February 21, 2014

I've Been Listening to This Song Since 1996 and Never Saw The Music Video Until Now

Unimaginable but true.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah: Probably with my nose in a book waiting for the next episode of Melrose Place to air. I guess, back then, I didn't want my MTV...


February 17, 2014

Bill and Ted Went On An 'Excellent Adventure' 25 Years Ago This Week

On a chilly day in the late 80s I ventured out to Movieland on Central Park Avenue in Yonkers, New York with my father to witness two dim-witted high school seniors from Encino, California have a fateful encounter with George Carlin and his time-traveling phone booth in the parking lot of a Circle K.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was released on February 17, 1989 and became a surprise hit considering it was shot two years prior and went through some drama-filled distributor swapping. It was also one of the first films I ever owned on VHS cassette, a hand-me-down from an uncle who had gotten in way over his head with a Columbia House membership. And since I owned a copy of the movie, I watched it numerous times, learning how to say "shit" in French (thanks to Napoleon's bowling snafu) and appreciate a good Iron Maiden pun.

Fun fact: Joan of Arc was played by Jane Wiedlin, the same Jane Wiedlin who appeared as the Singing Telegram in Clue four years prior. It took me a few viewings to realize this as a 10-year-old.

And now that the script of a third film has been written, I can't figure out why a studio hasn't offered to back up this excellent slice of nostalgia. Sure, Keanu bombed with 47 Ronin, but he needs to bounce back at the box office, and this will surely reestablish his marquee status. And I'm sure Alex Winter, who's aged quite well, could use a trip down memory lane with his fellow Wyld Stallyn.

Hell, if Hollywood can pump out three Harold & Kumars, then it can certainly squeeze out a final Bill & Ted chapter.


February 14, 2014

The Vancouver Sessions: The 2014 Winter Playlist, Vol. 2

It's the second (and final) volume of my winter compilation. I know some of you out there (ahem, the East Coast) are still braving blizzards and wicked wind chills, and the current weather conditions across the country only make those who live in L.A. (like myself) feel more justified in their decision to move out west. For the record, it was 84 today.

But back to the music...While you binge on Valentine's Day candy, pressure your loved ones to do something special for you on this high-holy Hallmark holiday, and eventually kiss those Winter Olympics goodbye (so long, Sochi), enjoy these tunes from yours truly.

These are what kept me company during my travels in Canada last month, and I hope they do the same for you.

1. "You're In Love" by Betty Who:

2. "Holding Onto Heaven" by Foxes:

3. "Happy" by Pharrell Williams
4. "Holding On For Life" by Broken Bells
5. "Unbelievers" by Vampire Weekend
6. "I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo" by Capital Cities:

7. "Find You" by Zedd feat. Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant
8. "Wanna Get Down" by Grades vs. Brandy
9. "Black Belt" by John Grant
10. "Swine" by Lady Gaga
11. "Dare You" by Hardwell feat. Matthew Koma:

12. "Overtime" by Cash Cash
13. "Into The Blue" by Kylie Minogue
14. "Louder" by Lea Michele
15. "Roller Coaster" by Toni Braxton & Babyface
16. "Just Another Night" by Icona Pop
17. "Everything is AWESOME" by Tegan & Sara feat. The Lonely Island
18. "Every Time I Touch You" by Metro Station
19. "Infinite" by Sam Sparro
20. "Cold Piece" by Melanie Fiona


February 12, 2014

This Makes Me Happy: Veronica & Logan

I'm just 34 episodes away from finishing my binge re-watch of this glorious series. Can I finish in one month, in time for the movie's long-awaited theatrical premiere? I think so.

February 11, 2014

Neil Simon's 'Murder by Death' Defined Most of My Childhood

On a Thursday night in the early-to-mid 80s I became transfixed by a film that would leave a lasting impression on my young brain. I remember it was a Thursday because those were the nights my mother worked late, and my father pretty much let me watch whatever I wanted.

Murder by Death, the Neil Simon-penned farce that starred a dozen famous names (Maggie Smith, Peter Falk, Alec Guiness, Peter Sellers - to name a few), had a few runs on broadcast television, and since the age of 5, I had always made an appointment to watch it whenever a listing popped up in TV Guide -- that is, until my family finally learned how to properly use a VCR.

Murder is clearly a precursor of Clue, another murder-mystery spoof I proudly list on my Top 10 Favorite Films of All-Time. The zany plot points, the cheeky dialogue, the gothic settings -- all of it must have conspired to appeal to my then-burgeoning inner mystery buff.

The opening credits of this 1976 film is probably another element that drew me in. Designed by Charles Addams, the pop-up cutout features caricatures of each actor, some with eyes that creepily shift back and forth. It closely resembles the artwork featured in Masterpiece Mystery, which happens to be done by Edward Gorey, my favorite artist. Also, the film's signature score is a classy-yet-quirky orchestration of horns, strings, and flutes that perfectly captures the tone of the whole production.

But ultimately, what my obsession with this near-obscure piece of cinema proves -- a movie that came out four years before I was even born -- is that I am indeed my mother's son. In retrospect, my mother, a fan of all things Agatha Christie, clearly influenced my pop cultural tastes. I grew up in a household filled with paperback detective novels, Sherlock Holmes, and Murder She Wrote (and since I'm an only child, the influence was probably stronger).

Just another piece of insight on why I am who I am today.


February 05, 2014

The 10th Anniversary of "Totes"


It's not just a line of umbrellas, gloves, and slippers found at JCPenney.

The abbreviation of "totally" has permeated the lexicon, popping up in iChats, becoming a part of movie catchphrases (I Love You Man's "Totes magotes"), and peppering everyday conversations between rather intelligent individuals.

According to Urban Dictionary:

The most obvious advantage of using this word is the time saved. Data collected at a prestigious university found that every syllable spoken takes approximately 0.14 seconds. The same prestigious university also found that the average valley girl says the word totally around 190 times a day. If you do the math, the average time saved by using the word totes as opposed to totally would save 26.6 seconds a day! Over the course of a year that adds up to 2.7 hours!

It has been commonly assumed that the word originated from teenage girls, particularly those of the Valley kind, but I can proudly tell my grandchildren that I was there to witness the birth of "totes" in the early aughts (2004, to be exact). It didn't start with some bubble-headed 16-year-old cheerleader from Burbank; it began with -- who else -- the gays. Lest we forget the wise words of Sex and the City's Samantha Jones: "First come the gays, then the girls, then the industry."

My friend Doug once lived in quaint house off Crescent Heights Boulevard here in Los Angeles with three roommates. The 3-bedroom villa (and guesthouse out back) soon earned the nickname Maryland Manor, simply because it was located on Maryland Drive...and four self-proclaimed "Marys" happened to live there.

One of Doug's roommates, Jim, had abbreviations for nearly every polysyllabic word in the English language. His dialogue style rivaled that of the most quick-witted adolescent ever created by Ryan Murphy. Slightly bitchy with a dash of snobbery, but all in good fun.

Whenever I would drop by for a visit -- be it a barbecue, Halloween party, or a Desperate Housewives viewing party -- Jim would always manage to pepper his dialogue with "totes," usually in agreement with whatever petty subject that was being discussed around the island of their "totes gorge" (totally gorgeous) renovated kitchen.

Shall we make reservations at AOC tonight? Totes.
Isn't this shirt I got at Club Monaco so cute? Totes.
Would you like a glass of riesling out on the lanai? Totes.

An outsider probably would have shuddered at the pretension and vapidity of it all. But the fact of the matter is that "totes" leaked out into the world. I used it while visiting a friend in Boston during the following winter, and she loved it, making a mental note to include it in her own conversations (the East Coast would never be the same). Cut to nearly a decade later, and we're now seeing James Earl Jones uttering the word in national ad for Sprint.

"Totes" even registers in Google's dictionary (go ahead and type it in). It's all over. It has finally reached "household name" status, and I couldn't be prouder to have been present during its inception.

Sure, I should be prouder of other things in my life, and if that makes me sad, trivial and pathetic, then so be it.

Totes sad, trivial and pathetic.


February 04, 2014

More Shameless Plugging: Notable Features of the Month

It's been a while since I shamelessly plugged some writing of mine, so here it goes...

February is gearing up to be a splashy month for me. In the current Hollywood Issue of Bello (the one with Shawn Ashmore from The Following and X-Men: Days of Future Past on the cover) you can find my piece, "Revenge of the Hollywood Assistants," in which I offer my L.A. brethren a platform to vent out their feelings to their horrible bosses.

Then, currently on newsstands is the February-March issue of Instinct, in which you'll discover a travel feature of mine -- remember that trip to San Francisco last May? Read all about my jam-packed 4-day weekend and see why I consider SF "my mistress city."

Your readership is very much appreciated.


Catfights, Cleavage and Carrie-Anne Moss: 'Models Inc.' Turns 25

In the early 90s, as anyone familiar with the oeuvre of uber-producer Aaron Spelling knows, the successful  Beverly Hills, 90210 begat ...