Monthly Archives: August 2015

Heroes, Vol. 3: Villains

Volume 1

Volume 2

Warning: Major spoilers for Volume 3 and some for Volume 4.

It’s difficult to distinguish between season two and season three, especially when you’re binging and especially when it’s likely that a lot of the story in season three was supposed to be covered in the previous season. So to refresh your memory and mine:

Volume 2 ended with Peter destroying the virus, Adam trapped in a coffin, and Nathan being shot before he could announce to the world that he can fly.

Volume 3 began with the reveal of Nathan’s shooter. But honestly? Any Milo Ventimiglia fan worth their salt could recognize him, even from behind like we saw at the end of the previous season.

What I appreciate about “Villains” is that it doesn’t really take much time to ramp up. In fact, we’re quickly thrust into the season with Peter and Claire’s standoff in the future as well as Peter chasing his future self after Nathan was shot.

It’s worth it to note that one of my favorite parts of this season is actually one of the slower scenes. As Sylar pokes and prods at Claire’s brain, finally fulfilling his wish that was left unrealized during “Homecoming”, they have an actual heart-to-heart. This sets Sylar’s season three arc up nicely. Ironically, in the volume entitled “Villains”, our biggest villain becomes a hero (for a short time, at least).

While Volume 2 was centered around the virus, Volume 3 was centered around a formula. Because of these thematic similarities as well as the similarities I’ve already mentioned, the two volumes do tend to blend together a bit. Especially since the second half of Volume 3 lost its clear “Villains” theme. In fact, it became unclear who the villains were since the formula was so divisive. The virus was clear. Those who supported the virus supported the death of those with abilities (and eventually the death of those without abilities too). But in the case of the formula many thought the formula would bring everyone on the same level, but something went wrong. So wrong Peter had to come back in time to shoot his brother. This vilified Peter for the first half of Volume 3, and made his agenda murky at best in the second half.

In the end, Peter prevailed, but not before Mohinder accidentally ingested some of the formula and Peter and Ando injected themselves with the formula. Now Mohinder’s body chemistry has balanced itself out and he’s retained his powers, Peter has at least some version of his powers back, and Ando has a new power that he has yet to fully understand (mostly he’s a super charger for other people’s powers, but we know from the future that there is probably more to his ability than that.)

As for the other half of the Petrelli family, the parents are more messed up than we originally knew. Arthur is not actually dead, he originally planned to kill Nathan, but Angela got to Arthur first. Arthur then, close to death, faked his death and waited until a regenerator (Adam) could be brought to him so he could heal himself. It turns out Arthur has a similar ability to Peter’s, but when he says “I took your power”, he really means he took the other person’s power. The original owner has no abilities anymore, which happened to Adam, Peter, and eventually Hiro.

For a moment it seems this control over abilities runs in the family when Angela reveals to Sylar that she and Arthur are his biological parents. And it does make sense. For the most part we’ve seen genetic connections in people with abilities. Plus, Sylar looks like a cross between Nathan and Peter. And since we find out that Nathan was injected with the formula when he was a baby, this could prove even further that when left alone genetics plays a huge part in the development of abilities. Meredith and her brother Flint both have fire-related abilities. Arthur and Peter are able to transfer abilities. I’m actually pretty disappointed that Sylar didn’t end up being a Petrelli. In the end it had been an effort to manipulate him, which is what made him who he is today after Elle and HRG pushed him to become a murderer when he first discovered his ability to prove he was dangerous.

Also, it’s pretty clear Elle was supposed to be the mother of the son Sylar–ahem–Gabriel had in the future. Too bad something went wrong in the timeline and he reverted back to his old ways, killing Elle. Well, too bad for Gabriel. Great news for us.

So even though Sylar was supposedly killed in a fire after Clair embedded a piece of glass in his skull, something tells me we haven’t seen the last of him. (Mostly because I’ve already started Volume 4, which is actually the last half of Season 3…it’s about to get really confusing folks!)

Next up: Volume 4: Fugitives

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How to Make the Most of Your Unemployment: Part Two

Part One

Looking for a Job

This is the important part, right? Finding a job while you’re unemployed. But the entertainment industry isn’t as cut-and-dry as other careers. I can’t simply cold call every business and send resumes (though this is a part of it). I can’t look at the classified section or even career websites. I’ve covered this a little bit in previous posts about moving to LA, but never has it been more real than it is now. I’ve set myself a deadline of September 1 to find an industry job before I start looking elsewhere (nanny positions in particular).

Mostly I’ve been procuring letters of reference and recommendation, fine tuning my resume, reaching out to my contacts, and scouring the internet for the few positions that are posted. The day after my job ended I had the opportunity to apply for a position and got really close, but didn’t end up being chosen. One of the reasons being that the other person had more experience. Which is obviously frustrating because it’s an entry level position, so if I can’t even get an entry level position whose way was basically paved for me by certain contacts, how do I fare for other positions?

But at the end of the day I have to accept it wasn’t the right position for me and keep trudging on.

I’ve been lucky enough that a writer friend of mine has kind of been championing me. He’s been sending my resume to shows he’s worked on, to talent agencies (agencies are a great place to start at entry level), to basically anyone he can think of.

Beyond what I’ve been doing, the only thing that’s left is cold calling production offices and asking if they’re accepting resumes. I’ve been putting this off because cell service in my apartment is basically nil. So we’ll see how that goes.

Setting Myself Up for Success

(Honestly, I didn’t know what to call this section, so just go with it.)

I’m a writer.

At least that’s what my business cards say and that’s technically what this blog/web site is called.

More and more, though, I wonder if my skill set is more fit for something else in the industry. My previously mentioned champion has mused that perhaps I’d make a good producer. Which I know even less about getting into.

But I digress.

For now I’m sticking to the writer thing. Because of the cards. And the web site.

So this is a good time to write. I’ve got hours upon hours each day to write. Which is why I’ve started a Wall.

The Wall has six categories: Pilots, Specs, Web, Reviews, Blog Posts, and Essays. Most of those should be self-explanatory, but I will say that Web actually means ideas for web videos. Which could work well to marry the writer and producer goals. Reviews are reviews of books, movies, tv shows, podcasts, TED talks, web videos, whatever strikes my fancy. While blog posts will be more like this post. More the inner workings of my mind (and if you’re still here, more power to you.)

I jot down ideas on sticky notes (that aren’t actually sticky, but they look like sticky notes and I have sticky puddy, so it works out) and it serves as a visual reminder of what my goals are and what I should be working on every day. (Note: one of the notes just says “Aubrey Plaza” and really, what else do you need?)

So far most of my writing has been for this blog because that’s easy. It’s casual, it’s mostly off the cuff, and it’s low pressure because not many people read this (okay, it’s mostly me and my roommate and I think my roommate reads it more than I do).

Exercise

Before unemployment, I had set a goal for myself. I jumped on the 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene. I cannot recommend her videos enough, particularly the 30 day challenge. Outside of this challenge, I didn’t set any other goals for fitness. I bought a rebounder and used that intermittently, but it was never a part of any goal during the 30 days. I didn’t do any extra cardio either. Just the yoga. The idea was I wanted to get more in tune with my body and more control over my body. And I wanted to finish this challenge, so I removed all other possible fitness obstacles.

And it worked! I finished the 30 days a few days ago and now I’ve moved on to setting some new goals. That’s what’s great about having so much free time. I can mess around with different fitness techniques and ideas. I can sign up for free trials at gyms and really devote time to exploring what they offer.

Or I can do what I did today: I can go for a walk just before sunset around my new neighborhood that I know little about. And now I know more about it and I got 30 minutes of cardio in. The sad part is half the steps I’ve taken over the past few days (according to fitbit) were taken during that 30 minute walk.

Basically I’m taking advantage of all this free time and implementing better habits. Because that’s definitely not going to happen when I’m working 12 hour days.

How to Make the Most of Your Unemployment: Part One

No, this is not a guide to beating the unemployment system. Because that would be wrong. Plus, I don’t know how to work the system.

Instead, this is a place for me to document how I’m taking advantage of this time of unemployment. If it gives other people ideas, great. If not, I can look back and see what I accomplished (or what I need to do better next time.)

To give context, the job I procured when I first moved to LA two months ago was a summer nanny gig. The summer is now over, so my employment is over. This was great. This was just what I wanted. Low commitment. Something to tide me over until I get a job in the industry. This was perfect.

Yeah, not so much.

Sure, I was able to save a little more than one month’s rent (after already paying this month’s rent) and I have a 0% APR credit card for the next year or so, but I don’t like uncertainty. I don’t do well with uncertainty. So everything I do on a daily basis is my attempt to distract myself from the uncertainty. From the negative aspects of unemployment.

So what are the positive aspects of unemployment?

R & R

It’s forced rest and relaxation time. There’s nowhere to be, no excuses not to exercise, hang out with friends, eat well, read, and better yourself in general. This is going to look different for everyone. For me, an introvert, I took about 3-4 days to do absolutely nothing. I placed no expectations on myself. I ate whatever I wanted. I watched two-and-a-half seasons of Heroes. I played The Sims. I spent 16 hours every day in the same spot on the same couch.

I call this my detoxing.

What happens after the detox?

Cleaning

Today I cleaned like mad. I cleaned my bathroom (everything looks gorgeous now!), I vacuumed, I took the trash and recycling out, I organized my room, I did laundry, dishes, anything I could think of got done. It’s almost 5:00 and I’ve only watched 30 minutes of television. And those were TED talks (more on that later).

Food

When you’re unemployed, it’s important not to overspend. And now you don’t have any excuse not to make food at home. Supposedly it’s cheaper, and I guess it is, but when I go to the store for “a few things” and spend $50, that’s hard for me to rectify. But I digress.

It is cheaper. And it’s healthier. And the best way I’ve found to do this is to choose a few recipes for the next few days, shop for them, then come home and make them right away. Or at least make the things that are possible to make ahead of time.

Today I went to the store (see? I got a lot done between cleaning and food), spent $60 (but that included toilet paper, so really it was the usual $50), came home and immediately set up stations.

Like most apartments, my kitchen is pretty small. There’s a tiny bit of counter space to the left of the dish drainer, a large space to the right of the sink, and a small space on the counter that holds the microwave and toaster. So this got complicated. Regardless, I set up space to mix some tuna salad together, another space to make an avocado cilantro sauce, and another space to cook my breakfast because I broke all the rules and went to the store hungry.

Additionally, I made some fruit juice popsicles and froze some grapes.

So now I have enough tuna salad for a few meals, a great sauce to use with raw veggies (enough to last at least a week), and some healthier dessert options. Plus, I had extra gluten-free pancakes, so tomorrow’s breakfast is taken care of. If I pair these options with the remaining oatmeal, eggs, salmon, chicken, and veggies I already had, I’m good for the next few days at least. In the end I’ll have probably spent less than $100 for a week’s worth of food.

Bonus, I got to feel productive for the first time in a while.

TED Talks

The last thing I want to talk about is TED talks. If you have a computer, or even better an Apple TV, TED talks are easily accessible these days. Most videos are about 15 minutes, which makes them perfect for watching while you eat a meal, or even while you prepare a meal. And since they’re largely auditory you don’t even need to be looking at the screen most of the time.

Over the past few days of unemployment I’ve watched a variety of talks ranging from how to make choices (this was chosen once I realized I was having difficulty choosing a TED talk), lexicography (the act of compiling dictionaries), and tapping into our brain to experience the world around us in a new and different way.

These were fascinating, I felt more well-rounded and knowledgeable after watching them, and I even got a few ideas for characters and story lines.

I’ve been watching TED talks for years, but rarely with such a determination (usually only after being recommended I watch a specific video), so I encourage everyone to be more intentional in watching TED talks, particularly if you are currently unemployed.

Upcoming in Part Two: looking for a job, working towards your goals, exercise, and more.

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Moving to LA: Finding a Place to Live

Renting is practically impossible when you first move to LA

I knew buying was only for the super rich and/or really stable. But I’d thought renting would be easier. Because that’s what everyone does–they rent. Struggling actors rent. People who work odd jobs rent. Comedians rent. Writers rent. How difficult could it be?

Very difficult, it turns out.

Most landlords in LA are pretty strict about making sure your monthly income is three times rent. This makes sense on some level, but it’s hardly realistic. Especially for those of us new to LA. Even if I’d had a job lined up, it most likely wouldn’t be bringing in more than $3000/month (the lowest rent you’ll find in the area is around $1000) and I definitely wouldn’t be able to provide two pay stubs to prove I make that much per month. Even if you have a roommate, your rent will probably still be a minimum of $700, meaning you have to be making over $2000 per month. Also pretty difficult.

So what are your options?

Until you can find a place hostels, couch surfing, AirBnB, and sublets are your best bet. If you really luck out, you can find house sitting gigs and just move from gig to gig. I imagine this way is a bit more difficult and nerve-wracking. I moved here during summer, so I’ve found plenty of sublets. This is a good route because there’s no deposit involved and low commitment. Fortunately, though, I haven’t needed to go this route.

Instead, I found some friends who were willing to let me stay with them for a few weeks with the understanding that after that I should have a place lined up or find a sublet. This can get awkward, especially in my case where there was a lot of miscommunication, but as long as everyone’s talking and honest it can be a good option.

How about finding a permanent place?

Your best bet is to find a room in an apartment that already exists. For example, a 2 bedroom place where one roommate is moving out and the other is staying.

Another option is to find someone else who needs a place and finding an apartment together.

I’ll admit, I don’t know all the different options for finding a roommate. I don’t particularly trust craigslist (rightly so, I believe). A quick search led me to roommates.com, roomiematch.com, and roomster.com. I can’t speak as to the quality of these sites, but they’re the first that showed up.

Instead, I’m lucky in that I have a sort of built-in community that I’ve turned to. The friends I’m staying with are planting a church in the area and I attended two local bigger churches and a community group meeting early on in my time in LA. Both those churches have fantastic online resources for finding jobs and a place to live. Though it’s no guarantee that these roommates will be better than any I’d find on craigslist or other sites, at least through these more intimate communities many people come with personal references that are easily accessible. This has provided me with no small amount of relief.

This ended up being the option that worked for me. At first I started looking for people who had a place but needed a roommate. This seemed easier than finding a new place with someone. This didn’t end up working out, though. So I “settled” for someone who was looking to move from Glendale to Hollywood to be closer to work.

This has been by far the best decision I’ve made since moving to LA. My roommate works in the industry and we have enough in common that it’s easy to live together, but enough differences so that we complement each other well. The apartment we ended up in was actually the first one we looked at. We looked at a few others, but ran into some problems like I stated above. Together we made three times the rent, but I couldn’t show that. So we lucked out in finding someone who cared more about how good our credit is. Which I think makes sense because that shows that I pay my bills. Just because I make enough money doesn’t mean I know how to manage money.

So in the end everything worked out for the best and we’ve settled in nicely here in Hollywood, which is a great place for me to meet people in the industry and look for a job. Much better than my original preference of Studio City.

What does this mean for others?

Your best bet will probably be to look for a roommate through social media. If you’re open to room shares, that’s even better. I’ve lived in that kind of situation for the past 4 years, so I was really wanting a more traditional apartment situation (hey! I even have my own en suite bathroom!).

So let your friends know you’re looking for a roommate and an apartment. Ask if anyone knows of any good groups or resources. Tap into your community. For me, it was church, but for others it might be a comedy group on Facebook or an online book club or a group for amateur ornithologists. Take advantage of the world you’ve constructed for yourself and be ready to pounce on the first available opportunity. I went through at least three or four almosts before I found the right one. And it happened in a matter of days.

Be vigilant and be prepared.

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Heroes, Vol. 2: Generations

Volume 1

Warning: Major spoilers for Volume 2.

Let me preface by saying this: I got so wrapped up in my re-watch I ended up watching “Genesis” (23 episodes) over the course of two days. So I was relieved to see that “Generations” was only 11 episodes due to the writers strike of 2007/2008. I ended up finishing this season in about a day.

Because the season was shorter and because there was a lot of backstory, this ended up feeling like a filler season.

We learn a lot about the previous generation of heroes and how their actions (still largely unknown) have shaped this new generation. From what I remember this is explored more in season 3 (which I’ve just started), but this just further shows that “Generations” served as a filler. I’m sure it wasn’t always meant to be this way, but plans had to be reworked to accommodate the strike.

Again, I felt as if there was story line that seemed to drag on unnecessarily. Hiro stayed in the 17th century for way too long. It was under the guise of love, but for someone who so strongly believes in morality and saving the world, it was a huge mistake not to leave simply because he wanted to spend more time with someone who wasn’t available. This mistake affected history. Whether this always happened or not, it was a huge risk. However, this mistake was necessary in order to set Adam up as the villain. It could have been done more quickly, though. But Hiro’s story needed to match up with everyone else’s, so it dragged on.

The other major problem I had with this season was the infusion of new characters. Maya and Alejandro were insufferable, particularly because it seemed as if we were supposed to care about them and to care about them immediately. West, while I never completely warmed up to him, he was at least introduced more gradually. Don’t even get me started on Caitlin.

A side note about Elle. I’m torn on this character. I love Kristen Bell and will watch anything she’s in. And I appreciate how Elle represented Noah’s fear of what would happen to Claire if The Company ever got ahold of her. But it was hard to warm up to Elle, because she came across as cheesy, especially in the beginning. But like I said I warmed up to her and she really developed into a strong secondary character. It doesn’t hurt that Kristen Bell asked to be on the show because she loved it so much. That gives her major points in my book.

But overall, the new characters this season were weakly developed and often annoying. I don’t appreciate being expected to care about characters right away when I already have characters I care about. I think back to “Genesis” when Candice was introduced late in the game. But her power made sense to introduce and we weren’t asked to care about her, particularly because she was basically a villain. This worked well and will continue to work, especially when it comes to villains.

After “Genesis”, the show doesn’t need anymore heroes, and from what I’ve seen of Vol. 3: Villains, the writers have figured that out. So if this season could serve as a learning curve for the writers, I’m all for it. There were some really good moments this season, but they didn’t outweigh the weaknesses, in my opinion. It was still worth it to watch, but mostly to figure out what happened after Peter exploded and where the heroes were headed next.

Also, can everyone stop being amazed that Micah “talks” to machines? Yeah, thanks.

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Heroes, Vol. 1: Genesis

Warning: Major spoilers for Volume 1.

In preparation for the new series (season?) of Heroes (Heroes Reborn) I’ve undertaken the somewhat daunting task of watching the entire four seasons of the original series as a refresher, and in the case of the last half of season 4, a catch-up.

“Genesis” was, as always, delightful. I’ve re-watched parts of this season off and on over the years and I’m never disappointed. It’s the most highly touted season of Heroes, and often thought of as the only season worth watching. But we’ll get to that later.

This won’t be an episode-by-episode review (partly because I’m already on season 3, so season 1 feels like a distant memory), but rather a musing on how “Genesis” fits in with the rest of the series, and how the rest of the series measures up to the first season.

The first thing to note about this season is that you can tell the season was well planned out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers knew from the get-go who Claire’s biological parents are and yet they managed to delay the reveal until nearly the end of the season. The way the different characters crossed each others’ paths was masterful and at times even poetic.

The only complaints I have about the season have to do with Mohinder and Hiro/Ando.

Mohinder’s journey, while important, felt disjointed. He was perhaps the character with the most information, but often seemed to be the most lost. He traveled so much that it never felt as if his storyline should be matching up with the others. It’s as if travel time didn’t come into play. For someone whose father was mysteriously killed, he seemed to trust easily. And sometimes his story was just plain boring. Though I will say one of my favorite moments is when Mohinder unexpectedly turns on Sylar whom had been masquerading as Zane. That was unexpected, even on the second viewing.

As for Hiro and Ando, I know Hiro is a fan favorite, and I appreciate him as well. However, it was a little slow going at the beginning. They fought a lot, especially for grown men. Ando was selfish and Hiro was self-righteous. While I understand the desire to show significant character growth, it doesn’t make their early behavior any more digestible.

Regardless, “Genesis” really held up to its name and its reputation, as well as my memory. To see all these characters deal with their own genesis story, eventually coming together to save the cheerleader and save the world. In later seasons, though, we’ll wish it was as simple as “Save the cheerleader. Save the world.”

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