This website is dedicated to my book, blog, film, and audio projects.
What goes through a missionary’s head over the course of two years of service in a foreign country?
SERVING RELIGION is the working title of my recently finished book about a two-year Mormon mission in the Canary Islands.
There are several great memoirs about LDS missionaries, and they're all totally different experiences with earie similarities. Mine is a secular perspective, reflecting on the culture of the Canary Islands while also voicing the internal struggle of the missionary grind. It’s a sneak peek into the daily life of an abstinent, proselyting elder—one who bounces from spiritual discussions in the street by day to companionship spouts by night. The strangest periods of travel in my life from Canada (as a Sound Engineering student) to Argentina (as an expatriate) pale in comparison to the uniqueness—or weirdness—of my mission in the Canary Islands.
I’m interested in current cultural trends, languages, prevalent religions, and the modern political state of affairs. The quest for self-discovery and an understanding of our current world inspire my blog.
I am a producer and the co-owner of Anti-Hero Pictures. I wanted to include a page on this site for quick links to projects past and present.
Mr. Righteous is the first feature produced by my brother Jared and yours truly. I wish I could claim it was a tour-de-force—we filmed it in eight days (a tight schedule with 13 locations and 30 actors). However, post-production was long and plagued by Murphy's law. Of course, what indie film runs smoothly?
Since I was six years old starting out on piano, music has been a part of my life. I now listen to all kinds of stuff: Mozart, the Beatles, 70's-2000's pop/rock, electronica, Spanish folk and Argentine national rock.
My playing tastes gravitate to rock instruments, most fluently the guitar. I continue making music today and compose mainly for film. Mr. Righteous is my largest project to date, one that required toggling many hats (boom operator, sound mixer, sound designer, composer, foley artist, dialogue editor, etc).
My writing tastes tend to swim in the rock/pop waters of my youth (80's/90's). This I do not apologize for.
I'm currently working on post-produciton for the suspenseful short, Mara, co-directed by Erica Matthews and Jared Balog. I am the sound designer, mixer, editor, foley artist and sfx editor on this one as well.
About this site
I am the Foreign Languages Coordinator and Spanish Instructor in the College of Arts and Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
I was raised in Upstate New York by Western Pennsylvanian suburbanites. My parents are a blend of several European ethnicities—kind of like an Olive Garden salad bar. My mom is primarily Irish, English and German; my dad is a Slavic mix, mostly Croatian and Czechoslovakian. I'm not of Hispanic descent, but I consider myself a kind of adopted Latino since spending so much time in Spain and South America.
My love for foreign languages goes back to my first travels to Spain in 1999. I was called to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons) in the Las Palmas, Spain mission. I vividly remember touching down on Madrileñan soil and feeling the thwack of adventure. I was a dog drooling over a new chew toy; I wanted to see everything, go everywhere, try everything, and meet everyone. The Canary islands, being a crucible for travelers, had me rubbing shoulders with people from all over the world—a truly ineffable experience for a young man of barely legal drinking age. Two years later I was an old hand at contacting strangers in the street, bartering short sales in markets and pointing tourists in the right direction.
Smitten with the language, I decided Spanish would make a decent major at university. I received my BA in Spanish from the State University of new York at Albany (SUNY) and my MA in World Languages from West Virginia University.
Since my mission, I’ve seen a fair chunk of the Spanish-speaking world, and in the process learned many of the subtleties of the language. After more than fifteen years I’m still amazed by the richness of all the dialects and the unique cultures each region has to offer.
I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Spanish and English for ten years in a variety of settings. I currently teach university students who bring a great deal of enthusiasm into the classroom. I am inspired and fueled by them.
At West Virginia I was selected to co-coordinate a study abroad trip to Santander, Spain—an amazing experience. In Argentina, apart from teaching English to IT employees for Belatrix Software Factory and Eventioz, I also ran a workshops for ESL teachers and students that covered common linguistic pitfalls. The first one filled quickly, and the positive feedback almost mandated a short series:
“Can You Really Tell the Difference: A Guide to Better Understanding English”
“A Comparative and Contrastive View on British and American English”
“American Colloquial English”
While bouncing from country to country, I met a wonderful Argentine girl—in the green hills of Vermont of all places. Jimena and I married and we have been enjoying the ride ever since. I was—and am still—amazed at how much I thought I knew about Argentina, my knowledge habitually tested by my in-laws who pontificate the secret workings of the "arbolitos" (money changers), the best ways to chill and drink sparkling wines, and useful tactics for negotiating overcharged dinner bills.
We have two beautiful little girls, Sophia and Lucia. Sophia was born in Argentina and has become our little hybrid Argentine-Americana. She is still full of energy and at very curious age. Lucia was born in Hoboken. She is very affectionate and gives the best hugs.
I have recently finished a book. I first played with the idea of writing a memoir about my missionary experiences while an undergrad. But between full-time teaching and studying I could never give it the time it rightfully deserved. I certainly shared missionary stories anecdotally to close friends over copious Cuba Libres and Vodka Tonics, a useful exercise in spitballing and polishing stories. However, an unexpected expatriation to Argentina drove me to put pen to paper, and in the fall of 2012, I did just that.
The introductory chapter I wrote in a studio/bedroom that sat off the second floor terrace of my in-laws’ house. As I hammered away on my Toshiba, I would look up and see, ironically, a Mormon chapel out the window. I wrote about seventy-five percent of the book in Mendoza, which I thought was fitting given its theme. A long distance from home, Argentina sufficiently recreated an atmosphere that put me in the right state of mind. I eventually finished the first draft upon returning to the United States.