Monday, October 17, 2016

Dependent's Day!

Picture Legend:

1. “Dependent’s Day”
2. Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
3. Hardy
4. Universal Studios Hollywood
5. Peter Duel
6. The El Portel Theater
7. Mechanical butter
8. Benita Robledo
9. Poster
10. Michael D. Lynch
11. Yeoman Rand
12. Making “Burden”
13. On the Red Carpet
14. Joe Burke
15. Benita and Joe (or if you prefer Alice and Cam)
16. Teresa Ganzel
17. Michael and cast
18. Alice having a chat with her mom (Bertila Damas)
19. Alice
20. Cam at the microphone
21. Day 5 of shooting
22. Alice and Cam again
23. Benita’s picture

   It’s official!
   Joyce’s Take endorses “Dependent’s Day!”
   I had been up all night trying to finish my last pack of cigarettes before going to sleep. I had paid good hard American cash for them, and I was going to finish them off, and smoke every single one, by God, even though I seemed to be suffering from an oncoming cold, flu, or pneumonia, one of the three, or possibly all of them, as I had a runny nose, and couldn’t stop coughing.
   But I’d get that last cigarette!
   It was 2:34 in the morning of October 13th, 2016, and I was watching the second half of the two part premier episode of “Star Trek the Next Generation,” on BBC America, “Encounter at Farpoint,” which not only marked the beginning of a successful series that would last for 7 seasons, and 178 episodes, but was unique in that it was the only episode that boasted Marina Sirtis, playing ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi, wearing a mini skirt.  
   I’d switch to “Morning Joe” on MSNBC at 3am, the 3 hour long weekday talk program hosted by Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman from Florida, and the lovely and talented Mika  Brzezinski, journalist, and daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter and a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson.
   MSNBC is considered the liberal equivalent to Fox News, yet “Morning Joe,” and one other hour program in the afternoon had a decidedly conservative bent. I watched it because I’m in to national politics and get up early in the mornings, and it’s the only news program I can stomach at that time of day, plus it’s always interesting to see the conservative reaction to current events... an honest reaction. You won’t get that on Fox, which is primarily a propaganda network.  
   That morning, Joe and his cohort regulars, journalist Mike Barnicle, TV host Willie Geist, MSNBC analyst and resident dick Mark Halperin (he was suspended in 2011 from his duties at MSNBC for "slurring" President Barack Obama on “Morning Joe,” saying the President came off as "kind of a dick" during the previous day's press conference), and the lovely and talented former  communications chief of President George W. Bush, Nicolle Wallace (Mika serves as the mild liberal balance on the show), were all in a dither reacting to the Access Hollywood video featuring presidential candidate Donald Trump describing his pussy grabbing prowess, which had been released the following Friday, and the subsequent claim of Jessica Leeds, that Trump had sexually assaulted her on an airplane 35 years ago, which had been made on the Anderson Cooper program (the same Anderson Cooper who had asked Trump pointedly during the second presidential debate if he had ever physically acted out what he had described in the AH tape. “No, I have not,” Trump replied) the night before.
   Scarborough was all skeptical about the “timing” of the release of the tape, and the accusations that would follow in the coming days, resulting in Trump’s poll numbers declining steeply.
   Was this a democrat/liberal/media conspiracy?
   Probably not considering the self admitted propensities of the candidate himself, but even if it was, so what? This was a presidential campaign, not a session of “Jeopardy.”
   I chuckled to myself, and felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
   All the while I was watching this, and later a 4th dimensional vampire movie, I would be coughing, and monitoring various news sites on my computer, via Yahoo Mail. Sites such as Alternet, Raw Story, Reader Supported News, etc. I would typically spend about one third of my day on Email (one third writing and editing, and one third staring vacantly off into space) .
   I am well informed.
   Nationally, not locally. The building next door to mine could be on fire, which was being reported on the local television news and I’d know nothing about it.
   I got to that last cigarette at around 7am, then laid down for awhile.
  At 8:45am I meandered downstairs fully prepared to rake up all of the leaves I had seen in the garden we have in the back of the building, a garden that me, and my arch rival, 75 year old Hardy, had begun approximately ten years ago (pictures).         
   When I walked out there my friend Cliff was sitting on one of the benches, finishing up his breakfast.
   The leaves had disappeared, or most of them at least.
   “Somebody raked them up already,” I told him.
   “Does that make you angry?” he asked.
   “No, but now I have nothing to do.”
   “Go home,” he said.
   “I can’t. The ladies are coming today.”
   Chris, Jeannie, and Gutrin, 3 mature ladies who are affiliated with some gardening organization, would come today to help out in the garden. They were expert gardeners, and they provided expertise, and often resources, such as seeds and plants, planters, and garden dirt.
   I found some leaves that were lying on the rocky section of the garden, and tried to rake them up without getting too many rocks. I talked to Cliff         
   “Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature this morning,” I told him.
   That was true. 75 year old (hey! Just like Hardy) Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature that morning.
   “Who?” Cliff asked.
   The ladies arrived and began fiddling with the plants. I raked and tried to busy myself. I hadn’t been feeling well lately, and had neglected watering the garden as much as I should have, so they spent a lot of their time cutting off dried sections of plants.
   I brought down Cassandra, the new case manager, and introduced her to the garden ladies. They talked and talked.
   At one point Chris and Jeannie we strolling along the fence that separates our garden and the wild, open space next door.
   “Oh! Look at that,” Jeannie said, pointing to the large plant that was based next door, but had it’s tentacles crawling up the side of our building.
   “It must be some kind of cactus...”
   “It’s a Mongolian Maneater,” I told them.
   “Yeah, right. But it’s the healthiest plant out here.”
   “Sure it is. It got Rupert last week.”
   “What?” they both exclaimed in unison.
   “Just don’t get too close,” I told them. “But here, did you see this?”
   “What?” they asked.
   I pointed upwards. “See up there?”
   “Right there. On the third floor fire escape.”
   “Yeah. What?”
   “If you look just right, squint a little to get the lighting, cause it’s kind of hard to see...”
   “Yeah,” Jeannie said.
   “You can just make out... my socks and underwear drying on the rail...”
   It was true. My socks and underwear, and a shirt, were up there drying in the sun.
   They laughed. People think I’m funny sometimes, but I’m just over compensating for a deep seated sense of insecurity.
   After they left at 9:45am, I walked over to the Hippie Kitchen for a minute, came back. I quickly went through my Email, then fixed myself a nutritious turkey frank (with extra potassium chloride!) At 10:55 I left the building and walked to Central, where I caught a rare 62, which took me downtown, where I entered the subterranean lair of the Red Line subway.
   I was kind of tired, having been awake all night and all, and passed in and out of consciousness during the long, boring ride to North Hollywood.
   When I used to frequent movie theaters, before I learned how to get movies on the Internet, I would take the Red Line to the Universal Studio station, which was the next to the last stop on the north end of the Red Line’s route. I would go on up to City Walk, and watch movies at the AMC 19. Today I took the train all the way to the end, to the North Hollywood station, where I’d never been before.
   I was frightened.
   I knew the Laemmle NoHo 7 theater was close by, but when I got up onto the street level, I was rather disorientated, and walked a couple of blocks in the wrong direction before I realized there were just too many used car dealerships around me, and so turned around and walked back.
   I grew up in North Hollywood. My father had owned a liquor store, Parkview Liquors, on Lankershim Bl, right across the street from Universal Studios.
   Me, my younger sister, mom and dad had lived in a small two bedroom apartment just down the street from the store, on Willowcrest St. My father died in that apartment.
   It’s no longer there. It’s now a parking lot.
   I used to go with my dad on delivery trips inside the studio to deliver booze to the stars (it must be great to be an actor, when you can drink on the job all day. It’s a wonder they get anything done!). I’ve delivered booze the sets of “Ironside,” “It Takes a Thief,” “The Virginian,” and “The Munsters.” Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis) was a good tipper.
   I once delivered booze to a set that was going to have cast party, and a guy by the name of Peter Duel tried to help me carry in one of the boxes.
   “I can do it,” I told him.
   “I know you can,” he said.
   That man would go on to play David Willis on a TV show called “Love on a Rooftop,” with “Laugh In”s Judy Carne, and most famously Hannibal Heyes, on “Alias Smith and Jones.”
   He had it made and seemed to me like a happy guy, but in the early morning hours of the last day of 1971, he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
   I passed the El Portel Theater, where I had first seen “Mary Poppins,” in 1964. They don’t show movies there anymore. It’s a playhouse now.
   I was surprised to find the Laemmle closed when I arrived near 12pm. There was a little sign on the door though that indicated they would open up at 12:45, 15 minutes before they began showing movies. This would be the first time I’d been to a movie theater in like... 7 years, and I was looking forward to the film, of course, but also the popcorn with lots of mechanical butter and salt, and a big cup of coke.
   Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were once on a taped segment of the Letterman Show, promoting their film “Righteous Kill.” They read that night’s Top Ten List, which consisted of the perks one receives when one is a big star.
   Al Pacino said this, “Number five... they give you extra mechanical butter when you get popcorn at the movies.”
   Something to look forward to Benita.
   I was here to see my Facebook friend’s film, “Dependent’s Day.” Her name is Benita Robledo, and she’s the female lead in the movie. There’s several pictures of her above. Isn’t she lovely (a feature that is widespread among females, but some more than others).
   We’ve encountered Benita twice before here on Joyce’s Take, here and here.        
   In case you've forgotten:
  Bio From Smartass Radio:
Benita Robledo (born June 28, 1984) is an American actress. Robledo was born in Harlingen, Texas and resided in Edinburg, TX until she was fifteen. She later moved to Orlando, Florida where she attended a performing arts high school, and later relocated to New York City to attend SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Actingwhere she holds a BFA in acting. Robledo’s father is an attorney, and her mother is an elementary school teacher. She speaks both English and Spanish fluently. Robledo is 5′ 3″ tall.
  She began ballet at the age of two, and has performed professionally with the Rio Grande Valley Ballet, and Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. She is skilled in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, baile folklorico, flamenco, tango, and lap. Robledo’s first television appearance was on Guiding Light in 2007, and her first major film appearance was in What Happens In Vegas in 2008. Since then, she has also appeared on television episodes of KingsMichael and Michael Have Issues, and had a recurring role of Amalia on Gossip Girl and TeenWolf. In film, Robledo has also had roles in Every Day and Going The Distance. Robledo is the voice of Rose Marigold in the video game, Alan Wake. She has also appeared in several television commercials for advertisers including Verizon Wireless, MTV, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, McDonalds, and most notably, Lowes and the United States Postal Service.
  Benita loves knitting, “I never leave home without my knitting, but I only knit while driving if I’m stuck in crazy traffic on the 405. A girl has to have some restraint!” She also loves reading and states “My taste in books is ridiculously eclectic. It ranges from David Foster Wallace to some very nerdy sci-fi/fantasy stuff!
    Although Benita remains dark and mysterious, she was generous enough to fill in a great deal of her bio on her birthday tribute, information that can be found no where else (maybe). All of us here at Joyce’s Take (me and my invisible cat Herkimer) are deeply grateful for this, but I have discovered some additional information that she did not include, possibly due to her modest nature.
   From the Fortune of Underreported yet Collaborated Knowables (FUCK), it appears Benita at one time “Climbed Mt Everest backwards [I don’t even know what that means!]. Can talk to whales. Has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting [well, we knew that]. Speaks Swahili in her sleep. Has a one-eyed cat that likes to play with her hair. Plays the xylophone and various forms of the lute. Won the 2014  Crochet Guild of America Design contest by crocheting a functional nuclear reactor. Was briefly detained by the FBI in 2014 for crocheting a functional nuclear reactor.”
   That about does it I guess.
   I found a lovely poster of the movie, then a seat near a bike rack where I could kick back until the theater opened. I had brought a book with me in case just this type of emergency popped up.    “Human Trafficking, Human Misery, the Global Trade in Human Beings,” by Alexis A. Aronowitz. I’m studying this subject hard as I’m considering a career change.
   At 12:50 I entered the now open theater (Max and Kurt Laemmle, the founders of the Los Angeles theater chain, were cousins of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle. Small world), and purchased a ticket.
   “Your website wouldn’t accept my credit card last night,” I told the pretty young blonde behind the cash register.
   She squenched up her little face and said this to me... “Really?”
   “Yup,” I told her. “It told me my Visa was not valid. The one you just used. You might want to look into it.”
   I walked away.
   She won’t do anything about it.
   I bought some nice popcorn with extra mechanical butter, and soda, the found me a seat in Theater 6.
   I was the first one in there, but the place soon filled up.
   There’s no better popcorn than theater popcorn in my opinion. Soda too. Canned soda makes me ill.
   Then the film began.
   “Dependent’s Day,” “was released on April 15th, 2016, here in the U.S.  It’s appearance at the Laemmle that day would be the very last time it would be on the big screen before it went to wherever movies go after they make their final appearance on the big screen.
   I felt privileged to have the opportunity to see it in this type of venue.
   It was produced by We Push Trains INC and DOA Films.
   The cast included these wonderful actor and actresses: Joe Burke, Benita Robledo, Shannon Lucio (“The O.C.” “Prison Break”), Erin Pineda (“Fingerbutt” “Sex Scientists” No, these arn’t porn flicks), Jules Willcox (“Styria” “10,000 Days”), David August “Dirty Filthy Pigs” “Man of the Cloth” I don’t know about this dude. On his resume he claims to be the lead in “Dependent’s Day,” which is hardly the truth. He was... competent though, in his teeny tiny little part), Eugene Byrd (“Dead Man” “8 Mile”), Brian George (“Horrible Bosses” “Ghost World”), Todd Bridges (“Diff'rent Strokes” “Hollywood Horror”), Charlie Hofheimer (“Black Hawk Down” “The Village”), Zachary Alexander Rice (“The Catch” “Woggie”), Lisa Ann Walter (“Bruce Almighty” “War of the Worlds”), Javier Ronceros (“Listening” “Coyote”), Bertila Damas (“Mr. Murder” “The Insomniac”), Jason Lew (“The Free World” “Restless”), and last but not least, Josh Staman (“Save Point” “Jogging Leads to Ice Cream”).
   There are literally lots of other people who may have wandered into the frame on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, where most of the film takes place, but they go uncredited.
   The synopses of “Dependent’s Day,” on it’s own website reads something almost exactly like this: “After realizing his girlfriend is the breadwinner of their relationship, Cam is on a mission to prove he can also be a breadwinner and he is THE MAN. But he will be struggling from job to job, where women are in charge. Can Cam prove he can provide and not be dependent?”
   We shall see.
   “Dependent’s Day,” was written and directed by 35 year old Michael D. Lynch, from a story by himself and Joshua Staman, who of course also acted in the film.     
   Michael, or “Big Mike,” as I like to call him, grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan (    42° 16′ 53″ N, 83° 44′ 54″ W), which is a good a place as any I suppose. When he was old enough he worked as a  film projectionist, which is a really cool job as you get to see a lot of movies for free (and hopefully popcorn with mechanical butter too).
   The lovely and talented actress Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Rand on the original “Star Trek,” series, was also from Ann Arbor. The Playboy Playmate twins, Kristina and Karissa Shannon as well.
   Yeoman Rand was the pretty blonde lady who always had Captain Kirk signing stuff.
   When Michael got tired of Ann Arbor he moved to Illinois to attend the Columbia College of Chicago film school, where he learned all about producing and directing films. When he got tired of that he moved here with his wife/girlfriend Kristine Lynch, to L.A. where I live, to pursue a career in  filmmaking.
   He got a lot of work and experience working with various other people, who were also involved in making movies.
    In 2008 Big Mike's movie work took him into political activism as producer/cinematographer of seven Barack Obama shorts of the "Barack: Yes We Can" film series, which have been screened nationwide to enormous acclaim and, have been made available through iTunes.
   Michael and I have that in common. Barack Obama. He helped make the film shorts, and I own an Obama T-shirt.
   Or at least I used to. I haven’t seen it for a while.
   He was also the producer/cinematographer that year for "Help Wanted," which won the  Best Narrative award at the Elevate Film Festival.
   “I feel privileged to see so many of the movies I work on end up on the big screen. Like every child of the 1980’s, films like Star Wars and Superman set my imagination on fire; as an adult to have the opportunity to create exciting worlds for future generations to enjoy is a dream come true.”
   “Burden," which Michael wrote, produced, and directed, had it's world premiere July 25th, 2009 in front of two sold out crowds which was the first time a film sold out two shows in the AOF festival history. 
   “Burden” has won 4 awards in 3 countries:
BEST VFX SHORT at the Action On Film International Film Festival 2009.
BEST FILM USA (Under 10 Minutes) at The International Film Festival of Ireland
STAFF PICK AWARD at the Dragon*Con Film Festival in September of 2009.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS FILM at the Fantastic Planet Sydney Sci Fi and Fantasy
   The short stars Grant Weiss and a little brunette girl, and can be seen right here.
   “I have always enjoyed movies that provoke the imagination. I adored going to the cinema as a child and submerging myself in an experience that was adventurous, exciting and fresh. With Burden, I wanted to recreate those escapist fantasizes of my youth for future generations. To create a living, breathing, world that wasn't restricted by my limitations as young filmmaker and accomplish what my peers were telling me was impossible.
   My initial inspiration for Burden came when I first arrived in Chicago and I saw the Financial District's Board of Trade building. I was awestruck by its beauty and prominence, but it would take years until Burden would become a reality. Creating a film is like giving birth, but often the filmmaking process takes far longer than nine months. By the end of production we had utilized nearly 500 extras, 80 visual effect shots, a live orchestral recording of the score and with the dedicated cooperation of the Chicago Film Office, shut down four downtown blocks [unheard of for a short film].
   Burden was a project where I was able to fulfill my dream of creating a comic book universe of my own. It took years longer to complete than I had ever anticipated when I went into development. I am thrilled at what my dedicated crew and I have accomplished, and am humbled by legendary voice actor Peter Cullen's contribution to this work. Burden is a film meant to inspire, excite and transport, and if I bring a smile to just one person in the audience, I will have accomplished all my goals.”
   Mike has recently produced a short entitled "Swerve" starring Shiloh Fernandez (“Evil Dead 2013“ “Red Riding Hood”), Juno Temple (“Black Mass” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill    For”), and Noah Segan (“Looper” “War Pigs”).
   "Swerve" was in the first block to sell out at the Palm Springs Int'l Shortfest 2010.
   Big Mike is currently in development for a feature adaptation "Burden," and producing Brendan G. Murphy's first feature film "Fallen From Grace" with Shiloh Fernandez attached to be the lead.
   How exciting!
   Boy, if “Burden,” comes out as a feature, with Michael directing... big bucks for him man. He won’t be making shorts anymore.
   The wonderful actor, Joe Burke, 32 years old, plays the male lead in “Dependent’s Day,” and he does a exemplary job. It is Joe’s character, Cam Shuer, who really is the driving force of the film, and the entity that moves the story along throughout it’s entirety, seemingly without  effort, presenting an amazing comedic performance, which also at times is poignant and sympathetic. I mean this guy is really good, and Joe and Benita work so well together one can almost believe a girl like Alice Rivera (Benita’s character) could really fall for a short dumpy, and broke guy like Cam.
   This gives me hope that when Stephanie Powers finally gets over the loss of William Holden,  she and I will get together.
   Hey! It could happen!
   Stop laughing!
   Joe was born at a very early age in Toledo, Ohio, as was another of my favorite actresses, the lovely and talented Teresa Ganzel (I wonder if she’s single. I’m so lonely).       
   Toledo is called "The Glass City" sometimes. Apparently there’s a big glass industry there.
   After high school Joe moved to Chicago, where my dad was born, and where he studied filmmaking and theater at Columbia College Chicago, the same school Michael attended.
   In 2007, he moved to Los Angeles, again, where I live, and where he continued his filmmaking studies, earning his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Directing from the world-renowned (famous) American Film Institute in 2009.
   Some of Joe’s credits include “Four Dogs,” “House Sitting,” and “Interns of F.I.E.L.D.” in which he first worked with Benita. 
   “Dependent’s Day,” itself is wonderful. One of the best times I’ve had in a movie theater in years. You’ve got a great and a little unusual story that works. A tremendous cast. High production values (cinematography, sound, editing, art design, costumes (Benita’s Alice is a clothes designer), catering, etc). It’s even got music! And if “Burden,” is any indication, I’m willing to bet that Michael shelled out a pretty penny for some original orchestration.
   And “Dependent’s Day,” takes a look at some serious issues that other films just gloss over. Such as the popularity of bizarre, unnatural sex positions. The annoyance of farmer’s market’s (they are always closing streets in order to set up  freaking farmer’s markets here downtown, wrecking havoc with bus routes. Put them in Pershing Square!), What women talk about when they get together (Sex, sex, sex! They're worse than Trump!). The saga of male babysitters. How to use legal tender. The art of red winging. Sexual harassment at the workplace. The plight of the unemployed. The trials and tribulations of busboys. Our archaic tax code. Marital sexual relations. Power struggles within relationships. How to reject friendly advice, to name just a few.
   We actually get to see Benita knit!
   We get to see the tops of a lot of tall buildings in Los Angeles.
   Let’s face it, Michael has a building fetish. And that’s perfectly alright. To each they’re own. Some people get off on big butts, or the WWE, or miniature golf. Big Mike likes large phallic structures.
   I for one have always wondered what was on the top of the Library Tower, what some call the U.S. Bank Building now, and it’s a big... well, you’ll have to see the movie to find out. 
   I left the theater filled with joy and new found hope for this complicated and at times very cruel world we find ourselves in.
   I was so happy that I skipped back to the Metro Station.
   When I got home I retrieved my socks and underwear, then checked my Email. Benita had sent me another picture of herself  on Facebook as is her custom.
   I don’t mind.
   But I used this opportunity to send her a message:
   “Just saw Dependent's Day in NHo. Fantastic job miss Benita! So much so that I intend to write a piece on it. It's also extremely educational. I always thought a red wing was some form of shoe...”
   You never know how folks are going to respond to entries on Facebook. I’ve sent out what I had considered a joke, but was taken as an insult, so I had to explain myself, which always sucks.    Anyway, later I received this:
Like · Reply · October 13 at 4:17pm
Benita Robledo
Benita Robledo “Thanks so much for supporting Richard! Can't wait to read it!”
   At 6pm Hardy and I watched “The Rachel Maddow Show,” together in my room.
   We’re both staunch liberals.
   I don’t think it’s a exaggeration to say that my life has only improved after watching “Dependent’s Day.” I feel complete now. That vague feeling of emptiness that had plagued me for so long is no longer there. I feel that if I were to die tomorrow, it would be okay, I wouldn’t mind at all, because I had seen that film.
   As a matter of fact I no longer suffer from ambition. I have no more goals. There is nothing more that I need to do.
   So, accordingly I will be moving to Nepal next week, to Lumbini in the south specifically, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama (a lot of people think Buddha was born in India. They would be wrong).
   I shall live in a monastery and eat bowls of rice. I shall meditate 19 hours a day, until I find the way to liberate all sentient beings.
   I will be at one with the universe.   
   But that’s next week. Tonight I will leave you with these treat clips starring Benita Robledo.
   The first is a “A drug-fueled action comedy.”
   Now I do not condone the use of drugs... especially heroin and crystal methamphetamine, unless used responsibly of course.  
   Here’s the wonderful clip.
   And this one’s a dance video, starring Benita and Heather Higginbotham.

Clark rocks!

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