Thursday, October 30, 2008

More about that entitlement thing

“The sooner we have these conversations in the family and as a society,” said Dr. Manning, the economist, “the sooner we can focus on core values, and have a more realistic dialogue about the meaning of happiness and money.” The New York Times discusses it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Business is a state of mind.

This article (10 silliest bits of advice to ignore when running a business) from a site targeting small business owners is just as relevant to people looking to work in Entertainment. The theory of success works in both worlds, after all, business is business.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Update on the post from a few days ago, Oregon Schools have begun requiring students to take personal finance classes in order to graduate High School.

Amazingly enough, such classes are not offered in College either. Who needs to learn practical stuff in college anyways? Pfft.

New York University was an amazing experience. Those four years informed me as a person and as an artist. I emerged tougher and more driven with a formidible portfolio, degree, and many classic memories, but the school is out of touch, often fueled by fantasy. For the most expensive private institution in the United States, it doesn't do anything to inform its students of the reality it is condemning them to.

I have way too much to say about Film School. So much so that I can't pack it all into an article right here right now. The worth of Film School is a double-edged sword, a love-hate relationship, a shifting tide, the wax-wane of the moon, insert other ambivalent metaphors here. I will leave the subject for now, but opinions will bubble up around here every once in a while, as they always do.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Austin Film Fest '08

So I kind of forgot to take pictures while in Austin. I apologize to my family and my friends for being selfish and keeping my memories to myself. Looking back I facepalm because it would have been cool to prove that I met Danny Boyle, David Wain, Greg DanielsTim Kring, Eric Red, the producers of Jericho, John AugustBryan Bertino, and talked with Shane Black and John Turman until 2AM. But the powerhouses were only part of the whole; I thank all the cool people I met and the people I re-met, the lovely programmers, and the city itself, which I was shocked to find out literally turns into New Orleans circa Mardi Gras on a weekend night (and game night!) My mad love of the Alamo Drafthouse has been confirmed, and now we're in a long distance relationship. Austin was like the Irish Car Bomb of Festivals: it's exciting, goes down easy and gets you wasted, but it's not your first nor your last for the night.

Stuff I did/watched/snorted/enjoyed:

Slumdog Millionaire
: Danny Boyle does Bollywood. It's classic Boyle, fast, colorful, octane energy, awesome sequences set to pumping music, but it's story is straightforward, cinematic, and hollywood-y. If ever I was going to watch a romance, it would be Boyle's way, with the politics and state corruption and the social message and the third in hindi. Brilliant.
Danny Boyle and moderator Jesse "Red-eye" Trussell.

Psycho Sleepover: Screened alongside "Zombie Gets A Date." This movie has a one-up on Troma because it's actually brilliantly written. Hysterical. There was never a slow moment and I pretty much couldn't breathe throughout the whole thing (from laughter, I know what you were thinking.) Props to the first five minutes for really hitting the movie off. Others could learn from you.
The Audience at the Zombie/Psycho Screening

Role Models: David Wain is the man. It's no "Wet Hot American Summer," but it's worth admission just for its proper comedic pacing. Thanks for making things funny David. Also, I'm proud to have been personally made fun of by David Wain during his Fireside Chat event.
David Wain, Sean William Scott, Jane Lynch

Too many panels, too many films, it was all impossible to keep straight. The gallons of sponsored Dos Equis did not help.

Until next year with "Soccer Mom" (if it ever gets finished!)

NOTE: "Zombie Gets A Date" will be RE-screening at the Alamo Drafthouse this weekend as a last minute addition to the Zombie celebration "Dismember the Alamo." Remember filmmakers, genre works.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Terrible Television

About a year ago in an AA-style environment, I finally admitted to myself and my friends and henceforth the world that, yes, I am addicted to terrible television. OK, it's kind of nuts for me to be so, what with all of my awareness/complaints about the state of movies today (but then again, who isn't complaining, even if they're not entitled to such opinions.)Reality TV has totally screwed up the system and it's made us dumb viewers focusing on even dumber subjects... and I'm a dumb viewer. I know. I know, I can't help myself. I come home after a long day of work and all I want to do is glaze over and watch dumb shit. My list of favorite shows is long and extensive and deploringly idiotic, mostly punctuated by competition shows: Project Runway, Tabatha's Salon Bitchslap, Shear Genius, Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, I Want to Work for Diddy, Charm School, and my favorite, Rock of Love.

I think the secret to my adoration of these shows is down to something innately simple: they're funny as hell. Put aside everything and ultimately you do see the people involved as characters and boy are they funny. How can you not split sides at that chick on the first season of Rock of Love that had melons so big she looked like she had no room to breathe, or the girl/chef/designer that cannot take criticism if it meant they'd keep from falling into a lava pit (I'm looking at you Kenley!) As an extension of my constant habit of observing human beings like an anthro-psychologist, watching these people on TV is another glorious chance to learn more characters, and of course, be entertained by them. I went to a screening of "Showgirls" at a revival theater once and Rena Riffel spoke; the girl's gorgeous but my god she was dumb as a post. And it was amazing. I could have listened to her talk for hours. If that's my reaction to her, then I shouldn't be surprised that I'm kept glued to a couch when a Rock of Love marathon is on TV. I also like to see insolent and ignorant people (and children) get a deserved smackdown (thanks The Nanny, thanks I Know My Kid's A Star.)

I bring this all up because this week marks the second I have actually sat down and flipped to Paris Hilton's new show "My New BFF" on VH1 yesterday. Oh god. It's so bad. I cringe. It hurts. I just know that I won't be able to stop watching.

It primarily fulfills that first requirement of how to get Leetal to love you. Be a visual, visible, shining example of the worst of the world, so that I may watch and comment and loathe and glee in your pain. Because this culture of the new millenium valley-girl is on TV and not in my real life, I am safe and therefore happy to ridicule how you (the contestant) elongate every vowel in the English language and are unable to see how everyone is using you and you have no friends, and still manage to vainly attempt to defend your honor at every turn when, sorry honey, it was never there to begin with. What's different is that, like everything Paris touches (there SERIOUSLY IS a Paris Hilton Midas Touch, I'm telling you) it is unabashedly unafraid to be vapid and flimsy. It likes that it's only concerned with partying and elitism. It's proud to wear pink. Freakily enough, with this attitude comes a slight tone change in the show and the results are rather creepy. What the hell? While Rock of Love indulged in underscored sexism by the view of an observer who let the girls prove themselves idiots, My New BFF is completely encouraging of everyone's actions, actively participating in the hazing, the camera is the Burn Book incarnate.

It IS creepy and you know why? Because of the role model strength that Paris Hilton unfortunately holds. In the second episode, every girl proposed a toast to Paris and called her an inspiration and a role model and beautiful and a goal to genuinely set your life to becoming. And these girls are in their early 20's. Not only has Paris done nothing in her life to actually deserve her wealth and fame, she got it from infamy, sex, and stupidity (her show really is an echo of her...) What about MTV's main audience, the teens and even pre-teens? My New BFF showcases Paris and all of her minions as these heroes, and anyone who doesn't play along is a bitch or a virgin. I'm sorry but this kind of pandering to teens is screwed up. They're already judgemental enough, Paris Hilton's show is not a reflection but an exaggeration of that horribly immature high-school caste system but with no consequences, absolutely no grounding in reality, and offers a reward in the end, Paris's affection, entry into the Popular Crowd. If only there was some inkling that it wasn't just about being popular, that it was about being a personality-filled, entertaining, political, and people-savvy person. The direction of this show scares me a lot, and is part of a bigger problem that scares me a lot more: The Privileged Teen as a role model.

Privileged Teen entertainment is this obnoxious trend I've been seeing where all the entertainment to teens is about characters that are richer, stronger, and have more stuff than them, and take all of it for granted. Gossip Girl, My Super Sweet 16, the OC, 90210, Privileged... it seems to the networks that the only thing kids want to watch are shows about what they don't have, and because the characters are born in money and throw it around so, it gives the impression not of the American Dream but of American Entitlement, that we are all entitled to be rich assholes. Invariably, kids may start to think they are rich assholes, even though they may be in the poorhouse (thanks credit cards!). If kids feel they deserve to be rich and famous, instead of believing in the work that is involved, instead of saving the money from their Starbucks job in a savings account, they go and spend it on $500 sneakers and a $200 Jesus chain because that's what culture told them is more important.

I just wish materialism wasn't so hot on the American agenda. There is nothing emptier than the eyes of a contestant on My New BFF when she accepts that Tiffany ring Paris bought her, overdoses on Paris's fake praise, and calls it love.