Around the Horn: Best of 2014 Edition

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2014 is drawing to a close, and critics are coming out with their year-end “best of” (and “worst of”) lists. What’s your favorite thing (film or theatre) that you saw in 2014? For me, it would probably be a new play, FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2, and 3), by Suzan Lori-Parks, recently Off-Broadway at the Public Theatre, which tells the story of a slave who goes off to serve his white master fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. How about you guys?

AROUND THE HORN: Home is Where the Heart Is?

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I left my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii exactly 20 years ago to seek fame and fortune in Los Angeles (might take another 20 years.) Weirdly I’m reflecting this moment right now in Hawaii where I’m attending my good friend’s wedding.

Now that I’m back here in Honolulu, I almost don’t feel the need to go back to the hustle and bustle. What is this spell over me? The food? The friends and family? The food? The clean air? The food? I know one thing… I’ll wanna come back to LA in one week. It’s such a high with all my intentions of wanting to stay and believe that it’ll be a better life here, but it’s shortly diffused after just 7 days. Isn’t home is where the heart is?

I guess I’m just longing for the feeling of home even when I’m away. It really is like a warm hug here and I wish I can take with me on my plane trip back.

Do you ever wanted to just go back to where you grew up and stay or have you moved on and never looked back?

Around The Horn: Examining the US through the lens of Ferguson

Devonte Hart as captured by photographer Johnny Nguyen. Can I trust this image, or is some news network trying to swing my feelings?

Devonte Hart as captured by photographer Johnny Nguyen. Can I trust this image, or is some news network trying to swing my feelings?

The Ferguson decision came pretty close to my doorstep. I live fairly close to where the Oakland protestors took over the 580 freeway, so I spent an interesting two nights listening to the world outside my window. The next morning(s), the streets were cleared of the broken glass and burnt out garbage bins. And I wondered: were the protests fruitful? Is anything going to change? I feel I don’t know enough of anything to know right or wrong anymore: I don’t trust the media (who controls it anyway?) and the Internet is a rabbit’s hole of personal opinions and surmission.

Around the Horn: End of the Year To Do List

I can’t believe 2014 is almost over. Time just flew by and Black Friday is just around the corner. The weather is getting colder. It’s getting dark really early. Even California is getting some rain to help our drought. Maybe my neighbors will stop watering their lawns for an hour every night. LA man. But there still is a full month left to make this year rememorable. So what is a goal, place, or certain task you were planning all year to do but never got around to it? Was it that room you wanted to paint? Or that museum you wanted to check out? Or maybe that restaurant you read on yelp over and over but never got around to trying it out.

In the beginning of the year, I was planning on fixing my front window of my car. It started out as a small little crack but slowly the crack has spread almost all the way across the entire window passing the passenger side and into the driver side. I got it priced out and even should have got it done. But I really wanted to use this opportunity to somehow use it in a short film. Have someone get run over by my car, fly right into my window, and break the crap outta it. Or maybe some jealous girlfriend decides to smash it with a baseball bat. I figure mind as well since I’m replacing it right. My last car I had a BMX rider crash and roll over the hood. It was sweet. Well the year as gone by and I’ve finally found time to finish writing my short. I wrote in a scene to give it its glory. So hopefully the wait was worth it. After all, I’m tired of hearing my friends bitch and worry about my huge crack in the window.

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Around the Horn: What’s your entertainment binge obsession?

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I am currently obsessed with the Serial podcast, a weekly podcast that unravels one story. I binged listened to it over two days and I cannot wait to listen on how it will end. If you haven’t heard of Serial, it’s so damn amazing, a true crime story unraveled with the very best tropes that make murder mysteries so compelling. It’s a mix of 60 MINUTES, TWIN PEAKS, HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, and THIS AMERICAN LIFE.

A classic PORTLANDIA skit best represents this type of binge obsession:

What series, of any medium (movies, TV, podcasts), that got you hooked that you holed yourself up at home to “consume” it all?

Around The Horn: How Do You Vote?

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This last Tuesday, we the people, in order to form a more perfect union, headed to the polls for our mid-term elections.  Estimates vary, but something like 35% of us eligible voters actually turned out (in war torn Ukraine, 60% of voters made a point of casting their ballots).  So I was feeling pretty good about the “I Voted” sticker I wore on my shirt when I went to work afterwards.  There I ran into my manager Diana, who, I’m guessing, is in her mid-twenties.  I asked if she had voted yet.

“No.”

“Going later today?”

“No.”

“You’re not voting at all?” I asked.

“I don’t think so.”

Around the Horn: Reality TV Edition

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I watch an incredible amount of reality TV. In fact I watch the reality show about people watching TV, The People’s Couch. I enjoy watching people on TV watching TV. Clearly I will watch anything. What are your reality favorites if any and/or what’s your dream reality show if you could green light ?

PHILIP: I can’t say I’ve been a fan of reality TV. I’m much more of a scripted guy. But there are those guilty pleasures that pop up once in awhile–one of them is the Animal Planet show Finding Bigfoot. Even though I’m pretty sure they’ll never find Bigfoot (and if they did, we would’ve heard about it already), there’s something about the show that’s addicting despite that fact that they never find Bigfoot at the end of every episode.

I’d be interested in finding a good idea for a reality series that I could be part of but I can’t say what that would be–since it seems like pretty much almost every topic is covered by one reality show or another already, it’d have to be something unique that hasn’t been done before. And like the Supreme Court definition of porn, I’ll know it when I see it.

AROUND THE HORN – Nearest Death Experience?

ROGER:  We will all die.  Eventually.  And hopefully our passing will be peaceful and in older age.  All that said, what’s the closest you’ve come come to your personal, mortal lights out?

What’s your closest close call?  Here’s mine…

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Ever since I was a child I wanted to learn how to fly an airplane.  It was just one of those things I couldn’t get out of my non-stop, daydreaming head.  So when I finally had enough money saved up to go to flight school, I jumped at the chance.  It was as thrilling as I had imagined.  And to my surprise, scarier than I had thought too.  But my life-long desire to become a pilot trumped my fear of dying in an airborne tin can.  Well, that was the case until flight hour 36 came rolling around…

Around the Horn: What’s Your Iconic Horror Movie Villain?

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It’s that time of the year again—Halloween—my favorite season. If you have to pick one iconic horror movie villain to remember for this trick-or-treat month, who would that be? And Why? For me, it would be the Tall Man from the Phantasm series. When I first saw the Tall Man in the original Phantasm, I kept wondering what he was about. And he really scared me as a kid, “Boy!!!!!!!” The Tall Man has always been shrouded in mystery. He isn’t exactly a villain… but more of a servant of the dark… or of an alien race… almost like the Terminator… but he certainly executes the scary deeds of his anti-human boss. Who is the Tall Man???

IRIS: I love Vincent Price as a villain. His voice and persona are so distinctly memorable. I went to see him speak once while in college. He read his lines from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which was definitely a treat to hear in person. Iconically evil, but hilarious at the same time:

Around the Horn: The Supernatural Edition

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I love October because my favorite holiday falls in this month: Halloween. I don’t like dressing up in costume but I love scaring people and sharing “ghost” stories. I’ve shared a number of “true” ghost stories on this blog in the past like this and this.

I don’t know if I truly believe in the supernatural but I try to keep an open mind. What about the rest of you? Do you believe in the supernatural? Any stories of weird things that have happened to you or that you’ve heard? Let’s try to scare the hell our of our readers.

ROGER: When I was in preschool, I lived in Illinois. My neighbors had two young sons my same age. They were twins named David and Luke. Like most twins, they were very different – one was very outgoing and gregarious and another was very shy and hardly ever spoke. From preschool to first grade I played with the two boys just about everyday after school. We were the three musketeers. After that, my parents moved us to California. Fast forward about twenty years, I was in Chicago on business and decided to visit my childhood home. To my surprise, the same neighbors next door were still living there. Well, at least the parents were. So I swung over to say hello. It was nice that they remembered me. After a bit of polite chit chat, I asked them how David and Luke were.

Around The Horn: Neighborly Tendencies

What did I wake up to this morning? Was it the sunlight breaking through the cracks of my blinds? Or was it the serene sound of recorded birds from my alarm clock? The answer is neither.

I woke up to the sound of a small child banging on a makeshift drum kit composed of pots and pans. Yes, I was torn from my sweet, sweet slumber by what I hope to be a future famous drummer who will look back and donate a portion of his earnings to the neighbor he constantly kept awake.

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Hey, I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill here, but I’d like to get some confirmation: what’s some of your worst experiences with neighbors?

IRIS: I wrote a previous blog about “Mr. Cranky” who called the police on us about our barking dog and we don’t even have a dog. He’s known as “Hitler” around the neighborhood.

Around the Horn: YouTube Time Suck

JunoWhaleOkay, I admit that I’m a sucker for cute animal videos.  I can waste hours in a day when I’m caught in a YouTube vortex of watching the antics of our furry and even non-furry friends.  It’s so easy to think you’re only going to spend five minutes looking up a video you saw on the news.  But then a host of cute videos pop up on your search results or your eyes wander over to the related videos column that leads you to another video and then another and before you know it, you’ve wasted the whole morning and you curse yourself, wondering if there’s a YouTubes Anonymous help group out there.

In the past, I have been addicted to videos of Nora, the piano playing cat, and Carrie, the merengue dancing dog.  My current YouTube obsession is Juno, an intelligent Beluga whale that has some uncanny human qualities.  I have discovered all kinds of things about Juno.  For instance, he likes to photobomb wedding shoots.

He also likes to scare little kids:

(action starts from about :54 mark)  I love how he does a sort of “double take” move, like he’s really teasing them.