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29 May 05
I don't have the latest news from my end regarding Hoboken Hollow. I'd been told that it would be a couple more weeks before the 'picture is locked'. That was a couple of weeks ago when I was told this. Dealing with an organization that does film work is still new to me, but it sort of resembles some government or corporate infrastructure that I've contended with before. I saw a crew member's T-shirt that said: "Please don't tell my family that I work on a film crew. They think I'm a piano player in a whorehouse." But enough making fun for now. Believe it or not, when I read the script for Hoboken Hollow, I noted some pretty good plot elements. It certainly was not what I expected, given the 'B' movie implications of this endeavor. Sure there's blood and guts, and that harrowing scene in the 'orange' room, but I think the film should stand a chance otherwise (or maybe because of). I mentioned in a previous blog Sam Wallack, the resident ghost of my Menard house, and that a few actors and crew members apparently experienced some of Sam's antics. It takes a bit to provoke Sam, be it the loud endeavors of fellow musicians jamming down or, in this case, a house full of film crew and actors. Mark Holton (of "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" fame) who plays Weldon, told me that when he was standing in one place with nobody else near him, something decidedly thumped against a water bottle he'd placed in a backpack he was carrying. Interesting. For brevity, I'll save the story of Sam playing the piano to a future blog (subject piano was filmed in one scene, too). I did tell Mark Holton and Teri Wallace (who plays Teri Hilton) about Sam and the piano. This gave Teri further qualms about going back in the house when she went to do her last scene. More on those qualms in another blog as well. A Google search for "Hoboken Hollow" currently returns 151 results, so there's some buzz about. One web site mentions the film being in theaters this fall. We'll see, so to speak. Now on to other stuff. Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of the storm that ravaged San Angelo with baseball size hail and tornadoes. An impressive squall line formed west of town yesterday, but it opted to settle for some wind and rain, rather than to commemorate the spectacle from a decade ago. No heartbreak on my part for sure. Okay, last item for this Blog: Kite Runner. I finally finished the book a couple of weeks ago. The ending was a bit anti-climatic. Seems the author's lead character gets into more things he can blame himself about than what would amount to a good story. However, for anybody who had been in Kabul in the early 70's such as myself, I'd have to recommend the book as a decided blast from the past. May I wish Khaled Hosseini the best in his future books. Later, hombres.
13 May 05
Couldn't let a Friday the 13th go by without posting a blog. Amazingly (and I can hopefully say this now, since the day is over) this Friday the 13th has been a good and lucky day for the office. Word from the JAHCO/HSI inspectors who had been in our place this past week, was that we passed with mostly flying colors. A great celebration, as well as a collective sigh of relief to be had this morning as we find our workplace wasn't touched by the BRAC folks. Not closing, gaining, nor realigning. So, to continue on this discussion of the day, wasn't 'Friday the 13th' a title for a rather bad horror (redundant) film that was subsequently sequeled to death? There was talk in the works during filming of 'Hoboken Hollow' about a sequel already. So I have to think of Mel Brook's line in Spaceballs about the hopeful sequel called 'Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money'. But enough. Luck be a Lady Tonight.
7 May 05
With exception of props being removed by set dressing folks, the Menard fixer-upper homestead remains somewhat at the ready in case the Hoboken Hollow folks need to re-shoot anything. A couple more weeks until the "picture is locked" (that would mean they don't need to re-shoot anything) and maybe I can finally reclaim the place. I cleaned out the other front bedroom (not the 'orange' one) where a bunch of things were stashed for the shoot. To reference Mark Twain's 'Huckleberry Finn', I about had to take soundings to navigate that room. As I said, it has been a mess. I received a very nice E-mail reply from Deneen Frazier, the Austin based actress who played Lois, the boil faced villain hick. She says "Hope we didn't do too much damage! It really was such a gift to allow us to use the space. I enjoyed learning about its history and how it reflects the history of Menard." Most of the cast and crew wanted to know more about the place, so I told them what I knew. I shared my story about Sam Wallack, the resident ghost, and his playing the piano for a fellow musician one night (more on that in a later blog). Sam apparently decided to have some fun with actors and crew as well, based on a few things I heard. He may have taken inspiration from Bart, the ghost at Angelo Civic Theatre. Jonathan Fraser the Los Angles based actor playing Junior, the cattle prod wielding villain, tells me that he's renovated several old Victorian houses. He says Bob Villa doesn't know (explicative deleted) either. Somehow that doesn't surprise me. I wonder if I can enlist this guy's help. I guess I'm not much of a celebrity hound though, since I didn't know who had been in what movie, TV show, etc and didn't go trying to hawk autographs etc. I am sure some of the more famous folks probably appreciated that. These are folks who had been in (to name only a few TV shows and films from extensive resumes) The X-files, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Smallville, Dr. Who, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, NCIS, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Beggars and Choosers. Wow. Probably as close to celebritydom as I'll get for awhile. May get this place on the map yet. In the meantime I have some work to do. Later, folks.
22 Apr 05
"Oh my poor house!" I ventured to say around 4 AM yesterday (Thursday) morning as cast and crew wrapped up their work with "Hoboken Hollow" at 303 E. San Saba. One cast member (rest of them had wrapped) and the crew then headed back to Hat Creek Ranch to finish some other takes they still had to do, before it became daylight. It was a long last day of shooting for the film, and I later heard that they finished around 8 AM that morning (ouch). Wednesday night (20 Apr) was the second of two long nights of shoots in my Menard house. A house full of nearly 50 members from crew and cast is at best, a unique experience. I think I'll be policing up semi-empty ozarka water bottles and gaffing tape for some time to come. Food from the caterers, served in my west yard was good though. From my perspective as an occasional thespian, I garnered much from watching these film actors at work, and all the technicalities involved. All this setting up for a shot appears to us thespians as the tech rehearsal from hell. However it does get underway. Film actors who have to repeat the same work and intensity for multiple takes of a scene (with very dynamic blocking) is a feat in and of itself. I may want to consider myself blessed with my computer job and the occasional paid musician gigs after watching all this (even though I have done paid actor gigs). My thanks to actors and crew for accepting me (even though I am the property owner) as part of this endeavor. As I watched crew members clustered around a video monitor during takes, I felt like I was amongst folks in the green room at Angelo Civic Theatre during a show. I love watching these creative minds at work. I also felt the identity between musicians and actors, be the actors in whatever media they are in. May the rest of us supporting them get appropriate recognition as due. Now for what is left of my house. A bunch of rooms had been used for scenes. I think though, had the house not become as run down as it had, it wouldn't have been considered as a set in this movie (fair thought). My bedroom is now very ORANGE! It was painted that color for a scene that hadn't been cleared with me either, but I'll not elaborate for now as I don't want to give the story away (no this is not an X rating, but definitely an R rating). Suffice it to say, it wasn't just the room that was violated. This orange paint was covered with some stuff to lend an aged effect and that stuff smelled quite funky. The orange color was a theme used in this movie for places where bad things happen. So it is definite reason for the orange in that room to come off, or is at least get painted over. I'm considering getting a priest or somebody to bless/rededicate my bedroom to clear the metaphysics impressed in there. However the check is now deposited in the savings account for fixing up the house. Maybe this will expedite my efforts to get underway again. Sure is a selling point for future bed and breakfast tourists: "Stay in the very house in which 'Hoboken Hollow' was filmed". But I'll have most of the rooms fixed up by that time. More later. All the best meanwhile, and as usual, please stay tuned.
16 Apr 05
Got the tax return filed, actually a day before the thing was due. Since I have money coming back again, I ponder why I wait on filing the thing. Hey, it's money not spent yet. Now here's my update on Hoboken Hollow. With a film crew using my Menard house for a set, I now have some idea how a hotel manager feels when he rents rooms to rock musicians (reference Joe Walsh's lyric in the song Life's Been Good: "I live in hotels, tear out the walls"). So far, I still have a house, actually with walls intact, but with a lot of other things quite upside down for now. I went down there last Friday (8 Apr) after work and watched as a couple of scenes were filmed in the back part of the house. The first I watched was a night thunderstorm scene, where outside one window was some strobe equipment set up to emulate lightening. Since this was filmed during daytime, the doors and windows were all blacked out. Lots of black plastic. Next scene (the last filmed that day) was an evening shot with sun streaming in the west windows and door (the real sunlight was supplemented by a few very bright lights). Our old piano we brought back from Guatemala, was part of the set. The piano was made in East Germany & has rivets in the keys, so they look like dominos. Another item used in the set was our big round table we'd brought back from Kabul, Afghanistan. It originally occupied our informal dining room in our house in Shari Now (the house is still there -I have a link to its satellite picture in my 24 Nov 04 blog entry, and the extension for that dining room is visible). So there's some trivia for you fans, if/when this movie becomes a hit. My involvement in show biz so far has been civic theatre and one commercial (I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV). This is my first exposure to the production of a feature film (and I am not working as 'talent', at least yet). In the course of my observations, I recognize a few terms familiar to us thespians, but so much of this is a whole new world. This film is based on the actual story of the Ellebracht family from Kerrville that hired drifters to work on their ranch in the early 1980s. It turned out that these drifters were lucky to escape with their lives. The back part of my house is at best, quite run-down looking, and it worked nearly perfect for what the director Glen Stephens was looking for. So it became a ranch cabin for some unwitting couple, down on their luck, who ended up in the middle of this mess. The use of my house, and what I saved these folks in set construction, should amount to a fair compensation (or else). So I wonder, given this film becoming a hit and I finally fix the place up; do I have to leave at least one room in original condition for all the tourists? More later.
7 Apr 05
With my house in Menard being used as part of the set for filming of "Hoboken Hollow", a spook flick, I wonder if this is a hint that I really should get going again on fixing the place up. This is another film, being directed by Glen Stephens. Last year, he did a film, called "Molding Clay", much of which was also filmed around Menard. "Molding Clay" is a finalist in a film festival going on at the moment in Houston, with hopes of being released soon. Now he's back with this new project. According to today's front-page article in the San Angelo paper, this is Glen's first venture into horror flicks. They're filming at the house most of tomorrow, and I hope to get down there to watch some of it. I've done a heap of theatre, and one commercial so far in my acting career (a couple of those were actually paid gigs) but I haven't had much exposure to feature films. Report on that soon to come. Following up on Kite Runner, I haven't continued reading yet, because I know I'll be up another entire night when I do. As I said, it sure stirred some early 70's memories of Kabul. Next topic. I bought a 2000 Honda Odyssey EX van a couple of Fridays ago and put it to immediate use that evening. There were gigs that weekend and next, along with an Easter sunrise service that I once again did sound for. Getting set up for that sunrise service was a mess. It rained a very cold rain on us in the middle of setting up Saturday before (sure was good to have hauling capabilities protected from the elements for my stuff). So we had to get out there really early Sunday morning to do what didn't get accomplished Saturday. With the exception of a keyboard losing sound in the middle of a sing-along for hymns, things went quite well. TV and Radio stations seemed happy with the sound I was sending from the board. Side note here; finally got the sat radio (XM) working in the new van (no cassette deck in there to stick my adapter in). Took extensive efforts on the part of some kid installing stuff at this store. The FM RF modulator this store has used for installing everything, didn't want to work with my SKY FI 1 receiver. It didn't have low pass filter for audio coming to it, so it was picking up computer electronics junk above the audio spectrum from my somewhat unfiltered SKY FI 1's output. The resulting modulated RF was full of white noise. So I went out and bought the FM RF modulator that XM makes for the thing (with low pass filtering), I let the kid swap it out and all works well now. Rather than being an ---hole, I let the kid have a few extra bucks in labor for his efforts to resolve the problem. He was still reluctant to agree to my diagnoses and solution, but we have XM up and working in the van now. Next thing is to get some more goose in the wimpy speaker output that Honda put in this vehicle. Well, think I'd better post this blog and archive things from the previous quarter. Hasta la taco.
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