Love: Favors for a Friend

Ok. Here’s the skinny. I’m writing a screenplay, which I hope to sell or make into a film myself, and as part of my writing exercise I’ll be doing a bit of research. As part of that research, I’ll be giving friendly favors (No I’m not starting an escort service) and asking for favors. It will be similar to the Time Bank. Ever heard of that? (From wikipedia- ‘Essentially, the “time” one spends providing these types of community services earns “time” that one can spend to receive services.’). This isn’t completely altruistic of me, I mean after all I am writing a script and trying to make it into a movie….that’s kind of a selfish pursuit in and of itself. But regardless of what may or may not happen with this screenplay, I still plan on continuing these ‘Favors’.

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So, what am I actually proposing to you? Well, first of all I’m not sure if the people reading my blog will even be interested in this at all and/or getting advice from me…but who knows, I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s how it will play out. 1) My friendly favor to you is advice. That’s it. Advice. Why? Well, over the years I’ve developed into a pretty mild-mannered, centered and grounded person who is not prone to rash decision making….also as far back as I can remember….I’ve always given advice. I’ve always been a calm person and people would frequently come to me for help, advice or companionship. Friends. Strangers. Colleagues. Whoever. It was like an innate ability that I’d attract people who needed assistance. Maybe I’d make a great therapist or minister…..but I’m neither of those things at the present time…I’m a filmmaker. That being said….advice is what I will give. Plain old impartial advice right from my perspective. Maybe you have no one else to turn to. Maybe you just want an opinion from a ‘regular guy’ that you respect who is not a doctor or someone close to your situation. Maybe you just want another point of view on your issue, problem, life concern or whatever. Hell, maybe you just want some movie recommendations. I promise it won’t be like the Argument Clinic (but that’d be kind of fun).

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2) What do I ask for in return? Well for one: just the process of providing a type of voluntary community service is in line with what I’m writing about, so I’m getting exercise.. and two: I would likewise ask for a favor in return. Nothing grandiose…it could be something as simple as a bottle of water or a beer if I happen to be in your locale for a film festival/business etc., or giving 5 bucks to my favorite charity etc. Or you could even just Pay It Forward (taking a homeless guy out for lunch etc.), but if you do that…don’t half-ass it please.

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3) I’m not a doctor, nor a psychiatrist….or priest, nor anyone who is an accredited professional that claims to be an ‘expert’ when it comes to your health, whether it be mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual. What I am is someone who’s educated (and continues to educate himself), has provided care-giving services to several relatives and has gone to the school of hard knocks. The advice I’d give to you is advice that a mentor would give to a protege. It’s just ‘friendly advice’ that you can use as you will. You can listen to it or not. That’s your choice. Ultimately you are responsible for your life and your decisions….but ya know….it’s really helpful to get council sometimes….and I’d be happy to do that for you.

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It’s easy. All you have to do is e-mail me at (mcconnellfavors@gmail.com) and follow the instructions sent on my automatic reply. After that, give me some time to properly read through your e-mail (I don’t want to half-ass it) and then I’ll dispense my advice to you. If you’d like you can keep yourself anonymous and use a pseudonym. Also, I am reasonable but please know that certain things are morally absolute for me….so if you’re a pedophile….I really don’t know what advice I could give to you other than to seek professional help and STOP HUMPING CHILDREN!! Now that that’s out of the way….I look forward to hearing from you.

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As always. Do your best. Be good to yourself. Be good to others, unless they’re such a jerk that you can’t take it anymore. And be good to children, animals, plants and those less fortunate than you. Have an awesome day!

Outrageousness: Fat People in America

Fat people……it’s a subject I’d been avoiding to put on my blog but I can no longer resist. Why can I not resist? Because people don’t seem to be getting the point. We don’t just have fat people in America. We don’t just have obese people. WE HAVE MONSTERS!!!! Michelle Obama talks about it….so that’s my go ahead, though I’ll probably be a bit harsher than the First Lady.

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All prejudice aside for a moment, yes there are some people who have glandular problems and it’s a little more difficult for them to lose weight. Those people have actual health issues and need an even stricter lifestyle regiment and medication in order to achieve the goal of reducing their size. Years ago, while making fun of fat people, I was rightfully put in my place by a friend who stood up on behalf of a relative who had serious weight & health issues through no fault of their own. I’m sorry for that. I did my research…..I get it now. Not all people are fully in control of how much weight they gain.

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That being said, there are a lot more FAT PEOPLE who are in COMPLETE CONTROL of themselves than those who cannot help being big. These are the types of people who weigh 1,000 lbs. 1,000 pounds!!! At a certain point they lose the ability to walk or even stand up…..so WHO KEEPS BRINGING THEM FOOD!?! Some people actually have the goal of weighing 1,000 pounds. WHAT!?! This world is weird and corrupt and depressing at times….but WHAT!?! That means they knowingly continue eating, because they’re idiots or they think they’re depressed, and they have an enabler that buys them foods and wipes their butts…..because HOW CAN YOU WIPE YOUR ASS WHEN YOU’RE THAT FAT!!!??!!!

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These are the types of plop-bags that I can’t feel empathy for. So, for very large people who want to prevent being said plop-bags… Here’s some advice from a friend of mine. ‘You want to lose weight? EXERCISE!!! AND STOP EATING!!!’. Simple enough, yes? Even for above average people, it’s really not that difficult and you do not need all these silly ‘flavor of the month’ dieting fads. Just exercise more and don’t eat as much and at the same time, eat healthier foods. THAT’S IT!!! At one time in my life I was a little overweight. I had poor eating & exercise habits. In the first week on my new diet I lost 10 lbs and that was without exercise. Do you know what I did? I stopped eating bread, cheese and processed foods and overall… I ate less. In the following weeks I changed my diet even more and began exercising. I then reached my goal of losing 25 lbs. It’s the same if you’re 300 lbs overweight. Eat less. Eat healthier. And exercise. Or else you will look like THIS BLOB.

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Did you know that more than 1/3rd of adults in America are obese? That’s a lot. Why are we so fat? Lots of reasons! Here’s a list of my thoughts on why we’re fat. 1) We eat too much 2) We’re cowards who have such low self-esteem that ANYTHING will set us off and make us go on eating binges. 3) Even if we don’t gorge ourselves, we eat really unhealthy foods (including a lot of fast food). 4) No one walks anywhere. We just drive, drive, drive, which makes us lazy 5) We drink too much SODA!! & eat too many sugared things.

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It’s your choice. If you’re an American you have certain freedoms and you can do what you want. I don’t 100% agree with proposed programs such as former Mayor Bloomberg’s which would limit the size of drinks or foods you’d be allowed to purchase….but I do agree that there are TOO MANY IDIOTS in this country. If collectively, we had more common sense, we’d never put such disgusting things and such copious amounts of disgusting things into our bodies… so making a law about it wouldn’t even be an issue. But it is an issue……because we LOVE BEING FAT IDIOTS.

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Oh the humanity you may say. What would America be without peopleofwalmart.com and big, gross morons to make fun of? I tell you’d what we’d be….WE’D BE AWESOME!!! We’d be a huge country of healthy, amazing and intelligent people that walked everywhere, did GLORIOUS things and left a small footprint for the future generations. You know how many fat people I see when I travel outside of this country? Maybe 1 out of 200. And that ‘fat’ person would fall under our American term of ‘chubby’. You know how many obese people I see when I travel outside of this country? Maybe 1 in 500. Likewise, that obese term is reduced to ‘fat’ in America. I actually didn’t see ONE fat or obese person when I last traveled to Europe. Why are they so skinny? Is it because they’re poor or they don’t have FREEDOM? NO!!! It’s because they’re not halfwits!!! They live close to their job, hence they walk or ride a bike to work instead of driving, they buy healthy & nutritious foods at the store, they eat in small quantities, they socialize more and view meals as a time to enjoy other peoples company rather than a time to EAT EVERYTHING and inhale filthy foods like a vacuum cleaner. Sure they’ve got their fair share of dummies and inept doofus’s too but on the whole it’s a healthier culture….LIKE OURS SHOULD BE.

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To be fair, yes, there are lots of smart, sexy, attractive people in this country that have fantastic eating habits, amazing exercise routines and enjoy life TO THE MAX. I’m not saying that America is devoid of AMAZING PEOPLE. There are just a lot of FAT IDIOTS TOO!! Why am I not afraid of offending people? Because sometimes you just have to PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE in order to get them to change. It’s like when I had a fight with a good friend in the past, she had to get in my face, yell at me and tell me I was a moron because you NEVER TELL A GIRL SHE DOESN’T LOOK GOOD WHEN SHE ASKS YOU, ‘Do I look good in these jeans?’. I learned my lesson. Ladies…you look great in everything you wear.

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Therapists please, stop coddling fat people when they come to your office pretending that they’re depressed. Just tell them that they’d stop being depressed if they STOPPED EATING SO MUCH. There are multitudes of ‘big boned’ people who have a larger body type, who eat healthy and who are totally cool and happy with themselves. Great!! Join me! Join us! Let’s save America from all the gigantic, monster-sized fat people!!

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Like I said earlier, if you can’t do anything about your situation, you just gotta roll with it. I have big feet. I can’t make my feet smaller so I can fit into a size 10 shoe. It is what it is. Some people are big. They’ll always have a big body and be somewhat chubby. Ok. You just gotta be happy with who you are. But it’s a pretty simple concept for those blubbery, monster people out there to grasp. Be healthy. Eat less. Walk more. Exercise more. Drink more water. The world had it’s fun and we don’t want to make fun of you anymore. We want you to be healthy. Look down below and you’ll never overeat again.

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If you’re really, really, really, really fat and you read this…hey the truth hurts. You can change for the better. You’ll be healthier. You’ll have a normal range of motion. You’ll live longer. AND YOU’LL FEEL BETTER. Look….even Jonah Hill got skinnier…..kind of. If you have a fat friend, don’t show them this blog because they’ll get mad at you. Also don’t hang out with them when they invite you out to a fast food death trap such as Taco Bell, Burger King or McDonald’s etc. etc. Maybe you can BUY THEM A SALAD!!!! instead (sorry that was rude). But you’re their friend…you can help them in some way.

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There will always be different shapes of people in this world. And I pray that we can purge America of the army of obese monsters one day. I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. and that it entertained or educated you in some way. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Be good to animals. Have a great day!

Movies: Joe McConnell’s Film School 101

One of my goals as a filmmaker is to eventually teach and pass on my knowledge; through my films, future classroom instruction & lectures etc. That being said, I’ve decided to make a fun little ‘Film School’ section on my blog. Film school is really expensive. Sometimes it is WELL WORTH the investment but other times students end up getting stuck in a crappy film school paying off enormous loans for the rest of their lives. So, if you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for school and would like to gain knowledge through other means like Will Hunting did…I say GOOD FOR YOU!!!

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I’m not saying I’m the most experienced and cultured filmmaker in the world….far from it. I’m no J.J Abrams, but I do have information to offer…..and it’s FREE!! Whether you’re a beginner looking to get into the world of film, an intermediate looking to change departments and learn some new stuff or a master who’s just looking to identify with another filmmaker OR maybe you’re looking for some Schadenfreude…..either way, enjoy.

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So you want to get into Film & Television? Great!! Now take a deep breath and be realistic. You’re not going to step out of the gate and become Steven Spielberg right away unless Steven Spielberg is your dad…. OR if you have a leg up on the competition due to some serious nepotism. Even if you DO have great connections that can give you a high position right away, you’ll eventually flounder that opportunity and just be seen as a rich trust fund kid unless you’re dedicated, hardworking and talented. Note how I put those in order. DEDICATED, HARDWORKING and TALENTED. Lots of people in the industry might not have talent right away, whether they are a PA, Actor, UPM etc. but man are they dedicated and hardworking (easy to work with is encompassed in those two definitions and you’ll eventually understand why if you work on enough films). It’s much easier to re-hire someone when you know they’ll show up on time. Sure, maybe they’ll make a mistake or two….but mistakes in the film industry are very common. It’s better to have someone who LOVES to go to work rather than someone who is super talented but a pain in the ass.

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Next…… it’s all about networking so that means you will need to become sociable. Maybe you’re an asshole. Maybe you’re shy. Maybe you have a horrible stutter when you speak. But now that you’re in film you’ll need to work on your personality, you’ll need to be friendly, you’ll need to get peoples contact information and you’ll need to keep in touch with people. It’s not hard. Social media is very helpful. Just send a Christmas E-card letting your friends and colleagues know, ‘Hey! I’m alive’. Maybe you don’t even need a job….but it’s good to keep in touch because as many people as there are in the industry……it’s a very small business. I guarantee you’ll run into colleagues on film sets across the country and possibly the globe. One of your contacts may eventually recommend you for something or get you a job. You never know. And if you do know that a ‘certain someone’ is a complete fool and bad connection to have….well then….you’ll know what to do.

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See that last picture? No he’s not just the salad dressing guy!!! That’s Paul Newman. PAUL MOTHER F***IN’ NEWMAN. He was an amazing actor/director who was nominated for several academy awards, won one, and starred in films such as Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973) and my personal favorite Nobody’s Fool (1994). Have I seen all of his films? No. But I’ve seen a lot of them…..several times over. Why? Because I love film….no, I LOOOOOVEEE FILM. And if you’re going to successfully become a student and/or work in the business it would help if you educated yourself. Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, Buster Keaton, James Cagney, Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Attenborough, Sergio Leone, Tom Cruise, Steve McQueen, the black AND the white one,…..the list goes on and on. WHY AM I USING CAPS, CURSING AND USING EXCLAMATIONS!!!??!!!………….I’ll tell you why….

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….it’s because you need to prepare to get YELLED AT. There are assholes in the film/tv industry. In the real world we call them Sociopaths, formerly known as Psychopaths. Yes, they’re in the film industry too. Most of them in the world are because it’s very easy to use and abuse people in this business. Sure, there are some really cool people….but you’re bound to run into some flaming douches. Let them yell. Take it in stride. Don’t get pissy. Let it go and do your job. It’s just like if your girlfriend is venting to you after a long day of work…..it’ll eventually end and she’ll go back to normal. If the person doing the yelling is in the wrong, eventually others will see it and slowly but surely said ‘nutcase’ will stop working in the industry OR you’ll get other jobs and stop working around them. Sometimes good people get shit-canned and bullied in the wonderful world of tv/film by these Sociopaths so watch your back. Keep records. Use your head just as you would in your normal life. Sounds fun right???

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I’ll stop the first lesson here….and I’m not going to make a numbered list reexamining what we’ve just learned. The info is there…use it as you will. We’ve got A LOT!!!!! more ground to cover in the future so start studying. I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. has helped in your pursuit of and/or knowledge of the film business. As always. Have a great day! Be good to yourself and be good to others….especially animals.

Movies: The Tailors Apprentice

On Saturday Oct. 5th I was lucky enough to attend the cast/crew screening for the new independent film ‘The Tailors Apprentice’ (2013). Rowan Bousaid, a friend & colleague, had invited me to the screening and I attended in support of his acting efforts in the film. I went in blind because I knew nothing of the films story, plot, other actors, where it was made etc. etc……zilch, nada. And I will say that I was thoroughly impressed.

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Without giving away spoilers, there are a few elements in the film that really stand out as being exceptional. First I’d have to say is the original score, created by Matt Bukaty. For a majority of the film you don’t even notice it because when music is THAT good it just draws you into the story. When you do take a breather and notice the music you say to yourself, ‘damn this soundtrack is good’. Major kudos on the soundtrack. Second is the films directing, which isn’t always obvious to the audience unless it’s really bad…..or really good. The director Jeff Lehmen did an amazing job and I’m not saying that for any other reason than…….he’s a talented dude and I hope he gets the opportunity to keep making films. His direction stood out to me so much because of the pacing, the freedom that the actors seemed to have to develop their characters and more importantly……a religiously oriented film with a small cast isn’t always my kind of movie, but there was a depth and meaning throughout this film that captured my attention and pulled me in to the story.

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Lastly, the cinematography was very good. I also want to write about how good the acting was (which it was) but that wouldn’t be entirely fair because I’m friends with one of the main actors…so you’ll have to judge that yourself when you see the film. There were some flaws in the film (as I relayed to the creators on their FB page after the viewing) but really….what movie doesn’t have flaws? The most important thing is that those flaws are easily overlooked because the story is so engrossing that you don’t mind the minor imperfections.

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After the screening the cast/crew answered some questions about the film and the audience got to hear thoughts from the main actor Stefan Laurantz. It really enriched my experience to hear how devoted and dedicated the actors and director were to not only making this film, but making the best film they could possibly create. I got a clear sense of the heartfelt camaraderie between the films team, which as a fellow filmmaker is refreshing to see. Of course my main man Rowan Bousaid might’ve had a few too many drinks before his speech…..but there’s nothin’ wrong with that.

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As it was a graduate thesis project for UCF, the filmmakers are raising additional post-production funds through social networking. I highly recommend taking a look at the trailer, seeing the film when it’s available and even contributing to the films cause if you’ve got some cash to spare. And to be honest (sometimes I’m way too honest for my own good)…I wouldn’t be interested in seeing the film after viewing the trailer. But….you HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM. The trailer doesn’t do it justice….I don’t think any short preview can. You just gotta see it. If you liked ‘The Way’ (2010) or ‘The Razors Edge’ (1984) you’re almost guaranteed to like this movie. You never know what you’re getting into with an independent film…..and this is one I think you’ll enjoy.

Be sure to check out The Tailors Apprentice on facebook or on the official website for the film. As always….be good to yourself, be good to those that you encounter and be good to animals…even if they’re annoying little dogs who poop and pee on your carpet.

 

Outrageousness: Asheville is not Shangri-la

Have you heard the stories about Asheville, North Carolina? That it’s heaven on earth. That it’s the greatest city in America. That it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. Is that what you’ve heard? Well……it’s what I was told for years. Every person I talked to would rave about Asheville. Friends, colleagues, random acquaintances, people in health food stores, people in bars etc. etc.. It was as if this was the best kept secret in the world. And the question was….when will you go to Asheville?

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After years of hearing these amazing reviews……I decided that it was time to go. A friend and I had the opportunity…..so we went. We were SOOOOO EXCITED!!! All the stories. Great bars. Great people. Great air. Great scenery. Farm houses in the middle of the city with chickens running around. People growing their own vegetables. A super sustainable city of the future. So on we went. We parked the car and started walking.

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We saw the city hall, a fountain, some churches, some side streets with shops. Ok. Cool. We didn’t find the magic everyone was talking about…..but ok. So we decided to grab a couple of beers at a bar downtown. There we sat….trying to get our bearings and figure out if we were missing anything. After being accosted by about a half dozen homeless people pan handling for money, we began talking to a local at the bar. He said to us, ‘You’re pretty much doing the best thing in Asheville. Sit around, drink….and look at cars drive by’. Interesting……THAT’S THE BEST THING TO DO IN ASHEVILLE!!!!???!!!! Wow. The people telling me about this place must have been drinking some good kool-aid if that is true.

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This local went on to tell us that it’s legal to walk around topless in Asheville. So…ladies can walk around with their boobs hanging out. COOL. But he then said that it’s not that cool…..because old fat homeless women are usually the only ones taking advantage of this law. Eeesh. Nothing against old fat homeless women….but I understand how that could be unappealing.

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Alright….so we picked up and walked around some more. We had some food. Then wandered over to the River Arts District. Everyone said it was amazing so we had to go. Naturally, we were curious. Maybe this is where the magic of Asheville was. And again…..no magic. It was a tiny group of buildings with a few sculptures lying around.

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There was a little brewery/bar in back that was decent…..if you like drinking beer in a dirt yard while looking at train tracks. Having grown up in the hick-town of Washingtonville, New York…..naturally I thought that it was pretty cool….because that’s what I did when I was a teenager. And then we saw a pitiful, saggy, tattooed drunken woman who was babysitting an infant…. AN INFANT….at this bar. When asked the baby’s name she replied, ‘Oh man….I don’t know’. Either she was too drunk to remember, she legitimately didn’t know….or she kidnapped the child. WTF!!!

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A couple more hours of walking. A few more bars. Some side streets that looked like downtown Newark, New Jersey….and then I was officially jaded (not that I wasn’t jaded before….I was still looking for the MAGIC OF ASHEVILLE). So here’s the deal (for people who believe the stories). Asheville is no where special. It’s just a place on a map. The parks are small….and dirty. The shops are ok…not too different from any funky little hippie town shops. The bars are decent…some are cool. It’s not especially cheap. The drink of choice is PBR and the style of choice is HIPSTER. There are no jobs to be had unless you work in a hospital (from what I gathered talking to locals). There is an over-saturation of bums who pan handle by day and go live in the mountains at night (I was accosted more than a normal day in New York City). The cops hassle people too much (according to locals). There are a bunch of empty lots with graffiti. There are some mountains nearby to hike on….but they’re really not that impressive. And that’s that. Did you know that gay whales take it in the ass?

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Later, after my dream-like vision was shattered, I realized that Asheville is pretty cool….IN CONTEXT. It’s a progressive city….FOR NORTH CAROLINA. It’s not Shangri-la. Not even close. If I went there with the mindset of, ‘hey I’m going somewhere new’…it would have been a much more enjoyable time than with the mindset of, ‘this is going to be heaven on earth’. I plan on visiting again and giving Asheville another chance. After all…..who doesn’t enjoy empty lots that say UP DA PUNX!?!

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To me….Asheville seemed like the perfect place for people to go if they were on the verge of being homeless. It’s where you go to live when you’ve given up all hope and just want to give it one last shot. Will visiting again with a new mindset change that opinion? I sure hope so. And I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings Asheville….but you’re really not heaven on earth. Either that…..or I’m missing something and didn’t find the MAGIIIIIICCCCC OF ASSSHHHEEVVIIILLLLLEEEE. It was a weekday when I visited and I really do need to see it on a weekend. But as the seasoned local told me…..the best thing to do in Asheville is sit around, drink and watch cars pass by.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. and as always, be good to yourself, be good to others that you encounter & be respectful.

Video Games: Beyond-Two Souls

Today I’m going to do a quick review of the new video game Beyond: Two Souls. Why quick? Because the game is way too frustrating to do a lengthy review. It’s got a great story, impressive graphics & great acting by the main characters but the con’s far outweigh the pro’s. The game goes in a linear path with virtually no freedom, the controls are atrocious and very frustrating at times (it’s basically like playing a long tutorial. They tell you what button to push and at what times), it’s near impossible to figure out and get a handle on the camera movement & the disjointed style works in movies but not so much with this game.

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When I say frustrating, it’s the kind of frustrating where you’re really into the plot line and the story, you’re really into the characters…..but the gameplay is so damn stupid that it makes you want to give up on the whole experience. I can kind of see what the designers were going for…something like the old game Dragon’s Lair, in terms of gameplay, but it just doesn’t work. Kudos though to Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe who turn in great performances. I’d also love to see the director David Cage make a movie instead of another video game.

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Not that there aren’t great moments in the game, there are. I loved the story. When you’re at the sweet 16 party and you get asked to dance…..and kiss a boy for the first time. You feel it…..however queer that is for guys playing the game. Also, the giving birth part is completely outlandish but perfect in the storyline & character development. Ellen page is so good and you get drawn in to her character as you see her grow from a little girl into a woman. And it really sucks…..because she’s in horrible circumstances her whole life.

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M.A.V.B.L.O.G. SCORE- 3 out of 10. Frustrating controls, frustrating camera movement and a boring freedom less linear game path make this game unplayable. It would have made a great stand alone movie, which at times you wish was the case. I loved the actors, the writing, the story, the dialogue options and the visuals but as I said before the con’s far outweigh the pro’s. Is it worth a purchase? NOOOOOOOOO!!! Is it worth a play though? yeah maybe…..if you have nothing better to do. I paid 2 bucks at Redbox for it, which I’m ok with….although, I’d recommend reading the story and watching the cut scenes on youtube instead.

Here are a couple of other blog posts about the game if you’d like to do some more research.

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I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. assisted in some way. As always…have a great day. Take good care of yourself……and treat others with respect. Even animals.

Video Games: The Mass Effect Trilogy

Old news….I know. But there are probably some folks out there that are into video games who haven’t played the Mass Effect series. There are tons of blogs out there about these games which you can see here, here, here, here and here…so I’ll just outline some cool things about the game, give a general overview and explain why I think it’s worth a purchase and play through. After all….it’s only $39.99 now for all three games in the Mass Effect Trilogy. Pretty amazing deal.

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First off, if you don’t like science fiction….don’t play Mass Effect. But if you do like science fiction…..GET IT NOW!! As a gamer, I know very well that a really good video game release is similar to a really good movie release…..few and far between. Each Mass Effect game has its uniqueness to it, which is great. I think they perfected the mechanics in the 3rd game as it had a little bit of both of the good qualities from the first two games. No gamer will ever be entirely pleased unless they themself design their own perfect video game…but these were really, really, really solid. Overall though, it’s an exceptional RPG action game with fantastic artwork, very few glitches and bugs, great writing, an immense amount of options, amazing voice actors and it’s extremely entertaining and immersive. There are so many combinations and variables in this game that you could probably play it 50 times without having the exact same outcomes. It’s fun and well worth the money. Plain and simple.

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Without giving away too much to the newbies to this series, the first game plays more like an RPG with action elements in it. The second game plays a lot like an action game with RPG elements. And the third game….well I felt it combined both pretty well. If you can handle the slight gameplay changes….and you enjoy both the action genre and the RPG genre…you will be satisfied. Also the celebrity cast of voice actors includes people such as Martin Sheen, Carrie-Ann Moss, Lance Henriksen, Keith David, Seth Green, Adam Baldwin and Freddie Prinze Jr.. That just adds to the overall quality and makes you feel like you’re playing a movie….but it’s YOUR MOVIE.

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Now, there were some serious issues and outcry from fans (myself included) over the blatantly flat ending of Mass Effect 3. Wisely though, the game creators took note and updated an extended cut version (which is good) and is available to download into your console for free. It goes without saying that when you invest 120 hours of gameplay into something….you want the outcome to be believable. The original ending was ATROCIOUS….but since recently playing it again…..I noticed that the developers fixed the problem and the ending (whichever you choose based upon the decisions you make throughout the trilogy) is satisfying. (See below for my spoiler/opinion on the ending).

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Are there lots of great games out there? Sure. Are the new console games going to blow away the old PS3 & XBOX games? Probably. But I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t play one of the highest budgeted and lauded games of recent years. The Mass Effect Trilogy is a lot of fun. You can play as a woman or a man. You can play as a bad-ass or a boy scout. You can have relationships with the other characters as a friend or lover. You can escape into an expansive world, which you actually have a hand in creating, and come away feeling like you’ve accomplished something on your terms. Have you ACTUALLY accomplished anything other than wasting your time playing a video game? Maybe…..The writing in these games is so good and the characters are so different that you encounter racism, xenophobia, sexism and a multitude of moral decisions that need to be made. You might actually learn some things and encounter social situations you may never see in your day to day life. You may even improve upon your own personality. People frequently complain that games only promote violence, but one of the overall themes of this game is tolerance and cooperation. It’s just a video game… but Mass Effect is also an exercise in morality. It’s escapist entertainment at its finest which is like crack for video game junkies. But it’s also a very intelligent game with a lot of heart.

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M.A.V.B.L.O.G. SCORE- 10 out of 10. It’s fun. It’s fun. It’s fun. And it leaves you wanting more. Regardless of the minor flaws…..this game is awesome. You create your character from top to bottom and you have some freedom in how you design and play your very own Commander Shepard throughout the series. I highly recommend investing the 100-120 hours it takes to complete the trilogy.

Thanks for reading. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to those you encounter. Even animals.

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My Spoiler Alert: DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED PLEASE!!! GO PLAY THE GAME!

If you’ve played all the games you’ll know what I’m talking about. So for those of you on the fence in choosing an ending…..here ya go. In the first game your mission is to defeat the bad guys (Saren & The Reapers) of which, Saren gets indoctrinated by The Reapers so he is essentially working for them. You win. In the second game your mission is to defeat The Collectors who are working for The Reapers. You win. In the third game the villain, The Illusive Man, becomes indoctrinated by The Reapers and after his death you are given three choices: CONTROL (of which The Illusive Man tried but couldn’t succeed…and btw you die) SYNTHESIS (of which The Catalyst TELLS YOU that it never worked sucessfully in the past……and btw you die) DESTROY (where you’re guaranteed to defeat your enemy The Reapers……and maybe you’ll die) or REJECT (where you reject the options The Catalyst presents….. and btw EVERYONE DIES…..and then someday in the distant future people figure out how to defeat The Reapers). It’s pretty clear cut to me that destroy is the only true option. The Catalyst is an ancient Artificial Intelligence or VI that controls The Reapers and IS THE BAD GUY (because it controls The Reapers who have terrorized the galaxy for millions of years). It is giving you these choices because NO ONE has ever made it that far, which is probably a manual system reset that the AI cannot choose. Also, if you have a high enough score and you choose the Destroy ending….Shepard lives. It’s the ONLY outcome where Shepard lives. So yes….Destroy is the ONLY option because it goes along with your character and the entire storyline of the series. Find bad guy. Defeat bad guy. Save galaxy.

Outrageousness: Stronger than the Storm

This is by far the stupidest and most moronic slogan of our times in the USA. If you’re not familiar with it, ‘Stronger than the Storm’ is an asinine platform/slogan/song which represents that ‘the people of New Jersey’ (who live on or near the jersey shore) are ‘stronger’ than the ‘storm’ (Hurricane Sandy). As if Hurricane Sandy was a conscious entity who malevolently targeted the Northeastern United States!!! This platform is completely outrageous and implies that ‘the people’ are going to ‘rise up’ against Hurricane Sandy’s blatant aggression towards us!!! News flash!! It’s a hurricane. It’s not conscious. It’s a weather patten. Shit happens!

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I’m not insensitive to the horrendous destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. I was directly affected by the storm. My family and friends were directly affected by the storm and suffered lots of damage to their properties. My entire street had downed trees, loss of power, trees crashing into people’s houses, flooded cars etc. etc. It was a terrifying experience watching home after home being washed away in person and on television. If you were in the Northeastern USA at the time….you know how devastating it was. And it still is a horrible experience trying to get reasonable assistance from insurance companies and our government (but that is a topic for another M.A.V.B.L.O.G). Regardless of that, ‘Stronger than the Storm’ is moronic. Here are the lyrics from the 30 second commercial spot

‘It’s in our blood. Our DNA. It’s who we are. We’re here to stay. Cuz we’re stronger than the storm. Woooaaaahhh. We’re stronger than the storm’

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Do I want people to assist one another in rebuilding? Yes. Do I applaud people who volunteer and give to charities in assistance of displaced families, business’s etc. etc. ? Yes. Do I agree that Hurricane Sandy was extremely destructive? Yes. But I disagree with the witless and brainless platform of ‘Stronger than the Storm’. We Americans might as well just wear a sign on our chest that says ‘We’re morons!’. It wasn’t a war. Hurricane Sandy wasn’t a terrorist. It was a damn hurricane!!

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As an American, who was affected by Hurricane Sandy, I would have liked to see a reasonable slogan hit the airwaves. Some do exist such as ‘Jersey Strong’. Great. That’s wonderful. It implies that ‘I’m from New Jersey. I’m strong. And I’m determined to help rebuild after the hurricane’. Wonderful platform. What does ‘Stronger than the Storm’ imply? It implies that we were attacked by Hurricane Sandy. It destroyed us. But we’re still stronger than it. And we’re gonna show that storm!!! We’re gonna rebuild in spite of that storm!! As if Hurricane Sandy even cares!!!

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Now…ok fine. To be fair amidst my frustration, the governments of the world have done some whacky experiments over the years with weather modification, even going back to WW2….and maybe earlier. So….perhaps it’s possible that Hurricane Sandy was created and sent to the USA as a sort of bomb, which means that either another government sent it to us, or some rogue organization OR…. which is even scarier, WE sent it to destroy our own country! Being that the USA is the most powerful country in the world, if weather modification did exist, we would have it!! Maybe Obama did it! Maybe some double agent in the CIA did it. Maaayyybbeee an American Senator who brokered a deal with an Australian scientist created the storm!!! It’d be a great plot for a movie! But that type of stuff doesn’t matter to us regular folks who don’t have top government security clearances. All we know……..is that there was a big hurricane that devastated the North East. People died. Homes were destroyed. Buildings were crushed. Lives were ruined. That’s it.

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I’m not mad at people for donating their time and money to a benevolent cause. I’m mad that a simple slogan, which obviously a lot of time and effort, from a lot of people, went into choosing it, makes us (Americans) look like morons. So I propose that we adopt a new platform and slogan, which sums up what happened very concisely and more appropriately…….

‘Shit happens….Let’s rebuild’.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to all those you encounter. And have a nice day. Oh….and here’s some President Obama for ya. BOOYEAH!!!

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Movies: The Indie Film World and K.F.T.

The time has come. ‘Kung Fu and Titties’ (2013) is available for digital download via Vimeo On Demand. I’ve already written a M.A.V.B.L.O.G. about my film, which you can read HERE. But this short piece is a little self-promotion as well as a reflection on the film and indie filmmaking in general.

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‘Kung Fu and Titties’ (2013). It’s fun. It’s stupid. It’s got naked ladies. Well worth watching it in my opinion. As most indie filmmakers know, it sometimes takes years, if not decades to get your film off the ground. You’re going to do it low-budget…… then someone comes along and wants a bigger budget, then an actor comes along and needs an even bigger budget….and then that falls through and you’re back to a small budget…etc….etc…etc. It had been suggested to me that I document on video the entire process in getting the film made….. way back to 2006 when I first started talking about the film, and though that might have been cool, it wasn’t exactly feasible or constructive at the time. Long story short…..it took me about 7 years to get this movie made (technically 5 since we shot it in 2011…..but it wasn’t released until this year). And yes……even on a low-budget it took that long.

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I just want to say thank you to all the hard working cast/crew members on my film and on all other indie films. It takes a special kind of person OR an insane kind of person to survive in the film/tv business…..and I applaud them all. There are many people behind-the-camera and behind-behind-behind-the-camera that don’t always get recognized.

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‘Kung Fu and Titties’ had a limited theatrical run, topped by a screening at the Cobb Plaza Theater in Orlando, FL this past week on August 8th 2013. If we’re lucky enough, we may continue to do screenings (a la The Room) for venues that are into the film. Otherwise, go get your pre-order DVD’s, set to ship late September, or download it now via Vimeo On Demand.

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Thanks again to all the hardworking people that were on this film, actors, crew members, day players, investors, consultants etc. etc. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. And have an awesome day.

Love: The Best Deodorant EVER!!!!

Writing a blog about deodorant? ‘That’s really weird’ you may be saying….but no, no, no. Since about 1998 my body has had an aversion to most deodorants. It all began with Old Spice…..and hey I’ve got nothing against Old Spice, it’s just that I became allergic to the ingredients and would develop a rash down the entire side of my body when wearing the deodorant. So, I could smell nice and have a horrible rash that made me look like a burn victim, OR I could try different deodorants. I was allergic to something in most of the name brand products so even if they did work…..the rash returned. I began looking for all-natural ones or organic ones.

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Over the years I went through about every brand of deodorant. You name it, I’ve tried it. Speed Stick, Mitchum, Tom’s, Degree, Dove, the Thai crystal, Right Guard etc. etc. etc. Some worked for a few hours. Some worked for a couple of days. Some didn’t work at all. I tried putting just baby powder or talcum powder on, and that worked, but I’d have to re-apply almost every 2-3 hours. I even resorted to just dealing with my stinky armpits and covering it up with cologne…..and then eventually not wearing anything at all. Really….. It was BAAADDD!!!!

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I kept trying and trying new deodorants until there weren’t many left to try. I continued my fruitless search and then came across one called Take A Whiff!® by Pristine Beauty. Ok. Nice website. Nice packaging. But 22 dollars. Wow! What a price tag for a deodorant. I didn’t want to pay that much. But ya know what??…..I was desperate. And finding a cure to my armpit problem was worth spending 22 bucks. So, I ordered one and gave it a shot.

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The first day, it worked. Whoa!! Awesome. I had read on the website that there would be a detox period and to not give up on it. But on the second day, it didn’t work anymore and I did give up on it. About a week later I said to myself, ‘What the heck!?! Let’s give it another whirl’, and I tried it out again. It worked………for one day…….then one week…..then one month. It was working!!! Consistently!! Holy Moly!! For the first time in years I didn’t have to change my shirt twice a day, or keep putting on deodorant/powder/cologne every couple of hours. I didn’t need a back-up of cologne or deodorant in my pocket or in my car because this stuff actually worked. I was out swimming, out in the sun, out sweating while I gardened, out at work all day running around……and the deodorant still worked. My armpits didn’t smell. Sometimes at night after a long day, my t-shirt didn’t stink….nor did my pits. This stuff was the real deal.

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I don’t work for Pristine Beauty and I wasn’t paid to write this blog. I’m just so ecstatic I have a deodorant that works….that I’m voicing my praise for this product. The company states that it is Aluminum Free, Paraben Free, Phthlates Free, Proplene Glycol Free and Cruelty Free. GREAT!!! That’s awesome. No chemicals. I’m not allergic to it. It smells like marzipan candy (to me at least) It’s somewhat good for me I guess……and it’s a small American company…..so I’m helping out the ‘little guy’ so to speak. Awesome!! I’ve got nothing but praise for Pristine Beauty. I’m going to continue using Take A Whiff!® and maybe I’ll even grab some of their other products.

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So, if you’re like me and you have really stinky armpits OR you’re allergic to lots of deodorants…..do yourself a favor and buy Take A Whiff!® It really is amazing. Be sure to use their ‘pit pointer’ of applying some baking soda. It helps exponentially. Once again, I didn’t get paid to write this. I’m just a fan. Of course I’m still gonna use my favorite colognes occasionally….but now I don’t NEED to. If I had ten thumbs, I’d give this ten thumbs up. 22 dollars well spent!!! Rock on Pristine Beauty. Keep up the good work and don’t sell out to a big corporation and have them change your recipe. ‘Very Niiiice’

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. As always, be good to yourself. Take care of your armpits. And be good to animals, plants and other humans alike.