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Tag: California

My Humiliating Moment with Rodney Dangerfield

In my 1.5 second scene with Rodney, I’m the blur on the right.

Excerpt from my book “Craving Normal,” in my story “Confessions of a Hollywood Extra”:

While working as an extra on the movie “Back to School,” with Rodney Dangerfield, I sat about ten feet from Rodney and Sally Kellerman as they prepared to do a scene. The quiet of the set prior to the cameras rolling allowed my voice to carry. My female newlywed friend, another extra, wondered if I wanted to get married. The last thing on my mind! So I said, “I’m not meeting guys nice enough to go out with in LA. Can’t imagine finding one to marry.” My voice carried through the silent crowd.

Rodney’s voice boomed toward me. “Hey, Honey! Come down here! I’ll marry ya! I’ll marry ya, right now!” My face turned hot, and I’m sure as red as a tomato, while Rodney, the crew, and the extras laughed. Well, that was one way to shut me up. And it did.

On bottom right, after hours in the blazing sun, using all my acting skills to become an enthralled, sports-loving, college student.

Bottom left, dancing to Oingo Boingo in the
Dead Man’s Party scene, in “Back to School.”

Jen (the blonde in the video thumbnail) is my newlywed friend I mention
in my Rodney Dangerfield moment of humiliation. I’m dancing in this Oingo Boingo
video, next to Jen. But you have to stop the video to find me. And, of course,
I DID just that. I’m at 2:08.



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Constant Craving

(Photo: Here I am orating behind the podium at Anarchist Forum in Hyde Park, London. And, yes, I’m wearing lederhosen. See, you’d be ranting too if you had to wear suede shorts with suspenders, didn’t have a TV or any junk food. My dad wrote on this slide, “Michele mouthing off.” My mom said I drew a small crowd.)

Look I’ve been working on my book, “Craving Normal,” for so long I have posts on my dusty old blog about it… from – gulp! – ten years ago. As a lover of words, writing and books, every year I attend the LA Times Festival of Books. Here’s one such visit I blogged about on my now defunct (or is it de-funked, as in lost its funk?) blog, “Aprilbaby’s California Life” –

I walked by the NPR booth and heard author Susan Straight being interviewed.  I stopped because I heard her mention her eldest child was at the Coachella music festival.  The interviewer asked, “Oh, so do you think she’ll tune in to hear you on the radio?”

I knew I could relate to Susan when she said, “Uh, no.  She doesn’t listen to me at home.  Why would she want to hear me on the radio?”  Spoken as a true parent to a teenager.

Susan Straight is an author from the Inland Empire.  I only learned that after stumbling upon the book, “Inlandia,” and saw that the forward was written by the very same Susan Straight.  Intrigued, I bought the book and attended a panel discussion with Susan and other writers from “Inlandia,” an anthology of  writers from the Inland Empire.

My only time spent in the Inland part of California is whenever I have to pass through it heading for the San Bernardino Mountains to go skiing or the one time I cruised down part of Route 66.  As the  writers of “Inlandia” tell it, their home has been disparaged as nothing more than where the Hell’s Angels, neo-Nazis and smog dwell.  Until then, I knew so little about the Inland Empire, I didn’t even realize that much about the area. 

During the panel, the writers spoke of a place they grew up where orange groves and date tree forests were so vast they’d get lost in them; where the Santa Ana winds and the sand would blast the paint off of cars; where the air smelled of Eucalyptus and orange blossoms.  It was where they arrived, grew and stayed.

As a resident of the San Fernando Valley, another maligned Southern California area, I could relate.  While I’ve only read a few chapters of “Inlandia,” I’m really enjoying getting lost in the stories of their misunderstood land.

As I bought “Inlandia” from the Heyday Publishing Founder, Malcolm Margolin, he asked me what I do.  I told him I’m writing “Craving Normal,” my stories of growing up in California and traveling the world as the kid of hippies.  Malcolm, the bearded Allen Ginsberg look-a-like, threw back his head and laughed.  “Did your parents feed you lentil loaf when all you really wanted was junk food?” 

I slapped him on the shoulder.  “Yeah, how’d ya guess?”

He told me his kids could relate as children of hippies. 

“Yep, I just wanted a Twinkie,”  I told him.

He nodded in sympathy, as if he’d heard it a million times from his own now-adult kids.

Yet I’ve got a craving to be heard, so I persevere, closer than ever to having my book, “Craving Normal,” published. In all these years a lot has happened – raised my daughter who went off to college; started a successful business, Tree Audio; dealt with life and death – but always I go back to my stories, crafting them, shaping them, editing them. My craving is a constant obsession, as you see.


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Why Is My Book Called “Craving Normal”?

Hey, wanna see some photos I’ll have in my book, “Craving Normal”? Here’s one. Consider this photo (Dad and me) is from the time in my life I refer to as the “normal” period, and you might understand the thesis of my book. This was an ordinary day in my life. But It just got weirder from here. So please feel free to share your own freaky childhood photo or less than typical memory in the comments below. Pleeeeeease. Come on! I can’t be the only one.

Well, now that you’re here, I’ll let you know more about my book, “Craving Normal.” I do have a thesis: Born into a relatively calm period in the mid 1960s, which I considered “normal” – right before the explosion of the counterculture movement – I watched and experienced my world change. Language, music, fashion, lifestyles, ideas and expectations changed faster than we could toss out my slinky and turn on a lava lamp. While this period in history is often spoken about by the young adults of that era, a.k.a “flower children,” I write from MY perspective, that of a child, a REAL child. I like to think that’s one thing which makes my stories unique. What were we kids thinking? What were our experiences? My stories then follow my growing up in the shadow of all these changes. While many are quite goofy, they show how I bopped around the world, a world I was still trying to figure out on my own – just as the generation before me tried to figure it out. But I also try to bring humor to all these experiences, whenever I can.

Like this photo I posted, I mean, how can I not look back and laugh? Seriously, this was just a typical day in my young life, one I thought completely ordinary. Why not? What else did I know? And I sure didn’t know things would get even more colorful… real soon.
If you’d like to keep updated about the progress of my up coming book, please leave your email here.

Thanks for stopping by.

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