Friday, December 27, 2013

How do you build a joke?
From the #1 selling comedy writing book on

Monday, December 16, 2013

Check out my newest comedy book, 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Preview of new Hoover book, "Killer Movies"

Here is the cover of my upcoming new book covering thrillers! 
(click to englarge)

Rare Charlie Chaplain photo!
(click to enlarge)

Monday, December 2, 2013

The new promo video for the Number One selling book on writing comedy on 
  The Joke's On You!
Stephen Hoover

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Burbs

Original Art by Shaun Watson:

Quick, what's the best Tom Hanks comedy of the 80's? That's right. It's "The Burbs." Bar none.

Sure, you might be tempted to pick one of Tom Hanks' other string of comedy movies: “ Splash, “ ”Bachelor Party,” ”The Man With One Red Shoe,” “Volunteers,” “The Money Pit,” “Dragnet,” “Big,” “Turner & Hooch,” and “Joe Versus the Volcano," but out of all of those Tom Hanks comedies, it is "The Burbs" that remains as the "send off" movie of the comedy iteration of Tom Hanks' career. After Burbs, Hanks would segue more into romantic comedy, and then finally into drama, and then become the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks we all know today. Hanks would only return to (dark) comedy fifteen years later as the lead in the Coen Bros. remake of "The Ladykillers."

Even though Burbs was released in no mans land in (February 1989) and barely made its money back, it has enjoyed a huge cult following over the past twenty-plus years.  This is due in part of HBO playing it constantly back in the 90's, and its success on home video on VHS, and then dvd.  But WHY has Burbs attained a cult following all these years?

Firstly, it's a very accessible movie.  From the very start of the movie, the audience can immediately figure out the jist of the plot.  Ray Peterson (Hanks) has some very strange new neighbors that nobody on the block can figure out what they are up to.  Just about everyone has had that one (or more) wacky neighbors on their street that was up to only God knows what.  So the audience immediately emphasizes with Ray.  But even then, Ray is just curious.  It is only because of the prodding of his other nosy neighbors, Art, () and Mark Rumsfield (), that Ray decides to snoop on the reclusive new neighbors, The Klopeks.

But it's the little things in "The Burbs" like the "Zoom in on Poodle" shot that fans love.
"Ray, you're chanting!"
Athough the Klopeks don't have much dialogue, the few lines they do like, "It came with the frame," and even a simple "No." are hilarious.
“The Burbs” is one of those rare movies that is a cult movie, but also has crossed over into broad awareness by the general public.  Originally a very modest success, bringing in $49 million worldwide on an $18 million dollar budget, “The Burbs,” much like Universal’s other big cult hit, “Army of Darkness,” made its money via the burgeoning (VHS/Laserdisc) home market of the early 1990s.  “The Burbs” also enjoyed near endless play on pay television and satellite during the 90’s and beyond.
“The Burbs” has picked up a cult following over the past twenty plus years since its release, and you will find a great swath of people that enjoy the movie from all walks of life, not just the usual fringe elements.  Still, Universal Pictures has never released “The Burbs” with any special features aside from one of the alternate endings, and only in 2014 will the Blu-Ray finally be released via a British film company called Arrow Video who has licensed the film from Universal.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mel Brooks interviewed by Conan O'Brien

Comedy legend Mel Brooks sits down and talks with Conan O'Brien for almost an hour and a half.  Epic interview.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blimey Cow

Jordan Taylor and his friends and relatives have a popular YouTube comedy channel called “Blimey Cow.” Over time, they’ve built up quite a following with their short, funny bits opining on modern day life.

Taylor’s hyper/silly delivery makes you wonder if he was homeschooled and has a compelling need to communicate with somebody-- anybody. His comedic rants often have a faith-informed slant to them, and his recent video, “How to talk like a Christian,” manages to cut to the truth of how modern day American evangelical Christians talk, think and act.

Taylor is a college-aged Christian who very cleverly mocks the weirdness of today’s Christians, while still appealing to Christians. That is not an easy thing to do.

Listen, whether or not you have faith in Christ or don’t, the Blimey Cow YouTube channel has a lot of comedic clips to make you laugh. Some of their video titles include “College might be a waste of your time,” “Seven things that won’t be cool in twenty years,” and “My smart phone made me stupid.”
Visit, where new videos are posted each Monday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Arrested Development

Arrested Development is truly one of the best comedy shows ever made. It is unique in the way it presents and disguises its jokes but also in the way it references itself throughout episodes and seasons and thereby gives the viewer the feeling of being in a clique.

Those are some reasons why Arrested Development was always a fan favorite. It was so loved by fans that it made a comeback for a new season this year, which some people regard as the comeback of the decade since the show managed to preserve its entire cast and promised to resume where it left off.
It is debatable whether or not the show manages to have the same effect on its audience but nonetheless the fans seemed mostly happy with the comeback. Let’s leave that all out and point to the core of the show, the sarcastic humor and the fact that is packed with jokes and references in such a way even if you watch the same episode a 3rd or 4th time you can still discover new stuff.

Speaking of the characters, they are by far the best thing about the show. The whole cast is great, and they all work together flawlessly. If I had to choose a favorite it would be Jessica Walter as the mom, Lucille Bluth. Every line she says is clipped with the perfect degree of icy rudeness. She's crude and manipulative, but she manages to see herself as classy and victimized. One of my favorite lines in the whole series is when GOB is tackled for bringing bees into the prison and she pointlessly chides him "They don't allow you to bring bees in here." It's a throwaway line that could easily have been cut from the script but it suits her character so perfectly (it's such a heartless and useless thing to say) that it becomes laugh out loud hilarious.

I'll just end by saying if you're going to start watching it be prepared to watch all 3 seasons because you probably won't be able to stop. With so many people touting Arrested Development as "the best show ever" it's tempting to say that it's overrated. But the more I think about it, the more I really don't think it is overrated, because in all honesty nothing else that I've seen is this good.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Read my book on how to write comedy.  Newest edition now also available in paperback!

In Bed with Joan

Joan Rivers is 80-years-old. And she’s arguably busier and more popular at 80 than ever before.

In recent years, Joan was perhaps best known for winning The Celebrity Apprentice TV show, helmed by businessman Donald Trump. Joan showed she doesn’t quit when the times get hard.

One of the most devastating things to happen to Joan was dealing with her husband Edgar’s suicide in 1987.

It has often been said that the best comedians have a lot of tragedy and depression in their lives, so they make others laugh to cheer themselves up. Joan could have easily faded from the public spotlight after her husband’s death, but she realized that making others laugh was something that lifted her out of the dangerous place of wallowing in self pity and sadness.

Joan loves a challenge, so she sells her jewelry lines on TV shopping channels and stands on red carpets to interview Hollywood starlets about “who they’re wearing,” commenting on whether or not she thinks they’re gorgeous or hideous.  Ever opinionated, Joan keeps people laughing with both self-deprecating humor, and observational rants about what bothers her about celebrities and people groups.

It’s pretty amazing to think she’s an octogenarian who is still touring, entertaining huge crowds, with an extremely sharp mind, great timing and superb delivery of hilarious lines.

Joan’s latest venture is a YouTube show called “In Bed with Joan,” where Joan invites a celeb into her bed, and they have a conversation about anything and everything. It’s uncensored and it’s funny!

Here’s Joan talking in bed with Jeff Garlin of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the new comedy “The Goldbergs.” Enjoy!

Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang theory is a very popular TV sitcom that follows the daily lives of four friends -- Sheldon, his best friend Leonard, Raj and Howard. Those are the main characters of the show and are all scientist at a university. Other main characters of the show are the girlfriends of Leonard, Sheldon and Howard, namely, Penny, Amy and Bernadette.

The comedy this TV show offers was planned by the producers to be clever and making jabs at popular culture. The main characters are supposed to be real-life nerds that are living real nerdy lives. The anti-character here is Penny, who is the only main character that is not a scientist. Unfortunately, the comedy in this TV show often falls back on Penny’s stupidity and ignorance by letting main characters like Sheldon constantly make fun and / or harass her lack of knowledge.

Sheldon, which the show puts a lot of emphasis on, is a theoretical physicist and seems to have a very high IQ but is entirely socially inept and has no social skills whatsoever. But he is not the only character in this sitcom with failed social integration. For example Raj cannot talk when there are women nearby listening, unless he is drunk.

The problem with this forced ineptness is that this makes the TV show full of totally unbelievable characters. Everybody knows at least one nerd or geek and I’m sure most of those are quite unlike the ones portrait in this show. Actually, the most believable character in the whole show is Penny, which should be a comedic relief.

The show totally misses that geeks are not geeks because of their super intelligence and because they are socially inept.

All this means not that this show is bad, but it sure isn’t the best what could be made out of such versatile theme. The fact that the show always relies on the same patterns for comedy (which are not very smart by themselves anyway) shows that the writing is lacking what comedy is all about, the comedic factor.

Regardless, the Big Bang Theory is a quite popular show with many fans, but it could’ve been much better with a little bit more twist in comedy and overall a little more believable characters. Unfortunately the show is not going to change what it is and therefore will be quite forgotten in couple of years.  Just like the popcorn you ate the last time you watched a movie, nothing special.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Brief Musical Interlude with Marc Scibilia

Americana music has a new Bob Dylan, of sorts. Marc Scibilia started out as a teen music prodigy emulating piano man Billy Joel, but around age 18, he discovered the music of Bob Dylan, and ever since, he’s more Dylan than Joel.

Scibilia hails from Buffalo, New York, but calls East Nashville home, where he lives in a farmhouse with his bandmates, working on music around-the-clock when they’re not touring the country.

Balancing the fine line between folk, blues and rock, Scibilia is surrounded by Country music makers, and his music has been subconsciously influenced by it. One of his latest songs, “Shining Like America,” has been getting airplay on Sirius XM’s new Country station, “The Highway.” In addition, the FOX-TV show, “Bones,” used Scibilia’s song “How Bad We Need Each Other” in a recent episode.

As a singer-songwriter, Scibilia is appreciated for being a humble and genuine musician, the kind who plays several instruments well, greets listeners after a show, and comes across as down-to-earth. Fans of John Mayer, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan will want to add Marc Scibilia to their playlists.

His latest 4-song EP is called “The Shape I’m In.” Check out the video here, where Scibilia tells you about his life and music:

Kate the WASP

What do you do to stand out in comedy? Well, if you’re on Saturday Night Live, you become a character like Bill Hader playing “Stefon,” where you have a unique, distinct point-of-view and comedic delivery that makes people laugh—and remember you. And if you’re not fortunate enough to have a job on SNL, but you live in New York City, you have to do something to stand out from the crowd. Enter comedian Kate Hendricks, aka Kate the Wasp.

Kate the Wasp (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) is a comedic character who goes around the streets, festivals, and public events of New York City talking with people who most Wasps wouldn’t associate with. Her shtick is that she’s a pearl necklace wearing conservative raised in a wealthy family, yet curious to find out what it’s like to, for instance, be a drag queen or live in Harlem.

Kate the Wasp is a character who performs “comedy with a sense of entitlement.” It’s funny to see such a supposedly high class woman—the kind who wears heels-- hanging out and kickin’ it with middle and lower class “peeps.”
She’s a loveable fish out of water, as a cameraman follows her around at events like a gay pride parade or Occupy Wall Street, where she’ll talk with participants, and talk to you, the viewer, as if she’s narrating a trip to another world. She plays her character so well that half the time you forget it’s an act. If you like the comedy of Stephen Colbert, you’ll appreciate his female counterpart.

Currently, Kate the Wasp has a popular YouTube channel where you can see her New York City adventures. Here are some of them:

Follow her on Twitter:

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Simpsons

Long ago, in the 1980s, there was a new TV network called Fox. And on Fox were some awful comedies like Women in Prison, and some out-of-the-ordinary variety shows, including one from British comedienne Tracey Ullman.

On The Tracey Ullman Show, which ran from 1987-1990, the Simpson family first appeared on television. The Simpsons were crudely drawn for animated shorts on Ullman’s comedy-variety show. Eventually, the drawings got cleaned up as the popularity of The Simpsons grew. In 1990, Fox-TV put the half-hour Simpsons TV series on-the-air, and it was a huge hit.

In 1990, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing Bart Simpson t-shirts with catchphrases like “Don’t have a cow man” on them.

Today, almost three decades later, Fox is still running new episodes of The Simpsons, and it has been renewed for next season, meaning we’ll be enjoying Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and plenty of zany characters for many more episodes.

It’s not every day that a TV show lasts as long as The Simpsons has. It’s a testament to great comedic writers keeping it fresh and current year after year.

Did you know The Simpsons have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Universal Studios created a virtual coaster ride based on the animated family. And even the U.S. postal service honored the show with five postal stamps personally designed by series creator Matt Groening.

Having won 28 Emmy Awards, The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted show in TV history. Surprisingly, it shows no signs of slowing down.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Adventures in the ePublishing Trade

As you can see by the ads hawking books to the right of my blog posts, I have entered the eBook business. My first title, THE JOKE'S ON YOU: HOW TO WRITE COMEDY, is producing about $500 a month in mailbox money. Three new books are in the works on comedy history and the first will be done before the end of this year.

Here are some things I've learned along the way:

1. Copyright your work. The online copyright service is only $35 and there are numerous advantages to registering your book (stipulated damages if copyright is violated, proof of authorship, etc.). It's simple to do (though the copyright's office website is about 20 years out of date) and cheap.

2. Kindle. Kindle uses 'mobi' formatting and is the best route to go for your ebook. The split is 70/30 in favor of the author with the book minimum pricing of $2.99. Amazon pays timely, makes it easy to update your books, and allows you to track sales and modify pricing as needed.

The formatting was a bit difficult for me, so I used a formatting service who took the Word file and added hyperlinks for chapters and did a proper book layout for $165.

Kindle updates the book for previous purchasers so they can keep track with the latest edition.

3. CreateSpace. Within the last couple of months I decided to update THE JOKES ON YOU with photographs and additional material in the appendix. A graphic designer friend (Cat Stewart) assisted me in getting clearance rights for photographs. Some of these were difficult to obtain and we used substitute photos. The book then had to be laid out as a 6x9 paperback.

I was so pleased with the results, we went back and updated the Kindle edition as well.

I priced my paperback at $11.95 and the hard cost to print the book is approximately $3.50. Surprisingly adding the paperback DOUBLED my sales. Apparently there are many folks who don't like eBooks and want the paperback version. Writers are leaving a lot of money on the table by not adding a paperback option for their prospective audience.

4. ISBNs. A separate ISBN is required for both the print and eBook edition of the same book. So that's two per title. I suggest buying them in bulk to save money - at least ten. CreateSpace offers ISBNs to customers but they aren't 'portable' - meaning if ten years from now you want to take your ISBN with you somewhere else, you can't. It'll pop up as an 'out of print' title. It's a somewhat controversial issue, but I decided to spend the $250 for ten to maintain full control over my book.

Buy them here:

5. You might already have a book written. I went back and found a book I'd co-written in college on a chess variant (Bughouse Chess) and published that. I found a number of sketches, short stories, and other humorous items to compile into yet another book (The Comedyphiles). I don't expect either of these titles to be huge sellers, but every bit helps and having a number of titles published helps establish you as an 'author.'

Right now I'm working with cartoonist Jonathan Brown (verrrrry talented guy) to add another twenty pages of cartoons and chapter/cover illustrations to THE COMEDYPHILES before going to a paperback edition.

6. Editors. One of the few advantages of the traditional press is the use of editors to give you feedback, corrections, and guidance in improving your book. I'm fortunate to have some talented writer friends who gave me feedback along the way and did hire an experienced editor to go through the book for errors. Far too many typos and grammatical errors pop up in self-published books. Spend the money and make your work look professional.

7. Marketing. BookBub is an excellent resource for novelists who have a series of books featuring the same lead character. I likely will be trying Kirkus Reviews soon for more exposure. My marketing efforts included this blog, my facebook page, Twitter, and simply the Amazon search features. Comedy writing is a niche topic and I now pop up #1 on that search, so that helps.

My goal is to have a dozen titles posted and to have them on related topics (comedy, film history, television comedy, an interview book with screenwriters and TV writers). Getting to the 'bills paid this month' level income from eBook and paperback sales each month would be a home run. I don't expect to ever do some of the crazy numbers some fiction writers have had in terms of sales, but $2,000-3,000 a month is a realistic goal.

Post if you have any questions, comments, or additional information and best of luck!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Comedy of Breaking Bad

The epic television show dark comedy "Breaking Bad" has finally come to its conclusion and our favorite anti-hero/villain, Walter White, well...spoiler alert!

What, did you expect a guy with terminal cancer to ride off into the sunset?

If you're one of those people that hasn't seen the show yet, then this post isn't for you. Go catch up and then come back, as there's probably going to be spoilers ahead.

One of the reasons why a show like "Breaking Bad" works, and why a show like "Low Winter Sun" doesn't, is because of the humor injected into the drama.  Creator Vince Gilligan is noted for his dark humor which he brought to the X-files.  That sharp wit, paired with his dark humor led his meteoric rise from show writer to co-executive producer in just a few years.  Gilligan has been quoted as saying, "comedy and drama as "two muscles in the same arm."

Although "Breaking Bad has always been a dark comedy more than a drama, it has been able to shift gears because it is a dark comedy with dramatic elements.  Writing dark comedy is one of the most difficult genres to write effectively.  If you go too dark, you run the risk of losing your audience.  "Breaking Bad" succeeds because even though it is a dark comedy, its dramatic elements are so incredibly well done, the audience is tricked into "drama mode" without being none the wiser.

Very few shows could have two junkies talking about their idea for a "Star Trek" episode and then switch to high drama without skipping a beat.  Speaking of that "Star Trek" idea, someone went and animated it:

Vince Gilligan also chose to have actual comedians play in dramatic roles. Bob Odenkirk was already a good actor prior to his stint on "Breaking Bad," and has forever earned his comedic stripes for "Mr. Show," but Odenkirk turned what was supposed to be a one off role into a reoccurring role and one of the central characters to the show. He's even getting his own spinoff "Better Call Saul."

But long before Odenkirk was a criminal attorney he was involved in a half million dollar drug deal.

Gilligan also cast stand up comedian Lavell Crawford in the role of Huell.
Lavell Crawford interview

As well as veteran stand up comedian Bill Burr. Bill Burr interview

Unless you purchased the dvd sets (or rented the physical sets) or were a super fan, you might have missed the Breaking Bad minisodes.  The minisodes aired on the web and were included with the boxed sets of "Breaking Bad."  The minisodes were a lot more light-hearted than the overall series. 

One episode featured Hank dressed in a "Boss Hogg" outfit about to marry Marie, having a man to man discussion with Walt about how he slipped up and accidentally cheated on Marie after his bachelor party.  Unfortunately for Hank, the bar was the "Ivory Swallow" with a girl named "Joan Crawford."  (For those of you who don't know, Joan Crawford's name was a stage name selected by the public for the up and coming actress Lucille Fay LeSueur via a contest.) You can watch all of the minisodes here on AMC

There have also been endless memes and comic also created for Breaking Bad:

"70's comic book Twinkie ad" 

There is even a "Breaking Bad" cartoon generator that anyone can use to make their own cartoons:

 And, of course, "Breaking Bad" has spawned a lot of spoofs, or mash ups.  Some of them have been very well done:


Although everyone is sad that "Breaking Bad" is now over, and there's really nothing on t.v. that's equivalent to it.  I am glad that Jesse did get away, and wasn't forever "Meth Damon's" Meth Slave.

We'll miss you, "Breaking Bad" and your Baby Blue dark comedy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Today the news came across the net that Sam Raimi was working on an "Army of Darkness" sequel.  The exact quote was:

"The pressure is on them now. Because as far as I know, and heard, Sam is really determined to get Army Of Darkness 2 happening. He is actually writing [it now]."

Which is a far cry from the previous twenty years of "Sam and his brother are sort of, maybe, working on an Army of Darkness sequel."

"Army of Darkness" is one of those movies that splits not only its own fanbase, but those non-Evil Dead fans that have seen it have a "love it or hate it" attitude regarding the movie.  Some of the (original) "Evil Dead" fans felt that AOD was too divergent in tone from the original "Evil Dead" movies, and too lighthearted, and lacking in the overall horror that the original two films contained.  This was done on purpose by director/creator Sam Raimi, as he and those involved in the production of "Evil Dead 3" wanted to have some fun, and try something different, as they had already done the same horror movie twice in a row.

AOD just barely made back its $11.5 million dollar budget upon its release in 1993, this was due in part that it was originally supposed to come out in summer of 1992, or at the latest, fall (Halloween) of 1992.  Unfortunately, there was a dispute between Universal Pictures and the exec. producer of AOD, Dino De Laurentis over the rights of "Hannibal," so AOD got dumped in what is the traditional movie graveyard that is known as February.  February is where movies go to die.  (**COUGH, "Robocop Reboot"**)

However, in the past twenty years AOD has developed a very large cult following, and arguably produced more versions of the movie on home video than any other movie, with over twenty different versions of of the movie floating out there, including a Hong Kong Director's cut that runs 96 min.  DVDACTIVE has a nice breakdown of the different versions on dvd, but there are even many more versions than they list on the site, including the new Blu-Ray versions.


AOD star, Bruce Campbell has been getting asked the same question day after day, year after year, "Are you making a sequel to 'Army of Darkness?"  Often Bruce would be told about a sequel by an audience member at a convention, and Bruce would ask, "Where did you hear that rumor?" where the audience member would respond, "The internet," upon which Bruce would hilariously chastise the person for not believing everything he reads on the internet.  One of the big reasons for this "tough love," was that up till the successful reboot of "Evil Dead," the chances of an AOD sequel have always been next to zero.

One of the reasons a sequel to AOD has been on the ropes can best be summed up via a quote from Bruce Campbell a few years back when (once again) queried about the sequel to AOD, "Would you really want an AOD sequel?  Come on, how are you going to top the original?"  Campbell did have a point.  But also there was the lingering fact that the original AOD did poorly at the box office twenty years ago.

BUT, that was twenty years ago, and a lot has changed since AOD was released.

First off, Sam Raimi has gone from indie darling director to the AAA list; an unexpected outcome for a guy who directed a movie where a woman gets raped by a tree, and also where a guy chops off his hand and installs a chainsaw in its place.  Of course, Raimi finally made his mark via the very successful "Spiderman" franchise, and has gone onto direct even family movies like "Oz the great and Powerful."

Ironically, it is probably (in part) because he directed "Oz" that an AOD sequel is now a possibility.  Why you ask?  Because "Oz" and AOD are the same movie!

The old adage in Hollywood has been, "Give me the same, only different."  Now with Raimi's clout, and the parallel success of the (Ash-less) "Evil Dead" reboot, AND that "Oz" was essentially AOD, Raimi can scrape together a budget from somewhere and make a sequel to AOD under the guise of, "Hey, we just made AOD again with "Oz," and it made $500,000,000!  BUT, in truth, any AOD sequel won't really be a sequel of to AOD, as AOD was only a loose sequel to The Evil Dead to begin with.

This is where the alternate ending to AOD comes into play. The original ending to AOD had its hero Ash wake up in post apocalyptic London in the far future; he had taken one too many drops of the magical elixir and slept too long.

This alternative (original) ending was scrapped for the S-mart 'happy' ending.  This opens up the idea that perhaps the S-mart ending was just a dream, and Ash wakes up in the far future. In March 2013, in EMPIRE magazine, Bruce Campbell offered his thoughts on what Raimi might be cooking up for an AOD sequel:

 "It's random ideas in Sam's head. Let's not go crazy here. He's just finished doing Oz, and he's going to take some time off and he says he's going to work on it this summer with his brother. He could be smoking cigars at a lakeside cabin for all I know, or he might actually be working, who knows?  I would think the post-Apocalyptic because it gives great possibilities for an Omega Man movie, and who he might be fighting against," he says. "It would be a very interesting world. But I'm fine either way. I'm sure Sam will concoct some ridiculous story and an outrageous journey, so I don't really care where it starts and ends."

 However, at the "Mad Monster Party Gras." convention in New Orleans last week, Bruce Campbell when queried about Army of Darkness, and which ending he preferred, had this to say:

"Now the cool thing was that the original sequel to that was Ash was going to lead an army of machines to take over the robots; leading like Spartacus."  

Bruce Campbell at Mad Monster Party Gras on Sept. 14, 2013

Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

 Perhaps Campbell meant to say Ash was going to lead an army of machines to fight against the deadites of the future, instead of robots, as robots are machines.  I don't know, but it does fit the possibilities and logic for a sequel to AOD.  They already did Ash in the present (Evil Dead). Ash in the past, (AOD). And now they could do "Ash vs. The Army of Machines."  Ash fighting robots is just as cool as him fighting the dead.

It would be very interesting to see if Raimi can get an AOD sequel off the ground.  The great thing is that them movie has garnered twenty years of goodwill and home video sales and a huge cult following.  Also, Bruce Campbell is has gone from a B-movie star to a B+ movie star and has racked up seven years on "Burn Notice," so he's no longer just "that dude from that movie."

A similar success story can be seen in the sequel to "Tron."  "Tron: Legacy," picked up thirty years after the original movie which only did okay at the box office to begin with.  However, ironically, the original "Tron" despite its cult and mainstream following, was looked upon as a pariah by Disney execs who decided to "Derezz" the original Tron just months prior to the release of Legacy.  Apparently with  the millennials, the original Tron was not viewed with the same endearment as was the case with Generation X, and Disney made Tron vanish till after the movie was released; only releasing the eagerly anticipated Blu-Ray months after the release of "Legacy."

Fortunately, AOD plays well with just about everyone these days.  Everyone from Gen X/Y/Z to the Baby Boomers still love Ash and his BOOM STICK! :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Algonquin Round Table

"The Algonquin Round Table set the standard for literary style and wit beyond its ten-year duration.

After World War I, Vanity Fair writers and Algonquin regulars Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Robert E. Sherwood began lunching at The Algonquin. In 1919, they gathered in the Rose Room with some literary friends to welcome back acerbic critic Alexander Woollcott from his service as a war correspondent. It proved so enjoyable that someone suggested it become a daily event. This led to a near-quotidian exchange of ideas, opinions, and often-savage wit that has enriched the world's literary life. George S. Kaufman, Heywood Broun, and Edna Ferber were also in this august assembly, which strongly influenced writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Perhaps their greatest contribution, however, was the founding of The New Yorker.

"The Ten-Year Lunch," which won Aviva Slesin an Academy Award in 1987 for best documentary, offers a vivid introduction to the Round Table and its unparalleled wit."

From the PBS press from the documentary in 1998:

Robert Sherwood, reviewing cowboy hero Tom Mix: “They say he rides as if he’s part of the horse, but they don’t say which part.”
Dorothy Parker: “That woman speaks eighteen languages and can’t say ‘no’ in any of them.”
George S. Kaufman: Once when asked by a press agent, “How do I get my leading lady’s name into your newspaper?” Kaufman replied, “Shoot her.”

The period that followed the end of World War I was one of gaiety and optimism, and it sparked a new era of creativity in American culture. Surely one of the most profound — and outrageous — influences on the times was the group of a dozen or so tastemakers who lunched together at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel. For more than a decade they met daily and came to be known as the Algonquin Round Table. With members such as writers Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross (founder of THE NEW YORKER) and Robert Benchley; columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun, and Broun’s wife Ruth Hale; critic Alexander Woollcott; comedian Harpo Marx; and playwrights George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood, the Round Table embodied an era and changed forever the face of American humor.

It all began with an afternoon roast of the NEW YORK TIMES drama critic, Alexander Wollcott. A number of writers met up at the Algonquin Hotel on 44th street and had such a good time that the event was repeated the next day, and the day after that, until the lunch table at the Algonquin was established as a ritual. The core group of friends was sometimes joined by others who attended for short periods or drifted about the periphery of the group, including such notables as actress Tallulah Bankhead and playwright Noel Coward. The Round Table was made up of people with a shared admiration for each other’s work. Outspoken and outrageous, they would often quote each other freely in their daily columns.

Round Tabler Edna Ferber, who called them “The Poison Squad,” wrote, “They were actually merciless if they disapproved. I have never encountered a more hard-bitten crew. But if they liked what you had done, they did say so publicly and whole-heartedly.” Their standards were high, their vocabulary fluent, fresh, astringent, and very, very tough. Both casual and incisive, they had a certain terrible integrity about their work and boundless ambition. Some of the most notable members of the Round Table came together to work on significant collaborative projects. George Kaufman teamed up with Edna Ferber and Marc Connelly on some of his best stage comedies, including DULCY and THE ROYAL FAMILY. Harold Ross of THE NEW YORKER hired both Dorothy Parker as a book reviewer and Robert Benchley as a drama critic.

By 1925, the Round Table was famous. What had started as a private clique became a public amusement. The country-at-large was now attentive to their every word—people often coming to stare at them during lunch. Some began to tire of the constant publicity. The time they spent entertaining and being entertained took its toll on several of the Algonquin members. Robert Sherwood and Robert Benchley moved out of the hotel in order to concentrate on and accomplish their work. In 1927, the controversial execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, whose case had divided the country and the Round Table for six years, seemed to cast a pall over the group’s unchecked antics. Dorothy Parker believed strongly in the pair’s innocence, and upon their deaths she remarked “I had heard someone say and so I said too, that ridicule is the most effective weapon. Well, now I know that there are things that never have been funny and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield but it is not a weapon.”

As America entered the Depression and the more somber decade of the 1930s, the bonds that had held the group together loosened; many members moved to Hollywood or on to other interests. “It didn’t end, it just sort of faded,” recalled Marc Connelly. A decade after it began, the Algonquin Round Table was over. Not forgotten, the Round Table remains one of the great examples of an American artists’ community and the effects it can have on its time."

Watch it here on Youtube:
 Also be sure to read ACT I by Moss Hart and GEORGE S. KAUFMAN: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT by Howard Teichmann.

Rare Tex Avery Documentary

Sound goes out on the last five minutes, but still worth a watch:

Chaplain, Keaton and Lloyd behind the scenes of genius

I wanted to give recognition to a fantastic blog by John Bengtson – “the great detective of silent film locations” that has done incredible work discovering and archiving the behind the scenes work of the films by Chaplain, Keaton, and Lloyd.

Bengston has done some incredible detective work cataloging and researching the original shooting locations of Chaplain, Keaton, and Lloyd's films.

A great example of this can be see in Bengston's blog on Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last."

Bengston's blog can be viewed here:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Elmore Leonard - October 11, 1925 - August 20, 2013

Unfortunately, one of the best modern writers, and one of the few writers who's writing successfully translated to the big and the small screens, passed away today following a recent stroke.   Leonard was 87.

Few writers leave behind such a large and influential breadth of work.  Most people that consider themselves writers can measure their work in "inches;" that is to say if printed out on standard paper, the work would only stand a few inches high.  Leonard's work would stand several feet tall. Stephen King called Leonard "The Great American writer."  Commended by critics for his gritty realism and strong dialogue, Leonard sometimes took liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding along the story.

There's been a lot written about Leonard's work over the years, but here are some video snippets where he speaks about writing in his own words.

Elmore Leonard on Writing
"words can get in the way of what you're trying to say"
Leonard's work stretched from writing westerns in the 1950's all the way to "Justified."

Film Adaptation

1990 – Border Shootout

1967 – Hombre
1969 – The Big Bounce
 2004 – The Big Bounce

1974 – Mr. Majestyk
1984 – The Ambassador
 1986 – 52 Pick-Up





1997 TV film
1992 TV movie
1989 – Cat Chaser
1985 – Stick
Edgar Award, Best Novel (1984)

1988 TV film

1997 film – Touch
2012 – Freaky Deaky
2009 – Killshot
1995 – Get Shorty
1998 TV series
1997 – Jackie Brown
1997 TV film
 2010 – TV series Justified
2010 – TV series Justified
1998 – Out of Sight
 2003 – TV series Karen Sisco


Tonto Woman
(One chapter of serial novel)
2007 – Academy Awards nominated Live Action Short
2005 – Be Cool

2010 – TV series Justified
When the Women Come Out to Dance
Anthology (includes Fire in the Hole)




Comfort to the Enemy
Published serially in New York Times
 (Chapters can be downloaded at




2010 – TV series Justified

Leonard influenced a great number of writers and directors in Hollywood, most famously, Quentin Tarantino who would later translate "Rum Punch" into the movie "Jackie Brown."

From The Charlie Rose Show, October 14, 1994

QUENTIN TARANTINO: Oh, I love Elmore Leonard. In fact, to me True Romance is basically like an Elmore Leonard movie-


QUENTIN TARANTINO: -that he didn’t write, you know. And like, actually, I actually owe a big debt to like kind of figuring out my style from Elmore Leonard because, you know, he was the first writer I’d ever read - and, but also like Charles Willeford did it as well - but he was one of the first writers I had ever read that just let mundane conversations-


QUENTIN TARANTINO: -actually inform the characters, you know, and then all of a sudden, ‘Boof!,’ you know, you’re into whatever story you’re telling. But the thing is, though, it’s just a genre I’ve always really liked and always had a lot of appreciation for and liked going to, and I thought I would do a good job with it.

Tarantino full interview on Charlie Rose

Leonard's final successful novel to T.V. translation was his most successful, as Justified enters its fifth season with showrunner Graham Yost at the helm.

Q:      Graham, how did you go about assembling the writing staff — because Elmore’s voice is so distinct and he has so many fans out there — so they have that same voice?

Graham Yost:        You know, it was a lot of guesswork because there weren’t many writing samples that really showed the mixture of tension and humor and sudden violence and sort of quirky character that, you know, I was looking for to try and, you know, keep Elmore’s voice alive in the show. You know, the first writer I hired was Fred Golan because I’ve been working with him since “Boomtown” and I know he can do just about anything. And then there was a writer, Wendy Calhoun, off of “Raines,” who I also felt could do pretty much anything, had a great sense of humor and good sense of, you know, odd and interesting characters that we would like. But the big thing we did is when we started the writing room, we bought as many of Elmore’s books as we could find and, you know, divided them up so everyone, well, took a couple on and read them so they would get into the rhythms and get the style. You know, one of the great things that I got to do in writing the pilot was actually retype a lot of Elmore’s style on I can just put it in the script. I mean, it was interesting. Just the act of retyping it sort of let me, you know, get into the language a little bit more, what he leaves out, what he puts in, that kind of thing.

Q:      Okay. And Mr. Leonard, how did it feel to see your characters come to life on a weekly television series? I know a lot of your, you know, characters have been movies, but how about TV series?

Elmore Leonard:   Well, it is the first time it’s been successful, and it was great. I tune in every Tuesday night. I’ve seen a few of them before, but… I thought the one last night was terrific (in the styling)… there was action all the way. Good story and suspense. I’m not kidding. It’s so – it’s passed me by.

Graham Yost:        And I will just say very simply we’ve gotten a lot of great reviews, but that there is the best review we’ve gotten on the show. And Elmore has been the most gratifying thing, the fact that he’s enjoyed this process.


  1. Never open a book with weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said” … he admonished gravely.
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
"My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." He also hinted: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."