ratings.  I don’t think they are beneficial to the artist nor the industry, because they aren’t looking for long-term talent.  The time frame these shows run on is just too fast. You cant grow a fan base at the rate these shows play out. Every now and then someone makes a big splash…so if you’re Carrie Underwood, then congrats to you.  If you’re one of the other winners or runners up, often times you are forgotten in a few weeks.  And then it’s in-with-the-new, out-with-the-old. It’s not about creating art or artists, it’s about creating quick commerce.

Q: What are some of your favorite songs to perform? Why?

A: When I’m performing for myself, I’ll put on some old Ben Folds Five tunes and play along. That’s an excellent finger workout! If I want a good vocal workout, I’ll sing along to my favorite Butch Walker tunes. (He’s got a range and nuance that I find inspiring.) In terms though of performing live for others, I tend to do well covering Fleetwood Mac tunes, since I’ve been playing them for 25 years!  But my favorite songs to play live are my own.  I’m still proud and in love with all the tunes off my CD, “Resistance is Beautiful” — and playing them live (either with a band or solo) gives me great joy.  My top songs off the CD are “Why Hold On”, “Thinking About You,” “Pass Me By,” and “Jackpot.”  Playing my own songs means they are constantly evolving – the arrangements always changing.  I love that.  The difference between how these songs are performed live and how they were originally recorded is huge. I find that exciting as a performer and as someone who loves these tunes.

Q: What’s up next for Derek Bishop?

A: Right now I’m about 75% finished writing songs for my next album.  I’m planning to record it early this winter and even before that I’m going to perform them live several times with a full band.  Where the last CD sounded like a nod to the 1970′s, these new songs will be a more 80′s influenced.  I’m going to be using a lot of synthesizers in the recording (mostly the very vintage ones I’ve had since I was 12!)  I also want to take advantage of all the really talented friends I have and use them throughout the recording!  Of course I’ll also be making some really fun wacky videos as well.  In the mean time, I’m going to do my best to keep promoting my current CD, which I still believe has a lot of life in it!