The following is an excerpt of an interview onMilwaukee.com did with John Kruth, author of Rhapsody in Black: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison (Backbeat Books). Visit onMilwaukee.com to read the full interview.
Let’s talk some more about Orbison. Had anyone written a book about him before? If not, that seems almost hard to believe. If so, what did you aim to do differently?
This is the first time I’ve written a book about someone that has already had a book, in this case two, previously written about them. I don’t want to be a jerk but the first one I read was so poorly written that it actually inspired me to take up the mantle and set things right for the man. The second book, “Dark Star,” by Ellis Amburn is quite good. He’s a fine historian who wrote for Newsweek. But I felt he didn’t delve into the music the way I would have liked, which left an opening for me. Being a songwriter and a singer – and I say that in all humility in the same breath as mentioning Roy Orbison, I feel I have an unusual gift/ability to get to the core of what it’s all about, compared to someone who hasn’t had the experience of performing, arranging and living the music.
Did you learn anything that came as a surprise to you?
Surprises? How great and how lame some of the MGM tracks were. Check out the album “Hank Williams The Roy Orbison Way.” I’d never heard it before, and most of the musicians I interviewed didn’t even recall recording it. It’s wild. It sounds like a Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra production. They took Hank to Vegas with that one. But the story of his life fascinated me, the way he was able to overcome incredible tragedies and managed to continue creating in spite of the devastating cards that fate dealt him. Ultimately, Roy was a sonic alchemist who turned pain into beauty.
How much time did you spend writing the book?
Keep reading this interview on onMilwaukee.com!
Orbison’s singing has inspired everyone who has heard it, from Springsteen to k. d. lang, and laid the very foundation for goth. While fascinating from a pop culture standpoint, it is Orbison’s life’s journey that makes a great story that has yet to be told to its fullest. Rhapsody in Black doesn’t shy away from or trivialize the personal pain, alienation, and tragic events that shaped Orbison’s singular personality and music. Roy Orbison wasn’t merely a singer but a sonic alchemist who, in the end, transformed unfathomable human misery into transcendent melody and platinum records. Rhapsody in Black: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison contains new interviews with over 20 people who worked closely with Orbison throughout his life.
Tom DeMichael is the author of James Bond FAQ, and today, we’re celebrating Daniel Craig’s birthday! Below is an excerpt of an interview with Tom on Out of the Past. Check out their website for the full interview.
Which are your least favorite Bond movies? Why?
As I mentioned in my book, I find the 1967 version of Casino Royale to be intolerable – but as I also noted, it’s not considered to be an “official” Bond film. Of the 23 Bond films produced by Eon Productions, my choice for least favorite Bond film would be a tossup between Moonraker and A View to A Kill. Moonraker, because I think Michael Lonsdale – despite his normally fine abilities as an actor – completely underplayed his role of Hugo Drax. Plus, the whole scene with Jaws and his newly-found girlfriend Dolly saving Bond and Holly Goodhead aboard a space shuttle makes me want to turn off the whole film at that point. A View to A Kill forces us to believe that Tanya Roberts is a geologist, villainous May Day is stronger than Oddjob – a character portrayed by a former Olympic weightlifter, and that Roger Moore – bless him – could still be a sexy and action-packed 007 at the age of 58. Both films suffered from a weak script and a general lack of creative direction and inspiration.
Which actor will play the next Bond?
Daniel Craig, who has brought to the screen much of the rough and cold demeanor that Ian Fleming’s original James Bond had, is contracted to star in the next two Bond films – known currently as Bond 24 and Bond 25. At 45 right now, Craig would be only near age 50 when that arrangement is completed. Seeing how Roger Moore lasted until age 58 and Sean Connery returned as Bond at age 53 in Never Say Never Again, it’s not unreasonable to think that Daniel Craig could re-up for another tour of duty as Bond toward the end of this decade.
So, considering that Craig is going nowhere in the foreseeable future, the gossip still rages as to who the “next” James Bond will be. Initial thoughts have tagged Robert Pattinson – from the Twilight movies – as a possible candidate, along with actors like Christian Bale and Guy Pearce. Considering the latter two would be 45 and 50 when Craig finishes his shift, they are unlikely. Henry Cavill, only 30, has also been mentioned as a possibility and actually tested for the role of Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.
Despite their varied abilities, all six actors who have played Bond were relatively unknown, and certainly not A-list performers, when chosen for 007. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan had made their names in television series prior to taking the iconic role, and the rest came to the table with experience ranging from print model, stage performances, and secondary roles in feature films. It’s very likely that next James Bond will come from similar backgrounds.
What is the future of the franchise?
The James Bond film franchise is very unique in the history of cinema. It’s relatively unprecedented for a literary character to be brought to the Silver Screen managed by the same production team for fifty years. Certainly, you have Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan – like Bond, portrayed by different actors over the years – but none of those series were controlled in total by a single creative entity. The Broccoli family members – first Albert, with partner Harry Saltzman until he split in the mid-70s, then stepson Michael G. Wilson and soon after daughter Barbara Broccoli – have maintained the roles of producer since 1962. Today, Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli continue to successfully push the buttons for the franchise. Waiting in the wings is Wilson’s son, Gregg, who has been involved with the Bond films since The World Is Not Enough and was most recently an associate producer on Skyfall. It’s generally assumed that he will take over the executive reins at some point in the future. But Michael Wilson is in his early 70s and Barbara Broccoli is only in her early 50s, so they have many years left before turning over the keys to the 007 offices to Gregg.
In terms of the films themselves, you need only to look at the fact that the most recent Bond film, Skyfall, brought in more than $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales. That doesn’t include Blu-Ray, DVD, on-demand, and all the merchandising. I don’t think there’s any doubt that James Bond will return – for many, many years to come.
Keep reading this interview on Out of the Past!
James Bond FAQ is filled with biographies, synopses, production stories, and images and illustrations seldom seen in print, leaving little else to be said about the world’s favorite secret agent. This book includes a foreword by Eunice Gayson.
Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll. He is also the series editor of the FAQ series, as well as the author of the two Fab Four FAQ books. The following is an excerpt of an interview with Music Tomes. Please visit their website for the full interview.
You’ve written extensively on the Beatles. What about the group first captivated you?
I had older brothers who were record buyers back when the Beatles were still recording; I was a little young for all of that. But I remember vividly the Capitol swirl and Apple labels – they stood out among the 45s, in my mind at least.
What grabbed me about the Beatles was their sound, and that didn’t click with me until I first heard the Red and the Blue albums – the 1962-1966and 1967-1970 compilations. That was mind blowing – having the scope of their career laid out on four discs; everything from “She Loves You” to “Strawberry Fields Forever” and beyond. To me, it was like every sound imaginable had been done – and by the same four guys! So those packages were the real gateway for me. Thereafter, catching A Hard Day’s Night and Help! on TV sealed the deal – these guys weren’t just great musicians, but compelling, funny personalities, too.
You’ve also written two books in the FAQ series on the Beatles. With so much written about the band, what is the ultimate goal of these books?
I imagined that, like myself, there were a lot of fans that were hungry for a single volume work that was neither a deeply scholarly analysis, nor an colorful series of superficial anecdotes. Or worse yet, trivia. Something that, furthermore, contextualized the Beatles’ achievements by placing them into the times in which they created.
At the same time, I thought it be great if somebody could deconstruct their story, so that you could zero in on exactly what aspect or another that you wanted to learn about. So the first FAQ was created as a way to present a ton of information broken down by facet, that invited readers to pick up the book at any point and begin reading where there interests lie, and let the history take them where they wanted to go.
No one else did it, so I stepped up!
The Beatles are a well-covered subject, but creating a narrative that got to the good stuff with immediacy was the goal. It didn’t feel like anyone had really covered their solo years as an integrated entity, hence 2.0. In a way, covering such a massive amount of ground with the two FAQs was easier to accomplish, with all the quantifiable milestones along the way, than Revolver, which was a narrowly focused topic.
But I wanted to challenge myself as a writer and researcher, and hopefully, bring something new to the table. So while the FAQs were straightforward reporting with some opinion thrown in, Revolverwas intended as a conversation starter, something to get people to re-examine their long-held opinions and see the Beatles’ work with fresh eyes.
Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the upcoming titles in the series?
We have a pretty well-developed “wish list” of titles that we are tracking down just the right writers for. But ones that are signed and sealed include The Twilight Zone, Star Wars, Film Noir and Doctor Who, on the TV/film side of things. With music, we have upcoming titles on The Who, Miles Davis, Jimmy Buffett and Hendrix.
Keep reading this interview on Music Tomes.
The making of Revolver – hunkered down in Abbey Road with George Martin – is in itself a great Beatles story, but would be nothing if the results weren’t so impactful. More than evenSgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds, Revolver fed directly into the rock ‘n’ roll zeitgeist, and its influence could be heard everywhere: from the psychedelic San Francisco sound (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead); to the first wave of post-blues hard rock (Sabbath, Zeppelin); through movie soundtracks and pretty much everything that followed it – including every generation of guitar-based pop music and even heavy metal. More than any record before or after, Revolverwas the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.
What do you not like about what is going on with film criticism in this day and age?
To talk about the status of film criticism today, some people cannot thread that needle so they make it personal. They decide they don’t like Ben Affleck because he dated Jennifer Lopez and they review his movie based on the fact that they don’t like him rather than what the quality of the movie was. It’s a lot of personal grudge criticism that I don’t like.
I really like that you brought that up in An Askew View 2. You talked about the personal issues that Kevin Smith had been going through and reviewers glomming on to those issues instead of really reviewing his films. It seems like we are in a time where many journalists don’t know where the line is between gossip and real facts.
I agree with you. There are two points in Kevin Smith’s career where that happened. It happened with Jersey Girl and the Bennifer thing. Then it happened with Cop Out with the Southwest thing. Any critic can respond to either of those films positively or negatively. But whether Kevin Smith was booted off a plane for his weight doesn’t play into the quality of Cop Out. If you don’t like buddy-cop movies, say you don’t like buddy-cop movies and this doesn’t work for A,B, and C. But you don’t go after a guy for his weight and make that the headline…focus on the work. I think the fact that we pass judgement on actors or directors based on the flow of information through gossip sites and gossip tv shows is very problematic.
Do you feel a connection to Kevin Smith since you are both from New Jersey?
The thing that appeals to me about Kevin Smith is, yes I’m from New Jersey, but beyond that the generational thing is important to me. As a director, he speaks to the issues that interest me in a way that interests me. Like wow, he’s talking about these things as I’m going through them. As he’s faling in love and getting married, I’m falling in love and getting married. As he is contemplating his religion and faith, that’s what I’m doing. As he has a child, now I have a child. It’s like wow he’s going through it right there with me. That’s why I don’t want him to quit. Because when he’s going into the nursing home and I’m going into the nursing home, I want that movie.
There is a kinship I feel with Kevin Smith. The examples he uses in his films, the films he alludes to, just his whole manner of being. The way the men and women in his films talk is the way that me and my buddies and my wife talk. Hopefully not as foulmouthed, but that’s what makes it funny. This is a guy from my generation who made it and who is making the movies about us and our lives and what we are going through. That is the thing about Kevin Smith for me. He creates these universal stories but gives them touchstones that we can recognize being from that generation.
In the year 2002, An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith was the first book to gaze at the cinema of one of New Jersey’s favorite sons, the independent and controversial auteur ofClerks (1994), Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), Dogma (1999) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). Now, a full decade after that successful original edition, award-winning author John Kenneth Muir returns to the View Askewniverse to consider Kevin Smith’s second controversial decade as a film director, social gadfly, and beloved media “talker.” From Jersey Girl (2004) to the controversial Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), from the critically deridedCop-Out (2010) to the incendiary and provocative horror film Red State (2011), An Askew View 2 studies the Kevin Smith movie equation as it exists today, almost two full decades after Smith maxed out his credit card, made Clerks with his friends, shopped it at Sundance, and commenced his Hollywood journey. In addition to Kevin Smith’s films, An Askew View 2 remembers the short-lived Clerks cartoon (2000) and diagrams the colorful Smith Lexicon.
How can teachers use True Acting Tips: A Path to Aliveness, Freedom, Passion, and Vitality in their classroom?
True Acting Tips is an invigorating exploration of the deeper values of all artistic creation, which is rooted in our shared humanity. Often, under the pressures and challenges of navigating their way through the complexities of social life and figuring out where they fit into the scheme of things, students lose touch with their creative spirit and the intrinsic power they possess to be fully expressive human beings. True Acting Tips offers 203 dynamic reflections on the basic values of authentic living which can re-ignite the students’ desire to be more who they actually are and to make greater connections with the world around them.
What types of inspiration does the book give to the teachers?
I have a summer program where I train drama teachers and professors in how to teach the Sanford Meisner technique, so I have worked with hundreds of teachers. One thing I know is that if a teacher can help the students re-claim their availability to the people in their lives, they start to awaken to the fact that this is the route towards greater satisfaction in life. I call this “listening with the ear of one’s heart” and this suggests that the path is about becoming very sensitive to what is actually going on with other people. This also happens to be a requirement in the craft of True Acting. Of course, this requires that the students begin to take their attention off of themselves which, especially in the high school students, is quite a struggle as their whole life is about, “How do I look, what do other people think of me, do they like me?” Yet, the struggle is certainly worth it and True Acting Tips offers a doorway to this path with many examples and exercises for the teacher to do with their students in the classroom.
Did the quotes in True Acting Tips inspire the tips or did you search for quotes to match the tips?
I happen to work in an organic way. As I was writing the book, I would channel things that had an impact on my life into new tips. The book developed from daily tips that I was uploading to my website and to my Facebook page.
Keep reading this interview at StageNotes.
True Acting Tips leads stage and screen actors on a journey of passion, intimacy, and personal investment. This isn’t to say that there will not be heavy demands and a high cost, but ultimately, this book is designed to offer the clarity and encouragement to become an actor who makes a difference in the lives of the audience members.
Keith Elliot Greenberg is the author of December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died, now out in paperback from Backbeat Books.
Why did you feel compelled to write this book?
For 30 years, I’ve been carrying this story. I was five years old when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, and the first movie I ever asked my parents to see was A Hard Day’s Night. John Lennon never knew me, but I felt that I knew him, and he understood me. Mark David Chapman felt the same way. But because something misfired in his mind, he decided to take John Lennon away from all of us.
Some of the most moving parts of the book are the scenes of ordinary New Yorkers coming to the Dakota after the tragedy to express their sorrow and grieve with one another. Do you remember what you did that night?
The night of the murder and the aftermath is so vivid to me. I can see the John Lennon button I hung from the rearview mirror of my car. I remember the feeling of serenity, standing in silence at the vigil in Central Park. It’s strange because about a week later, I was in a diner in Queens, and ran into some people I’d seen at the vigil. We looked at each other and nodded, didn’t have to say anything, because we all were feeling the same thing.
I’m a lifetime New Yorker and, in some ways, the story of John Lennon’s death is a story of this city. When I interviewed people for this book—Mayor Ed Koch, a woman who lives in the Dakota, a guy who was in the emergency room when Lennon came in, a cop called to the scene—we all shared a very New York perspective of what occurred. This was a tragedy for the world, but it happened in our city—the city I love as much as any family member—and, for that reason, the memories seem that more intense.
What can we learn by looking closely at this one day in such detail? It’s clear from your book that there’s so much more to this story than just the shooting of a rock icon by a mentally ill man—shocking as it was. Why is it so significant?
December 8, 1980 was more than a day. It was a convergence. I tried to tell the story of John Lennon’s life—his emotional highs and lows—and how it all led to this day. Mark David Chapman’s was unraveling, going back and forth over whether he should commit this act, and then, in one moment, it all exploded. Everybody felt it. And the feeling lingers even now, 30 years later.
Some have said that Lennon’s death changed the relationship between celebrities and their fans. Do you agree with that?
Lennon’s death changed our perspective. John was nice to his fans, the people who hung out in front of the Dakota every day. No one realized that stalkers could actually be dangerous. Because of this incident, celebrities have had to build walls around themselves, cut themselves off. They’re scared. It makes you wonder about the effect this isolation has had on music. How can you write songs about regular people when you’re terrified that one of them, in Lennon’s words, is going to pop you off?
Why is it important to look at these events from the perspective of 30 years on?
Thirty years seems like such a short time. In many ways, I feel like the same person I was then. So do the people I interviewed for the book. But it’s important to take a moment like this—I don’t want to trivialize it and call it an anniversary—and take stock of what occurred 30 years ago. Think about the music we missed, think about the doors John could have opened, think about Yoko’s words to continue his dream of peace and pass it on to the next generation.
December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died follows the events leading to the horrible moment when Mark David Chapman – the paunchy, mentally ill Beatles fan – calmly fired his Charter Arms .38 Special into the rock icon, realizing his perverse fantasy of attaining perennial notoriety. New York Times-best-selling author Keith Elliot Greenberg takes us back to New York City and the world John Lennon woke up to, and we follow the other Beatles, Lennon’s family, the shooter, fans, and New York City officials through the day. Once the fatal shots are fired, the pace only becomes more breathless.
Mix: What advice about mastering would you give to students that they can put to use immediately?
Steve: First, make a distinction between hearing and listening. We hear all the time, but listening is a conscious event. Bring attention to your listening.
Second, work to get an accurate listening environment. Investigate speaker placement, especially, and work toward accurate frequency response from your system. Tuning your listening position sweet spot with a Real Time Analyzer and room EQ is a great start. You wouldn’t operate on someone without an X-Ray to see where the internal organs are, and you shouldn’t make critical changes to audio without knowing that what you are hearing out of your system is closely equivalent to what went in to it.
Third, work at a consistent level. You can check things softer or louder, but find a position for your volume control and only work there. Train your ear for a given output, and your decision making process will receive a consistent input.
Lastly, I’d make sure that the students have a clear view of the stage of music production they are working on at any given moment. There are generally four stages of production: Tracking, Mixing, Mastering and Distribution. These stages closely reflect the stages of baking a pie.
Tracking is like getting the ingredients together: the fresher and cleaner the source material is, the better the pie will be.
Mixing is like, well, mixing. This is where all the components are blended together and placed in the pan. It is important to realize that the freshly mixed and prepared pie is not yet ready to eat: it still needs baking.
Mastering is the baking phase. Among the most common errors mastering engineers see are half-baked pies. This is when compression, limiting, and high levels make the mastering job more about restoration than enhancement. If the mixed file sounds like it is ready to go on the radio, it is probably not in an appropriate pre-mastered state.
The last stage, distribution, is like the hot pie on the windowsill, drawing the audience and fans from far and wide.
It is important to know and work appropriately on the stage you are in.
Desktop Mastering is a conceptual guide, intertwining a broad range of knowledge regarding audio engineering principles and practical applications for those wishing to enhance their own as well as their clients’ work. In addition to providing a step-by-step in-depth survey of a successful mastering plug-in chain, Desktop Mastering covers real-world practical applications, the fundamentals of audio and electronics. Also included is a personal guide to the business of mastering, leveraging emerging social networks for positive personal and business results.
Today marks the 50th year anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.
Andrew Hansford is the author of Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla (Applause Books). This is an excerpt of an interview posted on Chic Galleria. Please visit the site for the full interview.
How did you get started in fashion?
I started many years ago when I worked as a model in Europe.
Whose idea was it for this book?
It was my idea. I knew after all the thousands of people who came to see the exhibitions would like to know more. I was asked all the time about their relationship and details of the dresses.
Can you talk a little more on the book?
It was a pleasure to write. It came from the heart and I hope people see the friendship between the two. Not just ‘another’ Marilyn book but one that shows the true side of her.
William Travilla is one of the best costume designers of all time and Marilyn Monroe his most famous client. Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla focuses on the striking dresses that Travilla designed for Marilyn, from his early work on the thrillerDon’t Bother to Knock and the gorgeous pink dress in which Marilyn sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” to the legendary white dress from The Seven Year Itch, which arguably contributed to the collapse of Marilyn’s marriage to Joe DiMaggio. Featuring Travilla’s original sketches, rare costume test shots, dress patterns, photographs of Marilyn wearing the dresses, plus exclusive and never-before-seen extracts from interviews with Travilla, this book offers a fresh insight into the golden age of Hollywood.