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Slash's Autobiography

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Slash (autobiography)
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A few months ago i plowed through the book Slash which is “written” by the Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.  I’m a huge fan so i really enjoyed the read.  Here are some interesting things i learned in the book:

  • When Slash‘s parents got divorced, the first guy his mom started dating was David Bowie. Slash and her would go to his shows with him and just hang out with the guy
  • Slash’s mom was a professional costume designer named Ola Hudson. She was quite an artist and tailored outfits and album covers for such acts as John Lennon, Diana Ross and the Pointer Sisters.  He dad also did album covers – for Neil Young and Joni Mitchell
  • His mom was also good friends with David Geffen. But when Slash was signed by Geffen’s label, he kept is a secret.  One Christmas, Geffen was eating lunch with Slash’s mom and asked how Slash was and she replied, “you should know, you signed him a few months ago.”  He was floored b/c he had no idea Slash was actually the same little kid that he knew for all those years.
  • Slash was really into BMX bikes and at age 12 was considered one of the best riders in the country for his age bracket
  • One of Slash’s good friend’s dad was Seymour Cassel, who is an actor (Max’s dad in Rushmore).  He is the one who gave Slash the name “Slash” because he never sat still and was always scheming
  • Slash was so messed up on drugs the entire time that most of the success he realized has been forgotten.  For instance, he went to the MTV music awards and didn’t even know he was a nominee.  When they won, he went on stage and didn’t know that it was an acceptance speech.  The whole night was a blur and along the way he left the award in a cab.
  • All the members of the band were so messed up on hard drugs that they really couldn’t function.  They had to have a fix before shows to operate.  Slash went to rehab several times and it never really worked until he was long done with GnR
  • Alx comes off as a total dick in the book.  They were constantly waiting for him.  He’s arrive late to almost every show.  He wouldn’t show up for rehersals.  While i’m sure he was much more sane than the rest of the crew, he was also the main source of anxiety and stress for all members of the band
  • The song November Rain was actually written for Appetite for Destruction but they left it off because they wanted only one ballad on the album and that was Sweet Child o’ Mine.
  • Paradise City was written when they were all driving down from San Fran way before they were even getting good gigs and was just a chant they wrote when they were excited to get back to LA.  As the band grew and the egos grew, they never traveled like this again and lost all comraderie.  Reading the book you realize why songs like Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child, Paradise City, Rocket Queen never materialized.  They were written at a time when the band was incredibly tight and the lyrics of Alx, and the guitar playing of Duff and Slash were perfect compliments

It’s a good book and really interesting if you’re a Guns N’ Roses fan.  It’s a bit longer than The Dirt – Motley Crue’s autobiography – and it only focuses on one member so it has much more depth.  I recommend it. 3.5 to 4 stars (out of 5).

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Written by Mike Lewis

June 11th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Coraline is great and 3D isn’t bad either

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This Friday i went and saw the movie Coraline with some friends (trailer is here). While the movie sports an ordinary story – a cartoonish plot of evil lady trying to steal a young girls soul – it was extraordinary in the the way it looked in two ways.  First it was stop-motion, and second it was in 3D.

Stop motion is incredibe. I used to love claymation films of Wallace and Grommit and this is similar (although not clay). The details in Coraline are incredible and the attention to detail the creators take in making the film makes me enjoy watching it so much more than typical graphic effects.  I appreciate the effort and i can see the effort.   For example, each 9.5-inch-tall Coraline puppet has a composite skeleton, silicone flesh, and 20 ball-and-socket joints, which animators tweaked millimeter by millimeter.

When you read how the film was made, you get an even larger appreciation.  Some other interesting facts about the movie (found in Wired):

  • The character Mr. Bobinsky (shown above) is a ringmaster that lives upstairs from Coraline. His moustache is made from piano wire and nylon fishing line doubles as body hair.  Pretty cool DIY.
  • For the garden outside Coraline’s house, the animators pulled on cables and tubes to open flowers and make a blooming effect as well as using cosmetic sponges, wire, and Ping-Pong balls. Fiber optics within and black lights above give the petals their glow.
  • The garden is just incredible.  Just think 3 seconds of footage took 3 weeks to shoot.
  • Steam for a pot of tea is cotton spritzed with hair spray makes a nice puff of vapor. (see side image to right)
  • Coraline’s house is amazing too.  A crew of 70 carpenters and model makers hand-made every slat, post, and clapboard on the 6-foot-tall home, which was built in multiple configurations so that many scenes could be shot simultaneously. For the gravel, about 100 pounds of kitty litter was used to surface the 150-square-foot driveway and for the sky, dimmable fiber optics were glued into tiny holes poked in a black curtain. (see image below).  For the grass, it was 1,300 square feet of hand-dyed faux fur.  For the blossoms of the plants, the crew spent 800 hours painting 250,000 pieces of popcorn—pink on the outside, red on the kernel—to stand in as blossoms for the nearly 70 trees.
  • Caroline herself is quite a work of wires and details.  According to Wired, her hair is done up with wire, synthetic hair, blue paint, and drug-store styling goop, and arranged by hand, strand by strand.  Her wool gloves (where you can see each thread) were done using needles as tiny as 0.02 inch in diameter. To allow for more than 200,000 facial expressions, fabricators built 350 top plates (eyebrows and forehead) and 700 bottom plates (mouth).
  • Even the cats eyes are realistic.  To get that a coating of Scotchlite paint behind the plastic lens simulates the reflectivity of real feline eyes.
  • There’s a mouse circus in the movie.  To do this, designers created 550 hand-painted mice, each with nine separate parts. Animators spent four months reconfiguring and swapping them in and out to mimic motion.

The second reason i enjoyed the movie is because it was in 3D.  I read last year that the studios were going to ramp up 3D production as a way to boost ticket sales.  Apparently with home theaters, DVD’s and movies on-demand there is less and less reason to “go” to the movies and 3D is just the way to bring people back.

I read some other articles last year of studios really being behind 3D.  In an interview even George Lucas is looking at bringing Star Wars back in 3D format (interview here).  In fact, there was a press release last year about how ALL Pixar and Dreamwork films are going 3D:

Disney announced that all computer-animated features from Disney and Pixar will be released in digital 3-D starting with Bolt following in the footsteps of DreamWorks Animation, which announced last summer that starting in 2009 it would be releasing all of its computer-animated titles in 3-D.

Studios make a lot more money with 3D movies as they have higher ticket prices and now that the technology is much better than it was in the 70′s and 80′s, it’s only a matter of time before all movies come out this way. I saw My Bloody Valentine 3D this January and now with Coraline, i can safely say that i really enjoy the 3D experience. It’s more realistic and differentiated from watching at home.  It’s more of a show.

The only thing holding back 3D from being in more movies right now are the theaters.  3D requires digital screens and there are only about 4000 screens in the US that can show 3D.   There is a $700 million dollar plan to upgrade them and i have to imagine that once that happens, you’ll be seeing a lot more 3D films in the theater and i’m personally all for it.  I just wonder when the 3D experience will come to gaming and once it gets there, when will it come t the rest of the computer desktop?  And once it goes there, what’s keeping the entire world from looking like a bunch of total nerds? That’s a bigger problem.

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Written by Mike Lewis

February 15th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

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An interesting article (Read the Article at HuffingtonPost) was sent to me today about the “quarterlife crisis” that people experience around the age of 22-26.

This is a common statement i’ve heard by many people. I think much of it stems from the expectations of family and society (aspirational TV, for example) going up and the realities of the world coming down (ability to get a job and succeed being that much tougher)

When the expectations and reality are conflicting, people get frustrated. Combine that with the trend that people move around so much and don’t have a solid “base” and you get a crisis. We’re malnourished in our relationships.

I can’t read an article like this and not immediately go bak to the book “Generation Me” which i wrote about here: http://loo.me/2008/05/15/generation-me/ Check it out.

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Written by Mike Lewis

December 16th, 2008 at 8:02 am