dani talks earth day

earth-day-people

You guys!!  We live on this really really rad planet!

Holy crap, you guys.  I’m completely serious right now: this MAY BE my absolute favorite holiday.  Ever. In fact, this holiday is so great that a lot of people don’t just celebrate Earth Day they celebrate Earth Week.  It’s like 7 Christmases.  

There are so many incredible things about our planet!

If you haven’t seen Planet Earth, stop reading this blog immediately and go watch it.  Right now.  I’m not kidding.

There is something so refreshing to me to have a day when everybody just kind of looks around them and goes, “Damn, this planet is nice.”  Although the  “green movement” has moved into the mainstream in the past ten years, most days out of the year, environmentalists are still seen as kind of a fringe group.  A bunch of damn hippies.  Most stuff that claims to be “green” is just trying to capitalize on a marketing ploy, and since environmental change on a mass scale would likely mean mass change in lifestyle/culture, it is seen as being extremist to be an environmentalist.

But on Earth Day, everyone gets to be a hippie, no matter what their political affiliation or ideology or whatever.  

On actual Earth Day (Monday, April 22) I didn’t actually have the most exciting earth day.  But I did get so excited ABOUT Earth Day yesterday that I spent two hours this morning writing this post.  All I got to do yesterday was fill out the volunteer paperwork for an organization called Tree People, and participate in Southern California Public Radio’s Earth Day challenge, both activities I crammed into moments between class/rehearsal/homework.  But this weekend I am determined to see something beautiful and plant something in the earth!  I will report back and let you know how it goes!  YAY EARTH WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tumblr_le3nu9QUKW1qct8mq

The thing is, since I moved to LA, I’ve been researching ways to get involved in activism or volunteer work for the environment, and I’ve had a difficult time getting it figured out down here.  In Portland, there are amazing volunteer organizations like SOLVE and Friends of Trees that are super easy to get involved with.  Just check out their websites, find an event that works for you, show up, grab a shovel, and get to work.  It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning, especially if you have a friend you can bring with you.  Even the Occupy movement in Portland is incredibly approachable and kind, and I had a great time volunteering with their Food and Garden team, an amazing group of people who believe in revolution through reconnection with our food and our planet.  

So what have I found down in LA?  There are a lot of people and a lot of environmental issues, and as an outsider trying to find my way in, there is an abundance of random groups, misinformation, and white noise.  According to the American Lung Association, Los Angeles has the worst air quality in the nation.  In fact, of the top 11 cities with the worst air, 9 of them are in California.  Air quality is directly related to water quality, so the water situation in LA is downright bleak as well. We treat the little water we have (Los Angeles is a coastal desert that is draining the Colorado River for water) with no respect.  

oh rodney. you don’t even need to say it.

In California, we have all this incredibly beautiful land and it has been completely taken over by industrial pollution and agriculture.  The most jarring thing about living in LA to me is the fact that it LOOKS so beautiful with the vast expanses of ocean and hills and forest and desert and farmland, but all this land is on a knife’s edge with how we are using it. 

I’m taken back to my belief that it’s a problem of compartmentalization.  The public dialogue about the environment automatically assumes that the environment is something SEPARATE FROM HUMANS.  But the truth is, we are all animals, baby. 

 It is a biological fact.  We are another manifestation of Carbon–part of the circle of life.  It is impossible to ask the question, “What can I do for the environment?” because you’re already doing something for the environment BY EXISTING.  The problem is that as a species we’re not doing a good job of existing right now.  We think that we live ON the planet when we really are part of it in an incredibly physical, tangible way.  I think that we get so lost up inside our heads, though, that we forget.  Our consciousness, the thing that separates us from the rest of the mammals, makes us forget that we are mammals, and we exist because we are part of an ecological system.  

So people who work for the health of the environment are labeled as hippies, as outliers, and the mainstream of thought is focused on how to keep everything about our lives the same for as long as possible–all our disposable belongings, plastics, chemicals, Styrofoams, electronics, cars, hot showers, low-quality beef for 3 meals a day, golf courses in the desert…  How does “going green” fit MY lifestyle?  I do this just as often as the next guy–it’s incredibly difficult NOT to in LA.  I’m still trying to figure out how it’s possible to be environmentally ethical while living here.  (…Any input is happily accepted, blogosphere.)

On the bright side, here are some cool developments that people have been working on using their big, fancy, conscious human brains!  

You’ll notice that with all the LA-related stuff, no one wants to pay for these ideas, but I’m choosing at this moment to focus on the positive signs of progress!  

In conclusion, HAPPY EARTH WEEK EVERYBODY!  Get outside, breathe in some fresh air, look at something beautiful, and if you can, do something nice for the planet.  On behalf of myself and Britt,

xoxo

–Dani

dani talks electronic gadgets

When I was a kid, and DVDs first came out, I was convinced that this new-fangled DVD thing was just a fad and eventually we’d all come to our senses and go back to using VHS tapes like normal, sane human beings.  When my parents actually bought a DVD player, I insisted that we retain the VCR so that we would be prepared to continue watching video tapes forever.  Like normal, sane human beings.

Years later, I may be the last middle-class-white-23-year-old-girl in America to jump on the SmartPhone wagon.  For a long time, I really disliked them.  I’m gonna go ahead and let Louis C.K. explain why:

The stuff that Louis C.K. points out is still relevant.  There is a danger in having something that constantly tempts you out of living in the present moment.  It can rob you of real experiences.  BUT!  I have finally come to terms with the fact that smartphones are also…really fuckin cool.  My parents, both being smart people and engineers, once again saw the technological light before I did and got them some FancyPhones.  On my roadtrip to LA last August with my Mom, she kept trying to activate my brick-like cell phone by poking at the hard plastic screen with her finger.  This did not work.  

Meet my Mom:

Susie and Dani, Boise to LA Roadtrip 2012

Susie and Dani, Boise to LA Roadtrip 2012

You will notice that this picture was taken out in the woods and that we are working with a broken digital camera whose shudder doesn’t open all the way.  Maybe the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree, come to think of it.  

I first began to see the Flashlight App a little less than a year ago, when my Mom actually started to BECOME my smartphone.  Dear, sweet Susie, started to receive phone calls like this:

D: “Hey, Mom, I’m at a gig in Spokane and my agent emailed me a map this morning but I don’t have my laptop or internet access and I’m wandering around Gonzaga and I don’t know where to go and it’s making me late and can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check my email for me?”

Mom: “Ummmm… Yeah! Okay… Let me just….”

D: *Panicked rambling and pointless babble*

Mom: “Uh huh… And this is your Gmail account?”

D: “YES BLARGH GMAIL AGGGGGHHHHH”

Mom: “Okay let me get to the gmail page…”

D: **More incoherent explanation and impatient babble**

Mom: “Alright, then, what’s your password?  Do you mind if I have your password?”

D: **Long explanation of an overly complicated password with like 8 numbers and punctuation and capitalized letters**

Mom: “…”

D: **More explanations.  Panic starts to really set in.**

Mom:  “Why is your password so complicated?”

D:  “Because you and Dad are engineers and you trained me to make super secure passwords!!”

At this point, Susie patiently and kindly navigates me through my email and gets me where I need to go.  After all, who else could I call to do such a thing for me?  Not only is your Mom like the only person on the planet who will never be annoyed when you call, even if it is for a totally stupid reason, but since my Mom happens to be an engineer, she is at a computer all day, ready to help out her hapless daughter.  

As much as I have loved having a Mom-smartphone, I’m finally recognizing that it might be useful for me to join the 21st century.  Especially as an actor.  If you are gonna be a freelancer, you have to be your own manager, and the technology to do that is pretty instrumental.  Soooo…. FINE.  I’ll do it, already.  What kind of a cave-woman would I have been??

“What the fuck is that scary round thing?  

99 wheel-thumb-240x229-94707

Fuck that!  I will drag things across the ground with brute force! FOREVER!!!!!”  

So now that my Verizon contract is renewing and I get mad discounts on a phone upgrade, I’m going to swallow my Luddite pride and get me a fancyphone of my very own.  Sorry fellow luddites, I will fear technology no more!

The only problem is that now I have to make a decision.  Not just any decision, but a decision about technology, and how I want to upgrade myself.  I am in wayyyyy over my head you guys.  I googled “iPhone vs. Droid and found links to articles that said shit like:

“There is CDMA, HSPA, and international LTE. And you can get it in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. There’s still no NFC or wireless charging, however.” 

WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN??  What makes them think I will understand any of that??  If I were the kind of person who understood any of that, I would probably already have a smart phone and I wouldn’t need to be googling this.  And please do not take this as an invitation to try to explain any of those things to me.  We will both end up frustrated and confused, I promise.  

However, I do want to pose the following questions to y’all:  Do you have smartphones?  What’s the deal with those?  How do I make this decision?

And now I leave you with this video, because for some reason, I really relate to this lady.  

britt goes viral

The Internet is a strange place.
—-
You may recall my mention of a short film project I was shooting with Chris R. Wilson of We’ll Fix It In Post Productions in my last post. The film starts out with this introduction: “Cleverbot.com has been touted as one of the most advanced artificial intelligences ever. The website allows users to chat with the A.I. Cleverbot. But how good is it, really? I sat down with Cleverbot and collaborated on a movie script. What follows is a movie written by a machine.”
—-
Chris emailed me about this idea on a Wednesday night while I was pleasantly tipsy enjoying a Backfence PDX event with my friend Suzzane. The whole concept sounded hilarious to me at the time. Or maybe the booze made it seem like a funnier idea than Sober Britt would have thought. But whatever, I promptly emailed back, “I’m in”. Thank you, two pitchers of McMenamins Ruby Beer.
—-
We woke up early that Saturday morning and drove out to a forest East of Portland in the freezing cold. We put on crazy costumes, talked in crappy English accents and exclaimed complete nonsensical dialogue while hikers looked back at us in shock at a distance. The six of us shared a bag of Lays chips (thanks, craft services!) and I mistakenly sat on Zach Persson’s PB&J sandwiches (which he’s probably now selling on e-Bay) and we successfully wrapped in a few hours. It was rad.  ‘Twas a perfect Saturday to run around in the woods with your friends doing crazy shit. I drove home happily afterwards to a warm shower and a three-hour nap.
—-
But what came of all this was kind of insane.
Our little video about artificial intelligence blew up and in under a week achieved over 117,000 views and was written-up by popular blogs and news sites such as reddit, mashable, Daily of The Day, The Laughing SquidAnimal New YorkBuzzfeed, and The Huffington Post.

Cleverbot

Cleverbot his/herself even put us on the home page of their site! Hello! Nerd Alert!
Cleverbot Home Page
My favorite media quote reads: “Cleverbot wrote an amazing short film called “Do You Love Me”. It’s Academy Award material. And, Cleverbot? The answer is yes, obviously.” Thanks, Buzzfeed! Oh, Internet, where will you take me next?
187
Seriously, Interwebs, you be CRAY.
—-
So, at the risk of beating this video to death….here is this Virus of a Video in case you missed it. Cause you know what? Eff it. I am going to enjoy every second of this 15 minutes of fame. Once I move to LA, I may very well drop off of the grid and into the soul-sucking abyss that is the inner-circle of actor hell forever…Ever..everrr.. .(Echo echo)…
…just kidding.

Not kidding. Sort of kidding. Maybesortofkiddingidontknow. Whatever, Just WATCHIT.

And although the explosion of this video in Interweb-Land made me waste many an hour sitting at my desk at the ‘ol day job this week, I was up to some other shit besides Robot-Cinema as well:
My Week

Rehearsal and prep work for the feature-film Birds of Neptune have been keeping me pretty busy. As indicated by the photo below, I think I had a bit too much fun at our makeup/camera test this past Saturday:

Molly Elizabeth Parker & I are sisters in real life, apparently.

Molly Elizabeth Parker & I are sisters in real life, apparently.

Seriously, we are escapees from the asylum in this one. Aaaand to cleanse your palate from that frightening image, here is a less-frightening one:
(c) John Campbell

Photo by John Campbell


I was also lucky enough to get back on the horse for NBC’s Grimm this week. I auditioned and got called back for a guest star who was… in her 30’s. Seeing as how I’m playing an 18-year-old in the movie I am working on currently, I have no idea how I come across in terms of age for casting anymore. Maybe this is a good thing. I don’t know. Mostly I am just constantly having an identity crisis. Typical actor.

In other news, the show I am producing with my theatre company (Theatre Vertigois in tech! I am so excited for The Velvet Sky to open this weekend. It is going to be a beautiful and jarring journey. And all y’all Portlanders should go see it.

Anywhoo… my mind is exploding with all of the crazy-awesomeness that is my life this week.
tumblr_inline_mg19idHdoj1rnbgkp
…Yup, kinda like that.
And all of this busy kind of makes me forget that I am living in a closet in my brother’s basement.
I’ll take it.

Best of luck in your journeys this week, my friends!
~Britt