Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"When you're a writer, not everything you write has to be experienced by you. Just remember to choose your friends really poorly."

Tuesday night I attended a preview screening of Chuck Palahniuk's newest novel-turned-movie, "Choke", starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston.

Unfortunately, "Choke" falls short for "Fight Club" fans, and Chuck fans alike. The problem wasn't in the execution (the film was pretty dead-on with the book with only a few small changes), or in the acting (Rockwell was perfect as a sex-addicted possible-messiah loser with mommy issues) but the biggest complaint seemed to be - why this book? Surely out of all of Chuck's brilliant novels, a better story could have been chosen to grace the big screen. Survivor. Invisible Monsters. Diary. Take your pick.

But the night was not lost. Not even close.

After the credits rolled, the lights came up and for 45 glorious minutes, Chuck Palahniuk himself graced our presence. An Inquirer reporter facilitated the session, and then opened the floor up to the public. While I didn't ask a question, it was amazing to be in the same room with a man who's work I've respected for so many years.

Chuck talked about his career - starting as a poor journalism graduate who took odd jobs to pay off student loans, and working on an assembly line until his big writing break came 10 years ago. He talked about his infamous stories, like the horrifying "Guts", and even shared some entertaining real life stories that inspired his writing.

He also talked about how each one of his books has been optioned for films. Let's just hope that the next one is better.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Theater is Dead

While scouring the internet for possible future travel destinations (a ritual I do far too often for my currently-barren income) I stumbled upon this little gem being performed in Toronto. That’s right … Evil Dead: The Musical. It’s like a dream come true. The campy (be sure to check out the video on their site's main page) musical adaptation of Sam Raimi’s cult movie has even made it’s way to California, with the disclaimer: “Evil Dead is NOT suitable for children. Contains 'inappropriate' language, fountains of blood, and nothing remotely educational.” And to accompany those hemorrhaging geysers is a special seating area named “The Splatter Zone” where the carnage covers the customer — a la Gallagher, except with brains instead of watermelons.

Oh, please, Philadelphia, grant me this one wish! Make Evil Dead: The Musical have a home in Philly. I’ll be your best friend?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hotlanta House Hunting

I joined my parents in Atlanta this past weekend to help house hunt. Here's a short video I shot using my new Flip Ultra. (I'm still learning my videographer skills, and trying to find a way to compress files without degrading the quality so much...)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One Man's Trash ...

I had walked by the front gates of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens on 10th and South St. dozens of times but never ventured inside — until this weekend — where for a mere $3 donation I was transported inside a work of art. The gardens consist of a main building with two levels and an outdoor labyrinth of mosaicked tiles, shards of glass, empty bottles, bicycle wheels, fragments of poetry, and four armed statues.
Walking around the gardens is as if walking in a dream. Even though most of the materials for the garden were found while dumpster diving, they somehow have gained a sense of magic. Empty wine bottles glow emerald, and miniature rainbows leap from the mirrored shards and onto the pavement. Tin angels reside next to devil masks, encased in cement archways. Bits of poetry punctuate the structure and give this mixed-media jungle a voice.
The gardens are an ongoing project started in 1994 by Isaiah Zagar, who's life's mission has been to gentrify, beautify, and re-dream the city of Philadelphia. Zagar's art is ever present throughout the city, with a main focus that weaves in and around the South Street corridor. There are currently over 100 murals on public city walls, and new murals popping up consistently. Most welcome the glass and pottery creations that reflect the neighborhood (and the history of a local art revolution). Others call it garbage. In 2005 the gardens were saved from a guerrilla demolition attack thanks to a non-profit law firm specializing in protecting the arts, as well as support from locals in the form of donations.
Despite the controversy, Zagar continues to hold two day weekend workshops once a month where he teaches the art of mosaicking to eager students. The workshops cost $250 each and include materials and a chance to immortalize yourself while beautifying the city — all while building a mural with a local legend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I have finally compiled a quick tour of my new Philly apartment. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine Remembered

On this Valentines Day, I can’t help thinking about how I spent last year’s romantic day. I did not spend it tangled in sheets or in the arms of a lover, but instead trapped in a blizzard on the outskirts of Lake Michigan. As I huddled underneath a plastic bus shelter with an Australian couple and two Texans, I began questioning why I had made the pilgrimage to Chicago in the dismal month of February.

Having wanderlust and a tight budget can prove difficult to someone who wants to see the world, but it hasn’t stopped me yet. I found an incredible deal for 6 days hotel and airfare to The Windy City; the only problem was it was the dead of winter. I dismissed this worrisome detail and booked my Mag Mile hotel room.

I arrived a few days before the storm hit. I spent some of these days walking Michigan Avenue among the new shiny steel and glass facades of Armani and Gucci, and then admiring the wonderfully out of place Old Water Tower; one of the only original buildings that survived the Chicago fire that now stands like a larger than life sand castle. In my mind, its whimsy beckons some to come inside for tea with the queen, and others to kick it down prior to running off for one last splash in the ocean before lunch.

Another night I made my way through several inches of freshly fallen snow to the Navy Pier. The pier was closed but still illuminated, so I walked around the main building and made my way to the famous Ferris wheel. I basked in the electric glow, and wandered around the various rides and statues with my footprints as the only marks in the virgin snow. Walking around this carnival ghost town was like a dream that felt both exciting and forbidden. It was easy to imagine that I was the last person on Earth and the world was my playground.

On Valentines Day, warnings of the coming storm were present so I decided to make my way to Museum Campus to enjoy a day of indoor exploring. I met Sue, the worlds largest and most complete T-Rex and missed King Tut at the Field Museum, watched a man swim with the fishes at the Shedd Aquarium, and finally observed “The Wonder of Water” that was the frozen Lake Michigan at the Adler Planetarium. At this point the weather took a turn for the worse and left me stranded outside of the Planetarium, huddled together with strangers for warmth. Even though the winds were epic and I could no longer feel my face, I could tell I was smiling.

Ever since I was a child, Chicago held some sort of magic for me. Maybe it was the Mother Goose-ish story of how Mrs. O’Leary’s cow set the city ablaze, or maybe it was the idea that out of those ashes arose a new, stronger, more beautiful city. Chicago was a phoenix. It had been burnt down, leaving a playground for daydreamers like Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry to construct their visions. Chicago is an imagination brought to life.