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Shameless Self-Promotion

THE REDDIT LINKS. PLEASE CLICK AND GIVE US AN UPVOTE

http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/2drf72/the_expendables_3_live_performance_in_toronto/

http://www.reddit.com/r/CanadianForces/comments/2drea6/got_out_of_the_army_last_summer_after_ten_years/

http://www.reddit.com/r/Dance/comments/2drfqj/though_primarily_a_dancer_i_got_hired_to_do_this/

http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/2drfsd/my_team_and_i_promoting_the_expendables_3_with_a/

Friends,

Yesterday while at my BG agency to pick up my cheques and pay commissions, I got into what ended up being a three-hour conversation with my agent, interrupted only by a coffee-run. While she has been very supportive of my principal acting projects and has watched me develop, she levied the criticism that I don’t promote myself well enough.

“Hmmm…” I mulled this over for a minute and determined that she is a master of understatement. In my own words, I chronically undersell myself, which can be a big no-no in the entertainment industry.

For whatever reason I have never tried to develop the self-promotion skill-set as I hang onto the naive belief that the work should speak for itself. That said, my agent’s words came at a time when I was faced with a serendipitous dilemma/opportunity. You see, last weekend I performed at Toronto’s Tast of the Danforth festival in a live-action show to promote The Expendables 3.

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Me, about to get knocked the f*&k out by Jet Li

And, just yesterday, the official video for the performance hit youtube. Due to all of the team members promoting it heavily, we blew past our day one target and are well on our way to hitting our day two marks. But I want MOAR!!!
So going beyond the traditional “share on facebook, and get your parents to click ‘like'” I have decided that I want us to go above and beyond with a full-court press consisting of the following strategies:

1) Reshare the shit out of it every day this weekend. Usually I share things only once and hope for the best. Not this time. Im cramming it down the throats of the people who made the unwise decision to friend me on social; media.
2) Tweeting celebs. I have never gone this route but I figured I would join the rest of the team in doing this because they can only ignore so many tweets that call them out personally.
3) Press release: This is foreign territory to me and I only got the idea from my marketing-savvy brother Adam, but it makes sense. Right now he is editing my draft and when its all said and done Im gonna submit it to certain publications and hope for the best.
4) This blog post. If you are a follower and you are reading this I ask that you click this link. Enjoy it. Like it. Share it. Repeat. xoxo
5)Co-ordinated Reddit push. I conceived of this last night and have been working to co-ordinate many team members who are not familiar with Reddit. But at 8pm Eastern time tonight we are going to be posting a link to the video to various subs in the hope of gaining some traction. We would love it if you could join in this push and I will be publishing the links to the various threads once they go live in just over an hour.

Ultimately, the way I reconcile myself to this whole process is avoiding self-deception and also the deception of others. I know a lot of people would call this spamming and I don’t deny this but I think I want to find out for myself what merits there are (or aren’t) to being your own biggest fan. And, at the end of the day, I console myself with the fact that we aren’t “shining up shit and calling it gold,” but rather we are making sure an entertaining video that we worked our asses off to make gets the exposure it deserves.

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Us…post-“asses being worked off”

Hope you like the video

Best,

-Andre Guantanamo

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Monday Night Martinis

My Friends,
   As I sit here getting more and more intoxicated, I find myself looking at old files on my computer to see if I can’t delete anything unnecessary.  I started with my catch-all “untitled folder” and I stumbled upon an .pages file entiled “08 Jan 2009 Mass Cas Statement.”  This file was the statement I was asked to write and submit by my commanding officer after a mass casualty event took place near the forward operating base I was stationed at in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2009.  I hadn’t read it in about three years and it was sobering in a way that I needed after all so much libations on a school night.
   I’m ready to share it, but I will qualify it by saying that if the text seems unemotional it is a reflection of the lack of emotion I felt during the event itself.

On 8 January 2009 I, Cpl. (My Name),  (My Service Number) was witness to and was involved in a mass casualty incident occurring in and around FOB Hutal in the Maywand district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan.  The following is my recollection of the events as they occurred.
At approximately 16:30 I had finished working out and was exiting the gym when a large explosion was heard.  Unsure of whether or not it was a controlled demolition, I observed for a few seconds until it became apparent that it was not in fact a controlled explosion.  This was indicated by American soldiers running to their vehicles and donning their FFO.  Lt. John Southen and I ran back from the gym and donned our FFO and made our way to the wall at the rear of our compound to defend the FOB.  The lieutenant instructed me to start the RG-31 and man the machine-gun.  A few minutes later the gun was ready and I was scanning my arcs.  It was at this point that the ANP started bringing in casualties from the village surrounding the FOB.  It quickly became apparent that there were more casualties than the on-site medics could adequately provide care for.  That being the case, MCpl. Ric Chiu and I were tasked to assist the American medics, being that both us are TCCC qualified.  It was approximately 16:50 when we began assisting the medics.  
The first casualty I assisted after donning my gloves was a local national.  Three Americans were trying to stop his bleeding while also removing his clothing.  Having shears, I helped remove his clothing and then upon instruction from an American medic applied Quickclot to the back of the casualty’s left leg just above the heel where there was a large amount of flesh and bone missing.  I handed off the Quickclot to one of the American medics who needed it at the top of the of the casualty’s body.  Then I was asked if I had a tourniquet.  When I pulled one out I was instructed to place it on the casualty’s right leg as he had blood loss below the knee. However another caregiver had already placed a tourniquet on the leg and had begun to tighten it so I ceased my application.  That casualty being adequately cared for I moved on to see who else needed assistance.  I moved around between casualties for a few minutes providing equipment to the first-aid givers as they needed it and then running back to the Canadian compound to retrieve more stretchers as they were needed.  
I assisted the caregivers of one casualty (Afghan) who had burns as well as lacerations and was evidently in a great deal of pain.  I held his legs in place while they were bandaged where bleeding and also helped to remove his clothing.  When he was bandaged I covered him with a blanket and moved on to then next casualty.  Many of the initial casualties were at this point ready to be put on the chopper when it arrived but we were running out of blankets to cover them with so I applied my solar blanket to one casualty who was nearly naked and shivering.  At about this time Lt. Southen came to the scene and asked how he could help so I asked if he could scrounge some blankets.  He managed to find several and none of the treated casualties were, to my recollection, left uncovered after that point.
I am not sure at what times each individual casualty load came in but I do remember checking my watch at 17:03 after I heard over our PRR’s that choppers had taken off from Camp Bastion at 17:01.  But several more casualties did show up prior to that chopper’s arrival and a many of them were children.  The first one I remember treating was a child I helped off of the ANP truck.  The child was quite conscious and told the interpreter that he was injured on his left thigh.  We laid him on a stretcher and I began removing his clothing.  I saw a puncture wound on the front of his thigh which, although deep, was not squirting blood so I began to assess other parts of his body to look for other injuries.  The child started protesting in Pashtun and the interpreter translated that the child was trying to say that that was the only place he was injured.  The child seemed quite lucid and alert so I proceeded to bandage up his wound using an Israeli dressing over a standard field dressing.  I was assisted in this by two Americans; one held the leg as I bandaged it and the other retrieved the first aid equipment I needed.  When the casualty’s leg was bandaged I attempted to look for other bleeding but the casualty assured me in Pashtun that he was fine and gave me the thumbs-up.  Again, in light of his wakefulness and alertness I judged he was fine and moved on to others whom I judged could use more help.  A lot of the help provided consisted of providing occupied caregivers equipment and assistance as needed but I began to notice things were getting cluttered with bodies strewn about haphazardly.  So I got Lt. Southen, MCpl. Chiu and an interpreter who was nearby and us four moved stable casualties to a position where they were out of the way and well-covered.  As well, I noticed there were treated casualties lying on the ground scant feet from unoccupied stretchers so I got some of the interpreters to help me by explaining to the casualties how we were going to manoeuvre them onto the stretchers.  This was done by turning the casualties onto their sides, placing the stretchers behind them and rolling the casualties onto them.  
As the choppers began to show up I told the interpreters to tell the casualties we were going to cover their heads so they would not get pelted by rocks when the Chinooks landed.  As the choppers landed I assisted in bearing the stretchers.  For my part, I helped carry three casualties over.  Earlier on however, we had received word that another load of casualties, primarily women and children was on its way into the FOB.  We were waiting for them to arrive for a time but it became clear that they weren’t about to show up.  
After the casualty-laden Chinooks left, two blackhawks landed and I noticed that the Americans had formed into two facing columns.  I realized this was probably their final salute to their comrades who had perished that day so MCpl. Chiu and I stood at attention with the Americans as the deceased were loaded onto the Blackhawks.  
After that procession MCpl. Chiu, Cpl. Yull, Cpl. Begin and I offered to help the medics clean up.  However, not long after that MCpl. Chiu and I were called back to the Canadian compound by Lt. Southen to defend the wall.  I relieved Cpl. Czop and was stationed at the wall for only about ten minutes before we were stood down.  We were stood down at approximately 18:50. 
The American medics were quite vocal in their gratitude for the Canadian assistance in treating the casualties.  

That’s the sort of 0-to-100 moment which is characteristic of my experiences overseas.  Shit is pretty chill until its not.  Now did I have the most extreme and traumatic of experiences?  No, and thankfully not.  Still, my commander saw fit to submit my statement and MCpl Chiu’s statement to higher along with his own observations.  The practical outcome of this initiative on my commander’s part was that MCpl Chiu and I were awarded “Chief of Defence Staff Commendations.”  In spite of my misgivings about war, it was/is an honour to have been recognized for life-saving efforts.  Nevertheless, I am humbled by the fact that there are those who have been pushed farther than I was and received no recognition at all.  
   Again, in spite of any misgivings I may have regarding modern warfare and the reasons it is fought, I am awed by the stories of unrecognized valour which I have heard.  May these stories keep being told, even if it only among the forces.  
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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LOL, Health-Care Fraud

My Friends,
   A week or two back I tweeted the following:

It’s not like I went into the hospital attempting to play devil’s advocate with this broad, but the small talk we were making got a little heated when I decided I felt some type of way about the way she was running her hospital.  I’ll give you the transcript of the conversation as I remember it.

Me: Hey, I’m here for a PFT (Pulmonary Function Test).
Clerk: Health Card Please
Me; (Handing paper-copy over) I only have this one because mine is getting replaced.
C: Oh good, you’re switching to a new one?
Me: Well, mine got stolen… (“Make a Little Somethin Out of Nothin,” 27 September 2011)
C: Oh, well did you have the green one or the red & white one?
Me: I had a green one
C: (Happy with this news) Those ones are better
Me: Yeah, but the other ones are good for your whole life though aren’t they?
C: Well yes, but I have a lot of problems with those ones when people use them at the hospital
Me: Oh…
C: We prefer photo ID.  We can prevent fraud that way.
Me: I like the idea of never having to renew the card
C: Well, we had a case last year of three people (immigrants) using the same card to have babies
Me: Awesome!
C: We’re a small hospital.  We can’t cover the costs of fraud on a large scale
Me: Well that’s a structural problem then with the system as a whole.  There’s no reason why anyone in the world shouldn’t have health-care.
C: (Visibly taken aback) Those people are costing you money by using your health-care that they don’t pay into
Me: I hear ya, its just that I can’t really get too upset about my fellow human beings getting a minimum standard of healthcare
C: Do you have a job? (implying, none too subtly, that she thought I must be a deadbeat as well)
Me: Yes, several
C: And that doesn’t bother you
Me: Not really, people need to get better
C: (Giving up on me) You can wait for your PFT in that lobby over there

  Now I don’t mean to unduly paint this clerk as an evil bitch, but when your job is to nickel and dime every patient that comes in its perfectly natural for you to start looking at human beings strictly in quantitative terms.  Nothing she was saying was logically wrong, but she was unmoved by basic human compassion which should transcend cold, hard, monetary logic, especially when you work…

IN A FUCKING HOSPITAL!!!

   Sorry for shouting.  I actually wasn’t mad from this exchange.  I rather felt a warm sensation that I had shown this woman a light which she caught only a brief and unsettling glimpse of before she turned away terrified and buried herself in the comfort and familiarity of hospital routine and bureaucracy.
   I sat and waited for my PFT.  The nurse informed me she was running a little late.  “No Problem.”  I waited some more.  The nurse came out and apologized again and informed me she would be ready for me in five minutes.  “It’s Cool, I’ll be here.”  Finally, after a half an hour delay I got in for my test.  She nurse was very apologetic and although waiting was inconvenient I assured her it was okay.
   We did the test, I passed, and as I was leaving she apologized again for the delay:

Nurse: Sorry again for the wait
Me: It’s okay
Nurse: The gentleman before you was older and his breathing was really bad.  We had to get him emergency oxygen.
Me: Its really not a problem,
Nurse: (Eyebrow raised) Yeah …most people would be pretty mad
Me: That’s what a hospital is for; to make people better
Nurse: I’m glad you see it that way

   I don’t mean to portray myself as some Christ-like figure with a raging hard-on for my fellow man, but I would like to illustrate the difference in perspective between the two ladies I dealt with.  One deals with people, the other with money.  Not surprisingly, one does not give a shit about sick people (Hint: Its the one who deals with money).  With that mindset, why should sick people without insurance/OHIP give a shit about the hospital’s budget?  Hence, health-care fraud, one of the many excesses of our competitive monetary-market system.  In the world we live in, sometimes fraud, theft and leeching off the system just make good economic sense.
   Unfortunately, in Canada, lack of health insurance typically means immigrant/illegal alien, so any dissatisfaction an insured, tax-paying Canadian may have about their lot in life will find a fertile, racially-charged spawning ground to develop into outright racism and xenophobia.  Really, its not the aliens people should be mad at, its the system perpetuating the inequality which makes people desperate enough to take what isn’t theirs.
   Basically, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
   However, before I go into a tangent about how the current paradigm we live in promotes racism and other prejudices, I want to rein it back into the conversation with the hospital clerk.  She pointed out that the fraudsters (literally, one who commits fraud) are costing me money.  Now this is true, and my apathy toward this point of hers had less to do with the infinitesimally small amount each incident of fraud costs me personally than it did with my knowledge of a very important secret.
   The Secret of Why I’m Not Rich.
   Now I can’t just up and tell you how I got “not-rich,” or poor as some people call it.  To learn that you’ll have to attend one of my seminars or purchase my series of cassette-tapes.  But I can give you a few hints:

First off, I didn’t get poor from rampant health-care fraud, as the hospital clerk would have had me believe.  The income I may ultimately lose out on due to fraud is so negligible that I don’t factor it into my monthly costs (hopefully you caught my facetiousness here).

It’s not a drug addiction, past or present, either.  Future? … we’ll see.

It’s not cause of the terrorists.

Its not from laziness; I work full-time and then some.

Its not from lack of ambition; I have plans, and I tend to set out in earnest for whatever I want.

Its not the people on welfare who keep me poor either.

Its not my extravagant lifestyle.  I don’t own a car and my biggest monthly expense is groceries.

Its not unions driving up the price of goods and services which keeps my wallet light, nor is it my job being outsourced to China or India.

Its really not even taxes that keep me poor; they’re just inconvenient sometimes.

It’s not interest on debts either, although I can see how that would be a problem for many.

Its not cause of immigrants.

Its not cause of ponzie schemes, recessions or bailouts.

Nor is it legislation which widens the socio-economic divide.

Its not the government freely spending my tax dollars.  In fact, being an army-fag, a large part of that spending (Defence) goes back to me directly or indirectly.

  So what is it then?  Like I said, I can’t tell you.  But I think you might have a hunch even if you don’t know for sure, because its keeping you poor as well.  Next time you get frustrated with something or someone’s adverse effect on your financial well-being/lifestyle ask yourself if that thing or person is really the problem.  They are probably no less of a pawn than you are in a much bigger game, driven to seek out their best interests, necessarily at the expense of yours because that’s the rules of this game.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo




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With Apologies to Those K.I.A….

My Friends,
   While crashing at my sister’s place in Toronto this past weekend I happened to switch the TV to The Discovery Channel.  Naively I thought, “hey, I might learn something if I keep it on the discovery channel.”  How wrong I was.  The show in question dealt with the possibility of alien invasion and how the human race would fare.

Word?

When did we set the bar of what constitutes “discovery” so low?  The program took a pretty pessimistic view of our most likely first line of defense, nuclear weapons.

In the esteemed view of the Discovery Channel, any spacecraft fast enough to travel through space at high speeds would have to be built resilient enough (or have force fields) to withstand the impact of the tiny meteoroids it would inevitably run into throughout the galaxy.  These would apparently hit said ship with a force greater than our most powerful warheads.  Therefore, we have to assume that our warheads would be ineffectual.
  After painting this dim picture of our ability to defend ourselves with awesome explosions, the show hypothesized that mankind would still be able to attain victory* provided the aliens’ intention was to deprive us of our resources.

As opposed to annihilation

In this scenario we could in fact booby-trap the resources the aliens are trying to rob us of.  The program then showed a scene of two human resistance fighters strapping dynamite to a tree (cause the aliens ships were sucking up our trees with their tractor beams for some reason) which was set to explode once inside the alien ship.  As I watched this scene (and the humans’ post-asploesion victory dance) I couldn’t help but think of the modern insurgents waging guerilla war in the middle-east against foreign interlopers (ps that’s us).  Well apparently I wasn’t too far off because they started interviewing senior American military personnel who advocated asymmetrical warfare (guerilla tactics) against aliens because they are demoralizing and are the best chance of victory against superior firepower.  To emphasize this they cited the success of Afghan and Iraqi insurgents against coalition troops.  
   Then it hit me, these same tactics which would serve mankind so well against the aliens are derided as cowardly whenever a coalition patrol gets hit by an IED or an ambush.  Not surprisingly, the most vociferous critics of the tactics of the insurgents are the soldiers who get hit by roadside bombs or worse, the friends they leave behind when they perish in an attack.  I know a few people who have lost close friends in attacks such as these and the last thing I wish to do is insult them by lauding the Taliban et al. for their resourcefulness.  However, I think a healthy respect for the enemy is due.  Far from cowardly, they are instead like the human survivors of an extra-terrestrial invasion, fighting the war on their own terms.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

*Victory was defined as the side left with the most survivors by the end of the conflict

   

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To All the Hetero Men

My Friends,
   Has this ever happened to you: You start a new job and conduct yourself respectfully and confidently for the first few weeks.  You are always well turned out and looking your very best, flirting politely with the girls and and joking around with everyone.  Then after a few weeks of this, someone asks you point blank during the middle of your shift if you’re gay…
  Now, far from being an insult, this can still be disconcerting for the straight male who conceives of himself as being a good-natured philanderer and good breeding stock to boot.  When you can only respond with a confused “um, no…,” they may further ask you this incredibly stupid question: “Are you sure?”  If you read between the lines you can see that far from trying to gain clarification on the matter, asking if you’re sure that you’re not gay implies that they feel you are a lying homophobic closet case who is ashamed of his attraction towards men.
   Then it hits you, the whole image you have cultivated for yourself has had the opposite effect it was intended to and everyone is fairly certain that you like…well, whatever it is they think you like (PENIS!).    The reality however, is that you may not have been acting gay.  In the three instances where I was assumed to be a “confirmed bachelor,” the circumstances were all very different.  The first time was a military posting a cadet corps summer camp for kids.  I worked in conjunction with a lot of civilian instructors, and more than a few were openly flamboyantly gay (That’s right, gay and camping with your kids, joke’s on you lol).  This didn’t really confront me none, and I was amicable with most of them (some were just obnoxious jerks and being gay did little to redeem them in my eyes).  Now because I got on well enough with the gays in the immediate circle I worked with, the girls in said immediate circle, maddened by the realization that I was way out of their league, started to invent crazy explanations for why they had no chance with me.  Instead of being honest with themselves that they were ugly, rude and self-centered, they chose to project on me.  I am like 98.3% certain this is what led one of them to ask me, in front of some of the summer camp kids no less, “are you gay?”  I think this first time was the only time I was angered by the question, but more because of the fact that she was undermining me with questions about my sexuality in front of kids I was in charge of.  She could have asked me about what my favourite female breast shape was and I still would have been annoyed.  Its called tact, learn it.
   The second instance was when I was hired as a server at a restaurant where the majority of servers were female and one of the male servers was openly inappropriately disgustingly gay.  When finally someone did approach me and ask me about my sexual preference (as it was so germane to the job-related task I was performing at the time) they were a lot more tactful about it.  When I calmly and amusedly responded that I was not in fact homosex (sic),  they took it upon themselves to reassure me that they never thought I was gay themselves and had been defending my heteroship (sic) the whole time when it had been under attack by the gossip of coworkers.  I thanked her for not allowing them to slander my good name but assured her it was wholly unncessary, as people are gonna think what they’re gonna think.  As I later found out, the aforementioned gay male server had been spreading rumours that I was gay.  I reasoned that it was part of some insidious plot in which, if I heard from enough people that I was gay I might actually start to believe it and put out (Note: you may notice a recurring theme that I strongly believe a person’s desire to get in my pants causes them to act reckless).  This may sound delusional, but it should be mentioned that he offered me at a later date $100 to perform fellatio on me.  Although not tempted, I was flattered, until I heard that he offered some of the teenage boys working in the kitchen $200 for the same service.  “I thought we had something special…”
   The last case is kind of ongoing and probably somewhat my fault.  Its a warehouse I work at during the summer and I suppose because I wear tight wife- beaters, women’s sunglasses (in my defense, they’re fly as hell) and any of the following bandanas,

that I perpetuate an image of fruitiness.  These factors, as well as the fact that I sing along to all the songs on the radio, hitting the necessary high notes, doesn’t jive with their blue collar sensibilities I suppose.  While no one has asked me point blank, some have had their suspicions and they good-naturedly bust my balls about it daily.  For example, when the new payroll chick got hired, a no-nonsense Jamaican lady, my foreman insisted that me and him traipse through the office holding hands  in front of her desk.  I thought it would be a gay old time funny, and we had her convinced I was a batty boy…. a bloodclot batty boy even.  But then, when you do goofy shit like that, you can’t blame people for casting an awkward eye at you.
   At this point I feel that if people don’t question where I stick my penis I am doing something wrong.  After all, I am suspicious of anyone who comes off as completely hetero: the biggest secrets are the best hidden I figure.  In the end though I can’t really be vexed about the assumption that Im gay: most people are just going by the popular conception of homosexuals as good-looking, well-dressed and shameless flirts, and that ain’t a half-bad rep to catch.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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