Friday, August 30, 2013

Read This Before It Melts



I live in a building that's over a hundred years old, which is kinda awesome, because air conditioners didn't exist in 18-blah-dee-blah-blah, so the architecture is specifically designed to keep cool air moving through it. But the weather is giving my little ol' building NOTHING to work with. I stepped outside at 10 in the freaking morning and it felt like this:

Fortunately I was inside most of the day doing research at my internship, keeping cool. What kind of research? Oh, I don't know, just looking up straight-to-video family comedies about dogs. Which made my brain feel like this:

No but seriously. Do you have any idea how much they exploited the Air Bud franchise? Some horrible, horrible human being must have broken out of prison after hosting illegal dog fights and decided this was the second most efficient way to abuse animals. Nobody said anything so they just kept making these terrible movies. They didn't stop. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL THEM TO STOP?

So yes, today's illuminating film industry lesson was that people intentionally produce garbage. I just assumed people were delusional and legitimately thought that making Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 was a good idea because they were either too greedy or stupid to know any better. Nope. Turns out there is an actual market for the straight-to-video niche. What's more is it's MASSIVE. It's an entire side of the film industry that works by just dropping a giant turd on the sidewalk and hoping enough people step in it. Get a whiff of that.

In other news, I had my first Umami burger today.

Uuuuu mama
Umami Burger is a franchise I never really saw until I started coasting around LA, and then suddenly it was everywhere. Just like Yoshinoya. And hookers. I suppose I didn't have the full-on experience because I'm vegetarian, so I got a mushroom burger with some sort of weird tempura pancake in the middle, but it was... okay. The Umami establishments look real swanky from the outside so I guess I was expecting a little more "wow" between the buns.

Like I sucked it right out of this guy's mouth, am I right?
The bakery still has yet to call me back, so I'm persistently bugging them but returning to the Craigslist job boards. I applied for a Director's Assistant position today, but meh, I've done that at least 15 times by now... you think I exaggerate.

Yup yup, despair ain't just a fruit I'm holding in my hand right now.

Why am I able to find pictures like this?
But on a happier note, I arrived home still dreading the Padres-Dodger-Massacre only to find that not only was there parking-- there was AMPLE parking! I got home about an hour and a half before the game, so the madness hadn't kicked in yet. I parked on a side of the street that was virtually empty. I may have let slip a small maniacal laugh as I did so. It was just so good.

Unlike Umami Burger.

Oh, Balls

Hello, hello, hola. I haven't written in a couple days because I started my internship and it's taken up the 8 hours of my day I spend blogging and staring at my betta fish, Klaus.

Because he's the cwutest widdle fwishy in the whole wide wuwwwwwd
This internship is good so far. A little unusual, but let's be honest, when has any internship you've ever done fallen under the category of 'usual'?

Things I Have Had to do as an Intern

-Watch to make sure my boss's German Shepherd didn't pee on the floor... again
-Pretend to operate a radio station sound board so the guest speakers wouldn't be alarmed that the actual operator was gone
-Wander aimlessly through a giant compost facility capturing potential B-roll
-Edit together a segment about mentally disabled children around non-consensual footage of mentally disabled children
-Wrap the entire inside and outside of a cardboard box in wrapping paper
-Create an opening sequence for an online segment titled "Patty and the Penis"
-Pour and arrange large quantities of dirt into the inner rim of a tire

At this internship I primarily do script coverage, editing, and random basic online research for this woman who has recently added directing and producing to her repertoire. I show up at her swanksville house in Santa Monica where she has a whole home office situation going on, and chill out and read scripts or, like today, watch movies. She had me watch the most recent film she's done and wanted my honest, unapologetic opinion. Well, my honest, unapologetic opinion winded up filling about a page and a half of a word document that I don't think I'll show to her. It's like a huge block of extremely sharp Parmesan that I'll have to grate over some positive feedback linguini. It wasn't until after I told her that I didn't especially like the film that I realized the movie had already been made; nothing I said could be used for good and would not only make her feel like crap but-- more to the point-- make me look like an evil little know-it-all-intern.

So that was day 2.

It's actually fine though, it's very laid back internship and this woman is so busy that there's always something I can do that doesn't feel like a waste of time. UNLIKE YO MAMA

Now, as some of you may know, tomorrow is a big day. No, it's not Buttercream-Sculptures-of-Willem-Dafoe Day. Nope, it's not the Anniversary of the Slinky (except it actually is, but we all know Slinkys are pagan relics that should not be worshipped).

It is the Dodgers/Padres playoffs game.

I don't follow sports at all and they confuse and frighten me. I thought the Clippers were a breed of Aboriginal grasshoppers. But sports have recently become a huge source of anxiety in my life-- and  no, not because I'm following the games and sweating bullets hoping my team wins. I'm freaking out because the effing Dodgers make traffic an absolute shit show on my street whenever a game is going on. And tomorrow they're playing the mother-marrying Padres?!

This is going to be a complete nightmare. I need to establish a hideout for a couple days... I feel like drunk men in tight blue T-shirts are going to run me over on my way to get the mail. And then swoop in on the prime curb parking outside my building. And then they'll beat my bloody corpse with autographed bats.

Now let's get out there and play some basebawwwwwwwl. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hipster, She Wrote

Jesus X. Christ, exciting things are happening errywhere. Either I saved 15 babies from a burning house while sleepwalking or the universe is just front loading all the good stuff in the first quarter of my life (which I believe is called "Starbucks frappuccino-ing"), but I can't believe how well things are working out lately.

For starters, I landed the internship that I was warily crossing my fingers for. I'm going to be helping out an A-list acting coach out in Santa Monica who is transitioning to directing. The interview was about 5 minutes long and went more or less like this:

"What do you want to do in 10 years?"
"Write for movies and television."
"Writing is your passion?"
"Do you like to read scripts?"
"Watch movies?"
"Would you be interested in helping me by reading scripts and watching movies?"
<falls to floor unconscious, but twitching from ongoing involuntary neural transmissions to the brain: HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY>
"You must be a Pisces. Pisces like watching movies."

So yeah, I'm really hoping this works out. My one concern is the time commitment, which will likely be 15-20 hours a week. I do get compensated for gas and a very small monthly stipend, but I'm going to be interviewing with a bakery later this week, and after bragging about my astoundingly empty schedule on the phone I hope they don't immediately toss me out.

"I wonder why they gave me this free box of office supplies..."
It's very one-day-at-a-time as of now. But that's okay, because I've never even done two days at a time, and chronologically I don't know how that's possible.

Though I bet Rufus knows.
Money is definitely the key source of stress right now, but I'm privileged enough to have some fallback to work with until I can get on my own two feet. Sorry if that makes my story less exciting. These stakes are medium-rare.

It's an analogy AND a pun!

Speaking of money, I went to what was probably the best free concert of my whole life last night at The Satellite in Silverlake. This was my first "being a young trendy person in Silverlake" experience, and after last night I've determined that no amount of hipster-criticism-cynicism would make me avoid a great music scene purely on principle. Which leads me to today's segment...

An Unintentionally Long Aside on the Subject of Hipsters

Before I begin, let's all get it out of our systems:

Silverlake is just full of so many god damn hipsters oh my god can you believe how many hipsters there are in this one area with all their polka dots and their designer beanies and their black-frame glasses with no lenses and their obscure music and weird progressive art and all their pretentious craft-beer loving fake-poor dressing fashionable-hippie posing youth?! God it makes me want to vomit, I just want to scoop my eye-pulp out with a carving spoon whenever I see these god damn motherfucking hipsters walking down the street in Echo Park on their way to a sushi restaurant wearing overalls and cutesy little 1960s high-waist shorts talking about My Morning Jacket or Perks of Being a Wallflower or The Darjeeling Limited while drinking some kind of medium-roast blend coffee I've never tried made with organically-harvested beans and some unnecessarily uppity ingredient like mint-infused jojoba extract or basil leaves.

Yes, we all know. Hipsters are the death of humanity and no worse type of human being has yet to crawl across the face of this feeble earth. But somewhere between now and the initial explosion of hipsters and subsequent calling-out-of-hipsters a few years back, people got like... absurdly defensive and went on a crazy hipster witch hunt.

Drawing from my whole whopping semester of formal symbolic logic, I'm going to break it down. Bear with the intellectual jargon, I understand that it's annoying. But I don't care. Also, you're fat.

We've got the most basic building block of logical inference, which is called modus ponens and is structured as such:

Premise 1: If A, then B.
Premise 2: A.
Conclusion: B.

So for example:

Premise 1: If it's raining today, I am not bothering to brush my teeth.
Premise 2: It is raining today.
Conclusion: I am not bothering to brush my teeth.

Now, a common logical fallacy is to assume that the reverse is true:

Premise 1: If A, then B.
Premise 2: B.
Conclusion: A.

Does this work? Let's see.

Premise 1: If it's raining today, I am not bothering to brush my teeth.
Premise 2: I am not bothering to brush my teeth.
Conclusion: It's raining.

Unless you have a magic weather-controlling toothbrush-- and I know you don't, I read the International Toothbrush Development Association monthly newsletter-- this is silly. So. Now that I've exposed just how much a pretentious nerd I am when it comes to formal logic, what exactly am I getting at? Well, basically this: at some point people began flipping their As and Bs. For some reason everyone began following lines of logic like this:

Premise 1: If that person's a hipster, they enjoy The Postal Service.
Premise 2: They enjoy The Postal Service.
Conclusion: That person's a hipster. Let's complain to differentiate ourselves from them for the next 5 minutes!

Basically, it doesn't make any logical sense to call someone a hipster because they like good coffee, enjoyed Catcher in the Rye, or go to raves in the middle of the woods. Not to mention I don't get why those things would carry a negative connotation. I get the whole white-wash culture misappropriation thing, and the ignorant spoiled rich kids who rock the "poor-person look" because it's totes chic thing-- and that brand of hipster is definite hippo shit. I think we're all on the same page when it comes to hippo shit. But c'mon, if you're going to pay $4 more for a beer solely because you don't want to be seen in public drinking a PBR, then you're stupid, and your insecurity is going to leave you legit-poor AND less drunk. But at least you'll be seen holding that fancy IPA, and everyone will respect you. Because if there's one thing I don't associate with hipsters, it's IPAs...

-------------------------End diatribe, resume picking toes-------------------------

I more or less launched into that whole spiel to let you know that this show I went to was the 'nads. We saw four bands who were all legitimately face-meltingly awesome: The Infantree, The Diamond Light, The Janks, and P L a N E T S. I had favorites, but there wasn't a single band that I didn't completely rock out to. In spite of being the opening band, The Infantree was definitely up at the top for me. They had a cool sort of alt-folk-indie-rock vibe that wasn't completely diluted by pop, unlike the seven songs continually looped on 98.7 FM.

Favorite performance, however, was hands-down P L a N E T S. They brought black face paint,

Behold: my post-show melt mess and a little face action for all the cyber-pervs
distributed papier mache wolf-claws made out of old book pages, and geared everyone up for their set by having people dressed in eery wolf costumes roam around the venue and nuzzle people's legs. They wore crazy masks and paint, and every song had something crazy to add to the experience... like an acrobatically-choreographed modern dance duet in the middle of the pit, film projections on the walls, a giant dancing robot, and at some point the people in costumes went around giving out sections of weird books to everyone in the audience, so when they reached a certain point in the show everyone tore up their book-pieces and threw them into the air... the entire second half of the show was like Flashdance but with paper instead of water.

All right, boys, drop the stack of newspapers on three.
 Normally I feel really uncomfortable destroying books, but I put that feeling on the shelf (HA) for this performance.

Words to describe P L a N E T S: dark, weird, creative, alternative, narrative, good-humored, clever, prophetic. Check 'em out.

Okay, I'm spent. I have spent WAY too much time writing this blog instead of working on finishing my pilot. Ugh. It fucking HURTS to write. Am I doing something wrong? Should I not be holding the pencil with my eyelid?

"Calm down, she's lying. Nobody writes things with pencils. Those are just for hair decorations and dentist goodie bags."

"A temporary tattoo of a surfing tooth? What is this shit?"

Monday, August 26, 2013

Post No Bullets

Today's blog is brought to you by bullets:
  • Organize your thoughts
  • Be concise

  • Lee Daniels' The Butler: Begins terribly, gets a little better, ends on a sort of dumb note. Oprah and Forest were aight, and John Cusack (see: husband in alternate universe where he isn't a douche in real life) plays Richard Nixon, which was almost as entertaining as seeing Alan Rickman play Ronald Reagan.
  • Total amount of sleep accrued between yesterday and today: About 8, which is 8 less than I usually receive in that amount of time. That's what I get for not knowing how to understand L.A. public transportation on the weekends and scrambling to find some sort of ride from downtown to my apartment at 11pm last night. (My friends introduced me to Uber, which is a sort of taxi service that is uber delightful... when you have promo codes that get you rides fo' free.)
  • Today: Woke up, drove to Hacienda Heights for training at my "co-teacher" job (which was basically being paid to sit in a room with chipper people for 5 hours and think about teaching), tutored, bummed in Whittier for a minute, went home.
  • Upon arriving in Chinatown: I realized I'd made a terrible mistake. A Dodger's game AND FYF were both going on tonight... essentially sandwiching me between special event DOOM and leaving me pretty much no place to park. Fortunately, I eventually found a spot. Unfortunately, I was transporting a stack of slats for my bed and had to carry them a block to my apartment. *grumble grumble stomp stomp* But it's okay because I kind of felt like Mulan.
Mysterious as the dark side of Dodger Stadium.
  • But then: When I was almost home, a man in a Dodger's tee looking for parking saw me carrying the slats, got out of his car, and insisted upon carrying them the rest of the way. He was very friendly and outgoing, and said he graduated from the high school right by me. Faith in discovering a sense of community within a large, commercialized metropolitan area: boosted. I hope he found parking.
  • And then: As I was setting up my slatty-slats, I heard the music that was pouring in through my window from FYF. Hmm... this sounds f... oh my god it's MGMT. It was like some sort of cosmic apology for the parking stress from earlier. So as you can imagine I was smug as a slug listening to live concerts by [FYF line-up, I don't know, I didn't go, it came to ME] as I did my laundry and ate dinner.
  • Tomorrow: Gonna follow-up on the cake decorating positions I applied to, and go to the internship interview later on. I got my lil' blue dress picked out and everything... it's like 1920's secretary revisited, it's great.
Unlike the thoroughly awful musical it belongs in.
  •  Also, this happened: I sliced my thumb open while feeling around blindly under my car's seat for a missing shoe. I broke a glass vase in my car earlier this summer (don't ask) and apparently I still haven't gotten rid of all the heinously ginormous shards floating around. To add insult to injury, I didn't find the shoe.
  • And for anyone who cares: Third flattie might be moving in soon. I only know his name, that he's 26, and that he's a writer. Score. Unless he's a Tom Clancy ghost writer, in which case we are going to have serious issues.
I hope you enjoyed those bullets. If you didn't, then I hope you like these ones:


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Giddier in Whittier

At the risk of beginning this blog on a gushy note: I've noticed on mornings that begin with waking up next to someone you adore, it feels like the universe is gently nudging you awake at some generous hour-- let's say 11am-- and setting slippers and a stack of pancakes by your bedside. It's tops. Thank you, universe, for these metaphorical pancakes... mmm, are those strawberries? AND chocolate chips?! Oh, universe, you're bold.

But your artistic execution could use some work.
Anyway, back to pretending I'm some kind of asexual technological voice borne from the internet: today was pretty swell. I woke up early enough in the morning to have breakfast before noon, which meant I was actually wearing pants before sunset. What can I say, I get fancy sometimes.

I applied to an online internship posting or two and also made $42 writing practice test questions for the tutoring agency I work with. Best deal ever. "Hey Jessica, can you think of virtually any 12 words and think of 1 synonym for each, and then list a bunch of random words as other answer choices?" "I don't know... that's like 45 minutes out of my day..." "Oh, well here's some money for your trouble." "AW SHIT FO RULL?? *Ahem*... I mean... I suppose this will have to do."

Not one hour after I applied to an internship, I got a phone call from them asking if I would come in for an interview on Monday. Now, normally I would be wary of an internship that got on my va-jay so quickly, but this internship advertised gas compensation AND a stipend. Dude. Internships don't give out money anymore. That's rarer than a "buy one get one free" sale at Lacoste [or other store where you pay more for clothes uglier than you would get anywhere else]. Let's cross our gosh darn fingers, shall we? I'm doing it right now, and you have no IDEA how hard it is to type like this.

That phone call was the peak of the afternoon, as it was followed by me staring at a bleak Celtx document wondering what the hell I should be writing. My friend and I made a bar pact with each other a couple weeks ago, that we would each finish our respective writing projects in exactly 42 days. He's writing a feature-length screenplay, I'm writing a spec script and an original pilot script for television. Draft one of the spec is done (i.e. the final product is .003% done), and the original pilot is just a series of slow, directionless openers that I scrap two pages in because I have no idea what I'm doing. I have lots of ideas, but putting them into writing feels like that bit from Family Guy where Peter pulls a bunch of swallowed handkerchiefs out of his throat.

If only my ideas were as good as Peter Griffin's.
After dry-heaving dead-ended ideas onto my laptop for a couple hours, I departed from C-Town (can we make that a thing? Actually, let's not... but let's revisit the nickname idea sometime) to make my hour-long sojourn to Hacienda Heights. Ah, the highest of Haciendas... it wasn't until I arrived in da double-H that my client texted me and suggested meeting another day.

Okay, let's turn this neggie into a pozzy (did anyone else feel uncomfortable when I said 'neggie'?). For one thing, gas is at least 40 cents cheaper here than in LA, so that's something we can all enjoy. And then Hacienda Heights is close to Whittier, so I figured I'd at least make something of the trip and swing by the Dubs. At the very least, I could make my Big Lots return and buy $1 tofu blocks from Fresh n' Easy... because apparently the Fresh n' Easy phenomenon hasn't struck L.A. with the same fervor as the rest of SoCal just yet.

I made my runs successfully, except that I bought applesauce at Big Lots after immediately forgetting I had just bought applesauce at Fresh n' Easy, and later returned to my apartment to discover I already had applesauce. You know the saying "you are what you eat"? Pretty sure my brain is turning into applesauce.

As I was walking out of Fresh n' Easy, I happened to run into my friend playing his guitar outside the store. I know there's a name for that but I'm never sure precisely what it is so I always just mumble it... Buskinning? Buck-skinning? Butt-kissing? Something. We decided to meet up later, which meant I actually had some kind of reason to be hanging around Whittier.

From there, I went to my favorite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Whittier ("Silly Jessica, it's the ONLY Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Whittier") and ordered an iced-something to drink while I walked around Uptown in the warm afternoon. Uptown is a weird combination of cute, quirky and gangsta, and it's actually used in a lot of movies. I tried to find you screenshots, but the best I can do is reference you to Whittier's glamorous Wiki page. Not 2 minutes after I ordered my beverage, all the lights in the shop suddenly went out. According to two handy-dandy police officers "patrolling" the Coffee Bean, a transformer blew out and sent virtually the entire block into darkness. Sure enough, all throughout Uptown every place was pitch black inside, and people were wandering into the streets with dazed expressions on their faces like it was War of the Worlds.

Don't worry, Dakota, Tom Cruise will save us.
You see, it's things like this that I love about Whittier. Show up serendipitously and the power will cut out on you. Whittier is kind of like that awkward, well-meaning co-worker who can't help their disaster-prone nature (think Jerry from Parks and Recreation). You just shake your head knowingly and say to yourself, "Oh, Whittier..."

The shlemiel and the shlemazel.
But fortunately, the citizens of Whittier have grown accustomed to its clumsy charm, and they make it work. Everyone was abuzz in the streets talking about the outage. Bars lit candles and continued serving beer. The beauty salon hairdressers were standing on the curb dutifully towel-drying their clients' hair. The good folks at Coffee Bean made me a larger something-virtually-the-same order of my drink and gave me a $5 gift card, and I'm sure all throughout Uptown restaurant patrons were getting complimentary meals and booze.

Ah, Whittier, it's good to be back.

An hour or so later power was restored, so after milling about for a while I decided to stop by my favorite Uptown gem-- Mimo's Cafe-- for a dinnertime breakfast burrito (breakin' ALL da rulez!).

How I love thee, let me count the breakfast specials...
By chance, once there I ran into the same friend from earlier, along with a few other pleasant Whittier friends I hadn't seen since school let out. You starting to see why Whittier works? I know I talk some serious smack on the Dubs, but it's frequent happenstances like these that make you want to stick around. Which I did. We all got dinner and bummed around on the patio area and it was good times.

Sadly, I had to leave the promise of friends, booze, and some nifty concert at the tastefully-bizarre Fenix 5-4  (an organic/vegetarian cafe by day and cramped, artsy bar and show venue by night) because I have to be up at 6:30am tomorrow to proctor. Except that was sort of pointless, because it is currently 11:54pm and I've just been blogging this whole time anyway. Welp. Good thing proctoring requires little more than the ability to breathe while sitting in a chair.

Only true fans will know.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Today was a day of successes, failures and to-be-determineds. It began with the acceptance of failure: I am not currently being paid to do anything significantly writing- or film-related... in fact, I am not really being paid at all. Theoretically I have at least 4 jobs, but they're mostly for show. As far as I'm concerned, my resume is just a piece of paper with unicorns printed all over it.

"We're going on welfare, Charrrrrrlie!"
This led to a successful notion:

perhaps I ought to apply for jobs!

I recalled that Monday as I had been walking around Chinatown, I had seen a "Help Wanted" sign in a window for a bakery...

Yes, I realize I've never worked in a bakery before.
Yes, I realize I don't speak Chinese.
Yes, I realize that we are all inconsequential specks occupying little more than a temporal blip in the vast expanse of the universe.

But I figured, what the hey, might as well. So I went in there and left a name and phone number. The people who worked there spoke fluent English, which was promising. I told them I could do cashier work, be a baker's assistant, or work as a cake decorator. Cake Boss has taught me many things, but the most exciting discovery was learning that bakeries will actually hire artists to frill and deck out their pastries.

Or in this case DICK out their pastries... HEY-O
It's like being paid to be an artist, except you can eat the art. I think I had a dream about that once. It was a good dream, until I woke up and realized I had chewed up a bar of soap.

So we'll see what happens there... I also applied to a couple ambiguous Craigslist writing jobs, and tailored a cover letter and resume for a film CEO assistantship: "Oh yeah, I assist, like, ALL the time. Just yesterday, I was at the grocery store looking at grapes, and this lady asked me whether purple or green tasted better. I assisted her in her decision by saying that the purple kind are better, but the green ones are cheaper and they're almost as good so you might as well just get those instead. Yup, you could say assisting is just sort of built into who I am and what I do. I should also mention that I have more than 6 years' experiences both holding AND transporting hot beverages."

At this juncture, all of these job applications are to-be-determineds, but we'll find out whether any prove to be successes in the next week or so.

Aside from applying to these few "worth-a-shot" kinda deals, I also had a productive day picking out a piano book for a new student I'll be tutoring. She's like 6... I'ma be honest, I have no idea where to begin teaching a 6-year-old how to play piano, since I'm not even sure if she's got the alphabet down yet. But I found this beginner's book in the butt-fucking-nowhere district of K-Town and it's pretty step-by-step, so it should be useful in giving me a good starting point. And the book was surprisingly cheap, AND I got a store discount for being a teacher ("Tutor," she mumbled into her hand). I'm being reimbursed for the thing anyway, but I'm still counting that as a success. As a Jew, I'm biologically predisposed to get slightly aroused from bargain prices. TMI? NEI, if you ask me.

From the music store I tried to find a Big Lots because I had to return a prop I had purchased from there for the film shoot. The first one I went to was in downtown, which was my bad. Completing the simplest shopping errand in downtown is like trying to climb up a giant piece of barbed wire. You have to navigate through congested 5-lane streets while grappling with the overwhelming paranoia that you'll make the wrong turn down a one-way, and then once you get to the store there's no parking lot... there's a parking FORTRESS that involves counter-intuitive entrances, several stories of unavailable spaces (except on the Saharan rooftop), tickets that need to be validated or else you get charged like $45 for every 15 minutes you're there, and some kind of fuck-you-for-shopping-at-Walgreen's fee for being there ANYWAY.

I dealt with this for the first time at City Target, which is essentially a gargantuan Target in downtown that's surrounded by a giant wall I can only imagine was inspired by the PanOpticon. So the second I rolled up on 7th street and saw the big "PARKING -->" sign for Big Lots, I dipped the fuck out of there and went to the next closest one, which was about 20 minutes away in some unsavory neighborhood off of Slauson. Of course, it wasn't until I arrived at Big Lots numba 2 that I realized I had everything I needed, except for the receipt.

As you might guess, this was one tally for the "failure" column.

BUTITTURNEDINTOASUCCESS because wonderfully sketchy areas like that tend to have really cheap grocery stores sprinkled about. I hit up a "Superior Grocers" because they always leave promotional ads in my mailbox and I stare longingly at those 33 cent per lb. tomatoes.

Git in mah sandwich.
And 20 cent avocados? More holla for your dolla.

Will they be good, or are they just giant pits with peeling around them? To-be-determined.

Oh! Another success! I remembered to park on the right side of the street for street sweeping tomorrow. Who's getting fined $51? Not this chick.

Unless I forget to move my car to the other side of the street tomorrow... to-be-determined.

Final recountings of the day: I'm not sure how to evaluate it necessarily, but I'm tempted to put it in the "success" category because it was so enjoyable. My flatmate came home after being gone all day (he BIKED all the way from the NEPTUNE-LOVING BEACH), and he was all kinds of chatty. He's a really nice dude, but he's rarely talkative or... around..., so it was a pleasant surprise.

We talked for a while, but you know that moment where you're talking to someone and it's going really well, and you're positive you've just made a lifelong friend, and you think to yourself, "You know, gosh darn it, I really am a likable individual," and then you realize the person you're talking to is drunk?

Welp. Somewhere between the beach and Chinatown he had had a few drinks and somehow rode home on his bike. Is it bad that I respect and like him even more now? I'll take it, flatmate bonding is flatmate bonding. Dude is seven layers of awesome, and a total goofball. We hung out in the kitchen and talked for a while, I made tea, it was great. I found out that he's like a hardcore cross-country biker, and that he works at a certain extremely trendy/popular cafe that I won't reveal in order to give my flattie some semblance of online privacy. All I'll say is that it's an effing delicious 24-hour place on Spring Street that I stumbled to and from drunk as hell on New Year's. It was a falafel wrap unlike any other.

So... drunk roomie discount in the near future?
He even asked me if I would want to get a cat. O_O

Yes plz right meow?
He might have been drunk but I'm holding him to it.

So let's see, add up the 1's, carry the 7... overall, it looks like today was pretty successful! YEAH existence.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fear and Filming in Los Ghettos

About two nights ago I began typing a blog from my phone, but a couple paragraphs in my phone's word processor cut out and didn't save what I had written.

Currently: I am no longer typing on a phone, but on my laptop as I usually do. Now, if I was a good writer, I would accept that most writing should be scrapped, abandoned or changed if it is no longer relevant or useful, and I would move on since almost everything I had written touched on the fact that I was typing on a phone. But... I liked what I had written before. So instead of murdering my darlings, I'm just going to murder the joke by recreating what my blog post would have been if I had typed the whole thing out from my phone two days ago.

A-one and a-two and a-three:

Welcome to the future, where blogs may be typed on digital word processors installed on mobile telephonic devices. The guy who invented PayPal is also developing the technology that will allow people to travel at 700 mph via gigantic tubes. You all laughed, but Tenacious D called it... now you'll think twice about negating the possibility of cock push-ups.

Why am I typing paragraphs out on my phone?

Answer 1: Because it demonstrates proper mechanical structure.
Answer 2: Because, as a writer, I am overcome by the unshakeable necessity to produce into the world the literature that flows through my veins such as juvenile salmon swim through the rivers of nature's untamed, visceral beauty, and in doing so I may attempt to make knowable the chimerical sense and existential purpose of my being and potentially-- at least in some small way-- do the same for the other inhabitants of Earth so that we may discover the commonality of the human condition through our shared joys, hardships, and individual experiences.
Answer 3: Because I didn't bring my laptop.

I am currently in scenic Orange, CA at the luxurious Crazy 8 Motel, desirably located just minutes from Smart n' Final and a 24-hour Del Taco. I am here doing Production Design for my friend's graduate thesis film at Chapman University (though my feminist lobby group is attempting to have it changed to 'Chapperson University').

For those of you who don't know what the hell Production Design is, it deals with the artistic direction of a film. Depending on the size of the production itself, you can take on a variety of roles within PD... but since the entire department consisted primarily of me and one other girl, we took on virtually all of them. Our task is to acquire and manage all props that will be used in the movie, as well as "set dress" each scene, which means setting up the "look." This pertains to arranging props in a scene, making sure furniture and colors and pretty much everything you see in a shot goes where it should go and looks how it should look. Director needs a vase on the counter? Find a vase that will look good on the counter. Director needs the stuffed animal to look worn down? Yank the eye off that plushie unicorn and roll it in the dirt. Director needs the room to be messy? Steal garbage from the craft table and arrange it one piece at a time.

If this doesn't strike you as revolutionary genius then you obviously don't "get" art.
 Production Design generally requires you to be clever, resourceful, and shameless.

PD Moment Superlatives

Most Clever
Concocting fake whiskey out of eyeballed mixtures of sweet tea and cola.
Personally, I would have taken the Method Acting route.

Most Resourceful
Creating a peep hole on the fly with an artist's gum eraser, the ring from a Lord of the Rings trivial pursuit game set, and the ball from a Mouse Trap game (other set dressing props).
One peep hole to rule them all.

Most Shameless
  • Rinsing out and drying melted Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrappers for properly-colored prop garbage
  • Stealing my flatmate's smelly, old to-go container from the kitchen trash to imitate an old Chinese take-out meal
  • Fluffing legitimately-used (and legitimately NASTAY) towels and bedding that the Crazy 8 Motel was kind enough to provide as props
  • Duct taping a shelled-out "Exit" sign back together after it fell off the wall and broke
  • Rubbing the inside of a Frito's bag against the inside of a pizza box to make the box look used
  • And several other shameable mentions
We are also in charge of constructing sets on a soundstage for scenes that are not being shot on location... aka we build partial rooms and make them look legit.

Breaking the fourth wall? Why build one to begin with?
We also man painting everything and creating literal art for the movie. This particular film dealt a lot with "art" in the classic sense, so there were paintings and things everywhere to be made and/or recreated. There's a series of three nightmares in this film and each one called for a backdrop reminiscent of one artistic style: Van Gogh, Pollock, and German Expressionism. I wound up taking charge of the German Expressionism one, which turned out to be the largest with three massive panels that we had to transport to the Crazy 8 Motel. Here it be:

Däs nightmare, ya?
The other girl who was head honcho of PD (Tatiana Kuilanoff-- I'm dropping her name because I can't give you her business card) also made a fantastic mural needed in one of our soundstage sets. Honestly, everything this girl touches turns to art. It's ridiculous. Cheggitdout:

Everyone on set has been great to work with, and the experience has been fun so far. There's never a dull moment at the Crazy 8, where at least 3 shots have been interrupted by people getting arrested in the parking lot, at least 3 prostitutes have attempted to solicit crew members, and at least 3 angled mirrors have been mounted above and around the bed in the room we're using. The rooms even come with complimentary bed bugs!

(Fortunately they actually don't, but hotel management was sure to compensate us with free yellowish stains in all corners of the bathroom instead.)

*     *     *

So that's more or less what I would have been typing on my phone at 2:30am on Saturday evening (well, Sunday morning). Unfortunately, Answer 4 to why I was typing those paragraphs on my phone is that we had a scheduling hiccup that evening and wrapped 3 hours late... though when leaving set at 5:30am instead of 2:30am, it was less a hiccup so much as a bout of projectile diarrhea. It meant the next day's call time was bumped to 5:30pm instead of 2:30pm (film lawz: you have to allot a period of at least 12 hours between production days), which meant that day's shoot would go until 5:30am as well (moar film lawz: production days are not allowed to exceed 12 hours... except when they do). We ended at 5:30am the next day, but then had to spend a good 2.5 hours striking (film sin0nymz: dismantling) the soundstage set that had taken forever to build just a few days prior.

Between yesterday and this morning I went for about 21 hours straight without any sleep. I'ma tell it to you straight: I don't do all-nighters. I get 7-8 hours or else I roam around aimlessly like I woke up in the middle of a lobotomy. On set I tried to force my body awake with coffee and M&Ms, but after a certain point even caffeine and sugar stop working, so then you're just tired in addition to feeling fat and having to pee every 15 minutes. But hey, we made it through. Or, well, I did. I don't know whether I can say the same about the other crew members who are signed on for another two days of shooting that I am not involved with. They are shooting as we speak.

"We're not speaking..."

"Then why are there quotation marks around everything we're saying?"

"I don't know, are we 'saying' them at all if our words are merely being typed out?"

"Who are 'we', exactly?"

"We're Tigra and Bunny, don't you remember?"

"Oh yeah. But will anyone even know who we are?"

"Odds are they won't. Maybe we should give them a video so they get an idea of the reference."

"I say it might be a little too obscure for this generation of readers, but what the heck, Tigra, my therapist says I need to start trusting others more."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Teacher from the Wack Lagoon

So by now you've probably gotten at least a small sense of who I am, where I'm at, and what this blog is about: young-20's recent college graduate moves out to the big city to become a famous hotshot writer for the entertainment industry and encounters all sorts of joys and sorrows chasing her impossible dream. That about sums it up. In a very dry, pessimistic sense, that about sums it up.

And listen, hey, take a seat. Just sit on my knee here for a second. Son, not every blog post is going to be "OMG GAIZ CHECK OUT THEZE KOOL CHOPSTIXXX AI FOUND ISN'T LIFE GR8??" And I want you to know that this blog won't get boring, or at least I hope not, it's just that... there is more to life than gr8 chopsticks.

Contrary to everything this picture might suggest.
This is also about the muck and grime of really being shoved into the world for the first time and being expected to do something about it. That hole of despair known as being a "20-something." The financial struggles of mere existence. All that good stuff. And I'm not saying we're going to talk about that all the time, but, it will come up as I see fit. Just letting you know now.

Fortunately for you, I'm happy as a clam right now, so we aren't going to really talk about how sad real life is today. Return to the Pleasure Dome!

You grew up in the 90s if...
Yesterday was lovely. It began most excellently with waking up and going with my friend to Canter's! If you live in L.A. then you already know about this place-- just making statements of fact. Thanks to having [boy]friends in L.A., I was a major Canter's Deli fan even before I moved out here. I'm preaching to the choir if you're a local, but I'm sure at least one reader out there finds this place exotic and unfamiliar. So... let's talk about Canter's why Canter's is so awesome.

It is a gigantic Jewish deli restaurant located on Fairfax, not far from the Grove. You walk in to find yourself in some strange and wonderful world of pastries and challah.

I want to eat challah it.
Then your how-the-frock-are-you-so-friendly server seats you down in a booth and hands you a menu that looks something like this:

It was the best of delis, it was the worst of delis...
So many choices. There's definitely something for everyone, though this place might be a little less exciting for vegetarians. They actually have a really awesome veggie sandwich I've gotten there a couple times, but this time I went with 7-grain granola almond pancakes with bananas and whipped cream. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. I don't even LIKE pancakes that much, but gaw damn, did you read that combination of food-words?!

Canter's is pretty hip nowadays, so they've got a bit of a hype and are constantly busy. However, service has been great every time I've gone there. Also, it is open 24 hours which means you can have your chopped liverwurst roast beef hoagie at 5 in the bleeping morning, if you feel like it. And you know how them Jewish deli meat cravings get at 5am.

From Canter's, I went to work out in Bora Bora Walnut and did some tutoring. That's what I do right now. Tutor. Currently, virtually 0 hours a week, but schools are starting soon which means kids are going to be banging their heads against their notebooks soon enough. That's when I swoop down and drop bombs of one-on-one knowledge on those jive sucka K-8th graders.

I don't know why I say it like that, it's actually a very rewarding way to make a living and the kids are usually intelligent students who just need some extra help.

You grew up in the 90s if...
But yeah, I guess that's what I'm "doing" right now for money... I also work as a sort of teacher's aide at an after school writing program and that will be starting up again in September, so I'm hoping for a fair amount of hours with them. Otherwise it's back to the job boards, aka, Craigslist and desperate Facebook statuses.

It would be nice to have a job that involves writing, film and entertainment, or ideally both. But I have to feel out just how desperate I need to be before I can start being picky about which types of jobs I will and won't take up.

Ugh. This room receives far too little sunlight at 7:18pm for me to be talking about these things. Let's talk about the fact that I might be getting some dank Chinese food with a friend tonight, or that tomorrow I am driving down to Santa Ana to help paint sets for a dreamscape in a short film my friend is shooting. Should be exciting. I like painting. And I like that I can drive down to Santa Ana and paint giant dreamscapes because, hey, fuck you, I'm an adult. This, of course, is the same logic I use to justify eating cereal after 10pm and falling asleep in the same pair of jeans two nights in a row.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pretend I'm Carting You Around On A Rickshaw

My room... she is complete!

Yesterday I found a place for all my personal belongings in the new pad. You should be, like, so impressed. My old apartment was a two-story shit-hole apartment-mansion (hyphens-rule) and my flatmates and I had an entire year to accumulate enough crap to fill that giant, vacuous space. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to scale things back... as the popular saying goes, you can't re-condense the soup once you've added one can of water.

Soup has so much to teach us about ourselves and the world around us.
The concern was legitimate since I'm working with a lot less. For one thing, the kitchen, dining room and living room are all one entity... and it only counts as a living room because I had nowhere else to put my books and printer. It would be more fitting to call it a kitchen and dining room with books and a printer. Because while you're waiting for that spaghetti vermicelli bean thread from the Ai Hoa Market to boil, you might want to brush up on your Jorge Luis Borges, or else peruse the Final Cut Pro 7 guidebook for quick tips on how to create that gnarly skater video you and your friend with the dislocated shoulder and the Rock Star tattoo have been talking about. This could be his big break, man!

Other than the three fractures in his tibiaAMIRIGHTYOUGUYZ?
But, surprisingly, everything in the apartment has a proper place and it feels very comfortable without being cluttered. My room is like a jigsaw puzzle of shelves, decorative boxes and dual-purpose furniture. It took the place of the half-finished Sudoku puzzle I tore out of the Pennysaver, except it didn't end in frustration and the private shame that I was outwitted by a picture of a square.

I am quite happy here, in case that hasn't been made explicit. Especially now that the whole kit n' caboodle is put together and I'm not tripping over cardboard boxes filled with office supplies from the Dollar Tree, I feel very zen about this whole situation.

Hey, 'zen'. That's a Chinese word, and therefore the opportunity to flawlessly segue into my musings about Chinatown.

Here's the thing.


How can I put this. If the main street of Chinatown is a strand of DNA, it's built of endless combinations of the following nucleobases: curio shops, cheap Asian markets, Chinese/Pho restaurants, bakeries, boba shops, and places that sell mysterious medicinal herbs out of large wooden barrels. And then every now and then some sort of institutional building like a bank, temple or "brotherhood association" whose function I still probably wouldn't understand even if I could read Chinese characters.

The main strip-- that's Broadway-- is the hub designed for tourists, but the "authentic" aspect definitely seeps through as well. On the one hand, you've got the bedazzling central plaza which is decked out with really cool Chinese-architecture-looking buildings, hanging lanterns, and a sick wishing well that actually labels what you can wish for.

Toto, I don't think we're on Broadway anymore.
I'm not seeing the "self-automated laser fingernails" sign anywhere...
But then you walk past places like Superior Poultry, which has a heavily gated area beside it that I can only assume is full of live (but not for long) chickens.

Cock of the walk --> cock on the block.
The side streets are oodles more restaurants, markets and shops that are a little more low-key. Having been here less than a week I'm not going to pretend I fully understand what goes on in like half of these buildings-- especially once you get off the main strip the stores stop providing the convenience of English characters, or they will but they'll be selling a gold-foiled tin labeled "Pearl dragon powder" or something.

Chinatown is also awesome not only because of what it is but where it's located. My apartment is like a 15-20 minute walk from Olvera St., and you know what that means...

Also tacos.

I haven't hit up Little Tokyo since I've been here, but that's also extremely close, about a half hour walk I believe. I've been there a couple times with a friend and it's pretty great. Like Chinatown plopped inside of downtown LA with sushi instead of roasted duck corpses.

If I wasn't vegetarian I'd say these guys look DUCK-LICIOUS AHAHAHAHAHAQUACKQUACKQUACKQUACK
Downtown LA is also about a 10-minute bus ride away, for anyone looking to drink and possibly throw up on the amenities of the DTLA Public Parklets.

Exercise bikes installed on the sidewalk = fodder for SO many bad ideas after 3am.
Chinatown doesn't have very many bars, but I went with a friend to my first Chinatown bar the other night called the Melody Lounge. It was a delightful little dive bar with ambiance out the wazoo and around 30 beers on tap.

Caution: hanging lanterns are even MORE bad ass than they appear.
Apparently they do karaoke there, too, so... all I'm saying is, they'd better have "Angel is a Centerfold" or else I'm going to attempt rap songs drunk again.

Why did nobody tell me "Jump Around" by House of Pain was a poor back-up?!