I Can Do It! I Can Have It All!

Hello, my lovelies!

Holy cheez whiz, time has passed! Months really. 6 months, 19 days, 4 hours, and 12 seconds to be exact. But who’s counting?

Here’s the great thing about that: I’ve never really stopped writing. In fact, I’m being paid to do just that. It’s for a national company on the rise called ezCater and it’s beautiful and wonderful and all things good. (How could they NOT be – they hired yours truly?).

Our logo looks a little somethin’ like this:

ezcater

Voila!

The great thing about the job is it’s given me some inside knowledge about the food industry on a national scale, which means added material for this humble blog o’ mine. So stay hungry you sexy lil’ movie-junkin’ mountain goats – there’s much material abound. Movies and food will be living in such close quarters, someone’s bound to get pregnant!

I already have posts in the works, from foodie film analysis to national highlights of dine-in theaters and much much more. It’ll be funny and cute and informative, so stay tuned!

In the meantime (and in keeping with the theme of screensnacks), here’s a self-penned post featured on my company’s blog, for a nationally-known chain inspired by a certain comedic film actor of the 1930’s. Enjoy, my lovelies!

I Can Have It All

Still hungry? Eat us up on twitter.

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NYC Weekend: Hedwig & The Angry Inch

If you forced me at gunpoint to pick my life’s current theme, I’d probably knock you out, take the gun, and demand to see your boss (I may even throw in a cool one-liner like “I ain’t got time to bleed” or some such thing, just to drive home my badassery.)

But if you had the foresight to roofie my drink ahead of time, I’d confidently say: ADAPTATION.

For new readers, let’s recap, shall we? New home. New job. Single… All within a 2 week period. Something like Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball and left me to pick up all the broken pieces. It hasn’t been easy, but all things considered, my life’s been pretty great.

About two weeks ago, I embarked on an adventure to NYC with my main sistah-bros Lillian, Paige, and Casey. Our reason? To catch the Broadway reboot of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, starring Neil Patrick effin’ Harris! (You may have heard of it: it was nominated for some major theater award no one’s ever heard of.)

Photo by Joan Marcus

And involves NPH in drag. Need I say more? 

(Photo by Joan Marcus)


Quick background: Hedwig started as an off-Broadway musical in 1998, became a smash cult film in 2001, and is now the Broadway show your mom’s probably heard about, courtesy of Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

The play is framed as a rock concert. Throughout the band’s “set”, Hedwig tells the story of her former lover that stole her songs and made it big as Tommy Gnosis. (Within the play’s story, Tommy also happens to be playing a much larger show right next door.)


But back to my theme: ADAPTATION. Fitting, since that’s the precise quality that made this show so incredible from the beginning. In 1998, writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell and songwriter Stephen Trask sought out concert venues in order to legitimize The Angry Inch as a band. Learning the names and histories of each venue and integrating that into the material teased audience expectation even more. Many inevitably scratched their heads asking,  “How much of this is staged?”

In the same way that Hedwig, the character, identified as both male and female, Mitchell’s story fell somewhere between two worlds. Part rock show, part stage play.

So In 2014, director Michael Mayer faced the challenge of maintaining Hedwig’s spirit while introducing it to a more mainstream audience. Leaving purists to ask: how do you gracefully transition from fringe theater “rock show” to BIG Broadway musical? How do you make something feel unpredictable when so many people are watching?

When we arrived, my sister noticed a Playbill for Hurt Locker: The Musical on the floor by her seat. Hmph. Odd. How had I never heard of this? When we looked up, we saw broken-debris set pieces, demolished remnants of brick walls, and a beat-up car centerstage. Then NPH came out in all his glamorous genderfuck glory (courtesy of stylist Arianne Phillips), performed the opening number (“Tear Me Down”), and explained that Hurt Locker: The Musical had been cancelled on its opening night…

But not really. That show was as farcical as Hedwig’s cleavage.

There was a method to that moment of madness: the band never stopped interacting with the “discarded” set. At one point, NPH made a fall you’d swear was unstaged, but beneath his feet was sheet music from the “defunct” fake musical. (The piece turned into a beautiful solo number for Hedwig’s wife Yitzhak, played by the magnetic Lena Hall).

Hedwig is a show that knows its space and audience, and adheres to both. There was even mention of David Belasco, the former owner who allegedly haunts the venue to this day. His possible presence resulted in some entertaining (seemingly off-the-cuff) banter with an audience member (who Paige and I have since dubbed Hottie McHotpants). Seriously, though: Foxy Daddy defined.

carvephoto

Carve Unique Sandwiches & Pizza

The trip’s food highlight was a nifty pizza joint called Carve, which was just minutes from our venue. It was affordable (by Broadway dining standards), delicious, and conveniently open 24 hours. We sort of cheated on this one – Paige had been there just a few months ago when she and her better half saw Mike Nichols’ Betrayal (starring Rachel Weisz and, more importantly, Daniel Craig… Mmmmm… Daniel Craig). We knew it’d be a hit.

The remainder of the trip was dedicated to walks in Central Park, late night fro-yo adventures, bonding, and purchasing Fat Lady street art.

There were downsides to the trip, too. The rain dampened our Empire State plans, the traffic was horrendous, and food and drink was astronomically expensive. But none of that mattered much. For every snag, there was a step back, a new plan, and two steps forward. In a moment of crisis, we’d respond with the ingenuity of NPH, stomping in high heels, groin to the collective face of an unsuspecting audience.

It all worked out because I was with people who reminded me that the world doesn’t need to fall apart when things don’t go as planned. If anything, these fiascos make for a much better show.

Till next week, my lovelies!

PS.

You know the “follow the bouncing ball” sing-a-long trope? Have you ever wondered how to make that into something filthy?

The End of An Era…

Friends, family, and loyal readers! Gather ‘round! It’s storytime:

As many of you probably already know, after exactly 2.25 (mostly) wonderful years of dating, and about 10 months of weekly blogging, AJ Leto and Spencer Hensel have decided to amicably split.

We know, we know. These two stars of sage and screen seemed to have it all – an impossibly hip pup, an uncanny ability to pack up and vacation at every whim, and a multi-million dollar web page, to boot! But, my lovelies, there was trouble in paradise. So we bid adieu, and now we’re through. Kaput. Donezo. Ov-ah. Comprende?

We ultimately decided to go our separate ways. Worry not, though – we’re both in good health and focused on living our lives to the fullest. (Spencer actually just took a job in Boston, and now lives a luxurious 10 minute walk away from Davis Square in Somerville. YAY!)

So now that y’all know we’re not dead or bedridden, you may be wondering – what about screensnacks? Well, contrary to the most recent inactivity, this humble little site is not quite dead yet. Of course, it won’t quite be the same either. Here’s a rundown:

  • Spencer will be taking primary ownership of the blog.
  • As Head Honcho, he will be covering food, movies, travel, and probably Hans Hugo, because that lil’ diva just can’t get enough camera time.
  • In case you haven’t noticed – the site has had a facelift! This new look is designed to be simpler, cleaner, and a bit less cluttered. We think it’s an upgrade from the old look.
  • Starting with this post, content will be updated weekly.
  • Guest bloggers will still be featured.
  • And last, but not least – check out the screensnacks Twitter Page, which will feature lots of cool links, photos, recipes, news, and movie chatter. It’ll be updated daily, plus, when something is posted on the blog, you’ll see it there, too (that’s marketing!).

Thanks to all of you who have made screensnacks such a rewarding project. We’ve both grown a lot by way of this thing and there’s still a bright future ahead. So please, stay tuned.

Till next week, my lovelies!


Twitter_logo_blue Give us a Follow, all the cool kids are doin’ it.

 

5 Reasons It Sucks To Write A Screenplay in 2014

So you saw a few movies and you’re ready to write one of your own. Awesome! Here’s why you might want to rethink that one:

1. People have seen it all.

Not really, of course. As long as there are humans, or David Bowie, there will always be invention. Sure, there are plenty of porn-addicted psychopathic snot-faced delinquents out there that think there’s nothing new under the sun. They’d snort bath salts before they’d paint or pick flowers in a field, and that just ain’t healthy. (Unless you’re allergic to pollen or something, which is frankly just a little bit sad.)

Gonna be honest, this is not a cute look for you.

Gonna be honest, this is not a cute look for you.

This impressed-by-nothing mentality means that when something genuinely beautiful or inspired comes along, people will be too busy shitting on it to realize that they just missed another opportunity to salvage their humanity. That’s why so many movies are loud, graphic, and/or fast. In the Age of Now, there’s no room for subtext (unless the subtext is that everything and everyone is awful or untrustworthy). Which brings me to my next point:

2. Whimsy is out of style.

Remember the Wizard of OzMary PoppinsWilly Wonka? Even Amelie, just a little over a decade ago? These were colorful, quirky movies with a lot of heart and musical numbers and memorable characters. They didn’t rely on shock or nihilism or gore, they were windows into elaborate fantasy worlds, as delicate and otherworldly as they were hopeful and optimistic.

It makes sense that our culture evolved the way it did. Progress has made us more interconnected but less attached, passive viewers of an increasingly complex world. We consume media more frequently and when we revisit the stories that once delighted us, we do so with critical lenses. Trust me, I’ve got examples: 2013’s second look at Mary Poppins, Saving Mr. Banks, revealed its real-life creator to be an uppity control freak whose dad was a self-destructive alcoholic. Sam Raimi’s Oz prequel, Oz: The Great and Powerful, re-imagined The Wicked Witch as a heartbroken harlot who embraced her darkest, most hate-filled ambitions and devolved from a white-washed hottie to a green-faced nottie. Then you have Tim Burton sucking the blood out of classics like it’s his job. Which, yep… it is. Seriously, did this do it for anyone:

Just One Facelift Short of Joan Rivers.

Just one facelift short of Joan Rivers.

Even the world of animation is getting darker by the minute. The brilliant Pixar is a beacon for creativity in contemporary Hollywood, but the plot-lines of Wall-E and Up tread on decidedly sad territory. Meanwhile, Laika’s Coraline and ParaNorman fully embrace the macabre, while adult-geared gems like Mary & Max and Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist  are downright morose. These movies usually end well, but they’re not shy about showing audiences just how effed the world can be. I can’t fault them for their sincerity, but wouldn’t it be great to see a handful of well-crafted movies in 2014 that were just unabashedly naive? For the children?!!

So okay, cheery, smartly crafted stories would be nice. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s remember that:

3. Studios Don’t Want It Unless It’s Familiar. 

Harry Potter, The Avengers, Hunger Games, Man of Steel, Twilight, Dark Knight – these had surefire box office appeal, because every one of them already proved lucrative. So here you are, laboring over your quiet indie with multi-dimensional characters and relatable problems that’s a totally NEW take on the same old shit, but hang tight, what’s the backstory? If it ain’t 3-7 books’ worth of stuff, and hasn’t topped the New York Times’ Best Sellers List, then good luck!

Let’s say you somehow strike gold with an original idea. Chances are, it is not especially innovative or abstract. Some Corporate Lug-Head decided it was close enough to a story he’d already seen, with enough key differences to make it not-an-infringement-of-copyright and you got the green light. Let’s be real: do you think Tyler Perry became a multi-millionaire by having an uncompromising artistic vision? No, he became a household name because it’s scientifically proven that men in dresses are funny. No matter how good or bad they look, no matter how accurate or distant their impression of a woman may be. Whether you’re RuPaul or Wesley Snipes, it’s funny. Always. Perry knew this and went all in.

The face of a man who's got it all figured out.

The face of a man who’s got it all figured out.

The moral of his story: resign yourself to the fact that what fulfills you isn’t necessarily what makes you shit-faced rich, and you’re one step closer to success. But even so:

4. The Odds of Making It Are Way Against You.

Realistically consider the fact that there are maybe tens of thousands of people who pursue this path every year. How many make it? What did it take for them to get to that place?

I’ll give you a hint, raw talent alone didn’t land them the spot. It was writing. Rewriting. Writing. Editing. Rewriting. Networking. Finding Opportunity. Finding Feedback. Writing. Re– You get the picture. It’s a lot of work that demands a lot of time people don’t have. Especially people straight out of college with $100,000+ in debt; forget the disadvantage of not living in LA. Young dreamers such as myself just aren’t statistically in a very good place. Nor are we actually. I guess that’s why modern media is so cynical. Not that I can really knock it. Being perfectly honest, I didn’t watch Breaking Bad for its elaborate song-breaks (though I totally would have if Vince made that a real thing).

I always thought this was a missed opportunity to break into song.

I always thought this was a missed opportunity to segue into a musical number. You can see it in his eyes.

Speaking of Vince and his brand of nothing-goes-right storytelling, let’s get to our 5th and final Reason that it Sucks to Write a Screenplay in 2014:

5. It’s Tough As Balls.

Just like that story you’re writing about the guy or gal who faces insurmountable odds, there’s nothing easy about this career. If you really REALLY want it, you’ll get beaten up and spit on and face a TON of rejection. If you believe in your ideas and you are determined to preserve them, it’s gonna take an even bigger dose of some Queen Bey fierceness. In that case, calling yourself a screenwriter might not be enough. You may have to band together with a group of likeminded merry men and take the reigns yourself as director. Auteurs may be rare, but the good ones are most certainly in fashion – creative giants like Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, and Alfonso Cuaron are just a few happy dissenters in a largely uncreative mainstream. They are all visionary, whether it be as storytellers, art directors, or tech-innovators. And above all, they have TREMENDOUS authority over the outcome of their work.

Ok, so maybe whimsy isn't dead.

Ok. So maybe whimsy isn’t dead.

Nobody said success would be a sure thing. But the reward for wholly devoting yourself to your passion must be indescribable. I’m only now making realistic steps toward my greater goal of becoming a successful storyteller, but it pays to remember: you have to start somewhere. Even if I’m only just now in the infant stage.

Here’s to hoping for some big leaps in 2014.

Enjoy it, my lovelies! Now’s the time.

Disney’s Guide to Saving Mr. Banks

Why do writers write? Why do singers sing? Why do filmmakers, um… film-make? Saving Mr. Banks explores one of the most infamous creative collaborations of the 20th century to find an answer. We all know how the story ends, but now we’re asked: how did it begin?

As legend would have it, Walt Disney made a promise to his daughters that he would make their favorite book into a movie. Being that he’s Walt-effing-Disney, it’s not exactly the loftiest claim, but then again, he didn’t know a lick about the person he’d have to go through to make that happen. P.L. Travers, the author of the series, was notoriously, em, exact about her characters. And she wasn’t really into fun things like music or animation either.

So Walt picked away at this lady for 20 years, before she finally considered a Disney adaptation. All it took, thanks be Jeebus for the movie’s sake, was a thick slab of guilt spread atop a slice of tenacity.

But even that first “yes” was more of a “maybe” and it was hardly smooth sailing from there. Little things, like mustaches and the exterior of the Banks’ home and the use of red were met with hasty objections. In the beginning, it seemed downright nit-picky, but through a series of flashbacks we learned a bit more about her own private compass.

The “real” Mr. Banks, Travers’ father, was an alcoholic, her mother suicidal. And the women who allegedly came to directly inspire Mary herself was Travers’ Aunt Ellie. As one might imagine, when two parents are helplessly lost, the nanny often serves as a beacon of hope for the children. In Travers’ early life, her imagination didn’t “save” her from her situation or her father from his illness. Nothing really got better.

saving-mr-banks-trailer1-hypabledotcom

So then, why the fictional super-nanny? Why children’s books that provided whimsical adventures for its readers?

Whether Travers’ true intentions were ever documented, I’m not certain (though at the very least, there was a tape recording of an early script-reading that rolled after the credits). BUT, this movie did have some pretty compelling ethos that pointed to a reason. It’s all in the title, so I’m not really spoiling anything here, but she was rewriting her past. Giving those events a soft glow as a way to heal and inspire. Essentially, it was her spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Maybe not in the most DELIGHTFUL way, but at least with a much less icky after-taste. When Walt figured that out, he got his movie. Or so says SMB anyway.

AJ and I were both impressed by this one. The story was strong and, true to Disney form, it got me teary-eyed by the end. It certainly beat out Frozen in our year-end best list. If you’re not sold on the story alone, go for Emma Thompson, who makes good on a role initially offered to Meryl Streep (The woman, the myth, the legend).

The portrayal of Disney felt surprisingly authentic too. I mean, yes, this picture is owned by the dude’s film studio, so we’re not going to see the guy spit on children or push elderly folk into freeways, but he wasn’t all candy canes and gum drops either. Allegedly, Tom Hanks fought to portray Disney, the closet nicotine fiend, which did make it to the final cut. Well, sort of. We see him put out a cigarette as someone walks into his office and explain that he needs to retain his image. He’s also awfully pushy, and not very nice when it comes to inviting the author to her own film premiere. Bottom Line: he didn’t talk like Mickey or shoot rainbows from his palms, so I was satisfied.

Although, thinking out loud, it may not have been so bad if he did do all those aforementioned gay things. The Disney brand is all about the fantasy. Creating alternate realities so we can handle our own. And really, what’s so bad about that?

3 Fantastic Dog Role Models

Everybody has that one public figure that represents their own pinnacle of perfection. For me, it’s Jim Henson. For AJ, it’s, I dunno, Malcolm Gladwell or Dr. Oz or some shit. Y’all understand – there are people everywhere who go out and achieve big things, and they inspire the rest of us to become giants. So here’s a thought for a couple parents-to-be: what about our canine companions?

AJ and I want a dog that’s gonna be the best ever. Ambitious, loyal, not stupid… Which is why the more fun of its two daddies (Yes, Spencer) will have a few mandatory motion pictures under the Xmas tree. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and we’ll be damned if we don’t give our mutt the proper tools for survival. Here are the top role-models we’ll be introducing to our four-legged friend:

1. Arcanine

Arcanine

Yes, the fire dog Pokemon. Not like I should have to explain, but here it is for the uninitiated (ie, folks born before 1985): First, he’s the size of horse, so you can ride the darn thing. Yep, even as an adult. Second, he’s got tiger stripes, and the thought of a tiger/domestic dog hybrid is literally the most perfect thing I could ever think of. Third, and most importantly, this would be a pet so powerful, it would feed and protect us. It produces its own heat, which means we could easily have it live outside guilt-free, which also means we would never have to get up at 5 in the morning to take it out for a tinkle. And when we’re snowed in, he’ll flamethrower our way out. What better ideal for a young mutt to try to live up to? Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, can someone seriously figure out how to bioengineer this thing?

2. Shadow and Chance from Homeward Bound

So these two are very ying-yang, but each represent wonderful qualities that any parent would love. Shadow is wise, even-tempered, and cat-tolerant. Chance is playful, energetic, and boisterous. Together they manage to travel approximately eleventy billion miles to find their family. No compass, no road map, just pure unadulterated instinct. They’ve also mastered the secret art of telepathy, which is nothing to sneeze at. But above all, they manage, even when hungry and desperate, NOT to eat the snooty house cat that follows them around. That right there is a miracle.

3. Hachi

Speaking of miracles, this little trooper’s resilience made it an icon of good dogs. Talk about bending over backwards – this champ returned to a train station to meet his owner every day for 9 years after the poor sap passed away. In the off-chance he would rise from the dead and return, Hachi the adorable Akita would be waiting. He still is, in fact. That story was so moving to so many people, they built a statue in the dog’s honor, which has sat there patiently since 1948. Even Richard Gere took notice and played his ill-fated master in a movie!

Something tells me the owner has yet to make it back, but I’m willing to bet Statued Hachi gets a TON of visitors, some of which are bound to be way cooler than the first guy. That’s gotta count for somethin’. I can only hope that when AJ or I meet our maker in the midst of saving orphans from a house fire or retrieving the survivors of a sinking ship, our dog will do something equally awesome in our honor and get bronzified for it.

We can only hope. Today, we’re continuing our search. In the meantime, our sister Paige beat us to the punch.

gypsy

Say hello to our new niece, Gypsy. Ain’t she the sweetest?

‘Til next week, my lovelies!

Pre-Holiday Panic: Frozen, LeFoyer, and Spencer’s Wishlist

Ok. So, Christmas is really almost here. WTF? Am I the only human who’s yet to buy my gifts? It’s the same deal literally every year – I map out my presents for everybody in September, don’t start shopping till December 23, find about half the things I wanted to get, and settle for cheaper, less amazing options. It’s pathetic.

To be fair though, this year I stretched a bit. Largely influenced by my better half, I’ve done some mall shopping. I did buy one gift, but it was for me. And there’s another that’s actually being handcrafted by a friend of mine for my dearest madre. Not to toot my own horn, but at this rate I should most definitely have perfect gifts obtained, wrapped and under the tree by roughly June. Go me!

In the midst of all of our Holiday chaos, there were a few events that slipped by, many of which deserve a mention on this lil’ blog of ours. So here’s a quick recap of the highlights:

Paige, Lillian, AJ, and I snuck a visit to see Frozen the day before Thanksgiving. Goodies first: excellent production. The visuals and voice-acting were top notch (Idina Menzel’s in it, so obvi). The music was ok, and there were a few instances when the humor fell flat. It needed better pace, and a bit more screen time for the side cast (specifically Olaf, the weird little snowman). In the end, it was far from being “Disney’s best since the Lion King“, but the good news is, we have Tangled for that. Go watch it if you haven’t, it’s seriously wonderful.

Note to self: if I get excited about a teaser trailer, expect to like the final movie approximately half as much.

Note to self: if I get excited about a teaser trailer, I should expect to like the final movie approximately half as much.

What else? Ah, we had a surprise party for my boss this past weekend at a place called LeFoyer Club in Pawtucket, RI. It was pretty amazing getting to meet her boisterous and lovable family (including her adorable boo), and the food was great. Calamari, nachos, sandwich wraps, chicken fingers and wings, it took literally all of my willpower not to get seconds. And that was solely because I needed room for cake. Mmmm… Cake.

Oh, and if anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, here’s my top 3: A Barnes and Noble Giftcard (to extend my Nook library), a DVD copy of Tangled since I love it, AJ hasn’t seen it and the WRONG version is on Netflix, AND this amazing little doohickey. Ain’t that somethin’?

As for AJ, he desperately wants a dog to pamper with (almost) as much love and affection as yours truly.

Have a safe and restful weekend, my fellow New Englanders. This one’s lookin’ to be a real stick-in-the-mud weather-wise. So allow me to introduce y’all to Bed, your best friend for the next 48 hours.