Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's back to work tomorrow

I've had a couple of days off from work.  This is how I'm feeling right now ... 


But it's rise and shine at 6 am tomorrow.  Just thinking about that makes me feel like this ...


Yep, I work the weekend. 

Happy Memorial Day everyone! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No sympathy for the hikers

Have you been following the plight of the three hikers?

I was driving down to San Diego and I happened to pick up a program interviewing their three mothers and let me tell you, it was fascinating stuff. It kept me awake during the entire two hour drive.

If you’re not familiar with their story, here it is in a nutshell:

Three young Americans, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were hiking in Iraq and because of a lousy map, they accidentally crossed the border into Iran and were subsequently arrested. They have spent the past 10 months in an Iranian jail and their mothers were able to visit them recently for the first time.

So that’s the simple story and as always, things are not always as they appear.

As it turns out, these three were not vacationing in the Middle East and even one of their mothers admitted that they were not "accidental tourists". They are political activists who were in the Middle East to protest the American treatment of Iraq. Two out of the three were living in the Middle East at the time while the third was visiting. In other words, they should have been very aware of the politics, the culture and certainly the geography of the region.

The three hikers, along with 15000 facebook friends, are protesting their innocence by saying that they stumbled into Iran and deserve to be set free. The Iranians are saying that they are spies and are holding them for an indefinite period of time.

IF you believe that these hikers “stumbled” into Iran, then I have a beautiful new bridge in Brooklyn that I would like to sell you. I have lived around the world and I know that there are some places in the world that are very inhospitable, if not downright dangerous, to foreigners. In fact, I’m guessing that most Americans know that. This leaves me to conclude that either these hikers are complete morons (it’s possible but they are college educated and supposedly savvy about international matters) or they were really doing something that they should not have been doing. Yeah, it sucks to be in a foreign jail but that’s what you get for breaking the law in Iran. THEY ARE FREAKIN’ LUCKY THEY AREN’T GETTING STONED TO DEATH!

Geezes, didn’t they see Midnight Express? You get caught doing something illegal in some countries and the punishment is steep. Yes, the punishment does seem severe to our eyes but I’m tired of people who are culturally myopic; it’s their country and they have certain laws that are followed.

What irks me the most is how the criminals are asking the American government to help them. WTF? This is the same government that they were PROTESTING! Don’t they think that the American government has enough on their hands without helping their pathetic asses in a foreign jail?

The people I feel sorry for are the mothers. Mothers love their offspring no matter how dumb or politically misguided they are. I’m sure they truly believe their children are innocent, God bless their na├»ve souls and for their sakes, I do hope the the hikers make it home alive.

And I hope they’re never allowed to go near the Middle East again.

If you want to read some propaganda, please check out their website at www.freethehikers.org
 
Blech!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My imdb page

I recently found out that I'm on IMDB, otherwise known as the Internet Movie Database. 

This is really not the first time.  I was on it before because I was an extra in the remake of the movie Oceans 11.  If you slow down the movie and watch for me at the edges (widescreen version only!), I can be seen in three casino scenes.  On IMDB, I was listed as Man in Casino until someone thought that wasn't very important and deleted it.

This insult is nothing compared to what happened while I was on the set of Oceans 11.  I was standing next to a woman and an assistant told me that she was too attractive to make us look like a believable couple.  He told me to stand by myself while a better looking guy was substituted in my place.  I kid you not.

Hollywood is a tough business, like they say.   

Because of my stint on Celebrity Rehab (as a veterinarian and not an addict), I am back on.    Yeah!  In your face, Oceans 11!! 

From this point forward, I'm taking all inquiries for reality shows including Survivor, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol (FYI, I do a mean version of Poison's Talk Dirty to Me).

My listed credits are below:

IMDB page

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Troll 2: The worst movie?

I spent five hours in a theater last night. 

For the first hour and a half, we watched a film called Best Worst Movie which is a documentary about the (supposed) worst film of all time: Troll 2.  In the doc, the filmmaker examined the lives of the people who made this train wreck possible twenty years after it was made.  With this strange mix of people, it is no wonder that Troll 2 became a cult classic. 

The father was played by George Hardy who had no acting background whatsoever.  He is currently practicing dentistry in small town Alabama and obviously loves the attention that Troll 2 has given him.  He was at the screening last night and seemed like a genuinely nice (and very happy) guy.  If a sequel to Troll 2 rolls around, he says he won't hesitate to do it.  God bless this guy for thinking that such creative lightning can strike twice. 

Margo Prey played the mother.  In the documentary, she seemed a little lost, summing up her life by repeating "it's complicated".  She looks after her ailing mother and hopes one day to return to acting.  Hearing her describe her experiences on Troll 2, I got the impression she thought she was working on a true freakin' masterpiece.  The same goes for the Italian director.  I don't think he has embraced the fact that his film has the distinction of being the "world's worst" but at least he has recognized that his film has made an impression on people even if it wasn't the one he expected.   

Following the documentary, there was a Q&A with George Hardy and the filmmaker, Michael Stephenson, who played the boy in the film.  There were some interesting questions in there but I was getting a little antsy when the moderator, Jeff Goldsmith, dragged everything on for over an hour.  I wanted to ask, "When are you going to play the damn film?" but I just sat in my seat and kept quiet. 

And finally, they played TROLL 2. 

A couple of things about this film.  It's definitely NOT the worst film I have seen.  That distinction belongs to several indie dramas which I have seen over the years with titles I can't even remember.  However, it is certainly one of the most bizarre.  The synopsis alone gives you a hint at the strangeness of this little gem. 

A family goes on vacation to a small town called Nilbog.  The family doesn't realize that this town is full of vegetarian trolls (actually, they are called goblins in the film) who prey on humans after they get turned into plants.  The son, aided by the floating head of his dead grandfather, tries to convince his family that the local inhabitants aren't friendly after he discovers that NILBOG is actually GOBLIN spelled backwards.  There is a final showdown between the family and the goblins during which the son uses a double decker bologna sandwich as a weapon.  The baddies are defeated and the family returns to the safety of their hometown. 

Or do they? 

There were a couple of scenes that instantly elevate this movie to cult classic status.  One of my favorites was when the son realizes that his family should not eat the green food so he jumps up on the table and urinates all over the lunch.  This prompts the father (who doesn't understand why his son did this) to throw his son in bed and scream at him, "And you can't piss on hospitality!  I WON'T ALLOW IT!" 

My favorite scene, however, was when the sexy leader of the goblins seduces a teenager with a ... wait for it ... a corncob!  Yep.  You have to see this scene.  They slurp on the corncob together and suddenly, POPCORN starts flying everywhere.  This scene has no bearing on the film whatsoever but I, for one, am glad that they put it in. 

There were even lessons to be learned from this film: 

If a guy gets hit in the nuts, it will turn him into a "homo". 
If you tighten your belt loop, you won't get hunger pains. 
If you are feeling stressed, then try singing "Row, row, row your boat". 
If you're drinking coffee, then you're drinking the devil's drink. 
If you're a victim of nocturnal rapture, then you must release your lowest instincts with a woman. 

My overall thoughts?

The acting was bad but enthusiastic, the screenplay was awful but did try to make some sense, the soundtrack was inappropriate but attempted to echo the tone of the movie and you could tell the director was passionate about the project but could not overcome the monumental silliness. I suppose that's why Troll 2 is so entertaining; they tried hard for something great but failed on every level.

Troll 2 is definitely worth checking out but not by yourself. Get yourself a group of people, get lots of alcohol and enjoy the movie equivalent of a train wreck.

You won't be able to look away.


And don't forget about Best Worst Movie.  Support your filmmakers!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best Worst Movie

I'm sitting at the corner of Sunset and Ivar waiting to see a free double feature at the LA film school.

The first movie is a documentary about the worst film (apparently) ever made. The second film is the film with that dubious distinction.

So now you're probably wondering what IS the worst film ever made. If you are thinking the fourth Indiana Jones film, you would be wrong. If you're thinking Plan 9 from Outer Space, you would be wrong. If you're thinking even Pink Flamingos by John Waters, don't even go there because I love that film.

Nope. The film that I'm going to see is called Troll 2 and I've never heard of it before. I've never even heard of Troll so I'm hoping I'm not missing too much backstory.

I'll let you know how it goes ...


-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:W Sunset Blvd,Los Angeles,United States

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Temples of Doom

One thing that I would like you to know if you're travelling to the temples of Northern Cambodia ...

It isn't safe. 

I think this is the only sign that I saw warning tourists of potential dangers. 


Overall, the temples are treacherous; they are very steep, the steps are very narrow and in the rainy season, you are one missed step away from a broken leg.  And there is very little limit as to where you can go.  If you have a burning desire to climb that ancient statue of the elephant, then there is usually no one around to stop you. 

But I really think that is a GOOD thing.  I like the temples to be wild and dangerous.  I want to feel as if I'm one of the early explorers discovering these ruins for the first time.  I want to feel excited about what might be around the next corner and if that might be a huge boulder rolling straight at me, then so be it. 

For the most part, the Cambodian temples are still like this but on my second visit to Cambodia, I noticed a disturbing trend.  They are trying to make the temples "safe" and "photo friendly".  They are obviously catering to the abundant middle-aged to elderly tourists who want their smiling faces in front of as many temples as they can visit during their three day tour.  I guess it would put a damper on the trip if your sixty year old fat wife broke her neck while falling down 100 stone stairs but maybe if you're out of shape and sixty, you should have considered the Caribbean instead. 

One of my favorite things to do at the temples is to see the sunset from the hill temple of Phnom Bakheng.  What I didn't know on my first visit to Cambodia was that after the sunset, you must descend from the temple with a horde of other tourists IN PITCH BLACK DARKNESS.  This was quite amusing because very few people had flashlights and there were no guides to show you were you were supposed to go.  When descending the temple stairs, you just prayed that some Korean tourist coming from up above was not going to miss a step and take you with him on the way down and when descending the hill, you hoped that the tourists you were following knew where they were going.  In the end, the exhilarating feeling was worth the risk of potential bodily harm.   

On my second visit, things had definitely changed; the guards did not let you watch the sun set.  While it was still very light out, they cleared the temple and made you head back down towards the road.  This was the last photo that I took before I was told to get the hell off the hill. 


Yes, I know they are doing it for the safety of the tourists.  Dead or maimed tourists don't spend any money so I suppose there are economical reasons for doing it too.   

Ta Prohm is a must for every tourist travelling to Northern Cambodia.  The giant fig trees holding the crumbling temple in their grasp is a photographer's dream come true.  The first time I saw this site, I was in pure bliss.  

Here is one of the photos I took. 


A year and a half later, they did the unthinkable.  They installed a platform where you can pose with the tree.  Now it is impossible to take the above photo because there is a freakin' rope in front of it!   So much for capturing the natural beauty of the scene.  

Instead they have made it like Disneyland.  Stand here.  Smile.  Yay!  I've been to a Cambodian temple.  Wish you were here, mom!  

Did I take one of these photos?  You bet your ass I did.  I couldn't help it.  I'm a tourist at heart but on the inside I was really disappointed.    


This photo shows more of the fenced off area and the platform.  So much for leaving the temple in its "natural state".


Here is another example, once again at Ta Prohm.  This is the famous doorway which, on my first visit, was taken from a fair distance away. 


Well, you can't get that shot anymore.  Unless you take down the rope fence and viewing platform, you are going to get that in the shot and for me, that completely ruins the picture. 

The only way to avoid the modern additions is to do a close crop.  The shot is definitely not as effective. 


If you are on a three day temple tour (which is the most common type of tour), you are going to miss one of the more interesting temples:  Beng Mealea.  I didn't see it on my first visit because there was just too much other stuff to do but I vowed to see it on my return visit.  This is the description in the Lonely Planet guidebook, "Beng Mealea is a spectacular sight to behold.  It's one of the most mysterious temples at Angkor, as nature has well and truly run riot.  Built to the same floor plan as Angkor Wat, exploring this titanic of temples is Angkor's ultimate Indiana Jones experience." 

Doesn't that sound great? 

On my return visit, I fulfilled my promise to myself and made the trek out there to see it.  Most of it was in a destroyed, crumbled state.   


But, you guessed it, they put wooden platforms and walkways EVERYWHERE.  In fact, you didn't need to climb over any giant blocks if you didn't want to because the whole place was apparently made handicapped accessible!

What kind of Indiana Jones crock o' shit was this???  Hmmm, in my mind, they kinda ruined the whole experience of exploring this temple.  It was a very different temple but I'm not sure I would go back.  

Don't get me wrong.  I do enjoy posing but I prefer to be a little more creative. 


Thankfully, there are still locations where you you feel as if you are taking your life into your own hands.  Ta Keo is a huge temple that was abandoned after it was struck by lightening (apparently a bad omen during temple building) but they managed to build most of it.  Climbing to the top of Ta Keo is a little daunting.  In the rainy season, one slip and you're gonna see heaven pretty quickly. 



And the other crazy climb was to the top of Angkor Wat.  They have installed stairs to make it safer but it still isn't all that safe.  Those crazy Korean tourists think they can climb anything at any age and I was constantly worried that I was going to be flattened by grandma Kim on the way down. 


Cambodia is changing and fast.  I am sure they will continue to modernize the temples to make them safer and to accommodate more tourists.  I strongly feel that this is a bad thing but I'm in no position to halt the progress.  It is what it is.  I just hope the extra money goes towards the Cambodian people and not the Japanese conglomerate who looks after the temple tickets.

Wishful thinking, I know.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Only in L.A.

At Runyon Canyon park...


 

-- Posted from my iPhone

Lyrics for the Mindless

I've recently moved to North Hollywood--oh, I'm sorry, did I write North Hollywood? I meant to write NoHo which is the more gentrified version of North Hollywood allowing them to charge ridiculous rents for two bedroom apartments.

But I'm not really complaining. The building comes with a heated rooftop pool AND a jacuzzi. And an awesome gym. And because this area has a huge concentration of theaters, my building is full of wannabes who, at the very least, provide some good eye candy.

Unfortunately it also means that my commute to Sherman Oaks is longer. It now takes me 20 minutes to get to work as opposed to 5. I can no longer roll out of bed and get to work on time. It also means that I get to listen to Hispanic radio stations on my cruddy FM radio for longer than one song. Piolin por la manana. Por siempre!

Soooooo, the other day, I decided to switch from my thumping Mexican music and I came across a much more mellow station. The Wave or something like that. They were playing Lionel Ritchie and the song was "Say You Say Me" which I remembered from a pretty cool movie called "White Nights" starring Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. I've never really listened to the lyrics before but since there was nothing better to do except dodge LA traffic, I decided to play closer attention.

And I realized that this song has quite possibly the worst lyrics ever written. Really really bad. Even worse than the lyrics in the Elton John song which goes, "If I was a sculptor, but then again, no". How stupid is that? Make up your mind, for geezes sakes! Be a sculptor or not. Don't torture the rest of us.

Even more disappointing is the fact that "Say You Say Me" WON the Academy Award for Best Original Song. I'll admit it; the rhythm is a little catchy, especially at 7:15 in the morning, but this song did not deserve to win a damn thing even if the other nominees really sucked. They should have declared a "No winner" and then they should have beaten Lionel up in the back parking lot.

If you have any doubt about what I am saying, I have copied the lyrics so you can decide for yourself. The lyrics are italicised and my insightful but unsollicited comments are in green.

Say you, say me; say it for always
That's the way it should be


Okay, so far, I have no clue what this song is about.  The melody makes me think love song but the lyrics are making me think about a four-year old kid who is missing half his brain and has to be spoonfed in an institution where he will spend the rest of his life.  I'm freethinking here, okay? 

Say you, say me; say it together
Naturally


This is just retarded.  I know that is very un-pc to say but I've had my coffee this morning and I'm not holding back.  What is this?  Kumbye-ya?  Let's all say it together now but let's say it naturally.  As opposed to unnaturally which I suppose would sound all robotic or garbled and shit. 

I had a dream I had an awesome dream

Now this is a little more interesting.  Lionel not only has a dream but it's an awesome one! 

But then we get this???

People in the park playing games in the dark

That's his dream?  People playing games in the dark?  WTF?  Can you aim a little higher, Mr. Ritchie? 

These lyrics must be drug induced.  There really is no other explanation.  Further proof; only a stoner or a coke head would rhyme "park" with "dark" and think that the sentence is brilliant

And what they played was a masquerade
And from behind of walls of doubt a voice was crying out


I don't even know how to comment on these lyrics.  You don't play a masquerade.  And now he's introducing "walls of doubt"?  There is definitely a darker edge to this song. 

Now it's back to the chorus.  Lovely. 

Say you, say me... (Chorus)

As we go down life's lonesome highway
Seems the hardest thing to do is to find a friend or two
A helping hand - Some one who understands
That when you feel you've lost your way
You've got some one there to say "I'll show you"


This verse isn't that bad.  It makes sense at least.  The coke cloud must be clearing a little. 
(Chorus)

So you think you know the answers - Oh no
'Couse the whole world has got you dancing


You don't know the answers!  But hey, what does it matter when the whole world has got you dancing.  Dancing on the ceiling, that is! 

That's right - I'm telling you
It's time to start believing - Oh yes
Believing who you are: You are a shining star


Oh please.  This is what some creepy uncle says to his niece just before he has sex with her. 

Am I right?  I dare anyone to come up with worse lyrics!