February 26, 2008

Calling All Helicopter Pilots!!

I came across this site today, and am addicted. So like most addicts, I am attempting to get all my friends involved too so I don't feel like an outsider (heh heh...okay, bad comparison). Click the link and have fun!


February 25, 2008

And the Oscar Goes To...

I just wanted to voice my happiness at seeing Javier Bardem win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor last night for his chilling role as Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. As far as memorable performances of the year go, Bardem's was by far the most memorable, or recognizable for that matter. You mention his name, and most people, even those who have yet to see NO COUNTRY will know 2 things: #1) What movie he was in, and #2) What his character looks like (especially the awesome hairdo). And that, to me, has memorable written all over it. Nice work, Mr. Bardem.

"What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?

February 23, 2008

Kanye West Meets The Muppets?

I was listening to the radio the other day (101.9 FM KENZ), and heard a mashup that I won't soon forget. It's a tight mix of Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and the Muppets' tune "Manah Manah." Let me tell you, Kanye never sounded so good! I checked 101.9's website, but couldn't find anything there. Then I found a link to it on www.murkywords.com, and thank goodness I did, because it is genius. Have a listen, and crank up the volume while you're at it. If you're like me, you'll be singing it all day.



Artists in the Family

I wanted to take a second to spread the word about a Utah artist who, in my opinion, is really good. Brian Winget specializes in oil and acrylic paintings, and has a gift for landscapes. He is also known in Utah Valley for his murals, which he used to paint inside people's homes (i.e. bedrooms, kitchens, etc.). He is currently working on a curriculum for teaching painting to teens, which will begin in April. Here are some of my favorite pieces: (click the pics for a larger view)

Brook Grove

Morning Dew

Morning Walk

Salem Sunset

Summer Cabin

You can see more of his work at www.BrianWingetArt.com. And if you like what you see, be sure to tell him (click on the "Contact Us" link at the top of his web page).

Mr. Director's CD Review #1

This Week's Review: "INTO THE WILD" Motion Picture Soundtrack, by Eddie Vedder
* * * 1/2 (out of * * * *)

As winter drags on, and on, and on, I find myself listening to a lot of music that reminds me of the warm sunny days of my childhood summers. Stuff like "SUMMER'S END" by Foo Fighters, or "SILVER LINING" by Upstanding Youth (check out www.upstandingyouth.com)...the stuff that warms me from inside out, so to speak.

During my musical explorations, a friend of mine lent me a copy of Eddie Vedder's latest album, the original motion picture soundtrack to the film "INTO THE WILD." Being an Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam fan I eagerly received the album and began to listen to each track just like I would to any other of his albums. It was great stuff. But about half way through track #7 I remembered that this wasn't just some solid rock album...it was a movie soundtrack! There are filmed images--cinematic expressions, so to speak--that accompanied these tunes, and I had been approaching it all wrong. So I stopped the disc and went back to track #1, "SETTING FORTH" and listened with my film-score ears. The result: WOW. I haven't even seen the movie (it's on my request list at the library...) but I could FEEL the images as if they were playing inside me; the angry teen, the misunderstood parents, the wide-open American frontiers, the complex adolescent relationships between boys and girls...they were all there, in the music.

Vedder's "WILD" soundtrack could be categorized as a rock album, with only one instrumental track (well, two if you count Vedder's howling on "THE WOLF" as instrumental). It debuted at no. 11 on the US Billboard 200 charts as a rock album, and the song "GUARANTEED" (which, along with "HARD SUN," is one of my favorites) was nominated for a 2008 Grammy award.

Sean Penn ("WILD" director) picked Vedder to provide the songs for the film, and most of the tracks on the album do appear in the movie. Composer Michael Brook (who scored the films "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Who Killed the Electric Car") is credited as composer of the orchestral score for "WILD," but I think the prize goes to Vedder, who was able to pair lyrical melodies with a visual story to create an album that both holds its own as a rock record while reinforcing the story's 3-act structure. What the heck does that mean? Track 1 ("SETTING FORTH") gets the story rolling with an upbeat jam that describes the hero's resolve to abandon his world to journey into the universe...

Be it no concern
Point of no return
Go foward in reverse

This I will recall
Everytime I fall

Setting forth in the universe

Act 2 really gets under way by track 3 ("FAR BEHIND"); the upbeat and happy-sounding guitar/drum rhythyms implying a sense of freedom and excitement that accompanies changes in life. Then it gets darker and more complex as Act 2 moves past the epic-sounding "HARD SUN" and into track 9 ("THE WOLF"). And just when it sounds like the protagonist will be consumed by loneliness and pain, he reaches a redemptive "END OF THE ROAD" to his journey into the wild:

I won't be the last
I won't be the first
Find a way to where the sky meets the earth
It's all right and all wrong
For me it begins at the end of the road
We come and go...

I really like this album. It's a great bridge between orchestral scores and guitar-driven rock melodies, and like the best of both of those, is able to tell a visual story through music alone. Definitely worth a listen (or two).

Thanks to www.lyricsmania.com for the lyrics.

February 12, 2008

Even Famous People Check Their Email...

About a month ago, I was really aching for a good story that I could adapt into a screenplay and eventually produce as a short film. It's common for me to read books, magazine articles, short stories, etc. and immediately start to mentally shoot their cinematic versions in my head. I'm a filmmaker at heart...it's what I do. During this time I had been reading a series of books by one of my favorite authors, and nearly everything of his that I've read would make a great movie.

So, whilst hankering for a new story, an idea popped into my head: why not email this author (the one I had been reading) and ask him if he would be O.K. with me adapting one or two of his shorter works into film? The worse that cold happen is that he'd say no, or just not reply at all. At best, however, he might (just might) say "Sure, pal, which story do you wanna do?"

With a quick Google search, I found an email address for him that looked legitimate, copied it into my email, and proceeded to write him a lengthy message about who I was, what my interests in film were, how much I loved his work, and so on. After a sufficient introduction (and careful wording...I didn't want him thinking I was some kind of fanatic stalker or anything; you know how it is when you're talking to a celebrity), I straight-up asked him my question: "How do you feel about somebody like me adapting one of your works into a short film?" And that was it.

30 minutes passed before I received a reply from the man himself. 30 minutes! He basically said "Sure, pal, which story do you wanna do?" No joke. He was friendly, he was appreciative of my praise for his writings, and he was more than approachable. I emailed him right back, told him of a few stories I liked. He replied again (same day), and said he'd mail me his collected short works (actual bound copies), just to be sure I had them to read! 2 weeks later, I got a box in the mail with 3 books, free of charge, and have been reading through them ever since. Just so you all know, I am almost done with the second of the 3 books, and I have a running list of 5 stories that I am considering for adaptations.

What's the moral to my tale? Even famous people check their email. Whether or not they respond to everything they get, that's a different story. I was lucky to get such a speedy reply (or any reply for that matter). But I had a valid question, I went about it in a professional manner, and I didn't say anything that would allude to my insanity (just kidding). No, really, celebrities are real people, and I bet most of them would LOVE to be treated like normal folk, even in their emails.

If you have a valid question for a celebrity, I think email is a great way to get your voice heard. Just keep a few things in mind:

1. Be yourself. Don't let your nervousness lead you to write stupid things that if said in person would get you a punch to the face.

2. Keep it brief. They may check their email, but they're pretty busy and won't want to read an essay (like this one I'm writing here...they'd NEVER read this; It's way too long).

3. Spell check. Trust me, it makes a difference.

4. Thank them for...Their time. Their influence in your life. Their sense of humor. Their cause. Whatever it is that has had an impact on you in your life. Be genuine. Don't be a kiss-a**.

5. Leave enough contact info for them to #1) be able to get back to you, and #2) feel assured that you aren't some freaky psycho hiding behind some alpha-numeric screen pseudonym.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes. I've had similar success with TV/movie producers, writers, a film actor, and my buddy Marc (who isn't a celebrity, but pretends he is).

February 11, 2008

Anybody ever heard of...

Since I started working at the library, I have been exposed to a wide array of new music, mostly by artists I've never heard of before. I try to listen to 2 or 3 new albums each day, and if I like it I will recommend it to people I know. Now that I'm a blogger (heh heh...and a geek), I figured I'd post my music recommendations here for you all to enjoy. Feel free to comment on this blog with recommends of your own.

Today's recommendations:
"Mezzanine" by Massive Attack
"Belmondo" by Japancakes
"Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace" by Foo Fighters
"The Campfire Headphase" by Boards of Canada
and if you can find it...
"Tango Saloon" by Tango Saloon

Foo Fighters is nothing new for me. I just wanted to plug their new album, as it is one of their best to-date. Check out the video for "The Pretender" from that very album here:


Welcome to the madness!

Blogs these days are a dime a dozen, so my addition of a blog is no big deal for the blogging world. That isn't to say that I'm not excited about this new blog. It seems that I've always got something to say about nearly everything, and now I finally have a venue for my views; a canvas on which I might paint my pictures of thought. Whether or not any of what I write here is relevant to the world in which you're living, I can't say. My only hope is that amidst the madness you discover something here that makes your visit worthwhile. If by chance you find yourself entertained, educated, or even outraged by one these posts, remember: like Steinbeck said, "No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself."

With all that said, Welcome to my Method of Madness!