Tag Archives: Pixar

(ON TOPIC) How to Survive a Move

I was already halfway through Beyoncé’s latest album when my phone started flashing. A series of signals were triggered in my brain that in turn started some neurological process involving chemical neurotransmitters and synapses and yada yada yada. In short, my phone was trying to tell me something: I had eight new texts and six new podcasts to listen to. Add this to the two movies I’d downloaded on iTunes, the new Hello Mr. issue, three new books, and 47 new emails. It was enough to send me under the covers of my air mattress with a pillow locked tightly over my head, temporarily paralyzed by the media hurricane that wouldn’t let me sleep. (How does Queen Bey do it all?)

It was the night before I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I was trying to distract myself from figuring out how all my personal possessions, now sitting before me in an organized pile of boxes and bags, would ultimately fit in my newly acquired 2000 Toyota Camry. As I welcomed the angelic sounds of Beyoncé into my ears–driver roll up the partition, pleaseee–I wondered whether if what you own, the stuff of your life, signifies the stage of life you’re in. What does it mean that I don’t own pots and plates but have purchased, assembled, and disassembled IKEA furniture since freshman year of college? (Learning about sites like TRNK makes me want to be grown up and living in my dream flat in London, populated by “pieces” that each have a story. Can ya feel the pretension, y’all?!) But before I had an answer, I was in Los Angeles after a six-hour drive full of Beyoncé tracks and tears.

Here’s what moving feels like to me:

Hey! Hi! Hello, friends with which I’ve spent years cultivating a meaningful bond! Hello, city that is the most geographically interesting place I’ve been in years and whose streets make me feel like Dorothy in Kansas, ruby red slippers and all! Hello, apartment that has the most beautiful natural light I’ve ever seen and roommates who don’t annoy me and a perfect puppy who licks me and then falls asleep next to me and subsequently becomes the model for my future boyfriend! Hello, you all! Okay goodbye.”


Moving, in that respect, seems so unnatural. But my most recent move from San Francisco to Los Angeles felt a bit different. My post-move slump was a lot shorter than usual and, in truth, I’ve found myself in many moments of, well, joy. And I think I’ve figured out why.

1) Entertainment

In the opening of Pixar’s Up, an eight-year-old Carl Fredericksen sits in a movie theater, mouth agape and goggles on head as he stares at his idol on the silver screen in front of him. To me, that single image best encapsulates what moviegoing feels like. With very few exceptions, there’s nothing I’d rather do on any given day than sit in a movie theater and watch a movie. Since moving to LA seven weeks ago, I’ve seen nine movies: Very Good Girls, Begin Again, Free Fall, Test, Obvious Child, How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Fault in Our Stars, The Normal Heart, and Stranger by the Lake. I also went to the LA Film Festival and attended a program called I See Music, during which they screened Beyoncé’s entire visual album followed by a Q+A with some of the people who know her best. (I talked to her cousin afterward and somehow managed to keep my fanaticism at rest.) The list would be longer if I had more time, money, and the ability to accept the fact that I’d be compromising my physical and social well-being.

I often go to the movies by myself, which, for me, creates a significantly different moviegoing experience than if I bring a friend along. I like processing a movie on my own after I walk out of the theater, so sometimes it’s nice to exit without a friend asking, “So what’d ya think?!” Bringing a friend also excuses you from the remarks of snickering teenagers who think it’s funny you’re seeing a movie alone, as was the case when I saw The Fault in Our Stars by myself on a Saturday afternoon. In any case, there’s something that feels different about seeing a movie in LA. Maybe it’s the history of this town, where the movie studios born in the early 1900s have since given way to the industry of which I’m now a part. I go into the theater to watch a movie, and then I leave and could very well be walking in the neighborhood where the director or writer or actors live. I watch 500 Days of Summer and then take the Metro downtown to Bunker Hill where Tom convinced Summer that, in spite of popular cultural belief, LA is kinda sorta beautiful. Everything feels just a bit closer to home.

"500 Days of Summer" - Tom & Summer's Bench

But there’s more to Entertainment than just movies. For one, I just finished Season 2 of Orange is the New Black. Did you know that TV is getting good? Because it is. I read an article this month called “Queer as Friends” by Max Mosher and was reminded of how much we truly believe in TV. I’ve had particularly memorable experiences losing myself while watching Sex and the City and Six Feet Under. I came out to my parents the night after the fictional David Fisher came out to his mom and listened as she expressed her frustration over the fact that she was the last to know. Most recently, I finished watching Sex and the City in its entirety because I was too self-conscious as a “straight boy” to watch it when my mom did during its original run from 1998 through 2004. I couldn’t always connect with Carrie Bradshaw’s shopping habits or interior monologues, but there were moments when I truly believed that she lived in that beautiful brownstone–that I, as a NYU student living in Manhattan, could’ve spotted her gracefully exiting her apartment one evening to catch a black car with Mr. Big. “We believe because it makes life easier,” Mosher writes.

2) People

I promise I’ve done more than just consume movies and TV by myself since moving. (It was really hard to write that sentence.) There are people out in the world, too! (It was even harder to write that one.) One of the first social events I attended was a cocktail reception hosted by the NYU in LA Alumni group. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few familiar faces and was quickly reminded of how special it is to be a part of a bicoastal creative community.

I’ve also found myself on a handful of “friend dates.” I have friends from my previous homes in New York and San Francisco who have good friends living in LA, so I asked them to set me up with them. At least once a week since I moved here, I’ve been meeting these friends of friends for dinner and/or drinks.

A few weeks ago I found myself with four new friends, all women. (Not the first time this has happened.) Two were gay, and two were straight, and conversation consisted mostly of their LA horror stories. We spent two hours talking about dating. Whether the date was with a man or a woman, from Tinder or from OKCupid, they all echoed the same sentiment: dating in LA is depressing. In the age of dating apps, everyone is seemingly shopping around for the next best thing. One woman mentioned that she quickly grew tired of women who were on their Tinder app during their date. Others expressed frustration over their ostensible requirement to withhold emotion while dating–over receiving a, “Woah woah. We’re just hanging out,” if they, by some miracle, reached a third or fourth or even fifth date. I couldn’t help but wonder (said Carrie in voiceover)…are we growing increasingly resistant to commitment? Do we even know how to date anymore, or is a fundamental rift forming in this Digital Age of romance? All of these dating apps may not necessarily be working against us, but they’re certainly changing the conversation. The “Don’t ask how we met because you know we met on Grindr” face is my personal favorite manifestation of this evolution.

We noted how Sex and the City our conversation was, but quickly laughed and pointed out how terribly unrealistic that show was and how our lives were thankfully a bit more grounded in reality. As we paid our bill and exited the restaurant, one woman said she’d like to see a show called No Sex and the City, which would feature all the men and women–the heroes–behind the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte who made their lives look oh so slick and shiny. Who cleaned their apartments, for example, and what were their lives like when they went home to a land that was assuredly void of Versace couture dresses and blue satin Manolos?

As I fell on my bed at the end of the night, I couldn’t help but think about how the Entertainment in my life had become inextricably tied to the People–that these two separate things had joined to become the tunnel through which I’d make a smooth transition into life in sunny LA. More important, though, I thought about what would happen if we paid just a little more attention to each other. If we sat down across from someone, silent, ears open, and ready to listen.

I haven’t written a blog post since 2013. As tough and periodically sad as moving can be, it’s got me writing. And for that, LA, I am grateful. May the creative juices continue to flow. For now, I gotta go make a spreadsheet before I fall asleep to figure out which piece of media I’m going to consume next. G’night.

zZz…I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker…zZz….



An Ode to Movies

What’s a Jew to do in December when Hanukkah was, like, so November?

Everybody knows the Jews created the cinema to give their people a home during the Christmas month more widely known as December. (In my own cosmological version of the Universe, the Jews were a little nebulous puff of stardust that popped amidst all that big banging out and said, Let’s film this sh*t.)

This totally works for me, as I’m Jewish and movies are my favorite thing. In truth, there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting silently for approximately 90-120 minutes and being transported to another world. There’s a subtext to be inferred here: Jonathan, you like movies because you get to escape your life for approximately 90-120 minutes. But, dear reader (Hi, Mom!), I promise I’m not indulging in film as a symptom of depression. I don’t like movies because they distract me from real life. I like them because they illuminate the emotions of real life, particularly the really hard and complex and messy ones.

That Time Someone Sneezed and Workers Left a Factory

Though my aforementioned creation story is unlikely, I think it’s worth mentioning the real history of movies. We’ve come a long way since the carnival novelty that peep-show parlors offered in the late 1800s. From spectacles of the past to full-blown stories of the present day, we’ve changed. A lot.

The history of film in one paragraph. (With videos!) Let’s do this:

The world in the 1890s was full of new things: cities, steam engines, hot air balloons! Motion pictures became a way to capture and record this rapid change. Thomas Edison was one of the first dudes to realize that these moving pictures could attract a paying audience—in April of 1894, Record of a Sneeze premiered in New York.

The Lumiere Brothers then improved upon Edison and showed that logical, organized, minimalist events could reveal a story (e.g., Workers Leaving the Factory)

Editing soon learned the power of a cut (e.g., The Gay Shoe Clerk, Edwin S. Porter, 1903)…

…and then Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, sound, movie studios, Hollywood, the Great Depression, Casablanca, film noir, TV, and Alfred Hitchcock happened. My film history class only covered origins through 1960, so we have to stop at Hitchcock because I don’t know what happened after that.


Meryl Streep and Beyoncé, the two finest actresses of recent decades, happened.

Sitting Is Boring?

My excitement always peaks when I hear one of my creative heroes talk about the allure of movies. Andrew Stanton, a fellow Pixarian, says movies are at their best when they infuse wonder. Martin Scorsese, who I’ve had the privilege of hearing speak a few times in New York, has a more technical answer:

 Light is at the beginning of cinema, of course. It’s fundamental—because cinema is created with light, and it’s still best seen projected in dark rooms, where it’s the only source of light. But light is also at the beginning of everything. Most creation myths start with darkness, and then the real beginning comes with light—which means the creation of forms. Which leads to distinguishing one thing from another, and ourselves from the rest of the world. Recognizing patterns, similarities, differences, naming things—interpreting the world. Metaphors—seeing one thing “in light of” something else. Becoming “enlightened.”

Charlie Kaufman says we like them because our brains are wired to turn emotional states into movies. And me (I have an IMDb page, just like my hero Charlie does!)…I think my attraction to movies is constantly evolving. As of late, I view movies as a mirror to the cycle of life. We’re born a blank slate, ready for experience to color us in. Similarly, when those lights in the theater go down, I take a deep breath, clear my mind, and mentally ready myself to be thrust into another realm—to learn a new world, really. Where are we? What’s the time period? Who are the characters? What are the rules of this world?

More important, there’s a deep and profound satisfaction for me in the knowledge that an ending is going to come—to know that I’m going to get a full story, realized from some subjective beginning to some kind of subjective ending. In that way, movies often take away the anxiety of real life in which the future is unknown and scary. Movies, for me, are sometimes more digestible than real life. I feel this way about all of fiction, really—movies, books, theater. They’re like snippets of life, safe and contained within the confines of the screen or page and stage on which they exist. And, for that, I love them all dearly.

A Year of Movies

In January 2013, I started keeping the ticket to every movie I see in theaters. Though I lost a few of them, my envelope is currently filled with 40 tickets. You know how I feel about recommendations, so I offer the following list as just that—a list of what I’ve seen recently and the impressions these films left upon me, starting with two older films that I just got around to seeing this year:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009 (dir. David Yates)

I haven’t seen this one since it was released in 2009. If you’ve watched all the preceding movies, you may be able to notice something that happens with the actors in this installment: they got good. They’ve all settled into their roles (thank Moses Emma Watson stopped delivering every line with her dramatic huffing and puffing), and it’s really, really pleasant to watch. Plus, the sexual tension makes me giggle.

Stories We Tell, 2012 (dir. Sarah Polley)

Sarah Polley’s documentary is unlike any documentary I’ve ever seen. It transcends its genre as it addresses, in short, the philosophy of truth. The subject is Diane, Polley’s late mother. She’s shown in old home movies; yet, as the story unfolds, the footage becomes questionable and you may just start to wonder what’s real and what isn’t.

Frozen, 2013 (dirs. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)

“Let It Go.” It’s magic. And totally a LGBT anthem. Just download it on iTunes immediately, okay?

Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013 (dirs. Ethan and Joel Coen)

The latest from the Coen Brothers finds us in the winter of 1961 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. To watch this movie is to essentially watch Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling musician, as he tries to find a couch to sleep on over the course of one week. The tragedy is that he’s a good musician, but not a great one. What makes me happy: Carey Mulligan (who never smiles), the cat that deserves an Oscar nod for his/her performance, and a young Bob Dylan cameo.

American Hustle, 2013 (dir. David O. Russell)

This one is a story based on the Abscam affair, the criminal investigation of the 1970s in which the F.B.I. called on a swindler named Mel Weinberg to help ensnare public officials. The cast is full of strangers: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence (!!!), Jeremy Renner, and Robert DeNiro. It’s really a work of art. What makes me happy: every scene featuring an F.B.I. supervisor played by Louis C.K.

Nebraska, 2013 (dir. Alexander Payne) 

Payne (Sideways, The Descendents) likes his journey stories. His latest, shot in wide-screen black-and-white, follows old man Woody (Bruce Dern) and his son, David (Will Forte), from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. What makes me happy: the scene in which the men lounge around and watch football. It just feels so damn real.

Blue is the Warmest Color, 2013 (dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)

The NC-17 Palme d’Or winner from this year’s Cannes Festival. A 179-minute exploration of Adèle, a high school student learning what it means to love and to be loved. She dates guys until she meets Emma, a girl with blue hair who changes her life forever. What makes me happy: Adèle Exarchopoulos (Adèle) and Léa Seydoux (Emma) who act with their faces instead of their words, resulting in two of the most mesmerizing onscreen performances I’ve seen this year.

12 Years a Slave, 2013 (dir. Steve McQueen)

Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) is easily one of my favorite directors. His latest is said to be the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery. There’s a scene I’ll never forget in which Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a freeborn African-American kidnapped into slavery, hangs from a tree with a noose around his neck, supported by only one foot as it barely touches the muddy ground. Lupita Nyong’o plays Patsey in a performance I can’t describe with words. This movie didn’t make me happy, but it did leave me thinking about the thousands who never knew freedom.

Other 2013 notables: Blue Jasmine (for Cate Blanchett), Cutie and the Boxer, Spring Breakers (for James Franco), Don Jon (for Julianne Moore), Fruitvale Station, The Great Gatsby, About Time (for the lovely message about what it means to be a father and a son), The Way, Way Back, and Monsters University (for the DVD bonus features that I got to be in with my Pixar buddies!).

My first Hollywood movie premiere.

My first Hollywood movie premiere.

The End

So why tell stories? 12 Years a Slave offers an answer: because we can. The above films are film at its best. When I left the theater after watching each of these, the world seemed just a little bit heavier. In a good way.

Life for me, as it seems, has really become a series of moments that exist between whatever movies I happen to be seeing that week, month, or year. Movies have changed my life, and I hope that never changes.

I found this picture in a photo album at home in Maryland. The caption read, "Which way to Hollywood?"

I found this picture in a photo album at home in Maryland. The caption extending from the top of my white hoodie read, “Which way to Hollywood?”

(ON TOPIC) My (Respectfully Rejected) NYU Graduation Speech

There are some things you only learn with age, like that Santa Clause isn’t real. Or that just because a male model at Abercrombie & Fitch offers to take a picture with you doesn’t mean they want to be your friend. Or that graduation speeches are often filled with lofty quotations and overwrought references to “The Times That Be” and Bookface.

So how to resist possibly stereotypical yet comical references to, say, the different types of students that populate Tisch? How to overcome expectations in a society supersaturated with things and stuff? I’m going to get personal. And if I’ve done it right, you’ll feel like you’re a part of this story by the time I close with the line “To infinity and beyond.”

I’m an unlikely candidate to speak at graduation for two reasons: 1) I didn’t choose to go to NYU after graduating from high school. And 2) I spent the majority of my pre-NYU life as an observer, someone who sat on the metaphorical sideline of things, afraid to speak up and partake and do.

Elementary school. I never laid in the grass as a kid because it made me nervous, but I did play sports because boys played sports in elementary school and I wanted to be a boy. I wanted to fit in because fitting in felt good. I knew I was gay ten years before I told people I’m gay.

Middle school. Holding hands, kissing, S-E-X. I wasn’t doing it, but I was sneaking into the magazine aisle at the grocery store to check out Justin Timberlake’s new outfit in the latest issue of “Tiger Beat,” and I was quitting gymnastics because I was afraid that my classmates would make fun of me for doing “a girl thing.” I quickly zipped myself further into the sleeping bag of myself.

High school. The teachers and other voices in my life made me feel like AP courses and a 4.0 GPA took precedence over cultivating personal interests, but I took AP Language & Composition and learned how to write from one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, asked a girl to prom, and then graduated and spent the summer before college watching Pixar movies and inevitably letting them inform my view of the world because when you’re raised in a small town, books and movies are your world.

Then “College.” I started as a freshman at the University of Michigan. In other words, I started off at “college” before transferring to NYU, which offers…something else. Something more like real life, but not really. I took Sociology 101 and learned that psychologist G. Stanley Hall described adolescence “as a time when boys engage in masculinizing activities that set them apart from girls,” and I agreed with this and started to understand the feelings I’d had when I was younger. I also learned that frats and football can be deemed a lifestyle, and it was one that I quickly grew tired of. I left the closest friends I’d ever had to get closer to my dream of working at Pixar, quickly learning what it felt like to experience profound sadness in conjunction with deep-seated excitement.

In January of 2009, I transferred to Tisch as a Film & TV Production major. In other words, in January of 2009, my Life began here. New York City, abuzz. The greatest city in the world. Truly a fiction of a rare kind, owned by anyone who stomps on its grounds. A surreal place where I can watch my creative idol Woody Allen playing clarinet at The Carlyle Hotel, and then—and often without warning—end up on Ludlow and Delancey amid the smell of pee and cigarettes. The outdoors. Or, as author Fran Lebowitz says, that thing you must past through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab. Or maybe you prefer Woody Allen’s New York, which he says has been plagued since the 1920s by welfare payments and narcotics and crime. But my Life began here. And Fran devoted her life to writing about it. And Woody says it’s the most romantic place in the world and still lives here to this day.

I went to Brooklyn and saw where “Do The Right Thing” was filmed, and then I hopped on the A train and walked into Tisch where I stood in the elevator with Spike Lee and he said “Thank you” when I told him I liked his hat and shoes. I learned that calling things “Felliniesque” was accepted and appreciated by some, and dismissed as pretentious by others. I hustled to get over eight internships on feature films and TV shows because I saw classmates with glittery resumes and industry connections that intimidated me and that made me anxious, and then I learned that Woody from “Toy Story” was right—jealousy is one of our ugliest colors. I returned Katie Holmes’s bra to Victoria’s Secret while interning on my first feature film, I saw my name in the credits on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and then I went to London to train at the BBC. In the end, I learned that getting these internships to impress others wasn’t really what it was all about.

I watched people get addicted to technology, favoring virtual relationships over human ones in which listening became a thing of the past. I grew tired of talking at parties to people who seemed to have stock answers to everything. Yeah. Yeah. I guess so. Yeah. Then I became fascinated by how the need to travel runs deep in the psyche of some people but not in others, so I took time off, visited my brother in China, and told all my friends and family that I’m gay.

I learned that I care very deeply about things, so I started writing and learning how to share it with others. I’d show friends and classmates my scripts and short films with caveats like, Oh but it’s not that good, and then I’d watch them at home by myself and smile because of what it meant that I’d created something, that I’d started to unzipper myself from that aforementioned sleeping bag to breathe and live and share. I learned from MIT researcher Deb Roy that “I” is one of the most used words in the English language, which is ironic considering how connected our world is. I spent the last five weeks of college working on a science TV show and it taught me that the elements of the universe mix and mash in incredibly precise patterns that allow us to exist as we do. I learned that human existence, when it really comes down to the atoms of things, is unlikely. I learned that college taught me what I don’t know, and I was humbled by this.

We. Us. Human existence. What had I learned? Had I learned anything? How do you know what you know?

While thinking about time and space can make you feel insignificant, store it as ammo to be used every morning when you wake up. The thought of being able to do things should make you wake up every morning and, at various speeds and intensities, work toward your dreams in the short life you’ve been given. As Billy Wilder once said, “You have a dream so you can get up in the morning.” Forgive me. That was so Tisch of me. To quote a movie director, you know. And also very hypocritical as I began this speech by poking fun at graduation speeches that call upon stereotypical yet comical references. But this is okay because of another thing college taught me. The frequency with which you may find your beliefs shaken and challenged can be unsettling. Just know that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, unless his or her opinions are wrong. For example, the statement “Toy Story is a bad movie” is factually incorrect and the person who utters it deserves to be corrected. At the risk of continually verbalizing my resume, I should mention here that I’ve spent the last three months interning at Pixar, my dream company, and I can tell you that “Toy Story” cannot be a bad movie because it was produced by magicians.

I’m hopeful for the future. I am. We should be. Adolescent males and females are less imprisoned by gender stereotypes, and interventions are happening; the Trevor Project and It Gets Better campaigns are saving young gay lives every day. Organizations like TED are spreading important and progressive knowledge, and actions are being taken to get us to communicate on more meaningful levels. If you feel that politics are failing you, then I encourage you to look somewhere else like independent cinema or pop culture for inspiration. We’re thriving. We’re saturated. We’re busy. Be a part of it. While we’re all the center of our own universes, we’re really interdependent creatures functioning through the relationships we have with others. I challenge you to unplug yourself from technology, look up every now and again, and connect. Know your history, like yourself, and then figure out what you want out of the world. Go do something, but whatever it is you do, do it with confidence and passion and heart. Go forth in the world with the peacefulness of a snow day. Or don’t. You don’t need me to tell you what to do. Be selfish, but stay considerate and kind.

I like the moment just before I walk out my door in the morning, when I turn the lights off and everything goes black, and in that moment, if only for a second or three, I’m invisible and can do whatever I want without anybody watching. I usually stand still and take a deep breath, probably the last calm one I’ll have before the lights of the day hit me and things start happening. I say to myself, “Yo world. Yeah you. Here I come, you beautiful, beautiful, unlikely thing.” I hope we can all find peace in our lives.

I sincerely thank you all for listening, and I look forward to talking to some of you today and tomorrow and into the future, either virtually or in this beautifully absurd little thing called the Real World. K. I gotta go. I haven’t checked my phone once in the last five minutes and I’m getting antsy.

To infinity and beyond.

(ON TOPIC) 22 Things That College Taught Me

I graduated from college last month, and considering I’ve been in school for nearly 18 years, it was kind of a big deal. I already shared Chapter 1  and Chapter 5/6 from my future memoir, so I figure this would be a good time to pass along Chapter 6.5:


22 Things That College Taught Me

1. Teachers. They aren’t as sucky as Anonymous Stoner says they are. I had a substitute teacher in my animation class last year who did something that our full-time teacher rarely did: He seemed genuinely excited about our work, even if it sucked. He asked us questions about our future career aspirations and ultimately made us feel like valuable people. The lesson: Teachers should be inspired by students, and vice versa. Then, education can be engaging and exciting as opposed to something unattainable and negative.

2. Online Dating. When using sites like datemyschool.com, cut to the core of a person by scrolling to the end of their profile pictures. This is where the creepy half-naked pictures are. Shame on you, iwantjew548.
3. Change. The frequency with which you may find your beliefs shaken and challenged can be unsettling. Just know that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, unless his or her opinions are wrong. For example, the statement “Toy Story is a bad movie” is factually incorrect and the person who utters it really, really sucks.

4. Competitiveness. Always trying to gain a one-up on your competitors is going to stress you out and perpetuate an awful feeling of jealousy toward those around you. Don’t do it. As Woody teaches us in Toy Story, jealousy is going to make all the talking toys in your life go away.

5. Music. There’s nothing more beautiful than taking the time to relax and listen to a CD. From beginning to end. Like Lindsey does in “Freaks and Geeks.” (YouTube it.)

6. Social Media. Bookface and other social media stuff is here to stay, so deal with them. The most honest thing I’ve read about them comes from William Falk in The Week: “They simply amplify and extend what is already in our hearts—our hunger for connection, our perverse capacity for cruelty.”

7. Reality TV. It can’t solve the world’s problems. And it’s better in Britain.

8. Learning. Learning kind of happens the best through learning about the process of things. Watch “How It’s Made,” or listen to the NPR podcast about how will.i.am. writes hit songs, or look up how Pixar makes movies. You’ll be inspired.

9. Finding yourself. Sometimes it may seem like school takes away time from doing the things you may love or really want to do, but stick with them. Steve Jobs randomly sat in on a calligraphy class after dropping out of school, and we now type in hundreds of beautiful fonts because of his impulsive decision to do so.

10.  Studying Abroad. Necessary.

11. Ryan Gosling. Ultimate Celebrity Crush (UCC) 4 lyfe.

12. Taking time off. Do it. Somehow. Consider taking time off and start college later .

13.  Politics. It may not teach me what I want to know.

14. Pop culture. It may teach me what I want to know.

15. Friends and family. They’re everything. Always.

16. Animation. It’ll show you things that have only existed in your head. And will most likely make you cry in the process.

17. Celebrities. When in Morgan Freeman’s presence, the temptation to ask him to narrate your life is nearly insurmountable. (He was standing behind me once at Lincoln Center, but luckily I never introduced myself.)

18. Dreams. They can come true. Case Study #57: My friend Arielle is one of the most devoted Jimmy Fallon fans I’ve ever met. After years of hard work in college, she landed an internship on his show:

19. Getting your clothes dirty. Do it, literally and metaphorically.

20. Confidence. Necessary.

21. College. It can teach you what you don’t know.

…and last but not least:

22. Human existence. Unlikely.

I spent the last five weeks working on a science TV show and it taught me that the elements of the universe mix and mash in incredibly precise patterns that allow us to exist as we do. While thinking about time and space can make you feel insignificant, I prefer to store it as ammo to be used every morning when I wake up. It’s like that part in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close when the father tells his son about the beauty of moving one grain of sand in the Sahara Desert, which has existed for millions of years but has been changed because you moved a grain of sand.

This thought of being able to do things should make you wake up every morning and, at various speeds and intensities, work toward your dreams in the short life you’ve been given. As Billy Wilder once said, “You have a dream so you can get up in the morning.”

So Pixar? Yeah you. Here I come, you beautiful, beautiful, unlikely thing.

(THE LONDON CHRONICLES) #3: Spider-Man, McDonald’s, and Jude Law’s Abs

Dear reader(s),

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’d planned to update this nightly or weekly with what I’ve been up to, but then Beyoncé released her new music video and I got busy trying to memorize it.

Anyways I figure a list will serve me well here as I attempt to highlight the highlights of the last couple weeks. (Fact: Henry VIII invented lists because he couldn’t keep track of all his wives.) I’ll go in chronological order so it’ll be like YOU’VE BEEN WITH ME ALL ALONG! I’ve been taking pictures while here, so those will surely help, too.

1. I graduate in December so I seriously began my job hunt. I applied to an internship at Pixar, and then I stopped my serious job hunt because Pixar is the only place I want to work. (Dear future employers other than Pixar: Just kidding. I love you.)#intern4lyfe

2. I saw Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus” at the Globe Theater, a modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original 1599 theater. I was one of the “groundlings” in front of the stage. It rained right when Faustus delivered a line about rain. #magical.

3. I saw a play written by an 18-year-old Christopher Hampton called “When Did You Last See My Mother?” It starred Harry Melling, better known as Dudley Dursley from the “Harry Potter” flicks. Instead of being fat and visually repulsing, he was skinny and visually appealing. It rocked.

4. I took a BBC camera course and it involved making a short film in which I wore my Spider-Man suit. It was both awesome and necessary. (Picture to come.)

5. I saw a play about 9/11 called “Decade” and got interrogated by an actor playing a TSA official before walking in. I then took my seat, thoroughly excited for an unorthodox theater performance, but then the play happened and the British actors’ American accents sucked and things got bad.

6. I toured the 2012 Olympic stadium. It’s literally in the most disgusting town I’ve ever been in. (Not true. I’ve been to China.)

7. I endured (Dramatic word ah!) a 4-day BBC course about directing TV in a live studio setting. I was a literal and metaphorical ball of anxiety throughout, but I ended up directing 13 minutes of a (kind of) live show called “The One Show.”

8. I celebrated the end of the course that Friday night and ended up at the apartment of approximately ten incredibly attractive British people. The night ended at 7 AM with an order of 6 chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. It was disgustingly perfect. I wish I had a picture of this, but for now…


9. I visited my friend Jessica in her hometown, a beautiful suburb called Surrey. There was space and light and forests and horses. Her dad cooked meat and I ate it. Then we watched a brilliant movie about Brooklyn called “Blue In The Face” and it made me miss New York.

(photo by) Jessica Sarah Rinland

10. I saw “War Horse,” a popular show in London and New York that’s soon to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. The story was totally Disney (read: predictable) but the horse puppets almost had me in tears.

11. I saw a play called “The Playboy of the Western World” that really should’ve been called “The Worst Play in the Whole F-ing World.” Kidding. That honor goes to 2009’s “Othello” at the NYU Skirball Center.

I was only smiling because I hadn't seen the play yet.

12. I waited in line from 4 AM to 10:30 AM to see Jude Law in his last performance of Eugene O’ Neil’s “Anna Christie.” Expect a blog post about the experience, but for now, know this: I could’ve enjoyed 1 chicken nugget on each of his 6 applause-worthy abdomen muscles. And oh yeah. The play. It was incredible. Ruth Wilson gave one of the best stage performances I’ve ever seen.

Couldn't find an ab pic. Use your imagination.

13. I finished a draft of the first episode of the first TV show I’ve ever developed. I’ve been a literal and metaphorical ball of anxiety. Writing is hard.

14. I went to Cambridge with my friend Juan. We punted. I plan to go to graduate school there because it’s beautiful and makes me feel good.

K gotta go. I’m watching Beyoncé’s “Countdown” video for the 327th time. (Not) kidding.


Love you. Talk soon.