Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anvil! Live! Pleasantville!

My buddies went to see a screening of "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" at Jacob Burns last night and all I got was this t-shirt (that's Steve talking).

Me and Jim caught the special engagement of this rockumentary which was followed by a Q&A session with the two stars of the film, front man Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Rob Reiner ("the original") of 80's metal blink-and-you-missed-them sensation–Anvil.

It's a great film.

I've seen it referred to as "the ultimate metal bromance" and the "real life Spinal Tap" - both are accurate. Anvil! is also a "Rocky" movie - the tale of two friends who met at fifteen and refuse to give up their dream of making it big as Anvil–despite the fact that they're now fifty. These shaggy lovable Canadian underdogs are up against incredible odds and you just can't help rooting for them.

As the guys themselves said last night, there aren't too many bands that stick together over 30 years - there's The Rolling Stones, The Who, and...Anvil.

The Anvil story is remarkable enough but the story of the film is also pretty incredible.

The Director, Sacha Gervasi, was a roadie for the band when he was only fifteen years old himself. After a few tours, they split but Steve and Sacha reunited twenty years later. It just so happens that Sacha has gone on to become a successful screenwriter (among other things) since they last saw each other, and Steve has just been offered an opportunity for a European Anvil tour that looks slightly shady from the start to say the least. Sacha knows there's a movie in this and he drops everything to make it.

I'm happy to report:
The film is getting rave reviews.
Anvil is playing with AC/DC at Giants Stadium tomorrow night.
Things are looking up.

Just see it when you get the chance.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Artgig -Psycho

Lis sent me this video by Miles Fisher last night and it really made my day. Miles nails the "American Psycho" movie and gets Christian Bale, who is fast becoming one of my favorite working actors, smirk perfect.
Fisher is so good and talented (it's his music too)–it's scary.
For the first seven or eight seconds I thought it was Bale and someone had cut scenes from the movie into the video.
Then, I saw a close-up & I thought "that's not Bale", it didn't look like him–more like Tom Cruise.
Fisher also does a drop dead Tom Cruise.

Getting back to "American Psycho"...

Have you read the book by Bret Easton Ellis?

When "Psycho" hit shelves in 1991, critics recoiled in horror.

There was controversy before the book even saw daylight– Simon & Schuster had dropped it due to graphic content before Vintage picked it up.

It was pretty much banned in Germany.

In Australia, it's only sold shrink-wrapped and selling the book to anyone under 18 is a criminal offense.
It's not an easy read for a lot of reasons including extreme violence and mind-numbing detail - but that's the point.
The 80's were mind-numbing and violent.
At least it was for me.
And I think that's why I liked the book so much.
I read it for a college literature term project.
There was an older retired woman in my little book group, who was taking the class for fun.
She dropped out after a few weeks because she was so appalled by my project.

I didn't love the movie when it came out nearly 10 years later but it's probably because I was too loyal to the book.
But watching this video makes me want to see it again - now.

I also happen to know the writer of the sequel - "American Psycho 2: all American Girl."
We met in a Gotham Writers Workshop screenplay writing class - her specialty was horror and mine was crime so there was some natural overlap.
She already had some buzz going in LA.
She sold one of her screenplays and rewrote it–banging it into the American Psycho sequel.
They basically just slapped the name on it.
It didn't seem to matter that it had nothing to do with the original.

She ended up moving to LA and I started Artgig.

Karen, wherever you are, I hope you're doing well.
It was good writing with you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Artgig - Gotcha!

Just finished a new game, "Gotcha!," for our friends at Weekly Reader. The game is designed as a payoff to a lesson and quiz on Mark Twain's short story, "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calvares County."

Based on our standard shooter engine, "Gotcha!" is essentially a better looking "Bug Assassin." We created a custom skin to match the swampy theme and made the shooter a frog (who happens to be a Mark Twain lookalike) who's after any bug fool enough to fly into range of his quick-draw tongue.

You can tell by the look in their eyes, these bugs know this frog ain't playing games.

But that shouldn't stop you:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Website Launch Into the Stratosphere...

Just launched this slick little brochure site, for local Westchester marketing biz–Stratosphere Research. Daryl Bressler, the owner, has worked with some impressive brands, including SeaWorld, Budweiser, and Hasbro.

In discussing her work in market analysis and evaluation, Daryl shared a story about how a research project for SeaWorld led to the creation of sister park, Discovery Cove–the first park in Orlando to allow park visitors to swim with the dolphins. Discovery Cove has since gone on to become one of Orlando's most successful park destinations. The idea to open a dolphin experience park interestingly came as a direct result from Daryl's careful analysis of market data in response to a simple question - "What new attractions would you like to see most at Sea World?"

Check it out:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Media Activate! How Video is Giving a Voice to the Poor

A family member turned me on to the VideoVolunteers project. The concept is simple and quite brilliant–empower poor, illiterate people living in slums in places like India, by teaching them to become their own community producers.

Armed with a relatively cheap video kit, each producer goes out into their neighborhood and talks about the issues their neighbors are up against. It's much easier to teach someone to use a video camera than to teach them to read and write and the results are igniting the sparks for real change.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Man in the Red Shoes

Just catching my breath and dusting off the blog after a fantastic Fourth of July weekend in Montauk at my dad's beach house rental.

We drove out late Thursday and got there just after midnight.

My wife and son crashed almost immediately but I stayed up with my dad, sipping a tasty Honey Moon Summer Ale, and we watched most of the PBS American Masters episode featuring Garrison Keillor - The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes.

If you don't know Garrison Keillor, he's been around since the 70's and he's most famous for his "Prairie Home Companion" live radio show - a quirky program that mixes humor, storytelling and music–aimed squarely at America's heartland.

Now if you know me, I'm not exactly a Chevy and apple pie kind of guy, but I was hanging with my dad and he's a fan of Keillor and I also happen to know one of Keillor's crew, having worked with Fred Newman on a kids home safety video for Weekly Reader, so I went with it.

The show is an absolutely fascinating portrait of Keillor. The man is a natural storyteller and he's got the kind of voice that makes you want to listen. Before I knew it, I was pulled right in to his world. I was talking to Steve about this and his parents are also Keillor fans and he says whenever he's visiting he gets sucked in to the radio show. Such is the universal appeal of Keillor–he manages to draw you in, whether you like apple pie or not.

As we were watching, I explained to my dad that I'd worked with Fred Newman and next thing you know I hear Fred's voice and he's being interviewed on-screen.

Good stuff.

Check it out: