Archive for July, 2011

So Long, Harry – J. A. Bove

I’ve been meaning to get to this review for some time, but as you know, life gets in the way … people to see, places to go, things to do. I did happen to catch the last installment of the Harry Potter series entitled ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part2’ when it opened and below are some thoughts. Be aware if you didn’t see the movie, this review will reveal some spoilers, but then again, if you didn’t see the movie by now, odds are you’re not going to see the movie. Too bad, it was a good one.

First off, I must admit that I have read all the Potter books and have seen all the Potter movies. Personally, if you had to choose one option, I would choose reading the books versus going to the theater for two reasons: you’ll save a ton of money, and the books simply tell a much better story. Frankly I don’t think there’s any comparison, but since my children aren’t big readers (gasp) we go to see all the movies as well.

Over the years the movies have gotten more mature. You’ve seen Harry and friends grow in more ways than one and the stories itself have drifted away from telling a children’s tale to becoming much more adult friendly. Needless to say, I’ve lost a couple of fans (my two youngest daughters) during the course of the last three films. Don’t despair Potter fans, I haven’t given up on the series, frankly, I thought the last three films were the best in the group, but I digress.

Back to part two of the Deathly Hallows. Okay, by now I’m assuming that you saw Part 1, you know the feel good movie of last summer. We pick-up the story where the group had just buried their good buddy Dobby and they begin to question a goblin about breaking into Gringotts, the wizarding bank run by goblins and home to one hell of a dragon – and act.

What did we see? Well, from this person’s point of view, non-stop action throughout the movie. Frankly I think the group of three did some of their best acting to date in this last installment. The effects used to create the dragons, the fight scenes, Hogwarts, etc. as always were quite amazing. The sound was incredible. When I listened to the dementor’s screams reverberate throughout the castle it was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck rise (so glad I didn’t bring my girls). Of course, Voldemort couldn’t have been more evil. The overtone throughout the movie was very ominous. Now, considering that I read the book, I knew a lot of the ‘good guy’ characters were killed off, but let’s face it, there’s got to be some casualties if you’re having an end all battle at Hogwarts with nothing less than Harry Potter as the prize.

The only part of the movie that I didn’t care for, which I know I’ll get grief for mentioning, is when Voldemort kills Potter. I remember not liking this in the book either, but here I thought it was even more confusing. Did he actually die or not? You clearly see Harry drop the resurrection stone right before Voldemort hits him with his Avada Kedavra spell. He awakens and is in a sparkling white King’s Cross Station with what appears to be a baby Voldemort writhing in pain on the ground.  He has a conversation with Dumbledore (which by the way comes across as a callous ass in this film) and before long is back in the forbidden forest. You clearly see him gasp, yet he’s inspected and paraded around as a dead man. The more I think about it, the more I’m scratching my head.

Other then that I thought the movie was well done and definitely worth seeing. There was a great sense of closure for Potter fans worldwide. Nice touch at the end to show the gang all grown up and married with their young ones now going to Hogwarts. Was is me, or did the women age better than the men. Ron put on some weight.

All and all it’s been a wonderful run elapsing ten years and lucrative series, grossing over six billion dollars. What will Potter fans do now? Where will Warner Brothers turn to find its next cash cow? No worries fantasy fans. There’s plenty of other wonderful tales available out there to be told. If you are in the market for a new series, might I suggest a world full of mermaids in the city of Atlantis? Just saying is all, just saying.

Hello – Goodbye: J. A. Bove

Mr. McCartney, I salute you. Sixty-nine years old and still rocking! I wrote a blog about my group Koncrete Kite last week in where I was proud of the fact that we, as a band, have been performing for over thirty years. Well, that’s a drop in the bucket when you compare it to all the performance this particular Beatle has done for over the past fifty-one years. Fifty-one years … that’s simply unheard of this day and age. If not already, I would imagine that it must be close to a Guinness World Record for performances by a musician over that timeframe. I do not know of any other musician, with the exception of possibly Ringo, who has performed on stage as long as Paul McCartney.

Last Friday night I had the privilege of watching Paul perform his On the Run tour live in New York City. And in typical Beatle fashion, he didn’t perform at just any venue. No, he performed in a venue fit for a Beatle – Yankee Stadium. I still recall a scalper outside of the stadium yelling at a woman who was trying to low ball him on the price of a ticket. I believe he said, “You can’t see no Pau McCartney at no Yankee Stadium for forty dollars?!?”. Suffice to say, he didn’t sell her a ticket. That was her mistake. She should have doubled her offer. Paul put on a show of a lifetime.

My wife and I flew up from Tampa earlier that afternoon and after a three-hour flight, one-hour cab ride, and forty minute subway ride (D train baby) , we arrived at the door step of Yankee Stadium just minutes before the show began. We had just enough time to grab a shirt, some beers, and find our seats. This was my first trip into the new Yankee Stadium, and I have to admit, I was impressed. What a beautiful ballpark. I’m going to have to go back some time to actually watch a game. We had a seat behind home plate (Paul performed in the outfield), kicked back in our cushioned chairs, and put our feet up on the bannister in front of us. We were ready to rock.

He opened with Hello- Goodbye a classic from the Magical Mystery Tour album and continued to play hit after hit after hit from The Beatles, to The Wings, to his current songs released over the past decade. One of my favorites was when he performed The Night Before off of the Help album as he said, “This is the first time we’ve ever performed this song live.” If you closed your eyes, you would have sworn John and George were harmonizing right along with him. He then continued to entertain the masses with hits like Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Something, A Day in the Life, and a slew of other classics. I truly felt like I was at a Beatle concert.

Not only was the music spot on, his voice held up just fine thank you, but his demeanor was wonderful. He truly appreciated his audience. He took the time to speak with us between songs, he acknowledged some cards being held up (one particular one said – Hey Paul, I’m Jude), and he told some great stories. My wife was particularly pleased when he shared the back-story to why he wrote Blackbird, which he also performed flawlessly. Finally he shared a little joke. Considering we were at Yankee Stadium, he came out and said, “Who is this Derek Jeter guy? I hear he has more hits than I do.” His response from the audience was in typical Yankee Stadium fashion with a hearty salute of Paul Mc-Cart-ney stomp –stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp.

Of course he played the classics like Let it Be, and Hey Jude. At one point asking the men and women to sing along separately to the na-na-na parts. Personally I think the men had better voices (the women sounded like children), but my wife disagrees. During the encore he busted out tunes like Lady Madonna, Day Tripper, and Get Back finally ending with The End during the second encore. My only regret is that I didn’t bring the kids, they would have loved this show. So again, I salute you Paul McCartney. I only hope I get one more opportunity to see him perform before he finally decides to hang it all up, but considering his condition, energy, and showmanship, I think I’ll get that chance.

Who Are Koncrete Kite? – J. A. Bove

Many of you have seen me write in the past about my participation in a group called Koncrete Kite and many have asked … whom, or what is Koncrete Kite? This is my brief overview of my band and our history.

Who are Koncrete Kite? First and foremost, we are brothers. This is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing of course is that we’ve grown together as brothers and musicians over a thirty-year period of writing, recording, and performing together. I don’t think a band consisting of friends, or acquaintances could have lasted as long as we have unless they were placed under contract by a label, or paid professionally to do what we have done. We’ve released three CD’s, and are about to release the fourth. We have written hundreds of songs and every year, the material gets more elaborate and creative. This is all attributed to growing and staying together. That in itself is a blessing.

The curse of course is that we are brothers. The amount of fighting that comes up when we write, record, and perform tends to rip the band apart. This has happened over every CD we’ve ever recorded (with the exception of the first) and will continue to happen because, let’s face it, music is a very personal expression and there are many different interpretations of how a song should sound and be created. The beauty is that because we are brothers, we eventually make-up and start to play nice once again. This leads to more writing and recording and to the eventual break-up after another album.

We are aspiring musicians. Collectively as a band we can play the guitar, bass, drums, piano, trumpet, saxophone, and of course use a wide variety of vocals. The members are, in no particular order: Rich – drums and vocals. Chris  – bass, guitars, and vocals, Greg – guitars, and of course myself, guitars, bass, and lead vocals. We are no stranger to the recording studio and have been recording music since our childhood. If memory serves, our first song was recorded in a small studio in Sayreville, NJ back in 1983. Our fourth CD is now being recorded at Red Room studios in Tampa.

We are performers. We have performed live music for over thirty years. Our first show was at a battle of the bands and our last performance was at a palooza party a few months back. We have performed across the country from small venues to well known establishments. We have performed in front of family, friends, and AR executives. We’ve done the club circuit. We’ve played through a monsoon. We’ve played everywhere from isolated islands to radio stations (both live and recorded). We will continue to perform and entertain family and friends until we can’t play any longer.

Finally, we are rock and roll. If you were looking for the ingredients that make-up the inspiration of our music, look at the classics. Take a cup of The Beatles, a dash of Nirvana, a pinch of Kiss, and a splash of Pearl Jam. Marinate that with a mixture of Queen and Van Halen, and blend it all together with some Led Zeppelin. Pour that in a pan and place it in the oven. This last step is important, make sure you let it bake for about thirty years. The result of this delicious combination is who we are and the meal is called Koncrete Kite.

So, there you have it. Koncrete Kite is a rock band consisting of brothers. I guess I could have said that from the beginning, but as you might have surmised by looking at my career track record, I tend to drag things out. If anyone reading this is interested in sampling some music, or obtaining a CD, please let me know. I’m always happy to oblige with a slice of banana bread.

The Creation of Worlds – J. A. Bove

In the beginning …

Where would we, true believers of fantasy and sci-fi, be without the worlds we live in? Whether you’re talking about life on Middle Earth, Pandora, or Tatooine, each one of these wonderfully created planets help to take us away from the mundane and into the spectacular. Who among us didn’t imagine sharing a pint with the hobbits at The Prancing Pony, or joining Luke and Han in the Mos Eisley Cantina? I know I certainly have. The only difference was that when I was there, I was the dashing hero, getting drinks on the house, and turning down advances from all the ladies, err hobbits, and space aliens, but I digress. The point being, without the creation of these truly imaginative worlds, there would be no fantasy.

Imagine Harry Potter, not going to Hogswart, but to Harvard. Instead of taking a train departing from platform 9 ¾, he’d pull up to school in an old Volkswagen Beetle. Or imagine how you would feel if I told you that Batman didn’t drive the bat mobile and he didn’t have a secret bat cave. No, instead he drove a Hummer (he still is Batman after all) and his secret lair was a warehouse somewhere in Newark, New Jersey. Does this work for you? If so, you’re reading the wrong type of novels. It certainly doesn’t work for me. When I look to escape, I don’t want to see something that I can find right outside my window. I want to be taken to a world of mystery and explore the unknown.

One of the things that inspired me to write my novel, Mayhem’s Fountain, was being able to create a world of my own. Now granted, I kept my world on good old mother earth, but I placed my world undersea. Inspired by the master originator, Plato, I decided to tackle the mythical city of Atlantis itself. In creating my world, I wasn’t interested in trying to create some lost ancient civilization that perished ‘in a single day and night of misfortune’. No, I wanted to create a living, thriving civilization filled with mermaids and mermen that not only existed, but also dominated the seven seas. I devoted myself into taking you into the lives of the Atlanteans as they live and breathe, (yes, they breathe). I did my best to bring you into their world, to show you how it would feel to cross an Atlantean.

Who am I to take such liberties? Why, I’m just like you … a fan of the genre with a wild imagination. As a matter of fact, most of my stories originate from my dreams, and boy do I have some wild dreams. No, I’m not trying to imitate the great J. R.R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, or even J. K. Rowling, although I do admire them all greatly. I’ll be the first to admit that I was truly inspired by their work. That stated, I’m just another fan of the written word trying to do his best at capturing an audience that has an interest in the lost city. A tale, in my opinion that has been long overdue of a remake for quite some time.

Thrones is King – J. A. Bove

Now, I’m not one to say I told you so, am I? No, I don’t think I am, but when I first heard that HBO was going to bring the Starks and Lannisters to television in their new series entitled ‘Game of Thrones’ based off the George R. R. MartinA Song of Ice and Fire’ saga, I told everyone I knew to watch it. Now, most people who know me know that I’m sort of a fantasy geek. I received a few half hearted, yeah sure, or I guess there’s nothing else to watch right now, so – eh I’ll give it a try. To all of you who gave this show a chance I say, you’re welcome. This is by far one of the best new shows to hit television since LOST.

HBO, in my opinion, does an incredible job in creating their series from True Blood, to The Sopranos, from Rome, to Thrones; they certainly don’t skimp on the production of these programs. You know the acting will always be incredible, the scenery will be spot on, and the scores are always fantastic. What I liked most about this particular series though, was that unlike many other novels turned to television, they kept true to the story. Bravo HBO, bravo Mr. Martin.

I’m sure it was a difficult decision in casting and keeping Sean Bean as Ned Stark. He was the most recognized name in the program, but as many of Ned’s fans knew, he wouldn’t see the end of season one. True to form, he didn’t. I was both saddened and pleased by this. Saddened to lose such a talent on the show in only season one but pleased to know that they would keep the story line of the novels in tact. From the first moment I saw Mr. Bean cast as Ned Stark, I thought he was a perfect fit for the role. Who better to bring some legitimacy to this new fantasy series than a ringer from the Lord of the Rings? Alas, as in Rings to Thrones, he was an impactful character that unfortunately, due to the story line, had made too early an exit on both projects.

This was why I first fell in love with this series – it was completely unpredictable. Who else would kill off the main protagonist in the first novel, or in this case, season one. That’s unheard of, that’s Thrones. I continue to believe that after the master J. R. R. Tolkien himself, Mr. Martin is by far the best fantasy writer of this generation. The newest book in the series is to be released July 12th entitled ‘A Dance with Dragons’ and to anyone who enjoyed this series, I recommend getting the book. My only caveat, don’t read it until you’re all caught up. You have to read three others in this series before you should read Dragons. After Thrones came ‘A Clash of Kings’, then ‘A Storm of Swords’ (my personal favorite) and finally ‘A Feast for Crows’.

The bad news for those of you wanting to catch up quickly is that each book is roughly a thousand pages, but considering the next season isn’t for another ten months, you’ll have a lot of time to catch up. The good news is that with the support of all my fantasy brethren, there’s four more seasons to go. Awesome! So if you haven’t yet seen the series and are one of those people who like to wait for DVD, don’t wait, watch it now on demand. The program will amaze, stun, and possibly even arouse you, but most importantly, it will entertain you, and isn’t that the point?