Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Olympic Morning

My fingers are still smarting from attaching my big Canadian flag to the very prickly holly tree at the side of my driveway. There are now little gashes all over my knuckles!
It was worth it though. How many people get to watch the Olympic torch bearers from their own yard... and not only from the front at 10:30 (Royal Avenue), but also from the the side at noon (2nd Street)? I put up the flag on the 2nd Street side so it could be viewed by the Olympic procession as it came down the street. The prickly bush was the best vantage point.

I was quite not ready for the 10:30 passing, but as I was eating my Fibre 1 cereal this morning, I could hear a loud racket from the 'Coke' trucks coming from Royal Ave. I threw down my cereal and grabbed my (conveniently) red wool coat and my new camera. I did get some shots of the bearded torch bearer as he came up Royal and passed 2nd Street. I was unable to figure out in time how to zoom back in time to get a closer shot (new camera jitters).

At about 10:50, I went to Queens Park to watch the Lighting Ceremony. Whoa! there must have been thousands of people there! I got some shots of the crowd, and some shots of Krista Gibbard, a family friend and neighbour, who was selected to to sing the national anthem (she was great!). I decided to head back to my house as I wanted to be ready to take pictures of the new torch bearer when she passed our home. On the way, I was lucky enough to pose with a couple torch bearers. Laura Cuthbert ( a wonderful gal with the best civic spirit you could ever imagine) was one of the torch bearers and kindly took a picture of me holding her torch.

Finally at home, around noon, the loud 'Coke' trucks drove by with their exuberant dancing models, from which shouts of appreciation for my holly tree flag, were expressed. Well, I'm glad somebody noticed! When the torch bearers came down my block, I managed to get some decent shots. One actually in front of my house with the prickly flag! I followed the procession to Royal and 2nd St. and got some more there as well. I was finally getting the feel of my camera. All in all, it was pretty exhilarating morning. The only drawback was I was by myself and had no one to share it with!

I should've put polysporin on my cuts; there little red dots all over them now. Oh, well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Am Human Wallpaper

Last Tuesday, I braved skytraining into pre-Olympic downtown Vancouver to visit a talent agency. Yes, a genuine talent agency. I had a sort-of appointment and everything! Of course, I know your immediate thought is, “Man, has God not granted Theresa more than her fair share of talents, enough already!” But seriously, folks it isn’t like that. I didn’t actually need any real talent to get signed onto this agency.

I signed on to be human wallpaper -also known as a background performer, or an extra for the movie and TV industry.

How I got this low-talent acting bug was by chaperoning my daughter, last month, to the eerie set at the old Riverview Hospital for a locally-shot-but-pretending-to be-an-American-city TV show. My kid was hired to play a wan, thin, pathetic orphan at an orphanage. She was perfect for the role as she is a wan and thin kid. She is, however, not pathetic; she was expertly acting that part.

We were there for the better part of the day (9:00-3:00) and there was a lot waiting around, but there was some great eats to be had. From what I had read, extras are considered the bottom of the food chain in the industry, and therefore, should not always expect to be able to eat with any of the higher-ups from the catering truck. But at this particular set, we were granted this special privilege. Woo-hoo, spaghetti! Even the chaperones were fed. I blew my low-carb diet that day.

My daughter and I came out pretty pleased from the experience. She got to miss a day of school and got paid for it and I got to sit around all day working on some illustration sketches for a client. The pay, though, is nothing to get excited about; it’s about $10 an hour for extras, but for a kid, it’s awesome –and better than babysitting. My kid needs the money. Being a pint-sized fashionista can get expensive.

A couple days later, the agent, Bruce, emailed all the agency members asking, no begging, for extras for a Japanese commercial being shot the following week. Hoping I was Asian enough (French Canadian & Chinese) to pass, I e-sent him my picture. At first it looked good, as the Japanese director was getting desperate enough to take any ol’ Asian, but then it fell through by the weekend. Oh well. Then I brilliantly thought, "Heck, why don’t I just sign up too? After all, I am a freelance illustrator/writer/stay@home-mom, and therefore have a very flexible schedule, and make next to no money anyway, so why not?"

So, last Tuesday was payroll day for the Riverview shoot and I had earlier sent an email to Agent Bruce asking that since they already had my picture in their files, could I sign up when I came by the office to pick my kid’s cheque? Agent Bruce said sure, come sign up! Boy, what a hard sell. And the agency: despite my stereotypical-Hollywood-based preconceptions of what a talent agency would look like (smoky, poorly lit, a worn out couch in the corner) it was a rather pleasant, sunny little office. And instead of my stereotypical-Hollywood-based preconceptions of what a talent agent would be like (swarmy, cigar-smoking, loud-talking) Agent Bruce was an ordinary 30-something dad-of-two-kids kind of guy.

Agent Bruce took a couple photos of me, gave me my kid’s cheque (then I gave him a cheque for the agency’s 15% cut) and I was done like dinner. As I walked back to the train station in the pre-Olympic bustle of the city, I gleefully thought to myself, I have an agent! OK, so Agent Bruce is not a book agent from the publishing industry (a Holy Grail dream of mine) but I can lay claim to an agent now–even if it is for human wallpaper work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ode to a Kilt -Happy Belated Birthday Robbie Burns!

Ode to a Kilt

By Theresa Henry-Smith
(good for a toast to the lads)

As a lass, let me tell you
What sets girls afire,
Is a type of wool cloth
That is worn by the squire.

There’s not any question
That a lad is street-smart in
A fine pleated kilt
With his proud family tartan.

We lasses delight
At the gustiest breeze,
As we might catch a glance
Of a masculine knee!

The mystery and wonder
Of what lies underneath,
Gives the kilt its appeal,
And even comic relief!

So kick up your brogans
And let’s toast a wee dram,
As while shorts make the boy,
T’is the kilt makes a man!