Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Musings on Life

So today was my last day at Paramount.  I hung up the blue blazer finally.  It’s funny because I’m usually sad when I leave jobs that I love, but today was just different.  I’m sad I won’t be there everyday, but I’m really happy with where I’m at now.  Working full time at one job (only 40 hours a week) means I’ll have time to write which is really what I want to do.  So there you have it.  

What I love about life is that God or Jehovah or Mohammed or Buddah or Kurt Cobain or whoever is looking over me (and that may be no one, but who am I to say?) sends little gifts.  On my last day at Paramount, I was, poetically enough, at Dr. Phil.  That’s right.  My least favorite thing in the world, and it was as stupid and useless as ever.  But there was a shining star at Dr. Phil today. I went outside at about 9 AM to start giving people their breaks and there was a man in line with a plastic doll house miraculously attached to his head.  I’m not quite sure how he managed to convert the Barbie Dream House into a hat, but he had.  He was ceremoniously holding a Hilary for President sign and apparently had a plan to tell Dr. Phil.  The man had a plan to provide housing to everyone in the United States.  As an aside I’ll say this:  Dr. Phil doesn’t give a fuck.  He doesn’t care about your problems.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even care about the problems that people on his show have.  He cares about his botoxed wife (whom he has cheated on so really, how much does he care besides the fact that she helps him keep up appearances), he cares about his multi-million dollar mansion in Beverly Hills, and he cares about his show (not the guests) and that’s about it.  
So of course we had to kick the nutbar out.  I’ve actually never seen them kick anyone out at Dr. Phil (even when a couple who literally looked as though Rasputin and his twin had been dragged from the river showed up), so it was the dawning of a new world for me.  Now what I loved is that this man did not go quietly.  He started yelling that Dr. Phil was bullshit (newsflash: he is) and he proceeded to stand on a public sidewalk outside the studio and tell everyone that they shouldn’t go to the show.  Of course this caused quite a tizzy over the radio.  The head of Audience Coordination (otherwise known as the bane of my existence) was freaking out, and was not to happy when I politely added that the right to peacefully protest was outlined in this man’s first amendment rights.  Of course the man eventually left, but needless to say he made my last day at Dr. Phil worth while.  Well, him and the guy that asked if the topic for today’s show was about needy people after seeing me harassed by hordes of old ladies asking the same question over and over again…to which I responded that that was the show topic every day.  
My other musing of the day is about L.A. as a whole.  And it can be summed up in just one sentence:  Only in L.A. can you leave the Emergency Room at Cedars Sinai Hospital and directly enter the Parking Lot for the Beverly Center (a.k.a. a huge mall).  Also, only in L.A. does it cost less money to park at the mall than it does to park at the hospital.
Peace, Love, and Live Life,

Julia

February 8, 2008 Posted by | Hollywood, Los Angeles, Television, Work | Leave a comment

The Music in You

Even the name is cheezy. So I know this is a little unprecedented for a Saturday, but I just read an article and I can’t help but respond.

For those of you who don’t have kids under the age of 15 you may never have heard of High School Musical. Indeed, I work in the business that makes stuff like this so I have to know when something makes such a huge splash. In any case, I’ll give you a little background before I totally freak out so you’ll know where I’m coming from. The Disney Channel, about a year ago, made, for very little money, a made for t.v. original musical set in High School…sort of like Grease for the new millennium. Except it’s not at all like Grease. You won’t find a cigarette, or tight leather pants, or racing for pink slips in High School Musical. In fact, in the first movie (yes, there’s more than one) the romantic leads don’t even kiss. I know, I was appalled as well.

Now, I’m not really one for the Disney channel. I mean, I’ve got a weird thing for teen drama on television, but the tween stuff doesn’t really tickle my fancy. I guess, I take issue with the fact that they sugar coat everything about that time in life. I mean, there’s these tweens running around with not many problems. Maybe they have a bad day because they have a pimple or something, but I remember Junior High as being more similar to torture every single day. Like, here, you’re at the most awkward you’ll ever be and everyone else around you feels the same way, but you all try to hide it by making fun of each other, and thus just advance the spiral. So anyway, that’s why I take issue with the Disney Channel and most of its programming.

But, I give the Paramount Pictures studio tour and we have many high school groups that come through and take the tour. I always get asked about Zac Efron (who I’ve met and is very nice, though pretty short). For my first 9 months at Paramount, however, I had no clue who he was. I had heard Kevin and Bean (the L.A. morning djs) talking about how much High School Musical sucked, but other than that I knew nothing. Then one day I was working a Press Event at the Beverly Hilton and High School Musical 2 was one of the shows doing publicity. I saw the little clips and it looked just as lame as all the other Disney Channel shows so I really didn’t think anything of it.

Then I gave a tour to some high school girls and on it they asked me about the movie RENT. I was ridiculously excited that people younger than myself still loved RENT and connected to it. Little did I know that these girls had gotten me in to quite a vulnerable position. That’s when they started talking about High School Musical. Just after the RENT…in my weakened condition I thought, well if these girls like it then maybe I should watch it…see what all the fuss is about. So I set the TiVo and the rest is history.

I watched High School Musical alone in my apartment, and have let very few people know that I actually did watch this thing all the way through. But I guess the secret is out now. Basically, as I got more and more into the movie, I became more and more appalled. It’s the corniest thing I’ve ever seen. I think what disturbed me the most (and I’m still not sure I’ve I’m more disturbed for myself or for them) is that these girls, that were fans of RENT, which doesn’t have a shred of sentimentality in it, loved High School Musical. And then I thought about it, like really thought about it…this is where I might just be disturbed for my own crazy messed up adolescence. I thought, when I was 15 would I have liked this. The answer is a resonant and astounding NO FUCKING WAY. I was drinking and doing drugs and doing boys when I was 15. I would have NEVER ever ever watched a musical where the biggest problem the characters have was whether or not to try out for the school musical because that’s not what basketball players do.

But apparently we’re in the middle of a huge backswing. The second installment of HSM earned a viewership of 17million people (it’s on cable, not everyone has cable…basically, this is the average rating for Ugly Betty – on ABC – every week). So what did I do…..simply to torture myself. I TiVoed the second freaking movie…and I watched that too. I just needed/need to know what is so appealing about this musical. It’s funny because the article I just read had a bunch of parents quoted as saying that there is no swearing and no sex so they don’t have to worry about it. I’m sorry, but that, to me means you’re a shitty parent. I guess I’m just lucky to have the most awesome parents of all time (which I do believe that I have) because my mom sat on the couch and watched 90210 with me every week. When Kelly got addicted to diet pills, we talked about it. When Brenda lost her virginity to Dylan, we talked about it. When they almost didn’t let Donna Martin graduate because she got drunk at the prom, we talked about it.

And thus I come to this conclusion, High School Musical is responsible (in cahoots with the disney channel) for the decay of America’s youth. Parents, according to this article, think that it’s better to not have to talk to their kids about issues, than to actually have to discuss something real. I guess, the other thing that really gets to me is that as a writer, I strive for truth. I want to portray the human condition accurately and realistically. I don’t believe in Sugar-coating, even for pre-teens…even for kids (see my email on Harry Potter). Basically, let’s get serious about our situation people….ignoring problems is how we got to where we are…let’s not continue. And if we need to escape to a fantasy land where everything is perfect…I suggest Brave New World or 1984 to slap reality back into you.

Peace, Love, and Reality (but not reality t.v.)

Julia

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Books, Education, High School, Movie Reviews, Movies, Musicals, Rent, Television, Work | Leave a comment

Neal Cassady and the Beat Kids.

Usually I know when big books are coming out. I mean, come on people,
I work at a bookstore, one frequented by extremely literate and snobby
people. As such, when “important” books come out I usually have
warning and hear buzz and all that goodness. I mean, I can’t tell you
when Jackie Collins or Danielle Steel (can’t even spell her name)
novels come out, but Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, William Gibson, we
have to fight to keep them in the store. So imagine my surprise on
Saturday when I walked into Booksoup for the first time since Monday
and saw a shining pillar of amazingness staring me in the face. A
book that I hadn’t heard was being published, nor did I know anything
about it.

That book was ‘On The Road.’

I think I just gave a literature professor an aneurysm. I’m not
talking about the On The Road with Dean Moriarty…don’t worry, I read
it years ago. I’m talking about the new On The Road. The Original
Scroll, it’s called. Apparently, and this is what I’ve learned from
my impromtu literary history lesson on Saturday afternoon, Kerouac
originally wrote On The Road on one huge scroll that was actually
tracing paper taped together. This scroll contained all the real
names, like Neal Cassady (the real Dean Moriarty), Allen Ginsberg, and
William S. Burroughs. It also featured something appalling for 1957
(when the book was originally published)….Sex. I know, shocking.
And what’s worse, it featured sex between men and women, as well as
sex between men and men.

Now, let’s back track a little bit. I started trying to read On The
Road when I was a senior in high school. It was a futile mission. I
tried to read it again probably four times before one of the biggest,
most life changing events occurred. I moved to London for a whole
year, and I definitely changed A LOT over the course of that year. I
really grew up that year. And in my last month there, when I was
pretty much done with school but just bumming around the city with my
friends, I finally, finally was ready for On The Road. And I devoured
it. I loved every word, hung on every word, and totally just got the
book. Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks of it as Gospel,
but I did come to the conclusion, after having finished, that On The
Road is a particular kind of book. It’s a book that you have to be in
the right time of your life to read. I tried for so long to read it
(and know many people who had the same experience), but once I had
truly experienced even a little of what life had to offer, the book
suddenly became important.

So you can imagine, when I walked into work on Saturday, I was shocked
that I had not heard a thing about this original scroll. I opened the
front flap and was immediately intrigued…but I was finishing up a
young adult book (they’re good to read at work seeing as I’m actually
reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and you sort of have to not
be at work to read that book). Well, as young adult books go, I
finished within the first hour of being at work and, seeing as we
weren’t that busy, was left with nothing to do…and nothing to read
(which is my worst nightmare). So I nonchalantly picked up this new
On The Road.

One thing you should know, before I continue, is that I HATE hardcover
books. They’re heavy, I can’t put them in my pocket. They’re a bitch
to read when you’re in bed (it’s hard to get comfortable with those
things…they have sharp corners), plus they have that ridiculously
pesky book jacket. I mean they’re just a fucking mess, and I hate
them. So a book has to be very very good for me to read it in
hardcover….usually I just wait.

So back to the story, I sat at the front register and absolutely could
not put down this hardcover copy of On The Road…again. In fact, I
was so intrigued and entranced I bought it and brought it home….I
knew I wouldn’t be able to stop reading it, and I did have to close
the store by this time.

Needless to say, I’ve gotten through a good chunk and it’s absolutely
incredible. It’s incredible to see these people as they were. See
Allen Ginsberg so ridiculously in love with Neal Cassady, hear people
talk so openly and explicitly about sex and drug use in the 1950’s, an
era I usually associate with poodle skirts and pomade.

It’s been a long time since a book has had me distracted at work (let
me rephrase, it’s been a long time since a book that’s not about a boy
wizard has distracted me at work), and who better than distract than
Jack Kerouac.

Peace, Love, and Dean Moriarty,
Julia

August 20, 2007 Posted by | Books, Brits, Education, Friends, Gay/Lesbian, Work | Leave a comment

You Know You’re Working in Hollywood When…

You know you’re really working in Hollywood when you work a 15 hour
day (a normal occurence for me these days).  Of course this 15 hour
day consists of getting paid to watch a screening of the new
live-action Charlotte’s Web film, which won’t be out until Christmas,
and is fantastic, with 150 third graders.  Followed by getting paid to
watch Barry Manilow perform on Entertainment Tonight (as in, watch
this amazing bit of fabulousness as it’s being filmed to be on the
show).  And the last 6 hours or so of your fifteen hour day is spent
getting paid to screen/watch the new Brad Pitt movie twice.  Actually,
I only watched it once seeing as it’s minorly dissapointing, and
majorly heavy.

Ahh, the glamour of the Hollywood lifestyle.  It’s really tough.

Of course then there are those other fifteen hour days that start at 7
am with the delight that is the Dr. Phil show, where for 6 hours I get
to deal with middle-aged, white trash, women who think that this man,
who I’m convinced has a mail-in Ph.D. is the messiah.  Six hours of
listening to people who worship a 6′ tall texan with a molestor
moustache asking me to tell them all about how great he is in real
life.  Newsflash people, that man is an asshole.  Then comes the icing
on the cake, the true adrenaline pumping moments when a group of old
ladies gets it in their head that they, for some unknown reason, will
not be able to witness or experience first hand the miraculous series
of events that are sure to take place on Stage 29.  These old ladies,
who, through some old lady telepathy, all at once come to the
conclusion that they will not witness the sacred event and bum rush
the poor, tired page, who has not been fed, but has had about 8
million tiny cups of gross coffee (the only reason she is still
standing).  As she calms these skittish creatures, said Page finally
sends the audience off to sit in the audience section on the stage.
Here’s where the real fun begins folks, that’s right, Dr. Phil comes
out to the sounds of Cher, Shania Twain, or Garth Brooks, depending on
the, certain to be enthralling, subject of today’s shows.  And the
show begins.  An hour and a half of torture, where this Page pulls her
book out and tries desperately to drown out the good ‘Dr.’ as he gives
quite possibly the worst advice ever to his Jerry Springer-like
guests.

After six hours of this, I then get to go do something fun.  I get to
meet my heroes, the writers.  Yesterday it was Michael Chabon (who
wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which, if you
haven’t read, you should go out this instant, buy it and start
reading).  These events are the best because this is where I get paid
to Eat, drink Jack Daniels and get my favorite books signed.

GOTTA LOVE THE HOLLYWOOD LIFESTYLE

I love you all,

Julia

P.S. If you are a Dr. Phil fan, I’m sorry if I insulted you, but
truthfully, HE SUCKS ASS!!!!

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movies, Television, Work | Leave a comment

You Know You Live in L.A. When…

You know you live in L.A. when you’re sitting at the cash register of
a bookstore in West Hollywood, one of three jobs that you have to work
in order to pay your bills, and you’ve been busy plotting the
character arcs of the characters of a screenplay you’re a third of the
way through writing.  You’ve been plotting these arcs for the last
four hours as you mindlessly ring up the pathetic choices of books the
vast majority of the American population seems to think are
noteworthy.  You’re contemplating story arcs of a screenplay that will
most likely not get read beyond the first ten pages (because god
forbid anyone in this town read an entire screenplay that doesn’t have
Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, or Lindsay Lohan’s name attached to it
before the fricken thing has even been written).  But still, you’re
spending your time writing this thing that is important to you, even
though it will almost definitely never be made into a movie because
the studios would rather spend 11 Million dollars on Jackass Number
Two (get the joke there, that’s clever stuff folks…the stuff dreams
are made of, excuse the outdated reference) than spend any money on a
movie that actually portrays real emotion or the reality of being
young in the beginning of the twenty-first century.  So you’re sitting
there at this cash register, putting your hundred thousand dollar
education to good use and you’re looking down at your hands, which are
drumming the rhythm to the Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman song that’s
playing on the Muzac station, when you look up………right into the
face of ELTON JOHN, who proceeds to spend more at one store than you
make in a month, and you’re working three jobs.  That’s when you know
you live in Los Angeles, and maybe, just maybe there’s a little bit of
hope for you.  If some fat, flamboyant British man can make it, than a
fat, mumbling skater  from Santa Cruz has just a glimmer of hope too.

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Books, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Music, Work | Leave a comment