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2006: Through the Looking Glass

In the words of Ok Go, here it goes again...

2006, is this what you had up your sleeves at the end of '05? You didn't seem to have a running theme - how Bollywood musical of you. Unpredictable? Always. Boring? Not so much. Is 2007 getting ready to roll out the punches and give us a similar ride?

In the past year I have written about getting older, the loss of a beloved job, the loss of a loved one, the lifespan of a script in Hollywood, the not-so-bleak side of unemployment, the finer side of new employment, red carpet rendezvouses, new friends made, staph infections defeated, namedropping, road tripping, and the near-orgasmic phenomenon that is Pinkberry.

Before you could say "Michael Richards anger management," it all came and went.

2006: That One Big Blur. Where the hell did it all go?

Madonna ruled the arenas (and a certain African orphanage). Al Gore scared us with some melting glaciers. Lance Bass came out. Will & Grace went in...to that TV Hall of Fame i…

A Winter Wonder

Why is every one-hit wonder who appears on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float to promote a single that's already heavily rotated on Top 40 lamely called a "singing sensation"?

What's with America's obsession with dog shows?

Who is Sylar and where did he come from?

These were just a few questions that struck me while basting my 11-pound turkey on Thankgiving morning. Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera apparently drained their pool of adjectives to describe every singer who appeared in the rain-soaked holiday fest. NBC apparently loves showcasing purebreds and their proud owners. And I apparently believe that saving the cheerleader will indeed save the world (Go Peter Petrelli!).

The holiday was spent at my apartment, candying yams, preheating the oven, dusting the furniture, slowly turning into my mother. Dinner for five started around four, and three more guests showed up for dessert later in the evening. Three pies and one round of Trivial Pursuit later, the stuf…

What Would The Supremes Say?

I would have loved to have been the fly on the wall in the room where this record deal was made...

From www.planetrighteous.blogspot.com:

The video is very low concept: "Hi! We're Westlife. That's Diana Ross back there, doing the 'Diana Ross.' We're standing on this here stage. We're singing the shit out of this song on this here stage, or at least, Mark is. Now we're done. Thanks for watching!"

Overall, the song is schmaltzy and the video is boring as hell (unless you're a big fan of pensive sexxxxxxay glances from Irish lads), but...

THE REASON YOU NEVER KNEW YOU LOVED THIS VIDEO: occurs at 2:38, when Miss Diana Ross begins her full-on transformation into the Dark Phoenix. Enjoy:

Renaissance Woman

Tuesday. November 7, 2006.

The news arrived at our office at 1:40PM PST. A co-worker's husband called from his cell phone while driving on the 405 Freeway. The annoucement had come over the radio.

"Britney Spears filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline."

The jolt was felt throughout the offices of Anonymous Content. Phone calls were immediately made. IMs quickly popped up. MySpace bulletins were promptly posted.

Forget the elections. A major shift in the pop culture universe had just occurred. You could hear the gasps around the globe as reporters from US Weekly, Access Hollywood, and TMZ were just handed on a silver platter the very juice they were craving for.

Let us reflect.

To say this was inevitable would be like saying Neil Patrick Harris was going to come out of the closet. Um, duh. It was a denouement even Shaggy and Scooby could see from a mile away. The world was waiting for it to happen. It was the ginormous pink elephant in the room that was bound to be…

Baby's First

After living in this city for more than four years, you would think I usually get in on some movie premiere action every once in a while. Sure, I've come close to experiencing the red carpet treatment in the past (see: last year's Star Wars - Episode III afterparty where I cut JJ Abrams in line at the sushi bar), but never have I truly lived through the complete cinematic hoopla...until now (curtain rise!).

My unabashedly Hollywood weekend started on Saturday as a background actor for an independent Tori Spelling movie (not a typo) and ended on Sunday night as an attendee of the L.A. premiere of Babel.

Many folks in this town make their living as extras in film and TV. One can roll in some decent dough simply by standing next to Jim Carrey in a pivotal restaurant scene or in a supermarket watching Felicity Huffman get shot by Laurie Metcalfe (By the way, that Desperate Housewives hostage episode? Holy Emmy consideration!).

My old Venice roommate was frequently featured in Scrubs

A Bloody Good Time

I love a good decapitation in the afternoon.

'Tis the season to be bloody. Now's the time when my DVD player heats up from the countless Friday the 13ths and various 80s slasher flicks I play in order to get in the ghoulish mood for October 31. Forget those post-Scream, PG-13 remakes that dominate the current box office. I prefer my horror visceral, unabashedly budgeted at three dollars, and in the words of Jada Pinkett Smith, featuring dumbass white chicks with Aqua Net hair "gettin' their dumb white asses Cut. The. F**k. Up."

I will not bow my head in shame for owning DVDs of the following:

1988's Cheerleader Camp: See short shorts-wearing Leif Garrett run from a pom-pom-carrying killer in the woods. Money shot: Ditzy Pam gets a pair of gardening shears shoved through the back of her neck.

1987's Return to Horror High features George Clooney in a role (as an actor named...George) that sees him getting butchered within the first ten minutes of the movie. H…

A Love Letter

Sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a love affair.

I'd say it started somewhere in the mid-90s. In no way was this love at first sight. My interest was simply piqued. A glance here, a laugh there. As the years flew by, the more I gave myself to the relationship the harder I fell, the deeper I fell, in love.

Entertainment Weekly and I have been going on strong for a healthy ten years now. Those who label it as another "mass-market mag" should be pitied for their lack of open-mindedness. They don't know anything about the pleasure EW brings me. Every week I revel in the joy of ravaging its pages from cover to cover and absorbing new pop wonders previously unfathomable to me.

EW satiates my hunger for pop culture news like nothing else can. It has changed me, especially my writing, prompting my own readers to urge me to land a job at the publication. Oh, how I long to be an official member of the EW family!

So, why not a love letter to EW (or to those edito…

Lost Angeles

"This city's killing me. I want, I want, I want everything."
- "Los Angeles" by Sugarcult

Hardly in the four-year history of these chapters have I received such passionate responses like the ones I received from "The Cooke Book." The issue of New York versus Los Angeles is a topic of debate I find fascinating: Who has it better, Manhattanites or Angelenos?

But now, I'm over it. I don't care anymore. There is no clear answer. That debate has ended. Chapter 67 wasn't even written to argue which Coast is better. The intentions behind it were not to bash NYC. My words were a letter to those who stubbornly believe New York is the only place in the world to live a real life, a reaction to the attitude I still get from those (mostly NYers), who talk shit about where I currently reside and appear to leave no room for compromise. I was talking to the natives who have unfortunately never stepped foot outside …

Dawn of the Disney

My first trip to the wonderful world of Disney was in the summer of 1986. I have vague recollections of a rented pale blue Chevrolet hatchback, giving my mother the silent treatment for not buying me a chocolate sundae, and an extravagant dinner in Cinderella's Castle where I got to meet the princess herself.

My second experience was in 1993. My great aunt Anna treated me and my mother to a vacation during which we pushed her around the theme parks in a rented wheelchair. She later accused us of trying to kill her by breathlessly running her around in the Florida heat and humidity. She drove us crazy to the point where we fantasized about the untimely collision of her runaway wheelchair with an oncoming Snow White tram.

1998 saw me, fresh from high school graduation, flying down to see Mickey and friends once again, this time with the parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. Torrential rain in Epcot. My father falling asleep during a 3-D Muppet attraction. My mother playing a g…

The Cooke Book

A self-proclaimed New York Snob, Elizabeth Cooke doesn't believe in living anywhere else.

A youth of the 60s, she is a follower of Kerouac, a hater of Bush, and would marry her packs of Parliament Lights if it were legal. With a mop of red hair and a penchant for black sweaters, Liz is one of those liberal kool kats you'd spot in old photos from the original Woodstock in which she could be testing out every drug known to man. It wouldn't be hard to imagine her knocking back shots of whiskey at an underground jazz club somewhere in the West Village, swaying to the tunes of a saxophonist named Johnny K and bopping to the bass in a haze of smoke (of course, back when you could puff on cancer sticks in New York establishments).

Her signature rasp of a voice stands out among the faculty of Iona Preparatory. Liz, or Ms. Cooke to her students, teaches English and acts as a moderator of the drama club at the all-boys high school located in the northern heights of New Rochelle. She…

An Open Book and Last Kiss

A disturbing trend is popping up in bookstores across America.

It is something that has bothered me for some time, and being the formerly enormous bookworm that I am (God, I was such the sad sight in the seventh grade), I feel an obligation towards tomorrow's semi-literate generation to address this matter.

The "quality" young-adult novels I obsessed over during the early 90s are on the verge of extinction. The books my peers and I enjoyed not so long ago are hardly visible among the shelves of every Barnes & Borders throughout the land. No longer do the names Francine Pascal, Christopher Pike or R.L. Stine grace the uncracked spines of paperbacks. Instead, oversized softcovers with increasingly large fonts and flashy images of teen fashionistas, mystical creatures, and drugged-out deviants are taking over the reading sections that used to be found near the "baby" books. It seems as if the retailers want to avoid insulting their young readers by forcing the…

Confessions of a Namedropper

While I stood next to a giggly Kathy Griffin and shook hands with Lance Bass and his reality-TV leftover of a boyfriend, I spotted Howie D. of the Backstreet Boys getting ready in his VIP booth for the birthday cake that was being carried across the dancefloor where Nicole Ritchie's boyfriend spun some beats. Kevin, AJ, Nick and the younger Carter, Aaron, started singing "Happy Birthday," the rest of the club chiming in over the throbbing bass.

Rewind for a minute: My friend Rex invited me to be his plus one at the Dorough Lupus Foundation party at LAX, the Hollywood "club of the minute." His publicist, the energetic Mina, got us past the VIP line and slapped some bracelets on us for the open bar. Several people stopped Rex as we inched our way through poseurs and pee-ons, shouting out "Lloyd! We love you, man!" Needless to say, those toting their miniscule digicams just had to take pics with him, proof that they got to meet one of the stars of "E…

Under the Influence

There is "worn out." There is "tired."

And then there is flat-out, ridiculously insane exhaustion.

'Tis 2:28 AM on Sunday morning, August 13, and I am attempting to start a new entry based on one of the most mentally and physically draining days of my life. I must finish before the vanilla-coated Tylenol PM kicks in.

Previously on "Hiko"...I had mentioned that I was a coordinator for a celeb-filled event called Hot in Hollywood, a one-night-only show benefitting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Last night was the main event. Picture me with a headset and clipboard, running around like a beheaded chicken on cocaine and you might come close to visualizing what I went through. I was in charge of 80 volunteers. That's 80 people whose names all sounded the same, 80 individuals for whom I was responsible, 80 pairs of eyes that would turn to me whenever they had a question ("Who do we let into VIP?" "Does the ATM machine in the lobby work?&quo…

Bicoastiality

Three weeks ago...

Shoving four dollar bills through the slot to the woman behind the
bulletproof glass, I say "Two tokens please."

"Tokens?" The attitude hits me, and then I remember.

I am handed a Metrocard instead. Ah, yes. No longer does the New York City
Subway run on tokens anymore. I have been away for so long now, I forget
that things have changed. They always do.

"The only constant is change." - BT

Summer in New York. Return to my roots.

The first thing that always hits me when I walk off the plane is the smell. And the humidity. L.A. this ain't. Then, it's the same: I maneuver my way through foot traffic to reach the curbside area so I can jump into my father's moving Nissan as my parents inch their way pass taxis and driverless limos. Hugs and kisses will have to wait once we reach the Thruway Diner for a late-night nosh and park the car.

And things have indeed changed...

Trump is building more skyscrapers in my "little" New Roche…


...And on the Seventh Day God Created Coachella

Lessons learned this past weekend:

1. Kanye West enjoys A-Ha's "Take On Me" and can pull off a mean Molly Ringwald two-step.

2. Sigur Ros is a moody Icelandic band that will never be found on my iPod.

3. Daft Punk= sonic orgasm. If you have the chance to see them spin live, do so.

4. The Del Taco outside Palm Springs has shitty 24-hour drive-thru service.

5. The lead singer of Franz Ferdinand can channel Jim Morrison very nicely.

6. Depeche Mode is genuinely awesome, and Dave Gahan rules.

7. After six straight hours of standing in a pit of sweat, shoving, and secondhand bong smoke, a beef gyro with teriyaki sauce and a cold bottle of Pepsi at 11:30pm is heaven on Earth.

Somewhere, miles past Palm Springs, there's a place called Indio where tens of thousands of alternative music fans from across the Southwest gather on a vast desert field for the annual 2-day festival known as Coachella, a 21st-century Woodstock (only more corporate-driven and wi-fi-friendly).

Thanks to "…