Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm Never Bored Part 1: Von Karajan


I'm never bored.

There's not enough time in the world for me to see, read, experience, and visit all that there is to offer in this world.

Who has time to be bored?

Let me tell you that Tchaikovsky's Overture of 1812 was the rock n' roll of their time kids. And Herbert Von Karajan is one helluva composer.

Music is probably my first love, my first passion in this world. I first heard Von Karajan's Overture of 1812 when I checked it out of the local library - on vinyl of course - when I was 16. It changed me. As most influences do, and lord I have a slew of them, I embraced the melody, the passion, the roller coaster ride that classical has to offer.

Where do you think Queen, Metallica, Ennio Morricone, and the like received some of their inspiration?

I would have liked to have shaked Von Karajan's hand, and thanked him. Just once.

I did meet Pavarotti once... but that's a story for another day.

I'm never bored.


Here's more Von Karajan youtube mix that is gorgeous.




Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Remember Being King

 

THE KINGS OF SUMMER is one of those joys you sometimes run across in film that reminds you of the passion of your own young summers. The video I've posted is not a trailer but a scene from the film that is one of my favorite moments. The exuberance of being young is what this scene is all about: letting it all hang out. Something we all remember and should never forget. 


Like STAND BY ME, and others like it, we follow a group of young men who are trying to find themselves and discover some independence in the world. These fellows, each for reasons of their own, find a place in the forest, build their "fort" from scavenging construction sites, and then begin a journey of living together off the fat of the land.Sort of.

There's also the fact that their parents are looking for them. Whoa boy.

If you watch THE KINGS OF SUMMER then this scene will mean much more as you discover the personality of these characters, especially the "dancer" Belagio. Hilarious odd young man who really makes this story. A wonderful, delightful story and a nice surprise.




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

High Tech, Low Life - A Review


"I used to be a nobody. Until I discovered the internet." - Zola

"We can't let news be one-sided." - Tiger Temple

For a US citizen, such as myself, I found this film incredibly insightful about the Chinese way of life, and often the brain washing they endure in their day-to-day life.


If you don't know it's brain washing then how do you know to wake up?

We often hear about how the Chinese government keeps their people down and this film gives you an idea how and what they do. 

I personally had to block all of China from accessing my bookstore sites because of the hacking problems we were experiencing. If the Chinese can hack my site, the young people in China are certainly going to find a way through and out of their own internet constrictions put on by the government. 

Facebook is not available to the Chinese. Lord knows there would be an uprising if the people could talk amongst themselves. It's a world I can't imagine living in.

This film is about 2 bloggers, Tiger Temple who is in his 50's, and Zola who is in his 20's, and it's enlightening to see what power they can wield with their blog and even their twitter accounts - from their phones. There are a lot of scenes that are obviously done undercover, especially the scene where they took Tiger Temple away in the middle of the night and kept him away from his home for ten days. Disturbing but these bloggers are making a difference and getting the word out. Zola reported that over a half million sites were blocked from China one year. China boasts over 40,000 internet police alone.

I hate to tell 'em... but that's not enough.


Actually I'm surprised the film was made given what the bloggers have to go through. A lot of intimidation is used, but no real violence is initiated from what they showed us. Is it possible that the Chinese government knows they can't truly control the information? That if they did indeed begin to take action that it would be condemned world wide?

I think they are intimidated by this. 

With the internet so many people can have a voice. Now with the current phone technology you practically don't need a computer (although my big fingers certainly aren't good in the texting department).

An amazing film by Stephen Maing and his crew. I applaud them for what they've accomplished here by getting the word, and pictures, out to us.


We're all lemmings to some degree, but as US Citizens we have a whole lot more opportunities to make a difference in our way of life within the confines of our country. We truly do have a lot of choices. A lot to be thankful for.

There are so many in China, it's not easy to live, much less have an individual voice.

Zola and Tiger Temple have found ways to keep reporting on what they see in their country. To help the common people who don't have a voice, and bring change to areas and individuals that are in dire need.

This film reminds me of how fortunate I am, we are, to have so many freedoms. I know I take them for granted. How can I not? It's been my whole way of life. 

Seeing HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE, truly opens my eyes once again to appreciate this.

Now where's my cat?

Dave

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Round... of Applause for Simon Pegg and the Lads in THE WORLD'S END

THE WORLD'S END film opened in the US today.

My son and I were there at the theater, right after school. It was imperative that we revisit with this fine film making troupe as they don't churn them out as fast as say, an Adam Sandler production.
This is a good thing.

 

I enjoy some of Sandler's films. However a film by Edgar Wright is usually a guaranteed laugh with well thought out writing and characterization brought to each of his projects.

Throw Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the mix and you have comedic magic my friends.

Brought to you by the fine fellows that brought us the amazingly, well written, humorously acted, thought out film, SHAUN OF THE DEAD (a second player has entered the game...), a decade ago. Now we have their third (and supposedly last.. at least for a while) trilogy of films. They also brought us HOT FUZZ in the middle, which again I thought was hilarious and spot on.

These films are directed by Edgar Wright, written and co-written with actor Simon Pegg, and co-star Nick Frost. Since SHAUN OF THE DEAD made it's debut every one of these gentlemen have gone on to star, write, and direct in many movies and projects.

However it's their combined talent in their own projects that I find the most enjoyable.

I'd dare say you couldn't find a more unique comedic horror film in the last twenty years than SHAUN OF THE DEAD. There, I've done it again, I've already written the title out 3 times in this review and I'm here to talk about their new film THE WORLD'S END. Don't worry.. I'll get there.

If you haven't seen SHAUN OF THE DEAD then rush out to your Red Box, turn on your Netflix account, or better yet, I bet you can find it for five bucks in the DVD bins at Wal Mart. If you're a fan of zombie horror and comedy, then this is for you.

Go ahead and pull it out of the bin and watch it. I'll wait.

Okay.. seen it? Got it? Get it? Good!

Okay.. now play "This Corrosion" by Sisters of Mercy as you read the rest of this column. It'll set the mood.

THE WORLD'S END takes it's que from the English culture of the "pub crawl." Where, in England, you can easily walk to many pubs ( or rather stumble depending on how many you can get too after having a few ), as these social enclaves can be found on many corners of civilization in that part of the world. I've always liked the fact that no matter where you live in the UK, there's usually a local pub you can walk too, plop down your quid and order pint. It's just a walk away. As a matter of fact I got lost once in the English countryside trying to find a pay phone. Nothing around except a residential area filled with homes, but wait, there, on the corner.. ? Yep, a pub. No pay phone mind you, but I had them pull me a pint anyway. Hey.. I worked hard to find that non pay phone.

But I digress. Back to the film.

The leader of the pack, Simon Pegg as Gary King, gets his buddies back together, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and fellows as they go back and revisit the early days of  their 20's youth. In this case going back to finish their Golden Mile pub crawl that they didn't complete one long pint filled night. They travel through twelve pubs, a pint in each pub, as long as it takes.

They didn't make it. That time.

Fast forward twenty years, and their now very adult led lives later, the self proclaimed Gary "the" King and leader of the lads brings them back together to attain the final "grail of the lost ales."

Gary, who clearly is not of the "grown ups" variety, manages to pull his crew back together by shear conniving as his old friends clearly do not want to partake in Gary's crazy idea, but fall for it anyway. As they make it to their old town of Newton Haven, they begin their trek to make it this time, all the way to the last pub, The World's End.

As you take the trek with King's crew you begin to see the stories emerge, pub by pub, pint by pint, between them. Clearly they all see that Gary, the one-time leader of the pack, who they looked up too, has not fared very well in life. In fact he has problems aplenty and now he's trying to overcome this moment in his past that he feels may have put him on the wrong path. With himself and with his friends. Along the "Golden Mile" the guys run into a bit of trouble when they stumble upon an alien invasion. In the pub bathroom mind you.

The music selection is fantastic, but then I'm always in a mindset of the 70's, 80's and the 90's. They give a particular nod to Sisters of Mercy in this film. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Sisters of Mercy t-shirts are seen at Cons all over the world this fall. I'm sure the band would appreciate this.

Look, do yourself a favor and see THE WORLD'S END, I promise you you'll have a fun evening and laugh in spite of yourself. Intelligent and silly humor abounds, which for me made it all the more enjoyable. I also got to spend another 2 hours with some of my favorite filmmakers from the last decade. I happily plied down my cash to see this film on opening day. I especially was glad to take my son to see the antics. This is what we call "boy time" as mom usually isn't interested in these flicks.

And I'll just repeat what my son said about the lads: "Pop, I enjoyed the group of friends, they had heart." They did indeed.

I would have gone out to our local pub except... my boy's seventeen.

I see a pub crawl in our future then.

In four years that is.

Y'all keep on shining out there.

Dave



Friday, April 26, 2013

Irwin Allen: A Time of the TV Giants

What Irwin Allen did for television in the 60's and 70's is what J.J. Abrahms is doing for the this format today: making entertainment fun and interesting.



And it's sites like these that amaze me:
IRWIN  ALLEN  NEWS  NETWORK 




IANN is everything you need to know about Irwin Allen and his entertaining shows. Well... entertaining when I was growing up :-).

Watching LAND OF THE GIANTS first season now, and with a different eye than when I was a wee lad, but fun all the same. My teenager is actually showing some interest in it as well. The massive sets that were built for this show are amazing for their time. No CGI in these shows, just basic film ingenuity with film angles and making the best of what was available at the time.

This IANN website has information that would make the IMDB microprocessor spin out of control. Everything from Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and other Allen productions. From actors, episodes, dates, current news on the shows, convention appearances, pictures (past and present) music - you name it - you can probably find out what you need here.

If you've never heard of some of these shows, then just give them a shot and have fun with the funky sets, the so-so acting, and the over-the-top music. These were some fun fantasy and science fiction shows in my time and I think they're still great today. They certainly helped shape what is currently being produced for the boob tube these days.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ob-La-Dee, Ob-la-Daa

Took the family to see OBLIVION today. Enjoyed it.

Good futuristic mystery / thriller. Good action and I didn't want to leave my seat to re-fill my drink... and give some back (I needed to give some back however).


    Well, the men here enjoyed it. The ladies were very confused. I don't think this was a gender thang, I just think Trey and I are wired for this futuristic ideology. That said I think anyone who can keep up with what's going on will appreciate what the filmmakers have delivered.

   It's not that it's necessarily original, but I was thoroughly
intrigued. It sucked me in as there was obviously a lot more to this story than met the eye. Once you take in the history of what happened, to a devastated Earth after an invasion, you begin to wonder what's really going on.

   Jack and Victoria live off world nearby to help maintain the machines that's converting water into energy. This will help what's left of humanity live, which is on the Titan moon, one of Jupiter's satellites. The duo work and live together in an amazing, but basically sterile, floating domicile. Victoria stays at "home" and manages and communicates with "Mission," while Jack takes his space vehicle to maintain any issues that come up on the Earth below.


   There are "Scavs" which are not quite explained to us - in the beginning at least - that will attack certain areas on Earth, drones (who help maintain security, etc.) and this seems to be the only lot that Jack  has to deal with.

That and his dreams.


   Jack has these dreams that seem to creep in every so often. He doesn't seem to share them with Victoria, who is not only his partner in this venture, but his companion. The dreams feature another woman you see, which appear to have a romantic connotation. He seems confused by the recurring dreams, almost as if they're real. 

   All hell breaks loose when one of the water machines meets an untimely fate, and Jack and Victoria are thrown into a moment of real crisis with "Mission." An old earth satellite crashes down, and people, "live" people, are discovered within the wreckage. Not only is the Earth supposed to be uninhabited, but now it's growing in numbers - from the sky!

   There's a lot going on here, and I don't want to give anymore away. I enjoyed it. Yes, there are holes in the script, but with scenarios, especially with science fiction scenarios like this, you have to suspend some belief and go with the flow. This is one of the better of these "holey" films, but it's going to have its mixed reviews for sure. 

   I grabbed on and enjoyed the ride - thoroughly. I hope you will too. If you like a good mystery, then you'll enjoy watching this one unfold. You'll figure out some of it, and those moments are fun, but mostly it's just plop your butt down and let them take you by the hand and eat the salted corn in yer lap.

Those are my favorite. 

In honor of Roger Ebert's passing, I give this one a Thumb's Up!



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Too Extreme?

One of the best albums produced in the early 90's was the ill-fated

THREE SIDES TO EVERY STORY by EXTREME.


Never heard of it?  Don't be surprised. 

Except for the die-hard fans, not many did. 

What a shame too as it truly is one of the most amazing albums I've ever had the pleasure to listen to, over and over again. I actually worked this record when I was at Polygram Records and let's face it, by writing this piece, I'm still promoting it.

The writing, singing, the many changes made throughout this album shows an insight and strength to song writing and production. it's now over two decades later and I still enjoy listening to this, dare I say... yes, a masterpiece. 


This was Extreme's third album, and it was the followup to the hugely successful "Pornograffiti," their second album, which features the massive airplay hit "More than Words."

The first time I met Extreme, Gary, Nuno, Pat, and Paul, we all ended up playing tug-of-war over someone's recent acquisition of the newly popular Gameboy. They were on tour for the recently released "Pornograffiti" and it wasn't a success... yet. We as a company purposely held back on promoting "More Than Words" - we knew it was going to be huge - so the band hadn't broken the "hit barrier" just yet. We promoted to their rock audience first before we released the pop ballad. So here we were at a restaurant, The Country Place, in Colony Square here in Atlanta, and they were passing the Gameboy around the table. It was the first time I ever played "Tetris." It was addictive
and everyone was fighting for a turn. Who needed food? We had the Gameboy man


There is also a story of a woman, a Harley, and both of them riding down the hallway of the hotel room...

.. but I digress.. let's get back to "my side" of "Three Sides to Every Story." It would have been of interest to me to talk to them at length about this album, find out where the inspiration for this wonderful collection of songs and just where did this phase came from? It received positive response from some fans and critics, and also confusion from the same lot. This was understood as it was a different direction, and experimental to some degree.

This release, their third album, came at a time when the music was changing course with the "grunge" sound that was beginning to take over. This album appears to have gotten lost in the new atmosphere of radio. Again, it was still very different from a mainstream release so I'm not sure it would really have gained any foothold in radio anyway. I know it was a courageous  effort for them to release this album. It was not an easy sell. Wikipedia reports that it sold 700,000 albums. As the previous album sold 2 million, it's easy to attribute some of this popularity for "Three.." to fans who were collected during that sophmore run in "Pornograffiti." I'm a bit surprised that it even made it to gold status (500,000) given this very different direction.

Out of all three Extreme albums at the time, I think "Three..." is a perfect album, and Extreme's best. I liken this release to KISS's "The Elder" which was quite a different album for them, experimental, and here again it's my favorite KISS album. I won't go into it here, as I'm sure I'll have more to say about the "The Elder" at another time, but these two experimental albums both achieved clarity and substance that these bands other albums never even got close too.

The best
way to show you this is to have you listen to the album, but for now here is a piece "Everything Under the Sun (all 3 parts),"  that will give you an idea of what this album is made of:

Greatness in rock n' roll.

Play the above piece and let me know what you think.


Enjoy.


~  Dave