Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That's right; we've got a dramaturg.

The production of Oedipus the Tyrant (which I'm in) that will be going up in mid-February has its own blog being run by our dramaturg.


Word of the day: dramaturg.

Just so you know, spell-check doesn't even recognize that word.

Hey, you responsibler traveler!

"Hey, it's 24 hours before your flight back to Chicago which hopefully will not be delayed by inclement weather! Have you checked in online?"

Shit yeah, I have; I'm a responsible adult who knows how to use the internet!

"Have you secured transport to the airport/paid some dude in a van to come pick you up because you're too insecure to bug your friends for a ride?"

You know it.

"Have you had all the Christmas presents you bought online for your family sent to their house so you don't need to be bothered by traveling with them?"

Damn right.

"Have you packed?"


Monday, December 13, 2010

A nice way to start the day.

No, it wasn't the sore throat I woke up with after hanging around outside in a halter dress at midnight one a shoot last night, and it wasn't the extra 20 minutes I spent sitting in traffic on the 101 this morning. Once I got in to work, I found this message on my Facebook account...

Hello! This is a random message from an audience member from one of your recent shows.

I'm just coming by to tell you that yours was my favorite performance of the night. It was really well written and delivered, and it stood out to me even among the other really well written and delivered pieces that night.

Do you dabble in writing often, or are you primarily an actress?

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful performance!

(not posting the person's name out of respect for privacy, politeness, etc.)

My hectic schedule feels a little more justified now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hell isn't other people -- TEMPTATION is other people.

Well, that was a big pile of fail.

Started good, rockin' the smoothie and salad for breakfast and lunch. I even cooked my dinner ahead of time and brought it with me. The thing was, I didn't have enough time between my matinee and my evening shoot to eat it. So I left it in my car. Then I was hungry. Then the director ordered pizza. Had a couple slices, but I had blown my experiment.

Then I jumped back on the wagon this morning -- smoothie, made my salad to bring with me in case I had to go from my morning shoot to my matinee. Then the shoot wrapped early and I came home. And I was working diligently, planning to bust into the salad soon, when Matt came in and asked if I wanted anything from In-N-Out Burger.

And by god, I did.

I'm eating healthy tonight for dinner, so whatever.

Here are my thoughts:

1) Planning meals is not my style.
2) Eating something junky now and then isn't the end of the world if you eat mostly good stuff.
3) Walnuts taste really good covered in balsamic vinegar.
4) If you leave a container of broccoli and fish in your car for 6 hours, your car will smell like a fart the next time you drive it.
5) Trader's Joe's vanilla protein powder is pretty damn tasty.
6) The word "matinee" is easily misread as "manatee."
7) I really like making lists, don't I?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a #2 Animal Style with an iced tea waiting for me...

Friday, December 3, 2010

I am Dana's flagrant lack of regiment.

For serious, guys.

I am very much a creature of habit, but only in kind of a territorial way. I like to sit in the same places and have things that are "mine," I'm good in long-term relationships... but that's about it. When it comes to my day-to-day activities, I SUCK at doing the same thing every day at any given time. Can't consistently get up to exercise. If I do, I can't do the same exercises more than a couple days a week. Don't like to eat the same thing too many days in a row. God help me if I'm required to take prescription medication at a set time every day.

(Sidenote: This is hilarious to me because my boyfriend basically eats the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. This baffles me.)

I'm going to set myself a goal.
A teeny tiny goal.

Some Yahoo dietitian (by which I mean she had an article posted on Yahoo, not that she herself is a yahoo) posted some 3-day detox thing, which I saw and said, "Yeah, I can do that!" Only 3 days. Smoothie in the morning. Big ol' salad with nuts and beans in the afternoon. Fish and veggies at night. Shit yeah, I can do that.

But like... CAN I?

In theory, I totally can. But I'm wondering if I can be organized enough to ACTUALLY do this for a few days. I'm wondering if I can find a way to NOT succumb to my whims; my general eating patterns usually go something like, "Oh, food!" -> eat, work, think about other things... "Oh, food!", etc. Now, this "Oh, food!" thing could happen as infrequently as a few times a day or as often as every half-hour. I am terrible about non-meal eating. There are days I don't even really have meals. For the most part, I eat whatever is leftover in the fridge when I'm at work, since there's almost always SOMETHING at my office. As of 10:45 this morning, I've eaten 2 servings of fruit crumble and 3 breadsticks.

This cannot stand.
I'm gonna break the cycle.
You know... for about 3 days, 2 of which are definitely not at work (possibly 3, as I may be on jury duty Monday), not to mention there will be very little at-home time. (That's partly good -- no lazy snacking -- and partly bad -- the urge to grab a bite at a random restaurant is very strong.)

Let's see if this goes as well as my plans to blog about my high school reunion -- maybe I'll do that once I'm on my winter break...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A series of swift blasts from the past.

So the other day, in anticipation of this weekend's impending reunion, my friend Kate posted a picture of herself, myself, and our buddy Katie from graduation day 2000.


(Sidenote: Why must we, on such a day of celebration, be forced to wear such universally unattractive hats? Can we let this tradition die? PLEASE?)

So I posted a pic of my own that I found laying around...

And then this morning, she posted 3 new ones...

Man. Old school. LITERALLY.

(I think I'll have to post a new round of my own when I get home...)

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Oooh, I should blog about this."

My high school reunion is coming up. If ever there were a topic worth blogging about, this is it. Not serious enough to constitute serious thought and prose, and yet potentially bizarre in an oh-so-relate-able way.

Only I'm not there yet. I'm just writing this here now so I remember to write about it later. So here's my reminder to myself:

Hey Future Dana! I'm sure hoping that in the last few days, flying cars and teleportation devices have been invented. But in the event they haven't, don't forget to write about your high school reunion here, on your blog. I'm sure that the 5 people who occasionally check in on your oft-neglected blog would really be interested to hear about it.

Which reminds me... why HAVEN'T you written anything since July? I mean, you haven't had a show running and you just started rehearsals recently. So what gives? You know, I don't know if you're responsible enough to handle a blog, Dana.

You hear that? You're too irresponsible to BLOG. That's impressive.

Okay, now get back to work, Present Dana. And Future Dana... for god's sake, you better be teleporting to the 20-year reunion.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fair enough...

"Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough -- that we should try again."
--Julia Cameron

I can buy that...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crave Cafe: Lead Us Not Into McDonalds, But Deliver Us From Taco Bell

Who hasn't had that "It's 3a.m., I'm in the Valley, I'm hungry... Fast food it is!"-rationale slice through their brain. It's inevitable, it's the only option.

Until now.

The beauty of the Crave Cafe is that it's the kind of 24-hour place you'd still want to go, grab some food, sip a tea on the couch, or linger with friends even during normal human business hours. The space is simple but chill, and their menu... Frankly, it's impressive that they're able to stay in business considering their long hours and long list of quality options.

First off, let's walk into Crave -- there's an outdoor seating area with some warming lamps (essential for those native Californians who start to shake the second it gets below 70 degrees), an endearingly haphazard main seating area, and a couple of overstuffed couches on the sides. Off to the left is... oh my, a line of frozen yogurt machines! Straight ahead... dear me, a glass case displaying individually sized (if you're hungry) quiches, colorful mugs of fruit, and layer cakes that might make a first-timer weep. Just looking at the Godiva chocolate cake is enough to send a person into a choco-overdose; stare too long at the Blue Velvet cake, and it's burned into your mind forever.

Once you make it to the counter, your options expand to crepes, panini, omelettes, salads... Again, NOT your standard late-night fare. Anyone who's ever subjected themselves to a Denny's Grand Slam after a particularly late night can appreciate the beauty in having real-food options, even in the wee hours. Peel your eyes away from the massive wall menu to take in the smaller board perched on the counter -- a Nutella menu. Get it on a croissant, in a sandwich (sourdough is HIGHLY recommended), with fruit, whatever. The chocolate-hazelnut spread has some serious devotees (including a certain reviewer), so offering it to a 24-hour crowd is just really smart.

The beverage selection is also lovely, including an array of coffees, teas, juices, and fancy-pants bottled drinks. Also worth mentioning is the fruit cup. Now you might ask, "What on Earth is so special about a fruit cup?" This isn't a sad ramekin loaded with cantaloupe, honeydew, and other filler-fruit staples. These large mugs are stuffed to the brim with watermelon, strawberries, mango, pineapple -- the pieces you'd save for the sacred last few bites if it were any other fruit salad. It's little things like that which set this place apart.

The food itself? It's good. Now, this is not to say anyone's reinventing the wheel here, but this is quality food that is reliable and tasty, won't send you into pangs of post-Burger-King regret, and you can get it any time (EXCEPT Sunday nights after midnight; they gotta shut it down at some point). As previously mentioned, their ability as a 1.5-year-old cafe to keep the doors open is itself impressive in this day and age when even celebrity chefs have trouble making a new restaurant last and Starbucks' and Subway's pop up on every other corner.

So whether it's a lazy morning, a light lunch, or something to satisfy you as you head home crazy-late (you party animal), Crave is worth a stop.

Crave Cafe
14504 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Abuelitas: ROAD TRIP!

Here's a trip I took to Abuelita's Cucina Familiar in Topanga Canyon a while back for the Progressive Dinner Drives video series. (Who shot the video? That would be the talented Steve Yager!)

Cucina Bene: What Happens When I'm Hungry

Here's what happened...

I was on my second attempt at trying to hit the Blue Dog Tavern. I walked into the place -- farther than I got last time when I had car trouble en route -- and said, "NOPE!" It was packed. And I was hungry. So. Very. Hungry.

Luckily, in the vicinity (on Sepulveda, south of Ventura Blvd.) is a short strip of restaurants and storefronts. Being far too ravenous to make a decision, I left it to my dining companion. "Indian, sushi, or Italian?" He picked Italian, which is how I ended up at Cucina Bene.

Now the translation of "Cucina Bene" is basically "upper-class kitchen." (And yes, I just looked that up online.) If I knew that going in, I probably would have been even more disappointed than I ultimately was.

It all started so well. We walked in. We sat down. We ignored the table of screeching 40-somethings and perused the menus. A plate of quickie amuse-bouche items was dropped off for us -- a pleasant surprise! I reached for the least readily identifiable one; black olive tapenade (VERY finely pureed). Not bad. The white bean and tomato ones were also quite tasty. Ooh, small garlicky rolls! "Score," thought I.

Meh. Lukewarm. Chewy. Clearly the victims of having sat too long under a warming lamp.

Out comes soup and salad. The mixed salad was both mixed and a salad, dressed in what I cannot describe as anything but "house" dressing. My companion didn't fare so well, with a bowl of carrot-artichoke soup that really tasted of nothing but salt. Hmmm...

Seduced by a the seafood lineup of "Tiger Shrimp, Mussels, Clams and Scallops," I caved to the Sapore di Mare. Allow me to dramatize my encounter:

Dana: Whoa! Um, okay... So, tell me a bit more about yourself.
Dana: Yes, I can taste that. Very seafoody. What else?
Dana: Clearly. And I like your noodles. But wait, what's that I taste...?
Dana: Ah yes, that's it.

Now don't get me wrong; I love me some tomato sauce. Can't get enough of it. And because of that, I fully recognize how good as well as how potentially bland it can be if you're not trying (having made plenty of bland tomato sauce in moments of laziness myself). Which brings me to a major, over-arching (if not somewhat tangential) point.

This place seems torn between trying too hard and not trying at all. For example, the decor. It tries very hard to emulate what reads in America as a southern Italian classy-yet-rustic vibe; there was a textured faux-finish on the walls (decently done) and the majority of the place looked nice. And then on each table was a solid plastic flower-ish object. Not even trying; I've seen better fake foliage at Steak 'n Shake. (OK, I made that up, but you get the point.)

So the food. My Sapore di Mare had mussels that were nicely cooked and had one shell removed (thanks, easier that way!), clams with hardly any meat in them (eh, I GUESS that's not their fault), scallops (lovely), and shrimp with the texture of pencil erasers. Seriously. It's not hard to cook shrimp properly, but all too easy to overcook 'em. This was a case of just not trying.

Finally, my companion had the Penne all'Arrabbiata, a dish I really like... generally. This was just a plain yet slightly spicy tomato sauce. The only saving grace was the sausage (crumbled, not linked) he had added to it; that provided some flavor lacking in, well, everything else.

However, the staff was very sweet, and our server was personable and a little jokey, but still very professional. So there's that.

But here's the thing: the quality and the price definitely didn't line up. I have no problem putting down some cash for a good meal; food is one of my great joys in life, thus it's worth indulging now and then. This? Not making the Worth-It List.

And this is why you never tell someone, "I don't care! I just want food!" Because inevitably, you will get that -- just food.

Cucina Bene
4511 Sepulveda Blvd.
Sherman Oks, CA 91403

Chego: Bowl Full of Heat or Hype?

So, let's bask for a minute in the uncertainty of the "did she like it or not?" moment.


Alright, now that's over with.

As a die-hard fan of the Kogi Truck -- there's a reason I tolerate the rapid-fire stream of location tweets cluttering my Twitter feed on a daily basis -- I, of course, had sky-high expectations of the place. What Roy Choi does with flavor is a bit like a symphony orchestra playing Hendrix (on electric guitars... with their teeth) -- the fundamentals are high-class, but the soul is there, with much respect paid to the ingredients.

So one spectacular summer night, I find myself in Culver City, looking for dinner. Jackpot. I locate Chego (the super-cute bright orange sign certainly helps), park on the street (the lot is tiny, but welcome to L.A.), and walk my happy self to the door.

Once in, I see that the place is hopping. There's a communal table space (mostly commandeered by a big group), a stool/bench area (usually my preference, but some rogue children from the big group rendered it temporarily undesirable for me), and a stand-n-eat section (no thanks; I'm taking my time). I zero in on an outdoor table with my name all over it before placing my order with the (intensely friendly) counter guy:

A Sour Cream Hen House bowl
A Sriracha Bar
A Mandarin Jarritos to wash it all down.

When the waiter walked out with my glorious bowl o' food, the splash of color and texture immediately struck me. Some rice bowls are not pretty (see: Yoshinoya). This thing was so gorgeous, it was like the cast of LOST. (Which would make Yoshinoya's bowls akin to the banjo kid from Deliverance. Aww, I miss those pretty LOST people and their island. But I digress...)

My Sour Cream Hen House bowl had a melange of flavors and textures -- spicy, tangy, starchy, crunchy, creamy, cool, crazy... (Annnd now this is starting to sound like West Side Story.) The Chinese broccoli stalks were perfectly crisp, the brown rice was saturated with some terrifically umami flavors, the fried egg was oozy (but not in a worrisome way), and the fresh herb combo (cilantro and Thai basil) added a nice freshness to the dish.

And then there's the spicy stuff. The sour cream sambal paired with red jalapenos is an evil genius duo. First, you taste the spicy sambal, which is balanced by the sour cream in a comforting, cooling, "everything is okay, don't reach for your drink just yet" kind of way. Then POW! come the chilies, sneaking in just when you think all is safe. ADVICE! Wait out the burn -- you're gonna blow through that Jarritos pretty quickly if you're a wuss about every little bite.

After powering through the entire bowl (partly because the spiciness made it nearly impossible to stop, partly because it tasted too good to WANT to stop), I had no room left for the Sriracha Bar, a confection from Chego/Kogi pastry chef Beth Kellerhals's Double Chin Desserts line. So I took it with me...

[cut to the next day]

The bright spot in my otherwise ordinary workday was THE SRIRACHA BAR. That hot-sauce-infused caramel goo sitting on slab of chocolate-coated crisped rice, covered with spicy-sweet peanuts and dark chocolate... Pretty darn good. Truth be told, I had built it up in my head as more, but would absolutely get it again and recommend it to others. And if I ever come across a stash of that sriracha caramel, I will descend upon it like Winnie the Pooh with a pot of 'hunny' and run for my life...

Basically, if you haven't been already, you should be on your way right now.

3300 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Monday, June 14, 2010

When workaholism is the norm...

Yup, I'm addicted to workahol.

Had to cancel 2 auditions this week because I realized, OH YEAH, I'm actually taking a vacation soon. It didn't even occur to me when I was thinking of possible conflicts before submitting for the projects. I thought about other shows I'm doing and any work issues... but it didn't really register that I will actually be taking a vacation and therefore cannot schedule a show for that chunk of time. Crazy.

But that's not healthy, right?

That's why I'm taking said vacation. Because if you spend all your time working (and that includes plays), then you'll miss out on a lot of unscheduled LIFE stuff. And by "you", I mean "I". And though I've been having fun doing a crazy number of projects this last year, I have quite literally been doing shows non-stop -- sometimes 2 or three at a time -- for 12 months straight. The last time I had any downtime was right before As You Like It, this time last year. And while it's been great, I don't know that I've actually come too far since then.

True, I did stretch myself as a performer with several of my recent projects, and made a lot of new friends. But I keep coming back to a "but". Ah well. It's probably good for me to take some time to NOT be in a play and work on other things, like practicing the ukulele and writing. Speaking of which...

Working on a new project to once again stretch myself -- a colleague asked me to help co-write a web series project with him... which is SO random to me, but rather than linger over "why me?" and "am I right for this?", I'm just gonna run with it and do my best. If it's not good enough, that's yet to be determined and there's no point shutting myself down before I begin.

My dear friend's husband died yesterday out of nowhere. He had a heart defect, but nothing that seemed imminently life-threatening. And it just makes you think...

... yup...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gloriously imperfect

So yesterday, I had a bit of an ego blow: I got a *gasp* bad review for a play I'm in.

I know -- "Oooooooh..." I could elaborate, but it would not result in anything productive.

But then I thought about it...

How boring would life be -- heck, how boring would I PERSONALLY be -- if everything I did was right and good? How uninteresting would existence be if everyone everywhere approved of what you did? How painfully predictable would people be if they all liked the same things?

I've done plenty of shows that, while a handful of people I know HATED them, several others REALLY loved them. So who's to say that the show was bad just because not everyone liked it?

You know what "universal appeal" is? It's boring. It doesn't change, it doesn't take risks, it doesn't try. Universal appeal is beige; it doesn't stand out or clash with anything, it doesn't offend anyone's sensibilities.

I'm not beige. Don't know what I am, but it ain't beige.

So you know what? Review away. Pan me. Slam me.

(OK, I'd really rather you didn't, but if that's what you feel you must put into the universe, I'll deal with it.)

Plus, that "review"? Meh, just some dude on a website, posting his (extremely lengthy) 2-cents about a show he saw in the "user review" section. So what do I care about what that dude thinks.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sorry, blog.

I've neglected you.

I'm sorry.

I've just been so busy!

I HAVE managed to keep a few plants alive, and hang a grow-lamp over them.

I got a tattoo.

I started ukulele lessons.

I've been in about 10 plays/performances/short films/pilots so far this year.

I gave blood.

I contributed to a NY Times #1 Best Seller.

I helped my friends move.

I did my taxes.

I figured out how to cook rice properly.

I did all these things.
I just didn't blog about 'em.

Forgive me?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blogging from my iPhone

I know. Just how dorky can I get? AND I'm doing so on a Friday night. Right before I go to rehearsal.

Excuse me, I need to push up the glasses sliding down my nose.

While I am, clearly, lamesauce, it's mostly because I am also busysauce. Got a new show opening next week, shooting a short film this weekend, back in rehearsals for the remount -- heh heh, remount -- of the cabaret show I did in December. All pretty sweet. Still workin' 40 hours a week. And I made soup and bread this week. Pretty sweet as well.

Basically, I just haven't taken the time to write about any of it. Ah well. Big loss.

I did take a ton of pictures of the delicious bread I made though, much in the way that certain others take crazy amounts of pictures of their children. This to me is just further proof that I should not procreate, as I'd likely just eat my young.