Monday, November 24, 2008

Help Save Gideon

I saw a heartwarming story on the news last night about a German Shepherd dog that was hit by a car. His name is Gideon and he has 6 months of painful recovery ahead of him. If you can spare a few bucks for the cause, please visit Coastal German Shepherd Rescue.

In addition to Gideon, they have dozens of dogs looking for adoption. Each dog has a bio and photos. Some even have video to show you their personality. You can't help but fall in love.

I would adopt a dog myself, except I live in a tiny apartment and that's really not fair for a big dog. But having gown up with a German Shepherd, I can say they are loyal friends who, given love and attention, will protect you to the end.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I wrapped my final day on Eleventh Hour at a glorious 10:30am and decided to treat myself to a movie. After all, I had worked that day; I just had the entire day left to slack off, guilt free. So I wandered in to an early showing of Danny Boyle's new film, Slumdog Millionaire. And walked out charged with energy.

It's not often a film moves me. I think most movies these days are either effects heavy shells of a story, or course, teenage boy humor. Slumdog is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films I've ever seen. It's centered around a boy, Jamal, who gets onto the Hindi version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and, remarkably, seems to know every question he's asked. More remarkable, is that Jamal is not any boy, but a humble, uneducated street kid, a so-called slumdog. Instantly, he is accused of cheating.

The film is told in fashback. We bounce back from the quiz show to Jamal's early childhood and discover how specific events shaped him and his knowledge. It's a simple device, but it works. I was drawn in instantly by the sheer honesty of the performances from a cast of young kids who are too young to have much, if any, acting experience. I am reminded of why I do what I do, when I see films like this. I'm also ashamed when I watch a 5 year old kid deliver a performace that is better than anything I could put out.

Slumdog is more than a poor-kid-makes-good tale. It's an extraordinary story of enduring love and the rights of passage. How the smallest choices affect our lives. It's an unflinching portrayal of extreme poverty and at the same time disarmingly funny. Beautifully shot, with a thumping soundtrack and characters you can't take your eyes off. So what if I was being played at times - I was happy to go along for the ride. And you will be too.

Go see it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Driven Round the Bend

I was on my way to Simi Valley (who isn't, these days), when my car started making very strange noises. Grinding noises. Metal on metal noises. It sounded like the vehicle was in pain. Excruciating pain. I limped along, as the car lost power and barely made it my destination.

After a rewarding trip to the garage, I was told I needed a new transmission mount. I believed the mechanic, as he showed me the black gunky rubber thing (the mount) was looking particularly gunky and degraded. There was barely anything left. Leaving trusty mechanic Simon to the task, I ventured off on my bike for a long coffee, only to be informed I also needed new engine mounts. Seeing as I had been told as much before, I bit the bullet and gave him the go-ahead.

I know car repairs aren't cheap, but I was a little excited by Simon's initial quote of $100. Sadly, it was not to be and the grand total soared dangerously close to the value of my entire vehicle - which isn't very much but still stings. As I drove away, thinking the car felt much the same, I felt as if I had paid good money for a beating.

Perhaps I should have anticipated that when I took my car to S&M...

And perhaps this car story, like the car itself, is getting old.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beards and Beds - Part III

In what I hope to be the conclusion to a rather dull series of posts, I offer you this snap of me from recent flick, Bone Deep. (Note the nasty looking tats) Yes there is a beard. No, the bed is not in the picture. Actually, things have improved and I seem to be sleeping better on the "Hollywood". However, that may be due to a tiring day on set and not the sudden improvement of aforementioned sleep apparatus.

That is all I have to share. Commenting on my lack of scintillating subject matter merely gives the illusion of juicy content and an extra paragraph can only improve upon a mere 3 line blog entry.

Or not. See how easily I added a third paragraph - almost without you noticing. Alright, that's really it. I may have bumped my head yesterday. I'm not making sense to myself, which means anyone else may quite possibly be reduced to a gibbering monosyllabic mantra by the time they're done reading this---------

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beards and Beds - Part II

After finally getting clearance from the movie, I was given the go-ahead to shave off my beard, which I promptly did. Hooray. Then discovered the director of a recent TV audition wanted me to keep it. Too late, she cried. I was promptly instructed to grow it back, but 3 weeks' growth cannot be compressed into a few days. Nevertheless, I scored the gig, a guest role on Eleventh Hour starring Rufus Sewell. Caught a couple episodes and it's a great new series. Kinda like the X-Files meets House, but without the supernatural element. Rufus plays a scientific advisor to the FBI and is minded by a female agent, played by Marley Shelton. The two of them do feel rather Mulder and Scully and each show's medical case demands brilliant out-the-box thinking to solve.

On the bed side of things (I sleep on the left), I ordered my new mattress, aptly named Hollywood. I kid you not. Like its namesake, it performed well opening weekend and then fell off the charts. I dunno what happened. After a couple nights of long forgotten rest, I awoke to the same, and now increasing, back pain. Great. That'll teach me for buying a budget bed. Bollocks. Now I'm gonna have to cough up for my 3rd mattress this year, plus more chiro. That's seriously messed up.

I was hoping the beard and bed might be related. IE: shaving the beard = improved sleep. But no dice. Two things that cheered me up, however (aside from the TV gig) - I got to voice a role in the new Terminator game and autumn has finally arrived in LA. Which means cooler temps and a warm sun hanging low in the sky. Which always makes me feel good. We actually feel a change of season after nearly 9 months of blissfully hot (read: unbearably boring) summer. I know, I'm blessed to be living in California, but I wasn't built for desert climes. It's those English genes, you see. Nothing nicer than a brisk walk in the brisk air.

Well, maybe a brisk walk in the brisk air with a beautiful woman.

Oh yeah - and a single malt.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

What a momentous day for America and the world. I stood in a packed bar last night and watched with bated breath, hardly daring to believe that Obama might take it. In my heart of hearts I hoped, but didn't want to utter my confidence in him, lest it jinx his chances. Remarkably, and perhaps predictably, he won, making history.

I couldn't help but feel a little pride. I'm not eligible to vote yet, but I experienced the same hope, anxiety and ultimate elation as those supporters in the bar with me. Fellow South Africans, Brendan and Lee-Anne were there and the significance wasn't lost on us: we witnessed the rise of South Africa's first black president and now, 14 years later, were thousands of miles away, watching the acceptance speech of the USA's first African American president elect.

Obama's words brought tears to my eyes. It was the stuff of legend, as powerful as the great orators of the past - King, Kennedy, Churchill. I thought, for the first time, how those great American flags that dotted the 100,000 strong crowd in Chicago, could once again be a symbol of promise, hope and pride. Something to believe in.

People often ask me, as a foreigner, how I find it here. Right now, I must admit that it's a wonderful, exciting country to live in. Sure, it has it's problems and numerous challenges. The next few years could be the hardest any of us have lived through. But who better to unite a country and lead us towards a brighter future.

To new beginnings and daring to dream...