Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

Everyone has their favourite Christmas movie and mine is the 1978 Sesame Street Christmas special, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Finding this clip made me very happy this morning:

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding


I was introduced to David Hein just over a year ago at a singer/songwriter night hosted by my friend Grant Tilly. One of David's most memorable songs in his funny and entertaining set was My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding which is BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. Amazing. Last summer I saw that he had turned the song into a show for Fringe Festival, and low and behold Mirvish picked it up this fall. Don't you love a happy ending?

I saw it last Thursday and was fully charmed. David himself narrates the play, which is essentially the ol' girl gets divorced - moves to Toronto - becomes a lesbian - rediscovers Judaism - marries a witch story. The usual. It was light and funny and charming and smart, and also had several lovely sentimental moments that made me tear up a bit. Shut up.

Go see this musical. It will make you smile.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

An actor's day on a commercial shoot.

7:30am
I don't have to leave the apartment till 9am, but I need the hour and a half to wake myself up and eat something and go over my line. Yes, my one line. I do some dive bombs, mouth stretches and tongue twisters in the shower and silently chide myself for warming up as though I'm about to recite three hours of verse in iambic pentameter in front of an audience of thousands.

9:00am
I leave the house without any makeup on, knowing that if anyone asks me where I am going they'll be appalled to learn I'm about to be on camera.

10:00am
I get off the bus in Pickering and go to hail for a cab, only to realize there are no cabs to be seen and, of course, why would there be? Everyone in Pickering has a car. I find the number of a cab company and all is well, but even so I'm secretly wishing I'd had the gumption to request a pick-up and drop-off, since we weren't shooting in Toronto.

10:40am
I arrive on set and I'm early. Great! But then the thing happens that always happens on a commercial set. I'm not sure where to go. There are dozens of men (and, like, two women) walking around taking care of technical things (lights, sound, equipment) and they're really not interested in me until I'm actually on camera.

My first order of business, I know, is to get to the hair and wardrobe area where (usually) two women will clothe me and make me up...but they're always a little disappointed to see me because they're probably working on someone else and there is NEVER enough room in the wardrobe and makeup trailer for the wardrobe and makeup, let alone my whole body and my purse and clothes, and my puffy winter coat and my personality.

I successfully locate the trailer. The unique and exciting thing about this particular wardrobe and makeup trailer is that it also houses the bathrooms which we have to use, as the one inside the house at the shoot location is off-limits. The benefit is that you're working, but you also kind of feel like you're on vacation while using the airplane-esque cramped toilets. The bummer is that all the air from the bathrooms is wafting into the hair and makeup section at all times. I notice that the makeup area actually smells worse than the inside of the bathrooms themselves.

So I'm on set at 10:40am and I find the wardrobe woman and she's not ready for me so I go to the craft truck and make myself useful by eating two miniature cinnamon buns. The craft truck is crowded so I go back and sit myself down on the big makeup chair, determined to be ready when I'm needed.

11:05am
I meet the lovely woman they've flown in from Montreal to play my character in the French version of the commercial. She is blonde and skinny, just like the other two French-speaking counterparts I've had this year. I'm sure there's something to this, but I don't know what.

11:10am
Makeup Woman (MW) sits the woman from Montreal down in the makeup chair because she's decided to do her makeup first, and I notice on the call sheet that, while I was called for 11am, they're not intending to have me on set till 2:30pm, after the one-hour lunch break. I settle in for a good hour of magazine-reading (I brought two).

11:12am
A PA enters the wardrobe truck anxiously, asking, "Is Alison ready to go? We need her on set IMMEDIATELY!" to which MW replies, "No! What are you talking about?"

Turns out they're running ahead of schedule (and how!) so I'm quickly ushered into the makeup chair (I'll read those magazines later) and MW, taking the time to scold me for not plucking my eyebrows ("There's no time to do that now!"), starts furiously applying some base. She also tells me I have very thick bangs, which I know but to which I am not sure how to respond. "Thank you?" "Sorry?" I don't know. It reminds me of things I've heard from makeup people in the past: "Your skin is so weird" and, my personal favourite, "You need to wear more eyeliner or people will wonder what's wrong with you."

While MW styles my hair and paints my face, I try to behave and tilt my head when I'm asked, and sit up straight and look down when I'm supposed to look down and look up when I'm supposed to look up and don't freak out when she puts the eyelash curler on my lashes even though I'm afraid she's going to PINCH MY EYEBALLS and once the Wardrobe Woman (WW) asks me if the cardigan she's holding is the one we'd settled on at the wardrobe call and I turn to say yes and am reprimanded by MW who is in a hurry and doesn't have time for my head to be swiveling willy-nilly.

Finally the PA can't take it anymore because the guys on set have been ready for me for 10 minutes and you CAN'T KEEP THEM WAITING so I am whisked to set which is a small room with a desk and chair and computer.

11:46am
Sent back to the makeup chair for more bronzing.

11:49am
Return to set for more lighting.

11:52am
Sent back to makeup.

11:53am
Am told I need to get back on set right away.

11:59am
Sent back to makeup.

12:09pm
Back on set. Realize I don't have my mic on yet.

12:12pm
Friendly guy I recognize from Whiskas shoot puts on my mic.

12:16pm
Back to set. We're ready to shoot.

12:24pm
After several takes, the people from the ad agency decide we need to relocate the tiny bear-shaped paperweight that is being used as set dressing on the desk I'm sitting at. Eight people discuss the proper placement for the bear, and it is decided that it must be moved three inches camera left.

12:35pm
I do several takes in a row, trying to remember all my direction: don't lean in to camera too much, make sure to stop typing before speaking, look into camera before speaking, don't pause too much here, but try to pause a little bit more here, keep that vibrant energy!

1:00pm
I am wrapped for the day after a very quick and painless shoot. The only problem we encountered was my silly wardrobe that kept acting like normal clothing and moving around when I turned towards camera, necessitating a visit from the WW in between every take to add just a little bit more double-sided tape.

1:30pm
Lunch time! Yeah, I know I'm wrapped but I'm not one to turn down a free lunch. The lunch table is covered with warm, delicious catered food and a substantial dessert section, including cheesecake and huge chocolate chip cookies. Important lesson for an actor: do not treat every shoot day like Christmas. There will be more huge slabs of chocolate cake on other lunch tables at future shoots; you don't have to eat everything right now.

2:15pm
Call Pickering cab company to take me to Go Station.

2:40pm
Call Pickering cab company again to see if they've forgotten about me.

3:05pm
Am getting drizzled on and really wish the cab would arrive.

3:10pm
Call Pickering cab company again as producer of commercial walks by, wondering why I'm still there. He takes pity on me and offers me a ride downtown Toronto. I happily accept.

3:12pm
Call Pickering cab company and ask them to cancel my cab. Sense that the dispatcher is pleased he won't be hearing from me anymore.

4:00pm
I'm home and am happy after a fun day of work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Live at the Revival (February 23rd, 2009)

Hey y'all! My friend J. Sean Elliott just sent me a DVD of my opening act for his "No Refunds Tour" at the Revival last February. Here are two selections from that set: Hone My Craft and The Birthday Song.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dear electronic interface on the treadmill at the gym.

Dear electronic interface on the treadmill at the gym,

You are so fancy. I love all your flashing lights and the chart that shows what my target heartrate should be, based on my age. I also like that with the press of a button, I can customize my workout. Sometimes I want to burn fat, but sometimes I want to work on cardio, and you give me both of those options - and more!

But, electronic interface, I do have a bit of an issue to discuss with you.

When I've been jogging for 15 minutes you like to tell me, with your fancy red lights, that my workout is "25% COMPLETED". I guess you want me to know this because you're trying to encourage me to keep going, but all I want to say is, "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO TELL ME I HAVE TO DO THIS FOR AN HOUR?"

I mean, seriously, it's a miracle I've been on there for 15 minutes. Maybe instead you should say, "HOLY CRAP WHAT ARE YOU A FRIGGIN' OLYMPIC RUNNER?" and then I'd feel really good about myself and stay on the treadmill for another 15 minutes instead of getting off in a huff and drinking two chocolate protein shakes from Booster Juice.

Thank you for listening, electronic interface on the treadmill at the gym. I appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Alison Jutzi

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Four-Alarm Performance

We officially opened our production of Dry Streak at the Grand last night to a full house (800 people), including the playwright, Leeann Minogue. She's a lovely woman who seemed very pleased with the positive response we've been getting. The show went by without a hitch, and the audience laughed in all the right places, not acting at all like the typical polite-and-quiet Friday night audience.

After the show, we were enjoying some drinks and food in the lobby when a gentle and continuous "ding" started sounding. It reminded me of the warning bell you hear when intermission is coming to a close and it's time to chug your coffee and shove that Haagen Dazs bar down your throat.

I ignored it until one of the staff members alerted us all to the fact that it was actually the fire alarm and we had to evacuate the building! We all made our way down the stairs to the main entrance where we huddled outside in the drizzle as four (FOUR!) fire trucks came screaming towards the theatre and a bunch of firefighters piled through the front doors.

I was spending half my time laughing at the situation with my stage managers, and the other half wondering, "Did I leave my curling iron on or something?" At one point I smelled the cigarette someone had lit nearby and thought, "Oh no, it is a real fire!"

After 20 minutes the firefighters were on their way and we were allowed back into the theatre. False alarm. I'm not sure what set it off, but I'm glad it waited until after the show. That'd be one sure-fire way to kill the momentum of a performance. Get it? Sure-fire? I didn't even mean to do that.

Well, we've started off the run with a bang and I'm sure the show will just get better as we go. Earlier this week we had some people from the press at rehearsal who were taking photos and some video. Here's a link to a video clip of the show, if you're one of those people who doesn't mind seeing a sneak-preview. And if you still need tickets, just check out the Grand Theatre website. I hope to see you in London soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I love my 80's hairdo.

I'm in the middle of tech dress rehearsal for Dry Streak so I'm rockin' the 80's bangs. I'm really enjoying this. Perhaps a little too much.




Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VIDEO BLOG - My Mom is an English Teacher

My newest song...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bravery.

I just read that Jim Carrey is gaining 50lbs for an upcoming role, which makes me think: when am I going to be offered a part that is conditional upon my gaining weight? I think I could do it. My diet would consist of:

- donuts
- cheese
- donuts with cheese on them
- cheese with a side of donuts
- cheese-flavoured donuts
- some more donuts
- sticks of cheese
- cubes of cheese
- Kraft single slices
- fish 'n' chips

Yeah, I could do it. Y'know why? Because I'm committed to my craft. I would gain 25lbs and then people would call me brave, just like they did with Renee Zellweger when she was playing Bridget Jones.

(Dr. Joshi, if you're reading this, please do not be alarmed. I'm just kidding. Well, not about liking donuts and cheese. That's totally true.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dry Streak

Do people from London, Ontario spend their whole lives saying "No, Ontario actually"? I've had this conversation a lot recently:

Person I Know: So, what are you going to be doing next?
Me: I'm doing a play in London.
Person I Know: England?
Me: No, no. London, Ontario.
Person I Know: Oh.
Me: Yeah...ha ha...anyway, it should be good.
Person I Know: It would be more interesting if you were going to England.

Okay, maybe they don't say that last part. Anyway, the point is I'm heading to the Grand Theatre in London Ontario for the next six weeks to work on a play called Dry Streak. It's a comedy written by the Canadian playwright Leeann Minogue. If you'd like tickets you can visit the Grand Theatre website here.

Goodbye for now, Toronto. I'll see you in November!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Working with cats: behind the scenes.

Yesterday I shot a Whiskas commercial with two American Silver Tabby Shorthairs named Monty and Mikey. They arrived from L.A. (!) with their very friendly trainers, Chrissy and David. Do you know what cats having trainers means?

Cats...can be TRAINED.

When I went to my wardrobe call on Monday I stayed for about an hour after they'd picked my outfit so I could get to know the cats and they could rehearse their moves. Chrissy would let Mikey out of his carrying case and David would say "Mikey, jump up!" and the cat would run over to me and put his paws on my lap, at which point he was rewarded with luncheon meat. We did this a few times and then moved on to their floor routines, which essentially involved them rolling on their backs and being adorable.

On the day, we shot a scene where I'm sitting on a couch and the cat jumps up on me and we cuddle, so David put chicken-flavoured baby food on my nose and we rehearsed it a few times so the cat would come directly to my nose and lick it off. When we actually did the takes I didn't have baby food on my nose so the cat just came up to my face and looked really affectionate as it tried to locate the baby food.

Illusion!

Monty and Mikey are some of the best cats I've met. Still, when they were cuddling with me it kinda felt like when I was swimming with the dolphins in Cuba: yeah, they're letting me pat their heads and dragging me with their fins and stuff, but it's only 'cause they know they'll be rewarded with a bucket of fish.

Anyhoo, it was a fun shoot and surprisingly quick, considering we were working with animals and had to shoot both the English and French versions. Funnily enough, on my way home I ran into my friend Greg who is in one of the most clever and hilarious commercials I've ever seen, which also happens to be for Whiskas. Here's hoping mine will be this good:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crasher Kanye.

Crasher squirrel meets Kanye West.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Would you like a proposal with your coffee?

People in my life are getting engaged left and right these days, which reminds me of a story.

Picture it: Guelph, winter of '97. I am working my mad Barista skills at the Second Cup in Stone Road Mall, ever-fearful of my boss's watchful gaze. His motto: "If there's time to lean, there's time to clean." I have just readjusted some miniature cherry pies and oversized biscotti in the display case when a young-ish couple approaches the counter.

Me: Hi there! What can I get for you today?

Him: Two Columbians please.

Me: For here?

Him: Yes.

Me: And would you like any pastries with that? (I have to say this or TimeToLeanTimeToClean gets huffy.)

Him: Yes! We would! Two butter tarts, please. It's a special day.

I turn around to get two plates and when I look back at the counter he has presented his womanfriend with a ring and he says,

Him: Will you marry me?

Her: Wha...? Are you serious?

Me: Exactly. Is he serious? Really? Here? In line at the Second Cup? Wow. Ha. I feel honoured to be here for this. That'll be $5.45, please.

(In retrospect, I see that I might've been nice and bought their coffee and pastries for them, but I was in almost as much shock as the dude's girlfriend was.)

He pays and they sit themselves down at a table and talk quietly.

...And I'll never know what ended up happening. I got busy after that so I couldn't eavesdrop on their conversation. The tragedy! Did she finally say yes? Was she kind of expecting it or was it a total shock? Did she wonder what the eff was up with her boyfriend that he would propose marriage to her in line for coffee at the Stone Road Mall???

Yes, I know, a dramatic proposal does not a happy marriage make. But at least go to a park. Y'know? I mean, come on. The mall? Really?

I like to think that she was expecting the proposal and had asked him to do it when she least suspected it was coming, just to make the moment exciting. And, well, if that's the case then he TOTALLY SUCCEEDED. Maybe at dinner parties they regale their friends with the tale of the Second Cup proposal and she holds his hand and gazes at him lovingly as she remembers how her heart jumped when he pulled out the ring.

Or maybe she dropped him like a used Kleenex. Either way, it's a pretty good story.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Twitter.

I don't understand Twitter. I don't see the point. But I also don't see the purpose in going on ad nauseum about not understanding those who "tweet", as though I'm so much better at controlling my use of electronic communication fora, what with only having 4 email accounts, MySpace, Facebook, a blog, a website, a Wikipedia page, a Facebook fanpage (and the list goes on).

Frankly, my online presence already far exceeds how present I feel in my everyday life. But isn't that the point? Aren't we all madly posting status updates and photos and random musings to assert our existence and prove to everyone how happy, popular, successful and full of life and adventure we all are? "See how good I look in that photo? Notice how the light hits my face just right? And see how I was just doing some traveling with my very attractive friends? Don't you think that's pretty worldly of me? And do you believe yet that I'm happy? Do you?? My life is great! DON'T YOU WISH YOU WERE ME???"

So I think adding a Twitter account to the mix would be going overboard.

BUT if I were on Twitter, these are the things I likely would have said during my trip to Montreal this weekend:

________________________________________________

On the train back from Montreal. No breakfast combo available at this late hour. :(
6:35 PM Sept 7 from txt

Just spent lovely afternoon with Phil's family. So much pate. Ack - how do I do accents? LOL!
3:04 PM Sept 7 from txt

Sad to leave Kristy and Matt's place. Seb is such a beautiful little boy. So happy to meet him!
11:15 AM Sept 7 from txt

My Winnipeg: good movie to watch if you want to feel like you just did a lot of drugs.
9:40 PM Sept 6 from web

Matt and Kristy put fried potatoes in their burritos. This is my new favourite thing.
7:54 PM Sept 6 from web

Tam tams and Nerd Wars at Mont-Royal make for a fun and dusty afternoon!
5:12 PM Sept 6 from web

It's fun watching Phil try to avert his eyes while Kristy breastfeeds. LOL!
1:45 PM Sept 6 from txt

Kristy is having great success with reusable diapers!
11:30 AM Sept 6 from web

Delicious Thai food tonight with Kristy, Matt, Phil and little Seb. Crispy spinach is the bomb!
11:23 PM Sept 5 from web

Had ice cream and looked at old photos at Phil's mom's house. He sure was a cutie.
6:30 PM Sept 5 from txt

Fun brunch with Radha, reminiscing about 4th Line. Ah, memories!
2:20 PM Sept 5 from txt

Blow-up mattress deflated during the night. Will have to be sure to close it properly tonight.
9:40 AM Sept 5 from web

Arrived in Montreal! Starving after trip so went to Keg! So much meat!
11:34 PM Sept 4 from web

____________________________________________________

Suffice it to say that no one is worse off for my not having a Twitter account. I'd be one of those people who posts things that are irrelevant to anyone but me. And that's probably why I don't see the point of Twitter. Those who are posting about politics and world affairs may be doing the world a service. I'll do my part and not cloud the twitterfeed with my banalities. I've got Facebook for that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Annex Live

I'm going to be singing at The Annex Live Music and Comedy Night tomorrow evening. This venue is the former Poor Alex, which has been turned into a restaurant and performance space. You can click here to see the Facebook invite, if you're ONE OF US in the Facebook cult. If not, then I guess you're out of luck. 'Cause I mean, seriously people, who doesn't have Facebook anymore? What, you're too good to have all your contact information and embarrassing photos on a public forum for all to see? GET OVER YOURSELF.

Ahem. Anyhoo, I hope you can make it to the show. I write and sing comedic folk songs, in case I haven't mentioned that before. You can listen to a few of them on my website.

And for those of you who haven't jumped on the Facebook train (and oh, you will) here are the details:

The Annex Live
296 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto
Wednesday, September 2nd at 8:30pm
No cover.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Balls.

This is a post about sports, in case you came here with other expectations.

Here is a timeline of my involvement in sports:

1983 - took gymnastics at the age of 5. i think i learned to do a somersault, but not that well.

1984 - started swimming lessons. continued for several years until they started asking me to do hard things like dive.

1986 - one summer on a T-ball team. last person to receive the "MVP" award (free fries at McDonalds). only got it because it was required that every child win at least once. never really understood the rules of the game. once tripped and fell while running home, leaving me emotionally scarred for life.

1989 - played on grade 6 volleyball team. wasn't too bad at it. highlight of my life in sports.

1990 - tried out for grade 7/8 volleyball team. realized i was WAY out of my league.

highschool - figured i'd better stick to musicals.

And that, my friends, was pretty much it...until recently. Two years ago Phil asked me to sub a few times on his ultimate frisbee team. Though I felt like a 75-year-old with emphysema while playing, I enjoyed myself and didn't feel as incompetent as I'd feared I might. This year Nicole asked me to be on her dodgeball team, Electric Tigers Dodgebrawl, and after much hemming and hawing and "wah wah wah, what if I'm not good enough?" I agreed, and have loved the experience. I've also been subbing on Phil's softball team and have been getting better at that every game.

So the lesson here, folks, is that I'm amazing at sports. No wait, the lesson is that Nicole really knows how to name a team. No wait, the REAL lesson that I REALLY wanted to share, is that now is the perfect time to take up that activity you never thought you would. Check out the Not So Pro and TSSC sites if you want to join a sports team. Or...take singing lessons if you "can't sing" and go volunteer in another country if you're "not adventurous". The best way to be the type of person you want to be, is to start acting that way. Eventually it'll just come naturally.

Well, I'm off to find some balls to play with. I suggest you do the same.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Urban Legends.

Urban Legends is a show on the History Channel that dramatizes three urban legends and tells you which of the three are true at the end of the episode. This clip just shows the part of the episode that I was in, and it tells the story of a woman in England who thought she had ghosts in her house. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dear Juicer.

Dear Juicer,

Do you like sitting on top of the fridge? Do you feel a little dusty and underused? I'm sorry, Juicer. It's my fault.

You see, I bought you while I was detoxing, and believed nothing could be better than a glass of carrot-ginger juice in the morning. But after two uses, I learned that the product you were putting out wasn't worth the time and effort it took to take you apart and clean you. You really are a bit of a bother, did you know that?

I can't say I'm surprised. When I bought you, I heard a little voice inside my head saying, "you know this is just going to end up gathering dust on top of the fridge, right?" but I refused to be talked down by my inner voice, and so I marched right up to the counter and purchased you: the cheapest juicer on the shelf.

And now I see you, perched sadly atop the fridge, longing to transform perfectly good vegetables into something that looks like swamp water. And I think, "Will I ever use my juicer again?"

The answer, Juicer, is a resounding yes! I refuse to be that person who buys a juicer (or a treadmill or a foot bath) and only uses it a handfull of times before banishing it to a shelf or a closet or a basement. What I need to do is make spinach-beet juice a part of my everyday life. I need to develop a morning routine that involves drinking a punch of carrots, pineapple and beets.

Oh yes, it will be done.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Leon's Commercial (fall, 2008)

I remember being exhausted after this shoot because we did three spots in one day (usually it takes a whole day to do one 30 second spot).

Also...contortionists are awesome.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Boston Pizza Commercial.

Hey y'all,
If you watch TSN you've probably already seen this one. This is a spot I shot earlier this summer. Watch me be SO EXCITED!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dear Fitness Instructor.

Dear Fitness Instructor,

You have a lot of energy. I do not have as much energy as you. How do you do it? I know that you are being paid a pittance for what I think is an important job. How do you maintain such vigour?

I like the class you teach me. The one where we do dance moves and I get a good cardio workout? It's fun, even though I am a terrible dancer and always have to choose the "beginner" options.

But, Fitness Instructor? Can I ask a favour of you?

Can you please stop asking me questions in the middle of class and requiring me to answer them loudly? Questions like, "Are you READY to ROCK?" and "ARE YOU FEELING THE BURN? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

I really don't like it when you ask me those questions. I'm never really that ready to rock, regardless of the situation, so I feel it would be dishonest to answer in the affirmative. And as for feeling the burn, you can just go ahead and assume that I am because I'm not an athlete and you're making me move my body a lot.

I don't know why I can't just answer you back, but I know I'm not alone. The only response you ever get is one or two people with a tiny "YEAH!" so is it really worth your asking? Frankly, it makes us uncomfortable. Maybe if we all knew each other it would be different, but we don't. We just go to the same gym.

Fitness Instructor, I hope I haven't made you feel bad. I really do like your class. I hope you like teaching it. I just want you to know that when I don't answer you back, it's not because I'm having a bad time. It's just that I want you to leave me alone and let me do my workout in peace, for the LOVE of GOD.

Sincerely,

Alison

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Flashpoint Interactive.

I spent yesterday on the set of Flashpoint Interactive, a new online video game based on the television show. I won't give anything away, except to say I think the lead actor is the same person who does those hilarious cereal commercials for...um...Oatmeal Raisin Crisp? Maybe? You know the guy who is always going on about how you shouldn't eat his cereal because "you wouldn't like it"? I love those commercials and wish I could locate them on YouTube.

Here are some photos from the shoot:


Monday, July 27, 2009

BOOK REVIEW - "The Believers" by Zoe Heller

Since reading The Secret I've had a hard time getting my engine running in the book department. It's like it frightened me away from the written word. I'm not trying to be dramatic here; it really was that bad.

Happily, I have rediscovered my love of reading.

The Believers, written by Zoe Heller, takes place shortly after 9/11 and centres around the family of Joel and Audrey Litvinoff (he, a celebrated lawyer - a fighter for the underdog, who cares deeply for each of his clients, and she, his acerbic and passionately socialist wife).
Very early in the book Joel collapses in court, where he is meant to defend a terrorist suspect, and falls into a coma. What follows is...not what I expected.

Because of the setting of the book (New York, post 9/11) and its title, I thought the story would have the characters struggling harder with their political and religious beliefs. We do meet Rosa, the youngest of Joel and Audrey's children, who after 30 years of believing in an even more extreme socialism than her parents, decides to explore her Jewish background, much to her atheist parents' chagrin. I was never quite sure what was drawing Rosa to the Orthodox faith, but I enjoyed going on the journey with her regardless.


But the other two children (Karla, the unhappily married and unhappily overweight eldest daughter, and Lenny, the drug-addicted adopted son) make personal journeys that have only to do with relationship issues and drug addiction recovery.

As for Audrey, we forgive her her cruel and unusual way with the doctors when Joel has first fallen comatose, because we know she's grieving. As months pass, however, we learn that these first glimpses of Audrey Litvinoff have not been atypical, and that even her best friend Jean is a constant brunt of her insults, not to mention her children. Karla almost welcomes her mother's callous comments about her weight, comforting in their familiarity. I like Audrey for her honesty, but am baffled by her still being on speaking terms with all three children, and actually having a friend in Jean, ever caring and kind even in the face of Audrey's brutal attacks.


Having said all that, I loved this book. Heller's prose is some of the most clever and veracious that I've ever read. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next brilliant line, the next fully realized character. And I was never disappointed. Though I was expecting a cleverly costumed forum for Heller's political and religious beliefs, all I got was a great story with well-drawn characters, that kept me coming back for more. I was disappointed by the ending, but I think that's only because I didn't want it to end.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"solve in bed with alison"

I use google web analytics to track who has been reading my blog. Never fear, stalkers, I can't tell who exactly has been to this site, but rather how many people and from what cities. I can also see what people have searched for in google that caused them to land on my blog.

Some searches are obviously related to all my talk of the Maria show:
"how can you treat a girl like Maria"
"how do you control a girl like Maria" (um...yikes)
"microphone tap tap tap is this thing on"

Several people were looking for info about Joshi's detox, like this person:
"joshi detox anyone constipated?" (Oh, dear.)

Then there is a random assortment of search terms:
"pictures of unidentified rodents" (I talked about wanting to get rats for awhile, so this makes sense)
"smilesing" (pardon?)
"birthday cards for kids and grownups" (This person so did not find what they were looking for)
dav devalle road rage (I don't think they're talking about this Dave Devall)

And then there are my favourites:
"wow-Jutzi" (Who was this person looking for? Do I have a relative who goes by the nickname "wow"?)
"in bed with alison demo" (I'm sorry, those videos aren't available yet)
"solve in bed with alison" (What do they want to solve? I'm so curious!)

So, welcome, accidental visitors. I hope you enjoy your brief stay before you press back on your browser to refine your search terms. All the best!

Friday, July 17, 2009

America's Worst Credit

I came upon this today by accident. It's another version of my freecreditreport.com commercial, with an "America's Most Wanted" spin. Check it oot!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ripper Hockey blooper reel.

Remember the Ripper Hockey video I did awhile back? My friend David, the creator of the Ripper Hockey series, just sent me a blooper reel from that shoot. I was really having a hard time keeping a straight face...

Monday, July 13, 2009

How dodgeball kicked my butt.

A week ago I played my first game of dodgeball. Ever. Don't ask me how I made it through elementary school gym class without it. Maybe Guelph hadn't heard of dodge ball in the 80's.

Anyhoo, it was good fun. I wasn't great, but I wasn't abysmal, and I really enjoyed myself. It was tiring, but nothing compared to the few games of ultimate frisbee I've played. Phil said "You'll be sore the day after" and I was all like, "Pshaw, whatevs. I'll be fine" and he was all like, "Okaaaaaaaaay" and I was all like, "Please pass the sea salt" (we were eating dinner).

So. I was pretty sore the day after. But I loved it. It made me feel hardcore.

But then? The day after that? OH MY GOD. The pain. The stiffness. The inability to walk across a room without groaning. And the next day? Even worse! I still kind of liked it, to be honest. To have pain caused by a sport makes me feel like a very sporty person. One might even say I have a "sports injury", which sounds very sexy.

I have now almost completely recovered from last Monday's game, just in time to play again tonight. If you see me walking funny on Wednesday, you'll know why.

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Completed!

Today is my first post-detox day, but I haven't eaten any non-detox foods yet. Well, last night I had some peanut-butter chocolate ice cream, but we don't need to go into that.

I've lost a few pounds and feel healthy and energetic, and plan to continue following the detox diet to an extent, while not denying myself the odd drink or hamburger. This was certainly my favourite of the three cleanses I've done, the other two being Isagenix and the Lemonade Diet.

Habits I picked up on the detox which I plan to continue in my everyday life:

- Drink hot lemon in the morning
- Use my juicer
- Eat brown rice
- Have rice cakes as a snack
- Minimize wheat intake
- Eat an entire black forest cake

Oops, did I just write that out loud?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ripper Hockey

I recently shot a spot for my friend David Battistella's site, http://www.ripperhockey.com/. You can check out his site to see the first in his series of funny hockey videos, and here is the second one, starring me in super-sexy pyjamas:

Keener Reunion!

My theatre school class (a.k.a. "The Keeners") reunited last night at Pauper's Pub. There were about 15 of us there, out of 25 people who graduated from our class 8 years ago. Some of us are married, some of us have babies, some of us own houses, some of us are still living like University students, in tiny apartments with no plants.

I sometimes wonder what University would've been like if I hadn't studied theatre. Our class was made up of 25 people who, for the most part, got along quite well and knew how to have fun. Any fellow Keeners who read this might laugh at my saying that, because I certainly wasn't one to be out at pub every night. Not a party girl, me. But I loved rehearsals. I loved class. I loved putting down the boring essay I was working on to go see the ISP's. I loved being surrounded by a large group of dynamic people, and missed them deeply after graduating.

The above photo is the class picture we took before graduation, and below are some stills from Lysistrata (starring my friend and former classmate Nicole Stamp) and my final Erindale show, All's Well That Ends Well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dr. Joshi answers my questions.

If you are currently doing Joshi's detox, or are thinking about doing it, I would encourage you to email him (joshi@joshiclinic.co.uk) with any questions you have. He responded very quickly to mine, and seems genuinely interested in helping people through the detox. Of course, you should read his book first. It really is necessary to have it if you're going to do the detox.

Here are the questions I had for him, with his answers in caps:

1) Am I supposed to completely avoid fruit, or just minimize my intake of it? How much is too much? TRY TO AVOID FRUIT AND FRUIT SUGARS IF TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT. TWO PIECES OF FRUIT DAILY IS GOOD.

2) If I cheat and have some decaf coffee, is that really bad? NO BUT TRY TO GET ONE THAT HAS BEEN DECAFFIENATED NATURALLY

3) Why do you specify "gluten-free oatmeal"? Isn't oatmeal normally gluten-free? NO, OATS CONTAIN GLUTEN, WHICH CAN BE VERY MUSCOUS FORMING IN THE GUT, GET A CEREAL THAT IS GLUTEN FREE ESP IF YOU HAVE CONSTIPATION AND BLOATING

4) Should I totally avoid the no-no veggies (cucumber, tomatoes etc.) or just minimize my intake? MINIMIZE, COOKED TOMATOES ARE OK

5) Is it bad to have lots of honey while on the detox? Should this just be a treat? YES, THINK OF THE CALORIES!

6) I don't think I read anything about minimizing my salt consumption...but should I be watching this? I feel like I'm eating more salt than usual. WHY ARE YOU EATING MORE SALT? PERHAPS YOU HAVE A MINERAL DEFICIENCY, TAKE ONE EMERGEN – SACHET A DAY AND SEE HOW YOU FEEL

7) Are sun-dried tomatoes as bad as regular tomatoes? NO

Monday, July 6, 2009

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Day 15

Whoa.

Dr. Joshi posted a comment on my blog. That's really cool!

I have a ton of questions to ask him so I'll send him an email and hope that he has time to address them. Then I will, of course, post the answers here.

This past weekend at the cottage was much easier than I thought it would be. I wasn't nearly as tempted by the chocolate and booze and sausages as I thought I'd be. And fortunately my parents allowed me to dictate what we had for supper most nights. Saturday night we ate salmon with brown rice, asparagus and spinach salad - with tons and tons of garlic. And Sunday night we pretty much had the same thing, replacing the salmon with a lovely honey/lemon/garlic-glazed chicken.

One thing I'm quite enjoying on this detox is the hot lemon that I drink almost every morning. It's a delicious coffee substitute, and apparently does wonders for your kidneys.

On the way up to the cottage we were a little peckish so we had some hummus with carrots and rice chips. I also ate several bananas throughout the weekend, as I am wont to do.

I've definitely lost weight in the past two weeks, but I haven't had a chance to weigh myself so I'm not sure how much. My clothes are fitting more loosely and I feel lighter. It feels good! One more week...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Day 11

This is getting harder.

I'm tired of rice.

I want a chocolate bar.

I want to eat strawberries at the cottage this weekend.

There are only so many bananas a person can eat.

I cheated last night by having terriyaki sauce on my chicken and I DON'T CARE.

Hrmph.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dora the Awarda

Jian Ghomeshi hosted the Doras last night, which was a treat. He was funny and charming and a little bit bitchy, and briefly touched on the Billy Bob thing, which made the audience go nuts.

Highlights for me were Alison Sealy-Smith's cheeky speech about Albert Shultz putting A Raisin in the Sun in the Soulpepper season, Elicia winning for her work in the Sound of Music, and Marlene Smith receiving the Silver Ticket award. You can find out who all the winners were here. Agokwe, a new play by Waawaate Fobister, really cleaned up. The saddest part of the evening was realizing I'd missed most of these fabulous plays and musicals and can't now go and rent them from Blockbuster.

This was my first time at the Doras and I'm really glad I went. I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in awhile: friends from theatre school, former castmates and teachers, random people I sometimes see at auditions, and Derrick Chua. Always Derrick Chua.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Day 8

I had cravings for ice cream and booze yesterday.

I did not give in to them.

Tonight I'm attending the Doras where I'm sure I'll be tested by wine and cheese and a multitude of squares. Perhaps I'll hide a package of gluten-free cookies in my purse...and eat the ENTIRE THING. Maybe I'll play up the whole detox thing and throw around words like "macrobiotic" and "holistic" and then they'll think I'm so Hollywood and be very impressed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Day 5

Food so far today:

- hot water with fresh lemon juice
- Rice Krispies with rice milk, honey and a banana
- California Classic salad from Fresh

Tonight I will have the leftover chicken I made the other night.

Last night I made fresh vegetable juice again, this time with carrots, ginger and spinach. I find that when you put a lot of carrot in there, it makes everything else much more palatable. The juicer seems to require a lot of effort to take apart and rinse out, but in reality it takes less than five minutes and I'm just being a baby if I don't use it for that reason.

I've been feeling motivated to try out new recipes, and have already made two this week: the chicken and this coconut tofu and rice. I've got a chickpea recipe in mind that I want to try this weekend. I've also discovered a good beverage option for when I'm craving something other than water. Fruity herbal tea on ice is delicious and detox-friendly.

For snacks, I've been munching on rice cakes, snow peas, bananas and the odd gluten-free cookie (sweetened with cane juice).

No problems to report so far.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The final chapter.

10 Marias: 1 Year Later aired last night. I watched it anxiously, happy about some of the clips they showed, unhappy about others. Wishing they had done my hair and makeup for me (that is, after all, the best part about being on television).

Competing on How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? was a great challenge for me. It has undoubtedly made me a better auditioner and, against all odds, has given me a lot of confidence as a performer.

But I'm happy to have moved on. The whole theatre and television auditioning process seems far more civilized to me now, merely because there aren't five cameras on me while I'm doing it. Rejection is private and par for the course, not tragic and public. And best of all, no casting director has ever asked me to sing anything by Chaka Khan. (Insert smiley-face emoticon to denote tongue-in-cheek tone)

Thank you, CBC and Mirvish and Temple Street and, of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber. We had some good times. And now I bid you adieu.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Day 3

I've been eating Rice Krispies with rice milk and honey every morning. Turns out the second ingredient in Rice Krispies is sugar, but who am I to be militant? Last year when I did the Isagenix cleanse I ate a Peanut Buster Parfait on one of my "fast" days. That's just how I roll. Today I brought a can of bean soup for lunch, but have noticed that it's actually bean WITH BACON so I will not be eating that. Even I can't convince myself that bacon is an acceptable detox food.

Yesterday I ate a tofu and rice curry for lunch, and a California Classic salad from Fresh for dinner. I slept deeply and was so zonked I could hardly get up this morning, but I think that's because I was out in the sun too long yesterday afternoon. Tonight I'm making chicken and vegetables, with fresh veggie juice as an appetizer - made with my first-ever juicer. It's a great way to get lots of veggies into your system very quickly. So far I've experimented with carrots, ginger and beets.

So, yeah. I'm super healthy. So there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guelph Mercury interview.

Here's another interview about the Maria documentary from the Guelph Mercury. One thing to note: I didn't just release an album - I recorded my songs about two years ago, but I think someone at the Maria camp thinks I just did it, so I keep seeing references to it. Meh. That's okay. If people want to think I just released an album, I suppose I can let them. It ups my cool factor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joshi's Holistic Detox - Day 1

I am on my first day of Joshi's Holistic Detox, a cleanse developed by Nish Joshi, a specialist in holistic healthcare. This detox requires that you cut the following foods out of your diet:

1) Red meat
2) Caffeine
3) Wheat
4) Fruit (except bananas)
5) Refined sugar
6) Most dairy products
7) Alcohol

I figure the first three shouldn't pose a problem, though I do like me some baked goods. I will miss my Tim Horton's steeped tea and Cobb's cinnamon scones. And cheese. And fruit. And chocolate.

HELP ME!

Just kidding, I'm not bailing on it yet. It's only been 5 hours. And there's no way this cleanse can be as difficult to maintain as this one was. I think I can make it the full 21-days. Updates to follow...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

GUEST POST - Janna Polzin

Janna was my roommate in the Maria mansion, and is now the alternate Maria for the Sound of Music, performing Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. I invite you to stalk her here.

If I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, I always used to say Rice Crispy Squares. But then I think about it, and realize that I might just start to hate them. But then I think about it some more, and I realize that when those babies are warm and marshmallowy it must be what heaven tastes like.

I could go for some basic fresh bread and butter.

But I'd need some chocolate in my life too. Preferably a Caramilk of some sort. And then chips, cause they balance the choco out. Miss Vicky's Salt and Vinegar? Or, as I'm sure Kyla will agree, Sweet Chili Heat.

Enough product placement.

Clearly I can't answer this question.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Globe and Mail interview.

The Maria documentary is fast approaching (next Wednesday, June 24th at 9pm on CBC) so I've been doing some interviews. Here's one from the Globe and Mail.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Heavy doors.

My major pet peeves are as follows:

1) People throwing garbage out of car windows;
2) Being guilt-tripped in a supposedly joking manner that doesn't sound very funny at all;
3) Heavy doors.

Yes, heavy doors. Why do I hate them so much? And I do hate them.

Y'know what I'm talking about? Those doors that weigh, like, 300 lbs for no apparent reason? And you go to open them and nearly wrench your shoulder because you predict the door will be a normal door, but when you pull it you only get it about halfway open and then it hits you in the side as you try to squeeze through? Yeah. I hate those things.

I am sure they have a purpose. Perhaps they are fire doors? Yes, probably. (I'd like to apologize to the many fire fighters who read my blog and who are currently shaking their heads at my ignorance. "Of course they're fire doors," they're thinking. "Why must you torture us with your stupidity?")

But fire doors or not, they make me cranky. I like to project any latent anger that has built up during my day onto these inanimate objects, as though they are somehow to blame. "Curse you, door! Why must you make my life more difficult?"

It's a cheap form of therapy, I suppose.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How can you not love this face?



I love these new photos of my niece Eden that my brother Dave just posted. So much personality, and just over a month old!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carol Burnett answers your (dumb) questions.

I saw Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett at Massey Hall on Friday night. It was an honour and a joy to see her live, candidly answering anything the audience threw at her. Other than a few clips from The Carol Burnett Show, Friday's show consisted solely of a question and answer period. I have mixed feelings about this format. The quality of the show is largely dependant upon the quality of the questions, and there were definitely some time-wasters. Luckily, Carol was usually able to spin dead questions into relevant answers.

Almost everyone started their question with "My family and I? We're all really big fans? And we just want you to know? That we watched your show every week and we think you're really great. Thank you so much for being here tonight." Which is all nice and fine and everything, but I'll bet that Carol already knows that you're a fan because you bought a ticket to see her tonight, so you can probably just get to your question.

And then sometimes - quite often, actually - the question was either "Can I get your autograph after the show?" or "Can I come up on stage to give you a hug?" to which Carol would politely say, "Oh, honey, I wish there were some stairs here so you could come up, but..."

Thank goodness there were no stairs.

I wanted to ask her, "What would you say is the number one thing you need to accomplish to make a sketch work?" but I wasn't surprised that they never got around to me. There were so many people there and everyone was desperate to ask their question.

One of my favourite stories Carol told was about re-shooting a scene from Annie, after she had had chin surgery. The director wanted to re-do one of the musical numbers, taking it from when Carol had gone into a closet (when they'd filmed it months earlier), and picking it up when she came out of the closet, to which Carol predictably offered, "But when I went into the closet two months ago, I had no chin...and now, I have a chin, so..." And the director, John Houston, gave her the best direction of her life: "Well, just come out looking determined."

Fantastic.

You can see Carol's interview on The Hour here. She talks about the chin story, it's great.

It was a lovely evening at the theatre. Since returning from New York I've decided I want to start to take advantage of all the wonderful theatre we have right here in Toronto. Speaking of which, I'm FINALLY going to see Janna play Maria in The Sound of Music on Saturday. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When you say "under the seat in front of you" you mean "wherever I want to put it", right?

This article, written by an anonymous flight attendant, lists 7 ways to be an annoying airplane passenger. My favourite is #6:

Act like you don't know the meaning of "under the seat in front of you."

I am guilty of taking this directive, which is given on every flight and is very simply stated, to mean "We don't really care where you put your purse, we just have to say this because it's in the rule book." 

Turns out they really do care. They really want you to put your carry-on luggage that you haven't stored above (because you know it's just going to be a pain later when you have to ask the guy next to you to please move so you can get your chapstick) under the seat in front of you. Why am I, someone who is otherwise pretty good at taking direction, one of the culprits of this blatant disregard for safety?

I always always put my huge purse right in between my feet, which are NOT under the seat in front of me. Why can't I take this simple direction? Why must I wait until one of the attendants notices and shames me into correcting my mistake?

Hrm.

Upon consideration, I've decided that it's because upon entering an airport we are stripped of our independence - we have to answer to authority figures and we can't argue with them or we'll be sent to our rooms - or, well, we won't get on the plane. And so we revert back to childlike tendencies of not only waiting for direction, but knowingly breaking the rules (in little ways, so as not to get kicked off the flight) because we figure if it's really that important the flight attendant will tell us so. The mom isn't just going to tell the 3-year-old not to play in traffic; she's going to hold his hand tightly as they cross the street. We are that three-year-old, waiting for the flight attendant to hold our hand.

But maybe, as the writer of the article implies, that's asking a bit much of the flight crew. They're not there to give us diapers for our babies, or to lift our heavy luggage into the overhead compartment. They're there to serve us food and beverages, direct us to the washrooms, hand out customs cards and, most importantly, keep us safe.

So let's put our damn bags under the seat in front of us already.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dance, everybody. Dance tonight.

Here are some photos of me that my mom recently scanned. In the first one I'm wearing my costume for "Clowns", my grade 5 musical in which I played Leah Ballerina. I remember being really nervous that I'd have to wear a skimpy little tutu, but thankfully my mom made me this adorable costume. You can't tell from the photo, but it was less a tutu and more a full skirt. Phew, says 10-year-old Alison.

I still remember the lyrics to the solo I sang:

The flowers in the garden will dance tonight, it's easy being happy in the moonlight.
Today they were soakin' up the sun and rain, and now it's time to dance again.
Dance, everybody, kick up your heels. Dance, everybody, see how it feels.
To step to the left and step to the right, turn yourself around as you dance all night.
Dance, everybody, dance tonight.


This photo shows me playing the violin, which I gave up at the ripe old age of 8 in order to focus on the piano.


And here I am playing the piano. Do not be fooled by the smile on my face; getting me to practice must have been akin to pulling teeth. Thanks, mom! Hey, I really am thanking you later, just like you said I would.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Maria Documentary.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Temple Street Productions inquiring about my availability. Strange, I thought. Why would the producers of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? be looking for me? Did they want my banner back? Were they going to ask me to star in a Canadian version of the Bachelorette? I didn't know.

It turns out they were trying to get all of the Marias together to shoot a documentary about our experience on the show, and to find out "if there's life after reality t.v.". I told them that yes, I felt very much alive, and would be happy to join them.

I was excited to see all the girls, but felt some trepidation leading up to the shoot. There were questions I knew I'd be asked on camera ("How did you feel about your microphone not working? What was it like being the first one voted off?") that I wasn't looking forward to answering, mostly because I wasn't sure what I'd say.

I was only available for part of the 2-day shoot, which was true for many of the girls. I was still in New York City the first day, but Temple Street had a car waiting for me at the airport that evening and took me directly to the CBC. The second day I had to leave halfway through the morning to attend a callback for the Grand Theatre. I booked that show, by the way! You can check it out here.

Still, they were able to get the 10 of us together on the morning of the second day. As we sat in vans outside Maria School (which is really Graydon Hall in North York), waiting for the camera guys to set up, it was almost as if no time had passed since March, 2008 when we were 10 of 50 hopefuls, arriving for the first day of "school" and giddy with anticipation of whatever lay ahead. That was back when we had no idea we'd be flying to London to perform for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Or that we'd be singing on the hills in Salzburg the following May.

It was fun sharing memories with the other girls. We laughed (while crying on the inside) as we remembered our week one wardrobe. We cried (while crying on the inside) about some of the song choices, once again trying to make it clear to the public that WE DIDN'T CHOOSE OUR SONGS. David Connolly, our live-show choreographer, chatted with us at one point. It was great to see him! He's currently working on a production of High School Musical in Halifax, which Donna is in. Sadly I missed Gavin's visit, and Elaine's.

My favourite part of the whole experience was sitting on a rooftop patio drinking sangria with Janna, Elicia, Katie and Kyla. GOOD TIMES. It was warm and sunny and we were full of fruity wine punch. This took place right before our personal on-camera interviews, so please do take that into account when you watch the documentary.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience. But now? I think it's over. Right? Like, we're not going to do another documentary a year from now about the documentary we just did? The Maria Documentary Documentary: is there life after documentary shows about reality shows?" No, I don't think they'll do that.

The one hour special airs at 9pm on June 24th on CBC. You can click here for more details.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Badvertising.

When I saw the Diamond Shreddies print ad last year I was so impressed with its simplistic brilliance that I had to phone a friend and tell him about it. I love seeing companies use humour and intelligence in their marketing, to the point that I will go out of my way to purchase their product. 

Conversely, when I see badvertising it makes me angry and upset and committed to boycotting the offending company. And don't tell me I should be blaming the ad agency that the company hired to do their advertising. You know when it comes down to it Bell said yes to those ridiculous "er" ads and that the CEO of Koodo gave the go-ahead for those creepy cartoon people.

I'm boycotting the movie The Hangover, not just because the trailer makes it look painfully unfunny, but because of print ads like this:

This is a perfect example of badvertising. We have a picture of a man who we know, because of the title of the movie, has woken up the night after getting really drunk only to find that he is missing a tooth. Having dumb stuff happen to you while drunk is neither funny nor original, so I'm already bored. Then, and this is what really killed this print ad for me, they write Am I missing a tooth? below the picture. Really? Did I need you to write that? Now I'm offended because you clearly think I'm stupid. I'm standing in a stuffy subway car, surrounded by sweaty, angry people and the last thing I need is to be insulted by your ad. 

If we must endure this constant inundation of advertising in our lives, I demand of it one of three things: 

1) I am made to laugh;
2) I am made to feel clever;
3) I am made to care.

If you're not going to accomplish any of those things, I'm not going to buy your product. Even if I have to live on nothing but Shreddies for the rest of my life. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yes, that's me in the dorky red helmet.

I'm cycling* again after a six-month hiatus. Why all the time off? Well, I'm what one might call "careful" or "precious" or "scared of ice, snow, and temperatures lower than +10". Now that it's sunny and warm I have enjoyed several long-ish trips across town. I recently took my Canadian Tire Supercycle in for a tune-up and ended up spending more than I did to buy the bike in the first place. Ridiculous? Yes. But far less expensive than owning a car.

And the great thing about cycling is that you can get all the road rage you do as a car owner, with fewer costs. In fact, I think I'm angrier on my bike than I am behind a wheel. When you're coasting down Yonge Street, the wind in your hair, the sun on your shoulders, the sanctimonious feeling you get from knowing you have made the right choice for the environment gives you free license to hate all surrounding drivers, especially the ones who barely miss your elbow as they fly by.

I feel like a true Torontonian on my bike. One time I even tore a strip off a cab driver when he tried to cut me off. I barely recognized my own voice as I berated him loudly and with passion. That was the day I knew I was no longer just a visitor here.

* what serious people call "biking".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eden Ruth Jutzi

Unfortunately my brother Dave and his wife Melissa weren't able to join us at the cottage this past weekend, but I did get to meet their new daughter Eden when I was home in Guelph briefly on Thursday. I had gone home to see my mom in Little Women with Guelph Little Theatre. The show was lovely, by the way.

Here are some photos of Eden with her mom, dad and me:





Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's a girl!


I've just returned from a trip to NYC, but I'll post about that later because I have even better, more exciting news: my brother Dave and his wife Melissa have a new baby girl named Eden Ruth Jutzi, born on May 4th (8lbs, 12oz)! I haven't had a chance to meet her yet, but I'll be spending the long weekend up at the cottage with them so I'll get lots of baby time then. Congrats and lots of love to Dave and Mel!




Sunday, May 3, 2009

FreeCreditReport.com commercial.

I shot this way back in January, but they just started airing it this month. I was so happy to book this because I thought the concept was quite funny, and I think they did a great job of it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Want an audition? Book a trip!

Last year I was supposed to be in Cuba for two weeks, but had to come back early because the Maria callbacks fell in the second week. This year I booked a trip to New York City from May 3rd-10th, but have just found out I have a callback I don't want to miss on the 4th.

Changing travel plans can be tricky, but it's nice to know that if I'm having a slow year I have only to book a trip and suddenly I will be popular.

I'm down to the last three days of my Smile tour of Extraordinary. What a rewarding and unique experience. Yesterday we performed in a real theatre and were so giddy about it you'd think we'd never performed on a stage before. Usually, because we travel to seniors' residences, we perform in small rooms that aren't designed to house theatre . But that is part of the charm of the Smile experience: every venue is different and you never know what to expect. That said, it was nice to perform on the beautiful stage at the Algonquin Theatre in Huntsville yesterday. I also enjoyed my post-show Bacio gelato. Anything that involves chocolate, nuts and ice cream is okay by me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

CBC Radio 3 Interview

Alexis Stoymenoff at CBC Radio 3 just did a piece on comedic music, and I was one of the people she interviewed. Check it out here.

She also spoke with Chelsea Manders (formerly of the Black Roses, now of Charity and Chastity), BillyReid, The Wet Spots and Picnicface. I come in during the last few minutes of the 10-minute interview, and then she finishes off by playing my song, Social Utility.

Oh, also? I was high on Robaxacet with Codeine because of a neck injury, so I'm speaking sllloower than usual. It makes me sound cooler, I think. More musician-y.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Let's hear it for Dave Devall!

I remember Dave Devall from way back a million years ago in the 80's when my mom was on the Canadian gameshow Definition. I was starstruck when I saw the announcer, whom I recognized as the weather guy from CTV. When I came to see a taping of the show, I couldn't believe that we got to eat in the same cafeteria as he and Jim Perry (the host) did.

That's why it was a full-circle experience for me to act in a few CTV spots that led up to his retirement this past winter. He's been doing the weather on CTV since 1961! That is a lot of weather.

So, here are a couple of the "weather support group" spots I was in. There are others, but these are the ones I'm featured in and, well, this is my blog. So.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Timing is everything.

I wrenched my neck the other day so I'm currently taking Robaxacet with codeine. While drugged up, Phil showed me this:



I cried, I was laughing so hard. Watching it again now, I still find it very funny. It's all in the timing...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle...is it okay that I don't get what the big deal is?

Have you seen this? It's a video of Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old woman who sang I Dreamed a Dream the other night on Britain's Got Talent. She has a nice voice. That's it. But everyone freaked out when she started singing for some reason. 

I don't get it. Why were they surprised that she could sing?

Was it because she's not movie-star attractive? Was it because she's 47 and never been married? Or was it because Britain's Got Talent was just trying to recreate a Paul Potts moment?

It seemed contrived to me. And insulting. Susan Boyle seems like a lovely woman, and I wish all the best for her. She said in her intro that she was unemployed, and hopefully her exposure on the show will have changed that.

But I'm still scratching my head about this one. I'd love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blast from the past.

This is the video bio they had for me on the CBC How Do You Solve a Problem... site (I know, I know, stop talking about Maria already!). My favourite part is the completely unenthusiastic air I have about me in the first clip. I think I was getting tired of the cameras at that point. If the embedded video below isn't working, you can view it here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another suitcase, another motel.

We're on tour in Windsor right now, and I've secluded myself in a corner of a Starbucks with my laptop in order to keep myself from shopping. 

We had a blast last night performing at the Essex Retirees' Social Club. They laughed at everything. The energy from the audience made the show so much fun to perform. Afterwards we drank Pomtinis and ate chips in Paula's hotel room. So many chips. Touring isn't great for my health, but I like to think that the manual labour involved in putting together and taking down the set every day is counterbalancing my intake of Chex mix and all-day-breakfasts. 

There's a fireplace in this Starbucks. Is that normal? Class-ay.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Youth Challenge International

In the fall of 2006 I volunteered for 10 weeks in Bijagual, Costa Rica with Youth Challenge International. While I was there, the Costa Rican counterpart of the organization, Reto Juvenil Internacional, filmed a documentary celebrating their 15th anniversary. The Program Director for Reto, Alvaro Madrigal, has just posted that documentary on YouTube, so I thought I'd share it with you. You'll see me digging and teaching and stumbling over my Spanish...

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Backstage on tour.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Extraordinary rehearsals.

I'm in rehearsals right now for Extraordinary with Smile Theatre. We'll be touring seniors' residences for two months, starting in Peterborough next Monday. Rehearsals have been a pleasure, as I am finally getting the chance to work with Jim Betts, and am so very lucky to be playing opposite Paula Wolfson. She is a heavy-hitter in the musical theatre world. Check out her website here.

In other news, my CTV Weather spot has been airing and I'll be getting a copy soon to put up on my YouTube channel. In it I play Janice, an unstable woman with deeply-rooted emotional issues connected to snowflakes. Yeah, I was pretty much type-cast.