----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: January 2005

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Waiting By the Phone...

On Friday, I auditioned for a TV commercial. It was a little cheesy...one of those ads that exhorts you to "Call our 800 number to order now!" Still, a job's a job, and I've gotta start somewhere. Besides, it was a paid gig, which is somewhat unusual for a nonunion job.

I drove all the way to Los Gatos (79 miles one way) for this audition, and I was there for about 20 minutes. Actually, I was surprised to be there for that long. But I came in, chatted with the director and the camera guy, both of whom said they loved my picture, and then did my thing. After I went through it once, they told me it was really good but asked me to do it again because "the second time is always easier." I did it again, and again they said it was good. No specifics, no direction, just "good." Aww, I bet they say that to all the girls. Anyway, they made sure they knew how to get in touch with me over the weekend because the commercial was shooting Monday and the final decision wouldn't be made until Saturday. We chatted a little more, they walked me out and that was it.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and guess what? I couldn't enjoy it at all, partly because I woke up with a migraine headache and partly because I was in a state of heightened anxiety all day, wondering if I'd get that call. At nine a.m., I thought, "Oh, it's Saturday, it's too early for them to call." I thought the same thing at 10 and 11. But by noon, I thought surely they must be finished with casting by now! Had I been in a less sickly state, I would have gone out and done something, anything, to get my mind off The Phone Call. But as it was, all I could do was lie on the couch and flip listlessly through magazines, nearly jumping out of my skin each time the phone rang. But thanks to Caller ID, I knew every time that this wasn't The Phone Call. Damn you, Private Caller! You get my hopes up, but in the end, I know you're my mom!

In some ways, trying to get a job, whether it's an acting job or just a regular job, is a lot like dating. You go out on your audition or interview or whatever and you spend a lot of time making sure you look your best. You try to project that confident attitude. You try to come across as charming and talented but not, God forbid, needy. And when the audition or interview is over, you just hope that you made a good impression. Maybe you follow up with a thank-you note or something, but you don't want to seem desperate or overeager or pushy. And then, if you make it to the second round (or the second date), you feel pretty good. You feel like you've got a shot. You think, "Maybe this is it!" So you do it all over again. And then maybe you don't hear anything for days or weeks. You wonder, "Should I call?", but then you think, "Well, if they really wanted me, wouldn't they have called me?" But finally you break down and call or email (hopefully you don't drunk-dial...I think that's a risk unique to dating) and one of two things happen: either you get a cold, awkward response, or you have to leave a message, and your message or email goes forever unreturned. And like dating, you wonder, "What did I do wrong? Why didn't they want me?" Maybe you feel strung along, and you wonder, why did they call you in a second time or ask you on that second date when they had no intention of ever seeing you again? But there are three things we must all realize in this situation, whether it's dating or job seeking:
  1. When you get rejected, it could be for a million and one reasons, very few of which have to do with you as a person
  2. Maybe they're just not that into you, and no amount of calling or emailing will change that, and
  3. It's their loss

So, by six o'clock, hope had left me, and I had come to the conclusion that it was not to be. Sigh. But the good thing is that each audition, job interview, or date is another opportunity for you to strut your stuff and maybe, just maybe, make the connection you're looking for. And at least when you're looking for a job, there's no weirdness about whether or not to kiss goodnight.

Time marches on, and tomorrow brings another interview for a "real" job. And now that my headshots and voiceover CDs are winging their way to agents, maybe the coming weeks will bring a unique new challenge: the interview and audition combined!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

TV Report

Thursday is my big TV night. I watch The O.C., Joey, and The Apprentice. Oh, who am I kidding? Wednesday night is a big TV night, too, what with Lost and Alias. But Lost and Joey were reruns this week, so let's focus on the other shows, shall we?

Alias was a fairly bizarre episode. I mean, obviously, Sydney and Vaughn could speak with American accents, but how did everyone else sound so good? Even Sydney's mother had a trace of an accent, and she'd been in America for years! Speaking of which, I'm almost positive that Irina isn't really dead. But where is she? I'm sure it will be some cliffhanger. It seemed like the main point of the episode was to set up a deeper relationship between Syd and Vaughn, though, which must be awkward, considering Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan broke up in real life over the hiatus. Gotta love Marshall, though. Did you see his funny little bustling run through the agency? He cracks me up.

On The O.C., clearly Seth and Summer should get back together. They feed on each other's neuroses! And isn't that what the best relationships are all about? I'm not really feeling the Marisa/Alex relationship, though, but my brother and my husband were drooling all over it. Whatev. The main thing I noticed, though was that when Lindsay was refering to how she checked out Caleb on the Web, she didn't say, "I Googled him," which is what most people would say. Instead, she said, "I A9.comed him," which I thought was really bizarre. What is this A9.com of which you speak, Lindsay? I couldn't wait to find out. Check it out for yourselves. When I first visited the site, it recognized me! I thought that was very odd and Big Brother, until I realized that it's associated with Amazon.com, and since I have an account with Amazon, of course it recognized me. Could be a pretty cool thing, though. And what a genius marketing idea, to have it mentioned on The O.C.! I wonder how many other people had to go right out and find out what A9 was. Or maybe I'm woefully behind the curve and everyone else has already heard of it.

A couple of things about The Apprentice: What's with all the swearing from Net Worth, aka Street Smarts, aka the High School Grads? Yes, I know that people from Magna, aka Book Smarts, aka the College Grads (or better) swore, too, but it didn't seem to happen nearly as much. Perhaps my father (aka Anonymous) was right when he taught me that people who swear simply don't have an expansive enough vocabularly to express themselves properly. Or perhaps I'm just a word nerd, aka a snob. Also, did you notice how Brian, aka Really Loud Abrasive Guy, was drinking a Mike's Hard Lemonade during one of his many confrontations with John, aka I'm Exempt, So I Have Nothing to Lose Guy? I mean, come on! I enjoy the Mike's Hard Lemonade, but I'm a girl! Do you think it was just product placement, or was Brian really leaving himself open to (even more) ridicule on national television? Also, why is it that most of the girls on The Apprentice have hair that would not be found in nature? The streaks! The flatirons! The extensions! Clearly, Mark Burnett has brought on a number of highly instable people this round in an attempt to boost ratings. I pity Donald Trump for whomever he winds up with in the end. Do you think he can just say, "Forget it, you're all fired"? That'd be pretty cool.

That is my TV roundup for the week. I wonder what Entertainment Weekly will have to say tomorrow? Oh, and hey, wish me luck on my audition!

A Diagnosis

I went to the doctor yesterday because I am still in quite a bit of pain from my surgery. Not enough to keep me hitting the Vicodin bottle, but enough to be uncomfortable all the time. So, I told the doctor how I was feeling and all the remedies I've tried, and he did an exam and determined that there was nothing seriously wrong with me. You know what he diagnosed me with? A delicate constitution.

A delicate constitution. Can you believe it? I've suspected it for years, but now the diagnosis is official. I wonder what tipped the doctor off. Could it have been the near-monthly bouts of strep throat I suffered as a kid? Maybe it was the five collapsed lungs I developed in high school. I finally had surgery to correct the problem, but my trick lungs were lying in wait. On my honeymoon, I got my sixth collapsed lung! I wonder if I win a prize if I make it to 10.

But I digress. Let's see...what else could make the doctor think I have a delicate constitution? Hmm...maybe it was the extremely painful pleurisy I had a few years ago. Or maybe it's the fact that I bruise like a peach. My husband sometimes worries that people will think I'm being abused. Maybe it's the uterine fibroid I had removed. Or maybe it was the lymphoma I developed at age 26. Then again, it could have been the mono that kept me from completing my final grad school project on time. Or perhaps the blinding migraines that I get. I have a weekly pill organizer, a blue plastic one like senior citizens use, to keep track of all my daily medications. And I have a shoebox full of the prescriptions I use only occasionally.

Let's see: strep throat, collapsed lungs, mono, pleurisy, fibroids, migraines, cancer.... Me, a delicate constitution? Who'd have thought?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Progress, At Last!

Some good news from the acting front, although I doubt it will appease those who cast aspersions on my abilities. I finished my voiceover demo CD last week, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. My coach knows someone with a professional recording studio, so we went to his place and laid down tracks. Bob, the sound engineer (is that what they're called?), told me that I did a great job, and David, my coach, later told me that he doesn't say that to most people. Also, because I was so "prepared and professional," my recording session didn't take as long as most, so it cost less! Gotta love that. So, my darling husband is helping me design packaging for my CDs and then I will be sending them out, along with my headshots, to agents this weekend!

In other news, I had two auditions scheduled this week. One was a voiceover audition today for a character in an upcoming Sony video game. I actually read for all three female characters, and it was really fun. But since it's my first voiceover audition, I'm not expecting too much. On Friday, I'll be auditioning for a TV commercial...I get the script tomorrow. At least I'm getting out there. And on the "real job" front, I had an interview at a fun company this week, and I'm going for a second interview at another company next week. Perhaps things are picking up.

Secret Drama!

Last night, I found an unusual post in my blog from an anonymous poster. I had to delete it, though, because it contained my real name. I'm trying to maintain at least a thin veneer of anonymity here, people. Anyway, here is the redacted version:

Clearly you have much too much time on your hands and should channel it to more constructive ends. Pity that the calling you have chosen, (actress, so it appears) is a long and difficult road. Find something that suits your wonderful talents--writing. How about a novel. A sort of comic travelog or such from a 20-something female perspective. You can best show your wit, wisdom, and geekish bend [sic] through this type of writing. I enjoy reading your posts and only now got enough courage to post a note. Keep writing, for that is indeed your calling and passion.

Doesn't it seem sort of...I don't know...condescending? Talk about your left-handed compliments! I have time on my hands because I'm out of work. It's not like I'm sitting around all day eating bonbons. I'm looking for a job and working on freelance stuff. And how bizarre to think that writing a novel is somehow an easier and shorter road than becoming an actress. Let's see, comic travelogue from a 20-something perspective? I think they call that chick lit, and there's quite a lot of it on the market. I also resent the implication that I'm only good at writing and couldn't possibly make it as an actress.

Anyway, although the compliments on my writing were nice, I didn't appreciate the way they were expressed. Now, I am almost positive that I know who this "anonymous" poster is, so I expressed my displeasure to said person. I believe the same "anonymous" has posted yet another comment in a more laudatory and conciliatory manner. Well, "anonymous," you're forgiven...mostly.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Truly Outrageous!

Hey did anyone else get a kick out of Seth comparing Alex to Jem and the Holograms on The O.C. last week? I loved Jem, with her super-cool earrings that allowed her to communicate with Synergy. My only quibble is that if I, at 28, can remember Jem, doesn't it seem like Seth would be too young for that show? I don't think it was exactly a smash hit that would have been syndicated in re-runs. Oh, well.

The Surgery

First, let me clarify: I wasn't really in a "Vicodin haze" after my surgery. I just wanted to add some color to my posting, so I don't want anyone (i.e., my parents) to start thinking I'm abusing prescription painkillers. The truth of the matter is that my doctor didn't want to give me any pain medication after my surgery, but then he gave me a small amount of Vicodin. My surgery was Tuesday, and since then I've taken maybe six pills.

I don't want to get too graphic about the surgery...let's just say it had some similarities to a colonoscopy, so sitting down has been kind of a pain. Not a fun area for surgery, let me tell you. But the great thing about such procedures is that you no longer have to have general anesthesia. I've had general anesthesia twice, once when I got my wisdom teeth out and once when I had lung surgery. It knocks you for a loop. I was so naseous when I woke up, and after my lung surgery, I just remember lying in the recovery room, moaning. For my actual colonoscopy (my mom had colon cancer young, so I have to be checked from an early age--super!) and for this last procedure, I was given an IV full of something called Verset. It makes it so you don't remember anything! In fact, on Tuesday, the most traumatic part of my whole experience was having the IV put in.

Okay, I have a fear of needles that I thought I had conquered when I had chemotherapy, but I still think that needles are not my friend. Plus, I have really bad veins that roll around and make it difficult to put in an IV. Also, the chemo created a lot of scarring, which adds to the whole problem. So, I warned everyone about my bad veins prior to the surgery. During my consult with the anesthesiologist, she told me not to worry because the nurses put in IVs all the time. Plus, she said they'd give me a local anesthetic to help minimize the pain. That sounded wonderful, and it definitely kept me calm going into the OR. What the anesthesiologist failed to mention, however, was that the local anesthetic was also administered with a needle! I don't know what I thought...I guess I figured it would just be some cream that they'd rub on my skin.

Anyway, when the nurse was getting ready to do the IV, I reiterated all the problems with my veins, but she seemed confident in her abilities. She found a nice vein in my hand and stuck me with the local, only to have the vein disappear when she tried to do the IV. Then, she tried a vein in my forearm without the local, but that didn't work, either. She didn't want to torture me any more, so she passed me off to a different nurse, who tried a vein in my other hand, with no success. Then the surgeon showed up and was ready to go, so a third nurse tried a vein in my wrist. After four tries, success! But I was left with some pretty nasty bruises and needle tracks from the process. At least they started the demerol or Verset or something right away. I remember being wheeled away and getting transferred to another bed, and next thing I knew, the nurses were telling me that the surgery was over. I waited around the recovery room for a while and then my mom picked me up and I went home and slept all afternoon.

I am recovered now, but still a little sore. This surgery was literally a pain in the ass. Ha, ha.

Getting Fired for Blogging: It's a Trend!

Wow, I feel so cutting-edge! Check out this article from SFGate.com to read more about all the people getting fired for blogging. It's so ridiculous. Yes, as one expert says, we do have a "duty" to our employers, but I always thought that duty meant doing a satisfactory job at work. I didn't know it meant saying, "Yes, massah" and never complaining. Of course companies want loyal employees, but in order for that to happen, they need to do something to engender their workers' loyalty. What about freedom of speech? Of course, California is an at-will employment state, so people can be fired for any reason, but it seems absurd that a company can have power over what you do or don't say in your blog, especially if it's something you work on in your own time. Who's with me?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Celebrity Q&A

Thanks to Kelly at Microfamous for posting this fun poll on her blog.

The celebrity I'd want to play me in a movie version of my life:
Jennifer Garner (I have a girl crush!)

The celebrity most people who know me think should play me:
Courtney Cox (okay, only my husband says that)

The celebrity I would most likely get plastic surgery to resemble:
Jennifer Garner (just the body, though.)

The celebrity I am most attracted to:
Matthew Fox (Lost...love it!)

The celebrity I'd be most embarrased about admitting I'm attracted to:
Adam Brody (Seth on The O.C.)

Bonus Question:
The celebrity I am not attracted to at all, yet dream about on a regular basis:
Hmm...not really applicable. Most of the dreams I remember are frightening nightmares of people trying to hunt me down. I have had an odd dream about Ben Stiller, though.

I have been out of commission this week, thanks to some minor surgery. More about that when the Vicodin haze wears off.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Extra, Extra!

I think I have cured myself of ever wanting to do extra work again.

On Saturday evening, I snuggled into bed and turned off my light at 9:00, in preparation for my 4:30 a.m. call time for Memoirs of a Geisha on Sunday. Of course, I didn't really fall into a deep sleep, but I felt marginally okay when the alarm went off at 3:15 the next morning. Normally I need a solid nine hours, but there was no way I could have gone to bed at 6:15 p.m.! So, I had to make do.

I tell you what, it's really dark at four in the morning. And it stays that way for another good three hours. It's also really, really cold at that hour in San Francisco in the middle of January. Still, I found my way to the movie set in the middle of the Presidio, got checked in and then proceeded to wait. They had a breakfast buffet all set up for us extras, but who can eat so early in the morning? Eventually, though, I had a banana and a bowl of Rice Krispies, just to have something to do. I figured I'd need my strength, and I thought that ingesting some calories would keep me warm. Hah! We were all waiting around in a drafty tent, and it only got worse from there.

At around 5:15, I headed into wardrode, where I had to peel off my jeans, turtleneck, cardigan and wool coat in order to put on seamed stockings, a longline bra that had to be stuffed to give me the popular "bullet" shape of the 1950s, a slip and a mid-calf length dress. Did I mention how cold it was? Luckily, the dress had long sleeves and I got to wear gloves. I also had a cute little hat. Once I was dressed in my costume, I headed into the hair and makeup tent to wait some more.

Nearly 75 people were waiting for hair and makeup, but I got lucky. In an effort to speed things along, a P.A. was taking select extras into the principals' makeup trailer, and I was the first to get to go. There, Noriko moisturized me and made me up in true 1950s fashion. She even plucked my eyebrows to give me more of a "Sophia Loren" shape. I had false eyelashes, red lipstick...the whole bit. But it wasn't until I got my hair done that I really looked the part. The stylist pinned my little hat in place and got to work with the curling iron. My bangs were styled into tight little curls, and I had little curly wisps by my ears. It was very glam. I almost didn't recognize myself.

Once my hair was done, I waited some more. Finally, at about 8:00, we headed over to the set. I was paired up with a pseudo-husband, and we were instructed to buy hot dogs from a street vendor (the cart was really steaming and we got real, though uncooked, dogs) and then walk into Central Park. Yes, indeed...although we were shooting in a parking lot in San Francisco, in the finished film, it will look like we're in New York! Ah, movie magic. We were shooting the last scene of the movie, which maybe lasted about 45 seconds. Of course, it took about six hours to film those 45 seconds. First, we had to do about 15 rehearsals with the stand-in. My toes went numb from the very fashionable but oh-so-uncomfortable authentic '50s high heels that I had to wear. The star, Ziyi Zhang, was wearing similar heels, but of course, she was relaxing in her trailer while we peons were rehearsing and getting whipped by the freezing wind off the Bay. And when Ziyi did come out to shoot, her assistants ran after her after each take and helped her slip into woolly boots. It's good to be the star! As the hours wore on, I really began to envy the girls who were being ferried around in the taxis and the horse-drawn carriage. Of course, you won't be able to see them on camera, whereas I might actually be recognizable because I and my pseudo-husband (and our hot dogs) cross right in front of Ziyi on our way into the park.

At 2:00, director Rob Marshall was finally happy with the shot. We broke for lunch, and some extras stupidly thought we might be wrapped for the day. Oh, no. We had more work to do, numb toes be damned! After lunch, about 30 extras left to do shots around Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park. The rest of us stayed behind to shot in front of the blue screens. We walked back and forth across the street, pretended that we were waiting for the bus, and just generally milled about. Some of us, including me, were even photographed from a variety of angles so that visual arts could make holograms to fill in the crowd. I can't wait to see the finished product. As we started to lose the light around 4:30, all the ladies prayed that the shoot would be ending so we could go home and soak our feet. Alas, it was not to be. We were instructed to get on a bus, which we did, and we proceeded to wait some more. At least we were finally sitting down!

Finally, the bus groaned into gear, and we circled the parking lot with some taxis and old cars a few times. If you go see the movie, please note that yes, there were real people on that bus! After a few minutes of that, we were wrapped. At last! Then it was a mad rush for wardrobe so that we could get out of our period costumes, corsets and garters, and back into our comfy modern clothes. I slowly began to regain feeling in my toes. My contacts, on the other hand, were totally clouded over because of all the eye makeup. I had to go rinse my eyes in the nasty Port-a-Pottie just to clear my vision enough to drive home. I got my hat unpinned, wiped off some of the extra eyeliner, and at six o'clock, 13 and a half hours later, I was on my way back home.

I staggered in the door and my dear, sweet husband helped me draw a hot bath while he cooked dinner. Soaking in the water was the only way to get the shellacking of spray out of my hair! I changed into pajamas, ate some dinner and fell asleep at 9:30. This time, though, there was no alarm waking me at an ungodly hour. I slept a solid 11 hours, but I still woke up achy and sore. I think the balls of my feet are bruised, and all the muscles in my legs are tender. I never knew that wearing heels could provide such a workout!

All this, and I earned 54 bucks for the first eight hours. I'll probably end up with about $70 after taxes. Oh, well. I did it for the glamour and the glory (ha!), not for the money. Show biz...what a life.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Where is the Sun?

We are mired in the depths of winter. It's cold, gray and gloomy out, but at least it's stopped raining temporarily. Still, the lack of sunlight is beginning to affect my mood. I took a nice hike on Wednesday, the one day the sun decided to grace us with its presence, but the uplifting effects did not last long. Yes, it is true: I have SAD, aka seasonal affective disorder.

I don't know too much about the technical medical details of SAD, but essentially, people who are deprived of sunlight for long periods of time get (you guessed it) sad. This was manageable when I lived in L.A., where there is no real winter and it can be 80 degrees in the middle of January, but I'm not doing so well now that I'm back in Northern California, where the temperature has been hovering around 38. (Well, maybe it's been warmer than that, but it hasn't hit 50 in days!) Still, I thank my lucky stars that I'm not back in Chicago. That was the most miserable winter I ever spent.

Chicago may be a great city in a lot of ways, but for me, the winter negated all of the good things about it. I was there for the second-worse blizzard of the century, when the snowdrifts were piled up higher than my head. Okay, I'm only 5'1", but still! I had never dealt with cold weather before. I only like snow when it's something you can go visit for the weekend and then leave far, far behind. I didn't want to live with it! When I got off the plane after winter break, my boyfriend met me at the airport and had to show me how to wrap my scarf. (He was from Pittsburgh. For him, the weather probably seemed like a spa vacation.)

Anyway, it was so bitterly cold and so snowy and so dark that I got a severe case of SAD. And I guess it's not at all uncommon for other Northwestern students to be similarly afflicted, especially the weather wimps from California. When I went to the student health center for a recurrent sinus infection, I mentioned my depression, and I was delighted to learn that the health center had special lights meant to mimic sunlight and make me happier! I got a prescription to come in early in the morning and sit in front of the lights. I felt just like a little plant, yearning to grow. I would sit there for about a half hour each morning and just stare into the light. I think they worked, too. But the problem was, the lights were most effective when used first thing in the morning, and I am not a morning person. Eventually, I decided that an extra hour's sleep would do just as much to improve my mood as would sitting in front of the magic light, so I stopped going.

That brings me to my next problem. Tomorrow is Sunday. Sunday is a day for sleeping in and relaxing. (Well, now that I don't have a regular job, I can sleep in every day. But that's not the point.) Alas, tomorrow I cannot sleep in. I have to be up very early. Horrifyingly early, in fact. It will be dark and quite possibly freezing out. I have to get out of bed at 3:15 a.m. tomorrow! Normally, I would not torture myself in this manner, but I have to be on set at Memoirs of a Geisha at 4:30 a.m. in San Francisco tomorrow, so there you have it. The sacrifices I make in my efforts to become an actress! I am dreading the early hour and the dark and the cold, but perhaps once I get on set, everything will be fun. I hope so. Otherwise, I may get really depressed.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Whoever schedules trade shows in Las Vegas is a genius and/or has a strange sense of humor. It seems that every year, the Consumer Electronics Show is scheduled at the same time as the Adult Entertainment Expo. It's an odd juxtaposition...lots of geeky types wearing suits and then lots of top-heavy blondes wearing not much of anything at all. When we checked into the Bellagio late Thursday night, one particularly chesty blonde in a long red evening gown was sitting beneath the famous glass-flowered ceiling, holding court for her admirers. People kept asking for autographs, so we figured she must be particularly beloved in the porn industry. This confluence of conventions gave the geeks some eye candy and gave the porn stars...I don't know what. Adulation? Extra exposure? A fresh crop of wealthy single men? Maybe I'm too cynical. Maybe the scheduling is just a happy coincidence, not part of any grand design. But every year? It does seem suspicious...

Anyway, curious as I was, I did not check out the Adult Entertainment Expo. I did, however, wander the floor at CES (note to self: next time, remember to pack flats. The place is massive!), and I saw lots of cool new products, one of which may just turn out to be the next iPod. It's called the Gmini 400 by Archos , and with it, you can download and listen to MP3s, store your digital photos, and best of all, watch videos and movies on the little LCD screen! I think the model we saw even allowed you to record directly from your TV, so you could record a show onto it and then watch it later. How cool would that be?

The other thing that I predict will be really big is the portable satellite radio player. Now, you can take your XM or Sirius with you wherever you go, kind of like an iPod, but with satellite radio. Very cool. I love my little iPod mini, but it's taking me a long time to transfer my CDs onto it. Also, I like to have a lot of variety when I listen to music, so I think the satellite radio would be great. Plus, no commercials!

So, that's my little tech report from what seems to be the biggest trade show in the world. It's madness, I tell you, madness! But as you know, the rest of Vegas was quite fun. And we saw two other celebrities in addition to the famous porn star whose name I don't know. We saw Jackie Chan working a booth at the trade show, and we saw D from Run-DMC in the lobby of the MGM Grand, just hanging out. Ah, Vegas. Good times. Good times.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Return From Hedonism

I have returned, and I am none the worse for wear, although I am a bit lighter in the pocketbook. The only person who won money on this trip was my underage brother. How unfair is that? But I only gamble in moderation, so I only lost about 80 bucks.

It was a fun trip, although it was quite obvious that the company had a bit of an off year. No trips to the spa, no big expensive group dinners, no late-night partying. Well, okay, some late-night partying, but not as much as last year. And we still got to see a couple of shows. We saw two Cirque du Soleil spectacles--"O" at the Bellagio and "Ka" at the MGM Grand. "O" was just as stunning as when I saw it several years ago, but as for "Ka"--save your money. Honestly, it was no good at all. It was just boring. Cirque du Soleil is, of course, famous for its daring acrobatics. This show had fantastic set design, but very little in the way of acrobatics or gymnastics. It was mostly like interpretive dance. Yawn. Many in our party slept through the whole thing.

Here are some things I would highly recommend: Diego, a Mexican restaurant in the MGM Grand, flying America West instead of Southwest, and feasting upon the buffet at the Bellagio. At Diego, they make delicious margaritas and prepare guacamole at your table. I know that it's a gimmick, but here, the guacamole is actually an art form. It was so delicious! As for America West, it's still a low-cost airline with few frills, but you get an actual seat assignment in advance, thus eliminating the ridiculous lines that people form an hour in advance of their scheduled flight time on Southwest. So irritating. And on America West, you can upgrade to first class for 50 bucks. Bigger seats, more legroom, free drinks, and a more delicious snack. In coach, you only get roasted peanuts. In first class, you get sesame sticks, pistachios, almonds and cranberries, all in a little foil pouch that's specifically designated "first class." Also, you get to speed through check-in and the security line. The buffet at the Bellagio is a bit pricey, but it's worth it. I am always suspicious of buffets, because while they may have a lot of food, it's rarely good food. The Bellagio is the exception to that rule. They had sushi, fish, soups, salads, pastas, Chinese food, roasted meats and a vast array of desserts. And on Saturdays and Sundays, they have breakfast foods, too. De-licious.

We had a wonderful room at the Bellagio that directly overlooked the dancing fountains. So pretty. On Friday morning, we woke up and looked out over the "lake" to see snow! Craziness. Also, I loved the deep soaking tub, but I wish it had the Jacuzzi jets. I think you have to stay in a suite to get those.

Perhaps the most amusing part of the weekend was our trip back from "Ka" to the Bellagio. We were part of a big group and someone had arranged ahead for a car so that we wouldn't have to wait in the massive cab line. Well. The car turned out to be a bright yellow 30-person stretch Hummer, complete with leopard print, disco music and a light show inside. My mom was with us, and she loved it! I felt slightly dirty after riding in a Hummer, though. They are not cool, people. They're just big, dirty, gas-guzzling behemoths. Don't let the dazzling light show seduce you!

That's about it for the Vegas experience. We saw some very cool emerging technology at the CES show...more on that later.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Okay, That Does It

For a long time now, I have been distraught over the downfall of proper English. u know what i mean right? its like, no one kares about grammer anymore. not gr8. (See? Isn't that annoying?)

Well, I have done enough complaining. I have decided to take action! And it was my beloved Alias that inspired me to do so. Last night, Arvin Sloane said, "[They want] their own SD-6, a unit that officially doesn't exist, comprised of team members who have no apparent affiliation to the CIA."

I can't believe that even the highly-paid professional writers on Alias don't know the difference between comprise and compose! Thus, I have started a new blog, "Tips from Copy Editrix." I am under no illusions that it will reach the masses and show them the light, but I hope at least to attract other "word nerds" who will commiserate with me over the sorry state of language today. Check it out.

That's all for a few days. I will be winging my way to Sin City this evening, and I expect to come back thoroughly debauched. So, I may not be posting for several days. But never fear...I shall return with new adventures to share!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I can barely contain my excitement--tonight is the long-awaited premiere of the new season of Alias! And to double my delight, Alias comes on right after Lost, my new (second) favorite show. I tell you, that J.J. Abrams is a genius!

What makes Alias such a good show, you might ask. Well, it's full of twists and turns and double-crossings, along with romance and the super-hot Michael Vartan, aka Michael Vaughn. But the best thing about Alias is its star, Jennifer Garner. She's just the coolest. She's strong enough to kick ass and take names, but she's surprisingly human and emotional, too. She is, of course, beautiful, but not intimidatingly so. She just seems like someone you'd want to be friends with. My friend Sarah and I remember her from that horrid Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle that was a misguided spinoff of Party of Five. Did you ever watch it? No? You're probably better off. It was called Time of Your Life and each week, we would watch it and make derisive comments about how appalling bad it was. But the next week would find us back on the couch, eager to tune in. And it wasn't because of "Love's" dubious acting ability. It was because of her cool roommate, Romy, played by Jennifer Garner. Call us crazy, but Sarah and I firmly believe that that show might have had a chance had Garner been allowed to star.

But anyway, back to Alias. My youngest brother thoughtfully gave me the complete third season on DVD for Christmas, so I had a little Alias refresher course last night. It seems that Sydney's half-sister has taken up with the treacherous Arvin Sloane (her father). Why she trusts him after he held her captive and injected her with that Rambaldi fluid to get the equation, I don't know, but apparently, they have joined forces to search out Rambaldi or his moldering body or his consciousness or whatever's left of him. Vaughn's evil wife, Lauren, is dead, but her accomplice, Sark, is still alive. And Sydney has learned a shocking secret about her father...we'll find out more tonight. Hold the phones--from 8 to 10 p.m. tonight, I'll be curled up on my couch in front of a crackling fire, communing with all my favorite characters.

Monday, January 03, 2005

"Geek" Is a Subjective Term

A few weeks ago, I took the "Geek Test" that I found on Pink Lemonade Diva's blog. I was all disappointed because the test deemed me a poser, while my husband managed to at least have "geekish tendencies." Maybe "disappointed" is the wrong word, but you know me...I hate scoring low on any test. Unless scoring low is a good thing. Ah, the joys of being an overachieving, type-A personality. I just couldn't believe that my word-nerd tendencies didn't give me more points. So, I retook the test, which, in itself, should have given me massive geek points.

This was an amusing little pastime, but I didn't think much more about it until the other night. We were visiting a friend of mine who had been at the 10-year high school reunion and we started reminiscing about high school all over again. We were all English nerds, so we talked about all our past English teachers. Then one of my friends said, "Hey, remember when we had to memorize the prologue to the Canterbury Tales in the Middle English?" Yes, it is true. This is something I had to do twice--once in high school and then again as an English major at UCLA. So, we busted out with it, and the scary thing is that we all remembered it! Our assorted husbands/boyfriends/hangers-on looked at us like we were crazy. It was fun, though. I also remember all the "being" verbs, which I had pounded into my head by a frighteningly thorough 7th-grade grammar teacher. If you, too, would like to memorize the Canterbury Tales prologue (a truly enriching experience), you can find it here, along with a helpful modern English translation.

Well, that night, as we were driving home, my husband said," Honey? Remember that geek test? You should be the geekiest of all for remembering that Canterbury Tales stuff." And I got a warm glow inside. I was a successful geek after all!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

A new year. A fresh slate. A time to strengthen one's resolve. Welcome to 2005.

But first, my husband and I said goodbye to 2004 at a fabulous party featuring the Reverend Horton Heat. It was a great show, even if our tablemates were antisocial dweebs. "He reminds me of that guy from the Citibank identity theft commercials--the one who talks about building a 'girl robot,'" whispered my husband. "And I think his date is either a call girl or a mail-order bride." It was true that the man at our table gave off a geekish vibe, what with his receding hairline, small wire-rimmed glasses and clear braces. And it is also true that his date/wife/whatever was older and, judging by the accent, from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It is also true that he seemed to be trying to impress her by ordering the most expensive champagne on the menu (Veuve Cliquot). But we were lucky to have seats. And besides, one of my New Year's resolutions is not to be so snarky and to stop passing snap judgments. Hmmm...challenging.

But I digress. The Reverend put on quite a show and Zuma Zuma, the swing band featuring Miss Connie Champagne, was a kick. But the Kitty Kitty Bang Bang burlesque girls left something to be desired. Were they intentionally bad? Was it all part of the act? Were we just spoiled by the excellent burlesque dancers we had seen at Forty Deuce in Hollywood? No matter. The girls were mildly amusing, but the show went on for far too long. We wanted to see the Reverend! Thankfully, he did not disappoint. And the free fedoras, flapper headpieces and noisemakers were a nice touch.

I personally want to thank Zuma Zuma and the Reverend for showing my husband the light. He had so much fun last night and he enjoyed the music so much that he pledged to learn to swing dance with me! Yes, folks, you read that right. Dear Greg, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to dance lessons prior to our wedding, has said that he will voluntarily take swing dance classes. Praise be and hallelujah!

And now, on to 1/1/05. I do have some resolutions. They are as follows:
  1. Get my voiceover CD made and submit it and headshots to agents
  2. Submit headshots for open auditions as frequently as possible
  3. Research new, higher-paying career opportunities
  4. Find job that I actually like, or at least one that doesn't bore me out of my skull on a regular basis
  5. Gain control of budget and start saving
  6. Work on plans for novel
  7. Stop being so snarky and judgmental (well, perhaps except for purposes of this blog)
  8. Exercise more and lead and healthful lifestyle (hey, alcohol can be part of a healthy diet--red wine has all those flavonoids and antioxidants!)
  9. Devote more time to charitable activities (I plan to become more involved with the American Cancer Society)
  10. Maintain sense of humor and decrease stress level
  11. Be generally fabulous
  12. Win big in Vegas!

Okay, the last one is a joke...but we are going to Vegas next weekend, and who knows what could happen! In the meantime, I will redouble my job search efforts and work on my writing/acting/creative pursuits in hopes of a breakthrough. I love the new year. It is filled with opportunity!