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Happy Thanksgiving: What I’m Thankful For

Sunset in Porter Square
[Photo taken by me]

[I started writing this post early on the day on Thanksgiving. I never stopped writing it. By half past midnight, Thanksgiving was already over I knew I had to hit publish or else I’d be here forever. If you believe you have been an important part of my life and find yourself left off of this list, please assume that it’s because I’m a bad, negligent friend, and not that you haven’t meant anything to me or something dumb like that. Thank you.]

There’s been a whole lot more sadness than joy in my life during the past year or so, but I suppose that means that I just have to appreciate and hold closer to the remaining joys that I have. In no particular order, here is a list of things that I’m thankful for today:

For Peter Sciretta and – As we’re becoming more aware of every single day, making a living by writing about movies is a pretty freaking difficult task. I can’t say that I make a living this way quite yet, but has become an ever-growing part of my life, and has afforded me opportunities I could never have fathomed a few years ago. In the past few months alone, I’ve gotten to hear Rian Johnson read pornographic fan fiction about us on the air, chatted with the guy who wrote X2, and confronted director Richard Kelly with one interpretation of Donnie Darko. I also got to talk about 2012 with one of the people responsible for this. There’s even the possibility that in a few weeks, I’ll get to guest host for a great show on Chicago Public Radio. None of this would have ever been possible without

I am extremely grateful to Peter Sciretta for his partnership and for his patience with me. Most of you probably don’t/can’t know it, but Peter not only owns/runs one hell of a movie website, he’s also a pretty terrific guy too. Daily, I wonder how out of all the people on the internet I could have ended up working for, I get the opportunity to collaborate with someone that also happens to be a great human being. Truly, I have won the lottery of life, or at least, of online writing.

Gratitude also goes out to all the people on /Film’s staff; together, I hope we’ve created content that people have found interesting and valuable, and that we’ve had fun doing so. But I believe our best days are ahead…

The /Filmcast guys, together for the first time ever

For my /Filmcast Co-hosts, Devindra and Adam – No, we don’t always agree. Occasionally, we disagree violently. But given that our personalities are so strong, and given our wildly disparate backgrounds, I’m shocked that we get along WAY more often than we don’t. These guys have stood with me since the beginning and I’m so grateful for having gone through this crazy adventure with both them.

To all of the /Filmcast guests and listeners – The reason why I use audioboo, the reason why I podcast, is because on some level, I feel like when we are privy to the unadulterated conversations of others, it makes us feel a little bit less alone in the world. For everyone that has joined us on the show and everyone that has given us a chance and tuned in, you have helped us to create something that keeps thousand of people company on a weekly basis, whether they’re spending eight hours in a projectionist booth, or driving a truck all night, or falling asleep in an army barracks in Iraq (All of which are actual professions that listeners have written in about, btw). Thanks for tuning in and keeping us on the air.

For Stephen Tobolowsky – I still remember watching Groundhog Day in theaters when I was just a wee little one. Even back then, I remember wanting to punch Ned Ryerson in the throat, so effectively did Stephen Tobolowsky portray that immortal character. What a hilarious guy he was, and still is!

If you had told me back then that I’d one day be hosting a podcast with Stephen Tobolowsky, I’d probably say, “What the hell is a podcast?” And if podcasts had existed back then, I’d probably say “Get the hell outta here!”

The fortuitous circumstances of our partnership have been mind-boggling, but what’s important is that they’ve actually transpired. You see, I love a well-told story. Stories can be riveting, funny, profound, all at once. And to hear a well-told story is to inhabit a shared space with both the teller and the listener, and to partake in the creation in a special world that is particular to the oral tradition.

That’s why I loved a small movie called Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, in which Stephen tells a group of his friends some stories about his interesting life. Deep in my heart, I knew that Stephen had a ton of more interesting, profound stories locked away in the recesses of his brain. But without some venue or some project to get him to write about them or perform them, how would they ever be shared with the world? So I pitched him the idea to do a storytelling podcast with me. To my shock and awe and eternal delight, he agreed to do it.

In the past few weeks, Stephen and I have been rapidly recording and putting out episodes of a new podcast, The Tobolowsky Files. Recently, we put out episode 4 of the podcast, The Alchemist. More than most things I’ve ever done online, I am so incredibly proud of this episode and the response that it’s produced in our listenership (if you haven’t heard it yet and you’re reading this, please do me a favor and listen to it now).

People have already written in (here’s an example of a letter) saying that the show has changed their lives, that it’s caused them to rethink their relationships with their family. Most importantly, people have told us that the show has caused them to recognize the importance of stories, and of writing down and telling stories.

The /Filmcast has been, and always will be, a blast and a joy. But with The Tobolowsky Files, I feel as though I’m helping to create something of lasting value…something that has and will continue to enrich people’s lives in ways we can’t even yet predict. I know that without Stephen, without me, and without our partnership together, it never would have happened in a million years. And I will forever be grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to create this thing, and that people have seen fit to give it a listen.

This new podcast has taken up more of my time and my life than I possibly could have predicted. But if we can’t make major sacrifices for things that we truly believe to be worthwhile, then what exactly is left to make sacrifices for?

A big thanks to Stephen for all of his time, and for sharing himself with the world in the way he has. I can’t wait to see what stories he comes up with next.

For Boston movie people – From all the amazing folks who run Independent Film Festival Boston, to the lovely and talented publicists from Allied and Terry Hines, to the film critics who give me their time and attention when I harass them about their opinion at press screenings: You guys have helped me to feel more at home, in a city that I’ve lived in for more than 20 years. If I ever leave Boston, the moviegoing experience will be the one thing that I will miss the most.

For all of you online peeps who I’ve chatted with and gotten to know – You are too countless to name (although several prominent ones spring to mind) but I’ve deeply valued all of our interactions. I look forward to many of them to come.

For my bosses at my day job – They probably aren’t reading this, but in the event they are, their support and willingness to employ me has meant more to me than they could possibly imagine. I can only hope that at the end of our run together, they’ll be pleased with the works that we’ve been able to create.


Now, time for a few personal ones….

Mike Chen

For my brother, Michael – If there’s one thing the past year has shown me, it’s that my brother and I are more similar than probably either of us would like. But in commonality, there is strength and unity. It’s been a lot easier struggling through life knowing that there’s someone out there who shares in my experiences, who knows what I’m feeling, and who helps to get me through the most difficult times.

For my friend, Chi – Nobody understands me like you do. Your advice is always both useful and profound. And even though an ocean separates us, there is more that brings us together than keeps us apart.

Testing Oldcamera app: Kallitype, my lovely friend Sara

For my friend, Sara – Your words of support and encouragement have meant more to me than you will know. Years later, I will look back on this time and know that you were one of the people that helped to get me through it.

For my friend, Wayne – One of the few people who has stood by me through thick and thin, who I know that I’ll always be able to count on, no matter how much of a dickhole I become.

Testing CameraBag app - Colorcross: my beautiful friend Jennifer

Testing Oldcamera app: my brooding friend Matt
Matt and Jen

For Matt and Jennifer, two of my new friends at my new school – These guys are so ridiculously cool that they have actually earned a separate blog post by me, to be written at a later point in time. Look forward to it.


For Terri Schwartz – Terri doesn’t know this but her simple acts of friendship have gone a long way towards keeping me sane. I don’t think she knows or understands how much her friendship has meant to me, but I’m okay with that. Above, one of many audioboos I’ve recorded with her.

For my family’s continued survival during harsh economic times – When my father sold off the restaurant a few years ago, it was a bittersweet move. The future was unclear and, to a large extent, it still is. But there are four people in my immediate family: My mother, my father, my brother, and I. Each one of us still has a job, at least temporarily. On this measure, we are far more fortunate than many others. I can never forget this blessing.

My mom, on the anniversary of her birth. All of us bought her this cake and sang happy birthday

And, of course, to you – It’s a difficult thing to drop words into the abyss of the internet, to speak into a vacuum. I am given the privilege of having a small audience, enough to keep my creative juices flowing, enough to keep me putting myself out there.

However you got to this blog post, it most likely means you’re following my work in some form, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or at If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. And for now at least, I am grateful to still be here.