Happy St. Patrick’s Day

logo for happy saint patricks day

A toast from me to you -- Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Beware the leprechauns!!

Time is flying by on Spring Break. Either too much stuff to do, or perhaps too little, since I’m not really doing any homework. But, nonetheless, It’s time to bring on the blarney charm and write something cool about St. Patricks Day.

man from Pierre dressed in green outfit for st pats day

A very festive Pierre resident bringing on the St. Paddy's Day spirit at Bob's Lounge in Pierre, S.D. This gentlemen dyes his beard each year for this occasion.

It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, you know dressing up in green, pinching people and consuming mass volumes of green beer. I think one the coolest moms on Earth put it so succinctly one year during a session of the South Dakota Senate. I can’t remember what she said verbatim, but state Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry, D-Watertown, told members of the senate “Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” and if she could pass along a tradition to the state legislature, St. Patrick’s Day would be a day to take off from work. Her kids, Seamus and Liam Culhane, were allowed to play hookey on St. Patrick’s Day, since birth — my sentiments precisely. As of right now, my brain has now checked “out” and is now off-duty. (OK, lemme finish my blog first. BTW, I post every WEDNESDAY, so come back here.)

portrait of South Dakota senator nancy turbak berry

South Dakota state Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry, D-Watertown

Adria Johnson serves green beer

Adria Johnson brings heavy pitchers of green beer to her bar patrons at the bar formerly known as Mitch's GrandStan in Pierre, S.D., March 17, 2007.

Let me digress now on the past three St. Paddy’s Day memoirs. Hmm. In 2009, I was traveling thru the small town of Pierre, S.D. It was only a year earlier the honorable senator made her remark about her family tradition. I was still living in Pierre, a political reporter at the Capital Journal, back then, but last year I believe I was heading back west to New Mexico, after working a few odd jobs in New York, and Michigan. Pierre has a lovely tradition of having a parade and bringing the whole town together to celebrate…. it was the first time I saw Pierre’s new mayor, Laurie Gill, waving to the crowd on the city float. It was chilly that day. Me and this little rascal; a kid of about 10 years old standing next to me, started being very competitive about gathering the candy being thrown around us. We bumped heads, literally, several times diving for Lemonheads and Everlasting Gobstoppers. The final laugh for the little squirt was me chomping down on a very piece of hard candy. A premolar that was losing life slowly all of sudden succombed to the candy and broke; nearly in half. OMG! Pain could not be measured on a scale of 1 to 10. Perhaps, 25, or 40 would be where I was on that 10 scale.

Dan Myers and Adam wearing goggles

Adam sporting fashionable St. Patty's Day mega glasses and Dan Myers at the Silver Spur Saloon in Fort Pierre. This bar is only opened one day a year to keep it's liquor license (valued over $100,000) alive.

Luckily, that’s where green beer comes in. And, Irish Car Bombs. Oh those people in Pierre. I think this was the third year I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Pierre. So to you my fellow Pierrites (or Pierronians, or whatever), I raise my Molson Ice (dyed green with food coloring just a second ago), to Dean Peterson, Dan Myers, Jen Neely, Jen “who throws bugs at Crystal L.” Cannes, Laz Szomor, Christopher “Shakespeare” Webb, Sheila and Gina, Jeff Bunn, Kent Anderson, and the rest of you mofos out there that I failed to mention — the best to all of you. What is St. Paddy’s Day without you? Geez. How depressing.

Laz, Dean and Chris

We can probably call these hooligans the Rat Pack of Pierre. From left, Laz Szomor, Dean Peterson and Chris Webb.

Let’s not forget about the mystical Irish creature who guards the pot of gold on this day. They are alive and well in Pierre… near the waters of the Missouri River, in and around La Framboise Island. I’ve heard the call of the leprechaun. Dean and I sent Chris Webb on his merry way to locate the bizarre creatures… he instead lassoed in a girl from the ruff. Oops, you know who you are… hehah. Just seeing if you’re reading my blog. Be thankful, I didn’t mention names here. Because, it was an amusing night. Anyway, they hang out in the dark shadows guarding their beloved treasure. They’re troll-like things — LEPRECHAUNS… scarey!

Bob's Lounge in Pierre

A look at Bob's Lounge on March 17, 2007, in Pierre, S.D. If you look closely at the sidewalk in front of the bar, you'll see a freshly painted shamrock. Cheers!

Well, enough of my musings of St. Patricks Day. My agenda for this afternoon is to see the holiday parade downtown Cleveland. It won’t be the same as Pierre, but it’ll have to suffice for now. Oh yeah, cheers to Bob’s Lounge in Pierre, as they repaint the green Shamrock on the sidewalk out front — a once a year festivity.

Bronson Peshlakai on St. Pats day 2007

Bronson Peshlakai, your's truly, wearing no flair for the St. Patrick's Day holiday in Pierre, S.D., 2007. I'm ready this year baby.

I’ve got my Kelly Green Polo shirt ready, as well as some Paddy’s Day trinkets that blink and stuff. Stopping for a bit of holiday merriment after the parade is almost a certainty. I was planning to celebrate this day in New York City, but other plans have creeped up last minute. This evening, I’ll mosey my way to Little Italy (Cleveland, not New York) to the Holy Rosary Cathedral to begin rehearsals for Easter services coming up in a few weeks. Let’s hope I don’t get caught up seeking an imaginery pot of gold by means of metabolizing ethanol molecules tinged with green dye.

Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day!!!


Behind-the-scenes look at a “MacGruber” filming location

Bronson and Will Forte as MacGruber

Me, Bronson Peshlakai, standing along side with Will Forte, dressed as MacGruber, near a Santa Fe, N.M., filming location.

EDITORS NOTE: This is Part Two of a Two-part series about the upcoming movie “MacGruber” This article, or casual conversation, tells what it was like filming a short part of this movie near Sante Fe, N.M. Part One explained MacGruber’s synopsis and change in release date. That blog entry can be seen below this entry.

By Bronson Peshlakai

SANTE FE, N.M. — The air was crisp on a brisk August morning. I arrived to the historic El Rancho de las Golondrinos, near Sante Fe, to shoot my first feature film. I left home that morning at 2 a.m. to meet a casting call at 6. My first big movie. I walked thru the gates onto the ancient grounds, ready for my big debut…

OK, enough of literary redundant prose.

This is my account of being an extra on the set of “MacGruber.”

So, I arrived on location, not sure what to expect. I kind of aimlessly walked into the historical museum site I was supposed to report to. I went straight toward an RV stand that had spigots sticking out for coffee, orange juice and water. This was the place for me. I custom ordered an omelette, sausage and grits from this RV that was labeled “Hollywood Catering.” I guess this is where I start my journey as an extras cast member. I thought my stomach was full, but it really had butterflies flying around.

It was now 6:45, a full stomach, and I still didn’t know what the hell I was doing, or where to go. Prior to this moment, I thought I had my casting part down, a local Native American pretending to be a Peruvian.

Finally, someone started directing extras to a special area. There were only about 13 of us adult extras, the rest of the people eating breakfast were crew for the movie.

Bronson standing outside dressing room

Bronson Peshlakai in custom as a Peruvian villager standing outside my wardrobe changing room on location.

At last, we all were herded over to a series of RV trailers situated with at least seven doors each; each displaying a yellow star on the door. These were changing quarters for the actors and actresses. After being issued my wardrobe for my part as a Peruvian villager, I stepped into my private quarters to change… private for the next 15 minutes, at least.

Bronson in costume

Just got dressed in Peruvian villager costume and took a picture on cell phone

Wow. Fashion faux pas, or what. Is this what people in Peru dress like? My next stop was makeup. I wasn’t meant to look pretty, so makeup artists dabbed my face with blotches of dark color, like I was smudged up from working on a donkey-driven wagon’s oiled joints. My pristene clothing, that had TJ Maxx and Platos Closet tags, were intentionally scuffed up by special scuffing makeup.

Next was hair. They gobbed on greasy stuff and threw on a hat (fedora) — now, I’m ready for the camera.

Wow. Really?? That’s it? I started walking back to the holding area to wait my next orders. I passed an older man dressed very dapper as an Army General, or something.

The other extras started filing in. We did look quite South American. Most of us were Navajos, Aztecs and Pueblo Natives, dressed as if we just descended from Matchu Pitchu, or something. Frankly, we looked like unauthentic culture vultures of the third kind in an alien world of multiple lighting fixtures the size of 20-gallon fish tanks and thick electrical and camera cords to last a miles.

Courtyard filming location

A crazy look at the courtyard we filmed in

At about 9 a.m., we were led to a historic Spanish architecture stone church, with Adobe style walls forming a courtyard. On the way there I spotted another Army-dressed character puffing away on a cigarette. Was that him? Shorter than I thought, but it was — Ryan Phillippe. Or, Sebastian, as I’ve always type-casted him, from “Cruel Intentions.” The day just got more exciting after seeing one of the big screen names, in his own reality. A person, ready to act.. just smoking a cigarette and prepping himself to be an Army Leiutenant.

Within the stone-clay walls of the church courtyard was a historic village. About five or six portals, or entryways, looked like storefronts, or homes. The “Native Peruvians,” us extra cast members, were scattered about the courtyard. Some sweeping, others carrying about a normal day, like exchanging fruits for gardening tools, or carrying large water jugs. I initially was given the job of sweeping in the corner of the small village. Totally, not noticeable, I thought. So, during rehearsals, or blocking, which meant us trying to make our social interaction in this courtyard as authentic as possible, I ended picking up a basket of fruit and walking across the center courtyard to a merchant on the other side. (No one told me to do this, I just thought… I HATE sweeping!) And, that ended up being my role. Walking from one side of the courtyard to the other… RIGHT DOWN THE CENTER… pass the Main Entrance into our little courtyard.

A screen shot from MacGruber

MacGruber's team ready to take some action

Ryan Phillippe, or as his character is called, Lt. Dixon Piper, and his superior, the “General” drove up to the main village entrance in an old green military Jeep. They walk into the courtyard. Dixon says, “are you sure we can trust this guy,” or something to that effect talking about MacGruber, the MacGyver spoof character. The General says, “he is the best we got.” They pause in the middle of the courtyard. ME, or my village character, then walks right past them carrying some cantelope and other fruit. CUT. The directors (assistand director, the assistant to the assisstant to the director, and the background director) like this blocking for fliming.

Now, two digital cinemagraphic film cameras are shooting this same scene over an over again. I’m the one walking right by Phillippe and the General each and everytime. (I have to be in the movie during this scene.)

The last take of this scene was the SteadiCam film camera walking into the entrance of the courtyard… a “Point Of View” sequence. The extras did as they usually did, except there were no actors, just that one camera that captured us walking about. There I am, front and center walking in the center courtyard and looking toward the entrance at “the intruders into our village” kinda look… My face was like, “who the hell are they”, as I slowed my walk and became guarded. (I should win an emmy for that pose!) LOL

That was the end of most of the scenes I worked on. It was almost noon by this time. It was very interesting to see the FX people lighting smoke containers around the courtyard, to imitate fires, or ovens cooking. The smoke emanated from burning beeswax. Very realistic. It smelled like being incensed in a Catholic Church.

Lunch came next. Cast and crew went back to the holding area to eat. Ryan Phillippe was two people in front of me getting his grub from the buffet line. I wanted to say hello, or something… how lame. He took his food and left for his private trailer anyway. However, I sat next to a stunt double dressed just like MacGruber was, in his religious monk wardrobe.

Later, when filming action went inside the historic church, MacGruber sat meditating; sitting in a lotus position. This is where the stunt double took over and did an instantaneous flip thru the air into a standing position. The director did the take about six times, and the stunt double delivered flawlessly each time. His maneuver elicited applause each time from everyone watching. In the movie, this is where Dixon and the general find MacGruber and ask for his assistance in fighting the bad guy.

Toward the end of filming, around 8 p.m., the sun was going down. The director, Jorma Taccone seemed to be getting all the last minute shooting — making sure nothing was missed with continuity and other elements. Everyone was weary. Ryan Phillippe sat next to me and the other extras cast and we chit-chatted about how this was his first time filming in New Mexico. Cat had my tongue and we couldn’t talk about anything else. (Damn, I know I let people down)

Some overzealous person wearing casual wear and Nikes and sitting in one of about seven director-style chairs with “MacGruber” emblazened across the back, was inviting people over to an Albuquerque bar called Imbibe, located in the Nob Hill district. I thought I kind of recognized this guy, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Everyone seemed to be taking extra cordialness with him, and accepting his offer, and also making superficial jokes or forced conversation with him. Who was this guy?

When he finally got up to leave, the name “Lorne Michaels” was on the chair. Damn! I thought. I was sitting less than 6 feet away from him (his back toward me), but why didn’t I realize it. And say something. Another lost moment to savor. “Hi Lorne, I love SNL” Geez. What could I have said? It haunts me to this day.

Well. After 13 hours of filming and waiting around, I was exhausted. OH WAIT. I forgot to say, earlier in the day when me and another extras cast member were talking about Phillippe, and his wife Reese Witherspoon, I found out they had split up. Oops. A producer of the film overheard us and outrageously shushed us saying “don’t mention anything about Reese here. It will upset Ryan! No more talking of that, you hear?!” I was like damn, bitch. Seriously. I didn’t know. (Guess I lost the memo on that one.)

The day ended in jubilee. Directors, producers and actors were happy. I was happy I talked with Ryan, for about a minute. I also chatted with Will Forte, and got a picture with him. It’s one of my proudest moments of 2009. Thanks Will. You rock!!!

Background acting for this film was kind of grueling. I wasn’t in too many takes, but damn, it was about 100 degrees. Standing in the hot sun redoing takes and trying not to sweat profusely in restricting polyester clothing was difficult. Ryan Phillippe and the General wore full military dress greens (is that what you call the dress up uniform?) Suit coats, dress shirts and T-shirts, ALL day long. They were also caked with makeup. It seemed like they did not even sweat a bit. Wow. Kudos to them. It brings a whole new meaning to what actors endure in the elements, looking good and making the movie seem somewhat real.

As I close this, I’ve acted in a film in New York before. I had about eight pages of lines, playing a Native American trading post owner. We filmed for 16 hours on just those eight pages. It’s draining! The lights are hot; doing scenes over and over again; and being challenged eached time by the director to be someone else is extremely exhausting.

But, after doing the NYC movie, and MacGruber, PLUS, playing a supporting role in “CTRL+ALT+Delete” for the Pierre, S.D., Players, I love acting! I got the bug in me, and I’m ready for my next role. Bring it on, Hollywood, and move over Adam Beach… the next Native is moving up in the ranks.


(Adam. Put me in touch with your agent…)

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm  Comments (2)  

“MacGyver” Spoof rated ‘Hard-R’, “MacGruber” Keeps Mullet Alive

Movie starring Will Forte,
and me as an “extra,” has release date pushed back

“It’s kind of in the vein of, like, eighties action movies, like there’s a very definitive bad guy . . . The thing that kind of blew my mind about it is that it’s like a HARD-R movie.” Bill Hader, SNL Actor

EDITOR NOTE: This is part one of a two-part series about the release date and newly released trailer of MacGruber, a spoof of 80s TV show MacGyver. Part 2 being published at this site Thursday will give a behind-the-scenes look at a filming location near Santa Fe, N.M., in August, 2009.

Will Forte from Sat Nite Live

Will Forte standing near his car as MacGruber, in this first official photo release

By Bronson Peshlakai

CLEVELAND — With the Oscars a short memory away, a movie spoofing 80s TV show MacGyver is ready to make its first public appearance and its makers are hoping the crowd will savor for it the next awards.

  In just under six days, Relativity Media’s “MacGruber” is scheduled to play at the SXSW Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas.

  The film produced by Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels, among others, stars SNL actors Will Forte, as MacGruber, Kristen Wiig, Sam Elliott and Maya Rudolph. Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer also have starring roles in the film. Oh yeah, did I mention, I’m in the movie as a Peruvian villager? At least I was there during filming — we’ll see if I made the cutting room floor when the movie is released May 21, 2010.

SNL's Bill Hader

SNL Actor
Bill Hader

“I read the script, and it’s like a hard-R comedy, and it totally works. It’s hilarious,” SNL actor Bill Hader told New York Magazine. “It’s kind of in the vein of, like, eighties action movies, like there’s a very definitive bad guy. I don’t know if I can talk about the plot too much, but it’s hilarious. The thing that kind of blew my mind about it is that it’s like a HARD-R movie.”
  Industry critics and bloggers tout MacGruber of having coarse language and male nudity.

  When diabolical madman Deiter VanCunth aims to fire a missle at Washington DC, “only one American hero has earned the rank of Green Beret, Navy SEAL and Army” to save the day, an iMDB plot synopsis reads. “Just one operative has been awarded 16 purple hearts, two Congressional Medals of Honor and seven Presidential Medals of Bravery. And only one guy is man enough to still sport a mullet.”

Photo mug of the original MacGyver

Richard Dean Anderson

  The original MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson in the 1980s, who transformed gum and nitroglycerin pills into bombs, and had a solution to most predicaments using a Swiss Army knife and Duct Tape, seems to be the idea behind MacGruber, at least according to MacGyver producer Lee Zlotoff.

  Zlotoff reportedly had plans to adapt the 80s TV action show to the big screen and was considering filing a copyright or trademark lawsuit against MacGruber’s release in early February, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

  “We felt they’re infringing our rights,” Zlotoff’s lawyer, Paul Mayersohn, told The Hollywood Reporter.

  A call Tuesday to Mayersohn, of Surpin, Mayersohn and Edelstone, a Los Angeles law firm, confirmed that Mayersohn may still be looking into filing the injunction, but no details were given.

  The film was filmed in and around the Albuquerque, N.M., area in August and September, 2009.

MacGruber film location near Santa Fe, NM

El Rancho de las Golondrinas,
film location near Santa Fe, N.M.

  I was part of the filming cast as a background actor for scenes set at a Peruvian village, where MacGruber reclused himself at a monastery type venue for 10 years after his fiancee was killed. These scenes were filmed at El Rancho de las Golondrinas near La Cienega, N.M., about 15 miles southwest of Sante Fe. (More on filming day in Part 2 of this series on Thursday)

  After 13 hours of filming in August, I was told the release date for the movie was April 14, 2010, but the movie’s release has been pushed back to May 21, according to Universal Pictures. MacGruber is now expected to hit theaters along with “Shrek Forever After.”

  For a $475 film badge, MacGruber is being shown along with other movies at the SXSW Film Festival March 15 at 9:30 p.m. CDT, at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas.

  MacGruber is directed by Jorma Taccone, who also had a part in writing the movie.

Be sure to CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW, for Part 2 of this special series. Part 2 will include some pictures on set, and a first person point-of-view of the 13-hour day of filming with Ryan Phillippe, Will Forte and his sit-to-stand flipping stunt double.

A Navajo Marine Is Remembered

It’s always a sad feeling to hear news that another U.S. soldier is killed. But, when a soldier from your community is killed, shockwaves of reality hits you hard. LCpl. Alejandro Yazzie was a Marine fighting in Afghanistan when he was killed in action by sniper fire Feb 16, 2010. The young Marine joined the military just six months ago, and is now another statistic of life loss while in combat. Listed below are some links to click on to read more about Yazzie.

NPR Radio: A Burst of Gunfire, And a Marine Lost in Marjah 

NPR Reporter Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was embedded with marines as they were pushing the front line deeper into enemy territory in Afghanistan. This nine minute piece shows the tragic moment when sniper fire rained upon a group of marines. Soldiers yell out KIA, killed in action.

12 News: Navajo Marine Remembered
Phoenix NBC affiliate 12 News Reporter Andy Harvey was the only television journalist to interview LCpl. Alejandro Yazzie’s family in Rock Point, Ariz. The community located about 50 miles away NE of Chinle was mourning the loss of Yazzie. The family was initially guarded about talking to the media and sharing photos of their son. Harvey, a Navajo as well, convinced the family to open up and talk about the life of Alejandro.

Navajo Times: Afghanistan Offensive claims first Dine life

Navajo Times reporters Jan-Mikael Patterson and Erny Zah visited the remote Rock Point community and got community reaction in their piece. This story has reaction from Navajo President Dr. Joe Shirley Jr., who said Yazzie is the 11th soldier to be killed in action in the Middle East since Sept. 11, 2001.

Family members had a funeral for Yazzie at the Farmington, N.M., Civic Arena yesterday. 

According to iCasualties.org 1007 soldiers have been killed in action in around Afghanistan. This Web site has a comprehensive list of soldiers’ nationalities and which Afghanistan provinces has seen the most casualties.


Do you think U.S. troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq quicker than what The Pentagon plans for?