July 31, 2015

20 Life Lessons from R.L. Stine's 'Fear Street'

My first visit to Fear Street was 27 years ago.

In the fall of 1990, I picked up a copy of the eighth title in the series, Halloween Party, and throughout the following decade I was hooked on the sinister goings-on in the fictitious town of Shadyside. Since then, there hasn't been a book in R.L. Stine's seminal series I haven't read. (To see how fanatical I am, see: here.) And now, as a grown-ass thirtysomething, I'm proudly reading the new batch of hardcover novels the 72-year-old author is pumping out for the next two years - albeit with a much more critical eye.

That's why I like to think I'm an expert when it comes to all things Fear Street. Hence the many things I've learned from reading these YA thrillers for nearly a decade...


1. If you're new in town, believe every single story about the street where creepy and nasty stuff happens. And then move again.

2. Don't take any babysitting jobs in a house where someone was murdered. (It doesn't matter if it happened a year ago or 100 years ago. Just don't.)

3. Your friends want to have party in Fear Street Woods? Skip it. Come up with an excuse. Convince your parents to take you to see your grandmother in Florida or something.

4. If your boyfriend's ex mysteriously died a year ago, dump him. It's not like he's a killer. Most likely it's someone related to him or another girl who's obsessed with him. Again, leave town.

5. If your cheerleader BFF starts to randomly speak in a foreign tongue, she's probably possessed by an evil spirit that wants to crush your skull.

6. Avoid any parties where the host has a good reason to kill the guests one by one throughout the night.

7. Holidays usually turn bloody.

8. That strange noise? It is indeed the neighborhood cat...or your best friend approaching nearby. False alarm. (But back to that cat: You'll eventually find it later on your doorstep. With its guts ripped out.)

9. That strange dripping? Yep, it's the blood from the corpse that's been stuffed in the closet.

10. Ghosts exist.

11. Vampires exist.

12. Werewolves exist, particularly as members of rock bands.

13. If you and your friends are keeping a secret, it is guaranteed to come back and haunt you. And murder you.

14. Your nightmares are probably trying to tell you that you're in danger, girl.

15. The police are worthless. (They won't believe a word you say, even though this town's got a history loaded with some crazy-ass shit.)

16. So are your parents.

17. Speaking of parents, make sure your family lineage can't be traced back to the Fier dynasty. You do NOT want to be a descendant of those people.

18. Thunderstorms are never a good thing.

19. Kindly turn down any nomination to become Prom Queen. Or Homecoming Queen. Because you'd rather live to see your freshman year of college.

20. Do not live in the town of Shadyside.


July 30, 2015

#TBT: That Time I Thought Jesse Tyler Ferguson Hit On Me

I was horribly mistaken.

And it wasn't because we were dressed like twins during this Outfest event back in 2009 (two months before Modern Family premiered). A short film I had produced with Michael Medico (left) was making the rounds on the festival circuit that summer, and back then, I clearly lacked any skills in making proper eye contact.


July 22, 2015

Pop Culture Rant of the Week: My Adolescence Is Being Defiled by Lifetime

It all started with The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, Lifetime's shamelessly exploitative TV movie about the behind-the-scenes drama of everyone's favorite Saturday morning sitcom.

Then came news of The Unauthorized Full House Story and The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story. More blatant capitalization on 90s nostalgia. More reasons to stay in on the weekend with a bowl of popcorn, a large pizza, and a group of your friends who share the same love-hate relationship with these pathetically produced pieces of treacle.

And now, we have the inevitable Unauthorized Melrose Place Story, an attempt to showcase all of the real-life scandals behind the show about a scandalous apartment building.

I consider the original MP a sacred piece of television. It defined a part of my adolescence. It was one of the shows that inspired me to become a TV writer. (Before I wanted to be the next J.J. Abrams, I wanted to mirror the career of Aaron Spelling.) You can even read about my celebration of the primetime soap's 20th anniversary HERE -- that's how serious I take my Melrose fandom. I even went on a freakin' YouTube game show to show off my Melrose expertise!!!

If you ask me (and I know you didn't), this is just a scripted version of E!'s True Hollywood Story. In fact, I'm sure the writers of these disasterpieces used E!'s popular docuseries as a major resource, a blueprint full of headlines that could be turned into something resembling a script.

Of course you can expect me to hate-watch the crap out of this movie come October. I will mark the premiere on my calendar and live-tweet from a friend's couch while using a hashtag I hope will trend across the board.

#MelroseDisgrace has a nice ring to it, don't you think?


Being Basic in L.A.: 15 Things We Need To Stop Doing

I think I've lived in Los Angeles long enough to be familiar with all of the tropes and trappings this city is known for. I think 13 years is long enough to identify the cliches and typical characteristics with which its residents are associated. Granted, I've been guilty of some of the following, but let's face it: It's time to move on and be a little more unique in the way we present ourselves as Angelenos.

1. Using traffic as an excuse for being late - Sure, there may be some scenarios in which traffic is a legitimate bitch (see: my 10 Types of L.A. Traffic), but let's face it: you suck at time management and left your apartment late because you were too busy choosing which shirt to wear to brunch. Speaking of...

2. Waiting an hour to get a table for brunch - How about we switch it up and do a potluck at someone's house instead? If you choose a restaurant where waiting for a table lasts twice as long as enjoying a meal, go somewhere else.

3. Getting high at Cinespia in Hollywood Forever Cemetery - If your idea of a movie picnic includes a blunt as your contribution to the group, stay at home with your Netflix queue.

4. Taking shirtless selfies at the top of Runyon Canyon - We get it. You're a member of the #fitfam and love the outdoors. That's great. And besides, you don't need more "likes" and validation when you've already collected thousands of Instagram followers...and took the same exact photo last month. 

5. Getting all pissed because you can't bring wine bottles into the Hollywood Bowl - Y'all should know by now that sometimes, depending on a concert's sponsor, glass isn't welcome into the venue. So get over yourself and bring a small box instead...or better yet, they now make wine in pouches!

6. Complaining about "cold" weather - The next time you're shivering in your designer hoodie - in May - ask yourself this: Would you prefer spending your January in Chicago forming icicles on the tip of your nose while stocking up on Blistex?

7. Selling your shit to Amobea Records - Congrats. You earned two whole dollars for those DVDs of Swingers, The Wedding Singer, and Braveheart that have been sitting on your shelf since college. You can now put it towards the overpriced Criterion Collection Blu-ray you've been eyeing upstairs since last weekend.

8. Creating a personalized hashtag for your trip to Vegas - Stop trying to make #SinCitySluts happen! It'll never happen.

9. Ordering kale salads - Because they're killing us! See Exhibit A...here.

10. Bitching about the parking at Trader Joe's - This could very well apply to a number of stores here in L.A. It's as if the developers were thinking, "Hey, let's open up shop where there's only three parking spaces!"

11. Using the phrase "I'm so busy" - There's an unspoken competition that happens whenever people gather together to "catch up" and just end up comparing schedules. Between my improv class, SoulCycle, writing that spec script, and being a board member for Artists Without Savings Accounts, I am. So. Busy.

12. Declaring In-N-Out as the best burgers in the city - You're clearly not doing your research.

13. Sharing unsolicited advice on how to take a photo - Hand on hip. Tilt your head. Lean forward...shut the f**k up.

14. Hating on any given neighborhood - Silverlake tends to be on the receiving end of such vitriol, especially when it's coming from anyone living west of Doheny. But guess what? Every neighborhood has its reasons why it sucks.

15. Describing everything as "basic" - It's time for a new word to be introduced to our lexicon.

Any others I'm missing? Leave a comment.


July 21, 2015

PLEASURE: The 2015 Summer Playlist, Vol. 4

My final compilation for the Summer of 2015 is nothing short of a miracle.

Despite the absence of a clear frontrunner for the title "Song of the Summer," I like to think that there's so much great music to share this season, every song in these playlists deserves equal time in the spotlight. Giorgio Mordor certainly delivered (his name appears here twice), and Demi Lovato has thrown in a late-but-not-too-late contender with "Cool for the Summer," an out-of-nowhere track pulsating with enough energy to keep summer lasting a little bit longer. (Seriously, if you haven't listened to it, click play now.)


July 01, 2015

Songs of the Month: July 2015

I cannot get enough of "Body Talk," the new single from Foxes.

Besides posting about this breezy, synth-filled slice of pop perfection all over social media, I've been playing it on repeat for the past week - in the car, at home, at the office, at the gym (the few times I've gone in the past several weeks). Even the neon-tinged (and slightly bizarre) music video is a cool visual treatment of the track. That said, I can't wait to see what her new album will sound like later this year.

Get in on it. Now:

And then there's the latest from another Brit, Jess Glynne, who is delivering some uplifting 90s dancefloor realness on "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself." Her album doesn't hit the U.S. until September, so in the meantime, start brushing up on this fantastic female artist:


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 ...