Friday, May 30, 2008
This is titled "HOUSE OF H2o," just like my blog and another web/ pod project we are doing. This great photo, done by the talented LORRIE McCLANAHAN, makes me feel like I'm living inside a snow globe, looking out on Christmas Eve.
If you are interested in blur photography, as i am, please check out the artwork of Lorrie, and others, at:
It is Friday afternoon. "Magic Time' for me here in Las Vegas. The sun will soon set somewhere behind Red Rocks, and the neon will glow again. Remember: there is no time like the present. In fact... there is no time, period, just the present. That's all we have. I'm working on a novel, "Condo: The Kinda True Story of how Las Vegas Got High" and the main character teaches us that... he lives in the here and now.
I invite you to join me in making the now happen. Make this weekend yours.
If you want to see some cool stuff, meet me at JON MARRO'S blendapparel.com... he's a genius.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I am a contributing writer to a pop music website and so won't take up too much webspace reviewing any CD's here, but, I just have to encourage you to give a listen to "Love For A Child," a sensational song on Jason Mraz's 'We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.'
I caught Mraz & Co. on Leno last week, doing a kind-of dragging "I'm Yours," the happy single from the new CD. It was fine and WSWDWST has some pretty good songs to underscore your summer but, when I got to the ballad "Love For A Child," I had to pull the car over to the side of the road, as it's pretty hard to drive well with tears in your eyes. I replayed track 6, and then, there came those tears again!
Wow. Jason Mraz was always so clever with the rhymes, and the words that don't quite rhyme as well. He's the emo dude who steals away from the party and you catch him upstairs with your girlfriend, humming & strumming away.
He has written some fine songs along the way. "Bella Luna" and especially "Life is Wonderful" are great but now? This very personal, moving song is way more than anything I ever saw coming. Like maybe Lennon had a daughter who married McCartney's son and they had a kid who inherited John's sharp edge and Paul's soft side and had the balls to tell the truth. Life may well be wonderful, but it isn't without pain. This song never complains, it explains and I love it, him for that!
LOVE FOR A CHILD is a very brave move, a beautiful, meaningful song for the ages. Real men cry and really talented real men are honest enough to open up the family photo album, bravely pointing out the rough stuff.
I always knew Jason Mraz was cute and astute; rhyming and timing like nobody ever. But hey- I never saw this coming.
A guy who'll play it by turning -up his cards prior to the flop is a guy brave enough to bet on.
Me? I'm in... I'm all in.
*****Note the above artwork- it is simply genius*****
Thursday, May 15, 2008
It has been ten years since FRANK SINATRA left us. Some longtime friends refuse to believe it, preferring to think of him as just being on the road. I like that.
I was proud to be a small part of the postage stamp thing yesterday here in Las Vegas. (You'll note that the stamp I've featured on my websites and blogs is a 41 cent one, but by the time they released it, prices went up a penny).
He once asked me- from the stage- who wrote the song he was about to sing. I called out the composer's name from the audience and he took my word for it, repeating it to the Las Vegas audience. Going backstage after that 11PM show, the old man walked by me on his way out. Never making eye contact (he was actually looking at my date) he took the silk pocket square from his tux and stuffed it into my blazer in one smooth move. To me, that meant 'thank you.'
When I was twenty something, I said something to him that broke him up between shows. I had run it by Jilly who insisted I tell the boss. We entered the star's dressing room and it was filled with big shots. Jilly hit me in the arm. "Tell him.''
I did. It was a line about Jane Pauly and her husband, Garry Trudeau, who was really hammering Sinatra in his comic strip, Doonsbury. My joke was off-color, mean- spirited and pretty funny.
"Write that down," Sinatra asked/told me. I faxed the material the next day and the superstar used it on stage off and on for the next week or so.
The best book on Sinatra the singer is WILL FRIEDWALD'S 'The Song Is You.' I recently re-read it as Will was nice enough to sign a copy for me. And now, a decade after Sinatra's passing, the book more than ever is better than ever. Who cares, really, about the gossip? What remains is the music and Will got that and got it right. Will and producer JACK LEWIN put together "Our Sinatra" and if you're interested in hearing the music Sinatra made famous, make a point of catching that show.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Well, it did make me feel weird, but I got through it.
I quoted Harold Bloom, William Shakespeare, some Latin maxims, referenced some of my current favorite websites like ---www.blendapparel.com (a VERY COOL SITE, so you'll know) and my own stupid blogs and by the end of the interview about my novel "Rey De Diamantes," (The King of Diamonds), I was kinda feeling it.
Well, sort of.
So here's the thing. I don't speak Spanish. I am able to pick- up a little, but only when it is spoken really really slowly, which it never never is. I totally understand the weather girl on the Univision. I mean, who doesn't? She's got the map, the rack, the pa-dunk-a-dunk. Oh, I get it.
And, those sexy telenovelas? I can last the required 3-5 minutes, ya know? Oh, snap!
But when it comes to being interviewed by a Spanish-speaking entertainment reporter, it got pretty weird.
I think I may have either offended everyone south of the border, down Mexico way, or perhaps ordered a butt load of taco salad. I'm am still not sure.
I mean, I studied Latin for a total of six years. And I speak an Italian dialect picked-up from the relatives on my mom's side and from a few gangsters I've met along the way.
Bottom line? I have a dinner date next week in LA with a very pretty columnist... or maybe I'm getting with her brother, the one who likes magic. Not sure.
As for the discussion of my novel, The King of Diamonds (Rey De Diamantes) I think it went well. I answered all of the questions the best I could-
YES, I DID complete the novel in less than 100 days.
NO, I DIDN'T base my characters on real people.
YES, I AM 600 pages into my new novel.
NO, I DON'T read any fiction while I'm writing.
YES, I AM flattered to be compared to Bret Easton Ellis.
What am I reading now? 'The Great Derangement.' MATT TAIBBI is one of the very very few writers who can make me laugh out loud.
Other than that, it was pretty cool. Somebody said something about my hair (I think that they may have liked it, especially after I confirmed that it was, in fact, real). Several commented on the black sweat/sweater with gold & silver design (a Brad Butter-ish gift from my bro Bela).
The final call came from some twenty-something who may be sending me his headshot as he claims that he is perfect for the role of handsome young Darin Diamond. At least that's what I think he said. It could well have involved a head of lettuce, and a diamond ring. Who knows these things?
I have decided to learn Spanish. Seriously. What a punk I am for not just doing it.
I wish you a great week. Plan out your dream and then follow it through.
And if you want to have some fun, late at night, tune into a Mexican soap opera and make up your own story line. Late late last night, my latest plot line involved a bag of weed, a thermometer, Gloria Estefan, a waterbed, some members of Menudo, and a mouthful of Fizzies. Weird, huh?
Sunday, May 4, 2008
So I wander down to the Fremont Street Experience last night to check-out my little brother's show, called 'WOW."
"Wow, am I glad to see you," Bela shouted out across the back of the Las Vegas Club. "I need you to do lights!"
The cast and crew turn to see who he is yelling at.
I'm looking OK. Freshly fluffed hair, lightly starched cotton shirt I later hear a young dancer describe as 'retro,' thin new jeans and my Rocketdogs ( really comfy shoes some random girl complimented a year or so ago).
"Who is that?" the emcee of Bela's circus-stunt show asks.
"That's his... they are brothers," a handsome Russian acrobat answers as my bro and I hug.
Apollo the dog literally flies out from backstage, as if on cue, just as I ask Bela and Tammy where their kid is.
OK, so much for the nice-looking black jeans. They are immediately smeared with white fur. And oddly, I like my nephew's hairy addition to my outfit.
Even though I hadn't seen Bela's new show, I have recently attended forty Las Vegas productions and written full-length reviews of each. (Last fall I became the only person to ever see and then post critical reviews of EVERY show in Branson, Missouri, a resort destination where I have business interests as well. We're talking about 100 -plus shows down in the Ozarks). And after 20 years of writing and producing live shows and events, the thought of doing lights, while unexpected, strikes me as underwhelming.
"When is the show?"
"Now!" Bela kinda yells.
"Wow," I reply.
Take you back to the early 90's. Bela's family has "The Globe of Death" motorcycle stunt act in "Splash" at the Riviera. His step-dad is leaving town, his mom is returning to Hungary, and Bela, all of 17, pretty much takes over the act but "just can't live in the dressing room," according to The Vice President of Entertainment, Sam Distefano.
"Willie, I'd like to ask you a favor. Can you let Bela move into your house. Keep an eye on him?"
Anything for Sam. I had recently purchased my first home. Four bedrooms more than I actually needed. Nice pool. Pool table just arrived. So why not? I like Bela.
He moved from the Riv to my place in an hour.
To make a long story longer, he ended up keeping an eye on me, too. Papers were signed and where it asked for "Relation" Bela suggested I put 'BROTHER.'
We are standing in my office, located at the front of the house. A place I practiced law part time. A creative place where many shows were put together and specialty acts booked. Now, the Notary is waiting.
"William, you're only a few years older than me. What are you gonna put? Grandfather?"
Fade-In. A dozen years later, I'm pretty sick and I walk away from everything. The G friend. The pool table. Everything. I just... split. Took the dog and hung out in LA helping an actor friend learn (and then re-write) his lines. Started on a never-to-be television show. I left Bela to do whatever. After looking after him, it was now his turn, only I maybe deprived him of some of the fun by disappearing. But I do that. I disappear.
In a montage, there are seizures, hospital stays, drugs, late nights and then, as the music fades, I'm feeling well (some say looking 'better than ever ') and back in Las Vegas. Those who joined Bela's circus in the past year or two hadn't met me. But I am told,(at least once a week) that I sound exactly like him, that I use the exact same funny expressions as he. And even though he and I know that they got that back-to-front, we both like it. And now, more and more, I AM becoming like him. Sure, he took his cues from me, back in the day, but last night I literally had to take cues from him. Light cues.
The shows went well, in spite of the dumb ass doing lights. "Stevie Wonder could have done better" either Bela or I said. (Second show way better than the first, so you'll know.)
It has been said that we can pick our noses and our friends but we can't pick our family's friend's noses. Or something like that. I think it was Lincoln, but don't quote me.
The fact is--- and this is pretty heavy--- we CAN pick our family. We have a choice every minute of every day whom to put into our production. Looking for more drama? Comic relief? Sexual tension? Random whatever?
Me? I'm always searching for the perfect music to provide the soundtrack to my dream of life. I have consistently received compliments on the music from those sharing the ride.
Last night got pretty late.( Pretty. Odd.) So now, today, I've gotta ask myself: Who picked whom? Did I choose Bela or he me? I became his big brother because he asked me to. He became my little brother because I needed him to.
Our relationship informs the great friendship I'm writing about in my new novel, "Condo: The Kinda True Story Of How Las Vegas Got High."
In the book, the term "Bro" is only used with sincerity and great affection. I don't take that word lightly.
Some of the newer cast and crew members of Bela's show don't quite get it, us. The girlfriends don't try.
Apollo-the Great Pyrenees-he totally understands.
Friday, May 2, 2008
-SONGS I WISH I'D WRITTEN:
"Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?"
"Fields of Gold"
"Life Is Wonderful"
-SONGS I'D KINDA LIKE TO HEAR SUNG BY OTHERS:
"Bein' Green," "The Merry Old Land Of Oz" .................................JASON MRAZ
"House of the Rising Sun," "The Shadow Of Your Smile"..................JAMIE CULLUM
-SINGERS I'M GLAD I'M TALLER THAN:
-SINGERS WITH WHOM I'VE HAD LONG CONVERSATIONS ABOUT POP MUSIC:
-SINGER/SONGWRITERS I'D REALLY LIKE TO TALK WITH ABOUT MUSIC BUT WOULDN'T KNOW WHERE TO START:
... Jackson Browne
-FAMOUS MAGICIANS I KNOW:
Most of them
-FAMOUS MAGICIANS I DON'T REALLY CARE FOR:
-PEOPLE I SOMETIMES WISH I WERE:
(And that's just the "B's")
-PEOPLE I'D REALLY LIKE TO HANG-OUT WITH:
Beautiful and gifted people such as designer Jon Marro.
Funny and nice people like Louie Anderson.
Cute & current people(e.g. Nora O'Donnell, NBC News) and, especially---
Smart and well-read people like Christine Kenneally*
*Author of "The First Word- The Search For the Origins of Language." She's Australian, took her PHD in Linguistics at Cambridge, and, judging by the photo on the back cover of her book, she's pretty pretty. Add-in the tongue studies thing, those 60K words swirling above my head and man, I'd kinda like to hang with her at some point in my lifetime if at all possible. I mean, 'Did you say I've got a lot to learn?'
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