Archive for June, 2010

The Burden of the Wealthy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 23, 2010 by Will Link

Jarrod and I always tune into Larry King because the man is a joke. He asks not only softball questions but all the wrong softball questions. He also cuts people off mid sentence to throw to some package celebrating his own career. Let’s face it, if he was just starting out today he’d be laughed off the air. That said he has some history behind him which can on occasion be used for good. Like Monday night, he had a telethon to help the gulf coast region that has been destroyed by this awful terrible oil leak.

I for one was glad to see there was a telethon for this unprecedented disaster. I found it a little funny that when Haiti was destroyed Hollywood went into crisis mode and organized a lot of people and money to help but when American citizens were losing a way of life and an entire region has been destroyed for possibly generations, nothing was happening in the donating realm. Yes, I know there are many differences including that BP should be the ones spending all their money to fix their “mistake.” That said part of me feels like we should make sure our own are taken care of before Haiti – maybe this is cruel but I don’t think so. At the end of the day it was nice that we did have a (small) telethon for the gulf and there is no reason why we shouldn’t have one for Haiti and Chile and everyone who needs help. It’s good to help the less fortunate whenever possible.

However, a guy a work brought something up and I would love to get others takes on it. He said he didn’t like that celebrities (his example was Jennifer Aniston so let’s use her) who have everything urge people like me and him who have nothing, to give money. He said that they make millions and Jennifer should give a million bucks to help and call it a day. Now I get why he says this because I do have very little and can’t afford to give. However even if Jen gave a million bucks, she can’t give a million to every cause on earth. She needs to get other to give. Politically active celebs need to inform others and set an example of giving…hence a telethon. Now if Jen told us all to give and gave nothing, she’s a fucking hypocrite. That said it’s not like her salary for The Bounty Hunter will save the infrastructure of Haiti.   

This always brings up my least favorite subject when it comes to celebrity. It mostly occurs in the sports world but can also occur when an actor gets paid 20 million a picture. It’s the “These people make too much money” argument. Everyone always cries that A-Rod or Tom Cruise makes so much money and it’s such a waste. This is stupid. They deserve to make just as much money as the market dictates just as you deserve to make just as much money as the market dictates. A-Rod has a skill that is valuable. The Yankees pay him based on his worth, that worth being the money he gives back to them in ticket sales, merchandising and of course championships. He is worth every penny he makes.

The thing I hate about the “too much money” argument is that the people who make it seem to imply the money would go to something more worthy. The money Tom Cruise got for his latest Mission Impossible film was not going to feed orphans. It wasn’t going to help AIDS in Africa or build a school in Haiti – no matter what it was going to go to the making of a movie. So unless you want to abolish all entertainment then shut up. Yes I agree teachers are underpaid. My mother is a teacher and I think it might be the most important work one should do – but teachers are never going to make Tom Cruise money. I’m sorry they won’t. Tom Cruise makes Tom Cruise money because he is more unique – a movie star who opens a film worldwide. I’m sure he gives back too. I’m sure if you look he donates money every year to worthy charities. But he shouldn’t do that alone just because he makes millions more than you or I ever will.

If you said should I take these millions to build schools or make Transformers 3, I of course will say schools. But this isn’t an option and never will be. So let the movie stars and athletes make their money and let’s just all give what we can to help who we can.


Pixar is Just Better

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 21, 2010 by Will Link

 The great Zack Fox warned me that the tears would just sneak up on me. He said that in Up you see them coming from a mile away but you cry anyway. In Toy Story 3 you don’t see them coming and then – water works. I knew this and I still cried like a baby. So did the woman behind me. So did they guy in the corner of the theater. So did the two teenage girls as I exited.

You know what else sneaks up on me every year – Pixar. Every year they release a new film that I say is a no brainer to see but I don’t really think about it too much going in. I don’t regard them with the same hype as I do an Inception or Avatar. Then I see them and I laugh, cry, sit on the edge of my seat and of course put them on the short list of the year’s best. Pixar just makes better films than everyone else. At their least they are just a good time with laughs like Cars. Often they are groundbreaking like the original Toy Story or Finding Nemo. But more often they are pure brilliance – The Incredibles, Wall E, Up and now Toy Story 3.

Toy Story 3 might be the best of the trilogy. The themes are stronger, the action is more thrilling and the laughs are just as big as in any comedy today. This is the case with Pixar’s storytelling in general…especially their last few works. Pixar consistently tells intelligent stories with real emotions. I don’t remember the last time I found myself so far on the edge of my seat, with genuine terror and concern for characters as I was during the last act of Toy Story 3. There is a moment towards the end when the toys accept their fate and join together that says everything about true friendship better than any film in recent memory. This moment also ties into themes of love and death that will go over the heads of little ones but you might never forget. And that’s why Pixar is better than everyone else, because they find a way to make you feel all these emotions through these characters while retaining a story that is both heartwarming and kid friendly. I haven’t even mentioned the moments that follow, moments every adult in the crowd can relate to – growing up and letting go. The ending is beautiful, bittersweet and beyond perfect.  It’s a four star film everyone should go see.

Now I went to see it in traditional 2D because you know my takes on 3D:

Again Avatar 3D impressed but I still regret seeing Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Toy Story in 2D looked amazing just like every Pixar films does.

I doubt 3D would have made me sit on the edge of my seat more. I know it wouldn’t have made me laugh more and it certainly wouldn’t have made me cry harder. Those are the reasons I go to the movies, to laugh, cry and sit on the edge of my seat. No overpriced technology can add to that.

New Yorkers Are Just Better

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 19, 2010 by Will Link

So once again I have been really remiss in blogging. In fact last week was the first week since I started I wrote less than three blogs in a week and this past week I wrote none. Why? Well partly because it was my birthday. Partly because I have been busy involving myself in other online shenanigans involving women. But mostly I was sick again. This time really sick. Strep throat sick. I missed three days of work and am out hundreds of dollars. I had a fever of 103 and am on antibiotics. Today is the first day since Tuesday I was well enough to work and right now I feel about 95% back to normal. Why do I keep getting sick? New theory – the universe hates me and won’t let me have good things. These illness always come while compleating a script, after I meet an awesome woman or when I really need money and can’t afford to miss work. Yup, the universe is out to get me, I’m sure of it. I have a long standing appointment with a doctor for a physical on Tuesday, I’ll let you know how it goes but I’m sure the news will be grim.

Who wasn’t the news grim for this week? Why your Los Angeles Lakers, that’s who! (How’d you like that segue?) I’ve always enjoyed watching basketball (or at least the second half of a game) second best of all sports behind my beloved baseball. LA is a basketball town. They love love love their Lakers here. It’s hard not to get caught up in it living here and because of that I like to see them do well. Plus this year they were playing Boston and I have a long standing order to always root against Boston. The city of Boston is a beautiful place marred only by the cancer that is its people. They are loud and obnoxious sports fans who have always been jealous of NY. That’s there sports fan m.o. The LA fan is lazy and the Philly fan is psychotic. The New York fan in knowledgeable and passionate…but I might be biased. (that said someone try and fight me on the Philly fans being crazy assholes)Yes the New York sports fan does have a big ego, possibly too big of one. But remember we are home to the most successful sports franchise in North America – The New York Yankees. We might puff our chests out too proudly but with some legitimate reason.

Anyway, on my strep bed Thursday night I watched the Lakers beat the Celtics and was very happy. Then as the night wore on I saw something more unsettling. Fans were being arrested. They were jumping on cars and acting like roving gangs. I remembered the same images a year ago. Then I thought back to the Red Sox beating the Yanks that one shocking time and how a girl died afterwards in the “celebration.” Then I remembered video of Detroit burning after championships?!? What the what? Why do people feel the need to destroy their city in celebration? And then some unknowing asshole said to me “well I bet they do that in NY too.” Guess what moron – they don’t!

I lived in NY during two Superbowls wins, a long awaited Stanley Cup win for the Rangers, a Mets championship and four Yankees world championships, three of which I lived in Manhattan for. Since then they have won another World Series and the Giants another Superbowl. Do you know how many incidents of violence and destruction I saw, read or heard about? None. Remember the Yankees/Mets subway series? Everyone thought the city would tear itself in two. I don’t recall one act of violence that happened. Sure there were taunts and name calling, but no young girl got killed in a violent crowd…Boston!

The point is this shit doesn’t happen in NY. We win, we celebrate and we go to bed at home, not in a prison. I remember taking to the streets after the Yankees wins of ’98 and ’99. What happened? We walked from bar to bar, high fiving people screaming “Go Yanks!” That was all. It was fun. Sure there might have been isolated incidents but nothing big enough to be reported on the local news (and certainly not national news). Why is this? Why are the New York fans such better behaved fans? Is it that we know we will be celebrating again a day or two later with the best ticker tape parade any city in the world throws? Is it that the city is so densely populated there is no real place for potential mobs to form? Is it that there are so many New Yorkers that a lot of them don’t care unlike here in LA where 90% of the people seem to care? Is it that the cops have been dealing with this for so long that they are just better at keeping it under control? Or is it just that we are so used to winning that it’s just another day in the Big Apple?

No, I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think the New York sports fan is just better!

What World Cup?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 9, 2010 by Will Link

I have some questions to all my soccer fan friends (and I can’t believe that is a plural) but first let me talk about soccer. Every couple of years, right around the start of the World Cup I hear people talk about how soccer will one day be big in America. These people are delusional and THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. It didn’t happen when Pele came here. It didn’t happen when Beckham came here. Let’s say by some miracle we won the World Cup or even just made it to the finals, I’m sure the game would get a good rating and I’m sure for awhile people would be talking about it but in the end soccer would fade away.

Already in America we have three major sports, four if you count hockey which has never recovered from its strike and can’t even bring in enough of a rating to have all its Stanley Cup Finals games televised on network TV. The market place is too flooded for the inclusion of another sport, much less a sport that can end in a 0-0 tie. Soccer was fun to play as a kid. I remember being a six year old on the Smithtown Kickers. It’s a good game for children because it teaches some teamwork skills while basically allowing you to run around and around and around. Then after you grow out of that most kids I knew moved on to little league. And this is soccer’s issue in America – it’s not sexy enough for children. Kids know who A-Rod, Kolbe and Payton Manning are. They see them play at the highest level in their respective sports and want to be like them. Soccer has no one like this in America and I really believe they never will.     

I get the appeal in other nations. It’s been there forever, it’s part of the culture just like football Sundays are in America. I wouldn’t expect someone in England to love our football and I think the NFL is kidding themselves by playing games there to generate interest. So I understand why someone who came to America from Argentina would get excited and wake up at 5am to watch their fellow Argentinean’s compete against South Africa in the World Cup. What I don’t get is how anyone who was born and raised here in America can give a shit about soccer, much less world competition soccer?

That’s my question? How did you get into it? What made you decide to watch a sport with no popularity in America? How did you even find the games on TV? Do you watch MLS games here in America too? How did this happen? It seems to me many of you are just sudo worldly hipsters who wanted to go against the grain and show how progressive you are for not watching baseball or basketball like every jock in this country. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too harsh. Please correct me on this issue. How did a boy who grew up living in Reseda get exposed to World Cup soccer?  I mean I acknowledge it’s athletic, a skill that you can be impressed by. I mean I get the idea of competition. It makes more sense to me than watching NASCAR…but still?

What I’m not wrong about is that soccer will never be popular in America.

Oh, that and the U.S. will never win a World Cup.

Zombies and the People Who Love Them

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 3, 2010 by Will Link

  One of my personal favorite genres of film is the zombie film. I think I love zombies as characters because you can put any label on them. You want your zombies to represent racism…done! You want them to symbolize our consumerist culture…no problem! You want them just too simply be crazed eating machines who want nothing more to rip into the protagonists flesh…of course! They work on all these different levels because at the end of the day they might be more symbols than characters, except of course when your best friend becomes a zombie or on the rare chance a group of scientists decide they can teach a zombie something – then they become an important character.

The other night I went to see the new George A. Romero film Survival of the Dead. It was fun, campy, gory and like all Romero films it told a story more about people than zombies. This one raised important zombie issues like, what is your responsibility towards the undead.  If your loved one became a zombie should you chain them up in the hopes science finds a cure or do you just shoot them in the head? The film lets you decide.  (Personally, shoot them in the head.  I go with the theory that dead is dead and there’s no coming back). I enjoyed the film because I’m a sucker for Romero zombies but God do I wish someone would just give this man a budget and better actors .(also the whole twin thing was awful but you didn’t see it so you don’t know)  Romero is responsible for the modern zombie with Night of the Living Dead. This horror film still holds up but it was it’s sequel that was truly a masterpiece – Dawn of the Dead. This is my favorite zombie film of all time. First off the zombies look great, both for horrific reasons and comical (Hari Krishna zombie…amazing). The film however becomes a really interesting view on consumerist culture and how even held up in a shopping mall the four survivors try to play house and make some sort of sham life together. It’s not really living. As always people end up posing a bigger threat then the undead. Romero made four Dead movies since and this is always the case. To me this is why his zombie films play better than most.

A few years back Jarrod, Sean Corkery and I came up with an idea for a post apocalyptic zombie film called The Turning. It’s basically Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead. When writing it there was a big decision to make – fast or slow. I always liked the slow zombie better. They were creepy and snuck up on you when you least expect it. The fast zombie is better for action and it’s what Hollywood prefers for the videogame generation. I’ve always been glad Romero has stuck to his guns with the slow zombies. To me zombies would be slow. Less brain function plus rigamortis equals slow. We decided to have our cake and eat it too. Our zombies were fast and slow, weak and strong, dependant on the deceased’s blood type. Of course when our script got speced out Land of the Dead had bombed and executives told us zombies were out. It’s funny because about 100 zombie films have come out since then so what they should have said was “zombies are out for unproven writers.” But I’m not bitter.

Romero might be the king but there have been other zombie films I love. It might sound sacrilege to say but Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake was a pretty great action film. Other than the setting it’s nothing like the original, and yes it has fast zombies, but they were used for some great action moments. The opening is terrifying and the credit sequence featuring an evil Johnny Cash song sets an amazing tone for the rest of the film. That said the zombie film that to me is the most realistic, the actual way things would go down, is Shaun of the Dead. I really do believe this is how people might behave in the event of a zombie outbreak – and yes I might run and hold up at Sardos. What’s great isn’t just that it’s hysterically self-aware but it has some really powerful emotional moments towards the end. To me it’s worthy of Romero status.

A quick note:  you might be wondering what about the fantastic 28 Days Later? The film is brilliant and terrifying but I’m a purist. Those people are not zombies, not the undead. They are just sick, diseased, fucked up people.  

The best thing to happen to zombies in recent years is the amazing book World War Z. It’s written by Max Brooks who also wrote the all important Zombie Survival Guide. It chronicles the zombie war and it’s told through a series of interviews with the people who fought and lived through it. It’s both poignant at times and scary as hell. It paints such a vivid picture of this war and gets into details you never would have thought of. (like people who develop a sort of Stockholm Syndrome and being to act like zombies themselves) If you haven’t read it please do before the inevitable, overblown film version comes out.

I often say “well when the zombies attack” because it’s fun to think about how you would fare and what your survival plan would be in the event the dead began to rise. A group Canadian mathematicians recently crunched numbers and decided that in the event of zombie outbreaks humanity would only survive a couple of weeks. I think we might fare better than that. In fact I say bring on the zombie apocalypse. I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the films. I think I’d do pretty damn well in this scenario.

When the zombies attack you stick with me. I’ll get us through this.

A Married Gay Army

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 1, 2010 by Will Link

Congress has finally voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” (actually I believe they voted to repeal it pending a study from the Pentagon but either way it looks like it’s finally on its way to being gone). Even at a young age I never quite understood how this law (?) rule (?) military guideline (?) wasn’t considered discriminatory. Why should a government institution be allowed exclude you due to your sexuality? To me there is no difference between that and saying you won’t include blacks or women. Well I guess there is one big difference – you can’t hide being black but you can hide being gay, hence the “don’t tell” part. I often wondered if homosexuals were able to be identified outwardly if they too would have been forced to sit in the back of busses and drink from gay only water fountains. I have no doubt that in many states that would have or would be the way.

The other thing I never got about keeping gays out of the military was why you would ever want to deny someone the right to die for their country. If someone wants to grab a gun and go to Iraq God bless them because I won’t be doing it. Call me a coward, call me unpatriotic but I don’t think I would ever die for my country. I respect the hell out of those who are willing to but it’s not for me. I acknowledge I live in a great country. We have problems but for the most part when they were picking countries, living in America, I got the jackpot. That said I’ve never felt the overwhelming American pride that some do. I’m sure I’d die for family, friends and maybe even film, but my country…eh.  On 9/11 all my thoughts of patriotism where more turned into thoughts of being proud to be a New Yorker. That’s where my loyalties lie. I think if an invading army marched down Broadway or tried to attack Yankee Stadium I would join up and fight – but to go to another far off land and kill people, I’m sorry but I refuse.  So if a gay man wants to go, be my guest and be as open about your sexuality as you want. I just don’t understand why any homosexual would want to fight for an army that discriminated against them. Luckily some people are far more forgiving than me.   

This is not a new argument and I don’t think I can possibly bring anything new to the table on it. Society still discriminates against homosexuals. Granted we have come a long way. Entertainment has helped in this regard. Having gay characters on television makes straight society more comfortable with the idea of homosexuality. That said until gays can serve openly in the military and legally get married in all fifty states I will still consider this to be a country that discriminates. I guess my confusion on the gay marriage issue has always been because I don’t see why anyone should care if gays marry. How does it affect a straight person’s life in any way if two gay men or women get married? Bigoted people might tell you it “destroys the sanctity of marriage.” So let me get this straight, two people being in love will destroy an institution supposedly built around love? Divorce actually destroys the institution of marriage but these same people don’t go around screaming for divorce to be illegal. I could break down each stupid asshole argument against gay marriage but I won’t because you know them and I don’t have the time to deal with peoples foolishness.

Now let me tell you about my naivety on the issue. I have a handful of close gay friends. My best gay friend Mike was planning on getting married here in California. This was about two years ago when Prop 8 was on the ballot. For those not in the know, Prop 8 would make gay marriage illegal in California. Days before the election I assumed and spoke to Mike and others about how no way Prop 8 would pass. Of course this was coming from a white, liberal, straight, middle class man. My gay friends were worried. Unfortunately they had good reason to be. As me and others celebrated the Obama victory, we were disheartened to learn Prop 8 had passed and gay marriage was now illegal. I was stunned (again naïve) because I thought I lived in a liberal minded state. I also thought I lived in a state that wouldn’t grant citizens a right only to take it away. I furthermore thought I lived in a state that needed money and wouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot financially by eliminating a source of revenue. My friend Mike was planning a big wedding event that would have brought a bunch of guests in from other states. Just think of all the extra money his and many many many other weddings would have brought to the state. Even if you were iffy on the idea of gay marriage you were so bigoted you didn’t want to help your state financially?

Shortly after the election I spoke to Mike about this. He told me he knew this was going to happen. I asked him why he just didn’t get married quickly beforehand just in case. Then he would be legally married and could have a reception whenever. His response made a lot of sense. He said “Why should I have to do things differently than everyone else?” Since then he has expressed disinterest in the idea of marriage. I guess that’s what having the majority of voters in your home state telling you you don’t have the same rights as them does to a person.