2009 In Review

Oh dearest 2009, how I neglected to give you a proper adieu. But because I always need to have the last word, your shenanigans shall not go untouted nor unscathed. This here is my farewell parting shot: The past year brought a load of work, a load of appreciation for the work I was getting, and one giant, lazy attitude toward writing about it.  Of particular note, midway through 2009 I was able to make a return to performing for a living.  “What?  What do you mean?    Actresses in the Twin Cities aren’t filthy stinking rich and famous?!”  Surprisingly, no, not so much.  See, periodically a girl like me is obliged to suck it up and take a part-time “day job” to keep some steady cash rolling in while filling in the rest with voice-overs and stage work.  What is this world coming to?

What happened was this: in June I was cast as Nurse and First-Class Stewardess Evelyn Marsden in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota, as well as joined the museum’s Science Live Theater cast. When at the museum, but not in 1912 costume, I bust out my mad knowledge of nanoscience to thwart an Evil Scientist From The Future, as well as demonstrate the important properties of surface area by blowing giant fireballs and discussing chemical reactivity.  It has been a joy to perform regularly for the (what by now must be) thousands of audience members taking an interest in science.  Additionally, I am responsible for coordinating and moderating public forums for adults about nanoscale science on behalf of NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network).  Moreover, it’s less than part-time, and voice-overs and stage work really ARE filling in the rest.  Even in this wretchedly hobbled economy.  My stars are indeed lucky.  And I thank them regularly.

So here, for posterity, are my performance highlights of 2009:

January Marketplace Events spots - Ty Pennington (that dude from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) and me on TV and radio urging you to attend particular home shows here and there in the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Read more about my sister's hilarious request.

February Nothing of note - sometimes that’s a good thing.  Looks like I was in rehearsal.  Not always a good thing.


  • Performances of Adam Szymcowicz’s The Captivity Plays at the Bryant Lake Bowl
  • After 18 months of pain in the form of oral torture, treatment was completed and my braces were removed.  I was rewarded with awesomely perfect teeth and new-found confidence.  Join me in reliving my happy dance.
  • Supervalu spots - radio spots for grocery stores around the U.S. - Albertson’s, Lucky, Supervalu, Shaw’s/Star Market, Cub Foods, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Hornbacher’s, etc.

April Nexxus spots - I don’t believe these were ever aired - just voice-overs for a concept by the ad agency for the client.  If it was approved by the client, the agency would then film the spots.  Since I almost never watch commercial TV, I have no idea if these ever made it though the pipeline...my guess is no.



  • Caroline or Change, The Homosexuals’ Guide to the Universe, Tiny Kushner - now these didn’t involve me at all, save for my presence in the audience.  But I found the first two to be incredibly moving, incredibly powerful pieces of work.  And I was thrilled that Minneapolis was able to honor such a fantastic playwright in this way, and that such a fantastic playwright got to workshop a brand-new play in our fine city.
  • Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition opens at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  This is my new “day job” wherein I get to spend part of my weekdays engaging with the general public and informing them about Miss Evelyn Marsden’s life and the hospitals aboard the ship in a darling English accent. Personal ship preparation stories here.
  • United Health Care spots - my first political spots, something about calling your congresspeople somewhere in New England. Connecticut maybe? Urging you to take a particular stand on some kind of health care legislation.  Don’t remember the particulars, but got to work with the guys at Shout.  And I absolutely adore Mark Benninghofen, so it was a joy.

July Joined the Science Museum of Minnesota to work on NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) projects - both performing live stage plays and demonstrations that deal directly with nanoscale science, as well as coordinating and facilitating adult public forums about nanoscale science.  This is only 10 hours per week, and I love it.  And it makes me feel a little closer to my scientific heroes of audio over at RadioLab.  And to paraphrase the words of my delightfully brilliant colleague Michael Ritchie: I realize that my day job can never be bad, because I work in a place with musical stairs.


  • Fringe Festival fail - this was hard.  This was very, very hard.  The Ministry of Cultural Warfare, the company I have both figuratively and literally sweat and bled for since 2000, planned to do a show.  Due to a Perfect Storm of really crappy circumstances, I had to remove myself from the process, and we ultimately had to back out of the festival at a late date.  It was heartbreaking, and the fallout was equally heartbreaking.
  • Marketplace Events radio and TV spots - the plus side of August was that Ty Pennington had some more home shows to promote, so it was back into the studio to add my special female aural sparkle.
  • The Minnesota State Fair - I spent an afternoon as host of the Labor Pavilion at “The Great Minnesota Get-Together.”  They gave me a wireless mic, put me in a Green building and the adjacent pavilion, and let me loose amongst the various Labor kiosks and the throngs of fair-goers.  There was trivia, there were hand-crafted on-the-spot copper roses, there were nurses and flight attendants and machinists and steel workers and everything in between.  At the end of my shift, they snapped a photo which made its way into the national AFTRA magazine.

September I spent nearly half the month on the road, traveling to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco - this was for my work with the Science Museum of Minnesota on behalf of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), and it was incredibly inspiring.  It did indeed involve some performing, but it also involved meeting with social scientists to consider the social, political, and ethical implications of nanoscale science, and how to get audiences considering these aspects, as well.  We also met for the purpose of setting goals for years 6-10 of NISE Net’s grant funded by the National Science Foundation, and it involved learning how other organizations engage audiences in learning about nanoscale science.  Inspiring, and the locations were fantastic.  I love the Pacific Northwest.

October Lead role of Hannah in Table Salt Productions' inaugural show, Burned at the Gremlin Theatre.  Nothing like spending an hour before each performance putting glue on my face, letting it dry and manipulating it and coloring it to make it look like nasty scar tissue.  While it was a serio-comic post-apocalyptic tale, it was a joy to make a foray back into dramatic work.  Read a little more about it.


  • Workshop and public reading of Dog and Wolf - an incredibly well-crafted, powerful,  and riveting play about a Bosnian refugee by Catherine Filloux, in which I played the lead, Jasmina.  This play is being produced Off-Broadway this February.
  • My first public nanoscience forum about privacy, civil liberties, and nanotechnology.  It was a small group of about 15 people, but helped me get my feet wet.  Now that I’ve done something in the accepted mold, I can hack it and make it more interesting, accessible, and engaging.  Watchout Twin Cities - you’re about to get schooled in nano.


  • more Marketplace Events spots - this time for home shows around the U.S. in 2010.
  • Caribou Coffee spots - The tone and delivery in these spots makes me feel like we’re sitting on a front porch swing, lazing the day away.  And they’re all about handcrafted oatmeal.  And I got to spend some good time with my friends over at Babble-On Recording studios.  I love those engineers.
  • General Mills spots for Tuesday Taco Night - you know you’ve made it when your VOs keep getting interrupted by a mariachi band.  Plus more time at Babble-On!  Whee!

Plenty to share for January already - but it’s a new year, so it gets a new post.  Here’s looking forward to a peaceful, prosperous 2010.  And I'll actually work on getting all of these 2009 (and future) voice-over spots posted for your listening pleasure.  It's not as hard as I make it sound, and yet here we are.  Soon, I promise.

The System

I got up at 6:30 am last Sunday. For anyone who knows me, this is medal-worthy in and of itself. I got in the car and I drove it at 7:50 am.  Miraculously without incident, I was on location by 8:15. I was acting for the camera by 8:45 am; reciting lines that had been mostly memorized, improvising on command, even.  The issue with all of these things is two little letters - a and m, put together.  Yeesh.  Perhaps a modest 2,000 lb commemorative statue erected downtown is a more proper reward-to-accomplishment ratio. All this early morning insanity was for my role as Nerve 123080 in The System, Cristina Cordova and Juan Antonio del Rosario’s latest adventure – a feature-length independent film “in which a red blood cell and a neurotransmitter set out to save the world.”  It is, of course, about many other things – the effect of cocaine on the body, class warfare, socialism v. capitalism...I could go on, but I won’t, because you just need to see it and I can assure you it will be good.  Juan Antonio and Cristina, as you’ll recall, were my directors for Chasing Windmills, the web series in which they also played Q and D, respectively.  I adore them, and I adore working with them – so an 11-hour good-time was had by all.  Yep, 11 hours for me that day.  11 hours that led to the introduction of some seriously first class actors and some actors who are seriously first class people.

One of the highlights of my afternoon involved fellow actor Sean Erik Hoffman (in the role of Sacco) making up a hilarious 1980s-style sitcom-opening-credits-song about Trotsky (played by Gary Keast who had just finished rocking the hell out of his Big Speech) – Sean did a little dance and sang, “if you’ve got a pizza, he’ll share it with your friends! – TROTSKY!”  Picture a stoic Trotsky walking along a sidewalk, suddenly jumping into the air, clicking his heels together, arms spread wide – freeze frame.   We found it hilarious.  Perhaps you had to be there.  We were punchy.  Sacco also nicknamed me Nervil, which was just shy of completely adorable.

To wrap up the day, sweet Cristina gently touched a finger to my forehead and said, “don’t forget you have this on” – she was referring to the barcode that had been stamped and re-stamped there throughout the day.  Only the Nerves (there were three of us) were stamped…I guess I felt special, so I kept it on until I got home, when I tackled it with makeup remover.  And yet it remained.  Then I tried Aloe.  Didn’t work.  Soap.  No dice.  Baby oil.  Denied.  I posted about it on Facebook and got a speedy reply that led to toothpaste.  It stung a little.  And it worked.

Anyway, keep an eye out for this puppy’s release. It was a hell of a lot of fun to film (Juan Antonio and I tend to get a little giggly when we’re supposed to be working together), and I imagine it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. In the interim, you can follow the film’s progress via the blog and Twitter.

The Sixth, and Final, Day of Unemployment

Update on the PouchWell, just when I think I know who I am, I find out I’m someone different. I got word last week that I will not, in fact, be playing the role of Lacey Rubbertree in CTC's Tale of a West Texas Marsupial Girl. Turns out there was some confusion on their end during the initial offer and contracting, and instead I will be playing the roles of Ina Shaw, Woman #2, and chorus/ensemble. I went back and immediately re-read the crazy-old draft of the script I have (used for callbacks) to better understand the implications, and while I mourn the loss of a really cool character name, I am thrilled with the change - it appears to be a bit of a promotion, actually. That is, if the crazy-old draft and the crazy-new draft are still somewhat similar. Only tomorrow will tell – yes, tomorrow as in my first day of rehearsal tomorrow – that tomorrow. (and on the seventh day, she shall be reemployed - huzzah!)

Update on the Petra I hereby offer a new and improved and Easier-Reference List of Chasing Windmills episodes that I’m in thus far. With the links and everything - I'm such a giver.

overture – 9/18/06 (just a brief appearance) relapse – 10/23/06 altar – 10/24/06 shopping – 11/10/06 telephonies – 11/14/06 (just a brief appearance via flashback) safe sex – 11/28/06 fuel – 12/6/06 cell – 12/7/06 damage control – 12/11/06

Now, go make some popcorn and receive.

Of Windmills and Monsters

In the countdown to my first day as a full-time actor (Wednesday, December 6), I have been consumed by my working life. Blood, sweat, tears, and a slew of curses have been shed, and my social life has been anything but. Yet, I shall soon reemerge, Jean Grey-style, unto my fellow X-Men. Indeed, I am a Phoenix, and we actors are all just mutants when you get right down to it.

Until that day, which then I’ll have no excuse but to write daily, I'll be offering aggregations of what’s been smoldering as of late:

1) Chasing Windmills won two Judges' Choice awards at this year’s Vloggies on November 5th: Best Fiction Blog and Best Entertainment Vlog.

2) A Chasing Windmills episode is scheduled to air on The Tyra Banks Show in early December (I am not in the chosen episode, but it doesn’t matter – our team is getting national TV coverage, and that’s pretty sweet). The producers will inform us of the air date a few days prior, and I’ll be sure to give everyone plenty of notice to set their TiVos to record. It’s gonna be fierce.

3) The Easy Reference list of Chasing Windmills episodes that I’m in thus far –

overture – 9/18/06 (just a brief appearance) relapse – 10/23/06 altar – 10/24/06 shopping – 11/10/06 telephonies – 11/14/06 (just a brief appearance via flashback) PLUS - two/three more episodes to come this very week! Joy! Rapture!

I'm not providing direct links to these episodes because I think you should spend some time poking around the site. It'll be a good time, I promise.

4) The Monster of Phantom Lake has continued to woo audiences at film festivals across the nation, and has garnered some great press to go with it – including a glowing review written by the kind and generous Duane Martin for Rogue Cinema magazine. I've recently come to know Duane via e-mail, and he's tops.

5) The Monster of Phantom Lake has been officially picked up for DVD distribution! Here’s the news lifted directly from TMoPL site: “Shadow Creek Studios, a subsidiary of Braun Media Services, has signed an exclusive deal with the producers to distribute the film in retail and online outlets in the United States. A new 'special edition,' complete with additional special features, will be released first quarter 2007. As part of the deal, the current version of the DVD will no longer be available for sale on (the TMoPL) website and can now be considered a collector's item!”

Okay – enough news for now. There’s actually more to tell, but I have to pace myself. If I share everything at once, I might implode.

Split Personalities

So I’ve been a bit lax in posting here lately, mainly because I’ve been expending a bit of creative energy posting over at Metro Petra, my new “character blog” for Chasing Windmills. It’s all fiction, more or less inspired by reality (after all, what proper fiction isn’t somehow inspired by reality?); I’ll leave you to guess which posts were more inspired than others...

Anyway, within a week or so I’ll be officially introduced into the Chasing Windmills cast and I wanted my character, Petra, to have a back-story ready… a character archive, if you will. What I dig the most about this project is that everyone involved has a blog associated with their character, that way viewers can comment and possibly change the course of events for the characters. It’s an interactive alternate reality of sorts.

Is this what Dungeons and Dragons is like?

Chasing Windmills

I hereby offer you your new daily internet addiction, Chasing Windmills. I’ll be joining this new season’s expanded shenanigans about mid-October…you’ll know when my character gets introduced because I’ll get added to the bulletin-board. In the interim, you can catch a 2.5-second teaser appearance in the six-minute Overture and soak up the joy that is the new cast in the new episodes – and since I’m at a bit of a loss as how to describe it at this point, I’ll give you Max Sparber’s take, slightly edited to make sense in this context, but mostly posted in its entirety because I’m lazy:

…a daily vlog detailing the fictional experiences of a real Puerto Rican couple living in Minneapolis. The show was created by Juan Antonio del Rosario and Cristina Cordova, who, at the end of the last season, fictionally ended their romance after a grueling fictional miscarriage. Most of the last season followed the couple bickering, goofing around, and pontificating in their downtown apartment…This season begins with a long "overture" that introduces the filmmakers' intentions and new characters for the season... The remainder of the cast is mostly drawn from the local blogging scene, including local actress and theater producer Leigha Horton, Girl Friday's Alexis McKinnis, Amber of An Amber-Colored Life, and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine associate editor Steve Marsh. So far I have very little idea about what this season is going to look like -- I have only seen the scripts that I have already shot, as they are written week-to-week. But this suits me, as I will be discovering the storylines and my character's developments as the season progresses, and I like that sense that there is something to be discovered.

What Max said. And one more thing to note – the video on their fancy homepage always seems to look all pixilated – you might want to just bookmark the archives and view the videos from there instead (it’s updated daily). Enjoy!