Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am a Luddite.

This is the leader of the Luddites:
Who--British textile artisans
What--Social movement to protest new technologies like mechanized looms
Why--Looms that could be operated by unskilled labor resulted in the job loss of skilled textile workers.

Today, Luddite typically refers to someone opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technologies in general.

In true Luddite fashion, I'm against the modern interpretation of the word.

It's true, technology led me to align with the Luddites. I hate my cell phone. I hate the awkward pauses that stilt conversation. I hate not being able to hear. I hate trying to switch between calls--any friend knows that if I try to do that, I'll invariably hang up. To be fair, I have trouble with regular phones too--transposing numbers. Dialing strangers. But these foibles are easily managed with a quick, heartfelt apology.

All that being said, I have three computers in my house--and the two laptops are mine. I have this blog. I'm on Facebook. I have three email accounts (one work, two personal). I have written web sites and email blasts and online ads to supplement my income. I have two flat-screen tvs, and one of my cars talks to me. (Not in my head--through the GPS.) I love my microwave, and my refrigerator, and my dishwasher.

But when I go on vacation, I go on vacation from my phone and my computer, and it's a relief. When I want peace, I stay away from technology. I have a library card, and I use it. My nightstand is stacked with books and magazines and the Sunday NY Times, print edition. No e-readers. I am still buying books, and I have a wall-sized book shelf in my office to contain them. And I like it.

I like looking over the spines. Seeing the odd connections that can be made from books who happen to rest next to each other. A separate bookshelf holds the entire (minus 3-4 books) collection of Nancy Drews, and their yellow spines fill me with nostalgia.

But back to the Luddites.

What I'm opposed to is more closely related to the loss of a place for skilled labor. In today's world, what I'm opposed to manifests itself as the creation of hype instead of the cultivation of talent. My heartfelt wish is that the creation of talent and the presence of talent could supplant creating the buzz and ephemeral excitement that are the illusion of talent.

That's truly Luddite speak, because those days have never existed, really. Even for those whom talent propels forward, buzz and hype finish the job.

So now, it's on to embracing the ease made possible by the technologies. That I can self-promote from my sofa, and then, in my quiet, Luddite ways, turn off my computers, pull my Uta Hagen books off my bookshelf, and dedicate myself to the craft.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coming Soon: The Spider in the Bathtub

Awww, you guys. One of the highlights of SXSW for me this year was finding a really fun, funny and informed movie watching partner. In a serendipitous moment, I left the Texas shorts screening early (sorry guys), to make sure I would be in line in time to see Barry Munday. Directly behind me was Chris Mass, writer and actor in Chalk and all around hi-larious guy.

Well, Mr. Mass recently worked on a new feature film script with Kat Candler, and man, did they do a great job. I'm not going to lie, when I heard it was 'family-friendly', I groaned a little inside, but I should have known better.

The script had heart; it was genuine and funny and engaging. And the actors involved in the script reading were amazing! Arthur Dale as Turtle was so sweet and endearing. Nick Walker as Bojo--funny!!! Blake Smith (look for him in Esther's Follies) as Pittman was goofy and charming. Kyle Coward as Harry and Jasmine Skloss as Maddy did a great job as the siblings at the heart of the story. Dana Wheeler-Nicholson was fragile and funny and unhinged as the coping mom, and John Merriman did the hardest job--"Narrator/Misc Roles" with aplomb. Great graphics and sound effects from the supporting crew. Lots of fun for everyone.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cannot divulge any secrets, but...

I was an extra on True Grit, y'all! For two days! In a town they built in Granger! I can't tell you a thing about it, except for it was awesome, and in my woe-is-me place, I realized I hardly mentioned it. So it was awesome! And I got to watch both the Coen Brothers in action, plus their cinematographer, a total bad ass, plus the entire crew, who were amazing, plus Jeff Bridges. Everyone who worked on it rocked. And the food was awesome. And I'm hoping I can say this much, this vaguely, without ticking anybody off.

So fun!!!!!

(Oh, and this picture is by Joe M. O'Connell's web site. It's the hotel where I spent quite a few hours!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

On those tough days

Hey guys--this is courtesy of Randall Munroe who is a physicist (in the sense that I'm a journalist--we have the degrees) and an amazing cartoonist whom I love, although I've never met him, so I suppose I love his mind. Anyway. Visit his site: for more. Like this.

Learning experiences

Currently living by Sandra Bullock's mom's quote--if you want to be an artist, you have to practice every day. Here's where it gets hard. Disappointment about the feature is still at the surface. But disappointment lets me know I'm still engaged. It's good. To mis-quote someone else, Randy Pausch, this is one of those brick walls that gives you the chance to prove how much you want something.

I went on another audition last week. Declined the part. Another important step--choosing what will further me, not just saying yes, yes, yes. Met some more really great people, so all was good.

I think all of us have a little of that starshine in our eyes--the thoughts of premieres and autographs and movie stars. But, even if you're insanely talented and lucky, that'll be the smallest fraction of your time. The rest of the time will be you by yourself working. You with other actors working. You in 'normal life' trying to make your relationships work and pay your bills and make a difference that's more substantial than what you do for your day job. Basically it will be your version of the life and challenges that every blessed person in the US faces--ie, you're not in a fight for your survival every day, you have the luxury to fight for contentment.

So. I'm working on my relationships. I'm paying my bills. I'm trying to relax every now and then. And I'm stretching, so I can play a contortionist at the end of July. That's my normal life, baby!