Monday, March 30, 2015

Better than a Kegger

Back when I was in college, when you wanted to have a party you purchased a keg of beer and some plastic cups, then played LPs until everyone passed out on the sofa. That was fun, but I wanted to host a more grown-up party for the official launch of my book, Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood with Headshot in Hand

I kept the invitation list small because my overwhelming wealth is overwhelming in the wrong way, and I thought I couldn't afford to feed a lot of people. It turns out we had plenty. If you want some crappy wine, come on over and sit on the porch with us. We're serving even the Cabernet on ice.

So it's official. Act As If, a humorous look at the life of a journeyman actor in Hollywood (journeyman as in "not famous") is on it's way to being what it's going to be.

There were a lot of people to thank, and I'd like to thank them again here:
  • The Pasadena Musem of History, where we were so comfortably accommodated in air-conditioned splendor and where my guests were invited to view the exhibits as a bonus. 
  • Richard Gilbert-Hill, editor of the ActorsInk newsletter at, which spawned my column, Act As If, which spawned the book. Richard is an actor, writer and voice coach. He wrote the book's beautiful foreword.
  • Liz Hanley, theatrical agent at Bicoastal Talent. Liz and I go way back. She makes the book possible as much as Richard does, and she's a character throughout the book.
  • Greta Hanley, commercial agent at Bicoastal Talent. Without commercial auditions, some of the wildest essays would not have been possible.
  • Paula Johnson, who designed the book. The cover is great, the interior is great, and Paula is great.
  • Along with Liz, the book was blurbed by Kat Likkel (writer/producer, My Name is Earl, Galavant), Fran Montano (artistic director, the Actors Workout Studio), Rick Hall (actor, Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jane Macfie (actor, The Mindy Project). These people took the time to read and comment for the cover.
  • The actors, casting directors, producers and friends who contributed their stories and support. I don't think a book can be made by one person alone.
And John Sandel, my beta reader, editor, co-teacher, husband and friend, without whom nothing is possible.

You can find both Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood with Headshot in Hand and Camelot & Vine at Hoopla! in Altadena, Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, the Pasadena Museum of History gift shop and, soon, Vroman's in Pasadena. If you're far away there's always Amazon, where the book is available in paperback or for your Kindle.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Best Laid Plans

When Birthday Month began I made a pledge: "I'm going to have a minimum of one adventure each week," I said, "and I'll tell you about my adventures adventure is something I haven't done before."

Today's post is about best laid plans.

For Birthday Week, and I mean for my actual birthday, John had a super, one-of-a-kind adventure planned for me. I was pretty excited.

The day before my birthday, our adventure fell through due to no fault of John's. So we called on friends who helped us plan a good substitute. The adventure that happened, though, was that John and I woke up sick on my birthday.

Okay. It wasn't really an adventure by my definition. I mean, I've been sick before. It wasn't how I wanted to spend my milestone birthday, either, nor was it how I wanted to spend the week. Don't worry, I'm way better now.

What do you do when you commit to something for yourself but your time is committed elsewhere? How do you prioritize yourself? I need to get better at that

As it stands, I will have to have my birthday next week. I promise I'll report back to you.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friends (Birthday Month Adventure #3)

When I decided to have an adventure each week during birthday month, I hadn't realized how hard it would be to include adventures in my schedule.

I defined an adventure as something I hadn't done before, which alleviates the pressure somewhat. All I had to do was go to a library branch I hadn't visited or take the train somewhere new. But due to unforeseen adventures this week, ones I won't be blogging about (but they're good), I didn't have time for an adventure I could blog about until the last minute!

Whew! Thanks to my friends, I made it. And I had a wonderful time. Here we are outside Flintridge Proper, a restaurant/pub I hadn't visited before, where we enjoyed happy hour and each other's company.

I don't suppose a woman of my age and obvious sophistication has a BFF, but it sure is nice to have very good friends. Here are (left to right) Karen E. Klein, Desiree Zamorano, Janet Aird, Karin Bugge, me and Margaret Finnegan. Aren't they fabulous? Don't worry about me, being photographed like this is how I decide which clothes to put in the Goodwill box.

Many thanks to the nice young man who took our picture. I asked him to make us look "hot, sexy and fabulous" and I believe he managed.

Thanks for dinner, dear friends! Most of all, thanks for your friendship.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wilma: the Report

Wilma has been living with us for 9 months. We're a family. I remember this with Boz, the feeling that his presence transformed us from a couple into a family. But we're a different family with Wilma because Wilma is a different person. She's more rambunctious (gross understatement), though only a few months younger than Boz was when he moved in. Boz was an old soul. Wilma is young in all her parts.

It's impossible not to make comparisons. Boz was an angel, easy to live with from the start. Wilma has required training, consistency and love to learn to walk peaceably on the leash and to not freak out when she sees other dogs. There have been frustrations, family discussions and time-outs for each of us. But with every step backward there's a forward leap. Wilma wants to be part of the family and she demonstrates it at every opportunity, unless she forgets. In other words, she's a normal dog.

And she has a tail. Boz's was removed by someone before us who might have been loving but certainly was ignorant. Wilma's tail is a fascination. Sometimes she wags it so hard it has a circular motion. Among her many nick-names: Propeller butt. (Who needs cable?) She's incredibly and immediately expressive at both ends, though sometimes she uses her outside voice indoors. That's ok. It would never occur to a dog to hide her feelings. Even Boz used to wag his little stump like crazy, though he almost never barked.

Because Boz's tail couldn't be heard from a distance and because he'd lost his bark, he was forced to communicate in other ways, like a look, a movement or even a breath. He taught us Doglish slowly, over time. With Wilma we're all speaking it now.

Another difference between Wilma and Boz: Boz sat symmetrically. Wilma sits like this. 

A similarity: both sun bunnies. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Southwest Museum (Birthday Month Adventure #2)

The Southwest Museum is another place I've always wanted to visit but hadn't until Birthday Adventure Month. Maybe always wanting to go but never having gone is one of my unconscious criteria for an adventure.

I'm determined to have at least one adventure per week this month. It's not easy to schedule adventures! I'm so focused on working. But adventures fuel me and I've never regretted one, even the ones that don't turn out like I expect them to. Especially those.

The Southwest Museum, the oldest museum in Los Angeles, looms over the Pasadena freeway, all southwestern/Spanishy in the sun. Damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake was so extensive the building had to be closed, and eventually it was acquired by the Autry Museum along with its extensive collections of Native American pottery, baskets and weavings, not just from the southwest but from all over the country. There's a complicated history to this. This link was sent to me by a friend.

There's only one exhibit room open right now, and a few pieces displayed in a downstairs hallway. I found the straw sandal to be the most affecting. It's a fine exhibit, but don't go expecting a full day. The Museum is open Saturdays only. It's free, there's plenty of parking, and you'll see glorious Native American pottery, some pieces as much as 500 years old, some from the late 20th century.

The website is a bit misleading. I clicked on a link for the cafe but it turns out that's at the Autry. We were so hungry that we skipped out without seeing the tunnel, approached from the disabled parking lot on a lower level of the hill. The elevator's not working right now, so if you are wheelchair-bound you're restricted to the upper level. But that's where the pottery is so you'll see most of the good stuff (but not the sandal).

An adventure doesn't always turn out like you expect it to. That's adventure by definition, in a way.

You might want to enlarge this one to appreciate the snow-covered San Gabriel peaks in the distance. This is a view I hadn't seen before, easily gained by stepping to the edge of the parking lot at the Southwest Museum.

Note: Pasadena Adjacent was across the Arroyo from us at about the time of these photos. She was painting watercolor #19 in a series.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pasadena History

If you're a Pasadena history afficionado, two new exhibits at the Pasadena Museum of History are for you.

Try your wits against Ann Erdman, who curated the Mystery History exhibit. She poses the question, "Where are we? And what's happening?" pairing photos and items from the Museum's collection.

You know this one, surely? I hadn't known this had been saved I was thrilled to see it in person.

In the opposite gallery is Pasadena Pursuit, curated by Dan McLaughlin. Dan tests your knowledge of Pasadena trivia. Photos, historic items and ephemera are on display to enhance your experience (and maybe help you come up with the answer).

I was fortunate to go to the opening night reception. And what a photo op this was! I'm missing Dan, who was off being adored by his fans. But I've got three top Pasadena historians right here: Ann Erdman, Sidney Gally and Michele Zack. The history of the Dena is recorded in their many fine works. We're fortunate to have such dedicated author/researchers in our midst.

Friday, March 6, 2015

E. Waldo Ward Ranch (Birthday Month Adventure #1)

This 1902 barn is the most well-known view of the E. Waldo Ward Ranch, the first of my birthday month adventures. The tower is where they stored their weekly water delivery back then.

I hadn't seen photos of the house before. I don't know if you can tell from this photo but this house is BIG. It was built of redwood in 1903, and it's still occupied by the descendants of E. Waldo Ward.

Mr. Ward started his orange groves and perfected his marmalade recipes here at the ranch. His marmalade was THE thing on railroad dining cars for many years.

There's a gift shop, thank goodness. I'm happy to report that we came home with Pumpkin Butter and Old Fashioned Cucumber Slices.

You might think a short trip to Sierra Madre an odd way to start my month of birthday adventures, but I've wanted to see this place since I moved to Pasadena, so this week I did. My birthday adventures are all about doing what I want to do. Within reason.

E. Waldo Ward has regular hours when you can visit the store and wander the property. And on Saturdays they give free tours by appointment.

If you'd like to know more about the E. Waldo Ward Ranch, just go there! Or pick up Elizabeth Pomeroy's book Lost and Found at a local store or the Pasadena Museum of History gift shop. The ranch is on page 72.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Birthday Month

Margaret Finnegan had a great idea. During February, her birthday month, she would do 50 good deeds. Not only did she think it up, she followed through, posting her results on Facebook.

I'd like to imitate Margaret but I'm not as nice as she is, so I've come up with something else for my birthday month in March. I'm going to have a minimum of one adventure each week and I'll tell you about my adventures here. I'm allowed to do this instead of good deeds because I'm older than Margaret, and by god, some adventure is in order.

For my current purposes, an adventure is something I haven't done before or somewhere I haven't been before, preferably inexpensive or free and not too far away. I've got Elizabeth Pomeroy's wonderful Lost and Found as my guide, and I'd be glad to have your suggestions, too.

I'll try to do some good deeds while I'm at it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Informed Public

Transparency in government is always an issue, and lately the spotlight is on Pasadena. So an event coming up at the Women's City Club and hosted by the League of Women Voters-Pasadena Area is particularly timely.

The deadline for reserving lunch is today, February 26th! For the discussion, you can reserve as late as March 4th.

Thursday March 5 at 9:30 AM, get a load of this panel: Ann Erdman (former Pasadena Public Information Officer), Karen Foshay (Al Jazeera-Los Angeles), Noelia Rodriguez (Chief Communications Officer, Metro Los Angeles) and Keri Stokstad (Executive Director, Pasadena Media) will appear on a panel moderated by Val Zavala (VP of News and Public Affairs at KCET). The topic: the public's right to know.

Each panelist has their own perspective, of course. It'll be interesting to hear what they have to say. The presentation is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so you must have a reservation! Call 626-798-0965 or e-mail to let them know you're coming. If you'd like to stay for lunch (optional, $25) and more conversation about open government, sign up online here:

Park behind the Club in their lot off Madison. It's free.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ten Hands - Five Pianos

This was new to me: ensemble piano playing on the fly. Like maybe you've never even read the music before, much less met the other players. You just get together and play. Each person plays a different part of the music. It's like an orchestra of fingers.

Veteran musician David Cutter is Mr. David of He teaches all levels and all kinds of pianists. (Note the cherub in the background of the photo above.) Last weekend, he got five people together to play Pachelbel's Canon, Home on the Range and a gorgeous traditional French Christmas carol, a stunner because: I hadn't heard it, it's dramatic, and these people had never played together before.

Plus I liked the reception.

But here's what I love most about this story: David got this idea and he ran with it. He searched for the pianos, got Arroyo Seco Time Bank members to help move them, and he converted his garage to a piano studio. He was driven to do it and he did it. He's got 6 pianos in there!

David's main goal is "to educate, and ensembles are part of the process to becoming a musician. Yes, the sightreading and spur of the moment stuff is fun," he says, "but what I want people to do is sign up for an ongoing ensemble class where we perfect a piece of music as opposed to just read through stuff."

Wanna play?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pasadena Library's 2nd Annual Author Fair

Are you coming by Pasadena's Central Library (285 E. Walnut St.) this Saturday, February 21st? Of course you are, because it's highly likely that at least one of your author friends (me) will be there. And probably more than one.

It's the library's 2nd annual Author Fair, 10am-2pm, and oh boy! Everyone's going to be there! Look at this list of authors:

Marcella Adams, Maria Alexander, Cindy Arora, Ontresicia Averette, Anne Louise Bannon, Julie Berry, Boualem Bousseloub, Mary Brodsky, Petrea Burchard, Stuart Douglass Byles, Christina Cha, Justin Chapman, Regina Conroy, Joey L. Dowdy, Quoleshna Elbert, Carol Elek, Jamie Eubanks, Jess Faraday, Kenneth Grant, Anjeza Angie Gega, Steven Gibson, Ken Goldstein, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Reg Green, Claudia Heller, Lisa Hernandez, Rubin Johnson, Lloyd Kaneko, Gay Toltl Kinman, Sarai Koo, Ph.D./ Gail Taylor, Jay Mathews, Dan McLaughlin, Kay Murdy, Elizabeth Pomeroy, Adrienne Ramsey-Harris, Raquel Reyes-Lopez, Thelma Reyna, Susan S. Rosvall, Jo Anne Sadler, Kathy Salama, Gisele Samaan, Yvette Samaan, Yvonne Senkandwa, Jason Silva, Lucie Simone, Frederick Smith, Ellen Snortland & Lisa Gaeta, Lynn Martin Snowden & Kyle Sydney Powell, Rick Stepp-Bolling, Diane E.M. Tegarden,Mary Terzian, Larissa Theule, Alicia Thompson, Marcia L. Thompson, Sarah Thursday, Cherie Mercer Twohy, Erika Wain Decker, Nancy Woo, Nancy Young, and last but absolutely not least, Desiree Zamorano!!!

All during the Fair, authors will read from their works in the Auditorium. While Desiree reads from The Amado Women at 10:30, I'll be covering for her at her signing table (no, I will not sign her books). At 11:10am she'll cover for me while I read something funny, or maybe something poignant—poignant, yeah, that's it—from my new book, Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood with Headshot in Hand.

You can buy an autographed copy from me and I'll have a few copies of Camelot & Vine on hand as well. Or just stop by and say hi. There's no pressure to buy anything, though you might want to get yourself a treat at the Espress Yourself coffee shop (pictured) on the library grounds.

All these authors will be there to sign their books and answer your questions. Or maybe ask you some!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


A previous owner of our house tex-coated the place and that has always kind of bothered me.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I've had tinnitus since 1977. My ears have not stopped ringing for 38 years—as in eeeeeeeeeeeee.

You get used to it, sort of. You have to, because tinnitus is incurable. And you don't always notice it because there are distractions like conversation, radio, etc.

My hearing is fine. It's just that inside my head there's this high-pitched eeeeeeeeeeeee going on all the time. It gets pretty loud in here.

We tinnitus sufferers are a desperate bunch. We don't want to hear eeeeeeeeeeeee all the time. So imagine my ecstasy when I found an online ad for a surefire cure! I don't usually click on ads but this might be it!

There's an audio file. No video. I like audio files because they distract from the eeeeeeeeeeeee. The man tells me he was once a sound engineer and he got tinnitus and he found a doctor and all you have to do is eat these foods, readily available on your grocer's shelves. "I was amazed I had waited so long, searched so far, and the solution was simple! All I had to do was eat these foods!" he said, not mentioning what the foods were.

Then there were testimonials. Many testimonials. "Thanks, Joe" (or Hiram or Zeke or whoever), "I had tinnitus and now I don't because I follow your program and eat these foods!"

Over and over again, without telling me about the foods. eeeeeeeeeeeee.

I listened for as long as I could stand it, hoping to learn the secret. Carrots? Canned pineapple? Ice cream?

After a long time JoeHiramZeke still hadn't told me a damned thing. I turned it off.

I know when I'm being had. I'd rather listen to eeeeeeeeeeeee.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Act As If Big Launch!

Stats: have I posted this before?

Update, 2/11/15: I have a venue for the launch! More info soon.


Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood with Headshot in Hand is available on Amazon, and will soon be available on Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, etc.

But I haven't actually launched it yet.

What would be a fun way to launch? Did you like the Camelot Where You Are contest? Should we do something like that this time, or should we try something else? A party? A read-a-thon? All three?

I did a lot of pre-publicity for Camelot & Vine and it was fun. I guess you'd call this launch "post-publicity," but they say there's no such thing as bad publicity, so I'm good with all of it—pre, post and bad.

If you've read either book, please review! Any number of stars is welcome.

By the way (which is what BTW used to mean), this round of the Story Kitchen workshop still has openings. Call the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse to sign up. (818) 790-0717. Methinks my friend the Oscar-nominated screenwriter will stop in one evening.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


I signed up for the bluefeet newsletter because I like it and I learn from it. Bluefeet was founded by Lilli Cloud "to help people achieve their potential by capturing and communicating what makes them and their work extraordinary." Scroll to the bottom of any page of the bluefeet website and sign up if you want to get the newsletter, too.

This time around, Lilli and her staff sent a newsletter entitled, "Getting Your Flow On." They included a link to an article about multitasking. It says multitasking is bad for your brain.

I don't know if that's true. I get my flow on in multiple ways, all at the same time.

When John comes home and I'm nowhere to be found—the bed is half-made, some of the dishes are put away, the bathtub is squeaky clean but not the bathroom floor—I'm probably in the garage because that's where the filing cabinet is.

If multitasking is bad for my brain, that could explain the roots of my noun problem. I often have to grapple to find the word I'm looking for. I always stumble over "Brussels sprouts" and "sideboard," for example. I have no idea why these in particular give me trouble. Sometimes when I write and the word I want is not available, I write OWTTE (or words to that effect) or FABW (find a better word) and move on, hoping it'll come to me while I'm editing. It usually does. (It has to. I'm not finished until it does.)

I had a little trouble understanding the multitasking article because I had to switch screens between paragraphs to read another article I was reading about  the dwarf planet Ceres. Did you know it gets up to -28 degrees Fahrenheit up there? Hey, I've spent winters in Chicago. -28F is livable! Or it would be, if Ceres had an atmosphere. I don't remember anything else about the article but it gave me something to do between paragraphs in the multitasking piece.

I used to think my multitasking was a talent but now I know it's frenzied (FABW). It's time for me to buckle down, concentrate and focus (OWTTE), or I'll never GTD (get things done).

Friday, January 23, 2015


More than once I've proudly announced mentioned that I don't have a TV. John and I got rid of our TV a few years ago when we realized we were paying $140 a month for programming that didn't interest us enough to actually watch it.

But just because I don't have a TV doesn't mean I don't watch my favorite shows in the evening. 

Embedded above is the first episode of "Tudor Monastery Farm," a BBC documentary series. Historian Ruth Goodman is joined by archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold to make up a trio of unlikely TV stars. They show us how life was lived by poor people in the Tudor era. It wasn't all Henry VIII and his wives.

I ate that show like ice cream.

Then I moved on to "Secrets of the Castle," and watched my friends learn how to build a 13th century French castle with nothing but the materials that were available 800 years ago.

With popular "historical" TV, films and fiction about England and France, we often learn about royalty and politics, but rarely do we get a view of the common people. It might have been all fancy balls and intrigue at court, but most other places it was just plain work.

Now I'm watching Tales from the Green Valley, shot on a 16th century Welsh farm. It's apparent that this show was done earlier than the first two because Tom isn't in it. Peter is younger and for some reason they're calling him "Fonz."

After this I'll move on to "Victorian Farm," then "Edwardian Farm," then maybe "WWII Farm," which doesn't interest me quite as much. But Ruth, Tom, Peter and their guest stars—thatchers, pig experts, millers, stonemasons, etc.—are enthusiastic, charming and real, and I will follow my new favorite stars anywhere, even to the muddy fields of the mid-20th century.

This is my kind of TV.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Good Turnout

The Story Kitchen seminar had a good turn-out last night at the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse. It was an excellent group—interesting people with fascinating stories.

We had some sign-ups for the six week writing class and there's room for just a few more, so call the store at 818-790-0717 and tell them you want in!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dear Aunt Petrea

The famous author, Haruki Murakami, has announced he's going to write an advice column on his website.

Hell, I can do that! I can give advice on all kinds of subjects. I'm happy to tell you what to do. Just let me know what the problem is and I'll set you straight. Here are some examples of my useful guidance:

Dump the sucker.

No, no, black is sooo 2007.

Feed it to the cat.

It takes about two years.

Milk. I'm not kidding. It works.

Really! Just ask me. I'm glad to receive queries of any kind, in any language (I have Google Translate!). I will share my opinions on dogs, sports and dogs. And anything else I can spell, or sound out.

Just ask your questions in the comments and off we go!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why dictation software is not for me

So she enters the room, and—no. No so. And this should be past tense so she entered—stop. Go back to so. No so, too many sos, go back to—start over.

She entered the room, and he thought


Why did it turn off? Aren't I allowed to think for a few seconds? Stop. Start again.

Maybe entered isn't good enough. Stop. Start again.

She swept into the room—ugh. Cliché. She glided. Glid? Glided. Start over.

She glided into the room 

That just doesn't look right.

All eyes went to the door as she entered. 

Stop. Eyes do not go to doors. 

All eyes were on her as she glided into the room.

Can eyes be on somebody? They can look on somebody.

All eyes looked on her as she glided into the room.



--> Oh, pigpigpiggypig blahblah. Blah! Stop!