The opening minutes of Pixar's latest masterpiece is a haunting stunner, something one would never expect from an animated film with the Disney label slapped on it. Let's put it this way: You'll never watch Hello Dolly! the same way again.
Wall-E is the last functioning robot on Earth, an adorable piece of scrap metal designed to compact the tons of trash left behind by humans. He's the more endearing (and less annoying) younger sibling of Short Circuit's Johnny 5, a diligent worker whose only companion is a cockroach sidekick. Wall-E works night and day, collecting items which intrigue him (including one very important plant), living inside a tank that houses all of his eclectic treasures.
Then, little Wall-E's world is turned upsidedown when a spiffier (read: sexier) robot-on-a-mission gets dropped off on Earth by a very large and very loud spacecraft. Her name is Eve (wink), a sleek and soaring bot that packs a mean (read: fiery) punch.
For a movie in which two-thirds has no dialogue, it speaks volumes. Humans do make an appearance later on in the third act, and it is a hilarious and yet frightening commentary on American consumerism. The film itself is an outstanding achievement, ready to be placed on the shelf alongside 2001 and E.T. as one of the greatest sci-fi movies in history.
Something to check off the Life List: Attend a 12-hour dance-music festival and immerse myself in some euphoric beats and an energy one rarely experiences on this planet.
Insomniac Events' annual ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL took place in downtown Los Angeles this past weekend, and Mona Holmes of SHEJAY.NET and I were fortunate enough to be included among the minimal press covering this musical event of epic proportions (Sadly, Big Chocolate herself was unable to attend at the last minute, so I was left to check out the shenanigans by myself).
A wi-fi Woodstock for the Facebook fiends of the 21st century, EDC, as the regulars call it, has grown considerably over its 12-year run. This year's event was quickly proving to be the biggest one yet. Among the celebrity DJs who filled up the roster: Benny Benassi, Armand Van Helden, DJ Heather, D.I.M., DJ Hype and MC Daddy Earl, Krafty Kuts, Freestylers and dozens more.
The night started early out on the 110 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard exit ramp. Two girls, fed up with the gridlock, bounced along the cars in the shoulder lane, hooting and cheering for those trapped in the standstill. Traffic was backed up for miles, caravans carrying alterna-teens and twentysomethings from all across the western half of the country: Eyebrow-pierced Zac Efron lookalikes in neon parachute pants. Bandana-covered bass boys decked out in Ed Hardy. Lollipop-sucking lolitas in colorful outfits rivaling Rainbow Brite's wardrobe. Tattooed Hello Kitty fetishists...
An estimated crowd of 50,000 invaded the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Park. Needless to say, crowd control was a major challenge. Security had their hands full with a mass entrance that didn't let up for hours.
Knowing full well that I'd probably get a contact high off the copious amounts of doobage that surrounded me, I surveyed the fairgrounds before the rest of my acquaintances showed up (good luck to them getting in). I befriended a group of out-of-towners while waiting in line for the Yo-Yo ride in the Circuit Grounds while Freestylers killed with a remix of N.E.R.D.'s "Everybody Nose." A blond fairy-princess stood behind us in line offering over-the-counter eye drops that apparently made your peepers "burn a little, then make them feel minty fresh." Soon after, the crazy kids were spotted sticking small, white Zycam-like tubes up their nostrils, inhaling the best pharmaceutical goodness CVS could supply.
BT opened shortly after 1am as he always does, spinning the original version of a well-known classic (this time, it was "Let it Be") and then warping the shit out of it with his trademark stutter edits. The man knows how to give good thump.
Colette spun and sang her rendition of "Didn't Mean to Turn You On" before Mark Farina's sick set in the Giant Peristyle corridor outside the Coliseum. Once Mark wrapped up at midnight, it was just a hop, skip and a bounce to Kinetic Field where Moby revved up his turntables and blew away the thousands of energy seekers who threw their hands into the air in praise of his sonic skillz.
Paul Van Dyk soon followed, closing the night on the massive Coliseum grounds. The Berlin-born maestro dominated the arena with "Time of Our Lives" and a variety of transcendent cuts from In Between.
It was a sobering 15-minute walk back to my car (I had lucked out with a spot in front of the Radisson at Figueroa and Exposition), and by the time I plopped myself into the driver's seat I saw that (shit) it was nearing 4am. My cell chimed telling me I had five new texts, all delayed from the f'ed-up signal inside the park. The most recent message was from a co-worker of mine who was stranded at the gates and needed a ride back to her car which was parked a mile away. With a quick look in the mirror (yay for bloodshot eyes!), I pulled out and drove back into the crowds.
A shoutout goes to all of the colorful characters I had the pleasure of meeting during my first EDC experience - The chatty couple who accompanied me on the walk back to the festival gates from my Quiznos dinner across the street. The dude who claimed to have had an in at Paul Van Dyk's penthouse suite afterparty. The peeved music exec who was on a mission to score some E or K (mental note: I should copy Sarah Polley's character in Go and sell baby aspirin next time...according to the short Asian dude who tried to sell me "some pills," the rate's fifteen bucks a pop). And of course, last but not least: Devo, Julie, Yolanda and Miss Amanda - glad we could meet up.
Bloodshot eyes no more,
*And special thanks to Matt at Insomniac for hooking us up with VIP access.
1. I am one impatient - but careful - sonofabitch on the road.
2. I wear flip-flops to the office.
3. The thought of asking someone for an autograph makes me ill.
4. I've turned Sunday brunch into a weekend staple.
5. I dig Spanish tiles.
6. I'm on lists.
7. I acknowledge and appreciate the trials and tribulations of freelancers (a.k.a The Frequently Unemployed).
8. I know how to scratch a back once mine is (preferably) scratched first.
8b. I'm pretty good at anticipating the needs of others.
9. I don't mind avocado with my breakfast.
10. I feel enormously fortunate to be in the company of such loving, talented and extraordinary individuals whom I am more than proud to call my friends, my companions, my second family - something I've learned to never take for granted.
My 6-year anniversary arrives, albeit without much fanfare, as yet another reminder of how far I've come, how much I've seen and how much I have yet to experience.
I'm riding a small wave of success with my bloggage. I continue to meet amazing people and experience things I couldn't have imagined when I was wee lad in Westchester surrounded by R.L. Stine novels and Matchbox cars. And I'm realizing now, according to the standards of the Young and Fresh Hollywood Meat Train, I am hitting Middle Age (thank you, group of young and ambitious summer interns who have recently invaded my office. Thank you for making me feel like I'll be eligible for Los Angeles Senior status several years from now).
I've seen the Grove in its infancy and the birth of the Americana. I've witnessed the facelifts of the Beverly Center, Rodeo Drive and the Abbey. I survived the brief Trucker Cap Renaissance of 2003. I inhaled every ash-filled afternoon during the brushfires of 2004. I saw Ryan Seacrest's talk show move in and out of Hollywood & Highland within a few blinks of an eye. I've seen to the Voodoo Lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard turn into a Brazilian restaurant, which then turned into a hovel for the homeless, which then turned into Java Detour coffeeshop (and speaking of Santa Monica, I've tolerated its messy expansion project through Century City). I happily welcomed the Beckhams to the neighborhood after their move from the U.K. And I have loved and lost the many who gave up on this town and moved off to other places in pursuit of something that didn't involve palm trees, paparazzi and Pinkberry.
I've played many a tour guide for vacationing friends and family throughout the years. Most recently, my father celebrated his 56th birthday last month here in sunny California, his fourth visit since I moved here from New York. For the first time in the four years since his stroke, he had the chance to play a round of golf, an accomplishment on which he prided himself. He needed to spend some time with his only child, soaking up the SoCal sun, "recharging his mental batteries," as I like to call it. And with every visit he becomes more determined to leave New York for good and move into the west wing of whatever house-in-the-hills I decide to buy once I "make it."
This particular visit wasn't just about seeing L.A. through the eyes of another visitor. It was about seeing myself through the eyes of a parent. Yet another sign of getting older; sympathizing with your mom and dad, understanding how it must feel to see a child grow up and create a life for himself, a life you could have never predicted or imagined for him. But it's a good life, nonetheless, that can - will - only get better.
This weekend I shall celebrate my six years in L.A., not with a cake or a cocktail, but with a dance under the stars downtown (See: Electric Daisy Carnival, an event I've been dying to attend ever since I was a wee 23-year-old living in Venice Beach).
Here's hoping I don't pass out under a pile of glowsticks after 2am.
Happy Anniversary to me.
Proving once again that I am months ahead of those music geeks at iTunes (inflating my ego as well), Sam Sparro's "Black & Gold" is this week's featured (and FREE) Single of the Week: "The new master of digital funk and atmospheric soul...the former child star and native Australian works a fair amount of magic on this self-titled debut. The track we've chosen this week, 'Black and Gold,' is a Daft Punk-meets-Jamie Lidell bit of hiccuping electro madness. If you've ever worn a pair of plastic-framed Ray-bans indoors (at night, especially), this is your new favorite song."
Me? I've never worn my sunglasses at night, but I will go out on a limb to say this is definitely one of the best singles of 2008. There's a reason why this track has been playing on repeat in my car every morning since April. ALSO NOTEWORTHY: "21st Century Life," "Sick," and "Too Many Questions".
Need more convincing? Here's a REMINDER
With great bloggage comes great responsibility...
Michael Medico and Corey Moore, the fantabulous founders of HOTINHOLLYWOOD.TV (or, as most of us like to call them, M&M), have recently appointed me Managing Editor of their website.
For the past couple of weeks I've been taking over the reins while they've been immersing themselves in new ventures and research for revamping the site itself, something I hope to oversee as well (oh advertisers, where for art thou?). We will continue to work and pride ourselves on being a Hollywood site that doesn't dish out malicious gossip and petty rumors. That's our angle, and we're sticking to it. We just need to keep up our traffic and inject the whole milkshake with a few more energy boosts.
I've accepted the task and look forward to the challenge.
What this now means for me: Pulling in double (sometimes triple) time while updating both The First Echo and Hot in Hollywood, doing my little freelance gig for Instinct magazine, and completing that Great American TV Pilot for the network that will give me the best development deal.
Promotions within the blogosphere don't happen like they do in the real world. This particular one came about from an email chain (naturally) involving one of our regular contributors to the site, Wonder, our horoscope specialist.
This is how it all went down:
CC: coreymoore1; hiko331
Subject: Re: horoscope column
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 11:46:17 -0700
> hey babe-
> TOTAL MISUNDERSTANDING!!
> Since you were no longer sending us the info directly but instead
> sending us a reminder to go to your blog to check it out- I thought
> you were done with us!
> I would love to continue to have your horoscopes on our blog! Hiko
> has become the managing editor (officially) so will you send them to him?
> Hiko - would you like this position officially? It comes with benefits...
From: Hiko Mitsuzuka
To: Michael Medico (michaelmedico), wonderbright
Cc: Moore Corey (coreymoore1)
Subject: Re: horoscope column
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 11:56:11 -0700
Wonder, go ahead and CC me on whatever you send.
Benefits, eh? Why do I get the feeling we ain't talking Blue Cross or Aetna here?
Gee, managing editor...I already have soooo much on my plate as it is. Hmmm....
Sincerely putting out a handshake,
From: Wonder (wonderbright)
Sent: Mon 6/23/08 1:29 PM
To: Hiko Mitsuzuka (hiko331); Michael Medico (michaelmedico)
Cc: Moore Corey (coreymoore1)
Subject: Re: horoscope column
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 11:59:01 -0700
I assumed it would be as easy to cut and paste it from the blog as from my email - from now on I'll email it to Hiko (GRAND MASTER FLASH HEAD POOBAH OF HIH.TV!!!) directly.
Here's to conquering the rest of the blogosphere,
Okay, it's a given: the U.K. has suddenly become one big factory pumping out stylishly soulful, from-another-era singers. The latest chanteuse to come off the assembly line after Amy, Adele and Duffy is GABRIELLA CILMI. Consider her a welcome and more organic antithesis to Miley Cyrus (and yes, this Aussie is 15 too - IN. SANE.). Our spotlighted song? "Sweet About Me," an easy-breezy-beautiful teaser of a track that's been a hit all across the interwebs.
Remember her name, because if history is to repeat itself, Americans will be humming along to her tune in no time:
Thank God someone has finally taken down these billboards on Overland Avenue near the entrance to the 10 Freeway. No longer do I have to face these spotlight-hungry coke whores on my way to work every morning.
I didn't mind The Village, even that freakin' "bedtime story" Lady in the Water.
But, M. Night, really?
Is your clout now that big enough to pull together hundreds of people, spend millions of dollars, waste so much time - to make this?
Remember that Three's Company episode where Jack was panicking over the arrival of a famous food critic who was coming in to review his bistro? The reviewer was a stuck-up prick who couldn't give poor unlucky Jack a break.
That's the way the media has usually portrayed critics - tightassed, anal-retentive snobs who think they're above everyone else, their attitudes probably stemming from years of being nobodies with ignored opinions and sad social lives.
In no way whatsoever do I consider myself a critic (several more paid writing gigs and a byline in Entertainment Weekly, then you can get back to me), but I'm starting to understand where the sentiment is coming from. After a while, critics/commentators/reviewers develop a sense of entitlement. They feel the pressure to live up to expectations, to provide the masses with what they think is worthy of their attention via witty commentary or snide remarks. However, some of the commentary can turn bitter, hateful, and that's a major turn-off. It's classic Revenge of the Nerd. Someone who has been put down and snubbed in the past finally breaks out and stamps on those who once thought he was nothing but a waste of air.
I hesitate to use him as an example because I've gone so long without typing his name on this site, but look at Perez Hilton. Sidenote: I'm actually one degree of separation away from the Queen of All Media. He used to work at the same magazine as a friend of mine, and I met him once before he decided to go all Hair Color of the Month. He started from nothing, AS a nothing, and caught everyone's attention by posting daily malicious gossip that was easily accessible to an audience hungry for it. Yes, he's built himself a little empire (VH1 specials, clothing lines, etc), but is it me, or has he finally outdone himself? And dude, what's with the 'tude? Last summer I was a witness to an amusing brawl he had with a lesbian security guard at a film festival party, an incident straight out of the slapsticky world of Jack Tripper and Friends.
And did you see/read about his 30th birthday bash? The bitch (and I used the term endearingly) had it sponsored by dozens of products he gets for free every week. That sense of entitlement? It's all there. In a way, he's blurring the lines between blogger and critic with the way he's acting, and that may not be a good thing for the rest of us who have yet to dominate the domains out there in cyberspace.
Sure, I'm a little jealous. He's raised the bar in the blogosphere and inspired countless others to create their own pages of passionate pop culture ponders. As much as it may disgust you to realize it, he's a kind of pioneer.
Recently, I have become inundated with free products myself, mostly from a publicity firm that relies on my bloggage (mostly on HOT IN HOLLYWOOD) to promote books, DVDs and CDs from their clients, whether or not I like them. And I can't help but feel a little tingle inside, a slight joy from feeling like I'm getting away with something. You mean to tell me, if I promise to write about it, you'll send me free shit? Is it really this easy?
Honestly, it's pretty sweet. I'm a kid in a giant candy store...except the candy is books and DVDs and CDs...so I guess I'm a dork trapped in my own personal Best Buy. However, my room is getting more cluttered with every shipment I receive. This just means I'll have to eventually resell it all to Amoeba, replacing it with more crap, or have one helluva time during the holidays when I run out of gift ideas.
And it doesn't stop there. Apparently, if you consider yourself a blogger extraordinaire and write for a pretty legit website that attracts a decent amount of traffic, you can also be considered a member of the press and apply for the coveted Press Pass, which is basically free entrance to all types of hot events. This is something I've only learned in the past couple of months. Last week I received my badge for July's Comic-Con International in San Diego, a pop culture junkie's wet dream. And this week, I look forward to being added to the press list for Electric Daisy Carnival later this month in downtown L.A. (where I hope to meet BT and worship his live sonic skillz among a bouncing crowd of thousands).
"What makes a blogger extraordinaire?" you ask. The prerequisites are rather simple:
1) Be grammatically correct and a good speller (proofread and edit the crap out of yourself).
2) Write at least five entries a week.
3) Be passionate about what you're blabbering about (engage your readers - no one wants a boring list of things you did over the weekend, the highlight being your purchase of the Persian rug you've been eying for months at a flea market).
Sometimes I look at blogging like an addiction (Must. Talk. About. Linsday's. New. Single), but most of the time I consider it a therapy. Instead of going to a shrink, I can visit my local coffeeshop, plop down on a plush chair and vomit my thoughts onto my laptop and into the cyberunknown where RSS feeds and trackers can turn me into one of the millions of blips their radars. And in some serendipitous way, the blogosphere will surprise me with some validation every once in a while ("Europe loves you!"). Who needs human interaction when I can always rely on some lovin' from DevoLuva77 and BabeeGrl19?
Pathetic much? Nah, it's just self-realized self-absorption.
Really hoping The Happening doesn't suck,
Your Blogging Fiend
Hot damn, I wanna see this movie now!
We're all in for a holiday treat come December when David Fincher's highly anticipated and whimsical tale of epic proportions, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button drops in theaters (I'm feelin' the Forrest Gump/Big Fish vibe). Brad Pitt is the titular character who is truly one unique individual: he ages backwards. Born as an old man and dying as an infant, Benny B sets off on an incredible journey of events, befriends a number of people along the way and falls in love with Cate Blanchett, who doesn't age backwards (sucks for her):
Then, there's a curious case of another kind, that being of Vin Diesel. Babylon A.D. is a futuristic tale about a former soldier/mercenary/all-around badass who has to protect and smuggle a "gifted" woman into the country (her talent? stay for the end of the trailer). Normally, I wouldn't touch a Vin Diesel vehicle with a ten-foot pole attached to another ten-foot pole, but something about it intrigues me. Maybe it's the fact that it's an original action film and not another frickin' comic-book or graphic novel adaptation (or a remake, for that matter...please tell me it's not a remake). The shit goes down Labor Day weekend:
After nearly three years of scouring Amazon.com to see when one of my favorite British movies of all time, Peter's Friends, would be released in the States, I finally had my prayers answered.
Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in this beautiful British Big Chill about college chaps who reunite for a New Year's Eve weekend at a countryside estate. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Emma Thompson (when she was married to Branagh in real life), Hugh Laurie (years before House), Imelda Staunton, Stephen Fry, and Rita Rudner. The 80s soundtrack is killer, highlighted by an amazing opening credits sequence done to Tears for Fears's "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."
The film was released here as an indie in 1992, back when independent films barely registered on the mainstream radar. And back then, when I was wee lad in Westchester, the only theater that played indies or foreign films (outside Manhattan, of course) was a venue situated in a small Hartsdale strip mall on Central Park Avenue. Sadly, it is now a patio furniture outlet sharing a parking lot with a California Pizza Kitchen.
I fell in love with the movie (and all things British) when I rented it from the New Rochelle Public Library one rainy afternoon in the mid-90s. Since then, all that I had to cherish it with was a grainy VHS copy dubbed from cable. And the burning desire to spend a rainy weekend at a British countryside manor.
Thank you, Samuel Goldwyn Films, for finally making my small geeky wish come true.
Planning to jump on my mailbox the minute my DVD arrives,
Ash, I dug (and defended) most of your album back in the winter of 2006, but to cover a Rick Astley song (with shit production value no less) is a serious musical crime. That, and you purposely misspelled "Gonna" in the title. Really?
Okay, so it looks like this is a part of some Degree deodorant campaign. I would like to know which prick creative at what agency thought of this? Hey let's Disneyfy the shit out of 80s pop classics!
(In the meantime, I'll wait for a remix)
Dinner at STK in West Hollywood (so new, so hot) with Kathleen and fabulous Australian fashion designer Rhonda Betts started much later than we had anticipated.
K was coming from prepping a huge event at the LACMA, and, according to the hostess, we couldn't be seated until all three of us were present (our res had been for 9:15). However, once we were all gathered - cocktails in hand, purchased at the bar where a scruffy DJ spun some 60s doo-wop and 80s rock - David, the dashing manager who tried his best to cater to the needs of the growing crowd, was all apologies and informed us our original table wouldn't be ready. Reluctantly pulling the I-Know-Someone Card, I asked David if the owner was on the premises for a quick hello. Clearly he got my hint, and with a promise to make it up to us later, he told us a better table was being set up and "would be ready shortly."
Thankfully I wasn't too famished. I had nibbled on some tuna before leaving the house, and the cherry cosmo I just finished was working its wonders on my face. Rhonda was already on her second Southern Comfort and Diet when we were finally seated.
Jason Statham, just as chisled and short in person as one would imagine, was at a table across from us, chatting it up with an entourage that consisted of obligatory hotness and sharks in tie-free suits. Throughout the night he seemed to have been making rounds both at the bar and at his table of posers.
Our server, Andrew, was a ball of energy, killing us all with a big smile full of pearly whites. An actor no less, something I learned while eavesdropping on his exchange with the diners next to us. He offered a bottle of STK's finest pinot noir as we ordered appetizers: Foie Gras French toast with green apple, almond brioche, and sherry gastrique and a dozen raw oysters with cups of red wine vinagrette and cocktail sauce.
We all ordered steaks. My 16-ounce New York was topped with black truffles, and along with the sides of mac and cheese, garlic asparagus, parmesean fries and golden mash, it was a decadent feast fit for a gluttonous royal. David's apologetic gesture for making us wait turned out to be an on-the-house dessert, STK's special dessert trifecta: banana bread pudding (the best), strawberry shortcake and chocolate donut balls filled with a raspberry cream (eh - not so much).
Few of you may remember how Kathleen and I met Rhonda. Since then, Kathleen had the pleasure of visiting Rhonda and her family in Melbourne last year, whereas I had the pleasure of living vicariously through Kathleen.
Talks of traveling the world rounded out the night, and Rhonda became determined to concoct a business strategy for me and Kathleen (she's quite the proud businesswoman) so that we could take over the world ourselves. She even went so far as to extend an invitation to her Melbourne beach house in November, or whenever, and hang out with her three children, all twentysomethings carving out their own niches in the world (documentarian, clothing designer and musician).
I love a good niche.
I drove Rhonda back to the Luxe, the boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, the scene from our first encounter back in June of 2006. It was nearing one in the morning, and I was struggling to stay awake and keep my stomach from further upset. I thanked her again for the dinner and wonderful time. Exchanging business cards (I jotted down the name of a J.F.K. biography I recommended), we promised to keep in touch.
I made it home safely, rolling into the garage with visions of frolicking on the Australian coast, eating great food, taking in the scenery. I should look up airfares to Melbourne, see how much damage a trip to Oz could do.
Ah look. Seems like there's an Oceanic flight available for a round trip. Flight number 815...
*For those of you in town:
755 North La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: (310) 659-3535
Because I measure at a 15 on the Dork Scale of 1 to 10, I couldn't help but squeal with delight yet again at the NEW (yes, another one) trailer for The X-Files: I Want to Believe (out July 25). We see more of Amanda Peet. We see more of that crazy Billy Connoly. And we get more shadowy figures running through the cold night. We still have no clue what the plot is, but you can bet geeks everywhere will be taking tequila shots whenever Scully yells out Mulder's name throughout the film (color me wasted). WATCH:
Then, we get The Women, a film in which there are so many vaginas, it may just make Sex and the City look like a Monday Night Football outing. Annette Bening. Meg Ryan. Jada Pinkett-Smith. Bette Midler. Debra Messing. Eva Mendes. Carrie Fisher. Debi Mazar. Candice Bergin. Cloris Leachman...Gossip is dished. Hearts are broken. Betrayal is tolerated. Passion is ignited...
Break out the Botox and Monistat on September 12 (and yes, it's a remake to that 1939 farce with Joan Crawford). WATCH:
It's only getting hotter out there, so cool off with some more tunage I've collected for ya. We've got the new PCD to get you pumped for that night out on the town, the latest from Duffy to help you lounge away by the pool, a welcome return by Cyndi Lauper, and another irresistible dance track from Rihanna to help you sweat off all that barbecue.
School may be getting out, but here's one more lesson on how to create that definitive summer soundtrack. Pencils ready?
1. "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay
2. "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa feat. Colby O'Donis
3. "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" by Madonna
4. "Disturbia" by Rihanna
5. "The Time of My Life" by David Cook
6. "When I Grow Up" by The Pussycat Dolls
7. "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry
8. "Into the Nightlife" by Cyndi Lauper - The girl who just wanted to have fun returns triumphantly with a single from an album that's practically her own Confessions on a Dance Floor:
9. "Labels Or Love" by Fergie
10."Closer" by Ne-Yo
11. "Break the Ice (Jason Nevins Rock Edit)" by Britney Spears - Our favorite hot mess gets an emo makeover...and it suits her.
12. "If I Never See Your Face Again" by Maroon 5 feat. Rihanna - Adam Levine dabbles in a little foreplay with the current Queen of Top 40 Collaborations:
13. "The Dynamo of Volition" by Jason Mraz
14. "Shut Up and Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings - You loved 'em in those energetic iPod commercials...now play them on your iPod.
15. "Move for Me (Radio Edit)" by Kaskade and Deadma5
16. "One Step at a Time" By Jordin Sparks
17. "21st Century Life" by Sam Sparro - Take a dash of George Michael with a little Prince flavor. Stir and serve.
18. "All Dressed in Love" by Jennifer Hudson
19. "Stars" by Kylie Minogue
20. "Warwick Avenue" by Duffy - To help you get over that summer fling while savoring a nice cold glass of lemonade and running your toes through the sand at the beach. Watch the video here.
21. "Genesis" by Justice
It cost $41 to fill up my tank with gas last week, a new record for me since living in this city of constant commuting. Six years ago, $16 was all it took to get me filled up for the road. To say the least, it's hurting like a mofo to travel the slightest distance within these city limits.
I live near Westwood, a mile west of Century City, and during most of my weeks I find myself having to drive to the Hollywood area (the East Side) quite often. And during those drives I usually pass gas stations displaying the most recent price hikes. It's chilling actually. Who could have fathomed paying $4.25 for a gallon of gas half a decade ago? Granted, Sydney, my loyal Focus, maintains an impressive MPG, and my commute to work every day is a blessed four miles each way (a rarity in this town). However, I sympathize with those who have to fill up those larger tanks (not just those gas-guzzling SUVs) and squeeze more dollars out of their wallets.
Most of my destinations are east of me, and I find myself getting quite familiar with the long stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that runs through Beverly Hills. I know to avoid that pesky pothole in the right lane on the Camden Drive block. I know I'll be greeted by the cardboard-sign-carrying war veteran who stands outside the Catholic church near the Rodeo intersection (he's always in the same pin-striped suit; it is Beverly Hills after all). I even know the red-light pattern during that 2-mile run, and it never fails. I'm guaranteed to hit three reds all the way from Doheny to Wilshire.
The gas price hike is a bitch because it seems to be limiting people from their recreational options. I'd love to take drive down to San Diego, but the round trip is going to cost me two movies and three brunches in West Hollywood. Hell, Santa Barbara should be gorgeous this time of year, but my utility bills ain't gonna pay for themselves.
To those of you reading who live in Silverlake and anywhere else east of La Brea, I apologize in advance if I gradually refrain from trekking across town to hang out. I'm sure we can meet somewhere in between, or perhaps we can alternate weekends in our respective hoods.
One positive that may come out of this crisis: More walking (and cardio)! I love my neighborhood. I love the fact that I can walk to a number of places and still thrive for several days without getting behind the wheel. I have my pick of coffee chains (Peet's, Starbucks and Coffee Bean are all within two blocks), dry cleaning, video rental stores and Middle Eastern take-out (If you're ever in my hood, Sunnin Lebanese Cafe is the shiz). Westwood Village is only a 15-minute stroll away (if I ever want to feel young again and hang with UCLA undergrads who were still clinging to their Tickle-Me Elmos when I was writing term papers on Jane Austen). The Westside Pavilion is just south of me, home to Barnes & Noble (bookworm power!), Nordstrom (rich and bored housewives unite!) and a snazzy, 12-screen fine-arts theater with a bar where I once caught a sloshed Quentin Tarantino mouthing off to a pimply-faced usher.
That kid probably went home after his shift and burned his copy of Jackie Brown.
Oy. I really hope it doesn't get much worse. I'm starting to think we should all learn from this guy (stay for the closing credits, specifically at the 7:31 mark):
Wishing you well at the pumps,
The girl just doesn't stop.
Rihanna's got another single ready to rule the airwaves of yet another summer, and no, it ain't the theme song to the Shia LeBeouf suspenser from last year. "Disturbia" promises to be the dance hit of the season, and it can be found on her upcoming re-release of Good Girl Gone Bad. Like she says, go and "figure this shit out."