Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MY AWESOME DOG



How awesome is my dog?

So I'm playing bass the other day. You know, just noodling around, and I stumble over this really cool groove. As usual, Barney is sitting nearby hanging out. I'm playing, and I hit this really low, LOUD note. He jumps up. I tell him, "It's okay. It's just ROCK." He looks at me kinda funny, then trots over near my amp. I start playing again, really slow, slow notes. And then, ol' Barney begins to sing along. Actually, HOWL ALONG in a low pitch!!!

IT WAS SOOOO AWESOME! I HAVE A MUSICAL DOG!!!

Of course, I thought this was a one-time thing...

CUT TO:

Me playing drums yesterday. And Mr. Barney trots over again, and this time JOINS right in with the howling. Next thing you know, me and doggie are making music! Dude, it's enough to make me cry. It was so frickin' CUTE!!!

Yes, I have the best dog on the planet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

THE TRILOGY IS COMPLETED...



... AND IT'S NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH.

If you like Italian horror movies as much as I do, you already know who DARIO ARGENTO is.

DEEP RED... BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE... TENEBRE... all of them, CLASSICS. Along with Mario Bava (the godfather of Italian horror), Riccardo Freda, and Antonio Margheriti, Argento showed the world that England's Hammer studios wasn't the only place to produce brilliant spookfests in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Argento, however, is the most well-known of the bunch, continuing to produce and direct disturbing and hallucinogenic horror films up to the present day.

Now, at the ripe ol' age of 67, Argento has unleashed another masterpiece upon an unsuspecting world. It's called MOTHER OF TEARS, and it's the conclusion to a trilogy that began almost 30 years ago.

I watched MOTHER OF TEARS this weekend, and was just blown away. It's pure, unfiltered, classic Argento: gory, insane, beautiful, and dreamlike.

WARNING: THIS FILM IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.

We're talking horror fanatics ONLY. Definitely not for the squeamish.

Seriously, folks. If you don't like intensely gory flicks, don't watch this. And if you like straight forward, more coherent plots... forget about it. The stories in an Argento film unfold like a nightmare. They are full of Lynchian dream logic, which means sometimes they just don't make rational sense. Yet they still speak powerfully on a subconscious level. Also, the sheer gorgeousness of the cinematography--an Argento trademark--is tremendously powerful, resulting in a masterful, blood-drenched cacophony that's reminiscent of a car accident. It's horrifying, yet irresistible... you're compelled to look at it.

True horror fans are going to LOVE this movie (as I did). Those looking for heady themes and character arcs should look elsewhere. This is pure, horrific visual splendor.

And how does MOTHER stand up to the earlier entries in the series, SUSPIRIA and INFERNO? Perfectly!!! And that's what's so amazing. Watching this movie was like being transported back in time. The look and feeling of MOTHER might be more like Argento's other masterpiece, OPERA, but the story, characters, and schizophrenic-yet-violent beauty are right on par with Parts I & II. In fact, I'm going out on a limb here to say that I may have liked this one just as much as INFERNO. (Talk to me again after a second viewing. And for the record, SUSPIRIA... the supreme masterpiece of Italian horror, remains unequaled to this day.) BTW: special mention goes to composer Claudio Simonetti, whose score for MOTHER is awesome. Same thing goes for the film's top-notch gore/make-up/visual effects. Wow. They're just phenomenal! Throw in the beautiful and talented Asia Argento (Dario's daughter), and you've got, well... CLASSIC ARGENTO. A small, but pivotal role by DARIA NICOLODI was just wonderful icing on an already very enjoyable cake.

Ultimately, MOTHER OF TEARS isn't just a great ending to the "Three Mothers" trilogy, but it's also one of Argento's BEST films. It's definitely--IMHO--his best since the brilliant and crazy THE STENDAHL SYNDROME (another Dario/Asia collaboration).

Thank you, Dario, for finishing the trilogy with such a fantastic, original, and mind-blowing film. And to those interested in checking it out this Halloween, all I can say is... you've been warned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

THEY'RE BACK



After canceling their summer tour, YES is back.

Go to the link below for more details on the first leg of the tour, which starts this November!!! Sadly, vocalist Jon Anderson is still suffering from throat problems and fatigue, so they'll have a replacement singer this time out. But hey... if that means they'll play songs from "Drama" now, then who cares?!!

http://www.yesworld.com/

I'll tell you, I've seen this band 32 times now. And it's NOT ENOUGH. Now if they'll just announce some SoCal dates for the second leg. Otherwise, I'm gonna have to fly to Ohio...

Hmmm. Maybe I can catch a show AND visit the old neighborhood. After all...

"Toledo is just another good stop along the good king's highway..."

Monday, September 22, 2008

FINALLY... A BOND THEME THAT'S NASTY!!!



There's a new JAMES BOND flick coming out this November, which means it's time for a new BOND SONG.

Now I love Bond songs. Not only are they performed by top artists, but they always find some hilarious, over-the-top way to integrate the film's title--no matter how ridiculous it might be--in a way that's actually cool. Plus, there's usually a lot of big, "wall of sound" type orchestration to add to the fun. Simply put, a good Bond song is like a damn good party: a bit dangerous, but always memorable. But as much as I like them, there's one thing the modern Bond theme songs have been lacking in the last decade or so.

And that's BALLS.

Call me old fashioned, but I love brazen, ballsy anthems like the ones for "Thunderball" and "Live and Let Die." Yes, "For Your Eyes Only" is a great song, but... balls? Sorry. And for the record, I'm not referring to gender here. Shirley Bassey's performance on "Diamonds Are Forever" has ROCKIN' BALLS. By "balls" I'm referring to PURE, ADRENALINE-FUELED BRAVADO.

Well, apparently some folks are up in arms about the new Bond song, "Another Way to Die," which is performed by Jack White & Alicia Keys. They think it sucks. Hmmm. Well, I decided to listen to the song for myself this morning and make up my own mind.

Are they NUTS?!!!! THIS SONG IS F@#KING BADASSED!!!!



Holy crap... this is the BEST Bond song in YEARS. As I write this, I'm now listening to it for the FOURTH time in a row. I just can't get enough of this cut. Take about balls, and they're SEXY, DIRTY, NASTY BALLS, too, thanks to Alicia's uber-awesomeness which gives Jack's riffs the perfect touch of class.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Go to the official web link below and judge for yourself.

http://www.thirdmanrecords.com/?loc=interstitialskip

I think you're gonna dig it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A DREAM FULFILLED



Cool cover, eh?

It's for next month's DC UNIVERSE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2008, and I've contributed a short 7-page story to it called "Role Model." It's a dream fulfilled because I've been reading comics all my life and now, finally, I get to write for a medium that's soooo close to my heart. I had such a blast writing this one--it's a special Halloween themed story starring VIXEN from the Justice League of America--hopefully they'll be more on the horizon.

The DC UNIVERSE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2008 hits local comic book stores on Wednesday, October 22.

Monday, September 15, 2008

REMEMBERING RICHARD WRIGHT



Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright passed away today at age 65 after losing a battle with cancer.

My condolences and best wishes to his family and friends during this time.



Unfortunately, I only saw Pink Floyd just once in 1987 on the "Momentary Lapse of Reason" tour. At the time, I remember thinking that there was no way they would play my all-time favorite PF song, "Echoes." After all, it was just too long and obscure. This was, after all, the EIGHTIES. Four minute pop songs by A-ha ruled the airwaves.

Well... that night in Austin, TX at the second of two nights at the Frank Erwin Center, Pink Floyd OPENED with "Echoes." And I mean, all 27 minutes of it, complete with a weird-ass slide guitar solo in the middle and everything! Needless to say, I was literally transported to another planet and my concert experiences were never quite the same.

When Pink Floyd reunited for Live 8 in 2005, I remember watching the show with my wife. She was blown away at seeing "Comfortably Numb" brought to life by the men who created it, having only experienced the song on the radio. I remember hoping that I wasn't witnessing the final live performance of the Floyd, but also being happy, because if I were seeing their Final Cut... how fitting that it should be one of their greatest ever.

Thanks, Richard, for all the great music and memories. You will be missed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

TERRY MOORE OFFERS UP A NEW STRANGER...



Speaking of comic books...

I was at my local comic store, HOUSE OF SECRETS, the other day and I finally picked up Terry Moore's ECHO tradeback. (Some of you may know Terry from his groundbreaking graphic novel series, "Strangers In Paradise.") The cover, a woman standing in some kind of bizarre metal rainstorm, had caught my eye several times... but for whatever reason I never picked up the book. Until now. And boy, am I glad I did.

ECHO is fantastic.

The tradeback pictured above, "Moon Lake," collects the first five issues. So far it's the story of a female photographer who stumbles over some kind of secret military nuclear test. No, it's doesn't change her into the Hulk. But it does change her life forever. I won't spoil the mystery by saying how, but I will say that it's really cool.

What I love best about the book is how deeply it engages you in the main character's messy personal life. She's going through a divorce, something REALLY BAD happened to her family (which I'm dying to find out exactly what in future issues), and now she's hearing the voice of a dead woman in her head. Yet the book still has a wonderful sense of humor, great art, and a sense of honesty that's missing from most literature, let alone comic books, these days.

Apparently the latest issue (#6) just hit stands. Guess I gotta go back to store ASAP...

Check it out. I think you'll like it. A LOT.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

WORDS & MUSIC



So, I'm sitting at my writing desk, cranking out pages and listening to CAMILLE.

Who, exactly, is Camille? Well, I didn't know who she was until a month ago either. She's this cool, avant-garde French singer/songwriter who's just fantastic. Not only are the songs excellent, but her voice is just... special. It's not just the range, it's also the way she sings around words and syllables. The way she seems to attack language, but still maintain a fragile clarity at the same time. The way she uses her voice as its own instrument...

Damn awesome stuff.

Sometimes weird, sometimes beautiful, but always inescapably enchanting.

Check out the clip below in which Camille, sans band, uses sampled triggers of her own voice to create a musical bed over which she then sings... WILD, INSPIRING STUFF, eh?!



The picture below is from her first album, "Le Sac des Filles," and it's quickly gone into heavy rotation on my iTunes playlists.



Of course, this got me to thinking -- "What do I listen to when writing?" The thing I've noticed most is that I can't listen to anything with words (in English), because if I do, I end up concentrating too much or getting distracted by lyrics. Which means I write to a ton of instrumental stuff. So without further ado, here are my top ten favorite CDs to write to:



1. "Batman Begins" Soundtrack - Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
2. "Live Evil" - Miles Davis (pictured above)
3. "Symphonic Holocaust" - Morte Macabre
4. "Dusty Trails" (the instrumental tracks) - Dusty Trails
5. "The Amazing Pudding" (and other instrumentals) - Pink Floyd
6. "Le Sac des Filles" - Camille
7. "De Futura" (and anything else this crazy by) - Magma
8. "Ghosts I-IV" + "Various Instrumentals from The Fragile" - Nine Inch Nails
9. "The Fog" & "Prince of Darkness" Soundtracks - John Carpenter
10. "Nocturnes" - Claude Debussy



That Claude's a snappy dresser, eh? Maybe I should try a bow tie sometime...

OK. Time to stop procrastinating and go back to work...