My Interview with The Penmen Review on Playwriting

Thoughtful headshot The Penmen Profile: SNHU Chats with Award-winning Playwright Raegan Payne

(Originally published November 7th on The Penmen Review)

by Pamme Boutselis

An award-winning, published playwright, Raegan Payne’s work is regularly in production. She is also an actress and strident volunteer. Her efforts in volunteerism are chronicled in her nationally recognized blog, The Good Muse.

Have you always written? There’s a picture of me trying to type when I was one. I always kept a journal.  When I was in elementary school I would write plays for my brothers and cousins to perform, but I was a horrible producer so the productions weren’t very good.

What’s your process in developing your storyline and characters? I believe a well-rounded character is the cornerstone to good writing.  You can watch a wonderful character do any boring activity for hours and it’s fascinating.  I do detailed character sketches and try to get to know each character inside and out before I get started.  I definitely stress more about a character having an arc than fitting them awkwardly into a certain act structure.

What challenges do you face in your writing, and how do you overcome them? I can’t spell, so thank god for spellcheck.

I’m also a slow typist.

I get self-conscious like anyone.  I force myself to write a page a day.  I also always work on several projects at once, so I don’t get locked with one and stop altogether.

What has the road to publication been like for you? I had one of those Hollywood stories, literally.  I couldn’t afford to produce a full production of my plays so I started entering them in contests. I started “winning” to quote Charlie Sheen.

The Hollywood Fringe festival was approaching, and some people knew I was winning awards, so we all scraped a few hundred dollars together to put the plays up.  The plays attracted some big actors, and they sold out.

One night after the show someone walked up to me and asked, “Are these published?”  I said, “No not yet.” And they responded, “I think my publisher would be interested.”

Cliché ending—And the rest is history.

How do you market your work? My blog, The Good Muse, has helped a lot even though it is a work unto itself and not related to the plays.  I think TGM was important because it’s an open portfolio of work.

As far as plays—I enter playwriting contests.  And I win some. That helps.

I also have tons of people read my work to give me notes—this not only makes the work better, but it spreads the word about my new projects.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back then? You’ll never, ever, ever be perfect.  Don’t even try.  Just put stuff into the world and see if it flops.  You’ll learn more from mistakes than successes.

Who are the writers that have inspired you most, and how have they inspired you? I love Christopher Moore’s funny sci-fi-ish novels and Chris Durang’s plays because of their madcap and yet real characters.  Tina Fey for being a groundbreaking female comedian who proves that women are funny. Jane Austen for her wit and candid observation. Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde for setting the bar so high.

If you keep just three books in your library, which would you choose and why? This is the hardest question. Right this minute I’d say:

  • “Pride and Prejudice” because I would need a good love story and it’s funny.
  • The complete works of Shakespeare because I could spend the rest of the days studying his sonnets and plays and learn something new everyday.
  • “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore, because it’s ridiculous, hilarious and everyone needs a good muse or a book about a muse.

- See more at: http://penmenreview.com/spotlight/the-penmen-profile-snhu-chats-with-award-winning-playwright-raegan-payne/#sthash.ymAH2jSq.dpuf

My Interview with "Creating Story" about Playwriting

Outtakes Ladies Home Journal Photo Shoot Theater, especially black box, is most often an intimate experience, both for the audience and for the actor. Award-winning playwright Raegan Payne talks about her playwriting and what attracts her to this kind of storytelling.

A Poor Man’s Art Form

“I like being forced to tell a story with just dialogue and almost no resources,” says Payne. “It’s a poor man’s art form, anyone can do it, that’s what I love. Inversely, it should also be accessible for the poor to see and often times it isn’t.

“Also, theatre has an immediacy as well as intimacy that can be missing in other art forms. And the audience influences the work – actors hear their response to their performance and that... Read Rest of Interview Here on Bob Gillen's Wonderful Blog "Creating Story"

My Plays in D.C. & LA this Fall - Here is the Schedule

IMG-20111110-00080 Hello Everyone!

I am privileged to say that somewhere in the US my plays are up until at least November 12th this fall!

Here are the shows I know about, and links to buy tickets & plays:

In Los Angeles:

September 21st & 22nd, 27th & 28th - Santa Monica Reps' Wave Fest will be featuring "The Reaper" at 7 pm. Click here for tickets!

October 8th - November 12th at 8pm Whitefire Theatre Company will be running "Things Unsaid" and "Sweet Nothings" during a night of One Acts entitled "Fall Shorts." Information Here!

Meanwhile in Washington D.C.:

For one weekend only at the District of Columbia Arts Center Steel Spine Productions will present "Things Usaid" October 4th & 5th at 7:30 pm. Buy tickets here!

You can buy "The Reaper" here and "Things Unsaid" here or...

If you're in the UK (London) pick up a copy of either at the gorgeous The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square.

I hope to see you guys at the shows!

My Interview with Trailer Talks!

Hey guys! I did an interview with this great little start up called Trailer Talks. Check it out here!

I wave my hands around a bit, but don't worry nobody was hurt while filming.

For the Children of Sandy Hook Elementary

True - When I was 16 there was a shooting in my high school as we were changing classes. I remember it sounded like a book being slammed on the ground. I was walking up the steps and a teacher behind me started yelling, "Go go go..." We were pulled into whatever classroom we were near and locked in until the first responders arrived. We hid under the desks.

Every day after that my fellow classmates and I had to walk through metal detectors. And yet, after that, another friend of mine was shown a loaded handgun in English class. That's the reality of what it is like going to school in America. It's a little difficult to focus. It makes the sound of a door slamming or book being dropped a whole different experience. It sits in your gut. I don't think children, anywhere, should live with that kind of fear.

Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech... The list goes on and on.

This is unacceptable. We have failed to protect the innocent. Many of the Newtown children killed were 6. 6 years old. And many others watched their classmates die.

"We can't tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change... Surely we can do better than this." - President Barack Obama

TheGoodMuses Explains: What I’m Thankful For

I’m thankful for about a billion things when I wake up in one piece in the morning.  Here are just a few things I am happy about this Thanksgiving:

I’m thankful that I can read.

I’m thankful for used bookstores, thrift stores, and free museums.

I’m thankful for dogs, and cats - and that I get to be around them.

I’m thankful for organizations like this, and this, and this and a thousand more.

I’m thankful for teachers, firemen, police, and soldiers.

I’m thankful we’re moving towards equality.

I’m thankful I found out I could write and went for it.

I’m thankful things have been hard enough to reveal what the good stuff really is...

I’m thankful for SNOWBOARDING!!!!!!

I’m thankful for blissful nights when I can fall asleep easily and stay asleep.

I’m thankful I can post whatever I want on this blog and no one can stop me, or jail me.

I’m thankful that learned new things this year, lived in another country, traveled a lot, and met new people.

I’m thankful I have a job.

I’m thankful for songs like this, and this, and especially this.

I’m thankful I have food in my fridge and a somewhat warm place to sleep.

I’m thankful that when my place gets drafty I can take a warm bath.

I’m thankful that I have friends that feel comfortable enough to tell me when I’m wrong.

And as always, I’m thankful to be healthy.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

The Joy of Raw Cuisine with Chef Gum

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing raw/vegan chef Kirsten Gum work her magic at the Gourmandise School of Sweet’s and Savories in Santa Monica, CA.

She made a chocolate pudding using avocado as the base, which I swear on my favorite French recipes, was better than any chocolate pudding I’ve ever had.

And so I began to think that adding more raw and vegan options to my own diet might not be such a bad idea. In fact, it might be enjoyable.  So I quizzed Kirsten a bit about the raw/vegan diet, it’s relationship to the environment, and tips on yummy food choices.

She was kind enough to humor me:

Raegan: The terms "vegan" and "raw" are really scary, even for me and I've been a vegetarian for 16 years. I picture lettuce eating rabbits when I think raw and vegan.  What do you tell people about the diet so that they are willing to try it?

Kirsten: HA, HA!! YES, THE TWO WORDS USUALLY BRING TERROR TO THOSE WHO EAT "S.A.D"raw foods - THE STANDARD AMERICAN DIET, WHICH IS FILLED WITH MEAT AND CHEESE AND LOTS OF PROCESSED FOOD.

I CALL MYSELF A PLANT-BASED CHEF BECAUSE MY GOAL IS NOT TO CONVERT EVERYONE TO RAW, BUT TO RECONNECT PEOPLE TO THEIR FOOD, TO EAT MORE VEGETABLES BY INTRODUCING THEM TO NEW PRODUCE, NEW SKILLS, NEW RECIPES AND VERY WISE AND VALID NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION.

IT'S STARTS WITH GETTING REAL WITH YOURSELF - DO YOU DRINK ENOUGH WATER? DO YOU REALLY ONLY EAT MEAT ONCE A DAY? MOST PEOPLE ARE SO "FUZZY" IN THEIR THINKING - I TRY TO GET THEM TO FOCUS AND CONSCIOUSLY EAT.

MY COMPANY EXPERIENCE RAW IS ABOUT ENRICHING LIVES THROUGH CONSCIOUS CUISINE... NOT ABOUT CONVERTING ANYONE. SUPPORT IS THE BEST WAY OF HELPING, AND GIVING THEM THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES.

R: What's your favorite raw ingredient?

K: THIS QUESTION IS EASY FOR ME - MACA!!!!  I DISCOVERED MACA WHILE LIVING DOWN IN ECUADOR AND PERU A COUPLE YEARS AGO.  IN THE STATES YOU GET MACA IN POWDERED FORM, BUT I HAD IT GROWING ON MY LAND IN ECUADOR.

IT IS A PERUVIAN ROOT, WHICH LOOKS LIKE A TURNIP OR WHITE CARROT. MANY NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES INCLUDING THE MAYANS AND THE INCANS USED THIS ROOT AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY AND ENDURANCE IN TIMES OF WAR BECAUSE IT GIVES YOU STEADY ENERGY.

raw foodsHERE'S THE KICKER... IT GIVES BOTH MEN AND WOMEN A BOOST IN THEIR LIBIDO. NO JOKE, JUST A COUPLE TABLESPOONS OF MACA IN YOUR MORNING SHAKE WILL KICK-START YOU SEX LIFE. YOU'LL NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE IN JUST A WEEKS TIME. IT HAS THE AMAZING ABILITY TO HELP BALANCE OUT HORMONES. ANYONE SUFFERING FROM PMS, CRAMPS, MENOPAUSE ALL CAN BENEFIT.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE AFTERNOON SNACKS IS A MACA-CHACA SHAKE. 1 FROZEN BANANA, 2 CUPS ALMOND MILK, 2 TBS. MACA, 1/2 RAW CACAO POWDER,AND JUST BLEND!

R: I'm going to ask you the most frequently asked question I get as a vegetarian and one I know you get bombarded with. Maybe people will read this and then we don't have to answer it anymore:  How do you get your protein?

K: PROTEIN EXISTS IN EVERYTHING IN NATURE.  PLANT PROTEIN IS EASILY RECOGNIZABLE TO OUR BODIES. UNLIKE ANIMAL PROTEIN, WHICH IS HARD TO DIGEST AND MAKES THE BODY WORK OVERTIME.

ITS MOSTLY FOUND IN DARK LEAFY GREENS LIKE KALE, NUTS AND SEEDS.  IN THE RAW/VEGAN WORLD THERE'S ONLY 3 SECTIONS TO THE FOOD PYRAMID - FRUITS AT THE TOP, VEGGIES IN THE MIDDLE AND NATURAL FATS AT THE BOTTOM, WHICH INCLUDE NUTS, SEEDS, COCONUTS, AVOCADOS. I ALSO EAT LOTS AND LOTS OF QUINOA, A PERUVIAN GRAIN, WHICH HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST PROTEIN LEVELS PER GRAM.

R: Why no to GMO's?

K: PLAIN AND SIMPLE...  CORPORATIONS ARE MESSING WITH OUR FOOD AND WITH MOTHER NATURE. GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS MEAN THEY ARE ALTERING THE DNA OF CERTAIN PLANTS AND ANIMALS.

I AM FIGHTING WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS TO MAKE SURE THE GOVERNMENT MAKESraw food IT MADATORY FOR GROCERS TO LABEL WHAT IS GMO. WE SHOULD HAVE THE CHOICE TO EAT A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, OR SOMETHING IN ITS PURE FORM. THAT'S WHY PROPOSITION 37 [in CA] IS SO IMPORTANT!

R: You said your Kale salad is better than my favorite Kale salad at The Misfit in Santa Monica, CA (which made me start eating Kale in the first place).  Care to share the recipe?  Or tips on making the best Kale salad.

K: HA, HA.. I DON'T REMEMBER SAYING THAT. I MUST GO TRY THE KALE SALAD AT THE MISFIT!

KALE IS A VERY BITTER GREEN AND NEEDS TO BE MASSAGED IN ORDER FOR IT TO RELEASE ITS NATURAL JUICES. MANY PEOPLE FORGET TO MASSAGE THEIR KALE, WHICH LEAVES SOMEONE CHEWING FOR 5-10 MINUTES JUST TO GET IT DOWN.

STRIP THE KALE OFF THE STEM, MASSAGE IT TILL IT TAKES ON A COOKED APPEARANCE, ADD SALT AND LEMON JUICE (THIS HELPS BREAKDOWN CELL WALLS AND MAKES IT SOFTER), ADD A DASH OR TWO OF OLIVE OIL AND YOU HAVE THE PERFECT BASE SALAD. WHAT YOU PUT ON IT AFTER IS UP YOU!

R: Why is a raw diet or at least dedicating part of your diet to raw foods important for the environment?

K: I LOOK AT THE RAW DIET AS THE KINDER/GENTLER WAY OF LIVING.

raw foodsWE MUST GET BACK IN TOUCH WITH OUR PLANTS AND ECO SYSTEM, WHICH THRIVES ON BALANCE. WE ARE SO CLOSELY RELATED TO PLANTS. WE NEED OXYGEN, WHICH THEY GIVE OFF. THEY NEED CARBON DIOXIDE, WHICH WE GIVE OFF.

I COULD GET INTO ALL THE STATISTICS OF THE GASES THESE BIG SLAUTERHOUSES GIVE OFF AND HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO COMMERCIALLY FARM ANIMALS FOR US TO EAT, BUT I CHOOSE TO STAY ON THE SHINY SIDE OF LIFE.

R: What's next for you?

K: LOTS  GOING ON. I FEEL MORE PEOPLE ARE READY TO CHANGE UP THEIR EATING STYLES AND START TAKING THEIR HEALTH INTO THEIR OWN HANDS.

I LOVE TRAVELING AND WANT TO BRING RAW/VEGAN KNOWLEDGE TO THOSE AREAS THAT DON'T HAVE EASY ACCESS TO IT. I'LL GO TO ANY TOWN OR CITY IF THERE ARE ENOUGH PEOPLE WHO WANT TO LEARN.

I'M HEADING TO MICHIGAN TO TEACH SOME RAW FOOD CLASSES AND CATER AN ALL RAW DINNER. I ALSO AM CATERING A RETREAT IN ARIZONA IN A FEW WEEKS FOR HEALTH EDUCATOR DAVID WOLFE AND VISIONARY DAVID WILCOCK.

I'M DEVELOPING SOME PRODUCTS TO PACKAGE SO THAT MORE PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO YUMMY PLANT BASED FOOD. I'M ALSO IN THE PROCESS OF FILMING SOME ONLINE COURSES, SO AGAIN, I CAN REACH PEOPLE IN THE FAR CORNERS OF THE WORLD AND HELP THEM, ONE BITE AT A TIME.

I highly recommend visiting Kirsten’s website for tips on Raw/Vegan tips and that yummy chocolate pudding recipe .

My Radio Interview with Holly!

Here is my first radio talk show interview for Holly’s Advice 4b2c. http://hollysadvice4b2c.com/raegan-payne-the-good-muse/

AND here are some behind the scenes stories to make the listen more interesting:

The entire thing was recorded by SKYPE on my MacBook while sitting on my bed. It was incredibly fun after I got over my nerves. Holly is a very warm, professional, and forgiving host.

Listen for the points in the interview where she accidentally calls me Megan and then Rachel.  I was trying not to laugh.  It was an honest mistake, she knew my name, but it’s a good thing I answer to almost anything.

The first few minutes are composed of me pausing and saying, “ummm…” and “like…” a lot because I was so nervous.  True, I did have a radio show in college for 4 years called “Bitchkittens” but no one wanted to hear me talk. I played music.

She calls me a high paid actress at one point and again I almost spit the tea across the room.   I am high paid in comparison to the average Bangladeshi. If we’re talking third world earning potential then yes.  I love to act, but I’ve been mostly a stage actress. For a minute, I thought maybe another actress was also on the phone.  See if I cover my momentary confusion.

I screw up and say I helped “undeserved” children and then quickly say, “Underserved.”

All in all a good first showing.

http://hollysadvice4b2c.com/raegan-payne-the-good-muse/

The groups mentioned are listed below.

TreePeople

Food Forward

Lange Foundation

Operation Gratitude

Burton’s Chill Program

Best Friends Animal Society

The Red Cross

TheGoodMuse Explains: Beware of Ducks!

What follows is a prime example of why wild animals need their space, why you have to take responsibility for your actions, and why you should beware of ducks.

I love baby animals. I think most people do. (Comedian Dara O’Briain explains this phenomenon so brilliantly here.)

Spring and early summer prove to be the best time for baby anything spotting, so one Easter, many years ago, I grabbed some stale bread in a plastic bag (as is tradition) and headed to the park to feed the ducks. Now this wasn’t just any park this was the fancy park in the nicest area of town. You know, the park that nobody uses because it’s mostly ornamental. The park you have to wear a hat and dress to enter. Everyone has that park in their town. As I was a young whippersnapper and did not want to conform I wore jeans and a white button up oxford to feed the ducks – ohhh radical. Stop. I know.

To continue, I arrive at the park. I’m with my boyfriend at the time, a young man who had grown up in this Sunday park crowd. If they figured out I didn’t belong they would still let me in because of him.

Moms and Dads with Easter baskets, and their 2.5 toe headed kids, dressed in perfect pastels, roamed the park which had sprung from an ornamental creek. The creek was more of a dammed drainage ditch and was notorious for silt and possible alligators (not native to the area in the slightest, more of the fiction sewer dwelling type of alligators).

I found a spot, a bit removed from the crowds, where a mama duck and three baby ducks were swimming. I assumed all the ducklings were hers' and believed I had found the perfect spot to feed nature bread crusts made with artificial preservatives as God intended.

I threw the bread crusts to two of the babies, but the third duckling stayed removed, circling on the periphery. I was not having this inequality. Bread was for all. I pitched some rolled up crusts to the loner baby who immediately dived at them.

What happened next blew my mind and was only much later explained to me by the Internet and my grandfather. The mother duck attacked the third duckling, the one who had purposefully stayed outside the group. She snapped at it viciously over and over at the neck. I didn’t know what I was seeing. Why was this mother duck behaving this way to her own child?

Asking too many questions as usual I hesitated one second too long.

If you had been in the park that day you would have seen spring flowers pushing through perfectly manicured grassed, families on peaceful Easter picnics, and a girl dressed in jeans and an oxford, doing a spontaneous lifeguard dive into the shallow-muddy runoff-algae infested-rumored alligator dumping ground creek to save a duckling.

By the time I made it to the duckling it was too late. Head down in the water, lying lifeless, it’s little neck twisted and broken. I did the rational thing, the only thing I could do – I started crying hysterically, standing in the pond, and began to give the duckling CPR.

Before you assume I put my mouth over the duckling’s beak you should know that in animal CPR you just cup the muzzle with your hand (seriously), forming a tunnel, and blow air into the lungs. But no air was passing into the lungs.

The baby was gone and only through my companions calm pleading did I manage to walk back to the side of the pond, sit on a wall, holding the tiny body, and cry.

The duckling was buried in a nearby yard and I continued to cry for days. I had interfered where I did not belong and caused the painful death of a lovely little creature.

Nature is a vicious and beautiful thing. It’s not to be trifled with, or polluted, or disturbed in any way. It should be respected.

As a species, humans have disrupted much of nature. We’ve messed up the delicate balance so terribly how can we judge where to get involved? How can we make up for the damage we’ve done without causing more harm?

One of the only clear cases of needed human intervention lies in our involvement with domesticated animals like cats and dogs. Many people still argue that they are animals, descended from wild creatures, so their place is in the wild outside. In layman’s terms we should leave dogs and cats outside and not worry so much about strays. I flatly disagree.

We had our way with wild cats, and to a greater extent wolves for thousands of years. Breeding enough speed, agility, and instinct out of them so that we could feel superior, comfortable, and unthreatened. We created an animal for ourselves, to our liking, to be protectors for us. And then we want to turn a shoulder and say it should fend for itself. There are few stances as blatantly hypocritical as this one.

Be careful with nature. Help where you can. Be kind using your best judgment. Beware of ducks. Please don’t feed the wild animals. If you want to feed an animal go adopt a cat.

TheGoodMuse Explains: How 2 B Bad & Look Good

 

Why is everyone so attracted to bad boys and girls? And how can I be bad while maintaining general wholesomeness?

I decided this would be best to answer during the holidays because of the naughty and nice tie in.  And if you type naughty enough your SEO goes off the chart – naughty naughty naughty naughty...

The answer (based on nothing but wit):

It’s not bad behavior that attracts us.  It’s the unattainable, the person or the behavior we would like to be, mimic, have - but cannot.

She drives a motorcycle.  He never calls. She has a bit of a substance issue. He’s a poet. She just doesn’t care.

All of the above represent the emotionally unavailable. I’m picking on poets and adrenaline junkies, but you get the idea.

It’s not the bad as much as the taboo or unapproachable behavior.

It’s difficult to describe the psychology since I have no training in the field, but for a more in depth explanation and an awesome read check out:

Robert Greene’s “The Art of Seduction”

So the answer to “How can one be bad while maintaining a general wholesomeness?” is simple.

Do what you want to do. Know what you like to do. If you’re satisfied with you’re life as is you’re not searching for others to fill it, which makes you appear, you guessed it, unattainable.  All kinds of badness.  Naughtiness. Naughty naughty.

Live dangerously if you want, but make sure your reckless behavior doesn’t hurt others (alcoholics and drug addicts I’m looking at you). Have some hobbies – It doesn’t hurt to like some things that seem risky – deep sea diving, sushi making, poetry slams, etc.

As far as wholesomeness…  I’ve been described as wholesome. I’ve also been described as bad because of the writer/actor thing so here’s my two cents:

I live by the creed “Do no harm,” but I also firmly believe that it’s a moral imperative to help those that you’re bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter than.  This doesn’t give me a lot of people/things to help, but I do what I can.

I like to believe, TheGoodMuse helps counter the artistic stigma at times. It will also excuse my future purchase of a motorcycle and the occasional pair of “non-leather” leather pants.

Be good. Have fun.

Next Time TheGoodMuse Explains how to sell a 12 year old car that is on fire for well over Kelley Blue Book.

TGM Explains: Y Men Luv Thongs & Hate Jane Austen?

Why men* love thongs and hate Jane Austen?

Now I know I promised an answer to this almost universal truth and mind bender weeks ago.  Sorry.  I had to do some research and then I discovered it’s a long answer.  Again, sorry.

While quizzing males I got a variety of answers from “Because thongs are just awesome.” to “’Cause men are already romantic and shit so we don’t need Jane Austen.”

So I averaged the difference, carried the one and found the closest possible denominator – exposure.

In other words… Men love the female body, but like to keep the female mind a mystery.

Thongs (whether you, as a female, look best in them or not) expose the most skin possible while still wearing underwear. Jane Austen, and particularly Jane Austen movies, expose only slight amounts of décolletage.  AKA there is very little flesh in Jane Austen.

In contrast thongs tell you very little about the state of a female's mind or her personality.  I know judges and strippers who wear thongs – seemingly different mindset though both just.

But Jane Austen can tell you a lot about the female mind, and sexual politics (yes, even modern sexual politics). Without having read Jane many men like to believe Austen is simply about the stereotypical pursuit of a husband.  Yes, she uses matchmaking often as a plot point but most of the books are actually about maintaining independence and force of will though you were required by society to pair up.  The books were written during a time when a woman was completely defined by the man she married.  As a female in the Georgian era you faced the brutal choice (if you had a choice at all) of whether to keep your independence and name but face possible poverty, marry someone you didn’t love for security, or find a love match no matter the consequences (rare).  Many of Austen’s characters resist or are reluctant to marry, and in that we discover their dreams and aspirations - what they are and are not willing to give up.

So in conclusion, heterosexual men love exposure of the female body but are uncomfortable with some of the clockwork of the female mind. Which = Thongs > Jane Austen in the male mind. It's cool. I get it. Kinda. The unknown is scary.

Finally, I would like to add that I am completely and utterly biased.  I love Jane Austen.  I didn’t always love her.  In the 8th grade I called Pride and Prejudice the most boring book ever composed.  But then one day I actually read it, read between the lines, and got the jokes. Jane is hilarious. One of the greatest comedy writers of all time. She was funny while making a case for our sex.

As for my opinion of thongs… Well… Some things are best left to the imagination.

*Defined as lots of straight men.  Many of my homosexual male friends have severe love for the Jane and asked to be distinguished from this group.

Next week we’ll address a more topical question for this blog:

What is the lamest thing about volunteering? And how do we fix it.

Philippe Cousteau on Arctic Science & Faustian Pacts

I wonder if Philippe Cousteau ever feels frustrated that some of his words are lost in a sea of sighs and giggles. The first time I heard him speak in Los Angeles, almost a year ago, I didn’t notice. Maybe I was too rapt up in his insights into the BP Oil Spill or maybe sitting in the middle of the audience obscured the sound. On the front row, however, one can definitely appreciate the affect he has on female audience members especially when he drops a phrase like, “We’ve made a Faustian pack with fossil fuels.” Philippe was back in LA, thanks to the Artists and Athletes Alliance , to talk about his recent sojourn to the Arctic with CNN, and report on the...Read Full Article on Celsias

Where Have I Been? France Darling!

I disappeared for a bit. Lo siento. In truth this little muse needed some inspiration herself. So I jumped a flight to Europe. I had tea at Harrods in London. Stopped by Oxford to do some talking and grabbed a Ben's Cookie and Moo Moo's Milkshake in the Covered Market. I barely made it to Paris on the EuroStar during the "storm of the century." I took a class on cakes at Le Cordon Bleu, wrote at the infamous Shakespeare & Co., and slept in a bed there that looked like a train birth. I drove cross country to Aix en Provence, ate nothing but cheese and chocolate for 2 weeks, and dropped 7 lbs. I made wonderful new friends and saw crazy old ones. I spent my last few glorious days in Paris hunting for the finest hot chocolate at Les Deux Magot, Laduree, and Angelina. I am currently looking for mules to smuggle me back hot chocolate from Angelina, tea from Mariage Freres or Macaroons from Laduree. Or maybe I'll just order them online.

In a word, I'm back. Time to get back to work. In no particular order here are some pictures for you amusement...

Outtakes from the Reader's Digest Photoshoot

I was lucky enough to be paired with a Vanity Fair/Rolling Stones photographer "Robert" for the Reader's Digest shoot. Like me, he was a little skeptical about us pulling off the Reader’s Digest photo – he was best known for crucifying Farrah Fawcett on Hollywood Blvd with Saran Wrap and I, never having worn a scarf or a pearl choker, am more known for knee high black boots, jeans, and snarky attitude. Fast forward to this, somewhat, brilliant idea of doing a boring normal shoot and then a more fun pin up type shoot as a salute to my grandfather who served in WWII (and truth be told loved him a good pinup – though that’s creepy that I was going to duplicate that but…never mind). Robert claimed that we had to push it really far to get Reader’s to accept a somewhat normal pin up shot.  I’ve included the “push it really far” pics which were certainly not going to make the Reader’s publication, but it would have made the magazine a hell of a lot more fun if they had. I've included my internal commentary under each photo because I can't shut up.

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Who Should Get $1,500 From Reader’s Digest?

raegan-white-shirtReader’s Digest called last week to inform me that because I was featured in the “Make it Matter” section of the June/July issue I get a $1500 grant for either my non-profit or a non-profit of my choice.I don’t have a non-profit.I just help them.So I’m going to give the money to a non-profit. Problem is I can’t make up my mind.I worked with dozens upon dozens of different groups and I love them all for different reasons.

To fix the problem I sat down with a group of scientists. Okay, not scientists... People in the know... Anyway, we came up with a list of the non-profits who are efficient, badass, and most of all desperately need money. Vote please!Rock the Vote and all that jazz. Vote for you favorite.Who should get the money? Below are the 5 finalists’ mission statements and a link to each group’s webpage.I have my favorites now I want to see yours. You can vote for your top three at once, but only one time! Poll will be live from July 1st at midnight to 11:59 pm on July 15th. Have fun...

The Charities Mission Statements and Websites:

EarthEcho International EarthEcho.org

EarthEcho International's mission is to empower youth to take action that restores and protects our water planet. Education combined with service learning offers a tremendous opportunity to empower young minds, but there is very little ocean education and service learning available today on a national scale. EarthEcho International's programs works to fill these voids in ways that unite the efforts of other prominent organizations. http://www.earthecho.org

Heal the Bay ­– HealtheBay.org

Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean. We use research, education, community action and advocacy to pursue our mission. http://www.healthebay.org

Kidsave Kidsave.org

Kidsave works to create change in policy and practice - so forgotten kids in government care can grow up in families. We help older kids in the US foster care system get adopted, help Russian orphans find families in Russia, and help orphans from Colombia, Russia and Sierra Leone find families and mentors in their own countries. http://www.kidsave.org

KivaKiva.org

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the Internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending. http://www.kiva.org

The Lange FoundationLangeFoundation.com

The Lange Foundation is dedicated to saving impounded companion animals from being destroyed, and preparing them for a journey to a new, safe, loving world. Lange Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), tax-deductible organization. http://www.langefoundation.com

Diatribe Against A Leather Couch

200552612-001Attention Bachelors: Stop Buying Leather Couches! Actually check that. I’m talking to anyone who purchases leather furniture. Put your VHS tape of “Coming to America” away, and let’s talk about why leather couches are the most unpleasant piece of furniture that can be purchased. 1. Is your furniture cold or is it just you? One feature of leather that isn’t discussed often on the sales room floor is it’s uncanny ability to absorb and magnify the temperature of the surrounding room. This temperature issue is particularly grating as any man with an air conditioning unit in his apartment or house will jack it down to 60 degrees (I can almost guarantee this. How they expect to get a woman naked in a polar environment can be saved for another discussion, but perhaps they are thinking to apply the “Can I warm you up?” technique. I digress. )

Since his apartment/house is guaranteed to be 60 degrees you can bet your frozen bottom that his premium Italian leather couch will feel like...Read full article on Celsias