Friday, November 28, 2008
Today is Randy Newman's 65th birthday. Randy is an amazing singer-songwriter and has been for four decades. I did learn that he was once part of the group Harper's Bizarre who of course gave us all that great 1967 hit "Feeling Groovy". My favorite Newman song of all time is "You've Got A Friend In Me" that amazing little song from Disney's "Toy Story". You just don't get too much better than that song. Of course my second favorite of his authorship is the Academy Award winning song "If I Didn't Have You" from the Disney-Pixar hit "Monsters Inc". Randy's work as a film composer began in 1971, with his work on the Norman Lear satire Cold Turkey. He returned to film work with 1981's Ragtime, for which he was nominated for two Academy Awards. Something that I didn't know before was that Randy co-wrote the 1986 film ¡Three Amigos! with Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels. Not only that-- Randy wrote three songs for the film, and provided the voice for the hilarious singing bush. He also scored the first four Disney/Pixar feature films; Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, In. He also scored the 1996 film James and the Giant Peach and the 2006 Disney/Pixar film Cars. Some of his additional film scores include Avalon, Parenthood, Seabiscuit, Awakenings, The Paper, Overboard, Meet the Parents and its sequel, Meet the Fockers. His score for Pleasantville was an Academy Award nominee. He also wrote the songs for Turner's Cats Don't Dance. One of Newman's most iconic and recognizable works is the central theme to The Natural, a dramatic and Oscar-nominated score, which was described by at least one complimentary critic as "Coplandesque."Newman had the dubious distinction of receiving the most Oscar nominations (fifteen) without a single win. His streak was broken when he received the Oscar for "If I Didn't Have You", beating the likes of Enya and Paul McCartney. After receiving an enthusiastic standing ovation, a bemused but emotional Newman began his acceptance speech with "I don't want your pity!"Besides writing songs for films, he also writes songs for television series such as the Emmy-Award winning current theme song of Monk, "It's a Jungle out There".In October 2006 it was revealed that Randy Newman will be writing the music for an upcoming Walt Disney movie called The Princess and the Frog, which is scheduled for release in 2009. During the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting in March 2007, Randy Newman performed a new song written for the movie. He was accompanied by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home cooking for my writing partner John Nugent and my longtime companion John Long. I am very thankful to the many people who give to John Nugent and I their many talents without compensation. The first and foremost is Tim Doran. He's such an amazing person. There isn't very much that I wouldn't do for him. And of course there is Bill Lewis who has been right there for me always for twenty years and great singers like Brian Martin and Paul Horvanes and Karmyn Tyler. They give so very much all of the time. I spent a good portion of the day just calling these people and thanking them for always saying "yes" when I needed them. The only person I missed was dear Tony Westbrook in New York. I was so damn busy with that turkey (I hadn't cooked one in ages of yesterday) that I missed sending him his personal accolade. He is an amazing singer and a tremendous friend. I hope that everyone had a great holiday. And thank you all who have entered my life and given so much. It is also the first Thanksgiving weekend that I have not been in photographic retail in twelve years. It was very strange, but I will let God lead the way as to what comes necxt for me.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
But the cartoon was not the first to feature a soundtrack connected to the action. Fleischer Studios, headed by brothers Dave and Max Fleischer, had already released a number of sound cartoons using the DeForest system in the mid-1920s. However, these cartoons did not keep the sound synchronized throughout the film. For Willie, Disney had the sound recorded with a click track (that same great device that we use in the recording studio, today) that kept the musicians on the beat. This precise timing is apparent during the "Turkey in the Straw" sequence, when Mickey's actions exactly match the accompanying instruments. Animation historians have long debated who had served as the composer for the film's original music. This role has been variously attributed to Wilfred Jackson, Carl Stalling and Bert Lewis, but identification remains uncertain. Walt Disney himself was voice actor for both Mickey and Minnie.The script had Mickey serving aboard Steamboat Willie under Captain Pete. At first he is seen piloting the steamboat while whistling. Then Pete arrives to take over piloting and angrily throws him out of the boat's bridge. They soon have to stop for cargo to be transferred on board. Almost as soon as they leave, Minnie arrives. She was apparently supposed to be their only passenger but was late to board. Mickey manages to pick her up from the river shore. Minnie accidentally drops her sheet music for the popular folk song "Turkey in the Straw". A goat which was among the animals transported on the steamboat proceeds to eat the sheet music. Consequently Mickey and Minnie use its tail to turn it into a phonograph which is playing the tune. Through the rest of the short, Mickey uses various other animals as musical instruments. Captain Pete is eventually disturbed by all this noise and places Mickey back to work. Mickey is reduced to peeling potatoes for the rest of the trip. A parrot attempts to make fun of him but is then thrown to the river by Mickey. This served as the final scene of this short.Audiences at the time of Steamboat Willie's release were reportedly very impressed by the use of sound for comedic purposes. Sound films were still considered innovative. The first feature-length movie with dialogue sequences, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, was released on October 6, 1927. Within a year of its success, most United States movie theaters had installed sound film equipment. Walt Disney apparently intended to take advantage of this new trend and, arguably, managed to succeed. Most other cartoon studios were still producing silent products and so were unable to effectively act as competition to Disney. As a result Mickey would soon become the most prominent animated character of the time. Walt Disney soon worked on adding sound to both Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho (which had originally been silent releases) and their new release added to Mickey's success and popularity. A fourth Mickey short, The Barn Dance, was also put into production; however, Mickey does not actually speak until The Karnival Kid in 1929 when his first spoken words were "Hot dogs, Hot dogs!" After Steamboat Willie was released, Mickey became a close competitor to Felix the Cat, and his popularity would grow as he was continuously featured in sound cartoons. By 1929, Felix would lose popularity among theater audiences, and Pat Sullivan decided to produce all future Felix cartoons in sound as a result. Unfortunately, audiences did not respond well to Felix's transition to sound and by 1930, Felix had faded from the screen. But Today is also the birthday of one of the greatest lyricists of all time: the late great Johnny Mercer who died in 1976 -- three whole years before I ever really wrote my own song, myself. It also was on this date in
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
On this historic date way back in the year 1960, John Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States of America. It was such a close election, not like the mandate we have all witnessed recently. It has been ascertained that John Kennedy was certainly the right man for the times. The October Cuban Missile Crisis that took place in 1962 would have come to a ghastly conclusion if "Tricky Dick had been at the switch". I firmly believe that God does indeed bless America and that our future is in His hands. We are paying for our folly of the last eight years and now we need a giant fix quick. I think Obama will not disappoint us. Gloom and dooming is not the answer here. If you are disappointed, ask yourself: were you knocking on doors for the opposition , were you manning the telephones--even at a late date? Did you have a campaign sign on your lawn? Did you donate even a little money? As John Kennedy once said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country. He also said "If you're not part of the solution, you're hiding behind the problem." Today several landslides happenedv in US History. Ronald Reagan became the Governor of California in 1966. FDR soundly defeated poor Herbert Hoover in 1932. George Bush Sr. blasted Michael Dukakas in 1988-- just twenty years ago. The people speak loudly always. As our dear Saviour said "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged." That commandment is loud and clear. I would not want the cookie cutter of my instant value judgements or opinions to be applied against me-- which will happen at the final judgement. Interestingly, a famous Texas football star is today out of a job because he put negative comments on Face Book about the new president. And today, I was told that two former associates of mine from Ritz Camera have now faced the same penalty. When they objected, the company said "Our customers read the Internet including Face Book and My Space. Your views have tainted our business image when it needs to be bolstered the most." Then came strike two: their unemployment benefits are being challenged. I took out my old Ritz Summary of Procedures and sure enough there was a whole section against portraying yourself or your views in a negative fashion in a public forum. I haven't been with Ritz since July and I still get former customers who stop me and ask how I am. Funny thing is: I don't recognize half of THEM until they give me clues. If you signed that agreement like I did: the company is one hundred percent justified. History will always give us the answers we need. As Benjamin Franklin said "We must doubt our own certainty, just a little bit more." We can only "Have It Our Way" at Burger King.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I'm the kid that's all the candy,
I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
I'm glad I am,
So's Uncle Sam.
I'm a real live Yankee Doodle,
Made my name and fame and boodle,
Just like Mister Doodle did, by riding on a pony.
I love to listen to the Dixie strain,
I long to see the girl I left behind me;
That ain't a josh, She's a Yankee, by gosh.
Oh, say can you see,
Anything about a Yankee that's a phony?
Father's name was Hezikiah,
Mother's name was Ann Maria,
Yanks through and through.
Red, White and Blue
Father was so Yankee-hearted,
When the Spanish War was started,
He slipped on a uniform and hopped upon a pony.
My mother's mother was a Yankee true,
My father's father was a Yankee too:
That's going some,
For the Yankees, by gum.
Oh, say can you see
Anything about my pedigree that's phony?
I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
A Yankee Doodle, do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam's,
Born on the Fourth of July
I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart,
She's my Yankee Doodle joy.
Yankee Doodle came to London, just to ride the ponies;
I am the Yankee Doodle Boy.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
"too big". In a country that celebrates free speech. He was in jail for over a year. As I stated in an earlier blog, there is still in force today one of 1790's Alien and Sedition Laws on the books. Read about Alexander Hamilton one of the greatest Treasury Secretary's in American History. You just might be surprised at what you read. The argument against Socialism? What do you think the New Deal was? How about Social Security-- something that we will all depend on to live-- guess what that is? God Bless the new president-- I say "Yes, we can, too!