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Tag: Random

Agent Frank Patrick, FBI.

by Alex on Apr.26, 2010, under Blog

So my mate Andy, owner of Cranky Crock (hostel) had to turn down a small acting part as it was being shot on a Friday and Friday is his BBQ day. I think he wishes that he’d asked me to do the barbie, instead of giving me the part.

The week before, my friend Sarah the Barber and I had been witness to a massive drugs bust near her house, complete with guns and blood (I even managed to get a picture of the huge stash:)

cheeky-stash

being filmed as part of a new series of a popular soap opera El Cartel de los Sapos. A week later I was to be recording with the same bunch of guys…

The scene was set in a strip club brothel type place. Normally, working on Latin America time gets right on my tits – I arrived at 11:00 and we didn’t shoot ’til 16:00. This day though I wasn’t that bothered about the time – being surrounded by scantily clad and interested in the ‘gringo’ Latinas was far preferable to hanging out in the apartment working away with the only scant cladding to be seen belonging to Travis my housemate and business partner as he wanders past me betowelled on his way to the shower.

To be fayre I was a bit nervous during the first walk-through of my scenes, surrounded by professional actors, some of whom had travelled from Mexico for the filming, film crew, director etc, even the mostly nekkid laydies didn’t have much of a calming influence. After a couple of goes though I got into my stride, as it were – it seems to me that Latin soaps are mostly about holding massively exaggerated facial expressions for overly-long periods of time, which I think I’m quite good at.

It’s due to air in a few weeks and although I’m sure I’ll look a proper spaz, I’m quite looking forward to it. I wonder how many of the natives will question why an FBI man has a Brit accent. Far more I’m sure than those who will pick out the double entendre in my fave line: ‘You’re very good looking. You can pull it off.’

Bit embarrassing but if you want to see my 5 seconds of TV stardom then click here and go to 18 minutes…

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In Colombia, they love trees…

by Alex on Mar.21, 2010, under Blog

They must do.

Look. These trees are obviously ill and they’ve put drips in them to make them more betterer.

I’ve never seen tree drips before…

tree-drips tree-drip
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Cos I’m the unknown stuntman that makes Eastwood look so fine

by Alex on Mar.20, 2010, under Blog

So, we’re sitting around on a normal ‘work’ day, chatting about architecting and the like when our mate Andy (owner of Cranky Croc, best hostel in Bogotá) calls. It’s not difficult to get involved in TV in Colombia as a westerner – the look is in demand and there are not many of us here. Andy is in a mall doing extra work for a telenovela (soap opera) and one of the agents there is looking for some white boys to attend a casting for a Timberland advert; they were after a rugged look.

Convinced of our suitability based solely on not having shaved for a couple of days and having done a fun run some time in the mid nineties we headed for the casting, arriving some time later to be greeted by a rather frisky agent and noting that we were standing out from the rest of those waiting not so much due to our western looks rather due to our lacking of tight t-shirts, large biceps and other stereotypical model-esque qualities. Oh well, it was all good banter.

A little while into the obviously long wait we noted that we were outside G d G Stunts, this would explain the noises of people being beaten up that we could hear coming from inside. I didn’t think that this had anything to do with our being there reasoning that there were castings for various things going on, us being 99% sure that the two girls that had recently entered the building were auditioning for porn (mum, obviously I’ve never watched porn, Travis told me they looked like pornstars)!

Our turn came and Travis, Lee and I went into the building along with a handful of westernish-looking Colombian lads; we were expecting some kind of photo shoot thing and to be probably trying on some Timberland boots…

…and found out that the noises actually had everything to do with us.

We enter a room with a matted floor and large scaffold set up at one end. I’m pretty sure that none of us had a trepidation level of lower than 4/10. One of the stuntmen then tells us that all we need to do is ‘this’. He then runs and at the scaffold, vaults over a bar, jumps up to grab a pole along which he swings hand over hand to the right-hand scaffold tower. Defty climbing up the side of the tower he steps down to the horizontal pole that links it to the left hand tower at a height of about 10 foot. On crossing the pole he stops half way and does a comedy look left look right combo before jumping to the left hand tower, sliding down a diagonal pole to the next platform, running to the edge, doing a 180 degree jump to the floor, commando role and then giving us his ‘victorious gesture’ (I love it how so many phrases in espanish could come directly from an Austen novel).

Travis and I gave each other a nervous look. To say the least.

In the end it was a good crack. The Latinos took it all very seriously but then they were proper models and it was their job, we were just there for the banter. We clapped our encouragement and dicked about where possible. After a practice go each we did it for the camera and then shot another ‘scene’ diving to catch a bottle of ‘Pony’ a quite aptly-named (if you know Cockney rhyming slang – pony = pony and trap = crap) local drink as if it were some object of great value. We then had to vault a waist-high pile of mats that was supposed to represent a moving car, look back in relief at our near miss and then turn to the camera holding that look of relief. Needless to say I found it hard to effect looks of victory and relief without pissing myself, I am glad that I’m never likely to see the footage.

Lucky though, Travis was caught on camera. Enjoy:

Trav we’ll call that one all for that very gay photo of me that you put in the Tiësto montage x.

For those wondering, the title is a reference to the early 80s show The Fall Guy.

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Is there chicken in chick peas?

by Alex on Feb.25, 2010, under Blog

little-chickens

Immortal words to those who watched Big Brother 2 nine years ago, words that I’m sure caused cringe much of the watching population of Wales, especially Cwmbran (Hey, that’s my home town!) from whence Helen (the owner of the above quote) came and I’m sure still comes.

The widely-cited across the t’interweb etymology of the word chickpea puts to rest thoughts of any ostensible linguistic link between the two non-genetically related foodstuffs:

The name chickpea traces back through the French chiche to Latin cicer (from which the Roman cognomen Cicero was taken). This may have been taken from the Armenian word սիսեռ (siser) which refers to the bean. This is probable because Armenian was spoken throughout the northern Middle East in the areas where evidence of the first cultivation of the beans has been found. The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 citation that reads, “Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tonge.”

But lo, what is this? Take a closer look and you’ll see that the question ‘Is there chicken in chick peas?’ is totally redundant. Chick peas are hactually chickens, tiny little miniature baby frozzen chickens. Look!

I can’t believe that I’ve only just noticed this, being the cookingophile that I am. I wonder what new scientific discoveries would await me were I only to open my eyes…

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Three limes and some tea lights

by Alex on Feb.16, 2010, under Blog

So, our new apartment has a crap 2 ring electric hob with not an oven in sight – bit disappointing for someone what enthuses a relatively large amount over cooking.

This evening in the course of knocking up what I have to say was my finest curry (well selection of curries) in a while, I had to take to improvising a third ring, as it were. Worked pretty well though house mate and business partner Travis is still scraping wax off the sideboard thing…

camelman_0

Cost me though, as the tea lights burned the sideboard and the landlady, being mental, went mental and I ended up paying far too much to get it sorted out…

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Look at the doors on that!

by Alex on Jan.20, 2010, under Blog

It’s not as if I’m a massive doors fan and even though I do find good architecture and interior design appealing I’ve never banged on about it before yet I do find meself enthusing somewhat over the 1870s style Republican doors that we have in our new Bogotá pad.

Check this out spa:

doors_0
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Police escort

by Alex on Jan.16, 2010, under Blog

On Friday Travis (my mate and business partner) and I headed to Cazucá in the south of Bogotá with our friend Inge. Inge works for Touch of Love, offering loans to disadvantaged people so that they might set up businesses or expand the scope of their current enterprise.

We’d heard that Cazucá was a very poor part of town, built illegally and full of displaced people – displaced usually by paramilitary and guerilla activity from parts of the country that are not as safe as the large cities. Until recently water was brought in by donkey and it would be usual for children to discuss how many dead bodies they’d come across on their way to school – violence is a big issue in this part of town.

Paved road turned to dirt as the bus climbed the hillside, pedestrians protecting their faces from the dust as we pass them. There are shops and business, ‘phone and electricity cables feed the bare brick houses with ‘tin’ roofs, gas meters in cages adorning the front walls of buildings – not the kind of poverty you might see other parts of the world but then not a living situation that you’d wish upon anyone either.

We were warmly welcomed at the little shop in which we met the local ladies. It had once sold only empanadas and now, after a micro loan, offered a more varied range of produce. Chairs dusted down, we sat separated from the shop behind a wooden divide. I looked at the simple brick walls, half painted with steel reinforcements jutting out at random angles. Again, not the type of living set up that I’m accustomed too but shelter, water, ‘phone, gas and electricity is a lot more than many have. Saying that, I hear they only get water for a few hours a week. We chatted with some locals who were after micro fiance, Inge explaining the concept and terms and the locals expanding on their business ideas. We then heard that there’d been an armed robbery outside the shop and that the attackers were in the shop, just behind the wooden divide buying empanadas with the money they just taken at gun and knife-point. Time to keep the voices down – not time to be standing out as foreigners…

Apparently the police don’t often go to Cazucá and you need contacts to demand their presence. After a few ‘phone calls our extraction team turned up – two police motorbikes sporting two armed men per mount. We drew a little attention and one cop’s declaration to an old lady that she can call him if she needs anything, even if it’s only her cat or dog dying drew my attention being somewhat at odds with what we’d heard about police presence in Cazucá – empty words or had there just been a policy change? The ladrones had moved on by that point but we were under no illusion that they weren’t near and felt much safer than moments before with an armed police escort.

We wandered up the hill with the police and met another lady by a basketball court who’d used micro finance to buy a sewing machine. A truckload (literally) of cops then turned up, a few different police contacts having been called, and we stood about chatting for a bit eventually leaving the cops to wait for us whilst we went to the sewing lady’s house for a meeting. Another rustic abode with bare walls, a single ‘chair’ made from cover-less folded foam and a dog running about on the tin roof gret us and we discussed duvets. The only duvets I’ve seen for sale here were in an expensive mall and cost over £100/$160 each. We need duvets for our hostel and also think that if we make them, we’ll be able to sell them easily, in vast quantities – them being warmer, lighter and potentially cheaper than the here ubiquitous blanket. What better than to be able to give the work to a women’s collective in a poor neighbourhood?

Business discussed we regrouped with our escort then jumped on a bus to get back to the main road, one cop riding shotgun (well, revolver) and the other following the bus on his bike, the rest of them must have got bored and left whilst we’d been discussing duvets. And that was our visit to Cazucá – interesting, productive and potentially pant-shitting. I’m just glad for the wooden divide!

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The numbers all go to eleven

by Alex on Jan.04, 2010, under Blog

I really really really hope that the fact that the volume on the BBC iPlayer goes up to eleven (see the bottom right of the pic below) can be attributed to the above clip from This is Spinal Tap

iplayer
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Us, in context

by Alex on Jan.01, 2010, under Blog

I find it healthy to reflect on how insignificant I am from time to time…

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Takashi Murakami

by Alex on Dec.22, 2009, under Blog

I first came across the work of Takashi Murakami at the Serpentine Gallery in 2002 and instantly loved it. I can’t tell you why and have long got over the small-penis syndrome that I once had in being absolutely useless at any kind of art critique be it literary, performance-based sculpture, paintingy stuff or other. My opining can be extended with relative ease to such prosaic genius as ‘I like it’ and perhaps my favourite – ‘it is nice’, something that would probably have my secondary school English teacher turn in her grave (assuming she’s dead, which she probably is).

Takashi Murakami [singlepic id = 709 h=150 float = left] Takashi Murakami  (26)

From pure Tove Jansson through Smurfs on acid to melting Mangaesque monsters his art is seen on ‘canvas’ and in sculpture, on shoes, vehicles, buildings and to my surprise he’s the guy what done Louis Vuitton’s Monogram Multicolore.

Takashi Murakami  (62) [singlepic id = 759 h=105 float = left] Takashi Murakami  (57) [singlepic id = 750 h=105]

I’ve also read about some Kanye West stuff but have little interest in that after seeing Mr ‘West’ prancing about on stage supposing that he was very cool sporting frankly ridiculous glasses at Wembley, and it wasn’t even sunny!

I’ll not rehash easily googleable biographies but after failing to to find a decent single repository of his works I’ve created a gallery here, I hope you enjoy it!

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