O Me!

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...
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I recently had a voice-over audition  that required me to sound like Oprah. Glad for the challenge and the opportunity to get a job I dove into the O end of the media pool.  I realized that while I appreciate Oprah, her longevity in the entertainment business, her financial savvy,  and her warm authenticity that connects her so well with her audience, honestly I have probably watched a total of 20 shows in her 25 years on air.
So I went online to get a sound bite so I could figure out what her speech pattern was.  An hour and 40 clicks later, I had made little progress in my original mission, but I had learned how Mindy Kaling of  The Office is living her best life; how I can  look 10 pounds lighter through the right fashion choices; and the magic of exotic grain. Did I mention the interview with the little girl suffering from schizophrenia? That alone was 20 minutes.
I honestly felt like I was having a religious conversion.  I believe…I BELIEVE!          Ok, it wasn’t quite that strong,  but I began to wonder how much better my life would have been if I had jumped on the O train twenty years ago. In all seriousness, she has managed to leave a real legacy in the transient world of entertainment and that is no small feat.
I’m not sure if I can sound like her, but I think that I will head back over to her website and maybe make a point of catching her remaining shows. Surely she must have some advice not just on how to be a better me, but more importantly, how to be a better her.

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Google this…

It was a moment that no child wants to experience with a parent.
The phone conversation with my dad started out harmless enough: greetings, activity updates and extended family member updates. Followed by the traditional long pause that shouted ” ok that’s all out of the way, what do we talk about next?” Once we overcame that hurdle, I coyly asked ” Hey dad, how come we don’t video chat? It’s easy…” and then I proceeded to tell him how easy it was. To be kind, I have a kindergarten understanding of the world of technology. I am consistently out trumped in computer knowledge by my husband and many of of my friends. So I reveled in the thought that there might be some small bit of the PC/MAC world that I might actually be savvy to.

Now Mr Hardison is a man of few words. When he does get around to multi syllabic words, his regular speaking voice, is his “indoor” voice. After he politely weighed my suggestion, he quietly said that he wasn’t quite ready to do that right now, but maybe we could look into that for next time. As I began to feel that warm glow of superiority. My dad started talking about his new Blackberry update, the Evo. And then it happened. Words and phrases like “hotspot” and ” android” rolled off of his lips with an ease reserved for phrases like “where’s my money?” and “i like oatmeal”. The technology train had passed me by and my father was the engineer!
Just like that. It was like doing a Google search for “my father is technologically hipper than I am” About 3 results. 0.0009 seconds. Another search?
So as I lick my wounds and try to use 4G successfully in a sentence, my dad happily traverses “the cloud”. Competently and quietly.

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Uh.. Merry January 9th!

Yesterday, my husband’s family celebrated Christmas. Ok, we may be a few weeks off in our calculations but
the spirit was there, if not the correct time signature. As the borders of the immediate family enlarge with spouses and kids, time, time shrinks and disappears. The idea of visiting several families on the actual day of Christmas (or any winter holiday, for that matter) and generating a happy rather than harried holiday is about as realistic as a reindeer with a red nose. Flying reindeer, sure; but red nosed reindeer: puhleze!
I must say that I like having Christmas January 9th. All of the edgy frustration of the holidays is absent.
The blatant dismissal of diet and self control is gratefully put aside for another day to enjoy mashed potatoes with a whipped cream and a Guerve cheese topping. Don’t get me started on the deserts. So although it has been said many times, many ways, or at least once already: Merry Christmas- Happy January 9th!

I sing the fish electric…

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Blue Fish
Singing a song
Nothing but Blue Fish
All day long

No there is no typo and I am not talking about the heady tome penned by the great American author Dr Seuss ( One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish), I am speaking about fish, hard at work making music for the halibut. Sorry, I won’t be doing that agin in this entry although I must confess, I have had a soft spot for the much maligned, ever adolescent pun.

I speak of the talented fish ( with their equally talented human co-creators) who performed at last November’s STRP Festival which showcases new innovations in technology and art in the Netherlands. Faculty members from the Northwestern University introduced their choir of electric fish in an interactive installation where audience members could “play” the fish. The “talent” was made up of 12 different species of electric fish from the Amazon River Basin. These Amazon natives give off a faint electrical field that is translated to sensors. Each fish has a unique energy signature that is assigned a timbre that is then amplified. Each field has a tone, each fish has a song! I haven’t actually heard it and some how I doubt if it will be topping the charts, but I support musical talent whether it has feet, feathers or fins. You can read more about it here.

So why do I have fish on the brain? Last summer, I did an educational video called Somethin’s Fishy for the City of Bellevue. Perhaps not as hip as the above mentioned techno fish, but I like to think that it humbly helped to preserve some fish hides. The focus of the video was how humans’ daily water use and abuse can affect the critters on the land and in the our waters. This experience re-acquainted me with how important our waterways and water friends are. It was a fun project and I recently received the DVD and wanted to share a bit with you.

By the way, Happy New Year to you! I hope that 2011 brings you good fortune, health, creativity and peace!
Until next time

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Netflix, I think I love you…

“Hello. My name is LaVon H. and I am a Netflix addict.”
“Hi LaVon”
“Well, I guess it started um, ’bout 3 years ago. I got a mailer from Netflicks. It sounded too good to be true,  instant movies online,  movies delivered to your mailbox. And it doesn’t cost anything….huh? oh yeah, I know that it is not free…duh!  It was free for two weeks and then you gotta pay. They take money out of my credit card (nervous laugh) and since I don’t see it,  it’s almost like free…(uncomfortable pause accompanied by painful dry swallowing).”

OK,  you get the idea,
I love movies. bad ones, good ones it doesn’t matter. If I have the power to watch it again, or fast forward through it, I will give it a try. Now before I go any further I must confess that  I am not a connoisseur. There are many holes in my cinematic education. Frankly  there are loads of classics that I have  failed to see. And if I am put on the spot,  director and actor names elude me without the help of   IMBD online. I also  tend to be 2 to 20 years behind what it is currently being played in the theater. And no, I’m not going to tell you what I haven’t seen is right now, because it’s possibly embarrassing, but  I will share some recent movies (and one TV series) that made me love Netflicks even more!

The Fall(2006)
This was recommended to me by the guard at our local library, Mr. G. (hey, the library can be a dangerous place!) The storyline centers around a stuntman in the 1920’s who is injured and during his  hospital stay he befriends the precocious  young Alexandria. I know, cute kids and dogs can either make a movie heart-warming or cause saccharin   seizures, but this is an interesting story, at times very intense, told in a cinematically beautiful way. The young actress who plays the girl is so natural, though at time unintelligible.

Dirty, Filthy, Love (2004)
The recent detective series Monk  put a human face for those struggling with  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  This movie though categorized as a Romantic Comedy seriously explores mental illness.  Dirty ,Filthy ,Love is about Mark (Micheal Sheen) who has OCD and Tourettes Syndrome and  he hits bottom, professionally and personally There is some wonderful acting in this movie.  Shirley Henderson aka Moaning Mrytle of the Harry Potter films makes a significant appearance.  Sheen’s performance is  funny, sad and sadly complex.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006)
I like Aaron Sorkin. More precisely, I like watching him hone his craft as a screenplay writer. Sport’s Night, The West Wing were predecessors to Studio 60 ; and if you are a Sorkin fan, it’s easy to recognize some of the themes, he enjoys working with: uber smart people who are incapable of dealing with the ordinary problems of  day to day living, the dangers and downfalls of drug abuse, friendship and loyalty and of course witty repartee. Sadly this series only lasted a season, but the storyline, though rushed was wrapped up by the last episode.

Let the Right One In (2008)
Chicken butt is my middle name. That’s Ms. Chicken Butt to you just to be absolutely clear.  I don’t watch horror movies. My mind knows that it’s pretend, but my over active imagination begs to differ. But this movie seduced me.  Story line  in a nutshell? 12 year old boy meets odd girl. Odd girl is a vampire.  Blood ensues.  But beyond blood there is an interesting relationship between the two. I heard about this film on NPR  a while ago and figured that I was a “big girl” brave enough to see it. It is a Swedish film with sub titles  which may drive some folk mad. Whether I am a big girl is still up for debate. I found the variety  of vowels heard in the Swedish language to be terrifying.

And lastly, The Secret Life of Words (2005) This is a quiet, at times slow moving film  about an oil rig worker who receives serious burns after a rig explosion. The movies follows his relationship with his crew mates and his nurse. Tim Robbins plays Josef the patient  (quite charmingly, I may add)t and Sarah Polley is Hannah, his Yugoslavian nurse. Her performance is quite beautiful. In this role she reminds me of the intimacy  of Meryl Streep’s performance in Sophie’s Choice

So there you are, hope you get a chance to see some of them. Enjoy em and comment and tell me what you think or better yet what you have been watching. Perhaps the next post will be favorite animated films of 2010?
Whatdya think?

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Oh the weather outside is helpful…

Believe it or not, just last Monday, we had snow. Not the”come hither” gentle Christmas snow, but the the snow that makes you realize that you are not and  have never been the Controller. The snow that says, “phooey” to your personal time line , “pshaw” to your four wheel drive and “nanny nanny boo boo”… just because it has the power to make everything look so picture perfect beautiful.

snow day

Ok, well maybe in the country…

Anyway, today, a week later, all evidence of natures blow is almost non existent here, except for the non deciduous vegetation sporting blackened leaves,  burnt by the cold,  and a few tenacious bits of ice and sprinklings of  road salt.
The winter season  has begun.
As the weather ushers in the many holidays of December: Solstice, Christmas,Hanukkah, Kwanzaa,National Lemon Cupcake Day, ( really, December 15th, but that’s  another post for another time) this  season while typically busy with holiday preparations also begs for quiet reflection and stillness. That’s what snow days are: imposed “time-outs” for adults.

Here in the Northwest we may not consistently get Mama snow putting us in “time out”, but we get  plenty  of gray, rainy days that can push us inward or at least drive us to a coffee shop for a hot cup of quiet. After The Monty run, or any period of intense work I realize that I am truly an American. If I am not careful, I become motivated and defined by a  constant “doing” mentality, sometimes a little resistant to that rest and stillness perhaps you are too?
I welcome the weather “time-outs” that remind me that slowing down and looking within is necessary preparation for the next flurry of activity.
Let us both slow down a bit in the weeks ahead and reflect by counting blessings, closing doors that no longer serve positive purposes,  refueling and integrating a few of the lessons learned this year. This time is built into the schedule, why not use it? Even music has rests.

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Happy trails…

Well, The Full Monty has ended and what a wonderful ride it has been! I got a chance to work with some talented folks, the show was well received and I  got paid for doing what I love to do! The show closed to an enthusiastic  standing ovation this last Sunday, which was a lovely way to finish this project; but it was the Saturday evening show that was most memorable.  The  Monty Men ( the final 6 men who strip  at the end of the show) were rewarded for their efforts  with  deafening hooting and hollering from female fans throughout the evening as well as a total of $54.00 in crumpled bills  thrown upon the stage during  the last “exposing” moments . Needless to say, all of us in the cast in the last scene were giddy with the audiences excitement.  It was a blast! The Monty boys felt like rock stars!
Thanks to everyone who came out to support this wonderful show!

Dang, Nike was right…Just do it!

The other day, my husband had a client who wanted new pictures of her latest jewelry creations for an upcoming print feature. Arms loaded with boxes of high end designs for brides, she entered the studio breathless. She had just returned from her first big bridal show in New York and was dizzy with the positive response that she received from peers and buyers.I should have gotten these pictures done a while ago, she said rolling her eyes, but I kept putting it off, I don’t know why I do that..”

My husband and I made eye contact as she said that, because we have both asked ourself that same question. You probably know the one that I’m talking about. You have a dream or goal that is just begging, screaming to be realized. Opportunities marches happily away with time in tow and then finally you find the strength, inspiration or just plain chutzpah to make a step toward your dream. The intimidating “TO DO” list item that has been there for 5 days or 5 years is finally cross off followed by the question, “ Why didn’t I do this sooner?” “What took me so long?”

Sometimes the answer to that question is that the timing was not or is not right. However it is often because that “TO DO” list item is a step that means owning our desires. That acknowledgment takes us out of the comfort zone and puts us in new territory called risk. Risk is the opposite of habit. Habit is comfy, fleecy and uber-hospitable. Habit says, “ take a load off and have some hot cocoa for 5 or 10 years.” Habit encourages us by saying that we are fine with the way things are, and oh by the way, have another cookie to fill up that gnawing something is missing feeling inside.

Risk is less coddling. Risk holds the dream in front of you on the other side of a road of glass shards, poisonous snakes (or bunnies depending on your personal list of fears) and says. “ if you want it, come and get it and for heaven’s sake stop ignoring it or complaining about it”. Risk expects you to– *gasp* change. Change your attitude, actions, position, mind, etc. Risk feels that the only person who has to be flexible is you.

That’s the fear and that’s why for me (and others) stepping into my life as I am meant to live it is so often postponed. Like my husband’s client, I am grateful for the little bit of progress that I am experiencing in this department, I  am getting better at just showing up and working toward my dreams… step by step.. Each time I cross something off my “TO DO and TO BE” list, I am able to sit down and have a civilized meal with Risk rather than running in the other direction screaming.

Why doing it over and over again never gets dull…

A couple of years ago,  my father in law,  after seeing me in a play  gave me  appropriate compliments and then asked, as if embarrassed, , ” Doesn’t it get dull doing the same thing every night?” I was honestly surprised by his question. Now I won’t lie , I’m no different from any other working stiff: sometimes I just don’t feel like leaving my bed or my house and a quart of maple walnut ice cream and a stack of movies feels like a perfectly acceptable way to contribute to society. But ultimately, I do leave my house and go to the theater for the umteenth performance and remarkably… it’s never dull. It may be comfortable but certainly not dull.  One of the big factors is the audience. Their response can differ wildly from performance to performance and this  fuels the actors delivery and timing.

We recently moved Monty to a new theater. Both the cast and crew are re-learning how to do the show in the new space. The set fits in the space differently and  this affects our movements off and on stage. The dressing rooms are farther away from the stage so we have to add extra time to get to our places.

And then there are those times when there is no good reason why and when things happen the way they do and this is called the “stuff  happens” factor.  Sometimes after 20 or 30 shows something important or at least necessary  breaks, rips, stops, or falls down. It just does. It is generally hoped and appreciated by management that it is not an actor participating in any of the above activities. For example a couple of nights ago, just before I was ready to walk out on stage, I bent down to tighten the buckle of my shoe.  The strap holding the buckle ripped, and  came off in my hand. One of the wonderful dressers ( folks who assist actors with costume changes) quickly taped me into the shoe with gaffers tape seconds before I had to go onstage and dance. Last night, for a second time, I touched a set piece and it promptly broke and rolled downstage. Needless to say, the stage manager at the end of the evening asked me to kindly stop doing that. I told her that I would see what I could do.

Ask any actor, musician why what they do  never gets dull and they will come up with plenty of stories. The tales will run the gamut, describing how the lights didn’t work, a mic pooped out,  an actor had a “brain fart” and forgot a line or lyric. Yep, stuff happens. Doing the show over and over again  may get comfortable and rote but it’s never dull.


Sunday marked the end of the run for The Full Monty in Issaquah. Don’t worry, read on, there is a happy ending. After being at the Village Theater for four weeks of rehearsal that started in mid August; and six weeks of performances at 8 shows per week, it was starting to feel like home. My station in the dressing room was gathering show related tchatchkes and lint. The routine of pre-show prep was a relaxing practice of repetition and sit-com hilarity. Just for the record, the Monty dames are funny bunch. Nuff on that though, as the commercial says, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

I had also found the perfect places for naps on two show days. Personally, that’s one of the most important features of a theatre for me.  After a great show, a great organization, super director and crew, a beautiful theatre,  next and final on my list is  plenty of secret and not so secret nap places. Biggest lesson during this run? A blanket and a pillow are a performers best friend.

So I was feeling a little sad packing up my make-up kit and clearing my station. But as promised, this entry has a happy ending. This Thursday, the show moves to Everett Performing Arts Center for a three week run. On a new stage , we will rehearse the show and we open on Friday.

Ahead is a whole new learning curve for the next three weeks. That takes the edge off goodbye. So adieu Issaquah, you been good. On to Everett, and I hope dear reader to see you there.

PS. I also said goodbye to the Department of Informational Services in Olympia. They were a state agency that offered government offices, high quality media for marketing, promotional and educational purposes. They closed their doors recently and it is a sad day. Sad because they were one of my employers, but sad because many of the folks in that office have become mentors and friends to me. Big hug and thanks go to Derek, Les, Gary and Shwandra who taught me oodles about voice over and being on camera and just being. Good sailing to you all.