Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Movie On A Cold Night

Cold temperatures have swept across America and Los Angeles is no exception. It’s been friggin’ cold here.

Anyone who knows me knows I hate the cold weather and prefer to stay in doors with the heater full blast, so going out to the movies was a big adventure for me. We decided to see “Slumdog Millionaire,” and my expectations were high.

The screenplay was written by Simon Beaufoy (of “Trainspotting” fame), based on the novel “Q&A” by Vkas Swarup, and helmed by British director Danny Boyle.

It’s the story of a Mumbai street kid (aka a “slumdog”) who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” He’s on his way to winning the grand prize, but is accused by the producers of cheating. He’s arrested, and during the brutal interrogation the movie flashes back to his horrible life in the slums and how he learned the answers to the game show questions through survival.

Sometimes the pacing is a bit dizzying, but overall this is an extraordinary film. The performances, by unknown actors (though well known in India) are all superb. It’s an emotionally charged story that confronts poverty, despair, survival, brotherly love, trust, and first love, and builds to a tense climax, one that ties everything up a bit too neatly with its predictable love story ending, but that’s just a minor complaint. Overall this film is far better than most everything currently playing at the local cineplex.

“Slumdog Millionaire” is on my favorites of 2008 list. Don’t miss it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Christmas Party To Be Remembered

Last Sunday I was invited to a Holiday House Party at a friend’s house.

Oh the decorations were abundant with holiday lights and ornaments everywhere. The main attraction of course was the Christmas Tree (a real tree!) beautifully adorn with the Colors of Christmas; green, red, and gold galore.

The food table had various salads, roast pork, turkey, and an array of vegetables. It was a holiday buffet certain to please the fussiest of taste buds.

Then it happened...

The beautiful turkey was minding its own business when a little girl, about four years old, made a beeline to the turkey, leaned forward with her little mouth wide open and bit the turkey in the ass. But instead of taking a bite and pulling away she stood there with her lips clamped down on the turkey’s ass.

I was stunned. What would provoke a little child to do such a thing?

The child’s mother witnessed her daughter’s oral skills in action without saying a word to chastise her. She pried her daughter’s lips from the turkey’s ass and laughed, commenting it was not an uncommon occurrence. People just stared in disbelief.

The mother didn’t cut off the piece of turkey ass that contained her daughter’s DNA. She left it alone with the bite marks intact, and instead helped herself to the wing.

I opted for the roast pork.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


They say it rarely snows in Baton Rouge; maybe once a decade.

This morning I woke up, looked out the window, and was shocked to see it snowing. It wasn’’t a light flurry kind of snow, but big fat snowflakes that seemed to be taunting me with their devilish smirks and irregular shapes.

I hate the cold. I hate the snow.

Laugh at me all you want, but if you ever lived in New Hampshire or Massachusetts (which I have) where the wind chill factor can fall thirty degrees below zero, and the snow stands a few feet tall, you wouldn’t be laughing.

How could Mother Nature do this to me?

One of the people in the production office joyously ran outside and created a snowman. I reluctantly ventured outside, bundled up in layers of clothing, to take this photo.
Yeah, it’s a cute snowman, but I cannot wait for it to melt.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ahh-choo x 8

The other night I took a much needed break from life and poured myself a rather large glass of Malbec, kicked off the shoes, sprawled across the couch, and channel surfed.

So many channels with so little to see!

Between sips of wine I happened to click upon “Little People Big World” on the TLC channel and overheard the tall son telling the short dad after the short dad sneezed that a sneeze is equal to one-eighth of an orgasm.
Hmm... I thought about that and, maybe it was the effects of the wine, but I laughed and as I laughed I sneezed. I felt something. It wasn’t mind-blowing but it was there, a smaller version of something I’ve felt before. I tried sneezing again but unfortunately it didn’t come.

I look at sneezing differently now.

With a little practice maybe I can become a multiple sneezer.



Sunday, December 07, 2008

Southern Charm

My stay in Baton Rouge comes to an end this Friday, and then it’s back to Los Angeles to my apartment and friends and all my things I’ve missed while here. This has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to possibly coming back in January for another film project.

To celebrate my last weekend here I ventured to Darrow, Louisiana to visit the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, half way between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Houmas House? Isn’t houmas something made with chick peas and served on pita bread? Humas is the chick pea thing, and this Houmas is the plantation, the Crown Jewel of the Louisiana River Front. Oh yes, oh yes it is.

The very first owners of the plantation were the indigenous Houmas Indians who sold the land in the 1700s to Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil. By the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the plantation was producing sugar, and it was one of the most successful plantations in the area.

If you want to know more, and I suggest you do, go to and learn all the details of its rich and astounding history...

Ghosts have been known to inhabit the property.

The plantation has a heroically Greek Revival exterior.

The plantation features two garconierres.

“Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” (starring Bette Davis) was filmed there in 1964.

Shall I go on? One more thing...

The plantation also boasts beautiful gardens and two fine restaurants and a wine cellar.

It’s simply beautiful; southern charm at its absolute best.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Laura Wants To Be An Authoress

Soon-to-be former First Lady Laura Bush has confirmed that she’s writing a memoir and has met with publishers.

Why? What could she possibly have to say that’s remotely interesting or even worthwhile?

As a First Lady she pushed women back decades.

Please Laura, do us all a favor and don’t write a word.

Just go away, disappear.

And take your husband with you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Dig The Figs

My Baton Rouge experience continues...

Besides working fourteen hour days I’ve been able to enjoy some of the local food and culture. The food is delicious. It’s fried and fried is good. Of course I’ve been forcing myself to the gym on days off so I don’t one day soon wake up and be unable to look down and see my... feet.

I don’t want to get back to Los Angeles and not have anyone recognize me, nor do I want to be weighed on a Richter scale.

But enough about my potential future of diabetes and obesity. There’s something more fun I want to tell you about.

I was given a copy of a CD called “What Keeps Me Up At Night” from an Louisiana based all girl band named The Figs. That’s right, The Figs.
On my way home from work I slid that CD into the rental car stereo, raised the volume, and anticipated hearing something I’d hopefully like. The first song started and I was immediately hooked. Dare I say The Figs is my new favorite band?

The Figs is my new favorite band.

What’s their sound? It’s folk/country that spans both ends of that musical spectrum. It’s got this great vintage/retro feel but at the same time it’s contemporary. Ukuleles. Banjos. Guitars. Drums. Beautiful harmonies. It’s The Figs.

My favorite songs are “The Letter,” “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss,” “Ruby Don’t Cry,” “Poppa Oh Poppa,” “Dear Colonel,” and “Guns.” But then there’s “”And So It Goes,” and “High Heeled Stomp,” and... oh damn, it’s the whole CD.
The Figs’ website is Check ‘em out.

Besides playing all over Louisiana, during the summer of 2009 the band will participate in the Country Rendez-Vous Festival in Craponne sur Arzon, France.

“What Keeps Me Up At Night” is in heavy rotation on my ipod, and the CD sits happily in my rental car stereo and will stay there until I leave Baton Rouge, where it will find its new home in my Los Angeles car stereo.

I really dig The Figs, and you will too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Little Bit of Horns and A Little Bit of Wings

I found this photo on the Drudge Report today.

Looking closely at it I immediately saw heaven and hell... my future home... though which one is for me I couldn’t decide on.

If heaven has cool temperatures then hell is for me.

But if hell has moody, angry people all the time then heaven’s “up with people” crowd is for me.

I wonder if I could get both a heaven pass and a hell pass. You know, one that can get VIP entrance to both places, and never have to wait in line. This way when I get too hot I could cool off in the other, and when I get sick of the squeaky clean folk in heaven then I can hang with the wild crowd in hell.

Aah, decisions.

I guess this is one decision I can wait to make.

Until then I’ll continue to admire both places from afar.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

La Nouvelle Orlean

Aah... the French Quarter... Vieux Carre... New Orleans.

Saturday I had a deserved day off from working extremely long hours and decided to venture the sixty miles from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

The last time I was in New Orleans was for Mardi Gras a few years ago while working on a video shoot. That time I was producing the Captain Morgan Rum website, and what better connection to pirates than Mardi Gras? It was five days of crowds, booze, bad behavior, beads, and bare breasts. In other words: one hell of a good time.

This time there were no pirates, no beads, and no drunken behavior.

I had a grand time.

A friend and I roamed the French Quarter, wandering away from the too-many-tourists of Bourbon Street to the side streets. It was like stepping into another world. The architecture, the people, and the food were a delight. I felt like I belonged there.

For lunch we ate at the Napoleon House on Chartres Street, and yes, I had jambalaya. It was delicious. Here’s a picture of my plate:

After wandering the various antique shops we ended up by the mighty Mississippi River to enjoy the view.

I love New Orleans.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


My mother’s sister is named Rosella. It’s a name I’ve never know anyone else to be named. What a shame because I think it’s a pretty name; however, I want to know who’s to blame for thinking up such a name. Rosella.

Did my grandmother make it up by combining two other names; possibly Rose and Della? or Rose and Stella? or Rose and Bella?

I would ask my aunt, but I can’t because she’s dead.

I could ask my mother, but that’s a long distance call.

And my grandmother? She’s been dead for years.

With my curiosity piqued I powered up my laptop (a MacBook of course) and searched Google.

A rosella is a colorful Australian parrot in the genus Platycercus. A feature common to the rosellas is a broad or flat tail.

Whenever hungry rosellas feed on seeds and fruits.

Now when I think of my aunt I think of a squawking bird.

I wonder if in Australia people have rosellas as pets, kept in a cage to entertain their guests?

Gosh... what is making me what to rhyme all the time?

Maybe it's the wine?

I need to go to bed. Good night.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

I believe the flow of energy around you has an influence on your being, and your surroundings should invite good energy. The Chinese call it Feng Shui, the practice of arranging objects to help achieve goals and creating a positive energy flow.

Feng Shui comes from the Chinese words for wind (feng) and water (shui).

In every place I’ve lived I’ve always tried creating the best Feng Shui possible.

Not too long ago I decided to rearrange my bedroom and I moved the bed opposite to where it was. I thought it looked great in its new spot... that was until I went to bed.

Before I say anything else let me explain that I never suffer from insomnia and when I go to bed I usually fall asleep within five minutes. I never wake up during the night, and I can wake up without using an alarm clock.

That first night with my bed in its new locale was an uncomfortable night. I woke up numerous times and couldn’t seem to settle into a restful state. The next morning I feared I was coming down with some illness.

Then it happened again the second night. I was convinced I was on the threshold of the flu. But I was feeling really good; no cough, sniffles, congestion. Nothing.

The same thing happened on the third night... and the fourth.... and well, it went on like this for a couple of weeks. I would wake up so tangled in my sheets that I felt like they were strangling me. It was not a good feeling, and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.

Then I had a Feng Shui thought. Could it be the room energy was mad at me and wouldn’t let me have another good night sleep until I made the energy happy?

I imagined my obituary: Death By Bad Feng Shui

I immediately turned that bed around and put it back where it was.

I don’t have any more sleeping problems.

Happy Bedroom Feng Shui = A Good Night’s Sleep

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spending Time in Baton Rouge

It always amazes me how the Universe gives you wonderful surprises when you least expect them. For me that happened last week.

I recently started working on a film that was supposed to shoot entirely in Los Angeles. The production schedule changed and now a lot of the film is being shot in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Last Monday I was invited to go to Baton Rouge to work on the production. By Friday I was on a plane and headed there. Wow.

Last year at this time I was working on “Tropic Thunder” in Kauai, and now one year later I’m in another location, not as exotic as Kauai, but definitely full of adventure potential.

Today I had some free time and drove to downtown Baton Rouge to see the mighty Mississippi River. With my cell phone I took this picture.

Did you know that Baton Rouge along with Tallahassee, Florida and Austin, Texas is one of the southernmost capital cities in the lower 48 United States? Now you do.

All I can say is so far so good. The people are real nice, the weather is warm and sunny, and my mouth is watering for some jambalaya.

If in my next blogs I start writing with a southern flair you’ll understand why.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Screaming Acorns...

The other day while browsing the Internet I came across an interesting fact:

It’s not until oak trees are at least twenty years old, and in some cases fifty years old, that they produce acorns. Hmmm... that’s a long time for an oak tree to reach puberty.

The next time I’m out in the forest, or walking the streets of Los Angeles, and come across an oak tree without acorns, a virgin oak, I’ll know the reason why. I’ll entertain/impress my friends with my oak tree intelligence.

For all those inconsiderate people who chop down trees without any regard for the tree’s life-cycle, well... as you rev that chainsaw just think about all those unborn acorns that will never see the light of day. If you listen real closely as the chainsaw murders the tree you’ll hear the mutilating cries of the screaming acorns Long live the mighty oak.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Lucky 13

OJ Simpson just couldn’t live a quiet life out of the spotlight. He needed attention and he needed it badly, so he committed armed-robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas in a stupid attempt to seize sport mementos from his time as a football hero.

What an idiot!

After beating a double murder rap was he feeling so invincible and above-the-law that he thought he’d never get caught?

The guilty verdict came down thirteen years to the day from his being acquitted in the brutal murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. He now faces life in prison.

Sports star... Celebrity... Egomaniac.... Murderer... Armed-robber.... Kidnapper... Prisoner

Karma has finally caught up with him.

Bubba and all the guys in Cell Block 7 have a new bitch coming... His name is Orenthal James Simpson.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I Learn Me Well

My thirst for knowledge, or my fear of total ignorance, recently enveloped itself around me, and I decided to do something about it. I read magazines and books. Not magazine articles about who’s doing what to whom, but insightful articles about the world around me. Not non-fiction novels (though I do love them) but books that would expand my brain power.

What did I read?

My stack of “The New Yorker” magazine was getting dusty from neglect so I dove right in and read all the back issues (and there were many). From the financial crises to the presidential election to art and theatre I’ve quenched my thirst for knowledge. Of course I took time to giggle at the numerous cartoons that pepper the magazine. Even when I’m in learning-mode I do need some comic relief.

For books I’ve just finished “Mac OS X Leopard for Dummies.” It was geek of me to do so, but how else was I to learn all the nooks and crannies of my new laptop? Did you know that Option+G will create the copyright symbol? I didn’t, but now I do. I also learned the joys of widgets. Oooh baby, widget me silly.

My love of wine has brought me to “Windows On The World Complete Wine Course” by Kevin Zraly. I’ve just started it but the excitement is almost too much. Did you know that a bottle of wine is 86% water? That vitus is Latin for vine? That “brix” is the winemaker’s measure of sugar in grapes? Now you do.

I might not know tons about everything but I do know a little about a lot, which I’ll be certain to use during the next cocktail party conversation.

But all good things do come to an end, and today I started working on a new film. There be long working hours and little time for reading, but I will persevere.

Knowledge is power.

And choosing and drinking a good glass of wine while playing with my MacBook is the perfect aah.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Snooze Fest

Last night I made the terrible mistake of watching the Emmy Awards telecast.

Boooooring! I kept hoping it would get better but unfortunately it didn’t.

The five hosts were an embarrassment. Sure they can read cue cards for their “unscripted” shows, but what were they trying to prove last night? Each of them should never be allowed to host the Emmy Awards ever again, and the category of Best Host for a Reality Series needs to be eliminated.

Yeah for Tina Fey and “30 Rock.”

Yeah for Don Rickles.

Yeah for “Mad Men.”

Yeah for Josh Groban performing thirty television theme songs in less than five minutes.

Yeah for Ricky Gervais.

It was the least watched Emmy Awards in television history. Maybe next year the producers will put “entertainment” back into the show.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

Back when I was in grammar school, fourth grade to be exact, I started taking violin lessons. Why violin? It was the only instrument being offered. (Band instruments weren't taught until fifth grade.)

Soon thereafter my parents bought me my very own violin. I remember picking it up from my violin teacher on a Saturday morning. It was a tremendous moment in my simple suburban life.

The following morning I woke up at something like 5 AM and immediately grabbed my violin and began to play, not with a bow but plucking the strings, pizzicato. The only songs I knew at the time were “Three Blind Mice” and “Hot Cross Buns.” I plucked and plucked those three notes of “Hot Cross Buns” with all the determination of a future violin maestro.

My incessant plucking woke my parents and with that came threats of losing the violin forever. I quickly slid back into bed and waited patiently for them to eventually get up. A minute seemed like hours as my fingers yearned to caress the fingerboard and pluck those strings.

Through the years I played in my junior and senior high school orchestras. I never was a prodigy, and I never practiced enough, but that experience gave me a deep respect for classical music.

Since then I’ve sporadically picked up the violin to play again. It would always amaze me how arthritic my hands felt.

Last night I was reminiscing about my violin and succumbed to temptation. I took it out to play. Tuning it was a real thrill and all the memories came flooding back... and then I picked up the bow and laid it over the strings...

Screeeeeeeeech! Egad, it sounded awful. My fingers seemed too fat for the strings and holding the bow gave my wrist cramps. I was horrified.

But instead of tossing it back into the case I hunted through the closet for my rehearsal books and propped one on the music stand. I played again, and this time it sounded better, not much, but I was encouraged. I played some more. And guess what? I enjoyed it, I really did. It was soothing, and something I want to do more often.

“Hot Cross Buns” is beginning to sound mighty fine....

I just have to remember to practice when my neighbors aren’t home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Suddenly Rich

Lately my in-box has been flooded with emails from all sorts of people who want to give me lots of money, and I mean millions. I’ve supposedly won contests and sweepstakes from all over the world. I’ve also been chosen to inherit millions of dollars because someone yearns to do one last good deed before, I assume, descending into the flames of hell.

When I first read these emails a little fantasy voice inside my head said, “Wouldn’t that be just swell!” Then milliseconds later reality reared its ugly head and hit me with “SCAM!”

Are there really people out there who believe by answering one of these emails, and giving all personal information, that suddenly they’d be living the high life? Sadly, I’m certain that people do; otherwise, why would scammers continue sending these emails?

The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s also a potential weapon of personal destruction.

Here’s an email I received earlier today:

Compliments of the day to you. By way of introduction, I am Ma Delun, Head, Operations Department of Bank Of China. I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail confidential and respect the integrity of the information you come by as a result of this mail. I have a business proposal which I believe would be of interest to you. It concerns a deceased client and an estate he left behind, without naming a beneficiary to. If its in your interest to proceed with the transaction, please respond to this email account "". I will give you a detailed account of the source and origin of the estate as well as the transaction proper. I anticipate your cooperation.
Ma Delun

I Googled Ma Delun, and there is a Ma Delun who works as Deputy Governor for the Bank of China. Does he know about these emails?

And yesterday I received this one:

This is to inform you that you have been selected for a cash prize of £500.000,00 GBP. from British online programs you are advice to send your contact to FULL NAMES, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER

Aaah, if sudden wealth were only that easy...

I think I’ll stick with buying lottery tickets.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Every night after dinner I take a walk around my neighborhood, usually for a couple of miles. It’s my time to clear my head of all the stuff that’s been swirling around all day, and also to get some additional cardio exercise.

One night as I wandered past an apartment building I looked up and saw big letters pasted on sliding glass doors. The letters were I-M-E-A-C-H. I couldn’t figure out what it meant. All sorts of theories ran through my mind. When I got home I did a Google search, but couldn’t find an explanation.

For the next few weeks I would glance up and see the same letters. I-M-E-A-C-H.

Maybe it was some sort of message to extra-terrestrials?

Maybe it was the owner’s way of screwing with people’s minds, a sick joke?

Maybe it was an unfinished game of Wheel of Fortune?

I pondered and pondered, and the nagging mystery continued night after night.

A few days ago as I was walking by I looked up and something was different. The owner of the apartment had closed the sliding glass doors and suddenly the mystery was solved.


Now it makes sense.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brains, Brawn, and Bullets

On September 12, 1910 the city of Los Angeles appointed Alice Stebbins Wells the first woman police officer.

She later founded the International Association of Police Women and was the organization’s first president.

She became Sergeant in 1934. She retired in 1940, and died in 1957.

Forget Kate, Jaclyn, or Farrah. Alice was the original Charlie’s Angel.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Just Wondering...

Anyone else thinking that Oprah’s ego has gotten out of control?

I think she needs to be reminded she’s a talk show host, not the first lady of the world.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Make Me Laugh, Hamlet

The other evening I was in the mood to laugh. I didn’t want to chuckle, giggle, or grin. I wanted to laugh out loud, the kind of laughter that’s contagious to the people sitting around you. It had been a long, hard week and if laughter is the best medicine then I wanted to overdose.

With that in mind a friend and I went to see Hamlet 2.

Oooh... what coulda been shoulda been and woulda been if the sloppy script had been polished a little bit more. Sure there were laughs, not uproarious belly laughs, but laughs nonetheless, and the premise was silly fun, but overall the movie lacked the edge it really needed. (Paging John Waters...)

It’s the story of a marginally talented never-made-it actor named Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) who now lives in Tucson, AZ and teaches high school drama. Unfortunately the drama department is being cut the next semester, so he stages a politically incorrect musical, the sequel to Hamlet, aptly titled Hamlet 2, to help save the drama department.

The musical numbers do shine. I mean, how can you go wrong with songs called “Rape My Face” and “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”?

It’s what happens between the musical numbers that needs work. Halfway through I was getting restless as we trudged through Marschz’s failing marriage (his wife is wonderfully played by Catherine Keener), her affair with their roommate (David Arquette in a forgettable role), and Marschz's infatuation with Elizabeth Shue (who plays a parody of herself).

With Coogan a little goes a long way... his comedy tends to be way over-the-top, bordering on cartoonish. For Hamlet 2 he needed to take it down a notch.

Overall it’s not a bad picture. The percentage of laughs is high, but not high enough when you think of what it coulda been.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Interesting Tidbit

According to the book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt the most often dropped item on Los Angeles freeways is ladders.

Ladders? Yup.

I would’ve thought it would be bicycles.

There’s something new to be learned every single day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Fountain of Youth

I always thought the Fountain of Youth was a spring and if you drank from it you would have eternal youth. I remember reading that the spring is supposedly in Florida, though it has never been found.

Maybe that’s why Florida has become the old folks capital of the United States. People retire, move to Florida, and spend their days playing cards in their air-conditioned homes and roaming the streets at night searching for the elusive fountain.

Here’s The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder:

If there’s no Fountain of Youth then what is it that makes people live long lives?

According to Ernest Borgnine it’s not a shot of whiskey a day, eating healthy, good genes, Botox, a secret Chinese herb, or staying physically fit. For 91 year old Ernest it’s sex-with-self. “I masturbate a lot!”

Ernest loves to slap the monkey. How many times a day I wonder? Does he need viagra to get it started? Does he do it while watching his old television shows and movies? Bless his heart, he’s discovered his own little fountain... of youth.

But he’s not the only elder who sings the praises of self-satisfaction. 

Remember Gloria Stuart from “Titanic”? In her post “Titanic” autobiography she also praised the joys of the one-handed (maybe in her case two-handed) midnight marathon saying, “I am devoted to masturbation.” The old gal is 98 years old and still breathing, so there must be something to it.

Can it be that going to the gym five times a week in order to stay young and fit can actually be replaced by a daily wank? Maybe it’s something we should all try.

Wouldn’t if be funny if for every wank you add another three minutes to your life...

If that were true then there would be a lot - and I mean A LOT - of people living well past one-hundred.

One thing I know for sure, if I ever meet Ernest Borgnine or Gloria Stuart I know not to shake their hands.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Exiles

Last night I ventured over to The Billy Wilder Theatre at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles to see Kent Mackenzie’s rarely seen 1961 feature film “The Exiles,” the story of Native Americans searching for identity in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles.

In the late 1950s many Native Americans moved to Los Angeles settling in the Bunker Hill section of downtown (presently home to high-rise office structures and apartments, and the Walt Disney Hall). Prior to the 1950s Bunker Hill was home to wealthy Angelenos, but by the 1960s it had deteriorated into a run-down neighborhood, a skid row of its time. Mackenzie’s film chronicles a group of exiles, Native Americans who left the reservations, over a twelve-hour period during a weekend night. Pregnant Yvonne finds solace in going to the movies and dreaming of a better life for her unborn child, while her husband and his friends go bar hopping, drinking, gambling, and carousing, and spending the predawn hours overlooking the cityscape beating drums, singing and dancing, and experiencing the cultural bond that holds them together.

It’s gritty. It’s realistic. It’s honest. It’s a glimpse into a group of Native Americans who are struggling with poverty and boredom, while missing the open space and slower paced life of the reservation. Each character takes turn narrating their story; their hopes and dreams.

“The Exiles” was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1961 and won accolades but never received distribution. It’s currently being shown in limited release across the country (and in France), and will hopefully be released on DVD soon.

Here's the trailer:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Favorite Quotation

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.

- Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh Moon of Alabama...

It’s always great to see people you know achieve success. Whether it’s to act in movies, sing on the Broadway stage, earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for eating the most hot dogs, producing a CD, or becoming an expert cake decorator, the fact that they pursued their dream is something to admire. And when they truly succeed it deserves a huge celebration.

My friend A. J. Teshin has just achieved a wonderful milestone in his musical career. Today he released his first CD: “The Kurt Weill Project.” It’s a sterling collection of songs by the 20th Century German Composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950). The arrangements are new, edgy, and fresh, while maintaining the essence of Weill.

Prostitution, anti-war rage, loneliness, murder, and love are the themes explored.

Teshin sings in English, German, and French. The CD booklet contains the German and French lyrics with their English translations.

Here’s the song list:

Lonely House
Nanna’s Lied
The Alabama Song
Complainte de la Seine
The Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife
Je Ne T’aime Pas
Le Train du Ciel
Ballad-Tango 2008
Speak Low
It Never Was You

The iTunes collection includes “Surabaya Johnny.”

My favorites are “Lonely House,” “The Alabama Song,” “Je Ne T’aime Pas,” “Le Train du Ciel,” and his exquisite reading of “It Never Was You.”

If you love the songs of Kurt Weill and love when singers successfully breathe new life into the material then this CD demands your attention.

Bravo A.J.!

“The Kurt Weill Project” is available through iTunes,, and LML Music (

Friday, August 08, 2008

Something’s Fowl

The average US consumer eats eighty-seven pounds of chicken per year which is double the amount from 1980.

Is this a good thing?

With all the chemicals pumped into chickens to make them grow faster and have meatier breasts I would say it’s not.

Suddenly broccoli, peas, zucchini, spinach, and tofu are looking better every day.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Me Tarzan

Today I had the pleasure of driving to the valley and visiting Tarzana, CA. Actually I would never have thought of going to Tarzana except that a friend of mine needed to drop his Mercedes off for service and I was giving him a ride back to Hollywood. Did you know that Tarzana was named in honor of Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote the Tarzan stories? Yup, the town is named after a feral child who was raised by apes.

I got there a little early and wandered the streets in search of a bite to eat. It was morning and I’d just come from the doctor’s office (physical) and was a bit hungry. Okay, starving. I came across a donut and muffin shop and decided to treat myself to something not quite healthy (don’t tell my nutritionist). My taste buds went into overdrive as I peered into the food case. I chose one donut (with icing) and a hot chocolate.

It was there that I noticed a pay phone on the sidewalk. It looked lonely. Upon further inspection I noticed it was filthy, dirty, scummy. It had definitely seen better days, and the stains all over it conjured up some not-so-pretty thoughts. I decided it needed more than a disinfectant; it needed a dose of penicillin.

This made me think... Does the phone company clean these things? Or does the phone company expect a good samaritan to used their personal supply of wet naps and de-louse it? I couldn’t imagine putting that thing to my ear. Thank goodness I have a cell phone.

Someone must empty the phone of quarters, right? So why can’t they clean it? Shame on the phone company for letting their phones become germ-phones. I’m certain more than a few unsuspecting pay phoners must have gotten an ear infection after using it.

While wandering back the the Mercedes repair shop I had this sudden urge to rip off my shirt, pound my chest, and scream that Tarzan victory yell. I didn’t for fear of being pointed at and mocked. (I’m still going to the gym to flatten my man boobs, which are deflating quite nicely.)

And that was my adventure in Tarzana, CA today.

Maybe next time I’ll wander further into the back streets and alleys and see what else the town has to offer besides donuts, hot chocolate, and a Mercedes repair shop.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Discovery

Sometimes I stumble upon a new band or website or book or restaurant and when I excitedly tell friends about it they give me that, “Where the hell have you been?” look followed by that disgusted “God, you are so lame” look. I do consider myself hip and happening, but every once in a while something slips past me only to be discovered later on.

So anticipating those looks I want to share with you my latest website discovery, which you’ve might already discovered and neglected to mention to me:

It’s a great website where you can download (purchase) or listen (for free) to concerts. There are 932 performers listed in the concert section including Blondie, Boy George, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Slade (this should make a certain Owen very happy), Van Morrison, Patti Smith, and the list goes on and on.

Sadly they don’t have any Buffy Sainte-Marie concerts. Maybe someday soon.

Check it out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Navajo Code Talker

This past weekend I went to the 40th Annual California Indian Center Pow Wow at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.

There were food booths, craft booths, and Native American dancers.

When I first got there I made a beeline to the frybread counter and savored every bite of a frybread taco. There’s something about frybread that sends my taste buds into overdrive, and I always look forward to having it.

After the frybread I wandered the booths and headed over to watch the dancing. My dear friend Mary has always wanted to dance with the Native Americans and she was able to join in on one of the dances. She was over-the-moon happy.

The absolute highlight for me was meeting Joe Morris Sr., a USMC Navajo Code Talker, whose contribution to the allied forces in World War II were pivotal to us winning the war. It was an extreme honor to meet him.

I look forward to next year's Pow Wow.

365 days and counting...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A New Evil Awakens

Tonight I had the pleasure of going to the premiere of the latest in "The Mummy" franchise, “The Mummy: The Tomb of the Diamond Emperor,” starring Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, and John Hannah.

In this installment of the franchise Rick O’Connell (Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Bello) travel to China and battle resurrected evil emperor Han Emperor (Li) who's been awaken by O’Connell’s adventure seeking son Alex (Luke Ford).

Catacombs come alive with thousands of warriors and the battle to save the world begins.

Who wins? The O’Connells of course, but not before near death, avalanches, monsters, yeti, gunfire, and some father son confrontations and resolutions.

Oh but fear not, this certainly cannot be the last of the franchise. The final scene of “The Mummy: The Tomb of the Diamond Emperor” is like a large neon sign announcing the next location... Peru.

The film is a totally enjoyable romp with lots of action and the trademark Mummy franchise tongue-in-cheek dialogue.

I liked it better than "HellBoy II."

Oh... The after party was a total blast. Lots of Chinese food, desserts, drinks, celebrities, and 80s music.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Little Crocodile Girl

I don’t know about you, but I find ten year old Bindi Irwin to be a bit irritating and a bit scary. Something’s not right...

She’s ten and yet she talks and acts like she’s decades older. Maybe she’s been around the crocodiles too often, with the adults around her expecting too much, too soon.

(Hey, instead a cash cow she’s a cash croc.)

Hopefully we won’t be reading about a sad/abusive/lonely/drugged out childhood ten years down the road.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Native American Pow Wow

This weekend is the 40th Annual California Indian Center Pow Wow at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. I have waited two years for this event, and the first thing I’m going to do when I get there is to have some frybread. Mmm, mmm, good!

Last year I was all ready to go, but the day before the pow wow I moved to Kauai for three months to work on “Tropic Thunder” (which opens mid-August). I was thrilled to be in Kauai, but disappointed I had to miss the pow wow.

Then in October I came back to Los Angeles the day before the Indian Pow Wow on Kauai. Talk about bad timing!

This year nothing is stopping me from going.

Besides frybread there will be arts and crafts displays and Native American dancing, which is always a highlight of the experience.

It’s going to be a lot of fun.

For a brief history of frybread and a frybread recipe check out

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Movie Night

I live in an apartment building where the mailboxes are in the lobby, neatly lined up one after the other.

When I went to get my mail today I noticed Netflix envelopes in many of the mailboxes, including mine. It was a mini sea of red envelopes.

I imagined everybody getting comfortable tonight in their pajamas, underwear, sweat pants, or birthday suits and popping some popcorn (lightly buttered), pouring a glass of Shiraz or Malbec or maybe some Chablis, and curling up on the couch or settling in front of their computer to watch their latest rental.

I fantasized what type of movie each apartment rented.

Apartment 2 must be getting something animated, safe, like a Disney film, or a movie musical from the 1940s.

Apartment 18 would definitely be getting something erotic with full frontal nudity, both male and female.

Apartment 20 had to be receiving a foreign language film, maybe Fellini or something Swedish, but definitely not Spanish.

Apartment 9 would undoubtedly have a documentary on the evolution of the cockroach, or the complete third season of “Seinfeld.”

Apartment 17 would be secretly renting and enjoying “Shortbus” in the dark with the volume way low and a box of tissues nearby. (FYI - “Shortbus” isn’t a tearjerker, though it would definitely incite some type of jerking.)

And tonight while I’m watching my film I can sigh relief knowing that my neighbors will all be home with their air conditioners blowing cool air and experiencing the joys of cinema.

What will I be watching? Ryan Gosling in “Half Nelson.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

91 Minutes of Green

Recently I watched the wonderful “Children of Men” starring Clive Owen. When I sent the film back to Netflix there were suggestions for other Clive Owen films, one being “Greenfingers,” a film I’d never seen or heard of. I figured “what the hell” and put it in my queue. It arrived in my mail slot the other day.

Inspired by actual events “Greenfingers” is the story of Colin Briggs (Clive Owen) a British convict who gets transferred from a high security prison to an experimental open prison where’s he’s instructed to learn a trade. Through a series of events he and four other prisoners are put together to create a garden on the premises and lo and behold they become gardeners extraordinaire.

The queen of British gardening, Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren), takes notice of their accomplishment and arranges for them to participate is the highly prestigious gardening competition, The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

“Greenfingers” is about growth, transformation, and the joys of gardening.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you must be thinking... and I will agree that this is certainly a whitewashed retelling of what probably really happened and it’s sometimes too sweet and sentimental for its own good, but it also has a tremendous heart, a well-written script, and all around strong performances especially from Owen and David Kelly (from “Waking Ned Devine”).

Everyone needs a movie like “Greenfingers” every once in a while. It’s 91 minutes of green, and that’s a good thing.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Moral Compass

Every now and then someone writes a comment about one of my postings. I thoroughly enjoy reading them, and encourage people to do so.

However, every once in a while there’s a comment that is so hideous that it needs to be addressed.

In my previous posting “Wanted vs. Hellboy II” I received a comment from a Mrs. Walter J. Katsellas that made me laugh out loud. This is what she wrote:

Young man. I think you should stop promoting movies with those R ratings that show women in various stages of undress. Find yourself a church with good air conditioning and go there when you need to escape the summer heat. After all, the summer heat is no comparison to the eternal fires of Hell, which is where you might end up if you keep watching movies like this, dear. The choice is clear. Yours in the Love of Christ.

I click over to her blog to find out a little about her, and this is what’s written under the “About Me” section:

This is a Senior Citizen in her Golden Years who has taken to journal writing. Maureen Katsellas is a feminist, an activist, a Catholic, and not afraid to speak her mind. “I am a down to earth Moral Compass for my Neighborhood, and after encouragement from some of those altos in the church choir, I am taking my story story onto the world wide web to knock some sense into the heads of these teeny bopper young kids on the information super hi way,” she says.

I read some of her postings and they’re absolutely hateful. Jesus ought to wash her mouth out with soap!

Shame on you Mrs. Walter J. Katsellas. You’re moral compass appears to be wedged up your ass. Take it out a relax a little. You might be surprised at how good it feels.

All I can say to you, Mrs. Walter J. Katsellas, is I hope you like the heat because with a close-minded “moral compass” like yours you will definitely end up in the eternal fires of Hell... hopefully sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wanted vs. Hellboy II

Over the past week I was invited to screenings for two action films. Usually the action genre is not the top of my list, but they were free and I figured, “Hey, what have I got to lose?”

The first film was “Wanted,” the highly anticipated Angelina Jolie flick. The premise is pretty ludicrous with not a trace of believability, but there’s something about it that works, and works well. James McAvoy plays an anxiety prone dweeb accounts manager who’s a doormat for his girlfriend, his boss, and his best friend (who’s sleeping with the girlfriend). They treat him like crap. Then one day Fox (Angelina Jolie) shows up and changes his life forever. She transforms him into an assassin to avenge the death of his father, a man he never knew.

Yeah, yeah... there are twists and turns and lots of gunshots, and yes, one scene with a naked-from-the-back Jolie, which for some would be worth the price of the ticket.

All in all “Wanted” is an enjoyable romp that’ll get everyone out of the summer heat and into the air conditioned cineplex.

The other film was “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.” I never saw the first Hellboy film, and maybe that’s why I found this one such a disappointment. There just didn’t seem to be any chemistry between the characters. The silly dialogue and not-so-good acting didn’t help either.

What’s the story? The Golden Army rises and rebels in order to rule the world, and Hellboy leads the crusade to defeat these creatures from the mythical world. Does he succeed? Oh yeah, and the ending is a set up for yet another sequel in this franchise.

In an attempt for humor there’s a scene where Hellboy gets drunk and sentimental, singing along to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You.” What can I say? It’s good to see Manilow having yet another career resurgence.

Of the two films I say go see “Wanted” and skip “Hellboy II.”