On the Music of TOO MANY COOKS & more

TooManyCooks

I was granted the opportunity to “speak” (via email) with the men behind the music of the very popular and highly praised (visual proof later) viral comedy sketch TOO MANY COOKS, Shawn Coleman and Michael Kohler. Shawn provided the majority of the information, but Kohler provided one tidbit. I came up with the best questions I could and Shawn took them and went flying providing some awesome tidbits and further insight into what and how this monumental project came together.

THE INTERVIEW

What was the composing process? Did Casper have a full sketch for you to work off of in creating the song or was it a collaborative process where you’d come up with musical cues that fit and then got added? How many versions of the song exist?

Shawn Coleman: Casper gave me the first 4 minutes or so and I did 2 or 3 demos for the main sitcom theme. I think Michael did the same. Michael’s ended up working best, so I took that and re-recorded it and started arranging it against picture.

Then we just kind of inched along with all of the genre shifts, I’d go from main theme into cop show, is this good? OK, little change here, change there… cop show into GI Joe, how’s this? We lurched along like that for a while, then we took a break so he could go off and shoot Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell and when we got back together he and Paul Painter had completely re-edited the whole thing and changed the timings, length of sections, everything. Usually when you write music to picture, the picture is “locked” and doesn’t change. I wrote them a long email about how much I liked it better before, but I learned I was beholden to the music and not to the overall quality of the thing as a whole. Once I ditched that mentality (and much of the stuff I’d already done) I was a lot happier.

Some sections actually worked perfect the first time, like the Snarf crawl.

Michael Kohler: When Chris (ed note: Chris is Casper’s real name) first approached me about doing this track, he said he wanted an 80s sitcom style piece, and his reference was the theme from the show Facts Of Life. He gave me a basic description of what the visuals were going to be, part of a rough edit he and Paul Painter started to put together, and some lyrics that he wanted to incorporate. I think the first time I read the line ‘Too Many Cooks”, I sang it the way it is now. It was just one of those things that happens once in a blue moon, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. The verse melody ideas literally, and I’m not kidding about this, popped in my head while in the shower, and I sang them into my iPhone so I would’t forget them. They are still in there.

After we played with that initial demo, Shawn morphed it into the different versions you hear throughout the short.

Is it ONE full composition or various bits edited together?

It is absolutely various bits edited together. I think it was 9 different Pro Tools sessions for the different sections that I bounced down to assemble in a master session. Keeping organized was a pretty major element.

How far in advance did you know you’d be credited via a G.I. Joe sequence?

SC: I found out about a week before it aired! I was initially the Cobra guy but Paul Painter wanted to be bad and he’s in charge of pictures, so he’s bad and I’m good.

How much research was involved and how much did you know off the top of your head how to recreate the feel of a sound? The Falcon’s Crest, Law & Order and Wonder Woman cues were just perfect so I’d love more about working those up were like.

SC: When I do parody stuff I try to work off of my memory of things without going back to the source and copping exact elements of it. That way I’m already sort of one generation removed from the real thing. I can also sort of mash two memories together– you liked Bell Biv Devoe “Poison” and you liked “Baby Got Back”, what if I stole a feeling from both of those? Puts you right back in Zubaz pants.

Praise for Too Many Cooks from top comedians, actors and artists
Praise for Too Many Cooks from top comedians, actors and artists

This goes into the development process above but I know the lyrics were written by Casper but did he actually state how many times to repeat Too Many Cooks and when the transitions needed to take place or was that a lot of back and forth to get the timing just right? He said in the reddit he worked intuitively, but was that process for the entire thing?

SC: It was pretty intuitive. He had the main verses in mind, and he knew we wanted to go for that repetitive-annoying transitioning to repetitive-funny thing. Initially he pitched it to me as the same song repeating throughout the whole thing, but we decided that couldn’t keep the viewer engaged– plus some of the genres just didn’t jibe with the original sitcom theme.

A ton of the actors happen to actually be really good singers as well, was there ever a thought of using them on the track (maybe they are, I have no clue who the girl voices are) or or are working with any of them in your studio now since most are locals?

SC: I got a great composer/singer named Cheryl Rogers to sing the female part. She used to have an office at Doppler Studios where I work. I sang the male part, not because I’m this awesome singer but because it’s a lot easier to revise and experiment when all I have to do is stand up and sing a new line. I played all the instruments (except the sax during the Roseanne round-the-table bit). Michael Magno and Patty Mack are credited on there too; they sang on Kohler’s original demo, which is what you hear over the closing credits.

We recorded a few other crazy ideas that didn’t make it in– one was to have the singers sound scared, like the killer was in the vocal booth with them! Unfortunately it didn’t quite read.

I also had Cheryl sing the main “Too Many Cooks” line, flipped it backwards, had her learn to sing it backwards, then flipped it back forwards. You can hear one of those buried in the “mixed-up” section before the characters and their chyrons* swap.

Did you work the sound effects as well in terms of the footsteps and sword strikes?

SC: Yep, I did all that stuff. I do all of the sound design for [Adult Swim]’s Squidbillies and I’ve done a good amount of advert work so that world is pretty familiar to me. This was made on a shoestring budget between actual “paying” jobs. I actually got an advertising producer I was in session with to hop in the booth and breath/run along to the Katie Adkins escape scene while we were waiting for approval on our TV spot.

*Chyron – Any predominantly text-based video graphic as used mainly by television news broadcasts

Shawn Coleman operates out of Doppler Studios and is the main sound and music guy on Squidbillies as well as much more.

Michael Kohler runs his work out of Bluetube and has done music and sound for Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Archer and many more.

 

This is a tribute I made to the excellent music, choosing another concept of Too Many Cooks.

 

C.O.O.K.S. must save the universe from B.R.o.t.H.

toomanycookowl

 

Too Many Cooks blew up all over the internet. If you missed it… well…just relax your brain and sit back for 11 minutes.

I literally became obsessed after. The brainchild of Casper Kelly, co-creator of “Your Pretty Face is Going To Hell!” as well as other great stuff it’s just a creation of insanity. Taking information from their reddit today after this thing literally was “selling like flapjacks”, it was a “shower idea” which only became something when the joke reached Mike Lazzo who even said that not even Andy Kaufman would try to turn this into an 11 minute sketch. The work by editor Paul Painter is just as impressive… taking all that footage and turning it into a cohesive piece of such expert humor which everytime you think my lag or feel too long finds just that right beat to make you stick along for the whole bit is amazing.

The awesome music was by Shawn Coleman and Michael Kohler, and seriously how they were able to create an earworm that just won’t go away is mindblowing. It was meant to be a parody and instead in their spare time they designed something that is UNDENIABLE. I’ve listened to this as much as I’ve watched it… maybe even more and that’s saying something. (It’s saying I’m crazy).

toomanycooksspace

My addiction went much further though. I wanted to know more about the actors. I’m not going to reference all of them, just a select few who had a cool internet presence.

Katie Adkins’ webseries DORMS (she was creator and director)

Katelyn Nacon plays ukele and sings and acts. I’d keep an eye on her. Also if the show becomes a series, she’d be the breakout maybe. I felt she was the breakout in the skit even.

One of the office workers, Marc Farley does his fair share of acting, but this bit from STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW is hilarious.

The female office worker, Karen Cassady is a great stand up and improv and she also like various others in Too many Cooks appeared in Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.

The girl who doesn’t mind being topless, Victoria Sun has a model mayhem, unsurprisingly. Actually shocked she doesn’t have more of a portfolio, she’s beautiful.

The “nerd” who spies on her and is also a superhero, Will Dove, has a VIMEO channel with some great stuff.

Jennifer Giles, the gun slinging lone female star of C.O.O.K.S., also has her own Youtube with an acting reel and really nice singing clips.

The “cool kid”, Gwydion Lashlee-Walton, has a Youtube as well with various different kinds of videos full of quality comedy/

Interesting enough, the serial killer played by William Tokarsky (who also was in Your Pretty Face) and the cop, Ali Froid (who has a demo reel on IMDB) both appeared in Swamp Murders, but albeit different episodes.

Also, two of the young girls, Morgan Burch and Jayla James appear in the currently in post production, Santa’s Boot Camp, as elves.

There’s SO much more I found in my addiction of discovering who the amazing people who were involved in this project are, but at some point, one must stop because they are getting murdered. I’ll just press this button here though.

TooManyCooksBird

The Secrets of the Empire are Now YOURS to have (Star Wars Empire that is)

starwars

From a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm announces discovery of the IMPERIAL HANDBOOK,

filled with secret intelligence for the Commanders of the Imperial Military

 Incinerator Stormtrooper New York, NY:  October 6, 2014: This fall, just in time for the holiday season, Lucasfilm announces the release of STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK, the latest artifact to come from INSIDE the STAR WARS® universe. From the book producers who unearthedTHE JEDI PATH and BOOK OF SITH comes the newest discovery from a galaxy, far, far away . . . . a guide for Commanders of the Imperial Military.

 The Empire has taken hold of the galaxy. Soon, with the completion of the Death Star, its control will be absolute. In preparation for this Imperial expansion, high-ranking officials from each branch of the Imperial Military have set down tactical guidelines and procedures as well as collected mission reports and classified documents for all newly ascending commanders.

In the wake of the Battle of Endor, members of the Rebel Alliance intercepted this top-secret instructional manual and have circulated it among their own commanders, who have added notes and commentary in the margins.

Housed in a protective case, this rare glimpse into the military governance and philosophy of the Empire offers a unique perspective no matter w6593-Star-Wars-Imperial-Handbook-Deluxe-Edition-1402445032hich side of the rebellion you’re on.

The STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK Deluxe Edition produced by becker&mayer! in collaboration with Lucasfilm, New York Timesbestselling author Daniel Wallace, and celebrated STAR WARS illustrators takes fans inside the world of the Imperial Military. To heighten the drama of the text’s backstory, THE STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK Deluxe Edition is housed within a sleek mechanical case. With the touch of a button, top of the case slides open accompanied by lights and authentic STAR WARS sounds, revealing the book within.
Fans can order the Deluxe Edition on beckermayer.com now. This edition is also available at most other major retailers just in time for the holiday season. STAR WARS fans will enjoy the creativity, innovation, and superb quality of this handbook as they gain new insights into the practices and philosophies of the Imperial Military.

STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK by various high-ranking Imperial Officials (& New York Times bestselling author Daniel Wallace), becker&mayer! 160 pages, ISBN-10: 1603803408, ISBN-13: 978-1603803403, $99.99, Fully illustrated-color illustrations, National on-sale date: October 14, 2014; Available at www.beckermayer.com and at most major retailers

 We Fight

“In-world” authors:

Imperial writers: Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, High General Cassio Tagge, Admiral Wullf Yularen, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti, and TX-5532

Rebel Alliance annotators: Jan Dodonna, General Madine, General Rieekan, Wedge Antilles, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Mon Mothma.

“Our-world” author

Daniel Wallace is a comic book expert, sci-fi sage, and lifelong geek. Author or co-author of more than two dozen books including The Jedi Path, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman, DC Comics Year by Year, Iron Man Manual, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters, his specialty is exploring the underpinnings of popular fictional universes. An avid genre fan, he has also worked as a professional contributor in the realms of Indiana Jones, Smallville, and Supernatural.

For more than 25 years, becker&mayer! LLC has created hundreds of innovative books that inform and entertain readers of all ages. THE JEDI PATH is one of several dynamic STAR WARS tie-ins created this year by the Bellevue, Washington–based book packagers becker&mayer!  Visit www.beckermayer.com for more information.

……………………….

LucImperial Handbook Release-FINAL (1)_html_3519119dasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, Star Wars and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.  All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

Mike Tyson Mysteries at NYCC

Mike Tyson Mysteries

I had the excellent opportunity to interview Mike Tyson, as well as producer/writer Hugh Davidson and writer/actress Rachel Ramras of [adult swim]’s MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES which premieres OCTOBER 27th, 2014 at 10:30 PM EST (or your equivalent to that).

Do not miss this one.  It is hilarious.  I have seen the first two episodes and they are great.

Pop-Culture Spectrum’s Pre-NYCC: Get this party started!

nycc-logo-low-res

This Thursday the Jacob Javits gets crazy again. It’s really hard to ever truly prepare for New York Comic Con and in 2014 it gets even crazier. More people, bigger guests, some seriously big panels and with construction on the main parts of Javits mostly finished, more floor to navigate and lose your mind at.

I am not really here to help you not lose your mind. Actually with some of the links I shall be providing you it’ll only make you lose your mind more in trying to determine where to go and what to be at while also being at this other awesome thing you want to go to or be at.

There are some truly important things that everyone seems to forget.

HYGIENE! Hygiene should be a common sense rule. You are going to be in a room with over 20,000 people. Probably more. They are excited, they are nervous, just like you. We will all be tired, sweaty, smelly, but general upkeep will allow us all to have a good time.

COMFORTABLE SHOES. The Jacob Javits center is unpaved bumpy concrete and manholes. They did a ton of construction but I don’t think ANY of that construction was paving the floor. You will be on your feet a lot. The convention center runs around 34th-37th street. It’s a big place and you’ll be running from booth to booth, panel to panel up and down stairs over and over again. Protect those feet.

And to borrow from  the new harassment policy.

BE NICE, BE COOL, RESPECT EACH OTHER.

Do yourself a favor though, new or old to comic con, read the newly built policy and really keep it in mind. We are all people and should respect that and some of us don’t identify that way and also deserve respect.

Now here comes a bunch of links of schedules and cool things happening at Comic Con that Pop-Culture Spectrum feels a little extra attention. I’ll be mentioning some not miss panels too, but firs this stuff.

Here’s what video game company BANDAI NAMCO is bringing to the show floor

First Second Books Panel and Signing Schedule

Andrews-McMell GO Comics Division schedule

Penguin Books schedule:

TOR‘s schedule:

One of PCS’s FAVORITE publishers in the world, QUIRK Books schedule.

Insight Editions Schedule

Here’s what awesome artist Christopher Jones has going on at the show.

Mimoco has some really limited power tube/battery extenders available:

But those are just scratching the surface.

Cartoon Network with Adventure Time, Steven Universe and more, Adult Swim with Rick & Morty, Robot Chicken, and the highly anticipated untitled Jack McBrayer/Triump the Comic Insult Dog show and Mike Tyson Mysteries, the new Star Wars cartoon Rebels, the entire cast of The Walking Dead, the first look at Netflix presents Marvel’s Daredevil, video game booths from Ubisoft, Activision, Bandai Namco and more, an occolus rift style ride based on How to Train Your Dragon 2, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the upcoming film Birdman, and just much more.

Then of course there’s still actually comics. Marvel and DC both going hard in presentations with panels, signings, and a presence around the entire show just through its properties in movies, television, video games and toys. One of the best mainstream companies Valiant has already announced their future lineup but will be going into detail and pushing hard. Then of course there’s Artist’s Alley with all the great indy artists, self publishers and more.

On top of that you still have The Block with all the vinyl toy artists, street artists and graffiti artists. Then the fringe. You never know what you’ll find at NYCC. It’s a great place for a product to debut designed for the new fan.

Last year, Einhorn’s Epic Cookies made their debut at the show. While they have a truly saavy connection to comics through their branding as well as having original comics developed by Kyle Starks and Jacob Chabot it’s their awesome cookies that make them awesome and I am glad they are back as should you be!

NYCC starts tomorrow. You can think you’re ready, you’re never ready, but you’ll have fun thinking so!

 

What Women Wants, God Also Wants from Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’ Mütter’s Marvels

Pick up Cristin’s fabulous book now!

(review and more forthcoming)

Get Lost with Adi Alsaid (You’ll be glad you did)

At the end of July 2014, Adi Alsaid‘s first mass market novel for teens, LET’S GET LOST, hit shelves.  I was first introduced to Adi at Book Expo America a few years ago when randomly at a panel he sat next to me and we struck up a conversation.  He handed me his self-published book SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN which I loved and I saw a future for Adi.  Fast forward a few years and that future is here, published by Harlequin, National tour and a marketing campaign that actually featured a physical car decked out as an ad.

LET’S GET LOST tells the tale of a single amazing girl through the eyes of the various people who meet her.  Adi Alsaid has an excellent handle at different voices and does so deftly.  He is truly a fantastic writer as I originally discovered with his first book.  He has an incredible use of word play.  You owe it to yourself to seek out both books, but definitely do not miss Let’s Get Lost.  It’s the true start of what I think can be a great writer’s career.

Adi was willing to take questions for me for an interview and he provided some really amazing answers.  I was able to come up with what I felt were four very meaty analytic questions that also provided more review structure and statements from this fantastic young author.

1.) In your many travels and life through Mexico, California, Vegas and Israel. can you name actual singular favorite locations. Such as favorite restaurant, quiet spot to read, etc.

My favorite bench in the world is in Pacific Grove, California, facing out at the ocean beneath a beautiful tree. An ice cream shop in Tel Aviv called Iceberg has lines out the door past midnight. Vegas has incredible spots to view the sunrise and the sunset. Mexican breakfasts are the best, no matter what kind of restaurant you go into.

2.) What was the journey from writing and self publishing to being picked up by Harlequin? Is there anything you miss from self-publishing? What do you enjoy most about being with a large publishing house?

I went to BEA a few years ago as a struggling writer, just trying to see what the expo was all about, maybe make some connections. At the time, my ex-girlfriend, who’d helped me edit the first book I wrote, SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN, was working at Simon and Schuster. She invited me to a Young to Publishing party, where I ended up meeting Emilia Rhodes, who would later be my editor at Alloy. A few months, maybe a year, after that party, Emilia and I got in touch and not too long after that I’d written the first half of LET’S GET LOST and a proposal for the second half, which was how Harlequin picked me up.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to garner a ton of support from Harlequin TEEN. They really believe in the book and the reach that they’ve had as far exceeded anything I could have possibly done on my own. I know self-publishing works for a lot of people, but it was not a good fit for me, and I’m thrilled to be where I am now.

3.) You’ve written two books now with multiple perspectives. Although you switched from first to third. Do you have a preference? Was there a particular decision making process of your narrator/perspective decision on LET’S GET LOST compared to SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN?

I’ve always been drawn to multiple perspectives, as a reader and a writer. I like getting inside people’s heads, and I think my natural inclination is to use as many voices as a given story will allow. I usually prefer third person, although it’s never really a conscious decision, just something that naturally happens when I start writing.

4.) You seem to have a focus on road trips and that experience. How much of your own life has found its way into your work? Do you have any road trip experience (experiences) or people you’ve met you’d still write about? Anything or anyone you’d care to share?

That’s something else that isn’t necessarily a conscious choice. Like Mario Vargas Llosa writes in LETTERS TO A YOUNG NOVELIST, ” The novelist doesn’t choose his themes; he is chosen by them. He writes on certain subjects because certain things have happened to him.” Life experiences definitely work their way into my writing although I usually dress them up in fiction to make them fit the context or be more interesting.

This one I haven’t yet written about, although the character involved is too bizarre to leave out of my writing forever. When I was traveling across the country visiting friends last summer, I was enjoying a cup of coffee in Pasadena when a homeless man started insisting to everyone around the he was the world record holder for thumb pushups. Which is not a thing. Eventually, after lots of ranting on his side and some good-spirited chiding from a group of construction workers nearby, the homeless man, who goes by the name Ohio, whipped his shirt off and started assuming the push-up position, his thumbs stuck out like a hitchhiker’s. The construction workers and I prepared to witness a man breaking his thumbs on the sidewalk of Pasadena. A security guard stood by, a hand on his walkie-talkie. Tourists stepped into the street to avoid Ohio. “We’ll give you a quarter per thumb push up,” the construction workers say, elbowing each other in the ribs, winking behind sunglasses.

Turns out, thumb pushups are a thing, and I fully believe he holds the world record.

Thumb pushups… sound like there’s an entire book in there somewhere.  Homeless World Record Olympics?  Maybe not the book for Adi, but with his flair for penmanship, I’m sure he could pull it off.

 

Special Edition NYCC photo essay

Cos-Play was definitely a thing at the scaled down, Special Edition: NYC. The new venture for Reed Pop!. the organizers of such events as UFC Fan Expo, New York Comic Con and the recently launched BookCon that took place on June 14 & 14th of 2014 was definitely a mini success with as I was there a quite more than I expected crowd and lots of quality comics creators promoting, selling, doing sketches and greeting fans. It was assortment of everyone as Marvel and DC both represented well, as did Dark Horse, Valiant, Image and a slew of self publishers, independent press and people just starting out through deviant and webcomics.

Among people there were Danny Fingeroth, former Marvel editor and writer, editor of WRITE NOW! and an educator in comics writing. Also, Laura Lee Gulledge, Harvey and Eisner award nominated writer/artist of the graphic novels Paige by Page and Will & Whit, who was also promoting the currently workshopping musical version of her second book. Valiant Comics has also been on a role since they returned to the world of publshing, hiring some amazing talents and doing top notch series… but they also got marketing and merchandising down with plushies.

NYCC is a huge show with major celebrities and a big part of this year looks to be pop-culture nostalgia. Already announced so far has been a Karate Kid reunion, a panel focusing on LOST and a U.S. appearance by the creator of Death Note and Bakkuman. Special Edition allowed for a focus on comics which can at times get ignored at the big show even if the big guns do come out firing. I hope the show did well enough so it can become something even larger yet kept as a comics focused and only comics focused event. Marvel and DC bring some mega booths to SDCC & NYCC each year and I think there are fans who would love to see that without having to experience the insanity of a everything in pop-culture event.

Photos from BEA/Book Con

A few weeks ago the 2014 Book Expo America happened and as every year I had an amazing time and scored many books and took not enough photographs.  Being a pop-culture blog I will READ most anything but when it comes to photos I mostly stick to the pop-culture end of things and that means movies, music, television, comics and in cases culinary (as I am a trained chef).

Top Row: Actor Neil Patrick Harris signs previews of his upcoming memoir “Choose Your Own Autobiography”.  Author Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket promoting his newest “FILE UNDER: 13 Suspicious Incidents” and upcoming “All The Wrong Questions Book 3″. Christian Rudder of the band Bishop Allen and co-founder of OK Cupid with copies of his upcoming “Dataclysm”.

Bottom Row: Gabrielle Corcos & actress Debi Mazar of Food Channel’s EXTRA VIRGIN, cook book out now.  Signmaker and artist Stephen “ESPO” Powers signs his Love Letter.  Winner of MASTERCHEF season 4 Luca Manfé with copies of his cookbook My Italian Kitchen.

 

A Very Belated Post MOCCAFest 2014

Life has caught the old Pop-Culture Spectrum by the whirlwind lately. Work, acting jobs, and more. Here are a few more portrait photos from MoCCAFest showing some of the amazing and wonderful talent the event brings forth.

Dean Haspiel
Artist extraordinaire Dean Haspiel

Seth Kushner
Writer/Photographer and all around ass kicker as he fights leukamia, Seth Kushner

Selina Briggs - The Jelly Empire
Artist & Toy maker Selina Briggs aka The Jelly Empire