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The Hollywood Groom’s Cake

In Let them eat cake!, Weddings! by djscottshirley

For the New Year’s Day wedding of Irma and Javier Ayala, they had a unique groom’s cake to reflect Javier’s interest in filmmaking.

Hollywood Javier’s cake, prior to “editing”

Photo courtesy of my old friend, master photographer Paul Knudsen.

In honor of their marriage, the hometown college team won the Rose Bowl, and there was much rejoicing. They had a wonderful fun celebration with friends and family that lasted every bit of six hours, with a  PM Celebrations photo montage and ceremony highlight reel that got “two thumbs up” from Javier.

Expect a sequel.

22) Music Has Power!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 22

Music can have an amazing effect on people. It can recall powerful memories. It can create a mood, for relaxation or for celebration. It can stir up deep emotions: feelings of love, or nationalistic feelings of pride.

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast”

When playwright William Congreve first penned the opening line of The Mourning Bride in 1697, he had no idea we would still be quoting him 300 years later. Nor could he have predicted the massive explosion of different genres of music we enjoy in the 21st century.

In his time there was formal classical music, and there was local folk music. There was no mass communication, no radio, TV nor “the Internets.” There was no means of recording music; in fact, the only way to publish music was the printed page, a technology scarcely 86 years old, at a time when literacy, especially music literacy, was uncommon.

There was Bach and Mozart, Beethoven was a young man, and Brahms, Chopin, and Mahler were not yet born.

He could never foresee the development of American country music, rhythm and blues, jazz, or rock and roll. The rich fusion of African, Caribbean, and Latin music that permeates today’s dance floors was never imagined back then. And who could have predicted hip-hop, even 50 years ago?

Congreve never knew Elvis, the Beatles, nor Beyoncé. He never would have understood the fan following of the Grateful Dead, Phish, Willie Nelson, or Jimmy Buffett’s parrotheads. The concept of George Strait filling an arena with fans on a cold New Year’s Eve, year after year after year, was unimaginable.

And how could you explain Kanye West, the artist formerly and once again known as Prince, or P Diddy to a 17th century man? Or grunge, punk, funk, 80s hair metal, or Lady GaGa? What about Techno, trance, and house music?

Now we turn to music all the time: in our cars, at our desks, while we work and while we play. Digital technology has made music portable and plentiful. Everyone today has an iPod, and can plug in to a unique musical world of his own choosing.

Listening to music of our own choosing is easier today.

We love our music! It’s powerful stuff.

Of course, PM Celebrations has it all.

21) Knowing The ABCs of DSPs is a Sound Idea

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 21

Alphabet soup! It seems everything from government agencies to computer components must have initials. If it has a plug or a “wall wart” it probably has initials.

Audio-visual (AV) technology is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And PM Celebrations has always embraced new technologies as they develop, which means learning a lot of alphabet soup.

DSP is the most important one for audio: Digital Signal Processing. All manner of tools are available to improve sound quality.

The RTA (Real Time Analyzer) has existed for many years, but is now more automated. Using a special RTA microphone, a signal from a PNG (Pink Noise Generator, though it is actually “white” noise. WNG doesn’t seem as cool to audio geeks) is amplified until it sounds like a jet engine. The RTA “listens” to the sound bouncing off the room, and automatically equalizes (EQs) sound frequencies to the room’s unique acoustic properties.

This enables a beautiful room like the Texas and Pacific Building (T & P, everything has initials!) to sound great, that would otherwise be a tiresome echo chamber. It also helps to use PM wireless satellite speakers in a room like that, with a DD. You guessed it, another little magic box, the Digital Delay, totally eliminates the echo.

The marble walls of the T & P Terminal in Fort Worth look great, but make it an echo chamber. The magic of DSP makes it sound as good as it looks.

The SPL (Sound Pressure Level) meter is an old tool we have used for many years to measure and control the volume of our sound systems.

Modern electronics also helps us fight the good fight against our old enemies Feedback and Interference. Of course even interference has initials, EMI and RF, and they affect our VHF and UHF wireless systems. So does GSM interference from Blackberrys.

Don’t get me started on lighting technology. Our LEDs are DMX, controlled by OS-X with D-Fi on UHF, OK?

20) Everybody Has a Story In Them!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 20

We have all heard the quote, attributed to artist and pop icon Andy Warhol, that “Everybody gets 15 minutes of fame.”

The concept has become part of our everyday lexicon. When we grow tired of seeing the latest flash-in-the-pan pop star, we wonder when their 15 minutes will expire!

But we all have a background and a history; events from our past, sports, and hobbies that make each of us unique and interesting.

PM Celebrations always strives to personalize our events, whether it’s a milestone birthday, a wedding, or a bar mitzvah. I like to take the time and effort to learn each client’s “story.”

When Justin Bird first got to know Leilani Taylor, she challenged him to demonstrate how to solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle. He showed her in short order, and soon they were dating. So when Justin decided to propose marriage, he presented the engagement ring with his own personal style:

“Now that you can solve the puzzle, will you marry me?”

Leilani said “Yes,” and they plan to have an un-solved Rubik’s Cube for Justin’s groom’s cake.

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19) Honor Tradition!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years, College Traditions, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 19

Traditions exist for families, schools, religions, countries and cultures. Many traditions have ancient roots, that have long been forgotten.

One good definition of tradition is “something that must be done a certain way, and nobody can remember why.” Perhaps the most famous explanation of tradition comes from this classic scene from “Fiddler On The Roof,” presented here in its full glory:

I think my favorite part is when he admits, “I don’t know why.”

But traditions add a lot to a celebration. Traditions link us to our past, to our roots, and to our ancestors. They connect us with our faith, with our associations with friends, schools, and clubs…they connect us to each other.

Big Fat Greek Weddings are COOL!

And traditions can be just plain fun. If you have danced the hora at a Jewish wedding, or watched the kalamatiano dance at a Greek wedding (above), or witnessed the Alcatraz dance at a Peruvian wedding, you know what I mean. Traditions add a special element to any celebration.

Many schools and sports are steeped in tradition. Yachting traditions blend the nautical with the military, and there is nothing quite like the blue-blazered spectacle of Opening Day festivities at the Fort Worth Boat Club, complete with the Blessing of the Fleet and the Setting of the Watch by cannon fire!

Yacht Club officers in traditional non-conformist uniforms.

What about a group of Texas Aggies belting out the Aggie War Hymn?

This school has a long list of traditions, from standing up at football games to becoming engaged beneath the Century Tree. We have a Blog category for college traditions, and one just for Aggie Weddings. At one Aggie Corpsman’s wedding, they cut the cake with his sword.

The famous Century Tree at Texas A & M University, where Aggies propose.

Other schools joke that “if the Aggies do anything twice, they declare it to be a tradition!”

Regardless of age or origin, traditions have a special place in our hearts, and will always be honored – in a proper spirit of celebration – at PM Celebrations.

18) Do Your Homework!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 18

As kids we hated doing homework. So often it seemed like a waste of time, designed to simply keep us busy, and not to instruct. Since the beginning of time students have procrastinated, copied the work of others, and developed enormous type fonts to stretch 50 words into a three-page paper.

Ever wonder if ancient Sumerian school kids claimed the dog ate their clay tablets?

But if knowledge is power, then study is the fuel. There is no substitute for doing your homework – especially since the Internet has made research so easy. Unless your dog can swallow a laptop, there is no excuse.

My friends are often surprised when I tell them how much time I invest in study, research, reading, and continuing education in order to operate PM Celebrations.

“But you’re a DJ,” they say, “Don’t you just push ‘play’?”

It reminds me of my friend Rev. Frank Briggs of Lighthouse Fellowship. One of his church members once told him “You only work one day a week, and that’s just for one hour!” As a PK (preacher’s kid) I understood the absurdity of that right away.

But a DJ must obviously keep up with current music. This means reading Billboard charts and DJ publications like Mobile Beat and Disc Jockey News, as well as numerous other sources.

And a sound and lighting technician (another job a DJ does) must keep up with a vast and rapidly-expanding world of emerging technology. Everything from sound mixing and editing to lighting control is programmable. PM Celebrations has 4 software packages for sound control, 3 to run lighting, and 5 for audio and video editing. How many professions require you to learn 12 kinds of software?

Think a DJ doesn’t need to study? A brief lesson on simple DMX protocol will make you tear your hair out!

There are several dozen of the “jobs” a professional DJ entertainer performs, that would make a stand-alone career. And I often perform the tasks of a wedding coordinator, photographer, waiter, videographer, tailor, baker, bartender, and family counselor.

A career professional DJ is a businessman, which means keeping up with sales and marketing, bookkeeping, advertising, taxes, liability insurance, property inventories, warranties, two vehicles, and seven computers. Oh yes…there’s also the website…and the Blog…and WasteBook…

And keeping it all in good repair. It’s a full-time job.

17) Don’t “Just Do it,” Do It Well!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 17

While there is virtue to be found in Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, and Larry the Cable Guy tells us to “Git ‘er done,” that’s not good enough in my business.

In fact, “good enough” is fightin’ words at PM Celebrations! Clients don’t hire us to be merely adequate, our customers count on us to do our job exceedingly well. They have a valid reason to expect more than a minimal approach from the most experienced business in the field. I believe it is their right!

Master Yoda said it best in The Empire Strikes Back:


We work to find creative solutions, embrace new ideas, and to get things done for our clients – to exceed expectations, because “good enough” isn’t.

Do, or do not; There is no “try.”

16) Be Proactive

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 16

In Stephen Covey’s seminal 1989 book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” this is Numero Uno. It is the opposite of being reactive; it’s the art of acting first.

Wikipedia defines Proactivity as “being anticipatory and taking charge of situations.”

But it was hardly a new idea in 1989. Perhaps it’s the number one thing I learned in college, from a Journalism professor who stressed the need to “take the initiative.”

A friend put it differently: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

The easiest problems to solve are the ones that never happen. Being proactive and in control make life easy.

Over the years PM Celebrations has continually streamlined, simplified and improved our methods of planning and preparation, and of following up. The best defense is a “First Strike” offense.

15) You’re Never Too Old to Celebrate!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #15

We at PM Celebrations believe life should be celebrated!

Every milestone deserves to be celebrated with song and dance, food and drink, family and friends.

Little kids grow up celebrating every birthday. Themed parties are common, and my own kids had already planned the theme for their next 3 parties.

As we age, some adults lose sight of the importance of celebration. They only celebrate the 30th, 40th, 50th, etc. We have celebrated every milestone, including a few “39 and holding” denial parties.

But you’re never too old to celebrate! While the physical ability to celebrate may decline with age, the number of events – and people – to be celebrated only increases. The older you are, the more reason to celebrate!

This 80-year-old Great-grandmother understands.


You’re never too old to celebrate!