Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

El Diablo

I used to think that it was just Santa Cruz that was in a bubble.  I mean, growing up in Santa Cruz, it was easy to forget there was a whole world out there.  Well, let’s not go that far.  I wanted to leave Santa Cruz for as long as I lived there.  I guess what I really mean to say is that it was easy to forget that not every town has a riot when Borders comes in.  Elsewhere in the world it’s considered alcoholism to go on a two year long bender.  Elsewhere in the world, it’s not typical to sleep with people your friends have slept with and then chat about it over your own individual $4 pitcher of beer.  I used to think it was just Santa Cruz.  I wasn’t in London long enough to realize that it had it’s own bubble, but thinking back on it I did spend an approximate six month period without ever leaving the city.  It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I started on a new theory.  Every city is in its own bubble.  Every town.  Every village.  Every hamlet is in its own bubble.  The bubbles have their own respective quirks and nuances.  In L.A. it is not shocking that these quirks often center around the film industry.  Sometimes when I’m writing these emails I forget that the vast majority of you don’t live in the L.A. area, therefore, often (if I’m talking about a movie) the film hasn’t opened in your neck of the woods or you haven’t heard of it.  I love it when you all write back and tell me I’m writing about something you haven’t heard of because it reminds me that I’m in a bubble.  The L.A. bubble.  I like that you guys keep me in check like that.That being said, I know I just said a little something about No Country for Old Men, which I’m assuming is at your local art cinema house, but I’m going to talk about another small movie right now.  It’s being talked about all over L.A. but, as I just said, I’m not sure if it’s being talked about or noticed elsewhere.  I’m pretty sure this film will win best original screenplay or at least be nominated.  It’s the little movie that could.  It’s called Juno.  I just got home from seeing it and I haven’t quite consolidated all my thoughts, but here it goes anyway.  Watching the film I sort of thought the whole time that I wished the film had come out 8 years ago, when I was in High School.  I really could have used it then.  The main character, Juno, is really awesome and unlike any other character I’ve ever seen on film.  I guess the closest we’ve seen is Thora Birch in Ghost World, but unlike her, Juno is vastly vibrant and alive.  Sure she’s disaffected youth.  She listens to Iggy and the Stooges, she dresses in jeans and flannel shirts, but she’s actually a pretty hopeful and optimistic character.  Ellen Page (remember that name because I’m betting she’ll be nominated this year) who plays Juno, is heartwarming and heartbreaking in the same frame.  She’s just such a kid in such an adult situation.  It’s a brilliant film.  I won’t bore you with all the details.  I’m just saying that you should definitely go see it.  It’ll be out soon where you are if it’s not out already, but movies have to be released in L.A. before January 1 otherwise they are out of Oscar contention.  That’s right folks Oscar season is upon us.  I’m not going to give my out and out predictions yet, it’s too soon.  What I will say is that this year is going to be a year for the independent movies.  There are only one or two studio movies that are even being buzzed about for Oscar contention (American Gangster and Sweeney Todd).  So be prepared for a year of good movies getting nominated.Peace, Love, and Diablo Cody,Julia

Advertisements

December 9, 2007 Posted by | Alcoholism, High School, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews, Movies, Oscars | Leave a comment

No Day But Today!

Last week was all about the green witch. This week it’s all about La
Vie Boheme. So this might be long because I have a hell of a lot to
say about this. But just bear with me…I’ll try to make it as
painless as possible.

So in my last email I talked about Wicked and what a great musical it
is. I referred to Rent and how it was my favorite musical of all
time. Well the thing is, I can’t stop listening to it and watching it
on DVD. And now I’m going to write about it.

When I was fifteen years old my mom took me out of school for the
first and only time ever. A few months earlier I had heard that Rent
was playing in San Francisco. I didn’t know anything about it, but I
knew I wanted to see it. So we went to San Francisco on a thursday
night to go see Rent. It was playing at the Golden Gate theater. So
anyone who knows San Francisco theaters knows that the Golden Gate is
in a really sketchy neighborhood. Mom and I drove two blocks to the
theater (true l.a. fashion) because it’s in such a sketchy
neighborhood.

Even as I entered the theater I knew I was seeing something different.
They had decorated the whole lobby area with broken dish pieces. It
was beautiful in a very urban way.

Now, picture this. Julia at 15 years old, sitting in a theater. I
had bright pink (or maybe purple or maybe turquoise) hair. I wore
huge chains around my neck, wrists, ankles, anything I could hang
chains off of. I had on a jean jacket that was riddled with safety
pins and spikes, a plaid skirt, ripped fishnets, and a tank top.
Basically, I looked like I didn’t want anyone to fuck with me because
I didn’t.

I’ve sort of alluded to this before, but it’s an event I’ve just
recently started dealing with. When I was 14 a guy I knew died of a
heroin overdose (he wasn’t a really good friend, but I later realized
that I was friends with all his friends…we would have been good
friends eventually). It effected me more than I could really ever
imagine. I think the reason it effected me so much was that I
actually watched someone tell his girlfriend what had happened. I
watched her crumble to the ground, sobbing. That effected me. On top
of that, I was a teenager, and angsty. Basically, this was the point
in time where I tried to numb myself to everything I was feeling. I
was just feeling so much, and I didn’t really know how to handle it so
I started drinking…….heavily.

But one year later I saw Rent. And as cliche as that sounds it
changed my whole life. This was a show about people I knew. Roger
and Mimi were who I identified with the most (though this has changed
throughout the years). Roger was a recovering heroin addict,
musician, who was HIV positive. He had completely shut down and shut
everyone out of his life. Well, I guess two out of four ain’t bad…I
was a musician and I was completely shutting down emotionally. Mimi
was a heroin addicted stripper who was HIV positive, but she also sang
the song that really awakened me. The lyrics go something like
this…’The heart may freeze or it can burn. The pain will ease, if I
can learn. There is no future, there is no past. I live this moment
as my last. There’s only us, there’s only this. Forget regret or
life is yours to miss. No other road. No other way. NO DAY BUT
TODAY.’ She sings this in the middle of the first act, and suddenly I
felt a little more alive.

At the beginning of Act one Roger sings One Song Glory, which is about
writing one great song before he dies of AIDS. This opened me up a
little. And I realized that with each song, little by little, I was
starting to feel. Really feel. And it was a little scary, but it was
also great. I, like Roger, became open by the end of the play. Now,
I’m not saying that I left the theater and was suddenly transformed.
That I quit drinking myself to oblivion immediately, but it wasn’t too
soon after that I settled and that I let myself really feel my
emotions instead of constantly trying to mute them or block them out
all together.

I went home and bought the album which I wore through. In fact, I’ve
worn through two different copies of that soundtrack and my copy right
now has seen better days. I absolutely couldn’t get enough of it. It
was one of the first albums that I read all the liner notes front to
back. And in doing so I realized that this was modeled after La
Boheme. Hmm….interesting. One of my favorite movies is
Moonstruck, where that opera is used throughout. I love the music. I
bought that album too, and I read all those liner notes. As I
listened and read, I truly realized what a genius Jonathon Larson
(writer of Rent) was. There were some songs, like Light My Candle,
that were almost word for word translated from the Italian. There
were themes that were stolen from the opera, but used in new
interesting ways. There’s a riff from Musetta’s waltz that, when
played on a guitar, sound so amazing and new and different, but at the
same time, so similar and comfortable.

Even the character names are similar, but in a modern, sometimes
comical way. Roger is Rodolfo, Mimi is Mimi, Mark is Marcello,
Maureen is Musetta, Tom Collins is Colline, Angel Dumont Schunard is
Schaunard and Benny is Benoit. If you know the opera it makes seeing
Rent that much richer. But it also begs one to think. La Boheme was
a musical about artists who were starving in Paris, they were being
decimated by disease, and still learned to love and live through this
trememdous devestation. New York in the late ’80’s/early ’90’s was
the same way. AIDS was running rampant, Reagan wasn’t doing anything
about it, and there were stigmas attached to it. Basically, if you
had AIDS, you were either a junkie or gay…it was punishment for
sinning to get AIDS, but in reality this wasn’t at all true. Rent
takes this devestation and achieves what nothing else has…it
respects people that are usually looked down upon. It takes these
junkies and strippers and poor people and it treats them with respect.

I think the reason I connected with Rent so much was that I saw myself
in these stories. I was so passionate about things and I wasn’t
willing to comprimise my beliefs for money or comfort or anything. I
understood these people and their plight. I had friends who were
addicted to drugs and I didn’t respect them any less because of it.
At one point a round of people sing ‘will I lose my dignity,’ Rent
gave us freaks, us artists, us idealists our dignity back.

My favorite moment in Rent is, was, and always has been when they sing
La Vie Boheme. It’s a huge celebration of life and of a different way
of life. The lyrics range from simply listing the things we find
wonderful, ‘To Leather, To Dildos, To Curry Vindaloo, To Huevos
Rancheros, and Maya Angelou,’ the things we believe ‘To Sodomy, it’s
between God and me….To S&M,’ and the best line in the whole play
‘The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.’ But La Vie Boheme
not just about the great lyrics and great music, there’s some great
fucking choreography in it as well. It is shocking to some people,
but that’s what the song is about…this is what we believe and there
you go. At one point the lyrics state, ‘to anything taboo’ and oral
sex is simulated between two women. Then again, towards the end of the
song we are reminded, ‘let thee among us without sin be the first to
condemn…La Vie Boheme’ with fists raised in the air ready to battle.
The choreography in this scene lends itself to the concept of La Vie
Boheme.

Most people haven’t heard most of the songs in Rent. Seasons of Love,
however, is a song that most people have heard. It’s the one that
talks about 525,600 minutes and starts off the second act of Rent. It
is an amazingly beautiful song that just evokes so much emotion, so
much hope, so much sadness. Basically, the song categorizes all the
ways to measure a year ‘in midnights, in cups of coffee’ ‘in inches,
in miles, in laughter, in strife’ ‘in the bridges she burned, or the
way that she died.’ And in the reprise, they ask the most poignant
question: ‘how do we figure our last year on earth?’

Act two goes on through the year. It follows people breaking up and
making up and trying to make things work. It shows people opening up
to love, but it also shows the intense pain we can feel when we open
ourselves. The play shows this through the character of Angel.
Angel, who is now my favorite character in the show, is the emotional
center of Rent. He/She is the one that really knows that she has to
make the most of what she’s got left.

And the part that absolutely fucking kills me is when they sing
seasons of love again. On stage, they line up just as they do for
seasons of love at the beginning of act two, but at this point there
is a distinct hole in the line. A hole where a very important person
once stood. It’s quite possibly the most poignant piece of theatre
choreography I’ve ever seen. It absolutely kills me every single time
I see it on stage (and I’ve seen it seven times).

Now, I’ll fight my urge to go through the genius of every single song
in Rent and La Boheme and all of it’s incarnations (I’m saving that
for the dissertation), but I have to say, ending a musical by singing
‘no day but today’ at the top of your lungs and having Angel run back
out on stage has to be the best way to end a musical ever.

There’s no way I could ever do justice to Rent and how much it has
effected my life. All I can say is if you haven’t seen it, go. If
it’s not playing near you, rent the movie. And if you don’t at least
appreciate how amazing it is, I don’t think I can ever talk to you
again.

Peace, Love, Mark, Mimi, Roger, Collins, Angel, Maureen, Joanne,
Benny, and Thank You Jonathon Larson,

Julia

June 27, 2007 Posted by | Alcoholism, Gay/Lesbian, High School, Movies, Musicals, Politics, Rent | 1 Comment

I Saw the Best Minds of My Generation…

So I spent Sunday night working (who’s shocked?).  I worked at
Paramount, where they threw a huge party on the New York City backlot.
 The Killers played, me and the other pages who were working snuck off
to drink some champagne.  All in all it was a good night.

I’m not shocked easily.  The Santa Cruz I grew up in is not the Santa
Cruz most of you know.  I was 12 when I made my first friend who also
happened to be a speed freak.  I started smoking cigarettes at 13.  I
started drinking alcohol at 14.  When I was 15 a friend of mine died
of a heroin overdose.  By the time I was 16 I’d already taken more
than one friend to planned parenthood for various reasons.  Now, I’m
not saying this to elicit any sort of sympathy and I know that all
that information may be shocking to some of you.  I’m sorry.  I mean
no harm and I promise I have a point, a big one.  My point right now
is that it takes a lot to shock me.  In fact, I can’t really remember
a time when I was really and truly shocked about something that people
were doing.

Moving to London, and then to Los Angeles was certainly eye-opening
and both of them were a change, but neither were shocking.  And really
nothing that’s happened to me here so far has been, categorically
speaking, shocking…until Sunday night.

So this party at Paramount is rumored to have had 6000 people at it.
But really, it seemed more like 2000, maybe 3000.  In any case, there
were a lot of people there.  And as I was carting around drunk old
people (going to and coming from a private party on the lot)  I passed
by what seemed to me to be an extremely high percentage of drunk
women.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting drunk on New
Year’s Eve…Hell, I’m all for getting drunk period.  It’s fun, it
makes you to funny shit, and it’s a good way to let yourself let loose
like you wouldn’t normally.  It seemed to me, however, this New Year’s
Eve, that everywhere I turned there was some girl who was so drunk she
couldn’t stand.  Some girl puking in the very expensive, very highly
manicured plants, some ambulance coming for some girl who drank until
she was poisoned.  Some unbelievably drunk girls.

Now, when I was in college things like this happened.  Hell, when I
was in high school things like this happened.  Now this party cost
these people $150/person to get in.  Drinks were not free, neither was
food.  I guarantee you, most of the people attending this party were
25 or over.  They were old enough to have jobs that paid them enough
to spend $150 to go to a party (either that or they’re hot off the
real life Beverly Hills 90210).  Now don’t get me wrong, the people at
this party were, by and large, young.  But they weren’t that young.

What I’m getting at here is that on Sunday night, for the first time
in a long time, for the first time that I can remember, I was really
and truly shocked.  This kind of obscene alcohol consumption never
used to bother me.  But at a certain point it’s just sad and…wait
there’s a word for it right?  Oh yeah, fucking alcoholism.  I’m sorry
but what was once, us being young and stupid, is now really
depressing.  The shocking part of it for me was the sheer number.  I
saw, and I’m not being hyperbolic, at least 10 or 15 girls who were so
drunk they couldn’t walk.  And  I wasn’t even at the party…not
really.  I was working at a different party and they just happened by
me on their way out of the studio or on their way to a nice manicured
bush.

I guess what shocked me so so much is the fact that we’re not kids.
I’m sure these people have been doing this since college.  And you
know what, I used to do it in High School.  I got drunk all the time
and puked in bushes and generally was a complete asshole, but I grew
out of it.  So much so that when I do drink, I never get to the point
where I can’t walk or can’t get myself home by walking, cab or subway
(yes, L.A. has a subway).  Is this what my generation has come to?
People work all day in jobs that are obviously paying them too much
since they can afford this party, then drink themselves into oblivion.
 I mean, we’re a smart group of people, my generation.  We’re
disillusioned by everything, we’re completely skeptical, a bit
cynical.  We have trouble with relationships, we sleep with people we
shouldn’t, and we were raised completely by television (this is not
meant as a bad thing, just a simple statement).  But overall, we’re a
pretty smart group of kids.  Our parents are, on the whole, a college
educated bunch.  A huge percentage of us are college educated, and
those of us who aren’t are smart in other ways.  I’m hard-pressed to
find a truly stupid memeber of my generation.   Lazy, yes.  Cluless,
sometimes.  But really fucking stupid, hardly ever.  So why do people
feel the need to get so unbelievably obliterated that they can’t
function?

And you know what.  For once, I don’t have an answer.

Don’t mean to leave this on a downer people, but it’s 9 and I have to
work tomorrow and I’m so unbelievably exhausted (from working every
day except one since Thanksgiving…that’s right Christmas day was my
first day off since Thanksgiving and I haven’t had a day off
since…there isn’t one in sight either) I’m going to bed at nine.
And I’m sleeping until seven so I can get up and greet people to go on
the Paramount studios tour.  Living the dream people, living the
dream.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year.
Love you all,

Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Alcoholism, Education, High School, Santa Cruz | 1 Comment

Shaken, Not Stirred

Ok,
So my last email was a bit maudlin, but I figure I’m allowed a dark
moment every now and then.  And just wait ’till you all read the
screenplay I’m writing…It’s dark to say the least.  In any case,
I’ve moved past my dark ruminations for the moment and am instead
ready to move on to something much more important than how idiotic, my
hyper-intelligent generation can be sometimes.  That’s right folks the
time has come to talk about the new James Bond movie.

Casino Royale.  Let me just say.  It’s freaking awesome.  It’s really
everything you could ever want from a James Bond movie and more.  It’s
two and a half hours long, but the time flies by.  And those two and a
half hours are chock full of action (in many senses of the word),
adventure, and even a little, dare I say romance?

The villians are awesome.  One guy drips tears of blood from his eye,
how fucking creepy and awesome is that?  Plus, there’s no real
consensus from the beginning on who, excatly the real bad guy is.
They seem to all be the bad guy and then they get killed off.  It’s
freaking awesome.  You get all settled in to ‘ this is James Bond,’ ‘
this is the bad guy’ and then the rug just gets pulled right out from
under you.

Let’s also pause for a moment on how smokin’ hot Daniel Craig is.
Now, I’m fully expecting to catch some sort of flak from the British
Contingent that this email gets sent out to, since I haven’t heard the
British Consensus about how Mr. Craig has completely botched the
newest of the James Bond movies.  But he’s so pretty.  The piercing
blue eyes, the body to end all bodies, and the tight little swim
shorts.  Let’s just say that this Bond is truly for the ladies.

Ok, I won’t torture you with that anymore.  The thing that shocked me
the most about this new Bond film was the sort of back story.  This
was an origin pic of sorts…for those of you that don’t know what an
origin pic is, it’s the movie that establishes the origin of
characters.  So the first X-men movie is an origin pic that
establishes who the X-men are and where they come from.  Batman Begins
was Batman’s origin pic…you get the picture.  Casino Royale
establishes where some of Mr. Bond’s more memorable quirks originated
from.  It covers them all, from why he sleeps with so many women
without getting close to any of them, to why he drinks a martini
(shaken, not stirred).

All in all it’s a great film.  Judi Dench is as ever, the best M of
all time.  The car that he destroys is utterly beautiful (and equipped
with a defribulator…I’m not a doctor, and though I watch Grey’s
Anatomy, I can’t spell that).  But mostly, it makes you fall in love
with Bond all over again.

I have just one complaint and I’m hoping my Brits will back me up on
this.  In the middle of the movie James Bond tells the American CIA
agent that he can ‘have the bad guy.’  The two of them are going to
take the bad guy down, but the American gets to make the arrest.  I’m
sorry.  James Bond would never give up the bad guy to the Americans.
It just wouldn’t happen.  He’s James Bond.  He’s like the Captain
America of Britain.  He doesn’t just let some American Agent steal
Britain’s glory.

That’s the only thing that bothered me and I’m ready for the onslaught
of emails from my brits.  I hope you all are doing well…that’s all
of you, not just my brits.

Have a great weekend.
Love,

Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Alcoholism, Brits, Hollywood, James Bond, Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment