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Tag: Writer

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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Writing About Life – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The thing about life is, if everything went smoothly, just as we plan, all the time – no awkward experiences, no “get me outa here!” moments – it would be much harder to appreciate the pleasant moments. Life can be like people we may date: Awkward, odd, horrifying… but then, along comes a good one. After all the bad dates, you appreciate him/her all the more.

With dating in mind, I share some awkward dating moments in my up-coming book, “Craving Normal.” Here’s the beginning of one blind date I write about.

Right when we meet and get into his car, the guy starts making gaga eyes at me, trying to hold my hand, not taking the hint from my don’t-touch-me body language – arms folded over my chest, body pressed into the passenger door, and nervous laughter. At a stop light, he stares at me for an uncomfortably long time and says, “You remind me SO much of my dead sister.”

Nooooooooooo!

Oh, and it only got worse. The entire night he stared at me with a creepy reverence, as if I were an angel whom he’d never let go. Hence my physically wrestling him all night until I finally fled.

Still talking to myself on this blog, but if you happen to read this share one of your “date from hell” stories. I’m not the only one, right? We’ve all endured crappy dates. I know. Tell me about it.

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Wild Child

You can take the child out of the wild, but not the wild out of the child… apparently. This may explain many of my stories. When your brain is formed a certain way – on freedom, travel, adventure – makes it hard to be happy sitting in a cubicle, or locked up in school, following bells, rules and clocks. It’s a huge reason I’m self-employed. And why I’m still wild today.

Photo: Nude beach, Mykonos, Greece. I’m second from left; Little sister, far left, with beach friends.

I write about living in a rock hut on this nude beach in my book, “Craving Normal.” The story’s called, “That’s Not An Eel!”

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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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Come to Our Commune

My first blog post!

Here I am in La Jolla, dancing and singing to The Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius,” just before these men (on the lawn) talked my dad into taking our family to stay at their religious commune in San Diego. Not that my dad was religious, just that he had a deep reverence for penny-pinching. Getting stuff free was the closest he got to a spiritual moment.

Wearing my super groovy vinyl dress, I danced and belted out, “This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius…” clueless about where we were headed.

More about this commune experience in my up-coming book, “Craving Normal,” in the story titled “Jesus Freak for Cheerios.” To keep posted on my new non fiction book, join my email list here: http://michelemilesgardiner.com/

 Observation: Looks like the woman in red scarf is scoffing at our hippiness, and/or at the dude on the left who may be toking a joint.

 

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