Friday, November 30, 2007

things I would tell you if you were here now

I've been watching Once and Again on Youtube, and I gotta say, Julia Whelan's character is a more real teenager than Juno or any of the other characters you see on screen nowadays, and that includes the kids of Superbad (though I think that's close-ish) and FNL, which I love, but is still surreal. Grace Manning is just a fantastic character.

Had an OK day. Monday could be a great day, or it could be a sucky day. I'm going to go out on a limb and test the universe's love for me and say it's going to be an awesome day.

Rained alot. Fear it might be too muddy for hiking tomorrow. My shoes can't take any more mud.

I have all Johnny Lang's covers of Wilson Pickett's music because I'm young and stupid. Not that Lang isn't great. But I wish I had the Pickett first.

A friend of mine, Matthieu Cornillon was the bartender on the episode of 30 Rock last week and got to hand Alec Baldwin a "Nancy Drew." I'm so proud. Go Matthieu!

Oddly enough, two people I know, one, vaguely, from high school, and one from college are (or were) both up for roles in a major upcoming film. I'm pretty sure my high school acquaintance (I graduated the same year as his loser bro) didn't get it, but there's a shot the acquaintance from college did. On a basic animal level, I hate both of them. Why?

I had a great idea for a sculpture today. Too bad I can't sculpt. I wonder if that's what's going on with all those people who post to Craig's list claiming they have great ideas for stories, but can't write them. Argh. Maybe I'll just describe my sculpture in a story.

my mother is the awesomest

She sent me an advent calendar (I love advent calendars) that she made with little pictures of family on the day tags. How amazing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grace is Gone is Good (but not Great)

I saw it at the WGA Tuesday night, and it's a charming small film that rides along largely on the chops of the actors. Otherwise, it's fairly unremarkable in terms of originality. Maybe that's not a bad thing. And I didn't not like it. So... there's no problem with the movie. It's quite good... Maybe I'm just irritated that Strouse's way of breaking into the business was to marry a producer. How annoying is that?

Made crud pancakes last night. OK, not crud. But I usually get the healthy pancake mix, not the one I got at the grocery store the other day. So my pancakes taste saltier than I'm used to.

I think my Bank of America drama is being resolved finally. But yesterday I was a wreck.

Am reading The United States of Arugula.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

but this made me feel better

kati's really wretched day

horrid horrid day following dreams of being shot in the leg and exposed to plague while sans proper health insurance.

not that it would have been a good day had there been better dreams.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Leftovers and such

My friend from high school, E, is killer with the foodstuffs, particularly the pumpkin chocolate chip bread she sent me home with - and I've managed not to devour it! Really had a splendid Saturday Thanksgiving feast at her gorgeous San Jose apartment, but a six hour drive was not joy-inducing. If my sister hadn't come with me across the country, I doubt I would have made Ohio. It's friggin awful alone.
But of the little I saw of it, San Jose was pretty cool. It's a pretty low key place for a population of near a mil.
Bought some Xmas gifts on Santana Row, which I can ill afford, but whatev.
I wanted to go to the Winchester Mystery House, but I'd have to take out another loan to afford the ticket.
Was without laptop for three days. Painful. Especially since I just started watching Once and Again on Youtube. Soapiness, thy name is -- well, that show.

Let's compare Billy Campbell then to Billy Campbell now in The 4400.

Rick Sammler v. Jordan Collier. Discuss.
Have a free ticket to go see Grace is Gone at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills tomorrow night. Excitement!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksitting.

Hiked the whole Coldwater Canyon trail after spending the morning watching the parade. Boring, boring parade. Then came home, smelling like a healthy person (i.e., sweaty). Then watched Meet the Robinsons and ate like a fat person. Meet the Robinsons is pretty great considering how quickly it vanished from theaters.
Now I'm making biscuits for my weekend Thanksgiving in San Jose and watching The Princess Diaries for maybe the 40th time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

weird dream you won't care about

I had the weirdest dream in the last hour. First, I was at the grocery store and when I went back to my car, I had a parking ticket because apparently I had parked in a handicapped space in the dark and not noticed (this was after getting a red ticket as a receipt for my groceries) and so there was a note on the car that said to come into the store and check at the bar and maybe they'd do something to help - like it was okay to park in handicapped spaces between 11pm and 1am. So C and I were deciding whether I should pay the bill or not and I ended up pulling my car forward through another handicapped space and either parking it there or driving it to another spot of the lot, can't remember, but I went back inside and there was the weirdest bar in the store, and I didn't end up getting helped.

Then suddenly I was back at Yale trying to use my alumni ID to get a free lunch, and they let me into the dining hall, but I probably got billed. All the dishes were dirty, and there was a lot of gross-looking pizza. This guy from college who I didn't know in the dream and may have been a composite of several real people was there. He complimented me, then I criticized him, then he pointed out how rude that was, but in a nice way, and I considered facebook friending him.
Then we were outside, and it was Pittsburgh and a movie set all at once. We knew it was Pittsburgh because the rich family in town was playing with the giant pitbull balloons they had purchased and brought into town, and as we all know Pittsburgh's mascot IS the pitbull.
Anyhow, C and I still had the grocery cart from the store and we pushed it over to see the balloons and got caught in some weird updraft, which was exciting the first time, but the second time we realized we could get hurt if this kept up, so I said, we gotta let go of the cart when we hit the ground, so we did and we got blown back.
When I got up, I needed to go over to some benches and sit down next to Alan Rickman. Jason Bateman was wearing some strange but sexy red-and-yellow robe. I told him it looked hot, and then he went inside his house.

Some other stuff happened, but I can't remember.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

comedy, cookies, and books - don't know how to combine the three into one word

Been watching some old, old Jon Stewart clips on Youtube. I didn't know he had non-gray hair once. Once, he was in his 30s. Craaaa-zy.

Ate some chocolate-chip cookies. They taste a little anthraxy. Don't know what anthrax tastes like, but it's a weird taste, so you never know.

Finished I Am America (And So Can You!) and Half of a Yellow Sun. The latter is the best book I've read published since Vernon God Little. I Am America isn't as funny or as novel as America the Book and the voice is often problematic, particularly with the marginalia, which seems to sometimes be written by the character Colbert and sometimes by a guy making fun of Colbert. It's hard to keep straight who or what's being mocked, and I'm not always sure Colbert has it straight either. Still, glad I own the book.

Monday, November 19, 2007

American Gangster, decent sunglasses

People with aviator sunglasses: Jeff Goldblum was a hot "Fly," you're not. Unless you're Amelia Earhart or in a cockpit, stop pretending to be insects and wear normal people sunglasses.

After hitting up a cold and foggy Santa Monica yesterday and then dining at Miceli's on Cahuenga for dinner, C and I went to see American Gangster at the Mann Theatres on Hollywood (not inside the cool theatre - that one was playing Fred Claus).

American Gangster
is just superb. Kinda made me miss Harlem and Morningside Heights (it was shot in lower Harlem, east of Columbia, rather than up in the 130s where I once lived..., but close enough to my apartment at the 125th Street 1 train stop). Really enjoyed all 2 and a half hours of it. Seamless film-making, with the possible, but barely significant, problem of what happened to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s story line. Who cares? It's a deeply entertaining film and a helluva lot more nuanced and cool than The Departed, which I also loved but thought Leo overacted. Possibly the most together film of the year. Not as artsy and elegant as No Country, but definitely more accessible. Josh Brolin turns in a fine supporting performance, but he's not nearly as scary as he is in Planet Terror. And it's some really fine Oscar-level work from Denzel. Mmm. Denzel. Wear his kind of sunglasses. K?
I fear Ryan won't be nominated this year, what with Josh, Javier, Denzel, Russell (shrug), and George all doing such great work (and it's not even December yet) in far less controversial roles.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Yesterday, we were still exhausted, so we didn't do much. Had lunch at Pizzeria Mozza on Highland. Nothing to write home about, but good nonetheless.

Then to the Grove and the Farmer's Market.

Then we went to find the Ivy, all the way over on Robertson. Drove past. Hardly worthwhile...

Then we went back to Little Santa Monica because C was jonesing for some more Sprinkles cupcakes. I bought a pumpkin one this time and it was shockingly good. Ties with the grilled corn for most delicious food of the weekend.

Then home for dinner and after that, to the Sherman Oaks Galleria just-opening new Arclight Theater and an early showing of I'm Not There. Todd Haynes spoke about it afterwards, but here is why you shouldn't spend 12 bucks to go see it.

It's disjointed more than just "it's-disjointed-because-Bob Dylan's-persona-and-career-is," is TOO influenced by other films, and shows lack of focus. Also, the dialogue is painfully vague and general. It's long, it's emotionally unengaging, and Christian Bale, who I WORSHIP, has a creepy George W accent.

Good things do exist -- the music is obviously great, Marcus Carl Franklin has a good voice, and Cate Blanchett turns in a wicked performance. Charlotte Gainsbourg, who I don't particularly care for, saves the Heath Ledger section of the film. Bruce Greenwood is also good. Everything else is off or poorly executed.

If you love this film, please explain why. I get the premise and why Todd Haynes tried to do what he tried to do. I just think he failed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Touristy kind of day

Had an EXHAUSTING day yesterday. Got up and went to the picket line at NBC Burbank. C wanted to see celebs, and I figured it was the surest thing while still supporting my cause de l'annee. She saw Sarah Silverman, Andy Richter (out to save the universe, once again) and Ed Helms (who she loves more than I love anything). We struck with the guys on the Lot on California -- there were about five with a dog named Walker. I'm bad at schmoozing, but C's outgoing, loves dogs, and knows nothing about TV without having any desire to be in the industry. She was a hit, and I was accepted (sort of) by extension.

Then we headed off to Griffith Park. Which was ON FIRE. So they turned us back. Hope that's under control now. I really want to visit the Observatory.

So we cruised back down Vermont to visit Skylight Books, great bookshop, and I ate a mille feuille at the little French cafe nearby, while C had her second "thon" sandwich of the day. Went into this store called -- I think -- "Sqaures" or something and C helped Jennifer Coolidge pick out a coat. I kid you not. This is my friend, people.

And... then we realized we had SIX hours until our show at the UCB started and nothing planned.

So we drove down Sunset to Beverly Hills and walked around the tourist capital of the city, Rodeo Drive and its environs, for a few hours. Found a freakishly realistic Patrick Dempsey doll (for Enchanted, not McDreaminess) at Tom's Toys. Had dinner at The Farm of Beverly Hills. So delicious! The grilled corn was absolute joy.

Then went to Book Soup. Couldn't remember what road to turn onto get to Hollywood, so made the horrifying mistake of turning onto Kings Road, which has an incline of vertical. I nearly passed out going up the hill. Turned around, felt a little sick, and finally got to Hollywood Blvd, then Franklin and that great little theatre across from the Scientology Celeb mansion.

Still had an hour once we found parking. Waited in line for show. Saw Austin Nichol, Elisa Donovan, and Don McManus (yeah, Northern Exposure!) coming out of the "Billy the Mime" show beforehand. Went in to watch "Ronna and Beverly's All-Jew Revue" or something (C saw some guy Andre from "Season 2 of Project Runway" -- means nothing to me). Hilarious. So funny. Highly recommend. Two guests, one of whom was Justin Kirk, whose sexiness transcends time, space, and Judaism.

All in all a good day. WGA/AMPTP talks commence after-Thanksgiving. Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In which we point out, once again, that the AMPTP lies.


What's worse than being a klutz or a hypochondriac?
Oh, you're so smart. You anticipated the answer would change the "or" to an "and." And you assumed I'd end there.
Haha! (picture me jumping out from behind a door in a darkened room)
What's worse is being a hypochondriac AND a klutz AND having no health insurance!

See, there was a third thing, not provided in the premise.

Carly's coming to visit this weekend for more fun than I can shake a recently burned stick at. Hoorah! Finally, proof to my roommate that I have friends on this planet.

It's already Christmas (the decorations and merchandising blitz began Nov. 1). Which is weird, since it's usually in the 70s.

A bunch of the "the Third or somewhere further down the road" movies are coming out on DVD right about now. I only saw Pirates, Ocean's 13 and The Bourne Ultimatum. Will just wait to borrow Shrek and Live Free or Die Hard from the library.

I picked up my novel manuscript recently and was frightened by its weight. Thomas Pynchon, I will never understand how you can relate to your own behemoths. I read a few things (in terms of wisdom, not other books to plagiarize) that may help me finish the damn thing. But I'm not too concerned. Working on a novel for a long time just shows that I'm a perfectionist and that I take my work seriously. And that writing is not my day job. That, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

there was something I wanted to tell you before I leave

I'm super-injured.

OK, for a writer anyhow. My left middle fingernail is blue from being slammed in the door on Saturday.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Two major spills in the last 72 hours, one in San Francisco, the other in the North Sea.

More than bullets or bombs, oil has been nothing but the handmaiden of death for the world since the creation of the combustible engine. Oil spills, fuel emissions, the rape of Alaska, the conflicts between the West and the Middle East, so many problems have their origins in this black horror.

We should already have vehicles that run on an alternate form of energy.

If you can, carpool, buy a Prius or electric car, and support good energy bills (but read them first -- often really heinous energy bills are portrayed as being environmentally friendly, while not being so -- coal, for example, is bullshit).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Strike Hard

Dressed to the nines in my finest red shirt, I huffed it downtown to Fox plaza, or as you may know it, the building that made Bruce Willis a supahstar.

Grabbed me a picket and did the whole bang-bang, ra-ra rally thing. Couldn't hear a word Pres. Verrone said, but cheered for Seth MacFarlane. The woman next to me kept asking who he was and what he was saying. I wanted to slug her. Apparently, some musicians were there. I saw lots of signs and heard our thunderous cheering and the helicopters above. And this woman with the drum. That's all.

Churros everywhere. Agents' assistants are engaged in some kind of food war that I suspect is in preparation for a Food Network reality TV show.

Lots of SAG people out, supporting the cause -- Ray Romano (who's a giant!), Steve Weber (got a photo of him in his super-tight top), Erik Palladino (of ER), Josh Radnor, crazy tiny Emily Deschanel, Kal Penn, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms and Paul Lieberstein (double awesome for being an actor-writer), Billy Baldwin, who really hoofed it, and many others were out marching the good march. I personally was psyched to see Charlie Day (of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), but that's just me.

Discovered The Unit writers are the hottest on the networks. In attractiveness-scale. To a woman. A heterosexual one. Sadly didn't get photos of them.

Tonight was even more writerly unity. Went to the Sam Goldwyn Theater (home of Oscar -- the award, not Grouch) and watched three comedy geniuses, James L Brooks, Larry Gelbart and Judd Apatow (second encounter of the day) chat about films, TV, writing and comedy. Garry Shandling, K Callan, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann (shocker), and Samm Levine were all in attendance. Not only was it super awesome, but the price of the ticket. 3 bucks for students, 5 for the rest of 'em. You can't buy that kind of cheapness.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Like Commies, but with talent

Tomorrow is the big writers' rally at FOX. If you work on Pico, I advise you to find an alternate route because there are over 3000 of us, and we're going to just DESTROY traffic. So skip work, wear red, and join us. There will be famous people. It's going to be like a block party, except we're not that happy about it. I borrowed my boss's camera, so I'll be posting pictures tomorrow night.

Despite having provided the world with Freaks and Geeks and becoming the film world's next big Comedy dude, I've refrained from becoming a monster Apatow geek. Until now.

If there's a chance tomorrow, I'm going to let him know how much I love this poster (I'm not crazy enough to think I'll meet him at the rally, but I am going to a panel he's at the Sam Goldwyn Theater tomorrow night).

If you don't live in LA or NYC, you can still help support the writers' strike. How? Don't watch TV online. Writers don't get any money, despite the advertising that accompanies every episode viewed online. So don't watch those shows until we get our contracts. Watch the WGA youtube channel instead.

Chow mein noodles are the best.

If anyone knows Rob McElhenney or any of the guys on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or anyone who could get scripts for that show, let me know. I'm desperado to write a spec script for that show. Anyone who can hook me up, I'll make a pumpkin pie for (if you're in LA), OR have something sweet sent to you (if you live anywhere else in America).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Can YOU handle the truth?

The Writers Strike: "Why We Fight"

Also, for those of you who STILL think writers live enchanted lives and are just being greedy assholes after watching this, do yourself a favor and go rent The TV Set. It's quite the little horror movie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Juno You Want To, But Really, Junon't

The much-buzzed Juno got the royal treatment as the Gala Centerpiece at AFI's Filmfest last night. We're talking the Cinemarama Dome (it's kinda like Epcot) with special guests Jason Reitman, Jason Bateman, JK Simmons, Diablo Cody, and Ellen Page in attendance. Granted, only the director spoke, but I could have reached out and pricked my finger a la Sleeping Beauty on Bateman's spiky hair had I been so inclined.

But let's get down to the film. I'm expecting it's going to do well because, we all want to like it. The guy who directed the excellent Thank You For Smoking is behind it, and Diablo is a stripper-turned-blogger-turned-memoirist-turned-screenwriter. Also, her name is half-rodeo, half-Tarantino (why hasn't Tarantino done a Wild West movie -- shit, I'd see that). And the cast. Oh, the cast. You wanna love it, love it, love it.

And it's not hard to do, if you tell yourself, there's nothing wrong with a movie that's a string of one-liners, where the 16 year-old main character's dialogue is an unholy blend of a current 21st century teenager and a hyperarticulate 29 year-old who remembers everything about the 80s and likes Iggy and the Stooges. I don't know anyone under 20 who knows who they are. A kid doesn't end a word in "-izzle" and then reference Thundercats. It's an abomination!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can't not hear Diablo mouthing off through all the characters. And while it's all very witty, clever, funny, and what-have-you, there's just something that's not quite right. Seriously, Rome Film Festival, did you not notice this freakiness? Or is it only something Americans are going to find troubling?
Or just me.

On another note, Jason Bateman's great, even if the basis of his relationship with Ellen page's character is simply absurd. Not that the relationship couldn't happen. It's just based on this Freakazoid world of completely inexplicable, incongruous character development.

Whatev. I'm not convinced Diablo is all that and a bag of chips. But she's got money and uber-success, and I'm like the Honda PUYO concept car - I got no edge, man. So in a fair fight, I'd be punctured by her stiletto sharp public persona. In other words it's probably best not to listen to me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Aliens in America

I wasn't a huge fan of the pilot, but I recently started watching it online.

It's a sweet show. And I totally identify with Raja. Strict moral codes and all.

However, having white people be afraid of you because of your religion -- well, I don't have that problem. White people aren't afraid of me.

Strike! Strike! Strike!

I don't know what you've heard. But let me be completely clear. The writers have NO CHOICE but to strike. Writers deserve a fair residual rate for internet downloads, and anyone who thinks downloads aren't going to replace DVDs clearly doesn't own a computer.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A little bit of "Country," A lot of Eth' and Joel

Every so often a movie comes along that I can't say bad things about. Even if it has a flaw here and there, it's so exquisite as a whole, that for once, actually pointing out the problems would indeed be completely pointless.

I saw an early screening of No Country for Old Men tonight at LACMA, and I suggest every single person over the age of 14 go see this movie the night it comes out. The Coen brothers have outdone themselves. It's beautiful, sprawling, smart, and just brilliant. Funny and horrifying all at once, the film almost never makes jokes -- it's just funny. Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin just knock it out of the park (it's really been Josh's year, shining in Rodriguez's Planet Terror earlier this year), and Tommy is himself to perfection. The cinematography is wonderful, the story is wonderful (good source material), and Bardem is both terrifying and really, really cool at the same time. You don't want the people he kills to die, but you also don't want him to be caught or hurt. He's just too cool.

So go see it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lions for Lambs

Attended a screening of the film at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. The writer Carnahan did a Q&A after the screening and was terribly affable. I kind of wanted to smack him, he was such a nice guy. His career is a mystery to me, though his quick rise to writing stardom without any sort of struggle must, must, must be attributed to his brother Joe.

Lions for Lambs is a play. It may be on the big screen, but make no mistake, it's a play. And but for the helicopter scenes, it probably would have been.

Lions for Lambs
is not particularly great. Why? Because plays don't translate particularly well. This one, like others, is dialogue-heavy, quite static, and full of people lecturing to/at each other. And while it's all well-executed, I think you'd have to be crazy to think Andrew Garfield's Todd Hayes is anything but an unoriginal twit and that anything special is being said here.

Certainly the cry out against apathy is important, and it is in these moments, when the film begs itself and the audience to engage in -- whatever is important to them -- that it becomes a valuable film. However, this isn't enough. That Ernest and Arian engage can't save them when the leaders of the country (i.e., Tom Cruise's Sen. Irving) and journalists (i.e., Meryl Streep's Janine Roth) care more about, respectively, winning and keeping their jobs.
Still, no working hypothesis is provided, the action (and I'm just talking physical movement) is in short supply, and the characters with the most potential get gutted for pure drama's sake. That's not going to charge an audience. It's just going to depress them. Which is not what I think Carnahan was going for...

Drove too much today and ate too little. Wicked headache.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

on Russian film

I watched Nightwatch (or Night Watch, I guess) again last night. It's quite different from the novel -- in fact the movie's based ever so loosely on the first third alone. But Konstantin Khabensky, who plays Anton, is fantastic and the hottest Russian actor to grace the silver screen since Sergei Bodrov, Jr., who unfortunately passed away in a tragic avalanche a few years ago.
Anyhow Konstantin's going to be in the new Angelina Jolie movie, Wanted, which is directed, not surprisingly by Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov.

Also, for those of you who saw Eastern Promises and liked it, I recommend watching some real Russian films. Night Watch is far more violent, and unflinchingly so, and it's completely true to the story.

Brother ("Brat") is truly a great Russian film. East-West, Burnt by the Sun, and Prisoner of the Mountains are also excellent. Can't wait to rent Day Watch.

Happy November!

Delicious dinner at Corner Bakery Cafe. A chicken pomodori panini and a moist little gingerbread pumpkin bundt. It made me happy.

Excess dreaming -- or perhaps excess remembering of dreaming. The problem here is that lately some of my dreams have actually become too normal and I find myself uncertain as to whether I had a conversation with my roommate or dreamed it.

I'm going to give Chuck and Private Practice a pass. Paul Adelstein is worth all the other lame stuff (i.e., everything else), and Chuck is charming, if wildly unoriginal and repetitive.
In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen