Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Reflection: A Christmas Carol


Let's face it -- how many times have we heard, watched or listened to this story. Some may say one to many; however how many of us have actually sat down a read the original A Christmas Carol?  My guess is not enough. I am incredibly impressed by Soulpeppers' Word Festival which included  Miriam Margolyes  performing her  award winning Dickens' Women, a holiday production of A Christmas Carol and a marathon reading of some of Dickens’ best work—all in honor of his 200th birthday. Although I was unable to attend, the mere fact that we had a theatre celebrating a writer who wrote some timeless classics is a wonderful thing, especially when it is thought that reading is a dying art.

Is reading a dying art? I am not sure that I have the answer to that question (because I usually have the answers to all questions I ask :P ). One would argue that even in 1840’s when Dickens wrote this story many people couldn't read, however those who could read were reading a lot more (maybe?). Now a good number of people are literate but they don't read nearly as much as we used to. Perhaps this balances itself out. Yet, I see a lot of people riding the subway reading a novel or from their Kobo (or whatever other device that we own). I believe that reading from a book will, in fact, be dying out. Sure, this is incredibly sad for us "traditional book lovers" who love the smell of both very old or a bran-spankin’-new books that we just can't wait to dig into. The feel of the book in our hands as we can visually see how close to the end we are getting influencing us to read faster or slower depending on how we cling to characters. I hope that reading is not a dying art as “people” are saying, much like I hope that theatre is not a dying art (as I think that they are linked very closely). But alas, perhaps I am just a romantic -- the kind who clings to each character and laughs aloud on the subway or tears up on the couch devouring every word of a novel.



As for Dickens, I very much enjoyed reading this story which I know so well. To hear his words the way he wrote them and his own voice popping up now and then throughout the narrative. If you have not yet had the privilege, listen to Miriam Margolyes  interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Q, you should take the time to listen, as it is very entertaining and unveils a woman who has a great relationship with Dickens. (Although I am not fully sure how one can support reading so much but then admit that she never read any of the Harry Potter novels even though she played Professor Sprout in the movies). She describes Dickens as a mischievous writer who has a great voice that can be spotted in the characters he creates. From this, I like to think that I am getting to know Dickens one novel at a time, and although Great Expectations was not my favorite, I loved A Christmas Carol and cannot wait to sink my teeth into A Tale of Two Cities.

This story is a must read and I think almost everyone (except the unchanged Scrooge) would enjoy it. Yes, it does take place on Christmas Eve and I realize that not everyone celebrates this holiday -- but the lesson that it teaches the joy it brings and the smile on the readers face as they recognize and love the characters should not be overlooked. It is a quaint lovely story and would make an amazing Christmas gift for any young reader (if you are still looking)!

Up Next (most likely): Madame Bovary

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A Reflection: The Da Vinci Code

Well, it has been a long time since I have reflected on a book...in translation, it has been a long time since I have finished a book. I have felt the need to bounce around and feel out different novels, "testing the waters" if you will. Reading a lot of reaalllyyy lonnnnggg novels got me in the mood for something different and perhaps a little more recent, which lead me to The Da Vinci Code


I have previously read Dan Brown's first book in the series Angels and Daemons which I did enjoy. I must say that I didn't find the Da Vinci code that much different. Obviously it surrounds a different mystery but has the same theme of art and the same leading man (whom I do like), It is a fast-paced read and if you can figure out parts of the mystery along the way it becomes quiet fun. I find the Robert Langdon character interesting -- his temperament and definition in very much like Indian Jones in his profession and dress. However, he is a ladies’ man much like James Bond, and appears to jump from one woman to the next. I think this is a clever mix to captivate both male and female readers. Actually, I think this novel is quiet clever because it engages the reader in both the subjects of art and religion and makes us (at least me) want to learn more about Da Vinci and the Church. I realize that this is a fictional novel where the facts are not all true (obviously) but it makes us interested in something more than just the novel. Brown infuses both actual historical evidence and fictional made up evidence so well that it is difficult for the uneducated reader to decipher between what exists in our reality and what is simply something in the reality in which these characters live in. This is more of a compliment than a criticism, although this may create confusion in some readers mind (at least those who believe that this novel is all real, and do not have any intention of doing any reasearch themself).

This novel is not the greatest piece of literature ever written-- but it does provide a wonderful adventure and escape for those willing to mix up their own reality and definition of the Holy Grail.
Up Next: A Christmas Carol (it is that time of year!)

Monday, 10 December 2012

An Actor's Chistmas List

It has come to my attention that there are a few holidays upon us that would require you to purchase a gift for other individuals, and there is a chance that one of those individuals may be an actor. So, I have devised a Christmas list in order to help any individual shopping for an actor.





1. A Job.-- But since this can't be bought...(welll....not quite true) this item is somewhat negated.

2. Ink and Paper. For printing off thousands of resume's.

3. A book on acting (because they haven't gotten any jobs that pay...so maybe they need a tune up?)

(Actual book ideas that I have found helpful)
   - Audition by Michael Shurtleff
   - Acting for the Camera by Tony Barr
   - How to Stop Acting by Harold Guskin

4. Their favourite movie (maybe they get inspiration from that?)

5. Cable (because they can't afford it but need it in order to know what shows are current)

6. A Class (once again because they need to tune up on some stuff)

(Actual classes that I have found helpful)
   - Second City http://www.secondcity.com/training/toronto/
   - Pro Actors Lab http://www.proactorslab.com/
   - Metro Movement Card http://www.metromovement.com/
   - Vocal Classes http://www.tracymichailidis.com/class.html

7. A book on "back up plans" -- because we need one...

8. A Cook book -- to remind us to eat once in a while

9. Grocery Gift Certificate -- Once we are reminded to eat

10. A Dress up box -- obviously for all of the costumes we wear in all of the shows we star in!

11. A pack of red bull-- because none of us ever sleep.

12. A Day planner with your Skype date already scheduled in -- otherwise we will not see you in 2013

13. The next door neighbor's internet password --seriously if you could get that we may not spend as much money at Starbucks)

14. Starbucks Gift Certificates -- because if we don't already work there, then we live there trying to be cool/be an individual like everyone else/ Steal their internet

15. Make up -- I don't care what gender you are...H.D. Calls for it!

16. Alcohol -- I think this is self explanatory...we are talking about actors.

Well I hope this helps dealing with at least one tricky person on your Christmas list this year. And if all else fails just cook up some meals for them to take home and put in the freezer...at least that way you gave them something from the heart annnd you know they will have some food this month!






Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Worth Less or Worthless?

If I had to define an actor, and I am not trying to generalize, but I would have to define them as: a person who volunteers a lot. I was listening to a CBC program (Ontario Today) the other week, and the discussion revolved around grunt-work/internship/unpaid jobs that exist in many businesses. So,  it's not just actors who slave away for free! Many different career paths begin with an un-paying position. But my question remains-- when is it time for the individual, willingly working their buts off for free, to get paid? It's the transition period between gaining experience and being experienced that gets a little fuzzy.


The structure of the performance community is built in a way that does not allow an individual artist to gain experience that will lead to a paid gig. The beauty *cough trouble cough* with acting is that we either: A) take on these "learning opportunities" in hopes that we gain a valuable credit that will look great on a résumé and connect us with the right people. In turn, these "right people" will remember us for future union/paying-projects, and will call us so that we too can be a paying/union performer OR B) by doing these non-paying productions, we are scouted by the most amazing talent agent/casting director/manager who will sign us and help us achieve fame and fortune (or maybe just reoccurring work?). What happens when these two (most likely) options do not occur? Well...If you land a role in a non-union, non-paying production that's great, it's amazing and it will probably, most definitely lead to more non-union, non-paying productions. But, unlike other businesses, these "internships" that actors throw themselves at (not to sound desperate) often do not turn into a paying opportunity. So, as I previously mentioned, this volunteer/learning experience that the actor takes on, is not usually in hopes of getting paid...but rather in hopes of getting paid for a different role, with a different company in the future. Meaning, if I were to start out as an intern, let’s say in a commercial real estate office-- if this works as the acting world does-- it would actually only be a temporary internship that would hopefully lead to opportunities with other companies and not the one that I have put all my energy and effort into for the past three months. A little bizarre, wouldn’t you say?
 


The catch 22 of this business (and yes I have yet to read this novel, but I will!), is that in order to be union you need union experience, but in order to get union experience, you pretty much have to be union. (Yes I realize that this is not always the case, that there is a ratio that allows union productions to accept a certain percentage of non-union performers/ you can also just get cast and buy-in to the union), all I am saying is that this catch leads individuals to accept non-union, non-paying/volunteer roles. In consequence, this reoccuring acceptance of the non-union, non-paying roles allows many productions to hire actors on a volunteer basis (whether or not they have a high production budget) while leaving the rest of their money (or no money) to pay for other (more important?) things such as the venue, the crew, the set etc. Don't get me wrong without these things the production wouldn't go up-- but just something to think about-- rarely does a venue allow someone to use it for free, so why should we? As actors, as workers, as individuals aren't we worth more than that?


I am not saying that it is criminal to put up art for art’s sake. This is wonderful and it keeps are community growing and expanding and failing and succeeding. And while some of us can afford to be this kind of artist, there are some of us who love the art/business, but also want to make a career out of it. In a crazy way, we are killing our own artistic industry by trying to make art for free. It's like the kid who learns how to play three chords on his guitar, says he can play guitar and runs to the local bar asking if he could play for the sake of playing (aka for free) leaving the actual guitarists and musicians little opportunity to make money off of their craft and forcing them to follow suite and play for free. Yes, perhaps no one is forcing the musicians to do this, but that's like saying they don't have to be an artist...well you don't have to be a lawyer but we all have our callings.
 
 

Another good example of this is that during the 2012 Olympics there was a huge buzz about the fact that bands were asked to play at the Olympic ceremonies for free. It was considered a volunteer gig-- while the architects, the designers, the ushers etc would be paid. (In the end the bands did get paid). Why are the musicians worth less? And even if that was not the intention-- why is it then that the artists are considered last? As well (something that was mentioned during the Q program on CBC radio with Jian Ghomeshi earlier this year), benefit concerts rarely pay their artists to appear on/during their program—it is expected that they perform for free. While this is something that many of us will agree should happen— because in dire times our people need to pull together and do all we can for one another-- I believe this should be on the basis that everyone involved is doing this for free, not just the artist. I am also not saying that artists should never volunteer, either. But artists should be treated like any other respected professional, and it should be their choice to donate their time and art.
 
 




In the end...I am a hypocrite. I mean, I have signed on to countless productions where I am either acting in or choreographing for a non-paying position in order to build up my résumé for experience. Yet, each day as I check mandy.com, equity E drive, the face book exchange group, TAPA Blog or any other place I can think of, I get more and more irritated when every single (yes I am exaggerating) position is non-paying. I can understand the schools that are in need of actors for teaching purposes and have no budget. But what about the rest of the countless non-paying productions that hundreds of actors apply for everyday? Are there to many non-paying productions being produced? I don't think that all non-union, non-paying productions should stop because that would take away a lot of amazing work that has been produced (although it might help to stop a lot of the not-so-great stuff) but, let’s face it, even fringe (in an ideal world) is profit share. I just don't think enough projects are completely thought out and are doing the best they can for themselves and for those involved. If we all took a little more time to plan and to fundraise so that we could have a well-worked script and a budget that can support artists, perhaps we might find that the non-union work being produced is all around better because individuals have invested more into them. As an actor I would like to do art for art's sake...but I also need to live-- and so do you! I guess, all I want to tell you is...you are worth something, so demand more for yourself!



Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dribble




Sometimes I feel like I have an uncanny connection to certain individuals. For instance my father looks like John Lennon... and by looks like I mean he could be John Lennon's younger twin brother. Of course he used to play it up with the beard and the glasses (not so much anymore). Thus, because my father is pretty much John Lenon's long lost twin-- I am the long lost niece of John Lenon, and therefore am closer and regardless of what I actually know about Lenon, know more then you do about him. I once had a woman walk up to me and state "your dad looks like John Lenon...you look like your dad" so from this statement I can only conclude that I look like John Lenon.




There is something very weird about looking like someone else. There was a doppelganger month that took-over facebook where individuals were changing their profile pictures to someone who looked like them. Naturally, I had to join in on this fun so I posted a picture of this model from one of the seasons (because there are about 120 seasons) of America's Next Top Model. I got a bunch of comments asking if this was me...then I got some comment about her/my nipple. Somehow I missed that she was wearing a see-through shirt...if your doppelganger/life-twin chooses to reveal themselves in front of an audience-- they should have to clear it with you first. Otherwise they are just flaunting what you have.


Speaking of flaunting it, I once saw a guy with his pants down on the bus. Luckily his giant shirt was long enough to cover all his bits and pieces, but he had duct tape around his legs and smelled bad. Did I mention he was sitting on the bus...I would hate to be the person who sat on that seat after him.


When you have a seat on the TTC you have a golden ticket in life-- otherwise (during rush hour) the universe seems to be trying to match you up with someone by smooshing you against them. Have you ever noticed that the other person that you are smooshed against tends to be incredibly serious? As long as they are not breathing on me I am okay. If not, I carry with me a pack of gum so if they have stinky breath I toss a piece in their mouth. My favorite passengers are the people who think that they don't need to hold on to the rail but they actually do. I think this would be a good time for a ‘Yoga classes -- the first one is free!’ Advertisement: 'We'll teach you how to engage your core so you can actually surf the subway'. Of course, if someone isn't surfing into you, then you are being preached to by the woman sitting diagonally across from where you are standing. She is never speaking to someone in particular, but just the general mass of people. She felt compelled to speak and once she is done she gets up and leaves at the next stop...no one wants to sit where she was sitting for fear that they too might be compelled to speak about what they are thinking of…


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Excuses Excuses




It has come to my attention during the past year (or so) that, while acting is a "real Job", an "office job" feels a lot more like work (at least to me). When I say "office job" I mean high rise- financial core- blue -collar- shark tank- environment where the dress code is semi-formal-dress pants-dresses-high-heeled shoes...or pretty much anything  an actor cannot aford.While I sit at the office trying to do my work and 'accidently' being (constantly) caught on twitter...facebook...youtube...etc I cannot use my normal acting excuses. For instance:

I am thinking too much.

In an acting workshop/class/rehearsal this would most likely provide you with the opportunity to shake it out, take a moment, retrace your steps and try again to stop thinking and start doing. However, I have a weird feeling that this response is not going to get those supportive/understanding nods around the office, where everyone understands that I am too much 'in my head' (whatever that means) and understands that I am over analysing everything that I am doing and need to take a step back from my 'work' to get reconnected. I just don't think that is going to fly when my title at the office is 'research analyst' and it happens to be a job where I probably should be thinking more about what I am doing.

Another popular one:

I don't really feel connected to this material

This response probably wouldn't enlist a pause in production, only to dig to the root of why I'm not "feeling" the data entry that I am working on and how I can draw from my past to connect more to the stats in front of me.
or

I don't feel any motivation to do that.

Pretty sure if I used this one I would never get anything done seeing as how the data entry work is endless, and because my work is simply the preliminary work of the far greater workers--I pass my work on to other people-- and at the end of the day, I don't see the end result to what I have been working and therefore lack any motivation to do anything...



The rules of acting and the rules of "office work" just don't seem to co-exist...so what do I do? I act like an office worker (so I can still use my excuses!).











Monday, 15 October 2012

A Reflection: Persuasion




I am ashamed to say, that until recently, I didn't even know Austen wrote this novel-- and other than the fact that it was likely a romance, I had no idea what it was about.

I think this is one of the 'hidden treasures' that this list has given me. Without this challenge I probably would never have picked up this novel, only to find that it is now one of my favorite Austen novels. Maybe I am reading to far into it or simplifying it too much (if both can be done at once), but this novel is a wonderful twisted fairy tale. If you really break this novel down, you have your princess Anne, who is surrounded by two ugly step sisters (her sisters: Mary and Elizabeth) her nasty step parent (father: Sir Walter) her dead mother who can no longer guide her through her life, you have the lost love (Captain Frederick Wentworth)--the love met at the ball when the glass slipper was lost only in hopes to catch the golden carriage that was too-soon changing back into a pumpkin. There is the fairy god mother (Mrs. Russell) who persuades our princess away from her true love. We have a temptress (or an opportunity for a  lesbian lover (Mrs.Clay) because who really knows why her and Elizabeth are such good friends). We have a beast disguised as a potential lover in the guise of (Mr. Elliot) and a crippled friend (Mrs. Smith) who holds the knowledge and reveals the truth behind the beast. Yes, perhaps this is a complicated-simple break down, but I find this remarkably entertaining twisted fairy-tale that is an excellent story and should be more popular.

Up Next: The Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Reflection: The Secret Garden


I think I can say this is a story that many of us have grown up with or know something about. I remember watching this movie when I was a child, but I was shocked that I have never read this book before.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is very lovely, with its subtle lessons that it presses upon the reader and the delightful  naïvete  of the children.

Burnett portrays the characters incredibly well and really gives the novel an over all mood for the reader. I think the unpleasantness of Mary and Collin are what have the delightful effect on the reader. The two children are actually very annoying, yet Burnett keeps their naïvete which in turn allows them to change and develop into children that we actually want to read about.


This is a story to be passed down.



Up Next: Persusaion

Friday, 5 October 2012

A Reflection: War and Peace

“We are asleep until we fall in Love!”

I realize that I have not written in quite a while. There is a reason for this and it is that War and Peace is the longest book in the world* and has taken me forever to finish. BUT I am FINALLY Done!

War and Peace is often, acclaimed as one of the greatest books of all time. I am not going to argue with this-- as I think if you are to analyse books in a particular way and that you have a system of actually rating them-- this could very well be one of the greatest novels of all time. Similarly, if you base your love of books on the overall story, and you happen to like this one very much then I would say that would merit it being one of the greatest books of all time (for you). After reading this novel I will conclude that it was very well done on many fronts. ( I know I am being general here but come on I mean what can I say about Tolstoy that hasn't already been said?...making this wholre reflection redundant...).

In all honesty, I think one negative aspect of the novel is its length. This is probably one of the reasons that most people have not picked it up and actually read it, because the look of it itself is very daunting-- like a massive beast that sits up and takes the position of where three or four books should be on your shelf. I have to say that at first the length didn't daunt me because I had it on my e-reader. (Don't judge me, I know this is not how Tolstoy ever intended for this to be read-- but lets face it, when I can get one of the greats for free, with a decent translation and is a lot lighter carrying it on public transit, it does make the most sense). However, when I started reading it...and reading it...and reading it and then put it down and saw that I had only read 1% I slowly caught on that I was reading a beast.

As for the novel itself-- at first I had an overload of characters (many with the same or similar name) and had to keep looking up how they were all related and what each person's position was. Slowly this all gets straightened out in your mind. Amidst the lives of many individuals dwelling in the high society of Moscow and Petersburg, there is the war itself that Tolstoy expertly narrates. The novel was fast paced, and had a little bit of everything for everyone. What I found was that I would get so excited about certain characters that when it came time for the series of war chapters, I wasn't as "in" to the novel. This was just my experience with it, but when faced with that many characters you can't help but start to pick your favourites.

I found this novel even more interesting when I looked up a brief background of Tolstoy, who was very philosophical in his views and in his life time, and who looked and bargained with the same moral issues that many of the characters (Pierre in particular) negotiated through.

Overall, if you are not into 'The Napoleonic Wars' and the philosophy of how one creates and writes history, then this is probably not the book for you.


*It may not be the longes book, but it's pretty long
Up Next: The Secret Garden




Friday, 14 September 2012

Wedding-a-ling



I never knew weddings could be so emotional. I always see people get teary and cry during movies, but ultimately I didn't really understand why. I get teary over the drop of a hat...so I don't think I specifically count. But still, there is a moment in a wedding-- when you know the person getting married-- and you think that this is the event that is going to change their lives forever and ever and nothing will ever be the same after those two simple words-- that things become both beautiful, exciting, and emotional. And then there comes the buying of a new house and you think that this is the event that is going to change their lives forever and ever and nothing will ever be the same after you step in the front door for the firs time. And then there comes the baby and you think that this is the event that is going to change their lives forever and ever and nothing will ever be the same after that birth...okay actually this last one, I think wins because nothing is the same after you have the child.

I realized right before the wedding was about to take place that I was feeling exactly like I feel right before I go on stage. I was nervous (and yes I get nervous every time I get up on stage to perform...even for karaoke). I wasn't nervous about the actual event of the wedding...I was nervous that my heels were to high for walking on grass, and that I was either going to sink into the grass and not be able to move-- or that I was going to fall and twist my ankle and hobble down the aisle making a spectacle of myself, ruining everything. Lucky for me, neither of these events happened. Although I bet you would be a lot more interested if they did. 

But enough about me... this is the one day that isn't mine (ba ha ha.) The bride was beautiful-- the day was pretty much stress free, and the whole thing was incredibly stunning. And for those of you who are not sure if they should or should not get a Limo for arriving at the reception-- get one. While the bride and groom are off taking pictures...there is some champagne left to keep the rest of you occupied-- and a quick stop at the LCBO makes the time spent in the Limo very appealing-- and the walk into the reception much less nerve-racking then the initial walk down the aisle (despite the mimosa's had in the morning).





I wish we could freeze time. Rewind. Relive. Have the flowers, and sunshine and laughter last forever. I guess that is why photos and video's exist. But, alas, the special day seemed to fly by (as they always do). And what was once a day to be anticipated is now a day to look fondly back on. (Especially when there is video evidence of someone doing the splits on the dance floor-- I have no idea who that person could have been...what a crazy family!). All I have left to say is congrats to the now happily married couple-- and thank god no one fainted!





Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Reflection: The Hobbit




So, in all honesty, I don't know why I have never read this before. It's not that I don't like fantasy, although the style of it is often difficult for me to get through-- but this novel I found incredibly enjoyable and delightful to read. It was an adventure, to say the least, with the brilliancy of J.R.R. Tolkien to constantly reassure the reader (most likely designed for children) that everything was going to be all right. I think that is the thing I liked best: the narration. The narrator has a wonderful way of delighting the reader-- in the description s/he gives, the way it hardly ever repeats the stories already told, and the was s/he suggest of other stories that live in this world and are saved for "another time". However, the thing I like best about this novel is actually what I liked least about this novel-- because of the way this novel is narrated, I felt safe reading it...perhaps a little too safe? I never felt the danger of a character getting lost never to be found again of, heaven forbid, a character dying. I just knew that this was probably not going to happen. Yet, reminding myself that the intended audience is for kids, the safety is the brilliance.

While I found this book delightful, I don't feel the need to read it again, or get a ton more. I hope that The Lord of the Rings will change this opinion that I have (perhaps leading me to an unsafe zone?)-- I look forward to reading them!




Up Next: War & Peace (Although it may take me five years...)

Monday, 10 September 2012

A Reflection; Wuthering Heights


It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,' he answered. 'Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?

There is something to be said about the animalistic quality of Heathcliff. The gypsy boy who grew up with few people who loved him, is the one character who I found the most compelling in this novel. The way he holds Catherine as though he is mad/ has rabies and is foaming at the mouth (nearly) and bearing his teeth. In a very strange world-- this is what all women want (ba ha ha). A devoted man who can only be tamed by you? (very appealing)
I am not certain that I understand all of the messages Brontë is trying to convey. We never really see Heathcliff and Cathrine fall in love-- we just know that they are in love, and that it is clear that they are meant to be together. Yet, by denying this clear cut path to one another Catherine's choices, inevitably, cause for a very dark and unpleasent life style for many characters of the novel including: herself, her husband, her future child, Isabella, Hindley, Hareton, Heathcliff, Linton Heathcliff, and Nelly...so pretty much everyone in the family...

Also, there could be something hidden within the idea of genetic connection versus parented connection-- what I mean by this is, Cathy (the original Catherine's daughter) is genetically part of her mother (obviously), while Hareton is only parented by Heathcliff-- If the genetics were strong enough wouldn't the lust for one another have been present through young Cathy and young Linton-- or is there something to be said by the rabid way Hareton was raised.
I am unsure as to if I am even supposed to sort through these thoughts-- or if it is simply that the denial or submission to love is what shapes our lives, and I should be content with that. (I won't be...but I can move on to the next novel at least).

Next Up: The Hobbit

Friday, 7 September 2012

A Reflection: The Great Gatsby




The Roaring Twenties...what an era. I think if I had to choose another era to live in, this would be one of them-- but only if I was rich, and only before the Great Depression. I have to say that the beginning of F. Scott Fitzgerald 's novel The Great Gatsby captured the fast-paced, flapper-esque feel that I never thought possible. I found the writing to be similar to the Charleston step, the back and forth of the continual dialogue much like the back and forth of the leg swings in the dance numbers. As we slowly are introduced to Gatsby-- the party seems to slowly come to an end. This is done with such eloquence that you almost don't even see it happen, until you, as the reader, stop in order to reflect upon this character and realize that there is a great sadness to Gatsby that seems to creep in and take an underlying tone to the story. Do we ever truly know who Gatsby is...not particularly, but we feel for him-- for his love for Daisy and his intense drive to live purely for her. I must say that the clever writing and captivating story is one that I will not forget, even if I do have five million other books to read.

I look forward to the new Luhrmann movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. The look of the trailer seems...interesting. It has a Hunter S. Thompson feel to it-- which could be interesting, however seems to lack the traditional 20's swing momentum and music, so I am not sure if it will be exactly what I hope it to be. Nonetheless, I will go with an open mind and hope to be throughly entertained, as I do like these three actors very much and look forward to seeing this story come to life (I realize that there is an older version of this film, however I am going to wait to have an unbiased opinion on the Luhrmann one).



Up Next: Wuthering Heights

Thursday, 6 September 2012

My Canine Vinny


I have decided that every actor needs a dog. At first I decided to get a dog because while at school I had an overwhelming feeling that if I didn't get a dog my life will forever be incomplete because I do not have a furry companion who loves me unconditionally, and who I can dress the way I want-- but isn't a doll because he is living. But once I got the little guy, I realized that not only is this dog a great companion-- but he can teach me a lot about acting and booking auditions!


Things your dog will teach you, that will be having you book auditions in no time:

1. Selective Hearing. This technique is really great if you ever feel like you are going to get rejected at an audition. Just turn your back and prance around the room pretending that you didn't hear what they said.

2. Always get what you want. If you are in the audition room and they say thanks or dismiss you before you have a chance to truly show them what you wanted to show them-- just start make high pitch squawking noises, and if this doesn't work gently slap them on their legs while making these noises and eventually the auditioners will give in!

3. Do everything on the count of three. If you are feeling a little uncertain about doing something, just have the auditioners shout -one-two-three-go! then begin! (works every time).

video 
(yes my voice sounds dumb...)


4. Motivate yourself with a treat. Sometimes we don't always feel like performing, but even on these days it is possible. Just bring your favourite treat to your audition, and ask the auditioners to dangle it in front of you while you say your lines.

video
(yes my voice gets really high)

5. If the treat isn't enough motivation-- have the auditioners dangle it in front of you, ask "do you want it" and when you are saying.."not really" have them pull it away really fast and say "I wan'it!". Repeat this several times, and you will find yourself doing everything you can for that treat, and ultimately ace the audition!

video


6. Head tilt. If you really don't know what the auditioner is asking you to do-- or if you don't really want to perform in the way they are asking you. Just put a really focused look on your face and tilt you head every time they say something. The auditioners will think this is the most adorable thing they have ever seen!

7. Bite. If the auditioners are trying to show you something that you don't really want to do-- bite them. They will back away and give you the space you need to perform your best. You may, however, want to growl at them first so that you give them proper warning with what is to come.
 

8. And finally-- if the audition really didn't go your way-- get a hair cut and come back. Trust me they will have no idea that you are the same person, and you will get another shot!

Before





After

In essence, ever actor should have a dog.


Friday, 31 August 2012

A Reflection: Great Expectaions

We spent as much money as could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.


It would be rather foolish of me to actually review this novel, as it is Dickens' work. However, I will say that my feelings towards this novel changed a fair bit as I read it. At first I thought it was a definite joy to read this novel-- especially having just finished The Kite Runner. But as I read on, and on, and on...I found that Pip's life is not actually that joyful, and while I did enjoy Dickens' writing-- I think the book is longer then what the story is worth (keeping in mind that I am reading this novel in 2012). I do look forward to reading another of his novels though with hopes that it is a bit more up lifting and faster paced.
Stay Tuned for: The Great Gatsby

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bachelorette



It is clear to me that I need to make money while trying to support my acting career. So, I have decided to become a party planner. It's a pretty easy job-- and by the end of the night everyone will be throwing their arms around you telling you that you did a great job (even if you didn't; they are not sober enough to care). I will now give you and example of they types of party's I will throw, by explaining to you the bachelorette party I had the pleasure of planning.

First thing I will do is ask you for an extended list of people who should be coming to said party. (By the way, I only do parties for 25 ppl or less). The more people you have the more discounts you get!
I will then send out an invitation to all of these people who included an estimated cost that is way higher than what the actual cost will be so they will be pleasantly surprised with their final email. (It also helps if you have incredibly rich friends-- that way they can do incredibly expensive things without thinking twice).

Secondly we must wait for the RSVP's. This could take approximately 5 million years depending on who you have invited and how often they check their Facebook/email. I would suggest that you start gathering phone numbers otherwise you will get frustrated and start telling people that they are no longer invited and, consequently, start a family feud because most of your guests are family members.
Now we start actually planning. In all seriousness here is what we did.

We started the day off with a car accident so that things could only get better from there (ha ha ha). Although it is hard to drive a car when you have this sitting beside you ;)

This is the bride to be: Nikita in her sexy pink boa!

Once we arrived (safe and sound, don't worry the accident was minor) we then rode the subway to Queen Street where we ran around in two teams doing a scavenger hunt.
http://www.haleyproductions.com/

I basically tailored a pre-existing scavenger hunt that I bought from the link above-- I must say we had a blast running around Queen street asking people to take pictures of us :)

Next Stop FOOD!!!


http://dine.to/sites/everest#home


We ate at Everest Restaurant along Queen which basically has everything from Italian to Indian-- so if you have some picky eaters in your party (which you will) this is a pretty good variety!


What next hmmm...




Pretty much wanted some good laughs while we enjoyed some beverages ;)

Then onto VIP service at Bar 244

BUT WAIT! We had a surprise stop along the way, when we asked the fire men if we could come over to play ;)







Okay, now to Bar 244. Although with the lights off it doesn't really look like this>> I would, however, recommend to any of you going to a club-- that VIP service pretty much saves you. We had a safe zone to dance and hang with each other without being groped by strange boy/men. I say boy/men because the people here are about college students, and while yes, some males that age are men-- it seems as though when they get to a place like this they act like pigs thus reverting them back into boys.


Alright last, but not least, walking back to the hotel, only to wash our feet in the bath tub.

Some rules to remember on your grand adventures:
1. Pack anti-acid pills just incase dinner doesn't sit well.
 2. Leave extra early for the show, because even if they will let you in late, the show is only like an hour long and you don't want to miss any of it.
3. Toronto is dirty so pack flip-flops because walking home in bare feet is not ideal.
4. If the security guard tells you that you can take a picture of a NYPD cop car being used in the next episode of Nikita-- don't ask if you can get it in at the same time, only to open the door and have him yelling NO and then giving you the cold shoulder when you still want the picture.
5. If you do have two strange boy/men/pigs following you home-- don't start talking to them and then stop to get a hot dog, they will only follow you longer.

If you follow these rules you will be fine!
Now I know what you are all thinking-- how can I get Meghan to plan my party. Well...just inbox me! My fee is reasonable and your are guaranteed to have a good time ;) only one rule-- if I plan it, I'm coming too!!

(I am still reading Great Expectations. Don't judge me I had a party to plan and a wedding to help with okay! I am back on the reading track now).



Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My First Reflection: The Kite Runner


I have to admit to you that I cheated...Well, I didn't totally cheat-- I mean I read the book, but I had started reading it before I actually started the challenge. Techincally it's not cheating because there are other books that I have previously read that are on the list and that I have crossed off, it is just that I did not own up to this one. However, now I am and it is read and that is that.

A reminder to any of you who do choose to read this reflection-- these are only my opinions and I am not trying to push them upon you at all-- I am only trying to seep into your mind subconsciously so you feel exactly the same as I do about this novel, and therefore prove that my feelings are correct.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini left me with mixed feelings.  When I read a book I generally look at the story more than the writing itself (tsk tsk), but this is how I have always read and enjoyed books. I have to admit that I had a hard time getting through this novel. As much as the subject matter is hard to deal with-- that is not what turned me off necessarily. I have read my fair share of novels that take place in third world countries or novels that deal with incredibly difficult situations (take Lovely Bones, The Book of Negroes, or Prizoner of Tehran for example) and have ended up enjoying them immensely (not that I like disturbing and dark, I just mean that I can generally find the light in these types of novels...okay so what if I am dark and twisty (yay Grey's Anatomy references!)), but this one is a special case. The first third of the book takes place when the main character, Amir, is a child. The first third of the book is the part I had the most trouble with. I found very few redeeming qualities in the main character and had to actually put the book down and walk a way for a bit before I could read on.

Perhaps this is the reaction Hosseini was hoping for?-- but the only reason I picked this book back up was because of the incredible reviews it has received, so I was convinced that there must be something in this novel that I hadn't read yet. Maybe I am judging the character far to harshly-- maybe as harsh as the character himself, which is funny and I doubt this was the intention of Hosseini--I just don't think it would have withstood the scrutiny of the general public if so many people had to put the book down part way through. I am not sure what this says about me or about other readers-- but I am starting to realize what I actually look for and enjoy in a novel (a main character that I can identify with..something along those lines).

Upon picking up the novel again, I had given myself enough time to put these feeling aside and lucky for me, the very next chapter took me away from the events and disturbing choices that took place. The middle of the novel was enjoyable although I do feel like I was trapped in the limited characters that there are in this lengthy book, despite the fact that it is written in first person.  I say this because even though there are other characters, you don't seem to really know any of them-- I don't think that this was an accident. On the contrary, I think you are meant to feel as trapped and unreachable as the character himself feels.

However, just when you think Hosseini is going to let you feel safe again, it all goes to hell. For the record, I like bows, silver linings, and happy thoughts (just putting that out there), and while this book has definitely left me with the experience of being caught off guard as a reader, I can't say that it is my favorite feeling in the world. Although props to Hosseini for making me feel this way because I thought this reflection would be a lot shorter than it has turned out to be. Let me just say that for me, for my own personal enjoyment-- the sliver of hope that this novel has is not enough.

Read the book, judge for yourself.

In the meantime, I now have the Bible by my bed like a good Christian girl, and Great Expectations in my bag as I board the subway --I am off on some new adventures!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Challenge




Alright-- here we go. This is something I have wanted to do, and there is a good chance I will fail at it OR it will take me a really, really, really long time to complete BUT here is goes:

I am challenging myself to read and review (and not in an analytical sense, but just my overall reaction) the 100 books that the BBC released on their "books to read before you die"  in 2003. Now why is said actor doing said challenge. Well, I am of the firm belief that films are often based on 'bum bum bum bum' books! Weird, I know. I will be reading these in no particular order (pretty much because I don't want to start with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy). By allowing myself to have the freedom to pick out of the 100 books I won't feel like I am reading just to get them read but rather to enjoy the book. I have to say that one of my favorite things to do, is curl up in the afternoon with a tea and a book...now judging by the amount I am about to read, I need a lot of tea-- and I am seriously hoping that my teeth don't turn yellow because of this challenge!

I have completed 27 of these novels to date (August 14th, 2012), (which the BBC says is 20 more than the average reader will read-- but I am no average person and therefore cannot be deemed an average reader). Also, I am not going to change the list, but having both Hamlet and the complete works of William Shakespeare on the same reading list is redundant (just to point that out). I will not be reviewing the ones that I have previously read. I cannot promise that my reviews will be good as I am not going to pretend to be a literary expert, and I cannot promise that this challenge will be done in a timely fashion, as I have lots of things to do in my life, and reading is often left to do on public transit. The titles that are crossed off are the ones I have already read (duh), and I will readjust as I go on throughout this challenge.

I don't want you to think that I think that this is the best list I have ever found-- it is simply a list that I have found and that I am using. I realize that there are some amazing titles missing from this list but for now I am going to start here-- If you think that there is a novel (or a few novels) missing from this list and you can't bear the thought that it is not included-- by all means comment and I will see what I can do to tack it on (but no promises cause there are already 100 titles here). If you would like to join me on my adventure by all means!



The List 

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (March20'13)
        - The Fellowship of the Ring
        - The Two Towers
        - The Return of the King
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (April14'13)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte(Sept8'12)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (Aug31'12)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (Aug8'13)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (Feb'14)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (Sept12'12)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (July28'13)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (May15'14)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (Sept2'12)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (Oct4'12)
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (Jan28'13)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (Jan'14)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (Oct9'13)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
        - The Magicians Nephew(Oct28'12)
        - The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
        - The Horse and his boy
        - Prince Caspian
        - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
        - The Silver Chair
        - The Last Battle
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen(Oct11'12)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Aug14'12)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres (Nov17'14)
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (Dec14'12)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (May13'15)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (2015)
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth (2015)
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zifon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (Mar6'13)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Dec'14)
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Aug1'13)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (Apr24'15)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (2016)
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding(Dec7'13)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (May27'15)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (Oct8'12)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (Dec17'12)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (2015)
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (Jan22'13)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry (2015)
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle(May'13)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (2016)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factoy - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo(Oct'15)

Total: 68

So if you feel the need to support me or if you are looking for a way to join the challenge without actually reading you do have a few options. First of all, you can always just leave a comment...or if you want to be more involved then that you can drop me off a can/tin/bag of tea anonymously outside the door to my apartment-- where I can think that someone is being extra sweet to me and I probably will boast to many people that I have a secret admirer. But make sure you go to David's Tea and ask which ones are good for your teeth (they have that now), and purchase those kinds because I do not want to end up with severely stained teeth and no dental insurance..... Or if you are looking for a gift idea simply because you love me-- there are a lot of books that I am going to need and some of which I do not yet own hint hint.

I will begin with The Kite Runner (because I have already purchased it and it is waiting for me on my Kobo now;) )

This is what my room is going to look like

Monday, 13 August 2012

In the spirit of the Olympics


Well, the olympics are over for another two years. And while we didn't have the excitement of the gold medal hockey win of 2010, the women's soccer team provided us with some good entertainment-- which in my opinion is what the olympic are all about. I mean, if there were no viewers,spectators...dare I say audience--  the olympics, or any sport for that matter, wouldn't amount to very much. Perhaps sports are more of a show then we allow ourselves to think.
They say (you can figure out who "they" are) that sex, money and power are the three key ingredients for a great acting scene...apparently. So I am always so amazed when actors are asked if they were ever involved with sports throughout school, and their immediate response is"uhh no! Do I look like the kind of person who would be into sports?" (or something along those lines). I am generalizing-- not all actors avoided athletics like it was the plague. I myself, took great joy in competing on the wrestling team, cross country team, track and field team etc. But I am going to share a little secret with you: athletes are like actors . Let me break it down for you.


Sex.












Okay so I realize that these are all of wrestling so:



I think this sums it up rather nicely.

Money

Now lets face it, I think we all know where the money comes to play: there's the sponsors, the  wages, the ticket prices, and of course the gambling (just to name a few).
Power

This is where the emotions play their part. The strong versus the weak, the winner versus the loser, the athlete who reaches the objective and the athlete who fails.


Who succumbs to their emotions? Who is the strongest?

In all honesty though, like the actor, the athlete must live in the present. Any attack, any move made on them or their team-- they must make a counter move/react. Their goal is simple, to score--to win; There are many obstacles: the other team, the injuries, the scores made on them etc; and the stakes are huge-- you must make your fans proud otherwise you bring great shame.  So for all of those who think they are not like an athlete-- I beg to differ. I am not saying that we should all go out and take up a sport-- I am just saying that some of us should. If we are basically doing the same thing except one of the options forces us to be in better shape, pays way more (if you make it professionally), and has more men than women so being a women in the industry is actually a rare and special thing... All I am saying, fellow actors, is that we are not as unique as we think-- and incase the acting thing fails, there is another option that we would easily fit into. I mean hey, even if we are not actually athletic-- we can always just act like we are ;)



 This Video is actually funnier when you are trying to tell someone about it while using a Jamaican accent.