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Squared Sevens Blogging Corp.
Thursday, 27 October 2005
Baseball News
Congratulations are in order for Bobby Valentine (formerly of the NY Mets and Texas Rangers), who led the perennial cellal dwelling Chiba Lotte Marines to the Japan Series title. His turnaround of the organization from chumps to champs in a few short years is nothing short of impressive, too bad it will hardly get any press in the US. Meanwhile, runners-up Hanshin Tigers continue their reign as the lovable losers of Japanese baseball, coming up short once again.

For Valentine, it's the first time that a gaijin manager has won the league title, which is pretty exciting. Also, Ozzie Guillen and his Chicago White Sox won the World Series today. I guess all that I can say is- Hooray for obnoxious baseball managers everywhere!

UPDATE: Valentine calls out White Sox and MLB! Story here. I say more power to ya Bobby.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:58 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005 11:50 PM EDT
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Sunday, 23 October 2005
Extra Edition
Sorry about taking so long to post this. But it's been long hours down at the shoe store and this is the first free time where I felt like doing anything. Anyway, here's what I learned about movies: Standing around all day waiting for other people is in fact, hard work. Even after one 9 hour shooting day in the sun, I was completely wasted and spent the next two days as a Zombie. How people do this everyday is beyond me. Now for the positives. Life as an extra isn't all hanging around with famous movie stars, but it still has its perks. I did get copious amounts of free food, I did get to use actual Hollywood movie props, I experienced an actual movie production, checked out an awesome Porsche Cayenne camera rig, spent plenty of time outdoors and made $50. So not too bad.

I woke up way early at 5:15 and made my way over to the speedway at about 6:30. Then I had to fill out payment vouchers, grab a bite to eat then head over to wardrobe. One great thing about movies is that even extras have to change clothes for every different scene. And by change clothes, I mean in a hot, musty, smelly tent that you have to share with other guys. Definitely no trailers for us common folk. I did get to wear a neat photographer's vest at least. Then it was over to the props tent to pick up a camera and bag. It was nothing fancy at all, but I still had to drop off my driver's license with the propmaster anyway. Then time for the first scene.

For the first scene, we shot a flashback victory scene where Will Ferrell met his future wife. This was the first time I had seen an actual movie set, a mock-up of victory lane at Bristol circa 1996, and let's just say that it had an extremely temporary look to it. Here I learned how slow the movie process can be when they had to delay shooting 15 mins. just to switch out the correct "flashback" car. While we were waiting for that I happened to look over to my left and saw Will Farrell chatting with the director. That was cool. Anyways, for this celebration scene I stood behind the car and pantomimed taking photos. Remember, no noises on the set- I couldn't actually press the shutter button as that would make noise. Several times me and my fellow photographers got blasted with stray confetti, which was a lot of fun. Next, the director got some different dialogue from Will's skanky on-screen girlfriend, including a family friendly airline version. My group of extras wasn't needed for this scene, so I just found some shade and relaxed.

Next up was the "victory lane" at Talladega, which consisted of two walls, a car, and the actors. This time I saw how stand-ins are used to help set up the shot, etc. Getting everything just right is a painstaking process, and I understand why it takes so long just to shoot 30 seconds of a scene. Again I was a photographer and lucky me I was standing about three feet from the two leads, so I could catch all the dialogue. This isn't Oscar stuff but there were definitely a few improvised lines that made me want to chuckle. In the scene Ferrell and Reilly give each other new nicknames, and I have a couple that I'd like to see make it to the movie. If they don't, well it will be my own personal DVD "behind the scenes" moment.

The final shot for the day was probably the most involved and complicated in the day and showed how tricky it was to create a movie version of reality. Basically hundreds of extras had to act like they were going through the ticket gate on their way to a race. Mix with security guards, a couple of camera moves, and Gary Cole (yes, Lumberg) running through the crowd and you've got a shot that took a surprisingly long time to put together. There was just a lot of different things to coordinate for one scene that most viewers won't even think twice about. But by this time everyone was getting tired and sunburnt after being in the sun for eight hours so this was definitely a tough one to do. Eventually after shooting around 10 times the director got what he wanted and wrapped the shoot for the day.

I was really interested to see how people handled the movie. Most of the employees were in fact really polite. I figured they would be total jerks, because that seems to be the Hollywood rep, but at least around us the workers seemed to be cool. Overall I would describe the atmostphere as business like but also quite laid back. Smokers would love working on a movie set because, well, you can smoke any time anywhere apparently. Hollywood also appears to attract quite a share of cute girls as well to work on movies, on-camera as well as off. I guess that's a big surprise there. As for the extras, there seemed to be some "weekend warriors" like me doing this on their day off, but for some of the others let's just say their employment opportunities were probably more limited. One guy I talked to was the night producer of a local TV station. I have no idea how, but he managed work all day on only two hours of sleep. I'll bet he slept soundly.

As for the actors, it was interesting to see that "crazy comedian" Will Farrell was in fact really low-key and laid back, while "serious actor" John C. Reilly was the wild guy. Unfortunately, Sasha Baron Cohen (Ali G) wasn't on the set that day. That would have been awesome to see. The person who gets the best job is undoubtely the Director. He really doesn't have to do a hell of a lot of anything at all- the Assistant Director (and others) handles all the minutae and grunt work. But guess who will get all the credit if the movie does well.

Well, that's all of it for now. If you managed to read everything this far, congratulations. I'm sure I'll think of some more stuff to post up soon. The movie, called "High, Wide, and Handsome" will come out sometime next summer. The wait begins...

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:03 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 October 2005
Press Photographer #3
Well, this sure is exciting. Looks like I might be in that Will Ferrell NASCAR comedy after all. Regular readers may know that I went to an open casting call for the movie a couple of months back, but after finding a full-time job, I couldn't get the time to participate. But I got another call on Monday, saying that they needed more extras. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my only day off this week, so I called casting and told them that's the only day I could work. To my surprise they said that's fine, come on down to Lowe's Motor Speedway bright and early at 6:30 AM on Wednesday.

Based on the phone conversation, it looks like I will play a press photographer during a scene in Victory Lane. It doesn't take a genius to figure out it will probably be a climatic victory scene for underdog driver Ricky Bobby (played by Ferrell). Basically I was told to wear dress casual, khakis, and bring a couple of different shirts for wardrobe to pick from. I'll also get to use a prop camera, isn't that exciting. Now, it's definitely not a speaking part, and I bet I'll hardly be on camera (if at all), but it still should be interesting. Based on the location and scene, it's almost certain that the "Big Man" Will Ferrell will in fact be there tomorrow. Also since it appears to be a victory scene there's little chance of it being cut.

Overall I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. For a more average Joe like myself this has to rank as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As someone who enjoys movies a lot, it will definitely be interesting to see how the movie making process works first hand. From what everyone says, the actual business of making movies is extremely boring, but even if things get bogged down, well it's only one day of my life. At least it will be a good story to tell everyone about. So be sure to stay tuned for further updates.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:02 AM EDT
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Friday, 14 October 2005
What is it with Baseball?
It was bizarre, but not really surprising. It only seemed like a matter of time until something weird happened in another baseball playoff game. You've probably seen it already, but as In ALCS Game 2, Umpire Doug Eddings essentailly gave the home White Sox four outs in the bottom of the ninth by not communicating that he believed the ball hit the dirt on the thrid strike. And wouldn't you know it, that fourth out, former Charlotte Knight Joe Crede, hits a game winning RBI Double. Only in baseball.

Why does weird stuff always seem to happen in baseball? Think about it. Even in the past few years, we've had Steve Bartman, ARod punching the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove, that kid in Baltimore who snagged a HR for the Yanks, Whos Your Daddy chants, Byun Hyung Kim blowing two games almost identically in 2001, and so many more I can't think of. Even outside the playoffs, things have been strange, starting with the steroid controversy (especially Mr. Palmeiro), the tied All-Star game, Pete Rose, Ted Williams' corpse (RIP), anything with Barry Bonds, and of course curses galore. All this strangeness does do one important thing however- contribute to baseball's rich history, which still blows away that of any other pro sport in America.

And for Mr. Eddings? He gets to be the third base umpire for Game 3 in Los Angeles/Anaheim. That ought to be a lot of fun.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 1:14 AM EDT
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Monday, 10 October 2005
Ebay News
Right now I'm selling this sweet NES set for my neighbor on Ebay. Why he would want to sell this just to make a quick buck is beyond me, but someone out there will be winning a very nice auction soon.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:38 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 5 October 2005
Did you really choose to read this article?
I said "whoa" like Keanu in the Matrix after reading this blog post. Basically, it concerns the fact that the free will of humans, is in fact, an illusion created by our brains- or at least that's what I got out of it. There's also some crazy sci-fi stuff about humans merging with intelligent robots in the future that's really far out there. I don't know how much of this to take for real, but it sure got me thinking.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 9:06 AM EDT
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Sunday, 25 September 2005
Salesmanship 101
Work, work, and more work. Selling shoes isn't rocket science, it's pretty easy, but still it's tougher than you think. I'm really getting a crash course in salesmanship 101 here. I think most men would be surprised how psychological the process of shoe buying actually is. Emotions, self-image, getting a "bargain", peer dynamics, etc. all play a large role in what shoes people decide to buy. You've got to know how to work those factors if you want to be a good salesman.

Another thing about being a salesman is the importance of hitting targets, ex. selling so many pairs of socks, etc. You're measured in your effectivesness by every conceivable rate and statistic you can think of. If you don't meet your goals, that's money out of your pocket and you can certainly expect to get chewed out by the manager. So, you've just got to deliver the goods as they say.

Oh, one more thing- I could have been a movie star. The casting folks from the Will Ferrell movie finally called, over a month and a half after the casting call. Of course, during that time a found a full time job, so when my Dad answered the phone he "decided" for me that I wasn't available to participate. Thanks Dad, I could have been rich and famous and hanging out with Ron Burgundy and Ali G.Ah well, that means I can't sit around on a set all day reading a book while the gaffer, best boy, and key grip do whatever they do. You can click here to find out more info on the movie, now called "Hide, Wide, and Handsome". Interesting.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:59 PM EDT
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Sunday, 18 September 2005
Workin' Man
What have I been up to lately? Basically, working a lot. In the past five days, I've worked about 50 hours, including 12 hour days on Tuesday and Wednesday getting the store set up. Welcome to the real world Mike! I'm starting to see how the retail business can be a real meat grinder. But I am picking up most of the basics, and business has been good, etc., so there's really nothing to complain about. I do have to say that I'm glad I get an employee discount. I've got my eye on about five pairs of shoes right now, which I'm planning on getting... soon.

As for the mall itself, it's nice, if not utterly generic. There's nothing that really makes it stand out in my mind, and practically all the stores are also located somewhere else in Charlotte. You could really call it "Southpark North", as it has many of the same higher end retailers. But as they say, it's all about "location, location, location". With all the growth in North Charlotte, there's a really large market of quite wealthy people that was just waiting to be exploited. It's a no-brainer, really. I mean, they pay people to figure out this stuff?

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 10:39 AM EDT
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Monday, 12 September 2005
Panthers Season Opener
Panthers season opener

What can you say about today's game? The sports media sure had their opinion ready. The whole nation cheers as the underdog Saints pull out a victory over the "men in black" Panthers. All I knew was, as soon as Fox's pregame show was devoted almost entirely to the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, that there was no way the New Orleans Saints were gonna lose this game. There was far too much "inspirational" stuff going on for the Panthers to even have a shot. I should say that I want the best for the Gulf Coast, and I've donated time and money to do my part. But football is an unsentimental game. After the coin toss, it's only you and your opponent.

Still overall, I was generally feeling postive about the game today, Jake was (mostly) grooving it, Steve Smith was in top gear all day and Stephen Davis' production was certainly a pleasant surprise. Jenkins being injured is certainly a huge blow, and the defense never really dominated. As for the Saints, they got some breaks, but they did play well, and I will give them that. But like my dad said, "The Fix is in"- one way or another, whether by fate or by design, the Saints were going to win that game.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:14 AM EDT
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Thursday, 1 September 2005
Good News... and Bad News
The good news is, after months of a somewhat futile job search, I finally found a job. It's with Clark's of England in the new Northlake Mall at Harris and I-77. You probably know Clark's best from their Wallabee and Desert Boot shoes. Anyways, it's good to finally have a full time job and some real responsibility. Getting a completely new store set up will be a challenge to say the least, but I'm looking forward to it. Y'all should stop by sometime, maybe I can sell you a pair of shoes.

What else is going on? My Aunt, Cousin, and Grandma stayed at the house this past weekend. It was a pretty good time, even if all we did basically was eat and ride jet skis. Still, that's a good situation when you can live on the lake and do stuff like that. Of course, with gas prices the way they are around here, the lake might become a really quiet place real quick.

When I went into work on Tuesday, the price at the local BP was 2.55 a gallon. At the end of the work today it was well over three dollars and on the way to who knows what price. Of course the hurricane has disrupted everything but additionally there have been pipeline failures which made the situation worse in the Carolinas. So thanks to word of mouth there has been a panicked run for gas in the region. Fortunately I filled up Tuesday at 2.69, so I'm in the clear for a little bit at least. You know, It's kind of cute to hear people complain about gas prices normally but the bottom line is that the American economy, and therefore society, is completely predicated on a steady supply of oil. Without that petrol, everything falls apart. I know this is common knowledge, but most people don't really care to think about it until there's a real problem. I don't think anybody really wants to deal with it.

As for Hurricane Katrina, yeah, it's bad. For a brief moment it looked like New Orleans could be o.k. but then the levees broke and the city has descended into hell. I've been watching the news with a mixture of horror and fascination, as it seems every day brings with it another obscenely bad development. I hate to say it, but I think New Orleans as a major American city is done. Would you ever want to go back there, knowing the risks? Sorry, I wouldn't. Of course the city will remain famous for its cultural and historical traits, but outside of that, the future is bleak.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:48 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005 11:52 PM EDT
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