Sunday, January 2, 2011

Danny's BEST OF 2010: A Personal Reflection on the Year That Was

- Well, it's 2011, and I have to wonder ... what happened to 2010? In one sense, the year flew by, although in another sense ... when I think back on the year that was, think of all the new people I met, things I did, stuff I was exposed to - think of all the challenges and setbacks and accomplishments - it's also pretty crazy to look at where I am at the start of 2011 versus where I was a year ago.

More and more in the last year or two, I've refocused this blog on movies, TV, and pop culture. To be honest, it's just easier to write about, at least for me. Increasingly, in this age of self-promotion, all we read about is people talking about their own lives as if they are the very epicenter of the universe. Nobody needs to read a daily account of my life, and it's not something that I need to put out there for others. At the same time, I started this blog as a way to self-reflect a little, to document my post-college life as I made big changes - as I swung for the fences, moved to LA, and followed my dreams. So, even if it's it's only for the purposes of getting myself geared up for the year to come, tradition states that I take some time to put the previous year into perspective and get some of my thoughts down here on the blog.

So let's see, what happened in 2010?

It's hard to know where to begin. I do remember that I got back to LA at the beginning of the year from an extended east coast trip, just in time to start 2010 off in Hollywood. One thing I'm proud of is that my brother and I, determined to produce a great screenplay, spent a lot of time and energy in crafting, what I think, is a pretty hilarious script. Has having this new, very funny, completed script resulted in anything huge as of yet? No, not really. But there have been little moments that have made me hopeful. You never know. And, if nothing else, it was a good way to self-educate and most definitely a learning process. And writing this now, it makes me that much more determined to a.) work on more creative projects in 2011, and b.) put more effort into getting those projects out there and into the hands of people who might be able to make good things happen with them.

All in all, even if I didn't sell a screenplay in 2010, I still had fun working in Hollywood and taking advantage of some of the cool opportunities that doing so afforded me. I got to attend the star-studded Cable Show and meet a bunch of celebrities, including the great Jeff Goldblum. I went to E3, saw the sights, attended Sony's Playstation press conference, and went to Microsoft's now-infamous Kinect unveiling extravaganza - aka the closest I will likely ever get to knowing what it was like to be a member of The Heaven's Gate cult. As always, my annual trip to Comic-Con was an absolute blast. I hung out with the cast of Chuck, met some of my favorite writers and artists, saw a lot of friends while in beautiful San Diego, and had a great time overall. I saw the cast of Curb Your Enthusiasm speak at the Paley Fest, attended the stage version of Pee Wee's Playhouse at the Nokia theater, saw Conan O'Brien's live tour (ironically, at Universal Studios), went to a panel about Jews in TV, and went to a number of movie screenings on the Universal lot - some good, some not so good, but all gloriously free. I saw some great live music in 2010 as well - Aerosmith, The Scorpions, and Rob Zombie / Alice Cooper. Not to mention a great trip to the OC Fair that concluded with a "Weird Al" Yankovic concert that blew my mind. I spent the fourth of July seeing the sights at Universal Sudios Hollywood (riding the new King Kong 3D attraction). I saw the Clippers play. I played basketball. And tennis (some epic match-ups to boot). Went bowling. Played Lazertag, and sort of sucked at it, but had an awesome time and played against Francis from Malcolm in the Middle. I attended Summerslam at the Staples Center, yet another in the embarassingly long list of live WWE events I've hit up over the years. And hey, in 2010, I even had Jury Duty - my first time ever being selected for a jury - and it was, well, memorable to say the least.

As always, Fall was an exciting time. Unlike 2009's not-so-fun birthday during which I could barely walk, I had a really fun 28th birthday bash in 2010. Yes, turning 28 was easily the scariest number I've had to face as a twenty-something. But, hey, just a number, right? In any case, a lot of people came out to have dinner, see The Social Network (awesome), and party it up at 80's night - and that was truly awesome. Later on, Halloween, as usual, was huge. I participated in yet another great trip to Knott's Scary Farm, and did my first-ever trip to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. I once again saw The Nightmare Before Christmas in "4D" at Disney's El Capitan theater, and once again held my annual Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, which thanks to the awesomeness (well, awesome badness) of movies like "Troll 2", was another memorable evening. And, despite feeling pretty sick, I got to make an appearance at the the party-formerly-known-as-Page-O-Ween in Pasadena, decked out as Scott Pilgrim.

And yeah, getting sick at the end of October and feeling terrible until almost the end of November was not fun, definitely one of the year's lowlights, and definitely up there as perhaps the most sick I've ever felt. It was a really rough couple of weeks. But everyone was really nice and supportive, and the feeling of relief when I finally started to feel better was amazing. For a week or two, just going out, having fun, seeing friends, seeing movies, and eating solid food was enough to make me happy.

Luckily, I was able to head home to CT for Thanksgiving and rest up and shake off the last remnants of my illness. It was a relatively short visit, but I saw a lot of family, ate a lot of food, and even had a crazy night out in West Hartford with Bradd K. and friends. Luckily, back in June I had travelled back east, and that trip included a visit to NYC, where I saw old friends like Daniella G. and Liz L, and even hit up Mars 2112 (best restaurant in which you are served by Martians). That trip also included my big Ten Year High School Reunion, in which I made my triumphant return to Kingswood-Oxford to show off my newly-acquired status as Hollywood bigshot, playboy, mover, and shaker. Okay, well not exactly, but it was still nice to see everyone, and, even if for one night only, have a great time with dozens of my old high school classmates. Of course, some friends also came to me in 2010. I saw Mimi C. in from New Jersey via Japan (!), Matt S. in from New York, and Kirsten S. on route from Australia (twice!)!

I also met some great new people in general in 2010. Even though I was in the same job and the same area in Burbank, I met new people through friends, through work, through places like Valley Ruach, and/or completely randomly, which is always fun. In 2010, I had some fun adventures with people in LA who by now are (scarily) my old buddies, and reconnected with some others who I hadn't seen in a long while. Some of my favorite memories of the year are simply lunches, dinners, movies, TV marathons, parties, and other random small-but-memorable adventures with some of these fine folks.

What else? I got a new car in 2010, that was pretty big. After a family visit early in the year that gave me some good car-shopping experience, but didn't end up in a purchase, I spent a few weeks on my own braving the hell that is car dealerships. But, I finally pulled the trigger on a Hyundai Sonata, and I've been happy with it since. It was sad to say goodbye to my red Alero, that I'd had with me since my first week in LA, but it was clearly on its last legs, and it was time to move on. Still, car shopping is something that, hopefully, I don't have to do again for a long while.

It was a busy year. And, all things considered, a pretty good year. But the clock is a-ticking and I want 2011 to be even bigger and better. I mean, I can't do everything. It's easy to log on to Facebook and think that everyone else is doing cooler stuff than you are. Travelling more, getting engaged, getting married, going to better parties ... you know how it works. I don't need to travel the world in 2011, and I don't need to party like a rockstar. I don't need to get married just yet and I don't need to have the Best Year Ever and discover the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. But I do want to shake things up, make things interesting, raise the stakes. Make waves in Hollywood, advance my career, do great things. Meet more people, be more adventurous, mess with the routine. I know, I say something like this every year. To some extent, I'm sure we all do. But I guess my point is ... it's too easy to be distracted by what everyone else is doing, when really, who cares? You can't live life as a constant contest of one-upsmanship. That leads to stress and forces you into an unproductive, time-wasting state of self-delusion. Life is more than the accumulated cool-points of sweet-sounding Facebook status updates, so why is that now what we so often reduce it to? Looking back, it wasn't the best year ever, but it was a good year. And that's enough for now, but hey, 2011 isn't just going to magically be even better. I'm going to have to work for it. I'm going to have to fight and scrap and be persistent. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic though - because I do think that, yes, the best is yet to come.

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