Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The studio audience was made up of all races and ages from 10 to 70 plus and we were all stoked. It was actually 3 shows that they taped with us over 4 hours and I loved every minute of it. I had the best seat in the house; high enough to get an over view of everything and in the center aisle in clear sight of Alex's podium, the categories board and the judges table. The set was beautiful with sliding plexi-glass entry doors for the host and large hi-def TVs. We were all pumped by the staff to applause during the show but no hyping was needed when Mr. Trebek strolled unto the set. Mr. Trebek looked and sounded great and even did a little soft shoe to show that he was light on his feet. Many of the older women were crushing on him and he was very sweet and polite to them.
I had a sudden thrill when the category board lit up with all the answers and a similar wave of excitement rolled over the audience and contestants also. I enjoyed each category posted but tanked in the sports category. I had to hold my lips so that I wouldn't blurt out the answers when they did a Bible category called "Ecclesiastes". Studying God's word really pays off, guys! A few years ago, the Bible questions on Jeopardy! were the hardest for me to answer but now they are among the easiest.
The questions got increasingly harder throughout "double jeopardy" but I found that the "final jeopardy" questions were easy. It could have been my lucky day because all the questions seem related to something I either knew or had experienced personally. The current champ was on a winning streak and I was rooting him on but I was giving big love to all the challengers also. The champ looked confident as did some of the contestants but some of the others looked a bit scared. Alex and the staff did their best to keep everyone at their best. They talked frequently to the guesses, patting them gently to reassure them.
Mr. Trebek joked and talked with us throughout the taping breaks and he has a beautiful sense of humor. He mentioned his native Canada quiet a bit but in joking and self-ribbing tones and he answered any questions that we had for him. He also joked about Will Ferrell's impersonation of him and the spoofs of the show done on Saturday Night Live(SNL).
I asked him about the "how to"s of becoming a writer on the show but he pretty much dashed my hopes as they are up to their staff max of 8 writers right now and no one plans on leaving. He did mention that researcher slots were available as they usually fill the empty writers positions from the researcher ranks. He also made a quip that I might end up taking over his job as host before running back to tape the closing segment.
He teased an older lady from Puerto Rico about her "Charro-like" accent after she told him how handsome he was. He flirted back and rolled his "r"s as he spoke with a Spanish accent for a bit. We also talked lot about cars, traffic tickets and bad drivers including Alex's pet peeve, those who text as they drive. I didn't get to ask Mr. Trebek if he liked his turn as a race car driver at Toyota's Pro/Celeb Grand Prix in Long Beach this past April. The race was won, aptly enough, by Speed star, Keanu Reeves and all winnings went to the various stars' favorite charities. Instead, Alex talked about the tragic vehicular deaths and the Toyota car mat recalls that had just made headline news this week.
Johnny Gilbert, the show's announcer, gave us the "behind the scenes" scoop on how the show is run and the writers and judges chimed in often with jokes or commentary. They also raffled off free Jeopardy and ESPN sports trivia games but I didn't win any myself. I did get to talk to some of the contestants and I saw the various aspects of being on the show. Having your make-up applied, doing promo spots, the thrill of competition, the triumph of victory and thousand of dollars in cash winnings or the agony of defeat from a slow buzzer finger or slow neuro-synapses. I can't give you anymore clues than that but the shows will be airing 11/16-11/18/09.
The only downside was the long maze-like trek to the studio and bathrooms, as well as the narrow stairs to get to the studio seats. A studio guide gave me a ride back to the studio on one of their transport golf carts after I had managed to get lost on the lot during a bathroom breaks. As a result, I was the last person back in my seat before taping began and I found out that they had placed a studio APB out on me(lol). Many of the audience had limited mobility and the older audience members were also getting directions confused so I didn't feel too bad. However, I do feel that more could have been done to make the studios more safe and accessible to audiences including clearer signs for bathroom and rest areas on the lot.
Still, it was a landmark day for me to have accomplished something I've wanted to since I was a teen. Now if I can only get up the courage to take the Jeopardy contestant test...
Behind the scenes at Jeopardy!
SNL parody of Jeopardy!
Alex Trebek at Toyota's Pro/Celeb Grand Prix 2009
I was a few feet from the men and not intentionally ease dropping on their conversation but the newbie's observations about the city and its people hit me like a ton of bricks. In fact, I was motionless for a few minutes as it sunk in. The newbie had hit the nail right on the head... L.A. is D-I-R-T-Y! Every time I had been traveling around L.A., I had been seeing things that I have never seen or heard before anywhere else... terrible, slimy, dirty things... and I had been extremely bothered by them. And it just wasn't the soiled looking seats on the buses, or the woeful looking homeless population or even the incredible stench of urine in some places I've visited because you have that in other cities as well. It's the people, they're D-I-R-T-Y too! In the 2 years since I've been here, I have met my share of low-minded and base people and I have felt that their dirty mentality was somehow contagious. So much so that I always felt like I needed to scrub my mind clean as well as my body as a form of decontamination after an encounter or outing. It's easy to take a hot shower and scrub your skin raw to erase physical contact with dirty things but how does one clean ones mind and spirit from hateful words and perverted images?
I had been praying about this very thing for the past month since my baptism then last Sunday, my church has us read Psalm 51 as our Bible scripture for the week.
2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin...
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow...
10 Create in me a clean heart: O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence: and take not thy holy spirit from me.
For those like myself who didn't know, hyssop is a shrub-like bush used by Old Testament Jews for purification and it is noted to have a strong detergent-like quality. The pastors will be washing our hands with hyssop this week to help strengthen our determination to live clean and spirit-filled lives and after a full day of L.A.'s grime and filth, I really need it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The flip side to this is the reality show genre which seems to exploit average fat joes and josephines as they struggle to lose extreme amounts of weight in mere months. I admit that I do watch The Biggest Loser but I absolutely could not stomach "Dance Your A** Off or most of the Celebrity Fit Club. I think I am especially sensitive to the topic as I have a medical background and have battled weight myself. Still, the questions needs asking-- how far has this obsession with being thin gone especially among celebrities and actresses?
Here are some of my first hand accounts:
At the 2006 Toronto Film Festival:
Jessica Lange looked brittle thin and Kathy Bates looked plus-sized/fat but Kathy actually looked the more healthy looking of the two. I was afraid to even touch Ms. Lange for fear she would break. Ms. Bates also looked the more youthful of the two and she was very outgoing and friendly. Sandra Bullock looked petite (size 2-4) and quite healthy looking and glowing. She is by far the most outgoing and engaging on the red carpet.
At the 2007 Emmy's:,
Ellen Pompeo and E's Giuliana Rancic looked quite scarily thin and brittle.
While Eva Longoria (a size 0-2?) and Padma Lakshmi the former model turned host/chef of Top Chef(maybe a size 4-6)looked naturally slim and glowing. They both gave lots of love to the bleacher fans and allowed many photo ops.
Kimora Lee former model turned TV reality star looked fab if at above her modeling size (probably a size 10-12 now). She did a credible job as co-host as she commented on the fashion on display.
Ugly Betty's America Ferrerer(size 6-8) and Grey's Anatomy Sara Ramirez looked curvy and voluptuous. Chandra Wilson also from Grey's is busty, plus-size/fat but looked very nice in her gown. Funny, these three(3)fuller of fatter women got the most applause and cheers from the bleacher fans and had more requests for interviews on the red carpet. They were also nominees in best actress categories so this may be a reason but I know the fans just raved about their physical looks as well as their acting abilities.
John Hancock movie set September 2007:
I missed seeing Charlize Theron but everyone who saw her said that she was tall and thin but not too skinny. I saw her body/stunt double who looked naturally slim but I will reserve any comments about Ms. Theron until I see her myself. Everyone said that Charlize was very nice on set though and not a primma donna.
Random Star Sightings 2008-09:
Julia Roberts looked slim but healthy.
Katie Holmes could add about 8-10 pounds
Iron Man Premiere June 2008:
Gwyneth Paltrow looking slender but healthy in a lovely outfit.
Comic Con 2008 Fox Studio's Panel- Max Payne Panel:
Mila Kunis looked glowing, bubbly and happy! She's a petite height and about size 0-2and she obviously loves to talk.
And it's not just white women struggling with this folks, minorities are struggling too!
Street Kings Premiere April 2008:
Martha Higareda looked like she lost weight for her first Hollywood red carpet to the point that her purple satin dress was ill-fitted and falling off her. Many Hispanic men confided to me that they felt that she was now too thin for their liking.
Naomie Harris from Pirates of The Caribbean fame is a wonderful actress but she looked sickly and bobble-head thin. She seemed to have actually acted her butt of in this movie (literally)! I watched her from another table across from her, as she talked with a group of black actresses of varying weights and shades. I so wanted to say "hello" and tell her how I liked he acting but I couldn't because I was afraid I would do an intervention and hand feed her the h'ordourves that she was just pushing around her plate.
Watchmen Premiere June 2009:
Malik Ackerman looks height and weight appropriate (size 6) in an ivory lace gown while Vanessa Hugdens looked like an Olsen twin. IMHO, Carla Giarg looks better when she is at a higher weight but she looked glamorous in a bright green gown.
Actresses struggle with weight during and post pregnancy!
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Premiere:
I got a glimpse of Halle Berry entering and she looked very tiny in her post-baby body. I didn't know who she was for the longest time because she is so diminutive (under 5 feet tall).
However, Minnie Driver rocked with he rotund third trimester bell and breasts at the Street Kings Premiere.
And actresses struggle with weight intensifies as they age in the business.
The Proposal Premiere June 2009:Sandra Bullock (40s), Betty White(70's) and Malik Ackerman(30s)all looking good. Mary Steinburger(60s) looking a little thin and frail.
And men are struggling too!
Many of the male stars that I've met in Hollywood are shorter than they appear on screen but who would have thought that they would be thinner?
These guys look exactly as you see them on screen:
Terry Crews (he's a buff guy!)
The Rock (the original buff guy!)
Chris Evans (what a nice young man)
Edris Elba(a polite guy)
Vince Vaughn (tall guy)
These are the male stars that are thinner than expected but still look healthy:
-Ryan Reynolds (Mr. 6 pack)
-Hugh Jackman(post Wolverine bulk)
-Robert Downey Jr.(an amazing comeback story)
-Keanu Reeves(seems like a naturally lanky guy)
-Tom Cruise (a very small man all around)
These guys were a little heavier looking than expected:
-Gerard Butler (post 300 bulk but still not bad)
-Jack Black was actually smaller all around than expected
-Seth Rogen has lost a ton of weight and needs to stop now
Thin and unhealthy looking male stars:
I missed him at the Writers picket line at NBC studios in 2007 but everyone else there said that he looked real bad and used the word "manorexic". Note: Daly had also crossed the picket line so that may have tainted their opinions.
Don't get me wrong, the above commentary is not to be mean or critical to anyone. Nor am I advocating any ideal weight or weight loss program for anyone specifically but I do know that everyone has an ideal weight and fitness level for themselves based on a lot of variables including genetics and even profession. I believe also that God has an ideal weight for us and that we should seek His advice when we are considering adjusting our weight. I did this very thing and I am nearly 90 pounds the better for it! Interested in what the Bible says about weight and health? Just google "what would Jesus eat?" and see.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sadly, I have just heard the report that Patrick Swayze has succumbed to his battle with pancreatic cancer, he was only 57. I have loved, loved, loved Patrick since I first saw him in the role of Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing to Jeniffer Grey's character Baby. The love intensified after the movie Ghost and reached its zenith with Point Break, Road House and To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar. What I like about Patrick was that he could do sensitive romantic roles, strong dramas, elegant skilled dance moves but he could flip it and portray very physical and intense characters.
Action-lovers like myself loved Patrick's take on the character Bodhi in the action-filled Point Break, where he mixed it up with Johnny Utah, an FBI character played by Keanu Reeves whom Patrick had been paired with previously along with Rob Lowe in the ice hockey movie Youngblood. In Road House, Patrick was the tough guy and he kicked butt and took names. Point Break showcased Patrick's surfing, sky-diving, gymnastic and piloting skills. Road House showcase Patrick's martial arts and fighting skills. Youngblood showcased Patrick's knowledge of skating, ice hockey and fighting. Patrick also knew gymnastics and rode and raised horses at his ranch outside of Los Angeles. All this proves that he was fierce and fearless on screen and in life.
Those wonderful dance moves in Dirty Dancing were not coincidences either as Patrick was a classically trained dancer and both his wife and mother were dancers and choreographers also. In fact, he played the role of Danny Zucko in Grease on Broadway. He also could sing and write music and he co-wrote and sang the song "She's Like The Wind" from the Dirty Dancing movie and soundtrack. Sadly, Patrick had some tragic losses in life and battled the disease of alcoholism including a stint in rehab.
My family and I had been praying intensely for Patrick since we heard the news of his cancer diagnosis last Fall. My mother, my sisters and I had marvelled at his resilience and faith that he could beat the cancer and we joined him in agreement that he would do so. I pushed away my medical knowledge about the mortality associated with his disease and I believed God for his healing.
He looked great at the Stand Up 2 Cancer event last September and starred in TV's The Beast on A&E and he looked great on each. I really was hopeful for his recovery then those pictures surfaced showing him looking very gaunt. I was so angry that the paparazzi and trash magazines were not giving him his privacy and the decency to be ill or even die with dignity. Patrick was fearless and rallied back against their intrusions as he gave a defiant and moving interview to Babara Walters earlier this year. Now, as sad as it is to know that he has lost his courageous battle, I know that he is not suffering and that he is with God. I till can't control my tears though and I think how much his family will miss him.
To movie fans like myself, Patrick was one of a kind and he will be missed. I will try to make it down this week to his star on Hollywood Blvd. and lay some flowers on it. Hopefully, they may have some type of tribute event for him here as so many people loved his work and were touched by his story. I'm thinking that Patrick Swayze movie marathons or even 'Dirty Dancing" dance-athons held across the country with all proceeds benefiting cancer research would be a fitting tribute. Or do what I plan to do, donate to any of the organizations that aid in cancer research and do it in memory of Patrick.
Again, I will miss Patrick Swayze and my prayers go out to Lisa Niemi, his wife of 34years. Theirs was a true love affair... a pairing of soul mates the like of which Hollywood has never seen.
May he rest in peace and may God give Lisa the strength to go on.
Patrick Swayze's book "The Time Of My Life" is out now and it chronicles more of his battle with alcoholism and depression and how it nearly wrecked his marriage. It also gives us insight into his last year of life after the devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2008. It helps bring home the point clearly that excessive alcohol use/abuse is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
The book is available at www.amazon.com
Patrick Swayze at Stand Up 2 Cancer event
A fans Patrick Swayze tribute video
Don't forget to take the poll and tell me which is your favorite Patrick Swayze movie.
I also think that people are holding Serena's stature and God-given physicality(5'9", more muscular, black woman) against her. Is she more imposing than say a 5'4" slimmer white player so that her conduct should be more constrained (fear of a big, black woman tennis player)? I am 5'10" and I have a similar built to Serena so I am very sensitive to this issue. I think the line judge may have felt really threatened which is unfair to Serena. And if so then those 6'6" muscular male tennis playing giants should be fined more heavily too as they might be more of a possible physical threat when they argue a line call with officials.
The saddest part is I have seen bad officiating and bad calls levied against Serena time after time and she has handled herself very humbly. In fact, she was definitely cheated in some matches, most notably those against Jeniffer Capriatti and Justine Hardin. I've seen fans like the French boo her and stadiums full of fans who root against her just because of who she is. When she and her sister took some time off for fashion designing and Hollywood events they were criticized for not putting all their energy and commitment into the sport. Serena has received many personal attacks against the physical and aggressive (their words not mine) style of her game and then she is called a whiner when she tries to dialog about it. All this can take a large emotional toll on a player and Serena has to work harder to stay more focus against these distractions.
Serena's an elite athlete and things do happen in the heat of the battle that ordinarily would not occur. I'm not excusing her behavior especially as a Christian woman but I am surprised that she hasn't lost it with them earlier. However, Serena has to have "equanimity under duress" as head surgeon and professor, Dr. LaSalle Lefall, used to say. Also, Serena needs to increase her faith life with lots and lots of prayer and reflection before and during her matches. Having a swear jar at the U.S. Open wouldn't hurt either and they could raise millions of dollars for charity(lol). rAlso, reading the Book of Psalm where David was pursued by Saul would also be good in building Christian character under duress.
Still, the U.S. Tennis Association(USTA) officials really need to do their best to make their decisions fair and consistent for all players or the Williams sisters should consider boycotting their events due to unequal punishment or treatment. Any boycott would be unfortunate to tennis and the fans, as the Williams' bring great energy and excitement to the game. In fact, I rarely if ever watch a women's tennis final if one of the Williams' are not in it.
My sister and I were lucky enough to attend the finals match at the U.S. Open in 2002 when Serena played her sister Venus for the tile. Serena won that meeting but it was a very engaging match. Later, we saw Venus as she was leaving the stadium and she walked right by us. She is easily 6'1" and she seems a no nonsense type of person. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see Serena up close that night as she had left right after the news conference.
My memory of the night is vivid because that was the debut of Serena's black cat suit shorts and the guy in the seat next to me had actually brought a pair of binoculars with him. He keep leaning in on my side and stressing my back just to get a close up view of Serena's derriere. Needless to say that I was very upset at this guy and my sister had to exchange seats with me. The guys date was very upset also as she tried to pretend that his ogling of another women.
Other Outbursts in the news:
Republican Wilson of:
His outburst (shouting"you lie!") at President Obama during Obama's speech to Congress on Health Care reform. As a doctor myself, I really don't agree with the President on health care reform but I respect the office of the presidency and would never have disrupted a speech of any president. Still, Democrats booed President Bush during his speech on Social Security reform so they can not say anything about conduct.
Kanye West v.s. Taylor Swift at the VMA:
This was just plain rude if not a bit crazy. Kanye seemed very contrite when interviewed on the debut of the Jay Leno show but he is obviously still in pain from his mother's passing. In my professional opinion, Kanye may also have anger issues and I think that he needs to get a jump on this and get help now! I have also placed him back on my Hollywood "pray for" list.
Again, I am not making excuses for any of the people discussed above. As for myself, I try to conduct myself as a representative of Christ so at all times people may see God's love in my words and actions. I've slipped once or twice with a few folks and fed the swear jar a few dollars in my day but overall I think I have done well. However, it's easy to feel like you are conducting yourself well when you're here in Hollywood. Here the f-word is like a hello and back stabbing your opponents is as common as a hug. Still, only God can say for sure how close any of us comes to the mark. Here's what the Bible recommends:
2 Peter 1:5-8 (New International Version)
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is clear that Serena, Congressman Wilson and Kanye all acted badly so I'm not going to posts links to videos of any of their bad behavior as its contrary to what the Bible says.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Aug 24 Steve Guttenberg (in every 80's movie ex. Police Academy)
Aug 25 Billy Ray Cyrus, Claudia Schiffer, Sean Connery(007)
Aug 26 Macaulay Culkin (child actor from Home Alone fame)
Aug 27 Tueseday Weld (child actor from TV's Adam's Family)
Aug 28 Jason Priestley (90210) LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain
Aug 29 Robin Leach (Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous)
Aug 30 Cameron Diaz (actress Something About Mary, Charlie's Angels, former model)
Sep 01 Gloria Estefan (one of my favorite singers), Lily Tomlin (comedienne extraordinaire)
Sep 02 Keanu Reeves (Street Kings, Matrix Trilogy, Speed, Point Break, River's Edge)
Sep 03 Charlie Sheen (TV's Two and a half Men)
Sep 04 Ione Skye (popular teen actress in the 80's, River's Edge)
Sep 05 Raquel Welch (70's bombshell)
Sep 06 Rosie Perez (White Men Can't Jump)
Sep 08 Jonathan Taylor Thomas (one of the kids from TV's Home Improvement)
Sep 09 Adam Sandler, Hugh Grant (rom-com regular)
Sep 10 Amy Irving (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Charles Kuralt is deceased now but he was a childhood favorite. He was the best at interviewing simpler folks as he traveled across America on TV's Sunday Morning)
Sep 11 Virginia Madsen (actress)
Sep 12 Rachel Ward
Sep 13 Fiona Apple ***(a singer lucky enough to share my birth date)
Sep 14 Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Event Horizon)
Sep 15 Tommy Lee Jones (one of my favs-No Country For Old Men, MIB, The Fugitive, Cold Miner's Daughter)
Sep 16 David Copperfield (Vegas illusionist)
Sep 18 Jada Pinkett Smith (TV's Hawthorne and A Different World, Matrix Trilogy)
Sep 19 Jeremy Irons (another fav-Appaloosa, Die Hard: With A Vengeance, M. Butterfly, Dead Ringers, The Lion King(voice acting)
Sep 20 Sophia Loren (Italian beauty and 70's leading lady)
Sep 21 Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Ricki Lake, Stephen King (Carrie, Christine, Cujo)
Sep 22 Eric Stoltz (Cher's son in Mask), Scott Baio (Chauchie from Happy Days)
I don't know how accurate this list is but I found it funny that some of my most and least favorite stars are on it. Still, I was moved to pray for them and I really hope that everyone has/had a great birthday.
Numbers Chap 6 verse 24-26
The LORD bless you and keep you:
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Birthday blessings to all!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
In preparation for this event, I have been searching my heart very carefully for the one thing I will put my faith and believe God to resolve. I also increased my efforts to encouraged others to attend the event. I encouraged my friends and neighbors to attend, especially the ones who had major decisions coming up and were very worried about the result. I also increased my efforts among strangers or new acquaintances. I had handed out pamphets and flyers for previous church events on buses, in the park and in various stores and had had a good response. Many people talked to me about their increasing faith, their search for a church home or their wavering faith.
However last week they showed a video at church of how Christians would share their faith with strangers on the street for $100 quicker than just for the glory of our Lord. Some had expressed embarassment at approaching strangers on the street irreguardless of the money. I did not have trepidations about approaching strangers about the Lord before but now I realized that I was "preaching to the choir" and that's why I was confident. Most of the people I had approached were minorities, elderly or retired and most were from cultures which were boldly Christian.
To rectify this I decided to go to a place where I would find young, hip, busy people... so I went to The Americana. The Americana is a large mall in Glendale, a surburb of Los Angeles that is known for its trendy shops and the occassional star sighting. I decided thatI would do my Christian duty and talk to people there about God, difficult decisions and their faith. I would hand out the pamphlet and invite them to church for the Day of Decision. My friends from church bolstered my courage as they dropped me there.
I handed out pamphlets to lots of people. From the Asian teen who said he had just made a decision to go back to school at Harvard to the two young adult who talked with me for 15 minutes about how great God is, to the group of girls filling out applications for jobs at the mall. The highlight of the day was when I saw two guys in t-shirts casually walking to a store. Something was real familiar about the guy with the tattoos but I couldn't place it. I asked if they had any major decisions coming up that they may need God's help with. The first guy blew me off but the tattooed guy stopped for a second, just long enough for us to make eye contact.
Tattoed guy had the most gentliest of eyes and he couldn't say no even when his friend was waiting a bit impatiently. The guy looked like he was reflecting on some inner issues so I handed him a pamphlet which he reluctantly took. I said, "It's just a pamphlet... no committment". The guy smiled a little off centered smile, nodded politely and looked down at the pamphlet in his hands and shrugged. There was a brief moment where he looked really torn about something and I thought, "I know this guy... what's his name". He then he rolled the pamphlet into a cylinder in his hands and I thought he might toss it. Instead, he gripped it in his palms firmly and told me, "thanks". I told him, "God bless you" and we both turned away. They went up the escalator exactly as I realized who tatooed guy was. He was Steve O form the TV show, Jackass.
I never liked the little that I had seen of the show Jackass and could not stand Steve on it. However, I had taken to his boyish charm on Dances With The Stars this pass season, especially when I had learned about his struggles with drug addiction and a severe back injury. I had been praying for and rooting for him when he had been on the show and I had genuienly been concerned for him. Now, I had met him and had a chance to share the gospel with him, if only for a moment. I can tell that Steve has a very sensitive soul and I pray that he is victorious over his afflictions.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I like so many others cried and prayed for weeks about the attacks. I especially remember the people who were so desperate that they jumped off the burning buildings to their deaths as I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort them. I remember the touching last minute phone calls from the victims to their loved ones, most calmly trusting in God and praying as they knew their fate was sealed. I also remember the courageous men and women on the United Flight 93, who fought back and chose to crash and die rather than to let the plane be used as a weapon of hate.
My birthday was a few days after 9/11 and I had planned to take my first trip to New York City and celebrate by dining at Windows of the World, a famed restaurant in the World Trade Center. I really felt like I could have been one of the people there so I desperately wanted to be of help to the survivors and responders. Despite the fact that my back was out, I tried to volunteer with the Red Cross for the Pentagon and was rejected. Instead, I spent time talking to and praying for the baby-faced armed U.S. soldiers stationed within the metro trains, as I traveled to my doctors and physical therapist in DC and Maryland.
I was finally able to help the responders because God made it possible for me to work on a health grant for them even though I applied for it after the deadline. I got top level training on managing man-made and natural disasters with a team of doctors who were also WTC first responders on 9/11. I also had the opportunity to examine these heroes and to help them get help for their resulting medical problems. Most importantly, I was able to pray for them and encourage them to believe God! It marked the first time that I had ever talked so openly about God and faith to any patients in the continental U.S. and I know that I am a stronger Christian because of this experience.
Over the past two years, I had been very disappointed by Los Angeles' response to and lack of commemoration of 9/11. Most people seemed apathetic and distant to the importance of the day and that even includes coverage on the local news programs. This year L.A. has redeemed itself as I saw snippets of the community's concern all through my day today. First, friends at church talked about how their faith grew after the events, then some 20-something Christians at the Americana who remarked how they can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time of the attack, which is chilling because they had to have been young teens at the time. On my way home, I pass a community center with it's flag at half mass and saw passer-bys looking at it solemnly. When I got home, I turned on TV and the Mayor(who I'm not a fan of) gave a good speech on honoring the day and heroic Americans.
Later that night, I exercised in the gym and watched President Obama's speech to commemorate 9/11. I still don't like the community service thing being lumped with 9/11 but the President's speech was nice. I then watched two 9/11 tribute documentaries one msnbc and TBN. As I watched the events on fold on TV, I was hearing police, fire and ambulance sirens like surround sound and it felt like I was at WTC for real or at least in a virtual reality game. I took off my earphones and realized that the sounds were coming from outside my apartment building and not the TV.
I could hear the police, ambulance and fire trucks as they pulled up outside and a helicopter flying over with a search spotlight. It reminded me of post-9/11 D.C. with the near constant military fly over and reconnaissance cover after the airspace was restricted. I looked out to the street and saw 5-7 police cars, a firetruck and then an ambulance pulled up. Again, I was in disaster mode and started getting prepared to evacuate. It turned out that it was a criminal fleeing the police and had holed up in a business office. The police had sent in the dogs for him and he looked injured as they helped him onto a stretcher. Some would say that this is typical L.A. stuff I guess but it is very unusual for my neighborhood.
I can understand the family's grief and reluctance to part with their loved one as I lost my own dear brother weeks ago. However, I am personally very happy that Michael Jackson is finally being interred. Interment will help the family in the grieving process especially considering the events surrounding his death. Still, facing death is especially hard and we need lots of love, support and faith when it happens. I found a poem in a newspaper 20 years ago called Should I Die Tonight (see the post in my gallery). The poem is by Donald Temple and should not be confused with the more famous poem If I die Tonight by MG but they have the same themes. I found this poem helps me in grieving the "what ifs" of life especially when someone dies prematurely. Psalm 91 is also very helpful and I know it is often recited at many funerals.
The Psalms 91
Abiding in the Shadow of the Almighty
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge,
even the Most High, thy habitation;
10 there shall no evil befall thee,
neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, Mt. 4.6 · Lk. 4.10
to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands,
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Mt. 4.6 · Lk. 4.11
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Lk. 10.19
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
Other Noteble Passings:
Blake Snyder of Save The Cat fame. I am loving this man's book on the art of screenwriting and it's a must have for any aspiring writer.The book is funny as well as informative and is an easy read. I missed meeting Mr. Snyder last year at one of the writing conferences because his session and a one on one consultation were both closed because they filled up so early.
Find Mr. Snyder's books and DVDs at http://www.amazon.com/.
Learn more about Forest Lawns at www.forestlawns.com.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Mary Steinburgen, Malin Ackerman and TV favs like Craig T. Nelson (Coach) and Betty White (The Golden Girls) round out The Proposal's cast. The movie was made by Disney for about $40 million with Sandra Bullock as a producer on the film (smart girl).
Lets talk fashion! Ms. Bullock looked great in a sleeveless black dress with an interesting asymmetrical shoulder, a pencil skirt-like bottom, strands of pearls and chains as well as a pair of 6 inch stroppy black heels. She worked the crowd of screaming fans that were nearly a block long, many times out running her body guards to give an autograph or a photo op to a pleading fan. Make no mistake, as nice as Ryan Reynolds looks, the screaming crowd of guys and gals were there for Sandra Bullock. There has recently been many in the industry who have debated whether a woman can really open a blockbuster movie. To them I say, "If any woman can do it, Sandra Bullock can!"
Now I'm not hating on Ryan Reynolds as I've been a fan of Ryan Reynolds since the TV show, Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place. I had missed Ryan Reynolds at the Wolverine: X-MEN Origins movie premiere at the Chinese Mann's Theater weeks earlier. My only consolation had been that I had had the opportunity to meet and talk to Hugh Jackman, which was very brave of him especially during the swine flu rage in L.A. (lol). This time I got to see Reynolds and real close up too despite the professional autograph scalpers all around me. Mr. Reynolds looked dapper in a pale yellow or beige suit made of lightweight material, a grayish sweater vest with blue plaid stripes and a blue tie. He is a tall man (about 6' 2" or 3") and he's thinner than I thought he would be. He seemed very shy and a bit overwhelmed but he was well received by the crowds.
Reynolds exited the red carpet around the time Malin Ackerman was entering. Ms. Ackerman wore a blue satin dress and gorgeous pumps. I felt what she wore looked way better than what she wore at The Watchmen premiere, which I felt looked more like an Oscar gown. The scalpers were trying to get her to sign her near naked Watchmen figurines and memorabilia as they had had Reynolds sign X-Men stuff but she didn't tarry outside long.
Betty White entered as we chanted her name loudly. She was wearing a powder blue pant suit and she wavered spiritedly back at us. People who had been to earlier screenings said that Betty White stole the movie and had the best lines ever. The photographer near me said that he new her personally and that she swears like a sailor and tells the raunchiest jokes. I was glad to see her as I've loved her from The Carol Burnette Show and The Lou Grant Show, way back when.
I absolutely loved The Proposal, so much so, I actually saw it twice. Bullock and Reynolds had great sexual chemistry despite their age difference (10 years?). Also, Bullock is still among the best as far as physical comedy goes. Ms. Bullock hadn't made a movie in nearly 6 years so it was good to see her back to form. With all due respect to Ryan Reynolds' wife, getting a peak of him naked didn't hurt either. At last count, this movie was on it's way to making over $150 million! "You go girl"!
I've attached the videos links below because I was about 15 feet to the left of the cameras:
Now, I have become a reluctant fan of Mr. Butler's after seeing the Guy Ritchie directed film, Rock N Rolla and after listening to him on two panels at screenings of the movie(one at Comic Con and one at the Arclight). He has a very quick wit and bit of a potty mouth but he comes across boyishly incorrigible and his sense of humor is contagious.
Still, I don't know if I will see any of his other movies. Case in point: Though Butler has a ruggedness to him that may work well in Gamer, the reviews are real bad so far. I really don't know if I will risk seeing it or I may just see it at for $3 (yeah, I'm cheap) at my now favorite theater in Pasadena. If you don't mind seeing movies 2-3 weeks after their release date but for a 4th of the price.
Funny thing. At the Arclight screening Gerard sat with the film's executive producer, Joel Silver and fielded questions as a group of women old enough to know better screaming "Gerrie!" throughout the Q&A.
I attended Target presents AFI's Night At The Movies on October 1, 2008, which is a yearly event showcasing movies that made AFI 100 Best Film lists or one of the 400 films nominated for consideration for the list. I wanted to see West Side Story presented by Rita Morena. I have been a fan of Rita Moreno since a child and had sent a hello to her through a friend of hers, who had danced in West Side Story and who I had met the night before the Oscars in February 2008. Unfortunately, all the tickets sold out in a flash so the next best bet for me were The Man Who Would Be King which was being presented by Sean Connery, The Matrix or Glory presented by Denzel Washington but all of these were sold out also. I paid $25 and bought tickets for Something About Mary to be presented by Cameron Diaz. Though I liked the movie well enough I just bought the ticket so that I could at least have a ticket to attend the event. I then went on e-bay and found out why all the tickets had sold so quickly. All the scalpers had snapped up tix to sell online for 2-3X the price but West Side Story tix still weren't available. I got a good seat for The Matrix for $60 that I was very lucky to get especially for the price. I tried to sell my Something About Mary tix the day of but got major attitude at the event from the staff because it's a fundraiser so I just donated the cost.
It was a great night! First, the Austin Powers look-alike flirted with me on red carpet and I was with the crush of photogs waiting to see what Cameron Diaz would be wearing. Then we were ushered into the theater just before the stars appeared for the red carpet. We had a long wait but free popcorn and soda and making new friends made it a bit easier. They had to relocate me because the camera man needed my spot to position the camera to tape the star on stage. I was a bit bummed out with the move but I ended up with the best seat in the house for viewing the movie's intro. Keanu Reeves arrived and did a 15 minute introduction of The Matrix. He spoke mostly about its themes and what drew him to film and he introduced the producer who was in the audience. He took his seat and we all settled down to watch the movie. Boy , that movie still holds up and I even got goosebumps as the opening scenes began.
Speaking of which, I attended the Matrix 10th Anniversary panel and trilogy at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica in March 2009. We watched the fist Matrix movie then heard from the panel with Zach Staenberg (editor, Academy Award-winner), Kym Barrett (costume designer) and Dane A. Davis (supervising sound editor, Academy Award-winner), Owen Patterson (production designer) and moderated by author, Eric Lichtenfeld. The theater was filled with many college -aged students but a large amount of fans in their 40's and 50's.
Directors and brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski were not slated to appear but I had seen them up close and personal at the Speed Racer premiere in Summer 2008 so that was okay. Kym Barrett actually didn't make it but the rest of the panel was great. They all remarked that they had not seen the movie in the 10 years since the movie premiered and they were surprised how well it held up and how enjoyable it still was to them. I got to speak to everyone after the panel and ask them questions (especially Owen Patterson). Yes, I asked them many, many questions mostly about how they successfully put the science into sci-fi. I also got to shake every one's hand and to thank them for one of my favorite movies ever. The panel seemed genuinely surprised at the fan response 10 years later but they were appreciative of our praise of their work.
I wore my little cross card pinned to my lapel and it was received well as there were many Christians in attendance besides myself. I asked Mr. Patterson what he was doing so far from home as he lives in Australia and has worked on most of the movies there. He said he was working on a new movie in L.A. and that he had a place to stay here also. He explained to me a bit more about what his job on set is like and his hopes for the new film he was working on. I told him that I was praying that God would continue to bless him in everything. He said thank you and was very touched by my prayer and concern. One college age guy thanked them and wished them "Happy Easter" and "Happy Passover" and everyone concurred.
We were ushered back into our seats and we watched Matrix Reloaded and it's terrific fight scenes. I left half way through Matrix Revolutions as it was nearly midnight and I had been sitting for hours. To tell you the truth, I'm not a fan of the other 2 movies and especially not Revolutions. I felt that Revolutions was confusing and unsatisfying as the conclusion of the trilogy especially because it strayed from the Judeo-Christian themes of the original. I think if the Wachowski's had stayed true to Christian principles, the subsequent movies would have been great. Still, theses films grossed over $400 million each, which is nothing to laugh at.
The blue ray box set of The Matrix trilogy was released to commemorate the original movie's 1oth Anniversary this year. They raffled off 3 free sets to lucky audience members before the panel and the winners looked really stoked to have won.
Aero Theatre 1328 Montana Avenue Santa Monica, CA 90403
I was lucky to get a free ticket for this event as I waited in the press of the crowd outside for an earlier movie premiere of Shut Up and Sing, a documentary about and attended by the Dixie Chicks. The film documents all the brouhaha that went on after the chicks made those controversial comments about then president George W. Bush. I knew I would meet some radical people at this event but I had just finished hours of lectures at a medical conference a few blocks away and I needed a diversion. Sure enough, some anti-war and anti-Bush Canadians were cheering the Dixie Chicks arrival very loudly. They carried signs and chanted anti-war slogans and they were trying to get a bit rowdy. It seems that this vocal group were also anti-deodorant and I had to stand down wind from them a bit.
The red carpet arrivals went inside and then it started to rain but a loyal crew of movie fans, like myself, stayed outside hoping to get a glimpse of someone famous. A sympathetic TIFF staffer came out and told us that the event was sold out but she gave us free tickets to the next event because of our commitment.
I also saw Infamous, the other Truman Capote film that had the misfortune of coming out after the Phillip C. Hoffman's take on the role. However, in comparison, I found Toby Jones's performance more realistic since his stature and movements are more in line with those of the actual Truman Capote's. Also, Daniel Craig was real "I wouldn't want to run in to you in a dark alley" scary and Sandra Bullock was her usual delightful self in a uncharacteristic turn as the down home if a bit intense take on the author of To Kill A Mocking Bird and friend of Capote, Harper Lee.
I attended the red carpet premiere of this movie also and that's how I ran into Sandra Bullock, literally! Actually, we ran into each other as the crowd for the premiere jumped the velvet ropes and mobbed Ms. Bullock mere feet from the theater door. Ms. Bullock and I both thought we were being attacked and we cowered together as the crowd pounced. Minutes earlier, Ms. Bullock was practically glowing in her chocolate and peach silk dress. She was working the crowd like a pro. She was waving and signing autographs real sweetly and she even hugged a few fans and stopped to take pictures with them. Some other fans and I were already inside in the lobby because we had tickets to the event, however we still were very impressed with how nice she looked and how nice she was with the fans. We talked amongst ourselves as we waited for her to enter the lobby.
Ms.Bullock entered the theater lobby to ohs and ahs over how nice she looked and our response only increased the closer she got to us. She waved at us and signed a few more autographs then she walked the last few yards of the red carpet, which was coincidentally directly towards me as I was in the front just behind the velvet rope. As she walked up, the shouts from the crowd increased to a crescendo and they pressed in slowly closer. Ms. Bullock waved cutely, smiled a mega-watt smile and did her trade mark crinkled nose at us and that's when the dam burst. The crowd erupted with a roar and pushed over the ropes to try to touch her, with me the only thing in their path. When the dust cleared and security restored order, a stunned Ms. Bullock stared at me and mouthed "what happened?". I shrugged "I don't know" in disbelief. They announce the beginning of the premier and Ms. Bullock races in to her seat for the introduction of the cast.
I posted a picture of me from that night and I think it shows the exact expression that was on my face when I encountered Sandra Bullock minutes later (lol). I stood next to Jessica Lange(King Kong), Tom Skerrit(Picket Fences) and Kathy Bates as they walked the red carpet at the premiere of Bonneville earlier that night. I cheered in support of Kathy Bates as she is a great actress but gets a bum rap about her size. And about that reported large size; Ms. Bates is very small in height (maybe 5'0") and is definitely overweight but she really was not that much bigger than the other women in the crowd but she is lots bigger than the rest of the women of the cast, especially Jessica Lange and Joan Allen who must be size 0-2.
See the films lined up for TIFF 2009 at www.tiff.net
Learn more about the movie Infamous and watch Sandra Bullock in the slide show with some of the other TIFF arrivals that I saw at TIFF in 2006:
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Breaking Industry News:
Industry sources announce that Disney has bought Marvel Comics for $4 billion dollars. I can't say I'm surprised at this acquisition in light of the plethora of comic book inspired blockbuster movies of summer 2008 and 2009. The slate of proposed films for 2010 proves this trend is likely to continue for a few years more. Still, I have a few concerns that the "House of Mouse" (which gears its films toward kids or tween girls) and Marvel Comics (which usually gears their films toward teen and adult males) might not be a good fit. I especially can't imagine how they will merge the two brands at current Disney theme parks. Then there is the merchandising that comes with each super-hero and movie, the rights of which are tied up in different studios and different amusement parks (Universal Studios). Yikes!
Response to the sale was mixed today, as some fans expressed sentiments similar to my initial fears. In fact, one guy on youtube was having a mini-melt down (stay on your meds bro). Don't get me wrong, I have loved Disney since I cried my way through Bambi and laughed as I watched Mickey kill flies and threaten giants in Brave Little Tailor when I was 6 or 7. Everything Disney film division has done has worked out so far, so I should have a little more faith that they can pull this off too (without watering down or girlie-fying the Marvel brand). Stan "the Man" Lee, the founder of Marvel, was interviewed yesterday and he even raved about the deal. Hey, as a true Marvel Comics fan for nearly four decades, if Stan Lee says it's good then that's good enough for me.
Here's the link to Stan Lee's interview:
Disney's Brave Little Tailor video link
Well, "so long sports fans".