Friday, October 31, 2008

Rock, Paper, Scissors


My favorite game is catch. Amber throws a toy, and I chase after it, and fight her over the stuffed prize. Today Amber and Annmarie are playing rock, paper, scissors. The game is often used as a selection method in a similar way to coin flipping or drawing straws to randomly select a person for some purpose. However, unlike truly random selections, it can be played with skill if the game extends over many sessions, as a player can often recognize and exploit the non-random behavior of an opponent. The opponent is Annmaries x-boyfriend and stalker. He is making life miserable for Annmarie-and her unwanted courtroom drama is draining her, and as a result is affecting Amber. Now it’s time to take away all the false methods Bill is playing, and put the facts to paper. With his restraining order still in place, Annmarie is fighting for her safety, and freedom. It is a truly sad case when someone wont let the past be left where it belongs: in the past. It should not be such a struggle to get away from someone you no longer love, and to live in fear because the heartbreak of the opponent has turned obsessive. Amber is good-spirited about the ordeal, as it has nothing to do with her directly, but the sadness in her friend breaks her heart. I have been guarding my house, laying outside of Annmaries room. If anyone comes anywhere near, I fire off barking like an ambulance. I want everyone safe. Rock, Paper, Scissors is the best two out of three. Court has been in session twice, and the third one is the charm.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

THE DANCE * GASP



Artemio Fredrick Delavega- El Paso Texas


Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

Holding you, I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey who's to say? you know I might have changed it all

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

Yes my life, it's better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

California Rain

California weather can be so confusing. First it’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too sunny. This morning the rain came in short brief spurts. Long enough to wet my nose, but not enough to grab a drink of rain. Rain in Hollywood is always welcomed. It clears out the smog, and gives us a better view of what’s around us.


Today Amber got a letter from someone very special to her, Heather. It was a nice surprise-and it reminded Amber of a lot of interesting memories they had together in Texas. Listening to “push a little daisy and ya make it come up” song, and traveling, and firewalking, getting matching tattooes on their feet and back, and a lot of really unforgettable times. Amber loves Heather and can’t wait to see her again. When someone knows your true self, and loves you anyway, that is priceless.



Amber has that with Greg
Amber has that with Heather
Amber had that with Damon
Amber has that with Nancy, Lisa, Celeste, Aimee, Lee, Jessica, Matthew
Amber has that with Brian
Amber has that with me.

When you have people in your life for long periods of time it’s a great measuring stick of where you are and where you were. Is life growing towards Gods light, or are we in the dark? Family and long-term friends remind us of what our real journey is-and when we spill our guts on the “latest” it let’s us hear out loud what we are really doing.

Amber went to see a speaker on Alcoholic recovery last night. It was wonderful to hear- and the stories of the speaker and his own journey made Amber laugh. It was refreshing to hear of what can happen if we let the abuses of our past get the best of us. She came home and whispered funny stories in my ear. Of course the stories were only told during commercial breaks in-between her SONS OF ANARCHY show where she watches her friend and mentor Katey Sagal play a character she was born to do. It really is nice watching the people we love do what they love. If we celebrate the successes of others, we will be much happier pups.

Now the rain spurt is taking a break, I will think about what it is like to be a fish in water all the time. Our two goldfish Thelma and Louise live the same lives we do, but quite different too. Our journeys are all different, and celebrating the differences and recognizing what we all have in common at the same time is what a celebratory life is all about. Let the rain come and go as intended, and let me enjoy every moment of it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amber Pictures



dirty


I love getting dirty. Amber scoops me up and takes me to the doggie spa because she always likes me looking and smelling my best. But in true form, life is messy. We get dirty. This morning Amber was looking at her black chipped fingernails and realized how beautiful the grit on them really was. It’s life. It’s broken. It’s beautiful. It’s the way she wants to explore things in film—celebrating the dirty side in her sepia-toned concept titled “Children of the West.” Amber is getting ready to start filming this true to grit story. The ugly thing’s becoming beautiful is artistic, and lovely and raw…and shows a life that’s been lived. Scars, bruises…and chipped polish. Amber’s mind thinks cinematically and today she is obsessed with visions she wants to explore on film.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Jealousy




Life can be frustrating sometimes. Today Amber felt frustrated and discontent with certain uncertainty's. When the gate is opened in the morning and we roam free in the backyard, it is easy sometimes to believe the grass is greener on the other side. We sniff along the fence looking for something better, and before we know it we have to return home.

Jealousy sucks. Period.

This is especially true when the grass is in fact GREENER over there. It is written in every self help book on Amber's shelves that jealousy doesn't serve us. It's not what you get, but what you can give away, and so on. So what if we are overachieving dreamers who want to truly make our dreams come true, and we are spending all of our time with people who will never help create the dream life we want? Are we wasting time--abusing the last few years of youth, or is Amber being admirable for dating the plumber (*) without expecting anything in return? And what if the plumber lives with his mother and hasn't fixed a pot in a long time, or maybe even ever? Do we continue to wait, and hope--even when the opportunities for her are becoming slimmer and slimmer? I want Amber to have a good mate to build a life with. I've spent years with her dating row after row of Mr.Right-NOW men. Loving, wonderful people-- but different approaches to the needs Amber want's to create with them.

So today Amber's discontent is overshadowing her, even though she knows better. God's grace allows these unanswered questions, but when we turn it over and pray for God's guidance- we can have magnificent standards, while still loving others.

* There is no real plumber in Amber's immediate circle

Wuff Wuff
Charlie Girl

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jay Laisne/Amber on set

Doggie stories



There are many distasteful things that we do, such as getting a bath, paw toenail clipping, and even the unthinkable..a good brushing or a flea bath. We do those things because we have to in order to live a good life. But what about the things we do that make our life worse? Why do we do those things? Is it an unconscious decision? It’s a habit, but it doesn’t serve us.

What we do and say can actually shape our life into something we really don’t want. It can happen when we least expect it. That’s telling “the story” of everything wrong in our lives. We do it because it fills a need, it gets attention, and it let’s us live as the victim of our circumstance. The story, the story, the story! When will we ever tire of the story? This dog is tired of hearing the same stories over and over again. The stories that don’t serve us need to be left behind, or dealt with.

It’s really easy to do—telling everyone everything that is wrong in our lives, and it can become a habit. Stories of our past really do make us who we are, but if we only live in the stories that are negative, or tragic, a dramatic—we lose what matters and become what we were desperately avoiding all along. A big sappy negative pile of mental poop. Mental and emotional difficulties are sometimes very hard to take while trying to live a serene and joyful life. Why live a serene and joyful life? Because it hurts less. And getting away from the pains of adolescence takes practice. Every dog has a tough time of learning what we need to grow—and we aren’t the only victim’s. Everyone has had something that they didn’t find tasteful, but we all must live in the now. Now is what matters. Now rocks.

Our transcendence over the problems and stories of the past will give us an opportunity to grow. Surviving doggie adolescence was difficult at times. There are unleashed mistakes, housetraining, and behavioral problems. And I’m not even talking about me. The others in my life were contributors in many of my negative stories, but why let those stories live on forever, and shape who I am today? It is up to me to not live there, but to create new magical stories. The kind that I want to tell. The kind that put a smile on someone’s face. The kind that makes me twitch with happiness, which makes my nose wet.

Amber had a wonderful weekend. It was uneventful, and lovely. She spent time with friends that matter to her, and she spent just the perfect amount of time curled up at home with us. She met new friends and spent time with the ones she already knew. She went out with the lovely Erin, she spent time with Brian, Katya, and Michelle, and she was truly happy.

The weekend went by a moment to fast, and she is back at work..and feeling blessed. I’m curled up waiting for her to get home. Tonight she is going to hike the canyon and learn how to use her new pink digital camera. Now if she would only stop practicing on my furry face. That flashing light is driving me dog crazy!

Amber and Allie Dawn

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jessica, Amber's niece (beautiful)

pottie pads





Day's like today it is easier to understand dogs rather than humans. Amber got a text this morning from someone telling her she is brainwashed because of what her essays and papers were about. She laughed about the fact that someone would go out of there way to let her know something negative. Why waste the time focusing on that? Our home is a happy place where us dogs curl up and love each other, and we have a very tight network of friends that support and love what we do. I don't pee on anyone elses potty pad, why should they try peeing on mine?


Annmarie is coming home from her auto show today and Sasha dog is already wagging her tail with excitement. We love her, and she is part of our family. She has more pink clothes and ribbons than all of us doggies combined. Our living Barbie...

Last night Amber went out with Erin (who is the most amazing gal) and celebrated her friends birthday. It was such a lovely evening with friends and dinner, and candle's surrounding a beautiful backyard pool. It was a celebration of life and a magical moment that snuck up on Amber when she least expected it. Life is wonderful--and we are blessed. Now if only I could get the other doggies to stop running in circles around me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Amber's The sun also rises

(This was a report written by Amber for her English Literature class. I enjoyed curling up with her when she read many books, and learned about all walks of life-wuff)



Lady Brett Ashley in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises represents liberated post

World War 1 women. “Her hair was brushed back like a boys” (30) and her

dominating personality dances like a feminine chap throughout the novel. While it may

seem Brett Ashley is unsympathetic she is a positive and radical role model. She is defiant

to behavioral rules of the time period and she believes in equal rights between man and

women. She exercises her strength and equality immediately after being introduced in the

Novel by saying, “…give a chap a brandy and soda.”(29) Lady Ashley is not a meek

woman however her free spirit was earned and not always prominate. It is suggested that

she had an abusive marriage and her husband made her sleep on the floor. As a twice

divorced thirty four-year-old women it is clear she is not happy. Her spell put upon men

around her is an unnoticed action of revenge from her own broken up marriages.

Independent by choice Lady Brett Ashley aimlessly bounces flamboyantly from

relationship to relationship drowning casually in liquor along the way. It is easy to

sympathize with Lady Brett Ashley because of her soft spot for Jake Barnes, a man who

Became impotent from a war wound. When Jake asks Brett if she loves him she says she

“Simply turns to jelly” when he touches her. During the same conversation her blasé

Attitude changes and after Jake laughs off his war injury Bretts “eyes looked flat again”

(35) Showing her sadness of the situation. Brett complains to Jake that her life is

Unsatisfactory and miserable. As a liberated women sex and is significant to Lady Ashley

And without it she is incapable of a commitment but it is clear that her wild heart is loyal to

Her friend Jake regardless of her many affairs. Brett may prefer independence with her

Actions but her sadness is a strong price to pay for a liberated lifestyle. World War 1 is

Essential in Hemingway’s creation of Brett’s Character. The women of The Lost generation

Act out in antagonistic ways, and Brett is no exception. She displays her parade of men in

Front of other romances in a way that could appear cruel. However because her display is so

Extremely defiant it appears she is only testing the men and their loyalty towards her in a

Testing game. She delights in the attention she receives from men but her happiness is never

Truly existent. Brett is not a selfish woman and this is apparent again when she becomes

Involved with a young bullfighter fifteen years younger than her. This is an obvious attempt

At recapturing the youth she once had before her abusive marriages. In a selfless attempt she

breaks off the relationship in order to spare the career of the young bullfighter. Brett never

treats any man cruelly however her puppetry of men is displayed in a disruptive manner just

as any other chap of the post war period would do in order to exude masculinity, which may

be a symbol of strength. Like a bullfighter Brett kills bold hearts in a charming performance

balancing her feminine and equal rights as a woman chap. Lady Ashley like the other

characters in Hemingway’s novel know that during this time “Nobody ever lives their lives

all the way up except (bull) fighters”(18) and Brett is a liberated fighter.

Amber's

Lady Brett Ashley in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises represents liberated post

World War 1 women. “Her hair was brushed back like a boys” (30) and her

dominating personality dances like a feminine chap throughout the novel. While it may

seem Brett Ashley is unsympathetic she is a positive and radical role model. She is defiant

to behavioral rules of the time period and she believes in equal rights between man and

women. She exercises her strength and equality immediately after being introduced in the

Novel by saying, “…give a chap a brandy and soda.”(29) Lady Ashley is not a meek

woman however her free spirit was earned and not always prominate. It is suggested that

she had an abusive marriage and her husband made her sleep on the floor. As a twice

divorced thirty four-year-old women it is clear she is not happy. Her spell put upon men

around her is an unnoticed action of revenge from her own broken up marriages.

Independent by choice Lady Brett Ashley aimlessly bounces flamboyantly from

relationship to relationship drowning casually in liquor along the way. It is easy to

sympathize with Lady Brett Ashley because of her soft spot for Jake Barnes, a man who

Became impotent from a war wound. When Jake asks Brett if she loves him she says she

“Simply turns to jelly” when he touches her. During the same conversation her blasé

Attitude changes and after Jake laughs off his war injury Bretts “eyes looked flat again”

(35) Showing her sadness of the situation. Brett complains to Jake that her life is

Unsatisfactory and miserable. As a liberated women sex and is significant to Lady Ashley

And without it she is incapable of a commitment but it is clear that her wild heart is loyal to

Her friend Jake regardless of her many affairs. Brett may prefer independence with her

Actions but her sadness is a strong price to pay for a liberated lifestyle. World War 1 is

Essential in Hemingway’s creation of Brett’s Character. The women of The Lost generation

Act out in antagonistic ways, and Brett is no exception. She displays her parade of men in

Front of other romances in a way that could appear cruel. However because her display is so

Extremely defiant it appears she is only testing the men and their loyalty towards her in a

Testing game. She delights in the attention she receives from men but her happiness is never

Truly existent. Brett is not a selfish woman and this is apparent again when she becomes

Involved with a young bullfighter fifteen years younger than her. This is an obvious attempt

At recapturing the youth she once had before her abusive marriages. In a selfless attempt she

breaks off the relationship in order to spare the career of the young bullfighter. Brett never

treats any man cruelly however her puppetry of men is displayed in a disruptive manner just

as any other chap of the post war period would do in order to exude masculinity, which may

be a symbol of strength. Like a bullfighter Brett kills bold hearts in a charming performance

balancing her feminine and equal rights as a woman chap. Lady Ashley like the other

characters in Hemingway’s novel know that during this time “Nobody ever lives their lives

all the way up except (bull) fighters”(18) and Brett is a liberated fighter.

Ambers Grapes vs Locusts report

Both John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust undertake the task of exposing the harsh reality of the California dream during the Great Depression. While the Joad family in Steinbeck’s novel dream of finding a new life as farmers in the Central Valley, the characters in West’s novel seek their fortune among the glitter of Hollywood. And while the events of both books occur just miles apart, Steinbeck and West expose in different ways that the California dream can be a harsh and illusive fantasy.
The significant theme in The Grapes of Wrath is a great American theme: people like the Joads and other migrants moving west to find a better life. The promise of the California dream guides the Joads to California from Oklahoma. Ironically, the same dream that drove their forebears across the Atlantic and across the continent to settle Oklahoma. The difference is that now the Joads are forced west like the Indians, their ancestors forcefully drove west from the land. Still, the Joads were hopeful because “the Central Valley lures the migrants westward from Oklahoma and the entire Dust Bowl region with the dream of the Promised Land.” (Owens 129).
But the Joads are used as an example of the cruel reality of History. The Joad family believes that they can quench the thirst of the dust drought by moving west.
“It is the weltering pattern of American history laid bare: drive the Indians and serpent from the Promised Land only to discover that the Garden must lie yet further to the west.” (Owens 133) As Owen states, Steinbeck aligns the migrants deeply with American history. Throughout the novel the Joad family claim that their fathers had to “kill the Indians and drive them away” and “Grandpa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land.” (Steinbeck 34) We should recognize the reality that many Indians were killed and the land was taken over. Now once again as the cycle continues, the land is taken by the banks (the migrants’ own people) and the sins of their fathers are now visited upon them.
Under the strain of The Great Depression the family unit moves westward and “as the family’s fortunes decline the family morale declines too.” (Fontenrose 75) While the dream of a better life cleanses the fear of the reality of the move West, each family member is tested by that reality as “all of them were caught in something larger than themselves” (Steinbeck 31)
Ma Joad is the heart and soul of the family. She represents the true meaning of love. She leads through her feminine but hardened strength. A wife and mother whose only purpose in life is to be a farming housewife, she is fierce while taking on masculine traits, as she’s forced to hold her family together during their hardships. During this era the men were the leaders of the family. But the power dynamic of the Joad family changes as their character strengths and weaknesses are challenged. Ma Joad becomes the leader of the family. She is furious during the trip when it is suggested that the family break up for a while so Tom, the son could stay behind and fix another family’s car. ‘You done this ‘thought thinkin’ much. What we got left ‘in the world’? Nothin’ but us. Nothin’ but the folks…An’ now, right off, you wanna bust up the folks’ (Steinbeck 218). Ma Joad “was the power. She had taken control” (Steinbeck 218). She was the glue that stuck the family together during such an important time in their lives. Her plea is heeded and the family stays together. ‘We’re a-goin”…I don’ care what the pay is. We’re a-goin” (Steinbeck 451), she says, and in acts such as these she becomes the leader of her family.
Humbled in the circumstances at hand, pride overtakes her husband, Pa Joad. His rants, “ ‘Seems like times is changed. Time was when a man said what we’d do. Seems like women is tellin’ now’ “ (Steinbeck 453) However he relents and gives up his role as head of the family.
Grandpa and Grandma Joad are pillars of wisdom in the Joad family. Grandpa doesn’t want to go to California and when the family makes final preparations to go, he is forced to leave his lifetime home by being drugged with medicine from his own family. He knows that the reality of California dreams are not what the promise offers. He meets his death on the road to California. His fears are realized when he is buried away from his life long home. “The attempt to remove Grandpa by force from his native land kills him, and California is not a Promised Land but a man-blighted Eden.” (Crockett 108)
Grandma Joad dies in the process of moving to California as well. She is the second family member to die during the westward move, finally killing off the ancestral roots bound to Oklahoma. Her character isn’t as strong as grandpa’s but her death is certainly more dramatic. Grandma Joad dies in the truck while the family arrives in California. Steinbeck uses her death to symbolize what has been lost.
Tom Joad was sent to jail for four years for killing a man in self-defense. Now on parole he wants a fresh new start with his family. He gives a promise that there will be no more killing, that in California he will have a new life. Once he convinced his ma that it was the best decision to go along with the family, he gets himself into trouble once he’s there. His friend Jim Casy, a former preacher leads strikers in protest against the low wages given for fruit picking. Tom witnessed the murder of his friend when a group of prejudiced neighbors argued against Casy’s remarks about the starving children. Casy told them ‘You fellas don’ know what you’re doin’. You’re helpin’ to starve kids’ “ (Steinbeck 495). A man reacted by striking Casy in the head with a club and killing him. Tom’s reality of his promise he gave his ma changed. “They killed ‘him. Busted his head. I was standin’ there. I went nuts. Grabbed the pick handle…I--I clubbed a guy’” (Steinbeck 500). Although Tom ‘s intentions were to start a new life he continued his former cycle of fighting for survival.
The younger siblings, Ruthie, 12 and Winfield, 10, keep the story fresh but never innocent. “Ruthie and Winfield came out of their bed like hermit crabs from shells. For a moment they were careful; they watched to see whether they were still criminals. When no one noticed them, they grew bold. Ruthie hopped all the way to the door and back on one foot without touching the wall.” (Steinbeck 424) Finally towards the end of the story the children, like the adults, form like succumb to the realistic events surrounding the reality of the poisoned dream. ”Ruthie and Winfield tried to play for a while, and then they too relapsed into sullen inactivity, and the rain drummed down on the roof.” (Steinbeck 436)
Rose of Sharon is the pregnant daughter in the Joad family. After her 19-year-old husband Connie leaves her with the reality of raising a baby alone, fear haunts her during the trip West. She feels she deserves the wrath of God upon her. This is expressed when a crazy lady antagonizes Rose of Sharon at camp. “The devil was jus’ a-struttin’ through this here camp.” (Steinbeck 309) Ma Joad comforts her crying daughter by telling her “You aint big enough or mean enough to worry God much.” (Steinbeck 312) But the comfort Ma Joad gave wasn’t enough to save Rose of Sharon’s baby. The Joads face the sadness of disposing of three dead family members, finding that the California dream is not one without wrath. But obstacles to human survival unveil the intense force of the spirit. After having her stillborn child Rose of Sharon offers nourishment of her breast milk to save a starving man in a barn. “Ma knows what must be done, but the decision is Rosa Sharon’s: ‘Ma’s eyes passed Rose of Sharon’s eyes, and then came back to them. And the two women looked deep into each other. The girl’s breath came short and gasping. “She said, ‘yes.” (Shockley 94) This display of the human spirit’s generosity in the face of catastrophe and broken promises outweighs the crushing reality of hopeless lives. This single instance of charity highlights larger Christian themes in Steinbeck’s novel.
Christian symbolism is prominent throughout the novel. “The title phrase “Grapes of Wrath” is a good case in point… it is a direct Christian allusion, suggesting the glory of the coming of the Lord, revealing that the story exists in Christian context, indicating that we should expect to find some Christian meaning. (Carlson 98)
The title of The Grapes of Wrath is used in the text of the book as well. " And in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage"(Steinbeck 449). Several Biblical parallels are valid. “The Old Testament imagery is obvious enough. The Exodus, the wandering in the desert, the promised land, the title, and the very ring and roll of the language ally this novel with the story of the great primitive migration of the chosen people.” (Dougherty 115) As the Joads begin to approach California “A rattlesnake crawled across the road and Tom hit it and broke it and left it squirming” (Steinbeck 238). This may be a sign that the adversarial trek is now over and that now a new life with less hardship may start. “Jesus, are we gonna start clean!” (Steinbeck 238) It appears that this is a chance to be reborn and start again. This is illusive. There is danger in the American dream.
Steinbeck’s writing style presents the reality of the Dust Bowl in immense detail. He opens the novel describing just how all encompassing the drought really was. “ An even blanket covered the earth. It settled on the corn. Piled up on the tops of the fence posts, piled up on the wires; it settled on roofs, blanketed the weeds and trees.” (Steinbeck 3) He tells the story of the Great Depression through the events of the Joad’s family’s move west, along with alternating newsreel style chapters that describe the events of the period ”whose purpose is to present, with choric effect, the philosophy or social message to which the current situation gives rise.” (Lisca, 168) Steinbeck interweaves details with the purpose of showing the dramatic conditions rather than having a solo focus on the Joad family. The strategy is to have the reader form a relationship with the Joad family, then understand social situation as it’s written in every other chapter. The result is “sympathy for the individuals and to moral indignation about their social condition.” (Lisca 172)
The strategy of the alternating chapters helps express the enormity of the Joad’s plight. “The reader must not only be shown the enormity of the widespread suffering, he must also identify with the migrants, and feel their loss, their hope, their frustration and futility, their enduring strength on a personal level. (Owens & Torrance 120)

Leaving Steinbeck’s destitute fields of Bakersfield behind, Nathaniel West’s novel, The Day of The Locust shows characters caught up in a different place with a different brand of desperation. “When The Day Of The Locust appeared in 1939. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was the number one best seller.” (Madden 171) Beyond the fact that both books were written in the same time period of The Great Depression, there are several other similarities between these novels. The dream of what California life can offer hits Nathaniel West’s characters with the cold reality of the poisoned dreams of Hollywood, just as the reality of California’s dream hit the Joad family. However it is stated in The Day Of The Locust that: “Refugees from the nation’s great heart have come to die.” “Going West becomes synonymous with the death wish.” (Steiner 169)
“The Day Of The Locust was originally entitled The Cheated. West saw the lower middle classes as a frightening, pugnacious mob of cheated people—victims of America’s dream world” (Mueller 230) The fantasy dream of sunshine and hope leave pulped souls neglected by California’s promise. In West’s novel, the target of Hollywood is the dream itself. The contrast between the dream and reality is familiar among both novels. “Dominating the novel are the twin elements of the search and it’s frustration. Always the searchers are cheated, not only by Hollywood but by life itself, which promises so much and delivers so little… all things are in essence: lies.” (Light 171)
The painter Todd Hackett, who negotiates Hollywood, guides the reader through Nathaniel West’s story and it’s desperate cast of characters. Tod realizes that Hollywood is as fake as the movie sets he builds, and as fragile as the costumes he designs. The artist in his soul is what guides him to be carried into the dream of something more. He is not an actor, or a wannabe, but understands the integrity of art. “Tod, caught in the melee, is swept along helplessly, a cheated one himself.” (Mueller 231) He hopelessly hangs on to his sanity by looking for figures and landscapes to paint. “Abe (the little dwarf man) was an important figure in a set of lithographs called “The Dancers” on which Tod was working.” (West 26) But Todd is trapped by the reality of the fantasy he must paint over and over.
Homer, Faye and Abe represent those who have been cheated out of their dream. Homer is an outsider as many others in California’s fantasy world were, and are. Homer is an empty character who is a shy victim of circumstances. He has unresolved tension mounting from his memories of an awkward sexual encounter he experienced as a bookkeeper in an Ohio Hotel before the move to Hollywood.
Faith in Hollywood is deceptive. Faye is as deceptive as her name. This desperate actress gets jobs doing movie extra work, or if lucky: a badly done one liner. Faye, like many other hopefuls in California’s Hollywood, lies, cheats, and steals to tries to become famous. Her only purpose in life is to be part of the dream world of beautiful people, however she lives in the low-life style of the ugly struggling masses. Faye is oblivious to her fraudulent life. She is heartless just the same. Men flock to her every whim but ends up burned by her fake promises. Her beauty overpowers her ill behavior. “ Raging at him, she was still beautiful. That was because her beauty was structural like a tree’s, not a quality of her mind or heart. (West 120) Her transparent way of using people is not laughed at. Perhaps this is because of the feminine yet cold sexuality she flaunts, and we are put in position of feeling sorry for her. Sorry or not, she still persecutes any man that enters her life. Though laughably ignorant to her ridiculous way, she is not completely dumb. “Yet Faye did have some critical ability, almost enough to recognize the ridiculous.” (West 88) Faye works as a whore to come up with money to bury her father, Harry Greener, and even has sex for a black fitted dress she wears to the funeral. “In her falseness, she suggests the whole Hollywood lie, and her promise, like that of the Hollywood dream-products, leads not to satisfaction, only to increased frustration.” (Light 176) The reality of her existence is that “age, accident or disease” (West 120) will not be the only things that kill her dream because she already lives a lie without hope.
Faye’s father Harry Greener is a ridiculous comic who fails at everything but embarrassment. “In his role Harry purveys a burlesque act consisting of violent kicks in the belly and falls back on the back of his neck. Like another performer, Lemuel Oitkin, Harry occasionally gratifies his insatiable audiences by the extremity of his agony.” (Light 175) He performs like a clown up to the moment of his death. He dies knowing his own reality of failure, knowing that his life was wasted on the Hollywood dream.
West uses symbols throughout the book to heighten the ugliness of a shallow life. “Honest Abe Kusich” is a mouthy and angry dwarf who is first introduced as he lays in a doorway like a “pile of soiled laundry” (West 26) His character is placed in the novel as a way to describe right away that dreams in California are shriveled up, soiled and angry. The dwarf represents the absurdity of the dreams when he is introduced to the readers wearing a “Woman’s flannel bathrobe.” (West 27) In another metaphor, Homers over sized hands symbolize the need for “A life of their own.” (West 39) This dramatizes the fact that Homer is not completely in control of his own destiny, but has a dream of a life of his own. Homer controls his body but not his hands. Even when he awakes, his hands do not. He rinses his hands in cold water to try and bring back feeling into the fishlike deadness of them. The same is true for the other characters caught up in a dream web life. Homer rinses himself in the cold dream world of Hollywood as a way to try and feel something other than the cheated life he lives. A baptism of cold ice is the only result he can get. Another obvious metaphor is the cockfight. The characters in this story will fight until the death, just as the cocks do. The ironic fact is that the cocks are fighting in an underground show in a seedy garage. Although the performance is real, the audience is wasted: It never loves them. Like the people that make the cocks fight, nothing is gained and the feathers never lighten the doomed future of an ugly ratty death.
In West’s novel, Hollywood, California becomes its own character, which dominates the other characters that live within it. The powerful last scene in which Todd drowns among the mob at the movie premier symbolizes the way in which Hollywood and its worldly power can drown a simple man’s dreams with it’s own wrath. Ironically, movies continued to be made and the movie industry flourished during The Great depression. Just as Todd was swallowed by the mob, Depression-Era moviegoers wanted to disappear into the dream worlds of something they could not attain themselves. ”Every day of their lives they read newspapers and went to the movies.” (West 192) Unlike the movie stars on the silver screen the characters in West’s novel, struggle against the crushing reality of Hollywood’s false glitter.

Both Nathaniel West and John Steinbeck lived among the people they wrote about. Although both books are dramatized both stories hit hard truths of the decade. Both novels are sandwiched between the roaring twenties and World War Two. The Great Depression invaded lives of everyone characterized in these books. Despite the fact that people like The Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath were barely hanging on to survival, people like Faye Greener in The Day Of The Locust wanted to entertain. Why during a time of extreme poverty would someone go and watch a movie with their hard-earned wages? It was escapism in its finest form. The only way to escape the reality of life was to live in a dream. Some would watch movies; others would try to be in the movies. It was a way to defy reality. Both novels written in a realism style share hopes, dreams and failed efforts during The Great Depression.












Annotated Bibliography

Carlson, Eric W. “Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath” (1958)
A Casebook on The Grapes of Wrath, Greenwood Press 2000

Crockett, H. Kelly “The Bible and The Grapes of Wrath”
A Casebook on The Grapes of Wrath
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, Inc. 1968

Dougherty, Charles T. “The Christ figure in the Grapes of Wrath” A Casebook on the grapes of Wrath, Greenwood Press, 2000

Donahue, McNeil, A Casebook on The Grapes of Wrath, Thomas A. Crowell, 1834

Fontenrose, Joseph “Looking Back at The Grapes of Wrath”
The Critical Response to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Greenwood Press 2000

Light, James F. Nathaniel West: An Interpretive Study, Northwestern University Press, 1971

Lisca, Peter “The Grapes of Wrath as Fiction” A Casebook on The Grapes of Wrath, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, Inc. 1968

Madden, David “A confluence of voices: The Day of the Locust 1”, Nathaniel West The Cheaters and the Cheated, Everett/ Edwards, inc. 1973

Malin, Irving, Nathaniel West’s Novels

Owens, Louis, John Steinbeck’s Re-Vision of America, Georgia Press, 1985
Shockley, Martin Christian Symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath, T.Y. Crowell, Inc. 1968

Steinbeck, John, The Grapes of Wrath, Penguin Group, 1939

West, Nathaniel, The Day of The Locust, Penguin Books, 1983

Nude beaches written by Amber

(This is a magazine article Amber wrote years ago. It was published in Naturist magazine) This doggie loves to dig through Ambers old files and put articles, essays, etc. out there.My paws are tired from clearing out her computer)



Nude beaches have exploded in popularity. Sexuality has always been the stereotype affiliated with naturist nudism. When my male friend invited me to join him and other working professionals in a “windmill project” at a nude beach I was intrigued. I thought that this might be a good opportunity to do some field ethnography research. Recent surveys confirm that the majority of Americans are becoming more and more receptive to nudism, which was once considered a carnal and taboo lifestyle. It has been commonplace in Europe for over 50 years. However there still seems to be a lot of misinformation and unanswered questions about the nudist subculture. I counted my objections. I have stretch marks, my own idea of what I call “baby fat” and scars from various accidents throughout the years. Most embarrassing is my “waxadent” scarring from my latest visit to the “other” beauty salon.

The hardest part for me was making the decision about having my child join me in this “naturist” environment. I made the decision that this adventure would be ethically moral when my neighbor trusted her twelve-year-old daughter to join us. She said that when she was young her parents took her and her sisters to nude beaches often. After much consideration, I packed my sunscreen, explained the difference between “freedom of clothing” and “sexuality” to my eleven-year-old daughter and we all headed to the nudist beach.

My daughter asked me the day before if she could buy a pink wig to wear. Perhaps this was a subconscious decision that she wanted to be disguised and not held accountable in this atmosphere. Or perhaps instead she saw our adventure as a party where she could express herself fully. When we arrived at the beach as flashy newcomers, I felt like I was prepared. I wore a full piece 1960 short swimsuit I bought especially for the occasion. I felt especially sexy covering the flaws on my body that are unattractive and accentuating the assets that I am especially proud of such as my breasts and bottom. It’s funny that I bought something to wear that was more modest than what I would regularly wear on a public beach.

Another dynamic to this adventure is the fact that I had worked as a stripper in my past. It has been several years since I entertained in this way but my new shy outlook even shocked me. Covering my flaws with makeup, I took my clothing off publicly in a seductive way entertaining men nightly. I supported myself by the physical appearance of my body and by using my sexuality. Flaunting my body for money and attention had never been an issue for me. And having long conversations and the occasional cry while in the dressing room naked seemed completely normal and comfortable. However I decided to stay modest in this new “naturist” environment. Was I trying to set a modest standard for my daughter? I still don’t know the answer to my newfound modesty in this situation. My daughter and her friend were dressed up with hula skirts over their swimsuits, and both had expressed that they were not going nude and that they were not going to look at the “gross naked people”. I completely agreed with them and gave them their own adolescent rules: no removing any clothing. Period.

After driving behind a caravan of friends, about an hour and a half out of Los Angeles we arrived at our destination. We met our party in the parking lot and after loading all of our drinks, snacks, sand tools and windmill equipment into carts we trekked down the 300-foot cliff to the beach. I walked ahead of the children like a mother bear on the lookout, paving the way. A park ranger walked beside me casually talking about the weather. My first thought was “Does this fully dressed officer of the law think we are a strange bunch?” Then I experienced my first reaction to the nudity.

A number of naked adults were playing volleyball. I wanted to stare. They all seemed so comfortable in their nudity that they seemed to really ignore the fact that everyone was naked. They actually were scoring points and keeping track. I looked behind me as we walked by the players to check my daughter and her friend’s reaction. Both walked by the volley ball game as if they would be struck with lightning for looking. Heads down and holding back awkward giggles the girls followed me further up the beach, passing naked men, women, and thankfully, other children. My fears of “bad parenting” felt more justified. Children played alongside the adults in a manner of serenity. Was it a cultural difference?

When we stopped to set up camp I still was not used to what was going on around me. Still clothed and sober, I tried to act natural as other naked beachgoers gathered around our especially large party to see what it was we were up to. After the discovery of our “windmill project” everyone seemed to accept us as part of them. My daughter and her friend teamed together in efforts to ignore the naked adults, and I layed down my towels, and immediately took out my internal energy by pounding on a drum that I brought for entertainment. The children immediately ran and jumped into the ocean, my friends started organizing the bamboo for the windmill as I kept up the drumming for an extended period. The “naturist” environment seemed to indeed, be very natural. So natural in fact that I felt like I should have brought my grooming scissors to cut back the overgrown “ jungle like” pubic hair on several penis and vagina areas. The nudity that I was accustomed to was different here. There were no plump breast jobs, or perfected bikini waxes, but instead a comfortable amount of wrinkles, natural body scars, stretch marks, and “cold water” penises.

As the day progressed my comfort level progressed as well. I stopped my own gawking and even felt comfortable enough to remove my full piece swimsuit and wear a wrap around my naked body instead. However, I maintained my self-consciousness and never allowed my vagina to show. I felt especially beautiful with my colorful cover up, and wild hair blowing in the salty breeze. I felt a sort of sexual energy around me as the men were building the windmill and the women were gathered in a clan working together preparing food, watching the children and supporting the men in their building endeavor. The only sexuality was the thoughts I related with nudity, and the dynamic of masculinity and femininity expressed in a fashion that isn’t shown much in daily Hollywood life. Any expectancy of independence was stripped away as we worked as a group or tribe. I really enjoyed feeling like a feminine and almost weak woman amongst the other women. The men had their place in this society and so did the women. I was happy being the weaker of the sexes. I wasn’t expected to help with the men's heavy work, as the men were not expected to help us with ours. It was an unplanned ritual that just formed itself naturally. I noticed that everyone around me also looked content with this set up. We were the Windmill tribe and we belonged here. The men appeared especially strong and the women seemed spiritually beautiful working alongside the children. Everything was perfect.

My friends Greg and Lisa showed up in the middle of the afternoon. Both of them are highly educated and moral people. Not to say that what we were doing was immoral but I felt a twinge of guilt when they joined us, as if I was “caught in the act”. I covered up even more. Not for modesty but as some sort of ethical belief I must have brought with me. By looking at their faces, I could visibly see the culture shock. The rest of our “tribe” had spent several hours together bonding in a family sort of way by the time they arrived. Everyone welcomed them with open arms, excitement at their late arrival, and a nice cold alcoholic beverage to relax them. What seemed interesting is that no one ever discussed the nudity. Everyone knew that nudity was a key element here and no one felt they needed to talk about it. After about an hour of absorbing the environment Greg and Lisa became members of our tribe. They never disrobed but Greg joined the men working although no one asked him too, and Lisa began to paint colorful flowers on women’s breasts. She even braided my hair in a loving motherly fashion as I lay in the sand listening to the drumming around me. At this point I was part of a mysterious tribe and I was in love with my people.

Another interesting factor was the drug ritual that was going on at our camp. While the children swam freely in the ocean the adults hid in a tent and smoked pot, did bumps of cocaine and shots of hard liquor. Then we would come out of the tent as if nothing was going on, and we would continue with whatever project we were working on. No one did too much. We all maintained a slight high, instead of a drug overload.

There are unwritten rules on behavior at nude beaches. In my invitation to the “windmill project” I was warned that there may be gawkers, no cameras were allowed and that sexual activity is illegal and offensive. In the Los Angeles county laws on “Nudity and Disrobing” are this: No person shall appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk, change clothes, disrobe or |be on any beach in such manner that the genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic symphysis, pubic hair, buttocks, natal cleft, perineum, anus, anal region or pubic hair region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person, is exposed to public view, except in those portions of a comfort station, if| any, expressly set aside for such purpose. B) This section shall not apply to persons under the age of 10 years, provided such children are sufficiently clothed to conform to accepted community standards. C) This section shall not apply to persons engaged in a live theatrical performance in a theater, concert hall, or similar establishment which is primarily devoted to theatrical performances.

The windmill was finished and as the sun set over the ocean. We all celebrated with photographs and we packed up our sunscreen, towels and sand buckets and headed to my friends house to continue our party.

The sexuality stereotype affiliated with naturistic nudism is not completely inaccurate. Once we reached our party destination, the tensed up sexuality was unleashed. The host of our party had food and more drinks waiting for the tribe at his home. Once there we all stripped our clothing off again to swim in his pool, and lounge in the hot tub. The children were tucked safely into bed and the adults began to make out with their dates, and some with other peoples dates. I was only an observer. My “mama bear” mode was in high gear watching my friends participate in what became a small orgy. For those of us that were not involved, we just carried on with conversations and drinks as if nothing was happening. The mood was one of exctacy, and the freedom from clothing at the nude beach was indeed the factor in this scenario. I am still a bit shocked at the behavior on this day and night. However, if I was invited again, I’m sure I would attend.

Short films written by Amber

Short films remain an important medium for established and aspiring filmmakers. The short film is shorter in time, but in today’s market it can be just as important as feature films, especially in the independent market. The short film is a great way to show talent’s and works of filmmakers and actors. The movie, Napolean Dynamite, was based on the filmmakers Jared Hess’s earlier short film Peluca. Another example is the film “Hustle and Flow” which was also financed as a result of filmmaker Craig Brewer’s earlier short film “Poor and Hungry”. Short films are an excellent way to “be discovered” by Hollywood’s power players. For up and coming filmmakers showing short films shows an opportunity that may have not been secured before, therefore the short film is incredibly significant in the media of film.

There are hundreds of short film festivals around the globe today. Maybe even thousands. The short film market today is thriving as hundreds of hopeful, and often talented, filmmakers submit short’s displaying their talents.

Short films started in the early days of moving pictures. In the beginning of film history most American films were short. Films cost about a nickel and lasted about a minute. They eventually got longer and longer, but the history of the short film is significant.
Between 1908 and 1913, lengendary filmmaker D.W. Griffith produced “450 short films, an enourmous number”. This gave the filmmaker a great chance to improve his craft by experimenting with camera movements, close ups and actors performances. When talk’s of making longer films was first brought up, one of Hollywood’s first actresses, Lillian Gish thought that “a movie that long would hurt (the audience’s) eyes”. He later went on to make Judith of Bethulia (1914) and The Birth of a Nation (1915) which lasted over two hours. It was the effect of working on short films, that resulted in a timeless, and controversial career in film for Griffith. This set in motion of starting with short film, before moving on to feature length films.

During the great depression people were’nt thinking about movies so much as they were keeping their jobs or their homes. Theatres looked for ways to keep people coming to movies so movie studio’s began looking for shorter subjects to show. There was less risk of boring the audience. Sound was still a new addition to film during the early days, and so musical entertainers were added to make sound while the short’s were rolling.

The market for short films today is becoming even broader through modern technology. Short films are shown on computers, and websites such as Youtube, and now even on cell phones. Filmmaker Frank Chindamo, CEO of company “Funlittlemovies” has shown that there is a huge market for short films ranging in subjects exploring modern mishaps related to such subjects as phone sex, radio psychiatry, jelly doughnuts, styling mousse, angry cats, blind dates, bondage, or even Gilbert Gottfried with x-ray vision.

Amber arguing two sides of an issue

Arguing two sides of an issue --and researching the side you don't believe in and standing up for it was a fun challenge for Amber. She chose polygamy as her subject. Because I'm a doggie with alot of sister dogs living with us, this was definately interesting--wuff wuff



Polygamous Rights are Righteous

Although polygamy is not legal in The United States, it’s still a controversial question of individual rights. Because of the negative way society looks at polygamist families, the laws across America condemn such unions. America is proud to proclaim that this is the Land of the Free, however polygamist marriages have not been legalized. Men and women have given their lives so that our society can live with equal rights and freedom to choose. The right to decide who to love, who to marry, and how many wives to have, should be left up to each individual’s personal preference.
Every American has the right to choose his or her own religious beliefs. Fundamental Mormons are no exception. Spirituality within the family is significant among polygamist groups. The Bible is accepted as truth within several religions, and it is an important part of our society as a whole. Bibles are used in courtrooms, and God’s name is used as a way to promise truth. Classrooms across the country use the name of God in the Pledge of Allegiance. If courtrooms and classrooms can live by the standards within the Bible then why shouldn’t polygamy be another part of mainstream American culture?
Families throughout the Bible live Polygamist lives under God’s principle and even Prophets lived monogamous polygamy. It is a religious belief that doesn’t hurt anyone, and the illogical views that only one wife should be married with one man must be eradicated.
The benefits within a polygamist family unit are especially important. Society views Polygamist lifestyles as a degradation of women and children, however, the women and children are treated much better within a polygamist family than within the nuclear family. In a polygamist home the pressure to keep a man sexually satisfied while keeping up with the housework, bearing children, cooking and cleaning is a shared experience. Having sister wives eases the heavy burden of being a woman. Sister wives rarely are jealous of other sister wives because they work together for the ultimate purpose: To serve God, to serve and honor their husband, and to procreate . This is a much easier thing to achieve if you have help within your own family unit. The polygamist home is well kept because of shared house chores and children are easier to manage when sister wives are in the home sharing responsibilities of raising them equally. Another important benefit of polygamist marriages is that if a woman is unable to bear children, she is still able to share in the joys of motherhood.
The intimate trust between sister wives is powerful because the women know that their husbands are taken care of and loved by other sister wives. They know where their husbands are, and intimate lovemaking stays within the family marriage instead of out in the world with strangers or lovers. Diseases such as Aids and herpes are spreading throughout society because of unsafe sexuality. Monogamous polygamist marriages last longer than nuclear marriages where cheating and lying happen frequently. Divorce within a spiritual and polygamist home is not frequent.
Polygamists are not asking for acceptance of their religious beliefs. They only want equal rights that are given to one-on-one marriages between men and women in our society. It is time for citizens across our great nation to accept the unions of families through polygamy, regardless of uneducated and ignorant non-believers.

Amber essay Animalistic whippings

Animalistic Whippings

In “The Whipping” Robert Hayden uses animal imagery to depict the inhuman and degrading act of violence upon a young child, and successfully employs a diction of repetition to bring about the memory of another act of violence against the speaker of the poem.
It’s likely this is a broken home because of the first line: “The old woman across the way is whipping the boy again” (Hayden 1.2). It isn’t common to have an old woman and a young boy living together. Perhaps the woman is a grandmother, or great aunt.
Memory stimulation, or the repetition of the violent act, is set up in the first line: “Across the way” (Hayden 1) shows that this may also be that the memories are both across the way (the street) and back in the time of the speakers memory. Animal imagery adds to the readers stimulation in this binary style poem.
In the second stanza, Hayden uses imagery showing behavior much like that of the animal kingdom. The boy is in the undignified trap, “cornered” (Hayden 8) like an animal. The “animal ears” (Hayden 5) and the “zinnias” (Hayden 6) are symbolic of a jungle setting, a place often associated with savagery. The pleading of the boy when he is cornered causes him to respond with a “shrilly” (Hayden 9) tone, like the shrieks of a trapped animal. The melancholy tears bring about “woundlike memories”
(Hayden 12)for the young boy as well as the speaker.

The speaker is also trapped, but in a different way: “My head gripped in bony vise of knees” (Hayden 13,14) instead of the boy’s head gripped in a bony vise. This demonstrates the restimulation of abusive memories. The severity of the whipping is shown through diction as the word “blows” (Hayden 15,16) is not used once, but twice. The fear of being trapped with no possible escape is doubly intensified. As the poem makes a switch from the event of the beating and the memories of the speaker it is good that the face of the abuser is something that is in the distant past. A face that is no longer “loved” (Hayden 18). The speaker say’s “it’s over” (Hayden 19) twice. Over for the boy and now over for him as well. The boy sobbing in the room is the actual event but also a symbol of the youthful abuse of the speaker.
In the final stanza comes another important and heartbreaking element to life in this animal kingdom: the woman “leans muttering against a tree, exhausted, purged-” (Hayden 22) and she thinks about the memories of her past. Through a lifetime of abuse the cycle continues to corner the “lifelong hidings” (Hayden 23) of vicious attacks. Finally the last word of this poem echoes the animal theme. With “She has had to bear,” (Hayden 24) the poem ends with the echo of one of the fiercest animals, reminding us unfortunately of the violent nature in all of us.
The animal imagery used in this powerful poem paints a picture of the harshness of violence upon an innocent child. “The Whipping” leaves scars on the abuser, the neighbor, and importantly, the child. The “Stick breaking” (Hayden 10) heartache felt throughout the poem is a real testament to the effects of abuse. Robert Hayden demonstrates that It’s the history of untrained, uneducated animals forming to the society and culture in which we live. The effects of the wild struggle to break free from the cycle, exhausting child abuse circles around us every day. The abused often end up as abusers as the “old woman across the way” (Hayden 1) has. The memories of the prey style attacks on children leave permanent damage and it will never truly be “over” (Hayden 19).

Amber

Katselas


Ambers acting teacher once said "To be an artist is the most important contribution a human can make." Milton had a heart attack on Tuesday and passed away yesterday. Amber and her fellow classmates are saddened. This teacher dared his students to be what they were born to be. I was born to be Ambers fluffy soft best friend. She was born to be an artist. He taught outside of the box with many Scientology beliefs in his teaching- and didn't accept the faceless mob of middle class thinkers to distract him from his own purpose, and teaching us ours. I often talk about Amber's creativity on here-and her love for film, art, theatre, dancing, singing, and life expression put into the arts. Milton Katselas is forever a genius and his work and influence will always be remembered. Risk is something that most people don't actually teach. It is a general rule in our society to be good, act appropriate, don't stand out, and God forbid...get a "day" job. Attitude is a choice, dreams take action, and the invalidation of our journey by others can desroy an artist. It's been proven for centurys. Ambers personal journey was slowed down for many years because of her use with Drugs and alcohol. This is something that made this doggie very sad, because I witnessed many sad days of Amber using. She is sober now, and has not been loaded in a year and a half, and her trudge down the road of sobriety is something she doesn't take for granted. Milton didn't shy away from this difficult topic. He had his personal past affliction with speed, right into his veins. He shares about it in his acting book, and he talks about how he thought he could rule the world--but couldn't tie his own shoelaces. He recogmized that the vial was responsible for his life, and that the false lift of drugs was something stopping his higher purpose. He knew firsthand what Amber had struggled with, and he never chastised her, but taught the real value of what is outside of the drugs. Milton loved and cherished actors and wished them the highest achievement possible. His life is one to learn from. Amber has an eternal affinity for the Greek teacher. His lessons will live on.




Katselas, who founded the Beverly Hills Playhouse acting school, counted George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Pfeiffer and hundreds of others among his students.

By Valerie J. Nelson, October 29, 2008

Milton Katselas, a prominent acting teacher and director whose students included George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Pfeiffer and hundreds of other actors, has died. He was 75.

Katselas, who founded the Beverly Hills Playhouse acting school in 1978, died of heart failure Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Allen Barton, executive director of the playhouse.

For decades, Emmy-winning actress Doris Roberts studied with Katselas and was a regular at his weekly master class.

"I am the actress I am because of him. I am the human being I am because of him," Roberts told The Times. "He was an original, extraordinary.

"I learned something new every Saturday, even when I was working on 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' " she said. "He had such insights into people. He was so capable of finding the kernel in you that was stopping you from succeeding."

In an interview last year on "Inside the Actors Studio," Pfeiffer said he taught actors to "second-guess your first superficial choice" in how a role should be played, which "prepares actors so you are a little director-proof . . . because you learn to be your own director."

Included in the long list of actors he taught were Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, Kate Hudson, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth, Tyne Daly, Jenna Elfman, Robert Urich, Patrick Swayze, Tom Selleck and Tony Danza.

He was only 24 when he started to teach acting in New York after observing a class that failed to impress him and a friend convinced him he could do better.

"When I teach, my job is to bring out whatever is possible," Katselas said in 1998 in Buzz magazine. "It's not my job to push the ejector seat on somebody's dreams."

A 2007 New York Times profile of Katselas questioned whether Katselas' longtime study of Scientology had affected his instruction but also theorized that the tenets of the religion -- especially regarding communication -- may have enhanced his teaching.

Some students had reportedly left the playhouse because they felt pressured to join the church, according to the article.

When asked in the Buzz interview about his Scientology connection, Katselas replied: "I've learned many things in my life, and I apply them. But am I teaching Scientology? No, that's not what happens. I'm interested in art."

Joan Van Ark, an actress who appeared on the TV series "Knots Landing," enrolled in his master class about a year ago after repeatedly hearing about Katselas' skill as a teacher.

"He had a wonderful genius for perception and for seeing what was missing in a scene. He taught you how to take it to the next level," Van Ark said Tuesday. "He's just irreplaceable. As actors, we've lost our shepherd."

Milton George Katselas was born Feb. 22, 1933, in Pittsburgh to Greek immigrant parents. His family ran a small restaurant near a local electric plant, whose workers kept its 14 stools filled.

Eventually, his father "bought a movie house with a pool hall under it," Katselas told The Times in 1985. "That's where I started to do my studies in human psychology -- I did some hustling there."

In Pittsburgh, Katselas studied theater at what is now Carnegie Mellon University.

After graduating in the 1950s, he went to New York, "scared stiff" about breaking into theater, he later said, and studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

When Katselas spotted Elia Kazan walking down the street, he chased down the director and spoke to him in Greek.

Eventually, Katselas apprenticed with Kazan and worked for other noted theater directors.

Katselas began his directing career in the 1960s with the American premiere of the Broadway play "The Zoo Story" by Edward Albee. On Broadway, Katselas also directed "The Rose Tattoo" in 1966 and "Camino Real" in 1970.

In 1970, Katselas was nominated for a Tony Award for directing the Broadway debut of "Butterflies Are Free" and came to Hollywood to direct the 1972 film version -- and stayed.

He returned East in 1983 to direct "Private Lives" with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton but left the show before it reached New York.

He later said he didn't get along with Taylor.

Locally, he directed theatrical productions of "The Seagull," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Streamers" and several films, including "40 Carats" (1973) with Liv Ullman, and "When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder" (1979).

He was a painter and sculptor whose work had been exhibited. Katselas also had collaborated with an architect on the design of two houses in Silver Lake.

As a teacher, he was known to impart practical advice, which was reflected in his 1996 best-selling self-help book, "Dreams Into Action: Getting What You Want."

This month, the text he used for decades to teach was released as the book "Acting Class: Take a Seat."

The Saturday before his death, he taught his last acting class.

The twice-divorced Katselas is survived by two brothers, Tasso and Chris, and a sister, Sophia.

Donations may be made to the nonprofit theater company he helped create, Camelot Artists Productions, 254 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Nelson is a Times staff writer.

valerie.nelson@latimes.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Ride it like you stole it" film set

Roscoe's last month

With hair, size matters



Amber is a huge fan of the 80's. She loves everything about it-the spandex, the big hair, the bangle belts-- did I mention the spandex?

She has written a screenplay about the 80's called MOCKSTAR and the script is getting some positive attention. It was a quarter finalist in a AAA screenwriting contest, and there are producers interested in putting the words on the screen.

Amber loves the memories of the 80's and because she lived in a small town that was about a generation behind--the 80's music was big for her high school years (90'S)

Amber loves her Bridget Jones character in the script and hopes to dive into production of MOCKSTAR this year. She even bought me purple doggie legwarmers, and if she tries to put them on me again, I'm going to bite off the hand that feeds (and dresses) me.

wuff wuff
Charlie girl

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I started off my day running in circles in the mud with our neighbor doggie Choas. Amber pouted when she saw my muddy feet and said it was “too early for this.” Of course as a dog it is never too early to have fun, and it is never too late.

Amber went shopping again yesterday and her wardrobe has more than she could possibly need, but it is one of her true fun things to do. Her focus is on her shoe collection right now, and there are way too many to chew on. I can’t count how many shoes she has in her closet, but she is running out of space. Before her shopping she had a massage at the salon, and felt a lot more relaxed for her nocturnal endevours.

Amber went out last night and saw a speaker talk about life experiences, strength and hope. It was really insightful. Her friends Weronika and Erin and Brian went with her. After the talk, they went out and had the best yoghurt in town: Minchee’s. They piled on flavor after flavor of the treat and Amber’s favorite was pumpkin and peanut butter. It was really nice to be with her friends and she loves the moments that happen when they are least expected. Her friends are a wonderful contribution to her life and she doesn’t take any friendship for granted. The conversations and things she learns from her friends provoke her thoughts and stimulate her within. There are friendships that are broken from Ambers past, and those matter to her just as much to her. You can erase a number but never a memory. Building integrity and character strength takes practice and work, and Amber always does the best she can to educate herself on what makes her tick—and how to make it better daily. A Psalmist once said “ Search your own heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.” Ambers heart has the best intentions and she knows that because if she herself could choose a friend she would choose herself. She is also a good mommy to this dog- and there are often times when my behavior is completely unacceptable to the outside person.

Amber misses her girl Allie, and is counting down the days until Christmas when they will snuggle under the tree.



Tonight Amber is going to her film premiere for DEAD FRIDAY. It’s a horror film directed by Dennis Devine that Amber acted in. Amber is both nervous and scared to see herself on the big screen. It is not hard for her to tear herself apart, but she is NOT going to put herself down after any compliments anyone gives her. She is breaking the habit of pointing out what she did “wrong” rather than celebrating what was “right.” She is also going to enjoy the process. Acting is the fun part, and this is the result. So it really should be a celebration.

She loves her friend Katia, and Lisa and they are going with her to support her with their girl power. Katia just finished acting with Amber in Hookers for Jesus, and details about that shoot are coming soon.

Igor Kovacevich is also going to give his support. Everyone loves a good film premiere, right? So why does this doggie have to stay home? Amber said there will be too much fake blood for my eyes to see and that I would be way too scared and doggie nightmares can be the worst.

Wuff Wuff
Charlie girl

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ambers friends

Charlie's best friend



There is calm in Amber's life, there is serenity in her mind, there is spirit.

Amber and Judy

Amber and Josh

pumpkins

A poorly trained dog may embarrass its owner and offend everybody, but those of us that act out, and are loved by our owners anyway, get better and better with each passing day. We all make mistakes, and a bad stain on the carpet is never reason to get rid of someone you love. God loves all of us, and our flaws are put on us by ourselves. We can decide to keep peeing in the same spot over and over again…or we can try something new, and actually take a walk in the grass, enjoy the view, and feel the new breeze between our ears. We may actually enjoy it. Having the things we want and need in life takes work though, and even doggie food is up 99 cents a can. That’s almost 7.00 in doggie money, but we are still taken care of. God provides in this world, and sometimes he speaks through friends, messages, signs, or music. He is all around, but only if you are looking for him.

Last night one of Amber’s friends came over and they talked, and hung out. At first it was uncomfortable because they haven’t spent as much time together as they used too. Amber almost wanted to start laughing at the uncomfortable silences between them. And then her friend shared a secret with her about her private life. All of a sudden the two of them were laughing, and talking and sharing with each other. She kept Amber up late-way past her bedtime, and when she left Amber felt a big relief within about any differences they may have had. The friendship was still there, and true friends can see through the challenges and differences. True friends are there for a lifetime. Only when EGO can be set free however, can a friendship or relationship ever last. We all embarrass ourselves sometimes, and laughing at our defaults instead of judging them is so much more fun.

Amber’s office smells of Pumpkin candles, and fresh picked green apples line the desks. The weather is hot but her office mates are as frisk as fall. The boss is out of town and everyone is in a playful mood. Now if only they had roller skates. (Yes, Amber already pitched roller-derby to the network, it was denied.)

Amber picked me up this morning and held me close. She told me I am a heartbeat at her feet, and that her love for me will never go away.

Wuff xo
Charlie girl

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bill

I'm a small doggie with a big bite and I don't like what Annmarie's x boyfriend is doing. Following Annmarie around like a stalker, disrespecting everyone by not leaving her alone. Her restraining order is in tact, but this homeless x of her's is making life very difficult for those involved. I wish I could just bite him and make him go away. Letting go is tough for some, and it's scary when they refuse to see the truth.

Doggie rules

1. The dog is not allowed in the house!
2. Okay, the dog is allowed in the house, but only in certain rooms.
3. The dog is allowed in all rooms, but has to stay off the furniture.
4. The dog can get on the OLD furniture only.
5. Fine, the dog is allowed on all the furniture, but is not allowed to
clear iconsleep with the humans on the bed.
6. All right, the dog is allowed on the bed, but ONLY by invitation.
7. The dog can sleep on the bed whenever he wants, but NOT under
clear icon the covers.
8. The dog can sleep under the covers by invitation ONLY.
9. The dog can sleep under the covers every night.
10. Humans must ask permission to sleep under the covers with me.

doggie bowling



Amber is working hard today at her job at the Discovery Channel. Her new show (Secret title) is due out in January-and it's alot of fun creating shows and getting paid for it. The show is about the bizarre country activities that we do for fun. When Amber goes to a business meeting she talks about breeding rats and mice that can preen like poodles in a pet show, or building a spam block, or polar bear plunges, jumping frog jubilee's, pumpkin chunking, ski-joring, or even snacking on rocky mountain oysters at the testicle festival. ...and on and on and on.

It's Amber's job to think up ideas, and pitch them with a straight face, book the event, find the characters, build a story around it, and send in the big time insurace guy from New York to get it approved for her crew and host to fly out to God knows where. Ahhh television. This morning Amber whispered in my ear about "doggie bowling" --- using me as a ball, chasing a flashing light. It was no laughing matter, I think she is running out of ideas....and still getting paid for it. ;)


Monday, October 20, 2008

Popular crowd


The "popular" crowd from Amber's High School. They will always be fuc*ing cool to her.

Letter to Kathy from Wisdom


Sometimes it’s easy to forget who I am. I know I’m a small shih-Tzu doggie, but there are days when I feel like I’m a mean and tough rotweiller, and there are other day’s when I feel like I’m a pure-bred yippie Chihuahua, yelping for a bone. It’s easy to feel that other dogs are better than me, and that I must act just like them in order to fit in.
The truth is that I am a spirit of God, and that I am perfect just the way I am. Perfection doesn’t necessarily mean “to be perfect” but rather “to act as if” we are, and to “remember who we are.” That means being of service to others, choosing a loving life, and contributing to the circle somehow….in a positive and uplifting way. Everyone has their part, and everyone is significant and perfect if they just focus on who they truly are within. We still may not be perfect, but when we CHOOSE THE RIGHT we are progressing towards our destiny. It’s hard for Amber to do sometimes…especially when she gets a text that ruins the moment, or a negative phone call, or a last minute deadline at work…or any communication from S.R.

Last night the film “Butterfly” was wrapped. Amber was a producer (among many) on the project. It’s only been one nights sleep and already Amber is wondering what project she is going to work on next. Her mind is like a lightening storm, with electric idea’s swirling constantly. There are so many different projects in various states of development. It would be nice if she could just sit still for a moment and enjoy the process a bit more. Living in such a city where everything is fast, and tough, and lovely, and the next big chance is right at your fingertips…but so far away, it makes Ambers head spin—keeping up, and getting ahead, and tripping forward. It’s her destiny though and she loves it all, she thinks.
Amber was asked questions about love yesterday that really made her stop and think. She was asked who she loved the most, who she would have married, and who mattered. It reminded her of a poem that Greg shared with her once. It’s about love, and how even though things weren’t meant to be, they are exactly as they should be.

LETTER TO KATHY FROM WISDOM

My dearest Kathy: When I heard your tears and those of your
mother over the phone from Moore, from the farm
I've never seen and see again and again under the most
uncaring of skies, I thought of this town I'm writing from,
where we came lovers years ago to fish. How odd
we seemed to them there, a lovely young girl and a fat
middle 40's man they mistook for father and daughter
before the sucker lights in their eyes flashed on. That was
when we kissed their petty scorn to dust. Now, I eat alone
in the cafe we ate in then, thinking of your demons, the sad
days you've seen, the hospitals, doctors, the agonizing
breakdowns that left you ashamed. All my other letter
poems I've sent to poets. But you, you were a poet then,
curving lines I love against my groin. Oh, my tenderest
raccoon, odd animal from nowhere scratching for a home,
please believe I want to plant whatever poem will grow
inside you like a decent life. And when the wheat you've known
forever sours in the wrong wind and you smell it
dying in those acres where you played, please know
old towns we loved in matter, lovers matter, playmates, toys,
and we take from our lives those days when everything moved,
tree, cloud, water, sun, blue between two clouds, and moon,
days that danced, vibrating days, chance poem. I want one
who's wondrous and kind to you. I want him sensitive
to wheat and how wheat bends in cloud shade without wind.
Kathy, this is the worst time of day, nearing five, gloom
ubiquitous as harm, work shifts changing. And our lives
are on the line. Until we die our lives are on the mend.
I'll drive home when I finish this, over the pass that's closed
to all but a few, that to us was always open, good days
years ago when our bodies were in motion and the road rolled out
below us like our days. Call me again when the tears build
big inside you, because you were my lover and you matter,
because I send this letter with my hope, my warm love. Dick.

(Ut: Richard Hugo, Making certain it goes on: the collected poems, W.W. Norton, New York 1986.)


There are many men who have mattered to Amber in her lifetime. But the few that she would have “married” are significantly special to her. Damon, Greg, James, Kevin. All for different reasons that never completely flourished, but these are the top of her list, and Allie would agree. It never happened with any of them, but love did…and for that she will be forever grateful.