Hot Off The Presses!

Things are finally starting to look up.

Why you ask? Well, I’m in NYC, probably the most fascinating city in the US if not the whole darn world, AAAAAAND I got one of the first copies of the eagerly awaited tome LAME ADVENTURES: UNGLAMOROUS TALES FROM MANHATTAN by my newest pal, Virginia Antonelli. Now, I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I will when I finish the current book I’m reading.

I cannot wait.

You wanna know the best part?

I got to hang with the author last night in the city. I had a lovely time. She showed me some cool places, and we had a great time hanging out, laughing, boozing it up and chatting.

I am so happy to have a new friend.

So, my three readers, I highly recommend you check this book out.

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I apologize for the bad quality of the pic, but I’m using my iPad to post this, and well, let’s just say the marriage between WordPress and the iPad tis a rocky one.

NONETHELESS, read this book! You can get it from Amazon.com

You’re welcome!

Love,
Julia

The Balcony is Closed

It’s been a while, I know, and I was all ready to write about something I came across earlier in the week.

However, I feel the need to pay tribute to someone who’s work meant a great deal to me–Roger Ebert–who died today after a long battle with cancer.

The Eberts at an event I covered in 2007.

The Eberts at an event I covered in 2007.

His death saddens me tremendously because he was a huge voice, not only in film criticism, but in life in general. His prose and wit were unmatched (except by his late-partner in crime, Gene Siskel), and there isn’t a film critic today who comes close to his abilities. He knew how to read a film, then discuss it in a way that wasn’t condescending or obnoxious.

Ebert was a writer, first and foremost, and that made him so good at his job. His love of film just added to that talent.

As most I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in the Chicago area, so watching Siskel & Ebert, and eventually just Ebert, was required of all Illinois citizens. Also, we had to read their columns to learn how to write criticism, and well, how to write in general. After Siskel died, Ebert was the only critic I paid attention to. Sure, Kenneth Turan, A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis are fine, but…meh…their work doesn’t compare to Ebert’s.

I’ve met Ebert a few times and each meeting, he was kind, gracious and witty. The most memorable was years ago when I was a senior at the University of Wisconsin. My father had the same lawyer as Siskel and Ebert, and said lawyer had an open house at his fab, newly rehabbed greystone in one of Chicago’s tonier neighborhoods. I was an obnoxious, know-it-all film student who became quite verklempt when I heard my father say, “Oh Mr. Ebert, I’d like you to meet my darling daughter, Julia. She’s a film student at Wisconsin, and will be graduating in a few weeks. Hey, any advice you can give her would be GREAT! THANKS!”

Aaaand, my dad disappeared toward the bar.

Thanks, dad.

Great.

This guy is gonna eviscerate me, test me on my knowledge and I’m gonna, like, dieeeee. Imagine my surprise when the exact opposite happened. Ebert and I spent the next hour or so discussing Kurosawa and how important his films are to not only the film world, but to the world in general. We discussed other film makers as well, but I believe that Ebert was touched by the fact that someone so young with an odd hairstyle, dug someone like Kurosawa. Siskel eventually tagged in and the two of us discussed Truffaut for another hour or so.

Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

I could go on and on about Ebert, but I won’t. I do suggest reading his past columns and his essays on contemporary American life. He had a lot to say and the world will feel this tremendous loss for years.

I leave you with two things–one of my fave Ebert’s quotes, and a Sneak Previews/Siskel & Ebert episode where the two critics discuss the disturbing trend of violence toward women in films.

“’Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” —Roger Ebert

And the clips–

Plus, a bonus out-take bit with Gene. Classic.

RIP, Roger. The City of Big Shoulders won’t be the same without you.

Damn.

A Somber Anniversary

This week marks a frustrating and sad anniversary for me: Two years ago–January 21, 2011–was my last day at my editing gig at a trade/B2B publication here in Chicago.

First, allow me to back it up a titch and regale you about how the fun began two weeks earlier.

I arrived at work on that crappy cold-as-fuck morning, had just enough time to put my stuff down on my desk, take off my coat, and say hello to my co-workers before the Editor-in-Chief asked me to take a walk with him. I found this a bit odd since he never paid me much attention, unless it was to gripe about something, or if he needed me to order some sort of pen.

So, when we rounded the corner that separated the newsroom from sales, and into a small conference room where the resident HR drone was waiting, my stomach flip-flopped. My mouth went dry and my chest felt like it was going to resemble Kane’s in “Alien”–but with my heart bursting out & smacking both the EIC and HR right in their mugs instead of a parasite that would eventually kill the entire fucking masthead. A wry smile crossed my lips for a brief second at that thought, but it quickly vanished when I heard the following:

“Um, yeah. Julia. We’re going to lay you off–it’s nothing personal of course–we’re just eliminating your position so we can add more to the sales team.”

What happened next few minutes was a blur. I do, however, remember giving the EIC a look that would kill a planet, tightening my jaw until it ached and feeling the tears starting to build up. Sadly, the death glare didn’t land because he wouldn’t look me in the face, but he did manage to set the land speed record for waddling out of the conference room so he could alert my colleagues of my fate.

You know, to save face and look like a fucking hero.

“Gosh, we really like Julia, but tight budgets are preventing us from keeping her on. So, I know she’s looking for work, so please help her out if you can.”

My immediate boss was absent that day so when she got my tearful phonecall an hour later, needless to say, she was furious. The next couple of weeks were a blur of phonecalls to friends slash possible employers, resume prep, buckets of tears, lashing out at everyone, allowing my shocked soon-to-be-former co-workers take me out for lunches and post-work drinks, and trying my damndest to not kick both the EIC and ME in the balls. It took alll of my god-given strength to NOT throw my ass in the shitastic Chicago River when I learned that an intern would be doing my job.

Not personal, eh? Go fuck yourself.

The last couple of years hurled all sorts of puke/jiz-filled crappy crap at me. I don’t know which moments were the most fucked-in-the-head: Was it the the snow storm that hit the area about a week after I was canned? Or was it the pubic-hair freezing cold that pounded Chicago in the ass afterwards? Or, was it going out to LA to look for work and have many jobs dangled in front of me only to have them taken away just as I was making arrangements to move my life west? Maybe it was three interviews I had with a certain Chicago media outlet that always hired someone too young and inexperienced over me, only to have that person leave a few months later because the work was “too hard.” This happened three times.

It coulda been the publisher in Florida who flat-out asked me my age during a phone interview, and when I gently reminded him that what he was asking me was, gosh, ILLEGAL, he proclaimed he didn’t care. I ended the interview soon after.

Perhaps it was the approximately 500 carefully crafted resumes with the appropriate key words and phrases I sent out that were probably mocked, laughed at and tossed in digital circular files–I have no idea which one of these events have helped push me down Crap Mountain the fastest, but I do know this much–

THE LAST TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN A MAJOR PIG FUCK.

Somedays, I can’t move. I don’t leave the apartment. I read my New York Times, the New Yorker, maybe watch my stories on the tee vee, watch porn on the computer–anything to distract me from the fact that I am a miserable failure. While I am well aware that there are many in my situation–and in worse situations–I can’t worry about them. Does that make me cold & heartless? Naah, it makes me realistic because I highly doubt they give a red rat’s ass about me.

Other days, I work on my book that no one will ever read, do Bikram yoga and consider cooking meth in my kitchen. I help other friends find work, read reports and a thesis or two for a pittance. I cheer when my friends find work, and am sad for them when they lose their jobs. My happiness for their successes is genuine, but so is my anger and resentment. It’s difficult to be around friends who are successful and have jobs, so I don’t go out much. Plus, this city is expensive.

I’m thankful for my health (knock on wood), and the facts that I’m well-educated, and don’t have a mortgage or kids to worry about. I don’t want to think about where I’d be if either of those were a factor.

I felt some cold-comfort upon learning that both the EIC and ME were canned under new management. Since it’s not my style to revel in someone else’s misfortunes, my happiness immediately turned to concern because they both have families and mortgages. But then again, they’ll probably find work before I do, so fuck ’em.

So, what am I to do? Keep getting out of bed every day. Keep on with the writing because my book is turning out to be a gem.

And most of all, not listen to those folks who tell me I can’t succeed. One of ‘those folks’ happens to be me, but that voice is getting fainter and fainter with each passing moment.

I think Madonna said it best below.

30 Things I’m Dumping in 2013

Here’s a long-ass list of stuff I’m dumping from my life in 2013:

1) Unemployment

2) Ambien

3) Trying to please people who don’t give a shit about me.

4) Not taking care of myself emotionally.

5) Not taking care of myself physically.

6) Chicago

7) This overwhelming sense that I’m a complete failure.

8) Forgetting friends’ important life events.

9) Swearing

10) Unsightly pit stains.

11) Body hair that’s long enough to braid

12) The body in the trunk of my car.

13) Bread–the food, not the band.

14) People named Poindexter, Mitt, Karl Rove, and Cheney.

15) The gangsta lifestyle. I don’t have the ass for it.

16) Gene Hackman’s knickers

17) Cheap liquor

18) Cheap hookers

19) Leo Sayer –he’s been hogging my couch for too damn long.

20) Expectations of any sort.

21) Sarcasm

22) My bad attitude toward stupid people who are more successful than I am.

23) My bad attitude toward asshole people who are more successful than I am.

24) Clutter

25) Self doubt.

26) Fear of success

27) Stuff

28) That chaise on the sun porch. It’s a chaise of pain.

29) That weird item in my glove box. It’s starting to creep me out.

30) Threeve.

 

 

Lookie here

The McCrabass blog is a distraction for me–it’s fluff, it’s fun–aka it’s mental masturbation.

I consider my blogging as a sort of “Artist’s Way” minus the touchy-feely-I-was-once-married-to-Marty-Scorsese-but-he-dumped-me-so-now-I-write-how-to-books-for-wannabe-artists-aka-bored-housewives –but with box wine, chocolate and Bikram yoga. Oh and dark purple highlights and buttloads of salty language.

Simply put, I’m a writer who blogs for fun. I’m not into that brand-building bullshit. (Side note: what the fuck is branding anyway? Why are we supposed to brand ourselves to each other? What the fuck does it have to do with the price of eggs? It doesn’t help people get meaningful work, believeyoume. It’s basically a bullshit term made up by marketers. You’re only a brand if you’ve been heated up on the range where the deer and the antelope play, and used to tap some livestock ass.)

When I’m not thinking up and composing posts, I’m writing my book and looking for a gig. That type of writing is my true calling, along with journalism which I happen to do quite well when given the opportunity.

The following list is made up of folks who are great writers and use their blogs to display their dog-given talent. Some days they write more than on others by using words and images–or just words or just images–kinda like yours truly here. I’ve been reading these folks for a long time now and I suggest you check ’em out. They write to write, not for the nebulous glory of Internet awards but because they love writing. Oh, and they all have something to say which is the mostest important aspect.

I’m not going to write up brief descriptions of their work because you need to do your own heavy lifting. You won’t regret it either.

In no particular order, if you may …

Reinventing the Event Horizon

Squathole

Lame Adventures

The Learned Fan Girl

Marguerite Darlington

The Musings of a Storyteller

Lloydville

Jonathan Turley

Rufino Cabang

CREW

UnfetteredBS

Robert Loerzel

Adventures By Kim

Violet Blue (NSFW)

Love Letters Are Dying

Herlander-Walking

Learn ’em, know ’em, love ’em.

This is how one writes a protest letter…

One of my favorite authors of all-time, and her response to her book “To Kill A Mockingbird” being banned in Virginia. Class act all the way and it wouldn’t surprise me if the gist of the letter was lost on the receivers.

celluloid blonde

harper lee

 

This is on of my favorite author letters responding to news the author’s book has been banned, penned by Harper Lee in 1966 when she heard To Kill a Mockingbird was pulled from school library shelves by the Hanover County School Board in Virginia. [Harper Lee so rocks.]

Monroeville, Alabama
January, 1966

Editor, The News Leader:

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that “To Kill a Mockingbird” spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is “immoral” has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across…

View original post 79 more words

A little of this, a little of that …

After a night filled with crappy sleep, I woke up to this on the tee vee:

.. and now I worship all things Morey Amsterdam.

(courtesy of the latimes.com)

He’ll be my soul mate in the next life.

G’head and laugh, but you’ll be so jealous. Just watch and learn.

I imagine that writing a sitcom in this day and age doesn’t resemble anything like this image …

(courtesy timfowlar.com)

First, the writers are too old, and aren’t sporting the appropriate attire. Depending on the show, there’s probably more booze, hooch, porn, chocolate, juicing supplies and Larry Gelbart’s biography strewn about. Or Seth McFarlane’s. Or Tyler Perry’s. Not enough ironic facial hair either and there isn’t a MacBook Pro or iPad in sight because you know, you can’t write anything without either one of those tools. Fuck ideas, the tools will make you a great writer. Pffft.

Yesterday, I had a job interview for part-time, fill-in holiday work and believe it could go either way. In all honesty, I wasn’t looking forward to it because if you’ve been paying attention at all during the past year, “luck” and “job search” are two concepts that hate each other in my world. To quote Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, those two ideas “frighten and confuse me”, so I don’t know how to react when confronted by either one. Sometimes I’m struck dumb when these two phenomena meet, and I just end up staring at a light switch for hours on end. What’s real sad is when I applaud said light switch–I can be heard yelling out “bravo” and tears can be seen streaming down my face in appreciation.

No video of this occurrence exists so don’t ask.

Imagine, if you will, not ever having to get up in the middle of the night to pee. Sweet Jesus, isn’t that an incredible thought? We’ve all peed during our slumber with gross results, right? But imagine if you could actually sleep n’ pee without the unpleasantness associated with it upon waking up in the morning?

Fortunately, the Japanese have once again invented something to help us be even more lazy. It’s a toilet and a bidet all rolled into one exciting sleep aid.

(courtesy of France24.com)

(courtesy of giantrobot.com)

I love how the Japanese get how fucking lazy we Americans really are. I wish we could admit to it, but we’re all too busy telling the rest of the world how fucking appreciative they should be of us and our obnoxious, holier-than-thou ways.

Of course, this invention has other uses than to help lazy sots, it can be used for those who are elderly and bed-ridden for whatever reason.

And to answer your next question, I’ve already ordered one for me and each of my friends.

Revenge Roman Style

History is one of my favorite subjects and since I was raised in the public school system, my knowledge of US history is strong while my knowledge of world history ain’t that great. Fortunately, studying history is in my blood — my father is a history buff and I am now embracing that “inheritance” full-on.

Then there’s my pal, Tom Sito. I worked with him at Disney Feature animation years ago, and we got along right away because of our quick wits and fondness for trivia and history. Sito sends out a daily history email, which I’ve been getting for about 15 years now and not only is it informative, it’s a HOOT.

One of the today’s entries is no exception.

96 A.D. ROMAN EMPEROR DOMITIAN ASSASSINATED.

Domitian was a crazy tyrant in the mold of Nero and Caligula. He once ordered all the fortunetellers, sorcerers, swamis and such driven out of Rome. Their guild got together and retaliated by doing a group prediction of Domitian’s assassination: Sept. 18th on the eleventh hour.

Domitian pretended not to care but on the day spent all day locked indoors with a sword under his pillow. He didn’t come out until his slaves and butlers assured him the eleventh hour had passed. Domitian came out and was promptly murdered by his slaves and butlers. They lied. It was the eleventh hour. 

BUT WAIT! IT GETS WEIRDER … A Roman mob drags Domitian’s body through the streets on a hook and chain. They tried to stuff him into the sewer but he was too fat, so they tore the body to pieces and threw the chunks into the Tiber.

BUT WAIT! IT GETS EVEN WEIRDER!! The Roman Senate told his wife the Empress Valeria no hard feelings, if she needed anything…. She requested to be allowed to keep one statue of her husband in the Forum. The Senate approved. Unbeknown to them fishermen had fished out the pieces of Domitian. Valeria took the fish-knawed chunks to an Egyptian doctor and had him sew them back into something resembling a man. Then she told her artists to make a statue of the cadaver. This horrid statue she put in the forum to remind Roman’s of ‘their ingratitude’.

See? I fucking love this stuff. He was chopped up, tossed into the Tiber, then scooped out again by a grieving but pissed off Empress, and sewn together then put on display for all of Rome to feast their eyes upon. Back then, it seems the Romans had it all over the rest of civilization when it came to enacting revenge on those who have wronged them. Today, folks do shit like make films that they know will incite riots and the rest of the world watches in horror as revenge is delivered fast and harsh. Quite cowardly, in my humble opinion.

Kinda makes me wonder what living during the time of the Roman Empire was really like.

Magnificent Obsessions

When I’m not focusing on my main obsession — finding a decent job — I’m out and about checking out the sights, sounds and smells of Los Angeles. I’ve wandered all over the place in the past two months, out among the living and breathing denizens of this city and have found some new and not-so-new-but-seem-new loves.

Am I obsessed with astrology and psychics? Nope. Especially not after a well-known website which houses psychics and their wares turned me down for a writing/editing job. I know, how odd of me to not be into this since California IS the place for such obsessions. The last thing I need is to have someone tell me what my future is based on a reading a synapse misfiring in their brain gave them. I have a hard enough time dealing with my own little reality to get bogged down in cosmic farces.

Rot.

The hunt for the perfect t-shirt. Actually, this obsession has been a life-long one. I’ve tried them all and my fave has to be a James Perse one I found at a deep-discount place in Chicago. It was similar to this one, but sans the writing on the sleeve.

Best. T-shirts. Ever.

My perfect-t-shirt-obsessed-sister-Liza tells me that the Gap has some decent ones that are long enough at a fraction of the cost. The good thing is, the Gaps out here are great and seem to carry different stuff than their stores in other cities. Also, since James Perse is located here, I’m sure they have some sort of  warehouse sale where those of us of limited means can venture to buy their threads on the cheap. We probably have to be escorted in under a cloak of darkness though as to not to embarrass ourselves. Chalk one up for Los Angeles.

Scarves. Always scarves. My new fave is this one from the over-priced and over-hyped Lululemon. But I love it anyway.

                          

If/when I get a gig, I’m treating myself. Odd? Perhaps. But, that makes more sense to me than getting some hookers and blow and going to town. Hey, that’s just me — I don’t mean to knock your habits.

Friends, this is a horchata con espresso AKA liquid crack.

Magnificent obsession.

I get this fab beverage at the best coffee house I’ve ever been to in my entire life: Cafe de Leche on York and Ave. 50 in Eagle Rock. Words can’t quite describe how fucking yummy and good this stuff is, so I won’t even try. I don’t want to embarrass mahself OR my favorite drink by getting all schmaltzy. Sadly, I view this obsession as a treat since it’s loaded with calories AND it’s kinda expensive. It’s getting to the point that after I guzzle one of these, I need a cigarette and a nap.

 Thank you, Darrin N. for introducing me to my new, fave crack house.

One of the advantages of not having broadcast tee vee is I listen to NPR all day long. When it gets to be too much, I resort to watching screeners or listening to my own music on my ‘puter. Or, I read — a lot. One of the nice things about radio out here is it’s a bit more progressive and interesting than what we have in Chicago. There’s more alternative music here than anywhere else. One of the NPR stations here, KCRW, plays a lot of this music. Some of it is a bit much, but the atonal crap comprises about 5% of their playlists. The rest is worth listening to again and again. My latest faves? Gotye, Heartless Bastards, Los Campesinos, Shelby Lynne, Kimbra, Jessie Baylin and more. Now, before the music snobs weigh in, I’m well aware that some of these artists have been around for a while. No shit. But, this is the first time I’ve had the chance to listen to any of them. These types of tunes aren’t played that often over the Windy City airwaves.

Anyhoo, enjoy.

Gotye.

Smells.

My ‘hood smells. The whole city smells. Some good smells and some bad smell, but mostly good. The ocean, orange blossoms, night blooming jasmine, gardenia and eucalyptus — they’re especially strong post-rain and help to smother the roasting taco meat and pee-pee stench (rarely are the two experienced at the same time) that permeate my street when the breeze is juuuuuust right.

Since for the moment I’m living in a desert and not in a swamp, my skin is suffering. Big time. I’m starting to resemble Bridget Bardot circa now and thrilled about it I’m not. Short of soaking in olive oil, nothing keeps my skin from puckering up due to the arid air here. Add super-sensitive skin to the mix and I’m in a conundrum. The stuff I get from the chain drugstores doesn’t work (and I’ve tried them all) and the good stuff costs some serious coin (thank dog for samples). Pure coconut oil is messy and a pain to prep so I’m still figuring this one out. But, I do have the sunscreen issue licked. A daily shea butter bath will be the way to go should I end up here.

Beautiful people –LA’s filled with ’em due to the movie industry and a burgeoning fashion scene. They’re fun to look at for a minute or two, but as soon as most of them open their mouths, well… there goes my erection.

 

 

 

 

The agony of defeat

I can’t believe what a fuck-up I am.

It’s astounding. I’ve been spent the past few days going over and over in my head, racking my brain, searching my memory banks, peering into the deep, dark, disgusting depths of my soul to figure why I am such a colossal fuck-up. Who in one of my past lives did I piss off? Was I a Nazi guard at a deathcamp and now karma is kicking me in the ass? Did I abuse orphans in Calcutta back in the day? Did I kick puppies or something? Who did I pick on when I was a child that caused the universe to sit up, take notice, and make a point of making sure I don’t succeed in anything at any cost? Was someone recently a recipient of a dirty look that wasn’t a dirty look, but a witness to my face when I’m deep in thought? Who the hell knows.

Or am I a complete moron who happens to be a wonderful actress and has oh so many people fooled?

Somewhere in between lies the truth.

I’ve been in LA for a little over a month and it’s been a huge struggle, not a challenge, a struggle. I’ve had a few painful-as-hell job rejections and sent out tons of resumes for jobs that actually fit my skills set — more so than when I was in Chicago — but so far, nothing. There’s more opportunity out here for someone like me — this town seems to ‘get’ me. I’m more comfortable here, and can’t see myself living anywhere else. (well, maybe San Fran or NYC)

But, who the hell was I to think I could get a job out here? How delusional am I? Quite, obviously.

On the plus-side, I’ve met some great people who are fun, inspiring and NICE. That’s huge with me — NICE.

I’ve also “met” a lot of folks via email who don’t like to return emails. Or phone calls. Lordy, I hope they’re never out of work and in need of contacts because, well, we all know how karma works.

I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that I do everything wrong. EVERYTHING. When I try to make things better for me, I get slapped down in the most obscene manner. It’s astonishing to me. My friends and family who are experiencing huge successes, I curse them under my breath. “Die in a fire,” is what I hear the evil Julia saying more and more. Some folks I know aren’t any smarter than I am. The bad part is, the decent and kind Julia is taking her own sweet time at punishing the Evil One. It ain’t pretty, but it’s the truth.

So, what do I do about this? No clue. My psyche is spent. Worn out. Frayed. Beat. Fucked. I’m down to eating one meal a day because I don’t want to spend the money. I don’t answer phone calls anymore. Thank dog for voicemail.

I might as well take up running — maybe I’ll be as successful as Jim Fixx was.