July 19, 2016

First of Seven Days of Torture! (title will change)

Seriously - life is FAST. And I broke my laptop in my down time... so this is what I have re-capped of my 100 mile* hike through the Scottish Highlands.



One simple word came forth during an epic seven-day journey across the Scotland Highlands.  One may call this an epiphany, but it really wasn’t. Going into the trip, I had certain expectations and lack of expectations. You see, I decided to walk the West Highland Way in the north western part of Scotland without so much as having backpacked a day in my life. I mean, I have hiked, short and long hikes. But never 96 miles across a land that was unfamiliar for no reason what so ever except to do so.

I needed something in my life right then. Something elusive. At least elusive to me. Coming right before a birthday, perhaps I thought this would be a great time for something new, an adventure in the wild in a land far, far away. You know, the shit movies are made about. It wasn’t really that, but it was something and I am grateful for the experience of it all.

Scotland itself is not new to me. I have been going to Edinburgh for work about every six weeks now for about a year. I have ventured out and about while visiting which is how I stumbled across the West Highland Way. It’s a walk that starts near Glasgow and ends at Fort Williams.  It’s said to be 96 miles, but as I came to learn, the Scottish lie. Or at least don’t know how to measure a proper mile and telltale tales. They are the nicest liars you will ever meet. The WHW is easily 100 miles, then add some for trying to find the fucking entrance to the trail once you venture off it, because the Scottish also do not like to give you proper signs or directions.

This is where the attitude of gratitude started to develop.
When things go wrong, and they went wrong, I was just grateful for the experience. I got to walk the hills of Scotland and did not die! It was also better to believe things happened exactly as they should, rather than different from the plan. Premeditated expectations only create resentments, right?

And nothing major went wrong, well, besides the Scottish lies… Things just did not go exactly as planned.

Danielle, a college friend agreed to join me on this adventure, so together we set off. I had done the homework: researched the trail, hired the agency to arrange our hotels and luggage transfers, bought the appropriate footwear and gear. I was ready, or so I thought. I mean, how prepared can you be to walk 105 miles? Really.

The walk so happened to correspond with the EURO Cup Futbol finals and Wimbledon, so was to become an influencing factor in our trip. The night before Day One of the walk, had us in the small town of Milngavie. There was many a debate amongst “locals” as to the proper pronunciation of the town. Again the lies. “Mal-gie” was the most common way to say the town’s name – allegedly. This was to become another common aspect of our trip. The fucking town names.

Ok Milngavie… Wales versus Belgium. There really was not much time to explore the town. There never really will be based on our walking agenda. However, this was the finest meal of the trip.  Splurged a bit and ate like kings at the Inn while watching Futbol. Not a bad start. However, the next day was the start of something I really had no idea of what, and I was seriously beginning to doubt the sanity of the whole plan. But here I was. With all the gear and shit. Ready to walk 110 miles.

Morning of Day One, I was up early-ish and ready to walk the 12 miles to Dryman. After breakfast. While at breakfast we got interrupted, apparently the service was here to pick up the bags. See I didn’t even know what time bag pick-up was – you’d think they would include that in the packet. Maybe they did, I really only looked at the itinerary. But someone was to be blamed, and it was not to be me. So now I know, 9am bag pick up. Righty-Oh.

Asking the receptionist at the hotel the directions to the start,
she laughed and told us to head off towards town center. So off we went, as rain gently started to come down. Yup, it was going to be a wet one. According to the forecast, every day was going to be wet. That, they did not lie about.  But the signs to the town center contradicted the signs to the WHW, and we were lost. Day One, and we can’t even find the fucking trail. Brilliant.

Asking a number of nice passer byers where the start was, all the time wearing our nifty gear and day packs, I’m sure we looked every part the professional walker – and yes, I would come to learn there is such a thing. Finally finding the obvious start in the middle of the cute main street we had passed a number of times from the opposite side of the thruway, we started our way through the woods heading out of town. It became immediately apparent that neither one of us was really adept at directions, and there was very poor signage to show us the way. There was only one solution – follow the young troop of scouts ahead of us on the trail – at least they had a leader. And we needed one, I was obvious.

After the woods, the road was pretty flat and the rain let up. The road crossed a distillery which could not be passed. It was close to 2pm – whiskey time, but also meant that we were still far from our final destination for the night, Dryman. There’s always time for whiskey.

Back on the tail it was an easy go to the next stop for lunch. A burger and pint sounded pretty good at this point. At the stop I was to meet a lady I decided to call “Alice.” She looked like an Alice, whether from the Brady Bunch or Mel’s Dinner, she definitely was an Alice. And she decided to bestow some knowledge on me, “This is the easy day,” Alice presented. “Don’t think all days will be like this. If you do, you will get burned out… It’s a mind game. When it’s pouring down rain, and you’re soaking wet, you’ve got to keep trudging on. You’ve got to get to your next accommodations. You’ve got to keep your head down and keep trekking on.” Whatever Alice, just give me my beer.

Twelve miles is far. Especially after some whiskey and a
burger… delicious burger. I started to get a wee bit delirious. Where the hell was the town. After crossing a bridge, we emerged onto a street with houses, one hosting an “honors soda bar,” grab a coke and leave 50 pence. Electing to pass, we continued down the road, passing a young girl jumping on a trampoline which we cheered on before trudging onward. Seeing the stamped post that marks the trail, I instinctively turned down a steep staircase heading back into a wooded area muttering “ok.” Danielle asked what I was doing, to which I replied just following the signs. “Or, we can follow that one that says town that way.” Apparently I read the post wrong, delirium or the whiskey setting in. So I took a shot of whiskey and headed into town.   Twelve miles my arse.

The path took us right into the center of town, not hard to do in this small village of Dryman. And lucky for us, right to our hotel. Upon check-in, we quickly felt very under dressed and dirty. There were 3 weddings in town this night, one at the very hotel we were staying in; in fact the reception party, and band, were situated directly under our window. Party.

May 14, 2016

Hammers 'N Ales ~ May 12, 2016 @ M.Special, Goleta

Good Vibes Only

An event featuring local live music, local craft beer, local food trucks, that is also family friendly – all to support a local non-profit. What’s a Santa Barbarian not to love?

The inaugural Hammer N’ Ales event hosted at M.Special Brewery to benefit Habitat for Humanity was a success, drawing a huge crowd to the Goleta parking lot the two organizations share. An UCSB alumni always one to do his part, the event also featured musical acts off Jack Johnson’s record label, Brushfire Records. New Noise Foundation was brought in to assist with the event towards the ends, bringing a bit of expertise to event and stage management. “This event has all the things New Noise Foundation loves – it’s local and benefits a non-profit,” according to New Noise’s Jeff Theimer. “The motto here is good vibes only.” 

Made open to kids of all ages complete with a kids’ play area and bouncy house, it allowed parents to get out of the house to enjoy a brew and a show with the kids. “There is no judgement here,” stated Veronica, one of many mothers with a youngster strapped to their body with a brew in hand. But unlike many festivals, the brew selection was not limited to a select few. M.Special was pouring all their great brews: American Lager, Farmhouse Saison, Pablo Ale, Lazy Eye Special Double IPA, and the Greatland IPA is just a short list. It was a toss-up as to which was the bigger hit: the craft brew or the music. Both the brewery and the dance floor were packed.

The day of music featured Adam Phillips, Jessie Bridges,
Soul Majestic, Matt Costa, and Animal Liberation Orchestra, better known as ALO. People definitely came to dance.  When local reggae sensation Soul Majestic took the stage, the crowd started grooving as the sun came out and more people arrived. The band kept the energy high as Dan Leibowitz joined in the near hour long set. True to the claim of “family friendly,” kids with painted faces threw beach balls from the stage into the dancing audience while singing with the band. 

Matt Costa provided a mellow vibe as he played new material acoustically with a lone cellist. By this time the place was packed although people still could easily maneuver from the stage to the brews to the food. The brewery staff was on point, remaining fun and enthusiastic throughout the busy event. This was definitely a well-organized and well-staffed event.

As it came closer to the end of the event, the main event hit
the stage. Santa Barbara locals ALO hit the stage and instantly got the crowd jamming again – this time at full capacity. In honor of the beneficiaries, lead singer and pianist Zach Gill came out in a hard hat, nicely reminding the audience of the reason for the party, and then quickly tour it up! Knowing that they are playing for “their people,” the band held nothing back playing all the (my) favorites. It was barely noticeable that this was the middle of the day and not one of their late night jam session.

 A true family friendly event, it ended at 7pm – just in time for the youngsters and tired ol’ folks such as myself to get home at a reasonable time. A great show, some great brews, and home by 8pm. There were definitely good vibes only created here. 

April 10, 2016

Sat Nam Festival West ~ April 7-10th, 2016 @ Joshua Tree

Where Your Warrior Meets Your Saint

This wasn’t your average run-of-the-mill spring cleaning, although I did participate in that ritual as well. But pictures of the piles of junk I removed from my house pale significantly to the junk I removed from my psyche at the Sat Nam West Festival* in Joshua Tree, California. 

I went to the desert in search of healing and clearing of a deeply personal cycle that was thrust in my face after a recent traumatic event. What I left with was the foundations to building a warrior that is able to meet challenges with clear intentions and self-awareness. And a huge Kundalini* buzz.

My days in the desert were full of classes, workshops, and concerts geared towards… well basically self-enlightenment. To remove all the junk that the mind creates that prevents the authentic “me” from showing up. Of course, that’s a very watered down version of what happened, but it’s easier to digest that way and I am not a subject matter expert on Kundalini.

It rained the first night, which was also a new moon in Aries,
the first sign of the zodiac calendar year and hence considered a new beginning. At 3:15am, three of us awoke to make our way to the big tent for Sadhana*, which would go until 6am. New to Sat Nam, I was not sure what to expect, but was willing the find out. Essentially there is about a half hour of prayer, then 45 minutes of guided Kundalini yoga movement, followed by an hour of chanting. Again, a watered-down version, but I don’t want to get loss in the language and terms used in the ceremony. It started to rain hard as we sat on our mats in a big tent in the middle of the desert. It felt so cleansing and added to the effects of experience.

I had an idea, a plan, as to where I wanted this all to go, what I wanted to get out of weekend. I wanted to direct this experience to fix a particular problem in my life. Done. But that’s not how it works – that’s not how any of this works. As the rain came down and emotions came up I quickly realized this, but still tried not to surrender. I had a damn plan.

By 6am, I still had not surrendered. On my path to magical healing, I steadfastly planned out my day: yoga, self-help workshop, karate. Surely, by the end of the day I’d be that much closer to my goal. But the plan shifted. As the events of the day unfolded, the message I received was not one of healing, but one of strengthening. Apparently the universe believed I was done “healing,” I had spent the ENTIRE winter on that project; now it was spring, and time for me to emerge from the darkness as my warrior self.

Seriously, this is what the universe spoke to me. Every class I attended with the intention of receiving some sort of healing presented me with the message of becoming a warrior. For real’s. My first class of the day, not including my 3am chanting, was what I thought to be a celebratory Kundalini yoga class. But Krishna Kaur* had a different agenda. She challenged me to go far beyond my physical comfort zone, while delightfully laughing at my struggles. “Hold this space with courage and grace,” she encouraged as I tried not to swear at the well respected yogi (although I’m pretty sure I did, wahe guru*). The last kriya* she presented had to do with the mudras* where Saturn meets Jupiter, “Where your Warrior meets your Saint". This is where you find balance.” Here, warrior got engrained in my head. Warrior.

What if I had been to “saintly,” therefore pushing my warrior back? Metaphorically of course. But what if I was not standing up for myself as much as I should be in my relationships, all my relationships? What if I was not showing up for myself as much as I should be in life? Who was my warrior if not I? Warrior it was to be then. 

At this point, I surrendered. This was surprisingly easy for an OCD task master like me. But I liked where this all was going. Truthfully, I was quite sick of myself moping around; I really wanted to break free and just move on already, although I know you can’t rush the process. But c’mon! Warrior! 

This changed my whole input receptivity. Tommy Rosen* gave a lovely workshop on how to manage addictive patterns in the mind, after which he led us through a pretty intense 41 minute meditation geared towards letting go of frustrations, which did not feel as long as 41 minutes should. However, the message that stood out for me was he words on inputs: Kriya are actions towards liberation, where as Karma are actions towards addictions. You can manage your actions; you can manage your mind. But you have to manage.

Sitting in the residual effects of a 41 minute deep meditation, I decided to stay for the next class – GuruJodha Singh: Using Kundalini Yoga to Develop Your Spiritual Warrior.  I basically had to due to its title. There was that word again, warrior. I was getting it loud and clear. This class was amazing. Not only was GuruJodha Singh* a Kundalini master, but he was a martial arts master as well. The messaged he dropped had to do with reacting to a situation. All the planning in the world is not going to help you when a crisis arises, because you never know how someone else is going to act. You have to be present in the moment and strong in your knowledge of your own capabilities. You have to be fluid and flexible, and one more “F” I can’t recall. Like a warrior.

It was raining again and the main tent was soaking wet. Saturated and cold, I decided to skip the 3am Sadhana the next morning so that I could be ready for my 8am course on how to heal others. Yes, taking it to the streets y’all, to my peeps. How can my warrior-self help YOU? Getting out of my head and into yours. Mahankirn* taught a session on what’s called Sat Nam Rasayan Healing*. When you suffer trauma, it is not the event, but an aspect of the event that the nervous system cannot digest which holds the shock in your system. Through meditation, you can transcend the problem that is blocking the system, therefore removing the issue that is making the system intolerant. 

Wow. It was really simple and quite powerful, but again, I am not a subject matter expert, so will not go into the details. As Mahankirn went on, she explained how the system manifests the experience creates a box by which one defines themselves. “You are already you, but you are distracted,” as stated by Yogi Bhajan* according to Mahankirn. The goal is to restructure the box and then within this new framework, have no box, no differentiation. Every kriya in this class I wanted to take home, and before the class ended I was in tears. Just a broken down, box-less warrior.  

This was the beginning of my second full day and I was at my edge. Completely at every possible edge. My body ached from all the yoga, my heart ached from all the opening, and my mind ached from all the thinking. I groaned when I moved, blinked back tears when I made eye contact, and literally could not form full sentences. My senses were whelmed, but not quite overly yet. Plus, I pretty much had been on a miso and chai diet since Thursday night being that I barely made time to eat between classes. It was getting real.

Alas, I had more to do in spite of everything. The challenge was still on. I am a warrior, not a whiner! I made the conscious choice to just take all the classes offered in the big tent so that I didn’t have to move or think much, which was apparently what the universe wanted for me. Serenaded by the raw angelic vocals of Jai-Jagdeesh*, I briefly napped in the big tent, quickly running to grab soup prior the next class starting.

Looking all the part of a rock star, Guru Singh* commanded attention as he began to play guitar. Thinking another concert was going to take place, I was awakened to the fact that much more was going to transpire as Guru Singh’s first assignment was to put your left hand on your heart, your right hand up, and meander around the room, making hand and eye contact with strangers during the longest song ever. Tears flooded to my eyes, as did they to others. People I just met, now good friends, stopped to give me big hugs as we passed. The song was an eternity and I loved it! The connection was raw. Smiles and tears, fear and courage.  

Guru Singh began his lecture soon after and I rushed to feverishly scribbled notes. He told us to focus on three words: equality, identity, and infinity. Grabbing a big board with notes he went on to explain how we have two axis on our vertebrate – our yes and no. From ages 2-12 we decide what we are NOT (no); and from 13 on we decide what we ARE (yes). It is the INFINITE IDENTITY which is EQUALITY. I scribbled so many notes, hanging on his every word as he spoke, as if he was answering every question I ever had on life. “See the value in our presence; the solution is in our presence.” “See others as you. That exists in me…” “Every life has the same deck of cards; you just may choose not to play THAT one.” “When you are equal to your enemy, your enemy becomes your friend.” “You got to disappear in the way you THINK you are, in order to appear in who you ARE.” You need to know your identity; you need to be strong in who you are: I am who I am. He broke out into another song as we posed in a squat-like tiger pose and chanted “I am (pause) who I am!” Tears again. Why? Why is the warrior crying again? There is no crying in warrior-ing. (Guru Singh said it was alright to makeup words.)

I was now overwhelmed. I stayed for another concert with the lovely Simrit* to decompress (nap), before sitting down to my first actual full meal – which was delightful. Then I was done. I decided once again to forego the Sadhana as well as the late night gong bath for a good night’s sleep and an 8am dance class with Wah*. Bless my friends who attended the last Sadhana. I choose to close out my weekend by doing some Kundalini dance and doing it solo so I could get funky!

The sun did not come up on the last day. Soon after dance concluded, I was quickly changed, packed, and ready to go. I had a long way back to reality and I needed to give myself time to adjust. But I did make time for a huge hot slice of cheese pizza before making the trek back home. It was necessary for the re-integration into society… Besides, that’s what warriors eat, right?   

*Goggle it. 

March 2, 2016

WARNING: Non-Music Post

My Gift 

It was the most amazing experience. The Shaman said before I got there, she had opened her circle up for my guide for this process to step forward. It was my Dad! She said this was the first time something like this has happened to her, for someone so close to show up and so strongly! My Dad said "She needs to know where this has come from." Very clearly and knowingly. Of course we did not know what "this" was, and assumed it was the pain I was experiencing from a recent break-up.

Which it was in a roundabout way. We started the journey with some energy work, basic relaxation and aura cleaning (you know, the usual). She guided me through a meditation,  touching my hand for reassurance. Then as images came up, the Shaman guided with questions and chants. She asked her guides what message they had for me, and they replied, "Just be honest." 

We first went to a forest near Santa Cruz where Mike, my ex-husband, and I used to live. Then, while crying hysterically, I explained where I was and with whom as streaming tears filled my ears. She guided me to a place to calm down, which was my room in our house in Aptos. Mike refused to be called forward as a guide; she asked him why he was hiding, he scoffed and claimed he wasn't, he “just did not like people in his space." After more conversation, Mike said I had to take his hand, said I would understand why, but I couldn't. I just couldn't, the image kept slipping. I started crying hysterically again, and said it was the guilt. I couldn't because of the guilt. She asked what I wanted to say to Mike.... I said I was sorry, I didn't know what else to do at the time, I acted selfishly and childishly.

At that point the entire session turned! This was no longer about THEM. It went into a healing process about me. She said, "This guilt came long before your husband dear." She started chanting, singing and playing a drum. "Your childlike nature is your gift, your father knew this." In her chant, she drew out a child that hovered above me, my Innocence. 

She asked my Innocence to join me back in my heart. Innocence replied, "I can't - there is no room in her heart for me. The guilt, it has hardened, and there is no room." An image of a child with a thick block around her neck, choking her, appeared.

So the Shaman chanted some more. As she chanted, she sounded so sad. She said the child Innocence was on her knees, hands together begging the heavens to stop her pain. Asked why in so much pain, the child howled because I do not know how to cope. Cope with what? The suffering. What suffering? The suffering of others, why do they hurt when they love. They pain is there for their learning my dear, so they can grow. But I love, and I do not suffer, I feel guilty that I do not. You feel guilty that you love? Yes, I love without pain; I feel joy. "Oh child, this is your gift." 

The Shaman chanted for my Innocence to return to me. As she did this I felt a great lightness come over me and my closed eyes filled with a bright pink light. Then her chanting slowed as she started to ground me. She asked her guides to join her in a prayer, a prayer that this reunion is fostered and that I am able to see signs that there has been a shift as time goes on. 


She said I don’t have to repeat this cycle anymore. I do not have to feel guilty for feeling happiness, joy and love. I can do so with childlike abandon.  It has been healed.

I do not have to seek out partners who are suffering or broken so that the cycle of guilt is repeated. It had become a familiar, punishing habit. It has been healed.

She said now, I can truly embrace my simple happy existence and show love freely.

The trauma was my own, from not understanding my surroundings and not having the parental support to explain it to me as a child. My Dad always said I was his happy child. He must have known at some point I had lost it. 

February 11, 2016

The Outstanding Directors Award ~ February 1, 2016 @ The Arlington Theater

No Fleeting Wisp of Glory

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival had the honor of hosting all five Oscar nominated directors at the Outstanding Directors Award tribute this year, creating a scene akin to Camelot’s own  Knights of the Round Table.

Film Festival director Roger Durling admitted to being giddy in the presence of these great men. “Look,” he exclaimed, “my palms are sweaty!” Durling quickly introduced the night’s moderator, Hollywood Reporter’s own Scott Feinberg to take over the stage.

The movies directed by the night’s honorees ranged from the hardship of the uncharted wilderness in America during the 1800s, to the experience of a boy growing up in the small confines of a room.  Movies so different, you get a unique experience from each one. As director Alejandro Inarritu said, “There are moments from each that you keep reflecting on after.”

Lenny Abrahamson was being recognized for Room, a movie about a woman held captive with her five year old son in a small room until they finally gain their freedom. Abrahamson had to shoot in an actual 11 X 11 room with no walls removed for filming. “I had to lie flat in the tub during shooting so that I could not be seen,” he described. It was necessary to keep the authenticity of the situation and highlighted the courage of this mother to give her child the chance to have a real childhood under dire circumstances.

Moving from a small room to the great outdoors brought us to Alejandro Inarritu’s film The Revenant. The film was shot outside, where Inarritu believed the physicality of the experience helped enhance the performances of the actors.  “They didn’t pretend to be cold, they were cold,” he explained, “good actors react.” The film was also shot in natural light, which Inarritu believes is a director’s best ally.

And where do you go from the frontier? To church of course. Tom McCarthy explores the investigation of allegations against priests of the Catholic Church in the film Spotlight. McCarthy and his crew traveled to Boston and did more investigation of their own, and took what they learned into the film. He was excited to have a great cast that were able to portray real people and give life to this important story , one that has had real world impact. The film was screened at the Vatican and further investigations are underway.

So far the night’s films have covered frontier life, life in captivity, and misdeeds of priests, so how about some finance now? In the film The Big Short, director Adam McKay brings Michael Lewis’s book to the big screen. “I knew half way through the book that it needed to be a movie.” McKay states, “I had to open the story up to the audience.” Known more for comedy than drama, McKay mixed the two in his portrayal of the story, which also included a star-studded cast who not only got the story, but were not worried about their image. According to McKay, they story isn’t a right wing / left wing one, everyone in 2008 lost their homes and savings.  “The end message,” proclaimed McKay, “Don’t vote for politicians that take money from banks.”              

To end the night, Feinberg made the biggest leap of all – to the Citadel. George Miller’s film, Mad Max, follows apocalypse survivors fleeing the Citadel across the desert. It is as big as a film gets, with major special effects and massive chase scenes. Miller claims the key to the movie’s success lies entirely with the team amassed to create the film. “It is critical to get the right team together, like a band,” attested Miller. “If something went wrong, it would go horribly wrong.”     

As the night closed and the directors collected in a group with Feinberg, it was definitely a stage filled with greatness. Yet with all the accolades and box office success these men had this year, all five were quite gracious and humble still, with McCarthy quipping, “I’m honored, but it’s been going on too long.” I guess its hard being a legend.

February 6, 2016

The Virtuosos Award ~ February 6, 2016 @ The Arlington Theater

 Hello, Nice To Know You

The red carpet is a strange place. Normally experienced from the perspective of the observer as a glamorous affair, the actual process is quite tedious. Actors, directors, and writers are herded down an assembly line of photographers and writers to pose for a million bright flashes of lights and stop for some idle chit-chat. For the first-timers it may appear thrilling, like they have finally ‘made it.’ Yet for veteran actors, it seems like just another part of the job.

That is what makes the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award so appealing. This award is given for break through performances of lesser known actors. These actors are either being recognized for an outstanding first performance, or are finally being recognized after years of work. “A break through moment can happen at any point of your life or career,” proclaimed the night’s moderator, entertainment writer Dave Carter.

The night acknowledged seven such outstanding actors, no small feat to fit into a two hour ceremony. According to Leonard Maltin, it is the equivalent to speed dating. To fit it all in while being diplomatic, Carter brought each award recipient on stage by alphabetical order of last names for a solo interviews. 

Elizabeth Banks, with over 15 years in the biz, was first to be interviewed. Acknowledged for her role in Love & Mercy, the
true-life story about Beach Boy Brian Wilson, Banks admitted she loved the love story. “I loved falling in love. I’ve only done it one other time in a film – in Zach & Miri Make a Porno.”  This was said with great comedic effect, a trait Banks is so well known for. Banks was quickly followed by Paul Dano, who also starred in Love & Mercy as the young Brian Wilson. Per instructions of the film’s director Bill Pohlad, Dano did not confer with John Cusack whom played the older Brian, nor did he meet Brian Wilson until he had sufficiently researched the character and his illness. “I learned so much,” recognized Dano, “I really wanted to protect the character.” 

Tribute Joel Edgerton’s interview was prerecorded due to his receiving another award that night in Los Angeles. Being acknowledge for his role in Black Mass, the Australian born actor admitted that perfecting a Boston accent was difficult, and contributed his success as much to his dialect coach as to his make-up crew.

First time actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. confidently followed. Not only was Jackson given the task of playing his father in a film
written about his father, but the film was also produced by his father – legendary Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton. “[My father] said he needed me,” Jackson disclosed, “and that’s all I needed to know.”  Although Jackson confessed he had some doubt, “After two years of auditioning to play your own father – you get some doubt.” When asked about the lack of diversity in the nominations of best actor at the Oscars, Jackson said it was nothing to dwell on, “It was more about best picture for my father – for the family legacy.”

Following the alphabet, Hungarian actor Geza Rohrig was next, honored for his role in Son of Saul, a Hungarian film set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. The film follows Rohrig’s character for two weeks in the camp, focusing on his face with most of the background blurred out, which was a challenge for the actor.

The youngest of the tributes was 9 year old actor Jacob
Tremblay from the film Room. A drama with a heavy plot line, the actor said it was easy for a kid to watch, “It is worse for a mom than a kid. A kid is like – oh whatever.” Easily charming the audience, Tremblay was endearingly honest and thoughtful in his responses to Carter’s careful directed questions.

Alicia Vikander was the last actor honor at the tribute, but only because of the alphabetical order. Honored for two films, the Swedish dancer demonstrated a range in her acting ability, playing a sly robot in Ex Machina, and the wife to a transgender husband in the true story The Danish Girl. Vikander relied on her dance training in her portrayal of both characters, believing that movement gives them life. 

After the solo interviews, Carter brought all tributes onto the stage for a round of questions. There were no egos involved as each actor showed respect and fondness for each other – especially the young Jacob. Leonard Maltin emerged on stage as the time came to hand out the awards. Each accepted graciously, without speeches or shout-outs. “It is a privilege to introduce someone we didn’t know a year or two ago,” proclaimed Maltin. But we know them now. 

Photos by Art Fisher.