Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So, This Is Christmas:

And What Have You Done?

Another Year Over

And A New One's Just Begun

It admittedly isn't "beginning to look a lot" like anything here in Venice (except maybe the holiday vacation the McCallister's took to Florida in Home Alone 2). There's some snow topping the mountains just outside of LA, but the rest of the Southland is currently mired in cold, rainy, almost "Midwestern" weather (if it was March).

Yet, despite the rain, this semester (and first year) at USC went out with a blast. The screening on Sunday was one hell of a drunken, rollicking party with tons of laughs, cheers, and shout-outs that made your average brew-and-view look like a church basement.

Apparently the crowd isn't usually as rowdy as my class was last Sunday. Some friends who were a semester or two ahead of us told us that we have a bit more alcohol-fueled fun than classes previous.

Speaking of laughs, I'm proud to say that more than a few of the laughs in Norris were provided by the film of yours truly. "Sunshine on Sale" screened right in the heart of the order and I couldn't be happier with the response. It got laughs, a few cheers, and plenty of compliments afterward. I was especially happy it played well because my two actors-Javier and Todd-came for the screening and got to see their awesome performances play out in front of a crowd and I made sure to give them their due diligence during the little post-film speech we get to give.

The whole thing was a ton of fun and will remain a pretty unforgettable experience for the countless little things that went on between friends (and enemies) that night.

I have to say, since I haven't really talked about them in the ole' blog, but the biggest reason I feel like I have survived (if not thrived) out here for roughly the past 12 months has been because of the friends I've made at USC. Some of you have already gotten to meet a few of them, and more of you will get to meet more of them over the Christmas break, but the whole class, and especially the dozen or so people I hang out and drink and smoke with on daily basis, have been the greatest and best surprise that I've had since hitting the road of uncertainty last January. We've spent a year in the metaphorical trenches of filmmaking, and I suspect that a couple of these characters will be around for a long time.

But, of course, there's a reason I have been literally counting the days 'til my return to Chicago and it's because of my awesome family and the incredible friends, from Montclair Ave to St. Pet's, from Benet to Loyola, from Second City and beyond.

I am so damn sick of not being in Chicago and not hanging out with y'all that I've been doing my best to stay pretty busy the last few days: preparing for next semester, doing things I've procrastinated since August, and spending some time with the few people who are still around town.

I've got one more little stop this weekend before arriving at O'Hare airport, hopefully ((KNOCK ON WOOD)) in time to see the second half of the MNF game between the Bears and Packers in, I think, the GE, but maybe downtown. Anyway, sorry as it is, the Monsters of the Midway seem to still have a shot to get to and be defeated in the first round of the playoffs.

Oh, and so I PRRAAAAYYYY that my SA's will be able to get me a DV tape copy of my film tomorrow. Apparently there's a huge logjam made worse by the moving into the new building (more 'bout that down the road) and some tapes won't get printed in time for Xmas.

So, if I don't come home with a copy of "Sunshine" please don't hate me, because I'll already be hating myself. Besides, we can always watch "Chhhhk Chhk BOOM and A Happy New Year" again, right?

By the way, the worst written, but best delivered, line ever has to be Juan Picante saying:

"I think it's going to be......a BLAST"

....and may all your Christmases be white

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry Mix-mas to All, and to All a Good Night!

......and this ball game is OVA!!!!

I hate to borrow a phrase from the other side of town, but I cannot help to contain the excitement of being DONE! Yeah baby!

Okay, before we get too deep into my unbridled joy/relief, let us step back briefly to yesterday, and what is probably the best Mix-mas ever.

So, like I said, I've been sound editing since the end of Thanksgiving break (roughly Dec 1) and have spent at least some time in the edit lab every day since then. There's just so much sound work that can be done.

Anyway, the sound mix is something that all "real" movies go through. There's a lot of technical things that go into it (most of which I don't understand), but long story short is that I spent a bunch of time editing the sound for my film at a computer screen wearing headphones. But the movie will not be watched like that: it will be watched in a theater. The sound mix essentially takes the sounds that I laid out and mixes them together, brings some sounds out, tones others down, and designs it to play in a large theater (which, in the case of this Sunday, will be USC's Norris Theater). It's fun because you really have think about how your film will play to a theater full of people.

Because the sound mix is such a technical process and the equipment used is so expensive (I mixed on a quarter-million dollar board) we essentially get our sound mixer assigned to us based on the time slot. It's kind of a frustrating process because, though none of the mixers are bad, some are good and some are really f*^# ingeniously talented. It's just the luck of the draw.

So I met with my mixer a day before the mix and it was clear to me based on the conversation we had that he was going to be a "good" guy, which was fine. I would have liked a magic man but what you gonna do?

Then, I get an e-mail from him yesterday morning saying that he will not be able to make it to my mix. Who did they get to fill in for him? Well, only Buddy, the chief audio engineer at USC, who has recorded with the likes of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, and others.


Buddy was the magic man. I ran into my SA (Student Assistant, essentially a TA) before the mix and she said that Buddy was watching my film earlier and thought it was hilarious. In the mixing theater he did things to the sounds in my film that I would have never thought of but they ramped it way up. It was great because he really got what I was going for and the whole thing was such an amazing and unique experience. Up until yesterday I was feeling pretty good about the picture edit and a little nervous about the sound. Now, I may be more excited for the sound than anything else. When we finished, he was laughing and said "this thing is going to rock at Norris".

So yeah, anyway, I threw a Mix-mas party (Get it?) at my place last night to celebrate being done and the party was a damn blast. Eggnog, xmas lights, wii tennis, tons of beer, a late-night visit to the beach (don't worry, no one was dumb enough to go in), pizza, Jack Daniel's, and a 3 am drunken viewing of the Chhhk Chhk Boom films. The mess I woke up to this morning is reminiscent of a certain NYE celebration at a certain building's rooftop downtown.

But man oh man though does it feel good to be done. Now I get some time to get a few things taken care of and only 9 days separate me from returning to my big, beautiful, wacky-weathered, corruption filled home sweet home Chicago.

Ah yes: Blago. I mean, we all knew he was a crook right? I just can't believe he was so stupid to say all that when he knew he was under federal scrutiny.

"I've got this thing, it's f***ing golden!"

By the way, is it bad that I'm kind of happy about all this because I get to see more Chicago in the news? I mean, I'm so desperate to see my city that I'm watching CNN and stuff just to see their correspondents report from Daley Plaza or near the Aon Center. The WGN news at noon and nine (10am and 7pm here) just isn't enough anymore. I want my CHI!

So, yeah, the screening is at Norris tomorrow. I'll be there with the whole class plus most of the cast and crew and we'll watch the thing and drink and party some more and then I'll be done with my first year of film school.

THAT will certainly require a contemplative blog post.

But now, I've got a Mix-mas mess to mop up. We'll see how the screening goes....hopefully somebody laughs.

Merry Mix-mas everyone! See you soon....

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Well, 'tis the season!

Of course, aside from the music on the radio and some lights awkwardly strung up around a palm tree, you wouldn't know it out here in La-la Land.

Indeed, if you were to check the Mark-o-meter right now I would say "Chicago-longingness" is close to an all-time high. My favorite time of year and there's no snow, no cold, no CHRISTKINDLMARKET in Daley Plaza. I guess it's all for the best, since the past week and these next few days I am immersed in a tedious, time-consuming, (seemingly) never-ending world of sound editing.

Yeah, so as I mentioned a week or so ago, we picture locked on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I'm very happy with the picture edit I locked, and since Dec 1st I have been adding a soundtrack to that picture.

Since we shot everything on old Arri S cameras that doesn't record sound we have to create all the sound that will be in the movie. That's EVERY SINGLE SOUND. The whirr of the computer, the typing on the keyboard, the car horns in the distance, the breathing through the nose...hence the tedious nature of the work.

And what gets really frustrating is that the more sounds you add, the more you feel like you need to add. At first, you see the actor walking down the hall and you think "okay, lets just put in some footsteps". Go out record the footsteps, sync them up, put the sound in. But then you watch it and you realize "well, we should hear his pants 'swooshing' as he walks. And his vest. And shouldn't the bottle he's holding in his hand make a noise? What kind of noise does a bottle even make?"

This is why it seems never ending, because life is so full of sounds, and you have to create all of them to enhance your movie. So even when you drop a bunch of sound in, someone watches it and says "You could add this sound here" and so on and so on.

However, it is really strangely satisfying when you get good sounds that truly improve the film. Plus, I have enjoyed working with a composer who is going to write a musical score that perfectly suits my film. This, I'm very excited about. Gone are the days when we'd have to edit the picture to fit a Beastie Boys song, now the music perfectly compliments the image.

My composer is from USC's special composer program, which is the only film composer program like its kind anywhere in the world. So you know these guys are good. As a friend of mine said just earlier tonight "These guys are much better and experienced composers than we are filmmakers", and I'd have to agree with him. And since I am an amazing filmmaker, you can only imagine how good these guys are.

So there's the good, the bad, and the ugly of this final stage of my film being made. Gone is the planned insanity of production and the story structuring (or restructuring) of editing. Now its just me, my movie, and a sleigh-load of sound.

We sound lock this Thursday and on Friday we have the sound mix (a fascinating process which I'll hopefully have time to write about. That is, if anyone's interested...?).

Only two weeks until I'm back in the CHI. Keep the cocoa warm, the brats hot, and your ears open.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We Gather Together....

...for turkey, futbol, and Vegas.

Okay, so I'll admit it wasn't the most traditional Thanksgiving, but I did the best I could.

Indeed, it was a bittersweet day of thanks for me. With picture lock happening just last Wednesday, plus writing assignments and sound editing on the horizon, making the flight back to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends was a regrettably unpractical thing to do.

But, in order to take my mind off the fact that I was missing mom's turkey, Grandma's sweet potatoes, and beers with old friends at Curly's in the GE, I decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner at my apt for anyone else who stayed in L.A. for the holiday.

Which means that, despite the vote of no-confidence from some friends back home, I took it upon myself to prepare the Thanksgiving turkey. And I have to say two things: 1) I'm not too shabby in the kitchen when it comes down to it, and 2) Cooking a turkey is a lot of work and pressure and I'll be happy if I never have to do it again. To all the mothers, aunts, and grandmothers out there: a tip of the cap is in order. Thanksgiving is a lot easier when all I have to do is go to the store to pick up a bag of ice and watch football all day.

And though I couldn't be home, I did enjoy bringing a lot of my classmates together and had some real fun with some of my foreign friends who were celebrating their first Thanksgiving ever. Luckily we had enough food for everyone to experience the true meaning of the holiday: eating so much that by the end of the meal you feel sick.

Man, I love America.

Indeed though, the foreign devils even got kind of into the spirit as once the food had settled an impromptu game of soccer was started on the beach. As much as I wanted to throw the pigskin around, I decided that between the palm trees outside and sushi next to the turkey, this Thanksgiving was already less-than-traditional. Besides,, who really keeps track of these things?

Indeed, the whole weekend took an even more interesting turn when a couple of my friends and my roommate decided to forget heading to the malls the day after, we were going to hit Vegas.

So we traded the twinkle of Xmas lights and crowded stores for sparkling neon lights and crowds of whores.

(Sorry, but it rhymes and there are a lot of loose women in Vegas...)

It was just a one night thing, had to get back to work on writing and get ready for these final two weeks of sound editing. But it was a nice break and a fun reward for a challenging couple of weeks. I felt a little strange about it all at first, but celebrating turkey day in 60 degree weather had already set the bar for strangeness. I'm just thanking God I won't have to make do with a California Christmas.

Speaking of my favorite time of the year, I saw Tom Skilling on WGN this morning talk about the first snow of the year. Damn, am I jealous.

Oh least I won $200 playing roulette at the Mirage!

Happy Shoveling!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For Those About to Lock.....

We Salute You!

The AC/DC homage is in reference to PICTURE LOCK, which is the glorious, stressful, liberating date in which the picture edit of my film is permanently locked in place, and will be the final cut of my film. And it's today.

Wait a minute? When we last spoke didn't you just screen the first weekend of dailies?

Yeah, yeah, it's been a while and a whole bunch of stuff has happened in the 21 days since my last post. So here's the cliff notes version.

Weekend #2 (Nov 7 - 9): First weekend at supermarket location. Mr. Derek Dion arrived to be my assistant director. Shot our big "fight scene" with the stunt coordinator and things went pretty well.

[pic 1-stunt coordinator Bill plans the fight], [pic 2-Todd and Javier: two of the best actors I've worked with], [pic 3-Derek and I watch on as my partner gets one of many low-angle shots]

Weekend #3 (Nov 14 - 15): A relatively light weekend. One night at the supermarket and shot some pick-up and insert shots at my apartment and wrapped getting the final shots on the beach in Santa Monica. Derek flew back to CHI. Had a taco wrap party. Cubs win.

[pic 1-yet another low-angle shot, while I, as the director, impart a sense of calmness to cast and crew w/ my Hawaiian shirt], [pic 2-Dion, west-coastin'], [pic 3-me, after we wrapped:Cubs Win!]
[pic 4-as cast and crew clean up, I snap a great pic from a safe distance]

Last weekend (Nov 21 - 23): editing, editing, drinking, editing.

I've got a bunch of productions still photos I'll be postin' later. For now, I am so nervous/relieved because by 1pm Pacific time my picture edit will be completed, and the only thing that will stand between me and a finished film will be hours upon hours of working on the soundtrack of the film, which involves such fun stuff as sound FX, voice recording, musical score, I don't even want to think about it.

Since picture lock is today and I knew I'd be spending crazy amounts of time in the edit lab, I sadly will not be making the trip back home for Thanksgiving. I will certainly be missing friends, family, and Apple Spice Leinenkugels at Curly's in downtown Glen Ellyn tonight. But I'll be doing my best to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive out here when I throw a turkey in the oven tmmrw. Let's hope that bird flies.

Not, literally....


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I've been waiting for today for a long time. It's been a long, hard road, and sometimes, I even questioned if I'd actually be able to see what I saw yesterday. But now, the sense of satisfaction that came from looking at that image on the screen, I tell you, there's nothing like watching the dailies from the movie you directed.

See what I did there?

Aha! I'll get to the historic events of yesterday soon enough, but first: my movie!

Yes, this past weekend we shot and turned in all our film on Sunday night. From there it goes to the lab and on Tuesday we all get to see the footage, as a class, for the first time. This is an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. If you made any errors while shooting or gave any bad direction the entire class is there to see it and critique it: yay!

However, it is also a great relief when you see your footage and discover that the exposure was by-and-large good, most (or close to all) the shots are in focus, and your film generally turned out.

That's pretty much how I felt today and which is why I began with Johnny Drama's "Viking Quest" cry of triumph. This past Sunday was a lot of work to put together and the day brought no small amount of challenges (to start, how about me forgetting to bring the film to set and having to drive all the way back to Venice before shooting even got started?), and just seeing the images come out was a definite victory.

Having said that, there are a number of things I would like to have done differently. Planning is so very, very key to having a successful shoot and getting "what we need"-which is just enough to cut the shots together so they make sense and move the story along. I need to plan more, that's for damn sure. A mountain of issues face me, and with less time to prepare since we are shooting this Friday night and the Saturday night.....from roughly 8pm to 4 am. Yikes.

Of course this leads me to another victory that occurred yesterday. And though I initially swore to keep politics off this blog, I've neglected the politics blog like George W. Bush neglected the core values of the Republican Party. Hey - oh! (sorry, but now there's only 3 more months to make W jokes).

Flashback to an icy cold winter day in 2004. I was living at my apt at 1110 Rosemont (the 2 bedroom where the "L" went by so often you didn't even notice it). One day, I was walking down Broadway and saw a sign in a window for some crazy Democrat running in the primaries named "Obama". I took one look at that sign and laughed to myself and said "I don't know who this guy is, but there is no way he's going to win in this state with a name like that."

I'm not going to say much because it will all be said tomorrow ad nauseum, but I really do hope that my many, many friends and family back in the Western Suburbs can at least recognize that the election of Barack Obama to President of the United States is a watershed moment for this country. Now, the bigger challenge is if he can deliver on all his lofty promises (my guess is.....maybe) and if he really does bring people together. But, I'd like ya'll to recognize the massive generational, cultural, and racial impact that his election will have on this great country. (And I won't even get into what it means to have a President from Chicago).....


You recognize it?


Okay, you can all go back to being mad at him for raising taxes now.

Anyway, I'm pretty pissed I couldn't be in Chicago for all this. The eyes of the world on my city and I'm watching it on TV in Venice, California. WTF?

Again, something like this only reinforces my ambition to get good enough at making movies that I can get paid for it AND good enough that I can get paid for it while doing it in Chicago. That is my dream right now: to be able to do what I wanna do while living in the city I want to live in.

Of course, that's a pretty far-fetched dream.....almost as crazy as having a black presi-

Friday, October 31, 2008


Did I scare you? If not, perhaps some torture is in order.....

-"What does a ghost do when he goes for a drive?

-He fastens his SHEET-belt!

-"Why didn't the skeleton go to the party?"

-Because he had no BODY to go with!

-"What do you call some one who poisons people's corn flakes?"

-A CEREAL killer!

Had enough? Boy, Halloween is just filled with jokes so corny they would make Chip Caray blush. Unfortunately, I won't be able to launch those babies (or hundreds others) at any sweet Halloween parties tonight, because I won't be going to any Halloween parties tonight.

Now, I'm not looking for sympathy (paging the world's smallest violin.....), but it is a little disappointing. Just between the lack of sleep and this being the first weekend of shooting, even though we aren't going til Sunday, I thought it best to stay home, get organized, watch a movie, and maybe do a little "blogging".

It's been weird, b/c usually I get so pumped for Halloween, but between the busyness for "Sunshine" and living in LA, I almost forgot about it. I mean, the leaves don't change color, there's no cold wind blowing or eerie tingle in the air, just a bunch of very out of place looking pumpkins.

It's a shame I'm not going out, because I do get the sense that despite its meteorological and geographic shortcomings, Los Angeles can do this fright night right. I mean, people out here are already pretty weird, so think about how weird they'd be on (arguably) the weirdest day of the year. Plus the whole movie industry. Part of the great fun of Halloween is the suspension of reality for a day, which is pretty much what making movies is all about. Not to mention there's all the hot women dressing even sluttier than usual. (Course, that's pretty much the case everywhere. I especially love the girls who, on a 35 degree night with wind in CHI, will still go out in their extra-skimpy Playboy bunny outfit.)

The little Halloween fun I did have was listening to Indie 103.1's Halloween-themed lineup. (Indie 103.1 is one of my top stations out here, and has helped me expand my musical horizons, which was nice, because I got SO MUCH HELP from you all.) Apparently, a bunch of artists covered all the music from "A Nightmare Before Christmas"--an awesome flick, and one of my favorites, as we'll discuss later--with an especially sweet version of This Is Halloween.

So much is fun about Halloween, and I'd love to go forward and list its many great and ghoulish aspects, but nothing I could say compares to the musings of the one and only Jerry Seinfeld.

Going back to "Nightmare", I must that it is definitely my top Halloween movie. Burton is amazing, and no matter what live action or computer animated things come along, nothing beats the fantastical yet realistic look of that crazy claymation. (Speaking of clay, remember ClayFighter, the video game for Super Nintendo and later N64? No Mortal Kombat, but I always enjoyed it).

Anyway, to wrap up, I humbly offer up my personal top Halloween movies of all time.....

5. Casper (1995)
-Hey, I know its a kids movie, but when it came out I was a kid. Just good fun: the 3 uncles have their moments, Bill Pullman is in it (that's worth something, right?), and a ridiculous cameo by Dan Akroyd remembering his Ghostbuster roots.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
-I'm not a big fan of most horror movies, but I've always liked zombies and this is THE first and (in my opinion) best of them all. Next time we're at a bar, ask me about the societal critiques that lie beneath the surface... (Other zombie faves include "28 Days Later" and "Shaun of the Dead").

3. Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstien (1948)
- I really enjoy all the old 1930's Universal monster movies and this one's got all your favorite monsters plus the comedy routine of Abbot and Costello. What more do you need?

2. Halloween (1978)
-One of the first. One of the best. It doesn't get any more Halloween-y than this film.

1. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
-Mentioned before, just amazing. The songs are great, the look is so eerie, and what a brilliant concept! The opening is just perfect and you gotta love when the kids all get freaked out by the Halloween shit under their Xmas trees.

Wow, why do I suddenly feel like a newspaper writer who was told by his editor to "fill page 5 with some Halloween movie crap"? Whatever.

Keep it creepy, Chi-town.

Friday, October 24, 2008


"Coffee is for closers!"

In that case, I'll have a mocha frappacino. With whip cream.

I know its incredibly un-manly but its the only form of coffee I find tolerable. (I like to spin it as a chocolate shake w/ coffee flavoring.....whatever: they're delicious.) But I have earned myself some coffee because I am indeed a closer. But before I spill the beans on the locale, here's the previously mentioned series of events....

As mentioned earlier, we make 2 (count 'em: 2) films this semester. So as my partner spent time on sound and getting the final product to show today (went over very well, by the way), I have busied myself in the details of pre-production. Namely, casting, script revisions, and locations.

The "logline" for my film is "an employee at a Wal-Mart type store, who is constantly berated by his perfectionist boss, gets in a fight with a customer who tries to mess up a cleaner display." It's called "Sunshine on Sale".

It's a comedy, and without sounding too Barack Obama-ish (ie: arrogant), it is pretty damn funny. However, one of the biggest issues, the issue that EVERYONE told me was going to be difficult, the issue that I knew would be tough but failed to fully grasp, was that no store that is anything like Wal-Mart would allow me to film on their location. The reason is that any store that looks like a big, corporate chain store IS a big, corporate chain store and that means there's enough red tape to allow a film student to hang himself with.

So I was faced with a dilemma: how could a make a film that attempts to satirize big box stores without being able to film in a big box store?

It started with me trying to find a Wal-Mart type store that would let me film in it, but the corporate hierarchy proved too challenging a foe . Ever step of the way was like in "Office Space": IS THIS GOOD FOR THE COMPANY?

As I got increasingly frustrated with the locations game, I was slowly entertaining the idea of attempting to build an aisle on a set and film there. That would allow me total control and allow me to have exactly what I wanted. I heard that some classmates were going to try and go in on a stage space where we could each build our own sets and I hopped on board with the whole "building a aisle" idea.

We attempted to find space to build and shoot in all around L.A., but the best option turned out to be a warehouse, owned by a very shady fellow named "Chester". Apparently, this guy owns this giant, rather decrepit, warehouse and rents it out to "rave parties" and the occasional film students.

Well, long story short, I decided the whole "Chester-warehouse" deal wasn't right for me (oh really? what a surprise!) and was forced to hit the locations trail again, this time harder than ever. Success came by the middle of this week when I found a Mexican supermarket with a really cool manager named Hector. By Thursday, we came to an agreement and I now have the paperwork to prove it ("Cause only one thing counts in this life: GET THEM TO SIGN ON THE LINE THAT IS DOTTED!"). Closed it, muthaf*****!

So luckily, I was able to breathe a bit easier this weekend and turn my attention to more important matters of planning, like having my production designer create a fake logo and sign for my fake store: "Cost-Mart".

Get it? Ha ha ha ...ehhh.

Whatever. We got to watch all the movies on the big screen at USC today and it was a blast. There was drinking and all the filmmakers gave little speeches and everyone got to see their film play to a large audience. It was really cool and only re-energized me to make sure I've got a damn good movie up their when my time comes.

Speaking of "my time", I will have my movie on the big screen at USC on December 14th, so if any of y'all have been maybe thinking about a trip to L.A., why not make a weekend out of it?

C'mon, I'll even take you to all the shady dive bars I go to that remind me of Chicago....

Well, mull it over. Would make a nice mid-Dec getaway.

On the weather, I have to say one thing (and I know my whining will fall on deaf ears, as it has in the past, and always will) but this weather is really boring and annoying. Sunny and 77. Sunny and 76. Sunny and 71. Early clouds, then sunny and 77......I cannot wait to be back in a town with some real weather: windy, rainy, snowy, unseasonable warm, windy, sleety, snowy, windy Chicago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Locations, Locations, Locations!!!

Going to keep this short b/c I'm tired and trying to get more than the "standard six" hours of sleep tonight.

[For those who don't know my sleep classification system it goes...]

-The Too-Much Ten
-The Niiiiiice Nine
-The Ideal Eight
-The So-So Seven
-The Standard Six
-The Failure Five
-The WTF Four
-The Big Trouble Three
-The Stupid Two
-The "Why?" One

[Feel free to debate these at your leisure, but I believe it holds up pretty well]

Anyway, I am in the throes of pre-production for my movie. (My partner is doing the final sound editing on her film, the 1965 lynching piece, and it goes on the Big Screen at USC this Saturday).

I, meanwhile, have taken it on the chin recently, and have failed to land a location to film my movie in (which, happily enough, starts shooting in less than two weeks!). It's a long story--one that I won't get into now--but it includes the corporatization of America, a questionable deal with a shady warehouse-owner named 'Chester', and my own inexperience and naivete seeming to rival that of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama combined.

Hopefully, I'll have everything sorted out soon and will be able to recount the last week or so in more detail. In the meantime, congrats to my best friend Nick for his popping the question to Kelly (and, can you believe it, she said "yes?), kudos to Kyle Orton for giving the Bears a fightin' chance in the sloppy NFC North, and I ask all of you to make a sacraficial offering to the gods of pre-production, so that they may grant me the guidance and negotiating skills to land a supermarket to film in.

Hope y'all be enjoying the fall, becuase it hasn't quite gotten here yet.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why every morning I flip to the last page of Section E...

This "Peanuts" strip was in the L.A. Times a few days ago and I believe it sums up the feelings of baseball fans all over Chicago:


Hopefully, I'll be done mourning soon and we can get back to talking about movies and making fun of Holly-weird...

Sunday, October 5, 2008


[Editor's note: Today's blog has its own soundtrack! Just click the link in a separate window!]

Time is on my side, yes it it.......
Time is on my side, yes it is......

Usually I leave the Cubs blogging to the professionals, only occasionally throwing in a pithy comment when the team from the Northside does something especially worth noting. But these last 5 days (that's all it was!) require some deeper probing, as a performance like that will send even the truest of Cubs' fans into a period of great soul searching.

Now you always say
That you want to be free
But you'll come running back, You'll come running back,
You'll come running back to me.......

After looking at the stats, and trying to wrap one's head around the deafening silence of the Cubs' bats, it feels like this is all some big, cruel joke: Okay, Cubs fans, we're going to give you a great offensive lineup, solid pitching, and a more-often-than-not dependable bullpen. The Cubs will play some of the best baseball they've played in DECADES. You'll have solid veterans, a rookie of the year winner, 8 All-Stars, clutch performances in big series, 97 wins, and a no-hitter......

And then you'll score 6 runs in three games, commit 4 errors, and get swept by the team that, if not in the NL West, wouldn't have even been in the wild-card race!


Time is on my side, yes it is........

Time is on my side, yes it is.......

100 years. Now, it seems impossible. It all seems so incredibly frustrating because everyone saw stars and planets aligning. I, myself, felt like this was a season custom-built for me as a fan. The Cubs were going to clinch the NLDS in LA! I bought tickets! I was going to go back to Chicago to see a World Series game in Wrigley Field!

Hell, this summer I even wrote a feature length script in which the protagonist has to road trip his way to Chicago in order to see the Cubs play in the World Series. It was going to get optioned by the NLCS and greenlit the same day the Cubs won it all!

You'll come running back, you'll come running back,

You'll come running back to me.........

The worst part is where do we go now? ("Soldier Field?" - please, lets not give up on one impossible dream just to follow some Polish-sausage induced hallucination) But, really, WHAT IN THE HELL DO WE DO NOW? When one of the best Cubs' teams in decades cant even win a game in the first round of the playoffs, what is the battle plan? How do we go on?

Time is on my side, yes it is..........

Time is on my side, yes it is..........

I'm putting all my Cubs t-shirts in a box. Sticking the old '03 cap on the highest hat hook, and doing my best to cover and/or ignore the innumerable amount of Cubs memorabilia that litters my home and car. I'm forgetting about Wrigley, ivy, Old Style, and "Go, Cubs, Go" (although there is another Steve Goodman song I've found myself listening to quite a bit these past days...).

It's time to focus on making movies and writing new non-Cubs scripts and the election and the NFL and the Bears (damn, I can't help it) and 2016 Olympics and Oscar season and great TV shows and Thanksgiving and Christmas and puppies and candy and EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING NOT RELATED TO THE CHICAGO CUBS!!!!!

'Cause I got the real love

The kind that you need

You'll come running back (said you would, baby)

You'll come running back (I always said you would)

You'll come running back, to me

Of course, those diversions will only last so long. As the seasons turn and the holidays come and go and the Bears falter in the playoffs and the winter becomes long and cold and we begin to yearn for sunshine and cold beer and peanuts that same, old, beautiful feeling will be felt once again.

Small at first, and generally still filled with cynicism as fans flock to the Chicago Hilton, it will grow and grow as reports start coming in from Mesa, and once again I will fall in love only to get hurt again. And again. And again.

It's a horrible cycle, but what else can I do? The Red Sox won it. Those guys on 35th street won it. It's just a matter of good baseball. Besides, this cycle can't go on forever.

Can it?

Yes time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is

Oh, time,
time, time is on my side, yes it is I said, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Oh, time, time, time is on my side
Yeah, time, time, time is on my side

Monday, September 22, 2008

"I'll Meet You at The Station"

Sorry it's been awhile, but I've been wading though some busy times. And hey: lots of exciting stuff going on.

First and foremost, big night this week as "The Station"--the independent pilot that Rob, Russ and I shot in Chicago last fall-- is having its official "world premiere" at the Naperville Independent Film Festival this week.

For those who haven't seen it, "The Station" showcases "three young men as they attempt to get a piece of the action in the bustling landscape of Chicago. One's a trust-fund millionaire, one's a womanizer, and one was born to play in the X-Games. They share a condo and a bond as friends while they help, and hurt, each others' chances for success".

And no, I didn't just pull that from the back of the DVD. Please.

But here's a few of the top "screen grabs" from the pilot.

So this Thursday, September 25th, The Station will be screening twice (at 12 noon and at 9:45pm) at The Comedy Shrine in downtown Naperville. It's right by Jimmy's Grill and the Barnes and Nobel.

Plus, there's going to be a pre-game party at Heaven on Seven for the 9:45pm show, and if any of y'all want in lemme know (or talk to my Dad or Russ) to get the details. Nothing like mixing hurricanes and hilarity. It's funny that the party will at an establishment known for its gumbo, for reasons that only me, Rob and De Lara would know. Ask me sometime what gumbo has to do with the Station and I'll tell you the tale.

In other awesome news, how bout the 2008 NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS!!!!!

Man, do I wish I could have been in Chicago this past week. First for Big Z's no-hitter (instead of being one the 23,441 fans in Miller Park, I enjoyed it as an audience of one on my computer thanks to MLB.TV) and then for the clincher this weekend. On Saturday I was helping a friend shoot in downtown L.A., following the game closely on my cell, and was able to sneak away to a near-empty Irish bar and to catch Kerry Wood making the final 3 outs. The sound wasn't on, but I made my presence known by treating the 3 other patrons to Van Halen's "Jump" (for some reason, "Go Cubs Go" wasn't in the jukebox).

Now I am furiously rooting for the Brew-Crew and the Dodgers in hopes of achieving a Cubs-Dodger NLDS. The Cubs can help make that happen by chalking up some wins in Shea Stadium this week. (BTW: Really enjoyed the coverage of the last game at Yankee Stadium, made me really glad I got to catch a game there back in '06. I doubt anyone will shed a tear for the demolition of that crap-hole in Queens).

Indeed, between the special things happening on the Northside and the screening this Thursday (plus, a certain someone's upcoming birthday will be celebrated in the midst of an extremely busy shooting weekend) it makes me really pine to be back in CHI with family, friends, and changing seasons. But, making movies is really what I want to do with my life, and the more I wish I was back in Chicago, the tougher my resolve becomes to really "make it" and start getting paid to write and produce movies so I can move back to the city I love.

Anyway, hate to leave on such a sappy note, but it's business time.

So, enjoy the Cubbies, $#@% the Mets, Go Dodgers and Brewers, and I'll meet you at the Station.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Get Ready, Cuz this Shit's About to Get Heavy

So fitting it is that "Entourage" is back the week that I begin filming the first project of the semester. It will be a welcome way to cap off the weekends, which will be busy as all hell once the light hits the film. For those who don't know, here's what the line-up card is like for me this semester.

So the class we're taking this semester is called "508". Exciting name, eh? But its worth noting since it is part of my lexicon for the next 4 months, ie: "I'm working on my 508", "I need some undergrads to crew my 508", or "have you heard of this new bitch in town, called 508. I heard she f*cks everyone over and doesn't give a f*ck." (That last one is a direct quote from a classmate).

In 508, you work in a partnership, and make two movies. In the first half of the semester, Partner A writes, directs, and sound edits their project, while Partner B does the camerawork and picture editing. In the second half of the semester, they swap roles. I am a Partner B, which means I won't be doing any directing until mid-October.

So in the meantime I'm going to be the director of photography (meaning I operate the camera and put up the lights). The film we're shooting is about a black student getting lynched by some white guys in Los Angeles in 1965.

"So, it's a comedy, right?"

Yeah.....No, but I'm actually pretty excited about it because I think the film is getting into some pretty compelling and important territory, plus its a great opportunity to work with characters and subject matter that I probably wouldn't otherwise. Of course, it does propose some challenges. Really big challenges, actually.

Let's forget about the fact that we want to get permission from USC to stage a lynching on campus. Just....forget that part. Instead, a very quick lesson about film. I mean filmy film (not video), the type that real movies are shot on in 35mm or the type that we will be using, 16mm, to shoot our projects. Film gets an image imprinted on it because of light. Now, when a film strip is passing thru a camera lens at 24 frames per second (fps), it requires a HUGE amount of light to make an imprint in that 1/24th of a second. That light is the light that reflects off a subject and makes an image on the film. That's how movies get made, and that's why movie sets have tons of huge lights.

Why am I lecturing the readership on how film works? Well, because I am in charge of shooting a low-to-no budget student film that takes place almost entirely at NIGHT, with a predominantly BLACK cast. Dark skin reflects less light than light skin, meaning that we are going to need more lights than Dodger Stadium to get a decent image.

Okay, it's not that bad, but it is still going to be an incredible challenge to make sure everyone is properly exposed, and to make sure we don't overdo the lighting that could overexpose the white actors who will also be onscreen at times.

Sorry to get so technical, but I just wanted to give a little insight as to what I'll be up to the next couple of weekends, and prep you so that if you see footage of me on CNN walking along the 10 freeway with a construction cone on my head and a lightmeter in my hand muttering "Footcandles, I need more FOOTCANDLES!", you'll know why.

Anyway, that's the brunt of the story from out here for now. In other news, I'm pumped b/c some cast and crew of the show MAD MEN (which I've mentioned in previous blogs) are coming to USC Monday night. Matthew Wiener, the show's creator and previous Soprano's producer/scribe (and former USC student) will be headlining the evening.

That's about it, except that I don't know what the hell is happening on the Northside but can Lou please get this team back on track? The Dodgers just inched back into 1st place after winning 8 in a row and I'll be damned if there's going to be a Brewers-Dodgers NLDS here in L.A. Glad to see the Bears win, though. Stupid Colts fans (even though the new stadium looks awesome).

That reminds me, don't forget to lower your flags to half-staff tomorrow, as the nation is in mourning for Tom Brady's knee.


Friday, August 29, 2008


With the new semester getting underway, and a crazy couple of months on the horizon, I'm proud to introduce the first of a handful of changes to the blog. There's some tabs on the side that list other websites and there may be more little things like that on the way.

Also, I recently discovered a function that can email the blog to a reader every time there's a new post. It only allows for a few emails to get out, though, so email me soon [] if you want to be on that list.

More features and things like that are coming, so stay tuned.

Another change for the blog comes as I have made a very bold, very rash, almost McCain-esque decision to no longer ruminate and ramble on the events, candidates, or coverage of the 2008 election.

You may ask, what? Is Mark running from a fight? He can't stand the heat, and wants out of the kitchen?

Far from it. Like when any good argument fueled by ideology and whiskey gets to a certain level of intensity, men like to "take it outside". (Or at least, that's what I've heard, having never actually been in a bar fight). So I have decided to start ANOTHER blog, dedicated solely to the discussion of all things politics.

It's incredibly presumptive and elitist of me to think that any of you would have an interest in two blogs, but I guess the supporter's arrogant apple doesn't fall far from the candidate's tree. Its just that there's so much I'd like to say about what's going on politically but really want this blog to cover three things: my experience at USC, my experience as a Chicagoan living in Los Angeles, and the Chicago Cubs (who now sport their best record since 1945, the last year they made it to the World Series).

Besides, I won't be penning all the posts on my own. To keep things equal (or, if you must: "fair and balanced") I've invited a second contributor who displays his John McCain bumper sticker as proudly as I sport my Obama-Biden car magnet.

I won't say exactly who it is, but he's a lifelong friend, a stone cold conservative, and is responsible for some comment posts that rival Joe Biden in terms of length (but certainly not content).

[And, if anyone else out there fancies themselves a keen political mind, let me know (email above) and you too can contribute to the endless stream of self-important noise clogging the internet!]

The blog draws its name from the climax of a very close, very exciting, election that occurred 60 years ago (and caused a certain major metropolitan newspaper to have no small amount of egg on its face). For the inaugural post, I've decided to chat a bit about the coverage of things so far.

So keep a head's up for more changes, let me know if you want this emailed to you, expect a post soon about my first week of classes, and enjoy the first (and hopefully not the last) post on the all new, politically charged blog....


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Big "O"

Don't worry, I'm not here to talk about the junior Senator from Illinois (but would he pick a VP already? McCain, too. These "veepstakes" has been about as exciting as a lecture about the merits of watching paint dry). 
No, I'm talking about the big "O" that has been populating the networks of NBC the past two weeks, and has taught America to develop a "Phelps Fetish", find a smoggier city than Los Angeles, and continue to find Tiki Barber annoying. 

It's the Olympics!

Now, unfortunately, I haven't been able to watch as much of the games as I'd like. It is great that many of the games are on really late: nothing like a bar full of guys watching 15-year old Chinese gymnasts at 1 in the morning.....
But the real underlying excitement for these games, at least from my perspective, is the "in-the-back-of-the-mind" thoughts about how great a certain city would be at hosting these very same Olympic games, approximately eight years from now.

That's right gang, it's time to get excited about CHICAGO 2016.

Now I think everyone is on the bus, but for those who aren't, let's picture how awesome this would be:
For two weeks (really, more than that) the eyes of the world would be upon our glittering skyline, the clocks of all nations would ignore Greenwich Mean and set their second-hands to the tick of Central Standard, the bars of our fair city would be populated with athletic, competitive young females from around the world, and would probably love to find some "American Boy" to show them around the city... 
Okay, probably not. But cute international girls are only one argument for why the 2016 Olympic torch should find its final destination in the Windy City. Infrastructure overhauls, international business attention, and a golden opportunity to revitalize the South Side are just a few more reasons we need to get behind this thing. 
And if anyone out there says anything like "oh my god, imagine the traffic" or "it's a waste of money" or "hey, I like Tiki Barber", well, you just sound stupid. And lame. 
Because cities hold Olympic for many reasons. Sometimes its because they want to move from obscurity to the world stage (Barcelona-1992, Los Angeles-1932), sometimes its because they want to show the world "Hey, we're not evil" (Berlin-1936, Beijing-2008) and sometimes its because someone lost a bar bet (Atlanta-1996). But Chicago 2016 would be more than that. It would be an opportunity for our city and our country to define the next century, much like Chicago did in 1893 with the World's Columbian Exposition.
For those who don't know about the 1893 World's Fair (first, Wikipedia it), then know that it was arguably the greatest feat ever accomplished by any city. It defined Chicago as the "Second City" that rose out of the ashes of the fire in 1871, and framed America as the world's leader in industry, ingenuity, and innovation. 

Now, I'm not saying that the Olympics would necessarily do all that, but in an America that is frighteningly fractured, and doesn't seem to have gotten together on anything since September 11th, wouldn't it be nice to put the flags out and get all "America: F#ck yeah!" again without there being a terrorist attack?
And wouldn't it be nice for Chicago, who, like in 1893, is setting new standards of architecture and urban planning, to be the showcase for what America is going to be in the next 100 years?

Plus, let's not forget about those sexy ladies of the Olympics. They can...

a) ...handle my javelin...
b)...bump, set, and spike me...
c)...smack my shuttlecock...
d)...mount my balance beam...


PS: Have any more sexually suggestive Olympic phrases? We need more! Send them to:

61 OZONE AVE, Suite #004
VENICE, CA 90291

Saturday, August 9, 2008

How 'Bout A Beer?

Well, it's been a few days since my long weekend (does six days classify as a "long weekend"?) trip to sweet home Chicago. Much fun was had: saw the Cubs beat the Pirates, Raged Against the Machine at Lolla, and spent some great times with friends and family.

Plus, its fair to say I had a drink or two. Maybe three.

Okay, so actually visited some local establishments: Hawkeye's, Joe's Be-Bop Cafe & Jazz Emporium, Butch McGuire's, Red Ivy, Easy Bar, Carol's Pub, The Dark Horse Tap and Grille, Central, the Old Town Ale House, Hawkeye's (again), and the Berghoff Cafe O'Hare Airport, to name a few.

Actually, that list comprises (to the best of my recollection) every location in Chicago I enjoyed a refreshing beverage of an alcoholic nature. While the list is not too impressive, I think my memory is. I'm sharing that list and posted some pics above because I wanted to say a few things about beers and bars.

One of the things about movin' out here that upset me - and continues to do so to this day, and probably will continue to in the future - is the bar scene in Los Angeles, or the lack there of. It's a fact that Chicago has more bars, and more bar-heavy neighborhoods than LA if you look at this chart from 2005, which Los Angeles is not even on. (Pretty embarrassing for a major city like LA, especially when Champaign, IL made the list).

Not to say that there's nowhere to have a good time or get a drink, but it's just not the same. The sprawling, car-driven nature of this city forces one to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum and makes the in-the-middle-of-the-street-hailing-a-cab-argument about what the next destination is a distant memory.

Plus, the typical laid-back Chicago bar where you've got beer on tap, sports on TV, and a guy in a t-shirt checkin' your ID is very hard to find in LA. Most places out here are clubs or bars that act like clubs, with large men in suits checkin' IDs and you can forget about getting an Old Style.

Another painful slap in the face when it comes to LA's ambivalence or outright belligerence of drinking culture is the 2 AM closing time. Citywide. Meaning, if you want a drink after 2 am in the city of LA you best go home, open your fridge and crack open a Pacifico.

The basic play-by-play of what happens at a typical bar in LA between 1am-2am is as follows:
1:15am - The bartender loudly calls "last call"
1:16am - You look at your watch in disbelief
1:22am - You finally get to the bar, get one last Miller Lite, and close the tab
1:30am - They turn on the lights
1:40am - A guy comes by and tells you its time to head for the door. You ignore him.
1:46am - A much larger guy comes and tells you to head to the door. You try to ignore him but then make up a BS story about waiting for a friend in the bathroom.
1:50am - The large man tells you again to leave. You plead with him to let you finish your beer.
1:52am- The beer is done, the bar is empty, and the large man is still near.
1:59am- The large man follows you and your friends to the door.
2:00am - As you spill onto the street the large man LOCKS the door behind you.

It's very frustrating at that point because you just stand around, all boozed up and no place to go. I don't know why the city is the way it is. The 2am call is probably to cut down on drunk driving, which I'm sure it does. The sprawl also makes it more of a chore to go bar-hopping. In Chicago one could expect to visit two to five bars in one night. In LA, its usually just one bar, maybe two; rarely three.

Now after reading all this I'm probably coming off as some red-nosed hiccuping souse who should really dry off. But as the pics above and my own experiences suggest, having a few (or more than a few) beers at a bar are a part of life. Going to a bar is such a fun, fantastic release filled with music, sports on TV, good friends, good drinks, and maybe a cute little something at that table who, it turns out, "has a boyfriend". Oh, really? Well where is he? He must not be a fun guy, leaving his girlfriend by herself on a Saturday night!

Sorry. Off-topic.

But I really do miss the bustling bars and taverns of the City of Big Shoulders. They are relaxed and fun and you never know who you might bump into. I will say I am very happy that a few of my good friends at USC share my love of the sauce and a good old fashioned beer and whiskey bar. The "Boozers" keep the Chicago drinkin' spirit alive out here on the west coast. And, like I said earlier, this place is not entirely devoid of bars and many a good time has been had and will be had in the establishments of the City of Angles. (I'm thinking I may blog a bit 'bout a few of my favorite bars in LA in the future).

In the meantime, enjoy all the taverns, pubs, ale houses, taps, bars, saloons and beer-halls that the Windy City has to offer (especially the late-night ones). I'll be joining y'all for a cold one soon enough, after the semester most likely. I'm going to get myself to be more focused and serious about what I;m doing here, and not allow myself to get distracted. But first...

how bout a beer?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No, Seriously: Is Mark Still Alive?

Yes, I'm fine. Just experienced the first California earthquake. It was a 5.8 (I don't know what that means) and my souvenir baseballs didn't even fall off the shelf. The bobbleheads definitely got a workout though.

Funny thing is, there's some guys doing work on the patio area, so for a minute, I wasn't even sure it was an earthquake. I kind of poked my head out the window and was like" Was that you guys....or..?" and they assured me that no, their sledgehammer had not caused the entire building to shake. What do I know? Chicago doesn't have earthqu-, oh yeah.

Of course today's events are nothing compare to the seismic activity that could go down in Milwaukee the next 3 days. Let's go Cubs! (unless of course anyone was hurt or killed in the quake. That'd suck)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is Mark Still Alive?

Well, we haven't done this in a while, have we? Have I been on the DL with Kerry Wood cuz of a "blister"? Or, thought that since I'd moved to Venice I'd "gone soft": started sitting on the beach all day.... smoking maryjane...... cruisin' the waves.... drawing caricatures of tourists for $15 a pop..... no direction, no ambition, just......whatever: it's sunny today.

That's actually exactly what I've been doing. Lot of money in that caricature job. Spent some time as a living statue, too.

Naw, I'm screwing with you. I've just been writing. Not the blog, obviously. But scripts and stuff. A little comedy material. Some other musings. That's what's great about characterizing yourself as a "writer" - you can pretty much B.S. how much actual time you spent on something and no one is the wiser.

"Mark, what'd you do all summer?"

"Spent my time writing."

"Oh, cool. Can I see-?"

"Nope. Not quite done yet."


Yeah. Now I just need to get paid for that.

But I have admittedly been taking it easy, but with one whirlwind of a fall on the horizon, I've decided there's nothing wrong with cruising in neutral for a few miles (especially considering today's gas prices).

Of course, I have spent some time getting settled into my new place which took longer than I thought. It's a pretty old unit so things (like getting a washer/dryer) took a little while, plus there's, like, this beach that's not too far. So that's been something. But I've got some pictures of the new pad.

The kitchen. If the stove looks familiar, it's probably because you've seen it in the 1960 kitchen of Donald Draper from AMC's hit show MAD MEN. Yes, that is my actual stove, and yes, it's been around since before the Nixon era. But it works like a charm! (so I'm told. Haven't 'cooked' anything yet)

The other half of the kitchen, which I have tried like hell to make it look more like a Chicago sports bar than anything else.

Couches. As you would assume, they face the TV. I like this room.

My bedroom's kind of funny. It's pretty damn big, and it's got that crazy alcove area where I stuck my bed. The whole place is kind of funny and quirky like that, I think it might be haunted, too.

And finally, tough to tell from this nite-time pic, but I've got a cool little yard area. Chairs, a table, and a grill will soon be out there. Perfect for smoking cigars.

And before I wrap up, there's another little issue that we need to talk about. Last time I posted and described my desire to hear from everyone who reads this thing about their personal favorite music tastes. Not anything crucial, but I thought it'd be cool to know what everyone listens to.

Little did I realize that pretty much NOBODY who reads the blog has ever enjoyed listening to music. Ever. At least, that's what I have to assume since the responses I got to that post were less than overwhelming.

Listen y'all, this blog has got to be a kind of two-way street if I'm going to keep pumping it out during my next semester. I love writing it, but I'd like to know that people are reading it. And I'd like to know what people are up to outside of what their facebook status says. To those who have left comments: you already know that you're cool and can ignore the rest of this. Thanks and peace out. Others, have been less willing to talk.

In fact, the only time this thing gets peppered with comments is when I happen to mention a certain senator from Illinois who is running for a certain office of some prestige.

So here's the deal: if you read a post, drop a comment every now and then. Doesn't have to be anything special, it can even be anonymous. Just write "Cubs in '08!" or say "hi" or anything.

And if all you cool people don't leave me a comment or two each week, I won't quit writing this, but I'll turn it into a Barack Obama fan site.

All Obama. All the time.

I know a lot of you wouldn't like that too much. (((cough, John, Bill, dad)))

I'm going to get back to writing this on a once or twice a week basis in August, and I'd like to open the lines of communication a bit more. I'm not saying a comment every week. But just let me know you're out there. If you don't, you'll have to deal with THIS:


(plus, didja hear he might be Muslim?)

That's my 'shot across the bow'. Just lemme know you're out there and everything will be fine.

I'll be back in CHI July 30. Hopefully see ya.

CUBS IN '08!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

From Sea to Shining Sea

Happy belated 4th of July to all. Here's a photo from one of this country's shining seas.

But that pic's not of just any beach, because that particular stretch of sand is just a short walk away from my new apartment.

He shoots....... he scores!!!!

Yeah, I've had a long and annoying time trying to land a new address. It's been especially frustrating b/c its kept me from focusing on other things like summer internships or working on next semester's scripts. But, at long last, signed the lease just a few days from my move-out date of June 30th. And boy, was this worth the wait.

No pics yet b/c I'm still cleaning stuff up and moving in. But it's pretty great. And it follows the three rules of real estate. 1. LOCATION (walking distance to the beach) 2. LOCATION (walking distance to bars and restaurants) a-a-a-a-a-a-a-and: 3. LOCATION (close to the freeway to go to USC).

The commute to USC isn't too bad. About 20 mins most of the time, significantly more during rush hours. I don't mind too much, especially since some other classmates live out this way and some sort of pooling of cars may be in the works if gas stays in the stratosphere.

(BTW: Great clip from the Daily Show about gas prices, about 2:50 in)

Besides, I got used to driving to school back at the Academy. Benet, that is.

I'm thinking it'd be a good time to expand my music-type knowledge. When it comes to really knowing music, I'm about as lost as the characters on LOST.

(BTW again, Am I the only one who totally thought that the bloodthirsty mercenary Keamy looked like a juiced up Derek Jeter?)

Wow, that's getting off track. Anyway, the point is that I'm going to be buying some new CDs over the next couple of weeks but I don't know what to buy. This is time for a little audience participation.

If y'all could be so kind, please post any music recommendations. A great band, a great album. A great album from a great band, whatever. The whole gammut here to, from Beethoven to Bono, Gershwin to Green Day, Elvis Presley to Lupe Fiasco. Lay it all down.

Unless, of course, you have terrible taste in music. Then don't post anything, you'll just embarrass yourself.

Wish I could write more but I've got an apartment to clean and a coastline to jog up. More later. Also, one thing I did miss out on on the 4th of July was watching one of my personal favorite films of all time: Independence Day. Joey txtd me about a ID4 marathon on Fox Movie Channel, which my cable package sadly does not have. Anyway, Will Smith said it best:

"Elvis has left the building!"

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Saw My Name on the BIG SCREEN at the LA Film Festival

Yep, that's right. Didn't even take that long, did it? It's official: I've made it. I own this town...yada, yada, yada.

Ok, that's a bit much. But I did get to see the name "Mark Kosin" on a real movie screen for a real movie that was really playing at the LA Film Festival. Really.

The movie is The Poker House, and I was a production assistant for this particular film for a couple of days in May 2007 when they were filming in the very unspectacular Lemont, IL. The Poker House is directed by Lori Petty, who also co-wrote it along with David Alan Grier. [If you're having flashbacks of OJ's Bronco chase and striking baseball players, then you're probably remembering that the last time these names were heard together (or heard at all) was when they co-stared in the 1994 Pauly Shore vehicle In the Army Now].

The Poker House was the first (and only) "real" movie that I have PA'd on. I honestly didn't think I'd ever hear of it again but lo and behold, it was showing three times at the LA film Festival. I figured that I owed it to myself to check it out and that I did, and was happy to see my name scroll on down near the very end of the credits under the listing "production intern" (on account of I didn't get paid: also notice the lack of credit on IMDB).

The movie was .....meh.......OK. The acting was top-notch, especially from the young female lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, and Selma Blair was good as her drugged-up whore mother. Kind of overly dark while a bit too hokey. But it was still a grand time, and proved that my handful of Saturdays in May were not in vain.

Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Cubs SWEEP THE WHITE SOX at Wrigley Field last weekend. Since it was an AL team it's not that big a deal that we SWEPT them, certainly not as important as if we'd SWEPT the Cardinals. But any SWEEP is a good SWEEP.


[Side note: As I watched the ESPN broadcast of the Sunday Night game where the Cubs completed their SWEEP, Joe Morgan proved again that he is either an anti-Cubs biased hack or a complete idiot or both when he said that the basket on the outfield wall is called "Banks' Boulevard" because Ernie Banks used to hit a lot of HRs there. That's just wrong, and when a color commentator consistently makes such moronic statements that undermine a great player like good ole' #14 then said commentator should be fired after being smacked over the head with a large snow shovel, a la the ending of Home Alone. For more outrage I recommend Bleed Cubbie Blue, and there's also a wonderful website called FIREJOEMORGAN.COM]

We'll see what happens this weekend down at US Cellmisky Park. I do love the City Series, or the Crosstown Classic, or the 'L' Series or whatever people like to call it. It's the best and I am really jealous of everyone who can experience it first hand in Chicago.

Also happy to hear about Derrick Rose. I haven't heard all the pro-Rose chatter that is supposedly goin on in CHI but I'm giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Yea, go Bulls...

I signed a lease on a new apartment, but I'm saving that for a post to be named later.

Oh, and it was sad to see George Carlin go. He was brilliant when it came to ripping apart bullshit and I will leave the last words for him:


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Photo de la Festival de Cannes!

This took much longer than it should have b/c of a caustic mix of busyness and laziness. Anyway, if anyone's interested, here's some choice photos from Cannes. First is the red carpet entrance to the Lumiere Theater (where the big, black-tie premieres happen.)

Above is the Carlton, one of the many huge luxury hotels along the beach, decked out in movie-promotion-mania.

Below: The Mediterranean, a block or two from our hotel (which was a 30 min walk or 5 min drive to the Lumiere Theater.

Indy-fever: the front of the Carlton hotel and fans outside for the Indiana Jones premiere, many were wearing these terrible "Indiana Jones"-hats that looked like a 5-year-old's cowboy costume.

Below: Mike Tyson at the premiere of "Tyson"

Above: The incredibly stylish terminal at Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris before boarding the plane to sweet home Chicago.

Below: We were waiting around in front of the carpet to hit the town for the night. I decided to light up a cigar and it turned out to be quite the photo-op.

Something also worth a look, if you're really feeling French, is this short film that some of the guys on the trip made at the hotel (regrettably, I had had virtually nothing to do with the making of this) . It's kind of the product of an inside joke, but I think it perfectly sums up French people. It's called "Bonjour".

Coming soon, an update for LA Apartment Search 2008! (hopefully)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

I hate to depart from the usual fare of quirky jokes about Los Angeles and regurgitated opinions about the Chicago Cubs, but I have to spend some time remembering one of my favorite people to watch on TV: Tim Russert.


Tim Russert's display of those three words on his dry-erase board to underscore the importance of winning that state to the 2000 election is a moment that most Americans remember him for, and I am no exception. I didn't really follow the goings-on of DC until the 2000 election and when Russert correctly predicted the huge role that the Sunshine State played in the contest I got it in my head - "Hey, this guy seems to know what he's talking about."

He was probably the #1 guy I tuned in to see from 2000 'til now to learn the latest from our nation's capitol. In 2004, "Meet the Press" was a necessity every Sunday morning. [Even if I was hungover as hell, I remember setting the alarm for 9:58am, sitting up to turn on the TV, and then collapsing back into the bed just so I could listen to those beautiful horns bust out MTP's theme and Tim's voice come in to say "Our issues this Sunday..."]

Meet the Press was the perfect show for Sunday morning. There was never a lot of noise, or graphics, or news crawls at the bottom of the screen--just Russert making politicians squirm by forcing them to answer for a quote they made a couple of years ago that totally contradicted their current position.

As a contributor on NBC and MSNBC he was brilliant. He knew so much about what was going on but could explain it simply enough for most Americans to understand. You gotta love a guy who was so smart and focused but still came off incredibly down to earth. And his undying love for a sports team with a woeful history of losing (the Buffalo Bills) was something that I could especially identify with. Election 2008 has been such an awesome ride already, and it really makes me sad that he won't be there to see this thing go all the way to November.

There's a lot more I could say but I'll give it a rest. I highly recommend checking out some of retrospectives on NBC. Tim Russert was to political coverage what Jordan was to basketball. The Best. Just look at him hit hard against a Clinton official. And trip up McCain. And take it to Obama.

Things just won't be the same without that dammed dry-erase board.