guess the initials

Guest Blogger Wednesdayâ„¢!

Hey gang. CP here from the comments section, guest-blogging for Ian from the decrepit yet fabulous Sunset & Vine, smack in the middle of burning Hollywood.

First things first. The blind, abused, timid and terrified puppy at the south LA pound I’d been uncharacteristically telling everyone I know about in an effort to prevent him getting the chair (so to speak) was rescued today and here’s wishing he lives a long and happy life at his new home. So that’s awesome.

In related news, Paris Hilton had someone ghostwrite a letter on her behalf, a petition or something to Governor Schwarzenegger asking for her upcoming 45-day jail sentence to be commuted and she to be granted clemency. Now I’m well aware of the fact that an 80’s action star is our governor and all, but do we not think that:

a) a little jail time might be really, really good for both her and society (sort of like The Simple Life meets OZ, only with lesbians and no cameras)

b) the only difference between her and those women on the MSNBC Inside Women’s Prison shows is who her parents are (I mean shit, on a certain level an argument can be made that they’re both on TV for no apparent reason other than to entertain us/make us feel better about our lives)

c) she not only deserves to be treated no differently than anyone else, but perhaps also made an example of instead of sentenced to rehab or community service or some other such bullshit (I’m serious about this, an interesting ethical dilemma…)

d) in lieu of prison, she should be sentenced to star in a reality show in which she’d be shrunk to approximately 3 feet and put in a cage at The Bronx Zoo with Little Dick Cheney and Little Bill Maher (think The Surreal Life meets Freaks meets No Exit — if it’s a hit, other combinations could include Barry Bonds, Ann Coulter and Aaron Sorkin, and of course me and the cast of Mean Girls — for the record, I’m short enough and they’re perfectly proportioned, so no shrinking necessary on that one.)

Ok. Wow. That got weird in parts, huh? Got away from me a little bit. Sorry ’bout that.

— When I was a kid, I used to have recurring elevator nightmares. Specifically I’d be in the elevator of my building, would press our floor, and when it reached that floor it wouldn’t stop, would just keep going up to 16 and then back down to the basement again. And up again and down again and so on and so forth.

These dreams used to terrify me to the point that I’d wake up in a cold sweat. In some of them, the elevator would eventually fall. In others, it would crash through the roof of the building. I’d also usually wake up when either thing happened. I mention this because after years of not having them, like since I started college, I had one the other night.

Only this was different. (Elevator Nightmare v2.0) I was in Tokyo, Japan. In a glass elevator overlooking the city. And there were other passengers with me, all Japanese locals, none of whom spoke a word of English. I push my floor, the elevator starts, and when it reaches my floor, doesn’t stop. It’s at this point in the dream the other passengers disappear and I realize I’m in the middle of having my nightmare. And the elevator keeps going up and down and up and down and to my surprise and relief I find I’m oddly comfortable with the fact that after all these years, I know what’s gonna happen and I’ll be fine.

(Does anyone know what the hell, no pun intended, that might mean?)

— So things aren’t great. Not for me personally, which (nightmares aside) is pretty damn good and (knock wood) kind of keeps getting better, but the world is going to shit and even with the midterm wins and probability of a Dem. White House in ’08, things aren’t necessarily looking up. It’s a little like the mid-70’s let’s say.

Back then (as in times like The Depression, 50’s post-war Europe, Ancient Greece), it seems like the worse things got, the better and more subversive the art and entertainment became. Specifically, the comedies of the late 70’s/early 80’s (everything from Network to Kentucky Fried Movie to Animal House to Trading Places) were very political and edgy and rebellious, while at the same time being not only completely mainstream, but first and foremost fucking funny.

Today, our American film comedies fall into 3 camps:

1) the high-concept frat-pack movie (Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball, Blades Of Glory — which I hear was a little subversive on the gay tip — rock on.) I used to hear about these in meetings last year.

2) the quirky family comedy (thanks, Little Miss Sunshine) I hear about in meetings this year, films which may include homosexuality and drugs but really have the same simplistic and saccharine message as Leave It To Beaver or The Brady Bunch.

3) the stylized satire (American Dreamz, Thank You For Smoking) which makes fun of a broad range of targets and issues but doesn’t really take aim in a dangerous or meaningful way (like Arrested Development and Chappelle’s Show did so well. TV’s amazing now, but that’s a whole other story).

I’m not saying today’s movies are bad or all comedies should be political and people shouldn’t be able to laugh in comfort and not be reminded of their and/or the world’s problems. I am saying that it’s interesting the comedy hasn’t turned rebellious or subversive on a greater scale as of yet, and that perhaps technology might be the cause.

Specifically, our toys are amazing now. Video games, the internet, our cool little i-gadgets. Like when we were children, these things distract us and make us happy. (And come on, for serious now, the fuck did they have in The 70’s, Pong?)

Anyway, I should really shut the fuck up and stop complaining and do something about it because I’m actually in a position to (meaning in the mix, repped, but hungry and have only had a few relatively minor successes), I know. All I can say is I’m working on it. There is always that idea about the left-wing stooge blogger and the creepy internet stalker…

Ok. That’s all I got. For the record, blogging is hard. If you people have read this far and/or I haven’t bored you to the point of tears, you deserve a medal (or at least a cheap-ass bowling trophy.) Thank you so much to Ian for letting me guest blog and comment and generally being someone I can admire (awww.) And thanks to you all for being a community I actually feel I kind of know, albeit on a level I’m not entirely used to or necessarily understand, but can accept and enjoy nonetheless. From the most sincere place I’m capable of coming from, good things to all of you.

0 thoughts on “guess the initials

  1. GFWD

    The elevator dream likely comes from watching the end of Gene Wilder’s version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

  2. Beth

    Great blog, CP, thanks for all the disparate threads that made me think.
    I too am glad to hear that the puppy was adopted.
    Agree that Paris Hilton should go the fuck to jail.
    Might the elevator dream also contain elements of Lost in Translation?
    You forgot the reeeeaaally limp, no-chemistry romantic comedy, a la Music & Lyrics. If I hadn’t been on a plane and desperately bored, I would have shut it off or fast-forwarded in search of good parts, of which there weren’t any. Seriously, I love a good romantic comedy and can’t remember having seen one in a very long time.

  3. GFWD

    Beth, get outta my head. I had typed up a second paragraph suggesting that CP may have watched LOST IN TRANSLATION as well and to not be surprised if (is CP a boy or a girl) he/she suddenly broke out singing, “Brass in Pocket” in kareoke bars.

  4. xuxE

    right on! in order guest ramble:
    1. puppy lives! YAY!!!
    2. Paris who?
    3. elevator dreams – i think this might be about a fear of being out of control. do you find yourself struggling about having control over your life vs. being out of control? did you feel out of control as a kid? i would explore these areas.
    it also could be a feeling of being diverted from your goal, because the elevator is making you detour. so it could be about a struggle to achieve what you are trying to achieve, or get from A to B, and the idea of being misdirected or not getting there is frightening. are you very afraid of getting lost? are you relentlessly pursuing something and the fear of not getting there gives you anxiety?
    4. i think you’re right with your econo-socio-demographic idea about subversive art in reaction to the state of the world, but maybe you’re looking for it in the wrong places.
    i pointed out the other day that dreamworks and youtube were both sold for the same price. one is possibly a real creative zone and the other is a pure distribution mechanism. to me that says there’s too much money in the entertainment industry right now, and it makes for boring safe projects from folks in that industry, and it even makes people trying to break into that industry offer up even more boring safe projects because they see dollar signs in that.
    here’s an example.
    i joined this indie movie making club, right, supposedly for people who want to make movies, have anywhere from zero to lots of experience, and want to find like minded people to do it with, so we make teams and have a little movie making competition.
    but i was kind of shocked by the relentless pursuit of hollywood even in this little club of friggin nobodies. the movie that won was a kind of immitation hollywood short about a terrorist sleeper cell. other runner ups were equally tame in terms of their originality. i’m not saying that *my movie* had to win, but it’s like if everyone creative tries to emulate some predefined hollywood standard, suck up to what they think hollywood wants and already looks like, in the hopes of winning the movie lottery, then everything will universally suck. i was kind of shocked that even people who are working on ZERO budget, and are not even getting paid, have already sold out! for free!
    so basically, it think if you are looking for the truly subversive realm, i would say you have to jump really far outside of the hollywood moneyzone. risk is the fuel that makes art great, in my opinion, and when nobody wants to risk their fat paycheck, nobody makes good art.
    do something hella cool!
    please yourself with your work!
    have FUN doing it!
    surprise people!
    surprise yourself!
    5. or maybe just blog more!

  5. Josie

    Yep, I thought of Lost In Translation too. I have a theory that dreams are excess facts/experiences your brain decides to dump en masse, in your sleep, through your subconscious. That’s why all of these familiar things appear in the same dream space, although they are totally unrelated. The recurrent dreams, to which I am no longer a victim, always stumped me, though. Mine were always about losing my teeth. Perhaps a therapist could have been helpful in those days.
    I enjoyed your entry, CP. My guess is that you are either highly caffeinated, or you typically write some brisk dialogue. Or both.

  6. CP

    you guys, I’m tickled by these comments. I totally get now why ian blogs. it’s a lot of work but very fun.
    must be quick as I’m the waiting room at my shrink’s and am late for my 1:45 appointment. in my defense, was caught behind firetrucks on cahuenga…
    gfwd: I’m a boy, who likes girls, but also short and scrawny enough to sometimes get called a lesbian by his lesbian friends. (other things I’ve been called: a jack russell, a bird, a little napoleon.)
    elevator nightmares: I forgot to mention there was a ball of flames shooting up at me, which had never happened before. (will be discussing in navel-gazing session with shrink.) to respond to xuxE’s excellent analysis, it’s definitely a matter of being afraid of feeling out of control. without saying too much I grew up in a really fun and stimulating but also pretty unstable family where substance abuse was an issue. (which if there’s any good to be found, it never has been for me…)
    hollywood stuff: there’s also 2 other comedy categories. 1) the romantic comedy, obv. (thanks, beth.) also for guys now too, thanks to judd apatow. 2) the dramedy (alexander payne, mike binder, mike white —
    shit, gotta go. to be continued…
    ps — the fact that there’s so much capital/money involved is also (or can be) a very good thing. more on the healthy (?) state of showbiz economics later.

  7. Sean M

    A boy who likes girls, eh? Dammit — I was sorta crushin’ on you (and your ramblings).
    P.S. I’m not a creepy internet stalker. Not that creepy internet stalkers would ever refer to themselves as such…

  8. Rebecca

    CP: If that’s your first try at blogging, I must comment that you’re a natural! Nice job.
    xuxE: you made me laugh too.
    Hope the fires in LA are contained soon. The air must be terrible.

  9. xuxE

    most subversive comedy scene: star spangled banner – shortbus.
    budget: $2 million
    average hollywood movie budget: $100 million
    i rest my ass. i mean, case.

  10. CP

    rebecca, thanks!
    sean, wow. really? ’cause I’m basically just kind of a neurotic with verbal diarrhea, if not an undiagnosed case of tourette’s. anyway, totally flattered, but you should probably talk to natalie, my dna, or abby winters about that one.
    …where was I? ah, yes. hollywood and economics. this can work two ways.
    1) it’s so flush and such a factory and just a well-oiled money machine that in order to keep things running smoothly, the status quo must be at all costs maintained. this can include the “out of the box” surprise hit from last year (little miss sunshine — which I did like, btw, and if that’s now considered mainstream it’s really good for people like me and independent film in general — which can now be riskier, more on that just below) that no one saw coming and now everyone is trying to ape.
    2) it’s so flush and such a factory and just a well-oiled money machine that there’s room (not a lot, but still room) for the vanguard, the new and the different, the risk-takers and the visionaries and artists and subversives and etc. thing about that is, you’d better be really really really really fucking good to sit at this table.
    also (not that I agree, but this is just common sense) the bigger the budget/more money at stake, less chance risks will be taken.
    people wanna be entertained, not talked at. if you have something to “say” (and my original point was that the times suggest many of us might), make it funny and brutal and dangerous and interesting. also, your script/pilot may or may not sell anyway and agents and d girls and producers are all to be dealt with on a case by case basis and with many grains of salt. (try to be more bugs bunny than daffy duck and you should be ok.)
    so make yourself laugh, fuck the rules (helps to know them first), don’t write a screenplay, write the movie you wish you could see and do a choose your own adventure with it in your head. this is all obviously easier said than done, as anyone who’s been through the development process can tell you.
    ok. so enough talking, more doing. I’m hungry. (I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean like I think I want a taco or something. maybe ice cream. maybe both. yeah, both. totally. I mean why not?)
    ps — can be helpful for young writers to link up with legendary old producers trying to get back in the game (a la the martin landau character on entourage. wasn’t he awesome?)
    pps — as far as youtube/digital media goes, the possibilities are endless. kinda like the wild west or turn of the century film. the cooler big agencies know this and are on it, which is both promising and terrifying, and it’s a little bit of a feeding frenzy lately. once you accept that everyone and everything eventually gets corrupted (yourself included) and there are forces at work far greater than your “vision”, you’re free in a weird way to do something about it.

  11. xuxE

    well i’m totally not knocking anyone who is out there doing art for a paycheck, don’t get me wrong, and i hope anybody who rewrites and edits their work is getting hella paid in order to make that compromise.
    i’m probably just a closet anarchist but i just don’t see how the filters of any large capitalist corporation of any kind can be positive for art – i don’t think it’s a question of whether a person is good enough to sit at the table, it’s whether a person can make the corporation profitable. big corporations are not trend-setters, they are trend-followers.
    even in silicon valley, where innovation is highly tied to commercial success, once a corporation gets big enough, they have a hell of a time trying to keep innovation alive. it just doesn’t work. that’s why the edgiest technologies are built in garages.
    now clearly digital media and the web 2.0 revolution is shaking up the old bohemoths just like the dot com boom shook things up, and there is a buying frenzy on, so there are some similarities, right. you’ve got the technology more readily available and affordable for small media companies to actually get shit done, just like when small website companies emerged. and you’ve got direct access to the consumers, no distribution strongholds, just like in web 1.0 when people were counting unique pageviews like a crystal ball.
    but i think what is really different, and what is going to make the indie media revolution way stickier than web 1.0 was, is that you have advertisers actually in motion this time. they finally have put it all together and they finally get the picture.
    i was at this venture capitalist conference a couple months ago and one of the media folks was saying how all the companies who are the powerhouse ad spenders have landed on a goldmine with web 2.0 because they can finally match up their ad spending to actual consumer dollars.
    you put smart advertisers together with a solid artist/writer/director plus a niche grassroots fan base, small seed investment from maybe a hedge fund or a trust fund or some other angel investor and goodbye to big bottleneck bohemoth corporate moviemaking, hello edgy cool funny real straight up indie films!
    and then you even go a step beyond – maybe the niche fan base would pay not even $20 or $30 for a DVD from CP & Company, maybe they would pay $50 or $75 or $100! fuck the adverisers and bring the artist direct to the audience!
    and now let the wild rumpus start!

  12. CP

    xuxE: ok, I not only respect but feel where you’re coming from, however…
    1) you have favorite movies, correct? did they not come out of the filters of the large hollywood profit-making machine? or if they didn’t, were they not in some part caused by the existence of such a machine — even if it was in direct opposition to it? or even better, if memory serves, your favorite artist is Prince, right? Prince first had to be on a label (sire, warner bros?) and do the proverbial do (in a way that really spoke to you, am I wrong?) before he could give himself a symbol and own his own masters on paisley park. (if I’ve gotten any Prince facts wrong, it’s that I admittedly don’t know much about him or the music industry. please feel free to correct me.)
    2) this issue is far more nuanced and complex than profit-making corporations bad, pure art good. or put another way: not only are they not completely antithetical/mutually exclusive, some might say they need each other and are ideally mutually beneficial. yes, corporations follow trends and are all about the bottom line. but to do so they need to find and nurture and foster the trendsetters. also, the trendsetters are often sharp enough to recognize when an agenda’s being pushed on them and how to act accordingly, how to work the system to avoid being worked BY the system. and for the record, the people who work at these big conglomerates aren’t all robots and fatcats and evil capitalists and devils with kind eyes. some of them are tastemakers. some do appreciate art and culture and love movies and tv and know how important good stories are for a society, on a very pure level. they’re the minority, but some are among the most powerful and influential people in town. so it’s not either/or, those are just the two poles.
    3) charging people $20-30 or $75-100 a pop for a DVD as the only way to see and fund one’s art not only feels a lot like capitalism to me (but just for the independent CP corporation or whatever), it will also corrupt the art. you’re only making it to please the whims of your patrons (like michaelangelo and the medici’s or mozart and the pedophile principal from ferris bueller or shakespeare and the queen, fyi — so maybe that’s not such a bad thing — then again, mikey and willy and wolfie all had enough game to sit at that table/pretty much do whatever they wanted…) and you end up in a similar situation as we’re in now, just for the residents of coastopia or park slope or the mission or silverlake or wherever.
    look, I don’t especially enjoy towing the industry line or extolling the virtues of an agency I’m among the least profitable clients of. but trust me, (after food/shelter/love/success) people need art and people need entertainment. and there are people here who know that and are doing something about it, even as brett ratner (a fucking character, by the way) or rupert murdoch sit on their growing piles of money. like there’s a difference between quannum and arista, there’s a difference between paramount and vantage.
    ok. I have to go write a really dirty comedy sketch now. it’s called The Second Coming, about Jesus doing a sex tape which is leaked onto the internet.

  13. CP

    also, going back to my original point about subversive, rebellious comedy — these were movies that came out of the studio system (ie. they weren’t indies) in the 70’s. so perhaps the corporations have gotten smarter/safer and/or we’re happier with all our cool toys.
    I don’t know. back to work.

  14. xuxe

    well i would characterize prince as being successful in spite of the music industry, not because of it. i’m not anti money-making, i’m more anti big budget bulge bracket company getting in-between the artist and the audience and dictating how shit should be.
    a few of my favorite comedies are welcome to the dollhouse, hairspray, after hours, waiting for guffman, and napoleon dynamite, but of course it was actually hedwig and shortbus which inspired me to fuck around with movie making on my own (to me john cameron mitchell is the new john waters, he’s just on another level). so i don’t favor hollywood output per se, my taste is definitely skewed toward the low budget stuff.
    and also with full disclosure, i can’t say with 100% conviction that if some big ass movie company handed me a budget so i could buy a biodiesel art car for my sci-fi rock musical love story, that i wouldn’t fall off my artistic high horse and start kissing ass and cast it with sandra bullock and hugh grant. so while i have my opinions it’s still in the realm of theory until the phone rings with that particular *dilemma*.
    but i’m sure if there’s anyone who could convince me that the big hollywood machine is a good thing i’m sure you could, CP, because the jesus sex tape story sounds hella cool. i would definitely watch that, hollywood or not. in full disclosure, i would probably also watch the actual jesus sex tape, in case you decide to release that as well… :)

  15. CP

    ha! don’t even get me started on russ meyer, or rather those russ meyer models — man!
    real quick…
    john cameron mitchell and todd solondz are the bomb.
    late 70’s/early 80’s rebellious/anti-authority comedy:
    network, caddyshack, blazing saddles, used cars, car wash, love and death, trading places, kentucky fried movie, tootsie, meatballs, etc.
    and even TV:
    saturday night live, all in the family, jeffersons, good times, soap, the golden girls…
    (ok, maybe not the golden girls, though the idea of old-ass blanche having all kinds of dirty sex and being so blase about is pretty punk rock.)
    (ok, maybe not.)
    anyway, these are all pretty political (and politically incorrect!), from the machine oddly enough, and super funny. so yeah, obviously the studio system and corporations suck, but there’s more to it than that and it’s not completely to blame and is even necessary and blabbity blah blah blah.
    I wanna see that sci-fi funk rock musical!


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