Richard Matheson was a giant.
We don't have writers like him today because we don't have any idea what to do with them. Matheson was born in 1926, and as much as any author in any genre, his work defined and reflected the tumult of the 20th Century. He had a remarkable voice as a storyteller, and it should come as no shock to anyone to see the laundry list of authors who claim that he was their primary influence.
First published in 1950, Matheson was on fire from the moment he was introduced to a readership. I can't imagine how amazing it must have been to be part of the The Southern California Writing Group in those days, with members like Matheson, Charles Beaumont, William Nolan, Ray Bradbury, and George Clayton Johnson, all masters in their own right.
As much as Rod Serling, Matheson was responsible for what we think of today as the "Twilight Zone" style of storytelling. Short, effective pieces that immediately create a sense of time and place and voice, and which end with a punch of some kind. Matheson had a real gift for creating a fantastic scenario and then somehow finding the very identifiable reality within that.
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Richard Matheson was a giant.
With “Rise,” platinum Christian hard rock bank Skillet has its eyes set on creating its own rock opera a la Green Day’s “American Idiot.”
Lead singer John Cooper, who comes off like a raspy Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, told Billboard that the album, out Tuesday (25) is filtered through the eyes of a teenage “coming into adulthood and he’s faced by the horrors that we see every day — floods, bombings, earthquakes school shootings... It’s about his path to salvation and wanting to be significant in some way.” Along the way, he is bombarded ceaselessly with images and feelings of horror, cynicism, and despair.
The album opens with the title track, which serves as a call to arms: “The time to change it all... united and fight to make a better life,” Cooper screams. “Tonight we rise,” he says in a clever take off on the more traditional “tonight we ride.” As he and drummer/vocalist Jen Ledger trade off vocals (as they do on several tunes), the song takes on a Paramore-like feel.
At the end of the song, we hear a 911 call from a teacher telling the operator “there’s a guy here with a gun,” as she tells the children to take cover, as well as news reports about economic failure. It’s meant to reflect the stress of the times (our protagonist’s father is also telling him he’ll never amount to anything), but the 911 call just sounds exploitive.
The aggressive album vacillates between the full-throttled angst and anger that comes with being a teen, such as on the hardest-rocking song on the album, single “Sick of It,” and songs that double as traditional love songs or about one’s relationship with God or Jesus, such as on “Fire and Fury”: “Destiny’s gotta hold on me/I guess I never knew love like love knows me/I need to feel you here with me/I will burn/I will die for you.” It’s to Skillet’s credit that the songs never sound watered down,when it comes to faith, but are universal enough in their appeal to speak to whomever is listening.
Skillet goes into overdrive on the tremendously-busy “Not Gonna Die.” Strings are furiously played, drums stomp, all in service of trying to replicate the urgency of the “stand and fight forever” lyrics. Fans of Evanescence will appreciate the “Wake Me Up” feel of the tune.
The one-two punch continues with “Circus For a Psycho,” an unrelenting slab of angst that opens with an Yngwie Malmsteen-like guitar lightning round that threads its way through the song.
From there, the tension breaks into ballad, “American Noise,” one of the album’s strongest cuts, and a welcome relief from the bombast. If we were still in a vinyl era, “American Noise” would start side two. After reaching a breakdown, the rocking isn’t over, but the desire to find some relief and take back some power starts to prevail.
On the swaggering “My Religion,” Cooper declares, “Who’s going to make me whole/nobody but you... you’re the only sanctuary that I know,” before declaring that he needs no steeple or priest or pew, in a song that some will see as heretic, while others will see as a direct profession of faith. The inclusion of “Amazing Grace” is a nice touch.
By the time Cooper and Ledger are singing “Down on my knees, you are what I believe” on closing tune, “What I Believe,” there’s no doubt that one journey has ended, while another is just beginning.
Skillet, which hasn’t released an album since 2009’s platinum “Awake,” takes an all-in approach to “Rise,” and their level of commitment is admirable. Every note of the Howard Benson-production feels like it is there to convey an emotion and there is a laudable sense of in-the-moment intensity that makes up for any of the overwrought moments.
"SNL" posts disastrous unaired Justin Bieber-Bill Hader sketch -- with commentary
"Greatest trainwreck ever," says Hader, whose "Song for Daddy" got no laughs from the mostly teenage Bieber fan audience.
"Mad Men's" Season 6 finale matches last year
About 2.7 million watched last night.
Chris Harrison blames "The Bachelorette's" low ratings on "The Voice," Memorial Day premiere
"They literally could not have picked a worse time!" says "The Bachelorette" host. 'We were also up against the final three weeks of The Voice. When I found out I was like, 'Great, I won't even be watching the premiere!'"
Watch rapper Wale in studio with Jerry Seinfeld
Check them out recording "The Outro About Nothing."
See Michelle Trachtenberg as Lee Harvey Oswald's wife
Here she is as Marina Oswald in "Killing Kennedy."
"Game of Thrones" will bring back a Season 1 character for Season 4
Alliser Thorne didn't appear at all in Seasons 2 and 3.
"Real Housewives of Miami" cast gets shaken up
Marysol Patton and Ana Quincoces have been demoted to recurring roles, while Karent Sierra isn't seen in Season 3.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Apparently, no music video has ever been shot on the top of the Empire State Building. Until now.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the New York band, took to a New York icon for their new clip for "Despair," the second single from their latest album "Mosquito."
Patrick Daughters -- who's totally our favorite -- shot the clip, which has the band meeting at the peak of the 102-story building in parts, with Karen O's vocal track starting out a capella. It crescendos to the rising of the sun at the same time as O sings (you guessed it) "my sun is your sun."
Even before the tragic deaths of James Gandolfini and Gary David Goldberg, Dan and I were looking at splitting this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast into two installments. Once we lost those two TV giants, the decision to split was easy. So you get tribute talk, an "Under the Dome" review and finale discussion of "Mad Men" and "Hannibal" today, and later in the week you'll get "Dexter," "Ray Donovan" and our pilot rewatch of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
The more I think back to David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche," which I saw at the Sundance Film Festival where it made its world premiere, the more charmed I am by its unexpected charisma, its personal flourishes and its central performances. It popped up as one of our under-the-radar films for the summer movie season, and indeed, when it hits theaters in August, it will be a nice change of pace for those looking for as much after the blockbusters have had their way.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - Chloe Grace Moretz is once again clad in purple and black leathers, just like the first time we met, but this time around, she seems far more confident and controlled.
On the set of the original "Kick-Ass," I was one of the very first interviews Moretz ever did, and part of what was evident on that set was how protective everyone was of her. Her mother, her brother, director Matthew Vaughn, screenwriter Jane Goldman… everyone was in that same mode, and for good reason. As we watch Amanda Bynes melt down in real time on Twitter these days, it is a potent reminder of just how much damage can be done to a young person when Hollywood gets hold of them, and no one wants to see that happen to Moretz.
Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be the case. Chloe seems level-headed and normal in every way, except perhaps for her obvious talents as a performer. She spends her time these days working with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, and it seems like she's being careful in terms of what projects she'll sign on to do. I have a feeling we're going to be talking about her work for a long time, so these interviews end up just being signposts along the way. Chloe at 12. Chloe at 16. Each time with a little more experience and a greater sense of self.
Michael J. Fox on Gary David Goldberg: "He changed my life profoundly"
Fox says of the "Family Ties" creator and "Spin City" co-creator: "With a full heart I say goodbye to my mentor, benefactor, partner, second father and beloved friend, Gary David Goldberg."
CW announces fall premiere dates
The fall season kicks off in October on The CW, starting with "Hart of Dixie" on Oct. 7.
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski apologizes for her disastrous Russell Brand interview
"I didn't know Russell," said the "Morning Joe" star. "And I don't think Russell liked that. And I've never gotten more vitriol and anger and hatred than I have over this so I apologize for not knowing." PLUS: MSNBC sorry for live Trayvon Martin trial F-bomb.
See a new (spoilery) "Walking Dead" set pic
One character appears to be undergoing a dramatic life change.
Lacey Chabert signs on for Hallmark Channel movie
The "Party of Five" star is joining "Alphas" star Warren Christie in "The Color of Rain."
"Breaking Bad" launches a "Name Lab"
Ever wondered what your name would look like as the show's title?
Mumford & Sons will embark on a month-long tour in August.
The Full English Tour, as the British quartet has dubbed the outing, includes four of the dates the group had to postpone following Ted Dwane’s brain surgery in June. The missed Bonnaroo date, obviously, is not rescheduled, but shows in Dallas, Woodland, Texas; New Orleans and Kansas City are.
Supporting acts are The Vaccines and Bear’s Den.
To purchase tickets, fans need to register at http://invitation.mumfordandsons.com/. Registrants will then get an email detailing how they can buy tickets.
8/26 - Molson Canadian Amphitheatre - Toronto, ON - Canada
8/28 - Forest Hills Stadium - Queens, NY (Gentlemen Of The Road presents)
8/29 - First Niagara Pavilion - Burgettstown, PA
9/02 - Klipsch Music Center - Noblesville, IN
9/03 - Marcus Amphitheater - Milwaukee, WI
9/04 - Xcel Energy Center - Saint Paul, MN
9/09 - Oak Mountain Amphitheatre - Pelham, AL
9/10 - Centennial Olympic Park - Atlanta, GA
9/11 - Charter Amphitheatre - Simpsonville, SC
9/16 - New Orleans LA @ Mardi Gras World*
9/17 - Woodlands TX @ Cynthia Woods Pavilion*
9/18 - Dallas TX @ GEXA Energy Pavilion*
9/20 - Bonner Springs KS @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre*
*supporting acts to be announced