Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barfing HTML

I've been trying to learn HTML on and off all month. I want to build the Red Snapper website from scratch so I can easily update it myself. Of course, I've learned that it might be too much to take on at once. I just want to get up a nice-looking website so I can market myself. Then later I can hire a real designer to format the page as necessary to something much cooler that I can still update myself.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to throw up a website like the old .htm kind we had to do in the mandatory computer class in college in the mid-1990s. Nothing that shitty. I'm just going to use a template and modify it to fit my needs. I hope to have something up in the next week. But for now, I'm dizzy from reading about Dreamweaver.

For Starters

I come from a crafty family so I'm always working on something, even when I don't have a costume to build for an upcoming show. This led to my creation of this burlesque starter kit: two leopard print heart-shaped pasties with tassels and a shimmy belt that fits anyone with a low ab measurement from 31" to 36".

I just put this item up in my Etsy store last night. I'd like to move it quickly so I can set to work on the next project. If you know anyone who has the slightest interest in burlesque, this is perfect. One can use these tools to work on bumps, grinds and twirls within the comfort of one's own home. It's priced to move at $25.

Go here to order.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Can't Say No

I have issues. I have a hard time saying no. This has gotten me into a lot of trouble in the past because I think of how bad someone needs help and not of my own time restrictions, and I've agreed to so many things I didn't have the time or energy to do.

There are other areas of life where my inability to say no has become a problem, particularly with food. I'm not as physically active as I would like to be. Part of the issue is no longer having the disposable income to enroll in as many dance classes as I would like. I changed my schedule at school so I'll just have two dance classes while I figure my life out. I'm also getting free dance classes on Sundays as part of a new job. Even still, I need more activity. You see, I love eating. I'm a huge fan of dessert. I like eating the stuff that turns into fat. If I'm not active, it will turn into fat. The past three months have proven that.

So I'm going to try to chase away some of that fat. I'm revisiting my special diet to get some relief, and I'm hoping I start making progress quickly so I don't have to shell out the money to do it all again. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Transitions

I've been going through quite a period of adjustment in the past few months. Leaving the job I held for eight years led to a number of changes in my routine. Since I've been freelancing, I haven't had to keep up with a rigid schedule as much and that has slipped into my personal and artistically professional life. When I don't have a day of work, I still get up before Andrew leaves for the day. I job hunt, do some housework, research opportunities and learn new things. I may spend time working on dance numbers or costumes, but every day off is spent doing something productive. It's still quite an adjustment.

I've gone from having a "steady job" five days a week for roughly thirty hours to taking work as it comes up. I have to admit that I do enjoy freelancing. I've done some personal assistant work and some office temp work. I expect to be paid for every dancing gig because I need to be paid for every dancing gig (not that it was a problem before). I'm also working on my dancer website and creating products to sell online associated with my dancer brand. Of course, I've been so scatterbrained at shows lately that my business sense was absent, meaning I wasn't networking and visiting with friends as I normally would. Sorry if you were on the receiving end of any of that.

The most wonderful part of this freelancing thing is that it's given me focus as a dancer. Opportunities have come up that have made me reconsider things. I have one major festival out of town this year (New Orleans), and I have at least one local excursion out of the L.A. area. I'd like to travel more next year, doing weekend tours to nearby places (including those that can be accessed by a $59 one-way flight on Southwest). There are several burlesque festivals I'd like to hit as a performer next year as well. I have to find the kind of job that helps me afford that but I don't think it's going to be a 9-5 job for 40 hours a week. I'll need the flexibility on Fridays and Mondays to travel from time to time.

I have to decide in the next two weeks if I'll be returning to school for all of my classes in the fall. I want to continue my film education and continue with my ballet teacher at the college, but I'm not certain that those things will contribute most immediately to my goals. I can always go back to paying for weekly dance classes somewhere, even if it does cost more than a semester of ballet at the local community college.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh Hell No!

Andrew and I did some shopping this weekend for supplies for my Wednesday night show. Our shopping trip included a stop at Hollywood & Highland, and our plan was to grab a coffee before heading home. There's a Starbucks there that we've patronized many times. We also know and enjoy the drinks from the Toll House shop and Kelly's Fudge. Our original intention was to get something from one of those places until we were handed a two for one coupon for a hip, new coffee shop. I like to support new businesses when I can, so Andrew and I agreed to give them a try.

As we headed into the shop, an aggressive 22 year-old guy shoved a tiny cup at me and said "Sample." I don't drink everything that's handed to me, and he was pretty rude about it. I responded in kind: "What is it?" He explained that it was some flavor of smooth or milkshake, slightly nicer than before. Not bad. We entered the shop and the first item on the menu was $6. It's a coffee shop, right? $6? The loud rave music was so loud we had to shout our order to the 22 year-old gal behind the counter. How much is a cup of coffee? $3.75. Wow. Pretty steep for an Americano from a place that just has counter service and no tables or chairs. And how was the coffee? Unromantic and not worth $3.75, not even with the free refills we were promised if we dared return that day. It was workmanlike. And the 22 year-olds in front of the store were shoving flyers into people's hands to drum up business.

Note to businesses: You have to have a good product that has value if you want to get business. Sure, you might have a brief surge from your aggressive 22 year-old marketing strategy. Sure, some people might be drawn to the rave sounds and are willing to shout over the music to buy a drink once. And they might even shell out $6 for a drink from a coffee stand. Once. Chances are good you'll attract a couple 22 year-olds as customers. Of course, they might not have jobs and be able to afford more than one of your ridiculous drinks a month. I'm not getting coffee at the rave stand ever again; Starbucks is right around the corner.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Microblogging

I've become quite the microblogger. I've found it's very easy to post my thoughts and activities in 140 characters or less on Twitter. It's a little more immediate but a little more random than typing on an actual blog. Sure, I microblog about not getting tortillas with my fajitas or waiting for AAA, but I also microblog about upcoming shows. It's not as well-planned and thorough as a real blog.

So here's a little update on what I'm doing right now:
  • Sixteenth wedding anniversary yesterday. We had barbecue at the only place in Los Angeles that has Southern-style barbecue that we like. We've also been watching "The State" on DVD. It was on television very early in our relationship and we loved it.
  • I went from no jobs on Tuesday to three jobs on Wednesday. I was hired to do admin for a small business owner one day a week, so I did that in the morning. The afternoon was filled with temp work and the evening was spent stage managing a burlesque show. The temp job is at one of my favorite places and will go into next week.
  • Two job interviews last week. One resulted in an immediate hire, the other in a message that the current employee decided to stay. I'm still trolling for work. I think things will pick up, but I have to make a decision about returning to school or not in the fall. I do want to get the education, but I also find myself focusing more on my dancing. I want to be able to tour on weekends, so I have to get a job that can afford me that opportunity financially.
  • Three Saturdays left of my show with Theatre Unleashed. To be clear, I'm just acting in this show. My short play, @twitts, is going to be produced as part of Theatre Unleashed's coffee shop series. I've been cast in Landscaping the Den of Saints that opens in October.
  • I got my hotel room and flight booked for New Orleans Burlesque Festival, and I'm dancing/teaching in Lancaster, CA the weekend I return.
  • I'm trying to learn HTML for my new website. I haven't made it public yet because I want it to be ready before I announce it. It sucks to see a website that says "under construction" or "coming soon."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pure Dumb Luck

With our play opened and rehearsals over, Andrew and I found ourselves with a free Sunday. We narrowed our inexpensive entertainment options down to two beaches. The first was a former nude beach in Santa Barbara where a nudist group has been making a positive impact on the community and held a picnic/rally Sunday. The second was our nude beach that will be nude no more after Labor Day. We don't drive an hour and a half there and often two hours back for the scenery. We decided that since it might be our last visit ever, we'd go to the nude beach that was shutting down.

It's hell going to this beach. We make the long, stupid drive followed by a long, stupid hike to the beach. There are no bathrooms on the beach and I'm not risking a rattlesnake encounter in "stinky canyon," so we never pack a picnic and stay for the day. We set up our blanket, I sun for no more than 20 minutes on each side while I pester Andrew about putting sunscreen on his farmer's tan until he's so annoyed he applies it. The timer goes off, I apply sunscreen to my face and arms again and we start the long, stupid hike back to the car. We usually stop for lunch on the long, stupid drive home. I usually fall asleep during the ride. All of this hassle is enough reason to never return.

The ride home yesterday was full of freeway debris, like lawn chairs, tire pieces and wheeled grocery totes. We avoided most of it. Someone's roof carrier fell apart when we were just south of Anaheim. The metal rail flew off their car, bounced off the freeway once or twice and went under our car. It felt like we were dragging something so we pulled off. The rail punctured our oil filter and drained our engine of its oil when Andrew wrestled it free. We saw the filter later; it looked like it was shot with a shotgun.

I called AAA (which I don't remember renewing so I must've done it in my sleep or when I was under the influence) and they sent out a tow truck. Andrew determined that the filter was the only thing damaged so we could get an oil change, a new oil filter and we should be okay. It cost $38 for the oil change. We lucked out that it didn't cost more we also lucked out that neither of us was injured by the flying debris.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Hughes

It's incredible looking back at how an artist influences a person with their work. After John Hughes's passing this week, I looked back at his films and discovered how much they influenced me as an actor, director and writer.

Beyond that, his films gave me hope. They didn't make me less poor, more popular, better understood by my family or less socially awkward. They did make me feel like I wasn't the only one with problems. They gave me hope that things would work out and that somebody would understand me. I was a kid when his first films came out. I know I'm not the only one who felt a little more normal growing up on a steady diet of his works.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Yo, Arkansas!

I'm planning a trip back to Arkansas for January or March 2010. I've had some requests to come out to teach burlesque classes so I'm thinking about a workshop weekend. To help me see if there's enough demand and to plan for classes, I've set up a survey.

So, Arkansans, now's your chance to help me out. If you are a lady or have a lady friend who might enjoy this kind of thing, please have them go take my survey.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

First Game of 2009

I went to my first baseball game of the year last night. We try to get to at least one game earlier in the season, but with plays and jobs and gigs it's been challenging. We usually get a brochure with four free tickets (two per game) and six buy one get one free vouchers for $49. We've been getting them for a few years now, and we usually go to at least three games per year.

As much as we love the Dodgers, we've been to so many games where they lost that we just expect them to lose when we go to the ballgame. Last night they were on fire. They beat the Brewers 17-4. It was amazing. It was great going to a game where they actually won.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

How I Roll

As you may know from previous posts, I believe acting is just that -- acting. It's not therapy. It's not a change to dig up your personal bullshit and air it out in front of an audience. It's time to pretend, to put oneself in the shoes of the character and say the words the playwright has provided.

I had an experience this week with a director who rolls with the other school. I'm willing to experience different directing styles. I'm not cool with a director asking me to use past upsets to fuel my performance. I'm also not cool with a director asking what I would do if my dog was beheaded in front of me. What the hell does that have to do with the play we're rehearsing?

I'm an adult. I don't have to put up with this kind of thing. So I said something. Several things, actually. I managed to explain how I roll without invalidating the director (just saying his method doesn't work for me). I got my point across and didn't have to walk from the production with artistic differences. And I made it okay for another actor to pretend and leave the personal bullshit where it belongs.