Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The World Goes Round

Despite the fact that this blog has been exclusively Bioshock posts as of late, there's been a lot going on. (I have managed to squeeze in some sweet Bioshock time though).

Samantha and I have been shooting crazy quantities of footage for the upcoming Samantha Murphy Show. I'm very excited about it. Sunday night we went to Inara George's annual tribute to benefit the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon. It featured Inara, Eleni Mandell, Mike Andrews (composer of Donnie Darko and Me And You And Everyone We Know (one of my favorite movies) Priscilla Ahn and Tom Brosseau. It was a lovely evening, and we got some great interviews.

Hopefully I'll have more announcements about the show soon. We're headed to San Francisco tomorrow morning to tape a backstage interview with Crowded House (psyched to meet Neil Finn and the guys!). While we're in town, we're also slated to each play sets at Apple world headquarters. Very exciting.

I've been working on a brand new VH1 show called "With A Bullet." It's a hilarious mockumentary show about a has-been singer who makes a comeback. I wrote the song that the show centers around, "My Retarded Heart" (their title, not mine). Samantha sang it. This morning, we visited the set. We just missed Alanis Morrissette, who apparently loved the song. We watched a bit of the shoot it and was a blast. Everybody had the song stuck in their head. I felt like I should apologize. I have to say though, my favorite moment was when we met Jane Lynch (I'm a big fan) and she couldn't stop singing it. Hopefully the pilot will get picked up. More news soon.

An offer just came in for me to backup Hannah Montana on her upcoming tour. I'm not really familiar with her music, but I know she's Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter, a huge Disney star (the tour is stadiums only), and mostly aimed at teens. It's not my demographic, but it sounds like a fun gig. The tour runs through January. I'm still deciding.

Also, my new album is almost done and will be released this fall.

So whew! Lots going on.

Digg this

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today's The Day

Bioshock Day. Finally.

Or rather it was supposed to be. I ran out to the store first thing and grabbed my reserved copy.

I thought I would continue capturing footage for The Samantha Murphy Show while I played me some sweet sweet Bioshocking goodness.

Unfortunately, today was the day capturing died. My computer wouldn't recognize the camera anymore. No sweat. I tried five different cameras. None of them were recognized. No sweat. I tried a different firewire cable. Nope. I thought, "maybe it's my video capture card." So I even tried all five cameras and two cables on a different computer (the Mac). That didn't work either! SWEAT! I spent literally all day trying to get footage to capture like it was last night and no dice.

I did spend about 45 minutes playing Bioshock though. And it is definitely amazing. The city of Rapture is an amazing place. Teeming with detail. It's all so beautiful. The game is full of ideas about Objectivism and human frailty. It's a gorgeous work of art and I can't wait to return. But not until I can get this footage going.

I'm also working on some music for a VH1 pilot, and yesterday they contacted me and said they need the song by Tuesday. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but as I have to have the SM show done by the weekend, that will be very tight. I was going to try and have my album done this week, but that will have to happen later.

Rapture. One day I will visit you.

Digg this

Friday, August 17, 2007

More Buddy, More Bioshock

Today we filmed Buddy's interview and performance for SMtv. I've already mentioned how amazing and soul-stirring his music is, but the wonderful news is he and his manager are both extremely kind and genuine people. I love when that happens. Please check out his music right now. You can thank me later.

Also, an update on the Bioshock and Toys R' Us situation: TRU is being fined $5,000 per copy sold, and they sold many many copies. This is very bad news for them.

Nothing but good news for 2K games right now, as the reviews are coming in all over, and it hasn't received under a 9.4 out of 10 from anyone yet, which is pretty much unprecedented. These are not good reviews, they're absolutely glowing. Check these out:

"This game is a beacon. It's one of those monumental experiences you'll never forget, and the benchmark against which games for years to come will, and indeed must, be measured. There is art here." - IGN

"Bioshock doesn't just meet your expectations, but completely redefines them forever in ways you never even expected. A story that exists and unfolds inside the most convincing, elaborate and artistic game world ever conceived." - Eurogamer

"By the time it ends, you'll likely feel quite different about how you interact with games, and more importantly, how they interact with you. An experience that's richly and utterly complete, and one that engages the player in a constant dialogue." - 1up

"Overwhelmingly original and so mind-blowingly brilliant. Every single aspect of [this] game has been creatively conceived, meticulously crafted and lovingly produced. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece." - GamesRadar

"An unparalleled achievement. No other game comes even remotely close to it in terms of raw emotional connection." - Gamespy

"Bioshock Bioshock Bioshock!!!!" - me

Digg this

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oh Calamity!

News broke all over the internet last night that a Toys R' Us in Houston sold a copy of Bioshock. The street date is next Tuesday. Video games frequently come out after their street date, but never before. All eyes were on the gaming forums as many people compared stories of finding a copy at their local Toys R' Us.

First thing this morning I called the Los Angeles store and sure enough, they had two copies in stock. But I couldn't go right away, as I had an 11:00 violin session with Daphne Chen.

So after the session, at 1:30pm, I called the Los Angeles store. They greeted me with "Are you calling about Bioshock?" and I knew the jig was up. Apparently a memo was sent to all the TRU stores nationally that a mistake was made, and the stores that broke street date were being fined heavily. I proceeded to call other local TRU's but they had all caught on at that point.

The thing that sucks the most is that all these stores have stacks of glorious copies of Bioshock trapped in a box in back of the store, just sitting for a week.

Boo to you. Booooo.

There are enterprising jerks who bought multiple copies from TRU and are selling them on eBay for $120, and people are buying them. No one could be more excited about this game than me, and even I can't imagine paying double the price to get it a few days early.

Of course, I don't really have time to play it this week anyway. So perhaps it's all moot.

Digg this

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bioshock Day Is Coming

What is Bioshock, you might ask? It's an Xbox360 game. But that's not all, it's an amazingly creative and original work of art that I've been tracking for over a year. Also, it's the "spiritual successor" to System Shock, one of the most incredible and acclaimed games of the 90's.

It takes place in Rapture, a utopian underwater city, built in the 1950's by a genius named Andrew Ryan. He created it as a home to a select group of artists, scientists and industrialists, who could work in peace in a totally idealistic society. He calls it "a city where the artist would not fear the censor; where the great would not be constrained by the small; where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality."

As with any utopian society, it couldn't last. The city was destroyed by the very people chosen to populate it. And the game begins in 1960, with our protagonist on a routine plane flight that crashes into the middle of the ocean. Swimming from the wreckage, he finds himself at the entrance of the now ruined City of Rapture, knowing that going in is the only way out.

The game forces the player to make many moral choices. For instance, there are Little Sisters (not quite real little girls, more like little zombies) who harvest Atom, the city's energy force, from corpses they find. They are protected by Big Daddies, who are huge and have drills for hands (you don't wanna mess with those)! Do you try to take the Atom that the Little Sisters have harvested, and fend for yourself when the Big Daddy comes after you? Do you protect the Little Sister when somebody else tries to steal her Atom? Or do you just leave it all alone to the natural balance of Rapture?

In the words of Andrew Ryan, "If your life were the prize, would you kill the innocent? Would you sacrifice your humanity? We all make our choices, but in the end, our choices make us."

The game finally comes out a week from today! And yes, I'm going to have to take the day off to explore.

2K Games stated that there would be no demo for this game, much to everyone's chagrin. Well, two days ago they surprised everyone by unceremoniously dropping a demo on Xbox Live. And once the news media found out, people all over the country nearly crashed the servers by downloading in droves.

And the demo. Oh, the demo. It is so good. It begins where the game will begin, in the plane crash. The first thing to notice is that it's absolutely gorgeous. The water textures nearly popped my eyes out. I just stared at the ocean for awhile. Second, I noticed that it controls like butter.

Exploring Rapture for myself, for the first time, brought me a sense of wonderment I haven't felt since I was a kid. Water pours in all the cracks, as if the city could wash away at any moment. Old jazz music still plays in the lobby, tattered "Happy New Year 1959" posters are barely hanging from the ceiling. And then it all gets creepy.

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that I'm going to play through the (woefully short - 45 minutes-ish) demo a few more times before release day next week, simply because I want to revisit this amazing world again and again.

See the awesome trailer here.

I can't wait till next Tuesday.

Digg this

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Samantha Murphy Show Is Coming Together

I'm honored that Samantha has chosen me to direct her upcoming internet show, and we've been having lots of fun filming segments for awhile now. Yesterday, we taped a music video-type-dealio with Cataldo (Eric Anderson and crew) a fantastic band out of Olympia, WA. It was a blast, and for some unknown reason, there was much half-nude cavorting (don't ask, I don't know -- but you'll see it in the video!). It's hilarious, and we're still laughing even after seeing it all night.

We started filming around noon, and by 3am the whole thing was shot, edited, color-corrected and rendered. Yup, we're on the fast track around here!

And tonight, we filmed a live performance and interview with the incredible Rob Giles, who sang and played beautifully and ripped my heart to pieces (and that's a good thing)! I'm excited for you all to see these shows. More details soon on when that might be.

Much editing to be done this week, but it's all been lots of fun, and everybody's been so easy to work with. That makes it all easier.

Coming up on Thursday we're shooting one of my new favorite musicians, Buddy. I've been listening to his album, "Alterations and Repairs," almost nonstop for the last week. Whatever you're doing right now, drop it and go listen now now now now! I promise you won't be disappointed. It's a perfect album, and that doesn't happen often.

Digg this

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Funny Games 2: The Return (AKA We're Out Of Ideas)

In addition to Sleuth, Michael Haneke is remaking his own film, "Funny Games." The original is a tense classic that makes a very powerful statement. It still holds up extremely well, as it only came out only ten years ago. Now, granted his filmmaking has changed quite a bit in those ten years and I'm sure this version will be different, perhaps better. Also, the last one didn't feature any names, and this one features Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt and Tim Roth.

But I can't imagine, in ten years, completely retreading the entirety of my "High Cost of Living" album. I've already made that statement. It's out there for anyone who wants to hear it. Isn't it time for me to make a new statement?

Why would Michael Haneke, an incredible filmmaker, duplicate his own film? I mean, they're even using a blueprint of the original set to make sure the new one has identical dimensions! The producers have stated they're remaking it shot for shot. (That worked so well when Gus Van Sant did it with Psycho -- booooo). Haneke says, "Localization is required to fully understand the Funny Games experience." Heaven forbid we be exposed to another culture, or get to know some new actors. Why do this? Oh right, money.

I get it, it's the American remake. That wonderful new tradition. Are people really so stupid that they can't watch a ten year old movie from Germany? Read a few subtitles? Oh really, they are? Could they watch an English dub, then? Do we really have to reshoot the entire thing just for these idiots? Oh really, we do? Fantastic.

Why don't we remake Paris Je T'aime already then? And it can take place in Chicago. And the segments will be directed by Brett Ratner and Michael Bay. And no one with an IQ over 15 can get into the theater.

Let's just have a moment of silence for all the terrible American remakes of great foreign films, with watered-down themes and missing subtext:

Open Your Eyes - Vanilla Sky
Spoorloos - The Vanishing
Les Diaboliques - Diabolique
Ringu - The Ring
Shall We Dance
Mostly Martha - No Reservations
Honoguarai Mizu No Soko Kara - Dark Water
Ju-On - The Grudge

And there are so many more. Let us mourn.

Digg this

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Bathroom From Hell

Our master bathroom is just mean. It's got all pinky-peach colored tiles, little seashells everywhere, a nice big shower, it says "hello! Enjoy your time in the restroom!"

But then you come in and the shower is populated with baby things, not usable. The sink has gotten a cold or something -- it's become congested and basically only trickles water. And to cap it all off, the toilet has stopped flushing. Entirely. Mean bathroom.

As Samantha says, "It's so inviting and sparkly and then it shits all over you."

Well anyway, I had a Roto Rooter guy over, who helped remove the obstruction in the sink. And the toilet, believe it or not, I fixed it myself. Yes, I actually went back to the dreaded Home Depot and picked up a tank leveler and installed it on my own. It took me almost a half hour to get the thing in too because the old one was very stubborn. But it felt good to not pay the Roto Rooter guy $185 to do it. And hooray for me. The little baby got all growed up.

It's all about the little triumphs.

So now the bathroom isn't such a tease. The shower's still full of stuff though.

Digg this

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sleuth 2: The Return

They're remaking "Sleuth." Michael Caine is starring in it again, but this time with Jude Law. And this time Michael is playing the older role previously played by Lawrence Olivier. (A strange aside: this is the second Michael Caine film to be remade, the first being "Alfie," with Jude Law in the original Michael Caine role). Harold Pinter's adapting the screenplay and Kenneth Branaugh's directing.

Sounds like a great lineup. But the question remains: why do this? The original was wonderful. And wasn't there already a remake? And wasn't it called "Deathtrap?" And didn't it kinda suck?

These are all people capable of great things, so why not get together and make a great original thing?

All that said, I'll probably go see it. So I guess that answers that.

Digg this

Thursday, August 2, 2007

My Late Night Adventure

It's been pretty cool at night lately, so Samantha convinced me to start opening the windows to save money on A/C. The light breeze is nice, but the downside is I can hear cars pass the house when I'm trying to sleep, but I can usually block that out after awhile.

Tonight, I laid down in bed around 1:30am for some nice shut-eye.

That's when I heard it.

A sporadic rustling sound just outside my bedroom window. I listened from bed for a bit. Footsteps. Sounded human. Sounded like shoes. Sounded like someone trying to move quietly. I got out of bed and went to the open window. It was very clearly someone moving. But it would stop for a minute at a time, and then move again. It was coming from further back in the house, so I first made sure all the doors were locked, then went to the back porch. Very clear. But it wasn't in our alley. It was just on the other side of the ivy wall separating my house from the neighbor's. This would have been comforting, but all of their lights were out, and I know they go to bed fairly early. So someone was in their yard, moving slowly and sporadically.

I listened for almost an hour and it didn't stop. It sounded as if they were walking around the perimeter of the house. After the recent vandalism, I wasn't about to take any chances.

I dialed 911. They said they'd send an officer.

Around 2:30am - a wailing sound. Very disturbing. Like a large bird in pain.

Around 3:30 - the officer showed up. He searched the yard next door. One by one, motion lights came on. I thought, "those should have come on before if it was a human." He walked around for a few minutes and then walked up to my porch. He said he'd found nothing and not to worry.

As he was leaving I heard the loudest sound yet. It sounded like someone running.

I said, "Did you hear that? Just now?"

He said, "Yeah that was me next door."

I said, "I mean just now."

He said, "Oh. No. I'm sure it's just some small animals." He walked to the car and drove off.

Am I completely off my nut? Have I totally lost the gizzard? Am I insane?

So I'm sitting here now at 4am, writing this blog entry on my laptop, listening to the same extremely disturbing sounds, feeling slightly more secure but still a little worried. Probably it's not some psychotic knife-wielding lunatic, or even a pack of coyotes. But what is it?

I suppose it's back to bed. But I'm closing my window. I'd rather not know.

Digg this