Hidden Album Track

It all started on the way home from a gig with my cover band once day. We got to talking about band names for the project I was working on with Craig Davis (which has since become The Toreadors) and my band mate Donnie, kept coming up with random things, sometimes culled from passing road signs. One random one from his head was “The Skagnastics”, which we found amusing, but then he came up with one that for some reason just made us laugh our asses off. Treasure Pie. This amused us way more than it should have.
I relayed this story to Craig and a week later he had written a song called “Treasure Pie”. It was a fun, silly little ditty, and my mind immediately had a vision for it. A vision of drunken pirates, a peg-legged tap dancing pirate, tubas, accordions, kazoos, and general insanity.
Last night and today, I took the demo Craig had recorded and added my own insanity into the mix. I was far more pleased than I should be, and find it all terribly amusing and catchy at the same time.
So grab your grog, and experience Treasure Pie.

Time Traveling Thespians

Now that the play is over, it’s time to spill all the beans.
Richard Garriott is a video game designer here in Austin. He designed the Ultima games, and many others. He’s a fairly well known celebrity around Austin and among video game fans. He is also known for his incredible themed parties he throws. Last night he threw a “Victorian Christmas in September” party. For this, he built a replica of The Globe Theatre on his property. For the inauguration of this theatre, we performed “A Christmas Carol”.
I was Bob Cratchit, and Jess was The Narrator, and The Ghost of Christmas Past. Jess also was the Scenic Designer, and she busted her ass since June designing and building (or acquiring in some cases) all the set and prop pieces with pretty much no help except for me and my cousin Casey, who we also roped into the production. I initially called my cousin to just be an extra in the background.
Since my cousin isn’t an actor, and has never been involved in theatre with the exception of things I’ve dragged him into, he told me that my call was possibly the strangest call he’d ever received, since it was basically, “Hey would you like to be in a play (a bit unusual) at Richard Garriott’s party (more unusual). It will be “A Christmas Carol” in September (more and more unusual).” He ended up playing the silent Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, and a party-goer, and helped build the sets and such with Jess and I.
The play went phenomenally, and afterwards all the guests were taken down to the little fake village on the property where there were shops, a planetarium, an opium den, a toy shoppe, a brothel and other Victorian locales. Jess and I worked after the play tending the snow slope. Yes, you heard me right.
A while back Richard acquired a snow machine which was used at another party in the past, and this time they used it to create a snow slope for people to race sleds down, and such. Jess and I were hawkers giving out coins to the winners of races, and generally trying to get people to come play on the slope. Unfortunately, the ice slope was quite surrounded by a lot of mud due to the inevitable melting of ice in Texas in September. Remarkably the slope was still totally intact and all night long, and you couldn’t really detect any melting of it aside from the wet mud marshes surrounding it. I must say I was in top for as the master of the slope. My days working at the Texas Renaissance Festival as an actor had served me well.
At the end of the night there was a fireworks display. Real, class “c” fireworks like they use at professions displays. We all gathered in front of the wooden castle to watch the display. They fireworks were being set off on tables not more than 20 feet in front of us. We were warned that, as anyone who has attended Richard’s parties in the past, many times the fireworks display becomes interactive with the audience, or “full contact fireworks” as some called it.
Jess and I were sitting on a tarp right in the front as close as you could get to the tables. Indeed it was somewhat like being in a war simulation with debris and ash raining down from above, and occasional stray fireworks causing you to duck and cover. It was definitely and extreme sport, but quite fun.
A few highlights:
Jess and I had Victorian portraits taken in our costumes and they look pretty authentic.
The planetarium was cool. It was in a domed little room, with a projector that projected the night sky on the ceiling and walls, and the man controlling it was explaining constellations and then could overlay the pictures over the stars so you could see how they were supposed to be the things they were named. Most constellations are an extreme stretch to say the least, but then again constellations called “a crooked stick”, “old man’s cane”, or “bent rapier” wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.
There was aa brothel where you could pay a prostitute, and then they would take you into a room and give you a card telling you what happened like “You got the clap”, “broken member”, “you pulled a muscle”.
All in all it was very much fun, and having met Richard Garriott, I have to say I’m a fan. He is a very nice, fun and down to earth guy. A big kid with a lot of money, which is totally what I would be in his position. He’s always out at the site doing all this manual labor himself. Tinkering with this and that, and helping put up curtain rods, and lanterns. The man knows good video games and a fun party too. Thanks Richard.
The capper is that we all ended up getting paid a decent amount for our work in the play (and separately for our work at the party). Jess got a lot more money than we were expecting for her role as Scenic Designer (although, believe me, it was well earned). Consequently, we will be going to a party in L.A. in December. That’s about all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure Jess will have more to say when she gets back from helping clean up the site today (I had to work so I couldn’t go).

Rock and roll life

Drove 3 hours to my band gig yesterday. Played one and a half sets before the sky unloaded on us and we had the tear everything off the stage as quickly as possible and put it in the garage (we were playing a wedding reception at a really nice house in the country). We then sorted out all the haphazardly rescued equipment,and drove, soaking wet, 3 hours back home. Got about 4 hours of sleep, and now must go to work. Rock and roll, man, Rock and roll.
On a side note, does anyone else ever hesitate making a new blog entry when the last one you’ve made hasn’t got any comments yet? I’m always afraidit will just get buried and ignored if I make a new entry. My “I Robot” entry hadn’t had much time online, and I almost hesitated in making these last two entries. Then I did obviously. Just me?

Funk part 2

Because life likes to taunt us, I received a call to be a PA on a VH1 show filming for 5 days here. Well, not only would I have to quit my job to do it, but I have a band gig one of those days, so I couldn’t do it no matter what.
Don’t you hate when Opportunity knocks and you have to tell it “Sod off you bloomin’ Opportunity! I’m not home!” and then Opportunity goes next door, and you hear it having tons of fun with your neighbors as they drink and yell, and scream bad songs together (although they erroneously sing “fire all of your guns at horses” during “Born to be Wild”), and then Opportunity is like “Yo dudes! We’re out of queso! Let’s hit the store!” and they all pile into someone’s car with the stereo cranked through the crappy car speakers, and screech off down the road to get more queso, and other party supplies, and you go to sleep grumbling under your covers until you are awakened by Opportunity and your drunk neighbors bellowing more hits from the 80’s as they come back from the store and order a pizza just as the pizza place is about to close (but it’s O.K., they tip the driver very nicely) and you eventually manage to tune out the euphoria and get a few winks because you have to work your crappy job the next morning and as you leave for work you see through the bay window that Opportunity and everyone are crashed out on the couches and floors amidst pizza boxes, queso stained upholstery, Queen albums, and swim suits (from the sojourns in the jacuzzi), but it’s all O.K. because you have your red stapler.

Anarchy in the UK!

Quick update.
Went to Liverpool. Went to “The Beatles Story” museum. Very cool.
Went on a tour of John Lennon’s and Paul McCartneys childhood homes. VERY cool. Quite momentous and moving for me.
Was treated like a total celebrity when I sat in with a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute band. The fact that I am from Austin seems to carry it’s own inherent set of credentials. A very nice guy named Tony brought me a choice of 3 different guitars, and a very nice amp to use. I sat in on several songs and it went great. The band is “Texas Hurricane”. They were excellent and more than that were all the nicest of people you could ever hope to meet.
Had somewhere around 30 people over to Jess’s parents house for her birthday. We barbecued outside all day and partied into the wee hours. I gave a small acoustic performance in a back room of the house. Invented the “Captain Archer” dance. This is my second dance invention, the first being “Do the Pope Hat”.
Barbecued again today for the 4th of July. There were 3 of us Yanks here so we used it as a good excuse to use up the ton of food left over from the day before. Casey (my cousin) and I did the barbecuing since it was a holiday for us, and we felt we should “host”. We decided the Brits should also celebrate today as “yay! We got rid of the Yanks!” day.
Perhaps I will elaborate on some or all of the above when time permits. Cheerio, pip pip, and all that guv’nor.

ARGH! (falls on his back as Lucy moves the football)

Just got a call…
for more extra work on the new Mike Judge movie…
As part of a 40 man “guitar army”…
This Friday when I will be in England.
A tiny piece of my soul was just bludgeoned to death.

Acting! Thank you!

My friend, Andy, works for a video game company here in Austin. It just so happens that this is also the company I have been trying to get a job with (and continue to try). When Andy first moved to Austin and was looking for an artist job, I pointed him to NCSoft, and he eventually got a great job there! Go Andy!
He emailed me the other day to let me know that someone there was putting together a play to be performed at a party that will take place at the head honcho’s super mega video game guru compound. I decided I would audition since I hadn’t done any theatre in ages, and hey, maybe I could get to know some more folks at the company! One slight catch was that for some reason they are trying to keep the play a secret for as long as possible so I wouldn’t know what I was auditioning for until I got there.
I convinced Jess to come audition, too! She was hesitant at first, but once I told her auditions were to be held in someone’s living room, she reconsidered, knowing that it wasn’t going to be some huge cattle call with 100 people all much better looking than you to make you feel incompetent. No that I’ve ever experienced anything like that.
We arrived at the house. It was a nice house! We let ourselves in and there were about 10-15 people there. Some were much better looking than me, but that’s O.K. because I have chops baby! Acting Kung Fu! It was then we learned what the play was: “Watership Down: The Musical”. Alright, I’m totally lying, but wouldn’t that be crazy? It could have songs like “Duel of the raging bunnies”, and “There’s a dog loose in the woods”.
The actual play is something fairly well known, but I’ll keep it under wraps for the moment just in case it’s still supposed to be a secret for some reason. We did some improv, and then read several times for different parts. I think I was quite “on” that day. Several of the auditioners complimented me on my performance and said they had a hard time improving because they were laughing at me. In a good way. Because I was being funny. Many of the people there were also employees at this video game company. I had to refrain from being that annoying guy who hits them up for jobs when I’ve just met them, so I instead just sat, stewing in my silent envy, and had nice conversations, planting the seeds for my future nepotism.
Everyone was incredibly cool, and not just because they have cool jobs. Some people didn’t even have cool jobs, and they were just as cool! We very quickly felt right at home, and everyone was chatting away like friends. Jess and I definitely have parts in the play, we are just waiting to hear which parts.
After the audition we went with some of the other auditioners to go out to eat. This did not include any of the company employees, because they don’t dine with the plebs. Well, that and the fact that they were allowed to leave earlier than us and went to eat on their own, but I can read between the lines. It probably didn’t help that they were all better looking than us plebs too. Actually they were all way cool and friendly, and probably had no real plebphobia, but it’s more fun the way I told it. Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) the play conflicts with my band playing a biker rally at a nudist colony. It was supposed to be a 2 night engagement for about half our normal price, so I’m not too disappointed. Nude Bikers and nepotism. Sounds like an album title to me.

I think I made Mike Judge laugh!

I recently spent a day as an extra on Mike Judge’s new untitled movie starring Luke Wilson. Luke portrays a man who takes part in some government experiment and wakes up in the future where he finds he is the smartest person on Earth because we’ve all been dumbed down so much while he was asleep.
I showed up bright and early at 5:45 a.m. (otherwise known as stupid o’clock) with several changes of clothes for wardrobe to choose from (I was told to bring 4 different outfits). I went and checked in, then began the time-honored movie making tradition of…waiting. As always some good snacks were provided, and I wished I had brought something to read. While we were waiting they picked about 15 people to stay on for a later scene as prisoners in the future. I wasn’t picked, despite my stunning aura of charisma. After a good while we went and met with wardrobe who looked over our clothing choices. From my clothes, they had me wear one of my favorite funky patterned shirts, my converse with flames on them, and some cargo pants with the legs zipped off to convert them into “shorts” mode. They seemed particularly enamored of my bitchin’ flaming Chucks. We went back to “holding” as they call it (thus reiterating how extras are much like cattle, only we’re not butchered and made into meat products…well most of us anyway), and one of the hair/makeup ladies came to check us out. She decided to gel up my hair a bit. Mike Judge, the director and writer, came in to scope us all out and make sure he liked what he saw. This was way cool, as it was Mike Judge! Beavis and Butthead! King of the Hill! Office Space (a true classic)!
For this first scene, we were supposed to be white trash people waiting in line at a traveling carnival in front a fun house type exhibit called “Future Town”. The props department came by and loaded us all up with huge fanny packs, balloons, popcorn buckets, admission tickets, stuffed animals, and various other white trash carnival accoutrements. I was then put with a group of people who walk by in the shot instead of being in line. During this scene they recruited some more people for the later prisoner scene, and this time they obviously recognized my potential, as I was picked! Fame was just a step away! A very large, size 157663 EEEEEEEEE step away. We shot the scene a few times, and that was that. Whether or not I’m visible, we shall see.
They released the extras who weren’t sticking around for the later scene, and the rest of us then went to wardrobe again. We were issued shiny orange futuristic prison clothes and shoes. Everyone knows clothes will be shiny and synthetic in the future. They’ve known this since sci-fi movies in the 50’s. I’m still waiting for the days when we all get to wear comfy silver jump suits.
We then stood in line to get make up to stamp our wrists with bar codes, and then it was off to the hair people. They put many extras in wigs if they had short hair, and they left most long hairs alone. My hair they gelled up into a pseudo Mohawk style. I found it peculiar that they didn’t allow any facial hair in the future, but tended towards longer messed up hair.
After more waiting, then lunch, and some more waiting, we went to the futuristic prison set. Way cool. We stood in line to have the props department put big shackles on us, and then proceeded onto the set. I started out towards the front of the line, and as Mike Judge and some crew members planned the shot, it looked like I would be right next to Luke Wislon! Then they rearranged us all and hand picked some other prisoners to come up front. Me and several others were relegated to the back. No further back. Keep going. Don’t worry that you’re completely off the set, the line of prisoners will be moving. Then they needed shackles for some of the guys up front. I was de-shackled. I never thought I would be sad to be “set free”. So now, shackleless and off the set, my prospects for being seen were pretty much nil. Those of us not being used in the line were then put into the prison cells, which looked through a plexiglass wall into where the line of prisoners was. I’m right up against the glass, in the very last cell, furthest away from the camera. Chance of being seen? Next to nil. However, between takes, Mike and another guy are looking into the cells and talking about something. As they scan over into my cell, I’m standing with a completely crazed, maniacal expression on my face, which causes them both to laugh. Score. I made Mike Judge laugh. At least I think it was me. However this does not prompt them to “discover” me and put me in the movie. Oh well, maybe next time. Later, after a few takes, they changed angles and some of the closer cells might be seen, but we weren’t even needed because we were totally out of shot. We wait around for about another 2 or 3 hours without being used before they wrap and we are released for the day.
As usual, it was both an exciting, and somewhat depressing experience all at once. It was great to be on a 20th Century Fox movie with Mike Judge and Luke Wilson, but it’s also a bit taunting to get this tiniest taste of the world you want to live in, but can only visit as an alien. I’m going back for a second day of shooting as a prisoner. We shall see if this day bears more fruit!
No fruit. The night before I was supposed to go back, I called to get my call time. There was a recording saying to call back after 9:00 p.m to make sure no times had changed. I called back at 10:30, and it still said to show up at 9 a.m. When I showed up I was told that at 9 p.m. the night before, they were informed that they only needed about 30 of the 100+ people booked. I of course silently wondered why the hell they didn’t change the recording then, but maintained my cooperative nonchalant facade. So they sent me home, but still paid me 2/3 of what I would have made had I actually worked. Ahh, my glamorous Hollywood lifestyle!

Our evening at The Kinetoscopic Wonderment Film Festival

Tonight was The Kinetoscopic Wonderment Film Festival. This was the specific festival for which we made our “Keep Austin Weird” movie. I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats, wondering how we did…

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Wanna see our movie?

“Keep Austin Weird”
It’s in Quicktime format. I tried to minimize the file size (it’s about 42MB) so obviously there are some compromises in quality, but hopefully it’s good enough to get the idea across. This also includes our gag reel and bonus footage, including an alternate ending scene in which we had one actor play two parts using split screen. We’re hoping to actually throw together a DVD just for posterity, which will actually have a commentary track (not that anyone but me would really care about that…lol).
For some smaller options (which also don’t have the bonus material on the end) you can view it in quicktime or mpeg formats.