In the Oklahoma music scene, few are eerier than Norman's Magnificent Bird, and just last week, the band posted an odd, alluring video to YouTube, to go with the song “Nowhere to Hide.” All rainy and black-and-white, a pretty, pale ghost haunts a depressed English major around the University of Oklahoma's campus. Watch it below.
You can stream their album “Superdark Can Happen to Anyone” at their Bandcamp page for free, or purchase it for $9.99. Also, the track “Cowboys are Blue Because of What They Have to Do” is available for free download.
Not as great as Walken flying through a hotel, but still ...
Were you one of the 7.3 million viewers who broke a basic-cable record by tuning in to the sophomore-season premiere of “The Walking Dead”?
Yeah? How about that first half-hour, huh? Whoa! A series best, amiright? And zombies in church? Whaddup wit’ dat, huh? And that final shot, too! Wow! Hey, is it weird that even a dirt-streaked and sweat-stained Laurie Holden still sets my heart a-flutter? Agree — didn’t think so. Oh, and that stomach scene! Eewww! I know, right? Ha!
Regardless of whether or not that made any sense, feast your eyes on the trailer for “The Walken Dead,” brought to our attention by the good people of the Nerdist podcast. No, it’s not real. Yes, it’s funny. Yes, it could use more cowbell. —Rod Lott
Listen to local Ryan Lawson’s new album, ‘Hack & Saw Nation,’ for free.
Choctaw folkie and singer/songwriter Ryan Lawson recently announced the release of his new album, “Hack & Saw Nation,” which you can stream for free or purchase at his Bandcamp page. Two live-recorded songs, “One Year Ago” and “Toxic Fumes,” are also available for free.
Lawson’s signature croon is a state treasure, and comes bolstered here by Melissa Stevens’ backing vocals. Also featured on the album are guitarist Aaron Tackett, bassist Kristina Tackett, multi-intstrumentalist Brad Fielder and fiddle player Daniel Foulks (who made an OKS appearance on video just a few weeks ago).
Can’t recommend this one enough. Stream it below, and do consider shelling out a couple of bucks for this one. “Broken Record”’s worth the $5 itself.
Jenny has passed her vibrant and quirky torch to me, as you may have already heard. I’m your new resident ShopGirl, and I’ll do my best to keep you sweeties up-to-date on all things local and must-go.
First things first, right? I’m Jenn. I grew up on a dairy farm where I milked cows every day.
I was also charged with gathering the eggs from the henhouse. The whole milking cow thing was OK, but the feat of egg gathering was a daily strain that spiked an unnatural amount of fear in my being. Why, you say? Well, have you ever looked at a chicken in its beady eyes?
If you’ve done so and lived to speak of it, then I can only assume you are a soulless fowl constituent who secretly leads a double life in a colony of birds. You probably meet bimonthly and discuss the demise of me and other feather-fearing humans.
Right, more about me ... I’m a cold weather fan. And by fan I mean that I’m obsessed with snow and rain. Pictured below: My first boyfriend and I.
You might be thinking, How in the world did this gal with an Oklahoma-farmer background come to write about city-centric shopping? Well, if we’re being honest, it’s always been in the stars for me.
I’m incredibly drawn to all things beautiful, and I’m open to the idea that perception plays into each person’s idea of beauty. That being said, I’ll do my best to provide you lot with a wide variety of options, as well as the tools to search out and build your own personal style. Do you have your own person style mantra? If not, get to work on that!
It’s really an exciting time in the fashion world, mainly because the idea of style has taken root, grown and returned to an industry that had begun to drift in a less-than-approachable direction. Style is now saying, “Hey! No one wants to wear that!” The idea of buying into trends because they are fashionable is slipping away (thankfully!), and the freedom to be creative and personal with your style choices is settling in comfortably as the fashionable front-runner.
Anyway, I want to hear from you. What do YOU want help shopping for? If you’ve got ideas for, or if you have specific questions concerning fit (Can’t find the right pair of jeans? Let me know ... I know a guy! Want to know where to shop for the highest-quality workwear that won’t break your bank? Turns out I’ve a penchant for penny pinching sidled along my budget-breaking tastes.), please send them my way. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we’ll be the snazziest metro in the Midwest. Let’s shop, OKC!
Catch two of indie’s biggest players giving live-in studio performances on ‘Later with Jools Holland.’
Wisconsin soft-rockers Bon Iver (whose live show I was lucky enough to catch in Kansas City about two months back) and Canadian chanteuse Feist both played “Later with Jools Holland” last week, and additional videos from those sessions have surfaced, now totaling six in all.
I share because they’ve released two of this year’s most terrific albums and each has an absolute all-star supporting cast behind their live shows. Watch for Colin Stetson and his big, groaning bass sax behind Justin Vernon (dude smashes on “Perth”) and mom jeans-sportin’ vocal trio Mountain Man bolstering Feist’s choruses. It’s a good thing those ladies’ voices are better than their haircuts.
My picks are “Perth” and “How Come You Never Go There,” but all six are posted below, for your perusal.
Before or after you head to Gazette’s Halloween Parade, that is.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, Rose State Performing Arts Center in Midwest City presents the musical “Soul on Fire.”
Oklahoma-based and brimming with Oklahoma talent, this musical boasts a forbidden love, powerful music, punchy dialogue and a heap of secrets that Kisha navigates with the help of Mozes.
Onstage, you might recognize Tyrone Stanley, adjunct professor at Oklahoma City Community College; Donna Cox, music professor at the University of Oklahoma; Bonita Franklin, acting chair for the Department of Music at Langston University; and Bruce Davis, Oklahoma City Police Department veteran, just to name a few.
You'll get a healthy dose of stardom from big-name artists and entertainers like Shirley Murduck and Delvis “Tyga” Graham, as well as Michelle Lynn Hardin, former background singer for John Legend.
What are you waiting for? Secure your soul ... at least for the weekend. Get your tickets at soulonfirethemusical.net. Take advantage of the early bird special through Oct. 31: buy one, get one half off!
OCU professor reveals how he harvested ‘Children of the Corn.’
Oklahoma City University clearly is in the Halloween spirit. It’ll screen 2001’s remake of “Children of the Corn” for free at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. tonight in the United Methodist Hall dorm theater room. Despite that strange-sounding setting, the public is invited.
What makes this interesting is that Fritz Kiersch, chairman of OCU’s Moving Image Arts Program, will discuss “Corn” between the showings, because he directed the 1984 original.
Five years ago, I interviewed Kiersch about making that minor horror classic — spawning a franchise that’s now up to part eight, with the brand-new “Children of the Corn: Genesis” — so why not yank it out of the Gazette archives to share it with you? Here goes!
FRITZ KIERSCH: ‘CORN’ FARMER Just think: Had economics graduate Fritz Kiersch not stood on Wall Street wearing the same blue seersucker suit as everyone else, the world may never have experienced the cinematic pleasure of seeing kids murder all the adults in their town and promptly establish a Satanic cult in the Nebraskan cornfields.
Today a department chair and artist-in-residence for Oklahoma City University’s Moving Image Arts Program, the Texas-born Kiersch was all set to embark on a career as an international banker when he was struck by the realization of how dull it would be and thought, “This is stupid. I’m outta here.”
One coastal switch later, Kiersch pursued a love of filmmaking that eventually would lead to his directorial debut on 1984’s “Children of the Corn.” Based on the short story by Stephen King (the first of his short fiction to make the jump to screen), the low-budget shocker starring a pre-fame Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton proved a sizable box-office hit — one that still enjoys a healthy cult following more than two decades later and spurred a profitable (if uninspired) franchise, currently six sequels strong.
Kiersch cut his artistic teeth making TV commercials. He got along well with an assistant director he hired, who went on to become an executive in charge of production for New World Pictures.
“One day he called and said, ‘Because you put all this ice cream in my freezer, I’m going to give you guys a chance to make a movie,’” Kiersch recalled.
Scripts followed; Kiersch declined. A couple months later, his friend pressed on with a script for “Children of the Corn,” telling Kiersch, “This is right up your alley.” Kiersch went in to talk and left with a green light; he was off scouting locations in Iowa the next day.
“I’ve never had such an easy motion-picture hire,” he said. “It was out of a fairy tale. People wait their lifetime for this kind of stuff.”
According to Kiersch, New World saw a lot of potential in King’s story “about children in an environment of terror.” Kiersch himself was game, seeing the trappings of the movie’s low budget as an opportunity for “a world of creativity and imagination and innovation.”
“The script was specific to a certain level of generality: corn fields, isolation, abandonment,” he said. “We had to fulfill those requirements … at a time when harvest was going on and the corn was turning from green — the good color — to dead yellow, which did not photograph very nicely. One day, we’d shoot, and return the next day and the corn would be gone or dead. So the invention came with ‘What do we do? How do we fix this?’ We took scissors (to the script) and literally cut around scenes to make things happen.”
Another challenge: The monster — known as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” — was never described in George Goldsmith’s script.
“So I invented everything,” said Kiersch. “I said, ‘On a dark country road when we were 12, every sound made us wet our pants. Over the wind! Let’s use those influences and do an homage to the horror movie on the B level.’”
This entailed a conscious decision to let the acting be stiff, the characters cardboard, the threats obvious and the monster intangible. Its terrifying menace would have to be suggested, via moving corn and upturned soil — effects creatively gained through no-nonsense use of fishing line and an upside-down wheelbarrow.
When it came time to blow up the monster at the end of the movie, “we were going to be able to make a 10-story fireball twice. The second time, it went off incorrectly,” Kiersch said. “The guy who loaded the gas pumps was drunk.”
With only one take to use, the new director realized it wasn’t visual enough … until a friend later let him crib some clouds from a Kawasaki ad to add in to up the ominous factor. Admitted Kiersch, “Luck played a tremendous element in the success of the film, but so did inventiveness and gut feeling and just the idea of honest filmmaking. We weren’t trying to be slick and cool; it was to be rough and pay tribute.”
It paid off. Shot over four weeks, “Children of the Corn” took in more than $10 million upon its release in spring 1984 — not bad on an investment that didn’t quite clear $1 million. Its true fortunes would be found on home video, first on VHS and then in DVD editions from Anchor Bay.
Critics were unkind — not surprising, given the genre.
“I was called ‘the hack’s hack,’” Kiersch remembered. “People looked at its value and said, ‘Here’s a story about children killing adults. This is not good!’ That was a big lesson for me. When you make a film, you don’t think globally about what you make, but when it’s released, it goes all over the world. You have to accept responsibility for it. I was completely naïve to that at the time.”
Said Gray Frederickson, a friend and collaborator of Kiersch, “Other than maybe ‘The Bad Seed,’ I don’t think there was a movie where the kids were the bad guys. It was a very unusual first experience for people to see kids doing bad things.”
One of the harshest critics was King himself. Perhaps already indisposed to like the film since his own screenplay had been jettisoned — Kiersch said King was “not a competent screenwriter at the time” — the best-selling author penned a savage letter to the director and studio, claiming they “destroyed” his source material. Said Kiersch, “He was somewhat angered and frustrated.”
Because of “Corn”’s success, Kiersch fielded numerous offers for more spook shows — “Howling II,” “Nightflyers” and, he said, “movies about worms and Native American shape shifters.” Instead, he turned them all down and went on to direct several movies involving kids and teens — though far less homicidal — like “Tuff Turf” with James Spader and Robert Downey Jr.
“I just didn’t want anything to do with horror, because I felt that was not where I was strong,” he said. “But what I’ve realized retrospectively over the years is horror is a form of storytelling where you can do things outside the norm and play around.”
Eventually, he returned to deal in dread. And all it took was a move to Oklahoma City. In 2000, he was recruited by Frederickson — an Oscar-winning producer of “The Godfather” films and “Apocalypse Now” — to make movies in Oklahoma for Graymark Productions.
Lensed in Meridian, Norman and Oklahoma City, “The Hunt” is the first result of that partnership, about a group of hunters having the tables turned on them. “Surveillance,” a Penn Square Mall-shot thriller with horror elements, soon followed with star Armand Assante.
“We love the pictures he’s done for us,” said Frederickson. “He doesn’t subscribe to the new slasher school of horror, like ‘Saw’ or ‘Hostel.’ He’s more of the Kubrick/Hitchcock guy, and he’s very good at it.”
“Suggestion is far better,” agreed Kiersch. “I think it’s cool to manipulate an audience, to sucker punch them. I love watching an audience that talks back to the screen.”
He said he will “try my best” to make all his films from here on out. “I’m very proud to be a part of this community. Our creative energies are terrific here.”
Odds are, none will have the shelf life of “Corn,” but that’s OK by him.
“It’s nice,” he said of its enduring legacy. “It’s just one of those things in your life that, for whatever reason, sticks around. I’m proud of it. I came up with something that has generated a particular reference in American pop culture. Even though it’s not a positive reference, it’s cool.”
Told of recent whispers that Hollywood has eyes on remaking his baby, Kiersch sighed, “Oh, my. Life is getting boring if they want to redo this.” —Rod Lott
“We All Go Back to Where We Belong” is one of the album’s three new songs, and it’s so important that it gets two (!) weird, arty, overexposed, but nonetheless charming videos to go along with it. First up is my personally preferred version, which features Mary Jane Watson Kirsten Dunst who does about 98 percent of the acting here with her lips.
Next is acclaimed poet and activist John Giorno, who appears to suffer
separate occurrences of minor brain damage throughout the video, which
is lit and arranged exactly the same as Dunst’s. Weird. Good thing the
song’s as pretty as anything the band’s ever recorded. The line about
“tasting the ocean on your skin” really gets me. Watch both below:
The ‘Boardwalk Empire’ actor talks shop and Superman, which gives him ‘the shivers.’
Michael Shannon made his motion-picture debut alongside Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” but his career really didn’t take off until 2008, when his supporting performance as the mentally unstable acquaintance of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in “Revolutionary Road” was honored with an Academy Award nomination.
The roles have grown in size ever since, from “Jonah Hex” to two films with the legendarily idiosyncratic director Werner Herzog in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” and “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.” The most notable, however, has been his good-guy role as Agent Nelson Van Alden on HBO’s Emmy-winning “Boardwalk Empire.”
Earlier this week, Shannon talked to Gazette about “Boardwalk,” now airing its second season, and the project that threatens to take his star into the stratosphere: the Superman reboot in which he plays the Man of Steel’s Kryptonian nemesis, General Zod.
R&R: “Boardwalk Empire” is really the first time you've worked on a TV series other than a guest shot. Does it feel completely different than being on a movie set or is the level of quality so high that there's no difference?
Shannon: The structure of it's very different. I mean, when you do a movie, you get one script — unless there are going to be sequels or something — but you get the one script and it has a beginning, middle and an end, and you go shoot it and that's that.
But this is ... it's not like you're telling a story. It's like you're creating a whole other world, you know, that moves in every direction. And the story just keeps getting more and more twisted and complicated. I walk away from the end of the season and I have absolutely no idea what to expect. It's very mysterious.
R&R: This is sort of your time right now. I mean, “Boardwalk” is airing, “Take Shelter” is out, “13” is finally coming out on DVD. It's like Michael Shannon week! Did you ever think you would be at this point? I mean, you've worked a long time, but it's only since “Revolutionary Road” that the industry as a whole took notice. Shannon: I've always been happy just to be working, you know. It doesn't really matter for me how many people are familiar with my name or my picture or whatever. I enjoyed living in Chicago and doing plays for little or no money. And I never actually thought that I would leave Chicago originally. I wasn't one of these people that had a plan to pack up the van and drive out to Hollywood. I didn't want to. I knew other people that did that and a lot of them wound up kind of unhappy, so it kind of frightened me.
So the fact that I got to ... I guess to get to this point kind of surreptitiously is really incredibly fortunate for me, because I kind of got this without even necessarily chasing after it. I just kept doing work that I believed in and it kind of led me to this place, but I'm always very reticent to buy into any of the hype, because it goes away in the blink of any eye, you know. And you make one wrong move, you can find yourself back in obscurity.
But it's not something I'm really keeping a lot of attention to. I'm not looking at my star meter or something, you know, how many people are talking about me or something. I just keep working on things I like and hope for the best, hope people enjoy them.
R&R: Then are you prepared for the onslaught with “Man of Steel”? The press on that is going to be outrageous.
Shannon: Honestly, no. I'm not prepared for that in any way, shape or form. It gives me shivers. I'll do the best I can, but ... it's funny because it used to just be that you do the work and the work just spoke for itself. R&R: Right.
Shannon: But when you get on a project like that, obviously, it's almost like half the job is being a cheerleader for the team. You got to go around, stirring up the pot, as it were. But it's hard to do that when they tell you, "Oh, and by the way, you can't say anything about it. And the only thing you should say is, “It's really great. It's really great. I'm having such a great time and everybody's great.” That gets a little frustrating after a while.
I find it kind of funny actually, because if I didn't tell you anything about Superman, but I asked you, “Tell me what happens in Superman,” I bet you could probably tell me the whole story. I mean, it's kind of like saying, “I'm not supposed to talk about the Pledge of Allegiance.” It's kind of silly.
R&R: Has Agent Nelson Van Alden become a favorite character of yours because you've worked with him so long or do you have another that stands out for you more?
Shannon: Well, I get pretty attached to the majority of the characters I play. I mean, I can't help myself, but the thing with Van Alden is, I always look forward to seeing what's going to be next, and that's a very different experience than anything else I've done.
But I do have a lot of sympathy for him. I think Van Alden has a very hard life and I feel for him. And a lot of people will stop me and say, “Oh, I watch ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ I love the show, you're good on it, but I hate your character. He's such as asshole." It’s a little upsetting, so I say, "Why do you think he's a bad guy?" I mean, is it so hard to understand what happened to him or is he too opaque or something?
Because when I look at him, he makes me really sad. He tried really hard to do the right thing and he failed, and then he kind of went off the tracks. But, yes, the character seems to illicit some really negative feelings from people, which makes me a little defensive sometimes.
R&R: What’s next for you?
Shannon: Let's see, I've got the two films out right now, “Take Shelter” and “Machine Gun Preacher,” and “Take Shelter,” I'm really excited about people seeing that, because I think it's pretty good. “Machine Gun Preacher” is all right, too.
Let's see, I did a movie called “Premium Rush” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which I think is coming out next summer. But right now, I'm just shooting “Man of Steel” all the way up until February, and then (season three of) “Boardwalk Empire” starts in February, so there's not a lot of downtime there. —Rod Lott