Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clerks II opens!

I've been an ardent admirer of Kevin Smith and his films now for - I can't believe it - going on a decade (and I wrote the first study of his cinematic canon, An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith). Kathryn and I are going out to see Clerks II tomorrow, and then I'll post my review here on Monday or Tuesday.

Anyway, as part of my celebration of the Clerks II premiere, I'll be watching Clerks again on DVD, and I'm also featuring this interview from the great blog, NC FLIX, regarding my book.

Here's a sample:

Now, with Clerks II opening this weekend, we asked John to tell us a bit about doing the book on Smith, whose work we admire--from his films to his hilarious, scatalogical, and candid evenings with Kevin Smith compilations of his lecture appearances at colleges.

Johns says Chasing Amy was "not only hilarious, it seemed very honest in it's observations about Generation X." Following that film, he wrote a book proposal which eventually sold to Applause Theatre and Cinema Books as
An Askew View, the films of Kevin Smith.

"My enthusiasm for Kevin Smith's work only grew as I began interviewing cast and crew members," John says. "Everybody at View Askew productions is simply tremendous to work with. They all love what they're doing. The enthusiasm floored me, and down to the last one, they're all whip-smart and talented. I couldn't ask for a better writing experience."

John's book on Smith is his biggest seller and he's still collecting royalties four years after publication. Clerks II may spawn a whole new set of Smith fans looking to find out more about him, the way I did when I first encountered John's book after an Encore showing of "An Evening With Kevin Smith."

"Kevin's fans are die-hard for a reason," says John.

Check out the rest of the piece here.

SATURDAY MORNING CULT TV BLOGGING: Land of the Lost: "Hurricane"

Land of the Lost's "Hurricane" is one of the series' finest (and fastest...) entries. Written by David Gerrold and Larry Niven, the story finds a parachutist named Beau Jackson (that's Mr. Jackson if you're nasty...) falling into the pocket universe after Will fools with a pylon's matrix table. This particular pylon is stationed atop a mountain peak, at the highest point in the land...

This geography is important, because in the episode's most exquisite image (and indeed, one of the series' best moments...), Will, Holly, Marshall and Beau gaze across the snow-covered peaks of the land of the lost (using binoculars) and spy something interesting: themselves! Yep, they see themselves (from the back!), looking across the land...a view which beautifully sells the concept of a world that twists around itself, closed off, with no end and no beginning.

In this inventive episode, the Marshalls must find a way to re-direct the floating time doorway (which is cruising 50-60 meters in the air...) closer to Mr. Jackson, so he can be returned home (to his life in the far off 1990s...when we have space gliders and space stations...). Also, there's another problem. The time doorway opened while Mr. Jackson was on his space glider - directing an atmospheric re-entry. That means that all the wind and turbulence from the earth's upper atmosphere is gushing into the Land of the Lost and creating the mother of all hurricanes. The environmental watchdogs of the closed universe, the skylons, put in an encore appearance to help out.

"Hurricane" also boasts a great line from the Texan space pilot Beau (played with the right amount of disbelief and humor by Ron Masak...). Will tells him that one of the dinosaurs, Spot, is "omnivorous," and Beau replies, "I don't much care where it goes to church..."

The next episode, "Circle" is the final entry in Land of the Lost's first season!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trading Card Close-up #3: "A gruesome alien creature attacks Eagle 1"

I was just five years old and yet my parents somehow knew to sit me down in front of the television one Saturday night in September; for the premiere of the brand-new TV series, a "science fiction spectacular," Space:1999.

That was way back in 1975, and in all honesty, the viewing experience probably changed my life. That's not an exaggeration. Before Space:1999 I was into Sinbad movies, King Kong and Godzilla. Afterwards, I was a changed man...my eyes forever watching the skies...directed to the cosmos.

Anyway, what really made Space:1999 so appealing to me followed shortly after the debut. The second episode aired on WPIX, Channel 11 in New York, "Dragon's Domain" - and man, it scared the crap out of me. Although this was the 23rd episode produced, the station opted to air it after "Breakaway," probably because it is one of the series' strongest (and most memorable) outings.

As a five year-old, "Dragon's Domain" terrified me (and prepared me for Alien in 1979). The story involved a tentacled, cyclopean beast that haunted a "spider's web" of derelict spaceships. The thing was creepy (and would periodically shoot out jets of saliva...). And if it got a tentacle on an errant astronaut it would drag that poor unfortunate into its gaping maw...and spit out the smoking bones in mere seconds. It may not sound like much now, but in 1975, and to the mind of a 5 year old, this was amazing stuff...

It was grotesque, and terrifying, and bloody...and I loved every minute of it. So for my third trading card close-up, I recall the horrors of Space:1999's "dragon," featured here on card # 10 from the 66 card series released in 1976. Take a good, long look at that monster. It's probably the reason I'm a writer today...

Ark II, Space Academy and Jason of Star Command coming to DVD...

Okay, I guess I'm having what has become known as a "geek-gasm."

My friend Fred just made me aware of a press release from a company called BCI. Turns out the company has acquired pretty much the entire Filmation catalog going back thirty-to-forty years, and is in the process of releasing several classic Saturday morning cult TV series on DVD.

By the end of this year, we can expect Ark II which occurs "in the year 2476. Earth is a wasteland, and the team of Jonah, Ruth, Samuel and their monkey sidekick, Adam, try to help what's left of humanity."

Also on tap for '06: The New Adventures of He-Man, and She-Ra!

In 2007, things get even better. BCI is releasing Space Academy ("a group of young cadets at Space Academy face danger and adventure as they learn what mysteries lie within the galaxy...") and Jason of Star Command ("Outer space adventurer Jason and friends must contend with the evil Dragos and an assortment of aliens in the ultimate spaceship battles.")

And - holy cow! - then there's the best of all: The Secrets of Isis starring hottie Joanna Cameron. ("One of television's most popular superheroines returns as school teacher Andrea Thomas and uses her magic amulet to become the powerful Isis, endowed with the powers of the gods and goddesses.")

Damn, I can't wait to see these Saturday morning shows again. I don't know if they'll be "great" or even "good," but they sure as hell will be nostalgic. I plan on ordering all of them. Where's Shazam? And when can we expect Run, Joe Run?

You can read the press release
here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Muir Translated in Japanese!

In the past, my literary efforts have been translated into Italian. And my books have been reviewed in German and French. But this is the first time I've seen my efforts converted into Japanese!!

Mr, Katsuaki Takeuchi, an admirer of the 1959-1961 paranormal TV series One Step Beyond contacted me recently and asked if he could translate my interview with the late John Newland, director of all 96 series episodes, into Japanese. Naturally, I agreed, and now the page is live on the Net.

Check it out
here. I'm really tickled about this. Now, if someone would just translate one of my works into Klingon, I'd really be a happy camper...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Encore Magazine Likes Singing a New Tune

Another review for Singing A New Tune, my Applause study covering the "new" movie musical format (and featuring detailed interviews with Sir Alan Parker, Todd Haynes, John Cameron Mitchell, Joss Whedon, Keith Gordon, Todd Graff and others...), just came in.

This one arrives courtesy of Encore, "The Performing Arts Magazine," which covers various performing arts venues throughout the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area (on web and in print magazine), so this is great. Especially because the magazine likes it...

The review reads, in part:

"Movie musicals reached their zenith with Busby Berkeley (42nd Street) and the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Post-war, Americans were past the point of fantasy. Yes, there were gems like The Sound of Music and West Side Story, but after Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz in 1979, successful film musicals were few and far between. By the late 1990s, filmmakers were creating movies with musical numbers that defied the old conventions.

Muir delights in the creativity of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, an animated movie musical that combined political parody with a musical send-up. And that was just the beginning. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, a hallucinogenic tour of a 19th-century Parisian hot spot—and Nicole Kidman, too—came in 2001....Muir lovingly details the genre’s hits, flops and near misses—from the kitsch of Xanadu to the overblown Phantom of the Opera. Forget the groaners....For movie lovers, Singing a New Tune is the literary equivalent of Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”