Why I don’t have a Twitterfeed…an example.


LADY FROM POST OFFICE: Are you pregnant?
ME: I dyed my hair.
LADY FROM POST OFFICE: Well I knew something was different.
ME:…

Sigh.

So, somebody tell me what to do to make this happen: http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/theskyline/2009/02/the-conventional-wisdom-forming-about-barack-obamas-infrastructure-investment-is-that-it-will-take-care-of-small-stuff–filli.html

Also, get a load of the web address. I mean, Tribune, you don’t have to type the first entire sentence….

Anyhoo, last night I planned to do large amounts of laundry, clean a bit, knit a lot and generally get things done I had put aside during my trip to Ohio. Instead, I forgot my keys, went to Pay Half while I waited for Will to get home, bought a couple shirts, talked to a computer tech who liked my cats and really impressed me by picking up my sad sad computer. Then I made mulligatawny and watched the Pres. And maybe…just maybe…spoon fed a cat baby food. Oh my god. Delete delete delete. Except I don’t delete. I post. I have this encompassing need to remain honest.

I just ate what I thought was a cinnamon muffin, but turned out to be a walnut muffin and now I think I might be allergic to it. Eeeee.

This is why I don’t have a Twitter feed.

What I need is a personal assistant. I’ve been campaigning for this for years but no one has applied. I’m hoping with the current economic situation, people are rethinking their priorities and looking for more experience rather than wealth. If that sounds like, you, well pull up a chair. Being my personal assistant is a hard job, but hardly thankless, as I like to say. First of all, you won’t have to cook. I like doing that. Although I will make you an apron just so we coordinate. But I get ahead of myself. You see, I’m an idea girl. I come up with them faster than I can write them down, and sometimes I can’t read what I wrote. For example, in my ongoing list of Things I Might Want to Do there are a few items that read something like “satv quil, will’s guilt (that can’t be right), download breathe, D Check scribble lists to dunlist, Indian Food and Fab (this has to involve Carol), Crewel World, Patry fixed, Systematic Daily One Drawer (which, while readable, still unintelligible), also “get cat toothbrush.” Anyway, it would be your job to help me figure out what I meant by these items. If in fact what I meant was “Get a cat toothbrush,” then it would be your job to call my psychiatrist and get an appoinment for me.

I’ll do things like make the bed and laundry and stuff. Mainly I just need you to schedule me and tell me where to go and what to do. No, this job doesn’t pay, but the networking opportunities are endless and I will write you one great recommendation letter.

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Virtue has it’s own reward, but no sale at the box office


My sister Ellen brings up an interesting point, Why did I not include Phillip Seymour Hoffman on my list? Fair question. Answer: I dunno. Failure to include by reason of didn’t think about it at the time?

But he is a fantastic actor…I’m just not as familiar with his cannon. In fact, aside from Capote, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen in a non-supporting role, i.e. a lead. That might not be true, but I certainly haven’t made the effort to follow his career like others.

Why? Two reasons: 1. He looks like my cousin. A lot. So I mentally give him characteristics of my cousin that don’t actually apply. This confuses me, and spirals downward.

Reason 2. I don’t know. It must have been bs. Anyway, he is a fabulous actor. Just amazing. He’s got the chops to transition from stage to screen. He was really funny on the Daily Show. He talks about acting without sounding douchey, an accomplishment that few can claim. Edward Norton, anyone? “Here’s where I break the fourth wall…” Here’s where I break your face, Norton.

So, with that in mind, I give you slot 22. Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Good call, Ellen. You could probably argue me into making him switch places with Montgomery Clift, eventually. But he needs to learn the ropes of slot 22 first.

So one might wonder what it takes for me personally to consider them a “good” actor. Well, 1. I have to buy what you’re selling. Let me explain that by highlighting someone’s performance I don’t buy. The princess in a Knight’s Tale. She is horrid. She walks with her hands tucked in her sleeves, like a highschooler schlepping into first period. The words are awkward in her mouth. There is lack of confidence and stature and that is painful to watch. Partially, she’s trumped by the surrounding talent: Paul Bettany, et al. For another example of this, see Mia in Chicago. Or basically anyone in a Kevin Smith movie, which brings me to a sidebar: I can enjoy, in very particular circumstances, some films where the acting sucks as long as it has something to offer (witty dialogue, amazing visuals). This, thus far, has not proven true of theatre. The lights might rock, but if I’m paying attention to the lights, the actors aren’t doing their job.

2. The actor has to do the vocal work. I don’t necessarily mean completely changing their voice and taking on an outrageous accent. I just mean that a. for any of this to matter, you have to be heard and understood (yes yes, there are always exceptions to the rule..see some of Benicio Del Toro’s performances) b. The choices have to be certain and make sense. c. They have to be honest. There is a fine line between an imitation and a characterization, and an actor has to find that. I give you Diane Wiest in Bullets Over Broadway. I could close my eyes, and her performance would still rock based solely on her vocal work. A less dramatic example would be Hope Davis in American Splendor. I would say the pinnacle of great vocal performances (in film) would go to Frances McDormand for Marge Gunderson in Fargo. She takes what could be a comedian’s impression of an Upper Midwesterner, and brings it to the level of real, even with a potentially cartoony accent. She lets the vocals inform even how her body moves, how it shifts in a chair, how it carries a baby. A very well-deserved Oscar indeed.

3. Presence. You either have it or you don’t. It’s beyond my ability to define but I’ll say this, Emma Thompson has it. Gretchen Mol does not. Ian McKellan has it. Jeremy London does not.

4. Sense of humor. I’m not saying this person has to be incredibly hilarious, but nothing is serious all the time, Angelina. Kathy Bates knows this. So does Amy Adams, and Laura Linney, and Allison Janney, and Paul Rudd, and George Clooney. That’s what makes them enjoyable to watch. It’s also why I think that more comedies should be included in Oscar consideration along with their performers. Marisa Thomei f’ing deserved her Oscar for My Cousin Vinny. She just did. She was smart, she was funny, she sold it, she did the work, and she brought others up to her level in what could have been a throwaway performance. Anybody can knock out a fake tear, but not everbody has perfect comedic timing. And she does something else, she is funny without having to take on masculine characteristics. There is an underlying current in entertainment of “Men funny, Women not funny”. Of course this is a grand generalization, but imagine a female Jack Black. She’s out there, but ain’t no cameras on her. This isn’t really what this blog is about, but you can see where some double standards lie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jack Black. I think he’s very talented both as an actor AND as a musician, but he is allowed the easy joke, the fart joke, the sex joke. As Mae West once said, A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him. The same joke out of a woman would be viewed as merely crass, instead of crass and hilarious. Check out Beth Ditto (true not an actor, but still illustrates my point.)

The women on my Top Actresses list are Funny Women, and their jokes aren’t all tampons and kids and big asses. I encourage you to watch anything starring Catherine O’Hara from Home Alone to Beetlejuice to A Mighty Wind. Not once is she dishonest and not once is she not funny. So to end this blog of mixed thoughts, themes, and bemoaning, I give you my top Actresses list:
22. Amy Adams
21. Frances Fisher
20. Kathy Bates
19. Jennifer Coolidge
18. Edie McClurg
17. Holly Hunter
16. Shirley McClaine
15. Mary Louise Parker
14. Kate Winslet
13. Terri Garr
12. Laura Linney
11. Hope Davis
10. Frances McDormand
9. Allison Janney
8. Doris Day
7. Barbara Harris
6. Catherine O’Hara
5. Elizabeth Taylor
4. Madeline Kahn
3. Diane Wiest
2. Myrna Loy
1. Emma Thompson

And if you don’t think Elizabeth Taylor is funny, you haven’t watched close enough. Maggie the Cat says everything you’ve always wanted to say. Nobody travels on a giant Sphinx without knowing a little something about memorable entrances. And you don’t gargle with whiskey, and steal a $2,000 mink without a little perspective.

But when all else fails in the world of performance, I always go back to a little Mae West advice that would serve any actor well, “It isn’t what I do, but how I do it. It isn’t what I say, but how I say it, and how I look when I do it and say it.”

Bring the Thunder


Watched Tropic Thunder on Sunday.

I really enjoyed it.

I mean, Robert Downey Jr. is just… I gotta tell ya, I think he’s the greatest actor of our time. I really believe that. I know my Greatest Actor list is…well…weird… but so am I. (1. Robert Downey Jr. 2. Johnny Depp, forgive my hormones, but I still think he’s really good 3. Cary Grant, 4. Roy Scheider, watch All That Jazz and then argue with me 5. Robert Mitchum, 6. Ian McKellan, 7. Christopher Guest, 8. Paul Rudd, 9. Gregory Peck, 10. ROck Hudson, 11. Gene Kelly, 12. Robert Redford, 13. Clark Gable, 14. George Clooney, 15. George C. Scott, 16. John C. McGinley, 17. Greg Kinnear, 18. Richard Dreyfuss, 19. Paul Newman, 20. Montgomery Clift…if there were a 21. It would be Peter Sellers.) I have an actress list, but it doesn’t apply here.

Now, back to the movie. There were parts that made me laugh less than I thought I would, and there were parts wherein I had to rewind because I was laughing so hard that I missed the following lines.

And yes. I listened to the commentary. I usually don’t, but I did. I will say that Jack Black ruminating to Robert Downey Jr. on his lack of experience with withdrawal was…slightly uncomfortable…

Here’s the thing: the Vietnam movie genre was ripe for a satire and Tropic Thunder delivers, as does Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey and surprsingly, Tom Cruise! Despite all my nausea and skepticism toward the icon….the actor nailed it. His instincts with this role were just spot on and impressive.

That’s the thing. This movie made me like actors I didn’t used to like, Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise…Okay, Nick Nolte and Tom Cruise. Yes, I already liked McConaughey. So sue me. He knows how ridiculous he is. He has to!

I’m not a huge Stiller fan in the sense that some of his schtick gets old really fast, but when he’s on, he’s on. Mostly, in this film, he’s on. I do wonder how it would have turned out if he just directed and let someone else play the lead, but in that this was an ongoing project for 20 years, that’s fairly moot.

There’s definitely some insider humor, i.e. I got the acting jokes and I can only assume that pyrotechnics guys on set probably really look like that. I just bet they do.

While it’s evident that the script was heavily improvised, that’s not a bad thing considering some of the gems that emerged (My personal favorite, Jack Black’s aggravated, “I fucking hate movies.” I’ve definitely had one eyelash glued to my cheek, my dance tights sliding off my legs, with an unbuckled character shoe all while in a kick line thinking, “I fucking hate theatre.” You don’t really mean it. Well you do. But you don’t.)

I never know how much plot line to blow when I’m psuedo reviewing. Especially when I’m pseudo reviewing something probably everyone has already seen (you see my weekends have been booked since August…)

I guess it comes down to this: you know who these actors are. If you like what they do, you will like this movie. And Robert Downey Jr. is always incredible. Just drop jaw incredible.

Essential Oils, A Wednesday Night, and Thou


Let’s talk homeopathic medicine.

Hey! Hey get back here! Come on back….come on back… Trust me okay?

Alright so first of all, I should say that I always approach DIY medicine with a highly raised eyebrow. When I was in high school, I saw many a kid head off to the CHIROPRACTOR for a sinus infection. I couldn’t help but cough out “WITCH DOCTOR!” when I was told of such things. BUT many a sore throat has been soothed by my Gramp’s “hot lemonade” (which, in all honesty, is more like “hot whiskey with a twist.”) and I am also a HUGE proponent of the Neti-pot/sinu cleanse system (which is basically saline solution.) The point is, it works, just like a baking soda paste kills the pain and the itch of a bee sting, like an oatmeal bath soothes chicken pox, like chicken soup treats a cold (Recent studies show that chicken soup actually has anti-inflammatory properties, so eat up!).

However, being an asthmatic, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in all forms of homeopathy. While searching for home treatments of asthma on the internet I found suggestions that ranged from, Buy a scarf! (Cold air aggravates trippy bronchial tubes), or Try not to go outside! (What am I, one of those people hidden for years in an attic in a story written by a Bronte?…Also, I have to go to work.) to Have couple cups of coffee (Great, I’m wheezing and I’m really excited about it). So, while I will gladly home treat a cold, sprain, or even infection (depending on the severity), I’m going to hang onto my Zyrtec and Advair.

While I grew up in a house with an LPN, I also grew up in a household where my parents not so secretly wished they were pioneers, making a homestead on the prairie, fighting back bobcats, and becoming masters of animal husbandry. My mother reveled in her ability to “feed an army” and I wouldn’t be surprised if secretly, she hoped the that the 171st Ohio would come marching down the road at some point, so she could test her theory. I remember one particular summer vacation where we all hovered around a hot cauldron in the summer sun, dipping wicks into beeswax, while grudgingly posing for pictures while my mom shouted, “Aren’t we having fun!?”

But I digress.

Once while my parents were reminiscing about reading books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I said, “You know…I feel like I would have been kind of sickly back then” and my mother said very matter of factly, “Oh, you wouldn’t have even made it this long.”

Which is probably true….but let us not dwell. I’ve accepted the fact that presumably in past lives I didn’t hang on a good long while. This time, I was thankfully born into an era of albuterol and steroids and nebulizers.

But sometimes, the home way is the only way, and push comes to shove, I’m a believer. Just don’t take away my inhaler.

So last night, around 9, when Will started to complain of a major toothache and conventional pain killers weren’t doing the trick, I went the way of the wise woman. And it worked.

First, I soaked a cotton ball in vanilla extract and had him rub it on the tooth. The alcohol content dulled the pain while I whipped up a decoction of cloves. Once I had released some of the clove oil, I handed Will a mug of the bitter concoction with a q-tip and had him soak the q-tip, and then put it as close to the source of pain as possible.

And it worked.

Now, of course he is calling the dentist this morning, and I fully expect him to go through another root canal. But at 9:00 at night, when the dentist is closed, and my home dentist’s “cocktail” (two ibuprofen, two acetominophen) is not doing the trick, you have to go to the pantry. And hopefully, you’ll find salt, cloves, and whiskey.
So, for future reference, here is Betsy’s late-nite toothache, kill the pain so you can sleep remedy:
1. First, floss and rinse with listerine, making sure that the pain isn’t coming from something lodged in your teeth. Like a tree or a rock.
2. Rinse with lukewarm salt water (helps kill infection, and clean out any wounds. Also helps with pain.)
3. Soak a cotton ball in real vanilla extract and rub on the pain (the alcohol kills the pain…temporarily. SHould be enough to get you through the next step). You can also try swishing small amounts of whiskey or vodka around the afflicted area.
4. Take cloves (I used both powdered and whole) and place them in a saucepan. The ratio is 1 tsp cloves to every cup of water. Boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. You are releasing the clove oils. Pour into a mug, and soak a toothpick in the decoction (don’t burn your mouth. Make sure the temperature is comfortable) and then rub as close to the source of the pain as possible. (Don’t drink too much liquid, or you will wash away the oil.)
5. Call your dentist as soon as you can.

After making sure my little invalid was comfortably sleeping, I whipped up some lavender linen spray, tea tree oil astringent, and some Herbal Appliance Degreaser creating a fantastic mess, and then shuffling off to bed myself.

Oh essential oils, I love thee so.

“And every task you undertake…becomes a piece of cake”


I’m on a new kick: Do it yourself cleaning products. I’m so very excited. My big Spring Cleaning is an April project, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start to prepare now, yes?

Last night, as I googled “Washing Soda” and other myriad non-toxic environmentally friendly ingredients, Will and I discussed my latest endeavor.
WILL: How much is the washing soda?
BETSY: It varies. On drugstore.com it’s 6.99
WILL: That’s a lot.
BETSY: It’s a 55 oz box.
WILL: This is going to end up costing more than regular cleaning products.
BETSY: In the short term…yes. But then I’ll be able to make refills practically forever! Lavendar scented, too! Name something that might need cleaning….just…just anything at all.
WILL: Light switches.
BETSY: (flipping through copy of The Naturally Clean Home) Ah ha! “Herbal Disinfectant!” 2 cups hot water, 10 drops thyme essential oil, 1/4 cup borax.
WILL: ….
BETSY: It’s going to be awesome.

It IS going to be awesome. Today I create my initial list of supplies (thank god I had the foresight on Monday to buy that plastic sprayer bottle at Walgreens.) I actually already have a lot of the supplies: Baking soda, Murphy’s oil soap, white vinegar (which already unclogged my iron sprayer this week!).

Actually, I know what’s going to happen. I’m going to stop at the art supply store for beeswax and I’ll decide that before I do any of this, a la Agnes and Kim from How Clean is Your House?, I will be distracted by my need for maribou trim cleaning gloves and I’ll come out with a bag full of feathers and glitter and forget all about the beeswax. What do I even need beeswax for anyway? I can’t remember, but I will never be without use for maribou.

Some of the more exotic ingredients I will be hunting for include Lanolin (the sheep from Garfield and Friends…I am going to LOVE having her around), Castile soap (that sounds so Espana), Carnauba wax (“The hardest natural wax known”. It’s made from palm trees. I smell vacay! Who’s with me?), and the ever so exotic sounding Diatomaceous Earth (the book says “NOT the diatomaceous earth from pool supplies stores.” In that case, I am just plumb out.)

Aside from the maribou gloves, it’s looking like I should invest in a safari ensemble (I can always wear a khaki skirt to work), complete with pith helmet (My grandpa used to have a pith helmet. Sadly, I don’t know what happened to it.) And obviously, natural cleaning products will require a special apron. Looks like I’ll be stopping at Jo-ann’s too. And Whole Foods…for the essential oils and glycerin, probably the Castile Soap (Ooh…not to self…pick up finger cymbals), and Citrus seed extract. I can get the Bon Ami and Cream of Tartar when I go grocery shopping.
Of course, the online resources for DIY cleaning products are endless. I found homemade Febreeze recipes, a Soft Scrub of sorts, 1001 Vinegar Tips and I even stumbled upon the book title: Baking Soda. Who’s going to be able to sleep tonight!?! Not me!!!!
Although….if there is H&M on the way to the art supply store, it’s over. This weather means new spring jacket and a girl has to have priorities. I can always trim it in maribou.

SODA


Soda is an acronym I came up with to describe a certain room in our house. I often forget what all the letters stand for, but since this is in written format, you’ll have no idea how long I paused while trying to remember, nor will you have to suffer through me, mouth-gaping, emitting a long “uhhhhhhhhh” while I try to think of it.
So here it is:
S:Sewing
O:Office
D:Dressing
A:Art

If I can just get a fridge in there I may never have to leave.

It all started out with my Christmas Gift from Will. He trompled all over the tri-state area (okay, he went to Schaumburg) looking for the perfect sewing table : “One that looks nice…and not too expensive.” And friends, he triumphed! So much so, that I decided I needed a sewing area! Yes! I would create a sewing area!

But then I thought…well I knit, too. Don’t I? I also paint occasionally and draw and color. I’m a walking pre-school on a rainy day at recess..with gin.

And then of course, there is all of my audition stuff, and musical instruments, and scripts, and sheet music, and headshots, and manilla envelopes (I just…I have a lot of manilla envelopes) and flotsam and jetsam and kits and caboodles and all sorts of items that would fall under the broad category of “Creative Endeavors”. While I wasn’t looking, or rather while I was coming out of a round of anesthesia, Will took it upon himself to remove some of my more hideous sculpture work (self portrait) so you’ll noticed I avoided the category of “ceramics”. Also he refuses to haul a piano to the third floor, I doubt I can get him to heave a kiln up there.

In short, I require not an area, but a Room. Will might say A Warehouse, but I think I’ve done well with the space allotted to me.

And I barely spent a dime. Alright I spent about 45 dollars all tolled.

The SODA room (pictures to follow) includes several areas:
1. Dressing : This includes our closets and dressers, ironing board and iron, laundry and linen care, and shoes. Also sheets.
2. Office: Computer and printing supplies, small office supplies, filing, Reference books, and correspondence.
3. Art supplies: All labeled and tucked away in a reappropriated shoe bag. Very clever. And not at all my idea, but I can’t remember where I saw it originally.
4. Knitting: I have a knitting bag fitted with wheels so that I can sail into old age as quickly as possible (I’m 27 going on 84 or 14…not sure). I’ll just poke a needle in at an angle and turn my little caddy into a hand car that I will seesaw into a geriactric ward…or even just a few feet into my
5: Sewing area: Sewing table, sewing machines, buttons, thread, notions, fabric, and other accoutrement, all sitting atop a hideously lovely purple carpet I got at the grocery store.
6: Easel: I have a strategically placed easel to hide the
7: Cat box: It’s pink. It’s cute. But it is still a cat box.
8. Theatre bookshelf: It is a limited display. Basically it holds all my practical (ha ha I know) theatre stuff: audition books, headshots, etc. The bulk of our theatre reading material (texts and the like) are in a Rubbermaid container out back.
9. Bulletin Board: To hold notes concerning my latest project. I plan to girlify this as soon as possible.

Of course, since the Muse of Arts and Crafts decided to beat me silly with a bolt of fabric and a t-square, I have loaded up my project plate to the point of screaming, but I’m loving every minute of it.

I’ll have pictures soon. I just need to vacuum up the cat litter.