Star Power

I was able to hit two parties recently because one involved a student film festival, and the kiddies don’t usually party into the late hours. The event, a fundraiser at Isabel’s Cantina in P.B., was for students involved with the film festival. The cause made it easy to fork over the $25 for dinner.

The film fest will be the group’s 11th annual. As I talked to students, I kept glancing over their shoulders to see the films playing on the wall.

I ran into a woman I met at a party years ago. She crashed parties while going to UCLA, once using John Wayne to help get her into a mansion. She said, “I didn’t tell you about the time I worked at John Wayne’s place on his boats. It was a rental house, for $500 a week. I had been kicked out of Whittier College for climbing out a second-floor window, and when we got arrested for doing something stupid, his attorney bailed us out of jail.”

Groups of ten people were invited into the kitchen to grab a plate. I passed on the fish tacos but enjoyed the rest of the food.

I sat down next to an older couple, and we talked movies. When the guy started one story, he said to his wife, “You can go to the bathroom now.” He smiled as he told me, “She’s heard this so many times. I thought I’d save her from hearing it again.”

He told me about a ten-year high school reunion for Madison High School in Clairemont in 1975. His friend talked about her younger brother going to Hollywood to pursue acting. He had remembered him being a lot younger and running out onto the football field a few times with the cheerleaders. She mentioned a film he was doing in Africa. He told me, “It wasn’t until my third time watching Star Wars and seeing the name Mark Hamill in the credits that I realized it was him. I had seen the pictures from the filming. They had the creatures and robots; I didn’t even realize the film would be so huge.”

I talked to an older Latino man about a few of his productions that ran on KPBS. He had won an Emmy. Because one of his kids was involved in making films, I asked how much easier it is now to do a film than it was in the ’60s or ’70s. He said, “Oh, the advances are amazing. You can dissolve one scene into the next. You can do stuff on your laptop. The tools are in everyone’s hands now. I remember student films I did, and we had to press on the letters for the credits. And those were a big deal to type out.”

Everyone was buzzing about an SDSU student named Ben, who made a film called Die Cast. Wally, who runs the UltraStar Cinema in Hazard Center, told me Ben’s movie was amazing and he would be huge someday.

When I sat down to talk to Ben, he had funny stories about filming it in the warehouse he works at in Vista, using tattooed workers as cast members. He told me two Chargers players saw the film and want to be involved with it. I asked him how he got started, and he said, “In high school, I had a cheap camera. I would do stupid videos and put them online. This was before YouTube.”

Ben’s film has been accepted for a Washington D.C. film festival, but he needs to raise money to go there and show it. He’s never been out of the state.

I quickly cruised from P.B. to Carlsbad for Paul’s 28th birthday party with an ’80s theme. I didn’t dress in ’80s garb. Luckily for me, many in the crowd also wore regular clothes. The people who did go ’80s seemed to be doing the hip-hop thing: a few looked like LL Cool J, with the sweat suit and floppy hat. A few had the Run-DMC look — Adidas sweat suit and gold chains. One person opted for the preppy ’80s look, complete with a sweater tied around his chest.

A DJ spun lots of ’80s hip-hop I recognized. I heard NWA as I pulled up. The neighbors may not have cared for the noise, although one nearby house was having a baby shower and probably didn’t mind. The huge nursery behind them wouldn’t be calling the cops.

There was a cute little girl — she might’ve been eight — wearing a Michael Jackson shirt. She also wore sunglasses and a white glove. A teen girl was dressed up like a prom queen.

I asked where Paul was. His girlfriend, dressed like someone from Flashdance, said he was on a beer run. When Paul showed up, he told me, “Hey…I figured I’d take responsibility for having enough beer here.” I gave him a hard time for his shirt not having the older Adidas logo.

Paul’s dad invited me inside for Mexican food. I was full from earlier but couldn’t resist the nachos and tostadas. Anytime someone went inside for food, a small white dog barked at their ankles. Even though the authentic Mexican food was great, most people seemed to opt for the chicken nuggets and wings.

There were a couple of lowriders driven to the party, but a more interesting vehicle I saw was a van for radio station 94.1 FM. I talked with the woman who drove it there. She does production for Clear Channel and told me a lot of interesting radio-station stories. She said A.J., a DJ at 94.1, is as nice in person as he sounds on the air. We both talked a little smack about DJs Jeff and Jer. She told me a story about a radio-station intern who had a website similar to Perez Hilton’s, but instead of knocking celebrities, the site takes shots at some of their coworkers.

I told Paul’s dad that he must love that he can attend his son’s party; some kids wouldn’t want their folks there. He said, “I have three kids. They’re all eight years apart. I have a good relationship with them, and we like hanging out now. They’ll invite me over for a beer.”

The strobe lights on the driveway and darkness of the backyard made it difficult to take notes. When I overheard someone talking about Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland having a seizure on a plane, I said, “I might have a seizure trying to write with this flashing light.” Paul’s dad then offered me a flashlight.

As the DJ turned things up a notch, a few people broke out the cardboard boxes to breakdance on. It was fun to watch. I was there for an hour before leaving.

I never heard an ’80s rock song, but then, it wouldn’t have fit the vibe and look of the crowd.

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Star Wars is in my Top 5 Greatest Movies List. I remember seeing it in its original film release when I was 8 years old AND in Los Angeles. It was nuts. Of course I had a crush on Mark Hamill. Years ago, a close girlfriend and I had a discussion, rather she kind of condescendingly told me that I probably liked Mark Hamill (back then when we were little) and she was the only cool one, out her friends, who liked Harrison Ford. It was funny to me because she was right to assume that.. and now we both love Harrison Ford.

Yeah...interesting that YOU move over to liking Harrison Ford, now that he's a big box office star, and Hamill is signing autographs at sci-fi conventions.

And I wonder...when people talk about their favorite Beatle, they never pick Ringo. With Star Wars characters, is there one that is always left off the list? Obviously Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams are on the top. And because of his amount of body hair, Chewbacca never makes the list....

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