Cause for a Truffle Shuffle

To celebrate 25 years since the dynamic duo of Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner gave us The Goonies on the big screen, the Blu-Ray gods have blessed us with the above (available November 2).

Needless to say, I nearly hyperventilated when I happened to catch this announcement while browsing through Amazon. The film represents a true landmark of my childhood, one of the first movies I had seen in a theater (the first, or the earliest I can remember, was the re-release of Pinocchio sometime in the early 80s). I have vague memories of my grandmother taking me to see The Goonies in one of the old moviehouses on Main Street back in New Rochelle. It must have left a huge impression on me because whenever it showed up on TV, I would drop everything and glue my eyes to the screen. Perhaps it was the whole wonder-and-awe sentiment of the film, allowing millions of little boys and girls to indulge in their ultimate fantasy -- that there's adventure and excitement (and pirate's booty) just waiting to be discovered in your own backyard.

Once my family had recording capabilities on our VCR (circa 1992, embarrassingly late compared to others), I'd tape the movie to keep for future viewings. It wasn't until I was in high school when I finally got the unedited VHS copy in its plush and oversized family-friendly case; I could officially add it to my library, proudly shelved alongside Jurassic Park, My Best Friend is a Vampire, and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Cut to 2001: My mom had bought our first DVD player on Central Avenue in Yonkers for a then-reasonable $250. Later that summer, I visited a friend in Philadelphia and, upon stopping at a nearby Suncoast, discovered the DVD had contained commentary by the reunited cast. I freaked out and immediately purchased it before hopping on a train back to New York. Goodbye crappy VHS. Hello newly minted DVD...with bonus features! I was ecstatic.

And now, nine years later, I am a giggly little boy all over again...and somewhat sad to know that there exists an entire generation that probably doesn't know the movie at all.

If I ever see the words "Goonies remake" printed in Variety anytime soon, I may have to pull a Sloth and bash the heads of a couple of studio execs.

H.P.M.


4

With my current state of affairs, I had nearly forgotten that TheFirstEcho.com turns 4 years old this month. Four years of "life updates" from Los Angeles. Four years of pop cultural commentary and numerous attempts to make sense of this odd planet we call Hollywood. Four years of trying to navigate my life through a gauntlet of rejections, celebrations, surprises and achievements.

Looking back at one of my first postings, I see that four years ago I was obsessed with a new local band called Under The Influence of Giants (and where are they now?) as well as Christina's then-released Back to Basics (a far cry from her Bionic plea for attention). Four years ago I just started working at Anonymous Content. Four years ago I joined a little event called Hot in Hollywood. Four years ago I clearly wasn't the same person who now writes this to you.

Where am I now? Well, if you've checked out my previous entries, then you should get a clear picture. Despite it all, however, there still is hope. There still is ambition. There still is the urge to kick some ass.

And then there's my newest musical obsession: "Microphone," by Sweden's pop prince, Darin. The take-charge, nothing's-gonna-stop-me message is what I need right now. And it doesn't hurt that it's hella catchy with its circa-1988 synths:


The Big C: Part 2

August 16, 2010. 8:00AM

My mom had lung cancer.

Well, I hope that's true by the time you read this. Had. As in, gone. Done away with.

Where did we leave off?

This morning I was too lazy to drive to the gym, but I pushed myself out the door to go on a jog/walk in my neighborhood. I say jog/walk with an emphasis on 'walk' since my pathetic endurance allows me to jog three or four blocks at a time. With every step and every breath I took I imagined each inhalation of fresh air, by some way of divine magic, pumping into my mom's lungs from across the country. Each step, each sucked-in ounce of oxygen, was for her. If I sound like I'm getting all mystical and holistic on you, then blame/applaud Eat Pray Love. I'm 60 pages away from the end, and reading it couldn't have come at a better time. Sure, it's brought on the itch to drop everything and travel across the globe, but simply reading it every night before I go to bed is an act of meditation in itself. I've dogeared several pages on which I've found some helpful quotes to remember. The book can work for anyone, no matter what kind of shit you may be going through.

As I huffed and puffed along the streets of Westwood, I tried to muster up every good thought possible and started to envision positive signs at every corner. I noticed a man walking his golden retriever across the street. The dog turned its head when it spotted me, as if to say: "Hey man, hope your mom pulls through." His voice was soothing like an old man's, full of wisdom and experience. Like Morgan Freeman.

It continued as I went further, imagining wellwishers from all walks of life greeting me along my route. The charcoal gray cat that always sits in front of the house with the brick path: "Hello Hiko, how's your mother doing?" The Guatemalan leafblower who took off his soiled cap and nodded to me: "Buenos dias, Senor Hiko. Send your madre my love." The jogging powercouple who passed me on Santa Monica Boulevard: (out of breath) "Send Sandy our best!" Even a voice from the massive Mormon temple perched on top of the hill two blocks from my apartment: "Although we don't share the same values, we wish your mother all the strength in the world."

The world had my mother's back.

I had gone through a similar scare back in the summer of '04 when my father suffered a stroke in the middle of the work day. It was sudden, and therefore, more of a shock. I received the news when I working as a PA in Studio City. It was extremely terrifying for my father since he had lost his father to a stroke when he was young. I had flown out the following week to see him go through the rigorous physical therapy the best rehab could provide. It was as if the Universe was slapping me in the face telling me, "Hey! Just because you're getting older doesn't mean your parents don't." Thanks for the reminder.

Besides the DVDs, the numerous September issues and the home-cooked meals I plan to provide for my mother, I feel that some music would also help her get through the recovery process. I've already sent her that James Taylor and Carole King concert CD, and although she's managed to learn every word to "Alejandro," she'll need some new tunage. And if you know me, I've already started compiling a playlist. Consider it her aural therapy. Consider it a belated sequel to my summer soundtrack as well.

A sample:

1. "The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + The Machine - If this doesn't lift your spirits, then get yourself some serious therapy.
2. "For The First Time" by The Script - These Irish lads have returned with a single about getting through tough times with your head held high:

3. "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry - Because everyone should feel this way.
4. "Oh No!" by Marina and the Diamonds
5. "Please Don't Let Me Go" by Olly Murs
6. "You Lost Me" by Christina Aguilera
7. "Crossfire" by Brandon Flowers
8. "Monster" by Lady Gaga
9. "It's Working" by MGMT
10. "Include Me Out" by Robyn

August 16, 2010. 1:38PM

My dad just called to say that the 4-hour surgery went well. She will have one night in ICU, then off to her regular room to recuperate.

I can breathe a little easier. Hopefully she will too.

TO BE CONTINUED...

H.P.M.


The Big C

August 11, 2010.

My mother has lung cancer.

I think the more I say it - or if I write it down several times - the less scary it will become. But right now, I'm not sure if it does. I'm also not sure if it was inevitable. Inevitable meaning: Life has treated me pretty well thus far (no abuse, no trauma, no life-scarring events), and I've been extremely fortunate without having to endure any extreme hardships, which only begs the question of What could possibly go wrong? Inevitable meaning: my mother had been a smoker for as long as I can remember, and as an f'ed-up sign of irony delivered from the Universe, she was diagnosed only two months after quitting cigarettes altogether. Inevitable meaning: I'm starting to think that Fate definitely doesn't like to be tempted.

This recent development has forced me to teeter closer to the edge of that Worst Nightmare I've had ever since I was a child: losing a parent.

But before some of you jump to express your sympathy (to those who have already, it is tremendously appreciated), I must say that it isn't all gloom and doom. Her doctors are hopeful because A) it was caught super early (I believe it's called Stage 1?) and B) she's in "the best possible situation given these circumstances." They don't even foresee her needing any further treatment (i.e. that nasty chemo) once she has the surgery to remove the small tumor that's been sitting on top of her right lung.

The tumor. When I think of the tumor, I envision it as a cartoonish black blob, much like that animated mucus creature in those Mucinex ads you see on TV. It has short arms, a pair of stubby little legs, and a vicious, take-no-prisoners attitude. I'm a tumor, and I'm just gonna plop myself down in your body, and I don't give a shit how if affects you. I dare you to get rid of me. I ain't going nowhere. In my mind, Mr. Tumor has a cockney accent, carries the lazy swagger of a Russian mobster, and lacks grammar skills.

My mother's surgery is scheduled to take place on Monday, August 16 at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut. The medical facility, as my mother described it to me over the phone, is a gorgeous, well-kept resort-like place. "Naturally," I told her. "It's Greenwich."

"They even have a grand piano in the lobby when you walk in," she continued.

"Of course they do." Again: Greenwich. I wouldn't be surprised if every room featured a chandelier and plasma TV for each "guest."

The doctor who is to perform the surgery is Dr. Paul Waters. My mom told me to Google him, so I did, hence the headshot I found on the hospital's website. Dr. Waters hails from the University of Toronto (we adore Canadians). His specialty his Thoracic Surgery. He's around my mom's age. He has a pleasant demeanor. He enjoys Italian food, reruns of Magnum P.I., long walks with his Golden Retriever, Chester, and skiing in Vermont every January. Okay, so that last part isn't true, but maybe he does enjoy a plate of spaghetti and meatballs every now and then.

My plan is to take a red-eye into New York on the morning of Thursday the 19th. By that time, my mom will have started her preparations to make the transition to a full recovery at home. I, along with my dad and a dozen other family members, will see to it that she gets plenty of care. I've already compiled a list of DVDs she'll need to watch, and she has already expressed interest in tearing through the September/Lady Gaga issue of Vanity Fair. My five days back in New York shall consist of movie marathons, catching up on my own reading, and cooking several Trader Joe-provided meals for both of my parents (because let's face it: my father's cuisine doesn't stretch much beyond his noodle bowls and chicken-and-rice dishes).

August 15, 2010

Since I won't be able to talk to my mother before her surgery tomorrow morning (with the time difference and all), I called her today to check in. She had taken the day off to tie up loose ends around the house and do some cleaning which I'm sure was a way to mentally prepare herself for the next few days. I wished her well (they're going to make her faster, better, stronger, etc), told her that I loved her (something we all need to say more of), and mentally prepared myself for another manic Monday.

Everything is going to be all right.

TO BE CONTINUED...


Theme Songs of the Month: August


That's right, songs. As in, plural. As in, more than one. The first you may recognize from a certain trailer for a certain movie starring a certain actress named Julia Roberts: Eat Pray Love. It's Florence + the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over," a joyous ode to...joy. And hope. Because without hope, there can be no joy. And right now, I need all the hope I can get.


The second tune, the rapturous "Drumming Song," also comes from the outstanding British band. Turn up the volume and let it recharge your mental batteries:


Treadmill Musings


Location: 24-Hour Fitness gym.
Time: 7:45am


Today, I will amp it up to Level 12.

That guy looks like LaFayette from True Blood.

Okay, is that smell coming from Old Dude Who Needs to Wear Longer Shorts?

Did I remember to turn on the dishwasher when I left the apartment?

Is it wrong of me to think that Fox News correspondent is hot?

Why is this TV tuned into Fox News?

"From here on out, I'll be your commander!"

I hope to God there's no one hovering near my locker when I go back in to shower. Out of all the lockers in the room, why does someone always have to pick the one RIGHT NEXT TO MINE?

Hey, where's that Wolf Blitzer lookalike? I haven't seen him in a while.

I'm hungry.

The water from this place tastes funny.

Does she really need to be wearing that much makeup on the elliptical? She's only going to sweat it off. Silly woman.

"That boy is a monster...m-m-monster..."

Must remember to edit that Comic-Con footage tonight on iMovie.

Shit, I have to be in the office a few minutes early to catch that 9am conference call.

I should've shaved at home.

I could come up with a really kickass concept for this music video.

If I freelanced, would I come to the gym this early in the morning? I should keep the routine if I do.

I need another vacation.

I need to RSVP to that press screening. Gotta email that publicist.

Must put together a to-do list.

I should write down these thoughts I have.