Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Casting Suggestions

I very much enjoyed this article from MTV. They are opining on whom the different roles in The Hobbit should go to. I agreed with most of the suggestions, but had to laugh at the idea of Bruce Campbell as Beorn. I'm not saying that he couldn't pull it off. I'm not familiar with his acting skills enough. I just keep hearing Duke Nukem (i.e. Ash) quotes coming from a bear.

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Lost Trailer

They have it up on the official page. I don't mind telling you to go watch it, because there are no commercials in it. It is itself a commercial and it is awesome.

Lost - Season 4 Trailer

In other news, it looks like some shows are coming back on the air. Leno and Conan, Kimmel, as well as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. After reading statements from both Leno and Conan, I have to say that I don't envy their position. That is a tough call to make. While it will weaken the WGA's position, I can't fault any of them for seeking a way to help people keep their jobs. So, kudos to you guys for being ballsy, and I hope that it is because you are being ballsy (and not because you fell to pressure from the studios).

To end it all off: an interview with actor John Hurt (who is rumored to be playing Abner Ravenwood in Indiana Jones IV). I'm very excited for this movie, and had completely forgotten that Sir Shia was in it. There is a slightly strange picture of Shia looking like a greaser in it. I guess that would make sense given the time frame of the other movies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Terminator 4

Sadly, I still haven't ever seen the first Terminator. I loved the second and third, so I'll get on that. However, today I stumbled across some news that I found rather interesting: they are making THREE new Terminator movies and John Connor will be played by Christian Bale. How is that for awesome? His role won't be very big in the first (they are introducing a new character), but sounds like his role will be bigger in the following two films. They will be set after the nuclear holocaust and show the war of the machines and the little Utopian society that John starts, etc. Fantastic idea, boys.

CHUD.com article on T4
(I will warn you that there are spoilers involved in this article, but they are not too heavy. In fact, I imagine that every little bit of info revealed will be put into whatever trailer they release, so frankly I didn't even really consider them spoilers.)

The Hobbit

So there is good news on The Hobbit front: it is a go. Peter Jackson has signed on as executive producer (I will link news releases at the bottom, but I was turned on to this by www.theonering.net and wanted to let you all know to check out that site if you care at all about LOTR and these movies. They have interesting tidbits on just about everything pop up daily over there).

The negotiations bring Peter and Fran Walsh as producers instead of Peter at the helm as director. His reasons were simply that he didn't have time to direct it and still fulfill his current obligations to other projects. The studios want a 2009 release.
Another interesting tidbit is that the format will actually be for two movies. They are making the first one of the book's events, and the second will be to bring us up to speed with the events that bridge The Hobbit with LOTR. I think this is a fantastic idea.

There has been mixed fan reaction to this (with the majority of fans seeming to be adamant that Peter is the only man for the job of director). I admit that I felt that way until very recently. Then I started reading the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and I remembered how different of a feel each of these books (The hobbit and LOTR) had from each other. The choice comes down to this: is it worth waiting a few extra years for Peter's schedule to free up, or is it wiser to not only capitalize on the success of LOTR and strike while the iron is hot, but also to move forward while actors such as Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee still have enough energy to pull off convincing wizards in battle? The other issue is, could another director do as well a job? My opinion is that while The Hobbit is a set-up for LOTR, it is its own story and I have no problem with it having a different feel than LOTR. As long as Peter is involved in the role of producer, I feel that the movie will be able to maintain a similar feel/vibe as LOTR while still letting us get into the world of The Hobbit, which has a very different stlye. Let's face it, while the events of The Hobbit are very serious to those involved, it does not carry with it the weight of doom that LOTR does. It is much more light-hearted and really is an adventure tale.

Either way, I'm excited for these movies to be made and as long as Peter is involved I feel safe that they will turn out well.

And now, the news releases:
USA Today
New York Times

For further reading:
The Official The Hobbit Movie Blog

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stories

I wrote two short stories in my creative writing workshop this semester. I am very proud of the second one I did. It was an adaptation of a poem I wrote last semester in my poetry writing workshop. Sadly, I am disappointed in my other one. That was my attempt to squeeze what is very much a character/ethics story (with a sort of sci/fi twist) into a short story format. It felt like it was headed somewhere good at first, but had too many holes without the proper time to fully develop the main characters. The night before it was due, I was at the library working on the re-write, when the "correct" way to write it hit me. I was then faced with the decision of either doing a dramatic and complete overhaul of the entire story for the new version (which I was psyched about and felt would be much stronger) or finishing the re-write I was working on and turning in what I knew would be sup-par material. Truthfully, the decision wasn't even mine. Time only allowed for me to stick with the original re-write plan and scratch out a less than stellar story.

I am greatly intrigued by the idea of a "correct" version of a story. It's not that I believe that any given story has only one way to be told, but I have discovered that when I am in that creative process (be it writing a story, a poem, a song, or whatever) I come to forks in the road. I brainstorm tons of ideas and eventually have to choose one path or another. The interesting part (to me) is that this decision is usually quite easy. It's like I am walking down a path and as I look to the right and left I see many other paths begin to take shape. I can see some that are very close, and others that are further off. Then, at some point, two or more of these paths will converge and I must choose which to head down.
Generally, I am not someone who rushes into decisions at all. I like options, so choosing leaves me feeling limited. My solution is to stall as long as I can until I absolutely have to choose (that way I can let events pan out and have more time to gather info). Indecision has a way of making life quite difficult at times for me.
However, in writing it always seems very easy to me. I brainstorm, I get excited about an idea, and I move forward. If that idea isn't working out, I usually have another to replace it that I am more excited about anyway.
All of that explanation to simply say: my best writing always happens when I just write whatever I am most excited about.

Well, I have met my match; I came up with a story that was going to span three albums and had a modern warfare setting. It would all be told through the perspectives of two men through song lyrics. This is by far the biggest creative project I have ever endeavored, and it has been sucking up my brain powers and creative juices for months at a time over the past few years. I put it on the shelf for a little while after TMT split up, though, and am now finding it difficult to get back into for some reason (I suspect because I grew quite focused on the two stories I was writing for class). I am stuck at a fork in the road and don't know which path to take.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

World Records

Matt linked me to these and I am still absolutely blown away by them. The first is of a man that has no face. The second is of Mexican werewolves (oh yes, these are legit).

From the Inside

I've really been enjoying the blog coverage of the WGA strike. There are quite a few writers that are blogging about the experience and doing a fantastic job at it. One I have been enjoying is Plaintive Wail.

He also posted a video from Friday's line at Fox that features Zach De La Rocha rapping (there are too many people with signs to be able to see Zach, but you can hear him).

Here are some more sites that I am enjoying:

LateShowWritersOnStrike (and cleverly enough, it really is them).

Nikki Finke's site.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Halt Begins

Yesterday, Matt told me about Steve Carrell calling in sick for work (in support of the writer's guild strike). I found this news release corroborating with that statement and also giving Greg Daniels' view of it.

As the article says, new episodes of The Office will cease airing either next week or the week after. Very sad, but a necessary evil (in my perspective).

I also wanted to post a link to another news release. This has two videos that help explain the WGA's side of the strike. The first is a very standard, yet incredibly clear, explanation of what the WGA is asking for and why. Watch it first, for sure. The second is of writers and crew from The Office walking the picket lines. it is rather enjoyable. Check 'em out.

Finally. This is a fantastic site called United Hollywood. I loved the little joke about Ethan from Lost, and the religious zealot who tosses his lot in with the strikers with his clever "Moses was a writer!" chant.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Strange Art

Check this out. This is by far the most detailed and intense origami I have ever seen (although I readily admit that my experience with the art has been very limited, to say the least). After seeing the LOTR set, check out the animals and, well. Just check them all out. The man is incredibly talented.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Hobbit: The Movie

I found a wonderful site that has stayed on top of news regarding the hold-up and potential production of The Hobbit. I thought I'd give a quick clarification of what the hold up has been (for those who, like me, have not known nor bothered to research into it).
Peter Jackson has sued New Line Cinema for doctoring the numbers in their accounting of how much LOTR made/is making. They were at a stand still for a long time, but the courts recently fined New Line for not getting the required documents in time (i.e. the accounting documents). This has, as near as we can tell, woken New Line up to the fact that they are going to have to do something quick. it seems as though they have entered into serious settlement discussions with Jackson to come to terms that will appease both parties.
They are on a time crunch, as far as production goes. They only have the rights to make The Hobbit until about 2010 (as I understand it). This means that they need to get the ball rolling.
Sam Raimi (directed the Spidermans as well as plenty of other flicks) has made a few comments in interviews that he would like to be considered for directing the film, if Peter isn't chosen. He was quick to add that he feels that Peter should direct the films and that his bid is more of a "in case nothing can be worked out" type bid.
If New Line decides that they can't work with Jackson because of the suit, then a new director would be necessary. I absolutely hate the idea of a new director. This must not come to be.
As an aside, Jackson's case is a really big deal. I can't prematurely say that New Line is guilty, because of that whole "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy that i believe in, but my heart tells me that these production companies and studios are dirty and ever have been. The WGA's strike against them is greatly due to this very sort of thing: greediness on the part of the studios.
That is all.

G.I. Joe: The Movie

I first heard rumors of a G.I. Joe movie back while I was on my mission in the Dominican Republic. At that time, I heard rumors of all sorts of actors/actresses being attached to it. Then, I heard that the whole project was being scrapped (for the time being). It looks as though they are taking another stab at it. All we have reported now is a studio, a director, a writer, and a tentative release year for 2009. At least it's another start. Good news for us fans, though.

I'd like to take this moment (while I am reflecting on my favorite childhood cartoons/toys) to say how great I think it is that they are taking the stab at doing something with these on the big screen. Transformers was done tremendously well (despite a ton of negativity aimed at director Michael Bay from random people I came across). The X-Men movies, and the new Batman movie were all fantastic, also. Keep up the good work Hollywood.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Disturbia

We had a great Saturday night. Burke and Geo came over and we watched Disturbia. I hadn't seen it, yet. It was fantastic! Afterward, as is often my habit, I watched the special features and greatly enjoyed the director's take on the project: Say Anything meets scary movie. The tone of the film was great. It was fun and funny, it had romance, it was a coming of age film (in a subtle sense), and it was a thriller. Shia is turning out to be an incredibly enjoyable actor and I look forward to his future projects.
I was also impressed with the fact that it wasn't just a rip-off of Rear Window. They took it in a different direction with tone and character development. Well done. I give it an A+.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ancient Ships

This is a slight departure from my normal subjects, but I'm fascinated by this.

Newsweek reports that they are uncovering ships in Pisa (yes, the leaning tower capital of the world) that have been preserved by the very same silt that make the tower lean. It's a modern day/aquatic version of Pompeii. Being an archaeologist would have to be a very difficult job, but sometime in my life, I want to go take part in a big dig like this. How cool.

I also found out about an ancient ship dug up in Stockholm Sweden, that they dated older than the Vasa. These ships off of Pisa are older than either of those.

HP News

J.K. Rowling has written Beedle The Bard (of which much mention was made in The Deathly Hallows), but only seven copies have been published. Seven? As the article says, she is giving six aweay as gifts and the seventh (which is all souped up in Moroccon leather and gilded is silver and jewels and what not) is being auctioned off for charity at a starting price of $62,000. Good heavens.

Also, she is going to be working on a companion book for the Harry Potter series. My understanding is that it will be an encyclopedia all (or at least a lot of) things Harry Potter. This may be the answer to solving the Dumbly-gay problem. I just hope that she'll make it believable.

Themed Albums

I have been thinking a lot about themes in music and lyrics and how they affect songwriting. Songwriting for me has gone through many changes. There were those days when I would write lyrics that were superficial, but necessary to finish a song. I don't regret that at all. I had to learn how to write a song, and I wasn't prepared to access that level of intimacy in myself that will generally give a song an emotional core. I am attracted to that emotional core in other's songwriting, so it seems others would be attracted to that in my own songwriting. Just as an aside--I'm not speaking of the manufactured or over-the-top feelings that often get exploited in music (see "Emo"). I'm speaking of real lyrics. Lyrics that come from inside me and are what I really feel or think (whether presented in a straight-forward way or as sarcasm).
It didn't take long before I began to experiment with my emotions and beliefs while writing songs. Writing songs became much more fulfilling at that point. Musically, it brought me the chance to channel my joy, frustration, or sadness into rhythms and melodies that felt appropriate to what I was feeling. Lyrically, they also gave me a vent that I could turn on to let these things out.
I got to a point in my songwriting, though, where I wanted a greater challenge: I wanted my songs to mean something. I wanted them to be more than just my emotional outlet. The best literature always comes with layers of meaning, and that is exactly what I wanted for my songs: layers of meaning.
I also wanted to craft themes into my songs. This, for me, was something that I had to be careful about; shoving my thoughts or themes down peoples' throats wasn't the idea. This was supposed to be an access to introspection and self-discovery; I wanted to learn just as much as everyone else. That meant that these themes would need to evolve naturally in the songs. Through either telling a story or looking to physical representations of intangible ideas for inspiration and as a way for those themes to tell themselves.
All of this is coming as set up for a project that I am currently taking on. I am analyzing some of the albums that I am most in love with, in search of themes. I don't think this will be possible to do unless I divide it into groups. Otherwise, it will just be too large of a project. I will be looking at outside information in this project (such as interviews given by the artists), but not until after I have spent some time with just myself and the album. I will be looking at it musically and lyrically to see how these two aspects of the song work alone and in conjunction with/against each other. I will be looking at individual songs and at the album as a whole.
At first, I'm going to be limiting myself to concept albums (as I interpret what makes a concept album). I am aware of many concept albums, but I am sure that there are many more out there I've never heard of, so if you know of any worth checking out, let me know.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Scary Flick


This weekend, Sierra and I rented 1408. I have to say that it was one of the best scary movies I've seen in a very long time. I don't often get too into paranormal movies, but this one did it very well. It had a very good set up and carried that feeling through the whole film. John Cusack did a great job and so did my boy Sammy J.
It's basic premise is that of an author who travels around debunking haunted hotel myths. More than that, though... you'll just have to go rent it.
Part of what made it so good to me was how clean it was. There was no nudity, hardly any swearing and it wasn't overly gory. basically, it scared and thrilled us without having to be cheapened with shock value.
It is an adaptation of a short story by Sir Stephen King.

Who Down Wit' WGA? Yeah You Know DGA.

It doesn't have the same ring to it, I guess. I am finding The Artful Writer's blog to be very informative in regards to the strike. I thought I'd turn you all on to it, too.

With The Teamsters Union on board, they would definitely be in a position of power come negotiations. If the DGA (those who are able) comes on board, too? Well, this strike may not take as long as we'd think. Here's to hoping that everything gets resolved in a pleasing manner before Lost has to take any delays to its season.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I enjoyed this interview with Conan O'Brien. He tells of his journey becoming a writer for The Simpsons. I love his comments about the longevity of the humor from The Simpsons. Those jokes never get old to me.

Dumbledore... Gay?

I know that I'm late getting to this, but since no one reads this, what do I care? J.K. Rowling has announced that old Dumbly is gay. This is not the first time she has made announcements about characters after she supposedly finished the series. I will admit, that her first announcement was welcome. I was excited to get more info on the characters. However, this last announcement bothers me.
I think I am most bothered because it feels so absolutely irrelevant. Let's think about this for a second. We read seven LONG books about these characters. If was never important enough to bring up in the stories, then it is not important enough to bring up post-story. It doesn't help me understand him better, or his motivations. The only thing it does for me is serve to kind of disturb me about his relationship with/interest in Harry.
Another issue that I have (and that is brought up fantastically in the NY Times' article linked above), is that I don't believe that he is gay. This isn't some stupid hetero-denial of his life. It's is just not supported in the text at all. The only basis for this claim, is that Rita Skeeter very cryptically suggests it (and her suggestions are made to feel absolutely ridiculous anyway). If you are going to create a character, then be proud of that character. If your character is gay, then make that character gay (and I don't mean flamboyant, I just mean believable).
My beef is that I have an invested interest in these characters, and I went through seven books (each of which I read at least twice, most more than three times), and grew to understand each character in my own way. To come in, after the fact, and make statements that are unnecessary (how does his being straight/gay matter to what is going on?), and unfounded rocks my foundation and turns me off from the book. The characters were believable. Now, she is taking that away from me.
I hope people understand what I'm saying--his sexuality is irrelevant. I don't care that he's gay. He's her character and if she wants him gay, then make him gay. My problem is that she never made him gay, and expects me to believe it just cause she says so. What this feels like now, is that she is either needing attention or has an agenda, and frankly, I don't care about her agenda. I care about these characters.
I have a solution: if she really is just feeling like she didn't do justice to these characters or something, and just needs to say more about them, then write another book. I don't mean a novel. I mean, do something like The Silmarillion or something. Write a book that allows you to do back story or acts as an appendices. That is the only way that I will accept any outside information on it.

It's like Lost. I don't care how many outside interviews that the writers do explaining what is or isn't going on. If it is going on, then put it in the series clearly (at some point--I'm not calling for immediate answers because the show is fantastically successful at what it offers: questions), and if it isn't happening, then make that clear.
To what may we turn to more fully understand a fictional text? As a writer, you need to believe that the reader will need nothing more than itself.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good News

Megan (her life is irrelevant and will end shortly), let me know today that The Flight of the Conchords DVD (Season 1) is coming out on November 6th. Hooray! In honor of this fine accomplishment, here is a video clip:

Albi (The Racist Dragon)

Second Life

So... I'm just a little speechless...

Last night's episode of The Office introduced me to a new game (it's actually been around since 2003, I have since discovered) called Second Life. When Dwight first explains it to Jim, I thought it was them making fun of WoW and similar massive multi-player online RPGs. Wrong. This game is legit. In fact, just now when I got on the intraweb to search for it, I saw over 52,000 people were online playing it. Good heavens.
I freely admit to enjoying RPGs and also got very into World of Warcraft for a bit. For me, RPGs are rather like reading a novel: you get to immerse yourself in a world and watch as a character grows and develops. The main difference between them (as far as I see it) is that a book generally takes less time to finish, and is more effective at teaching principles or emotionally affecting the reader.
So, why do I--someone who freely admits to loving RPGs--feel like a game like Second Life is so lame? I think there are two main reasons:

1. There is a logical point to a RPG game. There are missions/quests to complete (which often require problem solving skills) and you get to fight/kill things. Who doesn't like that? From what I understand of Second life (based COMPLETELY on Dwight's statement on it), you are just playing a character in a game. You can also buy land. Sweet (hint, hint... sarcasm). I really am having a hard time understanding the point to a game like The Sims or Second Life.

2. If you feel the need to escape life, why escape to somewhere that is just as boring as the one you're in? You can't convince me that wandering around trying to find land to buy is more exciting than real life. I am making blatant assumptions about this game. However, I am quite confident in them. If life sucks enough for you that you'd waste hours of it pretending to be yourself in a world that you can control, I submit that the problem isn't life; the problem is that you're not doing anything about life.

My life is great. I am a truly happy person. Yet, I like video games as much as the next Joe. So, please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I'm not calling out video games as worthwhile to only those whose lives suck. What I am saying is that I can't understand why a game like Second Life would be appealing to anyone who is happy with their life. I can't see what it provides besides a chance to pretend to live. If anyone gets this and feels that I am way off base, then please let me know.

Thursday dvd

I just found out that Thursday's DVD/CD (entitled Kill The House Lights) will be released on October 30th. This is good news.

Thursday - War All The Time

What Makes An Album

Preface: Misty and I were just talking about JEW's new cd - Chase This Light, and (with her help) I realized why I have felt frustrated with it. It isn't the songs--the songs are great (special nod to "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues"). It doesn't feel like an album to me, though. To help illustrate what I am feeling, let me begin by talking about Clarity.
If I were somehow kidnapped by ex-Soviets in white snow-camo suits and big old guns, and then taken to a deserted island and given the choice of having one, and only one, cd to listen to for the rest of my life, I would choose Clarity. Why? Clarity is an experience. It offers so much musically and lyrically. It offers emotions and each song takes me somewhere new. It is the ultimate listening experience. It is important to understand that I don't say that lightly. There are far too many cds that I love and cherish to make this an easy decision. However, this album takes me everywhere I want to go (with music) and it does it in 13 songs.
Compare that to another disc that JEW released: Singles. Singles is great! It has fantastic music that I love, but it is not an album. It is a collection of singles. It promises nothing more and it exceeds fantastically at being exactly what it purports to be.
So what do we have with Chase This Light? We have what I feel is a collection of songs. They are great songs, and they are worth listening to. I am quite grateful that Jimmy took the time/money/energy to write, record, and release them. However, to call it an album places a certain expectation in my mind. That most likely is my own weakness, but it is there and it is real. I expect more from an album. I expect an experience. The songs on Chase This Light all feel the same. Therefore, I can listen to any one of them and get the same feeling as when I listen to any of the others (as stated previously, with the exception of "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues").
So, the question I have is: are my expectations too high? The answer may very well be "yes." It's too early to pass final judgment on the disc, because I've only had it for a week. Every other Jimmy cd has taken a while to reach "full potency" for me. In another 3 months, we may very well find ourselves hearing me completely take back what I said before and singing Chase This Light's praises as the best JEW album ever. However, for right now I feel that Chase This Light should have been titled Singles: Vol. 2.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Finishing of a Book

I just finished reading a book (and I mean I just got off the pot having finished the conclusion as I, well. As I concluded other actions). It is Arthur Herman's How the Scots Invented the Modern World. I must say that I am fascinated by it. He makes some incredible points about the contribution Scotland and its minds have played in creating our current world. One complaint I had was that it didn't feel well supported (in the sense of showing me who said what or where he got his information from), but in the end I saw that he has a chapter by chapter run through of where to go for more information. I was very surprised to learn that Scotland has its own parliament again. I freely admit a deep bias for all things Scottish, and--it is because of that--I fear for the nation to rush too quickly into any sort of separation from the Union. While my heart would be so pleased to see Scotland become its own nation, I just hope that much prudence would be used in doing so. Herman had many great points about the benefits of the Union and the role that Scotland has played in politics for Great Britain as a whole. It is dangerous to fall too deeply into the role of bitterness and playing the victim. Scotland's failures and successes are their own, and it would do more harm than good to make England the scape-goat. having said all of that, I've never been to Scotland, and until reading this book, have always looked at England as the bad guy and Scotland as the victim. I can definitely understand any Scot feeling that way, too.

I am greatly inspired to learn more of the history of Scotland/Ireland/England/Wales and the formation of Great Britain. I'm also feeling deeply inspired to learn more of the ancient cultures that gave birth to all of these great nations.

A Little Clarification

As far as I can understand, the WGA are striking not just for higher payment, but also for a cut of the new markets for media distribution. There have been a ton of technological advancements since they last determined their contract that have opened up new revenue sources for the studios. Let's give an example: iTunes. From what I can gather, these writers (for such successful shows as 24, Lost, etc.) haven't been getting an appropriate cut (if any at all) from tv shows being sold on the internet. There were other sources that weren't specifically mentioned, but the point isn't how many sources are opening up; their contract needs to include all possible revenue sources. This blog is definitely biased towards the writers (mostly because I fancy myself one), but whether I was an actor, writer, or whoever--if I put my effort into a creative endeavor/project and someone else was making money off of it (even if they deserved to because they had put the initial money into it), and not sharing those profits, well... it's strike time.

I'll keep up with this as much as I can and let you know more as I come to understand it better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Some Levity

I'm not going ot bother laying down a bunch of ground work on the WGA strike. No, I think it's best that we just head straight into it. I'll let you sort it out with me.
I read two fantastic comments on a website called defamer.com (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Another site is giving a helpful run-down of how this strike will affect us viewers. Something that is still blowing my mind is the "alternative" viewing that we may see hit the tv screen, once the strike gets under foot. Episodes of Stouffer's Lean Cuisine tv? You have got to be kidding me. I'll try and wait to pass judgment, but... too late.

So, where does that leave us? It seems that either tv is going to import foreign programming (that is bound to be a huge success), we're going to have our favorite movies/tv shows written by scabs (which puts in danger the quality of our programming), we'll get re-runs (which will only potentially draw small audiences), or we'll see some new breakthrough in quality programming (i.e. commercials becoming the most entertaining things on tv--said in a non-sarcastic way, but without any hint of believing it will work).

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Screen Writing

Well. I have to somehow make this brief. Today, Matt told me about the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) going on strike (scheduled for November 1st--the day after their contract expires). I have been perusing the intraweb all day long reading about it. Frankly, I'm fascinated.
However, this blog post isn't about that; while searching and reading, I stumbled upon a fantastic site for aspiring screen writers (like me). Wordplay. Read the introduction. Read the Welcome. Read the columns. I only made it to the second before I felt the need to come write about it. I find it very fascinating in the best of ways. Does it have the potential to become formulaic? Well, sure. In fact, that is probably my favorite part about it: it's honesty about what it is actually providing. After making it through the first two columns, I feel greatly inspired to spend more time getting these stories in my head on paper (perhaps more literally on my compy).
I'll be mentioning the writer's strike soon enough. Never you mind. This felt more important, though. This is my passion: writing. It is so refreshing to find materials that are conducive to that frame of mind.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Best Day Ever (Or At Least Pretty Close)

Saturday: almost best day ever. It started off with a little soccer action. My nephew's team did lose, but it was still highly enjoyable watching the little tykes run amok. Then my wife and I went to Target and found the perfect little shelf (I'll be honest, I didn't really care as much about the shelf, but it made her happy so I felt good). After that, we went to a little show called The $250,000 Game Show Extravaganza Spectacular (or something along those lines. It's over at The Hilton, though). We went there more out of a desire to not get charged for reserving tickets and then not going, but it turned out to be fantastic fun. We were chosen to play in The Newlywed game and almost won it. As a consolation prize, we received two tickets to see Barry Manilow (which I immediately began to contemplate selling on Craig's List--it turns out that the cheapest seats cost over $80... not too shabby.). Then, as we re-entered the theater to see the last game, they were calling my raffle number. I ran up onto the stage and proceeded to choose the correct color (either black or red, and with much help from my wonderful wife) every time. It went like this: everyone would choose either black or red, and then the assistant would pick up the top card (from the giant deck of cards next to her). If it was a red suit and you had chosen red, you stayed; if you had chosen black you sat down. We kept playing rounds like these until I was the only one left standing. So, I go to play the final game--the chance to win $250,000 game. It was very difficult. There were twenty numbers to choose from (1-20). Each number had a secret dollar amount attached to it. If the dollar amounts from the three numbers you chose added up to $1,000 exactly, you won $250,000 and everyone in the audience won $100. Nice deal? That is statistically INCREDIBLY difficult. I didn't win, but I did get to keep the amount that my three numbers added up to. So, in the end, we won $860 and tickets to Barry Manilow.
Then, I got to watch DCU play, and even more excitingly, RSL beat COL winning, for the first time, the Rocky Mountain Cup and knocking COL out of the playoff race.
That night capped it all off: Jimmy Eat World.
It was an amazing show. They opted to not play a ton of songs from Chase This Light. I was glad. It always takes me a little bit to get into a new Jimmy cd, so I wasn't feeling very comfortable with the new stuff, yet (heck , it just came out Tuesday). Their set sounded fantastic, and they commented that we were the best crowd they've ever played for in Vegas. That isn't too hard to believe. Vegas usually sucks. I'm glad that we represented well, though.
The award for "Song I Wasn't Expecting To Blow Me Away Live, But Did" goes to "Disintegration". Matt agreed that it was his favorite moment from the show.
After the show, I commented to Sierra that JEW's guitar work is probably my favorite; they work with and against each other so perfectly. So, favorite guitarist awards go thus: favorite single guitarist - Mike Einziger (of Incubus). Favorite two guitarists - Jim and Tom (of Jimmy Eat World).
Sadly, we did miss Maritime. I found out that it is the new project of Davey and Dan from The Promise Ring. I'll be checking them out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What's New, Pussycat?

Well, it feels weird not being in my band. Tonight we are going to practice for our last show, but we haven't practiced for like 2-3 weeks, and I have been feeling off kilter. So much of my life has revolved around the band for so long. It is a little disorienting to not be doing it. It makes life feel... stagnant.

I'm going to be setting up a studio. I'll start simple. It will mainly be focused on recording acoustic guitar and vocals. I have too many past, current, and future songs that mean so much to me. I don't really like the thought of never recording them. So, I will do my best to learn how to record them in a quality manner for others to enjoy, also.
I'm going to try and see what I can do with Garage Band. I read somewhere that Thrice used Garage Band for The Alchemy Index. If it is good enough for them, then hey... who am I to think that I need something more.

If anyone has tips on recording techniques or equipment to get/avoid, I'm all ears.

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In other random news, Thursday will be releasing a cd/dvd entitled Kill The House Lights soon. I couldn't find a release date, but head over to their myspace to hear a new track from it.
They are coming to play at Jillian's on November 14th. Very exciting.

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Tuesday saw the release of the much anticipated The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II (Fire and Water). Fire was immediately enjoyable for me. It still felt very much like Thrice. Water has taken more time for me. I am glad to say that it is growing on me a lot now.
I read something interesting from Dustin, where he was talking about the sonnets from each EP. He said they are written from the perspective of the element. "The Flame Deluge" (Fire's sonnet) is fire's lament that humanity has twisted something so helpful and beneficial into a tool of war. "King's Upon the Main" (Water's sonnet) in the sea basically calling out man's pride--we are nothing compared to the power of the sea. Very interesting.

Tuesday also saw the release of Jimmy Eat World's Chase This Light, So far I am liking it, but, like all previous Jimmy cds, it always takes me a while to get really into it. I haven't had any of them hook me on the first listen. That is a good thing, as far as I am concerned. If the alternative is to have an album be immediately accessible and then get old... I'll take the album that makes me work to like it.

(this comes from Scotty and has no relevance at all to what was just discussed. I still liked it, though.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Story

I'm writing a short story for my creative writing workshop class. I'm really excited, but I am torn between the idea of writing a good one and saving my "good ones" for a different occasion than my classmates. Nothing against them. I think there is a part of me that is always a little scared that someone will steal one of my ideas.
Also, I have discovered that I get really attached to my stories. I spend so much time thinking about them that I grow to truly understand the characters and story, but... I also get too involved with them to feel comfortable telling their story. How strange is that? One of my stories that I was going to write, I quickly realized that it was too huge to do for a short story. It is a novel. Doing it as a short story doesn't do it justice. Anyway, my ranting all boils down to this: I just need to write a friggin' story and get a grade. I think I just need the experience of finally finishing a story, instead of outlining endlessly. It would feel good to finally get some of these millions of ideas and potential projects out and done with. Finishing Ned Tender was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had. I had finally finished one of my creative efforts and it was good. What a feeling. To use Toby's phrase, "I'm gonna chase that feeling."

Lost

It's time for Lost again. No, the show isn't back on, yet. I'm referring to Sierra and me finally getting around to finishing it (so she can be ready for the next season). We're currently on disc 5 of season 2. I have to say, this show has surpassed 24 in my book for awesome shows. This is in no way a denial of how awesome 24 is... I just feel like if I were to go out and buy the first season of either one of these shows, I would buy Lost.
I am absolutely fascinated by this show. The story is incredible. Every time a question gets answered, so many new ones are brought up. Even on the (as I like to call them) "filler episodes" (like Hurley's from Season 3), I'm still left ecstatic and in wonderment at what is going on. It is so successful at riding that very thin line between supernatural and scientifically sound.
Anyway, for anyone who hasn't gotten into this show and plans to--please do yourself a favor and start from the beginning. Don't think that starting from season two is acceptable. The journey of confusion/enlightenment as you learn the backs-stories of these characters is so enjoyable.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Farewell to my love...

Well, I guess I don't need to keep it under wraps anymore. I have officially quit Twenty Mule Team. It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. How do you just walk away from something that you love that much? I'm not going to go into any details on here, because it is a very spiritual and sacred thing for me and not something that I just want to toss out on the internet for all to see. I don't mind talking about it, though. Please don't feel awkward bringing it up in front of or with me.
I love Twenty Mule Team. I love what we were able to accomplish in our time together. Getting to know Alex and Steven the way I have has enriched my life tremendously. Matt, has been and still is one of my best friends and the honor to have played with those guys and written the music we did will forever be cherished.

I realize that this doesn't mean I won't ever write a song again, or even perform songs I've written. It is different, though. It is definitely different.

So thanks to everyone who showed us love and support throughout the years. Thanks to the guys for the wonderful memories. I wish you the best of luck and the Lord's blessings as you go down the path I can't tread. Hopefully, I will be able to somehow live vicariously through you and experience some of the joys of so great an adventure.

Thrice again

Here are the 8th and 9th videos for the Alchemy Index.

#8


#9

Mute Math in Reverse

These guys recorded their incredibly strange backwards performance of "Typical" again, but this time in front of a live studio audience on Jimmy Kimmel live. Well done, boys. It looks good.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Date with Your Family

Scotty, this one is for you. I refrained from posting all ten sections of The Puma Man.
I was sorely tempted.





Porcupine Racetrack

I tried to put this one up earlier, but I don't think I was able to find it. Either way, my heart tells me it is time for this to go up again.
This is a skit from an old comedy show (that I believe was on MTV) called The State. As I understand it, they currently have no plans for its release on dvd. Someday, mayhaps... someday...

Monday, October 01, 2007

A New cd

Well, thank you, Alex. You have tipped me off to great news. Radiohead will be releasing their new cd much earlier than anticipated. To order go here. You can order what they are calling a "music box" version. This is the regular album (a physical copy that they will ship to you on or before Dec. 3rd). If impatience is your name, or digital is your game, then you can order a digital version directly from them. That version will be available for download on October 10th.
How many bands on Earth could do this? They are releasing it independently, and I wish them the best of luck with that. I'm sure they won't need it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Results from the Radiohead Poll

Well, the results are in and the first era of Radiohead dominated over the second era. It received 75% of the votes from the four categories.
I should probably note that it was out of four votes, and one voted for "I don't like Radiohead" (darn you Alex and the way you hate things...).
I still love Radiohead. You can't bring me down, man.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Seventh

Here is Thrice's newest promo video for The Alchemy Index.

#7

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Sad Day...

For years, I have been telling people that The Carpenters' song "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" was broadcast out into space on World Contact Day. Well, according to Wikipedia (*see explanation of Wikipedia below), it is actually just a cover of a song written about the first World Contact Day (originally written by Klaatu and called "The Recognized Anthem for World Contact Day" in the hopes that if there was a second World Contact Day, the song would be the natural choice for the anthem). This is my formal apology to any that I have misinformed.

Hopefully this music video can make amends.

The Carpenters - "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft"


Explanation of Wikipedia (by Michael Scott)

The New Amsterdams

Today they released their new album - At the Foot of My Rival. For a short time, they are playing the whole cd on their myspace. It is a delightful album. I shall let it begin a new feature here on my blog, where I review albums (both old and new), and give them a rating. I won't give the review until the end of the month, though. I always need a good month with an album before I can fully decide how I feel about it (I'm a fickle man, I know...).

Here is one of their videos, though. Hopefully it will tide you over until I get the review up.

The New Amsterdams - "The Spoils of the Spoiled" (live on Letterman)

The Difference

I was thinking today about how much music I have listened to over the span of my life. Some of those songs/albums/bands have become permanent fixtures that are still the bands I list when people ask for my favorite bands. Others have had their heyday, but in time I moved on. It essentially divides into four groups for me:

- Timeless Music - Those bands/albums/songs that never grow old to me, and are consistently in my shuffle (even after however many years I've been listening to them. Easily identifiable by the fact that I will still rush out to buy their new releases). Ex. Jimmy Eat World
- Filler Music - The music that fills my life and shuffle for a time, but then eventually dies out (bands that I even considered my favorite or will always think of fondly, but cease to put in my group of all-time favorite bands. Also identifiable by the fact that I won't rush out to buy their new releases). Ex. Pearl Jam
- Other Peoples' Music - This doesn't mean "bad." In fact, quite often it is quite good. Yet, I don't seem to make any effort to go get a copy of my own. I'll most often hear it driving in someone else's car or on the radio. Ex. Relient K
- Crap Music - Self-explanatory. Music that I just don't like. (The fact that I have it on my computer doesn't mean anything; I keep a decent amount of Crap Music on my compy for comedic value). Ex. Baja Men's - "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

The reason I was thinking of this, is that I hope for my music to be Timeless Music. Writing music is such a strange balance of letting it be natural (and in that sense, letting it create itself), while still demanding that it be the very best that you can do. All song-writers have their own process for this, so I'm sure that many would argue against everything I'm saying. I don't care. I am so grateful for the music that is Timeless Music. It is the music that inspires me to write my own. Filler Music is also inspiring to me, but in a different way. My vain hope (although I try to think of it as pure) is that my music would touch someone else the way that countless other songs have touched me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Part 3

Boys and girls I really have been out of it. I forgot to keep you all updated on the Thrice - Alchemy Index Video Diary Blog/Promotional Video spots. (I need to figure out a shorter way to say that...). Here are the third and forth ones. Also (and in all of its "p.s." glory), they have put one song from each of the two first discs to be released on their myspace. Go and listen. They will numb your bottom with joy.

#3

#4

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Procrastination is a Minx

So, I had this excited debate all planned out for which is funnier: Flight of the Conchords, or Tenacious D. Here's the deal, I got married and went on a honeymoon and frankly lost interest in doing that piece. That, my friends, is the real danger of procrastination--it will suck the desire from you. The longer I put it off, the less exciting it became. So instead of the debate, I'm just gonna give the answer: they are both hilarious. One is high-energy and very offensive, the other is awkward and subtle. Pick your poison.

I also thought I'd put up a clip from Dimitri martin's stand-up (it's the one where he shows a pie-chart of procrastination that is empty and says, "I was gonna make a pie chart for procrastination, but..."). I couldn't find it. So instead, just enjoy his cameo in the season finale of Flight of the Conchords.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Setting Up the Debate

I don't have time to go into it today, so I thought I'd start us off with a video from each of the contenders. Tomorrow, we will go into a semi-deep discussion/debate on what these shows bring, how they are similar, how they are different, and which is better.

First: Flight of the Conchords - "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros"



Second: Tenacious D - "Wonder Boy"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thoughts on Radiohead

So, Alex was telling me that he has never been a big fan of Radiohead (sorry to call you out on this heavily trafficked blog Sir Alex. I hope the millions of letters and hate-mail you get don't overwhelm you). It got me wondering why music has such a polarizing effect; there are bands that I love, and other bands that I hate. The thing that really intrigues me is how we take it a step further sometimes. When someone else has a general liking of the bands I love, I feel better about that person. When someone's favorite band is ICP, I don't trust them. Very strange things we as humans do. It's like we need re-affirmation that our choices are correct, so we surround ourselves with people who think the way we do.

That tangent isn't why we're here, though. This is about Radiohead's polarizing effect on even its own fans. I was a HUGE Radiohead fan until Kid A. I just couldn't get it. It was so offbeat and weird and frankly, I wasn't ready for it. It took years for me to even go back and try. What finally did it was Pyramid Song (off of Amnesiac). It was so hauntingly beautiful. I listened to that track a few times and then decide to try Amnesiac. I quickly fell in love with that album and then both Kid A and Hail to the Thief. Now I can't decide whether I like their first three cds or the last three better. All six are excellent music, but the two eras are incredibly different from each other.

In the end, you gotta give credit to these guys for having the guts to go in a whole new direction at the cusp of their explosion and not just content themselves with riding the waves of their fame. It takes courage to trust your fans to stick with you when you grow out of your previous styles. You have to be willing to accept that some will drop off along the way, but that there will always be those who appreciate what you are trying to do.

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For fun let's do a poll (which can be found to the right).

To help, here are two videos. The first is from one of the first era, the second is from the second.

No Surprises


Pyramid Song

Monday, August 20, 2007

Excitement Is for the Birds

Let's talk for a moment about this year's album release that I am most excited about: The Alchemy Index, by Thrice. I mentioned earlier that it will be a four disc album (eventually) that deals with four over-arching themes: earth, water, air, and fire (one per disc). They found inspiration for what they did musically and lyrically from these themes (for example, the earth disc is predominantly acoustic guitar and shies away from electric guitars while the air disc uses a lot of ambiance to create moods). How cool is this idea? I'm not sure what spirituality they are planning on exploring in this disc (alchemy often carries certain connotations with spiritualism and darker themes, but isn't necessarily a "religious science").
In past discs, singer Dustin Kensrue has explored Christian themes as well as social issues as he observes them. I am impressed with the way he goes about it; he contemplates and then he shares his contemplations. I get really turned off by agendas. Whether it be in Christian Rock (which I generally don't enjoy--despite being a Christian--for this very reason) or left-winged political revolutionary anti-Bush stuff, if I feel like you are shoving your ideas down my throat, then I'm going to recoil and shut-off from wanting to listen. Many bands over the years have turned me off like this. Here are some examples: Creed, Rage Against the Machine, and Green Day. It's not always that they lyrically are "telling me what to do", but it is a feeling that their agenda becomes more important than their music.
So anyway, three cheers for the songwriter who can show trust in their listeners. Three cheers for a songwriter who has the strength to control themselves and say more by saying less.

Here are the first two installments of The Alchemy Index's promotional videos:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lyrics

We are moved in different ways by different mediums. Movies are the only art that have ever made me cry. Books suck me in like nothing else. I get incredibly involved in whatever world I am reading about and it is terribly exciting. I feel a part of it. Poetry can be fun and inspiring in a way I don't find as easily in other places. Yet, the medium I get the most obsessed with is music. Music takes me to emotional places I didn't know existed. It's is also the medium that I participate most heavily in. I am a writer and I write music. The others are side pursuits that I enjoy, but don't focus on. I wonder why that is?
I think part of the reason is the freedom I feel in music and lyric writing. There are definite structures in novel writing and film-making that are necessary and good. There are also structures in music that are generally followed, but there is so much freedom to experiment that those structures don't feel limiting at all. Poetry also has forms that are ignored and boundaries that are pushed, but often times I am left feeling jaded with the experimental poetry I come across. It feels strange for no other sake than to be strange. Somewhat pretentious I guess. With music I tend to feel like I'm free to work the lyrics in whatever way I want and can still have the music carry the piece. When I have solidified what I want a song to do musically, then I can toss words around wherever I want. If it isn't working then I can try them somewhere else. Then, the words will reshape the music. They feed off of each other in the most splendid ways.
Anyway, I was just thinking about that today.
Here is a clip of an experimental band whose works I cherish:
Radiohead - "Idioteque"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keepin It Clean

Galaxies above--
perfect heavens keeping peace.
Nature is order.



I am cleaning up my iTunes and my music folders on my compy at home. It is so nice to almost be done. I find it so amazing that organizing and cleaning actually relieves stress and helps you think and breathe more clearly. It is amazing to think that our spirits sense disorder and it wears at them. My poor little spirit... I guess I should have kept my room clean all those years.

In honor of my newfoundland appreciation of cleanliness and order, I give you its opposite (in song form): a volcano.

Damien Rice - "Volcano"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Musings

Wow. What a crazy past couple of weeks these have been. I won't try and fit it all into one post, so I'll just focus on one topic today: change in the music industry.
At Amplify, the manager for The Bravery was talking about a lunch meeting he had with The Smashing Pumpkins, and how they are thinking or recording material only to be released as singles. Instead of the old fashioned album, which we all have grown so accustomed to (and fallen in love with, for some of us), they would release a "single" with 1-3 songs on it. I can't say that I really understand the idea behind it. One thought is that less promotion would be needed? My guess is that the idea is to lower the costs of production and printing. Once again, I don't see how this will really help recover costs for the artists or the label, but... it's worth a try, no?
What I am excited for: Thrice's approach to changing the way albums are made. Thrice will be releasing a 4 disc album over about 6 months. The first two discs will be released together in October, and the other two around April (I believe).

Here is what I feel it will come down to:
An experience. The internet is making it incredibly easy for the masses to access songs and full albums for free. While this makes it increasingly harder for labels to rake in the cash of yesteryear, I don't see it as the "end" of the industry. The industry will go through changes. Those who have the creativity and foresight will rise to the occasion and provide a product that continues to entice consumers to pay for an album that they can hold, and smell, and appreciate on an artistic level.

I think we are going to see some real innovation in the immediate future and that excites me to be honest with you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

Megan showed me this on Friday and frankly, I'm hooked. What a great show.

Here is a clip from the first episode. It's their music video for "Humans Are Dead."