Tag Archives: trumpy

Update on Texas Rob

I thought I would take a moment to update tdaxp on my current status. I wish I posted more often, but such is the life of a busy filmmaker. For those of you that aren’t up to speed, I’m at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches TX. I recently graduated and have been shooting the summer feature, “Within Us”, for the last couple weeks. The script I wrote with Derek went through about 10 months of work, all for 26 days of shooting. The post-production phase will last about 4 months. Simply put, the film is about the horrors of mental illness and its effects on family. It’s also about flaws in the human condition; you may hate your father, but you really love your father.

The film is being shot on DVCAM, with a 3 CCD camera. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done at a fraction of the price it would be to shoot on actual film. The finished product will be on DVD all around east Texas, and we’ll be getting it into as many festivals as possible. Aside from being a co-writer, I’m also the Director of Photography, or DP. So I control the camera and lighting with regard to how the director wants the film to look. Derek is my co-writer, and also serves as Director and star. Brad Maule (General Hospital, 7th Heaven) has a supporting role in the film and says our set is one of the most professional he has ever been on… and he has been on a lot of sets. The footage is coming out great and we’re getting some impressive performances. This is the most ambitious undertaking SFA Film has ever tried. Derek and I are trying to change things here, and we’re having fun doing it. So all of this hard work ends up with me neglecting friends and family. 10 to 12 hour shoots, 6 days a week, doesn’t leave much time for anything unrelated to the film. I’m doing what I love to do, and hopefully I’ll be getting paid to do it eventually.

Books Biz Borrowed: The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but to be honest, Dan’s homework is a tough act to follow. I am okay with following yet another amazingly cognizent rant by Aaron though.

My path to this book involved a review for “” that said, “Diablo Cody is to stripping what Sarah Vowell is to American History. As a lover of both strippers and the history of America I was intrigued. I rushed to the library with my eyes filled with visions of well-filled American flag bikinis. In fairness to Diablo Cody, she put in more work for her book than Sarah Vowell probably ever has.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot is a collection of essays that tie in current events with political history and travel. writes like a that focuses less on quirky one-liners and more on making larger connections full of irony. Calling Lincoln our “American Jesus” and contrasting Ted Nugent with Rosa Parks, Vowell remains intelligent yet accessible, and communicates her points very eloquently.
I do find a flaw in this book that brings it down an inch or two in my own opinion. Sarah Vowell is billed as an American History writer, and the library has this book wedged between books chock full of Pearl Harbor and Appomattox. However, only about half give history more than a passing glance.

The saving grace for this book and the main reason I recommend it is in the titular essay. Written in December of 2001, Vowell makes a powerful statement on being American.

“And while I could shake my fists for sure at the terrorists on page one, buried domestic items could still make my stomach hurt–school prayer partisans taking advantage of the guilt of children to circumvent the seperation of church and state; the White House press secretary condemning a late-night talk show host for making a questionable remark about the U.S. military: “The reminder is to all Americans, that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and now is not a time for remarks like that.” Those are the sort of never-ending qualms that have turned me into the partly cloudy patriot I long not to be.”

The Books Biz Borrowed: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by

His name is Christopher John Francis Boone. He knows all the countries of the world and all of their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. And he is the most unlikely hero of any novel I’ve read as long as I can remember.

The Curious Incident is the narrative story of a 15 year old autistic boy that finds his neighbors poodle stabbed through the middle with a garden fork. He sets out to find the dog murderer and has to come to terms with his relationship with his parents.

I have been reading quite a bit about autism lately and Haddons novel seems as true to form as anything I’ve read from the autistic community. The first-person perspective puts you into the brain of this boy and helps to understand how autitistic people think of the world around them, how they interpret their surroundings and go about their daily lives.

For example…

“I said that I wasn’t clever. I was just noticing things how things were, and that wasn’t clever. That was just being observant. Being clever was when you looked at how things were and used the evidence to work out something new. Like the universe expanding, or who committed a murder. Or if you see someones name and you give each letter a value from 1 to 26 (a=1, b=2, etc) and you add the numbers up in your head and you find it makes a prime number, like Jesus Christ(151), OR Scooby-Doo(113) or Sherlock Holmes(163) or Doctor Watson(167).”

The book is filled with mathematical strangeness and examples of how life can be organized like a math problem. Each chapter is a prime number (89, 97, and 101 are consecutive).

I’ve been reading less and less fiction lately, but this is a book that I intend to read again. It is intelligent, moving, and memorable. If you read this book, you will never be able to forget it.

posted by Biz

Rob Reviews ‘Hostel’

Rob here, to provide my first review for tdaxp. I regret the film I must review, but it’s the latest thing I’ve seen theatrically since ‘King Kong’. The film in question today (Friday the 13th, I might add) is ‘Hostel’ from Eli Roth, of ‘Cabin Fever’ fame. Quentin Tarantino put some money up for the film, but it’s Eli Roth’s piece. Disclaimer: I did not see ‘Cabin Fever’ and I have a general distaste for horror films in general. ‘Signs’ is probably my favorite horror/thriller style film. For me, it’s believable and sophisticated. Oh, and many people can’t figure out why ‘Hostel’ is spelled wrong. The audience that’s attracted to this film probably doesn’t know what a hostel is, so it’s an odd choice for the film’s title. Even though it’s a nice play on words.

I didn’t know anything about this film going into it other than it was supposed to be gory. One of my friends convinced me to go and actually paid my way, so I didn’t mind seeing it. The budget for this film was around $5 million, which is dirt-cheap. Opening weekend pulled just under $20 million. The biggest problem I have with films like this is that people actually want to see them. What about this film draws an audience? Why do people want to see it? A strong ‘R’ rating goes a long way today. The promise of over-the-top gore is becoming the strategy for a successful horror film. And this film has wall-to-wall tits and blood. I’m 24, with a beard, and got carded. That’s good to see because I don’t want anybody seeing this film, let alone underage kids. An example of the violence: a man takes a blow torch to a woman’s face, melting away the face so an eye dangles by it’s nerves. Our ‘hero’ clips the eye from the socket to help the woman escape. Puss ensues. So it goes.

I’m generally a pretty technical guy when it comes to reviewing films. I am able to pay attention to everything a normal person watches, but also the camerawork, lighting, and editing. All of that stuff was par for course in this film, it’s not interesting enough to mention when I have so many other things to say about it. Moving along.

The story is slow in building. I’m more than happy to give a few minor spoilers because I don’t want you to see this film. It follows a few college kids on a drug and sex induced trip across Europe. They stumble across a secret group of rich people that pays big bucks to torture/kill people. Different races cost different amounts to kill. Obviously Americans being the most expensive since, as we all know, everyone hates Americans (?). I am quite sure this film wasn’t written with a message in mind, but I took several disturbing things from it. They are as follows.

The characters are immediately shown getting high and looking for as much random sex as possible, even if they have to pay for it. There is mention of being able to ‘do whatever you want to these women.’ The red light district they enter is a tamer version of what they’ll be seeing later. They are paying for exploitation, just at a different level. The juxtaposition is interesting. Much of the film contains gratuitous nudity, which is disturbing. There are way too many ties between sexuality and brutal violence in this film, even though the two are never fully united. As for the characters, we immediately like them just because they are funny and fairly innocent, but they partake in ‘sin’ so later we are a little okay with them being tortured or killed. Had the writer made these people saints from the get-go, audiences wouldn’t tolerate them being punished.

The audience doesn’t want to see these characters tortured, but when the tables are turned on the villains, the audience loses innocence. We end up cheering on the hero as he chops fingers off. We have become the rich people paying to torture and kill. Is it okay because the people being killed are ‘bad?’ One of the villains punished even has some latent homosexuality. I won’t even go into how this seems to have been put in to make him seem more ‘evil.’ The ‘sexual deviants’ are the ones who need bloodshed to get off and so on. That would be an entirely different review. The movie ends up being about itself. Audiences are paying to see this movie for the same reasons these people are paying to maim. The men paying to torture/kill in the film are doing the same thing. And yes, it’s all men getting off at the prospect of this activity. Perhaps this film is more socially conscious than I give it credit for. Sadly, the people that really wanted to see this film probably aren’t going to come out feeling like they are bad people. And that’s the whole point of the film for me.

The Books Biz Borrowed: Top 10 of 2005

I’m Biz and I’ll be submitting book reviews on a fairly regular basis on tdaxp. These won’t all be new books, just books that I happen to read and enjoy. I’m making this first post on tdaxp my year in review for the best books I read in 2005.

10. Amber & Ashes – Margaret Weis
This book isn’t what I normally read, but I couldn’t help but like it. I loved the Dragonlance series when I was younger and this book made me want to get back into the series again. It helps that it was written by Margaret Weis, one of the three Dragonlance authors that doesn’t just write random weird crap.

9. The Best Recipes in the World – Mark Bittman
This was the best cookbook that I read all year. As the title states, these are the best recipes from all over the world in a form that makes them accessible. It mainly focuses on Italian and Asian cuisines, with a bit of French thrown in for good measure. Lots of helpful sections on varients of cooking methods that are aided by a world perspective.

8. The Agony and the Ecstasy – Irving Stone
I read this at the beginning of the year and although it was a bit of a struggle, I’m very happy that I got through it. The movie starring Charlton Heston and Rex Morgan didn’t do this book any justice. This is a biographical novel of the artist Michelangelo, fictionalized but still exhaustively researched. The rich world of the 15th century portrayed by the author also helped me understand the Medici family that I had seen referenced in other texts. I really enjoyed this book.

7. Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home – Rupert Sheldrake
A camera crew recorded a dog that had a proclivity for waiting for his owner going about his daily business of scratching and sleeping and at the same time they had a seperate camera crew following his owner. At a random time it was communicated to the owner by a third party that it was time to go home. At the exact moment she was told this, the dog perked up his ears and went to wait for her in his usual place at the window. No one in the home with the dog had any way of knowing when the owner was coming home. This story is only the beginning of a great book about the animals we share our lives with.

6. Made in America – Bill Bryson
An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
I read a lot of Brysons work this summer and this was the best. As a lover of books, I’m also a lover of language and this gives a history of the English language as it evolved in the United States. This side of the Atlantic has contributed more than “asshat” and “light skinded” to the way we speak.

5. Global Brain – Howard Bloom
The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
Blooms followup to The Lucifer Principle is just as insightful. Howard Bloom has to be the hardest working writer in the science field. All of his books are researched like crazy. The bibliography of this book was about 40 pages long and filled with journals and books in several different languages. The thesis in this book is that the idea of a global culture isn’t new, but something that has been in the works since the dawn of time. Excellent stuff.

4. 1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus – Charles C. Mann
In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety One the Indians had lots of fun, In Hundred and Ninety Two Columbus gave them smallpox flu. This unexpected history of the Americas before Columbus uses archaeological, biological, and linguistics evidence to support theories that have never been previously collected. I love this type of book.

3. A Feast For Crows – George RR Martin
I love epic fantasy books. If it weren’t for this series I would be saying that I used to love them. The epic fantasy genre is big business. All you have to do is hook people on the first book and you’ve hooked them for life. Jordan, Goodkind, and Martin are the giants of this genre and only with Martin do I enjoy the series more and more with every book. This book is actually half of what was intended to be the 4th volume. The final draft of Crows was 1800 pages in length, so it was issued as two volumes, with the second to be released in 2006. I can’t wait.

2. Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
In keeping this short, this book is everything tdaxp says it is. It is the smartest book that I’ve read in a very long time.

1. Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
This book was first published in 1915 and I think it is the “On the Road” of its time. It’s simply about a man coming of age in the late 1800s and realizing that he doesn’t have to grow up to be a rich asshole like all of the other ‘gentlemen’ of his time. The protaganist is very easy to identify with, and I liked him immediately, despite his faults, of which there are many. This writer also wrote “The Razors Edge” which was made into the best Bill Murray movie ever. Maybe it’s the fact that I live with a bohemian hippie chick, but I love this stuff.

Biz and Rob of Trumpy Productions join tdaxp

I am proud to announce that Biz and Rob will join the tdaxp fold.

Biz and Rob are co-founders of Trumpy Productions, which has specialized in digital film shorts and the occasional web side-project. Biz will specialize in the bookosphere, and is an intelligent and articulate bibliophile specializing in popular historical and scientific works. Rob is finishing up a prestigious film degree and is able to combine technical judgements with what makes a movie “fun.”

Welcome aboard!