Monday, May 28, 2007

The End of an Era

So I'm borrowing the title of this post from David, who wrote about the same thing. Comcast is gone. Their customer service stinks, their service is unreliable and too expensive. I wash my hands of them. Our internet and phone is now handled by AT&T. Faster, more reliable, cheaper. Their customer service also stinks, but at least there's less reason for me to call them.

Now, normally, the end of cable would require an immediate subscription to DirecTV or somesuch (an option that I heartily recommend, by the way). Now, however, time is an issue, and I like to watch DVD's, and I like to play games (and the TV is GREAT for both). Battlestar Galactica isn't coming back until September or so, same with Heroes. Lost isn't coming back until January. And we can see all those on their respective networks' websites. The only purpose to continuing the cable service is to veg for an hour or two. Sure, we'll miss Pucca and Adult Swim and Alton Brown, but losing cable saves us enough that if we wanted, we could get two seasons of our favorite TV show each month and never miss it.

So begone, wicked Comcast! Never again will I bow to the filth you spew!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Franchise's End

We saw Pirates of the Caribbean a couple days ago. Now, I'm a big fan of pirates and pirate movies. I think it's a great thing to see a mess of people leaping from ship to ship, and being all swashbuckley. But this was a really bad movie.

It clearly tried hard to be a good movie. I liked the second one a lot, despite other people's abject hatred of it. But this just didn't really go anywhere fast, and it kind of stayed in that nothing place for the whole movie. Sure, it wrapped up some of the open plotlines from the previous movie, but it was just really unsatisfying.

I really can't get into a lot without adding spoilers, but the climaxes aren't all that climatic, the choices made were stupid ones, and the action scenes were too chaotic to be as fun or suspenseful as they should have been.

The performances of the best actors weren't as good as they had been, although the performances of the weak actors were better than usual. Therefore we have a lowball average; you don't really go to a show to see Orlando Bloom and Keria Knightly act, you go there to just look at them. Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Bill Nighy, you go to see act (alright, women can go to swoon over Johnny Depp, but not so much in that role). Their performances were little more than charicatures of their characters, taking out a lot of the spontenaity and fun that they developed in the earlier films, and replacing it with shallow hamming.

So anyway, I'm afraid the "season of the threes" (Shrek, Pirates, and Spiderman) is going to be a weak one. I've not seen the other two, but haven't heard particualrly good reviews of them. I'll still see them, doubting that they can be as much of a disappointment as this one was.

In-law Funeral

My sister's mother-in-law died Wednesday. It's actually a good thing; she had lung cancer, and had had several strokes in the hospital, and was suffering. She had been given only weeks to live, which was a huge stressor on her children. She's in heaven now. But still, she's gone.

Jean was a cool woman. She was strong, faithful, brutally honest and she had a really wry sense of humor. She was one of the most nonverbally expressive people I've known, as one look from her spoke volumes. A small roll of the eyes or a quirk of her mouth, and you knew exactly how she felt. I didn't spend a lot of time with her; I maybe saw her once or twice a year, but each time we did get a chance to talk, she was great. I will miss her to some degree, but I really think about my brother-in-law, and his family. I've never seen my brother-in-law close to tears before yesterday. It brings me back to my own father's death a little bit.

I started blogging in response to my dad dying. I knew I needed to get stuff out, and I was learning what this blog thing is all about. It's been really therapeutic to write down what I'm feeling, as it helps me identify and develop the emotional mess into something more concrete.

Ah well, in any case, I'll miss Jean. I know I'll see her again, and I'm cool with waiting, but she was a good person to have in this world.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In-law Wedding

Darrick, Heidi's brother, got married yesterday. Freakin' awesome! Heidi's family has been pouring in from hither and yon over the past few days, people I never really got the opportunity to know the last time they were here.

Anyway, the cermony was a good ceremony. Not much different from our own, but with more of a wedding party. And what a wedding party! Darrick has this amazing ability to inspire loyalty in a large group of cool people, and him being the wild guy he is, he sucks others into his vortex of fun, dynamic geekiness. Therefore his cronies are a group of people more fun than I've run into in a long time, and instantly accepting of another geek such as myself.

The reception was a huge kick in the pants. Ours had better food, theirs was a heck of a lot more fun. Admittedly, in mine, I was more focused on running around and chatting with everyone, and last night I was able to sit and talk in greater depth with some of Heidi's cousins.

In any case, I'm incredibly happy for Darrick and his new bride. They had a kick-butt celebration, and they make a fantastic couple. Mazel Tov!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Blood Diamond

I just saw Blood Diamond last night. This came out in December, while we were still coping with the leftover schedule of the wedding, so I didn't get a chance to see it at the time. I see the value of not going to see it in the theatres: if I saw it in the theatres, Heidi would have seen it with me, and she has an issue with overly intense, overly violent movies. This was one of those.

It's set in Sierre Leone, during a civil war in which the government was bad, and the rebels were worse. The RUF (Rebel United Front) attacked and burned villages, killing everybody but the boys that they could brainwash and use as combatants, and the men who would make good slaves for the diamond mines. With these diamonds, they would buy weapons with which they would carry on the fight with the government. It was very similar to my concept of hell.

This show is primarily focused on the RUF, as Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) was one of the men taken for labor in the diamond pits, but not before he gets his family on their way to relative saftey (compared to the rebel extermination of the village). During his slavery, he does find a huge, nearly perfect pink diamond (astonishingly rare and expensive), and manages to hide it from the rebel leader, burying it near the camp. Meanwhile, Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio, doing an exceptionally convincing South African accent) is a weapons dealer, being paid by the rebels in diamonds, and subsequently smuggling them across the border to sell them. Eventually the two come together, (more manipulated by Archer than by chance), and they subsequently set off in search of Solomon's family and the diamond.

It's an interesting and complex plot, but the biggest aspect of the film that stands out to me is the chaos the country is going through. I've seen a fair share of the chaos that happens with warlords throughout Africa on various TV shows and films, and by nature these are fictional accounts. But I know that horrible things are being done in Darfur, and I have doubts that it's much different than depicted. Certainly, Blood Diamond was only showing the horror of life plagued by these gangs of rebels, and not that African life is pretty similar to life everywhere else most of the time, but the horror is still pretty horrible.

I'm sure that was the point of the movie, and not so much the story (although the story was pretty good as well). It was a pretty heavy-handed call for people to do something about the hell in Africa. There's even a dialogue between Solomon and Jennifer Connelly's character (who is a journalist that ends up working with Danny and Solomon):
Solomon: Will [the American people] do anything?
JC: No. They might send a check, but that's about

There are a few quips from Jennifer Connelly's character that talk about how the chaos and horror they're witnessing might be shown "between sports and the weather." Or that "the world is falling apart, and all they talk about is [the Clinton sex scandal]."

My own reaction to this was a sort of resigned acceptance. In America, we simply don't hear about what's going down in various other countries, simply because it's deemed unimportant or not ratings-friendly. It's also a little discouraging to be reminded just how messed up the world can be. I find myself overwhelmed to the point that I don't even know how to start, even in prayer.

So yeah, it's a good movie, and I'm glad I saw it, but I'm not sure I can recommend it. It's good, but be prepared to be really uncomfortable for a couple hours (or maybe an hour and a half... the last half hour is much more of a Hollywood movie).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2007 Goals, Update 4

So... it's been a slow month. I've been putting effort in some places, not so much in others. As it stands, I haven't progressed much, if at all, on any of my goals. It's frustrationg almost to the point of discouragement, but not quite there yet. Or rather, it was there, but I moved past the worst of the discouragement. It's partially lighting a fire under my butt, and partially just annoying the hell out of me.

1. Get at least 5 union voiceover gigs: I just finished up my first promotional mailing to ad agencies. Since I'm on a budget, I wasn't able to send out any CD's, but instead postcards that have my website on them. I have yet to get a single hit from an ad agency IP address. Hm.
2. Get one national gig: See #1.
3. Get at least three agents in the local market: I have one; no change from late last year. We'll start sending out mailings to talent agencies probably this weekend.
4. Get into both SAG and AFTRA: Heh.
5. Drop my bodyfat to 12%: After a lazy month (we did keep working out, just not as much), we've decided to hit the gym in the evenings when we can, and mornings when we can't. Still, I'm pretty much in the same shape I was at the beghinning of the year.
6. Travel at least four times: 1 down, 3 to go
7. Get my headshots done: I'm waiting to lose a bit of weight, as I tend to hold a lot of my weight in my face. Not entirely sure what good headshots will do me at present, as I need a flexible day job in order to do on-camera auditions. Perhaps that will be a next year goal.
8. Join the Fighting 501st: I'll start work on cleaning out the garage this weekend, or at least clean enough to set up a card table. I should start work on the suit this month.
9: Get out of debt: Slow going. We're trading out high interest for lower interest, and plugging along as best we can.
10. Brew at least four batches of beer: 1 down, 3 to go. I just got this month's Zymurgy (the magazine of the American Homebrewer's Association), and there's likely a recipe in there on which I can work. I haven't looked through it much, but will check it out. Otherwise, I'll just get another kit.
11. Read the Bible from beginning to end: I'm still a little behind, but moving along with this. So far, so good.

Plans for this month: Dunno. I'll keep reading and praying, probably work on the Stormtrooper outfit, send out some mailings to talent agents, but I'm frustrated right now. I kind of want to just spend my time playing whatever Gamefly sends me. I'll get over it, but it's a hassle.