Saturday, February 28, 2009

Most things celebrities do in their daily life don't really matter to me. Sure, I read the gossip on different blogs, but it never really changes anything about my existence.

When I first heard about this whole Rihanna/Chris Brown thing I felt bad for her. I don't really have a clue who Chris Brown is, other than a guy I went to UNT with, but I highly doubt this is the same guy. Her music is not my style, but I will admit she has some talent. It really sucks when people are in a horrible relationship where they are physically abused, not that a mental type of abuse is not bad either (on that note, check out the trailer for the documentary Must Read After My Death HERE ON APPLE'S SITE). Then I saw the picture...



Wow! He really did a number on her. The word through the grapevine was that she was not interested in talking to him at all and was pissed. Rightly so. This all changed late last night. A mere three weeks after Brown beat the shit out of her, Rihanna has begun to reconcile at Puff Daddy's house.

What?!

This is not 100% confirmed as far as I know, but there has also not been any statement from her publicist denying it either. If she really went back to him, she deserves everything she gets. Yes, it's hard to get away from relationships like this, but at the same time I am fairly certain all of her friends, not to mention most of the nation, are giving her sympathy. She has all the support anyone could want in this type of situation, and now she's going to throw it all away? What a fucking idiot. Not to mention the thousands, if not millions, of girls across the world who look up to her now think it is alright to try to make such a volatile relationship work.

"Well, Rihanna's giving him another chance and I think that's brave. I'm sure he can change." Let me let you in on a little secret - he won't change. He will get pissed off again and the same thing, if not worse, will happen. Maybe it will actually knock some sense into her.

What a Dog

I've seen my dog do a lot of twitching and growling in his sleep, but nothing like this.



That is all I have to say right now, it's late. I'm tired. Bed, I come to you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today I did a little work for a PSA at Sons of Hermann in Dallas. It has been a while since I've been there, but the place never changes so it always feels like you never left.

A couple of years ago I was going to an event at Sons and got there quite early. It was just a couple of people, the older woman working the bar and myself. I went to order a Jameson on the rocks and she said she was still working on stocking the bar for the night and had no ice yet. The ice machine was upstairs so I offered to get it for her. She gave me the keys and a large bucket. Three trips later she was fully stocked with ice and so I asked for that drink again. "On the house," she said.

Payment for my chilling efforts, I'll take it. Then as I began to order more drinks throughout the evening she always dismissed my attempts to pay. I ended up drinking well over half a bottle of Jameson for free. Sometimes it actually does pay to be nice. Remember that kids, and you too may get drunk at no charge.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I know I get annoyed easily, bitching and moaning over every little thing. The slightest inconvenience and I act like a fool. I have come to terms with my stupidity, but today I saw someone who is way worse than I have ever been.

The past week or so there have been some bank issues due to a deposit error so I've been trying to get everything back on track. I got a new check last night and went to deposit it as soon as I got home. The Chase bank near my apartment has an awesome deposit feature on the ATM, where it scans in the checks and prints their image on your transaction receipt. This gets rid of any problem with the bank saying they never got your deposit, at least I thought. Today I checked and it was not even showing a pending status on the deposit online, so off to Chase I drove.

When I arrived everyone was busy so I had to sign in and wait for the next available person, and there were two people ahead of me. No big deal, it is a little annoying but I just sat down to play Tetris on my phone. One pathetic game later I was still sitting, but I was next. By this time about five other people were now waiting alongside me. Most of them were quiet, but there was this woman who could not shut her mouth from the moment she entered the bank until I left. She did not have an account, but had a Chase issued cashier's check she wanted to cash. Because of this she had to wait for a manager to approve the transaction, and she did not like this at all.

"You're taking up my lunch break!"

"They don't care about their customers."

Once I was being helped the guy had to go check on something and said it would take him three minutes. He was gone probably around six minutes total. This woman must have been timing him, because about three minutes after he left I heard her behind me bitching, "that ain't no three minutes. He's gonna hear all about this when it's my turn." Sigh. While on my way out I heard her complaining to the customer service associate, while still not her turn in line, about how he was gone longer than three minutes. I just rolled my eyes and left.

Of course, she does work for Wal-Mart and they are all fucking morons anyway.

Sometimes I have a moment when I think back on my life and wonder how I ever lived without the internet. Yes, I do have an unhealthy obsession with the internet, but that is not exactly what I am talking about.

When I was in elementary school, junior high and even partly into high school and I wanted to know about something a big ordeal was ahead. A day spent at the library, searching through books and periodicals. Now I can find the answer to pretty much any question within a minute or less. You do not have to spend tons of time before a road trip mapping out your route, many websites will do it for you in a matter of seconds. Anything you want to know about any film, TV show or album ever in existence is somewhere in the wide array of the online community.

There are still those who do not fully appreciate this astonishing gift we have at our fingertips. Mainly it involves a lot of our parents and grandparents who call with questions that could be easily answered with a quick trip to Google. For example, my sister called me yesterday to ask me what the next door neighbor's name is in Toy Story. Having not seen this in years, I did not know the answer, but it is easily attainable. I asked my sister if she was at work/school and she was, with a computer in the room. Hopefully she looked it up. You could go to IMDb, type in Toy Story and look down the cast list to see if a name jumps out; or you could Google "next door neighbor toy story" and the first two entries answer the question without having to even click the link. Hopefully she did this, I'll have to follow up with her.

As technology gets more and more insane, with all that cell phones can do now, hopefully more of the computer inept will become enlightened and make use of this priceless tool. If not, I can still look smart to my parents when I look something up fast while on the phone. Thank you interwebs!

Monday, February 23, 2009

If you have never caught the show Ninja Warrior, you are missing out! I have been a fan of this ultimate, and insane, Japanese obstacle course for a while now and every episode I catch captivates me just as much as the first time.

Ninja Warrior, or Sasuke as it is know in its native Japan, began in 1997 and has triumphed through to present day. The usual contest consists of 100 competitors starting with the first stage, where most will meet their fate. There are three stages total and then the final obstacle, spider climbing, or rope climbing, up the 74 feet of Mount Midoriyama in 30 seconds. Currently, after 21 series, there have only been two men to complete the whole course. That should tell you how hard the obstacles can be.

On Saturday G4, where you American's can watch this great program, aired a marathon of the all female Ninja Warrior competition, known as Kunoichi in Japan. I watched a few episodes and had to leave so I let my DVR catch the rest of the day. Damn, some of these women are amazing athletes. Tonight I finished watching all of the most current series, and while no one made it past the third stage, only four made it to the second, it was still a great time.

CLICK HERE for a video of the amazing Ayako Miyake completing all four stages for the third consecutive time (stupid account disabled embedding for this video). Make sure you tune into G4 on Tuesday nights, and many times on the weekend, to catch this fine program. Soon you'll be ready to tackle Unbeatable Banzuke (Kinniku Banzuke)!

Jai Ho!

Overall the Oscar winners are to my liking. The only film up for best picture I did not see was The Reader, and neither did Hugh Jackman if you watched. Jenny and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire earlier this afternoon and everything this film won is well deserved. I especially like the young kids from the movie getting to fly out to L.A. for the awards, they look so cute in their tuxedos.

It would have been really cool to see Mickey Rourke win for best actor, but I cannot complain about Sean Penn. I felt it was between them all along and was probably only pulling for Mickey slightly more. If you haven't seen Rourke's acceptance speech from the Independent Spirit Awards Saturday night, then check the video below. He could have never topped this on ABC.



The award ceremony was much better than it has been in the recent past. I loved the Pineapple Express bit, Tina Fey and Steve Martin were hilarious and Best Animated Short's acceptance speech was brilliant. Best Asian speech of the night by far. The worst part - had to be the big musical number with Beyonce, it was just plain odd.

Most everything wrapped up quite nicely, Jackman did a decent job, his opening number was actually quite entertaining, but there was one question left unanswered. Who the hell knew Whoopi Goldberg has a huge dragon tattooed on her right boob?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I forgot to blog yesterday! Ahhh! To make up for it I'll write something else post-Oscars as a sort of "wrap-up" or something.

Worked a charity event last night for Limbs for Life, if you don't know they help with prothstetics for amputees. They had a theme dinner and auction so a bunch of wealthy types gathered to spend money for the cause. I have never been to any kind of a charity dinner before so my only experience has been from socialite photos in magazines and what I see on TV. It was pretty much what you would expect. They dressed to the surf theme and mingled with each other, gossiping. I did not talk to any of them, I just watched from my second level perch next to my camera.

Live shows are a pain in the ass. You never know where the on-camera target is going to move, and having the stage in the round did not help. Some speakers just stood still and turned every once in a while, and there were others who didn't stop walking in circles the whole time. For having one leg they can really move.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The plan tonight was to grab a bite to eat and head to the 7:15 show of Slumdog Millionaire. We finished eating and it was about 6:55, so we headed in the car and booked it. The highway would be faster right? No, traffic. We pull up to Northpark AMC, the closest one showing the film, and hurriedly walked through the huge, packed parking lot, up the escalator and in the long line. Jenny then noticed this showing was sold out. Bah. Hopefully, we'll check it out Sunday afternoon.

Later when I arrived home the movie Drumline was on TBS. When this came out I was stoked to see a movie about drumline and band. Then I saw the movie. It's pretty bad, and not the style of marching band I like or care about. While reading all the comments people have to say about the movie on IMDb, arguing if it is good or not, I decided to watch some drumline/solo videos on You Tube. I really miss playing a lot of the time. Yes, I have a practice pad and sticks, but it's the playing with a line that was so much fun. On the other hand I wish things would have been very different.

After high school I was near my drumming height, and while I had some pretty damn good chops I soon learned they were nothing. Other students I met at UNT were so ahead of my skill level. The faculty has a lot to do with this situation. Burleson's band directors could not care less about drumline, percussion or anything we had to do with. We had ever rotating drum instructors (I still love Larry Gerber) and the constant directors could hold sticks, but that was about the extent of their percussive knowledge. Since graduating, I hear they have had some better instruction. If only it would have happened while I attended. Sure, I could have worked harder and it is not entirely the program's fault, but you can only go so far on your own.

I wonder how much different things would have been if I went to a different school, or ours actually taught the drumline well? Would I have actually gone on and tried to be in a corps with DCI? Would I have not been a little too intimidated at UNT and stuck with their wonderful music department?

Here are a couple sweet solos from You Tube. Yes the snare drummer is a wee bit cocky and the tenor player drops a stick, but they are both amazing.




Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Judge Thee!

Today, I spent my time helping judge eight different short videos from high school students in a competition. These were not fiction, they had a prompt and had to sell the viewer on their program of choice at their school. The quality was widely varied between each disc. The bad were really bad, but the few good were really good. In fact, the first place team will probably be someone I'll end up working for in the near future. Bright kids with a firm grasp on the equipment and production process.

Watching the final products was entertaining, more for our comments/laughter between judges, but the interview process was, to say the least, awkward. I couldn't help but remember the few times I competed in UIL sanctioned events back in Junior High and High School. In Junior High there were a couple of drama tournaments were I did impromptu speaking and all I can really remember is Greg Montgomery snorting Fun Dip. His nose was tickled and when he sneezed red snot swung from his nose while we all laughed.

I never knew a class like this existed in high school. I of course knew of Jan (who could miss him, heh) but never really knew what he taught. Band and drumline consumed most of my life so I might not have had time for Media Tech, but I would have loved to do this. If only I would have started in the production biz then I would be much further along in the ranks than my current situation. Oh well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I complain about not remembering my dreams, but then you have one you don't want to remember and that is the one you cannot shake from your head. As explained before, most people's bad dreams I enjoy. I love the monsters and zombie attacks, but there are a few dreams I've had I just cannot shake.

Probably a couple years ago I dreamt of a zombie apocalypse in which a virus caused everyone to become sick, die and ultimately become the living dead. A group of us were hold up in an old school with a fence around it we reinforced. My little puppy, Fulci, was with me and things were great, until the day Fulci died due to the virus. He came back from death and was positively mad. The only weapon I had near me at the time was a newspaper, think Sunday edition size, and I had to use this to beat my poor dog to death. I know this was all in my head, but I woke up freaking out and grabbed onto Fulci and wrapped my arms around him. It was not a memory I wanted to keep, but I can still see it.

This brings me to last night's terrible dream. My mother was killed in a car accident, and it was not a pretty sight. There were pictures of her body being shown on a TV, while my dad was talking about everything, with my mom's body ripped open in places and part of her face missing. The only thing that made this worse was I went to the side porch, in my parents' house, and there was my mother's corpse already ripe and decomposition had already begun. All I could do was say, "at least they could have left a body bag." Not sure what that means but it was an odd thing to say.

I guess I've seen too many things you cannot "un-see." The grotesque aftermath of car accidents and such from sites like Rotten.com or any of the ilk. Probably only a matter of time before something like this happened. Hopefully writing this out will help the sight escape my mind, or at least crawl into the back.

Cross My Heart



I don't really know what to say about this video. Is there really this much of a market for this? How many people are going to buy this in the U.S.? Everyone knows Japan is a bit out there, and we Americans can't get enough of their crap, so I'm sure you'll see these here before you know it. The next anime convention are going to have Dragonball Z characters running around in man-bras, chomping down on Pocky and downing Ramune. This would almost make it worth going to A-kon... almost.

This brings up another confusing subject - cosplayers. I guess it is no different than dressing up in any costume, or as a zombie, but there's just something a little more "off" in my opinion. Big foam swords twice as tall as you are and a tail? Hmmmm. I remember at the Canadian National Expo a couple years ago (I attended for the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear), there were a few thousand people, and half, it seemed, were all in full costume. There is a park across the street from the Toronto Convention Center and this is where a ton of cosplay people decided converge. It looked like an anime exploded. I had a notebook, a marker and a digital camera. My plan was to write "GAY" on a piece of paper, stand in the middle of the group and have one of my buddies take a picture. They didn't want to do it and talked me out of it. I regret this everyday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Earlier today I went for a walk with Jenny and Fulci. On the way back from a back alley behind some houses there was a small, silver ball slowly rolling our way. No kid chasing it, didn't even hear any out and about. We kept walking, periodically checking to see if it had reached the street yet. As it did, a driver hit their brakes in case some dumb kid came tumbling after. This caused my mind to drift back.

Remember in driver's ed, all the weird scenarios you had to go over, and over, and over again? Stuff you thought would never happen like it does in those cheesy videos. I felt that way too, until one day out in the car with good ol' Coach Horner. We were going through a residential area during the summer, so there were plenty of kids dicking around in their yards. I was going steady, with my hands at ten and two, when it happened. It was as if some sort of joke was being played on me. Parked cars all along the street and the faint noise of children could be heard, when a small rubber ball rolled out into the street. Kind of like a kickball. I knew to hit the breaks and sure enough some oblivious kid fumbled after his precious ball. I could not believe stuff like that really happened. Of course, since then I have gone through many of those "worst case scenarios" - hood flying up and blinding my vision, pretty much anything imaginable involving ice or other stupid drivers.

Another great thing happened that summer during driver's ed. I was in a car with two girls, Emily Hodges and someone I do not recall, so the coach was pretty tough on me. The smallest of errors was met with his fist hitting me in the right arm. I had a bruise there for the duration of our rides together. Anyway, our first day out he drove us out in a rural area and Emily was game to go first. She was cruising along like a pro, or as much of a pro a sixteen year old can be. Up ahead there were several birds in the road, Horner told her, "go ahead they'll move." She kept on, and they all flew away - all but one. This little baby bird, probably too young to fly, hopped around until his life ended at the hands of our car's tires. She was tearing up, the rest of us were laughing and she would be known for the rest of the course as "birdslayer."

If only I had the video that Travis was taking last night at The Tipperary.

We were getting all ready to play last night and this table of three women were already there to watch. Jan spent some time talking to the most outgoing of the three about Celtic music. Then I began to notice as we began to play, she was standing up for the majority of our tunes. Not like should could not see, there was no one obstructing her view but she was clapping along and having a good time. All that was missing was hopping up and down while throwing a fist in the air and I would have felt like a Celtic rock star. Watch out Needfire, I'm coming. Ha!

As the night went on it became more apparent that she was not just standing and clapping, but there was a little sway in her stance. Like an Irish stripper without a pole she was shaking her pale, and probably freckled, ass to the tune of "Donald Where's Your Trousers." More songs, more dancing. More beers, more sultry movements. During one of the breaks some friends of ours, Travis and Lindi for those in the know, were discussing her talents, as they were sitting directly behind her. During the final set before they headed for the door, Travis held his digital camera in the air and proudly captured her choreography forever. I must get a copy of this.

The crowd was dissipating, our gear was packed and then we noticed a strange sight. Our private dancer had her face attached to the neck of the gentleman a table to her left. I guess being single at a bar on Valentine's Day will get you somewhere. Just look for the woman dancing alone, seductively, to Celtic music and you can bet that condom in your wallet will fulfill its destiny.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day.

This day is a day full of flowers, candy, expensive gifts, fancy restaurants and love. I wanted to have some sort of funny valentine's related anecdote, or even about relationships but I couldn't think of one. I'm sure I have something I could talk about, some of you probably have one that you know about me, but today I'm drawing a blank. So, instead of focusing on the abundance of love that will be everywhere you look today I have decided to talk about the death and destruction in this day's history.

Just a quick look at today's date on Wikipedia it is easy to see the tragedies which have occurred on this date. Most famous out of all would have to be the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. Prohibition was in full swing and there arose a conflict between Al Capone's gang and that of Bugs Moran. Capone's guys arrived, a couple disguised as cops, and gave seven of Moran's guys lead Valentines. Although Moran was not hit, Capone's hit became quite a story. Pictures of the bloody bodies, fraught with bullets, made the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Why don't they post those kind of pictures anymore?

Also on this date, in 1989, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on author Salman Rushdie because of his novel The Satanic Verses. He, along with the majority of the Muslim community, was outraged by the blasphemous remarks Rushdie made involving the Prophet Muhammad. There are verses taken out of the Quar'an which Muhammad spoke but found out they were sent by the devil as a trick. The book kind of implies not only those verses but the majority of the Quar'an should be considered crap, and Muhammad, along with many others in Muslim history, are perverted into mockeries of themselves. Rushdie even went so far as to name the whores in the town brothel after Muhammad's wives. Needless to say this did not sit well with the Muslim community. The book was banned, burned and berated at every turn, and that is when Khomeini issued the fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Rushdie for blaspheming Muhammad. Where is the love?

There are many more sad things in this day's history - Philippine bombings (2005), Northern Illinois University shootings (2008), 92 people dying in a plane crash in India (1990) and Arizona becoming the 48th state (1912). So, if you are part of one of the many marriage proposals out there, when you are down on one knee, or holding your shaking hand out to your boyfriend, take a moment to think of all the bad things on this day.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Stitch it Up!

As probably everyone in the world knows by now, there was a woman who gave birth to octuplets less than a month ago. If this were a birth that just happened, like Apu and Manjula, it would be one thing, but to have it done artificially?!

News has come out since the birth about the shady situation surrounding Nadya Suleman's octo-birth. She is single, lives with her parents, oh, and she has six other kids! By now she knows how to handle it all by doing first thing most moms do after giving birth, get a public relations team. If that was not bad enough then we find out all of the, now, fourteen kids have been injected into her by a doctor. She was already on food stamps, of course, how the hell else is she going to pay for those kids? Three of her previously existing kids are disabled, so she gets government money for them, upwards of $2000+ per month. Her eight newborns are all in NICU, which will average to around $1 million when all is said and done. Where is this money going to come from? California tax payers.

Once the kids get home, I'm sorry to her parents' home, she plans on going back to school for her master's degree in ... wait for it ... child and adolescent counseling. HA! When would a mother of fourteen children have the time for school? Before she went back to school for her bachelor's degree she was a psychiatric technician. I don't think anyone who does this, then tells Ann Curry she's unfairly judged because she's a single mother should be counseling anyone. People aren't judging you because you're a single mother, it's because you're a single mother with fourteen fucking turkey baster injected kids!

I used to think that Duggar family with seventeen rugrats was disgusting, but at least they did it naturally and take care of them by themselves for the most part. Suleman is counting on her parents, both in their mid to late 60s, for all the help. I hope her mother can handle it since her father went back to his native Iraq to work as a translator and driver to support the brood.

People should not have kids when they cannot care for them. If they can't pay, keep your legs closed; or in this case, stop having a doctor shove handfuls of fertilized eggs in your uterus. This doctor is under review, and he should be slapped. If, no wait, when the many bills for these kids is put upon California residents they better have her uterus yanked, or her vagina sewn up.

I wonder why she's getting death threats? Those poor kids, it's a shame their mom is such a dumb bitch.


Maybe if I stare at this long enough the stomach will explode. I can only hope.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mama's Boy



Platinum Dunes has quite the reputation when it comes to the horror remake. I guess they should, considering that is all they seem to "know" how to do. Tonight's midnight screening of their new Friday the 13th reboot was met with fairly low expectations, and, maybe because of it, I had a good time.

The problem I have had with PD's past remakes are, well, they suck. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the closest to being alright, not the prequel however, that was pure crap. Chainsaw's biggest flaw, of which there are many, is how they portray Leatherface. He is buffed up and made out to be this hulking brute killing machine, none of the character's flaws which made him so disturbing are there. He is not just another slasher villain. When tackling Jason Voorhees, that is completely acceptable. He is the dark, giant killing machine. Director Marcus Nispel, who also helmed the TCM remake, hit closer to gold with this one in overall feel.

The other big thing you have to worry about in a slasher film is the script. HA! Of course, I'm only kidding. The validity of the story is one of the furthest things down on the slasher film checklist. Next up are the conventions this genre has become known for; impurities for which our young cast will be punished - or drinking, drugs and premarital sex. One thing you cannot say as this flick's credits roll is they skimped in this department. You are practically inhaling the weed (did you know there's a hidden pot crop by Crystal Lake?), tasting the copious amounts of alcohol and you would swear you can feel the plethora of boobs hitting you in the face. I felt like shoving dollar bills in the projector.

Lastly, and probably most important, are the inventive ways these kids will meet their end. Kill scenes can really make or break this type of film. Luckily there are plenty of good ones to keep the horror newbie in the audience shrieking as the veteran gorehounds lean back and smile. A sleeping bag is deployed as a sort of weapon for a third time in the long series, but it is in a much different way this time. A way that caused me to smile. I don't really want to talk about these too much, it's really the best part of any slasher. So, be surprised.

The bad? Well there are a few things I would do a bit differently, but I didn't make the movie. Most of these would be spoiler related so I'll just mention one - the music. I guess you really cannot get around using popular music in a "present day" set film, but it does get a bit annoying. Slashers, to me, should have a background track of some ambient tones or shrill strings. This film did have that at times, but others had the teens racing through the woods as heavy industrial blasted its way into your eardrums. This company already completely misused Nine Inch Nail's "Closer" in their redo of The Hitcher, now they berate us with more industrial rock. Am I watching a horror flick or in a goth club?

Overall I would say this is a fun film. No way can it ever take the place of the original series. You cannot erase that kind of nostalgia or cheese the 80s delivered. I can't speak for their upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, but it seems Platinum Dunes finally did something right.

Here's a little treat from Friday the 13th Part VI - Jason Lives (my favorite of the series) courtesy of Mr. Alice Cooper... and You Tube, of course.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

After watching some of the extra features on the new Blu-Ray release of the original Friday the 13th (finally uncut) I remember the worst part about going to conventions. It's awesome to see the stars of horror films you love and even hear them speak, well some of them, at a Q&A session. The problem comes with the idiot fans who don't pay attention or just ask/say stupid things.

One feature on the DVD is from a Friday the 13th reunion panel last year. Adrienne King is there with Tom Savini, Ari Lehman, Bestly Palmer (who looks remarkably like Jenny's mom), screenwriter Victor Miller and composer Harry Manfredini and they tell stories and answer questions. Pretty much what you would expect. Everything seems to be going smoothly until they show some schmuck in the audience who asks King if she can demonstrate her wonderful scream the producers loved so much when they cast her. Dear Lord, there is one in every group. They are not some sort of circus animal. Some con regulars will be happy to do this type of thing all the time, but they are attention whores. Cough, cough, Lehman, cough.

Even worse than the "dance monkey, dance" fan are those who don't pay attention. At a Malcolm McDowell Q&A I attended last year he was asked a question about some voice over work he did. He apologized to the young woman asking, but he, like most other actors not working solely in voice over, admitted those gigs are just an easy check. He goes in, reads what is on the page a few times and tells them to drop the check in the mail while on his way out the door. Not but maybe two questions later someone asked about the character he lends his voice to on Metalocalypse (great show by the way). The area I was sitting in seemed to collectively shake its head at the idiot who asked the question. I did feel a little better when McDowell's chastising of the fool for not paying attention was followed by applause from the rest of the room.

Another unenlightened group does so on a more personal level, at the autograph table. This can be better for everyone involved because there is not the public display for both parties when something stupid is asked or brought to the guest's attention. I have many examples of this but I'll stick with two I have seen/overheard while waiting for a chance to meet-and-greet with George A. Romero. One involves an imbecile who brought up a copy of the Resident Evil video game to be signed. It is true Romero was a heavy influence on the storyline of that game, but his ideas were never compensated. In other words he had no involvement with the project, and was a bit ripped off by it. The second instance, and the worst I've ever seen, was when this complete moron tossed a copy of Dawn of the Dead on the table to await an autograph. The only problem is it was the DVD of Zack Snyder's remake, which Romero was very much against.

Both dimwits did not get their items signed and seemed not to understand why he was a little peeved by their request (more so with the Dawn of the Dead fiasco). Why were they waiting in line if they obviously don't know anything about the man? Will these people ever learn?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bad weather in Dallas tonight. Actually it is throughout the North Texas area, but the rain is not kidding around. When I left the house earlier to pick Jenny up for dinner and a movie it was pouring and then stopped completely until I got home, some four and a half hours later. The air was calm when we left the movie theater, I dropped Jenny off and noticed lightning starting as I made my way home. I parked and got out of my car and the sirens started. There was no mad dash for my apartment, but there was no sauntering either.

I should have known there was no tornado about to blow through my apartment. The sirens are used way to frivolously. Bad weather was approaching, but it was just high rains. In a perfect world, to me, these sirens would only go off if something very disastrous is approaching. A tornado has been spotted coming for an area, a siren. The rain is going to pick up, no siren. I know they cannot track tornadoes quickly but I believe they have a general idea.

You may disagree, but this siren leniency does nothing but instill pointless paranoia. The same people who freak out and drive like morons when it is barely drizzling outside hear the sirens and become even worse. At least if they were used more sparingly, for real emergencies, their alarm would be somewhat justified.

On the other end of the spectrum there are those, like myself, who hear the siren and dismiss it as another useless noise - kind of how car alarms have become in our society. Someday we who dismiss the warning will be bitten in the ass like those around the boy who cried wolf.

---------------------------------------

On a brighter note, we saw Coraline in 3D tonight. What a wonderful film. The stop motion animation is only outshined by the beauty of the pieces it manipulates. Neil Gaiman has written a highly imaginative story and Henry Selick adapted for the screen perfectly. I have not read the book yet, but you can bet I'll buy it now.

One crappy thing to come of this movie is the unenlightened members of the press. More than one source, including the Chicago Tribune, have referred to the film as Tim Burton's Coraline. It's bad enough that Selick had the glory stripped from him with Nightmare Before Christmas, but now he does a movie away from Burton and neither he, or Gaiman, get praise? What the hell? Do your damn research "journalists!"

Go out and see Selick and Gaiman's Coraline, preferably in 3D if it's playing around you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hit Me

Last week I was working on a commercial shoot in Oklahoma at a casino. These are nothing like those in Las Vegas. The glitz and glamor have been traded in for four walls in the middle of a corn field and some slot machines. It's not that these establishments are small by any means there is just something a little, well, sad to them.

In Vegas everything is big and flashy. The waitresses buzz around to bring drinks to the busy gamblers, pit bosses patrol in suits and there is no time of day, just existence. I know there are plenty of people who gamble their lives away in Vegas, but you don't really see it. So many out-of-towners fill the casinos 24 hours a day so you have a hard time distinguishing them from the locals. However, if you head just north of here an hour and a half on a weekday afternoon you can visit a sad sight.

The parking lot is full of cars, and I don't know many people who vacation in lovely Oklahoma. If you want to gamble and take in a holiday you go to Vegas, Atlantic City or even Shreveport, but not Oklahoma. All of these slot jockeys must be "pro-gamblers" who spend their workday pumping money into machines, or playing some of the few table games. There are ATM like machines for cashing in your game receipts or cards. The few I saw make a transaction were not big winners at all. Totals in the 20s or 30s. Is it really worth it?

I used to think they should legalize gambling in Texas so they could turn Reunion Arena into a huge casino, but after witnessing the sad weekday crowd I think not. Dallas could never be Vegas, so who would travel here just to play some games of chance? It would just be the addicts pissing their money away all the time. At least with having to drive or fly to a casino they can keep a little bit.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Today I watched The French Connection for the first time. I have a list of AFI's top 100 films and I'm slowly making my way through them one at a time. I heard many good things about this film, especially about the car chase, but for the most part I may have been too hyped. It is not a bad movie by any means, things are just much different with police procedure today and in cop flicks. You can definitely see the influence The French Connection has had on many police action entertainment since 1971.

The characters were well cast and Friedkin did a great job with his directorial choices, everything just seems rather slow. There is a lot of walking around, building very little suspense. Doyle (Gene Hackman) is actually really bad at tailing people, in a car or on foot. I know it would be easy to lose someone in a busy subway terminal in New York City, but damn, back off a little.

What I always find a little interesting when watching any movie from years ago is how society has changed. There is the usual smoking everywhere (especially great when in a hospital) and the lack of political correctness, but it does not stop there. There is a scene where a couple of guys go and buy round trip airline tickets to Washington DC that is really odd. Not only does the ticket counter girl not ask for I.D., the customer is left to write his, or her, own name on the ticket. I cannot believe that is how things used to be when now we have to show tons of I.D. and take our shoes off before boarding a plane. Weird. I wonder how much things are going to progress thirty years from now. We're not going to be able to go anywhere.

By the way, the car vs. train chase did kick ass.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I made a cake. I have made this one before, it's something that I kind of experiment with. There are multiple different recipes fused together. Last time it tasted great and I did a few things a little different. Hopefully it will be just as good, if not better. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

The Dark Chocolate Rum Buttercream.


Here is the first Devil's Food Chocolate layer iced.


Here is the second layer - Cheesecake!


The cheesecake layer iced with toffee bits.


Side view with the third Devil's Food Chocolate cake layer. Looks kind of like an ice cream sandwich.


All covered with icing.


And finished off with more toffee bits. I'll let you know how it is.


Everyone talks the subject to death, but it seems that no matter what it just continues to plague our entertainment industry. No, not reality. Remakes. Cue Bernard Hermann's Psycho score.

Even though these rehashes are always around it seems a lot of them come out at the same time. A few weeks ago My Bloody Valentine 3D came out, and the only real good thing it had going for it was the 3D gimmick. Right now you have Pink Panther 2 hitting theaters (which is a sequel to a remake), and next week is Friday the 13th. Now, I don't want to go see F13th, but as Peter Griffin says, "it's like sex with Kobe Bryant, you can fight all you want, but it's gonna happen." Maybe I'll see it because I've heard good things online from early screenings written by reputable sources, or maybe because my mind is a glutton for punishment.

they also have other remakes in the works. Most of the ones I know about are horror like Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser and Robert Rodriguez has Barbarella and Predator tapped. Is it selfish of him to be working on two remakes, or just lazy.

To the credit of these films some of them are decent, but not eclipsing the original. Dawn of the Dead was fun, for an action movie, I even liked Tom Savini's early 90s remake of Night of the Living Dead. Platinum Dunes, who are bringing us F13 and NOES, did The Hitcher, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville Horror - all sucked.

There are two examples of damn fine remakes I always give. They both leave the original in the dust and still hold up to this day. The first is one of the best, scariest horror/sci-fi films of all time, John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Perfectly cast, wonderfully written and expertly shot there are few films which can touch this classic. The second is David Cronenberg at the top of his game with The Fly (1986). Even if it spawned a pretty lame sequel you cannot deny the power of the Brundlefly! Besides, Jeff Goldblum ... is there anything else that needs to be said?

If it's not a remake then the next big thing is taking "hits" from other countries. I just watched Mirrors a couple of weeks ago, which was a 2003 Korean film called Geoul sokeuro. Just a few months ago Quarantine hit theaters, which I haven't seen, and if you haven't seen it please hold out and wait for the source material to be released in the US first. [Rec] was made in Spain and is one of the best horror films I have seen in a long time. Great atmosphere and scares that should not be ruined by our country's take. More and more it seems films get lit to be Americanized before they even come out, sometimes even in their own countries.

I just wish that more original films would hit theaters. Maybe all the new ideas are gone.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

While getting groceries out of my car earlier my downstairs neighbor came up to me to ask if I was home Saturday night. The reason - someone broke into her apartment. I know I'm probably a dork for thinking this, but it's a bit scary. Just to think if they would have gone up one more floor, to the third level, then it would have been me.

I have always kind of thought the good thing about being on the third floor is it acts as a deterrent for burglars. How many burglars really want to go through that much trouble? Sure, there are professional thieves who hit nice neighborhoods and such who would take the time to do a ton of planning, but where I live? This is a relatively ghetto area, lower income so most break-ins are probably from asshole petty criminals looking for electronics or things to pawn, so for those would they really carry a bunch of stuff down three flights of stairs? I would think they wouldn't, but I could most assuredly be wrong.

Even though my dog is small I wonder how much he would play in stopping a potential crook. If someone came up to my door, back or front, and started to make any noise would they stop when he began to bark? He barks at many noises outside the apartment, like people being too loud in the stairwell, or when I come home and fumble with my keys outside. I never really thought of Fulci as a guard dog, but he just might do the trick.

I can't even imagine how I would feel about someone stealing my stuff. I have renter's insurance and most of my stuff could be replaced, but it is a hassle. What if they took stuff I couldn't replace like my computer full of files, pictures and others? Not only would I be extremely pissed, but then there is the whole violation of personal space to consider. When I was young, about three or so, and my sister was still just a baby we came home with my mom and burglars were in the house. Luckily we scared them away, and while I don't remember if they actually got anything my mother was pretty shaken up by the whole ordeal. It could have turned really bad, really quick.

It's just a scary thing to think about.

lux1lux2
I don't remember the first time I heard The Cramps, but I do remember I fell in love right away. It could possibly be with Surfin' Dead in Return of the Living Dead, or countless other places. What made this band so special were the two who started it all Lux Interior and the lovely Poison Ivy. They met and their love of B-horror/Sci-Fi and music meant they could only do one thing - start a band. Many credit them for starting the Psychobilly genre, when they do not really fit in that category themselves, but every bass slappin' psycho band out there owes a lot to The Cramps. They mixed rockabilly, surf, garage and punk with Lux's wonderfully demented voice and created something that can never be replicated.

I was working today out of town and on the way home I decided to check my Twitter. While scrolling through the posts my eye was caught by one stating Lux's passing early this morning (2/4). My heart sank. Being the horror and B-movie junkie that I am having a band like The Cramps seemed like something made just for me, even though they formed a few years before I was born. Everything about them was a natural fit in my life. Any band who after seeing Johnny Cash play for "his people" in prisons decided they could do that to, only at a mental institution, is great in my book.

Lux3

A few years ago I was lucky enough to see them live. For a guy in his mid-50's, Lux bounced around the stage in make-up and tight leather performing like a teenager. Not only was he great at singing, his stage presence was something of awe (not to mention he drank several bottles of wine during the show). It has ranked as one of the best shows I've ever seen since that night and has yet to be rivaled.

For a long time they have been amongst my favorite bands of all time, one I can listen to anytime. As I listen to them there is a bit of sadness, not only for the loss of an icon, but for Ivy who has been with him for the last 30+ years. Thank you Lux for the amazing music you left behind for generations past, present and future to discover and enjoy. You will be missed.
Lux4.5PN014057

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This is not some post about how I don't understand the youth of today with their music, clothes or choices in, well, anything. It could easily become one of those posts, but I don't feel like taking the time to write it all. This is more on the subject of how actually stupid teens can be. My mother works at a high school, the same one I went to, and she was telling me this story over dinner last weekend.

Our scene opens on a tenth grade English class. The date - January 20, 2009. The classroom's attention was focused on the TV where Barack Obama was soon to be sworn in as President of the United States. While the kids watched the teacher was minding her own business when a question was asked that stopped her dead in her tracks. "Where is all of this taking place?" The teacher looked at the student, then up to the TV where the Nation's Capitol building was prominent. She told the girl there was a vote and they decided to have it in Las Vegas this year. She didn't think it looked like Nevada, then another student corrected her, "no, Vegas is in Utah."

Oh. My. God.

So in this kind of situation who do you blame? Has the school system failed, have the parents or are the kids just plain idiots? How do you live to be fifteen and not know what the Capitol looks like? It's on money for fuck's sake!

Monday, February 2, 2009

My grandmother called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. Very rarely does she ever call me, February 1st is pretty much the only time. She is pretty hard of hearing, but she is 89 years old. I would not expect her to have the most acute of ears. These calls are usually rather short. She says "happy birthday," I thank her and we ask each other how the other is then the conversation is done. This time was a little different, and I don't think I've ever talked on the phone with her for as long as I did. And it was only about five or six minutes.

After the usual pleasantries she went on to talk about how she does not see me very often, or anyone else. My mother talks to her usually once a day, but she does not see her that often. Her sister who she used to spend quite a bit of time with, in person and on the phone, has a mind that is slipping more and more with each passing day. Her brother and his wife are in poor health and going in and out of different hospitals. My grandfather, her husband and my mom's dad, died when I was two. Since then my grandma has lived alone, and created what could only be described as a rat's nest. For as long as my parents can remember she has been something of a pack rat, but it was leveled out by my grandfather. After his passing the house that I used to be able to navigate through, now has only the smallest path from the front door to the kitchen, bathroom and her bedroom. To my knowledge she does not watch TV, but AM radio is on at all times. I could hear it blaring in the background during our conversation yesterday.

When my grandfather died in 1982 she got a clerical job at Longhorn Dodge, the same dealership he worked at, for some extra money and to keep busy. She drove herself to work everyday and did her job perfectly well. There were even trips to the courthouse and post office for different office purposes weekly. Eventually they took away the trips for her and passed that along to someone else. She was a little upset by this, but could deal. Then about a year ago my mom got a phone call from one of her bosses who wanted her to know that they were cutting back some staff and they were letting my grandma go. As if her lack of social gatherings or visits were not bad enough now they took away her one piece of "life" she had left. At the time she was very upset by the loss of her job, and the woman who never slept past around 4:30 in the morning was now sleeping in until 10:00 or so, because she had "nothing else to do."

Needless to say the phone call was a bit awkward, but I can only imagine how she feels. I feel like I should go see her and spend some time with her, Jennny thinks so to, but what are we going to do? She does love Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas, but it's not like before/after we can sit around and talk at her house. For one I probably couldn't maneuver through the stacks of newspaper and boxes, and for two - what are we going to talk about? I probably sound mean or heartless and that is not what I intend. You have to repeat everything to her because she can't hear you and I don't really know what to repeat at top volume.

I can remember her from my childhood and all the time we spent together and it breaks my heart to think this woman has lived 89 years and this is the merit - sitting home alone and kicked to the curb by your job.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

One year to go

That's right, only one more to go.  This time next year life will be over.  Maybe that is a little rash, but I will be 30 this time next year.  That's still a weird thought to me.  Most of the time I catch myself still feeling like a kid, or at least someone around 21, then someone calls me sir and that goes right out the window.

My birthday was fun, but rather uneventful ... well, kinda.  Last night my parents and sister came to Dallas and Jenny and I went out to eat with them.  It was good fun and fun, aside from idiots in the parking lot when we got there.  After dinner Jenny and I went back to her place and proceeded to watch Beerfest (which I had never seen and it was decent, Super Troopers is still their best).  Jenny fell asleep and about an hour in my stomach began to rumble.  I paused the movie and proceeded to take care of things.  When I flushed that is when the real fun began.  Clogged.  After searching the whole bathroom area I went to ask if she had a plunger.  No.  So twenty minutes before midnight, and the beginning of my 29th year, I was on my way to Tom Thumb for a plunger.  Class is thy name.  There are certain things you buy in any store that give you away.  When you rush into a supermarket around that time in pajama pants and only purchase a plunger it pretty much means one thing - you just made a mockery of some toilet.

The issue in the bathroom was resolved, candles were lit and it was officially my birthday.  Today Jenny made me brunch, we watched Cheers, came to my place with some Chipotle (my Sunday routine)and I put on Wall-E.  Before we left her place she gave me my birthday "cake."  I knew she was working on some sort of a dessert but I had no idea.  She brought out a Bento Box.  Confused.  The she brought out one of my new sushi plate sets my parents gave me with sushi cake!  It was chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting with Swedish Fist, Twizzler, fruit leather and Starburst accents!  There was even Starburst in the shape of ginger and wasabi.  Here is a picture, sorry it's crappy cellphone camera quality.


All in all it was a good birthday.  Next year I'm just going to hide under the covers of my bed and hope I just stay the same age.