Saturday, September 30, 2006

Judge Me By My Size Do You?

"Judge me by my size, do you?" That immortal line by Yoda, in "The Empire Strikes Back," came back to me, while I was thinking about the recent controversy over the size of models at London Fashion Week. After the introduction of rules limiting how thin models can be in the Madrid fashion show and the announcement by the Mayor of Milan, a woman, that she would be seeking to ban women with a body mass index of under 18 from Milan's fashion shows, UK Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell (surely an unfortunate name for a woman, conjuring images of a sagging neck...having split from her husband, she might want to consider marrying me, so she can ditch that awful surname of her's), called for a similar ban to be adopted during London Fashion Week. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and Fashion Week organizers, the British Fashion Council (BFC), declined to adopt the suggestion, choosing instead to leave such decisions to the designers. While I applaud the good sense of the BFC, I do note that I was not invited to any of the Fashion Week events. Surely, this was an oversight. Designers, gain that edge over your competition that comes from a positive review in the "Joseph in the Bracknell" blog.
Jowell is concerned that "stick-thin" models put pressure on young girls to starve themselves in an attempt to emulate the models' thinness. She also worries that the promotion of thinness, by the fashion industry, causes those women who are less than thin (or should I say, more than thin?) to have poor self-image. This seems to contradict the incessant carrying on from the British government about obesity, of late. I think the government does more to damage people's self-image, by all their hysteria over fat people, than a gaggle of emaciated models on a catwalk ever will. Since I have been living in the UK, it seems like the nation is obsessed with thinness. However, let this be a warning to thin people: they will eventually come after you, too. This attack on thin models is just the first shot. So, the next time you feel like jumping on the bandwagon of ridiculing those of us with some extra pounds, just remember, you're next. By the way, is there a need for a "Culture Secretary?"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Tomorrow night, Sky airs the final "Star Wars" film, "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." Originally released only last year, it is my least favorite of all the "Star Wars" films. Also, it is the only "Star Wars" film I have only paid to see once, at the cinema. Once again, George Lucas directs and that may be one of the problems. Known for giving actors very little direction, he manages to get even the usually strong Natalie Portman to seem lost in her performance. The storyline seems patchy and there are scenes that just seem thrown in, with no real purpose. For example, Lucas has long said he wanted to show the Wookie planet, where Chewbacca is from. He finally does so, but there seems no purpose to it, as far as plot development.
The transition of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader seems unconvincing. A big objection, for me, is that "General Order 66" seems at odds with the supposed power of the Jedi. Jedi are supposed to be a bit prescient, yet they are almost all caught totally off guard. Still, the special effects are top quality. I will watch the film again, tomorrow night, and see if I like it any better on my second viewing.

Why Does She Talk To Me?

The lock to the front door of my house sticks. You have to jiggle the key in it to get it to unlock. I was sitting downstairs, watching TV. After watching "The Charlotte Church Show," I noticed that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was on More 4. So, I start watching "Curb" and I'm about ten minutes into the program when I here a scrabbling noise at the door. Someone is trying to open the door and is having trouble with the lock. We all do. I figured it was one of my two housemates, either S1 or M1.
Usually, when I am in this situation, I just sit there and whomever it is eventually opens the door. For some strange reason, tonight, something comes over me and I get up to let the person in. I open the door and, to my surprise, it's M1's girlfriend. What, has he given her a key now? Where's M1? He's nowhere in sight. She thanks me for letting her in and heads upstairs to the toilet. I go back to watching the tele. In a few minutes, she's comes clomping back down the stairs. She opens the front door and steps outside. The door doesn't close and I hear talking. After a few moments, she comes back in, walks into the lounge doorway and starts speaking to me. "My family are planning..." What? Oh no, don't tell me they are coming here for some sort of party or something. " visit Los Angeles, next year." Thank goodness! They aren't coming to the house.
I look away from the TV and say, "Los Angeles? That's in America." I look back at the TV screen. M1's girlfriend is gorgeous. One of her parents is from the Seychelle Islands and the other is from Spain. She has wavy, long brown hair, tanned skin, and dark brown eyes. Semi-short, she has a very curvy figure. This girl is a Ferrari and she seems mismatched with M1, as he's definitely a Ford kind of guy. For some reason, whenever I encounter her, she seems to try to have a conversation with me. This time was no exception. Not content to let me watch the television program I am trying to watch, she mentions something about having some friends in Canada, who are going to advise her family what parts of LA to see. Then she starts talking about New York City and her impressions of it, from when she visited there. According to her, my accent still seems strongly New York, so she asks how long I have lived in England. "Only eight years," I say, returning my gaze to the TV. She thinks that's a long time and is surprised that my accent is still strong. "I don't want to stop sounding like I sound," I inform the young beauty. She says she probably won't be joining her family on the trip to LA. When I ask why not, she tells me that she and M1 are planning on going on a holiday to Spain. The problem is, M1 wants to go to Magaluf, in Majorca, while the beauty wants to take him to Barcelona, where she lived for a time. It's then she tells me she is half Spanish. "Which half, right or left?" I ask. Ignoring my joke, she tells me which parent is from Spain. I don't even remember now and this only happened less than an hour ago. Who cares? I am missing my program. If only she had a sister for me.
"I've been to Barcelona," I offer. "He should go with you to Barcelona, as that's part of where you are from." What is this chavish boy doing with such an exquisite, exotic flower? He wants to go to Magaluf, instead? As she says, it's not "real Spain," it's a tourist trap, which is more British than Spanish. This boy has no class and isn't very clued in. In he walks. "Go to Barcelona with her," I shout to him. Gosh, he looks so chavish. She suggests that maybe they will go to Magaluf and Barcelona. He says he'll only spend a day in Barcelona. Finally, they leave and I notice I have missed the middle of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Larry David wore a condom inside out and caused his wife's vagina to go numb, and I missed it. Why does that girl always talk to me? Well, I suppose she doesn't get much quality conversation out of him. Hey, come to think of it, Opal Bonfante is half Spanish.

Poles Apart

I've spent the balance of the week back at the restaurant with the cute Polish girl and German Girl. It turns out there are four Poles working there; two males and two females. Besides the cute, blond girl and her husband, there is a 20 year old guy, who's name I couldn't quite get a definitive pronunciation of. Of the four Poles, he's the only one who wears glasses. The fourth is a beautiful young woman, short, with brown hair and piercing blue eyes.
The brown haired gal hardly spoke to me all week. Looking at her, I had originally thought she was from Spain. I tried smiling at her a few times and she gave me bit of a smile back. On Thursday, she finally overturned my suspicion that she couldn't talk, by saying, "hello." I was working with the original, cute, blond, but married Polish gal, the guy with the glasses, and German girl. Both blondie and glasses guy were friendly and easy going. On Tuesday, glasses guy asked me how I traveled to work. When I informed him that I drove, he inquired as to what kind of car I drove. When I told him I drove a BMW 7 Series, he reacted with disbelief. Why would I lie about something like that? His question seemed to be motivated by a desire that I give him a ride home, after work. He usually walked. I agreed, as it wasn't particularly out of my way. When we walked to my car, in the parking lot, he seemed shocked that I did, indeed, drive a BMW 7 Series.
Driving him home became a routine. The only day I didn't give him a ride was Wednesday, as I didn't work there that day, being up in London for the TV shoot. Glasses guy and blondie both took my teasing good naturedly. In contrast, German girl never could get her head round my standing joke, which involved me saying, " good," at seemingly random times. Working with the Poles, this week, caused me to think about how, back in America, Poles are the butt of endless jokes, where they are depicted as stupid. When I started traveling to the UK, I discovered that, over here, the exact same jokes are told, except the butt of the joke is the Irish. I wonder which came first? Were the jokes originally about the Irish, but changed to be about the Poles in America, or were they originally about the Poles, but changed to be about the Irish, in Britain? As Britain is an older nation, I have this suspicion that the jokes were originally about the Irish. Could it be because there were so many Irish immigrants to America, they changed the jokes that poked fun of them into being about the Poles?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Road More traveled?

Yesterday, I tore myself away from the wonderful world of catering temp work to do another shoot for "Seconds From Disaster." This was a continuation of the filming for the same episode I was working on 10 days ago. The director decided he needed to do another scene with my character. That was fine with me, as I got another day of paid TV work out of it.
I had a call time of 9AM. The plan was to transit the Congestion Zone prior to 7AM and park at my friend Tom's flat (Tom, the Injured Cyclist ). I was up late the night before. I had been distracted on Monday night and so had fallen a day behind in my blog. Now, I was on the verge of falling two days behind. Lovely London radio DJ, Opal Bonfante, a loyal reader of this blog, was complaining that she wanted a new blog from me. I think she was suffering withdrawal symptoms, as she's practically addicted to my blog. Kate Moss could substitute my blog for cocaine, if she hasn't already, and avoid the criticism she's been subjected to, lately. My blog is the latest in thing to read among celebrities, both in America and here, in the UK. Aren't you glad you have discovered it. For once, you are in on something trendy before all of your friends. You can use it at parties. Let slip, "I was reading in the JosephintheBracknell blog today...what? You aren't hip to it? Oh, it's the latest thing and very funny. I'm a subscriber. Anyway, I was reading it today and..." Well, I hate to disappoint Opal, as I find her simply fabulous, so I worked on the "A Gay Love Story?" edition, trying to complete it before going to sleep. I was up till 3:30AM doing so. My alarm was set for 5AM. I would only get one and a half hours of sleep. Not good!
My alarm sounded at 5, as planned. I rolled over and lay there. I didn't pry myself out of bed till 5:21. I was supposed to be leaving the house at 5:30. I went for my morning sit in the toilet. I chose to do a sudoku while there. I have a tendency to lose track of time while in the toilet, or in the shower. Being sleepy didn't help. By the time I had finished my sudoku and my shower, it was 6:21. Too late to clear the Congestion Zone by 7AM. Now what? The last time I aborted a Congestion Zone transit, due to time, I diverted around the North Circular, which entails traveling around half of London. It's a long way and takes ages, especially during the morning rush hour. On Sunday, when I was filming the gay love story, it had been at a location in Clapham, which is on the south side of London. Tom's flat is in Southeast London. I live southwest of London. I have long suspected there should be a southwest passage, which would enable me to cross from the southwest to the southeast of London, avoiding the Congestion Zone, in a much shorter distance than going around London to the north. As I already had the directions to Clapham, from Sunday, I quickly programmed Mapquest to give me directions from Clapham to Tom's. Checking the southern boundary of the Congestion Zone, on Transport for London's website ( ), I decided it was possible. I had found the long sought southwest passage! It involved taking the A3 into south London, picking up the New Kent Road, getting to Tower Bridge Road, then onto the Jamaica Road to Surrey Quays. I finished preparing and set off at 6:50AM.
Things went well at first. I made good progress on the A3 till I got to Clapham. All of a sudden, traffic came to a standstill. Bumper to bumper and crawling. It took me an hour to go seven miles. I started worrying as 9AM approached and I was still not at Tom's yet. From Tom's, I still needed to walk to the Tube station, then take at least two Tube trains to get to Kentish Town, where the studio is. I was going to be seriously late. I finally arrived at Tom's at about 9:15. I decided to splurge on a cash bus journey to save time on the walk to the Tube. As I walked to the bus stop, a bus pulled up. Ahead of me, a guy walking to the bus stop started running. I am not, generally a runner, but I decided now was one of those times and I started running. I was twice as far away as the guy in front of me. I watched the line of passengers boarding the bus dwindle down. The bus driver waited for the guy ahead of me. Would he wait for me? No. I can't say I blame him, as I was still a ways away. I slowed to a walk as I watched the bus driving off down the road.
When I reached the bus stop, I looked at the schedule. At that time of day, there should be a bus "approx. every 12 minutes." It's about 15 minutes walk to the Tube station. Should I wait for the next bus, or walk? An old guy walked up and asked me how long I had been waiting. I told him that a bus had just pulled off as I walked up. He said that although the schedule says every 12 minutes, it would take much longer than that, as the buses get stuck in traffic at that time of morning. Given my experience of traffic that morning, I didn't doubt him. He said it would be quicker to walk and set off. I made a snap decision to follow him. By the time I reached the Tube, it was nearly 9:40. I was surprised that the production people hadn't phoned to see where I was yet. I decided to call them before getting on the Underground, because I figured I wouldn't get a mobile signal down there. I wouldn't want them to call me and get no answer, as they might really worry then that I wasn't coming. Fishing around in my holdall for the computer print out with the phone number on it, I discovered that I only had the landline number for my contact, not her mobile. I remember reading in the last email I had from her about this shoot that she'd be available on her mobile that day. I tried the landline to her desk. She didn't answer. I made my way to the train. As I walked through the Underground station, my mobile rang. I quickly pulled it out of my pocket. Looking at the screen, I saw that it was the number of a bill collector calling. I don't answer when he calls. I continued walking. Down the escalator, it rang again. It was my voicemail service. I had two messages. The first was the bill collector. I had to listen to him drone on in order to hear the second message. The second message was from the Senior Production Coordinator, my contact, who also happens to have the same first name as my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen. The woman from the production company had finally called, looking for me. She left her mobile number. I tried to memorize it, but I couldn't...lot's of zeros and sevens. Now, I am very tight with money (cheap, in American terms), so I never use the service where you can return the call from the voicemail, as the phone company charges extra for it. I decided to use it for the first time in seven years. While I was standing on the Jubilee Line platform, she answered. I started apologizing and explained about the traffic. She said not to worry, that there was no need to rush. She said, "get here when you get here, we're setting up some other shots in the meantime." She didn't sound angry. I told her I should be there in about twenty minutes. Wishful thinking.
I finally arrived at the production company's studios at 10:30AM, an hour and a half late. All together it had taken me three hours and forty minutes to get there, that morning. I asked for the Senior Production Coordinator at reception. The receptionist told me to have a seat and the woman would be with me shortly. I moved over to the seats, but I didn't sit. Surely, she would be right out and we would rush to the set. I waited and waited. Finally, the receptionist came over and said she had some trouble finding the Coordinator, but that she would be along soon. She urged me to sit Did this woman not realize that I was talent and I was needed on set? I relented and sat down. I waited and waited, and waited some more. After what seemed like ages, my evil ex-wife's namesake finally showed up. She told me to remain sitting, as she had to get my costume, then she would lead me to the set. She didn't seem in any hurry. Although I had spoken to her over half a dozen times on the telephone, during the course of my involvement with the show, this was actually the first time I had met the Senior Production Coordinator, face to face. Not only does she share my evil ex-wife's first name, she has the same hair color and is about the same height. She even stands the same. I hate being reminded of the Black Queen so visually. After what seemed like more ages, a member of the crew, whom I had worked with on my first episode of "Seconds From Disaster," appeared. He greeted me with recognition and said he'd take me to the set. As I followed him, we discussed my travel difficulties of that morning. I made myself sound as sympathetic as possible. Would the director yell at me?
As we arrived at the set, a scene was being filmed already. It was one I wasn't needed for. I was offered a chair and some refreshments. The crew seemed as deferrential as usual. My costume arrived and I got into it. I still ended up waiting. It seemed like being late hadn't caused much problem at all. Then it was time to do my scene. It turned out I only had one that day. After we finished the different takes, angles,and pick ups, the director asked me to hang around till lunch, in case he decided to do any more with me. Hang around? No way I was leaving before the free food. While I was eating lunch, I was informed that I was finished for the day and could go home. I had been expecting to be there all day, like I was the last two times I had been to one of their shoots. What to do with the rest of the afternoon? Should I go to a museum? I was tired and didn't feel up to it. As I walked outside and turned my mobile back on, my voicemail called. I had a message from another production company about a show I had applied to be in. I listened to the message twice and wrote down the number, so I could dial it myself. No way was I going to pay again for the automatic return call service. He asked me what I was doing. Oh, would he want me to come right over? I told him I had just finished a shoot and was free the rest of the afternoon. He offered to call me back, to save my mobile bill. Of course, I accepted. He did a little, sort of, telephone interview of me. As we talked about what I could bring to the show, his interest seemed to be on the wane. I tried to build up his interested and seemed to regain some ground. He didn't ask me to come right over, but said they had my details and would get back in touch and that they were at early stages yet. After he hung up, I called Tom's home number. I had sent him an email saying I would be in shooting till the evening. If he was home, he might want me to come over and spend the whole afternoon with him. Tom had said he wanted to interview me for some BBC Radio 5 thingy he'd gotten involved with, about blogging. I told you my blog is the latest thing and it's starting to receive media attention. You didn't believe me, did you? Well, those of you in the media did, because you know it's true. Tom didn't answer, so I left a voicemail message for him, letting him know I was free early. He might be out at physical therapy, or something like that. I continued walking to Kentish Town Tube station. As I arrived at the station, I made up my mind where I was going next. Sod the museums, I was way too tired. I decided to head to Tom's. If he wasn't there, I would sit in my car and take a nap. I descended into the nether regions of London's underground system.
The journey to Tom's was leisurely. As I now had an all day Travelcard, I could take the bus from the Tube station to his flat, rather than walk, as it cost me nothing extra. As I hadn't received a call back from Tom, I thought he hadn't gotten home and heard my voicemail message. I got into my car and prepared to nap. However, based on my past experience of Tom, I figured I would call him again, as he seems to be bad about returning calls when I leave a voicemail. Sure enough, he answers. "What are you doing home?" I asked.
"Where are you?" Tom asked me back.
"In your parking lot."
"We'll, you'd better come inside, I guess," Tom said. It turned out he'd only gone for a walk, earlier, not physio, but hadn't listened to his voicemail messages. We spent a relaxing afternoon chatting. As evening approached, I told him I had planned on going to the Wibbley Wobbley Boat, that evening, and participating in the Comedy Open Mic night, again. Tom said he wasn't interested in going. I was quite prepared to go without him, but I felt so tired, I just didn't feel up to it. Asking him what I should do, he advised not to go. Tom cooked a light, pasta dinner. After dinner, we both fell asleep watching TV, in our respective seats. I woke up before Tom. It was about 8:15PM. I felt rejuvenated after my nap. I took out my notebook and began writing an outline of an act for the Wibbley Wobbley. The Open Mic is supposed to start at 9PM, but the past two times I have gone, it has started late. As 9 approached, I told Tom I had decided to go, after all. It's only a five minute walk from Tom's and I am right there. It made sense to go. I need the practice. Tom did what he always does when I am about to go to the Wibbley, he starts talking about various things, while I am desperately trying to memorize my act. I know Tom doesn't mean any harm, but he always distracts me when I am trying to get in the zone. It was getting to be 9:15 and still he was chatting away. I finally made my goodbye and walked to the Wibbley. This would be my first time performing there without Tom in the audience.
When I got inside, it seemed like they had started on time that night, because one of the regular comics was already performing. The compere caught my eye and said he could put me on if I wanted. I sure did, why else was I there? There ended up being six of us performing. I went on fourth. The past two times I had been, there were hardly any women in the audience. This time, there were quite a few. When it was my turn, I got a good response from the crowd. This was my best performance to date. I got many laughs. Possibly the most of anyone that night. After the show finished, one of the women in the audience came over to my table. She asked me if I was Joseph in theBracknell. It was Sarah Marie, a friend from Myspace and a listener to LBC radio, who's heard me on the radio many times. This was great! She looked older in person. She was there with her new boyfriend, Julian, who had performed after me. They joined me at my table. Julian bought me a pint of Stella, which was great, as I had only budgeted for one, which I had already exhausted. We had a great time talking and stayed till closing. I told them that Pauly in the Morden, another LBC listener and Myspace friend, who also does comedy, is due to perform at the Wibbley next Wednesday. We agreed that we would return next week. I offered them a ride home to Greenwich, which, although in the opposite direction to the way I was going, wasn't far.
In the car, I put on Opal Bonfate's "London Calling Show," on the Big L 1395AM. Now that the Big L's transmitter is back online, I can listen in the car. While we drove, I called Opal and requested "I Don't Need a Man," by the Pussycat Dolls. I told her about the Wibbley and that Sarah Marie, Julian, and I were listening in the car. Opal mentioned us on air and played my request. After I dropped those two off in Greenwich, I turned around and made my way back to Bracknell, with Opal playing on the radio the whole way. It's too bad Tom hadn't come, as he missed the best time at the Wibbley yet. If you are in London next Wednesday night, don't you miss it. They have a comedy open mic night every Wednesday and it's free. Next Wednesday, October 4th, both Pauly in the Morden and I are due to perform. The Wibbley Wobbley Boat is located at Greenland Dock, Rope Street, Surrey Quays, London SE16 7SZ (phone 0207 2322320). The show starts at 9PM.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Monkey Shine

On Monday and Tuesday, I was back working at a restaurant I have worked at before. This one has a German girl, whom I mentioned in a blog a couple of months back. In addition to her, I have met a very cute Polish girl working there. The Polish girl was on holiday (vacation) when I worked there last, so I hadn't met her before. Intel confirms that the German girl has a boyfriend, now. I thought many guys would find this tall, zwaftig, uber-chick a bit intimidating. She doesn't seem to get my humor.
On Monday, I needed to use a scrubber that was in the sink. German girl poured monkey shine into the sink, without moving the scrubber. This resulted in the scrubber getting monkey shine on it (in order to get this, you need to understand that I came up with the expression, "monkey shine," on Monday afternoon. It means "coffee grounds." It came to me, like a bolt out of the blue. There is really no more rational than that.). I felt really annoyed about this, because she just left the scrubber there, with monkey shine on it and I had to clean it, in order to use it. I kept saying to myself, over and over, "you put monkey shine on put monkey shine on it..." The monkey shine got all over the scrubber and all over my hands, as I tried to wash it out. It took me ages to get all the monkey shine out of the scrubber. For Pete's sake, why would she want to get monkey shine on it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Gay Love Story?

Last week, I received a call on my mobile from some woman who was a production co-ordinator, or something. asking me if I would be an extra in a film shoot. The shoot was this past Sunday. I heard money was involved and food, so I was in. I didn't even know the name of the film. Then she said they wanted some people to take their clothes off. I hesitated. She then added that some would strip off completely, some could strip partially, and others could not strip. She wanted to know which I would be up for. My reflex response? I would probably be one of the ones who wouldn't strip at all. She kind of sheepishly asked if I would at least consider, maybe, doing a partial strip. Sure, I'll consider it. I'll consider anything, although I am good at considering stuff and still saying no.
I arrived at the location a bit early, for a change. There were crew, busy, setting up lighting and stuff. I was told to wait upstairs. Eventually other extras started arriving. One guy turned out to have worked on a short film I did over the summer. He said that's why we were called, because someone in this production was involved in the other one, so they had our names and details. A woman joined us. This was her first time being an extra. She asked me a lot of questions about it and I answered as best I could. Her biggest concern was finishing by 2PM. I informed her I was told 6-7PM finish and she seemed unhappy about that. She said she had only come because a friend had asked her to. She wasn't interested in acting, or being in films, or on TV. She said she would probably never do this again. I had forgotten to bring the chocolate bar I was planning to have for breakfast and they weren't feeding us till lunch. I was getting very hungry. The woman was going to nip out while we were waiting and buy herself a sandwich. She asked if I wanted anything, so I said, "A Snickers bar." She declined my offer of money.
When she returned, she had bought me a huge, double Snickers. She refused to accept any money and insisted on treating me. Wow, I ended up with a free Snickers bar. If I had known she was going to treat me, I could have asked for a sandwich. Nevermind. A production assistant soon turned up, asking us each our names and if we were general extras, or "choir." I knew nothing about "choir," but it turned out the woman was there to be in the choir. She was waiting in the wrong area and was directed to move to where the choir were waiting. It was good that I had gotten the Snickers bar out of her, first. Another guy form the short film showed up. This guy was even older than me. He was 68!
In a little while, we were called downstairs. We gathered in a group and were addressed by the director. He told us what the film was about. Apparently, it's a gay love story and comedy. For those of us stripping off, he said there would be no close ups of frontal nudity, because they were going for a 12A rating (which is sort of like a PG-13 in America). We were then told to move into position for the first scene we would shoot, so they could go some blocking and set the lighting, and whatnot. We were placed in a line, two by two. A kind of butchy looking woman, with short hair, was told to stand next to me. Later, another woman walked up and the shorthair moved up, talking with the second woman. Soon they were standing together and I was on my own. I started suspecting they were lesbians. Obviously, the shorthair is a lesbian who doesn't listen, because she had been told to stand next to me.
Soon, the 1st or 2nd AD came by and directed another woman into line, next to me. This woman was short, brown skinned, with short curly hair. I am not big on short haired women, but she had a very pretty face and nice lips. She started talking to me. It was her first time as an extra, too. Unlike the choir woman, earlier, this gal wanted to do extra work. She asked me a lot of questions about being an extra. "Just don't look at the camera," I advised, "unless they tell you to look at the camera." She thanked me for that tip. I thought she was young, maybe mid or early twenties. In the course of conversation, she, told me she was in her thirties. The more I stood there, talking to her, the more I started thinking I might like to go out with her. Then she asked me if I was married, had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend? I told her I was divorced and currently unattached. Surely, if she is asking those types of questions, she is interested, isn't she? Because she was standing on my right and was much shorter than me, and she was talking quietly, I frequently had to bend down to move my ear closer to her mouth, so I could hear her. I had a tendency to move my arm behind he back when doing so. It's not like I was trying to fondle her, or anything, just a natural movement. After several times, it started to feel like we were almost a couple. We were playing a couple in a line to go into an event. I started thinking about chatting her up. Suddenly, she said she was not a very tactile person and could I stop touching her. That's not good. I increased the distance between us. If she was trying to chat me up, that wasn't a very good way to go about it.
We finished shooting that scene and moved into another area. I drifted away from Miss touchy-feelie. All of a sudden, I spotted a familiar face. It was a model, Judith, from Uganda, who had also been an extra on that short film with me, over the summer. She had just turned up and missed the first scene. She said someone had called her that morning and asked her to come down. We were being positioned for the next scene, so she an I ended up standing next to each other. She is tall, with a great body, dark skin and dark brown hair that has been straightened. I told her what happened with Miss touchy-feelie. Judith wanted me to point Miss touchy-feelie out to her. I hesitated, thinking Judith might end up saying something to the woman, which I might feel embarrassed about. Finally, I relented. Judith and I discussed whether touchy-feelie was interested. Judith said she might have been, or might not have been. Inconclusive. Thanks Judith, I am no better off than I was without your input.
We were given a break while the crew got set up for the next scene. I sat back down with the two guys from the short film I had been sitting with, before. They had noticed me talking to Judith. They made admiring comments about her, also commenting on how dark she was. They speculated that she might be African. I said, "She's from Uganda, for Pete's sake, of course she's African." I saw the production assistant approaching Judith. I told the guys that Judith probably had no idea people were being asked to strip. "Watch," I said. Sure enough, Judith's jaw dropped. Now she knows.
Back downstairs to shoot the scene. I pointed out the short haired butchy woman and her longer haired companion, who was also dressed a bit boyishly. "I think they're lesbians," I said.
"I don't think so," Judith replied.
"Come on! Look how butch they look," I argued. "So, you didn't know they want people to strip, did you?"
"No," Judith repied.
"You going to?"
"No way!" Judith seemed adamant about ruling that out.
"Come on, be a sport. It will be fun," I tried to sound persuasive. Judith just gave me a look that indicated I wasn't succeeding. We were shooting the scene where people were supposed to strip off, for the first time. Initially, the camera would shoot us from behind. I was dressed in a suit and a shirt, with an undershirt, as they had advised us to dress in layers. I decided that I would take off my jacket and shirt, but that's it. I wasn't being paid enough to show my bits. The star of the film was stripping completely. None of the other principles were stripping, just the star. One of the principle females was this gorgeous, olive skinned woman, with long, brown hair. Judith admired her shoes, saying they were great heels. I looked at them. Red pumps. I agreed with Judith, the shoes were nice. It's good when you can agree fashions with a model. I asked Judith's opinion of the woman's dress. Although it fit her lovely, slimish form quite nicely, I thought the colors were awful and it looked cheap. Judith didn't agree. Later, the star commented that the female principle's dress looked like something off the rack at an inexpensive store. See? I'm not the only one who thought it looked cheap.
We did several takes of this scene. Some of the men striped completely naked. No woman did, but several took of tops down to bras. One woman went completely topless. Hey, it was the long haired butch woman. Her short haired companion only went down to bra. I indicated the to Judith and said, "see, the lesbians are going for it." While I was watching, they started cuddling each other. "See, Judith? I told you they were lesbians."
"Maybe it's just a friendly cuddle," Judith said.
"That's no friendly cuddle, they're going for it," I retorted. Then it was time for lunch. Reattired, we all walked around the corner to the catering truck. This was proper film catering, so we had a choice of hot meals. I got separated from Judith. After I got my food, I was looking for a seat. I found Miss touchy-feelie at a table on her own. I asked if I could join her and she agreed. We chatted during our meal. Could I overcome the earlier, tactile rebuff? Now that she had seen me talking to a model, was she more interested? Touchy-feelie admitted she doesn't read books. Not exactly an intellectual, then. Now I was starting to lose interest.
Back at the shoot, we did the stripping off scene again, this time with the camera shooting us from the front. Take after take after take. Finally, the director said it would be the final take. He came and joined us, saying he'd been challenged to join in. We did it for the last time. The director got completely naked. Oddly enough, two gay guys I had spotted earlier, with really fit bodies, didn't take off a thing. A couple of women in sexy dresses, who I thought would go for it, also didn't take off a thing. Another, very cute looking girl, with a sexy body, went completely topless and stripped down to just her panties. She had a plump ass and looked great. Judith took off her jacket. I wonder what this film is going to be like when it comes out?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Artist of the Week: Elyzium

I am very late posting my Artist of the Week, today. This is because I was out all day, doing a shoot for a film. After Evanescence, last week, I thought I would stay with a powerful rock sound, while showcasing a lesser known band. This week. my Artist of the Week is Elyzium. The band is made up of Cary Carrico, McKay Garner, and Joshua Langfield. After meeting on the internet, the three got together in California. Some of their influences include Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, and Depeche Mode. I have selected their song, "Lost," as my profile song, in honor of the fact that the TV series, "Lost," has its season finale this week, on Channel 4. Elyzium have an EP out. Check them out on Myspace, at: . Tell them I sent you.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Let's Have a Family and Get Married

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise had a baby, about four months ago. They are engaged to be married, but no wedding has happened yet. Is it just me, or does this seem backwards to anybody else? I was always under the impression that couples were supposed to get married, then have children together. Granted, my mother got pregnant before she married my father, but at least they had the wedding before I was born. It seems like more and more couples, in Britain, are having children without the benefit of being married to each other, first. Am I old fashioned because I think this isn't such a good idea?
I've been living in England for over eight years, now. What's going on back in America? Are Katie and Tom part of a growing trend, there, too, or just Hollywood exceptions? At least they plan to get married. A lot of couples, here, don't seem to have any intention of getting married. Meanwhile, homosexuals on both sides of the Atlantic have been campaigning to be able to get married. Here in England, and in Wales, same sex couples can now legally form "civil partnerships." These seem to be "marriages" in all but name. I keep hearing that this is a controversial issue, back in America. If people want to form marriages, why stop them? As long as the parties thereto are happy with the arrangement, why should anyone else use force to stop them? Rumors have it that Katie Holmes is having second thoughts about wedding Tom. Wouldn't it have been better to settle that question BEFORE having the baby?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Tomorrow night, the next installment in the "Star Wars" saga, "Episode II: Attack of the Clones," airs on Sky satellite TV. Originally released in the summer of 2002, this may have been the last film I ever went to see with my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, and her spawn. George Lucas directs again and again I found it somewhat unsatisfying. As bad as I thought the casting of Jake Lloyd, as the young Anakin Skywalker, was in "The Phantom Menace," Lucas seems to be trying to outdo that flub with Hayden Christensen as the grown up Anakin. His acting just seems awful.
In contrast, Ewan McGregor seems to be growing nicely into his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi. While the original "Star Wars" films took unknowns and turned them into gems, the second trilogy doesn't achieve that. McGregor was already a big star before being cast in this role. More and more big Hollywood names seem to want to get into the act, with Jimmy Smits joining the cast and Christopher Lee, as the absurdly named, Count Dooku. We also are treated to the origins of Bobba Fett and meet his father, Jango Fett, but Jango is dispatched even more quickly than Bobba Fett was, in the original trilogy. Another interesting character wasted.
Still, the special effects are top notch. Finally, some battle droids who at least look menacing. The final big battle scene is spectacular. If anything, I fault it, slightly, as being too visually busy. There is simply too much happening on screen, at times, for the human eye to take in at once. For the first time, we get to see Yoda fight in a light saber battle as a Jedi. Many viewers loved that scene, although I thought it looked a bit silly. I much prefer the battle with Darth Maul in "Episode I." Although this film has more action than "Episode I," I think "Episode I" had a better storyline. Still, a mediocre "Star Wars" film is still much better than the majority of films in existence, so I shall be watching again, tomorrow night.

Looks Like I Am Off Today

The work I originally had lined up for today has been cancelled, so it looks like I am off. In a way, this is good, as I feel like being off. But I need the money and it would have paid me well, so that's not good. When I don't have to work, I like to sleep late in the morning, as I stay up very late at night. One of my two housemates, S1, has a child by some girl he's not married to. S1 usually works nights, but was off last night. He had the S child stay over. Now it's up and making noises I am not enjoying. It's like a toddler or something. It has leaned to speak a few rudimentary words and started yelling "daddy" early this morning. Subsequently, it started playing some flute toy S1 has provided it.
I got up early because I received a text from my "handler" at the temp agency. He was trying to schedule me for work, next week. I needed to let him know I am tentatively scheduled to shoot a TV show on Wednesday. It's so hectic trying to co-ordinate acting work with temping in between. I need a butler, but can't afford one. The production company who I am doing the TV episode for sometimes changes the shooting days at the last minute. The last time we were shooting, I booked myself off with the temp agency for a Friday, only to have the production people change the shoot to Saturday, at the last minute. By then, it was too late to let the agency know I was available and I missed out on a half day of work. It would be so nice to get to the point where I get enough entertainment work that I can stop temping. I meant to just call my "handler," then go back to sleep. Of course, I signed on the internet to check my email and Myspace messages. Then the S child started making noises. I've been up for almost two hours, now. Usually, S1 takes the S child out for the day. It's raining. I hope this doesn't mean it will be here all day, blowing that bloody flute

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ofcom Get One Right

This week, it's been announced that Ofcom has cleared UK reality TV show, "Big Brother,"of any wrong doing after investigating the 270 odd complaints received over this year's series. . Among the complaints, some people complained that the producers were using winner Pete's Tourettes for entertainment. What is wrong with these people? I met Pete, when I auditioned for the show, this year. He was well up for it He knew what he was doing. Why shouldn't he be able to participate? Heck, he won!
I don't have much time for useless "government" agencies, like Ofcom, but I must say they made the right call, in this case, which surprises me, as I don't have any faith in government weenies. How much must not be going in someone's life for that person to complain to Ofcom about a TV show? If you don't like it, change the channel, or turn the TV off. You want government to change TV to suit you? I didn't like who won "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" Should I complain to Ofcom and have them change the outcome? I wanted the foreign girl to win. I didn't like how Billy behaved on "Eastenders," tonight, should I ask Ofcom to make the BBC change it? I don't like that Darth Chris has ruined the Opal Bonfante show, but you don't see me complaining to Ofcom about it do you? I might organize a protest, burn effigies of Darth Chris, and get the world's women to refuse to sleep with him, but I would never complain to some "government" agency.
Speaking of "Big Brother" and refusing to sleep with someone, the good news about "Big Brother" being cleared is balanced against the sad news that Pete has dumped Nikki. I am not surprised, as I never thought Nikki was Pete's type. Still, I can't help feeling sorry for the poor little blond, tantrum princess. An ex-boyfriend of hers claims she has an insatiable sexual appetite and that it was probably too much for Pete to handle. If she has an insatiable sexual appetite, she should be going out with me. The Black Queen said sex was all I was good for. Opal Bonfante has described my voice as, "overtly sexual." I don't know if I could put up with Nikki's tantrums, though.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Not Talking to Iain Lee and Big L News

This afternoon, I called Iain Lee's "3 and 1/2 Hour, 3 to 6:30, Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show," on LBC 97.3, London (Sky Channel 0177 or via the net at: ) Iain was talking about the Scissor Sisters. They have been receiving a lot of attention in the UK media, recently. Iain said they are rubbish. I think they are okay, but I agree that all the hype seems unwarranted. I wanted to tell Iain about what James Max was up to, this past Sunday. James had been criticizing my choice of Evanescence as my "Artist of the Week," this week. He then went on to choose Scissor Sisters as the top of his Top Five, and play one of their songs. James was part of the Scissor Sisters hype, this week. Agent Chris, Iain's producer, said he'd try to call me back.
As Iain's show progressed, he started saying he was going to do a listeners calendar and people could call in and ask to be a month. As time went by, Iain noted that few men were calling in for the calendar. Mostly, it was women. I wanted to be July, as it's my favorite month. Iain also said he finds women with pointed ears attractive. I have said the same thing, over the years. Kirsty Allie, in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," the Romulan woman in "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," Kim Cattrall, in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." Liv Tyler in "The Lord of the Rings" films. Jolene Blalock in "Enterprise," oh yeah!
Suspecting that Chris wasn't going to call back, I tried calling again, but got a busy signal. I hit redial, over and over. Busy, busy, busy. Then it rang, but rang off unanswered. Chris didn't know that I also wanted to talk about women with pointed ears, or be July in the calendar, as these subjects had come up after my original call to him. As it got later and later, July ended up the last month unclaimed. I couldn't get through and Chris didn't call me back. Finally, someone else claimed July and it was Triple M. Too late. Another radio opportunity gone.
Speaking of radio opportunities missed, tonight I learned that the Big L's transmitter is back online, finally. I am finally able to pick up the station in my car and on radios in the house. Sadly, the only show on the Big L 1395 AM, that I thought worth listening to, has been ruined. Opal Bonfante's "London Calling" show has been fouled by new management. As I have written already this week, Opal's evil new boss, Chris, has forbidden her from taking calls from listeners, on air, anymore. Her interactions with the listeners were the most entertaining aspect of the show. It's as if evil Chris has kidnapped Opal and replaced her with a drone. After Opal goes off, the station is automated, so maybe he likes having a robotic Opal to replace the hot and funny Opal we all love. Opal hates it when I talk about Opal Drone, as she thinks it's a bad reflection on her. Let me make it clear that none of this is Opal's fault. It's all the fault of evil Chris. Contact details for the station can be found at . Flood evil Chris with letters and emails, complaining about the banning of callers. As it stands, you won't be able to hear Opal and I joking about anymore. Unless some clever other station gives us both a show together. I suspect that this evil Chris just wanted to put his fingerprints on Opal's show, as the new boss. Radio management routinely have no clue how to improve programming. As often as not they make changes that make programs worse, rather than better. Oh the thought of evil Chris putting his fingers on the lovely Opal is sickening. Get rid of Opal Drone and free the real Opal Bonfante!

Strictly Emma Bunton

It seems that former Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, will be one of several celebrity contestants on the new series of "Strictly Come Dancing." The show will air on BBC1 starting next month. Known as "Baby Spice," during her Spice Girls days, Emma is all grown up, now. In case you didn't know, she is my favorite ex-Spice Girl and no, it's not because my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, is particularly jealous of blondes. I wasn't too impressed with her when the Spice Girls were still together. The whole "Baby" image didn't appeal to me, as an older man...too juvenile. However, since she started her solo career, I think adding a few years has caused her to blossom into a stunning beauty.
I love her music, as well. I bought her last album, "Free Me," and that's saying a lot, because I am very tight (cheap?), so I don't buy many CDs. The album did well, here, in the UK, but apparently not so well in the US. I personally took a copy with me on my last trip to America, in 2004, playing it for friends. What is wrong with folks in America? Surely, you're not all only into nu metal, rap, and hip hop? You can check her out on Myspace at: .
The "Daily Mail" showbusiness reporter, Clemmie Moodie, suggests that doing "Strictly Come Dancing" will help sales of Emma's next album, which is rumored to be due out soon. If the show isn't aired in America, it won't help Emma's sales there. Maybe an endorsement from me will. I wonder if she hates being referred to as Baby Spice, now? Every article I ever see of her mentions her old Spice Girls nickname. I am tempted to watch this "Strictly Come Dancing," just because of her, and...oh say it can't be true...maybe even vote for her to win. And I never vote in these phone in reality shows. Well, all I will say is, "Maybe," which happens to be the title of my favorite single of hers. To date, Emma hasn't been in touch to garner my support for her new album. Perhaps, closer to the release date.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Impotent Fertility Clinics?

It has come to my attention (in other words, I read it in the paper) that there is a crisis at British fertility clinics. The number of sperm donors has fallen dramatically after changes in the law governing these matters. One of the two significant changes is that donors are no longer anonymous. Thus, children now born from donated sperm have the right to contact the donor, once they reach 18. The other significant change is that donors are no longer paid for their services. The combination of these factors has resulted in over two-thirds of fertility clinics in Britain having no sperm. Personally, I am not bothered about a child contacting me 18 years hence. Big deal. But not being paid would definitely put me off. Show me the money.
When I heard this, I thought of the song from "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life," "Every Sperm is Sacred." I wonder what Sperm whales call us humans? Have I included enough gratuitous uses of the word, "sperm," in this blog? Well, it was a shot in the dark. I thought I would rise to the occasion. I think I have shot my load of tasteless witticisms on this subject.

Monday, September 18, 2006

London Isn't Calling Anymore

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time, now, will know that I routinely write about London radio presenter, Opal Bonfante and her show, "London Calling," which airs on the Big L 1395 AM. Not only have I called in regularly, I have urged you all to listen and contact Opal yourselves. I think Opal is very entertaining and one of the best radio presenters in the world. Certainly the best female radio DJ I think I have ever heard. Thus, it is with great sadness that I must announce that Opal isn't taking calls anymore, on her show.
I found out tonight, that her new boss has insisted that she stop taking calls. My experience of radio management, on both sides of the Atlantic, is that they haven't a clue what makes good radio programming. Howard Stern used to complain about this and I experienced similar problems when I was involved in radio, back in America. Here, in Britain, I see the same sorts of bad decisions, vis a vis programming, coming from management. Opal Bonfante's "London Calling Show" was...notice I say was...the best thing on the Big L. I'll go further, it was one of the best programs that play music on UK radio. The thing that made it so good was Opal's humorous interactions with listeners who called in. Now this new manager has killed the best part of the show. Without the callers, the show is just another music show. What's worse, the Big L's transmitter hasn't been working for months. So to listen, you have to really make an effort. I tune them in on Sky. Others listen over the internet. Let's face it, with iPods, MP3s, and CD players, who needs to listen to a music show on the radio? I can play my own music on my computer. I tuned in to hear Opal and her humorous interactions with the callers. That is something I can't get anywhere else. That is what motivated me to go through the ordeal of finding a way to hear the Big L and tune out from TV, and other stations, to hear her. If she's now going to just be a clone of the dozens of other stations on offer, why should I bother? Instead of stopping Opal from taking calls, he should be encouraging the rest of the station's presenters to start taking them.
I am sorry for Opal, because I really enjoyed her. I have already seen another listener posting on the Big L forum that he won't be listening anymore. I know some of you have started listening to Opal's show because you enjoyed hearing me on the air with her. Well, that will be no more, it seems. I suggest that you write to the Big L's management and complain about the gutting of the "London Calling" show. Or call the station during business hours and register your complaint. In writing is better. Hopefully, Opal will get a job at a better station, where her creative talents are given room to blossom. Maybe, if people stop listening, management will get the message.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

In All Fairness to James Max

Tonight, I called James Max, on LBC 97.3, London (Sky Channel 0177, or ). He does a show on that station, weekly, from 7PM to 9PM, Sunday evenings. I call every week and lately, I have complained at how briefly James has had me on air, over the past three weeks. Just to show that I am fair in my criticisms, tonight, James made much better use of my call than has been he habit, recently. For a change, he tried to engage me in debate and held me on while he took another caller. We had a little three way debate going.
Okay, I still don't agree with a lot of what James says. He has started complaining about the artists I have selected for my Artist of the Week. More fundamentally, he claims my blogs use too many words. I think James uses too many cliches. I would stand my writing up to his any day. Anyway, James managed to skillfully work in a plug for my blog, while complaining about it. If you didn't listen to his show, you missed it all. You can find James on Myspace, as well, at: He wants more friends, so add him, it's really him and not someone just pretending to be him. He also responds to comments. Tell him I sent you. Well done, James!

Artist of the Week: Evanescence

This week, my artist of the week is Evanescence. They are from Little Rock, Arkansas, in the USA. Finally, something good from Arkansas, to balance out giving the world the Clintons. I loved their first major label album, "Fallen." It's been in my car 6 stack CD changer for ages. Their new CD, "The Open Door," is due out shortly, on October 3rd. Even though my favorite song by the band is "Everybody's Fool," I have selected "Call Me When You're Sober" as my profile song for the week, which is the first single from the new album.
The band's style of music has sometimes been described as gothic metal, alternative rock, nu metal, piano rock, arena rock, and wagnerian rock. When I first heard them, my first thought was that they sounded like Linkin Park with a female singer. Not only do I find Amy Lee to be very beautiful, with stunning eyes, I think her singing is fabulous. She has such a strong sound. Given how much I liked their "Fallen," I was concerned that the new album would not be able to match the high standard previously set. I'm quite pleased with the first single, "Call Me When You're Sober" and I hope the rest of "The Open Door" is similarly pleasing. If you haven't already added them as friends on Myspace, you can check them out and add them, at: . Do leave them a comment and tell them I sent you.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Challenge Johnny Vegas

Last night was the third show of the new Charlotte Church TV series, creatively called, "The Charlotte Church Show." It seems like her guests are improving a bit. This time, she had Johnny Vegas, Nelly Furtado, and Will Smith. I was in the kitchen, getting my dinner, when I heard it announced that Will Smith was a guest. The audience cheered and I thought, "oh my," that's a big star. When I sat down and watched it, I discovered that it wasn't THAT Will Smith, but a comedian I have never heard of. Still, Johnny Vegas and Nelly Furtado seem like a step up.
I didn't used to like Johnny Vegas, very much. However, I thought his appearance on Charlotte's show, last night was excellent. I found his interview with Charlotte to be the best she has done, yet. Johnny kind of ran away with the show a bit and he had me laughing several times. For the first time, Charlotte ditched the "Wales vs the rest of the world," bit. She still did the hidden camera sketch and this time, instead of disguising herself, she entered herself in a celebrity look-alike competition as someone doing a look-alike of Charlotte Church. I found that amusing. I also discovered that Nelly Furtado has small breasts. She's still pretty, though and she did a duet with Charlotte to end the show.
My only objection to Johnny Vegas was that he was introduced as, "pound for pound, Britain's funniest man." I think I outweigh him by a pound, so that would make me, pound for pound, Britain's funniest man. Oddly, he looks bigger than me, which means he's either short, or he lies about his weight. In any case, I think we need to get to the bottom of this. Therefore, I hereby issue a challenge to Mr. Vegas. I think he and I should appear on TV for a weigh-off and see who is, pound for pound, Britain's funniest man. Is Johnny a big enough man to accept my challenge?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Tomorrow night, Sky airs the first of the second "Star Wars" trilogies, "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace." Originally released in 1999, sixteen years after the previous "Star Wars" film, I first went to see it the Friday of the week it opened. I went to see it while I was married, so I was accompanied by my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, and my two evil ex-step-children. This was before they turned to the dark side, so they weren't acting evil, back then. I was looking forward to this film and carried on a tradition I started with "The Empire Strikes Back," of playing the soundtrack in the car, on the way to the cinema. The Black Queen didn't appreciate this very much, but the kids were happy with it. With so much expectation, I suppose it should be no surprise that I was disappointed.
Overall, I thought the film seemed more kiddish than the previous "Star Wars" films. The number one flaw seems to be the almost universally disliked character, Jar-Jar Binks. He's a bumbling idiot and is supposed to provide comic relief, but seems to manage more annoyance than relief. For some strange reason, Lucas decided to equip Jar-Jar with, what sounds like, a Caribbean accent. Of course, the Black Queen found Jar-Jar amusing and I was subjected to her and the children uttering his infamous catch-phrase, "how rude," for weeks afterward.
Additional shortcomings of the film include the killing off of Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul, the two most interesting characters. Darth Maul, in particular, has too small a role and had the makings of a bad guy almost as enthralling as Darth Vader. The casting of Jake Lloyd, as the young Anakin Skywalker. I don't know how this decision was made, but his acting seems awful. In all fairness, this might be due to George Lucas, himself. For this film, Lucas was back in the director's chair and he has a reputation for giving very little direction to his human actors. Perhaps, a director who is stronger working with actors would have coaxed a better performance out of young Jake. Child actors are tough to work with. It's the rare one who gives a great, believable performance. Another thing I didn't like was the battle droids. They seemed flimsy and un-threatening. My final disappointment was with the plotline that climaxes with a big grey thing in the sky that must be blown up. This is the same formula as we had in the original "Star Wars" film, "Episode IV," and in "Episode VI." In other words, it seemed too similar to the Death Star. Been there, done that.
Okay, enough of what I didn't like, let's look at what I did like. The special effects are great. As I hinted at, above, Darth Maul was a great bad guy, the best of the second trilogy. Liam Neeson is great as Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn...a Jedi who doesn't obey the Jedi Council. Ewan McGregor is a credible young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Natalie Portman does a good Queen Amidala. The John Williams soundtrack is great, and lives up to his previous "Star Wars" efforts. The pod race scene is high quality. The light saber battle, between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan versus Darth Maul, is fantastic
I ended up going to see "Phantom Menace" a second time, with a friend from work, and I liked it better on the second viewing. Despite my criticisms, it's still a pretty good film. In my opinion, it's not the worst of the six "Star Wars" films, to date. I shall watch it again, tomorrow night, as it's been a while since I have seen it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Three Shows I Saw For the First Time

Last night, I saw the new "Princess Nikki," for the first time. It's the series starring Nikki, from this year's "Big Brother," series 7 (UK), where they show her trying out working in various jobs. I didn't have high hopes for the show. Yes, I am still a little bitter over not getting selected, myself, for "Big Brother," this year and I wanted to be given a series from having been on the show, but that wasn't it. I found Nikki entertaining when I watched her on "Big Brother," before she was evicted. After she was evicted and then put back in, I thought the magic had gone. Once she learned, in the outside world, what people liked about her, she seemed to be trying too hard to be that person, rather than just being herself. I was worried that this "Princess Nikki" series would suffer from that. I must say I was pleasantly surprised and I did laugh out loud, several times. It airs on E4, so you need some form of digital TV to see it. I will watch it a again.
One of the things I like about Iain Lee (who does "The 3 and 1/2 hour, 3 to 6:30, Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show," on LBC 97.3, London, Sky Channel 0177 and on the net at: , and presents "Celebrity Soup," on E! Entertainment Channel), is that he shares my taste in a lot of television. Because of that, I took note when I heard Iain talking about "The Dragons' Den," on his radio show. I heard Iain say, on several occasions, that the BBC show was good. Tonight, when I saw it on the menu, I decided to try it out. The show features a group of five successful business people, who hear pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors, seeking investment in their business ideas and products. The "Dragons" then say whether they are willing to invest or not. I found the critiques from the "Dragons" to be very entertaining. Iain has been slating the looks of the female Dragon, Deborah Meaden. Iain usually says he goes for the older woman. I don't actually know how old she is, but she looks older than Iain. He's 33. I find her attractive. I would, but then I am 14 years older than Iain. I have the ability to see beauty in a wider range of women.
Finally, probably because I have been doing a bit of extra work, lately, I keep having people say, "have you seen 'Extras?' " "Extras" is a comedy series with Ricky Gervais. This is the second series of "Extras," but I never saw any of the first series. Ricky scored big with his "The Office," program. When I saw "Extras" was on, tonight, after "Dragons' Den," I decided to give it a try. I had heard some interviews with Ricky, promoting the show. He said Orlando Bloom was funny playing himself. The promotions worked and sparked enough interest in me for me to tune in. Orlando was funny, acting like he was obsessed with being perceived as a sex symbol and knocking "Pirates of the Caribbean" co-star, Johnny Depp. I will watch more of this series, as well. I think working as an extra, myself, definitely caused me to relate to the show.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Like It

Last night, I called Opal Bonfante, while she was doing her "London Calling" show, on the Big L 1395AM, London (Sky Channel 0190 or via the net, at: ). I guess, as it was after midnight, it was technically this morning, but I hadn't been to bed yet, so it felt like last night, to me. Opal's show airs Monday through Thursdays, 10PM to 2AM. Before I called, I had watched some music videos. One catchy tune which I happen to like is, "I Like It," by Narcotic Thrust and I saw this video. The tune was going around in my head.
Inevitably, Opal and I end up talking about music. She always offers me a request of a song, but often doesn't have what I want. She then subjects me to something that seems calculated to drive me mad. So, as a shot in the dark, I asked Opal if she had "I Like It." Of course, the answer was no. She had never even heard of it. She made a comment that she has made before, suggesting that I am making up the song. It seems that the Big L hasn't sprung for Sky at the presenters house, yet, so she is terribly unaware of the videos in current rotation, here in the UK. I have noticed that the video channels seem to break a lot of new songs earlier than the radio stations get them.
Well, me being me, I had just about had enough of Opal questioning my veracity, so I surfed the net and found that one can see the "I Like It" video online. So I sent her the link, to prove it is a real song. The video is comprised of seven pretty girls, dressed in black mini skirts, black crop tops, and holding blood red pom-poms. The kind of look like cheerleaders, but then again, not. Someone decide to attire them in white panties, instead of black ones, which we keep getting flashes of. They dance to the song, shaking their pom-poms. The choreography is very simple, but it works on some level. The colors are similar to the color combination used by Dannii Minogue, in her "So Under Pressure" video. Opal watched the video. When I asked her what she thought of it, she said it appeals to her lesbian tendencies which she doesn't have. I'm not sure whether that means she likes it, or she doesn't. You can see it yourself, at:
I like it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My UK Television Debut

Tonight, after catching "Eastenders," I was looking over the offerings on the menu for my Sky satellite TV service, when I saw "Diet Doctors" airing at 8PM, on terrestrial Channel Five. Back in July, I taped a segment for "Diet Doctors," which they said would air sometime in September. Could this be it? I put the show on and finished making my stir fry dinner. There are these two little doors that open to provide a serving hatch between the kitchen and the lounge/living room. I usually keep them open, because if I stand in the right position, I can see the TV through the hatch, from the kitchen. This helps a lot when I am cooking. Tonight, I kept alternating my attention between the beef I was stir frying and the television.
This episode of "Diet Doctors" was called, "Top to Toe." It was sounding like it could be the one I did. Suddenly, there I was. When you tape something, or do a film, you never know if you are going to make the final edit. Oh, I think I looked good. I had hesitated about doing the show, as it required coming up with some part of my body to say I disliked. Focusing on one's perceived bad points is not a natural action for an actor. We are usually trying to do the opposite. What finally swayed me to do it was the money. They were paying and I was desperate. Besides, I figured, it's Channel Five, so no one will see it anyway. Now that I have seen it, I think I looked good and I wish everyone had seen it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Commemoration

I try to write at least one blog every day. Given that today is the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I wanted to acknowledge that in some way. I do try to keep this blog light-hearted, generally, so I thought a lot about what to say that wouldn't be too down, yet would be fitting to the day. I had a good friend who died at the World Trade Center, five years ago. So, I have decided that the best way, for me, to commemorate that day is to write about him. Not to focus on how he died, but to share a bit about how he lived and how I experienced him.
His name was John Perry. I met him sometime in the early 1990s. I don't remember the exact date. In 1990, I became a political activist with the Libertarian Party, in New York City. This led me to attend a lot of libertarian and Objectivist oriented events. That is how I found John. I started seeing him, here and there, at various events I attended. John stood out as he was very tall. He looked of a "mixed race" ancestry, with medium brown hair and eyes, and light skin, somewhat similar to mine. I don't know if that's one of the reasons we became friends, although years later, we would occasionally pretend to be brothers.
John always seemed to have a smile on his face and was friendly,and outgoing. So, of course, it was he who first spoke to me. In 1993, while I was the Libertarian candidate for Mayor of New York City, I was welcomed as a guest to a libertarian and objectivist oriented club, hosted in the Manhattan offices of an investment fund manager. After addressing a meeting, as a candidate, I was so impressed with the group that I became a member and regular attendee. Independently, John came to also be a regular attendee. It was there that our friendship seemed to develop. I learned that John worked as a New York City Police Officer.
As an advocate of liberty, I have a tendency to look upon police with suspicion. John was one of those rare exceptions and he became the one policeman whom I was happiest to call a friend. John also was a lover of liberty. I remember, one day, being in Central Park on some special day...a holiday of some sort. I ran into John, who was working in uniform that day. He was sitting on a police scooter and we had a nice chat. While we were talking, John caught the whiff of marijuana smoke in the air. John figured out from whom in the crowd the smoke was coming from. He walked over to the individuals involved, with a big smile, and suggested that it wasn't a good idea to do that in front of a uniformed police officer. That's it, just a friendly word. He shared the same view as I had, that people should be able to ingest whatever substances they choose in their own bodies.
John was the person who first got me involved in acting professionally. He had been doing extra work and suggested that I give it a try. He got me signed on with his agent, in New York, and helped me get my first work, in the filming of "Godzilla," in 1996. He had an apartment in Manhattan, but his family lived out on Long Island, a little further east than where I lived. Sometimes, he would ask me to give him a ride out to his family's house, after one of the club meetings. One time, when I had come by motorcycle, he asked me for a ride. I pointed out that I was on motorcycle and I only had one helmet. John's hair was a bit long at the time, in the style of an afro. He suggested that, in the dark, no one would notice his afro wasn't a helmet. He promised that if we ran into any trouble from the cops, he would be able to get me out of it, as he was a police officer. Sounded good to me! I rode with him on the back of my bike, to his parents house; he minus a helmet. We were not stopped.
On another occasion, I was giving him a ride to his apartment in Manhattan, in a car this time. Suddenly, he pulled out his pistol and said, "hold this." So I am heading up 8th Avenue with his pistol in one hand and a puzzled look on my face. He laughed heartily and said, "you just committed a felony." I returned his gun to him and he put it back in his holster, amused with himself. John shared my view that humans have an inalienable "right" to bear arms. At one point, he got it into his head to move to France and join the Foreign Legion. He tried to convince me to go with him, but I kept coming up with objections. In the end, neither of us did that. Then I met my wife. While she and I were just dating, and I was still living in New York, and her in England, she was over for a visit and I took her to the club. John was there and I introduced him to her. Ironically, I ended up moving to Europe, to be with her. She ended up being a stronger draw than the French Foreign Legion. After I moved to England, John used to keep in touch with me via email. That was how I first found out that John was missing, after September 11th, when a friend of his used his email account to contact people in his email address book.
These are the things I remember about John Perry. If I could ever choose to have a brother, he's the person who was most like the kind of brother I would want to have. I shall always have these fond memories of him, so long as I don't suffer from Alzheimer's, or some other debilitation that causes me to loose my memory. While I don't only think about him on this day, no September 11th shall henceforth pass without me thinking of him.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Artist of the Week: Orson

This week, my Artist of the Week is Orson. Seeing them, Friday night, on Charlotte Church's Show, performing their hit song, "No Tomorrow," with Charlotte, put them in the front of my mind. Although originally from Los Angeles, the band have found the key to their success here, in England. Last October, they flew to Manchester to play at In The City. In November, they were signed by Mercury Records, then toured with Duran Duran in the UK. Their first single, "No Tomorrow," which is the featured song on my profile, this week, topped the UK charts within three weeks of entry.
This past May, their debut album, "Bright Idea," was released and their second single is the title track. The album was recorded in Hollywood and financed by the band, themselves, at a cost of just $5,000. They have been described as "the missing link between The Rolling Stones and Scissor Sisters." You can check them out on Myspace, at: If you add them as friends, tell them I sent you. Ironically, all five members of the band have the same birthday, July 4th, the day after mine. How cool is that? Anyway, I came first.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

First There Was Multitasking, Now Multi-dating

Apparently, it's the new "craze" from America and is due to spread to London. It's called "muti-dating." Multi-dating is where single people date as many different people as they like, just not on the same night. This continues until two people expressly decide that they are boyfriend and girlfriend. In an article in Thursday's edition of "thelondonpaper" ( ), under-employed celebrity, Denise Van Outen, is said to have tried it. In the same article, a so called, "Relationship Expert," Kate Taylor, is quoted saying, "I really hope multi-dating is something that takes off here." If you are so keen, Kate, you can start with me. Pick me up at 7:30.
Female support for such a concept surprises me. In my experience, women have been the ones who, traditionally, have the hardest time handling a non-exclusive relationship. I suspect that many men have been "multi-dating" for years, they just didn't have a catchy name for it. They also kept it secret, because their girlfriends would blow a fuse if they found out. With "multi-dating," it's supposedly okay, because it's all out in the open.
I'm having hard enough time just single-dating. I haven't been on a date in eight months. My friend Tom, the Injured Cyclist (, offered to introduce me to a woman he knows. I come to find out she's married. What good is that? Maybe his injured leg had him off blance, or something.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How Many Things Can You Cram Into One Day?

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I was scheduled to tape a segment for a TV show. I can now reveal that it was for an episode of, "Seconds From Disaster." I had a call time of 8:45AM at the location for the shoot. As the pay was minimal, I wanted to travel by the least expensive means I could. As he doesn't have a car, my friend, Tom, the Injured Cyclist ( let's me park at his flat for free. The only problem is that he lives on the opposite side of the London Congestion Charge Zone as I do. The Charge comes into effect at 7AM, so I needed to be through the zone and out, before 7AM.
I planned on departing at 5:30AM, from beautiful Bracknell. You know me, so of course I didn't make that. I managed to pull off at 5:50AM. That still gave me just over an hour to reach and transit the Zone. It was going to be close. My route took me northeast on the M3 to the M25, clockwise. From there, onto the M4 east, which turns into the A4. Right at Earl's Court Road, heading south, toward the Thames, then east again along the Thames embankment, till I reach Tower Bridge. South across Tower Bridge, out of the Zone, then east to Surrey Quays. At this early hour, traffic was somewhat light, but there were still a lot of cars out already. As it got later and later, more traffic started filling the streets. Along the Thames Embankment, the going was slowing. So many of these numpties just weren't in a hurry. 6:45AM and I'm still in the Zone. Where is Tower Bridge? Finally, I am upon it, with less than ten minutes to go, I am out of the Zone.
Upon arrival at Tom's flat, there's no place to park. Tom's ex, Katie, has been staying with Tom for a few weeks, and she has parked in the lot. Usually, there are plenty of spaces, but all but two are full and the two that aren't, people have parked so close to them that it's impossible to get my car into them. I decide to pull around the block and wait. Hopefully, someone will leave for work, or something, and a space will open up. As I slowly drive to the end of the street I notice a side street with no signs prohibiting on the street parking. A couple of vehicles are already parked there and there's room for me, too.
After parking, I set off for Canada Water Underground Station on foot. The last time I tried to walk from Tom's to there, I got lost and ended up taking a bus. Then I had a Travelcard, but I don't have one yet, so I would like to walk all the way. I thought I realized where I went wrong previously and set off in a different direction, this time. Soon, I saw a sign that says Canada Water is 11 minutes walk further. I still have plenty of time, as it's only a few minutes past 7AM and I don't need to be on location till 8:45. I begin to feel an urge to pee. I start looking for an alley, some big tree, or some other hidden corner where I can relieve myself. As soon as I think I have found one, I see another commuter walking to work. I keep moving. The bloody toilets in the Underground Stations you have to pay to use. Pay toilets went out of fashion in New York decades ago. I don't know if I can hold it till I get all the way to the location.
Finally, I get to Surrey Quays Shopping Centre. There is a twenty-four hour Tesco there and Tesco has customer toilets. I go inside and look for them. Hey, I'm a Tesco Clubcard holder, so they won't turn me away. Inside, I don't see the toilets. They are not in the same location as my local Tesco stores back in Bracknell. I start a sector search and end up walking around the whole store, until, finally, I find them. Relieved, I head to the men's room, only to find the doorway blocked by a dude with a mop. Why is someone always cleaning the loo when I need to use it? Slowly, he indicates the special toilet with baby changing facilities and tells me to use that one. But I don't have a baby! Screw it! In I go.
What a relief! I wash my hands and go out again. Walking to the door, I try not to make it look obvious that I have only come in the store to use their toilet and have bought nothing. The guard looks at me, suspiciously. To hell with him, I have a Clubcard. Outside, I head on to Canada Water. At the station, I look at the ticket machines. A one way ticket is £3! Bloody hell! I can't buy an off-peak Travelcard before 9:30AM. The machines don't indicate a peak Travelcard. Surely, they should have a peak Travelcard? I don't have that much in change anyway, so I join the line for the manned ticket window. There are a gang of school children at the window, slowly conducting their business, oblivious to the line of people behind them, who need to get to places to earn a living. Ahead of me is a metrosexual looking construction worker, who lets another kid cut the line. Come on, man...some of us have places to go. Finally, it's my turn and I discover that, indeed, there is a peak time Travelcard available for £6.20. I purchase one and head to the platform for the Jubilee Line. All around me are signs pushing the Oyster Card, prepay system, but I don't like it, as it records your movements. Besides, I don't come into London often enough to warrant the investment.
The location is in Kentish Town, so I connect with the Northern Line to get there. This is the third production company I have had dealings with in Kentish Town. What is it with that place? I reach Kentish Town at 8AM. I don't have to be at the location for fourty-five minutes, yet. It's a nice morning, so I sit on a vacant bench near the corner and read a paper. At 8:25, I decide I had better start walking, as I don't know exactly how far it is to the location. I follow the instructions on my email and, soon, I am there. Inside, I am led to a room where one other extra is there already, plus a gorgeous production assistant. Free food and drink is on offer, so I tuck in. Slowly, more and more extras, all male, turn up. We sit around enjoying the food and talking.
Eventually, the director comes in and introduces himself. He takes us on set to block out positions for us relative to the cameras. I am the only American there, so they say I may get some spoken lines, as the scene we are taping is set in America. There's a Canadian guy as well and who can tell the difference between a Canadian and a midwestern American? At first, the director plans to use me as the facility manger, but later changes his mind. He and the second camera operator decide to use me as a radar operator, because they like they way the light from the radar console reflects off my glasses. Initially, I feel a bit let down, because I was getting into the idea of being the boss of the facility, but at least they have given me a piece of equipment to play with. I am instructed to randomly flick switches and turn knobs on it, to look like I am operating it. I love flicking switches! Something I can get into. We rehearse a few times, then begin shooting. Take after take. Different camera angles. The day wares on. Eventually, we have lunch. I fill up on as many of the sandwiches and crisps as I can.
After lunch, we are back at it. I am feeling tired, as I only had two and one-half hours of sleep. For one shot, I am sat at a desk with my back to the cameras. I sit there and veg. My eyes are feeling heavy. A few takes and we are moved around again for another shot. I am back to facing the cameras, so I wake myself up. Finally, it's a warp. I turn my mobile phone back on and find that I have a message from the producers of a new show that I auditioned for the night before. They had liked me and asked me to participate in a run-through presentation of the show for ITV execs, on Thursday at 5PM. I turned them down, as I was scheduled to work on "Seconds From Disaster" until 6PM. Besides, they weren't paying anything for doing the run-through, just a suggestion that if you do the run-through and the show is commissioned, there was a strong possibility that you would get selected for the actual show and get some money. "Seconds" was a paid gig. Sorry, money talks. When I checked my voicemail on my phone, there was a message from the producers of the run-through. They were pleading with me to reconsider and said that they would be willing to start as late as 6PM, if I could make it, and would pay my cab fare from where I was, to the location for the run-through. The message had been left between 10AM and 11AM, that morning, when my phone was switched off. I checked the time and it was 4:50PM. I called back, hoping it wasn't too late.
They still wanted me. I asked how long it would be and was told they expected to finish by 6:30PM to 7PM. I was scheduled to attend a casting call for a new game show before 8PM, so I wanted to make sure I had time to make it. I accepted. All the guys from the "Seconds" shoot were heading to localcl pub for a drink. I declined to join them, making the excuse that I had another job to go to. I didn't want to spend the money buying rounds anyway, as I hadn't been paid that much. Out on the street, I looked for a cab. I am generally not a cab person, as they are too expensive in London, but when someone else is paying, why not? Wouldn't you know it? Just when I am on the streets with money to burn, I can't find a vacant cab. I start walking toward the Underground station, hoping that I will eventually spot a cab near there. Finally, I spot one who responds to my gestures and stops for me. I give him the address and he starts off, driving quite sedately. As it's after 5PM, it's rush hour and soon, we are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Progress is painfully slow. It would have been faster on the Tube.
Eventually, after what seemed liked ages, we arrived. I buzzed the door and was greeted by one of the production staff I had met the night before. He walked me in and I found that they had begun rehearsing the run-through already. No, I wasn't too late. I missed all the rehearsal, but as I had done a couple of run-throughs the night before, as part of my audition, I was confident I could perform adequately. Then it seemed like we were waiting for the people from ITV to turn up. They had better hurry, I had a casting call to go to.
Eventually, some guy turned up and they instructed us to take our positions and begin. Halfway through, another, older guy, in a more expensive suit, turned up. Then it was over. I cornered the guy who had promised to pay my cab fare, over the phone. I had given him the receipt when I arrived, but he had said he would pay me, later. Now was later. I was ready to go. He said he had to get the money from the boss, who was in discussions with the ITV guys. I had to wait. The cab had cost £23 and I wasn't about to leave without my £23. It seemed to take ages. Finally, the boss came into the room and they provided my £23. I was off.
I now had less than an hour to make it to the casting call. I couldn't afford another cab, so I headed toward the Underground. The last Underground station I had seen, while riding in the cab, was quite far away. I just missed a bus across the street, so I started walking toward a main intersection, hoping to catch a bus there. I caught up to a line of three buses, pulled over at a stop. I jumped onto the last one, as the front two pulled off. I didn't even know where this bus was heading. Surely, it would stop at the nearest Tube station, right? Traffic still seemed heavy and painfully slow. I didn't spot a Tube station, and still we plodded on. Then I saw a sign for Liverpool Street Station, pointing off to the right, as the bus stopped. I jumped off and headed in that direction. I walked for what seemed like ages, but I ended up in Liverpool Street Train station, which has an Underground station. It had taken so long, I looked for a clock, fearing it was too late. 7:35PM, still 19 minutes left, as I caught a train on the Central Line. I needed to get to Goodge Street Station, to get to the casting call, so I rode the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road and changed there. Only one stop on the Northern Line took me to Goodge Street. I reached Goodge street at 7:50PM. If I wanted to be there before 8PM, I had nine minutes.
I found the address, but the front door was locked. I walked further along and saw someone waiting at a side entrance, which was lit. As I walked up, he was buzzed in and held the door for me. I saw signs for the casting call. Following them, I found the room it was being held in and walked in at 7:55PM. I just made it. There were half a dozen people in there. I was welcomed and told to fill out four forms. This casting call was for an odd game show, being filmed in the UK, but they only wanted Americans to participate, as it was to be shown only in America. I didn't give a damn what they did with it, I just wanted the chance to win some money, as was advertised. I was the last person they interviewed. The interviews were videotaped. During the interview, I was asked what I would do with the money if I won. "How much are we talking about?" I asked.
"$5,000," one of the interviewers replied. Shit, that's only a little over £2,500.
I said, "well, it's not enough to pay off my debts...but it can make a dent." A very small dent. What kind of tight assed show was this? They advertised themselves as the company behind "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." £2,500? Then we were finished. Outside, I called Tom on my mobile and told him where I was. He invited me around for a drink. I accepted and headed back to Goodge Street Station, into the bowls of the Earth, for the journey to Tom's and a cold beer. I wouldn't get there till after 9PM and I had been on the go since 5AM. It was a long day.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Tomorrow night, here in Britain, Sky airs "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi." This was the first "Star Wars" film to disappoint me, at all. Originally released in 1983, three years after "The Empire Strikes Back," I came out of it thinking that it hadn't lived up to the standard set by "Empire." Admittedly, "Empire" was a tough act to beat, or even match.
When George Lucas revealed he was going to make sequels, there was a time when he said that he planned to make nine films, all together: three trilogies. In an interview I read just prior to the release of "Return of the Jedi," Lucas then said he was stopping after this third film. Lucas was going through rough times in his personal life, getting divorced, for example. He sounded tired of the ordeal of doing three "Star Wars" films over the past decade. To me, the storyline of "Jedi" reflects all this. It seems like the film attempts to wind up all plot lines that were ongoing, and does so in a rushed and unsatisfactory way. I didn't like the building of a second Death Star. The Death Star had been done already, so I wanted something new. Darth Vader, who was built up into one of the strongest, most powerful villains of all time, in "Empire," is suddenly defeated quite easily. Also, there are too many cuddly teddy bear types, with the Ewoks. Their ability to defeat the technologically superior Imperial Stormtroopers stretched credibility.
In almost a complete reversal from what he did for "Empire," Lucas hired a somewhat inexperienced director, Richard Marquand, to direct "Jedi." In an interview, Marquand, a Welshman, criticized the much more senior and experienced director of "Empire," Irvin Kershner, for parts of "Empire" that I thought worked very well. His doing so did not impress me. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Marquand definitely went in a different direction.
After my initial disappointment, I watched "Return of the Jedi" again and found it more enjoyable. This happens a lot to me, with films where I have a big expectation. Once I get over my initial disappointment, I often find I like a film more on a second viewing. There are still some great elements in "Jedi." The speeder bike chase through the forest and the dogfights at the final battle around the Death Star, are two examples. The film maintains the on-screen chemistry amongst Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. Despite Lucas' claim that he wouldn't make any more "Star Wars" films, we now know that he ultimately does, doing the three prequels, recently. For all it's faults, I think "Jedi" may be better than the prequel trilogy, with the possible exception of "Episode I: the Phantom Menace." I will be comparing these two, over the next two weeks, to see if I can decide. "Return of the Jedi" is still a good film; better than the majority of stuff churned out today. I will be watching it again, tomorrow night...assuming someone doesn't take my Sky viewing card, again

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Episode II: Attack of the Crones

I had trouble getting the blogging site to work tonight, so I almost gave up. I shouldn't be up this late, as I need to be up in 2 and 1/2 hours to leave for the studio, for this TV project I am working on. Because I am filming tomorrow (really later today, because it's after midnight) and Friday, I may not get another chance to write until Friday night. I so wanted to use this title and I don't like letting my loyal readers down.
Wednesday, I was back at the golf club. This time, Mary was joined by another old crone, who was a waitress. The waitress crone fixed me with a piercing stare when I arrived at work. She probably thought I looked familiar, but couldn't quite place me. I have worked with her before, but not for some time. Mary left me alone, today, letting me work without bothering me. She even offered me some of the staff lunch before she threw it away, which was useful. I did wonder if she had done something to it, first. Anyway, it seemed like the sarcasm worked. Either that, or her memory is so bad, she forgot she was cross with me, yesterday.
I was still faced with working with three, unpleasant looking, old crones (although, to be fair, one, the boss, isn't that old, just bad looking). This was getting like "Macbeth." How did the tradition start that witches are ugly? Samantha Stevens, from "Bewitched," was good looking. The good witch from "the Wizard of Oz" (Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore) was good looking. Surely they would be more effective if they were hot looking. Satan too. If Satan looked like Liz Hurley, in "Bedazzled," surely all guys would be selling their souls to the devil, wouldn't they? That's why I don't think there is a Satan, because Liz Hurley hasn't sauntered up to me to bargain for my soul.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mary, Mary...Quite Contrary

London radio presenter, Iain Lee, (LBC 97.3, Sky 0177, or ), who also hosts "Celebrity Soup," on E! Entertainment Channel, has made some unflattering comments about old people, over the past twelve months. Maybe he has a point. Today, I was back working at the golf club I have been working at on and off, over the summer. I was working with an old woman named Mary. Hey, that's kind of funny, huh? Mary...Joseph...real New testament stuff, that. Anyway, this Mary was the most sour faced, miserable person I have ever had the misfortune to spend four and a half hours with.
I can be quite charming when I want to be. Mary didn't give me a lot to work with, though. I can imagine that she probably looked pretty good, once upon a time, but she's really let herself go. Still I tried to be entertaining and make conversation, to pass the time. I would have gotten more conversation from a stone wall. What's worse, is that she started commenting on what I was doing. That's enough to wind me up. When I am working, I like to do my work without some old crone moaning about the way I am doing it. The woman in charge had asked me to do something a little different to the way we normally do it, so I was complying wit her instructions. Old Mary stated complaining, that I wasn't doing it right, because she wasn't privy to the instructions I had been given. I told her that I was following the instructions I had been given from the boss, but that didn't shut her up. Why can't she just concentrate on doing her own work? Why does she have to keep involving herself in what I am doing?
Mary is one of these persons who likes to keep cleaing work surfaces,. over and over again, even though, a few minutes later, they just get dirty again. I prefer to clean them once, at the end of the shift, when I know we are finished. Why do the same job several times? Along those lines, there was a sink I was responsible for cleaning. Food particles would clog the drain and the water would build up in it. The sink wasn't being used for anything, so this didn't matter. After clearing it several times, early in the day, when it was slow, I left it, because I was busy doing other things. As long as I clean it out before I leave, everything is cool. Over the afternoon, quite a lot of water built up in this sink. Just when I was talking to the boss, over comes Mary. She looks in the sink and says, "this sink is full of water," like she's just discovered the Holy Grail, or something.
I looked down at her (because she's short as toadstool), and in my most sarcastic, New York accent, I replied, " figured that out all on your own?"
She gave me her most evil witch's glare...the one she probably uses to frighten little children, on Halloween, when she refuses to give them any treats, and snaps, "don't be sarky!"
Tell it to someone who cares, Mrs. Methuselah. "I'm from New York," I retorted," New Yorkers are sarcastic, but I am sure you've experienced sarcasm enough that you'll survive it." She grumbled, but proceeded to clean the sink herself. Oh well, I didn't expect her to. She should have just minded her own business and left me to it. She usually leaves earlier than anyone else. Today she stayed extra time, as if deliberately to bother me. Could this have been what Hitler's mother was like?