Normally I’m not a fan of reboots, as you may have seen from a previous blog I wrote entitled, ‘Take Two’. Things don’t always work out for the best when you try and reproduce the original format. Take New Coke for example, ugh syrup in a can. How about the Netflix/Quickster experiment? Can you say down over $40 points in one day of trading? Hmm, alright, what about Charlie’s Angels? I think this may go down as one of the biggest bust reproductions in television history … excuse me, next to Night Rider that is. I think it’s safe to say that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and if it’s dead, leave it buried.
The latest example in the field of entertainment came in the form of DC comics when they decided to give a reboot to the entire super hero community. I’m not just talking Superman here, but the entire DC nation: Aquaman, Batman, The Green Lantern, even the entire Justice League received a touch of new paint. Was it worth the effort? Most definitely. I personally have always preferred the Marvel comic heroes to DC comics, but after this latest round of re-writes, I may be changing my tune. Time to pick it up Disney.
Is Superman still a boy scout? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you want to mess with him. Is Batman still a bad ass? You bet he is, and even more intimidating than before. Is Aguaman still a dork? Heck, they make fun of him in his own comics. Is it fun to see the group re-assemble to create the Justice League? Why yes, yes it is. Considering how old each series is and the fact that I never fully enjoyed the story from the beginning it was refreshing to get a new perspective on how these characters came to be. Granted, everyone saw the movies and knows the back-story, but the comics are so much better.
The best example I can give to try and compare the old from the new would be to use Batman as an example. This is probably DC’s most acclaimed character (sorry Superman). They’ve released shows, movies, books, video games, and of course comics to express his story. The new Batman character portrayed in the latest version of his comic book is much like that of the character in the new Arkham Asylum video game (awesome, in case you were wondering). If you’re not too familiar with the game and would prefer an actor comparison, it would be like comparing Christian Bale to Adam West. Kick-ass to campy.
Frankly, I gave up on the Batman series long ago. The story line lost its appeal and I thought they were really reaching for ideas. I never really bought into the Batman in outer space thing, even though I know it’s a huge part of the DC universe story line. The new series starts off back in gritty Gotham City where Batman is facing off against his number one nemesis, the Joker. If you thought the Joker was all fun and games, you couldn’t be more wrong. This villain is out right vicious. For once, Batman truly has a adversary worthy of battling. He ‘s giving it all he has and is still coming up on the short end.
DC, I applaud your effort. You took a major risk by trying to reboot your entire collection, but unlike Coke, and Netflix, you pulled it off. For those of you who enjoy the superhero genre, but feel you’re too old, or mature to read comics, give it a try. Go back to the good old days. You remember them … don’t you? The days in where you would roll out of bed at eleven on a Sunady morning, crack open the comic section, and have a nice bowl of Captain Crucnh cereal. Well, just flash forward thirty some odd years later and simply relax. You won’t be disappointed.
I’m getting ready to go into the recording studio tonight to record the ninth song on our upcoming album/CD ‘Full of Bull’ hopefully to be released in early 2012. I personally believe there should be at least a minimum of twelve songs on any album, but studio time is expensive and we’ve been working on this album for well over a year now, so we might just end up with ten.
That stated, I think to myself, well this is the fourth CD that we would have released and even if we record only ten songs, that’s over forty songs that Koncrete Kite has now written and recorded. This brings me back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine who asked a very simple question – how do you write a song? Let me tell you friend, there are actually many ways one might create a song, but since song writing is a form of self-expression, much like painting is to an artist, or writing is to an author, there is no exact formula. The method I will explain is one I have used for many years and has proven to be successful.
Now, considering I am a guitarist, I always start with the hook. How do I come up with said hook? Well, I’ve come across a number of hooks through various forms. I’m either inspired by something that I’ve heard that I found could, or should be played differently, or I’m simply doodling around on the guitar and something just comes to me that I enjoy. I’ve once even come across an idea through a dream. Yes a dream. I dreamt that I was performing on stage as the opening act for Bruce Springsteen, and I played a song that I never heard. I liked the song so much that when I woke, I immediately picked up my guitar, figured out the melody, and recorded it on the tape recorder. I then went back to bed and finished sleeping.
The point here is that there is no specific thing that comes to you and gives you this hook, it’s either there, or it isn’t. Sometimes my brothers might say, hey we need a rocking song to open the album, or we need something commercial here, and I’ll try to focus my energy on a specific idea, but in general, hooks come to you when they do. I find it best not to try and force any ideas. Either you enjoy what you’re playing and record it to memory, or you’re just goofing around.
Okay, you say, I’ve got my hook, what now? Well first and foremost, make sure you’re hook is strong enough to carry the rest of the song. The hook is going to be your chorus, or the catchy part of your tune. Now you have to fill in the missing parts. This is where it helps to have other musician to bounce around some ideas. The simplistic way to write a song is to go: opening (hook), verse, chorus, verse, chorus, (possible solo) chorus and end. So simplistically speaking, you need three parts to each song. If you’re creative, or talented enough, throw in a solo. Nowadays most musicians tend to opt away from the solo. The days of Eddie Van Halen have faded, it’s now all about the melody.
Alright, I’ve come up with my verse, my chorus, and I’m going to be daring enough to throw in a solo. Now what? Well, did you happen to give any thought to the rhythm of this song? Has a drummer sat down with the song and worked out a beat? No? Well, I would highly recommend doing this. The right beat to a song is critical in the shaping of a song. How would ‘Rock-n-Roll‘ by Led Zeppelin be if not for the driving intro, or ‘In the Air Tonight‘, by Phil Collins without the impactful entrance of the drums? Go work that out and come back to me.
Whew, tougher than I thought. Ok, I’ve got my hook, created a solid rhythm and put the song in proper order. Am I done? Is a house done without the floors? Is a car complete without the engine? No, you’re not done. We need the melody. Get out your paper and pen, or computer, and start putting some lyrics to this bad boy. Here’s a hint, play off of your hook, and what ever you do, make it catchy. If you don’t enjoy singing it, no one else will.
From here it’s all down hill. Go into the studio and record all the basics to your song. Now comes the fun part, or what we in the band like to refer to as the pixie dust. Fill out the song, make it complete. While listening to the basic song, hum what ever catchy comes to mind and record it on top of what you’ve already put down on tape. Make sure you have a competent engineer to work with, mix your song, and your masterpiece is now ready to be released to the general public to be listened to and critiqued. Hopefully they like what you’ve done, but as long as you’re proud of what you accomplished take what others say with a grain of salt.
So there you have it, the blue print to creating a song from an artist who has written and recorded many. Is my formula the correct method to use? Well, for me it is, but for others, it may not work. Many musicians like to start with the lyrics and melody first, but this is simply a preference. With this in mind are you now ready to become a songwriter? Hey, as long as you have the desire, and some musical talent, of course you are. So what are you waiting for? Pick-up your instrument, or pick-up that pen and start creating.
Do you like riddles? Okay, here’s one for you. What do the following five television programs have in common? Star Trek, Hawaii Five-O, Knight Rider, Beverly Hills 90210, and Charlie’s Angel’s. I know what you’re thinking … oooh, I know this one. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Let’s see – they’re not all sci-fi related, scratch that off the list. They’re not all fantasy related. Hmm, this is getting difficult. It’s not about sexy fighting women is it? No. Could it be that they were all made in the seventies? No, that’s not it either. Alright, give up? Now don’t kick yourself, but the common theme among these five programs and many more not worth mentioning are that they’re all television show re-makes.
The question I have is why? Why did Hollywood feel the need to re-make these programs from the past? Was there an overwhelming desire to see the spoiled brats of Beverly Hills get some more toys? Maybe they missed watching a grown man talk to his car. Was Hawaii Five-O remade because the world missed Lost and some of the characters from that show refused to leave the island? Maybe, just maybe, Hollywood has simply run out of original ideas.
We’re now upon a new television season and as always a plethora of new programs are here and are trying to make their way into main stream society, but frankly I don’t care for any of them. Hey, Tim Allen’s back and he’s grunting like only a real man should, oh wait, we’ve already seen that one. Okay, well there’s the show about six friends who … come on, are you kidding me? Alright, how about the X American Idol Factor … puh-lease. Fine be that way. What about Terra Nova? Come on, you’ve got to give me Terra Nova. I could, but I won’t. The idea is great, but something was lost in translation from the idea to the actual show.
So I ask once again, why the lack of originality on television? Have all the good ideas been taken? Of course not, then what? I truly don’t have the answer. If today’s writer’s market had anything to do with it you would probably see a glut of new original ideas available. There are certainly more than enough unemployed talented writers dying for an opportunity to share their ideas. Unfortunately many of them will never get heard.
So what do we, as loyal viewers of television do? Boycott television? Let’s not go crazy here, it is just television. Alright, then what? Well, if we’re going to be forced to watch something we’re familiar with then why not make books and movies into television programs? Look at the huge success HBO had by taking a chance on Game of Thrones, or the True Blood series. Below is my top five list of book/movie themes that should be made into television programs.
1) Star Wars. Hey we’ve already had Star Trek and the re-boot to Star Trek, enough Star Trek. Give me Star Wars. They’ve written more than enough books on the subject matter, so you might as well turn those books into some top rate sci-fi programs. Let’s keep it prime time though, so no cartoons please and whatever you do, no Jar Jar Binks!
2) James Bond. Let’s face it, how many programs have tried to produce some sort of cool spy character and have failed? Why not go to the original, the master, the one and only 007 himself? The movies have been on a hiatus for some time, and there are a few books that haven’t been put into production just yet. It’s time to bring James to the small screen.
3) Indian Jones. People like action adventures, and everyone enjoyed the character. Why not bring a new younger version of Indian Jones to television? There’s a number of myths and legends you could tackle for years to come. This time, instead of the whip, I would change it up to something a little more modern like the Taser gun.
4) The Avengers. Okay, I know this might be a stretch, but with the excess of super hero movies hitting the big screen, why not bring back the classic super heroes to television? We don’t need another Cape, but Captain America would be cool. If you were to do it though, no cartoons and please don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re a bunch of grown men running around in spandex, have some fun with it.
5) Harry Potter. Let’s face it, Potter fans are going through withdrawal, they need their Hogwarts. It’s magic, its school, it’s seven years of programs at the minimum. If anything, give the idea to CW and make it a teeny-bopper show. Hey, if Smallville can go ten years, imagine what Potterville, the teenage years could do?
Halloween is back, well almost. I know this might seem a bit premature, but let’s face it – Halloween is right around the corner. It’s time to buy the costumes for the kids, decorate your home, and line-up those costume parties. Spooky season is back.
I had an interesting weekend as I went to Universal Studio’s, Halloween Horror Nights, in Orlando, Florida. I have to admit, this was the first time I’ve been back in well over ten years. During that time they did make a significant amount of changes (all for the better). I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to return, but I suppose living in Tampa and having Busch Gardens, Howl-O-Scream in my back yard, it’s just easier to stay at home. If you do end up going to Orlando, I would highly recommend doing these two things. One, stay at one of the hotels located on the premises. Two, (and I can’t emphasize this enough) get the express pass.
The event doesn’t open until 6:30, so if you do decide to stay in Universal, you’ll have three hotels located directly on the premises to chose from – no choice is bad. The Hard Rock Hotel is the hotel located closest to the event – only 5 minutes walking distance. Another choice for families would be either The Royal Pacific, located near the Islands of Adventures, or my personal favorite, The Portofino. Granted the Portofino Bay is the furthest hotel from the actual parks, but I think they provide the best service and I really like the atmosphere. You don’t feel like you’re at a theme park.
Where to begin. Well, the first thing you should do is get some food. They serve a lot of alcohol at this event, so you might want to coat the stomach. You’re going to be in for a long night. We grabbed a meal at Pat O’Brien’s, located on the City Walk, and of course we had to have some of their world famous Hurricanes. I’m not exactly sure what’s in the drink, but I would highly recommend it. Not that I personally needed some, but let’s just say some of whom I was with wanted to get some liquid courage into their system before they entered the park.
You arrive at the park and are immediately immersed into their world of horror. What I really enjoy is that they don’t just make the haunted attractions the only event to experience; they really go all out. The have numerous characters ranging from Hell Raisers, Chainsaw murderers, and zombies walking throughout the park trying to scare the bejesus out of you. The lights are dim and the smoke effect is on full blast. The scary music and sound effects are turned up high, and of course they have the haunted attractions located throughout the entire park. This year, if I’m correct, I believe there were a total of eight houses you could walk through.
Before we had an opportunity to walk through the attractions and start our experience the women in the group had other plans. They were immediately drawn to the psychics that were located on the premises ($25 a reading). Being in a good mood, I encouraged them to go get a reading. Half an hour later … they were pleased with their readings and we continued on our adventure. We decided to go on a ride before we did the tour of houses, so we went on The Mummy. This is one of the better attractions at the park and is worth doing. Plus it was still a little light outside and there was zero wait to go on the ride.
Okay, psychics done, scary ride out of the way, and stomachs lined with nachos and rum. Ah, it’s finally dark outside, let’s go into some houses. This is where part two of my recommendations comes in very handy. Did you ever hear the saying – time is money? This couldn’t have been truer in this instance. Now as I mentioned, they have a total of eight attractions you could enter this season. I only made it into five, but I could have made all eight if I really wanted to. Truth be told, I got tired. Maybe it was the alcohol. Who am I kidding, it was definitely the alcohol. The point I’m trying to make here is that if I didn’t get the express pass, I only would have made it into three attractions at most. The line to get into each house had to have been over an hour wait. Express pass, no more than ten minutes.
My favorite attraction was The Thing. I’m a big fan of snow, which is why I live in Florida. You feel as though you were thrust into the middle of an artic expedition gone bad. Snow blew throughout the attraction with destruction, chaos, and psychos all around. The next, which was very creative, was The In- Between, a 3D experience. At one point you walk through a narrow hall on a bridge where the walls are spinning. Did I mention that I had a few drinks? It wasn’t a great feeling, but the effects were very cool.
The only complaint I had, if any were to be made, was that there were so many people waiting to enter these attractions you felt like cattle being led into the slaughter house. Get out the prods and push us through. You could see the entertainers jump out from the corners as you approached, so you knew exactly where everyone was hiding. This takes away from the fear factor, just a little. It got so common that I pointed to a few of them to let them know to not bother. At one point a girl of roughly four feet tried to jump out and scare me. I felt so bad for her that I yelled. I wanted to make her feel as if she did her job. Most others I pointed out just lowered their heads and crawled back into their corners.
We ended the night with a quick wait to get on the Simpson ride with some – wait for it – teenagers. Ahh! This was probably the scariest part of the night. If you’ve never been, it’s the best ride at Universal. I would highly recommend trying, unless you’re with said teenagers. All in all, it was an entertaining experience. Next time around I’m going to have to bring the kids. This time though was for me and it was worth the wait.