Tuesday, December 27, 2005

albuquerque luminaria tour 2005

Here are a few snapshots taken while on walkabout with friends through Albuquerque’s old town and country club neighborhoods checking out the luminaria displays.

At the end is a photo of my favorite present from this Krismas. Can you guess now what it is before you see it?

I love this way kool Jack Skellington cookie jar!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

a little bit western

Admittedly, I’ve never been much of a “joiner.” However, I couldn’t resist when offered the opportunity to take photographs for a local radio station (92.3 KRST) during their attempt to create a gigantic Christmas card to send to troops unable to spend the holidays with friends and families in the states.

The energetic morning personalities that make up the extremely popular Get Up Gang could not have asked for a better day (in December anyway) to try to get 1,000 listeners to contribute a couple hours of their busy Saturday for the effort. Unfortunately, the turnout was less than ideal to do justice to their concept.

I urge you to check out Levi and Dawson’s blog to see a bunch of photos I took for them. Although I’m including a teaser photo showing the volunteers practicing creating the “card,” I’m not going to include the final photo here since it is available on their blog. Seriously, go check it out.

Another item that recently captured my attention is the city of Albuquerque’s plan to provide FREE books for people using the public transportation system. As you may be aware, the city’s Rapid Ride buses are equipped to provide wireless web access to commuters. That’s great, but the fact that riders on ALL city buses who don’t have laptop computers are not being overlooked is fantastic!

I find it interesting that the list of book donation locations available on the city website fails to include the most obvious solution for people wishing to donate a handful of books. That is, to simply carry some books onto a bus during a future commute, and leave them on the seat when you depart. Just think, the next time you spot a copy of Contract Archaeology: The Coloring Book on a city bus, you’ll know I’ve been on board.

Friday, December 23, 2005

final flock

It appears that filming of “The Flock” on our block has finally wrapped up. Roderick , one of the Production Assistants, informed me that they were indeed using a wolf in the film. In fact, they had three Canadian wolves at their disposal- I guess because even the best animal handlers are unable to predict in advance how a particular animal is going to react to a given situation. I found it odd that even animal roles in motion pictures are being outsourced these days. I guess no American wolves were interested in the part.

I watched over an hour of the production late last Friday night, including more conversation between Richard Gere and Claire Danes while they sat inside that crappy brown Buick I mentioned a few days before. I also got to see one of the wolves up close. That was insane! I found it really interesting to watch the handler rubbing the wolf’s tummy while it rolled around on it’s back on Walter Street. The PA also told me that in the movie, the wolf enters Danes’ house and begins licking her hand while she is sleeping. Supposedly, the “bad guy” is sending her a message to leave him alone. Not to fear though, as Gere shows up and saves her (assuming, of course, that he isn’t a werewolf in FBI agent’s clothing).

Okay, I don’t expect to be mentioning this film again until I learn when it is scheduled for release. Thank you for your patience!

Monday, December 19, 2005

every krismas tells a story don't it?

While doing some shopping last week, I couldn’t help but be entertained by a number of the people who crossed my path. The one that stands out above the rest though was this young lad who reminded me of Ralphie Parker (complete with glasses) from A Christmas Story. I probably would have mentioned him even if I hadn’t overheard him trying very hard to attract the attention of either his mother or grandmother- both of which were so busy looking for bargains that they were ignoring him completely.

This kid was literally hanging from a red sequin-covered women’s blouse exclaiming “This is what I want people… Dots!” I couldn’t believe that neither of the women would even toss him a courtesy, “You’ll put your eye out.”

The scene reminded me of when I was young and would drop subtle hints by leaving the JCPenny and Sears toy catalogs open on pages with awesome items on them (such as the Marx Fort Apache plastic cowboys and Indians set that came in this really swell metal case that also served as the fort). Everyone tells me that Christmas is for kids. Is it really? I’m not buying it for a second. Christmas is for merchants, the post office and greeting card companies. Are they children?

So what is it you want for Christmas? Anyone interested in FREE music? That’s right… completely free with no fees of any kind, and you don’t even have to give your email address to obtain the tunes. Bill McKirgan, one of my buddies from way back, is part of a midwestern band called Terrapin. They are currently giving away FREE mp3 files of a few of their original songs as well as covers of Grateful Dead and John Prine tunes. Check them out and ENJOY! If you work for a record label, I urge you to sign them to a contract in the near future.

Friday, December 16, 2005

crying wolf

In spite of the very small number of comments posted on the previous entry (one), that blog item has resulted in a flurry of emails. It seems that everyone either wants to read more about “The Flock,” or is hoping to see more photos of Richard Gere. Okay, a few emails have arrived asking what any of this has to do with baseball.

First, I want to clear up any misunderstandings about the photo I posted of Richard Gere. I did NOT take it. The son of the couple who are in the process of “flipping” the property next door did. The ONLY reason I even have the pic is because it was in need of some light and color adjustments, and I volunteered to do them using Photoshop. Since I had access to the photo, I decided to share it with my loyal readers.

I was talking to one of the Production Assistants (PA) Wednesday evening, and he indicated that the character that “lives” in the house is indeed played by Claire Danes. He had this cool iPod-type device that let him view the actual scene that was being filmed in real time while standing about outside. The part he let me watch was a close-up of Richard Gere’s hands as he scanned through a FBI book of crime scenes and body parts. It was pretty graphic. He also confirmed that the movie was originally supposed to be set in New Orleans, but the locus was shifted to Albuquerque because of the hurricane. Thus, people who go to the movie expecting to see Bourbon Street and shots of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 will instead be treated to various shots of our downtown skyline and the beautiful Sandia Mountains.

This same PA indicated that “Welcome to America,” a Kevin Kline movie currently being filmed in Mexico, is scheduled to wrap in Albuquerque around the middle of January. He also stated that a John Travolta project is to be filmed in the Duke City in 2006.

Okay then, whoever out there in cyber land posted the comment about Narnia must be some sort of genius or mystic. Certainly your timing could not have been spookier. I first read the comment in the wee hours of Thursday morning after coming indoors to warm up after having stood around in the cold watching all the activity. Although the crew didn’t show up at the set until around 4:00 pm, they shot for 10 hours before calling it a day at 2:00 am. Now those are my kind of hours!

At any rate, I stood transfixed in the blackness of winter watching an animal trainer handle what had to be the largest damn dog I’ve ever seen. Quite possibly, it was even a wolf. It appeared that she would release the beast from the leash on cue, and it would charge into the house and do lord knows what. (They really should provide copies of the screenplays to people like me, don’t you think?) As this scene was repeated time and again, I finally noticed the full moon overhead. “Good grief,” I fretted to myself, “I wonder if this is some sort of werewolf flick.” Taking a large step backwards, I attempted to calculate how quickly this wolf-dog could cover the ground between us if it escaped from the handler. Determined to spare my kitties gazing out through the living room window any holiday nightmares, I took an additional medium-sized step back towards the front porch.

Later, I was emailing a writer friend about what I had witnessed, and he inquired whether I thought Mr. Gere was a shape shifter. To be sure, the wolf-dog’s fur was the same color as Richard’s hair, but I didn’t think this was the case. I did recheck the movie’s details at InternetMovieDatabase.com though, just to make sure that Tony Hillerman hadn’t been added to the writing credits. He hadn’t.

Another 25 hours have passed and they are still going at it. They spent the day Thursday using cranes to hoist additional lights and rigging into the surrounding Chinese Elm trees, and have been filming since dusk. It never ceases to amaze me how much footage goes unused while pulling together a motion picture.

They are supposed to finish up in our neighborhood tomorrow, so I can get back to thinking of excuses for not writing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

no place else to go

Yet another entry about New Mexico's film industry. This time I’m not working as an extra, or even sitting around pretending like I’m waiting to be an extra. Instead, this time someone is shooting a movie across the street and three doors to the north of our house. In fact, they are shooting there right now.

This film is reportedly called “The Flock,” and stars Sir Richard Gere and Claire Danes. I won’t delve into the plot since I don’t know any more about it that you can find at Internet Movie Database.

Walter Street has been closed off since 9:00 am. My truck is the only one on the street that belongs to someone who lives in the neighborhood, resulting in an eerie feeling of being stuck in some combination of the Twilight Zone and the film Omega Man. I understand that everyone else on the block has complied with the requests of the production company to park in a church parking lot a few blocks to the east. I’m holding out for them to either sweeten the pot by offering me some cash to move my truck, or at least give me a ride in a limo. If nothing else, perhaps my old Ranger will make it into the movie.

The scene I’ve watched them shoot over and over and over and, well… over again today is this:

Richard Gere is standing out on the sidewalk next to a crappy brown car. Maybe it isn’t “crappy,” but it certainly is ugly. Anyhoo, once the director calls for action, this blonde-haired woman walks out of the house and down the sidewalk. The neighbors are telling me this actress is Claire Danes. I honestly have no idea who that is, so I looked her up online. After looking at her photos, I don’t think they are correct. Instead, I think she is KaDee Strickland. Nevertheless, this woman and Richard talk for a bit before he opens the car door for her and walks around to the driver’s side. They continue talking, and then she yells, “What, are you following me?” That leads to a bit more talking and eventually they climb into the car close the doors.

I shot a few photos from the front yard, but wasn’t able to get close enough to take anything worth sharing. However, our neighbor really wanted to meet Richard, so her son Jeff walked her over to the set and they actually got a decent photo with him before an angry Production Assistant ran them off.

Other rumors I’ve heard about this film include us not be “allowed” to have any outdoor lights on tonight, and that the movie is supposedly set in New Orleans.