Author Archives: Mickey Mills

A Night to Remember


“We have stuck iceburg sinking fast
come to our assistance”

Distress call from RMS TITANIC 11:55 PM Position Lat. 41.46 N Long. 50.14 W
At 2:20 a.m, April 15, 1912, RMS Titanic sank in the frigid Atlantic
waters off Nova Scotia – 1,517 people lost their lives that
early morning in the worst maritime disaster ever.
May we never forget the lessons of the past and the hope of tomorrow.


Deep Purple

Rock and Roll SatOne of the British bands to hit the scene in the late 60s was Deep Purple. For some reason they always seemed to be a tier below their British contemporaries.

First off I want to wish Ritchie Blackmore, one of the earliest members of Deep Purple, a very Happy Birthday. He turns 67 today.

Richie’s guitar mastery is second to few and in the days since Purple, he has stayed very active in the business.

The early lineups of Deep Purple:

Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar

Ian Paice – Drums

Jon Lord – Hammond B-3 Organ

Rod Evans (1968-69), Ian Gillian (1969 – 1973) – Vocals

Nick Simper (1968-69), Roger Glover (1969-1973) – Bass

Deep PurpleDeep Purple enjoyed immediate success when their cover of Joe South‘s, Hush reached #4 on the Billboard Top 100 in the US and #2 on the Canadian charts.

In October of ’68, Deep Purple opened for Cream on their Goodbye tour.

In 1971 the band released their most commercially successful album, Machine Head. The album included the song Smoke on the Water, which included the lyrics, “Frank Zappa and the Mothers, were at the best place around. But some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground.

These words are in reference to their recording plans for Machine Head. The band was originally booked to record at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. The Casino always closed in the winter months for refurbishment and Purple arrived on December 3, 1971.

Smoke on the WaterThe final Casino concert of the season was the following night when Frank Zappa took the stage. Sometime during the concert a member of the audience fired a flare into the building’s roof. Although there were no fatalities, the resultant fire ruined Deep Purple’s plans. The band retreated to a nearby theatre called the Pavilion, where they recorded a riff by Ritchie Blackmore provisionally named “Title No. 1.” It became one of the most recognizable riffs in rock.

Bass player Roger Glover named it “Smoke on the Water”, in reference to the band’s experience watching the burning down of Montreux Casino. A photograph of the burning Montreux Casino would ultimately be included in the gatefold of Machine Head’s album cover.

Machine Head would be the groups only #1 album. (#1 in UK – #7 US)

In December of 72, DP released Made in Japan, a double album live set.

Deep Purple was at the height of its powers. That double album was the epitome of what we stood for in those days. It wasn’t meant to be released outside of Japan. The Japanese said, ‘Will you please make a live album?’ We said, ‘We don’t make live albums; we don’t believe in them.’ We finally said okay, but said we wanted the rights to the tapes because we didn’t want the album to be released outside of Japan. That album only cost about $3,000 to make. It sounded pretty good, so we said to Warner Bros., ‘Do you want this?’ They said, ‘No, live albums don’t happen.’ They wound up putting it out anyway and it went platinum in about two weeks.

Jon Lord interview at[/box]

Despite getting to platinum in two weeks, Made in Japan topped out at #6 in the US and #16 in the UK.

This period also marked the beginning of the band’s decline. Roger Glover took an exit shortly after Made in Japan and was replaced by Glenn Hughes. Vocalist Ian Gillian was replace by David Coverdale about this same time.

Blackmore abandoned the band in mid 1975 to be replaced by Tommy Bolin.

Within a few months Deep Purple imploded on the wieght of Bolin’s drug use and Coverdale’s resignation. The breakup was publicized in July of 76. Guitarist Tommy Bolin died of a drug overdose the following December.

In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place with the “classic” early 1970s line-up of Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover and Paice. The reformed band signed a worldwide deal with PolyGram, with Mercury Records releasing their albums in the US, and Polydor Records in the UK and other countries. The album Perfect Strangers was recorded in Vermont and released in October 1984. A solid release, it sold extremely well (reaching #5 in the UK and #17 on the Billboard 200 in the US.)

The guys clicked along with miner skirmishes flaring up between Blackmore and Gillian over the years. Then in November of ’93, Blackmore walked off, guitar in hand, never to return.

Joe Satriani was drafted to complete tour dates in December and stayed on for a European Summer tour in 1994. He was asked to join permanently, but Satriani’s other contract commitments prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Blackmore’s permanent successor.

Morse’s arrival revitalised the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled Purpendicular was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles, though it never made chart success on Billboard 200 in the US.

Don Airey joined the group in 2001 to prepare for Jon Lord’s looming retierment from Deep Purple. Through the years there have been many shifts in the lineup but the 2012 Deep Purple looks like this.

Deep Purple

Men in Black 3

Friday FilmsIt was only a matter of time, relatively speaking. What would a world full of aliens do without the likes of Agent J and Agent K to watch their scaly backs? Get ready for Men In Black 3.

The Men in Black franchise of Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones is back in business, May 25, 2012. It’s been ten years since the dynamic duo strapped on their out-of-this-world weaponry and battled the so-called intelligent life-form Serleena (Lara Flynn-Boyle) hot black leather and all.  (Serleena, not Tommy Leee Jones)

In this reboot of the MIB team, Veteran MIB field agent Agent J learns that Agent K’s life and the fate of Earth are at stake. He must time-travel to 1969 to stop an alien criminal named Boris from assassinating K and changing the history of the planet, travelling back from the future to 1969 to team up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to stop the alien, while apparently also facing a twenty four hour time limit before he will be trapped in the past forever.

I see Murphy’s Law all over this one.

All I can say is I am ready to see the Men in Suits hit the Big Apple and save the world from a life without Agent K.

Josh Brolin absolutely nails Agent K.

Henry Loves Music


Henry Loves Music

I love stories about people doing good work, about people being of service to people that can barely be of service to themselves.

This is a story about Henry and millions of others like him. It’s a sad testament to what many of us have to look forward to assuming we have the fortune to live long lives. Or is it the misfortune?

Henry is an Alzhiemers patient. He has been in this nursing home for ten years spending much of it in silence, relegated to his wheelchair and effectively dead to the world around him. He doesn’t recognize family. He doesn’t respond to simple questions. It’s a life I watched my mother getting ready for. Her early stages of the disease were a glimpse of a future I don’t want to see.

It’s a terrible thing to watch someone at one time full of life and energy reduced to a struggle to contend with the most basic aspects of life. It’s insidious and medical science barely understands the mechanisms of the neurological aspects involved.

So getting back to Henry. His caregivers tried everything to communicate. Henry was a shell without reply.

HenryThen one day someone wraps ear phones around his head, pushes the iPod play button, and music from his era begins to play. Almost instantly, Henry lights up. His eyes pop open wide, his body begins to rock side to side, back and forth. He sings in a language that maybe only he understands as the music transports him to another time.

For a moment in time, he’s young again.

Henry’s story is included in a new documentary film about the subject of reaching the unreachable through music. Alive Inside is a wonderful program film about the Music & Memory initiative, designed to bring healing through sound.

They need your help.  Give an iPod. I did.

Movie Characters

Doc HolidayThere’s a phenomenon that happens when pop-culture collides with history. Characters of our past take on the persona of the performer who played them on screen.

A great example is Vil Kilmer‘s Doc Holiday in the movie Tombstone. I’ve seen pictures of the 19th century Doc Holiday so I know what the guy is supposed to look at. But when I hear Doc Holiday, I see Vil Kilmer.

I’m confident Moses looked nothing like Charlton Heston, but there you are. If you think about it, even the cartoon Moses in the animated feature, The Prince of Egypt, favored Heston. (Coincidently the voice of Moses was Vil Kilmer.) Ben Kingsley played Moses in the 1995 TV movie of the same name, but it is the Heston portrayal that will stand the test of time.

Some other stand out character portrayals are:

Jamie Foxx – Ray Charles

Anthoney Hopkins – Nixon

Ed Harris – Jackson Pollock

Josh Brolin – George W. Bush

Val Kilmer – Jim Morrison

Jim Carrey – Andy Kaufman

Paul Giamatti – Harvey Pekar

Helen Mirren – Queen Elizabeth II

Sean Penn – Harvey Milk

Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Truman Capote

Woody Harrelson – Larry Flynt

Robert Downey Jr. – Charlie Chapman

Tom Hulce – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Faye Dunaway – Joan Crawford

Sissy Spacek – Loretta Lynn

Ben Kingsley – Mahatma Ghandi

James Stewart – Charles Lindbergh

There are many more but I can tell you when I think of any one of these people I usually see the actor who portrayed them.

One of the best is whenever I think of Julia Child, I can only see Dan Aykroyd doing Julia “I seem to have cut myself” Child. And when I think of Richard Nixon, I don’t see Anthony Hopkins, I see Dan Aykroyd doing Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon. And when I think of Sgt. Joe Friday, I don’t think of Jack Webb, I can only see Dan Aykroyd as Sgt. Joe Friday.

Come to think of it, Dan Aykroyd sort of reminds me of Beldar Conehead. It’s a small universe when you look at it like that.


Beldar Conehead

Long live Beldar Conehead!

Blog Commitment

BlogThe last time I missed a daily blog post was late November, 2010. I wasn’t about to let the clock strike midnight without meeting my blog commitment. Time to soldier on.

The date was Novemebr 30, the last day of 2010 NaNoWriMo. I was deep into my second novel (still sitting on the back-shelf unfinished but that’s the topic of another blog I am busy procrastinating about) and focused on writing. Daily blogging was not on my radar.

On The first of December, 497 days ago, I wrote “WriMo in the RearView”. Included in that post was this paragraph:

[box] The annual novelist’s thrash known as NaNoWriMo is history, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Haunting Charleston is in a state of flux. During the course of the WriMo effort, I wrote myself into a bottomless plot hole from which there is no easy escape. The plot scenario was falling quicker than GM stock.[/box]

It seems odd to me that I can sneak in barely an hour under the wire and get in today’s writing to acknowledge my commitment to the blog. Yet I can’t pull myself together long enough to blow the dust off Haunting Charleston and get it finished. (sigh)

In three days I will hit 500 consecutive days of blogging. I came this close to starting again at day 1. It’s time to recommit to commit.

I can’t be so cavalier with my writing and hope to grow as a blogger/writer. Paying the bills is necessary and important but that stuff doesn’t do anything to help me grow as a writer. The only thing that does that is writing. Blog commitment is a small part of the solution but it is an important part of keeping the skills sharp.

I need to write a story…. soon… very soon.


QueenThe rock group Queen had their debut performance at the Marquee Theater in London on this date in 1973.

Although the guys got together in late 1971, it would be well over a year of reheasing and refining the Queen sound before they were ready to debut.

A week after their debut performance,  eponymous debut album Queen launched with moderate success in the UK. Their second effort, Queen II, didn’t do much better. It was not until their 3rd studio album, Sheer Heart Attack, did Queen gain international acceptance.

Lead singer Freddie Mercury died of Aids on November 24, 1991.

From Queen’s debut album – Keep Yourself Alive

Blog Spam

Blog Spam

Blog Spam! I hate it!

Okay, maybe hate is a very strong word. I loath it with every fabric of my key-pounding being. Blog spam is the bane of every blogger out there, yet even in its yucky ever present appearance, there is a bight spot.

Just the fact that I am getting tons of spam says that my blog is not invisible and is being seen in search engines.

I’ll log into  my blog dashboard everyday to write a new blog and the first thing I am greeted with is: “The spam list.” Awhile back I might go two or three days, sometimes four or five without seeing any spam. Here lately I’ve been seeing several every day. And those are just the ones getting thorough.

The WordPress Askimet sits between me and the internet, filtering through posts and keeping me safe from spam that never makes it to my inbox.

Now here’s the thing. Blog spam is a double edge sward. Getting blog comments is good and helps your blog ranking, so there is a compelling reason for allowing the spam to post comments. I get better ranking.

However, I think it is important that the comment has merit and is directly tied to the blog post it’s replying to.

Most blog spam comments are very generic by nature and could fit the post. For the most part its all auto generated and isn’t even close.

Even worse than auto-spammers are the occasional bloggers that will outright steal a post and copy it to their blog. Those bloggers are the low-life scum of the internet, incapable of abstract thought and creatively coming up with something on their own.

The internet will be a much better place when spam disappears, until then I will keep dragging spammers to the trash bin where they belong.

[box type=”info”] When auto-spammers start replying to this one, I’m going to allow them to post so you can see the silliness of it all. [/box]


Rolling Stones – 1962

Rock and Roll SatIn the timeline of rock the chance meeting fifty years ago today between childhood friends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and guitarist Brian Jones at an Alexis Korner concert in London, set the stage for the longest continuous rock act in history — The Rolling Stones.

Stones 1962Brian Jones was the initial leader but by 1969, with Jones’ personal life unraveling under the weight of legal and drug problems, Richards and Jagger took over primary control of the band.

The original 1962 lineup included:

Brian Jones – Guitar

Mick Jagger – Vocals

Keith Richards – Guitar

Ian Stewart – Keyboard

Dick Taylor – Bass

Tony Chapman – Drums

Brian Jones left the Stones in 1969. Publicly it appeared to be his decision but legal problems and drug issues surrounding the co-founder had become very divisive and on June 8th of ’69, Jagger, Richards, and Watts, met with Jones to let him know the band would be moving on without him. Jones was replaced by 20-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor (formerly of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers).

Charlie Watts took over drums in January of ’63. Bill Wyman replaced Taylor at Bass in December of ’62 but retired in January of ’93.

Mick Taylor left the band voluntarily in 1964. He was replaced by former Birds / Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Ian Stewart played piano off and on, and acted as road manager from the beginning until August of 1985. “Stu” had a heart attack that December and died in the waiting room.

Chuck Leavell, long time Allman Brothers’ piano player, stepped in as the unoffical Stones keyboardist in the wake of Stewart’s death.

After Wyman retired, Darryl Jones, a noted sessions musician from Chicago was invited to play bass, a position he enjoys today.

Considering the recent tift between Jagger and Richards another tour is questionable. With Jagger and Richards both enjoying a young 68-years-old, if they have one more tour in them they’d better get going. There’s just something about the prospects of 70-year-old rockers playing Carnegie Hall that doesn’t seem quite right.

Rolling Stone magazine is saying a Stones Tour for 2013 is being tentatively planned but everything hinges on Richards’ health.

I wonder what this Tour would be named???

    • The “Sympathy for the Doctor” Tour
    • The “Gimmie Seltzer” Tour
    • The “BooHoo Lounge” Tour
    • The “Bridges to Bathtime” Tour
    • The “Exile on Pain Street” Tour
    • The “Geriatric” Tour

Total Recall – 2012

Friday FilmsWay back to 1990 when the former Governor of California was an occasionally pretty decent action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger made a film named Total Recall.

This post is not about that film…mostly.

This is about a Hollywood slap-out of ideas and nothing better to do than rifle back through the catalog, shake the dust off an old script and see if a new movie falls out. It’s shake and bake movie making.

This is about the 2012 reboot of Total Recall with Colin Farrell reprising the Schwarzenegger role from the original. Watching the trailer I can gather that Farrell does a pretty first-rate job of rebooting Doug Quaid/Hauser. Farrell brings a certain savoirfaire to the role the Governator could never achieve.

But I have to ask you this… In what world could Kate “Beauty is such a burden” Beckinsale ever replace Sharon Stone? Surely a place does not exist.

Now, in the role of Melina, I liked the very under-rated b-role actress Rachel Ticotin who did a decent job in the original. She went on to do some very forgettable roles since including the hot prison guard in Nick Cage’s Con-Air. She was good but she’s no Jessica Biel. I expect Biehl, who rocks the action girl role, to really strut her A-game partnered with the action master, Colin Farrell.

I believe the original Total Call had one of the worst villain casting of all time with Ronny Cox in the role of Vilos Cohaagen. Cox was great as Captain Bogomil in Beverley Hills Cop but as a martian gangster, not so much. The flip side of that is the casting of Bryan Cranston, the chemistry teacher turned meth chemist in Breaking Bad, in the Cohaagen role. This oughta be something to see!

In the Kuato role, served up with a journeyman effort by Marshall Bell in the original, I’m interested to see what veteran British actor Bill Nighy can do with the part.

The original won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1991. For the time it was all cutting edge stuff. The same gags in the 2012 remake is common Hollywood action now. What you can do with green-screen and a computer these days is amazing. We are almost at the point where they won’t even have to build anymore sets. Actors will soon be obsolete or at a minimum… redundant.

And then what will Beauty Beckinsale do for work? Barista? Bartender? Meter Maid? Spokesperson for Actresses of Hollywood Remakes, LLC? Only time will tell.

This looks like a definite big-screen watch but the cost of popcorn and gas to get there may keep me waiting for the Amazon Prime version for $3.99. It ain’t cheap being a big Hollywood film critic!