An Interview With Producers Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman

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Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman are producing partners at Campbell-Grobman Films. Together they produced many horror films and the Netflix documentary, Winter on Fire; Here is a link to the company’s Facebook page:

 

https://www.facebook.com/campbellgrobmanfilms/

 

 

 
Q: How did you make the transition from acting to production?

Cc: I was very lucky to have Lati as a friend before we started working together. So I was subconsciously learning without knowing it . .. it was a natural progression. It felt right.

Q:  What attracted you to horror films?

Cc: I love exciting, thrilling films. They are fun to make . And if you do them right there is only an upside.

LG: Christa attracted me to horror films. i was never a fan and still am not.
Q: How did you two meet?

 

LG: we met throughout the years in Hollywood but never became friends until we were both in Miami. it was around New Years more than 15 year ago. i was stranded trying to get a visa to enter st. Bart’s and she was sick of the group she was vacationing with. so in my Israeli way, i offered to an almost stranger to stay with me in my hotel. It was a beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Q:  What is the function of an executive producer as opposed to all the other kinds of producers?

Cc: Honestly nowadays it’s all about the deal you make an not really about the work. There are many films we have done that when we are making the deal they say only ep credits allowed. But you take it anyway because you want the movie to happen. So it’s all about the deal you make sadly

LG: An executive producer is usually the person who brings in the money to a project. at least in the independent world. but many times we would bring a lot of the elements if not all the elements and still get an executive producer credit. it all depends on the movie. basically any producer credit if its an ep or actual producer are people who the movie could not have been brought to screen without them. sometimes it would be the person who holds the rights who has negotiating power. there is on manager in town that doesn’t let his actor be in a movie if he (the manager) not get an ep credit. not sure what i think of it.

Q: What is Winter On Fire about?

 

LG: Its about the conflict in the Ukraine. about people taking the streets to protest and being beat up and shot at with live bullets.

Q:  What made you interested in Ukraine?

 

LG: although i was born in Russia, i was not interested in the Ukraine conflict until i met the director Evgeny Afineevsky who shed a light at whats been happening there in the past few years. i never like to get into politic of a country i didn’t grow up in but the fact that people can not demonstrate can be very scary. So to me that was the main issue, the violence of the police against its own people.

Q: How did you get funding for the project?

 

LG: the director had the initial funding and we sold it to Netflix who brought it to the finish line. the majority amount of money in documentaries are on post and p&a.

Q: How do you think a Trump Presidency will effect Ukraine?

 

Lg: looks like Trump is taking a more of a separatist approach so im not sure this will help the Ukrainians. but they can’t expect America to help them, America cant be the cop of the whole world. they need to do it themselves.

Q: Do you think the US press has covered Ukraine fairly?

 

LG: they barley covered the story so NO.

Q: What is your weirdest on set story?

Cc: I have many. I remember my first acting job was a glorified extra on the wild Wild West . I worked 3 months in a corset. The best experience is to actually be on set so you can see how a film is done. The first AD was so mean an screamed at me all the time in front of everyone calling me names . I was on the verge of crying. It was humiliating. Then one day he saw the director come up to me and realized I was friends with him and the studio head who gave me the job. His face turned white. I thought wow this is hollywood…  that guy is probably out of work now .. and that’s the mystery of life ….

LG: I was working on my first movie as a set dresser. at one point the director pulled me off my gear and gave me a part of a bank teller. i ended up being in the promotion trailer in the festivals.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview With Writer Preston Fassel

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Preston Fassel is the author of Our Lady of the Inferno and an editor at Cinedump.com; here is a link to his Amazon page:

 

 

 

 Q: What is Our Lady of the Inferno about?

 

A: Literally, it’s about the intersecting stories of two different women in 1983 New York: Ginny, a runaway from the Midwest who ends up overseeing the prostitution operation of a Times Square gangster in order to help care for her disabled sister; and Nicolette, a waste management executive who moonlights as a serial killer, kidnapping prostitutes and ritualistically hunting them down in her own dump after hours. At the start of the book, Ginny has sort of become a criminal kingpin in her own right, but the moral compromises she’s made are beginning to take a toll on her, and a series of personal tragedies and professional missteps push her over the edge. Meanwhile, Nicolette is entering her third year as a serial killer, and her ability to isolate her “normal” persona from her “killer” persona is slipping. Nicolette learns about Ginny while scouting for victims one day, and she becomes obsessed with making her the next victim.

 

Thematically, it’s an ode to the 80s movies I grew up watching that had these very vibrant, appealing female characters like Night of the Comet and Modern Girls, and I used that template to explore a wide range of ideas and topics, like PTSD, and retaining your identity after trauma; body image; and gender relations and gender roles.

 

Q:  Who inspired the characters of Ginny and Nicolette?

 

A: Ginny is an amalgamation. Consciously, I started her out as the kind of girl I’d have liked to have dated in high school, mixed with 80s archetypes—I once referred to my original concept as “the valley girl from Hell”— mixed with bits and bobs of several women I’ve known and worked with. Her surname “Kurva,” for example, is a bit of wordplay inspired by something that a filmmaker named Jen Soska once said to me during an interview. As I got deeper into the book I started to steal bits and pieces from my wife. She used to be an inner city high school teacher and I took a lot of Ginny’s interactions with her girls from the way I saw my wife handling her rougher students. My wife’s also very good at convincing people to get things done and I took Ginny’s talent for talking people into doing stuff from her, too. Physically, I modeled her on Andrea Rau’s character Ilona in the film Daughters of Darkness, on whom I had something of a crush in college.

 

Subconsciously, I realized after I’d finished the book, a lot of Ginny’s darker elements had come from me—her drinking, her depression— but so does her fascination with outer space, her scientific background, and her taste in music and movies. I don’t know what it says about me that I made my literary analogue a strong, sexy, 21 year old woman…

 

Nicolette was initially born out of my desire to write a story about a serial killer who thinks they’re the Minotaur. It’s such a scary idea but so many people have tried and failed to do it well. Dexter had like one episode where he was the throwaway killer of the week. The Venture Bros. had an episode where the Monarch thinks he’s the Minotaur, and it’s all played for laughs. American Horror Story had their minotaur die pretty much offscreen after one episode. So much wasted potential. I also wanted to create a frightening female horror villain, and I figured that if Ginny eventually emerges as this feminist ideal—independent, brilliant, ambitious, nurturing—then Nicolette should be the opposite of that. She’s the sort of woman who thinks that all women should conform to her standards, who views women solely through the lens of their sexuality and who sees the world very narrowly, who figuratively and literally cuts down other women to get ahead in the world.

 

 

Q: What makes them worth reading about?

 

A: I tried to make Ginny a real, strong, yet flawed female protagonist, and that isn’t something there’s really a lot of. Writers are still trying to figure out how to do that. They think that “strong woman” means either she just beats a lot of people up, or she makes a lot of sarcastic remarks, or she’s super disaffected. And when a female character is strong she’s 100% strong and when she’s vulnerable she’s 100% vulnerable. They have about as much complexity and depth as an 80s action movie hero, and that’s not interesting. I wanted Ginny to be real and I wanted the reader to fall in love with her. I made her funny, and smart, and vicious and petty and loving and spiteful and strong and weak. She’s the kind of woman that most other women would want as their girlfriend. She’s the kind of woman most guys would want to date.

 

Nicolette is, I think, genuinely terrifying. I tried to make her, to all outward appearances, seem simply shy and withdrawn but otherwise very normal. And inside she’s completely and utterly consumed by hate and also very rapidly losing her mind. Her sections of the book are focalized through her deteriorating mental state, and the things she thinks and sees become more wild and hallucinogenic as the book goes on. At the same time, though, I also put a lot of dark humor into Nicolette’s sections because the more unhinged she becomes the more bizarre her thought processes get. Like there’s a point where she sees a woman at her office wearing the same blouse as her, and she has to look down at herself to make sure that the woman didn’t steal it from her when she wasn’t looking.

 

Q: What interested you about the 1980’s?

 

A: I’ve had a fascination with the 1980s since I was about twelve. I think part of it is that every generation tends to romanticize the era they were born into, either because it’s colored through their fond childhood memories or because there’s a natural tendency to feel like you “just missed out on something”. Another reason is because I grew up in a fairly rural town in Oklahoma called Broken Arrow, and into the late 90s and even the early 2000s it still pretty much was the 1980s there. If you look at my high school yearbooks some of the photos look like outtakes from a John Hughes movie.

 

Then, too, I just grew up on the pop culture of the 1980s, both what I lived through myself and then what was on television growing up, the movies my parents owned, the music on the radio, stuff I’d rent from Hollywood Video and Blockbuster… There was a certain je ne sais quoi about films from the 80s that no other decade has ever produced or been able to reproduce. In a lot of ways I had a great adolescence but in a lot of other ways it was also very traumatic, and in those darker moments the 80s—more specifically its’ pop culture—became an escape for me. A safe place. I saw the 80s as this romantic time full of bright colors and incredible music and the sort of possibility I felt was missing from my own life.

 

Q: You work for an optical magazine and website. How did you come to work in that industry?

 

A: After I graduated college I got a job as an optometric assistant and optician for a Texas State Optical location in Magnolia, Texas. The office subscribed to a magazine called 20/20, and its’ online supplement, The Optician’s Handbook. One day, during downtime, I was reading Optician’s Handbook and came across an article that I thought was just terrible. In addition to it being written very poorly, it also advocated, I felt, lying to patients about certain aspects of their lenses in order to get a sale. So I wrote this super-pissy letter to the editor explaining what I thought was wrong grammatically with the article—I actually copy-and-pasted the text into the email and dissected it line-by-line— and also taking them to task for running it in the first place. I didn’t think anyone would actually read it. Instead I got a letter back from the editor, Mark Mattison-Shupnick, thanking me for bringing it to his attention and saying that they were going to pull the article. Then at the end of the letter he asked if I would be interested in writing for them and inviting me to submit a sample story.

 

In retrospect I really think that it was more backhanded than anything, like, “Oh, you know so much about writing, why don’t you try writing something for us?”  At the time, though, I took it literally and I submitted an article about the history of Pince Nez glasses. I was really surprised when Mark accepted it, and even more surprised when he offered me a consistent, paying job writing monthly articles for them.

 

After about a year of writing for The Optician’s Handbook, I got an email one day from a man named James Spina, the editor of 20/20, the print magazine, who said he was impressed with a piece I’d done on the influence of Mad Men on optical fashion. He said that he wanted to start having me write articles for the print magazine, as well. My first article ran in the late fall of 2013, and I’ve been consistently writing for them ever since. When I entered journalism, James—who used to be a music journalist himself—became a sort of mentor to me, and helped me get my footing in the entertainment writing world and gave me advice on interacting with celebrities.

Q: You are an editor at Cinedump.com. How do you go about procuring writers for your site?

 

A: We don’t really actively pursue anyone. We have an open-door policy that anyone can submit material at any time. Our editor-in-chief, Jessie Hobson, will review it and if he likes it he’ll share it with my assistant editor, Jason Howard, and myself, and if we all like it then we’ll run the article and offer the person a consistent position writing for us. We recently added a fourth writer, Pennie Sublime, with whom I’ve worked at Rue Morgue in the past. I’d really like to see a few more people come on board through 2017 to generate more content for the site.

 

Q: What defines a “Grindhouse” movie?

 

A: Grindhouses were movie theaters on 42nd Street in New York (and more rarely the Tenderloin in San Francisco) that specialized in playing films that couldn’t or wouldn’t be shown anywhere else: really sleazy horror movies, violent kung fu movies, more mainstream pornography, and even some foreign arthouse films that were too sexual or violent for more commercial arthouses of the time. The term “grindhouse” itself comes from the 42nd Street theaters, which tended to run double-and-triple features back to back, continuously “grinding out” films. Over time, “grindhouse movie” became a catchall term for the sort of movies that would be shown at these theaters.

 

Q: What steps did you take to get your book published?

 

A: I sought out small, independent presses and submitted to them. It’s very hard, if not impossible, for a first time writer to get his or her debut novel published by a major press, and it’s just as hard for an unpublished writer to find an agent. My high school writing teacher was P.C. Cast, who’s now well known for the House of Night series, and she was my earliest writing mentor. I remembered that she’d gotten her first novel, Goddess by Mistake, published through a smaller press and built her career from there.

 

On top of that, all the places I submitted were horror and thriller publishers. I always intended OLOTI to be a literary story with horror elements, as opposed to a straight horror story; but there was also enough there in the way of horror, and so much of the story was an homage to 80s horror movies, that I didn’t feel dishonest shopping it around to horror publishers. It’s much easier to get attention from a genre press than one focused on “straight” literary fiction. At the same time, I was also doing book reviews for Rue Morgue and developing contacts in the horror publishing world who could act as advisors or guides.

 

Several horror presses turned down my pitches and query letters; a few asked for the complete manuscript and then ended up passing anyway. I think about a dozen places passed on OLOTI before Fear Front picked it up.

 

Q: What compels a person to write movie reviews?

 

A: There’s a degree of narcissism to it, I guess. The idea that you’ve got unique enough a perspective on a movie, and that you can articulate it in unique enough way, that it warrants you putting it down in print for other people to read. Then, too, I think there’s a sense of ownership of a movie once you’ve critiqued it. Anyone who reads that review is going to be made to see the movie through your eyes. You’re literally changing other people’s perception of a work of art. And when you do that, you are, in some small way, changing the art itself; and there’s a sense that, in doing so, you claim a piece of it for your own.

 

Q: What famous person would you most like to have Nicolette meet at the dump?

 

A: What famous person would I like to have my deranged serial killer hunt down and axe to death… I don’t think there’s an answer that I can give to this question that won’t result in a visit from the FBI.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Singer Aleisha Simpson

 

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Aleisha Simpson is the lead singer for the band Heart Avail; here is a link to their self titled  album:

 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/heart-avail-ep/id1175584934?l=en

 

 

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

 

A:  I’ve known I wanted to be a musician since the 8th grade. I was in choir and was being tested on some music theory. I started singing and the whole class went quiet and my music teacher put me in the select choir that day. I was a really shy kid so getting that kind of attention and realizing I was really good at something, changed my life.

 

Q: Why heavy metal?

 

A: I think we are considered more symphonic metal then heavy since we have the operatic vocals instead of screaming. Honestly I always figured I would end up doing music like Sarah McLachlan or Sarah Brightman. I play piano and that’s how I began composing music. But once I met Greg, I knew I had finally found my nitch. Greg writes really symphonic and complex pieces that somehow are perfectly fit to my voice and range.

Since our first attempt at songwriting I knew I never wanted to go back to just being a classically trained singer. I love the challenge that each new piece presents and makes me go outside of my musical box.

 

Q: Who are your biggest musical influences and how can we hear it in your music?

 

A: Heart Avail is very heavily influenced by European rock. Bands like Nightwish and WithinTemptation are some of our biggest influences as they also do really strong operatic vocals with a heavy symphonic instrumental sound. The U.S. hasn’t quite adopted this form of music yet with the exception of Evanescence. When I heard my first Evanescence song, I was instantly hooked. Greg and I defintiley follow the style of our fellow female fronted European bands and since we intend on traveling there we think this works out just fine for us J

 

Q: What kinds of life experiences do you like to write about?

 

A: Oh gosh, we have had so many. Honestly some of my favorite experiences are meeting other bands and our fans. This last tour we did for New Year’s Eve was one of our most memorable for sure. We met up with LaRissa Vienna and the Strange, another female fronted rock band that I had been trying to get together with for a year. They got signed with our management company to which I was thrilled and so we finally got to meet these guys on December 30. And it was amazing; the bands had instant chemistry with each other and were totally supportive of every member. It’s so rare that you meet bands that not only have talent but are humble and in that band, we found both. The bands danced with each other, stayed up together, had breakfast in the morning, we all talked to our fans and treated them in a thankful manor and just showed such a sense of comradery that I left tour with a full heart.  Our New Year’s Eve was brought in with style and full celebration together and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend it.

That’s just one of the many experiences but it’s the one freshest in my mind and honestly one of the best moments of my musical career.

 

Q:  Who is your biggest musical influence and how can we hear it in your music?

 

A: I think this is a repeat of question three but I will see who my biggest musical influence in my life was my grandfather. When I was a little girl I used to sit at the guitar with my grandpa. He would write and play music for me and those moments were always so special. When he died I knew that I had to continue on the legacy and make him proud.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your music?

 

A: I currently work at a drug and alcohol treatment center for teen girls. For me personally, music isn’t just about getting my music out there. Musicians have the ability to have a huge impact on the world around them and that has always been my goal. I want to inspire these girls that no matter how hard their circumstances and no matter what they have been through, that they can live their dream. I want to give them hope that they can get past this addiction; they can live a better life, a life that is full of promise and hope and has so much beauty in it. In our music, a lot of our lyrics are inspired by loss and depression and conquering both of these things. I want that, I want to inspire everyone around me, that they can overcome anything.

 

Q: You are a female fronted heavy metal band. Have you had to deal with much sexism?

 

A: Oh yeah. I started out this sweet innocent girl with big dreams and a view that everyone is good and wants you to succeed, which people instantly tried to crush so I had to become much harder. Unfortunately if you don’t take shit from people, you are instantly labeled a bitch. If a guy is rough and a jerk to people, he’s metal as hell, but if a girl doesn’t take shit from anyone and runs her band like a business, we get the “bitch” label. The problem is when you aren’t a female who takes off her clothes in music and refuses to be pushed around; you have to work even harder to get people to listen to you. To me, just because I’m a girl, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be treated as an equal in rock. I’m not going to start bawling in the middle of a set, or throw tantrums, like I’ve seen a lot of my fellow male musicians do, and yet there is always this stigma that girls just aren’t as good. It’s always funny to see the look of shock on people’s faces when they hear us for the first time. Yes I’m wearing a dress and my hair is curled and I just rocked your face off, get over it. My fans know I love and appreciate them and I didn’t have to sleep with anyone to get where I am and I am really proud of that.

 

Q: What is the song, “Broken Fairytale” about?

 

A: “Broken Fairytale” was written in the middle of a very bad breakup. When I was little I had this dream that I would meet a prince on a black, not white horse that would come rescue me and we would live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that prince never came and each one that came a long crushed a little more of my heart. So when Greg presented me with the music of Broken Fairytale we discussed how we wanted a really happy instrumental sounding piece with really dark lyrics. So I made my own fairytale out of the lyrics. Broken Fairytale is a metaphor for a broken relationship that almost destroyed me and a warning to girls who try and stay in destructive relationships.

 

Q:  What have you done to promote yourselves?

 

A: The first thing I realized about music was that no one is out looking for you. In other words I had to find every outlet possible to get our music heard because I believe we have a good product worth “selling”. So I began to search for podcast radio stations, online magazines, anyone who said they were looking for Indie artists I sent music to, no matter how big or small those companies were. It took a lot of time, I no longer have a social life, lol, and sacrifice, but we began to get noticed and approached by companies instead of me approaching them. When we got offered opportunities to hang out with people in the industry and get pointers on how to be better musicians, we took those opportunities no matter how much money they cost because we want to be the best musicians and band we can possibly be. We have run an 8 week radio campaign with our single “Broken Fairytale” and it topped online charts for 10 months. We then did a 3 month press campaign with Asher Media Relations where he got us published worldwide and we released our first 5 song EP with on iTunes through our distribution label, Milagro records. We also played at Sundance Film Festival last year and spent 10 days there networking with people and also went to Nashville, and California to meet up with industry people as well. In other words, a whole heck of a lot. I am promoting our band 24/7.

 

Q:  What is your most horrible music industry story?

 

A: Uhhhh. This year we got invited to attend a music conference in Nashville Tennessee with the intent on meeting people in the industry who wanted to teach musicians how to succeed in the music industry. We were told we were handpicked and that our music would be distributed to labels, radio stations, sponsors etc. but we had to pay to get to Nashville. So we bought our plane tickets, booked our hotels and Greg, my manager Kim K. Jones and I flew to Nashville. The first thing we saw was this “Christian” based event had jacked up parking to $25 a day just for their lot. We then got into the building and registered for the classes we wanted to take. And so began the four day conference. During this conference everyone was pretty much told, you are not good enough in the music industry, its evil and the only way you can succeed as a musician is if you donate your talent to “God” oh and pay this guy or that guy money so he can make you a better musician. Everything involved large amounts of money that was musicians were expected to pay and then told they needed to preach to people about the grace of God…….one guy insisted if you paid him $400 you could be as good as Taylor Swift. Each speaker told horrible stories of how they had lived, and really really bad stories that just made you feel dirty and then a speaker would get up and say and I quote “None of you are going to be good enough to make it in the music industry but God will take you. “ Bands had traveled from all over the world for this event to be told, you aren’t good enough. It was horrible and discouraging as hell and we left angry. Luckily my manager salvaged the trip by introducing us to an incredible guy with an amazing music studio and we did have a good time once we realized we did not want anything to do with this company and in fact skipped the last two days so that we could just tour Nashville, which is cool as hell fyi.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview With Writer A.C. Greenlee

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A.C. Greenlee is the author of Genesis: The Awakening; here is a link to her Amazon page:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Awakening-Paranormal-Fantasy-Adventure-ebook/dp/B01MFE154P/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Q:  What is Genesis about?

 

A: Genesis is about a young woman who is quite literally a walking anomaly, her relationship with a “grounded” Grim Reaper and their battle to not only save his world, but to keep each other alive. The main character Victoria Bouchard has a super brain and absorbs information like a dry sponge, even supernatural information that makes her quite the dangerous weapon should she fall into the wrong hands. And she does, finding herself at the mercy of the most heinous being to ever walk the earth; the Devil himself.

 

Q: What events in your life inspired you to write the book?

 

A: I was heavily influenced by an impromptu visit to the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca Iowa. Learning about the gruesome murders that took place there and imagining a bunch of supernatural situations definitely played a role in the books creation and is even a major plot point.

 

Q:  What is Victoria’s most unique characteristic?

 

A: Victoria is unique in the way that she’s a multi-faceted character with feminist ideals. She exemplifies the feminist ideology in the way that she’s not afraid to do whatever she wants and deal with the consequences in her own way. She’s outspoken and brash, but still has the capacity to be soft, yielding, and emotional. Victoria is the truest character I’ve ever written because she is literally an amalgamation of every strong, unabashedly brave, woman I’ve ever met.

 

Q: What separates your book from other paranormal fantasies?

 

A: I would like to believe it’s my characters. Anytime I’m interviewed I will often go on and on about the people I create, mostly because they are just that in my mind; people. I want my readers to take away more than a good story when they read my books, I want them to have an experience. Experience the rich, vivid worlds and the vast array of characters that inhabit them. I want you to walk away from my books having made a new best friend or even a book “boyfriend” you’ll never forget.

 

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how can we see those influences in your book?

 

A: Anne Rice was one of my biggest influences growing up as an aspiring writer. You’ll see traces of her in the fact that my characters take on lives of their own. And they’re often annoying enough that they’ll have you thinking about them months after you’ve already put the book down.

 

Q:  What kind of day job or income source do you have?

 

A: I am a graphic and web designer by day, video game addicted nerd by night.

 

Q:  Do you think it helps or hinders your writing?

 

A: I think it absolutely helps my writing. From making graphics for my books that give visual representation to whatever wacky activity my characters are a part of or sending my readers on virtual treasure hunts through websites I design; it’s just another faucet through which my creativity can flow.

 

Q: What made you interested in writing erotica?

 

A: I was never really interested in it to be honest, but my readers fell in love with my romance scenes and demanded I give it a shot. And it took off. Luckily they believed in me more than I did, otherwise it never would have happened.

 

Q: What trends in the genre do you find annoying?

 

A: The billionaire bad boy and stepbrother trends annoy me. I understand that they’re popular because of the demand, I just personally don’t like them. Don’t get me wrong, fantasy smut is something I think is healthy and wholly support being written and read, it’s just the overtly common tropes that make me itch. I also strive for originality in my writing and what I enjoy reading, even though everything has already been done before, so I tend to stay away from things that are trending.

 

Q:  How exactly does a Grim Reaper get banished from Hell?

 

A: Well, Kaizer was banished from the Guardian Realm, an alternate dimension that is home to others of his kind. Reapers are essentially bureaucrats; everything is executed concisely and is backed up by a crap ton of paperwork. And, when those Reapers step out of line, they face extremely harsh punishments, one of which is “grounding”. They are then sent to earth to live amongst the mortals they reap and atone for their sins. Let’s just say that Kaizer isn’t the most…cooperative Reaper in his realm. He’s prone to disobedience and flat out insubordination, which lands him in hot water just as much as you’d think.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Country Singer Richard Lynch

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Richard Lynch is a country singer who just released the single, We’re America Proud; here is a link to his YouTube page:

 

 

 

 

Q: What inspired you to write “We’re America Proud?”

 

A: It started from the need to have a jingle for a radio show I am doing on Renegade Radio Nashville, so the jingle was wrote and I aimed it towards true all Americans such as truck drivers, farmers and soldiers.   I was inspired to mention God and then the jingle was born.  My wife thought the jingle should be made into a full song.   So I wrote the country song We’re American Proud
Q:  What separates it from other country songs?

 

A: I have a true love and appreciation for what our country is all about and that is what inspired the song and sets it apart from other songs

 

Q:  Who are some of your musical influences and how can we hear it in your music?

 

A: My influences have been my Dad Woody Lynch who was a great country singer as well as the greats such as Keith Whitley, Conway Twitty and Mel Street

 

Q: How did your band get together?

 

A: I have been friends with and known my bass player for almost 35 years, he played with me the first time when he was just 15.  My drummer and steel guitar player have been with me over 20 years, I have a new guitar player and the keyboard player we used had been a member of Yankee Gray.   All of us are from the southwest Ohio area which has a huge country music influence from all of the people who migrated here from Kentucky and the Appalachians

 

Q: You work as a barn designer. How did you get into that profession?

 

A: I grew up on farm and my Dad taught me how to maintain the buildings that required a lot of upkeep and I have made a living for more than 35 years building and designing barns

 

Q: How does t effect your ability to perform music?

 

A: I am not building as many barns as I had in the past because of how busy we have become with our music.

 

Q: What are some common misconceptions about country music?

 

A: The biggest misconception is that the new music being played on mainstream radio is not country music.  Country music has more character than drum loop, generic lyrics you cant understand that has downgraded the music that it has no country soul to it

 

Q: What is “A Better Place” about?

 

A: A story about lost love that ends in tragedy and yet the love continues in the fellow’s passing away

Q:  What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

A: Hearing my music being played on internet shows, radio, TV and to see people in the audience sing songs I have wrote.

Q: If you could write a song for anyone who would it be?

 

A: I have wrote songs for and about my Dad and he continues to influence my music every day

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

 

An Interview With Writer Bogdan Dzakovic

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Bogdan Dzakovic  is a former security specialist who is the author of the book, “Fortress of Deceit: The Story of a 9/11 Whistleblower.”

 

 

Q: What did your role as a security specialist entail?

 

A: I had four basic jobs as a security specialist.  Three with the Federal Aviation Administration leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks and the last with the Transportation Security Administration after the attacks.  The first job was a Special Agent in which I documented (thru inspections) the state of aviation security.  This was the second most irrelevant job ever invented.  Basically just do the same thing every year never improving the system.   The second job was serving as an Air Marshal Team Leader.  Really liked this, excellent training, world wide travel – was an elite organization at the time, not to be confused with the current air marshal program.  Problem was, however, there were so few air marshals that we were basically irrelevant in the ultimate scheme of things.  My next job was pivotal.  Serving as a Team Leader in the Red Team.  The Red Team was an adversary team designed to replicate the tactics and equipment that terrorists would use in the commercial aviation environment.  Served in this position from 1995 until 9/11.  This job helped put me into the mindset to be able to think like a terrorist.  I knew as early as 1998 that a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 was imminent.  Attempted to prevent it.  Failed of course.  But filed a federal government whistleblower disclosure with the United States Official of Special Counsel (which reports directly to the President) right after the attacks.  The Special Counsel agreed with my allegations that FAA was a grossly inept organization.  Which leads to my last job working for TSA.   After 9/11 the government terminated FAA’s involvement in aviation security and established the TSA.  As punishment for trying to prevent the 9/11 attacks TSA buried me in an entry level staff job for the remainder of my career spanning from shortly after the attacks until I retired in 2014.  This was the most irrelevant job ever invented.  You could have trained a monkey to do what I was assigned.

Q:  What is Fortress of Deceit about?

 

A: The book is a professional autobiography spanning my thirty-two years working for the federal government wonderland highlighting some of the more egregiously inept, wasteful, and even treasonous activities I witnessed and/or participated in.  ALL of which was and still is considered perfectly normal behavior on the part of federal employees and managers.  The first half covers my early years in the military and in law enforcement including a brief stint engaged in the war on drugs.  The next quarter concerns the efforts I (and some colleagues) made to try to prevent the 9/11 attacks.  The last quarter focuses on how I (and other federal whistleblowers) are treated by the government for abiding by our oath of office and to adhere to the Constitution.  An epilogue follows on how to fix this broken system.  When President Obama was first running for office he made some comments about having the most open government in history and proclaimed that whistleblowers are an important part of this process.  The reality turned out to be much different.  Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the previous Presidents COMBINED.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have made it to retirement.

 

Q: What are some of the things the government could have done to prevent 9/11?

 

A: Simply hardening the cockpit doors would have prevented the attacks.  It was proposed as early as 1992 to do this as some gifted FAA employees recognized that nothing else FAA was doing would prevent a hijacking (I wasn’t involved in this particular event).  In my book I go into why this (and other) simple steps weren’t taken in the lead up to 9/11.

 

Q: Do you think the Patriot Act has really improved national security?

 

A: Absolutely NOT!   In the latter half of the 20th century many countries were plagued with their own indigenous problems of terrorism, guerrilla warfare or low intensity conflict.  These were primarily in Central and South America and in Africa.  In virtually all of these situations the government’s knee-jerk reaction to combat these threats became an even bigger danger to their own citizens than the terrorists could ever hope to achieve (which is actually a key goal of the insurgent mentality).  Before World War II, Stalin butchered millions of his own people.  After World War II, Mao butchered even more of his own people in China.  All in the name of state security.  When it came to killing his own people, Hitler was an amateur compared to what when on in the Soviet Union and China.  The point of this being that pin-headed politicians and bureaucrats are the same everywhere.  The clowns we elect into office as well as the senior bureaucrats they appoint to run the respective agencies are no different.  They’ll do whatever they can get away with.  The Patriot Act should be rescinded in its entirety as well as the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.  They are all unbelievably wasteful, inept, are black holes absorbing tax dollars and are unaccountable.  Yes, we do have a serious problem with terrorism, but there’s a smarter way to go about this and do so while remaining within the Constitutional boundaries of limited federal powers.  How federal whistleblowers are retaliated against by the government when they attempt to stop illegal or immoral government activities just reinforces this notion that federal politicians and bureaucrats will do everything they can to maintain the lucrative status-quo they thrive in.

 

Q: How do you think the Trump presidency will effect international security and terrorism?

 

A: I’m very optimistic.  Take a look at the problems our traditional establishment politicians have caused (not even counting prior to 9/11).  President Bush and his inner circle of misfits should be spending the rest of their natural lives in the worst prison in the country as war criminals.  What more heinous activity can a country engage in than war – when its not in self-defense (aside from killing its own citizens).  Iraq, in particular.  Obama and Hillary Clinton should be in the adjacent cells just for what they did in Libya, instigating its collapse.  Congress has made itself (with rare individual exception) completely irrelevant to keeping the executive branch in check when the President steps way outside his authority under the Constitution.  We started wars in the middle east and central Asia that clearly didn’t meet the minimum threshold as defined in the Constitution, we destabilized much of this area resulting in the killing of who knows how many innocent civilians, thousands of US troop casualties, we have the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and we have the largest national debt since World War II.  Trump was elected because Americans had it with these people.  He has the opportunity to bring some really creative energies into solving or minimizing a lot of these problems.  I think more bloodshed is inevitable given how nutty people have proven to be around the world, but I’m very optimistic that Trump will be a positive influence.  WE started a forest fire in the middle-east, unfortunately there’s no way to take it back, WE now have to deal with the consequences.  I think Trump will bring a more scientific or rational approach to tackling this problem.  Remember a few years ago when the viral contagion exploded out of the Congo.  The international community joined together and fought the disease head-on without fogging the situation with political correctness.  The place was cordoned off, specialists were sent into the country to kill off the disease using the best tools and understanding we had.  Lots of innocent local people died in the process.  Anyone that escaped the country was quarantined until the threat was neutralized.  No happy way to do this, but it had to be done.     Trump will hit the terrorism problem head-on.

 

Q: What was your oddest work story?

 

A: This is a tough one, so much to choose from.  I checked my big Webster’s dictionary on this to try to narrow down the meaning of “odd”.  The definition I am using is:   “Not usual or ordinary, singular, peculiar, queer”.  Particularly “peculiar”.  I mention some anecdotes in my book that some people might ascribe to paranormal activity.  But the most peculiar thing was when I had a great revelation:  Prior to 9/11, I (and some colleagues) ended up going to Capitol Hill to talk directly with our elected officials in an effort to get them to do something to stave off the imminent terrorist attacks.  I naively thought at the time, that our Congressmen would put aside their party loyalties and bickering and actually put their country first.  I remember standing near the pool in front of the Capitol Building, just staring up at the enormity of the building and the flag blowing in the wind,  saying to myself – “This is a damn peculiar place”.  What I later discovered is that Congress very deliberately and willfully sacrificed the lives of the 9/11 victims rather than upset the ways of the bureaucracy or the lucrative lobbying industry they thrive in.  They did an excellent job of covering up their involvement after the fact.  The 9/11 Commission was a whitewash.  Since then I’ve used a bit stronger words to describe the trash we elect into public office – with some exceptions.

Q: What would you change about the media’s coverage of 9/11?

 

A: The news media needs to take a lot of responsibility for exacerbating each and every terrorist attack by sensationalizing the event.  In the eyes of the fanatics and nutjobs watching their dog and pony shows, the news makes the killers out to be heroes and people to emulate.  Fighting the Great Satan, what better way to get your name in the world news, by dying in a blaze of glory killing as many infidels as you can.  Remember a few years after 9/11 when the space shuttle exploded upon re-entry.  I remember the news talking heads making comments similar to:  “Was this the result of terrorism and we should live in fear as they can reach out and touch us anytime they want, or was it an accident and you can go about doing your normal life?”  Some of the folks in the news media, particularly the TV talking heads, are as crazy and self-serving as the politicians.  Yes, we need to have a free press, but when they endlessly sensationalize this stuff I hope they at least have sleepless nights knowing they are largely responsible for egging on the next attack killing innocent folks.

Q: What can Americans do to stay more informed about national security issues?

 

A: As with many things in modern society this is a very complex issue and can be overwhelming to contemplate.  I can’t stand even looking at this crap anymore and I spent a career in it.  That’s why we hire elected representatives to deal directly with these issues.  The main thing Americans should do is READ the United States Constitution.  It’s a beautiful document and provides a working template on how our government is supposed to function.  People need to start electing people into federal office that have a track record of supporting and abiding by the Constitution, or at least with a commitment to do so.  When they step out of line we need to vote the bastards out.  In extreme cases charge these people with treason and hold them personally accountable.  Also, federal government whistleblowers need to have protections from retaliation that actually work, and hold government bureaucrats directly accountable when they do retaliate against dedicated public servants.  The federal government is so big and so complex that it takes dedicated employees on the inside to make sure the respective bureaucracies and the policies they enforce stay on the straight and narrow.  As I put in my book, after 9/11 I met over a hundred federal government whistleblowers, most of whom worked in the various agencies engaged in national security work.  The stories they related and the retribution they suffered is nothing short of horrific.  US citizens should demand that federal whistleblowers (who work in their behalf) are protected from retaliation and prosecute those who do retaliate against these dedicated federal employees.

 

Q: How were you selected to testify before the 9/11 Commission?

 

A: After 9/11 I had some communication with a few of the families of the 9/11 victims.  It was my understanding that they pressured the commission to have me testify.  Unfortunately, none of my relevant testimony is included in their final book.  I’m a footnote on page 400 and something.   The Commission also didn’t want to have any of the other good folks I worked with trying to prevent the attacks testify in front of them (namely Steve Elson and Brian Sullivan).  More importantly, nor did they want the piles of documentation offered to them.  The 9/11 Commission was an excellent whitewash in keeping the government’s bloody hands off the chopping block.

 

Q: What institutions do you think terrorists are likely to attack next?

 

A: I document in my book that I have a terribly good track record in predicting major terrorist attacks against the United States – and reference the documentation proving this.  Not only 9/11 but others.  I use the word “terrible” here because you cannot imagine what it feels like when you KNOW a major disaster is looming around the corner and try to prevent it only to be stymied by self-serving pin-headed politicians and bureaucrats whose only loyalty is their own pocketbook.  Then after the attack you get beaten down by these same people for daring to threaten this system they thrive in.  So I try not to even think about this anymore.  My book is a last desperate attempt to shed some light on this deplorable situation in government and hopefully someone in the next generation will learn from this and start fixing this broken system.  I do describe in my book, however, the methodology I used in making these very accurate predictions.  Basically it entailed examining the world-wide terrorist trends by looking solely at open source material such as newspapers, periodicals, radio and even TV talking heads, etc. Apply a bit of Sherlock Holmes’  deductive reasoning; combining these two with a Red Team mentality (which helps put one in a frame of mind to think like a terrorist); and presto – you’ve got a really good chance of being right.  Unfortunately this methodology is way beyond the capability of our illustrious intelligence, federal law enforcement and security agencies combined; these people couldn’t predict the timing of the next sunrise – at the cost of billions of tax dollars wasted.  Generally though, depending on Trumps effectiveness; I think it’s a safe bet that lone-wolf type terrorists will continue targeting venues where lots of people gather around.  What really has me concerned though is that critical infrastructures lag way behind the security measures required in this day and age.  Not just from terrorism but from state sponsors such as China, North Korea and Iran.      Fighting terrorism was easy, fighting bureaucracy and politics was what proved to be really difficult, indeed insurmountable. Hopefully our new President will start fixing things and hole these bastards accountable.

 

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview With Hip Hop Artist Vincent Cruz Montano

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Vincent Cruz Montano is a hip hop artist; here is a link to his YouTube page:

 

Q: What made you interested in music?

 

A: Music has always been a delivery of validation. Remembering back to the first song I enjoyed as a kid was by a female artist named Paula Abdul called Rush, Rush. Other than having an early spark toward the music my parents were listening to, I have also enjoyed listening to all kinds throughout my years into adulthood. Not until I started making music did I feel an inner spike which has me by the heart. It’s like being an artist helped my appreciation and feeling of content towards nowadays artist which assist me in catching their drift.

 

Q: What sets you apart from other hip hop artist?

 

A: Every artist whether Country or Hip Hop has their one percent illustrated through craft. Nothing specifically sets me apart though I can only surmise a few differences that might be substantial. For example, my song called “Donkey Kong Beat” took me about three to four weeks to get it sounding the way it does. If I did have to site something specific, it would be the one percent statement in other words. I try my best to have multiple one percent’s isolated from one another vs. one percent’s that coat tail from radio format. Not that there is anything wrong with coat tailing. My preference is to only practice that formation based on your own signature for development and growth.

 

Q:  Who are some of your musical influences and how is that evidenced in your music?

 

A: Tom Petty, Third Eye Blind, and Cyndi Lauper to name a few of my most liked besides Chvrches. Specifically Tom Petti in a song I use the lyric “Last name Jane first Marry what’s the chance?” Listening to Out Of The Vein by Third Eye Blind, upon recently graduating Burlingame high school, was I very pleased and subtly influence towards the concept of lyric being personal and containing memento vibe. Cyndi Lauper blows my mind with a few of her songs. “Money Changes Everthing” makes me consider the dedication and obligation of and to being a Star boy.

 

Q: What is the most innovative thing you have done to promote yourself?

 

A: Other than almost buying in bulk customized thumb drives, I have collaborations with a few rappers that have seemed to reflect the level of energy on target for radiation. Also, I once did a radio show though I am not sure how many people were able to listen. I have preferred to stay low key with my music. I also got propositioned to play my song at a club for a c-note by Ric Lee. Though I declined and used that payment toward another track. He gave me a heads up I wasn’t ready for. Getting your music out there takes a lot of resources.

 

Q: What trends in music annoy you?

 

A: No specific trends annoy me enough to call them out at face value. Irritation occurs when fifty one percent of the song is about you and what you think vs. know. Figuring something out was the most exciting thing that artist usually do as they start out. Then either you stick to that through mimicking, which works for some. Or you reach outside your comfort zone and make some songs with a message people can learn from through applying to themselves.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have?

 

A: I work at a Homeless Shelter. Due to importance of school having illustrated itself at this point, I plan on going back to school once it starts up again. I also have a moving job that occurs between two and three times a month. Though my moving job pays healthier than my job at the shelter, I feel that my shelter job gets me use to my fall back area of focus should music never find me. At least I can share with people starting today till my last. Being able to share music at work has been successful so far. I have a few new fans.

 

 

Q: How do your experiences at your day job influences your writing?

 

A: Nodaway I find myself writing poetry. Sharing with those around me has had its moments.

Being able to hang around with individuals with a wonder wall has its perks and moments of reality check. Engaging in conversations enables the message and energy to illustrate validation uncontested. Whether or not someone can change post a single conversation is debatable. However I find myself changing after simple interactions and quality of bounce back pertaining to respect. Listening to the way some are closed vs. being open has me very validated and content with my line of work. This holiday season allows for friendly suggestions being at least considered. Such as, just a phone call sends a message of love regardless of circumstance when you are just checking in for holiday wishes.

 

 

Q: What kind of themes do you like to explore in your music?

 

A: The theme of metaphors is fun to explore. Something to be taken away from the experience with aims to captivate. Being able to deliver a theme that tries to float as universal is a go to for me and music.

 

Q: What inspired the song Tropical Shawdy?

 

A: My First real girlfriend took me on vacation to Hawaii for the first time I had even been. I had the best time of my life through exploring what a real vacation feels like. Upon coming home, I was asked by a friend to make a second trip in the near future at that time. I invited my gf to come along though I did make the mistake of informing her that it was an all guys trip. But asking my friend if she could go, he responded with an of course. The flight time was only days away when he informed me that two of his gf’s would be attending to make the trip more affordable and to have some wing ladies. She found out and was not too happy.

 

Q: What is your theme song and why?

 

A: The “Donkey Kong Beat” is only rivaled by one other for top spot in area of theme song. I say this because the DK project took me several weeks to make acceptable. I have a number of rough drafts that needed to be combed over till it sounds the way it does. Not only the time but the energy and effort happened to go into it has a message about direction for The Vandals. My family helped me out with this song by providing their dedication as well. Though I know for a fact that I was a nuisance to Scandal for how many time I asked him to work on this project. He would always ask “why are you still working on the same song for such a long time?” Maybe eight years in the future you will have a worthy answer I would tell him.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.