Friday, March 28, 2008

Irrational Anger on can be fun

So, I love reading people's comments on movies on It's way more fun then just reading about the movies. People get all huffy and stupid and belligerent about the dumbest things, but they can also be sincere, intelligent, rational, and informative. Rarely do they have discussions about the film techniques or acting choices, but often I think it gives a much more accurate view of the movie and where it stands in our culture.

For example: Jane Austen.

These talk pages are full of who loves what about what books/movies. Who has had what fantasy about what actor/character from what movie/book. Who liked/didn't like what ending. But rarely do you read "This was crap" or something like it. The discussions go from intelligent to giggly, but always with a sense of love for either the movie or the original material.

No Country For Old Men was filled with talk pages about the ending and what it meant and who liked it and who didn't and why.

Then there are the other boards. Horton Hears a Who has devolved into a discussion on abortion. Any Elizabeth I movie is ultimately going to be a historical discussion with someone idiotically yelling "It's just a movie, it doesn't have to have real history!"

Today I stopped by the boards for 21, a movie about MIT students who learn to count cards and make a fortune in Vegas. It's based on a true story. But in the true story the students were Asian, in the movie I think one of the lesser characters might be Asian. I saw a documentary recently about Asian actors (and I will say ACTORS because they didn't cover Asian women in Hollywood at all...but that's another argument for another board.) In the documentary an actual casting director said there are just no parts in Hollywood for Asian actors. This story seems perfectly primed for it, and yet 21 was made without the Asian characters.

And you'd better believe this came up. In fact, it seems to have come up a lot on the talk pages. So much that this post was added:

Stop the Racist Crap!!! by skachick7000

All I see on this freaking board is "racist this, and racist that"...but aren't you guys forgetting the preview only says it's inspired by a true story? I don't remember it saying "based off the book Bringing Down The House".

I am soooo tired of all of these "this movie is racist" remarks in all of these movies I look up!! Just shake your head and spend your $10 watching some other movie. Do you know how much racism, sexism, violence, etc goes on everyday in every neighborhood in America and you're whining over some White actors over Asian

Cue the violins!

I didn't respond. I think this is an awful thing to say, but I felt that the other people probably adeguetly added their anger in response. I settled in to listen to the resulting food fight. But this comment got me into the fray:

Re: Stop the Racist Crap!!! by mcelite
At the end of the day it does not matter. Asian American, Caucasian, Black, Yellow, Orange, Purple, whatever race, color, ethnicity, we are all people, the pigment of our skin, and the culture which we have. These are our own, not others, and to be upset, or angry at another HUMAN being for any reason that derives from their race, is racism.

Those of you complaining about white actors over "asian-american" actors are just as racist, as complaining over the opposite. The fact is, people auditioned for a role in the film, they were given it by the way they performed. If however, the subject of race was in the casting directors mind, then so be it. Accept it and move on.

The end all, be all, is we are all people. The sooner you get past your racial boundaries the quicker you will realize, we are all the same.

My response here:

I think you both miss the point and have no idea what racism is and how it is used.

I suggest you look it up:

Racism is not just about defining one race over another. It is the practice of using race to discriminate, create prejudicial laws, and create a false superiority of one race over another.

If someone complains, like in this instance, that the real person/character was originally Asian but that it appears it was changed in the movie to appeal to white America then yes, that person is complaining about a racist activity. Studios, casting directors, and directors will say out loud that there are no parts for Asian actors. Yet, here we see a place where the character(s) was originally Asian. So we have to ask ourselves, why did they change it? Is it possible that the Studio assumed America wouldn't pay money to see a minority (any minority) succeed? Be sexy? Get what he deserves? Play against racial (and racist) stereotypes to win? These are legitimate questions. Until we track down the casting agent or the people who made the decisions, we wont know the answer. But, in all honesty, racism can be factored in. Either the racism of the studio, or the studio playing into assumed racism in the American audience. But you'd be wrong to think that these actors were cast because they were the best to show up to the audition. That isn't the way Hollywood works. Anyone who as spent any time in front of or behind a camera knows that.

Now you, on the other hand, have obviously never experienced any type of real prejudice or racism. Why do I say that? Because only someone on that side of the fence would blame the people being put down and kept down for their skin color, their ethnicity, and their background who feel racism in their history books, in the movies they see and the TV they watch. Only someone who has never felt racism would blame the victim of it for creating racial boundaries. I'm glad you wish they didn't exist. But don't say something dumb like "get over it". You say if we do find out that the casting director is racist then accept it and move on. Nice. So, if we do find out that it was the studio bosses, the casting directors, and who ever we should just accept it and move on. If we find out it is the teachers, the police, the politicians and our neighbors we should just accept it and move on. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

My friend, at the end of the day is when it matters most. You tell Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that at the end of the day racism and his skin color don't matter. You tell that to Malcolm X that at the end of the day it didn't matter. They only died fifty years ago. You think we've come so far since then?

We are all just people and we are all equal. But don't kid yourself and think the color barriers and the economic barriers were created by anyone other than those people who were and are in power and would like to keep it that way.

The sooner you start caring about the equal treatment of all people, the sooner you will be right and we will all be just people. The more you say "accept it" the worse it will get.

Too much, maybe. But, righteous anger is such a high.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dream I had last night

There was a little girl. A cartoon girl. She was eating something or waiting for something. Behind her was a building and I could see a grate that led to a duct or something. The girl, thinking her friends were in there, moved the grate aside and crawled into the duct. The duct was actually where all the kitchen grease went after it was thrown down the drain. It was slick and the girl couldn't turn around. She fell and fell and fell. There was nothing to stop the fall. She fell until she hit water. But she was too big to turn around in the duct, and couldn't grab the wall to pull her self out. She was trapped. I watched her drown. From under the water. I saw her face as the air finally left her body.

This was really just a very small portion of the dream. It another part Annie Leibovitz was trying to rearrange my office. But that part doesn't feel important, and it's not impenetrable. I've been very involved in my own hobby of photography recently, I really only buy Vanity Fair to see what Annie's done next and I saw her on American Masters last night. And I've rearranged my own office and I like it the way it is. So, again. Not impenetrable.

But that little girl. That little cartoon girl. And she was a cartoon. Rendered with hairline, fragile markings and dull quiet colors that barely registered. Innocence on her face. Brown hair that blew in the wind. Fat, round legs and little white shoes.

What does it mean? Where is my mind when it does not seem to be mine?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pappa's got a brand new bag!

Just sos yous knows...

I'm posting my pictures and exploits on Flicker as well now (see slide show to the right) but you can see them all here as well.


Reviews and Publicity for Serve by Expiration

Just so that everyone knows, Serve by Expiration (back with more masterbation jokes!) went just fucking fantastic! Here are the reviews and some press for your reading pleasure.

Serve by Expiration
By Linda Ayres-Frederick
Published: March 6, 2008

Thunderbird Theatre Company’s Comedy Skits

“If she ever asks you to be totally honest, feign interest, [give] nonspecific compliments and lie, lie, lie, lie, lie.”

So goes an honest piece of advice from one co-worker to another on the subject of dating in Thunderbird’s latest comic offering now playing at Exit on Taylor. With Work, Life and Minimum Rage at the core of the subject matter, Serve by Expiration comprises several short skits that are long enough to develop their story lines and short enough in most instances not to drive their points into the ground. The dedicated and multi-talented company members that form the cast take on different voices and physical characteristics to differentiate their multiple roles — daring to be outrageous when necessary.

What is most appealing about co-authors Ian Hemenway and Sang S. Kim’s writing is their ability to take an ordinary situation (e.g. a job interview) and take it to its most absurd level. Matt Gunnison is having his 95th interview in two years with the very hot Leah (Jacquie Duckworth). Gunnison pulls out all the stops physically while comfortably spewing the sub-textual thoughts of this long unemployed man with no experience but desperate enough to take shit to get the job that will most likely be about taking shit.

Sexual double entendres abound and no entendres are needed to show off the male member contained (barely) in Christopher P. Kelly’s character’s pants. He’s the office lothario who is clueless when it comes to dealing with Jenni Gebhardt’s lack of interest in him. Or is it just a rubber penis as another office worker insists? Oops! Complaints about workplace conduct conversation are dealt with in another scene between Jacquie and Jenni by supervisor Nathan Tucker whose strangely exaggerated nasal voice communicates his ultimately pistol-whipped nature.

There’s even a “manaplant” (half human/half plant organism) who “cries all the time, has a hundred words for pain but no word for joy,” and whose tears get tasted by the others. Tavis Kammet plays the human half. Workers beware. He could be what replaces you next.

These terrified-of-becoming-thirty-somethings are desperate for contact but most of it comes from cyber porn. It’s a fascinating and funny journey into the all-too-familiar world of Office where some in management positions are “as compelling as wet toilet paper.” It’s the little things that make the job suck: overbearing bosses; unrequited office romances (Wilton Yeung); the coffee barista (Faith Aeryn) who’s trying to start a worker’s revolution. Sound familiar? In bite size portions of comedy, Thunderbird, now in its tenth year, has captured the awkward heartbeat and hot beat of the nightmare job-holding work force. Directed by Claire Rice, Serve by Expiration proves that no job is worth hiding under your desk and crying about. A Tall Notch above Sketch Comedy worth checking out!

Serve by Expiration continues through March 15th at Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor Street, San Francisco.

Tickets ($15 to $20) are available by phone at (415) 289.6766 and online at

Serve by Expiration EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 289-6766,, $15-20 sliding scale. Thurs/13-Sat/15, 8pm. Let's start with a little confession. I have never worked in a cubicle (internships don't count), and Dilbert makes me cringe. Oh, hilarious, blank-faced, poorly drawn stereotypes of entropic humanity, how refreshing! Thankfully Thunderbird Theatre's Serve by Expiration relishes in sending up the same stereotypes by taking them to the most illogical of extremes. The old bad interview gambit? Why not have the desperate interviewee (Matt Gunnison) pull pudding from his pants and offer handjobs to the mailroom? The old office-greening gag? Enter the "Maniflower" (Tavis Kammet) — the pollution-imbibing, oxygen-expelling employee of the future (replete with a very unique pollination system). The old unrequited office romance conundrum? Why not send in Super Mario (Jenni Gebhardt) for a little heart-to-heart counsel over a case of Pabst? A fearless lineup of Thunderbird regulars and a few newbies keep their faces straight and the energy popping throughout, and though there might be a few too many references to video games for this technophobe to fully appreciate, overall the material translates universally, even to (or maybe especially to) the clueless. Plus, it definitely inspired me to remain cubeless. (Gluckstern)

This sketch comedy show is about what those people in ties, khakis, and button-downs really get up to at work. Many of the sketches embrace topics that hit television shows like The Office only hint at — the joys of online porn, masturbation, and cursing out your superior. Yet even if it isn't exactly breaking new ground, the always-plucky Thunderbird Theatre Company keeps the hour-and-45-minute evening engaging by injecting its own brand of goofy fun. More often than not, the bits are amusing. Christopher P. Kelly literally throws himself into roles such as a sexually desperate co-worker and a bank robber-cum-aspiring playwright, and Jenni Gebhardt and Faith Aeryn are both ridiculous and touching as the incarnations of Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda, trying to cheer up an office drone who gets through his work day only by playing their games. It won't open your eyes to a whole new way of viewing your day job, but the Thunderbird gang presents the office staples we know and love with such verve and silliness that you will often find yourself chuckling along.

'Serve by Expiration': Working it for laughs

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The office has been fodder for rich comedy over the past few years - the movie "Office Space," Dilbert cartoon and, of course, the American and British versions of "The Office." But, in the production by sketch comedy group Thunderbird Theatre Company, titled "Serve by Expiration," the goal isn't just to mock annoying bosses and bureaucratic nonsense. Everyone is implicated, including the audience, in the mundane reality of 9-to-5 work.

"It's essentially a comedic theory about general apathy," says co-writer Sang Kim, who collaborated with Ian Hemenway on the script and has worked with Thunderbird for five years. "It's a series of sketches and vignettes about the silent suffering while we're quietly at work."

Kim jokingly refers to the crucible of cubicles as a "crime against humanity." His concern is how even though we know that office politics, bad lighting and an irritating co-worker are good problems to have in the face of far greater human suffering elsewhere, they still affect us.

"It's not the end of the world, but since we're human and inherently it's 'all about us,' it feels that way," he says. "We turn a magnifying glass on that."

The play isn't a realist work, though. Kim says they start in normal places and go off into the absurd, which makes sense given the sketch comedy roots. There are 11 sketches, and eight actors onstage.

Kim writes what he knows: He's an immigration lawyer, but he's worked in a video store, been a waiter, done retail and held an untold number of assistant posts. "Fill in the assistant," he says, "administrative assistant, office assistant, it all seems to involve making copies, taking calls and opening spreadsheets. In all of my jobs, fluorescent lights have been involved."

The set is fixed but the action takes place in different venues in and around the office: a coffee shop, a cubicle, a conference room, executive suites, a bank and so on. Kim says he hopes it's not "too real" for the audience. "We don't want anyone to leave with post-traumatic stress."

Overall, Kim characterizes the show's tone as bittersweet. "As much as we like to be detached - think, oh, this is just my day job - from 8-to-5, you're thinking about it even if you're thinking about not thinking about it. That's the horrible irony that goes on."

8 p.m. Tonight-Sat. Through March 15. $15-$20. Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F. (415) 289-6766.

-Reyhan Harmanci,