27 February 2007

I would be remiss not to make public note of the fine acting Greg Grunberg exhibited in last night's episode of "Heroes."

Greg Grunberg got me to watch "Felicity." I really felt for his character of Sean Blumberg, a guy always trying to come up with that one really good idea.

He has done consistently good work on "Heroes" so far this season, with last night's episode of "Company Man" being the best yet. His scene with Claire (Hayden Panettiere) was by far the most compelling bit of drama in the series thus far.

So here's to Greg Grunberg, a journeyman actor who will no doubt grow and age into a seasoned great!

26 February 2007

"Lost" is for Dog Lovers

Another canine on the set of "Lost!"

I'm hoping that Lulu plays one of The Others. Then maybe we can have a whole episode devoted to LuLu and "Vincent" playing sick mind games with each other, culminating in the shocking death of a series regular. Yeah!

23 February 2007

You know those highly dramatic promo photos for Lost? Pictures of the cast on the island looking all dramatic?

Here's my favorite one:

Even in front of aircraft wreckage, labradors still look happy!

I love this dog. This is, as you well know, dog-actor Madison, whose character Vincent has been an object of much speculation. Bad things seem to happen to those who care for him, and he seems to have some sort of special connection to the island (by "he" I mean the character of Vincent. As is common with TV dogs, Madison is actually a female playing a male.)

I thought that Vincent left the island at the end of season 2, but apparently he's still with the survivors of Flight 815, as he is featured in next week's episode! Yay! I remember reading somewhere that the producers of Lost were planning on a "Vincent-centric" episode, with a Vincent flashback. I hope they do that.

If you're interested in how a "myth-arc" series like Lost is created and perpetuated, I would recommend listening the the "Official Lost Podcast" with show producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Interesting stuff!

19 February 2007

This is the kind of artist I aspire to be:

John Mayer speaks fluent "music." (The good stuff starts 1:49 in.)

17 February 2007

Some goodness from Seth "Mr. Clean" Godin:

The thing most people miss most is that they no longer have an excuse. Without a publisher/editor/boss to blame, your writing is your writing. Your followup is your followup. That means some people become trains without tracks. They just sit there.
He's speaking specifically about blogs, and how bloggers have the opportunity and inclination to cut through the B.S. and just say what they're thinking. Because there is no editor to pass through. As he points out, a lack of structure can then equal a lack of forward momentum.

That's where I am on DAHT, in case anyone was wondering. It is a train without a track.

It's also why I find it easy to commit to a pretty full schedule with Write Act Rep (I'm directing a pretty big play there this year: 20+ puppet characters, very epic) because there is a schedule. And plenty of folks to kick my ass if I miss any deadlines.

In my younger days, I was very willing to throw off the constraints of form and structure and just forge my own path. When you're a naive pipsqueak with more balls than brains, it's easy to hack your way through the self-imposed jungle you create for yourself. As I gather more life experience, I find that the truly remarkable artists, such as Mozart and Da Vinci, continue to study form and structure even as they are creating masterpieces. Mozart studied orchestral scores in his "spare time." Da Vinci's anatomical studies are very famous.

Even a guy like John Mayer, who could probably do nothing more than "Your Body is a Wonderland" for the rest of his life is a scholar of rock and blues, absorbing the strengths of great guitar players like Clapton and Jeff Beck.

15 February 2007

A week and a half ago, I finally got around to watching An Inconvenient Truth. I expected Al Gore's little global warming movie to be, at best, an entertaining piece of propaganda. At worst, I thought, it will be the "PBS" version of "The Day After Tomorrow."

It was neither. I am struck by two things: 1) How passionate Al Gore is about this (and further, how humanizing it is to see him animated and interested in something) and 2) how compelling Gore's argument is.

If this movie had come out before the election, he would've won by a considerable majority. No doubt about it. Presidential politics has a way of washing out a candidate's personality and making them almost dead-stump-like. This is why it's easy for a charismatic guy like Reagan or Clinton to ride in and win two terms like there's nothing to it. Remember Bob Dole? Mr. Wet Paint. As soon as he lost his bid, and the pressure was off, he grew a personality. Same with Kerry. Same with Gore. In the arena of Global Warming, dealing with environmental issues, Gore has charisma.

And he doesn't just show slides, he builds a narrative.

I've stumbled upon a few "PowerPoint" "experts" on the web. Seth Godin has some good things to say. (And here's his free eBook.)

What's most interesting to me is the concept of PowerPoint as a form of theatre. Not doing a PowerPoint presentation on theatre, mind you, but presenting PowerPoint as theatre. It would be fun to create a PowerPoint play, complete with the PowerPoint slides and everything.

One correlation I can think of is this guy who does traditional slide shows as theatre. He uses found slides, and spins a narrative.

Another correlation is planetarium shows. Pamela took me to Griffith Observatory for my birthday, and the show under the big dome was certainly theatrical, complete with a storyteller who cooed her lines and wandered around with a glowing orb as her light source.

Anyone aware of PowerPoint Theatre? Or theatrically presented slide shows? Anything similar?

13 February 2007


The Pirate Parrots Project.

My notes are scanty, but here's the idea:

A direct to video movie featuring a cast of bird puppets cavorting around like pirates. Specifically, we follow a band of lousy pirates out to make a name for themselves. The captain, an inept fop named "Roginal LeCoeur" fantasizes about being a true and proper scoundrel, the type of pirate he reads about in such books as "The Nasty Corsair." So he styles himself as "Blackbeard the Parrot," wearing an incredibly stupid looking black beard.

He heads up a pirate ship (I don't remember what I wanted to call it ... "The Sea Monkey" or something stupid like that) with a wacky, zany crew of misfits and n'er-do-wells. [I may update this later, when I have the chance to review other notes I have stuffed around the home office.]

Blackbeard the Parrot is tired of being a laughing stock, and decides to put his name on the map by rescuing the truly great pirate Captain Hookbeak, who was recently captured, tried, and sentenced to death.

What follows is a series of episodes culminating in the rescue of the merciless Captain Hookbeak. One episode involves our motley band running across a pirate ship full of "girl pirates" and the resulting bird orgy ("If this boat's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'!") Another episode has the crew liberating a slave ship. The big, climactic sea battle has canons blazing and feathers flying!

In the end, Hookbeak is made captain of "The Sea Monkey" and he places Blackbeard as his first mate.

This idea is not for kids, but not for the "usual" reasons (i.e. gratuitous puppet nudity and profanity.) The idea is to have a jolly tale of adventure on the high seas, and at the same time depict what murderous, cut-throat savages pirates could really be at times. Seriously, some of those guys were outright sociopaths. But just like an old-school slasher film, it's all in fun.

It would be shot entirely in-studio (reference Steve Oedekerk's "Thumb" movies for an idea of how closely controlled the sets would be) with liberal use of models and compositing.

All of the bird puppets would be based upon real species. Hookbeak, for instance, is based on the thick billed parrot. The pirates would represent a wide variety of birds (albatross, magpie, cockatoo, etc.) but the birds representing the Crown -- the killjoys, the government navy types -- would be fairly uniform pheasants. Maybe pigeons. Something very "English."

It really pains me to realize how unlikely it is that this particular project will ever be produced, if only because I would love to see it.

How about you?