Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh Canada

I've been in Vancouver BC for the last few days and will be enjoying Canadian hospitality for another couple weeks as my next episode of Falling Skies winds through the production process. I'm still having an odd sense of deja vu... I'm staying in the same hotel chain that we used when Falling Skies shot in Toronto, and even though I spent quite a bit of time in Vancouver for Battlestar Galactica, I keep confusing the two cities. Hey, where's that comic book shop I liked? Oh wait, that was Toronto. Gee, maybe I'll go to Niagara Falls and... nope. Toronto again. Hmm, maybe I'll call some West Coast friends, but with the time difference... but wait! I'm in Vancouver! Yaaaahh!

I have to admit I do miss my American television. There are many American stations available here, but as a political junkie I wish I had my MSNBC and could access my Tivo'ed Daily Show and Colbert fixes. Yes, I know I could probably stream some of this stuff, but I'm old school, baby. I want to see it on TV. Also, for some insane reason Falling Skies was only available on some exclusive pay channel package (don't ask me to explain it, I'm just visiting) so hardly anybody here knows the show. So the "what do you do?", "oh, I write and produce this little show with Steven Spielberg called Falling Skies" exchange really doesn't provide as many dividends as it might in, say, PLACES THAT MAKE THE SHOW EASILY ACCESSIBLE.

The other benefit of Vancouver is the ready access to multiple casinos... this is where the Canadians have it all over the U.S. I can walk out the door on my hotel and begin losing money, I mean, "winning" after a ten minute walk. Now that's what I cal civilized. However, great tragedy ensued when I went to my former-fave casino and discovered they had torn out my beloved "Top Dollar" slot machines. Oh, the horror, the humanity. My despair must lasted all the way to the bar, when a shot of Woodford's Reserve eased my pain. I will have to investigate other casinos now to find "the precious."

The other tragic by-product of the global economy is that US money isn't worth jack up here. In the old days, when the exchange rate made the Canadian dollar worth 70 cents to a US greenback, businesses just LOVED to take your US currency one to one. But now that the tables have turned, the squints and "I don't knows" you get when we flash your Washingtons can be devastating.

But aside from that and the bitter cold, it's a really nice place...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Colbert Doesn't Get The Other Colbert

Thanks to Mark Evanier (again!) for the link. This guy thinks Stephen Colbert's on-going Super PAC riff is injurious to the body politic. Me, I think he's doing the system an enormous favor by dissecting the absurdity of our current, money-bloated electoral process.

I am also intrigued over the irony that the first candidates to squeal over the unfairness of Super PAC big money are mostly the same who supported it from the right, but that's neither here nor there...


Up (The Political TV Show, Not The Excellent Movie!)

The best political show on TV right now is "Up With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC, which for the moment runs at the criminally ridiculous West Coast time of 5:00AM to 7:00AM on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Hayes brings four guests to his round table, and they basically discuss the issues of the day for two solid hours. There is no screaming, no hosts cutting off guests, and a scary level of intellectual curiosity about how the political machinations are going. Politically it unapologetically skews to the left, but there are usually guests representing opposing views. This morning, for instance, featured David Stockman (Reagan's budget guy) on the panel, and Republican-turned-Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson was on yesterday.

I have no idea what kind of a rating a 5:00AM show on MSNBC could possibly clock, but they've added one more viewer in Los Angeles...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Penultimate! I Like That Word!

...because I'm currently writing the penultimate episode of Falling Skies season two. I don't think it spills any beans to announce the title, "The Price of Greatness," or to report that it involves, well, the 2nd Mass and stuff. I haven't been posting a lot of info about the upcoming season of F.S. because virtually any content I might spill would constitute a spoiler, but I can say that I've seen cuts of multiple episodes and this season definitely continues to kick (alien) butt. Many surprises are on tap, both from the sci-fi perspective and emotionally between our characters.

I just tweeted that I was looking forward to a rainy writing day this morning, but then the sun came out. Given the weather in the rest of the country, bitching about sunshine may seem a bit untoward. Still, I do love cloudy/rainy days in Southern California. Growing up in Oregon, cloudy/wet was the default until I moved South, and somehow light precipitation still feels more "homey" than sunny and 80. Plus a constant drizzle lowers the impetus to work-avoid, as in visiting the beach, shopping in an open air mall or going out for lunch. In fact it leaves me stuck with the last refuge of writerly work avoidance, my blog! So back to it --

Jaw, Say Hello To Floor

My friend Mark Evanier linked to this article from his blog (newsfromme.com), calling it "the stupidest option column anyone has ever written." I think Mark undersold it.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Watch Ernest Troost Then Buy His Stuff

My old friend Ernest Troost, besides being an Emmy award winning film composer and really nice guy, has released three CDs of lovely original music. Which he has been playing around the country in equally lovely performances. Ernest played McCabes in Los Angeles a week or so ago, and several video tracks from the concert have made it to YouTube. Check out the tracks, then head over to CDBaby.com, type in Troost and buy his CDs/downloads. I'm especially partial to his latest, which is a CD of his Jan. 2010 performance at McCabes, but they all come with my highest recommendation!


The Amazing Buddy Rich

I like to pound the drums from time to time (I still keep a set in my home office), so jazz drummer Buddy Rich was naturally someone whose musical chops I admired. But apparently he could be a bit of a pill toward his band. And waiters. Audiences. Bus drivers. The guy running the lights in the back of the auditorium. In fact it appears that Buddy was perpetually furious at virtually everyone that crossed his path, in any capacity. There is a famous, secretly recorded Buddy verbal tirade (almost assuredly google-able) that is legendary for its sheer venom. And I just came across the following post recounting one player's adventures during a Buddy tour...


But if you go into the comment thread itself, you'll find a somewhat heart-warming story of Buddy warming up when he meets a 7 year old drum prodigy.


Which just goes to show. People. They're a curious bunch.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Varied And Sundry...


We caught the B-52's in concert last night, a lovely albeit really loud show in a smallish venue in Anaheim. This was the first time I'd seen the band live and I was not disappointed, except in that they didn't play "Dance This Mess Around." Their new live CD, "With The Wild Crowd", pretty much captures the audio version of last night's concert in superb sound. The blu-ray coming out in March (of the same show as the CD) will most likely capture the visual element in similar fashion. But they're still fun to see live!


I'm kind of a sucker for the band "Enuff Z'Nuff", a Cheap Trick-ish group that's been around for years. At their worst they do really dumb guitar-metal with a shriekey/growley lead singer, but at their best they do sublime multi-layered power pop that tickles my fancy. Couple years ago they put out a live CD recorded at a Japanese club called "Club Citta." "Live And Peace 2009" celebrates 20 years since the last time they played the joint and offers an equal assortment of good Z'nuff and, well, enough Z'nuff. Sound quality is exceptional, though. Sadly, the CD set appears to be hard to find now. I plucked one off the collector's market for *grumblegrumble* but I'm betting those with better internet skills can find it for less. Assuming I haven't scared them off with this less than enthusiastic, and yet somewhat enthusiastic review...


"Columbiana" was kind of savaged and/or ignored when it came out last Fall, but I liked it. 'Course I'm a sucker for almost anything with the Luc Besson pedigree. Zoe Zaldana plays a woman who lost her family to drug assassins as a child, then grew up to become an assassin herself so she can track down the bad guys who messed with her. Multiple fights, explosions, chases and sexy interludes ensue. This one's a little colder than "Taken" or "The Professional" and maybe that's what turned folks off. But I like Zaldana and I enjoyed the movie.

On the other hand, "Killer Elite" (not the Peckinpah version) was a baffler. It features a great cast (Jason Stathem, Robert Deniro, Clive Owen) stranded in an over-complicated plot that left me completely confused at several points. Some okay action, but lots of moments where I was just trying to figure out who was shooting at who and why. I don't mind it when Terence Malick leaves me scratching my head, but I want my assassin movies to make sense. Damn it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bastard Speaks FRENCH?!!

Really? Now understanding/speaking a foreign language is a line of attack for the Republican candidates? I'm no Romney fan, but even I'll give him a pass 'cause he can do speechin' like some damn Frenchie.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I WIll Buy Them

Great news that Universal, celebrating 100 years in the film racket, are going to be doing full on blu-ray restorations of the 1932 Dracula (both English and Spanish versions), Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, plus several others classics including To Kill A Mockingbird and Jaws. (That last one already needs restoration? That's sad.) I will not be satisfied until the entire Universal Monsters catalog exists in the highest def possible, but this is a start!


Saturday, January 07, 2012


Gotta love Gov. Rick Perry's quote from this evening's Republican debate. Regarding the pull-out from Iraq, he said: “We are going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light." Guess those Iranian FTL drives are coming along well! Literally!

Friday, January 06, 2012


No, not what I'm going to do after a couple of margaritas this evening, but a new book coming from Dark Horse, written by my great friend Jan Strnad and illustrated by his great friend Richard Corben. Check the link for an interview with these two gents and then buy their book!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

I gave up making New Year's resolutions three drinks and a pack of cigarettes ago, but here's why 2012 will be a great year for America: our continued celebration of diversity. I mean, what an amazing country. I can believe what I believe, you can believe what you believe... because as a nation we embrace diverse thought, cultures and lifestyles. We accept that we're all different, while simultaneously understanding that the free expression and tolerance of those differences only makes us stronger...

Oh wait. This just in from Presidential candidate Rick Santorum:

(...)Santorum appeals to Iowa voters with a mix of unusual lines that won’t play outside the Hawkeye State. “Diversity creates conflict. If we celebrate diversity, we create conflict,” Santorum told the audience in Ottumwa.