Saturday, May 28, 2011

I started this entry on Memorial Day Weekend, then continued it on the weekend after. Now, it's Wednesday, June 8. But first, I must post this. On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, I stopped by Starbucks, then walked back to my car to put a package inside it. Then, I went to get a manicure in the same shopping area. Afterward, when I got into my car, I noticed this on my windshield. Usually, I'd give something like this a wind up, but it just speaks for itself:

Note Left on My Car

Contact information obscured to protect the completely guilty. I like that in case I didn't know who he was, he rendered what I'm sure is an incredible likeness of himself.

Memorial Day:

Car serviced, check. Plants, soil, trellises and ceramic pot purchased, check. So far, I've been productive this Memorial Day weekend. I plan to pot said plant, which is a winter blooming honeysuckle, tonight and set it in front of my nook window. It's a climber, and that's what the trellis is for. It will offer a little more privacy as well. I mentioned in another post that I'm making a little creative/writer's nook in my apartment. The area where I'm doing it was my desk area, and I started the whole thing by putting burlap on my walls.

IMG_3308This was my first incarnation of creating subtle tones in the area, but the idea for an actual nook, especially one in my shoebox sized apartment, came later.

As you can see, the carpeting created a design problem. At first, I added white moulding at the bottom which did wonders, but that created a problem for the seams where I'd stapled the burlap pieces onto the wall. I'd dressed up the bottom, and that called attention to the seams. After some unsuccessful tests on how to cover them, I lucked out during a trip to Michael's when I noticed they had some unfinished wood trim. Ding ding! The ideas started flowing and since it was cheap, I picked up a few patterns. I took a burlap piece to Home Depot and picked a stain I thought would work. I then bought unfinished moulding at Home Depot and removed the white, which is now leaning against the wall behind my bathroom door. I applied the stain, then installed it. Usually, I'm not a fan of darker moulding and trims, but the rustic feel of the burlap just seemed to demand it. After top, trim and bottom were in place, I installed new curtain hardware and hung Restoration Hardware curtains and sheers.

Badly lit pic of my burlap wall, right side of the alcove.Next task, was to remove the ghastly vertical blinds that came with the apartment. People, vertical blinds are a bad 80s leftover with absolutely no redeeming qualities. It is your duty to society to remove them, as maybe together we can rid the world of this blight. However, if you live in an apartment, make sure you don't damage them and that you give them to whomever takes care of maintenance, or to the landlord. And, return them with every single part included. I put all the small parts into a Ziploc bag, then removed the blinds, stacked them and taped everything to the rack. I returned both sets to the landlord, neatly packaged and easy to transport. They still hang on my bedroom window, but my curtains cover them. I'm looking to remove them from there as well, but since I live on a somewhat busy street, haven't found a solution to that nice extra barrier between me and the sporadic noise during busy times. I'm looking at noise-reducing curtains for that.

Atticus basks in sunshineClose up of rugNext, I had to solve the carpet problem, so the hunt for a neutral-colored Oriental rug began. That took a few weeks, finally settling on this rug which matched both the burlap and the curtains. Yeah, I sort of did it backward. The rug has beautiful olive and blush rose tones, and covers the entire area except a small patch before the entry into the kitchen.

As always, when you drastically change something in your decor, you expose opportunities for improvement in other areas. In this case, it was what was on the wall. I love my playbills but I wanted something more writer themed or unique. Also, the Playbills are from another period in my life, when I lived in New York City and was in college. When I think of the great divide between that person and me now, it's staggering. Being a new quest, I wanted something that signified the start of it, not where I've already been. After several unsuccessful trips to flea markets and stores to find suitable art for the area, somehow, back in the memory banks, I remembered, where I found these awesome prints on antique book pages. I picked out some frames and mattes for them, and they look wonderful with the perfect mix of whimsy, inspiration, mystery and sense of history. These came from a woman in Spain, and were delivered about a week after I ordered them.
Pictures from EtsyPictures from Etsy

After some more rearranging, these are the latest pictures of my nook.

My new file cabinet from Horchow I moved the rocking chair out of the corner to open the area up and provide a place for my new file cabinet from Horchow. Yes, that's a file cabinet. The top opens up and has file cabinet hardware. I just absolutely love it and it's perfect in the nook. I've also been working on the outside of the nook. Just outside the window, you can vaguely see a plant and trellis where I put the honeysuckle. It provides a nice barrier between me and the courtyard/pool area, which can be an eyesore. I also bought a Bose dock for my iPod because I needed a decent music player. It's on the bottom shelf of the file cabinet, where it's unobtrusive. I plan to reupholster the vanity bench and restain it. Below are more pictures of the nook. Click on them for larger images. So far, I'm really happy with the result.

Things are coming togetherPretty Lantern from Pottery Barn

Tray from Pottery BarnMy new candles

You may view even more of the nook and its progress here. I'm going to try to get some way "before" pictures, so you can see the transformation. Shannon had taken some before I even moved in when another apartment that I'd chosen during a visit to Los Angeles from Baltimore didn't work out. I've tasked him with looking through his archives, so we'll see what he comes up with. Back in Baltimore, I'd found my current apartment on Craigslist and arranged for him to photograph it so I could see it in detail before making a decision. I'll also add any pictures I dig up that document the process.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the Rose Bowl Flea Market to look for more accent pieces and decor. Not just for the nook, but for my apartment. I'm excited and hope I score some great finds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My heartfelt condolences to those of you in Joplin, MO, which was hit by a devastating tornado on Sunday. So far, the death toll is at 116, an astounding figure. A third of the town is gone, if not more. When I was a kid, we passed through Joplin many times on our travels. If you want to have just a hint of what the terror was like, watch this video, taken by a Joplin resident as the tornado hit a convenience store that he was in. You can see just how black it is outside, and it's the middle of the day.

What I'm struck by is all these people were strangers minutes before, yet when they knew the shit was going to hit the fan, looked out for each other as if they were family and pulled together to make sure everyone had the best chance to survive as they endured the most terrifying moment of their lives.

And, here's a Flickr set of photos from a young man who photographed the destruction in his neighborhood minutes after the disaster.

I'd just posted about the rarity of tornadoes killing so many. There have been two record-breaking killer tornadoes in the last month alone. The death toll this year from tornadoes is almost at 500.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Last Saturday, I went to my friend Cody Deal's viewing party to watch his debut as the title character in The Asylum's "Almighty Thor" on the SyFy Channel. I met Cody through LA Fitness when he was working as a Fitness Pro specialist at the company. I'd asked to speak to someone regarding the personal training, and the receptionist called for "Cody," over the loudspeaker. A couple minutes later, Thor approached me and shook my hand. Tall, blonde, handsome with a physique ready for a Men's Health cover shoot, Cody instantly brought to mind the Norse god. I smiled as I thought, "Thor is signing me up for personal training. Welcome back to LA." As we talked, I learned he was from Kansas, and that there was more to him than his resemblance to the God of Thunder. Little did I know, that Cody had actually scored an audition for the role of Thor in the Paramount Pictures release and had been given a serious look from the director.

Since that meeting, I watched him literally, give up everything...and I mean everything, to pursue his craft, which included walking away from his job and immersing himself in acting classes, getting a team behind him and marketing the hell out of himself. If you've got your wits about you, Los Angeles offers a lot of opportunities to make a living...even a good one. For those of us pursuing a craft, this can be one of those "good" problems. You can support yourself, but the comforts of a steady paycheck can lure you off the path to achieving your goals. This was Cody's case--he was making good money, but it was not what he'd come here to do. So, he took that blind step off the cliff and hoped there would be water at the bottom. Watching him in Almighty Thor, it was great to see this first inception of his dream realized. Yes, the reference was intentional.

Cody Deal as Thor in SyFy's "Almighty Thor."

For those of you that aren't familiar with The Asylum films, they produce "mockbusters" that you see on the SyFy Channel. You know, the shows that have you asking aloud, "What is this?" Your answer comes in the form of The Terminators, Mega Piranha, Snakes on a Train, and so on. An Asylum film is also the only incarnation where you'll see Thor chasing his nemesis Loki down a graffiti-marked street in battered downtown Los Angeles, firing an uzi. Being a Norse god used to more primitive fighting, I give him props for adjusting to the culture in LA so quickly.

It's always a little nerve wracking to see someone you know perform. What if they are just awful and you're stuck fumbling for compliments? Thankfully, I didn't have to face that predicament. Cody hit his marks not only physically as Thor, but brought heart, sincerity and a vulnerability to the role, standing toe to toe with veteran actors like Richard Greico ('memba him from 21 Jump Street?) and Patricia Valasquez. He'd clearly researched and approached the character as complex and not just a two-dimensional muscled Visigoth wielding the Hammer of Invincibility. Many times as we watched, I'd forgotten he was right in the room with us, watching along, which is a real credit to an actor. It means that he became the character, who was different from the guy sitting on the couch across the room. A few times, we applauded a particularly emotional quality he brought to a scene that someone who had just been hired for their muscles would have stumbled through or glossed over. Simply put, he was believable, and rocked the role as Thor.

If you want to know the lengths to which Cody went to pursue his craft, read his blog, Hollywood and Beyond. Much of it he kept secret until he wrote about it there. I was pretty blown away, as I'd run into him a few times during the worst and had no idea of his circumstances. However, like all of us who have been through the worst, and those of you who have read my blog through the years know you can count me among the "been through a rough patch or two" crowd, it's how you face it, fight it, and though it may open a can of whoop ass and leave you battered, never let it get the better of you. Especially when all seems lost.

Keep an eye on this one as he's going places. Here are some TV screen shots I took of Cody in Almighty Thor while watching.

Watching Cody Deal as Thor in "Almighty Thor"

Face Off between Thor and Loki on "Almighty Thor."Cody Deal as Thor in SyFy's "Almighty Thor."

Sword fight in Almighty ThorMr. Deal is ready for his close up in "Almighty Thor."