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Showing posts from October, 2012


Some Halloween Required Reading

For all you youngin's out there who have their noses stuck in the pages of any novel featuring characters named Katniss, Bella, or Dumbledore, I implore you to listen to your bookworm elders and focus your attention on the literary oeuvre of R.L. Stine.

The book to your right is the eighth in a series called Fear Street. Each installment focuses on the horrific goings-on in a stateless town called Shadyside. In the fall of 1992, I happened upon this book and was introduced to its murder mysteries and supernatural mayhem when I was 12. Since then, I couldn't get enough, and I stuck with the series up until its 10-part miniseries finale in 1999 (you should see my bookshelf). I wrote about my obsession four years ago here.

Anyway, Halloween Party is about a girl who invites a particular group of her classmates to her spooky house on the titular street for a party they'll never forget. There's a dead body or two (or three) and one hell of a plot twist by the end that'…


Why I'm Digging 'Cloud Atlas'

I knew it had the potential to be messy in some parts. I knew some of the makeup was going to be questionable. But after sitting through 3 hours of Cloud Atlas, a movie I had been anticipating ever since I laid my eyes on that oversized, M83-fueled trailer, I feel satisfied, appreciative, impressed, and grateful.

Grateful for Hollywood allowing this production to happen. Impressed that there are filmmakers who can lure big names to a risky, big-concept film. Appreciative of a movie that can speak to my emotions by daring to explore the very abstract concept of an afterlife, of human connectivity, of past lives, and of a journey one soul can take through time and space. Satisfied that a film has tapped into our collective subconscious in an attempt to explain the metaphysics of our world.

The multiple role-playing in Cloud Atlas, while a great and exciting challenge for all of the actors involved, isn't gimmicky at all. The pacing is sharp and crackling, weaving the six stories to…


Superstorm Sandy Bitchslaps Halloween

Thankfully I picked the right time to leave New York after last week's visit to see friends and family.

As I write this, my parents are without power (and water), a tree has fallen on my father's Nissan, and a rollercoaster I used to ride during summer vacations in Seaside Heights, New Jersey has been washed away by the Atlantic Ocean (below).

The incoming pictures are horrifying, and although a part of me wishes I could be there to rough it out with loved ones, I'm counting blessings (no one I know has been injured).


To my friends in Manhattan, stay safe, help each other out, and be patient. I know your city's been through the ringer, but a wise American Idol winner once sang, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
To the countless kids who were excited to go out trick-or-treating tomorrow, I'm afraid Halloween might be cancelled this year. Stay inside. You're better off watching watching horror movies (if you don't have power, work thos…


10 Hipster Halloween Costumes I'll Never Wear

Forget the sexification of ordinary Halloween costumes. Major cities like Los Angeles are starting to see a growing trend in costumes catering to those who love all things alternative. To those of you who wish to take a break from the flannel shirts and skinny jeans, I'm sure you'll come up with something that perfectly expresses your disinterest in the holiday. But in the meantime, here are a few outfits I won't be surprised to see should I find myself driving through Silverlake, Echo Park, or Los Feliz this year...

1. Intelligentsia Coffee Barista -- Comes with a shot of sarcasm and a dollop of biting rhetoric.

2. Any Character from a Wes Anderson Film -- Because hipsters like their heroes despondent and consider Anderson to be their Scorsese. And the slightly obscure reference will ironically make them popular with their own kind.

3. Pabst Blue Ribbon Truck Driver -- Even better if you make good on your disguise and deliver a few six-packs to that underground party in Wil…


I'm with the DJ

Last night was the annual Halloween Havoc bash, this time in Santa Monica, and yours truly provided some tunage for the costumed masses. As you can see, I decided to go for a Doctor Death kind of look. Or perhaps you could call me a spin doctor. Get it? Spinning records...even though I didn't touch single piece of vinyl.

It was another successful event. Once again, I got a kick out of standing behind my little station, grinding with the cardboard cutouts behind me, and watching friends and strangers throw their hands up in the air like they just don't care.



There's nothing quite like the experience of watching a crowd react when you start blaring the Crooklyn Clan remix of Faith Evans's "Love Like This" followed by some "How Many Licks" and "Dirrty."

Good times.

@TheFirstEcho


What I'm Reading: 'Red Rain'

A travel blogger survives a wicked hurricane off the coast of South Carolina and stumbles upon twin orphan boys in the wreckage. She adopts them, bringing them back to her home and family in Long Island, New York. Bad idea -- these innocent-looking, fair-haired kids got some evil tricks up their sleeve...

And so kicks off Part 1 of Red Rain, R.L. Stine's thrill-a-chapter novel. That's right -- R.L. Stine. The man known around the globe for terrorizing kids and teens with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series (I've read the first 16 of the former and own all 80-plus titles of the latter). This time he's clearly catering to all of his readers who came of age during the 1990s, his golden era, by penning a horror novel for them. Packed with adult themes, naughty words, and sexual overtones, this book is one that should be kept, as the cover states, "far, far away from your kids."

In all actuality, it's an easy-breezy read with just the right amount of gore, …


Autumn in New York


Party Politics: How the RSVP Became Irrelevant

It's one thing to turn down an Evite to a party, but it's another can of worms that's opened whenever "Maybe" is the response given.

To some party hosts, "Maybe" is that waiting room where responses dwell before eventually heading off to "No"-ville. To others, "Maybe" is a chicken-shit way of saying, "Thanks, but I'd rather stay home and pluck my nosehairs while reorganizing my spice rack...but count me in -- just in case!"

Personally, I'm all for doing away with the Maybe column on Evites. It creates confusion and unnecessary stress for the party host. Cups need to be counted. Beer bottles need to be rationed. The number of track marks need to be estimated on the freshly shampooed carpet.

And then there's Not Yet Responded, possibly the worst category to fall under. To some hosts, this means you really don't give a shit, especially when the host can see who has viewed the Evite, a feature probably unknown …


Today I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

By this afternoon I will be escaping the constant sunshine and 90-degree weather of Los Angeles and embracing the foliage and autumn chill of New York.

I anticipate quality time with family (without wanting to shoot myself), an occasional rainstorm, curling up with a pumpkin latte in a cafe, and waxing nostalgic on times long gone like I always do whenever I make a trip back home. One week should do the trick. Then, like any good Angeleno, I'll start pining for my flip-flops and my bed.

Naturally, I will be taking plenty of photos -- now that I'm practically a tourist after a decade of calling L.A. my home.

Instagram followers, beware (@thefirstecho).

Looking forward to reuniting my ass with one of Virgin America's lovely seats,

H.P.M.

@TheFirstEcho


Cornucopia II: The Bonus Tracks

Because one disc wasn't enough. And I'm a sucker for sequels. 1. "Troublemaker" by Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida -- The adorable Brit has enlisted the southern rapper in order to help him break out Stateside. Yes, it sounds like a Maroon 5 rip-off. Get over it: 2. "Catch My Breath" by Kelly Clarkson -- One of three new songs from her upcoming Greatest Hits collection. Yes, it's a decade worth of Kelly. Get over it. 3. "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)" by Ne-Yo

4. "Beauty and a Beat" by Justin Bieber feat. Nicki Minaj -- A collaboration that is neither another sign of the Apocalypse nor a cause for ears to bleed. It's actually a harmless and catchy romp.

5. "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift -- Otherwise known as The Song That Killed Dubstep. *To be played only for ironic purposes.

6. "What About Us (Buzz Junkies Radio Edit)" by The Saturdays 7. "Top of the World" by Owl City …


What I'm Reading: 'Maryann in Autumn'

I started reading the Tales of the City series while I was in college. The PBS miniseries that was based on these books had piqued my interest with its ensemble cast (Laura Linney, Billy Campbell, Olympia Dukakis) and alternative soap opera sensibilities (Quirky plot twists! LGBT love triangles!). Naturally, being the bookworm I am, I had to read them first.

Once I picked up Armistead Maupin's first installment, I couldn't  wait to move on to the next. His Dickensian approach to life in San Francisco was enchanting and introduced me to a world in which I would have loved to live.

And now, I'm finally getting around to reading the eighth book in the series, Maryann in Autumn, which chronicles a trio of characters from the original trilogy (Michael Tolliver, Anna Madrigal, and our titular heroine) as well as a handful of newbies.

Whereas the first six books celebrated the ups and downs of 70s and 80s lifestyles, subtly commenting on the societal issues at hand without being…


Guilty Pleasure of the Week: 'Girl vs. Monster'

Why am I suddenly (unabashedly) a 12-year-old girl? Because I'm actually looking forward to DVRing this tonight and enjoying some juvenile Halloween antics. There, I said it.



By the way, did anyone catch that awesome season finale of My Babysitter's a Vampire? Anyone?

@TheFirstEcho


My 500th Post: A Week in Pop Culture Consumption

In order to celebrate my 500th post on this site, I thought I'd keep an e-diary of my cultural consumption over a seven-day period. Inspired by John August's latest contribution to Vulture.com, I took to my laptop and recorded one week in the life of yours truly. This is what went down...

Day One

2:18pm - Burned a mix CD featuring the new James Bond theme song, "Skyfall," by the magnificent Adele (yes, I realize this is 2012, and yes, I still make mix CDs). I plan to blare it as I drive through Santa Monica and pick up a paycheck for a treatment writing job I completed a month ago.

8:48pm - Movie Night: Popped in a DVD of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer while dogsitting the adorable Jax at a friend's condo in Hollywood. I get a kick out of showing my friends the Ben Affleck and Ricki Lake cameos in Joss Whedon's 20-year-old horror comedy. I had brought several Blu-rays with me with the hope of pulling a marathon viewing on the couch this weekend.

Day Two

11…


Cute White Girl with Glasses Sells Sitcom to CBS

The news broke out on Wednesday morning here in L.A.: Lauren Bachelis, creator of the popular Tumblr, Hollywood Assistants, sold a TV comedy to CBS that's based on her blog. And Fred Savage is attached to direct and executive produce it! Fred. Freakin'. Savage.

It's the stuff Tinseltown dreams are made of: lowly assistant who strives to be a writer gets discovered, lands some hot representation, and is offered a sweet deal. It's also the stuff on which bitter jealousies thrive.
From Deadline: "Bachelis launched the Hollywood Assistants blog in May while working as an assistant at CAA, where she spent nearly a year before landing a job as assistant to New Girlcreator/executive producer Liz Meriweather. Bachelis worked on the show for a couple of months, leaving on Aug. 3. The following week, she landed a blind script deal at CBS Studios, which led to 20-Nothings. Bachelis, who is now repped by CAA and Mosaic, started off doing internships on NBC’s Heroes for NBC a…

9 Things About Press Junkets Hollywood Doesn't Want You To Know

The Press Junket is sometimes a surreal experience, mostly boring, but it is a necessary evil that keeps the ginormous bullet train that is Hollywood chugging along. Actors talk and bullshit, and journalists nod and report. You see, writers who are members of the press (online, print and TV) like to think they hold most of the power when it comes to determining the success of a movie or a television show. And for the most part, they're right. The written word is a weapon they use that either makes or breaks a project. especially those involved in it. These writers are an alert bunch; mention something in passing, and they will publish it for all to see and read -- usually in an entirely different context.

Over a year ago I wrote a blog about my first experiences at a press junket. Now, having made my rounds in the circuit for various websites and magazines throughout the past two years, I feel as if I've been exposed to a fair amount of the shenanigans and politics that exist…


Cornucopia: The 2012 Fall Playlist, Vol. 2

Autumn is in full swing, except here in L.A. where early October will get you 90 degrees worth of sweat, sunburn, and sticky leather seats in your Mini Cooper convertible. So before you overdose on candy corn and pumpkin scones this month, open your ears to these tracks I've hunted and gathered for your musical feast.

Don't worry, they're gluten-free.

1. "This Kiss" by Carly Rae Jepsen -- Because this Canadian tartlet has proven that she can keep up the infectiousness. It may not be as ubiquitous as "Call Me Maybe," but it's an admirable second effort nonetheless.

2. "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Capital Cities -- Sinead O'Connor's 1990 hit gets an electro-lounge makeover...and all is well with the world:


3. "Die Young" by Ke$ha -- Congrats to Miss Glitter Tramp for making it to this list. Finally, a single of hers that doesn't make me want to put a scalpel to my ears -- yet.

4. "Try" by Pink -- The second sin…


Jenna Dewan-Tatum Loves 'Downton Abbey'

The October issue of Bello is now available in the iTunes Newsstand, and featured on its cover is my interview with the gorgeous Jenna Dewan-Tatum from American Horror Story: Asylum (click on the above image for an excerpt). I spent some time with the actress-dancer on a hot Saturday morning inside a studio on Melrose, where I also provided some 90s jams for her photo shoot.

Naturally, I made a fool of myself while trying to match the choreography to Janet Jackson's "If" in front of her. What was I thinking?

@TheFirstEcho


The 2012 Fall TV Season Thus Far

Because the 2012-13 TV season is in full swing, my ass has gotten fully reacquainted with my couch and remote control. Therefore, I thought I'd offer my two cents on some of the newbies that are heating up my DVR and currently making me come back for more, which is subject to change of course...

1. 666 Park Avenue (ABC) - Beautiful rich people live in a ritzy New York City apartment building that may or may not be the gateway to Hell (insert housing market jokes here). The cute guy from Brothers and Sisters (Dave Annable) is the manager. The creepy bald dude from Lost (Terry O'Quinn) is the secretive landlord. And the MILF-y vixen from Desperate Housewives (Vanessa Williams) is his wife. Way to recycle your talent, ABC.

2. Nashville (ABC) - The network that brought us Dynasty and Desperate Housewives knows how to deliver a good primetime soap, and this time the suds are hitting the fan down south. Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere are rival country music divas...and that&#…


Christina Aguilera's 'Stripped' Turns 10

It was the highly anticipated album known for transforming a sugary-sweet pop princess into a feisty, cornrowed, assless chaps-wearing ho-bag who looked like she could've used a couple of STD shots.

Christina Aguilera's sophomoric follow-up to her self-titled debut, Stripped, was released this month back in 2002. From the lead single ("Dirrty") to the provocative black-and-white cover (right), it flaunted its ambition. It was the 21-year-old singer's attempt to break away from the teen pop mold that had its hold on her at the turn of the 21st century. The introductory track made the album's message abundantly clear: "Sorry you can't define me/ Sorry I break the mold/ Sorry that I speak my mind/ Sorry don't do what I'm told." Behold "Xtina" and her bold, new musical change.

Some cynics and critics were quick to dismiss the disc as a kind of schizophrenic mess, jumping from hip-hop-flavored dance anthems (the aforementioned sing…