Saturday, June 28, 2008

off the grid

sorry about the delay, man, but things have gotten out of control as the time dwindles. it always happens: things ramp up and people realize we have 2 days left to get everything we need. they start jumping and shouting and things actually get slower. and louder. and more stressful. but alas, i am out of the woods for shooting. finished in a flurry of activity. some highlights:

last night's dinner with pi song (mifune)-his favorite chicken stand

jaywalking in bangkok at night

jaywalking in bangkok in the day

some giant street market situation with loads of smelly indian men (confirming my desire to avoid india. i will eat indian food in london, thank you very much. all the pros without all the poverty, crowds, smells, and devastation.)

staying in a new hotel (this one has hot water!! how luxurious!!) but i forgot to take my computer, hence the lack of posts

traveling 5k in an hour and a half (yeah traffic!!)

watching the waitress get scared out of her wits by a rogue elephant at pi song's chicken stand

getting scared out of my wits by a rogue elephant at pi song's chicken stand (actually, it was not rogue but was being walked by a couple of down on their luck types. you pay them 20 baht or like 60 cents and they give you a bag of sugar cane to feed the little guy. he was two years old and about 7 feet tall. hairy. he trunk would reach into your hand and suck up the cane like a slimy vacuum attachment. he has sad sad eyes. apparently this type of activity is illegal in bangkok but so many folks used elephants to make their livings years ago that it has kind of clung on. i mean, come on...homeless guys in the states just fucking lay there. these guys had an elephant! none of this "why lie, i need a beer" shit. they had an actual elephant. i paid them and smiled. and then had to eat my meal with an elephant snotted hand. if i get sick, i will blame the elephant. so far, i feel fine.)

room service at the new hotel (i am tired)


hot hot heat

coming home monday

Monday, June 23, 2008

peth maak/the weirdest thing i have eaten

dude. another night that started out so ordinary that just exploded in an unseen direction. about 2 weeks ago, spencer and i were shooting a really simple scene on the beach in ao nong (near krabi) and-remember, it is monsoon season-the heavens opened up. we scurried back to our massage parlor trailer (shit, i wish i were that good of a writer to come up with some of this stuff) and played spendy. well, last night, it was the make up. which means a 2 hour drive out to some horrid beach town after an already long, slow day of work. guh. the fun started when on the way out to this joint, we passed through a town called si racha and i, being the wonderful smart/dumb ass that i am, asked if they had any hot sauce here. well, the joke was on me, because, yes, that is actually where that wonderful rooster sauce called si racha comes from. see, i thought it was sri racha and did not know it was thai. well, it is. so eat up!

baen sen beach has a distinct el segundo/dockweiller vibe. factories close behind. lame path with vendors. phalang resorts. but it all changed when the crew, waiting for dark, kind of just dispearsed only to reappear with boxes of food. crazy food. we had just eaten lunch, but these crazy asians love to eat the good shit. that is when i heard half of the grips sucking in air and waving their hands in front of their mouths. i had to get in there and see what was blowing the tongues of the hardest thais i know. and it was hot, sean. really hot. in a creep up on you kind of way. fuck, man. it was just a salad. that damn papaya salad with bits of crab in it. it's like a baited trap-so damn delicious and impossible to stop eating. then, like 5 bites in, the crowd going crazy for me, i feel it. nothing embarrasing happened. i even had a few more bites, but pet maak. pet maak maak. they all laughed and told me i was just super. respect through hot ass food.

as my mouth was surfacing, neung (whom i think i have mentioned before) slapped me on the knee and said, with enthusiasm that is impossible to convey on a blog, "dancing shrimp!!!!"
anyone who is that excited about something means you should immediately grab your camera and go along. we walked over to a guy with a doctored motorbike which had an aquarium balanced on it. i think you see where this is going now. i leaned my head in (and whacked it so fucking hard, by the way, i am too big for this country, you would be in hospital with multiple concussions) to get a good look at his tank. it was filled up with tiny shrimp darting every which way. they looked like a swarm of bees. except clear. neung ordered up a box (she made him make it pet maak for the phalang with the leather tongue) and bank (pronounced "bang," our sound guy) closed it tight and held it up to my ear. the little guys were pinging off the top of the box. it sounded like microwave popcorn about 2 minutes in. bank kept the lid on tight and then opened it just enough for me to get a spoon in there. the first load all escaped into the night air in my confussion. i paused a bit too long on the journey to my mouth. they just danced right off the spoon. my next bite hit the target though. the good news: they stop dancing by the shock of being in your mouth. or the biting through them. not sure which, but you don't actually feel them moving in any way. also good: they taste damn good. damn damn good. i was worried about the shell but the fuckers are so young they have not had any time to get a good shell on. soft and fresh. dancing shrimp. as spencer said, well, i have done that now and don't need to again. dancing shrimp. good old thailand.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

spencer and the spendy

in the trailer with some spendy...good ole spendy. i am up 7-1 (including spencer's recent forfeit after i slammed down "carried" for 72 on the third turn yesterday).

more separated at birth

again, the pics don't do this justice...but we have our producer urs brenner and quagmire from the funny and well known american animated comedy "family guy."

separated at birth...

alright sean...i am a bit at a loss for funny tales. had a great dinner last night. work is long. yeah yeah, separated at birth. here we are. our dp pi song and toshiro mifune. the pics hardly do it justice.

Friday, June 20, 2008

death cab ride home

yo man...again, sorry for the delay but we have been humping it of late. traveled back up to the big mango that is bangkok and then had got hijacked on my day off (hahahaha) to get zee papers and then a press conference that was actually just a dog show (jim brolin and spencer and some other bitch in this movie who has no credits were told to sit still while the thai press grilled us on thailand and how great the movie we have yet to finish/see is). anyway, it was all a build up to traffic. we think we have it bad in la la land. man. if i complain about only getting a bit slow on the ten, i will remember my commutes here. an hour and a half this morning to go just about 35 kilometers. granted, we did end up in a riot zone. i think the international press is all over the story, but there are giant demonstrations going on in bangkok at the moment (thai's are crazy about the king-i mean, hitlerian levels of devotion-more on this later). this morning on the way to work, we managed to drive directly through the protest and right past the police lines. we were the only "civilian" vehicle around for a mile. nice work guys. literally, right in the middle of about 200 cops, we just drove right in (obviously) without the proper identification. all of this was a great lesson in how things work around here with traffic and cops (also, fyi sean, the cops wear really tight trousers. i mean, really tight. kind of weird and femme. and brown.) while the cars are stopped. you think things would mellow out when they get moving but not at all...i actually saw a guy riding a bicycle down the highway. the wrong way. in the fast lane. wow. and it wasn't just a bike, it was actually some type of storefront cart. and no one cares. this was a major six laner, too, not some version of sunset. we are talking the 101 here man. and on our way home, spencer and i were just cracking our chang beers (yes, it has come to getting beers for the ride home and i learned tonight that i can open a beer with a razor-spencer called me macgeyver!!) when the driver actually stopped on the highway. from about 90 k/hour to a dead stop in about 500 feet. i don't think the tires squeeled, but they may have. we held our brews tight and wondered what we had just avoided hitting. the answer: nothing. he simply had missed his exit and rather than doing all those pesky safe things like taking the next exit and turning around, he just put on the hazards and went in reverse. down the highway. we clutched our giant bottles and said, repeatedly, it was a nice life, nice to have met you, etc. we, of course, were turned around watching the oncoming headlights careen our way. they all just kind of feathered around us. nary a honk was heard. we were in reverse sean. on the highway. the wonders never cease here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

the jungle


Sorry to belie the title of your blog but since I am taking you on this tour of southeast asia, it would be almost impossible not to talk about the power of the jungle in this place. It is everywhere here, doing what jungles do-taking over the roads and throbbing into the cities and being dense and green and powerful. They are unimaginable. When I have been hiking around (whether at work or play-tons of scenes of the movie have been shot in the coffee fields south of krabi and “coffee field” actually means jungle with coffee trees in it ((by the way, coffee trees are kind of cool and only grow about 9-10 feet. Quite pretty. And the coffee harvest here lasts only 3 weeks a year, so for the other 49 weeks, they just do their thing and the farmers grow palms (for oil) or rubber (for rubbers))), one has some of the same feelings when surfing, “I am in nature’s hands,” or “ I am soooo small.” Something like this. The sun is blocked out and the earth is always sweating and pulsing and air is suffocating. Another thought that comes to my head is what the hell this place would have been like if someone had been shooting at me. Maybe because we were boys who played war and are just old enough to have never really had to deal with one, it is easy to slip into that mindset. You feel the 60 pound pack. You hear dick ritter yelling at you (well, I guess not him since he was sipping mai tai’s in the city). You can’t help but raise your umbrella to the “ready” position. What our boys must have gone through. I am not getting political or patriotic, but man, we were fucked. Not in the wrong (read another blog for that shit), just fucked. You could train for a thousand years in the states but until that first wave of jungle grabs your ankles, you have no idea. These people have been here for thousands of years and it is deeply in their blood. They take the heat and the effort and the secrets of the place to heart. It is theirs. We had no business trying to take it (again, not in the political sense, just the actual sense) because we could not possibly get it away from them. If you could just hear the jungle hum and zip as you simply pound through it. The way the logs look sturdy and then explode under your foot-the termites the size of your big toe. The things that slither off as you round a corner. This place is remarkable on so many levels but you cannot help thinking of how foreign it is on so many levels. A million of our boys came over and felt that same thing just 40 years ago. Our mother’s friends. Just one generation off. I am sorry they died here. I am sorry they had to hate this place. i am sorry they never got the chance to just glide through the jungle and memorize the patterns of the falling leaves and the centipede trails. To the Vietnamese, it was just a part of their long history of war. No better or worse than any other. But to Americans, it looms large in our heads and hearts. I kind of think I know why now, even if most Americans don’t.