Stardate 29.04.09

star-trekWell, I couldn’t let an opportunity go by without referencing the upcoming Star Trek movie.  The franchise is hanging on this one, boys and girls; the Next Generation sputtered out after the woeful “Nemesis” and nothing that followed appealed to anyone other than hardcore fans.  A drastic re-tooling was in order.  That’s why the guys in suits chose J.J. Abrams to carry the torch.  A guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  Hell, that Lost show made buckets of money–as a gun for hire he comes with a pretty high rep.

Abrams has been around awhile, longer than I realized.  And he hasn’t always been a golden goose either.  He receives a brief mention in Richard E. Grant’s film diary With Nails.  Grant runs into him at some Hollywood gathering and  with his acute perceptiveness, describes J.J. and his cronies thus:  “Meet a twenty-four-year old screenwriter called J.J. who wrote ‘Regarding Henry’, has a three-picture deal, and talks real fast, as do his friends, all of whom seem young, ruthless and rich.”

Hmmm… “ruthless and rich”.  Not “gifted” or “witty” or “intelligent”.  Ruthless and rich. And “Regarding Henry”?  Remember that turkey?

kirkBut all will be forgiven if J.J. can revitalize the old gal, make it contemporary without abandoning the campiness and charm of the original show; I’m a retro nut and I’m worried the writers (one of them the “genius” behind “Transformers: The Movie”), will bury the story under CGI, comic book level dialogue and stock characterizations, while bending as far as possible to meet the abysmally low expectations of the fan boys/girls.

End of rant.

Now, as you’ve likely guessed, since my last post a couple of weeks back I’ve been working, plugging away on new material and prepping old stuff for revision.  Beginning to gear up…there’s something about the summer that gets my creative energies revved up to full throttle.  I can’t explain it.  While the rest of my family is off traveling or out at the beach, I’m up in my office, sweating buckets, scribbling like mad.

With the coming of warmer weather this month, something clicked into place and I’ve been at it for long stretches, working on–well, I can’t say yet.  You know me.  Like to play it close to the vest.  Might show it to Sherron later on this week but until then–shtum.

So I’ve been working hard and every so often scrambling down the stairs to watch a period of hockey–it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, doncha know–before rushing back upstairs to work some more and then back downstairs to check the score, watch highlights, never missing Don Cherry…

cherry

I’ve been a Boston Bruins fan for nigh on forty years–oh, yes, my children, the big, bad Bruins and I go wayyy back.  Watching old footage of Bobby Orr still brings tears to my eyes.  And this year…well, the boys had a terrific regular season and then they destroyed the Habs in four straight games.  I hardly dare wish for anything else.  Must not tempt the hockey Gods to turn on the B’s like some blind Greek guy with a taste for older women…

It’s a pleasure to watch players like Marc Savard and I love that Lucic kid.  Wideman is an under-appreciated talent and Tim Thomas has been good when called upon.  But if that idjit Phil Kessel doesn’t stop with the lookit-me-dangle-all-by-myself-I’m-Jason-bleedin’-Spezza lone man dashes up the ice (which, inevitably lead to odd man rushes the other way), I’m going to end up kicking the front of my television set in.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.  It’s just that one commentator described Kessel as the Bruins’ best player during the Montreal series and I just about swallowed my beer mug.

kesselOkay, I admit it, I picked New Jersey and San Jose to make the final this year.  Tells you what I know.  Yeah, and now watch Kessel go on to win the fucking Conn Smythe Trophy.

Okay, besides  work and the odd period of hockey, I’ve also somehow managed to squeeze in a fair amount of reading, lotsa music and even a movie or two.  Part of that whole getting-some-balance-in-my-life thing I’ve been working toward.  With mixed results (hey, but at least I’m trying!).

Read John Fante’s 1939 novel Ask the Dust and absolutely loved it.  Set in 1930’s Los Angeles, the story of Arturo Bandini, aspiring novelist, come West to seek his fame and fortune.  I described the book elsewhere as a cross between Nathanial West (Day of the Locust) and Knut Hamsun (Hunger).  I photocopied  two pages and glued them into a “Book of Commonplace” I keep of favorite quotes and excerpts.  I also hand-copied these sentences:

Over the city spread a white murkiness like fog.  But it was not the fog:  it was the desert heat, the great blasts from the Mojave and Santa Ana, the pale white fingers of the wasteland, ever reaching out to claim its captured child.

fanteHere’s a piece from Salon.com that talks about  about Mr. Fante’s life and work.   Definitely a book–and an author–worthy of rediscovery.

In terms of movies, Sherron and I puzzled our way through David Lynch’s ultra-weird “Mulholland Drive” and I’m nearly done watching the second and final season on the 1967 TV series, “The Invaders”.  Fun to slam down one or two episodes with a stiff glass of scotch after a hard day of writing.  That’s my method for stress relief (patent pending)…

Lots of time in my office means lots of tunes playing too…and, as of yesterday, that includes Bob Dylan’s latest, Together Through Life.  Not sure what I think of the new one yet.  Maybe give it a few more listens before I decide.  It lacks a cut with the mythic, spiritual power of something like “Man in the Long Black Coat” or, from  Time out of Mind, the searing and entrancing “Highlands” (all sixteen-and-half minutes of it).  Some good songs, especially “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”, “My Wife’s Hometown” and “It’s All Good” and I like the Tex-Mex flavor but I wouldn’t count Together Through Life in the front rank of Dylan’s body of work.  Not by a long shot.

godPlenty of instrumental, ambient stuff pouring out of my speakers:  Explosions in the Sky, God is an Astronaut, the soundtrack of “Mysterious Skin” (Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie collaborating).  Old Tangerine Dream (“Atem”), Mogwai and NIN’s “Ghosts I-IV”.

The perfect accompaniment; the music transports me to a place beyond physical laws and temporal constraints.  In this undetermined location I can work without distraction, removed from obligations and duties.  That door over there opens on nothing, the backdrop outside my window cunningly executed but, upon close inspection, reveals imperfections, chips in the paint and swirls left by careless brush strokes–

The artifice holding, for now, but I keep the door closed and the blinds mostly drawn.  To maintain the necessary illusion, preserve it through a combination of higher physics, prayer, alchemy and the judicious use of duct tape, when all else fails…

door

4 comments

  1. Mike Cane

    Damn, Cliff. You’ve made me happy here.

    First, Star Trek. From the first trailer (not the welding the Enterprise dumb one), I’ve been waiting to see it. Kirk as a misfit is *perfect* framing for him — that’s exactly what he was as a Captain, when you think about it! And then the other trailers came. Scotty: “I like this ship — it’s exciting!” — that line kills me. And McCoy with his anti-space rant is also killer. It’s like they rubbed the crust off the characters and renewed them. We can see the young plants they were at one time.

    Second: OMFGZ!! You’ve FINALLY read FANTE!! FINALLY!!!
    http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/im-infecting-you/
    — bastards removed the YouTube there, alas!

    And:
    http://mikecane.wordpress.com/2007/04/16/the-song-that-makes-me-cry/

    Man, you must read ALL of Fante. AND his bio! And then go onto all of BUKOWSKI — and HIS bio. And ALSO Knut Hamsun’s HUNGER. They’re all of the same piece!! Wow, do you have some great reading ahead of you!!

    Keep going, pal!

  2. Mike Cane

    Here’s that song on YouTube, Cliff:

    Crap, my eyes still water listening to it. “The days have run away.” Damn them!

  3. jargoneer

    Just read a few of the reviews of ‘Star Trek’ over here – the general opinion seems to be that it’s good fun but not necessarily in the spirit of the old series, which sounds rather like The Onion’s take on it.

    The creator of ‘The Invaders’, Larry Cohen, ended up making a whole slew of B-movies in the 80s – such classics as ‘Q:The Winged Serpent’, ‘It’s Alive’, ‘Maniac Cop’, and ‘The Stuff’ (you can’t beat a film about killer yoghurt). There was a dreadful update of ‘The Invaders’ made in the 90s with a view to re-launching it but fortunately it failed. I always saw ‘Dark Skies’ as it’s spiritual successor.

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