Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We'll See How Long This Link Lasts

So to speak.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Alec Baldwin Says 'Ai-ya'

Alec Baldwin is a pretty fun guy, actually. But the reason I'm posting this is he says "ai-ya" towards the end of this. The significance? Well, Asians tend to say it a lot, so I found it amusing to hear.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bad Hangover


This, of course, begs the question, "Would you really want to play the woman?" But in Hollywood, apparently so.

Friday, September 26, 2008

See Bruce Live...Live!

This Takes Skill

Impressive improv, or at least it looks like he's improvising. (Saw this, by the way, in a comparison to the recent Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric.)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Cow Tipping

It was a slow day at work so got to talking, somehow, about cow tipping and whether it was a myth or not. My school, Washington State University, is known for being a party school as well as a cow-tipper's paradise.

But have you ever seen video of a cow tipping? This will now put that question to rest.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Triumph at Comic-con

Helms on Colbert

This item comes from GQ's comedy issue featuring Seth, uh, what's his name? The Jewish guy with the 'fro in that movie Pineapple Express. Is it Rogen? Anyway, he's on the cover. Inside was this short interview with Ed Helms about his start on "The Daily Show" and his experience with fellow correspondent Stephen Colbert:

"When I started on 'The Daily Show,' I was so nervous that I asked him if he had any pointers. He said, 'You’re gonna be great. Oh, and don’t forget to hang your soul up in the closet and come back for it later.'

"Whenever we were backstage before a taping, Steve would do this pantomime. He would pretend he was the trumpet player in the band, getting ready for his part in 'The Daily Show' theme song. He’s miming that he’s warming up his trumpet, blowing in the spit valve, getting ready to go. And then he raises it to his mouth right when the guitar part kicks in. He would take down his fake trumpet and act surprised, like, 'What the fuck? Where’s the trumpet part?' I must’ve seen him do that 300 times, and it always made me laugh."

Blockbuster by Mail

A few years ago, while working for Lions Gate Entertainment, I came across a little-known company called Netflix. It seemed like a great little start-up, and so I asked my cousin's stockbroker husband if it was a good investment.

He never got back to me, and I sort of wrote the investment off as a silly idea. Then a year later, the stock doubled or tripled. By that time, I saw my cousin's husband who thanked me for the stock tip. Turns out, he invested a few thousand into Netflix and came away a winner.

Am I bitter? More like sour and rotting, to be more precise. That little lesson turned out to be the last time I asked for or gave any stock advice from anyone.

But now I'm thinking of asking the guy about Blockbuster, since while it looks way undervalued, with a price-to-book ratio under 1, I really don't know if they can survive in this evolving industry.

Regardless, I signed up for a trial of Blockbuster's home delivery service. About a year ago, I became rather frustrated by Netflix's lack of predictability. Plus, it was possible the mailman was watching my movies, because I often missed deliveries. Netflix was pretty good about apologizing and providing replacements, but when I asked them if their online delivery would soon work for Mac users, they just told me, "Sorry, probably won't happen." That was the proverbial straw.

So here I am, trying out the new service and... so far, so good. The first discs arrived in one day. I dropped off one of them at the Blockbuster store down the street from the office yesterday, and I might stop in today for an in-store exchange. Call it the dumbed-down version of Netflix, but I kinda like it.

Currently, at the office, I'm working on the old Batman collection for Blu-ray. This includes Batman, Batman Returns, Batman & Robin and Batman Forever. And, boy, do these films look dated. Sure, Batman with Nicholson and Keaton and Basinger came out in 1989, but this was surely a different pre-9/11, pre-Lady Di, pre-Heath time and place.



For those who haven't read about Jack getting upset for not being included in the story-forming process of Dark Knight, click here. But just looking at his picture on the back of the disc packaging, I have to say that even then, he was just too old and too out of shape for the part.

Still, I did love watching him then. I just have no interest in watching him now. As for Val Kilmer and George Clooney in their turns as the Caped One, well, I missed it the first time, so maybe now I'll take a look. Heck, how much worse can it get after watching Spider-man 3?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekend Entertainment

I grew up a big fan of the TV series, "Monty Python's Flying Circus," which aired many decades ago on public TV here in the States. Consequently, after hearing a segment on NPR about Eric Idle's "Not the Messiah (He's a very naughty boy)," performing live last weekend at the Hollywood Bowl, I just had to place a bid on eBay for a pair of tix.

It was a fun show, with reminiscences of Life of Brian and, I think, Meaning of Life as well. The reason I'm confused about the latter is that Eric Idle came out for a planned encore and sang what I think is the closing song for Meaning of Life, with lyrics about earth and the planets in the universe.

Monty Python has so infected my life that I even watched the TV series "Fawlty Towers" starring John Cleese for a while, and completely loved Michael Palin's travel series, particularly his "Hemingway Adventures" where he visited all of the author's famous haunts in Europe and Cuba. In one episode, he sat in Hemingway's chair at the bar and got completely inebriated on double Margaritas, then wobbled down the street, cameras rolling, to another bar where he consumed double Mojitos until he blacked out. The very next morning, Palin continued the documentary while hung over and nauseated. It was hilarious!

Two summers ago, after dating my wife-to-be for 3 weeks, we went on a quick jaunt to New York to catch "Spamalot" at the Shubert Theatre where, to my delight, I found out that my wife was a big fan of the movie Monty Python & The Holy Grail.

It's my wife's birthday this week, and the Hollywood Bowl was sort of an early surprise celebration. We picked up sandwiches from Blue Dahlia and brought a chilled bottle of La Crema Pinot Noir for a makeshift picnic dinner.

On Sunday night, we went to Shane Sato's photography studio for a sushi party where I got to indulge my fantasy of being a sushi chef. Shane goes fishing for all sorts of good stuff during the summer, so my fantasy often gets extended and occasionally abused to the point where I feel like I'm working instead of indulging. But, ah, that's another story.

Now, it would've been a fantastic weekend if it weren't for the fact that I had rented Spider-man 3, which is probably the worst superhero movie I have ever seen. What possessed me and the wife to watch the bloopers reel in the Special Features, I have no idea. But man, that was like adding turpentine to an already throbbing and pus-ing wound.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dark Knight vs. Wall-E

Last weekend, the wife and I saw two movies: Dark Knight and Wall-E. After watching Dark Knight at midnight, we couldn't get to sleep until 5AM. It was deeply disturbing, even to the most jaded of observers. Even David Denby, New Yorker film critic, couldn't seem to get past the "darkness" to enjoy the movie. He did, however, gush over Wall-E, which I can understand, but in my humble opinion, Denby's a putz. The guy should've waited for the made-for-TV version of Dark Knight, or change to reviewing films for Boy's Life.

I'm not saying Dark Knight is the best movie of all time, but Heath Ledger's performance is, well, heroic. It's what happens when you inhabit a character, and not just play it. It truly raises the bar for other actors, which might prove to be a dangerous temptation, but for the glory of greatness.

I liken Mr. Ledger's performance to a shaman term called "grokking," where you mimic the energy of something down to its imagined biological level. Imagine, if you will, the energy of a rock, then change it to a bird's. But don't just visualize the energy, become the energy and display it in all its stillness, as in the rock. Then become the bird, down to the lightness of its bones, the wind stimulating the individual hairs on its feathers, the sounds all around and their distinctness so that everything, from a car's horn to a distant cawing of a crow, give you a picture that denotes image and distance.

Mr. Ledger's performance will probably send the likes of Robert Downey, Jr. to the insane asylum, as he, like Mr. Denby pointed out about Mr. Ledger's performance, also is one to stare into the abyss.

Sean Penn. Will he even watch the movie? Doubtful, as I doubt he watches anything any living actor does. Oh, but there lies the difference, doesn't it?

And what about Christian Bale? Isn't he one of those actors, ala American Psycho and The Machinist, who would also inhabit the character at its most extreme level?

My point is, from this moment on, for any actor worth his salt, this is now the After Heath era. I predict that every movie made will feature some actor's attempt to access the DNA of a character, much like how Brando and Dean redefined the solo performance several decades ago.

Last Sunday, the wife and I had lunch with Chin Han and then went to a couple of theaters in search of something to lighten the mood. We stopped by Landmark at Westside Pavilion but they were sold out on everything worth watching, so we all headed over to Century City. We bought tickets for Wall-E and he got tickets for something else.

But before going in, he was curious about why I thought Mr. Ledger's performance stood out. After seeing it at both the New York and Chicago premieres, he still wondered why the Joker was so interesting to watch. And I can't blame him. For all the darkness of the character, he overshadowed pretty much everything else playing last weekend, both in the movie and everywhere else.

Not even Wall-E could clear away the clouds.

I'll Admit It...

I have a sick sense of humor.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When in Rome

Happened to see the photo below in a news story on the Web. Apparently, in Naples, Italy, a couple of teenage girls (ages 13 and 15) got swept up by the waves while playing in the water and drowned. For a couple of hours, their bodies were laid on the beach and covered with towels after a failed rescue attempt.



See the people around the bodies? Yeah, they're laying out on the beach as usual, many just strolling casually by within a few feet of the bodies. Why? Apparently, the girls were "Gypsies."

The wife and I were in Naples a couple of months ago; and while we did think the city was indeed seedy, we didn't think the Italians could be so indifferent to an immigrant. But it was on the way to the Rome airport in a tour bus where the tour director pointed out a Gypsy girl on the street, flagging down cars on the street to wash their windows.

The tour director mentioned that the Italians were having problems with these "undocumented immigrants," and many were blaming them for the increase in petty street crime and worsening the bad economy by deterring tourism. I guess she was saying that these immigrants were responsible for all the bad folks ripping off your cameras and pocketbooks.

Yeah, I'd say that the petty crime is my main reason for not wanting to go back to Italy very often. But a couple of bodies rotting on the beach while people walk indifferently by? Highly doubt it now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dark Knight at Arclight

I'm gonna catch Dark Knight at the Arclight in Hollywood tonight, 12:15am showing. We're all pretty excited to catch Chin Han's big moment on the big screen. Really, it's an opportunity of a lifetime for him, both as an experience and as a career move. I couldn't be more happy for him, and even found this interview with him just before the premiere.



He left me a voicemail just after he got back from Singapore, before heading to New York. I've always tried to imagine what it was like for him to visit Singapore and listen to folks who just don't realize how big something is like a blockbuster Hollywood film. You can star in 10 films in Asia, but it won't compare to just one principal role in a Hollywood blockbuster, either in fame or money.

I have another friend currently in Singapore who left L.A. to be in a TV series there. I realized, after a while, that all he really wanted was to be famous, albeit locally and on a much more microscopic level.

I don't mean to dis Singapore, but it is a very small pond. I came from the small pond of Seattle and, believe me, there is a difference.

The other friend in Singapore will be coming back to the States soon to promote a film he did with David Carradine. He called me last week to tell me about it.

It's a very small movie, but I'm very happy for him as well. But when it comes to the price of fame, I think Chin Han got the deal of the century.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stock Photography Article

Slate has an article today on one of my least favorite subjects, stock photography. The story features a girl whose stock photo images were licensed 636 separate times——in one year! She's known everywhere as, well, the Everywhere Girl. She's so ubiquitous, she blogged about it.

I haven't read her entire site yet but it sounds like she has a fairly good attitude about it. She did mention the lack of royalties from the images, although at the time of the shoot, she thought she was making out pretty good for the amount of work.

I actually have a series of stock images going around right now with me and several others in hospital scrubs. I was the token Asian doctor in the group, although I can't figure out why since Asian doctors are the norm, not the exception. So far, I've seen about three different hospitals use the images. Each time, I'd take my cell phone camera and snap a photo. I think I even saw one online and did a screen capture on my Mac.

The other day, someone sent a picture of me in a BBQ scene for a Wells Fargo poster. You know, there are very few pictures of myself I'm ever proud of. And I'm not being modest either. But something tells me that in about 10 years when I'm older and fatter I'll be bragging about how I looked in those pictures.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Star Trek

I'm glad I'm not a full-fledged actor anymore. Otherwise, I might get all up in arms about something I recently came across at work.

I'm privy to certain legal documents and one of those shows the credits order for the movie Star Trek, coming out next year. I already know who is playing Sulu, the Asian character made famous by George Takei. What gets me is that the guy playing the young Sulu is now getting first billing in the credits.

Why? Well, if you talk to an entertainment lawyer, you know there's two things that industry folks fight for most: money and credit, but not necessarily in that order. In fact, you might give up money for credit if it means further money and credit down the road.

In some cases, you have enough money already, so credit is really what you're fighting for in your career, as may be the case with John Cho, who's listed way above Winona Ryder in the credit list.

Why? It's a default first billing because it's an ensemble cast, which is actually listed in alphabetical order. But, hell, does anyone else know this besides a proofreader and maybe the studio lawyers? Probably not. But I bet Mr. Cho's agents and lawyers know this, and are breaking out the champagne as we speak.

As for me, well, as you can tell, I'm about as green as the woman who Captain Kirk slept with in the original series. Green with envy, of course. Ah, 'tis the painful part of my job.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Computer Played What Word?

At work, to keep my mind sharp, I sometimes play word games such as Scrabulous, that illicit knockoff of the board game Scrabble.

Apparently, Electronic Arts has the rights to the online version of Scrabble, which is owned by Hasbro. As for Scrabulous, it seems a couple of rogue programmers in India came up with it and successfully promoted it to millions of Facebook users.

The other day, the Scrabulous computer played a word, much to my amazement.



Yeah, that's right. It seems the computer not only knows my ethnicity, it also knows how to insult me at the same time. What I don't get is that proper nouns aren't playable, but derogatory words, such as the "n" word (yes, I looked it up in the computer's dictionary and it's playable), are allowed.

Unfortunately, I looked up "dothead" and it's not in the Scrabulous dictionary. Go figure.

Improv as Social Experiment

Back in college, I changed my major several times before settling on broadcast journalism. Before that, I was double majoring in English and math, in hopes I would someday be a teacher... or something like that.

Then, in the middle of my junior year, I switched to journalism on the advice of my counselor, who also happened to be the head of the English dept. Obviously, I had wasted much time in classes I would no longer need in order to graduate. It turns out, however, that when I graduated, I was only a handful of credits shy of a second major in psychology, a subject I thoroughly enjoyed.

My second favorite class, after Abnormal Psychology, was Social Psychology. Much of our class credit was gained from participating in various experiments, and had I known then that this would someday become useful as a student of improv, I would have saved all of my class notes.



The videos above are from Improv Everywhere. At first, I thought they were merely a bunch of improv artists conducting public performances. But the more I watched, the more I realized these were also social experiments.

I'm sure you're aware of very simple experiments such as standing with your face toward the back of the elevator. Or doing anything unorthodox in a place where behavior is fairly fixed. I used to get off on doing such things when I lived in Seattle. But here in L.A., everyone's behavior is a little erratic, and so I've become pretty boring since I moved here.

Little did I know that improv was a way of acting out my love of social psychology. I especially liked the Central Station video. The public musical, while great for improv practice, wouldn't get you extra credit in a psych class.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Bizarro Review


First off, you must never go to Iceland. And if you go there, you must never go to the Blue Lagoon. No matter what anyone says, do not go. Why? Because you'll be like me and the new wifee: constantly dreaming of going back.

The Blue Lagoon is a spa lover's delight. The geothermal pool is filled with a milky blue water that is rich in silica and sulfur, reportedly quite lovely on the skin. It's different from mineral hot springs because the water is fed from the sea (Iceland is an island) and flows from the ground through lava formations. Pressure from the heat blows the water to the surface where the energy is captured into turbines for Iceland's power supply. Well, something like that anyway.

Anyway, you'll hate it. Don't go there, especially when I plan to go there next. It's getting fricking crowded as it is, so I'm serious about this. What's worse is the Iceland currency, the krona, got devalued a few months ago, so the place is slightly cheaper than much of Europe, which means you can stay longer and go to the Blue Lagoon right off the plane and just before boarding on your return flight. After all, it's located about 10 minutes from the main airport, so plan your trip around it. Well, that's what I would do. You, on the other hand, should stay away.

I don't know why I'm mentioning this but Iceland Air is the only airline you can use to fly there, and it's a short 6-hour flight from Boston or New York. There's even the possibility they may fly from the West Coast... but I hope not. That would be too damn easy. And I need to take my wife to Gotham for dinner.

We stayed at a hotel that was right in the heart of Reykjavik. If I can only remember the name of it, I'd tell you, but I'd rather not. There's also a swell tapas restaurant around the corner. But it's only swell because it's the most popular restaurant in the city. And it's open late, which is important when you realize that toward June 21, Iceland is under perpetual daylight, and your stomach won't know what the hell to do with itself.

Partying can get extra noisy on the weekends, so stay outside the city center if you're old and grumpy and worry more about getting a good night's sleep. Oh what the hell was the name of that hotel? I think something like Hotel Reykjavik or something.

If you come back to Los Angeles, like we eventually had to do, then definitely go to the new Father's Office on Venice Blvd. in the Helms Bakery complex. Go there often and never go to the Santa Monica one. Why? Because the bartenders suck at the Helms Bakery location and I want you to go there so I can go to the Santa Monica one and enjoy no lines and better service.

Now, here's a place I'm glad people don't usually go to. In fact, Yelpers don't really like the place. More power to me. As for you, you need to stay away, too. It's called Ebisu and it's in Little Tokyo.

Most Yelpers talk about how it doesn't compare to other izakaya places they've been to. I'm glad. Stay at your favorite ones, because the izakaya places I love aren't necessarily great for their food or their atmosphere. They're all pretty standard, and that's just fine because the food is supposed to accompany all the drinking that you're trying to do. That's why the most popular ones in Koreatown look like dives. And the best ones in Japan look like Denny's.

I have no idea about the origins of izakaya, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say they sprung up in college towns where students could get a pitcher of beer and some cheap salty eats to soak up some of the alcohol. Eventually those students grew up and desired the same atmosphere closer to home, so they added sake and soju to the menu and other fine items, many of them deep fried, so that you could actually make a meal of all those drinking-associated foods.

Anyway, all you folks near Little Tokyo, stay away from Ebisu. Please!

One place that I wrote about recently, Metropol, has been getting way too crowded lately. Please, you people, don't go there either. I want a table and a plate of Coq au vin with a side of fries whenever I please.

Oh, and if you should be traveling in the Mediterranean, stay away from Valletta, Malta. It's too far for you anyway. Go somewhere closer like Rome or Venice where they need your cameras to pickpocket, or better yet, go to Tunisia where the cab drivers will rip you off. No, absolutely do not go to Malta. You'll hate it. And can you believe they speak mostly English there? The nerve!

So there you have it folks. Stay the frick away from any of my faves and go back to Yelp amongst the posers and fakers who know nada about nothing. Or something like that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chinese in Hollywood


Interesting, perhaps coincidental, news release came out about a film project by Arthur Dong called Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Films.

The cast in this film, oddly enough, is very similar to those in the promos mentioned in the previous post.

Asians in Hollywood

Apparently there's some sort of Asian film festival airing on the Turner Classic Movies channel in June. I'm still waiting to get the new HD widescreen TV before signing my life away to cable, so I may have to invite myself over to a friend's house to catch this. Actually, there's several chances to catch it, as they're airing 37 films throughout June, every Tuesday and Thursday at 8pm, starting on June 3rd.

With that out of the way, I did check out a promo for this series and, well, why don't you watch it first? (I tried embedding this but the code doesn't seem to be live yet.)

First off, I didn't know Ming-Na Wen, who once changed her name to just "Ming Na," is now "Ming Wen." Geez, where's the fun in that? It's hardly even pretty any more. Actually, I used to call her "Ming" back when I occasionally played poker at the house. (If you saw her on that Celebrity Poker show, she really is good at cards.) I swear, she always looked a little irritated every time I abbreviated her name, probably because Ming is more of a guy's name.

Secondly, in this next promo, Nancy Kwan still looks damn good! She's gotta be, what, 65 or 70 now? I met her many years ago back when I was working at Yolk and she looked me up and down, and then back down again. It was so blatant I almost felt like I had to go home and take a shower afterward.

The series is commercial-free and, according to the website, "uncut." So I guess that would mean they're going to air Enter the Dragon in its full, uncut R-rated version. We'll see, I suppose.

Now thirdly, that voiceover in the promo. Doesn't it sound distinctly chinky to you? I mean, it's not completely stereotypical, but it definitely borders on chinkiness. I don't know who is doing the VO as I can't recognize her voice. But I think it would be wise for TCM to hire a better Asian voiceover artist than her, possibly someone recognizable such as Joy Luck Club's Tsai Chin, or, if they can only pay AFTRA rates, then possibly one of the radio DJs in San Francisco (KBLX perhaps) or some local TV news anchor. Surely, they can find someone who doesn't propagate all those Orien'al stereotypes, right?

Anyway, you gotta give TCM some credit for airing this film festival. I'm sure a lot of thought went in to choosing the movies they selected. It'd probably behoove me to watch them, too, since my repertoire is fairly limited when it comes to old Hollywood films with Asians in them. Personally, I prefer to watch old Asian films with Asians in them, but that's just me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Love This Story

I was reading GQ this morning while on the throne and came across this story of a rising star who grew up in virtual poverty and was living on the streets since the age of 15. He'd collect cans and bottles to make a living, pulling in about 30 cents a day. For food, some friends would invite him over for dinner, but only if he'd sing for them.

Eventually, this guy met a guitarist and they started practicing cover songs from American rock bands of the '70s and '80s. They formed a band called Zoo and soon developed a loyal following, mostly for their dead-on renditions of their cover songs by the likes of Journey and other rock bands. This, however, wasn't unusual, for the country he lived in was the Philippines, and karaoke stars doing cover songs of American rock bands was nothing special.

Fortunately, for Arnel Pineda (OK, get ready for a really bad and obvious pun), he didn't stop believing....



This is him, playing with the actual group, Journey. Apparently, the lead guitarist of Journey, Neal Schon, came across Pineda on YouTube and was shocked at how accurate his mimicry of former frontman Steve Perry was. So, he called his other band members. Then they invited Pineda out for an audition, along with several others. Here's a recent performance in Las Vegas:



This a radio interview with Journey's Jonathan Cain (you might have to turn up the volume a bit):



Anyway, just thought you'd get a kick out of this like I did. At the age of 40, the guy found international fame, playing with the band he emulated throughout his life.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hmm...

I haven't posted here in over 2 months (for reason why, see "Inverted Pyramid") but for some odd reason, readers are still finding their way here every week. Not many, mind you, but enough to make me wonder.

A colleague suggested I change the theme of this blog to something else. Perhaps to something that more reflects my life right now. What is my life? Well, per my policy, I don't reveal my current employer. But that means I can now reveal my most recent previous employer, BBDO, or to be more specific, BBDO West.

BBDO is one of those big, big ad agencies. As a whole, BBDO North America is huge, with some of the biggest clients in the world. But as just BBDO West, it's not very high in the ranks. Still, it represented a certain high point in my advertising career. Unfortunately, the L.A. office's main client was up for review and we decided not to go through with it. Well, I didn't decide that. Someone with greater job security decided that, and so about 40-50 people in the L.A. office are now either out of a job or are looking for one. The ones who are looking have their days numbered — until the end of July, to be exact.

I was due to get married, go on a honeymoon, and ultimately spend way more money than I'm comfortable doing, especially with impending unemployment on the horizon. So, I kind of made it known I was looking for a new permanent position and, luckily, an old colleague of mine had a position to fill. (Thank you!)

Truthfully, this current job is much harder than the one at BBDO. I don't have my own private room, and the view from the office windows aren't as scenic as the 16th floor ones in Westwood. But the job and the people are much more stable. Seriously!

But there is one thing I'll miss about BBDO: Every once in a while, someone will leave their mail program open while they're away from their desk. And someone else will send out a lovely little email, in that unsuspecting person's email address, to everyone at BBDO West. Something to the effect of: "Hi my lovely co-workers. I just want to tell you how much I love working with you all. Have a beautiful day!"

Usually, this person would receive very nice personal replies all day long. Now if we could all be spoofed so well.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Learned a New Term Today

So this guy creates this video to look like he interrupted a recent basketball game to do what's known as "rickrolling," a term for interrupting something, often a website link, and redirecting it to something else, and occasionally accompanied by the song, "Never Gonna Give You Up," by Rick Astley.

The whole thing was cleverly edited and semi-staged to look like the real thing. But the funny thing is, it ended up spoofing The New York Times.

It'll probably get him a job in Hollywood some day. Not a bad deal for a communications major at Eastern Washington University. Believe me, I've driven by there. I thought it was a strip mall.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reminds Me of Another Time and Place

Ads like this don't get produced here in the States.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Inverted Pyramid

One of the rules of print journalism is that when you run out of things to say, you should stop writing. It's the old "inverted pyramid" model where you put the bulk of the important information at the top until it funnels down to the least important.

Lately, I just feel like this blog has had nothing of importance or relevance to share. And that's probably due to my lack of auditioning as well as unwillingness to discuss my current employment, which I have never done during the last 3 years of "An Asian in Hollywood."

As for the auditions, I really think my time with that is over or will be over very soon. Plus, I don't really hang out with the actors and actresses in Hollywood anymore. I'm sort of done with that scene, in fact, and just want to progress to my next phase in life.

2007 will probably go down in my own history books as my personal best year, both in earnings and in the scope of the work I have done. Keep in mind, I've never yearned to be a film or television actor. Just to have a hand in it here and there, particularly in what I do best: commercial acting and print modeling.

I'm not really sure how much money I've made in this business over the years. Some years were more substantial than others. I will share this, however: last year, I had some major shit dreams (remember those?) and they have yet to manifest into actual dollars. I'm still waiting. And it's gotten to the point of frustration.

Most working actors have a constant stream of income coming in. That usually includes commercials, television, a film or two, and the all-important stream of residuals that start out strong and then dwindle into a steady trickle of pocket change.

I haven't been so lucky. I usually get my paychecks 2 to 3 months after I complete a job. Very few of my union commercials have panned out into big moneymakers. The most I've ever made on one commercial was about $10,000. That's peanuts, folks.

A friend of mine asked me recently if I was happy with my share of fame in life. And yeah, I am, mostly because I've never had a level of fame where it became intrusive into my life. I live a fairly anonymous existence, and that's just fine with me. Hence the reason I've labeled this blog fairly generically.

But before I sign off completely on this labor of love, I should thank all those who have been an active participant in my Hollywood life. You know who you are. Well, I would hope so anyway.

And thanks to all you who have happened upon this thing for one reason or another. I may still publicize the goings-on of one actor friend or another from time to time, but as for my own, there just isn't much to write about.

So farewell, dear readers, all 40 or so of you each week. Thanks a lot for your time.

-XXX-

Monday, March 10, 2008

Yeah, I Know...

These are all pretty dated, but what the heck. They're still pretty amazing. Kind of humbles the ego to see this kind of stuff done so effortlessly.

5-Year-Old Pianist

Oh, should mention she is also blind.

Japanese Cockroach Commercial

Glad I skipped this audition.


Crazy Japanese Cockroach Commercial - Watch more free videos

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Eclipse

You probably caught a glance of the recent lunar eclipse, but that's not what I'm writing about today. I have some inside info on a commercial casting for anyone, actorly or not, SAG or hope-to-be-SAG.

But here's the catch: You have to own a late-model Mitsubishi Eclipse, 2006 or newer. If you do, email me ASAP. It could be very rewarding for you.

Tonight, I'm taking dance lessons. Why? Exactly. Anyway, as some of you know, my bachelorhood days are ticking away. In a matter of weeks, I will soon join the ranks of the newlywed.

But I'm not opposed to the dancing lessons, nor even having to waltz in front of my friends and family. After all, I can be a bit of a ham, or rather, I've been known to be a bit of a ham, especially in front of friends and family.

No, that's not the point. The point is, I just don't think it's realistic to think I'll look like a polished dancer. Maybe a Polish dancer, but definitely not polished ala Dancing With The Stars.

Will I be scrutinized for not looking like one of these ballroom wannabes? Well, I don't know. But I do know that I thoroughly enjoy dancing, just for the sake of dancing, whether it be on a dance floor or in front of an audience.

Seriously, though, many of my old acquaintances can remember me doing some rather silly dance routines ala Janet Jackson at several of the Japanese Community Queen events in Seattle many, many decades, er, uh, years ago.

Do I still have "it"? I don't think I ever did, to be honest. But then again, I picked up samurai katas pretty quick. A few twirls on the dance floor? That's got to be a (wedding) cakewalk.

Oh, one last thing. If anyone has a penchant for proofreading and/or copy editing, you may want to email me also. A motion picture ad agency called Eclipse is looking for one.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Smell of Unemployment

If you care anything about what goes on in Hollywood then chances are you watched the Oscars telecast last night. My favorite Jon Stewart joke of the night had to do with Vanity Fair canceling its famed Oscar party, purportedly in honor of the striking writers. Stewart said if they wanted to honor the writers, they should've just invited some of them to the party instead. "Don't worry, they won't talk to anyone!" he said.

Just read something out of the UK about one reason the Writers Guild voted to strike: of their 10,500 members, half are unemployed or are "unlikely to work again." If I were an unemployed union writer, I'd probably vote to piss on the other half, too, not to mention the entire industry. Disgruntlement goes a long way, my friends.

Meanwhile, I'm a little worried about my own livelihood. It seems the advertising industry is always in flux. One week, you're sitting in your pretty little office, enjoying the view, the next week they're moving you into a broom closet and adding on new job descriptions.

Fortunately, I have friends and associates in this business that go far and wide. Would hate to jump ship before it becomes necessary, however. Sometimes a little leak in the hull is a good thing for the career.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sex, Lies and a Mac Laptop


I think some of you may have heard the story already. Edison Chen, a hugely popular singer and actor in Hong Kong, brought his broken Macbook to a repair shop. Someone there recovered his hard drive, where they found shmegabytes of naughty, full-frontal and exposed-genital jpegs and mpegs, all ready for wide distribution over the Internet.

Unfortunately, these pics and vids weren’t just of Mr. Chen and a few women he picked up at the bar. They were of actresses and singers, some of whom were either engaged to be married or already married with kids. One apparently was Maggie Q, whose career had been blossoming recently in several action flicks.

Yes, to many of you, this is old news. But I happened to have drinks with Chin Han last night and asked him if he knew anything about it all.

He said he doesn’t personally know Edison nor any of the actresses involved, but that Maggie Q is represented by the same manager as he is. Apparently, the mess will get messier before it gets cleaned up.

As for the images released on the net, it’s nearly impossible to erase the damage. In fact, there was an interesting piece on NPR this morning about Repairing a Bad Online Reputation, and that it’s very difficult to do.

For starters, try googling “Edison Chen scandal” and you’ll see why. The first 300 hits are stories relating to the pictures or the actual pictures.

The NPR piece says that you’d have to spend a lot of time on the net putting out information of the positive and non-sexual sort to counteract what is out there right now. In fact, I just added to that whole mess with my blog entry. Now, Edison will have to add one more piece of info to counteract this entry.

Chin Han says he was surprised that Edison had taken a bit part in Dark Knight, since he is much more famous than Chin Han is. I won’t say what he said about Edison’s role since it’s a potential spoiler, but if you watch the movie just to see Edison, it’s possible you may blink your eyes and not catch him at all.

Chin Han says he’s been playing it relatively safe lately, especially in light of what happened to Heath Ledger. Both actors shot their last scenes on Dark Knight on the same day in London last October.

I remembered something we had discussed last June, just before he left for London. He was complaining about the jet lag and having trouble sleeping. I actually gave him a single sample of sleeping pills and told him that if he liked it, he should have someone on the set prescribe him some.

I actually don’t know if movie sets provide on-location doctors who can prescribe medications. I do know that nearly all tour managers for musicians provide one of these, however, and so I assumed it would be the same for him on the movie. This was probably how Mr. Ledger got his six or so prescriptions written for him, without much care for how he cocktailed them.

To my relief, however, Chin Han enjoys little more than an occasional Pinot Noir, mostly for the health benefits actually. Not trying to paint him as a goody two shoes or anything. But I think it’s safe to say that if you google “Chin Han scandal,” you’ll probably only produce this blog entry.

As for the real scandal, don't expect Mr. Chen to profit ala Paris Hilton style from the video/pic releases, no matter how impressive his schlong may appear to some of you. Apparently, the triads control much of the entertainment industry, and they're none too happy about the potential loss of income of some of their talents.

Reportedly, there is already an offer on the table for one of the hands of Edison Chen. How much, you ask? Half a million Hong Kong bucks. That's about $65K over here.

Why I Watch These Things

I love character studies. I've mentioned it here before that Peter Sellers also studied real people for interesting and humorous character traits and idiosyncrasies. The guy on this video is a psycho and, in fact, reminds me of a few people I know personally. But I think the key here, when doing characterizations of people, is to keep it light and humorous. I can see this same spiel, for instance, being applied to peanut butter, or, in my friend's case, to Diet Coke.


Rogue Helicopter Taunts Psycho - Watch more free videos

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Was on 'Hold'

So it looks like I had put myself on "hold" at the print agency and forgot about it. I recently emailed them about an address change and they asked if they could start sending me out again. DOH! Alright, I can be a bit of a goober about such things.

Lately, I've been trying to figure out how I can better utilize my writing background (i.e., make more money off my skills without burning myself out).

I realize that I enjoy certain kinds of writing, such as this occasional blog where I write about things that either piss me off or give me joy. I also like writing things that give me a little ego boost every time I see them in print, such as visiting a video store and pointing out which synopses I wrote. Sure, I don't earn a penny more for writing the video copy, no matter how many videos they sell, but if it gives me warm fuzzies, I'm all for it.

Anyway, I realize there may be a market for my synopsis-writing skills. And since it's a relatively simple process –– read some critiques, view the video (optional, actually), and get an idea of the plot –– I can pretty much determine a set price for it, including rewrites.

I'll give you two examples of my synopsis writing, with one that did very well and one that wasn't so successful. Conan O'Brien's 10th Anniversary Special was one that I did while at Lions Gate Entertainment, and I know they sold the heck out of that one. To the best of my knowledge, they still use my synopsis on the back of reissued DVDs. But one that they rewrote right away was the Best of Triumph, the Cigar-Smoking Dog.

Truthfully, these two videos were written at a loss, since I spent way too much time researching (watching some 8 hours of raw video) and then wracking my brain for something creative, brief, and "marketing" to write.

But then there was Ginger Snaps 5 and, without even watching the video, I managed to write something that would make any fan of the genre want to pick it up at the video store and take it home.

And that's the whole point. Writing video synopses is all about getting you to spend money on it at the video store. It's not about accuracy, or being a devoted fan and appealing to a very specific audience. It's getting Mr. or Ms. Jo Schmo to rent it or buy it.

There's this humor website I've been trying to maintain called ai-ya.com, and while it's a great outlet for those creative spurts, there's just too much responsibility to maintain it. Plus, the "well" tends to dry up every now and then. I can't tell you how many times I've started writing something, only to give up halfway through the piece. Truthfully, the last time I wrote something on it was about 6 months ago!

Anyway, if anyone thinks they have some comedy-writing skills, you're more than welcome to contribute. Check it out and you'll see what sort of humor we strive for.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whys and Why Nots

So I’m thinking, once again, about the whys and why nots of my attitude toward the striking writers and after some introspection, I’ve come to several conclusions.

One, I think screenwriting is hackwork. You write scripts, you’re a hack, because you put together little bits of ideas and words and occasional full sentences and you create a dialog. I think that’s hackwork. I don’t like ad copywriting either because I think that’s hackwork also.

Two, I think getting paid enormous amounts of union-protected dough to do what most people do every day is not laborious. Picking up other people’s garbage? That’s laborious. Washing other people’s clothes and scrubbing their floors and emptying their bedpans——that’s laborious. Poring over pages of computer code, tarring a roof in the hot sun, making cold calls to sell life insurance, unplugging someone’s toilet, working at Hot Dog on a Stick——that’s incredibly laborious.

Getting into the writers’ union? That’s laborious, and also amazingly difficult, even to seasoned writers. There are even some professional scriptwriters who, after going through the mysterious Guild process of seeing who gets final credit for a script, are amazed at the protectionism and, uh——what’s the word?——favoritism that goes on at the Guild.

I’ll give you an example: Ed Norton, the actor, rewrote the script for the biopic Frida and, because he wasn’t in the Guild, he didn’t receive any writing credit. The same thing happened to Richard Pryor, who rewrote much of the dialog in his movies.

And so, because of this perceived unfairness by many professional entertainment industry people outside the Guild, they couldn’t give a rat’s ass for the Guild when they start to ask for more power and money.

Three, I am not friends with one person in the Writers Guild, yet I know at least one person in the Directors Guild, the Editors Guild, the Producers Guild and, of course, the Screen Actors Guild. I don’t know one stinkin’ union writer to feel sorry for, and no, those little videos they produce don’t make me feel sorry for them either.

My industry friends, some who now work strictly in advertising, think this is the end of the Writers Guild. Instead of production companies signing negotiated contracts with the striking writers, striking writers and many non-striking writers will sign individual contracts with the studios, all negotiated through their agents, instead of through a union.

You’ll see 17-year-old Randy from Wisconsin, who’s a big star on YouTube, get a production deal. Or a film editor, who is good with working on movies and TV shows that are not fully scripted or even unscripted, get development deals. After all, it’s been said that a film editor was responsible for Borat’s movie actually being funny.

The recent spate of movies by Judd Apatow and friends were all virtually unscripted. What if a movie studio promised writing credits to actors who were especially good at improvising their lines?

That’s what happens when the people in power are forced to adjust. They create change, often for the better (reality shows) and often for the worse (reality shows).

Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me tell you about this idea I have for a movie involving L.A. street gangs. It’s pretty good, actually. And all the lines are improvised, as is most of the action. But there’s this one little inciting event…

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Official

Slate is saying it. The New York Times is sort of saying it. Alan Greenspan keeps mentioning it as if he were an odds maker. And even Bush made some allusion to it.

Yes, we are definitely, most positively, but only probably in or near a recession. Whatever. I read somewhere that the housing market is in so much trouble right now, particularly in California, that it may not recover for another 10 years!

Meanwhile, the Writers Guild is pressing on with their case. First of all, I'm not anti-union. I belong to SAG, after all, and freelance for the Editors Guild. Unions aren't the problem. It's unions with no power that are the problem, and the Writers Guild is a union with no power.

Any time, recession or not, a trash collectors union wants more money, all it has to do is stop collecting trash. People can't conduct their daily lives without someone collecting their trash, so we give in and pay these folks more money.

The Writers Guild stops our awards shows, movies, and scripted TV shows –– so what? People turn to books, cable TV, DVD. They talk to each other more often. They go on the Internet and illegally download music and stuff. We, as consumers of entertainment, got other choices. Meanwhile, a whole lot of people in California are going without paychecks...and losing their homes and their livelihoods.

How will this affect me? Recently, a dozen people got laid off in my office. No TV shows means a slowdown in advertising. I don't like to see people get laid off, or out of work, especially on the brink of a recession.

Fortunately, this time around, I'm more prepared for this recession. I have a regular job. But get this: the HR person at my company has been fielding resumes from several out-of-work actors and entertainment industry folk. What does she do with these? She puts them in the "laugh" bin. Why laugh? Because she knows that as soon as the strike breaks, these people will be back pursuing their acting and entertainment careers.

So to all you striking writers, you're living in a dreamworld. And you're taking all the other dreamers with you. Until you all realize that 4 cents was a pretty good deal after all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Eatin' around Town

Don't mean to turn this into some sort of food blog, but occasional actors do need to eat. So, I made some notes about the places I've been hittin', most of them with my girl of course.

Tani Restaurant in Old Town Pasadena just came on the radar recently. I noticed it listed among the restaurants in L.A. Restaurant Week, coming up around the end of January. As the name "restaurant week" does not imply, it is, like most other cities' restaurant weeks, not confined to one week but usually two.

Tani is listed, and I started to wonder why, since when me and the girl were last in New York, their restaurant week featured several of the town's best restaurants. So, does that mean Tani is potentially a great restaurant? Really don't know, even after trying it out on last Sunday afternoon around 4.

First off, I must recommend the Poky Salad, which has ample cubes of raw fish. An awesome choice, just as an entrée. Then there's the spicy scallop roll, which I've never tried before at any restaurant, although it does seem to make sense. The third thing I'd recommend is the Japanese mackerel sushi, something they amazingly serve for under market price.

Mackerel sushi is not for everyone, but when I order it, it either has to be Spanish mackerel or I'm not having it. But when they say they have Japanese mackerel, I always lighten up. Some folks use Spanish mackerel as bait for catching bigger fish. But Japanese mackerel at a discount price? That's like Wal-Mart selling toothpaste for below cost. Well, something like that.

The rest were pretty standard or even sub-standard. Don't order the uni until they get more traffic, because as one uni distributor told me and the gal at the Japanese Food Festival last October, uni should be yellow, not brown, and firm like a tongue, not mashy like, well, a tongue when you're kissin' your sweetheart.

Oh, for those who aren't familiar with uni, it's sea urchin, which is a small sea animal with spikes on the outside much like a porcupine's.

We also have been visiting this all-you-can-eat shabu shabu place in Weller Court in Little Tokyo, particularly on cold or rainy days. There's something about eating steaming meat and vegetables, and sharing a bottle of decent sake, on a day like that. I can't tell you the name of the place because I keep forgetting it, but it's on the 3rd floor, it's open 7 days a week and they apparently have an all-you-can-drink option as well. If you see a guy there who looks like the Asian nemesis in Robocop 3, it probably is. Bruce Locke is the one who told me about this place.

One last place I'll mention is Cafe Metropol, but the only way you're finding that place is to Google it or if you know where the restaurant R23 is. Metropol is just down the road from R23, and you actually can't miss driving by it when going through that little alleyway. Try the Sirloin burger and have a bottle of Chimay blue. You'll thank me later.

By the way, must mention that we went to Prince recently (the restaurant, not the singer) and had one of the politest servers we ever experienced. He even refilled our chips and salsa without asking. Something odd is happening at that place. White men are starting to dine there alone, at the bar, just like many Korean businessmen do. I mean, it's typical to see the occasional group of white folk there, but never alone, and rarely at the bar.

Another phenomenon we've been noticing while furniture shopping at some of the Korean furniture shops in L.A.: white customers not even noticing the loud, tacky Korean pop music playing loudly over the speakers. Okay, that's just weird.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wii Headtracking Demo

I love how there's this paradigm shift in how Asians, who once were viewed as geeky and unattractive, are now geekily attractive. I especially like how this guy explains everything in layperson's language so simple an idiot like me can understand it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bill Gates' Last Day Tribute

Microsoft has hired me for some sort of print job every year for the past four years. I gotta hand it to them. They pay their talent pretty darn well, and in my opinion, they have awfully good taste in who they pick.


Bill Gates Last Day Of Work - Watch more free videos

Wondering

It's been about 2 months since my last print or commercial audition and I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever be called for another one. This last holiday season, I also didn't send my agents a Christmas gift, which I did to much appreciation last year.

I wanted to send them something, since I did have my best year ever in 2007 for print and commercial work. But I just don't know about it anymore, this whole acting/modeling stuff. I'm really feeling ambivalent about it.

Maybe I'm just getting too old for this stuff and not wanting to bother to get cleaned up for another audition. Maybe I've just got way too much stuff going on with the wedding plans and, also, moving into the new condo with the wife-to-be. Or, maybe I'm feeling content with the way my acting/modeling career has gone and I can now leave it behind without any regrets.

The new job at the ad agency is going very nicely. In fact, the office was closed most of the last two weeks of 2007. What an awesome way to end the year —— getting paid to spend time with loved ones during the holidays!

Granted, the level of my work now takes on a whole new dimension. I may not do as much work on a day-to-day basis, but the work I do gets scrutinized at geometrically higher pressure levels. The client also gives weekly reviews on when we do a good or bad job. Apparently, I got an honorable mention during one of these reviews. A good honorable mention, I should say.

Sometimes I don't do any work all day, and then just when I'm preparing to go home, I get a stack of TV spots that need to be looked at ASAP, with all their legalese needing extra concentration.

I'm also getting a steady stream of freelance proofreading and editing work, which is great for filling up the slow periods during the day. Double-dipping, as we independent contractors often say.

Yeah, I think I can put off going back to auditioning for a while. Something about full-time work at a great company seems to appeal to me right now.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Protect Yer Testicleez

Highly doubt I'd show up to this audition.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008