From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Arts & Entertainment articles.
Not Since Jesus Has Someone Been So Perfect
Interview with Keira Knightley

Mark J. Lehman
A & E Editor

Originally Published: Friday, October 14, 2005

Some say that it takes two years to know if you really love someone. I knew within five minutes.

I am in love with Keira Knightley. If she was to ask me to drop out of school and run away with her to a remote island in the South Pacific tomorrow, I likely would.

Moments after walking into the press room for her interview for "Domino," an upcoming film very loosely based on the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey, she shares an anecdote. Her story is about swordfighting, swashbuckling and performing various dangerous feats during the filming of "Pirates of the Caribbean III" the day before, only to hurt herself that morning while getting out of her car. She is candid and charming, and even slightly loopy from not having slept at all and running on adrenaline and coffee.

At first glance, her persona does not quite fit the character of Domino Harvey, a young girl who is jaded by life and decides to become a bounty hunter for the fun of it. Knightley admits that she realized this as well.

After playing Elizabeth Bennet in the upcoming "Pride and Prejudice," she said, "I was having a really hard time getting my head into the character, and I haven't really had the problem of getting my head into a character before. And one day I was passing a hairdresser's, and I just decided I would cut Elizabeth Bennet out of my hair, and after that I could look at a page and go 'Right, I can see it.'"

In keeping with her strong female character trend a la Guinevere in "King Arthur" and Elizabeth Swann in "Pirates of the Caribbean," Knightley steps into the bad girl role, at first with trepidation.

"Talk about a wake up call--my first couple days of shooting, I did the lap dance scene with the gangsters, and that really helped put me into character."

If that was not enough to entice Knightley to play the role, director Tony Scott offered further incentive--he let her pick her own body double.

"Tony calls me up and says, 'Come into the office, I think you need to see something.' I walk into his office, and there were three naked women standing in his office, and he goes, 'Which one do you want?' So I picked my bum.

"They were three lovely bottoms, really," she continues. "I tried to pick one that could be as close to mine as possible if mine were the perfect bottom."

No buts (or butts) about it, Keira Knightley keeps things in perspective while still bringing every ounce of herself to her character. Still, she encountered her share of problems, particularly with the sheer complexity of the plot of "Domino," which involves a large host of intriguing characters in situations ranging from intense showdowns to satire on reality TV programming.

Not only that, the script, written by Richard Kelly (writer-director of the cult classic "Donnie Darko"), was in a state of constant change.

"On the plane from London before rehearsal," reminisces Knightley, "I was reading and breaking down all the details of the script to get my head around it, and then when I got to L.A., I was handed a brand new script that was completely different. So, there was a kind of feel that you didn't know what was going to happen next, and I think that's the right kind of vibe for the film. I felt a little bit like I was flying by the seat of my pants."

From the way the film turned out, it sounds like there are worse ways to fly.

Though Knightley puts on a performance that is severe yet exciting, and even displaying a fiendish side, none of the other actors should be overlooked. Mickey Rourke plays Ed, Domino's mentor and father figure--another character in his niche of grim and gruff roles. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez has an amazing screen presence as Choco, the third in the bounty hunter trio and the man who pines quietly in a stoic, rugged, attractively-foreign way. Some of the best dialogue stems from Choco's use of Spanish, and as it turns out, much of that was improvised anyway. Christopher Walken brings his usual offbeat humor to the project, and Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering of "Beverly Hills, 90210" fame provide some wonderful comic moments playing caricatures of themselves.

As fun as the characters and the story can be, don't look too hard for character development, because it's just not there. The film spends so much time bouncing around from all of its various characters that it hardly has time to build motivation and meaning for some of the main players. Luckily, Scott is a master of the mindless but fun action film, having directed some classics like "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder" as well as more modern action flicks like "Spy Game" and "Enemy of the State." "Domino" is no different in that Scott's frantic and borderline schizophrenic energy keeps audiences either entertained, epileptically seized or both. And if one can't be entertained by seizures, then there is more to worry about in life than poor character development.

With all its flaws, "Domino" will not fail to divert, and if nothing else, see it for Keira Knightley so she can make some money and eat something. Just kidding, she's healthy and beautiful and will forever have my heart.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/entertainment/1.399916]

Blog This

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my articles from the now-defunct humor section, Tangent.
Blog This

James Malins
Tangent Editor
   and
Mark J. Lehman
A&E Editor

Originally Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Internet has a long history of providing mind-numbing worthlessness with no redeeming value. Primary examples include Hampsterdance, Hot or Not and the Dancing Baby. Blogs are shaping up to prove that little is being done to change such trends. What should be an excellent forum for thought and writing typically amounts to little more than a Harry Carey-style play-by-play account of what happened during the day. It is incorrect to believe that people are interested in the flavor of Starbucks you bought, or even that you went to Starbucks. The only time this might be interesting is if, say, you happened upon Scott Baio at that particular Starbucks, and he was not only drinking the same beverage as yourself, but was also covered head to toe in red war paint.

So don't let your blog fall into the steady drone of boring and overly-detailed personal narration. Don't become one more person to hate in this world-that list is already filled to capacity with people like Hitler and Tony Danza, post-"Who's the Boss?". In other words, don't be "That Guy," especially if you are female.

The following dos and don'ts will help you develop a blog that people might prefer over repeatedly gouging themselves in the eyes with unsharpened No. 2 pencils. (It happens, I've seen it.)

Dos:
  • Update. This is a big one. Though reading about summer shenanigans in February can provide a welcome trip down memory lane, if the purpose of the blog is to provide up-to-date information about yourself, it might make sense to, you know, actually do that.
  • List a song you are currently jamming to. One of the best ways to find new music is to see what your friends are listening to. Provide this information and help spread quality songs-and by quality, we're talking Hanson circa 1996 ("Mmmbop") as opposed to Chumbawumba during the "Tubthumber" fiasco. This is not to be confused with embedding songs on your page that play automatically when you visit. Those are annoying, and sometimes make one feel that life is not worth living any longer. 
  • Funny pictures. 'Nuff said. 
  • This may be obvious, but it clearly needs to be said: write interesting stuff. If you don't do this, you should not be blogging. Keep a diary instead so nobody has to know about any aspect of your sad existence.
Don'ts:
  • Tell every excruciating detail about your day. Unless you are famous-which you probably are not if you are reading this-nobody cares. Do not do this. 
  • Typing LiKe ThIs Is ReAlLy AnNoYiNg. Do not do this. 
  • Surveys. In sixth grade, these were cool. No wait, they were never cool. Do not do this. 
  • Checklists of things you have done. This is much like the first "Don't," but in bulleted form. Still not okay. Do not do this.
Blog Stats
  • A new blog is created every second. 
  • There are currently 14.2 million weblogs (not even including Myspace pages). 
  • Only 13% of blogs are updated weekly.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/2.4416/1.399967]

(And yes, the irony that I'm posting this on a blog is apparent to me. Hopefully I'm following my own advice. If I'm not, someone come fire me. Please.)

Xingolati: The Groove Cruise of the Pacific

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Arts & Entertainment articles.
Xingolati: The Groove Cruise of the Pacific

Mark J. Lehman
A & E Editor

Originally Published: Friday, October 7, 2005

Imagine yourself on a Carnival cruise, shipping out from the port of Long Beach for a weekend of hot tubs, spa treatments, and all the surf and turf you can eat. On the way to the on-deck pool, you strike up a conversation about museums in Spain with a somewhat oddly-dressed fellow, and only after the on-board concert three hours later do you realize said fellow is the lead singer of The Flaming Lips.

You've just finished imagining what Mark McLarry wants to make a reality with the concert cruise he is producing, Xingolati-Groove Cruise of the Pacific.

The key phrase here, according to McLarry, is the "blending of worlds." McLarry explained, "When this idea was brought to us, we were trying to find a unique venue that could support what we were trying to do, which is what we like to call 'the blending of world'-live music with theatrics. We were looking at everything from Pac Bell's parking lot where they set up Cirque de Soleil, and we were thinking 'Well, let's set up a circus tent and do a show like that.'"

As soon as someone thought of having the festival on a cruise ship, "that's when the light bulb went off and we said, 'There's the ultimate venue,'" McLarry recalled.

The concert boasts 25 bands and performance groups with an eclectic and diverse range, from The Flaming Lips to G-Love, and several different DJs.

"We probably approached 30 to 35 bands, and we confirmed 25," clarified McLarry. "One of the biggest tasks and one of the things that made this kind of difficult was first finding the right bands and then making it fit into their schedules.

"If there was one hurdle, it was definitely the booking fees," McLarry continued. "Since this is a first year event, it was important that we sell [the performers] on this event and let them know that this is going to be one of the most unique events out there."

There are also various events planned during the cruise, including a wine tasting and a Zaireeka party, in which the lead singer from The Flaming Lips plays four CDs together to make one synchronous sound.

One of the more bizarre/interesting ensembles on the cruise, Mutaytor, call themselves a combination of "the worlds of Blue Man Group and Cirque de Soleil." Matty Nash, the frontman and founder of Mutaytor, expounded on how he formed his group and what he hopes to gain from McLarry's concert cruise, Xingolati.

"We've been characterized as a futuristic vaudeville. We perform at a lot of corporate and civic events and it's a real wild stage show-very fast-moving and very dance-oriented, and we're very excited to work with the Xingolati cruise," he said.

When trying to enlighten people on what exactly goes into Mutaytor performances, Nash elucidated, "It's a modular show with a cast between 10 and 25 players that incorporates musical and visual elements such as spider dancing, aerial stunts, tribal dancing, martial arts and interactive video projections. It works well in smaller, more intimate venues as well as stadium size, and we create custom content for each performance."

Nash believes strongly in Xingolati and feels that Mutaytor's brand of performance will fit well with the eclectic and groundbreaking aspect of such a unique show. "The goal of Xingolati is to create an experience of music that has never been attempted, creating a new demographic for the cruise industry," Nash articulated. "The perception is that cruise ships and festivals are for the 40-plus age range-senior citizens doing shuffleboard and cocktail jazz. We're trying to dispel that myth by creating a really vibrant music festival on the water that caters to music fans and to a younger audience.

"Another goal for Mutaytor is collaboration and improvisation," Nash continued. "We do a lot of that anyway and the potential to collaborate with a lot of the other artists on board during concerts is going to be big. I'm really excited about the potential of rocking with some of the other groups aboard."

If there's one point that everyone seemed to agree on, it's that Xingolati is something brand new and never experienced before, yet something that will blow everyone away to such a degree that it will become a staple for years to come.

"This is going to be setting a precedent for a new kind of concert experience," said Nash excitedly. He pressed on enthusiastically, "This is really the first concert of its kind, so we're absolutely a beta tester to see if this will work. But if it's a success, I hope we can help bring this form of entertainment into the future."

McLarry concurred, "What makes this event really unique is the intimacy of it. A lot of these bands can only be seen at huge festivals with thousands of people, whereas in this case the biggest crowd of people you'll see is 2,000 people. Also, you can interact with the bands, since they're all out on that ship with you.

"We're taking all these different pieces, these different components," McLarry said, "so that people can experience a little bit of it all. To us, this will create the ultimate atmosphere, the blending of worlds."

For tickets and information, visit www.xingolati.com.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/entertainment/1.399981]

Appliance of the Month: The Tangent Salutes Toaster

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my articles from the now-defunct humor section, Tangent.
Appliance of the Month
The Tangent Salutes Toaster

Mark J. Lehman
A&E Editor

Originally Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Toaster, you're unlike any appliance I've ever known. When I wake up in the afternoon, you know just the way I like my toast. Sure, we've had our difficulties, like that time I accidentally turned you up to "10" and you ruined my breakfast-miscommunication on my part, I suppose. In the end, though, I think our working toward a common goal has helped us grow together in ways I never could have imagined before I knew you.

There are so many great memories with you, it's hard to think of just one. Why, I remember the last time we made waffles together like it was yesterday, when we both know it was the day before that. I remember we didn't get to spend as much time together as usual, since I got that phone call and had to leave those Eggos in your capable hands, but when I came back five minutes later and saw you had toasted them to that perfect shade of golden brown-soft and chewy enough to practically melt in my mouth, yet with a slight crunch to give them personality-I knew right at that moment that I had found someone I could trust forever. It was so cute how you had the crumbs on you and I wiped them off with my napkin. Ahhh, la amore.

Heck, you can even make Pop Tarts taste good, and I didn't think that was possible! Some have said that the toaster oven is better, combining the best qualities of the oven and the toaster, but we both know that is flat-out incorrect. The toaster oven could never compare to you, Toaster, because we all know the toaster oven is just a poser, not being able to "oven-ate" as well as a normal oven, yet at the same time not possessing the ability to toast at a quality expected of such a proud and honorable appliance as you, Toaster.

Even its name is unoriginal! It poses as two different appliances bundled into one package when it is intrinsically incapable of performing either duty to the extent one might wish.

So, Toaster, I salute you this week for not compromising your integrity and I laud you for your sticktoitiveness. The world would be a lonely place without you-a lonely place with soggy, microwaved waffles and stale Pop Tarts. And that's not a world in which I want to live.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/2.4416/1.399807]
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