Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King Is Dead. Long Live The King.

Greetings friends and foes,
I come to you with great sadness in my heart with the passing of Michael Jackson. This may be a bit of a mess, as I have been crying for a few hours now. I feel it best to write this for posterity sake, and hopefully convey my adoration for the man.

I received a text from Earl at 4:58 that simply said “Michael Jackson just died”. I had just ordered some food at the drive in, and sent out a message on twitter asking for confirmation. Earl called to say he heard it on the radio, and then the text started coming in. Several people seemed to think of me when they heard the news. I don’t find this strange as just two days ago I had sent a message via facebook that said “is listening to THRILLER ma ma sa, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa” and a few days before on Saturday June 20 that said “is a dance dance dance dance dancing machine watch me get down watch me get down as i do do do my thing right on the scene.” Needless to say I am not just a fair weather fan, and would even consider myself a bit of a Jackson apologist though i recognize his multiple eccentricities.

I never would have expected to be this upset. Its strange, I cried when George Harrison died, and also with Johnny Cash, and while both of those gentlemen weigh heavy in my love of music, they both had made their biggest impacts long before I set foot on the planet. While Michael had more than a fair share of success before i was around, I feel like I grew up with the guy. I truly bowed at the altar of Mtv daily, and loved seeing Michael dance.

I very distinctly remember my mother buying a copy of Bad for my older sister and myself, and we danced, and danced, and danced. With as conservative as our household was, I think Michael always got by on the fact that my mother was a big Jackson 5 fan.

The very first time I ever picked up a camera and tried to make something i was probably 10 or 11. It was a large VHS cam with a VCR backpack. My Aunt Stacy dressed me in a hideous Michael Jackson outfit of a black leather jacket, a cher wig combed out, and some bad makeup. Jesse Daughtery and Anthony Haston wore black sweat suits with panty hose stuffed with socks to add extra arms to their cockroach costumes. We attempted to make a music video/bug spray commercial, to the music of Michael Jackson. We had even rigged up this large piece of styrofoam to give the effect of “The Lean” I have no clue where the tape has gone to, and most of the time I hope it never surfaces. I can’t say at that point i knew what i wanted to do, but it was definitely my first aspiration towards cinema. And who wouldn’t have been inspired by Thriller. It was probably the first time I had seen the names John Landis, or Rick Baker.

Soon after this Dangerous hit. Dangerous always reminds me of my friend Michael Murphree, as he was the first person I knew who got the album on cd, and I listened to it with him on a discman between classes Only a few days before I witnessed what was probably my greatest memory of Michael Jackson.

The Black or White music video was set to premiere across MTV, VH1, and Fox in November i believe. I was at my grandparents house, and all of our extended relatives had been with us all day at some family event. The video starts with Macaulay Culkin playing loud music as George Wendt (or as I knew him at the timeNorm from Cheers). He tells him to turn the music down and go to bed in which Culking plugs in a guitar and blast him to Africa, the Michael comes on to dance his face off. (I know your saying, yah Cameron I’ve seen it). Ah but you have not seen the aftermath that i witnessed in my grandparents home. Everyone is watching, and though they may not enjoy the music they marvel at the morph scene (as we all did during that time). Then it gets wild. A black panther walks out and morphs into Michael Jackson. He proceeds to dance and grab his crotch, and then beat the shit out a car. My grandfather became extremely angry and started to leave the room, and then all of the adults spent the next half hour talking about how disgusted they were.

This however was the greatest thing I had ever seen. It was sexual, it was violent, it was Dangerous. At ten years old it was more than I could grasp, nor would i get the chance to digest it. The video was not shown again in full. All subsequent cuts that broadcast in the following weeks were trimmed and even added some racist spray paint to the car to make it ok for him to beat he windows out. People were going nuts, and I finally had found a musician that my parents and grandparents hated that I adored. It was the first of many, but Michael Jackson was the first time I saw rebellion in music.

He was everything I love in showmanship and grandeur. If you don’t believe me watch him catapulted to the stage in Super Bowl 27 and land stiff as a board to just hold the pose. He owned it.

Its strange, how much Michael has been in my view this week. The above mentioned messages went out as I was listening to his records. I watched the tail end of the Jacksons mini series with Jessica and I was explaining to her about his upcoming Paris dates and how badly i wanted to see him before he retired. I showed Marie about a half dozen Jackson 5 videos a few days back, and spent about two hours reading about the guy on Tuesday (largely in part to my all day jam session of Thriller). I now sit watching Mtv the way I remember it, with Michael Jackson videos and Kurt Loder doing commentary.

I feel better in writing this. Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes.

Whose Bad
Cameron McCasland

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Aeroplane Leaves Tonite, Pack Lite.

Greetings Friends and Foes,
Back again to share my exploits over the last few weeks. Everything is nice at the moment, and enjoying the sun on my face as summer comes into its own again.

On Sunday I directed two new "Go Green With Dr. Gangrene" shorts that will be airing on the CW (former WB and home of the frog) as well as on the web a bit later this month. We shot them both at the Parthenon here in Nashville, and they have a WOLFMAN and MUMMY alongside the good Doctor. Unfortunately for us Nurse Moan-Eek is shooting on George Demicks new film Dead Start and missed this batch, but don't fear I'm sure she'll be back next go round. I wrote the Wolfman bit and Larry wrote the Mummy, as always he nailed the delivery and I think everyone is going to love them. Special thanks to Earl, pam, and Brando-Z for filling out hot rubber mask and taking on the heat for donuts and Pepsi. Chris Dotch II and Don Clark made my day much easier, use these people and pay for them.

I spent the rest of the weekend with Jessica and the girls. Roxie seriously is about to walk all on her own, and I hope to everything I get to see it when it happens. Marie took her first steps to me, and It about made me melt. Marie and I went to see Disney/Pixars "UP", which was lovely. She has been saying "Squirrel" for the last few days. Pixar does a great job of telling stories without dialogue which is about the best thing a film maker can do. The only thing that took me out a bit, and oddly enough two other people mentioned this to me, was the dogs flying the airplanes. I was like "Come on." then i thought to myself, you've been perfectly fine for the last hour with a guy walking his entire house on helium balloons and talking dogs and this is what gets you...I got over it.

Lost in all the fanfare is the new Pixar short "Partly Cloudy" which is wonderful and again is the perfect way to tell a story without dialogue. It adds greatly to the Stork myth, and where babies come from. I'm putting my Oscar chip down on this one early as a favorite.

Jessica has began what she calls 'reinvention" which means she wants us all eating healthier and living cleaner. I have no problem with that, but am about sick of hearing about calorie intakes. I could probably stand to lose a few pounds. We have also been debating the merits of Twilight. We have been married six years come Sunday. i love her dearly, even if she supports vampires without capes.

The weekend before I did a bit part in Glen Weiss movie "Thong Girl 4" which while sultry isn't as dirty as the title implies. Its more of a camp comedy with plenty of innuendo. It is most often compared with the Adam West Batman series, and I think that's a good look. I'm pretty much just playing a guy at the strip club, which is a bit strange as this is the first time i was ever in a strip club. Oddly enough the person playing the stripper was Stacey Dixon who is my friend Ben Dixons wife. Ben was on hand and seemingly eating up all the guys hooting at his wife. Stacey is a looker, and I hope Glen has another hit on his hands.

I also did a youtube video you can find at about the Eminem event at the MTV Movie awards. It got a ton of hits and mostly had people telling me how awesome my beard was and how I had alot of dvds.

EZ-CHEWIE got a good blurb from Fan Cinema Today which read "EZ-Chewie is a funny, gummy Star Wars Fan Film". I got a message from another film maker who did a star wars short that said Atom is starting to contact people this week, letting people know if they would be playing at Comic-Con or not, so keep your fingers crossed for me. Its got a modest amounts of hits. I'm also thinking of putting in a festival if I can find a good home for it. Feel free to let me know if you think you know a place.

The Red Bull in The Last Unicorn scares Marie as much as it did myself as a child.

My resolution to try and read two books a month has been holding strong at the halfway point. I have read a few short story collections, and been knocking out a few film books as well. I recently re-read H.G. Wells "Time Machine" and loved it all over again. I am cheating a bit right now, as I have been listening to an Audio book of "Down and Dirty Pictures" by Peter Biskind who wrote "Easy Riders & Raging Bulls". It's a wealth of behind the scenes knowledge on movies I love, though I feel like he really has it out for the brothers Weinstein. As much as I hate the trimming and dubbing of some great Hong Kong cinema, those guys did wonders in the Indie world. I'll reserve my ultimate judgment until I'm finished but so far so good. If anyone has suggestions for me, let it rip. Been trying to do one fiction story, and one film book a month.

I have been a bit guilty lately of not watching as many films as I used to. I used to watch a few movies a day, but now between work, writing, and family commitments i just don't have the energy or can't get excited enough to put in the time. However this week I have been committing myself to some of my favorite foreign cinema. I watched one of my all time favorites Jean Luc Godard's "Breathless" after an argument i had with Jessica. This is pretty much the Ultimate I love you as a woman even if your going to kill me movie. I think its easy for me to relate with Michel as the first lines in the movie are simply "After all, I'm an asshole. After all, yes, I've got to. I've got to!" I pretty much fall in love with Patricia every single time I watch this movie, and it always ends badly for both me and Michel.

Not to be outdone the following night I nestled up to Simone Simon as Séverine Roubaud in "La bête humaine" or the Human Beast. I think this is probably the best of Renoir, though I know many will cite "La Grande Illusion". I feel like I shouldn't love Séverine, but again i follow that path. Masterwork.

Next up was Roberto Rossellini's "The Flowers Of St. Francis". I always come away from this feeling like I may have been better off as a missionary in another place. Its not a secret that for a time i considered this before opting for a different future. All that aside, this is some of the most beautifully photographed scenery in the history of cinema.

Not sure what else i plan on watching this week, but hopefully I'll update again soon. I hope this finds you all well. Special thoughts to the family of the security guard slain today at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. I pray for days without hatred and bigotry, and hope you will all share in that with me.

Cameron McCasland