pjhstudios blog

Show #5 – Songwriter Showcase at the Grotto


Green light bathes the stage. Why? Does anyone look good in green light?

First guy (Randy Barnett) has at least 2 songs with whiskey references. Self aware and self deprecating “played for a room full of strangers / and they didn’t like our songs”

He has a ragged country voice that works with the bluesy riffs.

His last song was written about a girl who worked the door at a bar. It received a few laughs from the crowd and gave the female bartender a reason to smile.

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Narrow the Gapp


Gina Trapani built a data driven web app that displays the pay disparity between men  and women, called Narrow the Gapp. It uses stats from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics by job class.  A very simple design with built in sharing functionality that makes the point.

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Stasis promotes mediocrity


When things remain the same, in a state of stasis, there’s no pull in any direction for worse or better. Yes. There are some things where you want the stability of stasis–your house’s foundation. But in a job, how many roles thrive on stasis, things inactive? Yes, harmony is good, but if inactive for too long, does a person really grow? Over time, they’ll seek out actions to remain in harmony, or stable, not really growing or changing or stretching themselves to be better. And that’s what mediocrity is–just ok.

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Looking for treetops or scouring for ground paths


When lost in the woods, do you look for the sky amongst the treetops or do you scour the ground for worn paths?

You’ll need both, to get a sense of direction and to get your footing as your orient yourself.

Communicating’s the same way. You’ll need some higher level goals, supported by details to get to the point.

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A concert on the diamond


There’s something to the first baseball game attended for the season. A concert on a diamond field, underneath bright lights. Instrumental, a bat, ball and glove provide the rhythm to the crowds matching cadence. Tension rises with each fly ball. Drama arises as base runners stand closer to home. Each swing of the bat brings surprises. Each at bat, a song. Each inning, a run in the setlist. The end of the game is rarely set.

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Paul McCuen – Spiral


Taking a sliver of World War II history, cutting edge science in nanotechnology and biology, and a conspiracy of geopolitical consequences,
Spiral delivers a smart and tense techno-thriller.

Liam Connor, an Irish soldier who was a scientist during World War II, witnessed a horrific event in the Pacific Ocean, where the military took extreme measures to end a biological outbreak caused by the discovery of a lone Japanese sub whose crew died of mysterious reasons.

Sixty four years later, Connor, an accomplished professor at Cornell University, is found dead of an apparent suicide. Survived by his granddaughter Maggie, grandson Dylan and close colleague Jake Sterling, Liam leaves a series of clues, knowing something might happen to him. A brutal killer follows them, in search of what Liam knew of the incident in the Pacific. Meanwhile, Robert Dunne, a national security advisor hears of Connor’s death and immediately knows what his death is related to.

Spiral’s plot is well paced with a rising sense of tension. Seemingly random details tie in well throughout the book, and the interactions between characters and the characterization of the main characters is well done. Perhaps there isn’t nuance, but there is depth to Jake, Maggie and Robert and even a villain. McCuen isn’t afraid to kill off secondary characters in gory deaths, either, and surprisingly, the dialogue, for a debut novel in the thriller genre, flows well.

Underlying the plot, themes of political paranoia, xenophobia and the responsibility that comes with modern science come out.