Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Formerly Phread Politely Suggested I Do This

Four jobs you have had in your life:
BYU Catering waitress (slave)
7th grade drama teacher
Vocal coach
Violin teacher

Four movies you could watch over and over:
Waiting For Guffman
Persuasion
Amadeus
Crimes and Misdemeanors

Four places you've lived:

Provo, UT
Montreal, PQ
Manhattan, NY
San Diego, CA

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Project Runway
24
Arrested Development
Masterpiece Theatre

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
Ogunquit, Maine


Snowbird, Utah


Kauai, Hawaii


Galway, Ireland


Four of your favorite foods:
Chocolate pudding
Pizza (mushroom and olive)
Popcorn
My mom's chicken soup

Four places you’d rather be right now:
In my very own hot tub (this one, as long as we're dreaming)


Provence, France


Hyde Park (if "right now" could also mean "in the spring")


With my nephews


Four sites you visit daily:
cnn.com
actorsequity.org
google
cuteoverload.com

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Up, up, and away



I went flying last night.

Actually, it was early this morning. My sleeping habits are all messed up. After my surgery I stayed up late, and later, and finally so late that late turned to early and now I'm up to watch the sun rise. At dawn, I go to bed. This is going to be rather unhelpful when I return to work next week.

But back to the flying. When I was but a wee lass, I used to pray for the gift of flight. I'd had a few flying dreams, and they were amazing. I'd lift a tentative foot off the ground, then both, and soon I'd be gliding through the air with the greatest of ease, sailing over my house, watching my street grow smaller and smaller, feeling the brush of wispy clouds. In the daylight, I'd jump higher and higher on our trampoline, my arms outstretched, eyes closed, focusing all my thoughts on asking God to grant my wish. My dramatic nature manifested early.

Ultimately, I gave up on my prayers for flight, and more practical prayers ("please bless that I'll get a good grade on this test even though I haven't really studied for it") replaced them. Lately, I'd forgotten all about my flying dreams. Until early this morning, when I feel asleep and flew away.

It was a little harder to get off the ground this time. I was scared, and doubtful. I was worried about my knee. I tried several times, only to come back to earth a few seconds later. But I tried again, and I was aloft. I soared low for a while, skimming over the apartment complex pool, gliding over the sidewalk. And then, slowly, I began to ascend, and soon I was looking down on the California mountains, shivering in the rushing air. I spun, I dipped, I slowed and hovered. Peaceful and light, I looked down on the world below.

Have you ever gone flying at 6am? If not, I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Play's The Thing



Once in a while, as I'm standing outside an audition room listening to the Shakespearean shouts of the actor inside, it strikes me:
Acting is REALLY weird.

I hope that this realization won't hit me as I'm standing in front of a director performing a monologue. It hasn't so far, and I pray it never does. That would be most inconvenient.

I have an actor friend who can cry at the drop of a hat. You say "Cry!", and fifteen seconds later she'll have a trembling lower lip, and big, fat, crocodile tears flowing down her cheeks. It's a great party trick, and a coveted skill. And a little bizarre.

I think the oddness of acting has become more apparent to me now that I live with someone who is not an actor. He takes it all in stride, mind you, and is very supportive, but it's got to be strange hearing:

"Don't mind me, honey - I'm just going to go into the bedroom for the next 20 minutes and pretend to be a Shakespearean queen on trial for her life. Then I'll come out and make you dinner."

One of the strangest realizations I've had on stage is that it's completely possible for an actor (at least this actor) to slip into autopilot. You know how sometimes you're driving somewhere and you realize that you're heading the wrong direction because you've been thinking about something else? (Please tell me I'm not the only one who's done that.) Well, during the third month of the run of a play that I didn't really like all that much to begin with, I left the stage and realized that I couldn't really remember anything that had happened onstage for the past 5 minutes. Had I even said my lines? No one was looking at me funny, so I must have at least gone through the motions. And then there was the time I realized I was composing my grocery list whilst staring into the eyes of my onstage love interest. And also the time that I missed saying a line during a rehearsal because I was too busy thinking about how sad my character was. Can you say self-indulgent? I know I can.

Another thing that's weird about acting is the realization that your fellow actor has just skipped sixteen pages of dialogue and several major plot points, and is now looking at you like a deer caught in headlights, just waiting for you to make up a monologue that will somehow get the entire play back on track.

After grad school, I found that I couldn't always function well in the real world. For two years I had eaten, breathed, and slept acting (the latter thanks to the often weekly actor's nightmare). At my first interview for a temp agency, I had to stop myself from doing a monologue. And listing "dialects" as an office skill.

Also, I think the weirdness may be rubbing off on my husband. He, a mathematics/computer guy, told me recently that he'd had an actor's nightmare. He was pushed onto a stage, didn't know his lines, and couldn't find the script. No math or Macs involved.

He's still not able to cry on cue, but we're working on that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sonnet CXVI (Happy Valentine's Day!)


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-- The Bard

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Isn't It Romantic?

Several years ago during the week of February 14th, a national TV station advertised two films the network had chosen for Valentine's Day. The ads for the movies proclaimed: "Two of the most romantic movies of all time!" Their choices? Doctor Zhivago and Camelot. My problem? Both of the romances in these films involve adultery. Guinevere is married to Arthur, but has an affair with Lancelot. The plot of Zhivago is a bit more complicated (it being based on Russian literature and all), but, if you haven't seen it, the good doctor's romance is not with his wife. The affairs in these films have something else in common: they both end tragically. Guinevere and Lancelot are (Spoiler Alert!) discovered, she almost gets burned at the stake, and King Arthur goes to war against his wife and (former) best friend. Zhivago and Lara don't fare too well either: her husband commits suicide when he discovers their affair, and Zhivago dies before he and his lover are reunited.

So, why the blog entry? They're just movies, after all. But movies both reflect and influence the culture in which they are made, and I find it disheartening and a bit disturbing that someone decided (and others agreed) that these movies should represent romance for all who chose to tune in. And, of course, these films are not the only ones which represent romantic love in this way. Remember The Bridges of Madison County? First a book (and national bestseller), and then a wildly popular movie. About adultery. And every time I turn on the radio I hear the same ad for Brokeback Mountain, praising it as "one of the greatest love stories of all time." The two men who comprise the love story have intense feelings for each other, to be sure, but they also have wives (and children) whom they betray. But society kept them apart! But they fell in love before they met their wives! But their love was too strong to be denied! I'm sorry, but, gay or straight, it doesn't seem like such a great love story to me.

To be fair, the writers and others involved with the films were most likely trying to do something a little more complex than simply telling a romantic tale. Whether or not it was an intended point of focus, both films illustrate how destructive adultery can be. But they certainly aren't advertised that way, and the majority of society would probably not rush out to see a film lauded as "an interesting take on the destructive powers of adultery!"

So, why does society find these "romances" so compelling? Wanting something we can't have, as well as the thrill of the chase, seem inherently human characteristics. The chivalric code (the origin of much of our culture's romantic traditions) dictated that knights worshipped their (often married) ladies from afar, ensuring that their relationships would NEVER be consummated, and therefore the pining could endure ad infinitum. As an actress, I've watched as (far too often) married leading men fall in love with their leading ladies (and vice versa), knowing next to nothing about their brand new beloved besides how good it feels to hold them center stage in front of a full house. And I've watched them just as easily fall out of infatuation when the play ends and reality sets in. And I think that's what I'm getting at. It's easy to fall in love with a fantasy, because it's just that: a fantasy. Guinevere and Lancelot, Zhivago and Lara, the lovers in Bridges and Brokeback - none of them settled down to day-to-day life with the object of their desire. Their love for each other was never subjected to the trials and tests of domesticity. Would their relationships have endured if it had been? And would there be nearly as many people wanting to see the films if they'd depicted happy, domestic life instead of a tragically romantic ending?

One of my favorite musicals is Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods. The first half of the play follows fairy tales we're all familiar with, including the stories of Cinderella and Rapunzel. The second half explores what happens after the "happily ever after." We discover that both Cinderella and Rapunzel's princes enjoy the thrill of the chase more than their marriages, and once they've settled down with the women for whom they once pined (in a brilliantly hilarious song), they're off to pursue new damsels in distress (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, respectively). Cinderella realizes that she was swept off her feet by someone she doesn't really know, and, when she asks him why he's pursuing someone else, he responds: "I was raised to be charming, not sincere." As they separate, he says: "I will always love the maiden that ran away." She replies: "And I the faraway prince."

All this being typed, I'm as girly as the next gal when it comes to being the recipient of romantic gestures from my spouse. I love flowers, heart-felt cards, and surprise anniversary getaways. I absolutely believe that romance is a vital part of a happy marriage. But I also think it's romantic when my hubby shares his very last french fry with me, or when, after I do something that I know annoys him, he simply smiles and continues helping me load the dishwasher. Perhaps Lancelot and Guinevere would have done the same, if given the chance, but the depiction of romance our society seems to want is more "I would DIE for you!" than "I will do the DISHES for you!" For me, a much more romantic statement than "I would die for you" is "I will live with you." Living with someone requires work and compromise. To be done successfully and happily, it requires growth. And I know I'm most likely preaching to the choir here (if you've made it this far), so I'll end with a plug for more films and plays and books about true romance: about love that deepens with time and trials, and grows stronger through mutual desire, commitment and appreciation. Not that it needs to depict all the minutiae of domestic life ('cause how boring would that be?), but perhaps "one of the greatest love stories of all time" doesn't necessarily have to involve one or both parties leaving their spouse or dying tragically because of their romance.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering: my pick for Valentine viewing? Sense and Sensibility. If I can convince Steve to watch it with me.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Skimpy

After wrestling with the generic-brand cling wrap this evening as it clung to everything except the dish I was trying to cover (eventually admitting defeat and commencing the oft-futile search for a piece of tupperware with a matching lid), I decided that at last the time had come for this bargain shopper to fork over an extra dollar next time so that my cling wrap will actually cling and wrap as it should. These are the lessons we learn in life. Lessons learned the hard way. Lessons about things on which Thou Shalt Not Skimp.

My list is as follows:

1) Chocolate. We've all eaten that stale whopper and/or waxy foil-covered Easter bunny in desperation (or perhaps for no other reason than the fact that it was nearby), but there's just no comparing a vague sense of comfort to a euphoric sense that all is right with the universe.

2) Toilet paper. Steve did our shopping one day, and proudly displayed upon his return the 12-pack toilet paper bargain he had found. "One ply or two ply?" I asked innocently. And watched as his triumph turned to sorrow.

3) Laundry detergent. Not that one has to buy the most expensive brand, but I've discovered there's a reason why that 4 gallon generic bottle is on sale for $1.29.

4) Lotion.

5) Musical Instruments. My husband surprised me with this last year, and lo, it hath brought me exceeding great joy.

6) Perfume. If printed on the product you plan to spray on your body are the words "If you liked White Diamonds, you'll love Sparkly Semi-Precious Stones!", please just put on some deodorant and call it a day.

(Actually, I have issues with perfume in general. I think along with No Smoking signs there should be No Excessive Perfume-Wearing and Please Have Good Taste In Perfume signs, but that's another post for another day . . .)

7) Juice. I think it's fabulous when name brand juices decide to get all crazy with the fruit combinations. Orange peach mango? Bring it on!

8) Love. No skimping.

Got anything to add?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

You say potato . . .


My very sympathetic brother-in-law provided a link to this picture when he commented on my "Open Letters" blog entry, and I wanted to make sure you had the chance to see how well he made fun of the copious amounts of television I watched during my recuperation. (Did you notice how I used the past tense just then? Watched, people. Watched.) The only inaccuracies in this apt portrait of my convalescence are:

1) Our couch is green
2) Steve doesn't have a mustache
3) We do not live in the forest