"Size has been one of the most popular themes in monster movies, especially those from my favorite era, the 1950s. The premise is invariably to take something out of its usual context--make people small or something else (gorillas, grasshoppers, amoebae, etc.) large--and then play with the consequences. However, Hollywood's approach to the concept has been, from a biologist's perspective, hopelessly naïve."
Weird news item of the week: William Faulkner wrote a vampire screenplay that, after collecting dust for decades, will soon go into production.
In 1945, Faulkner was hired to adapt Irina Karlova's gothic novel, Dreadful Hollow, for Howard Hawks. As is the fate of most scripts, this project was commissioned and developed and ... never filmed.
Some excerpts were published in the Oxford American a few years ago ... and now, according to the LA Times, writer & filmmaker Jonathan Betuel (The Last Starfighter) has purchased the rights. He plans to film the tale after a thorough script-tweaking (which includes changing the story's locale from Europe to the Deep South).
"Yes, Microsoft's new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful. I've spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face."
Charleston, SC has some great graveyards and cemeteries to explore. At night you can take a "ghost tour" with a storyteller who'll fill you in on some creepy local folklore. Even by daylight, some of these places were seriously spooky.
On some headstones, you'll see a skull and crossbones. Were these folks pirates? Did they die by poisoning? Apparently, it's a Scottish tradition, meant to remind us of the mortality of man (as if standing in a graveyard doesn't do that already). I also found references to a possible Free Mason connection. But as a big believer in secret histories, I think these are icons representing the evolution of angels.
Putting the Charleston meme aside for a moment (but not too far, as you'll see below), yesterday a strange and wonderful confluence of events swept through my life -- nothing major or life-changing, more like sublime. This began when I spotted a notice that David Greig's new play, The American Pilot, is opening at the Manhattan Theater Club (whose literary manager has written me some of the most heartfelt and encouraging rejection letters a spurned playwright could ever receive).
I don't know this play at all (the London premiere got rave reviews), but I do know its title star: the tall, bright, and handsome Aaron Staton, who, as an acting major at CMU, starred in my thesis play, The Planet on 158th Street. Aaron, along with actors Danny Bernardy and Davitt Felder and Tyler Poelle and the lovely Susan Heyward (a Charleston, SC native, making my meme intact), worked tirelessly and generously to develop the characters and story I'd written (huge and special thanks are also due that show's director, Caden Hethorn, who I took along as the play's chief developer and steward when Planet was selected for New York Stage and Film a few months later).
So all day long I'm thinking good thoughts about these great folks I'm blessed to have in my life, how audiences really dug the show (and how I wish somebody'd stage the damn thing again), but most importantly, how much fun we all had.
As Herrmann's theremin soars to otherwordly heights, I start grinning so wide that it's hard to keep my eyes open. Or are those tears? Seriously, I almost had to pull the car over for fear of crashing. For you see, when searching for a suitable soundtrack to my play about pulp sci-fi writers and parallel worlds and spaceships and big honking ray guns, Herrmann's score to that seminal movie was the perfect accompaniment, the spiritual core of the show's sound design.
I remember the first time I played the Herrmann score for the Planet cast. We were sitting in a fluorescent-lit rehearsal room on the third floor of the Purnell Center while a windy Pittsburgh winter blew snow against the windows. I brought a lot of things into that room to help set the mood, or explain story points: old Buck Rogers serials, the classic Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever," anthologies of 1930s science-fiction, etc. Some of it was useful, and some of it only served to generate looks of "Gosh, this guy's a geek" from my teammates. But on this day I cued the CD player to Herrmann's opening track where a monolithic theremin falls out of the sky and spikes straight down your spinal column ... and they all sat there nodding and grinning as a major part of the show's ambience, essentially a sixth cast member, clicked neatly into place.
And so here I sit, nearly four years later, already thinking about these good and talented friends and how happy I am for them and how much they mean to me ... and, as if on cue, the perfect soundtrack to that memory unexpectedly and impossibly swells into the cool LA air.
Here's hoping that all of you will know such perfect synchronicity at many, many points in your life. Some years I wonder what Thanksgiving is really all about, and then the universe thwacks me upside the head and says: Hey, jerkward, surely you realize by now that you're a really lucky guy.
There are lots of great bars and restaurants in historic Charleston, but my fave watering hole was tucked away on Sullivan's Island, a few miles to the east. The warm Atlantic breeze makes the air so salty you get dehydrated just sitting there ... so why not relax with a cold pint?
Poe's Tavern features low-brow food that's easily a few notches above your typical bar fare. I had the Gold Bug sandwich -- grilled chicken smeared with pimento cheese -- but decided to skip the dubiously-named Edgar Allan Nachos.You don't come here for a gourmet meal, you come here for the groovy, creepy vibe.
The wood and brick walls are festooned with excellent Poe-themed artwork (like Ralph Steadman'swonderful cover for the spoken word CD Closed on Account of Rabies) and many framed posters of famous Poe films. And the salt-weathered indoor/outdoor bar proudly sports twenty excellent beers on tap.
All of this would've greatly pleased and/or depressed old Edgar, who spent 13 months in Charleston stationed at nearby historic Fort Moultrie, which saw action in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.
Deep underground, I prowled through heavily-fortified magazines where ammo was stored. These claustrophobic brick enclosures, connected by a labyrinth of tunnels, brought to mind a chap named Fortunato and a certain cask of amontillado ...
This week blogging will be light. I'll be posting pix from my recent trip to Charleston, SC, one of the few die-hard Republican bastions left in the nation. Geographically, if your map's upward orientation is north, this state can be found fairly far to the right. Funny, that. And no, their newspapers didn't take the election news too well, I'm afraid.
Here are people in transit at the Charlotte, NC airport last week. It was as miserable as it looks. And this week, it will look much worse. Give thanks that you are not one of them. Especially the guy picking his nose who got caught on camera, and now sits exposed and shamed on some LA guy's blog.
To promote its trade paperback collections, DC's esteemed Vertigo line of mature comic books is offering nifty free PDF downloads of several first issues. (I prefer holding books in my hands, but online sampling is a great thing).