Friday, December 26, 2008

Goodbye Part Two

Michael Crichton...man, your stuff scared the shit out of me. I read "The Andromeda Strain" in high school and nearly soiled my pants. I went back and re-read it earlier this year and it still had the same effect on me. Next came "The Terminal Man", "The Great Train Robbery", "Congo","Sphere" and, of course "Jurassic Park." "Prey" has been turned into "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Crichton has written or directed in several motion pictures or TV series. In the 1970s in particular he was intent on being a successful filmmaker. His first film, Pursuit (1972) was a TV movie both written and directed by Crichton that is based on his novel Binary.Westworld was the first feature film that used 2D computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the first use of 3D CGI was in its sequel, Futureworld (1976), which featured a computer-generated hand and face created by then University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke. Crichton directed the film Coma, adapted from a Robin Cook novel. There are other similarities in terms of genre and the fact that both Cook and Crichton were physicians, were of similar age, and wrote about similar subjects. Given the private way in which Crichton lived his life, his battle with throat cancer was not made public until his death. He died unexpectedly of throat cancer on November 4, 2008. On Crichton's death, long term friend and collaborator Steven Spielberg issued a statement: “Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosaurs of ‘Jurassic Park.’ He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the earth. In the early days, Michael had just sold ‘The Andromeda Strain’ to Robert Wise at Universal and I had recently signed on as a contract TV director there. My first assignment was to show Michael Crichton around the Universal lot. We became friends and professionally ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘ER,’ and ‘Twister’ followed. Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.” Amen, Steven. Man, this guy filled my nights with soooo much entertainment.

Danny Federici Where would Bruce Springsteen be without Danny Federici? The happy Hammond b3 in "Hungry Heart". The haunting throbbing mellow pulsating organ on "Point Blank" and "My Hometown". He filled in the band's sound and actually asked Bruce to join HIS band. Federici started to play accordion when he was seven years old, which he learned from watching The Lawrence Welk Show. When he mastered classical music and polka, his mother booked him at parties, clubs and on radio. While he continued his studies in classical accordion, he gained an interest in jazz and blues, after he heard a professor on Neupauer Conservatory of Music in Philadelphia play those styles on accordion.
During in-concert band intros, Springsteen often referred to him as "Phantom," sometimes said to be because of an incident in Asbury Park in the 1960s where Federici evaded a police crackdown that resulted in the arrest of numerous others. Federici attended high school at Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey. When he, along with Vini Lopez started the band Child at the end of the 1960s, their choice for a singer fell on Bruce Springsteen; Federici also joined Springsteen in other early efforts such as Steel Mill.
Federici's organ fills are a key component in the E Street sound, and sometimes take on a more prominent role, such as on the hit "Hungry Heart". His use of the electronic glockenspiel is also an easily recognized E Street element; he subsequently used electronic keyboards to simulate the glockenspiel sound. Another notable performance is his accordion solo on "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)". It was reported in an interview in Backstreets magazine that Federici did not have the best working relationship while playing with pianist David Sancious in the early days of the E Street Band; Sancious would comment on Federici's parts, constantly telling him what to play and what not to play. Federici married Kathlynn Helmeid, a flight attendant he had met on the Born in the USA tour, in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1987. After years of failed adoption attempts, they adopted two daughters, Madison and Harley. The couple separated in 2000 and divorced in 2002. Kathlynn suffered from Crohn's disease and died in 2007. On November 21, 2007, it was announced that Federici would take a leave of absence from Springsteen and the E Street Band's ongoing Magic Tour to pursue treatment for melanoma, and was temporarily replaced by veteran musician Charles Giordano Springsteen stated at the time: "Danny is one of the pillars of our sound and has played beside me as a great friend for more than 40 years. We all eagerly await his healthy and speedy return." Federici made his only return to the stage on March 20, 2008, when he appeared for portions of a Springsteen and E Street Band performance at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Federici died on April 17, 2008 in New York having suffered for three years with melanoma. Federici's son, Jason Federici, daughters, Madison and Harley and fourth wife, Maya, survived him.

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