Saturday, February 10, 2007

R.I.P. T.o.a.W.A (i.p.)

This shall be my final post for the blog, Tales of a Working Actor (in progress). In the next day or two, check out my new (and improved?) blog - JEFBOT.COM!!! Keep checking - should be up before Monday.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Game' Over

Well, it finally happened this past weekend: I retired my Gamecube to the gaming closet and now the Wii has officially taken its place full-time.

Although contrary to popular opinion, I loved my 'cube. I bought more games for it than I did my XBOX (though not quite as many as my PS2). Super Mario Sunshine, Resident Evil IV, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness, Pokemon Colosseum, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Metroid Prime, Tales of Symphonia and Viewtiful Joe are just a few of the great games I enjoyed on the system. In fact, I wouldn't even be retiring it if the Wii weren't backwards compatible with Gamecube titles, including all the hardware and accessories. Because of this, I fully intend to finish some of the GC titles I never got around to, like Metroid Prime 2 : Echoes and Paper Mario 2, via the Wii. And those little discs it used might not have been practical from a memory standpoint, but they sure were cute (and back to being practical if they ever make a handheld Gamecube, although impractical again after seeing how optical media has hampered the PSP).


Goodbye, faithful Gamecube. You served me well, and will live on in the Wii.

Now it's time to start thinking about retiring that huge, space-consuming, original XBOX...

XLInt Adventures

Hope everybody had a great SuperBowl weekend. As has happened every year for the past 9 years or so, I went over to my sister and brother-in-law's house in Valencia, CA for their annual SuperBowl party.

Now, I don't follow football at all so I don't really care who scores the most touchdowns or anything. I'm there for all the people, food, fun and games to be had. My sister Laura usually has around seven courses of food that come out almost every hour, so by the time I roll out of there, I'm about ready to burst. This year was no exception, and there were many hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches, rice, nachos, and desserts to be consumed. My brother-in-law Mike sets up games to be run before, during half time, and after the game. Games like nerf H-O-R-S-E (in this case, "T-D"), nerf football toss (which I won this year, but got totally shut out of in the first round this year), and Speed Blackjack, among others. Money can be won during these games, the most of which can be had by getting the most answers right on a Questions Pool Mike comes up with. Questions like, "Will the total points scored in the first half by both teams be over or under 24½?" and "Will the total number of interceptions thrown in the game by both teams be over or under 2½?" Team Figueroa won this last year for Big Money, but Ric's judgment and common sense was clouded this year by his love for the Bears. Luckily, Courtney, his wife, knew better and claimed the runner up prize, so got a bit of loot out of it.

New this year to the festivities were the "Feats of Strength." It's a bit late for Festivus, but that didn't stop my sister Linda from wrestling Mabelette to the ground at random intervals throughout the day. It's difficult to say whether Mabelette enjoyed these spontaneous attacks, but if I had to venture a guess, the answer would be "Hell no." I'm just glad Linda stayed away from me, as she became very angry after a trouncing she got from Courtney and me during a 3-player Tetris session on our connected Nintendo DS'.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

jefbot Rising

Things are moving along on the new website, so if all goes according to plan, I should be done with it and ready to launch sometime in the next two weeks! I've got lots of stuff planned for it, not all of which will be implemented at launch, but it should be fun! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ned

Here's a character I created for the day job. I needed to do an illustration for a "young, fastidious and nerdy... somewhat obnoxious" security officer, and came up with what you see here. I was really just trying to suggest Napoleon Dynamite, but he came out more declaration than that. Ah, well. Next up is animating him in Flash to change between five expressions (happy, sad, neutral, angry and furious) for an interactive exercise I'm working on. If I had that Cintiq tablet I ordered six weeks ago, I'd probably be done already.

My Acting Powers Grow Stronger

In the past week I've had a couple amazing casting director workshops. One was with Cathy Henderson, a casting director who has been around a long time - long enough to have cast Hawaii Five-O and Charlie's Angels (no, not the Drew Barrymore flick) back in the day. This was perhaps the best workshop I've ever taken part in. Not only did I receive the best kudos ever given to me by a casting director, but every scene (there were probably about 16 or so, in all) was rock-solid, which is very rare. Cathy cultivated a fun, creative atmosphere that put all of us actors at ease, and it really came across in the work. The other workshop was held yesterday with Lisa Essary, who brought some challenging scenes and also kept the proceedings very light and fun.

I've really gotten my groove back, lately. In the time since I filmed that AFI short, I was starting to feel a bit off my game, wondering if the demise of Dee Wallace's Acting Studio was affecting me adversely, but between all the workshops I've been doing, and the sporadic auditions I go out on, I feel I'm continuing to grow as an actor and with that is coming greater confidence.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wii Wants It, Wii Needs It

The Wii is MINE, my precious!!!

During my lunch break earlier today, I made my regular call to the local Best Buy in Thousand Oaks asking if they had gotten in any more Wiis. To my surprise, the lady on the other end of the line said, "Yes, we just got in a few an hour ago, but they're all sold out now." I quickly called another Best Buy in Woodland Hills asking if they had gotten a shipment, too, and was told, "We just got five in. If you want one, you better come in now." I told her I could be there in 20 minutes. "Hurry," was all she could say.

Well, I pulled a u-turn, away from the Taco Bell I was heading toward, and motored as fast as I could to the Best Buy and my waiting Wii. After squealing into the parking lot, running into the Best Buy and finding the employee in the videogame section, I told him I was there for the Wii. He just goes, "Sorry. We don't have any," without even looking at me. I was about to go off, but I remained fairly calm (although out of breath) and said, "I just talked to someone on the phone who said you had Wiis here." Then, he got all red and was like, "Well, maybe. But I don't know if we can sell any of them. Let me find out. Who did you talk to?" "I don't know, a woman." "Okay." Then he bolted, and was gone for 10 minutes, at which point he returned, looked around to make sure no one else was listening, then whispered, "Follow me." Although a bit weirded out, I followed, and we silently made our way out of Videogames and through DVDs, to the Customer Service desk where he made eye contact with another employee behind the counter. He then pointed to me, the customer service guy nodded, and I heard, "He'll hook you up," in my ear before the videogame guy slipped away again. I've had drug deals less covert.

Anyway, after trying to upsell me service plans and congratulating me on scoring the Wii, I was sold the console, and was out of there and on my way back to work, which is where I am now -- with the Wii burning a hole in the trunk of my car. I thought about calling my boss after my Best Buy run and feigning sickness, but all my stuff was back here at work, so I would've had to put on quite a performance. *cough* *cough* I'm still thinking about it though... not sure if I can wait another couple hours to get out of here... Zelda's beckoning.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Call

I was totally freaking out since late yesterday when my doctor called and left a message saying he needed to speak with me right away regarding a blood test I took last week during my physical. I called his office right back but it went to voicemail. I left a message, dwelled on it all night, then called early this morning, but was told he was with another patient and would call me back. Another few hours passed and another few hundred awful thoughts went through my head until he called around noon saying my "special sugars" were a tad high and I should eat a piece of broccoli instead of a potato the next time I had the option, and to basically watch my carb intake. Greatly relieved, and happy to be alive, I celebrated by going to Numero Uno and eating a personal deep dish pepperoni pizza with fried romano bread puffs, dipped in garlic sauce and rolled in parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 19, 2007

House Party

I did a casting director workshop a couple of nights ago with Michelle Adams, casting assistant or director for a number of television and film projects including Moesha, Bad Boys II and some John Singleton pictures. Not sure if I'd actually have fit into any of those projects, but it was a fun workshop nonetheless, although the venue left something to be desired. Actually, the place itself, a large estate in the Studio City hills, was amazing and had a great view, but about 20 of us actors were scrunched into the dining room where we took turns doing scenes in a tiny space between the dining table and the bar, with Michelle about two feet from us. Throw in the owner of the house audibly snoring on a couch in an adjacent room during our scenes and you can see how things quickly turned comical. Less comical was the fact that the bathroom was out of toilet paper and soap after about 20 minutes into the workshop. Someone volunteered a small pack of Kleenex, but fortunately, I was able to keep things contained. Others weren't so lucky. Ah, actors can be a dirty bunch.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tales to Tell

Although this blog will be changing soon (new look! new name! new url!) it will still chart what's going on with me as an actor, something I've certainly been remiss about here, lately. I mean, this freaking blog is named Tales of a Working Actor (in progress) and I rarely do any entries about acting. So I'll be changing that. Probably through short notes like this one:

Last night, I did a workshop for a casting agent, Marc Chancer, from Origin Talent Agency. He seemed very cool and genuine, and hopefully I'll get a call from him soon, especially now that pilot season's underway. That'd be swell. When posed the question, "Do you really work and push for your clients?" Marc answered that he couldn't understand why an agent would ever sign an actor if that wasn't their intention. Tch. Believe me, it happens all the time. My last three agents signed me, then let me collect dust on their shelves for months. I almost blurted that out, but I kept my cool and was like, "Mm. Yeah." So, an agent that would work and push for me would be just peachy.

The sketch above is for the "acting" section of my new site. I've always had this image of Hamlet meets Terminator in my head, and I finally got it out of there and onto paper. Seemed the perfect image for the site. Anyway, if all goes smoothly, I'll be done constructing it in the next month or two. I'll be updating my progress here leading up to launch day for sure.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rude Awakening

During the working week, I tend to wake up 15 - 30 minutes before my clock radio/cd player goes off. I usually go in and out of sleep during this time or tend to think about personal or work-related projects that are going on, before reluctantly getting out of bed when the CD starts playing (currently the soundtrack for the Tenacious D movie, which is not as awesome as it should be), which acts as the alarm. As usual, I woke up this morning ahead of "Dude, I Totally Miss You", and stayed in my "think state" for about 30-40 minutes, before looking at the clock to see how much time was left before I had to get up... only to discover it was 2:50am. I went to bed a little after 1am, so I couldn't have been sleeping for much more than an hour before waking up. Weird. I'm usually starved for sleep and it always takes a great force of will to get me out of bed. What's going on?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iWant

I've had my Treo 650 about a year and a half now, and have been very happy with it. Lots of cool phones have come out since, some with a bunch of neat features, but I haven't really thought about replacing my Treo. That is, until now. Today was the day Steve Jobs unleashed the iPhone on the world during his speech at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. And, wow. It's incredible.

The iPhone is basically a touchscreen iPod, cell phone and Mac all rolled into one device. It syncs to your computer just like an iPod, bringing over music, videos, Calendar, email and other data while it's charging. Since it uses OSX as its operating system, it also has widgets you can place on the dashboard - for clocks, weather, stocks and fun stuff. You can also surf the Internet in a way that isn't gimped like other cell phones, since you're using a version of Safari. The thing doesn't use a stylus or buttons either. It's designed so using fingers should never be a problem, and actually only has one button, the "Home" button which sits below the screen.

The iPhone can detect whether you're holding it vertically or horizontally, so automatically switches between portrait and landscape modes when you're watching videos or surfing the internet or even playing music. The screen can also detect more than one input - when looking at photos, for example, to zoom out of a picture you would place both fingers apart on the screen and bring them together in a "pinching" motion. To zoom in, you'd do the opposite. I think you can zoom in and out like this when surfing the web, too.

Basically, it looks like it'll do everything my Treo can do and more, and do it better. The only things I don't quite like are that it only comes in 4gb and 8gb models. Guess I won't be storing a bunch of videos or music on it. Wish it had some sort of memory card expansion slot like the Treo, too. A built-in GPS would've been nice. Also, I do a lot of text messaging while I'm driving just by the feel of the buttons on my phone - with the touchscreen, that ain't happening. Fingerprints, scratches and smudges are a concern with that huge, beautiful screen, too.

Other than that, though, I think I'll be switching from Sprint to Cingular (which has exclusive dibs on the iPhone for a couple of years) when the iPhone launches this June. I've been contemplating getting a Mac for the past couple of months, and while the iPhone is surely cross platform, I think this news, along with appletv and Boot Camp have finally tipped me over the edge.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Totally Wiik

Ever since the Wii (pronounced, "We"), Nintendo's new gaming console, launched in November, I've been casually trying to buy one, to no avail. I call a few Best Buys almost everyday, but always get the same response (if I get anyone to answer their stupid phone line, at all) - that they don't have the Wii, and don't know when they're going to get anymore in. I refuse to camp out for it, or to pay more than its MSRP, so hopefully I'll get lucky soon. I've bought a couple accessories for it though, including an extra "Wii-mote," and a Classic Controller. I got The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess, too. Unfortunately, they sit, unused and forlorn, in the corner of my room, waiting to be brought to life. I'm sure I'll pick up Rayman Raving Rabbids and Trauma Center : Second Opinion, sometime this week and add them to my pile of unplayed games.

Contrasting the scarcity of the Wii, I keep running into available Playstation 3s at the Best Buys I've been calling. After denying me the Wii, the employee on the line usually says, "But we have lots of Playstation 3s if you want one." No. Not yet. I'll wait until they figure out their hardware issues (scaler chip, anyone?) and have some games that a.) I want to play or b.) that at least look on par with the XBOX 360. Unless I just NEED a Blu-Ray player in the near future, I'm gonna wait. No doubt I'll get one, but not for awhile. I can only assume that the availability of PS3s means that demand for the console has taken a severe nose dive since Christmas, at least as compared to the Wii. Wow.

Speaking of HD players, I recently bought the HD-DVD add-on for the XBOX 360. I haven't bought any discs for it yet, but I watched some of the King Kong HD disc it came with and it looked, unsurprisingly, great. I'm not going to replace my DVD collection with HD discs (HD-DVD or Blu-Ray) anytime soon, but I'll probably trade in some of my recently bought, unopened DVDs (like Superman Returns and the latest season of The Sopranos, maybe), for their HD brethren, and buy HD-DVD discs for new releases from now on, when possible.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Not Cleared for Landing

Kinda old news, but still – According to the AP, a group of pilots and other United Airlines workers reported seeing a flying saucer hovering over O'Hare airport last November. It's getting press now because the employees filed a report back then, but have seen no action, either by United or the Federal Aviation Administration, to investigate the matter. In fact, the FAA denied ever receiving a report until being forced to look into their records by a Freedom of Information Act filing.

Normally, I'd be more skeptical, but there were over a dozen witnesses, including pilots, who would probably not risk their jobs over a hoax. Still, skeptic bells go off when, apparently, no video or photos were taken of the object. I mean, c'mon, these days everyone has, at least, a cell phone with one of those two capabilities. This can be explained by airport security precautions, but it is a bit much to buy that no images of the occurrence exist.

The FAA is not investigating the matter further, and is considering the sighting some sort of weather phenomena - something about lights playing off low clouds. Whether it's tricky weather, an experimental government aircraft or maybe an alien recon vessel with a faulty cloaking device, remains to be seen.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ring Out the Old, Ring In the New

Well, I hope everyone had a great time during the month of December. Christmas at Casa Schuetze was memorable as always. I got a bunch of stuff, including a JEFBOT stocking, made by my niece, which is really cool. Also received The Complete Calvin and Hobbes box set from my parents, which is just majorly awesome as C&H is probably my favorite comic strip of all time. Shoes, a new wallet, clothes from my aunt in Hawaii, and Guitar Hero II (thanks, Fig & Olive) were also under the tree. My sisters and mom made a HUGE breakfast which sated me for a couple of days. Homemade waffles, baked hash browns, egg caseroles, ham and pomegranate mimosas were just a few of the things on the breakfast table. Yum!

A Christmas Miracle occurred on December 23 when I drove to Newhall to see two, one man plays, known as The Santaland Diaries, starring my high school friends, George M. Chavez III and Erin Rivlin-Sakata. Both plays were written by David Sedaris and are laugh-out-loud funny. Erin was up first, and played a mother with problems and secrets that make the Desperate Housewives look perfectly Rockwellian. George was next, portraying an out-of-work actor who takes on a job as a not-so-cheery department store elf. Both Erin and George did outstanding jobs and were absolutely perfect in their roles. During the break, I ran into the director, Jenny Rennels-Magon, as I was waiting for the bathroom. She's another friend from high school I hadn't seen in years. We all went to BJs in Valencia, afterward and caught up a bit. A couple hours later, Erin, George and I went to Mulligans, a karaoke bar nearby to sing a couple of songs. It was a great night, and was fun to see friends I don't hang out with much anymore. I gotta do more of that.

New Year's Eve was a pretty traditional affair. Friends and family came over to my parent's house in Sun Valley for a ton of food, drink and merriment. My mom and dad barbecued teriyaki skewers and my sister made shredded pork, among other things. Guests brought an overwhelming amount of food and desserts. Again, I didn't have to eat for a day or so after. My dad set up a poker game in the patio, and my brother-in-law, Mike ran a trivia game for prizes. I set up Guitar Hero II and karaoke in the living room, which we all did for a little while until midnight. After the ball drops in New York, my family has this tradition for everyone in the house to ring this old, really loud bell out into the neighborhood, waking up any neighbors who might be sleeping. We've been doing this every year since I can remember, and this year was no exeption. Anyway, after another hour or so, when the party started winding down, and the guests made their way out, it was on. Alternating between 5 of us, karaoke reigned until about 6:30 in the morning, when the magic finally ended, and that was only because Mike, my sister Laura, and some of their friends needed to catch a plane to Vegas. Otherwise, it indeed could've and would've gone on longer.

So that was my End of '06, Beginning of '07. Can't wait to see what's going to happen this year. It's already going by too fast.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It WAS a Trap

Websense sucks. I'm reading posts on the Interwebs of a Japanese research team that filmed a live Giant Squid but I can't view it since I'm at work and streaming video is classified "forbidden" here. Crap.

Well, check it out and let me know how awesome it is. Click here for the link.



**update**

Alright, I've seen the footage and it's pretty cool. Click here for another link. The squid's a juvenile and pretty small (24 ft). Can't wait until they find a full-size, 60-foot one. I'd like to see one filmed swimming freely, though. This one was apparently on its last legs (er, tentacles) and died shortly after its capture. Being hooked on a line and ripped from the ocean will do that, apparently.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Joy(sticks) to the World

For the past three years, the creators of Penny Arcade, one of my favorite webcomics, organize a charity event called Child's Play, which provides an easy way for gamers and non-gamers alike to donate videogames and other forms of entertainment to hospitals with sick children. This year, they've provided a handy map which lets you pick the hospital you'd like to donate to, then a quick jump to Amazon.com where you can see your chosen location's wish list. Just pop the item into your shopping cart then checkout and you've brought a little joy to some kids who need it.

Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, Penny Arcade's writer and artist, respectively, don't take money out for administrative fees and have raised over two million dollars over the past few years for this charity. They're at $760,000+ this year right now, so if this is something you feel like getting behind, click the following link and donate away: Child's Play 2006 (http://www.childsplaycharity.org).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Targeted for Illustration

Every so often I get to draw something fun at work. This Ah-nuld drawing I did the other day was one such instance. I wanted him to have more of that Cameron-esque, blue sheen to him, but it just looked weird so I ended up coloring him (somewhat) more naturally. Check it:























Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Nacchia Libre

Lately, I've been busy trying to tie up some loose ends as far as freelance work goes so I can concentrate on my own stuff for the coming year. One of those projects has been the creation of my roommate's website, which officially launched today. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. Hopefully, I'll be done with the revamp of my own site, soon.

Check it out, here:
MichaelCornacchia.com

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pet Project

Once again: sorry for the lack of updates. The past few weeks have seen a whirlwind of activity which has led to a shortage of time for blogging. But I hope to get back on track this week, so here's the first of a flurry of new posts:

At a get-together several months back, I met Nick Simon and Tony Fleecs, a couple of guys Michael and Mark had met when they performed Star Wars in 30 Minutes at the last Star Wars Celebration in Indianapolis. Both had recently moved out here, Nick having been accepted at AFI, and Tony with a recently published comic book. Both are Strictly Nerdcore, so we got along quite well. Anyhow, a few months later Nick helped me get into the SAG Conservatory program, and a couple months after that (two weeks back), I'm in his short, Pete and Mary's Pet Store and shooting for three days around AFI and Koreatown.

What an awesome set - everyone was very cool and professional. The crew always set up a place for us actors to lounge in, and made sure we were always well fed and watered, and basically pampered us way above and beyond. We all got along great - actress Amelia Mulkey and I particularly liked hearing the make-up lady tell us ghost stories which were supposedly true, but which I swear I've heard before as urban legends. I half expected each story to end with "And then he woke up in a bathtub filled with ice and his kidney was missing." Amelia also had a tendency to accidentally(?) poke my nipples before each take with the acrylic nails she had done for her character. I also had mock lightsaber battles in the parking lot with a precocious young actor whom I shall call "Stephen" because I can't remember his name (that might be it, though). "Stephen" and I had extensive conversations about the Star Wars Lego videogames and Pokemon, which was just straight-up rad. Equally rad was introducing the Nintendo DS rhythm-action game, Elite Beat Agents to Amelia and Mike (my other co-star) which was just hilarious because that game is just crazy. Like, Japanese-crazy. Especially to non-videogamers. In other videogame sightings on set, Tony (who did storyboards and some art direction for the production) and I got a little Yoshi's Island (the GBA ver.) action on, too. Good times.

The script by Anna was great. Really tight and a bit twisted. On the surface, it seems to be a simple story about a young guy named Jim (me) who has some bizarre adventures in a pet store. But beyond that, it's really about Jim's (metaphoric) descent into hell, and corruption by dark forces which threaten to destroy his sense of self and notion of love. Nick, as the director, was really great at guiding me along that line between pure innocence and ultimate despair. I didn't really have much time with the script (I was brought on the evening shooting began), so it was great to be able to rely on him to let me know where I could go with the character at any given time.

Wow, thinking back has made me totally miss hanging with all these people. Being on a set is always such a pressure box of emotion, time and human beings that it's no wonder you always hear of people getting involved with each other during movie shoots. I mean, this was only 3-4 days of shooting and I feel like we all went through high school together. Or maybe junior high. At least a semester in college. Point is, I hope we all continue to hang - at The Coronet, The Bigfoot Lodge, or at the fantasy barbecue Amelia conjures up when intoxicated. Mmmmm... fantasy bbq.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gears of Joy

This past Saturday I picked up Gears of War for the XBOX 360 and had a gaming session that didn't end 'til I finished it early Sunday. I really haven't done that with a videogame since the weekend Halo 2 debuted a couple of years ago, since guilt kicks in whenever I spend over an hour or so on a game console. I had no such guilt during the play time of Gears, however, and felt oddly accomplished and relieved once I was done with it. I really have to allot more time to the playing of videogames as my game pile grows larger and larger as the days pass. There's just so much other stuff to get done... *sigh*

I won't go too much into the tech aspects of the game as you can read about that on any online gaming site, other than to say it's probably the best looking game yet on the 360 and is a great showcase for my HDTV and 6.1 surround sound setup.

Yeah, the visuals and sound are amazing, but it's the gameplay that kept me going hour after hour. Although it plays somewhat like a 1st person shooter, like Halo or Call of Duty, Gears is in 3rd person, where you can see Marcus, your futuristic soldier, in front of you at all times. As such, the camera hangs behind you, as was done in Resident Evil 4, and is very fluid - it bobs and sways with your movements, and tilts at a low perspective when you run, giving it an amazingly cool CNN War Coverage/Black Hawk Down effect. Also the 1st person "run and gun" mentality must be replaced with one of the "stop and pop" variety. Basically, if you go out guns blazing, you'll be mowed down by Locust (the baddies) fire soon after. No, you'll need to make use of every boulder, car husk, burned-out sofa and concrete slab you can take cover behind, and wait for a break in enemy fire before you can reveal yourself, take aim and blow some aliens away. Then dash out and gain ground to another bit of cover, pause, and more shooting, until the area's cleared. I found this "stop and pop" action to be a lot of fun, and it didn't bore me the way more traditional shooters do after awhile. It was a little more strategic, a little more methodical, and a little more dramatic.

One area this game doesn't touch Halo in, is the story. I'd listened to podcasts of the developer, Cliffy B., talk about how he was inspired for this game by non-typical movies such as Schindler's List, American History X and Se7en, rather than the expected Aliens and Terminator movies. I took this to mean that the story would be inspired by these movies as well, not just the visuals, and the awesome, epic, emotional nature of that "Mad World" trailer before the game's launch continued those expectations, but really, that inspiration really only pertains to the visuals, and mood, here and there. Not a bad thing, I suppose, but I was expecting more than a "B" 80s action movie plot, with dialog to match. I was pretty sick of big dudes swearing constantly and yelling, "Let's do this!!!" by the end of the game. Yeah, there is a little back story to be gleaned from the dialog in places, but not much. I'm glad I picked up the Limited Edition version of the game that comes with a tin case, since an included "making of" DVD and a pretty cool little book, "Destroyed Beauty" flesh out the story a bit more. Overall though, the narrative could've used a lot of work, and could've made a great game truly awesome. As it is, I'm not as interested in a Gears of War sequel as I should be.

Other than the story and dialog though, the game gets just about everything else right. The gameplay, sound, visuals and atmosphere are just amazing and I recommend Gears highly to anyone who loves shooters and action games. The single player mode is on the short side (8-10 hours on the normal, "Casual" setting) but the game's good enough to make me want to go back and play it again on the "Hardcore" setting. I'll definitely play it co-op with friends in the near future, and I haven't really even touched the multiplayer yet. For me to want to go back and play a game again speaks highly of it, as that unplayed pile of gaming taunts me still...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Octoberfest II

Continuing my last post's recounting of my Halloween celebrations last month.

The day after going to Universal Studios (again), Mike and I drove down to Anaheim for Knott's Scary Farm's Halloween Haunt. This has been a tradition with Mike and I for about 16 years now. We used to drive down, wait with a huge mass of people for the park to open, then squeeze through the metal detectors and wait in long lines to get through the mazes and rides. Now, since we're both a little older and have better paying jobs, we buy a package deal which nets us: a commemorative shirt; hotel stay; spooky dinner; early park entry. We usually get to the hotel early and take a nap or Mike watches the college football games while I play portable videogames, then go down to the buffet and walk to the park to get in about an hour early. We hit all the mazes and rides we can before the rest of the people get in, then hit the shows and round off the night with funnel cake. This year wasn't much different except our room wasn't ready so we took naps on the couches of the hotel lobby and I played some DS while Mike went to the bar to watch the game. Knott's is definitely the best when it comes to these theme park Halloween events, and this year didn't disappoint.

The next Saturday was when the Halloween parties went into full swing. This time I was with Michael Cornacchia, and our first stop was for friend Mark Reilly's 4th Annual Spooktacular at his place in Hollywood. Mark threw the party with his roommates and girlfriend, Stacy. Costume was mandatory and since I hadn't preconceived one, I went with my old standby: The Crow. Since I'm half white, half Asian, and my hair's long at the moment, I really didn't have any other choice -- I mean, I barely even need makeup. When we got there at around 10:30pm, the party was already in full swing, with Greatest American Heroes, Nacho Libres and Nintendo characters spilling out of the house and onto the lawn. The place was packed and it took many minutes to get through the living room to the kitchen to drop off beer and pick up some taquitos. Some partygoers went all out on their costumes - my favorites of which were Mario and Luigi, although seeing Mario downing a Bud and Luigi burning through a Parliament dulled the magic a bit.










After some taquitos and alcohol, we left the Spooktacular and made our way over to La Cienega in West Hollywood for the Southern Discomfort - A Sinister Soiree party hosted by Michael's brother, Chris Cornacchia and friends' Amy, Bevin, Charity and Ronya among others. They rented the House of Petals venue, dressed the place up in "devilish decor", had a dj pumping tunes, and invited a ton of people, all in costume for the event. When we first arrived and were let through the gate, the first people I bumped into were the awesome couple, K.P. and B.Lee - fully decked out in Matrix gear, playing dodge ball with a team of guys wearing Dodge Ball (the movie) uniforms. Not sure who won, but it was fun to watch. Mike and I hung for awhile, then walked down a few blocks to Norms and got breakfast.

The day after, I met Fig and a couple of his friends, Heidi and Erin, down in Long Beach to check out, *deep breath*, Queen Mary's ShipWreck 12th Annual Halloween Terror Fest. I hadn't been to the Queen Mary's Halloween event in a long time, probably at least 5 years or more, so I was happy to see they've upped their game since the last time I was there. They had four mazes on the ship and three off, with a big dance party in the "Dome of Doom" where the Spruce Goose used to be housed. They could still do a lot more with it, but since winding your way through the dark bowels of the Queen Mary is already pretty creepy, I found it to be fun, even when a monster followed us out of the ship to get me in trouble for taking pictures in the maze. Management wanted me to go back to the car to drop the offending piece of gear off, until I played dumb and pulled my Treo out, which they found to be "maze safe", since it didn't have a flash.

A couple of days later on the 31st, when Halloween finally came around, I drove to Valencia for Mike's (my brother-in-law) and my annual, Mr. Spooky's Haunted House for the kiddies in the neighborhood. Every year we make the garage of his house into a creepy den of evil, complete with skeletons, strobe lights, fog and sound effects. I play Mr. Spooky, a 2000 year old disembodied spirit who teases and taunts the kids into entering our terrifying domain in search of candy. Mike and I usually get loaded outside while my sister (his wife) makes tons of food for family and friends inside. It's always a good time and I hung out there until about 10:30pm when I left to go meet up with some friends who were partying in West Hollywood. Unfortunately, by the time I made it out of the Valley, the area around WeHo was so completely packed with people and cars, it took me what felt like hours to get even close to the neighborhood. By the time I made it to my apartment, my friend Mitch was already passed out back at her place and my other friends were wrapping up their festivities.

That night I slept quite soundly, content in the knowing that Halloween was behind me. I had a great October, and loved hanging with friends and partying, and dressing in costume, and eating candy, but enough. Seriously. At least until next year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Octoberfest

Well, yet another Halloween has come and gone and all I want to do is to curl up in a ball and sleep for a week. There's only so much Halloween fun I can take and I reached my limit about a week before October 31st even got here.

The festivities started the first week of October when my brother-in-law Mike and I went to Magic Mountain's Fright Fest in Valencia. My sister Laura, and friends Elena, Steve, Don and Debbie also came along for the scares. This event is usually a good warmer-upper to the Halloween season as Magic Mountain generally doesn't have a lot of scary stuff to check out which means you can get through the whole park pretty quickly. In that way, this year did not disappoint. However, in lieu of there being few scares via mazes or spectacles, we usually take to the roller coasters to fill the time, which, this year, were either not working (as was the case with Tatsu, which broke down after we had stood in line for 40 minutes) or understaffed (as was the case with The Riddler's Revenge, which took over an hour to ride as it seemed they only had one car going on the tracks at a time). Overall, lame. Although I'm sure we'll be back next year.

The following Friday I went to Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights with friends Kurtis, Kellie and Mitch. Kurtis had won the tickets by calling in to local radio station KROQ (I heard his call. Didn't realize it was him) so we all got in for free. We huddled in a light, misty rain, with the other KROQ people before being herded onto a tram (MC'd by KROQ DJ Psycho Mike and a Universal employee) which took us directly into the park, allowing us to bypass the entry crowds. Cool.

The tram ride was decidedly PG-13 as we were regaled with True Hollywood Stories of a young starlet throwing herself off the Hollywood Sign, an actress being eaten by a starving pet after a fatal bender, and an Old Hollywood Star being killed with a black dildo forced down his throat. These more mature stories were told only to us KROQ folk, as we soon found out an hour or so later as we were waiting in line for The Mummy ride. For some reason, known only to him, Kurtis suddenly turned to an African American couple behind us and asked, "So, on the tram ride, did they tell you about Ramon Navarro being killed by the black dildo being shoved down his throat?" I don't remember the couple saying anything. They just exchanged nervous glances and tried to ignore the question. Kurtis pressed on. "Did they? Because on our tram they told us about this BLACK dildo that killed this guy." One of them shook their head "no," slowly at this point, obviously trying to get the crazy man to drop the subject. "Seriously. A BLACK DILDO." Kurtis then turns back to a horrified Kellie, Mitch and me. "Right guys? Remember the BLACK DILDO!?" I look at him like I have no idea what he's talking about and say, "Noooo," quietly. Kurtis then tries to get Kellie and Mitch to back him up. "Tell them! The BLACK DILDO!!!" It's at this point that the line starts moving and the three of us turn from Kurtis and just walk away.

After The Mummy, someone had the bright idea to go on the Jurassic Park water ride, and for some reason, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Now, to make it scary, Universal decided to turn off all the lights during the ride, which made the whole thrill of seeing animatronic dinosaurs a completely futile endeavor. I could hear them and get splashed by them, I just couldn't see them. They might as well have sat us all on a waterbed in a dark room for five minutes since the experience would've been the same. Until the drop at the end, that is. For those that haven't been on the ride, you're basically in a large boat that goes by harmless Brachiasaurs and Hadrosaurs, all the while being spit at and chased (kinda) by Dilophosaurs, Raptors and a big Tyrannosaur. At the end, you must escape the Jurassic Park complex by plummeting down a big chute, at the bottom of which you get splashed by water. Unfortunately, I didn't get splashed so much as drenched. And it was cold out. And I was wearing layers of clothing that took a long time to dry. And I had friends that were pointing and laughing and taking pictures (Mitch!!!).

We all got kinda bored with the park soon after, exited and had drinks and dessert at the Hard Rock on CitiWalk. Fun.

A week later, I found myself back at Universal Studios again, this time with Mike. The tram ride was better than the previous week, due to Universal putting some scripted scary elements outside the tram that weren't there the first time, even if the banter from our guide was strictly PG. No mention of BLACK dildos this time around, and I really didn't miss it.

It wasn't too crowded and Mike and I got through all the mazes, rides and shows pretty quickly. I think we entered the park between 7 and 8pm, and were done by 11:30pm. Universal really doesn't do too much to the park to transform it into a "Horror Night" and while better than Magic Mountain, it's just kinda mediocre.

This was going to be a quick post, but it has gotten to be much less so. I gotta go and vote though, so I'll post this up now and finish the rest later. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of Octoberfest - I promise not to mention dildos, BLACK or otherwise, for at least a couple of weeks.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Bad

Sorry I haven't blogged in awhile. I'm not sure why it's been so long. I have lots to write about; tons of changes going on, I just haven't been typing the words. Weird. I'll have to rectify that immediately.

I'm sure I've lost some readers during this unscheduled hiatus over the past few weeks, so thanks for sticking with me if you're still reading this. I promise to post again and be back to regularly scheduled programming very soon.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Beverly Hills: That's Where I Want to Be

Lots of other stuff to post about, so this will conclude the rundown of some great parties I attended over the summer.

I didn't really know what to expect when my roommate Michael invited me to this party, just that it was being thrown on Labor Day by his buddy Eli and it was kind of near our apartment in West Hollywood. Well, normally, the parties in Hollywood are all East of Doheny, so when we drove up to Sunset and took a left, and continued West past Doheny and into Beverly Hills, my interest was piqued. Interest increased when we passed several mansions, including Tom Cruise's compound, and then started looking for a place to park, and more so when we waited to be cleared by security and allowed to move inside the high walls protecting the property. Interest maxed when we walked through the mansion, which seemed straight out of Silver Spoons, and into the backyard, which was straight out of The O.C. or Beverly Hills 90210. I mean, when I've watched those shows, I'm always like, "Do hot, rich people really get together on the weekends and swim and play volleyball in skimpy clothing?" Turns out Yes. Yes they do.

Michael started off the party with a bang (and a splash) when we got there, by changing into his swim trunks and doing a huge bomb into the (saline) pool. Unfortunately, Vicki's parents were sitting poolside and got completely drenched by the ensuing tidal wave. Now, I don't know if this was an accident and Michael was really trying to bomb the kids in the pool, or if he was oblivious to everyone sitting nearby or what, but most of us onlookers were in a disbelief for several seconds after Hurricane Cornacchia before we all rushed over with towels and condolences. Pictured here are the events as they took place:







Michael does a mighty bomb into the pool, not noticing...







...Gilda and Jim








Us, horrified, mouths agape (especially Kari Peyton)









Too little, too late

The party got even better after the pool shenanigans, when I wandered into the house and found myself in the entertainment room, where they had a huge screen set up for movie screenings... and an arcade! I played some Pac-Man while
Amy Claire was on the Austin Powers pinball machine. Pretty much any place or party that has an arcade is awesome, I'm just saying.

I did some wandering around the backyard after Pac-Man, and after passing the outdoor billiards table, basketball/tennis court, ping-pong table and volleyball net, I came upon a large koi pond, some sort of clubhouse straight out of the Tarzan Treehouse at Disneyland and a trampoline nestled into the landscaping. Must've been a cool place to grow up, seriously.









At some point during the day, Kari and I signed up for massages ('cuz of course they'd have a masseur at the party. Doesn't everyone?), and by the time I got back from my tour, he was ready for me. Damn if I didn't get the best massage I've had in years! Just the right amount of pain and pleasure - I actually had bruises on my neck for a few days after but it was totally worth it. If I could afford it, I'd have one of these twice a week. Wow.

Anyway, I could go on, but I'll end here and I haven't even mentioned the food yet (an ongoing onslaught of sandwiches, gourmet burgers, pizza, fudge fountains with strawberries and ice cream throughout the day). Needless to say, I gotta start bringing in the coin. Middle class has been fun, but filthy rich is better.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Paper Faces on Parade

Continuing the rundown of some great parties I attended this summer.

To celebrate their birthdays, friends Mitch (& her dad), Kurtis and Scott threw a big party at the Bedford Abode in Northridge. The theme was "Masquerade" and we were all to come dressed in "Mad Hats, Makeup and Masks," which we pretty much all did.

Although initially concerned with what I was going to wear, I found a Chinese mask in a little shop near my apartment for a $1.50, and discovered a gold silk shirt in my closet my uncle in Hawaii had given me years ago, but which (for obvious reasons) I had never worn. I mixed those together and I was ready to party. Unfortunately, the mask kept gouging into my face and the shirt felt strange on my skin so I abandoned the outfit fairly early.

Lots of eating and drinking was going on by the time I got there, with the jello shots and pitchers of "Man-tinis" (Kurtis's "manly" version of the decidedly "less manly" Apple Martini, his drink of choice) being the hits. Kurtis had set-up a projector and screen outside, so we did some big screen karaoke before I busted out the Guitar Hero. John displayed some skillz, but was no match for my star power + eye lasers (see image for proof). During this, a faction started a short game of poker which I didn't get in on, and others began roasting marshmelons for smores, which I did.

The party was a lot of fun, despite Mitch's false assertion that there would be prizes given out. Then again, she was wearing a gold bikini, and it's amazing what kind of shit you can get away with when wearing one of those things.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Never Enough Aloha

Continuing the rundown of some great parties I attended this summer. Sorry I've been lax in posting lately. Due to that art class I've been taking, some freelance work I've been doing and a quick trip to Philly last week, I just haven't had a lot of time. Anyway, I'll try and keep the next several entries short so I can post them quickly and regularly. Here we go!

So you may remember I was in Oahu a few months back, helping to celebrate the wedding of friends, Ric and Courtney. Well, for the friends and family who couldn't make it, the happy couple brought the Spirit of Aloha to the mainland last month, with another big celebration of their wedding.

It took place at Courtney's parent's house in Yorba Linda where the guests sat at several tables set up on the lawn, surrounded by tiki torches. The food and drink were served on a big deck attached to the house and included some yummy Mexican dishes (mmm, enchiladas) and a "serve yourself" margarita maker (mmm, pina coladas!).

Lots of fun people were there, including two with some portable game gear going on. Fortunately, I had brought my trusty Nintendo DS and PSP, so it was on. The gaming didn't last too long, but I think I made a convert out of Fig and Court's Disney peep, Romi, who seemed to really dig New Super Mario Bros. on my DS.

Good times. Especially since there was no danger of me being stung by poisonous creatures (although someone did fall off the deck and into a huge potted plant, butt-first). It was great seeing people I had spent time with in Hawaii again, as well as meeting some cool, new people. Nice to wrap up the wedding in Hawaii with a celebration like this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Dee List

Continuing the rundown of some great parties I attended this summer.

My acting teacher, Dee Wallace (you may have caught her in the hilarious show, Sons & Daughters last season, or, y'know, E.T.) has two big parties at her house every year - one during the summer and one for New Year's. While I don't ever make it to her New Year's party (family obligations and all), I always try to go to her Summer party, as it's a blast everytime.

There's usually music, dancing, food, swimming, karaoke and alcohol to be had, and this year was no exception. I was the first on the mic for karaoke, and there was just no way for me to drink enough, fast enough for my song to be any good. Only after I had enough imbibed (as signified by the pink feather boa and glow-y headband, pictured) could I truly rock out.

We received the news a few weeks ago that Dee was closing down her acting studio after September, Cambodian breast milk be damned. Hopefully she'll continue her parties, and invite us all back again to party with her.














Yes, there was mad hula-hooping at this party, too. But without fire, I found myself unimpressed.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Gettin' School'd

I've been to some cool parties over the past few weeks, and have been meaning to blog about them. Here's the first, and one of the coolest: The Birthday Party of the lovely and talented Vicki Davis, which took place the last Friday of July in Hollywood. The theme was "Back 2 Skool" so we were all to come dressed in prep school outfits - no exceptions. If you didn't come dressed appropriately, you didn't get in.

I arrived with Cornacchia and Luiggi Debiasse, and after making our way through the balloon archway leading into the backyard, we found ourselved in the "yearbook photo" area where our pictures were taken, to be later used in a video presentation memorializing the event. School spirit banners and posters adorned the walls, with candy and 80's themed wrist-wear covering the tables. Mini corndogs and grilled cheese triangles were the Hors d'Oeuvres and cafeteria food was the main course - hot dogs and pizza, of course.

After some fevered dancing on the basketball court to the 80's rock-stylings of Depeche Mode, Prince, Simple Minds, etc., we were all cleared to the bleachers where we sat and watched hula-hoop-sporting strippers. This was pretty spectacular enough, but when they lit their hula-hoops on fire and continued their steamy gyrations, minds were blown.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto is Dead

Poor Pluto.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to School

This past Wednesday I attended the first of 8 classes in Stephen Silver's Character Design class. It takes place from 7 - 10pm once a week, and Stephen teaches it in a small studio next to his house. He likes to be able to be very one-on-one with his students, so keeps the classes maxed out at 6 students, which is awesome, as we get so much personal attention.

Stephen's animation work has been an inspiration for me for a while now. His character designs have always blown me away so I jumped at the chance to get in his class when I found out about it. You've probably seen his stuff in the Clerks Animated Series or his work for Disney and Nickelodeon with Kim Possible and Danny Phantom, both of which he's the lead Character Designer for. He's got a couple of books out, too, which are always around in comic shops. He's great at caricatures and, well, pretty great at everything - he can go from cartoony to naturalistic, and is incredible at both.

This first class was pretty much just an introduction to what we'll be doing throughout the rest of the semester. He gave us an overview on his philosophy of what makes great character design, talked about how he goes about keeping up his skills and showed us a lot of the stuff he's worked on and the stuff that inspires him (Frazetta, Rockwell, Struzan). He also gave us homework, which I haven't had in a while. It's a lot of work, but it should be fun.

Between Stephen's instruction and the sheer amount of drawing we'll be doing in this class, my artwork should improve tremendously. Can't wait to see how it affects 60 and my (still) upcoming webcomic.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Con III : Partners in Awesome

Wrapping up my adventures at the San Diego Comic Con with John.

So on Sunday morning, John and I checked out of the hotel, then stopped at Denny's for some food, as there just wasn’t a lot of breakfast places around there. I haven’t been to Denny’s in a long time, and after my experience at this one, I can safely say I won’t be back there again anytime soon. Here’s what happened: I had ordered a 3-stack of pancakes and was taking my time buttering them when, upon raising the top two to get to the bottom one, was surprised to see half of it was missing. I couldn’t tell if it had been half eaten or if I had just gotten a mutant flapjack or if half had been torn off on the griddle or what. Regardless, it was disconcerting, so I called the waitress over:

Me: Excuse me, but (holding up the half-pancake), I’m not sure if this is someone’s leftovers or what but…
Waitress: Oh, (taking it and throwing it away) I’ll get you another one, don’t worry about it.

I wait patiently for a minute as she goes to the kitchen and comes back. John, meanwhile, is finding this whole exchange hysterical.

Me: (getting her attention, then pointing to the two pancakes left) Yeah, I'm probably not going to eat these so…
Waitress: (cutting me off, suddenly realizing) …why don’t I get you a whole new order.

John and I would be recalling this repeatedly over the drive home to much laughter, which made the whole Denny’s trip worth it.

We got back to L.A. around 4:30pm, I think. Just in time too, ‘cuz I had a callback for a Honda commercial soon after which I totally nailed and was sure I booked, but found out a couple days later that I hadn’t. After the audition in W. Hollywood I had to motor over to my parent’s house in the Valley for my niece’s birthday celebration. By the time I got back home that night I was completely exhausted and had no problems falling asleep and pretty much stayed asleep (which is rare) until my alarm clock woke me for work the next morning. I still don’t think I’ve quite recovered.

In the end, we got some feedback, some interest, and our proposal into the hands of some cool people. There’s still a bit of work I need to do before we formally send our full proposal out to the contacts we’ve made, but I should be able to get that done in the next week or two. Hopefully, if we make the trip again next year, it will be as industry professionals. Despite the crowds and overwhelming size of the convention, I had a lot of fun. Sometimes I can’t hang for too long with some of my friends, as we get tired and cranky of each other after a while, but hanging with John was a total blast the entire time. If that makes us “partners”, then so be it.

But I swear we didn’t share the bed.