Do you know what Memorial Day is all about? READ ON!

Welcome to Memorial Day weekend 2015. During this weekend I would hope everyone would take a moment to understand what this weekend means, what it’s all about.

It’s not about a three or four day weekend, it not about sitting on the beach and getting a tan. It’s about honoring Americans who DIED for this freedom we enjoy. Those people are gone, they’re dead, they no longer have the ability to enjoy all this life has to offer, and they died for this country, for all it represents. Take a moment. While you’re grilling your hot dogs and burgers this weekend, remember this wonderful freedom we enjoy was paid for with our most precious blood.

Fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, all paid the ultimate price so you could achieve your dreams, be who you want to be and enjoy all that America represents and offers. There are people elsewhere in this world who are oppressed, who can’t walk out of their homes and fire up a grill and enjoy a juicy steak with baked potatoes, or go to the beach and relax under the sun.

Don’t take this for granted. People died for your freedom. You can at least take a moment this weekend to honor them and remember their sacrifice.

That’s what Memorial Day is all about. May all those who gave their lives for their country, or who served our country and have passed on, be blessed by God and be at peace. I thank you for your sacrifice. To those who are still with us and have served this country, God bless you and thank you for your service!

What have we done!?

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See this planet? That’s our home. A pale blue dot suspended among the cosmos. Sadly, we think it’s ours to do with as we please. Because of that misguided attitude, things are beginning to change. NASA reports that by 2020 the Antarctic ice shelf that has been there for over 10,000 years will be gone. By gone I mean, it’s not there anymore and may never come back. Are we so blind and so ignorant to allow our stupidity to destroy this beautiful gem called Earth?

Imagine for a moment that a friend has invited you to stay at one of their condos in Florida for your summer vacation. And during that stay you do things that end up making that condo uninhabitable. Well, you simply would walk out the door, apologize to your friend and find another place to stay. Pretty simple right? In the case of our planet, our home, the answer is a resounding no. Because we have no other place to go – we lack the ability to travel to other places in our galaxy and create new colonies on distant worlds. So the situation is, we’re making our planet uninhabitable and we will have nowhere to go once it’s been ruined by our selfishness and inability to change the way we do things.

Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere are the highest ever recorded. Sea levels are rising because of the glaciers and ice shelves melting around the world, most especially Greenland and Antarctica where the bulk of our world’s ice and glaciers lie. Coastal towns and cities will be flooded within the next 5-10 years. And as I mentioned above, the 10,000 year old ice shelf in Antarctica will be gone in 2020, that’s FIVE YEARS from now. Not forty or fifty years, FIVE! The situation with our planet is accelerating.

Now I am not saying I support the global warming thing. Rather I support the theory than mankind is contributing to an already existing, and natural, warm-up period of our planet. You see there are a lot of things in nature that have cycles, not just the seasons. Our planet warms up and cools down over millions of years. In my opinion, the earth started a warm-up period just recently (over 100 years ago), and when humans began driving cars and pumping pollutants into the atmosphere, it made the natural planetary warm-up worse than it should be. Our planet is going to fight back as best it can, but not before we lose some very precious things, such as the Antarctic ice shelf. It won’t be the first time we have lost a piece of Antarctica, ice shelves have been disappearing since 1995. This one is just one of the big ones and really sends up a flare that something isn’t right with our planet.

We need to stop using fossil fuels. Drilling in the Arctic isn’t the answer either. This all needs to stop and we need to focus on alternatives. If we just take the half-ass approach we’ve been taking for the past half-century, things are only going to get worse. Deserts will replace lands that were once green and fertile, the sea levels will rise until every ounce of ice is gone, leaving cities flooded and where there were once beaches, will be water. The climate will change, winter will slowly fade away to be replaced by spring-time temperatures in January. The atmosphere will become saturated with more and more pollutants and the sun will vanish behind clouds. Plant life will begin to wither and die, the animals that rely on those plants to live will pass away and the animals that hunted those animals will die. The chain reaction will slowly work its way upward to the top, when we humans will then starve. A runaway greenhouse will take over the planet and our home will cease to be the big blue marble, rather it will look something like Venus.

Scientific evidence shows that at one point in time, Venus was much like earth. It had water on its surface and a habitable atmosphere. But unfortunately it was too close to the sun and eventually the world was transformed into something straight out of hell. I think Venus is there for a reason, we need to learn from that planet’s fate so we don’t share it. While our Earth is in the perfect location in orbit around the sun to support life, if we continue this irresponsible path we’re on, it won’t matter where it lies in the solar system. We will be the method by which our planet becomes uninhabitable. Then where do we go?

The answer is…nowhere. We become extinct…

La Ricetta di Amore – Pieces and Fragments Debut

In 1997 I began working on what would have been my first opera. It was to be a comic opera (opera buffa) in one act. The name of the opera was “La Ricetta di Amore” (The Recipe of Love). The task of composing something so daunting as an opera ultimately decided its fate. The chances it would ever be performed were zero and I had a ton of other works waiting in the wings that I wanted to finish. So the opera was abandoned, some pieces were recycled into other works and the entire thing just went into my vault of unfinished and abandoned works.

In 2014 while going through this vault I rediscovered the parts of the opera that were mostly finished and decided I wanted to go ahead and present those parts as they were. But I had many other irons in the fire and never got around to making that video until now. In this video I talk about the opera and then you get to hear the six pieces and one fragment, all that exists of the opera I never finished.

First Full Trailer for “In Character”

I mentioned about a month and a half ago that I was selected to compose music for an upcoming documentary called “In Character”. The first couple of teasers featured my composition “Haunted by Memories”, but now I am proud to present the first full trailer for the documentary, which features new material composed specifically for the documentary.

Five Years ago, I lost my best friend in the world…

It was a typical spring morning that May 4, 2010. The pollen was making me miserable as always, but this morning my allergy suffering was set aside as I walked down the hallway to the doorway leading to my parent’s bedroom. There, my Mom and the hospice worker were talking to one another in hushed tones. I greeted them with a “Good morning!” and asked what was going on. The hospice worked looked at me and she placed her hand on my shoulder, “This is the day we talked about a few months ago, it’s very unlikely your father is going to survive beyond today.” My heart raced and my stomach turned in knots. She went on to tell me that she wanted to show me how to give him the Morphine that would keep him calm. We walked into the room and the first thing that hit my ears was a rattling sound coming from my Dad’s chest. It was loud, it filled the room. With each breath you heard the sound of fluid gurgling in his bronchial tubes. The best way to put it was, it sounded like someone sipping through a straw when there was only a few drops of liquid left in the glass. I had never heard anything so horrible sounding. The hospice worker showed me how to do the Morphine, with a small syringe, squirting the medication under his tongue. She went back out to finish talking with my Mom, who was visibly shaken and upset. The man she had been married to, the man she had loved for 51 years, was nearing the end.

I stood by my Dad’s bedside and he was completely out of it. The rattling in his chest was deafening. I stood there, helpless, unable to do anything for this man who had done so much for me from the day I was adopted into his family as an infant. No, the word helpless just isn’t descriptive enough. I couldn’t save him. I walked out of the room and grabbed my cel phone and called my uncle in New Orleans. Thankfully I got hold of him and told him, “you better get a flight ASAP and get up here. Your brother isn’t going to make it through the day.” He said he would get the earliest flight he could get. Then I started calling other family members who I knew couldn’t make the trip, but needed to know that my Dad’s life was coming to an end.

Memories of a day two years earlier came rushing back to me. The day he came home and told me that the chemotherapy had stopped working, that he would be entering field trials at the National Institutes of Health. I remember hugging him with tears in my eyes and telling him, “Dad, I don’t want you to die!” and he returned my embrace and said, “Son, I don’t want to die.”

The day went on and every four hours or so I would give my Dad a few drops of Morphine under his tongue. When I asked him to open his mouth he did so, but in the way a person would if they were half-asleep. I told him I loved him every time.

That evening I was on the phone with a friend and we were talking about this whole experience I was going through when my mother came to the door and said, “Kevin…” I told my friend to hold on, she continued, “…I think your father has died.” I hung up the phone and walked into the room and realized it was absolutely quiet. It was the most surreal thing I have ever experienced. The deafening gurgle from his lungs, that rattle, was gone and replaced with utter and complete peace.

I walked over to him and his head was tilted onto his left shoulder, eyes closed. I reached for his left hand and felt for a pulse, there was nothing. I then checked his carotid artery on the right side of his neck, nothing. I remember stroking the hair on his head a few times and then looking at my Mom and saying, “He’s gone.” My mother burst into tears and I took her into my arms and held her, telling her that he is now free of pain and is with God. His days of suffering are over. The funny thing is I felt nothing. I was absolutely numb to the emotions surrounding his death, at least at that moment. I felt I had to be strong for my Mom and not exhibit any emotions. As I am calming my Mom down, the doorbell rings. I ask her to sit down and I run down the stairs. Opening the door I am greeted by my uncle. I feel sad for him because he just missed my Dad. In fact I told him, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but you just missed him.” My uncle went upstairs with me and he stood by my Dad’s side and there was some emotion on his face but he controlled it.

About a half-hour passed and the hospice doctor on call came and did all the official legal stuff he had to do, making out the death certificate and pronouncing him dead. I found some grotesque humor out of that, I felt it was kind of funny that a doctor has to say he’s dead before it’s official. I mean, really, the man is dead!

Around midnight the funeral home arrived and wrapped my Dad’s body in a blanket and carried him out to the wagon. My Mom was very emotional at this point, all I could do was hold onto her and watch. Shortly after they left, my uncle said he was going to check in to his hotel and would see us in the morning for breakfast. There was nothing more to do, so I went into the family room and turned on TV and laid on the sofa for a while. After my uncle had left, my Mom came into the room as if she was lost. She simply didn’t know what to do with herself. She asked me if I was ok and this was the time for me to say, “No, I’m not.” I sat up on the sofa and she sat next to me and I looked her in the eyes and told her, “Mom, I can’t hold it anymore…” and just started crying really hard in her arms. She told me she was proud of me, that she knew I was being brave for her. After about a half hour of crying, I was done. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I went upstairs, closed my door and went to bed, to escape from this horrible day, when I lost my best friend, my mentor, my father.

Today is the fifth anniversary of these events. They say that time heals all things. It may heal to a certain degree, but the wound will always be there, waiting to be opened again by a stray memory or thought. I miss you Dad.