Kyle Burbank

Freelance writer, blogger, and author

A hub for the witty creations of Kyle Burbank, a writer in Glendale, CA. Download sample scripts, read daily musings in blog form, watch videos and more.

Harkins Camelview 5: An Obituary

When I was 16, a movie called Bend it Like Beckham somehow ended up on my radar. The film was getting positive buzz and so my friend and I decided to seek it out. In doing so, we discovered only one theatre anywhere near us playing it: Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Even though I hadn't spent much time in Scottsdale to that point, I had actually heard of the theatre as I recalled they were also the only ones showing Bowling for Columbine when I was interested in seeing that (though I wasn't old enough yet since it was rated R). Soon I would learn that Camelview was what many referred to as an "arthouse," playing smaller, independent and foreign films. Having really only been familiar with the mainstream blockbusters that populated the local cinema, it had never even really occurred to me that independent films would be a thing.

By this point, I actually worked at a "regular" movie theatre owned by the same company and had employee passes allowing me to see films for free. With the in mind, my friend Mic and I ventured up to Scottsdale one afternoon after school to see Bend it Like Beckham as well as Lawless Heart —  another film playing there that we chose pretty much at random. Incidentally, while Beckham was playing in the large, 450 seat theatre, Lawless Heart was in the smallest movie auditorium I had ever been in, seating just over 50 people. On top of that, the decor of the theatre was undeniably 70's, from the reflective, sloped ceiling to the now-famous "mushrooms" that provided shade out front. While some might say this made the theatre look outdated, I thought it gave it charm and alerted guests that they were in for a different kind of movie-going experience.

Note: this film has no sound and makes no sense since I never edited in what he was supposed to be watching, but I hope you enjoy the beauty of Camelview in 16mm black and white film — a fitting medium for a legendary cinema.

Looking back, it's funny to think that my jump into independent cinema started with a film as primed for mainstream as Bend it Like Beckham, but it actually speaks to growth indie film has experienced over the past 10+ years that I observed first hand. After several more trips up to Camelview where we were met with near-empty auditoriums, we finally got to see how busy the theatre could get when we went to see the Sophia Coppola film Lost in Translation. Suddenly that massive 450 seater didn't feel as big.

The more I fell in love with Camelview and the product it showed, the more I started to despise the films that I regularly sold tickets to. However, sometimes the films I saw at Camelview on opening weekend would eventually make their way down to my theatre... which only managed to upset me more. I vividly remember excitedly synopsizing American Splendor to a couple who, in turn, looked at me befuddled before purchasing tickets to Scary Movie 3 instead. In fact, many of the great indie films that went wide floundered with single digit sales down at my home theatre.

Eventually, I quit my job at the theatre in hopes of doing something different. Instead, I ended up applying to Camelview less than four months later. During my interview, the manager questioned why I'd want to drive all the way up from Chandler just to work at another theatre, but I assured her it was worth it. 

My first week working at Camelview was one of the slowest I've ever experienced. They even brought over two mainstream films (The Ladykillers and Godsend) presumably to try to bring in some business. It was so dead that the one concessionist running the stand spent most of the night reading a book. 

That's when I learned that Camelview is either the deadest house in town or the busiest — it all had to do with the films they were showing and the reviews those films received. I did find it somewhat funny that the critic for The Arizona Republic could make or break a movie's run in the market, but that seemed to be how it went. However, over the years, more and more independent films would hit (and, eventually, take over the Oscars) making the theatre a destination for many and a complaint for others ("why do all these films only show in Scottsdale?!")

To make a long story slightly shorter, I worked as a Team Member, Team Leader, Assistant Manager, and finally a Senior Manager at Camelview. As a Team Member, I'd take delight in decorating the box office mylars — something that only a handful of theatres still had, most replacing theirs with digital signs — and as a manager I got to build the films up from their individual reels onto a platter for easier projecting. The latter task meant I also got to screen the films that would grow to be some of my favorites: Me and You and Everyone We KnowIn BrugesGarden State, Once, The Squid and the Whale, etc. 

One of the more trying times of each year was building over 20 films for the Scottsdale International Film Festival that was being held at Camelview at the time. While most of the studio film came in nice, metal cans and on standard reels, many of the festival prints arrived in boxes and on different, European-style reels. Worse still, some would have no cores at all — just film wrapped around film. Still, I have to admit it was fun watching two movies at a time in our wide-glassed projection booth and inventing new ways to facilitate getting the films together. 

What was also interesting was seeing how the staff took to the unique films that Camelview showed. When I was first hired there, the theatre shared a General Manager with the mainstream multiplex inside the mall (literally) across the street. While doing interviews, the managers could often tell whether an employee should be at Camelview or Fashion Square based on their sensibility. Eventually, the two theatres were split, with a each getting a (usually green) General Manager. 

Most of the time, those hired on — including the new GMs — would have little to no familiarity with the films that played at Camelview. However, within a few weeks, they would learn to love the quirky and strange pictures that came through the door. After all, chatting with the patrons about film was practically part of the job description there.

My knowledge and passion for the Camelview product is mostly the reason the I was able to stay at the theatre for as long as I did. In most cases, Assistant Managers being promoted to Senior Manager would transfer to another location. However, an exception was made in my case thanks to my District Manager who knew how I felt about the place. 

With only five concession registers, two box office lines, and one dumpster, there were times that Camelview (and I) got slammed with business. Brokeback Mountain. Little Miss Sunshine. Juno. All were massive hits and all played exclusively at our tiny theatre for a minimum of two weeks before expanding anywhere else in the Valley. Many times it was a struggle placing the films in the correct-sized auditoriums as nearly all of them were nominated for awards. Plus you could almost guarantee you'd hear complaints about #5 (the 55 seat theatre) no matter what you played in there.

I don't think anyone at the corporate office ever believed I'd ever want to leave Camelview, but I eventually did in 2008. As much as I loved it, I decided I wanted to try to work my way up in the company, which eventually brought me all the way out to California. The last time I got to visit the theatre was almost exactly two years ago when I was invited out to the company holiday party to celebrate my 10 years of service (when you subtract a couple of breaks). I was delighted to show my coworkers and my wife all the cool secrets I knew about the place, including some even the manager on duty had no idea about.

Next month I'll be turning 30 and so, naturally, I've been thinking a lot about my teenage years and the events that made me who I am today. I can honestly say that a lot of my path can be attributed to Harkins Camelview 5. Not only was it my occupation for many years, but it was also an education. In addition to helping define my taste in film and humor, the films I saw at Camelview inspired me to think creatively and tell stories in a way I didn't know they could be told. I love the theatre more than I think many people can probably realize or understand and it breaks my heart that I can't be there to say "goodbye."

R.I.P. Camelview (AKA 'Cinema 7')

 1973-2015

Thanks for everything.

"Chocolate" - Snow Patrol

A few months ago I celebrated the anniversary of one Zach Braff film and today’s story starts with another.  Zach didn’t direct “The Last Kiss”, but apparently had influence on the film’s soundtrack after his mixtape for "Garden State" became a massive hit.  The film opens with the song “Chocolate” by Snow Patrol (of "Chasing Cars" fame) and really sums up the theme and story of what we’re about to see.

There’s always a chance that my reading of a song is not what was intended, but to me the lyrics of “Chocolate” clearly detail the fallout from infidelity.  I’m inclined to believe that Zach agrees since “The Last Kiss” is about this same topic.  The most telling lines to support my theory include “You’re the only thing that I love/scares me more everyday/on my knees I think clearer” and, my favorite, “Just because I’m sorry doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it at the time.”  Let's focus on the latter.

Before moving to California in 2009, I was in a relationship with the same person on and off for about four years.  During one of the later off periods in our relationship, I decided it would be smart for me to explore other options.  With that in mind, I posted a personal ad on Craigslist detailing the type of girl I was interested in dating,  As you may expect from any experience listing a stereo or room for rent on Craigslist, the majority of replies I received were absolute spam.  Plus, due to the nature of the post, many carried such spammy and awful subject and opening lines as “Hey sexy,” “Heard you want to play” and “Horny & Ready.”

Finally one email came in that seemed genuine.  It was from a girl named Amber who I would come to find out lived and worked relatively close to me.  I don’t remember how we started chatting from there.  Presumably it was AIM before we started texting and then calling.

After a couple of weeks of this, we ended up meeting.  If the idea of me posting a personal ad on Craigslist sounds dangerous than you’ll certainly be horrified to know that one day after work I headed over to Amber’s apartment.  When I arrived she gave me the tour of the apartment (that she had just moved into) and we sat down to talk.  When she found out I had never seen the show “The Whitest Kids U’ Know” she insisted that I watch her DVD copy of the first season. 

When it started to get into the early hours, I said goodnight and headed home.  Our conversations continued as did the list of fundamental films and shows I had never seen and vice versa. One of these titles was “Wristcutters: A Love Story” which my roommate had also been harping on me to see.  A week or so later, we sought to remedy this by making plans for her to come over with her copy.

I should say that during all of this, my at-the-time ex-girlfriend only knew that I had been talking to someone.  The night that Amber was set to come over, my ex was at someone’s house and was reconsidering our break.  I forget what I told her I was doing that evening but I definitely didn’t tell her my real plans.

Upon Amber’s arrival, I told her that my ex had been having a hard time and might be calling me during the evening.  For some reason, she didn’t turn and run at this disclosure.  Sure enough, my ex called and I headed downstairs to ensure that there would be no female voices in the background.  I don’t recall how many times this happened, but it must have been at least a couple.

For all the talk about how I needed to see this film, I don’t remember anything about it.  I assume this is because most of my focus went in to ensuring my ex wasn’t going to flip out on me and the rest went into trying to act normal. The fact that Amber and I eventually started making out is probably to blame for this haziness as well.

When the film ended, I announced a curfew for Amber and sent her on her way.  Again, I don’t know how she didn’t know something was wrong or put up with this absolute asshole move.  My timing must have been pretty good because my ex called again a few minutes after Amber had left.  She sobbed and begged to come spend the night to which I inevitably obliged.  By the time she arrived, she was exhausted and I was ready for bed since I had to open at work the next morning. 

I awoke a few hours later I quietly got dressed for work and head out.  Sometime later, someone informs me that I have a call.  I answer to discover it’s my ex and I start our normal conversation thinking she was just calling out of habit.  Instead she says, “I feel like she was here.”  At this point I freeze for a moment before playing dumb and asking, “who?”  She spells out her theory which is, of course, 100% the truth, and I, of course, deny it.  Finally, she asks again and I reply, “Yes. But I can’t talk about it now. I have to go.”  

Before I could even hang up the screams started.  I repeated my sign off and hung up as I was getting the stink eye from my boss.  The stink eye then turned to a look that said, “what did you do?”

When I arrived home, I found my bedroom trashed.  Letters torn, sheets thrown, and a message written in lipstick on my bathroom mirror that I honestly don’t remember what it said.  

I’m sure you’ve figured this out by now but my ex and I eventually got back together.  Before this I had a couple of subsequent hangouts with Amber, though I didn’t kiss her again after I knew that I was going to have to break things off.  As I pulled up to drop her off, I told Amber that I was going to be getting back together with my ex, but assured her that she was a great girl,  I had a lot of fun with her, and that I was very sorry about the whole thing.  She was not very happy with these consolations. 

Sometime after our off period turned back to on, my ex started seeing a therapist.  Then, at some point, her therapist wanted to meet me and it somehow became couples counseling.  There are several other stories I could tell about this experience, but I stay to the relevant issue that my time with Amber was always referred to as “infidelity.”  I took issue with this and pleaded the infamous Ross Gellar defense of, “we were on a break!”

At the time, I related a lot to “Chocolate” as I spouted some of the same cliche lines such as “it didn’t mean anything” and “it just made we see that I only wanted you.”  I honestly meant these things but still some part of me felt that “just because I’m sorry...” line rang a little more true.

My now-ex and I still remain friends as we later realized that we wanted different things and perhaps stayed together longer than we should have just because it was comfortable.  When I moved away, it made the transition a bit easier as the distance kept us from relapse.  

When I hear “Chocolate” I still think back to that time in my life and how stupid I was. Of course it also makes me think about how much I’ve grown and how happy I am to have found my wife — someone with whom everything just clicked from the start.   Don’t get me wrong, I still love the song, but it can sometimes be painful to think of the “child of 25” I was, but “I promise I’ll do anything you ask this time.”


A Decade After "Garden State"

From the moment I saw the trailer for “Garden State” I knew that I was going to love it.  I had seen a handful of episodes of “Scrubs” and always found it to be funny, fresh, and a cut above other network sitcoms.  I hadn’t really seen Zach Braff in much else but I enjoyed him none-the-less.

Something about the trailer really grabbed me.  The song was perfect, the visuals were interesting, and style was unique.  What’s odd is that the trailer has zero dialogue, which is usually what I find most interesting in films seeing as I want to be a writer and all.  Since our movie house only had five auditoriums I could hear the trailer playing on any given film.  When I did hear it I would run in to watch it in all its glory — sometimes even yelling out “best trailer ever!” 

The day that “Garden State” opened at my little arthouse theatre in Scottsdale I had actually seen it for the third time.  One of the advantages of being a manager is that I got to build and screen the prints that came in.  Normally I would build the film on a Thursday night but we had a press screening for the film at the theatre across the street.  Luckily for my impatient self the print arrived on the Monday before.  I screened it and it was everything I hoped it would be.  After that I ended up getting a pass to the press screening where I even won a bag of promotional materials for the film including a barely-fitting girl’s cut shirt that I still wear.  Then finally I saw the third matinee showing of it that Friday with a few of my friends.


Up to that point there had been a tie for the film I had seen most in theatres. “Garden State” now joined “Love Actually”, “Jimmy Neutron” and other movies I can’t remember at three in-theatre views apiece.  Over the course of the next few months “Garden State” would go on to obliterate that record.

The film released at a very weird time in my life.  I had just graduated high school and was going to be attending university in Flagstaff a couple hours away.  Several of my “Garden State” viewing served as going-away hangouts with my various friends. 

During one such outing, I found the courage to insist that the girl I had “secretly” had a crush on kiss me during the “infinite abyss” sequence where Andrew and Sam kiss in the rain.  She agreed and that night made it even harder to leave the Valley behind.

By the time I moved to Northern Arizona University “Garden State” had been out for several weeks,  However, given it’s success in limited release, the film kept expanding.  The week I started at the Flagstaff theatre the film finally opened there.  This inspired another round of viewings as some people I had known from school and new friends I had made all wanted to see it.  This is probably because I talked about it incessantly and frequently wore that aforementioned girl’s sized t-shirt around campus.

While I identify with it, there is not a whole lot in “Garden State” or with Andrew Largeman I can say I identify with.  I’m not an actor, I’m not Jewish and my mother isn’t dead — nor was I responsible for any tragedy in her life that I know of.  What did speak to me was Large’s quest to find something he really cared about.  I had chosen to attend college because that’s what I was supposed to do and I choose to study journalism because I liked writing.  That didn’t mean I actually wanted to do either.  

Like Large, I had also chosen to move away and do things on my own.  I also told myself that that was fine because I didn’t need anyone.  However, like Andrew turned out to be, I am a hopeless romantic.  I still had hope that something or someone would come along and save me from myself.  

Perhaps the time in my life I felt the most like Andrew Largeman happened later that year when my grandmother died.  My friend Mic summed it up best when he texted me to say, “It’ll be great to go to Jersey again — Sucks you’re going for a funeral... Large.”

On my 19th birthday, I added a tattoo to my growing collection.  I took the outline of the state of New Jersey and Photoshopped in Zach, Natalie and Peter.  If anyone gave me crap about having a movie tattooed on my arm I could justify it by explaining I was also from Jersey.  And if anyone gave me crap about having a Jersey tattoo when I was barely from there, I could explain that it was just a movie.


The 10th and final time I saw the film in theatres was at a dollar theatre in the Valley when I came down to visit.  By that time the friends I went with had seen it plenty of times as well —just not as many as me.  This same group of friends accompanied me to purchase the DVD at midnight from a Wal Mart the night it was released.  It seems pretty silly to buy a movie the second it comes out, but it was largely ceremonial anyway.

After one year in Flagstaff I moved back down to Phoenix.  I initially planned to attend ASU but was instead drawn to Scottsdale Community College for their film program.  While my parents of course wanted me to pursue a four-year degree, I choose to try film school instead.  

In the end, that didn’t quite work out either, but I had taken the first step to finding what would truly make me happy.  For that, I believe I have Zach Braff and “Garden State” to thank.

Waiting

This week I had a job interview and sent in a book proposal. While both of these are quiet productive, I then proceed to do nothing but wait for the rest of the week. 

I know I won't hear about the proposal for weeks or even months. In fact, it was only delivered this morning. I wish the USPS tracker continues past "Delivered".  Perhaps "They picked it up," or "they're opening it," could be arranged. 

I was hoping to hear about the job, however. In a perfect world, I could have been hired today and started Monday. That was I could put in my two weeks' notice at my other job tomorrow. Of course, since they haven't called me to tell me I got it, that also means they haven't told me I didn't get it. So there's a brightside. 

They say not to put all your eggs in one basket, so I've divided mine into two. Now it's time to go back to the drawboard and find other cliches for this paragraph. 

First, there's the return to searching Craigslist for a job and navigating the catch 22 of needing experience in the field to get hired without finding anyone to hire you without experience. 

Then there's resuming work on a book that I don't know will ever see the light of day. By the time I get an answer, I'll probably have it completed. But if this publisher isn't interested, how many more allow submissions? Another writer's catch 22 is that you need to get published to get an agent but need an agent to get published. 

And so I sit waiting.  Wondering. Hoping.  Kicking. Lamenting. Waiting. 

"Girl Meets World"- A Review

Full disclosure: “Boy Meets World” still ranks as my second favorite show of all time behind only Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night”. The episodes from the first season of “Boy Meets World” to the last still hold up for their thoughtfulness and quality and not purely because of nostalgia like other shows from my youth (“Saved by the Bell” comes to mind).  Because of this I, like many, was over the moon to hear about the prospect of a follow-up series.  On Friday the 13th, the pilot was made available for free on iTunes (it’s also been available on WatchDisneyChannel.com along with other episodes,  but only for select cable providers) and finally it was time to see what returning show creator Michael Jacobs had come up with.

The opening scene of the pilot is the same that makes up the first teaser the show released.  This awkward scene is heavy on pointing out its roots, using the word “world” no less than half a dozen times in under two minutes.  It’s also quick to show us the grown up versions of Cory and Topanga, who appear to cheers from the audience.  Unfortunately, this poor attempt to pass the torch sets the tone for the rest of the pilot.

To say the first episode is clunky is putting it lightly.  Granted, pilots aren’t easy and even the best shows on television have less than stellar premieres.  After all, setting up an entire — pardon the pun — world in 22 minutes while still including an engaging plot that can stand on its own is no small task.  Ultimately, “Girl Meets World” tries to take on too much in one episode.

The titular girl in the series is Riley (Rowan Blanchard), daughter of Cory and Topanga (perhaps you’ve heard of them).  The episode begins with her being egged on by her best friend Maya (Sabrina Carpenter) to join her in an activity that has previously been banned in the new Matthews’ household — riding the subway.  As the two of them attempt to sneak out via the fire escape, they’re stopped by Cory who gives a truncated lecture about how she should make her own choices.  Topanga then makes her way in to say that they’ll be there for her no matter what (awwww).  

While on the subway, Riley’s eye is caught by a cute boy (Lucas, played by Peyton Meyer) and she awkwardly attempts to flirt.  This is where it because very apparent that she is, indeed, a Matthews.  As it just so happens, Lucas is a new student in Riley’s class which just so happens to be taught by her father.  

To shake up Riley’s — I really need to stop doing this — world just a little bit more, Maya takes it upon herself to lead a revolution against Mr. Matthews’ homework assignments ("Boy Meets World" episode 204 “Me and Mr. Joad”, anyone?) leaving Riley stuck with a hard decision: does she side with her father or her best friend?

Those stories plus (“Sports Night” reference, folks) Riley has a brother who pops in for about 30 seconds of useless cuteness and there’s a boy in her class with the awfully familiar sounding name of Farkle Minkus who claims to be in love with both her and Maya.  Oh and Jackée shows up for some reason.  Clearly, there’s a lot going on here.

Surprisingly, the best moments of the pilot happen when the adults aren’t around.  Riley’s interactions with Farkle, Lucas and Maya are entertaining enough without having to shoehorn in familiar faces.  In fact, Riley’s neuroses ridden, rapid-paced dialogue is on par with anything in her father’s series.  It’s just too bad that the same can’t be said for many other scenes. 

Perhaps the most egregious scene comes when Cory confronts Maya about her behavior near the end of the second act.  In the scene, Maya drops a “bombshell” that further sets her up to be the new Shawn Hunter.  Where as in the original series this would lead to heartfelt talk and resolution, instead Maya runs off and the issue is dropped.  While this is the worst offense, the majority of the episode’s scenes seem to end on an awkward beat.

While “Girl Meets World” does show some promise, it’s concerning that the episode that got them green lit to begin with could be so sloppy.  Instead of trying to test Riley and Maya’s friendship in the pilot, they should have taken more time to set it up in the first place.  Afterall, just having a new love interest show up in a pilot is enough of a change to set a teen series in motion.  

What it comes down to is this: “Girl Meets World” needs to trust that Blanchard and Carpenter can carry the show just like Ben Savage and Rider Strong did in the original.  While it’s great to see Cory and Topanga again, they should be relegated to the same position Cory’s parents Amy and Alan were; supporting cast.  While “Boy Meets World” doesn’t need to rely on nostalgia to impress, the writers of “Girl Meets World” seem to think that they do (though, I will admit, seeing the original season one font and colors in the show’s titles was a geeky treat).  On top of that, the cameo in the show’s final seconds leaves so many questions that my head is spinning like a top.  

I will gladly give the show a second chance, but, if it continues to pull punches like it did in this first episode, it will sully the legacy of “Boy Meets World” and I can’t stand to watch that happen.

Slacking

Apparently the point of having s blog is to update it. Who knew? 

I made this website to create and share said creations, but lately I've actually been working on a book. It's fun and exciting, but also doesn't provide any immediate source of income. 

Thus, if anyone knows anyone else who is looking for a content writer, script reader, copy editor or any other job where I don't have to interact with costumers, I would love to have it. 

Currently, my book is about half written and I'm working on the proposal to attempt to sell it to a publisher. After all this work, there's a very very high chance they'll reject it and I will have made no money for all my work. 

However, there is that small chance that they'll dig it and buy the book from me. But that money won't come in for a lonnnnggg time.  

Technically, I have a job. I only work there on weekends, and while I could go full time, I can't bring myself to do it. It's really beginning to hurt my soul. 

Anytime I go to work, I just feel anxious the whole day. I like the people I work with, but loathe customer interaction and I feel like running away anytime anyone approaches. 

I wonder a lot what makes me so special that I don't think I deserve to work at such a place. After all, it was my choice to drop out of college, so isn't this the consequence?  Surely there are worse jobs than mine, and plenty of people struggling worse than I am. So who am I to bitch and say I "can't handle" my real job and say I need to do something more creative?

I hate the sense of entitlement our generation has, and I feel like I am now part of the problem. Yes, I am a beautiful butterfly. 

So, anyway, how about that job, eh?

 

This is the End

[The following essay can be heard in audio form on Episode 1 of The Something Clever Show, which can be downloaded here.]

It may seem strange for a podcast to start with these words. Especially one in a first episode.  But, if our friends in Semisonic have taught us anything, it’s that, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” And if they taught us 2 things, it’s that, “Every new beginning comes from some others beginnings end”. 

Endings can come about as our choice: quitting a job, moving, break ups.  Or endings can come about from things out of our control: getting fired, death, break ups.

In the case of my cohost Emily and I, our latest ending comes via the fickle television gods that have informed us our baby-faced services would no longer be required.

Granted, being an extra on a television show isn’t supposed to be a long term job, but after a few years, if starts to feel like home.  So when you learn there is no longer a place for you, it’s easy to slip on your graduation goggles (a term coined by How I Met Your Mother, which seems especially apt in this instance).  

You flash back through all the good memories you have of this job: getting paid to have a food fight, getting paid to make out with strangers, getting paid period.  And forgetting the less than exciting moment: wrapping at 4a on a Saturday morning, the feeling that you’re in a real high school and everything that comes with that, and, on this show, having to listen to the same crappy song over and over and over.  Times 10.

But, there is a silver lining, and you’re listening to it. Becoming comfortable where you are also means that you’re not forcing yourself to grow. Being stuck in a fake high school gives you the same false security of real high school: “I don’t have to worry about what I really want to do yet; that’s so far away”.

Well now it is time to focus on what I really want to do, and what I want to do is write, and, as it turns out, no one is going to hire me to do that just because they like the way I dress nerdy on the singing-gay-kids show.

This show is an outlet as well as a discipline; being both compelled to create and having  somewhere to release it, as well as forcing ourselves to do it even when we don’t feel like it.

And so, with that, we proudly introduce the ending of this essay and the beginning of the Something Clever Show.

Anxious Energy

Note: the following essay was posted on Dec. 23, 2012 on my Tumblr.  I thought I'd repost it here because, well, content.

My favorite film of all time is P.T. Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love”, starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson.  In the film, Adam’s character, Barry, is asked what’s wrong with him after having a freak out moment.  Barry responds, “I don’t know if there is anything wrong because I don’t know how other people are.” 

This perfectly explains my feelings about myself.  I’m guessing I have some sort of anxiety disorder, but I couldn’t really say for sure, because, I don’t know how other people feel.

I’ve known people that have been diagnosed with various anxiety or depression issues.  I knew one girl who’s depression apparently made her a crazy, awful, ungodly bitch… but, then again, alcohol was also at play.  I’ve seen a girl curl up naked in the fetal position and scream at me to get her Xanax because she was having such a bad panic attack… but, then again, alcohol was also at play.  I’ve heard of a girl who has too pull over to the side of the road sometimes and breathe because the traffic is so stressful… I like to assume alcohol played no part in this one.

None of these happen to me.  So what does happen, exactly?

Well, there’s a lot of nervous energy.  Tapping my foot, shaking my leg, playing with my sleeves; I forget  I’m doing it most of the time now.  There’ s always an undercurrent of nervousness, but sometimes it gets more noticiable.  My heart will throb a little more, my energy starts to feel a bit more like tiredness, and my level of selfawareness skyrockets as I realize I’m acting less and less normal.  Well, you know, normal for other people.  At this point this is me normal.

Sometimes, in severe cases, I start to feel nauseated, which is even worse for me as I hate vomit- I actually read detailed reviews of films to know if you’re going to see a character puke in a movie before I’ll go see it.  Usually, it’s just a feeling that I can breathe away, but sometimes not.  Sometimes it’s just dry heaving, sometimes not.

Few people have seen me in these moments.  You can tell it’s coming because I shut everyone out; if I’m feeling sick, I probably don’t want to say a single word to you.  Understandably, people don’t take kindly to this.  When you park at, say, a McDonalds and tell your passenger “Hey, I’ll be right back” and then proceed to walk away from said McDonalds to the darkest, least visible area you can find, there’s a strong chance they’re going to follow you with some questions.  And when all you want to do is runaway, you’ll know have someone coming after you asking, “what’s wrong? What did I do?”.  And you’ll have to say, “nothing! It’s not you…I’m sorry.  Just a minute.”   But, they’re probably not gonna stop.  It really isn’t them, but they don’t buy that and I wouldn’t either.  I don’t blame them; they just want to know what’s wrong.  And I don’t know.

Even if I did know something was wrong, I’m not sure how I’d go about fixing it.  Everyone knows that one stoner who will talk about how wonderful weed is. But, for one, I hate the smell of weed.  Two, I would never smoke weed.  I don’t do any drugs and I don’t even drink.

There’s no way to say this without sounding judgmental and mean so I’ll just say it: I don’t like when my friends smoke.  I can tell the difference between the sober them and the stoned them. They’re two different people, and I prefer the former ten times out of ten.  When they’re high they get silly, ditzy, maybe a little annoying.  I don’t want to be like that.  

I just want to be myself, and I don’t know if me on any drug, illegal or prescription would still be me. Besides, in some cases, my anxiety is a good thing: The nervous energy burns calories (which would explain my 115 pound on a good day physique), it also helps wake me up in the morning, and, most of the time, my panic attacks are really just red lights telling me I’m about to do something stupid.

But, I still don’t know how other people are, so feel free to tell me.

Podcasting with myself

Everyone has a podcast nowadays.  I had one for one whole episode over five years ago now.  It was about 25 minutes long, and all I really did was talk about what was happening at Disneyland.  Then I spent the rest of the time setting up segments I hoped would be recurring.  One of them requested the listeners to send in ideas that could be discussed on the show.  

Here's the problem with that: I, clearly, had zero listeners.  Even if I did, getting them to take the leap from passively listening to actively participating is ballsy to say the least.  I mean, think about the percentage of people who listen to a radio show compared to the number who call.

The hardest part of starting a podcast or a website or anything for that matter is pretending to have an audience when you clearly don't.  Sure you can have your 5 friends listen and then post it on your Facebook so your LA acquaintances can all be jealous of your new found career as podcaster, but that's it.  

Of course, after a few episodes of being excited to embark on this new project, you may realize that no one, in fact, is listening to your show.  And then you start getting those bills for your web and podcast hosting.  And then, 3-10 shows in, your podcast is dead, sitting dormant on iTunes for no one to discover it before your RSS dies from non-payment on your website.

But that's pretty bleak.  Maybe your show will catch on!  And, really, producing it is half the battle.  If you enjoy doing it, and it helps release your creative juices, who cares?

I've had a few other podcast ideas over the years, but the problem was that they all involved others.  Anyone who's tried to get something done for free in LA can tell you that you can't rely on anyone else, which is, for the most part, true.

My one idea (which I still kind of like) was a This American Life type show called The Cellophane Tapes (because cellophane is transparent, and the show would encourage honest storytelling. And they were on tape...well, digital tape, but cellophane tape is--. nevermind, you get it.)  I wanted to not only have a weekly guest who would engage in story-telling based conversation, but also have prerecorded essays people (both hand-selected by be or sent in from those illusive listeners I hear about) sent in.  Doing a show like this would take a lot of work, and while I can easily and cheaply purchase the domain (which I did for a year), I couldn't make the show come together.

So now I'm hoping to embark on another podcast journey.  I thought again about doing something by myself, but I don't know what I could talk about for an hour a week that would be interesting.  So I've enlisted the help of my roommate.  After all, she lives with me so eventually we'd be able to find the time to do it, right?

I still don't know what this show will be, but I know I have to give something a shot.  I'm going in knowing there will probably not be anyone listening, but, if I don't make it at all then literally no one will be.  

Success in LA comes not only from having talent and getting an opportunity, but being ready for those opportunities when they come or making your own.  So here we go.

Making a website.

This isn't the first time I've attempted to make a website.  Although, the first time was on Geocities when I was probably in junior high.  It was for a band I was in that never wrote a song called SAIF, which stood for Stupidity at it's Finest (quite apt, actually).  That site had letters that followed your cursor, text that glittered and, presumably, a .midi sound file that autoplayed after it took a good five minutes to buffer.

While I've learned enough to get past that abortion of a site, I still have no talent in this field.  For example, I am attempting to add text to the page I have cleverly labeled "Videos" where I have posted videos.  I was hoping to add descriptions of what each video was, what hand I had in making it and why you might want to watch it.  Out of context, you'd probably wonder what a scene from Downfall with fake subtitles bitching about James Cameron has to do with an aspiring writer in Glendale.  But, alas, I am failing at making this fix.

I also can't figure out how to link my Twitter to the page.  This should be easy, and they have a big button that I'm supposedly just able to click, log in to Twitter, and approve the link.  This, however, isn't working.  So now you people will have to do that math of going to twitter.com/kyleburbank to see all my wit and narcissism.

Speaking of narcissism, I just created a website that is MY NAME .com   then added a blog to it, and then created a post about the trouble I had building said page.

I am the worst. 

Update: I cheated and added text over the video thumbnails. Crisis: averted-- this time.  

2nd Update: The Twitter issue has also been resolved. Huzzah.