20 January 2006

UPDATE: tagging

Last week I got tagged by Julie O with the task of continuing Fun Joel's movie-related meme-poll. (Those with a lot of curiousity or very little to do can see my responses here.

At the time I didn't tag anyone to continue the thread, assuming (defensibly, IMO) that if a meme had already sunk to me then clearly it has well and fully run its course, but apparently I spoke too soon, as no sooner had I forgotten about this entire topic than Craig Mazin got dragged into the mosh-pit to answer the questions over on his usually-intelligent Artful Writer site, where Thomas Crymes spoke up perhaps a little too clearly wanting to know 'What's this meme thing all about?"

Well, Thomas, now you're tagged, so you can learn by doing.

And Susan, since you apparently have nothing to do, you can play, too.


18 January 2006

Tagged again: TV Themes

Continuing in the recent "you're it" game of meme-taggery, I've been charged by "friend" Julie.O with naming a list of Ten Greatest American TV Themes, a blog-meme stirred up (I think...) by Michael Starrbury over at Apartment Two.

Now, I'd ALREADY posted these themes on Michael's original blog, but of course news travels slow over the jungles drums of the internet, so I got tagged to post the list on MY blog before Julie realized this post was already posted on Michael's post before she posted about Michael's post and tagged me to post on mine.

Which I already have. Had.





Come on—admit it: when this theme cranks, you smile. When the Ventures play it, you smile. When Maynard Ferguson screams it, you smile. I'm pretty sure that this unavoidable reflex reaction has been used as a field test for brain activity. Someone lay injured, and the medic hummed the opening notes to the Five-O theme, and the lips formed a smile, and proof of at least minimal mental function was thus proven.

How cool is this one? SO cool that The Blues Brothers -- the Blues Brothers! -- played this theme not once but TWICE in their movie (in the key of A, no less-- a good country key). I think it says something when a show's theme is far more well-known than the show itself (see also: Peter Gunn).

There was a point in my life when this show was probably my most watched TV product. Not because it was that great (though it was great) but more because it came on at 4 o'clock every day when I walked in from school. That first blatty belch of trombones is still one of the coolest sounds I have ever heard.

Jesus H Christ on a cracker, people -- how can this one NOT be on every damned one of these lists? I was (briefly) enrolled at the Air Force Academy (don't ask -- some things are just too damned weird and complicated to explain via text only), and our squadron (COOOOOOOBRA SQUADRON!) had this wingnut commander who insisted that we "jodey" (that sing song marching thing) to different fare than all the other squadrons, so whenever we marched or double-timed, we'd be barking out TV theme songs. All the othjer squadrons would pass the review stand braying "I WANNA BE AN AIR FORCE PILOT" or "I DON'T KNOW BUT I BEEN TOLD...", and then COOOOOOOOBRA Squadron would bee-bop past whistling the "Bridge Over The River Kwai" theme or singing THE FLINTSTONES or (most often) GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Oddly, that was one of the few Academy moments in which I felt normal and at-home.

Everybody lip-sync along now: "Come On Get Happy!" Yeah, yeah, "I Think I Love You" remains a far cooler song, but dammit we play the cards we get dealt, and they dealt us Come On Get Happy as the theme, so that's what we got. And it's a damned good theme, even today.

Start humming this and tell me that you don't immediately picture Rob Petry either tumbling over the ottoman *or* adroitly side-stepping the ottoman at the last minute as everyone THINKS he's about to go tumbling over the ottoman. And then realize that this theme is from 45 years ago. (ditto the "I Love Lucy" theme, but at this stage Lucy has as many mad props as any TV star ever is likely to get, so let's spread the love over to New Rochelle, alright?).

Bump-bump... bump-bump... bump-bum dee-dump bump bump, dunt duh duuuuhhh...
For at least a decade, this was my favorite TV show, and to this day the fact that a crew of talented Hollywood professionals could so royally and completely screw up this show as a movie remains one of those mind-boggling facts best not considered for too many consecutive minutes. Instead, just think about the four panels in the animated opening credit sequence, and the coolest cowboy ever to wear ovetight pants and platform boots.

Again, how iconic? "So iconic that it was HUMMED by Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby in a movie made more than twenty years later and nobody had to pause for even a femto-second to understand the why's and wherefore's."

My three year old daughter sings this song from memory when she's bored. It was written and performed some 35 years before she was conceived. I hope the guys who wrote this thing (and you have Google same as I do -- look it up your own damned self) are living like kings in Patagonia today.

"Nee nee nee nee...." -- is there a more recognizable first four notes in TV theme history? If there are, then you must be boosting mp3s from a place called... The Twilight Zone...


Meh. My work here is done. I'm supposed to tag three more people. Maybe I will.

Maybe I won't.

Deal with it.

* changed from "Brady Bunch Theme" just to make Michael chuckle

16 January 2006

Meme Streets

Proving conclusively that this meme has now well and truly jumped the shark, run its course, shot its wad and bought the farm, Julie.O from Mental Origami tagged me to drag this bloated dead horse of a topic yet a few feet further. Don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining (much), but I know enough to know that if blog-meme makes it down to my sad benthic depths, then surely all the pretty fish swimming above in sparkling clear waters have already had their fill. Any day now I expect to have someone tag me to describe "your favorite three new disco moves."

Anywhooo... on with the show:

1. ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:
I recall the old threading projector GENERAL CINEMA lead-in, and I recall sitting in a crowded theater to see THE ARISTOCATS (1970). I'm pretty sure I also saw THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN (1969), as I have clear recollection of boith that movie as well as the theatrical trailer for KRAKATOA EAST OF JAVA, a movie which I have never heard mentioned anywhere or seen on TV. When I check IMDB, I see that KRAKATOA came out that same summer as BoB, so it makes sense.

2. TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:
-- "Let's play ball." (final words spoken by Roy Hobbs in THE NATURAL)
-- "We can't all be lion tamers." (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA)

3. THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the "biz":
-- graphic designer
-- home builder/remodeler
-- magazine columnist

4. FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:
-- graphic designer
-- construction worker
-- ice cream scooper
-- ditch digger

5. THREE (3) book authors I like:
-- Clive Cussler
-- David Foster Wallace
-- David Brin

6. TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:
remake: THE GREAT RACE-- a ridiculously overblown period comedy by Blake Edwards from the early 60s which re-paired Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, it was always one of my favorite movies to catch when I was a kid, and now on DVD my own kids insist on watching it at least once a month.

adapt: [not gonna say]. Seriously, that's not meant as a joke, but there are three or four biographies I'd love to take a crack at, and I'm not going risk contaminating any of them by sharing them with a pond brimming with hungry screenwriters. I may be stupid, but I ain't dumb.

7. ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:
-- Richard Maibaum (1909-1991)
The man started his career in 1936 with fare like GOLDDIGGERS OF 1937, and his last credit is posthumous for the story for the 1996 Mel Gibson flick RANSOM (Maibaum died in '91). But in the 60 years between those career bookends, he basically defined modern cinema's longest running franchise, penning THIRTEEN of the James Bond movies, including ALL the early Connery Bonds which pretty much defined the franchise:

DR. NO (1962)

That's one hellacious run of iconic movies, and loads of memorable scenes and dialog exchanges, yet you never hear Maibaum's name mentioned.

Genius? Perhaps not, but "underrated?" Oh hell yeah.


So at this point in the proceedings the tag-ee (me) would normally be expected to tag three other friends to carry on the meme, but seeing as how I have no friends, and as how this meme has already been driven into the ground like a tent stake into soft sand, and how the remaining untagged bloggers available for such a hand-off are of the sort who are far more into Lithuanian death metal, I think I'll just let the meme trail end here.

"And there was much rejoicing..."

03 January 2006

Meet The New Year... Just The Same As The Old Year...

So this is 2006?

Meh. So far it doesn't look or feel very much different than what came before. Not that that's entirely a bad thing. While a great many people seem to have spent 2005 raising hand-wringing to an art form and an Olympic exhibition sport, for the most part my year sucked far less than it could have.

Yeah, there are still bucketloads of unrealized dreams stacked everywhere in my mental garage, but on the whole, things weren't awful: I and my family emerged intact and in health, no hurricanes flattened our home or neighborhood (though Rita did put one hellacious scare into us...), the kids all had great years, I had some good fun and actually did some good for the species, I had opportunity and permission to pimp-slap the forces of dumpth a few times, and in a bizarre twist, my odd little dream of becoming a pro screenwriter seemed to putter forward with something resembling a purpose.

Over the course of the year I made a bunch of cool contacts, learned a lot about the business and about ways to improve my own writing and work habits, I had a great time (again) in October at the Austin Film festival, and (again) while there I made some cool connections which likely will pay dividends in short order, and cooler than cool I managed to complete not one but TWO screenplays in the year, and be well underway on a third.

When 2005 came around, my private goals were to improve and finish the year with at least TWO screenplays ready to pitch and promote. I made that goal easily, and if I'd really gone ninja-psycho-crazy-loopy-nuts gung-ho motivated, I likely could have had a readable draft of a third ready by close of business on Dec 31.

The goal for this year? More of the same, but just to raise the stakes, this year I want to finish THREE new screenplays, and have at least FOUR scripts out making the rounds. I think I can do that, especially if I dedicate myself to sticking to a fairly regular schedule of "writing no matter what."


I have an outline well in progress, I have a list of more than two dozen cool movie ideas, and I have a strange sense that "everything is right on schedule."

Calm is not my normal mental state, so the lack of anxiety is starting to make me a bit anxious.

Which is, of course, comforting.