This Website Endorses Hilary Clinton For President

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It’s alright that I took this picture straight off the NY Times endorsement…right?

Yesterday, the New York Times published an editorial endorsing Hilary Clinton for President.   Today, SearchforSanity.com endorses her as well.  Media, take note! This blog support Hilary Clinton for president for the following reasons:

1) She understands political realities.   Hilary understands the game.  She works within the system.  Her number one goal is to get shit done.  Yes, she has changed her mind about healthcare from when she was a doe-eyed wife of a presidential candidate in 1992.    In 1992 I believed in my Top Gun bomber jacket and a life dedicated to Art.  But things came up that made me question my Ayn Rand type of thinking, things like, rent and heath insurance.   Reality.  Hilary knows a thing or two about reality.  Presidential husbands lie, politicians turn their backs and haters hate…she can work with that now. Especially having weathered more shit storms than a public restroom. Sorry, for the gross analogy, but the Hilary in my head would say it’s true.

2) She forgave her cheating husband and moved on.   If we discredited all women who stayed with their philandering partners the list would include Frida Kahlo,  Simone De Beavoir, and Eleanor Roosevelt, just to name a few that we know about.  Brilliant males do horrible things.   Sometimes their brilliant wives want to keep their husbands’ brain around, but you can’t separate the cerebral cortex from a penis: you have to live with the whole human.    Bill’s escapades were just a hiccup in the wheel of Hilary’s life’s work.  She faced public humiliation and came out more committed than ever to her goals and life’s purpose.  More importantly, she understands that men and what they do should not be at the center of a woman’s life.   How many people get over betrayal like that and go on to a higher state of bad-assness?

3)  Bernie is great, but Hilary is Badass.   I’d love to have Bernie Sanders sitting next to me at Thanksgiving.  I’d even feel OK letting him give me a hug. But we’re talking about leader of the free world.    Hilary Clinton is a searing comet, the mountain around which the wind blows.  Bernie is a solid Pine tree on top of the mountain.  Maybe my metaphors are falling apart, but the point is that women, forces of nature, create weather.

4) She inspires me.  I am a fairly non-political person.  I think the system is rigged and all politicians have howling winds where their souls should be (more nature metaphors).   And, yet, in 2008 I did unusual-for-me activities, like drive to Hilary Clinton’s campaign office and call strangers and ask them to vote for her.   I did this not because I didn’t want the other person (Obama) to win, but because I wanted Hilary to lead this country.  Prior to this moment in my life, my political choices consisted of  justifications like, “Well, he’s better than  this other creep.”   My faith in Hilary has nothing to do with anyone else.  I sometimes cry when I think of her winning. This has no basis on intellectual thought. I understand the criticisms. I just believe in her.  I feel it in my bones.

Therefore, this websites fully endorses Hilary Clinton for the democratic nomination.

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“Changes In The Mating Strategies Of White People” -The Complete Play

On January 17, 2014 the play I wrote “Changes In The Mating Strategies of Women” opened at the Lounge 2 theatre in Hollywood, California.  It closed on February 28th and my friend Jim Coughlin filmed (or video-ed) the last show.   People have inquired about watching it or when the next production will mount and because I’m missing some brain synapses it didn’t to me that I could put it on YouTube until my friend Kendall Sor asked. I know YouTube is the last place where you want to watch a play, but I believe this is worth an hour of your time. Just take it out of your binge-watching time budget.

 

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Why I Can No Longer Watch Dead Or Dying Girls On TV/Internet

Smokin' Andrea. You can't kill her!

Smokin’ Andrea. You can’t kill her!

The other night I watched a really bad movie — I forgot the name — but it involved caves and scuba diving and my self-inflicted choices were that or “Love Actually.”  When the first two characters died —a woman and the only ethnic person— I almost stopped the movie.  Have we learned nothing since the 80s?  Or, at least, since T-Dog died in Season 3 of  “The Walking Dead”?  Then the only other female character died a death so gnarly I had to fast forward.  But she was a stuck-up bitch who refused to wear a wet suit, so she deserved it…right?  I finished the movie (underwater caves!), but I couldn’t sleep that night and later had flashbacks to that scene the next day.

A few days later I read Rebecca Solnit’s piece about books women should not read, and after getting my mind blown, decided to trust my instincts about the media and art I consume. The imprints left on my psyche of seeing women tortured, killed, mutilated, raped or denigrated verbally or otherwise in every multitude of imaginative ways as conceived by mostly male writers who may or may not — probably, mostly not — respect women, have to be just at least as bad for me as gluten.

The effects of violent imagery towards women on my brain does not go away in a day or two.  Twenty years ago I went to see  Cape Fear with my friends and to this day, the scene where Robert Deniro bites Ileana Douglas causes me to experience a PTSD wince. In fact, every time I see her, I think about the scene and worry about her happiness. Has she had an OK life? Was she abused in her relationships?  She did marry Martin Scorsese.

Here’s a short and incomplete list of scenes from movies and TV shows that continue to traumatize me.

1) Cape Fear (yes, it’s worth mentioning again) – Scene: When Robert DeNiro bites Ileana Douglas cheek off.  I can not imagine what that scene provided to the story, let alone the world, except to disturb me.   Teri Gross discusses this scene in a recent interview with Ileana Douglas.

2) The Sopranos – Scene: Silvio murders Andrea.   Tony tells Andrea that Silvio will take her somewhere safe.  For a moment Andrea imagines driving away alone.  Run Andrea! Run!  Alas, she ignores her instincts and gets whacked by the cheeziest thug on “The Sopranos.”   I have fantasies of her life as a fugitive and late at night I sometimes wonder what the world would be if Andrea had lived.  [Note: Special mention to the scene when Dr. Melfi gets raped in Season 1)

3) House of Cards – Scene: Doug Stamper, Chief of Staff to POTUS and murderer, kills Rachel, former prostitute.  For a moment, he lets her go, but then changes his mind and murders her, even though he has a limp.   Again, why could she not have run off into the desert, hidden and lived….?

4) The Following – Scene: Almost every one.  I hated this show with a passion I could spend on more productive experiences.

5) True Detective – Scene: When Matt McConaughey discovers the first female victim. I don’t know how many others he discovered because I stopped watching the show.  (If I want to see hot actors take themselves too seriously, I’ll just go back to my Meisner acting class.)  More nightmares…

6) The Fall Scene: Sociopath/doting husband and father ritualistically murders young woman.  Apparently, if a show features a strong female lead, it gives it license to depict new levels of gruesome deaths for multiple young women.

7) Fargo – Scene: Martin Freeman’s murder of his wife.  Same note as “The Fall.” Also, this show gets credit for attempting to rewrite the feminist triumph of a [SPOILER ALERT] pregnant Frances McDormand single-handedly capturing the killer by giving that credit to Solverson’s husband.

The list goes on. (I have not watched Dexter, much of SVU, or ).  I don’t know when I became so desensitized to gruesome images of violence against women.  Did I decide at some point that it’s cool to watch this shit?  I used to carry a feminist crowbar with me whenever I watched or read anything, ready to pull out the entrails of misogyny.    I’m proud of my 19-20 year old self for having the capacity to think that Nabokov set back child victims’ rights a few centuries, Hemingway might have been less vapid with a positive male role model, Jack Kerouac needed to get a real job, and Ulysses by James Joyce (which I was assigned a three times), exists for insecure lit majors needing reasons to feel superior.  I’m not anti-man writing. Fitzgerald, Shakespeare and Tennessy Williams remain the gold standard.  But I also include  Zora Neale Hurston up there right next to them.  Who is Zora Neale Hurston?  EXACTLY.

I’d love to watch detective shows and hate-watch the parts I don’t like and go and live my life like a normal person (i.e., white male), but these shows don’t exist in a vacuum.  They either mirror, inspire or re-calibrate the status quo which consists of  at least one woman in every three being beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.   I don’t know how many women are murdered on standard TV a night, but, six women are murdered each day in Mexico. Is there a connection? I’m going to skip the sarcasm and just say that as women we live in a cultural milieu of blood, knives and fear.

I have no answers.  I have an addiction to serial episodic TV.  Sure, I can stay away from detective crime shows starring Kevin Bacon, but am I seriously NOT going to watch the next season of House of Cards?

What shows traumatize you?

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Earthquakes vs. Lightning

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Some Tips On How To Be A Successful Freelancer

multi-tasker2Eight years ago today — the day before Thanksgiving — the digital agency I worked at for two years laid me off.  Since then I have worked as a freelancer/contractor/person not bound by salary and benefits. How have I managed to find dozens of jobs in the past eight years?  Sometimes I need to remind myself.  Here are some actions that I believe have served me well.


1) A flurry of communication (aka, a squeaky wheel).  
While gig hunting, I send out emails, texts, Skype, Facebook and LinkedIn messages, tweets and I even make phone calls (gasp).  Many of these are ignored. I often feel like a 7th grader trying to get a “cool” kid to pay attention to her.  But the reality is that most people barely see them, or glance at them, or forget, or email me weeks later.  I have come to understand that people in 2015 Los Angeles hardly register an earthquake, let alone my emails.  Nobody is thinking about me because —amazingly— people have their own problems, too.  Sometimes, when I finally get in contact with someone after what seems like a torrent of communication, I might hear a surprised, “Hi Solange, Good to hear from you! ” I realize that all those emails impacted her like Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons.  I don’t notice them until I need to buy some sheets.  Most people are drowning in responsibilities.   It’s up to me to make a loud “squeak.”

2)  Stay connected with colleagues over coffee or lunch.  Sometimes an acquaintance will ask me to lunch or coffee and I’ll worry about losing a few hours of job hunting or writing time, even though it would most likely be spent scrolling Facebook for cat videos and heartfelt political rants.  I don’t mean to spend time reading a TBT picture essay about their 11th grade year abroad, but, let’s be real, it’s part of my “process.”   Once I forego the Deer Loves Dog video mashup, and I go to Peet’s to meet a flesh and blood human for caffeine, something magical happens.  I find out that he/she just got a new job, broke up with someone, has a sick parent; basically, has real troubles just like me.  He/she also may know of someone who might need someone to do this thing.  This weird human connection thing happens and, unlike an email, it won’t disappear in two seconds.  Networking is cheesy and exploitive and possibly creepy.  But real human connections can result in solid colleagues or actual friendship.  I have gotten many jobs from acquaintances that I bothered to get to know and care about.

3) Help other people find work.  If you want to live in the murky waters of freelancing, help keep your fellow peeps afloat.   Someone needs an art director? Flash programmer?  Tutor? Cleaning lady? Psychic? Dog sitter?   I love when I refer someone to a job and find out that they stayed there for a year or two.  It’s not just good karma, but a sense that my actions are part of the machinations of good. Without sounding like a movie star out of rehab, we are all connected.

4) Talk to Recruiters.  But be careful.   Yes, recruiters.  Sure, they take up to 30% of your hourly rate, and, yes, I’ve met some who would sell me to a brothel for a $100 referral fee, but they also desperately want to place their clients.  I know a couple of recruiters who I trust and respect, but I vet any new ones lest I end up interviewing for a start-up in Tiajuana for $.50/hour. (Please note: working directly with a company is always preferable, but not always feasible.)

5)  Faith.   This is a hard one.   I often cave to fear and take the first job that comes my way, even if the business is carpeted in red flags. If a work environments reeks of sad, unsmiling people, who roam grey hallways with jugs of coffee and that lost, bewildered “this is my life?” look on their faces, then I’m better off living in the uncertainty of unemployment.   The compensation from such a job may momentarily ease financial strain, but in the long run, will result in  lots of frantic calls to my therapist, or some cortisol related illness.  I’ve learned this lesson many times and I now try to remember the proven fact: THERE WILL BE ANOTHER JOB.

6) Learn a variety of skills.  I make most of my money as a project manager. BUT I get hired as a PM because I can also make wireframes, user flows, write copy and blogs, and fix things in Photoshop.   I learn programs, read best practices, and, like any technophile, try to predict the future.  I also love making technology more intuitive, a sadly unsung requirement in this world.   Being versatile has keeps me marketable, but just the fact that I have curiosity seems attractive to clients who understands that digital technology thrives from creative thinking and problem solving.   Some could say I lack commitment, but I like to think that I’m a Jack Of All Trades Master Of Keeping An Employable Skill Set.

7)  Keep Hustlin’.  A friend described me as a cat, I always land on my feet. I don’t  have a superpower, I just don’t give up.   I know that freelancing has created a happier life for myself and I’m willing to do what it takes.

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What A Female Comic Sits Through For Stage Time

A misogynist comic can have great jokes about everything but women.

A misogynist comic can have great jokes about everything but women.

A few weeks ago I met a brilliant young designer named Emma who interviewed me about an exhibit she plans to curate about Women in Comedy. (Details will be forthcoming.) Prior to meeting her I sent her all the blogs I’ve written about being a female comic (like this, this and this).  When we met she asked me why I stopped writing about this delightful topic and I came up with something about not having the energy to be angry and how a lot of these misogynist comic guys are a little sad anyway.  Kind of true.

Then last night I went to an open mic near my apartment that I would consider relatively friendly, not a cold dungeon of social misfits, more like a hippy enclave of West LA misfits.  I have not felt “triggered” (therapy word) by an open mic in a while. Years of open mics, (ugh on the word “years”) have taught me to develop some measure of built-in psychic ear plugs to filter out bad jokes, general disturbing ideas, hackneyed premises, and, yes, misogyny.  Maybe it was the PMS, but several of the  “premises” I heard threw me into the old “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life?” existential plunge — a pretty common experience in comedy for all genders — that kicked in my instinct to flee any place with an amp, coffee, and depressed white men.

What did I hear at the mic last night?  Nothing that unusual. A guy said that he’s getting married because he likes to “suck on his wife’s XXX.” So you can see the level of comedy genius we’re working with here. The problem I have with such remarks has to do with the numbers, the volume,  (not the mic volume, though that too) but the amount of material of this vein.

It struck me as odd that a liberal wealthy enclave of Los Angeles would tolerate the lady hate vibe.   This coffee shop is in Mar Vista, next a soap shop, a pet store, and a vinyl store.  People sip on $4 on coffee while they wait their turn to play their ukelele or read poetry. People who would not tolerate gay bashing or racism. And, yet, a white male can go on stage and talk about how he humiliated a prostitute and call it “comedy” and nobody bats an eye.

When people talk about political correctness ruining comedy, I’m a little confused.   If we are politically correct now, what did comics say about women thirty years ago?  Comedy seems more violent and denigrating to women than ever. Even a smart comic might seem like a really intelligent and astute about everything, until he talks about women.

But maybe it’s just a reflection of our society.  Compared to the bloodied images of women’s naked bodies on TV, video games and movies that making a clearly offensive joke about a prostitute seems almost tame.  Violence against women has become a “television staple.”   The serial killer who employs genius and bizarre creative executions of sex murders has been played out on True Detective, The Killing, The Following, and now Wicked City.  I recall watching Kevin Bacon have a whole casual conversation on The Following in front of a bleeding crucified Jesus-Christ-style blond sorority girl.

I rarely, if ever, address this at open mics.  There is some comic credo of not attacking other comics for their material.  But I also wonder if I should spend precious stage time reacting to these dumb ass jokes that usually bomb anyway.  But this type of comedy behavior is exactly why I’m the only female comic in the room.   If I speak up, I fear I’m less of a comic…but second to writing a blog (done), it’s all I can do.

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Eight Months

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My mom, while pregnant with me, and dad. (1972).

(WARNING: Post may incite some sadness).

It’s been eight months since my mother died. I don’t think people die all of a sudden, so it’s been a eight months-ish.

I have accused myself of sharing too many intimate details on this blog.  However, given the choice between compulsive oversharing and depression/crippling anxiety, I’ll risk judgment from the imaginary professional acquaintances in my head…so judge away.

There really is no way to deal with losing your mother.  Something goes wrong and I want to tell her about it.   Something goes right and I want to talk to her.   I wanted to tell her about my tooth that still might need a root canal.  Or that I worked as a “background artist” in my friend Maria’s show.  (They did give me a dressing room) Or that I had a reading of my next play where I Deviled Eggs because I (finally) figured out the magic of mayo and mustard, or about my amazing fur vest find at the Jewish Women’s Council thrift shop during the unbearable LA heat wave. I wanted to tell her about her memorial (and her funeral) and how many people showed up, or about the Dia De Los Muertos altar that we are making.  Nobody talks about death in our culture because nobody wants to accept that there is no right way to deal with it.  You can’t write a “How To…” list or any kind of list.  Just sit there and feel loss and, maybe, if you believe in that kind of thing, hope to get a sign from beyond.  (They say to wait a year before contacting a medium.)  Basically, shit gets real and you just deal.  Welcome to the crappy part of life.

Ricardo_Montalban_Herve_Villechaize_Fantasy_Island_1977

My mom always loved Ricardo Montalbán….but how creepy was this show?

As a child, my mother limited my television viewing schedule to Saturday nights and one hour on Sunday.   However, in the last years of her life my mom’s opinion of TV, along with many established critics, changed and she watched a lot of it.   She loved “Grimm,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and, yes, “Castle.”  For a librarian and English major who loved Masterpiece theater, her taste in TV shows remains a great mystery to me.   Sure, we once lived for “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island,” but that was in 1980.  In the past few years I sat through more than a few episodes of  “Castle” in a state of exasperation.   It was either that or ‘Step Up Revolution’ (“It’s about dancing” she would say).   However, nothing could compare to ‘Frazier.’

I wish I could watch terrible TV with her now.

Posted in Death, Emotional Stuff, Mom, Therapy, TV/Movies | Leave a comment

“The Leftovers” Is More Confusing Than Ever But I’m Still Obsessed With It

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Justin Theroux and Kevin Carroll face the mystery of weirdness…or something like that.

Yes, I made fun of the first season of “The Leftovers,” but I’m secretly — well, it’s not really a secret — obsessed with it.  It has a lot of problems.  As  this Grantland article explains, the show suffers from the disease of Pretentious Bullshit as a substitute for the difficulty of depicting the complicated human experience of being alive in a changing world. (Yes, deers need to stop being a symbol of wisdom and piety. So do doves.)  However, the show does have a hold on many things that we experience in our culture, like the casual weird acceptance in the face of the inexplicable violence.  (For example, a guy shoots up a community college in Oregon and we all react with creepy normality because…”stuff happens”?)

I did almost drown in the barrage of metaphors that began with the Quest For Fire woman having a baby post-earthquake apocalypse and ended with fish flopping around on an empty river bed. We get it. Death.  Primal woman.  They Mystery of Nature.  (The book by Tom Perrota had none of this and actually depicts grief better than anything I have read or seen.)

Ok, so here’s the recap of the first episode of the second season in one paragraph. Ready?….Go! Upper middle class black family in Miracle, Texas survive Star Treck Beam of Disappearance along with the rest of  this Jesus Freak town.  The family seems kind of perfect…you guessed it, too perfect. Adorable Daughter sings in a choir and Sweet Son feeds the town vagrant who dresses like a medival wizard and lives in a tower.  The Good Dad does good dad things like play catch with his Adorable Daughter.  But he also functions as one of the town’s Secret Service Police who terrorize those who espouse any spirituality outside of Christianity.  Even if it’s his childhood pal, who now conducts a  psychic practice from his home. Psychic Friend tells Good Dad that “something bad is going to happen.” (What kind of psychic delivers news this way?!  The correct phrase is “you will face some challenges.”) Later, (possibly in reaction to this bummer news) Good Dad throws Psychic Friend out of his window and burns down the house.  A little extreme?  We later find out that Good Dad served time for attempted murder so what’s a little arson? The next day everyone goes to church like nothing happened.  Bad stuff  does happen at the end and (SPOILER ALERT) Adorable Daughter disappears along with the water that tethered the flopping fishes who, like the characters, are now out of their element.  SYMBOLISM.

Also, a lot of strange things happen like a farmer brings a goat into a restaurant for slaughter in front of patrons and, apparently, the entire cast of “Perfect Strangers” did NOT depart/disappear in Star Treck beam.  (Ok, so this was two paragraphs…)

Next episode?  More weirdness, please.

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I Watched The Entire Fourth Season Of “Girls”

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No, this is not a still shot from “Girls.” Still, Julie Hagerty was brilliant in “Airplane.”

I thought this kind of stuff only happens to other people.  But, no, I laid down on my couch one night and watched the entire fourth season of “Girls”.   Yes, I know I’m way late to the party on this, seeing as the season premiered way back in January…but, like I said, this wasn’t supposed to happen TO ME.

Maybe it’s the earth tone colors, or the idea that New York is still an Artist’s Town where people sculpt things or debut their folk songs at brunch.  Or the notion that twenty-somethings have time to just hang out and brood about life like real care-free young people. Everyone I know who moved to New York after college seemed to turn 40 overnight.  And that was in 1994. (Yes, I’m old).

Yes, I know, you’re thinking. Solange, weren’t you once in your twenties?  Following every whim and rando guy who paid you five seconds of attention?…Yes, I was.  I was everything the “Girls” are: self-absorbed, self-important, self-everything….and, arguably, still am.  But the difference is that if someone had said to me at 23, “We want to make a television show of your life,” I would have invited them into the three bedroom cat urine and pot-smelling Venice house that I shared with three other people and asked, “Do you really find this interesting?! WHAT WE TWENTY SOMETHINGS DO IS A BORING LEARNING EXPERIENCE THAT OLDER FOLKS ALREADY HAD.”  Maybe I had little to no respect for my own life experience or, more likely, it didn’t even seem interesting to me.

As a writer I understand the need to create flawed and irritating characters… hello, “Seinfeld” and even “Sex and the City”…but much of “Girls” misses a level of satire that lets a character get away with murder or whining.  I once watched the movie “Airplane” (yes again, I’m old) with a Serious Actor Boyfriend who pointed out that Julie Hagerty could both act the part of Elaine and comment on that performance.  Ricky Gervais did this in the British version of the “The Office.”

Snide judgments aside, I will give it up to Lena Dunham who  kind of rocked the satire this season. I loved anything that makes fun of Iowa Writing School and  Hanna’s unwillingness to take herself that seriously.  I also liked Ray Ploshansky.  Peter Scolari (loved “Bosom Buddies”) could do so much more.

That’s all.  I don’t know if this will happen again.

Posted in Acting, Annoyances, TV/Movies, White People | Leave a comment

Hey, I Made A Meme

laminated

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