“actors are agents of change…”

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to act.

I recall staying up late to watch movies on TV with my mom – GYPSY and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS are the two that stand out in my memories (and if that doesn’t explain a hell of a lot about me, I don’t know what does). I was mesmerized by the ability of human beings like myself to create entirely new people. It thrilled me.

Of course, later I found about writers, directors, and all of the other amazing crew people who work hard to create other worlds. But that initial exposure to movies drew me to actors. I knew I wanted to do what they did. I didn’t know how, but damn it, I was going to figure it out.

Continue reading ““actors are agents of change…””

well, that is…unexpected…

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Photo Credit: Sergio Pellegrino.

In the past week, I have found out something new and surprising about myself.

But first, some background.

Like oh so many people, I have loved music for as long as I can remember. I mean, Carol means “music or joyful sound,” so it’s not like I had much choice in the matter. But still, music is something that has always been a very strong part of my makeup. I wake up every morning with a song running through my head.

I’ve taken various music classes before. I’ve tried to learn clarinet and violin (did better on the latter than the former, but my neck is too jacked up to take it up again), gave the keyboard the ol’ college try (and I still occasionally play with that keyboard – I should probably get it back to CuteNerdBoy and get my own, dammit). I participated in chorus classes in school, recently gave the JPL Chorus a whirl (and probably will again), and last year I was involved with the world premiere of Alice Through the Wormhole at Caltech, in which I played three roles. I was so excited to actually be in a musical, even if I didn’t have any solos.

Frankly, I’m happy to not have had any real solos. My voice can be very erratic. One day it will sound perfectly nice to my ears and the next day I’ll be caterwauling off-key with no idea on how to get back on-key. It’s very frustrating. So much so that I’m finally taking honest-to-goodness singing lessons.

I’m taking two during the week: a one-on-one class through the Altadena Academy of Music and a singer’s workshop led by my talented and lovely friend Brenda Varda, who wrote Alice Through the Wormhole. I’m definitely noticing a real improvement in my voice, which makes me so happy. Both of my instructors have commented on how well I’m coming along. Brenda – who I’ve known since September 2014 – has mentioned how even my speaking voice seems to have much more vocal range than it did lo, those many months ago. I just have to work on the whole “singing with confidence in front of people” thing, which always throws me off.

In my almost 50 years on this planet, I’ve always heard my voice as alto. And because my speaking voice seems to be a wee bit low, no one has ever contradicted me. Until last week.

Elisabeth (my instructor at the Altadena Academy of Music) said that there is no way that I’m an alto. With the work we’ve done over the last month, my vocal range has broadened.

I’m a mezzo soprano.

Me. The person who always heard her own voice as not much higher than Kathleen Turner’s, has been pegged as a mezzo soprano. When I told Brenda on Sunday, she was not surprised. Maybe that’s why she kept trying to get me to stop singing so low during “Alice.”

It may not be much to most people, but I gotta say, it blows my mind.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to completely reorder my life to fit in this new piece of information…

a real, honest-to-goodness hike?

Yes, I’m a bad blog mommy. I’ve long been a bad blog mommy. This should be no surprise to anyone. Hell, many of the links on the right are almost a decade old. I really should update them. Anywho. Moving on.

So after many years of not hiking (unless one wants to count urban hiking, i.e. walking around the city – which I do), last year I went on a hike with my friend Sarriah (who is my usual weekend urban hiking buddy). I couldn’t quite finish the Eaton Canyon hike to the falls due to slippery rocks, but we got pretty close before we had to turn back.Unfortunately, I have no photos to commemorate the day, unlike the hike I took with my friend Boychik on this past Saturday, this time on the Bear Canyon Loop Trail, not far from Lake Elsinore. Again, we couldn’t finish, but this time was due to time constraints – we started a little too late, it was a challenging hike, even for Boychik, and we didn’t want to risk being out there when night fell. We got in about 2.5 miles, so that was fine. (Just as well, as I’d already run 3.72 miles earlier that day due to my Zombies, Run! 5K training app.)

This time, however, I got some photos!

This is the wide part of the trail.
This is the wide part of the trail.

This part of the trail is a bit more narrow. And there are rocks.
This part of the trail is a bit more narrow. And there are rocks.

Lookit my dirty shoes perched on a rock! I need new shoes.
Lookit my dirty shoes perched on a rock! I need new shoes.

Moar Rocks!
Moar Rocks!

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Setting sun shining on the mountains.
Setting sun shining on the mountains.

Slowly setting sun.
Slowly setting sun.

Sun almost gone! Looks like a sand painting.
Sun almost gone! Looks like a sand painting.

The next day Sarriah and I embarked on our almost-weekly urban hike. Our goal each week is to find a coffee shop we’ve never tried before, hopefully in an unfamiliar part of the city. We then agree to meet somewhere about 1-2 miles away from the coffee place and walk there, then walk back. Sometimes we take the MetroRail, sometimes we each drive to our meeting place, and sometimes we’re just lazy/tired from a long week and decide to stick close to either of our homes. Most of the time we try to be adventurous. We swap weeks as to who finds the place and decides where to meet, which helps to vary the places we find, since I tend to find stuff in the San Gabriel Valley or near Metro Gold Line stops (what with me living in Pasadena), whereas she will often find places near her close-to-downtown-LA neighborhood or in Hollywood, Koreatown, etc.

This week she chose the Beachwood Cafe, a place we’d walked by before, but had never been to. We met at her place, drove to the northern part of Los Feliz, then walked up Beachwood Drive. It made for a nice – and somewhat steep, but not as steep as the hike the previous day – walk, lasting over five miles total.

This is the view from Beachwood Drive. And no, you can't get to the sign from this road. It takes some serious hiking to get to the sign.
This is the view from Beachwood Drive. And no, you can’t get to the sign from this road. It takes some serious hiking to get to the sign.

Welcome to Hollywoodland!
Welcome to Hollywoodland!

This is the original Hollywoodland Real Estate office. It is currently owned by Hollywoodland Realty.
This is the original Hollywoodland Real Estate office. It is currently owned by Hollywoodland Realty.

Beachwood Cafe Menu. Aren't you excited?
Beachwood Cafe Menu. Aren’t you excited?

Pretty good meal, but I had to ask for a second piece of toast. What?
Pretty good meal, but I had to ask for a second piece of toast. What?

Butterflies in the window of Beachwood Cafe.
Butterflies in the window of Beachwood Cafe.

This is ye olde timey time switch. I have no idea what that is, but I liked the look of it.
This is ye olde timey time switch. I have no idea what that is, but I liked the look of it.

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And when returning back to Sarriah's car, we ducked into a used everything shop. CDs, DVDs, books, LPs. There may have been cassettes and 8 track tapes somewhere, but it wasn't obvious.
And when returning back to Sarriah’s car, we ducked into a used everything shop. CDs, DVDs, books, LPs. There may have been cassettes and 8 track tapes somewhere, but it wasn’t obvious.

Sunday was finished with hanging out with CuteFilmNerd and Boychik, showing CFN how to use Outlook to its fullest potential in preparation of a new job assignment, introducing him to The Slaw Dogs and getting dessert at Real Food Daily. A very busy – yet physically productive – weekend, all told.

check her for a concussion…

Seriously, that’s got to be the only explanation for my recent foray into 5K training.

It can’t have anything to do with my new awesome app Zombies, Run! 5K Training by the cool folks over at Zombies, Run!. This app – which, again, has nothing to do with my sudden desire to move faster than a saunter – has a story built into the 8 week training. One that you can only unveil, bit by bit, as you complete the missions (aka training sessions).

Nor can this weird need to keep up the running (or, in my case, rather slow jog) have anything to do with the endorphins that flood my system (kinda like they did back when I was training for a half-marathon, before the days of too many injuries and the onset of asthma).

Nope, I must’ve hit my head recently and, due to the trauma, can’t remember doing so. It’s the only explanation. You should probably take me to the hospital immediately.

Or, you know, maybe in about 8 weeks. I’m sure I’ll be okay until then.

numfar! do the dance of joy!

A day after deeply disappointing all sane Americans by effectively gutting the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court of the United States has sent down two key decisions helping along marriage equality: striking down DOMA and declining to uphold the bigoted Prop. 8, allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California.

It’s not surprising that SCOTUS chose to sidestep marriage equality on a Federal level, but after the huge backward step of Prop. 8, it’s another step in the right direction. And, truth be told, as heinous as Prop. 8 is, I firmly believe that the huge national media coverage it (and its out-of-state backers) received helped to move marriage equality forward in other states. It – and the subsequent lawsuits – brought marriage equality to the foreground in a way that nothing else had.

So today, my friends, I join Numfar in the Dance of Joy!

like an old friend in a new (to me) dress…

Much as I love listening to music while working out, sometimes I can get a wee bit bored of it. This morning I tried something new: listening to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I had never heard the radio series before. I’m so glad I am now.

While I am very familiar with the novel, I’ve played the the video game and I was one of maybe three people who enjoyed the movie (it was my first real exposure to Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell and Bill Nighy — all of whom I adore, so I can never really diss it), it’s so wonderful to hear where it all began.

If you love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and you haven’t heard the genesis of Douglas Adams’ brilliant series, I highly recommend that you pick it up. You will not be sorry.

music to kick ass by

Like many people, I find that I need music when doing damned near anything. I find it especially motivating when trying to do things around the house or dealing with intensely stressful and busy days at work (like this whole month, for instance).

Yesterday, I finally put together a playlist on my Android phone: Music to Kick Ass By.

For me, that just means music with a driving beat that always manages to get my ample butt in gear and, well, kick some productive ass.

The attached photos show the 37 songs I’ve placed in my playlist, mostly still just in alphabetical order for now (though “This is Gallifrey/Vale Decem” segues really well into “I Am The Doctor.”) I’ll take the time arrange them in a more aurally pleasing order when I get more than a moment to do so.

So tell me, dear readers, what music gets you motivated to kick ass? Are there any songs that you might think would be a fine addition to my playlist?

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fickle cats…

When I moved in with HotScienceGuy, I brought two cats: grumpy old man Edison and energetic little kitten Vin (a story I must tell here soon). HSG has his own cats, so our feline household grew to a number which is manageable, but still a wee bit more than I’m used to dealing with.

The cats are, for the most part, tolerating each other, at the very least and, in Vin’s case, actually bonding with others, which is nice to see. She’s turning into that charming yet annoying little kid that you kind of wish would leave you alone, but you can’t help but be caught up in her enthusiasm.

The funny thing is, when HSG is hanging out on one level of the condo and I’m hanging out on the other level, his cats invariably end up staying with him and my cats stay with me.

We may be a combined household but, for the moment, we’re still not a blended household.

Vin, Loki, Hufflepuff and Edison
Vin, Loki, Hufflepuff and Edison

wanna write, wanna write, wanna write…

…but come up short when presented with a blank screen. Gah!

Much as I love Sondheim, I can no longer agree with his sentiment of, “White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite – so many possibilities.” (The last line in my favorite musical of all time, Sunday in the Park with George.)

This is, of course, why I’ve been such a crappy blogger the last few years. And I miss looking forward to the blank page and/or screen. But what’s a permanently blocked girl to do? Seems like I’ve written about my tendencies for blocks ad nauseum, so obviously writing about it isn’t knocking anything loose. Blech.

Anywho, it’s a new year (says Mistress Pays-Attention-To-Calendars) and I’m starting it off in a pretty stellar way: living with HotScienceGuy.

I moved in at the beginning of December and, as of today, most of my stuff is still in the garage because the condo is small and we have no idea where anything is going. Some of it is going to be gotten rid of via Craigslist and some of it will be permanently stored in the garage. Thankfully it’s a two car garage, so I can park my car in there – he doesn’t have a car by choice and we live within walking distance of his workplace, so we’ll probably be a one car household for the foreseeable future.

We’re still doing the, “What’s the best way to live together without wanting to commit homicide?” dance that two stubborn people set in their ways tend to do, but for the most part it’s going well and I’m very happy I made the move and am living with my man. And it’s soooo nice to be living closer to JPL – I can be there in about fifteen minutes or less. Yay!

Christmas Day was spent with his father, step-mother and about fifteen of his extended family members at his father’s place near San Jose, with Boxing Day at his mom’s place with his mom, step-father and half-siblings (they’re about twenty years younger) about forty-five minutes away from his dad’s place. Though I was a tad bit overwhelmed at times and had to dash to the restroom for a moment alone, I really had a good time. His family all seem to pretty cool and, from what I could tell, I executed no horrific faux pas that would make them hiss at the sight of me, so I count that as a win.

Unfortunately, the schedules of my own family precluded us from heading to Fresno, so I’ll have to find a way to see them this year before the holidays roll around again.

A serious ankle sprain in November put me out of commission for awhile, right as I was starting to move things from my old East Hollywood apartment to HSG’s condo, so that delayed things a bit, but I was up and around enough by Thanksgiving to invite Sarriah and CuteFilmNerd to join HSG and me for T-Day dinner at Doomie’s Home Cookin’ and dessert/drinks back at the apartment, which was very nice.

Of course more things happened in 2012 – things I never got around to writing about – but I figure that’ll do for now. The writing joints are creaky and the muscles are stiff, so I’ll ease back into it so I don’t snap off a limb in the process.

Hope y’all have an amazing 2013!

we’re NASA and we know it…

Looking at the unfinished entries sitting in my Drafts and wondering why the hell I never finished this one back in August:

Damn right, we’re NASA and we know it!