September 18, 2018

Song of the Month: September 2018


2018 is proving to be The Year I Fell in Love With Australian Pop Artists.

After discovering the awesome retro sounds of MOBS and the harmonies of Sheppard, it's official: Australia has been churning out some great talent this year.

More proof can be found in Future Jr., the indie artist from Down Under who's been wooing me with his single "Changing." (Also worth listening: "Forget About Me" and "Half Past You")

Give it a listen:

@TheFirstEcho

September 16, 2018

What I Did On My Summer Vacation (Most of Which Wasn't a Vacation)


NAME: Hiko Mitsuzuka
SUBJECT: Summer Vacation
HOMEROOM: 7C
DATE: Sept. 16, 2018

The Summer of 2018 was a busy one.

I kicked it off with a 10-night journey through Europe. You can read about my first six nights in Berlin and Paris here, here, and here.

I read Crazy Rich Asians before seeing the movie and fell in love with Astrid long before all of y'all did.

I consumed an adequate amount of ice cream; shout-out to Talenti gelato.

I treated my parents to a weekend in Vegas. Along with a Jennifer Lopez concert.

I had many strong feelings about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, mostly about how the franchise is losing its luster.

On the other hand, I saw and reviewed the fantastic Eighth Grade. It is being slotted in my Top 10 of the year.

I was transported back to high school when I saw TLC headline a music festival in South London. I also fell in love with London all over again.


I binged Season 2 of the brilliant Atlanta and Season 4 of the criminally overlooked You're The Worst.

I gave my MoviePass a run for its money (six movies in June, five in July) before those damn restrictions kicked in.

I attended a wedding in Santa Monica and realized not all wedding bands suck. (Kudos to the singer who pulled off Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" and Whitney's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody.")

I got a little tipsy in Palm Springs during the extra-long 4th of July weekend. (Okay, I got a lot of tipsy.)

In Berlin, I ate schnitzel for the first time. And my God, it was delicious.

My father was soon thereafter diagnosed with prostate cancer, so I flew to Florida to help my parents reach a decision on treatment: he is scheduled to receive radiation treatments this fall. My family is currently doing well. Therefore, #fuckcancer.

I saw The Spy Who Dumped Me. My reaction: NO ONE TOLD ME GILLIAN ANDERSON HAS THREE SCENES IN IT!

I went to the Saved by the Bell-themed pop-up diner, Saved by the Max, in West Hollywood. The food was expectedly...okay. There were plenty of Instagram ops to be had.

My company was awarded Global Agency of the Year. NBD.

I finally read Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10. This book is screaming for a Reese Witherspoon-produced adaptation.

I bought a new pair of glasses.

I was absolutely floored by Hannah Gadsby's Nanette on Netflix.

In Paris, I ate escargot for the first time. The copious amounts of garlic butter helped.

Oh, and I signed with a lit agent before finishing the first draft of my YA horror novel, Slasher Movie Girl. (To clarify: my agent isn't actually lit; she's a literary agent, someone who reps authors. Duh.) Publishers, keep your eyes peeled this fall...

@TheFirstEcho

A Breakup Poem for MoviePass


Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Dear MoviePass,
I'm breaking up with you.

For most of this year,
We've had a good time.
10 bucks for so much,
It felt like a crime.

Blockers was cute,
Tully was great,
And who could forget,
The fun of Ocean's 8?

I bragged to my friends,
A glowing testimony,
Never feeling I wasted dollars,
On that shitty Acrimony.

But then you changed,
Like the elusive Don Draper,
Charging me extra,
To go see Skyscraper.

I gave that a pass,
Not knowing what you'd do,
And then you forced my hand,
To check out Mamma Mia 2.

Your rules and restrictions,
Gave me a bad rub,
Testing my patience,
Asking for ticket stubs.

But like an abused spouse,
I came back for more.
But going to the movies,
Shouldn't feel like a chore.

Like many, I'm frustrated.
We're all getting quite pissed.
That's why we're now eyeing,
AMC's A-List.

Best of luck,
H

@TheFirstEcho

September 10, 2018

Fox's Marketing Team Sure Knows How To Commemorate September 11


Like, yikes.

I know the season premiere of the Fox drama involves an earthquake in Los Angeles, but this billboard...oh wow.

September 04, 2018

BITTERSWEET: The 2018 Fall Playlist


Before you pack away the SPF and hang up those flip-flops, familiarize yourself with these tunes I've begun to curate for your autumnal pleasure.

And FYI: No pumpkins were harmed in the making of this playlist.

@TheFirstEcho

September 03, 2018

Why The Fall TV Season Simultaneously Feels Like 1984, 1992, and 2000


Richard Newby's recent thinkpiece in The Hollywood Reporter, "What Happens When Fandom Doesn't Grow Up" (read it here), brilliantly discusses how modern nostalgia has presented itself across pop culture and what it means for today's audiences...as well as tomorrow's.

I expressed a similar sentiment a few years ago, basically saying that Hollywood doesn't want me and my friends to grow up. The proof is everywhere you look. Every month there's a familiar title from my childhood or adolescence playing at my local megaplex or unleashing new episodes on the small screen.

This is undoubtedly, as many pundits have argued, a result of the growing number of business-minded (read: less creative) execs at film and TV studios who are averse to high-risk investments (i.e. original content), enabling this rampant reboot fever that is affecting a generation of viewers that may never know what it's like to discover a true, original property they can organically grow to love and cherish.

It's a vicious cycle; as long as we keep consuming these things, the more this industry will keep making them.

Hence why the upcoming TV season is going to feel like 1984, 1992, and 2000 all at once, thanks to new versions of Magnum P.I., Murphy Brown, Charmed, and Roswell -- as well as the continuation of the Roseanne saga, now called The Conners, and the new Will & Grace.

In other words, we have one TV season that will allow me to relive my childhood, adolescence, and college years -- simultaneously -- during any given week. (And that's not all: reboots of Bewitched, The Facts of Life, Designing Women, Rugrats, and Party of Five are currently in development.)

Consider me 38 going on 18.

@TheFirstEcho

August 09, 2018

Nostalgic AF: 1980-2000


This is one helluva #TBT.

I know I'm getting old when I catch myself listening to the music of my youth more often than I have before (even though I still pride myself on discovering new tunes on a regular basis, not necessarily what's on the radio).

So it makes sense that I threw together more than 100 songs from the 80s and 90s to help me escape some of the present-day shittiness of adulthood. This is my audio comfort food. This is my time machine taking me back to those days when one of my biggest concerns was whether or not the VCR would record the latest episode of The X-Files.

Needless to say, I will be adding more to this playlist in the upcoming weeks...

@TheFirstEcho

July 12, 2018

Review: 'Eighth Grade'


First thing’s first: Elsie Fisher is, at the risk of sounding trite, a revelation.

She is the young actress starring in writer-director Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, a teen dramedy unlike any we’ve seen on the big screen in recent memory. It may also be the first (and best) movie about Gen Z that could very well resonate across all demos.

Fisher plays 13-year-old Kayla, a girl on the verge of a major transition: graduating from middle school to high school. And every awkward, humiliating, joyful, devastating, and mundane moment leading up to that is captured and conveyed with such gorgeous poignancy and tender nuance.

Burnham, mostly known for his stand-up and YouTube past, proves himself here as a keen observer of adolescent life in the late 2010s. Welcome to a world of sniffing markers, shooter drills (look out for a scene that is simultaneously funny, jawdropping, and heartbreaking), and adults pathetically attempting to dab and use words like “lit.”

It doesn’t take long to easily settle into Kayla’s world and realize just how much she is a product of it. She comes from a single-parent household (Josh Hamilton plays her dad to perfection). She mindlessly scrolls through Instagram, liking random posts, hoping to be liked back (a rabbit hole she often falls into, staged with a kaleidoscopic effect and a synth-dizzy score). She records weekly affirmations on YouTube that no one watches (a device brilliantly used to juxtapose her daily struggles at school). And all throughout, she so desperately wants to be cool...

Read more of my glowing review of a film that is easily falling into my Top 10 of 2018 so far - here.

June 27, 2018

(Bitter)Sweet 16: An L.A.nniversary


For my 16th L.A.nniversary I thought I would be waxing nostalgic on the life I’ve created for myself in this city, reminiscing and reflecting on the moments that have brought me to this point in time – like I usually do. I thought I would be celebrating 16 years of surviving a city that tends to chew up and spit out those who have – let's say – a more delicate constitution.

But unfortunately, I’m not feeling that right now. There is something about the sociopolitical climate we’re currently living in that is inspiring more bitter than sweet within me. And, for other reasons I’ll likely disclose at a later time, I’m feeling a little…vent-y (not the Starbucks kind). I’m ignoring the advice of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” That said, I’m sure I’ll look back on this someday and say to myself: Sheesh. Get the stick out of your ass, Mitsuzuka.

In other words, #sorrynotsorry for what you’re about to read...


As I reach this 16-year milestone, I’d like to share some of my own words of wisdom.

If I had any advice for young hopefuls planning to move to L.A. in order to pursue their dreams and passions – or pursue the hot piece of ass they met on Bumble or Grindr – it would be this:

Don't come here.

Seriously. Don't move to this city. We've already got plenty of folks scrambling to achieve a number of #careergoals, #bodygoals, #couplesgoals, and whatever other goals are currently being invented by some 20-year-old intern who wants to "make it" as an influencer.

Trust me. You'll only clog up more boulevards and freeways (and our infrastructure is already fragile as it is). You’ll only crowd more gyms – and the hiking trails at Runyon Canyon. You’ll only create a longer wait at that brunch place Eater said had “killer gluten-free French toast.” You’ll only further inundate our inboxes and news feeds with invites to see your stand-up comedy, your one-man show, your gallery opening, or a table read for that indie drama you co-wrote with the college friend you’ll eventually lose touch with once she books a pilot and leaves you with nothing but a side gig writing TV recaps for a website no one reads.

You are basically the reason why La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, and downtown have been dominated by state-of-the-art condominiums and countless housing developments, why rent is skyrocketing, and why no one can afford anything north of the 10 Freeway.

In fact, I'll go one step further and say this: stop dreaming. The industry you're hoping to break into is already at its most competitive. By the time you read this sentence, a thousand wide-eyed YouTubers and Instagram models from New York and the Midwest will have already arrived in town with plans to “dominate,” “get some exposure,” or “not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Instead, move to another city that could use a boost in its economy. Go gentrify a neighborhood somewhere else where you can make a bigger splash, where you can get more recognition, where you can buy a three-bedroom house for the price of a studio in Silver Lake.

Sure, L.A. may look all glam and fabulous (and some of it is), but turn around, save your hard-earned money, and flourish in another place.

Don't come to Los Angeles. Really.

We’re good here. Thanks.

@TheFirstEcho

June 11, 2018

"Too Many Friends" by Hearts & Colors Might As Well Be My Theme Song For Life


Sweden sure knows how to crank out some pop.

Hearts & Colors, a duo from the northern European country, has come out with "Too Many Lovers," a seductive, mid-tempo track that is resonating with me a little too much with its lyrics about empty beds and the dead-ends of one too many platonic relationships. And never mind that these guys resemble a more ripped version of early 90s twin rockers Nelson.

And after befriending a stranger from Stockholm during my recent visit to Berlin, I'm taking this as a sign that I need to take a trip to the northern European country in the near future.

Enjoy:

@TheFirstEcho

June 08, 2018

Review: 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'


Ever since the trailer for director Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? dropped earlier this spring, fans of the beloved kids’ show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, have been sharing their reactions to the emotionally powerful preview that has undoubtedly stirred up countless childhood memories. As for the documentary itself, which looks back on the impactful legacy of Fred Rogers, the man behind the long-running TV program, it is guaranteed to open even more floodgates of nostalgia.

“Although Fred Rogers was an ordained minister, he didn’t preach when he was on TV,” the Academy Award-winning Neville states. “He was far more interested in asking questions and offering ideas that could help guide his viewers on their own journey in life.” And with this sterling doc, the filmmaker succeeds in taking Rogers’ lead and exploring the groundbreaking and powerful ideas that were subtly communicated within the show throughout several decades.

As a result, Neighbor is a beautiful tribute as well as a testament to the power of empathy. It’s the soothing balm we need for this divisive Era of Outrage. It’s also one of the best movies I’ve seen this year thus far...

For more of my review, check out Bello Mag.

@TheFirstEcho


Song of the Month: September 2018

2018 is proving to be The Year I Fell in Love With Australian Pop Artists. After discovering the awesome retro sounds of MOBS and the ...