Billy Joel – Last Play at Shea

I’ve been quite fortunate in that I’ve seen Billy Joel perform many, many times over the last 25 years. The first concert of his I saw–the first concert I ever saw–was his [i]Piano Man[/i] to [i]An Innocent Man[/i] tour around 1984. And it was great.

All these years later, Billy doesn’t run around like the wild man of his younger days, but [i]man[/i] he still brings it. In a sold out show with 63,000 people, Billy Joel played for 3 hours–the longest show of his I’ve ever seen–breaking I’ve been quite fortunate in that I’ve seen Billy Joel perform many, many times over the last 25 years. The first concert of his I saw–the first concert I ever saw–was his [i]Piano Man[/i] to [i]An Innocent Man[/i] tour around 1984. And it was great.

All these years later, Billy doesn’t run around like the wild man of his younger days, but [i]man[/i] he still brings it. In a sold out show with 63,000 people, Billy Joel played for 3 hours–the longest show of his I’ve ever seen–breaking out one great song after another. He had huge video screen up, a fantastic sound system … and a full moon to boot on a gorgeous night.

Plus, as his "special guest" he had Tony Bennett, John Mayer, Don Henley and John Cougar all come out to play on one song each–with Don Henley doing [i]Boys of Summer[/i] and John Cougar doing [i]Pink Houses.[/i]

Bill Joel also played a bunch of early Beatles songs throughout the night to honor them–as they were the first band to ever play Shea–and closed out his set with just a string of his most killer songs: [i]Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me, You May be Right, Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, Only the Good Die Young[/i]. And of course [i]Piano Man,[/i] and one his older songs he used to close out his shows with, [i]Souvenir[/i].

At one point Shea, which is made of concrete, was literally shaking.

It was just a great, great night.

Brian Wilson at Hammerstein Ballroom

As I noted in an early entry, I went to see Brian Wilson last week at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

And I have to say it really was a fun show, with hit after hit after. Historically, The Beach Boys often don’t get a lot of credit as being a great band, but when you ad it all up, they have a huge catalog of great songs that just goes on and on. From the early hits like [i]Help Me Rhonda[/i] to the more sophisticated songs like [i]Sloop John B[/i]., Brian Wilson just brings the fun.

BriaAs I noted in an early entry, I went to see Brian Wilson last week at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

And I have to say it really was a fun show, with hit after hit after. Historically, The Beach Boys often don’t get a lot of credit as being a great band, but when you ad it all up, they have a huge catalog of great songs that just goes on and on. From the early hits like [i]Help Me Rhonda[/i] to the more sophisticated songs like [i]Sloop John B[/i]., Brian Wilson just brings the fun.

Brian Wilson may not be the most dynamic performer and his voice isn’t quite what it used to be, but it was clear he was having a great time, sitting behind his keyboard for an hour and fifteen minutes without playing a single note.

His band really jams and the tunes are as great as ever. I don’t know how much longer Brian Wilson will tour, but if you ever get the chance to see him, it’s well worth it.

Publisher’s Update: Networking Pays Off

Thanks to a nifty bit of networking on multiple fronts this past week–if I do say so myself–another publisher has requested a copy of [i]Finders Keepers.[/i] So at the moment two publishers are now reading [i]Finders Keepers[/i], with up to three more potentially in the mix.

And with Comic-Con coming up next week, I’m really amping up to hit the convention at full speed!

More to come …Thanks to a nifty bit of networking on multiple fronts this past week–if I do say so myself–another publisher has requested a copy of [i]Finders Keepers.[/i] So at the moment two publishers are now reading [i]Finders Keepers[/i], with up to three more potentially in the mix.

And with Comic-Con coming up next week, I’m really amping up to hit the convention at full speed!

More to come …

Freaky Friday – Just When We Thought We Were Out

Just when I thought the madness from my Freaky Friday had concluded … boy was I wrong.

As I noted last week, my 87 year-old grandmother fell out of bed, and in doing so, gave herself a black eye and broke her shoulder. Only now we find that her shoulder does not need surgery. So she’s in the hospital, recovering from the operation that she had this morning. She’s in pain, and, she says, the morphine and percocet isn’t helping. Bummer. And while she is a tough old gal, 87 is 87 no matterJust when I thought the madness from my Freaky Friday had concluded … boy was I wrong.

As I noted last week, my 87 year-old grandmother fell out of bed, and in doing so, gave herself a black eye and broke her shoulder. Only now we find that her shoulder does not need surgery. So she’s in the hospital, recovering from the operation that she had this morning. She’s in pain, and, she says, the morphine and percocet isn’t helping. Bummer. And while she is a tough old gal, 87 is 87 no matter how you slice it, so there’s inherent risk in any surgery.

How these geniuses misdiagnosed my grandmother in the first place still kinda baffles me. Sometimes doctors can be so friggin useless …

Anyway, that’s the latest on what has been one of the freakiest fridays in recent memory. Let’s just hope the madness starts to settle down.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/07/21 06:46

Freaky Friday, Part III – California Dreaming

At this point on Friday I’d already stumbled into ThrillerFest (which led to something cool; stay tuned), and found out that my stepdad was in a car accident in which he broke his shoulder, suffered a mild concussion, and one of his dogs was killed. And this all happened with an hour of each other.

Well, as if the evening wasn’t strange enough, I then walked across town to the Hammerstein Ballroom to see Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) in concert! Talk about a trippy night!

Through someoneAt this point on Friday I’d already stumbled into ThrillerFest (which led to something cool; stay tuned), and found out that my stepdad was in a car accident in which he broke his shoulder, suffered a mild concussion, and one of his dogs was killed. And this all happened with an hour of each other.

Well, as if the evening wasn’t strange enough, I then walked across town to the Hammerstein Ballroom to see Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) in concert! Talk about a trippy night!

Through someone I used to work with, I got tickets–for free–for a benefit concert Brian Wilson was putting on. So after having just received much bizarre news, I was there happily churning along to a slew of Beach Boys hits, with Brian Wilson singing about surfing, fun, love and piece. And it was great! But so weird!

And I bet you’ll be surprised at just how many great songs they have: [i]California Girls, Wouldn’t it be Nice, Good Vibrations, Sloop John B., Help Me Rhonda, Surfin USA, Surfin Safari, Surfer Girl[/i]. It was a really great show. Just a lot of fun … and one heckuva way to end a very freaky friday.

The End …

(Or was there just a little bit more to the story?)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/07/16 06:44

Freaky Friday, Part II – Tragedy Strikes Again

So just as I was walking away from ThrillerFest at the Hyatt last Friday, crossing the hotel lobby, I get a call from my sister. As background to this story, my mom and stepdad, Bill, have a house in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and do the snowbird thing. My mom is staying in NY this summer to work, and Bill was headed down there with their two dogs, Monty and Princess.

Not long into the phone call, my sister tells me that Bill was in a car accident. Somewhere on 1-95 around the George/FloridaSo just as I was walking away from ThrillerFest at the Hyatt last Friday, crossing the hotel lobby, I get a call from my sister. As background to this story, my mom and stepdad, Bill, have a house in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and do the snowbird thing. My mom is staying in NY this summer to work, and Bill was headed down there with their two dogs, Monty and Princess.

Not long into the phone call, my sister tells me that Bill was in a car accident. Somewhere on 1-95 around the George/Florida border, Bill fell asleep at the wheel. The car drifted off the road and rolled over. As a result of the accident, Bill broke his shoulder and suffered a mild concussion. Bill has been in a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Poor Monty, who was a sweet dog and a lot of fun, was thrown from the car and killed. Princess walked away just a bit banged up.

In the aftermath, my mom flew down to Georgia yesterday morning to deal with the car, which is totaled, and pick up Bill and Princess. My mom rented a car, and they are now on the road driving back to New York, and should arrive late in the week.

So just in the last month: Alex died; my 87-year-old grandmother fell from her bed, breaking her shoulder and suffering a black eye; my friend died unexpectedly at 52 of a heart attack, leaving his wife and two young kids behind; my stepdad was in a nasty car accident, breaking his shoulder and suffering a minor concussion, and Monty was killed in the accident.

Yikes.

And then Friday got even more surreal …

To Be Concluded

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I have long been a fan of Hellboy, having read many of the comics over the last dozen years. The first movie was just so-so. They didn’t quite get it right. The sequel is certainly better. The general tone is faithful to the comic, and the story, while fairly basic, works.

The movie has a lot going for it. Ron Pearlman is pitch perfect as Hellboy, and the director has an incredible imagination, creating scenes so rich in fantasy that it’s a visual splendor. I usually don’t get caught up in I have long been a fan of Hellboy, having read many of the comics over the last dozen years. The first movie was just so-so. They didn’t quite get it right. The sequel is certainly better. The general tone is faithful to the comic, and the story, while fairly basic, works.

The movie has a lot going for it. Ron Pearlman is pitch perfect as Hellboy, and the director has an incredible imagination, creating scenes so rich in fantasy that it’s a visual splendor. I usually don’t get caught up in that so much, but the visuals are a real treat.

For me, the issue was length. The first hour was so jam-packed with action sequences I actually found myself a little bit bored, as the action was a little tedious for me. But about an hour in they slowed the pace down a little, let the movie breath a bit more, and, for me at least, the movie came more alive at that point.

[i]Hellboy II[/i] works overall, and there’s a lot to like. But at 2 hours, 20 minutes … too much. I like getting my money’s worth, but in this case, less would have been more. Still, as a comic-book/fantasy movie, it’s worth the price of admission.

Wanted

Well, I can definitely say that [i]Wanted[/i] was action packed. I’m not sure I loved this movie, but it has some things going for it.

James MacAvoy is a good lead, and there’s action galore. The humor is good, too. But for me it was a bit long–and loud–and even for the kind of over-the-top movie that it was meant to be, it was almost [i]too [/i]over the top at times.

And man, was it bloody. Wow. Very, very violent.

Some of the stunts and F/X were truly impressive and quite a bWell, I can definitely say that [i]Wanted[/i] was action packed. I’m not sure I loved this movie, but it has some things going for it.

James MacAvoy is a good lead, and there’s action galore. The humor is good, too. But for me it was a bit long–and loud–and even for the kind of over-the-top movie that it was meant to be, it was almost [i]too [/i]over the top at times.

And man, was it bloody. Wow. Very, very violent.

Some of the stunts and F/X were truly impressive and quite a bit of fun. It just went too far in places for me, as I found myself getting a bit fidgety by the end. Had they toned it down just a bit, and cut 15 minutes, I would have liked it a lot more.

Overall, it’s not bad, but I can’t say I’m running out to see it again. But if you’re looking for smash, bang, boom with a cool factor to it, [i]Wanted [/i]will probably do the trick for you.

Freaky Friday, Part I – ThrillerFest, First Blood

In just a two-hour window on Friday, my night got very, very … strange. This is how it started:

After work I wandered into the bar at the Grand Hyatt hotel to visit my friend Kevin, who is a bartender, when he tells me that there’s a writer’s conference of some sort going on in the hotel. Natrually, my eyes perk right up, and when an older gentleman with a name badge walked by, we started chatting to him, and turns out he was a heckuva good guy.

The convention was ThrillerFest, for tIn just a two-hour window on Friday, my night got very, very … strange. This is how it started:

After work I wandered into the bar at the Grand Hyatt hotel to visit my friend Kevin, who is a bartender, when he tells me that there’s a writer’s conference of some sort going on in the hotel. Natrually, my eyes perk right up, and when an older gentleman with a name badge walked by, we started chatting to him, and turns out he was a heckuva good guy.

The convention was ThrillerFest, for thrillers and such. Cop books, espionage, serial killer stories. Vampires. So not really the kind of thing I work on, but still, writers and writers, and you never know what can come of it.

So it turns out that it took the writer–Thomas O’Collaghan (www.thomasocallaghan.com) 12 years just to land an agent. Talk about persistence! But now he’s got two books out, which are doing quite well, and one of them is being made into a movie.

He also invited me up to see a panel he was on, which I did. The moderator was David Morrell, the author who wrote the novel [i]First Blood[/i], which launched the Rambo movies with Sylvester Stallone. And the panel itself was about villains, and how the different writers think about and approach villains, so I thought it was a pretty cool panel.

At the end of the panel I stopped by to say hello to Thomas, and he was quite nice about it. I also wound up meeting a book editor, who thought [i]Finders Keepers[/i] sounded kinda cool, and is interested in reading it. So … nice!

I called it a night after that, as I was headed off to a concert, but that’s when my evening really began to get strange …

To Be Continued

Y: The Last Man Finale – SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Okay, I’m finally caught up, and have now read the entire 10 paperbacks of [i]Y: The Last Man[/i].

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Taking the entire run, I thought it was a fun, interesting sci-fi comic with a startling premise, a lot of twists, great artwork, action, flashbacks and humor. I was really into it, it read quick, and at the end of each paperback I wanted to read the next one. So it definitely gets high marks in my book. It’s a popcorn book that touches on some big themes.

As mOkay, I’m finally caught up, and have now read the entire 10 paperbacks of [i]Y: The Last Man[/i].

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Taking the entire run, I thought it was a fun, interesting sci-fi comic with a startling premise, a lot of twists, great artwork, action, flashbacks and humor. I was really into it, it read quick, and at the end of each paperback I wanted to read the next one. So it definitely gets high marks in my book. It’s a popcorn book that touches on some big themes.

As much as I really did like it, in the end, I’m not totally sure it all came together for me plot-wise, as there seemed to be a bunch of threads that didn’t resolve in a way that was totally satisfying for me. It’s tough when you have such a large overall scheme with various mini-arcs to follow. I ran into a similar situation when writing [i]Finders Keepers[/i], so I certainly understand what it’s like to create a universe that seems to expand as you write it.

In lesser hands, [i]Y: The Last Man[/i] could have been a mess, but the creative team held strong throughout, and went for an unconventional ending, which I thought was excellent on the one hand, and a little unsatisfying on the other.

Overall [i]Y: The Last Man[/i] was good throughout, with elements that were great, really kept me guessing and wanting more, although it didn’t quite hit the "great" plateau for me in total. Still, I give [i]Y: The Last Man[/i] high marks–7 out of 10. One of the better ongoing series I’ve come across in a while. You are not likely to be disappointed.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/07/23 05:10

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