Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It Takes Heart...Chasing Hollywood

On my Facebook page, Author Cyrus Alderwood (a pen name) I have a lot of actors as friends on that list. Initially I set the page up to promote my latest book, but I got a lot more out of that just a few book sales. I paid attention to a lot of the posts that actors put up (many of whom would be considered as struggling actors chasing their dreams) and learned a good bit about the best of human nature and desire.

I am fortunate to have as a friend an actor named Jake Lawson who is originally from Gate City, Virginia, not far from where I grew up. I met Jake some time ago through mutual friends in the area (yes it is a small world in rural Virginia) and learned a good deal about the path that his life had taken and what kind of sacrifices and dedication it takes to follow your dreams. In short you need courage. And true to the title of this blog, it takes heart.

I sat down to talk with Jake a while back to interview him about his chosen career path and the struggles that come along with it. If you are an optimistic person that is chasing a goal or dream, Jake’s story should be a bit of inspiration. You see, Jake recently had a great turn in his acting career having filmed “Solace” with Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrell. Following on the heels of that breakthrough he was picked up for a major role in “Field of Shoes,” a story set back during the times of slavery in the South. Both major films will be released in 2014. If you don’t know who Jake Lawson is, you very well might by this time next year.

I asked Jake what it takes to chase your dreams and barely get by in L.A. for 9 years before getting a break.

“You have to have that never say die attitude,” he says. “Life in this business is tough. You have to keep improving and believing in yourself. And now, finally, after nine years I’m seeing good results from the hard work I put into it. You have to have family and friends to lean on through the tough times. They get you through them.”

He worked countless jobs in L.A. to get by. Just like most actors that are trying to make their way, he worked in food services, worked as a substitute teacher, worked construction, and countless other tough jobs just to get by. However, Jake didn’t leave for L.A. right after college to chase his dreams. He started out as a school teacher in the Gate City school system teaching English and coaching the basketball team.

“Growing up I always loved basketball. I have a passion for it. I wanted to be the next Mike Kryzewski and that’s why I took the collegiate path I chose. I wanted to coach for a career.”
Jake decided to go back to graduate school in order to chase that goal. He coached for a small college for four years before taking a job coaching another high school team in Oak Ridge, TN. The transition back to high school was tough so he left that job and went back to Gate City. After working for a local attorney and politician for a short while he knew that it was time to take the plunge into acting, something that he had been wanting to try since he was a kid. Jake went to Nashville where he got his Screen Actors Guild card after filming a couple of commercials for the U.S. Army and Goodwill. In 2003 he left for L.A.

He had the courage to leave behind a steady job, predictable income, and health benefits to follow a dream that had been a part of him for most of his life. When I asked how tough that was, he said it wasn’t a hard choice at all. “This was what I was always supposed to do.”
“I just want to keep the momentum going,” he said when he explained that he just signed with the top talent agent in the southeast.

I asked him what his thoughts were as he reflected back on the past nine difficult years.
“Thank God for all those old jobs and struggles. That was my path to travel. You have to enjoy the journey.”

Jake is a great example of hard work and dedication. I always keep a simple philosophy in my head when things are tough and find that you don’t have many supporters in your corner. Winners focus on what they are going to. Losers focus on what they are going through.

You can get more information about Jakes acting career at the Internet Movie Database:
One of my favorites, he played the crazy old preacher in a small town zombie movie spoof.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Go Read Some Comedy, Damnit!

You know that feeling you get when you’ve went way too long without a break? The constant stress of work and life catches up with you and all you want to do is escape to your own private beach or cabin somewhere and take a week to relax. To do absolutely nothing but enjoy the sunshine, the peace of nature, the stars shining brightly at night, and maybe read a good book.

You need a vacation…some time away to find yourself. To rethink your life and the path you’re on. It’s that place where being exhausted is borderline burnout. That place where you don’t want to be.

That’s where J.D. found himself in the book “Pot of Gold.” Working long hours at the bank and burned out with his station in life, he finds himself constantly stressed. To add to his woes he receives the letter stating that his divorce from his high school girlfriend is final. It was a rough marriage with a bad ending. Just when he thought his day couldn’t get worse, he receives a letter from a local attorney informing him that the father he never knew had passed away.

J.D. meets with the lawyer thinking he’s to discuss the matter of a small inheritance. Instead, J.D. is given an opportunity. A once in a lifetime opportunity. His father left behind a chance for him to take an adventure, one that could change his life forever. He accepts the challenge and sets off cross country with his best friend and troublemaker, Pete.

As they travel the path J.D.’s father set out for them they somehow manage to piss off the wrong people, the New Jersey mob. “Pot of Gold” is the hilarious journey from coast to coast of friends looking for their own purpose in life with two aloof mobsters on their heels trying to bury them along the way.

"Pot of Gold" can be purchased at all major online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Top 35 Hair Bands

There’s nothing like going to a concert and paying way too much for a ticket and getting a mediocre show at best. It also reminded me of times when the rock shows were more like a party, the ticket price for general admission was $19.50 and if you got there early enough you were pretty darn close to the stage to see you favorite bands. Yep, that was the 1980’s when there was always a tour going on…a headlining act and usually two other glam bands that opened up for them. The show would get kicked off at 7:30 and wouldn’t end before 11:00.

I remember seeing a lot of Hair Bands (of Glam Metal, if you prefer) back in the 80’s and early 90’s before MTV killed rock and roll. So, I thought I would put together a list of my top 35 Hair Bands of that era. I’m sure I’ll leave some out. But here’s my list of personal favorites.

35. Def Leppard
34. Extreme
33. Bulletboys
32. Whitesnake
31. Motley Crue
30. Helix
29. Dirty Looks
28. Thunder
27. Slaughter
26. Scorpions
25. Bon Jovi (Not a real fan, but Wanted Dead or Alive is bad ass enough to get them on the list)
24. Badlands
23. Warlock
22. White Loion
21. Lynch Mob
20. Enuff Z’ Nuff
19. Trixter
18. Britny Fox
17. Tuff
16. Tesla
15. Shark Island
14. W.A.S.P.
13. Quiet Riot
12. Lita Ford
11. Poison
10. Warrant
9. Twisted Sister
8. Skid Row
7. Great White
6. L.A. Guns
5. Faster Pussycat
4. Dokken
3. Ratt
2. Kix
1. Cinderella

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Next Indiana Jones Movie

One of my favorite movie franchises of the 1980's was Inidana Jones. The first in the series, Raiders of the Lost Ark, still remains my favorite to this day. Although they are all great, you must admit that one is tough to beat. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was great, and in the 1990's we saw a revival of the brand with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Harrison Ford has starred in some of the best movies of the last thirty years, but we movie buffs will always remember him as Han Solo and Indiana Jones. That is why it was kind of sad when I went to the movies and watched Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. It was also a great movie, and the plot moved forward from Indiana Jones always battling the Nazi's to finding a new foe with the Soviets during the Cold War. It was refreshing to see him square off in a new adventure with a new foe.

However, father time catches up to all of us. I was a bit skeptical when I first heard Shia LaBeouf was to play his son and potentially take up the lead for the franchise. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of the Transformer movies, which is why I was I skeptical. However, after seeing that movie when it came out I was very much surprised that the torch had been passed so effectively.

I think LaBeouf will do an excellent job with the franshise if the powers that be in Hollywood decide to make a few more Jones movies. So the big question is...when and if they will make another? Is it already being developed? I sure hope so!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Remember the 80's?

I thought I'd take a few moments and share the introduction to the book, The Ultimate 80's. It's available on all e-reader formats. I have included the links for it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble at the bottom of this post. You'll like the book. Not only does it bring back a ton of good memories, but it's funny, too! Enjoy!

Ah, the 1980’s. Just getting a chance to hang out with friends brings back so many thoughts of that amazing decade. Growing up in the 80’s meant that we were a bit more innocent than we are now, we were the last generation of kids that would go out and play at night without the hassle of a cell phone and as long as we were home a few minutes after the street lamps came on then all was well in the world. In fact, the only people with a “cell” phone were the super rich like Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street, and the only people with beepers were drug dealers! How about that for being in the technological stone age!

If you’ve bought this book (and obviously you have), I bet one of the first things that went through your mind when you found this book was that goofy email that goes around from time to time and on Face Book called “Children of the 80’s.” Well, there were actually a few versions of that email going around, but here is one version that probably looks familiar:

We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first "lost generation" nor today's lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak. We are the ones who played with Lego Building Blocks when they were just building blocks and gave Malibu Barbie crewcuts with safety scissors that never really cut.
We collected Garbage Pail Kids and Cabbage Patch Kids and My Little Ponies and Hot Wheels and He-Man action figures and thought She-Ra looked just a little bit like I would when I was a woman. Big Wheels and bicycles with streamers were the way to go, and sidewalk chalk was all you needed to build a city. Imagination was the key. It made the Ewok Treehouse big enough for you to be Luke and the kitchen table and an old sheet dark enough to be a tent in the forest. Your world was the backyard and it was all you needed. With your pink portable tape player, Debbie Gibson sang back up to you and everyone wanted a skirt like the Material Girl and a glove like Michael Jackson's.
Today, we are the ones who sing along with Bruce Stringsteen and The Bangles perfectly and have no idea why. We recite lines with the Ghostbusters and still look to The Goonies for a great adventure. We flip through T.V. stations and stop at The A Team and Knight Rider and Fame and laugh with The Cosby Show and Family Ties and Punky Brewster and what you talkin' 'bout Willis? We hold strong affections for The Muppets and The Gummy Bears and why did they take the Smurfs off the air? After school specials were only about cigarettes and step-families, the Polka Dot Door was nothing like Barney, and aren't the Power Rangers just Voltron reincarnated?
We are the ones who still read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Beverly Clearly and Judy Blume, Richard Scary and the Electric Company. Friendship bracelets were ties you couldn't break and friendship pins went on shoes - preferably hightop Velcro Reeboks - and pegged jeans were in, as were Units belts and layered socks and jean jackets and jams and charm necklaces and side pony tails and just tails. Rave was a girl's best friend; braces with colored rubberbands made you cool.
The backdoor was always open and Mom served only red Kool-Aid to the neighborhood kids- we never drank New Coke. Entertainment was cheap and lasted for hours. All you needed to be a princess was high heels and an apron; the Sit'n'Spin always made you dizzy but never made you stop; Pogoballs were dangerous weapons and Chinese Jump Ropes never failed to trip someone. In your Underoos you were Wonder Woman or Spider Man or R2D2 and in your treehouse you were king.In the Eighties, nothing was wrong. Did you know the president was shot? Star Wars was not only a movie. Did you ever play in a bomb shelter? Did you see the
Challenger Shuttle explode or feed the homeless man? We forgot Vietnam and watched Tiananman's Square on CNN and bought pieces of the Berlin Wall at the store. AIDS was not the number one killer in the United States. We didn't start the fire, Billy Joel.
In the Eighties, we redefined the American Dream, and those years defined us. We are the generation in between strife and facing strife and not turning our backs. The Eighties may have made us idealistic, but it's that idealism that will push us and be passed on to our children - the first children of the twenty-first century. Never forget: We are the children of the Eighties.
Yes, America! We are the children of the 80’s. So who are we? That can be summed up by a simple essay. If you are truly a child of the 80’s, you won’t need me to tell you what movie this comes from. You’ll know from reading the first line.

“Dear Mr. Vernon:

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But, we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But, what we found out is that each one of us is: a brain . . .
And an athlete…
And a basket case…
A princess…
And a criminal…
Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club”
Welcome to the 1980’s all over again. Let’s have some fun!

Friday, March 15, 2013

You Might Be a Redneck...

Not to go all "Jeff Foxworthy" on you, but if you have a pair of swinging truck balls on the back of your might be a redneck.

(This concludes the shortest blog post on the web.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The 80's Best Songs

Do you know that feeling you get when you're driving down the road and one of your favorite songs comes on the radio, one from when you were in high school? Maybe it's a rockin' tune and your pulse races and you speed up a little bit when you hear "I Can't Drive 55" or "Panama" is playing. Or maybe it's one of those classics like "When Doves Cry" by Prince and the Revolution or "Don't You Forget About Me," the classic theme song to The Breakfast Club movie.

Whatever the song, nostalgia sets in. It does for me. Everytime I hear "Heat of the Moment" by Asia I crank the radio up loud and think back to those fun times. Hanging out with friends and "cruising" around town just to see who else was out and what our other freinds from school were doing for fun. Sometimes we'd end up at a friends' house playing Nintendo or watching a movie. Of course back then they were all on VHS. Yep, those old dinosaurs are long forgetten by now unless you were a part of the last batch of kids to see those. We would go back out and cruise around a while longer playing music from the cassettes put out by our favorite bands back then (Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Huey Lewis and the News, etc...) only to end up at someone's house to watch Saturday Night Live back when it was in it's prime.

So as you think back to those times, your favorite songs, your best friends...take a walk with me through the 80's and smile. Check out my book about those times, our experiences, and all things fun about the 80's. Tell some friends about it, then get together over drinks and talk about some good times. The Ultimate 80's is available in all e-reader formats, but here is where you can check it out if you have an Amazon Kindle:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Americans!

The Americans, the newest show on FX, is a breath of fresh air for viewers who are tired of and turned off by the endless and mindless number of reality TV shows. Finally a show that highlights mystery and intrigue on a weekly basis. If you haven’t been following the show so far I suggest you set your DVR Wednesday nights and enjoy this roller coaster of international espionage.

This show is set in the early 1980’s and features a married couple with two young kids. By day they seem like just another ordinary American family living in the suburbs of D.C. However, they were trained in Russia to be spies in America, to blend in with the culture, to raise children like every other family, and to conduct deadly high level espionage when instructed by their bosses from Moscow. In the second episode their task was to plant a bug inside the home of the Secretary of Defense.

 So what’s next and where will their loyalties ultimately lie as they are torn between the commitment to their homeland and their two kids and life in America. Give this show a chance and you’ll likely not be disappointed.