The Art of Adulting in the 2010s: Or, Writer Posts Self-Indulgent Birthday Blog


It feels like yesterday when I was a 23-year-old production assistant, driving a Ford Focus through Laurel Canyon, nursing a hangover with a Red Bull, and pondering whether or not I should succumb to the trucker hat trend that was invading the city of Los Angeles.

But many years later paint a different picture. Today I stand on the precipice of those late 30s, driving a two-door coupe with a sunroof (because nothing says "single and childless" like a two-door coupe with a sunroof), drowning myself in caffeine to meet deadlines, and pondering whether or not I should seriously adopt a low-sugar diet because, y'know, health.

My friends and I are dealing with some scary stuff nowadays. Stuff in the form of IRAs, preschool applications, mortgages, the death of a parent, the end of a relationship, health scares, the reality of Buffy the Vampire Slayer being twenty years old, and an administration that doesn't seem to care about the well-being of any minority group whatsoever.

Pardon my Japanese, but this shit sucks.


However, most of my friends and I live in a place (the aforementioned L.A.) and work in an industry ("Hollywood," to put it simply) that sometimes allows us to act a decade younger than our actual ages. In other words, being in your late-30s in the 2010s is not at all the same as being in your late-30s...thirty years ago. Whether or not this applies to other places in America, I am not sure, but I welcome comments and personal insight from others.

TV host and recently married Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, at 44, has often talked on his podcast about the "extended adolescence" that many of us (GenXers, Millennials, and those in between) have been granted, and this a result of either our upbringing or (mostly) the culture our society has shaped over the past 30 years. The pop culture we enjoyed in our childhoods and adolescences is constantly being rebooted at an unprecedented rate in our adulthoods, forcing us to remember what it was like "back in the day," mentally and emotionally reverting us back to our younger selves.

In other words, there is always a reason to ride the wave of nostalgia nowadays. 2009's short-lived Melrose Place reboot on the CW sent me back to the eighth grade. Last year's stinker, Independence Day: Resurgence, made me look back fondly on the summer of 1996. And the current incarnation of Beauty and the Beast is prompting me to replay Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson's 1991 duet on my Spotify playlist and reminisce about life during a pre-Clinton White House.

There are other explanations for this "extended adolescence" as well, like higher life expectancies and the growing presence of child-free couples. (Look up the demographic that is "Dual Income No Kids," it's a thing.) As for any other explanations, I'll leave that up to the sociologists and behavioral experts. Because I am not one.

But back to reality:


Whoever coined the term "adulting," however long ago, was clearly in need of some validation. Because that's what it's mainly used for. "Here are the keys to my new condo! #homeowner #adulting." We thirtysomethings love to celebrate certain rites of passage with a hashtag that indicates we've arrived. Even more amusing is when it's used ironically: "Prominently displaying my old Power Rangers action figures at the office in honor of the new movie. #adulting." (No, that wasn't me.) But when "we've arrived," does that mean we've come to end of something? Have we stopped ourselves from going any further? Have we finally perfected the art of adulting?

In fact, the "art of adulting" is somewhat of a bullshit phrase. It isn't an art at all. Because to call it an art would imply there is a mastering of skills needed for maneuvering through all of the challenges that come with being a human over the age of 30. And really, has anyone mastered that? Not to be trite, but life is all about learning those proverbial lessons, big or small, that hit us in our everyday lives. It's a constant process, just like aging.

However, if you feel like you have mastered the art of adulting, I congratulate you. I also think you're deluding yourself, but good for you. Keep at it. I wish you the best.

As for me, I prefer to call my "extended adolescence" an "extension of my 20s." I don't feel like what a late-thirtysomething should be like because there is no standard now... and holy crap, I'm now realizing I'm older than the characters on thirtysomething.



Every now and then I might act a little reckless and not-my-age. I might wear a T-shirt with a visual pun or ironic phrase. I might have a third cocktail at the bar. I might shake my ass to that new David Guetta and Nicki Minaj single. Hell, I may even stay up until 3am on a Saturday night -- cleaning my bedroom closet. Does that count?

How about this: to indulge myself, I am going to celebrate my birthday this year in the Capital of Recklessness: Las Vegas. (I leave on a flight later tonight and expect to have a drink in my hand an hour after I arrive.)

Which reminds me: I better pack some antacids and aspirin (and those corn pads for my foot).

Just in case.

@TheFirstEcho

Obsession of the Week: MUNA's "I Know a Place"


This past weekend I discovered the cure to feeling sorry for myself. And it came at the perfect time (being stood up two nights in a row kind of leads to shitty feelings).

That cure is MUNA. Who the hell is MUNA? A trio of gal pal musicians who look like they frequent a few bars in Echo Park. Musically, think: HAIM-esque vocals with the sparkling, catchy production value of Betty Who.

The song that hooked me in? The below "I Know A Place," a gorgeous, soaring anthem that's also a response to last year's Orlando shootings. Get uplifted. I certainly did. (PS - We need more socially-conscious electro pop like this.)


And afterwards, I listened to their new album. Favorites include: "Loudspeaker" and "Crying on the Bathroom Floor."

@TheFirstEcho

Todrick Hall's 'Straight Outta Oz' Might Be This Year's 'Lemonade' (VIDEO)


Viral superstar-turned-Broadway performer-turned-R&B-pop dynamo Todrick Hall just released his full-length, debut album (and accompanying visual album, below), Straight Outta Oz...

...and it. Is. Magnificent.

The deluxe 22-track collection is an outstanding musical autobiography accentuated by a mesmerizing Wizard of Oz motif that works to resonating and gorgeous effect, chronicling his life from its oppressive beginnings, through his years of self-discovery, to his rise to fame as an undeniably gifted singer-songwriter-dancer.


From the gate-busting open that is "No Place Like Home" to the grandmotherly memories remembered in the choir-backed "Proud" and the daddy lessons learned in "Over the Rainbow," (check out Wayne Brady in a dramatic role) Todrick looks back on his childhood with both melancholy and reserve.

Then, it's on to the adolescent years: The uplifting "Black & White" takes us back to the 90s (with a little homage to Britney's "Baby One More Time" video). This is a time in our young hero's life when he is told to reel in his big dreams and limit his possibilities, but he ain't having it. "Color," with vocals from James Armstrong Johnson, reflects on his first relationship with a boy, an interracial romance that later leaves him heartbroken in the next act of this saga.


And as for that next act? It absolutely soars as Todrick breaks free from his roots and moves to Hollywood, where he tries to stay connected to his past ("Little People"), gets wooed by the flashiness of "Oz Angeles" ("Expensive"), and mends his broken heart ("If I Had a Heart"). Finally, we watch (and hear) our star explode onto the scene with a brand new attitude ("Lyin' to Myself"), navigate a gauntlet of manipulative characters ("Papi," "Green,"), and quickly learn how to grow a backbone, stay true to himself, and even demonstrate some social awareness ("Wrong Bitch," "Water Guns") while traveling down that "yellow brick boulevard." All of it culminates in the show-stopping finale, "Low," an anthem featuring RuPaul, who practically comes off as Todrick's fairy godmother/mentor, and a fierce army of reimagined characters from The Wizard of Oz.

And all throughout, the cameos are plentiful: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tracie Thoms, Raven-Symone, Tamar Braxton, Amber Riley, and a bevy of drag queens -- to name a few.

Straight Outta Oz is an astounding pop achievement, packed with a variety of visual stylings that brilliantly blend fantasy with coming-of-age poignancy, sex appeal, and social commentary. No doubt this ambitious production carries the influence of Beyonce's panache and penchant for bold theatrics. (We're all still recovering from last year's epic Lemonade.) However, what we're witnessing here aren't the musings of a diva scorned. It's the birth of a powerful artist who has long been gestating and planning to unleash his brilliance on the world.

Todrick Hall has finally arrived.

Watch this amazing 71-minute opus here:


@TheFirstEcho

REVIEW: 'The Belko Experiment'


The Belko Experiment, from director Greg McLean and writer-producer James Gunn, is a bloody-good exercise (emphasis on bloody) in human savagery. Yes, it’s an awesome Office Space-meets-Battle Royale mashup, as the posters would indicate, but it’s also somewhat of a disturbing revelation...

My latest review for ScreenPicks is now available over here.

In Honor of International Women's Day...


This summer, two sets of gal pals will be getting down and dirty. While one involves the untimely, coked-up death of a stripper, the other features a whole lotta urine raining down on New Orleans revelers.

First up: Rough Night, from the broads behind Broad City.


And then, there's Girls Trip:


I shall be buying tickets to both R-rated romps thankyouveddymuch.

@TheFirstEcho


Gerard Butler's 'Geostorm' is the Kind of Crappy Disaster Flick I Love (TRAILER)


Gerard Butler in a disaster flick? All I want to know is: how come did this didn't happen sooner? (And no, we're not counting Gods of Egypt.)

The trailer for Geostorm (all other hybrid titles were apparently taken by straight-to-DVD titles like Stonehenge Apocalypse and Icetastrophe) has everything I live for in a film about global catastrophe:

a. Overly CGI-ed mass destruction.
b. A cast of international folks looking up at the sky in fear.
c. Our hero (Butler) dramatically turning to look at a large monitor in a control room.
d. A chillingly ironic cover of a classic song. (Here, it's "What a Wonderful World.")
e. And this: "From the producer of Independence Day."

Grabbing my popcorn now...

Bounce: The 2017 Spring Playlist


The thaw begins.

Chase the winter doldrums away with this new, handpicked set of tunes, my soundtrack for the next three jam-packed months (birthday in Vegas, Easter in Florida, and May in South America).

@TheFirstEcho

Jeff Sessions & Donald Trump's Favorite Song


I can just imagine the current POTUS and that 70-year-old Southern weasel we now call the Attorney General getting down to this Robbie Williams jam during Oval Office afterhours.

The song, from the British singer's fantastic The Heavy Entertainment Show, was released as a single back in the fall, and it couldn't be any timelier.

@TheFirstEcho

Quintessential L.A.


This morning I was at the gym and drinking a protein shake while reading a script on my phone, spying on an Instagram model two machines over, and looking up to watch a live police chase on TV.

Los Angeles is like, "Dude, this is way too L.A., even for me."