universal studios

I’m still alive.  That was important to assert. In fact, you could say that the reason I haven’t blogged in 13 days (goodness sakes) is because I’ve been living life to the fullest, i.e. grading and presenting and dressing up for Halloween – the important stuff.

A big part of living life to the fullest is a good theme park day. Yes, for me, theme park and carpe diem are synonymous.  Theme parks are full of laughter and magic and (on good days) short lines. This weekend I went to Universal Studios, the self-proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of LA,” with Thad and Meg and Rachel, and I had a blast.  I want everyday to be a blast.  It can be, right?  I’m going to try.  I really am.

Thad and Meg were Wayne and Garth, which was just about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.  I was a puppy/human hybrid (last minute much?).  Rach was the goddess of song, Adele.

universal 926526_44488987

Have a blast of a day!

when the movie is better

It almost NEVER happens, but sometimes the movie is better than the book.  No, I’m not talking about Harry Potter, you crazy people.  Seriously, people who say the Harry Potter movies were better than the books have not read the series.

Anyway, here’s an article. Nay! An exposé in Lydia Mag where I uncover the five exceptions to the film adaptation norm.  It’s shocking! It’s hard-hitting! It’s journalism! It’s… not that big of a deal.


(My deepest apologies to Dad for my turkey soup comment. It remains one of my favorite dad dishes.)

throwback thursday: hometown glory

This week’s special edition of Throwback Thursday takes less of trip through time and more of a glimpse through space.

I am from Mooresville, Indiana, not to be confused with Moore’s Hill, Indiana.  Mooresville is small, central town probably closer to Parks and Rec‘s Pawnee than we Mooresvillians will admit.  This is supported by the fact that my dad, much like Ron Swanson, lives on meat, eggs, and coffee and hates skim milk and big government.  Also much like Pawnee, Mooresville is charmingly ridiculous (and also ridiculously charming).  It’s the “heart of the heart of the country.”  I stole this phrase from William H. Gass, and although he uses it for Ohio, I often pass it off as my own description of Mooresville.  By often, I mean the the other time I used it.

Let’s look at five Mooresville facts because I want to. (NOTE: While some of these came from my mind, others came from wikipedia, and I think this adds to the ridiculousness).

1. Mooresville’s best restaurants (and what to order): Biff’s (bismark), Gray’s (pie and chicken and noodles), Hong Kong (crab rangoon), Squealer’s (pulled pork) and Starbucks (coffee)


2. My middle school’s name is Paul Hadley, after the Mooresvillian designer of the State Flag.  My elementary school’s name is Neil Armstrong, after the man on the moon who was at no point a Mooresville resident.

3. There is a Ponderosa in Mooresville that I’m pretty sure only stays open because of its claim to fame, a visit from Ronald Reagan in 1985.

4. Mooresville’s famous residents:

John Dillinger – The town plays a really important role in the Johnny Depp movie, Public Enemies, like when Dillinger says, “I was raised on a farm in Mooresville, Indiana,” and then it’s never mentioned again.

Frank Inn – Inn was the owner and trainer of Orangey (the cat in Breakfast At Tiffany’s), Arnold (the pig from Green Acres), and Higgins (most commonly known as, “Benji”). My mom grew up across the street from his family’s farm, and once, Inn brought Benji to church where he actually bowed his head, folded his paws, and prayed.


Sammy Lee Davis – “The Real Forrest Gump.” The majority of Gump’s time in Vietnam came from Davis, and I’m just going to say it, the majority of Gump’s… mind also came from Davis.  Davis came to school to talk and show off his Medal of Honor once.  The guy told us his heroic story, but honestly, I only remember being irate that none of his children used their automatic acceptance to a military academy. Not sure what this says about me.

5.  Movies made in Mooresville: (a) about fifteen seconds of Hoosiers, (b) …

That’s it for facts.  In other news…



Now, let’s look at some Ron Swanson quotes my dad has paraphrased without ever having seen the show:

“Fishing relaxes me. It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.”

“I don’t want to paint with a broad brush here, but every single contractor in the world is a miserable, incompetent thief.”

“Turkey can never beat cow.”

“Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”

“History began July 4th, 1776. Anything before that was a mistake.”

for the love of movies

Have I mentioned that I love movies?  Oh, I did.  Oh, you can tell.  Oh, I can’t seem to have a single thought without relating it to a movie you “just have to see.”  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think my love of movies is going anywhere fast.

I’ve always wanted to be a part of making movies, part of the “dream factory.”  In Indiana, this dream felt like a faraway calling, a quest that I would never be quite ready for.  In California (more specifically, in Malibu), the dream makers are everywhere; although they just say they’re in the “industry.”  I like dream makers more; it’s very Inception; you just have to see Inception.  (Told you. It’s a tick.)  The industry folk are quite literally my neighbors (yes, even in the “prefabricated homes” park), and there are moments that are so very surreal, it’s surprising I haven’t fainted. For instance, I drove by Dustin Hoffman walking on a beach street. I waved at him, and he waved at me; I cried for the next ten minutes and wrote several drafts of a fan letter explaining what that wave meant to me (don’t worry, I didn’t send it).


Another one of these surreal gems happened this weekend.  Rob, Jill, Rachel, and I (and I smell a fantastic friend group here), went to see Gravity at the GRAUMANN’S CHINESE THEATER. As in, where Star Wars first premiered.  As in, had to step over Julie Andrews’s handprints to get inside.  As in, I could have danced with a Spiderman impersonator on the way out; okay, that one isn’t super cool.


Inside, there was a display case of George Clooney’s astronaut costume for the movie we were about to see!  If movies are dreams, this place is where sleeping happens, man.  (I feel like I could do better with that analogy.) I found my way to ladies’ restroom, and I thought, “I’m home.”  It’s like the calling to be a part of the dream world is still there, but now, it’s not quite as far away.  It’s like I’m Pocahontas and everything is “just around the riverbend.”


Although, that’s not quite what I mean because I already have so many of my dreams.  Dustin Hoffman is just a person, everybody (mostly talking to myself: “Stop crying.”).  The Chinese Theater is just a building.  And movies, as much as I love them, are just movies.  It’s how these people, places, and artworks invade ourselves that really matters; that’s what gets me excited about movies.  It’s who I am and how I treat people that defines the level of success in my life.  I love movies, but I love goodness more.  I think the two of them can be friends, like Lethal Weapon (Mel is movies, Danny is goodness).  You just have to see that movie.

Afterthought: here are some other movies you just have to see, especially, if you need a good cry: http://www.lydiamag.com/2013/10/let-it-out-cryfest-feature-list.html#more

sleep laughing

I’m a bit of an oddball.  This is telling, and as a writer, I need to show not tell.

Well, I will show you (in the form of a story) that I am an oddball.

I am a sleep laugher.  I know what you’re thinking: “Hilary, please. You laugh all the time.  You’re a bad stand-up comic’s dream.  This does not impress us.”  Well, fine.  I’m not trying to impress you.  Maybe I am a little bit, but not any more than a little, okay?

The first time I sleep laughed, I was living in Hawaii for a summer.  I feel fabulous writing that sentence.  My summer on Oahu was… magic.  It was all things carefree: full of ocean rejuvenation, giggling nieces, and sister heart-to-hearts.  It was eating fresh fruit and fish daily because we were in Hawaii and eating Cheesecake Factory several times a week because we were in America.  Ahhhh

It was during this period of paradise living that I was sleeping in the living room of a little apartment, as was my brother.  (I said we we were in Hawaii, not that we were rich in Hawaii.)  In my sleep, I dreamed, as I do almost every night.  I wish I could remember this particular dream more vividly, but all I can tell you is that I was talking to Tom Felton, whose hair had fallen out from getting bleached in Harry Potter.  And I told him that his wig looked “so bad.”  In the dream world, this was hysterical.

I laughed at my own “joke” (something I’m often guilty of asleep or awake), but then I woke myself up, still laughing in real life.  Then I was laughing because I woke myself up laughing.  Then my brother was severely scared of my hysteria. (This might be a good time to mention that a month before this incident, I woke up this brother in the middle of the night while balling my eyes out to make sure he was still alive after I had a nightmare where he died; he’s not a fan of my dreams.)  Then we both laughed at the ridiculousness of the dream once I was able to “explain” it as best I could. I’m pretty sure he just got: “Haha Malfoy haha wig.”

Here’s the thing; this has not been a one-time occurrence.  Hawaii was the first, but it has happened several times since, always spurred on by some brilliant “joke” I’ve made in the dream like, “Tom Felton, that wig is so bad.”  Wahahahaha.  Man, I got him.

Here's a really fantastic picture of me sleeping (there are many).  Disclaimer: this was pre-braces.
Here’s a really fantastic picture of me sleeping (there are many). Disclaimer: this was pre-braces.

Let’s just say that dream-world Hilary is out of her mind.  I used to keep a dream journal next to my bed, fill it out, and then read through it in the morning, without remembering what I had written down.  I stopped that.  Sometimes, I had good stuff, sure, like “pizza with caramel crust” or “married Will Power” or “Jon Bon Jovi is a charter school radio host.” However, there’s only so many times you can read “beards for breastfeeding” and “tall Chinese jumping man with many jacuzzi fish” and “become an old folks trainer” before you say this is deeper into my mind than I’m willing to go.

For now, I just know that I’m an oddball and a sleep laugher, which is sort of like a sleep walker, but louder and more obnoxious and less dangerous.

indiana in 90 seconds

Back home again, in Indiana, blah blah blah blah blah…

Wabash! How I long for my Indiana hoooooooome.

I was in Hoosierland for less than 29 hours this weekend, and the trip was nothing short of an adventure.

Oh, you don’t think I can climb this tree?
Yammo going to fall.
I’m not sure who I take after. Mysteries…



My friend, Crusty Bee, in between the airplane’s window panes. Miss ya, CB.

free fallin

September is in full swing.  Soon enough, Christmas will come.  Yes, I am one of those crazies. But before we get to the sacred birthing of Jesus (“birthing” is a word, gross), let’s get excited about fall, shall we?  Now, living in Malibu makes Autumn difficult.  I fully understand this sounds a bit like complaining, which I have no right to do when I live here:


The weather is perfect in Malibu.  It’s in the sweltering seventies in the summer, and the brisk sixties in the winter.  Rough, I know.  Trust me, come November when you’re trying to savor hot chocolate and fashionable scarves, it really is rough.  I have to go into some sort of mind warp where I fool myself into thinking it’s a brisk 40 degrees outside, so I can where my flannel shirt; I’m not sweating because I’m overdressed, I’m sweating because the crackling fire is too welcoming (note: no fireplace near).  However, even with the weather dilemma, there are some amazing things that I love about Fall even in Malibu.  Here are 7 of them:

1. Pumpkin (for food).  Pumpkin lattes.  Pumpkin smoothies.  Pumpkin mousse. Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin bread. My mom’s pumpkin pie.  Why don’t they make pumpkin to-go, like pumpkin go-gurts?  (OhmygoshI’mgonnaberich)

2.  The Colors.  Ooh la la, the colors.  Malibu may not get the leaves like Indiana, but stores, decorations, and clothes get a gorgeous overhaul that makes me wonder why they don’t keep the palette all year.

Indiana color

3. Thanksgiving.  Eat, I must.  Half the fun (or more) in Thanksgiving is the prep beforehand.  Turkey Day is a major bonding experience in our household.  While one person stresses about the food getting done before company arrives, another chants, “goosfraba,” reminding us that it doesn’t matter that no one has showered 30 minutes before dinner starts.  It’s chaos.  It’s lovely.  It’s full of laughter. It’s time to watch the parade.

4. Halloween.  I’m not a particular fan of the holiday, but I am completely on board with the movies that go with it.  I feel like people are going to make a horror jump here.  No, sir.  I’m talking Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, Harry Potter (more of an anytime-ever-whenever-always film), Young Frankenstein, and Shaun of the Dead.  I feel like I’m stretching this a little far.  No?  Okay, then.

5. Pumpkin (for decoration).  I happen to be a pumpkin artist.  However, because my tales of pumpkin carving glory came before the days of (my involvement in) social media, tracking down evidence for said prowess is difficult.  Just trust me.  Maybe I’ll prove it to you in October.

6. Apples.  An apple a day keeps hilary happy.  Fiji.  Gala. Jonathan. Granny.  Gimme, gimme, gimme (a man after midnight).  As good as SoCal’s produce is, I’d kill (maybe just love) for an Indiana apple.  Don’t even get me started on the orchard’s apple slush.  Oh, you got me started.  Our hometown orchard has a sweet, sacred nectar basically consisting of apple cider in slushy form.  Yummmm

7. Coziness. Fall is just cozy, right?  Like the over-sized sweater my sister has worn for the past twelve years.  Sure, it looks a little worn, but it’s loved and there’s something entirely too comforting about it that can’t easily be reconstructed.  Besides, don’t you love New York in the Fall?

throwback thursday, movie addition

In film school, there’s a lot of introduction action.  New professors, new students, new classes, new, new, new.  And with every new, I give the same little, inarticulate tale of who I am and how I came to be there.  Now what’s truly terrible about these interludes, is the dreaded follow-up question: “what’s your favorite movie?”  That’s not to say that movies are dreaded (I am in film school after all), but do you know how hard it is to pick a favorite one?  It’s like picking a favorite child – bad example, since my mom would pick me easily.  🙂

This question is stressful.  “I should pick something everyone likes, right?  Or at least make it a high art film, if one exists. Anything from the AFI list…  Just don’t go rom-com.”  My thoughts run rapidly, and I’m stuck.

“What’s the film that made you want to be a screenwriter?” The professor usually thinks this question will help me answer, but really, it just sets me back further.  And I find myself wondering, honestly, what was the cinematic experience that made me want to do this? The movie that spoke to my heart and said, “this is where you belong.”  Wouldn’t that be crazy if movies could speak to your heart?  (writing in moleskin now)

Was it Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken or Pete’s Dragon or Free Willy?  Atlantic City!  Mickey Rooney!  Sa la na, a yuum, iasis!  I certainly loved them.  I certainly remember them.  But really, Wild Hearts just made me want a horse, Pete’s led me to develop my own “imaginary friend” (who was a horse thanks to WHCBB), and Free Willy shaped my future career dreams as a marine biologist for the next blah-blah-still-halfway-a-dream years.


Or couldn’t/shouldn’t the film that made me want to do film be super epic?  Like seeing Citizen Kane for the first time? Rosebud! Maybe not Citizen Kane. You can’t hurt me later, but I find it to be the most boring movie I’ve ever sat through more than once.

But It’s A Wonderful Life?  Clarence!  Clarence!  ZuZu’s petals!  Surely that film is both epic enough and one that had a huge impact, right? I mean, it makes me speak in a James Stewart accent for at least three days out of each year.  That’s something, right?

Or could it be the time I saw Click? Yes, the Adam Sandler movie.  After watching it I thought, “I just have to be a part of making people laugh like that.” Or Dumb and Dumber or Tommy Boy?  Movies that shaped most of the dialogue I share with my brothers.  Oh, Richard.  Harry, your hands are freezing.

Or watching Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail with my mom?  And the experience of witnessing a woman who can’t remember the name of a movie she’s seen the day before (love you!), suddenly recall every Ephron-infused line.  It was… magic!  Shriveled little legs!  I wanted it to be you!

Or maybe going through the Indiana Jones and Star Wars lineup with my dad?  Watching epic worlds unfold right before my eyes.

Or the coolest moment of my life, when my chic older sister took me (the annoying little one) to see Princess Diaries at a sneak preview?

Or watching Prancer with my whole family as the Christmas tree lights tinkle in the reflection of the screen.

Or maybe it’s all of them. Movies hold memories.  I remember seeing Austin Powers: Goldmember in theaters not because of the movie (trust me), but because I met a very good friend that night and we talked through the whole thing.  Calm down, it was a theater full of middle schoolers.

Is it the fact that Free Willy, a movie, made me believe that I wanted to work with orcas without ever being around one?  Isn’t that power magical?  Isn’t that, combined with every movie that holds a place in my heart, the reason I wanted to be a part of making them?

Now, the question is, how do I make that into a one-word answer?  Maybe I’ll just go with Citizen Kane.

why mason jars?

Started watching Dr. Who to get stuff like this. Was too big of a nerd to stop.

I have a question.  It’s one of those things that’s been bugging me for a long time, but I don’t bring it up often because I don’t want to seem uncool. 

But I’ve had enough. 

There’s something I don’t get, and I feel like I’m on the outside of a Dr. Who joke, asking, “Are you saying jiberish?”


So here it is: why mason jars? 

Now, I know much like arrow tattoos and kombucha, mason jars are a part of the current rage, but I don’t really get it.  Is there something I’m missing?

Why is it better to take a to-go salad in a glass (BREAKABLE) jar?  And to then have to invest in an extra long fork to reach the goodins (aka the redeemable bits of a salad) stuck in the bottom of said jar?

Putting a cupcake in a mason jar is the surest way to turn what should be a magical cupcake eating experience into extreme frustration with icing covered fingers.   I thought mason jars were supposed to be full of weird things your mom pickled that never went away from the pantry.  Seriously, who’s idea was it to make something as enjoyable as eating a sugar-filled dessert in the most inconvenient way possible.  Is this a part of a new diet that I’m not aware of?  You’ll get so sick of the effort to eat that you’ll stop eating!

ImageAnd then there’s the crafts.  These I’m not so adverse to because combining all of your leftover candles into one candle, while sure to cause a headache, does, at least, sound frugal.  But the crafts like filling a mason jar with olive oil and sticking a picture inside?  Why? Think about all of those olives Vincenzo Cortino’s dad had to squeeze for that thing (Jane Austen’s Mafia! anybody?)


I mean, is it that they last forever (until dropped)?  Do they feel old?  Like an antique that you can buy new without the weird I’ve-been-in-an-antique-store-good-luck-getting-me-to-smell-differently smell to them? Is it like the idea of putting flowers in ice cubes? It looks pretty and sophisticated until the ice cubes melt, and you attempt not to swallow wilted leaves.  Do you feel cooler drinking out of mason jars?  Okay, I will say yes to that one.

Also, I will admit that while looking at pictures of mason jar crafts, a few of them look kind of fun and cute.

But I still hold to my beginning question: what’s with the mason jar?  What am I not getting?  Why are people packing their lunches and “framing” their pictures in the least convenient way possible? What tv show do I have to watch to be in on this one? Because I am way out.