Friday, June 26, 2009

X-Files: My Face Is Out There

As you may have read here last year, I wound up on the set of Chris Carter's movie X-Files: I Want To Believe. While Chris and another friend of his were both somewhat certain I made it into the final cut of the film, neither I nor my friends were able to find me when we went to the theater to see it. Aaaargh! Unfortunately, seeing the movie once is enough and I gave up after the first viewing.

Months later, the DVD came out and I figured I would try the deleted scenes to see if I hiding in there somewhere. Nope. I tried combing the two main emergency room sequences. Sure enough, while running scene 12 (where Skully is doing the stem cell operation on the terminally ill boy) in slow motion, I found a few spots with me! Whohoo!


Me staring at Skully and the incoming big-ass needle, second one over from the left (the only nurse with chest hair).


I am in the background on the upper left, pointing at the X-ray panel for no reason.


Closer view of me pointing at the X-ray panel, left side.


I'm dead center, facing away from camera standing at the foot of the stretcher.

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posted by Brian at 9:55 AM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bootie LA with surprise cameo from B-52's lead singer

I went to my second Bootie LA event last night. Last time around, the venue had a packed upstairs for dancing and a somewhat chill downstairs. Both played mash-ups, though the downstairs ones were particularly bold combinations (Tom Jones "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone" over Blondie's "The Tide is High", The Muppets Mahna Mahna over several different tunes, etc.) while the upstairs stuck to more straightforward, though still novel arrangements including one with Salt N Pepa's "Push It" on top of Grease's "Tell me More". The crowds at these things seem to be diverse, not your typical "L.A." crowd. At the last one, I saw people dressed as Vikings and pirates, something you'd expect at a Comic Con party, not an L.A. club.

Last night's was at a larger venue, the Echoplex. The dancing area was still a dense sea of people, but there were more places to sit or even dance further away from the main area. Unfortunately though, I wasn't quite as impressed with the musical selection this time. (I think that's most of the fun at these Bootie L.A events -- the "Oh wow" of recognition when you hear two songs you know being thrown together and having it work.) Still, there were some highlights:
  • Yaz's Situation vs. Foreigner's Urgent
  • Nirvana's Come As You Are vs. a 70s funk groove
  • Toni Basil's Mickey vs. Material Girl vs. Quiet Riot's Cum On Feel the Noise
  • DJ Dangermouse's 99 Problems vs. Nena's 99 Luftballoons
  • Diana Ross's Upside Down vs. Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Right Round
  • Fergie's Fergilicious vs Salt N' Pepa's Supersonic vs Push It
Sometime later, the DJ got up and introduced a special guest: Fred Schneider of the B-52s! So I swam through the sea of people to shake his hand.

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posted by Brian at 5:03 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 10, 2008

Life as an Accidental Movie Extra

So yes, if you partake in extra-curricular activities in Los Angeles, there is always the random, remote chance you'll meet someone who'll invite you to a film shoot. If this happens, you will wind up on a movie set unexpectedly. Since there's generally not much exciting to do, the casting director or director (if he/she knows you and the scene calls for it) might very well ask if you "Do you want to be in the movie?"

The answer should be "Yes" with the following caveats:
  1. It will involve waiting.
  2. You might not get more than 5 minutes during the day to talk to your friend, who will be busy non-stop.
  3. It may take all day; possibly two or more.
  4. It will mean you are part of the hierarchy, somewhere below actors and crew.
  5. You will likely meet very interesting people, some who do this sort of thing a lot, others like you, find themselves here for the first time.
  6. You will probably feel like a pawn, with assistant directors giving you vague, sometimes nonsensical instructions just before the rehearsal; Those instructions might be irrelevant as soon as the camera rolls.
  7. Asking anyone "What is happening next?" will result in "I don't know" up until after it happens.
  8. You may feel uncomfortable, over-caffeinated and tired, but once it's all over and done with, you have the chance of being in something seen by millions of people.

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posted by Brian at 2:07 PM 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Truth is Up Here

I'm in Vancouver rather suddenly, pretending to be a nurse on an upcoming movie. Not allowed to take photos, sadly.

Why? Well it has to do with who I met in DJ class back in April of '07, the creator of the 90's sci-fi paranormal activity TV show, The X-Files.

UPDATE: Saw Mr. Carter at an X-Files panel at the Arclight. He told me "You're in the movieee..." as he signed my autograph book. Whohoo!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Beauty & The Beast @ the Arclight Tonight

Ah, What a lovely movie poster design.

Disney's B & B was, I think, the last mainstream animated film to use proper voice-actors in its main cast. Ok, there were a few celebrities (Broadway legends) playing Lumiere & Mrs. Potts, but the leads were talented actor/singers and voice-actors not A-List film actors thrown in to attract audiences. After this, Aladdin, Lion King, and pretty much every film of theirs after that casted as many big name non-voice actors as possible. PDI's first film Antz had Woody Allen, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, and every CG film after that (Shrek, Shark's Tale, Over the Hedge, etc) focused entirely on big-name actors.

B & B has an amazingly sophisticated score (written by two Broadway composers), which is why it made it later a great Broadway Musical. While Tim Rice (Lion King) has a history of writing musicals, he pales as a lyricist compared to the late Howard Ashman. (Why anyone decided Elton John (Lion King) or Phil Collins (Tarzan) should write animated musicals is beyond me.) Melodically, every song is memorable (despite some self-plagiarism -- "Be Our Guest" is basically "Le Poisson" from Little Mermaid.)

There's just something very romantic about this movie in a way unmatched by any animated film since. I suppose we're more cynical now. We prefer "chemistry" (lust), sarcasm, and South Park-ian humor now, which is fine, but I do miss the naivety, beauty, and timelessness of this film.

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posted by Brian at 2:51 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

AFI 40th Anniversary Online Ticket Sales Fiasco


We all know what it's like when there's some big event that we're all dying to see. Not long ago, if we wanted a ticket to it, we'd have to camp out in front of the ticket office, days earlier even, to be reasonably certain we'd have a shot at getting in. And while most of us probably wouldn't camp out, we'd possibly be thinking "God, I'd never do that, but hey, that guy should get in. He's crazy enough to do it, he should get in."

Today, much of life is online. We sit at home or at work, our eyes and hands attached to computer screens and keyboards. (Or, you have an iPhone and fondle it all day, but I digress) Tickets become available for purchase on websites. Ideally, people get ready to order at a certain time, click their way through the ordering process, and if tickets sell out, they are told immediately. Tickets can then be printed and voila. No waiting in the rain overnight.

This is not what happened last night for the American Film Institute's 40th Anniversary film screenings. Yes, one should expect an exceedingly high demand. After all, when in your life have you the opportunity to choose to see any one of these:
  • Star Wars, presented by George Lucas?
  • When Harry Met Sally..., presented by Billy Crystal & Rob Reiner?
  • The Shawshank Redemption, presented by Morgan Freeman?
and 8 other films with insane celebrity-ness?

I applaud AFI's choice of screening the films at the Arclight. However, Arclight Cinemas online ticketing system is infamous for having a lousy web-server architecture that buckles under any sort of ticket demand. AFI went with a third party solution for email registrations and notifications called Convio. They were SUPPOSED to email registerees with news and "tickets are now on sale" reminders, one would hope well before there was no chance of getting them.

Last night at roughly 12:05 AM I checked my email. Hmm, no AFI announcements. I checked the AFI page. "Tickets are on sale! Buy now!" Huh. Clicked the link, which redirected to Arclight's main AFI listing page. I picked "Star Wars". My cursor spun and spun for about 3 minutes. Then, a text page with XML errors, spitted out by a Microsoft ASP web server. Not a good sign! I opened up two more tabs in my browser -- maybe the site hadn't started selling tickets yet and the techs at Arclight were getting things ready. For those I selected "Shawshank Redemption" and "When Harry Met Sally..." More XML error pages. About ten minutes later, I finally got a page asking me how many tickets to look for. Yay!

I noticed it allowed one to buy up to 10 tickets, just like for their normal movies. Damn, that's not a good idea at all. There are maybe 400 seats in a theatre. Does that mean the first 40 people to log in could take all the seats??? Hardly a fair policy. I tried 2 Star Wars tickets. Very long pause. Another XML error page. Shit! Then I tried just asking for 1. Nope. Server crash. The other two movies just hung forever and I finally set them to go to the Arclight front page and clicked back in. I tried other Arclight services just to see if it was movie demand or some critical failure on their backend. Tried requesting my password. "Sorry, not available" on a page with garbled HTML. Huh! Good job, Arclight techs. AFI (sponsored by Target) would be proud.

On and on this went, constantly managing three tabs, trying all movies till 1:40 in the morning. At 12:30 AM, I received my first email: "AFI Tickets are now on Sale!" Gee, thanks -- there are none left, you schmucks. Getting to any sort of real pages was tedious and rare. Nearly always, XML server errors. I did manage to get to a few "Sorry, there are no seats available" screens eventually, but even those were difficult and slow to get. This server was getting the crap beaten out of it by something and I don't think it was hundreds of people all doing what I was doing. If the scenario were the first hundred people all logged in asking for 10 seats each, a normal web-server could have handled it and let everybody else know "Sorry, there are no seats." But Arclight's was choking to death.

And that leads me to my suspicion, which my coworker colleagues who know a lot about web-server architecture agree with. The Arclight was probably hit with a MASSIVE attack of automation scripts (called "robots") designed to order tickets. These guys could (theoretically) hit the site hundreds if not thousands of time per second, choosing 10, 9, 8... down to 1 tickets over and over. Arclight has absolutely NO ROBOT prevention in their system. No password check, no captcha's (those annoying things where you have to type letters you see). I bet you $$$ that if one were to check the server logs, there would be a dense pattern of activity unnatural to human beings.

The result of course is that nobody I know got tickets. The only movies available in the morning were for Spartacus and Beauty & the Beast. (I bought 2 of these as a consolation prize to myself for all that wasted time.) How could anyone have? Now some enterprising folks can charge $100+ for tickets that were $25 (although I have not seen these up online yet. Let me know if you do.)

Nobody camped out the night before. There's nobody to say "Oh, well you fool, you deserve it." to. There is no good side of this story, only pathetic planning, poor technology, and probably lots of money spent on worthless marketing, since their was no way for anyone (short of a hacker) to buy these tickets.

I just hope the AFI decides to go with competent partners for its 45th Anniversary.

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posted by Brian at 11:21 AM 1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Celebrity Sighting: Matt Groening


I got home from work and thought I'd bring my recently-acquired Macbook Pro from work to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Fairfax and try out its Wifi, and possibly catch up on my Harry Potter reading. On my way though I had this urge to stop by Meltdown Comics on Sunset to see if they might have any of the vinyl Ugly Dolls left.

Nope. But everyone seemed to be gathering in the back gallery for some reason. A-ha! An exhibit of artist-painted Bart Simpson dolls. Cool! A DJ. An unattended bar with signs reminding people not to bring the drinks outdoors, yet no alchohol in sight (Darn!) Lots of cool mutations of Bart Simpson and a decent number of people snapping photos of them. Then, the back of a green-shirted man in a corridor blocked by people, including a little girl and her mother. "Can I have your autograph?" spoke the mother. "Surree... for you?" spoke an oddly familiar voice. "No, for her please." I looked down and saw the girl smiling, holding a sketch of the face of Lisa Simpson on a Post-it™ note. Oooh!

So I pondered my options. I did not happen to have my sketchbook (which has autographs and sometimes sketches from people like Joss Whedon, Ray Harryhausen, Weird Al Yankovic, Stan Winston, Brian Froud, the creators of Making Fiends, et al.) Doh! I snapped this quick shot of Mr. Groening as he admired the work of a particular artist (whose name I neglected to find out). Briefly considered having him sign some random flat piece of paper or brochure... Naaa. I calculated how long it would take me to walk back home and get my sketchbook and come back -- would Matt still be here? Debated whether I could live without the effort and just go about my evening plans, but as I left I decided I would give it a go.

Made it back in the nick of time! Matt was nearly at the front of the store, while about eight people were in a nebulous line near him holding things they'd just bought for him to sign. More people were in line at the counter buying things behind us and presumably going to enter this line, so I jumped in with my sketchbook. Matt gratiously took photos with and autographed stuff for folks, though about two people in front of me he mentioned to his security guard that the "guy in the hat" would be the last one (somewhere behind me). Phew!

So I got to shake hands, congrulate him on his successful Simpsons movie and mention my eagerness for the Futuruma DVDs I heard him talk about at Comic Con. "Oh yes, they're going to be really cool," he said while drawing a Homer Simpson head in my sketchbook, signing it. Whohoo!

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posted by Brian at 10:58 PM 1 comments links to this post

Friday, April 06, 2007

DJ 101 Finished. DJ 151 next?

Just had my last DJ class. Since our class of about 15 was slightly ahead of schedule, DJ Hapa gave us some material covered in the next class which focuses completely on mixing and beatmatching. This turns out to be the primary task of a DJ -- not taking song requests, not chatting with ladies. Nope. The DJ has to manually tweak the turntable such that the beat of the next song coming up is synchronized to the one playing. He or she does this by keeping the headphones on one ear, cueing up the song and adjusting the tempo bar on the turntable to speed it up or slow it down, doing this over and over again until it sounds right and time to bring it on.

And damn it's hard. I got it working during a practice round, but during a contest with Hapa playing an unfamiliar song (and a hip-hop tune where the chorus and verses were almost identical), I faired poorly. There was one nerdy guy in the room who mastered it quickly, getting every mix point correct. (Gimp!) We all got parts of it right though, which Hapa and his TA Matchity told us was unusual.

After that, a few alumni came in and told us how now they're doing tours, playing in groups, and having a great time making a living at this stuff. Next weekend is our graduation day, filled with lots of music and scratching and food. We all get diplomas (with our DJ names) and a card that gives us access to the Scratch academy equipment whenever we want (sweet!). Should be fun.

Incidentally, two guys in my class complimented me on my class DJ name, "Lord Banjo". They asked how I came up with it, having checked google to see if it was a reference to something. (Nope. It's a chat room handle I made up 10 years ago.) Said it would look good on a marquee. When I asked what they did (besides DJing), they said they worked on the TV show, X-Files. I checked today on IMDB. They didn't just work on it -- one is the Creator! Whoa! Only in LA.

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posted by Brian at 3:38 PM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bill Nye The Science Guy -- Lindy Hopper?

On Thursday night, my sociology professor friend Constance invited me to come to Lindygroove, a weekly lindy-hop dance at the Pasadena Masonic Temple every Thursday. You have to understand, I am chronically inept at any couples dance, despite being extremely good at solo dancing. Lindy-hop is the rocket-science of couples dancing, so for everyone's sake, I just went to watch her and the surprisingly large group of folks (> 100) twirling to and fro.

One of those twirling was Bill Nye The Science Guy, wearing a black & white horizontal-striped shirt (reminiscent of those old cartoon burglars). Constance had encountered and danced with him several times before, so after their second twirl-session, she introduced him to me.

He had nothing but great things to say about Lindy-hopping. "You've got to try it, Brian," Bill pleaded, just before he whisked her away for another set.

To me, it looks like lassoing, belly-dancing, and trying to tap-dance on a crowded merry-go-round, all in time with music and without hurting or otherwise humiliating oneself in front of a total stranger of the opposite sex.

Constance is very good at it though. And I suspect, when she has her house-warming party, Mr. Nye will be one of the guests!

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posted by Brian at 2:21 PM 1 comments links to this post

Monday, August 15, 2005

Emo Phillips and I



Emo is performing at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood, Mondays @ 8 PM until October.

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posted by Brian at 11:43 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Malcovich, Malcovich!

Behold! Mr. Spike Jonze & Charlie Kaufman, director and writer of one of my favorite movies, Being John Malcovich, were both around after an Arclight screening for Q & A.


Spike Jonze, looking a bit scared, and me, looking giddy.

Charlie Kaufman, who loved my shirt of Charlotte from Making Fiends.
Amy Winfrey has a famous fan!

I asked Charlie (as he was signing someone else's autograph) "Do you like puppets?" and he turned his said to say "Yes! I love puppets!" But that's about all I was able to find out, as a young woman approached me to chat about that same topic.

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posted by Brian at 1:31 AM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 25, 2004

Joss Whedon's Kerry/Edwards Fundraising Party

Joss, the genius behind Buffy the Vampyre Slayer and Angel, and some folks from the aint-it-cool-news.com website decided to host Kerry parties around the country. At the L.A. party I went to, Joss and various cast members from his shows conducted a conference call to unite all the parties, and answer questions. His mood was both festive and firm -- a lot more is at stake at this election than whether Republicans win or Democrats win. In Joss's mind, Bush is neither.

My friend & Sony Imageworks co-worker Jessica, and her boyfriend Jeff also attended. Having them there (and drinking an outrageously-priced rum & coke) made bearable the surreality of it all.

More Photos Coming soon!


Me and Joss Whedon, Genius Extraordinaire. (He's also the son of Tom Whedon, who was head writer of The Electric Company!)

Me and Alyson Hannigan (Willow)

Me and Amy Acker (Fred). She's from Texas too!

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posted by Brian at 1:29 PM 0 comments links to this post