Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dance Gains

I've attended two of my jazz dance classes (they're weekly) and four of my pole dance classes (three a week). I noticed that my posture is better. I'm not as slouchy, my shoulders are back and my butt is tucked under when I walk or stand. I wonder if this adds any numbers to my height.

In the beginning, I had a lot of back pain from my jazz class and the first two pole classes. I was in a car accident as a teenager and was told I had a 15% disability in my back. I like to ignore that and keep my body going. (Nothing was broken, and even broken bones heal in a matter of weeks.) Anyway, I think I really worked the hell out of my back muscles. The back pain has eased up.

I do have bruises from my pole class. We were told that we'd get a bruise every time we learned a pole trick. I've learned three pole tricks, and I have bruises on my knees, calves, ankles and tops of my feet. I'm getting stronger and more coordinated, but it hurts. We have to be able to lift our own body weight and hoist it up the pole, so my arms are a little sore. I'm still having a lot of fun.

It's funny. I realized that dance provides something I need in my life that no other form of physical exercise provides. I'm no mega dancer or Robert James Hoffman III, but I feel enriched when I take dance classes. I highly recommend them for anyone.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Return to the Barre . . . I Guess

In the movie Center Stage, one of the dance teachers talks about returning to the barre when things seem crazy. While I'm not a highly trained dancer (I don't list dance as a special skill on my resume), I still get great physical gain from dancing. I still love kung fu, but my schedule (and pocketbook) don't allow for that right now. So I'm returning to the barre . . . sort of.

I'm enrolled in the jazz dance class at LAVC which is fun. I've also been selected to take part in an infomercial for Flirty Girls Fitness. We're learning pole dancing (barre, get it?) for the next few weeks, then we learn how to do strippy dancing with a chair, then we learn high impact sexy dancing. It sounded like a lot of fun, and it's a way to lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays.

My first spin on the pole was this past Sunday. It was so much fun! The great thing about this class is that it isn't as rigid as other classes I've taken, and it allows for a lot of personal flair. The choreography is still the choreography, but it's a bit looser.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Staying Connected

I was always terrible at networking. I love to help other people, but I don't like to ask people to help me. I was discouraged about netowrking with my fellow actors by a professor I had in college. I guess he thought it was unprofessional. The sad part is that I believed him for a few years.

No more. I've been networking more over the past year. I still need business cards so I can attract more blog readers (and so I look like a pro). I try to meet new people and make new friends while maintaining the old ones. Sometimes it's a little tougher to maintain friendships, but it must be done.

I made a resolution when I found out about Jimmy's suicide: stay connected with my friends as best I can. This is my way of helping prevent future incidents like Jimmy's, and I do cherish them so I should act like it. I've decided to make an effort to have lunch with at least one friend (Andrew doesn't count) every week. We can bounce ideas off one another, catch up, and see how we can help each other. The crazy thing about Los Angeles is how disconnected people are. I'm tired of that. I come from the South where we have warm hospitality and break bread with friends.

My first lunch date is Saturday. Andrew and I are meeting with a friend to collaborate on a project. And, of course, we're going to The Stand.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ob La Di Ob La Da

A friend of mine and Andrew's (closer to an acquaintance than a pal) committed suicide on Friday night. We found out Saturday morning. Dude drove his motorcycle to a town near where he was living, checked into a hotel, and shot himself in the head.

Wow. What kind of dumbass decision is that? From the outside, he had everything to live for. He had a great agent, a film premiere at Slamdance last year, and he was shooting a pilot. He and Andrew were collaborating on a coffee table humor book (that's 3/4 complete). He had a lot of friends that would've been more than happy to talk about whatever situation he was facing that he felt he couldn't resolve.

So the question we were facing this weekend was what to do. Should we hold a memorial service to celebrate this dumbass friend who killed himself (which acts as a validation of what he did)? Or should we quitely move on? I was pissed when I found out about it, and I wasn't the only one. I can't grieve for him. If he had said something to anyone, he could've gotten help. But he apparently didn't want help. I don't think suicide is a cry for help. I think it's a coward's way out of confronting and handling problems. Sure, things may be tough and seem unresolvable, but there are solutions.

Andrew and I are moving on. He may finish the book but he doesn't know the legal issues he may be facing with the creative property. We've had such a hellacious week that there are no tears left for a coward. Life goes on.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Agentless

I can't believe I haevn't blogged about this yet.

My sweet agent of seven months sent me an email last Friday that he was closing his agency as of this Monday. He's had a lot of health problems. Every time I've spoken with him about auditions in the past two months he's been ill. He was a really nice guy and I hope his health improves. But I'm left without an agent with very short notice. It's funny since I've been going out on so many auditions lately.

So I emailed my friends who've seen me in action and asked for their help -- walking in pictures, giving me recommendations, general advice. Andrew is talking to people about walking my pictures in to their agents, and I'm doing a postcard mailing explaining what has happened in hopes I can get a new agent fast.

I hope this resolves quickly. I've been promoting myself (as I've always done) like mad, but it really helps to have an agent to promote me as well. It's kind of an endorsement that someone believes in my talent and knows I can work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


New Version

Holly's departure, though necessary and expected, left a huge hole in our hearts. Sure, we still have Piper (Andrew's dog), but Holly meant so much to us. With that much love to offer, we had to get a puppy immediately.

After a bit of a scavenger hunt, we found our dog. We drove several hours to Banning, CA, to look at a couple of female dals on Monday night. One was nervous about us, the other was happy with us. We paid for her and headed home, stopping at PetCo to pick up a smaller collar and nametag and a sweater for our tiny girl.

She was smaller than we expected. They said she was 7 1/2 weeks, but she looks more like a month old. Her daddy was liver-spotted, mommy black-spotted, and she wound up with an odd combination of the two and looks like she's getting lemon spots on her body. She's a blue fleck with one blue eye and one black eye. No papers, but she's got all the right looks for a baby dal -- except the ears. Her ears are the proper shape, but they stand up. That's not normal for dals at all. Even German Shepherds don't have pointy ears at this age. She may make a visit to a plastic surgeon if necessary so her ears don't give her problems.

She has some characteristics of Holly, and the momma dog greeted us as if to say "I've been waiting for you." Spiritually, it's entirely possible Holly's back. Only time will really tell.

Her name is Felicity. Seems appropriate since we watched "Felicity" season two last week and some of the themes in the show appeared in our lives. She's a fantastic and rowdy little dog. She has a little pink collar with a little heart-shaped nametag. And she looks adorable in her little purple sweater, but what do you expect from a dog named Felicity?

Boogie Shoes

When I was a terribly young thing in college the first time, I enrolled in dance classes. I was a theatre major, so that was the best way for me to get my physical education credits in. Yet there were problems for me taking these classes. The biggest problem was shoes.

Andrew and I didn't make a lot of money. We were on scholarships and had very little time for jobs outside of school. Having to pay $20 for a pair of ballet shoes or $35 for the lowest quality tap shoes for each of us was a struggle. When I was a teenager still living at home I could afford shoes for my jazz dance class but my teacher had us all work barefoot so we could learn proper alignment. And all of those dance shoes were eaten by Holly after college.

Now that I'm in dance class again, I needed new shoes. I do have a job that pays way more than I made in school, but I also have bills that are way more than I had in school. There's a great pair of Capezio slip-on jazz boots I have my eye on, but I needed something cheap and quick until I can free up the cash for them. My teacher gave us a list of dancewear stores where we could find proper attire, including shoes.

I hit Danny's Warehouse in Los Angeles last week and picked up a pair of gray leather jazz boots for $10. Everything in the store is $10 or less -- shoes, leotards, tote bags. It looks a little bit like a yard sale sometimes since things get so dishevelled and you may have to dig through boxes to find what you want, but for $10 it's a great deal. They carry closeouts and seconds. You can order from them online at www.dannyswarehouse.com. I was SO happy to find them. I only purchased the one pair of jazz boots for my class, but I could've picked up other things if I was enrolled in other dance classes for a song. I really wish there was something like this when I was in college the first time.

My Girl


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Originally uploaded by scrapsflippy.
I've been out of commission in the blog world for a few days. Holly dropped her body this weekend.

It was a good death. She wasn't in pain, she died in her sleep. She had a lot of physical problems for most of her life. I took her to a nutritionist nearly four years ago because she was dying. She helped save the dog and fix her health. Dr. Pepi really improved the quality of Holly's last four years, which also improved the quality of Piper's life (Andrew's dog). It was as a result of Holly's trip to Dr. Pepi that I started seeing her, and I've handled a number of my own health issues.

I believe that we're all spiritual beings who use our bodies as long as they'll last, then we carry ourselves over into a new lifetime. I think that's true with pets. As hard as it was to find her body right after that last breath, I knew she was in a better place spiritually. She would get the body her rascally spirit needed to get around.

I remember the day I got her as if it were yesterday. It was a cold evening in December. We were about to move into a place that allowed pets, but we were still in a pet-free community. We had been working at Wal-Mart to pay our bills while we went to school. That night when we got off, we picked up puppy supplies, knowing the big day was coming as soon as we moved. We stepped out the doors, and there was a truck full of dalmatian puppies for sale. I found Holly in the bunch, five weeks old. I fell in love with her, as did most people who met her.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Billy Madison

I've gone back to college. So has Andrew. Read about his wild adventures here.

I enrolled in a jazz dance class. I have a student ID and everything. It was pretty inexpensive. You can check out my school at www.lavc.edu. I already have a degree, so I can take all the fun classes.

Last night was my first class. All the schedule said was "North Gym." I stumbled into the North Gym through a side door, late, because parking was a bitch. It looked like I walked in on jazzercise, not jazz dance. But I figured this was the right place. They were doing dance aerobics. I found a spot in the back of the room and grapevined, punched and kicked until I felt like my heart was going to explode. I expected a syllabus, a discussion about jazz dance, and wardrobe requirements. This chick announced that she put a scale in the corner if you wanted to weigh yourself (so I guess you could throw up your dinner if you felt too fat?). I stepped and jumped and kicked while thinking "I'm dropping this class and horning in on Andrew's cinema class because this sucks." She called roll at the end of class (which was around 8:10PM, not 9:55 PM as the schedule read), and I wasn't on the list. I wandered up at the end of the class to find out if I missed anything in the first 10 minutes that she thought I should know, and I found out it was F'ING AEROBICS! I was in the wrong class, as were two other students. I looked at the signs in the hall, and they weren't very clear about where to go for class. UGH!

So we found the right place, but the door was locked. One of the girls rapped at the door until someone let us in. THIS was the right place. I was so relieved. I was exhausted because I'd been doing F'ING AEROBICS for the past hour. As luck would have it, they spent the first hour going over the syllabus (just as I expected) and had just gotten on their feet for a group warm-up and some drills and choreography. I felt so old and tired after my hour of F'ING AEROBICS. But I had arrived. I'm excited. I get to go buy dance shoes this weekend. Hooray!

The first day of school is always an adventure, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

To My Brother on His 19th Birthday


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Originally uploaded by scrapsflippy.
I'm posting this on my blog for anyone who is facing a crossroads in life. Maybe this will help.

I've advised you as best I knew how. Having the home life we did, I'm glad you turned out okay. I hope my tips have helped. To recap the past nineteen years of advice from me:
1. Don't do drugs or I'll kick your ass.
2. Don't get cooties on your wang from being sexually indiscriminate.
3. Don't knock up some random chick. Marriage comes before babies.

I know you haven't found your hat in life yet, and I know you want to figure things out before you commit to anything. I have one more tip for you, to help you find your way: music.

You come from a line of musicians. I know the skill of some may be really intimidating, but you can find your own musical niche. I have.

The advice I have for you comes from John Mayer in an article from Guitar Player Magazine (February 2006):

"Instead of spending 600 bucks on a new sampler, buy yourself a guitar. You can have a song by tonight, and be getting laid tomorrow."

Love,
Your sister

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

DMV

I had to go to the DMV today. It's my birthday, so as a birthday present my license expires. Wow.

I've been to the DMV in Arkansas and Missouri. Both of those are a piece of cake. No appointments, not much waiting, the other people there are nice. Not my experience in California.

I called in last week because I never got renewal paperwork in the mail, and my license was about to expire. They told me I didn't get the paperwork because I moved, and they had no record of my move on file (even though I mailed in the form and carry the change of address card behind my license). So I had to go in for an eye test, and I couldn't do that without an appointment. You can't set same-day appointments, so I scheduled it for Thursday afternoon. I had unexpected car trouble Thursday afternoon, so I called in to reschedule. The soonest I could get was this morning.

This trip to the DMV was better than when I first got licensed here. The front desk clerk was pleasant. I arrived twenty minutes early, filled out a somewhat confusing form, and began the wait. I took a book since I didn't want to miss my number being called because I was listening to my iPod. I tried to strike up conversation with a couple of people who were also waiting, but they ignored me. That's a sad statement about L.A. -- people would rather ignore you than give you two words. I miss the South where people were friendly and interested. I went back to my book and waited for my number. It took no time for them to service me, and they were friendly. I got a new photo, and I'll get my new license in two to three weeks. Whoopee.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sick Puppy

I'm behind in my blogging. My puppy Holly (11 years old) isn't feeling well, so I've been caring for her for the past few days. She's the inspiration behind Adverb in Andrew's book Adverb & Snacks. She's going to be my homeopathic guinea pig for the next few days while I try nursing her back to health.

Friday, February 03, 2006

How to Audition Actors

Actors are a bunch of cry babies who are always on their cell phones, always whining to or about their agents, always complaining about the money they make for the work they do. (I can say this because I do the same thing.) But you've got to respect your actors when you're casting.

I went to an audition last night, and I wondered why I was even there. I tried to go with what I was feeling, following David Mamet's advice from True or False. Yep. Didn't make the audition a better experience.

I've been on both sides of the casting, so I think I can share these tidbits with some knowledge of what I'm talking about:

1. Respect the actor's time. My audition was scheduled for 7:45 PM. I arrived at 7:20 PM, and there was a girl in the lobby who signed in at 7:00 PM who was scheduled for 7:30 PM. We both had time to read the ENTIRE first act of the play, then wander around the theatre. They called for her at 8 PM, but she offered me her spot since I needed to go. That poor girl wound up waiting until after 8:30 PM to get in for her audition. That's just not cool. I know we're cry babies, but if you're not paying us then don't waste our time.

2. Don't make the actor read most of the script in the audition. It's an audition, not a first cast reading. Every woman there last night had to audition with the entire first act of the play. That's a complete waste of time. Hit the highs and the lows, then get them the hell out. If there's not even the potential for the actor to get the tough spots, bring in the next actor. My earlier audition was a monologue. Two minutes, very simple, very respectful of my time. There's NO reason to audition people with an entire act of a play, especially when you schedule six or eight people within a two-hour period and each reading takes thirty minutes. If you want to see more than the tough spots, a hint of character, an understanding of the script, or even the ability to stand up and say some words in front of people, HOLD CALLBACKS for the people you liked.

3. Actually RUN your auditions. It didn't seem like anyone was running the auditions last night. The director came out to the lobby once there were four of us waiting (8:00 PM). He was about to violate the sign-in sheet and take the girl who just walked in because here appointment was scheduled for 8 PM. I followed him into the theatre, waiting for instructions on what he wanted (should I stand on the stage, is something happening before I stand on the stage, where do I start reading, anything else I should know). He gave me none, muttered something to the committee of theatre members (maybe fifteen random old people) in the audience and disappeared. He came back, climbed into the audience without saying a thing to me, then hollered wondering why I wasn't on stage. I read the ENTIRE FIRST ACT, then left the stage to collect my belongings. All of the other auditions I've ever attended have ended. They usually say "Thanks" or "That was fine" or "We'll be in touch" or "Nice to meet you." I didn't even get a "Screw off." I stood there, waiting for a dismissal or some direction and I got none. I guess it's fitting. The audition didn't have a good clean start, so why would it have a good clean end? You can't do that to your actors. I went out into the lobby and told the girls I wasn't sure they were finished with me because they said nothing but I was leaving, so I wasn't sure when they would be on. The least you can do is tell your actors when to begin and when you are finished with them.

4. Okay, so you're running behind. Say something. I understand if the auditioners get behind. Maybe it's taking longer than expected, people showed up too early or too late, whatever. The decent thing to do is tell the people who are waiting that you're running behind. Giving a wait estimate is even better. How long did those other girls wait after I left?

These are the biggies that were very clear to me after that audition. I know I'll apply them when we do casting.

Trade Secrets (shhh)

Okay, here's the deal: when you see those fabulous commercials with famous actresses modelling some product, it's not always their bodies (or body parts) demonstrating the product. I knew that they'd get hand models for some of this stuff, but I learned a lot today.

I had an audition to be an arm, leg and hand model for an actress in a self-tanning product commercial. (I submitted myself thinking "I had fun being a stand-in for a country music singer, so this might be the same sort of thing.") I had to show up in a dress with my arms, legs and hands exposed. I figured I'd have something of a shot at this gig since I have very similar coloring to the name talent in the commercial -- she's pale, I'm pale. I also thought I'd meet a lot of other actresses who were my type, especially since the casting notice was asking for very specific measurements.

Boy, was I wrong. This isn't like being a stand-in at all. I was one of two pale chicks there, and the other girl had seen even less sun than I had. There were women of various ages, heights and builds. Most of them had dark hair, and a lot of them were tan. They sent home the other pale girl because she was too pale, but they kept the olive-complected gals in front of the lens pretending to smear on lotion for a while.

What happened with me? The conversed about whether or not I was too pale, then put me in front of the camera. I pulled up my skirt so they could look at my gams. I showed them the back, front, and back of my hands. Then I pulled down my sleeve and "rubbed lotion" on my shoulder. They got a shot of the back, then I turned forward. Then they whispered something about me being too pale and released me.

It was an odd audition, probably because I've never gone out to be part of someone's body before. My guess is that they'll hire one of these lovely tan gals. I think they had another casting session for the stomach. I guess it has to look like they've already used the self-tanner as they apply it. Weird, but educational.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day

I awoke yesterday to car problems. I'm still having them today, only not as major. If it weren't for Andrew Moore, I'd lose my mind. He's been handling all the car stuff while I've been working and trying to get some paid actor work.

What's really funny is my ability to bounce back from problems. I'm still kickin' it, still getting auditions, still surviving and finding joy in life. I took the Metro to work this morning, and it was amazing. Sure, I walked for about 45 minutes and my legs may hurt later, but I got so much fresh air and I was able to appreciate this city from a new perspective. I had fun in my travels.

I would like to wake up tomorrow and have everything turn out all right. Heck, I'd be happy if my car problems were over this afternoon!