Saturday, November 16, 2013

Men At Weddings

I love weddings.  Don't you? 

And I love to see young men at weddings -- the groom, his best man, the ushers, and all the young guys who comprise the family and friends of the young couple.  At the ceremony, they are all so tidy and well-groomed and splendidly dressed.  And respectful.  They politely escort the ladies to their seats, stand up straight, fold their hands, wear earnest expressions while the minister dispenses wise marital advice, cry a few tears during the vows.  Such gentlemen all these young men are.  It is so nice to watch.  Gives me hope for the future. 

But, then comes the reception.  And the alcohol.  Don't even get me started on the after-party.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I love parties.  I love beer and wine and old fashioneds and Manhattans.  I am no tea-totaller.  I serve alcohol to my kids and their friends.  (No worries.  Everyone is 21 and over.)  I am no enemy of revelry and a bit of tequila-induced cheer.

But, I also grew up amongst more than my fair share of alcoholics.  My parents were moderate drinkers, but a few of their friends and relatives were not.  And it was pretty awful to grow up with.  I often didn't really understand why I had to be around these people.  I loved a lot of them, but it truly was not pleasant when they drank excessively on a regular basis.  And -- I admit -- this experience left its mark on my soul.  I hate it when people get drunk.

And that is frequently what I see at wedding receptions.  A lot of drunk young men.  The respectful, well-groomed young men from the ceremony kind of morph into something that's rather the opposite during the reception.  Some of them even seem to think that intoxication is the main goal of the whole occasion.  That's the impression they give, anyway, when you hear them talk and watch how they behave.

I'm probably sounding here a lot like that abolition lady with the hatchet.  That's not my intention.  But, you know, a wedding -- though joyful and happy and festive -- is also an occasion that should be at least somewhat dignified.  ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Not just at the church. 

I think this is especially true for people who consider a wedding and a marriage to be of a religious nature, or Sacramental.  There is a lot of talk these days about marriage rights -- who should have them and who should not.  And there are a lot of religious people who tout the "one man-one woman" idea, and heavily criticize those of other viewpoints.  A lot of religious folk say that same-sex marriage endangers the institution, that it endangers family life.  Many religious individuals -- especially Catholics -- also frown upon contraception.  Many of them believe that you should be open to a baby from the minute you get married.  They say that they believe in strong and life-long marriages that nurture the many children they hope to have, or hope other couples will have.  I have heard young religious guys cheer each other on when they find out that their pals have baby #2 or #3 on the way.  You would think they were attending a sporting event.  (And it's kind of cute, actually.) But, if you are a religious guy and you diss gay marriage and/or brag that your second baby in two years is on the way and/or discuss your admiration of Judge Scalia -- all at your friends' wedding reception -- at least be sober.  Otherwise, you look really hypocritical.  And kind of ridiculous.  If I were an LGBT person, I would not be impressed.  I'd think, "And these dudes believe they are 'protecting' marriage and ensuring the 'safety' of family life? Ha!"

Of course, I know many people who have gotten drunk -- or whose pals have gotten drunk -- at their weddings and have gone on to have very successful marriages.  And I have attended many weddings where very few guys drank to excess.  And some people get married without judging the marriages of others.  And I probably sound like a douche in this post.  But, when I see people who pride themselves on their devotion to their faith, on the purity of their faith, on their knowledge of their faith getting shit-faced at their chums' weddings, it kind of rubs me the wrong way. 

Now, where did I put my hatchet?

Oh, here it is.  Next to my Jim Beam.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Audition, The Interview, The Performance -- A How-To Post

Because I really know about these subjects.


Not exactly.

But, that has never stopped me from writing about stuff before.

Please know that I mean this all in good fun.  I am no expert.  I have been a SAHM for 25 years, after all.  I'm the furthest thing in the world from a career coach.

So, here goes.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, between 5th and 6th grades, I auditioned for the part of Dorothy in the summer school production of "The Wizard Of Oz".  I got it, too.  And, incidentally, so did the other two little girls who were auditioning for it.  The drama teacher was such a sweet man that he couldn't bring himself to choose just one of us.  So, he chose all three of us and divvied up the scenes.  Who, you may ask, got to sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"?  ALL of us.  For that particular scene -- the highlight of the play -- there were three Dorothy's onstage singing their hearts out.  But, ya know, I still had to audition.  So, there's that.

The second thing that "qualifies" me to discuss this topic with you is that I used to sing a lot with my sisters.  We performed at church and in high school shows and at family holiday parties.  I don't suppose we really had to audition much for these affairs.  I don't really remember.  We may have had to audition for the high school shows.  And -- lest you may misunderstand -- there was A LOT of pressure involved in these performances.  You see, I am the oldest of the three "Argenti Sisters" -- Marla, Diana, and Gina.  You may think the fact that I am the oldest resulted in my being in charge, but you would be wrong.  My youngest sister -- Gina -- was in charge, because she was the best musician.  She still is.  And she was quite the task-master.  One time, she actually kicked Diana for hitting a few wrong notes.  That's right, Gina KICKED Diana.  There we were, singing along, Gina strumming on her guitar, when Diana hit a few wrong notes.  Gina's foot suddenly swung out and nailed Diana in the shin.  Needless to say, there was a bit of a girl fight that resulted.  But, in the end, the show went on.  And Diana didn't hit any wrong notes.  So, if you don't think I know about the pressure of performance?  Believe me, baby, I KNOW.

Then there was the time that I talked my best friend into trying out for the pom-pom girl squad in high school.  And no, we did not "hang" with that crowd.  Not at all.  The pom-pom girls and the football players sat at the tables in the middle of the quad at lunch.  My best friend and I sat on the steps which surrounded the quad.  I was basically a nerd in high school.  Totally.  I wore no make-up, styled my hair back so it wouldn't get in my way during chemistry lab, had no clue about fashion, studied all the time, and got A's.  This is not to brag.  I was just too scared to talk to a football player.  What would I say to him?  I had no idea.  The mere thought of speaking to a football player made my heart race.  So, I studied.  It was default mode.  And because I studied out of fear of talking to a football player, I got straight A's.   If I could have figured out how to talk to the football players, I probably would have gotten C's.

So, why in the hell did I talk my best friend into trying out for the pom-pom girl squad?  I really don't know.  Sometimes, I just get these crazy ideas.  They just pop into my head.  And it just so happened that, one day, I heard the announcement that there would be try-outs and it just seemed -- in the moment -- like the thing to do.  My friend thought I was nuts.  And she was probably right.  But, for some reason known only to her, she went along with me.  We dutifully went to all the after-school practices.  We practiced and practiced and practiced.  There were bruises all over the backs of my thighs from attempting to force myself into the splits.  It was exhausting.  And I have to tell you -- I came to truly respect and admire and hero-worship pom-pom girls.  If there are any pom-pom girls reading this, I bow down to you.  You are amazing.

How did the real pom-pom girls react to my friend and I trying out for the squad?  They were actually quite lovely about it.  A little mystified, perhaps.  But, lovely.

Anyway, the big day came to actually try out in front of the judges.  Who were the judges?  There was the school dance teacher, who was also the head coach of the pom-pom girls, and a few other teachers.  My friend and I went into the room.  We were ready.  I felt calm in mind and body.  We began.  All was going well until -- until -- we made a mistake.  There were two pom-poms in a little pile on the floor.  I was supposed to pick one up and pass it to my friend -- all the while shaking my booty in some fashion -- and then pick up the other one for myself.  Well, I accidentally picked up both of them and handed them to my friend.  Then we sort of panicked.  Then we sort of blew it.  Completely and totally.  Needless to say, we didn't become pom-pom girls that day.  My friend was pretty embarrassed.  I, too, was embarrassed.  But, I have a policy.   Do you know what it is?  "Never let them see you sweat."  Hold your head high, baby.  Especially after a major mortification.  Smile, breathe, and hold your head high.  And try to walk away without tripping over a curb or crashing into a trash can.  Dignity.  Always dignity.  Oh -- one other thing to remember after a mortification such as this one -- be genuinely happy for and sincerely congratulate the victors, and spend more time doing those things than feeling sorry for yourself.

So, I guess that's the first part of my advice.  When you screw up in an audition or an interview or a performance -- which we all do -- have some perspective on yourself.  Have a little humility.  Learn from the experience and move on.  And behave graciously -- toward those who have given you the opportunity, toward those who are judging you, toward those who have beaten you out.  Why?  Because -- first and most importantly -- it is the right thing to do.  It is what a person of good character does.  Secondly -- and I don't mean this to sound self-serving, though it probably is -- behaving graciously will get you remembered, in a good way.  Behaving graciously might lead to another opportunity.  It may seem like a cliche, but how you behave in defeat truly does say more about you than how you behave in victory.  It might show some important person that -- hey -- you just may be somebody to take a chance on, somebody worth working with.  So, don't be a douche in defeat.  And don't go to the bar after your bad experience and whine to your pals about how it wasn't fair or somebody wasn't nice, because it will get around -- especially if the type of work you do is done in the midst of a relatively tight-knit community.  Maybe your trusted friends will keep your confidence, but people in bars have big ears, and somebody just might hear you complaining.  Okay.  I admit it.  We all need to whine, sometimes.  So,  if you need to whine, go home, pour a Dr. Pepper, and let your dog have an earful.  There is an exception to this drinking and whining at the bar, though.  If you are already wildly successful in your field, you may drink and whine at the bar to your heart's content.  Everyone will just think you're eccentrically cool. 

So, that's basically it for my audition/performance portfolio.  As I got older, the arts side of my life kind of faded away and the "more serious" work side began.  Thus, I had job interviews.  Frankly, I have really only held three jobs in my life.  The first was as the cashier in the hospital gift shop.  I began that when I was 16 years old and worked at it through college.  I didn't have to interview for it, though, as I was hired on from the ranks of the candy-stripers.  I had been a candy-striper for a couple of years, but then left.  I told everybody I was leaving because I wanted to get a paying job.  This was a lie.  The real reason I left was because I volunteered as a candy striper in the ER, and this dude who worked there as an orderly turned out to be a perv and he kept coming onto me.  I didn't know how to handle it, so I quit.  When everybody wondered why, I made up the thing about wanting a paying job.  I was too humiliated and embarrassed to tell anybody about the perv.  (And I completely understand all you ladies who have been sexually assaulted and don't want to come forward.  There is just something about it that makes you want to hide.)  Anyway, as the lie that I wanted a paying job began to get around, the pink lady who was in charge of the hospital gift shop offered me a position there on the weekends.  Usually, volunteers staffed the gift shop.  On the weekend afternoons and evenings, though, they had a paid person, because there weren't enough volunteers who wanted to work those hours.  I didn't really want the job, but my mom made me take it, because the pay was actually quite good.  As it turned out, it was a great job and got me all the way through San Francisco State University.  And the perv never bothered me again.  I guess that was because there weren't any supply closets in the gift shop.  Well, there was one supply closet, but the door was always open and you could see right in.

My next job was as a loan clerk at a credit union.  I interviewed for this position just a matter of days after a horrible break-up with my fiance.  The opportunity came up kind of suddenly.  I didn't own a dress at the time (see above remark about my fashion sense), so I borrowed one from my sister, Gina.  I typed a little resume on a piece of paper about an hour before the interview was to take place.  I went into the interview without any idea of what a credit union was or what a loan clerk was.  I was not nervous, at all.  I didn't even really think about whether or not I wanted the job.  But, I had been raised to always do your best, in any and all situations, so I sat politely with my knees together and answered the questions without saying "uh" or "like" -- too much, anyhow.  I think the wonderful lady who managed the the loan department must have been kind of desperate, because she hired me on the spot.  It was a lovely job.  My co-workers were kind and funny and smart.  I met many interesting people.   I learned a lot about finance and money management.  And I learned that sometimes, an opportunity really is all about luck and timing.   Or serendipity.  Or Divine Providence.

My last job was as a high school science teacher.  I taught biology and general science.  It was a job I really wanted, and the district I wanted to teach in was fairly competitive.  They hired -- mostly -- Stanford graduates, and I was coming out of SF State.  I did know some people, though, because I had gone to high school in that district.  I admit that I sought out those people and gave them my resume directly, so I landed an interview.  This would probably all be illegal now.  But, connections still do help in most fields, as I understand.  And I did get the job.

And I sucked at it.  Absolutely sucked.  If you want to know all about how I sucked at that job, you can look back and find my blog post entitled "I Was Ben Sherman."  I think I wrote it this past spring.

All in all, though, I learned a lot of lessons.  I learned, first of all, to be honest with myself about my abilities when seeking a job.  I learned that -- for me, anyway -- it was best to project an open, interested attitude in an interview, without projecting desperation.  And without feeling desperation.  When it comes to getting a job, you do want to want it.  You want to be confident.  You want to have a certain spirit of competitiveness, but you want to be a good sport about it and realize that there are others who sincerely want the same job and who might beat you out.  And you need to be fair towards those individuals; you want to wish them well.  After all, if you are in the same field, you may end up working with some of them, at some point.  They may end up offering you opportunities.  Or one of them might marry your sister.  So, when approaching an audition or an interview situation, I would suggest being calm, being quietly confident, and having a little bit of a sense of humor about yourself.  Bring energy to the situation, but not too much adrenaline.  And if things go awry, smile and be gracious.  Thank the "powers-that-be" for the opportunity they have given you.  And then go give your dog an earful.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That Scarlet "A" Thing Has Never Really Gone Away

Have you read "The Scarlet Letter"?  I'm assuming you've at least heard of it, so I'm not going to recount the whole story here.  The main character's name is Hester Prynne, and she gets caught committing adultery with some dude.  As a punishment, she is forced to wear a scarlet "A" on her  breast.  She is scorned and derided and ostracized by her community.  Meanwhile, the dude basically gets off scott-free, as I recall.

I read this book in one of my high school English classes.  The teacher was a 60's-era feminist, so she really hammered home the idea of how the book was an illustration of sexual inequality.  I didn't really think of myself as a feminist at the time, although I probably was, more or less.  When I was in high school, you basically didn't count as a feminist if you were a church-going Catholic, who wanted to eventually get married and stay home with her kids.  The things is, I also believed women should go to college and have a profession before getting married and having kids.  I thought women should be paid equally for equal work, and not be barred from professions based on gender.  And I really felt for Hester Prynne and the way she was screwed by the culture of her time.  I was quite thankful that I didn't live in such a chauvanistic, discriminatory, unjust society.  Not that I thought adultery was at all a good idea.  Not that I was planning on ever committing adultery.  But, I hated to think of women being treated in such a way.  I hated the double standard.  I hated the lack of mercy.  "I'm so glad I live in such an enlightened era," I thought to myself.

Boy was I wrong.

We still have our version of the scarlet "A".  We still have the double standard.  We are still a people who accuse, who judge, who scorn, who publicly deride and shame women, especially for what we consider to be sexual missteps.

I am -- as you may have guessed -- thinking of Miley Cyrus.  Do I think she should have done that whole twerking thing?  No.  But, she's certainly paid for it.  We've certainly branded her with today's version of the scarlet "A".  What is today's version.  It's the scornful Tweets, the mean internet comments, the blog posts of self-righteous mothers, the constant replaying of the whole incident via television and You Tube, the joking (yet not kind) remarks of popular radio hosts.

And do we hear anything about the man in the striped suit?  Do we hear any criticism of the individuals who participated in planning Ms. Cyrus's act and who gave it final approval before it was aired?  Miley was not alone in this.  She had plenty of company.  And her company was most likely media people who were older and more experienced than she.  Are any of them paying a price?  Maybe they are.  But, they are not being continuously and publicly ridiculed.

Miley is also quite young.  She's not even 21 years old yet.  There are some who feel that age is not an excuse.  There are those who feel that they would never do such a thing, even if they were 20 years old.  And, perhaps, they wouldn't.  It has been my experience, though, that one should "never say 'never'."  I think about being 20 years old.  I think about the stupid things I did.  I think about the stupid things I might have done, if given the opportunity, especially if those I trusted to advise me were cheering me on.  I think that I was very fortunate -- and I think many of you were also probably very fortunate -- not to have been celebrities whose every move was being watched by people ready to pounce and publicize.  Age is, perhaps, not an excuse.  But, it is a reason.  Young people often have poor judgment.  They do dumb things.  We should allow them to learn and recover from these missteps.

Ben McKenzie recently did an interview with Riki Lindhome.  She is an actress who has a large body of work, but I most recently saw her in Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing."  She and Ben have known each other for many years, so the interview she did with him was especially insightful and heartfelt, on the part of both of them.  They just sat in her living room and drank wine and talked about their experiences "coming up through the ranks."  Ben discussed being a young celebrity, who achieved pretty much overnight fame playing one of the main characters on "The O.C." when he was about 24 or 25 years old.  He spoke a little bit about how being a famous Hollywood person at a young age can affect you.  He remarked on how -- as a young celebrity -- he had to take time to reflect and decide if he was living the kind of life he believed in and being the kind of person that he truly wanted to be.  Of course, that kind of reflection is something we all have to engage in from time to time, throughout our whole lives.  But, I think young people are more prone to exercise poor judgment -- especially in an atmosphere such as Hollywood -- than older people.  Older people have experiences and more fully-developed brains, which enable them to better see the consequences of their actions than young adults.  And part of the reason that we older people tend to have better judgment than our younger counterparts is because of our past SCREW-UPS.  You learn from your screw-ups.  Hopefully, at least.  And if you are fortunate enough not to have your very worst screw-ups recorded and played ad-infinitum on the internet, then count your blessings.

My youngest child is just about the same age as Miley.  He would probably not be prone to twerking.  But, if he should falter and misstep, I think about how I would want him to be treated -- with a little compassion.  Yes, I'd sit him down and give him a good talking to.  I would attempt, in my role as his mother, to take steps to ensure that he would use better judgment in the future.  But, I wouldn't want him to be repeatedly and publicly shamed.  I mean -- for Heaven's sake -- there's all this talk about bullying these days.  There is a major crusade against bullying.  And that's a good thing.  When I think about it, though, the way Miley is being treated could be considered bullying.  And we've all heard of some of the extremely tragic results of young people being bullied, haven't we?

And to all the moms who say chiding, mom-like things to Miley -- via various means of social networking and such -- trying to make her ashamed of herself, trying to teach her a lesson, I would like to remind you that you are not Miley's mother.  And part of the reason that motherly correction works is that it is filled with a mother's love for her child.  Motherly correction -- however well-intended -- does not work in the absence of mother-love.

So, let's think a little about Hester Prynne and her scarlet "A".  Is that the kind of people we really want to be?  Because maybe -- shamefully -- we still are.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Creating A World With Cinematography

My oldest daughter has a good friend named Julia Swain; and I am privileged to call Miss Julia my friend, too.  She and my daughter met while in college, studying all things media.  Julia has worked in media for a long time -- on projects ranging from shorts to television to feature films.  She is now enrolled in UCLA's MFA program, with an emphasis in cinematography.  And do you know how hard it is to get into that program?  It's only the best of the best, baby.

Now, Julia is not only amazing with the camera, but she is a cancer survivor and an all-around kick-ass young woman.  A really good woman.  A woman of excellent character and a work ethic second-to-none.  She is also a lot of fun.

I have had the wondrous good fortune of having Julia shoot projects in my home.  Such an amazing time it is when Julia shows up at your door with bags full of camera equipment and her infectious enthusiasm and beautiful smile.  She doesn't even complain when I fed her hot dogs for dinner.  Craft services -- Marla style.  I also had the honor of being an associate producer on one of her films.  And I hope to collaborate with Julia on many other future projects. 

Julia has even been on the "SouthLAnd" set.  I pretty much had to be peeled off the ceiling when I found that out.  (And if you have read my blog at all, this does not surprise you in the least.)  I don't know if she met any of the show's cast or crew, but I bet if Julia sort of accidentally wandered into the trailer of Mr. Ben McKenzie himself, she would not get in trouble.  Not at all.  In fact, she would most certainly walk out of that trailer with a deal to work as DP on his next indie film.  Such is the impressive nature of Julia.  And she would make him look awesome in that indie film.  Tall even.

Julia has caused me to think a great deal about the role of the cinematographer in a TV or movie project.  I never really thought about this before.  In the past, when I thought about cinematography, I thought of the camera operator aiming the camera at the actors and turning it on when the director yells, "Action!" (I wonder if directors actually yell, "Action!" or if that's just a stereotype intended to mislead us naive fans.  And after we are misled, the directors probably sit around laughing about how we civilians think they yell, "Action!"  Perhaps, instead of yelling out this important directive, they just pronounce the word with great authority.)  Anyway, back to cinematography.  Nothing to it, I thought.  Just know the right button to push and what hole to look through.  Boy, was I ignorant and bone-headed.  My apologies to you, Julia, and to all of your camera-wielding friends, too.  Because what I have discovered, as I have paid more attention to Julia and her work and the work of other cinematographers, is that they know how to use their cameras in such a way as to actually create a world in which the actors bring their characters to life and enact their story.  The creation of this world is, of course, a collaborative effort on the part of the many individuals involved in a project.  But, the cinematographer has a unique and vital role to play.  Her abilities are crucial if the world inhabited by a particular story is to have an authentic, believable feeling.

For instance, a little over a month ago, my daughter Bridget and I were traveling from San Diego to Ojai.  En route, we passed the Redondo Beach Pier, where much of the television series "The O.C." was filmed.  I know a couple of lovely ladies who are huge fans of that show, but who live much too far away from SoCal to ever have an opportunity to visit the locations.  So, Bridget and I decided to stop and take some pictures to send their way.  I had never been to the Redondo Beach Pier before, so after I parked the car, Bridget and I began to wander around, looking for sights that seemed familiar from the show.  And we discovered much more than we had anticipated.  We found the diner -- which we had expected to find.  We saw the building that was used as The Bait Shop.  We discovered the route in which Ryan famously rides Marissa on the back of his bike, accompanied by Seth on his skate board.  We also happened upon, which was a huge surprise, buildings which had served as Sandy Cohen's office and the family planning clinic.  We also felt that we recognized other spots on the pier as being used in the show.  In short, we found the pier to be a resource of many of the show's locations, but locations which were not necessarily supposed to be near each other in the world of "The O.C." 

First off, hat tip to the location scouts in finding this goldmine of a place.  We realized that many scenes in various episodes of the show were filmed at the Redondo Beach Pier, which must have simplified the logistics involved in shooting.  I suppose several scenes could have been filmed at once at different points on the pier, being that it is an absolutely huge place, assuming the scenes involved different characters.  Or, prep for one scene could be done at one part of the pier, while shooting was happening in a different spot.  I am just guessing here, though, as my grasp of television production is essentially null.  But, what I was struck by was the creative vision of those who were entrusted with finding the locations for "The O.C."

What especially struck me, though, as my daughter and I meandered around the pier, was the talent of the cinematographers who worked on this hit show.  I really know nothing about photography, but some things stood out to me.  For example, I thought about Ryan, with Marissa on the back of his bike, Seth zooming along beside them on his skateboard.  As I looked at the pier, I realized the scene had to be shot in such a way that certain things surrounding the pier wouldn't be visible.  The show also had to be shot so that it wouldn't be obvious that the various locations were basically in the same place.  The diner, The Bait Shop, Sandy's office, etc., had to seem like part of the same community, but they had to look like they were at least somewhat geographically unique from one another.  This would involve careful camera set-up and conscientious attention to what was in each shot, so as not to include background scenery or other visual cues that would give away the fact that these places were physically so close together.  Additionally, "The O.C." stands for "Orange County."  And the show was supposed to take place in a very affluent area of Orange County known as Newport.  But, the Redondo Beach Pier is not anywhere near Newport.  In fact, the pier does not exude any sort of air of wealth or privilege.  Yet, the cinematography for the show was accomplished in such a way that the relatively lowly locations on the pier were transformed into an upscale and glamorous fictional world -- a very believable upscale and glamorous fictional world.

So, I salute you, Julia.  And I salute all of your talented colleagues.  Thank-you for applying your talent, your abilities, your time, and your energy in order to perfect your craft -- a craft that enables us viewers to enter into and believe in these amazing worlds you create.  These worlds are valuable places -- they educate, inform, entertain, and edify.  We would be poorer without them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sleepless In Austin (Girl Version)

I hope this is not like plagiarizing.

Anyway, a little while back, some dude calling himself "Sleepless In Austin" wrote a blog post in which he chronicled all of his requirements for a new girlfriend.  My guess is that he is probably still single.  The ways of love, though, are hard to figure out -- so, you never know.  I mean, sometimes a guy who you think for sure would have gotten married by now is still totally girlfriendless, while another guy -- who you think that no self-respecting female would touch with the proverbial 10-foot pole -- is honeymooning in Hawaii with his model wife.  But, I digress.

The point is that this insomniac Austinite made me laugh so hard with his post that I thought I'd spoof it.  I know you're probably not supposed to tell people that you're spoofing something, but being that I'm married and all, I just wanted to make everything perfectly clear.  This is a joke.  It is humor.  It is just for fun.  Fun for me, anyhow.

***So, I give you ---> Sleepless In Austin (Girl Version), A.K.A. Sleepless In Southern California:

I like to be with a man.  This much is true.  I don't like to be alone.  I'm not very good at it.  I like all the things about being with a man.  I like eating and going for drives, although not in immediate sequence, because then I get car sick.  I also don't like eating sushi with a guy.  Well, maybe I do like eating sushi with a guy, but I just don't know it.  The thing is that I have a biology degree, so when I think about sushi, I just think about parasites.  So, forget sushi.  Sushi is a deal-breaker.  The only way that sushi would not be a deal-breaker is if you are Ben Sherman and you bring your gun on our date and give me plenty of saki and do all the driving, because I don't want to be arrested for drunk driving on our date.  Getting arrested on our date would be a deal-breaker.  Unless you bailed me out of jail.  Or broke me out.  Breaking me out of jail would definitely make up for the getting arrested part.  Although, then I would have a hang-over and having a hang-over would probably cause me to throw up in your car, so I should probably just stick with sushi being a deal-breaker.  Besides, Ben Sherman is fictional, so there's that.

I do like being with a man, though.  Besides eating and going for drives, I like hiking.  But, not if it's too hot and not if the surroundings are too dry-looking, because that is just depressing.  I like going to the beach, but only if the man does not complain about the sun and getting burned.  A man who fusses about getting skin cancer is a deal-breaker.  I mean, go ahead and put on your sunscreen, but for heaven's sake don't fuss about it like a girl.  BE A FREAKING MAN about the sun.  I also like watching sports with an enthusiastic man, but not if he talks about a particular game for DAYS ON END afterwards.  When the game is over, it's over.  Get over it already.  My favorite sport to watch is swimming.  I realize most men aren't into that, but if you expect me to watch your football, you can watch my swimming.  And when my favorite sport is on, you get to make the snacks.  When your favorite sport is on, I'll make the snacks.  Fair is fair.  But, don't try feeding me any of those wasabi peas.  Wasabi peas are a deal-breaker.  And if you EVER make fun of my favorite beer being Bud Light, that is a deal-breaker.  Besides, Bud Light puts me in a romantic mood because it's just enough alcohol and not too filling.  So, you should be grateful that Bud Light is my favorite beer, because I can be very sexy.

As far as sex goes, I like it.  But, you'd better not be all pushy about it.  Being pushy about sex is a deal-breaker.  Hey, I'm not saying you shouldn't try to get me interested, but being pushy is the biggest turn-off in the world.  I also like hand-holding and kissing.  But, I do not like being slobbered on.  Being slobbered on is a deal-breaker.  I was once slobbered on by one of the hottest guys ever to be seen on the face of this good earth, but all the long wavy blonde hair and muscles and golden skin couldn't make up for the slobber, so that was that.  He called me for weeks, but it was to no avail.  So, guys, do yourselves a favor and learn to kiss without slobbering.  THINK about kissing before you actually try to land one, for pete's sake.  Watch some movies and TV shows that contain good kissing and study the techniques.  Practice on your arm.  Whatever it takes.  Do not show up on a date as a novice kisser.  And if you are a novice kisser, keep your tongue in your mouth while you practice your lip work.  Same goes for actual sex.  Study up before actually trying it out.  And I am NOT talking about porn.  Some women may disagree, but porn moves are not what most of us ladies want.  If you want to know what most of us ladies want, go read some of those bodice-ripper novels that can be found in the back of your grandma's closet.  Your grandma ain't no fool. 

Tattoos and piercings.  Talking about sex makes me think of tattoos and piercings.  Because I think tattoos are rather sexy, but there are some conditions.  For instance, you should not appear to be clothed in them.  That is a deal-breaker.  If you are naked, people should be able to tell that you are naked.  If you are naked and I can't tell because of all your tats, that is a deal-breaker.  Also -- tattoos on your arms are only sexy if you have sexy arm muscles to go with them.  Like Cam Gigandet.  (Google it, boot.)  So, if you're going to have tats and you don't want it to be a deal-breaker, then lift some weights.  At least four times a week.  As for piercings, I don't mind them in the ear.  But, the naval or the nipple or the nose or the lip?  Deal-breaker.  I have to admit, whenever I see someone with a nipple ring, I have this perverted inclination to yank on it.  YUCK!!!  That is SO PERVERTED!!!  But, it's true.  I probably wouldn't actually do it, but you never know what might happen in the heat of passion.  So, if you have a nipple ring, either remove it or stay the hell away from me, if you have any sense of self-preservation.

Hygiene.  Talking about yanking on nipple rings naturally makes me think of infections which naturally makes me think about hygiene.  Hygiene matters.  Even if you can totally rock a silk shirt, it don't matter if you don't shower.  And use deodorant.  And brush your teeth.  And floss.  And SHAVE.  For god's sake, what is it with all this neck stubble I see these days?  Either shave or grow a beard.  A REAL beard.  Like the kind Commander Ryker sported in "The Next Generation."  I mean, these days I'm seeing all these guys -- even hot guys -- walking around with all this stubble on their cheeks and chins and necks.  What gives?  All this does is show true laziness of character or a real misperception of what is attractive or an actual effort to appear less attractive.  I guess if you are a hot celebrity man who is chased about by young females, then maybe there is an appeal to trying to make yourself less attractive by sporting week-old neck hair growth.  But, if you wear Ray-Ban aviators along with the neck hair, you are just sending mixed messages about your desire to appear desirable.  So, in the interest of transparency of intention, which is only common decency, either shave and wear your Ray-Ban aviators -- or -- grow a real beard and wear your Ray-Ban aviators -- or -- sport your neck hair in combination with a pair of cheap Walmart-brand sunglasses.  Also, if you grow a beard, COMB IT.  Not combing your beard causes little beard hairs to fall out onto the kitchen counters.  Do you know what this looks like?  It looks like there are pubic hairs all over the kitchen counters.  And pubic hairs (even the appearance thereof) on my kitchen counters is a DEAL-BREAKER!!!

Lest I am sounding shallow by talking about such things as sex and tats and piercings and facial hair and hygiene, I do want to assure you that I am interested in personality.  There are all types of personalities that I like.  Many kinds of people are interesting to me.  But, it is good if you know how to string words together in a way that makes at least some kind of sense.  In other words, don't be a Tea Party Republican.  You can be a Republican.  That's okay.  But, be a NORMAL Republican (does anybody out there remember what that means???).  You can be a Democrat, too.  Democrats are cool.  I especially like Democrat men in ponytails and jeans.  Communists can be especially sexy, although I would argue a lot with a Communist, since I actually am a Republican.  So, if you are a Communist, that might not be a total deal-breaker, as long as you like to argue and you have at least some sense of humor.  And long, wavy hair.  A Democrat or a Communist might be able to get away with sporting some neck stubble, too -- as long as he also has a good body and intense, thoughtful eyes.  Please don't think that I'm saying here that a Democrat and a Communist are in any way the same thing.  I know that they are not the same thing.  I mean -- for land's sake -- I'm NOT Rush Limbaugh.  It's just that Democrats and Communists have this sort of sexy earthiness about them that Republicans just can't manage to pull off.  And if you are a non-Tea-Party Republican who wants to date me, do NOT try to pull off a pony tail.  Because everybody knows that Republican males cannot pull off pony tails.  But, also try to avoid looking totally stuffy.  An ideal Republican man has an excellent upper body and knows how to rock the following look --> dress shirt, open collar, no tie.  An ideal Republican male also shamelessly drives a totally spotless, big, bad-ass, carbon producing car, recognizing its value as the perfect place to make out with a woman.  But, if you are a Republican, you must also have a good sense of humor about the liberal, hippie, wanna-be cage dancer side of my personality.  If you don't have a good sense of humor about this, and if you cannot tolerate my opinion that there should be a single-payer national healthcare system, then you are not for me.

And -- reflecting on the value of a sense of humor -- you should definitely have one.  Because, hey, life's short.  And because penis jokes are funny.  (But, only if told by somebody with skill in telling penis jokes.  If you don't have the gift, don't tell penis jokes.  Telling penis jokes without skill is a deal-breaker.)  You need to be able to laugh, though -- at life, at yourself, at me, and at the Tea Partiers.  ;-)