Monday, May 23, 2011

What I Learned 10 Years Out of College

Graduation Day at NYU, May 2001 with my now husband! If you couldn’t tell, this was before digital cameras.

This month marks my tenth year anniversary of graduating college.  I know, I know, I know, how dare I show signs of my real age while trying to carve out a showbiz career in LA! Fortunately everyone who works in show business is bad at math (I once got an F+ in math.  I was so bad at math; I got a grade that is mathematically impossible.  I guess the plus sign means even more failing.)  What was I saying?  Oh right, I’m 25 and happen to also have ten years of post-college wisdom to share.  Here’s what I did right or did wrong and learned from or well, still need to do:

1. Buy a bed.  The moment you trade in your rayon blend graduation gown is the moment you’re officially too old to sleep on wooden planked futon.

2. One well-made article of clothing, pair of shoes or accessory that you worked hard and saved up for beats 12 bags of garbage from Forever 21.

3. Start exercising.  Now.  The day after you graduate join a gym or the Y, buy a bike, pick up your knees and see what jogging feels like…anything! The ability (if you ever had it) to magically burn off beer, Hot Pockets, and meat you bought from a truck will vanish quickly. 

4. No matter how well you did in school and how happy you made your parents and teachers, and how hard you work at your job, you will get fired one day. And it’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you.

5. Take the opportunity to live with 12 roommates in a closet in before moving in with someone.  And don’t move in with that someone if he doesn’t know how to dress himself, do laundry, clean the bathroom, buy groceries, make a meal or pay his bills on time.

6. You’ll never have enough money to travel but do it anyway.  One day you’ll have a mortgage, kids, a broken dishwasher and two weeks out of the year to relax.  You’ll regret not taking advantage of those days when a backpack and a youth hostel were luxury.

7. Wear a bra every time you leave the house.  Fine, you have no boobs but you have nipples and we can see them.

8. Congratulations, you don’t have a class schedule or anyone to tell you what do anymore! That will be fun for one week.  You will then spend the rest of your life wondering if you’re making good use of your time until you drop dead face down in a copy of “The 4 Hour Work Week.” I don’t have any advice, it’s just a warning of what to expect next week.

9. No one will ever invite you into the life you want.  Don’t be afraid of putting in some elbow grease, or throwing those elbows around.

10. I didn’t get to truly do what I want until I was 30 and I’m still not making money at it. Again there’s no lesson here, just a warning of what to expect if you chose to never settle.

This post was originally published on Say Something Funny...B*tch!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Team Rebecca Black!

Unless you’ve been dead or too busy reading books to orphans, you know Rebecca Black’s Friday video has taken over You Tube, Twitter, late night television, and the vitriol of adults.  Adults, grow up.  Is the song lame?  Yes. Is this Ark Music Company possibly taking advantage of stage mothers. Probably.  Is it possible that Rebecca just took her first step towards the 2021 season of Celebrity Rehab. Maybe, but I hope not. Are we all just a little bit jealous of 13-year old-ish girl having 13 -year-old-ish girl fun.  Definitely.  So Rebecca, here’s why I’m rooting for you:

1-Your 13 year-old friends can operate a motor vehicle with other 13 year-old passengers sitting on top of the seat without seatbelts! Nothing bad will happen to you and your friends because you are pleasant looking kids living in a pleasant video world!  Jealous.

2-At the time of this post, you have 88,045,991 views of your video on You Tube.  My most popular You Tube clip: 138 views.

3-You said on Good Morning, America that you’re not the best singer but certainly not the worst. I wish Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, cast members of the Real Housewives franchise and everyone in LA had just a shred of your self-awareness.

4-Your parents are rich and live in a nice home in the suburbs and bought you a hit pop single.  Enjoy it!  You could’ve been born in China and left in the middle of the woods because you don’t have a penis.

5-Cool black guys pop into your life on a typical Friday and interject a rap about why you’re cool.  Black guys never rap about me when I’m buying bud vases at Crate and Barrel or lying to the treadmill about my weight or price comparing shitty wine at Vons.

You’re wearing real clothes and not shoving your underage crutch in anyone’s face, and you’re not trying to be anything else other than a 13 year-old suburban girl.  Keep being you, keep doing your Biology AP homework, keep playing field hockey, go to college, and stay away from anyone with the last name “Lohan.” If you can spend your formative years in the center of a media shit storm and make it to 22 with a college degree, a healthy attitude about food, and an HPV-free cervix, you win.  No one will care that you win because we will have moved on to tearing down the spirit of another girl. Maybe this one.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I've left the find a new place to put my couch

Since I’m not having quite enough of a difficult time committing to a blog posting schedule, balancing a side business and a “developing” business (“developing” is a nice HR-y word for “not working actor”), why not throw house hunting into the mix?! The past few weeks my Alex and I have been looking at homes. Our brains are crammed with new abbreviations: PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) HOA (Homeowner Association), and LP (Listing Price) which is usually followed by a “WTF!” Here’s what I learned inn my 14 day old real estate venture:

1-You will have no idea what’s going on until the 130th time it’s explained to you. And then you’ll understand 65% of it.

2-If you made the mistake of getting a Liberal Arts or Fine Arts degree, you won’t be able to calculate the interest rate. Don’t bother. Let the mortgage guy who drives a BMW to figure it out for you.

3-If a house is made of gold, granite and marble, it still won’t be good enough to live next to the front yard of 5 barking rottweilers, two rotting VW Bugs, and one lawn chair (frame only).

4-You’ll now spend your Sundays at an Open House taking 15 pictures of 1 outlet in 1 room and telling the other people checking out the house that the owner did a great job removing the blood.

5-You’ll never make this work:

This post was originally published on Say Something Funny B*tch!
and before we went into escrow on a potential money pit, walked away from it and decided to plan a trip to Europe instead.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Miseducation of Laura Mannino

The Next Ron Howard and Brian Grazer

There are two main industries in LA.  There’s show business and then there’s making money off of people who want to work in show business.  Since moving to LA, I have emptied my wallet to participate in classes, workshops, seminars, webinars, teleseminars, networking groups, events, expos, conferences, websites, etc.  Everyday my email inbox gets crammed with every “secret to success” opportunity:  “Give me your money so I can teach you to accept your appearance and then you’ll be successful!”  “Give me your money so I can teach you to change your appearance and then you’ll be successful!”  “Give me your money so I can put a Band-Aid over your crazy, decades-old emotional issues and then you’ll be successful!” “Learn to use your Daddy Issues to book that commercial!”  LA Weekly should have a “Shit To Spend Your Money In An Attempt to Make Money in An Industry in Which There’s No Guarantee to Make Money” Calendar section.  I’ve always made it a point to never tweet, blog, Facebook, or tell jokes during my stand-up performance about the ins and outs of the career I’m pursuing, the educational opportunities I’ve invested in (or sometimes wasted money on), or the crazies I’ve met along the way.*  No one needs to hear another actor bitch about that terrible audition or that terrible agent or that terrible scene partner in that terrible class with the that terrible teacher. I have enough of a filter to know that directly calling out terrible people and terrible experiences won’t help me at all in this industry…because I’d gladly take a job from them. Hate the game, not the playa.  For the most part, the classes and organizations I’ve been apart of have been immensely helpful, but if you also want to hear some old-fashioned trash talk about the rest, buy me a drink.  After a few sips I tend to get a little “truth-y.”  On some days, it might just take a sip of water.

This week I attended a Q&A with a certain television executive of a certain studio.  This executive was pleasant, informative, and patient.  I’m not saying that to kiss his ass. If I wanted to kiss his ass, I’d hunt him down on Facebook and write this on his Wall, which is what most of my fellow attendees have done already.  I found myself in a room full of unemployed, needy writers, which is the same as being in a room of unemployed, needy actors but with less hair and a higher collective BMI.  All the classic hits were in attendance: Eager Beaver who always has her hand up to show off how much she knows, Guy that laughs too loud and too heartily at the guest’s jokes that aren’t that funny, Guy who interrupts the guest in an attempt to “have a casual conversation” but just comes off rude, and of course, Phlegm-y Cougher.  We learned about what shows make effective spec scripts, why certain shows are successful in syndication, cable vs. network, the politics of the writers’ room, how to get a submission read, why does every show have to be about cops or lawyers or doctors (because David E. Kelley figured out that writing shows about cops or lawyers or doctors will make you a millionaire), and we just laughed and laughed about how actors are so desperate (Pot, meet Kettle).  The night was going swimmingly until Phlegm-y Cougher asked if a studio would pick up a pilot that had Isaiah Washington attached.  Yes, specifically Isaiah Washington, the former cast mate of Grey’s Anatomy that got fired after Gay Remark-gate.  He followed up his question asking if vampires are still “big?”  I stopped wondering what was brewing in this guy’s throat to what was brewing inside his head.  I wished we could spend the rest of our time watching him pitch to a well-compensated television executive a one-hour drama starring Isaiah Washington as a phlegm-y freelance vampire lawyer by day that works from his secluded, dark condo and then turns phlegm-y vampire cop by night.  Our hero’s Achilles Heel: his phlegm-y throat clear heard by his enemies while he lurks in the shadows, ready to pounce and deliver his own phlegm-y, vampire-y justice. But the discussion was diverted by joking about those crazy actors…those crazy, homophobic actors that buy crazy, homophobic homes with their crazy, homophobic money from their successful network shows…about doctors.

This post was originally pubished on Say Something Funny B*tch!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It’s Like a Logline but a Few Thousand Words Longer: A Reading of LA Literature

The Joan Didion Guide to Fabulous: Your Eyewear Must Weigh More Than You
This summer I checked out a reading at Skylight Books in Los Feliz of The Cambridge Companion Guide to Literature of Los Angeles.  Yes, there are other words written by other people in this town that are not James Cameron or the schmucks that stare at their five-year-old, incomplete screenplays on their laptops at various Coffee Beans.   I moved to Los Angeles from New York last February and carved out an identity in my stand-up and this blog as a fish out of water, lifetime New Yorker that doesn’t get this crazy world of Master Cleanses and being late to everything.  As time passed, LA began to feel like a home and everyone around me would rather I return to New York, than hear me utter another sentence that began with “See, in New York, this would never happen…” I realized I should embrace this city and get to know it.   At the reading, I learned that Bertolt Brecht lived in Santa Monica.  I wonder if he also bitched about the traffic and felt entitled that everyone on the east side should come to him. Contributor Eric Avila discussed Joan Didion’s interest in LA crime, particularly the Manson murders:  “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true. The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.”  If I was as skinny and rich as Joan, I certainly wouldn’t bother mussing my best Halston pant suit by sitting through murder trials and visiting former Manson followers in prison.  I learned a little history about the building I was sitting in.  In the 70’s until it’s closing in 1994, the store that is now Skylight Books was another independent bookstore, Chatterton’s that supported and sold books of the LA poets at the time, including one of the evening’s readers, Bill Mohr. The gentleman next to me, who did not possess an inherent understanding of personal space and was leaning on my shoulder the whole time, nodded wildly at the reference to Chatterton’s.  By the look of him, it’s possible he’s been sitting in that same spot since the days of Chatterton’s and let Skylight Books be built around him.  When my 22-minute sitcom attention span started to wane, I checked out my fellow audience members.  Like at every event that requires quiet, rapt attention, there’s always a lady rummaging through a plastic bag who never quite finds what’s she’s looking for.   I noticed there was another “Mad Nodder” in the front room.  Every time a reader mentioned a quote, or a book title, this guy would nod away in that overtly presentational way.  I wondered if this how you pick someone up at a book reading since you can’t buy a drink or talk.  “Hey, look at me. I know a lot of stuff about the stuff this guy’s talking about.  Want to come over to my place and do…stuff?” After the reading, I noticed him schmoozing with the writers and I realized his intention was never to pick anyone up (certainly not women), but rather to pick up some job prospects.  “Hey writers, I know a lot of stuff about stuff you write because I also write about the same stuff.  Can you refer me to your lit agent, so I can get paid…for stuff.”  When I was driving back to Echo Park, Sunset was closed off from Douglas Street to Elysian Park Ave because of a murder in a marijuana dispensary.  I wondered if the murder would be worthy of a Joan Didion essay, or if Echo Park would be worthy of Joan Didion.

This post was originally published at Say Something Funny...B*tch!

Monday, September 6, 2010

LA Field Trips #12: Huntington Library

"To Catch a Predator " in 1913
Is your house overflowing wit creepy child hobglobins or do we live in Victorian England?
I went to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens to check out the exhibit, Child’s Play?: Children’s Book Illustration of 19th Century Britain.  Huntington Library should extend a free bus trip and admission to parents that spend their energy screaming at School Board meetings about “inappropriate books.”  For as long as adults are in charge of creating children’s literature, children’s movie and television shows, kids have always been reading and watching fucked up, crazy shit.  Most of the crazy will go over their heads, but the small subconscious impression that will be left can prepare kids for a world that ‘s bigger than their Justin Bieber bedspreads.  After getting lost in a Zen Garden, a Rose Garden, a bamboo forest, a long line at the cafĂ©, a giant lawn full of marble statues that looks like the opening credits of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I made my way to the actual exhibit I came to see. I was allowed to take pictures as long as the flash is off, so now I have a lot of blurry pictures of nothing.  The exhibit was small but chock full of child molestation, naked male fairies, child hobgoblins, murderous trolls, and a biography of the illustrator, Charles Altamont Doyle (dad to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) that includes details about his alcoholism and stay in a lunatic asylum.  One of my favorites illustrations is of the Miss Muffet nursery rhyme from a book of Mother Goose Fairytales, illustrated by Arthur Rackham.  Miss Muffet is chilling with her curds and whey, and lurking behind her was a spider that also happened to be rocking a top hat and old man glasses.  The illustration took a rhyme that means nothing and made into a “Stranger Danger” cautionary tale.  “So Muffet, my web is right about us, want to come over for curds and whey candy and play that hoop and stick game that’s all the rage with you kids these days? And when I say, “hoop and “stick,” I really mean…” Today if there was a graphic on a lunch box of that monkey that Dora the Explorer hangs out with, eyeballing Dora in that “To Catch A Predator way, the heads of mothers would explode in the aisles of Target and Costco stores across America.

This post was originally posted on Say Something Funny...B*tch!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why does my gum taste like salad?

I grabbed lunch at Umami Burger with friend Julie (see the wine tasting post below) at the hipster hangout epicenter, Space 15 Twenty. Space 15 Twenty is a shopping center with an  Urban Outfitters, Free People,  an art gallery and screenings of Spike Jonze films.   Right outside Umami, we noticed a Seedbomb "gumball machine."  For fifty cents you can purchase a ball of seeds of regional flowers and engage in a green terror campaign by bombing areas that need plant life the most: dirt patches, parking lots, abandoned lots...and giant hipster shopping centers.