April 30, 2012

20 MORE Things I've Learned About Living in L.A.

In honor of my upcoming 10-year anniversary of living in Los Angeles (June 27), I continue to reminsce and reflect on my time spent in this mind-boggling, maddening, yet marvelous town.

Therefore I've come up with another list of lessons the City of Angels has taught me throughout the past decade (you may remember my first list from last October). Some are obvious, some are surprising, and some I shall hold dear for the rest of my life...

1. Palm Springs is where older "confirmed bachelors" and married retirees go to die. But before that, they drink lots of Bloody Marys and enjoy an occasional round of antique window shopping.

2. The Hollywood Bowl is the place to be...spotted by a dozen people you haven't seen in months or acquaintances you've been meaning to unfriend on Facebook.

3. A girl who claims that she's "a gay man trapped in a woman's body" or "must have been a gay man in a past life" is just covering up the fact that she's a slut. A drunk slut (*I'm sure this applies to most cosmopolitan areas across the nation).

4. Once in a while you find yourself asking the inevitable question: What the hell goes on inside the behemoth that is the Pacific Design Center?

5. Flip-flops are forever.

6. If the boss is a hot-tempered douchebag of a prick, then most likely, so is his assistant (*similar to the old adage that says dog owners usually resemble their pets).

7. Befriend guild members, for they shall be your free ticket to movie screeners and other goodies.

8. While road trippin' it to Vegas, do not stop for gas in Primm, Nevada. Just...don't.

8a. Speaking of which, what really stays in Vegas is the $200 you had saved for the blackjack tables...and the beer and nachos you threw up outside that strip joint by the 7-Eleven.

9. Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry is really good at playing charades.

10. Amoeba Music will always smell like vinyl, unshampooed hair, and incense.

11. Whole Foods is a great place to compare piercings or tattoos with your friendly checkout cashier.

12. It's not who you know, it's who you blow it's who you can tolerate and click with during a 12-hour workday on set...and do it all over again the next day.

13. Anything below 70 degrees is indeed frigid.

14. Accept the inevitability that your inbox will be inundated with invitations to attend a friend's a) comedy show b) improv showcase c) gallery exhibit d) film screening e) birthday fundraiser f) cocktail mixer g) holiday toy drive h) piano recital or... i) poetry reading at that cafe you always thought was a homeless shelter.

15. One man's unopened bottle of wine is the another man's gift to receive at a housewarming party.

16. The retail space at the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica in West Hollywood is cursed. I'm convinced of it (R.I.P. Java Detour and the countless other businesses that existed before).

17. Red Bull and vodka is sooooo 2003.

18. Running low on shaving cream, pomade, or moisturizer? Forget Target. A gift bag from any movie premiere/fundraiser/magazine party will take care of that.

19. According to Facebook, I am now, thanks my network of L.A. "friends," one degree of separation from several child stars I grew up watching in the 80s and 90s.

And finally...

20. Jealousy and envy can be easily diguised with a simple smile, an overenthusiastic pat on the back, and the words, "Congrats on getting your script sold! So proud of you!"

Bonus lesson: Trying to date a publicist is its own mission impossible (Oh, and the weather here? Truly doesn't suck).

Any more I'm missing?


April 27, 2012

8 Signs of Facebook Fatigue

I consider some of my time spent on Facebook work-related. Research, if you will. It's become one of my main sources for news, particularly when it comes to pop cultural headlines. However, I'm getting the feeling that the Facebook phenomenon has hit a plateau. As much as I love posting new music videos I like, Tumblrs I'm addicted to, links to news articles I find fascinating, songs I'm obsessed with, memes I can't resist, and pictures I'd like to show off, I am starting to see why there may be an emerging cultural shift in attitude towards Mark Zuckerberg's game-changing creation.

At the risk of being called a hypocrite, I have to say that I'm starting to detect some symptoms of Facebook Fatigue. And by "fatigue" I don't necessarily mean I've grown tired of it. It's more of a realization of my love-hate relationship with the social network and all of its trappings. I don't like that it's the first site I visit every time I go online (shortly after Gmail). It's become a common practice, a standard, a reflex -- check email, check Facebook. It has undoubtedly become embedded in my (our) very existence. I average about two statuses, three shares, and one check-in each day. And yes, my social media constituents and I may bitch about the layout changes it undergoes every so often -- Zuckerberg & Co's gotta keep us on our toes -- and still we come back. It's taken over a good chunk of my daily life, and I want to feel horrible about it, but a large part of me continues to accept it, continues to use it, continues to embrace it for what it has done (positively) for the world.

The fact that I will be linking this very post to my Facebook timeline says enough.

It's hard to believe that only four years ago I was just starting to maneuver my way around what was being toted as "the new MySpace." Oh how quickly things have changed. After countless status updates, ignored Mafia War invites, unwanted photo tags, and meaningless pokes, I'm finding the psychological aspect of Facebook quite fascinating. I've started to see how it, like Twitter, feeds narcissistic tendencies, provides a false sense of entitlement, and adds a complicated dimension to relationships, romantic or otherwise. God, if I were back in my sociology class at BU, I'm sure I'd have a field day with a thesis paper.

I'm not saying I'm quitting social media altogether. For writers, it's become a channel for them to broaden their audience, and I, for one, plan to milk this machine for all it's worth. But there comes a time when I feel the need to disconnect from the Matrix. The brain needs to reset and become one with its natural environment, take a vacay in the Land of Analog. If this is an addiction, then the first step in treatment is to acknowledge the addiction, right?

Here are eight signs I've noticed that point to my current Facebook Fatigue:

8. Increased frustration (and bordeom) with people's lack of imagination in their status updates. Where's the creativity? Must you announce to the world that you're in line at Starbucks and that "it's a madhouse"? No, you don't. You're boring. Remind me why I'm "friends" with you again.

7. Becoming easily irritated with someone who has posted a link to the same parody video you just posted -- without giving you a proper shout-out (because you know they just copied it from your post).

6. The pressure to link your Twitter, Instagram, GetGlue, HuffPo, FourSquare, and Grindr accounts to your Facebook page can be stifling. You feel compelled to simultaneously let everyone know where you are, what you're doing, and how you're feeling (as if we all care).

5. You start thinking in status updates. Any random thought or daydream you have in the shower, in the car, or in the elevator at work automatically becomes a status update (Status updates = the new thought bubble).

4. Becoming instantly jealous of a friend after browsing through his/her gorgeous vacation photos from last week. This jealousy soon turns into self-hatred as you remember what you did last week...which was mindlessly browse through other people's albums. The same can be said about baby announcements, promotions, and other "big" achievements. If other people's news makes you feel shitty about your own life, then Facebook has done its job.

3. Ignoring 99% of the "event" invitations you receive. Party invites used to be exciting. Now, as a jaded social media whore, you feel fine disregarding an invitation to a mixer because it came from someone whom you haven't seen in three years. Plus, there's a good chance it's from some chick you met once through a friend you hardly see anymore, so the whole thing is moot.

2. The crushing disappointment from a lack of comments and "likes" on a status update you originally thought was brilliant. Therefore your ego and self-esteem get psychologically bruised. This leads to self-questioning: Does no one like me? Chill out, dude. You might want to make sure the filter settings on your statuses are set to "Friends" and not "Only Me" (a mistake I admittedly made last month).

1. The time suckage of it all. When scrolling down a timeline or two (or seven), minutes and hours cease to exist for you. Therefore you find yourself setting aside a block of time solely for Facebook. One second you're wishing someone a HBD (happy birthday), and the next you're checking out their attractive friends, reading their posts, getting caught up in an interesting news article, laughing at a meme, and watching a 5-minute video on a dog that farts on cue. Poof! Your Saturday afternoon is gone.

*If you or a loved one suffers from Facebook Fatigue, consult your doctor before taking the necessary steps to relieve these symptoms.


April 25, 2012

5 Reasons Why I Still Watch Glee

When it comes to TV shows, I consider myself a hardcore loyalist. I endured the subplots that spun out of control at the end of season 4 of Melrose Place (lobotomy anyone?). I stuck through the unnecessarily complicated third season of Lost. And I continue to give Once Upon a Time and Smash a chance despite their surprising...mediocrity.

So, now that Glee is nearing the end of its third season with the futures of many characters up in the air -- regardless of which contracts have been renewed or not -- I'm very curious to see what mastermind Ryan Murphy has up his sleeves regarding the future of the show. Why? Because, despite any backlash or diminished viewer interest the show has suffered from, I do plan to come back for a fourth round of show choir theatrics.

Murphy gave fans a glimmer of hope last summer with The Glee Project, wisely combining the drama of reality-competition with a preview of what's to come on the musical dramedy. And now that most of the original members of New Directions are about to graduate, the writers have come up with a way to make the magic last, to keep viewers tuned in (or, at least I pray they did). Such is the challenge whenever a successful TV show centers on a group of characters in high school. They get older, they move on, just like in real life. Except, this isn't real life. Hopefully we'll find out what kind of satisfying resolution they've come up with in time for next month's finale.

That all said, having stuck with Glee for the past three seasons, the formula of the show has made itself clear: Pick a theme or lesson to accentuate the Conflict of the Week, throw in some contemporary pop tunes to ensure healthy sales on the iTunes charts (actually, the more cross-generational, the better), sprinkle in some barbs for Jane Lynch to spit out (whenever her character can be squeezed in, which isn't weekly), and end with a memorable performance that'll make viewers smile and sit around for a preview of next week's musical shenanigans.

While some have been quick to criticize the show for losing some of its mojo amidst all of the spectacle and predictable developments -- I admit that the show has had its "off" moments, becoming a victim of its own formula and meteoric rise to fame -- I'd like to remain optimistic, hopeful that it can continue to deliver something truly unique and entertaining each week for seasons (I give it two or three more) to come.

And here's why:

5. The promise of new writers - For the first two seasons, Murphy and his two executive producers, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk were pretty much responsible for penning all 44 episodes. That's an awful lot a story and dialogue to conquer and distribute evenly among three MacBooks. And it showed: one could sense writers exhaustion halfway through season 2. The third season, however, saw the addition of five new creatives, including "staff writers" Matt Hodgson and Ross Maxwell and producer Marti Noxon (hooray for Buffy alumni!). That can only mean more fresh ideas, more room to grow, and more places (or issues) to explore. After all, this is one show that could've used a few more cooks in the kitchen to keep things going -- something I'm sure Murphy and Falchuk realized after FX locked them down and ran with their American Horror Story pilot last year.

4. Jane Lynch - As long as Sue Sylvester keeps terrorizing the halls of McKinley High in those signature track suits of hers, I'll be a happy camper. And as long as they continue to give her room to evolve with an organic character arc -- although this season's pregnancy storyline is a total head-scratcher -- I'll be even happier.

3. The inspired casting - We know the show, particularly Ryan Murphy, can't be trusted when it promises to ease up on the guest-star lineups and not rely on star wattage to distract viewers from what the show is really about, which is providing a platform for underdogs and the voiceless. However, broken promises aside, each famous face that has danced across that McKinley High stage has been a welcome cameo. Matt Bomer playng Blaine's older, hotshot brother? On the nose (However, I'm not sure I appreciated the result of Quinn's car accident being summed up in one line of dialogue to make room for the White Collar stud). 

2. The music - Say what you want about the show transforming into an overly glossed-up parade of pop that's giving American Idol a run for its money, but every episode this season thus far has featured at least one or two showstoppers that had me scrambling for the Buy button on my iTunes account. And from a production standpoint, one has to acknowledge the fact that not only are they assembling an episode of television each week, they're creating an album as well -- and that's one hell of a feat to accomplish.

Here's a taste of last night's tastefully done opening honoring the late and great Whitney Houston:

1. Its contribution to television diversity - Not only has this show been groundbreaking, it has kicked down doors regarding the inclusion of minorities -- and it continues to do so. Last week's disco-themed show introduced us to what may possibly be the first transgendered teen character on a major network television show. But what makes Glee stand out isn't just the mere presence of these colorful, three-dimensional characters (lesbian cheerleaders, an out gay teen couple who sing to each other in the hallways, an interracial romance, a handicapped nerd who nabs the school ditz, an assistant coach with Downs Syndrome), it's the way the show treats them -- equally -- like the human beings they are. The show manages to balance their issues through both rose-colored glasses (everyone comes together to sing "Love Shack" at Breadstix!) and a realistic lens (Karofsky's heartbreaking suicide attempt). *By the way, using Helen Mirren to narrate Becky's internal monologue was genius.

All in all, Glee has done for a generation what My So-Called Life attempted to do 18 years ago. And it's kind of shocking to see how long it took for someone to engagingly portray the increasingly diverse and segmented youth of America, ultimately showing them that they can be united in their differences...especially when there's a song and dance number involved.

And there you have it. Sure, I may be adopting the mentality of an abused wife who keeps coming back to her manipulative husband by remaining dedicated to this show, but that's how Hiko "C"'s it.  


April 24, 2012

ECHOES: The 2012 Spring Playlist, Vol. 4

Several rainstorms and three volumes later, here we have another compilation to add to the pile as you begrudgingly start that spring cleaning you've been putting off since St. Patrick's Day. This season has proven to be quite bountiful with tunage. My iTunes library has quickly blossomed into a full array of songs ranging from returning 90s alt-rockers (Hello, Garbage) to teenyboppers turned rappers (thank you Mr. Bieber).

Hurry up and get on the bandwagon before summer rears its sunburnt head...

1. "Warrior" by Mark Foster, Kimbra & A-Trak - This heavenly slice of electro-pop just might turn out to be one my favorite songs of the year. With a collaboration like this, who needs to ride on Gotye's shoulders? Kimbra is spreading her wings and ready to soar. Listen:

2. "Payphone" by Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa - Adam Levine & Co. are punching in their pop card, and although the addition of Wiz is utterly unnecessary, this should satiate those looking for a sequel to last year's megahit "Moves Like Jagger."

3. "Never Close Our Eyes" by Adam Lambert
4. "Burn It Down" by Linkin Park
5. "Waiting for the Feeling" by Bright Light Bright Light
6. "Touch Me" by Katharine McPhee
7. "Unexpected" by Negin
8. "Burnin' Up" by Ne-Yo

9. "Pound The Alarm" by Nicki Minaj - Less annoying than "Starships," this bonus track is the more club-worthy head pounder...or treadmill motivator.

10. "Turn Up The Radio" by Madonna - Finally, after the misfires that were "Give Me All Your Luvin'" and "Girl Gone Wild," Madge has selected a song off MDNA that's worthy of being an official single.

11. "Only The Horses" by Scissor Sisters - Calvin Harris steps in as producer on this interesting single that aims to catapult the Sisters into the mainstream:

12. "Let It Go" by Dragonette
13. "Heart Vacancy" by The Wanted

14. "Dance Again" by Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull - A sequel of sorts to last year's "On The Floor" that's as disposably fun as a can of silly string.

15. "Kiss Me Again" by We Are The in Crowd feat. Alex Gaskarth
16. "Cough Syrup" by Darren Criss
17. "Changes" by Dirty Vegas
18. "Earthquakey People" by Steve Aoki feat. Rivers Cuomo
19. "30 Days" by The Saturdays
20. "Ray Charles" by Chiddy Bang
21. "Boyfriend" by Justin Bieber
22. "Battle In Me" by Garbage
23. "Watching You Watch Him" by Eric Hutchinson
24. "Carry Me" by Morgan Page feat. Nadia Alo


April 18, 2012

Saturday Mornings With Dick Clark

I was only in kindergarten when an orange-haired girl named Cyndi Lauper made her debut on American Bandstand, or what my 5-year-old self knew as That Musical Show That Came On After My Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Back then, to me, Dick Clark was That Man With the Skinny Microphone Who Talked to Singers. Little did I know how much more than that he was. As I got older, I recognized him on New Year's Eve as That Guy From American Bandstand. He was this adult man who got to hang out with pop stars and talk with teenagers I envied (they got to sit in that cool-looking studio!). What made Mr. Clark so cool was his effortless ability to treat every single one of them -- teens, musicians, even the crazy ones -- equally and with respect (and this was waaay before the letters TRL meant anything to anyone and before America was obsessed with voting for an Idol).

Just watch:

Rest in peace, you "Oldest Living Teenager."


Great Songs, Wrong Music Videos: "Watching You Watch Him"

I've recently fallen in love with Eric Hutchinson's single "Watching You Watch Him." With its deceptively bouncy acoustics but melancholy lyrics, it works as a theme song for anyone who's ever had an unrequited love. Much like Robyn's "Dancing On My Own," it moves along, soaking in its sad, woe-is-me sensibility.

So, the music video for a song about a guy pining for (I presume) a girl who won't give him the time of day should reflect such heartachy sentiments, right? Wrong.

Mr. Hutchinson opens the song with, "I love you from the bottom of my heart. And that's not gonna change, but things look grim"...and from what we can see, the dude is smiling while he bops along on stage with his guitar -- in front of a group of cheery line dancers. WTF? Okay, maybe he's just happy to star in a major music video that'll garner enough attention and get him some extra fans. But where's the stark cinematography? Where's the raw emotion of a handheld, observational camera capturing this poor guy's desire to be with someone who has eyes for someone else?

Take a gander:

He tells the object of his affection that "he hates to see you cry" (1:23), but where is this teary-eyed crush? All I see is a trio of tramps practicing their stripper moves in a poorly lit bathroom in need of repair.

Finally, at the 2:48 mark, things settle down as we see our performer sing to the camera (are "we" the one he wants to be with?), and he does his best to play the sad puppy eyes, but something tells me he can't hide his excitement of sitting next to a hot, featured extra.

Cut to: more unnecessary choreography!

That all said, don't let this misguided attempt at a music video keep you from enjoying this relatively pleasant single. Press play on your iPod (it's the Free Single of the Week on iTunes!), close your eyes, and visualize your own personal narrative. That's what I'll be doing.


April 13, 2012

T.G.I.Friday the 13th: My Crystal Lake Chronicles

Since today's date is many a horror fan's favorite day of the year, I couldn't resist strolling down movie memory lane...

Arguably considered the Citizen Kane of slasher flicks, Friday the 13th boasts the simplest of plots: horny, young people go into the woods and fall prey to a maniac who butchers them one by one. The end. Roll out the body bags.

My introduction to the bloody saga unfolded in a way that would cause a horror fanatic to either scream or shame me. First of all, I watched most of the F13 films on broadcast television (translation: all of the nudity, profanity, and gore were edited out). Second of all, I watched them out of order. Blasphemous, right? How could someone go through the entire series in non-chronological order? Granted, this was no Harry Potter, and continuity wasn't an issue, even though there were a few recurring characters who overlapped in some stories. However, as an 8-year-old TV addict, it didn't matter. As long as there were stabbings, decapitations, and fun scares, I was, ahem, a happy camper...as long as my mother didn't catch me watching.

So, it would be fitting that, on this most glorious of days, I fondly look back on the films that starred everyone's favorite hockey-masked murderer and fueled my passion for the slasher genre...

Friday the 13th (1980) - The original pic, released in the summer when I was an infant, was an effective slice of suspense about the reopening of a summer camp years after the unfortunate drowning of a little boy named Jason Voorhees and the subsequent murders of the counselors who had neglected to save him. What made this thriller such a hit was its bare-bones storytelling and it-could-really-happen premise. There were no huge stars (yes, there's Kevin Bacon, but that was before he became Kevin Bacon). There was no pretense. Much like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, it snuck under the radar with a premise so terrifyingly simple, it resonated with audiences. And the surprising kicker? The killer's a middle-aged, cardigan-wearing white woman who really loves her son.

*By the way, someone may want to teach the marketer who wrote the poster's tagline ("A 24-hour nightmare of terror") the meaning of redundancy.

Friday the 13th, Part II (1981) - It's Jason's big screen debut! Picking up where the first film ended, we find survivor Alice living with a cat (watch out for that fake scare!) and receiving a fright in her fridge: the decapitated and decaying head of Mrs. Voorhees! Cue a hulking figure who grabs poor Alice from behind and shoves a screwdriver in her skull. From there, we're introduced to a fresh pack of meat victims residing in the woods not too far from Camp Crystal Lake. They tell stories around the campfire, they go skinnydipping, and they meet the pointy end of Jason's pitchfork. This maniacal mama's boy, who wears a pillowcase over his head, lives in a shack in the woods that makes the Unabomber's hovel look like a Holiday Inn. Revenge will be his. That is, until a plucky blonde (hello Amy Steel!) throws on his dead mom's sweater and turns the tables.

Part III (1982) is famously known for introducing the iconic mask -- Jason picks it up after he does away with prankster Shelly (above) -- and titillating viewers with the then-innovative filmmaking technique known as 3D (see a dude's eyeball pop off the screen!). Another group of luckless lads and ladies shack up at lakeside house where scary shit goes down.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - 80s Child Actor Alert! Corey Feldman pops up in this faux conclusion to the Voorhees saga. This time, a single mom and her two kids, requisite blond hottie Trish and her younger bro Tommy (Feldman), live in a cabin in the woods where the house next door is being rented out by - you guessed it - a group of college kids looking to get high and get laid. Notable death: Crispin Glover gets his hand stabbed with a corkscrew and a meat cleaver to the face.

In 1985 Part V promised A New Beginning, and here's where we see a grown-up Tommy (amazing how one year ages someone) moving into a hospice for troubled youth. Adult Tommy can't shake off his hallucinations of Jason, especially when he's running around shirtless and showing off his abs. The bodies soon pile up around him, our heroine Pam, and little Reggie (Arnold's BFF from Diff'rent Strokes!). Can it be that Jason's back from the grave? Nope. Turns out the killer is a vengeful paramedic who wanted to hurt the people who were responsible for the death his son, a former patient at the hospice. Best death scene: Reggie's older brother ("Ooh ooh, baby, ooh baby") gets a rod shoved through his chest while sitting on the crapper in an outhouse.

Getting back to basics, Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) resurrected the masked Mr. Voorhees and brought the story back to Camp Crystal Lake. This was also the first time the series took a stab (see what I did there?) at being postmodern. One character notes that she's "seen enough horror movies to know guys in masks aren’t a good sign." Well, bitch, you should've known well enough to get the hell out of Dodge and avoid getting skewered like a pig in a puddle of mud. The ironic humor is peppered throughout the film, which follows Tommy's attempts to warn everyone that the Crystal Lake crazy is back and on the loose. Crazy deaths: one chick gets her face smashed into the bathroom wall of an RV, and the local sheriff literally gets bent out of shape.

Sidenote: I remember moving into my family's new apartment at the time and laying down newspapers while painting our dining room. Large print ads for Jason Lives were plastered all over the floor, and I was fascinated by the foreboding artwork, knowing full well that it was a movie I'd never get to see (I was 6).

Part VII: The New Blood (1988) and Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), in hindsight, can be seen as a result of the excess that dominated much of the 80s. Not only did Jason terrorize a new bunch of hardbodies, he sliced and diced his way through them on a cruise ship...and went head-to-head with a girl with telekinetic powers! Talk about over the top.

While Blood kept the action deep in the woods and pitted Jason against a new breed of heroine (a pre-Knots Landing Lar Park Lincoln), Manhattan was largely picked apart by fans who complained that the film's subtitle was misleading. Many anticipated seeing Jason chop up subway riders and stalk hookers in Times Square, but the story didn't arrive at the titular location until the last act. I get it though; shooting in NYC is hella expensive, and the F13 franchise isn't known for its enormous budgets. Still, those images of Jason chasing our protagonists down 42nd Street is one hell of a sight to behold.

Then there was the infamous Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. This was the first film in the franchise that I got to see in an actual theater. One summer day in 1993, my dad picked me up from day camp at the Boys & Girls Club on Weyman Avenue in New Rochelle, and we took a short drive to the Bronx to catch a matinee at the multiplex in Bay Plaza. At the time I had developed a voracious appetite for horror novels, and every time I took a trip to the bookstore, I'd pick up a copy of Fangoria to catch up on what was in development (See kids? This is what we did before the Internet). I remember reading an in-depth piece on Final Friday and ogling the images from the film. One particular sequence of pictures that stood out for me revealed a topless female camper being impaled by a spike and then her torso being ripped in half. By the time that scene came up on the big screen, I looked away, knowing what was about to happen. It was embarrassing enough, having my dad sit next to me during the sex scene. Simply put, I chickened out.

It wasn't until I was a senior in college when the tenth entry in the franchise arrived - with little fanfare. Jason X (2001) brought the bloodshed to - yep - outer space. A cryogenically frozen Jason Voorhees gets thawed out in a lab on a spaceship in the year 2455 and proceeds to kill a bunch of archeology students on board. And guess what? Young people get horny in space too!

Bringing some sci-fi touches to the F13 legacy certainly allowed for some interesting situations. The best moment of the film - hands down - involves a hologram program that simulates Camp Crystal Lake. In an attempt to distract Jason, the students use the program to no avail; Jason ends up butchering a pair of simulated, topless camp counselors and short-circuiting the whole thing. Jason X clearly doesn't take itself seriously. From the outlandish deaths (one scientist gets her head dunked into a tank of liquid nitrogen and then smashed into crystalized pieces) to the tongue-in-cheek dialogue (see the trailer below), this thing could be mistaken for a direct-to-video trashterpiece or something you'd find on SyFy. That all said, this installment does hold some significance for me: it was the very first movie I illegally downloaded from the Internet. Ah, college.

By the time Freddy vs. Jason (2003) came out, I was already living in L.A. and anticipating this film like it was the greatest cinematic mash-up of all time. Directed by music video helmer Ronny Yu, it was shot very much like a video game, incorporating some nifty CGI and catering to a generation that grew up on the previous films while appealing to short-attention-spanned newbies. I loved all of the homages and had a great time in the theater, even though I had been on a first date I'd rather not remember (let's just say I regretted watching it with someone who had no previous Friday knowledge whatsoever).

Another F13 first: Jason shows up at a rave and kills mutiple teens at once, something we've never seen before (he's usually sneaky and does his slicing and dicing in private). Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child also appears, marking the first time a pop singer co-starred in a Friday flick, even though this could be considered a hybrid of sorts.

Last but not least, there was the inevitable remake/reboot. The Friday the 13th of 2009, brought to us by Michael Bay, did a respectable job combining elements from the first four films (not to mention delivering that killer 15-minute opening). Was it necessary? Probably not. Did it earn my $12 at the box office? It sure did.

...And that's all I'll say for now on this freakiest of Fridays. May you enjoy revisiting these flicks as much as I will later tonight.



April 10, 2012

Basking in Jessie J's "Laserlight"

Although it concerns me that one of my favorite pop divas from the UK has jumped on the Guetta bandwagon (like soooo many Top 40 acts nowadays) -- and that this new single features eerily similar strings found in the epic "Titanium" -- I shall enjoy Jessie J's efforts in trying to nab herself more American fans. After all, last year's "Domino" made a sizable impact and turned heads. So I guess it makes sense that she's trying her best to get more play on the dancefloors (and radios). I just hope she doesn't compromise her original image and vibe that made her stand out in the first place.

I wouldn't want her to fade away and get lost the noisy shuffle.

That said, enjoy:

My Meme Obsession Continues...

...with these ecards I created over at someecards.com.

*Bonus points to those who get the above reference.

This "drunk slut" meme has been called both true and misogynistic.

How could I NOT take advantage of this innocent image that takes me back to kindergarten? In some bizarre future world, I can imagine The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo making its way onto required summer reading lists across the country.


April 09, 2012

Movie Review Memes

I thought I'd try something new and different regarding my recent obsession with memes and writing movie reviews. How about combining the two? Especially with attention spans now dwindling by the day...

April 04, 2012

Theme Song of the Month: April 2012

The music video for Keane's new single, "Silenced by the Night," couldn't have debuted at a more perfect time. Seeing as I'm about to embark on my own little road trip with one of my besties (tomorrow), I look forward to blaring this soaring piece of piano pop, performed by one of my all-time favorite bands, while cruising up the California coast and enjoying the scenery. It shall be a relaxing and carefree (and long) weekend, just like in the video.

Minus the shitty Volvo and any romantic anguish, of course.


Happy Easter,

Something About Me

April 02, 2012

16+16 Candles

May I present just a few highlights from my birthday weekend...

Drinks at Ink on Melrose and the new Revolver in West Hollywood, followed by brunch at Kitchen 24, a matinee at the Arclight (saw Bully; not entirely what I expected), cake and board games at home, and then Legendary Bingo at Home Restaurant in Silverlake on Sunday night (my friends at Instinct Magazine were hosting a fundraiser for AIDS LifeCycle). Here it is: three days in two minutes.

Feeling loved,


April 01, 2012

April Fool's Day: An Underrated Slasher Flick

'Tis the first day of April, and you know what that means (besides nursing my birthday hangover)!

Time to pop in the DVD of a classic 80s slasher flick which, 26 years later, still holds up as a nifty, little thriller that stands above most of its holiday-horror brethren from the blood-soaked era (Silent Night Deadly Night, My Bloody Valentine, Graduation Day).

April Fools Day begins a la Ten Little Indians, Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery also known as And Then There Were None. Eight people (in this case, college students) gather together for a weekend at an old, isolated house on an island owned by heiress Muffy St. John (Valley Girl's Deborah Foreman), and soon enough each guest gets knocked off one by one by a mysterious killer.

The cast of AFD includes a number of young actors who were in their prime back in those Reagan years. Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future) plays skirt chaser Arch, who trips into a nasty booby trap in the woods. Deborah Goodrich (Just One Of The Guys) is Nikki, a blonde who fills the babe-in-a-swimsuit quota for the film (bring on those flat-chested jokes). And Friday the 13th, Part II's Amy Steel is front and center as Kit, a girl with an insecure boyfriend who puts together the pieces of the puzzle before more bodies are added to the pile. Other characters include Nan (Leah Pinset), the bookish loner with a secret who'd rather read Paradise Lost than chug beers, Rob (Ken Olandt) the resident hunk who can't get into med school, Harvey (Jay Baker) a yuppie wannabe with ulterior motives, Skip (Griffin O'Neal) the prankster whose jokes go too far, and Chaz (Clayton Rohner) Nikki's videocamera-toting boyfriend who stumbles upon some kinky toys in one of the guest rooms.

AFD isn't your average B-grade slasher flick from the 80s. First of all, it does reasonably well in the department of character development. Our group of youngsters aren't complete cardboard cutouts or easily disposable horror movie cliches. During the prank-filled dinner scene (and introductory prologue that's reminiscent of today's "found footage" trend) we actually get a peek at some nuanced performances. Second, the movie moves along at a swift pace, establishing a foreboding atmosphere and dropping little hints at what's to come (or not to come). And finally, there's that twist ending, a surprise denouement that sets the movie apart from its predecessors. When all is said and done, there isn't another movie in the genre that quite matches the entertaining resolution to this frightfest.

Happy April Fools,


Celebrating My 17th L.A.nniversary with a Bang

The impact, like many impacts, was sudden. I heard the crunch of metal, not as loud as those bang-ups you see in the  Fast and Furious ...