A Fine '09: Winter 2009

burnt 56 fine in 09

This playlist is long overdue, and for that I apologize. I realize y'all have been songless for the past two months, but the wait is over (I like to imagine there's a ton of y'all out there eagerly awaiting my seasonal compilations with anticipation). Here's a soundtrack to help you get through all of the broken New Year's resolutions, all of the winter chills and all of the economy-related stress.

Sealed and approved by yours truly:

1. "Girl Next Door" by Darin - Get past the "Just Dance" rip-off and imagine the whole thing choregraphed at a senior prom in a number that would make HSM3 look like a cheesy theme park attraction. Listen HERE.

2. "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson

3. "Give It To Me Right" by Melanie Fiona

4. "Kiss You All Over" by Danny:



5. "Halo" by Beyonce

6. "If U Seek Amy" by Britney Spears

7. "Love Lockdown (LMFAO Electro Remix)" by Kanye West - For those of you who grew tired of that minimalist original, get a jolt of this:



8. "Dead and Gone" by T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake

9. "The Fear" by Lily Allen:



10. "When You Touch Me" by Freemasons

11. "Top of the World" by Pussycat Dolls

12. "Broken Strings" James Morrison feat. Nelly Furtado

13. "Future Love" by Varsity Fanclub

14. "Allow Me to Introduce Myself...Mr. Right" by White Tie Affair

15. "Don't Stop Believing" by George Lamond - Journey gets the Eurotrash treatment...and it ain't all that bad.

16. "Life in Technicolor II" by Coldplay:



17. "I Like it Rough" by Lady GaGa

18. "Dance, Dance" by Booty Luv

19. "Seventeen Forever" by Metro Station

20. "So Good" by Elektrik Red

21. "The Loving Kind" by Girls Aloud

You're welcome,

H.P.M.


Here We Are

barack toni tim

As I stepped out of the Coffee Bean at Beverly and Robertson and into the toasty 80-degree January sunshine, I tried to bypass the scurrying paparazzi on the sidewalk in between sips of my ice-blended mocha which nearly splashed all over the Prada purse that came within a few centimeters from slapping me in the face. The unemployed and apparently careless actress who was walking ahead of me was probably in a rush to hop in her IS Coupe and hit the new Kitson on Melrose.

Ah, to be back in L.A....

After more than three weeks into the new year, I have adjusted to being back in Los Angeles after my longest holiday visit to New York since 2004. I am readjusting to a day without treating myself to a 12-hour DVD marathon on the couch. I am readjusting to a diet that doesn't consist of chips and dip, sugar cookies and sweet potato pecan pie. And I am happily readjusting to a climate without wind chills below zero (sorry new H&M scarf - back in the closet you go). I don't have resolutions; I have goals which I'll jot down in a little notebook and keep to myself. I don't have regrets from the previous year; I have continued hope and aspirations for what I had signed off in countless holiday cards as "a fine '09."

Upon my return to L.A. I made it a priority to reconnect with acquaintances I hadn't seen in a long time. While most of my intentions are that of a networking nature (hello, look where I live), I do give a damn about what my industry brethren have been up to since I last met up with them over an overpriced cup of fro-yo or saw them at a birthday party of a mutual friend who has now dropped off the face of the planet.

Most connections acquaintances, I've learned, will jump at the chance to reconnect, reminisce, rekindle that platonic flame. Most people in this town just love an opportunity to talk about themselves. And it's not like I don't know what most of them have been doing with their lives. Thanks to Facebook stalking, the dangerous habit I've managed to pick up, I can see if they're attending "Mike's Inauguration Beer Bust," ignore the news articles they find so interesting that they have to share it with the rest of the world, and mentally note when they've been put back on the meat market (Dan Douchebag is now "single") - all with a simple click of a status update (another e-habit I can't quite shake).

I guess you could say my resolution for 2009 is to make more things happen for myself. If that involves volunteering my time at a read-through of play I have no interest in, or showing my face at an important friend-of-a-friend's promotion celebration, or driving out to the Valley to listen to a former coworker pitch a web series to me -- so be it.

While I get back into this groove, some random notes and blurbs...

THINGS THAT I'M LIKING RIGHT NOW:


Obama Inauguration

The excitement surrounding Barack Obama's first week as President of the United States of America - We held a special breakfast gathering in the conference room at work to watch the epic festivities in D.C. on Tuesday, and there wasn't a single dry eye in the room. And with a lineup that included Mary J. Blige, Bruce Springsteen, Usher, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder and John Legend (to name just a few), last Sunday's opening celebration at Lincoln Memorial proved to be the first mega concert of 2009.

The Real World: Brooklyn - Never did I think, at an age that now puts me waaaaay outside the MTV demographic, that I would once again enjoy the granddaddy of all pretentious reality shows. Sure, Season 21 (you can legally drink!) kicked off with the traditional let's-get-shitfaced first night out and the obligatory hot tub exchanges, but there was also a refreshing bunch of firsts for the show that brought it back down to earth: the series' first transgendered roommate (Kat), the series' first war veteran (Ryan, from Iraq) and the first time an eighth member was added to the cast. In the opener, we glimpsed into genuine personalities (and psyches) we thought had been totally eclipsed by the one-dimensional douchebags and ditzes who once populated the show. Thanks, MTV, for making The Real World a little more, well, real again.

This man:



The second season of Damages - God, what a good show. Entertainment Weekly hit it on the nail when calling this legal drama "the TV version of a page-turner suspense novel." Waiting over a year for it to come back, I now know what Sopranos fans felt like during the HBO drama's epic hiatuses. Just when the acting pedigree couldn't get any stronger, producers added Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt and Tim "Hot-at-40" Olyphant to the already sterling cast. One nitpick though: Is it me, or has Rose Byrne gotten ultra skinny this year?



The United States of Tara - Here's my first prediction for 2009: Toni Collette will receive an Emmy nomination come August for her portrayal as a suburban housewife with multiple personalities. Produced by Spielberg and created by scribe-god Diablo Cody (piss off, haters), the half-hour seriocomedy is another brilliant slice taken from the Showtime pie (for those of you who aren't subscribed - and there are many of you - catch the pilot on sho.com) and maybe you can thank me later. I recently caught a sneak preview of the first two episodes at the Landmark in West L.A. I had so much fun I felt like breaking out into one of my own "alters" and streaking down the aisles of the adjacent Barnes and Noble. The show does have its standout: Keir Gilchrist, who plays Marshall, Tara's jazz-loving, Valley-of-the-Dolls-reading 14-year-old son. Ripe for a huge character arc that boy is.

THINGS THAT I'M NOT LIKING RIGHT NOW:


My upstairs neighbor who hits the treadmill on weekend mornings - It sounds like a construction crew is pounding away at my ceiling, and at any moment I'll be treated to an early breakfast of plaster, cement and dustmites. I have dreams of getting all Amanda Woodward on her ass, but usually I'm too lazy to put on some pants, storm upstairs and knock on the door to tell the cardio-loving wench to go get a gym membership like the rest of us.

The recent trend of splitting TV seasons in half - Like many viewers, I was confused and mistook the recent return of Nip/Tuck as a sixth-season premiere. Upon catching a glimpse of the Season 5: Part One DVD in Best Buy the week prior, I realized FX was merely airing the remaining half of Season 5. The same is happening with Battlestar Galactica. Part two of the fourth and final season kicked off last Friday, and I, along with my fellow Galacticaheads (thank gods that I found you) gathered for a themed party. The stretching out of these seasons, while an obvious programming and marketing strategy, is just plain annoying, especially when fans are faced with spending more money on the DVDs. Instead of one boxed set per season, we now have to shell out more to make our collection complete. It's bollocks, I say. One, big frakking mess.

AND THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME GO "HMMMM"


Traveling - My destinations for 2009: Seattle, Yosemite, Vancouver, New York, Hawaii, Paris and London. My chances of hitting all of them in 2009: anorexically slim.

Oscar nominations - Try me here.

The Beginning of the 30s - Birthdays, that is. In the span two weeks I've already celebrated that adulthood milestone with two of my friends, and it's just the beginning. By the end of '09, several of my former classmates and close friends will have completed their third decade of life (God, that sounds horrible), signaling the fact that GenY is finally growing up. And what do we have to show for it? Neverending debt. Unwavering loyalties to videogames. And continued efforts to find, to love -- to settle down with -- that special someone.



How can you blame us? We live and play (mostly play) in an increasingly compartmentalized world that makes it difficult for most of us to put down the controllers (or, more fittingly, the Wii guitars and drumsticks), turn off the cartoons and resist the prize-packed cereal boxes on every supermarket shelf we browse. At least that's what I've been observing here within the Angeleno tribe.

If 40 is arguably the new 30, then 30 is indeed starting to look like the new 20.

One of my favorite novels in the last ten years, Turning Thirty, by Mike Gayle, follows one bloke's experiences as he faces his benchmark birthday and returns to his hometown in England to reminisce with his mates who have already hit or are approaching the same milestone. At times depressing, but at times comforting (Gayle's prose is matter-of-fact yet engaging), the book is full of quotable passages. I highly recommend it. I plan to reread it as my youth nears its death sentence.

Y'all are invited to the blowout in March 2010.

In the meantime...

Welcome to Obamalot,
H.P.M.

Freaking Out



I thought to myself, Do a little browsing on Amazon, see what new releases are coming out soon...

Then, I saw these.

And then, I had to suppress a squeal while doing my best not to overdo the Happy Dance in my chair.

I can see that my spring will be taken up with several trips to my favorite cul-de-sac and apartment complex in L.A.



Finally, after one long-ass wait, I can relive the treachery and the bitchery...To all my 50-year-old housewives out there, ya feel me?

Amanda Woodward and Abby Cunningham, how I've missed you so.

H.P.M.