Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.
Do you love Joss Whedon as much as I do?
Then you're probably just as anxious as me to see his two latest projects. The first, of course, is DOLLHOUSE, his new Fox series starring Faith herself, Eliza Dushku. Then there's this... DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG. It's got Doogie Howser, Capt. Mal Reynolds, and looks hilarious! It's an online musical project, and since Joss's last sonic sing-a-long (Buffy's "Once More With Feeling") is a MASTERPIECE... I'm really hoping for something special. I also love that Joss is doing this on his own, and just putting up content online. Very post-strike saavy and cool. Way to go, dude!
DR. HORRIBLE launches on a computer near you this summer. A panel at the San Diego Comic Con this year promises to have the cast & crew, as well as spill the beans on the project. The panel is scheduled for July 25th. Guess you know where I'll be that day.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Yes, that's exactly you think it is. A Doctor Who "TARDIS" cake. Now I know what want for my birthday.
No, I didn't make this. I stumbled upon it while surfing Boing Boing. Check out the web address below if you haven't boinged yourself lately. (heh)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Because NUMBERWANG isn't enough...
Oh, and did anyone else catch THAT MITCHELL AND WEBB LOOK last Friday on BBC America? How funny was "That 70s Hospital Double Entendre" spoof? OMG. Trust me, I'll post that one, too, as soon as I can find it. Again, courtesy of the greatest invention of all time: YOU TUBE.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
There are concerts and then there are transcendent events that take your breath away. Friday night I experienced the latter. In spades.
RETURN TO FOREVER, the famed jazz fusion group, performed last Friday here at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles. What a show! And what a crowd! Very rarely do you see such an eclectic mix of races and ages. This was their first concert tour since 1983, and that was only a brief one-off series of shows -- so really this is the first time these for musicians have worked seriously together since 1976.
Either way you look at it, 25 or 32 years is a long for a band to be apart. So much of what makes great groups prosper is chemistry, and chemistry takes time and proximity. So how were they?
Brilliant. Mesmerizing. Astonishing.
Now as most of you know, I'm a bass player myself, and yes... Stanley Clarke IS my idol. But I'm telling you, this entire band was on fire. Don't believe me? Check out the clip below, courtesy of You Tube. Oh, and if you want to see something really cool, go to about 8:50 into the clip and listen as the ENTIRE CROWD exchanges scat vocal call-and-responses with Chick! (The low singing guy is me!)
The concert lasted a kick-ass TWO-AND-A-HALF hours. Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar introduced the show, adding that he's been friends with the band for many years. The previous night was Chick's birthday, so Stanley led us all in a rendition of the birthday song. When it was revealed that Chick was born in Boston--one night after the worst Finals defeat in Laker history--the crowd booed. Chick apologized and asks us not to hold this against him, which we didn't.
The first half of the show was electric with the group blasting through hits from their three 70s lps, "Where Have I Known You Before," "No Mystery," and "Romantic Warrior." What was so surprising was that while no one has lost their musical chops and the ability to shred at a thousand miles an hour, age and maturity has brought an expansion in the group's dynamic range. The concert started out with a slow, gradual grace, each musician displaying delicate interplay with the others, culminating into a furious grove and one of my favorite RTF tunes, "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy." Then, the band got FUNKY. Yes, you read that correctly. The world's most famous fusion band broke out some nasty, funky, hip-hop grooves, specifically during the song, "Sorceress." Ooooh, too good!!!
After a 15-20 minute break, the second half of the show highlighted the group on acoustic instruments. And this is where the event transcended into outer space. My God. They're all even BETTER on acoustic instruments than they are on electric ones. Al Di Meola's solo spot on classical guitar was just beautiful and poignant.
And Stanley's acoustic bass solo? FUCK. I, a writer, have no words to describe it. If you love music, you MUST see this man play live before it's too late. He doesn't just play the bass. He celebrates the human condition on it, all the while expressing and sharing his pure joy with the audience.
Yes, I cried and have no problems admitting it.
Not to be outdone, both Lenny and Chick got down acoustically on the title cut from their most famous lp, "The Romantic Warrior." Lenny thanked the audience for supporting instrumental music, pointing out that in today's plastic age of short attention spans and boy bands, RTF is still a "man's band." I'll extend that on his behalf, and say even moreso that it is a "people's band" -- all inclusive and a joy to behold.
What more is there to say? Well, RTF is still on tour, folks. Go to the web address below to see the remaining dates, and if they come your way... GO SEE THEM. Take the whole family. You won't regret it. And if you need a refresher course on their music or are new to jazz fusion, pick up their new CD, "Return to Forever -- The Anthology." It's a greatest hits collection that's been remastered; I have the old versions of these songs, and the new remastering makes them sound better than ever.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Guess what they'll be wearing at Comic Con this year?
Yup, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is the latest franchise to jump on the haute couture band wagon. Nice, eh? Makes me wanna see the movie, though, more than buy the shoes. I'll stick with my Freddy Krueger's.
Please God... let there be X-FILES sneakers!!!!!!!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Well, apparently a lot of you folks LOOOOOOVE to play "Numberwang," and want to know where it comes from. "Numberwang" is yet another wacky skit courtesy of THAT MITCHELL AND WEBB LOOK.
THAT MITCHELL AND WEBB LOOK is a comedy show on BBC America that is just absolutely hilarious! The comedy just make no sense, and is absolutely brilliant. Check your local listing for the next episode -- I'm pretty sure my TiVo is recording another one next week. And get this, this episode apparently features "Wordwang!" Oh, I can't wait...
Of course, if you can't wait until next week for more, go to our friends at You Tube (HOW did we live without this?) and just punch in, "That Mitchell and Webb Look." You can also go to their official BBC web page at:
And yes, that is the guy from the Doctor Who episode, "The Long Game." Good eye, Heather!
Oh. I guess I should go back to writing my script now. Hmm... maybe I'll have lunch instead.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
I'm a super-fast reader, really.
When I first came to Hollywood, one of my first jobs was working as a Story Analyst/Reader for CAA. Man, that was another lifetime ago! Anyway... because I was getting paid per script or per book for each review a.k.a. "piece of coverage" I wrote, I quickly figured out that speed was a necessity. That is... if I wanted to eat.
I did that for the better part of 3 1/2 years, and by the end... I could read an 800 page novel in about 6 hours. And that's with full reading comprehension intact. After all, I did have to write a glorified book report when it was all done. BTW: Those years taught me an AWFUL LOT about the importance of STRUCTURE. You aspiring writers TAKE NOTE. Characters come and go... but a damn good plot and structure sucks in the audience from the get-go.
And speaking of good structures... I just finished reading a REALLY good book. It's called THE GODFATHER. You may have heard of it...
Now I know what you're thinking. Why am I talking about such a famed work of art? Well, if you're like me... I've seen the MOVIE version many, many times. Same goes for THE GODFATHER, PARTS II & III. (Whoa... I've actually only seen the third flick once. Is that really possible?!!)
But like most folks my age, I never read the book. Well, to make a long story short, it looked like I might be writing a GODFATHER comic book. To get ready for the job, I prepped myself by going back and reading the book. The opportunity fell through. But lemme tell you about the book, 'cause it was a VERY interesting experience.
Here's a breakdown...
First of all, the book has the same basic overall plot as the movie. But there are subplots, character idiosyncrasies, and plot digressions that are a big surprise because they don't appear in the film. For example... the character of Sonny Corleone. As played by James Caan, he's a blowhard and a tough guy. But there's a whole sexual side to the character that's NOT in the movie. An entire subplot covers his affair with one of Connie Corleone's bridesmaids, and man... do they go into a bit of explicit detail! Also, after Sonny is killed, the bridesmaid's character CONTINUES through the book in an even larger role. This happens when the Corleone family begins their move to Las Vegas.
Which takes us to another big plot difference between the movie and the book. The last quarter of the book focuses on Michael Corleone's plan to move the Corleone family out of NYC, and relocate the "family business" in the newest playground called Las Vegas. It's all stuff that Francis Ford Coppola took and ran with brilliantly in THE GODFATHER, PART II. But the beginnings of it are in the book! Oh, and yes, all the Robert DeNiro stuff from the second movie (with the exception of his return to Italy to gain vengeance by killing the man who killed his father years earlier) IS in the book.
Another minor character from the movie who has a HUGE role in the book, is, believe it or not, JOHNNY FONTANE. Yes, you read that correctly. The singer who has, like, two scenes in the movie has this entire CHARACTER ARC in the book. It starts the same with Johnny singing at the wedding. And of course, there's the famous "horse head in bed" that gets Johnny his acting job and resuscitates his movie career. But after that... there's a whole plot about Johnny's rise to become a mega-producer in Hollywood. There's also a particularly poignant storyline where Johnny loses his voice, but undergoes risky surgery to restore it. We even get to meet Johnny's ex-wife, and get a glimpse into their weird, estranged relationship.
Oh, and the surgeon who performs the surgery that restores Johnny's voice? He's ANOTHER big character in the book that doesn't even appear in the movie. Turns out the guy's an ex-ABORTIONIST who got caught, blacklisted, and now does medicine for the mob! And get this... the surgeon ends up falling in love with Sonny's mistress-- Connie's bridesmaid--who had moved to Vegas to help... FREDO CORLEONE (!)... who has been taking care of the Corleone's interests in Vegas (more stuff that Coppola ran with in the second movie).
Then, of course, there's MICHAEL CORLEONE. Again, his arc is the same in both the book and movie, but Michael's more ruthless in the book. Also, he gets into an accident early on in the book which disfigures him (this is briefly touched upon in the movie when Michael's jaw is wired shut) and it causes him to have this really disgusting, perpetually runny nose. Am I soooo NOT kidding. It's just gross. Kay has a larger role in the book. We really see how naive and innocent she is, and how once she realizes Michael is a murderer (the end of the book and movie), she becomes religiously devout, even to the point of converting to Catholicism. Oh, and Michael's life in Italy is much more detailed, especially his courtship to his first wife. Puzo again--the horny ol' bastard--goes into explicit detail in describing Michael's delight as he deflowers his virginal bride on their wedding night. It's enough to make Jackie Collins proud... or never stop throwing up.
And speaking of the writing itself, it's absolutely wonderful. it's a bit dated in its approach to male/female relationships (female readers beware... this book was DEFINITELY written before the women's lib movement!), but not enough to ruin things. Let me share a particularly great passage with you. This is from the final third of the book, when Michael is still in Italy, and is beginning to discover the origins of the Mafia and its place in Sicilian society:
"In this antique garden, Michael Corleone learned about the roots from which his father grew. That the word "Mafia" had originally meant place of refuge. Then it became the name for the secret organization that sprang up to fight against the rulers that had crushed the country and its people for centuries. Sicily was a land that had been more cruelly raped than any other in history. The Inquisition had tortured rich and poor alike. The landowning barons and the princes of the Catholic Church exercised absolute power over the shepherds and farmers. The police were the instruments of their power and so identified with them that to be called a policeman is the foulest insult one Sicilian can hurl at another."
"Faced with the savagery of this absolute power, the suffering people learned never to betray their anger and their hatred for fear of being crushed. They learned never to make themselves vulnerable by uttering any sort of threat since giving such a warning insured a quick repirsal. They learned that society was their enemy and so when they sought redress for their wrongs they went to the rebel underground, the Mafia. And the Mafia cemented its power by orginating the law of silence, the omerta."
Great stuff, eh?
So if you're a movie fan and you want to dig deeper into one of the great cinema stories of all time... or if you're an aspiring screenwriter who wants to learn how make a great adaptation... or if you just want a DAMN GOOD YARN to read... go to your local library and dive into this book.
It's an offer you won't be able to refuse.