James Franco at UCI Illuminations

IRVINE — On Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, I attended an Illuminations event at the University of California, Irvine where actor, teacher, and author James Franco, 37, spoke about his education, the process of writing Palo Alto, acting, teaching, and his bar mitzvah for Hilarity for Charity.

After showing a short video that features clips of Franco such as scenes from 127 hours and Pineapple Express along with footage of him teaching his class at UCLA, out stepped Franco  clad in a checkered black and white shirt, black jeans, and a pair of sneakers to greet the cheering sold out audience.

While discussing his education, Franco mentions how he wanted to go to art school and his father had originally wanted him to get into math but had decided to not pursue that career and eventually ended up dropping out of college. Ten years later, he had decided to go back to UCLA and explained how “It [school] was a place where I can meet people who share my interests.” Franco even joked how he applied to UCI but did not get in.

“… If you are creating for an audience there must be a balance between full artistic creativity and giving people what they want.”

As the topic turned into a conversation about literature, Franco said that literature is about finding your own voice, finding “what is unique. What are you gonna add to this sea of creativity” and he explains how being in film and studying literature was his way to stand out. “I had been in the film industry for 15 years and studied literature so I found that my thing was to bring those two together,” said Franco. When asked about the arts versus entertainment, Franco explains how he has a “creative stature in the film world” and his “soul goal is not to sell tickets. It is going to be less on the entertainment side and more on the artistic side.”

When asked on what appealed Franco to do independent work, Franco said, “If you take on any creative endeavor, there always seems to be a balance unless if you put it in a vacuum. If you are creating for an audience, there must a balance between full artistic creativity and giving people what they want. What am I giving and what am I fighting for in order to do something real.” He even discussed how during the filming of Milk, “at the time there were still a ton of straight actors playing gay roles” and explained how people asked if he was sure he wanted to play a gay actor. When asked about filming the nude scene for the film, Franco mentioned that he hated doing the nude scene and luckily only had to film it twice.

Next, Franco was asked about the process of him writing Palo Alto and his decision on why he decided not to direct the film. Franco mentions that “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner and Freaks and Geeks were both inspirations to him while writing the book and even though Palo Alto is a good neighborhood to live in, Franco explained that books are “based on our experiences but like any writing, things are changed.” On why he decided on not directing the film, Franco said he did not have the energy to change the book and needed “someone to come in here and be loyal to the book but not be precious with it”

“… the show is ‘Geeks and Freaks’ not ‘Freaks and Geeks.'”

It was interesting to find out that the reason Franco decided on not using a pen name is because he enjoys “the idea that this James Franco thing kind of links all of them. There is a connection to what I write.”

While discussing the filming of Freaks and Geeks, Franco said, “Seth and I did a lot of grumbling and complaining about the geeks getting more air time” which led to him cracking a joke that the show is “‘Geeks and Freaks’ not ‘Freaks and Geeks.’” He continued by explaining how the freaks would meet up and film scenes on the side and plot to add the scenes onto the series but never did it.

“…In a way we are kind of stars of our own Instagram show.”

Franco also had an interesting take on the film Springbreakers. Instead of seeing it as a party film or to warn people not to go to spring break because similar events will happen, Franco mentions that “in its own way, Springbreakers is real life now … In a way we are kind of stars of our own Instagram show. It is more of a fantastic presentation of this idea that we are all a set of actors in our own way and in that sense it is kind of neologistic in the we talk about each other.”

It was also interesting to hear him discuss his teaching methods. While at teaching at UCLA (and Palo Alto High in the near future), Franco explains how all of his classes are project based and he has his students work on the same film but each student has different scenes to take care of. The reason for the same film is because “it fosters that kind of group mentality” and he “does not want it to be you against the class.” Franco’s goal for the course is for students to work together and ask say to each other “how do we make our film better rather than I watched your thing and this is what I didn’t like.”

Franco opening the gift given to him by UCI.

Franco opening the gift given to him by UCI.

Finally, Franco was asked about the Bar Mitzvah he had celebrated the night before (Fri. Aug 2).  He explained how he was “never really religious and Seth (Rogen, 33) said ‘let’s do it [have a bar mitzvah] for the charity!’” and explained how the “real thing” was last night and will do more for the charity in the upcoming future. When asked what if  he knew what else was planned for the event, Franco said he does not know much about the planning but knows that Miley Cyrus will be performing at the event.

As the panel came to a close, a couple of the audience members were given the opportunity to ask Franco questions, Franco was given a gift – which was revealed to be a journal – from UCI, and asked to take a group selfie with the audience.

Franco setting up his camera for the group selfie.

Franco setting up his camera for the group selfie.

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Imagine Dragons: Smoke + Mirrors Tour — Honda Center, Anaheim

On Monday, July 20, I attended the Imagine Dragons: Smoke + Mirrors Tour at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA and it was one of the best shows I have attended thus far.

With fans waiting for doors to open at 6:30 p.m. for a good standing position by the stage (if they were located in the pit) or to find their seats in the house, excitement filled the air. I began to realize that fans within the arena were not only excited to see Imagine Dragons but supporting artists such as Halsey and Metric as well.

Waiting in line for doors to open at Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

Waiting in line for doors to open at Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

As the clock struck 7:30, the lights flickered off and soon New Jersey born singer Halsey took the stage. With an EP titled Room 93 out and her upcoming debut album Welcome to Badlands which will be released on August 28, Halsey energetically performed a seven song set-list. The “Ghost” singer explains how she had recently gotten her wisdom teeth taken out two days prior to the concert but the audience would have never guessed due to the fact that she did not show any pain, sang perfectly, and seemed to have been focused on making an impression on members in the audience who may have never heard of her before and to create a memorable one for her fans who were attending the show.

Throughout her performance, Halsey could be seen interacting with fans from both sides of the arena, leaning back, and laying on the ground for a couple of moments while she sang.

What had seemed to stand out the most when it came to Halsey’s performance was the moment right before she introduced her new single “New Americana.” Halsey explains that, “This song is not about smoking weed and listening to rap music. This song is about a generation raised on two things; pop culture and diversity. This is about a generation that is not afraid of change.”

After a performance of “Hurricane,” the lights rose once more and the audience stood in place waiting for more.

After around five minuets or so, out came Metric. Metric is a Canadian based rock band who had brought a different kind of sound that transitioned well from the relaxed indie music that was associated with Halsey to a more pumped up sound to get the audience dancing and ready for Imagine Dragons. Metric performed a nine song set-list which included Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World‘s “Black Sheep” and “Synthetica”. From every corner of the stadium could be seen audience members singing along and screaming “I love you Emily!”

Although the set-list began to feel a bit long, having Metric perform before Imagine Dragons was a great decision. Metric combined music that involved flashing lights (including light up sunglasses for the band members) and an amazing solo by lead guitarist James Shaw which not only prepared the audience for the main event but caused them to become excited for what will happen next.

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Once Metric had finished their performance, the stage crew began to set up a white triangular curtain that covered the stage. Once the lights went out, the curtain showed sparkling images, smoke, and the silhouettes of the band members of Imagine Dragons. A roar of screams accompanied the fall of the curtain, with no time to take in the presence of the band, they immediately began playing “Shots.”

Imagine Dragons  performed a total of 17 songs which included “On Top of The World,” “Radioactive,” and “It’s Time” but what was most memorable was the way the band would interact with one another and the  audience. As soon as the show began, lead singer Dan Reynolds rushed towards the second stage (where he spent most of his time) to be close to the audience. During the performance of “On Top of The World” Reynolds had jumped off of the stage and walked amongst the first tier of the north side of the arena to interact with fans who were not in the pit. Other members such as bass player Ben McKee and guitarist Daniel Sermon were seen singing and laughing along with fans. Later in the show the band invited the audience to participate in a short stretching exercise.

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It was amusing to watch the band members interact with one another as well. Reynolds introduced McKee as one of his enemies and found it important to state that McKee had won homecoming king when he was in high school because “no one else [in the band] won homecoming king.” McKee and Sermon would be seen playing their instruments side to side and facing one another while continuously joking around.

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Throughout the concert, not only did the fans get to enjoy incredible music and an incredible light show but received insight on who Dan Reynolds is. Reynolds explains that he was saddened by the  Charleston church shootings which was followed by a cover of “Forever Young.”

Finally, the band sent fans home with a performance of “The Fall” which was accompanied by an array of fallen confetti autumn leaves.

The Smoke + Mirrors Tour was one of the most exciting and interactive concerts I have been to. Not only was the audience relatively calm and did not push against one another to get closer to the stage but it seemed as though every artist that performed and every fan within the sold out show was there to enjoy every moment of it and make it last. In a way, the concert felt like home. A home where every member respected one another and came to show their support and appreciation.

Off The Grid

NBC: Parks and Recreation
Within the past year, every time I would tear open the bill for my internet and cable provider, I would notice that the price would continuously increase. After numerous calls to complain, my mother and I had enough and decided to cancel the service only to be left without cable and internet for a week.

The idea of not having either of these luxuries – while I searched for a different provider –  seemed manageable to me. “It won’t be hard. I would be at work most of the time,” I would tell myself. Unfortunately, the idea of not having cable or internet seemed a lot more simple than the act itself. As I got closer to my scheduled cancellation date, I made sure to inform all of my friends of my situation and make it clear that I am in no way ignoring them if I do not reply to every message they send to me. I appreciated every moment that a page would still load and would silently pray that the internet would not shut off while I was in the middle of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Flashdance.

The morning after my service had been canceled, I woke up feeling incomplete. My morning ritual of checking my E-mail, reading through Buzzfeed, and checking multiple social media platforms had become obsolete. Since my phone runs on 1GB of data, I refused to use it unless if I was around free wifi. This goal led me to keeping my phone either off or on airplane mode creating a distance between myself, my friends, and my online presence.

no_wifi

I do not know why I believed my job would create a perfect distraction to the dullness within my home since I was out of work at 2 and 5p. The first night without internet and cable was dreadful. I laid on the sofa staring at the black screen that accompanied the television set not exactly knowing how to spend the rest of my evening. That was when it clicked, I finally had the time to do the things that I would previously convince myself I had absolutely no time for. I would be able to get rid of items in my home that I was meaning to sell and donate, clean, and most importantly read and write. The next couple of days were consumed by the repetitive music that played on KIIS fm, ordering a new internet service (I had opted to not getting cable), reading and finishing the incredible book I Am Malala, installing a basic television box in the living room, raiding my closet and trying on everything to see which items I would donate/sell, picking miscellaneous items up off the floor, and re-watching 10 Things I Hate About You and Bridesmaids since they were the only two films that I had saved on my laptop. Unfortunately, I had begun to run out of things to do. After the second day, the days seemed rather long which led me to not spending much time at home. Instead I would spend more time out with friends, shopping, and most of all eating out. While at home, I opted to watch Family Guy whenever it was on, write, and listen to my saved music on ITunes.

no-cable

Being somewhat off the grid seemed to have its positive attributes since I no longer had an excuse to not do something. I had become more social with my mother and do the things that I would have probably never gotten around to because “I needed to watch another episode since it is getting good” or because “it could wait until tomorrow.” My “free time” was spent admiring the ITunes visualizer while I appreciated the music that used to be seen as something that “took up storage but did not want to delete” because I would usually use apps such as Spotify. The first couple of days seemed to have been filled with endless hours of possibilities where anything could be achieved. Without the distractions, the mental checklist of things to do seemed to be crossed off quicker than usual. The only bad outcome was that I was spending more money than usual in order to keep myself occupied. Although being without internet and cable had its benefits, I can honestly say that I was excited to see the box containing the internet modem sitting on my front porch waiting to be installed.

A Designer’s Dream: A Look Into Jonathan Jimenez’s Fashion Show + Interview

Jonathan Jimenez, 20, a few minuets before the show begins

Jonathan Jimenez, 20.

SANTA ANA — On Fri. May 29, at Santa Ana College, stood nine models, one make up artist, an assistant, and one fashion designer inside of a small dressing room located to the left of the stage. Within this dressing room, each person shared one goal and that was to make Jonathan Jimenez’s, 20, debut as a fashion designer flow as smoothly as possible.

After steaming dresses, figuring out what shoes worked best with which outfit, and bringing snacks and treats for everyone involved, designer Jonathan Jimenez stood in front of his crew and thanked them for their time and dedication to the show and his designs.

Inspired by the “Colors of The Wind” scene in Pocahontas and the song Jubel by Klingande, Jimenez “bridged in the warming pallet from sunsets all while playing with movement and fluidity” thus allowing the garments to tell the story to his audience without him saying a word.

#blessed Yesterday was a special moment for me, something I will never forget, winning that award wasn't the crowning achievement last night, what was though was walking out with my girls and my collection right behind me and hearing the crowd shouting and clapping for me, validating me as a designer, knowing that I have a chance in this career. Amidst the chaos of last night, the fights, the small space we had to get ready, and everything else I couldn't help but cry, and yes I did cry, but tears of joy because when you work so hard and are so proud of your work and to see everyone's reactions is just amazing, this isn't the end, but rather the beginning, I have many of these left in me and I can't wait to share them on larger stages. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this. It meant the world to me.

A post shared by Jonathan Jimenez (@johnny_jmenez) on

His nine looks flowed well with one another as they transitioned from an orange backless dress with a shimmery purple skirt underneath to floral patterns, fringe dresses, and an extravagant well fitted plum colored dress. During the show, the models dawned natural makeup (artist: Kim // Malkiajla)) with their hair parted down the center and with a low chic ponytail.

Jimenez worked furiously throughout the day to make his debut as successful as possible. His goal was for everyone to radiate positivity and bring their best smiles in order for him to remain calm.  During the on stage rehearsal, Jimenez could be seen moving from different seats and locations within the house so he can be sure that every member of the audience can get a good look of his work. Minutes before his models walked the runway, Jimenez would be snipping off loose strings of fabric and fixing any imperfections that he may have noticed while waiting.

Jimenez is fixing the stitching on one of the dresses.

Jimenez is fixing the stitching on one of the dresses.

Before the models walked out on stage, a two minute video played which included a short monologue of what his debut means to him, photographs detailing his inspirations, and thank you’s to several friends, family members, and sponsors.

While the video played for the audience, people backstage could see Jimenez circling behind the curtain and his eyes beginning to water a bit. The moment was definitely an emotional one for anyone who was able to witness a designer’s dreams becoming a reality.

Jimenez talking to his models after the first rehearsal and giving some pointers for the actual show.

Jimenez talking to his models after the first rehearsal and giving some pointers for the actual show.

The style Jimenez had decided to go with is a lot different than the ball gowns that were discussed in a previous interview we had a year ago but his designs still make an impact. The nine outfits he had could be seen at concert festivals or even formal parties. Each article of clothing is unique and stands out in its own way. The clothes have their own personalities as they bring a sense of confidence and energy to the person wearing them.

Despite suddenly becoming ill four days before the show and a skirt that was created a size too small, Jimenez was able to make his dream and fashion debut become a successful reality. As the show came to an end, it was announced that he had won the award for “Best Collection” and was accompanied by loud cheers from not only people within the audience but everyone backstage as well.

Congrats on your wonderful debut and your amazing designs, Jonathan! To the models working the show, you all did a wonderful job and looked marvelous throughout the show. WritersWaste looks forward to seeing what you all have in store for us next and wish you luck on future endeavors. Cheers!

I was fortunate enough to have an online interview with Jimenez. Read below:


WW: How was the actual set up and preparation of the show different to what you were imagining it to be a year or two ago?

JJ: To be honest I was prepared better than I thought I would have been, I was having dreams of the worse things possible, it took me months to prepare for this show and hundreds of dollars however the outcome and comments has been nothing but positive! But I think the difference from a year to two ago is actually seeing the work that goes behind it, I did 9 looks by myself with the help of my other and I underestimated that work, it was 4:30 (half an hour before dress rehearsal and 1.5 hrs until show time) and I was still sewing like a crazy person!

WW: You stated you were sick a couple of days ago, did that seem to hold you back or make this process more difficult? How so? If not — how did you power through it?

JJ: Oh yea being sick made it worse on me for this collection, it was harder to think and process everything, I was in a creative block and not being able to breathe and all that did not help out. I powered through it, I mean I had a week to go, I couldn’t get sick and if I did the suck it up Jonathan because you have a collection to show the world.

WW: In the long run, are you proud of the way the show turned out?

JJ: I am more than just proud of the show, I worked it, my girls worked it, the team worked it, we pulled an amazing collection, a collection that is meant for the streets of New York, I am blessed and grateful, proud and ecstatic for this collection, the list of words to describe my collection and how happy I am go on and on.

WW: What did you learn from doing your first show? What did you underestimate?

JJ: I learned a lot from my first show, who to trust who not to trust, who’s out there for you and who’s coming for you, I had some major issues during the show however they got resolved, for future shows all I know is that in planning it and making sure I know what’s going on at all times.

WW: I listened to Jubel by Klingande and the song seemed so upbeat which naturally showcased your personality — but what was it about this song that put it all together for you? That made you believe “this is it.”

JJ: What really drew me to the song was the way it started and the different instruments and how each played at different moments and how it was different yet it all came together, I pulled oranges purples pinks and florals tied in with fringe black Grey and white, it was color overload, each a different instrument that played at a different moment and shined however worked together flawlessly and when I heard this song I looked at my sketches and said I have my debut collection and I’m sticking to it.

WW: You previously told me that you “can listen to the song and picture an actual person wearing my outfit” and honestly, I perfectly understood what you were saying because I can clearly see the models walking down the catwalk in your clothes but in your mind; what did you visualize while the song played?

JJ: When I listened to this song I imagined some girl walking and just enjoying life, she was happy, energetic, filled with life and that’s what I wanted to evoke. I imagined a lot of bounce and movement for sure, colors came later but it was the play on movement that was really motivating me through the music.

WW: How did the models make your vision come to life? Why did they stand out to you?

JJ: The models were extraordinary, they made it work, they stood out because they knew how to follow direction and make it work, each look was different yet they pieced all together and those girls just rocked it, it looked like a collection and I have to thank those girls for that.

WW: During the show you explained that you almost started crying when your introduction video was playing. What was going through your mind at the time?

JJ: The moment that crossed my mind was “it’s finally here” the moment I’ve been dreaming of starts now, I will see a collection on stage and it was emotional for me, I’ve worked so hard to get where I was and the stress the anger it was fine and happiness filled and it was so much I almost cried from joy. I actually did eventually cry after a friend of mine living across the country sent me something heartwarming, at that moment I was blessed and grateful for everything I had accomplished.

WW:  At what part of the show did you come to the conclusion that this is all becoming a reality — that people are recognizing your talent and becoming familiar with you as a designer?

JJ: I realized this as soon as my video played at that moment I knew I was a designer and as soon as my first girl walked out I knew this is my show.

WW: How has your choice in style and wardrobe changed from the last time I spoke to you?

JJ: The last time we spoke I talked about print and patterns and using them and doing these gorgeous garments that trailed you, now I don’t know, my aesthetic is a lot simpler and easy but still looking flawless and chic. When I saw my collection all lined up I thought to myself this isn’t Jonathan, I only have one pattern, this is something new of me, it’s almost like a rebirth and I found my signature.

WW: Why did you decide on the brand name being Jonathan Jimenez instead of Jimenez.

JJ: I want my name to live forever, I won’t, so I want the the following generations to know what I accomplished and I want them to know my name and love it, haha.

WW: This is clearly a new start into your career — what frightened you the most about presenting your clothes to the world?

JJ: The thing that scared me the most was not knowing whether or not people will like what I create.

WW: How did you physically and mentally prepare for the show?

JJ: Mentally, I kept telling myself everything was going to be good and tried thinking positive the entire time. Physically, I just needed sleep, given there were days I didn’t sleep but hey I can sleep when I’m dead.

WW: Was winning the award for “Best Collection” significant to you and your clothing line? How so?

JJ: Winning the “best collection” award wasn’t that significant. It was great to win it but the significant part for me was walking out once again onto that stage and hearing people clap and shout for me, it was a sense of acceptance and it validates what I’m doing and the fact that people like it.

WW: What is your next project?

JJ: Next project is my online store followed by my spring collection.

Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid

Practicing lawyer, former New York senator, and first lady, Hillary Clinton, 67, announces she will be running for president in a video message which was posted on her website on Sunday.

The video which shows several individuals discussing their hopes and goals for the future is soon followed by Clinton meeting and talking to shop and business owners.

YouTube || Hillary Clinton

YouTube || Hillary Clinton

Clinton announces that she is “getting ready to do something too —  I’m running for president.”

YouTube || Hillary Clinton

YouTube || Hillary Clinton

Clinton continues by saying, “Americans fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion. So you can do more than just get by — you can get ahead and stay ahead because when families are strong, America is strong. So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote because it’s your time and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”

YouTube || Hillary Clinton

YouTube || Hillary Clinton

Clinton will be traveling to Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, and South Carolina.

NBC revealed that the Chairman of Clinton’s campaign John Podesta sent out an email to Democratic backers saying, “it’s official: Hillary’s running for president. She is hitting the road to Iowa to start talking directly with voters. There will be a formal kickoff event next month, and we look forward to seeing you there.”

Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton also showed her support via Twitter.

President Barack Obama also showed his support on Saturday by saying that Clinton would be “an excellent president” and would “have some strong messages to deliver.”

Blake Lively Reveals Who James’ Godmother Is

On VH1’s The Morning Buzz, Amber Tamblyn told Nick Lachey that she, Alexis Bledel, and America Ferrara are Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ baby daughter James’ Godmothers.

It seems like that is not the case.

Lively revealed to E!’s Marc Malkin that her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants co-stars are considered to more like “fairy godmothers.”

Brunch with my best bitches. #sisterhood @preserve_us @americaferrera

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“I never named them my godmothers,” Lively told Malkin. “They’re my dear friends. I would say my baby has a lot of fairy godmothers.”

If anything were to happen, Lively revealed that her sister Robyn Lively “would be the one to take care of my baby.”

Naughty Boy Releases Zayn Malik Solo Demo Titled “I Won’t Mind”

On Monday, music producer Naughty Boy, 30, took to twitter to retweet a video stating “Naughty Boy saved my life. Zaughty will rise.”

The retweet that suggested Naughty Boy had saved Zayn Malik, 22, from the boyband One Direction caused a stir amongst Directioners and led One Direction band member Louis Tomlinson, 23,  to fire back against the producer.

Naughty Boy, who believed Tomlinson was responding to a tweet from awhile back, responded by saying he was talking about X Factor contestant Louis Walsh and included a crying laughing emoji with the hashtag “#2014.”

In order to clear up his statement, Tomlinson responded to the tweet by saying that he was referring to the video Naughty Boy had retweeted and that the producer was simply trying to ” wind the fans up.”

Naughty Boy seemed determined to have the last laugh by releasing a demo of  Malik’s solo single titled “I Won’t Mind” with the caption, “let the music do the talking guys. thank us later. 🙂 x”

The Soundcloud description said, “There is nothing but love for what was left behind. thats why we don’t mind. 😉 #2016 #zaughty #zindabad.”

It has been less than a week since Malik left One Direction due to “stress” and he has been seen going to and leaving  music studios in London after his departure from the boyband.

“Either way, while the sound quality is very demo-y and rough, “I Won’t Mind” provides further evidence of Zayn’s considerable vocal talents—and reinforces claims that the singer was the strongest singer in One Direction.” (DailyBeast)

Although the “I Won’t Mind” does not sound complete, the demo has been receiving praise from Billboard, Daily Beast, and Vanity Fair.

One Direction announced they will continue their tour and a new album as a quartet.

According to Billboard, the “#2016 hashtag hints at the big plans Malik and Naughty Boy apparently have for next year.”