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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.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ah-nuld and Cal-ee-for-nee-a

I found this on MediaBistro. Oh, how I laughed. To the people of Cal-ee-for-nee-a...vote for Phil! (Conservatives, spare me your "Arnold is great" speeches. My mind is made up.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Full of Surprises

We've been married a year now, but Mr. Pink continues to surprise me. For instance, we got in the car this evening, and they were playing "Bette Davis Eyes" on the radio. Mr. Pink started to sing along, and he knew all the words! Then, I asked him if he knew who sang the song, and he said, "Kim Carnes," without even missing a beat. He claims he used to roller skate to that song. Then, he started to reminisce about that other great skating song, "Maneater." Wow! He also told me that Kim Carnes drank a bottle of whiskey and smoked a pack of cigarettes before singing "Bette Davis Eyes," but that might not be true. At least, I hope it's not true. If it is true, he knows far, far too much about that song.

But I guess I shouldn't talk. I am a big fan of Steve Winwood's "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?" and Glenn Frey's "You Belong To the City." I blame my dad. He was always listening to "K-O-I-T, San Francisco's easy listening station" whenever I was in the car. What are some of your favorite cheesy songs? What did you roller skate to? My absolute favorite was the one I could play on the jukebox at Round Table Pizza, where we had the soccer awards dinner--"Electric Blue," by Icehouse. I wonder if that's on iTunes!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Congratulations! You've Won!

I read on interesting article on LATimes.com today about the Internet scams that promise you millions from Nigeria if you claim a long-lost relative's bank account, or whatever. I didn't know that many people would be taken in by such a scheme, but I guess if people want to believe something, they will.

I recently got a scam letter in the mail. Apparently, I am a big winner in the Mercado Lottery International Promotions Program, in Spain. It's all very official. According to the letter, my agent has been buying tickets for me, and I have been approved for a lump-sum payout of 1 million Euros! Unfortunately, "due to the mix up of some numbers and names, we ask you to keep this award from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your nominated account as this is part of our security protocol to avoid double claim or unscrupulous act by non participants taking advantage of this program."

Oh! Of course! All I have to do is give my bank account number and my routing number, and the money will magically appear! Then, all I have to do is pay my mysterious "agent" 6 percent of the proceeds. Hmm...I'm guessing that what would actually happen is that once I provide my bank account info, my account will be cleaned out or my identity stolen or something nightmarish like that.

What's even more disturbing is that my agent bought 36,040 tickets on my behalf. I would never waste so much money on the lottery, nor would I authorize my agent to do so! The very idea is outrageous. I do have a copy of the winning ticket, though. The numbers are 19-21-22-29-41, with 3 and 7 as the bonus numbers. I wonder if I should play these numbers in the California lottery or in Powerball or something. Maybe I will win for real!

Check out the Mercados Lottery Board...amazingly, all the winners of this "international lottery" are from the United States!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lakefront Property...Cheap!

While Mr. Pink and I were in Florida, we spent an evening far from the madding crowds at all the theme parks. We headed out toward Winter Park, just outside Orlando proper. It's a quaint little town with a bustling downtown area full of cute little shops. We had dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant, and then we strolled around the streets and through the park. Then we made the mistake of stopping by a real estate agent's office and looking at the listings in the window. Why? Why did we torture ourselves so?

For those of you not acquainted with the California real estate market, it is completely out of control. Prices bear no relation to reality. For example, a 50-year-old home, maybe a thousand square feet, maybe three bedrooms, one bath, in need of quite a bit of remodeling...well, in my town, about 35 miles (and a hellish commute) north of San Francisco, that will list for about $650,000. After the multiple offers and the bidding wars, it could sell for closer to $700,000.

And what did we find in Winter Park, a charming and upscale community? Multiple listings for properties in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. In fact, we saw one newer home listed for $399,000. Now, where I live, those prices don't even exist, unless you're talking about something in a mobile home park. But in Florida, that price can buy you a five-bedroom, three-bath home on a lake with a swimming pool, in a good neighborhood with good schools! The mind boggles!

But despite the outrageous prices, I just can't see myself leaving California. My family is here, and it's home. It's where I've lived my whole life. I may never be able to afford a spectacular home, but the desire to stay is just too strong. Alas, for now, I have to content myself with my small rented condo and hope that someday in the future, Mr. Pink and I will earn enough money to make homeownership a reality. In the meantime, I'm going to stop looking at real estate listings in other states...far too depressing.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Simple Plea

Mr. Pink and I just returned from a week in Florida, where we celebrated our anniversary. We ended up in Orlando, because that's where there were timeshares available. Although it wasn't as glamorous as South Beach, we had a lot of fun going to the theme parks and being kids again. I got to go to the waterslides, and I love waterslides. But while we were there, with the masses of other vacationers from across the country and around the globe, I made a disturbing observation: We are all becoming fat slobs.

Now, I know this is not earth-shattering news, because the "obesity epidemic" has been trumpeted in the news lately. But I live in an upscale area of California, where yoga and Pilates are the order of the day. And you know, it's none of my business if someone is fat or not. It's tough to lose weight, people shouldn't be judged for the way they look, some people have medical conditions that cause them to gain weight, etc., etc. But I have a simple plea. Could everyone just put on some clothes that fit? And I'm not targeting only the plus-sized. This goes for skinny little teenagers who think that everyone's just dying to see their navel piercing and their hipbones. Please. I think a little modesty is in order. And yes, I know that all these people are on vacation, it's hot in Florida, they just want to be comfortable, yada yada. Still, there are ways to be comfortable without showing off your pounds of flesh.

Clothes that fit...what a concept! Here are some guidelines. If the shorts that you're wearing are riding up your ass crack, exposing acres of cellulite, they don't fit. If your belly fat is seeping out of your spandex tank top, it doesn't fit. If you can't bend over in your skintight lowrider jeans without showing a plumber's crack, they don't fit. If your shirt is so tight that everyone else can see the outline of your lacy bra, it doesn't fit. If your skirt barely covers your coochie, it doesn't fit. And if you're wearing a leopard-print body suit (which I actually saw someone wearing)...well, that's just wrong.

Aren't clothes that fit just more comfortable than clothes that are too tight or too revealing? I think so. And what are these people thinking, anyway? Haven't they ever seen an issue of Glamour, with all the "Do's and Don'ts" on the back page? Do they really all want to be "Don'ts"? I am not saying I am some fashion maven or that I have impeccable personal style, but I do take pride in my appearance, and I don't feel the need to show off every hill and valley of my physique. If nothing else, let's leave a little something to the imagination...please?

Temblor Defined

Yesterday, I put up a post about an L.A. Times headline that said something like "Temblor Rocks San Diego," and I thought "temblor" was an error. Then, Paul pointed out to me that I was the one in error! "Temblor" is corect. Our colloquialism of "tremblor" is wrong. While trying to edit the other post, I accidentally deleted it, but it turns out that the L.A. Times changed its headline anyway...it now reads "Underwater Quake Rattles Coastal Area."

Well, I am glad to have learned something new about the language. I shall never make that error again. See...even copy editors need copy editors!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Us!

I can hardly believe it's been a year. Some parts of it have been crazy, some have been tough, but most have been happy and adventurous. Now, we're off to spend a week in the Sunshine State for a little R &R. Don't worry...we'll drink a mojito for you!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Wedding

I have returned from the Southland, and the wedding I attending was quite fabulous--second, of course, to my own wedding. Everyone thinks her own wedding was the best, I suppose. Anyway, it really meant a lot to me to be a bridesmaid in this wedding, and it allowed me to relive a lot of my own wedding memories, since my first anniversary is this Sunday! Here is a picture of me and the rest of the bridesmaids. I know, I know...we're all total hotties. Much love and happiness to S. & G.!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Energy Crisis Finally Hits Home

Here is some information from Ad Age:

Sport-utility-vehicle drivers will spend $920 more this year for gas than they did in 2004, according to figures released today from the Alliance to Save Energy, disastrous news for automakers that saw SUV sales plunge 33% in September.

You know what? I don't really feel sorry for those SUV drivers. Let me be clear: I am not against all SUVs. If you have a family of seven, for instance, maybe you really do need a Suburban (although a family of seven is irresponsible in its own way). If you regularly tow or haul or are in the construction industry, maybe you need a big truck or SUV. But those suburban mommies who just like to drive around and do errands by themselves in their fancy Expeditions and Navigators because they think they're cool...well, they deserve the high gas prices.

Of course, the consumers don't bear sole responsibility. Our fearless leader, who doesn't believe in global warming and exempts certain trucks and SUVs from any gas economy standard, and then has the gall to suggest that people just not drive (as if that's a feasible long-term solution), certainly bears some responsibility, as do the car companies who have pushed these monstrosities. Perhaps the demand has finally been quenched.

Again, there are legitimate reasons for owning an SUV. But using one to drive Spencer to play group a few blocks away so he can watch the Wiggles on DVD in the backseat is not one of them. All I have to say is, I love my Prius! And even more than that, I love riding my bike around town--free exercise and zero emissions!