Sunday, October 31, 2010

MAKE FINAL ARRANGEMENTS NOW



HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
It's been a crazy October, and it's all been leading up to today. Halloween is finally here! The 2010 season had me celebrating a lot more than in years past, and it's been a month of fun and frights.

I ventured beyond the gates of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood for the first time in a decade, and once again enjoyed the offerings at Disneyland's Halloween Time. I saw John Carpenter's Halloween on the big screen at the legendary Egyptian Theatre and got schooled in the arts of Freddy Kreuger while watching the Nightmare on Elm Street series on DVD.



Even though I'll be unable to celebrate with each and every one of you, here are some hand-picked selections from my Cauldron of Classics:


Disney's Halloween Treat (1982)
No All Hallows' Eve would be complete without the TV special/clip show,
Disney's Halloween Treat. This is part one of the original classic, complete with the killer opening song.



My So-Called Life - "Halloween" (1994)
One of the best Halloween-themed episodes of television ever created,
My So-Called Life had Angela take a ghostly journey back in time. Amazing!



The Worst Witch - "Anything Can Happen on Halloween" (1986)
Tim Curry has gotten a lot of mileage (and rightfully so) out of his role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter from
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I'm here to tell you...don't count out The Worst Witch.



Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series (2004)
While not technically a Halloween-specific clip, this short was created in anticipation of the
Buffy animated series (which never ended up happening). It's a fun little look at what a weekly cartoon version of Sunnydale could have been like!

Remember...on Halloween, everyone is entitled to one good scare. So get out there, be safe, and scare up some fun, y'all!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

IT WAS GREAT WHEN IT ALL BEGAN



I would like...if I may...to take you on a strange journey. It began two years ago, when I watched the pilot for a new series called Glee. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't shut the hell up about it. Fast forward to present day, where Mr. Schue and the kids from New Directions have just presented us with their take on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Just like one of Will's drippy voiceovers, I have to ask: How did we get here?



Well, babies...don't you panic. I'm a huge fan of Rocky Horror, and have been since high school. In fact, my friends and I actually considered suggesting we do it for our senior class play. Reality of course set in, and we kept our mouths shut. Luckily for us now though, all we have to do is travel to Glee's William McKinley High School - a place utterly devoid of reality.



I learned how to suspend my disbelief with this show a while back - I honestly feel like you have to do so in order to really enjoy it. They've gone in some pretty outrageous directions in only a season and some change, and I stopped trying to imagine these characters as real people. This is why it didn't seem like too much of a stretch to have the gang take on RHPS, in my opinion.

And to get this out of the way right now - I liked "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" a lot more than I didn't. But I'm the first one to give a dramatic eye roll at the absurd censorship of some of the included songs. Why can one say the word 'transvestite' on FOX, but not 'transsexual'? Why aren't we allowed to say 'heavy petting', but less than a few breaths later sing-scream 'I need action'? And not to put too fine a point on it, but...'pelvic thrust' was OK'd by Standards & Practices. C'mon.



The reaction most people have is that a production with such sexually-charged material would have to be edited to make it to television, and I agree to a certain extent. But why tone down the sexual content of words while simultaneously flaunting - visually, and definitely not abysmally - sins o' the flesh? Again, I'm not complaining - I welcome as much shirtlessness as Glee wants to throw my way (check out Square Hippie's excellent screen cap rundown of all the skin-showin' scenes from this episode).


Male nudity aside, every time they broke into one of the Rocky Horror numbers, I simply couldn't stop myself from smiling. It was certainly a loving tribute to the greatest cult film of the ages. But by the "Time Warp" finale, I had already made my assessment. "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" would have been better as a TV special, rather than a regular episode in the season. While season one's "The Power of Madonna" actually moved storylines forward, this one was more of a fun, seasonal outing. Is it a good episode of Glee? Not really. Is it a fantastic, albeit novelty Halloween treat? Absolutely.

But getting back to my earlier thought. The fact is that the tone of Glee has been permanently altered since the pilot, and that is something I will always lament. The heart and soul of the show was swiftly eradicated when FOX realized they had a hit on their hands. While it's still a show I enjoy 80% of the time, it's definitely not the same one I rallied to support in its humble beginnings.



My optimism remains, however! The musical numbers continue to be solid, and if I have to sit through a few preachy, saccharine sentiments every episode, I can deal with that. I'll always have my copy of the uncut, unaired pilot for when I want to remember the way things could have been. But for right now, I just want to think of how happy it made me to see/hear Santana's lips singing "Science Fiction /Double Feature". Happy All Hallows' Eve Eve, everyone!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

PUMPKIN PATCH PAIR


America's Sweethearts are back! Imaginary boyfriends Cory Monteith and Trevor Donovan return to the public eye, in this latest photo opportunity. The couple use the power of their love to sell OP Clothing...though I still haven't seen any of these supposed "advertisements" so it's probably all just a cover story. The media is their beard!


Somewhat obviously, they didn't paint their respective Glee and 90210 characters onto these pumpkins. They must have been too busy making out, so they hired this demon wraith to take care of it:



Happy early Hallowe'en from the guys and OP Clothing...if that's even a real company!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

CITY BEAR JAMBOREE



As varied and unique as the modern metropolis of Los Angeles is, much of its charm comes from its diverse history. Yes, I'm serious! And while one needs look no further than some of the (sadly decaying) classic buildings in Downtown LA, there's one in particular that has always stood out from the rest.



Clifton's Cafeteria opened in 1935, and continues to hold the title of the world's largest public cafeteria to this day. Upon my arrival in LA, I used to ride by Clifton's regularly while taking the bus back from my college classes at FIDM. It always looked so kitschy and fun, but I never ventured inside. Who knew that 10 years later, jury duty would be the thing to change that?



As you step inside you're also stepping back in time and into a recreation of the Brookdale Lodge in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as Clifford Clinton imagined it when the restaurant received its famous makeover in 1939. The result? It's like the Country Bear Jamboree without the animatronics. Walt Disney's Imagineers clearly learned a few lessons on theming from the enormous interior of this eatery located in LA's Historic Core.



io9 recently posted an article about Clifton's, wherein I learned that in its earliest days it was also known as the "epicentre of 1930s pulp science fiction". Regularly frequented by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Forrest Ackerman, Ray Harryhausen and L. Ron Hubbard (before he made up Scientology), I was amazed that this place I had seen so often had such a fascinating backstory.



So during my lunch break from jury duty, I decided to take a stroll down Broadway and finally enjoy a meal among the "Redwoods". Still set up as a cafeteria, I grabbed a tray adorned with the motto The Best in the West and made my way down the serving line. A veteran employee hand carved a roasted turkey sandwich for me, letting me know upon my request that "we don't have any cheese". Anywhere else I would have balked, but here it was just plain charming.



Using the grand staircase in the center, I journeyed past the waterfall up to the second level to enjoy my food and take in the sights. There are tables set up in nearly every nook and cranny of this place, which somehow manages to give it more character - without seeming crowded.

And speaking of crowds, they were sparse during my visit. To my left was a lone woman studying from a full spread of textbooks on a large table-for-six. To my right, I watched as an elderly Hispanic couple quietly said grace before beginning their meal. And then there was me...diversity doesn't even begin to describe it.



After finishing my lunch, I did a little more exploring. While the main dining room only utilizes two, the entire restaurant consists of a whopping five floors. The upper levels are roped off, but still brightly lit and well-maintained from the quick peek I was able to get. The third floor does not continue the "great outdoors" theme, and opts for a more elegant environment. The top floor houses Clifton's large commercial bakery.



The detail at every turn was just incredible. From the "animals" and "trees" to the oldies music playing over an appropriately-aging speaker system, it's hard not to get lost in the whole experience. It's like the great ancestor to the Rainforest Cafe, but without the meddling hands of corporate America.



Just a couple months ago back in September, Clifton's Cafeteria was acquired by the mastermind behind The Edison, an extraordinary and heavily-themed downtown nightclub (I've been there once, and I wanted to move in).

So far the only change seems to be that Clifton's is now open 24 hours a day, but plans were announced to turn some of the upper levels into "speakeasy"-style bars. While it's exciting - and I trust that it will be done right - I hope that the forest atmosphere of the first two floors remains intact.


Because after 75 years, Clifton's Cafeteria is more than a monument to the spectacle of days gone by. It's a piece of Los Angeles' history!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I CAN HAZ BOOK PARTY?


Oh hai! Here at Zip and a Kick!, I'm always striving to bring you the best, most unique content possible. And I know for a fact that I'm not letting you down with this one!

Last night I was among the lucky 125 ticket-holding hoomans to attend the I Can Haz Cheezburger Kittehs Book Launch Party here in Los Angeles, which was hosted by the fine folks at Fatburger. And what a time it was! Standing proudly at the beginning of the LOLcat craze, I Can Haz Cheezburger has grown to include I Has A Hot Dog!, Failblog and more as part of "The Cheezburger Network".



They've been traveling the country promoting the release of their third book, "The Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs", and undoubtedly spreading joy at every stop. LA was their third city after New York & Portland, and we Angelenos were out in force and ready to celebrate!

Upon entering, we were given name tags ("Hello my cat's name is"), a voucher for a free burger/fries/soda, and our choice of either HappyCat or LOLrus (with buckit!) plush. I chose the latter, 'cause...obviously. Not bad for tickets that were only $2.04, with the proceeds going to a kitteh rescue!




LOLcat mastermind aka 'Teh Creeaytor' Ben Huh was on hand signing complimentary copies of the book, and gave a short & sweet speech expressing his gratitude. It was really great to hear from someone who took a small, simple idea and turned it into a worldwide sensation. Kudos, Ben!


He naturally asked if I wanted the book made out to me or my cat. When I told him that I would share, he politely but matter-of-factly replied, "You mean she'll share it with you."


As I was eating my delicious cheeseburger (dedicated to my cat Anya, still in MA), a couple of other guests came by with their book copies to have everyone sign, yearbook-style. These are the moments that make my life both utterly ridiculous and completely worth living. Everyone was just there to meet other "Cheez Frenz" and have a great time.



Many thanks again to everyone at The Cheezburger Network, and especially the road crew that made this uber-fun event possible! KBAI!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

AHEAD OF THE GAME (GRID)



Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that there's a highly-anticipated sequel to a long-forgotten classic coming to theaters, and it's called TRON: Legacy.

Disney kicked their marketing machine into overdrive at least 6 months ago, heading towards the film's December opening. At this point I think it's fair to say that TRON mania is nearing a fever pitch, and it's in large part thanks to...Disney California Adventure?!



Gang, I'm being real with you. I have been to the promise land, and it is called ElecTRONica. The Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneyland's sister park has been transformed into the game grid, and the results are most impressive. It's similar to Glow Fest - which took place over the Summer - with the overall difference being that it's way less gay (in terms of color scheme and decor, that is), and way more AWESOME.



Images of light cycle races and users getting "de-rezzed" are projected on just about every stationary surface, and the whole area hums with energy and electronic beats. Continue your journey by walking underneath the giant Recognizer...if you dare!



Enter what was once a rather lifeless section in front of Monsters Inc: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, which is now a full-on dance party. TRON-costumed DJs spinning from their Apple laptops and all!

And never fear! One of the most crucial aspects of the success of Glow Fest is alive and well in ElecTRONica - booze, y'all. Step right up to the thoroughly stressed bartenders at the End of Line Club and get yourself a Glowjito or a Digitini. I indulged in the Glowjito last night, and was very pleasantly surprised to find that Disney wasn't skimping on the rum.



After you obtain your beverages, make sure you head into what was once the Hollywood & Dine restaurant, which has been transformed into Flynn's Arcade. I was pleased to see that it was fully stocked with ALL vintage arcade games. These were the real deal! And best of all - to complete the metamorphosis, a stellar playlist of 80s tunes are pumped in. In other words? Heaven.



And lest we forget what all of this is for, head into the Muppet*Vision theater and experience an exclusive 9-minute preview of TRON: Legacy! It starts out similar to the two top-notch trailers that have been released so far, but then turns into a complete amazeballs dream come true. And as it should be for most of our dreams, star Garrett Hedlund gets stripped down to his boxers.



All in all, ElecTRONica was an immersive, crazy, ridiculous experience (and I didn't even get to see the live performer known as 'Laser Man"). It's also one that I cannot WAIT to have again. For serious, it's been almost all I can think about. That, and how much I wish Daft Punk's TRON: Legacy soundtrack were already out. Check out a clip of the first track below - it's dark, exciting, and features special guest "the Inception noise":


Begin praying now to whichever deity you choose that December 17th comes a hell of a lot sooner. Until then, grab your drink and identity disc and let the good times (and light cycles) roll at Disney California Adventure. The Master Control Program knows how to party!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BLACK MAGIC WOMEN



It's hard out there for a (teenage) witch. Maybe you're a dweeb with a midget sidekick, or perhaps you're mentally ill white trash. Regardless, The Cinefamily brought the plight of novice witches back to the big screen at The Silent Movie Theatre last night. The second installment of their "Pajama Party" double features included none other than 1996's The Craft and 1989's Teen Witch!



While Cinefamily screenings are always unique and pretty awesome, the crowds are usually heavy and things tend to get disorganized real quick. So I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things went last night. Probably one of the best overall experiences I've ever had at The Silent Movie Theatre, fo sho!


Before kicking off the evening with The Craft, the festivities were already in full swing - DJ Dia was spinning some bitchin' 80s tunes and the gracious theater volunteers were handing out free beers from a giant bucket filled with Tecate. Always a simple and effective way to turn an excited crowd into a rowdy one. Back in the courtyard there were also wand-making stations, free goth makeovers, pizza and more booze!


And as for the films themselves? I think it really depends on how much you enjoyed them in your youth. The Craft was my shit when I was in high school, and I remember seeing it several times in theaters. This was also around my own goth period, so it really didn't get much cooler than Neve Campbell's dramatic gasps and Fairuza Balk being generally bat shit insane. They also get bonus points for featuring Robin Tunney in the first of her career-spanning collection of Fright Wigs.



Teen Witch has really made a comeback in recent years, much to my delight! Starring Serena Van der Woodsen mastermind Blake Lively's older sister Robin and the short stack goddess Zelda Rubinstein, this movie's got hair, fashion and musical numbers to spare.

Most people know
Teen Witch because of the unforgettable spontaneous rap/dance-off known as "Top That!". And to be fair, it is kind of pure ecstasy. So much so that Arrested Development actress Alia Shawkat (Maebe!) and friends made their own version. But what I want to leave you with is an equally important choreographed sequence in the girls' locker room. See if you're able to identify their not-at-all-sexist message:



Even if you did, you should still buy your tickets in advance the next time Cinefamily unleashes these witchy classics upon Los Angeles. And remember: We are the weirdos, mister.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

OFFICIALLY ANGELENO



Sentimental Post Alert!

Today is a real milestone for me! It's October 2nd 2010, and it has now been 10 years since I arrived in California. It's difficult to fathom on so many levels. It's been a decade since I moved 3,000 miles from my home and my life in small town Massachusetts to the "big city" of Los Angeles. I instantly fell in love with my new home, and since that first day I've been building - or rather now, have
built - a new life for myself here in Southern California.



I've had more life experiences in this time than my 18-year old self could have even imagined at the time. I went to college and graduated cum laude (not bad for a kid who had a low B average in high school), during which time I made friends that are still among my closest to this day. I've had some incredibly varied and fascinating jobs along the way (tanning salon clerk, closet-designer-to-the-stars, hair/beauty show manager, customer service call center manager, toy buyer, video store clerk and Comic-Con event coordinator, to name a few).



I've done my share of loving, both deep and shallow. From each of the former, I like to think I've taken the best parts of what I learned and used them to help me become a better person. From each of the latter, I've learned what decisions I probably shouldn't make again (but seriously). But either way, I know that in order to win, you have to play. Risk is necessary, however great the fear of the unknown can be.


I've made a lot of mistakes. I've done things I'm not proud of, and people have gotten hurt in the process. To these people, I offer my heartfelt and sincere apologies. You know who you are (even if you're not reading this), and I'm sorry. There have also been a number of mistakes with which I only hurt myself, and from that I've learned - and am continuing to learn - how to forgive myself and move on. Keep moving forward.



And, oh! All the fun in between. Living in LA / West Hollywood has given me such a perspective on what I want out of life, and the things I'd prefer to leave behind. People say this city is shallow and only concerned with appearances and getting ahead. And while they may be right, it certainly doesn't apply to everyone. I've met some of the kindest, most wonderful people in the past 10 years, and the adventures I've had on my own and with these people are ones for the ages. I finally live somewhere in which I feel as though I'm part of a community. I've lived 9 different places since landing in Los Angeles. West Hollywood is my home.

On my 10 year anniversary, I want to offer my gratitude to everyone who has made their way into my life in this time. Whether good or bad, for a moment or for years - it's all life, and it's all been a part of making me the Joe I am now. Today I'm more confident in who I am than I ever thought possible. I surround myself with good people and positive things, and I keep the Negative Nancies of the world and iffy influences at a safe distance. Today I'm ready to close the book on my first 10 years in Los Angeles, and look forward to the excitement of the unknown in my next 10 years...and beyond.

Today I am officially an Angeleno!