Thank you, Richard Linklater

So, as I’m contemplating a move back to Austin, I decided to watch “Slacker.” Now, I saw “Slacker” at Dobie Mall when it came out. And I more or less liked it at the time. Part of the reason I wasn’t crazy about it was that I wondered why I wasn’t in it. I mean after all, I was in the THEATRE DEPARTMENT. All these people in this moving behaving so naturally were clearly NOT actors. I mean, what are their objectives? Have they had any speech training? I have created a memory that there was a posting about auditioning for “Slacker” on a bulletin board and that I opted not to go to the casting because I was too busy making a corset or playing a maid in “All’s Well That Ends Well” in a classroom. In truth, I don’t know that there was a posting about it, but there is one girl I knew who appeared toward the end of the movie and I was SHOCKED as to what she was doing in this film when I was certain she should have been memorizing a sonnet or something. I also remember thinking, “okay right. But when is something going to HAPPEN?”
But THIS time, I have fallen in love with this movie. I think it is so far ahead of its time. I do a lot of improvisation and this movie is one of the best imrov shows I have never seen. One of the things I really enjoy about improv is the freedom we have to follow whichever character we find interesting and not feel the need to resolve anything. I have no idea if the film was improvised in any way, but it seems that way at times and to me, that’s good writing. And then there are things that I just plain LIKE about it: there’s a character who rambles on about what we have come to know now as Global Warming. His comments appear in a monologue about colonizing Mars (among other things), but they ring true in a way that Mr. Linklater could not have imagined. Unless maybe he is Al Gore. (A “Ron Paul for President” truck appears at about an hour in and my brother Tommy (who lives in Austin) is a supporter of him NOW.) I also appreciate that not a single person in the movie has a ridiculous accent. Too often now people from Texas are portrayed as idiots who drawl on about cattle and “little ladies.” But these Texans talk about the Kennedy assassination and Charles Whitman (two subjects that are profound parts of the rich history of Texas.) And, holy moly, the women in it are so natural. It’s shocking to watch with 2009 eyes and see how beautiful these girls are without all their fake boobs, hair extensions and botox. They look like aliens. It makes me sad to say that. Watching this movie is like looking at a moving (in both senses) photo album for me, because this is the exact time that I was in college at UT. Much of the area around the campus has changed, so it was like going back in time to see things like Les Amis, Quackenbushes, The Castilian, and oh my god, the Bagel Manufactory (where my friend Delicia worked) as I remembered them. I walked on those same streets near the Drag past The Varsity Theatre and The Bazaar as I went to my rehearsals and classes or my apartment in West Campus. Mr. Linklater gave me a gift that I didn’t even realize that I wanted. What a revelation. Thank you, sir.


actor things

I’m in an acting class that I absolutely love. It may be my favorite acting class ever. That’s a tall compliment, but it’s definitely my favorite acting class that I’ve taken on a Wednesday night. It’s through Mara Casey and she has assembled a wonderful group of actors that support each other in a way I’ve not seen before. It feels more like a collective than a class.
Today I auditioned for an animated pilot. I can’t remember the name of it, but one of the characters I read for was named “Crack Whore.” No, really. The other character was an obese, lonely woman named Bertha. I really like doing Voiceover. Wait, let me correct myself, I really like auditioning for voiceover. I almost never book it. Whenever I hear that my agency has “cleaned house” I think, “what? did they not get to the W’s?” Anyway, I would love to do more voiceover and I have found myself becoming bolder in my choices the less I book. Interesting.
I also auditioned today for a Sprint ad. It was fine. The nicest thing about it, aside from the great casting office (Francene Selkirk- Bobby ran the session) was that I got to visit in the waiting room with a couple of people I know. That’s what is lovely about being an actor out here: running into your co-workers at auditions and being able to compare stories and catch up.
I have a part-time day job now. Last year with the Writer’s Strike really hurt me (and the rest of the city, let’s be honest) and so this year I had to have SOME kind of consistent income. Once I got over the crushing depression of having to get a job (I had really been resting on my “I support myself as an actress” laurels for a while) it’s really been good for me. It gives me structure and I really like the guy I work for. He is someone that I have known for years (we worked together at my last day job about 6 years ago, The Canon Theatre) and he’s really saved me by giving me work.
Let’s see, what else? No live-action pilot auditions yet. We’ll see. I generally get called in for the “Second Wave” when they haven’t found what they are looking for. Or maybe it’s the “Third Wave”?
I got my session fee for Casino Arizona (a delightful regional commercial I shot about a month ago.) Here’s hoping it runs a lot!!! (I’m toasting you, Casino Arizona)

Heaven, I’m in Heaven

Have you ever loved something so much that you almost can’t stand it? Like you babble non-sensically? Sometimes when I’m squeezing my cats, I’ll think, “I love you, cat! So much! Love me back!” and then that cat will look up at me with indifferent eyes and emit a weird exasperated exhale and then I’ll put the cat down. The cat will look back at me momentarily hoping I have learned my lesson. But have I? No, I most certainly have not! I LOVE THOSE CATS! And sometimes I can’t stand it!
Well, this leads me to this: I am currently in a French class that I love so much it makes me want to scream. While I’m sitting in my desk and, truthfully, right this very second. It’s a conversation class. Now, I have taken conversation classes before but this one takes the cake. First of all, it’s 3-nights/week for 5 weeks. To some of you that may sound hellish, but to me, it’s heaven. And secondly, the focus of this class is French Cinema. And the first movie we are watching/analyzing is AMELIE. AMELIE! For those of you in the know, you recognize that I am the most likely candidate to be “Amelie of North Hollywood.” I love to do nice things for people. For instance, I randomly put change in people’s parking meters when they are running out. Well, I don’t do that now because the city has changed the price of parking and a quarter don’t do too much AND you have to use a credit card. But you get the point.
Anyway, in my last conversation class we had to talk about things like the “environment” and “gardening.” My teacher had a hard time getting anyone to say anything passionate about either subject. But a film? Boy, he can’t STOP us from chattering on and on. Not that it’s coherent. Last night, I was very excited about talking about Amelie and her adventures and I said something like, “That men, fat grocer man, he is was talk arrogant to the man to the side of him, smaller more silenter man. Then that men with lonely hair find in phone cabin a box of memory things that are emotional to the people of Amelie and himself. And Amelie she is nice.” Ta-Dah! I’m speaking fluent French! And all because of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. And LA Valley College. And my cats.

Am I making any sense?



Originally uploaded by bellaprincipessa05.

I have spent the better part of the day on the couch drinking wine and watching “Sex & the City” reruns. It’s been a practically perfect day. Anyway, I know some people have problems with the show for various reasons, but in my opinion, ultimately it’s about friendship (male and female). And the power of those friendships. But in the TV show, those ladies can say really tough things to each other and it takes less than 22 minutes to get over it. In reality, that ain’t necessarily so. It’s been a pretty surprising/dismaying year for me in regards to a few of my friendships and so I put on my best pair of men’s underwear, a mismatched pair of heels, a tank top with nipple potential and as I sat on my bed I just had to wonder:
What is it about some friend ships that make them sail into the sunset? (read that sentence one word at a time as if it is scrolling across the screen for full effect.)

Recently, I had a friendship go south. Like REALLY far south. At this point, that friendship is in another season where the toilets flush the other direction. Possibly it is at the tip of South America if not all the way down in Antarctica. I was blind sided and have no idea if it will ever come back to this hemisphere. But while I’ve been in mourning, two OTHER friendships that I had thought were lost came back to me. Like boomerangs I had forgotten I had thrown out, these folks resurfaced and blind sided me- in a good way. In both cases, those people (a guy and a girl) had justifiably asked me to leave them alone, and I did, and then out of the blue they each contacted me and wanted to see me. In both cases, I said yes. Both initial meetings were bittersweet. The first at an IHOP and the second at a Starbucks. The chemistry and affection were still there, although tempered with caution. There were subjects we did not discuss: love life in one case, work life in another. In neither case did we even touch on the history of why things went off the map. I have seen each one of them a second time, and it was easier. It doesn’t feel so much like a “rekindling” as a completely new thing. Albeit with a bit of shared history. But as I thought about these two submarine friendships and the mystery of their resurfacing, something occurred to me: when I was most “in” with both of these people, I felt an obsession to consume them. As if they were each an exotic food that I love but don’t normally have around. Like eclairs or creme brulée. Or pepperoni pizza. And I just couldn’t get enough. (Bear with me as I continue this food metaphor….) That lead me to think about the people in my life who are more like staples: Shannon, Karen, Mike, Martin, Jo Anne, Paul, Brooke, Sara, Kip, Henry, Steven, Holly, Jen, Dave, Charlene, Matt, Marypat and Tripp. These folks are my coffees, milks, butters, breads, cheeses, wines, ice-creams, and yes, vegetables. I never get tired of them, and I don’t ever fear about getting enough. My relationship to all of them is calmer. I’m hoping that my “new” friendships with my “old” friends will become staples, too. I need some pasta and peanut butter in my cupboards. And as for the friendship in the big freezer in the basement? I don’t know. I mean, what would Miranda do?


Tomorrow is a high school reunion for me. I won’t say which one. And by which one, I mean which year. I can tell you which high school: Arlington High in Arlington, Texas. My parents don’t live there any more so I don’t ever have occasion to go back. I’m renting a car so that I can drive around and hit all my old haunts. Wait, I don’t have any old haunts. Oh well, I’ll just drive around. I bet the whole place is smaller than I remember. Aren’t they always? So weird. I feel so weird.

Small Thoughts on a Big Day

Last night I hung out with Karen and she put the screws to me about writing more often (love you, lady!) Anyway, it’s kind of a strange time here in ye olde Hollywood. I think the climate of anxiety regarding the Presidential election is echoed in the climate of the business. SAG has a big election for a new board and the ballots are due on Monday. I don’t know that a new board will be much better, but at this point, I really feel that something has GOT to change. Everyone is nervous and I have felt this way for about a year- prior to the “possible” Writer’s Strike which turned into “probable” and then “oh crap, existing.” Anyway, I think that once the election (Presidential and SAG) is over- no matter who wins- things will be better. It’s hard for me to live in limbo and that’s what it seems like I’m in. I think that’s what everyone is in. Last night I dreamed that I moved back to Chicago. It’s funny because I’ve been doing some real research about moving to London, so to dream about moving to Chicago seems appropriate. I lived there right after college for 3 years and they were the 3 most formative years of my life. I had so many firsts while I lived there, in fact, almost everything was a first: first time I lived alone, first cat, first boyfriend, first (and only, frankly) time getting fired, first REAL winter, first auditions outside of school…..everything was New and Challenging and Rewarding and Possible. Last night Karen and I were talking about how things seem “the same” here. Nothing seems to be new. And maybe that’s why I want the challenge of being in a new city. I want to be New and Challenging and Rewarding and Possible. Today I have a callback for a commercial that shoots in New York. I want to get it. Although it might not be my definition of New, Challenging or Rewarding, it’s definitely Possible. Or better yet, Probable. And maybe that’s the Challenge- making this lovely life that I have now New and Rewarding. I happen to be a big fan of seconds. Mmmmm, delicious.

Barbi Benton’s Breasts

My life seems to be rewinding. It’s been happening very slowly the past few months. I want the simplest life I can have- I’m tired of multitasking. Sort of like the life I had in 4th grade- before crushes & heartache, bills & rent, and marriages & babies. I feel that in the smallest way when I ride my bike around. Unencumbered and full of possibilities. I gave away my microwave. I got out a rotary phone and have been using it. There’s a patience you have to have to use one. It’s a patience I haven’t had for a LONG TIME. I also got rid of my Caller ID and my Call Waiting. If the line is busy, people, call back. And just this week, I bought an answering machine. I have had voicemail through the phone company for many years, but few people call me at home anymore and so it seems like a true waste of $12 a month. In this economy (the pilot did not get picked up – I’ve cried about it, but that’s the BIZ, you guys [sigh]) an actor can use that however-much-that-comes-out-to-yearly…..Math is not my thing. You might say, Irene, get rid of your landline completely, lady. But I don’t want to go “off the grid” as I’ve heard people say. That’s an annoying phrase to me and I want to stay “on the grid,” but I just want to do it like it’s 1980. Don’t get me wrong, I have a Blackberry and a Prius so I am definitely in 2008, but that’s OUTSIDE my apartment. Inside I want to watch “Fantasy Island,” eat C-3PO Cereal straight from the box, and drink lemonade from a wine glass. Be kind (of nice). (to) Rewind. Right?