As -K might say: "iwriteplays actually wrote a play!" Here's the deets:
Come see the world premiere of my new play, "Beneath Her Feet" (co-written by Jason Matthews). It's about living and working and loving in Los Angeles, and it's sure to be a good time.
April 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 2009. Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm. 4735 Lankershim Blvd, 91602.
It's a 3-week run, so there are 9 -- count 'em: 9! -- chances to come see the play!
Tickets are only $10! Make your reservations today -- don't miss out! Exclamation points!!!
Can't wait to see you there!
As -K might say: "iwriteplays actually wrote a play!" Here's the deets:
I'm the first to admit that I love an internet quiz. Which Sex and the City character are you? (Miranda) Where should you live? (Ireland) What's your true calling? (Hero) Sure, they may be ridiculous, poorly-written, and an all-around waste of time, but I love 'em.
What I don't love is getting spammed every time one of my friends fills out a quiz on Facebook. What I hate even more is having to spam my own friends just to find out which comic book superhero I most identify with.
So, in the spirit of sharing and saving us all from unnecessary application invites, I give you:
HOW NOT TO SPAM YOUR FRIENDS WHEN FILLING OUT A FACEBOOK QUIZ - THE TUTORIAL
When you first click on a link to fill out one of those quizzes, you get a window asking to "allow access" for the application. That's because each and every one of these quizzes is its own application that needs access to your facebook account, mainly so they can spam your friends. First, you gotta grant them access:
Now, BEFORE YOU FILL OUT THE QUIZ, click on "Settings --> Application Settings" in your menu bar:
Now, find the application/quiz you just added in the list, and click on "Edit Settings":
A settings window will pop up. Now you can choose when "stories" get published by this application. A "story" is the item in your news feed that says "Laura took the yadda yadda yadda quiz and she should be a whatever. Take your own quiz now!" If you want the option to publish your results in your news feed, click on "Prompt me..." If you don't want anything published in your wall, click "Never publish..." (I highly recommend "Never publish.."):
Click "Okay" and then you can go back to the quiz and find out which M&Ms flavor you'd be, or whatever.
Finally, after you answer all the poorly-conceived questions, the application prompts you to choose a bunch of friends to "invite" to take the quiz. This is actually spam. All reputable applications let you skip this step, but it's usually in really small type:
Now you can find out what Greek goddess you are or what your leprechaun name would be without spamming your friends or announcing your results to the whole world -- at least without your permission.
I'm hesitant to write this post at all because it just brings more attention to Burger King's detestable "Whopper Virgins" ad campaign, but I am so deeply disturbed by it all that I have to vent.
I first saw a teaser ad for this campaign during SNL last night. The ad asks: "What happens if you take Transylvanian Farmers who have never eaten a burger and ask them to compare Whopper versus Big Mac?"
Photo by spinnerin
This immediately struck me as a strange sort of cultural imperialism. My father was born and raised in Transylvania, and I have visited the Transylvanian countryside twice myself. The people in these rural villages have endured horrible oppression by totalitarian dictatorships and still drive horse-drawn carts to transport their goods, but Burger King only cares to exploit their "virgin" palates so they can outsell McDonalds.
I headed to the Whopper Virgins website to do my research before writing this angry diatribe. Once there, I was greeted by an extended ad for Burger King shot in "documentary style," complete with behind-the-scenes interviews on the making of the commercial. The ad followed the crew as they found people in three "remote locations" who had never tried a burger before in their lives. The three locations turned out to be Romania, Thailand, and Greenland.
They do the taste test, and - SURPRISE! - most of the tasters prefer the Whopper. That's predictable. The thing that really made me cringe was listening to the "filmmakers" marvel at how the villagers didn't know how to eat a burger, while violin-and-synth inspirational music swells in the background. Are we supposed to be sentimental about this?
"Here, have some cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging, processed food to replace your organic, hearty, home-grown diet! Oh, how cute! You don't know how to eat it! Well, you'll learn."
It's like the culinary equivalent of distributing smallpox-infected blankets.
The whole thing was amazingly condescending.
But wait, there's more! It turns out the "Transylvanian villagers" mentioned in the ad aren't from Transylvania at all. They're from Budesti, a town 30 kilometers southeast of Bucharest. That's on the opposite end of Romania from Transylvania. On top of that, the villagers they interviewed appeared to be Roma (a.k.a. Gypsies), an ethnic group that has been consistently marginalized and persecuted throughout history. But don't fret! Now they have American fast food to make them happy!
And while we're talking persecution, let's jump to the Thailand location for the Whopper Virgins shoot. The credits for the ad thank the "Hmong of Baan Mon Kghor and Baan Khun Chang Kian, Thailand." I was born in Fresno, California, where there is a large population of Hmong immigrants and I grew up with many Hmong friends. Hmong people live in Fresno for the same reason they now live in Thailand: they are political refugees from Laos.
Photo by Phil-osophical Bird
But wait, there's more! They're not just your average, everyday refugees from an oppressive communist dictatorship (like my dad was), they've been forced out of Laos thanks to lots of United States meddling. See, in the 1960s, the CIA started recruiting Hmong people to fight a secret war against the Laotian government. When that didn't work out in our favor, the Laotian government began systematically targeting the Hmong. That spurred thousands to flee to Thailand, where many still live in refugee camps.
But all Burger King cares about is whether the Hmong prefer their burger over the other guy's.
"Sorry our government is responsible for the complete displacement of your people. We know all the death and destruction must have been a drag. As a consolation prize, have a burger! (Preferably a Whopper.)"
And Burger King has the gall to pretend they're doing these people a favor. This is a direct quote from the ad:
"They told us yesterday, 'no, we want to experience other things in this world, too. We want to taste other foods, we want to see other people, we want to see other things."
Apparently, eating a Whopper is the best we can offer.
Then they show a Romanian villager giving a guy from the American crew an elaborate, handmade fur jacket. The American guy is amazed at this and says, "these things take a month to make and this guy just handed it to me!" So give it back. It may be seen as rude, but those villagers need that jacket more than you do. He's not going to wear it in Los Angeles, while shopping at the Grove or taking a stroll down the Santa Monica pier. At best, he'll show it off to his other commercial-director friends as a quaint souvenir of his morally-bereft visit to Romania.
The final ethnic group Burger King decided to exploit were the Inuit of Greenland. I don't know a lot about their culture, so I'm not going to pretend. But this guy really made me happy:
"I like seal meat better."
Amen, brother. A-men!
P.S. Discussion point: what's worse? This Burger King campaign, or what Borat did to that other Romanian village. Debate and discuss.
Posted by iwriteplays at 7:40 PM
Yeah, this is off-topic, but I thought I'd just let people know that Gmail is now supporting new themes -- yes, your Gmail can be pretty now, without the aid of an additional plug in. Check their blog for details.
I'm currently sporting the "Tree" theme, in case you were wondering.
And if you don't see the "Themes" options in your Gmail settings, it may not be rolled out to you yet. Don't fret - Google says you'll be getting it within a couple days.
Seen on LAist!!!
I got a chance to interview Teresa Wang of a new grass roots organization called Roots of Equality.
Tell me about Roots of Equality, whose idea was it and how did you guys get started?
Six of us decided we needed to do something for the visibility of No on 8. We were especially frustrated with the influx of "yes on 8" materials, rallies etc. Their visibility made us feel even more like a powerless minority and we had enough. My cousin in-law, Tom DeSimone, and his partner, Jason Wright rallied with some people in Thousand Oaks against prop 8. They then recruited the rest of us to start doing mini-rallies (outside Staples Center Events, at Sunset and Vine, and at the Hollywood Farmer's Market, pretty much wherever we went.) Tom, Jason, Melissa Lopez, Kersu Dalal, Justin Emerick, and I decided to organize Roots of Equality to put together a large rally and give the people for No on 8 one booming voice.
What are the details of Sunday's Rally?
Sunday's rally will take place at Pershing Square on the corner of Olive and 6th at 1:00 pm. The goal of the rally is to motivate participants to go out in the final days before the election and be vocal and visible. One of our biggest themes is for the participants to tell their stories including how prop 8 will affect their lives. We want them to take their stories out to the people in their lives who are undecided or may vote yes in a final attempt to show those voters that this proposition is not political, it's personal.
We're going to start the rally with some good old fashioned honk soliciting. We're also going to have Diane Olson and Robin Tyler speak. Olson and Tyler were the original plaintiffs who started the marriage equality lawsuit that ended up winning equal rights for gays and lesbians at the California Supreme Court last May. We will also have a segment where participants will have a chance to take the mic and tell their stories. We'll follow up with a pledge drive, not for money, but pledges to start a discussion with the yes and undecided voters in their lives. The rally will also include a sign making station where participants can make signs of their own to use during the rally, and bring back to their neighborhood.
We do want to emphasize that if Yes on 8 people or other opponents come in the vicinity of our rally, participants should not engage them and ignore them no matter what they say or do. We are asking for respect and dignity and so even if our opponents do not give treat us with that, we will. Our rally is peaceful.
I've heard a Yes on 8 group will be having a rally at City Hall at the same time. What do you expect from that and do you think Roots of Equality will outnumber them?
We do know they will have a rally but have no idea what types of numbers they are expecting. We have to admit that their presence at our City Hall was a motivator to have our rally on that day in downtown. As residents of Downtown LA, we refuse to sit and watch as Yes on 8 assembles in our backyard to take away our rights. We want to show that Downtown LA is against Prop 8, Los Angeles is against Prop 8, and soon California will show that we are against Prop 8.
There are currently rallies every night in West Hollywood, and to me this seems a bit like preaching to the choir, why did you choose downtown?
I work in Orange County and my parents live in Orange County. I've seen firsthand how visible Yes on 8 is in that area and how much No on 8 needs to be visible in those areas. I saw recently that Fullerton had a huge rally which I thought was awesome. Like I said earlier, Downtown LA is our neighborhood and we want to be visible in our area, visible to the media, and then send people off from the rally motivated to be visible in their neighborhoods and their lives. Also, toward the end of a campaign visibility efforts are as much about getting your voters out as they are trying to convince new voters.
How many people do you expect at this point? And is there anything the group needs, more signs, printing, etc?
This little idea amongst friends has ballooned into something big and potentially very powerful. None of us are practiced activists so we're admittedly a bit inexperienced in this. We're expecting our rally to number somewhere in the hundreds, based on our responses so far and the expectation that many people will bring their friends and others will come via word of mouth.
The first thing we need from people is their attendance. If people want to help out, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Right now we need an experienced MC and more notable speakers. Oh, and if anyone has an amazing sound system that would be cool too.
Scoops is possibly my favorite place in the whole wide world. Not only do they make the most delicious ice cream on the planet (I dare you to find a better flavor selection), but now they're raising money for the Obama campaign! From now until Halloween, they'll be making election-inspired flavors and donating 20% of the proceeds to the Obama Victory Fund!
Tonight, they're even having an ice cream social to kick it all off.
A disclaimer from contributor K:
In the interest of bipartisanship we were going to post about a similar McCain event, but we can't find one because Republicans don't like to have fun.
Posted by iwriteplays at 2:50 PM
Let me first say that everyone should know “the classics”, the films that have defined, and redefined, the horror genre. You're probably familiar with all of them: Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen, Halloween, The Haunting...etc. The list goes on. And yes, they're all remarkable films.
But don't screen these movies at your Halloween party.
They may still be scary, and for the most part, they all still “work”. But honestly, how many times can you rewatch Carrie before it ceases to be frightening and starts to feel more like an exercise in film history? For the most part, these “classics” are all rather slow and careful. It's what elevates them to the great pieces of art that they are. Unfortunately, it makes for rather boring Halloween parties.
When you know all the great set pieces by heart (crucifix masturbation, nanny hanging, dead naked woman in the bathtub...etc.) it often feels like you're waiting around for the next big moment. I've watched Carrie in a large group; after the shower scene it's one long crawl to the bucket of pigs blood.
Because of this, I've compiled a list of less-popular horror films more suitable for group viewing.
1. THE FLY (Cronenberg)
This is my favorite monster movie. Ever. It's a classy film, even after Jeff Goldblum starts vomiting on his food.
2. HELLRAISER/HELLRAISER 2
The franchise became something different, with numerous attempts to turn Pinhead into some kind of slasher villain. Forget about the later installments; Hellraiser is a beautifully dark love story which manages to be horrifying without relying heavily on the flayed Cenobites.
If you're too familiar with the original, or if you have a strong yearning for visions of an M.C. Escher-like Hell, go for the sequel.
3. EVENT HORIZON
The film eventually becomes outright horror, but the mysterious sci-fi premise works to hook you right from the beginning. Bonus points for the Hellraiser-inspired makeup on Sam Neil.
4. THE DESCENT
No one is going to give this film an award for its story, but it remains the most claustrophobic movie I've ever seen. It's absolutely terrifying... and then the monsters show up.
5. FINAL DESTINATION 2
Well, this movie isn't scary at all. You can almost classify it as a comedy. Regardless of the actual genre, this is a guaranteed party-pleaser and possibly the most fun I've ever had watching teens die.
6. 28 DAYS LATER
Night of the living dead wins for general filmic significance, but by now everyone knows that they all should have just hid in the basement. And yeah, it's still fucked up that they shoot the black guy in the head. Now that that's out of the way...
Danny Boyle's zombie flick is an artistic gem while also being out-right terrifying. As a bonus, you can follow-up the movie with endless argument about whether or not the last 20 minutes suck.
7. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART IV
Yes, I'm actually advocating Nightmare part 4...
Bottom line, if you somehow haven't seen the original A Nightmare on Elm Street then you have no business reading this post anyway. Go buy it. Go watch it. Preferably alone with the lights out.
But while Kruger's over-the-top silliness might have sunk the franchise, it's precisely this carnivalesque behavior that makes this film a party favorite. Bonus points for the especially cheesy 80's feel to this film. Though the 3rd installment (The Dream Warriors) has some great sequences, nothing can top this film's traumatizing roach motel death sequence. It might be the most horrific sequence in any film. Ever.
8. THE THING (Carpenter)
Both a paranoid-thriller, and an effects-laden sci-fi horror masterpiece. Halloween might remain the iconic Carpenter horror film, but while everyone remembers Jamie-Lee Curtis stuck in the closet, few people remember the sheer brilliance of this movie's defibrillator scene.
This movie might have inadvertently created a new genre of horror known as Torture-Porn, but the film's most frightening scene takes place in a locker room featuring nothing but two guys talking. There's an ample supply of breasts in addition to murders, and while the film plays a little unbalanced, it's guaranteed to generate some cheering once the real violence kicks in.
10. JACOBS LADDER
I almost didn't include this film on the list, mainly because the rather cerebral plot might not play well with a drunk crowd. Still, this film features some of the most frightening imagery I've ever seen in a film. The ending might piss everyone off, but none of them will forget the incredible gurney trip through the asylum-hell. If your there are more wine-drinkers than keg-standers at your party, this is a great choice.
Posted by andrew at 4:04 PM
Neal's take on my hometown
-The Big Lebowski
There is a pioneering spirit there that stems from the reason people went out
there in the first place-to find something new.
Franklin Avenue is at it again with this year's The Great Los Angeles Walk. This years route will be Santa Monica Blvd from start to finish including some Sunset Blvd. & Cesar Chavez which goes through 4 cities. That's 18 miles folks.
Last year it was Pico Blvd. so we had no choice. This year I actually want to do it. I'm not very bright.
Nov. 22 - 9am