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 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
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).


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:

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!

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

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 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