Friday, May 30, 2008

Dream Theater in DC

I finally got to see one of my favorite bands, Dream Theater, live on Memorial Day in DC at the DAR Constitution Hall during their Progressive Nation Tour featuring their newest album, Systematic Chaos. I was able to catch some of their music on video, and attached some pictures afterwards with another one of their songs. Although the video came out pretty well, I think the audio was too overwhelming for my little microphone (it was a VERY loud concert). Anyhow, I hope you enjoy my images from the concert.

Songs featured: 2001 Space Odyssey; In the Presence of Enemies, Pt. 1; Scene Two: Overture 1928

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Original Star Trek Loses Two Mainstays

"Star Trek" theme composer Alexander Courage dies


Alexander "Sandy" Courage, an Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated arranger, orchestrator and composer who created the otherworldly theme for the classic "Star Trek" TV show, has died. He was 88.

Courage died May 15 at the Sunrise assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, his stepdaughter Renata Pompelli of Los Angeles, said Thursday. He had been in poor health for three years.

Over a decades-long career, Courage collaborated on dozens of movies and orchestrated some of the greatest musicals of the 1950s and 1960s, including "My Fair Lady," "Hello, Dolly!" "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Gigi," "Porgy and Bess" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

But his most famous work is undoubtedly the "Star Trek" theme, which he composed, arranged and conducted in a week in 1965.

"I have to confess to the world that I am not a science fiction fan," Courage said in an interview for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television in 2000. "Never have been. I think it's just marvelous malarkey. ... So you write some, you hope, marvelous malarkey music that goes with it."

Courage said the tune, with its ringing fanfare, eerie soprano part and swooping orchestration, was inspired by an arrangement of the song "Beyond the Blue Horizon" he heard as a youngster.

"Little did I know when I wrote that first A-flat for the flute that it was going to go down in history, somehow," Courage said. "It's a very strange feeling."

Courage said he also mouthed the "whooshing" sound heard as the starship Enterprise zooms through the opening credits of the TV show.

"Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry later wrote lyrics to the tune, which were never sung on the show but entitled him to half the royalties, Courage said.

Among the many other projects Courage worked on was the 1987 TV special "Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas," for which he won an Emmy for musical direction.

He and Lionel Newman shared Academy Award nominations for their adapted scores for 1964's "The Pleasure Seekers" and 1967's "Doctor Dolittle."

A friend and colleague of movie composers John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, he also provided the orchestration for such movies as "The Poseidon Adventure," "Jurassic Park," "Basic Instinct" and "The Mummy" and supplied arrangements for the Boston Pops while Williams was conductor in the 1980s and early 1990s.

For "Star Trek" he composed music for only a few episodes, in addition to the theme and the music for the pilot. But that theme was reprised in the TV sequel "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and in the "Star Trek" movies.

Courage was born Dec. 10, 1919, in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey. After graduation from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., in 1941, Courage enlisted in the Army Air Corps.

After the war, he became a composer for CBS radio shows and then became an orchestrator and arranger at MGM.

Beginning in the 1960s he composed music for TV shows, including "The Waltons," "Lost in Space" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," although the only themes he created were for "Star Trek" and "Judd For the Defense."

'Star Trek' director Joseph Pevney dies at 96

Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:31:13 PM

Joseph Pevney, who directed some of the best-loved episodes of the original "Star Trek" television series, has died. He was 96.

Pevney died May 18 at his home in Palm Desert, said his wife, Margo.

Pevney directed 14 episodes of the 1960s series, including "The City on the Edge of Forever," in which Capt. Kirk and Spock travel back in time to the Depression, and "The Trouble With Tribbles," in which the starship Enterprise is infested with cute, furry creatures.

Pevney loved the series, said his son, Jay.

"He was surprised at the longevity of it because it was not a popular series at the time; it hit its real popularity (in syndication) after it was over," he said.

Pevney directed with precision and was highly organized "but he was very relaxed -- in fact, jovial -- in the way he directed," said George Takei, who played Sulu. "I enjoyed working with him."

Pevney had made his movie debut playing a killer in 1946's "Nocturne." As an actor, he made several other film noir appearances but then turned to directing with 1950's "Shakedown."

Pevney went on to direct more than 35 films, including two memorable movies from 1957: "Man of a Thousand Faces," which starred James Cagney as silent star Lon Chaney, and "Tammy and the Bachelor," a romantic comedy starring Debbie Reynolds that spawned her No. 1 hit record, "Tammy."

In the 1960s and '70s Pevney turned to television, directing dozens of episodes of series such as "Wagon Train," "Fantasy Island," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Trapper John, M.D."

He retired in 1985.

Born in 1911 in New York, Pevney began his entertainment career as a boy soprano in vaudeville. For several years in the 1930s and '40s, he acted in or directed Broadway productions. He came to Los Angeles after serving in the Army in World War II.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jackson, del Toro Talk Hobbit

by Peter T. Chattaway | posted 05/27/08

Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro held an online chat with Tolkien fans this past weekend about their upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit, as well as the as-yet-untitled Hobbit sequel.

Among other things, Jackson, who is producing the films, and Del Toro, who is directing them, discussed the differences in tone between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; the need to make sure that Smaug becomes the all-time definitive movie dragon; their desire to keep the "idiosyncrasies" of Tolkien's narrative; and the sorts of things that Gandalf and Gollum might be up to in the second film.

"I'm just pleased to be getting Gandalf the Grey back for two more movies," said Jackson. "Ian [McKellen] and I loved him best. We were a little sad when . . . Gandy the White took over." Del Toro, meanwhile, noted that "Gollum has a rather fascinating arch [sic] to go through" and alluded to the character's "alliance to Shelob or his period of imprisonment in Thranduil's, etc"—but then he cautioned that it was too early to talk about the details, lest he "tie our hands."

Del Toro also noted that "greed" provides the thematic thread that unites the story, linking both Smaug and the dwarves: "Bilbo's 'Letting go' and his noble switching of sides when the dwarves prove to be in the wrong is [the theme's] conceptual counterpart (that is a hard one to get through, Bilbo's heroism is a quiet, moral one) and the thematic thread reaches its climax in the Bilbo / Thorin death bed scene."

In related news, Variety noted in passing last week that Jackson and del Toro have contacted not only McKellen and Andy Serkis about playing Gandalf and Gollum again, but they have also contacted Viggo Mortensen about reprising the role of Aragorn, a character who does not appear in the book version of The Hobbit; and the Times of London says Ian Holm, who played an older Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings, "is expected to narrate" the new films.

Meanwhile, speaking of greed, MGM executives were quoted last week speculating that there might be more than one sequel to The Hobbit. "There's 80 years between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings," said MGM CEO Harry Sloan. "Think of the franchise."

One person who doesn't want to think of the franchise is Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R., who is calling for "one last crusade" to prevent The Hobbit and its sequel from being filmed, according to the Times of London.

The younger Tolkien, 83, has sued the studio for £80 million (about $160 million) that he says he is owed under the deal his father made when he sold the film rights in 1969. And on June 6, he plans to ask a California judge to support his claim that he can "terminate" the film rights to The Hobbit.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Honor of Memorial Day

I play as a substitute member in the Woodbridge Flute Choir, and at a recent Flute Choir Festival, all the Flute Choirs joined to play "America the Beautiful." It was wonderful playing with 40-50 flautists, covering all members of the flute family (piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, contrabass flute) in this arrangement. I put the music to some corresponding images. Enjoy for Memorial Day!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Very Cool Sculpture Using Used Car Parts!

As many of you know, I'm a big Transformers fan. Here is something I came across, someone with skill and too much time on their hands created a 7-foot tall sculpture of Optimus Prime. COOL.

7-Foot Optimus Prime Constructed From Old Car Parts

When cars die, they don't go to some magical car heaven (except for hybrids, maybe). But the best, luckiest ones just might become Transformer replicas. Standing at 87 inches tall and weighing a respectable 485 pounds, this Optimus Prime statue is a probably the most compelling argument for recycling we've ever seen. And its leg detail is as incredible as the torso:

At $4,838.71 (plus shipping, of course), we'd say that this hand-crafted Transformer has a downright reasonable price. But that's not going to help one bit as we pitch the spouse on another car...that can't actually run. [Robot Models via GeekAlerts]

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Alyce Metallo Headlines Military Appreciation Event

(Nashville, Tenn.) May 5th, 2008 – Up-and-coming new artist Alyce Metallo, formerly known as Ruth Alyce Jones, will be performing at the upcoming 2008 Military & Veterans Appreciation Event held at the renowned Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception this May 14th at 8:00pm.

The concert, sponsored by the Virginia National Medical Group will feature the unveiling of an arrangement of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” written by Metallo especially for this event. Metallo will be featured alongside of the VA National Medical Chorale and Symphony Orchestra conducted by Victor Wahby. The evening will also include Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry, A&E's Bill Kurtis, actors Arnie Hudson and Michael York, Tenor SFC Antonio Giuliano and Good Morning Vietnam's Adrian Cronauer.

Metallo is currently touring her debut self-titled album and is receiving raves that include a recent Momentum Award win of “Urban Artist of the Year” at this year’s 3rd annual Indieheaven Summit in Franklin, TN. Metallo also recently performed along with American Idol Season Six finalist Melinda Doolittle for 50 wounded United States soldiers at the residence of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Musically inclined since childhood, Metallo, a classically-trained pianist, has garnered an impressive lineup of credits. Metallo has held a choir slot alongside the likes of Luther Vandross, Diana Ross and Kenny Rogers at Bill Clinton's inauguration, a return engagement to the White House as a choir director for VH1's Save the Music with John Mellencamp, plus multiple appearances with that same star and Stevie Wonder at School Night. Add to that a private performance for Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., an appearance at National Building Museum with Bill Cosby (benefiting Fight For Children), numerous Kennedy Center concerts (alongside Vanessa Williams, Yolanda Adams, Regina Belle and Richard Smallwood), plus a twelve date performance tour throughout Europe (with a prestigious "International Song of Peace" Award from Ireland to her credit) and Metallo's earned her artistic stripes with an unflinching commitment to the performance arena. Metallo’s album is available on both and

For more information on Alyce Metallo, check out

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Monday, May 05, 2008

More Hobbit News

Del Toro Talks Hobbit, McKellen Returns
The director discusses the direction of the upcoming movie and sequel; Sir Ian to reprise role as Gandalf.
by Josh Hurst | posted 05/05/08

Last week, we reported that Guillermo del Toro—director of films like Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth, and long-rumored to be Peter Jackson's choice to direct The Hobbit—was officially confirmed as the helmer for the two-part Lord of the Rings prequel. This week, the man himself has spoken with MTV about the direction in which he'll take the franchise, addressing some fan concerns.

Del Toro knows that he has big shoes to fill, and that it will be a challenge to make these films his own. The director confirms that he will be creating "a large portion" of new creatures and locales for the film, but also that he is "very comfortable living within the walls of the world [Jackson] created during the second half of the second film."

Additionally—and surely to the relief of many fans—del Toro acknowledges that he views The Hobbit as, primarily, a children's story.

And that second film, the one that fits between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring? Del Toro says it will be about "the transition from the golden years to the rise of Sauron. It's essentially the beginning of civil war and uprisings. It's a very interesting time."

The director says he expects to be working with returning Middle-Earthers Andy Serkis (Gollum) and Howard Shore (composer) on this film, though whether Ian "Bilbo Baggins" Holm will be involved is still in question. One cast member, however, has been confirmed: Sir Ian McKellen will indeed be reprising his role as Gandalf in the upcoming films.

Click here to generate your own Hobbit name!

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

`Star Wars' kid Abrams aims to reinvent `Trek' world

By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie WriterThu May 1, 7:28 AM ET

J.J. Abrams grew up more a fan of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo than of James Kirk and his Vulcan buddy Spock. So why is a self-professed "Star Wars" kid directing "Star Trek"?

"It was an opportunity to take what I think has been a maligned world — to sound crass, a franchise — and treat it in a way that made it something that I wanted to see," said Abrams, who recently finished shooting on "Star Trek," due in theaters May 8, 2009. "To take the characters, the thoughtfulness, the personalities, the sense of adventure, the idea of humanity working together, the sense of social commentary and innovation, all that stuff. To take it and apply it in a way that felt genuinely thrilling."

Abrams, creator of TV's "Lost" and "Alias" whose big-screen credits include "Mission: Impossible III," shared some "Trek" thoughts with The Associated Press in an interview to promote the DVD release of his monster movie "Cloverfield."

While he enjoyed the TV show about Capt. Kirk, First Officer Spock and their Enterprise crew mates, Abrams said he was not a rabid fan.

In this age of make-or-break opening weekends, the revival of the franchise seven years after the last movie ("Star Trek: Nemesis") flopped may depend on introducing a new generation to the exploits of the 23rd century explorers rather than just hooking old fans.

"The whole point was to try to make this movie for fans of movies, not fans of `Star Trek,' necessarily,'" Abrams said. "If you're a fan, we've got one of the writers who's a devout Trekker, so we were able to make sure we were serving the people who are completely enamored with `Star Trek.' But we are not making the movie for that contingent alone.

"You can't really make a movie for them. As soon as you start to guess what you think they are going to want to see, you're in trouble. You have to make the movie in many ways for what you want to see yourself, make a movie you believe in. Then you're not second-guessing an audience you don't really have an understanding of."

After the 1960s TV show went off the air, it remained alive in syndication, and the original cast led by William Shatner as Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Spock was reunited for six big-screen movies.

Four more movies followed starring Patrick Stewart and the cast of the 1980s and '90s update "Star Trek: The Next Generation," while the "Trek" universe expanded to include three other TV series.

Abrams' "Star Trek" takes the franchise back to its beginning, with a young cast re-creating the Enterprise crew: Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, Simon Pegg as engineer Scott, John Cho as helmsman Sulu, Zoe Saldana as communications officer Uhura and Anton Yelchin as navigator Chekov.

"It's a chance to see what Kirk and Spock would look like done now," Abrams said. "What's thrilling about it is how great the cast is, how remarkably talented and funny and just spot-on they all are."

Nimoy also reprises his role as the older Spock, though Shatner — whose Kirk was killed at the end of the seventh movie, "Star Trek: Generations" — does not appear.

Abrams would not share plot details, saying only that the movie would remain faithful to the original while breaking new ground in action, drama and visual effects, which are being crafted by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic outfit.

"I feel like this is so unlike what you expect, so unlike the `Star Trek' you've seen. At the same time, it's being true to what's come before, honoring it," Abrams said. "I can say the effects for `Star Trek' have never, ever been done like this. ... I can only tell you the idea of the universe of `Star Trek' has never been given this kind of treatment."

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