June 22, 2014

12 Years an Angeleno: A Look Back at My Relationship with L.A.

Every year, at the end of June, I take a mental inventory of the lessons I've learned, the distance I've come, and the people who've entered my life -- because June 27 is my anniversary with the city of Los Angeles.

I'm nowhere near the person I was on June 27, 2002. Heck, my life at this point last year was nowhere near what it is today (I've updated my bio on the right to reflect some of the changes I've experienced).

Being the TV lover I've always been, I like to think of my life in Los Angeles as one, long-running primetime dramedy, featuring a large ensemble cast, occasional cliffhangers and plot twists, farewells to beloved characters, arrivals of new guest stars -- some of whom may turn into series regulars -- and those requisite, special two-hour episodes set in exotic locales.

Being the showrunner of my own series isn't always what it's cracked up to be. After all, overseeing the creative direction of my main character is a challenge. Unexpected developments pop up. Budgets get cut. Tough decisions need to be made. But at least he has a strong relationship with his supporting cast; the chemistry surpasses anything that's written in a script. (My main character, of course, is me -- in case this metaphor's getting a little out of hand for you.)

But there's one important relationship I've always had throughout these 12 years, and it's with the city of Los Angeles itself.

We've had our fights (rent hikes, parking tickets, street closures), our private alone time (hello, countless coffeeshops and hiking trails), and our moments of passion (ask anyone who's witnessed me consume an Umami Burger). Los Angeles and I have even worked together to bring change to the world (those two stints on jury duty, the NOH8 campaign, three Hot in Hollywood benefits). Our relationship has stood the test of time, and we're always finding ways to reinvent the dynamic between us. There are always new things to discover (restaurants, shortcuts to downtown). There are always reasons to celebrate each other. And I even know how to work the city to my advantage without ever having to compromise our love for each other (yellow curb parking, you're the best loophole ever).

I guess I was embarrassed to say it before, but I feel more confident than ever: I love you, L.A. I'm not afraid to love you. I love what you've given me thus far -- besides a mild case of road rage and an aversion to any climate below 60 degrees. I love that your pros have outweighed your cons. I love that you feel smaller and smaller the longer I live here.

I love that you get me.

Once again, thank you, Person Reading This Because I Probably Told You To. Thank you for tuning in and sticking with me throughout all of it. Here's to more trials and tribulations, more celebrations, more learning, more of...L.A.

Yours truly,

For a look back at my past 5 anniversaries:

A Perfect 10 (2012)

Nine (2011)

June 13, 2014

Self-Promotion Alert: Partying in Punta Cana

It's self-promote Friday!

Last fall I had the privilege of being flown down to the Dominican Republic and being put up at the Hard Rock Resort & Casino in Punta Cana with four other travel journalists.

We wined, we dined, we tanned...and we were also granted VIP access to a Snoop Dogg performance at Oro Nightclub and an outdoor Rihanna concert.

You can read about my experiences in the Lifestyle section of the current issue of Bello Mag (the one with True Blood's dashing Ryan Kwanten on the cover)...HERE.

Thank you.


Theme Song of the Month: June 2014

I've been listening to this song since the beginning of the year, but now that I've gotten my hands on Foxes's debut album, Glorious -- a title that perfectly describes the feeling I get while listening to it -- I am thinking that this may end up on my Top 10 of the year. The following track is just a sampling of the many wonders found on this alt-pop collection from the English singer-songwriter.

And it just makes you feel so damn good.

So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, "Let Go for Tonight."

June 10, 2014

5 Things About My Favorite Episode of 'The Facts of Life'

"Seven Little Indians" is the name of a Season 8 episode of The Facts of Life that first aired on January 3, 1987. Not only does the title refer to my favorite murder mystery of all-time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (also known as Ten Little Indians), it also describes the situation the gang finds themselves in after coming home from a late-night showing of a slasher movie called The Halloween Hacker 3: Part VI, A New Beginning, Dave Returns...Again.

Needless to say, as a child who was infatuated with horror films (still am), I was drawn to this particular episode like no other and fondly remember it for the following...

1. The Rod Serling impersonator who narrates the episode is played by Maurice LaMarche, a Canadian voice actor who was born the day before my birthday...and has worked on The Real Ghostbusters and Futurama.

2. SPOILER ALERT #1: The whole thing is a dream within a dream. Dare I say Christopher Nolan was inspired to write Inception after seeing this as a wee lad in his native London?

3. Natalie gets strangled by a pair of fuzzy dice. This became a running inside joke all throughout my elementary school years. All you have to say is "Natalie" and "fuzzy dice," and I guarantee some of my generation will reply with a resounding "Yaaaaaassss!" (as seen on a recent Facebook status update of mine)

4. Mackenzie Astin (who plays little Andy here) is a follower of mine on Twitter.

5. SPOILER ALERT #2: Blair is revealed to be the killer. And the amount the hair spray used in this episode is unfathomable.

That all said, enjoy...and one more thing: Tootie.

June 03, 2014

Since November 1996, I've Watched 1,000 Movies (in Theaters)

As some of you know, I've been collecting movie ticket stubs for nearly 18 years, but I've also kept track of the movies I've seen in theaters. Since November 3, 1996, I've kept a log book of what I've watched -- you can sample it here.

And as of May 2, 2014, I hit a milestone. The movie that holds the honor of being my 1000th movie is...

...drumroll please...

Cameron Diaz's The Other Woman. For what it's worth, it could've been worse, like the embarrassingly disappointing The Love Punch starring Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan.

As I write this, the current tally actually stands at 1,004.

Am I proud? Perhaps I am. Did I waste a crapload of money at the multiplex on some stinkers? I certainly have, but for the past several years, nearly half of the films I see each year are free (factoring in premieres, press screenings, and film festival binges). Not all is lost.

At this rate, I'll be hitting my next milestone (2,000!) sometime in the year 2029, by which I'm sure I'll be anticipating the umpteenth reboot of Godzilla or X-Men.

Hey, you never know.


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 ...