Monday, September 19, 2011

Hutch's Vision of the Newsies on Broadway

The Newsies always has been and will always be my favorite movie of all time. It is my rainy day movie, my bad day movie, my celebratory movie, my any and all occasions movie. It is what made me fall in love with Christian Bale before he became Christian Bale (read: talented but crazy). I love the pelvic thrusts, the bad New York accents, the rousing chorale numbers, (and the moment where one of the Brooklyn newsies climbs out of the river and you can totally see his you-know-what.) My friends and I have even made up a Newsies drinking game, though we have yet to actually play it.

Pre-rage Christian was so saxy

I am not alone in my obsession with this 1992 failed Disney musical. There are dozens of us out there who belt along in our living rooms to Santa Fe whilst wearing a cowboy hat, who have tried to jump over our own right leg, who have wondered if the newsie who spins on the ceiling fan puked afterwards. We have been teased with a stage version of our favorite movie for almost two decades now, but it always seemed like a distant dream. Like the flying car or chocolate that doesn't make you fat. Finally, a few years ago, I learned that a project was in the works to bring the joy of the Newsies to a whole new generation of snobby theater geeks. I thought, yeah yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. But it seems like it's finally going to be a reality, according to this article.

While I am glad that it's finally happening, (even though I'd have to go to friggin' New Jersey to see it), I have a few bones to pick with the adaptation. First of all, why are they getting rid of the cowboy element? I don't like cowboys myself, but that was Jack's whole dream! He wore that stupid hat proudly. Cowboy was his nickname, and the driving force behind Santa Fe (arguably the best song in the whole damn thing). It was where he claimed his mom and dad were, instead of dead and in jail respectively. Not cool, guys. Also, I happened to like "High Times, Hard Times" even if it did win a Razzie. It was classic Vaudeville which was a big part of newsie culture. Plus, they're getting rid of Medda! Granted she was kind of useless, but she did add some much needed female presence in a borderline sausage-fest. And what's with getting rid of Denton? I loves me some Bill Pullman.

"To our man Denton!"

I think the biggest reason I'm bitter is because when I was a Freshman in high school, I was planning my own version. It would be true to the heart of the story, but with a few improvements:

Unrequited love

1. Brooklyn Newsie Kingpin Spot Conlon would be a girl. Sure Spot is a badass, especially with his wicked cane and slingshot acumen. But think how much more badass Spot would be if he was a girl! Plus, I had imagined a whole secondary love plotline with girl-Spot and Dave The Walkin' Mouth (because he kind of comes off as a little bit hopelessly in love with Jack.) I also wanted a musical number with just the Brooklyn Newsies, but it seems like the new musical felt the same way.

I do not take credit for this sweet Spot collage. But isn't he just a pimp?

2. Speaking of female love interests, David's sister/Jack's lady friend Sarah would have a much bigger part. There would be an awesome duet with Jack and Sarah while they're on the rooftop. Plus, when the Delancey bruddahs try something with Sarah, she would kick their asses instead of stupidly bruising her hand on the wall and needing Jack to come save her. Also, their kiss at the end would be stellar instead of the worst screen kiss ever (seriously, when Jack snorts a bunch of snot up his nose right before slobbering all over Sarah, I just want to puke).

Oh Ele Keats. You're just useless.

3. I always had this theory that Racetrack was secretly either Medda's son or her boy toy (not both). Mostly because in the riot scene when Racetrack gets punched, Medda freaks out and screams "RACETRACK!!!!" So either she's a fake Swedish Mrs. Robinson and Racetrack is a pimp with a taste for older ladies, or Medda gave Racetrack up for adoption to pursue her Vaudeville career and this was her way of keeping tabs on him. Whichever one I decided to go with, that subplot would be fleshed out.

Medda, the fake Swedish Mrs. Robinson

4. I'd also like to see Pulitzer sing some great Disney villain song like "Poor Unfortunate Souls" or "Be Prepared." I think he could pull it off. But I understand that in the movie Robert Duvall wasn't up for belting showtunes or tripping the light fantastic.

I may look intense, but inside I'm singing Gypsy

5. I wouldn't be surprised if Kid Blink and Mush had their own thing going on behind the scenes, but it might be pushing the limits of Disney to have underage boys hooking up on stage.

You can feel the sexual tension between these two.

6. Refuge Warden Snyder seems like an even more evil character than he is portrayed in the movie. I see him as a physically abusive pedophile rather than just a mean embezzler. (The pedophile aspect would just be faintly hinted at since if we can't have a gay love story, we definitely can't have child molestation.) Making the Refuge even more of a scary, terrible place would create a greater sense of relief when Snyder is thrown in jail at the end and all the kids are freed. Or maybe my mind is just dark and twisted after watching too much Law and Order: SVU.

One creepy-ass mother. I honestly wouldn't be surprised.
He did go on to steal John Locke's kidney after all.

I'm sure I have more notes on my Newsies dream musical, but for now that's all I can remember. So, anyone want to go to Jersey with me to see how the real thing turns out???

UPDATE: Watching the Newsies now. I'd definitely axe the ridiculous cowboy solo dance that Jack does in the middle of Santa Fe, almost ruining it. I'd also have more of a rebellion in the Refuge before Snyder gets thrown in the pokey.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why I Keep Watching Felicity (Even Though I Kind of Hate It)

'Obsession' seems like the wrong word to describe this latest Netflix kick I've been on. 'Obsession' implies some sort of affection for its object. I guess 'rut' would be more accurate in the case of my recent on-going marathon of the late 90s post-adolescent drama Felicity. It's on and I don't feel like searching for something else. Am I really so lazy that I'm not even up to the idea of searching for a new, better show to watch unhealthy amounts of? The answer to that is yes. Yes I am. But there are other reasons I kind of secretly dig this horrible show:

Pictured: Playdough Man

1. Scott Speedman, or Ben Covington. Not to be confused with Scott Foley (Noel. What kind of a stupid late 90s name is Noel? Besides, he's just like a lumpy blob of playdough. Not off-putting, but by no means enticing.) Ben is also kind of a bland character (as are the rest of them), and he's not traditionally attractive. But he's got this crinkly-eyed smile that is pretty goddamn dreamy. I can almost understand why Felicity was such a stupid, girly, stalker, moron and gave up her entire life plan to follow him across the country.

Ok, I kind of get it. But still, have some self-respect, Felicity! Dammit.

2. Every week is an ugly sweater party. Seriously. Homegirl has a major bulky woolen cable-knit fetish. I find it hard to believe that a girl who resembles a sheep for most of her screen time gets so much play.

Standard Felicity Wardrobe.
Stacy and Clinton would have a field day in this girl's closet.

3. A little part of me wishes I could go back and do college over again. This gives me a bit of nostalgia for the college experience I never had.

4. An even smaller part of me wishes I lived in New York. Which is silly, because the majority of my personalities despise New York. It's cold in the winter, humid in the summer, smelly, dirty, dangerous, overcrowded, overpriced, and everyone is nuts and really arrogant about the fact that they live in New York. BFD. But I still found myself idly looking at apartments for rent in the Manhattan area. (And I thought my apartment complex I work for was expensive! Jesus!)

What a stupid, wannabe moody opening sequence. What is the theme song even saying? Is it just gibberish? And what's with the black and white still photographs of the characters looking like they're in pain while trying to look thoughtful and/or like they are having fun?

5. It's weird seeing actors who are now famous in bit parts. So far I've spotted Jennifer Garner (Pre-Alias. Which I have never seen, but have heard good things. Maybe I'll try that and give JJ Abrams a second chance at writing a believable, non-infuriating female protagonist), John Cho, and one of the guys in American Pie. I've also seen Christopher Sarandon (better known as Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride. Though I suppose that would be after he was famous...).

Have some self-respect, Humperdinck.
Frankly, this is beneath even you.

6. I genuinely loved Felicity's prime time counterpart, Dawson's Creek. That was the shit. I don't care that the dialogue was completely unrealistic and that all the characters were absurdly self-aware. Why should we fault a show for striving not to be dumbed down, even if the result is somewhat silly? I keep hoping that at some point, Felicity will be one-tenth as good as Dawson's Creek was. Or maybe I'm just killing time until they finally put Dawson's Creek on Netflix. (Get your crap together, Netflix! You owe me this one!)

God this show was good. Don't even try to hate. 'Cause I'll slap you. Through the internet.

7. While I don't love her character (holy hot mess, batman!) I was so excited when I saw that Amy Jo Johnson plays Felicity's best friend, Julie. I was all about the Power Rangers in elementary school and the Pink Ranger was my favorite! (Though I was always relegated to playing the Yellow Ranger at recess because I wasn't as pretty as the other girls.) One of my (only) favorite moments in the show so far (and that's about 13 episodes in) was when an extra dressed up as the Pink Ranger at a Halloween party and Ben makes out with her! Wink wink, nudge nudge! See what they did there?

HI-YAH! Badass.

8. I feel kind of obligated to watch it, since I am attempting to become a dubious expert on all things teen-oriented. Just in case that knowledge ever comes in handy in a future game of Trivial Pursuit with the Grim Reaper and knowing that Felicity's ever-so-slightly offensive gay and vaguely ethnic stereotype boss at Dean and Deluca was named Javier just might save my soul.

But for reals, y'all, this is a terrible show. I do NOT recommend it. Really just a waste of time. But since that's all I'm interested in at the moment, I guess it does the trick. But it does raise my hackles every time Felicity acts like a lovesick puppy with really low self-esteem, Noel gets walked over like a proverbial doormat, and Julie is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and Ben just doesn't give a shit. Which is basically the entire show in a nutshell.

Now I'm off to bed to watch it some more.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Keys in Strange Places

One of the services my office provides is to unlock people's apartments when they lose their keys/get locked out of their apartment. Usually I dread someone coming in saying, "Can someone open my door for me?" First of all, I revile these people for being so stupid/unorganized/lazy and losing their keys in the first place. Secondly, this usually happens five minutes before closing and we have to rush maintenance to cut another one (which is very stressful and difficult not to mention we all just want to go home.)


And finally, it means I have to drop however many hundreds of balls I happen to be juggling at the moment (tee hee balls), get the keys from the box, and escort them all the way to their apartment. Depending on where their apartment is located, this could mean quite the trek. Especially if it is 100 degrees like the other day and I'm wearing a full suit. Then I secretly chant makeshift voodoo curses in my head while making cheery small talk.

But sometimes, I enjoy rescuing people because they often have hilarious or unusual stories about how they came to be without their keys. Here are the top five:

1. Guy who lost his keys several months ago in The Body Shop, a strip club off Sunset. To this day he still has not paid the $5 fee to cut a new key. He simply locks his front door from the inside, then goes out his patio door and jumps over some bushes. This is someone who pays at least $1200 for rent every month, (and god knows how many thousands on strippers), and he won't fork out five bucks for a key. I hope she was worth it, buddy.

My favorite part is "18 Years OK!" Classy joint.

2. Guy who left his keys in Israel. God knows how expensive it must have been to overnight a package from a place where the local post office is probably getting bombed constantly. Reliable courier services must be hard to come by there.

3. Guy(s) who left their keys in Vegas. From one type of pilgrimage to another. This one happens quite frequently. I just chuckle at them and ask them if they had a good time. They tend to respond with a sheepish grin.

4. Guy(s) who pissed off their crazy girlfriends who are now holding their keys hostage until they grovel. Seriously, I encountered this with two different residents, one of which not only stayed with the girl, but she did this twice! I don't know what they did to piss them off, but it sure is a brilliant way to get revenge.

Bitches, man. Bitches.

5. Guy whose keys are at the police impound lot. I asked him if he had had a rough night, and he replied, "Not as rough as some." Badass. But it turns out that it was his friend who was caught smuggling something nefarious unbeknownst to our hero, and his car was impounded because of it. Doesn't that suck? Anyway, the guy told me that now anyone who enters his car will be subjected to a strip search in case they too may be holding. I thought he was joking until he exclaimed, "If you don't want my finger up your rectum, then you won't be getting in my car." True story. Needless to say, I will be avoiding this person for several reasons from now on.

If you've noticed that this list is comprised of entirely male residents, then you would be spot-on. Girls get locked out all the time too, but they don't have nearly as good stories. (Usually it's because they went to the gym and their roommate locked the door. Yawn) I will update the list if I get any more good ones. Just so you know, the curse I put on these people is less severe depending on how entertained I am by their excuse.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pretty Much the Cutest Thing Ever

I'm tired and still semi-cranky so I'll make this one short and ridiculously sweet. You know when you have a bad day and all you want to do is call your mom and vent about it? (Because you're a hopeless mama's girl/boy like me?) Well when I called my mom tonight after what I call a classic example of Clusterfuck Friday (where everyone is terrible and everything goes wrong and for some reason it usually happens on Fridays) she was babysitting my kickass little nephew Ayvind.

Ayvind is about 18ish months old now and smart as a whip. (Though how whips have any sort of intelligence is beyond me.) He's quiet and contemplative for a baby, taking in the world and forming his own tacit opinions of it. But he can still giggle and peek-a-boo like a boss. He's a man of few words, though he possesses great understanding. He knows exactly what you're saying, he just chooses to communicate back via sign language. According to my sister-in-law, he can speak about 50 words, but can sign up to 230.

Pictured: Baby genius.
Also I'm not sure what he's signing here,
but it is probably something like
"Holy crap, I'm friggin' awesome!"

Anyway, so my mom was giving Ayvind a bath while she talked to me on speakerphone. The whole time Ayvind kept shouting "Pooe! Pooe!" (Which is my brother's nickname for me -long story-, so now I'm 'Aunt Pooe' which also prevents confusion since his other aunt and I have very similar first names). Ayvind knew exactly who I was, although we haven't spend nearly as much time together as I wish we could.

According to my mom, (who could have been lying since she was also trying to cheer me up) he signed "I love you," and tried to kiss the phone. Then he tried to give the phone a rock to play with, all the while saying "Pooe! Pooe!" Since he doesn't talk much, it was an honor to hear him say my name. Especially since I had such a crappy day. He also loves rocks, (which is a bizarre family trait I thankfully did not inherit) so giving me a rock was a symbol of great sacrifice and love.

The point of this is that you can't stay upset and frustrated when you have an adorable little guy 450 miles away who adores you right back. (Though I still find it hard to believe he remembers me even after not seeing me for at least 4 months. That's roughly a quarter of his life!) You pretty much made my day, Little Ayvind. Aunt Pooe loves you too!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Creepster Fish

It's been a few weeks now that I've been on So far I've had one date (a rather uneventful trip to the Sherman Oaks Starbucks where we didn't really have anything to say to each other and it was terribly uncomfortable). Other than that, I've just been e-mailing or chatting with a few blokes. Nothing to write home about, that's for sure.

"I have a grande chai tea latte with
a shot of stilted conversation for Hutch?"

I was online today when I got a chat request from this guy without a picture. I don't trust profiles without pictures because a) the guy is either too lazy/stupid to upload one or b) he's ashamed of the way he looks. If I have to upload one, you do too. However, I decided to give him a chance because he mentioned in his profile the fact that he actually is familiar with English grammar and if he doesn't know how to spell a word, he looks it up on I think I've said before that guys who can't spell worth a crap or prefer ridiculous abbreviations are a major NOPE for me. And since I do the same thing (google a word before making a fool of myself), I thought maybe that's enough to build a relationship upon.

We went through the usual, "Hi, how's it going, what do you do, blah blah blah." Then he asks,

"Would you mind if I had a fetish?"

All I could think about was this episode of Sex and the City,
which is (almost) every girl's worst nightmare.

Um... I resisted the urge to block him because my interest was piqued. Here was a guy who was completely upfront about what makes him a weirdo. And we're all weird in some way, (like me with my correct spelling fetish), we just usually try to hide it. You have to respect him for that. Why waste time when you know there's something that's important to you that might be a dealbreaker? Curious, I responded,

"Depends... what kind?"

It took him a few moments before he wrote, "I'm really into it, so I'm looking for a girl who can accommodate." Now he was really starting to freak me out. I replied, "Are you going to tell me what it is?"

Finally he said, "I like girls in pantyhose, the ones that go all the way up."

I don't get it. But I guess the point is that it's irrational.

I guess as far as fetishes go, it's not as disturbing as others. And like I said, I appreciate his honesty. But seeing as I loathe pantyhose (they're scratchy, expensive, inconvenient, time-consuming, they rip easily, and they just get in the way. I also despise the word 'panty'), I'm thinking this is a big fat NOPE. More importantly, when you've been talking to someone for about three minutes and don't even know what they look like, much less if they're a decent person or not, it's a little soon to be talking about specific plans for the bedroom.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned that way.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

How "The Help" Helped Me

Tonight I made a rare trip to the theater to see the film adaptation of "The Help." I read the book not too long ago. I didn't love it, but it was very nice. I mostly went because I adore Emma Stone and wish we could be best friends in real life. The film was pretty great, but what resonated most with me was just one of the end credits: "Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett." This whole movie was made because one day a woman sat at her computer and began to type.

I started writing a novel almost exactly one year ago. It wasn't my first attempt. There are drafts written in pencil on college ruled notebook paper going back as far as second grade. And for my fifth grade yearbook ambition, I wrote that I wanted to be an author. In high school and college I cultivated my love for writing through creative writing classes, screenwriting classes, and other studies of what makes for a great story well-told. Once I got my first real job though, writing sort of took a back burner to bill paying and mindless TV watching.

While I was pretty much unemployed during the first part of 2010, I was finally able to exercise my long lost creativity. I started working on a script with a good friend of mine. We made it two-thirds of the way through a promising coming of age adventure story inspired in part by the Goonies before we hit a wall. Plot-wise we were stuck. And it was time for me to go back to work where I actually got paid. And so the story sat unfinished in the dark recesses of my aging laptop.

Since it was looking like that would never again see the light, I decided to once again try my hand at novel-writing. Screenwriting has so many rules. Relentless formatting, keeping descriptions succinct, letting directors and actors decide how a line should be delivered instead of instructing them, and what pitfalls to avoid lest your script appear juvenile. All that for little pay, less credit, and the joy of seeing your baby be torn apart by people who don't know a good script from their Aunt Mildred. With a novel, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Sure you have to keep to a basic story structure if you want it to be successful. But there is so much more you can do with tone, setting, and characters. You can really develop where you'd have to hold back in a script.

With this somewhat bitter attitude, I began my novel. It was semi-autobiographical even though the concept of a writer writing about themselves as if they are the most fascinating subject in the world irritates me. But you have to write what you know and just hope that others can relate. (That is, if you hate doing any kind of strenuous research, like me.)

I went back just now and read the first 11 pages. I only read 11 because that's as far as I got last September. But as I read those few pages, I was pretty damn proud of myself. Normally I go back and read something I wrote and cringe ever so slightly. But I made my future self laugh out loud! So now I'm inspired to go back and if not finish this book, at least keep heading in the right direction. Any progress is better than none.

Because some day I want to see "Based on the novel by C-------- H--------" on the big screen just like Kathryn Stockett. (Not that she's my new hero or anything. Tina Fey will always be number one. But I figure if she can do it, why can't I?)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Canada's Bad Seed

The other day, I was an oblivious witness to this "car accident." I use air quotes, which normally I despise only because it was more of a love tap than an actual collision. I also say oblivious, because I watched the whole thing happen and didn't even realize until 10 minutes later that it happened to be Justin Bieber whose Ferrari was nudged while he was blocking traffic.

Evil demon spawn

Now, unlike most people I know, I didn't have particularly strong feelings one way or the other regarding the Biebs. He was just this silly little boy that made crappy music and pre-teen girls squeal. I can't judge those girls too harshly since I too was a victim of expertly marketed and well-groomed young boys who made crappy music. Though I maintain that it was way less crappy than the piffle they dare to call music these days. That's right, PIFFLE.

Pictured: Not Piffle

Because he was barely on my radar, other than an adorable sketch on SNL with Tina Fey, I just didn't care. That was until the other day when I saw a 16 year old kid test driving a car worth more than I will ever make in my lifetime. That pissed me off to begin with. But once I heard the conversation that took place after the accident, I was livid!

Biebs started going off about how this poor lady hit him on purpose because she knew who he was (paranoid with delusions of grandeur???) Then when she started speaking in Spanish to someone nearby, he started ranting and raving about how "This is America," and she needs to speak English. Finally, he demanded to see her green card. Really dude? First of all, you sound like an ignorant, racist prick. Secondly, your own girlfriend is latina. You are soooo not getting laid for at least a week. And thirdly...

Shania is watching you, Bieber. Always watching.

YOU'RE CANADIAN FOR SHANIA TWAIN'S SAKE!! If it wasn't for your crappy music, you would be the illegal alien. And speaking of illegal aliens, the woman speaking Spanish happens to work at the Spanish Embassy. So good luck ever trying to play a concert in Spain again. She probably has mad connections and can shut down your visa quicker than your fan's attention spans. You're welcome Spain!

Next up, Justin Bieber!

It has been a well-documented fact that I love Canada and Canadians with all my heart and soul. Every Canadian I have ever met, and I've met quite a few, has been exceedingly kind, generous, hilarious, and awesome overall. Now I know it's not right to generalize. But when you've met many fantastic people from a certain country, you start to get a feel for the values they tend to espouse as a nation.

Pictured: Canada

So you can imagine how betrayed Canada must have felt by the actions of this one bad apple-faced goon. Maybe he's just a kid who got too famous, too fast, and spent too much time on the mean streets of LA. But that's no excuse. I think he needs to take a serious time out back in his mother country to refocus on not being a jackass hoser.

It was hilarious how this minor, and I can't stress minor enough, collision (bumper cars have more violent impact) became such a big story. The police showed up and agreed that there wasn't even enough damage to take a report. I saw myself that there wasn't even a scratch on either bumper. But the Biebs had insisted on calling the cops and what the Biebs wants, the Biebs gets. Douche.