Thursday, November 30, 2006

Open Water-- Will Chill You to the Bone

...Here's a little film that should be checked out because it was in and out of theaters quicker than you can say straight-to-video...I thought it didn't get the coverage it should've and now, since it's been on video for a minute, it'll be easy to check out on the low...although a piece got printed on Blanchard Ryan one of the film's actors, the review I'd written for it never was and I didn't post it I'll put it here...

...Tomorrow is promised to no one. Based on a true events, Open Water follows Susan (Ryan) and Daniel(Travis), a couple of yuppies vacationing in the islands. As the story maintains, the two are left stranded in the deep water reefs of the Caribbean by mistake when they quickly realize they're floating hors d'oeuvres - enter sea creatures. The premise alone might imply CGI-created dorsal fins but Open goes in a newer direction because all of these sharks are the real deal, yo. Floating on the surface of the tidal expanse, the couple start sweating bullets when jellyfish sting and man-eating sharks literally pop in for a snack. Chris Kentis, the film's director, makes ample use of the marine vastness, overhead camera shots and a heavy infusion of impending danger which all inform the viewer that this did NOT come from the people who brought us Deep Blue Sea. While Ryan and Travis' acting sometimes borders on the antics of the cast of (enter reality TV show name here), the real stars of OW is the ocean itself and the critters swimming around in it. The piece de resistance, as it should be, is the ending which will chill you to the quick when everything unfolds. If you think you know how this tale resolves itself you're gonna need a bigger boat - stick around when the credits roll, it's definitely worth the wait.

Is Angelina Jolie Getting a Bad Rap?

I think Angie Jolie's been getting a bad rap...when one considers the time of the year it is (and how everyone waxes nostalgic about giving and loving thy neighbor, til it hurts)...I'm reminded that girlfriend really walked it like she talked it and was trying to make a difference long before anyone in the mainstream media knew what a Jenjuid is or where Darfur was on a map...I did a roundtable with her a few months before her relationship with Brad Pitt went public and all hell broke loose in the tabloids. Having spoken to her in person, I never really accepted the "knife-throwing-home-wrecker" tag that collegues in the press got all Pavlovian with. Although I rode up with her on the elevator -- she got on with some of her people halfway up to the press rooms at the St. Regent Hotel in Century City -- we didn't really get to talk until we got off the lift. Even though it hadn't become a topic of newsroom chatter until a while later -- she was doing press for Oliver Stone's Alexander at the time -- I dove right into the sessions with questions about her work in Africa -- a subject she was far more passionate about than what was her favorite color...which is why she still gets all the dap in my book...

Q: So Angelina, why where you in the Sudan?

Angelina Jolie: I was in the Sudan because I worked with the UN and I'd been to Chad in June to try to understand the situation that was happening in Darfur and I wanted to follow-up inside Darfur. Because the agency I was working with has now been given the mandate to really be hands-on in that area because there's over a million internally displaced people. So [I went] to go and to see the situation that they're in, what they're up against and to try to be outspoken [about it] while I was there and to bring attention to what everybody [was dealing with], all the aid workers' field needs and what direction things were moving in.

Q: Was it genocide?

AJ: You know I think, as a lot of people were saying in that country and a lot of people involved in the groups, I think that you could label many different things [genocide] going on there, I think. Is it genocide? What's the definition of that is, it's probably quite a few things but I think it's not as simple, in fact, as that. It's the worst thing I've seen. [pointedly] It's disgusting, it's thousands of women who have been raped, there's the way [that] the people have destroyed these homes and these villages. And the way it was systematically done, how it was done and, you know, the question of the government's involvement in it and how no place is safe now. And this idea of bringing people back from [refugee] camps when there's no place that's safe and there's still so much damage being done and still villages being burnt the day I was there and people being raped [still] so, it's going to take a lot to settle that area and I think we won't know for a while what to call it.

Q: Have you ever come into contact with the Jenjuid at all?

AJ: I was sitting on the floor with a bunch of kids - I went there to one area - and while I was asking them questions , because they didn't have any medical [supplies] and their clothes were just torn and falling apart. There were many different areas. There were certain areas where MSF have gotten there and there are some camps where UNICEF has -- a lot of areas there are no access to, so there's still areas where it's really bad. So, it's kind of different. You'll see people with medical, with no medical, with aid, without food...but in the one area where I went to where the Jenjuid were present -- so I was talking to the kids and I was asking them "why don't they have any [supplies]? Did they have any medical?" And they explained that the Jenjuid were BASED at their medical center nearby so they go near there. They had bad water because the pipe from their water [source] was used as a flagpole by the Jenjuid. And while I was interviewing the kids they got really quite and the Jenjuid walked by and smiled at me and said "hi" and I said "hi" and then I was told by several different aid workers that the problem is [if] you ask women about rape, you ask kids about medical supplies and that kid that was telling me that could have been beaten up that night because he was talking to the outsider; they're very present and they're not gone.

Q: How do you do that? There are very few actors who, with such a successful career, would take time to do the kinds of things that you're doing. How do you do it and why?

AJ: I couldn't NOT do it. It gives me, just that I became aware of it and found myself learning about these areas [of the world]. I didn't plan to become as active as I have or political but I've just seen enough to know -- I just couldn't help myself. And I'm blessed that I've met these people in my life who are SO strong and surviving [through] so much and really so I can understand the world that I actually live in. It's only hard because I get frustrated because I just see so much damage.

Q: Does that knowledge make you a better actress?

AJ: I suppose, just any deep life experience makes you a better actress.

Q: How do you think being a mom has changed you?

AJ: Its just made me a more playful person -- I'm much more peaceful because as long as he's healthy, I don't worry about anything. Nothing else can shake me. I don't stress about things that don't matter...

Q: What would you think if your son grew up and said that he was bi-sexual [as is implied with her son's role in Alexander] what would you think? Would that bother you?

AJ: Of course not! Why would it?

Q: You think that life would be harder for him?

AJ: No, I think what's harder is not admitting who you are. I'd be so excited if he was just confident about what he was, who he was and what he wanted to be -- that's great.

Q: It seems like it would've been a lot easier in those days...

AJ: Isn't that strange that we haven't evolved very much? [laughs]

Q: Going back to the mom question, did Oliver ever talk to you about why he cast you with you and Colin being so close in age?

AJ: I think Oliver cast people who he felt [best] represented the characters and I think he felt that I understood Olympias. And he didn't get stuck on the fact that, I mean you meet her when the boy's six [Alexander] and when Colin and I are seen together he's playing 19 and I'm playing 35. There maybe wasn't a perfect age for her because she had to be [consistently aged] across the board.

Q: You see any parallels to the history of Alexander and the political climate now?

AJ: That's like the question of the day but it was never the intention, Oliver had this concept [for the movie] thirteen years ago and it was, obviously, a story from [332 B.C.] I think if it raises questions and gets people talking; gets people looking at how we approach entering other cultures - what we do against them, what we do when we don't understand them, what Alexander did -- if it brings up questions I think that that's interesting. Personally, I think the most compelling thing for me was when I saw/ see how interesting that there was a time when the person who said "let's go to war" happened to be front and center IN THAT WAR and how different that would be if that was the case today...I think, depending on where your political slant is, you could try to turn this [movie] into anything. I think what the important thing is that Oliver DIDN'T. And I think that for all of those people who are like "he's got opinions or conspiracy [theories]" he really didn't. He made a film that is VERY open-minded with letting everything be out there - good and bad, all different sides of everything. Sex being a certain way, love being very present, war, good and bad sides of a brotherhood: everything. The really important thing is that he really struck a balance there, by not trying to impose his opinion and I think that should be commended.

Q: You've been through a lot over the years. When, would you say, was your toughest time?

AJ: [long pause to think] For me, tough times kind of came with good times, there was this wierd combination. I guess around the time when...when I...there were so many different times -- laughs -- that were difficult. I suppose when I first adopted Maddox, my marriage broke up and I divided with my father -- it was the hardest time. Other times, I think, were just like youth angst, feeling lost, that was a time of certain disillusionment and disappointment. Just real big life things happening [all] at once and trying to, in the middle of all that, take responsibility for being a parent and learning about being a parent - you trying to enjoy that and not have my son see me cry. That was a big thing, I remember my mom said, "when I was little that she cried too much in front of us."

Q: I seems like all troubles DO come in 3's, they say it does and it do. What helps to stabilize you when the problems arise?

AJ: One, the travels that I've made around the world are forever in my mind and any time I complain about anything, when I've met people who had their entire family killed or have been kidnapped as child soldiers with their limbs blown off. One moment of thinking "how dare I?" And just focusing on Maddox and spending time with him.

Q: Tatum O'neal has a book on the NY Times Best Seller's list, she's 42 and she had a childhood similar to yours, probably you didn't have as BAD an experience. Do you see yourself writing a tell-all book?

AJ: I'll let you write it for me. [laughs] I feel like I've been so outspoken that it's not like I have any secrets. You put enough of my interviews together, you have a book.

Q: Do you see yourself reconciling with your father?

AJ: No. And it's really not a fight, I just simply have, you know we've only go [but] so much energy in this life and so many things that we need to do, that we need to focus on. If there are people in your life that make your stomach go into knots or make you feel like you want to throw up from nerves or you see people you care about cry and there's tension and unrest - you can't have that. At some point you've got to decide [that] you are not going to allow that around. So, I will never have to worry about my son having to have a bad relationship with him. I will not ever have to worry about me being frustrated or upset or emotional or imbalanced for my kid or the things that I have to do because this person's again thrown me, we just DON'T understand each other as people and so we have this strange relationship. I have no animosity. I don't hate him. No anger. I just can't have that in my life -- I just can't. So I don't think there'll be a time where I'll want it.

Q: So who's your strongest family relationship with? Your mom?

AJ: My mom and my brother, we're all still close.

Q: What about romance?

AJ: Don't have a lot of it. [laughs] I'm a little like Olympias when it comes to that -- locked in my tower, playin' with my snakes...

Q: Are you willing to try again?

AJ: Somebody was saying to me, while we were talking about relationships and I agreed with this, they said that you have to find a person that you share the same values with and the same way of approaching life and family. And THAT takes a lot, I mean I'm just really coming to terms with what exactly THAT is for me. But I'd be looking for the best father in the world, a guy who was up at night trying to figure out how best to do some good things; make things better for other people.

Q: Good Luck!

AJ: Yeah! Until then.

Rockin' Writers-- Happy Birthday Mark Twain & Jonathan Swift's the birthday of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (nom de plume: Mark Twain) who was born in Florida, Missouri (1835). His novels that followed the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer sated my Southerner's love for the outdoors as a child, as a man, I'm drawn to the dry and sometimes wry humor in his satirical pieces; essays and his quotes are awesome"Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more" or "By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean." or the one that's printed on a wall just above my writing desk: "Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live...dude surely knew how to turn a phase yo...

...another wordsmith came screaming into the world today as well-- Jonathan Swift who was born in Dublin (1667). While Swift tackled journalism, he managed to author a couple of books too, Gulliver's Travels is his most reknown...this too provided imaginary fuel during my youthful days which, in turn, stoked an adventurer's spirit, desire to learn about the world around me (very necessary if you want to join the writing game)...non-musical, I know but these are definitely two members of my Rockin' Writers list...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Microscopic Septet-- Rockin' Reeds & A Reunion!

...Fresh Air's been on the radio since 1991; I started checking it on WNYC when I was back in NYC and I still do out here on the coast...I've learned a lot from Ms. Gross' shows over the years about current events, entertainment, foreign affairs, books, articles...and music!

...I got a double-dip of great radio on last night's Fresh Air Broadcast yesterday (11/29/06) because, in addition to the Ariel Levy Q & A, Terry interviewed musicians and composers Phillip Johnston and Joel Forrester of The Microscopic Septet, who wrote the show's theme and whose tunes are used as incidental music between segments...these guys are quite tight and in addition to Cuneiform Records' re-release of the double-disc anthology History of the Micros: Seven Men in Necties and the LP Surrealistic Swing, the group will reunite for a series of shows but as far as I can see, alas, they're only performing on the east coast which is a bummer because I won't get to see ' can learn more about these guys at their official website ; or check an audio file of Lobster in the Limelight...

...Seven Men in Neckties: History of the Micros, Vol. 1 is already in iTunes (just copped myself 20-plus tracks of great jazz!) but you can get CD copies of both at their site if you're in the region go check one of their shows (posted below)...

Thursday, Nov 30, 2006 @ 8PM
World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PApresented by NPR's Fresh Air, with Terry Gross
-- Terry will be MC'ing the show

Friday, Dec 1, 2006 @ 2PM
Sound Check, with John Schaefer, WNYC-FM( live radio broadcast)

Friday, Dec 1, 2006 @ 11:30PM
Joe's Pub, New York, NY

Saturday, Dec 2, 2006 @ 9:30PM
Joe's Pub, New York, NY

Watch their space for further additions

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

When I got home last night I switched on "Fresh Air" which is broadcast out of Philadelphia's WHYY, hosted by Terry Gross and re-broadcast through a local NPR affiliate here in LA. Terry was interviewing the Ariel Levy, the author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture and it was a great,thought-provoking radio at it's finest...known for her incisive querying, Gross gets Levy to expound on her controversial exploration, tackle our culture's obsession with the 'Girls Gone Wild syndrome', post-feminist America as well as her own personal's quite an interesting listen...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gram Parsons: Rare Photos & the Reprise Recordings

...A little while back I went to a meet-and-greet with photographer Andee Nathanson who wanted to unveil her private stash of Gram Parsons photos that she's held onto for over three decades...Andee has shot a grip of rock 'n roll icons like Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Alice Cooper, Marianne Faithfull which have subsequently been used on LP covers and liner notes...Andee spoke to hanging out with Gram out in Joshua Tree and other California locales which is where the photos in this collection were snapped...

Nathanson had some wild stories to go with a lot of these pics which show another side to the sonic alchemist who began melding country into rock with the International Submarine Band, the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, eventually he went solo with The Fallen Angels and worked extensively with Emmylou Harris-- which would pave the way for artists like the Eagles, Poco, Jackson Browne and all those boot-scootin' Nashville acts that dominate the pop-country charts these days...If you haven't scooped it already, a lot of great tunes, alternate takes, along with interviews with Gram can be heard on his Complete Reprise Sessions Box (which I enjoy the most)...go check Andee's work out when you get the chance...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Film: RIP Robert Altman (1925 - 2006)

I almost got the chance to meet director Robert Altman last summer while working press for his (then) forthcoming feature film A Prairie Home Companion which was based on Garrison Keillor's weekly public radio show of the same name but the aging director couldn't make it to the Four Seasons...I hoped that I'd eventually get to meet the master of the long sequence shot who brought the cinema world gems like Brewster McCloud, M.A.S.H., Nashville, The Player and Gosford Park...dude, was one of the last of a kind of artist who fought hard to stay true to his craft and I know that his passing is sending shockwaves all over town, exemplified in a roundtable for PHC, his last film, with Keillor Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin ... as with everyone I've ever spoken to who has worked with the guy, his laid-back style and attention to the human narrative of his stories made him a revered figure within the industry, evidenced by that honorary Oscar for outstanding film achievements" RIP Mr. Altman, respect...

Monday, November 20, 2006

What it Is! Funky Sould and Rare Grooves (1967-1977)

If you can remember when the acid jazz scene got rolling back in the 90s, you'll recall the mad dash DJs and audiophiles began to really raid the vinyl stacks in record stores all over the place and then suddenly, outside of ordering from catalogues, you'd be hard-pressed to find what became known as rare groove platters in even the best hidden bins of wherever you dug around on the regular...As lovers of music, we all find ourselves going through phases wherein we'll listen to a lot of one genre every chance we get and right about now, I'm riding high atop the crest of an early funk wave that just won't go weapon of choice comes from the vaults of Atlantic, Atco & Warner Bros. Records, hidden between the grooves of What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967 - 1977) this newer compilation you'll find read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fight! Fight! Fight! :Microsoft's Zune vs. the Apple iPod

Yesterday Microsoft's Zune went on the market and Bill Gates' posse is planning to give the folks over at Apple a run for their market share money...although I've seen 'em around and have read a little on 'em I haven't taken one for a spin just yet but here are some quick stats: the newer device weighs 1 oz. more in weight; offers a wireless file sharing feature with other Zune owners (which smacks of Dr. Suess' Star-Bellied Sneetches vs. Plain-Bellied Sneetches tale, but that's just me) can test run your tunes on the newer digital device for up to 3 times before actually purchasing music/ videos but you can't reconfigure old files used elsewhere on other machines which I think is a deal breaker (and the fecal brown coloring ain't helping either) it gonna give the iPod a run for it's money? only time will tell (my tea leaves are on the fritz, yo)...clocking in at $249.99 for 30 Gigs of space it's a tough call...

Nerd alert, Nerd alert: check out engadgets' review which also links to a funny-ass "tertiary-tactile experience" video that's kind of funny too...having said all of the me a luddite if you like, but all the bells and whistles on this thing seems to take the Zune in a direction that exceeds my needs in a portable device...I'll hang with my 5th gen. 30 gig iPod and put my bookies scrilla there...

A Must Have: Allison Wonderland: The Mose Allison Anthology

...I'd written a tribute article to Charlie "Bird" Parker in Rhino's R-zine back in August giving props where propers were due...I was cutting in the crib last night and slapped on Mose Allison's Anthology Allison Wonderland-- The Mose Allison Anthology and got blown away...again...I remember the first time I heard "Back Country Suite: Blues (aka "Young Man's Blues) in that dark-ass film Permanent Midnight (a film adapted from the autobio of the writer Jerry Stahl)...the tune spoke to me from Allison's first plaintive gripe: "Well, a young man...ain't nothing in this world today" and then rolls in with a striding jazz piano that saunters along to the swing...blinding...I was like "who is this and why don't I have any of his LPs?...(this was years before the inception of iPods so I was hard pressed to find the tune and I didn't see the film's credits...ouch...flash forward a couple of years later and I'm working on a data project at rhino and am assigned some jazz artists to research and write about and Allison's anthology was at the bottom of the pile so, it was a month or so later before I got to it but when I did, I had an eyes-rolled-over-white musical woody...I'd found him!

...Allison Wonderland begins with "Back Country Suite" and is followed by some of my all-time, Championship Vinyl, Desert Island piano jazz faves include the bouncy "Parchman Farm" (featuring a superb solo by Mose during the bridge); "Fools Paradise" (great for those moments of self doubt that we all endure); the swinging "Back On the Corner" (also good for those whoops, I fugged up again moments); "Meet Me At No Special Place" (one of my top 5, talk to the hand; I'm over you, cut)...other cuts to check are Read the rest here

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Brandi Shearer: Amoeba Records' First Artist Signed

...I'd never even heard of Brandi Shearer until today, when I got one of those PR blasts from a contact...All Music Guide has two albums listed but no bio-- the cover of her LP The Sycamore is pictured above. According to the press release (some of which I'll post below) she's the first artist signed by Amoeba Records' new label and they're pushing some of her stuff out there in support of her forthcoming The Pink Lady LP that won't be out until 2007...Check out her MySpace to listen to a couple of her tunes-- I'm partial to read the rest here

Check This: Atlantic Unearthed Soul Brothers

I was listening to marketplace on NPR and heard a story about the organist who played that haunting solo on Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale"that dropped in 1967 and has sold 10 million singles the keyboardist wants some of those bucks but he won't get a red cent because the solo was (wait for it) heavily based on a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach a hundred plus years ago...what did those Beatle dudes say..."there's nothing you can do that hasn't been done" can check a funky version of that track by R.B. Greaves and a bunch of other deep soul cuts on Atlantic's" Unearthed Soul Brothers Compilation"which I have and check for alternate versions of tunes that get overplayed in their original version...there's funky version of "Can't Stop a Man in LOve" by Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke's "Rome (Wasn't Built in a Day) is given a great treatment by Author Conley and Otis Redding's "I Love You More than Words Can Say" is tigher than tight...younger heads whose eyes glaze over when they hear people wax halcyon about that old school Atlantic stuff (be it R&B or Jazz) will see why one of Hi- Fidelity's Rob Gordon's top 5 dream jobs was to work at Atlantic Records during the 60's...the whole LP is quite a refreshing listen...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Brittany Murphy: The Dead Girl (Q & A)

I got a little face time with Brittany Murphy on November 7th over at the Four Seasons. Here's What went down during the roundtable session with me and a couple of international press people...

Q: So what attracted you to the film Dead Girl in the first place?

Brittany Murphy: When Karen (Moncrieff) asked me to do it-- I was offered the role of Krista (Kutcher, the Dead Girl) and there was this script called the Dead Girl and I started reading it and I thought it would be a thriller -- a psychological thriller -- I'm reading it and I forgot, by the end of act one, even bothering, or worrying or thinking about who did it and kept reading. And in the truest sense of the statement, the journey did become my destination because these characters popped off the pages, infiltrated me and one couldn't help but read it and (feel ) like a voyeur passing different windows on a street and in one house there'll be a couple arguing and in another, you've got a child crying and another...(there's something) from every different background, every different situation and they have one common thread. I loved Krista, she was spectacular, she's so spectacular. She has so much hope, so much light and she tries so hard...she really just wants to do her best in this life and in this world to make sure that her baby is taken care of, to be a great mom-- she, unfortunately, is afflicted with a bit of mental illness and bi-polar. It's not touched upon in the script but I know it's in the work somewhere. So her being bi-polar and self-medcating herself, definitely would confuse the path that she's trying to get on. (It's) why she's living so mercurially and in the second, really, I mean not even in the minute. I thought that she was a lovely, exciting person to be able to play. I also thought that she was specifically derived from a true person, a real person that passed away, who didn't get to be represented (on screen before) and I wanted to represent that person's life-- for her and some other people.

Q: So you know about that murder case and that real person's story?

BM: Yes and I asked Karen the reason that she thought of me for this and I think it was because of prior performances and a little part of me reminded her of the girl who she sat on jury for the death of. And she saw footage on her, I can't remember if there was an aesthetic or emotional (thread) from another film or another character I'd played, but one thing was that, I'd also heard Karen's vision for her film, along with this really stunning and unique script-- it was really something that I really couldn't not be a part of. I felt really blessed to be amongst that great group of people.

Q: So, you jumped on first?

BM: I was on third, maybe. I know it was Toni (Collette), Giovanni (Ribisi) and then me.

Q: Did you do any researching for this?

BM: I did do research. Like any good journalist, I prefer to keep my (sources) confidential. The people that I did research with preferred to remain anonymous and I would like to respect their wishes...a good journalist never gives up her sources. (laughs) But I did speak with, along with the profession that Krista was in, I did speak with two drug counselors to break down the chemical imbalances that she had-- along with a doctor, a really brilliant man. And then I was able to speak to recovered and reformed users of the the drugs that Krista did in the film.

Q: How did you find the experience of researching for and performing this role? Was is sad, dark or what?

BM: I don't want to be redundant and repeat anything that Kerry (Washington might've) said but they were awesome people. There was some really incredible people and I feel grateful for the people that shared their lives with me.

Q: So, what do you do for fun ? How do you spend your money?

BM: Well that was just a non-sequitor, man! (laughter) Why does "fun" have to have anything to do with spending money? It never does. The most joy that I could possibly get in life is being around my eight nieces and nephews and family. I love it and I live with my mom and my uncle...I really love being around my family. It makes me happy.

Q: Here's better non-sequitor, for you: since you love being with your family, they must love Happy Feet.

BM: Yes, they love that! That's very good, although I do want to mention that I have a domestic day of press that's scheduled for Happy Feet, I was in Tokyo when you guys were here, so, I'd love it if you could make it-- if you can't, I thoroughly understand...we ran over two days and there was nothing I could do about it-- I was very bummed out.

Q: You've got all of these things going on, you have the Dead Girl coming out, Happy Feet on which you're singing, how do you juggle all of that? I mean, so many actresses can't seem to break out of romantic comedies.

BM: Well, I've never pigeonholed myself into any specific person or being or career plan, except for an overall dream that encompasses entertaining people. So, that's not something that I don't think I've reached the tip of the iceberg (with) as far as the different mediums that I'd like to entertain people in, so I'm really looking forward to (accomplishing) that. To me it's such a joy, singing is a joy-- I was never formally trained in acting, was never formally trained in singing and I've been singing since I was born, since as long as I can remember. As a child I sang anything from Italian arias to an old blues song. So, I sing in character for Happy Feet and there was a time when I was fourteen where I could've veered off in two different directions and done one or the other; acting or music. And I chose acting and continued writing and doing music for myself but there'll be a time when I share it with others, you know, when the time's right.

Q: Are you planning to do an album?

BM: Most definitely; I don't know when but I will.

Q: What kind of music would you record?

BM: It'd have to be a little more further executed to describe that. My first concert was Run - D.M.C. and the Fat Boys-- I was five, I wore one earring, I felt so cool. My second was the Rat Pack Reunion Tour when Dean Martin fell out and Liza Minelli stepped in, my third was Al Jarreau. So I grew up with a lot of jazz, tons and tons of jazz; from Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone to Billie Holiday, Chet Baker to Thelonious Monk-- you name it, everybody and...Miiiles Davis.

Q: You play any instruments at all?

BM: I could play any instrument if you gave me twenty minutes. (laughs) Pretty much, I'm good at playing by ear-- I picked up the trumpet a couple of years ago and played that. They were all worried about my lips in the (music) store.

Q: Did someone in your family have a musical bent or something?

BM: Yeah, my father's side, actually -- who I didn't grow up with at all. It's quite a testament to genetics that whole side of the family, besides my mom, have an esquisite taste in music. I (had) it around me all the time and being around it (helped with) expressing myself through it growing up. On my father's side, there's a lot of opera singers and jazz musicians, that's how I learned jazz.

Q: So, what do you listen to on the regular? What artists, anyone current?

BM: Currently, I've been in Tokyo okay, so, I made a huge collection -- music's so important to me, you know, and my iPod was stolen. And I haven't had the time to really fill a new one back up so I had this big stack of CDs that I was packing and I had to go to (shoot a film) and I was just going to put them in my suitcase and then I had this little, itsy-bitsy CD case that was the "no pile" well instead, someone put the little "no pile" in and it was hard. An actor friend of mine, before they left to shoot a film, knew that I was going crazy about my music ran out and got me some CDs. But I was listening to, in Tokyo, most recently, I can't go too-too modern but, Death Row's Greatest Hits is great because it's got everything from "No Vaseline" which, to me, is such a great battle track. I love Nas as well, he's a great battle rapper too-- that's hip hop. And Eminem is always a burst of energy. I love his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP, also Encore. And then I've been listening to Gwen Stefani a lot of Sara-Nina-Billie (Vaughan, Simone and Holiday). I do veer towards older women in my music.

Q: You said you produced The Ramen Girl and starred in it as well, could you give a little background on that?

BM: It's about a girl that drops out of law school and goes to Tokyo, Japan to be with her boyfriend of a few years. He then has to go to Osaka, not terribly far but a couple of hours away, on a business trip and he doesn't know when he's coming back and the apartment's paid up. She's feeling stuck there and so she decides to stay...(somebody walks in to tell her that she has to leave to do the red carpet thing for the film's premiere across town-- but Brittany continues after she leaves), she meets some folks -- an American girl who's working as a hostess and a British guy -- they're this unique breed of people who, for lack of a better term, are aimless wanderers and she sort of falls into being an aimless wanderer for a moment. And then she sees this red lantern across the street when she's chain-smoking on her patio and it's this little ramen shop. And she goes to it and, obviously, she doesn't speak Japanese and she decides to ask the man who runs the place to be her Sensei in Ramen which is a really ancient art -- it actually originated in China but it's (also) an ancient Japanese art form. You see how the intricacies of Japanese culture truly do affect this girl and she utilizes it for the good in her life. And instead of, how some other people ended up there, not being a part of (the Japanese culture) she (embraces) it and it enables her to move on. It's really a Japanese film, half of it's (subtitled) in Japanese-- I'm the only person speaking in English the entire three quarters of the film.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you were very close to your mother. What was the most valuable thing that she taught you when you were growing up?

BM: To have a sense of humor about life. To not take myself too seriously. Through example, being a strong, independent woman. There's a great Maya Angelou quote: "I am woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that is me." And I think of my mom when I hear that. And if I could be a third of the woman that she is and have a third of the strength that she has, then, I would have done good by this life.

-- The Dead Girl is set for national release on December 29th.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Follow for Now: My Black Rock Connection

...I got a call from Bernard Coley (aka Enrique), one of my homebiscuit's back east, last night and had a great hour-long convo talking about music...dude's like a brother to me as we used to be roomates back when I lived in Atlanta and he was still hitting with the rock group Follow for Now which, for all the same-ole, same-ole reasons broke up but that don't mean they didn't kick a little ass...Follow for Now was one of the reasons my band had moved to the ATL in the first place to be closer to that bourgeoning scene (this was during the buildup to the Olympics and there was an air of possibility wafting all over town and we got the bug after playing at the Cotton Club in Mid-town and CJ's Landing in Buckhead and the Point in Little Five Points...FFN were slotted to be the South's Living Colour but, read the rest and see the Holy Moses video here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

BUMMER: R.I.P Ed Bradley 1941 - 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Film: Fast Food Nation is Crap-Tacular

Whenever I go and screen films I often write down notes as I watch to remember what I was feeling when I watched the movie, which really helps on those weeks that I have a grip of junkets/ films to watched all mixed together and I don't remember which way is up...this week wasn't so bad, I only had three, among them Richard Linklater's forthcoming Fast Food Nation. Scheduled for release on November 17th and inspired by Eric Schlosser's book of the same name, FFN takes a look at where the meat used in those popular .99 cent hamburgers come from and the people involved with getting it to your 'hood in a timely, expeditious manner...The film follows Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), a marketing executive who works for the fictional hamburger chain "Mickey's". As the storyline maintains, it's brought to Don's attention that the meat used in their burgers is contaminated, compelling him to investigate the matter further and takes him to Cody, Colorado where the meat distributor's slaughterhouses are located and an education on how the beef industry operates is in the offing.

In addition to the above, Fast Food Nation follows two other side stories that are interlaced with Don's . The first observes the plight of two Mexican illegals, Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) and his wife Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno) as they cross the American border in search of gainful employment as the de riguer cast of coyotes (people smugglers) and dirtbag factory superiors step in a fuck over everyone in sight which all congeal into a story that's nothing to write home about. Ashley Johnson is the protagonist for the story that tails her character, Amber, a teenage cashier at a Mickey's franchise in Cody, who slowly gets the zap on her head about the causality that the ways that big biz is really run and it's effect on the public as a whole which leads her and her friend Alice (Avril Lavigne) to fight the power the only way they know how. The end.

The premise of Richard Linklater's tryptych promises to enlighten it's audience as the viewer finds himself searching for the fast forward button as the by-the-numbers script unfolds-- the sequences are entertwined and a "Where the Day Takes You" thrust is reached for but never attained. Five years ago, Fast Food Nation would've been timely but the ubiquitous news coverage of that industry and mad cow scares of late gives the premise of FFN a day-late-and-a-dollar-short feel. And, subject matter notwithstanding, the film has a really hard time getting off the ground-- the most memorable performances are made by people making cameos (Bruce Willis, Ethan Hawke and Kris Kristofferson, respectively) but all of the cameos in the world can't help this film get its footing which is a shame. I've liked Linklater flicks like Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Before sunrise/ Before Sunset...I was even into School of Rock but I think dude's getting soft in his old age. Although the film might be informative to anyone who's been living in, say, the Klondike hinterlands for the past decade there's nothing in Fast Food Nation which wasn't covered in Faces of Death 20 years ago...been there, bought the T-shirt and soundtrack...if you must see a new Richard Linklater flick, go to a matinee...

And Don't Let the Doorknob Hit You in the Ass: Rumsfeld Resigns

As I type this I'm listening to the POTUS give a news conference...why,why, why would I do you ask? It turns out that the people have finally gotten off of their arses and I type this, Bush is announcing that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is resigning ...this is pants are dancing with figs, yo!...the scale of the fallout from this will be Nixonian, if not grander and it's a beautiful thang to behold...Samuel Longhorn Clemons (or Mark Twain) once said "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can get it's boots on...that's how I felt back in 2000 but now I must say read the rest here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Film: The Dead Girl Kills!

...I've got to say I haven't been moved by a movie, nee a thriller, in quite a I was taken by surprise while watching the screener for writer/ director Karen Moncrieff's upcoming feature film The Dead Girl which is set to be released nationally on December 29th...The film's plotline begins with an act entitled The Stranger, in it the camera follows the goings on in a small town when the corpse of a young woman (Brittany Murphy) is found in a field by a townie (Toni Collette, pictured). Not one to post spoilers I won't get too into the details of the following acts (The Sister, The Wife, The Mother and The Dead Girl, respectively) but I will say this: don't get thrown off by all of the questions the film begs for initially because read the rest here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nov. 7th: Get Off Your Keyster and Vote; The Cynics are Right 9 Times Out of 10

...Last year, in March, I wrote about "my disenfranchisement with public radio with a little piece entitled NPR & Air America: Damn You Both to Hell on The Chronicles of Ridicule and thought that that would quell my urges to post up my political leanings in cyberspace but I was wrong...Nowadays, the political theater resembles something of a B-grade and bizarre made-for-TV movie that one is forced to watch during the middle of a Sunday morning because every other channel is broadcasting their version of the good time gospel hour...back then, my ass was chapped because reality seemed to take on the patina of the surreal and I just couldn't take it anymore...I'm almost ashamed to say that I eventually returned to listening to talk radio while writing but that's neither here nor there, yo...

In the past few months leading up to the mid-term elections on November 7th that tells me that the opinionated old-school, political/ cultural commentator journalist Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken (pictured) was never more on point when he groused "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public"...What in the fucke have we become as a people? How much longer can we sit on the sidelines and watch while the finer threads of the very blanket of democracy we love to snuggle up in when we go abroad; hold so near and dear to our hearts are being plucked out in semiotic increments by a handful of culturally myopic, greedy whores who've been working behind the scenes since the days of the Nixonian White House to get us to where we are 2000 it was very Orwellian for me and my lot to witness the excision of our political process by the likes thos jackbooted thugs in Ohio and, more stridently in, Florida...and now we're back to square one, they want even MORE power and, if we don't get out and vote next Tuesday and watch "the Dalton Gang's" every moves with jeweller's monacles, we're going to be in a world of shite...

I've already read and written about the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville bio and his groundbreaking book Democracy in America which he'd written in 1832 following a fact-finding visit to these shores with a his countryman Gustave de Beaumont in an effort to see what was up with this newly christened democratic society...their findings were quite prescient ones as a great deal of what they observed has come to pass which makes me circle back on the current state of affairs in our political process...we're in deep, dirty water as a country...and it seems that we're skimming the trees in the eyes of the rest of the world...WTF is next, yo?...a total police state?...imbued in a martial lawlessness wherein the president and his hand-picked cabinet serve as lifelong "king deciderer" and star-chamber lackeys all of whom are solely motivated by fiduciary gain, ham-handedly ruling the lay of our land like a mob of insular brownshirts...the fact that the mainstream media is more interested in following up on a gaffe made by Senator John Kerry during a speech at a university (and dutifully wiping out the laughter that ensued implying that the audience he was speaking to go the joke) while the big fat lie that is the debacle in Iraq that we were all mislead into advocating is rarely touched...there's a reason that the POTUS and Veep only seem able to make it to interviews on right-leaning Monkey-shows like Rush Limbaugh's and the bask in the orgy of the Fox's Howard Dean's "rasslin yell" heard 'round the world all over again...who's going to stand the fuck up and help take these criminal-minded miscreants down?...or better yet ,to quote W.B. Yeats, what rough beast, it's hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born...get out there and vote...or sit and suffer in silence...