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Day Three: Cologne

Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Dave!This entry will be trimmed down quite a bit from what I was originally planning. Partly because I have something I wrote earlier that I want to post (in an extended entry), partly because I was tied up with a lot more work than usual, but mostly because it's 1:30am and I have to get up early tomorrow for work.

So here I am in Cologne, home of the world's largest candy and biscuit (cookie) show. Though, since exhibitors are down 25% and attendees are down 30%, that's not quite as true as it once was. Hopefully the show will rebound as the economy improves (hah! fingers crossed), because it would be a shame to see it die off like so many trade shows have done in recent years.

If you're interested, here are my notes from 2005 and here are my notes from 2007 and here's my notes from 2008, but now it's 2009, and here are some of the cool things I saw...

Monkey Chocolates

MONKEYS! I usually find quite a few monkey-based candies at the show, but this year the only new one I found was a display model for some kind of chocolate association. It's a pretty good-looking monkey compared to the scarier monkeys I've seen in past years, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

Sexy Christmas Advent Calendar

STRIPPERS! Here's a way to FINALLY celebrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas... strippers! They could have just had babes standing around in sexy Santa costumes on this advent calendar, but they went the extra mile and included a stripper pole. Genius. And oh so symbolic... I mean, is that supposed to be the North Pole?

Flashing Pirate Pop Candies

PIRATES! And now for something totally fantastic... FLASHING PIRATE POPS!! As if having a pirate-themed candy pop wasn't already cool enough, these sweet tributes to awesomeness also have flashing lights in them! I so totally want to buy a set. I couldn't find out where to locate a retailer, so if anybody ever finds them for sale, PLEASE let me know so I can get them!

Tennis Balls Candies

BALLS! There are plenty of candies here that are simply called "BALLS!" but there's only one I've found that lives up to the name, and that's these little tennis balls candies. They're gum with a lemon liquid center of some kind. These are really well done, and the container they come in makes them look almost real... albeit at a much smaller scale.

Pooh Mini Plush

POOH! Most of the time, the tiny plush giveaway toys that they put in candy boxes are pretty heinous. So imagine my surprise when I saw a tiny Winnie The Pooh plush that actually looked good! Sweet.

Emperor Palpatine and R2D2 PEZ

Yoda and Chewbacca PEZ

PEZ!!! Saving the best for last, I was amazed at the detailing that they managed to get in these super-awesome Star Wars PEZ dispensers. Frickin' sweet! PEZ dispensers not only perform the necessary and critical function of storing and dispensing PEZ candies, but they are total works of art as well. Equally amazing were the new toys made for the upcoming Monsters Vs. Aliens film Dreamworks is releasing...

Monsters Vs. Aliens PEZ

PEZ may very well be the planet's most perfect creation. CANDY AND A TOY... TOGETHER!!! Genius.

Panda Attack!

PANDA!!! And what would the ISM show be without a bear attack? Last year I was almost killed when two ferocious bears were let loose to roam the show, this year I was very nearly mauled by a giant panda. Taken by surprise, I screamed "GAH! PANDA ATTACK!!! and threw a woman from a nearby booth in its path so I could escape with my life. Anybody who envies my traveling to exotic locations around the world and attending awesome candy shows would do well to remember this. My job isn't all fun-and-games... sometimes it's the most dangerous job on earth. I consider myself very lucky to have survived this long.

After I had survived another day and finished up with work, I walked to the train station so I could cross back over the river to "home." For the most part, I find Deutsch Bahn (German trains) to be timely, efficient, economical, relatively clean, and a good way to travel. So imagine my shock when I saw that some asshole had totally painted over my ride with silver paint! One of the best things about traveling by train is being able to look out the windows, but now that small pleasure would be taken from me...

Painted Train

WTF?!? If you're going to deface a train with graffiti, at least be respectful of the people who have to ride in it! And it's not even very interesting artwork! Plain silver? What kind of statement is that? Sad.

After dropping my work crap off at my hotel, it was time to head to my favorite place for eats in Cologne... POMMES DE LUXE!!!

Pommes de Luxe Sign

They take thick-cut potatoes, fry them up until they're golden brown, then drench them in awesome toppings. Most people go for gravy, but I loves me the mayonnaise...

Mayo Drenched Potatoes

A delicious way to end my day before having to catch up with the work that's just waking up back in the real world.

And speaking of the real world...

IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTIAN BALE

Christian Bale is one of those actors that kind of slid under the radar for a number of years... at least from what I can remember. I had seen him in American Psycho and thought he was pretty amazing, but then wrote him off as he slogged through films like Shaft and Reign of Fire. Then along came great stuff like Batman Begins, The Prestige, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Dark Knight and suddenly Bale was hard to ignore. The guy has remarkable acting talent, and can somehow inhabit a character in a way that elevates any work he takes on.

The ultimate proof of this would be in The Dark Knight, where he has to appear with some of the most amazing actors ever to grace the silver screen... Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Aaron Eckhart (who is so underrated in his genius that it's criminal)... not to mention the mind-shattering artistry that is Heath Ledgers interpretation of The Joker.

Bale is dropped into scene after scene with total acting brilliance, but does not fade. He holds his own at every turn, whether it's the cool playboy facade that's Bruce Wayne or the mysterious animalistic grittiness that's The Batman. I don't think people appreciate what a difficult task this is. In my humble opinion, he doesn't make a single misstep. There are those who argue the gruff voice he uses as Batman is annoying, but I completely disagree. Bale was given the thankless task of making Batman unrecognizable from Bruce Wayne to sell the idea of his having a "secret identity" and he did just that. When he's Batman, Bale is not only unrecognizable as Bruce Wayne... he approaches being unrecognizable as human. Bale "gets it." He nails the character in a way that has never been seen before. Not with Michael Keaton (whose Batman seemed to be gravely overshadowed by everything else in the film), not with Val Kilmer (who actually managed to make Batman boring), not with George Clooney (who, with assistance from hack-director Joel Schumacher, turned the character into a bigger joke than Adam West ever did), and definitely not Adam West (who, through no fault of his own, was forced to play a character that was not Batman, but some kind of parody).

I am a huge, huge, huge, Batman fan (since birth!) and can honestly say that Christian Bale is the only actor who has even come close to doing the character justice outside the source material. So when I continuously see Bale shoved aside as people are (rightly) praising Heath Ledger's take on The Joker, I think it's unfair. Any Batman movie is ultimately going to succeed or fail because Batman succeeds or fails, and I think Bale should be getting some credit for the amazing work he's done in bringing the character to life on-screen.

But there's always a price to pay.

Christian Bale is becoming well-known as a hot-head on set by being very demanding of maintaining an environment that he can perform in. He's a perfectionist who doesn't tolerate fuck-ups, and gets nailed to the wall for coming unglued because he gets frustrated that other people don't seem to take his work as seriously as he does. Because of this, he's regularly labeled an arrogant asshole, total bastard, or a prima-donna psychopath. All of which is undoubtedly true.

And I can totally relate.

The only difference being that I don't have the luxury of going ballistic and demanding that people stop being fuck-ups. Because, believe me, I would if I could. If I was able to get away with going postal on the dumbasses I have to deal with on a daily basis, I would make Christian Bale look like an altar boy. And here's the point I'm trying to make... I think most people would. But most people are not shouldered with the burden of being the fulcrum on which millions of dollars are made or lost, so it becomes far easier to be dismissive and label Bale a self-centered douchebag than admit to themselves that they might turn into raging assholes too... if they were able to get away with it.

So when I listen to the shocking audio posted over at TMZ where Christian Bale is freaking out because the Director of Photography is goofing off in his eyeline while he's trying to create a character in a scene, I am secretly jealous. Here is a man clearly living the dream of being an insane asshole when it suits him, and making no apologies for it. Sure he could take the approach of actors like Samuel L. Jackson, who is legendary for being a nice guy on set and a coveted actor to work with because he's remarkably talented and a consummate gentleman, but Bale is of a different mind-set entirely, and I'm okay with that because the end results are worth it.

When I see Christian Bale in a movie, I don't care that it might have taken a psychotic episode to get there... I'm just glad to be enjoying the show and getting my money's worth for a change.

But most of all I'm just happy to finally have a Batman movie with Batman actually in it.


Categories: Travel 2009Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. Sybil Law says:

    I agree with you about Christian Bale, or any great actor for that matter. I mean, let the people do what they need to do! They’re the star – do your damn camera job! Or whatever. I mean, there are limits, but if the finished product is amazing, and makes millions happy and millions of dollars for the investors, then so be it.
    If I said everything i wanted to say, damn – I just can’t even imagine!
    And I want Star War Pez.

  2. claire says:

    Having worked in film for many years, I completely disagree with your take on Christian Bale’s highly unprofessional tirade. From what I could make out in the background of the recording, it sounds like the DP was not “goofing off” as you say, but assessing the light and taking readings which is his job. When you’re trying to shoot a lot in a day, you make up time where you can or you cut shots or go into overtime which pisses off the people who actually hired you. A bitchy famous actor just puts a DP between a rock and hard place.

  3. Eric says:

    I agree that Bale’s performance is good in The Dark Knight, and I can relate to his perfectionism. But what do you make of the reports of his violence with his own family? (Something came out quite a few months ago about some domestic abuse with is mother and sister I think….) His outburst with his coworkers is just symptomatic of a deeper anger-management issue. Do you really excuse that?

  4. B.E. Earl says:

    Totally agree. Bale nails Batman in every aspect. Some find his gravelly voice as Batman distracting, but of course he would try to disguise it. And sound menacing.

  5. Dave2 says:

    Sybil… Exactly! He’s a psychotic asshole, and people know this when they hire him! People who complain are just jealous that they can’t be psychotic assholes at their job!

    Claire… You disagree? So you don’t think he’s a psychotic asshole?

    Eric… I think he’s a psychotic asshole for verbally abusing his mother and sister… even if the charges were ultimately dismissed.

    B.E. Earl… Word. Batman is a psychotic asshole in the comics, and Bale somehow manages to capture that on screen. Probably because he’s a psychotic asshole. It’s genius, really.

    Vahid… Yep, The Machinist was amazing. I read somewhere that he was so dedicated to his role that he lost 65 pounds in four months, or something like that. Only a psychotic asshole could be crazy enough to risk his health for a part in the movie like that.

  6. Iron Fist says:

    Even in the super campy “Shaft” I thought he did a great job of being a villain you loved to hate. I remember that was the only thing I’d seen him in until “The Machinist” years later and I remember thinking, “dude, you need to do more movies, because you have got it.”

    If you haven’t seen “The Machinist” I recommend it.

  7. Kailey says:

    I wouldn’t want to work with a psychotic asshole, but I must admit Bale is a psychotic asshole who is damn good at his job.

    I want a cute chocolate monkey. Make that 500 cute chocolate monkeys actually… I’ll even save you from a panda as payment.

  8. Lexxie says:

    #1: I LOVE mayo and fries!
    #2: We sold a 5 piece set of Star Wars Pez at my store for Christmas this past year. lol.

  9. Dave2 says:

    Kailey… See, it’s easy to appreciate his psychotic asshole genius when you don’t have to work with him… that’s all I’m saying. :-)

    Lexxie… #1: Then you would love Pommes De Luxe! #2: Did it have Emperor Palpatine in it?!? I wants me the Emperor Palpatine PEZ!!

  10. Penelope says:

    I am starving and that pic of the chips & mayo is making me drool all over my laptop!

  11. Avitable says:

    I agree with you. And I want to eat your fries.

  12. Mmmm… those fries look yummy!

  13. karla says:

    When i hear of an actor who is an asshole, it removes some of my enjoyment of their performances. Like, Russell Crowe? he has this rule that you can’t touch him, talk to him or look at him if you are a handler for him at a public appearance (I worked at a film conference so know this first hand). Since then I really just don’t want to see him in movies because i think people like that don’t deserve my attention or support financially. There are plenty of NICE actors who are human beings and not self involved pricks.

    Acting isn’t THAT hard that you have to behave that way. Just isn’t. He’s lucky to have his job. How many people want to be where he is? And i bet at least some off those could do just as well.

    I don’t think there is ever an excuse to be an asshole to another person unless they are being patently rude to you first…even if you are talented at what you do.

    Now gimme your damn fries.

  14. Sinjin says:

    Wow, that’s a stripped-down post? Where to start… oh, duh, Pommmes! I’d like them with a nice Curry-Wurst… and PIRATE POPS!! Must plunder them for me crew. And a dozen monkeys, they are cute, overall the quality level seems to be up this year. I could have used a stripper xmas 6 weeks ago…

    As for Bale, I need to see more of his work, get more info… but my ex-gf looooved him, and perhaps her ending up with a psychotic asshole would be poetic justice. Or maybe I just need more Pez in my life.

  15. ~beth says:

    Watched the Bale tangent. Psychotic? Perhaps. Asshole? Quite obviously. Genius? Undeniably.

    Am now searching web to purchase freaking awesome Star Wars pez dispensers starting …. 3-2-1 … NOW!

  16. kilax says:

    Have you seen those Star Trek pez? I saw a set around Christmas – I think it had 8 characters from the original show. It was pretty funny.

    I heard the Bale audio this morning on the radio and it didn’t change my opinion of him at all. I still like him. But I don’t have to work with him ;)

  17. Twinkie says:

    I feel the same way about Robert Downey Jr. Because he is a genius actor, I am willing to forgive everything he’s ever done that made it to the tabloids.

    One thing I am unable to forgive however is… MAYONNAISE ON YOUR FRENCH FRIES?????? LOL

    Actually my Oklahoma cousin does that and she claims it’s an “Okie” thing. I’ll have to tell her she’s incorrect.

  18. Foo says:

    Totally agree with you and I’m so all over Monsters Vs. Aliens Pez. Thanks for the preview :o)

  19. I love mayo on fries. Yummy! I haven’t had them since I was much younger though. In Belgium I think on a school trip.

  20. Donna says:

    Dave, you didn’t mention Christian Bale’s performance in the Machinist, that was truly amazing what sacrifices he made for that role! He starved himself down to 120 lbs for that movie, and actually wanted to get down to 100. He truly is a perfectionist.

  21. Shannon says:

    Candy, yum! I hate mayo in most cases, so your potatoes are safe from me.

    On Bale:

    Have you ever seen Equilibrium? It was the first movie I ever saw with him and I love it. It’s sort of a post-apocalyptic attempted utopia film.

    And yeah, maybe he got overly angry, but someone crossed into his line-of-sight that new they shouldn’t. And you KNOW they knew he was a psychotic asshole that would go apeshit. The DP was asking for it!

  22. Ren says:

    Man those fries look good. I wonder if they have one of those places in Oldenburg.

    Regarding the Bale issue, as I recall from when I listened to the audio earlier, he clarifies at one point that this was the second time that DP had distracted him. I at least give him the benefit of the doubt that he had said something less toxic the first time. I’m not sure that justifies the tirade, but it is worth considering.

  23. Michelle says:

    That candy looked soooo good. Then you had to ruin it by showing a pic of mayonnaise on fries. I completely lost my appetite…. well maybe I could eat just one of those monkeys.

  24. I officially declare that if I were not married, I would be chasing after you. THANK YOU for your Christian Bale defense. I have been a fan of his since the early 90’s and I am so glad someone else also sees the talent I saw so many years ago!

    yeah, I still have the crush on you Dave, and now it’s even more substantial! you are one lucky guy that I’m already taken! hehe

    Also, even if Bale is an asshole, I still love him. As an actor, I can relate to his frustrations. I’ve never done film, but live theatre can be just as frustrating when people behind the scenes are being disrespectful and ruining your focus. As a drama queen myself I’ve goe off on some stage hands and tech people for messing around during rehearsals and such. what people don’t realize is the circumstances for his anger, they only see the result of it. I am willing to bet he was justified in his anger.

  25. Greeneyezz says:

    Have I told you yet that Avitable ruined Mayo for me???

    Before that, Those Fries with Mayo would have made my mouth water.

    :)

  26. What a FUN DAY!! Those candies and pez and monkeys and toys look so fun! Wow!!

    Topped off with those fries… mmmmmm… Jealous!

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