30 January 2007

John K blogged yesterday about the fine art of storyboarding, which got me thinking about The Felties.

I haven't posted about The Felties in a while, mostly because I didn't want to jinx the latest happenings. Then I remembered that I don't believe in jinxes. So here goes:

Pamela and I have been meeting with the very talented David Brownstein
about collaborating on a Felties project. Namely, "The Mimey and Clownie Show."

The idea is to go even smaller than my idea of a five-to-eight minute show. To create minute long, gag-driven videos featuring two or three characters. Since they're short, we can tape a few episodes in one day.

Now, if you've been following the harrowing tale of The Felties, you know that I've been thinking about going bigger. I'm talking about pursuing financial backing to do a pilot episode for a proposed t.v. series.

Doing just the opposite, taking the idea smaller, is very intriguing for a number of reasons. First, if the little videos were to go "viral" I'd actually stand a better chance of finding the financial backing for something bigger. Second, shorter videos are easier to put together than longer videos, as I've learned on DAHT. Third, and finally, I'd have something actually done on this stupid project that's been hanging around my neck like a large seabird.

So here is a peak at a very rough storyboard for an episode of "The Mimey and Clownie Show" entitled "Making Clownie a Man: How to Drink".








I'll post more about this project a little later in the week!

29 January 2007

Foutaises, a short film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet:

25 January 2007

THE BEST SHOWS (NOT) ON TELEVISION

[Yes, it's an all new blog series that I will no doubt lose interest in and post no further installments of!]

I have Kae and Bryce to thank for this. Had they not taped a bunch of episodes of "Roundhouse", I may never have seen the show.

A cast of talented singers, dancers, and actors. One of the writers of "In Living Color." A live band. New music and choreography every week. All culminating in a half-hour sketch show centered around a different theme each week, somewhat like a improvisational Harold.

A couple years back, I had the pleasure of working with David Sidoni at Disneyland. He's a great guy, very professional. The kind of guy you'd shoot hoops with, and let date your little sister.

In college, noted academic hermit Allen Partridge brought his excellent version of "Pinocchio" into the season as a touring play for area elementary schools. He was looking for a hook of some kind, a way to fill in the space between the scenes and propel the story forward. Pamela said "how about dance bumpers?" She loaned him Kae and Bryce's "Roundhouse" tape and he became very excited about the idea. Candy Mickels (who also played the eponymous wooden boy) choreographed the dance. I did the light design for the "home" show, produced on the main stage on campus. I did my best to ape the "rock and roll show" look that "Roundhouse" had.

Nickelodeon has a firm policy in place that should any show exhibit creativity, moxy and artistic skill, it is to be immediately cancelled or at least f-ed with so as to lose its soul and deteriorate into a mockery of what it once was ("Ren & Stimpy" for example.) Apparently Roundhouse was really good, because unlike "R&S" or "Pete and Pete", it hasn't found its way to DVD yet. There are four seasons of "Roundhouse", and an ocean of rabid fans. Paramount apparently doesn't like making money. One can find two episodes of the show on the first two SNICK compilation videos.

There is some sort of underground tape exchange as well, although I haven't cracked into it. I keep hoping that I'll run into some Chinese blackmarket DVD box set on eBay.

Damn. I should've asked Sidoni if he had any of the episodes on tape.

24 January 2007

I finally watched The Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa. This is one of those "must see" films for peeps in the industry. It's right up there with Citizen Kane as one of the "best films ever made."

Well, I concur. The movie is so good ... it's totally Airwolf. Whatever the hell that means (eh ... Airwolf Gotta Eat!)

The movie clocks in at a little over three hours long, yet maintains a subtle intensity that makes you ignore the clock, enthralled as you are in the story. The acting (for a Japanese film made in the 1950s) is almost inconceivably good.

Takashi Shimura plays the leader of the Seven, and turns in a performance as real and nuanced as anything I've seen in recent years. If you think Ken Watanabe is ... well, Airwolf ... you'll absoluetly love Shimura.

Japan's answer to Jack Nicholson is Toshiro Mifune, who plays the rough-around-the-edges and slightly psychotic Kikuchiyo. He was my personal favorite of the Seven. I don't want to spoil any plot, but there are very good reasons for his behavior, and when we finally find out those reasons, you can cut the pathos with a katana.

Great flick, and well worth watching. Look, I know from experience how it is. You hear that "such-and-such" is a good movie, and you watch it and find yourself aghast at the cinematic vomit parading before your eyes. "Why the hell is Joey Tribbiani flirting with the youngest girl from 'Party of Five'? She's like, twelve! And what the hell's up with that stupid looking CG monkey?" We've all been there. Well, this is not one of "those" movies.

23 January 2007

I love free magazines and newspapers. Over the past decade, I've discovered a love (masochistic though it may be at times) for exposing myself to a wide, diverse variety of viewpoints. Just as the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass would believe in six impossible things before breakfast, I try to consider many contrary (or just different) viewpoints every day. Predictably, this makes conversations with me very boring.

...

Oh yeah. I like this one free magazine called Arthur because it covers all kinds of neat, niche music that I wouldn't otherwise know about. Case in point, Earth. This ambient/drone group hails from Seattle. Their last album, entitled "Hex: or Printing in the Infernal Method" is heavy, tense, and very slow. If John Wayne had hung up his spurs and become a monk who drank a lot of coffee (past the point of the normal stimulant effect, where one experiences caffeine intoxication) this album would be his soundtrack.

It's also pretty creepy in places. Currently, I'm listening to it as I write a treatment for a supernatural slasher movie set in rural Wisconsin. Very nice.

22 January 2007

GOTTA EAT!

The open source catch phrase. I don't know who coined it, and I don't care.

Use it and love it. It's funny!

Example 1:

BOSS: Did you get the memo about the TPS reports?

KEVIN: Yeah, but I didn't read it.

BOSS: What?!?

KEVIN: Hey ... Kevin Gotta Eat!

Example 2:

COP: Do you have any idea how fast you were going?

TOM: Hey ... Tom Gotta Eat!

Example 3:

DISGRUNTLED WIFE: Is that it? I was so close this time!

HUSBAND: Uh ... yeah, sorry about that. Hubby Gotta Eat!
Example 4:
STEVIE WONDER: And the Grammy goes to ... John Mayer!

[applause]

STEVIE WONDER: John Mayer regrets that he couldn't be here to
night to accept this award ... John Mayer Gotta Eat!

I could go on and on!
Deep down inside of me lives a nerd named Herb.

Herb loves science. He subscribes to Omni Magazine and haunts Radio Shack. He has fantasies of ordering that kit he's read about in the back of Popular Science, and building a hovercraft out of a lawnmower engine and riding it to school. That'll show everybody. He loved the "mytharc" episodes of The X-Files, and regrets that he's never seen a UFO. In grade school, he checked out every book on Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the paranormal that the library had to offer.

He's even been known to play old school pencil-and-paper D&D, although if you call it that, he'll correct you (it's AD&D.)

Friday night, Pamela took Herb to Grifftih Observatory for my birthday.

Griffith closed not long after Pamela and I moved out here. $93 million and five years later, it's open, and it's badass.

Highlights of the trip:
  • The "cloud chamber" wherein one can "see" cosmic rays hitting a tray of super cooled alcohol. If I were the paranoid type, I'd be freaking out about the constant barage of cosmic rays that shoot through us every moment of every day.
  • The Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theatre, and "The Once and Future Griffith Observatory" film. This is how you do an orientation film. I've been to so many museums in my life, and have fallen asleep in/walked out of just about every other orientation film. They usually suck. No sense of humor or wonder, no attempt at creating something people would be willing to pay to see (even though these films are free. It's the mindset. When you know that someone is going to pay good money for your product, you tend to make it a little more worth their while, right?) Oh ... and Nimoy rules all.
  • The Planetarium Show. Just absolutely incredible. The Big Bang is couched as a modern version of the stories man has been telling about the sky since time immemorial. Just a great, non-confrontational way to present the theory. Oh, and the state-of-the-art star projector was amazing. Living in the big city, I find myself yearning for the clear, country skies of my youth. Would you judge me too harshly if I confessed to getting a bit weepy when the Milky Way was splashed out across the darkened dome above?
  • Looking at the Orion Nebula through the 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope. I've never before experienced looking at the night sky through a real telescope. I understand the sentiment that Griffith J. Griffth expressed upon looking through the telescope at the famed Mt. Wilson observatory: "Man's sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world."

12 January 2007

Here's a little treat to kick start your weekend!



" . . . in wonderful color!"

Thanks to DrowningKittens for posting this on YouTube!

11 January 2007

"To this day, if I ever meet grownups who play ukulele, I love 'em." - Paul McCartney

I used to have a Ukulele. I gave it to my sister. She threw it away.

I've been on the lookout for a decent replacement for years. I didn't want to pay a lot for a new "Rock and Roll mandolin" At the same time, I wanted a quality instrument, not just a piece of crap I'd eventually hurl across the room in a fit of frustration.

I have much envy for the Amoeba Ukulele:



But $179 for a ukulele? Not even if it was autographed by Cliff Edwards himself.

Well, okay. Maybe if autographed by ol' Ukulele Ike. He's part of the reason I bought a ukulele in the first place.

The second reason? I couldn't afford a mandolin. This was back when R.E.M. released "Losing my Religion," thus instigating a new wave of mandos in mainstream rock music.

The Ukulele is deceptively easy to play. Except that there's nothing deceptive about it.

I performed publicly with my ukulele within weeks of purchasing it: I performed a 1920s song entitle "I'll Never Get Drunk Anymore" for a speech class my sophomore year in high school. I was a new transfer student from the desolate plains of Wyoming, by way of North Little Rock. (Yep, I went to three different high schools that year. Thanks, Dad!) Although my performance netted me a "C" from the substitute teacher, it did serve as a sort of audition for a bundle of energy named J.C. Macek III who promptly ordered me to join the band he was starting up.

Maybe it was the fact that a ukulele has four strings, but Macek assigned me bass guitar duties in Glamourous Vagrancy [sic], a "progressive punk-thrash" band noted for it's Rocky Horror Picture Show cover tunes.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah. The ukulele. I was also inspired by Tiny Tim, having grown up on Johnny Carson.

Yikes. The late 70s - early 80s were far more forgiving of unattractive people. I mean, no offense to the late Tiny Tim, but ... woof.

So with sadness and longing in my heart, I have over the years scanned music stores for well-made, low-cost ukuleles. I've come up empty-handed for over a decade. I almost plopped $10 down on a piece of crap toy I found at a discount clothing store(!?) but better judgment overruled nostalgia, and I spent my money on a cup of coffee instead. Coffee: it warms the body and the heart!

So New Years eve, I talk Pamela into stopping by Sam Ash. (We like to go into the special acoustic guitar room, the one that's kept at a perfect temperature and humidity level, and play the most expensive guitars. I tell you, a $4,000 Martin & Co. guitar plays itself. Yum.) Browsing around, what should I find but a Carlo Robelli ukulele on sale for $19.99!

Yeah! I'll write it again in case you missed it and are too lazy to go back and read it again: $19.99! I was stunned. Pamela had to nudge me forward (I was standing on her foot) and politely ask an employee to mop up the pool of saliva I embarrassingly created.

I love Sam Ash, and I think the work they do with Carlo Robelli (i.e. making good, quality, affordable instruments) is to be commended. I scooped up a pretty little number, took it home, tuned it up, and played "I'll Never Get Drunk Anymore" for the first time in [censored] years!

Yay!

05 January 2007

"Turn me on dead man ..."

My friend J.C. Macek III, a.k.a Brother Kneumsi, a.k.a. The World's Greatest Critic has posted his second annual 2006 Dead Man of the Year Award. This year the winners (there are two!) are ... oh, but you'll have to click the link to see! BWA HA HA HA HA!

The idea behind the award is to recognize an artist whose reach has extended beyond the grave, and whose contributions have in someway shaped the entertainment scene for the better over the past year. The 2005 Dead Man of the Year Award went to Willis O'Brien, the man who brought King Kong to life in 1933.

I think this is the coolest idea for an annual award. The great thing is, the runners-up can't have their egos crushed when they don't win! Ha!

01 January 2007

Top 10 Entertainment Experiences of 2006:

Last year I blogged about the Top 5 Entertainment Experiences of 2005. Well, I'm expanding it to ten this year.

The rules here are simple: It's not just about what movie I liked or what song caught my attention on the radio. It's about the whole experience. So although I may have seen a great musician perform live (Peter Frampton at the Wiltern) I may not include it here if the experience was lacking (A herd of rowdy fiftysomethings toking up en masse during "Do You Feel Like We Do." Yikes.)

So, in no particular order:

1) The Five Minute Show

I didn't want to put this on the list because I was planning on doing a proper write-up of how cool Pete, Sierra and their video podcasts are. (Seriously, I have notes to transcribe, including a list of hyperlinks to include.) If you haven't seen the show, go on over to www.thepete.com and see what I'm talking about.

Pamela and I have contributed to a couple of the episodes, and it's been a real blast! What's more, it's been inspirational for me to keep at my own web show (something involving disembodied animal something-or-others ....)

2) Bootlegging John Mayer in Irvine

Going to Irvine for a rock show is an all day affair. It's not exactly right down the street. Plus, Pamela went to the sound check, so we had to be there early.

Watching Mayer perform is always joy, but this time I brought along a little recorder to make a bootleg! It's cool, because dude allows it.

We got in the car after the concert, plugged the little digital recorder into the iPod FM transmitter thingy, and fired it up ... not a bad bootleg at all! We were pumped! Excited and cheering our coolness! One unfortunate bump later, and the whole thing was erased.

To say we were despondant would be an understatement. Eventually, the concert showed up online and we burned a copy. But for one brief, shining moment in Irvine, I was a dedicated rock fan making his first bootleg of a live concert.

3) Eli

What is the "true power" of YouTube, MySpace and all that? The fact that the people you meet, the musicians whose music you hear, the entertainers you see are real people. The internet as a facilitator of idea transmission is an empty thing without resulting action. Imagine if you couldn't actually buy anything off of eBay, just log on and look at other people's stuff.

I learned the "true power" of YouTube this past year when I encountered a busker named Eli who I'd only known from the internet. Standing in line for the motion picture classic Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny we saw him, manipulating a downtrodden figure to the tune of "St. James Infirmary."

The experience was like returning home after a long trip, and seeing the lights of your city on the horizon. An hour later, you're surrounded by those lights ... hell, you're contributing to those lights.

4) Garrick Pass starts blogging

I'm not joking when I say Garrick Pass is the Garrison Keillor of the IT generation. No one spins a yarn quite like Garrick, and similar to Mr. Keillor, it's never quite clear how much (if any) of what he says is made up or exagerrated for effect. Garrick just rings true. He should set himself up with some filk musicians and put together a weekly podcast/radio show where instead of "The News from Lake Wobegon" we get "This Week at 'Company Name Withheld ...'" Record it live at a coffee shop or something ...

Anyway, it's been a joy to check in on Garrick's blog (www.prettygeekything.com) everyday to see how life's treating him.

5) Octoberfest at the Getty

I heart the Getty. One weekend in October, Pamela and I were sitting around with nothing much to do. We decided to check out the Getty online to see if anything interesting was happening. Boy howdy! It was Octoberfest, with live music, folk dancing, a marionette show, and arts and crafts galore. Oh yeah, and a few new art exhibitions.

For the price of parking ($10) we had a full day's entertainment, and went home with a sack full of handmade stuff.

The marionette show, "Hansel and Gretel" turned out to be an operetta by Engelbert Humperdinck(!) In spite of that, it was a great show (ba-da-ching!)

6) John K at the Aero

Back in high school, a group of us conspired to celebrate Kilted Yaks Eve. I say a group ... I believe it was Victor Guidry that got the ball rolling and created the artwork for our invites. We all met at Stephen Suit's house, and watched Pamela's bootleg tape (Rubber Nipples! The Tiniest Giant! Space Madness!) I dressed up as the Yak (I put a paperbag over my head that said "Yak") and passed out shaving scum. What can I say? It was high school.

John K (who blogs at www.johnkstuff.blogspot.com) presented a number of finished cartoons and animatics of cartoons yet to be completed. By far the best cartoon of the night (and all time?) was "Boo Boo Runs Wild" wherein Boo Boo heeds the call of the wild, and Yogi and Ranger Smith get into a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Sitting in a full house of fans, cheering and applauding during the opening credits for Ren & Stimpy ... without a doubt a highlight of 2006!

7) Torrid Affaire

This is a bit greedy, but sitting in the booth at Two Roads Theatre, and watching six actors breathe life into my smutty little play was a fantastic experience. I felt like I had gone home for Christmas.

8) Pamela at Dar Mahgrab

I love watching my wife dance. I've grown to really enjoy bellydancing, thanks to Pamela. And as hard as it is for me to state publicly, I loooooove lamb. (They're just so cute, it feels wrong to eat them! But damn them all, they taste so good!) Dar Mahgrab is the kind of place Pamela and I would've gone to for dinner anyway. being entertained by my lovely wife was a bonus!

9) Bingo at the gay bar

I've only been to two bars in my entire life. The first was a hotel bar in Norman, Oklahoma where Andrew Rhodes and I had Heinekens. We've since developed good taste.

The second bar was Akbar Lounge in Silver Lake ... a gay bar. The reason for the "outing" was a fundraiser for Pamela's theatre company Write/Act.

BINGO! Lame prizes, abrasive hosts, and R-rated variations on the old classic. There was Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque call-and-response (caller: "N 50" us: "I'm 50! 50 Years old! I like to stretch and kick and stretch! Camel toe!") bad jokes, and lots of laughter. Great night, and I can't wait to go the Hamburger Mary's in West Hollywood for Drag Queen Bingo later this week. Yay!

10) Sherlock Holmes and the Saline Solution

I didn't include the Renaisance Pleasure Faire on this list, but it was definitely in the top twenty-five. The great thing about RPF was discovering the very talented Shelby and Shannon, which then led to Pamela and I booking it down to Cafe Fais Do-Do to see Shelby in Sound and Fury's "Sherlock Holmes."

It was a cold and rainy night, and a part of town we were not familiar. The theatre ... Okay, here's the thing: please keep in mind that this description is not an insult. The theatre was a run-down hole. The roof leaked, it was drafty and poorly lit. It felt like a great place to live, if you're a rat or perhaps a whino. That said, it was a magical space for theatre.

It was very fast-paced, cleverl written and well-performed. The "prologue" was without a doubt the best bit of theatre I've seen in a very long time.

Okay! That's it for 2006. I know I've left out many wonderful experiences, but I had to limit it or else spend the next couple of weeks writing. Feel free to fill me in on your favorite entertainment experiences of 2006 in the comments below, keeping in mind that it's about more than what movie you liked, it's about the whole enchilada, the experience!