Cine, Los Angeles

The Simpsons table-read

There’s many reasons I enjoy my job. Namely, I like working with college students to help them meet their goals. The additional perks are pretty cool. This summer, I got to attend field trips as a chaperone to the Aquarium of the Pacific, Disneyland and California Adventure and a biotech company’s campus. Those were all part of coordinating one of the summer research programs.

After the Simpsons table read

Yesterday’s staff field trip took us to the Fox Studios a few miles away in Century City for a table-read of a Simpsons episode.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been up close with the entertainment industry. It’s hard to avoid it living in LA and attending/working at UCLA. Years ago, I walked in on the filming of an Old School scene. A couple of years before that, I was in a Destiny’s Child video with the UCLA Marching Band. I auditioned for MTV and have been an extra in big audience scenes. And like every other Angeleño, I spot a celebrity every once in a while.

Been watching these guys since the Tracy Ullman show

All those experiences were memorable in their own way, but the table-read stands out. It was surreal hearing the voices behind the characters (Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellenata, Julie Kavner, Hank Azaria, Pamela Hayden) just a few feet away. I geeked out when Cartwright did Nelson Muntz’s “ha ha!” mocking laugh. Those who know me know I do that at inappropriate times. I had to calm down my inner 9 year old who has been watching since The Tracey Ullman Show days and who was super jealous of all the other kids with Bart Simpson “Eat My Shorts!” and “Ay Caramba!” t-shirts from being overly starstruck.

The show runner, Al Jean, narrated the action and gags yet to be animated while the actors read their parts for writers, producers and several guests. Someone in the office knows a writer, hence the invitation. Sean came along too. The episode itself was quite funny, I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

After the reading, we were informed by a coworker that the actors would sign scripts. A few of the actors rushed out, but a few remained and were gracious enough to sign autographs and take photos. Sean and I got signatures from Azaria, Cartwright (she had the longest line, but it moved quickly), and Hayden. I should’ve told Azaria that I love Bumblebee Man more than Moe. I didn’t get to take a picture with a VIP guest, Jane Krakowski — I love 30 Rock! Jane was busy speaking to others. We checked out the studio store, discussed the next steps for the episode and then returned to work.

I’m glad we got in once last field trip before summer officially ended and the students returned to campus for the fall quarter.

Cine, Historia

This day in Chicano history: Paul Rodriguez (1955)

January 19, 1955:
Paul Rodriguez was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, México

From Wikipedia:

Rodriguez was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, México to Mexican agriculture ranchers. His family migrated to East Los Angeles, where he enlisted in the military; he was stationed in Iceland and Duluth, Minnesota. Rodriguez endorsed Meg Whitman in the 2010 California gubernatorial election.

Really? Meg Whitman? I didn’t know he was a Republican. It’s always a little surprising when I hear of a famous Latino who is not aligned with the Democratic party. Maybe there’s something about Mexicans who grew up in Compton (hey, HP!).

Like a lot of people my age, I first remember Rodriguez as the recent probably-not-legal immigrant, Javier, who shows up at Rudy’s house in Born in East LA. Javier gets freaked out by the television and telephone while Rudy (Cheech Marin) is getting accidentally deported. Over the years, Rodriguez has been in several other films, television shows, done voice over work and recorded comedy albums and television shows. If you Google him, you might get some results for his son, Paul, a pro skateboarder. P-Rod made one of my favorite commercials a few years ago. Check it out.

Reading up on Paul Rodriguez brought a question to mind. If there was a Latino version of the Kevin Bacon game, who would take the place of Bacon?

I’d choose any of the following:
Paul Rodriguez
Edward James Olmos
Lupe Ontiveros
Cheech Marin
Hector Elizondo

All actors are veterans and have been in many mainstream and Latino-focused movies and television shows. In the past, I was pretty sure it was Eddie Olmos. I wrote up mini analyses of Born in East LA and La Bamba, but got lazy and abandoned the project. One of the things I looked for in the Latino LA-based films was an Olmos connection.

Photo via Instant Riverside.

Cine, Cultura, Historia

This day in Chicana herstory: Eva Longoria

March 15, 1975
I used to watch Desperate Housewives. I couldn’t stand Eva Longoria’s character, Gabrielle Solis, in early seasons, but she was one of the few Latinas on TV. So I kept watching. Then I read a profile on her in some magazine while getting a pedicure. She seemed kind of likable.

Longoria doesn’t shy away from her ethnicity, unlike other Latina actresses (cough, Jessica Alba, cough). She seems very committed to various philanthropic causes and charities, including Eva’s Heroes for children with developmental disabilities. Eva’s Heroes is quite personal as Longoria’s older sister has developmental disabilities. I don’t know if she’s really a great person, or if her publicists just make her look good.

Last week, I highlighted the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and mentioned that it was supposed to protect those who had been granted land before the Mexican American War. These people are the original Chicanos who can actually say, “we didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed up.” Apparently, Longoria’s ancestors are one of those families. I knew they had been in Texas a long time, but they went way back.

In 2009, she enrolled in the Chicano Studies master’s program at CSUN. I remember this news spreading through Facebook. My friends in the program were ecstatic, especially the men who couldn’t wait to offer to be a study partner. I don’t think they’ve ever seen her. Maybe she’s taking the classes online.

Happy birthday, Eva.


Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking.

“I could have swore you wrote this,” Sean said in an IM (even though he’s in Westwood Village and I’m on campus).

“I didn’t,” but I’ve written something very similar (the advantages of blogging for nearly 10 years). I fished around the archives of my current and old blog and found the post. It’s still relevant.

Oh yes. Sean passes the test. Of course he does.

yeah, yeah, i love the sandlot [04.18.05]

Last fall I accompanied my best guy friend, Eligio, to the movies. I can’t remember what we watched, but for some reason I think it was related to sports. Anyway, I mentioned that I loved baseball movies and The Sandlot was my favorite. And then Eligio dropped a bomb on me. He confessed that he had never seen the film.

I said something along the lines of, “You’re killing me, Eligio! What?! We’ve been friends how long? How come I never knew this about you?!”

From that point on, our friendship has been different and even a little strained.

It might have not surprised me if Eligio was not as much of a baseball fan as me. We have a lot in common and I just assumed that he always caught on to the frequent references I make to The Sandlot in everyday dialogue. But he hadn’t.

When the film was released in 1993, I immediately loved it. Rather, I loved Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez (Mike Vitar). Yeah-yeah, I was swooning every single time Benny’s beautiful face and intense green eyes filled the screen.

It didn’t hurt that the film was focused on one of my favorite subjects, baseball, that there was plenty of witty dialogue, and that Benny was the star of the film.

If you ask me what my all-time favorite film is, I will always respond with The Sandlot. There are other films I enjoy that are more profound, artistic, and (let’s face it) mature. However, these are films I’ve liked for a much shorter time.

I’ve watched The Sandlot dozens of times in the last twelve years and still have not outgrown the humor and silly gags. If you watch it with me, you might even get annoyed because I have the habit of quoting nearly every line.

I currently do a Sandlot test of most people I meet. I quote a few lines and see if he/she catch the reference. If he/she doesn’t, I know we’re not soulmates nor is he/she a potential best friend. Yeah yeah, it is that serious.

A few of my favorite lines [The Sandlot script]:

  • Benny: Anyone who wants to be a can’t-hack-it pantywaist who wears their mama’s bra, raise your hand.
  • Benny: Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking.
  • Benny: I bet you get straight A’s and shit.
    Smalls: No, I got a B once, but it should have been an A…
  • Squints: If you’da been thinkin you wouldn’t ‘a thought that.
  • Squints: It’s about time Benny, my clothes are goin’ outta style.
  • The Babe: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.
  • Ham: Hey, Smalls, you wanna s’more?
    Smalls: I haven’t had anything.
    Ham: No, do you wanna s’more?
    Smalls: How can I have some more of nothing?
    Ham: You’re killing me Smalls!
  • Ham: This pop isn’t workin’, Benny! I’m bakin’ like a toasted cheeser! It’s so hot here!
  • Smalls (adult): Even my own mom, a grown-up girl, knew who Babe Ruth was.
  • Ham: You play ball like a girl!
  • Squints: Come on, Benny. Man. The kid is a L, 7, WEENIE!
    Yeah Yeah: Yeah-yeah, a real square
    Squints: Oscar Meyer even, foot-long, a Dodger Dog!
  • Mr. Mertle: Baseball was life! And I was good at it… real good.
  • Squints: forever!
  • Mom: You’ll always be just an egghead with an attitude like that.

Photo credit: Sean

Cine, Historia

This Day in Chicano History: Edward James Olmos (1947)

Zoot Suit February 24, 1947: Edward James Olmos
Los Angeles, California

Way back when I was in 5th or 6th grade, I had to write a report on a famous person. I chose Edward James Olmos. I’m not really sure why, I was probably influenced by Stand and Deliver* and wanted to know more about one of the few Chicanos I saw in mainstream entertainment. I learned that his father (or grandfather, can’t remember) printed a newspaper and fled Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. I also learned about his roles in movies, television shows and plays I’d never even heard of, like Zoot Suit

Of course, his roles have varied. Via Wikipedia:

Among his most memorable roles are Commander/Admiral William Adama in the Battlestar Galactica re-imagined series, Lt. Martin Castillo in Miami Vice, teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the film Selena, Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, and narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit.

Do you have a favorite Olmos role/scene? One of my favorites comes from Selena:

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*I just recently learned that my sister, a math major and aspiring math teacher, has not seen Stand and Deliver. What’s worse is that we have a few cousins who took calculus with Jaime Escalante! I felt like I failed my sister the day I learned that.