2017 Hawtte$t TrendZ

Hello! Wishing everyone a warm welcome to the year 2017. It's a prime number so I'm kind of suspicious already (why won't you let anyone besides 1 and yourself IN?!), but I like to think that 2017 will be a good year. After all, it is the Year of the Rooster-- or, as some might say, the Year of the Cock. Now I think that's something we can all enjoy! (It's only January 5th so I'm allowed to make this joke.)

By now, most bloggers and listicle artisans have compiled their highlights of 2016: the various food trends, celebrity happenings, fashion moments, popular memes, political diarrhea, and gorilla shootings that defined the year for better or for worse.

Biden memes were funny for about 12 hours before they quickly became... well this.

Biden memes were funny for about 12 hours before they quickly became... well this.

I could create my own list of 2016 highlights with my patented goofy-and-satirical-but-sometimes-unnervingly-dark point of view, but rather than dwell in the soggy memories of last year I'd like to look towards the future. Thus, I present to you my best guess at the highlights and trends of 2017, so we know exactly how much there is to be excited about.

 

The Predicted Highlights of 2017

1. Most popular food: Fish tacos, where the taco shell is just a gutted fish

Last year I heard someone say, "Bread is the new soda." As a society we are continuing to cut out all bread and grain products in favor of healthier options: first with the South Beach diet, then the Paleo diet, and now the explosion of the gluten-free movement. Replacing tortillas with fish is the next logical step, especially when you consider what a come-up 2016 was for Poke. Lean fish and everybody's favorite Mexican snack combined to form one super health-food?! Get outta town before Trump finds ya! For added health benefits, some establishments may scoop the fish's eyes out and replace them with Goji berries.

2. Most popular music genre: found-object house music

I don't think the world is making big enough of a deal that 2013-2016 has essentially been dominated by banjo techno. Mumford and Sons? Avici? Lumineers? X Ambassadors? They somehow found a way to plug a banjo into a large sound-maker-box, play it over some of Ke$ha's sampled beats, and get Niki Minaj to rap about dicks for 30 seconds in the middle, and rode that god damn wave of nonsense up to the top of the charts. I don't know HOW it happened, but everyone seems pretty cool with it. 2017 will continue the tradition of musical gimmicks by rewarding artists who use "like really innovative and super original" instruments in their music. Why? Because that shit sells Coachella tickets. And with piracy at an all-time high, artists don't want to pay for actual instruments. You've already got a chain on an old wooden box in Bishop's "River." In 2017 don't be surprised to hear any of the following on your radio: a trash can lid, a pizza being dropped on the ground, a voice chat ring back tone, a helium tank getting licked by a litter of kittens. It will be sampled through a repetitive electronic filter and BLAMMO-- mainstream experimental house music.

3. Most popular fashion trend: sequin-lined clothing

As pictured above, only inside out. The tail-end of 2016 caught us all wishing we had those funky lil' "reversible two-tone sequin" sweaters and skirts, and while this trend will die almost overnight at some point in 2017, we still have a few months to totally pervert the use of sequins. Why "show all your sparkle on the outside" when you could invent a really basic metaphor for inner beauty using clothes? This year's jackets, shirts, and jeans will have a modest outside but a f*cking fabulously surprising inner lining of sequins. The itching, scratching, sweating and faint scarring will only be a testament to the fact that YOU, you curvy radiant being, are confident about your body no matter how many places it might be lightly bleeding.

4. Largest political event: Trump turns out to be a dead rat inside 20 layers of raincoats

If you're around my age you may recognize this as the exact plot of the short story "Sammy" from Louis Sachar's classic children's book "Sideways Stories from Wayside School." If you don't, I'm sorry for spoiling the ending. Before you get too excited about this particular moment in history, be forewarned that this discovery will not end Trump's presidency since he will tweet "I am not a rat!!" and everyone will believe him.

5. Most popular slang term: "Fitchin my wezel, slam dog!"

Which roughly translates to the following: "Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible in himself, though both the indestructible element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him. One of the ways in which this hiddenness can express itself is through faith in a personal god."

 

Now go forth and enjoy all these wonderful gifts in the coming year! HMU for tacos.

 

Do you agree with these predictions? Click the heart below and share! Do you disagree with these predictions? Click the heart below and share!

Eurgotta Be Kidding Me

NOTE FROM PUBLISHER (WHOEVER THAT IS): I wrote this post on May 4th, 2016 and didn't notice it was left unpublished until this glorious day, this 1st of January 2017. So just imagine all of this happened about 9 months ago. Okay, that's it. Bye!

 

Hai der, I'm back from Europe! 3 weeks, 7 cities, and more beer and wine than I can remember (seriously).

I could write an essay on my trip, but in 2016 people don't want essays. They want .gifs and listicles (and AWFUL word, btw. Makes me think of testicles with a lisp). So I will summarize my experience in each city as a tweet, or 140 characters.

 

1. Paris

Stayed in a prostitute neighborhood. No one speaks English. Pretty. 100 things to see, but is the Eiffel Tower really worth 3 hours in line?

2. Strasbourg

Rainy but still gorgeous. Cute AF. Cobblestones. Half German. Petite Paris is a teeny wonderland of pretty buildings. Drank by myself a lot.

3. Budapest

Borderline life changing. Felt like home. Weird/fun/cheap city of art, decay & hidden treasures. Ruin bars & spa baths were worth the hype.

4. Rome

Partied w locals in a piazza. Killed the Trastavere bar scene & rejected pushy Italian men. The ruins do actually feel like a time capsule.

5. Florence (+San Gimignano/Sienna/Chianti)

Florence was so-so bc it was rainy but the Tuscan countryside is SO ABSURDLY BEAUTIFUL. First legit Italian pizza: amazing but never again.

6. Venice

Equal parts breathtaking and touristy. Rode the water bus around all day for fun. The water is clean and turquoise. Got to chill out here.

7. Milan (...aka Ferno)

Quiet/uneventful town close to the airport where I had 1 unforgettable night of karaoke, met wonderful people, and ordered a vegan sandwich!

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow.

Yikes, haven't blogged since January. But I assure you I have a good reason for that lapse.

*cricket chirps*

I could talk all about the production I just wrapped, or about, y'know, the EUROPEAN BLAST-TACULAR SISTER-NANZA TRIP OF TWO OH ONE SIX BAYBEEEE that I'm about to go on, or anything pertaining to the broad range of topics I generally find it productive to touch on here...

But no. I must talk about my hair.

 

Hi.

I have short hair.

I have had short hair for approximately 3 years, minus a few childhood smatterings of one of my mother's many poor decisions:

Taken straight from the "I Thought You Burned These" photo album.

Taken straight from the "I Thought You Burned These" photo album.

Around 6th grade was when I began deciding my own style: how to dress myself, how to decorate my room, which rhinestone headband to wear to P.E., etc. And my hair began to grow. It grew long and luscious and thick and literally broke a comb once.

Also, braces.

Also, braces.

I loved having long hair. There's so many things you can do with long hair. Buns. Ponytails. Other kinds of buns. This:

But more than that, it made me feel beautiful. To me, long hair was an assurance that I was effeminate. The longer my hair, the better I felt my chances were of getting my crushes to notice me. Not that I had many crushes. Just a few very, very long-term and serious monogamous crushes that were 0% reciprocated.

Since I was always trying fun new colors and bleaches and styles with my hair, a few times I considered cutting my hair short. But every time the feeling that followed was an immense dread. If I didn't have long hair, I might not have enough pretty qualities without it. It might make everyone permanently think I'm ugly and I'll lose my shot at ever having a boyfriend. And what if I turn out looking like a mushroom?

I chilled out in this stable of fear (utterly unconfronted, of course) for a very long time. High school took me down a long road of styles I can now only describe as "turbulent," but no matter what my hair stayed long.

Because as long as I liked my hair, I could find at least one attractive quality about myself. My hair was my safety net, figuratively and sort of literally.

Fast forward to the second half of 2012. I was a senior in college with a double major and an off-the-record double minor. I was an unpaid intern at a low budget gardening show for PBS. I had weight problems, acne problems, and all the emotional problems that accompany those problems. I was either in a relationship or wishing I was in one. I had roommate drama and I wasn't handling it well. I was scared of the future and of failure. I couldn't find one reason to be happy.

I was having what I later found out was a quarter-life crisis. At the time it felt like the end of the dock. But the process of completely bottoming out emotionally and, one might argue, spiritually, set up a profound internal change just waiting to be knocked down. I plummeted down past the point of giving any sort of fuck and burst forth on the other side with new meaning and understanding. I remember it was very quick and very sudden.

By cause or by effect, a few things happened at once: my school situation got easier, I lost some weight, and I realized that I would be okay (even if I wasn't dating someone-- what?!). The world didn't seem so god awful anymore. And so, living up to the cinematic female character cliche, I symbolically cut my hair short to symbolize my internal transformation.

Or maybe it was more like this.

I swear to you, it was like the one thing that had been missing! The short hair-- something about it-- made me feel as though I had finally settled into myself.

Since then I've been on this magical unicorn fart of learning and expressing confidence, self-appreciation, self-love, independence, blah de bloop blop blorp. And I don't think any person can attribute these things solely to their hairstyle

(present company excluded)

(present company excluded)

but it certainly had an impact! Turned out to be that I really, truly love short hair. It's easy to take care of, for one thing. And it makes me feel simultaneously cute, sophisticated, and like I could kick your ass. There's something about it that just fits. I get lots of compliments on my hair nowadays, and I accept them like iTunes terms & conditions. It even gets wrapped up into unimaginative catcalls now and then. ("Hey, I like short hair!" / "Thanks, I like you being on the opposite side of the street!")

This isn't me bragging about my awesome hair or how often bus stop patrons hit on me, by the way. This is me marveling at how much the dead skin growing out of my head has become a part of my identity. After a decade of fearing what short hair would turn me into, I discovered it helped me become more than whom I'd ever known I was. And it proved to me that beauty is a choice. I didn't have to hide behind long hair and "hope" I was "pretty enough;" I could rock whatever I wanted and know in my heart that I was a stone cold fox-tress. Beauty, like hair follicles and indigestion, does come from within.

As a hopefully unnecessary disclaimer, this is specifically about me and about my specific hair; I'm not saying anything about women with long hair. I think it's truly wondrous that everybody has their own style, and it would be a sad world indeed without long, beautiful hair. But for the time being, mine is cut underneath my chin.

>>Click the heart below if you liked this or if you have hair>>

L.A. and Recreation

Ahoy, chips!

Don't know that I've blogged about life in LA for a while, and I've been experiencing a lot of that recently, so let's just jump right in.

For starters, I have to come out and say it: I love living here. And that is not a popular opinion. People who have lived here a year hate it. People who have lived here 15 years hate it. The people who run it, hate it. Everybody hates LA. That's just a thing about it. It's the Gary Gergich of metropolitan cities.

But in the same way that I've always managed to befriend the one socially awkward homophobic racist in the room, so too have I found my common ground with Los Angeles. I get why some people aren't into it. But I love

every minute of my existence out here. As a knighted honorary of the ADHD community, I am always looking for something new to try. Maybe it's Chinese food. Maybe it's a reggae-death-electro-folk concert. Maybe it's a bar inside a renovated doll head factory. Maybe it's Chinese food in Beverly Hills. No matter what that something is, it's here. And the absolute best part is, I don't always know what I want. I'm just as cool with margaritas in Malibu as I am with tagging an underpass. Los Angeles is full of things that I never knew I wanted.

And some things I shouldn't want but do anyway.

And some things I shouldn't want but do anyway.

I get why this doesn't work out for everyone. Yes, you do have to fight for what you want out here. Yes, you have to balance the things you want with the things you need. Yes, you have to be open to change and patience (often at the most inconvenient times). And yes, you do have to accidentally sit in urine on a bus bench at least once. Otherwise it's like you were never here. But I would much rather fight tooth and nail for a way of life that is exciting and invigorating, than hit up Target and call it a day.

That's not to say I don't love Target... we all love Target... we must worship Target...

That's not to say I don't love Target... we all love Target... we must worship Target...

Of course, I say this like I've got it down pat and LA has never been a bother.

.:Fuck no, y'all!:.

LA is riddled with inconveniences and absurd surrealities that I often have trouble stomaching. Like the homeless guy on Hollywood Blvd who whenever I pass calls me a bitch-cunt and calls my friends the N-word. That guy totally sucks! But I walk past him because he is posted up along the most walkable route to the Thai massage parlor with this amazing happy hour deal.

And honestly, I think there's some annual mattress migration that takes place here because there are seriously like 20 mattresses on my block right now.

I don't always appreciate the traffic, the crazies, the odors, but that doesn't blind me from the fun destinations, the kind strangers, the (good) odors... and the zillion other cool things I get to experience out here.

Like, last week I went to an escape room for the first time. Was not invented in LA and exists in many countries (but the earliest known room was created in Silicon Valley and that's close enough). I swear this supports my argument somehow. It was so freaking fun! If you've never heard of them, an escape room is a game designed in a room with all sorts of puzzles hidden in it. You and a small team have to work together to solve the puzzles, which will ultimately lead you to figuring out how to escape the room. Hence: escape room. Casey and I hit up Escape Room LA's "The Cavern," which was really really hard, and we didn't make it out in time. But it was an hour of getting to play and poke and explore. My inner lab rat was overjoyed. The whole thing was kooky. I love kooky things!

In the vein of less kooky and more drunky, I went out to The Abbey for the first time last weekend. The Abbey is an infamous West Hollywood nightclub that's just about as gay and neon as they come. Needless to say, the drinks and dancing are far more enjoyable than most other clubs. But gay club or no, I always seem to hit on the same types of unavailable men.

"So, do you wear blacklight banana hammocks here often?"

"So, do you wear blacklight banana hammocks here often?"

I even got a fieldtrip a few hours out of LA in the mysterious Salton City, a ghost town that was built around a mandmade lake that eventually became too salinated ("Why can't we just say 'salty'?") for fish or humans to live off of. The present-day town is a total anomaly of old homes that are abandoned and old homes that just LOOK abandoned. The beach is covered in millions of dead fish carcasses. There is no sand; only fish bone sediment. Random relics of the past (old chairs, clothing, photographs) haunt the beach. Graffiti reigns supreme. It's incredible to walk around. You get a sense that this was once the place where Johnny first asked Peggy May to go steady, but now it's this corroded post-apocalyptic wasteland clinging to life by the beams of its banisters. My ASS and I had an eerily good time.

And we got a drink at the best bar in Bombay Beach!

"Silly Jessica, it's the ONLY bar in Bombay Beach."

No kidding. Small, divey, intimate, quirky (right down to the jar of pickled eggs), and populated by a few old timers who were more than happy to talk about their town. You sat down and felt like a welcomed outsider.

The whole thing was wallpapered with dollar bills, from visitors who had probably been there and had the same experience as us. It was only fitting that we leave our one trace behind.

Snapchat-4927361042665628077.jpg

In conclusion, LA is great because it locks you inside of rooms for fun, makes you question your sexuality, and is just a few hours away from a bunch of decaying mobile homes and dead fish.

vvv Click dat heart vvv

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted (More Of)

Sappy holiyays, y'all. By now you have successfully experienced Channukah, Christmas, and the coming and going of Our Lord Satan (it was a very brief visit-- just some laundry and then back down to hell).

After completing Week 8 of the eternal feature, I finally caught a break to go down to San Diego for some special So Cal chillaxin'. This included watching Family Christmas Vacation 1.5 times, spending my sweet-ass time doing 8 weeks' worth of laundry, and trying mincemeat pies for the first time. Mincemeat pie: contains neither meat nor anything otherwise minced. Discuss.

What are you and why have you come to our planet?

What are you and why have you come to our planet?

I can't decide which part was better: the number of friends and family I was able to see, or the perpetually un-harried sensation I felt being with them. I'm well past the age where holidays only mean sugar cookies and class parties. I'm very used to vacation being this too-fast-too-slow thing where it's like, "You gotta coordinate to see all these people within a 48-hour timeframe or else they'll resent you, and if you do see them then you are contractually obligated to give them a gift or else they'll resent you except not really but internally you demand it of yourself!" And then 30 hours later I'm all, "Well fuck, I'm exhausted but I managed to find/purchase/create/wrap all those gifts and meet those people for dinner/coffee/movies/sex/brunch and I've got 18 hours left and I'm beat down but somehow I'm now BORED so I'll just drive back home and be bored there instead." *French exit*

It's really great.

This year was not that. And I think it has everything to do with the small lapses-- or as I call them, pre-vacays*-- that took place not too long before Winter break. Our movie has had one or two brief hiatuses (hiati? Haiti?) throughout the holiday season, so with Thanksgiving I actually got a decent little break in there before resuming work again for a week or two. Then I went on actual vacation. I see that having the smaller break made the landing softer. I had that week to catch up on pressing things left to neglect such as housework, dentist appointments, etc., so by the time The Big Break happened I wasn't scrambling to do quite as many things. I was able to treat it like a vacation and not just Housewife Obligationfest 2015.

And yes, cult classicists, I only saw the 2004 remake. And I LIKED it.

And yes, cult classicists, I only saw the 2004 remake. And I LIKED it.

This mindset made it much easier to enjoy things. I watched "Carol" with my dad because he invited me and had no idea what it was about. And you know what, it was only sort-of weird, not painfully weird! Completely unrelated note: at the La Jolla AMC you can bring alcohol into the theatre.

Gettin' ratchet with Blanchett.

Gettin' ratchet with Blanchett.

I dunno, I guess what I'm trying to say is... vacations should be longer, homework sucks, and teachers are lame.

That's really all I have to say about that. So howzabout I briefly review movies?!

 

BRIEF MOVIE REVIEWS

The part of the blog where I briefly review movies I've seen

1. Carol

Totally enjoyable, in a very slow-burn sort of way. The experience is less like watching a movie and more like walking slowly through an art gallery with the A/C turned on. The story and conflict is crystal clear, which I imagine is why they so very subtly introduce it into your bloodstream. You spend the whole movie waiting for them to say the word "lesbian" and they don't even do it once. Instead you're just floored by the beauty and talent on the screen, from the actors to the set design to the costumes. And you spend a lot of time gaping at close-ups of Mara Rooney; like, is this chick's face for fucking real?

2. Sisters

I love Tina Fey. I like Amy Poehler. I adore Maya Rudolph. I feel like Rachel Dratch is my real mom and there was some hospital mix-up when I was born. If you agree with these statements, go see Sisters. Now, what I will say is that Sisters is not for 30 Rock fans. The jokes aren't especially snappy and err on the side of crass. There are moments of canned writing and sloppy directing; it could use some clean-up. But it's okay because Sisters isn't trying to be legendary. It's just a fun, silly movie that will make you laugh if you go into the theatre wanting to laugh. It reminded me of Old School with a little less wind in its sails.

3. The Little Death

Okay, this came out in 2014 but I saw it pop up on Netflix and I decided to give it a go. I'm reviewing it for the very unbiased reason that I enjoyed it. This is an Australian indie romance about how certain fetishes and sexual ticks affect several different couples. It's a great watch for anyone who is sexually frustrated and wants to not feel so weird about that. [a crushing and infinite awkward silence takes hold of the room] But if anything, just watch it for the sign language scene at the end. I thought it was clever and beautiful and unexpected and feelings.

John Heder gets it.

John Heder gets it.

Also, just throwing it out there: Australians are super hot.

 

*I don't call them that, and neither should you.

 

From Atop the World's Flimsiest Soap Box

Two justifiably blogless months have fluttered past us, lost beneath an avalanche of work, life experiences, and whatever is considered one notch above social drinking. At this point, trying to recount everything from the beginning feels like going to a high school reunion.

By which I mean I need to be drunk to do it correctly.

By which I mean I need to be drunk to do it correctly.

Ten days of my life were dedicated to that Lifetime movie I mentioned last time. Yeah. Feature film. Ten days. Da fuq, right?

We did it, but with excruciatingly long (and unpaid) overtime. Our craft services was a fold out table with 4 bags of Doritos on it and I worked several hours I wasn't compensated for, but a lot of good did come from the experience. Making friends is the quickest way to make any gig suck less, I've found. Get along with the people you work with and you've automatically converted a major burden into a saving grace.

Heigh ho, heigh ho, fuck this non-union show.

Heigh ho, heigh ho, fuck this non-union show.

There was the added bonus of being able to work under a production designer and art director. Our PD was a fountain of information who was gracious enough to feed me constant tips and tricks. He also showed me how to load and fire an AirSoft gun which was... exhilarating.

I am one lucky punk.

I am one lucky punk.

Other highlights of this production include: rolling prop joints in the pews of a church, high-energy Baptist church choir scenes, taking a photo inside a casket, dressing the inside of an ambulance, smashing a breakaway vase over my lil' head, and hardcore bonding with the house cat at one of our locations.

ACTIN LIKE HE JUST HAPPENS TO BE IN THIS ADORABLE LITTLE POSE BEHIND AUDREY HEPBURN'S FAT HEAD

ACTIN LIKE HE JUST HAPPENS TO BE IN THIS ADORABLE LITTLE POSE BEHIND AUDREY HEPBURN'S FAT HEAD

REALITY CORNER

"Jessica!" you vociferate to the heavens, or seemingly to no one in particular, "Why do you work when you know you're not getting paid? Why do you stick around when by the time your hours are broken down you're making less than minimum wage? Why don't you refuse to be paid less than you're worth? Why don't you just walk off the set? Why do you just complain about the shoddy craft services and then go ahead and eat it anyway? Where is your pride? Where is your sense of moral responsibility to the vast and complex working microcosm that is the film community?"

All very good questions that I don't want to answer. On nearly everything I've worked on, people are overworked and severely underpaid. My initial stupid answer, coupled with a despairing shrug, is this: this is the nonunion fish bowl I was plopped into, and I'm awfully used to swimming around in it.

But I also want to briefly talk about the word "deserve," because I'm a millennial and people love using that word when they talk about my generation. I don't think I deserve to be paid the same as somebody who has been doing this 10 years, 5 years, or even 6 months longer than I have. I don't think I "deserve" to be paid less per se, but I certainly expect and accept it. NOTE HAÜEVER: accepting does not mean resting on laurels. Accepting straight up means having faith and knowing that for as long as I continue to kick ass there will always be progress. The only reason I have faith is because this has proven to work time and time again for me.

WELP. IT LOOKS LIKE I ACCIDENTALLY HIT A NERVE AND SEVERELY DERAILED MY OWN BLOG. MORE ON THIS SUBJECT AT A LATER DATE. DOOP DA-DA DOOP DA DOOP DA-DOOP.

On Day 10 we wrapped out at 1am, and I was on to my next set at 7:30am with my newfound art soul sister (or ASS for short). I helped her dress and decorate a biblical wedding scene, which was kind of fricking magical.

And Jesus is bringing the wine.

And Jesus is bringing the wine.

Then, 2 baffling days later, I was suddenly the art director on this new feature with my ASS. It would take the literary volume of the Chronicles of Narnia to go into detail about this movie... and that will certainly be its own blog (or fiction series). The baseline details are that this is:

  • the largest thing I've ever worked on
  • the most I've ever been paid
  • the hardest I've ever bonded with my department
  • the most disorganized jambalaya of easily avoidable chaos I've ever seen

The one glossy little detail I'd like to pick out of the rubble is that this is a union project! I repeat, this is union! My ASS brought me onto the holy grail of productions-- a non-union show that flipped and became union, meaning all of my days working on this beast are days towards me becoming eligible to join Local 44! That is straight MONEY, my friend.


I wish I could continue but if I do we'll be here all night. Go enjoy your Netflix and your crackers or whatever it is you eat and tune in next time. I'll be back. I promise.

The Bastard Production Designer

OH HAI

Touching down briefly just to blomit the latest on the past 45 days or so of my life. Last we spoke I was going into pre-production for my first-ever feature film production design gig. We ended on the 30th after a successful shoot, and I slept for 12 hours straight.

The experience was nothing less than the perfect first-feature for me. From the very beginning it promised to be simple. It was all one location, in an indoor, air-conditioned space, and the script was broken up into 3 distinct acts which made it easy to wrap my head around all the props and dressing we needed. And not to mention I was stepping in for another PD, so half of the mental prep had already been done. It was just up to me to execute.

Topless pic of me.

Topless pic of me.

I learned a lot on this shoot. Like, a lot. And there are two big ways to learn things:

1. By trying it and seeing if it works

I had to do a few new things I hadn't done before, such as: building and manipulating puppets, carrying about 50 bricks back and forth several times, making fake vomit, creating an ear tag for a human, and staggering when and where exactly to rent things. Things rented out from prop houses are rented out on a weekly basis, which is a no-brainer when you're on a short shoot. When shoots take a month-- that's when you've got to hunker down and figure it out: "Oh, all the scenes with the fuzzy pink handcuffs take place during week 3, so we won't rent them out until we go back at the end of week 2 to return the whip and the Buddha statue. Looks like that ice pick shows up weeks 1, 3, and 4, so let's rent it out one week, and then at the top of week 3 rent it out for two more."

My pick-up and return schedule.

My pick-up and return schedule.

(This is a total #lowbudgmovieproblem, btw. When you've got money you can just rent all that shit at once and keep it for the whole time.)

The best part of this learning experience is when it works!

Made for $0 using paper, glue, the plastic from a strawberry container, and a nub of a thumb tack. I strung a small loop of fishing line through the tag and hung it around the actor's ear... Nah just kidding, we pierced the shit out of his ears Parent Trap style!

Made for $0 using paper, glue, the plastic from a strawberry container, and a nub of a thumb tack. I strung a small loop of fishing line through the tag and hung it around the actor's ear... Nah just kidding, we pierced the shit out of his ears Parent Trap style!

But sometimes, it doesn't work, and then you learn the hard way:

2. By doing it wrong

What with my year and a half of self-taught art department experience, it may surprise you that I don't know everything there is to know about this craft. With every project I've ever worked on, I've learned several lessons, more than a couple of them being hard ones. I think one of the hardest lessons I learned on this set was to step up to the plate in terms of taking over the design. The good news is, this is actually good news. I learned how much it really is on me to make up my own mind about how the film should look, and stand by that decision. Directors and DPs have plenty a hand in it, but deep down I think they-- directors especially-- want to see you carry out a vision of your own. If they totally 100% had their vision for the film's design, they wouldn't need a PD. All they'd need is a set buyer to go out and purchase the items on their grocery list.

RABBITS ARE TERRIBLE SET BUYERS.

RABBITS ARE TERRIBLE SET BUYERS.

I also learned a lesson I don't think many have to learn... which is to use the damn budget! Pretty much every single project that I've worked on has come in extremely under budget. It's obvious why it's bad to go over budget, but nobody explained to me why under is just as bad.

Sit down on Pappy's lap and I'll explain it to ya.

At the end of the day, the best thing a production designer can bring to a film set is production value-- meaning, a film dass all legit-lookin' n' shieeeet. If you're out there penny pinching, not only are you going to piss off a lot of pennies, you're also risking making the film look cheap. Directors want to be as wowed by their sets as they want their audiences to be. The trade-off, of course, is that you might not come in crazy-under-budget. But which is more important? Well, depends who you ask. The director will say, "There simply must be a chocolate milk fountain in my movie. It won't work without it." If you ask the producer, they'll say, "Have you seen chocolate milk fountain rates lately?! I think we can make due without it." My tendency has been to please the producer, only to have a disappointed director and a mini fondue fountain with a loud motor.

I make this point not to say that a budget is something to disregard; of course it's important to be mindful of spending and shoot for the inexpensive. But I've been overly mindful, borderline miserly, as evidenced by the fact that I usually discover I had a lot more wiggle room than I originally gave myself. That wiggle room money could have been spent on better quality (or higher quantities of) things, and ain't nobody woulda been mad 'cause I still could've come in at-or-under budget.

Lesson learned: Spend wisely, equal emphasis on both words.

So what am I up to now? After a few days of recovery, and one episode of a webseriesWHERE I DESIGNED THESE SICK AS HELL GAME CARDS

I jumped pretty straight into a prop master gig on my first-ever Lifetime movie. Yes, the great rite of passage! Most film people I've met have worked on a Lifetime movie at least once in their... I won't say it.

And speaking of career milestones, it has been almost surreal the number of times I've had to say just this past week alone, "Sorry I can't work on your thing, I'm already going to be on set." People have been approaching me about projects left and right; many of them referrals. The system works! Don't be a douche and try your hardest, and people will want to work with you. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

This Blog Belongs In A Museum

Houston, we seem to be approaching 2015 life goals. I'm production designing my first feature!

I can't even explain how excited I am for this. It totally fell into my lap [read: I submitted a resume and went through the interview process] at the right time and in just the right way. It's a small but earnest film that combines the aesthetics of theatre and film, and the visuals will rely heavily on imagination and creativity [read: fun times for J-Mil]. The story is difficult to explain, but since I haven't signed an NDA I'll offer the broad strokes. It's a philosophical movie essentially about the human experience, told through the lives of dogs. Who are played by people. And who act like people. But occasionally they eat moldy dumpster sandwiches (hey a prop!). I dunno. It's hard to pin down the whole idea of it in words, but I loved the script when I read it. I love that I get to love the script. What a bummer it would be to PD a script I didn't like.

#ithappens

So if you don't hear from me throughout the month of September, that's what's going down. I'll try to do updates, but by now we all know that I fall down the rabbit hole when a project is in motion. It's because I care so much about my art! *falls on a sword and bleeds to death*

This somehow felt relevant.

This somehow felt relevant.

Hey, come sit with me in this corner for a minute. No, not on that bean bag chair. You're going to sit in a real chair. Why? Because we're sitting in

REAL TALK CORNER

Earlier last week I had the random and hardly believable chance to have coffee with an established set decorator who has been working in the industry for 30+ years. And by established, I mean nearly-choked-and-simultaneously-scalded-my-throat-when-I-fully-realized-what-was-going-on established.

I felt like Bojack Horseman talking to Secretariat. But Baby Bojack Horseman, not the famous adult Bojack Horseman.

Back in the 90s.

Back in the 90s.

For all two of you who are reading this and have given that wonderful show a chance, you understand that I mean it was like meeting an idol. I don't have any specific art department idol figures yet, but I'm capable of extraordinary admiration for the people who have years (decades) of experience following the same passions as I do. And it's so rare to meet one. I of course took full advantage of my opportunity to sit across from this woman and nod my head repeatedly instead of making actual words.

It was intimidating. I just couldn't imagine what I could say about my work that would be even remotely impressive or interesting. I felt like a pile of flour talking to a wedding cake. So after a while I stopped trying and did the most valuable thing I could do: listen.

I didn't get a pep talk so much as a kick in the pants, but either way it was inspiring. I was gazing at the actual void between my current inexperience and future ambitions. It's a pretty wide gap. Seeing how far away the other side is doesn't make me want to quit, which was very self-affirming. I'm intimidated by the long road ahead, but it makes me want to keep going rather than give up. I think that's a sign of passion.

And so is this.

And so is this.

Okay, now that that's done, let's go party over in

THE UNREAL CORNER


Gelato Things On My Plate Lately

I've finally returned to my cyber public safe space after what was pretty much a non-stop month of work. During July I worked on roughly 5 projects, getting to the point where I could really only do those things and not think about anything else.

                                      May I production design your hat, sir?

                                      May I production design your hat, sir?

Like you, my loyal reader who will continue to love me when everyone else is dead and gone!

My projects en review:

1. A feature - When I talked about this last I believe I was doing a little prep and a tiny bit of set dressing. A small role turned into a much larger one and I ended up spending many more days on set than originally planned. Three words: exhausting, epic, long. An all-nighter might have slipped its way in there. My crowning achievement was the display case of gelato I created for our gelato shop scenes:

Like this picture? Stare at it again under the "Art Direction & misc." section of my  portfolio page !

Like this picture? Stare at it again under the "Art Direction & misc." section of my portfolio page!

Relying on good ol' fashioned movie magic, I made these out of mashed potatoes, food coloring, and a variety of very real ingredients that do not smell that great after being cemented in mashed potatoes under a fluorescent light for 12 hours. Thankfully my PAs and I did not have to remove 80 lbs. of smelly taters from the scene; I created a clear tape netting of sorts over the tops of the containers and painted a thin layer of the "gelato" over it to create the illusion that the containers were full. By the end of the day it was just a small if not gory mess of tape, potatoes and crushed up Oreos. Just like Mom used to make!

2. The one with the tiger - a short film shot in real time about a baby white tiger growing up in an animal sanctuary. I didn't snag a picture of the tiger, but check out this insane PD action!

WHOAH

WHOAH

Yeah, intense huh? No, not the the ramp in the corner. That was there. The other part. No, not the cages in the background. Or the other ramps. Come on. Focus. It's the staggeringly amazing part. Oh yeah. See that epic epicness? Mind blowing, right? Do I need to call a doctor? You know, because there are bits of gelatinous brain tissue and glass-sharp bone splinters dripping down the back of your neck? You know, because your mind was blown?

Well, I wouldn't be offended if you don't see what's so cool about this photo. But what if I showed you THIS photo.

WHOAH

WHOAH

You're STILL not impressed. Jeeves, tough crowd. It may not be apparent, but my PA and I spent roughly 10 hours in the mountains of the desert valley cutting excess thrush and foliage and rearranging it along the fence. It was put there to give the enclosure some greenery. I'm basically god. Maybe I should start building artificially intelligent robots in the mountains of Norway. #ExMachinaJoke

3. A webisode - Cool new milestone achieved: the producer found me out of the blue! No referrals, no job ads. He found me on his own online. Thanks, website! *hugs computer, who feels confused because a computer is not a website and is frankly a little annoyed at owner's ignorance to this fact*

4. Another webisode - a comedic short about #CheatDay. I arranged a magnificent array of sugar and sweets and then stood by and watched our talent consume the entire thing before my very eyes.

I'M NOT CRYING.

I'M NOT CRYING.

5. A short film of long proportions - and decidedly one of my coolest projects to date! This thriller/suspense/drama had all sorts of the severe, extreme, and often surreal elements of a thriller/suspense/drama. It was a lot of work, and best of all, a lot of work I was pleased with. I tackled my largest building project so far, which was building an 80-foot hallway at a studio (with a little help from my fwends). And then, y'know, lining the thing with 100 wall clocks. Side note: there is no good way to transport a car with a back seat full of wall clocks and not have an out-of-body experience.

The stills from this shoot are on my portfolio page, or you can be lazy and remain content with the image below.

The one real shame is that this photo was taken after Labor Day.

The one real shame is that this photo was taken after Labor Day.

This flurry of projects was immediately proceeded by a 5-day air conditioned vacation in the desert. And then, as of two days ago:

6. A teaser/short/feature/maybe - I did a couple days' worth of pick-ups and reshoots for a project that was originally shot as a sort of teaser two years ago... since I don't think I was even production designing two years ago I came into the thing blind. The idea was that the footage from the past couple days will be packed onto the teaser to make it a short, and then with proper funding from her majesty, the Great Royal Magical Movie Fairy Godmother, it will eventually get turned into a feature.

The highlight of this project was visiting the massive work/living studio of a successful metal sculpture artist. He lives in this industrial complex that's almost exclusively occupied by artists who live where they work. It was an enchanting urban beehive of boundless craft and creative work wherever you looked-- with a large local brewery at the center of it, what the flip?! And the guy had the most incredible set-up. There was no question a life-and-blood artist lived here. The spacious living room was essentially a gallery floor displaying massive mobiles, sculptures, and geometric technicolor paintings. The whole set-up was extravagantly DIY in the most luxurious sense possible. Art and absurdity around every corner. I pretty much want to live there, except that the other main room of the space is all scrap metal and soldering irons, and fire terrifies me. If I lived there, I would use that space to store all my props and materials, and then I'd rent it out as studio space for filmmakers and artists. Aren't I a great hypothetical pipe dream planner?

 

So what's next up, universe?! Gimme gimme gimme!

Today I Wrote A Blog, And Did 12 Other Things

I've never been a great multi-tasker. I get ve

Sorry, I was messaging a friend on Facebook. What I was saying is, I get very engrossed in activities, to the point where I often forget about other priorities because I get so hung up on one that the others vanish from my consciousness entirely. Sometimes that works well because that item does require most of my attention. But just as often, it's some insignificant detail that I can't seem to dislodge from my frontal lobe. It usually ends in someone shouting something like, "Jessica, we don't have to worry about the opacity of the curtains for another two weeks. Now will you help me get this ravenous coyote's Rabes-infested jaws off of my leg?!"

I used to beat myself up a lot for not being a good multi-tasker. Especially in the thickets of being an executive assistant, everyday felt like one big neverending "You fucked this up." As I've talked with and heard stories from other EAs, I was amazed to learn that this is a common occurrence. What I've surmised is that everyone fucks up the same amount; the only difference is how they react to it. My old reaction-- the nerve-ending of a compulsion to assume that I'm just the worst-- is what a seasoned industry toolbag would refer to as lacking "thick skin." But we don't use that Craigslist language here.

What I realize now, that I didn't quite realize then, is that hating on myself for the sole offense of being human created a terrible cycle of not being able to succeed, because I was so hung up on my failures. "Failures." It's not some big mysterious phenomenon; it's pretty transparent logic. How can I pour my attention and brain power into an activity if 90% of my neurological CPU is being taken up by doubt and self-criticism? How well is any person likely to succeed at anything if there's a big beefy drill sergeant yelling politically incorrect insults at the back of their head?

You love this movie, because you hate yourself.

You love this movie, because you hate yourself.

In short, it's more productive to be nice to myself. And, I'm sure some might add, psychologically healthier.

I don't mean to get into a whole insightful soliloquy about Believing In Your-Self; I address it only as a point of reference for the freedom I've experienced from it in recent times. Cuz dude, let me tell you, I've been multi-tasking like a mother pheasant plucker.

The most pleasant mother pheasant plucker that has ever plucked a mother pheasant.

The most pleasant mother pheasant plucker that has ever plucked a mother pheasant.

AND IT'S GOING OKAY.

SO FAR.

I could attribute this success to a variety of things, but at the root I truly think that few of the circumstances have changed, I'm just approaching the problem differently. I'm taking loving pains to avoid stress and self-aberration. Things do get overwhelming and do often feel like a tsunami wave headed straight for me, but I do the best that I can to remind myself, "Hey! It's just surfing! You love surfing!"

[insensitive caption about real life tragedies]

[insensitive caption about real life tragedies]

And baby, I've been riding the wave. Imperfectly, but with an openness and optimism that replaced the masochistic fear that was there before. I just want to say that this works really, really well for me.

Tangentially related, want to read the article that borderline changed my life a year ago? For those of you who don't read anything informative that isn't a listicle, it makes the psychological argument that humans are naturally bad at/incapable of multi-tasking. WELL GEEZ ISN'T THAT GOOD TO KNOW?

But the real reason I bring up multi-tasking is that nobody else will build my braggers' soapbox for me. In the past week alone I have been approached by 4 people to production design/art-ify projects, and that's in addition to the two projects I'm currently working on simultaneously, AND the bitty web sketch coming up in a couple weeks.

First oRDER OF BUSINESS: BOO-YAH.

Secondly: Such success necessitates multi-tasking. I have no choice but to go day by day with a task list for all these things I promise to other people. And in being acceptance about it, I manage to achieve it. I never thought I'd be able to do this, and so far so good! I've been juggling torches and keeping people happy. Mostly. 2 projects conflicted with the others, so I had to politely decline. But my ego is walking away from the whole ordeal with a grin on its face.

Ruh roh!

Ruh roh!

Things are great. Life is great. Tune in next week when I'm all stressed out and completely negate any hope and wisdom you may have gleaned from this post. <3

 

If you enjoyed my #bragging and wish to reward me for it, please click on the heart below.

Set Dressing on the Side

Exciting news abound! I'm beginning work as a set dresser on a feature that shoots in a couple weeks. I can't tell you much, beyond the fact that it includes asteroids and fortresses.

Okay I give up. There is an asteroid fortress.

Since production isn't for another couple weeks, this time is devoted to prep-- building, painting, and lots and lots of driving to pick up odds and ends on the cheap. As a set dresser/decorator (which are technically two different positions but often get combined into one because we're not all working for Steven Spielberg), my responsibility is specifically to fill sets with all the furnishings and decor that turn a place from house to home. Or, more often than not, abandoned closet to executive office.

This is actually the inside of a Fat Burger bathroom stall.

This is actually the inside of a Fat Burger bathroom stall.

I work under the guidance and creative direction of the production designer and art director to select pieces that establish the appropriate mood and environment of the space, and, where applicable, provide a look into the character's personality.

Let's play a non-optional game! What type of personality and character traits might you ascribe to someone with one of these items in their home?

1. Framed sports posters

2. A funky vase

3. Children's toys

4. A severed head in the fridge

Answer: fun and full of surprises

Answer: fun and full of surprises

But it's a lot more than the pieces themselves that tell the space's story-- it's just as much about the where and the how. Are those books neatly arranged by author on the shelf, or are they scattered all over the desktop? Are there ample couches or just a few metal chairs? Is the living room full of Thomas Kinkade paintings? Why is the living room full of Thomas Kinkade paintings? This is supposed to be a Greek sorority house. Somebody bring in a better set dresser!

This is one of my favorite art department roles, because it satisfies my deeply-rooted compulsive desire to control the way other people live their lives, right down to the knick-knacks in their shadow box. It feels so good.

ALSO it feels fuckin' good to be put back to work! After last week's dreary dollop of a post about why having free time is the worst thing ever, I'm happy to be back in the action.

Side note: seeking animatronic cat shelters in Los Angeles. Tell me your faves!

Side note: seeking animatronic cat shelters in Los Angeles. Tell me your faves!

Click the little pixel heart below to validate my own real, goopy, blood-and-muscles heart. Thanks bae

An Artist Sits In Her Diaper

I'm just sitting here unable to conjure up a particular thought aside from the mental image of my brain swirling around in my head like some gelatinous pink tornado. Life has been slow lately. It's okay for that to happen. Sometimes schedules just go that way. For somebody as antsy as I am that's hard to accept, because I want to fight crime, save the world, and be home before dinnertime. But every so often life gives us these periods of time that are meant for other things besides squishing our noses a little harder against The Great Grindstone Of Life™. They are meant for self-reflection, peace, and observing the cadences of reality. Every now and then they are for getting groceries.

I think what I'm trying to say is, it's been a nice vacation, but I'd like to make moves for it to end. And thanks to the introspective experiences I've had on this life-cation I am ready to dive back into the hectic swarm of busy-bodiedness with enthusiasm, even if it means taking some stress to the chin. Being buried with work isn't entirely on my terms, but emerging from complacency is. I have time to devote to my creative outlets and I would love to approach them vigorously.

 

"Well that was an unusual entry, wasn't it?"

"Yeah I dunno man. You think she's on drugs?"

"Oh most definitely. I'm betting 3 more months tops for that crack whore's teeth."

"Jim?"

"Yeah, Barry?"

"I love you."

ObFEST With Movies

The Dances With Films festival is halfway done and I've made serious strides in getting my money's worth out of the experience. And since I have a pass that I didn't have to pay for, I think that means I'm earning money for every movie that I go to. That's how that works, right?

I've been hitting up mad 9:30pm screenings. I watched the Taxi-Driver-on-prom-night-homage "Soledad" on Sunday, the satisfyingly-existential-portrait-of-human-goodness "Echo Lake" on Tuesday, and plan to watch a biting-my-widdle-toenails-off-suspense-thriller "The Break-In" tonight. This is the tits, you guys!

On par with these Tits.

On par with these Tits.

I love having this big old program packed with indie films that I can basically whip out at any point in the day and decide whether I want to see what's playing. It's like live Netflix. Or a TV that you have to take the Metro to, but it's cool because there's plush seating and surround sound once you get there.

Things have been loud-quiet-loud on the next project front. I hate myself for saying this, but I'm "in-talks" with about 4 different projects simultaneously. The beautiful thing is if this all works out the way it does in my utopian alternative reality where hangnails don't exist and canned tuna is illegal, there will be no schedule conflicts and I can do them all! ALL! Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahwhy are we laughing?

In the meantime, not much else to report, other that a royal load of inspiration. I've had a major flux in the number of movies watched and scripts read in a week, and seeing other peoples' scripts and movies has made me feel more confident in my ability to make my own. I don't know if the root of that feeling is inspiration or sheer arrogance. It feels like arrogance. Let's say it's inspiration. Either way, I want to effing MAKE something! My artsy synapses be scheming like




The Sensational New Gourmet Taco-Pickle Fusion

Wooowowowahwahweewoh over a month since my last post. Proof of the existence of black holes, my friends.

What have I been up to recently? That's so thoughtful of you to ask; you must really be interested. I just finished PD'ing the 1970s film (new pics and more coming soon in my portfolio), which was a total kick in the glass.

(And in a pouch.)

(And in a pouch.)

New experiences on this particular set include:

  • Finding tobacco-free cigars, and getting very inaccurate suggestions from smoke shop owners
  • What To Do With Several Large Pieces of Furniture When You Don't Have A Truck to Store Them On
  • Driving a 17' box truck
    • with much needed morale support
  • Constantly asking the question, "Yes, but did that exist prior to 1974?"
  • Trying to explain to someone with extreme patience and earnestness over the phone what Scotch tape is

This was also a very graphics-heavy production that required lots of band posters, record labels, record album covers, etc. So like everything I do, I chirped, "I'll figure it out!" And before you can say "Does this file include bleed marks" I created roughly 15 fictitious bands and band posters and sent them off to be printed several times over. One valuable lesson I learned when it comes to filling up wall space with graphics: print a fuck ton more than you ever think you could possibly need. I arrived to set one day with a whole load of posters and flyers under my arm, and by the time I was done decorating one hallway I found myself hand-painting posters and stealing flyers to create thick layers of clutter (--what we were going for) for the next hallway. In the end we got a solid, messy scatter of flyers and posters all over the walls, but future me will surely use this as an anecdote for the next production that says, "Just throw a few posters here to break up the white."

Sneak peek movie still courtesy of the lovely director!

Sneak peek movie still courtesy of the lovely director!

So now that that's done, what's next on the horizon?

A horse.

A horse.

I'm once more in the process of talking to productions about Why They Should Hire Me. Currently in the painful purgatory of waiting for answers. BUT IN THE MEANTIME:

FILM FESTIVALS HEY NONNY NONNY

The short film that I PD'd last summer, "Taking a Chance on Love," has been accepted to the Dances With Films festival in LA. In June the short is premiering at the Chinese Theatre. The one with the handprints and the people in the costumes and the whatsis. That's kind of cool!

Click to visit/like the "TACOL" Facebook page. Not to be confused with tacols, the sensational new gourmet taco-pickle fusion.

Click to visit/like the "TACOL" Facebook page. Not to be confused with tacols, the sensational new gourmet taco-pickle fusion.

Other life-in-LA things: I've hit up the UCB Theatre a few times now since it is all of the following:

  • high-larious
  • always going
  • $5-10
  • just a hop, skip and a jump away

A week or so ago Casey and I watched "The Mo Show" there, which is like a parody talk show. Special guest "Beyonce" was hysterical, and the host was weird in a truly great way. I kind of want UCB shows to be my "thing," though that concept can't really be carried out in LA. Everything is everyone's thing and nothing is nobody's thing. What a relief everyone here is so well-adjusted and not constantly going to extraordinary lengths to stand out as special and unique and deserving of love.

It's like 10pm right now and a car alarm has been going off for the past ten minutes. Give it a rest, Liza Minelli. I thought the world deemed those things universally obnoxious and unhelpful. If you think about it, the only thing a car alarm does is make random strangers resent the owner of the car. You want to tell me all that concentrated negative juju doesn't result in bad things happening to that person, like their car getting stolen? I've thought a lot about this.

Boundaries, Bicycles, and Bazooka Bubblegum

Lately I've been feeling pulled in a lot of directions, and despite several utterly WASTED childhood birthday wishes, my ligaments are not made out of Silly Putty. So I've been doing my best to let the winds of fate blow me wherever they may, and only attempt to orient myself once I've made contact with something solid.

Life recently has revolved around boundaries and, more specifically, how to set them. For starters, I was Art Director on a job which was causing me to neglect other very important aspects of my life; and while it would have been a good experience, the pay fell into the category of "demoralizing." Now, I know in this juncture of my life/career I should not expect to be paid what I'm worth, but I also don't have to accept being paid as though I'm worthless. So I set a self-worth boundary for myself and stepped down from the position with as much grace as one can do while saying, "Later, boners!"

In addition to that gig, I've lost both a relationship and a bicycle. The bicycle was stolen off my balcony last night. It would be impressive if it wasn't so obnoxious. Break-ins and robberies have been at the top of my list of worst fears for most of my life, because of the lack of control and violation of boundaries. And while I do feel invaded and extremely creeped out that some man or woman was suspended from my balcony last night, I'm okay. I've been able to accept the reality with a modicum of ease. Still bummed though. It was a nice bike. THROWBACK TO WHEN I FIRST BLOGGED ABOUT IT. *tear* Remember when I didn't have to pay for web hosting?

As for the relationship, well, now I've lost two things that were fun to ride. UP TOP. No but really, the whole thing has been a major bummer and I wish things like love and a common interest in stir-fry were enough to keep people together.

BUT I MEAN HEY LET'S TALK ABOUT FUN SHIT

Over the past couple weeks I've covered a lot of terrain, LA-culture-wise, and I'd like to do my version of a recap, which is still twice as long as anyone else's blog.

1. "Did" West Hollywood

You guys, it is EVERYTHING people say it is. There's just a huge strip of bars along Santa Monica Blvd lit up with neon rainbow signs bumping Carly Rae Jepsen remixes. It's packed, it's lively, and it is 100% guaranteed that every platform dancer hangs serious dong. Casey and I joined our friend and his two friends for the WeHo bar sampler. Thank god those two were with us, otherwise we sexy women (and 1 assured hetero male) would have had to wait in much longer lines. We hit up Micky's, Flaming Saddles, and Mother Lode. Each club had a different vibe and, seemingly, and different category of "gay." All were equally fun and BOOTY-GRAB FREE. I'm telling you, people! It's the promised land foretold of in the Gay Bible, right after the chapter about the parting of the Butt Sea.

2. Hiked the Culver City Stairs

Fuck that, right?

Fuck that, right?

My fitness-junkie friend wanted to celebrate her birthday upon this beast of a staircase at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Well, I had neither been to or heard of such a place, so when deciding what to wear, I did a brief Google search. Well, guys, little did I know that whatever photo I had referenced was actually a picture of the stairs from half-way up. You can imagine Casey and my's surprise when we arrived in our tennis sneakers (or, in Casey's case, moccasins) and realized we would be climbing an Aztec fucking pyramid. Luckily, despite the intense height it's only about a 15-minute climb, and the breeze when you get to the top is ORGASMIC. Words you never want to hear at the top: "That was fun... let's do it again!"

3. Went to Brokechella

I think the color of this submission call is "Brokechella yella'."

I think the color of this submission call is "Brokechella yella'."

Second year of doing Brokechella in place of a tradition I've never been a part of! Brokechella was super fun this year; virtually the same set-up as last year but a little more organized and a lot more crowded. I got an awesome Crayola coloring book which syncs with an app that turns your drawings into flying 3-D characters. I did not, however, get a free Spearmint Rhino stress ball like last year. Lame.

SIGN-OFF ANNOUNCEMENT: Next week I'm escaping LA and spending a week as a camp counselor! I'll be up in Occidental which, according to the internet, is a town that does not have any gas stations. I'm excited to escape the literal and mental smog of Los Angeles and just make lanyards and go on 5-hour hikes and sing songs about the cost inflation of Bazooka bubblegum.

General Thai-Foolery

Reports of fun-ness!

New cultural terrain covered this past weekend. While most people were out at church and binging on chicken-shaped candies that taste like a wet marshmallow someone dropped in sand, I was in Thai Town with a good friend of mine celebrating Thai New Year!

Which is totally a thing. So I guess this means white folk didn't invent the concept of years?

I live just a couple blocks from Thai town, which is a 3- or 4-block stretch on Hollywood Boulevard that has more Thai restaurants and massage parlors than the already insane amount everywhere else in LA. This strip was blocked off to make way for a crowded and colorful row of tents, street performers, food vendors, and even Thai boxing. That last one was new to me, since the only Thai boxing I know of is when I take my leftover pad see ew to-go.

My friend, whom we may call Smichard, is somewhat new to LA and is in fact the inheritor of my old Chinatown place. We were both fresh-faced at the Thai New Year celebration, which only added to the wonder of it all. We of course got my favorite Thai snack that I first blogged about a while ago, Thai tacos:

Pictured from left to right: Chanell, Charles, Bambi, Theresa, Mamie, Delena, Mitchel, Vanita, Katherina, Kathy, Ming, Julia, Arletha, Jacquelyne, Magaret, Madlyn, Madge, Ignacia, Rosette, Boris. German, Erline, Douglas, Mae, Matthew, Lisabeth, Lorelei, Alene, Vernia, Janna&nbsp;

Pictured from left to right: Chanell, Charles, Bambi, Theresa, Mamie, Delena, Mitchel, Vanita, Katherina, Kathy, Ming, Julia, Arletha, Jacquelyne, Magaret, Madlyn, Madge, Ignacia, Rosette, Boris. German, Erline, Douglas, Mae, Matthew, Lisabeth, Lorelei, Alene, Vernia, Janna 

Confoundlingly delicious little dessert crepes with some kind of marshmallow fluff and root/fruit shavings on top. We also got lunch at Sapp Coffee Shop, an unsuspecting Thai cafe decorated with window stickers of approval from Yelp, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, etc. As you might imagine business was crazy on the block during Thai New Year, but Smichard and I wriggled our way in... for a brief moment falling victim to a slight misunderstanding and being seated at a very small table across from an older Thai couple. After about 3 minutes and 46 seconds of very forced small talk, we eventually got our own table, enjoyed Thai teas and palm juice (both just variations of liquid sugar), and nommed on a deliciously apropos Thai lunch.

Some photos of the festival:

After lunch we went and accomplished one of my longtime LA bucket list items: hiking to the Hollywood sign. I know how cliche that sounds, but would you rather I take staged photos on the Walk of Fame? I already got that shit out of my system in high school anyway.

With my Chewbaka-like hair and Yoda-like social skills, this is a true family portrait.

With my Chewbaka-like hair and Yoda-like social skills, this is a true family portrait.

...And again in college.

I would NEVER touch that ground today.

I would NEVER touch that ground today.

The hike was fantastic, and the view has made me sure of where I will eventually build my corner office. Okay, I feel SUPER dumb for asking, but wtf is this big reservoir-looking body of water?

Is this the fountain of wealth all the people up in the Hollywood Hills toss their sacrificial transvestite hobo corpses into? I feel like I should have heard of it by now if there's some big old lake in the middle of LA.

I can't muster up the strength to ask Google, so I will maintain my original hypotheses.

During our hike, a serendipitous happenstance led Smichard and me off the main trail and down a steep, narrow pathway that you'd miss if you weren't looking hard enough. It was the sort of trail worthy of having NatGeo helicopters fly over it with an IMAX camera pointing down at the few waving hikers traveling along it. The trail, which in all seriousness begins at Hugh Hefner Overlook, traces the thin spine of the hilltops and leads to a magical place.

Can you spy the hidden swastikas in this picture? Find all 10 to win a prize!

Can you spy the hidden swastikas in this picture? Find all 10 to win a prize!

Behold, friends, the Tree of Wisdom. This lonesome mysterious tree stands on the peak of the hill, like Simba on Pride Rock.

Not to be confused with Gay Pride Rock, which is located in West Hollywood.

Not to be confused with Gay Pride Rock, which is located in West Hollywood.

Smichard and I hiked all the way to the tree, which was one of the rare occasions in LA where I felt like I was doing something I should be doing. It's a magical place that I encourage everyone without a paralyzing fear of heights to visit. I went up to the Hollywood sign seeking fulfillment, and received so much more.

~Heart this post? Click the heart below~

PD Eye for the Real Guy

Life is on the grander side of things today; I just completed Phase One of my latest production [[interior]] design project.

Before:

After:

3 days' work in the can!

By far one of the best perks of this line of work-- film sets or *REAL LIVE* bedrooms-- is that the end result is visual. When the job is done, Cinderella is in her ballgown. It's especially impressive because you saw that raggedy-ass get up she was wearing before.

I mean really, Bonnie.

I mean really, Bonnie.

What you don't see is how everything goes down in between, and that's the third dimension of standing back and seeing the final product. The irony I've experienced is that the most visible/impressive aspects of a project usually require the least amount of time and effort. I didn't get  very good pictures of it-- for reasons I blame on exhaustion and the amount of sweat on my hands-- but the ceiling was the biggest wow-factor of this design. I strung nautical rope across the ceiling and hung long strips of burlap perpendicular, the end result being a fabulously cozy ship sails/grown-up blanket fort look. While this did take up a lot of time, it was one of the easiest parts of the project... but that new closet rod in the closet. MY GOD the closet rod. It took almost an entire day of driving back and forth and finding a suitable rod to install in there. Why? Various silly reasons, particularly that the closet was 73.5" wide instead of the generally-accepted-standard 72". The point being, who on SATURN could have predicted the amount of time it would take to nail that one small piece? And you won't hurt my feelings if you didn't even notice the new rod in the photos... it's almost always the little shit that nobody notices that takes the most time. I guess the idea is that you would only notice that lack of a curtain if I DIDN'T spend 45 minutes trying to hang it up.

Confound you, cloth of death!

Confound you, cloth of death!

*Yawn* It's lethargy time. Good night, and please applaud any complete sentences you may have read in this blog. It took a long time to write them, but you'd never know that by reading them.

I was so sick I forgot to give this post a title last week

I begrudgingly blog tonight because I'm in the throes of a cold. I've never heard of a cold that came at a convenient time and this one is no exception. Tomorrow I'm starting a job helping style up someone's apartment... it's like the real life version of my job as a production designer. Of course, it's only now I realize that I should have been consuming episodes of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" as a bored teenager. But no, I just had to ride the Next Bus over and over again.

THIS. This is television.

THIS. This is television.

And this is riveting new media journalism. G'night!

Boogie Exciting

Due to a combination of my lack of experience in my profession and in life as we know it, I always default to panic the second I'm not swamped with work. Especially coming off such an all-consuming project as a feature film, I've settled like the little particles of snowglobe sand back into my "daily routine." The quote-unquote is there because truthfully, I don't actually have a set routine in any circumstance. I wake up every morning wondering what time I've woken up, achieve most of my face-the-day obligations the way a pinball machine scores points, and somehow manage to squeeze a living out of the 12-14 hours that follow. I think the only true routine is that I do this every day.

This, friends, is the glamorous life of an artist.

Did I mention I can't afford cable?

Anyway, in the midst of me crunching imaginary numbers (such as √i) in my head of how poor I would soon be if I didn't get another gig soon, life brought in a monsoon of opportunities. It was so exciting and surprising it nearly knocked me off my metaphorical boogie board.

Specifically, this metaphorical boogie board.

Specifically, this metaphorical boogie board.

Everything ranging from referrals, to replies to resumes I sent out, to straight up out-of-the-blue phone calls came pouring in for new opportunities for me between yesterday and today... all doing things that I love! No further details until things are cemented, but the main point is that WOW. Life gave me like 24 hours to doubt it before it pulled through and was all, "Nah J you cool, get on my back and let's do this." And so I'm flopping my belly right back on my boogie board and letting life carry me to the next exciting thing.

In summary: grateful that I get to have the life that I have. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.

Well, my thai take-out showed up 15 minutes early and urgently needs to be addressed. Talk to you later boo-boos.

 

~Click the heart below if you read and enjoyed, peas and thank you~

Webel Without A Blog

I told you I probably wouldn't blog for a while, and did I deliver on my promise or what? So much has happened since I last forced myself to sit in front of my computer screen and emit a coherent string of words. I have to admit, it's kind of difficult doing it now. But makes natural me mouth-words, so not to worry.

THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED IN MY WECENT WEBLAPSE

1. Settled into a new apartment. Yes, I'm here! I'm actually here! Or-- well fuck, I've been here for a month already. It's crazy. The place still feels super new, probably because we're still in the process of setting it up. Casey and I have gone on extravagant hunts to find the furniture and hardware necessary to make ourselves comfortable in our new home. We picked up a couple curb-couches and discovered that we have enough kitchen counter space to accommodate every kitchen appliance known to man since the 1980s. We went a surprisingly long time without lamps, and an even longer time without addressing the stacks of miscellaneous mail sitting out on my keyboard. Spoiler: the mail is still there. Since I know you're on the edge of your seat, I would also like to announce that as of today we have a coffee table! So come on over for coffee whenever you want and we will have a surface for you!*

2. Worked on a feature film. 2015 New Year's resolution has been officially HALF-ACHIEVED as of February. My goal is to PD a feature this year... maybe posting that on the internet will make me more accountable to it. Anyway, the whole thing was a fantastic happenstance. I was being interviewed for two different projects simultaneously, the stars seemed aligned, I felt like the prettiest girl at the prom... and then I got ditched by both.

[pig's blood added for dramatic effect]

[pig's blood added for dramatic effect]

This was a humbling moment, but one that lasted less than 24 hours before a PD from past projects hit me up:

"What are you doing now through the end of the month?"

"Nothing! JK lots of crying probably!"

"Want to be my props master?"

"Sure! Guess I should cancel my trip to Tijuana for illegal antidepressants! Ha ha ha!"

And so for almost 3 weeks I worked in art department on a feature film.

[rainbows added for historical accuracy]

[rainbows added for historical accuracy]

The only other time I've specifically been a props master was for a high school play, where my only job was to yell at people if I saw them touching the props I had not acquired and was probably more likely to break or lose than anyone else. Doing props on a feature was an interesting job for me. I was in charge of selecting and managing all the movie's props, which are essentially any item that is specifically called for in the script. Cigarettes, whiskey glasses, diaries... straightforward stuff. It did get a little more in-depth with the prop weapons. We had a prop gun and a prop knife set. The prop gun was treated like an actual gun, and I had to give a formal safety warning whenever we used it. It was through these experiences that I learned I do not know how to look cool holding a gun. I suppose that's why I'll never be a successful actor. The fake knives were a little more fun since we had a retractable, a rubber, and a hero.

SPEEDY FILM VOCAB SESH

Hero: The "real" or "real-looking" version of whatever you have doubles for. In the case of these knives, the hero was an actual knife whose blade had been dulled. That's the one that gets all the sexy close-ups. For scenes that involve the actual swinging and jabbing, we use the rubber or the retractable.

Retractable: A plastic knife with a retractable blade, used for making it look like you're stabbing the living shit out of someone when really all you're doing is lightly poking their belly fat.

Rubber: A rubber knife. And in European countries, a condom.

The movie was an overall fabulous experience with a cool/qualified crew, convenient location**, exciting cast (I'll never tell!), and lemon meringue pie. I learned a LOT from people who have been in the industry decades longer than I have. I was among the youngest crew members there. Not to brag or anything, but... I'm kind of a baby.

And I play with knives!

And I play with knives!

3. Became a different age. My birthday was on the 24th, and I spent it working 12 hours on a film set in Santa Clarita. I will say that if I had to be working on my birthday, it would've been there. So I lucked out. By that point in time I'd bonded with many cast and crew members, and the motherfuckers surprised me with an ice cream cake. They also bought me a pair of boxing gloves, for reasons I will never understand or question.

4. Got my spa on. Treat Yo Self 2015! After an exhausting two weeks of working 5:30pm-5:30am everyday, I formally wrapped myself on shooting by taking a birthday spa break to Grand Spa in Koreatown, which was... bizarre. I wish I could've live-tweeted the entire experience. When Casey and I arrived for our acupressure sessions, we were each assigned a locker containing a fresh warm bath robe and towel. We stripped down to nothing, put on the robes, and awkwardly waited in the lobby per the receptionist's instructions. Minutes later, a Korean woman literally took us by the hands and led us down three flights of a very industrial staircase. This was some Miyazaki shit.

At the third flight down we were escorted into separate dark rooms... they didn't even let us say goodbye :'(

Inside the room I disrobed, lay prostrate on a cushiony padded table, and for the next hour let a mysterious woman beat the shit out of me in a somehow medically beneficial way.

It was AMAZING.

Butt massages > everything you've ever known

I left feeling ten pounds lighter and ten inches taller. I still have my suspicions that she was really just massaging catnip into my pores the entire time, but either way, it felt incredible.

And as if that wasn't enough, once the acupressure treatment was over, Casey and I had access to the rest of the spa, which included a steam room, 3 sauna pools, and showers. It almost embarrasses me to admit what a fascinating and empowering experience this was. Women of all ages and shapes were strolling about in the nude, just getting their soak on. Nobody made any effort to cover themselves with towels or hunch over with their arms wrapped around their torsos, which would be my first impulse in some sort of bizarre public situation where I suddenly had no clothes. The women weren't necessarily in-your-face about it either, being all like, "BITCH I'm an empowered naked woman! My boobs are worth as much as the Hope diamond! Each!"

Now, I've certainly grown up immersed in the idea that only super models are allowed to be naked. If you've got belly wrinkles or uneven tits or large areolas then you'd better buy a girdle or a mumu and leave the pool immediately. The sheer honesty and flat-out frankness of nudity in the spa was a kind of culture shock. This is how we should be regarding human bodies! Not trying to concoct some impossible all-encompassing beauty standard that "includes" the fat chicks and the moms with stretch marks... just drop all the compartmentalization tactics, kick it in your skin jammies, and carry on with your day. Even the act of willingness to be completely naked in front of an impartial (hopefully certified) stranger so that they can punch your back until it doesn't hurt anymore is a powerful thing. It does just a little bit to take the edge off the stigma of bodies and nudity. I had a profound experience in that 24-hour Korean spa.

5. Booked a new PD gig. Brang it! Very excited to continue doing this stuff that I love doing.

6. Did your mom. Boosh.

 

*Coffee not provided

**everything being shot in one mansion was convenient. Said mansion being 25 miles away in Santa Clarita, however, was not.