Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Fame

So I live in Los Angeles, right? Well, Glendale, okay, but I can walk to Los Angeles in under five minutes, so there. But we gots lots of famous people here, right? I can't wrap my brain around fame. Specifically, why "regular" people think famous people aren't regular. Don't get me wrong, I don't think famous people are regular, but I can't figure out why.

When I was a little girl (specifically that girl in the picture there) I wanted to be famous. Well, no, I take that back. I wanted to be an actress or a writer or a singer and I wanted a big-ass audience. A lot of actors go into the business to become other people because they don't much like themselves. But I love me (because really, is there any blogger who doesn't just adore them little selves?)! I simply wanted to be me all over the place. I wanted to play for a living and invite others to play with me.

As I got older (and more aware of anxiety disorders) I became a bit more wary about the whole thing. I don't remember specifically what aspects of fame had a red flag for me, but there were some. I wondered if I could be the boss of my fame. Maybe not have to do publicity (I was getting pretty savvy there in lil' ol' Michigan). Woody Allen seemed to have some control of his fame (pre Soon-Yi). Not that I was gonna be Woody Allen, but could I keep a low profile like him?

Then Rebecca Schaeffer was shot in the chest by a stalker in the doorway of her apartment building. She was almost famous. Dude, she lived in apartment building, fergodsakes. She was a regular 21 year-old actor just starting to get somewhere. I was 19. That got me over "fame" in one swell foop. I decided writing was the career for me.

Until I discovered Voiceovers, that is. One of its many pluses was that I could be famous and no one would know who the heck I was (although I have since learned that many of my animation friends have some pretty creepy fans). And the thing is, you've heard my voice. I've been doing this for 12 years and I assure you in that time you've heard me on the TV or radio or at the movies. That's famous enough for me. I am regularly delighted that I made the choices I did.

My first cousin is famous. You may not have heard of her because you may not be the right demographic. In many ways she may be more famous for her beauty and style than for her film and TV work since she really hasn't been doing it for that long and only has so much work under her belt. But if you've been on the cover of magazines, yer famous.

Now this is my little cousin we're talking about. She's the closest thing I've ever had to a younger sister. And since she's always been beautiful she was a jewel of a plaything when I was a kid. I actively remember her sixth birthday. She's the first "person who is younger than me" who I really remember being a dinky child. So does her being famous change the way I feel about her? Did she suddenly become different? I don't know. I'm very proud of her. I think she's good at what she does, and in fact always getting better at it. But I've also seen through her that fame sucks. Not that I've heard her complain; that's just my take on it. But this woman is not that famous, yet she has virtually no privacy. Paparazzi take pictures of her walking her dog. Tabloids print hilariously untrue stories about her. Someone decides she's chubby, when she's the tiniest little thing. Someone hears a conversation of hers on the street and it ends up in a magazine. Complete strangers decide they love her or hate her - her as an actual person, not a character - without knowing a thing about her. And lord knows I do that with stars. Clearly I'm just as bad as the rest of the "audience."

I sat next to a very attractive actor at a play last week. He was delightfully sweet and chatty. But I was definitely extra excited by him than I would have been by any other delightfully sweet and chatty very attractive man who sat next to me at a play. Why?! I regularly see very very famous actors at my agency. Sometimes they even talk to me. I don't behave like a fool. Outwardly. Inside, I behave like a fool. Why? (I'm sure a professional has made a study of this phenomenon. I'd like to know what they came up with.)

If tomorrow, one of my dear friends got a sitcom job and it suddenly turned into something like Friends, and they were catapulted to stardom, would that change how I felt when I was with them? I don't effin' know! And I don't like that I don't know and I don't like that I might feel different. This is assuming that they are no different. And I like to think that my closest friends would not uncharacteristically become complete assholes just because they got famous. I like to think I can pick 'em better than that. I think famous people who are assholes were assholes when they were nobody.

I guess it all comes down to my concern that I'm shallow. And I am shallow, lord knows. But am I that shallow? Is there no water in the pool? I have to constantly remind myself: these people are just actors. ACTORS! Hell, I'm an actor! And honestly, many many actors are as bad as the stereotypes say they are. They are dumb, they are hollow, they are selfish. Not all of them, certainly. But it's a weird career choice, one often selected by the ego troubled. I must just remember that. It should be my mantra. "He's just an actor, he's just an actor. He's no different from my dentist." But then again, my dentist reminds me of Errol Flynn and has freakishly famous patients. He might not be a good example. I have an odd reverence for dentists.

Clearly troubled,


Friday, February 22, 2008

Carb Loading

I was just on youtube.com watching clip after clip of David Gates. Now I feel all, I dunno, nostalgic, sad, sweet, cozy.

If they were playing music in the labor room when I was born, it really must have been Bread. I don't think there's another sound that conjures my very earliest memories so strongly.

I didn't even know it until recently. I bummed some music from my brother-in-law's collection, as is my wont. I remember thinking, hmm, seems to me I like Bread (toast is maybe one of my favorite foods, but that's a different post all together). So I'm on the red-eye a couple of months later and I can't sleep because beforehand I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to sleep, and well, there you have it. I thought, iPod, let's give that the old college try. So I curled up in an impossible ball against the window, dialed through my song selections, saw The Best of Bread, and selected it. Sigh. It was dark, the plane was quiet except that it was incredibly loud. And suddenly amorphous memories of my first years came swirling into my brain as David Gates sang "Make it with You." I could have cried. And then "Everything I Own," which an old boyfriend of mine used to sing super plaintively and I always loved it, but without that David Gates voice, I didn't truly recognize it.

On the airplane I swam in and out of consciousness and memories and comfort. In fact, I suspect that's where the roots of this blog, um, took, uh, root. I've talked to you about nostalgia. Sorta. I'm not always crazy lost in thoughts of my youth, I swear. And again, I say, I'm not enamored of youth; it's overrated. But it is a nice place to visit. And I've especially been enjoying visiting pre-youth, before I have any solid memories, just flashes. Driving down leafy winding roads to Elizabeth Lake where we swam every day in the summer. The car radio, I believe, planted these song seeds deep in my brain. Many of the memories Bread brings back are from driving. CKLW, the soundtrack of my life, summer early 70s, Detroit suburbs. Driving to my mom's salon where she got her weekly bouffant. Driving to my grandparents' house. Interestingly, summer memories, never winter. Winter, fall, and spring seem to have their very own memory triggers.

You wanna know what started all this? I was watching "The Goodbye Girl." Remember the song? As soon as the credits rolled and that insanely distinctive voice filled the room, I was back with my sister Megan mooning over Richard Dreyfuss.

Well then, what do I want you to take away from all this? I guess I want you to have flashes of memory yourself. Not so much memories of people or events, but of ambiance, of feel, of warm wind through the car window, feeling snug with your big siblings around you, soft lake water washing up around your toes.

Oh yeah, and apparently Quinn Cummings has a blog. And she lives in my old neighborhood. Thought that was kind of cool.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On Penmanship

I'm vaguely obsessed with handwriting. Not in a graphology sort of way (although this guy I dated for seconds in college dabbled in that and told me I must be a crazy person because my first name slanted hard to the right and my last name was straight up and down. Apparently it's not supposed to do that. He's a movie producer now. And chubby.), just a "golly that's beautiful" way.

My handwriting's always been crappy. My mom's is lovely and feminine and simple. My oldest sister's is a fancier version of it, and my other sister's is a simpler version of it. My dad was told that being left-handed was evil, so they made him write with his right hand. Needless to say, his writing is not wildly legible. My brother's writing looks like a tiny tiny chicken with inky feet minced across the page. He's left-handed like my dad, but grew up in a modern age in which it was not considered a mark of Satan. (Interestingly, he rotates the page so much to write, it's basically vertical, and when he writes in Japanese, which he can actually do, he writes it horizontally. Wacky.)

I wanted to write like my mom and sisters, but alas, no, I wrote like a boy. A young boy. A young retarded boy. (Sorry if that's not PC. I swear, some of my best friends are retarded.) And instead of teaching me how to write better, my teachers just gave me low grades. I'm not sure in what grades one was actually given letter marks for handwriting instead of just checks in a box. But I got Cs. They didn't even notice that I was holding the pencil wrong! It wasn't until high school that a friend pointed it out. Sheesh!

I started to describe to you just now how I was holding my pencil, when I remembered this is a visual medium. So I grabbed my camera. My hands are actually quite beautiful (she said, humbly), but they appear to be rather nicked up (and chewed up) in these pictures. I chew my cuticles, okay! You wanna stop reading my blog because of it? Fine! I also chew the inside of my cheeks, which is giving me wrinkles, but my boyfriend chews his cheeks, too, which makes him perfect in every way and means I don't have to stop doing it. So there.

Here's how you're supposed to hold a pen (I don't know where that Advicor pen came from. I'm not advertising for it.):

Here's how I was holding my pen for most of my life:

Ya think a teacher might have noticed that I wasn't even holding my writing implement correctly! (or that I was chewing my damn face and fingers off!)

My elementary school principal, Mrs. Kjolhede (pronounced CO-heed) (you can not imagine how far and wide I've looked for the spelling of that name. It's actually sidetracked me from finishing this for about 24 hours. It began some serious "where are they now" thoughts which may lead to some future blogs, you lucky bastards.) had exquisite handwriting. Epic in its beauty. She told my mom that she'd always hated her penmanship and had taken a correspondence course in order to relearn how to write. Ah, how this intrigued me. Even at eight I knew I was going to have to someday take my own cursive education in hand.

In high school I had this substitute teacher. Don't know his name. Balding. Beard. Professorial. Only had him a couple of times. But one day I glanced at his notes to our teacher on a legal pad. Oh my god! Dude was writing in copperplate! It was a dream.

Let me emphasize, not calligraphy, copperplate. I wanted to write like that! It was only when I became an adult that I realized it would be ridiculous to write like that. Can you imagine? That man was certainly eccentric. And I'd always have to write with a fountain pen, which would make me inky because I'm the kind of girl who gets inky.

So one day several years ago I was reading Martha Stewart Living, which is basically like reading an encyclopedia (in a good way) and that dear woman told me about books on penmanship! That article would have been in there quite a while ago because I'm five or six years behind on my MSL. And I was poor at the time, so the books (which I couldn't find in a store) were on my Amazon wish list for a few years.

You know why this came up? I was watching "Woman of the Year" with Katherine Hepburn and toward the end she picks up a cookbook which has been inscribed to her by Spencer Tracy's character's mom (can you imagine Spencer Tracy having a mom?). The inscription is so simply and beautifully penned. It reminded me that my studies had gone by the wayside, so I hopped up and got my book and started practicing for the first time in years while I watched the TV.

I originally wrote my "before" sample on January 8, 2002, according to my workbook. The fabulous "after" I wrote on February 16, 2002. It's really heavenly. I'd scan it to show you, but that smacks of effort and I already took pictures of my hand, what more do you want from me?

Sigh. I really do want to always have beautiful penmanship, even when I'm scribbling off a quick note (which is pretty much all the writing I do these days). I must practice. And I really must practice because I have some issues. When my young friend Sigg was diagnosed with dysgraphia I was like, wait a minute, I have that! I do not have it bad, and it only barely hampered me in school. As an adult I've noticed it when taking classes. It rears its ugly head in Dialect class (remember, I'm a voiceover artist) where it's hard enough taking notes, but when your hand is a nutcase, it's even harder. It's like my hand has schizophrenia. It hears voices. I leave out letters but then just as quickly go back and squeeze them in. And cursive generally isn't even an option because as my pen sweeps (my pen never actually sweeps) through the connector my hand can't tell it which way to turn next. Silly hand.

And why does this matter? (to me, certainly not to you. Can't believe you're still reading. Fool) I do believe penmanship says something about you. Don't get me wrong, I think what it generally says about people is incorrect. It's not a great way on which to base a first impression, but we still really notice it. At my high school reunion Buffy Schechter reminded me that I often complimented her handwriting and wanted to use it as a model. And I always had a girl-crush on Buffy which may well have begun with her penmanship. And she was lovely (still is) and kind and seemed very grown up.

My dad is a lawyer. He's very good at appeals work and therefore is assigned a lot of it by The State. So he's not a criminal lawyer, but he gets a lot of mail from prisoners. And for some reason that I'm sure sociologists have studied, without fail prisoners have great handwriting. In fact, it's almost girlish. Very neat. Round. In pencil, 'cause that's what they're allowed. Needless to say, it breaks my heart, but that's beside the point. Criminals (and my dad assures me they are criminals) have better writing than me!

Okay. I'm pretty sure that's every thought I've ever had about handwriting. Isn't blogging something? It's amazing how it allows nitwits to indulge themselves. I'll go stir my Cream of Wheat now and go practice my penmanship. I think I need a fatter pen. I think I'm a fatter pen kind of girl.

I am awfully fond of you,


Saturday, February 16, 2008


Okay, I'm pretty sure none of these are original thoughts, but I finally have to vent about spam.

I don't have a penis. I DON'T HAVE A PENIS! And if I did, I assure you I'd be perfectly happy with it. And if it was having issues, I'd talk to my doctor, thank you very much, not YOU!

I understand that your subject headings have to be crafty, but why must your message content be written by chimps?

We don't have any mutual friends. And I'm a girl, by the way. A GIRL! I DON'T HAVE A PENIS!

Do you really really think that I'm going to fall for email FROM MYSELF! Do you think I think I'm sending myself important email?

I AM NOT AN IDIOT! Nor do I have a penis. Have I mentioned my complete lack of penis?

One time I got spam from my dead great aunt. And no, that didn't fool me either. Although I am assuming that was just a huge coincidence. Although honestly, how common a name is Mitzi? (speaking of that, once my caller ID said I'd missed a call from Rab. Irwin some middle initial Groner. Rabbi Groner from Detroit?? Why would my childhood Rabbi be calling me? I called my parents. Turned out my Rabbi Irwin Groner had a different middle initial. It was just a wrong number. A different Rabbi Irwin Groner. Weird.)

And the thing is, what do these people really hope to get from me? I suppose some are fishing for identity stuff. But all that spam, are they having success with that?

I'm against the death penalty for any reason. But when I'm King of the World, I will glory in hypocrisy. I will put spammers to death. I might even wear a penis suit when I do it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Sometimes, when I glance in the mirror, I have existential moments. All right, I don't know if they're existential moments! And I'm pretty sure if I looked it up I wouldn't understand the explanation, so I ain't gonna!

Today at the gym I was doing the classic stand-and-hold-your-foot-behind-you-at-your-tush stretch in the privacy of the hallway to the women's locker room. The hallway is mirrored on one side. I checked myself out to make sure my knee was pointing straight down. Then I looked at my face. Perfectly happy with what I saw. A bit sweaty, no make-up, but I'm extremely fond of myself so I was pleased. But I'm not always sure that's how I picture myself. Do you ever look in the mirror real hard? Like if you look hard enough into your eyes you'll really truly see yourself? I wasn't standing close to the mirror, so I wasn't eye to eye. And I am NOT a deep thinker. But I'm looking at that chickie in the mirror and trying to connect the thoughts in my head to the face I'm looking at.

Maybe that's not in any way clear. That's why I don't teach philosophy. But I think I would like to expose you to some of my (dum da dum!) early poetry! And by early? I'm talkin' 11 years old, baby! I would never torture you with the DRECK I wrote in college.

Now here we have a selection from "10 Poems" by me, Language Arts, 2nd hour, Mrs. Resnick's class. I'm pretty dang sure that was 1981. It's typed on onion skin paper. Corrasable Bond.

Have you ever sat down and thought?
Thought about, if you were born to someone other you would not have been you.
The only thing real about you is your mind and your brain, the rest is just
an outer layer, a shell surrounding you.
You are just like anybody else except your mind and your brain . . .

I'm pretty sure these "deep thoughts" came from looking in the mirror just like this morning. I don't remember having angst during this early period of "thinking," just, hmm, wonderment?

Shall I torture you with another? I shall. Because three out of ten of these things are in this introspective vein and that fascinates me. And it's my blog.

Some of these poems have check marks next to them that the teacher made. This next one doesn't. I think that suggests she thought it was crap.

It's your birthday, is it really, or is it just a made up thought?
Are you really older, has a year really gone by, or is it just the
power of suggestion?
You may be older on the outside, but you're not on the inside.

Am I torturing you? Come on, don't you think these are vaguely impressive for an 11 year old? I'll have you know Iris Resnick gave me an A+!

One more and then I'll let you go.

What lies in our inner self?
Do we have love in our heart or hatred?
How do we hear?
How do we speak?
Is there someone inside us pulling our strings?
When our strings break, will we live on?

Now that is some heavy queer shit, huh? Don't worry, I believe I was generally a goofball most of my childhood. When MacDonald's introduced their QLT (Quarter pounder, Lettuce, and Tomato), my family started calling me that, insisting it stood for queer little tyke.

Maybe this isn't a good post to come back from vacation with. Maybe you'll never come back. Maybe you never came back anyway. Maybe I'm just whistling in the dark. Maybe I shouldn't think so hard.



Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Not a Post

I'm going to Boston. And I'm not taking you with me. It's not that I don't love you, I just gotta pack light.

See you next week,


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Welcome to Glendale

A reader (I have readers!) requested another tale of my neighborhood. Unfortunately no one’s been killed, as far as I know. Okay, that was a terrible thing to say. I only said it because I thought it would be funny and now I feel kind of bad. But not bad enough to erase it.

I can tell you about Glendale’s fascism. I don’t actually know if it is fascism because I’m too lazy to look up the actual definition, but I like to call Glendale a fascist state because it sounds good and it’s all about the sound, baby.

I didn’t even realize I was buying a house in Glendale until I noticed the trash cans were mauve and not black. And then I was a little embarrassed, because apparently I’m a huge snob and there’s something, just, I don’t know, uncool about having to say you live in Glendale. I don’t even have a problem living in the San Fernando Valley, because I happily lived deep in The Valley for years, back in the day. But there is nothing geographical that divides Los Angeles from where I live in the southern tip of Glendale; to go from Atwater Village (in LA) to my neighborhood (Adams Hill) you just cross a road. How's that a valley? And, since I live on the border, I feel like I’m misleading people if I just say I live in Glendale. They ask me something about my city and I can’t answer it and I look like a dang fool. I work in Los Angeles, I eat in Los Angeles, I shop in Los Angeles, my friends live in Los Angeles. Geez, no wonder nobody talks to me in Glendale.

Now what am I going on about? Mm, fascist state. Glendale has rules, but they don’t tell you when you move in. Now when I moved in my house had some simple, attractive landscaping. What I didn’t know was that the sprinklers had been off during escrow so by the time I got there, the plants weren’t happy. And the grass had clearly had its day. I figured, ya know, we’re going into the rainy season, this lawn needs work, why waste water and money on it? Why? WHY? Because one day you will get a terrifying letter in the mail telling you you’re in violation of everything Glendale has ever dictated! And you have 30 days to correct it, or woe be unto you!

For example: "Glendale requires that all front yard areas be fully landscaped and maintained in a neat, orderly manner. At least fifty two percent (52%) of the front yard must be landscaped. All yards and parkways must be fully landscaped with live plant materials, irrigated and maintained in good condition at all times. All trees and shrubs should be trimmed away from any building or structures; the property should be free of weeds and overgrown vegetation. Paving in the front yard area is limited to driveways and walkways."

And the thing is, how does the city know if you’re in violation? Sure, they conduct inspections, but I think they only do that once a year. Generally, YOUR NEIGHBORS TURN YOU IN! Nice. Neighborhood. To live in. And you gotta believe me, my neighbors turned me in. With a vengeance. And when it took me three tries (and a couple years) to get a landscaper who actually did the job (and did it beautifully, god bless the dreamy Nick Tan), I assure you, my neighbors’ vengeance was mighty.

When the last bit of thyme was nestled against dove gray flagstone, my neighbors began pouring out of their houses to introduce themselves and say how lovely the garden is and blah blah blah and this that and the other thing. And I smiled and said thank you, but in my head I shook my fist in their faces and thought, “You lousy piece of crap, I’ve lived here three years! Where are my Jell-O molds!

I’m gonna go get coffee now. In ATWATER!

Love you,