Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Wanna Be a Producer!

Ah, what my summer in St. Louis wouldn't be without a visit to The Muny.

Last week, the fiancee surprised me in a way that I'd never expect such an overtly-straight man to do; he took me to the theatre. No, not just the theatre. The outdoor theatre in St. Louis; the one that specializes in musical theatre.

The reason being that they were running The Producers last week.

I've seen the original movie version (Gene Wilder / Zero Mostel) once, but only after seeing the updated musical version (Matthew Broderick / Nathan Lane) several times. And being an unrepentant fan of musical theatre -- "the greatest two words put together in the English language" as executive producer Paul Blake remarked earlier in the evening -- why wouldn't I?

I had never seen the stage version, so I was delighted to find that was where we were headed Sunday evening after a delectable dinner at Crown Candy Kitchen. Unlike some productions of the past, it did not disappoint; the Muny flew in actors from Broadway for the main roles, and it showed. The set design was the best I've ever seen at the venue, particularly the "Springtime for Hitler" scenes. There's something incredibly powerful about a backdrop of four huge red Nazi flags along the entire Muny stage; it definitely was more startling than watching it on TV.

Mel Brooks is a genius, but the original was definitely wanting of "more," and the musical revival of it perfectly fleshes an already great idea out into a top-notch one. Obviously the movie is the best way to see the show, especially if you can't afford orchestra seats, because you get the full weight of all of the expressions on the actors' faces; which is pretty key in some scenes, and would have been missed had I not already known what was coming. The only problem with relying on the movie is its missing some pretty hilarious tunes like "The King of Broadway," "In Old Bavaria," and "Where Did We Go Right?"

It makes me want to watch the movie all over again. If for no other reason to have "Keep It Gay" stuck in my head, on a loop, for the rest of the week.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Return of the Yesteryear Hero

Above all, the thing I love most about Kevin Smith is that you can't keep him down. The guy may get discouraged, but he certainly will never stop living his dream.

My teen years were rife with a steady stream of quotations from all of his films, to those who were familiar and those who weren't (the latter receiving guff for being so obtuse). My best friend and I even started a screen play, which I still have in my possession, that was basically a similar version of a Kevin Smith story; Joe Blow has a boring life, a shitty job, an annoying girlfriend, and the girl he really wants is just out of reach, as is the rest of his happiness all of which are solely his own doing.

Everyone loves this guy. Try not to, I dare you. The reason why is because, for the most part, it's all of us. Grass is always greener, "what if I'd done that instead of this," ... maybe it's just the eternal question of the middle class, and no one else, but there it is.

The caffeine kicks in this morning and I retreat to the reading room and flip through Entertainment Weekly to pass the time; in this particular issue, there's a feature on "The Next A-List" of Hollywood. Among them is comedic powerhouse, Seth Rogen. The slovenly, furry, cuddly oddball of whom no one (including myself) can seem to get enough.

Sound familiar?

There's a reason. I learn in the blurb about him possibly dethroning Adam Sandler as the Jewey comedy giant the world over, there's a mention of his role in Kevin Smith's upcoming film Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

That guy always manages to sneak films by me; back in my teen years, that would have never happened; between my best friend and I, we could smell a new project of his before it was even in production. I just don't have the time to devote to superfandom anymore it would seem. Life gets too complicated with work and caffeine addictions and night upon night at the bars.

Costarring Elizabeth Banks, who I've loved since Wet Hot American Summer, I know it's not going to be "great," but certainly will be fun and a worthwhile see ... at least for me, a seemingly forever fan of his wittily-vile-humor-with-a-schlocky-twist style. The fact that two of today's best young(er) comedic actors star only sweetens the deal; particularly since Smith before insisted on only casting his buddies, who are mediocre actors at best. Some will make appearances, of course, in the new film but it's refreshing to see believable talent at center stage. I'm not alone when I say that the kid in Clerks 2 made that movie; had it not been for him, Smith would have had no hope for his future career. None.

So, here I go again. Going from swearing off Smith films forever after a Netflix viewing of Jersey Girl, to swearing I'll never, ever see Clerks 2, I again slacken my resolve for what I know will be a delightful little surprise.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finally, a free "Gift" I actually want!

Being a music snob from way back when in my Slackers days, I've subscribed to Magnet Magazine for ... oh, say ... 6 years. Or 8. I've lost track (though I guess I could figure out for sure since they're all still in a collection in my basement).

That aside, I've renewed the 2 year subscription just about every other year, save for one or two in the early years. A mostly glossy zine, part half-hearted legitimate music rag, it's been my periodical of choice in my mailboxes for years. My favorites are the always entertaining commentary of the "The Back Page" and "Where's the Street Team?", but the interviews and features are usually quite substantial and engaging, the photography excellent, the reviews usually dead-on, and advertisements kept to a minimum.

The accompanying compilation CD; however, is rarely worth the listen.

But my main gripe is these lazy bums can only muster 6 issues a year. Bi-monthly. Meaning, an entire magazine is supposed to be sustainable toilet reading fodder for 2 whole months?!

Yeah, right. Fortunately issues of Blender and Entertainment Weekly started mysteriously showing up in our mailbox; which, while lame, I'd otherwise be bored out of my skull in there. Thank god I have the likes of Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl spoilers to keep me company instead.

In any event, a few days ago I get the notice that my subscription is about to expire; and that if I would like to do anything about it, to please send more money and your #1 and #2 choices of the following free CDs we have laying around.

The list was as follows:
Against Me! New Wave
Eels Meet The Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1
Beach House Devotion
Georgie James Places
Photon Band Back Down to Earth
Bob Mould District Line
Sons & Daughters This Gift
The Aliens Astronomy For Dogs
Evangelicals The Evening Descends
Liam Finn I'll Be Lightning

My selections were:
#1: Sons & Daughters
#2: The Eels

My expectations were:
Some random junk band's CD that was neither in my selections nor on the list.

The reason:
This was the way it was, every time I have renewed.

Same promise of a cool free CD, same delivery of a lame useless one. I had no expectation that it would be different, but Shiva help me if that was going to keep me from trying.

Today, even before delivery of issue No. 79, it comes. The square padded envelope from Magnet.

Inside was my #1.

Talk about a good day.