Friday, December 13, 2013

10 Reasons Why Flu Season Doesn’t Suck

It’s so cold right now, I’m wearing two pairs of pants. My cheeks are still rosy from my morning run. And I WebMD-ed the side effects of having goose bumps for prolonged periods of time. But honestly, there are a lot of reasons to love this season!

1. Pumpkin Everything
Is there anything that can't be pumpkin flavored? What is our society's obsession with pumpkin? Was it instilled in us at birth? Is the womb pumpkin flavored? Is it the smell that actually makes it taste so good? I'm not even sure I'd like pumpkin so much if it wasn't for all the marketing making it the staple flavor of fall. 

But like the rest of the world, I LOVE PUMPKIN ANYTHING! I just tried pumpkin pizza this week and WHOA!

2. Dinner and a Movie
Or dinner during a movie.  Whether in public or at home, it's hard not to be satisfied from this killer combo!


3. Hot Anything –Hot Baths, Hot Cocoa, Hot Food
It's so difficult to crave cold food in cold weather. I keep buying lettuce, but it keeps going bad. What is keeping me from eating too many warm comfort foods? Hot tea!! My new favorite warm beverage is passion orange peel. It's the color of Love, 'nough said!

4. Candles
Talk about the easiest way to make any situation romantic? LIGHT A CANDLE! And splurge for the pumpkin scents that are proven to stimulate romance!
AND YES I'm YELLING THIS! Get with the program BOYSSSSSSS and girls (but mostly boys). 'Tis the season of chivalry, hand over that jacket!

5. Nature Shows its True Colors

Instagram is exploding with beautiful earth tones, sunsets, and sunrises! Who doesn’t love “Roygbiv?” (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)


6. Holiday Season –Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Family & Friends time! Pour on the love! You know all our faults and you don't necessarily agree with the path we chose, but you love us still and it means so much.☺

It's no secret, we all get a little more fun and a lot more goofy around family. Let us love and be extra merry this season!

7. It’s Relationship Weather –More Cuddling, More Crushing

Besides Love, a crush is pretty much the best feeling in the universe!

Having someone to think about. To fill that empty seat. Thinking of them in their absence. Placing them next to you at future events. Telling yourself stories about them. Filling in the gaps of your knowledge of them. A special motivation to carry you through the day, week, year, lifetime. Someone to dream about. Dreams allow us to live out our perfect fantasies. Dream, baby, dream! 

But stop comparing your relationships to your first love. New relationships will never be like that first love feeling, because you will never allow someone to treat you like that again. Be at peace and be present this season. Live in the moment, live in your current relationships and they will flourish!

8. Yoga Pants Season
Easy to put on, easy to take off, easy to look at.
And I think Kanye says it best, “She got that a$s, I got to look, sorrrrrrray!!”


9. Kites In The Wind
The freedom of the sky, the floating possibilities that surround us like leaves in the wind. Kites will keep your chin up, and keep you looking in the right direction. If you do get the Flu this season it will definitely not be because you were flying your kite in the blistering cold, windy weather. 

It's not the cold weather that makes the trees loose their leaves. It's the lack of sun. Which could explain why some people lose their leaves or go crazy from being a hermit in the winter months. It's important to go outside, be an animal!

10. Reflection
These cold months are quieter times. The early darkness takes pressure off the day. I sleep harder, and dream better. And I reflect more. My mind almost furiously makes up for my lack of physical exertion. I reflect on myself, my relationships, my past, and my future. I find it more difficult to be present in the moment as my cold body draws attention inward.

Reflection is never bad. If you don’t like what you see, you have the magical gift of time and the freedom to choose to change. If you like what you see, you can stare back at it and smile or pat yourself on the back and eat a low-carb, gluten-free, vegan, organic, no GMO, guilt-free cookie!

And everyone loves surprises so as a bonus
11. Scarves are finally weather appropriate! 
Hipsters everywhere rejoice!

If you do happen to get the flu this season, remember all these reasons why this season is actually awesome. And enjoy a garlic, ginger, cayenne "Be Gone" shot from your local Whole Foods store to cure that nasty cold.  

All Photos used were taken by the author follow her on Instagram @Cinematic_Escape

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dating Ain't Easy

The Game has changed. We’re on the precipice of a new era of dating. Infinite distractions compete for our attention, less people are getting married and singles are struggling to master new tactics to stay relevant in the minds and lives of the opposite sex. The era of independence and individual success is among us. We’re living at a much faster pace than ever before. Convenience has spoiled us. Everyone is just a text, tweet, email away. When so many people are trying to advance an ego-based agenda –my company, my band, my script --this rise of independence may not be conducive for building meaningful, lasting relationships.
New Era
When did flowers, surprises, and romance go out of style? And what happened to throwing pebbles and declaring love from below a window sill. It all seemed much easier in black and white. These days if they don't respond within 5 minutes of a text they're clearly not interested and it's on to the next! Dating Ain't Easy or perhaps, is dating is too easy? When was the last time you put a lot of effort in trying to court someone? And why has our vocabulary become so explicit and spoken without caution or care? If it wouldn't make your grandma smile, don't say it to me! Too often we say too much and do too little. We have the latest and greatest technology and tools that oversimplifies the very complicated process of dating and getting to know someone.                                  
Dating is difficult because not only do you need to find someone you like, but their agenda has to be similar to yours. Success criteria: Lay out objectives. Are they just dating and exploring what's out there? Or are they open to a relationship? Do they some day want to marry and have children or do they have their mind set on traveling the world with their dog?

Making plans
If you actually call me, and you actually pick me up, and we actually go out ...then that sounds great! Convenience is huge and if the distance apart is more than 30 minutes ...forget about it. I barely see my friends if they don’t live within 10 miles of me and even that’s a stretch.

Love is easy in the way that once you know it, it's easy to give yourself to it. But it's hard in the way that we let our imperfections get in the way.

Nothing compares to having that tingly, fluttery, butterfly feeling for someone. Once felt, I try to purse the lips of my potential suitor and prevent them from saying anything that may ruin the fairy tale I've created where no deal breakers exist and everything they say and do is exactly what I've been searching for.
They are perfect! They like me. I like them. It's warm when we cuddle. And in their absence I think of them still.
But then we start talking.
They have cats. I'm allergic.
They are gluten-free. I love pizza.
Kids are their worst nightmare. I've already named my firstborn.
They're agnostic. I go to church every Sunday.
They've been intimate with over 50 people or "around there." HUH?! 
They lack enthusiasm. I appreciate the small things. And once again the curtain closes.
Shhhhh.... don't speak!
If we just skipped the getting-to-know-each-other part this would last a lot longer.
Serving up disappointments hot!

Put Your Pride Down
Accept the challenge of being childlike and cry instead of turning your emotions off. Don't be afraid to look weak and vulnerable, it’s important to be open to the idea of finding happiness or won’t. When I was younger, I saw possibilities instead of probabilities and magic existed. I was open to things and I want to feel that way again, we all do, but it takes practice. It takes growth in your mental state and it's difficult, challenging, and can end in embarrassment. It’s about putting your pride down and allowing curiosity to spark an adventure. Love is giving someone the power to destroy you, and trusting them not to. Life is about memories and if you get the chance to make some you gotta drop your pride, and see the worth in accepting an almost certain test of mental and emotional strength. Pride is mostly an internal debate that appears unclear/confusing on the outside to others who cannot see this internal struggle. And what others say about you matters a lot more than what you say about you so don’t trip over something others can’t even see.

Some people will always be looking for the next best thing. I look at any relationship as an opportunity for growth. Everyone you meet knows something you don’t. There’s something to gain from everyone we date, whether that’s musical taste, a great film, or a good habit. Exploring life with others allows your world to widen just a bit and perhaps help you see things from a fresh perspective.

Great Expectations
I just want a boyfriend who makes me feel the way the sun does. Is that too much to ask?! I think love means different things at different times in our lives, but we're all looking for that sense of security, admiration, love, and dependency that we had for our parents when we were little. You may fall in love with someone because they are very attractive or because they spoil you like no one else has. But I think it's more about loving the choices that person makes on a daily basis, loving how they spend their time and money, and admiring their unique qualities that define them. You want someone to stimulate, challenge, motivate, and bring out the best you. Perhaps, even make you a better you. Even if you eventually have to manufacture what you want, you can find it. It’s not easy but it’s equally hard for all of us. So go ask that somebody on a date!

Too often people think they need to sleep with each other in order to feel connected. Why can't we just concentrate on the friendship first? The relationship is uncomfortable because both parties are insecure and worried that the moment anything goes wrong their love interest will run away. But if we focus on developing the friendship first we won't feel like we're stepping on eggshells around them.

No, I don't want to get coffee sometime! Take notice of what they like before approaching them and put some effort in planning a date they can't say no to. Or ask them in any other means than a text, facebook message, email, call. We might be surprised at the benefits of adopting the ways of our ancestors or favorite old movie.  

With a little effort, I think it can all be cinematic. Challenging, wondrous, but, a gift, no less. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Nature of Pursuing a Dream

Sarah Bitely is the creator and writer of Pimpkillah comics. She recently published her third issue of Pimpkillah, a new comic book series that focuses on a violent tale of revenge. I ran into Sarah at the LA Zine Fest, and she agreed to sit down with me and answer some of my burning questions about the journey of pursuing her childhood dream.

Kristen: First, let's get everyone up to speed. What is Pimpkillah about?
Sarah: Pimpkillah is about Sloane Stone’s journey to find her sister. The first two issues are just the beginning. I feel like this second issue is the boiling point for Pimpkillah. We’re ready to kick it into gear and get into the the thick of it. The Descent depicts Sloane Stone’s transition from Sudan back to Los Angeles. Uncovering a shocking discovery about her estranged sister, Naomi, propels her deep into the dark world she never wanted a part of. A path she worked hard to avoid. A path of darkness and despair. A path her sister wasn’t as determined to escape.

Kristen: Why this story of revenge? What draws you to revenge tales?
Sarah: Revenge stories have always intrigued me and it’s one of my favorite genres to explore. I’m fascinated by the idea of a somewhat “normal” and functioning human completely snapping over an injustice or wrong done to them. A kindhearted person turned stone cold over a traumatic event. The loss of innocence. And of course I love the idea of vigilante justice and questioning mild prosecution of those who have done horrible crimes.

Kristen: What were some of your childhood influences Were you into comics?
Sarah: As a young girl, I loved Archie comics. I was obsessed with Betty and Veronica, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Batman was another comic I loved to read. When I was about four years old, I remember putting together this little booklet made of colored construction paper, and I made a Batman themed story with my crayons. I’ve always had a passion for telling stories, especially through images, both in comics and film.

Kristen: How have your inspirations changed as an adult?
Sarah: Today, I am much more into darker themes and noir comics, which I never knew existed when I was in high school. Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips’ Criminal series was my first noir comic love, and definitely set the pace for Pimpkillah.

Karl Edward Wagner’s “Tell Me, Dark” is another amazing noir, horror comic that is drawn and written in such a hauntingly beautiful way. Right now I love Hernandez Brothers’ Love and Rockets, I read all their collected works too, like Maggie the Mechanic, Penny Century and Luba.  A lot of the Hernandez artwork is heavily influenced by Archie comics so it seems I’m drawn to similar classic artwork. I love the way Hernandez draws his ladies, of all shapes and sizes. I’m very much inspired by the shape of female figures and I hope to bring some of that voluptuousness to Pimpkillah. But I think more than anything I’m inspired by films. Cinema translates to comics so naturally, and when I am working on something I draw most of my inspirations from movies. I like to think that when I create a comic it’s like I’m storyboarding a movie. Which is definitely in the works for Pimpkillah in the upcoming future.­ Here’s a link to a short film I made called “Baby Blue.”

Kristen: What are some of your favorite films?
Sarah: My all time favorite movie is Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. All 70’s Scorsese cinema is the best in my opinion. I love that unfiltered, raw edge you don’t really get in his films anymore. John Cassavetes’ Woman Under the Influence also has that quality that is hard to come by these days. Catherine Breillat’s The Last Mistress is one of my favorite movies from the last decade. Such a passionate story and Asia Argento is outstanding in it. Sloane Stone, Pimpkillah’s heroine is loosely based off her. Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love and Fallen Angels are two of the most beautiful films I’ve seen. Specific films that have influenced me genre-wise for Pimpkillah include Coffy, Foxy Brown, Oldboy, Switchblade Sisters, Kill Bill – okay, I could fill up pages with my favorite movies, so I suppose I’ll stop here.

Kristen: Have your parents always been supportive of your career in film and comics? Sarah: My parents have always been my number one supporters who would do anything to help me achieve my goals.  I think no matter what I would chose to do they would be behind me a hundred percent. I love them so much and wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Kristen: What are some of the struggles you've encountered in pursuit of your dreams?
Sarah: It usually starts with money. When you’re fresh out of school, thousands of dollars in the hole, and hardly making enough money at your desk job it can be quite trying to get something published and off the ground. My first two comics were mini-comics, and no longer than ten pages so it was relatively cheap to print. My next issue is more than double the length and full size. But you have to expect people not to buy your comic, and you probably won’t make your money back. But the keys are trading your comics with people, and spreading the word about your work. I have yet to make an Indie GoGo account or Kickstarter, but I think I will definitely start one for the third issue.

The next biggest challenge is finding someone as passionate as you are about your project. Finding artists is always difficult and sometimes working with others can be painful as well. I prefer to work with close friends of mine who understand the way I think and envision. Since I’ve been developing, writing, and re-writing Pimpkillah for the past four years it can save a lot of time when you meet someone who truly understands where you are coming from and where you want to go with the project. The last hardest thing is finding the time to work on your projects. Balancing time is imperative. I was working full-time and then I worked on my comics or writing after work, on my lunch break, and on weekends. Currently, I’m on hiatus. I’m taking time to gather all my thoughts for Pimpkillah 3, not titled just yet. Now more than ever we need people’s support to continue printing copies and issues. There are comics and prints available at Also available in Stores: Meltdown Comics 7522 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA. Pop Hop Books and Print 5002 York Blvd. Eagle Rock, CA 

Kristen: What have you learned from completing your first three comics? What are you going to do differently in the next issue?
Sarah: Issue 3 is going to be so different! I’m thinking of coloring it myself, and working with different artists. I digitally inked Pimpkillah: The Descent and have been learning more Photoshop as I go along.  The story is really going to get going in this one because I feel I know what could have been done in the previous issues. I want issue 3 to engage the reader more. I want Sloane’s inner dialogue to have much more of a presence and really get our readers into her subconscious. When I reprint issue 2, I will be adding more of her thoughts and feelings into it. Rosendo Santos, artist for Descent, will also be working on the ending to tie together a few loose ends. So when we run out the first prints, the second print will be a bit different. But you’d have to check out both prints to really observe the added details.

Kristen: As you know, one of the primary themes of my blog, “Cinematic Escape,” is escapism. How do you personally and also your comics relate to escapism?

Sarah: I feel as though my entire life has been centered around escapism and creating my own realm. From playing cowboys and Indians as a child to directing films, I’ve always found other outlets to live my life through and cope with my surroundings. Now, my career path is focused on creating alternate realities through writing, drawing, and making films. I’m entranced by crafting another universe that is so foreign to me and yet still making it relatable to anyone. When I write a story, rather it be a comic or screenplay, I love diving into the depths of my character’s subconscious and discovering what drives them. While directing actors, empathizing with another and connecting with them on an emotional level is what initially sparked my inspiration to make films.

I can put myself into anyone’s shoes and escape through doing so. My hope for Pimpkillah is for people to want to put themselves in Sloane’s shoes and go along on her journey.

Kristen: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring comic book writers just getting started? Sarah: Network, go to festivals, and spread the word about your comic! Pimpkillah Press:

Pimpkillah Productions is located in Los Angeles, CA. Call for Artists: Have your work featured in the next Pimpkillah comic! Internships also available. For more information on how you can get involved email

Pimpkillah the series is available for purchase at:
Available in Stores: Meltdown Comics 7522 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA.
Pop Hop Books and Print 5002 York Blvd Eagle Rock, CA
For exclusive updates and upcoming release dates visit the Pimpkillah facebook page:
Follow Pimpkillah on twitter:
Zine Fest photo credit: Brodie Foster Hubbard