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Hipstercrite: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teach Me to Love Location-Based Social Networking, Please

Being on the computer for more hours than I am not in a day, I'd like to think...whoa, wait. Is that true? Am I really on the computer more hours than I am not? Holy shit. Wow, I need to assess this... but not right now. I'm not sure if you want to see me having an awkward lecture with myself right now. I notice that when I do such things in public, it makes people uncomfortable.

So, being on the computer an ass ton, I'd like to think that I'm pretty Internet savvy. I tweet the living shit out of everything and turned into one of those assholes who has over 1000 friends on Facebook for no reason. I kind of use LinkedIn, I enjoyed StumbleUpon for about 5 minutes, and I'd like to start a Kickstarter page to fund production on my screenplay about a family of Jewish chimpanzees who start a yoga studio in Minneapolis.

However, there is one social media platform that I just haven't warmed up to and that is location-based social networking.

What's the big dealio, yo? Do people really like making announcements about every freakin' place that they go to? "Lauren Modery- is crouching behind a dumpster at Whataburger" or "Lauren Modery- is taking a dump at her house."  Do people really need to know what the hell I'm doing every day? I know I certainly don't care that you just checked into another bar to drink your life away or checked into some hoity toity restaurant for the sole purpose to announce to everyone on your social media profiles that you checked into a hoity toity restaurant.

Now let me start by saying that I'm not knocking location-based social netowrking. One of the pioneers of said medium is based in Austin and I have mad props for them and the folks who work there. Though I may not understand what you do, I do respect your innovation and ambition.

I guess I'm just like my 84 year-old Grandma who doesn't understand these "newfangled thingy-ma-jigs" that are taking over the Internet. Shit, I felt like a huuuuge loser during SXSW wandering through lines and crowds of people waiting to get into the hot location-based social networking events. I overheard people talking about special "badges" they could collect during SXSW and my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with what everyone is doing. In that case, I understand the purpose of location-based social networking. We're all at a huge event and it's easy to keep tabs on each other this way. However, outside of the SXSWs or other major events and festivals, what the heck is the point? I certainly don't feel comfortable announcing to people on my social media profiles- some who I may or may not know- that I'm getting $2 fish tacos at Quality Seafood. I feel like I'm saying, "Hey, for potentially becoming "mayor" of this fine establishment, I'd like to encourage you to break into my house because I am not there right now. Feelings of grandeur or losing all of my valuables? I think I know which one wins!"

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm getting old and cranky and burnt out on all this social media stuff (says the person who has tweeted over 8,500 times). Is it me? What am I missing? Tell me! I want to know!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inspire Me: 5 Ways to Beat Writer's Block

obligatory cheesy stock photo....ha, like people still use pen and paper
I just can't do it.
There is nothing to come out of me. The experiences that I drew inspiration from have been over-talked, over-analyzed and are simply dried up.
I don't dream of Los Angeles anymore. I don't lament in my twenty-something confusion anymore.
I simply live a normal and happy life in Austin, Texas.
This should be something that one can take inspiration from, right? A well-adjusted, healthy, and drama-free life?
Then why do I have writer's block?

When these sort of times occur in my life, I try to recall a number of steps that help me get out of my rut. Though simple, the exercises below are sure-fire ways to help...and I probably won't do any of them.

1.) Travel- From the act of getting somewhere to the people and places you see along the way, traveling is always a great way to inspire creativity. Not only do I feel mentally and physically better after getting out of my daily surroundings, but words and stories start circling my head and I can't wait to get to a computer. If you can't take a vacation, then get the hell out of town for the weekend. Get lost. Drive to somewhere you've never been. Some of my favorite writing was born out of traveling- my drive from Los Angeles to Austin, road trips through West Texas & New Mexico and the Oregon Coast with my mother, and my stint in Chicago. Hell, my trip to Chicago to work for 6 weeks on a TV pilot creatively inspired me so much that I ended up quitting my job in the film business and relocating to Austin. That's the power of travel. New places create new narratives.

2.) Read- If traveling is not doable in the foreseeable future, then take yourself to another time & place via literature is the next best thing. Not only will reading introduce to new people, places and ideas, but will help you exercise your grammar and spelling skills. I try to read often, but I don't nearly enough. I typically find that after I read a book, even for a little bit, what I write subsequently is instantly stronger. When I read David Sedaris or Sloane Crosley, I find that my humor is better. After reading a Bret Easton Ellis book, my writing is stark, symbolic, and romantic. There is a reason why literacy is important and we should all be better at taking time to read. 

3.) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone- Like sleep overnight in a homeless shelter or drive to the Mexican border at 2AM. Though I don't encourage you to do anything that will cost you your life, I've discovered that harrowing or uncomfortable moments create great storytelling. For me, renting a raw loft in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles kept me lying awake at night in a cold sweat and to deal with my terrors I sat in bed and wrote. Though I would never make the same mistake again, mistakes are made for a reason, and more often then not that is where some of the best writing comes from. Lessons. Without experience where are you as a writer?

4.) Join a Writers' Group- A writers' group is a great way to stay committed, have support and a second pair of eyes. Most large cities have writers' groups of various kinds. In Austin, you can find writers' group listing in the back of the Austin Chronicle. Craigslist might also be a good place. My best girlfriend in LA heads a screenwriter's group and though it sounds very strict and disciplined, it's exactly what some writers need. I know that if I had people every week who expected something from me I might be more prone to finishing my writing goals. Not only are you expected to keep up with your own writing, but you will have to read and give feedback to others. This is a great way to compare and evaluate how others write and what they are writing. Though writing is often a solitary experience, we often forget what the support and encouragement of others can do.

5.) Eliminate fear- Fear is probably the number one reason why people don't write. I realized that I often don't write because I feel that I have nothing interesting to say (ex. the intro to this post) or that my writing seems sloppy or forced on a particular day. I also don't feel strong grammatically yet or that my sentences aren't flowy and poetic enough. Or that I'm just a hack and that everyone will eventually point out my hackness. Truth be told, some of the posts that I hated writing and thought were crap ended up being some of people's favorites. In other words- don't trust your own instincts. They might be wrong because of fear. Don't let fear take over your dreams. The ones that succeed are the ones that keep trying.

What are your steps to getting rid of writer's block?

Monday, March 28, 2011

You Can't Take a Picture, It's Already Gone.

The best way to begin your transformation into a masochist is by watching the last season of Six Feet Under more than once.

No creation on this planet simultaneously enlightens and destroys you quite like that show did.

I can pretty much attribute my whole weekend being shot to watching those twelve snot bubble-inducing episodes.

I knew what I was in for. I watched the whole series a few years back and recalled that I was completely immobile for two hours after viewing the series finale. A lead weight on the couch, screaming, bawling, unwilling to speak to anyone or move. My appetite was gone and all I wanted to do was stay curled up and die and join everyone in heaven. I had just lost like 8 people I had really gotten to know well and felt like shit.

I decided that I wanted to lose them all over again this weekend.

My mother kept calling me this weekend wondering why she hadn't heard from me, "Where did you disappear to?" she asked.

"I'm watching a show! I'll call you back!"

"Are you crying?"

"No! Leave me alone!"

My mother has never seen the show so there is no way that she and I can hold a conversation during or after a viewing of the last season of Six Feet Under. It's impossible. Someone who has never seen the show will not understand the extreme loss you just went through.

Upon my second viewing this weekend, a facet of the show struck me for the first time. I never particularly liked Claire. I mean, who did? She was a whiny, selfish, immature bitch. However, the final scene where Claire says goodbye to her family and drives off to New York, to her future, to begin her life with no idea what is in store, really struck a chord with me. 

I thought, "I had that drive! I had that drive where I was starting my life!" But instead of a Prius and Sia and flashes of the deaths of me and everyone I know, I was blissfully driving my 1997 Ford Taurus on route 40 from the East Coast to California. In fact, I didn't know at the time that my epic drive from childhood into adulthood was just that. I was simply driving my car across country for a college semester away in LA. Little did I know that within those four months I would be offered a job in LA that would keep me there. If I had known that, my drive would have been more romantic to say the least. There were tears, but mostly a sense of excitement for what the semester would hold for me. When I was offered the job I left the car in LA, flew home for a couple of weeks, and went through the protocol of telling college, boyfriend, and friends that I was leaving New York. That farewell came in the form of a flight back to LA and I'm sure it was difficult. So difficult that I've completely forgotten it. No poetic or flowery recollections of those final moments that I said goodbye to the two most important people in my life- my mother and grandmother- and relocated to the second largest city in America where I knew no one. Completely forgot the moments of that significant part of my life.

I mean, I'm sure I can make it up if and when I ever need to write about it- "And as they called boarding for my flight that would take me thousands of miles away from the only life I ever knew, I held my mother and grandmother as if it were to be for the last time. My mother's warm tears fell onto my bare shoulders- the shoulders already supporting a tank top in anticipation of the Southern California breeze- far, far away from the frigidness of New York. I let my body become fully aware of this moment- the weight of my loved ones' bodies against my own, the stiff wisp of my grandmother's sprayed hair against my cheek, the gurgle of phlegm building up in my mother's throat- and pretended that for a moment this was all just a movie."

The second most important road trip in my life came in the form of my move from Los Angeles to Austin. This trip I remember. This trip I romanticized. This trip I documented. It's because that was all I could do. When I was moving to LA, I was going for a job. The excitement overshadowed any creative objectivity I could have had at the time. When I moved to Austin, I had nothing- no job, no friends- the only thing I had was my creativity. I was moving to Austin for it. I had reclaimed it from the toothy grip of Los Angeles and ran far away. That trip I believed I was living a television show. I had my soundtrack, I had my forced narrative, and my longing gazes outside the window onto the southwest landscape. This trip may have stuck with me more because I wasn't leaving my family, I was leaving something bad in search of something good.

Here is to hoping that other significant moments in my life come in the form of other road trips. I should probably keep an emergency CD of twelve tracks of Sia's "Breathe Me" in the car.

Did you watch Six Feet Under? Did significant life moments for you come in the form of road trips? Did you romanticize them?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Elton John- My Lover

Today is Elton John's birthday.

I remember this because there was a time- a very long time ago- when I would fantasize about that man on a daily basis.

And when I say "fantasize", I mean exactly that.

I even wrote an essay about it- "Discovering Your Sexuality Through Hairy Gay Men".

Elton John happened to be the dude I fixated on when my hormones were ragin' and my nose was growing disproportionately to my head.

This maybe explains a lot about who I am.

Or at least I'd like to think that it does?

Or maybe I'm desperately hoping that it does...?

So in honor of that sexy pile of pasty man dough, I'm reposting my little love letter to Sir Elton John.


Remember that age when you started discovering your sexuality?

That awkward, dreadful time when you didn't understand why your male friends suddenly felt the urge to show you their penises while you were trying to reenact "X-files" episodes in the basement of your house, or why you got that funny feeling when you climbed the rope in gym? When classmates started throwing around the words "pink", "taco", "tossing" and "salad" and you still thought they were talking about food, and your class president got detention for receiving something called a "blow job" on the 8th grade school trip to D.C.?

Then there you were. Clueless and wearing a sports bra. Fantasizing over a picture of a shirtless Elton John from 1972 hanging above your bed.

I wish I could say it was 1972 when I would gawk at said picture. That would make a little more sense.

I guess?

However, it was 1997. While all my friends carried pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio and Gavin Rossdale in their text books, I licked my lips over a twenty-five year old image of pudgy, gay piano-player.
Elton walked with me hand-in-hand through the threshold of Puberland.

We all know what Elton John looks like, but I'm going to paint you a portrait anyways. Here was a picture of quite possibly one of the most flamboyantly gay performers in history of the world with a pasty, doughy body covered in what looks like bear fur, standing in his shoe closet, wearing glittery high-waisted pants with suspenders and no shirt. He had a shit-eating grinning on his face as he showed off his favorite pair of bejeweled platform shoes.

I was transfixed. At thirteen years old, I thought this was what my future husband was to look like.

I have mostly likely sealed my fate by marrying a closeted homosexual who enjoys collecting shoes and Bedazzling his clothing.

Anyways, I just tried Googling "shirtless Elton John" and "Elton John with no shirt", but I'm guessing that's not a popular search item. In fact, the only images that come up are pictures of people one should normally lust after like, Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.

...Gosh, I really wish I had that picture right now...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lionel Won't Stop Buying Ice Cream

Grandma doing her most favorite thing in the world- slapping Lionel

: I now have what you call "muffins".

Me: What?

Grandma: My stomach is blubbery and turned into muffins.

Me: Do you mean a "muffin top"? You have a muffin top?

Grandma: Yes, I have muffins.

I speak to my grandmother almost every day and typically an exchange like the one above happens every time I talk to her. Our conversations are never boring. My favorite is when she asked me how my "blah" was doing. You know, that thing I'm writing this post on right now? I'm extremely close to my grandmother and the past few months have been challenging for all of us. She broke her back in multiple places and refused to take painkillers and her live-in boyfriend of twelve years, Lionel, is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. The excruciating pain mixed with Grandma's belief that Lionel is acting forgetful to spite her made her a raging bitch for awhile. Now the pain has subsided and she can walk vertically, but Lionel's Alzheimer's is not getting better. I guess we all secretly think it will stop or regress and we're constantly surprised when it gets a little worse.

Lionel won't stop buying ice cream.

Grandma will send him to the grocery store one mile away to pick up milk or broccoli and he'll come back three hours later with three gallons of ice cream and nothing else.

"I can't fit anything else in my freezer!" my grandma explains to me. "It's full of ice cream!"

Recently, Grandma sent Lionel to the store to buy potatoes and he came back with a pumpkin pie. Sweets make Lionel happy and he eats them all of the time. He also sleeps all of the time. Needless to say Lionel is getting F-A-T.

I asked Grandma if Lionel is depressed and she says that when she asks Lionel if he's depressed, he says "no". However, the doctors say he'll get depressed. And he'll get frustrated. And he'll get angry. And he'll get confused.

And all of those things have happened.

"You should have heard him swearing at me earlier today!" my grandmother tells me. "He sounded like a sailor! You sounded like a sailor, Lionel!"

I hear the familiar baritone of Lionel's laughter in the background.

When I talk to Lionel on the phone he seems happy. Truthfully, he sounds 100% normal. The only way I know something is wrong is when my grandmother tells me he drives across the street, parks his car in the church parking lot and falls asleep on a near daily basis. Or when he goes to the dry cleaners around the corner and comes back at 6:30PM at night. Or when the doctors tell my grandmother it's only going to get worse and there will come a point where she can't take care of him anymore.

Yesterday, my mother told me that Lionel's five sons are talking about putting him in a home. The oldest and wealthiest son wants to put Lionel in a home close to him in Vermont- where our fear is that few will come to visit Lionel. Lionel's two adopted sons want to put him in a home in central New York which is close to everyone (two sons in Vermont, one son in Boston, one in Syracuse, one in New Jersey and my family in central New York). The adopted sons don't even want to put him in a home, but they understand that the time to do so is getting closer. I don't think any of us have come to terms with the idea yet. Yes, Lionel was a huge pain in the ass before he got ill and yes, my family (Grandma included) never really liked Lionel, but we grew to love him. Though life without Lionel will be easier, it will not be as full...and I'm dreading the day he won't recognize any of us.

If you want to get to know Grandma and Lionel, watch a video I made about them here.

Have you had personal experiences with Alzheimer's?


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I've Become Scared of My Own Shadow

Lately I've had this growing illogical fear that every single evening someone is trying to break into my house.

Every single night.

Typically around 4AM.

I guess that would make it morning then? 4AM is that ungodly time that really deserves it's own time of day. It's the gateway from night into morning. It's dark and ominous and you most likely won't hear a soul except for the psychopath hiding outside your window. My window. He likes to hang out there and tap melodies on the pane and dance on dead leaves. He's a pretty bad dancer from what I can tell, but are psychopaths ever really good dancers?

This fear has begun effecting my life greatly. My sleeping patterns have become distressed and I often wake up to my heart pounding through my chest. Recently I even found myself standing on the street corner in my silk robe dialing 911 in one hand and brandishing an Ikea paring knife and Swiffer mop in the other. That evening I was absolutely convinced someone was in my house and I understood that the Swiffer mop wouldn't save me and I had to flee. I've retired the Swiffer mop since, but the paring knife still sleeps alongside me at night. And a crosseyed baby doll. I figure that if I were to wake to someone walking into my room, I can throw said baby at their face and stun them just long enough to escape.

There was also a recent occurrence where I called my special gentleman friend at 5AM and asked him to come over because I heard "someone" in the backyard. Neither scenario provided any clues that a human being was in or around the house. In fact, both times it was clear that a large animal- say, a possum or raccoon- made the noise but to me it can only be the sound of a serial killer who recently escaped from prison.

In the past week, I've twice found myself startled by my own shadow. Startled meaning jumped two feet into the air, grabbed at my chest, and ran to the bathroom before I pissed all over myself.

I've had to ask myself where this fear comes from. The near paralysis I feel as my imagination runs wild is reminiscent of my fears as a child. However, instead of logical fears like an axe-wielding clown standing outside my window, I used to be terrified of violent ghosts lurking in my house. I would lie awake for hours sweating and panting as every creak of the house meant impending death by a disgruntled spirit pissed that their spouse hacked their head off. I thought I outgrew those night anxieties when I stopped reading ghost stories, but it appears that an iota of such worries still lurks deep within. Even when I lived in Los Angeles- a city where a person a day is murdered- I wasn't as scared as I am now. In LA, I was just a number. One of millions of people sleeping in a tiny box they call an apartment. It was impossible for anyone to single me out and most houses and apartments in LA have bars on the windows. So why is it that in Austin- a town known for being one of the safest cities in America- makes me so shit-my-pants scared?

I'm guessing it may have something to do with the fact that the house had been broken into before. Or that I'm constantly followed in my neighborhood by men who think I'm a prostitute even though I'm wearing baggy sweatpants, sweatshirt, and am doing my best to walk like a man. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I live next to a straight-from-prison men's halfway home. Or that my car was recently broken into. Or that you can see through the floorboards in my house. Or that there is so much fucking evil going on in the world.
I'm not sure...

Regardless of the facts below, I need to stop being a pussy, throw away the paring knife and start taking control of my fears. What happened to the girl that rented a loft in Los Angeles' Skid Row that was inhabited by rats, cockroaches, and shared a parking lot with dozens of homeless people? What happened to the girl that wanted to sleep overnight in a shelter in South Central? What happened to the girl that liked to get lost in strange neighborhoods so she could learn more about them? She's curled up in her bed with clenched fists and a pool of sweat condensing on her neck. Where did my fearlessness go and how do I get it back?

Are you a pussy like me and get scared of your own shadow at night?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 6 Dumbass Band Names

SXSW is a good time to sit back and reflect on all the dumbass band names that people come up with.

Oh, and there are a lot of them.

Take for instance the SXSW crowd favorite Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All.

What does this mean!? It's not even a dark and brooding sentence like most ridiculous band names. It's like they did the old Bowie trick and put some words into a hat. What's so odd about the future, huh? And why does Mozart have to be wrangled in to your poor naming skills? Leave him alone! And don't go making him killing everybody! Mozart was a good man. He wrote 'The Magic Flute' and I kind of like it.

I will not listen to this band purely based off of their name. There. You lost a potential listener due to your inability to come up with a winning band name (absolutely not a Charlie Sheen reference). Same goes for most of these bands below. Your band names suck and here is why....

Tell me your favorite dumbass band name!

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (or CYHSY)
Where the name came from: According to this LAist article, the band was performing in Brooklyn and had no name, so they did what any intelligent hipster set would do and scoured the bathroom walls for inspiration. So in other words, some other asshole came up with the sentence "clap your hands say yeah" and these guys stole it. Sounds like the typical hipster code of ethics: find something irreverent, witty, and/or weird that you did not come up with and make it your own.

Why it's dumbass: This will be the first of two bands that has the word "yeah" in the name. Why is "yeah" such a popular word? It's not even a good word. Why not 'Clap Your Hands Say, Aye!' or 'Clap Your Hands Say, Indeed!' I like those band names much better. Also, maybe I don't want to clap my hands to your music. Maybe I just think you're a total ripoff of David Byrne. Maybe you should change your band name to "Clap Your Hands If You Think I Sound Like David Byrne, Because I Do....Yeah!"

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead (or Trail of Dead or ...AYWKUBTTOD...or not)
Where the name came from: Wikipedia says that the name comes from a Mayan chant. It also says it's similar to an Egyptian chant. It also says it's a joke. Whichever one it is, they all blow hard. Not that Mayan or Egyptian chants blow. In fact, they're kind of cool, but assuming a phrase that implies you leave heaping mounds of rotting flesh wherever you go is lame. I'm not even sure you leave a trail of happy listeners?

Why it's dumbass: Why are so many sentence band names super dark? I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, This Will Destroy You, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, These Arms Are Snakes... do you want us to feel like shit before we even listen to you? I'd like to point out the completely unnecessary use of the ellipsis and the fact that this band is ten words long. The word "unnecessary" seems to be a common theme in most of these band names. Also, the acronym looks like a dyslexic rephrasing of the sentence "awkward butt wad'.

Does it Offend You, Yeah? (or DIOY, Y?) recommended by Joel Buchanan
Where the name came from: Band member Dan Coop says that they took their name from the first things they heard when they turned on the television: Ricky Gervais saying, "Does it offend you, yeah? My drinking?" Dan Coop is also quoted as saying that he put zero thought into the band title. That is kind of obvious.

Why it's dumbass: Every time I hear this band name I think of shirtless Austin Powers rubbing his massive rug of chest hair and prodding the question. I don't like this visual. In fact, it kind of makes me scrunch up my face when thinking about it. I don't like a band asking me questions either. I just want to listen and enjoy- not worrying about whether or not I'm being offended. If you really want to know DIOY, Y?, then yes, your stupid ass band name not only offends me, but makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness (or ILYBICD)
Where the name came from: For SXSW last year, lead singer Chris Goyer states on Spinner, "I didn't come up with it. It's a full sentence that I think speaks for itself." I have no comment on this.

Why it's dumbass: Anyone who answers that question seriously needs to be taken out behind the barn. "It's a full sentence that I think speaks for itself." Yeah, it says that you're a raging douchebag, that is what. I must admit that at one point I thought your band name was kind of cute and clever, but after reading your answer, I'm like, "I've chosen darkness because you  made me go there with your stupid answer. Now I will have to leave a trail of dead. Does that offend you? Yeah? YEAH?!" The sad thing is, this is another band from Austin. Two bands from Austin made this list. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised...?

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (or SSLYBY) recommended by Jennifer Sinski
Where the name came from: Frontman Phillip Dickey told Spinner that they wanted a light and happy name and Boris Yeltsin was really getting dumped on by the media at the time, so they decided to combine happy with former Russian bureaucracy. If that is the formula for a good hipster band name, then my next band will be called, "I Will Have Your Baby, Putin".

Why it's dumbass: This has to be the most admirable of the dumbass band names. At least they're trying to lift the spirits of a fallen president. Dickey said that he felt bad for Yeltsin who was "disgraced and life was in ruins", but he thought somewhere in the world someone loves good ol' Boris. Well, Boris, wherever you are, a band from Missouri kind of likes you. Oh wait, you're dead, aren't you? Never mind.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor (or GY!BE)
Where the name came from: Wikipedia states that the band got their name from a 1970's Japanese black-and-white documentary by Mitsuo Yanagimachi about biker gangs. Of course they did. Again, following the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah rule of finding something clever that you did not come up with yourself and making it your own.

Why it's dumbass:  Because this sounds like a name my highly pretentious NYU film school graduate roommate would come up with. Everything about this band name screams, "I'm more cultured than you because I've actually seen a 1970's black-and-white Japanese documentary about biker gangs and you haven't!" Well, I hate to break it to you, Godspeed You!, but I've seen some Kurosawa films, yeah. So I see what you're getting at and I'm not impressed.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Rainbow Connection

Once in awhile someone comes along and creates a Muppets-themed cardboard window for your car. They do this because you attended a screening of their movie and while inside, someone broke into your car. They may have also done this because they like you. Maybe. And though you should call your car insurance provider and finally get a quote on how much this window is going to cost, a part of you doesn't want to give up the Muppet window. You like riding around with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie in the passenger seat. More importantly you like that he drew this for you one evening by the light of your cell phone.

If your car was broken into, what would you draw on your new cardboard window?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Characters of SXSW

Austin-based company Software Advice sent me an AWESOME sketch breakdown they did of the different archetypes one would see at SXSW. They're pretty spot-on. Here is a little snippet below, but you can check out the rest of their hilarious drawings here, or follow them on Twitter here, or 'like' their Facebook fan page here.

(Interactive) Aspiring Entrepreneur

“We’re Twitter meets Zynga with an API that transforms the social graph.”

He’s an alpha male in a beta body, rockin’ the hoodie and flip flops – just like Zuck. SXSW Interactive attracts a swarm of these php-smokin’, eager beavers. You’ll find him at “Business Model 101: How To Actually Make Money?,” but he wishes he was at the Android Developer Meetup. You’ll often find the PR Chick and the Venture Capitalist in hot pursuit – a stunning reversal of the social order that was in place during college, last year. At least one of these aspiring entrepreneurs will join the digital elite within a year. And OMG, you totally ordered a Bulleit on the Rocks next to him at the Mashable party.

(Film) Film Buff
“Source Code is amateur compared to Kick Ass!”

More ubiquitous than Austin’s bats, film buffs leave their Blueray caves and take flight during SXSW. You’ll find them queuing 300 deep at a Morgan Spurlock mockumentary, black coffee in one hand and Filmmaker Magazine in the other. They sport “FILM CRITIC” trucker hats over their greasy locks and stretch graphic tees over their bulging guts. You’ll spot the Film Buff at “New Tools for Filmmakers: Virtually Augmented 3.0 Reality.” Engage him, and he’ll battle you in obscure movie trivia. What Star Wars movie had the most lightsaber battles? He plans to debut his own film at next year’s SXSW, unless TBS airs a LOST marathon next week.

(Music) Hipster
“This bar is sooo over.”

It’s surprising that hipsters even attend SXSW, considering how mainstream it’s become. And yet, they can be found everywhere, donning their skinny jeans, deep-V’s, black-rimmed glasses, and handlebar moustaches. He will claim to care less, but he will run you over on his vintage fixie to get to that unofficial SXSW concert. Who’s playing? You’ve never heard of them, but the Hipster’s got ‘em on vinyl. To track the Hipster, follow the trail of empty PBRs and American Spirit butts. When SXSW ends, he’ll return to the obscure East Austin dive bar from whence they came.

Austin Purist
“Whatever, bro.”

Sporting baggy khakis, Rainbow sandals, and a “RELAX” t-shirt, the Austin purist blames YOU for ruining Austin. He’s been here the longest (but he’s originally from Houston). He remembers when Whole Foods was Safeway. He resents Film and Interactive. SXSW isn’t new to him, and you’re a loser for being interested. He’s better than you, but you wouldn’t know it at first glance. East of 35, he lives in a dilapidated ranch house, which he refused to sell to condo developers. The Purist will back his talk with action – or, rather, inaction. Rather than attend events, he’ll stick to his routine: propping his feet in front of the TV and covering up the smoke detector.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Best Part of SXSW Is...

My friend from college, Joe Nicolosi, is a super talented filmmaker. Everyone in Austin knows it, but now it looks like the world does too! Joe is the filmmaker behind the SXSW "film bumpers" you see before a screening. Truth be told, Joe's various bumpers are better than many of the movies this year. This guy has real talent and you should check out the video below. Within two days, his short video, Mario, went from 300 Youtube hits to over 300,000 and climbing! I have a feeling you'll be seeing more of this guy soon...


SXSW Adventures Continued: These Are the Daves I Know

So, the other night we hung out with Dave Foley again. He got us into the green room at the IFC SXSW venue and we hung out with Michael Ian Black, Aziz Ansari, and Thomas Lennon. I was too nervous to say anything to them. The evening then took us all over Austin where at any given time you could see me walking with my arm around Dave Foley, me slapping Dave Foley when he would say something insanely dirty, Dave Foley peeing on the side of a building, and Dave Foley lying down on the ground. Dave was stopped every five minutes with people literally freaking out when they recognized him. Dave got a wee bit tipsy and there is a good chance he may hate us now. It was quite the evening. Here are some snapshots.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey Into Making Me Cry Like a Child

If you want to transform an entire crowd of grown adults into a pile of giddy and gibbering children, show them the award-winning documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey.

Winner of the Sundance 2011 Special Jury Prize, this absolutely fantastic documentary follows the story of Kevin Clash- the man behind Elmo- and his humble beginnings from inner city kid to the voice of one of America's most beloved characters.

Think you'll be bored with this documentary? Well, you are thinking WRONG, my friend. I mean, we did all get a little Elmo'd out during the great Tickle Me Elmo Craze of 1996, however, this film makes you forget about Moms elbowing other Moms in the boobs while fighting for stuff animals. In fact, this film is so captivating that I missed the Pee-Wee Herman on Broadway screening at SXSW that I had been anxiously awaiting.

Kevin Clash grew up in the projects of Baltimore during the 1960's. Being the awesomely nerdy kid that he was, Kevin idolized Jim Henson. He spent much of his childhood making and performing with puppets- something that wasn't necessarily hip in inner-city Baltimore. However, Kevin didn't giving a flying patootie what other people thought and neither did his folks, who helped encourage and support their son's creativity and talent.

Kevin started to make a name for himself in high school where he performed one-man puppet shows for charities and hospitals. This caught the attention of a local producer who put the young man on the Baltimore cable access show, Caboose. At this point Kevin had dozens and dozens of hand made puppets lining the walls of his parent's house. Recognizing that her son could do something with his skills, Kevin's mother called Jim Henson's puppet creator and Santa Clause-lookalike, Kermit Love, and spoke of her son's knack for puppetry. Love was taken by the young man and gave him a standing invitation to visit the next time he was in New York City. The problem was, Kevin's family didn't have money to send him to NYC. Luckily enough, a high school field trip brought the young man to the city and Kevin broke away to meet his hero.

Kevin's enthusiasm left an impression on Kermit who helped him land a gig on the Sesame Street/Muppets float in the 1979 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. It was there that Kevin first met his idol- Jim Henson. Henson liked Kevin's pizazz and never forget him. After stints on Captain Kangaroo and The Great Space Coaster, Kevin was invited to perform on Sesame Street where he became a full-time puppeteer in 1984. Kevin also went on to be offered gigs on The Dark Crystal (a role he had to turn down due to his full-time work on two television shows) and Labyrinth (remember Chilly Down?).

Though Kevin was well-respected in the puppet world, his big break would occur the day that fellow Sesame Street colleague Richard Hunt threw a moppy red puppet onto his lap. Hunt had been performing Elmo for the past couple of years and didn't particularly like the character. He brought a rough, New York garbage man-approach to the puppet and it just wasn't working. Kevin played around with his voice and decided that a cute, child-like innocence would work better. And it did. The writers of Sesame Street became excited about Elmo and the character took off.

At this point in the documentary we shift from the historical chronology of Kevin and Elmo, to Kevin's own personal struggle with work and family. After the success of Elmo, Kevin found himself traveling all over the world and unable to spend time with his beloved daughter. Elmo brought so much joy to kids everywhere, yet the man behind the voice had no time for his own daughter. Now that Kevin has been in the business for 30 years, he's calling his own shots and has arguably earned his spot in puppet history next to the idols of his youth.

I sat next to an elderly woman during the screening who was dabbing away tears as much as I was. At many points throughout the movie she and others applauded the man we were watching on the screen. Being Elmo has that effect on people. You want to stand up and cheer for the kid who had a dream and achieved it and for the man who brings joy to millions of people world-wide. I left the screening feeling inspired. Recalling the memories and joy that Sesame Street and The Muppets brought and continue to bring me mixed with my own recollection of how my mother encouraged and supported my quirks and skills as a child made this screening more than just an enjoyable experience. It reminded me that there are so many talented and good people in this world and I'm so happy that man who has been forced to hide behind a mound of red fur and googly eyes has finally had his true voice heard.

Kevin Clash was at the screening and he brought Elmo...and I had to leave in order to make it to the Pee-Wee Herman screening that I never made. I'm so disappointed that I didn't get to see Elmo in action, but I have wonderful memories of this documentary lingering in my thoughts. Director Constance A. Marks and her talented crew did an excellent job of telling Kevin's story. I highly recommend this film. The next screening will be at the Dallas International Film Festival March 31st-April 2nd.


Monday, March 14, 2011

I Like SXSW Because it Brings Me Closer to My Idols

I can't get over at how much around this time Austin looks like LA. As I was sitting in a cafe downtown waiting to hook up with my publicist friend at the party for his client, Edgar Wright, and watched all the people in fancy clothing waiting in lines, I thought, "I'm absolutely 100% in Los Angeles again." However, only in appearance. New Yorkers and Angelenos trickle in by the boat loads during SXSW, but the spirit of the city doesn't necessarily leave. In fact, the outsiders adapt to us. It's still good ol' Austin at the core. Austin brings the best out in celebrities, or it only brings the best celebrities. I'm not sure which. Either way, this point was proven to me when I hung out with one of my childhood idols this weekend.

Friday night my gentleman friend and I went to the opening party for SXSW. The party was hosted in a gargantuan space in the middle of rowdy 6th Street. We were chatting with various folks when I recognized the man standing next to me as Dave Foley. As many of you know, I'm stupid about the Kids in the Hall. If you don't know, I will tell you that when I was a high school student I wanted to go to film school in Toronto because of the Kids in the Hall. A fact that I told Dave Foley after my 3rd tequila shot.

I was sort of starstruck spotting Dave and I would have been too shy to say anything, but gentleman friend is not, so he walked right up to Dave and was like, "Hey!" and Dave said, "Hey!" back and that started an entire evening of drinking and hanging out with Dave Foley... and me resorting back to a nerdy 15 year-old girl and calling my mother at 2:30AM going, "You will never guess who I'm doing tequila shots with!"

Dave is in town for his new stand-up venture. If you checked out his super interesting podcast on Mark Maron's "WTF?" Dave talks about how he's doing stand-up to pay for his astronomical child supports bills in Canada. I couldn't help but think of this when I saw him standing at the bar ordering drink after drink.

Dave was totally cool. He looked you in the eye when you spoke. He listened to what you were saying. He leaned in closer to get a better listen. He was interesting and funny and looked like he was having a great time, though he was there by himself.

And for some reason I felt totally obliged to tell Dave about the four times I saw the Kids in the Hall live, and about how I totally fell in love with their latest project Death Comes to Town and how I saw Kevin McDonald's one-man show Hammy and the Kids recently and he didn't seem to mind the fact that I was totally geeking out on him at all. In fact, he told me that they're planning on doing another series like Death Comes to Talk and how everyone in the Kids is a fan of Kevin's show. I love the Kids a lot, and I can talk about them for years, so it was nice talking to someone who knew what I was talking about because he was there. I told him who I used to work for in LA and he pointed out that they were in a movie together and we talked about Los Angeles and then gentleman friend invited Dave tubing on Monday (today) and Dave was totally for it and we all just laughed and drank and gentleman friend got going on about physics and we were all like, "whoa...." (see below) and then the end of the evening came and we said bye to Dave Foley.  I really didn't take much weight into Dave actually coming tubing today, but an acquaintance said he ran into Dave yesterday who asked when we were all going tubing. So, in other words, my friends are going tubing with Dave Foley today and I'm sitting at my work computer writing this.

P.S. Saw some great movies this weekend that I can't wait to talk about with you!


Friday, March 11, 2011

What to Check Out at SXSW Film

So, I lied. I only have a film badge.
However, that makes me really happy because now I don't feel all this pressure to attend the music-related events. That's the part that is really stressful, right? RIGHT?!?!

I was lucky enough to be a SXSW film screener this year. I screened the documentary features, but unfortunately none of the films I screened made it to the line-up. :( I screened a lot of wonderful films but I'm sure the films chosen are great too!

I'm putting together my film schedule and the films this year look pretty awesome. Take a look!
P.S. I'm kind of partial to documentaries...

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye 8:30PM Alamo Ritz- This documentary follows the story of performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and his wife Lady Jaye as they try to create one "Pandrogynous" being. Yeah, I had no idea what that meant either, but it looks like the couple is trying to become "one" with each other.

Becoming Santa Alamo Lamar 12:00PM- This doc is about a dude who becomes Santa Claus and all the cray-cray that goes into becoming the old man. After hearing an NPR segment on Santa Claus unions, this movie sounds really intriguing.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey 1:45PM Vimeo Theatre- F yeah! A doc about an awesome dude who idolized Jim Henson, so he was like, "Hey! I want to work with you and your puppets!" and he got a job on Sesame Street as Elmo.

Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway 4:00PM State Theater- This is the closest I will get to ever seeing the stage revival of the Pee-Wee Herman Show. The secret word of the day is, "LAUREN IS GOING TO LOSE HER SHIT AT THIS SCREENING!"

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop 1:45PM Paramount- This doc follows Conan O'Brien on his 32- city tour after NBC dumped his ass in 2009. Conan's poop is gold so I'm sure this film is fantastic.

Paul 10:00PM Paramount- Check out this line-up: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, and Seth Rogen. I have no idea what this movie is even about. I'm just going off of the line-up. Anything with Bateman is a win-win-win-win!

Fubar: Balls to the Wall 9:30 Alamo Lamar- My buddy over at I Luv Video said that the first Fubar is kind of awesome, so I'm sure this sequel is...pretty awesome too (I'm short on words today, ok?). These guys seem like a modern-day Bob and Doug McKenzie and we need a little more drunken Canadians in our lives, don't we?

Hobo with a Shotgun 11:59PM Alamo Ritz- Well, with a title like this, can you really go wrong? This narrative feature stars Rutger Hauer as a hobo with a shotgun trying to survive in an "urban hell". The trailer is great, the poster is great, and Roy Batty is great.

The Beaver 7:00PM Paramount- Mel Gibson. Beaver puppet. One man's attempt at keeping his sanity and attempting redemption through said puppet. Directed by Jodie Foster. Mel Gibson's first film since he went ape shit. Can't wait!

Famous People Who Might Be At SXSW That I Want to Be Weird Around:
Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Reubens, Ewan McGregor, Billy Bob Thornton.

If you see any of the people above, let me know at


Monday, March 07, 2011

I Will Use SXSW As My Opportunity to Make Pee-Wee Herman Fall in Love with Me

It's no secret that I'm kind of in love with Pee-Wee Herman. Kind of meaning that I might name my firstborn King of Cartoons. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is and will forever remain my number one favorite movie and there may or may not be times that I dress in a tiny gray suit and dance to 'Tequila' around my house. Alone. With a bottle of tequila.

With that being said it's greatly tickling my nether regions to know that Paul Reubens will be at this year's SXSW debuting his new film, The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway (Sat. March 12th 4:00PM at the State Theatre). Unless you've been living under Floory, you will know that the character Pee-Wee Herman recently made a comeback with the Pee-Wee Herman Show which first debuted in LA in 2009 and then made it's way to Broadway. The sold-out shows and talk show appearances cemented the fact that America still loves Pee-Wee and we're anxious to have him back. Some more so than others. Some waaaaay more.

Below is an article I wrote for Alternative Apparel called, "Everything I Always Needed to Know, I Learned from Pee-Wee Herman". It's a mantra I try to live by daily and I hope you will too...

The secret word of the day is "Comeback". Now, you all know what to do whenever anybody says the secret word right? RIGHT?

If you haven't heard, Paul Reubens has resurrected our lovable little Pee-Wee Herman from the dead. That's right. Everyone's favorite man-child is back on-stage with "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" and better than ever. An updated version of the acclaimed 1980 Roxy Theatre stage show of the same name, the four week only event at Los Angeles' Club Nokia Theatre has won over critics, fans, and newbies alike. The success of the show has helped fuel rumors of a new Pee-Wee movie or two in our future.

Watching Reubens on Conan the other night made me realize that our Pee-Wee, my Pee-Wee is back (though I'd like to think that he never went away, but rather changed his name to El Pee-Wee and worked as a bartender in a Costa Rican coastal resort for a little bit ).

Pee-Wee represented a generation, yet is timeless. He made me, my mother, and my grandmother laugh. Though awkward and often simple, his humor was relatable. He was a relic of the 50's living in the 80's. Now we can say he was a relic of the 80's, living in the 10's. Pee-Wee taught people it was okay to be different, all while Paul Reubens was creating a unique character that has never been replaced.

In honor of the man who encouraged me to wrap tape around my face and steal my mother's platform shoes and dance awkwardly for strangers, I present "Everything I Always Needed to Know, I Learned From Pee-Wee Herman":

1.) Be Green- Not only should your main mode of transportation be a (freakin' amazing fire engine red!) bicycle, but you can practice self-sustainability by growing cocktail weiner trees.

2.) Be Thrifty- You can save money by creating your own popsicles with juice and ice cube trays. Or by wearing the same suit every day for the rest of your life.

3.) Don't Take Rides From Strangers- Accepting rides from frizzy haired truck drivers will only leave you abandoned on route 40 with underwear stains.

4.) Decorate! - Don't listen to your friends when they suggest falsetto speaking flowers is passé. Or that styling your house to look like Liberace accidentally ate Howdy Doody and regurgitated him back up on the walls is over-the-top.

5.) Matters Of The Heart- Always chose the feisty Italian acrobat over the egg-salad sandwich carrying school teacher. Always.

6.) Clowns Are Evil- Especially mechanical sidewalk clowns.

7.) Abide By The Law- Cutting the "Do Not Remove" tag on mattresses only leads to life on the lam.

8.) Be Prepared- You'll never know when that trick gum or boomerang tie will come in handy.

9.) Know Your Friends- Anyone who wears a monogrammed romper or whose last name is a cold cut is not to be trusted.

10.) Be You- So what you're a man-child and get more excitement from inanimate objects that interacting with human beings? Don't go changing.

I declare 2011 the year of Pee-Wee Herman.

Glad you've made a comeback (AAAHHHHHHH!)


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Teenage Wasteland

People under the age of 20 scare the living hell out of me.

Teenagers have zero understanding of how life works. Unless they grew up in a Little Orphan Annie-type setting. Then they understand the way life works more than I'll ever want to know. Because most teenagers are inexperienced with the ways of the world, they are prone to doing terrible and illogical things such as shooting animals, driving drunk, taking dumps in public spaces, and wearing pajama bottoms for pants.

When I think about the potential ways that I am to expire, death by teenager is one of my greatest fears. Teenagers act without knowledge of ramifications. They will shoot you point blank with a smile and then go eat a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. THEY WILL EAT YOUR FIRSTBORN AND THEN USE THEIR RIB CAGES AS TOOTHPICKS.

If you don't agree with me, take a look at this story that happened on Friday night.

A friend and I were out and about on the hipster-centric east side of Austin. After the bars closed, we retired to my car which was parked in front of an apartment/artist workspace near the popular bars on east 6th street. As my friend and I sat in my car talking, we watched four underage children climbed the roof of the workspace and begin throwing back what looked like something that was fished out of a dumpster from a back alley in South Central. When they weren't drinking, they were throwing glass into the street. Like many bored and ill-raised children, they began scanning what was in their peripheral view to play with and their eyes landed on my car. They suddenly became very concerned with whether or not my friend and I were making out. When they realized that we weren't making out, they decided it was in everyone's interest to coach us into making out. They then decided to collectively pull down their pants.

Fortunately for us, like squirrels with ADD, the foursome promptly forgot about us and either a.) passed out on the roof b.) made out with each other c.) fell down. My friend and I anxiously watched as the four tried to descend from the one story roof onto a ladder that none of them could seem to find. As we waited with bated breath as one after another barely made it down the ladder, what we anticipated finally occurred in the last girl who caught the ladder with her face. On the way down she also managed to punch one of the kids and lose her wig.

After they gathered themselves from this minor setback, they promptly remembered that we were sitting in the car and ran over to interact. At this point we finally got a good look at what we were dealing with. The first word that comes to mind is "vacancy" when recalling the eyes of our four hecklers.
And "death".
Vacancy and death.

Maybe it was their age or the fact that they drank enough to motorize a fleet of Hummers, but there was a piece missing from their souls. They told us that their names were Forrest, Thomas, Pez, and something that sounds like Iris and that two of them lived in the workspace that they had just climbed down from. They were very concerned with whether we were happy or not and punctuated their point by screaming, "BE HAPPY!" over and over. They then decided that they wanted to share their giant tub of Jell-o and ran inside to pull out a bag full of two-feet long straws that we could use through our window. We thought we bought some time to leave when we told them that we didn't like red Jell-o and that they should run back inside to get the green Jell-o they also made. Unfortunately for us, the bowl of green Jell-o must have been sitting right next to the door and before we could blink, Forrest was standing outside my driver's side window like a dutiful dog with a sparkling bowl of liquefied gelatin. When we refused to interact with them, Forrest got angry and began running his mouth over my window. He sprinted back towards the apartment and turned around to shout one last "FUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK!" towards my car and then went inside of the building. My friend and I hoped that this would be the last time we had to deal with Forrest and the children from Hell. It was not. Forrest then opened the door and shot a gun towards the ground.
A gun.
An underage kid with a Jell-o fetish, anger management issues, and a body full of what could have been plutonium...and a gun.

After the gun made it's debut into the story, we decided it was time to leave.

The adventure of the evening overshadowed the potential danger we felt at the time, but into the next day I couldn't help but feel that that was kind of fucked up. Maybe I was sheltered as a child, but is this normal behavior? What is so wrong with today's youth that this was an idea of an evening well spent?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Swimming with Sharks: The Life of a Personal Assistant in Hollywood

The style of an assistant- bags under the eyes, frizzy hair, bewildered look on face

There is a time in my life that I rarely discuss on my blog, yet it constituted a significant part of my story. It was the five years I was a personal assistant in Hollywood. I don't talk about this chapter for a few reasons- 1.) I respect the privacy of my former employers 2.) I consider my former employers friends 3.) I signed confidentiality agreements that would threaten the soul of my first born. Truthfully, the first two are more important to me then the latter. Though there are a lot of fun and crazy stories I'm itching to tell, I would never share them on a public forum.

Last evening I watched the film I was first told to watch when I moved to LA in 2004. That movie is Swimming with Sharks. This indie gem chronicles the complicated relationship between straight-off-the-bus assistant Guy (Frank Whaley) and his heartless, demonic producer boss Buddy (Kevin Spacey). After a year of enduring abuse, insults, and lies, the assistant takes his boss hostage and forces him to recollect and experience all the injustices he ever caused him. In flashbacks we watch as the assistant grows into the animal he despises and the viewer learns a lesson in Hollywood's dichotomy between dreams and apathy.

Seeing this movie for the first time in years brought back many memories. Though my experiences in Hollywood were not as outrageous as Guys'- there is a scene where Guy is laughing on the phone and Buddy throws a script at him, yelling, "You're happy! I hate that!"- there are still similarities that I can relate to. That any personal assistant can relate to. In Hollywood, there is a brother and sisterhood of assistants and former assistants and only they understand what they have been through.

During the five years I was a personal assistant I was often very irritable and stressed. Due to confidentiality agreements that I took very seriously, I did not feel able to vent about this very important and all-consuming part of my life. Even the ones I felt closest to confiding in- my family- could not understand what I was going through. Unless you've been a personal assistant, you don't know what it's like. It's easy for your loved ones to say, "Tell your boss to get lost!" or "Just say "No"!" when, hypothetically, he/she a.) tells you that you're a terrible employee because you got the 2% latte instead of the skim latte b.) calls you repeatedly throughout the evening because he/she can't get their Internet to work in their hotel room that is on another continent and he/she wants you to call the front desk c.) scrutinizes every little thing you do to the point that you truly begin believing that you can never do anything right. But it's never that easy to say, "No". There is a co-dependency that often exists, a mental power struggle that develops between a person who is the superior and a person who is the inferior.

Due to stress, I dropped down to an irregular weight for my height and had to fend off family and friends asking if I had a eating disorder now that I moved to LA. I began losing my hair and had to get used to sleeping with my phone in case my boss called me at 3AM. I had three panic attacks where I found myself on the floor- twitching like Rain Man- and even went to a therapist for a year in order to prevent myself from losing my mind. I was 20 years old, straight off the bus (or the 1997 Ford Taurus) and trying to stay afloat in the tank of sharks. I probably should have know when my mother first visited me and left crying, saying, "I don't know who you are anymore!" that this was not the right career path for me.

Looking back what I experienced with my jobs weren't all that abnormal, but it was a young girl who had zero idea of how the industry worked dealing with them. Being an assistant you have no choice but to take the crap and if you can't handle it, so what? Get out. Only the strong make their way to the top. Due to my time in LA, it made my skin thicker and I wonder how I would have handled that time knowing what I do now. Nothing really prepares you for the realities of Hollywood. Certainly not film school. Maybe only those who grew up in the industry understand what it is all about. Like Guy, I wanted to work in Hollywood because I loved movies. They were my life. Even when I was a little girl I knew that one day I was going to work in the movies. One day that dream did come true and like Guy, I came to realization that Hollywood often has very little to do with words like "dreams" and "love". You either adapt or move on questioning if you didn't have the cajones to make it in show business.

The hardest part about being a personal assistant in Hollywood? It has nothing to do with the menial tasks or the callous words or the purposeful chess plays. It has everything to do with not losing sight of your goals and not letting your spirit get broken. At one point when Buddy begins turning the table on his captor, he says, "Before you run out to change the world, ask yourself, "What do you really want?" That is an simple question that assistants quickly forget when they get caught up in the game. What do you really want out of all of this? Dealing with all this soul-deflating mumbo jumbo? Dealing with the coffee runs and the dry cleaning pick-ups and the yelling and the screaming and the mind games and the power plays? Why? Why do you put up with it?

Finally after five years I came out of my cloud of denial that I was unhappy and asked myself that very question. I was so determined to make it in Hollywood that I completely pushed away any doubts that crept up daily. But make it as what, Lauren? To become a part of this machine? To continue the cycle? It wasn't me. Hell, looking back, I probably was a pretty shitty personal assistant because deep down I knew I didn't have what it took to be someone's attendant and then become just like them. Just like Guy.

...And that is a fact that I can now live comfortably with.


Dear God Please Give Me the Strength to Get Through SXSW

SXSW is starting in eleven days and I'm absolutely shitting my pants terrified in complete denial.

My brain simply does not want to admit the reality that this behemoth is descending upon us like Godzilla with a bad case of diarrhea over Tokyo.

The South by Southwest Interactive/Music/Film festival is so big, they can't even narrow it down to one category. It has to be three. And not just three rinky dink categories, but three of the largest in the world! SXSW has become a festival like no other. Everyone and their Mom visits Austin and the city functions in a mass state of chaos for ten days until every collectively blacks out.

How big is SXSW you ask? Well, according to the official SXSW website, last year alone there were almost 2,000 musical acts, 300 feature and short films, and 500 interactive events. These are just the official events. What makes SXSW unique is that, unlike many other festivals, there are equally if not more unofficial events surrounding the festival. Patios turn into sound stages, homes turn into screening rooms, and the streets become littered with folks you didn't think existed outside of the show Portlandia. Last year there were close to 37,000 SXSW participants and again, that is not including all the folks that come into town just for the free stuff. Considering Austin is becoming the hot place to visit/live/play, I have no doubt that the number of visitors will be even larger this year and our town will turn into ONE GIANT BALL OF TOMFOOLERY.

SXSW has been a cherished institution in our city since it first began in 1987. The festival initially started as a musical conference, but added the blossoming film and interactive portions in 1994. Now SXSW is one of the city's leading moneymakers having "directly and indirectly inject approximately $99 million dollars into the Austin economy" in 2009. SXSW has become a sort of unofficial holiday in Austin. Thousands of people take off from work, or can't get to work, or arrive late to work, or show up drunk to work for ten days straight.

This will be the third SXSW I've experienced. Well, the other two I experienced more in the way that someone experiences standing outside the gates of a party they're not invited to. Or more like voluntarily standing outside the gate shooting venom-licked words at anyone who walks past. Or maybe more like a rabid dog trapped in a cage of their own making, nipping at fingertips and drooling all over themselves. Like many events in Austin, the community's participation and enthusiasm is so overwhelming that it's easy to go from "Hey! I'm having so much fun!" to "Dear God! Did a garbage truck of drunk people just drop from the sky!?" Austin gets excited about chickens taking dumps on bingo boards, so we'll celebrate anything and that ardor is infectious to outsiders.

During past SXSW events, I would get myself all geared up for the four million screenings, parties, and concerts during the festival and then end up standing in the middle of my living like a deer caught in headlights for hours. My brain swimming with where to start and what to do. I would then typically become exhausted from my indecisiveness and fall asleep into a disgusted slumber where I wake at 2AM to the sounds of exuberant party-goers walking past my window and me cursing myself for having temporary social anxiety.

This year I vow to make a change from my behavior in the past. This year I will have a badge that gives me access to the entire festival and I look forward to finally experiencing SXSW as one who lives in Austin should. I will be talking a lot about the festival on the blog- what bands are playing, what movies are playing, street fashion, etc.- so, I hope you'll share this adventure with me. Lord knows I'm going to need all the support I can get.

Are you participating SXSW this year? What are you most excited about?