themellowdramatist

I'm just so chill when I'm overanalyzing text messages.

Things to do in LA for screenwriters when they aren’t writing

Today is officially the tenth day anniversary of me being in LA and since I have some free time on my hands (as in I’ve ordered something from Starbucks and I’m using their internet for the rest of the day), I decided to compile a list of helpful things to do in LA if you write when you’re not writing. If the old adage”You’re writing even when you’re not writing” is true, then these are the things I believe will make it even MORE true. 

Take the bus and chat with the person next to you. 

Most LA-ers have the privilege of discussing how much traffic blows because they have a car. That’s fine and dandy for those Rockerfellers, but it can be a little anxiety-inducing for those on public transportation. We may never be fortunate enough to experience needing to pee while trapped on the 405. Luckily for us, the bus system is almost always late! The one time I stayed out in Hollywood past 10 PM kept me waiting for the bus for nearly two hours, which might sound horrible at first thought (and the next thought… and the next thought…) but there was another guy waiting at the bus stop. At first we did the polite nods as you do in LA when you make eye contact and minded our own business, but when thirty minutes rolled by, we were no longer strangers. We were two folks who were both stranded and really really tired. We kept talking and exchanged numbers, and that my friend, made the journey almost worth it. 

See movies all the time. 

Unemployed life is hard and the rejections you face can be demoralizing, but that’s okay, because you’re in a town literally built on the craft you want to build. The cinema culture here is vast and eclectic, and even though Hollywood might be more well known for the commercial features made here, there’s a great selection of independent, classic, experimental, what have you. The Arc Light is expensive, but great if you want to attend 21+ film screenings or if you want to go to Q&A’s for new films. For cheaper shows, check out the Leo S. Bing for four dollar matinees of classics or the Billy Wilder Theatre at the Hammer Museum for screenings from the extensive UCLA Film and Television Archive. The best experience I’ve had here was at the New Beverly Cinema, a theater that Quentin Tarrantino bought out when it was about to go out of business. The reason why is because it shows a double feature EVERY NIGHT of well-paired classics for only eight dollars. Yeah. Not only did I see James Dean movies for the first time on the big screen, I was surrounded by other filmmakers and film lovers who were eager to make conversation. It’s a great and fun way to learn about movies. 

Also, take notes on everything you see. What you liked, what you didn’t. Even if you unwillingly watched your roommate’s Pretty Little Liars marathon, write it down. Make your time count. 

For a comprehensive list of Los Angeles theaters, check out LAist’s list here

Travel around the towns. 

Whether you take a car or have to walk for miles with the sun in your eyes, get a feel of the landscape. LA is a desert with canyons that’s right next to the beach. It’s a unique blend and you’ll want to experience it all. If your boyfriend just dumped you, hop into the Pacific Ocean and let the crippling cold take your mind off of it. If your girlfriend sabotaged your interview so she could get the job, go for a hike at Topanga and oversee your problems down in the city from high above. If you can’t give yourself another perspective, follow the earth to find it. 

But whatever you do, don’t go to Universal Citywalk. 

citywalk

DO NOT ENTER. THE JOHNNY ROCKETS INSIDE IS NOT WORTH CANCER.

But most importantly, center your day around why you came here!

Jobs are either internships, low-paying, things you can’t get yet, or extremely stressful portions of your day. If you don’t wish to have the jobs you’re looking to have or keep to be the focal part of your day, then don’t! Write when you can, read up on what you want to learn, eat that great Mexican you keep hearing about, shoot the bull with your peeps. Careers are a big reason why people come out here, and if that’s your goal, all the power to you, but it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to living than being in an industry. 

The Confessions of a LA-LA Lander

Living in Los Angeles: the first week.

It’s hot here.

At night and in the shade there’s a cool breeze that follows you, but in the sun, it’s merciless heat. This might not be the worst thing if you don’t walk everywhere but if you do…. it’s hot.

It’s also extremely long here. It takes me an hour to walk a distance I could do in 30 by bus and an hour to travel a distance it would take 30 by car. It’s hard to feel like you’re part of the city when it takes you this long to move neighborhood by neighborhood, but the fact is that there aren’t any neighborhoods. West Hollywood, North Hollywood, Santa Monica — these places are all different cities in the county of Los Angeles. To walk from city to city would be madness (take it from a mad man).

The hostel is quiet except for discussions about Ferguson, which are heated. We are strangers bound by our engagement to event miles away and although there are different perspectives on the matter, it remains on our minds. In the current struggles we all face in our careers (some people have lived here for years), this provides a tension we don’t have to feel responsible for.

The online job search is still ongoing. Beginning to realize I put too much faith on the internet, that if I press a few buttons my future will come to me. The city, with its jobs and its people, exists around me, not online. I need to get off the screen if I want to be a part of the scene. (Grocery cashiers can make over 20,000 a year… hmmm)

I feel overwhelmed by the realization that this is the time, this is the time, the time to enter the career and purpose that will define the rest of my life. It’s something so heavy to hold on my own. But I came here for a reason. To work in television. That was always the numero uno end goal. It’s frustrating to me that I feel this goal still might take months even though I’ve been waiting for years, but if it’s the reality, then it it what it is.

ON THE PLUS SIDE: I SAW THIS GUY LAUGHING WITH HIS FRIENDS IN HOLLYWOOD.

LUSCHEK

Señor Luschek was in the flesh. Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Is he really that handsome in real life?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell when he has cigarette in his hand instead of a popsicle. But I assure you, it was close. 

Til next time. 

Living the Mayfield

Image

I am now officially a college grad on the job hunt. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of my whole life. Homework? A thing of the past. What’s going to pay the rent in two months? I have no idea! It’s exciting, fearsome, exhilarating, scary. I’d like to say I’m not worried, but Mama Dramatist didn’t raise no liar. Change is the unknown, and as my good old pal Alby Dumbledore said when I had a drink with him at the Deathly Hallows (wasn’t a huge fan of the place, too heavy on the fluorescent bright lights of emptiness) our biggest fears lie in which we do not know. So, as a means of curing my brain from knee-buckling anxieties and the like, I’m telling and retelling myself what the future will look like.

The future is unknowable.

But we move towards it every second of our lives.

If we see a café we’d like to drink at, we step in. And determine our future. I didn’t know I would have a cup of coffee that would prompt me to write the first blog post I’ve written in over a year when I woke up this morning. But I do now. I don’t know if I’m going to finish it today, but in this moment, that’s what I’m moving towards. And my knees feel just fine. 

My advice to any grads who are overwhelmed at the prospect of what their next move is would be to just simply move. Whether it’s in a conga line or to Alaska, move to wherever your body takes you. When your mind is unsure, the body takes care of you. (Whenever I have no idea which pasta to tell the waiter I’m eating, my stomach always tells me “gnocchi”). I will be moving to LA, Vince Gilligan to CBS, Sterling Cooper to McCann, Community to Netflix (possibly). 

If you are wondering where you will move, my friend Curtis is here to help. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z66wVo7uNw

 

 

Going Stag on Valentinstag

We had a “Fun and Dating in Berlin” information session at the Academic Center, where we learned the general differences between American and German dating. Compliments to German women tend to make them wary of your intentions rather than flattered, small talk is not sexy, a German man typically meets a woman by making glances towards them until she gets the hint and walks over to him. It all sounded like hogwash to me which was why I had to try it as as soon as possible.

Like was blossoming about in NYU Berlin yesterday. People were finding each other schön all over the place. No matter how single you might be, seeing your friends wearing smiles that only one person could give them is nothing short of wonderful. Made me think, hey, who says I can’t get a date tonight? I play the ukulele, can cook pancakes, read. The things I’d imagine are important in a date. With my hopes higher than Cupid could fly, I went to a party titled “Balkan Swing Burlesque”.

I tried asking a girl if she’d like to dance in German, most likely with the fluency of a four year old. When I retreated to English, she obliged but kept herself reserved. I tried bridging the gap by saying I liked the way she was dancing, which was met with a sashay-away.

Then a middle-aged Balkan woman made her way over and we did some old fashioned Balkan jitterbug. I have no idea what Balkan jitterbug looks like and my footwork showed, but she didn’t seem to mind. Balkan woman and I both just wanted a dance, who did it matter who it was with? I started making small talk about how Indian music is a lot like Balkan music and she promptly waved goodbye. How unsexy.

At the bar, I saw a girl in the corner of my eye and decided I would keep my feet planted until she came over. I waited with a free tap water in my hand, chatting with a few ex-pats and a strangely forward coke dealer (he told an ex-pat he liked his shirt and then listed his prices), and the girl introduced herself to me. I got frank about who I am, telling her things about writing I never feel confident enough to tell people when I first meet them and she told me about how she was going to save the world by building schools where there hadn’t been before because she grew up poor. At around this time, my left hearing aid gave out and I lost her to the ambiance. I kept shoving my ear to her face to catch what she was saying, which was decidedly unsexy. To try and reel her back in, I tried the “dropping-my-hand-on-yours-mid-conversation” thing but the time for that had passed or it was never to come at all. She told me she thought her friends were leaving and we both left the bar.

On our last drinks out, the Balkan music gave way to electro-swing and hell if my friends and I could have resisted that.  We looked stark raving mad and we didn’t give a shit. As long as there are more Tage of Berlin left, there’s more Tage to be gute.

Berlin in the Night

Berlin bars seem to resist street theatricality. Each one I’ve been to has had nothing more than a sign outside their door. I suppose if they’re worried people judge books by the cover, they’ll be satisfied with anything more than a bouncer who frisks all your junk without so much as a hello. 

I arrived at a speakeasy to a bartender who was none too pleased to see us walk in at three in the morning. “You couldn’t have came yesterday, could ya?” He made us promise to leave as quickly as college students could consume alcohol, but an hour passed and Dean Martin’s croons were still in the air. When we returned to the bar with our beers half drunken, he put his hand to his heart. “You know you can finish that!”

Smoke has followed me home after each excursion I’ve made in the night. It’s started to give have a soothing effect as I get ready for bed, reminding me that the paths I’ve taken in the smoke are something I would never had crossed had I stayed abroad. Like a European blanket of smoke. 

Those handles on the mugs are amazing. It’s like drinking a huge cup of tea that intoxicates you. If only they came with scones. 

You aren’t able to get into a club unless you appear to look like you couldn’t care less about the club. All I can say is thank God they don’t serve doner kebabs at Berghain.

I haven’t stepped in any dog droppings. I swear, sometimes this place feels like a piece of heaven.

I’m studying a broad named Berlin

And boy, is she something. 

The owner of the cafe across the street from my dorm told me she was the architect of it as well. She comes in every morning at five so she can set it up with the cook, who she calls her husband. When I asked her how long she was married for, she responded never. They’d just been dating for 18 months and well, she couldn’t just call him her boyfriend anymore. 

My neighbors and I had an impromptu jam session in the dorm with a guitar, ukulele, empty bottle of Club Mate, trash can and a spoon ladle. We plan to perform Springtime for Hitler at the next open mic, as soon as we can figure out that damn key change. 

I went to an ex-pat bar and realized the importance of the Superbowl. It brings Americans and Swedes and Germans together with the power of Sasha Fierce. 

The baristas here are more than the people who make you tea. They’re the people who invite you to their art shows if you have something more to say than about how the wifi doesn’t work to them. 

I don’t have a smartphone when I’m on the streets of Berlin but that’s alright. I have the people here as my map. I still get lost everyday, but I find something every Hallo along the way. 

Breaking Bad’s Sci-fi

The New York Times published an article about last night’s Breaking Bad premiere here. It’s interesting to see where Vince Gilligan gets the inspiration for the wacky science things that happen on the show, as he recalls here:

The idea for this hands-free heist, Mr. Gilligan said, came not from any real-life incident but from the collective deliberations of the “Breaking Bad” writing staff. It was also helped along by Mr. Gilligan’s memories of his film studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he used a tabletop magnetic device called a degausser to erase audio tracks.

 

“I remember being intrigued by this magnet and wondering if it was going to destroy my watch or sterilize me so that I could never have kids,” he said.

It’s a good read for writers who are afraid about writing sequences that include science. When I watched last night’s episode, I was severely upset because my Breaking Bad spec doesn’t have anything close to the marvel of the magnet sequence. I’ve been racking my brain to figure out scientific elements that could actually be employed in real life and nothing has been as overtly impressive as magnets. But the article shows that the writers took a huge artistic license with the science of magnetic forces. In real life, that heist could have never happened. But you don’t realize when you watch the show, because the episode is about the characters operating the science, not the science itself. Don’t be afraid if your sci’s a little fi. 

 

The OkCupid Diaries: Part 1

I have dipped my toes into the OkCupid waters in the past month and I can honestly say that it was the most memorable month of my life. Not necessarily the funnest month or the month where I had the highest self-esteem or the month I was getting superlaid, but a month I won’t forget. Since June, my life has revolved around whether Cupid will find me a match with his internet arrows or not. And I have no shame in saying that. Sure, I’ve gotten approximately six responses to the 50+ messages I’ve sent out and sure, I have gone past date one with precisely zero of them, but being on OkCupid is not about asking Cupid to set you up with a hottie and him saying “Ok no problem bro”. It’s about Cupid giving you a listing of people you may have chemistry with and you saying “Ok, Cupid. I accept your challenge.”  And what’s a challenge worth if you’re not gonna fail 92% of the time?

Now, since I’ve devoted so many procrastinating hours to this thing, I figured as a treat to you readers I would share my messaging entries with you. I think a lot of people have misperceptions about the online dating universe, that it’s only for male creepers above the age of 25 and women who don’t get asked out IRL who are over the age of 25. None of those things are true (except for the “over the age of 25 part”. You should see the looks I get when the people at Think Coffee see me gestating the multiple ways on how to say “Hey, what’s up and let’s have a relationship/coffee sometime/sex/a gay old time.”) Internet dating is a really great opportunity to work on being creative with the way you speak to people. People are gonna judge your messages and your pictures and your profiles within seconds because there’s a million other people out there and you gotta give them a reason to waste their time with you the moment you put yourself in their inbox. But if you can, if you can just shove a glimmer of honesty or authenticity or quirk that they’ll want to hear at the precise moment they open your message, well then s/he just might “reply very selectively” to you.

These following messages are the kind that did not make the cut.

“I love ketchup too! I don’t leave in the morning unless the tomatoes in my omelet suffocate in a vat of tomato sugar juice. I apologize if I seem a bit overexcited, it’s just ketchup connoisseurs are difficult to come by.”

Don’t the words “suffocate” and “vat” just turn you on like a light switch?

“I love Italian food! Totally the most generic statement ever, but I don’t go a day without arrabiata.”

To an Italian girl who liked to cook. (Yes, I realized I misspelled arrabbiata. I wouldn’t date me either.)

“I loved the King’s Speech! I’m not sure if it’s because it took place in the 30’s, or because Colin Firth’s the most fantastic actor I’ve ever seen, but I’ve never been so awake during a speech before in my life.”

This girl was British and already said she hated Harry Potter, so naturally I went with the only other British topic I knew about.

“Hey! What have you acted in? I feel like I’ve seen before. I’m sure it wasn’t in my dreams, because there’s no way I’m that much of a cliche. But I have been wrong before.”

If only I had remembered to write “you”. I’d be dating a Stardust waitress by now.

“Hi. Your photos are pretty. The photography that is! And the subjects of them. Whoever that girl is.”

I’m still at a loss as to why this didn’t get a response. Her friend was really attractive.

“I totally understand your love of cats. And Downton Abbey. Honestly, I’m pretty certain they’re the only things that make the world go round. There’s that whole gravitational pull argument, but I say hogwash. How could you say a Scottish Fold is less magnetic than the South Pole?”

To someone with the username “meowton_tabbey”.

Ah. That felt good. Hope you enjoyed, Internet! Be tuned for the next installment of the OkCupid Diaries, where we follow the story of a date that actually happens!

Lou-ie Lou-ie Lou-Advertisement

Alright, guys. The third season of Louie premieres tomorrow night on FX at 10:00pm and we all have to watch it. “Why,” you ask, internet reader. “I watch comedies all the time. Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls. I just don’t have time for another sitcom.” I understand, internet reader, you’ve got your Hulu sitcom setlist packed to the brim. But that doesn’t matter. Because Louie ain’t no situation comedy, girl. It’s a situation. Period.

Okay, maybe not THAT kind of situation.

It’s the realest situation out there on television. Louie C.K. is the sole writer, director, star and until this upcoming season, editor of each episode. EACH EPISODE. He has no executives breathing down his neck telling what can and can’t be on his show. Every installment of Louie is his little baby. That he fathered on his own. Each each episode is like a little Jesus.

All blatant Messiah allusions aside, Louie is able to speak about a certain kind of truth most TV shows can’t. New York blows. Not in a like “Oh, the pretty girl I have sex with all the time won’t call me back so now I have to find a new woman to hook up with” blowing (I’m looking at you, How I Met Your Mother). Like real blow. The real Windy City. Reason it blows is because it’s so awesome. You can eat the best hot dogs in the world and there’s free wi-fi all over the place.  This is all sounding really incoherent but I promise this has a point. Louie’s show addresses the small things that give him grief. Apartment hunting, dating people who can’t wait for the night to end, masturbation, ungrateful children, being alone on a Saturday night. All the usual sitcom fodder, but these things don’t just function as excuses to crack jokes out for twenty-two minutes. They exist to tell the truth about the way those particular situations effect a particular person. The show’s a bit divisive, as you have to be able to relate to Louie C.K. to enjoy it, but for those who can, you’ll get so much from it.

Take for instance season two’s episode 10, Halloween. SPOILERS ABOUND SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ON, LET ME JUST ASSURE YOU THAT IT’S AN AWESOME EXAMPLE OF AWESOME TELEVISION MAKING. Starts off with Louie taking his two daughters trick-or-treating in the West Village, dressed as a fairy and Fredrick Douglass. (The daughter is really into history.) Adorable. The night takes a really bad turn the moment Louie relents to his daughters’ pleas to go trick or treating past midnight and some creepers start following them. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced how unsettling New York creepers can be, but on Halloween, when they’re dressed like monsters, the last thing you want to do is be cornered by them. Especially if you’re with your kids. The segment is drenched with a surrealist tone, making it like a dream and a nightmare at the same time and when it resolves, it arrives at a throughly un-cliché conclusion. 

Watch Louie, and see life be resolved in ways it always is in real life but never shown on television.

“My thing is, if you’re…

“My thing is, if you’re a writer, you write. Period. If you aren’t writing you just don’t want it that badly.”

From an interview with Writer’s Assistant Jess, current internet girl of my dreams, over at Amanda Pendolino’s blog on everything television and film here.

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