Monday, May 30, 2011

Comedians Shouldn't Kiss!?!

Deb: I have been a comedic actor all of my adult life and I have performed a huge variety of styles within that gaffaw-ish genre. The one thing I did not sign up for was the bodily entanglement. I am never called upon to kiss or make out. And there’s a reason for that. I am a comedian. We. Don’t. Kiss.

I have done intimate scenes which are sweet and sexy, loving and real. But I have not done the kissing.

My character on Mosque is all about the sex and she talks a good game. So imagine my horror when after five seasons of Little Mosque on the Prairie, my character has been called upon to put her money where her racy mouth is.

She has been given a lover.

This lover comes in the form of one of Canada’s comedic treasures––Peter Keleghan.
I have been Peter’s huge fan and good friend for 25 years. Peter and I have performed together many times over the years playing a romantic couple, lounge singers, swingers and swindlers. But we are comedians. Comedians don’t kiss.

So what do you feel when you are faced with making out with an old friend with whom you have shared nothing but warm hugging and big mugging?

Abject fear.

I am NOT trained in this. I “make” with the faces, not with the “out”!

So there we were in the first passionate scene and we are required to kiss. Big kiss. Long kiss. Legs wrap kiss...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

So we move in for the money shot and my lips close like a clam in a sand storm. You could not get an amoeba past these clenched lips of mine. And the funny thing about it is that his lips are the exact same. Clenched. Pinched. Pursed.

And I LOVED him for it.

I am not shy when it comes to communication, so why did I not lay it on the line with him and say I was feeling awkward? Maybe because I was afraid that he was all cool with it and that I would look like an idiot. OR, maybe I thought he was all cool with it and by speaking up I would make him feel awkward.

So we kissed, and I use the term loosely.  My lips were sucked up so far in my mouth they were making my tonsils gag. And I don’t even have tonsils.

After our crazy glue kiss, we laughed with relief. Phew. Glad that’s over.

But of course it is television so we had to do it again and again and again, both of us scrambling to put “shtick” in the kiss to divert from the fact that we were actually kissing.
When the scene was over, we hugged our friend hug and said (LYING), “That was fun.”


It was fun playing off of each other and enjoying the chemistry and the timing we shared. But it was not fun when we had to make out. At least it wasn’t for me and I am pretty sure it wasn’t for him.

Then as I was heading home after work the unthinkable occurred to me. What if he thinks I really kiss that way? What if he thinks I am a lousy kisser? What if he thinks that my husband is daily subjected to the KLENCH KISS?

OHNO! I am a good kisser. You can ask my husband. He will tell you. I am a damn good kisser.

So I thought, “Well, suck it up, clenchy, and let it go. If he thinks you suck at kissing you are going to have to live with that.”

So I’ve made my peace with it, praying that Peter isn’t the type to clench and tell. And for the sake of my husband and Peter’s beautiful girlfriend, I am proud to say that we partook of the “lame smooch”.

My ego ... well, that’s another story.

Barbara: Oh god, Deb, so very funny. I haven’t had to kiss a lot of actors over my career, but since I’ve been with my husband through the whole of it, there’s always been the tug and pull of Do Your Job Well versus My Head Gets In The Way, Not To Mention My Husband’s. The three-headed monster. So not sexy.

But then, those kisses are only meant to be sexy for the audience. Or at least believable. The beauty is, you can always fake your way through it. And I’m gonna wager that a kiss in a comedy is allowed to be funny. So let’s pretend you were playing it for the laughs all along. Time to embrace (as it were) the on-screen Klench Kiss! It’s the new spit-take. (…ba-dah-bum…)

PS this video is a re-post, but since it features Deb with Peter K and some mad pseudo making out (but not the scene with aforementioned Klench Kiss), we thought it timely to post again. Enjoy!

PPS For anyone trying to post a comment to our static pages (ie About Us or Deco Tips, etc), the comments boxes on those pages have suddenly disappeared.... And we don't know why.... Have sent a message to Blogger, so hopefully that will be cleared up asap. Thanks!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Between A Rock And A Soft Place

Barbara: The other day a few of us were discussing the personality traits of a certain character in our screenplay when a colleague suddenly referenced the philosophy of rock logic versus water logic. Who’d’a thunk this innocent observation would trigger a whole mindblowing epiphany!

I’d never heard of the rock/water logics, so my colleague nutshelled it for me. (PS: This is the kind of stuff I eat up. I LOVE Rubik’s cubing the human mind.) In case you’re like me and you’ve never heard of this philosophy, let me try and nutshell. And if you are familiar with it, I’d love to hear your take.

The idea of rock and water logic was introduced by a guy named Edward de Bono, a respected “great thinker”. This is his official website (I’d say the great thinker could use a great designer, but I digress), and this is a good summary of his thesis. The way my colleague described it, neither logic was better than the other, they just are. You are either a strongly confident “rock”, generally unmoving, sure and certain in the one best choice. Water logic is flowing, adaptable, conforms to its environment. Both logics have their place in our lives. On a team, it’s good to have the conviction of the rock and the flexibility of the water.

(If you read Edward de Bono’s work, he actually says that rock logic is “traditional” thinking. He definitely urges people to think outside the rock, to embrace “lateral thinking”. Too bad my whole epiphany catapulted off the notion that all my relationship problems could be traced to this basic but fundamental difference and that I just had to accept it.)

I can say with utter conviction that I am a water logic person. It can be a wonderful quality, sure. It’s great to believe there are a myriad of solutions to every problem, not just one (or worse, none). BUT I can also say that my adaptability makes me endlessly accommodating—a trait that can bite me in the butt when it comes to any kind of teamwork. I can see the merit of my own choices with utter clarity, but I can also see the merit of EVERY ONE OF YOURS. I’ve been accused of being a pushover more than once, but really, it’s because it ALL SEEMS POSSIBLE.

Also, I’ve butted heads with more than a few rock-logicians in my time. Oh, how they stand firm in their resolve, a resounding “no” to every one of my suggestions. It can be frustrating. It can be exhausting to always, always have to flow around them.

So it was with some relief that I realized we were two logics with the same goal—to get the job done, be it an actual job or an emotional conundrum, in the best possible way. We just have two very different approaches. Both ways do have merit. I’ve had to learn to adopt a bit of rock logic, to decide what I really really believe in so I can defend my ideas when they need defending.

Sometimes the water has to collect in a pool against that rock, and sometimes the rock has to let itself disengage and be carried with the flow.

I know I am, but what are you???

Deb: Well, Barb, I think you know what I am. I am water logic too. And frankly I think it is very unusual for two water logics to accomplish anything as a team.  But we do, don’t we, Barb?

I may have been a bit of a rock when I was younger, a stone if you will.  But over the years I yielded to the flow, which I think is my true path.

When Barb and I work we are all about the compromise. And I mean ALL ABOUT THE COMPROMISE. Does it always serve the project? I don’t know. Does it always serve our joy in doing the project? OH YEAH! So we flow and we flow and we love every minute of it. 

So we … Go with the Flow––You KNEW I had to say it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm Not Mad, I'm Disappointed

Deb: Is there a worse sentence to hear?

I remember as a child the first time I heard it from my parents. I was mortified. I didn’t know if I would ever redeem myself in their eyes. Of course at that time I had no idea that “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed” was the most oft used weapon in a parent’s arsenal.

And it works because it’s true, isn’t it? When someone is angry with us, we just stick out our chin and wait for the fury to pass, sometimes even giving back as good as we’re getting.

But ... when someone is disappointed in us, it hits like a brick to the head.

Disappointment is a major demotion in the profession of human to human controversy. With the dropping of the “D” word, that person is saying, you are not worth my anger. They are saying that their feelings toward you at that moment in time go to the very core of their being and all they can muster up ... is DISAPPOINTMENT. So, in panicked reaction to this, we scramble to raise ourselves above this lowly status, brick by brick, until we raise ourselves up to “loathed” or even “despised”.

I recently dropped “disappointment” on someone I care for. I was not proud when I pulled this old chestnut out. But I judged at the time that it was my only recourse. I felt they needed to know that I was disappointed with them and along with that I wanted them to know how much I hated feeling this way.

Now THIS was a tactic my parents never used. They did not attach their reluctance to drop the D-bomb to the situation. In fact they always seemed so proud to use it. It was the “good china” of punishments.

But mine was said to a peer, a fully grown up person who deserved, despite my disappointment in them, my love and support.

And I am happy to report that the disappointment card still works its magic. It remains through the centuries, the fuzzy end of the lollypop we never want. And as I watched this person deal with what I said and act on it, without protest, without excuses, without resentment, I marveled. Marveled at the power of the “D”.

I also marveled at their ability to place their ego aside and to listen. I hope it helped that I delivered the message with a spoonful of sugar. But I don’t think so.

I suspect that it will be forever thus. Generations to come will crumble whenever they find themselves on the receiving end of “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.”

Barbara: You are so right, Deb. On the confession side, I have certainly played this card with my kids, lump in my throat, conviction in my heart. It IS powerful. But at the time, I believed with all my heart that I meant it. Lack of effort, lack of commitment, lack of taking responsibility, all garner a deep sense of maternal “disappointment”. I expect better from them. And I want them to know that. (Not that it happens that often.) That said … it is a magical card that, yup, works every time.

But what I never considered before was the D-word’s omnipotent power. Why not brandish it during much bigger tugs-of-war: invade a country—we’re disappointed in you; oppress the downtrodden—we’re disappointed in you; place greed over compassion—so so very disappointed. It could be the new modus operandi of rulers everywhere: resigned benevolence complete with heartfelt sighs and puppy dog eyes. Kinda love it. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Too Old To Swim????!

Barbara: I’m pretty flexible when it comes to other people’s opinions. I know they’re just that: OPINIONS. But sometimes an opinion gets so under my skin that I have to rant and rave for, like, five whole minutes. Start your timers, folks:

Okay, read this article—well, not really an article, more like an article blurb—in my paper the other day. Of course, it’s just an abbreviation of several other abbreviated articles of its ilk around the world. To wit: Hillary Moss of The Huffington Post at styelist riffs on it, as does Daily Mail Reporter at The Daily Mail UK (PS: Mr/Ms Mail Reporter, if that really is your name, I’m sorry it's such a pedestrian one, however, if this is the Daily Mail’s idea of attribution, it fucking sucks. Writers unite! Anyway…).

I couldn’t find the survey that they all quote, but apparently it was administered by Diet Chef, a diet service in the UK (and we all know how reliably relevant and important surveys administered by diet services can be). Well, Diet Chef interviewed 2000 women about their opinions on women of certain ages wearing certain clothes. Now, it’s possible we’ve all been guilty of, “She’s wearing that?!” at some point in our lives. But I have to say, it’s one of my least favourite of the womanly clichés.

Anyway, after interviewing these 2000 women, this survey feels compelled to make the following proclamations for aging women everywhere: No miniskirts after 35. No bikinis after 47 (is this my last bikini summer?!). No leggings after 37. No long hair after 53. No wearing trainers except for sports after 44. WTF?! Am I condemned to short hair because of my age??? And I might be grasping here, but aren’t the aging feet of older women––of all feet!––prime candidates for the support and comfort offered by a running shoe when they’re, say, going for a stroll or navigating the aisles of the supermarket (… unless these activities are considered “sport”. Then my bad.)

But the kicker? The unleasher of my wrath and fury? This decree:

No swimsuits after 61.

Yes, you read that right. No. Swimsuits. After. 61.

Do we hate ourselves so much, must we be so controlled and self-conscious and uptight, that we aren’t even allowed to SWIM!!! after a certain age?! Or perhaps these 2000 surveyees believe that if an older women absolutely MUST slip into that refreshing lake or pool, then she should do so only in the dead of night and only after donning a full body suit, thus avoiding egregious insult to the delicate vision of all youthful beings who inhabit the earth.

Makes me want to don thigh-high leather boots and a bikini top, throw a see-through blouse over it, brush my long hair into a ponytail and jump into the fucking lake.

‘Nuff said.

Deb: Deb: As I write this, I am piercing my naval with a bobby pin.

STOP THIS BULLSHIT. Everyone should stop doing it! But women especially. I heard a young girl last week say that it is gross to think of people over 50 having sex. Man, I was so sad to hear her say that. And now this BULLSHIT. People say “don’t revisit what you have worn any other decade.” It is a stupid rule for people who are afraid, for people who conform. Wear a hat full of red blooming roses with a peekaboo blouse. Or wear a sensible skirt and cashmere twin set. I DON”T CARE! But wear what makes you feel lovely and happy and damn everyone who says you can’t!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS Oh, and in case anyone missed it, we posted a new deco tip and recipe last Saturday!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Sap For A Sapling

Hey, you can now check out our new Saturday posting of Deb's Deco Tips and Barbara's Easy Recipes! And now to our regularly scheduled post...

Deb: The gardeners who clean up our garden for planting were here the other day and they commented that the huge sixty foot tree in our front yard should maybe come down. They noted that it had many holes in its trunk––who’s doesn’t?––and said we should have the city inspect it.
Deb's sapling all grown up
So the city came to inspect the tree and said that, although it was not dying, it was certainly on the decline. The guy gave me a list of trees, a very impressive list of 29 trees that they would put in for free to replace it. Many of them were beautiful trees that would enhance the front of our home. Curb appeal, doncha know!

You see, most of the big beautiful trees in this hood were planted in the 40’s when the hood was a babyhood. And our tree was one of many Norway maple trees planted that, although gorgeous, are soooooooooooooo invasive. We are plagued with tiny insipid little roots that come up and strangle any plant we plant that isn’t as hearty as Popeye. Ug ug ug ug ug ug ug. (And so you know, that wasn’t me disparaging said Norway maple. “Ug ug ug ug” for you young’uns was Popeye’s catch phrase.)

So the prospect of a flourishing garden with NO limitations had me all green and leafy. I looked over the city brochure and googled each and every tree narrowing my search, daydreaming of shouting TIMBER!

So I went out to inspect the tree, with visions of friendly flowering foliage gracing our frontage … and it happened.

DAMN my EYES it happened.

I pictured our tree circa 1946 as a wee sapling held up by wire and a stick. I envisioned the very first owners standing in front of it brandishing a “Sold” sign. I saw them thrill to its first bloom and roll around in its first autumn shedding. Then I saw me and the boy wrapping it in spider webs for our first Halloween in this home 13 years ago.

 And I was screwed.

So there she stands. And until we have reason to believe she will possibly crush us, I shan’t shout timber.

PS Here are pics of our Ornamental Japanese Apple just now in bloom:

Barbara: Oooh, thanks, Deb, you’ve just offered me a chance to “talk trees”! I love talking trees.

I have a weird maple on the city portion of my front yard that is so odd-looking they call it a Witch's Broom. You can’t tell from this photo––it only sprouts later in the summer––but it has masses of suckers up and down its trunk that we (and by “we”, I mean Phil) have to trim off every year for fear the branches will poke an eye out.
Witch's Broom Maple
When these suckers leaf out, they'll be 4-5ft long
I have two black walnut maples in my backyard that are so toxic, everything except hostas, impatiens and boxwoods die underneath it. But the trees are gorgeous. And, yes, we’ve even stopped begrudging them their walnut husks which the squirrels leave everywhere and which leave a dark ebony stain on all they touch. We even have a giggle or two in the fall when we find the husked walnuts in the most obtuse places (for a squirrel conditioned to burying treasure): balanced on a spoke of our chaise lounger wheel, at the tip top of our backyard heater, sitting neatly on a chair at the deck table.
Black Walnut––when these branches leaf out, they're like long lazy fans
But the piece de resistance is my copper beech tree. You heard me: a friggin copper beech. The most beautiful, majestic, wondrous tree EVER!!! It is maybe 400 years old and we get to adore its magnificence every day. Does it bug me sometimes? Yeah, sure, with its millions of leaf husks that swarm into the house all spring, its hard nut husks that make walking barefoot a hazard in late summer, and of course its relentless shade which prevents me from gardening vegetables or pretty blooming flowers.
Majestic Copper Beech
Copper Beech up close
Copper Beech trunk––like a huge elephant's leg
But that’s all just irrelevant whining. We love our trees. We love their quirks and idiosyncrasies. They are as changeable and frustrating, as sweet and wonderful, as mysterious and revealing as our dearest loved ones. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Fame Chore

Barbara: It’s funny—for a girl who chose a job that requires me to be in the public eye, you’d think I’d be cool about … being in the public eye. And yet, I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of “fame”. I love the work, but not the perk. As it were. But when it comes to other people, I’m all for famin’ ‘em up. Give it to ‘em, baby. “Oh, ye multitudes, see this god/goddess for who and what they are!!”

So you can imagine my chagrin when my daughter seemed to be following in my uncomfortable footsteps. Younger Daughter is in her last year of high school, an aspiring filmmaker/photographer/director/changer of the world. She and a few other students at her school were recently chosen to be interviewed by our national paper… Let me say that again to greater effect: by our NATIONAL NEWSPAPER!!! The Canadian Globe and Mail wanted to cover the fact that several students from her arts high school (Etobicoke School of the Arts) were scouted by prestigious American colleges and offered numerous scholarships. Michele was one of them.

(Commercial pause: if you’re uncomfortable with maternal boasting, skip ahead to the next paragraph.) Okay, so at Portfolio Day last fall, Michele gets scouted by School of the Arts Institute Chicago, School of Visual Arts in New York, Parsons Paris, Pratt, San Francisco School of the Arts, and … wait for it … friggin’ Harvard! Yeah, my arts baby was scouted by an Ivy League school known for its business and science geeks. Turns out they have an arts program. Who knew? So several of the schools offered her scholarships (for Harvard, btw, she got as far as the interviews, but then didn’t get in). Sadly, these American schools are so expensive that even with scholarships we can’t afford to send her. I frankly don’t know how Americans do it. (Or actually I do: apparently the single largest debt load in the U.S. is student loans. Running in the trillions of dollars.) Anyway, it was a great adventure and we are proud and excited for her. And we’re sending her to a Canadian school.

So, when the national paper wants to interview you, you go right? Maybe some investment angel gets a load of your story and wants to send you to San Francisco all expenses paid. Maybe the coverage helps in your bid to get a green card one day. Maybe it helps your profile. It’s a small, important taste of fame. But Younger Daughter blows it off. Well, she doesn’t “blow it off”; she says she’s too busy directing her play, there are deadlines, other priorities. 

But I know her. I know she hates the limelight. I know it’s not important to her. Even if her mother is fairly pulling out her dyed hair and caterwauling at her to go and feed the fame beast, be the fame whore, get used to it, baby, because without our patrons, artists are nothing. To no avail. She had better things to do.

Gae Polisner––whose book The Pull of Gravity just came out––blogged about the dreariness of slogging herself for the sake of her book. Reading this made me realize just how many talented people DON’T crave the spotlight, but awkwardly curtsey in its glare, understanding that it’s just part of the gig. 

Maybe Michele will learn one day on her own what my strident ranting and handfuls of yanked hair couldn’t teach. 

PS: that article? It’s here if you want to read it, but turns out Michele was right. She wouldn’t have been featured any more than she already was (only featured as part of a collective). But still, you get my point, right?  

Deb: Knowing Michele, I think the issue stems from the fact that so many of her generation and younger are fame obsessed. The desire is no longer to be talented, but to simply be famous ... at any cost!

And smart talented people like Michele are now resisting it like the plague. The effort or desire to be famous seems almost tacky these days. And I get why they feel that way.

However the other side of the coin is that smart talented people learn to use fame to their advantage. They learn to treat it like a tool of the trade and they trot it out to serve them as they see fit. 

Fame will find Michele, of that I have no doubt. But when it does,  she will be its mistress. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

In My Room

Deb: As Brian Wilson sang:

There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to ... in my room, in my room.
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears ... in my room, in my room.
Do my dreaming and my scheming, lie awake and pray,
Do my crying and my sighing, laugh at yesterday.
Now it’s dark and I’m alone but I won’t be afraid,
In my room, in my room, in my room in my room, in my room, in my room, in my room.

Growing up, my room was my sanctuary. I am sure many of us feel the same. From my very first ballerina wallpaper to my ponytail-girls-talking-on phones wallpaper to the Beatles and Monkees posters, it was always MY SPACE, not myspace.

Because this “my space” was reserved for my inner sanctum, the keepers of my girl world. Carol Ann, Donna, Bev, Jane, Pat, Pat, Gail, Dale and Suzanne.

My parents were so wonderful about letting me make my room my own. During Monkees years, I even had a poster of Peter Tork on the ceiling above my bed. Sigh.

It was with this spirit that we allowed the boy to do the same. And he has gone for it over the years, sporting rooms that spoke to him and surrounding himself with things he loved.

There was the Pooh room, the Thomas the Tank Engine room, the Space Cowboy room, the Flags of the world room, and the purple movie posters room.

In the last few days he transformed his room yet again, his father and he ripping it apart, recycling, giving away, trashing and cleaning. This time he was inspired by photos he had seen and he downloaded a hundred or so, painstakingly cutting them out and arranging them like an art installation around the room.

It looks so fantastic and I love it.

And then came a sobering moment. After oohing and ahhhing about his room, he said to me, “Mom, what will you turn this room into when I move away?” Wow.

“Ahh, yeah, honey, I ummm, don’t know. Maybe a crafts room or ahhhh, ummm, guest room or.........I don’t really know.”

So I shall cling to this latest in a long line of sanctuaries of self-expression the boy has lived in.

Because in the blink of an eye, it will become a boring old guest room. 

Barbara: Wow, it’s crazy that you should write this on this of all weeks. I mean, you could have written this any time over the last blog-year, given that your boy has been unofficially gone from the nest for the last few years (still coming home between stints at school).

But no, you’ve written this and I read it now on the very week that my daughter received her acceptance to university out of town. She already has a place to live. An apartment with two other girls. She’s all set. She’ll be moving out in the fall—not permanently yet (I don’t think, sniffle, sniffle), but she is close to that too.

I will feel my first loss in the fall and I am feeling weepy now thinking of it (thanks, Deb!). Don’t get me wrong, I am nothing but thrilled and excited for my daughter. But I anticipate that her room—in all its eclectic and vagabond glory, with its posters of Dylan and Marley, its Egyptian artifacts, its life-size octopus hand-painted on one wall, its piles of homework and books, its mountains (a veritable RANGE) of clothing on the floor––will soon become a boring old something. And she will be gone. And it will be quiet. And a chapter will be over.


Deb, it is serendipitous in the extreme that you should write this now. Because not only do you remind me of this hard, cold reality, but you have also shown me by your amazing example just how much loving energy and loveliness can come to that empty nest, changing it from “empty” to “full of grace”. Thank you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Igloos And Dog Sleds

Sorry, folks, Blogger was down for the last two days. Some comments have been lost (although they might still come back), and we haven't been able to post today's article till now (which makes it even more redundant :) ––you'll see!)

Barbara: You know the cliché where we Canadians drive around in dog sleds, live in igloos, and it’s always -25 out? Well, this year, here in Toronto, it feels like we’re living the cliché. I’m half-tempted to gather the dogs and slap up the igloo!! Okay, it’s not -25, but it is the kind of spring cool that just seeps into your bones and never shakes itself out.

I’ve been waiting to put pansies in my garden for the last three weeks. Pansies––the hardy cold-weather flowers. Well, too cold for them. I’ve been staring dolefully out the window, bike still hanging from its hook in the garage, wondering where the heck the sun is and why the hell the rain is pouring so relentlessly.

I know Deb and I have bantered about weather in the past (she’s for it, I’m against), but I just feel like the worst kind of pouty brat these days. I need my outdoors! I need sun! I need to feel the warmth of it on my skin!

And PS: the vision of me spinning, arms outstretched, face tipped up to the rain is not my idea of child-like bliss. At all.

My front porch on, yes, a rainy cold day...
Most years, I spend the entire spring out on my front porch. My porch has got its own little eco-system up there. The afternoon sun streams under the overhanging roof and warms up the brick and furniture pillows around me. Or if it’s raining but sufficiently warm (which is often here in Canada, I swear!!), I even have an electrical outlet to charge my computer. But this spring, even wrapped in blankets and fleeces, I’m never warm enough. I am still as cooped up as I was all winter.

Help! Does anyone have a sure-fire fix for what threatens to become SFAD (seasonal fucking affective disorder)??? I mean, the people around me are seriously at risk.

Barbara’s PS: Okay, confession time: so I wrote this last week when we were in the throws of ceaseless cold weather, but then sidelined posting it as I was feeling all political and stuff and wanted to write about that. Now, this week, I am sidelined by a whopper of a cold—the kind that makes even looking at the computer screen an onerous chore (sore eyes, congested chest, midnight coughing fits wherein I banish myself to the basement guest room for fear of waking my beloveds). So when I found this blog-post still waiting on my computer, I thought, what the hell. Shouldn’t tell you that it’s been warm and sunny and my daughter is even sporting a mild sunburn on her chest from reckless sun-worshipping. I know: “wah wah”.

Deb: Deb: First off, I am glad that Barb came clean and fessed up to the fact that the blog was written pre beautiful weather. It has been stunning, warm and sunny. Secondly, those of you who follow the blog regularly, you know that one of my pet peeves is complaining about the weather. Barb read me this one with some reluctance! :-)

As I have said many times, if it is raining and you are miserable about it, then it is raining and miserable. If it is raining and you embrace it, the day holds endless possibilities. I am still that gal who can lift my face to the dark clouds and smile. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Deb and Barb Have A Three-Way

Deb and Barb Have A Three-Way With Madge

Deb and Barbara first met Madge in our comments section, and we’ve grown to love and admire her for her bold, straight-from-the-hip writing here and on her blog, Madgew-musings. She represents everything cool about owning your age: independence, free-spiritedness, compassion and intelligence.  Madge also has three other blogs: one about her trip to Chinaone about her trip to Japan, and another about her trip to Eastern Europe.


Madge in Japan
I have screamed that headline for years as I was looking for my passion. I have been an office manager in a doctor's office (passionless), run a 5 hospital program that trained fellows in Gastroenterology (even more removed from passion), own and manage real estate (feeds my ability to travel), been a mediator, artist, and now a writer (have written for as long as I can remember). Whew, I am tired of all my careers. But my best one to date is writing and being the marketing director for The Next Family.

Let me back up. A year ago May I turned in a story for a storytelling night at the Spark Off Rose Theater in Santa Monica, California. The title of the night was Children, and I wrote a funny piece about my son moving back to LA with his family of 5. I must admit it was the most fun I had had in a long time. My family and friends were in the audience and it was very well received. At the same time a woman named Brandy was telling her story. We connected and within weeks my story was on her website and I was her marketing director. The last year and a half I have finally found my passion. I have connected with the most amazing women and some men who are all writers in various fields and all over the world. In fact through one of these connections I met this two crazy women Barb and Deb and started following their blog. And follow I did. I comment all the time as I love to show my appreciation for someone else's wit and wisdom, sorrow and excitement. It has been a love fest ever since. Putting my words out there has somehow freed my soul. My ex boyfriend, lover, friend with benefits has not been as keen sometimes as I wrote about us and how it is so up and down. My family has been very supportive and they too have gotten sometimes not the most favorable reviews, but it is all done with love and humor and a real passion to have my truth out. Too long I hid behind the "people pleaser" motif. As I aged that person disappeared and the real Madge emerged––funny, loving, always caring, terrific and sometimes loudmouth with no filters.

Madge and her adorable granddaughter
As the marketing director of The Next Family, I search out writers who I think would fit our demographic as well as our site. It is for alternative families and it proves all families are really similar in their wants and needs, whether it be two moms, two dads, single parents by choice, IVF, adoption, surrogacy in India, or straight urban dwellers. It has taken a passion I have had on and off since I was young (kept diaries and wrote amazing thank you notes) alive and well. And now it is working into a career of sorts. Most writing today is for free and I have no desire to write a book. I write about my life, my loves and my travels. I have a popular blog and also amazing facebook friends. Please take a look and enjoy what you find.

3 more adorable grandkids
I am 62, divorced for over 20 years (that is all in my blogs) and enjoy being a mother to 2 grown sons and their families and a grammie to 4. They all give me great joy. I have an aging parent and thank goodness a sister to commiserate with. I can be funny, irreverent and I always speak my truth. I love my life and have fought very hard for it. Boundaries are my specialty and it took years to learn. I can teach you. I live in Los Angeles as a native. I have lived in the same house since 1972 on a quiet street in the middle of a metropolis. A little Spanish house with a zen garden and low maintenance.  Life is good.

Deb: Madge, this blog made my day! How often do we hear people singing their joy? And although you had to kiss some frog careers, you have found your princely job. You were made for it and it for you.

And I can totally relate to the people pleaser thing. I too have been a people pleasing pepe all my life, and yet with middle age and menopause, not so much anymore. I would never be rude or unkind but at the same time, I will not disparage myself to make the other person feel better. Nor will I (most times) allow someone to be mean to me. Took a long time and I still work on that one. But hurrah to those of us who live our dreams in any way shape or form. You deserve to feel this way about your life, Madge.

We all do.

Barbara: Absolutely, Madge! And thanks for always inspiring us to do the same.

You’d think as an actor—someone fully engaged in an “alternate” non-office-based life––I would never question what I’m doing or why. Guess what? Not so lucky. I have gone through many heart-thumping, hair-pulling, unabashed wailing sessions as I tried to figure out which path to take at any given point. But it was thanks to this process (an utterly painful and embarrassing one) that I rediscovered my passion for writing. There’s nothing like gnashing your teeth and wailing despondently to make you realize you need to … get a life. 

Thanks, Madge, for sharing your wonderful journey with us!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Furry Teen In Our House

Deb: I remember the day she stopped paying attention. It was a week ago Tuesday at 6:21 PM. She was now ten months old. A teen. A friggin furry teen.

I did what I always do when she starts to bark. “Bairn, come!” Works like a charm. Say it only once or the word will cease to mean anything.

Waiting. Waiting.................................................................................................Waiting.

No come. Not a come to be found. Now what?

Can’t say “Bairn, come” again. The trainer told me that. DO NOT SAY IT MORE THAN ONCE.

So now what? Me waiting. She running amuck. Waiting. More amuck. Waitingness. Amuckness.

Me putting on rain boots. Yes, raining. Pouring. Downpour. Monsoon. I knew it would happen like this.

Out I went embittered and soggy. I stand my ground. She circles the pool. I reach for her. She eludes my grasp. I strain my back and curse her. She doesn’t give a flippin damn.

So ... after ten minutes of this Tom Foolery, I cave.

Bairn, come....................Bairn, COOKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She comes faster than the speed of light.

And when she crosses the threshold I shout “NO COOKIE. NO COOKIE! You are bad! Bad Bairn! Bad. Bad. Bad. BAD. BAD. No cookie! No friggin cookie because you DID NOT COME. Ha ha. Yeah you think there’s a cookie coming, but there is NO COOKIE.”

I stood there soaked in triumph.

And she looked at me trusting and wide-eyed.

Gave her a cookie.

Who’s the asshole now?

Barbara: Oh, Deb! So funny!! This is like me and my teenaged girls. “Girls, pick up your stuff. Girls, pick up your stuff. Girls! Stuff! Pick it UPPPPPP!” Except, wait, they never look at me wide-eyed anymore. And my bribe isn’t “cookies”, it’s chai lattes. Okay, we’re back on track here—I definitely give into those even when stuff isn't picked up. Even un-wide-eyed, these girls sure are cute. Plus I’m a sucker for chai lattes (which in order to get, by the way, requires leaving said stuff-strewn house).

PS: Stay tuned for a wonderful new 3-way on Wednesday!

Friday, May 6, 2011

An Arts Fart

Barbara: I know I just ranted about our recent national election, but I have one more point I want to make that’s very near and dear to my heart.

This rant started after I heard that someone yelled to our Prime Minister right after he won the election to “kill the CBC” (something he has in fact insinuated he might do). Now for those of you readers not from this country, this is an easy catch-up (for my point). The CBC is our national public broadcaster. They produce and air mostly Canadian content. Because it is government-owned, its Canadian content is largely protected. But because taxpayers pay for it to survive, its existence is often threatened.

“Kill the CBC” is a regular call to arms from certain types. And I always wonder why. I mean, first of all it’s a business like any other, filled with employees who rely on it for their paychecks (so they can, yes, pay their taxes and boost the economy with their confident spending). These people (whether writers, actors, producers or administrators) are as worthy of jobs as the next guy. Would people line up to shout at our elected officials to “Kill Schools” or “Kill the Bank of Canada” or even “Kill GE”?

So let’s ask those taxpayers who hate it––why do you gang up on the CBC? Is it because it’s an arts’ based forum and therefore not “serious”? The CBC features TV shows and radio programs and films and news and documentaries. Are TV and radio not as worthy as, say, drilling for oil? Now I’m not going to debate the merit of any specific show, but I will ask: who doesn’t friggin watch TV, listen to music, read, or watch a movie every now and then?! I mean what would we do without our arts? We’re not talking hoity, evening-gowned snobs sipping champagne and flicking channels with manicured fingernails (although let’s presume they do too). We’re talking virtually every single ordinary one of us!

All of us rely on some form of the arts to help us get by. To make us normal, functioning members of society and not just work-oriented automatons. The arts are as vital to our survival as healthcare and education. And they make us a hell of lot more fun and interesting to be around.

Deb: I have been employed by the CBC many times in my career. I have listened to CBC radio and I grew up on everything from the Friendly Giant to Rick Mercer. The CBC gives Canadians a starting point, a common ground if you will. Is it perfect? No. What is, I ask you? When I travel the country for Little Mosque and meet the fans, I see firsthand what the CBC means to Canada. Not everyone lives in the big cities, flipping through 200plus channels.

Can you imagine for one minute, Britain scrapping the BBC? It would never happen. They hold onto their precious institutions and so should we. 

PS You can also visit Friends of the CBC

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First In A Series of ... People I Adore And Admire

Deb: There is a group of actor/ improvisers who my husband and I love. And we are not alone in our adoration. Their official title is grander than The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And yet, it fits them perfectly:

They are called, quite simply...THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE WORLD.
Photo credit: Naomi Wright
They personify everything I think an artist should be. They are inventive, inclusive, supportive, and many other “ives” that escape me momentarily. They are risk takers and investors. They take themselves seriously, and yet don’t take themselves seriously at all.

And man, do they “fan up”! They are constantly seeking out people they admire to work with and collaborate with. And when you are on stage with them, no matter how shamelessly you mug or how voraciously you upstage, or how hungrily you chew the scenery, they give it over to you. They literally “fan you up”!

I have been on the receiving end of their generosity while mugging so shamelessly as to only catch––out of the only still corner of my face––their smiling admiration.  And despite the panicked mugging born of insecurity, they “fanned me up” by inviting me to play with them again.  WHAT? And this time before performing the mugging, I took some magnesium. It abates the cramping of the face. 

But these “Theatre of the World” pepes, are endlessly creative. They make us laugh and make us proud. They are younger than us (who isn’t?) and they possess a passion for the work I wish I had when I was their age. They work it!!!!

Anytime my husband is looking at his email and I hear him say “God love them!” I know he is talking about National Theatre of the World. I’ll say, “What?” and he’ll say, “ Wow, they’ve got some new thing going.” They are the personification of “if you build it they will come”. Of course, more will come on “pay what you can” nights, but still...

The “they” in National Theatre of the World are: Matt Baram, Naomi Snieckus and Ron Pederson. Chris Gibbs and Christy Bruce are associate producers who help produce the other shows outside of the fabulous “Impromptu Splendor”, their flagship and calling card. Naomi Wright is their outreach director and play-reading director. Kudos to all for your dedication and desire.

So often in show business we are measured by our fame and our fortune. But these performers have their riches in talent and sheer creativity with a smattering of big ole’ balls. The fame and fortune will come. And if it doesn't, who cares? They are artists after all.

Barbara: Wow, Deb, I love this idea of honouring people we admire! There are so many talented people out there who deserve a special shout-out.

I know that feeling of just filling up with pride when my pepes shine—whether it’s on stage, on paper, or around the dining table. So many people out there are just wells of amazing, sometimes unexpected (and often not wholly tapped) wonder.

Thanks, Deb, for sharing with us your treasure trove.

Link here for The National Theatre of the World's Canadian Comedy Award winning cult hit variety hour; The Carnegie Hall Show is proud to present a very special night on May 4th at 8pm at the Bread and Circus. A star-studded jam packed glorious night to raise funds for Impromptu Splendor's up coming Script-Tease Project.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Right To Vote

Barbara: We have an election in Canada today and it seems like a good time to vent my frustration about all things political.

What happened to the gentlemen and women of politics?! I mean, where is the decency, the honour, the honesty, the compassion? When will our politicians be transparent? When will they do what they say they’re going to do after they get elected?

I know there are probably legit answers to all of these questions: politicians were never gentle; decency, honour, honesty and compassion don’t win votes; transparency is “dangerous”; and battling parties prevent the one in government from doing what it said it would do. Blah blah blah. And bullshit!

And here’s another big question: why are so many political platforms run on money issues and not on issues that shape the quality of our lives? Who among us hasn’t realized that on our death beds we will NOT be counting our filthy, crumpled dollar bills with maniacally gleeful grins on our faces, but will be looking around at our loved ones (hopefully) and being glad for a life well-lived, one filled with love and compassion, both outwardly given and self-directed???

So why do so many of us roar and cry over money money money when it comes to our governments? “We shouldn’t share it; we shouldn’t give it away; we shouldn’t take care of each other because if we’re not careful, we will go broke and will therefore be unhappy, so let’s hoard all our bucks in the coffers of our biggest businesses and government basements.” Why is it that money is always the one to talk? I wish it would shut its big fat mouth and let us quietly contemplate for a moment what we want to say on our deathbeds about our countries.

When will our politicians work together instead of fighting each other like schoolyard brats and work instead like gentlemen and women toward a common good? When will our politicians—all of them, not just a few unelectable ones—realize that this would be our greatest legacy?

Listen. I get that our economies are always of some concern. But can’t we have our cake and eat it too? Can’t we look to how we need to support each other, whether through healthcare, employment, environmental safety and support systems, and raise these issues up first—just like we would do if we were addressing issues in the smaller circle of our families?

Okay, and so why, as voters, do we not fight harder for the honour of our politics? Why do so few of us go to the polls and vote? In Canada and the U.S. the average is around 60%. Really?! 40% of us don’t care enough about the outcome of our elections to get off our butts and spend a few minutes in line to help shape our countries?

Let’s demand better from ourselves and our representatives. And vote. Our voices together do make a difference.

Deb: I could not have even begun to express this better than you have. Your words are reflecting the conversations going on in our home and in the homes of friends.

I never thought I would get to the point where politics would repel me, where the players would all bore/sicken and stun me.

But I will say this.

Despite my boredom regards the players in this election, I am proud to say that I can walk into a voting station today and cast my vote. This civic duty will continue to be dear to me, its significance will not be lost on me, its importance will not be overlooked.

SO VOTE YA BASTARDS. I don’t give a damn who you vote for, just vote. 

PS: On a lighter note, we published a new deco tip and recipe on our other pages.