Monday, January 23, 2006

Animas

"Animas" is a student short horror film being shot at Stanford University that deals with issues of alienation, societal apathy, the fear of growing old, and the inability of reason to explain certain phenomena in our lives.

The film centers around Nikki and Josh, a newly-married couple living on campus at a prestigious University. Josh is busy writing his dissertation; meanwhile, Nikki finds it difficult to connect with anyone in the cold, isolated world of academia. Unfortunately for Nikki, someone is trying to connect with her: Josh's dead mother, a former witch, is attempting to possess her body. But no one around Nikki listens, including Josh. Nikki turns to a good witch, Karla, for help. Together, the two embark on a mission to rid the spirit of the mother's ghost from Nikki once and for all. Will they succeed?


"I really liked the premise of your film. As a former Harvard student from a less than posh background, I can totally empathize with the non-supernatural aspects of Nikki's plight. I also happen to be a huge fan of horror films. Anything combining a grim look at academia with horror is something I'd love to be a part of! Specifically, I'd like to audition for the role of Josh..."

See! I audition for straight roles, too! One nice thing about this production is that it will be shot over a weekend. I just started a new job, so weekend gigs are the only ones I'm able to commit to.

Morgen Tomorrow

Recently, I've been thinking of making a scrapbook for my acting gigs. In the meantime, I'll do it virtually, with updates on the roles I'm going for in the Bay Area.

With Pandemonium all wrapped up, it's time to look for something else to sink my teeth into. The following caught my eye:

Morgen Tomorrow

Here's an excerpt from the cover letter I just sent to the production crew.

I'm an actor with 3 years of experience in both film and theater. The last role I played was that of a gender-bending office worker named "Trishel." I find it great that Tracy, while androgynous, is still one of the football players! I would love to audition for that role...

A friend of mine expressed concern over the fact that most of the roles I've played have been gay or bisexual men. He's got a legitimate concern regarding typecasting. Here's a rundown of some of my past roles:

Brady: Bisexual super freak with some serious scatological tendencies.

Darren: Wistful gay boy in love with his closeted friend.

David: Gay family poster boy. Great with kids. Not so great with ex-wives.

Yo Yo: Closeted surfer who is dumb as dirt.

Trishel: Flamboyant office bitch diva with prescription sunglasses and a creative understanding of office-appropriate clothing.

Though many of my past roles share a sexual orientation, that's where the similarities end. And really, I think it's great when gay roles are actually played by gay men. This isn't a criticism of Brokeback Mountain. It's more of a big "?" over why, with all the gay boys in highschool and college drama programs, there are so few openly gay actors.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Human / Orca Cooperation

My roommate and I watched a PBS special on the orcas of Eden, Australia. It was an amazing documentary showcasing an unlikely partnership.

http://www.killersofeden.com/

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hostel Hostile

I just saw the movie "Hostel." It was surprisingly good. Read no further if you're thinking of seeing the movie. Spoilers within! Also, this movie is a gore and guts horror flick. NOT for the faint-hearted.


















The movie starts off as a basic film about a pair of obnoxious American backpackers, Paxton and Josh, who are soon joined by an Icelandic counterpart, Oli. They tour Amsterdam in search of sex, then hear about a town in Slovakia that has more sex than even they can handle (this is illustrated by a cell phone slide show of gratuitous girl-on-girl action). Apparently, due to war, the male population of the town has been decimated, causing the female populace to become wanton and do anything and everything with visiting men, especially "Americans with their sexy accents." The brash trio waste no time hopping a train for some Slovakian booty.

Thus ends the first half of the film. There were three things that struck me as maverick choices for a movie of this genre, and they all had to do with one character, Paxton. Though thoroughly American, he is also Latino. However, unlike other horror flicks, his ethnicity is not played for thugged out "street cred" or wacky Latino hijinks. He's just a super horny American guy that happens to be Latino. Second, he is fluent in German, unlike the stereotype of the American "monolingual chauvinist." And finally, Paxton is a vegetarian. He still likes to party, he talks like an imbecile at times, and generally doesn't give off any of the usual flower child vibes that Hollywood loves to ascribe to most vegetarians. Of course, as soon as it's revealed that he's vegetarian I'm thinking, "you're Latino AND vegetarian? In a mainstream HORROR movie? Dude, you are sooooo dead!"

The second half of the movie finds the trio in a Slovakian hostel, where all their fantasies are just within reach. Despite being told it's the local girls that put out, it's their Russian-Italian and [oh, I forget where the other girl is from] roommates who they hook up with. The Icelandic "king of swing" (as he calls himself) hooks up with a local. The next day he and a Japanese woman go missing. The guys go out dancing, though Josh is visibly worried about Oli. In twist on the normal gender arrangement of such things, the girls slip Paxton and Josh GHB. Totally high, Paxton mistakenly locks himself in a closet while trying to find the restroom. Lucky for him. Josh is taken to a dungeon where he is horribly tortured. And I mean horribly. This movie is NOT for the faint of heart. I repeat. It is NOT for the faint of heart. When Paxton awakes the next day, he realizes something is terribly wrong and searches for his friends. Finally, his seductress takes him down to the dungeon to see his friend, or rather the remains.

The oversexed misogynist tourists who saw women as objects of desire, scorn, and ridicule are now the objects themselves. They're toys of rich businessmen who pay top dollar for the privilege of torturing them to death. The cost is graded by nationality, with Euros the cheapest, Japanese mid-priced, and Americans top-dollar. In case we missed the message, the murderous vixen clues the entire audience in with, "you wanted me to be your b*tch? I make much money selling you. Now you are MY b*tch." Paxton is dragged kicking and screaming to a cell, where he awaits his fate in total darkness. Finally, his butcher arrives. Taking a look at Paxton, he protests with the guard. There are no subtitles, but it's evident that the man is not convinced that Paxton is an American. I was wondering when that would come up. People with dark complexions and hair are often taken for Gypsies, especially in Eastern Europe. While I liked Paxton as the Everyman despite his ethnic heritage, this scene added a lot of legitimacy to the character overall. The guard threatens to shoot Paxton unless he talks. Paxton obeys, surprising the butcher, while the guard gloats, "see! American!" Paxton responds in absolute terror, "NO! Just look at me! I'm not a f*cking American!" Then commences another scene of brutal torture, that is only stopped when Paxton hears his captor utter something. Realizing that the man is German, Paxton begins to beg and plead in the language. The German sadist is obviously disturbed by this, as it humanizes Paxton far too much for his taste. We're talking some tear-jerking material here. The sadist's solution is to have the guard place a ball-gag in Paxton's mouth so he can continue with the torture. A seriously gross and painful twist of fate frees Paxton, who kills his captor and eventually escapes. But before he does, he frees the second of two Japanese tourists, though in doing so, he and the audience witness what is probably the worst gross-out moment in the entire film. And with that, I'll end the summary portion of my review. A bit more happens in the film, but I think I'm done with talking about the guts and gore.

All in all, I was entertained by the film. It was frighening and full of suspense. Plus, I liked the message about objectification that the film conveyed, though I don't think pornography is on par with bodily mutilation. Still, the movie stands out in its genre, especially with a lead character that defies several stereotypes and horror movie conventions all at once. I mean, really. Who would've expected a movie like this to have a vegetarian hero?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tofu Bulgogi

I love tofu. Even before I became a vegetarian, tofu was a regular part of my diet thanks to my Korean mother. I enjoy it in all of its incarnations, but I do realize that the soft texture and mild flavor of common preparations isn't for everyone. With that in mind, the following recipe is great those who haven't had tofu before, as well as avowed tofu-haters. It's based on Korean marinated beef, bulgogi. The combination of thorough marination and prolonged dry heat create a tofu dish with a taste and texture unlike any other.

Ingredients

2 pounds of firm tofu
2 cups of soy sauce (this is a lot of soy sauce, but you can freeze leftover marinade. It will keep indefinitely. If you're certain that you'll be able to marinate overnight, you can do 1 cup soy sauce and 1 cup water, as the marinade will completely infuse the tofu and make the dish too salty for some people's tastes)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp sugar
4 cloves of garlic, minced (more if you like)
1 inch x 1inch piece of ginger, minced
1 tsp black pepper

Preparation

Set the blocks of tofu under a plate and a weight for an hour. If your tofu is exceedingly firm, you can skip this step.


Cut each block of tofu into 8 slabs. Place the 16 cutlets in a large oiled baking dish. Mix the remaining ingredients well, then pour over the tofu.


Let it marinate for at least an hour, but it's even better to let it marinate overnight. Turn the cutlets over once during their marination. Pre-heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit and cook for 20 minutes.



Remove from oven and turn over, then return to the oven for another 20 min. Serve with lots of rice and kimchi if you have it.

Tofu Bulgogi served with brown rice.


* All pictures except for the final one were from a previous batch of tofu bulgogi. The earlier batch was marinated for only an hour or so, while the batch I made last night was marinated overnight, resulting in the deeper color.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Raw Dairy

Lactose-intolerance was one of the reasons I was vegan for six years. Even before I went vegan, I avoided most dairy products, except for the occasional scoop of ice cream and frozen yogurt. It wasn't until I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian that I read that most cheese and yogurt was okay, since the mold in the former and the bacteria in the latter break down lactose. But straight milk was something I knew I had to avoid. Nowadays, Lactaid is an option. But even though I'm no longer vegan, I quite like soy milk so I purchase that instead.

Fellow food blogger, Melissa the Cooking Diva, had an entry about raw milk that piqued my interest. One of the claims of raw milk enthusiasts is that many lactose intolerant individuals can consume raw milk without incident. Call me a skeptic, but if this were true, why is this information not widely known? Well, more on that later.

Coincidentally, the FAQ Melissa posted was from Organic Pastures, a Fresno, California-based organic dairy, and one of two raw milk suppliers for San Francisco's Rainbow Cooperative. So I decided to experiment and bought a half-gallon of the stuff from the cooperative.

Rainbow Cooperative is well-known for it's huge assortment of organic cheese, including varieties made with raw milk. So on a whim I also purchased some locally-made raw blue cheese.

I had the glass of milk about 24 hours ago. The last time I had non-fermented dairy was paneer at an Indian restaurant. It took less than 5 hours for me to experience terrible cramps and bloating. To my surprise, I had no stomach problems at all with the raw milk. The people at Organic Pastures were right! Another pleasant surprise was how GOOD the cheese was. I've had organic cheese before, but never one made from raw milk. The taste was so intense, I had to eat it in tiny nibbles.

When I was a vegan, I really bought into the whole "Milk is Poison" rhetoric. It certainly made sense to me at the time. But reality does not conform to dogma. Not all dairy products are the same. There is a huge difference between pasteurized milk made from cows pumped full of antibiotics and raw milk made from grass-fed cows.

Check out these links to find out more about Raw Milk, it's availability, it's health benefits, and the motivations of big agribusiness to make it illegal:

Organic Pastures

Illegal Cheese