"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pictures Making My Day

This picture from A Place To Love Dogs

http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/236476599_b00SV2BK_c.jpgThese pumpkins!
http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/236477553_pdSVqw0g_c.jpgOh My Gosh, these shoes!

 And this dog tag.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bear With Me

I'm designing and printing and cutting and boxing and sorting and tagging, all in preperation of tying a big ole knot together with the Love of My Life.


Today the beau and I had a meeting with our venue owners, who also happen to be our attendants. (Lucky, lucky us!) They are both involved in the industry, and two of their combined strengths happen to be Production Coordinating and Live Event Production Designing.

We are in such amazing and talented and generous hands. And ORGANIZED. I wish I could have shown you their Living Room wall; it has the next 14 days separated out in sheets of paper with Post-Its of when and what tasks need to be started, worked on, finished, and when and what other things are happening, including when our families are arriving.

I'm so thankful for them.


the whole point of this post, when my scrambled brain started it, was to show you what our Wedding Logo looks like.

The guy's a comic book artist. I think he captured our likenesses perfectly!

Cute, huh?

The future Mrs. Dee-ETCH-uh-DO-way

Friday, September 16, 2011

So We Will NOT Be Eating Spaghetti Squash Tonight

Just kidding. I can't just throw out all that food! I scraped it all back up and tossed it in a large skillet, added butter, lemon juice, garlic and parsley and it was still quite good.

Besides. Clean out the Microwave was on my To Do list anyway.

But be forewarned. If you also buy a Spaghetti Squash from Trader Joes and the sticker on it says, "Pierce with a fork five times," don't listen. Pierce that puppy like it's a zombie trying to kill you.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Calm

I'm calm, I'm calm, I'm perfectly calm....

But really, I am. I mean, I'm taking a break to blog, right?

I'm getting married in 17 days. Kind of crazy. There is so much to do, and yet, there is no need to freak out.

Yet. :)

I have the rough draft of our ceremony done, and our officiant has it in her hands and is going over it.

I still need to go to Costco, but that can wait til Monday or Tuesday for all the plates, napkins, forks and things.

I'm going to be working on the Rehearsal Dinner invite soon. And that's super easy, cause I'm just going to take the invite in photoshop and move all the layers around with the new info.

We're 99% sure of where the Rehearsal Dinner will be.

And the gift for our attendants is all coming together.

All of it is all coming together.

And all because of the generosity of our friends who said, "Please let me know how I can help," and really meant it.

I'm feeling loved. By more than just my future husband; by all the friends we chose as our family. Because you DO get to choose your family after all.

Remind them you love them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I studied dental hygiene and played video games!

Then my roommate and I got an unexpected surprise from his long lost dad.

What I am Going to Do This Fall
Get Married!!
(in 20 days, actually. Hooray!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Response from Dan Harris

A while back I wrote this post and I didn't mention that I never contacted anyone connected to the site when I formed my opinion of it.

Dan Harris, the director and producer of iDanceMachine.com, wanted to defend his website and motives and I thought it would only be fair that I present his side to you. With his permission, here is his email:
Hey Lira,
I am amazed at the fact that you have formed a opinion on something you know nothing about. So I just had to respond to your comments that are not true. I will be the first to agree with you that there are websites out there that say they will cast you if you have a lot of votes, or worse charge you to get bookings. In the case of idancemachine.com that is entirely the opposite.  Not only it's  free but had you done your homework you would have found that the voting system at idancemachine is purely to inspire.

You also would have found that we have already cast some "Unknows". We cast a unknow from a small town in Australia, flew him out here on our dime, where he starred in (2) of our commercials and our new reality show. It wasn't his ratings that got him the gig, he simply was good actor.  Ask any of our members.  To respond to your promo marketing campaign theory, the second person we cast for the same shows, was little to unknow by most of our members and had a low vote count, and in fact had not been on our website in several months due to a family tragedy.  But as it turns out she had several great auditions, so the casting director and I, cast her and flew her out from Houston TX on our own dime as well. And by the way, because the fact that this member had a very low status and rating on our site, we had some disgruntled members leave us do to the fact that we cast her. So there goes your rating therory out the window.

In regards to our vote/comment  application,  you should know that  we use it to encourage not to discourage.  A example, if someone was to receive 5 stars for a audition our highest rating, that would mean everyone has enjoyed and appreciated it, "a job well done".  Now if you were to get a low number of votes on a audition, it's are hope that would inspire you, "to encourage you" to make a better audition. "To hone your craft".  I will admit the auditions with the higher votes do grab more attention, that is called popularity and curiosity, that is normal in any situation, but in no way that means someone with a high vote count will be casted over someone with a low vote count, just ask our member from Houston TX.

To quote you, "probably worse than winning the lottery" if I am not mistaken everyday casting is just like winning the lottery.  After all I'm sure you are aware that out of 120,000 SAG actors 3% of there members get work, isn't that is like winning the lottery?

As for named actors, at this point we are not aggressively going after any one like a  Vanessa Hudgens or Dianna Agron, but hey if they were interested in doing our film we would definitely jump on it. But that doesn't mean the other 15 roles our so we would not be cast from our member base. Here is some homework for you, who was Zach Efron before High School Musical?   [editor's note: well, since you asked, he was a series regular on a prime time network drama.]

At IDM we do not charge for any acting tip service. All of our information is free.  We have several videos on how to make a proper video audition hosted by our casting director and noted acting coaches. And let us not forget we have industry professionals that leave comments all the time on auditions of how to better your performance. We have blogs that explain how to use sides, videos on what is the best way to use makeup for a audition, or sharing your profile with the rest of the web. And there so much more, which again is all free. Just so you know, several members have already booked work because of our website. Some even found representation, and it didn't cost them one cent.

I will say this; our website did start out as a simply way to cast for our 3D Dance movie, but as it turned out it became so much more. It now is a place for Actors, Singers, Dancers and the like to go and express themselves, chat with follow thespians, blog about there acting school, share ideas, or even commiserate about our wacky industry. It has turned into the Social Network for the Artist, and we intend to make that grow long after the movie is completed.

I grew up surrounded by actors and dancers, and I know how tough it can be trying to get a break just in Hollywood. Can you imagine how hard it must be for the rest of inspiring actors across the globe. This quote below is from one of our members. This is a shout out to Ophelia one of your members.

"For me, I'd rather be a long shot than a no shot. Put me in the game, put my name and face up where a million people can see it. The alternative is go to NY or LA, get in a workshop, network with everyone you can, try to get an agent and go on hundreds of auditions. That's what I've been doing here in LA for the past three years. Truth is if you got and they like it you're going to make it! That's what I say when I'm putting on my makeup every day!! and I will make it!"

In conclusion I invite you to check us out. If you do, I know you will see that we are forming a creative community for the artist in all of us.

Oh and if you speak to Anita make sure she does her homework. 
Enjoy the Phenomenon,
Dan Harris
Director, Producer
Thanks for reading and writing, Dan!

I'm sure your letter helps my readers get a better idea of what you're about.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Oldie But a Goodie

I'm still on vacation. Here's a post from April 2010. Enjoy!

I'm Talking to You, Tina Fey

Twice on set today, the clients stopped me to remark just how much I look like Tina Fey. They were so happy they could get her doppelganger so cheap! Tina has a scar on her face, I have a mole on my ear. Seriously. It's like we're related. So I thought, you know what? Why not capitalize off her fame? I deserve it simply because of our similarity.


And so, My open letter to Tina Fey:

Dear Tina,

Picture this: Liz Lemon has a sister. In fact, while Liz's sister, Alice (I know you like that name!), visits her, Liz gets really sick and sends Alice to work at 30 Rock in her stead. No one notices the difference, and all find themselves strangely attracted to Alice and kinda freak out about it. Except for Kenneth, who is sure that the younger Alice is a new pop star ready to steal Liz's place, just like  Lady Gaga stole Madonna's. And of course Jack and Alice hit it off and sleep together.  It was so great, of course, that Jack promotes who he thinks is Liz to Governor of General Electric. When the real Liz comes back, however, she resigns from her new position, as she had never entered a beauty pageant and felt under-qualified. Jack assures her that it takes no skills to be Governor and that he had actually promoted her to be his Governess, who must wear leather and whip him every Sunday at 4. Liz is oddly okay with that as any and all dental work is free with her promotion. Jenna, jealous of Liz's earlier popularity, comes back from the plastic surgeon's as Heidi Montag.

Wanna do this?

Have your people call my people.


PS How am I PALER than you!?

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Pennington for Your Thoughts

When I get a comment from a reader I don't know, I always look at their blog. Always. And I'll admit it, when I read blogs from someone who obviously has a better vocabulary than I, I get a little hot and bothered. Add in an unusual name and musician-writer-artist hyphenates and I am in full girl crush mode. 
Everyone, meet Ginger Pennington
 I know, Total Babe, right? She also has an August birthday and the fun Newlywed glow, as she just married the love of her life a little over two months ago. 
So go ahead and read on, and I dare you not get a little crush on her too. 
Ins and Outs for Artists

The door has been left unlocked, and here I am, inside the sacred hallows of The Struggling Actress blog, so very pristine and pink! 
The "I" in question is Ginger. You don't know me, but I am a fellow Struggling Actress, a Los Angeleno who doesn't take much seriously, an Unfocused Singer / Songwriter, seeker of adventure, a Periodic Painter, a Scatterbrained Writer of many ill-fated poems and fictions and Taste of Ginger, a dilettante artist of many stripes, and first and foremost, a Liver of Life.  

It is a bit mysterious and thrilling being here inside Lira's lovely blog -- like house-sitting while she is on vacation. I always snoop when I am left alone inside someone's space...it makes me feel like a sleuth. I love learning little secrets about people. And it's exciting to try to put things back at the exact angle you found them with shaky hands. As you'd expect, Lira hasn't left anything incriminating lying around: almost five hundred blog posts are filed away neatly, one wall is full of little doorways leading to other websites, there's a table cluttered with ideas and projects...and a note for me with instructions to distract her readers so they won't pine for her as she takes an extended vacation. 

So, what could be more distracting than my inner monologue?

Here is an epipha-not that just occurred to me as I was trying to fall asleep. Everything that you do in your life ever (besides meditating) falls under these two categories: Things Coming In or Things Going Out. Inbox or Outbox. Absorbing or Creating. Just think of how simple that makes every second of your life. The thing I realized is that most people spend most of their time Absorbing, or intaking, while creative people are much more concerned with putting out (and no, I don't mean in a slutty way). Consider:

Sleeping = Absorbing energy, taking in rest
Going for a run = Expelling sweat, creating kinetic energy

Eating Breakfast = Absorbing energy, taking in calories
Cooking Breakfast = Creating cuisine, expelling your culinary ideas

Browsing the web = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Writing emails or blogs = Creating something, sending out your brainwaves

Watching a movie = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Acting in a movie = Creating a character, sharing your energy

Reading a book = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Writing a book  = Expelling your own words and ideas

Listening to music = Taking someone's creativity in through your earholes
Writing or singing a song = Expelling your own ideas or voice

Going to a museum = Taking in someone's ideas through your eyeballs
Drawing a picture = Sending out creativity through your fingertips

I'm sure this epipha-not is half-baked...there are probably arguments you could make that certain actions in your life don't fall under one of these two categories -- like having a conversation, for example -- but I would find a way to argue back, of course, by saying that if you break it down to smaller increments of time, a conversation's nothing but taking in someone's ideas for a beat and then expressing your own. In and Out. The simplest unit of in and out is breathing, of course -- the stuff of life. 

What I've found, for me at least, is that I can't be happy unless I am relatively balanced between the intake and output. It's like I have this internal scale weighing everything and saying, "Yes, watching that Fresh Prince DVD from the library sounds great right now," but after an episode says, "I know I had planned to go to the movies at 7, but wouldn't I rather go to yoga instead?"

Now, that is not to say that it isn't lucrative to allow oneself entire days or even weeks of unbalanced input or output. I mean, there are some weeks that I just feel like a genius, so inspired, and during that week maybe all these opportunities pop up, allowing me to expel all my genius ideas into the ether -- to share them with the world! But how exhausting is that? And for this reason, I spend the next entire week being a complete bum, watching movies and reading books and resting all day, and hardly lifting a finger or allowing a brainwave to escape. 

Creatives, if you keep your life feeling like a swinging pendulum, then every time your pendulum swings back to the other side, you will feel refreshed and ready for the change, whether the change is flopping onto the sand with a good book or strutting into a new job rarin' to share your expertise. 

Oh, and here is something else I figured out: brand new experiences are the best, because then you are intaking and outputting AT THE SAME TIME! "No way," you say, "how does that work?" Well I'll tell you. When you buy that Groupon for the Trapeze School and you go down to the pier and climb up the ladder with trembling knees and grab for that swinging bar, you are learning something -- you are taking in a completely new-to-you possibility...but you are also expending energy, sharing your burgeoning trapeze talent with onlooking tourists who wish they were as brave. Perhaps this is why new experiences are so thrilling; they are the best of both worlds and provide an automatic balance of absorption and creation! So go hike that trail you've been wondering about. Go visit that town and talk to the locals! Go eat at that restaurant and then Yelp to high heavens about the polenta! Keep your balance.

...This is why our friend Lira needed her vacation. Have you seen what this woman has accomplished and expelled and created in the past few months? Her pendulum is due for a swing toward utter absorption and relaxation. Those who create frequently (blogging, auditioning, filming commercials, working) need to "fill the well," as Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way, so that they will have something to draw from when they dip their bucket in. Before we can have anything to write about, sing about, act, or paint, we need to take in rest and experience and inspiration. So you can bet that when your favorite Struggling Actress returns, her well shall be full -- nay, overflowing! -- with possibilities and creativity and advice and experience. 

But before I go, maybe I'll just peek in a few drawers...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Well, Well, Wellington

Anita Rossbach is just a lovely Kiwi all around. Despite the nearly day difference, she and I have been following each other for the last, what? almost two years? And even though we're in two totally different markets (and hemispheres!) we are always cheering each other on. 

Anita was in a 48 Hour Film Festival, and the short they put together just had me in STITCHES. Seriously. I asked her if she wouldn't mind writing a little bit about her experience, and she happily obliged!


Four Simple Steps to Making a Short in Only 48 Hours
by Anita Rossbach

  1. Assemble your Team
  2. Attend the Launch, receive your genre (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/2011/about/?ss=genres ) and required elements (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/2011/register/#elements)
  3. Write, cast, shoot, and edit a short in less than 48 hours
  4. Hand in your short at the Finish Line and you're done!
Simple right?
This is V48Hours (www.v48hours.co.nz), the largest film competition in New Zealand. It’s madness and it is a TON of fun!
V48Hours starts on a Friday in May at 7pm, were two representatives of each team that enters get given a genre their film must adhere two, plus required elements that their film has to contain. The genres can be anything from romance, to crime, to fairy tale. The elements are usually a character name, a trait of the named character, a prop, a line of dialogue and for the past couple of years also a particular shot. So, for example for 2011 the required elements were a character named Bobby/Bobbie Young, a former bully, a piece of bent wire, ‘What have you got?’, and a freeze frame ending.
From Friday 7 pm, teams have 48 hours, until Sunday 7pm to write, cast, film and edit a short film under 7 minutes length. Most films are live action but there are also quite a few animated films!
After the deadline all films who made it across the finish line in time are contenders for various city and later national awards. All films whether disqualified or not get screened in an ever increasing number of heats in a real life cinema. So as long as you hand in something, you get to see your weekend’s hard work on the big screen.
The first year I participated I was a runner/AD on a team that consisted of a writer-director-DOP-editor-composer, five actors, one other runner and myself. Our genre was Superhero and the script was written with the only thought being that all five actors would get an equalish amount of screen time. We shot outside but didn’t have a mike but the one built into our crappy camera. The actors were practically left to their own devices and struggled to make the convoluted script work for them. Our everyman worked his butt off and got in a film on time if I remember correctly. It was pretty awful but nonetheless everyone on the team had a fun day, well all of us who had no more than two jobs anyway. I loved doing the bit of AD work I got to do and love watching the actors do their thing. This was before I admitted to myself that I too wanted to be in front of the camera.
The next year I participated, I got my wish. It was my first time in an actual film. Check it out here and feel free to laugh at my expense. I do every time I watch it (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/screening-room/2010/wellington/femme-noir/). But the film was much better than the first year. We had a writing team, an experienced DP, who guided our first-time director, and people in every department who did their jobs with enthusiasm and without getting in other people’s way and helped out where asked and needed as it should be. But 48Hours is treacherous and it didn’t help that that year it was extremely cold. Wellington winter is no fun when you’re running around in short skirts and fishnets! We didn’t quite make the deadline but got to see our film on the big screen nonetheless. I already have had my silver screen debut. Pretty amazing!
This year was easily the most fun I have had with 48Hours and I would team up with these guys again in a heartbeat. The writing was fantastic, the team was into it and easy to work with, and the film we produced was the most popular in the V48Hour screening room for 2011 until the national winners were announced. In fact, we’re still the third most watched film of the year. I wouldn’t call it my greatest acting achievement either, but really, Joseph as Mr America and the wicked songwriting are what makes this fun little musical bomb of a satire on New Zealand/American relations so great.
When 48Hours is organized chaos as opposed to just chaos, it’s one of the best experiences New Zealand has to offer in terms of bringing film enthusiasts lay or pro together for a once a year crazy ride of film frenzy. You have anyone entering the competition - from school teams participating as a class project, to semi-professional teams like Traces of Nut who never fail to dazzle. Check out their amazing Longdrummer here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI_nClihKUQ&feature=channel_video_title) and this year’s wicked entry Ruby Red (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/screening-room/2011/wellington/ruby-red). Local writing/directing/acting talent Taika Waititi (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0169806/) made this competition his one-man show up until a couple of year ago.
I might be overusing the word a bit but 48Hours can be WICKED fun. If you’re not in NZ, you should find out if a city near you has anything like it (http://www.48hourfilm.com/)!
Get as organized as possible beforehand, do everything you can to get those creative juices flowing, have FUN and then: ‘WRITE. SHOOT. CUT. SURVIVE’!