Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Heart Huckabee Girl

My latest video project "Huckabee Girl" is finally online, exclusively on SuperDeluxe - although it is already starting to get attention some other places!

You've seen Obama girl, but we found a girl who's hot for the man of the cloth. She's got a special interest in his policy package, if you know what we're saying. Mike Huckabee had a big upset in the Iowa caucus and now he's rumored to be on McCain's VP shortlist. So if you don't think there's enough crazy out there to get him elected to office, let Huckabee girl tell you why you should be crazy about him too. This is an original slow jam!

Many thanks to all the people who helped make this video possible - I'll post credits here since they're hard to find on the video site!

Executive Producers: Tyler Malin and Eric Szmanda
Lyrics by: Josh Covitt & Jessie Gaskell
Directed by: Josh Covitt
Edited by: Josh Covitt, Jessie Gaskell, Oren Brimer
Music by: Greg Blum
Vocals: Rachel Avery
Starring: Vai Au-Harehoe as Huckabee Girl
Chad Brisky as Dino
Josh Covitt as Raptastic Rapper
Editing and Effects: Studio 8 and Oren Brimer
Logos & Graphics: Chad Brisky

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Prodigal Daughter Returns - A UCLA Premiere

My new webisode series, Dorm Life, premieres today! But before I do the big push for you to watch it, I want to share a great experience I had last week promoting it. The other 6 creators of the series are all fellow UCLA alumni, where we met directly and indirectly through a ridiculously fun sketch comedy experience, the "Company" of UCLA Spring Sing. We owe UCLA deeply not just for personal development, but for our relationships with each other and the skills needed to produce a mammoth project such as this one. Last week we had the opportunity to do a sneak peek screening of Dorm Life in the Ackerman Student Union, where I went during my time as a student to watch a number of wide-release features and Q&As with figures like Adam Sandler and the Syrian Ambassador. And now I have gotten to screen my very own project in this venue with a Q&A with the audience afterward!

The screening was sublime; we screened the first 7 episodes of this 20-episode series to an audience of a few hundred. I was overwhelmed by the positive reaction we got from the audience - this huge hall was filled with laughter, so much at some points that many of the jokes got lost under the residual laughing. I've never had an experience like that where such a large room of people were responding to my creative efforts. It was wonderful. I'm hooked. Me want more.

The Q&A afterward went really well too, although it felt a slightly absurd posturing as an authority on success in Hollywood when our success so far has included a) finishing a project that we will put on the internet and b) screening said project at UCLA with a Q&A afterward. I mean really, I consider this to be one of the biggest ventures I've ever been a part of and it is an incredible success even to have accomplished a 20-episode comedy series. I'm so sincerely proud of this project, of all the incredible talents that participated and made it a substantial and memorable source of entertainment, and I can't wait to share it with the world. And I am delighted to finally see how it is received among the very discerning internet palattes out there!

Dorm Life!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Notes from Sundance, and Why Documentaries Kick So Much Ass

I've been a little negligent lately, but it'll soon be worth it for you when my latest video project gets released and when I tell you about movies from Sundance that you will see and be forever changed by. I was there for the 3-day weekend and it was so great - all I did was watch movies and eat carbs for 72 straight hours and then complain about how exhausting it was. I didn't participate in too many of the "scene-y" elements of the festival, besides driving up and down Park City's main drag in the Escalade we accidentally rented and rolling down the windows to ask people where "the Dance" was. "I heard there's a dance going on tonight? A sun dance?" I am SO HILARIOUS. In another stroke of comedic genius, I wore sunglasses at night.

Overall I have to say that the documentaries overwhelmed the dramas - is life better art than art? Think about THAT my thinking friends. The first of my favorite films of the weekend was "Up the Yangtze" - a doc about the flooding of the Yangtze River in China resulting from the world's largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam. 2 million Chinese people were displaced and tourist cruises cashed in on the tragedy by offering "Farewell Cruises" to Americans and others with money to see the Yangtze before the flooding took place. Most of the film takes place on board this cruise, following the family of a dishwasher on board who took the job after finishing middle school to send money home to her parents. Over the course of the flooding her family's homemade shanty is completely submerged and they have to move without the government compensation they were promised. The visual elements of the movie are stunning and the music is flawless. But the film is truly funny, capitalizing on the culture gaps between Chinese and Americans. A favorite line came from the cruise leader telling the employees, "Don't compare the U.S. to Canada, and don't bring up the issue of Northern Ireland." I believe this film has already been picked up for worldwide distribution so I hope you'll all have the opportunity to see it. The director has also started an education fund for the girl who is the movie's main subject:

The second doc I want to mention, my very favorite film of the ones I saw, is called "Kicking It" - and follows 8 soccer teams participating in the 2006 Homeless World Cup held in South Africa. This was an iconic sports hero movie and devastating commentary all in one incredible package. This was the only movie that moved me to tears and did so about 15 separate times, always unexpectedly and always sincerely. I was so impressed by how gracefully the movie communicated the need for attention to the issue of homelessness while inspiring with its themes of resiliency and hope. ESPN has picked up this movie - I'm not sure if it's for theatrical release or televised - but I can't recommend it enough. It really will change your life. Check out more info, or donate to the Homeless World Cup project at:

Honorable mention for the weekend goes out to "Ballast," the only drama in my bunch, from director Lance Hammer. It's an impressive and fluid narrative following a family, composed entirely of local non-actors, dealing with loss in the Mississippi Delta during a bleak winter.

Interesting that there was this pervasive theme of gritty reality, using non-actors to tell even the fictional stories. I was entirely impressed with 2 actors playing the parts of parents in one movie, "Momma's Man," then I learned that the 2 are the director's actual parents! That's incredible. They were superb, though! It'd be interesting if we do see a movement among filmmakers away from impeccably rehearsed performances and toward a grittier, more organic storytelling. Although it's not happening yet judging from the popularity of "Juno." Sorry, I can't help getting political. Ha.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bethany Grundle on Hillary's Campaign and the Meaning of Womanhood

There's a lot of buzz this week about Hillary Clinton's alleged crying episode in a New Hampshire coffeeshop. While speaking with a group of women pre-caucus, Hillary's voice warbled and now everyone is speculating about whether this constituted a "cry." Bethany wanted to make a few comments about the challenges facing women in male-dominated professions, drawing on her own experience as a journalist. Anyway, I'll let her tell you the rest.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Rainy Day Resolutions for the Insane

I don't usually use SeriouslyJazzed as a forum for personal reflection, mostly because it seems unethical for me to be getting paid so much to talk about my personal life. But I just had a pretty uplifting experience involving two of the resolutions (or "goals" if you are cliche-phobic) I made for 2008. The first of these is "Be happier." That might sound too simple or sweeping to some of you but I really think I can make this work. If I just take the time to be more present and grateful for the moments and experiences in my life, and really focus on how they're making me happy, won't I just be happier? We'll find out.

The second resolution came about with a friend as I was in the midst of resolving to "eat more organic," "ride my bike more," "volunteer more," "make a website," "write a screenplay," etc, and she suggested "Feel Less Guilty." At first I felt bad about how guilty I'm always feeling, haha, but I resolved to feel less so.

ANYWAY. Today it is raining and I wanted to go for a run. I thought, "I'll run in the rain - how fun and eccentric of me!" So I put on running tights and a water-resistant jacket and went out to run. Then I remembered two things: 1) "water-resistant" is not the same thing as "water-proof." 2) "Eccentric" is a euphemism for "Mentally deranged."

Within minutes I was completely soaked. I don't know why in my head this wasn't obvious - I guess I was picturing the rain gently caressing my eyelids while I remained comfortable underneath my clothes. But imagine jumping into a pool wearing a full jacket and pants and shoes, then getting out and running. The water didn't drain or get "wicked" away, it seeped into my clothes and shoes and stayed there. I thought I would have to turn around immediately and even then I might not make it home alive. But then I started warming up and some wonderful things happened.

First, because my ipod was on under my jacket I couldn't reach it to switch the songs, which I usually do compulsively, listening to about 5 seconds of each song. So I had to sit through the entirety of every song, including the Jingle Cats version of "White Christmas" (which also features dogs). And without the ability to control my playlist, I found myself relaxing and focusing less on the music and more on my surroundings. And because I was soaking wet, I didn't think at all about the discomfort of physical exertion. I completely surrendered control of these things and just enjoyed the raindrops on my cheeks and the sensation of cold after stepping in a puddle and then my foot warming up again. And I really had fun.

I did cut the run short, but I didn't feel bad about it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's Bedtime Fun with Bethany Grundle: Warren Buffett's Million-Dollar Challenge

This week: Bethany analyzes Warren Buffett's Million-dollar Challenge. What will it mean for struggling billionaires?

The Grundle Report is your only pre-adolescent independent news source for all the stories the mainstream media is overlooking. Even people with bedtimes should have access to this kind of hard news. Gritty! Sexy! Bethany!