Monthly Archives: December 2008

Enya: “And Winter Came…”

OK, I know I can’t be the only Enya lover out there…I mean, the woman has four Grammy’s and an Oscar Nomination for God’s sake. But in our circle of friends and family (barring my Grandma Romero and my Dad), I am the only hard-core lover of all things Enya.

It’s not that Christine doesn’t appreciate some fine Celtic songsmithery now and again, because she does, but, for some reason…she’s just not that into Enya. Sad, huh? All I know is that before our little girl arrives on March 8th, my goal is to have her hooked on Enya…big time!

Enya "And Winter Came" #1

Seriously, I’ve been blasting those New Age Irish jams in the general direction of Christine’s belly every chance I get. And though our baby girl had no reaction to speak of when I played her Enya’s dreamy 2005 release “Amarantine”, she did kick up a storm to Elvis a few nights later. So…I have the sinking feeling she shares her mother’s feelings towards my beloved songbird.

Either way, Enya has a new CD out this year and for New Age Christmas music fans, it’s a doozy! Yep, that’s right, she may have put out a couple of holiday singles over the years, but 2008 marks the first time the fair maiden from Gweedore, County Donegal has released a full-fledged Christmas album.

And lemme tell ya, this record delivers on all fronts. Casual fans will love it, Enya haters will gag on their eggnog and true, dyed-in-the-wool Enya lovers from way back will be in weepy tune heaven. Seriously, there are some beautiful, shimmery Christmas jams here, amigos. Really lovely stuff…

Enya "And Winter Came" #3

Enya "And Winter Came" #2

Working once again with longtime-producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan, Enya belts out some amazing songs here, and even if they weren’t composed in the haunting Loxian language Roma Ryan and Enya invented for “Amarantine”, they do the trick. I mean, hey, if you dig the music, does it really matter what language the gal is singing in? Hell no!

So, if you’re in the mood for some sweet, Middle-earth-friendly Christmas tunes, pick this album up, pronto. I promise you, it’ll be the talk of the Shire…every Hobbit you know will be dying to burn it off you.

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“Olive, the Other Reindeer” Pop-Up Advent Calendar

Christine and I got this rocking advent calendar as a gift last Christmas and have seriously been counting down the days till we could use it. So, even though we haven’t mailed a single Christmas card yet and just put up our beautiful, fake tree last night, we eagerly cracked open our “Olive, the Other Reindeer” Pop-Up Advent Calendar at the stroke of midnight on December 1st! Yay!

Olive Advent Calendar #1

Unlike other advent calendars, where you gradually build towards something cool on Christmas day, this Olive calendar is fun the minute you crack it open. Vivid, colorful, and just as insanely cool as the illustrations in the kick-ass book by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, the moment you break the seal, the pop-up calendar unfolds into a beautiful Santa’s Castle scene.

And if you thought the book and super cute, animated movie were packed with cool characters and imagery, the 3D version of the story is even more fun.

Not only are the little paper characters almost painfully cute, but the details seriously rock! Aside from a helicopter landing pad on the ceiling of one of the buildings, there is a little workshop for the elves under one roof and a reindeer barn under another…awesome!

Olive Advent Calendar #2

Olive Advent Calendar #3

So, while I know it’s too late to pick one up for this year, I highly recommend snapping up an Olive advent calendar now for use in December, 2009. And if you have kids, forget about it, they’ll love it!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we haven’t figured out how to put the little paper people back in their number slots for next year, so, this might be a one-time-use advent calendar…but, either way, it rocks!

Go, Olive!

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“Last Chance Harvey”

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Christine and I see lots of movies this time of year — at last count we’ve seen 16 since Halloween, crazy! — and though most of them are awesome and totally award-worthy, they are also almost uniformly serious. So, when we see a funny, well-made romantic comedy this time of year, they usually stand out…big time.

One such movie from year’s past was “Miss Congeniality” — which we still love, despite the constant heckling from our friend’s Matt and Wan — and this year’s stand-out is the sparkling romantic comedy, “Last Chance Harvey”.

"Last Chance Harvey" #1

Starring Dustin Hoffman and a luminous Emma Thompson — seriously, beneath her frumpy, every-woman costumes, Thompson has star power to burn in this flick! — the bulk of “Last Chance Harvey” takes place over a 24-hour period in a beautifully-shot London, England.

I know it’s kind of cliche to say that “the city itself is a character” in a movie, but, I swear to God, London has never looked more vibrant and sunny than it does here. Even if you’re not big old UK geeks like us, this movie will make you want to visit London like never before. All burnished orange sunsets and crisp, yellow foliage, merry old England looks absolutely gorgeous here!

And the performances in “Harvey” are just as lovely and delicate as the setting. Playing two of the saddest, loneliest characters ever put to screen, Hoffman and Thompson are pitch-perfect as the star-crossed couple who “meet cute” and then spend the rest of the movie literally walking and talking around London.

I know, could be a total snoozefest, right? Well, trust me, it’s not. Working at the top of their game from a touching, often-hilarious script by director Joel Hopkins, the stars imbue every word they say with a depth and longing that is positively heartbreaking.

"Last Chance Harvey" #2

"Last Chance Harvey" #3

And that music…wow…the score, by composer Dickon Hinchcliffe, calls to mind the gloriously giddy work of Badly Drawn Boy’s killer “About a Boy” soundtrack. If you haven’t heard that score, or seen that movie, stop reading now and rent them both. Amazing!

But, back to “Harvey”. While on the surface it may sound like your classic boy-meets-girl romantic comedy, in reality what the filmmaker’s have crafted here is a wistful, Baby Boomer “Before Sunrise”. And if you knew how much Christine and I loved “Sunrise” and it’s arguably-better sequel “Before Sunset”, you know that is high praise indeed, amigos. Those movies were all about character and dialog and they made you laugh as much as they sometimes tore your heart out. Well, same thing goes for “Harvey”…this movie rocks!

So, if you’re looking for some holiday cheer this season, skip the bloated “Benjamin Button” and see “Last Chance Harvey” instead. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and, hand to God, you’ll walk out of that theatre smiling…

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Christmas Wishes on KOST FM

OK, I know I sound like a broken record going on and on about the all-Christmas playlist at KOST 103.5, but, seriously, the only thing Christine and I love more than their non-stop Christmas jams are the sad-ass Christmas Wishes that the station grants their listeners every holiday season.

I’ve never called in a wish myself, but it works like this: from Thanksgiving through Christmas day, anyone with a hard luck story and a truly dramatic Christmas Wish can call into KOST at 818-520-2035 and possibly have their wish granted on the air. I know, awesome, right? And as gratifying as it probably is to have your wishes granted by the big-hearted DJ’s at KOST, listening to those teary-eyed phone calls is even better!

Christmas Wishes on KOST FM #2

Christmas Wishes on KOST FM

I swear to God, the stories these people tell will break your heart. And if the wishes don’t move you, than Michael Gore’s classic “Terms of Endearment” theme, which they play in the background during every segment, surely will.

I can’t tell you how many times Christine and I have sat in the car openly weeping to these sobby Christmas Wish segments. And from what we’ve gathered from our many KOST FM-loving friends and family in the Southland, we are not alone.

A favorite wish of ours from a couple year’s back was from the Grandmother who’s grandchild’s bedroom had been infected with toxic mold. Not only was her grandchild sick from the mold, but all of her favorite books and toys were ruined. Like they always do, KOST swept in with a whopping triple digit gift card from Target to replace everything and give that family back their Christmas. So cool!

And while most of the calls involve someone wanting airfare to visit a sick relative or something like that, two of our favorites this year involved something much more simple…

The first was from a woman who’s mother recently passed away. Her sister is the sole caregiver for their ailing father and since they have no money for extras of any kind this year, the woman drives a totally beat-up car with crappy tires. So, the Christmas Wish this lady asks for are new tires for her sister’s car so she can drive Dad to his doctor’s appointments. OMG…I was blubbering so hard I couldn’t even hear everything that KOST offered this poor woman. Sad!!

But, the best one I’ve heard so far this season came from an emotional gentlemen named Rick whose wife is dying of stage four breast cancer. Already, that’s enough to make anyone cry…but rather than one last trip around the world or a fancy vacation, all Rick wanted for his beautiful, long-suffering wife was a new mattress so she could sleep better at night. Gulp…

If I wasn’t crying so hard, I woulda called in and offered to buy that dude a mattress myself. Seriously, what a tearjerker! And, as always, KOST was quick to grant Rick’s wish with a fluffy new mattress from Living Spaces. You go, KOST!

If you’d like to hear some of these touching and insanely-sad Christmas Wishes yourself, check out the live internet feed here. I can’t get it to play on my Mac, but, since every radio in the house is tuned to KOST right now, it’s not a problem. Happy listening, amigos…

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Bettie Page (1923-2008)

You’ve probably already heard the news by now, but, after being hospitalized earlier this week with pneumonia, 1950’s pin-up queen Bettie Page died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 85. Now, I’m not the world’s foremost authority on Miss Bettie Page, but all I know is that every cool girl at Harbor High School wanted to be her and every dude I knew wanted to, well, let’s just say “date” her.

Bettie Page #1

Though she gave up her modeling and acting career in the late fifties, Page’s ginormous resurgence in the 1980’s coincided with my teenage years and let me tell ya, she made a huge impact on me and my brother. Aside from her obvious physical “gifts”, the thing we really dug about Page is that she was so freaking “girl next door” cute.

Even in her most lurid bondage pics Page had that cutie pie smile that told you she was in on the joke and that as soon as she finished spanking or whipping her playmate on the couch she was gonna cook you up a mean meatloaf or something. And best of all, Page was a real woman, with real curves, who looked like she enjoyed the car-hop window at Bob’s Big Boy almost as much as I do. Seriously…how could I not love the woman?

Like I said above, I don’t know much about Page’s personal life — and no, I haven’t seen that “Notorious Bettie Page” biopic, but that’s mostly because I can only stomach Gretchen Mol in very small doses — so, maybe Page’s life off-camera was a train wreck. But based on her iconic pics, I gotta say, the lady had it going on, big time.

And if I had a nickel for every hip, rockabilly chick in high school and college who stole Bettie’s style, well, shit, I’d have a lot of frigging nickels. Simply put, if Greta Garbo was “The Face” of the 20th Century, then you can bet your ass that good old, cornfed Bettie Page was “The Bod”.

Rest in peace, Bettie Page, we’ll miss you…

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2009 Golden Globe Nominees

Barring any last-minute drama by the fractured Screen Actors Guild — who just announced that they are presenting a strike authorization vote to their membership on January 2nd — this year’s Golden Globe Awards should play out a little better than last year’s lame, strike-addled affair.

Seriously, ask anyone who sat through last year’s Golden Globe “press conference” and they’ll you that that thing was a total disaster. If I never have to sit through Mary Hart and the rest of those old leathery gasbags reading names off a list again, I’ll die a very happy man indeed. Yikes…

"Rachel Getting Married" #1

"Rachel Getting Married" #2

But…I digress. This year’s crop of nominees are a pretty cool bunch. Sure, there are way too many nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Burn After Reading” (which we both kinda loathed), but I was seriously stoked to see “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Frost/Nixon” and “Milk” sneak in there in some pretty major categories. Those movies rocked hard, so, congrats to everyone involved.

Was really bummed to see Rosemarie DeWitt overlooked for her heartbreaking turn as Globe-nominee Anne Hathaway’s sister in “Rachel Getting Married”. Sure, Hathaway had all the big, “crazy girl makes a scene” moments in the movie, but DeWitt, playing the good, normal sister, stole every scene she was in. So, this is a huge oversight in my book.

I was stoked to see James Franco nominated for “Pineapple Express”. We haven’t seen the movie yet, but he kicked ass in “Milk”, so I’m rooting for him! And to have practically the entire cast of “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” score acting nominations is kind of awesome too. Especially that dreamy Rebecca Hall, who is almost supernaturally hot in both “Vicki Cristina” and “Frost/Nixon”. Yowza!

Penelope Cruz in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Seth Rogen and James Franco in "Pineapple Express"

But I think the thing I’m most upset about today is Anna Faris being totally shut out for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy forĀ  “The House Bunny”. Laugh if you must, but Faris was hilarious in the kind of role that category was made for! For shame, Hollywood Foreign Press, for shame…

And finally, speaking of “The House Bunny”, I’m also very glad to know that poor, beleaguered Rumer Willis will finally get to fulfill her long-delayed role as Miss Golden Globes at this year’s show. You go, Rumer!

To see a complete list of all this year’s nominees click here.

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“Not Forgotten” to premiere at Slamdance Film Festival

Found out earlier today, just hours before a rocking cast and crew screening at Raleigh Studios, that my movie “Not Forgotten” will have it’s world premiere at this January’s Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Yay!

Long considered sort of the spunky, younger sibling of the Sundance Film Festival — which is also held in Park City every January — Slamdance has come into it’s own in the past couple of years and is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year with all sorts of special events and screenings.

"Not Forgotten" movie poster #2

And, as luck would have it, “Not Forgotten” is going to premiere at one of those special screenings on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. As you probably know by now, the movie stars Simon Baker (“The Mentalist”), Paz Vega (“Spanglish” and the upcoming “The Spirit”), Claire Forlani (“Meet Joe Black”), Chloe Moretz (“Dirty Sexy Money”), Ken Davitian (“Borat”) and a slew of other cool actors. I’m not sure who all is coming out for the premiere, but it should be fun!

Christine and I haven’t started making travel plans yet — still kind of reeling from the shock of it all, I guess — but I will be attending the Festival for sure. In fact, I’ve already agreed to speak at a Screenwriting Fireside Chat sponsored by the WGA’s Indie Film Department, on January 20th at noon. Crazy, huh? I guess no one else was available to speak that day…ha!

Sadly, Christine might not be able to fly out for the Festival — she will be well into her third trimester by then, so, our doctor may put the kibosh on travel plans — but I will be there in my snowy weather finest. So, if you happen to be in Utah in January, come on down to Slamdance, amigos!

To see a full list of the movies screening at Slamdance this year, click here. And if you wanna check out the groovy new “Not Forgotten” website, click here.

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