Category Archives: Television

broke the bonds and loosed the chains

Pauly:

If more Americans read books every night instead of watching TV, we’d live in a more productive society. If more Americans watched the news and read real newspapers and magazines, instead of crappy programs like American Idol, then I’m confident that George Bush would not be our president. But heck, that’s what our leaders really want deep down… a mindless, uneducated populous that will work 40 hours a week so they can earn enough money to buy things to keep them distracted from the evil deeds that our leaders and suits in Fortune 500 companies are conducting everyday under your noses.

Amen. It’s interesting to think of turning off the television and being less of a consumer as an act of rebellion, but I think Pauly has a valid point, at the very least worthy of consideration if not action. I know how happy and free I feel after cleaning a bunch of needless stuff out my house (and life) recently, and since I’m not completely overwhelmed by stuff that is ultimately not that important, I feel like I can address various mental and spiritual aspects of my life that need attention, now that I’m not constantly battling with a huge pile of material bullshit on a daily basis.

I’ve been making an effort to turn off the TV, walk away from the Internets, turn on the radio, and read lots of books. It’s nothing heady — I just finished Monster Island, and I’m in the first third of Cell — but I agree with Pauly. Reading activates and nourishes a different part of my brain than watching TV, even if it’s not Hemmingway or Feynman or something weighty. It also makes me want to write more, which is something I sorely need.

I’ve also made an effort over the last few weeks to unplug, and get out of the house every day, even if it’s just out into my yard, or my patio garden. Anne and I have been getting out of the house and walking like crazy, in preparation for the marathon this weekend (you can still sponsor our team here), and though we’re down to the “easy” six mile walks this week (we’re just tuning up to walk a half marathon, instead of running a full one, remember), it’s still great to get out of the house and breathe deeply for a couple of hours every morning. All the flowers in our neighborhood are in bloom, too, so it’s almost like walking through the best flower shop in the world, but it’s also filled with birds and those really friendly people who get up early to walk during the week.

My soul still needs nourishment, and my life is still out of Balance, but I’m getting closer to finding it. I think all this physical pain in my hip and up my back and on my shoulders is a physical manifestation of my current disarray, and I’m glad my body finally forced me into tuning up my diet and getting more exercise, both physical and psychic.

dropped to the sun alone

Anne and Ryan were out on Friday, which left Nolan and me to goof off at home when I got back from working on Legion of Super Heroes.

We had big plans: some Magic: The Gathering, a little Brawl, and maybe some OGRE and heads-up poker.

But when I got home, the goddamn pine tree in the front yard dropped a huge ball of pollen down on my car, and I spent the next four hours on the couch sneezing and trying to fight off the allergy-induced headache that felt like it was going to split my head in twain. Good times. Good times.

Nolan ended up playing Diablo II while I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles pwn the Los Angeles Angels of Not Los Angeles Because We Play In Orange County But Our Idiot Owner Wants To Have Los Angeles In Our Name Because He’s A Moron.

For those of you who missed the sixth inning massacre, the final board was:

LAD – 16 25 1
LAANLABWPOCBOIOWHLAIOWBHAM: 3 10 2

Of course, the Dodgers did their best to blow their fifteen run lead, by letting Carter come in and give up three hits and a run, and though I normally don’t like games that are total blowouts, watching the Dodgers on the winning side of it for a change, and especially at the expense of the stupid Angels who swept us last year, was awesome. I should also add that the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles shutout the Los Angeles Because We Play In Orange County But Our Idiot Owner Wants To Have Los Angeles In Our Name Because He’s A Moron to complete the sweep, and move up to 1/2 a game out of first in what is probably the weakest division this side of 7 year-olds playing little league.

Speaking of the Dodgers, yesterday, my dad took me to Chavez Ravine for some LAD vs LAANLABWPOCBOIOWHLAIOWBHAM action, and it was awesome. There are pictures in my buzznet blog, including a shot of Tommy Lasorda, who is the closest to royalty you’ll see at Dodger Stadium, who got a standing ovation from our entire section when he walked from his seat to wherever it is you go when you’re Tommy Fucking Lasorda and you rule.

Anyway, back to Friday: After the only team on the field worthy of having Los Angeles in their name blew the game wide open, I picked up my bag of comics from Free Comic Book Day, and finally had a look at the books I picked up. Most of them were a solid "meh," but that’s the whole point of FCBD: to see new stuff that may not excite everyone, but introduce new readers to new material. If you’re a guy like me who is already pretty narrow in tastes, it’s unlikely you’re going to find much that excites you. However, there were a few things that I really liked that I’ll pick up next time I’m at my friendly local comics shop:

The Bongo freebie was also funny (and funnier than the average episode of the Simpsons these days, which is not meant as a backhanded complement) and the Fantagraphics Funnybook was fantastic.

Around ten, my antihistamines finally started to work, and my headache began to subside as it was overtaken by drowsiness. I fell asleep watching Dark City, which is still a hell of a lot of fun to watch, whether you’ve got a head filled with antihistamines or not.

Today, Anne and I opened up a new front in the War on Shit All Over Our House and Yard (Operation Enduring Yardwork) and pruned the hell out of a tree in the front yard, as well as tearing out all the weeds that had attempted to establish a beachhead in one of our front yard planters. Rain threatened all day today, but never arrived, which was great, because the combination of breeze and humidity provided just the right level of comfort for fighting the forces of Bermuda grass and their allies the tree-looking things that spring up all over the goddamn place. In a fit of planning ahead, I did my best Sean Penn imitation and snorted a whole bunch of Flonase (relax, I have a prescription) before I started the work today, and I was able to work for about five hours before simple exhaustion overcame me (rather than the sneezing and allergy-related misery I experienced Friday night.)

After all my yard work was done, I decided to take a break and play a little poker at PokerStars, so I hopped into a 4-player heads-up sit-n-go (I was inspired after watching the Heads-up Championship on NBC this morning.) I really like those matches, because most of the players at the lower buy-ins are very straightforward (so you know your pair of kings is no good when they bet into you on an A-high board) and you only have to beat two players to win three buy-ins, instead of 8 players in a regular sit-n-go. At one point, my first round opponent had me down to just a few big blinds, but I got insanely lucky and bounced back, tilting him in the process and taking it down. My second round opponent had the classic online tell: he’d check the "check/fold" box when he was in the BB if he didn’t like his hand, so I’d call and if he insta-checked, I knew I could bet no matter what on the flop and get him to fold. I rode the right combination of luck and trusting my reads to victory, turning my mighty five dollar buy-in into twenty dollars when I flopped TP and a flush draw with AT and got him to call me with KT when my flush missed.

Okay, now it’s time to go watch The Simpsons, in the lame hope that it manges to be funny this week.

Uh, okay, the whole opening bit with the attacking couches? Brilliant. Even if the rest of the show veers off into that weird Jesusland they’ve been hitting so frequently this season, that was worth the price of admission.

Wait. The baseball bit? Very funny. This "homer is the relationship counselor" bit? The polar opposite of funny. Are they hiring old 1970s sit-com writers? This is like a rejected Three’s Company script. Give me another monorail, please. Please, I beg you.

catching up, part one

I’ve been too busy to write about some cool things that I’ve experienced, recently. I’m taking the next few hours to catch up . . .

kyle + rosemary

The kyle + rosemary recording session was as much fun as I thought it would be. Jun cast a brilliant woman to play Rosemary, whose voice combined perfectly with her character model, and made it easy for me to commit to Kyle’s head-over-heels crush on her.

I’ve never been particularly good at doing voices, but with Jun’s help, I found a voice for Kyle that was soft and sweet and a little insecure, that I was really, really happy with.

Jun (director / creator) and Jentle (voice of Rosemary) were great fun to collaborate with, and we had a great time riffing together and discovering some funny stuff that surprised us all. One of my favorite moments was trying to come up with something to replace "severed head," which the S&P folks had decided was forbidden. We tried a few different things, and Jun settled on replacing the severed head with a skull. I suggested we make it a flaming skull, because "everything is funnier when you set it on fire." 

I saw Don the Coolest Guard in the World when I went in, but he wasn’t there when I left, so I didn’t get to thank him personally. I heard from a few people at Nickelodeon that someone did show him my blog, though, so he knows. I hope I get to go back to Nickelodeon soon and shake his hand.

kyle + rosemary is not a sold pilot; it’s a short film that will be considered by Nickelodeon for series development early next year. When I have more information about when it’s airing and how you can watch it, I’ll let you know.

Legion of Super Heroes

I’ve done two episodes of Legion so far, and I go back for another one tomorrow. I really can’t say anything about it, because the Warner Animation Goonsquad will totally come after me and take away my super powers . . . but it’s just amazing, and I think people are really, really going to like it.

More later . . .

the lost experience

Initially, I thought this (possible spoilers) would be a fun puzzle-solving game to play over the summer, while waiting for season three to start, figuring out what Dharma is about, Hanso Foundation rabbits with Persephone . . . but after last week’s Sprite tie-in, and last night’s stupid Jeep commercial, I’m beginning to think the big secret message from The Hanso Foundation will be "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

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it’s cosmic, man

I was very spoiled by Teen Titans. It was a fantastically talented group of actors, writers, and animators, lead by passionate producers and one of the best directors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I was crushed when the show was cancelled not only because it meant I wouldn’t have the job, but because it meant that I wouldn’t get to work with this incredible group of people several times a year any more.

When I found out that I would be working on Legion of Super Heroes, I was excited, but I kept my expectations in check . . . what were the odds of lightning striking twice?

Well, it turns out that those odds were 1:1. I had an absolute blast on Friday. The entire cast accepted me right away, and welcomed me into their show (they’ve been working together for eleven episodes, already) and made me feel like I was part of their team who had been there from the start. The producers, writers, and the director were just hawesome, and I can’t wait to go back and work with them all again this week . . . because I’m a recurring character!

Oh yeah, baby. Recurring character. Sweet.

I know that Warner Brothers is very touchy about revealing too many details before they are announced (Marv Wolfman and I got our wrists slapped when we both mentioned something about Aqualad on our blogs when we worked together on Deep Six) but I got an okay from a highly-placed source to at least reveal that I am playing the part of Cosmic Boy, one of the founders of the Legion.

Finding Cosmic Boy’s voice was fun: my instinct said that I should stand for him (he’s sort of an arms-across-the-chest kind of guy) but with my damn hip hurting, I ended up sitting . . . big mistake. I struggled for the first act, until I could get the engineer to reset my mic so I could stand up. It’s amazing what a huge difference a little thing like sitting vs. standing makes; it’s the difference between playing outfield with or without a glove, or running with shoes that don’t quite fit.

Standing up and settling into him let me bring Cosmic Boy to life, and really find his point of view about himself and his relationship with the other Legionaries. Once I knew who he was, and once he lived in me, I was able to do some really cool stuff. At one point in the last act, I felt so confident that I knew him, I even asked for a second take on a line where I thought I could play a more interesting beat than I did in the first take, which everyone on the other side of the glass was very happy with. I rarely ask for additional takes because if an actor is going to ask for a second pass he’d better have something really great to do, to justify the extra time and expense, and until recently I just haven’t had the level of confidence as a voice actor necessary to pull that off.

I can’t say exactly what dialogue or scene was, but you Meisner actors will probably grok this: there are three beats in the line. The first time I did it, I set him straight, enlightened him, and went one better. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized that enlightening him and going one better were essentially the same beat, so I asked for another take where I set him straight, enlightened him, and shared bad news, which sort of went one better but was more specific and "shaded" differently and was more interesting. I felt an emotional connection to the words and the scene after the second take, and I guess the other actors did, too. One of them said, "Oh, I really liked that," and another said, "Dude, you’re not Cosmic Boy; you’re Actor Boy!" To which I replied (in a Ted Knight voice), "Yes, Actor Boy . . . who, in his disguise as Waiter Boy, keeps the city safe from doooom."  And there was much rejoicing.

I wish I could show or discuss the character models I saw while I was there, but I think that’s a one-way ticket to unemployment . . . but they are really, really cool. I’m back again on Friday, and if Warner Brothers doesn’t give me the cockpunch for what I’ve written here today, maybe I can get some permission to release a few more details. Now, I think I’m going to walk around my house and talk like Ted Knight.

"Meanwhile, in Wil’s office, Ferris and Riley sleep on the floor, unaware that a mysterious stranger lurks just outside the wall. Can Actor Boy arrive in time to save them from doooooom? Only Monroe and Spaulding know for sure!"

kyle + rosemary

Picture_2_1
I
‘m always careful not to post too many details about auditions, or the content of things I’ve worked on, because it usually freaks out the people who hired me, who want to maintain some mystery about their project, control the publicity, or reserve the right to keep the whole damn thing a secret until they are good and ready to share it with the world.

With that in mind, I haven’t talked too specifically about the project that I booked yesterday. In fact, I figured I’d wait until I went to work, so I could ask the director (who is also the writer and creator) if it was cool to put out a few details, and maybe even a character model or two.

Well, I think it’s okay to talk about the show a bit more now, because Jun, the director, e-mailed me this morning with a link to her blog all about the show!

The show is called Kyle + Rosemary, and I am Kyle. (That’s Kyle on the right there, and Rosemary is down a bit on the left, for those of you who like reading obvious things that are put into parentheses and then become the subject of much meta-commentary by the writer, who feels the need to talk about himself in the third person, when the smart thing to do all along was just to delete the damn parenthetical statement and trust that his reader wouldn’t need it anyway. But then the writer, who is really amusing himself by now, is all excited that he got to use the fifty-cent word "parenthetical" within a parenthetical, which is almost as good as having an intalicized footnote.[1])

Yesterday, I wrote "I felt such a connection with the character, and had so much fun
looking at his character model and creating the voice and character it
inspired . . ."
so here’s a little bit on how that works for me. Follow along with Kyle (who is on the right over there. See previous parenthetical statement, kthnx.)

When I go into the booth to do a character, I do different things with my body to make him come out of me. Aqualad is a little haughty, because he’s a prince, so to create his voice and character, I sit straight up, with my back off the chair, put my hands on my knees (Ensign Ro-style) and hold my chin up when I talk. I don’t know how all that comes together to create him, but I know that it works.

For Kyle, my initial voice was way too nerdy and cartoony. Once Jun showed me this drawing, I grokked him. I walked into the booth, let my shoulders slump a little bit, put my hands in my pockets, and sighed right before they rolled tape. She guided me, and Kyle came right out of me, like I’d known him for much longer than the five minutes I’d had his image in my mind.

Jun said some cool things about me on her blog

So, having completed voice casting, after much painful deliberation (there were many great candidates) I decided on Wil Wheaton
for the voice of Kyle. I’d call this an inspired casting choice; for
one thing, Wil is a self-proclaimed geek, and for another, he runs his
own hawesome weblog, in which he professes his geek-ness several times a week.

[. . .]

[W]e as directors and creators go through the casting process with often
rarely a thought to the multiple lines of actors and actresses trooping
through, hoping to get parts on our shows based on the quickest of
auditions – auditions where they have to drive across town for just a
few minutes in front of a microphone, saying the same lines that
everyone else says and hoping to stand out. They are just as excited to
get a part as we are when we sell a show. It’s really nice to have a
little insight into their lives once in a while. Thanks for sharing,
Wil!

Picture_3_1
See? I knew there was a reason I liked her so much. She cares about story, she cares about actors, and she’s a geek blogger (I love the posts in her blog where her mom comments and says how proud she is. That rules.) So if a singularity shows up in Burbank next week, you totally know where to pin the blame (or at least start the investigation, though we’ll be watching you from our newly-discovered higher plane of pure-energy existance, and totally screwing with you through the power of mental thinking.)

I still don’t think it’s cool to gve up too many details about the show, but I think it’s safe to disclose that Kyle and Rosemary meet in a MMORPG, and the show takes place both in the game, where I will get to voice Kyle’s alter ego, Sir Horace, and in the real world, where Kyle and Rosemary can’t hang out, because she is a goth and he is a geek. There are some storyboards of their in-game alter-egos on Jun’s blog, if you want to see them. Oh, and when I voice Sir Horace? I totally stand tall, push out my chest, and put my hands on my hips. When I speak, I take one hand and stab at the air with it, because he is so totally heroic. And the transition from Sir Horace back into Kyle? Way too much fun.

Now I’m off to Shane’s house to pick up my nerd cape. And don’t even ask how it got there, because I’m not telling (though you can probably get Annie to tell you if you ask her nicely enough, and bribe her with coffee.)

[1] Yeah, it’s still good.

finally back to me

Remember the audition I had last week at Nickelodeon?

I had a crush on this project as soon as I read the breakdown. After I
met the director and grokked what sort of story she wants to tell, I
was hopelessly in love with the project. I really, really hope I get
this job.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about jobs after an audition. In fact, I have a ritual where I take my sides, and dump them into the first trash can or recycling bin I find, so I can let go of the whole thing, and put it into the hands of The Universe — or a higher power, like the producers. But this one was different. I felt such a connection with the character, and had so much fun looking at his character model and creating the voice and character it inspired, I thought about the show every day, and called my manager about it several times.

I probably shouldn’t disclose too many details about the story that
I auditioned for, but it is a wonderful, funny, charming animated short
about a geek and a goth who are starcrossed lovers.

I’m sure you’re all surprised to hear that I read for the geek. I used my sense memories to recall the Kyra crush
and did my best to be the kind of guy who "you want to take his glasses
off, and mess up his hair, because he’s so cute and he doesn’t know
it," according to the director, who I really, really liked.

Just now, as I was about to make my daily call to see if we’d heard anything, the phone rang (true story). It was my manager.

"Remember [name of project]?" He said.

"You mean the one I call you about every single day?" I said.

"Yes, that one." He laughed. "You got it."

I lept out of my chair and hollered. "What?! Are you serious?!" Which is a stupid thing to holler, because he wouldn’t call me if he wasn’t. "Really? I really got the job?" Which is also a stupid thing to say, but I’m passing this one off on the surge of adrenaline and seratonin my brains released upon receiving the news.

"Yep. I called to see if they had made a decision yet, and [casting executive] told me that she was just about to call me with the news!" He went on to tell me that the director could have picked anyone in the whole world to do this part, and she chose me.

I’m going to say that again: she could have picked anyone she wanted, and she chose me. Man, that feels so good. I mean, it feels tasp good.

I hung up the phone and ran around the house like a hummingbird being chased by a dog that shoots bees from its mouth.

After all the times I’ve written about the audition that went great, but didn’t work out, or the audition that was a lot of fun, but it turns out I’m not edgy enough, it’s so insanely awesome to write about one where I not only had a great time, but actually get to do more than just the audition sides. When this show is animated and released, for the rest of time, I will be the actor who helped bring that guy to life — and I really love this character. I am so excited! Squee!

Anyway, I had a blast reading for this project, and I was so excited
when I left, I totally forgot to steal a camphone snap of the hawesome
four foot tall SpongeBob made out of LEGO in the lobby. If I get the
job, or the next time I’m at Nick, I’ll grab a picture of it on my way
in, because I’m usually skipping with nerdy excitment whenever I’m on
my way out.

I’ll be sure to snag a picture of the giant LEGO SpongeBob on my way in when I record my dialogue next Wednesday or Thursday, and I’m taking a gift to Don, the most awesome security guy ever, who works at Nick and is always so awesome to me when I go there for an audition.

twenty-one to twenty-three: seventy-two hours of hawesome

This weekend started out on an exceptionally high note: on my way to Dodger Stadium to meet my parents for the Arizona game, I got a call from my manager: one of the producers from Teen Titans is now working on Legion of Superheroes, and wanted to cast me for a part on the new show. I don’t know any details, yet, like if it’s a one-time voice, or a recurring character or what, but I’m working on Friday! Go me!

The Dodger game was superexcellent. Not only did I get to spend an evening with my wife and my parents, but it was a great game that the Dodgers actually managed to hold on and win. Go Dodgers!

Saturday, I bought some new shoes and a new belt  (trust me, this is very exciting) before Anne and I met our friends at Dave and Busters and goofed off for hours. I am the master of coin-flipping soccer, and I have over 20,000 tickets and nothing worth redeeming. Go me (but really go Dave and Busters for making a game that I love to play with no tangible reward . . . yet.)

Sunday, I started the day with some marathon training, but I only got one mile done before I got the goddamn pain in my right side that keeps ruining me. Maybe someone knows what the hell is going on: occasionally, I’ll go out for a jog, and after about two blocks, this tightness starts in my right hip that spreads up my stomach and eventually into my ribs on my right side. Once it starts, it takes about one minute to take over the right side of my body and hurts so severely I can’t even take a deep breath, much less keep running. I always end up just turning around and walking home, because I’ve learned that I can’t even walk it out, because it’s much more (and worse) than a simple stitch in my side; it’s more of a crippling muscle freak out. The worst thing is that I get pissed because my cardio system is fine, the rest of my body feels fine, but I absolutely can’t even jog a half a block. What the hell? I’m only 33 years old, and I can’t even run a block? Why can’t my fucking body just work?! Can you tell that I’m getting pissed just thinking about it?

Anyway, after that unfortunately aborted attempt to get out and exercise, I came home and played some poker online. I played a one table sit-n-go tournament (where you just wait for 9 players to sit down and you go, hence the name.) I got knocked out with my pocket kings vs. ace queen when he caught an ace on the river to bust me. I wasn’t upset, though, because I made the right decision on the play, and he just got lucky. I’ve noticed that when I play at limits I can really afford and I just focus on being decision (rather than result) oriented, I always have a good time and I’m much happier playing, whether I win or lose.

I was talking about this revelation with my friends CJ and Alan, when CJ talked me into playing a three table (27 player) sit-n-go. I had some time to kill while I waited for Anne and Ryan to get home, and Nolan was asleep on the couch (so no guitar hero) so I signed up and played my little heart out.

Dude, I totally won! It only cost $11 to enter, and I won $100 for first place! I was extremely happy with all the decisions I made, including when I made a four-card diamond flush with AT to suckout on a guy who had AA, then fell on the other side of that hand when I was heads-up at the end, with JJ vs something totally lame like T3 suited and he caught a diamond on the end to make his flush. Go me again again!

Anne and Ryan got home right after I finished that tourney, and she wanted to take a nap (yeah, I have a real nap-happy family) so Ryan and I went over to the movie theatre to watch Silent Hill.

I’ve played about 40% of Silent Hill 2, but I didn’t have any expectations for the film, really, and mostly went because Ryan really wanted to see it (he can’t see R-rated films on his own for another four months. Excuse me while I process that reality and have a minor heart attack.)

I really, really liked it. It looks very creepy and spooky (just like the game) and the visual effects are really fantastic. The monsters (especially Red Pyramid and all the bugs) are terrifying, the music is great, the casting is perfect, and though the whole thing requires a some suspension of disbelief, the story is quite solid. In fact, about halfway through the movie, I thought to myself, "Man, this is really quite deep for a horror movie. I wonder why?" When the credits rolled and I saw that it had been written by Roger Avary, I totally understood. Go Roger.

After the movie, we came home and the entire family settled in for some Simpsons (fairly funny, but the over-reliance on musical montages this season is really getting on my nerves) Family Guy (more Stewie-as-gymnast, please) and American Dad (I don’t know how they made an entire episode about anal probing hilarious, but they did) before the rest of my family went to sleep, leaving me to read Cell in alone in the living room where the zombies can totally get me. I eventually watched Survivorman (my new favorite show on cable television) before drifting off to sleep, blissfully content at the end of a fun-filled weekend.

lost

Lost
I just realized that, last night, I front-paged a really huge Lost spoiler. I forgot that lots of non-US viewers read my blog, and I wanted to apologize for that. That sucked, and I’m sorry.

I’ve spent the last 10 days catching up on the entire series, first on DVD and then through iTMS. I have never been so enthralled with a series in my life, not even when I first watched The Prisoner in my teens.

I think it’s so cool that there are things like iTMS (and, uh, other ways which I don’t personally use) to experience an entire series like this. By making their shows easy for me to watch, the producers of Lost have earned a huge fanboy who will now buy merchandise and listen to their podcast, and evangelize on his lame blog about how great their show is.

If you like any of the things that I like, and you’re not watching Lost, you absolutely must. Right now. When you think you’re going to watch American Idol, or Bones, or Medium, or re-runs of that awesome space show with the kid in the sassy grey spacesuit, or anything else at all on television, don’t. Just get yourself the first season on DVD, and spend your allocated television time watching Lost instead. Then find some way to watch the second season (iTMS worked great for me) and keep going. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It is quite possibly the best drama in the history of network television, ever, and I don’t say that lightly.