Friday, December 6, 2013

Mulholland Drive Therapy

I had a weird day. One of those cloudy-brained, lethargic days. I got some good work done in the morning but much of the afternoon was lost to insipid television watching. I needed a kick in the pants. Or a breath of fresh air. I chose the latter.

When I lived in San Diego and Ridgecrest, the solution to pretty much any ennui-related problem was a long drive. So I thought I'd give that a shot here. I googled "Best Night Drives Los Angeles" and tons of hits for Mulholland Drive came up. Perfect! I'll knock out two birds with one stone--a Los Angeles classic and I'll clear my mind!


Mistake #1: Rush Hour
I knew it was rush hour. I knew it'd take a few minutes of traffic sitting to get to Mulholland Drive, but what I didn't realize was (even though I read it online before heading out) THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS ROAD.

Mistake #2: "The Country's Most Dangerous Road" - A Yelp Reviewer
Also, people are driving too fast, the road is high up, I am gonna die I am gonna die I am gonna die.

I only made it about 1/5 of the way down the scenic road, I think. It wasn't very therapeutic because it took all of my energy to watch the road, watch for oncoming traffic (and make sure they saw me), and watching the cars behind me.

I did get to stop a few times (before I got nervous and imagined a grisly, torturous death by murderous stranger and drove off) and also took this grainy cell-phone photo. Now imagine 50 angels are singing in your heart and in your eyes and that's how I felt looking at this.

Mulholland Drive at Night

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thoughts Inspired By "The Sexy Lie" TED Talk by Caroline Heldman

My good friend Claire Kaplan, posted a link to a TED Talk entitled The Sexy Lie.

I wrote this about it on Facebook:
Some new thoughts, some old in this compelling video. On what it means to be a sex object, its repercussions, and whether there is power in being a sex object. Here are a few ideas that jumped out at me (TL;DW?):
  •  "Subjects act, objects are acted upon. So even if you become a the perfect sex object, you are perfectly subordinate because that position will always be acted upon. So there's no power in being a sex object." 
  • New communication technologies (Internet, tablets, smart phones, blahblah) = more exposure to media = more exposure to ads (5,000 ads/day in 2011, children spend ~8 hours/day with media). To cut through the clutter, advertisers increase hyper-sexualization of their content. 
  • "Men are being sold this idea--constantly--that they are sexual subjects. It makes them feel powerful to see objectified women everywhere. And for women, we are being sold the idea that this is how we get our value and this is how we become the ideal sex object." 
  • Old thought, but I like the term "pretty girl pecking order" because it's just so apt: "We compete with other women for our own self-esteem, because we see [male attention] as a finite resource. So we go into parties and we know where we are in the pretty girl pecking order."
And some new vocabulary I picked up for this brave new world of "hyper-sexualization":
  • Self-objectification: "A key process whereby girls [and women] learn to think and treat their bodies as objects of others' desire" (Zubriggen e t al, 2007:2) 
  • Habitual body monitoring: Behavior like knowing the positioning of your legs, your hair, the light, who's looking at you, who's not. (The idea that this constant body monitoring takes up mental space that could be better used.)
Relevant thoughts from the inimitable Amanda Palmer"I want to live in a world where the internal dialogue of a woman’s brain has evolved to the point where a female performer can wear a sex-pot outfit and, instead of the all-too-common head-chatter chorus of “UNFAIR! MANIPULATED! WEAK! MANIPULATIVE! EVIL!”, she dons her sexy costume and hears internal voices screaming “FAIR! POWERFUL! PLAYFUL! BRAVE! SEXY!” You know…you go girl. But not “You go girl and be manipulated by the man, or manipulate the men in your wake”. Just…'you go girl and wear whatever the fuck you want. And play smart.' " 

Here are Claire's comment on my Facebook post. I think this is the "personal action" we need to take--men and women:

I need to remind myself, if I'm habitually body monitoring, others are too. So how do we distract and support each other? What can we say to make someone feel beautiful and valued for their presence? How do we make every single person we come into contact with feel emotionally and intellectually sexy? If we can do those things, people stop obsessing about themselves and start solving world hunger and making better theatre. I know a few people like that and I want to be around them all the time.
She's absolutely right. I do know people who do this everyday, all the time--it can be done. It's not about being a "nice" person (whooo-eee, is that a whole different conversation), it's about valuing another person for their presence. I also dig this idea of making every single person we come into contact with feel emotionally and intellectually sexy.

May we all go forth and practice a little bit more mindful appreciation of others today and every day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Movie "Review": The Do List

Do me a favor. Go out and see this movie and tell me what you think.

I loved it. It's not an entirely new premise, but it does have a new face and a new perspective. Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza) is a serious-faced, Clinton-worshipping, valedictorian. And a virgin. Until now, largely unaffected by teenage hormonal impulses to make out, until she sees Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) at a party. He makes her feel something she's never felt before... What is this? A summer of discovering sex, sexual acts, her body, sexual impulses, and shenanigans.

See? Not groundbreaking except that it's about a somewhat neurotically academic young woman checking off sexual acts, her two slightly more experienced and much more foul mouthed best friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), a hot guy, her normal looking but very sensitive guy friend who is in love with her, and a handful of other memorable characters (hellooo, I mean Bill Hader and Andy Samberg and Nolan Gould and Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Donald Glover? Not to mention Connie Britton and Clark Gregg??)

As I was watching this movie, I kept waiting for it to be bad. To slip into formula, or cop out by going to raunchy land for raunchy land's sake... It didn't happen. By the end of the movie, I was even satisfied by the way they painted the young men in the movie, even if it wasn't an in-depth character exploration. There were characters, certainly, but hardly caricatures.

I actually almost laugh-cried (OK I teared up a little) when, after all the hullabaloo and a friendship fall out, Aubrey's character comes into her best friend's room tears in her eyes, singing a song. 1) Because that's fucking ridiculous. 2) Because people (girls?) do that. We are silly with each other. We don't know how to apologize. And then we laugh at ourselves and say politically incorrect stuff.

As the credits rolled, I sat there with my friend marveling at how much I enjoyed the movie. And my first theory was that it was hard to watch (or relate to) for "most" people because it's about a girl's experience with the in-your-face "raunchiness" (this movie was not raunchy considering it was all about sex!!). (A select choice words from negative reviews are: ultra-raunchy, vile, ugliness of spirit)

Is it uncomfortable (or VILE) for you to watch a girl give a handjob in a matter-of-fact manner? Is it uncomfortable for you to watch a girl to masturbate in her quest to find her G-spot? Is it uncomfortable when a young woman takes the top position after citing a factoid that "women are 40% more likely to orgasm when they're on top"?

And if it makes you uncomfortable, why does it make you uncomfortable? Is it because you just don't like overt sexual things in movies that fly under the banner of "sexual exploration" and liken this to raunchy American Pie? Is it because you can relate to Superbad because boys will be boys and they will be obsessed with their dicks and sex in high school--but not to this? (And if that's the case, think harder about why you can only related to Superbad, whether you're a guy or a girl.)

Or is it because this movie (most of the time) is not sexy? A movie literally just about sex acts is not sexy. It's bespectacled, granny panty-wearing, freckle-faced, 90's fashioned unsexy. And is that why you don't want to watch the confusion and struggle of a girl's first blow job?

The more movies and tv shows and stories I am exposed to and the more I talk about them, the more I feel like I come off as a bra-burning-feminist. I do believe there is more content featuring whole women, as George R. R. Martin said "I've always considered women to be people." I'd be pretty horrified and disappointed if the negative criticism of this movie stemmed from people's discomfort with viewing women as non-sexy sexual beings.

Bridesmaids was a lot of physical humor which is unconventional for women, but this movie brings in sexuality and all of a sudden it's crass and tasteless. Maybe I liked it because I already like Aubrey Plaza, I liked Brandy Clark from the beginning.

But I do think this story is just well told. I think it is sincere and curious and authentic, even if they happen to do a lot of zany things in the time span of the movie. Maybe it resonated with me because it was set in the 90's. Because I've had the same talks with my girlfriends (albeit in college, I was not nearly as progressive as them in high school), the same crying sessions; I've felt the same way about a bleach-haired puka shell wearing hottie; I've felt the same confusion and excitement and disgust during a handjob. So much of this movie rang true to me, it's hard for me to understand why it was called superficial, ugly, and ultra-raunchy.

I also didn't think this movie was trying to prove that women can be gross too (that was Bridesmaids, imo). But rather, hey, here's a girl, she's gonna learn about sex. If the movie wanted to be "vile" and be "raunchy to be raunchy", they'd've covered all the other things on her list that are so dirty I had to urbandictionary them. That is American Pie, this is closer to Superbad.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Update: An Audition & Weekend Plans

Another EPA audition under my belt! And it finally happened: I forgot a line during my monologue. It's 100% my own fault, I didn't have my lines internalized so of course after waiting for 4 hours and standing in line and getting the regular jitters I get before an audition, I drew a blank. I knew what the intention of the line was and ad-libbed but the change in pace and tone and language probably made the omission apparent. The casting director was very sweet and kind and had nice things to say about me regardless. 

I think it's easier to let go of a bad audition like this. I should've prepared better but that's all on me, within my control.

This afternoon I sat down today and looked around on Casting About thanks to a 7-day free trial from Workshop Guru. Did some planning on that end, signed up for my CD workshop. Reviewed notes from Jona's class and will do some mailings, methinks.

Anyway, the point of this was to talk about... as my main goal for the next six months is to GENERATE, I recognize I have to be full, fulfilled--spiritually and financially haha. Tomorrow evening I'm attending Shadow Hill Therapeutic Riding's volunteer orientation. Can't wait! It's only 20 minutes away which, for LA, is amazing

Happy to be back. Even though I am starting to feel how "far" the Valley is, I'm happy to be in LA, close to the opportunities I'm looking for.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I'm flying back to LA tonight.

Home has been nice. So. Nice. The tenants were out, I spent a week in SF. Finding a low-key routine was so nice. Back to reality!

It's time to switch gears and break out of the inertia that's kept me at this comfortable (but busy) pace and barrel back into the hustler's life in LA. I'd like these next six months to be about creation and generation. May this refocus help me better manage my time.

I also need to make rent every month. Another goal.

Well, I thought this was going to be a big, long soul-searching post but everything I put down just sounded whiny. There's no hemming and hawing necessary to change gears. I know how to do it. Just do it. (Thanks, Nike.)

I will miss the cool Nor Cal air; I will miss my roomy, homey, childhood home (ghostly settling noises and all); I will miss my guy. (Will miss my family too but they're coming to visit me soon.)

Time for a tesseract. I know what this. I've been here before. Just do it...

Monday, July 8, 2013

World War Z

I loved World War Z. Who knew a ZOMBIE MOVIE was the best way to get the world to learn about virology and pathology? (Should out to Contagion (2011) which I also loved, but will admit was probably a less thrilling story for non-Biology nerds.)

What I Learned From World War Z:
1) Always wear your seat belt.
2) Don't be non-essential personnel. (Be useful. See this article for reference.)

Great movie, great story. Well cast, well acted, well shot (hand-held cam used judiciously and effectively), well adapted, well told.

Six Months

My roommate is moving out sometime this week. I leave for a two week "vacation" next Monday. Now is a good a time as any to reflect on the past five, going on six months, in Los Angeles.

I am thousands of dollars in debt (to myself / family), looking to be more in debt as I have not found a roommate yet (nor have I tried very hard). I have booked exactly zero short films, one student project, zero student films, two plays, one PSA, one web series, zero feature films, zero television shows. I have spent over 80 hours in traffic since May and eaten at McDonald's more in the past five months than I have in the past five years.

I have been telling myself from the day I got here that I would need to be able to deal with the so-called rejection. I have read countless articles about the audition amnesia actors must have to stay sane and stay motivated to pursue work.

Five months in, I am creatively drained and demoralized. I don't blame the city or the industry. I know these are growing pains. I'm told I should be grateful that I'm going out on auditions and humble enough to work on any project, no matter the quality. And I am. I am, I am, I am. But I have my limits. I have objections against careless work.

The first few months in LA felt "too slow" and now they feel "too fast." My schedule for the past few months has been full to bursting. I am grateful for the work, but I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Unpaid or low paid work is fantastic because it's an opportunity to flex creatively, but overloading yourself with unpaid or low paid work sets you up for burning out. Financially. Creatively. Ability-to-stay-nice-ness.

I think the solution is for me to create, to generate my own work. And that's what my goal is for the next six months. To continue taking classes when I can, continue to go out for auditions and continue submitting myself, but also to prioritize generating material. Write( --anything! ) film material for my reel, do, do, DO.