Chasing Ghosts

Chris and I were recording music last Friday for the new album and attempted to chase down some ghosts. That is to say when I hear music in my head, it doesn’t always sound like the music that is coming out of my guitar. I will fiddle with the instrument attempting to figure out the elusive notes.

I always thought I was strange when I heard music that isn’t actually there. But it turns out Chris hears the ghost sounds too. He said that he’ll spend hours tracking down a ghost sound. Sometimes, he’ll succeed and others — the melody will always be a ghost. When I write music, my experience is the same. I wonder if the great composers are able to chase down the ghost every time.

Ghost music is not a new occurrence in my life. I’ve always had songs in my head. Even sometimes out of my head. I remember being at my friends house and participating in a drum circle. I could swear that I heard flute music playing in the back ground. Only drummers were at this event. No one had snuck a flute into the ceremony. I thought it was merely the ghost music. But afterwards, everyone was thanking the spirits for the accompaniment. I was blown away that other people heard it too.

I’ve always loved science and science fiction. But there has always been the mystical side of me — the musical side of me. I think that’s why I love the stories that Chris and I are writing through the music. It’s a marriage of art and science. With that, I leave you with a music video Chris and I made this weekend. For the science folks out there, yes, I understand that the sun will not naturally go super nova. However, I want to say there is a reason why the sun is going super nova in our album. That reason will be revealed in the third album Anomaly.

Enjoy the video:

15 Terrible Ideas For Theme Parties

Some bros

Women are more likely to go to parties with a theme. Liven that "sausage fest" with a creative motif!

1. Get all your white friends to celebrate Black History Month by dressing like their favorite historical figure. Make sure to invite only one black guy.

2. STD themed singles event.

3. A Jane Austin style dance party at a college fraternity. Bystanders will at least be amused.

4. Dance, Dance, Danza! With Tony Danza.

5. A washed up actor themed party with the real actors playing themselves. Invite one successful actor to see what happens.

6. School of the deaf. Rock Band party. Awesome.

7. A cat themed party! With hundreds and hundreds of real cats. Crazy cat ladies need to party too.

8. Stephen Hawking’s Dance Dance Revolution Extravaganza!

9. A Hell House… any Hell House.

10. A WOW raid with Leroy Jenkins and a Yorkie dressed as a giant spider.

11. Internet meme costume party in an elderly assisted living community.

12. Guns and Alcohol: a theme for any occasion.

13. Chuck Norris beating a dead horse and the crap out of the internet meme party.

14. What ever happened to Roman style vomitoriums? Those people knew how to party.

15. The bring a creepy older date to Prom theme!

Jeepers, It’s The Cops!

I felt like I was in a 1940’s gangster flick:

Me: You’ll never catch me coppers! I ain’t coming out alive!

Cop: That’s not a gun sir.

Me: It’s a baseball bat!

Cop: It’s a tea cup.

Me: I’ll burn you!

Cop: The tea looks lukewarm.

Me: I might short out your radio. Huh? Ever think of that?

Cop: Get on the ground sir.

But seriously, the cops really did enter my house last Friday. The dramatization above was merely the figment of an over active imagination. The police at my door was an interaction of shock, surprise, and feeling rather silly. My wife and I were watching the British version of Being Human while sipping on some tea when the doorbell frantically rang. I opened the door and Albuquerque Police Department’s finest was standing off to the side in the shadows (the way they stand when they expect the door to burst open guns a blazing).

Freak Out!

This sums up my reaction. Or a special day in the park with a sack lunch. I'm not sure which.

The police officer steps into the light and I realize that it’s not a home invasion. He tells me that they received a call about someone vomiting blood at my residence and asks if his partner and him can come in. I invite them in. With all the vampire shows I watch, you figure I should have asked for some ID first. As my wife points out, they could have been home invaders dressed as the cops. Lesson learned. I’ll be asking for ID in the future.

So they turn out not be home invaders or vampires but really cops. They ask me if anyone else is home and I tell him, “My wife.” At which point my wife comes into the living room holding the dog. Keep in mind this is the dog that furiously barks at anyone who even thinks about walking down the sidewalk. Now that strangers are in the house, he is quaking in his mom’s arms. Yes, he is such a cute fuzzy fierce little warrior.

They ask my wife, “Are you vomiting blood?” She tells them no and then he asks to look through the rest of the house. Luckily enough, I decided to stop growing opium, freed the human trafficking victims, and took down the meth lab that morning. His partner, who seemed like a rookie, stood there awkwardly after checking the coat closet. Because you know, when someone vomits blood at my house, I put them in the coat closet. It keeps the room clean. After checking the house, they find no one (Though that would be freaky if they did). Embarrassed by the situation, they radio in the error talking in police code and leave us to our tea.

Seriously though, I didn’t mind what happened. If someone really was vomiting blood, I really would want them to come in and check it out. They were just doing their job and they didn’t break down the door or anything. The weird part is this is the second false alarm called to my house. The fire department came a month or two ago looking for a fire that wasn’t at my house. Although when someone rings the doorbell, I usually don’t answer it. Personally, I hate talking to door to door solicitors. Glad that I decided to answer it or the night would have been very different.  Though I should have offered them some tea. I can picture it now: the four of us sipping tea while watching a show about a vampire, werewolf, and ghost roommates.

Eat, Drink and Be Larry

All this Hamlet The Vampire Slayer happenings makes me nostalgic for the Eat, Drink and Be Larry days. The days when doing the fine art of theatre involved dressing up like Yoda:

Yoda

Emperor Palpatine goes to a used clone army salesman

I always find comedy to be fascinating in that it’s always part of the fringe.  For example, there is a theatre group in Albuquerque called Tricklock (the gentleman in the hat on the right is a member). They are internationally known, bring in acts from Europe and likewise take shows there.

Eat, Drink, and Be Larry’s closest connection to Europe was a German guy sent us a film for our tiny little film festival at the Guerrilla Tango (the now defunct theatre where we did the later half of our shows). We got so excited; we changed the name from The First Guerrilla Tango Film Festival to The First International Guerrilla Tango Film Festival. Which of course is a silly act because of our singular foreign film.

For us comics, we were sort of the bastard step children of the stage world. Most people look at a show as method to express emotions, political beliefs, or abstract intellectual ideas. We looked at it as a way for Dracula to give his three female vampires a full grown man wearing a diaper in parody of the Francis Ford Coppola’s baby eating Dracula.

Eat, Drink and Be Larry

The Eat, Drink and Be Larry crew

We really couldn’t take anything seriously. In fact, writing sketches was fueled by people that took themselves way to seriously. I remember a series of sketches I wrote about Steve from Blue Clues investigating really heinous murders with the same doofy kids show gusto. So maybe we did take comedy very seriously. The premise must seem like it’s real in order to be funny. But since the end result is silly, comedy stays on the fringe.

Sketch acts aren’t looking for prestige because there is little be had in late night theatre where Ophelia drowns herself in a bowl of water. But we are looking for that connection with the audience. A well crafted joke can create a moment shared by an entire a room full of people. For a brief period of time, the comic is connected with everyone in a emotional event that can be only described as joy. The performer and audience alike become part of an experience greater than themselves. The allure of comedy is being part of that fringe.

Hamlet The Vampire Slayer Retrospective

A Review of a Review

A while back, Obscurus Lupa (Allison) and Oancitizen (Kyle) did a review of Hamlet The Vampire Slayer. Allison and Kyle made a wonderful episode. On a side note, I feel weird calling them by the names of the characters they play on their web series. To me, that’s like calling Christian Bale — Batman:

I’m sitting at a bar. Christian Bale walks in.

Me: Hey everyone! It’s Batman! Batman’s here! Look Batman!

Christian Bale: Oy! I am Christian Bale and I speak with a fucking cockney accent.

Ian Mckellen walks in.

Me: It’s Magneto! Batman! Arrest Magneto! He’s a bad man.

Ian Mckellen: I’m not Magneto. I’m Gandalf.

Me: Holy shit! Gandalf and Batman! Holy shit! They are going to be the best team up ever. Holt shit!

Maury Sterling from Beverly Hills Chihuahua tries to walk in.

Ian Mckellen: You shall not pass!

I really liked their review. I laughed a lot. They were a great pair. The chemistry between them exuded a raw output of love and hate. Their dynamic as a comedy team up is exactly the same reaction we get to the movie. I remember talking to a Professor of Shakespeare at a film festival who absolutely loved the movie whereas a Shakespeare dedicated website hated the film. Kyle and Allison’s art truly imitates life. Their reactions to this film are exactly what I expect.

The funniest part for me was Allison eating chips and calling out to Buffy. I had to pause the review because I was laughing too hard. Jason and I were roommates when we watched Buffy. Picture a bunch of dudes, eating giant bags of Hot Tamales and Mike N’ Ikes watching Buffy with tears in our eyes. I thought Kyle and Allison’s dynamics made the review. The utter contempt of Kyle contrasted with the poop joke loving Allison was brilliant. There was a nice balance between Kyle’s stark realism and Allison’s silliness. I also have to say I love the final retort “Country Matters”.  On a sider note, you know that weird feeling you get when someone stares directly at the camera lens? The feeling like they are looking directly at you?  Since I co-wrote Hamlet The Vampire Slayer, I felt like they really were talking to me. It’s a weird feeling made even weirder because they are talking about my movie!

I loved the review. It was funny, completely fair, and done with love for their craft. If you haven’t watched their shows, I recommend them.  And I am still laughing about the potato chips and Buffy. If there is a best joke of 2012 competition, they have my vote.

FAQ

After the review came out, people had questions about the movie. I will try to address some of them here. In spirit of the comedy team up, I’ll let you, the reader, decide which is the best answer to the question:

Q: What’s the symbolism behind the Soviet flag during the hot tub scene?

A: Claudio is a character of split personalities. His vampire half wants to normalize the population much like the communist ideology of equality via oppression. His Shakespearean half uses Stalinesque tactics to gets what he wants regardless of the consequences to his people.

Or

A: Vampires like the color red!

Q:  Why do Rosenchad and Guildenbrad make all the gay jokes?

A: They are characters trapped between worlds. Their homophobia prevents them from acting on the secret desire for each other. They come from a very conservative background where authority figures dictate their inner lives. Their inability to tell Claudio that they won’t betray their friend only reinforces their conflict with their true desire. If they were “out of the closet” and didn’t let bigotry control their lives, they would stand up for Hamlet as well as themselves and not be a pawn of Claudio’s wishes.

Or

A: Oral sex turning people into vampires is funny!

Q: Why a goat?

A: Hamlet’s excitement over a goat is the manifestation of Pan. He lusts for his mother and that lust is betrayed by Claudio. If he could unlock his inner Pan, he would no longer be bound. Freedom via goat.

Or

A: Goats just happen to be on the set that day so we filmed them.

Q: Did you just take the idea from the Whitest Kids You Know Abe Lincoln sketch?

A: Since the play version of this movie came out in 2006, we had to time travel to the future to take the idea from WKUK. Back in December of 2005, Jason and I thought of the idea while I was dropping him off at the airport for the holidays. We did a show called “Dracula Goes to College” that was fairly successful. We wanted to do a show in the same vein so we thought of “Hamlet Goes to High School”. When he came back, we started watching Buffy. Because it’s really hard for us to make the Hamlet/Buffy connection in our heads, we built a time machine. We first went back to 1955 and screwed up Marty’s birth. Then we had to save Earth from the Daleks. Finally, we ran into a bunch of guys in a hot tub (that’s how we got the idea for the hot tub scene). Then we watched the WKUK video on youtube in 2007. Then we traveled back to 2006 to write the show for its 2006 theatrical premiere.  Why we used time travel to write a silly vampire movie and not advance human knowledge, I’ll never be sure. Either way our time machine got stuck only going to the future and Ethan is trapped living underground with a race of violent beings.

Or

A:  I like traffic lights. But not when they’re red.

Q: Where are all the gore and blood effects?

A: In the deleted scenes on the DVD, there is a cut scene where Claudio murders the cast of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream as well as Romeo and Juliet.  We took the scenes out for time. There is only a finite amount of time a person can sit watching a silly comedy.  In hindsight, we were glad we didn’t have any gore or boobs. A company offered to distribute the movie if we added that stuff, but we told them no. Hamlet The Vampire Slayer is the silly comedy it’s intended to be. Trying to be like any other movie would take away from that aspect. It’s better make a movie that people either absolutely love or absolutely hate than something mediocre and forgettable.

Or:

A: We forgot to film them!

Q: What’s with the Mammy doll?

A: Gertrude’s disregard for kingdom as she fills her needs before the needs of her people…

A: I found a twinkie!

A: Excuse me, I’m talking here.

A: I think it’s still good. It’s only a little squished from being in between the couch cushions.

A: I don’t know why I even try…

Q: Why did you take liberties with Hamlet, one of the greatest plays of all time?

A:  Obliviously, with a title called Hamlet The Vampire Slayer we were going for winning the Oscar. With movies like the Twilight series sweeping the Oscars, we had to do something to raise the stakes. Getting some of that bard action will definitely make our movie a serious contender against the Twilight series. I can sleep better at night knowing I am faithful to Shakespeare’s true intentions of helping me win an Oscar.

Or

A: We made a silly comedy and try not to over think it too much. After all comedy is a social sanction for inflexible behavior.  Wait no, I’m the dumb answer. I like kitties!

Public Reactions

Hamlet The Vampire Slayer really came from love of comedy. We were a sketch comedy theatre troop who wanted to preserve one of our favorite shows on film. When I was writing with the Eat, Drink and Be Larry (the sketch team), we always served the comedy first. For me, it was growing up watching Monty Python and movies like Airplane! I finally had an artistic venue to create that type of humor myself. But I always remember a friend of mine who hated the Holy Grail. He hated a movie that made me laugh hundreds of times over. I never understood how someone could hate Holy Grail especially a movie that truly was my Holy Grail.

Hamlet The Vampire Slayer is by no means comparable to Holy Grail. Let’s be honest, Hamlet does have jokes that fall flat while Holy Grail is really a work of pure genius. We were really inexperienced filmmakers and plagued with issues like sound (such as the poor quality in the basketball scene). But Hamlet TVS does at least inspire the same love/hate reaction. Reading the comment sections of the Obscurus Lupa Presents review really displays the love/hate. I am happy people react with such gusto to a film Graham Chapman dressed as a general would attempt to cancel for being too silly.

Here are some of my favorite love/hate comments about Hamlet The Vampire Slayer (names have been omitted to protect the innocent):

“There is nothing awesome about this movie.”

“It’s clearly supposed to be retarded in that Bill and Ted kind of way, in fact I’m pretty sure it copies Bill and Ted in some places.  But for that to work, the actual writer can’t be retarded.”

“I’ll stick with REAL Hamlet movies like “The Last Action Hero”, Thank you very much.”

“Uh… this exists?”

“Hamlet the Vampire Slayer??? AWESOME!!”

“this movie offends and irritates me.”

“I just can’t be mad at it, or even annoyed. It looks like it was made with love. And they might have made a very dumb movie, but at least they decided to do so and went all out, which is commendable, I suppose.”

“OH MY GOD THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST WRETCHED MOVIES I’VE EVER SEEN.”

“That movie looks…… AWESOME! All of the things in the movie looks so stupid and retarded that it has reached the level of pure art.”

“I call on the blessed trinity of Olivier, Jacobi and Branagh to smite this film with holy fire – preferably while speaking in iambic pentameter!”

“I think the place where I just absolutely lost my ability to criticize it was when Hamlets Dad-Ghost appeared, and he went “Imagine you are the monkey” in that completely matter of fact, serious tone.”

The Traveler is out!

My band, Spiral, has finished the follow up album to the “The Capital in Ruins”. We want your help getting the word out about the album. It’s released as “pay what you can”. This means you can pay zero to get the album for free or give us a couple of dollars to help advertise the album. Thank you for all your support.

You can download the album here: http://thespiral.bandcamp.com/

In the mean time, enjoy the preview video: