Monday, March 25, 2013

RIP Enlightened

Enlightened got canceled.

And while Mike White quit Twitter and other wonderful people involved in the show mourned, raged...and promptly deleted those thoughts, I can't help but feel that viewers lost out the most.

The day Enlightened got canceled, I was already in a tail-spin. I couldn't refresh a window without RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE showing up everywhere. I wanted to believe that this was exclusive to American culture but again, headlines and common sense proved otherwise. In high school I was obsessed with Chris Cornell and I read some article about how he had a nervous breakdown about 'society' and he was scared of fatherhood and bringing another person into this cruel world. My thoughts were somewhere along the lines of "get over it, dumbass" and "BLAH I DON'T WANNA DO AP US HW!" Fast forward to 2013 and I'm the dumbass fearing for humanity and thought of birthing a daughter anytime in the near future.

And here was a TV show that was actually fucking doing something about this shit. Here was a show that didn't have gratuitous sex or violence or sexual violence, not because of censorship but because the work's creators were hell-bent on doing so. Here was a show that as one reviewer put it, MADE YOU FEEL ALL THE THINGS. It was pro-women and pro-underdog and pro-love and pro-hope and pro all of these things that have been presented to us in such predictable and boring ways by lesser artists. It took all that shit and made it funny and sad and unexpected. Blah. I am not articulating this in the way I wanted to. I'll make a list instead.

1.)  If you have ever loved an addict, or any person that just couldn't get their shit together in a very real way, find Levi's episode, "Higher Power." It will help you heal.

2.) I hope that this will light a fire under the asses of every creative young person that wants to provide an alternative voice to this generation. (As in, we want to tell stories that aren't ripped directly from our [live]journals.)

3.)  Fuck HBO. Okay, I know nothing. I am not an insider. Industry acronyms overwhelm me. I have no idea who is really to blame so I'm just going to say fuck HBO. You've lost the trust of so many people. Congratulations on alienating a whole slew of potential collaborators.

A final thought:
Lots of people are saying that the season finale did all it needed to do to wrap up the series and that this makes everything okay because the show can exist in this perfect however-many-episode vacuum. Hello. This was because Mike White saw the writing on the wall long before the cancellation was a trending topic. You don't think these folks could have come up with a Season 3? Really? I still feel like Dougie isn't okay and that I'm going to see him crying on a curb outside the Mayan Theater in downtown L.A.

STAY STRONG IMAGINED DOUGIE, YOU AND CONNIE FIND LOVE IN THE HOPELESS PLACE THAT IS MY ALTERNATE UNIVERSE LAND.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

This may be another form of avoidance.

In theory, I'm done reading bad writing.

I'm the biggest troll in the world. I sit at my computer, pant-less, chugging a Rockstar, stewing over blogs, interviews, and essays that I know are going to be awful. My blood runs hot with taurine and Schadenfreude as I revel in their self indulgence and pension for the phrase "caught in my throat." The only thing that should get caught in one's throat are fishbones and dog hair. Not Hope or Laughter or Other Capitalized Words.

I have a list of excuses to rationalize my behavior. Among them:

1.) It's better than watching Vanderpump Rules.

2.) Wise writer's have said that it's important not only to read the writing of the greats, but to read the writing of your peers. Because their mistakes will illuminate your own mistakes.

3.) I can't wait to read this out loud to so-and-so later. We'll laugh and rage and not think about the fact that we're not writing right now or that we've managed to monetize our procrastination.

And there's the catch. Reading shitty writing not only wastes time, but for me, it reinforces this horrifying archetypal WRITER. They've taken the time to change their Facebook cover photo to an image of script or text usually in sepia tone. They speak in perpetual industry acronyms, hell bent on communicating that you must be 'in the know' in order to decipher their work. They don't see a problem here. And I would much rather be a shithead full of wasted potential than an artist that needs to perpetually tweet about all the Metaphorical Shit stuck in her pharynx. Because it has to be either one or the other, right?

Anyway. Ima make a St. Paddy's resolution. For every hour I spend trolling, I have to spend two writing. Something tells me this blog post doesn't count.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Make ENLIGHTENED Your Valentine. (Right the fuck now.)

Happy Valentine's Day XOXO

In general, I don't give a shit about 'scripted' television. All I need are the Real Housewives and WWE and I'm a happy camper.

In general, I despise so-called writers writing about writing. It seems counter to the point. 

But I need to talk about HBO's ENLIGHTENED.

Because people aren't. Because despite all around praise from fans and critics and creators alike, this show may not get picked up for a third season. Because writers with holy-balls-clout-and-buzz mention it as a secondary point in their pieces. Because the show doesn't have controversy. Which means it doesn't have SEO juice. Which means online publications won't get UVs if they post about it.

It's bullshit.

It needs to stop.

WE need to stop it.

Stop trying to come up with the perfect anti-Valentine's Day status update right now. Stop hate-watching that show just so you can make post about it on Tumblr later. Stop feeding the snark machine with your trending hashtags.

There are people out there making broken, beautiful things that will make you feel so much less alone in the world.

But they are failing. Because of this crap. A UV is a UV. Ratings are ratings. There is no such thing as a spiteful click-through rate or an ironic 1.6 million viewers.

You want something to cry about this Valentine's Day? Watch fucking ENLIGHTENED. It will break your heart, gently. It may have been the 3 glasses of wine last Sunday, but I haven't sobbed that hard and unexpectedly since Gia Giudice looked to camera during the RHONJ "Field Day" episode. And if you know me, you know that says A LOT.

Go buy HBO. Or steal your mom's HBO Go password. I don't care.

Watch ENLIGHTENED.

Tweet about it.

Hashtag it.

Create a meme.

Make your number count.

JOIN THE REVOLUTION.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Year In Review

OR...
How to Throw a Dream Wedding when you're Too Young, Too Broke, and Too Damn Far Away.

"Get married" or "meet husband" was never on my New Year's Resolutions list. I never daydreamed about my wedding as a girl. Hell, I was happy when people could tell I was a girl. My childhood was a whole lot of L.A. Looks hair gel and listening to Sarah McLachlan's Angel on my Walkman, sobbing under the covers because an inevitably gay friend of mine didn't like me like that. Not a good look.

So New Year's Eve, December 31st 2009, came as quite a surprise. I was on the subway headed to Brooklyn. We thought we were running late for a warehouse party. And while yes, I am incredibly self conscious about every part of that sentence now, I didn't give a shit about anything that night on the train. Not my lack of eyeliner. Or impractical shoes. Or extreme sobriety. Because a few days ago I had a beer with a guy named Dave. And I sat there quietly, calmly realizing that I had just met my best friend for life.

A month later Dave would tell me he loved me. Two months after that he would agree to quitting his job, leaving his family, and moving thousands of miles away for me, a human he didn't know existed that Christmas.

We got engaged in May 2011.

Jumping off the love train for a second, allow a quick reality check. I'm 25 and Dave isn't much older. Our apartment is furnished with used Ikea stuff I found on Craigslist. I just graduated from a $100k+ plus masters program. I'm a broke-ass gal. Or a broke ass-gal. Either way, both are true. And after two years of writing, working, and freaking the fuck out about 'branding myself,' I remembered that oh yeah...I have a fucking wedding to plan?!

May to October. 5 months. $5,000. And the wedding is going to be on the opposite side of the country. That's what we were working with. If you're not familiar with the bridal industry, I suggest you Google "average cost of a wedding."

Or go to any number of wedding websites where you will find countless budget calculators and learn about your wedding 'must-haves.' Monogrammed pashminas for your guests should you choose a trendy rustic theme that may leave them out in the cold. Embossed invitations on the highest quality paper because unless a guest can hold something in their hand, feel the texture with their fingertips, the wedding won't feel 'real.' Quotes on standard, crowd-pleasing catering because lest you forget the golden rule, weddings are not about the couple. They are about the guests.

Or go watch Father of the Bride. There is a really great, touching scene right at the climax of the film when Steven Martin finds his young daughter, the bride-to-be, asleep on the couch. She's been looking at a magazine. An article about how to throw a wedding on a budget. His face crumbles. His heart breaks.

"Bake your own wedding cake."
"Find a good tailor and copy a designer dress."
Or worst of all...
"Have a friend take the pictures."

***


At Dave and I's wedding, our friends took these:

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com
Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotgraphy.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com
Basirah Photgraphy - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com
Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Basirah Photography - www.basirahphotography.com

Courtesy of Thomas Livingstone
Courtesy of Don Parkinson

Courtesy of Don Parkinson

Courtesy of Don Parkinson
No, we didn't find a tailor to make a knock-off dress. But I did scour the internet for short dresses by independent designers and lucked into discovering Ivy and Aster. Figuring out bridesmaids dresses wasn't nearly as simple but once again, the internet came through. Several PDFs, links, and obscenely long email threads later, everyone managed to find a dress that fit the warm/cool/jewel-tone/lace/not-lace theme. Because that shouldn't be too hard, right? I'm still in awe of how beautiful they all came together. 

And no, while we didn't bake our own cake, we did bake pies. They would double as dessert and a no-rules, down-and-dirty pie contest for the bakers involved. Temple of the Dog's Hunger Strike would mark the beginning of the Top Chef inspired competition as every guest voted for their favorite dessert with beads and hearts. 

Being broke, we couldn't afford to have a our wedding at one of those fancy Massachusetts barns that require you to buy into expensive catering packages. So we got married in an actual barn in the middle of the woods of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. It was a rainy weekend so fog hung over the mountains, the foliage, and the nearby lake. 

We rented an adorable house on site and transformed it into a cozy craft factory in preparation for the wedding day. Fueled by the daily Dunkin Donuts run, we painted jars, hung twinkle light canopies, and made arrangements out of Trader Joe's mums. We built playlists, a photo booth, and turned 1,500 squares of vintage paper into gorgeous chevron table runners. 

We made an ass-ton of jello shots and cooked dinner together like Sister Wives. We worked late into the night. Showered in shifts. And took breaks to look at the Milky Way because, my god, you could. We designed the ceremony. Passed around the glitter nail polish. Tested hairstyles. Before finally sleeping under floral quilts and vaulted, wood beam ceilings. 

Not even a wolf spider could stop our productivity. NOTE: Do not Google "wolf spider."

Again, since we working with a micro-budget, we had to cater the reception ourselves. But as luck would have it, Dave and I both have ridiculously skilled friends and family that work in the food service industry. So we 'settled' for a pancake bar brunch with fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, and that special cranberry-honey butter my mother had been talking about for months.

Because we were struggling to save money for said food, affording a wedding band was out of the question. But again, I was in luck as my mom offered her father's ring. A simple, etched gold band from the grandfather I never met but always wondered about. A tall, stern looking man who worked in some construction capacity at Wellesley College. A father who noticed that the school's library was giving away books and decided to take some home. Among them, an illustrated nature atlas so pretty that his daughter would save it. And her daughter would steal it. And years and years later it would be incorporated into the centerpieces at the wedding of the granddaughter he never met.

It got handed down. Love got handed down.

Not because it was planned. But because we needed it. If throwing our wedding has taught us anything, it's that beautiful things can rise out of necessity. A time to see our family's selfless love and support so literally. The opportunity to show the world just how god damn talented and beautiful our friends are. A chance to witness friendship in action. Love in action.

Call us cheap or tacky or, heaven forbid, gauche. But I wonder, would we have gotten the chance to see Grace so plainly if we had just waited? Until we were 'well off.' Or 'older.' Or could afford customized pashmina favors? Maybe not.

So, friends and family, you were the key to our dream wedding. You are the reason why 2012 may be the best year of our lives.

We owe you. Big time. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hate Bank

Everything that I loathe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Step 1.

On Saturday night I went to an Irish bar in downtown Los Angeles to watch Game 7. Heat vs. Celtics. But the place was packed on account of the Kings. I drank way too much. Heckled. Got pwned. Hugged it out with strangers at the end of the night. And even though my home team lost, they didn't go down without an entertaining fight.

A short walk to the Staples Center later, my fiance and I were sitting in the nosebleed section ready to enjoy another legendary group perform. Van Halen. With David Lee Roth back as frontman.

It was awful.

Seated where we were, I got a bird's eye view of a nearly sold out crowd. A few head nods here and there. A smile or two after the band finally played something recognizable. But for the most part, the audience sat there. Still.

Sports and entertainment. They're the business of moving people. And where the Celtics, Heat, and Kings succeeded in a rowdy sports bar, Van Halen crashed and burned in a sedate stadium. Because it's not enough to be talented or even legendary...you need to be a hard working professional. Even and especially in the feelings-industry. 

And with that thought in my head, I quit my job on Monday morning.

Yeah, I got a job. I didn't tell too many people about it. I was pulling one of those moves that all too many girlfriends play when they're dating a loser. Don't talk about him until you're about to breakup. Traumatized by my post-undergrad job-seeking experience, I was desperate to get anything. So I took the first thing that came. I'm being deliberately vague on the details for fear that said employer will somehow become internet-savvy, hunt down this post, and cite it as a violation of my confidentiality agreement and sic 'the lawyers' on me.

But despite all the red flags (a company walk-out, unaccounted moneys, a culture of not clocking overtime), I'd told myself that I couldn't quit. The job was too god damn 'interesting,' right? There was a bug-eyed doll hanging from a swing in the office bathroom for fuck's sake. You'd be changing a tampon and this creepy fucking thing would be sitting there, staring down at you. And if that wasn't enough there was a mysterious, tragic family narrative to the company's story that I was slowly uncovering. Isn't this exactly what indie filmmaker Jay Duplass told me to do when he spoke at USC? Get a job in the 'real world?' Collect those real stories?

When I found out that I got the job, my parents were thrilled. So thrilled that within 10 minutes of informing them of the news, I got several congratulatory voicemails and texts from my extended family on the opposite side of the country.

I was pissed. I'd held down a freelance reader job for half a year and that never got any fanfare from the family. I graduated with a thesis screenplay that was awarded Distinction by my professors. That didn't matter either. But getting a 9-5, paid hourly w/no healthcare job as an assistant bookkeeper in an office? That was something to write home about.

Some things don't change. And with that train of thought, chalk up 'me' to the list. Whining about my family's inability to understand my values or appreciate me in the way I want to be recognized. Like that makes me more interesting or deserving of something. Or that it's okay for me to rest on the defense of 'well, this is the way I was raised' when I choose to hustle my way into a sketchy office job rather than hustling my writing. That shit's getting old.

So sitting there, watching a slow motion, lackluster David Lee Roth kick play out on the big screen...I made a clear, drunken choice. I am supposed to be in this business. Entertainment. The business of putting people in seats. Making them laugh and cry and all that shit. I've paid too much damn money to the Trojan gods to be spending my days as an accounting troll. And there is no shame in saying that I am a writer. That is a completely valid job. So long as I'm actually doing it. Working on my craft. Like a professional.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012