22 October 2010

Day Off Video: Jumpin'

I'm recovering from being sick, so I cannot jump for joy as much as I would like. I'll let these kids do it for me:

One of my all-time fav make-happy videos.

Autumn Rocks

So, it's been a bizarre couple of days, so I'm not going to do any kind of intellectual, discussion-provoking post. Instead, I'm going to cheer myself (and hopefully you all) up by trying to share my love for all things Sep-Nov in 6 succinct (maybe not) points.

1) The colours! I know, I know: summer is all green grass and blue sky (if you live in California...) with ice cream and beaches and awesome sea water to swim in. But autumn is gold, green, brown, orange and gold in nature. In fashion, it's deeper, more intense colours: jewelled purples, blues, greens and reds. In an even more shallow point, I feel my hair (currently red) goes well with everything AND I can wear my awesome hat that Libby made me. Amazing.

2)Hot chocolate. Lots of it. I can drink it all the time and not feel bad because you're allowed to have extra flesh on you over the colder months; it's expected, almost!

3) SOUP SOUP SOUP. Different flavours, different textures, different varieties. All warming, comforting and go especially well with crusty, wholemeal bread. You can eat in the park with gloves on and hats and be warmed. I suppose you could say the same with tea, but I am not a tea fan so I'm not going to. (Yes, I know: what kinda English girl am I? A failing one, I tell you)

4)Bonfire Night. I'm not sure how much anyone else would know about this, or indeed, appreciate this: we are an odd nation celebrating someone attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament, destroying the monarchy. Damn Catholics. (no offense intended) But there is something special in everyone, for once, celebrating their national heritage by crowding round bonfires, watching fireworks and playing with sparklers whilst eating jacket potatoes in foil, and sausages and generally food that isn't good for you.

5)Halloween! I LOVE it, from the costumes and festivities of celebrating evil (lol, bad Christian) to its pagan roots; it's historical in so many ways. And also, begging at your neighbours' doors for sweets is acceptable for this night? There are not enough words to describe how amazing that is. (And 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'! I wish the Peanuts phenomenon was bigger here)

6) ...I can't think of another one. In a selfish way, I feel safer in the autumn and less exposed. I have a variety of issues with summer and self image etc etc; it's less exposure, less crazy, less pressure etc. It being darker at night, I can watch Poirot and Miss Marple (murder mysteries FTW!) and ~feel~ the atmosphere. TV programmes are generally better, and my life is happier. Other people, I know, find it harder in the winter and autumn, but hopefully some of these are relevant to your lives!

21 October 2010

Thoughts. I have them.

But depression, I also have. (Private to the sad little worm in the brain: Hello, old frenemy. It hasn't been a long time, and I haven't missed you a bit. Please fuck off as soon as possible.)
My point is that today, organizing my thoughts into anything resembling coherence, let alone paragraphs worth reading, seems like a task on par with...coming up with an original simile for a very difficult task. I really want to go back to bed. Instead, I'm going to go do a yoga marathon and see what happens next in my head, my body, and my heart. No promises.

20 October 2010

The pressure to perform

I'm sick. So my brain isn't so much "blog-posty" as it is "mghslplojuhs-y"

But I wanted to make a post that wasn't a linky-link or a video (I've done that twice already, and it hasn't yet been a month)

And the reason I don't want to just post ANYthing is that I do take this blogging bit seriously, and with that seriousness comes my own standards for myself.

If I just wanted to say one funny sentence well, I have facebook for that. If I wanted to ramble about shit no one cared about, I'd post to my livejournal. If I wanted to hardcore whine about being sick (in a non-coherent fashion) I'd call someone I knew.

But this is a blog I committed to, and I want each post to be complete and good and perfect and wonderful and cause people to weep with passionate... something-er-other. You get the idea.

It occurs to me that there are a lot of things like this in my life. School was a huge one. I disliked homework for many MANY reasons, one small one was that it HAD TO BE GOOD. I mentally winced every time I thought of a teacher reading a paper of mine and thinking it wasn't very good. It made me feel really sickly bad when I got a D on an assignment (which happened ONCE, thankyouverymuch)

Then there's writing in general. I don't. Well, I should, and I want to, and I have lots of ideas - but I don't. And I'm not sure about why - fear of success? With Twilight such a hit, it's more possible than ever that I could make it big, right? Is it just that I'm tired all the time and when I have days off I like hanging out with people? eh, partly.

But a huge part is knowing I'm going to have to go through all that BAD writing. And not only will I have to write it, I'm going to have to READ it too. Gosh, I'll have to wince so hard at all that bad writing.

And so I don't write.

But I have this blog. This blog I committed to. This blog I really want to succeed. And I don't write, so obviously I don't have perfect wonderful gorgeous prose all prepped for it... and with this post, this on-the-fly non-prepped post - I stop that cycle.

This is not a perfect post. I enjoy it, because it's a bit meta (writing about how one does not write) but it's not the neat-o post I have started up in my head. And that's ok. Something is better than nothing, it's on time, and it's even sort of relatively cohesive.

I think, tonight, I will be ok with this post.

Network Analysis

First of all I have to apologise for updating a day late. Extreme circumstances: I was in Wales. Anti-welsh jokes aside, I had a posting mapped out, then got to Cardiff late on Monday night only to discover the next morning that I had no internet access whatsoever, and due to work and random events that will be detailed later, I have only been able to sit down at my internet-accessing laptop at this ridiculous hour. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!

The blog posting I had planned out was a discussion on the prospect of the spending review being announced the next day, and what the conservative/liberal coalition government might mean for my generation of Brits. Only 24 hours later, it doesn’t make any sense due to the budget being announced, and it being quite different to what was expected. So expect reworked political musings next week (on time, no excuses).

Instead, for reasons that will become clear: networking. In principal, I hate networking. As a young person setting out in the world of Theatre, it is an ever present concept that simply makes me shudder. I hate the idea of approaching and using people as ‘contacts’, as someone who can be utilised or even trod on to get yourself ahead in your career. To me, it smacks of a falseness that makes my skin crawl. Now, I know I’m na├»ve, and idealistic. I’m fully aware that networking does not make you a bad person, and it’s a necessary part of every career path regardless of the industry you choose. I guess it’s just that I would infinitely prefer being hired for a job because of talent or experience or even just ‘good egg-ness’ rather than because I knew the right person. I would also rather hire someone myself based on worth instead of contacts. In bleak moments I have actually cried at the prospect of having to treat ‘friends’ as contacts, viewing myself as a nice person who is NOT out to network. I would shout this from the rooftops!

Yet, looking back over the last six months, and particularly today I can see that I could consider myself a complete hypocrite. For example, my final project for my masters I needed a cast of 16, 13 of which needed to be guys. Male actors in a university drama department are like gold dust, yet I held 1 audition for only two roles. The rest I could fill with actors I had worked with previously – most of them multiple times – or frankly friends who could act. I also contacted people I had seen act in various things, and never had the opportunity to work with before then. I cast people I knew in roles I knew would work well for them and for me. Networking much?

Since moving home, in an attempt to earn some money and keep busy while I look for something other than part time work, I have set up a drama group for children which is due to have its first session next week. The woman I’m running it with I met at a training day, completely unrelated to drama – we got chatting, and on hearing that she was interested in doing something like that (just generally) I seized the opportunity and told her I was looking for a partner. Even in a completely random, non-theatre situation it seems this ‘non-networker’ had an ‘ooh, contact!’ moment. Later, I had mini crisis of conscience when the church hall we’re hiring for the workshops offered us a months free rent, because I had grown up as a church member, and still know a large part of the congregation. Should I feel bad that I’m ‘using’ my faith to gain an advantage for my new business, or view it as the Church simply wanting to support a venture that could raise their profile? Jury’s still out on that one.

Finally, however, today has perhaps changed my view on the whole thing. As I said above, I hate, hate, hate feeling like I’m using friends as contacts – especially as I have many incredibly talented, creative, pro-active friends who I know will go very far in whatever they choose to do. I love to promote whatever people I know are doing, and will always try to attend performances etc – and have always jokingly said that as soon as I get any kind of directing break I have a list of people I will hire on the spot.

I woke up this morning, in Cardiff (visiting a very good friend, and my little brother) to find a couple of missed calls from another friend – someone who’s definitely on my ‘to hire’ list, being not only a very good friend but also one of the most talented and hard working people I’ve ever met. It was slightly odd as he doesn’t normally call, and certainly not repeatedly, unless it’s urgent, however running late and having to drive 2 hours back home to work this afternoon, I didn’t manage to call him back until midday. When I did, he told me that the theatre company he’d worked for last year were urgently looking for female actors in my area for their theatre-in-education tour, and he’d recommended me, and that I should call them. I did, was given an audition this evening (straight after work), at which the manager told me that my friend had told him to hire me on the spot. Which, once I’d auditioned and they’d finished for the evening, they did. So I’m starting rehearsals tomorrow morning for a full time, well paid job in one of the areas I want to work in – almost entirely down to someone I would certainly consider a friend, not a ‘contact’.

It’s interesting how the world works. Maybe I should just stop worrying, and just concentrate on keeping in touch with the people I really value – whether that’s because I think they could be good to work with in the future, or because I care about them immensely – or both. My dad’s always said “it’s who you know, not what you know that really matters” and he wasn’t just talking about work. I think he might be right.

18 October 2010

Bonus Post: A Link About Privilege

What, it's still Monday. I can post if I want.

And I want, because I just read this absolutely awesome blog post over at Whatever. (I used to read that blog daily, and then I stopped for awhile, and then one of my friends posted a link to this on Facebook, and now I'll probably start up again.)

This is what people need to remember about privilege.

Read This Not That: YA Novels About Young Women with Disturbingly Excellent Survival Skills

Read THIS:


Both books feature interesting, survival-minded young heroines (with names that are a variation of Kat) who could probably kill you in under a minute if they wanted to. Both young women are put in a position of fighting others against their will, both are deadly with bow and arrow, both get crushes on pretty boys who are also talented fighters, and both end up sparking local rebellions when they get grumpy about having to fight people against their will. Both books also have crack in their pages so you won’t be able to stop reading them once you start.

In Graceling, however, Katsa spends her time honestly confused and conflicted about her role, and actively tries to forge her own place in her world, given her abilities and limitations. Even before the book begins, she’s standing up for her own ideas and making a difference. When Katsa is conflicted, the writing is clear and she remains sympathetic. She doesn’t take out her feelings on others, but does her best to take responsibility for herself.

By contrast, Katniss, the main character of The Hunger Games, is pushed into things against her will, and doesn’t have any goals besides staying alive. All her rebellious actions seem to be by accident, she actively tries to go back to her normal life as quickly and easily as possible, and she isn’t above treating other people badly if it means getting her way. She doesn’t seem to have many principles besides the protection of herself and her family, and while her situations are sympathetic, her character isn’t someone you’d want as a friend. 

When Katniss is mad about something, she complains. When Katsa is mad, she actively tries to fix the problem. Both young women are torn about their potential love interests, but Katsa remains honest with herself and the boy in question, even through her confusion. Katniss is a manipulator, and stays self-centered throughout, growing and changing very little.

The Hunger Games isn’t wholly without merit – its world is darker, and its heroine is sometimes realistically confused about adolescent issues. But Katniss doesn’t have the intelligence and drive that make Katsa so memorable.

17 October 2010

Day Off Video! - Hedgehog's got a new flatscreen!

It's my day off, and that makes me a happy fish! A very happy fish indeed.

So Ive decided that I'm going to share a happy-making video!

Here's one that I was like "that voice pitch is really annoying" and then I kept hitting re-play.


Late post is late.

So. I was reading a random, generic, happy-ever-after book. It was OK, certainly the author is good at what she does, and overall I was pretty happy about having read it. It certainly didn't feel like I was wasting my time.
However, certain aspects displeased me immensely. Disclaimer: I'm a white, straight, cis-gendered woman. So, I am privileged in many ways and am still learning in many ways about politics and levels of privilege. This may very well come across as an ignorant post and if it does, I apologise because I mean no harm.
Anyway, onwards. There is a character in the book called Bella. Who is clearly a transwoman, but for most of the time she is referred to as 'he', and we know her primarily as him because she appears mostly in pre-op mode. I admit, I yelled in my head to the author to call her 'her', rather than 'him', until the end when she appears as a woman and is referred to as such. So, possibly got on my high horse. But throughout the book, language such as 'poof' and 'queer' was used; harmful language, the kind of language that can scar a kid. And, okay, that is realistic. It's used all the time. But I would have liked to have seen the characters pulled up on this implicit homophobia in some sense-for Bella herself to challenge these characters in their viewpoint. Instead, she is a caricature; catty, bitchy gay man pre-op who is possessive over his best mate and unnecessarily shitty to everyone else.
And if this bothers me, generic white-straight gal, I can only imagine what it must do to gay men and women reading this. Maybe I'm overreacting, but it annoyed me. So, a question. Can anyone recommend any books who deal with gender-identity, or sexual-identity, problems in a sympathetic, readable manner? I need to expand my reading material, and would like to start here, I think.