Mostly Dinosaurs, With the Occasional Vampire

I got a call from the Company.  They would not be needing my services tonight or tomorrow night.  Something about computer problems.  This means I will have a much smaller paycheck than I was anticipating.  But, on the bright-side, I didn't have to go to work.

In fact, I was able to attend a free screening tonight at SAC.  Gustavo Stebner previewed his newest short film, Ovat Beer.  With the collaboration of locals such as Robb Garcia and Dora Pena, I knew it'd be an event of note.

The story-line is fairly straight-forward.  A man is going out to dinner with his girlfriend to finally meet her parents.  He orders an Ovat Beer.

His girl's father asks, “Ovat?  What's that?”

And the guy launches into the mythic history of this European beer.  With voice-over narration, we cut to a flashback of Baron von Ovat (or something like that) played by the dashing and heroic Wesley Blake Conklin.  This is his adventurous life before he became a brew-master extraordinaire.  We watch as he rescues the princess from the villain, as played by screenwriter TJ Gonzales.    There are several goofy vignettes.  The whole thing is quite clever, very funny, and well put together.

You can see it for yourself.  I believe tomorrow it goes online.  Try looking for it on Gustavo's website.

The turnout could have been better.  But there were still a lot of familiar faces.  TJ and Lisa.  Dora and Manuel.  Robb.  Jennifer Ortega, who I hadn't seen in ages.  Nikki was there with her friend Lee.  When she asked if we'd met, I quickly said yes.  But it occurred to me later that I don't believe we had.  Because I have seen Lee's photo on MySpace and because I have read several of his blog entries, I had made that weird sort of blunder — not so uncommon in this era — where you “know” people virtually, yet not empirically.

Actually, I get a charge out of watching people, like Nikki, who are much more free-spirited than myself, as they step right up to someone they'd never properly met before and say: “Hi!  You're my MySpace friend!”

And why not?

Lisa is working on her dissertation or thesis or whatever.  I'm not sure what her discipline is.  Communications?  Film?  Sociology?  Cultural Studies?  Anyway, she's studying the NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) organization, with emphasis on the San Antonio chapter.  She and her husband, TJ, are members.  Lisa organized last year's NALIP-sponsored Adelante Film Forum, and she will run this year's forum as well.  She was in the audience tonight holding aloft a tape recorder, like Jimmy Olsen hot on a scoop.  After the film screened, she got some brilliant and incisive commentary from me and Nikki.  And later I gave her a short interview.  She wanted feedback on those who attended the Adalante Forum last year.

My problem is that I'm profligate with my candor, and, worse, I so rarely listen to myself that I don't always know what I've said.  So, I probably ranted for some time about the local film industry folks who have their heads further up their own backsides than the lunch I had at Taco Haven was up mine.  (The above sentence clearly establishes my weak grasp of even the basics of grammar.)

Speaking of Taco Haven, I'd like to thank Carlos for buying me lunch there.  Rockie was sitting across from me, playing the guessing game.  “What's big and green and eats leafs?” she'd ask.  I looked around me, thinking she was talking about something in the restaurant.  There was a mural with a jungle scene.  “A parrot?”  She just laughed.  No.  A stegosaurus.  It's still mostly dinosaurs with her.  And the occasional vampire.  I mean, she is Carlos' daughter.

I helped Carlos load up two more of his films onto his MySpace site.  “El Pollo Fuerte” (written by me).  And “El Diablo, the Devil” (mostly shot in my house, and with maybe 30 percent camera work by me).

As I transfered the DVDs to mDV tape (so I could get them on to my computer, compress them, and upload them to the internet (what an ordeal — digital revolution, my ass!)), I was struck by a few things.  Laviana Hampton is a very solid performer.  Hector Machado cracks me up with his portrayal of flawed nobility as Uncle Chapo.  Anne Gerber is a genius.  And Carlos is a really fascinating actor, especially in the films he directs.

If you've never seen Carlos' stuff, or haven't seen it lately, check it out.  This is raw, punk rock filmmaking.


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