Month: April 2005

Searches, we get searchesâ„¢: all-Google edition

searchesWherein the blogger, weary from a 12-hour day of hoisting a prop Betamax camera to her shoulder for repeated takes, leeches humor of off random Googlers who had the misfortune to land at communicatrix.com.

using a Rube Goldberg’s Wacky Machine how would you make a cup of coffee (Google)

Alarm clock shakes taut string > pulling spoon lever > springing superball loose > hitting ping-pong paddle > swatting cymbal-playing monkey > which wakes slumbering man > who hurls monkey against the wall, gets up and heads to Starbucks for a double-shot latté.

“toenail polish” “what is” “best color” (Google)

“personally” “I like” “a good orangey red”

“Sew your own Curtains” (Google)

Don’t tell me what to do!

history of antifreeze,1936,sierra madre movie (Google)

Either I missed something in my last viewing or that’s the multitasking-est surfer I’ve ever seen.

powerpoint colonoscopy jpeg (Google)

I don’t know, but you’ve given me an idea for invigorating my moribund presentation graphics business…

meaning Colleen (Google)

My parents told me it meant “pretty girl,” thus creating in me a lifelong distrust of authority and more neuroses than you can shake an ugly stick at.

Hunting the muse,Eharmony,Match.com (Google)

If you’re seeking artistic inspiration on the two worst dating websites in existence, you have bigger problems than where your next great novel is coming from.

on being me (Google)

If you’re trying to google your way to that, we’re all lost…

xxx
c

3 Women

3womenI don’t know if it’s possible to make a film like 3 Women anymore. Even Robert Altman seems to have problems making Robert Altman films these days: studios aren’t falling over themselves to fork over money, even relatively small hunks of it, for a movie with no script and no stars based on a decidedly low-concept pitch. But this was the 1970s, thank god, and Altman had the Hollywood currency to score the money and people he needed to follow a hunch out to the California desert.

He describes his process of (literally) dreaming up this "painting with music" on the commentary track of the 2004 Criterion DVD release of the picture, and from the dream that started it to the pitch to Fox it’s one of the more interesting peeks under the tent it’s been my time-sucking pleasure to experience in awhile.

Altman calls it a story about identity theft, which it is, on the surface: an odd, waifish girl (Sissy Spacek) latches onto another lost soul (Shelley Duvall), who has herself cobbled together a sad simulacrum of a life from the instructive example of women’s magazines, TV and other fleeting media impressions. But it is as much a story of authenticity and connection (and the sorrow in the lack of it) as anything.

It takes trust and courage (and maybe a touch of lunacy, these days) to live a Real Life, much as it takes the same collection of traits (plus maybe a touch more lunacy) to make a film this way. There’s no room for ego in a real life, and while there’s obviously some ego involved in shepherding a gigantic project from conception through to completion, that ego has to step out of the way when it’s time to actually tell the story. Altman describes a level of collaboration and openness in the assemblage of 3 Women that seems extraordinary for any director, especially one of his stature. He’s hardly humble, a humble man doesn’t walk into Alan Ladd’s office and ask for a million-five to make a picture about identity theft with relative unknowns. But he’s got enough confidence in his own voice to let other voices make themselves heard where it will be helpful.

For instance, Altman talks at length about Duvall’s talent in playing the excruciatingly sad Millie, a self-deluded, universally ignored (if not despised) worker at a low-end desert "health" spa who thinks pre-packaged shrimp cocktail is the height of casual dinner party elegance, as her ability to show "the pink side": that soft, tender part of us that makes us so vulnerable, we never willingly show it to anyone. And she does, making a fool of herself over and over again for the full length of the picture without ever winking at it or playing the clown. It’s almost unbearable to watch at times, just seeing her full yellow skirt caught in the door of her bright yellow Pinto every time she climbs in is enough to break your heart, and yet you can’t look away: her sweetness and truth is that unusual and that compelling.

While the individual elements and their alchemic combination are just about perfect there’s still a good lot of arty-farty to get through in 3 Women. I wish there was a way to turn off the atonal soundtrack Altman was so taken with, and as the story devolves into full-on surrealism in the third act, I confess to becoming a little agitated and distracted. But, flawed though it is (and it’s not bumping Nashville off my Top 20 list anytime soon), i am still, some 20-odd years after first viewing 3 Women, moved to revisit this odd little filmic tone poem.

Besides, with the advent of DVD subtitling-on-demand, I can finally catch all that good Altman dialogue I missed in the theater…

xxx
c

ADDITIONAL TECHNORATI TAGS: , ,

Searches, we get searchesâ„¢: Jeopardy edition

searchesYeah, I posted almost nothing of substance this week. You wanna pick a fight or you wanna see the freakshow?

I figured as much.

calories in a blooming onion outback (MSN)

What is ‘If you have to ask, step away from the dessert bar’?

what does nsa mean? and craig’s list (Yahoo)

What is “someone is in for an interesting date Saturday night”?

I hated Spanglish (Google)

What is ‘the benchmark of discerning taste’?

Ryan Seacrest versus Simon (MSN)

What is ‘the imminent sissy fight that keeps 21 million viewers glued to the set in the absence of genuine talent or competition’?

butt doctor (Google)

What is ‘a surprisingly effective schoolyard taunt when combined with “Your daddy is a (——–)!!!”‘?

colleen (google.fr)

Q’est-ce que c’est ‘Magnifique!’?

the colorectal surgeon sing a long song, chords,tabs (Google)

What is ‘Hollywood Bowl concerts that will not be repeated’?

DANIEL JOHNSTON WELLNESS (Yahoo)

What is ‘a contradiction in terms’?

TWOFER BONUS LIGHTNING ROUND:

‘image of duck smashing computer’ (Google)
duck smashing pc clip art (Google)

What is “Artwork that the ironically-challenged find hilarious”?

AND THE FINAL QUESTION IN TODAY’S TWISTED LITTLE GAME:

buy now pay later (Yahoo)

What is “What the American Public Did On November 4th, 2004”?

xxx
c

Do do that voodoo that you do so well

fioreI always thought auditions were horseshit.

Let me clarify: I knew they were (a) necessary (evil), but I found it maddening the way people on both sides of the camera looked at them as a one-way proposition, with the power flowing from the producer end to the (ahem) “talent” end. Because frankly, that was horseshit. Too often, and I know this because I was guilty of it myself as a copywriter, auditions are used to figure out how a commercial works…or doesn’t. What is or isn’t funny about the script/premise/action. And sometimes, horror upon horrors, auditions are actually used as a means for old ad chums to get back in touch with me.*

And then there’s the whole pathetic actor-y side of auditions, the Just tell me what you’re looking for/I can play that, gambit, which is a bigger, steamier and infinitely more treacherous pile of horseshit. I am fairly certain there are street people wandering around Los Angeles right now who were driven over the edge trying to discern that elusive whatsis that the producer/director/whoever wanted. Which was usually just to be anywhere but in a room that smelled like feet, stuffed full of M&Ms and bad deli.

At some point in my checkered career as an actor, I began hearing people, teachers, casting directors, random passersby, pay lip service to the notion of using the audition to show what you could do rather than what they’d asked for. As someone who grew up being handsomely rewarded for coloring within the lines**, I immediately recognized this as yet another manifestation of horse pokey, and happily freed up precious gray cells for important things like remembering my own phone number and what I’d paid for a particular shirt back in 1977.

Fast forward to…this weekend. I was working on a design job for an actress putting up a one-person show. They’d delivered a full-on, finished photo for me to work with, which is usually nice, all I have to do is figure out the font thing and bing-bam-boom, we’re off to the races.

But every time I sat down to apply type, I got this funny feeling that something wasn’t right. That even though I’d been given a complete image, the show, with its suggestive title and goofy provenance (the actress is an Ivy-educated woman who’s done time on MAD TV), needed something else. Which is, of course, craaaaaazy thinking. And yet…

I messed around. I shredded the image, blew it up so the client’s (very pretty) head was out of frame, stripped it of color and instead saturated the card with garish printer’s inks. And I sent it off, knowing full well it was nuts, I mean, the client’s HEAD was cut out of the frame…and she’s a BEAUTIFUL ACTRESS, but also that, nuts or not, it was what I had to offer the show.

There was a little, um, back & forth. Wanting to see the head. (Visionless ingrates!) Wanting her name to be legible. (Bourgeois killjoys!) I could have succumbed or I could have pitched a fit. Actually, I did both, quietly, in succession, at my desk, before making what changes I could. I sent off several of the very-next-best things that really weren’t nearly as cool, but hell, if I want to be an artist, I should get out of the postcard game.

And then, a miracle. The actress wrote back saying that I was right, that my original vision was the way to go. And thanking me for all the work.

If I could, I’d comp the job. It was gratifying having someone respect my ideas, yes, but more than that, it was such a great, simple lesson of the essential rightness in doing what it is that you do, regardless of what conventional wisdom says. I might not have gotten “my” way with the card. I definitely am not always going to book an individual job, even if I knock it out of the park doing what it is that I do. Sometimes, you’re just a cruller living in an onion bagel’s world. But I keep my integrity, my compass and my identity (hey, next time maybe they’ll want a small, sullen bitch…er…pastry).

So thank you, Kathryn Fiore, my newest teacher***. And long may you run…

xxx
c

*Note to old ad chums: if you want to say “hi”, contact me via my agent, invite me out for a
drink at Shutters on your expense account or send me a goddamn e-mail. Do not drag my hide all the
way across town on a call I’m clearly not right for so you can say, “Remember me!?! We used to work together at [former agency long since swallowed up by Publicis, Saatchi or other media megacorp]!!! Because I will be remembering your sorry ass all the way home in traffic on the 10 and then I will remember it for posterity on this blog. You have been warned…

**I worked in creative, yes, but mostly packaged goods, not the sexy stuff. You do not work your way up the ladder by writing breakthrough advertising for BirdsEye and Jell-O Gelatin.

***And I do mean newest, girlfriend was born the month before I started college. Oy, am I old…

Link to large size of the graphic here.

Link to more of my theatrical flyers here.

Searches, we get searchesâ„¢

searchesBring on da sass, bring on da snark…

salon+los angeles+hipster (Yahoo)

Search away, but if you actually find, via the Internet, a salon that purports to be a collective of L.A. “hipsters,” I can almost guarantee you it isn’t. As for you starting your search here, I’ll tell you straight: the hipster quotient at communicatrix is about as high as it is here or here.

killer bees stinking badges (Yahoo)

Please don’t remind me of when SNL was funny. It hurts too much…

inspiring quotation on breakups (Google)

Finally, something that’s right up my alley! If I were you, I’d go with one of two things. Either the tried-and-true, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger,” or or a little Dotty P:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

But really, when I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve found a couple of fingers of fine, small-batch bourbon infinitely more inspiring.

woo woo drink (Yahoo)

According to the Webtender, a quality resource if ever I saw one, the Woo Woo contains:

  • 1 1/2 oz Peach schnapps
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 3 1/2 oz Cranberry juice

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass over ice cubes, stir, and serve.

Your Waikiki Woo Woo, however, is a bit more complex in its construction, which I’m guessing would translate to a more nuanced and subtle depth of flavor:

  • 1 oz Rum
  • 1/2 oz 151-proof Rum
  • 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • 2 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • 1 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Crushed Ice

Combine all ingredients with ice and pour into a hurricane glass. Top with a pineapple ring, slice of orange, and cherry speared on a paper umbrella.

On the other hand, if you want to keep it real, the woo-woo types I know favor Two-Buck Chuck.

kanji symbol meaning cupcake (Google)

I don’t know, but these nice people will emblazon the t-shirt, cell phone strap or Kokeshi doll of your choice with any ding-dong kanji symbol you want.

And while you’re waiting for your kanji merch, why not enjoy this geeky link to delicious cupcake?

overachievement versus work addiction (Google)

If I’m mildly irritated by you, you suffer from overachievement. If I’m mildly irritated by you and we’ve been going out for three or more years, you have a work addiction.

compendium of funny remarks made by screenwriters, wits (Google)

Just make sure you don’t confuse the two.

math month circus flyers (MSN)

Because nothing screams “party” like a scary clown with a calculator.

crossroads, one path leads to life and the other to death, there are two people there, one always lies, the other always tells the truth. you can only ask one yes or no question to find out which path is which riddle (Google)

Wow. You must kill at the Friar’s Club.

xxx
c

Trajectory

mountainI sat in on a class at my old acting studio last week to watch L.A. Jan do a scene (from Frances, and she tore the roof off the sucker, thanks). Having studied at Carter Thor for almost four years, I pretty much knew what to expect from an evening in Cameron‘s class: some good acting; some not-so-good acting; some insightful comments; some not-so-insightful comments.

Only as it turns out, I didn’t.

The class was as I expected, the usual mix of acting styles and skills, with interstitial commentary on Life and Art by Cam. (He gives good sermon, does Cameron.) What was totally different was my reaction to it.

Back when I was enrolled at the studio I rode crazy waves of emotion, cycling through periods of enthusiasm, impatience, and rage from month to month and even class to class. In the moment, I was absolutely certain that this had everything to do with how sucky the scenes were or weren’t and how compelling (and cogent) Cam’s topic of the day was.

Watching the proceedings last week with a mix of interest and detachment, I finally realized that the x factor was me. No-brainer, you say? Easy for you to say, I say. How, when you’re sitting in the prison of your own devising, wanting to be something extraordinary, wanting to be worshipped for being so, do you really just “be,” really just take it all in? The answer is, you don’t. If you’re like most human beings, you need distance; you need perspective. Sometimes, in matters of the heart, for example, it takes time and a replacement to do the trick. But what is the replacement for an acting class, another acting class?

In this case, no. Despite the efforts of friends, prospective teachers and my nagging conscience, I’ve managed to steer clear of acting class since last July. At first, I chalked it up to physical and emotional exhaustion: in the space of six months, I’d buried my father, produced a show and been dragged into a lawsuit; really, I thought, I just wanted to whoop it up for awhile.

But nine months of gestation later, I realize I also needed space from class to figure out what I was doing in class, what I was trying to get from class. Ironically, that was the topic of Cameron’s sermon last Wednesday night: learning to separate your artistic life from your professional life. I’m condensing (and paraphrasing) wildly, but basically, he maintained that as an artist, you need to figure your shit out before you bring it in the room. Because if you don’t take care of your artistic life on your own, honing your skills, doing your daily maintenance, feeding your artistic soul, not only will you flail about most unattractively when you are up for a job: you run the risk of attaching all kinds of inappropriate, personal meaning to what is really a cut-and-dried business proposition.

My aha! moment came via the acting portal, but the Inappropriate Expectation Paradigm works in many other apps: work, love, a trip to Office Depot. (No, seriously, if you think shopping as sport isn’t sublimated something-or-other, you’re more delusional than I’ve been at my most dense.)

Alas, there’s no magic formula for achieving consciousness and no standard measure for how long it takes to get past yourself. That “half as long as the relationship” saw is a sweet notion (or not, in the case of, say, a 60-year marriage that ends with the death of one’s partner), but utterly untrue in my experience: I’ve recovered from some instantaneously; I’m wondering if I’ll ever recover from my ignominious booting from The Groundlings Sunday Company. (You see? I still have to tell you I made it, however briefly, to that rarified level. Q.E.D., baby, Q.E.D….)

But while the time frame may vary, the trajectory itself never does, a tyrannically Hegelian dialectic. And it repeats itself over and over, each trajectory only a subset of that meta-trajectory I like to call Life.

Of course, there is a little bubble of joy, even accomplishment, to be floated on post-synthesis that I don’t recall Hegel getting into. That brief glory bask. That glowing feeling of “I kick ass and throw it across the room when I’m done” that no drug can match for highs. That self-assuredness that will blossom into blinding, deafening hubris as surely as I’m still reeling from the gift-that-keeps-on-giving of my miserable Groundlings experience.

And with that, we return you to your regularly scheduled trajectory…

xxx
c

Rest. Eat. Run. Repeat.

RosesI’ve been feeling a bit blue lately, which I attributed to my recent wrassle with a big, honkin’ pile of receipts and the sleeping fears it woke the hell up. It made sense to me, and still does, that small and pesky unattended woes become bigger with time and without examination and correction. Like, no duh.

What I’d completely forgotten, AGAIN, was the role that daily maintenance plays in good mental health. Physical activity. Diet. Rest. (And yes, "rest" is different than "sleep"; I know, because my body overrides my will to not sleep but I always win the battle of work over rest.)

And "play" falls somewhere in there, too. At least, I’m pretty sure it does; traditionally, I’ve been a little shaky when it comes to the work/play pas de deux.

So this weekend, after working my ass off, I ran it around a little. Twice. And ate halfway decently…well, a few times. And while I worked a little, I also played a little bit more. With my b.la crew. With The Boyfriend. And, oh, bliss, with a good chunk of sunny Saturday afternoon, my bed and a New Yorker.

And whaddya know, two days later I feel at least three times better (well, these things aren’t precisely quantifiable, but you get the idea).

It’s still work to make myself play and it’s still a pain hauling my carcass around a mile or so of neighborhood. But I have a feeling without the run, the rest, the food, the play, the work starts to suffer at some point. Hell, everything starts to suffer. (Certainly the people in spitting range start to suffer.)

So tomorrow, I work. And run. And maybe, if there’s a little time somewhere in the day, crack open another old New Yorker

xxx
c