Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reflections on a Rainy Wednesday

One of my closest friends is an entertainment lawyer in Hollywood. He moved down there a few years ago, and has been steadily progressing up the Hollywood ladder. He recently went through a one year screen writing program at UCLA.

In a 30 week program, the class produced their first script in 20 weeks, then a second script in 10 weeks. For the second script, he brought me on board to collaborate.

We are just about done with the script. When we finish, we have some folks ready to take a look at it. We based the story on the Renegades, and their rise from obscure little band to national sensation. The process of creating the story has been wonderful.

Over the past year, I have realized that the one thing that really gets me going is the creative process. Creating a show, a script, or a concert - these things make me happy.

But how to pay the bills? That's the tough part.

When I figure THAT out, it will be a wonderful day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movie List for 2007

Here is a list of movies I saw in 2007. More than ever, I disagreed with movie critics. One of their favorite movies, No Country For Old Men, irritated me so much that I wanted to walk out - something I have only done twice. The first time was in the 80s - a truly awful sci-fi film based on the classic Isaac Asimov short story, Nightfall. The second was a version of King Arthur that came out a couple of years ago. My friend Roland and I were about to leave when the film broke, giving us a great excuse to leave and ask for our money back.

Anyhow - here is my list for 2007:




Across the Universe


Knocked Up


Hot Fuzz




Charlie Wilson’s War






Bourne Ultimatum




Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix






Live Free or Die Hard




Simpsons Movie




Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End


Ocean’s Thirteen


The Namesake


Blades of Glory


Spiderman 3


Ghost Rider


Shrek 3


Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer


Wild Hogs


No Country for Old Men

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

In honor of the Rose Parade, I am posting a review I wrote a few years ago...

On December 27th, 2003, I decided to go to the Rose Parade. Went on eBay and bought tickets in the grandstands at 155 Orange Grove (near the start of the Parade).

The parade starts at 8am, but you have to be there before they close down the streets - so we got there at 4:30am and parked. Then slept for a couple of hours in the car. I woke up at 7am and heard a strange sound - musicians warming up in minor thirds. I thought to myself, "it couldn't be..."

But it was.

I got out of the car and took two steps and saw the Vanguard buses and heard the horns warming up on their combination of Bb and G horns. Said hello to George Brown, director of the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets, who looked extremely spiffy in his SCV Director outfit.

I was so excited I went right over and stood in front of the horn line. Scott Pierson (who was the main man putting the hornline together) popped out of the line to say hello. There were so many old friends there that I did not see them all, as I was interrupting their warmup. I waved to Renegade Contrabass Rich Skare (who was playing soprano for this performance) and to many other pals - like John Bermudez, who flew in from the East Coast for the gig.

But I was so excited; I missed seeing many of the Renegades folks. So to all the Renegades past and present that were there - you guys were awesome!

I had to get out of there because Tim Andriese (former Bari, DM and Brass staffer) was giving me that icy SCV glare (well, I WAS interrupting his warmup). So I headed to the grandstands, found my seat, and watched things get started. My seat was in the middle of about 1,000 extremely hyped Michigan fans. They were great folks to hang out with.

The first band in the parade was the U.S. Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band. They warmed up and played an impromptu concert to the many appreciative folks in the stands. Nothing like a little Semper Fidelis to wake you up!!

The parade started right on time, and soon enough, SCV was heard coming down the street playing "If You Believe". I have to tell you - it got me. I started tearing up, and had trouble speaking.

SCV looked great and sounded even better. I was able to hear them play all three tunes - If You Believe, Henry V and Procession of the Nobles. It was great. BIG sound - nice and full. In tune with a great quality. Drums had the sound that only drum corps seem to have.

They were the only unit in the parade with rifles - and it added a nice touch to the look of the guard. The horns and drums had plenty of what looked like current members. I didn't really get a chance to count, but in looking at the pictures, seems like there were about 125 brass. Drum line looked like a good sized line fronted by 13 snares.

The flags followed up, looking beautiful and clean. It may have been me, but the guard looked like they were mostly Alumni. All in all a marvelous showing - exactly what you would expect from the Vanguard.

It was over far too quickly! Thanks so much to the SCV organization for representing us with style and grace.

There were many other highlights - including...

A flyover by the Stealth Bomber. How cool is that!! Everyone in the place was stunned.

Riverside City College. Wow. Easily the best band in the Parade, and that is saying a lot. Better than Michigan State, and they have a reputation for being the best there is!

The floats - they look great on TV, but are overwhelming in person - so beautiful. Had a chance to get up close and touch them - the detail is simply amazing.

The guy cleaning up horse manure was a show in himself. Talk about pride in your work - he had more moves than Cavies' guard!! Absolutely hilarious.

As far as the bands, they were all excellent. There were two or three HS bands that kicked my butt with their sound - even one with a Steel Drum section!!. The best were:
- Columbus North High School "Sound of North", Columbus, Indiana
- Owasso High School, Pride of Owasso Marching Band, Owasso, Oklahoma
- Central-Carroll High School Band "Marching Pride", Carrollton, Georgia
NOTE: I listen for brass player stuff - good playing is tops with me. But I repeat - all the bands were great.

There was a band from Mexico that was really good - great hats. I didn't even know they had marching bands!

Most entertaining band? A toss-up between Michigan (who were walking cheerleaders) and the LA Unified Honor Band playing the music of Jennifer Lopez and chanting - they ruled.

The most surprising thing was how much fun it was to watch the parade - I highly recommend it. With a theme of Music, Music, Music, the 2004 Tournament of Roses Parade was definitely the place for me on New Year's Day.

If you can ever swing it, go to this parade someday - you'll love it.