Mildly Interesting: Another Antique Pencil Sharpener

Chicago Automatic Pencil Sharpener #2

My grandmother-in-law is 101 (soon to be 102) and stopped driving at around the age of 99. When she moved in with my in-laws, I was given a workbench that used to belong to her late husband. The bench had an antique pencil sharpener attached to it. This is the second antique pencil sharpener I own. You can read about the first one HERE. It does a great job considering the age. The insides could use a bit of cleaning to say the least, but it is interesting to see the various colors on the blades. I have no idea what the age of this pencil sharpener is. If you know, please contact me. I would greatly appreciate it. On to the photos!

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Campfire Radio Theater: Audio Drama For Halloween!


Happy Halloween!Campfire Radio Theater: Audio Drama For Your Halloween Listening Pleasure!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I’ve been a fan of audio drama since I was a child. I recall sitting in the car with my dad, parked in the driveway, listening to the conclusion of an episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater. The sound of the creaking door, the voice of E.G. Marshall, and the possibility of stories about ghosts and monsters had me hooked. If you aren’t familiar with the series, you can stream audio of almost 1,400 episodes at

Another favorite series of mine is the infamous “Nightfall” series from the CBC. It aired in the early 80s and scared the hell out of quite a few people. With some incredible performances of classic stories, modern horror, and filled with gruesome sound effects and excellent music, “Nightfall” became a modern classic that remains extremely popular amongst fans of audio drama horror. You can stream the entire series of 100 episodes just below. I highly recommend “The Debt,” “The Porch Light,” “Angel’s Kiss,” and “All-Niter” for starters. Keep in mind that this series is NSFW and is NOT child-friendly as it is actually quite scary in some cases with implied violence, gore, and a smattering of profanity. In my opinion, it is the greatest audio drama series made to date. But don’t take my word for it. Have a listen!

Audio drama and old horror films inspired me to compose dark ambient music. Some of the scores and library music used in these programs were fantastic! Shortly after I began composing dark ambient works, I was contacted by a film director who licensed tracks for a horror film. Another piece of good fortune popped up when I was contacted by a radio station that requested a copy of my music for airplay. How often does that happen? I was shocked and thrilled!

Years back, I contributed music to “Tomes of Terror,” a Post-Meridian Radio Players series produced by Neil Marsh. Neil and I are quite possibly the biggest fans of “Nightfall” that you can find. He is also a very talented musician. I would provide a link for listening, but I can’t locate anything online at this time. I will update the page if links turn up.

Fast forward quite a few years later where I found a great audio horror series called “Campfire Audio Theater” created by John Scott Ballentine. John is also a fan of the “Nightfall” series and mentions it as one of the inspirations for his series. You can read about the origins of the show here:

John is also a fellow audio mixing maniac. He has a great talent for creating inspired audio drama. I have listened to an estimated 12-13 thousand audio plays in my lifetime, and in my opinion, Mr. Ballentine ranks right up there with some of the best writers/producers. Now you must be thinking after hearing such high praise…”Oh really? Well then, let’s hear what he has to offer!” Can do! The episode that inspired me to contact him about getting involved with the series is called “Twilight Road.” For fans of horror, I sincerely believe you will enjoy this story. Have a listen!
“Twilight Road”

After contacting John, I sent over a “promo reel” containing some of my work. This led to contributing original music to the last couple of episodes. The first is called “The Philadelphia Xperiment.” The program description reads “Confined to a mental ward in 1951 and awaiting his impending lobotomy, an enigmatic WW2 veteran known only as Patient X recalls an ill-fated experiment to render a U.S. warship invisible resulting in nightmarish side effects for the survivors as well as uncovering a mind-bending temporal terror.” You can hear it below.
“The Philadelphia Xperiment”

Next up is a twisted take on the tale of Jack the Ripper featuring some impressive vocal talent and yet another one of John’s great mixes. It was great fun scoring new music for this episode and a wonderful exercise in composition for me. To top it off, John has the ear of a musician and weaves the pieces together into a powerful audio collage that compliments the story quite well. You can hear both parts below.

“RIP” (part 1)

“RIP” (part 2)

If you enjoy what you have heard, you can “like” and follow Campfire Audio Theater on Facebook at:

So, in closing, thanks to Neil and John and here is hoping I’ve filled your ears with fear and that you have a Happy Halloween!

p.s. Here is an audio outtake from “RIP” that is my interpretation of the song “A Violet From Mother’s Grave” which was allegedly sung by Mary Kelly on the night of her death.



Fall Foliage 2013

Fall Foliage 2013

It’s that time of year in Cincinnati where we generally have a beautiful display of fall foliage. Over the last few days, the colors have been very vivid and the weather quite good. I decided to grab my camera and head out for my annual leaf shoot. I have been shooting fall leaves almost annually for years and really enjoy it.  Ohio is a great place for those who enjoy leaf peeping and photography.

On my short list of places to visit was Ault Park.  Ault Park has a great garden/arboretum worth checking out. The park is loaded with a diverse collection of trees, flowers, and a lot of room to walk around.

I also took a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. Aside from the animals, you can see an impressive botanical garden (and beautiful leaves). Hop on the train and enjoy the ride while you are there.  Watch out for attack ducks though. They have been known to swallow tourists whole while honking out morse code for “Who Dey!” (never thought I would EVER say…er, type those words) Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the colorful season and great fall weather while it lasts…which could be around another ten minutes or so, give or take a week or two.

On to the photos…

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013

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    Fall Foliage 2013


Mildly Interesting: The Antique Pencil Sharpener

Chicago Automatic Pencil Sharpener

Before I tell the mildly interesting (boring?) story of how I found the antique Automatic Pencil Sharpener, I should explain something first. When we met the agent to have a look at the house we live in, we couldn’t help noticing that it was like a time machine back to the 50’s.  From the remaining pieces of furniture and antique appliances to the old paneling, tiles, and decor, the place was somewhat like a museum.

The little old lady who had previously lived here didn’t seem to change things very often. Even after moving in six years ago (it had been empty for some time), we still find old bits ‘n’ bobs left behind. I ran across owner’s manuals for some of the antique appliances that were in good condition (appliances AND the manuals), a very old bottle of dish washing detergent, old canning tools, an old painting by Grif Teller tossed in the insulation of the attic, etc.

Today I found an antique pencil sharpener in our house in a rarely used hallway in the basement where utilities are tucked away. I was looking for a place to run a microphone cable in my home studio. There was an old hat that I thought might be hanging on a hook. It was actually an old pencil sharpener. The sharpener was completely jammed with shavings. Knowing how the previous owner never seemed to update anything past the 50’s, I have no idea how long these shavings may have been in there. I decided to take a few photos of the sharpener before disposing of the shavings. It took awhile to scrape and pry them out.  After looking online for additional information, this particular sharpener seems to have been in production between 1915-1936. If anyone has any additional information, feel free to contact me. On to the photos.

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    Chicago Automatic Pencil Sharpener

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    Vintage shavings

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    Time to dump the shavings

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    Shavings in the trash

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    Empty case

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    Still works quite well


3 Reasons Why Cincinnati Is Photogenic

Downtown January 13, 2010

Aerial photo taken of Cincinnati taken on Jan. 13, 2010.

3 Reasons Why Cincinnati Is Photogenic

Cincinnati is a very photogenic city. As long as you have a camera and some time on your hands, I am sure you can find something interesting to point your lens at. It doesn’t matter if you are shooting with a Hasselblad, Holga, or your iPhone straight into your Instagram account, you won’t leave disappointed. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Architecture: From excellent French Art Deco like the Carew Tower to beautiful engineering like the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, you could spend all day walking around downtown filling up memory cards (or rolls of film). If you have a moment, visit the Cincinnati Museum Center and check out the largest semi-dome in the western hemisphere. If you go inside, you should be warned. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the hip of Orion, c-beams covered with glitter in the park, but I’ve never seen so many screaming children (one of them being my very own) rampaging around like something out of a scene in “World War Z!”

Look, even if you can’t tell the difference between Samuel Hannaford or the guy next door with his truck up on blocks in the front yard, just point the camera anywhere and shoot like a tourist! You can figure out what everything is once you get home and open up a cold can of Google!

2. Parks: If you aren’t into architecture, there are a lot of great parks with hills and excellent views of the skyline (not the restaurant, the city). When I say “a lot” it’s actually an understatement. We probably have more parks than chili parlors! Hell, we probably have more parks than every coney served at Skyline AND Death Star Chili over the course of a year! Okay…maybe not quite THAT many. That’s crazy talk!

I want you to know that a lot of these excellent parks are conveniently dropped on top of a bunch of hills we have strewn about all over the place. “Big deal!” I hear you say.  You aren’t very easy to please, are you?  Just go buy some coneys, pick out a park (with the exception of that one over by UC where the creepers like to park and wait for “friends” to show up), force those coneys down your throat, chase it with a magnesium hydroxide smoothie, and clean the grease off of your lens.  You are ready to go! Don’t forget to take off the lens cap.

3. Fireworks: Yeah, yeah…I know. You are probably thinking you could just attend your local 4th of July display and snap a few candid shots of toddlers setting dogs on fire with sparklers. Kids are dangerous! I know this for a fact (ask me about the time my daughter stabbed me in the eye with a drum stick).  But, if you haven’t witnessed the brown-trouser-inducing power of Rozzi’s fireworks display for Labor Day in Cincinnati, then you are truly missing out! They don’t just shoot off a few fireworks and call it a day…nosirreebob!  They blow up so much shit that you’ll find shrapnel dropping on your picnic a month later! It’s awesome!

If you drive into town a few days early, you can spread out your ground tarp, drop your beer cooler on top of it, and mark off a spot to photograph the fireworks down by the river. A word of caution. If you have any future plans to have children, you might want to skip the finale as the sheer volume of the explosions may render your wedding tackle effete. You’ve been warned. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention there are plenty of places to see fireworks all over the city for the 4th of July as well. If you are scared of fireworks, you can always attend the balloon glow at Coney Island, then run home to mama before the Rozzi family starts detonating Yonshakudama shells into Lake Como! \m/ Oh…almost forget that you can see fireworks at Reds games. I hear they fire off a round every time someone argues that Pete Rose should be in the hall of fame.

Don’t judge Cincinnati on my photography alone. I shot all of these from my basement window with a broken Walgreens disposable camera that I picked up used at the Goodwill.* I’m sure you will land some impressive shots with your Hasselblad and I expect you to send me a link! Also, if you are going to shoot photos through the window of your McLaren SLR 999, the least you can do is roll the windows down. Technique matters! :D

Cincinnati is a beautiful city with a seemingly endless supply of subjects to keep a shutterbug happy. Enjoy your visit!

*not true at all
  • Aerial View

    Aerial shot of downtown Cincinnati

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    Labor Day fireworks

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    Downtown as seen from Devou Park

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    Tall Stacks riverboats

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    Labor Day fireworks and the “waterfall” display – note people on lower...

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    Paul Brown Stadium as seen from Carew Tower

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    Tilt-shifted Museum Center (aka The Hall of Justice)

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    Building reflections on the Scripps Center

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    Tyler Davidson fountain: The Genius of Water

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    Ceiling inside the Cincinnati Museum Center

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    Lamp post in Alms Park on a foggy day

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    Fog settling around Lunken Airport