Solar Power In Bizarro World

Look, just because this is being written from a parallel universe, you’d be wrong to think that everyone over here is so totally freaky that you couldn’t possibly carry on a conversation with any of us without a cheat sheet in your breast coat pocket. “There’s more that unites us than divides us.” Isn’t that what the bumper sticker makers say?  Well, I’ve always put my faith in their deep wisdom and I think you should do the same. I’ll give you a ‘for instance’ because over here, just like over there, a quality ‘for instance’ makes everything so much easier to understand.  For instance, don’t assume that we on our side of the wormhole don’t damn well love to see John Wayne punch a hippy in his shaggy face, so we can hear the hairy dude whimper “not cool man” as he collapses like a house of cards onto the Duke’s unswept… Read More…

2015 Tonys: Don’t Sell Your TV Audience Short

Welcome to our newest contributor, veteran Broadway performer, Daniel Marcus! First…Anybody else notice that the schtick that Larry David obviously wrote for himself was the only genuinely clever, smart, slightly daring and actually (I laughed) funny material of the night? For me the high point was easily “Ring of Keys” – the low point-maybe cutting off the applause for “Ring of Keys” to do an E.T. gag that was there to patronize a tv audience who let’s face it-know what they’re turning on. The Tonys are always (and always have been) the lowest rated of the big 5 tv award shows (Oscars/Emmys/Golden Globes/Grammys) and the networks keep the show because that small 7,000,000 number of watchers belong to the most desirable upscale educated demographic-the hardest group to get to on commercial network television. And so they remain on network tv. So why dumb-down? I mean-of course I understand this biz…. Read More…

Kicking Oscar Out of the Bingo Hall: Creating February Madness for the Academy Awards

I knew last night seemed familiar as the Academy Awards dripped by.  I was once again trapped in the living room of my grandmother’s 1974 Florida mobile home.  The room was stuffy; there was nowhere to go, even shuffleboard or laps on the awesome giant tricycles were forbidden to all under 65–and the pond had gators, reportedly. Last night I watched my 40th consecutive Oscars.  It began when I was in fifth grade with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest sweeping the major awards.  With the advent of cable TV’s 400 more channels, Twitter-feeds and on-demand viewing a lot has changed.  Except for the Oscars. Stuck in Lawrence Welk-Land It still starts at 8:30 pm, still runs past midnight due to the the Death Valley of songs, oddball tributes and eternal commercials somewhere half-past “It’s-gotta-be-over-soon” o’clock.  There is still the same generally awkward monologue/opening number—with a brief 1990s hiatus of Billy Crystal between rotating comedians who all get trashed the next day.  Every year there are minor tweaks—for example, last… Read More…

Pick the Oscar Winners and Become the Next MMD Podcaster!

Predict how tonight’s ceremonies will go! Will it be a laugh-riot or a slow-motion train wreck? At least this year, there’s less certainty of the 1-2 front-runners.  But with John Travolta’s famous mispronunciation last year along with Kim Novak’s awkward moment, there’s always more to watch than the happy and pretending-to-be-happy faces of the nominees. The winner (or winners) will be invited to join us on our post-op podcast this week! Loading…   For some other Oscar-related posts… Kale Davidoff’s review of Whiplash Our 2014 Post-Oscar Podcast–covering the highs, lows and bizarres Steve Palizzi’s fun 2014 Oscar-picks Robert Phillips examines Seth MacFarlane’s 2013 (and only) Oscar hosting gig Kevin Walsh’s Voyeuristic Oscar favorites

Assassins & Teamwork: Filmmaking (and Break-Making) for Cooper Brothers’ Film “Five Windows”

Sometimes, feeling useless can feel quite nice–particularly on a movie set.  Hurry-up-and-wait sums it up, of course.  But if you’re just lurking like I tend to do, watching former students do their thing, you can be quite invisible and love every minute of it. As an extra in Gran Torino, on the other hand, I felt useless even though I did have a job to do.  I was told to walk down the street toward the Grosse Pointe hardware store and act like that wasn’t Clint Eastwood in front of me.  It took me five times, but I did it.  And when the camera stopped rolling, I quickly came to realize that I wasn’t a person, really–I was a prop, a prop that could be replaced much easier than the rake in the window I was instructed to examine, pretending that wasn’t Clint Eastwood in front of me. In the clip below, I’m the blurry guy on the right walking my usual odd… Read More…

The Consolidated States of America

This past summer the kids and I took our annual trip to the beach in North Carolina from Connecticut.  We decided to play the old license plate game along the way.  Of course, the kids added a new media twist to it using an app.  As we ventured down the east coast and tracked our states we started to question why there were so many states.  Why was Rhode Island an actual state?  No offense the Dakotas, you are awfully small. 3 teenagers and a preteen quickly reeducated me in the history of the United States, the colonies and how we came to be.  The capitalist and cost optimizer in me then challenged them with new thinking.  What if you had to start over today in 2014?  Would you have this many states and if so, why, and if not, what would you do.  As we checked the list of… Read More…

“God, I Love My Job!” Welcoming Mistakes and Exploding Stuff – The Life of Sound FX Guru–Ric Viers

Listen to Kevin’s podcast with Ric Viers…   Perhaps it’s osmosis, but Ric Viers has noticed that his son seems to have his dad’s ear.  In the middle of The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies, there is a Foley mistake–a sword that didn’t clash to the ground.  “And I saw it and I just kind of smiled, but before I could even say anything, my kid leans over and says, ‘Dad, they forgot one of the sound effects.’” After years of on-the-job training, sound effects expert Viers has learned valuable lessons for not just audio but life, not the least includes keeping ones car keys in the refrigerator. Owner of the world’s largest collection of sound-effects, The Detroit Chop Shop, Ric Viers was a guest speaker in November for Detroit area student filmmakers.  The author of the best-selling books The Sound Effects Bible (2008) and The Location Sound Bible (2012), he shared his war-stories and provided tips included in his easy-to-read and… Read More…

New Podcast – Life Lessons & Sound FX with Ric Viers

    Veteran film and TV sound expert Ric Viers, author of The Sound Effects Bible and The Location Sound Bible, joins Kevin Walsh following a workshop Ric gave to Michigan high school students on his 10 Location Sound Commandments, which offer important life-skills as well. They discuss: Soft Skills and Reputation-how the most skilled person on the set may not be the one who stays on the set. How Does One Begin as a Sound Guy? Fatherhood and the osmosis of sound-awareness Gathering sound-effects (and where to leave your keys) Publishing a book (after finding a niche) The “Oh Crap” Kit Check out Ric’s page on Amazon as well as his own website, www.RicViers.com

“If a Tweet Falls in the Forest…” Life without Applause-Signs, Laugh-Tracks & Likes

It’s often not so much what happens in our lives—as what we figure ought to happen.  If no one likes this post, did it fail? I started noticing  camera-angles and how they manipulated the audience far too early in my life–especially for the poor bystanders who were stuck in a living room, basement or movie theater with me. The Cosby Show, for all of its garish sweaters and too-good-to-be-true charm of a doctor/lawyer upper-middle class family, was a breakthrough on many levels—it revitalized the sit-com and finally placed a TV African-American family out of the ghetto—if you bypass George Jefferson moving on up. But what I noticed immediately, from my hero of a dozen scratched LP comedy albums, was the cutaway to Clair—Cliff Huxtable’s long-suffering wife who managed to smile through the monologues.  You’ll see it in every episode, the need for the reaction shot—generally Phylicia Rashad or one of the kids letting… Read More…

Superhero Halftime: What “Guardians” Says About Our Galaxy

We live in an absolutely ridiculous time for geeks. If you were to create an historic timeline of superhero films, you could try and pinpoint the turning point with X-Men or Spider-Man. Around the turn of the century, when those films were released, the blockbuster world slowly began to turn on its head. In the 90s, the basis for most action movies was one of the following: (1) CIA agent, (2) rogue cop, (3) two unlikely cop partners teaming up for an action-comedy. After Sam Raimi’s success with Spider-Man, everyone and their uncle had to get their hands on some hot superhero action. But it wasn’t always pretty. For whatever reason, the studios knew that there was a market out there for all and everything superheroes, but they just couldn’t seem to nail it. Because where Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer found a formula that worked, other films like Fantastic Four, Daredevil and The Hulk failed to do… Read More…

There Be Dragons in Minnesota: A Late Review of the Series “Fargo”

The season finale of Fargo aired last night, and what better time to review it than when it’s off network television? Of course, you may find it on Hulu, on Amazon Prime, or any of the other online venues.  And you should. For the past ten weeks, it was one of the two best shows on television with dragons.  OK, no dragons really.  No vampires…no ghost hunters and no real housewives of Bimidji, Mn. (where the show takes place). Every episode begins with the caption “This is a True Story,” which it is not. Yet despite all these outward trappings of reality it remained strikingly imaginative and clever. The series featured a female lead, a deputy who was politely smarter than all the guys in the room, and, surprisingly, it became to an extent a show about how we define “manhood.” That is, with a capital M, complete with squinting, hiking up pants… Read More…

Garage Sale Ethics: Lessons Learned Over 40 Years

It’s like a slow-motion drive-by shooting, only less friendly.  They are the dealers—the arch-enemy of the true garage-saler. You’re sitting on your lawn-chair beside three coffee makers, two toaster ovens and half an illegal lawn jart set. Your garage sale just opened at 9 AM. You know it’s 9 AM because the dealers have been knocking on your door for a solid hour. “Do you mind if I take a quick look?” “I’ve got to take my son to daycare, but I’d love to see what you’ve got.” “Come on, you’re up anyway! Open up!” For the rest of that Friday morning and into the afternoon, you’ll get to relive that wonderful grade school feeling of being passed over for the kickball. Cars crawl by and decide if you’re worth choosing or not. Some drivers might politely nod, some avoid eye contact. Some just stare at you like you’re trying… Read More…

Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence: What’s in a Smile at Graduation Time?

I hadn’t seen this smile from my son in a long time… As you might expect, we don’t dress this formally around the yard most days. It was prom night last Thursday and Aidan and his date Katie had just finished twelfth grade two days earlier. And, aside from the $200+ to rent the tux, we also got this pretty rare expression thrown in with the shiny shoes. In fact, perhaps the last time we’d seen that smile was right before Aidan started his career as a student… We were heading down to Indianapolis to visit some friends and stopped at a rest stop to find one of those trees that you’ll spend the rest of your life just walking by. I grabbed Aidan and stuck him up in the branches and you’d think he’d just been taken to Disney World. One of my favorite Mark Twain nuggets is: “Why… Read More…

Hollywood’s Spring Training – Saturday’s 46th Michigan Student Film Festival (Great Seats Still Available–and They’re Free!)

Two events, besides roller coasters,  when people don’t mind long lines:  movies and sporting events.  People will drive 24 hours through the night to get a glimpse… Spring training.  Your team’s undefeated… There’s sunshine, plenty of seats available, a great overall vibe… And it’s the only time you can get close enough to some celebrities–some even before they’re famous. But you can save yourself the long drive down I-75, the sunblock and even the price of admission–and do a lot to encourage some future filmmakers as well. In the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), there are many who want STEAM instead–remembering the important “A” for arts.  And this Saturday just down Woodward Avenue, you can see STEAM in at its very best. The 46th annual Michigan Student Film Festival takes place from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of… Read More…

Old Passions in New Hands: The Ausmus-Abrams Effect on the Tigers and Star Wars

Opening Day has always been much more than the start of a new baseball season. For the players and teams, it marks a new opportunity. For some, it is a chance to put physical or statistical shortcomings behind them. For others, it’s finding someway to harness past success and release it in time for a brand new campaign. And for many, it’s the first taste of playing in front of the tall buildings. From the fan perspective, Opening Day is a celebration of the past, and a time to party and look towards the possibilities of the future. Who will surprise? Who will disappoint? Is our team destined for play in October? Here in Detroit, I don’t think there’s been a more intriguing Opening Day than this year’s in 2014. Considering what Jim Leyland did here in his eight seasons of managing and considering what he didn’t accomplish, Brad Ausmus… Read More…

For Those Who Don’t Speak Spy: The Case for “World is Not Enough”

Chanukah 2000 was a pivotal moment in my life. One of those fulcrums in the space-time continuum. I remember it vividly. My family was in Memphis, Tennessee visiting my cousin. The trip marked my first time in Memphis, which would spark an interest and appreciation for the blues and Elvis Presley that would stretch well into later years; motivating more trips to the heart of the mid-South and grizzly versions of “Heartbreak Hotel” at karaoke bars across the nation. In addition to those very cultural pillars established that Chanukah, I received two gifts that would mold my childhood and shape much of my adolescence and adulthood. We don’t really do gifts anymore on Chanukah, and I appreciate that, because that’s not what the holiday is about, but as a kid, I would not complain, for Chanukah in 1998 I received two video games for my then-brand-new N64. The first was… Read More…

In Flipper’s Footsteps by Brian d’Arcy James

From time to time, I help my cousin Brian d’Arcy James keep his website updated, and this recent post he wrote struck me as a perfect nostalgia article for “My Media Diary,” and for all those who grew up with 1960s TV (or its reruns).  So am sharing it with this blog’s audience. —Laura W. C. Fields is famously credited with this warning to all:  “Never work with children or animals.” My Uncle Brian was more specific: “Never act with a fish.” Let me explain. My namesake and my uncle, Brian Kelly, was an actor. He was a big reason why I do what I do today. He showed me that being an actor was not only possible, but also could be a viable profession. He gave me many tips and insights about the business I’m currently in, either explicitly or by example. However, the most memorable, if not best… Read More…

Support the Next Spielberg: The Michigan Student Film Festival and Joining DAFT

Support the Michigan Student Film Festival by December 31st to be eligible for a 2013 deduction by clicking here. Not a bad vibe.  A room full of students who had just been honored at the 45th Michigan Student Film Festival talking with a past winner, soon to be premiering Pixar’s latest hit, Monsters University. In May, Dan Scanlon, of Clawson High School, flew in from Hollywood  carrying with him a special showing of Monsters University–nearly a month before its release.  Pixar allows its directors to select a charity for a special screening benefit and Dan selected three non-profits:  the Assistance League, Friends of Detroit Film Theatre and Digital Arts – Film & Television (DAFT). Mr. Scanlon was only nine when DAFT first recognized his gifts of storytelling and animation.  Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press noted: DAFT board member John Prusak, an award-winning cinematographer, was one of Scanlon’s early… Read More…

Walt, Jim and George: The Wonder of Storytelling

I just saw “Saving Mr. Banks”. To my surprise, it was nothing like “Saving Private Ryan”. Regardless, it was a good flick. Without spoiling much, Walt Disney ends up convincing writer P.L. Travers to hand over the rights to her beloved “Mary Poppins”. Throughout the film, Ms. Travers struggles in letting her characters go to be turned into a typical, jolly, Disney musical filled with laughter, joy, cheer, redemption—all of the things that Ms. Travers knows all too well rarely find their way into the truths of the world. There is a line in the film, where Ms. Travers is told that Dick Van Dyke, “one of the greats”, will be playing the character of Bert. Her response is that of pretentious laughter as she tells her silly American counterparts that Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness are the greats, not slap-stick-happy Dick Van Dyke. At which point, I wanted to… Read More…

Mad Magazine’s 1976 Christmas Issue: Still Relevant, Still Memorized–Years Later

*Per a few requests, another omitted ditty was added below.  –Kevin 12/24/14 It was a Christmas party when my wife first called me “The King of Useless Information.” I fell into the trap and correctly answered the question, probably too quickly, “Who played Gopher on Love Boat?” Fred Grandy. Who didn’t know that?? But the title really had its roots in 1976, the year I began collecting Mad magazines as a fifth grader while waiting for my mom in the checkout at the A&P. Like my son’s favorite episodes of South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons, each issue is a time capsule of current events and a cross-section of American culture and attitudes. Just skimming the cover of the January 1977 issue that came out in late November of 1976, the clever artwork depicting Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers exchanging D-cells was worth it enough. But then to glance… Read More…