Friday, December 27, 2013

The Blonde in the Convertible


I have always remembered that classic scene from "American Graffiti" where Suzanne Somers got her big break as the mystery blonde in the white convertible....

Suzanne Somers...."American Graffiti"

So while living in L.A. back in 2000 when it was time to get a new car I decided on a convertible, a Chrysler Sebring JXI. The reason I am writing about it now is up until earlier this year I was STILL driving that car!

It was paid for in cash so I decided to keep it for as long as possible.  I did not grow up with the kind of money where people just bought cars outright. "Paid for" meant no payments for as long as the car lasted. I did keep the car for as long as possible, for 13 years! It was garaged every day (you have to with a ragtop), and very well preserved because of it. As the years went on I would drive by other cars my model and year and every year they looked a little older, but not my Sebring!

Not long after driving my new baby off the lot all of those years ago I registered it with various casting companies because they sometimes like to book actors with certain cars. Convertibles are especially popular. I also registered it with Showmobiles Inc., Hollywood Picture Cars and Picture Vehicles who provide vehicles for film and TV.

"Three Days In Vegas"....Tropicana Hotel, 2012
Fortunately for me it turns out "a blonde in a convertible" is a fairly regular request for TV and film. Shortly after my purchase my car and I made our first appearance in a TV series called "Once and Again", parked outside a diner in a scene. I got paid, my Sebring got paid, everyone was happy!  Then a few years later I had a lead role in an episode of "Final Justice". The jeep that was supposed to be used in the scene on the day of shooting stalled on the way there and with no time to replace it, my car had it's first leading role, with me...it even got some good close-ups.

After that me and my Sebring appeared in several TV shows and films together. I never kept track of my car's credits so I don't remember them all, but some of them were "Ocean's Eleven", "Rush Hour II", "Looney Tunes:Back in Action", "Paradise", and a Russian film, "Three Days in Vegas", (which was its last appearance).

"Paradise"... on the set downtown Las Vegas 2012
In recent years as the repairs became more frequent my husband kept reminding me that I could get a new car, I didn't have to keep repairing this one. I held my ground. Truth is I had become a little attached to my Sebring. It drove me to Vegas the first time I moved here from L.A., It was stored for 3 years when I lived in NYC, and was like an old friend waiting for me when I moved back west....looking just as new as the day I'd bought it. My car and I had history.

I had planned to keep the convertible and turn it into a classic, storing it after getting my new car, as I expected the time would soon come. One day not long ago, the Sebring blew a gasket, erupting into what looked like bright orange lava spewing from under the hood and forming a 30 foot trail in the driveway.

At that time I decided to let it go. I'm not really much of a tomboy and replacing the engine was not up my alley. So, rather than going that route I sold it to a thrilled mechanic who planned to give the engine an overhaul and sell it to someone else. I have to admit I actually cried a little that day. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. A friend , however, who at least lives on in cinema history.

After a respectable "grieving period" the Sebring was replaced with a new set of wheels. Now I really am the blonde in the white convertible...and so a new chapter begins...



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Seasons Greetings from a feline hacker

My sister's cat hacked my blog.
He must really have something to say if he was willing to 
go to this trouble, so I am letting him post for today!

Stryder Lumpkins, St. Paul, MN
I must say there have been some strange goings on at my habitat.  The humans have been behaving unusually.  

They have brought a tree inside our home, however refusing to let us properly climb it.  They have attached a water bowl at the bottom, but will not allow us to drink from it.  


They have placed balls all over the tree but do not allow the new puppy, Blu to play with them.  A toy ball occupies a canine for at least 10 minutes. Now I can’t count, but judging by how many balls with which they have deluged the tree, it could buy us cats quite alot of time to get around and about without being pursued by our sister of canine persuasion.  Hmph…wasted opportunity, to say the least.

In addition, they have strewn many objects of varying shapes about the house.  It is evident to us that they are pet toys because they are covered in highly shreddable material, with a most grand feature of streamers trailing from them, which are ideal for pawing at.  However, they will not share them with us even though they do not play with them themselves!

They are walking around doing that weird “singing” thing that humans do far more frequently than normal, and they almost burned a fat red guy in the chimney!

Something is definitely off…  Oh no!  Here comes the puppy… I just know she wants to lick my head again… she is so very uncouth sometimes.  Oh never mind, she is instead licking her own head.  

Perhaps you can shed some light, help us pets out.  I regret to say that it took me 20 minutes to find my favorite plastic mouse yesterday, what with all their unusual objects strewn about!  I simply do not have that kind of time, it seriously cuts into my nap time.  Oh well, please forgive me but I am afraid I really must go now as my little sister Scarlet has just pounced upon my head, and I simply cannot resist a good feline chase!

With Fond Feline Wishes,

Stryder Lumpkins
(Co-written by Julie Lumpkins)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa Land Diaries........On Ice

"Here I was a 33 year old man applying for a job as an Elf."  -David Sedaris

Santa Land Diaries by David Sedaris is his retelling of one of his more unusual jobs before he became a published writer.  I think this was an excerpt in a magazine and my first introduction to him which got me hooked on his witty observations of life.



When I really get into a writer I will check out all of their books so as to get "into their head".  I did this with Sedaris and found him to be highly entertaining and even educational....(of course some of the things I learned I would have preferred not to know!)

What I like most about David Sedaris is he can take any life experience and remind the reader of the humor (and humanity) of what seems at first glance otherwise ordinary.

I haven't yet read his most recent book but have all of the others.  All of his stories are not real and you are left to guess which ones are, which to me is part of the fun of the journey of his works.  Did he hitchhike across the country? Live in a nudist colony? Work as a house painter for a year with an ex con? Have a daughter whose wisdom teeth he tried to remove on his own? Some of these are true...but by the way he writes them it is hard to tell which ones aren't.

He also has the rare ability to write so well in the first person of a fictional character that you forget it is a fictional character. For example the suburban wife writing her annual family holiday newsletter and informing everyone of her husband's adult  illegitimate son from a previous relationship they just discovered and how they are all welcoming him into the family, (meanwhile resentment oozing out of every other sentence just under the surface of forced cheerfulness).

Looking forward to whatever he comes up with next...
 

David Sedaris...........Photo bingimages.com
 
Books by David Sedaris

"I started writing when I was 20 and my first book came out 17 years later."  - David Sedaris


Holidays On Ice...Six Christmas stories....none typical

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls..."Hilarious, elegant, and suprisingly moving'....Washington Post

Me Talk Pretty One Day.....this best seller contains a collection of his best work

When you are Engulfed in Flames....contains of his best stories ever, his attempt to quit smoking while on a trip to Tokyo

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk....A Modest Bestiary ...(note from blogger, my sister Julie would like this book as she sometimes sends me emails as if she were her cat).

Naked....Fact or fiction? Yes and no.

Santa Land Diaries....Worked as a Macy's Elf in NYC and lived to tell about it

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim...Like talking to a friend about your childhoods and realizing you all went through the same weird and wonderful journey

Barrel Fever....Clever, fresh and high energy

Children playing before a Statue of Hercules.....a book of short stories David Sedaris loves most by some of his favorite writers...Of this book he says "the authors in this book are huge to me and I am a comparative midget, scratching around in their collective shadow".....(I did not know about this book so I just now downloaded it on my Kindle).

Plays

The Santa Land Diaries and Seasons Greetings

All of the above are also available on audio.





 "I like to reserve the right to write about anything I like."   -David Sedaris



Links to sources:

amazon.com/David-Sedaris

goodreads.com/DavidSedaris


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tales from the set....American Country Awards

Today I put on my "stand in" hat again to work the American Country Awards in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Event Center.

Because there are a few major country music awards shows they often get mixed up in people's minds... there are the ACA's, the ACMA's, and the CMA's. I work the ACMA's and the ACA's.

The "American Country Awards" are the awards voted by the fans, (like the People's Choice Awards).

As a rehearsal actress it can get very busy running from backstage to the stage to rehearse presenting an award or performing then out to the house seats standing in and accepting an award for a winner. Today wasn't one of those days because the performers were all mostly already there so I was able to watch and enjoy. It's nice when this happens, but rare.

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick made her debut as a TV host and I thought she pulled it off! Loved her attitude and confidence. Since she has a job risking her life on a regular basis I suppose live hosting is not that scary if you compare the two. This is probably how she was able to gather the courage to strut on stage in a showgirl costume and look amazing while doing so!

Danica Patrick...World's first race car driver/show girl!
bingimages.com

I must say that the ACA host, (for the fourth year), Trace Adkins sure knows how to fill out a racing suit!...(He also wears a showgirl costume...kind of...YouTube it and you'll see). I like Trace as host because he nails the straight man role to a "T"...He is as tall as he looks at 6' 6"...So he makes everyone seem small. I have worked with him several times on various shows and the only thing he ever really says to me is "Who are you?".....(I'm kidding)!

Trace and Danica...bingimages.com


The two best performances of this show in my book are the duet with Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker and then LeAnn Rimes' tribute to Patsy Cline.
 
Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker (formerly Hootie of Hootie and the Blowfish, he has been a country singer for several years now), sounded great together....The song is called 'Wagon Wheel' and it's a bit of a hokey title but it reminds me of something Johnny Cash would have done.

LeAnn Rime's career has cooled off a bit these past few years so I am betting she is feeling pretty good right now after blowing us all away tonight! Good for her, everyone needs a second wind.

For LeAnn it is the mark of a 20 year journey that started at ten years old. Although she began performing at age five, it wasn't until she was ten that she was discovered by disc jockey and songwriter Bill Mack, while singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at a sporting event in Texas.

Bill Mack was so impressed with her talent he helped her get her big break, which was recording a song he wrote called "Blue" that he had originally began composition of for Patsy Cline just before her death in 1963. He had never done anything with it, until LeAnn Rimes came along. Although she had recorded a few songs independently before this, "Blue" is what gave her her career. Several years ago I worked with Bill Mack a few times and he talked to me about this. What he said was that he didn't hear a ten year old girl when he first heard LeAnn sing, but a full fledged gifted artist, far beyond her years. He felt compelled to help her and boy did he ever! (The success of "Blue" did not hurt him either, he won a Grammy Award for the song as did she).

Watching her rehearse her Patsy Cline tribute today it seemed there couldn't have been a better artist to do so. I have seen LeAnn perform other songs and she has exceptional "pipes" but there is something about when she sings Patsy Cline that is goose bump inducing, it is as if Patsy is right there with her!

So, the National Finals Rodeo concluded today after ten days in town as well as the American Country Awards. This is the end of my awards show work for the year. Will have to see what awards show surprises next year brings!

Rounding off our 12th year on awards shows.
Have worked with my sister Karen since the beginning.


Leann Rimes Patsy Cline Tribute....YouTube


Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas "presents"


 (This is a timely re-post from my blog essay from last December.)

...One of my favorite things was the fish bowl effect of my face as I peered into a colored glass Christmas tree ornament.

Remember the giant colored lights, each the size of a spark plug? We had those...and the tinsel that you toss on the tree in little handfuls, which looked great when the tree was lit up but kind of gaudy during the light of day.

Some years mom would let us play hooky for a day and take us to Dayton's department store in downtown Minneapolis. They had a fantasy holiday display on the sixth floor that changed every Holiday season. The one I remember most was "Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory". At eight years old I thought it was the real thing!

As I finish Christmas this year I am thinking of many past holiday seasons. Of course it is bittersweet due to the loss of my mother in October, but a worthwhile journey back in time.


For years there was the annual Christmas cookie baking day with my mom and sisters. Snicker doodles, Russian tea cakes, sugar cookies, and several more. It took all day but we made quite a team, the four of us! We traded with the neighbors and between all the families had every kind of Christmas cookie under the sun.

We always each got a giant candy cane that lasted for days.

My parents had five children and a one income household. Just covering the gifts for the lot of us was an undertaking. So I don't remember any real big or brand name surprises for myself or my siblings. My Barbies were all generic, never the Mattel ones. We didn't care. Instead of Pac Man we had Snack Man....no I'm not kidding. Was just as fun.

Christmas Day was for sledding, or to be more accurate, tobogganing! Luckily dad didn't have to take us far. Our front yard was the perfect hill.

What occurred to me when my mind wandered through my own holiday memory lane is that it's the memories themselves, not the presents that I seem to recall and treasure the most.


Anna Wendt Copyright 2012.

Photo courtesy of bingimages.com

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My top holiday "at home" movie picks!


Here are some of my suggestions for movies to rent or stream during the holidays.

I left out some of the obvious classics like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story"....You don't need me to remind you.

Also, not all films on the list are specifically holiday movies, but are still favorites of mine this time of year and serve as a great background for writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, or just getting a laugh watching "on screen" families more dysfunctional than our own!


Scrooged!.....Bill Murray as the typical workaholic of the late 1980's...




A Christmas Memory....Starring Patty Duke. This is based on the poignant short story by Truman Capote, (which I also recommend).

The Santa Clause (Part 1 only)....Tim Allen attempts to fight his destiny to be the next Santa Claus.

Christmas with the Kranks....Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. A tropical vacation instead of Christmas? Who hasn't dreamed of that!

Christmas Time in South Park...Just another reminder you can get away with anything if it's a cartoon.

12 Men of Christmas....Kristin Chenowith....Major chick flick!



These two are not for the kids and in pretty bad taste but too FUNNY to leave out!

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas....Hard to keep up with at times there is so much going on, but in a good way. Horribly crude but in a "non offensive" way...,;)


Bad Santa....Billy Bob Thornton is perfectly cast as the worst mall Santa Claus of all time. Also, this is one of the last films of the late John Ritter and Bernie Mac who are perfectly cast as the uptight store manager and head of security.

 
These below are not necessarily movies about the holidays but a good watch during the Christmas, Hannukkah, and New Year's Break!

Goodwill Hunting....Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck.....Blue collar Cinderella story

Last Holiday.....Queen Latifah plays a woman who finds out she has a short time to live and plans to live it up! Also stars LL Cool J and Timothy Hutton.

Rush Hour.....Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker....it's just funny because it's a little "off".



Bridget Jones Diary.....Renee Zellweger is a hot cute mess and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are easy on the eyes, oh and don't forget the awesome fight scene.

Austin Powers "The Spy Who Shagged Me".....The original and best of them. Mike Myers tribute to his late father.

The Holiday....Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trade houses and lives....

Trading Places....I put this on all of my movie pick lists. One of the five best comedies of all time! Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy are beyond compare as Louise Winthorp III and Billy Ray Valentine. Jamie Lee Curtis makes a great "hooker with a stock portfolio".


The Wedding Singer....Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. How can you not root for these two?...And who knew Billy Idol was funny!



Everyone Says I Love You....I always have to include a Woody Allen flick and this one is the kind of movie you either love or hate. If you're not sure if you will like it here's a hint, Ed Norton sings and Julie Roberts sleeps with Woody Allen. (Oh yeah and my cousin Tim plays the doctor in the hospital scene so that's a bonus.)

Groundhog's Day...Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell....reminds how much one can do with a day when not busy complaining.

Mr. Deeds (both the original with Gary Cooper and the re-make with Adam Sandler)....simple but some how not simple.

The Royal Tannenbaums....Gene Hackman, Angelica Houston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke and Owen Wilson....Are there actually real families like this? This movie proves that just because a couple has money does not mean they will have normal children!


Here are my picks for the worst holiday movies....(might want to skip these turkeys)!


Home For The Holidays...Jodie Foster....one word, depressing.

Polar Express....I'm sorry but this movie just made me sad, not jolly, even a little creeped out.

The Santa Clause Part 2 and 3.....yawn

Surviving Christmas....Ben Affleck and James Gondolfini.....Ben Affleck's character pays some miserable family to keep him company at Christmas....as if!


BONUS...

Last but not least I've been requested to add my sister Karen's favorite pick for the holidays which this year includes the "National Lampoon Vacation" films!... 

National Lampoon Vacation, National Lampoon European Vacation, National Lampoon Christmas Vacation and National Lampoon Vegas Vacation!....(I think she just has a crush on Clark Griswold).




Please fee free to add any of your favorite holiday films 
to the list by entering them as a comment!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Taste of Shakespeare

I had a chance this fall to join up and work with a great group, "The Shakespeare Institute of Nevada."

I love this troupe because of their passion for bringing to all the understanding and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare!

Here is my "vlog" (video blog for those of you not familiar) on my experience performing as Olivia in Twelfth Night in A Taste of Shakespeare, on October 5 at The Hills Park Amphitheater.

This is my first ever "VLOG."

YouTube link:

"A Taste of Shakespeare" by Anna Wendt



Featured actors.....






My related blog articles:

Ode to the Marys....Hollywood Underdog



Facebook.com/ShakesInstNV

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Even Famous Actors had to Audition first

If you don't work in the entertainment industry you probably don't realize that actors aren't allowed to audition for roles unless they are specifically invited by a casting director. Except for open calls, which are few and far between.  "Crashing"  an audition by just showing up or sending in an unsolicited audition tape does not get you in the door, which is to say although it can happen it's extremely rare.

So, if an actor hears about a part that's being cast and is perfect for it, that doesn't mean they'll ever even get a chance to audition. Most of the time they won't. First of all, much of the time you have to be submitted to casting through an agent, or if not, then know about and get invited to audition another way, by a manager or directly through the casting director.

For me almost every role I have ever booked has been directly through a casting director. They have always seemed to have much more imagination for what I can do than an agent who seem to want to put me in a certain category and "sell me" that way only, which is common with many agents and most actors don't take it personally.

I didn't understand the above when I first got into the business of acting. I thought, like most, that I could read for most parts that fit my type, so all I had to do was make an impression on the casting director(s) at the audition to land a role. Quickly I learned how untrue that is. As I mentioned earlier though I found what works for me most of the time. For example, I once landed a lead role in an episode of a Lifetime production just by sending in a head shot and resume to the casting director. Didn't even have to audition. Almost never happens that way.

Every famous actor at some time or another had to audition for that role that gave them their big break and many successful actors who are celebrities in their own right still have to audition for certain roles. Most of the time for them it's in the version of a screen test....with the director present and their reading taped rather than just in the casting office. Also, most roles, even those that are just a few lines usually require at least two auditions before booking. There's the introduction audition and then the "call back" as it's referred to. Lead roles are usually multiple auditions.

Below are seven auditions of famous actors for roles of which they all landed the part. (At the bottom of this article are the text links to YouTube for media players that do not display embedded video.)


Robert DeNiro...."The Godfather" Audition



Rachel McAdams....."The Notebook" Audition



Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl screen test for "Knocked Up"




 Carrie Fisher..... "Star Wars" Audition




Beyonce...."Dreamgirls" Screen Test





 Aaron Paul.... "Breaking Bad"



And one of the best auditions from the archives.....Henry Thomas...."E.T."




Links to YouTube for the above auditions:

Robert DeNiro....The Godfather Audition





Beyonce....Dreamgirls Screen Test

Aaron Paul.....Breaking Bad Audition

Henry Thomas.....E.T. Audition


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween...Did you know?

Happy Halloween from Robin Hood!

Why do we dress up, ask for candy, gross each other out and enjoy acting ridiculous?

To find the answer I checked the ultimate source of course, Wikipedia!

What I found were many descriptions of and slight variations of the origins and meaning of "Halloween."

Did you know?

-Halloween is not only celebrated in the U.S. but also countries like Belgium, Scotland, Italy and Canada, to name a few.

-The carved Jack O' Lantern was originally a carved turnip

-There are many explanations of  the origin of what we call Halloween. The over riding theme is that Halloween is to celebrate and welcome the souls of the dead to return home on one night or day of the year. This seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world

-Today's Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween falls on the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows' Day on November 1 and All Soul's Day on November 2, thus giving the holiday on October 31 the full name of All Hallows' Eve.

 "Souling", the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls, has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating.The custom dates back at least as far as the 15th century and was found in parts of England, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during "Hallowmas", collecting soul cakes as a means of praying for souls in purgatory.

What do ghosts put on their bagels?....Scream Cheese!

 
- Dressing up in costumes and going "guising" was prevalent in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween by the late 19th century. Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in the US in the early 20th century, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.

- At one time, candy apples were commonly given to trick-or-treating children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples in the United States.While there is evidence of such incidents, relative to the degree of reporting of such cases, actual cases involving malicious acts are extremely rare and have never resulted in serious injury.

- A popular variant of trick-or-treating, known as trunk-or-treating (or Halloween tailgaiting), occurs when "children are offered treats from the trunks of cars parked in a church parking lot," or sometimes, a school parking lot In a trunk-or-treat event, the trunk (boot) of each automobile is decorated with a certain theme,such as those of children's literature, movies, scripture and job roles.Because the traditional style of trick-or-treating was made impossible after Hurricane Katrina, trunk-or-treating provided comfort to those whose homes were devastated.  Trunk-or-treating has grown in popularity due to its perception as being more safe than going door to door, a point that resonates well with parents.

Trunk or Treating.....Photo from Wikipedia
Personally speaking I have always been equally intrigued and a little weirded out by Halloween and so only celebrate it every other year or so. Seems to always be a few out there who take it too far with the costumes and grotesque pranks. Also, I am a total baby when it comes to anything scary. For example to my recollection I have only seen two horror movies in my e n t i r e life. "The Exorcist"  and "The Fourth Kind". Two was too many for me!


"Give them pleasure....the same pleasure they have when waking up from a nightmare." - Alfred Hitchcock


Have a great Halloween! 

Had to add this....My Grandma Mary won $$ in the costume contest today!

 



Sources: Wikipedia.org/HALLOWEEN and Yahoo.com










Sunday, October 27, 2013

That Great Day

As I sat there on Saturday night, October 26, 2013 in a darkened L.A. theater watching my favorite blues/gospel artist perform, I thought of last year on the exact same date as I watched the exact same artist, Jonny Lang, but in a much different state of mind.

October 26, 2012....I was soothed by his presence and energy and the ethereal quality of his music but a deep and foreboding sense of dread encompassed me because I knew what was going on with my mother could end in her passing.....and it did.....the next day.

It might seem strange that I would have been at a concert on that night last year but as I couldn't be back in Minnesota and would just go crazy worrying at home, my husband encouraged us to go. Seeing Jonny is like going to church it is that affecting. I wrote about it last year in a blog about how his music soothed me. That night when the song "That Great Day" filled the room it was the passion and depth in which he conveyed its message that right then I decided would be a beautiful song for a memorial service, and it was, a week later.

Jonny Lang....ASCAP Festival 2012
Hearing it again last night from him and his band effected me in a different way than a year ago. I just sat there with my eyes closed appreciating the lessening of the grief now 365 days later of what  had consumed me in various ways this past year, rising and withdrawing in waves at unpredictable times. Most reading this know exactly what I mean. (If you are one of the minority who have not yet experienced the finality of loss of a close loved one, for that be grateful!)

For those of you who very recently have, I can speak from at least my experience that it does get better. Less profound and further away and some of the good memories start coming in and can make you smile instead of just tear up. The lesson I take from the passing of time of losing a loved one is the gift of knowing that the absence of intense grief is something to be thankful for.

One of the main reasons I starting writing about creatives artists and my own experiences is because of my passion and belief that those with the desire to share what they create should be encouraged to do so. Imagine the music, writing, and art of so many gifted people that would never have been put out there to be experienced if someone hadn't encouraged them, or they hadn't the confidence or courage to pursue it themselves.

As a wise person once said, we are spiritual beings inside human bodies. Our heart, mind, and soul need nourishment as much as our bodies. People like Jonny Lang give it. They share the gifts they were given and work very hard to grow and evolve as people and as artists.

Here is the song that touched me so much my family included it in my mother Mary's service. I'm sure it has done the same for many. I chose this YouTube version a fan recorded in 2011 because it best captures the essence.


"I wrote this song so quickly one night as I was falling asleep that I'm sure it did not come from me."  -Jonny Lang


YouTube Link posted by Ric McMiliian...


"That Great Day".....Live acoustic version.....Jonny Lang 





"Wander Jonny's World"......Hollywood Underdog 2012

Jonny Lang....originally from Fargo, ND, at 32 he is a father of four with wife Haylie. Already a 20 year veteran of the music industry since 1994 he has been showing the world that some Midwesterners got soul.

JonnyLang.com


Photo....Jonny Lang....ASCAP Music Festival courtesy of Bingimages.com

Friday, October 18, 2013

Paradise?

Paradise, which debuts in select theaters today is also a play on words about Las Vegas.....(in case you didn't catch that)!
 
The film is about a young woman, played by Julianne Hough, who grows up in a small and strict religious community. She takes us with her on her journey as she leaves home after a personal tragedy scars her for life and she travels to Las Vegas in order to experience the exact opposite of everything she has ever known. There she meets bartender (Russell Brand) and slightly jaded lounge singer (Octavia Spencer).

This is another production I worked on and received a credit for but was cut from the final edit. The scene is on Fremont Street with Julianne Hough and Octavia Spencer as they make their way through the crowd and encounter Norma and I. So, although I am officially part of the cast, (listed as "Woman in the way"), I do not actually appear in the film...it happens quite often at my level in the biz.


Me and Norma...3am on Fremont St....set of Paradise..April 2012
In this story, like so many set in Vegas and the strip, the city is depicted as the playground of the weird, freaky, fun and slightly scary where the hapless tourists are cajoled and influenced into all kinds of "sins".....Yes, that does happen here and on a daily basis, but what I find funny is that it's the tourists who are walking around drunk, spending too much, passing out in night clubs, forgetting where they are staying, and many times basically leaving their common sense back home. Us locals....mostly we are the ones working behind the bar, dealing the cards, greeting your hungover butt on the trade show floor, driving the cabs and preparing the gourmet meals. So, is it Las Vegas, or the people who come here that make it so crazy?...Of course the answer is both.

Not that us residents don't get our "wild" on sometimes but less than you'd think....a lot less. The reason for this is probably because when it's there for you 24/7 anytime you want, it's no big deal and so not a priority. When I tell people I meet I live in Las Vegas I a lot of times get an amused look and many times then the question..."How can someone live in Las Vegas?"...."Quite comfortably" I usually reply, "in the suburbs 20 minutes away from the strip!'.

Octavia Spencer and Julianne Hough

My former car, my Chrysler Sebring convertible also appears in this film....fun when that happens because we both get paid. I almost sold it to the production company because the red Sebring convertible Julianne's character drives in the film was driven from the previous shoot location in Louisiania to downtown Las Vegas but was stolen the first day it arrived! They did find the car however and so I kept mine and it just had a cameo...(so to speak).

This is the second time I have worked with Julianne Hough as I stood in for her a few times on "Dancing with the Stars."...Fortunately us stand ins were not required to dance for that show....because trust me my dancing would not very closely resemble hers....she is quite a force!

Writer and Director Brooke Busey-Maurio.....(better known by her pseudonym Diablo Cody), won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for her film, Juno....She first became known as a blogger who chronicled her year as a stripper in Minneapolis in a blog title that I can't print here....and then her subsequent book of the same story, "Candy Girl"...Paradise is her directorial debut.

I watched an advance version of this film (in reverse of most movie releases it first premiered on DirecTV and Amazon) and suggest it as a cable or DVD pick....easily watchable but not intense enough for a run to the theater....and oh, they should have let Julianne sing more!









Get to know my friend pictured with me, Norma....a real Las Vegas showgirl and so much more!

"Norma In Motion"


Friday, October 11, 2013

Unleash Your Leopard!


A great scarf is one of the best fashion accessories one can have on hand!

As A Harper's Bazaar Style Ambassador I received this versatile and chic Unleash Your Leopard scarf compliments of Chico's. For every one of these limited edition $25 scarves purchased through their website a portion goes to Stand Up To Cancer.

During setup of a recent performance I asked my fellow actors with "The Shakespeare Institute of Nevada" to use the scarf in their own individual way and boy did they ever, proving that this scarf looks good on everyone!

"Unleash Your Leopard"....98 second video   


 "Unleash Your Leopard" Video....90 Seconds


Link to Facebook Photo Album...."Unleash Your Leopard!"

Chicos.com

HarpersBazaar.com

Standup2cancer.org


Special thanks to the scarf models, members of "The Shakespeare Institute of Nevada!"

Morgan Hill, Olga Virchinina, Carmen Gigar, Dan Decker, David Hart, Jenn Banda, Lisa Arellanes, JJ Gatesman, James Moniz, Peter Newman, Rachele Roach, Natalie Senecal, Kristina Shrewsbury, Jean Sulli, Michael Uribes, Big Sexy White

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ode to the Marys


"All the world's a stage and the men and 
women merely players" ....William Shakespeare

Tomorrow I am taking the stage for the first time in 13 years in a William Shakespeare production, this time as Olivia in Twelfth Night.

"Taste of Shakespeare" is an all day event with a series of vignettes from his plays among other things such as stage combat demonstrations, and "Shakesperaoke"...(yes, it is what it sounds like)!

Classical theater, but especially Shakespeare is something I loved learning and doing as part of the performing arts program at Stella Adler Academy. Embodying the roles of Ophelia in Hamlet and Regan in King Lear, I found them to be profoundly challenging and even more rewarding. Always meaning to get back to it, I had put it off as an indulgence of my creative side that I would eventually "fit" back into my life.

Tired but happy...36 hours to show time, Anna, Kristina, Peter

Well, finally, this summer I did. I brushed the dust off of my books of sonnets, plays, and my corset and long black skirt and went back to work re-learning Elizabethan prose and Iambic pentameter.

More importantly though, has been delving back into the humanity, tragedy, sensuality and comedy that make up Shakespeare's works....as well as being surrounded by the actors, writers, directors and everyone involved who love it as much as I do.

One of the main reasons for my return to the Bard, besides the fact I have wanted to join The Shakespeare Institute of Nevada for awhile now, is because of one of the last things my mother ever said to me..."You have been given certain gifts in life and if you do not use them you will never be happy"..... My mother Mary, whose birthday is today, Oct. 4, passed away last October.

Our parents teach us many things in life but the most important lesson may be in their final act here on Earth....their passing. This reminds us in a way we cannot deny that our lives here are finite, and in that knowing is a certain fearlessness and awareness that everything cannot be about logic, income and list making. Some things must be experienced simply for the love of it!

So, tomorrow is dedicated to my late mother Mary, my grandmother Mary, (who is still with us and continues to inspire me), and my Mother-In-Law Marilyn who is flying in for the festival. Ode to the Marys!...




Link:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

TEN Tips to survive and thrive at a big event!

In my parallel career as a professional in the convention and marketing industry I have participated in over 200 trade shows and events. I wrote this blog article today for a marketing client and realized that whether you are working on a trade show floor, on the set of a production, attending a large music festival or amusement park weekend, these tips can help you get through and enjoy yourself while at it!

TEN TIPS to survive and thrive at any day long or multiple day event...

1. Hydrate! One of the leading causes of exhaustion is dehydration. Drink a lot of water, but not just that. Gatorade and juice are also excellent choices. SMOOTHIES are another great energy boost, as is fruit such as pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe.

2. Wear comfortable (but always stylish) shoes in a HALF SIZE larger than you usually wear. As your feet swell they won't also be constricted by the shoes. 

3. Have a personal emergency kit in your bag or briefcase, safety pins, breath mints, small tissue pak, a piece of fruit or snack and whatever else you may need to keep you going.

4. Sit down once in awhile BEFORE your feet start throbbing or your back starts hurting.

5. EAT enough calories, especially at breakfast!!....Not just coffee. I have seen people literally faint from not eating enough while working a trade show. This is NOT the time for calorie restriction.

6. Don't order alcohol after 11pm or drink much during the day, make every other drink a non alcoholic one. I have seen people pass out at events they waited months to go to, or even at family amusement parks...not the memory you are looking for, or the professional image you want to convey if this is a work event. People may laugh about it with you but most will secretly disrespect you for not being able to manage yourself.

7. Humidify your hotel room. Sometimes while traveling many experience dry nose and mouth. Here is an EASY way to humidify your hotel room. Fill your bathtub about 1/4 full and leave the bathroom door open. The water will evaporate into your room increasing the humidity. It really works!

8. Don't carry too heavy of a shoulder bag and be sure to change sides every hour or so to prevent all of the weight from stressing one side of your body.

9. Stretch your back once in awhile by bending over and reaching gently towards your toes...then VERY slowly lift up. An energizing stretch!

10. PACE yourself! Don't try to do it all at full speed the first half of the first day. This is a multiple day event and requires consistent energy spread out over time. Give yourself a break once in awhile and you'll have a great event!

CES 2012...Ten hours on our feet, three days in a row...but still smiling!

As a 17 year veteran of the convention/marketing industry I have participated in over 200 trade shows....(and gone through many pairs of shoes in the meantime).
TEN TIPS to survive and thrive on the trade show floor!
1. Hydrate! One of the leading causes of exhaustion is dehydration. Drink a lot of water, but not just that. Gatorade and juice are also excellent choices. SMOOTHIES are another great energy boost, as is fruit such as pineapple, watermelon, and canteloupe.
2. Wear comfortable but stylish shoes in a HALF SIZE larger than you usually wear. As your feet swell they won't also be constricted by the shoes.  (They don't have to be ugly). I have several pairs of comfortable convention shoes that also look great!
3. Have a small trade show emergency kit in your bag or briefcase, safety pins, breath mints, small tissue pak, a piece of fruit or snack and whatever else you may need to keep you going.
4. Sit down once in awhile BEFORE your feet start throbbing or your back starts hurting.
5. EAT enough calories, especially at breakfast!!....not just coffee. I have seen people literally faint from not eating enough while working a trade show. This is NOT the time for calorie restriction.
6. Don't drink alchohol after 11pm, switch to a non alchoholic drink. Yes, I know it's Vegas, but trust me this system  has worked for me for almost 2 decades.
7. Humidify your hotel room. While in our lovely desert many experience dry nose and mouth. (I am used to it living here, but most aren't). Here is an EASY way to humidify your hotel room. Fill your bathtub about 1/4 full and leave the bathroom door open. The water will evaporate into your room increasing the humidity. It really works!
8. Don't carry too heavy of a shoulder bag and be sure to change sides every hour or so to prevent all of the weight from stressing one side of your body.
9. Stretch your back once in awhile by bending over and reaching towards your toes...then VERY slowly lift up. An energizing stretch!
10. PACE yourself! Don't try to do it all at full speed the first half of the first day. This is a multiple day event and requires consistent energy spread out over time. Give yourself a break once in awhile and you'll have a great show!

- See more at: http://i-meet.com/pages/blog/ShowBlogPost.aspx?BlogPostID=2671#sthash.gMdU8c6O.dpuf
As a 17 year veteran of the convention/marketing industry I have participated in over 200 trade shows....(and gone through many pairs of shoes in the meantime).
TEN TIPS to survive and thrive on the trade show floor!
1. Hydrate! One of the leading causes of exhaustion is dehydration. Drink a lot of water, but not just that. Gatorade and juice are also excellent choices. SMOOTHIES are another great energy boost, as is fruit such as pineapple, watermelon, and canteloupe.
2. Wear comfortable but stylish shoes in a HALF SIZE larger than you usually wear. As your feet swell they won't also be constricted by the shoes.  (They don't have to be ugly). I have several pairs of comfortable convention shoes that also look great!
3. Have a small trade show emergency kit in your bag or briefcase, safety pins, breath mints, small tissue pak, a piece of fruit or snack and whatever else you may need to keep you going.
4. Sit down once in awhile BEFORE your feet start throbbing or your back starts hurting.
5. EAT enough calories, especially at breakfast!!....not just coffee. I have seen people literally faint from not eating enough while working a trade show. This is NOT the time for calorie restriction.
6. Don't drink any alchohol after 10pm. Yeah, I know it's Vegas, but trust me this system  has worked for me for almost 2 decades.
7. Humidify your hotel room. While in our lovely desert many experience dry nose and mouth. (I am used to it living here, but most aren't). Here is an EASY way to humidify your hotel room. Fill your bathtub about 1/4 full and leave the bathroom door open. The water will evaporate into your room increasing the humidity. It really works!
8. Don't carry too heavy of a shoulder bag and be sure to change sides every hour or so to prevent all of the weight from stressing one side of your body.
9. Stretch your back once in awhile by bending over and reaching towards your toes...then VERY slowly lift up. An energizing stretch!
10. PACE yourself! Don't try to do it all at full speed the first half of the first day. This is a multiple day event and requires consistent energy spread out over time. Give yourself a break once in awhile and you'll have a great show!
- See more at: http://i-meet.com/pages/blog/ShowBlogPost.aspx?BlogPostID=2671#sthash.4F6QSAHA.dpuf
As a 17 year veteran of the convention/marketing industry I have participated in over 200 trade shows....(and gone through many pairs of shoes in the meantime).
TEN TIPS to survive and thrive on the trade show floor!
1. Hydrate! One of the leading causes of exhaustion is dehydration. Drink a lot of water, but not just that. Gatorade and juice are also excellent choices. SMOOTHIES are another great energy boost, as is fruit such as pineapple, watermelon, and canteloupe.
2. Wear comfortable but stylish shoes in a HALF SIZE larger than you usually wear. As your feet swell they won't also be constricted by the shoes.  (They don't have to be ugly). I have several pairs of comfortable convention shoes that also look great!
3. Have a small trade show emergency kit in your bag or briefcase, safety pins, breath mints, small tissue pak, a piece of fruit or snack and whatever else you may need to keep you going.
4. Sit down once in awhile BEFORE your feet start throbbing or your back starts hurting.
5. EAT enough calories, especially at breakfast!!....not just coffee. I have seen people literally faint from not eating enough while working a trade show. This is NOT the time for calorie restriction.
6. Don't drink any alchohol after 10pm. Yeah, I know it's Vegas, but trust me this system  has worked for me for almost 2 decades.
7. Humidify your hotel room. While in our lovely desert many experience dry nose and mouth. (I am used to it living here, but most aren't). Here is an EASY way to humidify your hotel room. Fill your bathtub about 1/4 full and leave the bathroom door open. The water will evaporate into your room increasing the humidity. It really works!
8. Don't carry too heavy of a shoulder bag and be sure to change sides every hour or so to prevent all of the weight from stressing one side of your body.
9. Stretch your back once in awhile by bending over and reaching towards your toes...then VERY slowly lift up. An energizing stretch!
10. PACE yourself! Don't try to do it all at full speed the first half of the first day. This is a multiple day event and requires consistent energy spread out over time. Give yourself a break once in awhile and you'll have a great show!
- See more at: http://i-meet.com/pages/blog/ShowBlogPost.aspx?BlogPostID=2671#sthash.4F6QSAHA.dpuf

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

What?.... Another white leader from American history has been found to be imperfect? How could this be? We were taught to model our society on these great figures such as Andrew Jackson and our Founding Fathers....fighting for freedom, the pursuit of happiness, and so much more. You mean they actually made some horrible mistakes, were flawed, ego driven and at times downright savage?...... Perhaps if we'd all been taught this early on in history classes we may have a better understanding that no person, decision or political position is 100% right or wrong and at the very least usually never easy.

I caught this show in its second to last performance here in Las Vegas....just in time, and so glad I did! Whenever a production or piece of history from the past is "put out there" in a modern and easy to relate to format, it's in my opinion a theatrical and artistic victory! The last production I saw from this director, Troy Heard was a rockin' modern interpretation of Hamlet that achieved the same feat with fiction as BBAJ did with historical fact.

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is not just about Andrew Jackson, it uses him as a way to examine America and ourselves. We are trying to make theater that doesn't make a judgement for you. We make an argument and  people can make their own choices".....Alex Timbers, Co-Writer, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as told to PBS


I'm Andrew F*#@# Jackson!....Cory Goble....(Photo BBAJ Las Vegas)

The Trail of Tears....(and no I'm not talking about the ones on Taylor Swift's guitar), but the one Andrew Jackson is probably most remembered for, the 90,000 or so Native American Tribal people removed from east of the Mississippi to the American West.  Although the Indians fought back (yes many could read and write and all did not live in teepees but actual houses mixed in with their former European neighbors)...when the state of Georgia sued them for the land, they actually won the ruling when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee Nation....but  Jackson ignored it and in doing so marked his place in history for the better or worse. The Cherokee Nation was ordered off the land...because, "you know it's probably our land anyway", (as cleverly referred to in the production)...

Sometimes I wonder as many have, how different our country and society would be if this had not happened and the Native American culture instead integrated with ours. Building a nation on combined cultures, (you never know it could have worked), instead of what really amounted to ethnic cleansing, not through only death, (although there was plenty of that), but through relocation and the quarantine that still exists today.
 
Jackson does get credit for founding the Democratic Party.....by the way, the jack-ass (or donkey), was eventually used as a symbol of the party in a political cartoon for Harper's Weekly. It was and has never been officially adopted as the Democratic party's logo.

Like much of history and the men and women of, it would be hard to fill the seats of a theater for a story like this if it wasn't presented as a dark comedy and/or a musical......much too depressing! For the Las Vegas production it didn't hurt that the cast was talented, edgy, beautiful and a little dark...(but in a sexy way of course)! Loved how Cory as Andrew Jackson kept his microphone in a holster! I think this musical, if it hasn't already could start a post colonial retro fashion trend. The shadow of the Indian at the end didn't bother me either, it doesn't hurt to remind us of these forgotten people and how they became that way..

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is an EMO Rock Musical...(one of my fave styles)...originating in the 1980's and known for its melodic musicianship and confessional lyrics ....which basically means "emotional hard core" with  a punk rock edge!
Las Vegas playbill

Written by and music and lyrics by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, Theatrical Debut 2008, Broadway Debut 2010, VEGAS Debut 2013.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.....Onyx Theatre, Las Vegas, NV

Director, Troy Heard is an associate member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.

Company...(Bravo!)
April Allain, Elizabeth...Michael Drake, Adams....Brenna Folger, Rachel.....Teresa Fullerton, The Storyteller, Cory Goble, Andrew Jackson, Will Hailey, Lyncoya....Ross Horvitz, Monroe...Garret Harbison, Calhoun, Memory McAllister, Interrogator.....Jon Rahi, Soldier, Brendan Shane, Male Soloist....Jake Taylor, Clay.....Nicole Unger, Female Soloist...Andy Vieluf, Van Buren.

The (Awesome) Band...(Thanks for the surprise at the end Jeremy!)
Sandy Stein, Bass.... Arles Estes, Guitar...... Jeremy Gill, Drums.....Terry Hopler, Keyboards

The Creative Team...(Haven't seen so much action in a small space since I fit 8 drunk friends in a Ford Escort!)
Troy Heard, Director.....Christian Escobar, Choregrapher....Sandy Stein, Music Direction...Kyle Boatwright, Choral Director....Erik Ball, Production Designer....Erik Ball & Kim Rahi, Set Design...Jake Kopenhaver, Lighting Design...Andi Salazar, Stage Manager....Erik Ball & Kim Rahi, Costume Design....Kim Rahi, Scenic Design....Sean Critchfield, General Badassery

Special Thanks
Production Assistance (Because no matter what the show must go on!)
Terrence Williams, Kat Winston, Emily Ball, Feral Tale Theatricals, Jennifer Young, Cockroach Theatre, Faith Lutheran Theatre Company

Indiegogo Donors...(Thank God for theatre patrons!)
Kit Kindred, Jonathan Tuala, Spencer Driscoll, Arles Estes Lee, Chuck and Ami Meyers, Jennifer Haley, Alex and Angela Stopa, Emily Harrison, The Horvitz Family, Betty Smith, Anonymous

(Comments above in italics are mine. AW)

Link:

90 Seconds of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson...Broadway 2011...YouTube



Bloody_Bloody_Andrew_Jackson...Wikipedia.org

Interview with Alex Timbers...PBS

Sources: Wikipedia, BBAJ Las Vegas playbill and PBS.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Emmys Flashback!

With the Prime Time Emmy Awards airing their 65th annual awards show tonight, I checked out their Emmy app and found it lists all the awards winners going back 65 years. The first winner of this award was in 1949 with a show called "The Armchair Detective", 1949.....(isn't that pretty much when television was invented?)
Me and the golden girl behind me!
Trolling through this app was a trip down memory lane. Winners and nominees were shows such as Gunsmoke, Bewitched, Happy Days, Get Smart, Dynasty, Cagney & Lacey, Hill Street Blues, Fame, Cheers, L.A. Law, E.R., West Wing, Friends, Frasier, and Sex and the City. Some of these were before my time but live forever still in reruns.

Even now, with so many different kinds of media available everywhere, the television is still the most popular form of entertainment for many. For example, it's the friend in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. You can watch 6 episodes of Arrested Development on "On Demand" and feel better about your own life, or be transported to a different reality with something fantastical like "True Blood"....can't really do that as well on your laptop or tablet as you can on the big plasma screen.

Back to the Emmy Awards, although I am a member of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences I am not yet a voting member..(maybe by the time I am old enough for my AARP card I will be)...it takes a lot of television credits to get there.

I even had a chance to "win" an Emmy myself a couple of years ago.....for rehearsal only...as is always the case with me! This was one of those most perfect work days, one of my best. Got to work with many of the talents in the business including Dick Clark, Marie Osmond, Chubby Checker, Susan Lucci, Celine Dion and Wayne Brady. It really ran the gamut. Our group of rehearsal actors even got a choreography bump for collaborating some dance moves for the "American Bandstand Tribute."



My sister Karen Wendt accepting an Emmy for Best Actress...for rehearsal only!


After the taping we headed over to a small pre-show cocktail party...honestly we are rarely invited to these as rehearsal actors, but once in awhile we are included. Then, as luck would have it when I went for a break to the ladies room Karen bumped into my favorite soap actor Joshua Morrow. He was posing for a pic with her and another lady when a too tipsy guest literally fell onto them and spilled his drink all over Karen. A great guy by the name of Todd intervened. He felt bad about this incident and he invited us to the official Emmy after party in Elvis' 10,000 square foot former suite which was upstairs at what used to be called the Las Vegas Hilton, (now the Las Vegas Hotel)...where the awards were being held. For us, it was like Cinderella at the ball. 
 
Here is a link to the list of all of tonight's nominees!

65th Annual Emmy Awards Nominees

Karen Wendt, Joshua Morrow and unidentified party girl
AW having dinner with Chubby Checker




Here is a link to the list of all of tonight's nominees!

65th Annual Emmy Awards Nominees