All posts in Magic

Creating Saturday Night Live: Control Room

An interesting behind-the-scenes look at how an episode of SNL goes from script to stage.

Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Carrie Fisher Irvin Kershner Behind The Scenes Princess Leia

Unscripted: How the Famous ‘I Love You/I Know’ Scene Really Came Together

It’s a legendary story, but it’s not true: When Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) confesses her love for Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Empire Strikes Back, the scripted reply was, “Just remember that, because I’ll be back.” Feeling that the line lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, Ford changed it.

“I love you.”

“I know.”

It’s humorous, poignant, and a spot-on character-driven interaction. It’s often cited as the best actor-improvised line in movie history, but, here’s the thing, it wasn’t improvised. Read more…

DUNKIRK: The Test of Time

If you thought Baby Driver was the must-see movie event of the summer then hold onto your butt! With heart-stopping special effects, lavish cinematography, and intimate, matter-of-fact storytelling, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a soon-to-be-classic.

With recent films Inception and Interstellar, Nolan leaned heavily on ham-fisted theatrics, exceedingly complicated plot structures, and booming soundtracks. In Dunkirk, Nolan strips much of the histrionics away to tell a lean and mean, true-to-life story of survival. Far and away, it’s his best work since The Dark Knight. Read more…

Retroactive Continuity: The Secret to Star Wars Success

Yep. You read that title correctly. Here’s another goddamn article about Star Wars!

Star Wars celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and the ubiquity of George Lucas’s groundbreaking creation is enough to choke a rancor. Every time you get online, there’s a slew of clickbait promising spoilers, beat-by-beat breakdowns of the latest trailer, and advertisements for the newest doodad with Star Wars stamped on the box.

It takes a near-herculean effort to slog through the crap and remember what it is that makes Star Wars SO FUCKING GOOD. Read more…

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.

Madeleine L’Engle

When Heroes Die

Spoilers to follow.

The best Westerns don’t have happy endings. Movies like Unforgiven, High Noon, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid end on the lowest of low notes. Our heroes save the day, but they make tremendous personal sacrifices (most often their lives) in order to do so.

Of course, as far as endings go, there’s none better than John Ford’s The Searchers. Ethan Edwards, a haggard and out-of-place Civil War veteran (John Wayne), rescues his abducted niece (Natalie Wood) and returns her safely home. In one of cinemas most famous and bittersweet scenes, Edwards turns around, forgotten by his family, and walks off into the desert silhouetted by a doorway. It’s a near-perfect ending. The doorway is a threshold between the outlaw West and civilization; a metaphor for the character’s internal struggle to find his place in the modern world. Read more…

Every Frame A Painting: How Does an Editor Think and Feel?

Every Frame A Painting explains the art and artistry of film editing. I’d also suggest checking out their videos on Edgar Wright – How to Do Visual Comedy and Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement.

Small Town Dreamer

Adrienne and I picked this print up at the 2016 Emerald City Comicon.

A fragment for my friend--If your soul left this earth I would follow and find you--Silent, my starship suspended in night.

An excerpt from Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Stratos Jump

They just released 1st-person footage of Felix Baumgartner’s 128,100 foot dive. It’s 8 minutes of breathtaking terror. Enjoy!

Smith Tower

This is the view at sunrise looking south toward Smith Tower (and Mt. Rainier) from my office building.

My favorite ‘nerdy’ books of 2013

1. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi

I can’t recommend this novel highly enough. It’s won a few accolades like the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel and it was a New York Times bestseller. So, it’s merits speak for themselves, but it truly lives up to the hype.

The premiss is fairly simple, it’s a comedic look at the expendable crew members from classic Sci-Fi TV shows like Star Trek. That’s the basic starting point, but from there you go on a hilarious and often touching journey about existence and how we can contribute to the lives of those around us. The three codas in this book nearly killed me; they drive a semi-truck right over your heart.

You don’t need to be a Sci-Fi fan to enjoy Redshirts. As with the very best Sci-Fi, it resonates with our current situation and teaches us about who we are and how we can be better.

2. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

A few years ago, I watched a movie called Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. It’s a Finnish horror movie about the “real” Santa Claus. It’s both haunting and has a quality of magical realism that just breathes the mood of the Holidays. It’s currently streaming on Netflix and I’d suggest watching it if something like that strikes your fancy.

NOS4A2 takes the horror and magical realism to a whole other level. It’s about a vampire (Nosferatu) who abducts children and the woman who has the tools to stop him.

I don’t want to give too much away; it’s really the journey that you go on through the book that is the most enjoyable element. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next and it kept me flipping through page after page. It’s a unique story.

3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This novel is a great introduction for anyone not familiar with Neil Gaiman or his work. I could talk forever about Anansi Boys and American Gods, but I’d suggest starting here.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a simple, beautifully crafted fairy tale about memory, growing up, and making the “impossible all too real.”

The Shining :: Room 237

A few weeks ago, I went to see a documentary called Room 237 with a few friends. All I knew going into the experience was that it was a documentary about conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining.

SIFF had brought the documentary to the Uptown in Queen Anne and we sat in the back row stealing sips of vodka from a flask. We were, perhaps, the most jovial and flushed audience members. The documentary takes itself too seriously, as did most of the audience at the showing. We, however, found it to be an out-and-out comedy much to the chagrin of the rest of the room.

Let me put it this way: to call Room 237 absurd would be an understatement. It throws every popular conspiracy you can think of into the mix. Everything from faking the Moon Landing to genocide. Read more…

The Unwritten

I’ve just finished Vol. 6 of The Unwritten written by Mike Cary with art by Peter Gross. It’s an ongoing series from DC Comics about Tom/Tommy Taylor, a real life person who was the inspiration for a series of books in the vein of Harry Potter. At a certain point in the series, the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred and the real life Tom Taylor is able to use the magical powers of his fictional counterpart, Tommy Taylor.

I’ve been on a Mythic Fiction kick lately. Think Bill Willingham’s Fables or ABC’s pseudo rip-off Once Upon A Time. And even, Neil Gaiman’s work on American Gods and Anansi Boys. Mythic Fiction draws heavily from myth, folklore, and fairy tales. There’s something about the timelessness of these stories and how they’re used in a modern context that resonates with me. If you’re interested in the genre, I recommend reading Adrienne’s entry about Fables on her blog. Read more…

The Sound “Hothouse”

This is is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.

I like the stars.

From Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives: “I like the stars. It’s the illusion of permanence, I think. I mean, they’re always flaring up and caving in and going out. But from here, I can pretend…I can pretend that things last. I can pretend that lives last longer than moments. Gods come, and gods go. Mortals flicker and flash and fade. Worlds don’t last; and stars and galaxies are transient, fleeting things that twinkle like fireflies and vanish into cold and dust. But I can pretend.”

A Study in Emerald

Happy Halloween! I’ve been posting for the past month about All Hallow’s Read. If you’re not familiar with All Hallow’s Read, don’t worry, the idea is very simple: give someone a scary book for Halloween. Read more…

The Small Assassin

I just finished Ray Bradbury’s The October Country. It’s a collection of macabre short stories, that Adrienne gave me for All Hallow’s Read, about “the horrors and demons that lurk within all of us.” I’ve been on a Bradbury kick lately and if you’ve never read his work before, this would be an excellent introduction. Read more…

Radiolab: Dark Side of the Earth

The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury

I posted this recording shortly after the passing of Ray Bradbury in June of this year and I wanted to post it again. It’s a gorgeous love letter from Neil Gaiman to one of his idles and it’s one of my favorite short stories. It’s the perfect balance of sentimentality, sincerity, and magic. It’s an engrossing monologue. Read more…

The Honor System

There’s a fantastic article in October’s issue of Esquire called “The Honor System.” The article describes Teller’s journey (of Penn & Teller fame) to track down a musician who stole his trick Shadows. And yet, the article is about much more than that. It explores art, magic, thievery, ownership, copyright, and the process of turning deception into something beautiful. You can read it online for free here. Read more…