Insurance for Patent Enforcement?

Dear Rich: I am patent pending and am worried about what will happen if my patent is granted and a big company rips me off. I can't afford to sue a big company. Will lawyers take my case for a cut of the profits? What do the little guys do? Getting into a lawsuit sounds pretty scary, probably a lot scarier than our neighbor's excellent Franken-pumpkin which appeared yesterday afternoon. It's a beautiful job and when we asked him whether he bought that shaped pumpkin because it looked like Frankenstein, he replied that no, when he got it home and looked at it for a while, the pumpkin said "Frankenstein" to him. Now that's how creative people channel inspiration. It's a little bit like the sculptor who, when asked how to scultpt an elephant, said, "Take a big block of marble and chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant."
Right, you had a question. Yes, an independent inventor with limited funds is in a bind when it comes to patent enforcement. Even if the funds can be found to fight a big company, the battle can drag on for years and cause much personal turmoil. Like patent expert David Pressman puts it, the utility patent is basically a hunting license. Obtaining the license without the necessary funds to use it against others makes it a useless piece of paper. There are three common solutions for this issue:

  • align yourself with a big company. A big company usually will -- as part of your licensing agreement --  chase down (or possibly scare off) thieves and competitors. The downside is that you may end up earning less from your invention if someone licenses it (versus the profit margin if you manufacture it). On the other hand, often it's just the opposite and the right licensee can earn you substantial profits and save you a lot of hassle.
  • consider offensive insurance. Yes, there is such a thing as offensive patent insurance and you can read more about its pros and cons.
  • find a contingency litigator. Some patent attorneys take cases on contingency. This is often difficult and can be expensive (giving up a third or more of the recovery). Learn more here.

Monika Borzym - Girl Talk

MonikaBorzym - Girl Talk
2011, Sony Music

Monika Borzym’s heroes have alwaysbeen trumpeters:  Miles Davis, Chet Bakerand Terrence Blanchard were her gateway into Jazz.  While there, Borzym was captivated by thedivergent voices and styles of performers such as Ella Fitzgerald and CarmenMcRae.  The Poland-born crooner studiedin the United States at Miami’s Frost School of Music, furthering her love andknowledge of jazz and classical forms under teachers such as Lisanne Lyons,Larry Lapin, Ira Sullivan and Shelly Berg.  During her time at Frost, Borzym met guest lecturer Matt Pierson (JoshuaRedman, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny), who is Borzym’s primary collaborator on herdebut album, Girl Talk.

 Borzym opens with a cover ofAmy Winehouse’s "You Know I'm No Good", showing off a sweet andsultry voice that would be right at home in a 1930's gin joint. Monika Borzymdelivers crisp lines with a polished presence that belies her 19 years, and herinstrumental accompaniment is first class. "Extraordinary Machine"finds Borzym taking on a manic, talk-sing lyrical barrage in conjunction with aminimalist arrangement. The result is an intriguing tune that will leave youdizzy yet satisfied. "Even So" stands out from a string of exceptionalperformances, with Borzym imparting a mature presence and seasoned melancholyin dulcet tones that will have you quietly on the edge of your seat.

The opening cadence of"American Boy" (Estelle) carries vague suggestions of Jobim's"Girl From Ipanema". This is no retread, however, as Borzym launchesinto a modern jazz tune that remembers its classic heritage. Borzym digs into a1970's singer/songwriter pastiche for "Field Below", which bears avague musical resemblance to Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade Of Pale".The song is elegant and refined, with a gorgeous melody, and Borzym walks ithome like a pro. “Appletree” (Erykah Badu) shows a more modern, soulful jazz sound.It feels as Borzym is a bit rushed by the arrangement here, but it all worksout well in the end. "Down Here Below" (Abbey Lincoln) is a gorgeous,blue recitative that drips with regret. Borzym's voice is never lovelier,taking on a reserved air that is full of an eloquent and desolate beauty."Gatekeeper" (Feist) is cut from similar cloth, but woven with moresubtlety.

 Borzym goes Vegas on "DryCleaner From Des Moines", a frenetic little tune that borders on thevestiges of bebop. "Abololo" (Marisa Monte) slows things down, with atentative piano leading the way for Borzym's lush vocal line. "PossiblyMaybe" (Bjork) is well intended, but becomes something of an undirectedmess in spite of Borzym's attempts to save it. Girl Talk closes on apositive note with an unconventional cover of Pink's "Thank You" thatis true to the original but puts Borzym's distinctive stamp on the song.

Monika Borzym has a captivatingvoice, and a presence that's bewildering in one so young. This is the sort ofalbum you simply can’t put down; Borzym’s call is like that of a gentle Siren,relentlessly pulling you in.  GirlTalk is one introduction you won't soon forget, as Borzym appears poised tobecome one of the next big names in vocal jazz.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

           CD                    Download             iTunes

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two weddings in one night

as much as i want to celebrate two of friend's wedding, i have to skip half of both in able to attend both weddings at the same night! from Edsa Shang to New World Hotel in Makati... this night was truly inspiring <3
we never discussed what to wear, but three of us ended up wearing nude dress + black shoes! cute :)
at Edsa Shang with my high school friends :)
@ New World Hotel with another set of high school friends :) 

can i just say, i'm haggardo versoza lang... x.x

oh i almost forgot, its the Halloween Weekend! :)  
Have a good one guys!
(and yeah, i'm kinda not attending any parties this year... work much)

Leah Thompson - The Magic [EP]

Leah Thompson - The Magic [EP]
2011, Leah Thompson

Carbondale,Illinois singer/songwriter Leah Thompson is back with a three-song EP, The Magic, the follow-up to her previoussingle, Misfire.  While the EP features a cameo from MCJ-Biggs, Thompson plays a full stylistic hand across the three songs presentedhere.

The Magic opens with "I Love The Sun", a jazzy, soulfullove song that makes the most of Thompson's smoky, resonant alto voice. Thesong carries an infectious groove that will have you dancing in place, ortapping your feet. "Magic", featuring MC J-Biggs is a lightweightpop/hop offering that's too generic to make an impact at commercial radio.Thompson's voice is pleasing in the process, but this is an album track atbest. "Summer Song" is a sweet but messy little love song. Onceagain, Thompson's voice is sweet, but the songwriting is unfocused beyond thehooky chorus.

Leah Thompson has one of thosevoices you could listen to all day; built on great tone and unusual timbresthat catch in your ear. The Magic is enjoyable for this reason, althoughthe songwriting is widely variable and uneven across just three songs.Thompson's voice will carry her a long way and she shows enough potential as asongwriting to stick around for a long time if she continues to develop hercraft.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more at or  The Magic is available from Leah Thompson's Bandcamp page, and you can even name your own price!

Can Missionaries Protect Their Initials?

Dear Rich: I am the founder of a lay missionary organization. We use the initials SMM that shows our affiliation and membership to the Society of Missionaries of Mercy. I have been told by the Society of Montfort Missionaries that they claim that SMM can only be used by their membership.  Please advise me. Should we change our initials or inform them that you can't restrict the use of initials? As we discussed in a previous post, asserting trademark rights over initials is possible but often difficult. We've also discussed protecting names of religious organizations. We note that even if the Montfort group did chase your organization into a U.S. court, they would need to prove that U.S. consumers  are confused by the mutual uses -- something that might be difficult because the other Montfort group appears to be based in India (and perhaps associated with this Scots group). So, in summary, we think there are some hurdles if the  Montfort group wants to obtain a U.S. court order to stop you.
From the legal to the cosmological. Resolution of your question goes beyond legal issues and into trade customs and religious hierarchy. Catholic religious organizations appear to rely on their initials to distinguish themselves from others. This chart, for example, lists 800 such abbreviations. We cannot say whether a change of initials is required to serve purposes of this Catholic exonumia but we hope this matter can be resolved on the basis of religious custom (not U.S. trademark law) and, of course, in the spirit of brotherhood upon which these organizations are founded.

Jack's Mannequin - People And Things

Jack's Mannequin - People And Things
2011, Sire/Warner Bros.

Orange County, California rockers Jack’s Mannequin are living proof that sometimes your second thought turns out best.  Started as a side project from front man Andrew McMahon’s other band, Something Corporate, but has moved front and center since the band’s inception in 2004.  Rounded out Bobby Anderson (guitar); Mikey “The Kid” Wagner (bass); and drummer Jay McMillan, Jack’s Mannequin has gone on to release two Top-10 albums and a number of successful singles.  Their latest effort, People And Things, is Jack’s Mannequin’s most mature work to date.

"My Racing Thoughts" kicks off People And Things with a full-bodied, Adult-Alternative sound full of solid hooks and impassioned vocals. This is a great opener, full of big energy and a chorus that sings itself to you. "Television" has the majesty of a U2 tune, combined with an emotionally tortured mindset. The two build into in intensity, feeding off one another on a high-energy, mid-tempo chorus that is perfect for pop radio. "Amy, I" is a love song, overcome by intensity and lack of understanding. She's gone, but he's in the depths of love and dejection. The tenor of the song is upbeat, but the lyrics betray the darkness within.

"Hey Hey Hey (We're All Gonna Die)" is a great, swaying rocker that wants to be an anthem. The song manages to soar almost in spite of itself on superior songwriting, a phenomenal chorus and an honest nature that is impossible to resist. "People, Running" is a catchy number about the intrinsic pointless of what we do, and the entertainment it provides. It's a wonderfully catchy rocker that should fare well with commercial radio. "Platform Fire" fits well into the template of adult alternative pop that seems to be the model for People And Things, while "Hostage" is a solid expansion that dances on the edge of Americana song construction in the chorus while lapsing back into a solid pop chorus. Jack's Mannequin strips away the extras on "Restless Dream", a moving acoustic relationship post-mortem. Regrets roll through a sweet melody buttressed by gorgeous but sparse vocal harmonies around Andrew McMahon's affecting vocal line. People And Things winds down with "Casting Lines", a song about the inevitability of ending up back where you started, no matter the choices you might make. It's a gorgeous closer full of deep thoughts and deeper emotions.

Jack's Mannequin makes the most of People And Things, occasionally hitting a slow moment but generally getting the job down with a big, enjoyable alt-pop sound and the impassioned vocals of McMahon.  Lyrically there are some rough spots and occasionally uncomfortable metaphors or phrases, but in generally the songwriting is solid. Jack's Mannequin will do well with this one.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

          CD                   Deluxe MP3                MP3                      

           Vinyl                         iTunes

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Golden Weekend

I know Halloween (and most of October) is all about the orange and black, but I think a rich yellow is a much kinder shade to wear. Plus, it provides a pop of color without stepping into springtime territory. It's not that I have anything against orange...but it makes my skin look green.

What are you doing for Halloween? My boyfriend refused to tell me his costume because he was afraid I'd steal it. I persuaded him to tell me and then, true to form, poached his idea. Thus, we'll both be going as "Occupy the Bar Protesters." We'll be part of the 99% drunk. In my defense, I just graduated from college and I'm still in the transition phase. Apparently. :) Are you dressing up?

[photo cred to Martha Stewart and Patterson Maker]

on deadlines and stuff

so my life has never really changed after three weeks of completing our design exhibit...
which means i'm still staying up late til morning, and starting my day in the afternoons... x.x (which also means, more photobooth-whoring for now LOL)
all these time, i thought i would be basking under the sun at this very moment/ or spending the holiday with my favorite niece, Bunny! but as it turned out, more work has been piled on my table :/
but if everything goes well, this (above) is going to be my first actual-paid project *crossing fingers sooo tightly* and during these past few days, all i've been doing was layout-ing its floor plan, mood board, perspective, etc. and the time allotted to complete everything is completely unbelievable! this... and other minor projects i've been also cooking right now, which i would be posting soon :)

sometimes i get sooo overwhelmed i wish i could just go out and completely waste my day! *evil thoughts*

anyway, thank God i found you! 
my new solemate :)
you bring me UP five and half inches higher each day :)

Can Scouting Group Claim Color Scheme?

Dear Rich: Frontier Girls is a scouting style program founded in 2007 for girls. It has come to my attention that the uniforms I use in Frontier Girls are the same color scheme as a single level of American Heritage Girls, another scouting style program founded 1995. American Heritage Girls has a total of five levels and at one level the uniform is navy bottoms, white shirts, and red vests. It is similar to Frontier Girls except American Heritage Girls also has a navy scarf with their uniform. The badges, awards, and layout of the vests are completely different as is the shape of the vest. [Compare them: American Heritage Girls Tenderheart (scroll down) vs. Frontier Girls.Their other four levels of uniforms look nothing like Frontier Girls. I have been told that I need to change my uniform, but do not feel that anyone should have the right to trademark the colors red, white and blue, as these stand for our country and any patriotic groups should have a right to use them. Are you being told to change your uniforms, solely on the basis of the color scheme, or are you being told to change on the basis of the overall appearance -- the colors, shape, and design (or what we call trade dress)? There's a difference, as we explain below. In general, the Dear Rich Staff thinks that American Heritage Girls has some challenges ahead if it drags you into court.
  • Claiming Color schemes as a trademark is tough.  In order for American Heritage Girls (AHG) to prove that Frontier Girls (FG) infringed solely on the basis of the color scheme, AHG would have to prove that their use preceded FG, that consumers of scouting-style services associate AHG with red, white and blue, that the colors are not functional, and that FG's color scheme is substantially similar to AHG such that consumers are confused when seeing a FG uniform and believe it is AHG. Proving these claims requires substantial evidence -- for example, consumer surveys and expert testimony. We think it will be hard for AHG to claim the color scheme as protectible.
  • Trade dress is also tough to protect. AHG may seek to stop FG based on their overall trade dress -- the total appearance of their uniforms (not just the colors). For example companies such as Re/Max and Bank of America go after red, white and blue competitors but usually only if the overall appearance of the signs or marks is similar (not simply the colors). AHG features at least five different uniforms in their program. So it may be a challenge for them to prove that consumers associate any one of the five as a specific source identifier. In addition, as you point out, AHG's blue "neckerchief" distinguishes the AHG uniform, somewhat, from the FG uniform. 
  • Bad publicity. It's possible that the potential headlines -- "Scouting Group Claims Exclusive Rights to Red, White and Blue" -- might dissuade AHG from seriously pursuing the claim.
  • Dilution, anyone? In addition to claiming infringement, AHG can make a dilution claim regarding the colors if it can prove that red, white and blue comprise a famous mark for AHG and that the colors are not functional. We think that's a tough claim to make as well.
For your FYI Dept. AHG has not registered their trade dress or color scheme. They have only registered their name (claimed for "Educational services, namely, conducting workshops, courses of instruction and day and overnight retreats for girls and young women that support traditional values of God, family and country to promote leadership, social, physical and intellectual development.") And they've been using that mark since 1985. That makes them trademark newbies when compared to the Boy Scouts.

Ravishers - Ravishers

The Ravishers - The Ravishers
2011, Timber Carnival Records

Portland, Oregon rockers TheRavishers are about to invade your ear space. Catchy tunes, well-honedsongwriting and an acute attention to detail help The Ravishers grab yourattention; the energy of their lives shows maintains that attention and turnsit into ardor. It's no surprise that some of that energy should carry over intoThe Ravishers, the band's full-length debut album. Comprised ofwriter/vocalist Dominic Castillo, guitarist Jonathan Barker and a rotating castof characters, The Ravishers appear ready to turn the Pacific Northwest upsidedown and head out to conquer America.

The Ravishers set out with "I'm Him"; a song sounds like itcould have been co-written by Lyle Lovett and Elvis Costello. Low key butcatchy, the song mixes a vague Americana sound with distinctive popsensibility. "You Have It" mixes a quiet, singer/songwriter stylewith wonderfully jangly guitar-rock sounds. Don't expect to escape this songfor the rest of the day once it's entered your brain. "The Chase"gets caught up in its own repetition, while "Cruel Love" is a bedrockalbum track dealing with the cycle of being lost in unrequited love."Underachievers" is an intriguing musical allegory of itself. Thearrangement is almost haphazard and messy; not ambitious enough to be calledGarage Rock but certainly showing the intent.

"Keep You Around" is ahalf-enthused love song, with an intriguing alto voice joining the mix. The mixof voices works well over the minimalist rock arrangement. "My Thoughts OfKillers" are a catchy, yet low-key bit of anti-pop madness. The guitarpart becomes more and more disconnected as the song progresses, with the entiresong deconstructing into disparate parts at the end. "Lesson InLeaving" features an anachronistic arrangement that intrigues with strongguitar work. The Ravishers plod their way through "How I Feel AboutYou", but recover with the impressive pop song craft of "Nobody FallsIn Love Anymore". The chorus here is absolutely amazing, and the melody ofthis hidden gem shines. The Ravishers close solidly with "Happening",an intensely driven yet reserved rocker that's big on energy but constrained indelivery.

Mainstream media and pop outletstend to ignore Indie pop and rock acts in favor of the canned drivel that isoften the result of major label recording contracts, but The Ravishers aregoing to be hard to ignore. The Ravishers put a bit of the fun back into rockand roll, and as musical talents they are definitely on the map. TheRavishers has its moments of musical pleasure and pain, but this is thesort of debut that builds anticipation for the future.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

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Using Text of Operas ... in Paintings

Dear Rich (and Dear Rich Staff): I have created painted works of art with oil on canvas and water color marker on paper using the text of public domain operas and plays in such a way that they are no longer readable as text. The full text is still there but, it has been over written in a variety of colors such that one could not actually gain any context or meaning from trying to read the painting as a copy of the opera or play. I judge that this as fair use and should be able to sell my work without consequence.Do I need to get permission to use copyrighted work that has been similarly obscured for this purpose if I intend to sell the unique painting I have created? Just an FYI, but you state you're using the text of public domain operas. If the text of the opera is in the public domain, there's no need for a fair use argument -- you can do whatever you want with it. As for your question about the use of copyrighted works there are two ways that could play:
  • If you purchased the text of the opera -- for example, in sheet music form or in a book -- and you are painting on the pages of text (or incorporating them a collage), you won't need permission. You can probably justify that under the first sale doctrine
  • If you are reproducing the text in a painting, we think you can probably make a strong fair use argument because you are using a small portion of the opera's text, you are not competing with or depriving the copyright owners of commercial gain, and based on your description, your use appears to be transformative --  that is you're making a new statement. if the words are obscured so that their meaning cannot be ascertained, we're not even sure you've infringed as your artwork no longer would be substantially similar to the opera text. Check out fair use rules before proceeding.   

Lady Antebellum - Own The Night

LadyAntebellum - Own The Night
2011, Capitol Records Nashville

Multi-platinum recording artistsLady Antebellum suffer an identity crisis on their latest album, Own TheNight, vacillating wildly between 1980's pop and thinly veiled 1980's popthinly veiled as country music. The blend largely explains Lady Antebellum'spopularity, as many of today's pop/country fans were Garth Brooks converts fromthe 1980's rock and roll they grew up on. Not there is anything wrong with anyof these styles, but Lady Antebellum's latest plays more like a closelysurveyed, market-designed product than an album of original art.

Things start out well with "WeOwned The Night". The 1980's pop theme is definitely here, but it'saccompanied by a memorable chorus and a great melody. Even "Just AKiss" satisfies as the sort of love song you might have heard at a juniorhigh dance circa 1985. Unfortunately, Lady Antebellum slip on their own formulaand fall into the soup for much of the rest of the album, playing sounds andstyles certain to register high for pop and country radio programmers, andforgetting the passion and energy that have made such stars so far.

It would be easy to blame this oneon the greedy record labels. It would be entirely in character for a label topush an already uber-successful band to alter their sound to maximize theprofit potential of an album, but it's a shame to hear a band with real talentgive in so whole-heartedly to the corporate shuffle. There are moments herewhen Lady Antebellum shines like the sun, particularly on the track "LoveI've Found In You", but there's an overarching feeling of cliché to OwnThe Night that's impossible to ignore.

Rating:2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

           CD                       MP3                   iTunes

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Walk Like a Lady

I'm in a committed relationship with my wool camel trench, but aren't these princess coats so unbelievably feminine? The muted, darker colors of the Alaïa number (on the left) and the Topshop style (on the right) keep the silhouette from looking too precious. Plus, the cinched waist is flattering and makes even a sweater-and-denim combo seem pulled together. What do you think?

Publishing Personal Stories: What Permission is Needed?

Dear Rich: I am creating an online platform for people to share their personal stories that I am going to publish. What kind of legal document do I need to put together? Personal stories? We have a personal story we'd like to post. It's about a blogger who ordered some T-shirts but there was a problem making the registered symbol -- ® -- appear properly on the back (we're not assessing blame just yet) and so the blogger spent a lot of money on shirts with a misplaced ®. It started as a sad story but after some exchanges with customer service, we're starting to think that it will have a happy ending.
Right, you had a question. The good news is that your site can avoid most liability by abiding by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (which shields you from claims of copyright infringement) and the rules set forth in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (which shields you from liability for statements published by others). Keep in mind, you must follow the rules for the shields to work. In general, your concerns for posting personal stories are outlined below:
  • Copyright: You should obtain an assurance that the work is original to the author and that the author has the right to permit publication and that the author grants you the limited right to post it online. If you want more rights -- say to publish a collection of stories in eBook format -- you should acquire those rights now. The same is true if you want the option for more rights. You should learn more about acquiring publishing rights 
  • Invasion of Privacy and Trade Secrets: Personal stories involve personal details. You need an assurance that the posting won't reveal any personal or trade secrets that will cause you to get sued.
  • Children's Privacy: We would suggest avoiding taking any materials from children under 13.  (You can seek an assurance that person submitting the story is 13 or older.) If you start taking information from children under that age, you'll need to deal with a law known as COPPA and that may not be worth the effort.
  • Defamation: Personal stories that include untrue statements about others could lead to defamation suits. You need an assurance there's nothing defamatory.
So, in summary, you need permission to publish and assurances that the publications don't violate any laws. These assurances and permissions can be bundled in a click-to-accept statement that the user must agree to before uploading the information. Any electronic method of assent that can be verified -- checking a box, clicking to accept, etc. --  will suffice.

Rachael Yamagata - Chesapeake

RachaelYamagata - Chesapeake
2011,Frankenfish Records

Rachael Yamagata has built a reputationon well-crafted songs, a stirring voice, and an Indie attitude toward makingmusic.  Even when working with a majorlabel throughout much of the last decade, Yamagata has always managed to dothings her way.  Yamagata has come fullcircle.  2011 finds Yamagata shaking offthe yoke of major labels and making her way under her own imprint, FrankenfishRecords.  The first album under this new flagis Chesapeake, an inspired 11-songcollection born of creating and recording the album at producer John Alagia’sChesapeake Bay home.

Chesapeake opens with "Even If I Don't", a semi-genericpop/rock number that never quite reaches out to the listener. Yamagata warms toher task, however, on the soulful "Starlight", an edgy, mid-tempoballad set to a dance beat. The dark timbre of the arrangement is appealing,giving the song a more urgent feel than it might otherwise have. Yamagata'seasy vocal style appeals on "Saturday Morning", sounding a bit like asuburban slow jam set to a light dance beat. Things really click for Yamagataon "You Won't Let Me", a powerful ballad of helplessness from beingshut out by the one you love. Yamagata emotes wonderfully here, telling thetale in a voice so real you can touch it.

"Miles On A Car" is amellow folk/pop stumble that's a bit too drawn out for its own good. Yamagata'svoice takes a sultry turn for "Stick Around", an invitation in songthat's sonically pleasing and hard to ignore. Yamagata comes fully alive on"The Way It Seems To Go", a wonderfully catchy and quirky number thatis certain to be a crowd favorite, and sounds like perfect soundtrack fodder.The bluesy arrangement is a treat, and Yamagata's vocals are spot-on."Full On" is a soliloquy in song, and Yamagata offers her best vocalperformance of the set. The song is thoughtful and sweet, with a deep air ofmelancholy. Yamagata closes with "Dealbreaker", a ballad of love'sregrets and wishes for what might have been. Yamagata's pensive heartbreak ispowerful, and the song carries an emotional wallop that sneaks up on you.

Rachael Yamagata has a talent forpacking a lot of punch into little moments. Her voice is a bit off the charts;it's hard to say that Yamagata sounds quite like anybody, but in style sheplays strongly on the same playground as many of the Lilith Fair artists of thelast decade. Chesapeake is a bit too reserved at times, perhaps, butYamagata makes per personal connection with all those who listen closely, andopen themselves up to her deeply personal, emotional songs.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

     Amazon CD          Amazon MP3           iTunes

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Venus in Fur

In a cruel twist, one of my best friends has achieved my dream: a chandelier in the bathroom. This is in addition to high ceilings, a bay window and a kitchen with legitimate counter space (as opposed to a cart wedged up against the sink). How? She lives in a wonderful old building in Lincoln Park, Chicago. If her apartment were available in NYC, I'd have to sell my foot on the black market to afford it.

Just because trappings (har har) of luxury aren't built into my apartment here doesn't mean I can't fake them with warm, cozy textures like fur and fleece. Like so:
You never know just how tempting it is to turn that fur vest into a pillowcase until you catch a picture like the above. Not so crafty (or really attached to your fur vest)? Here are two terribly tempting options:
I love the Target pillow on the left for its a) price, and b) neutral color, but the Anthropologie throw on the right has just taken me to dinner and a movie before leaving me on the doorstep with just a peck on the cheek. I need you, flouncy fleece throw. I think we would be great together with a cup of tea and a chilly, drizzly morning. And let's be honest: it's not as though my IRA is going to keep me warm at night.

[photo cred here]

Wants to Use Thrift Store Dolls to Illustrate Stories

Dear Rich: I wish to illustrate about 25 of my own short stories, each with one ensemble of about 6 to 12 small objects such as dolls, ornaments, cut-outs of posters, etc. Many of these objects I find at thrift or junk stores, so they no longer have any packaging or any identifying marks. Other items are new and/or have identifying marks of the original source. Can I publish my photos as illustrations to my written work without seeking permission from each and every original creator of each item in every ensemble, or is there some fair use law that allows me to circumvent the (pretty much) impossible task of getting permission for every single item? There's no law we can point to that will guarantee you're okay but if you're self-publishing this book, you can probably make a strong fair use argument. That's because we assume your use is transformative -- that is, your use of the dolls or other images makes a new statement or takes on new meanings. Before making the claim, you should review fair use rules (as each use requires a separate analysis).
What if You Get Signed to a Big Deal Publisher? If you're planning to sign with a commercial publisher then things could get more complicated because most publishers will require that you clear copyrighted materials beforehand --  they're not big fair use fans. And they'll insist that you indemnify them as well. Which means that if they get sued, you'll pay for their legal costs. Ouch! So, if you're looking at a commercial publishing deal take your questions to a copyright lawyer for an expert opinion on each use. Then, you can proceed with more confidence if you need to indemnify.

Anthony Toner - A Light Below The Door

Anthony Toner - Light Below The Door
2011, Dozens Of Cousins

Irish crooner Anthony Tonercontinues to impress with his second album, Light Below The Door. Asmooth voice, a distinctive flair for 1970's style singer/songwriter, rock andsoul sounds and solid songwriting make any concert or recording from Toner atreat, but he raises the bar a bit this time around. Opening with "All OfThe Above", Toner sews a memorable melody into an arrangement that's across between Barry Manilow and early Chicago. "Gratefully" findsToner using a talk/sing vocal style that is appealing. The song is intelligentand heartfelt, and is among the best that Toner has written to date. "EastOf Louise" is a brilliant story song about a friend that is full ofamazing imagery underscored by a subtle, acoustic-guitar driven arrangement.

"Way Too Dark" again usesstark imagery to build a picture of a single mom left high and dry in thelistener's mind. The blues/folk blend in the arrangement is anathema to theneurosis and longing that fill this tune. This is an absolute "Wow"moment for Toner, and is worth a listen even if the album escapes yourattention. "You're The One" is a classic, simple love song full ofgreat poetry that shows off Toner's quieter side. "The Great Escape"tells the story of a family feud in a stirring rockabilly arrangement. Tonerbrings the characters to life in song in the way that only great songwriterscan, and highlights the achievement with some impressive guitar work along theway. Light Below The Door bows with "Nashville Snowflake", thetale of a snowflake that wants to live together. Once again, Toner's melody andimagery are near-perfect.

If Anthony Toner was plying histrade as a singer/songwriter in 1975 he'd be signed to a major label and knownall over the world. Today his material may sound a bit dated to some, but whatdoesn't change is that Anthony Toner is a world-class songwriting, with a voicethat's eminently pleasant to the ear. Artistically he seems to be peaking rightnow, as well. Light Below The Door, consequently, is not an album to bemissed.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more at or  CD copies are only available from Toner’swebsite.  If it’s digital you crave:

 Amazon MP3                    iTunes

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its just me and the photobooth

if you knew me personally, you'd often hear me complaining about my back, how i badly need a hot-stone massage/manicure-pedicure and a salon fix, a Vacation, a LIFE, how my best friends are now medicines (called: berrocca, melatonin, benadryl, and advil), etc. etc. and though i often (also) say that i'm not complaining being Busy, now when i think about it, i kinda am! LOL. i guess i just missed the days when i'm just bumming around, receiving my daily allowance, always out/hanging out (even on weekdays), or if i'm working for some company, i just dressed up and spend my income on shopping etc...  now, i haven't even watched a new movie! and i'm often confused when people say this (insert movie title) is good, whatsoever. BLAH.

i guess its just part of growing up and literally prioritizing things... and these pictures kinda shows how i have been - often sleeping at 5am, and lacking sleep :) cos you'll seldom see me hanging out with people or out for some dinner/drinks/movie... hehe. MY LIFE NOW.

attending an event after a busy day...
2-hr sleep, slept late and have to be up early for a feature...
again, no sleep... and i have to attend brunch with friends.
i think i slept a little while here :)
off to source some inspiration.
working all-night... my day started at 5pm :/

for all the blessings! 

The Hops - Won't It Be Fun

The Hops - Won't It Be Fun
2011, Front Leg Music

Chicago trio The Hops swing wide andfree on their first full-length album, Won't It Be Fun. Middle-of-the-roadalt-rock influenced by Garage Rock, punk, folk and jazz is the order of the dayfor Patrick Tinning (vocals/bass); TJ Walker (drums) and Cullin Kress (guitar);creating mildly catchy tunes that can be pleasant to the ear, but often struggleto gain real attention from casual listeners.

Won't It Be Fun shows a lot of potential. For a three-piece outfit, TheHops create some interesting sounds in their arrangements, filling up eachsong's core with a tight-yet-informal sound that's rough hewn and melodic.There's a lot of good energy on the album, but The Hops have a hard timepulling all of the elements together at one time. It seems as if when themelody and the arrangement are strong, the energy falls off, or the arrangementgets messy at times when the melody and energy are at their peak. Things startpositively with "There's Something", a mild-rocker that's the mostcohesive song on the disc. "Thermometer Splits" also works, combiningan unpolished rock and roll sound with great energy and a solid, acousticarrangement.

The Hops quickly sink into a blandrut, where vocal leads and harmonies struggle to stay in key as often as not,and songs that have the potential to be more than they are struggle with theirown indefinite bland nature. The Hops show some writing chops that make themworth tuning in for on Won't It Be Fun, but have a hard time pulling allthe pieces together into consistent song craft. It will be curious to see howthe band progresses the next time around.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Hops at

Amazon MP3                       iTunes

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Jeannine Hebb - Whileaway

Jeannine Hebb - Whileaway
2011, Jeannine Hebb

Jeannine Hebb has one of the bestpure voices in Indie Rock. Her stunning debut EP Too Late To Change Meannounced the Brooklyn based singer/songwriter to the world four years ago. Itwouldn't have been surprising to see Hebb regress a bit on her second recordedeffort, but Whileaway finds Hebb leaping forward rather than steppingback. Her penetrating voice, distinctive melodies and emotionally intelligentlyrics make for an unforgettable combination. Comparisons to Fiona Apple, AlexaRay Joel and Tori Amos may seem appropriate at times through Whileaway,but it becomes eminently clear before long that Jeannine Hebb's sound and styleare entirely her own.

Whileaway opens with "Call Him Out", a cute number writtenearly in heartbreak. She wonders why no one intervenes. The effort isintriguing, and has the feel of a pop-opera or new Broadway composition. Hebbcreates and enlivens a character here that's entirely believable in herself-pity and self-victimization. The melody is entirely memorable, and Hebbsings with a voice that could grace any stage. "I Believe" is asoulful ballad that shows off the many colors and gorgeous tone of her voice."Back To Me Again" is written from a position of power, with aformer, misbehaving beau trying to his way back into her life. The edgy rockarrangement almost seems to hide a country heart, but Hebb builds a wonderfullyintricate chorus that will keep your toes tapping.

"Tell Me No" shows awonderfully human bit of dysfunction, wrapped up in a theatrical aria that'sabsolutely unforgettable. The combination of neurotic need and honestvulnerability plays out perfectly against the simple piano-based arrangement."Heartache" deals with the darkness that follows a relationship, withthe resolution that she won't make the same mistake again. Once again, Hebbcarries a stage presence into the song, and a diva-like voice that wends itsway through the vaguely Mediterranean melody. Edge and beauty come togetherhere, like the brittle, icy rim of a puddle on a frosty morning."Don't" continues to dance on the emotional ledge, in that dark placebetween capitulation and recovery. Strength grows in the chorus, where shefights back against the causes of her heartbreak. Hebb's sense of compositionhere is amazing, using all of the instruments in her palette to build sound inwaves that crash over the listener much as the emotions that inspired the songmight once have engulfed her.

"These Days" is amelancholy exploration told in the form of a personal ballad. Hebb's (or hercharacter's) personal thoughts born into song alongside a lovely, fluid melody,offer a wonderfully quiet yet powerful moment of pure emotion, and allowlisteners a glimpse into Hebb's upper vocal range as well. "Goodbye"takes on a slightly edgier feel, as Hebb begins to separate herself from thesource of her heartache. Unlike the songs that came before, there's more of ananalytical slant this time around, as Hebb explains her reasons for going. Inthe process she builds gorgeous song architecture that befits the sprouting ofnew chutes into a bare emotional spring that must follow every winter.

"Tragedy" is arelationship post-mortem in the medium of bluesy pop. Hebb belts and croons herway through the moment, speaking not out of anger but out of fact. The dynamicarrangement is too complex for pop radio, but is very appealing nonetheless."Low" alternates a workman-like verse with an airy, one-word chorus.The split is interesting, and the neo-baroque glue that holds the twodistinctive pop styles together will keep listeners very much on their toes.Hebb closes with "Make It Right", a dark confessional that throws allof the previous resolution in doubt. What's appeared to be a general migrationtoward healing is left in the emotional turmoil of one who almost made itthrough, but is on the verge of getting sucked back in to the relationship thatstarted it all. The personal appeal here is compelling, and Hebb delivers itwith a voice and presence that combine all of the personal glamour of abig-time pop star and all of the pastiche of a veteran of the stage.

Whileaway is the sort of album you park in your CD/MP3 player and playagain and again. Jeannine Hebb shows that her debut EP was anything but a flukewith a performance that is subtle and complex beyond her years, both musicallyand lyrically. With a voice that would be welcome on any stage, anywhere and anamazing depth of songwriting ability, it's hard to imagine Jeannine Hebb asbeing anything less than a star one day. Whileaway is nothing less thana Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.
Rating: 5 Stars(Out of 5)
Learn more about Jeannine Hebb at or 

              CD                 Download                 iTunes

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Using 70's Voice Over in New Music Track

Dear Rich: I'm in the final stages of producing a music single. In the song I've sampled the voice-over of a 1970's TV ad. The voice-over is of a familiar and famous figure from that period. Would I need to clear this and for this purpose with whom, as I assume in this case that no record company or music publisher would be involved. We're not sure which familiar and famous person's voice-over you're using but if you're creating a second single, you might want to consider a classic 70s TV ad in which a size-challenged nautical figure -- perhaps a descendant of this character -- rides around in a boat in your toilet and urges consumers to pollute the waters with blue chemicals. How '70s is that?
Right you had a question. You're correct that you wouldn't need to clear the voice-over recording with a music publisher or record company. You may not need any permission at all, as explained below, but there are three possible legal rights you need to consider:
  • the copyright on the commercial. The most likely permission needed is that of the copyright holder -- that's likely to be the ad agency that created the commercial, or the company whose product is featured in the commercial. The copyright owner would own rights to the text of the commercial and to the audio. You wouldn't need permission if you claimed fair use (which can always be a bit tricky). And you probably wouldn't need to bother with permission if the company holding copyright had disappeared and you couldn't track down a successor. (And of course, you wouldn't need permission if your song had limited appeal and was unlikely to be heard by anyone connected with the copyright owner -- what we call the "tree falls in the forest" theory.)
  • the use of the famous figure's voice.  If the familiar and famous person's (FFP) voice is recognizable and listeners think that it is being used for purposes of endorsement, the FFP might have a claim based on the right of publicity. We wouldn't worry about this too much because the FFP's ROP probably won't be triggered unless the song is used for a 3rd party commercial purpose -- that is, it's licensed for use with another product or service (This article provides a short ROP summary). 
  • trademark rights. If the product name (the subject of the commercial) is included in your song, that might trigger claims of dilution or infringement but both of these claims are unlikely to succeed as use of trademarks is permitted for informational (or editorial) uses such as songs. One judge characterized the conflicting interests of the parties "Speech-zilla v. Trademark Kong.