Friday, December 31, 2010

My Radical New Year's Resolution

In 2011, beyond necessities such as rent, utilities, gas, & food, I will not buy anything. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. No cute new shoes, no new mascara...nada.

Because the truth of the matter is this – I don’t need anything. I have a closet full of clothes, plenty of extra shampoo & toothpaste in case I run out, and so much stuff in my apartment that I don’t know where to put it. I live in blessed abundance – all my needs are met – I want for nothing.

So the buying stops today and will remain halted for an entire year. No more new stuff. Unexpected needs will likely come up throughout the year, but that’s when my resourcefulness will have to kick in. A friend’s birthday? I’ll make them a card from my ample stock of craft supplies. Something break? I’ll fix it. Want to make waffles? I’ll borrow a waffle-maker from a friend.

The goal is to heal myself of the stinking entitlement of excess that I believe plagues the country and put us into economic woe. You may say I’m not being a good US citizen by supporting the retail industry, but I have to believe that being an educated, working, and voting tax-payer who volunteers and donates to charity has more positive impact on the national community than buying a new toaster. Besides, everything is made in China these days – buying that toaster only supports an economic dependency that’s going to bite us in the ass later in a big way.

My hope is that the time I would be spending driving to stores or price comparing can now be spent writing & furthering my life goals. You know, the important stuff.

So here goes. My no frills, no purchasing year of inventiveness and creativity. Follow my blog now for all the tales of my adventure and feel free to leave any questions or challenges in the comments below. There are probably many things I haven’t thought of, but I’m confident I can figure them out as I go along.

After all, I have everything I need right here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Video Distractions Roundup

The videos I couldn't stop watching this year when I was supposed to be writing.

First, a gem for the ladies from Sarah Silverman on Conan:

ClaraC just released her first album, but she also records covers & mashups right in her apartment - a real DIY inspiration.

The great John Lopez was cinematographer on this tasty tidbit. Short, sweet, and funny!

Nicole Scherzinger & Tracie Thoms on the Hollywood Bowl stage. I saw the show live, but watch this whenever I wanna feel fierce.

Max Adler plays a gay-hating bully on Glee who is secretly gay himself. This video he made for The Trevor Project made me cry. I now want his body.

An animated tale from Mike Birbiglia, the best Moth storyteller / comedian / sleepwalker ever.

And finally, just because...

Curse you, online videos. Why are you so damn watchable?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: The Numbers

# of blog posts written: 70

# of blog comments: 75

# of blog followers: 18 (won’t you follow too?)

# of dollars raised by my blog: 0 (donate via Paypal on the right!)

# of followers on Twitter: 125 (follow me there too!)

# of acting auditions: 25

# of acting jobs booked: 12 (so grateful!)

# of scripts written: 1 (very bad)

# of scripts started: at least 12 (better)

# of applications to writing fellowship programs: 6

# of acceptances into writing fellowship programs: 0 (try again next year)

# of industry events attended: 30

# of new industry contacts made: over 100

# of short films produced: 2

# of short films written & directed: 1 (see my Interpretations short here)

# of days spent feeling discouraged: 365

# of days spent revitalizing & refocusing on my goals: 365

Thanks 2010! Here’s to an even more creative and productive 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Writ Good Fr Me!

"You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?"

The author of that cringe-worthy sentence paid Ed Dante $2,000 to write a business school research paper for her. He did and she graduated with an MBA.

For a truly jaw-dropping look into Ed's world of writing for hire, check out this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

A man approached me once to write a law school admissions essay for his brother in India. He offered a whopping $50. I refused, saying the most I could do was edit his final draft after he wrote it.

When he finally gave me a draft to edit, it was a disaster. Rambling statements, incomplete sentences, and incoherent arguments. I corrected the spelling and grammar errors and returned it, though upon reading this article about Ed Dante, I feel dirty even having done that.

Though I took the $50.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fiction Black Friday: NaNoWriMo Sample, Part 2

Click here to read NaNoWriMo Sample, Part 1

Her sister’s voice now came from the doorway. “You’re not wearing any shoes.”

Calista looked down. Her socks were starting to soak through with melted snow. Her crying paused for a moment as she contemplated how she didn’t notice the cold, even as she wiggled her wet toes encased in fake wool. Grief was a powerful thing, she thought. She turned to finally face her sister, who stood sour-faced in the doorway.

“I had to get out,” Calista said.

“Don’t be so fucking dramatic,” Jen snapped, and she closed the screen door between them, leaving Calista out on the patio. Calista watched as she walked away, unraveling the scarf around her neck. Cashmere, she thought, or pashmina at least. Jen had great taste in fashion. She was just a horrible sister.

Calista looked back out at the yard. There were memories here too, but at least outside she could breath. The vegetable patch where her parents had nursed their crop every spring and summer. The lilac trees that had conveniently served as first, second, and third base whenever needed. The tiny fence her parents had put up to keep the neighbor’s tree leaves from blowing into the yard and becoming their problem. So many details in one stretch of land. Her land now. Hers and Jen’s.

She closed her eyes and listened for the sounds of home. The familiar white noise of her small town neighborhood. So different than the constant sound of cars and dogs from her apartment in LA. Here, the sounds were of trees rustling and doors opening and closing in the neighborhood. The occasional dog barking. Everything was smaller here. Less. Except the memories.

The sliding door opened again. Calista turned and saw her sister standing in the doorway, fighting back tears. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. Would you please come inside now?” Jen was angry and annoyed. As if Calista were standing in the snow in order to spite her sister, to force her to show her emotional cards. Everything was an attack against her in Jen’s world, she was so filled with resentment. Calista had learned long ago not to attempt to reason with her sister in moments like these. Jen was wholly unreasonable most of the time. Calista had learned to just deal with it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Red Carpet Sophomore

My first turn on the red carpet was a disaster. I didn’t know how to stand, my face was shiny despite my excessively expensive makeup job, and I had stupidly decided to pair $10,000 worth of borrowed diamonds with $14.99 shoes from Payless Shoe Source. Jezebel said I looked like I’d walked out of Forever 21. I was the walking definition of clueless.

My second red carpet attempt at the CAPE Soiree last week was still a bit clunky, but a vast improvement compared to my first. I Googled tips on how to pose and practiced in front of a mirror. I shopped for my dress more than a week in advance and matched everything to it meticulously. I addressed every detail of my look, right down to the acrylic French manicure. And I looked and felt better because of it.

Yes, getting your picture taken by photographers can be a silly part of the business. Talent is what matters, right? How well you look over your shoulder at the flashing cameras is irrelevant.

Still, this is an image-based business and how you’re seen can be just as important as your craft. It’s all part of playing the showbiz game. And while part of me would love to scoff at red carpets as superficial, shallow parades of ego, the other part knows that self-publicity is part of this world and it doesn’t hurt to get in some practice now. Angelina Jolie makes it look so effortless, but she’s been practicing since she was 10.

So now that turn #2 on the red carpet is under my belt, I look forward to the next. Maybe next time I’ll try looking over my shoulder.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fiction Friday: NaNoWriMo Sample, Part 1

My first NaNoWriMo experience, otherwise known as my return to fiction, was a beautiful mix of creativity and pain. I failed to reach the 50,000 word goal with my novel writing, but I did complete approximately 19,000 words. Pointless drivel, in my opinion, but perhaps I'll let you be the judge. Here's a small snippet of my would-be novel...

The house was like a museum. A museum of pain. Heartache, limitations. Everything preserved in time – not only the furniture and d├ęcor, but the emotions. The opinions about every painting on the wall, the judgments of every bedspread, the guilt over the smudges on the wall and cracks in the counter. The details of how the house looked before this iteration. Before the new dining room and family room had been added. Before the bathroom had new linoleum. Every day that was lived in that house was sealed in time. Humming with history. 30 years of memories and it was so loud, it nearly deafened Calista as she walked through the rooms like a ghost.

Calista hadn’t lived in this house for a long time. As soon as a driver’s license had afforded her precious freedom, she’d begun her escape. College in another state, then work. She hadn’t lived here since high school. She’d gone from being a resident to a holiday visitor, never staying longer than week in its clutches.

She’d moved on. Yet now, standing in the room that used to be hers, the bulletin board on which she’d tacked calendars and Ice Capades tickets still hanging on the wall, she realized that she never had. The house mirrored her every move. Contained it, held it until this moment, when she could see that the house had always been with her, even when she was away. It had always been home. But now what would it be? She had no idea.

Calista heard the garage door open with an all too familiar moan. Her heart choked with grief as her mind flew to the inevitable, irrational thought. It’s Dad! The garage door rattled to a halt and Calista began to cry. Her father could never open that garage door again. He was gone. The sound had been just another memory in this house circling her throat like a vice. She had to get out.

She walked out of her room, through the kitchen, and toward the back door just as her sister Jen came in from the garage. She didn’t have time to say hello – she was on a mission. Bounding down the two steps to the family room, her hands nearly crashed into the sliding glass door as she struggled to undo the lock with her gloved hands. The heavy plastic switch slipped helplessly from her fingers as she grabbed at it. She heard her sister behind her.

"Hello? Walk right by me, why don’t you?"

Calista tore off her gloves, flung them to the linoleum floor, twisted the lock and heaved open the door. Another quick snap and the screen door slid open. And she rushed out onto the snow-covered back deck. Free. She gasped for air and cried, wailing like the child she’d just become again standing in the house she grew up in. She held her instantly ice cold fingers to cover her face as she wept, the tears flowing across her skin like hot silk.

Click here to read NaNoWriMo Sample, Part 2

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tools of the Trade: A Library Card

I carry all the essentials in my bag – keys, phone, and my library card.

As an actor, there will be times when you need to read a play to find a monologue or watch an episode of a TV show for an audition. Netflix and Amazon are great resources, but they cost money, and you need to save your pennies for classes and filling up your gas-guzzler.

Your local public library is all free, all the time. Maybe you haven’t stepped foot into a library since the days of college research papers and study groups. If this is the case, I invite you to rediscover the stacks at your nearest branch. In addition to books, libraries can have DVDs, music CDs, audiobooks, and magazines. The resources at the public library are an actor’s best friend, saving you time and money in your pursuit of art.

Say you have an audition for Romeo and Juliet. Get a free library card and you can borrow a copy of the play to read, find a Shakespeare monologue in a monologue book, and rent the Leo & Claire movie version to see their interpretation. Don’t forget to pick up a book of helpful tips for auditioning for Shakespeare and the audiobook version to listen to in the car on your way to your audition.

I’ve also watched previous features from a director I’m about to meet and entire seasons of TV shows as research. Once I auditioned to play a Japanese war refugee and found an Asian accent for actors CD the day before. It got me a callback. All this in a one-stop shop just around the corner.

Now go get that library card...