Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama-rama



As a general rule, I stay uninvolved with politics. I think our political system is fraught with problems and I've been increasingly turned off by the vitriol of true-believers on both sides. But it's really hard not to get behind somebody who has this kind of effect on people. The ability to inspire should not be discounted.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spot on, Slate

Nothing I can add will make this any better than it already is.

I am middle aged and unsuccessful

I've been waiting for two weeks to hear back about a callback for a great role in a short film. I was really happy with what I did in both the audition and the callback, and the producer-writer told me over the phone that he and director both loved me. I had "won the regional" as he put it, meaning I was the best actor that auditioned for the part locally. However, they had to do another round of auditions in New York and Los Angeles. Rehearsals begin tomorrow, and I've not heard back. So it's safe to say I can stick a fork in this one. It would have been a tremendous opportunity both as a challenge for me as an actor and for the exposure.

Upon returning from a teleprompting job today, I decided to continue my massive reorganization effort by going through my things and separating the useful from the useless. It wasn't the best idea given my sensitivity over the callback. There are tons of documents from my script submissions to various competitions, the vast majority of which were fruitless, which makes me feel like I haven't made any forward progress in the past few years. There's all of my Slamdance memorabilia, which stings because I'm not there this year. And then there are all the old birthday cards I keep as a result of my overwhelming sentimentality, which makes me feel old.

Days like these test my resiliency. I need some good luck.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Philippines: As seen on TV

Discovery Channel has a new series in which the two hosts, Jimmy and Doug, go from country to country studying different fighting styles, culminating in a match against native practitioners. I'm currently watching an episode in which they travel to the Philippines to study the knife and stick fighting art of Kali. The two previous episodes I've seen have been in China and Japan and they're about what you'd expect. There was nothing really out of the ordinary in those episodes about either of the host countries. Nothing made me say "Man, the Chinese/Japanese are a bunch of freaks." Well, the Filipinos (from whom I claim 50% of my heritage) didn't come off as well as their Southeast Asian neighbors.

First of all, the hosts have lunch in a Manila cafe and are served testicle soup. There are a lot of societies that eat testicles. I myself choked down bull balls while in Chile so I could say "Been there, done that." So it's not the idea that Filipinos eat balls that offends me, but the idea that there's a Teste Bell and that scarfing gonads is as common as buying a footlong in NYC.

After that, Jimmy and Doug meet their Kali masters, who are sparring... in a cemetery. When Doug starts his training, he's initiated by getting slapped around by his master. That's just the prelude to the CHICKEN SACRIFICE. Then the Kali practitioners take the blood of said chicken and drip it over Doug.

The Philippines rarely gets media attention, at least compared to other Southeast Asian countries, but when it does, it's rarely flattering. I just want to go on record and say that the Filipinos I know don't sacrifice chickens or eat testicles. My family home did once serve as a pit stop for some roosters on their way to cockfighting glory in the Philippines, but that's neither here nor there.

Catching up on What I'm Watching

I've been a bad blogger, so I need to catch up on a pair of movies I saw in the theater.

The first is Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. When I originally saw the trailers for this film, I wasn't particularly interested because it seemed like the latest installment in the Will Farrellesque Super Wacky Character series ala Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Blades of Glory, only with John C. Reilly instead of Will Farell. What got my interest was the involvement of Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan, a reunion of the Freaks and Geeks collaborators. Apatow's been on fire with The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, so Walk Hard was at least worth a gander.

The film itself was a funny, if mostly forgettable, send up of the biopic, taking most of its cues from Walk the Line. John C. Reilly does a great job in the lead, but he sadly feels interchangeable with Will Farrell. They're both tall, curly haired goofballs and at times I forgot I was watching one and not the other. For me, the fun of the film comes from the celebrity cameos including Jack White as Elvis and Jack Black playing hilariously against type as Paul McCartney.

The second film is Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, because I like movies with colons in the title. I didn't know that this was originally a musical, because I lead a sheltered life. But any pairing of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp is cause for celebration.

Sweeney Todd felt a lot like an opera with a minimalist plot, there only to give the characters something to sing about. But the musical numbers are very enjoyable and the production design, make-up, and costumes are fantastic. Of course, you should expect no less from Tim Burton. Burton regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are their usual excellent selves, but the one performance that left me wanting a great deal more was that of Borat himself, Sacha Baron Cohen, as Signor Adolfo Pirelli. I read recently that Baron Cohen had retired Borat and Ali G and I have to admit that makes me happy. He's a phenomenally talented character actor and it would be criminal for him to waste his gifts on the same old schtick. A word of warning, however, Sweeney Todd features more blood than an Italian horror film.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Old School Mike Judge

Been a few days without a post, so time to bring the content.

I'm a huge Mike Judge fan. I loved his original shorts from Liquid Television, from back when MTV had cool programming. I was actually looking for Mike's short "Inbred Jed" on Youtube when I came across this pencil test. Sadly, the entire "Inbred Jed" piece isn't here, but there are some really funny pencil tests in here and you can see the origins of Office Space. My favorite bit is about 45 seconds in. You'll know it when you see it.