Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Howling Dogs: A Tears For Ears Story

               It’s no secret that my passion is music.  My trusty 1st Gen iPod touch with the scratched up screen goes everywhere that my wallet and cell phone go, though I haven’t decided on a nickname for it after all these years.  I might as well just call it “essential.”  Sure, I may seem antisocial every time I stroll around campus with my headphones in on the way to class, but you can’t blame me for finding great new albums on Purevolume and iTunes that I eagerly wait to listen to during my travels.  My love for music doesn’t stop there, though.  Why not do my part to add character and grand memories to the music industry? I have always felt like the world needed to hear the tone of my angelic voice, no matter how much (or little) talent I have.  A little bit of Bill Karalius is enough to shake up the wide world of music, but I needed a place to start my journey.  Everyone knows that the best way to share the gift of vocals is at the local karaoke joint.  There’s something alluring about a cheesy, smoke filled bar and restaurant with the outdoor porch designated for singers and drunks to project their sweet voices through a PA system that has occupied the same space since the early 90’s.

Sunglasses are required.

                Sometimes singing alone just isn’t enough to wow the audience, and luckily I met someone who shared the same views on the karaoke scene as I had.  His name is one that you probably know from some SyFy channel show called Ghost Hunters International, Scott Tepperman.  Scott has been destroying the unsuspecting ears of bar patrons all around Tallahassee for the past few years, and has quite the stage presence.  I was but a newbie at this strange ritual of singing words that show up on a Radio Shack TV monitor at the time I joined Scott for karaoke at the 1st annual ALPHA Ghost Team karaoke party.  During my nervous rendition of Men at Work’s “Down Under,” Scott saw the potential that I had for a successful future in singing horrible music. He had the idea of forming a karaoke group that would be recognizable worldwide, whether it be good or bad.  I was the missing piece.  Thanks to his excitement and my cooperation, Tears For Ears was born.
At this point you’re probably wondering where Ron Bordner is in all of this karaoke mess.  Yes, Ron is a talented singer/screamer who has done many solo performances of heavy metal songs like Slipknot’s “Duality.”  However, he has told Scott and me countless times that he would prefer to sit on the sidelines to prevent any embarrassment.  Embarrassment couldn’t be a better way to describe what Tears For Ears is all about.  Most would say that it was smart of him to pass on the offer to join Tears For Ears… especially Ron himself.  What sort of fame, fortune, and disappointment did Ron end up missing out on?  Only a pair of sunglasses and a dirty ashtray full of memorable performances that will forever be stored in the minds and hearts of the witnesses present during each song. 

Tears For Ears in action!

Each song that is gracefully covered by Tears For Ears goes through weeks of preparation before we hit the stage.  It all starts with an email from Scott that ends up sitting in my inbox for roughly 2 to 3 days, due to my neglect to check my account on a daily basis.  This email comes complete with youtube links to old music videos that have not been seen since MTV played music on their network.  Old songs, right?  Scott uses lingo in the email that indirectly lets me know the level of importance and priority for each of the attached links.  These can be phrases such as “This song is badass,” “We should do this one,” and “WE MUST SING THIS NEXT TIME!” As you can imagine, there are more songs in my inbox than we are actually able to sing at karaoke night.  On any given night, we go up around 3 times in 4 hours due to the high demand of people who want to sing their generic country songs that all sound the same to a city boy like me.  Apparently Tallahassee has a large demand for karaoke, which means Scott and I have to take full advantage of the few chances we have to rock the crowd.
What happens in the weeks leading up to that Thursday night under the spotlight may surprise you.  I don’t do anything.  It’s true; I procrastinate like nobody’s business.  This is the WRONG way to prepare, due to the fact that on average I’ve never even heard of 4 out 5 songs Scott sends me.  This results in a nervous Bill Karalius playing a youtube music video over and over again while studying and surfing the web.  The important part is that I am able to learn the melody in time for the trip to the bar.  Even though I may learn the melody, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I can sing the melody.  This can be a challenge for songs written by Heart and Linkin Park, and it has shown.  Scott and I gave it our all in an attempt to not only sing Heart’s “Alone,” but also “Crazy on You.”  We unleashed a new level of karaoke, that’s for sure.  If you’ve ever wanted to hear two grown men crack their voices every few seconds, those are the videos you might want to watch.  Wait… you’re probably wondering if there are videos of Tears For Ears.  Of course!  For your viewing pleasure, we have taken the liberty of uploading all of our good, bad, and ugly performances on youtube.  I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to be there for our displays of talent, so we made sure that you can enjoy the unparalleled entertainment of Tears For Ears from the comfort of your own computer.

Paul provides some constructive criticism

Our impact on the karaoke community has been an immediate and long lasting one.  The folks at the restaurants stop socializing and put down their food to give us their full attention, because they’re on the edge of their seats waiting for what we’re going to sing next (or maybe they just cover their ears).  Some high profile people have had things to say about our performances, like GHI’s Paul Bradford.  Okay… the things that have been said by him may not have been favorable, but we all know that deep down he loves what we do.  Tears For Ears can be found on facebook, with a whopping 54 dedicated fans who live and die for our newly released videos.  You too can take a listen to our artistic, entertaining performances on that page, Scott Tepperman’s fanpage, and even by clicking the “Tears For Ears vids” link on the top of my blog page.  If you take the time to watch those videos, you will never look at karaoke the same again.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scaring The Dead Air Out Of Me


              Ah yes, another Friday night in Tallahassee.  What exactly qualifies a Friday night as being “another” one?  If any of you have ever been around a college town or had the pleasure to live in one, you would know that it involves hitting every club and partaking in the ritual of observing drunkards take nearly an infinite amount of shots until they’re asked to leave by the bouncer who is only looking out for the well being of the other patrons.  It’s a night full of optimism for the Saturday football game that most people will regrettably end up watching with a hangover.  I’m all for polite conversations with the guys and girls in line outside the night club who can barely stand or complete a sentence, but tonight I needed a change of scenery.
This was what I hoped to find in the sky, but saw nothing.
                Even though the inside of my eyelids would have been a great change of scenery, I had the urge to do a little star gazing to take advantage of a calm, clear night before drifting off into a snore-filled slumber that would keep the neighbors awake.  My prediction about the calmness was correct, however, I wasn’t getting enough cooperation from the clear aspect of the evening.  The weatherman (a.k.a. my roommate Adrian) said there would be no clouds, but my vision of the heavens was hazed by the smoke and debris from a wildfire somewhere in Georgia.  I did not realize this until I reached the astronomy observation area of campus, which was luckily only a ten minute walk from my apartment.  At this point the Moon was a dark red, with a blank sky in all directions.  The lack of stars left me bored and allowed my mind to wonder.
                You’re probably wondering what I thought about once I walked away disappointed from a view of the smoky Universe.  Anyone who knows me well enough, or anyone who has seen the title of this blog, would take a wild guess that I think about ALPHA.  You’re absolutely right.  The hazy sky reminded me of the time that I was hazed by members of the group, as well as an ALPHA Tracker who came up with the bright idea.  Be prepared to get a behind the scenes look at what went on during the filming of Dead Air: [LIVE] From The Windsor Hotel back in Spring of 2009.

Click Here to watch the Dead Air Trailer

                Dead Air was a concept for a DVD series that Ron and Scott had for quite a few years before it actually came into fruition.  They had a plan of attack for the logistics of filming our investigation from the second we got there.  I can barely remember anyone taking a rest for the 3 days we were at the location, let alone trying to sleep in the most paranormally active room in the hotel (which was a bit of a challenge in its own right for an inexperienced ALPHA Tracker like me).  This is quite a good segway into the prank, which I know you’ve been patiently waiting to hear about.
                So we’ve already established that the room I was spending the weekend in was notorious for its haunts according to many visitors from all over the country.  That was enough to give a young Bill Karalius goosebumps every time he entered and exited the room.  However, on the last day of the investigation, I unlocked a world of shock when I opened the door with the old school room key. Lacey (ALPHA Member) and Tracy (ALPHA Tracker) decided to mess around with the room and make it seem like a serious haunting took place.  The blinds were opened and closed in a symmetrical pattern, while the blankets on the bed were both un-tucked in triangular fashion.  Not only were the mattresses knocked off kilter, but on top of the far bed were four pillows on top of each other.  On top of those pillows was the “rate my cleaning service” card with the side that said “you’re the expert” facing the door.  To top it all off, I discovered my ghost hunting vest, which held all of my equipment, hanging 15 feet off the ground from the sprinkler pipe. 

The room where this all took place...

This was a bit overwhelming for an 18 year-old who was going on his first major investigation.  My reaction was one that any na├»ve rookie would have in a similar situation.  If caught on film and censored, you would only hear a monotone beep for a full 10 minutes due to my choice of language.  The first thing Ron and Scott did was call up Lacey and Tracy, who were out at the time to make sure that they had nothing to do with it (and of course they lied about it at first).  It reached the point where Scott and Ron called up the film crew to get everyone to the room to scope things out.  In doing so, our Director of Photography ended up losing his camera bag because he was in such a rush to make it up to the room to see the damage.  Ron and Scott were piecing together who could’ve done the damage to the room like they were part of the Scooby Doo gang, while I was in my own little world flipping out about how I would get my equipment down from the ceiling. 

Needless to say, after a few more minutes of me being a nervous wreck, Lacey and Tracy came clean and the joke was on me.  They ended up getting an earful from the Lead Investigators, however, but they were still proud of the job they did shaking me to my core.  Ron and Scott taught me a valuable lesson on how to keep composure during even the craziest of scenarios.  They also taught me a valuable lesson about how much they hate wasting time, because they were quite furious about losing a half hour of footage due to this little prank put on by the girls.  Ever since that experience, I’ve been calm and collected no matter what the situation was with ALPHA.
Fastforward to present day.  My Friday night suddenly came to an end.  The embarrassing memories of my ALPHA Tracker days were a great way to get my mind off of the chilly weather that I found myself getting stuck in on my walk back from the astronomy building.  Hopefully next time I will be able to enjoy the beauty of space without having flashbacks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Shoreline Hits Dead Serious Radio Like Crashing Waves

For those of you who follow Dead Serious Radio, you know that we like to do what we can to keep our listeners entertained on Tuesday nights.  For those of you who don't, where have you been?  Tuesday nights used to be when people would sit around the house or that empty bar on the corner and do nothing, wishing and waiting for a talk radio show to spice up their lives.  Once ALPHA started doing talk radio, the world's boredom rate dropped substantially.  This is due in part to the efforts of the show's guests who are kind enough to take the time to discuss both the paranormal, as well as some other light-hearted subjects.

In only our second episode of Dead Serious Radio,  I already had to fill in the big, talkative shoes of Scott Tepperman since he was getting shipped overseas to film another season of Ghost Hunters International. I was the new co-host along side of Ron Bordner.  We were able to recruit an up and coming band out of Orlando for an interview on my infamous "Bill Me" segment.  The Shoreline, headed by Jose, Bud, and JFunk, had recently released a new album called "Fake it 'Til You Make it".  I discussed a few things with them about their album, including the name of the album itself.  They tried to get across the idea of being better than you actually are until something good comes your way.  It's a concept that is all too common in the media, in music, and sometimes on the job.  Their sound, however, is anything but 'fake'.

The Shoreline's music tends to be classified as Pop Rock, but their sound is constantly changing.  When I asked the guys how their sound has changed since their first album, they replied that they took a full 180 degree turn from their original music.  They look up to bands like Jimmy Eat World, Boys Like Girls, and The Starting Line.  Once they mentioned The Starting Line, they must've thrown the word "Direction" around at least half a dozen times.  For those of you who couldn't catch that freudian slip, "Direction" was the name of The Starting Line's newest album.  From the first time I've listened to "Fake it 'Til You Make it", I instantly drew the connection between The Shoreline and The Starting Line.  Kinda similar names, but their album reminded me of "Direction" without seeming like they tried to go for the same sound.  Trust me, The Shoreline has a wide array of original jams that are hard to come by anywhere else.

The Shoreline has quite the web presence, including a music video for they're song "Just Go Ahead".  You can find their albums basically anywhere on the web, including iTunes and Amazon.com.  Google sure is a nifty way to find that stuff.


These guys are more than capable of putting on a great show, but they need a little help from some generous donors if you want to see them perform in your town.  The band is only missing a van to transport themselves and their instruments.  For now they are tied down to Central Florida until they are otherwise able to obtain that reliable transportation that most of us take for granted.  If you need a little more convincing, I'll add this: The Shoreline offers their album online to be downloaded for free.  Other tracks from the band can be downloaded from their purevolume site and ReverbNation.  However, the main source of everything you need to know about The Shoreline is at http://www.theshorelinemusic.com/.

If you would like to see the full interview I had with The Shoreline on Dead Serious Radio, it can be found here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wrath of Con in Panama City: A Wild Adventure on the Gulf

Yes, I'm looking back to the old days as an ALPHA Tracker.  Feel free to compare it to your generic internship experience at that local small business down the street from the University.  The effort, time, and dedication must've been about the same as any other person trying to work their way up in any career.  The only major difference that plagued me was a lack of income.  I learned very quickly that Ghost Hunting leaves anyone who crosses its path in the red, but they always say you must love what you do.  Why didn't we earn any cash to sustain ourselves on a steady diet of fast food and dollar store cleaning supplies?  Because it's not the ALPHA way to charge for investigations.  ALPHA Ghost Team is an organization that prides itself in helping people and business in need of answers, even if it means taking a financial hit.  Even more of our money (which has probably been converted from the sale of furnature and appliances from Scott's appartment) is put into visiting different conventions in Florida to present our informational lecture series.  An informed public is a better public, and ALPHA is doing our part.

The ALPHA Booth
Alright, enough about ALPHA.  We already know the group has a great reputation in the field and all that jazz.  You want to hear about Panama City, don't you?  Of course you do.  Well, this took place back in Summer 2009.  Is that vivid enough for your imagination?  No?  It was hot.  Better?  Good. 
I have been going on about 7 months as an ALPHA Tracker, and the group was invited as guests at the Wrath of Con in Panama City (which is a great name for a nerdy gathering, if I do say so myself).  Ron and Scott needed some extra manpower, so they figured they'd take advantage of my youth and excitement.  I was quite the overachiever, and I wanted to do everything and anything I could to impress the best in the paranormal field.  This boiled down to manning the booth we had set up.  Pretty impressive. 


Ron, Scott, and Lacey owned the lectures throughout the weekend while I dealt with a rather... how can I put this...  a scarce crowd.  I can say I spent most of my time scoping out the Star Treck booth that was across the way from where I sat.  It probably didn't annoy the guy dressed like the captain that I was watching his every move like he was going to spontaniously break out into dance.  The highlight of the weekend was when Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) stopped by for a few hours to sign autographs.  He must've had all 60 of the convention visitors lined up at his table at one time! 


Kevin Sorbo and Me

That basically sums up what the empty convention was like during the day, but what happened after the sun went down was a whole other beast.  There was a celebrity after party hosted by the owner of the convention which was nothing short of epic.  I had the opportunity to mingle with TV and Movie Stars like Jerry Doyle, Chase Masterson, J.G. Hertzler, and Kevin Sorbo.  Even though everyone was there to let loose and party it up, I was still there to represent ALPHA.  This worked out, because it seemed like drunk celebrities were more excited about ghosts and my knowledge on investigating than when they were sober.  Needless to say that by the end of the convention weekend, everyone knew everything about ALPHA. 



On a side note: Scott Tepperman and I pledged our services to a fundraising event for Habitat for Humanity.  'Twas a slave auction.  People bid on us celebrities to do anything the winner wants for 3 hours (Nothing sexual implied).  Scott was auctioned off for 45 dollars... I was auctioned off for 50 dollars.  All I remember was a loud, obnoxious, New Yorker yell out "Really?! For that?!" when I surpassed Scott's auction record.  Of course the heckler was Scott, who else would it be?  I tend to rub it in every once in a while, just to keep the man in check with who was worth more at the time.

At the end of the weekend, I walked away with my first taste of what it was like to be on the celebrity side of a convention.  It was a great feeling, but I didn't let that get in the way of why I was there.  It was all about ALPHA and making sure that questions about the paranormal were answered.  Keeping the mentality that my job is 24/7 is one that I still carry with me to this day, as a full-fledged Investigator with ALPHA.  If I could, I would go back to Panama City in a heartbeat.  A slow-paced, Wrath of Con heartbeat, but a heartbeat nonetheless.