I’ve never done theater before. I’ve seen my friends’ high school plays, but I never even knew when auditions were held because I was too busy being a competitive synchronized swimmer, a bullied teen, and a depressed Kurt Cobain fan. I also had a wicked case of stage fright from the bullying, and I once tried out for a fashion show when I was 13 and, thanks to my signature spin-and-pose move, I never heard the end of it. So why would I ever go into theater?
Someone told me about a theater school last year and I bookmarked it for later because I didn’t have any interest in theater at the time. I love acting, but I never saw myself working on the stage. That said, plant an idea in my head and it will most certainly grow.
And grow it most certainly did.
Over the past year, my brain generated a list of reasons why I should study theater:
- A lot of casting directors I’ve talked to are looking for theater experience;
- I’ve always wanted to play a queen, and I believe theater can help me develop the gravitas necessary for the role;
- Many Star Trek TV actors studied Shakespeare, and I wonder if it helped them act through heavy special effects makeup;
- I have a feeling studying Shakespeare will make TV and film scripts look like a walk in the park;
- My voice is an instrument that I would like to further develop.
So, last week I auditioned for a class at the school.
And, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to audition for theater when you have no classical training.
So, in preparation I Google’d and Google’d and Google’d again.
I chose Titania’s “These are the forgeries of jealousy” monologue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream because I loved that play when I was 14 and I thought it would be an interesting character for me. Not only is she a queen, but she is also a fairy. And given my desire to someday act in the role of a strong alien female on a sci-fi project, I thought it was perfect.
I also chose that monologue because of my 8th grade English teacher.
Mrs. Isler could have been anywhere from 5’8″ to 8’5″. She was very thin and walked with a stiff, straight back. She lit candles in her class and read Shakespeare with such vigor and mystery that everyone in the class was convinced she was a witch. Her eyes were sharp daggers that would stab fear deep into the heart of any student who misbehaved in class, and I loved her for it.
Reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in her class exposed me to a wonderful, magical world that I was excited to escape to. So, when I was required to write a speech that year, I chose fairies as my subject. Mrs. Isler was delighted by my speech and submitted me to a provincial speech competition! I was terrified, so I looked down at my papers the whole time I did my speech, but I was touched that she believed in me.
That belief was a big deal to me because that year I was bullied so badly that my amazing mother had me transferred to a new school.
So, last week I chose the Titania monologue in Mrs. Isler’s honor.
Since I didn’t remember much about the play and hadn’t done any theater before, I prepared harder than any exam I had taken in college. In the six days leading up to my audition, I memorized the monologue in segments, re-read the entire play, watched two movie adaptations (1996 and 1999), read a number of online study guides, and worked my ass off to figure out what it all meant and how I would portray it.
I also spent some time fretting over what accent is acceptable in American Shakespearean theater, how much one should move around in a monologue, and if you should mime your words to help the audience understand.
I spent a night on YouTube looking at (mostly high school) performances of the monologue and I learned a lot about what I didn’t want to do. I saw some actors who obviously didn’t know what they were talking about, so it showed in their performance, and I saw other actors who mimed the entire monologue to prove they knew what they were talking about. Neither of these types of performances was what I was going for.
But then a magical thing happened. I came across this YouTube clip of Dame Helen Mirren performing the monologue in a 1981 TV movie adaptation that I had never heard of on this side of the pond. FINALLY someone was performing the scene as I had envisioned it… and then some! She surprised me with the actions she took vocally and emotionally in her performance, and she couldn’t mime anything in the scene because she spent the whole time coddling the Indian boy in her arms. Genius.
After seeing Mirren’s portrayal of Titania, I finally felt like I could pull this off. I’m nothing like her, but acting is about portraying a character in the unique way that only you can. So I felt confident that I could learn from her performance above all others and be the Titania I was born to be.
All that was left was my audition.
I got there an hour early out of paranoia and when it was my turn to go in I chose to go right into the monologue. I did the best I could while my hands shook uncontrollably from nerves. Things went well enough and the three teachers in the room seemed pretty impressed that I had never auditioned for theater before. I was a little bashful about it, but it was nice to hear.
And what happened next changed everything.
I had been told when I audited a class at the school that the auditions were a lot like the class; you do the scene and the teacher will redirect you to bring out your performance in the best way possible. So in the audition, one of the teachers had me get up on his shoulders and perform the scene again, this time on my “trusty steed.” And, wow, what a difference! Suddenly, being on that stage atop what seemed to be my 6’5″ horse, I felt power. And when I performed the scene I felt like a queen. At last.
It was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I was elated. For the first time since I can remember, I believed in myself.
I left the audition verklempt with joy, talked Rudy‘s ear off when I got home, and couldn’t fall asleep because I was so excited about the future.
It was life changing.
All those years I spent being a bullied pessimist seemed to fade away. For the past week I’ve been completely optimistic about the future and believe in my potential as an actor. It’s as if theater saw the chip on my shoulder and stripped it away. I’ve never been so happy, and all I could think about for the rest of the week was “you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be” – a quote from my friend Brea Grant‘s recent film Best Friends Forever.
And to top it all off? I’ve been accepted to the class.
Now if only I could tell Mrs. Isler…
In addition to a kick-ass t-shirt, this year I gave my husband a “Gamer Kit” for his birthday. In the kit, pictured above, I included 1600 Microsoft Points to use on XBox Live, two bags of M&Ms (his personal favorite), and a Certificate of Sandwich that read as follows:
This certifies that
Has successfully aged one more year
and that his beautiful wife will make him
Upon request any day during his Week of Gaming
That’s right, I vowed to make him a sandwich whenever he said “Make me a sammich!”
The expression, meant to belittle women by saying they are only useful in the kitchen, is often used by asshole sexist gamers. My husband is not an asshole, nor a sexist, so I guess that’s why I thought it would be fun to give this to him as a gift. In fact, it has made him one of the most grateful men in the multiverse!
Before presenting him with his certificate, I stocked my fridge with a bunch of his favorite cold meats, cheese slices, lettuce, tomatoes, and a delicious artisan whole grain bread from the bakery section of our local grocery store. My mission was to “make him a sammich!” anytime he asked me this week (Monday-Friday) during his video game vacation. Of course, he never used the expression because he’s too nice, but he certainly had a fun Week of Gaming where he finally played through Mass Effect 1 & 2; games he owned, but never had the time to play.
It’s been a fun week and I’m proud of the sandwiches I’ve made. They were healthy and delicious, so I thought I would share photos and descriptions of them here, in case some of you feel like going and making your own sammiches. ;)
Day One: Roast Beef and Pepper Jack
Slices of roast beef, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and Dijon mustard on La Brea whole grain bread. Served with celery, baby carrots, and hummus for dipping.
Day Two: Tuna Melt
Tuna salad with provolone cheese melted in the oven on broil, sliced tomatoes and lettuce on La Brea whole grain bread. I also suggest adding a dash of Miracle Whip as well for a little extra zing.
Day Three: Pastrami
Hot pastrami and mustard on La Brea whole grain bread grilled panini-style!
Day Four: Wait… what?!
Oops… no more homemade sammiches! We went to DisneyLand and got lazy for the rest of the week. :P
There were a few more sandwiches I was planning to make if he asked me, but we ran out of bread and started eating out after DisneyLand. A few ideas I had up my sleeve: grilled cheese; egg salad; black pepper smoked turkey breast and provolone; and a grilled chicken sandwich made with the leftovers from Fajita Night.
I hope this post has given you some ideas for your gamer… especially if that gamer is yourself. ;)
Now it’s time for me to go tell some 12 year old boys on XBox Live to make ME a sammich! Later, n00bs…
Hello, my name is Casey McKinnon and I’m a size 0. Heck, sometimes I’m even a size 00 as my body measurements are 32-23-33 and I’m 5’1″. So, it goes without saying that when I hear people dissing my dress size, I get a little offended because it doesn’t make any sense. How is it that I can fit perfectly in my mother’s dresses from the 1960s, but the US fashion industry had to invent a size in the past ten years just to fit me?!
Recently I’ve seen a lot of photos being shared by my friends that affirm larger body images with slogans and quotes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does become hurtful when they start making fun of smaller sizes as if they are “unhealthy.” Sure, it would be rather unhealthy if you were 6′ tall, but the average American woman is 5’4″. With this in mind, I feel it’s important for my fellow females to understand the history of sizes 00-0 and why they exist in our stores today.
When it comes to body image, one of the most popular tropes in the world is the myth of Marilyn Monroe’s dress size. It is famously said that ‘Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16 dress.” This may have been true in the 1950s and 1960s, but not by today’s standards. If you’ve ever tried to purchase a vintage dress, you’ll know that the sizes are completely different from modern sizes. In 2009, British journalist Sara Buys had the opportunity to try on Marilyn’s dresses and had this to say about her size:
Contrary to received wisdom, she was not a voluptuous size 16 – quite the opposite. While she was undeniably voluptuous – in possession of an ample bosom and a bottom that would look at home gyrating in a J-Lo video – for most of the early part of her career, she was a size 8 and even in her plumper stages, was no more than a 10. I can tell you this from experience because a few weeks ago, I tried to try on her clothes.
Also referred to as size inflation, vanity sizing refers to the fact that the US fashion industry inflated the size of their garments to deal with the expanding population of consumers. As America grew outwards, so did the clothes… yet the numbers remained the same. In this New York Times article, journalist Stephanie Clifford has done some really interesting research and has this to say about my 32″ bust size:
A woman with a 32-inch bust would have worn a Size 14 in Sears’s 1937 catalog. By 1967, she would have worn an 8 [...] Today, she would wear a zero.
So why exactly would the US fashion industry succumb so overwhelmingly to vanity sizing?
The CDC reports that the percentage of adults with obesity has been growing since 1980. Last year they reported that, in 2009–2010, 35.7% of U.S. adults were obese. Given that number doesn’t even include overweight individuals, it just proves how large a demographic we’re looking at. It’s no wonder that the fashion industry felt the need to adapt and cater to their growing clientele.
Eventually, however, the industry would learn a very potent lesson: you can increase the size of clothes all you want, but you’ll end up screwing over the petite ladies that still exist in the US!
No matter what your size, it’s always difficult to find the right fit for your body type. In my case, being petite before the invention of sizes 0 and 00 meant shopping in the juniors’ section and dressing like a teenager. It also meant that I couldn’t for the life of me find a store that sold business suits in my size! I was over the moon when I finally took a trip to Vancouver and discovered a magical land called Aritzia… a store that had business suits that were TOO SMALL for me! They carried sizes as small as 000 and XXXS, and their clientele included many beautiful petite Asian ladies that I would not consider “unhealthy” in any way.
Sadly, some stores that carry such small sizes get flack. Last year it was revealed that Zara has had some difficulty in the US because its sizes were “too small” for Americans. Ironically, everything I try on at Zara is still too big for me. :/
The key in today’s world is to find the stores that are right for you and your body shape. We’re all different and we needn’t get upset and blame opposing body types just because our clothes don’t fit right. “Normal” and “healthy” come in a variety of shapes and sizes and it might be hard for us to find the right clothes, but it’s equally as hard on the merchants to decide how many sizes of a garment they need to make to have optimal sales. Sure, it’s frustrating not to find your size in every store, but that’s what seamstresses are for. And to bring it back to Marilyn Monroe; if she were alive today, she would probably have to buy a larger dress size and take it in at the waist because, again, we’re all unique and she had a bangin‘ hourglass figure!
When it all comes down to it, I love and respect my fellow ladies at any size… as long as they love Star Trek. ;)
Happy holidays, everyone! I made you a present… It’s an atheist Christmas song!
The idea for Santa is an Atheist came naturally as an atheist who enjoys the “spirit” of Christmas, but I almost didn’t release a song at all because I didn’t think I had enough time to make it! Thanks to my friend Celeste Wolfe for encouraging me to do it, and to so many amazing friends supporting me along the way, it’s out in time!
I want to thank Derek Miller for saying yes to appearing as Santa in the video. When I closed my eyes to imagine a music video, he was the only one I could envision playing Santa. And he was amazing. At one point, when we were filming the close up of him thinking and calculating, I didn’t want to yell “cut!” because his performance was so continually surprising and new! He’s a truly talented actor, and I highly suggest you check him out in The Wedding Band on TBS and Opening Night: The Improvised Musical.
I also want to thank Raya Yarbrough who made the song amazing! I sent her an a capella version I recorded one day in my iPhone Voice Memos and she loved it, which encouraged me to move forward with the project. I then recorded a rough version in GarageBand, sent her the demo and she re-created the whole thing with a new improved bass track, percussion, and added jazzy piano! She’s a true maestro. Be sure to buy her album and check out her latest work North of Sunset, West of Vine where she recounts tales of her youth in Hollywood leading into amazing songs that will blow you away.
And more thanks also go to Andrew Seely, who acted as my much needed DP on the music video shoot, Nick Holmes, who photographed the amazing cover photo, and to a number of people who helped by giving me advice, encouragement, and resources: Cathy Baron, Tara Brown, Rudy Jahchan, Bear McCreary, and Taryn Southern. I love and appreciate you all.
As for what’s next? It’s easy. If enough people show interest (i.e. Buy the single on iTunes and Google Play or make the YouTube video go viral), I plan to make an entire atheist Christmas album next year. So, if you want that to happen… please let me know with your actions; watch it, rate it, share it, buy it. ;)
I first caught Twin Peaks reruns on Showcase in the mid-nineties, then I re-watched it in 2005 on DVD, and now I’m watching it all over again this year on Netflix. Every single time I’ve seen it, my mind has been BLOWN. The mystery, the characters, the writing, the directing, and the acting is all on a level of brilliance.
Many people have been asking me over Twitter whether the show is really that great since it was cancelled after the second season. The answer is yes, it is worth your time. The series was and still is a work of art. Incredibly fun and f*cked up art.
The mystery and supernatural journey surrounding the death of Laura Palmer is legendary, and this should be your reason for watching (and re-watching) the show. Once the mystery is solved (about halfway through season 2), you can easily clock out… and many people did. In fact, in the episode that closes up that storyline, you really do feel like it’s a series finale; all ends are tied up beautifully.
But even then, after that storyline has finished, you still haven’t seen everything there is to see! I mean, why stop there when you can see more appearances by Michael Parks (my favorite part of Kill Bill), David Lynch himself, Heather Graham, Ted Raimi, and David Duchovny! And in addition to all of that, the second season finale is a cliffhanger that will freak you the F*CK out (in a good way).
It is rare to see a show so layered and wonderful as Twin Peaks. There is a reason this show is considered a cult classic, so stop putting it off and add it to your Netflix queue. You can thank me later. ;)
PS: If the above five paragraphs haven’t yet convinced you to watch Twin Peaks, here are a few more reasons:
- David Duchovny plays a transvestite named Denise.
- Alicia Witt (Alia from Dune) plays a mean piano while Ray Wise sings and dances before falling to pieces. Literally.
- David Lynch’s son Austin shows up as a magician and is the creepiest little kid ever!
- Peter Dinklage may have won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Game of Thrones, but Michael J. Anderson can talk backwards and dance like a boss!
- Hey look! It’s Emily and Zooey Deschanel’s mom Mary Jo!
- THIS scene where Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn) works to convince a whorehouse madame to take her on:
Ape shall not kill ape. So why do geeks bully fellow geeks?
— Casey McKinnon (@caseymckinnon) July 6, 2012
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback on my “This is why they hate us…” blog post. Some good, some bad, and some ugly. I wanted to set the record straight since there have been some misunderstandings.
The blog post I wrote was meant to ask the question of why there is so much sexism in the geek and gamer community. I didn’t try to write a long essay on the subject, but instead made a short post about a few things I’ve noticed recently; fellow gamers being attacked by misogynists (including a friend of mine), and a growing trend of women taking sexy photos promoting their geek pride.
The artist and pin-up models that inspired me to write the post were not featured as targets of evil, but were instead featured as part of a larger number of people in the community who are using sex to sell a geek image. Sadly, before we could have a civil debate, the models sicced their fans on me and I was barraged with a number of offensive comments, emails and blog posts.
To take a quote from the movie Mean Girls, “There’s been some girl-on-girl crime here.”
Perhaps I should have made it clearer in my post that pin-ups are not to blame for misogyny, but that the growing trend makes the geek girl community look like they are more concerned with looking sexy than actually kicking a dude’s ass at Halo. I certainly don’t believe these girls should be held responsible for the sexist actions of males, but I also don’t believe the act of taking sexy photos contributes to building up geek cred. As in other male-centric circles, we females need to prove ourselves to get onto the same level of distinction as our male counterparts. And if we want to add credibility to the image of the geek girl community we need to do it through knowledge.
In retrospect, I should have just shared Brandon Sheffield’s opinion piece in Gamasutra entitled Video games and Male Gaze – are we men or boys? He put a lot more thought and research into the piece (as I would have if I were writing an article for somewhere other than my personal blog!), and he outlines the problems and solutions for misogyny much more eloquently. Another great article on the subject is Sexually assaulting Lara Croft; required reading if you’re interested in fighting sexism (and other isms) in the geek and gamer community.
Thank you for all your feedback, but this is all I will say on this subject.
For all those asking, here’s my schedule for Comic-Con 2012!
Thursday, July 12
11am – Wake up
11:01am – Check email
11:02am – Check Twitter
11:05am – Tweet something hilarious while chuckling to myself about how clever I am
11:15am – Play Wurdle
12pm – Eat some lunch
1pm – Watch Days of Our Lives
2pm – Write
6pm – Make dinner
7pm – Eat it
8pm – Meet with my writing partner
10pm – Cuddle while watching Wilfred
Friday, July 13
9:15am – Wake up
9:30am – Realize it’s Friday the 13th and tell the internet about it
9:45am – Workout
12pm – Lunch
1pm – Watch Days of Our Lives
2pm – Write
4pm – Google+ Hangout?
6pm – Go out for dinner, I’ve cooked enough this week
8pm – Have a date with Netflix
Saturday, July 14
11am – Wake up. Reset my alarm. Go back to sleep
12pm – Wake up for realz
1pm – Eat at Subway
2pm – Shop
4pm – Crash
4:15pm – Drink caffeine in the hopes of uncrashing
8pm – Order delivery (the caffeine didn’t work)
Sunday, July 15
11am – Wake up and lie in bed for an hour playing on my phone
12pm – Make a healthy brunch
1pm – Go out and do household shit
6pm – Phone my parents
6:30pm – Make dinner
9pm – Mourn Game of Thrones
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that almost every night I have exciting and colorful dreams. Well, last night was a doozy and you’ll see why if you read to the end.
I dreamed that I was having dinner at a huge charity event, and seated at my table was my immediate family, Gerald Butler, and my maternal grandmother. At some point when we were ordering dessert, everyone at the table was silently confused and a little freaked out. You see, my grandmother has been dead for over 12 years.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen my grandmother in dreamland, so I started to think about how this could have happened. I came up with a great explanation and, if you’re a Supernatural fan as I am, you should know that ghosts can be bound to an object (just as Bobby was bound to his flask this past season). I deducted that since my grandmother only shows up when there is a crowd, someone else at the charity event must have something of hers that helps her spirit travel and see us every once in a while. I realized it was her purse… a vintage purse that someone purchased second hand.
When I went to look over at Gramma again she was gone. People were leaving the event, so I ran into the crowd to see if I could find out where the purse went. No luck.
And then I woke up.
And then I realized what day it is today. July 3rd, my grandmother’s birthday.
Happy birthday, Gramma! Love, your little ducky/chickadee.
The other day my friend Neha Tiwari tweeted the following:
I really want to go home and watch some DS9 now…I know the first season isn’t that great,is season 3 where it picks up? (remind me tweeps)
— Neha Tiwari (@Nehalia) May 18, 2012
Since I just finished re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Netflix, I know quite a bit about the series and understand Neha’s desire to start with season three because that is where the series really picks up. Overall, DS9 is the best Star Trek series to date, but in the first couple of seasons it suffered from too many Bajoran-based storylines and being overshadowed by its predecessor Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like any new series, it took some time to develop characters and come into its own, but by season three it had succeeded; DS9 raised the bar with epic three-episode story arcs and, after seven seasons, ended its run with a mind blowing, tear jerking ten-episode finale.
All that being said, I still feel it’s important not to miss a few episodes from season one and two since they introduce some amazing cross-season storylines and feature recognizable guest stars you will enjoy. So, if you want to skip ahead like Neha, I made this helpful list to help you breeze through the first two seasons without feeling like you’ve missed anything.
- Emissary: Picard’s in it and it’s a truly excellently written pilot episode. Watch it.
- Q-Less: Q returns with Vash. As a TNG fan, you have to see it.
- If Wishes Were Horses: A fun episode where everyone’s imagination becomes reality. I love the sexual tension between Dax and Bashir.
- The Forsaken: Lwaxana Troi FTW! Surprisingly touching and hilarious story with Odo.
- In the Hands of the Prophets: Season finale. Introduces you to the future evil of Kai Wynn. So evil. Seriously, would someone please kill this woman with fire?!
- The first three episodes are a full story arc that have a rather sexy Bajoran Steven Webber and Frank Langella.
- Invasive Procedures: Not the greatest episode, BUT it has Tim Russ (Lt. Tuvok from ST:VOY) and John Glover (Lionel Luther from Smallville) it it!
- The Alternate: Sweet Odo episode.
- Whispers: Great O’Brien episode.
- Blood Oath: First major Klingon episode.
- The Wire: Good Garak episode. One of the first episodes focusing on my favorite character!
- Crossover: The first mirror universe episode since ST:TOS!!! SOOOO AWESOME!
- The Jem’Hadar: The season finale that leads into the first two episodes of season 3.
Now, go watch them and feel free to let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any episodes… I’m just waiting for the wise guy that tells me I forgot to mention Move Along Home. I didn’t.
The bill goes too far.
My mother is very by-the-book. For years my father called her “Moral Marian” because she wouldn’t cross the road without a walk signal even if there was no traffic in site. Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… Even though I’m constantly disappointed when Netflix and iTunes don’t have all the titles I want to watch, I never turn to torrent sites to access them illegally.
“A little-noticed portion of the proposed law, which CNET highlighted in an article, goes further than Protect IP and could require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block Web sites suspected of copyright infringement.”
Under SOPA, a site could literally be shut down after a single copyright claim without a trial.
This directly affects my industry: the web TV industry.
Since 2005 I have created and produced a number of web series that relied heavily on fair use. This exception to copyright allowed me and my partner Rudy Jahchan to create parodies on our sci-fi comedy show Galacticast and display comic artwork in our comic book review show A Comicbook Orange. Even though we were extremely careful to follow the guidelines of fair use law, we still lived in fear that a big studio would sue us for using their characters, music, images, or video footage. Thankfully this never happened, but if it had we did have the law on our side. If SOPA goes through, web videos that feature any sort of copyrighted material under fair use laws may not be so lucky.
Another very serious problem the web TV industry could face is copyright infringement claims from corporations. As a producer I have often licensed music, images and art directly from musicians, photographers and artists. In fact, the background for the A Comicbook Orange web site is made up of copyrighted illustrations that are used with permission from the artists directly, but (under SOPA) if a big company like Marvel or DC were to claim they infringe on their copyright our entire site could be shut down without our ability to protest and prove our innocence.
Think this doesn’t sound possible? Read this article about how Universal Media Group removed an episode of TWiT show Tech News Today from YouTube for reporting on a recent Universal copyright controversy. Hell, UMG and other music and media companies have been removing and blocking videos from YouTube for YEARS… why would we give them the keys to do this throughout the entire internet?
We all need to take action.
Call your congressperson and let them know that you do not support this bill. Feel free to add that if they do, you will not support them in the next election. Go here to find your local representative.
In addition, let the corporations and organizations behind this bill know that you expect them to retract their support or you will publicly boycott their products and services. For your reference, here is a list of companies that have come out in support of SOPA. Personally, I’m disappointed in the Screen Actors Guild, especially since they should be representing the interests of the web TV community and if they have conflicting interests between the studios and independents, they should simply retract their support and stay neutral.
Be sure to give a pat on the back to all of those who have come out to oppose the bill. Aside from all the forward-thinking internet companies, I’m truly grateful to the Writers Guild of America, West for speaking out about its’ opposition.
And lastly, be sure to vote for representatives in the future who understand current technology because… it’s no longer OK to not know how the internet works.