We didn’t think I’d actually get to interview everyone I had on my to-interview wish list. That never happens. Only this time it did, which is how I came to have five different voices in my four-and-a-half-minute All Things Considered piece on the animation in Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, a movie I cannot wait to see again.
All of them—producer Chris Miller, producer/co-screenwriter Phil Lord, co-screenwriter/co-director Rodney Rothman, co-director Peter Ramsey, and finally, Eisner Award-winning comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, who (with artist Sara Pichelli), created Miles Morales, the primary hero of Spider-Verse—had smart, illuminating things to say. I spoke to Bendis solo and Lord & Miller and Rothman & Ramsey in pairs, and pretty soon I had something like 75 minutes of good tape for a story that could accommodate mmmmaybe two-and-a-half minutes of that.
It was an epic job of cutting, followed by more frantic cutting, and then more surgical cutting. My editor, Nina Gregory, and news assistant Milton Guevara, showed me how radio pros get things done on deadline. Bob Mondello, who’d suggested the piece in the first place, gave me some vocal coaching in the booth.
I wish we could’ve used more of what all those smart, imaginative people had to say. I wish we could’ve made the segment 15 minutes long. But I’m very happy with what we managed to pack into about 240 seconds.
Have mercy! This is just getting ridiculous now. For the lucky thirteenth iteration of my Yuletunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series, I thought that instead of releasing it in two indefensibly long parts, as had been my habit since I stopped burning and printing physical CDs of this thing—a nice bauble to thrust into some unsuspecting person’s hand, but expensive—I thought I would do a sort of podcast limited series of four episodes, released weekly, counting down to the Feast of Christmas. Because four is more than two—one hundred percent more, from a numerical perspective. And I believe in always giving one hundred percent, Christmaswise.
Here we are in Year Ten of the Marvel Cinematic Era, and not one piece of music has emerged from any of the two dozen films based on Marvel characters (released by Marvel Studios and others) that can rival John Williams’ mighty score for Superman: The Movie or even Danny Elfman’s brooding Batman theme.
For years I’ve wondered why this is. But only two days ago did I at last get to ask someone who might know. On today’s All Things Considered,I speak with Rupert Gregson-Williams, who composed the score for director Patty Jenkins’ fine Wonder Woman. You might even hear a cameo by one of the most venerable heroes of the National Public Radio universe, the great Bob Mondello.
I was thrilled to get an invitation from All Things Considered to blab briefly with the great Audie Cornish about one of my favorite movies on the 30th anniversary of its release: SpaceCamp. No, it was ALIENS. Duh. The segment aired at the very end of an ATC that started off with live audio of the “Roll Call Vote!” chant from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. They’re coming out of the goddamn walls, just like Private Hudson said.
You can hear the segment here. I had more to say than they could use, but that’s radio, and hey, this is a show primarily devoted to, you know, real news. One of the first pieces I ever wrote for NPR was largely about ALIENS. I have a narrow range of interests, I guess. And Fox just released a new batch of stills and behind-the-scenes photos from the movie, many of which even I have never seen before, so I’m posting those, too. Enjoy.
The thermostat at Downtown Boxing Club read 43 degrees — Fahrenheit — the Sunday afternoon I spent reporting this story for Metro Connection. It felt strange to be in a boxing gym and not be moving around. I’ve wanted to go train at this place for years; a couple of the guys I train with off and on have told me good things. Anyway, I’d better get on it: Downtown Boxing Club will have to move this year, for the third time in its 15-year existence.
You can hear the piece here. I was sorry to have to lose the part where trainer Dave White says that to land a punch you have to be quick enough to catch a penny.
I have a story on today’s episode of Metro Connection about Donald Tillery, a DC music legend who played with the Soul Searchers for 15 years. He’s a fascinating man, and I hope I’ll be writing about him again at much greater length this year. You can hear the piece here. Continue reading →
Thanks to Virgina Prescott and Word of Mouth for having me back on yesterday to talk about the dearth of new Christmas songs and make a few recommendations of less-familiar old ones. They were awfully nice about it when the battery in the borrowed phone I was using died mid-interview.