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Showing posts from January, 2013

Starman Over The Rainbow - My Review of David Bowie at the Rainbow Theatre, London, in 1972

In honor of my birthday week - and the release of David Bowie's wonderful new song and video, Where Are We Now? - I am reproducing here one of the earliest pieces of professional writing of my career, Starman Over The Rainbow, a review of David Bowie's legendary Ziggy Stardust show on Saturday, August 19, 1972 at London's Rainbow Theatre - a show that introduced multi-media theater and mime to rock music, not to mention challenging the sexual, cultural and musical stereotypes of the day.

I was seventeen at the time that I wrote this review. I had recently been invited by editor Robin Bean to write professionally (while still at the British equivalent of high school, Bexley Grammar School) for Films and Filming magazine. 

I became friendly with Peter Buckley, the editor of Plays and Players, the sister theatre magazine in the London-based "Seven Arts Group" (not to be confused with the major American corporation), and I managed to persuade him that David Bowie, desp…

New Price of $4.99 for the Kindle Edition of The War Zone

The Kindle price of my novel The War Zone: 20th Anniversary Edition is now $4.99.

A dark, ironic, emotionally-charged novel about incest, adolescent fury and parental morality, the novel won Britain's prestigious Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (now the Costa Book Awards) when it was first published, only to have the prize snatched away amid public controversy when one of the judges politicked behind the scenes.

Dubbed a contemporary Catcher in the Rye by Time Out magazine, The War Zone was turned into a powerful multi-award-winning film by Oscar-nominated actor-director Tim Roth, which premiered at Sundance and went on to attract great acclaim at film festivals around the world.  The film can be streamed from Netflix and is available on DVD through Amazon.


Shoe Bombs Kill A Lot Less People Than Guns

True, and very sad. Why not have the TSA regularly inspect everyone's guns, wherever they are? Guns are weapons of mass destruction.

It is also sickening that the ranking of politicians in this country by the National Rifle Association has any significance at all.

There should at least be a Second Amendment protection of the Right To Wear Shoes.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day - and Happy Inauguration Day to President Barack Obama

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day (his assassination still saddens me deeply, so many years later) and Happy Inauguration Day to our wonderful president, Barack Obama, whose presidency MLK helped make possible.

I am honored and proud to have a president who is a caring human being, intelligent, very hard-working and quietly ambitious to achieve so much in his second term.

Washington has not defeated him - neither have all the ridiculous haters in this country who, from the start of his presidency (and for reasons which more often than not, I am certain, relate to racism), have tried to deny and defeat it.

He is a two-term president, reelected by more than half of this nation. He is our president, we should respect him - and not allow the likes of the moron Donald Trump to be so offensive toward him.

May President Obama achieve great things in this, his legacy term. I wish him the greatest success in making our economy fairer for everyone, for reforming immigration, for ma…

Guns, School Shootings - and Gus Van Sant's film, Elephant (VIDEO)


Anyone concerned about the ridiculous access to guns in this country should watch Gus Van Sant's remarkable 2003 film, Elephant, loosely inspired by the events at Columbine.

The film, for the most part, has a strange semi-documentary yet almost lyrical feel to it (with some truly extraordinary Steadicam work throughout) - and captures high school life remarkably well.

It also plays with time, subtly repeating events from different perspectives. The 10 minute extract here is pretty much the culmination of the film - so if you want to watch Elephant all the way through, perhaps just stream or rent or buy it.

But these images - all the more disturbing in the wake of the appalling tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown - capture something of the inanity, randomness and tragedy of mass shootings.

And anyone who argues that guns don't kill people, people…

The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and Lincoln

Film is so strange. I think Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is remarkable - the hunched physicality, his voice, his utterly believable mix of idealism and pragmatism. Likewise Tony Kushner's extraordinary script - and Tommy Lee Jones, who is fabulous.

Yet Lincoln doesn't excite me, doesn't get my juices flowing, the way that Wes Anderson'sMoonrise Kingdom or Paul Thomas Anderson'sThe Master do.

If you think about a classic (yet still Hollywood style) biopic like Lawrence of Arabia, you have something that is also centered around a remarkable performance - and with a challenging story to tell - and yet you have unforgettable imagery and a sense of your emotions being stirred in a completely different way. 

The cut early on from Lawrence/O'Toole extinguishing a match with his fingers to that astonishing desert landscape is unmatched by anything in Lincoln. Lincoln is well shot, but I can't remember a single stand…

Santa Cruz Scrapbook

We are becoming increasingly fond of Santa Cruz, which we visited again recently both for research for a script I'm working on and to celebrate our daughter Paradise's fourth birthday.

Aside from the fact that we love the ocean with a passion that cannot be fully expressed in words, Santa Cruz has something of the feel I imagine Malibu had in the 1960s - a surf town, with a college feel as well, of course (UCSC is close by), but without the high-end development and casual-chic of Malibu now.

It also shares some of the appeal Miami Beach had when I first moved there in 1990 - when South Beach was first emerging as somewhere hip (I'm not suggesting Santa Cruz isn't already hip), before the massive overdevelopment and condo-ization of SoBe took over.

In 1990, South Beach was still partly a retirement community, partly a crack neighborhood, mostly Art Deco, and Cuban in a way that is different from now - filled with Cuban families overflowing onto the streets and alleyways, w…

David Bowie - Where Are We Now? (MUSIC VIDEO)

I am one of the world's biggest David Bowie fans, and I was thrilled that he decided to release a wonderful new single, Where Are We Now?, from his surprise new album - recorded in absolute secrecy over the past two years - on his birthday last Tuesday, January 8, 2013.

This Guardian article, from Tuesday, explains a little about the new single - and this additional Guardian article details the incredible secrecy surrounding recording Bowie's new album, The Next Day.

I love the new song and the new video. I have played it repeatedly, and it is remarkably haunting - a wonderful mixture of nostalgia for Bowie's groundbreaking "Berlin period" in the 1970s and just a very beautiful ballad.

Strange Charm - A Fun Song About Quarks (Yes!)

Hudson asked me this morning what is the smallest thing in the world. We had already discussed atoms and protons, neutrons and electrons, so I told him that I thought quarks were still the smallest. Hudson thought I said corks:)

I tried (valiantly, I thought) to explain that quarks are tiny particles of matter that cannot exist on their own - we have already watched a very cool cartoon in which an animated atom explains that it is indivisible, even though it has electrons zipping around its core of protons and neutrons.

I then found this wonderful - and very catchy - song about quarks, which both Hudson and Paradise love listening to. I think it's quite an achievement to make quarks fun!

(WARNING: there is one expletive in Hank's spoken intro to the song and a link at the very end of the video that is unsuitable for children.)

The chorus, for those who know as much about quarks as me, names the different types of quark: Up/Down, Charm/Strange and Top/Bottom.