Monthly Archives: May 2008

Going on a Summer Schedule

I will be posting less as the summer begins for two reasons–my son is out of school and I want to spend more time with him and less of my free time behind a computer. I’m getting married in a few months, and I need a smidge more spare time. Normal (a relative term) will resume in the fall. It is my hope to still have new interviews every OTHER Monday, rather than every Monday this summer.

NBC, Hulu and Letterman: How Long Before…

So I swung by Hulu.com the other evening and on a lark, I did a search for Letterman to see if they had anything. Much to my surprise they had a documentary (my term, not theirs, and I use this term quite loosely) called Early Dave: The Letterman Tapes (1978-1993). It’s a mixture of Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Tom Snyder and other NBC interviews with Dave, not really a documentary.

They are tightly edited, sometimes annoying so. For example, one Snyder interview they do has Dave along with Merrill Markoe and other folks–whom you never see. Letterman refers to Markoe at one point in the interview, that’s the only way I know, because they edit her bits completely out. Markoe, I dare say, is as funny as Letterman at times and I’m annoyed she was edited out of the piece.

It’s vintage Dave, shown driving his old pick-up truck to his gigs to substitute for Carson. Dave doing a stand-up routine. A tour of his new home, where you can see his beloved dog, Bob, is another interesting bit. A 1970s era Johnny Carson associate Fred de Cordova (with baseball cap no less)  talking to Letterman before a taping of the Tonight Show. Later we see a clip of Letterman talking to Mariette Hartley about his morning show for NBC (I forgot he got a whole 90 minutes with that show…) and an upcoming feature on the show called Stupid Pet Tricks (still in its infancy, I believe). It’s a fun romp leading up to Brokaw’s interview with Letterman on the night of his last NBC show.

I was surprised to find this on Hulu, given that as a Universal property in some ways it is very much an NBC product. And more importantly, while I know Carson had the rights to his Tonight Show (meaning unless the estate/company makes a deal, it will not be showing up on Hulu), was this an effort by NBC to test the waters and ultimately start offering Letterman’s old NBC shows on Hulu?

Part of me would love to see that, but I’m sure it would irk Dave to no end. Maybe I’m wrong on both counts. We’ll have to wait and see. Either way, be sure to check out the documentary for vintage and I do mean vintage Letterman. I would love to know what producer thought it a good idea to have Today show host Jane Pauley interview Letterman while the both sat on an inactive merry go-round…

Robert Schnakenberg on Secret Lives of Great Authors

Last month, after reading Whitney (Pop Candy) Matheson’s review of Robert Schnakenberg‘s new book, Secret Lives of Great Authors, I tracked down the author to interview him. In addition to discussing the new book, Schnakenberg took questions about the upcoming release of his revised Encyclopedia Shatnerica (about all things William Shatner, set for an August 2008 release) as well as a new Christopher Walken A-to-Z book (set for October 2008 release). But the bulk of this interview covered the book that answers such questions as “Is it true that J. D. Salinger drank his own urine? Why was Ayn Rand such a big fan of Charlie’s Angels?” My thanks to Schnakenberg for his time.

Tim O’Shea: How often in trying to research facts for Secret Lives did you find out the anecdote was not true?

Robert Schnakenberg: That happened occasionally. Sometimes I’d find a really good anecdote about someone, and then another source would say that it happened to someone else entirely. You know, one book says it happened to Ernest Hemingway, another says it happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald. That happens with quotes a lot. They are always attributed to two or three different people. So you throw those out, or you find the one source that you trust and you go with that. I can’t promise that every anecdote in my book is 100% true—I mean, I wasn’t in the men’s room with Hemingway and Fitzgerald when they compared schlongs—but I can say everything is reliably sourced. Double and triple sourced, in fact, as much as possible.

Continue reading Robert Schnakenberg on Secret Lives of Great Authors

My Hope for A Return to Old Scrubs

I love the show Scrubs. Let me clarify that a smidge–over the years, the series star, Zach Braff, has gotten on my nerves to an increasing degree.

For me the show is very much an ensemble cast. TV critic pundits much smarter than me have aptly explained why and how  NBC decided to squander the last season of the show. I had lost interest in watching the show in the past few years–as J.D.’s subplots (He is the star I understand, but still…) seemed to drag the show down to a great degree.

So, I was really pleased to see this TV Guide/Michael Ausiello interview with the series creator, Bill Lawrence (after being directed there by Pop Candy/Whitney Matheson’s blog). In the interview, Lawrence notes
some of the strongest episodes in the second and third year had character comedy.” 

Here’s hoping that the show can return to form once it relaunches at ABC next year.

What will newspapers be like in a few years?

I have no crystal ball to predict the fate of newspapers.

But they won’t be the same without Tony Kornheiser. He took the buyout offer from the Washington Post. Sure, he had not written for the paper to any great extent in years. But still, it’s a shame. And as noted by Reuters, Tony is bailing in good company, given that “U.S. political columnist David Broder” has also taken the buyout.

Oh well, at least we’ll still be able to enjoy Tony on the radio and on TV.

Mike Allred on Madman Atomic Comics

Mike Allred is an artist with a narrative approach quite unlike most comic book storytellers. Last week saw the release of Madman Atomic Comics 8, which we discuss in this email interview (and is being touted as a “fantastic jumping-on point for new readers”), as well as discussing other Madman matters. Just to give you a heads up (and not to sugarcoat things), I misidentify a Paul Pope cover as being an Allred piece in this interview. Just to show what a nice fellow that Allred is, I left my mistake and his kind correction in the interview. My thanks to Allred for the interview and Image’s Joe Keatinge for facilitating it.

Tim O’Shea: Other than not having to handle a great deal of the business minutiae of self-publishing, what have been some of the best benefits of shifting from self-publishing to Image Comics?

Mike Allred: Simple. A well oiled machine. Top notch crew. Ace printing and marketing costs. Smooth.

Continue reading Mike Allred on Madman Atomic Comics

Helping Feed My Guilty Pleasures: Live From L.A.

How many of you are like me–and find yourself watching bad TV that you sit there, thinking the whole time: “There’s something better that I could be doing with my time.” When I watch these kinds of show, I chalk it up to being a guilty pleasure of mine.

So, when I discovered that Dave Campbell (formerly the guy behind Dave’s Long Box [a great blog about comics]) was writing for ABC.com via Live from L.A.–and in particular about Wife Swap–I was happy. Why? Well Dave has a unique pop culture view of the world like myself. So to have a blog where I can read about one of my current TV guilty pleasures, Wife Swap, well it’s a good thing.

Campbell is a witty writer with some good observations (about several ABC shows, not just Wife Swap). Be sure to check Campbell’s Live from L.A., you won’t be sorry.

Good Lyrics Stick with Me

I still remember buying the vinyl release of The Rainmakers back in the mid-1980s.

So find find out they had a website gave me hope that the band was still together. Sadly they split up in the late 1990s, but they still maintain a website, which includes lyrics, videos and audio clips.

My favorite song of theirs is Let My People Go-Go, which features the following great lyrics:

Jesus went out for a walk with his mother
The scribes and the pharisees plotting hugger-mugger
They locked him up and they threw away the key
He said why’s everybody always picking on me?

I did not put you here to suffer
I did not put you here to whine
I put you here to love one another
And to get out and have a good time

Let my people go-go-go
Let my people go-go-go
Let my people go-go-go
Let my people go

Those lyrics take me back to a fun time earlier in my life.

Shelby Miller on Shifted Sound

I crave myriad means to learn about new music–and I’m truly partial to independent quirky music. So when Coverville’s Brian Ibbott tipped me off to Shelby Miller’s Shifted Sound podcast, I was ecstatic. So happy, in fact, I got Miller to agree to an email interview. Miller is a middle-aged father of three who loves music. A little over two years ago, he began discovering how much fantastic music was available on the Internet from independent bands he hadn’t heard a million times on the radio. So, as a way to share the music he found as well as figure out what podcasting was all about, he started the Shifted Sound podcast. Shifted Sound is a free weekly podcast showcasing great independent music from around the world. Music the masses should be embracing. And, even if they don’t, his kids love the show. Or at least that’s what Miller told me. Now on to the interview.

Tim O’Shea: In the About section of the blog, you note the show “is an experiment which will change and grow as needed.” How has the show changed and grown since it first launched?

Shelby Miller: The Shifted Sound podcast began as a way to share new music with people who might not hear it otherwise. Before I started the show, as I searched the internet for more music to listen to personally, I discovered more and more independent bands who were producing great songs and I was constantly telling my friends and coworkers about them. I eventually decided to try it on a broader scope with a podcast. So, in that respect, Shifted Sound has remained the same. I still feel like I’m sharing some great music with friends. What has evolved a bit is how I approach the show. When I began, I always plays two songs each from five different bands. And, of course, they were probably bands I hadn’t played before. Now I’m a bit more lenient with myself as far as how many bands I play, and I’ve started playing a couple of songs per show that I have played before as a bit of a reminder for listeners. One of the issues I’ve had over the more than two years of producing Shifted Sound is that I am often moving on too quickly. I have to spend so much time looking for new music that I can’t really get to know too many bands, which I regret. Playing some of their music repeatedly on the show allows me to go back and rediscover and enjoy music that might have slipped off my radar a bit too quickly. I also ran into a period last year where I was a bit burned out on it all and decided to go down to a show every two weeks. That didn’t last too long, though, because I had too much music I wanted to share. So now I record two shows on one night, but still post one per week. That way I get every other week off from having to organize and complete a show.

Continue reading Shelby Miller on Shifted Sound

Scattered Thoughts

I once wrote a column called Stream of Babbling. Periodically I may try a new version of it. Like now.

My fiancée called me this afternoon after safely arriving on her California business trip. I’ve only been to California once in my life (got there thanks to her) and she called to tell me she wished I was there. I agreed–noted my regret that it just was not possible (she’s there, busy with work; I’m in Atlanta with family and work commitments) and as I made the list, she said: “No, I wish you were here because the rental car has satellite radio and I know you would just love that.”

I had to scream in mock jealousy for a moment, and then realized: “Wow, this woman knows me better than I know myself… “

Indiana Jones and Blood: Apparently the business of blood drives is getting to be good money or something. I normally donate to the Red Cross, but for the past year or so, certain medicines I’ve been on has prevented me from donating. Well my church had a blood drive today–and in an effort to recruit people, the blood drive folks (one of Red Cross’ competitors) had staff dressed up as Indiana Jones. This bewildered my son (and honestly myself) to no end. If I was wanting to donate blood and I had to be standing in line waiting to donate (which happens quite often when I donate at a drive), I know I would be saying: “How about getting those two out of the costumes and into the information gathering section–speed up this process?” Finally from a marketing standpoint–I’m left wondering a variation of what my son asked me: “Why is Indiana Jones working a blood drive?” Oh well. As long as people are helped, it’s a good thing.

This will keep me busy for awhile. I just discovered 1980s classic video playlists at VH1 Classic. In addition to the music videos, they have also archived MTV interviews with the 1980s artists. The Elvis Costello playlist alone is mouth watering. Everyday I Write the Book… nuts they don’t have The Only Flame in Town… but they do have Veronica…God, the poignancy on that last one and Costello’s anecdote at the end is bittersweet. On that note, I must go.