(Throwback Thursday: My final column for INsite Boston, originally published in April 2007. I still feel that I wrote this shortly after Hollywood reached a turning point; when the advent of the internet paved the way for celebrity worship to give way to schadenfreude. Sensing that, I realized I had said all that there was to be said about the era’s most ridiculed stars… at least until I spent several years writing celebrity news — and continuously making fun of them.)
“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”
(Throwback Thursday: A glimpse back at my reasonably short-lived days as a production assistant, and what it taught me about making movies. First published in INsite Boston in April 2006.)
Astronauts and firemen, ballerinas and princesses. These are the professions we choose as kids to conclude that all-important statement, ”When I grow up I want to be…”
Granting power and prestige, filled with excitement and adventure — is it any wonder these lives appeal to five-year olds?
What could be better?
(Throwback Thursday: A version of the following first appeared in INsite Boston in 2006. Forgive the dated references — including the very notion of sweeps overall, which is all but dead thanks to year-round programming and the diminishing importance of live ratings. The overall content here is still relevant! In fact, it’s interesting that many of the new shows I discussed became TV behemoths that are still discussed to this day. This is sort of a fun look back at a moment in time that may or may not have been a milestone.)
Life for a person with high-quality tastes can be hard. Because high quality isn’t always available! With the silver screen tarnished by an abnormally high suck factor this year, I recently found myself in need of an alternative to the late-summer doldrums of September and the horror schlock of October. I turned to television — that handy box that plays my DVDs for me, and is rumored to show live programming.
(Flashback Friday: The danger in writing about something “cutting edge” is that you will soon sound ridiculous. So I’ve learned upon reexamining my old columns, such as this one about the dawning of DVR and how it changed our television viewing processes forever. Of course, this was well before streaming changed the game even further; at this point, it was still rather mesmerizing just to choose when you watched any given program. This piece was first published in INsite Boston in March 2007.)
Architects and screenwriters know equally well: structure is important. Without it, stories come crumbling down.
The same is true in life. Without a schedule, we’re bound to idle away hours chatting online, playing Guitar Hero, contributing nothing to the world at large. To remedy this, many have looked to work or school to dictate how they spend their time.
Me? I looked to television.
(Throwback Thursday: Today we’re flashing back to October 2006. It’s hard to imagine that news about social media was once a novel and somewhat shocking thing. This piece reflects the moment that social networking stopped being just a college thing and started making national headlines; a time when “web series” wasn’t really a thing. It seemed ridiculous at the time. This piece was first published in INsite Boston.)
Close your eyes. Imagine a bizarre futuristic world in which words like “yahoo” and “google” dominate the global lexicon. Where “podcasting” and “blogging” are daily occurrences. Where “Add me!” has replaced “Call me!”
Now open your eyes. That future is here.
School’s out, the sky is blue, and that summer sloth will be cured by just one thing—caffeine, and lots of it. Thus coffee shops are still the hangout du jour in the summertime, a place to chit-chat over chai or grab an ice-blended en route. But as the ceaseless summer populace buzzes in and out, people rarely notice a handful of solitary freaks in their midst: holed up in corners, avoiding eye contact, downing espresso by the gallon, these lone losers posses secret, special powers…
But their gift is also a curse, for it has made them outcasts.
These freaks are writers.
(A version of the following first appeared in INsite Boston in 2005. Please forgive the dated references. The overall content is still relevant!)
There’s a golden rule in courtship: “Never talk business on a first date.” (Ditto politics and religion.) Likely because, for most people, that’s a fast pass to Snoresville. But what if your business is entertainment?
Someone recently had the bright idea to take me DVD shopping as a “get to know you” exercise on a first date — what better way to get familiar with a film major than to see what movies he likes? I knew I was doomed when my date held up a copy of a certain Nicole Kidman film in which she may or may not have been a robot and said, “Wasn’t this great?”
(Flashback Friday: This month marks the eight-year anniversary of this slithery thriller. So here’s a look back at a curious moment in film history; an examination of movies of the “so bad it’s good” variety, and one of the few that was actually aiming for that mantle. While certainly not notable for its innovative content — or anemic box office performance — this movie proved an interesting lesson to Hollywood nonetheless. First published in INsite Boston in August 2006.)
Any cineaste worth his salty popcorn knows the legend of the Lumiere brothers’ 1895 short Arrival Of A Train At La Ciotat, one of the first films ever screened. (Back in 1895, they preferred titles to tell it like it is — no fancy-pants The Upside Of Anger or Broken Flowers.) The Parisian audience settled into their seats awaiting a charming new form of entertainment and, as said train arrived at the aforementioned station, they collectively jumped up and bolted out of the theater for fear of being run over.
Now that’s effective filmmaking.