Friday, December 14, 2012

Creative Impulse

  You can't force creativity.
  That's why, when creativity strikes, or something inspires or moves you to create, you have to seize that opportunity and act. People who are less creative and more analyitcal find it difficult to understand creative impulse and how precious it is to an artist.
  I've gone through many, many cycles of creativity, waxing and waning tortorously. I've always enjoyed the few creative jobs I've held, but in a cruel, ironic twist, using your creativity for work typically leaves you empty of inspiration in your own time.
  So, when images like the one above pop into my head, I look at it as an incredible gift. What made me think of this? Who knows. I've been so agitated, for a while now, about the lack of artistic endeavours in my life. I don't really shoot photos anymore, I don't write. I rarely even blog. Not sure where this dry spell is coming from. The worst part is that I have ideas- I just seem to lack the motivation to follow through on them. I need a spark.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lincoln ain't stinkoln!

  As a man who is neither a student of history or a follower of politics, you would think that Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" would be the last film I would want to see. Although it IS a very political film, and very much a "talking heads" film, I have to say- I enjoyed it immensely. This is to be a spoiler-free review, so don't worry if you haven't seen it yet.
  For one thing, acclaimed director of photography Janusz Kaminski makes this film's visuals absolutely soar. The photography, lighting, composition is nothing short of brilliant. If he doesn't win the Oscar, I'll eat my hat. I don't often wear a hat, but I'll make an exception in this case. Kaminski has worked with Spielberg many times, including on "Munich," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Schindler's List," all of which were equally beautifully photographed.
  While we're talking about brilliance, let me also praise Daniel Day Lewis, who I think is one of the best actors working today. His Lincoln is absolutely incredible. There's been talk in some circles about the voice being odd, but if you look beyond the modern Lincoln stereotype with the deep voice, and go back to the actual man, you'll find that Lewis absolutely nailed it. He spent an entire year finding this character and perfecting Lincoln's "thousand yard stare" and his regional dialect. He speaks like Lincoln, looks like Lincoln, and moves with Lincoln's tall, stooping gait. Again- Oscar. Nobody else stands a chance.
  The supporting players are fine, too, including Tommy Lee Jones as a biting Thaddeus Stevens, and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Joseph Gordon Levitt is great as always as Lincoln's eldest son, Robert. James Spader and his band of miscreants are hilarious, and David Strathairn turns in a solid performance as William Seward.
  As far as historical accuracy goes, I can't say. Often, filmmakers will alter dates or combine several real life characters into one amalgamation in the interests of brevity. There are conspiracy theorists who claim Lincoln didn't really give a damn about slavery, and only wanted to reunite the country because the government was losing money due to most of the nation's seaports (and taxable trade) being in the south. I prefer to go with the version of history that I learned, and the one that's on display here.
  If you are easily bored, or only like movies where lotsa stuff blows up real good, don't go see this film. If you want to get an amazing insight into one of the most volatile periods of our nation's history, and an intimate look at one of our greatest presidents- or you just want to see a very well made film- do go see Lincoln.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chapters and Destiny

  I like to read every night before I go to sleep. It's a great way to wind down and escape the banalities of real life. Typically, I'm deep into some Stephen King novel, but in between those, I read a variety of things- from nonfiction to movie novelizations to scientific studies. Lately, I've been reading old Star Trek books. There was one in particular, called "Log One," that I had purchased sometime back in the mid 80's. I remember seeing it on the shelf at the bookstore, because these "log books" went all the way up to nine or ten. To my knowledge, I never actually read it. Well, I ran across it again recently and decided to give it a go. I was surprised to find that the original copyright of the book was back in the 70's and that this was a third printing.
  After finishing (and thoroughly enjoying) Log One, I decided to go online and see if the other logs were still in print. I found Log Two online and bought it for the hefty sum of one cent plus $3.00 s/h. What a deal!
  It came in the mail yesterday, and I was happy to see that it was a first print, copyright 1974. This book was printed the year I was born.
  As I looked over the artfully camp cover, I thought about the life of this book. We were born in the same year. I went about the business of growing up, and the book was printed and shipped off to some bookstore somewhere. Somebody bought it, eventually, and had it in their own book collection. Somewhere down the line, it was either sold, or given away, maybe lost somewhere and found by somebody else. Down through thirty eight years, my life went on as the book journeyed to who-knows-where. Ultimately, it ended up in some warehouse where it waited for me to buy it, using a technology that hadn't even been invented when the book was printed. It's just incredible sometimes to think about how things end up in our hands. It's astronomical, all the things that had to line up to make that happen.
  Granted, I have much older books in my collection. I have an Edgar Allen Poe book from the turn of the 20th century. I found it in a very old bookstore in Scotland. Think about where THAT book came from, and how it ended up in my hands. It was printed a couple of decades before the Titanic sailed. I love that.
  Our lives are like that, aren't they? Novels. Stories filled with characters, broken into chapters. Good times and bad. Tragedy and triumph. I saw a great quote on a friend's Facebook page recently that shared that sentiment:

"When people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anybody who leaves you, and it doesn't mean that they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over."

  I believe that quote applies to anything in life, really, not just people. Places we love, experiences we never want to end. Hell, there was once a chocolate mousse in Paris that I didn't ever want to be done with.
  I don't know what really prompted me to write this entry. Just expounding on the intricacies of life, I suppose. They're pretty amazing when you stop to think about them. Just the sheer fact that you're alive- YOU, right now- is a greater odd than any lottery that can ever be drawn.
Enjoy it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

With the Angels

  I'm glad I got to call you Gramma for a time. Rest, sweet lady.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Raiders of the IMAX

  Last weekend, I got to go to the IMAX in Century City to see my favorite movie of all time, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," on the big screen. I can't emphasize what a thrill that was for me. The last time I saw it on anything but a television, I was seven years old. That was 1981, the year the film was released. Let me put that year into perspective for you with a few historical facts. A lot happened that year:

The average cost of a new home was $78,000.

The average yearly income was $21,050.

Ronald Reagan became president.

The Titanic was discovered.

The space shuttle Columbia had its first flight.

Prince Charles and Princess Di married.

The AIDS virus was identified.

Microsoft released MS-DOS.

3M launched "Post-it" notes.

Frequent Flyer miles were introduced by American Airlines.

The term "Internet" was first mentioned.

The first test-tube baby was born.

MTV launched.

  It was a revolutionary movie, and extremely inspirational to me, leading me to decide that I wanted a career in film. It would take me a few more years to sort out whether I wanted to be an actor, director, or writer, but the seeds were firmly planted. I couldn't get enough Indiana Jones. I begged for every toy, comic book, and poster I could find. Of course, I even had the hat and a whip. Since then, I have seen Raiders countless times, and it has never gotten old. I love every fantasticly elaborate set, every action sequence, and every note of John Williams' brilliant score. To this day, it's the high water mark of cinema for me. Seeing it up there on the big screen really took me back to my childhood, and a time where life was filled with far less stresses and concerns.

  What's also cool is that since this screening did so well for Paramount, other older titles will soon be making their way to the big screen again. I already bought tickets to see E.T. The Extraterrestrial on October 3. I love all this nostalgia! I'll have to break out the Reese's Pieces for that one.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day Seven: Palmdale, CA

  Done, done, and done. After a 2,700 mile drive, I finally arrived at my destination. The trip went like clockwork.
  Those last couple hundred miles sure dragged by, though. The closer I got to being home, the further it seemed. Especially when I was off the interstate and driving on city streets. They just kept going and going.
  I had a friend help me unload the big things I couldn't lift by myself, and then I unloaded the rest yesterday. It was about six hours of work on a 102 degree day. Not pleasant. But I had a most wonderful lunch with a most wonderful girl, so things ended well.
  Today, I feel like I was run over by the very truck I was driving. Muscle aches abound. But I can't tell you how good it is to have all my worldly posessions back after two years, and to have them all in my new apartment. Now, the unpackening begins.

  Here are a few shots I took along the way with my phone (Click to biggify).

Flying out of Burbank

Over the Grand Canyon

The Beast

Loading begins

Two years of storage rental stops

A chronicle of miles

Job mercifully complete

  And now, for a bit of well-earned rest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day Six: Kingman, AZ

  "Day six? What happened to day five?"

  That's supposed to be YOU, constant reader. My answer to your question is: Day five was a day of rest in Albuquerque with no driving. Okay, a little driving. I had a great lunch with my Dad, Stepmom, and Aunt. Mostly the day of rest was spent hanging out at mom's house, relaxing. Believe me, after driving 2,000 miles, it was a welcome rest.
  So now I'm on the last leg of this thing. The drive from Albuquerque to Kingman went by fairly quickly, and I always enjoy the scenery around Flagstaff, when the countryside turns into mountainous pine forest and huge boulders. It's quite beautiful. One valley I passed through was completely carpeted in sunflowers as far as the eye could see. It was like driving into an ocean of bright yellow. I also saw a motorist urinating next to the highway, right out in the open. Always a class act.
  Today's drive will be the final one, and will take me right to my front door in Palmdale!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day Four: Albuquerque, NM

  Having now driven through the absolutely most boring part of the country, I can rest a little easier. I swear to you, that drive from Oklahoma through Texas and through New Mexico is the flattest, brownest, dullest part of the country. It just goes on and on for hours. They need to install some interesting works of art or something along I-40. It's bad when you're wishing for billboards to read.
  But now I'm here in Albuquerque, the home town, and staying with Mom. There was steak, baked potatoes, corn and margaritas last night. What a homecoming! I'm taking an extra day here to rest up before completing the last 800 miles of this journey. Believe me, it's a much needed rest. Plus, where else are you going to wake up to sunrises like the one above?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day Three: Oklahoma City, OK

  Today was a shorter day, but much more interesting! The scenery got a lot duller, but I saw three separate fires! Now, let me preface this by saying I have probably counted at least fifteen car-fire spots on the road since I left DC. So, when I came over a hill midway through the day and saw this-

  I thought I would be seeing a car fire in action. I was wrong. Instead, I saw this-

  A massive grass fire! It was so hot, I could feel it inside the cab of the truck. About thirty minutes later, I saw another fire off in the distance, billowing black smoke. About twenty minutes after that, another grass fire in the median of the highway. No wonder there were so many "Burn Ban" signs.
  After I checked into my hotel, I was able to meet up with my old friend Heath, and we went out to dinner and caught up on the last 11 years of our lives. It had been far too long, and we had a lot of laughs.
  Now, I'm off to Albuquerque! It'll be the longest of the drives I have to do, so I'm not really looking forward to it, but it will be nice to see the folks!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day Two: Little Rock, AR

  Today, even though it was the same length drive as yesterday, seemed to go by faster. I spent the first half of the day driving through heavy rain, thick fog, and wind, but not so severe as the day before. The countryside, though, was gorgeous. There were lazy rivers winding through canyons, steaming in the morning air. There were lush, tree covered mountains poking out of the fog, earning their "smokey mountain" moniker.
  The last time I was in any part of Tennessee was 1994, so it was cool to drive through Nashville and Memphis. I waved to Elvis. Tonght I am in Arkansas, which I haven't visited since 1995. Unbelievable. Also unbelievable is this rotten hotel that I'm staying in. First bad one I've picked so far. They allow pets here, so I've had to listen to howling and barking from dogs left alone in rooms. I've heard screaming babies, and the people upstairs doing God-knows-what as I wonder if the ceiling might actually come down from the pounding. There was a sign that said "game room" as I walked in, so I peeked my head in. There was one old, faded arcade machine- "Mortal Kombat II" and one of those claw grabber machines with literally two stuffed animals inside. Wow. Let's all put our fun-hats on and go to the game room.
  So, I'm out of this dump and headed tomorrow to Oklahoma City. It's sad that the beautiful scenery will now be replaced with a flat, brown, cow-shit smelling landscape. Slightly shorter drive, though. Hooray!

Day One: Knoxville, TN

  So as part of my coast to coast drive (see previous post) I was going to video blog each day. I had put together this nice little animated intro, and I was going to sit down at the end of the day and recap what happened with pictures and video- you know, chronicle the journey. Well, after driving the first eight hours yesterday (Springfield, VA to Knoxville, TN, I decided it probably wasn't going to be as interesting as I thought. So, instead of video and pictures, I'll just write a few words.
  There wasn't a whole lot to see. Luckily, this part of the drive is at least somewhat scenic. There are trees, mountains, greenery. There are rustic barns and old tin roof buildings that look like they're pre-Civil War. I saw a gun shop next to the interstate, painted in the colors of the flag. It had a huge sign on the side that said "Jesus is Lord." Not too sure what Jesus has to do with guns. I also saw a beat up old pickup with a Confederate flag on the back. In the middle of the flag were the words "Git 'er Done." I don't think it could have been more stereotypically redneck.
  The most exciting part of the day was when I encountered a very strong storm. The rain was coming down so hard I could barely see the road. When the wind whipped up, it nearly blew me and my huge flat-sided truck right into the ditch. It was kinda exciting for a little while. Ultimately, no harm, no foul.
  So, that's it. Today, I'm on my way to Little Rock, AR.

  On the road again...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Coast to Coast

  Today, I start a 2,700 mile drive across the US. "Why, for God's sake?" you might ask. Well, I'm finally able to move all my worldly posessions from here in Springfield, VA to my new place in California. I've rented a Big-Ass Truck© and packed it full. Now, it's road, road, road. I have a plan to make a little video at the end of each day, sort of video-blogging as I go. We'll see if I'm coherent enough to manage that.

  And with that, I'm out the door!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beach Shoot

  Meant to get these shots up earlier, but things have been very busy! They're from a lifestyle photoshoot in Santa Monica by sharpshooter Judy Wang. Good times!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bullshit Revisionism

  Yep, I'm on my high horse again, with a simple message:


  Why so angry? Why so sweary? Because I just learned (a little late, mind you) that one of my most treasured childhood books has been creatively neutered by its publisher.
  The book in question is Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark." This was a fantastic book of truly horrifying tales that hit shelves back in 1981. I remember discovering it on the shelves of my elementary school library and going crazy over it. The stories were gruesome, yes, but even more so the illustrations by Stephen Gammell. Their sinewy, drippy, stringy inks are something I can still vividly picture. Gammell absolutely mastered the feel of this book, and made it something that, to quote the folks at, made kids "learn that books can make you shit your pants."
  Well, the publishers, to celebrate the book's 30th anniversary last year (told ya I'm late to this) released all three volumes of Scary Stories in one big book. Awesome, but they also removed Gammell's masterwork and replaced it with crappy, cartoony illustrations from Brett Helquist. Helquist, who did the illustrations for "A Series of Unfortunate Events," completely misses the mark here and effectively ruins what was a fantastic trip into the macabre. Yes, Helquist is a fine artist, but not for this particular volume. Here are just a couple of examples (click to enlarge):

  You can clearly see why that face would launch a thousand nightmares. I remember turning to that particular page over and over and being amazed at how blood-freezing it was.
   Why the publishers did this switcheroo probably has to do with pressure from whiney parent groups. They've been trying to get this book banned from libraries for years due to its absolutely violent and frightening nature. Duh, parents. It's called SCARY Stories. It's a horror book. You won't find any unicorns in it, or talking chipmunks, or Disney princesses. You will find murder, talking rotten corpses, cannibalism, and a scarecrow that skins somebody alive (Harold, above). I agree, the material is a little heavy for the age range, but guess what? The world is full of scary things. Being frightened and dealing with it is a part of life, and it's a part of growing up. I could write a whole other blog about the wimpification (to put it nicely) of our society, but this is about revisionism of creative works.
  I've been very upset for the last few years at this trend of revisionism. George Lucas is, of course, the biggest offender, if you look at what he's done to Star Wars. Endless, ridiculous tinkering has also ruined what used to be a decent set of films. I used to love a quote from Lucas, which went something like: "An artist never completes anything. He only abandons it." Well, changing and rechanging your work is not abandoning, and it wrecks the experience for the rest of us. Spielberg was also infamously guilty of this with his re-work of E.T. a few years back, but has since realized the error of his ways and claims he will never again alter one of his films. E.T. will now be released in its original cut on Blu-Ray this year. Good on you, Steve. Maybe now you can undo the CGI you added to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  Bottom line, people, it's art. It should stand for what it was at the time. You will never please everybody with something you create. If you're unhappy with it, make something new. But for the love of all things holy, leave the old works alone.
  Oh, and parent groups- SHUT. UP. Nobody is forcing your child to read this book. If you don't want them to read it, don't let them check it out of the library. Leave the freedom of choice alone for the rest of us who arent frightened by a drawing on a page.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm Back

  I'm finally out of jail and free to blog again!

  That would be a much better excuse than the fact that I just haven't felt like blogging for the last couple of months. Some melancholy, some outright deep depression, and a lack of anything interesting to talk about have kept me quiet. Rather than come on here and piss and moan about what's been bothering me (which, let's face it, nobody likes to read) I decided to just keep to myself. Most of that is over with now, so I felt like writing again.
  The problem is, I still don't have much to talk about. I appeared in a horror project this week, where my character had his head cut off with garden shears and thrown into a drying machine. I suppose that's interesting. I have a meeting next week with a talent agency, and that's also kinda great.
  You might have noticed that brand-spanking new link in the right hand column called "Brian Lambert Digital Images." That's a website I've put up that offers graphic design services to actors. I hadn't done any website design work in a while, so that was a fun adventure.
  That's pretty much the long and short of it. Life goes on, day by day. The life of an actor in LA. Search, search, search, work. Search, search, search. I've been in a very nostalgic mood for the last month or so, for reasons I won't go into here. It's made me think, among other things, about maybe reviewing some classic 80's movies on here. Stuff I grew up on. I'd just like to discuss why some of my favorite films are my favorite films. I dunno. If I got some discussion going, it could be fun. Maybe I'll do it soon. Keep an eye out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New! (sort of)

  I'm at it again with another new blog. Since my recent photoblog went belly up, I decided to start a new one. This one is not a photo-a-day for a year blog. It has no time limit. It will not be made up of photos I have shot the day of, or the day before. It will be a picture a day, randomly selected from any photo I've ever taken anywhere. That should keep it going for quite a while, and keep things interesting. Whenever I happen to take some new photos, those could show up in there too. Hopefully this one will be a little more engaging for viewers. Please check it out by clicking the link in the right hand column!

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's up

  No, it's not a question- I'm going to tell you what's up.

  A lot! Been keeping very busy between auditioning, graphic design work, web design work, church, and the daily business of being an actor. Translated, "daily business" means "looking for work." It's amazing how much time that eats up. There are never enough hours in the day to get things done. Finally, after umpteen days, I took a full day off on Sunday, and it felt great.
  In good news, I did get cast again, this time in an as-yet-untitled grindhouse horror project. I'm the guy who gets stabbed to death with a pair of garden shears. My audition consisted of me saying "Nooo! NOOOO! OH GOD NOOOOO!!!" and then screaming myself raw. Proudly, I was able to really rattle the room. My throat was tired and sore afterward, but I drank some tea and gave it a rest. We shoot this coming week.
  That's all the news that's fit to print for now. Oh, and if you're looking for my writing blog (unlikely), I have taken it down due to lack of readership. Apparently, nobody was interested. No hard feelings.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Do you read me?

  Are you reading my Story in a Year blog? Well, you should be. You can find it by clicking on that lovely logo in the right hand column that says "A Story in a Year." Clever title, right? That's why I write. I come up with gems like that, and I pat myself on the back for my ingenuity. Seriously, though, go read it. I'm writing a story over the course of a full year, one post at a time, every day. There is no plan, no editing. You will see it unfold at the same time I do. I tell you, it's fun every morning to sit down and start writing and see where the story leads. Join me, won't you?

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Civil Wars

  I may be late to the party in loving this duo, but good God do they sing beautifully. I hadn't heard of them until their recent appearance on the Grammys and I fell in love with them immediately. Now I can't stop rolling through their catalog. This may be my favorite tune of theirs, but "Barton Hollow" and "Falling" and "Poison and Wine" are also amazing. I don't even know how to quite categorize them. They're a bit Country, a bit Folk, a bit Pop. I don't care, I love their sound. If you're already a fan, good on you. If not, give them a listen and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Story in a Year

  Lofty goal? To be sure. Will it work? I dunno. Why are you asking yourself questions and then answering them? Because I am insane. Only an insane person would try this:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fun with flowcharts

Designed for the heck of it. Click to view full size.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Day of Many Pies

  As anybody who knows me is aware, I LOVE to cook. On my recent birthday, I was given a mini pie maker, and today was the first chance I had to use it. Let me tell you, the results were pretty spectacular!
  Facing many choices, I decided to make three different kinds of pie. Chicken Pot Pie, Apple Pie, and Cherry Pie. I didn't have any particular recipe for the chix pies, so I just made it up:

  I started with some regular chicken breasts...

  Cooked 'em up in a skillet with some spices...

  Chopped up and cooked some carrots, onion, and potatoes...

  Mixed in some condensed Cream of Chicken soup and a little milk...

  Added some peas...

  Mixed up some dough and cut out my crusts...

  Put my crusts in the piemaker and filled 'em...

  Slapped the top crusts on 'em and cooked 'em.

  The result! They came out perfectly and tasted amazing. Turns out I didn't really need a recipe after all. The crusts cooked a golden brown and were light and flakey. You would swear they were from a restaurant. So, then I moved on to the dessert pies...

  The cherry filling was straight out of a can (cheater!) so it didn't require prep, but the apple filling I made from my apple pie recipe. Usually, it just goes into the pie raw, of course, so I had to assemble the ingredients and then reduce them in a saucepan. Easy breezy.

  The apple pies came out beautifully, but as you can see, the cherries didn't fare so well. I made lattice tops for them, but I overfilled them, so the filling burbled up and singed. They were ugly, but they were delicious. For the first time in my life, I was able to say that I ate four pies for dinner.

  Can't wait for more culinary adventures with this new kitchen gadget!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting older ain't no drag

  As is usually the case around birthdays, people tend to ruminate about their advancing years. Unless, of course, you're ten and every year takes an eternity to go by. No, I'm talking about us folks that are in the "Good Lord, it's already 2012? What happened to 2011?" bracket.
  That wonderful image above is from a movie I did in 1996. What made me think of it was a trip to the local multiplex to see "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." (By the way, if you haven't seen it, go see it. It's the most entertaining action movie I've seen in ages. Even if you don't care for Tom Cruise and his insanity, do yourself a favor and go see it. But, I digress.)
  Seeing the film made me think about seeing the first Mission: Impossible movie way back in- you guessed it- 1996. It was an amazing summer; one of my favorites in fact. My friends and I were busy all summer filming "The Price of Truth VI: Final Mission," but we squeezed in a lot of movie viewings when we could. Mission: Impossible was one of them. It was a great time, and helped to keep us all in the action-movie mindset during filming. It made us push our action sequences further, including the above, which culminated with me being dragged down a gravel road for several weeks to get all the shots we needed. We had quite a variety of injuries on that film, but the result went on to become one of our favorite projects ever.
  So, thinking about that on my way to see this new movie, I realized it had been sixteen years. SIXTEEN YEARS, in case you didn't hear me in the back. That's insane! Quite a lot has happened in those sixteen years. Quite a lot.
  Then there was my birthday on the fourteenth of this month. The age/time thought train continued to steam ahead in my mind. I was gifted a fantastic new watch this year, and retired my old watch to the sock drawer. That watch itself had been a birthday gift exactly five years prior. Had it really been five years? I thought about all that had happened in THOSE years, and everywhere I had been with that watch strapped around my wrist.

  Time really does fly.

  But you know, it's nothing to be down about. It's an exciting time. Goals I have worked for all my life are within my grasp now. It's been a struggle out here so far, I can't lie- but things are constantly improving. New opportunities, networking, new projects. It's what's AHEAD that's exciting; not what's dragging along behind you like some battered action hero clinging to the bumper of a Chevy Suburban.
  Time to make some new memories.