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Friday, December 30, 2011


Well amigos y amigas, this is the last post of 2011.  I'm going to leave it on a positive note.

For those that are reading this and have never taken an acting class, the phrase "and...SCENE" is used to let the class know that the scene an actor or actors are working on is finished.  No mas! It gives the audience the ability to let them gather themselves after they have taken this short journey with them.  Trust me, it's really weird when actors don't give you that break.  They finish the scene. They've been crying, laughing, ready to murder each other, and then they turn to you and start talking to you or smiling without letting you know their scene is done.  No Bueno!

So, the "SCENE" of 2011 is finished. What a year it's been.  I started this blog, which was intended at making of fun of the poseurs, idiots, d-bags, and other fools who give actors a bad rap.  I realized that you can only go so far with that.  Some entries became more personal.  Some political, of which I am not an expert.  I didn't want to make this a "MY JOURNEY AS AN ACTOR", type of blog either.  That gets annoying. I'm not a career coach or "Business of the Business" expert to dish out advice on how to get an agent, meet directors, producers, network, or any of that savvy, rico suave, stuff.

I like to tell stories, and I like to laugh.  There are things people say that don't make sense, and I feel the need to point them out.  All of us, whether actors or not, have experienced similar things of which I have written about. Who doesn't like to make fun of people who think their POMPIS is all that?  It's these people that I rag on who don't have anything to back their shit up.  I'll do a special entry to the D-BAG List for this type of person.  I haven't figured out a title for them, but a conversation with him/her would go something like this:

D-BAG:  Hey man. Haven't seen you in a while.  What have you been working on?

Me: Oh. I've been finishing a script on a short film that my friend and I are going to produce, and..

D-BAG: I just finished a short film that's going to hit the festival circuit.

Me: Cool. Just did a casting workshop with a CD that I've booked with.  She...

D-BAG: I just did workshop for the CD of "Boardwalk Empire". It was great. I killed it.  My scene partner wasn't very good. 

Me: Great.  I'm planning to meet with some "name" people to help..

D-BAG: I just did a show and ______ was in the audience.  My company is going to try and get them to attend our next production.  My work really stood out to ______.


This person asks me what I'm up to and then starts pissing on everything I have to say by making it into a competition.  I know someone like this.  Not to be petty, but this actor has one short film credit on their IMDB page.  No! I'm not going to create a link to this person's page.  I would have to add myself to the D-BAG list if I did that.  Tempting, but....NO.

So, where's the positivity?

Communicating to the masses, via El Comandante, has really helped me stay creative and committed to creating my own projects.  Whenever I'm in a funk or not feeling up to writing or working on a scene or monologue, I sit down and rant to you all.

It's like having a really good appetizer.  Because of this blog, I was able to stay motivated to achieve my goals (the main course): finishing the script for the short film I will be working on this spring, getting my reel up on Actors Access and YouTube, developing relationships with some "Name" industry professionals, laying the groundwork for a couple of sketch, comedy, webisodes, and producing a play.  Hijole! I guess sleep is not the plans for 2012.  Who cares?  The world's gonna end anyways, according to my ancestors.

On paper, 2011 sucked!  I didn't book a single, paying acting job.  Not one audition during pilot season or this episodic season.  Only a handful of commercial auditions came my way.  There was an indie film, in which I auditioned for the lead.  I wasn't right physically, unless I planned to gain 130 pounds.  I would have died in the process.  

It was a down year for me, but I'm not pointing fingers at my reps or the industry.  It just didn't happen.  However, I was able to lay the groundwork for what is to be a very prosperous 2012.  This is the year where I really graduate into the Big Leagues.  I'm really excited about the upcoming year.  Mainly I'm excited to share some good laughs with my readers and to continue to preach the mantra of "Revolution and Integrity" for all.

Before signing off, I want to give a shout out to a real gamer.  She is very talented actress, writer, director, who hired me to play a very fun character in her indie, comedy, feature "Black Hearts"- the one shining moment in my professional career of 2011.  Malani Coomes:  You are awesome, beautiful, and talented.  Thanks for thinking of me.  This film is going to rock!

Until next year....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Actors need: Big Thinkin', Big Thinkin'!

El Comandante has been locked up in his bunker for two weeks.  The battle to change the consciousness of self absorbed actors has taken a minor set back.  But, I haven't given up!  Never!

Before I tackle my topic, I just want to address the issue of manners.  Tell me something.  If you noticed a scar or deformity on a total stranger's  face, would you ask them: "How did you get that?" "What happened to your face?"  If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, please leave your email address.  I will contact you so that we can arrange a meeting and I can give you a nice chanclaso upside the head.  Translation:  smack you upside the head with a wooden sandal.  Mind your f'n business.

Not to get to much into this, but I was taking topical meds for a skin condition I may or may not have (thanks to the thorough, loving, care of HMO health care).  It thinned my skin.  The crazy weather conditions in L.A. (warm days, really cold nights), walking in and out of a freezer at work, coupled with the stress of not making enough money to buy my sweetheart a Christmas or anniversary present, or to make the monthly bills, caused my skin to erupt into a burn.  The burn was later infected, so my face turned bright red.  Don't even get me started on the swelling.  

No joke.  I woke up one morning looking like Jake La Motta. My normal, lovely, olive, complexion had been compromised.

  To the bathroom attendant at the Hollywood Parlor on Melrose, formerly El Guapo Cantina (again with the El Guapo!):  MIND YOUR F'N BUSINESS!  Your job is simple.  Smile. Offer me a towel, which I'm capable of getting myself, after you have watched the back of my head while I make Pee Pee.  The only thing you should be asking me is "Would you like a mint or spray of Aqua Di Gio?"


On to the subject at hand.  I've taken workshops with the remarkable, Dallas Travers (http://dallastravers.com/).  One of the many things I have learned from her is that the entertainment industry tries to keep actors into thinking "Small". 

Here are some of the sayings that actors always hear:

"Before you can get an agent, you need more co-star credits."

"If you want to get co-star credits, you need to get an agent to submit you for those roles."

"Build your reel up with student films and indie projects, then try to get an agent."

"Do some small theater and get casting directors to attend, so they can see your work". This hasn't worked for me.  I do theater cause I love to work.

"You need to build up more co-star credits to be considered for a guest star role." 

"Once you have enough guest star credits, you can be submitted for series regular."

"After you've been a series regular you can be considered for a lead in a show."

"Once you're a lead in a show, you'll be exposed and people will start offering you film roles."

Take this in for a second.  If one were to adhere to this Mierda line of thinking, we'd all be six feet under by the time we get recognized for our hard work.  The Academy will be awarding Oscars posthumously to everyone!

Dallas always talks about "Thinking Big".  Swinging for the fences.  Training our minds to not think within the confines of the status quo.  In doing so, you will achieve a "Quantum Leap" in your career.  It happens to us in life.  We make correct decision after correct decision.  Next thing you know, BADA BING! BADA BOOM!  You're getting offers left and right, or you're the boss of your own company.  Comprendes Mendez

It doesn't cost us a thing to dream.  Right?  Si se puede, as my people like to say. 

I bring this up, because a good friend and fellow Working Artists Lab collaborator Paul Elia (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3731362/)- who is very talented- approached me about working on a play that he is currently writing.  We sat down and read through a draft.  He began to tell me the details of what the play was based on, which I will not go into.  At one point, he expressed frustration towards some of the people that he wanted to be involved in the project.  Paul wanted to get this show up and running ASAP and possibly perform it at the Fox Theater in his hometown of Detroit (MOTOWN baby).  This ain't no Black Box, 99 Seat theater.  This is a big time venue.  BIG THINKIN'! BIG THINKIN'!

Apparently, the people he had in mind to work on this project scoffed at the idea of putting up the play so soon.  When Paul brought up the notion of taking it to the Fox, they ran scared.

In this story, who would you give a high five to?  The guy who dreams of bringing the show to the masses, or the guy who is only dwelling on what is "Probable"?  I'm not using the word "Possible", because anything is "Possible".  You know where my  money's at.  Fist Bump to you Paul!  Always thinking big.  

I'm paraphrasing what Dallas teaches, so please go to her website to find out more information about her workshops.  She offers some freebies.  She is not paying me to promote her.  In fact, she doesn't even know that I'm writing about her.  I'm just passing along information Dallas has taught me, that has helped me grow as an artist.  

These days, I have no qualms about calling my agent and telling him "I want to be in the next Scorcese or Tarantino movie."  He probably rolls his eyes at me, but I've stated what I want.  It's up to me to go after it.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Art Can Change Lives.

This is Part Dos of the entry about Demian Bichir being two steps away from getting an Oscar Nomination.

Let's make that one step.  He's going to have to steal Third base, which is not an easy feat, given that the Shortstop is there to fill the gap.  Third Basemen tend to be really agile and fast as well. 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Sports. Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah (Charlie Brown teacher's voice).  Third Base is the Oscar Nomination, and Home is the win.  The Shortstop and Third Baseman represent the haters who would love to snub a performance in a movie about a Mexican that doesn't belong in a gang or that doesn't relive the "Frito Bandito" stereotype. (See the video I posted in my blog entry about "A Plethora") Entiendes Mendez? 

The Golden Globes laid another huevo on this one.  They didn't nominate our boy.  I was pretty pissed at first, but then I realized the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the committee that selects the nominees), handed out nominations to "The Tourist".  Yes.  The Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie movie that everyone ripped apart.  I can't comment, because I had no desire to watch it.  It looked that bad.  Maybe that's why it got nominated under "Best Peformance by an Actor/Actess in a Musical or Comedy".  Someone watched this and thought it was so bad,  it was funny.  Quien sabe?

All I remember is Ricky Gervais, the host of last year's Globes, saying something to the effect that everything was in 3D, except for the characters in "The Tourist".


At the screening of "A Better Life" (at the SAG Foundation), a woman in the audience shared a very heartfelt story.

Chris Weitz, the film's director, spoke about how he screened the film in Washington D.C., hoping that our elected officials will have a change of heart about immigration reform.  

Shortly after stating this, a woman raised her hand to ask a question.  She began by thanking Mr. Weitz for making such a beautiful film.  

The film had completely changed her view on immigration so much that she quit her job at Homeland Security.  She witnessed, first hand, how innocent people (gardeners, housekeepers, construction workers, field hands) who came here to achieve a better life, were being thrown into the same mix with gang members, murderers, human traffickers, and other convicted felons.  

The woman began to cry, because she couldn't forgive herself for being partly responsible for deporting innocent people; knowing everything they risked to get to America and the possibility that they may lose their lives trying to get back to America.

Mr. Weitz, gentleman that he is, thanked her for the courage to share her story.  He offered some comfort by saying, "There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect your country."  There are really bad people trying to sneak into this country- members of the world's most dangerous gang and what not.  However, the people who want to come here and make an honest living aren't the ones we should be worried about.  There needs to be legislation to allow these good folks to stay.  

Last year, I performed in Josefina Lopez' play "Detained In the Desert". It was a protest to Arizona's Controversial, SB1070.  The problem with this law, like many of our laws, is that the language is too vague.  The vague language is what caused the uproar, fearing that law enforcement would exceed its boundaries and begin profiling, randomly asking "suspected undocumented aliens" for proof of residence, therefore violating peoples' basic civil rights.

If you'd like to read the law, you can check it out here: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf

One of the points discussed in the play is how people risk their lives, walking in the desert for days, to come to America.

Let's be real.  Migrant workers are not taking the jobs of American citizens.  I have no desire, nor the skill to bend over for 12 hours in a field picking fruit.  I'm scared to hell of heights, so you wont find me climbing up 100 feet, just to trim some rich lady's palm tree, while she's spending $300 to get her torta waxed and Vajazzled, or whatever the hell they do these days.

You know where I stand.  Many would disagree, because "The Law is The Law".

Enrique Morones, who heads Border Angels, (http://www.borderangels.org/) responds to this rationale by saying "So was slavery."

The woman who shared her experience had a change of heart because of this film.  Let's hope our government, America, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will have a change of heart as well.

Merry Christmas.  Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.

Merry Cree-Mas!

Merry Cree-mas!  That's how my Tia would pronounce it.  God bless her.  Life has been tough for her this past year.  Te quiero mucho Tia!

I hope you all have a very Feliz Navidad.  Go to town on those Tamales!  This may be a bit traitorous, considering my family is from El Salvador, but I'm partial to Mexican Tamales.  I love the red chile beef, pork, and especially the green chile con queso. Mmm-mmm-mmm! 

For my vegetarian friends:  Watch out for the "non-meat" tamales. The masa is probably made with Manteca- LARD.  Yummy!

Vegetarianism is a new concept to Latinos from the old country.  A meal solely comprised of vegetables is not considered a meal.  It's an ensalada.  A salad, which is an appetizer or snack.  And if it doesn't have meat, take for example a pot of beans, there was some meat product used in the making of it.  Just how it is. 

Eating habits are changing for folks from the old country.  Given the amount of people getting diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, more folks are adopting healthier eating- including vegetarian meals.  

My mom only eats organic stuff from the farmers' market and Whole Foods.  She listens to nutrition shows and watches Dr. Oz. This was the woman who would would serve us braised pork ribs in a chile sauce with rice, beans, and tortillas, at least once a week.  Of course there was always a salad to start things off.  Gotta balance things out with a gringo tradition.  You know?


I dont' want to make this a health food entry.  I was just thinking out loud about Christmas and food I grew up eating, the mass partying I did around the Holidays (to cover up my deep seeded depression), and how much I really love Christmas!  

From 1997-2005, I spent every Christmas in New York and New Jersey.  I experienced the "White Christmas" mixed in with the "Latin Version" which resulted in many empty bottles of wine and rum.  

Christmas Day was usually a recovery day back then.  Kind of Sacrilegious right?  I remember my Dad always saying, "I'm not drinking tonight, because it's Jesus' birthday."  Ha!  That didn't last long.

When I was a kid, my Mom and Stepdad hosted some orphans from Tijuana for the holidays.  It was kind of weird at first to have these strange kids staying in "my house", playing with "my toys".  There was some fights.  I'll never forget the joy on their faces when they opened presents like G.I. Joes and Transformers, things they never would have gotten.  I felt very blessed.

When we drove them back to the Orphanage, I cried.  I never grew up with siblings.  My Step Sister would stay with us every other weekend.  I love her to death and consider her my actual sister, but  it was a different feeling having "brothers" around all the time.  I hope those kids are all right.  They're men like me now.  Wow.

My mom always talked about how Christmas was about the Birth of our Lord and not about presents.  Try telling that to an 8 year old who just got a bunch of new Transformers.  

Now that I'm almost grown up, I really appreciate what she was trying to tell me.  I'm not a devout Catholic or Bible Thumping, follower of Christianity.  However, I remember my Step Father telling me that whether or not the events actually happened in Bethlehem, as depicted in the Gospel of....can't think of it now; the whole point is a message of Hope.  Hope for Peace.  Hope for the betterment of Mankind.  Hope that we can believe in something pure and greater than ourselves.  

I HOPE that you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas.  For my brothers and sisters that celebrate the festival of lights, Happy Hannukah.  For those that don't celebrate any Holidays this time of year:  Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Horale! Demian Bichir is two steps from an Oscar Nod for "A Better Life"

Buenas Noches everybody!  Some have you have seen my postings on my FB page, promoting the film "A Better Life", starring Demian Bichir ("Weeds", "Che"), directed by Chris Weitz ("About a Boy", "Twilight: New Moon"- Que???).  

It's a wonderful movie about the pursuit of the so called "American Dream".  The story is straightforward.  The acting is realistic and not over the top.  Mr. Bichir's portrayal of Carlos Galindo, an undocumented gardener, showcases the right amount of compassion and vulnerability towards his son, at the same time staying true to his machismo side when faced with confrontation.  

It takes a huge pair of stones to swallow your pride, stand on a corner, and hope that you get some work for the day.  I've hired some day laborers for various jobs.  These guys work their ass off.  I'm not running for the Republican Presidential Nomination, so I'm more than cool to admit doing the right thing by helping a fellow compa out.  Minute Men can kiss my tiny brown ass!


I don't want to draw attention away from what is a major accomplishment for a Latino Actor.  This is huge.  The Golden Globes are next, then the Oscars.  There is no reason why he shouldn't be nominated.  We'll have to give the Academy some serious Putasos if Mr. Bichir gets snubbed.  We'll do it via social media of course.  I'm too cute for prison. 

I spoke to Mr. Bichir at a screening of the film at the SAG Foundation.  I expressed to him how huge an accomplishment this could be for all Latino Actors.  He agreed with me.  

Take a look at the list of Best Actor Nominations, as compiled on Wikipedia.


I'm only focusing on the last 20 years.  Back in the 50's you had Jose Ferrer and Anthony Quinn.  In the late 80's, you had Edward James Olmos.  Since then......Javier Bardem in 2000 for "Before Night Falls".  Pretty fuckin' sad.  Someone would argue that there weren't enough movies featuring Latino Actors, so there weren't many to choose from.  Exactly!

My hope is that Mr. Bichir's performance and this film, in general, will open the eyes of the people holding the purse strings.  Support producers and filmmakers that want to create complex and substantial roles for Latino actors and actresses.  Why can't there be a Latino performer up for Oscar consideration every year?  The talent pool is there.  There are thousands of undiscovered actors who are able to deliver strong performances, worthy of Oscar consideration.  Remember Adriana Barraza from "Babel".  She stole that movie.  She should be working all the time.  She had a scene in "Thor" that was cut.  Chances are slim to none that would happen to Caucasian or an African American Actor.  

I'm grateful that Summit Entertainment took a chance on this one.  If "New Moon" would not have been such a success, Chris Weitz would not have been able to make this movie.  You can probably tell how I feel about the "Twilight" saga.  I don't get it, but it's not my shot of tequila.  If "New Moon" was the reason for getting "A Better Life" made, then I'll be a fan!  Simon!

Mr. Weitz really created something wonderful for the entertainment world.  He showed us how beautiful and rich in culture East Los Angeles really is.  L.A. is more than Hollywood and the beach folks.  It was built by hard working Mexicans and Natives that were here for hundreds of years. I'm thrilled that the film is getting the recognition it deserves.  It has been screened in Washington D.C., in hopes that art can change hearts and minds about the current immigration laws.  

Out of struggle and perseverance comes great art.  The purpose is to showcase a soul bearing, belief, ideology, expression, or point of view, for all to experience and to bring about change.  I think this film and Mr. Bichir's performance is a wonderful step.  

Part two of this story will talk about how this film changed the life of a woman who worked for Homeland Security.  Check it out this weekend.