Tuesday, November 26, 2013

That's Certainly Not the Way to Speak to Someone That Can Spell "Tuesday"!

Once upon a time, there was a gump named Dave. It was me.

The end.

Man, I am a consummate story-teller! Did you see the way I wove a spell-binding tale of magic and tragedy, dripping with angst, all presented with mind-boggling brevity? Plus, the word "gump"! Admit it! I am a master craftsman!

Or a tool, you're right. Well, "master craftsman" and "tool" are practically synonyms.

So, yeah.... I bet you're hoping I'll rattle off some awesomeness and entertain the heck out of you with my most recent exploits, eh? One question.... how strong, exactly, is that hope? Because, dangit, all I have to share tonight is a blast of mediocrity so underwhelming, it may cause mild nausea. I can't help it! Life just isn't that exciting lately, as far as what might be of interest to those outside of my inner circle. And when I say "inner circle" in this case, I mean anyone outside of, like, a two foot radius of myself. In other words, just me... and occasionally Wifey when she lets me hug her in passing... and when I say "in passing", you'll know why she only hugs me occasionally... kind of difficult to want to give someone a hug when you know they just might pass wind on you in the middle of the hug...

Where was I?

Oh yeah, mediocrity.

So, since this past two months or so has been loaded with acting-related "firsts" for me, I think I may add another "first" soon. You see, today, I auditioned for what I thought was going to be a commercial. The role called for a character that is sneaking up on people in public, seeing what these people are looking at on their phones and/or iPads, and then using a megaphone to announce to those in earshot what these folks are up to, embarrassing them in the process. Sounds cool, right?

Well, turns out it wasn't for a commercial, but the project involved trying to make a viral video. The audition itself was unique. It was entirely improvisation, and three of us auditioned at once -- two sitting down, looking at iPad, and the third person being the "megaphone man", attempting to "publicly" humiliate them. This is where they kinda lost me. The first guy with the megaphone was quite crude. I'm thinking, "There's no way that would ever be in a commercial..." After getting more info, I realized that this is just for the web, and that they wanted crude humor. Hmm... Sooo when my turn at the megaphone arrived, I kept it innocuous and just simply embarrassing and humorous... nothing crude. They tried (in vain) to get me to be more "blue" with my humor, but I felt it was cheap.  Look at me, second-guessing the people in charge of the project! Cheeky little bugger, am I!

Actually, my energy level was way up there, and I did make everyone laugh a lot, but as I left, I knew that me and this project do not have a future together. A shame, in a way, since the pay is quite tempting. So what was the "first" I was referring to earlier? Well, on the off chance they contact me to give me the part, or to come in for another audition, I'm going to respectfully decline and wish them luck on their project.

Lol, I'm just starting out, and I'm already willing to turn down potential jobs. Man, if my head gets any bigger, I'll never be able to find a hat that fits!

Ah, well. What can I say? I wouldn't want to be associated with that type of needlessly crude effort, nice payday or no...

Here, this is as crude as I'm willing to get....

See what I mean about mediocrity and the "inner circle"? None but I would find that story interesting! Has the nausea kicked in yet?

Watched a great movie with Matthew McConaghey and Reese Witherspoon the other night called Mud. McConaghey has been choosing some interesting roles of late. He's so solid and compelling, as an actor, I really enjoy watching him work. Loved watching the extras, with the behind-the-scenes stuff, showing the making of the film, interviewing the actors and director, etc. Makes my heart ring... I just know I need to be doing that.

Blahblah blah. Sorry.

I've been watching train crash videos on YouTube lately. Plus, music videos from old 1980's artists, like Howard Jones, The Hooters, and Thompson Twins. Man, Eminem wasn't kidding, music really is a time machine. It's amazing to me that I can play a song I haven't listened to in 20 years and instantly it takes me back in time to high school or some such. Kinda creepy, in a way...

Yep, that's an example of what I'm talking about. How thoroughly mid-eighties is that song, lol? That's like, hardcore 1985. And, oddly, it connects with a part of me long dormant. Wild.

What else? I missed jury duty. Was supposed to go in on the 19th, forgot. Had to reschedule for February.

Wow, Dave! So flippin' fascinating!!!!

Ow, my stomach!

Reading a sci-fi tale right now called The Darwin Elevator, by Jason Hough. A solid tale thus far (I'm 6 chapters in). A review may follow, should I feel up to it.

OW, my stomach! Stop Dave! The nausea isn't "mild" anymore!

Scheduled to film that police training film on Dec 3. An evening shoot. Should be fun. I forget if I mentioned it in a previous post, but I get to be a perp, and get arrested, for being in a car with an under-aged prostitute... I get to try to talk my way out of it... "Hey, officer, this isn't what it looks like!" Well, it's experience on a set, which is golden for me right now.

Can you feel it, in the air? Can you? The Steam Holiday Sales are coming! Actually, I was contemplating braving the crowds for the first time ever on Black Friday and going to Target and/or Best Buy to score on some ridiculously cheap BluRay's for my slowly-growing collection. Yeah, I'm super adventurous like that.

What else? Well, four weeks left to get the Christmas play perfected. I'm actually kind of amazed that the three of us have done so well memorizing so much dialog. I really hope it goes off well.

Has this post set a record for The Most Inane, Semi-Coherent String of Vapid Content In the History of the Web? Yeah, I know. I used to dump theology on you at regular intervals, with mixed results. Who knows; perhaps I'll get all theological on you again soon, but for the moment, I seem mired in vapidity.

My apologies.

Dave the Apologetic

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Get Thee To a Nunnery...


See how polite and subtle I am tonight? So understated and semi-detached! A simple "hello", after a week of silence. See what a man of mystery I'm becoming? Boy, won't my mom be proud when she finds out! I'm not a spaz anymore! I'm refined and... dare I say.... noble... in both manner and demeanor...

OK, fine, I'm still a spaz.... deal with it, mom!


OK, let's see... all the news that's fit to regurgitate...

Well, I've had two auditions since last we spoke. One for a part in a short film produced locally through the SDSU film department... that one was for a hit man... I would have dearly loved to play that role, but they "went another direction", which is certainly understandable. They're going to give me a smaller part, though, so I'll have that going for me. Anything to get a little time on set somewhere. I'll let you know how that goes... we'll film in the next week or two.

The second audition was for a series of police training videos for the Carlsbad police department. I auditioned with a handful of other gentlemen, and the role, believe it or not, lol, is for a "middle-aged married white man caught in his vehicle with an under-aged prostitute".... honestly, I thought there was no way I'd get the part, since the other guys I auditioned with were seasoned pros, one of which drove down from LA to audition, and was heading right back up to LA afterwards to audition for a film later... he was name-dropping, etc and bragging about his latest roles, etc. Hey, I don't blame him... drop those names! Anyway, I decided I'd just enjoy the audition experience and wait for future opportunities. It was fun to read the lines and improvise some stuff, etc.

So I guess they liked my energy or something... got the email today letting me know I got the job, lol. Half-day filming, 300 bones. Not bad for my first paying gig - I get to play a creep... :D Unfortunately, you won't get to see the results, unless you're planning on joining the police force... you'll have to settle for reading about the experience when I re-cap it for you...

Ay ay Cap'n!

So I've seen a couple things of note lately...

First, saw the movie Gravity with Wifey last week. Man, what a spectacle that was! What a ride. I loved it. Outstanding film-making. The kind of story that can only be told in movie form. Sandra Bullock was terrific, and Clooney was great as well. If you haven't seen it yet, I won't spoil it for you. If it's still in the theater, go see it before it leaves. I can't imagine it will have the same power on a smaller screen. If I start summarizing the movie, I will spoil it. Go see it!

Also, I saw Anna Karenina tonight with the Wagner Women... that is also an amazing movie. Not so much for the story, which was a bit of a downer, but for the craft involved. Describing it here will not do it justice, nor would I be able to clearly convey the magic to you. It's filmed in a wonderful mix of stage and location. Forget it, let me try to find a clip for you... hold on...

You have to see this as well, if possible. The film, I mean, not just the trailer, lol... To my mind, one of the most remarkable visual cinematic experiences you'll have.

Beyond that, I watched the first season of Boardwalk Empire. It has confirmed my opinion that HBO feels some odd compulsion to include unnecessary skin whenever possible, logic be darned. Easy enough to minimize the video while watching, since I watch on the computer, but still, I marvel at how unnecessary the nudity is to the storytelling. I have nothing, really, to say to recommend the series to you, beyond Stephen Graham's captivating portrayal of Al Capone. The rest of the cast is solid, as is the writing, for the most part, but not really my cup of tea. I like a gangster tale as much as the next guy, but this series didn't get it's hooks into me enough to warrant moving on to Season Two.

Reading? Well, limping my way through Knights of Dark Renown, by David Gemmell. It's subpar, and barely has the legs to sustain my interest.

Listen to me, sounding like I know what I'm talking about, lol...

Did you see the trailer for NOAH yet? If not, check it out...

Well, what do you think? You going to see the movie, you think? I may check it out.

So the competitive eating documentary Hungry had its premiere last Friday... trying to find info out on it, as far as reviews, etc., is proving difficult. Honestly, right before release, I heard word that the footage and interview that I shot for it back *whenever* was cut out of the final film.  Those that went to the premiere and hang out on the EatFeats site seem intent on continuing their habit of insulting each other and sniping at one another, rather than actually talking about the movie. It's frustrating to sift through. Must be an East Coast mindset or something... Still not sure if the footage I shot is in the film or not. I guess I'll have to wait until I get a copy on DVD to find out.

I guess ultimately it matters little. Still, it would be nice to put a period on the end of this long journey, and move on to other stuff. Just want to know if I and my little contribution had any sort of positive impact on the "sport" or not.

Still learning Russian words and phrases like a fiend. Next time we talk "in real life", ask me and I'll bombard you with what I'm learning! You can smile politely and say things like, "Hmm, yes, how nice" and wonder when I'm going to walk away...

It'll be great!

Adios for now,

Dave the Burgeoning Self-Important Hipster D-bag

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Through Copse and Spinney Marched Bear

Hello? Man, it's so quiet in here... kinda eerie. This place used to be hoppin. Well, I guess everything outlives its purpose, eh? Good thing I can't recognize such things, right!!!1! I mean, I'll keep writing posts in this blog until the end of time! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Actually, when I first started this blog (like, what? 30 years ago? Feels like it, lol), I didn't think anyone but my mom would read anything here. I just had fun entertaining myself. I pictured myself on a small stage in front of an audience made up of a few dozen clones of myself. That way, at least mentally, I would imagine my "audience" laughing at all my nonsense... well, turns out some real live people started finding and enjoying my weird sense of humor and rants and things as well... surprised me as much as anyone. The blog kind of grew from there.

Man, what's with the trip down memory lane, eh? No clue. As usual, I never have any idea what I'm going to post in here before I start. Just open a new post and start typing. Kinda goes where it wants to...

If you suffer from vertigo, don't watch this Go-Pro parkour video. Everyone else, try it...

Crazy Russians.

Speaking of Crazy Russians, I had my initial meeting with the director and two co-stars of that web series I've been hired for. Not really sure what I'm at liberty to share about it... but let me say, this project and the crew are legit, the project is a BIG deal, and really, I should be far more nervous about it than I am. On paper, it's daunting... not only will I need to act my butt off, but speak Russian lines as close to perfectly as possible, and speak the English lines with a legit Russian accent... I need to research a lot about the Russian military and culture in the pre-fall era and the immediate aftermath, plus my character has suffered a strong personal tragedy that needs to be factored into how I approach the character development and presentation. That's just the tip of the iceberg... but you know what? Inside, I am thoroughly confident that I can do it. Chances are, being new to projects like this lends an "ignorance is bliss" aspect to my confidence level...

Bottom line, it's amazing to me that I've been cast in such a big project right out of the gate. We have our first cast meeting and script read-through set for the first weekend in December. We will begin filming the first episode in late January, and will film Fri-Sat-Sun every weekend until all 8 episodes are in the can. Plus, pre-production on the first movie will begin as well. Whether I'm involved in the film(s) or not, I'm not sure. A lot depends on if my character survives the web series, if I do a good job, and if the "fans" (here and overseas) like me and the character I create.

OMG, it's all so exciting, I'm beside myself! When the website goes live for the film/series project, I will link to it here... you will not believe how amazing it is. I cannot wait to dig into this. More info as it develops (and as I clear it with the director/producers).

What else? Well, just wrapping up a video editing project for some church friends who are trying to win a spot on the show Desperate Landscapes. If they get chosen for the show, they get a landscaping makeover, which they actually really do desperately need. Once the video I made for them is posted up to YouTube, I'll link to it, so you can admire my mad editing skillz...

Plus, been rehearsing for the Christmas play twice a week, working on line art pictures for another church friend's book he wrote, gaming with the D&D crew every other Wednesday, taking acting classes Thursday nights, working out with my trainer every Monday, drinking Starbucks like a fiend (don't tell my trainer), trying to cheer up a manic-depressive friend, and prepping for yet another audition I have in 2 days (for a short film, to film the end of November). So my plate is full! Plus, I got another voice job lined up. It will be my third radio program I've done for/with the great Glenn Hascall...

Currently reading a David Gemmell book called Knights of Dark Renown, and sadly, I'm unimpressed. Way too many characters, and it's a thinly-veiled story parallel of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, not very well done. Stilted dialog, shallow character development... I'm about to give up on it and move onto something else.

Like you needed to know that... sorry... winging it again...

And now, a 12 minute studio recording of John Butler's Ocean.

If you listened to it, you're welcome! If you didn't, well, why not? You likely won't hear anything like it anywhere else. See? I provide a service! Narcissistic rants about my life, semi-amusing vids and pics, and great music!

I can't think of anything else to share. Gonna let you off the hook.

Adios for now.

Dave the Fuzzbrain

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Heroes Die, by Matthew Wooding Stover: A Review

I have, on several occasions in the past 12 months, waxed eloquent in gushing praise over a couple authors/books that entertained the heck out of me. I don't mind the risk of making myself look foolish -- Nine times out of ten, given enough time to cool off, I go back and review my bursts of praise and I find that I still hold that position. Very few be the times when I regret effusive bursts of fanboyish glee pounded out in the immediate post-read afterglow of a great book. 

So I shall proceed with this review, without fear.

This book Heroes Die, by Matthew Stover, is a solid, unquestionable 5-Star read. I was thoroughly unprepared to read such a well-crafted, well-thought-out, expertly-written adventure. The premise alone, once it sunk in what Stover was up to, was enough to give me pause and get my mind singing with the possibilities that lay ahead in the story. Such a terrific blend of sci-fi and fantasy I have yet to see in any other title I've read.

Picture a future, where technology has advanced to the point that we can access other worlds in parallel universes, and can send highly-trained actors over to these worlds to take part in "adventures" that people here can tag along on, looking through the eyes of the actor, recorded and broadcast from first person, the audience seeing and hearing it all. The world itself is real, and the people, kingdoms and politics unfold like they would normally, only back here, "we" introduce people with specific missions to cause chaos, uproar, instability, topple governments, assassinate key players, and are able to recall them back here to Earth at the end -- or the actors die trying. 

This other world (in this case, called Ankhana) has humans, elves, orcs, trolls and other races, as well as magicians/magicks, enchanted weaponry, gods, etc... all of which are used, without their knowledge, as the setting for our entertainment -- Reality TV on steroids.

It is a true sci-fi/fantasy hybrid tale, so dripping with possibilities, it staggered my brain.

My fear was that the story wouldn't live up to the premise. My fear turned out to be unfounded. The depths to which Stover has delved in contemplating the possibilities in his premise are so enjoyable to discover, just when you get the hang of where he's at, he pushes things deeper, and then deeper still, over and over until the amazing climax. 

The characters, the villains, the story, the lore, the intrigue, the betrayals, the set-ups and pay-offs... I enjoyed every page, every twist, every shocking revelation, every inescapable situation, every escalation of tension, every point where Stover dared me to guess what would happen next, only to delve a yard deeper and blast me into the sky.

In short: Highly Recommended. A very solid 5 stars. One of the best adventures I've ever read, any genre. The best part? Though this title is wonderfully complete in itself, there remain three more glorious titles (as I write these words) by Stover waiting for me to devour.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Robustious Periwig-Pated Fellow


Greetings, from Dave the Lumbering Mouth-Breather!

Yeah, I ridicule myself like that. Self-deprecation is all the rage nowadays with feeble hipster types like me. Here, watch, I'll do it again... I have to be so careful going out in public lately... someone mistook my giant nose for a two-car garage and tried to park his Smart Car in my face!

There, that should earn me a few sympathy pats on the shoulder and commiserating head-shakes...

So I was trimming the Lemon Bush in my back yard yesterday, and I came away with only two puncture wounds! Are you proud of me? Man, the thorns on those branches! Holy mackerel. I think those thorns are listed in the Geneva Convention under Banned Weapons. Those things must have an "armor piercing" rating... Of course, it didn't help that the hand shearers I was using are getting dull, so they only cut about 95% of the way through the barbed branches... They hang on by a little sliver of bark, and get entangled in the surrounding uncut branches... trying to get them free is a recipe for perforation...

But I survived!

Here's the latest Olan Rogers video... 8 minutes of pure story-telling joy...

Ah, hilarity personified. He's getting so much better at looking at the camera while talking instead of his own face on the monitor to his left!

So I was reading Winnie the Pooh to my 7 year old the other night -- no, scratch that.... she's 8 now! Just turned, on the 26th of Oct! She's so big now! Soon, she'll have her driver's permit and have her own apartment and a full-back tattoo! Anyway, I was reading the story to her, and decided to read it with the Russian accent... now, most of you know I also do pretty spot-on impressions of ALL of the character voices for the entire cast... so I decided to accept the challenge, and do all the character voices with accents as well! Yes, picture the Winnie the Pooh voice that you know and love, only in a Russian accent! Woohoo! Such fun!

Oh, wait, that reminds me... you are not going to believe this...

I won't embed it here, but I will link to it... I was looking for beginner's Russian Language videos on YouTube last week, and I happened upon a woman in Texas who is a native Russian, but moved to America, learned English, and now teaches the Russian language to American high school students... Now, apparently she moved to Texas, and learned English with a heavy southern drawl... so she has this extreme hybrid accent she's rockin'... a Russian/Southern accent that I can't possibly mimic... you have to hear it to believe it. Go to THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO, skip ahead somewhere in the middle and listen to this lady talk for a minute or two... trust me, you'll love it...

So on the off chance you haven't read Brandon Sanderson's series starter The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive), you can get the digital edition for your Kindle over at Amazon as I write this for a pittance - $1.26! A buck and a quarter!? Are you kidding me!? Go ahead and go grab it now, I'll wait...

Speaking of the prolific Sanderson, he has announced a buttload of Mistborn novels on the way. Along with two more stand-alone novels following Waxillium in the Alloy of Law wild west setting, there will be two more trilogies that are set to be follow-ups to the original Mistborn trilogy. Yep, he plans a trilogy of trilogies, two more Alloy of Law Mistborn books, as well as cranking out books in his dozen-title Stormlight Archive. That alone would set a normal author back 30 years or more, but Sanderson is a superhero whose superpower seems to be writing terrific books at a terrifying speed, without sacrificing quality in the least. Unbelievable.

Speaking of great books, I'm reading a rare one at the moment... I've read some terrific books this year (and a couple tepid titles, and a scattering of turds), but this may be the first title this year that pushed past the "hey, this is a great read" stage and into the "OMG, I must read this until I pass out or finish the book, whichever comes first" stage. It is called Heroes Die, by author Matthew Stover. The premise is so rich, and well-developed... it is a true hybrid of fantasy and sci-fi, in the purest sense I've ever seen... and it has levels like you can't believe. I'm about 20% in right now, and at the launching point for the meat of the story, which Stover has set up brilliantly. I can't wait to get back to reading it tonight, snuggled in bed, hoodie on, draw-strings pulled snug, the wee hours beckoning me... *shudder of joy* I hope to foist a glowing review upon you soon...

This girl is 9 years old...

Umm.... WOW. My youngest daughter just turned 8, as I mentioned earlier... that blows me away. Can you imagine a kid that young singing that well?... unbelievable.

So that competitive eating documentary I was film for a few years back (called Hungry) is finally ready for prime time. It is premiering in NYC on the 15th of November (about 2 weeks from the moment I write this)... where it releases from there, I have no idea. I hope it shows up in LA somewhere, so I can run up and see it in a theater... otherwise if it's more a straight-to-video thing, I'll get a copy and watch it from the well-insulated comfort of my own sanctum sanctorum. Here is the official website, if you want to watch the trailer or get more info. Here's hoping I didn't make a fool of myself...

Now that's a smart invention... unless it's your drive and you lose the key!

Well, I think that's enough nonsense for now. Next weekend, I'm going to meet with the director of the web series project I've been hired for, along with my co-actor, for a sit-down, and in depth discussion about the project and about character development, etc. I'll let you know how that goes...

Adios for now,

Dave the Wandering Wildebeest

PS By the way, that is a real photo of Saturn up at the top of this post. I'm currently using the high-res version of it as my desktop background...