Friday, November 10, 2006


I wrote this script soon after we completed "King's Highway" and I sold it last year. It was originally entitled "The American Standard" (after the bar in the script). The film had nothing to do with the toilet company, although that was where the title came from and I had incorporated the AS plant into the original script. Anyway, after the film was shot and completed, it was sold to Lifetime television and the title changed to "Deceit".

The film stars Matt Long (from a great, short-lived series on the defunct WB, "Jack & Bobby") and Emmanuelle Chriqui (most notably from HBO's "Entourage").

A couple of weeks ago, it premiered on Lifetime. Now, I would have written about the premiere, except that I didn't know about it until the day before its airing. Turns out the producer and/or his assistant forgot to tell me. This is a bummer. But, Ross (the producer) is a good guy, so I take him at his word that it slipped through the cracks. Luckily, I have a Saturday ritual of taking the TV Guide into the john and perusing most Saturday mornings. See, I like to see what movies are going to be on IFC and TCM, so I can TiVo them and then never watch them because I don't really have the damn time to watch movies anymore (what, with the 20 frickin' hours of television I record, plus trying to write scripts and, oh yeah, being a dad). I digress. So, I'm sitting on the throne. Peace and quiet. I check Sunday's listings on IFC. Mind you, Lifetime's listings are just below the IFC line in my TV Guide. Anyway.

"Hmmmm. "Antoine Fisher" on IFC. Seen it. It was okay. Shot in Cleveland though. So may----what the fuck? Is that "Deceit"? Airing tomorrow night? No. Is it? Holy shit! That's my movie! My movie is airing tomorrow!"

That's pretty much how it went down. Cut to me running out of the bathroom in just my boxers. It's now like, 11 am. I still haven't showered. "Kids. Didn't I say to turn off the television?" Switch on the computer. Our damn, slow as molasses, the worst PC ever on the face of the planet, computer. I don't think there is anything worse than our computer.

No. Wait. There is. Having to use dial-up AOL on our computer is worse. 20 minutes later, I'm on the Lifetime site and sure enough, it was my movie (or, rather, partly my movie). So I sent out as many emails as I could to tell people to watch Lifetime on a Sunday night when most people are watching "Desperate Housewives" or "Cold Case" or pretty much anything else besides Lifetime. I do recall NFL Football... yes, NFL Football is also on Sunday nights.

There were a lot of people I know who watched the movie and man, am I grateful. I wish I could have been with my folks when it aired.

While I could sit here and bitch about what I felt was wrong with the movie or complain about how the script was rewritten, there is no point. The truth is, I wrote the script to sell and have it made into a movie so someone else would see it and ask me to write more movies. From that script, I have been able to get a manager. And because of that script getting produced, I got some credibility when it came time to approach the "Squirrel Boy" writing staff about writing a couple of episodes (which I got to do). So, "Deceit" has been good for me.

Any of you out there reading this who watched the movie. THANK YOU!

Now, if I could just finish this damn thriller, I may regain some of my sanity again.

Tomorrow is Jake's birthday part and I'm pretty jacked up about it. This should be a lot of fun. The theme is Teen Titans. When we couldn't find a Robin piñata for the party, I made one. That's right, I put my 3rd grade art class skills to work and constructed a piñata from scratch. It turned out very nice, if I do say so myself. We'll see how long it lasts once a bunch of little kids hopped up on candy start swinging at it. Speaking of candy, there is so much junk in that piñata, I'm afraid of how long the thing is going to last once the mad banging begins. Luckily, Jake is the first slugger who gets a whack at it.

I plan to take some picture to show some of my co-workers who have been hearing about this monumental project for several weeks. Who knows, I could start my own specialty piñata business on the side. Wouldn't cost much. Hell, I already write off my newspaper subscription. Now we could claim flour and water on our taxes, too! Heh, that's a joke. IRS.

My mom is coming into town this morning and the kids are very excited. Dad called last night about his operation in December. He's getting a stint put in his carotid artery. The operation is taking place just before the holidays. I believe Beth is going to head out to Arizona to help out. I know that Heidi and her family are also going to be in Tucson. This should be a pretty nice Christmas for my folks, all things considered.


Friday, November 03, 2006

I am a creature of habit. I can't just start something in the middle and keep going. This blog, for instance. I should have started writing again months ago. Alas, I put it off until my birthday. That would be the beginning of a new year. That would be a good place to start over. That would be a good plan... if my birthday weren’t three days ago.


So here I am. 37 years old. I am a father to two wonderful children and the lucky man to have Julie as my wife. And yet, do I have anything to say? Do I have any profundities to share with the world? I doubt it.

But I want to get back into writing this thing. Even if it's just to air my thoughts. I know, I know. This is the digital age and every damn person under the sun has his or her own blog. And I know there are better written blogs out there. But what the hell. I've learned that I have a few readers. And damn it, I need to please them, even if it's just once or twice a week.

So Jan, Phil, Cindy, Steve and Julie, here I am, putting myself out there again and hoping I can connect with you.

Let me start off with Aaron Copland.

My birthday was Wednesday night. We had dinner and cake. I received some wonderful gifts. At this point in my life, birthdays are more about the kids than me. Man, Sophie and Jake were so excited for me, it was a little overwhelming. After the great meal Julie prepared and the cake and ice cream, the kids took their bath. So, I put on Copland's "Appalachian Spring" for the first time in, like, six years. The second those strings and clarinets began tears were forming. It was so beautiful.

And it's not the type of music that makes you think, "Oh I love this girl". It's the type of music that sends you on a journey reflecting on the good and bad fortunes in your life. 2 seconds, that's all it took to rush me into a vortex of love for my kids. Those beautiful, loving children of ours. So much heart. I am one of those fathers who wants to wrap my arms around them and protect them forever. I can't fathom how you can bring a child into this world and not feel anything but love.

Anyway, "Appalachian Spring" is more than that quiet moment. It is one of the most majestic works I have ever heard. Listening to it makes me want to be better. A better man. A better husband. A better father.

It was a good place to start mentally on my 37th birthday. This has been one of those years in which my birthday just kind of happened. I can't remember a time when I wasn't so unenthusiastic about my birthday. I LOVE birthdays. And yet, here I was, just kind of going through the motions. In years past, I've taken the time to reflect on my life in the past year. Where I've been. Where I want to go. Am I disappointed with my life? Professionally, I would say yes. I thought I would be writing full time by now. I wanted to be that big Hollywood screenwriter.

But life doesn't work that way, does it?

Nope. It doesn't.

It's been several hours since I began this entry and in that time, I've come to realize that all of this navel gazing is fine for your birthday, but it doesn't need to last a lifetime.

So let's get on with it Malchus. Get back to the damn blog. Get those feelings out there and maybe you won't feel so compressed all the time.

That's all for today.


Monday, August 21, 2006

The first week of school

It was Jacob's first week of school and, as usual, I have been suppressing my fears about him attending school. My stomach is in knots and I can't focus at work. I'm not sure when this transformation occurred in me in which I could no longer express my fears and I became more like my father. Is it some kind of genetic coding in the Malchus make up that at age 30 or so you begin to clam up?

There is already so much anxiety about leaving your kid at school to begin with that when you add in all of the CF issues, you're talking about some major shit to deal with. I went with him the first three days and it was pretty rough. He screamed, "Don't leave me!" as Julie and I left the building. Heartbreaking. I was fighting back tears the first day. I think it's been harder on Jules than me, though. Jacob has been home with here for almost four years straight. That's a big part of her day that will be missing. I know we're glad that he's growing up. But... it's kind of bittersweet to see him slowly not need us anymore.

Speaking of not needing us anymore. Man, you'd think Sophie was a tween already. Oh, it's not that she has an attitude or anything like that. But she has gained a lot of confidence going to school and that confidence builds her independence. Yet, she's still a little girl. She still likes to snuggle and is really affectionate. I'll tell you, one of the strange, but cool, parts of being a parent is watching these little humans evolve. To see them grow and mature and become PEOPLE is one of the greatest joys I have in life. I've been corresponding with an old friend who has a teenage daughter and I can't even imagine what that's going to be like. I know I've said I have memories of 1st Grade (2nd and 3rd, though...hmmmm, complete blank), but my high school years? I can't go a day without hearing some song on the radio that throws me back in time. 80's radio and classic rock are the rage. So practically every song on the box brings up some distant memory that feels so close that it could have happened yesterday.

It's not that I'm living in the past. I don't think I one of those guys we used to poke fun at back in college who longed for their glory days in high school and couldn't grasp the present. We all do our share of reminiscing. It's natural, especially when you have friends who are dying. On a bright note, I had a tinge of nostalgia for the mid 90's this week. I found an MP3 of a Pete Droge song I had loved when we first moved to California. Hearing that tune really conjured some good memories of living in the shitty Chandler apartment that would have been 200 degrees right about this time of year.

As I sit in our home, listening to the kids taking a bath in the next room, I feel like the 80's were a hundred years ago. The truth is, I can't live in the past even if I wanted to. Those kids depend on us being in the present. In the NOW, man! I'll take the difficult days of dropping off Jake and watching Sophie become a bright little girl over the awkward years of high school and college any day. Any day at all.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

I've been away most of the summer, I know. I guess I've been questioning the whole point of me keeping this blog. There are much better writers out there and I'm not sure who even keeps track of Thunderbolt. But a few weeks ago I was cleaning the garage and I found the only consistent journal I've ever kept. Back when Sophie was in the womb I wrote every day in two Mead, college rule composition books as a record of her first 9 months of existence. Man, it was pretty confessional. So confessional that I'm unsure I want her ever to read it. Anyway, I was proud that I'd disciplined myself to make an entry each night. I felt like a writer. Not that I haven't been writing the past three or four months when I was making sporadic entries to Thunderbolt. I think this year has been the year I've work hardest on my craft. So far it seems to be paying off.

Where am I going with all of this...? Oh yeah. I'm committing myself to this blog again. I have to. I need to clear my head and write down some of the shit that's wearing me out. This is the best option, right now. And putting myself out there? Hell, maybe someone will get something from it. Or maybe they'll disagree and begin a wonderful debate with me. Or, possibly, I'll run into some old friends on the cyber highway, like I did this week (shout out to Cindy Graf).

Maybe this all has to do with school beginning this week. More importantly, with Jake beginning pre-school on Monday. This is intense. I'm excited to see him grow up, but, yeah, I very sad about it, too. And, yes, I'm worried about his CF and whether he'll get sick. In the back of my mind, I think I'm most stressed about whether he'll make friends. I just want Jake to have a normal childhood. I don't want the disease to rule his life. Is that strange? Shouldn't I be MORE worried about his health? There aren’t any guidebooks to this one. Someone could make a fortune on "What to Expect When Your Child Goes to School And They Have CF".

As you can tell, I'm rusty. I haven't written on the blog in so long I can't keep a straight thought. I'll get better. I promise.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Damn! Dillon!

Believe it or not, I had every intention of writing a post on the artistry of Paul Giamati today, but then I got the news that an old friend had passed away and Paul got placed on the backburner. I bring up Giamati because friend, Jeff Dillon, was very much like the characters Giamati has become famous for playing. A little sad. Funny. Sometimes trying to hard. But generally a good egg to be around and someone who will be missed.

Jeff (or Dill as we called him) was a guy I met in Boy Scouts back when I was in 5th Grade. We got along fine back then, but it was in high school that we became friends. And then, after high school, while working on the NOHS summer paint crew, Jeff and I became compadres. The two of us could really get under the other's skin. Probably because we had similar sensibilities, but I remember many occasions when he or I would storm away from each other, ready to kill each other. It would only take 15-20 minutes before we realized how damn stupid we were being and plans for drinking that night were underway.

When Steve and I cemented our bond of brotherhood with a drunken stroll through the NO park during the 1985 Homecoming, Jeff was pretty much responsible for providing the alcohol that night. I recall some ridiculous drives through the valley with Jeff behind the wheel of his folks whale of a Suburban. He was on of the Painters three with Steve and me. And he was pretty damn funny during so many lunches and extended breaks during those long summer days.

I can't fully describe events in my life that Jeff was there for because not all of them were these HUGE momentous happenings. But during those three summers when I figured out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, Jeff was ever present and quick to offer support and guidance.

The last time I saw Dil was in Ohio during a Christmas visit. He had just been divorced and seemed to be reliving some of his bachelor days. I recall not being able to keep up with him as he pounded drinks and wanted to party harder into the night. Back then, I thought, "Man, he'll grow out of this, soon enough." Sadly, it was only a couple years later that I learned he was ill and fighting for his life. He lost that battle last week and I'm saddened by it.

When I told Steve of this news, he said he'd just been thinking of Dill because he was painting his house. Whenever I brink out a can of paint and a brush, I think of those summer days and those guys I spent so much time with, as well. The Painters three is now a duo. Sad.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Props to Jefito

Have to give a shout out to one of my favorite sites out there, Jefitoblog, a phenomenal music website that provides some excellent selections of music for readers. I was first introduced to the site some time last year when EW online mentioned Jeff’s “Idiot’s Guide to Hall and Oates”. I thought it was a joke at first. I mean, who would devote more than a couple of sentences to Daryl and John? As I read his breakdown of each of their albums, I realized that Jeff wasn’t making fun of Philly’s sons, but offering a real criticism of their catalog. This is something that would never happen at Rolling Stone or any of the other BIG music sources. As I came back to the site every day, I discovered that here was a guy who loves music. He GETS music. And that’s what he’s writing about. It’s not about who is the most appreciated and deserves the accolades. Sure, he covers Springsteen and the like, but it’s also about the gut and the heart. That’s why groups like Styx, Toto. Bruce Hornsby and Robert Palmer get equal time.

But don’t check out his sit just on Tuesdays when he’s offering up the Idiot’s guide. Check in on Wednesdays when he actually reviews new music. Or Thursdays with the brilliant “Cutouts Gone Wild”. And every Friday Jeff offers up some outstanding bootlegs for people to listen to.

This is a great site, and I’m not just saying that because he let me write a Journey Guide. It’s great because Jeff writes for the fans and appreciates the people that support him.

Okay, enough of my yappin. Go there now.


Scott Malchus? That dude owes me money!

And so I return.

Another great weekend. The pool has turned out to be a fantastic idea. Did I tell you we got a pool? I was so resistant to the idea. I love that lawn. But the joy that water brings to our kids is better than any patch of grass in the world.

Seann came for dinner tonight. It was good to see him again. The kids will likely not see him for a month or so. I had Sophie pretty much guilt him into driving up for some hamburgers. God bless him, he’s a good uncle and can’t say “no” to his niece and nephew.

Speaking of Jake, man, I felt like the lowest of low yesterday. While Sophie and Jules were at a party, I took Jake to see the new “Garfield” movie. We get about 500 yards from the theater (and 15 minutes from start time) and I realized I didn’t have the damn enzymes. We had to drive all the way home and back again. Wouldn’t you know it, the line to buy tickets was ridiculously long (it WAS 100 degrees… so everyone was at the movies) and we missed the first 10 minutes of the movie. Jake didn’t seem to mind. He still laughed at the movie. But me? I still feel like crying.

I should have a handle on these things by now. Why am I constantly forgetting things like his enzymes? I should be better at this. God bless Jake. As I sped back home, he was still funny. “Whoops! Oh well. We forgot the enzymes.” And as I sped back, cursing myself once again, he was supportive. “You’re not a bad daddy, Daddy.”

How did I become so blessed? Two wonderful children with hearts of gold. Sometimes I feel like some an ass for forgetting things or not paying enough attention. Sophie’s taken to calling me two or three times if my eyes drift. “Dad. Look. Dad. DAD, look.” Who AM I? I’m not some important person who has an agenda? I’m not trying to save lives like a doctor. I’m not trying to run a country or put out fires. I’m just a writer.

I should be a father first.

I am a father first. Just have to work on that.

That’s all for now. The “Garfield” movie wasn’t so horrible. Tim Curry was funny, as usual. The Indians suck and I think I’m becoming a Dodgers fan after 12 years. Imagine that.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fare the Well, my friends

I've been gone a month and this is the best I could come up with? Actaully, the man has been working on a scrennplay. I finished it last week and when all is said and done, the tone of the script owes a lot to my (now cancelled) favorite drama, "Everwood"

Television still seems to get a bad rap among people I know. Probably because so much of it is disposable and forgotten soon after the set is switched off. But the emergence of “The Sopranos” as one of the most significant works of art in the last 10 years has really made a lot of folks reconsider the craftsmanship that goes into television. I’m a TV junkie. I grew up on it, rarely going to the movies. That I chose to become a screenwriter had more to do with watching movies on a VCR than actually getting into the theater. I would love to someday have my own series, primarily because I enjoy GOOD television. And since we started subscribing to TiVo, well, I ONLY watch good television.

This past week "Everwood" was unceremoniously cancelled by its network. It was a victim of the merger between the WB and UPN networks. Unlike many shows that struggle to gain an audience, this one had a strong audience (for a WB program). I loved “Arrested Development” on FOX and think it was the best sitcom in 10 years, since the heyday of “Seinfeld” and “The Larry Sanders Show”. But, despite FOX sticking with it for three years, it never caught on. Oh, you can go and blame the network for shifting the show around (which didn’t help), but when it did promote the show (which it did, regularly), no one watched. When the WB moved “Everwood” from its original slot on Mondays to Thursdays (against “CSI” and “The OC”, two shows with much larger audiences) “Everwood”s fans followed it. The audience was there. Unlike many so many long running shows that have run their course, should have been cancelled years earlier, and get year long send offs by their network (we heard that it was the last year of “Will & Grace” for eight months, and “The West Wing” made it clear from the get go that this would also be its last season), “Everwood got the shaft. It was placed on hiatus in January to make room for a reality show, then, long after its hiatus sho7uld have ended, it finally returned sometime in March back in its old timeslot. Then the merger was announced and no show was safe. Still, the WB promoted the series finale of its flagship series, “7th Heaven” for two months and it appeared as if “Everwood” would still be back next season. When “7th Heaven” had huge ratings for its series finale, the new network (the CW) decided to renew 7th and can “Everwood.”

Come on! I mean, even I turned in to see how they would end “7th Heaven”, and I thought the show was horrid. And when it’s your longest running show, of course anyone who ever watched an episode wanted to see if a fireball from hell would finally bring an end to their heaven. Luckily, the producers of “Everwood” were wise enough to shoot two endings to their last episode, one which would create a cliffhanger, and the other to tie up enough loosed ends to create the kind of happy ending the fans all wished for. Personally, I believe that the producers were sure they weren’t coming back much earlier than they let on. The creators of the show signed a new deal with a different company in March, and several key storylines, including the death of one of the main characters (a character who was the original narrator of the series) died in the penultimate episode.

I think it hurts for a lot of people to see a show like this end so abruptly because it was real. It was beautifully written and shot; the actors were marvelous, in particular Treat Williams, Gregory Smith, Emily Van Camp, Scott Wolf (the great, great Scott Wolf) and Chris Pratt and the music was warm and fuzzy. Still, it was that these people could have been any one of us. They weren’t saving the world in one day, eating bugs for survival, running the free world, or trying to impose values on people. There were hard questions asked by all of the characters and over the four years, each character grew and changed. I’ve always been drawn to shows like this one. “My So Called Life”, “Party of Five” and “Once and Again” are three of my favorites. And even though I love “Homicide” and “St. Elsewhere” and “MASH” and even “Starsky and Hutch”, those were all fantasy characters to me. I didn’t KNOW people like the one’s in those series. In “Everwood”, I could point out a character and say, “Yeah, I know a guy like that”.

Most importantly, though, was that this show had heart, and it offered hope. That's right, hope. In the age of irony and cynicism, it was refreshing to watch something that was gooey and left a bad taste in your mouth, but still made you feel good about life. That is someting I'll always try to instill in my own writing, at least the things I really care about.

I’ve been to couple of the "Everwood" fansites and I don’t want to come off as some heartbroken teenager. I’m not going to send a pinecone to the Network exec that cancelled the show. I signed an online petition. That was enough. But there will definitely be emptiness to my Monday’s come this fall.

Good thing I ordered “Everwood” on DVD.

I believe that with so many series getting DVD releases these days, people are finally appreciating all of the hard work that goes into making a TV show. Someday, maybe, people will rediscover this show, like they open old classic books or pop in forgotten about movies, and they will find a wonderful world in which people were just people.

Aloha and RIP “Everwood”

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

This is the way...

My heart is breaking right now. I can't help thinking about Matt's final day and his struggle with his bulemia and whatever other disorders he was suffering from. After my converation with Elliott last night, it feels like he wanted it to end. I'll never know for certain, but Elliott mentioned this. And if he was in pain, so much pain, from starving, from depression, from his body breaking down, from needles, it is likely that he may have given in. And this is the saddest fact that I am having to accept. That a man who was so full of life had become complacent and ready to give up.

But I will never know. I said once that I thought he was slowly discommunicating himself with all of the people he loved. but Elliott insists that he still talked about our friendship. Maybe it's guilt I'm feeling. The grayness the skies this morning and the dim lighting in the office have put me in a mood. And I've begun haning posters for the CF walk, seeking donations.

I feel like time is slamming past me right now. I feel like there are so many damn things to deal with. Life is not simple. And I keep thinking of Matt, alone, dying. I keep hearing TS Eliot in my ears, his craggy voice reading "The Hollow Men".

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

At one time, he was a meteor of energy and fire. In the ne dhe was just human,

There has to be something to learn from this. I'm just trying to figue it out.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Good God! Where Have You Been?!

I logged on tonight thinking I would just give a brief update of where the hell I've been all month. My three or four readers have been desperate to know my whereabouts (thanking you for writing Ken in Witchita). Before I could get online, though, I spoke with Matt's brother, Elliott (who will no longer be identified as Matt's brother and will simply be known as Elliott). Whenever Elliott calls, I know it's going to be emotional. That's fine with me, because Elliott slowly reveals more about my deceased friend that I didn't know, nor would I have ever known if Elliott didn't want to include me in his life. It started as a fun call, bullshitting about the Twilight Zone (still one of the most influential shows in my life) and evolved into an intense discussion about our relationships with Matt.

Then Elliott did something truly heart warming and unexpected. He changed the course and asked me about Jacob and what he has to go through. He wanted to know about the struggles that I (and we) have. And I thought this was so remarkable considering the wedged that kind of got pushed between Matt and me was about CF. As I heard myself describing Jacob's daily routine, it didn't feel real to me. I felt like I was just reiterating some facts to someone. I hate when that happens. I want people to understand the first time. I don't want people to think we have a handle on it. I want them to feel the pain.

That's where I've been. I've been dealing with stress from the upcoming Great Strides. Each year as it approaches, I bury the stress and pain of gathering with other CF families. It brings me to tears. I sometimes hate it. CF has been on my mind in my writing too. I have been completing a new script that has a character who has CF.

I'm not trying to get on my soapbox with the script. It isn't a message film. But an opportunity was presented to me in which I would be allowed to write about the disease that effects my family... to try and put it in a realistic and positive light. Can I pass up an opportunity like that? What if that opportunity never comes again? Isn't it my responsibility to use whatever skills I have to raise awareness and help find a cure? That's the way I am looking at it.

I didn't start this blog for it to become a daily diatribe about Matt's death or cystic fibrosis. But those seem to be the only topics I'm not hesitant to open up about. Well, not anymore. What have I to lose if I don't criticize the bad films I've seen or give reviews of the great music or websites I've discovered.

Today is technically May 2, but I'm making this entry for May 1. A new month. A time to refresh myself and look inward.


Friday, April 07, 2006

You are a good looking guy.

I hereby nominate "The Sure Thing" as one of the best movies of the 80's and one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. I am one of the few who actually saw it in the theater (with my church group, no less) and I've loved it ever since. When I worked at American Video my last year of high school, I some how came to purchase the store's copy. We must have watched that movie a hundred times during the paint crew summers. Steve and I had so many lines memorized. Besides Boon and Otter from "Animal House," we wanted to be John Cusack's Walter "Gib" Gibson. While those "Animal house" guys were someone we aspired to be, but would never be cool enough to be, Gib was like us. He was one of us. He was a failure in love, but an optimist.

And then my copy got lost.

I believe it was Dillon, a guy we worked with, who borrowed it after one of the Malchus parties (one of the bigger one's). Though he claims to have never had it, for some reason I think he harbors that old VHS copy f "The Sure Ting" and pulls it out every so often. Just kidding Jeff.

Last Christmas I was given an Amazon gift certificate and I decided, what the hell, I'll buy "The Sure Thing". I was always reluctant top buy it because so many of the movies (and albums and books) that I treasured in college really don't hold up. Still, I was feeling nostalgic...

Last night I popped it in for some inspiration. I'm working on a script that will involve some acerbic banter between the male and female characters and I knew that Cusack and co-star Daphne Zuniga really had a spark. My intention of watching a few minutes turned into the first 20 and I was quickly reminded why I loved this movie. It's not because of the humor or the accurate college feel that Rob Reiner brought to the movie. And it's not for the cool music or even the great performance of Cusack (in one of his first starring roles... and best starring roles... and age appropriate starring roles). It's the heart, baby. This film has more heart than most of the romantic comedy feel good mushy love story lift yourself up by the boots underdog stories that come out every year. It rules!

So, if you have some down time, and want to check out some future stars of their generation (Anthony Edwards is hilarious, and keep a watch out for Tim Robbins), you MUST MUST MUST rent "The Sure Thing."

WHMP 4-7-06

Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2006
To: Steve
Subject: WHMP 4-7-06

Got your message this week. Sorry I missed you. Your call actually lifted my spirits a lot that day. It's been a topsy turvey week emotionally, mostly work related and, of course, money stress. Everything seems cool now, though. Did I tell you I'm getting to write a second episode for the series I'm working on? I'm stoked. And a little nervous. They want it a lot sooner (and quicker) than the first one. But, what's that quote I keep repeating from the Springsteen boot in Cleveland?

"Have faith in your abilities."

That's what I'm trying to do.

You'll be happy to know that I'm working on an new feature script as well. It has nothing to do with the horror genre. In fact, it's an attempt at a high school romantic comedy. Someone actually asked me to write this one, so I'm not flying solo.

I didn't think of it until this morning, but I'm really enjoying the whole process of writing this script. I'm actually being given the opportunity to a) write a story I've wanted to tell for years b) incorororate awareness of CF [but not making this a "message" film] and c) write on my own without anyone giving me criteria to write. It's pretty sweet.

I'm sure the revision process will be full of surprises, but for now, I'm having fun.

Here's a little something' to commemorate Opening Day at Jacob's Field. Loser that I am, I don't have "Centerfield" on hand, but then I remembered I had this little gem by Miss Jett. What's better than a Springsteen song recorded by Joan Jett for a movie shot in, yes, Cleveland, Ohio.

After a miserable week, I can see the light, bro. It's just around the corner.

SScott (CNS)"
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2006 09:53:56 -0700
To: Steve
Conversation: WHMP 4-7-06
Subject: WHMP 4-7-06

Got your message this week. Sorry I missed you. Your call actually lifted my spirits a lot that day. It's been a topsy turvey week emotionally, mostly work related and, of course, money stress. Everything seems cool now, though. Did I tell you I'm getting to write a second episode for the series I'm working on? I'm stoked. And a little nervous. They want it a lot sooner (and quicker) than the first one. But, what's that quote I keep repeating from the Springsteen boot in Cleveland?

"Have faith in your abilities."

That's what I'm trying to do.

You'll be happy to know that I'm working on an new feature script as well. It has nothing to do with the horror genre. In fact, it's an attempt at a high school romantic comedy. Someone actually asked me to write this one, so I'm not flying solo.

I didn't think of it until this morning, but I'm really enjoying the whole process of writing this script. I'm actually being given the opportunity to a) write a story I've wanted to tell for years b) incorororate awareness of CF [but not making this a "message" film] and c) write on my own without anyone giving me criteria to write. It's pretty sweet.

I'm sure the revision process will be full of surprises, but for now, I'm having fun.

Here's a little something' to commemorate Opening Day at Jacob's Field. Loser that I am, I don't have "Centerfield" on hand, but then I remembered I had this little gem by Miss Jett. What's better than a Springsteen song recorded by Joan Jett for a movie shot in, yes, Cleveland, Ohio.

After a miserable week, I can see the light, bro. It's just around the corner.


From: Steve
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006
Subject: RE: WHMP 4-7-06

Thanks -- as always -- for the music. Unfortunately -- as always -- I'm
buried at the moment and so unable to respond appropriately.

I can't help but observe, though, that to an uninformed, non-industry
guy, it sure seems like your writing career has moved from crawling to
cruising to, toddling to, now, walking confidently and starting to run.
It's good to see you on your feet again.

I will try to call you this weekend. Marianne's grandmother took a bad
health turn this week, and there's a chance we will spend our time in
and out of a Richmond hospital. If that doesn't happen, I hope we can

Please give my best to your family.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Blue Sky Mining musings

Can a hard rocking protest song make you cry? It can if it's done by Midnight Oil. Driving in through a pouring rain this morning, I dug out my old copy of "Blue Sky Mining" to give it a listen and possibly put some tracks on my MP3 player. I have always loved the title track, but today was the first time I seemed to listened to how well crafted the song is constructed. It opens with just a guitar and gradually builds as each band member joins along. Then, it erupts with so much passion and anger, I was close to tears. It's not just the relevant lyrics (written back in 1990), but the beautiful harmonies, and the fact that each instrument plays a different role in the song. Both guitars are playing variations on lead guitar which reminds me of the kind song structure Pearl Jam often uses. In fact, the song "Forgotten Years" off the same Midnight Oil album would be a great song for P Jam to cover. And Peter Garrett performs with such conviction that anything he sings couldn't ring as false. This is one of the overlooked gems of the early alternative rock era. For some reason, the band fell through the cracks when the big MOVEMENT came to be. That's too bad, because we could use more bands like them today. With all of the crap going on in the world, we need more popular artists to speak up and rally the youth (and youthful) of the world.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

The old ballgame is Back!

It's that time of the year again. The sun is shining. The sweet smell of freshly cut grass. Birds chirp in the background. The crack of a bat and the "thunk" of a ball smacking the leather of a mitt.

It's baseball season, my friends. I don't realize how much I miss the day to day activities of this sport until mid November, when the chill of winter settles in and my bones begin to ache. There is something about this game that fills me with excitement and joy. Despite the public problems the game is having at the moment with the whole steroid debate, I still feel this is the best family sporting event there is. I can't wait to take the kids to a Dodgers game this year. Or even a Jayhawks game out in Lancaster. And you can bet that when we visit Ohio sometime this summer, we'll be at Jacobs Field at least once.

Let the game begin. Go Indians.


Friday, March 31, 2006

Two commentaries...

The following two commentaries ran in last Sunday's LA Times. They hit so close to home that I wanted to share them.

By Lynell George
Lynell George is a senior writer at The Times' West magazine.

March 26, 2006

LONG BEFORE AMOEBA MUSIC opened its landscape-altering Hollywood flagship, and nearly a decade before "High Fidelity" immortalized that singular breed of retail animal — the completist record store clerk — there was a holy strip of scuffed-up, indie new-and-used record shops lining Melrose Avenue. Vinyl Fetish, Bleeker Bob's, 2nd Time Around and my two favorites: Rene's All Ears and Aron's Records.

When vinyl still reigned (in various versions — 78, 45 and 33 1/3 ; import or domestic; picture discs and colored vinyl; sexy little EPs), these shops and a few others scattered across Los Angeles played host to all manner of yearnings, discovery and invention in my life. They felt as essential as the ampersand in R&B.

On any given weekend a couple of decades ago, I could be found lurking among the bins in my painter's overalls and my once-white, low-top Jack Purcell's, flipping one-handed through "Jazz," bending over this or that artist until my neck went numb, carrying a hefty stack of LPs, a load heavy enough to leave red creases on my arm. I wouldn't set them down for fear that someone would swipe that long-out-of-print Cannonball Adderley LP that I'd spent not hours but years hunting for. I couldn't take that risk.

I invested in these places — not just money, but time. And then, like the changer arm lifting and the stereo switching off, my habits changed. I somehow slipped out of my routine. I eased up on my record store fetish; I invested elsewhere.

And maybe that's why I didn't shed a tear or show up to mourn when Rhino Records and now Aron's (both long relocated from former addresses) began shutting their doors for good in the last few months. I'd already said my goodbyes — to old locations, to overpowering memories, to bins that had long since been picked over. I'd seen the shift coming, the back-stock thinning, all manner of new media — DVDs and DATs — taking up shelf space. I couldn't stomach the emptying bins, the death of an era.

It wasn't me that changed, it was the business model: a general slump in record sales (down 7% last year, according to SoundScan), a great big uptick in digital downloading, a rush to shop online. Statistics underscore what our eyes already tell us: The Amoebas stay in business, but there are only about half as many independent record stores as there were 10 years ago countrywide.

Last year, downloaded tracks from online retailers soared to 332.7 million, compared with 134.2 million in 2004 — an increase of 148%. And when former customers weren't downloading music, they were burning friends' CDs. The landscape for bricks-and-mortar storeowners has been nothing less than a disaster zone.

Yet I can't imagine what my life, my worldview, would have been like without record stores — particularly the independents with their idiosyncratic rooms plastered with posters, speakers booming, smelling alternately of patchouli or herb and always crammed with persnickety customers arguing with even more persnickety clerks.

Through junior high school and high school, I saved my lunch money and once a week made my way to the various neighborhood record stores not only to update my collection but to augment my sense of the world — its tongues, its rhythms, its stories, its very vastness. Not to sound too much like some old-school crank, but I can't imagine that watching a bar load on-screen equals the awe of opening a double-album set with both your hands.

When I first learned to drive, getting up the hill without rolling backward on La Cienega, just so I could get to Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, became an important rite of passage. The clerks there steered me toward the essential Sonny Rollins; the "forget about all others, this is the best" Bill Evans. But I soon discovered that Rene's and Aron's were where the most unique treasures could be found.

Emblazoned with the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, Rene's All Ears stood at the corner of Melrose and Spaulding, near what I was told was Rene's other passion: an auto/motorcycle repair shop. It was smallish, but size, I learned quickly, didn't matter.

I bought a lot of imports there — blues and early roots music, R&B, regional voices — the Honey Drippers and blues shouters Chicago Carl Davis and Big Joe Turner. But it was also where I dipped into the Washington go-go scene (Chuck Brown and EU) and wandered into my first King Crimson, New Orleans guitarist Danny Barker and Automatic Man's elastic blend of space rock and funk. For a buck a disc you could take a chance on anything. I bought my first Rahsaan Roland Kirk at Rene's, from a man with a huge smile and a mohawk the color of cotton candy.

Aron's, back then, carried me through eras and genres and styles — Brazilian samba and Cuban son and Portuguese fado. Before artists' out-of-print catalogs were mercifully reissued on CD, Aron's provided a way to fill in so many holes — used but pristine copies of Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners," Stan Getz's "Didn't We," Charles Mingus' "Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife." And for less than 10 bucks, I got my hands on a collector's pressing of Billie Holiday's "I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone," recorded at the old Fox Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles one June evening in 1949.

I shopped among the safety-pin-pierced, the men in fishnets, eccentrics in bathrobes and Buddy Holly glasses. That's what I liked most about the indies, particularly the tight spaces at Rene's. You were thrown together with people you might never have been shoulder-to-shoulder with in your other life. Motörhead fans up next to B-Boys, punkers in their oxblood Doc Martens, neo-mods in parkas all listening to a wash of ear-pricking sounds — Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Frank Zappa, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Big Daddy Kane, Nina Hagen, Charlie Christian, Machito — the hither-and-yon soundtrack dreamed up by whoever was on shift at the moment. It was like a dorm at a particularly tolerant college. But with a better stereo. And because of it, I took home things that would have never otherwise fallen into my hands.

I don't have an iPod, though many have tried to nudge me in that direction. "It's time," they say. They talk up the ease of downloading. Of acquiring songs just when you think about it, in the middle of the night. Of the portability; the idea that your collection is both "virtual" and "infinite." Most of all, they tell me, I'll never look back.

But I do. And always hope to. My record collection is a life mosaic so vivid, so touching, I can't chuck any of it — can't even thin it out. I remember the clerks — imperious or exultant — who passed the sleeves across the counter to me. I remember the time and the place. An iPod, yes, would be convenient, but the decades spent exploring music in real stores with real people are my bricks and mortar. These records built me. They are me.

By Peter Bogdanovich

Peter Bogdanovich directed "The Last Picture Show," "Paper Moon," and "Mask," among other movies. His most recent book, "Who the Hell's in It," is just out in paperback.

March 26, 2006

GOING TO THE MOVIES with my parents is one of the great memories of my childhood. I remember getting strong anticipatory butterflies in my stomach long before we'd even leave the apartment. In the late 1940s, early '50s, we lived on Manhattan's West 67th Street, three blocks from two huge "neighborhood" picture palaces: the RKO Colonial and the Loew's Lincoln. Both were spacious, elaborately decorated, very comfortable stand-alone theaters with huge screens and giant, red velvet curtains that parted before the show. Each seated more than 1,000 (with smoking in the balcony).

A typical evening or afternoon at the "nabes" meant a double feature — two recent films, usually an A-budget movie paired with a B-picture. We never checked for starting times (no one did); we went when we could or when we felt like it.

Normally, therefore, we would enter in the middle of one of the two features. Part of the fun was trying to figure out what was going on. After it ended, there would be a newsreel, a travelogue, a live-action comedy short, a cartoon and coming attractions. Then the next feature, followed by the first half of the other film until that once-proverbial moment: "This is where we came in." (All this, by the way, for 25 or 50 cents a head, often less for kids.) On Saturdays, there was the children's matinee, complete with a white-uniformed matron who chaperoned us and made sure kids didn't put their feet on the seats in front of them.

Both of my old neighborhood theaters have long since been demolished. But recently I've been thinking about them again as I've read about the decline in theater attendance — down from 90 million tickets sold per week in the late 1940s to about a quarter of that number today — as people rent movies and watch them at home on increasingly elaborate home entertainment systems. Now, some of the big studios are talking about closing the months-long window that has traditionally separated a movie's theatrical debut from its availability on video or DVD — a change that some say could lead to the end of the movie-theater experience altogether.

When I was a growing up, there were no ratings — all pictures being suitable for the whole family. Parents could, if they chose, take the family to serious films such as "How Green Was My Valley," "Citizen Kane" or "From Here to Eternity" without worrying that it might not be "appropriate" for the children. If a couple on screen were going to bed together, vintage movie shorthand took over and the camera panned to the fireplace or to the waterfall, or, during a passionate kiss, there'd be a discreet fade to black. I would turn to my mother and ask what was happening, and she'd say something ambiguous, such as "they like each other" or "they're talking now," which completely satisfied my curiosity.

Movies, when you used to see them on the big screen, had a mystery that they no longer have. For one thing, they were irretrievable: Once the first and second runs were past, most films were not easy to see again. They were much, much larger than life and therefore instantly mythic (screens and theaters were a lot bigger before the multiplex arrived). And they were inexorable; once a film had started, there was no pausing it or in any way stopping its relentless forward motion.

Also, the communal experience of seeing a picture with a large crowd of strangers was a great and irreplaceable happening — all of us, young or old (if the picture worked) palpably sharing the same emotions of sorrow or happiness. The bigger the crowd around us, the greater the impact.

On special occasions, my parents took me to the greatest movie theater in the country, Radio City Music Hall, which, for $2, would show a first-rate new film exclusively (such as "An American in Paris" or "North by Northwest") plus a live, 40-minute stage show featuring the Rockettes. That's why it meant so much to me in 1972 when my first comedy, "What's Up, Doc?" was booked to open in New York at the Music Hall.

I was so excited I called to tell Cary Grant (a friend of 10 years). "That's nice," he said casually. "I've had 28 pictures play the Hall.

"I tell you what you must do," he went on. "When it's playing, you go down there and stand in the back — and you listen and you watch while 6,500 people laugh at something you did. It will do your heart good!"

I went, of course, and it remains the single most memorable showing of any of my pictures: The sheer size of the reaction in that enormous theater was like a mainliner of joy. The fact is, it takes at least 100 people to get a decent laugh in a movie — smaller audiences are just not given to letting go.

On the other hand, a Michigan university student told me recently that one of the few classic Hollywood movies he'd seen was John Ford's version of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath." He said he'd been looking at a "video of it" and couldn't get his "eyelids to stop drooping."

Well, of course. Not only was he alone in his living room, but he was seeing on a small screen a work that had not been created ever to be reduced so radically in size. The especially dark photography (by the legendary Gregg Toland, who the following year shot Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane") needs the large screen to convey its effect, not to mention that darkness and TV have never produced easy-to-watch results.

What's more, Ford was very much the master of the long shot. Twenty years before that famous fly-speck-on-the-desert entrance in "Lawrence of Arabia," Ford had introduced Henry Fonda in "Grapes" as a tiny figure on the horizon coming toward us. But tiny on a giant screen is not the same as tiny on a TV set. The first makes a poetic impression, the second leaves you wondering what you're looking at and causes yet more eye strain. No wonder the student's eyelids drooped.

One of my favorite movies is Howard Hawks' "Bringing Up Baby" with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn — probably the fastest and at the same time most darkly photographed comedy of all time. When I watch it on TV, I find myself getting tired and running out of steam before the film ends.

Most young people have never even seen older films (before 1962, let's say — the end of the movies' golden age, when the original studio system finally collapsed) on the large screen for which they were solely created. So it's easy to understand why they're not interested in them. That they don't know what they're missing is a sad fact, increasingly more common, therefore sadder.

What is there to say about seeing movies of quality on an iPod? Chilling.

I was first taken at age 5 or 6 by my father to see silent movies on the big screen at the Museum of Modern Art, and it inculcated in me a lifelong interest and reverence for older films. Starting my daughters at a young age looking at classics from the '20s, '30s and '40s did the same thing for them. Wouldn't it be a great thing if all the studios pooled their resources and opened large-scale revival theaters in every major city as a way of promoting DVDs of older films, which remain difficult to move in the kind of bulk everyone would like?

It's hard for me to imagine that the movie-theater experience will ever completely disappear, no matter how reduced it may become. After all, the legitimate theater still exists in the age of TV and film, though of course there is nowhere near as much of it as there was even as late as the 1950s. (Remember summer stock?) In some places you can even still see opera, a very popular medium a couple of hundred years ago.

But Larry McMurtry's novel, "The Last Picture Show," and the movie version of it which I directed were both at least partly about the loss to a small Texas town of its single movie theater, a great diminishment in community and sharing. We all now live in a more insular, distanced society. And though our communication capability has never been faster or more inclusive, it does not have the ability to let us experience the silent interrelating that happens in a live theater, at church or at a movie house.

Over the years I've noticed that audiences, just before the show starts, radiate a kind of innocence. Considered person by person, that may not be the case, but as a group they share the ability to be taken wherever the film chooses to take them, either to the stars or the gutter, and their communal experience will alter them for better or worse. Let's not let all that possibility fade away further than it already has.

Better movies would help.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fighting a cold and demons

It's been tiring, fighting this cold I've had for almost a week. There have been a couple of times I wanted to get on here.

First of all, "In Her Shoes" is a wonderful movie. Better than "Crash", "Brokeback" and "Capote", in my book. I thought it was going to be a chick flick and had my reservations, despite the marketing attempts to sell it as a universal themed picture. For once, the marketing people were right , though, they still did a shitty job of getting people to notice this film. Every single actor in this movie was stellar. In a year when critics were lamenting the lack of outstanding performances by actresses, there were three (Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz and Shirley Maclaine) that were all worthy of awards and were all better than Reese Witherspoon. That none of them received any attention during award seasons was a shortcoming on the critics, the industry, and the studio for not promoting the movie properly. And it was so superbly cast. There were characters actors I had never seen before who were so top notch.... Man, Curtis Hanson is at the top of his game. He is one of the best directors working right now.

This week, the script for my episode of "Squirrel boy" is going to be submitted. "Squirrel Boy", for you newcomers, is the animated series I am working on right now. I wrote my first draft and submitted it to the story editor. He said he really liked it. I am so relieved. For sure I thought I had done a shitty job and the whole thing would have to be rewritten. But after I read his polish this evening, I was pleasantly surprised. He added some material, but didn't really cut anything I'd written. I am very excited to hear what the network has to say.

Elliott called tonight and we spoke for about an hour. Toward the end, I feel like I rushed him off. Shitty of me. I was getting anxious about working on a new script. I hope to send him a copy of King's Highway this weekend.

That's all for now.


Friday, March 24, 2006

It's been a long week. Trying to find time to write on the blog is something I'm going to have to schedule and not try to do when I feel "inspired". There are three writing projects I'm involved with right now. Just saying that tightens my chest a little. People are actually coming to me to write with me. What if I let them down? Just have to keep reminding myself of that Springsteen concert. Did I talk about this already?

Springsteen told a tale about visiting the great Roy Orbison before he died. Roy was working on a song about a wind surfer girl. Bruce smiled and said "Cool." but in his head he was thinking, "Wind surfing? I don't think so." Well, the song came out posthumously on Roy's "Mystery Girl" album and it's a really great song. And Bruce admitted that he was wrong. Then he said, "Just goes to show you that you have to have faith in your abilities."

Amen, brother.

I have to keep reminding myself that I know what I'm doing. It's easy to forget. You work so long at something and seem to fail at it (i.e. getting people to take you seriously) that when you finally achieve your goal, you have to fight through those feelings of self doubt and loathing. Plus, getting through the first draft is brutal. You don't want to judge yourself, but you can't help but think that with every words you write, you're a hack and it's all crap that you're putting down on paper. At least, that's the kind of shit I have to work through.

Oh, we found out that our good friends the Cruz' and Julie's sister, Sue< are having their third children. It's been weird digesting this news. I now that Jules has struggled with it a little, maybe more than she'll admit to me. The fact that we're not going to have a nother baby is sad. We decided that we didn't want to risk having another child with CF. Maybe for me, it's a little easier because I'll never know the awesome feeling of having another life grow inside of me. But for Jules... she loved being pregnant.

Anyway, I'm rambling. It's getting a little late and I need to get back to work. I hope anyone who reads this finds a little peace tonight.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

WHMP 3-16-06

From: Scott
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2006
To: Steve

Yes, I know I didn't complete my Rock Hall edition, but I just couldn't bring myself to pick a Skynyrd song. I mean, Skynyrd? Come on! They're right up there with Bob Seger and ZZ Top as far as I'm concerned. So, I skipped it. That's right, I just bypassed over old "Free Bird", hoping you wouldn't notice. And look, you didn't!

This week we return to the 90's. That decade from so long ago. I can't believe that this song and it's awesome video are 10 years old. More than that. 12 freakin' years my friend!

I've been married that long. 12 YEARS!

My parents are in town again and I look at them and a) marvel at the longevity of their relationship b) hope that I am as good as a parent as they were and c) hope I don't turn out anything like them when I'm their age.

We've been over this before. I love my folks. But what is it about our elders driving us crazy? And the guilt in feeling that, huh? I mean, just writing what I just did has my stomach tightening up. How did they get such a grip on our lives. And am I doing that to my own kids? Sometimes I catch myself doing it.

Shame on you, Malchus!

Anyway, somehow this song ties in with my parents... Oh, right. Buddy Holly was popular in their day and that's the title of today's great song by Weezer.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Since my last post, I have had the chance to see both CRASH and CAPOTE, and having seen that first hour of GOOD NIGHT, GOOD LUCK, I feel I can offer my honest opinion that CRASH was not the best picture of the four I have seen (I have yet to see anything of MUNICH). There are some wonderful, dramatic moments in CRASH. The scene in which Matt Dillon's character must rescue Thadie Newton's character (after having previously sexually violated her earlier in the movie) was intense. Perhaps the most moving moment in the film comes when Michael Pena's character finds his daughter under her bed, afraid to sleep in the bed because a stray bullet had flown through the house one time. He has this very tender scene in which he convinces her that a fairy came into his room one night when he was five and the fairy gave him an invisible cloak that would protect him. The father then proceeds to remove this invisible cloak and place it around his daughter. That scene had more power than anything else in the movie and I feel that Pena's performance outshined the heavy handedness of almost every other actor on screen. That he was not nominated and Dillon was is a shame. My biggest problem with the movie is that there was so much emphasis on racism. EVERY character was a racists in one way or another. There was no escaping it. And it was so black and white. There were no gray areas in the movie. Besides that, there were two major plot holes that took me so far out of the moment that I was angry. I wanted to like this movie more than I did.

CAPOTE, on the other hand, was so well done. Besides Phillip Seymor Hoffman's stellar performance, you had a tight script and a beautifully shot movie that really did deal with the gray areas in life. Capote's actions to get his story was questionable. But what he did really made me look further into myself than CRASH did. What are we capable of to get what we want? In Capote's case, he lied to a man on death row to get the story that would change his life. But by lying to this murderer, a man he had come to care about, he dooms his own conscience and he would never recover. I don't know why, but the message of CAPOTE resonated more with me than CRASH. And the acting was just SO much better. Not just Hoffman, but everyone.

I also saw THE PINK PANTHER this weekend. The remake, not the classic Blake Edwards film. I did not laugh once. I was just so disappointed with this movie. The kids say they liked it, but I know they nearly fell asleep once or twice. And I am a sucker for family films and for Steve Martin and Kevin Kline. I just... it was just so awful.

Right now I am getting ready to begin a new script. The hardest part is writing those first few pages that may not even end up in the final script. But it's just the first draft, right?

Mom and Dad are in town this week. It is nice to have them here. Dad has lost a considerable amount of weight since he was diagnosed with diabetes. This new diet is making him thin.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Academy Awards 2006

Growing up, these awards meant so much to me, especially in college. Winning one of those things is what I aspired to do. I believe most kids growing up in Ohio who wanted to become filmmakers dreamed of the same thing. Now, I'd be happy just to sell another script and to get the opportunity to direct again. Don't get me wrong, the accolades would be great. But I have been through the ringer with "King's Highway" and I understand the BUSINESS aspect a little better than when I was a kid.

As for this year's winners, I couldn't tell you whether they were deserving or not. I loved "Brokeback Mountain" and was able to see the first hour of "Good Night, Good Luck" (which I liked even more). I was happy for George Clooney. He seems like a good guy and everyone knows about the dues he's paid. Same goes for Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I didn't see "
Capote", but I've loved Hoffman ever since he played a slimeball in "Scent of a Woman". And his portrayal of Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous": is one of my favorite performances of the last ten years.

I guess I should take the time to actually see the movies next year. Then again, I still won the Oscar pool in our office, and I only saw four or five of the films nominated in any category this year. Time has been tight, that's for sure. But I'm not complaining. When people are asking you to write for them, damn if that doesn't feel good.


Friday, March 03, 2006

WHMP RRHOF 3.0- Anarchy in the CA

Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2006
To: Steve


Ahh, the Sex Pistols. What more can be said about them that hasn't already been written or spoken or regurgitated in a bathroom toilet. One album, Steve. That's all it took for the band to influence pop culture, piss off just about everyone, fire their old bassist, watch their new bassist spiral into heroin addiction and kill his girlfriend, and self implode 14 days into their first US tour.

The band was in the news last week basically pissing on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Initially, guitarist Steve Jones expressed some excitement about the band playing the gig. But apparently, the $25K ticket price was too much (I agree). And, I believe there was some posturing going on too. After all, it wouldn't be very punk to accept an award from the mainstream, would it?

On a personal level, I recall the first time listening to "Never Mind the Bullocks". I had borrowed a cassette copy from Sally in the Spring of '88. It was soon after the whole Tennessee heartbreak and my emotions were pretty raw, to say the least. As I cruised around our suburban fortress, aimlessly driving to forget, and "Holidays In The Sun" came blasting over the shitty speakers of the RED VAN! It was like ripping a hole in my skin and bleeding to the music. I'll never forget it. I can only liken it to the first time I listened to Zeppelin. Who were these guys? And why were they so loud and angry? But I didn't care. I just wanted to beat on the steering wheel and drive faster. And when the cassette was done, I played it again. By the time I got home, I felt better, at least for a day or two.

As you spoke about your work situation last night, I couldn't think of a better song to let rip over your tiny computer speakers. It's raining here today. Perfect time for some anarchy.


Monday, February 27, 2006

The best f'n car EVER!

So, my freshman year of high school, my dad went out and bought a 1978 Delta 88 to use as his "get around town" car. The thing was a tank. Had a vinyl roof, plush seats, and a trunk that could fit two bodies, at least. Problem was, the car leaked. When it rained, you had to place paper down on the seat to make sure your ass didn't get wet (especially on the way to school every day). It was even more difficult to stay dry in the winter because, growing up in Cleveland, it snowed 5-6 months out of the year. And, if you had a father like mine, clearing the snow off of the car was done using the windshield wipers...nothing else. So, the back window rarely got cleaned, and he drove the car around town with three to four inches of snow on the roof. Snow that melted and leaked into the car.

When it came time to get my driver's license, do you think my dad went out of his way to help me with my exam by borrowing someone else's smaller, compact car (like he did with my sister two years later)? Hell no. I took my driver's test in the Delta 88, and barely passed. But I did pass, and within days, I was behind the wheel of that boat. This was the winter of '85-86.

That Spring, I decided to figure out why the roof leaked and I tore off all of the vinyl. There were huge holes in the metal where it had rusted out and, having grown up observing my brother work magic with bondo on the Ford Torino we used to own, I decided to give it a try. Man, was it ugly. The next logical step was to paint it, but Dad wasn't going to spend money on repainting an old junker, so I jokingly suggested painting a flag on the roof (visions of the General Lee were dancing in my head). He wouldn't have it. "I worked in Georgia during the 60's" he said. That's all he would say when refusing my request for the Confederate flag. I was bummed for about 10 seconds because I immediately proposed the Union Jack and he said, "Sure."

Over the course of two weeks, I painted that flag on the roof and the two of us drove the thing around town. I believe he got a thrill from showboating around town in a crazy looking car. I thought I was cool. It was my friend, Sally, who christened it "The Whomobile" some months later, so I painted that moniker on the front lip of the hood. That Summer, while I was still employed at Taco Bell, I came out to the car one night after work and someone had put a note on it. "Who the fuck are you?" A real fan, I'm sure. My finally stroke was painting that question (minus the profanity) on the trunk so that every car behind me could ask the same question of themselves.

I loved that car. Everybody loved that car. You could easily sit six or seven people in it. You could have a damn party in it. One of my favorite moments of my youth happened in the Summer of '87 after school had let out. Steve and I were driving the valley, listening to Tom Petty in anticipation to a huge party that night and the beginning Summer before us. As "Don't Come Around Here No More" began its crescendo to the climaxof the song, the two of us pounded on the dash board, beating the hell out of the cracking vinyl. It seemed like the old beast could take it. It enjoyed it. We were giving it more love than its previous owner had, that's for sure.

That car lasted until just before Thanksgiving '87. In an intersection at Lorain Road, it began to stall out, like Puff the Dragon breathing his last breathe. I was able to veer it off the road and into the lot of an Auto parts store (King's Auto Parts, as I recall... or Crown Auto Parts). When Dad came to pick me up and have the Whomobile hauled to a gas station, it was the last time I saw it. The shop called and the amount to repair it was not worth it. My parents decided it was time to buy another van (UGH!). The Whomobile was no more.

I never had any photos of that car. For all the time I spent in it, I never thought of recording it on film. It was going to last forever, wasn't it? However, during my senior year, the boys cross country team piled on to the car for an impromptu team picture. I guess my friend Phil's camera was used and he's had that picture ever since. He sent me a copy of that picture today and I just had to post it. Has there ever been a better picture of the joy of youth? Look at these kids. No worries (so it seems). The future is bright. We're young. We're carefree.

What happened to those kids?


Friday, February 24, 2006


From: Scott
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006
To: Steve

Okay, I'm a couple days late, but cut me some slack, I have killer clones to write about, which, for some reason, ties in with this week's selection.

If there is one band that has been denied entry to the Hall of Fame for too long and truly deserves to be there, it is Black Sabbath. Am I fan? Not really. Honestly, I know 2, maybe 3 of their songs. Some musicologist I am, huh?

To me, Sabbath will always be one of those bands whose name was written in black marker on the jeans jackets of countless burn outs at our school You remember those kids, the ones who stood one foot off of school grounds to smoke their cigarettes in the dead of winter (wearing only those same jeans jackets, mind you). Now, I'm sure most of those kids are managing large companies and making decent livings while I toil away at being an "artist".

Despite my limited knowledge about Sabbath, I do know that the original line up came to fame in the early 70's with members Ozzy Osborne (who?), the great Tony Iommi on guitar (he plays with a disfigured hand, mind you), Bill Ward on drums and (one of my favorite rock names of all time) Geezer Butler on bass. Their music was derived from the blues, but their lyrical subject matter was DARK, dude. And the darkness of their lyrics seemed to seep into the heaviness of their music.

When Cream were inducted into the Hall of Fame, Clapton claimed that they (Cream) had invented heavy metal. Uh, I don't think so, Slowhand. Cream and Zeppelin created the blueprint, but heavy metal... Real heavy metal, that we associate with countless bands like Iron Maiden, Dio, Judas Priest and Slayer, was born on the Sabbath. And that, my friend, is why this band is so deserving of their induction.

The influence they had on these bands, and therefore on the lives of so many teenagers is what rock music is about. True, the Hall of Fame should be about the artistic importance of the music, but you HAVE to include the commercial side as well.

Finally, think of the thousands of garage bands out there who strap on guitars and immediately play one of two riffs. The first, sadly, is the "Nuh nuh nuh...nuh nuh nuhnuh" of "Smoke on the Water". The other...

"Nuh Nuh nuhnuh nuh, nuhnuhnuhnuhnuhnuh nuh nuh nuh!"

I... AM... IRON... MAN!

Should be interesting to see if Ozzy can manage a coherent sentence when they're inducted.


From: Steve
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006
To: Scott

I'm racing around today, so not much time to respond, but I totally agree with everything .

My favorite Black Sabbath moment: December 1984, N O H.S. v. Olmsted Falls home basketball game. Todd Trefz somehow figures out how to access the P.A. system and pipes Side 1 of the classic Sabbath album, starting with "Ironman" over the loudspeakers during JV warmups -- then refuses to tell Dom Pannito, the coach, how to turn it off. (This is one of three Todd Trefz memories. The other two include a ride in his grandmother's "three on the tree" Dodge Rambler in Winter 1985-86, and his drawing a technical foul for a completely idiotic smack of the backboard at Falls in January 1986.)

This was the start of a Sabbath binge for that JV team, which went 18-2 that year. Sabbath on the bus blasting from a cheap Panasonic boom box, Sabbath in the locker room after games before the wet-haired emergence at halftime of the varsity game.

Bonus question: What was song 3 on Side 1 of that album?

Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006
To: Steve

I could pretend to actually know the answer to your question, but I was knee deep in Yes madness at that point in my life. So, I will give the answer (as found on Amazon).

“Planet Caravan”

Dom Pannito... I’m cracking up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Brokeback Mountain mini review

Back again. I've been overdoing it with this script I'm writing and haven't found the time to write on the blog. A drag, I know.

Had a chance to watch "Brokeback Mountain" the other night and it was a wonderful movie. Heath Ledger is a revelation in his role. The rest of the cast is also outstanding, but is really Ledger that shows something I have never seen in any of his previous performances. I think this is my second favorite Ang Lee film, behind "Sense and Sensibility".

As I watched the movie, I was unprepared to get sucked into it emotionally like I did. I had read the short story last year and that really stuck with me. But this film has really kept me thinking since I watched the credits.

What I really came away from it thinking, though, is how I wish I could have been the first person to read the story, or to be the first person, unaware, to see the movie. What a marvelous experience that must have been for those unsuspecting people. With so much press given to the basic plot of the movie (and that's what they focus on... the BASIC plot, not the emotional depth or the fine craftsmanship... it's called that "gay cowboy movie") it is close to impossible to not know what the movie is about when you sit down to watch it.

Over the holiday, I caught some of Ernst Lubitsch's "Heaven Can Wait". Thinking it had something to do with the Warren Beatty remake, I started watching it and soon I was putting off my chores and glued to the television. It will be interesting to hear/see what people fifty or so years from now think of "Brokeback Mountain." If that future generation is anything like the current one, those people will have forgotten about it. Will they think it quaint. Antiquated (like some people think of Demme's "Philadelphia" now a days)? I had no idea what "Heaven Can Wait" was about, but a good movie is a good movie.

Hopefully, some Sunday afternoon in the future, some 30 something year old film guy will flip on a classic movie channel and that guy will get drawn into the beautiful film experience that is "Brokeback Mountain."

Friday, February 17, 2006

I haven't posted on this site in some time. My knee problems have prevented me from running any more and I have decided to give up the marathons. What will I do next? Not sure. Right now I'm waist deep in a couple of writing projects that seem to be sucking up any spare time I have.

I have decided to keep a new blog for a year. It's a little experiment in trying to document my year.

That web address

Thanks for checking in.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Break Up Trailer

One last thing.

My buddy Geoff is featured in the new Jennifer Anniston/Vince Vaughn movie that opens this summer. Geoff starred in "King's Highway", and he's highlighted in the trailer. Here is a link to it:

WHMP RRHOF Edition #1

From: Scott
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2006
To: Steve


So, I thought I'd take the next four weeks to highlight the four rock' roll artists being inducted to the Rock Hall this year. You know I am a big fan of the Hall of Fame, though I don't always agree with their selections (ZZ Top? Bob Seger? Really?) or with their omissions (The Stooges, Patti Smith, Gram Parsons, Chic... To name a few).

This year's class should prove to be one of the most interesting, what with spacey NY punkers (Blondie); Bloated southern boys (Skynyrd); brain dead headbangers (Sabbath) and a group whose whole purpose was to be a spit in the mainstream (the Pistols).

(Miles Davis is being inducted...HUH? And so are the Herb Albert and Jerry Moss, the guys who created A&M Records...thanks for Joe Jackson, guys-- but I'm not going to feature them).

Anyway, with such an eclectic group. This is the first year in many in which VH1 must be seating. Who is really going to watch this year's inductees? Not many. Kudos to the Rock Hall for not giving a damn and actually recognizing groups that have been overlooked for years.

Today's selection comes from Blondie. I've always felt that Blondie were an important band for pop cultural reasons alone. They introduced rap to middle class white America with their "Rapture" single. That song alone has enough significance to make them worthy of induction. But Blondie was something else. They were born in the NY punk movement and evolved into a disco/pop/new wave group that dominated the charts for several years.

On top of that, Debbie Harry was one of the few women rockers in the male dominated world of music at the time (which makes the exclusion of influential Patti Smith all the more ridiculous). She was more than a mere "face" for the group. Harry cowrote many of the songs and brought a certain attitude mixed with sexiness that made Blondie feel both fun and edgy.

Let's not forget the rest of the band, though. Guitarist Chris Stein penned or co-penned almost all of the group's major hits. And he is often credited with shaping the sound of the band. And being a drummer, I always appreciated Clem Burke, a, for his adaptability and power pop drumming, and b- for having a cool ass name. The band was rounded out by keyboardist, James Destri and bassist Frank Infante (who later sued his band mates).

I've always dug this song, Hanging on the Telephone." It's a driving little pop gem that was a killer tune even before some cell phone company began using it in their ads. I hope you dig it.

Next week... The dark prince and his minions invade WHMP.


Note from SM

Sorry I haven't been keeping up with the blog. It's been a busy couple of weeks and I've had a lot of thinking to do about the blog and what it's supposed to represent. I also have been working on several projects at once and the blog kind of falls by the wayside. That said, I'm going to do my best to set aside some time at lunch every day to just post some thoughts and keep this updated.

In the mean time, here is the next email I sent to my buddy Steve.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

WHMP Grammy edition

To: Steve
Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2006
From: Scott


I waited all day for the user on my floor who had the John Legend album on his iTunes to get on the server just so I could send you this week's song.

Dude, I hear this a couple of months ago and I really dug the entire album. But I saw John Legend perform last night on the Grammys and was not only impressed, but inspired. It's one of just two performances at that awards show that actually moved me (and caused me to rewind my TiVo to watch the performance again).

What I find so wonderful about this song is its take on love... A mature love between a couple that they have grown into. It's not about infatuation, it's not about that "I just got married and I'm on top of the world" love. It's abou7t the "we've had our troubles and worked through them and you're still the love of my life and the one and ONLY person I want to spend the rest of my life with" love.

Nothing more inspiring about that, huh? In particularly in today's "get married fast; get divorced faster" (oh, I'm sorry, annulment) society, to hear a young (er) artist sing about commitment is refreshing. I hope you dig it.

Oh, and he was so exceptional perfuming the song... Flawless... That I downloaded the entire album to have for myself.

Without further adieu, John Legend's extraordinary "Ordinary People."


PS- Yes, the only other performer to move me (to tears) was Springsteen. He's the only performer that was able to silence the entire crowd with just his guitar, voice and harmonica. It was another impassioned performance by the Boss that made me really think about the kids overseas who are dying for an unjustified war. When he said "Bring 'em home" and walked off to applause, Springsteen proved, yet again, that he's the Boss in more ways than one.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A quick post before I call it a night. Got through most of the day without any disruptions. But the weight of Matt's death was suddenly upon me as the day came to an end. Thought I was handling it. The worse part is that I projected some of this anxiety out to the family and every little thing I did that was wrong only grew in size. I forgot Jake's enzymes and didn't realize it until we were in the Target parking lot. Instead of trying to laugh it off, I got so damn pissed at myself. Why can't I remember? God bless Sophie who tries to make me feel better. And I know I was wearing the Budd, Sr. face the whole time. This isn't who I want my kids to think I am. This isn't the kind of man I want to be.

Is there something more going on here? Is this whole anniversary just a reason for me to be sad? What am I missing?

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Gulf that grew between us

As I was putting Jake down to bed tonight, I couldn’t close my eyes, which is unusual. I typically fall asleep with him and wake up an hour later, or when Julie gets home from work. But tonight, I just lay there, staring into the darkness, my eyes slowly adjusting. Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Matt’s death and all I can think about is the last time we spoke and the gulf that formed between us in the two years between that phone call and his passing.

The last time I saw Matt was Labor Day, 2001. We were home in Cleveland visiting because we weren’t going to be flying back for Christmas that year (as Jake was due in the winter). He came over to the Flynn’s and reeked of alcohol. This put almost everyone off, even though he was in very good spirits (and with Matt and alcohol, it was hit or miss). After that night, we spoke again about him coming out to visit and whether he would be moving out west again. Before we knew it, the night was over and he was gone.

After we found out about Jake’s illness, Matt happened to call and I gave him the news. He sounded devastated. It was similar to how he acted when my dad had his open-heart surgery. I’m not sure he knew what to say. It was December and he was still living in Ohio (after moving back). He once again talked about moving west, possibly stopping by to visit on his way to Seattle. That was the last I heard from him until November.

On my birthday, 2001, Matt called to wish me a happy birthday. He was good at remembering dates like that. I’m sure he thought of me on November 1st all the time. I know that when August 9th always rolls around he is on my mind. I was surprised to learn that he’d moved to Seattle… in May. And this threw me off some because I thought he would have informed me that he was moving. But this was typical of our relationship by this point. We barely informed each other of anything. That’s not to say that I didn’t think of him constantly, it’s just that whenever I would think to call him, something would distract me and I never would.

We chit chatted about stupid shit for a while. I’m sure I promised to send him a copy of “King’s Highway” (but I never did). That is something I’m bummed that he never saw. So much of that movie dealt with my feelings for him. And for some reason, what I wanted to say to Matt came out in the movie, but never from my own mouth. But I was so sure that “King’s Highway” would get into some festival, especially Seattle, which I wanted to surprise him and just show up on his doorstep to take him to the theater. Never happened.

We hung up that night with Matt giving me his phone number and me promising to call once a month. I, of course, did not. It was my pride. I was ticked off that he hadn’t even sent me a letter in the many months that had passed between him moving and that phone call. I thought we were closer than that. This was just the way Matt acted. He didn’t think I would be upset. And since there is a whole scene in the movie that deals with just this sort of misunderstanding, I should have known better. As weeks passed, I let that piece of paper slip away and the number was lost. Months passed and I would think about calling his parents to get the number, but I never did. Dumb ass.

The following year, I decided to run my first marathon and this is when the bigger misunderstanding occurred. As typical in large fundraisers, I sent out a form letter to family and friends asking for donations, including Matt. I never heard from him.

I’ve never really spoken about this or written about what happened, but in order to have a proper wake, I need to get this out.

Now, we had sent Christmas cards every year and never got anything back. That didn’t bother me. But to not hear back from him when I was trying to raise money to find a cure for my son, I gut pissed off. What I later found out is that Matt felt slighted that I didn’t send a personally letter asking him for a donation and updating him about Jake’s status. And so, he got pissed at me.

Like I said. Ego. Pride. Stupid shit.

In December of 2004, after a second year of hearing nothing back from Matt and having sent more letters and cards, I decided to call his mom to see if maybe he had moved and he hadn’t received the mail. This was awkward because I hadn’t spoken to his folks since we’d moved to California. I have no excuse. It was lousy of me not to at least call and say hello every time we were in Cleveland… or even to stop by when Matt had moved back. I wish I could go back and change my actions, but you can’t. I can only learn from them.

When I called Matt’s mom, she told me that he was still living in the same place. My heart was broken. Why hadn’t he called? What had I done? How had we grown so far apart? And yet, I was also pissed off because if something was bothering him he SHOULD have called. We could have talked it over. Little did I know that he struggled with the decision to call me many times, asking his brother what he should do.

I will regret for the rest of my days that I never called him. Even to leave a message or to say something awkward would have been better than nothing at all. I’m not saying that us speaking would have saved him. Hardly. But I just wish I could have known where he was at in life. I wish I could have heard his voice one more time. Even as I sit here writing, I can here that smooth baritone voice that he had. How it would raise when he got excited, or how it could be really mellow when he was thinking. I can see us sitting together, him with his guitar, strumming, then putting it down and saying, “Well, what do you want to do?”

When Matt’s brother told me everything that Matt had been feeling before he died, I was very upset. You don’t know how it feels to have anger at someone and nowhere to direct it. What could I do, yell at the sky? At the car door while I was driving? But I am glad he did tell me. If anything, it let’s me know that he still cared enough to be mad. He still cared enough to want to call. If only he could get past his pride. In the year that has passed, I have come to terms with Matt’s passing, including one drunken night when Jules and the kids were out of town (and for anyone I called that night, I apologize again). If it took me seven months to come to grips with my oldest friend’s death, I can only imagine what his mom, dad and brother have been going through. And I understand better what my sister in law Karyn must be going through after the loss of her mother. Death isn’t like a stubbed toe. It doesn’t hurt for a week and slowly disappear. It stays with you, eats at you, changes you and makes you older in ways you don’t want to be.

It’s strange, as the hours get closer to tomorrow and I know what February 3rd represents, my heart grows heavier.

I miss him, now more than ever.

Follow up from Steve

From: Steve
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 14:39:05 -0500
To: Scott


As always, this is gem of a message. Matt was very fortunate in his friendships.

I can't match the tone of this message, but the air guitar scene reminded me of something I saw not long ago. It's attached.

Thanks again for the tune. I love it.


From: Scott
Date: Thu, 02 Feb 2006
To: Steve

This picture is freakin' awesome. Thanks.

From: Steve
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006
To: Scott

I thought you'd like it. Feel free to send to Budd and Dave Lamb. I bet they'd get a kick out of it, too.

Date: Thu, 02 Feb 2006
To: Steve

Yeah, I bet they will.

You know, I took your advice and Googled myself the other day... Then I Googled you. Nice picture on the company website, Steve. So professional looking.

From: Steve
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006
To: Scott

OK, that's just mean. But:

A buddy Googled me about a year ago and somehow found some cross country results from 1986. It took me two hours to get him to stop needling me about being as slow as the girls.

So you're not as far down the list as he is.

Isn't it cool that you have 2 pages of hits?

From: Scott
Date: Thu, 02 Feb 2006
To: Steve

Yes, it was cool to see all of the attention being paid to American Standard. I may get to see a rough cut in a couple of weeks, I'm not sure.

As for those Cross Country results... I was, like, always one of the last people to finish. I think Matt was actually a little slower than me. Then again, we didn't go out for CC for the athleticism. It was purely social.

Somewhere out there, someone has a pic from my senior year when the whole team piled in and on the Whomobile. I wish I had it. Maybe Phil has it. Not sure.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Special MB hump day

From: Scott
Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006
To: Steve

Hey Steve,

I've been reflecting on Matt all this week. I've found it to be very healthy, trying to remember who he was and what he was capable of as a good man, friend, and brother. Is it strange to be going through this type of looking back a year after he passed away? I don't think I'll do it again next year. In fact, I'll try to recall his birthday from now on and have a toast to him then.

Like I said, I spoke with Elliott last Saturday and it was just a nice, good conversation. A lot of reminiscing and, surprisingly, a lot of laughter. I believe Matt would have liked us to remember him for being able to make us laugh. Despite his air of superiority and the way he could make you feel small, he was also full of a lot of warmth and humor.

For this week's song. I wanted to pick something that reminded me of him. I could have been obvious and chosen Dylan or Tom Waits. I avoided his latter day loves like Nick Cave because I am not familiar enough with the music and , to be honest, his love of this music wasn't when I was a big part of his life anymore.

Matt and I explored a lot of music together. Our mutual love of Journey nearly got us to the "Escape" concert in 6th grade (with Forest School secretary Mrs. Vincent!) and when the two of us finally saw the band, it was Matt's mom who took us to the show at the Richfield Coliseums. How about that? In fact, Matt's folks also took us to the Huey Lewis & the News show at Blossum a couple years later. The two of us rocked out. Hey, Huey was big back then!

We took in Genesis and Matt sat there with his arms folded the whole time. I believe this was an early sign of his antiestablishment... Or just his disgust with the crass commercialism of Phil Collins and co.

In addition to the concerts we saw, we both influenced each other in our tastes. For some unknown reason, he bought the god-awful 3rd Asia album after my suggestion. I will always feel bad about that one. And, yes, I borrowed "Tunnel of Love" from him in late '87, a move that changed my life.

One of the most memorable music related moment we had together was also a film related one. The two of us discovered "This Is Spinal Tap" and watched the video long before it became a cult sensation. Matt bought the album and we never tired listening to "Gimme Some Money" and "Big Bottoms."

Finally, there is one memory I will treasure. It came in Spring of '87 when "The Joshua Tree" was released. He was so high on U2 then and I was just getting into them. One school night, he was over, my folks were out and "Where the Streets Have No Name" was playing over that old stereo console my parents had in the living room. Remember that thing? It must have weighted 300 pounds. Anyway, as the song played, Matt and I began playing air guitar and moving side to side, like really bad rock bands do (say... BTO). It was such a sweet moment, though. As we were on the cusp of adulthood, here we were, acting like giddy little kids. It was the kind of moment that could only happen between two people who knew each other so well.

Later that year we saw U2 at the old Cleveland Stadium. I have no memories of the show. That time in the living has a more lasting impression than the biggest band in the world. Funny how that works.

When Matt died, I was drawn to U2's new album. There was a song on the previous one, "All That You Can't Leave Behind" entitled "Kits" which helped me get through my acceptance that I wouldn't be able to "save" him after he'd moved back to Ohio. I first listened to that song, but the lyrics were meaningless to me now because Matt was dead. Then I heard this song, "Miracle Drug," from "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" and I was sucked in. \The lyrics spoke to me on a couple of levels and it helped me begin the healing process.

I want to trip inside your head
Spend the day there
To hear the things you haven't said
And see what you might see

I want to hear you when you call
Do you feel anything at all
I want to see your thoughts take shape
And walk right out

Freedom has a scent
Like the top of a new born baby's head

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I've seen enough, I'm not giving up
On a miracle drug

Of science and the human heart
There is no limit
There is no failure here sweetheart
Just when you quit

I am you and you are mine
Love makes nonsense of space
And time will disappear
Love and logic keep us clear
Reason is on our side, love

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I've had enough of romantic love
I'd give it up, yeah, I'd give it up
For a miracle drug, a miracle drug
A miracle drug

Oh God, I need your help tonight

Beneath the noise
Below the din
I hear a voice
It's whispering
In science and in medicine
I was a stranger
You took me in

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I've had enough of romantic love
I'd give it up, yeah, I'd give it up
For a miracle drug, for a miracle drug

Miracle, miracle drug

I miss him, a lot. At times, I try to fool myself into thinking that it's just as if he's still living in Seattle and we're just not talking right now. Then I catch myself and realize that I'll never talk to him again... At least, not in this world.