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October 10, 2008:

OVER THE WEATHER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, have you ever tried writing notes whilst a car alarm is blaring relentlessly? I ask you, where else on all the Internet can you read such a sentence? Nowhere, that’s where. Yes, Virginia, a car alarm is wailing and it’s but a few paces from my home environment and it is really irritating and it makes one want to become a serial killer or, at the very least, a cereal killer. There, finally, the car alarm has ceased its nasty business and I can think clearly once again. Well, not completely clearly, as my throat is still bugging me and I feel logey and lethargic, not necessarily in that order and I am definitely under the weather when I would much prefer to be over the weather. Over The Weather, of course, was a very highly thought of Meltz and Ernest song.

Somewhere over the weather
There’s no flu
No one ever has colds and
Sore throats don’t bother you

Where runny noses never run
Where upset tummies are undone
Forever
Where vomiting is so passé
And diarrhea runs away
And heartburn? Never!

Somewhere over the weather
I am well
And this yucky old feeling
Simply can go to hell

If yucky feelings go to hell
Then I’ll be feeling well, yes, feeling well.

That was a fine Meltz and Ernest song, wasn’t it? What the HELL am I going on about? Don’t I have notes to write? You see what happens when a car alarm distracts you? Speaking of a car alarm, yesterday was a fine little day, save for my being under the weather. I got up, did the long jog, which I thought would be difficult given the way I felt, but that was surprisingly easy, then I answered e-mails, and shaved and showered. I then toddled off to a work session with the singer I’m helping. We did a sing-through of the entire show with all the patter, and while there are a few things to smooth out, the show definitely has a point and structure and it’s all going to work just fine. I futzed with some small arrangement things, adjusted some of the patter, and began the process of getting into the performances of the material. Next week we start the fun stuff – directing the show, getting the pace right, and working on the interpretation of the material. After the two-hour session, I came back to the Valley and did some errands, then decided to make chicken stroganoff without rice or noodles. I bought the ingredients, came home, did some work on the computer, practiced some of the Nudie Musical songs on the piano, and then cooked my dinner and broke my Yom Kippur fast. It was a lot of food, but my goodness it was yummilicious. Happily, the chicken isn’t really fattening, nor are the onions and mushrooms, and the sauce really isn’t bad at all, and I used half the amount of ingredients that I normally do. I think the whole thing was probably under a 1000 calories, at least by my addition, although I’m just guessing at the calorie count of the chicken. I had one piece of bread with it, no butter, and some carrots. For dessert I had four chocolate licorice Twizzlers. After that, I finally sat on my couch like so much fish, sucking on a few Ricola drops during the evening.

Last night, I watched three motion pictures on DVD and they were all entitled Touch Of Evil, a film of Orson Welles, starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Dennis Weaver, Joseph Calleia, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Marlene Dietrich, and, of course, Orson Welles. I can’t really remember the first time I ever saw Touch of Evil, but it must have been on TV sometime in the late 1960s. I really love the film – I think Mr. Welles’ direction is superb, and the actors, each and ever one, turn in terrific performances. Welles has never been better as an actor than as Hank Quinlan, Heston is just right, Leigh is excellent as always, and Joseph Calleia almost walks away with the film, as Quinlan’s right hand man. Also in the film is Mercedes McCambridge in a small role, and let me tell you there has never been an actress quite like her. Dietrich is wonderful in her small part. The film is filled with virtuoso camerawork, a great score by Henry Mancini, and it’s just a unique, one-off film. I first watched the theatrical version, which is the version that played in theaters and which I saw on TV and which I owned in 16mm. I knew that a couple of scenes had been reshot by Harry Keller, but they were really minor, and didn’t hurt the film at all. Then a preview cut of the film was discovered and released on DVD. This was longer by about twelve minutes. It included a long car sequence with Heston and Leigh, but the version of that scene that Welles shot is now lost, and this version is one of the Harry Keller scenes, which are flat and nothing like Welles. After watching those two cuts back to back, I much prefer the tighter 96-minute version. Several years ago, a fifty-eight-page memo written by Welles was found, his reaction to seeing the preview cut (which already had the Keller material in). He begged Universal to make certain changes, few of which they did. About ten years ago, Universal was persuaded to make a new version of the film based on the Welles memo, and Walter Murch was brought in to edit it. Per the Welles memo, the Mancini music which accompanies the incredible opening three minutes, all one continuous shot that covers about three blocks and amazingly intricate camera moves and blocking, was removed and replaced by source music coming from car radios, strip joints, bars, etc. And the main titles, which also ran over the shot were also removed. While this version is the longest of the three cuts at 111 minutes, and does more cross-cutting and shot shuffling, and which also includes the long car scene, I was not that impressed with it when I saw it when the original DVD came out about six years ago, and I was not that impressed with it last night. Maybe I’m just too used to the opening the way I’ve always seen it, but robbed of the Mancini music it just doesn’t have the same feel or the same power. Maybe Welles would have mixed the sound differently or somehow made it work, but it doesn’t work nearly as well in the Murch version – and I missed the main titles. The Murch version is better for having removed the first Keller scene, a conversation with Heston and Leigh in a hotel, but although I can appreciate what Murch and company were trying to do, when all is said and done, the original theatrical version is the one I like best. The transfers are all very nice, as is the mono sound.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I must get my beauty sleep and hopefully I’ll be feeling over the weather when I arise.

Today, I shall do the long jog and then wait for a call from Mr. Grant Geissman about what time we’ll be doing our little demo recording. I think we were originally going to be doing it earlier but something came up and he has a morning appointment now. So, we’ll be playing it by ear, so to speak.

Tomorrow is, of course, our LACCTAA event, and I’m really looking forward to our panel, which includes Bill Ewing (former exec for Columbia Pictures and now an independent writer/producer), Gary Stockdale (Emmy-nominated composer for film and TV, including Penn and Teller’s Bullshit!), Annette Cardona (Cha Cha in the film of Grease), Harrison Page (actor, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Sledge Hammer, E.R., Ally McBeal), Phil Kellard (TV writer/producer), and Marc Wanamaker (president Hollywood Heritage, and the keeper of the biggest archive of LA photographs ever, especially studios and movie theaters). We have one maybe, Jessica Drake (actress, and dialect coach to the stars) – she’s shooting that day, but my be off in time to join us. I urge all our LA hainsies/kimlets to come on down on Saturday, at LACC’s Caminito Theater from one to three.

Sunday, I may be going to a comic book convention to visit a friend, and then Sunday evening I’m seeing a film about LA, a documentary they show every now and then at the American Cinematheque.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, write questions for the panel discussion, hopefully record a demo, and then eat very reasonably. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/video player? I’ll start – DVD, the new edition of Sleeping Beauty. CD, the new Kritzerland release, which will hopefully be officially announced by late afternoon this very day. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hope for a speedy recovery and feeling over the weather.

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