About Screenwriting: Saw a movie this past weekend that had none of the elements I stress as being important in the screenwriting classes I teach at UCLA Extension. No plot, no character development, no act structure, no character needs, no conflict. And I loved it. Guess when you have fourteen great songs (like "A Hard Day's Night") performed by the Beatles, none of that stuff matters. 02.13.17
About Golf Traditions: In addition to my writing and music, I'm in the golf business. Fourteen years ago, I invented the BreakMaster Digital Green Reader, a golf device that helps golfers read the break (slope) of the green. But it was not universally accepted right away. I remember standing at our booth at our first PGA Show as more than a few angry golfers came by to declare that “that thing is illegal” and that “it will never be accepted under the Rules of Golf.” Fortunately, golf pros, caddies and golf instructors got it. They understood that the BreakMaster was a great tool intended for charting greens before, not during, competitions. The BreakMaster has, since then, helped thousands of golfers make more putts, and helped many pros win tournaments by knowing the break before they putt. Well, this week, the R & A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, who jointly governs the Rules of Golf along with the USGA) bought a good number of BreakMasters from us. The USGA (as well as the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour) had been using the BreakMaster for years to set up fair hole positions for their tournaments. So had the R & A (we were surprised to learn) which had been using the BreakMaster for some time, but had not, until now, purchased directly from us. Golf is a game of rich traditions, and doesn’t it change capriciously. We’re proud to learn that the R & A has recognized the BreakMaster as useful tool for the game. www.breakmaster.com 02.11.17
About Recent Films: Finally, a good one! I have to say I have been underwhelmed by most of the movie screeners I've been sent for awards season. But I really liked "Hidden Figures" a lot. A really inspiring story with wonderful characters beautifully portrayed. This is one of my favorite films of the year and it definitely stands up to repeat viewings. 01.29.17
About The Election: To my Democrat friends and family: you survived eight years of G.W. Bush. Whatever happens today, you can handle it.
To my Republican friends and family: you survived eight years of B.H. Obama. Whatever happens today, you can handle it.
For me: I survived sixteen years of friends and family bitching about politics on Facebook. Whatever happens today, I can handle it. 11.08.16
About Where I've Been: Sorry I haven't posted for months, but we've been in the midst of a move. Said goodbye to our Sherman Oaks home (of twenty years!) and moved to the suburbanopolis that is Woodland Hills, CA. We're in a very nice neighborhood, and because we're now in a townhouse, I won't have to spend weekends doing yardwork when I'd rather be writing. Looking forward to posting a lot more in the coming days. 09.15.16
About Game of Thrones: Spoilers ahead. OK, in truth, I loved last night's episode "Battle of the Bastards." But, wasn't it just a couple weeks ago I said that they were writing too many "last minute saves" of characters by other O.S. characters? Well, whoops, they did it again. And as much as I was happy to see Littlefinger's Knights of the Vale come to the rescue of Jon and his ragtag army, thus allowing Ramsay Bolton to get his justly deserved comeuppance, I mean, really? Sansa knew that Littlefinger had pledged his army if needed. And it was pretty obvious that he was the one to whom she sent a raven asking for help. But why not tell Jon Snow about this? "Oh, by the way, Jon, I did ask a friend if I could borrow thousands of cavalry troops. Maybe it's a good idea to put off the battle with Ramsay for a day or two?" OK, I know that I'm always willing to cut a bit of slack for shows that I really like, so I'm willing to forgive GOT here. Besides, the opening battle with Daenerys and her dragons was just spectacular. But how does she manage that timing? Getting not just the dragons, but the Dothraki hoard to arrive on cue just as she was making her point with the Slavers. OK, I'll stop thinking now. 06.20.16
About Game of Thrones: Spoilers ahead. For the most part, I enjoyed Game of Thrones "Blood of My Blood" episode last night, but I did feel that Cersei would NEVER let Tommen get so close to the High Sparrow as to experience a religious conversion. That strained credibility. Cersei is too smart/devious to let that happen. I'm hoping that it's a fake. We'll see how that plays out. I do like the idea that Arya is apparently leaving the Faceless Man fraternity. Those people are BORING. Also, aren't we seeing just a FEW too many last second rescues by characters previously O.S.? Here are a few off the top of my head: Bran and Meera rescued by Benjen (last night), Sansa and Theon rescued by Brienne (a few weeks ago), Daenerys rescued by Drogon (probably the best one) and Jon and his troops rescued by Stannis and Davos (last season). There are probably more that I can't remember offhand. Is this becoming too obvious a plot device? Next thing you know, Bran will "warg" back in time and stop the blade from falling on his dad! 05.30.16
About Silent Films: Watched the last part of F.W. Murnau’s German vampire film Nosferatu (1924) the other night on TCM, and then DVR’d his version of Faust (1926) which I finished watching tonight. It’s amazing how a film that was made 90 years ago, when the medium was only a decade or so old, is still so captivating. It’s also incredible that there exists a complete two-hour version of this film when so many films from that era have been lost. It sometimes requires a bit of patience to watch some of these old films as the pace is so much different from what we watch today, but the visuals that F.W. Murnau creates in Nosferatu, and especially in Faust, are so imaginative that it’s worth the investment. An interesting side note is that Emil Jannings, the German actor who played the devil’s agent Mephisto in Faust, made Nazi propaganda films for Goebbels during World War II. Life, once again, imitating art. 04.15.16
About Legend: Watched Legend (2016) last night for the second time and enjoyed it even more than the first time. It's a really interesting story about the London gangster brothers, Ron and Reggie Kray, both of whom are played by Tom Hardy. It was a good year for Tom Hardy with The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, and this film, which I think showcases his acting better than either of the other films. He's really quite remarkable. The script by writer/director Brian Helgeland is good (especially the first two thirds) but doesn't really have a rewarding third act. But, maybe the Kray brothers didn't have a great third act themselves. Anyway, if you're a fan of Tom Hardy, this film is not to be missed. 04.01.16
About Great TV: There's a lot of really enjoyable TV on these days, and that's even before Game of Thrones debuts for the season. My current TV favorites: Better Call Saul, Gotham, The People vs. OJ Simpson, The Walking Dead (though, lately it's been losing me because of incredibly stupid decisions by characters who I thought were smarter), and Vikings. I'm still mourning the loss of Downton Abbey. Flirted with, but not yet convinced: The Colony. 03.27.16
About Great Films: Really enjoyed watching Stagecoach (from 1939) tonight on TCM. One of the best ensemble movies of all time Many wonderful characters, and a story perfectly structured around the character decisions of the Ringo Kid, played by John Wayne in one of his first lead roles. What's really remarkable is that the Act III battle essentially happens off-screen, and it's perfect that way! Claire Trevor as Dallas, the hooker with a heart of gold just tears your heart out. Lots of great character actors and beautifully drawn supporting parts: John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, Louise Platt and Andy Devine. Directed by John Ford with unbelievable stunts by famed stuntman Yakima Canutt. 03.26.16
About My New Year's Eve With Isaac: It was the millennial New Year's gig when my band opened for the great Isaac Hayes. I was standing near the
stage when one of the show organizers came up to me in a panic. “Do you
know the words to Aude Lang Syne?” I said that of course I did, and he
said that I was needed immediately. Isaac was to go on in just a few
minutes, and while he knew the music, he didn’t know the words to the
most famous song New Year’s Eve has ever created. MORE 12.31.15
About My Novel: My novelization of my feature screenplay, Houdini & Lovecraft: The Ghost Writer is now available! It is published on Amazon as a paperback, Kindle eBook or for download to a PC.
story is an historical fiction about an encounter between famed
magician Harry Houdini and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, who was
actually hired by the magician to be his ghost writer on a story Imprisoned With The Pharaohs, that was published in Weird Tales magazine in 1924.
I was fascinated by the relationship between these two men, absolute
icons of their era, and the fact that they actually collaborated. So I
thought about a "what if?" scenario, and came up with the idea that
there was, in fact, another collaboration between Houdini and Lovecraft,
only this one became an adventure that was so horrifying and shocking
that the true story couldn't be shared with the rest of the world...
CLICK HERE to read more about the story on the next page.