Wednesday, October 30, 2013


75 years ago, on October 30, 1938, a 23-year-old Orson Welles terrified the nation. Kind of.

Inside the CBS building, from the studio on the 20th floor, Welles and his Mercury Theatre On Air team performed the infamous WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast for Sunday night radio listeners.

Welles used radio clips from Herbert Morrison's reporting on the Hindenburg Disaster to illustrate the tone he wanted for the broadcast and writers Howard Koch and Anne Froelick (both of whom became successful screenwriters until they were blacklisted for Communist sympathies) got to work.

Welles, Koch and Froelick structured the re-imagining as a news broadcast with Welles acting as the main narrator. Since it was a sustaining show, it ran without commercial breaks and the uninterrupted flow only heightened the realness of the broadcast.

In the years since the broadcast, the legend that Welles sent the nation into a panic has grown. Slate has a great article on the reality of the situation, which says that pretty much everyone knew it was radio program and wasn't actually happening.

Newspapers were the ones yelling the loudest, but as Slate claims, it was mostly because they were angry that they'd been losing advertising to radio shows and wanted to portray radio newscasts as unreliable. So when they were able to grab hold of something like Welles' WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast, blow it out of proportion and sensationalize it to their benefit, they did.

Neither Welles nor CBS faced any kind of consequences for the program, and the only thing that came of it was that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) determined that "news flashes" were not to be used during fictional programming any longer. One woman did try to sue the network for $50,000 saying the broadcast caused "nervous shock" but that claim was dismissed almost immediately.

CBS still regularly celebrates Welles' WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast and it's been the subject of many stories, articles, TV specials, movies and documentaries. Even though the impact it may have had on that fall night was minimal, it's still regarded as one of the greatest stunts in entertainment history. The facts may have gotten skewered and reactions may have been a bit inflated, but it was still a defining moment that launched the great career of Orson Welles and the rest of the Mercury Theatre group.

Besides, as we all learned from THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE:

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


You remember when I used to talk about Jersey Guy all the time? Well, unfortunately he moved to the other building and I had to abandon my spreadsheet.

At least when we were in the same building, I could use the break room next to his desk as a reason to keep checking. Now that he's in a whole different building that I don't know very well and have absolutely no reason to go in to each day, it's impossible.

So, in my eyes, Jersey Guy is Dead As Fuck. It's pretty sad, but it's time to move on.

Here's the final tally:

Jordan - 9
Lakers - 8
Most Impressive - Michael Jordan 1996 All-Star Jersey
Personal Favorite - Powder Blue, Bo Jackson Kansas City Royals Jersey

It was fun while it lasted Jersey Guy. R.I.P.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Not everything needs a shared universe, but since one company has basically been printing money by doing just that, everyone wants in on the action.

Let’s call it “The Marvel Syndrome.”

That’s not a knock against Marvel by any means, because I love that company. It’s the only publisher I read superhero books from on a regular basis – which, even as low as three or four titles, is still more than the competition. I don’t buy a single monthly DC title.

The Marvel movies have a plan that the studio laid out and is sticking to. Phase 1 started with IRON MAN, then THE INCREDIBLE HULK, IRON MAN 2, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and they all built towards THE AVENGERS.

The studio is currently in the middle of Phase 2 which started with IRON MAN 3, then moves on with THOR: THE DARK WORLD, then CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. All of those lead to THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, which comes out in May of 2015.

The studio built a long-term plan and now they have a shared cinematic universe. It feels very real and the studio, writers, directors and actors have worked very hard to make it feel that way. Every actor that signs on for a Marvel Studios movie, signs a contract that has something like 10 appearances. That basically covers three stand-alone character films, three AVENGERS movies and a handful of appearances for them to pop up in other Marvel movies. It makes it feel real and it’s a nice little surprise when one of the other characters appears on screen – even if it’s only for a second.

DC is haphazardly throwing together their own shared movie universe, but they’re not doing a very good job with it. Ben Affleck (who I actually think will be great in this role) is the new BATMAN, and he’s going head to head with SUPERMAN pretty soon. Of course that means that everything that happened in BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS never happened. Probably anyway. I’m not really sure how that will work. I am certain than in the eyes of Warner Brothers and the SUPERMAN VS. BATMAN movie, everyone is probably just pretending that GREEN LANTERN never happened. It’s kind of a mess over there and probably won’t be straightened out for a while.

Since Marvel has been successful with it, and since Warner Brothers/DC is trying to get it together, every other studio in town is trying to build their own shared universe.

The latest studio to throw out such an idea is Universal, and I kind of hate what they want to do.

Universal wants to resurrect all the classic monsters – The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, and the Bride of Frankenstein – and give them their own AVENGERS-style universe.

I love all the classic monsters and those characters are some of my favorite creations of all time. But they would be terrible now. The guy that is tasked with coming up with a plan for all of them is Roberto Orci and his writing partner Alex Kurtzman – two guys I have very, very little faith in. Let’s take a look at their recent track record:


As much as I liked the first STAR TREK reboot (and thought INTO DARKNESS was pretty good, save for the whole Khan thing), I don’t like what they do with the movies they write. They try too hard to make them bleak and serious, and it just becomes too much. The tone they use for every project is the same and I don’t get excited about anything they're involved with.

The lone bright spot on their resume is FRINGE, which I only saw the first season of. It was pretty good, but not good enough for me to keep going.

Devin Faraci wrote a good piece on this the other day and I encourage you to read it. Essentially, he says that what makes these monsters so special is the make-up, effects and the actors that inhabited them back when they first popped out. There’s no way Universal Studios, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman or any director (save for a few) would let those designs pass today. They’d have to be much scarier and pushed much, much farther.

By doing that, you kind of take away the soul of the characters. He also says that at this point in time, pretty much all of those characters are public domain. I could make a movie with Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster if I wanted to (and now I kinda do).

I’m all for new stories and new movies with those characters – they’re all-time classics that I would be happy to see again. I just don’t want Orci or Kurtzman anywhere near them. But if they do, if they absolutely have to be the guys to make this happen, I’d much rather they focus on trying to tell a good story with one character than worry too much about working them all in.

There’s a small chance that this plan could be great, but I won’t hold my breath.

After all there’s no way in hell that it could be better than the last time we saw all these monsters together in one place. No chance whatsoever.

Never forget.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Back in January, I wrote a little thing about the two different versions of Black Flag that were gearing up to go to battle. Then in May, I updated the story after Greg Ginn's Black Flag posted a new song and the Keith Morris version, just called Flag, posted a video of one of their shows.

Well, after a long hot summer, there's another update to fill you in on.

In August, Greg Ginn - who was already losing the battle because Keith Morris' group had all the cool people in in - decided to file a lawsuit. He was basically trying to bar Morris from using the Black Flag logo, make it hard for his group to tour and play the Black Flag songs and named Henry Rollins in the suit claiming that he and Morris went behind his back to try and copyright the logo or something. Things were said, papers were served and everyone's been fighting behind the scenes ever since.

Yesterday, it ended. For a while, at least.

A U.S. District Court judge in California determined that Ginn's lawsuit was bullshit, that people could tell the difference between the two bands and that Ginn couldn't prove that he alone owned the Black Flag name and/or logo. Bootleg merch had been on the market since 2008 and in 2009 a Japanese company registered the band name. Morris and his lawyers argued that since neither of those things prompted any legal action from Ginn or his label, SST, both had fallen into "generic use."

The judge also stated that no one could clearly determine who the last remaining member of Black Flag actually was and that since they'd filed taxes under the title "Black Flag Partnership," Morris and Rollins had every right to try and trademark the name and logo under that banner.

That last part stemmed from this little gem: "the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;"

The judge basically ruled that Rollins never quit the band, so he was still technically allowed to do whatever he wanted with the name and logo - even if he's not actually in either of the new incarnations.

Here's the rest of the judge's ruling that I got from, who obtained it through Keith Morris' camp.

(1) the court found that SST had no rights in the trademarks;
(2) Ginn seemed to have no individual rights in the Black Flag trademarks;
(3) even if either had had any rights in those marks, they had abandoned those rights through a failure to police the mark for nearly 30 years;
(4) the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;
(5) that even if the plaintiffs had some trademark claim in the marks, there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Black Flag and Flag given the ample press coverage over the dispute; and
(6) the trademark application and registration that Henry and Keith made was done in good faith (e.g. not fraudulently) – and is thus not necessarily subject to cancellation – given that they understood their actions to have been done on the part of the Black Flag partnership (see No. 4, above).

The battle rages on.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about spending my birthday with a bunch of high school kids? It was pretty fun and turned out to be a pretty good read. That was in the middle of my visiting a bunch of haunted houses for City Weekly's Halloween Issue.

That hit the stands yesterday with articles from a bunch of other, far more talented writers than myself. But I may have gotten the most space, so technically I win. Right?

Either way. If you're out and about this weekend, pick up a copy. It'll feel nice to hold a physical copy of something while you read and it won't look like you're just buried in your phone. Or you can click the link below and read it online. I don't really care how these words travel through your eyes and to your brain, but just make sure they do. I had fun writing this piece, so share it with your friends.

City Weekly -- October in Utah brings all the makings of a perfect fall—cooler weather, leaves changing color, the undead roaming parking lots with chainsaws. The state has many horror houses to choose from; here are some of your best options for a haunted night on the town.

Continue reading Haunted Utah at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I love pictures of old Utah. I'm pretty sure this is Main Street around 200 South. No idea how long ago this was taken though.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I seriously doubt anyone still looks at my other blog (Until My Heart Stops), but in the off chance that someone does, I'm making a little update.

This project is still very much alive, it's just not alive in real time. The method used to be that I'd write a piece and post it immediately, but I stopped doing that a long, long time ago. Like 4 years ago. Ooops.

I transferred everything that's on this site to a Google Doc and added every other out of town date that I've played with Cherem, Tamerlane and Aftermath of a Trainwreck. I made little bullet points of things I remembered about each show and have been slowly plugging away at it ever since.

Earlier this year, I got a boring desk job that comes with A LOT of downtime. In some of that downtime, I've been pecking away at these stories and fleshing them out. The last entry that I published (July 19, 2005 - Redlands, CA) is pages 49-50 of that document. I just hit page 116 this morning. Things are moving along nicely.

My goal is to have the whole thing finished by the end of the year. I'll let it sit for a month or so then dive back in for rewrites. I want to make the tone consistent throughout and hit all the little things that I missed along the way - anecdotes, side stories, new recollections, etc.

The plan is to put it together with some fliers, photos, set lists, news articles and things like that and make a nice, limited edition book. Mostly it would be just for the dudes in the band, but depending on how it turns out and how much it costs to manufacture, I might make a few extra available in the off chance that other people want one.

We'll see. I'm determined to get this finished. Whether or not anyone actually sees it is another story all together.

Either way, I'm pretty proud of the progress, so I thought I'd throw it out there. It's kind of like taking a selfie at the gym - if there's no real time record of you doing it, then you didn't really do it in the first place. I didn't make the rules, but that's what they are.

Back to work.