Flashback: Summer of 2000



Because nostalgia has made me its bitch, I can't help but frequently flashback to earlier times when life was relatively easier.

My recent ticket to Memory Lane came to me courtesy of some resurrected mix CDs I had made nearly 8 years ago; Today's spotlight falls on the fourth volume of my seasonal compilations. For those of you wondering, BLOOMED was Number 49 (Take that, NOW That's What I Call Music).

It was the summer of '00. The Y2K scare was an embarrassing thing of the past. Britney was hot, without the mess. I was able to work on my tan at the beach during my summer gig at Glen Island Park in Westchester. I experienced my first big New York City club as an underager (Exit, located on the West Side; the train ride back home at 5 in the morning was quite hazy). And my parents finally subscribed to HBO, allowing four fabulous ladies who favored cosmopolitans to enter our home and instantly win me over.

These were the songs that accompanied me throughout this time in my life, each track a particle in a time capsule I now treasure. Experience them all over again and relive a time when the War on Terror sounded like an installment in a Tom Clancy series, reality TV was just a glimmer in the eyes of network execs and the Clinton era was nearing its bittersweet end:

1. "Come On Over" by Christina Aguliera
2. "If I Let You Go" by Westlife
3. "Let's Get Loud" by Jennifer Lopez
4. "As If" by Blaque - The sassy closing theme song to Bring It On, from the poor man's TLC.
5. "Crazy for This Girl" by Evan and Jaron
6. "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)" by 98 Degrees - Jumping onto the Latin bandwagon which was all the rage back then, the flailing boy band attempted to reclaim the spotlight shortly after 'NSync's No Strings Attached dominated the charts.
7. "Case of the Ex" by Mya



8. "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down
9. "There You Go" by Pink - A butch white girl with pink hair and a funk attitude? She'll never last...
10. "Let's Get It On Tonite" by Montell Jordan
11. "Miss You More" by BBMak
12. "Deep Inside of You" by Third Eye Blind
13. "Try Again" by Aaliyah - From the late and great...had she lived, we would have been spared Ashanti (sorry, but you know it's true).
14. "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon
15. "Better Off Alone" by Alice Deejay



16. "Going to College" by Blink-182
17. "I Wanna Know" by Joe
18. "Feels So Good" by Sonique
19. "Dance With Me" by Debelah Morgan

Character Study

March 8, 2008.
Insomnia Cafe on Beverly Boulevard.


The dude who has just ordered a turkey wrap with the Asian woman at the counter has situated himself on the sunken-in couch below the Impressionist painting of two policemen patrolling the rainy, cobblestoned streets of a European city. Dude carefully plops his backpack on the couch and pulls out a thick paperback novel, slightly tattered and torn from a long residence within the weathered recycled-cloth bag.

He's trying to educate himself on the material for the upcoming independent film he's shooting this weekend. It's an updated adaptation of a turn-of-the-20th-century morality tale (written by some dead dude, natch), and this should be the role he'll be proud to put on his reel, especially after co-starring in that homoerotic horror flick he shot last winter. The book is a challenge to read, and he is all about conquering it. Plus, he'll have the chance to sound intellectual at the press junket when asked if he had been familiar with the book before getting attached to the project, to which he'd answer, "Yes, I've read it, and it's always been one of my favorites."

March 9, 2008.
Corner of Santa Monica and Roxbury.


He's nearing 70 years in age and wears the only piece of dapper clothing he has left, a black three-piece suit that he manages to keep clean while standing outside for hours. He holds the same cardboard sign ("Homeless Veteran Looking For Work") night after night as traffic whizzes by. He hopes for a generous driver at the red light, a random stranger to throw him some change. Perhaps the son he hasn't seen in 12 years will drive by and offer a helping hand, a reminder of the love he once had with a family he once knew.

March 16, 2008.
24-Hour Fitness on Pico Boulevard.


The brunette with the recent rolled-up issue of In Touch neglected in the cupholder of her Stairmaster, in my writer's mind, is a bartender at a sports bar on Sunset. Today is her one day off, and she is thankful for the time to workout because of the nausea-inducing audition she has on the ABC-Disney lot in Burbank tomorrow. She is hoping to burn off the birthday cake she inhaled at her best friend's party the night before.

She hates the fact that she can be easily replaceable in this town full of actors who get to write off their gym memberships come April 15. She realizes she is one of many of hundreds of thousands struggling for the same recurring roles on a CW drama or that one guest stint on Special Victims Unit.

March 18, 2008
The Grove.


He's more than just one of those Angeleno hipster dads. Sure, he's pushing the sporty boutique stroller (check), a sleek, gray messenger/diaper bag draped over his shoulder (check check), his Diesel denims (a gift from his gay brother-in-law) ending in a flare that manages to show off his cheap-yet-stylish flip-flops. He rushes across the crosswalk to get out of the Farmers Market and make it home in time for Idol - and to start making the tacos for dinner. After all, it is Taco Tuesday. He had promised his wife he'd have her dish ready when she walked in the door. He is glad to have these two weeks off before starting his next project at the architectural firm he founded with his old roommate from Stanford.

He leaves the mall empty-handed with the regret of not having purchased a birthday gift for his sister who lives in Santa Barbara with her much younger boyfriend, a Brazilian installation artist.

Tonight, Tonight

Free drink special.
Big Chocolate at the turntables.
And me, which should be enough of a reason.

BLOOMED: Spring 2008, Vol. 2



I've been bursting at the ears with new music for y'all to enjoy. Never before have I had to put out TWO compilations for spring, but here we are. From Madge to MIKA, I proudly unveil these must-downloads of the season...and if you're lucky, you may just get a live sample at this Friday's HOT MIX 2:

1. "Four Minutes" by Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland
2. "Hometown Glory" by ADELE
3. "Time After Time" by Quietdrive
4. "Fascination" by Alphabeat - I've become obsessed with this irresistible dancerock-pop group from Denmark. The beat echoes back to Bowie's "Modern Love," and the adorable video is a retro-tastic burst of Crayola-enhanced fun:



5. "Come On Girl" by Taio Cruz and Luciana - Sick beats from this R&B newcomer drive this juiced-up club track featuring the chick who lent her vocals to last year's dance hits from Bodyrox:.



6. "Denial" by Sugababes
7. "Love is Something" by Mozella
8. "Damaged" by Danity Kane
9. "Better in Time" by Leona Lewis - The latest from the belter who bled "Love." If she didn't get you the first time, let her hit you with her second best shot:



10. "The Heart of the Matter" by India.Arie
11. "Here's My Hello" by Blake Lewis
12. "If I Never See Your Face Again" by Maroon 5
13. "Something Good '08" by Utah Saints
14. "Delayed Devotion" by Duffy
15. "6 Of 1 Thing" by Craig David
16. "Tiny Dancer" by Marco Demark
17. "Stop and Stare" by OneRepublic
18. "Speakerphone" by Kylie Minogue
19. "American Boy" by Estelle featuring Kanye West - The British songstress develops a fondness for boys from across the Pond, and Mr. West is her groove guide through this funky jam.



20. "Shake It" by Metro Station
21. "Ching-A-Ling" by Missy Elliot
22. "Stuck in the Middle" by MIKA

Like Old Hate

It's not so often that I get to be the main topic of discussion in someone else's blog.

But alas, the ever-effervescent Kathleen Newlove has posted a recent entry about how "famous" I've apparently become, the Kathleen of NEWLOVE, that link you see near the bottom on the panel to your right (yes, that's her real surname, "like, as in old hate," and it's quite kickass, no?).

After reading her recent blog about moi, I'd like to say that anyone who knows Kathleen knows she's famous in her own right. Famous for being a hi-larry-ous storyteller with a sharp memory for detail. Famous for being a ginormous hater of cilantro. Famous for her near-psychotic obsession with Hugh Grant. And, most importantly, famous for being the Mistress of Globetrotting.

Let me elaborate.

Whenever I'm out with friends, and I'm asked for an update on the popular Ms. Newlove, I honestly can't give a thorough answer because, frankly, I never know where the hell she is during any given month. Keeping tabs on her can be an exhausting sport that warrants Perez Hilton-style coverage. Move over, Carmen Sandiego. We wanna know where in the world is Kathleen Newlove.

If she's not visiting the fam in her native Denmark, she's either doing the following: Visiting a friend in Hong Kong. Driving cross-country to Miami. Riding an elephant in India (and later losing 20 pounds from a nasty case of dysentery). Counting down to the new year in Budapest. Swigging cocktails in Berlin. Dining with fashion designers in Melbourne...I'm sure there are plenty of other countries and cultures that have been graced by her presence.

She is a self-proclaimed "bad friend," never in town for someone's birthday, a cocktail party, a movie premiere. If I'm lucky enough, I'll catch her before one of her excursions, and most likely it will be for lunch and a movie at the Arclight.

Some of you may want to know, "What the hell does this bitch do for a living?" Well, that's a query for the woman herself since I, except for "Independent" and "Contractor," lack the words to fully describe her career. On reading that, it may sound like she's on the payroll of some shady global organization, but I assure you she's not. Although it does seem cool to imagine her hopping from country to country in various Sydney Bristow-type outfits, kicking bad-guy ass and diffusing bombs with enough boom to level a major metropolitan area.

Another piece of the puzzle: she claims to have had no credit cards in her possession. Ever.

A brief history on how this jet-setter and I became friends: Back in the summer of 2002, when I was a wide-eyed and naive college grad, I had interned for her at a small independent production company (the name of the shingle is irrelevant because I'm pretty sure they shut down a while back). I had lured her into my tempting web of weekly trips to Baskin Robbins and Coffee Bean (Iced Blendeds were a vice before Pinkberry came along). My tactics had worked. We had developed all the traits of BFFs, indulging in calorie binges and making fun of people behind their backs. That summer, a Thai intern prone to digestive problems had unfortunately become the target of ridicule (again, K's knack for retelling a story would be needed here).

And now she's off again to another country (India, again), and I'm not quite sure when Los Angeles will see her again (sometime after my birthday).

So, the next time you're wondering about Kathleen's whereabouts, just bet on that she's probably getting her passport stamped for the umpteenth time in some faraway land, interacting with the natives, having a jolly good time without us. And we'll miss her. When she's back, we'll still love her and enjoy her company as if she never left.

I'll look forward to a souvenir.


H.P.M.

Feel The Alphabeat



Cut to: me, home on a sunny Saturday afternoon, checking some new tunes online and discovering this shiny-happy band of people from Denmark. They're called Alphabeat. The single is called "Fascination," a major get-up-and-go ditty with vague recollections of David Bowie's "Modern Love."

The Brits are already putting them on top of the charts (go figure), and y'all need to fall in love...NOW (like, before iTunes flaunts them as a "Single of the Week" or a "Discovery Download"):

Trailer Park: Summer Edition



We're less than 2 months away until the summer movie parade starts blowing up megaplexes across the country. And the trailers for every CGI-filled piece of eye candy keep popping up, teasing us with glimpses of the fantastic (Indiana Jones) and the fabulous (Sex and the City).

Ed Norton steps into the role of THE INCREDIBLE HULK this time around with Liv Tyler by his side and Tim Roth and William Hurt playing the baddies...that's all you need to know, right? Doctor gets angry, turns green, and come June 13 the proverbial shit hits the fan...looks way more fun than the first (sorry, Ang):



But before Hulk punches through theaters, catch Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman and Christina Ricci in what may be the most vibrantly colorful film of the year, SPEED RACER, a flick for folk fond of fast cars (whew, say that five times fast). Basically, it looks like the result of a miniature crew filming the inside of a Hot Wheels racetrack toy and turning it into a Nintendo Wii game. Oh, and the most exciting part (for me at least)? Matthew Fox, of course, all sinister and shadowy and shit. May 9, y'all:



And that's not all, kiddies!

It just ain't summer without another Disney-Pixar collaboration. The latest trailer for WALL-E is up, and IT. IS. FRICKIN'. ADORABALE. Finally, a brilliant CGI-animated movie WITHOUT talking animals or dolls (or much dialogue for that matter). Just watch...and fall in love with the cutest piece of scrap metal ever:

Good News For Student Loan Collectors



The tuition and board for the 2008-09 school year at Boston University, my alma mater, will be an obscene $50,000.

I silently weep for the future debtors from the Class of 2012.

One Fight With Faris



Catch my latest interview for Hot in Hollywood, this time with Sean Faris, star of the upcoming Never Back Down (Opens March 14 in theaters).

Reunited...And It Feels So Blah



There's a scene from 1989's An Eight is Enough Wedding that had been pretty intense for me as a fourth-grader.

David and Tommy got into a violent brawl resulting in Tommy getting thrown out of David's cabin-in-the-woods bachelor party. Fists went flying when little Nicholas let it slip that Tommy (a pre-Charles in Charge Willie Aames) was still abusing drugs and alcohol. I'm sure watching this melodramatic moment today wouldn't carry much resonance, but back then, never had I expected these once-wholesome characters to get so Jerry Springer on each other.

The Wedding TV-movie was a sequel of sorts. Two years prior, An Eight is Enough Family Reunion premiered on NBC to stellar ratings. It was this telepic that kicked off my late-80s/early-90s obsession with The Reunion TV Movie Event, a phenomenon known for popping up every sweeps period. Like millions of other nostalgic Americans, I savored the kitsch, the modernized theme songs and the new hairstyles worn by favorite characters. However, there was always the frustrating casting to deal with. At least one member of an original cast could never commit to the televised reunion. Viewers would have to settle for an imposter, an actor who had to face the challenge of playing a character already loved and recognized by a massive audience.

It was widespread across the entire reunion TV-movie circuit. Mary Frann stepped in for Betty Buckley, the original Abby, in Family Reunion while Sandy Faison took over the role in Wedding. And it didn't stop there. 1988's A Very Brady Christmas saw the bright brood return sans the original Cindy, Susan Olsen. In her place was Jennifer Runyon, and the telecast would be tainted forever. Olsen would later return for The Bradys in 1990 when the sunshiny sitcom turned into a nighttime soap. However, audiences still didn't get to enjoy the complete original cast; Maureen McCormick opted not to sign on as Marcia, and Leah Ayres stepped into her shoes, an actress whose future career highlight was a multi-episode arc on Walker Texas Ranger (she was never seen again).

*Blogger's note: I had secretly gotten a kick out of watching The Bradys. Marcia became an alcoholic, Jan was barren, Peter turned into a man-whore, and Bobby became paralyzed from a nasty racecar collision...Good frickin' times.

Perhaps my reason for having reunions on the brain is the slow-burning anticipation for my 10-year high school reunion in New York later this year - that, and my recent run-ins with blasts from the past, whether online (thank you, Facebook) or in person.

Last week I reconnected with college alumni over martinis at Lola's in WeHo, a group of faces I hadn't seen in quite some time. We gathered to say goodbye to an acquaintance who, after six unsatisfactory years, had decided to dump Los Angeles for the East Coast. The six of us who met that night were the TV geeks of BU's College of Communication, crew members of BUTV's Bay State, the longest-running college soap in the country. I had been the head writer during my junior and senior years, fleshing out my Aaron Spelling fantasies, participating in the casting of new faces and plotting out ludicrous twists and turns for future episodes. For a brief moment in time I had been a mini Melrose-esque mastermind, and - not to toot my horn - I was pretty damn good.

To be honest, I was hesitant to rendezvous at a bar I hadn't visited in four years to see people with whom I hadn't interacted in nearly six years. The rekindling of any kind of relationship is a taxing thing. There's the obligatory rehashing of what you've been up to/where you've been, the feigned interest in what others have accomplished, and the empty promise to "do it again soon." Then the reality settles in, the possible truth of the matter, which is: There's a good reason why you haven't been in touch with these people in such a long time. You either realize that A) Wow, these people have become pretty boring or B) Gosh, I'm so far removed from them because I've already created my own little world filled with my own fabulous friends, established inside jokes, and cherished shenanigans. What's the point of coming back together? Why bother restructuring a bridge that will never be crossed again?

My hesitation quickly went out the door after finishing two martinis and later scarfing down some onion rings at Hamburger Mary's down the street. Next thing I knew, I was riding down Santa Monica Boulevard in a BMW coupe driven by a guy I hadn't seen since we drunkenly swapped Banana Republic jackets at a 2002 wrap party in a basement somewhere in Boston.

On the other hand, reconnecting online with nearly forgotten friends at least gives you the luxury of hiding behind profiles and random invitations to quiz each other on Tom Hanks films. There exists a pleasure, albeit a brief one, you get from seeing how an elementary school buddy has grown and changed. Sure, it's cool and somewhat entertaining to see how the shy nerd has blossomed into a hottie, how the hotshot athlete has become a paunchy prick. It's cute to see that the girl who nicknamed me Hiko-Biko in junior high shares a similar love for Ugly Betty and The Killers. Seeing their transformations helps you appreciate your own metamorphosis and validate yourself a little more.

I'm fine leaving it all behind though. Since living in Los Angeles, I have learned to let go of the tiresome efforts to keep in contact with every human being who has ever said "It's nice to meet you" over a beer or Red Bull vodka at any given mixer. Scratch that - I haven't completely given up on it; I have just become more discerning in my personal process of friend-picking. It's a skill one learns to perfect, especially in this city of the sincerity-challenged.

What does it say about me when the only friends I'd want to be reunited with are the ones that can be saved on my TiVo?

I don't see any reunion TV-movie events on the horizon anytime soon, although a return to Melrose Place and 90210 is long overdue. Come on, writers. You're back to work. Resurrect Amanda Woodward and Brandon Walsh.

After all, isn't 90s nostalgia in?


H.P.M.