Friday, December 31, 2010

Wanna Hear A Lot Of Smiths Songs?

Janice Whaley set herself a goal: to record every original song by the Smiths, all in the year 2010, using only her own voice to create every sound, both instrumental and vocal. Using pro-tools and overdubbing herself, she's created something quite unique. I don't even particularly LIKE The Smiths, but these versions are ethereal and compelling. Checks out her site for samples, she's asking for donations to complete the project via

(FWIW, I don't know Janice, I just came across this project and liked the cut of her jib...)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Falling Skies Sneak Peak

A very cool (if I do say so myself) trailer for Falling Skies has been attached to various movies playing at Regal Cinemas, and it's also been posted on line. It's at dozens of sites, so I grabbed the Collider edition below at random... check it out. Whet your whistle. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bits And Pieces, Pre-Xmas

Besides staring into space and contemplating the joy of a world with pretzel M&M's, what's been filling the old brain-pan?

GREAT JACK KIRBY WEBSITE: If you love Jack Kirby, then this is the site for you. Updated far more frequently than THIS blog, these folks bring a dose of Kirby greatness to the webs. And the webs could always use that.

TRUE GRITTYNESS: Thanks to Paramount for the DVD screener, I was able to catch the Coen Brothers version of True Grit last week. It's pretty good. Thanks to Paramount and $20 in my wallet, I also picked up the snazzy new blu-ray edition of the original movie with John Wayne. The new one is really good, but would it be heretical to say the Wayne version was more (*gasp*) fun? Maybe it's all the great character actors... Strother Martin, Robert Duvall (as Ned Pepper), Jeff Corey, and even Dennis Hopper (!). Yes, Wayne's performance is "big", and the first movie has the classic big Hollywood sheen (could they have found any brighter and sunnier days?), but sometimes I like big. Anyway, all is well, they're both good and both are worth seeing.

CROWDED HOUSE: Neil Finn and co. are touring and as they did in 2007, they are releasing straight-from-the-soundboard CDs (or downloadable flacs or Mp3s) from most of their engagements. There are 12-ish available right now and more to come, and the sound quality is, as always, impeccable. Ordering info at:

GIGANTIC WHO: The Who have released yet another version of "Live At Leeds" in a vinyl-album sized box that comes with a zillion extras, but (most interestingly for me) a second live show from the same era. Beside the original show (on CD and also, in the fancy edition, in the original configuration on vinyl), this set also features the concert from the day after, which (according to Amazon's reporting) was preferred by the band but when unreleased because they thought there had been sound problems. Evidently there weren't, because here it is... complete with a performance of "Tommy."

Yessir, it's Xmas everyday 'round these parts... and incidentally, while in the mood, let me just say to my 19 faithful readers, Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Well, This Made Me Laugh

I know we're all waiting for the new CGI Yogi Beat movie... here's a sneak preview to tide you over before the premiere!

(thanx to Heidi!)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

It's Been Awhile... What's New...

New #1: Caught the Roger Waters/"The Wall" show at the Los Angeles Staples center and was suitably wowed. It really is an impressive multi-media experience... however, I was reminded in my geezerish way why I don't see many big-box concerts anymore. Parking was complicated. It was raining and we got soaked for thirty minutes while waiting to clear security. Once inside, a beer and a bourbon cost $26. We had pretty good seats but it doesn't really matter when the idiot next to you insists on loudly (and badly) singing along to every song out of key, and the even bigger idiot in front of you plays air guitar, tries to get everyone around him to play air guitar with him, and screams at the stage like a banshee trying to get a reaction from someone, anyone in the band.

Anyhow, I hope Waters puts out a DVD of the tour so I see what I missed...

New #2: I'm just back from Atlanta and a discussion re: Falling Skies with the great people at TNT. Cuts are coming in and the show is looking really cool. I love it when a plan comes together! Summer 2011!

New #3: More new comics from Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man. Ditko, at 82-ish, continues to produce idiosyncratic independent work, emphasis on the "idiosyncratic." He's also evidently working from some place in the future, since his latest title, "Act 6", is copyright 2011. After going through a stack of his most recent work, I'm curious how his creative process works... if he scripts these stories in advance of drawing, writes them as he goes along, or what. Either way, I continue to be impressed with Ditko's desire to produce his own work in his own way. Ordering info is available from Ditko's publisher Robin Snyder at

New #4: Dragnet Season 3 (1969) is out on DVD. All sentient humans should experience Dragnet at some point in their lives. I watched Dragnet religiously when it was a TV Land staple many years ago, so I have most of these episodes firmly locked in my frail synapse. But a reminder is always appreciated.

But for the real devotees, the best Dragnet product is finally out in an Amazon exclusive, the glorious full color movie from 1953. It really is THAT good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Falling Skies Mini Update

For major updates, you'll have to check the official TNT site, but for mini (non-spoiler) updates, I'm you're guy! Anyhow, shooting is officially finished and the ten episodes of season one are being post-produced "as I write." For those not steeped in production lingo, "post" is an all encompassing term that covers editing, music, FX, dubbing... basically everything that transforms the raw footage from the shoot into glorious episodes of television. I don't think it's a spoiler to note that Falling Skies will have a considerable amount of special FX to create the full "alien invasion" motif...

More news as it develops... and expect something VERY interesting come December...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stuff! Glorious Stuff!

Yes, there is stuff aplenty out there, and your host has too much of it! Here are some of the more interesting goodies that have arrived recently --

THE WEIRD WORLD OF EERIE PUBLICATIONS, Feral Press. Eerie Publications were really mostly a guy named Myron Fass, an "ehh" comics artist from the 50's who turned his talents to publishing. Fass produced hundreds of crazy magazines, ranging from pop-culture (I still have his cheapo Tiger-Beatish Springsteen one shot from the 1970's), soft-core sex, supernatural/UFO and even semi-political magazines. But Fass is best known for his line of unbelievably grisly horror comics that appeared from 1967-ish into the early 1980's. Weird, Tales Of Voodoo, Witches Tales, Tales From The Tomb, etc., etc. About ten years ago I went on an eBay jag and picked up around 220 of the comics, and I always wanted to know more about this bizarre company. Well, author Mike Howlett gives me "more" and then some! At a mind-boggling 300 pages, many in color, this book spills the beans on the Eerie empire, and finally reveals the name of the best (nastiest) cover painter from the comics line: Bill Alexander.

THE PROMISE. For a Springsteen fanatic like yours truly, this is really something. A documentary on the making of Springsteen's "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" album, plus the remastered album itself, two CDs of outtakes, and two, count 'em, two concerts on blu-ray. Hardcore Bruce addicts have heard many of the outtake tracks on the "Promise" album, but not all, and certainly not in this quality. I'm still plowing through the contents, but this is an amazing set...

THE HORROR, THE HORROR. An impressive collection of full color 50's horror comics, the stuff that "inspired" Mr. Fass, with tons of commentary and even a DVD of an old television show decrying the effects of this nasty trash on the youth of America. (I haven't seen the DVD yet, but I assume they do not conclude the effect was positive.) Evidently the book's compiler and I share similar tastes because many of my favorite 50's covers are reproduced here, including the surreal painted covers by Ekgren, and work by Steve Ditko, Basil Wolverton and other greats. It is impressive just how sordid and nasty these stories could get.

DICK BRIEFER'S FRANKENSTEIN. Yet another swanky hardcover compilation, this time of Dick Briefer's cool and strange Frankenstein series from the 40's and 50's. It's an odd series that went from serious horror to the flat-out comedic adventures of the monster, and back again. I always wondered how the monster's nose ended up in the middle of his forehead (maybe Dr. F. lost his glasses)... not sure we learn the answer here, but I've always enjoyed these oddball books.

And there's more, so much more!! To be continued!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Falling Skies - Home Stretch, Season One

Besides what I've learned from the movies, I've also learned that it can get pretty friggin' cold in Toronto in November! While my home town of Los Angeles was enjoying 90 degree weather (!), the stalwart crew of Falling Skies were out all night in the midst of snow flurries and a bitter ol' wind...

But we are entering the last week of shooting, and the weather this week promises to be sunny and sightly warmer, so it's all good. Everyone knows aliens don't like cold weather...

In other news, I believe the first chapter of the ongoing Falling Skies comic series debuts on-line today, at the Dark Horse and TNT websites. These stories catch up with our characters a few months before the series begins and give some clues about where we'll be going with the series itself. Give it a look!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Things I Learned Watching Paranormal Activity 2

BEWARE... scary spoilers below... here are the things I learned from Paranormal Activity 2:

Demons don't much like pool cleaning equipment.

The 15th time you cut to a static shot of a doorway, something is just bound to happen.

When trying to win back the first born male child of a couple who benefited from a deal with the devil, evidently the smart move is to throw the automatic pool cleaner out of the swimming pool every night for two weeks (see above) and repeatedly make a mess in the couple's kitchen.

If that doesn't work, thumping and bumping at odd hours is equally effective at communicating your dark desires.

When people don't interpret this demonic outreach properly, boy can those demons get pissy.

When you come home to find your live-in Hispanic maid trying to rid your home of evil spirits, that's not a good sign.

Evidently it is impossible for a couple to take their toddler with them when they go out to dinner.

If you have security cameras running 24/7, the last thing you want to do is check them after someone claims to have experienced a supernatural event in your home.

If you do check them, make sure you only find the supernatural events that could have a plausible real world explanation. Do not check the tapes that would show babies levitating.

Seriously, what is the deal with demons and swimming pool cleaners?

There is no business deal so important that you should leave your catatonic wife and terrified daughter alone, even if it's just for a "couple of hours."

Oh, wait. You own a string of Burger King franchises. Strike the above, of course you need to take the meeting.

You should always tidy up your basement before a supernatural onslaught. Boxes and spare bicycles are some scary shit in the dark.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tunnels, Seeing End Of... Falling Skies Edition

So, you're asking, what happened to Mark the cheerful, regularly blogging presence on the internet? Well, a lot of exciting hard work is what happened...

And to create what is looking like a really cool result. We start shooting the finale episode of Falling Skies Season One (written by yours truly) in just a couple of days, so the train that is production left the station, careened across many hills and valleys, and now seems to be nearing its destination. I could belabor the train metaphor for a few more paragraphs, but that would require thought and frankly, I've still got work to do. So this is called "checking in" with a promise of fuller reporting once things settle down...

And besides, I like reminding people that Falling Skies is coming soon! Executive Producer Steven Spielberg! Noah Wyle! Moon Bloodgood! Will Patton! TNT! Summer of 2011! With associated comic book material produced by Dark Horse Comics! Keep watching the skies (and the internet)! (Exclamation points not included.)

More (much more) soon --

Thursday, October 14, 2010

John Cleese On Creativity

As I try to create my own little oasis so my tortoise mind can emerge...

This is easily the best description of the mechanics of the creative process I've ever heard...

(Thanks to my pal Randy Stradley for passing it along.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New York Comic Con - This Weekend! Oct. 9!

I've been in radio silence working on Falling Skies, but I'll be poking my head up like a chipmunk this Saturday, Oct. 9 at the NYC ComicCon. We'll be debuting a Falling Skies comic book, and I'll be signing goodies along with our stars Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood. I believe we're scheduled for the afternoon, but "check your local listing." Hope to see (some of you) there!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What I Learned From "The Town" (small spoilers!)

The Town is a very good movie (honest!) directed by and starring Ben Affleck. It is about some folks who rob banks and shoot policemen. Here's what I learned:

Bank robbers lead lives of quiet desperation, broken by moments of insane violence.

I am glad I am not an assistant bank manager. However, if I were an assistant bank manager, I would certainly hope I had comprehensive health insurance.

You can have a soul even if you're a vicious bank robber.

Gals love those six pack abs.

If you were a criminal once but changed your mind and used what you learned as a criminal to arrest vicious murdering AK firing psychopaths, said sociopathic cop killing psychos will not think much of you.

Always wear a bullet proof vest.

Threatening a fellow by telling him extremely grim secrets about his past that you were partly responsible for causing could have negative repercussions. Extra added difficulty ensues if you makes references to removing the fellow's father's "balls."

Ladies, when you find out the nice chap you've been dating is actually a bank robbing sociopath (with several even crazier friends) who was stalking you after taking you hostage in a violent bank robbery, it may be time to reconsider your relationship.

That said, gals definitely like the six pack abs.

Oh. And ALWAYS wear a bulletproof vest.

If a vicious criminal shoots multiple police officers during a robbery and actually gets away with it, then gives you some of the stolen money so you can disperse it to charity, that's okay. Young people deserve a hockey rink built from stolen money.

FBI agents are ruthless, cold-hearted bastards who will actually use someone's work history as an oxycotin drug-dealer against them to stop the sociopathic bank robbers who kill police, open fire with automatic weapons on busy streets and engage in violent car chases that causes multiple accidents.

Did I mention the soul? And the six pack abs?

Be very careful when associating with the fellow who says he won't go back to prison, no matter what. He is liable to make poor choices when confronted by the authorities.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Toronto, New York and L.A.

I've been in Toronto for the last few days writing and rewriting away on "Falling Skies" (coming next Summer! TNT! Executive producer Steven Spielberg! Aliens attack and we fight back!) and managed to come down with the king-Daddy of colds, which certainly helps with the ol' inspiration. ("In this scene, the aliens run out of tissue!") At any rate, we're in "so far so good" mode -- we're starting to see cuts of episodes and preliminary FX and all sorts of cool stuff. The only unfortunate part is knowing these shows won't air until next Summer... that's a long time!

For what it's worth I'll be in NYC for the ComicCon on Oct. 9, so if you're in the neighborhood drop on by. I haven't done a NY show in twenty years and it's about time! I see my old BSG crew-mate Katee Sackhoff will be there, as well as my "My Name Is Bruce" pal Bruce Campbell. Could there be a BSG/Evil Dead crossover movie in their future? We can only hope!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Wrtier's Block...

Mark Evanier has an interesting post up about the writing game, deadlines, writer's block and other extremities of the craft. His piece is at...

He suggests an interesting way to break writer's block, which is to write something totally off the problem topic and hope that breaks the log jam. I'm sure it works for Mark but that really isn't for me. If I'm banging my head against the wall trying to figure something out, last thing I want to do is write something I can't even use. Usually I pull away from the computer and sit down with a yellow pad (it has to be yellow, narrow-ruled and not legal size -- yes, it's weird, sorry!) and start making notes to myself. Somehow the process of handwriting as opposed to typing can occasionally liberate some ideas that were otherwise trapped.

(To continue with the writer-voodoo theme of only using a specific type of yellow pad, for a long time I preferred to copy-edit a paper draft with an orange flair pen. Not red, orange. These days I don't do nearly as much with paper, but I still have some orange flairs on stand by just in case...)

However, getting back on topic, I've only had a couple real moments of writer's block. And both were quite some time ago. In both instances, I was on a loose deadline, they were feature scripts, and I was trying to execute notes given on a previous draft. Taking and doing notes is a skill unto itself, and when the notes contradict your understanding of the story, or seem to be making something worse, it can be excruciating.

But nobody ever said it would be easy. Mark continues to explain that he has little patience for writers who complain about how painful the process can be. Aside from the fact that bitching and moaning about your job is as American as (pick iconic item of choice), I've only met a few professional writers in my day who just can't wait to get to work. If you're one of them, I salute you! If you're not, join me at the bar later tonight and we can discuss another round of goofy notes...

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Name Is Bruce Alert!

My Name is Bruce starring Bruce Campbell, that is. The fine folks at the SyFy Channel are running the movie again, in the choice prime-time spot of, *ahem*, 3:00AM on 09/01. It's on both the high-def and regular feeds, so here's your chance to see every one of Mr. Campbell's well-delineated pores...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stuff I Liked And You Might Like Too...

This qualifies as a "preview", but Springsteen's upcoming re-release of Darkness On The Edge of Town sounds amazing. Most intriguing, it comes with a two CD set of outtakes/live tracks from the era... and here I figured most of those had landed on the Tracks set! A making-of documentary, new/old outtakes, remastered sound... what's not to like?

I have yet to read the book but I was totally enthralled by film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It is an oddly old-fashioned thriller with an amazing central character and some really dark subject matter. Soon to be remade, which is fine with me, but I can't wait to see the next two Swedish adaptations.

From the sublime to the... less sublime, MGM is finally releasing the Highway Patrol series on DVD. These gritty little half hour cheapies are compelling mostly because of Broderick Crawford. Actually, they're compelling ONLY because of Broderick Crawford. I remember watching reruns of this stuff when I was a kid in Portland and being fascinated by the cop lingo ("10-4!"). These are exceptionally nice transfers, too.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kirby At 93

Today (8/28/2010) would have been Jack Kirby's 93rd birthday and there are several tributes on the internet commemorating the date, including at Mark Evanier's site and at The Comics Reporter (which features a bunch of scans spanning Kirby's amazing career). It's hard to overestimate how much Kirby's work meant to me and so many others, and how it continues to inspire. I was lucky enough to meet the man at a birthday gathering held for him at the San Diego Comic Con, where I was luckier still to have the chance to tell him how much I had enjoyed his work.

I'm up to my eyeballs in work, but I took some time off to look over some old Kirby favorites. Today I went back to his Captain America stories in the Tales Of Suspense title, then the solo Captain America book that started in 1968. I love Kirby's FF and Thor work, but I dunno, I think these Cap stories offer some of his most dynamic and powerful storytelling. And all this material is also easily obtainable these days in a variety of reprint forms, from the black and white Essentials collections to the pricier Archives hardbacks. I like comics, but I loves me the Kirby...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Common People

One of the best songs of the last, oh, ten years, gets animated...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lessons Learned From The Expendables

Lessons to be gleaned after seeing Stallone's latest, "The Expendables):

1) If you're dating the on and off girlfriend of a highly trained mercenary, be nice to her.

2) That said, if you're not nice, pointlessly antagonizing the ex-boyfriend is wildly counter productive.

3) Along those lines, pointlessly antagonizing the tin-pot General/dictator of an imaginary Latin American island you're trying to do business with is equally counter productive.

4) Water boarding and torturing the general's daughter against the General's express wishes is no way to mend fences.

5) Be careful about giving rousing speeches decrying your heavily armed business partner when he's standing right behind you with a big gun.

6) Painting your face black with a yellow diagonal stripe doesn't make you a better soldier, or invulnerable to many many bullets.

7) There is no reason to explain yourself to the mercenary soldier trying to kill you. You do so at your peril.

8) When in doubt, deploy the shotgun that fires 250 rounds a minute.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I seem to have fallen into a pattern of checking in every two weeks or so... but it's been pretty busy so I have an excuse, at least for now. Falling Skies started shooting a couple weeks ago and so the production train has left the station, with all that entails... scripts need to be written and rewritten, casting, designs... basically, the zillion large and small things involved in making tee-vee. The intensity is rewarded when we look at some fabulous dailies... we're all very happy with how this adventure is turning out. Now it's about turning out "more"...

In other news -- hey, Timecop's coming out on Blu-Ray! It will join the pantheon of MV feature efforts that have been given the high def treatment, including The Mask and My Name Is Bruce. Actually, Timecop was an early HD-DVD release, but that format went adios in a hurry, so here's one that people can actually watch. I am still a little disturbed to realize the future world we envisioned for that movie (2004) is now... six years ago. I'm just glad we didn't have our characters wearing lucite hats and conical brassieres... oh wait, that actually happened.

Also hey, Heroes season four is out on blu-ray too! I co-wrote two episodes and look forward to re-watching sans commercials. The set is jam-packed with extras so Heroes fans should definitely check it out.

Finally, I'm told another show I was involved with "awhile back" is going to be updated/re-issued in blu-ray soon... updates as they become available!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Greetings From More Toronto

After a brief sojourn to San Diego to discuss our new show Falling Skies, I'm back in lovely Toronto as shooting continues at a lightning pace. Last night involved multiple pyrotechnics and a cast of many, with director Greg Beeman ably choreographing the mayhem. But when stuff isn't getting blowed-up real good, we're doing some wonderful character work, courtesy of our great cast. In other words, so far so good!

I did want to clear up one misconception that arose from a comment I made during our San Diego panel. As much as I love Bruce Springsteen, my reference to him as a survivor of our alien attack was what we in the entertainment business call "a joke." There are no Bruce cameos planned, sadly, though I still contend he'd kick alien ass in the event of a real invasion...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Greetings From Toronto...

...where were are prepping the first post-pilot episode of Falling Skies, and from where I am looking forward to flying back later this week for the grand unveiling Friday afternoon at ComicCon. Besides Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood and yours truly, we will be showing a very cool teaser trailer -- meaning the Con audience will be the first civilians see to anything (aside from stills) from the show itself. There will also be an autograph session pre-presentation, details on time and location still to come.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Official Falling Skies Program Info!

Right off the San Diego ComicCon website! Be there!

4:45-5:45 Falling Skies— They're coming. Get the very first look at Steven Spielberg's new series that envisions a world where aliens have invaded and the fate of humanity lies in the hands of a few survivors. Noah Wyle (ER, TNT's The Librarian movies) and Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) join co-executive producer and writer Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) for a Q&A on the new series. Falling Skies premieres on TNT next summer. Room 6A

Machete Machete Machete!

So Robert Rodriguez made a phony trailer for an imaginary 70's movie called Machete for the not-imaginary movie Grindhouse. The trailer was so popular that Rodriguez has now made the entire movie, starring Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal and Robert DeNiro (!).

And now, in perhaps the ultimate form of tribute, someone's redone the original Machete trailer in Lego. I suspect the McDonalds drinking cup promotion ("want that Machete-sized?") is only weeks away...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Falling Skies Fall On San Diego!

If you want to sneak peek at our cool series, make sure to hit Room 6A at 4:45PM on Friday July 23!

TNT to Invade Comic-Con with FALLING SKIES, Eagerly Anticipated Series from DreamWorks Television And Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, Starring Noah Wyle

The resistance is coming to Comic-Con. TNT is going to give fans the very first look at the eagerly anticipated new series FALLING SKIES, from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg, starring Noah Wyle. The gripping drama series, slated to premiere in summer 2011, envisions a world where aliens have invaded, and the fate of humanity lies in the hands of a few survivors. Series stars Wyle (ER, TNT's The Librarian movies) and Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) will join co-executive producer and writer Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) at Comic-Con for a Q&A panel session scheduled to take place Friday, July 23, from 4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. (PT) in Room 6A. They will also be available for an autograph signing, time and location to be announced.

In FALLING SKIES, Wyle stars as a former college professor who becomes the leader of a group of soldiers and civilians struggling against an occupying alien force. Bloodgood co-stars as Anne Glass, a therapist who works with the surviving children to help them cope with the traumatic situation. The series also stars Drew Roy (Lincoln Heights) as Hal and Maxim Knight (Brothers & Sisters) as Matt, Tom's two sons; and Seychelle Gabriel (Weeds) as Lourdes, an orphaned teenager who helps run the group's commissary. Will Patton (Armageddon, TNT's Into the West) plays a fierce leader of the resistance.

FALLING SKIES is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Verheiden and Greg Beeman (Heroes, Smallville) are co-executive producers. The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time).

TNT, one of cable's top-rated networks, is television's destination for drama. Seen in 99.6 million households, the network is home to such original series as The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick; Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; and Dark Blue, starring Dylan McDermott; the upcoming Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander; Memphis Beat, with Jason Lee; Men of a Certain Age, with Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula; and Southland, from Emmy-winning producer John Wells (ER). TNT also presents such powerful dramas as Bones, Supernatural, Las Vegas, Law & Order, CSI: NY, Cold Case and Numb3rs; broadcast premiere movies; compelling primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards; and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. The NCAA men's basketball tournament will appear on TNT beginning in 2011. TNT is available in high-definition.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Name Is Bruce - Still Gettin' The Love

I haven't linked to any new reviews in awhile, but came across this TV Guide comment and decided it was time to share.

MONEY QUOTE: Few movies possess enough sheer goofball power to make Army of Darkness look like a chamber drama, and though Bruce Campbell's ultra-meta sophomore directorial effort, My Name Is Bruce, may not go quite that far over the top in delivering the kind of slapstick mayhem that's made Campbell one of cult fandom's hottest commodities, it comes damn close. Fast-paced, ridiculously self-deprecating, and fueled by a manic energy that's so outlandish it washes over the viewer with the giddiness of a B-movie fever dream, it's an enormous step up from Campbell's disappointing directorial debut, The Man with the Screaming Brain. Likewise, it's sure to satisfy Evil Dead fans due to the fact that it's essentially a scaled-down, contemporary working of the Army of Darkness model (cocky jackass defends the frightened locals from an invading supernatural force) and that the alternate-universe-Campbell presented here is, for all intents and purposes, an Ash-ified version of his own bad self.

See, idiot me, I thought Army Of Darkness WAS a chamber drama! For all the rest, go to:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Battlestar Galactica: The Museum Has A Plan

So this is pretty cool. BSG the traveling exhibition hits Seattle later this year. I was lucky enough to work around the incredible space-ship mock-ups and sets so I can attest, they really are as cool in person as they appeared on TV. Cooler, actually.

Hat-tip to Galactica Sitrep for the heads up, here's the info straight from the museum site:

Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition World Premiere Weekend: Oct. 22-24, 2010 at Seattle’s EMP|SFM
New traveling exhibition to feature three full-size spaceships, costumes and props from the original and reimagined series

SEATTLE—Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum (EMP|SFM) is proud to announce its latest exhibition, Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition. Organized by EMP|SFM and in partnership with Universal Cable Productions and Syfy, Battlestar Galactica features three stunning, full-size prop spaceships, iconic costumes, new exhibition films, music and other props from the original and reimagined series. Battlestar Galactica opens to the public Oct. 23, 2010 and runs through March 4, 2012 at EMP|SFM in Seattle.

“The museum is honored to be organizing the first exhibition devoted to both series,” said Brooks Peck, Curator of Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition. “Battlestar Galactica is one of those rare science fiction shows that appeals to a wide range of people because it combines high adventure with very personal drama. It explores what it means to be human, and has a lot of fun doing so.”

Opening weekend (Oct. 22-24, 2010) will include museum member and public events with some of Battlestar Galactica’s most popularpersonalities.

"Over its four season run on Syfy, Battlestar Galactica became an iconic series that not only entertained, but fulfilled the promise of all great science fiction. It provoked us into examining our world and ourselves through its politically-charged, socially-relevant, religious and technological themes," said Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Programming, Syfy, and Co-head, Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. "It is an honor for us to partner with EMP|SFM in this one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience BSG in an up-close and personal way."

The exhibition will be presented in the Milestones Gallery on EMP’s third level. Battlestar Galactica will become a traveling exhibition in 2012 after its premiere at EMP|SFM.

About Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition:

Battlestar Galactica is an epic drama of interstellar proportions. The last vestiges of humanity flee a cybernetic Cylon horde, traversing the stars in search of the fabled promised land of Earth. The setting of Battlestar Galactica may be rife with spaceships and inhuman adversaries, but ultimately the show is a complex narrative about how we attempt to retain our humanity under desperate circumstances. The series acts as a science-fictional lens through which to examine difficult questions that we may encounter in our own lives.

Exhibition sections:

Creation of Battlestar Galactica
Explores the genesis of the two versions of the show (1978 and 2003) and introduces the story and central conflicts.

The Search
Focuses on one of the central elements of the shows, the human quest to find the lost colony of Earth. The Search is also a spiritual one, as the humans seek meaning in a dangerous galaxy and grapple with issues of religion, fate and freedom.

The Ships
Three life-size spacecraft from the later series—two human and one Cylon— are the exhibition show stoppers. Concept art, storyboards, props and films complement the ships.

Humans and Cylons
This section presents the major characters from the shows including: Commander Adama, Starbuck, Boomer, Number Six and the Imperious Leader. Costumes are featured, along with props and concept art.

Exhibition specifics:

* Three full-size (30-feet long) prop spaceships:
o Viper Mark 2
o Viper Mark 7
o Cylon Raider
* Series props featuring:
o 15 costumes
o Dozens of props, concept sketches and storyboards
* Exhibition films
* Interactives:
o Music interactives
o Human/Cylon identity interactive

Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition
Oct. 23, 2010-March 4, 2012

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

STOP THE PRESSES - Dragnet Edition

I know, you were probably expecting some hint about the Falling Skies TV series, or just wondering which press I'm trying to stop -- but this news is too big to wait. Are you sitting down?

Dragnet 1969 (Season 2) is finally coming out on official DVD! Even better, to my shock and delight, the full color 1954 Dragnet movie has been released in an Amazon-only edition! If you have enjoying Jack Webb's performing and directorial efforts already, you don't need a sales pitch. If you're new to this world, I suggest checking out the Dragnet movie. Hyper-stylized cop action with some of the wildest tough-guy dialogue ever written. Check out these examples lifted from the site:

[Hamilton and Friday read the Dead Body, or DB, Report on Miller Starkey]
Captain James E. Hamilton, Intelligence: Shotgun, extreme close range, double-O. Starkey was hit four times, first two cut him in half.
Sgt. Joe Friday: The second two turned him into a crowd.

[an eyewitness is afraid to testify]
Jesse Quinn: Mr. Friday, I'd like to ask you a question. If you was me, would you do it?
Sgt. Joe Friday: Can I wait awhile?
Jesse Quinn: Huh?
Sgt. Joe Friday: Before I'm you.

Sgt. Joe Friday: [as Troy's friend starts to stand up] Unless you're growin', Sit down!

It doesn't get any better than that! And I haven't even started to touch on the amazing fight scenes!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crush On You!

Sometimes writers, when discussing their work, are challenged about a piece that may not have landed quite as they had hoped. More specifically, "hey, how come that TV show/movie/comic book sucked?" Often the misses are chalked up to "reasons beyond our control" or simply "oops", but if there's one thing I've discovered over the years, it is that critical opinion is not monolithic. So while most vocal critical people may hate-hate-HATE something, there's almost always someone who actually liked it. Strike that, there will be folks who just loved it.

If a so-called creative person plugs along long enough, they'll probably wind up with a few ugly step-children, the projects that clearly didn't come together as planned but still have a place in your heart.

Why, even Mr. Bruce Springsteen has a few. I would imagine if he really hated a song from his catalog, he just wouldn't play it. But on his most recent tour he started to play his E-Street albums from top to bottom, and when he did "The River" it was clear that the song "Crush On You" was not one of his favorites. He sarcastically called the song a "hidden masterpiece" from the River, and then proceeded to rip off a killer performance.

Here's the thing. I'm one of the goofball fans who always loved that song. When I saw Springsteen in Portland Or. on the actual River tour in the early 80's, the performance of "Crush On You" was a highpoint. So how do I process it when the man himself disses it as one of his least favorite songs? Why, I write a blog post, of course.

But here, you can make up your own mind. First, of course, every sentient human on Earth should have a copy of the River CD. So, start there. Then, thanks to Google and the amazing YouTube, you can judge an assortment of "Crush On You" performances for yourself!

Here are the lyrics --

My feets were flyin' down the street just the other night
When a Hong Kong special pulled up at the light
What was inside, man, was just c'est magnifique
I wanted to hold the bumper and let her drag me down the street.

Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you tonight

Sometimes I spot a little stranger standing 'cross the room
My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room
For one kiss, darling I swear everything I would give
Cause you're a walking, talking reason to live

Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you tonight

Well now she might be the talk of high society
She's probably got a lousy personality
She might be a heiress to Rockefeller
She might be a waitress or a bank teller
She makes the Venus de Milo look like she's got no style
She makes Sheena of the Jungle look meek and mild
I need a quick shot, Doc, knock me off my feet
Cause I'll be minding my own business walking down the street... watchout !

Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh I gotta crush on you tonight

This site will sell you a "Crush On You" ringtone!

Here's Bruce doing Crush, live from November, 1980 --

And here's an outtake from the River sessions (!)...

Friday, June 04, 2010

An Idiotic Thing To Be Annoyed About

So I got a new computer with Windows 7, and with it a new version of computer solitaire. The big difference? This edition has a pop-up that appears when you've exhausted your possibilities, telling you in no uncertain terms that you're toast. In the past you could keep fiddling around with different permutations in frustration until you reached the "end game" on your own, but now? The computer tells you you're a dummy. I will now adopt my little kid voice: "I don't like it!"

Of course the more germane question is, why the hell am I wasting time playing solitaire? That will be answered in another blog installment called "work avoidance is your friend."

Monday, May 31, 2010

What's New...

I've been busy working on "Fallen Skies" and cleaning up files on a new computer system so my blogging regimen has taken a bit of a hit. But all seems to be more or less in order at this point, so there you go...

Incidentally, I thought computers were supposed to be getting smaller, but my new Dell number cruncher has a desktop metal box that reminds me of Colossus The Forbin Project. (Ancient computer reference copyright 2010 by MV, but it's still a good movie!). However, the new machine sure is fast.

A bunch of Blu-Rays have stacked up over the last few weeks. A few notables:

THE ROAD. Feel good movie of the year. I admired the acting and the production design and the serious intent of this movie, but the unrelenting (and rather anecdotal) episodes of grim and gritty finally wore me down. And as much as I enjoy ambiguity, maybe someone someday could explain to me WHY the two travelers had to keep braving danger to reach the coast?

44 INCH CHEST. This probably says more about me than the movie, but after thirty minutes watching a gangster weep and cry over losing his wife to another guy, I gave up on this. I'm sure exciting stuff happens later and I'll probably get back to it, but I just wasn't in the mood...

DAYS OF HEAVEN. One of the most beautiful movies ever made and absolutely gorgeous in blu-ray. This, Kubrick's Barry Lyndon and Ridley Scott's The Duellists are high points of 70's cinematography, an achievement even more impressive considering there was no CGI to augment the images.

BAD LIEUTENANT PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS: I'll watch anything directed by Werner Herzog, and this is no exception. Having enduring some bad back issues myself the last few weeks, Nick Cage absolutely nails the look of chronic sciatica. And I have to admit that I love fever-dream movies that cut away to things like iguanas for no real reason except it's cool.

ComicCon 2010

Can't believe we're coming up on yet another ComicCon. After grumpily considering skipping this year's show, I signed up anyway... and now because of work, I may not make it anyway.

That said, any convention that can generate 135 (!) tips for survival is clearly becoming something more than a casual weekend jaunt. Check out for the list. And yes, comfy shoes and a game plan do make sense given the congestion at the show...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Untitled Alien Invasion for TNT!

I guess I can let the cat out of the bag since I'm hard at work, but for what it's worth I've just started my next TV gig, co-executive producer of "Untitled Alien Invasion" for the TNT network. For executive producers Steven Spielberg and Graham Yost, with the pilot written by Robert Rodat. It's a very cool show and I suspect if I say anything more than that I'll be in trouble, so I won't! Suffice to say the "Untitleds" cause lots of trouble...

More details as I'm further along...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Less Minimal...

Boy, kick back for a minute and suddenly it's been almost a month between posts. Lots of "stuff" going on but nothing I can discuss quite yet, but there's one project in particular pending that... well, if it happens I'll be sure to mention it here! I've learned never to jinx projects by assuming the deal's done before it's really, really done. So I won't!

Otherwise, the feature projects are more or less in and going through the "process." The process varies depending on the situation, but "Ark" is out to directors and my other, as yet unannounced project HAS a very cool director. I'll be back as THAT develops.

Meanwhile, with Heroes under my belt and the features under control for a moment, I'm actually lolling back for the first time in a few years. Look, blue sky! Flowers! Amazing!!

I'll be reporting on some of the cool stuff I've amassed/heard/seen recently (Tombstone on blu-ray! The Flaming Lips covering Dark Side Of The Moon! Justified the TV series!) as I get back into the blogging groove...

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Blogging has been minimal the last few weeks because I've been focused on finishing an as-yet unannounced feature project that's very cool and, as with all writing projects, remarkably time-consuming. When I get into hunker-down mode, it's all encompassing. Everybody works differently, but look in the dictionary under "plodder" and there I am... I have to start on page one and just go from there. I've heard of other writers who can ping-pong around a story (and very occasionally, especially on some insane TV deadline, I've done it myself), but for me it's about the A to B to C of it.

One thing I've been struggling with is, well, "logic." As in, real world physics and science and body mechanics versus... not so real world. I loved the Iron Man movie, but I know if I were working on a similar project, I'd be pounding my head trying to justify the "science" of that world. I mean, there is absolutely no reason that Iron Man should be able to fly. The suit is an aerodynamic joke. I'd probably be trying to find some insanely implausible explanation for it, and yet when I saw the movie, I completely accepted that a guy in a cave could monkey-wrench something like that together.

So I spend part of my writing day just trying to get over it. And why not? For cryin' out loud, I spent three years working on Battlestar Galactica, and nobody ever explained the gravity machine that kept everybody glued to the floor in weightless outer space!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Movie Fun!

Here's a few of the interesting movies I've "enjoyed" the last few weeks (enjoyed in quotes because I'm not sure the word applies to a couple of these epics)...

Like, for instance, The Horseman, an Australian revenge movie that's been getting some attention for its unrelenting tone. Well, there is that! Basically an updated (and infinitely cheaper) version of the George C. Scott movie Hardcore, Horseman follows the single-minded quest of a bereaved father who wants to know how his daughter wound up in a porno movie and then O.D.'ed on heroin. A pest exterminator by day, "Dad" gets pretty wound up when he finds the folks responsible and employs the tools of his trade to cadge out information. Suffice to say this involves fish-hooks, bicycle pumps, propane torches, hammers and other tools applied to some rather delicate areas of the anatomy. It's actually fairly well done, but I'm not sure if that's a compliment or a reason to avoid...

On a completely different note, Criterion's just released a blu-ray of Bigger Than Life, a Nicholas Ray "slice of life" film from 1956 starring James Mason. Mason plays a school teacher who comes down with a not-particularly specific but fatal disease. Fortunately, Doctors have discovered a possible miracle drug ("Cortisone!"). Unfortunately, the Cortisone drives Mason insane... but it's that very peculiar, 1950's version of insane, where the victim doesn't curl up in a ball or eat dirt, but instead remains remarkably cogent and erudite while getting mean and unpredictable. In this case, Mason becomes a harsh taskmaster to his incredibly patient wife and young son. It sounds like I'm making fun of the movie, but it's actually quite compelling and the glorious full color picture is amazing. And having had Cortisone shots myself, I guess I finally have an excuse for my erratic behaviors.

Also recently out on blu-ray is David Lynch's Elephant Man, which hasn't lost any of its power. I like Lynch's later movies, but this early effort is probably his most "traditional" and genuinely emotional. There are some achingly poignant scenes, and one of the best tracking shots ever, pushing in on star Anthony Hopkins the first time he sees the deformed Elephant Man. Just when the camera hits the close-up, a single tear comes down Hopkins' cheek. I imagine this has stuck with me because I attended a lecture by Lynch just after Elephant Man's release where he was asked about this very shot. How did they do it, time the push-in and the tear so well? Lynch's answer? Luck. They just got it. The blu-ray also comes with an informative documentary about the real Elephant Man (there were quite a few dramatic liberties taken for the film), but the pristine black and white presentation is more than enough reason to spring for this edition.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alien V.S. Pooh

The heading more or less says it all... poor Winnie The Pooh...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dick Giordano R.I.P.

I was very sad to learn today that Dick Giordano, a fabulous artist and a major editorial influence at DC Comics, passed away today. I met with Dick several times when I was first getting started in comics, and he was always supportive, friendly and just a good guy to deal with. The older I get, the more I value that in people. It's a rare commodity...

I still remember sitting in my editor's office at DC looking over some frankly awful pencils for a story I'd written. Dick happened to pop in, looked at the pages with the same dismay, and told the editor to spend a few bucks and do whatever he could to get the pages into shape. I actually have a few of those redrawn originals. You would never mistake them for great, but they did come up a lot. And I can imagine a lot of folks who would have sent them to press "as is."

We lost one of the good guys today...

Friday, March 26, 2010


A dramatic heading for a much less dramatic post. But my pal Pat DiNizio, lead singer for the band The Smithereens, has just released "Confessions Of a Rock Star", a spoken-word examination of his life and work. It comes in an interesting format, as an autographed flash-drive/wristband. And besides the biographical gab, the drive also features 30 or so Smithereens demos AND Pat's live performance at the Coach House from a couple months ago. The live show, especially, is a lot of fun, with covers and Smithereens tracks and other goodies. Check out Pat's site at for a list of upcoming Smithereens and solo concerts!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Comics Aren't For Kids!

Anyone interested in a somewhat scary era for comics might be interested in Steve Bissette's recounting of the great "mature audience label" controversy from 1986-ish. Basically, comics like Watchmen, Dark Knight and Miracleman were tickling the edges of the "comics are for kids!" boundary, and when the tumult made the mainstream media ("Comics Are Dirty!!"), a few retailers and comic companies pushed for labels. Which could have made certain books off-limits to some major retailers, essentially removing them from the marketplace.

Real people like my pal Marv Wolfman lost their jobs when they protested corporate decision-making, and retailers were hurt and/or lost their businesses when police busted their stores for selling what would now be PG material to minors. So it was not an insignificant moment. The series is running in chapter-chunks on Steve's blog at:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Action GOP.Com!

I'm not exactly the best target for GOP e-mails, but I get them nevertheless. This one came today, and it just struck a chord.

Dear Fellow Patriot;

Nancy Pelosi is hell-bent on passing a government takeover of your health care, with or without a direct vote on the Senate Democrats’ bill. Nearly four years ago she condemned the sort of sleazy tactic she is now committed to using as "unconstitutional." Now she has deemed sleazy tactics necessary to furthering her Leftist agenda. There is nothing she won't do to pass this bill.

The interesting thing about this is that yes, Pelosi probably WAS calling this "deem and pass" reconciliation procedure a sleazy unconstitutional tactic four years ago. Back when, you know, the Republicans were using it over and over. So now the Republicans are condemning the self-described sleazy, unconstitutional tactic that they themselves used repeatedly. It's like the Republicans accusing Pelosi of getting ready to kick a dog. It's an awful thing to do to a poor animal, and they should know, because they kicked the shit out of that mutt four years ago!

So who's sleazier? Interesting question! I think I'll mull it while watching one of my bourbon shows...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bourbon Shows

I've watched plenty of television, but only a few programs have reached the pinnacle of being a "bourbon show." It's my version of "can't miss TV" or "glued to the chair." But in my very peculiar case, I'm talking about shows that go down better, no, shows that demand to be watched with a glass of bourbon.

Most of the time, these shows actually involve bourbon. DEADWOOD, for instance, was a total bourbon show. Characters would belly up to bars and throw back whiskey in every other scene. THE SOPRANOS was another, a total bourbon show. How could you watch Tony and his pals pouring shots at the Ba Da Bing without hoisting a glass of your own? And of course, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was a classic bourbon show. Although the episodes where Adama drank until he puked may have pushed things just a bit...

Well, I have a new bourbon show. It's JUSTIFIED on FX, and I dare you, I double dare you to sit through an episode without pouring yourself a stiff one. And that's just after seeing the pilot! But I can almost guarantee multiple scenes in bars with tall pours and ice cracking and all that great bourbon show stuff. Incidentally, and again based just on the pilot, it's a great show, bourbon aside. But bourbon makes it better!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Um, About That San Diego Con Thing...

A few weeks ago I posted a comment about attending a small local comic/media convention in Long Beach. The ease of going to that casual, friendly convention got me thinking about maybe skipping this Summer's big San Diego event for the first time in, ohh, 27 years. My friend Heidi MacDonald linked to the post and it got more attention than it deserved, but astute readers will note that I did give myself an out in case I changed my mind.

One of the biggest hassles at the last two or three San Diego shows has been in securing a convenient room at a not-insane price. The closest hotels (the Marriott adjacent to the convention center, the Hiatt next to that, and the Hilton across the street) have inevitably booked up a year in advance, at high prices. Well, something's changed. I don't know if it's the economy or the hotels opening up a lot more rooms, but I was able to get a room I wanted in my fave hotel for half what I paid last year. This was booking on my own, not off the convention's hotel site (which I believe opens up on Thursday).

It's amazing how not feeling ripped-off before you walk out the door mellows one's attitude toward the convention adventure...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Speaking Of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery Vol. 2...

"Boris" was the only book I wound up getting in the great Amazon pricing debacle. (See posting below for the early details). Now there's consternation in the comic book world between those who believed taking advantage of the price glitch was criminal and nobody should be crying over not getting their books, versus some (on the FAR other side) who want to launch a class action suit because Amazon canceled many orders on the under-priced volumes.

I only have two points. One, re: the low price, Amazon occasionally does one day sales where they drop prices dramatically, so I'm not sure it's a given that everyone should automatically assume the low low prices were a mistake. I see $100 art books remaindered for $8.00 at Barnes and Noble all the time...

And two, I'll live sans an Incredible Hulk Omnibus. People/companies make mistakes, and that's life.

Hey Kids, Comics (Collections) - Dark Horse Edition

There are an incredible number of hardcover comic book reprint volumes coming out. There are just two...

Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery Vol. 2 collects issues #5 through #10 of the Gold Key series. I'm thrilled to see so much silver and golden age material being reprinted, but looking through this book, I'm reminded why Boris Karloff never landed high on my "collecting" list. As chillers go, these stories are about as frightening as the cheese aisle at Ralph's supermarket, and most of the art is competent, middle-of-the-road and bland. There's art by Alex Toth and "the Wally Wood studio" in this book, and while nice, even those feel like they went through the blander-izer before seeing print.

And the stories. Jeepers, it's like they weren't even trying! In one short piece, a shambling guy wearing a bear skin (!) shuffles into a village and freaks everybody out. The villagers get mad and "bear skin" skulks off, to be found by a little boy who discovers it's not a man under the bear-skin, it's a weird fish-guy! Fish guy jumps in a lake and "it's not until Spring thaw" that the villagers find a crashed spaceship on the mountainside. He was an alien! Wow! And all that in four pages!

On the the other hand, Dark Horse's Conan Vol. 1 reprints the first 11 issues of Roy Thomas/Barry Smith's Marvel version of Conan the Barbarian, and these are pretty great. It took Thomas and Smith a couple issues to find their sea legs, but they hit their stride fast and these are really good comics. Even better, they are exceptionally well written. Maybe it took being freed from the superhero world, but I think these are among Roy Thomas' best stories, and he wrote quite a few good ones. And the best is yet to come, in Volume 2, where this comic makes a quantum leap in quality with some true classics.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Things I Learned From The Internet - Special "You Think YOU'RE Messed Up?" edition...

A producer from the news show 48 Hours is expected to plead guilty of trying to extort money from David Letterman.,david-letterman-affairs-blackmail-guilty-030910.article

A California Republican Congressman noted for his anti-gay voting record was caught driving drunk. Leaving a gay bar. He confessed on a radio show that he is, indeed, gay, but justified his anti-gay votes by saying he was "representing his constituents."

But the winner of my "worst week" -- Democratic Congressman Eric Massa decided to resign last week, citing health issues. Then he said it was to avoid an ethics investigation over inappropriate comments he made toward male staffers. Then he said he was forced out because he didn't vote for the health care bill, and that Rahm Emanuel confronted him over his vote naked. In the shower (!). Today, the Washington Post reports that Massa was being investigated for "groping" his male staffers. And tonight he's going on Glenn Beck.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Things I've Learned On The Internet Recently...

I really like a Japanese jazz pianist named Hiromi.

Sarah Palin used to sneak over the border into Canada to get health care. (*@#-dead!)

The Oscar ceremony was last night, but they made the mistake of going up against an NCIS marathon.

A Congressman named Eric Massa is resigning because of some ethics issues, but perhaps more interestingly, he appears to be a Battlestar fan! Or at least he thinks "frack" is a real word.

Amazon may have made a mistake and listed a whole bunch of Marvel's "Omnibus" hardcovers at $9.00 over the weekend. The postage for shipping these insanely heavy books (some run 800 pages) has got to be more than $9.00. I ordered the Fantastic Four Omnibus #2, Iron Man #1, Hulk #1 and X-Men #1. That's something like 3200 pages of full color comics for $36.00. (Tip of the MV hat to Mark Evanier, url at the right, for the alert.)

I didn't learn this on the internet, but I discovered that if you drop your i-pod down a flight of concrete stairs, it will break.

One of my favorite bands, The Del-Lords, have just released their first new music since the early 90's. "Under Construction" offers up five demos of tunes to appear on their next CD. You can hear these for free on their website ( or buy a physical CD at

And finally, there's gonna be a Caprica summit in NYC on 3/17. Details below (thanks to Galactica Sitrep, url at the right, for the info).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
6:30 pm ET, New York

Appearing In Person:

Ronald D. Moore, Co-Creator and Executive Producer
David Eick, Executive Producer
Paula Malcomson, "Amanda Graystone"
Alessandra Torresani, "Zoe Graystone"
Magda Apanowicz, "Lacy Rand"
Sasha Roiz, "Sam Adama"

Syfy’s new Battlestar Galactica prequel—more futuristic family saga than space opera—is a provocative, superbly crafted drama that, like its predecessor, tackles complex, highly resonant themes, such as religion, race, terrorism, technology, love, and the very nature of humanity. Like all quality drama, Caprica is not just emotionally and intellectually gripping, but also compels viewers to confront their own reality, even as they are swept up in this visually arresting, preapocalyptic world of sentient robots, avatars, and interplanetary travel.

The Paley Center will preview an upcoming episode from Caprica’s first season, followed by a discussion with members of the cast and creative team.

Paley Center Members: $15, tickets on sale now.
General Public: $25, tickets on sale Wednesday, February 24 at noon.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Aliens - Czech Mate!

I think I got a good review from a Czech news site. This is the translation:

Comics fans, however, much more zatleskají invaders who take them back again to 450 color pages. Epic cartoon series, built by Mark Verheiden on the foundations of the famous horror film, this time offering forage juice alien queen in three epic stories - Genocide, Harvest and Colonial infantry.

Of course I didn't write Genocide, Harvest or "Colonial Infantry", but I built them!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exceptional Scores...

I was asked awhile back what I thought was the best piece of musical score I'd ever heard on anything I'd had done. The answer was immediate and easy. The absolute best score to anything I've ever done (caveated with a "yet", because I hope I work with him again someday!) was Bear McCreary's amazing work on the season finale of Battlestar Galactica season three. No, not "All Along The Watchtower" (which was amazing nevertheless), but the piece just before it. On the CD, Bear calls this track "Getting The Call", and if you remember the episode, it's when Tigh, the Chief, Tory and Sam are all gathering to confess that they've just realized they're all Cylons. I still get a chill when I hear the propulsive, chugging, building theme that brings them into the room. The score is absolutely perfect...

Well, Bear's just put out his score for "The Plan" and "Razor", so you should order those and all the rest of his (brilliant) work, but I'd just like to doff my rhetorical chapeau once more re: his season three piece. It's as good as this sort of thing gets...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Guilty

No, not a Beatles post. I've been serving on a jury (off and on) for the last three weeks (!), and "not guilty" was the final verdict. I've been summoned for jury duty multiple times, but this was the first time I was actually called into the courthouse and then picked for service. As a fan of the Law & Order shows, I've always been curious to experience the process "for real," so unlike several of my other jurors, I didn't try to get tossed off the panel by expressing especially vehement anti-anything views. But I did get some good pointers. Saying you believe the police never make mistakes and if someone's arrested they are assuredly guilty will definitely get you kicked off the panel.

The first thing that struck me, as jurors were asked basic questions like "have you ever been the victim of a crime", was how many people in Los Angeles have been the victims of SERIOUS crimes. One after another, "my Mom was murdered," "my brother was kidnapped," "I was raped"... it was an awful litany of remarkable terrible things. On a slightly less dramatic note, I was also surprised at how many folks on the jury had been arrested for DUI.

Then the case started. It involved a sting operation conducted by the State's Contractor's Licensing Board, and an English-as-a-second language fellow accusing of doing contracting without a license. These were misdemeanor charges, so my first thought was, "really? A jury trial for this?" My other thought, frankly, was that the guy probably did it. The prosecution and defense stipulated early on that the guy didn't have a license, so that fact wasn't even being challenged. The real issue at hand was simple: was the defendant an employee when he entered the sting location and made a bid (which was what he was claiming, and would have been legal), or was he operating his own business?

The prosecution brought out the two investigators who handled the sting and also provided a tape recording of the "crime." This is where the State's case started falling apart, because frankly, the investigators were a little shaky. Evidence had been lost, they forgot a lot of stuff, and they seemed prone to mis-characterize comments that we were able to hear for ourselves on the tape.

That said, I was still wavering, but the defendant's public defender gave a passionate closing statement that pretty much sealed the deal for me. This falls under the rubric of "style" and didn't really influence my decision, but by contrast, the prosecutor closed with a frightening condescending argument that left me scratching my chin. At one point, the prosecutor was explaining the legal issues involved in making a bid, and that contractors can't ask for more than 10% of the estimated cost. This was caveated with an exhaustive apology for the "complicated, boring mathematics that I know we all hate." Umm, 10% of $4K is $400. It ain't exactly quantum physics.

Anyhow, it's still innocent until proven guilty in this country, and that means "proven" within a reasonable doubt. And when all was said and done, the State hadn't proved that this guy wasn't working for someone else when he came to the site, or that a contract had even been agreed to when the guy asked for a down payment. (Some of this was due to the language issues). I was worried I would be the sole civil libertarian nut-job when we started deliberations, but to my surprise, we were all on virtually the same page. Nobody really thought the State had proved their case. 70 minutes later, not guilty!

And so the wheels o' justice have turned... I'm $60 richer and off the hook, jury-wise, for a full calendar year!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Comic Book Shows...

I ventured down to Long Beach this morning to check out a small comic con at the convention center. Compared to the Goliath San Diego Comic show, it was indeed "small", but that was fine with me. I walked through the entire thing in a couple of hours, picked up a few books and chatted with some friendly dealers. The aisles were crowded but not impenetrable, people were nice, parking was easy and there was a nice selection of restaurants right across the street.

Driving back, I realized that I haven't made any plans to go to this Summer's San Diego comic book show. And there's a fair chance I won't go at all, missing the event for the first time since (gasp) 1983. There was a time when San Diego was a must-do event (for fun and for business, but mostly fun), but this year it's definitely fallen into the "ehh" category. It's not that I hate the show (when I was a guest a couple years ago, the convention people were fantastic), but it's like attending a rock concert at a giant stadium. I'm just gettin' too old for that shit. The sheer effort required to attend the San Diego Con has finally become too much. Hotel rooms are ridiculously expensive (assuming you can find one), the crowds are really massive, it's next to impossible to get into the big rooms for the most popular presentations without waiting for hours... it's just become too much of a good thing.

Oh well... wishy-washy guy that I am, I may change my mind and do the entire four days anyway. But right now, I'm thinking a weekend in Vegas would be cheaper, less stressful and more fun...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/18/10

Dan Didio and Jim Lee have been named co-publishers and Geoff Johns has been named Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics, all of which strike me as remarkably wise choices.

A bunch of Americans won medals in the Olympics yesterday. I believe there were other countries involved in the games as well.

Something called CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) is meeting in Washington D.C. for the next few days. This is evidently where the great minds of the conservative movement gather to discuss weighty issues. One of the attractions is a pinata with Nancy Pelosi's face on it.

Roger Ebert is doing some of the best writing of his career these days, much of it on his journal. These aren't movie reviews (well, I guess some are), but reveries on his life, the world and "etc." Check out the latest at

Liz Chaney is not ruling out running for President.

A man angry with the IRS smashed his plane into an IRS office in Austin after setting his house on fire. He was an unemployed software engineer.

I didn't learn this on the internet, but I'm on jury duty for the next few days, hence less internet knowledge than usual.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/17/10 ADDENDUM

On Blogger, the date on a post is set when you started writing it, not when you post it. So a posting about events from 2/17 that was created (but not written) on 2/16 will be dated 2/16. Despite being posted on 2/17.

That's kind of weird.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/17/10

This blog is ranked #62 in popularity at a site called "Geek Blips." I think that's good!

King Tut probably died of malaria.

From CBS News: "South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state." I believe Rep. Pitts (do I really need to put the "R" after his name) is trying to make a point about the deficit.

A lot of people don't like the Comic's Journal new website.

Dick Armey of Freedom Works is disputing claims that he's endorsed John McCain for re-election to the Senate.

Erector Set - 3D Movie is in development.

Rick Santorum is running for President.

Amanda the Aspiring Writer ( always has some interesting advice for folks hoping to break into film writing.

Tiger Woods announced his intention to make a public statement on Friday. I guess you're really a big celebrity when your intention to make a statement is news.

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/16/10

A McDonalds Egg McMuffin has 300 calories.

Someone got physically violent with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on an airplane flight from Vancouver because Romney asked them to put their seat up during take-off. Romney did not "retaliate" and I don't think the angry person was Kevin Smith. LATE UPDATE: Romney was flying economy?!

A skier named Bode Miller, age 32, won a bronze medal at his fourth (!) Olympics, missing first place by .09 of a second. This third place finish prompted a sportswriter on AOL to write a lengthy piece about Miller's poor attitude, musing about what he might have accomplished if he had only applied himself. Seriously.

A Utah legislator named Chris Buttars (R) is advocating abolishing the 12th grade in his State. It would save over $100 million a year, and had it taken effect years ago, obviously would have provided Buttars one less year of merciless teasing.

From Heidi McDonald's "The Beat" website: "Despite the tepid response for the WATCHMEN movie, some of the toys and licensed stuff did okay, said a NECA rep, and they are releasing a Rorschach bobblehead later on. Also, WATCHMEN may join the HeroClix universe."

A former Bush 43 speechwriter named Marc Thiessen, long critical of the Obama administration for being soft on terror, is now complaining that the Obama administration is killing too many terrorists.

My friend and former Battlestar writer Michael Taylor had a birthday!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/15/10

From memory...

Someone named "Snooki" is naked.

Kiefer Sutherland is having a cyst removed.

Doug Fieger, lead singer of "The Knack", died Sunday of cancer. He was 57.

Kevin Smith was thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was too fat. He then twittered about it.

A pregnant woman was refused water on a parked Spirit Airlines flight, then her and her Doctor husband were removed from the plane when they complained.

On "This Week", former Vice President Dick Cheney said he supported waterboarding of terrorist suspects during the Bush administration, which according to at least two bloggers (one of whom was Andrew Sullivan) means he just confessed to a war crime.

There is a new documentary on the British band Dr. Feelgood due to be released. (I like Dr. Feelgood.)

Dale Hawkins, rockabilly singer and composer of "Suzie-Q", died today.

There are regular CD-Rs and then there are "Archival Gold" CD-Rs that are supposed to last for 300 years. Guess which are more expensive?

I think I've learned enough for today...

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Ditko's World. We Just Live In It.

So I mentioned a few posts ago placing an order for the most recent comic book work by Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man and all around fantastic artist. Well, the books have arrived (thanks, Robin!) and they do not disappoint. Ditko's style has simplified some with time, but then evolving and honing was always one of his hallmarks.

As for the stories... well, if you want a peek into Mr. Ditko's thought processes, I'm guessing this is about as close as you'll get. There are superhero stories, off-beat polemics, characters flat-out yelling at the reader, and more! I would try to paraphrase some of this, but you really need the full-Ditko to fully appreciate the work. It is uniquely individual and as personal as comics get.

While I'm at it, I can also recommend Robin Snyder's 20-years-running comics history newsletter, "The Comics." Letters and commentary from a host of professionals, old and new. Well worth a subscription!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Heroes Season Finale - Monday! 9:00PM! NBC!

This is it, not the semi-penultimate or the penultimate, but (as the NBC headline says) the ULTIMATE conclusion to Heroes Season Four. It all comes together, and make sure you stay until the very end, where there's a hint (well, more than a hint) of things to come...

In the climactic season finale, everyone bands together in an effort to stop Samuel (Robert Knepper) from taking the lives of thousands. Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) joins forces with his most unexpected ally to save Emma (guest star Deanne Bray). Meanwhile, H.R.G.’s (Jack Coleman) life hangs in the balance as he and Claire (Hayden Panettiere) find themselves trapped underground with oxygen quickly running out. Elsewhere, Hiro (Masi Oka) starts to come to grips with the decisions he has made and is called into action to help stop a disaster. David H. Lawrence XVII, Harry Perry, Todd Stashwick also guest star.

I've been asked if there will be a Heroes season five, and my oh-so-clever response is, umm, I don't know. Ratings have been ticking up with the last couple episodes and Heroes remains one of the most DVR'ed and downloaded shows around (meaning the initial "rating", per se, doesn't include a big chunk of the actual audience), but since I wasn't watching television during my "flash forward," I will have to wait and see like everyone else...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Proof Of Goodness In The World Vol. 10!

Elvis Costello's "Live At Hollywood High" on CD! Second in the on-going series of live concert releases from the fine folks at Hip-O Select. Bits and pieces of this June 4, 1978 concert have been officially released before, most notably on a 7" vinyl single that came with the first pressing of his "Armed Forces" album, but this is finally the entire show in great sound. That said, I eagerly await future volumes in this series, which promise to get around to some shows that haven't been so widely available...

Torpedo Vol. 1! A nifty hardcover collecting the first Torpedo comic book stories by Sanchez Abuli and Jordi Bernet (with a brief appearance by legendary artist Alex Toth). This series was always a favorite of mine. We're talking about hardboiled gangster/hitman stories that makes "Goodfellas" look squishy sentimental. The protagonist, Luca, is a cold-hearted brutal hit-man who treats the entire world with contempt. There's is no attempt to sugar-coat this world, or to make Luca likable in the least. I love it! And the best part, Vol. 2 is out soon!

Ugly Things #29. Magazines are failing left and right, so the continued existence of amazing mags like "Ugly Things" makes this poor reader grateful. Dedicated to the heroes of 60's/70's rock, this massive issue (224 pages!) features articles and lengthy interviews with bands like The Masters Apprentices, Sky Saxon, The West Coast Consortium and many, many more. And all for $8.95?! Skip a latte and support these guys!

More goodness soon!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Caprica: Rebirth. SyFy Channel This Week!

The first regular series episode of Caprica debuts this week on the SyFy Channel, and I'll be just as curious as anyone to see it. And my name is on this episode as writer! I wrote my draft of "Rebirth" way back in the Fall of 2008, before the series itself had been picked up, to give the fine folks at SyFy an idea where the story could go after the pilot.

Production on Caprica didn't start until mid-2009 and I'm guessing there were the usual revisions made before this one hit the stage. But I don't really know. So it goes in the wonderful world of television!

Anyhow, regardless of the authorship, Caprica is one of those rare beasts, a truly original science fiction show, and it deserves to be supported, so check it out. SyFy is running the sprockets off the these babies, but the premiere is Friday night at 10:00PM on the SyFy channel!

Steve Ditko Is Out There...

Steve Ditko, the amazing comic book artist who co-created Spider-Man and the inimitable Mister A, is suddenly getting the deluxe reprint treatment from a variety of publishers. Virtually all of his silver age Marvel material has been in print for years, and now his earlier, 50's work for Charlton and a host of other smaller publishers is being reissued.

But Ditko himself, at 82, is still producing new work, and that deserves to be supported as well. His later, personal art is wildly idiosyncratic and difficult to describe... so just buy some! His publisher Robin Snyder has a whole stack of Ditko comics and collections, including several released in 2009. I have most of the earlier (90's/early 2000's) books and I just sent him a check to catch up with the rest. You can see the entire library at:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Futon Critic Gives BSG "The Oath" #22!

No, #22 isn't a sexual position (actually, it probably is, "but I digress"), but the fine folks at Futon Critic have listed their top 50 TV episodes of 2009, and my final BSG ep "The Oath" came in at #22.

Virtuality, from Ron Moore and Michael Taylor, came in at #15, and the David Weddle/Bradley Thompson written, Michael Nankin directed episode of CSI came in at #36. The tendrils continue to spread...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Economic Indicator...

This seems about as likely as anything else these days...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's Coming Up...

A new decade (semantics about whether '10 or '11 are actually the "new decade" aside) and some new challenges ahead, but here are two goodies from from yours truly coming in a couple of weeks.

On January 25, NBC will air "my" last episode of Heroes season four, "The Art Of Deception." Co-written with Misha Green, directed by S.J. Clarkson, this one notches the intensity level up by several degrees. There are guns, there is evil, and there are bricks. Lots and lots of bricks. (You'll see.)

On January 29, the first regular season episode of Caprica, "Rebirth", airs on the SyFy channel. I wrote the first pass at this episode way back in 2008 and I suspect it's changed dramatically since. I haven't seen the final shooting script or the episode itself, so I'll be just was intrigued as you by the end result... except my name will be on it! (It is strange, sometimes, how this business works.) What I knew about the project way back when was certainly way-intriguing...

Ressurection Blues

My pal Ernest Troost, composer of the score for the movie Tremors, Emmy winner for the score to The Canterville Ghost, and now 2009 Kerrville Folk Festival winner, has a new CD out and you need to get it RIGHT NOW. Resurrection Blues is another classy set of beautifully produced folk/blues, and it's available both as Mp3 and CD from the fine folks at CD Baby. Check it out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

HEROES Tonight... 9:00PM! Monday! NBC!

If it's Monday, it's time for Heroes... tonight's episode:

H.R.G. EXPOSES SAMUEL'S GREATEST WEAKNESS IN AN EFFORT TO STOP HIM - LISA LACKEY, DAWN OLIVIERI AND ELISABETH ROHM GUEST STAR - H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) recruits Matt (Greg Grunberg) to help him take down Samuel (Robert Knepper), as they use his long-lost love, Vanessa (guest star Kate Vernon), to lure him to them, but Samuel has his own plans for Vanessa in the works. Meanwhile, Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando (James Kyson Lee) go to extreme lengths to save Dr. Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Elsewhere, Peter's (Milo Ventimiglia) introduction of Emma (guest star Deanne Bray) to his mother (Cristine Rose) brings forth visions of a very grim future. Hayden Panettiere also stars. Posted on Todd Stashwick and Sasha Pieterse also guest star.

The season four wrap party was held Sunday night and it was a raucous event, held at a swanky Hollywood bowling alley/bar. Emphasis on "bar." Now comes recovery!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Top 100 Power Pop CDs of 2009

I know, it's hard to believe there WERE 100 power pop CDs in 2009, but according to those fellow, here are the best. He's also got the 15 top EPs. This is a great site for keeping up on this very specific genre...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

If You Live Long Enough...

A very nice reviewer checks back on my "lost" Superman comic book series. I'm a little surprised that books less than five years old are considered "lost", but hey, I'll take a compliment anywhere I can find it.

These stories were collected in a trade paperback edition called "The Journey", still available at Amazon. But for some reason Amazon includes reviews of a bunch of other books under the listing for "The Journey."

New HEROES 1/4/10!

Lest we forget... Heroes returns Monday with a two hour rock 'em sock 'em adventure. And once again the fine folks at NBC describe the goings-on with remarkable brevity! That's MONDAY on NBC!

becomes immersed into the world of the Carnival, she becomes increasingly suspicious of Samuels (Robert Knepper) motives. Hiro (Masi Oka) is on a mission to rescue one of his own, but has difficulty communicating his intentions to Ando (James Kyson Lee). Samuel has his sight set on Emma (guest star Deanne Bray) and her ability to complete his master plan. Meanwhile, Sylar (Zachary Quinto) returns to the Carnival in search of answers and Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) continues to struggle with the loss of his brother. Elsewhere, H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) sets his plan in motion to take down the carnival. Cristine Rose also stars. Posted on Todd Stashwick, Saemi Nakamura, Sasha Pieterse and Dawn Lyen Gardner also guest star.

Top TV Of The Decade!

Since everyone else is posting their lists, might as well toss my own two cents into the arena.

First off, clearly the finest television programs of this decade are, in no particular order, Smallville, Heroes and Battlestar Galactica. Because all had the good sense to employ, *ahem*, me. However, in the interest of objectivity, I'll leave them off the list.

Second, because I've been, well, busy the last ten years, I've missed some programming that I've heard was, well, pretty good. These MIA's include The Wire and Lost, both of which are sitting in pretty boxed DVD collections next to the television, waiting to be perused.

So here were the shows that piqued my interest in the 00's...

1) Deadwood. Easily my favorite show of the last ten years, profane and brilliant and a Western, too!

2) Sopranos. When the show was hitting the mark (which was frequently), there was nothing better on TV.

3) The Office (US version). I find the British version almost too uncomfortable to watch, but the U.S. edition manages to balance the really squirmy stuff with genuine goofball slapstick.

4) West Wing. Fast talking politics. Topical issues. Loved it.

5) 24. There have been good seasons and less good seasons, but like the Sopranos, when this show works, it's great. I'm looking forward to this season's change-up.

6) House. Sometimes I think I'll weary of House's cranky attitude, but it hasn't happened yet. This is an incredibly well written show, and Hugh Laurie somehow manages to find new angles on playing drag-addled misanthropy.

7) Law and Order C.I. Jeff Goldblum is fun, but the now departed Vincent D'Onofrio was ridiculously interesting as the obsessive Detective Goran.

8) Law and Order SVU. A little more meat and potatoes than C.I., but always well written and great performances across the board.

Honorable mentions: Bones (great chemistry between the leads), Criminal Minds (the most grisly crime show on network television!), Spectacle (Elvis Costello's interview show on the Sundance channel)...

I reserve the right to add more when my memory is jogged...