Sunday, April 29, 2012

Updatin' The Updates

Things have been a little hectic around the ranch so posting has been less than usual, but here are few updates:

HEMLOCK GROVE:  We continue to write and cast and roar toward production in lovely Pittsburgh this Summer.  As I believe I've mentioned before, anyone looking for a sneak preview is inviting to pick up Brian McGreevy's spooky novel from Amazon or any fine book retailer.

FALLING SKIES: Season two returns June 17 with a two hour spectacular, hour one written by yours truly.  So what the heck happened to Tom after he went into the alien space ship?  Did the aliens offer him a deli plate and coffee and apologize for the big misunderstanding?  That would have been a different way to go, but sorry, no.  And what about the 2nd Mass?  Well?  What about them?  Tune in June 17 and find out!  

SPRINGSTEEN: We caught Bruuuuuce on 4/27/12 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and an excellent time was had by all. Well, by me, at least. This new tour is heavy with songs from the "Wrecking Ball" album, which is mostly swell, and the usual compliment of great covers, oldies and stadium staples. The possible pall cast by the deaths of band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici is dealt with in a lovely and spiritual way during the songs "My City in Ruins" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out", as well as by the presence of Clemons' nephew Jake, picking up the sax where Uncle C. left off.

But the show itself is the thing, and it remains a joyful and joyous celebration by a guy who clearly loves what he's doing and does it incredibly well. At 62 Springsteen is still crowd-surfing and belting out 3 hour shows without a break. And early arrivers were treated to Springsteen giving his family a tour of the stage, followed by an impassioned solo performance of "For You." You really need to see this guy to believe it...

STEVEN SEAGAL: I finally managed to catch a couple episodes of "True Justice", the new cop series that Seagal's writing, producing and starring in for the Reelz channel. Wow. If his direct-to-video movies were looking a little threadbare, this is scraping the barrel time.

Seagal's packed on a few lbs. and is rarely shot below the neck and does many scenes behind desks or from inside cars. If you think this could slightly inhibit the action scenes, you're right! He does a few quick-cut type moves now and again, but they're not very impressive. And the stories are... umm... well, why kick a dog when its down. I thought Seagal was funny in Machete!

SQUEEZE: The English band is back on tour and they've just released another live collection, "Live At The Fillmore" via i-tunes. It's from a 2010 show but appears to the representative of the current tour. Either way, it's another fine set and I only wish it were available on actual CD...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Family On SyFy!

So, you're asking, what besides Hemlock Grove may be in your humble scribe's future?  Well, how about this, announced at today's SyFy Channel upfronts...
The Family – For generations, an alien family has hid amongst humans in plain sight using their advanced intellect to carve out a life for themselves as their family grew. But when the family patriarch that kept peace amongst the factions dies, a war begins to brew with some members believing the time has come to reveal themselves, and their superior power, to the inferior human race. Writer: Dan Harris (Superman Returns, X2). Executive producers: Neal Moritz (21 Jump Street, Total Recall), Mark Verheiden (Falling Skies, Battlestar Galactica). A production of Sony Pictures TV.
Read about SyFy's whole development slate at:
And yes, we're very excited!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Man Who Hates Billy Joel

I just read a lengthy article in some on-line publication excoriating the musical work of one Mr. Billy Joel.  To the writer Joel wasn't merely a hack, but the hackiest of hacks who had taken his hackitude to new levels of hack-dom.  All of which was a little hard to accept with a Billy Joel CD playing on my home office stereo at the time...

But it led me to wonder why people/critics get so angry at guys like Billy Joel, or Thomas Kinkade, or Meatloaf (both the singer and the mushy food product), or any other critical punching-bag de jour.  I can understand a certain amount of wrath for politicians, whose decisions can directly impact the lives of folks.  But the Billy Joels of the world are easily avoided, especially these days, when you can fine-tune your musical experience(s) to the Nth degree.  Yes, I suppose Billy Joel haters may occasionally be exposed to a random play of "Just The Way You Are" at the supermarket, but that's the price we pay for living in "society."  And it hardly rises to the level of some capital offense..

What intrigues me is that it's not enough for this critic to hate Billy Joel's music -- it's appears to offend him that any sentient being would dare to enjoy a musical experience that he deems unworthy.  Same with the late Mr. Kinkade's work.  I don't have much interest in fairies and magical cabins, but if it floats your float, more power to you.

I guess you could make a case that the public affection for popular but critically disrespected art/TV/film/comic books drives out better material.  But it's a weak case.  It's been my experience that somebody who loves NCIS isn't going to switch to Boardwalk Empire because NCIS is cancelled.  They're going to switch to another procedural, or watch NCIS reruns, or do something else.  Erasing Billy Joel's music from the planet will not send his former fans scurrying in search of jazz-fusion song cycles.  They'll just miss trying to sing along to the acapella parts from "The Longest Time."

What really annoys me is now I have this guy's critical screed in my head.  I mean, I was just sitting here blithely tapping my toe to "An Innocent Man" when this pissed-off critic took a proverbial poo on my musical choices.  Yeah, well, screw you, man.  It's only rock and roll but I like it (oh Jeez, shoot me now)...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Okay --

So blogger has changed their format and as the post below suggests, suddenly standard paragraph breaks don't happen. Hmm. I don't like this...

Seagalogy Redux

I'm pretty sure I reviewed this book once before, but damned if I'm going to scroll through 1000+ posts to check. Besides, this is a brand new 2012 edition that catches up to the amazing Steven Seagal's most recent work. Writer Vern (that's it, just Vern) has a knack for finding the absurdity in Seagal's movies while simultaneously expressing genuine enthusiasm for the actor's singular appeal. I'm not usually a fan of books with lengthy recaps of movies that can be streamed for next to nothing, but these recaps are genuinely additive to the viewing experience. In fact, having many of the direct-to-video movies that Vern's reviewing, I can report that his reviews are generally infinitely more entertaining than the root source. And so compelling that one actually sent me scurrying to my DVD pile to scan through "Out For Justice", Vern's all time fave Seagal film and one of mine as well. Seagal's erratic trajectory in the movie is a marvel, and the fight scenes are among his best. Vern made me remember and for that, I doff my cap!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Arrest Record

Apparently it's on-line, or so I have been led to believe by the multiple spam messages I've been getting. I never cease to be impressed (in a dark, humans-sure-do-creepy-shit way) by the imaginations of spammers trying to collect clicks. I have not explored my on-line arrest record, but I'm guessing it's rather sparse since I've yet to be arrested for anything. However, the day is still young...

I assume if I did click on the link, I would be taken to a site selling Viagra (per my other most frequent spam, "A Powerful Sex Life Is What All Men Need!") or maybe just drop-kicked with a computer virus that would create some other kind of havoc. I'm almost nostalgic for the ol' Nigerian scams, which were at least vaguely creative...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paul Chadwick On Thomas Kinkade

My pal Paul remembers his former roommate... plus extra bonus photos of the legendary "Golden Palms" apartment complex, where I lived for almost five glorious years after moving to Los Angeles. Boy did THOSE images bring back memories...

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Snarling Bum On The Cover? It Must Be "A Ditko" #16!

As long as Steve (Spider-Man) Ditko and publisher Robin Snyder keep printing 'em, I'll keep reviewing and recommending! Issue #16 features "The Madman", "The Celebrity", "The Cape," "The Outline" and "Hero."

"Hero" opens with a cigar-chomping hood hiring a fur-clad goon called "The Caveman" to stop other gangs from "poaching on other gang's territory." Caveman finds another gang and says "Your poaching days are over! You'll learn to stay in line!" He proceeds to beat the gang to a pulp, finishing with "You need another lesson, you'll get it. NO MORE POACHING!" Then a costumed hero (whose name I guess is "hero") shows up just when Cavemen decides to take over all the gangs for himself. Hero pounds Caveman. In the last two panels, cops show up off a "tip" and note that "we got a real haul. Bust, broke top gang, crooked politician, enforcer!" "Who did it?" "Guess..." The end!

You can order your own copy from the site below... you know you want it!

When I Was Thomas Kinkade

Very sad news this morning that painter Thomas Kinkade died of natural causes at the far too young age of 54. I'll leave discussions of his work and legacy to others. What I choose to remember about Tom and his wife Nanette was how they did me a solid many many years ago.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I shared an apartment with my friend Paul Chadwick (creator of the character "Concrete" and a brilliant artist) in a rundown apartment complex called "The Golden Palms." The building had become low-rent housing of choice for former and current Art Center students, and my next door neighbors were Jim Gurney (creator of "Dinotopia") and next to him, Thomas Kinkade.

In those days (and maybe still) apartments were rent controlled, meaning the landlord couldn't arbitrarily raise your rent more than a specified percentage unless the apartment changed hands. Our landlord was a mostly absentee fellow named "Mr. Tung" who would come to each apartment every month with a bag that literally had a dollar sign on it and the name of the local bank, to collect the rent.

I went through some major emotional "stuff" soon after coming to L.A., and Tom and his wife (who barely knew me) were kind enough to take me to dinner and soothe my ruffled feathers. Not long after that, Tom decided to move (wise choice, the GP was a hellhole) and he graciously bequeathed his apartment and most of his furniture to yours truly. I also continued to live under the name on the rental agreement. Despite my headline (revising the truth because it makes a better story), Kinkade's apartment was actually still under the name of some guy who has been renting it two or three tenants ago. Mr. Tung didn't seem to mind and I was broke, so I took over the low rent payments.

Funny how life intersects, twists and turns... I didn't see much of Tom after that, but I was certainly impressed by his incredible success. But mostly I recall those acts of kindness...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Some Feminists Don't Look Like Bella Abzug

Sounds like conservative Phyllis Schlafly gave the all-male cadet audience at the Citadel a lot to chew on during a recent address...

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Falling Skies Season 2 Episode 1 PREVIEW

Wanna see the first three minutes of Falling Skies Season Two? Written by yours truly? Directed by Greg Beeman? With lots of shooting and stuff?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Reading Tea Leaves...

I was work-avoiding around the internet and came across an article that sought to explain the "five things" Hollywood needs to learn from the success of The Hunger Games film.

I would think that the first thing to learn is that wild successes like Hunger Games or the Twilight movies are a manifestation of something much larger than decisions about whether to debut a movie in the Spring or Summer, or bold proclamations that "audiences like female leads!" The author(s) of the novel(s) tapped into something rare and wonderful, and there's really no way to force that. Cajole, prod, suggest and push, sure -- but this level of grassroots excitement only comes when the fans are massively engaged by the material. If marketing people could buy that, trust me, they would.

The real "lesson" to be learned from Hunger Games is to always adapt a massive best seller that's exploded Harry-Potter style across the exact demographic of young adults who like to see the same movie in the theater 7 times. Then make what appears to be a very good adaptation (don't know, haven't seen it yet) that reflects the book and manages to make real what enthralled fans on the page. Easy peasy! (By the way, I'm not denigrating the very real effort that went into producing a popular movie. It is entirely possible to mess up a good thing.)

Still -- trying to draw lessons from the success of a cultural phenomenon like Hunger Games reminds me of the old Steve Martin joke about how to make lots of money. "First, start with a million dollars!"