The Shapiro Files

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Second Set of Tokyo Photos Posted

I have finally posted my second set of Tokyo photos, covering days 4-6 of my Japan adventure. And in case you've missed them, the first set can be found here.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend Roundup

I'm a little worn out from two days of gardening-related work (see below) to offer the usual dose of random reflections on life, the universe, and everything. So instead I offer this bulleted encapsulation of my Memorial Day weekend:

  • Friday night, went to see fellow former Ballyhoo producer/cast member Cathy in Pajama Game. Afterwards we had Becky (Sunny in Ballyhoo), her boyfriend (and our friend) Ron, and friend and former Guys and Dolls star Michael over to our house for cookies and conversation. Since it was the end of the week and fairly late by the time we made it to our house, we were all pretty tired. Still it was great spending time with the gang.

  • Marcie, her mother Rosie, and I spent a big chunk of Saturday shopping for baby stuff. Marcie's parents very generously bought us a crib and mattress, "glider" rocking chair, stroller, and car seat. Later that evening we watched a couple of Netflix DVDs, The Assassination of Richard Nixon (great performance by Sean Penn) and Team America: World Police (very funny satire on both our current administration's "cowboy diplomacy" and big-budget action movies).

  • All of Sunday was spent gardening around the deck in our back yard. This included removing all of the ugly plants and debris that have been an embarrassment since we bought the house, preparing the soil (hours of hard work), and finally planting a whole bunch of beautiful impatiens. This was followed by an additional couple of physically-intense hours fighting with our drip irrigation system (incredibly frustrating).

  • I resumed work on the drip system today (Memorial Day Monday) and after yet another trip to OSH for more parts (the place was packed — obviously I wasn't the only person working around the house over the holiday weekend), I finally got everything working. I was so relieved. Later this evening, we went to Marcie's parent's house for their annual Memorial Day barbecue.
My back, arms, and hands are now incredibly sore from all that gardening/sprinkler work and I desperately need a holiday from my holiday.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Getting Ready

Last Saturday, our friend Aimee came over with her beautiful baby girl Ashlee. Then on Sunday, we drove to Santa Cruz to spend some time with our friends Ken and Lisha and their adorable baby girl Malena. In addition to the enjoyment of spending time with friends we get from such visits, they are also helping us to get mentally prepared for having our own baby girl in the near future. Here are a couple of fun photos of us in "parent dress rehearsal mode" with little baby Ashlee (click on a photo for a larger image):

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sith Happens

Darth VadarI finally had a chance to see the new Star Wars movie last night. It's strange having now seen it, as it was essentially a long-delayed fulfilled wish of a much younger me. After all, what kid from 1977 through 1983 wasn't a big fan of the original Star Wars movies? But more than the movies themselves, the thing that made the biggest impression on me as a kid is the back story of Anakin Skywalker's descent into evil. I still remember where I was the first time I heard this story. I was in summer camp and we were on a bus on a field trip and one of the camp counselors told the story of Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin's fight above some sort of lava pit — a fight that ultimately resulted in Anakin's near-death and his subsequent need for that creepy Darth Vader suit. This story created such vivid images in my mind that I thrilled at the prospect of a possible new series of films depicting events to take place before those shown in the then-current Star Wars films.

Fast-forward almost 20 years later and the impossible came true: a new Star Wars trilogy was underway. I was excited as anyone in my age group at the prospect of seeing "Episode I" after waiting so many years.

Talk about disappointment.

When I think of some of the biggest let-downs of my adult life, seeing The Phantom Menace was right at the top of list. Perhaps 20 years of anticipation was too much for any movie to live up to. But, holy moly, did that film stink.

And now six years later, I went to see the movie that would finally depict those scenes I vividly saw in my imagination when I was a little kid. Did it live up to my expectations? Of course not. But at least it didn't stink. It was even fun at times and frequently visually beautiful. Still, when one of the first things you can say about a Star Wars movie is "It didn't stink," you know things have changed. Growing up sure is hard to do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Making Movies

Cinema Nightmares rehearsals have officially begun. Our first rehearsal on Saturday consisted of us looking at clips of films we'll be parodying (and even acting out a couple of those scenes to help us establish our "movie nightmare" characters) and doing table-reads of our scenes. Brian (Norman in the movie) had a last-minute conflict so the rehearsal consisted of just Fernanda (who plays Mary) and me. It was good to have a nice relaxed first rehearsal for us to work on our two scenes together. Our director Jerry was really good throughout about giving us specific "beats" to help motivate action and to heighten comic moments. So I felt we were off to a great start.

Because of Brian's absence we scheduled a new rehearsal for last night, which turned out to be extremely productive. All three of us where there and we worked through every scene. Both Brian and Fernanda were great (both are very natural and funny) and it'll be fun to watch them go full-out when we start shooting in a couple of weeks.

Incidentally, it seems that the title "Cinema Nightmares" is actually a working title. I'll post something here when the official title is announced. Also, as I promised, here's a link to the film's website. It currently includes a description of the project, the director's CGI Titanic model, and cast headshots. Production notes and photos will likely be added in the near future.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

First Set of Tokyo Photos Posted

I’ve finally had a chance to post my first set of Tokyo photos, covering the first three days of my Japan adventure. Members of our group you'll see in the photos include Jason and his then-fiancée (now wife) Hiromi, Jason’s long-time friend Bill and his wife Candace, Bay Area friend David and his girlfriend Amy, father Norman, stepmother Ginnie, and step-brother-in-law Fred. Check back soon for the next set of photos.

Tokyo Photo

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I'm Going To Be in a Movie!

I've just been cast in a short independent film by a local filmmaker. I realize I had said that in light of upcoming parenthood, Ballyhoo was going to be my theatrical "swan song" for a while. But this was such a unique opportunity with a fairly short time commitment that I just had to go for it. Also, the operative word here was theatrical — I never said anything about film acting!

Now I know I hadn't mentioned any of this earlier. But like many people in the performing arts, I typically don't like to mention my auditions to too many people ahead of time, as not getting a part is depressing enough without having to share the bad news with lots of people. But I'm now free to share the news here.

I'll talk more about the specifics of the project in future posts, but I should at least explain that it truly is a short (probably 10-15 minutes) independent production, shot on digital video, intended for submission to film festivals. The title of the film is Cinema Nightmares and it's a comedy about a couple (Mary and Norman) living together who are big movie buffs with vastly differing tastes. She likes romantic movies like Titanic and he like thrillers like Misery and Psycho. In the course of the film, the two main characters have nightmares in which they "star" in each other's favorite films. My character is named Richard, the ex-boyfriend of Mary. I appear in each of the couple's dreams, once as Cal (Rose's fiance) from Titanic and once as Rick, the Humphrey Bogart character in Casablanca. So yes, this part requires me to do a Humphrey Bogart impression, which was the main focus of my audition.

The director is putting up a website for the film and I'll provide a link to it on this blog in the very near future. And of course, stay tuned here for rehearsal and production notes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Jetlagged and Fancy Free

I'm back from my adventures in Tokyo. It was quite an action-packed week of exploring, eating great food (and lots of it), attending a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony of a long-time friend, and playing piano and singing at his wedding reception. I literally have over a thousand digital photos on my PowerBook collected from everyone in our group and I hope to have a webpage up soon of around 50 of the best photos for everyone's viewing pleasure.

Until then, and of no particular relevance, here's a cute Off the Mark cartoon about reading, one of my favorite activities, but from a unique perspective:


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I'm flying out to Japan this afternoon to visit my friend Jason in Tokyo and to play piano at his wedding next Saturday. Although there's a good chance I'll have some access to the Internet while I'm there, it's unlikely I'll be making any updates to this blog during my visit. But stay tuned for plenty more of my random reflections upon my return next week.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Beauty of Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson was one of the all-time greatest comic strips. Although Watterson stopped creating new strips ten years ago, Universal Press Syndicates continues to syndicate "reruns" of the cartoon to a number newspapers across the country and to the ucomics website. Like Calvin, I hated playing sports as a kid so this week's re-syndicated strips hit particularly close to home.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Ballyhoo Photos Aplenty

At long last, I've gotten around to posting Last Night of Ballyhoo production photos, publicity photos, and a new page of backstage snapshots to my website. Here's the complete list of Ballyhoo photo albums: