Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm Not Sad, I'm Just Drawn That Way

If you really want to make me frown, command me to "smile!" All my life, ever since I was a small child with nothing much on her mind and certainly no weight of the world, I've been told (mostly by strangers, mostly by men) to "Smile!" Even when I am — sort of — smiling. At least, on the inside. I cannot help the fact that my features, in repose, seem pensive. It's the way my mouth is shaped, and how my eyes are.

After years and years of this command — "Smile!" — I find it more and more vexing. For one thing, why do complete strangers walking by feel as though they have the right to tell me what my expression would be? What's so great about smiling, anyway? It's just one of many expressions, maybe not even the best one. Sulks and pouts have been the model's moneymaker for decades. Plus… don't you think, when you see someone walking down the street, all by themselves and smiling, "I wonder what laughing academy that one's escaped from?"

Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against smiling. I do it a lot (yes, even when I am alone). I have much to smile for, for sure. But when I was a young child, I had crooked teeth and when my mom had to pay for those Sears portraits or whatever, she'd say, "Don't show your teeth." Then I wore braces and they were hideous metal grills that reflected the sun brighter than Versailles at midday, so I resisted smiling out of deference to the eyesight of others. After my teeth were straight, I still didn't like my smile, because it wasn't the classic one with upturned corners… even when I am smiling, people can't always tell.

Sometimes I remind myself of that classic episode of "Cheers" when Lilith gets a modeling job and the photographer is snapping her photo and calling out expressions for her, but each one is exactly the same. Or this (not smiling is cool, right?)

What's more, not all smiles are genuine. Wouldn't you rather see a person smiling because they really mean it, and it's not just plastered on as a socially acceptable mask? I've noticed that most of the people commanding me to "Smile!" aren't even smiling themselves.

If you are one of those people who feels compelled to shout "Smile!" at others, think twice. Maybe the non-smiler just doesn't have an upturned mouth. Maybe the non-smiler has crooked teeth. Or, maybe, just maybe, that person is feeling neutral.

There is nothing wrong with not smiling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Type A, B, C, D Personality

So last night I was talking to a friend of mine about dating and I showed her a picture of a guy I see off and on, and she was like, "I didn't know you swung that way!" Then I realized, "Oh, yeah: he's black." I never really think of people in terms of ethnicity, or religion, or social status, etc. I always regard the people whose company I keep in direct relation to how they treat me, what's the content of their character, and whether they are positive, open, and fun to be with.

I've dated younger guys, older guys, broke guys, rich guys, blondes, Asians, exotic foreigners, and bland surfer dudes. Funny, only one person ever pegged me as not having a "type" — and it just happened to be on a blind date — this perceptive fella said, "I can see you with a Wall Street broker one week, and a street musician the next." So true!

Another friend of mine, a fellow singleton, was telling me about this book she was reading a few weeks ago, something about How To Find Your Soul Mate. And one of the things in the book was on the importance of making a very specific list of what you want in a man. And, what you don't want. She said, something like, "100 things, and specific, like Boxers vs Briefs." Mind: blown. I can't think of 100 rigid, specific things I want, to the exclusion of others. There are lots of things I want, and some I don't want, but there are few deal-breakers.

That's why I could never, ever fill out a quiz like this… I want to tic of *ALL* the boxes. (Or at least add an "All of the Above" option.)

So, sure… my ideal man has the wit & wisdom of Oscar Wilde. The philosophical nature of Bob Dylan. The artistic style of Jean Luc Godard. The sexual & romantic prowess of Richard Burton. The entrepreneurial flair of Richard Branson. The curiosity of Michio Kaku. The humor of Johnny Carson. The fashion sense of David Bowie. The autonomy of Jack Kerouac. The musical talent of Jack White. The grace & charm of Errol Flynn. But… I am open to negotiation!

I wonder if having a "type" isn't more of a male thing? I used to think I just liked blondes, because my first serious boyfriend was blonde, and I always loved Brad Pitt, Robert Plant, and so forth… but I never wound up actually dating many of them. (Blondes, I mean. Because I totally went out with Brad Pitt and Robert Plant.)

I like good looks as much as anyone, and I've dated some drop-dead gorgeous men, but prettiness ain't a prerequisite: as long as a guy can rock the ugly with style and panache, I'm down. But when I was talking to another friend of mine — a guy — about this, he said men aren't nearly as willing to overlook less-than acceptable physical traits. Is this true? Do you agree?

Do *you* have a type?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Staci Layne's State of the Union

Her style is new but the face is the same as it was so long ago,
But from her eyes, a different smile like that of one who knows.
-- Led Zeppelin, Heartbreaker

I realize it's superficial, but I'm a visual person and I'm always curious to know if the changes I've been through from year to year, month to month, day to day, really show. I feel them, I think I see them in the mirror, but is it just my own inner projection?

Can you see how sad I was in May? It's the reason I dyed my hair blonde in July, 'cause that's what girls do to cheer up. Can you tell how happy I was in August, or that I turned another year older then? That I rocked an incredible professional accomplishment in November? Yeah, I guess you could say I'm superficial... but never shallow!

I am a deeply superficial person.
-- Andy Warhol

2012 has not been as tumultuous as 2011, not as passionate or exciting, but it's been joyous and liberating all the same. It's been a year to pause and reflect, recharge and bear down to unleash some amazing artistic endeavors I will pursue in 2013 (what was that you said, King Pacal Voltan? Oh, yeah… well… let's just say I hope to pursue these amazing artistic endeavors should there be a 2013).

I've had my share of romantic ups 'n downs this year. Been rocked 'n rolled. But I'd rather have a broken heart than an unbreakable heart. (Listen to Eric Clapton's "I've Got A Rock 'n Roll Heart")

While my heart's been battered, my soul has been nourished -- I've enjoyed the most gratifying artistic accomplishments of my life, as well as seen so many stunning gallery and museum exhibits, enjoyed existential films, attended many live shows (theater, and concert), discovered some bands I absolutely adore, and read some really fantastic books.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Lao Tzu

Speaking of books, rights reverted back to me on 4 of my previously-published paperbacks, so I decided to update them and DIY it, e- style.

Ghost Writer, my demonic dark comedy novel, is out now for $2.99 and my nonfiction reference tome on cinematic critters, Guide to Animal Movies, is downloadable for $3.99. Dark Lullaby (novel) and 50 Years of Ghost Movies (nonfiction) will soon follow. (click here to learn more)

Also (so cheap, it's free!) here's the short film I directed, The Night Plays Tricks, as well as the rock video I did for my dad's band, The Ventures. The Ventures are Rock & Roll Fame of Fame inductees and are on their 50th Anniversary tour of Japan. I made the video to celebrate that milestone. (And lo and behold, this rock video has indirectly led to two more I'll be directing in early 2013.)

The Night Plays Tricks from Blue Streak Productions on Vimeo.

The Ventures Beethoven 5-O - Fiftieth Anniversary video from Blue Streak Productions on Vimeo.

Opportunities are not lost. They are just taken by others.
-- Jane Bozarth

In October, my 10-year run writing and reporting for the fantastic came to an end. I'd been given plenty of notice but it was still sad to know it would be over. I am so grateful for all the fantastic friends I made, the wonderful connections, grand travels, and unforgettable films I saw in the course of my work there. But, as one door closes, a window opens. I look at the loss as a gain, to try new things!

I'd decided I would take a break for the rest of the year, and just focus on my screenplays and some short stories I want to write. But of course, industrious me and freelance work are never apart for long.

Without looking, asking or seeking, here's what I picked up in November & December:

  • I directed a 9-part video series for Brooke Lewis called Be You, and Be Fearless
  • Yahoo! Movies & TV doubled my "Fashion in Film" Beat
  • Fangoria granted me several writing assignments, including merchandise reviews
  • I got a job ghost writing a blog for a super-cool, edgy and funny home-improvement guru
  • I was filmed as a horror 'expert' for two upcoming Blu-ray featurettes
  • I got a call-back for a reality tv show I auditioned for on a lark

For myself, I chose to:

  • Release my books on Kindle, Nook, Palm, etc. and worked with a great graphic designer on all-new covers
  • Entered The Ventures Beethoven 5-0 video as a short film for The San Diego Surf Film Festival and got in
  • Open two stores on Etsy: One for my vintage clothing, and one for my horse-related antiques

That's just November and December…

Had a wonderful birthday in August, as always. Birthdays (mine, and my friends') and Halloween are my favorite holidays, by far.

Tuesday's Child is full of grace.
-- Traditional Nursery Rhyme

Sometimes I like a low-key birthday… not this year! I hosted a three day pub-crawl party with four of my fellow "Virgo Vixens" -- we hit The Abbey in WeHo on the first night, then Jace hosted a house party in Laurel Canyon, and lastly we took it all off at Jumbo's Clown Room in Hollywood. (Actually, I did the low-key thing too: on my actual birthday, I went sight-seeing all by myself. It was beautiful.)

Halloween was incredible, too: Many costumes, several parties. Lots of fun, and definitely my favorite season. Not sure what it will be like moving forward, without to write for (Sept/Oct was always my "busy" time!). Since then I've been posting some of my film reviews on my LiveJournal

This would be the War & Peace of blogs if I went through each and every month, but as usual, I went to SD Comic-Con and covered it as a reporter, I traveled all over the country to film sets to conduct interviews, spoke on panels for Women in Horror, co-hosted my show Inside Horror (we wrapped season 3, and are now on hiatus), etc. Never a dull moment.

Target Audience Magazine Piece on Inside Horror (click here to read the interview with me & Elric)

Even though I have enjoyed many, many artistic and professional accomplishments in my life -- 2012 being no exception -- money doesn't drive me and I am able to make time for friends. Personal connections have always been the way I've not only found work, but where I've found my greatest contentment.

I can't possibly name everyone, but I am pleased to have met so many wonderful new people and broadened my social circle so considerably. Longtime friends have remained, and are as treasured as ever. Thanks to wonders of social networking I've happily connected with a few friends from the past, two or three of whom I haven't spoken to in over a decade. What's more, I got to see my family a number of times this year: I traveled to Seattle twice, and they came here to L.A.

This photo pretty much sums up the joyous, socially spirited times I've enjoyed in 2012. Snap was taken at the Dresden Room, an Old Hollywood landmark I've long known about, but had never been to.

It is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.
-- John Milton

2012 was a year-long odyssey of exploration. I was born in L.A., and I have never not lived in California. Yet, there are so many historical sites I never got around to. Not so, anymore. I went to the Marilyn Monroe Exhibit at the art deco Max Factor Building (which I've driven by 10,000 times, but never entered), I went hiking up in Griffith Park, I checked out the Chateau Marmot, and I spent two days exploring Old Pasadena all by myself (as much as I love my friends and spend time in their company, this has also been a fantastic year of solitude and contemplation.)

I began a side-business house- and pet-sitting a little bit last year, but it took off recently. Pay ranges from nil to "nice!", but as I said: it's never about the cash for me. It's about enjoying what I do and just having enough to pay my bills. Since I no longer have pets of my own, it's a real joy to care for cats, dogs, and even horses on occasion. (If you know anyone who needs a pet-sitter in 2013 and beyond, send'em my way!)

The end of the year always brings updates from those I've been missing -- not the least of which are pets I loved, and parted with. Chocolate is a rescue cat, and Faxi is an Icelandic pony I bought, enjoyed for years, and then sold. Every year, a smile's been brought to my face when I hear the latest.

Sadly, in the latest update, I learned Faxi (who was foaled in summer '78), passed away on the evening of December 13. But still, I smiled… remembering our adventures together on the beaches and riding trails of Rancho Palos Verdes. I smiled, knowing how loved and treasured he was by his next 'mom' who showered him with affection and spoiled him even more rotten than he already was.

Chocolate the cat is still alive, though he's slowing down. Here's the letter I got from Kathy, "Hi Staci, writing to give you the annual Christmas update on our dear Chocolate (Snowy.) He's an old guy now, but still funny and loving as ever. The attached photo is from today; I was in the process of setting up the messy, live Christmas tree and of course he came to check it out. He still gets two insulin shots daily and he's living well with diabetes now. He's put on weight over the past year, which is a great sign for an older kitty. He had to have a couple of teeth extracted during the summer, but having fewer teeth doesn't interfere with his appetite! When I took him to the vet a few days ago for a check-up, a blood test showed that he's got declining kidney function. Sadly, it means that his days are numbered. We will treasure every remaining moment that we have with him. We've had so many great years with this guy; we cannot begin to tell you how grateful we will be to you forever for bringing him into our lives."

I'm not saying 2012 has been all wine and roses, not by a long shot. Lots of big, big losses (a great love, steady job gone, had my share of downs). However, now that I am a completely autonomous person and free of emotional suppression, my true and innate optimism is allowed to shine and flourish. I choose to shed the pessimists and I decide with whom I spend my personal and professional time. I don't look back with regret. I look back with appreciation for the wisdom and character I've developed from those so-called negative experiences. From the amazing gifts those connections gave me. For that, I am most grateful and I only hope I can be worthy of such heart-stirring blessings as 2012 flows into 2013.


Faves of 2012 (some new; some newly discovered)

2046 (movie)
A Kubrick Odyssey (LACMA art exhibit)
A Single Man (movie)
Amour (movie)
Anti-Viral (movie)
Best of The Smiths (album)
Blunderbuss (Jack White album)
Boardwalk Empire (season 3)
Bowie 2001: Kubrick-Inspired Remix (music)
Breaking Bad (all seasons on DVD)
Café de Flore (movie)
California Deco Style & Design: 1935-1965 (LACMA exhibit)
Central Park 5 (documentary)
Chocolate wine

Conversation Piece (movie)
E.A.T. Café
Femme Fetale Group Show (Cella Gallery)
Fire: Walk With Me (David Lynch art exhibit)
Fraulein (photography book by Ellen Von Unwerth)
God Is Not Great (book by Christopher Hitchens)
Gone Girl (book by Gillian Flynn)
Hanni El Khatib (music)
Headhunters (movie)
Jack White (in concert)
Jekyll & Hyde (musical theater)
Jumbo's Clown Room (hangout)
Jumpcut Café (hangout)
Killer Joe (movie)
Kitten (in concert)
Necromance (store)
Pacé Restaurant
People Who Eat Darkness (book by Richard Lloyd Parry)
The Last Nude (book by Ellis Avery)
Design For Living (movie)

Possession (35 mm screening)
RestaVrant (in concert)
Saez (music)
Silence! (musical theater)
Smash (on TV)
Sunday School (Kitten E.P.)
Surreal Women Artists (LACMA art exhibit)
Tender (short film)
The Artist as Critic (book by Oscar Wilde)
The Dump (short film)
The Long Last Call (short film)
The Richard Burton Diaries (book)
VUM (in concert)
W.A.R. (short film)

New Website:

New Etsy Stores: Memory Layne & Equine Esoterica