Friday, August 31, 2012

A Five Star Night

I have not been to the Great New York State Fair since about 2006. I wouldn't have gone this year, except the Happy Together 2012 tour was playing for free in the Free Concert Court.  After Davy Jones died earlier this year, I vowed to take advantage of seeing the musicians of my youth in person any time I could. So that meant attending this year's State Fair.

We arrived about 90 minutes before the show. Not a seat to be found in the court. We went off in search of dinner -- sausage sandwiches, of course. We wandered back to the court and found a grassy area to the right of the stage near a big screen and plopped ourselves down on the ground to wait. Eventually the concert was intro'd by local radio personality Gary Dunes, who, in turn intro'd Senator Chuck Schumer (who forgot to mention the Grass Roots in his version of the intro).

First up: The Buckinghams. I have never seen the Buckinghams in person. I love the Buckinghams. They were awesome.

During their set, security walked around our area and made people sit. They were applauded for their efforts. Some people just don't get it. Like the tripod guy. He thought he'd stand during the whole concert and record it and didn't understand why the people behind him kept yelling at him.

Next up: The Grass Roots. I've seen the Grass Roots in concert before, but not since Rob Grill died. The band was good, but the lead singer didn't have the same quality of sound as Rob Grill. They covered  CSN&Y's "Cost of Freedom" before launching into "Live for Today" in honor of the vets in the audience.

Gary Puckett followed the Grass Roots. Gary Puckett's vibrato gets worse by the year. Weakest spot in the lineup. He, too, honored the vets.

Then came the performer I'd come to see: Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees.

Mickey honored Davy Jones by singing two of of Davy's songs ("Daydream Believer" and "Little Bit Me, Little Bit You"). A montage on the big video screen of magazine covers, photos from recording sessions, etc. brought tears to my eyes.

Mickey reminded the crowed that he sang "I'm A Believer" before Shrek did.

Mickey was always my favorite Monkee, so being able to scream his name at a live concert . . . well, scratch that off my bucket list.

Several people were escorted from the court by state troopers during Mickey's set.

The final act was The Turtles: Flow & Eddy. As usual, they were amazing. Their set started out with a Lady Gaga video, which they interrupted with the question: "What happened to our music? It's not supposed to sound like that! It's supposed to sound like this!" And they launched into "Only Wanna Be With You."

The Grand Finale turned out to be each of the acts coming out to perform a portion of one of their songs again. It was fabulous.

Stereo Steve Becker, along with his wife & son, sat near us during the concert. Stereo Steve would periodically come over to say something concert-related to TV Stevie. After the concert, we hung around talking for bit, then wandered to the area behind the stage. That's where Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna of The Buckinghams spent a very long time shaking hands and signing autographs.

 I did catch a glimpse of Mickey Dolenz as he came out of his dressing room and got into a car to leave. "Mickey!" Wow. I got to scream it twice!

While there, we ran into the ubiquitous Bill DeLapp of the Syracuse New Times, who was busy snapping photos of the musicians.

All in all, it was a five star night in more ways than one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One for the Money: Reflection on the Movie

I have been waiting since 1997 for the motion picture version of Janet Evanovich's One for the Money.

My sister had lent me the first two books of the series. They sat in my TBR pile forever. When I finally picked up the first one, I read it cover-to-cover, then picked up the second and read that cover-to-cover. No sleep that night. The next day I borrowed the third book from the library. Fabulous stories, fabulous characters.

These will make great movies! I thought. Maybe I can option the books. Not that I know anything at all about optioning books, but I looked into it and learned SONY/Columbia Tri-Star (or whatever they were called back then) had beaten me to the punch.

I would pre-order the next installment from Amazon. When it arrived, my co-workers and I would  lock ourselves in a conference room during our lunch hour, and I would read the first chapter aloud to the others, so we'd all know the answer to the cliffhanger from the previous installment. We asked each other, "What would Stephanie do?"

Around book nine or ten, a little disgusted with dog poop and Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) behavior on the parts of all the characters, I stopped buying the books, but I kept abreast of the saga of Stephanie, Joe and Ranger via the library.

And I waited 15 years for the movie.

The movie came out to poor reviews. I put it on hold at the library. I could wait a few more months.

For 91 minutes of my life I will never get back.

I'm a writer. I understand that novels aren't written like motion pictures, that internal angst doesn't interpret well in cinema, and that scenes have to be combined, dropped, dramatically changed. I understand that the characters in my head created by the author's words aren't necessarily going to be someone else's vision of the characters.

But come on already. Evanovich created memorable characters, filled with sass and vitality, none of which made it to the movie. Funny, snarky dialogue never made it to the script. Sexual tension was more like old Silly String than a tight rope.

If I'd been able to option the books, the script would have been a lot closer to the characters Evanovich wrote than the insipid stuff I watched last night.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When in Rome . . .

TV Stevie and I just spent three days and two nights in Rome, NY, home of the Capitol Theatre and CapitolFest. TV Stevie has been attending CapitolFest since its inception 10 years ago. I'm a relatively recent devotee, 2012 being my third or fourth year. Maybe my fifth. Time flies when you're having fun and all that.

One of the great things about this film festival is its use of the original installation Moller theater organ.

Bernie Anderson, Avery Tunningley, and Dr. Philip Carli (and others) breathe life into silent movies using this magnificent instrument.

Ran into several people we know.

Bill DeLapp, Syracuse New Times
Gerry Orlando, Syracuse Cinephile Society

Some of this year's highlights:

The Friday session opened with a TV documentary from Sweden about Warner Oland, this year's CapitolFest tribute star. The documentary was introduced to the CapitolFest audience by a distant cousin of Oland. The screening on Friday was only the third time the documentary has been shown. The first time was on Swedish television, the second time was in China (where many people were allegedly shocked that Charlie Chan wasn't Chinese).

Although Oland is best known for his portrayal of Charlie Chan, we saw only one Charlie Chan trailer. The rest of the program focused on his other roles. I personally liked A Passport to Hell.

Another highlight had its roots in CapitolFest 8. A partially reconstructed version of Paramount on Parade was on the 2010 CapitolFest schedule. The film had been edited for television, for length, for a variety of reasons, and in the process, elements were lost, including the original audio discs. Turns out projectionist Bob Hodge actually has one of the missing discs in his personal collection. For the whole story, check out Bill DeLapp's article. This year, CapitolFest 10 attendees were treated to the reconstructed segment,'Isador the Toreador', which might never have happened had it not been for CapitolFest 8.

Besides Oland, there were one or two other themes: car commercials (Studebaker and Oldsmobile) and golf (Warner Oland was in the first, but never spoke; Bing Crosby sang in Spanish in the second -- the only time he ever did this). I thought both pieces ran too long, but then, I loathe golf. Oh, and there were dogs: a short with Lightning (a serial) that was worth watching for Gary Cooper and the finale was a Rin-Tin-Tin movie that was good. Dr. Carli's accompaniment made it better.

Several of the comedies were fabulous.

CapitolFest 11 is scheduled for August 9-11, 2013. If you like old movies -- and I mean old movies -- you should check it out.