Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To Comic-Con, or not to Comic-Con...

That is the question. And while I ponder attending the 40th annual San Diego Comic-Con, if you're in sunny SoCal, you should too. If you are an artist (or what Comic-Con calls a "creative professional"), it's free to register as a pro (and I think you just need writing, acting, producing, or artistic credits and a way to prove it once you've registered) and then you get in free, AND you get a guest pass.

Check it out.

Pro registration ends May 5th, so don't wait too long. It's free, and how often do you get to be in the same building as more than half the people responsible for making the world such a cool place?

I rest my case.

Damn Near Perfect weekend, indeed


Went with my friend Alli to see Munched, a dark comedy staged play about a mother who is jailed for over ten years for committing Munchhausen's by Proxy on her five year old daughter. The play is told from two people's point of view -- the mother, now released from jail, and her daughter, now grown and in her mid-twenties, who only knows her mother from other peoples' opinions on what may or may not have occurred.

Also, grabbed a cheeseburger and fries near the theater. Cheeseburger could have been better. OhMyGod the fries ruled. I think they were garlic fries.


Skipped the grilled cheese invitational because I had plans to do tea (is that not the best excuse for missing an entire park full of grilled cheese sandwiches? "Sorry, I have mid-afternoon tea to attend to.") After a fantastic breakfast at the best-kept secret in Studio City with my newest Escrima classmate, (and, yes, I caved and bought a book at the cutest bookstore ever that is attached to the cafe), I headed off with my friend Stacy to high tea over at the High Tea Cottage (what makes tea high? Wait, should I not ask that?) and sipped decaf English Breakfast while eating a spinach and mushroom crepe, cream puffs with strawberries, and a Damn Near Perfect chocolate cake for dessert. I am taking my moms (my mom and aunt are identical twins) here soon. Very soon. Oh yes I am.

Then some friends and I hightailed it over to the Sherman Oaks Arclight, where we watched the Disney Earth movie (James Earl Jones' narration puts me in my happy place) and then we headed back to their place, where we had bison(!) and I contributed to the dinner with a strawberry feta salad. (Thanks, Mandy, for the granny-smith apple tip.) Want the ingredients? (I don't do recipes very well -- just kind of throw things around and hope for the best.)

1 carton of strawberries, sliced in fourths
2 granny smith apples, sliced into cubes
1 package feta cheese crumbles
1 package of spinach

and one good tossing with blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar. I use this one and I love it. (It's also good on sliced fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.) It's important to use a balsamic vinegar, I think, to bring out the flavor more and not drown it like dressing would. That's my theory, anyways. At any rate:



Busted out my 20 sided dice and played Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition, and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon gaming with my friends at the local gaming and comic book store. There, I said it. And, AND!! I had FUN.

Damn Near Perfect weekend, indeed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

gray days and good weekends

Don't get me wrong, gray days aren't so bad, especially when you're a resident of Southern California and the temperatures reached the 100s last Tuesday, breaking previous records set in the 1950's. It's nice to feel like spring might actually hang out for a couple more weeks before the stickiness of summer sets in again, and occasional gray days are a nice break from the blinding sunshine that Los Angelenos are used to conducting their days in. But sometimes when you're having the kind of day where the morning dreariness never really leaves, you feel a little...down.

Granted, I don't really have any good reason to feel down. A couple weeks ago I just finished a weekend of shooting behind-the-scenes and extras for Hell Froze Over, I occasionally get to share my office space with a dog that looks like a cross between a pit bull and Doby the House Elf, I have discovered the glory that is the cinnamon melts over at McDonald's, and I can only describe this past weekend as Damn Near Perfect. Yes, it needed caps.

So there is always good to be grateful for. Always. But I do like being warm. And I like my gray days to be my Saturday mornings when I can snuggle under the comforters for another half hour before getting all productive with my day.

In the meantime, I believe I promised a weekly blog that highlights some ways to enjoy life while not necessitating borrowing money for rent. Sounds easy enough. Here's today's tips:

  • Are you a big online shopper like I am? Go here to find coupons for 30,000 (yup, that number is correct) online stores. Enter in a store's website in the search bar at the top, then a list of coupons for that store will pop up. Be warned that some coupons are expired or simply don't work (look at the coupon's success rate before using), but I've gotten discounts for many, many online purchases this way, and if nothing else, there's usually free shipping codes to be found for most stores. Try it out and see!
  • If you haven't discovered the joy of Etsy yet, for the love of God, stop what you are doing and go visit it. No really. Tell your boss I said it's okay. Etsy is all things handmade and vintage, so you're supporting individual artists with awesome work ethics from all over the world. A lot of the things on Etsy are one of a kind, so don't waver too long on a purchase, and there's a TON of affordable stuff on there. Plus, you can search by color, location of artist, and fun categories that include "geekery" and "books and zines." Some of my favorites on Etsy right now: this, this, and this (I like the owl and giraffe one).
  • Want that new Tom Clancy novel but can't afford to buy it? There are lots of book exchange websites out there, but here's one that strikes my fancy. (NB: I haven't used this one yet. Let me know how it goes if you use it, and you're not allowed to blame me if things go horribly awry.)
Do you guys know of any awesome websites out there that help you save money, exchange stuff, or get a good deal? Lemme know. And I hope you enjoy your day, whatever color it may be.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

apparently my obsession with cheap dairy knows no bounds...

Here you go!

Happy Free Cone Day! Remember, it's only until 8 pm tonight, so get your butt down to your local Ben & Jerry's for that free ice cream cone SOON. Before you have to fight with an eight year old for the last scoop of Cherry Garcia.

What do you get when you combine cheese with AWESOME?


Thanks Elle, for recommending it to me (she left it originally as a comment on one of my earlier blogs, but I wanted to give you guys the direct link.)

And following nicely along the themes of affordable fun that doesn't hurt (although your heart may grow a bit in size due to excess amounts of cheese), the admission fee is $5 and the competition fee is $10.

And who doesn't like grilled cheese sandwiches?

Monday, April 20, 2009

young, somewhat fabulous, occasionally broke

Do you ever have one of those days? When you feel like all the beautiful and nice things in the world, the things that you like so much, aren't actually meant for you, but for someone a little less...broke?

I do. And I'm not even broke, mind you. Yes, the economy sucketh whole-heartedly right now, so we're all feeling the pinch, and I'm an artist, and we all know when it comes to budget cuts and whose value gets overlooked first, it's the artists (see: impending SAG strike) that can take the brunt of it, and I'm not exactly frolicking in fields these days while I wait for my bank account to fill up again (there's also the little matter of my car breaking down about once every 4-6 weeks like Clockwork Orange).

But I love design blogs. They inspire me. Design blogs are basically photography, art, and lifestyle blogs that show you all the neat and pretty things you can buy in life. Some of those things are even useful. Like this, which I saw last week on one of my new favorite design blogs and even though I didn't know it existed twenty minutes prior, my heart yearned and ached for one and my right eye twitched a little. But while it's not outrageously expensive, it is beyond my self-inflicted allowance, and a girl's gotta stick to a budget. And practice self-control.

So I began thinking. What if there were a blog -- not necessarily just a design blog, however, because I believe in the importance of being well-rounded and blogging about different subjects to avoid being boxed in by yourself -- but a blog that focused on affordable ways to make your life better? And not just by consuming STUFF, either, because God knows we have enough STUFF. What if there were a blog that highlighted places to go, things to do and see, ways to get out in the world and meet new people, little things to buy that we can allow to make us just the tiniest bit happy, and the only rule was that any and all of that had to be under $15? Who would write such a blog?

Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Even if the question was posed by myself, thus making it slightly passive aggressive, but in a positive way. Whatever.

Anyways, I've decided to add this as a feature to my blog. At least once a week, I'm going to do my best to blog about something fun, new, exciting, and most importantly, affordable, whether it's a great cafe, a hiking trail I found, or a little trinket that will brighten your day but not set your wallet on fire. And yes, in case this is the first time you're reading this blog and you didn't look at my profile picture, I am a girl. So the small little shiny's will probably be...for girls. Hey, I'll do my best to stop by Woot every now and then and throw you guys a bone too. Or a thumb drive. Whichever.

This thought process actually started because I love reading about designing, architecture, style, art, fashion (within reason -- please, for your own sake, don't ever, ever look to this blog for purse/shoe suggestions; I am a girl, but not that much) and I wanted to take the ideas I was reading about and implement them into my own life. Only I can't afford $300 skirts or $500 coffee tables. Or $37 a plate meals.

As usual, I'm doing things my way, by asking for it all. I happen to think that just because I can't afford a $500 coffee table, I don't have to give up on having good things in my life; emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually. I think each one of us in the world owes the rest of the world our happiness, and happiness shouldn't have a price tag. And under no circumstances should people ever, EVER feel like they can't afford happiness.

So look for my first affordable blog later this week. I'm excited!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who's ready for April 15th, 2010?

Hi everyone! Did you all survive Tax Day? Yes? And did you all get your taxes done early, made sure to include all those nifty receipts that you kept diligently throughout the year, got all the write-offs you were supposed to get, didn't owe too much to the US government and sat back and relaxed on Tax Day?

No? Well then do I have a blog for you.

Now, there are some things you should know about me. For one, I don't claim to be good at something that I'm not. This is why you won't be reading any cute blogs about me successfully ice skating, playing darts, juggling, or skate boarding. Let's face it, there's just something about that pesky hand/eye/foot coordination thing which I am utterly lacking in, so it's a good thing I play with knives and sticks twice a week in my kung fu and escrima classes. Oh wait..

However, there are some things that I am good at. Noticing people's haircuts. Making deviled eggs. Changing the toilet paper roll. Purchasing Toll House cookie dough at the grocery store and then taking credit for the resulting cookie goodness that ensues after baking them in the oven for 9 to 12 minutes. (Incidentally, this is just enough time to watch an episode of Robot Chicken.)

I am also good with money. This is where you come in! (Oh wait, you've been here the whole time? So sorry for the long introduction. I'll add "brevity" to the list of things I'm bad at.)

So I thought I'd offer up some advice, the day after tax day, so that you may use it for next year's tax day. Good habits take a while to build.

First of all, duh: Save all your receipts. Alllll of them. I save all my gas receipts, food receipts, clothing, books, shoes, car repair, whatever. Use them for tax write-offs, and then use them to balance your checkbook. This is much easier than whatever other way people use to balance their checkbooks. And when you write actual checks (online billing is usually free and saves trees, but sometimes you have to write that check) the date, amount, and whom it was paid to should be written on the back of your checkbook. Separate immediately, not on April 12th, which receipts and bills you will be using for tax write-offs and which receipts and bills just need to be filed. Remember, if it's going with your taxes as backup, you need to keep it for seven years.

Second, and hang with me here, because I feel for you: If you have multiple jobs, like I do, (I know this is hard, but you HAVE to do it) ask for the maximum amount to be taken out for taxes for every paycheck. I know, I know. If you have multiple jobs, it's probably because you need all the money you can get. But have you noticed something? That maybe, after you've worked your butt off at multiple jobs throughout the year, come tax day, you...owe the government money? Does that seem fair?

Here's why. Because the government is looking at your paychecks one at a time. All they see is each paycheck individually, and they see that it's probably a small amount (otherwise why would you need multiple jobs?) so they take out less taxes because it looks like you are in a lower tax bracket. But if you do this with several jobs, each time the government assuming you are in the lowest tax bracket and taking out the smallest amount, you end up adding up all those jobs (and all that money) at the end of the year, and your income probably pushes you into a higher tax bracket that the government had no way of knowing you would qualify for. So you get screwed, because the government didn't take out enough taxes from your paychecks.

How to fix that? Talk to your employer, tighten up your $5 a day latte factor, and ask them to take out more money per paycheck. You'll thank me when it comes time to file your taxes next year.

And if you are well off, paying all the bills and still able to put some money into savings after every paycheck? Do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I just told those multiple jobbers to do. Have the least amount of money taken out of your paycheck and when you are done paying your bills put whatever you have left in your account (minus your allowance money for fun stuff and money to cover inconsisent expenses like food and gas) into savings right away, as in, by the end of the pay week. And here' s why it will work for you: because when you get a refund after tax day from the government, what you essentially did was loan the US money for a year, without getting any interest from it. That's a sucky loan to give to someone when you could have taken that money, put it into savings (try ING -- still a good interest rate in their savings accounts!), let it accrue interest and then pay the government what you owe while keeping the interest that the money earned you.

Got it? Yay! Money is fun! Taxes are...tolerable!

Monday, April 13, 2009

method acting, curses from God, and gratitude

This week's episode of Hell Froze Over brings us to a culmination of over a year's worth of work, starting way back in February of 2008 with one weekend set aside to shoot the pilot episode, then various weekends scattered throughout the rest of the year to shoot three or four episodes at a time. I met some incredible people, got to travel to the East Coast to shoot some of the episodes, made some new friends and made some already existing friendships better. I've been drenched in blood (as you will see in this episode and as you probably noted at the end of the "Prude" episode), ate jello and hot dogs to my heart's content, thrown up in bathtubs, spent a few hours locked in a car trunk, spent a few more hours rolling around on a sofa bed with a guy wearing a monster mask on top of me, and generally had an amazing time with the first season of this series. I can't say thank you enough, even though I have tried continually in my weekly blogs to do just that.

With that, I give you the last episode of Season One of Hell Froze Over, "The Reckoning". It's meant to be playful, weird, and more than a little disturbing, which I feel is the tone that Misplaced Planet truly intended for the series as a whole to convey. With this episode, they do a marvelous job and end our first season with a bang... and a couple whimpers.

And let me just say -- when I'm on the date, that anger that you see flashing in my eyes as my date's um, curse from God, really gets going? Yeah, that's not acting. Poor Mark.

You guys remember Mark. He's the Drama Queen that gets a little too suicidal on a date, likes to smash coke bottles with his hands and play with guns? (And also does a mean Charlie Chaplin?) Well, Mark was our blood effects guy on this episode. And if you see the behind-the-scenes footage of him off to the side, squirting me in the face with blood...

I should back up at this point and just say that normally I am a fairly easy going person. If I'm cranky, it usually only makes me more quiet than normal, I don't really have temper tantrums, it's fairly hard to make me mad... but I really, really don't like water, or any other substance honestly, hitting me in the face. In fact, it's safe to say that it makes me very uncomfortable, physically. And while Mark was sitting there, prepped to hit me in the face with blood via a turkey baster, I knew I wasn't going to react well. I breathed in. Breathed out. They called Action, Mark sprayed me in the face, and because they could really only do one take, you will see my acting reflect what was really going on, which is, basically: a) me barely holding it together, and b) me saying my lines while filled with what I can only categorize now as apoplectic rage. Mark went really still, sort of like an animal that knows it's going to get slaughtered if it makes the slightest movement, and then everyone called cut and I calmed down a bit. But I was really, really close for a second to punching Mark in the throat. And he knew it.

Sorry Mark.

To add to the "not my most fun moment shooting Hell Froze Over ever", was the fact that nobody on set was 100% sure that the blood wouldn't stain my skin. It was some mixture of food coloring and something that was sickeningly sweet that I was trying really, really hard not to gag on, and now this was going to be sprayed on my face? And the crew was saying, "We're pretty sure it won't stain, but just in case, as soon as we yell 'cut,' you should run up to the shower and rinse it off just so it's not still there when you're forty." And I was all, "Um...thanks?"

Luckily, I can now report back to you that things worked out for the best, both in that episode (no Marks were harmed in the making of "The Reckoning", my face was not permanently stained) and in the series itself. I've had so much fun, it's been a wonderful ride, and I'm hoping that I get to do a Season Two if you guys, the viewers, really dig it and help us promote it and spread the word. I can't thank you enough for everything you've already done.

I hope you enjoy the last episode of Season One and that you stay tuned for more adventures in Jody's dating life. I think it's gonna be a blast. But not in a turkey baster spraying blood on my face kind of blast.

Or maybe that's a more accurate portrayal of the series than I thought. Hmmm...

Also, I invite you all to stick around as I get back to my regularly scheduled blog in the next few days. Now that I'm done plugging Hell Froze Over episodes for a little bit, I've got some new weekly features to add to my blog and a lot more things that I want to start blogging about in addition to keeping everyone updated on what projects I'm working on, and I think you'll enjoy reading about them.

Thanks for reading so far :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

speaking of uncomfortable...

I changed my blog design.

I know, I know. You were so used to the black one. It was so sophisticated, in a New York sort of way, and it matched my dark sense of humor and nail polish so well.

The thing is, the sun has come out.

It's that rare time of year in Southern California where instead of skipping directly from Mildly Cold (I have a few East Coast readers who would stab me with a knitting needle if I deigned to call 60 degrees cold) to Really Damn Hot, there is a lovely in-between period, which I've heard people from other parts of the country that actually experience such things as "weather" and "seasons" call Spring.

Ah, spring. Spring is in the air. I feel like frolicking, and going on long drives, both of which I frequently do anyways, but that's not the point. The sun is out but it's not yet burning my shoulders (which inevitably freckle, thanks to my pale Scottish roots), there's a refreshing breeze in the air, birds are singing (I can literally hear them singing as I type this) and GOOD GOD I've become a raving optimist/romantic. I mean, blogging about singing birds? I might as well go down to Anaheim and audition for Snow White. Except I'm probably still too short. THANKS FOR BRINGING THAT UP AGAIN.

But seriously, every once in a while, I crave color, sunshine, happiness, good thoughts, singing loudly in cars, balloons, kittens, the whole nine yards of all that stuff that I usually try to maintain a healthy level of skepticism about. I desperately hold on to my New England roots of "if it's really, really cheerful, maybe we should shoot it," but I can't help but feel a little overcome by bright blue skies, puffy white clouds, and sun streaming through the window when I wake up in the mornings. Not to mention the daffodils that I got at Trader Joe's (thanks, Struggling Actress, for the daffodil recommendation) are still beside my alarm clock on my nightstand, in a bright apple green glass vase, and I can't help but smile.

So here I am, loving color again. My old place was all black and stainless steel, very efficient, very grown up, knowing exactly where it was going and what it was doing. Black and white photographs that I took of London hung on the walls in black frames. The bathroom? You guessed it. Black, white, stainless steel.

Um...yeah. My bathroom now? It looks like a marine biologist's happy place. Aquamarine glass tea light holders match aquamarine stones that I found at a craft store, which I'm using to decorate the base of my towel holder. I just bought bamboo soap and toothbrush holders (not to mention a bamboo tissue box cover) and I have white frames that have actual seashells in them holding pictures of the ocean that I've taken while in Laguna Beach, Mexico, and Bermuda. And this is probably the time to mention that I found matching aquamarine towels on sale at Ikea. I know, I need help. I won't even go into the bamboo wooden elephant wind chime that I have hanging from the ceiling. It's just too much.

Except...it isn't. I feel lighter these days, and I want my space to reflect that. I want color, and I want flowers, and I want to be a girl without apologizing for it. Because in case you haven't noticed, girls rock.

Ergo, color. Color is everywhere in my room, not like in a "Rachel Ray threw up" kind of a way, and it doesn't look like I live in a circus, per se... but I bought some colorful frames (again, Ikea) that I'm going to use to house pictures of my loved ones, and I'm putting out all my beautiful colorful lanterns that I've collected, and it's just enough color. And no pink in sight, so it's not like anyone has to hold an intervention. Just lots of bright green, deep royal blue, and a nice dark red.

And since I got so addicted to light and fresh color in my living space, I figured my blog space should reflect the same. Hope you enjoy, and that my blog brightens your day just a little bit.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Creeped out, weird, and uncomfortable

These are just some of the words people are using when they tell me their feelings about the latest episode of Hell Froze Over. Ah, yes. The "Inspector" episode. I'm not that surprised.

The thing is, we're getting down to the last couple episodes of Hell Froze Over, people. Time to pull out all the stops. Try something new. Scare people a little. Wear red dresses and pretend you're in a David Lynch film.

You know how it is.

At any rate, "Inspector" is not only an homage to several different genres (including but not limited to psychological thriller, horror, and sci-fi) but also an attempt to take you, the viewer who thought you knew so well where Hell Froze Over was going, and turn your world upside down.

And just like when you actually, PHYSICALLY go upside down, it's odd, uncomfortable, and you're not quite sure you like it at first. After all, isn't predictability more fun? Isn't the world a better place when you know what to expect, and things aren't all...weird?

But in the end, it's those moments of play, those unexpected surprises, the weird and trippy new thing that someone tries out, that make for some of the best moments in life and art. Some people inevitably won't like this episode. Some people will find it their favorite. Some people, having never watched an episode of Hell Froze Over before, will go back and watch every other episode in the series based on this one, I guarantee you. And I can probably also bet that some people might not watch another episode after this (which is a damn shame, because we've still got one episode left, and we're gearing up to do a whole lot of fun stuff this summer to prep for what we hope is another season!).

So watch the episode, love it, hate it, tell your friends and family either way, but please don't ever think for a moment that a) you knew what Hell Froze Over and Misplaced Planet was capable of as a series and a production company, and b) that art, film, and entertainment are meant to be safe and stay inside a box.

Have fun. Live a little. Get down with your uncomfortable self. And enjoy the episode. Everything we do, we do for you.*

*Wait, that's a Bryan Adams lyric, isn't it. Damn it.
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