What I Learned on YOMYOMF This Week – December 26, 2010 – January 1, 2011

Shit, that’s momentous if I may say so myself.  We’ve had editions that crossed over between months before, but never one that crossed over between YEARS.  I think it’s pretty impressive.

But you probably don’t care.  In fact, you probably just scrolled right past this block of text while you were looking for an article with a sexy picture.  Actually, I’m nearly 100% certain that I could type whatever I want here and it would go right over your head, yeah?

We had otter for our Christmas dinner last week.  It was pretty adorable before my uncle started prepping for the meal.  It was one of those smooth-coated types.  I mean, it feels all gross and slippery in your hands and you’d think that it would have a texture that’s all rubbery-like in your mouth, but if you fry it, it actually provides a great contrast to the crunchiness.

Yummers.  So this last week of 2010, the best writers on the Internet (that’s not up for discussion) are penning pieces about the dynamics of school reunions; the function of girl-on-girl scenes in particular genres of film; and the one must-have piece of bling-bling for this season.

You honestly can’t miss it.

My Blue New Year’s Eve

My New Year’s Eve plans were all laid out: My friend Hally flies in from Hong Kong (where she lives) to Los Angeles (where I live) on New Year’s Eve afternoon. I pick her up from the airport, we grab dinner at In-N-Out (so she can satisfy her craving for an animal-style burger), drink lots of scotch, catch up on our lives and ring in the new year with Dick Clark or Ryan Seacrest or whoever is the least annoying. Just the two of us. A nice, intimate celebration, just the way we wanted.

But as is so often the case even with the best laid plans of mice and men, shit happens. I woke up yesterday to an email from Hally saying she wouldn’t be able to make it to L.A. after all.

See, Hally is a flight attendant. That’s how we met—a few years ago, on a flight from Asia to the U.S. I was returning home from a conference and she was one of the flight attendants and we had somehow gotten to talking about food. The conversation turned to hamburgers and she had confessed that she had never had an In-N-Out burger. I told her that whenever she was in L.A. and wanted to try an animal style burger, I’d be happy to take her. And…I didn’t hear from her after that. I figured you win some and you lose some. But then, four months later I got an email from Hally: “I’ll be in L.A. this weekend. In-N-Out?”

Good Thing, Bad Thing

One Good Thing


I was catching up on some paperwork at one of the bars last week when I took a break to grab a sandwich at Subway.  I had just sat down at a table to eat when I noticed someone looking at me through the window.  She was a large black woman and she was smiling and waving.  She was obviously hoping to hustle me for money, so I looked back down at my sandwich and pretended that I hadn’t really seen her.  But it was too late: out of the corner of my eye I could see her heading for the door into the restaurant.  “Great,” I thought, “she’s gonna hustle me right here at the freaking table.”

INTERPRETATIONS: Wishful Thinking Edition

As we say hello to a new year and new possibilities, here are three more INTERPRETATIONS submissions our jurors had high praise for, but that didn’t make the final five. They’re all very different films, but each in its own way speaks to this theme of possibilities and wishful thinking. Whether dealing with the consequences of a horrible act or seeking a dream that’s probably way out of reach, the characters in these shorts find themselves in the all too real, human dilemma where the thing that they so desperately wish for, seems out of reach. Enjoy:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME 
Xiao Li Tan

http://www.vimeo.com/18105464

“Xiao Li Tan really took advantage of the three minute format and told a complete, original (with a nod to homage) and entertaining story. I laughed, I cried, I watched it twice. Bravo!”MATT HOLLOWAY (Screenwriter, IRON MAN)

INTERPRETATIONS: Eternal Piece by Ryan Yang

As part of our series of shorts that caught our attention during the Interpretations Film initiative last year, I wanted to give some kudos to ETERNAL PIECE by Ryan Yang from Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

While this short film is quite accomplished for a filmmaker of any age, we were particularly struck by the fact that it was directed by a 17 year old.  Guided by the elegant cinematography of Justin Capadocia of Kinema Group, Ryan created a touching tribute to those in his life who were struck down by cancer.  His approach – juxtaposing the subject as a child playing piano with the melancholy sequences of him dying as a young man effectively create a moving little short.  The performances are subtle and the use of the script is effective in punctuating the dramatic beats.  My only critique would be that the vocals were not necessary as the simple piano arrangement and images alone were quite powerful to carry the emotions of the film.  Much like the way it feels to mourn and remember the life and death of a loved one, this film evokes both the painful and bittersweet.

Jerome & Inception: fan fiction – THE HUMAN VAULT, part eleven.

I have been challenged to write about Inception once a week until the end of the year.  Not that this really changes anything because I was planning on doing that anyway.

This week, we conclude my adventure into the world of fan fiction.

This is a story in parts.  Here is Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9, and Part 10.  This is Part 11  It’s called

“The Human Vault.”

Free Throw Justice

Life is a difficult and frigid game that requires all the luck, saavy and gifts you can collect to give yourself any kind of a chance. Defeat is defeat. Success is defeat. Defeat and failure stare at you twenty-four hours a day. Sports is a metaphor for the battle of life. Blah, blah, blah. And that’s why we are so enthralled by it. Like cinema, sports is life with all the boring parts cut out. That’s why it is sickening to me and millions of others when a basketball players misses a free throw. As Offender Justin says, “they’re free!” Because a free throw is not only free, but a gift, an advantage you gain on your opponent as he helplessly watches.

This is extra sickening when we realize that ball players spend the majority of their day practicing, honing their skills until it operates like an old German stop watch, and many have practiced their God given skills since they were little kids (and of course now they get paid millions to do it). Because the free throw — after the extra point in football — must be the easiest point gain in sports. Dirk Nowitzski’s career will forever be tainted because of the missed FT in game 3 of the 2006 Finals. Yes, the missed FT that allowed Dwayne Wade to win game 3 and the next 3 games after that, and thus the championship. Dirk is a career 87% FT shooter and the 13% part showed up at the wrong time. It was free. Right there for the taking. And he couldn’t take it.

My Special Wish for the New Year

In a couple of days, we say good-bye to 2010 and welcome in a new year. And with a new year comes a fresh start and an opportunity to send some positive energy into the world. So with that in mind, I’d like to share with you, our loyal readers, my special wish for the new year. Now, my special wish might sound cheesy and maybe even naïve to some, but I don’t care what anyone thinks ‘cause this wish comes from the bottom of my heart.

And my wish is that in 2011, all the people of the world will come together in unity to sing as one. No matter your race or religion or gender or age or whichever team you bat for sexually, we will all join hands in the spirit of peace like in that classic Coke commercial:

Again, I’m sure all the cynical haters will pooh-pooh my special wish, but I’m risking ridicule and putting it out there because I have faith in and love for my fellow humans.

So may 2011 allow all of us to come together as one and sing! Happy New Year, everyone!

Actually, hold on a second…let me make a slight amendment to my special New Year’s wish. The idea of all the people of the world coming together to sing in one voice is definitely a beautiful notion, but what if some of those people are terrorists? Billions of people would be holding hands and singing the Coke song and suddenly…BOOM! Suicide bombers could strike and blow up a lot of people, which would be in direct violation of the spirit of peace and unity of my special wish. Therefore, I think I should exclude anyone with any terrorist ties from taking part in my special wish.

INTERPRETATIONS: Macabre Edition

The Interpretations Film Initiative may be over and the winners already announced, we’ve still got a plethora of worthy entries. The sheer amount of quality short films were too good to pass up, so for the next several weeks, we Offenders will be presenting our personal favorites. There were tons of thematic threads throughout our entries and I’d like to highlight three distinct short films that had a macabre bent, from straightforward horror to biting dark comedy.

WE LIKE DEATH

Edward Kim

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/18265422[/vimeo] This dark comedy  has a great mix of mundane slacker vibe with zany and vintage Woody Allen tropes. It’s a suicidal Waiting for Godot meets Cheech and Chong riff of a film that plays out ingeniously. They even pull of a convincing and very cute Grim Reaper! In the end, this short is darkly funny and had me in stitches throughout its succinct three minute running time.

Surviving the Holidays (Literally)

My thoughts turned morbid over the weekend as I contemplated death.  No, not mine in particular, but just in general. I was guessing that more people die around the holidays than other days, and it turns out I was correct.  Researchers have found that Americans are more likely to die on Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, and on New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year.  But before you read the rest of this blog, take a stab at why you think that is.  The reason makes total sense, but it may not be what you first guessed.

Dance Dance Dance Dance

What’s a better thing to do for the New Year than to dance, dance, dance, dance? I hit the floor ‘cause that’s my plans, plans, plans, plans! I’m not sure if fellow Offender Beverly might remember that we used to take Movement for Actors together at the Edge. And she said something that inspired me, “ Aren’t you amazed that you can still will your body to dance? You may not be able to do it when you get older.”

Dante 7 (far left) teaches at the Edge every Tuesday and Thursday at 7PM

If you can dance today, savor it! My hip hop instructor Dante 7 once said, “You should feel lucky that you can still dance today. So dance like this is your last time. Who knows what can happen tomorrow? You may not be able to dance tomorrow, so seize the day!”

Yellow Swan

It’s been almost two weeks since I saw Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky’s twisted fable about a tightly wound ballerina (Natalie Portman) who discovers her dark side, and I still haven’t been able to shake the lingering effects of the film. Movies like Black Swan are why the movies were invented to begin with—to immerse us completely in the filmmaker’s vision in a way the other arts simply can’t do; through the expert use of all of those other arts themselves—photography, directing, painting, music, writing, acting, theater. Cinema is nothing if not a mutt.

Black Swan works as well as it does for the very reason some have criticized it—the film has been accused of being nothing more than exploitative trash (i.e. 1995’s Showgirls) masquerading as high art. Well, I’m here to say that those critics are absolutely right, but that is not a bad thing. As the late, great film critic Pauline Kael once remarked (and I’m paraphrasing here), the history of great cinema is the history of great trash. Take some of our revered classics—The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Some Like It Hot, Star Wars, Titanic, for example—and what are they but the perfect hybrid of low and high brow? “Sensationalism” dressed up as art. As Kael also said (and this is an exact quote): “Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in them.”

Black Swan fits squarely into this category, which is what makes it so entertaining while still allowing us to feel superior to all those other heathens who’d rather see Little Fockers. After all, nothing livens up a film about an artist suffering a painful emotional and psychological toll than to include a moment of hot girl-on-girl action: