Is there a movie that has ever freaked you out because of its semblance to your own life?
On a road trip from Los Angeles to a suburb of San Francisco, I tried to make conversation with my father. As usual, I had to ensure that we stayed off of certain topics, such as my choice to pursue a career in journalism. My dad went to school to become an engineer, a much safer and seemingly tougher career choice, so like many, he assumed that journalism would be loser career, if you could find a job in it at all.
I instead asked Dad what his favorite film is, and he told me the plot of A River Runs Through It, a film eerily similar to the life of my dad. Both him and the main character grew up in a beautiful, natural setting, exploring with their respective brothers. They both ended up going off to University, and both their brothers were particularly bold, fun people.
I decided to record and watch the movie when we got to my parents' house. Soon after I started it, my dad came in to watch. I don't think he had seen it in a long time.
Dad sometimes says that I remind him of his brother, Dan: risky, curious, energetic. Dan has explored many topics and climbed many mountains: a true fencehopper, and all. Dan is also like the character in A River Runs Through It, the younger brother named Paul, who tries new things, gambles, and becomes a successful journalist. Paul's colorful personality and open mind make his writing shine, and his words immortal.
There is one more similarity between my dad's life and that of Norman, the older brother in the film. Their brothers, Paul and Dan, lived very exciting lives, and their antics both worried and amused their families. Ultimately, through their dangerous lifestyles and a whole lot of bad luck, they were both killed in their prime.

Later, as always, we got back onto the subject of journalism as my career. This time, my dad said something different than usual.

"Actually, I think you'd make a good journalist." I was surprised to hear this, of course. "You've got an inquisitive mind, like Dan. He could have been a journalist too."
I don't think anyone in my family believes in reincarnation; I know I don't. I just happen to be similar to my uncle Dan, and Dan just happens to be similar to Paul. And Paul was a journalist. So now, because I saw a movie and reminded my dad of the kind of person his brother was, I have Dad's blessing and the chance that Dan lost.


Remember in high school when people you knew could be put on a linear scale of success? Basically all you had to do was look at their GPA and maybe extra-curriculars, and that would determine the caliber of school that they went to. That, in turn, would probably determine their success in life. So, what happened to the people who were obviously going to fail and the people who were obviously going to succeed? It's obvious, right?

Let's look at my friend, who I'll call Mike, and his sister, "Amanda," who together perfectly illustrate the deviant vs. straight and narrow model. I've known their family very closely for a long time, and they both went to the same high school that I did, while I too figured  them as the wise king and the fool.

Mike is the fool, a looney person, passionate about everything. He'd insist that trail markers and signs are just suggestions, and as long as you know where you are you're fine. He's a strong flavor of ice-cream; not for everyone but always memorable. However, he procrastinated doing homework and housework and spent each dinner arguing with his parents.

Amanda, the first born, was somehow the polar opposite. She was smart and beautiful, and she studied hard. Amanda was an obedient dog, desperate to please her parents, someone who would never disagree or try to go a different way. The wise man, the straight path, follow the guide. 

Amanda was cherished as she always did what her parents said, and Mike was the perpetually patronized. Amanda was getting over a 4.0 GPA and Mike was barely making B's. While Mike was bringing home medals and awards from his sport, his parents would just insist that he should drop out. They even called the school and asked to have him disenrolled because it was taking away from studying time and making him gain weight.

Where are they now? The next installment will explore where they went.


"Animation is simply a form of expression, and can be used to great effect for any genre or target audience," said Sam Matthews, the son of a children's film maker. 

Matthews watched animated shows and movies growing up (as many of us did), but his tastes have changed with his age (as many of ours have.)

 "Western culture has come to regard animated media as being strictly for children, but influences from other cultures are starting to shift this trend for westerners," said Sam. More and more animated shows and films are being created to be entertaining for adults watching it with their kids, and some are even being created for adults only. Adult Swim is an entire network created to showcase (mostly) animation  targeted at adults. However, most of these shows seem to be targeted at inebriated 16-29 year olds, and it barely skims the breadth of the history of adult animation. 

You've probably heard of South Park and The Simpsons, and the whole line up of Seth MacFarlane shows (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show). There is also a huge amount of anime targeted towards adults. Here is a list of the top 6 western shows and films for grown-ups that you may not have heard of, but which are fairly great. 
*Also, recognize that the clips are to various extents NSFW!*

6. Clone High 
Why it's for adults: It's about historical figures children wouldn't remember. Some references to beer and sex.
Why it's great: Clone High was a series that ran for one season about teenage clones of historical figures, like Abe Lincoln and Ghandi. The characters were well-developed, and the humor was at once understandable and smart (In shop class, Caesar warns a careless clone of Jesus Christ, "Be careful with that nail gun, Jesus!")
5. The Plague Dogs (1982)
Why it's for adults: Animal abuse, some violence, sad ending.
Why it's great: The Plague Dogs was written by the same author of Watership Down, and it follows the escape of two dogs from a testing facility. The film features an attempt to escape human oppressors, a descent into insanity, and a terribly emotional ending. 
4. Superjail! (2006-2008)
Why it's for adults: Extreme violence, references to sex and alcohol.
Why it's great: Superjail! is a series on Adult Swim with incredible, psychadelic animation. Each episode starts with a somewhat benign plot in a super huge jail (in a volcano in another volcano), but things soon go awry. Colors swirl, insanity ensues, and the inmates are massacred in terrible, bloody numbers, but it's completely hilarious in the emphatic randomness.
3. Spicy City (1997)
Why it's for adults: References to violence, sex, and drugs, language
Why it's great: Spicy City was the first animated adults-only show, created by cartoon bad-boy Ralph Bakshi. What's noticeable here is not the animation or the adult themes but the intense philosophical issues related to the mind and body. In one episode, characters who are in love destroy their bodies to exist together in a virtual game, and in another a man searches for his daughter but accepts a clone as substitute. If any series will make you think, it's this one.
2. Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" (2003)
Why it's for adults: Gross humor, smoking, references to sex
Why it's great: Yes, it may be hard to believe that the beloved cartoon series of your youth was made into a short series for Spike TV, but the result was at times pretty great. While some of the episodes are reminiscent of the gross humor for which Ren and Stimpy are famous, (taken to an even higher degree,) the more adult humor was even funnier. The most amazing part of this series, though, was the incredible animation. The characters' actions are emphatic and humorous, and their elasticity and caricaturized faces demonstrate real mastery of animation.

1. Fritz The Cat (1972)
Why it's for adults: Sex, drugs, violence
Why it's great: Fritz the Cat was well-known when it came out, as it was the first X-rated animated feature film. The story involves a college student, who is also a cat, who is caught in the 1960's intersection of sociopolitical activism and hedonism. While the adult elements are salient, the plot is very good as well, and it should make you think. It was directed by Ralph Bakshi, and it marks the historical moment when western animation extended its reach to adult humor and themes.
"Even with realistic treatment of the subject matter, an animated format disconnects the audience from their preconceptions, and allows purer emotional connection between the audience and the story teller," said Matthews.

These pieces are alternatively humorous, beautiful, insane, shocking and emotional. Hopefully these examples exemplify the reasons that adults can enjoy cartoons just as much as our younger selves.
The students in Writing, Reporting and Ethics took these pictures to represent their weekend. 

Kristine's was the photo of the man performing in Little Tokyo. "He's there performing every weekend." Kristine says that this performer has been on America's Got Talent. 

Monica works as the worship coordinator at a Church called Shepherd of the Hills, where she entertains kids with videos, coordinates plays, and teaches them bible study. "It's a lot for [the kids], it's fun."

My picture is the one where I'm climbing on rocks. Some of my floormates and I have a bike race this saturday, and we trained by checking out the Chatsworth resevoir. We saw coyotes and places to climb, but there was no water in the resevoir.
Not created by me, but by one who calls themself "tatercakes."

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"Citizen Artists Making Emphatic Statements" was the name of the exhibit that took place at the 18th Street Art Complex from July to September 2008.

This art complex is a community of artists in Santa Monica. The exhibit, curated by Adolpho (Al) Nodal, focused on art that made important statements about issues such as sustainability. 

A local organization called Fallen Fruit, which focuses on utilizing fruit trees on public land for community use, showed in the exhibit. The organization makes maps of trees on public land so that individuals can find where to pick their own fruit. The organization operates out of Los Angeles and hosts local events, but it has a global perspective. 

"We kind of look at the whole world through the lens of fruit," said representative Matias Viegener. "That's become our sort of choice focal point, through which we examine a lot of other things." 

According to the 18th Street website, the center's mission is "to provoke public dialogue through contemporary ART making." Currently there are fifteen artists in residence there, and they often have events for the public to see the art. 

AllYourBass and I worked on this together. 

Want to impress your friends, or just be able to get away from the cops faster? Use this tutorial to learn how to jump over an obstacle, specifically a garbage can. 

What you’ll need:

A Garbage Can
An enthused onlooker
Reliable footwear

  1. Stretch. This is somewhat optional.
  2. Get your friend to hold your bag.
  3. Balance your Tchai. What’s Tchai? It doesn’t matter, just tell yourself you’re balanced.
  4. Start at a reasonable distance. To get enough speed, I suggest starting at least 20 feet away on even ground.
  5. Start running. Use natural but long strides.
  6. Launch.
  7. Land. Don’t forget this one.
  8. Prepare for jerks to say “I would have laughed so hard if you tripped.” This happens pretty much every time.
Congratulations, you are now a BAMF. 

To me a library symbolizes an environment of sharing, of passive anti-corporatism, where no one needs to even bring out their wallet before entering and using their services. However, a library still needs a lot of money, and the Los Angeles Public Library (of which there are 8 regional branches and a whopping 64 community branches) needs $117 Million, according to the Library's website ( This is actually a $5.9 million cut from last year's budget.

Since the California budget cuts, California's services are hurting, and the libraries are having no small amount of trouble as well. This budget cut means many branches will be closed both Sunday and Monday, and less books and programs will be available to the public. 

This is no good thing, but what budget cut is? If you were Mayor Villaraigosa, you would surely face opposition no matter what programs you decided to cut. 

This may sound biased as a voice behind a blog, but I think that libraries, while very nice and useful, offer services that are a bit outdated. Services that we could live without for a few days a week. 

For example,  LA Weekly interviewed a student who appreciated getting a book from the library called Under the Rainbow: Growing up Gay. Great. Weekly quoted him saying, "The thing about libraries was that it was a place to get information for free." Hm, info for free? You don't say. I can tell you another place to get that service, and you're looking at it. 

Of course libraries offer more than that. This article from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles suggests that we cut money from a Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, as that program costs $5,245 per youth and the library, which serves many more young people, only costs $6.40 per youth. It cites the library as a safe place for students to go, and then inherently a hindrance to gang relations.

Other services are being hit even harder. According to this Daily News article by Rick Orlov, hundreds of people are being laid off, daytime child care programs are being canceled at parks and Kid's programs are being scaled back.

While I'm personally for social programs (well, now that I don't pay income tax), I think a small cut to the Public Libary's budget isn't going to kill anyone, so long as they are generally there. There are still thousands of places you can visit in LA on a Sunday, for which the city pays, like the nearest park or some community centers. 
I wonder what it's like to be a street Vendor? Venice Beach would be a great place to interview. For now, I have a representative of the Two Trees design company at Matador Mall at California State University, Northridge.
Los Angeles might not have the bike-friendliest of streets, but it has a thriving rider culture. 

Tuesday nights there is a group of people who get together in a Vons parking lot and ride for miles. It's a highly social activity, with plenty of stops at liquor stores and bars, and it's called Tuesday Night Special. 

I decided one night to go just to meet new people and kill time, but I didn't realize that this night could turn me to view bicycling as a passion. The most exciting part of the night was, of course, the ride. The group took up a whole car lane, dressed in bright colors and waving at cars. Going downhill was like riding a leg-powered roller coaster; it was so fast and just a little dangerous. To go so fast though the partially-lit streets powered only by your adrenaline is more than exhilarating. 

Now I bike everywhere I go. I don't even need a car when I have the uninhibited speed and swiftness of a two-wheeler. I don't need to pay for parking, gas or insurance, and I get karma points from the environment. Now I consider myself a passionate bicyclist, and I bring other people to these night rides to try to awaken their passions.