Sunday, December 31, 2006

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

It's high noon on New Year's Eve and I just sent out my second draft of PRIMAL, the bigfoot movie I am doing a rewrite on. I talked to producer David Sterling, who must have been an early riser out in LA, then did one last look-over and shot it out.

Later today it is dinner and a movie with the family and off to some friends for the New Years party we have gone to for several years.

I looked back through my blog and realized I pretty much have the same resolutions each year--lose weight, work harder and smarter, shepherd my kids safely through the year--so they hardly bear repeating here.

I had a good year with both SEX MACHINE and BLACK MASS/THE DA VINCI CURSE/DEAD KNIGHT screening and getting picked up for distro. I am finishing the year with a lot lined up for 2007; we'll see where that all leads.

Last night my brother and I tried the new Axis and Allies game, Battle of the Bulge. It has a surprisingly different mechanic than the others in the long-standing series of board games but makes sense in the logic of the game. I played the Axis and made a startlingly large land grab as the Allied supply lines got tangled. Axis won, and another alternate universe falls.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stamping the X into XMas

Thank God Christmas is over. Aside from the usual trauma and catastrophes I broke an antique chair at my mother-in-law's house which will probably end up at the center of family disagreements for the next few decades or so, surpassing the Thanksgiving when my dad bit into one of my mother-in-law's brownies and broke out his front tooth.

This year, I hauled in some new clothes and Charles Frazier's new book and a few bottles of wine (including one from Coppola's vineyard), and spent an Amazon gift certificate on Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, the Robin Hobbs Liveship Traders Trilogy, and a couple more of those great, great Hard Case Crime paperbacks.

I am chunking along on Primal for a January 1 delivery date. I saw some location photos of a pretty cool cave that will play a central part in the feature, and am working that in.

I have dozed through a few movies but been wide awake during a couple of really good ones, including Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School and Little Miss Sunshine. Marilyn Hotchkiss was so good I immediately put it back in and started listening to the commentary track, because I had a couple of suspicions about why things were done, most of which proved out to be true.

My brother got the Star Trek cartoon series on DVD and I proved that there was a character with his name in it, a sore point in his early childhood, according to our mother. In real life, he was named after Eric Fleming, the trail boss in Rawhide.

I played the new Marvel board game, which is fun but needlessly complicated, though I won in a last-ditch battle, Wolverine vs. Spiral, which catapaulted me in points over my middle-school nephew who was making hay with the Hulk. Then I turned around and stunk up Risk 2210 A.D., which is very fun even when you are down to holding Siberia and one or two other places while your brother rampages over the other continents. But like a true rogue state, I kept lobbing nukes at him, a nice added bonus missing in the earlier Risk games.

I'm ready to chuck 2006 aside and solider on to 2007. In the meantime, give me a shout at

Sunday, December 24, 2006

World's Finest Christmas

From Justice League of America 100 Page Super Spectacular, only 50 cents in 1973; the first comic I ever remember reading, given to me by my pal Tom Cherry after I wrote about it in this blog. I re-read it last night, and it is still great. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

News From Around the Globe

Reality show fever gripped my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, when "Armed and Famous," a celebreality show with people like Erik Estrada and Wee Man becoming real cops and patrolling the streets, came to town. First the local paper was front-page breathless about LaToya Jackson failing her physical and the radio station carried on about whether Erik Estrada had a toupee. But soon the bloom was off the rose when people saw them taking multiple takes of certain events and paying people to allow their faces to appear on-camera. The bitter truth is that reality shows aren't real. Just ask all my pals in the Writer's Guild, trying to get credit as writers on reality shows they worked on that allegedly don't use writers.

But my wife saw Jack Osborne at Cheeseburger in Paradise.

In other fictional programming news, I recently took "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" to task for making fun of midwesterners, showing a native of Columbus, Ohio who still used a record player and had never heard of Abbot and Costello. So the show fired back in a recent episode with a running gag about an overtime basketball game featuring "Muncie State." Now it's on. When you make fun of a Hoosier's basketball, it's on.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

And Eat It Too

Had to reboot my PRIMAL rewrite, so I have been chugging along on that for an end-of-the-year delivery.

I went to my nephew's birthday party and had one of the best pieces of cake I ever had. It was baked by an eastern European immigrant who is trying to break into business here, so he made this as a friend of my nephew's family to get the word out. It was so good that I have dreamed about that cake since. It is in the top ten pieces of cake I have ever eaten in my life. It made me weep to see crusts of it on disinterested kids' paper plates. All I can do is wish this man with his American Dream well.

I bought my nephew a classic version of Stratego. And all he did was immediately shove everything else aside and have me teach it to him. For my other nephew's birthday, I bought him Risk, and the same thing happened. Take that, Xbox. I still carry the torch for comic books, board games, and snap-tight models as the "bad uncle" I never had myself.

They served Colts Touchdown Sundae ice cream, and I observed that it started off tasting good, but the longer you ate it, the more bitter it became.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Party Like It's 1983

When I was a kid, Fangoria was the coolest magazine around. My somewhat steady appearances lately denote an overall decline in quality. Check it out here.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sex Machine Revs Up March 2007

Sex Machine Leaves Mark on Anthem Pictures
Scary Actioner – part Frankenstein, part pulp – Acquired for Worldwide Distribution
Agoura Hills, CA – Anthem Pictures President & CEO Chuck Adelman announced today it had acquired all rights to Austin, TX filmmaker Christopher Sharpe’s debut feature film, Sex Machine for worldwide distribution. The scary action-thriller is scheduled for a DVD Premiere in the United States in March 2007.

Sex Machine, which takes its name from a mysterious tattoo on the hero’s arm is the gripping story of a man who wakes up in the middle of a gangland hit to discover that his limbs are not his own. Frank is a tough-talking patchwork assassin, stitched together from the body parts of other failed assassins. When Frank learns that his ex-girlfriend is the next test subject, he opens both barrels on his “creators” and unleashes a gory bloodbath of revenge.

“When we first screened the movie we knew we had a winner – not only with the audience who love movies like Reservoir Dogs or The Killer, but with the folks who like their gore, “said Adelman. “Sex Machine really delivers the goods. This is a pulpy hybrid of horror and hitmen that really goes for the throat.”

Sex Machine, winner of the 2006 MicroCinema and DeadCenter Film Festivals was shot in and around Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK and comes from the demented minds of Director Christopher Sharpe and screenwriter John Oak Dalton. Shot for over several months as cast and crew were available, Sharpe and Director of Photography Shogo have infused with the movie with what critics have called, “killer visual style” from the opening credits onward. Hundreds of sketches, conceptual photos and makeup tests were completed so that the filmmakers could keep a consistent and interesting look on their meager budget. The planning paid off.

The movie was brought to Anthem by writer-producer Bill Cunningham (Scarecrow, .Com For Murder and the upcoming Gore Gore Gore-met ) when the director sent him a copy for his advice. “I watched the movie from beginning to end without having to fast forward, which is a testament to the story’s punch. I called Christopher right away and asked if the film had distribution and if he was represented by anyone. I wanted to be that guy. From there I took it around to my colleagues in the industry and Chuck really responded to what I did – the film’s pulpiness.”

Plans for the March 2007 DVD include: the feature, trailers, a DVD commentary track with the filmmakers, a behind-the-scenes feature and a gallery of stills and artwork.
# # #

Yeah, I better get that commentary track cranked out.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Zardoz Redux

I think I am about two-thirds through the PRIMAL rewrite for director Michael Su and chugging along. For those tracking my propensity for writing shower scenes, this one pretty much takes place outdoors where there is no plumbing. So we had to settle for a sponge bath, naturally.

I finished listening to Paul Giamatti read A SCANNER DARKLY by Philip K. Dick, and it was a great audio book. I had picked up the paper version some time ago because SEX MACHINE FX person Leah Sharpe got a job working on the movie version down in Austin, and I figured I would check out the movie at some point. But it just got too depressing, so I shelved it. I came back to it a week or so ago on audio book and really enjoyed it. What I like most about what I call "hippie-fi" is how virtually everyone up until William Gibson wrote NEUROMANCER had no concept of what the wireless, internet, cell phone future would actually be. There are always rooms with huge banks of tape-spinning computers and guys (and women) walking around in plastic jumpsuits open to their navels. Drugs and sex always play a big part, a failure to forecast the Reagan Era. Just think Sean Connery in ZARDOZ, John Saxon in EARTH TWO, and Charlton Heston in PLANET OF THE APES to see the kind of future lantern-jawed, blue-chinned, hairy-chested leading men they were forecasting in the 60s and 70s. Were it that we could return to that (future) past.

I would love to write a screenplay that takes the stance that it was written in the 70s and forecasting the 90s (like A SCANNER DARKLY), then raid a Salvation Army and shoot it with all the sideburns and bell bottoms and plastic ray guns and giant computers still intact. There's something deeply appealing about that.

And I know I could do it, too. I remember shooting a Super-8 short in the early 80s that featured a guy talking on a phone in a car, and having to make sure that you could see the cord trailing off to the dash, because of course if the phone didn't have a cord it would look broken. And I was also the guy that thought CDs would never take off because, after all, they were just little records. Nostradamus, indeed.

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