Archive for year 2008

Jihad!

5

I’ve called a realtor. I want to sell this condo and go back to a rental house. I’m meeting her on Friday to at least get the ball rolling.
I’m tired of living in a sound prison because our downstairs neighbor gets disturbed if we fart too loud. An exaggeration? Only slightly. Sound travels all to well through our floor. Ever since we got Rock Band there have been problems. The first day we got it she came up after we had been playing for like 6 hours. Now I can understand how that might have been annoying, don’t get me wrong, but then there was the day she came up at 4:00 in the after noon. And then yesterday at 5:00 in the afternoon. Then began the exchange of letters taped to doors. Starting with my letter to her:

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A good day’s work!

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Yesterday I started my gig with Compass Learning doing videos and voiceovers for the educational software. It’s aim is to be fun, funny and educational. They’ve brought together a small group of us to do multiple characters/voices as needed. Yesterday I played an exceedingly cool guy who LOVES to graph things mathematically. To quote my character, “I once made a graph out of leftover graphs to graph how much I like graphs.” It was a lot of fun, but MAN was I glad there was a teleprompter! I am not a math person. I don’t think there was any way I could have memorized all the gobbledegook about functions, compositions, formulas and “F of X”, “G of X”, etc.
This project has made me discover some new talents though. Apparently I can just spontaneously read things off a teleprompter but sound like I actually know what I’m talking about and do it in character. They seemed pleased at my performance and I felt good being appreciated for my creativity and skills.
I got a call last night to see if I could come in today for another piece. I, of course, said yes and today was even more fun. Me and one of the other cast members named Danu were to perform as infomercial hosts…as sock puppets. When the director told me that I told her that strangely enough, I have sock puppet experience.
Just like in my previous sock puppet experience, I once again found that I seemed to be a pretty natural puppeteer. I enjoyed expressing things through a puppet. It’s a whole different experience and skillset. My favorite moment was when they had me voicing my puppet (with an appropriately cheesy infomercial host voice) and simultaneously voicing a robot who would be put on screen later by the graphics team. The dialogue was very quick in some parts where I would rapidly be switching between the characters and having to remember to only make the puppet talk for one of the rapidly alternating voices. It was a blast. Danu and I had a great rapport and brought a lot of our own improvisation to the performance that the crew loved. At several points the crew were having to hold their mouths to contain their laughter so as not to ruin the take. I felt so in my element and like I really brought it. Everyone, including me, seemed really happy at the result and at how quickly we got it done. There was a lot of long tongue tripping dialogue (this was a science piece about conversions, and scientific accuracy and process) but we breezed right through it.
I went to lunch with Jess and Staci and then headed home for a nap before my second gig of the day. The guy who runs the murder mystery dinner theatre troupe had hired me to go to a private party event. Interestingly, it was a one man show. I was given all the details of the plot and I showed up at a house where 30-40 Dell employees were having a dinner party. I pretended to be with the catering crew as I mingled with the guests, putting on an Italian accent and generally being an over top, slightly obnoxious character. Only the party planners, the “killer” and the catering crew were in on it. I pretended to be kind of pushy with one of the employees (who would turn out to be the killer) and generally just made a scene with my silly behavior. I then pretended to take ill (I had been eating the food and drinking on the job, as well as complaining that the water tasted strange), and ran outside. The owners of the house pretended to call for help. I then came back to the party in a trench coat and wig as “Lt. Calabro” of the Austin Police, doing my best Columbo rip off. I made a scene, told people that my previous character had died and that someone at the party was the killer. After some investigation I “found” a stack of copies of a riddle the killer had left, obviously toying with us. The riddle gave clues to the killer identity, who turned out to be one of the Dell employees (who was in on the plot, obviously). It was all quite unusual and a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Coming up, I’m doing scenes from “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and “The Princess Bride” for some UT directing classes, as well as ongoing sessions with Compass Learning for the next six months, more short films, murder mystery dinner theatre shows, probably a bunch more things I’m forgetting and anything else I get my creative claws into! I’m a working actor! It’s still kind of hard to believe.

Wow. I cared!

1

There was something about this election. It seemed to me to be the most intensely passionate, most cared about election of my life. It was the first time I actually voted. It was the first time I really cared. It was the first time I actually had the election results on the TV all day. I feel good. I feel like finally “my people”, as in those that I feel the most kinship and connection with, my kindred spirits, have taken action and taken control. It feels like a new era, a revolution. I’ve never been a political person at all but this time I knew it really mattered. When I look at the totals of the popular vote and I know that I am one among that number, I smile. I’ve already seen much graciousness and much grumbling, sour grapes and sour comments. I hope that we can all truly come together as one nation united, and put aside that which divides us and makes us choose sides. For the first time in my 37 years, I care. No matter who you voted for, I hope your future is as bright as I know mine is.

Fun with movie scenes

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Often there are casting calls for students at the university casting for scenes from well known movies to be performed in their directing class and then filmed later. I’ve done several of these and tend to audition for the ones that interest me. Yesterday I received an email from someone I’d worked with on a few occasions saying he wanted me to be in a scene from “The Producers”. It was all very last minute as the performance was today. It was nice to be sought out, out of the blue and just offered a part. He asked if I knew anyone else to be in the scene so I suggested Larry.
We went over the scene a few times then went to meet him for a rehearsal. A few hours later we performed in class and it was a resounding success. Going into rehearsal, Larry and I both thought that there wasn’t really much room for interpretation. The scene was pretty much on the page we thought but through rehearsal with the director we ended up finding some interesting angles. I play Max Bialystock much more sinister, creepy and slightly insane. It was fun.
From there I went directly to another audition for a scene from “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang” which also felt like it went well. Wednesday I finish up filming a fun short film and Thursday I am auditioning for scenes from “the Princess Bride” and “Once”. I also have my first session with the six month voiceover/video gig for an educational software company. Then on Saturday it’s off to the Ren Fest where Jess and I got married 6 years ago on November 9. Good times!
On a sad note, our Xbox 360 died today and it looks like it will cost Larry $100 to fix it. Not to mention we’ll be without it for weeks! And in the middle of our Fallout 3 addiction!

Ricardo Montalban and a life update.

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I read this quote from Ricardo Montalban and thought it was awesome. Here are Ricardo Montalban’s 5 stages of an Actor’s career:
1. Who is Ricardo Montalbán?
2. Get me Ricardo Montalbán.
3. Get me a Ricardo Montalbán type.
4. Get me a young Ricardo Montalbán.
5. Who is Ricardo Montalbán?
I was Khan for Halloween. It was awesome. I’ll try to see if I can get my hands on someone’s pictures.
I think I just got a 6 month long voiceover/on screen gig for an educational software company. They wanted an SNL style group of people who could do multiple characters/accents/impressions. I’m quite excited about it! Also worked a pretty fun four day Production Assistant job. Filming a short film two days this week, performing with Capital City Mystery Players doing murder mystery dinner theatre and private shows, scenes from movies for student’s directing classes, and much more!
Larry and I pitched a page of ideas to a company that may have us film a bunch of “viral” youtube type spots for them. Could be our first outside client possibly paying us to write, direct and produce videos. I don’t think they like our budget though even though it’s RIDICULOUSLY low. We’ll see when we present it to them.
Life is a roller coaster but generally beautiful.
Hopefully going to England for 3 weeks around Christmas!

Blogging into the wind

6

I find blogging is such a self perpetuating cycle. When you blog and there’s no response, you assume no one is reading (which may or may not be true). Therefore you don’t write as much. Of course when you never update people are bound to stop reading. Chicken/egg, Yin/Yang, etc.

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Samaritan

0

Yesterday I was in the condo when I heard the sound of a huge crash outside. I went to see what had happened. A tree obscured my view but I could hear a woman crying fairly hysterically and saying she was so sorry. From the sound of how hysterical she was I feared something very bad had happened. As I rushed down to see if I could help I feared finding someone gravely injured or dead.
When I got downstairs I was very relieve to find no such scene. I heard her say she was on the way to a job interview and had been looking at some papers for a second while driving. That second was all it had taken for her to rear end a neighbor’s car parked on the side of the street. The neighbor had heard and come to investigate and the driver had been apologizing frantically to the neighbor. I had also, from my balcony, heard the driver call her grandmother, crying, and saying she had been in an accident. When I got there, another couple from a few condos down was helping the shaken woman to sit down on the patio of the neighbor whose car now had its rear end completely smashed in. The driver had a bloody lip, had hit her head and was naturally feeling some soreness in the neck and back but otherwise appeared, at least outwardly, to not have any major injuries.
As no one had had a chance to call 911 yet, I did that and explained the situation. As they gave the poor girl a bag of frozen vegetables to put on her lip, she just sat crying, hysterically upset. My instinct was that I wanted to take control of this situation. I wanted to take her hand and look her in the eye, find out her name and tell her that everything was going to be O.K. They were just cars and the important thing was that she was alive and no one had been severely injured. I wanted to comfort this poor, shaken, traumatized person who also felt so foolish at her own mistake which led to this accident. I felt that I had the power. I felt like I am very good at keeping my head in situations like these and making people feel more at ease. I wanted to do all this…but I didn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe I felt it wasn’t my place. I don’t really know. I look back and I really regret that I didn’t follow my instincts. I think I could have made a difference.
The police and EMS got there and began to tend to her. I told the officer that I had called 911 and asked if there was anything else needed from me. He said there wasn’t so I decided to vacate the premises. I hope I never have to face a situation like this again but if I do, I will follow my instincts next time. I hope that wherever she is, that she’s O.K. and has realized how lucky she really is. Cars can be fixed or replaced. So please, friends, remember that it only takes a second of taking your eyes off the road to possibly lead to a some very bad things. We all do it. Fiddle with the radio or iPod, look at a text message, glance at a piece of paper. I know this had made me more aware of my driving habits. I hope it will do the same for you.

The conspiracy of Sara(h)s

1

I worked with an actress last night named Sarah who was extremely cool and great to work with. This got me thinking of something that had occurred to me before. I have never met a Sara(h) I didn’t like. More than that the Sara(h)s I have known have generally been way above the norm in terms of absolute awesomosity.
Back in my pizza delivery days I worked with a girl named Sarah who was one of the coolest women I’d ever met. Then later when I was working in IT for an insurance company I worked with a completely different but equally cool Sara. My wife’s middle name is Sara. Anyone got Mulder or Scully’s contact info? I think this needs to be looked into.

Wassup, people!

1

I learned recently that my friend, Darrin, reads this blog though he has never commented. Therefore inspired by knowing that there are actually at least a few people still reading here I am inspired to update!
My silence is not only due to being a sucktastic and neglectful blogger but also because I’ve been fairly busy. i’m currently involved in more films than I can keep track of even with my nifty new iPhone and constant email and calendar access!
I am in the midst of a 10 day shoot for a small feature I’m starring in after which I immediately start another feature. There are also several shorts I’m in, several more shorts and features in the pipeline for other people and that whole ever growing stack of shorts (and features) that Larry and I have written that we want to get into production.
In other exciting news, episode 1 of Sal Monella is in in the finals tonight of the Austin Film Festival’s “Funniest Filmmaker in Austin” contest. Then there’s also the rest of my non-film related life to live too.
Life in general is kind of a roller coaster of highs and lows but overall I think my account ends up in the positive. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…

“The Dark Knight” (No spoilers)

1

Wow. Frickin’ wow. Totally worthy of all the hype. Intense. It felt like two movies worth of experience, at least (in the best possible way). So dense. Heath Ledger is as amazing as everyone has been touting (or expecting). Not once was I pulled out of the movie by bad CG. Brutal without being graphically gory.
Though this movie obviously requires some suspension of disbelief, there was only really one thing that snapped my suspension of disbelief for a nanosecond but then I got over it and was back in this amazing film.
My one complaint, and it is oh so minor, Christian Bale’s voice when he’s batman and not Bruce Wayne. It’s just too gruff and affected. It makes him hard to understand and sounds like he’s desperately in need of a bat-lozenge for his throat. As one comedian put it after “Batman Begins”, it’s a little like cookie monster playing Batman.
“DO YOU HAVE A COOKIE FOR BATMAN?”
I WILL be seeing this movie again in the IMAX. It almost demands multiple viewings to process it all.
In another interesting twist, my acting career idol, Gary Oldman, plays probably the most boring, normal, plain part of his career. A part that’s so not “Gary Oldmanesque”. And yet, in a strange twist, it being so different in itself kind of makes it Gary Oldmanesque! Don’t get me wrong, he does a great job and I love his character, he’s just so normal, plain and kind of boring (the character, no Gary Oldman).
See this movie. Multiple times. Genius.

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BLAH!