Thursday, November 29, 2007

Steelers: Building up karma points.

I believe that the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers are losing to and struggling against all these mediocre teams (e.g. Denver Broncos, NY Jets, and the 0-10 Miami Dolphins) is to build up the necessary reserves of good karma in order to wreck the New England Patriots' chance at a perfect season.

Two weeks... just watch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Best Soup Dumplings in New York - Grand Sichuan

For the uninitiated, a soup dumpling isn't a dumpling that goes in soup, it's a dumpling with soup inside. They are made by placing seasoned minced meat and a small frozen cube of soup inside a dumpling wrapper and then steaming. When done correctly, the flavors of the soup and the meat explode inside your mouth and make for a perfect start to most any Chinese meal.

And Grand Sichuan on W. 24th Street and 9th Avenue most definitely does them correctly. Their crab meat and pork soup dumplings are spectacular, a fact I was reminded of the other night.

It's always refreshing to find something whose memory always pales in comparison to the actual experience. Chikalicious is always like that, as is Grand Sichuan. They are hands down one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city, particularly for the price. Two people can eat heartily for around $30, tax and tip included. Granted, it's no $5 trip to NY Noodletown on the Bowery in Chinatown in terms of economy, but trust me, you're getting your money's worth. The subtlety and complexity of flavors at Grand Sichuan are absolutely astounding. I haven't the faintest idea what "authentic Chinese food" tastes like, but I hope it tastes like the food here.

In addition to the soup dumplings, they have a myriad of interesting dishes that don't often appear on other Chinese menus in town. I heartily recommend the Eggplant in Garlic Chili Sauce (with or without pork). They also do freshly killed chicken, which I have yet to try - I have this little fantasy that eventually I will see one of these birds fleeing from the kitchen and chased around the restaurant by the waitstaff. At which point I will shout, "And how is the duck?" or something similarly stupid and amusing only to myself.

Note to self regarding Note to self

Dear Shy,

Remember a few weeks ago when you advised yourself not to read your ex's blog?

THAT STILL APPLIES.

Sincerely,

You.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Past Me nails Present Me thanks to FutureMe

Apparently a year ago I wrote to myself via this website called FutureMe.org. I just got this email from Shy, ver. 2006:
Dear FutureMe,

How's that Laura thing working out? Could it actually have gotten worse than it is right now? Curious.

Hope you finished the TV show season by now. You've had a whole 'nother year.

Shy

Yeah, PastMe, it got worse. And a lot of it was your fault. Nice going.

And no, I'm not finished. Get off my frakkin' back, PastMe... I'm WORKING on it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving was great, but Jefferson Market + Turducken = FAIL.

In it's 9th hour, the great bird(s) was(were) barely browning, it's internal temperature nearly 20 degrees below where it needed to be. The 20 guests mingled beautifully and patiently, waiting for the promise of Turducken to be fulfilled.

Just the day before we had picked up the beast from Jefferson Market, where we had acquired it the year before. It looked fine - a great swollen bit of de-boned turkey , trussed up with string, presumably wrapped around an equally bone-challenged duck and chicken, with deposits of stuffing between each layer of bird.

However, into the 8th hour of cooking, the turducken's interior was well below the temperature where we'd be assured of a salmonella-free holiday feast. I cranked up the heat to burn my way to victory, but it ended up being a total of 12 solid hours of cooking before we were ready to eat (I had started cooking it at 8:30 am). And upon cutting into the thing, we discovered why: this turducken was a LIE. No multi-layered trophy, but instead merely a boneless turkey stuffed with chopped up pieces of duck and a single kind of stuffing, with no chicken to be found. And it explained the uneven cooking and odd temperature readings I was getting as well. Suffice it to say I was PISSED... and confused, as we had gotten a turducken the previous year from the same place, Jefferson Market, that had been perfect. Fortunately everyone was very patient and seemed to be enjoying one another's company, so the evening still went off beautifully despite this hitch.

If anyone is curious, here was the menu:

- Fake Turducken
- Stuffed Roasted Butternut Squash for the vegetarians
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
- Green Beans with Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Fennel
- Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Scallions
- Cranberry stuffing, both with and without sweet sausage
- Salad with Carrot Ginger Dill Dressing
- Collard Greens sauteed with Garlic
- Cranberry Sauce

After supper, everyone chatted, laughed, drank and played mini-Ping Pong in the back room on an improvised table that had been set up using a Ping Pong net and paddles set I had purchased for the boys nearly 7 years ago. We were regaled with hilarious tales of dysfunctional family woes from my roommate Danny and his visiting brothers - a tri-alogue piece I have entitled "Drives with our Father."

After everyone had left, the brothers Dempsey, our other roommate Luke and I took some chairs outside to the parking lot and smoked some Cuban cigars one of the brothers, Jeremy,  had smuggled back from Europe. The cigar kinda sucked, but it was a fantastic end to the evening.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Thanks Hallmark.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WHY isn't Cloverfield a Godzilla movie?

There's a new trailer up for the supersecret J.J. Abrams project "Cloverfield" that's coming out in January. It's clearly a monster movie of some kind, but who is the kaiju in question? The one thing everyone seems assured of is that it's not Godzilla, which is pretty much confirmed in this latest trailer, unless Godzilla now has the power to infect people with spores that make their chest expand and explode (about halfway through the new trailer, you see a silhouette of this happening).

Why, J.J.? Why didn't you make Cloverfield a Godzilla movie? This sort of take on the the big G would have been fantastic!

I still have hope though that maybe all the spin and misdirection is just to keep the reappearance of the Kaiju King a surprise. Maybe the thing making people explode is what Godzilla is fighting? THAT would be a classic "Godzilla as unintentional hero" film! Come on, look at that picture, that could be his leg!

Anyway, I'll end with this... There's always hope.

My early Christmas present? Transvestite stalker.

The Internet is a wondrous thing, isn't it? You can meet new people from all over the globe and order just about any old thing that strikes your fancy.

I met my friend Fara many years ago through an old MMORPG (We called them MUDs back then) called Gemstone III. It was a text-based, fantasy role-playing game that consumed WAY too much of my life and, since it was back in the days when Internet access was HOURLY, it also consumed way too much of my MONEY as well.

Fara's a wonderful woman, a fun nerd, mother to some lovely kids, and a big ol' pervert. Of course, she's from San Francisco, where you can throw a rock and hit a dominatrix. Who will then beat you. One time I was out there I tried to make a phone call but got cross-circuited into a conversation between two strippers talking about how one of them had been shagging a certain well known music and television star since she was 15 - apparently the guy is known around town as being a big perv himself. My point is, the whole city is one big hormone factory, so it's not unusual that she's out and about on the "scene."

Anyway, last night I received an email through my homepage from one of her slaves, informing me that they've been ordered to stalk me. One of her trannie slaves. Actually, I don't know if she has multiple slaves, but in any case this one has apparently been assigned to me.

I actually thought it was a very sweet gesture, despite my rather depressing heterosexual status. Though for the life of me I have no idea where I'd put he/r - I barely have room for my new clock radio.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mangosteens, Roller Derby Championships and a complete lack of Karaoke

So today I headed down to Chinatown to get a jump on my Thanksgiving shopping. We're making a Turducken again and I'm quite excited, so I need piles of food to go along with the great bird: Stuffed butternut squash for the vegans, mashed potatoes with garlic and scallions, green beans with caramelized onion vinaigrette, skillet eggplant, yams, collard greens, stuffing, salad , cranberry sauce and more.
While I was down there, I decided to go on a little food-finding mission. Someone recently made me aware of an influx of the rare Asiatic fruit, the Mangosteen (both legal and otherwise). Whole webpages have been devoted to this fruit; I had no recollection of ever having tasted it, even though I'm fairly certain I had sampled it at some point when I was in Thailand decades ago. It had been illegal to import it due to pest concerns and until very recently no one had managed to cultivate the tree here in the states.

However just this past summer the US legalized importation of irradiated mangosteens, while at the same time someone in Florida managed to breed them, so they've slowly began seeping into the NY market. At some specialty food shops, it was reported they were selling the things for $15 a pound!  Good thing we have Chinatown - they usually have these sort of things cheaper, and also, there's a number of illegal shipments that come into town.

As I picked up the various elements of Thanksgivingy goodness, I scanned each store and fruit cart for the elusive fruit. Dorian, lychee, longan all were plentiful and everywhere... but no mangosteen.


But then, out of nowhere, there on Canal Street, nestled on the side of one of the vegetable carts, were indeed the mangosteens of legend, at nearly 1/4 the price listed in the Times - $7 for 2 lbs. Sold!

Later in the evening, my friends and I were on the 1 train headed up to the 2007 Gotham Girls Roller Derby League Championships - the defending, two-time champions the Queens of Pain versus the undefeated Bronx Gridlock. It was magnificent. The happiness began at ticket check-in, where my favorite Manhattan Mayhem player, Tankerbelle, was handling the door. She's so angelic looking, but on the track... so very, very mean!

Coming into the match I had no set team to cheer for, but before the game the announcers asked the crowd to cheer for their favorite team, and the majority of the attendees roared for the current champions, The Queens of Pain. Which meant I automatically had to cheer for the Bronx Gridlock - I hate the bandwagon.

Sitting amongst my friends, most of whom were Queens of Pain fans, wearing small, paper crowns, I was delighted when the Gridlock took the early lead. After the first half, they had nearly doubled the Queens score, something like 54 to 28. 


But in the second half, the Gridlock went into clock killing mode and the Queens of Pain began coming back. The Queens star captain, Suzy Hotrod, had two amazing jams, scoring 9-0 and 14-0, to bring the Queens of Pain back within 3 points with 2 minutes left to go. But a final, amazing effort from lanky, speedy and virtually unstoppable league MVP Bonnie Thunders of the Bronx, held off the Queens of Pain, giving them the Gridlock the 2007 Championship! An amazing, down-to-the-wire match!

Afterwards I was supposed to go to a birthday party at a karaoke joint in Times Square called Spotlight. I'd actually been to this place before - it's a huge, sprawling theme restaurant type deal, with a big stage where you sing your songs, with backup singers and dancers. Not a bad idea, but their song list was very limited and the place was half empty when I went earlier this year.


Well, it's empty no more - the line was around the block by the time I got there just before midnight. To make matters worse, my phone was dead, so I couldn't even call the birthday girl that I couldn't get in.


So instead I headed to the Gotham Girls afterparty at a bar called Manitoba in the East Village. Crowded, and not really great for conversation, but fun to see the Derby girls in their civvies. It turns out that other friends of ours were apparently at a karaoke bar called Second and Second, and then moved to another one on St. Marks called Sing Sing. But by the time we caught up with them, they were just at a regular bar.


No karaoke for Shy. Sigh.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Screening Post-Action Report

Friday night's screening was not too bad. I absolutely hated watching myself act, particularly in the opening love scene with my co-star Kelly. I really have a lot to learn about acting on film - either that or I'm going to have to shoot and edit everything I ever act in from now on. Which, come to think of it, isn't such a bad idea. Also, the sound was an absolute mess; we're going to have to go back in and redo a lot of the dialogue. And the director, Doug Ferguson, misspelled my first name in program. I'm not sure how you misspell my FIRST name and not my last name, but somehow he managed it; he has some of the worst spelling I have ever seen.

That said, the fight scenes turned out pretty well and people had nice things to say afterwards. Visually it was really impressive for an independent feature - the footage in the second half should be even better, as the DP Johnny Tsang upgraded his equipment midway through the shoot and got some really nice lenses, in addition to be a very talented cinematographer already. Doug deserves a lot of credit for pulling it all together, especially considering he's only 23. Very motivated. Someday he'll be able to afford someone to spell-check his copy.

An added little treat for me was meeting Mark Texeira, comic book artist legend (Ghost Rider, Punisher War Journal, Wolverine).


Then after the screening I came home, played video games and ate cheese. That's right... Mr. Excitement.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Apparently I'm starring in a movie tonight.

So I play the lead in this indie action/crime movie called Under the Gun: A Crime Story. We just wrapped shooting this past weekend after 2 years, and tonight they're screening the first half of the movie - it's sort of a self contained "Chapter One"

And yes, both I AND the director are well aware that there are at least a dozen other films and shorts out there called Under the Gun. I believe he's thinking of changing the title, which would probably be a good move.

If anyone is interested in attending, here is the information:

LOCATION: Hotel Pennsylvania, Skytop Ballroom, 18th Floor, 7th Avenue between 32nd and 33rd St. right, across the street from Madison Square Garden.

TIME: 9:00pm sharp (please show up at least 15 minutes early)

RUNTIME: 45 minutes

I'll be there... in the back... cringing at my performance. And sadly, no arm candy!

Here is the trailer:


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Shy in Hipsterland

Listen, I generally hate hipsterism. And let's just start with the obvious: I'm NOT in the hipster clique, so yes, it's definitely to some extent the hate of the excluded. My musical tastes aren't sophisticated enough, my clothes are not ragged/tailored/couture enough, my career is not technical or lucrative enough, and my addictions not destructive enough. I'm not nearly tall or emaciated enough, and my hair is not floppy/greasy/razor cut enough.

On the other hand, I also hate hipsterism because it represents a death of culture and creative individuality. The art, fashion and cultural contributions of the hipster movement have ceased to be individualistic and groundbreaking; they've long since moved into the realm of homogenized Disney-fication, without the corporate polish. For every worthwhile endeavor of today's hipster, there are a hundred crappy, half-assed contributions that just serve to kill off any semblance of taste.

I give you an example. I went to a martial arts stage show earlier this year at the Ohio Theater called "The Jaded Assassin." Now, in fairness, these martial arts stage shows are pretty bad in general - martial artists, for the most part, aren't actors, and actors typically aren't martial artists. This production was no exception. It leaned heavily towards the "actors aren't martial artists" side of failure - in the entire cast, there was only one strongly trained martial artist, and he mainly only played in supporting roles. And frankly, the acting wasn't particularly there either.

But what made this production infuriating were the "hipster" trappings that were ladled over it like gravy in order to hide the overcooked mediocrity of it all. The girl playing the lead character was a fauxhawk/mulleted Pilates instructor, and she moved like, well, a Pilates instructor. She was wearing a white leotard-ish outfit that looked like it came out of Fashion week. Then there was the musical scoring. When the first fight sequence began, audience is treated to the atmospheric strains of the White Stripes, followed closely by Guns n Roses, the Smashing Pumpkins, and other bands specializing in period music. Basically, if you cannot cast enough martial artists to perform in your martial arts show, do not think that you can make up the difference with dancers. You cannot make a dancer move like a martial artist in 2 months. It WILL NOT HAPPEN.

I bring all this up because (at the risk of this turning into the "all soccer blog") I was out in Williamsburg last night playing some pickup soccer at McCarren Park (location of the fantastic Hipster Olympics video, if you haven't seen it). They have one of the few free lit fields in NYC, so it's worth it to get some night time soccer in.

Anyway, the point of all this rambling on about hipsters is that, while I sort of resent their better-than-thou attitude... MAN are hipster girls cute. Walking along Bedford avenue is like scrolling through a personal ad site hot list - just one gorgeous girl after another, strolling along in their thoroughly eclectic ensembles, each with their own aura of "I'm fascinating and do interesting things" swirling about them. I imagined their various super awesome curriculum vitae as they passed: that one does Jello wrestling at Arlene's Grocery, this one's an air guitar champion. That one founded an environmental zine and art gallery and the other got back from doing Doctors without Borders and makes her own absinthe.

All so different, so alive, so layered, so very unique.

And all so exactly the same.

Man, I really want one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Open mics are great, but soccer is LIFE.

Last night I had the option of either attending and possibly participating in my friend's open mic night, or going to my weekly pick-up soccer game on the LES. I feel bad that I keep missing my friend's gig, because I wouldn't mind getting back up on a microphone and clearing my book a little.

The last time I did open mic stand up was over 3 years ago at Train Wreck, a comic open mic at the Parkside Lounge way east on Houston St in Manhattan. It was election night, 2004. Most of my material at the time had a political bent, and the resulting re-confirmation of the idiocy of 54% of the American voting public the next day just broke me. I couldn't do any of that material again. I imagined Jon Stewart, drunk, stumbling into the Daily Show studio, hoping to wake up from the national nightmare that has been George W. Bush.

But now things are looking up(wards), and I'm perhaps ready to dive back into the waters of the open mic. This one is casual and relaxed; I wouldn't really have to prepare anything, just go up and rattle on about some topic or other.

However, this past weekend's reminder of my aging was too strong an argument to go and get some exercise, so off I went, and I'm glad I did. I had a really great and fun game; actually showed some ball control for once, scored a couple of goals, had some rather impressive defensive plays and earned the nickname of Samurai Ninja Warrior. I know, original right? He's Asian and athletic... he MUST be a Samurai/Ninja! Grin and bear it, Shy... the revolution's coming soon.


Anyway, I've been having such a blast rediscovering my soccer legs. I can't believe I've gone almost two decades without playing this game regularly. I grew up playing soccer, absolutely adored it, yet quit my senior year of high school out of some idiotic fear that I might get cut from varsity squad. Terrible, terrible decision.

It truly IS the "beautiful game." I appreciate it now in a way I never did when I was younger. In a way, I think the crappy, selfish play of a number of the participants actually highlights what a beautiful game it is - when the ball hogs dribble around in circles and don't pass, it feels (and looks) unbalanced and out of whack. A complete mess. On the other hand, when good, team-oriented players move down the field, pushing and passing, giving and going, it's just gorgeous. Yeah, it can be fun to watch a really good ball handler dribble around a bunch of defenders. But the real joy of the game is when the ball moves from player to player - that's magic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor - Minor Spoilers Ahead.

If you don't want to know anything about this movie, don't read this. I don't give away much, but there's some stuff in here.

Sci-Fi Network premiered their TV movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor in a few movie theaters in major cities across the country last night. It covers the events on board the Battlestar Pegasus from the initial Cylon attack that kicked off the new series.

It was pretty good, the story wasn't bad and it had some fun, geekalicious moments; using the old Cylon ship and creature designs from the original show, and some clever(?) little Aliens and Star Wars references thrown in for good measure.

Some issues though:
  • When escaping from the initial Cylon attack, Admiral Kane doesn't do anything particularly original or inspired to save her ship, she's just basically like, "Let's go," and they get away due to their computer network being serendipitously down. I found this a bit disappointing, as Admiral Kane is supposed to be this legendary commander, yet she doesn't really demonstrate that here at all.

  • Why were the old school Cylons CGI'd? That makes no sense - just have guys in the damn suits.

  • Not enough old school Cylons.

  • They introduce an element of humor between the Adamas towards the beginning, then this whimsy is lost amidst the typical BSG emo brooding. A real shame, the movie (and the series) could use some more levity.

  • The main new character introduced, Major Kendra Shaw, while lovely and actually a fine actress, can't weigh more than 100 lbs. She was absolutely waifish, and just swam in her uniform, despite the costume designers best attempts to tailor it to her petite dimensions. This isn't QUITE a complaint, as, again, her acting was fine - it was just a little distracting watching her struggle with her duffle bag at times.

The most ridiculous part of the screening had nothing to do with the movie itself, but that there was a COMMERCIAL BREAK in the middle. Not sure what they were thinking, but halfway through we got commercials for the Mass Effect X-Box game and the Microsoft Zune. And after the movie, before the "sneak peak" at Season 4, we got more commercials for the BSG video game and Season 1 Box Set, as well a trailer for the movie we just watched.


Further silliness is that I actually missed the first minute or so of the film because they were checking everyone into the theater one by one, with only ONE person working the admission table. They had two people there, but the second person's job was simply to hand you the ticket and say, "Theater 14, 5th floor." Really? You really couldn't do that AND check people off a list? Amazingly badly handled.

On a separate, somewhat related emo note, my recent ex really loved this show and I felt slight pangs of sadness that I was attending this screening alone. Such is life.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Finishing the Film and a reminder of my age.

So I finally finished shooting on the last of the feature films in which I'm starring, Under the Gun. For those of you who don't know, this is a low-budget indie DV feature I'm starring in, that is being directed by a young man named Douglas Ferguson.

He's a tremendously driven and creative fellow, but, as with the vast majority of indie features, this production has been plagued with delays and complications. Which makes finishing it today such a sigh of relief, as it's now been about two years since we started filming.

It was also, however, an object lesson in how old and broken I am. Today was the final fight scene, and my scene partner today is an INCREDIBLY talented martial artist and performer named Manny. This is a Tony Jaa level guy, this gent - springs in his legs and everything.

It only accentuated the fact that I just can't kick the way I used to, not that I was ever a great kicker, but now I'm not even a decent kicker, which sucks. I could work on it, maybe even fix it by laying down a lot of money for a few months of Bikram Yoga, but I just can't afford that sort of expenditure right now.

I'm a bit lost these days when it comes to my physical training. My accident in 2006 really just threw me for a loop in terms of exercise and it's been hard getting back into a routine. It's still really quite depressing to me, and it certainly seeps into everything I do.

The cold weather isn't going to help much at all.

Anyway, back to the movie. They're doing a screening of the first half of it at the NY Comicon this coming Friday. I will probably attend and watch through my fingers in the back of the room, with a large brimmed hat. I just cringe watching both my acting and my fighting on screen. In the end, that's what's driven me to YouTube... I have more control over how I come across there.

Also, it means I never have to leave the house. Because, as we know, outside the house lies pain. Inside the house lies pain as well, but at least I'm closer to the kitchen here.

Holy crap that was emo. NEXT!

UPDATE: Ha, Manny just texted me and asked how I was feeling. I replied, "Old. You?"

Note to Self: Don't read ex's blog.

Not much to say. The recent ex wanted to talk tonight; wanted to "be friends" and all that nonsense, but didn't want to have to talk about the problems that caused the breakup.

After that conversation was over, I foolishly read her blog.

Where she writes about her new lover.

Bad bad BAD idea.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chikalicious = Perfection

I go back and forth on whether to mention Chikalicious to people, because while it's hands down the best dessert place in town (this includes all the top restaurants in the city - that's right, I'm talking to you Four Seasons and Le Cirque), it is also incredibly small, seating maybe 20-24 people maximum. I don't want to have to wait any longer for a seat than I have to!

However, since no one reads this blog, it shouldn't be a problem.

Here's the deal: For $12 Prix Fixe, you get an amuse, your choice of dessert, and then petit fours. The amuses and desserts change daily, with a few standards (there is always a warm chocolate tart and usually the cheesecake). For $7 more you get a wine pairing tailored to each dessert.

The desserts are amazing. I use the word "amazing" to it's fullest breadth; you take a bite and wonder and awe spread across your tongue. The preparations are simple and straightforward, yet handled with such deftness and subtlety that your always surprised at the quality of the flavor.

The place is owned and run by a husband and wife team. Don and Chika. Don, a former jazz musician, acts as the maƮtre d', tea master and sommelier, making every customer feel incredibly warm and welcome in the cozy space. He no doubt is also the reason for the fantastic music that is always playing gently in the place.

His wife, Chika, however, is the mad genius behind this culinary gem. Do yourself a favor and take a seat at the counter rather than a table - watching her work is almost as satisfying as the meal. Her knife skills are precise and her kitchen work is a model of grace and efficiency. The preparation area is spotless and remains so throughout the evening, even with the constant crush of orders. Watching Chika handle fruit, or warm a spoon to plate a scoop of sorbet is truly magical.

Her amuses usually consist of dollops of sorbet or ice cream in wonderfully prepared gelees - never too sweet, always unusual and always just perfect. I recently had a delicious sweet corn ice cream in cinnamon gelee, and a Darjeeling sorbet in an apple gelee there that I could have lived on for a month.

Then there are the desserts. In October, I was fortunate to catch, in season, her Pumpkin-Caramel Trifle with Spiced Genoise and Toasted Pecan. It evoked every warm memory of the first Fall slice of pumpkin pie I'd ever had. And this week I had her Vanilla Poached Pear a top a delicious cream sauce with Lemon-Verbana Ice Cream. This was especially dear to me as I'm deathly allergic to raw pears. Poached, is a whole other story, however, and the opportunity to have Chika's version of this dessert was... well, I'm running out of adjectives.

They also have a very nice cheese plate which, surprisingly, I rarely get, and an assortment of very nice teas and coffees in addition to their wine and spirits selection.

Anyway, I hope they don't mind that I'm blogging about them - I know they like to keep their operation small and purely word of mouth. Still, look them up and give yourself a treat. Or, you can keep on hating life.

Oh, and if you go, take me with you!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pinups + Politics = Helllooooo Nurse!

A ridiculously talented acquaintance of mine, Burke Heffner, has produced a pinup calendar featuring 13 months of jaw-droppingly gorgeous photographs and models, each representing a major scandal of the George W. Bush administration.


This is absolutely great! Normally only right-wing war profiteers, corporate lobbyists and oil execs could get their rocks off over the political travesties and missteps of our country - now we ALL can!

I always think it's amazing when people can balance art, commerce and political activism together so beautifully. It's incredibly rare; usually such efforts lean too heavily in one direction, be it overly ranty (Moveon.org), inaccessible to the mainstream public (political theater), or just plain sell-out (NBC's "Green Week").

Meanwhile I continue to make hacky, apolitical vids on YouTube. Three cheers for apathy! Hip hip, hoo... aw forget it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cornell and Me

So over the weekend I'm checking my email and there's one with the subject "[Contact Me] Speaking Opportunity." Thinking that by "Speaking" it probably means "Viagra," I open it expecting to see rock bottom prices on pharmaceuticals.

Instead, it's a graduate student who is an advisor for the East Coast Asian American Students Union at Cornell University, and she wants me to come and conduct a workshop as part of a series of workshops on some aspect of the state of Asian Americans in the arts, for "college age kids trying to figure out their identity among other things." She had seen some of my YouTube videos and thought I might have something to say about the Asian American experience.

Laughter ensued.

I'm a 34-year-old man, working as a temp at an ad agency, living with 3 roommates in an apartment decorated with action figures and dust bunnies, whose most significant creative contribution to the world as of late has been YouTube videos which I make in my living room. The kids I'll be speaking to will be pre-med, pre-law, business school students, well on their way to earning more in a year than I normally see in three.

That said, I'm COMPLETELY doing it. And taping it. And putting it up on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Acting Workshops and Fortune Tellers

My roommate, who is also an actor, has been taking improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater. It's expensive, but it's also a great way to keep both your talent and your motivation sharp, as well as being a decent thing to have on your resume.

He has also signed up for a monologues and the business of acting through one of the many "actor service networks" that have popped up in the city over the last decade. These workshops are often run by a Casting Director or Agent in the industry, with the idea that they will provide participants some insight into how to break into the lucrative film and television end of the acting business.

I find these services to be rather useless, in many cases reprehensible. They prey upon a segment of the population that experiences 95% unemployment, with the alluring promise of increasing their chances of booking a job after paying for and participating in the workshop. Their advertising is full of testimonials from successful attendees of these workshops, who have booked substantial roles in various episodic programs or films.

Do these classes work? I'm sure Actress A who got a recurring role on "The Bold Restless Days of Our Lives" after attending one would say definitely, "Yes!" But I'm fairly certain these workshops have about the same success rate as your local psychic or horoscope. If you sell these classes to hundreds of aspiring actors, of COURSE some of them are going to book work, a few even might go on to substantial careers. But for the vast majority of actors taking these courses, they're going to end up exactly where they started, minus $400.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Me + NaNoWriMo = Failing

I am failing. Hard.

In order to achieve the 50,000 word total at the end of November to complete the National Novel Writing Month challenge of writing a novel in one month, I need to write an average of 1,667 words per day, and I'm only doing about 1/3 of that. They don't have to be good, they don't even have to be spelled correctly, but they do need to be written.

And they aren't.

I'm certainly having fun trying though. And I seem to be writing soft-core porn; a result, no doubt, of my current single status and micro-celibacy phase I'm mired in at present time. That plus a large amount of Piers Anthony during my formative literary years has resulted in rather length descriptions of the shape of characters' hips, skin tone and so forth.

Like I said, it doesn't have to be good - just written.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I go to Roller Derby for the articles.

Ah Tankerbelle... I DO believe in magic!

So after 4 years of saying I should check it out, I finally made it to a Gotham Girls Roller Derby match. I cannot believe I haven't gone before.

Rather than sitting on the bleachers, we chose to go for court side seats, in prime crash zone. While a small segment of the track was blocked by the central benches, it was quite easy to track the action. Our friend Heather who is also the penalty ref ("Lady Refstrike") came over and explained the basics to me and a few other newbies and then we were off.

And by off, I mean we sat and watched the roller derby girls warm up and stretch for 30 minutes.

Then the matches began. It was a double header - two Gotham Girls league teams versus a visiting team from Long Island and one from Jersey. I'm not going to attempt to recreate some sort of play-by-play here; I couldn't do it justice. But even though the Gotham Girls teams annihilated the visiting exhibition teams, it was still incredibly exhilarating to watch. Face paced, physical, tension-packed - everything you could want from a team sporting event.

My personal favorite was Tankerbelle, a tall, lanky and gorgeous rookie-transfer from the reportedly devastatingly athletic Kansas City league. Sweet and pure looking, with a colorful tutu; the blue roller derby floor was the only thing that kept her legs from going on forever. I was then quite pleasantly surprised to watch her mercilessly and repeatedly upend her NJ Hellraiser opponents in the pack with the viciousness of a mother protecting her Jammer.

Down goes 'Raiser! Down goes 'Raiser!!

Her motto in the program was "Every time a bell rings, a fairy kicks your ass!" Well RANG-A-DANG, Tank!

I have often said that the Olympics should only consist of ancient, military-based sports. The marathon. The decathalon. The javelin throw. Women's beach volleyball. Etcetera. But now I add Women's Flat-Track Roller Derby to that proud list.

Sally forth, you wheeled warriors... to VICTORY!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ex Calls

As I'm headed out the door this morning for work, I get a call on my cell phone listed as "Restricted Number." I answered, thinking it might be my sub-letter calling with some news (apparently the hot water went out in my old Brighton Beach apartment, and my sub-letter waited 5 days to tell me... no, correction, YELL at me about it, even though I have absolutely nothing to do with day-to-day operation of the building).

Anyway, instead of that nonsense, I hear my ex and a young kid saying hello. One fuzzy connection drop and a call back to my land line later, she is asking me if my newest video is scary, as she's with a 3-year old child, presumably one of her friend's kids. I say, no, not really, and that pretty much is the end of the conversation.

I hate that. Its bad enough that when these kind of really abrupt breakups happen I'm left to think about the person every day for months afterwards. Why exacerbate the problem by calling about something so trivial? And to make it worse, she had that casual, friendly tone as though nothing had happened. I get it, she moved on, INSTANTANEOUSLY, there's no need to rub it in.

And of course, to further torture myself, I check her MySpace page to find that she's finally removed me from her Top 8. I'm not sure what is worse, knowing that all her talk of spending a life together with me was a lie, or the fact that I frakkin' care about MySpace Top 8's. I used to make fun of that sort of thing, and now I actually give a damn? FRRAAAKKKK!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thriller NYC + Village Halloween Parade = Awesome

This year I decided one costume wasn't enough, so after doing Samurai for a Halloween party over the weekend, I decided to zombify for the NYC Village Halloween Parade. This breaks with the 4 year old tradition of dressing up as Groucho Marx and the Marx Brothers with my friends. While I missed being able to interact with people using puns and cheap come ons, it was more than made up for with doing Michael Jackson's Thriller dance 25 times going up 6th Avenue!!

It really was amazing, hearing the crowd reaction. When the music would swell into the beginning stinger of the dance and we'd take that first lurching step forward in unison, the crowd would go crazy. Then, just a few beats later when we busted into the side stepping hip thrust, the crowd would go INSANE - it was like the first roar was, "Oh cool, they're moving in unison," followed by the realization, "Oh, crap, they're going to do the ACTUAL dance!"

Got my picture taken by the Village Voice (above) and apparently I was right in front for the NY1 coverage. A friend of mine taped it, so I'll post it along with edited video of the event when I get all the footage together.

Super awesome fun. I still have makeup and greasepaint in my hair.

But next year... Zombie Groucho Marx, definitely.
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