Thursday, March 29, 2007

Intolerable Cruelty

I am suffering from empathy overload.

Meat makes me mad. Dairy is driving me crazy with sadness & frustration: milk & cheese are synonymous with meat. Calves are dragged away from their mothers after birth and the male calves will be crated to be veal or slaughtered to be beef. I am becoming more and more intolerant of milk & meat in my presence.

While in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I had noticed an extremely disturbing billboard for a horror movie titled, "Captivity". It consisted of four panels that showed a young woman in various states and the words: abduction (with a gloved hand over her mouth), confinement (behind a chain-link fence with her bloody finger sticking out), torture (gauze over her face and tubes up her nose), termination (her head thrown back and lifeless). It was pretty horrifying and I can't believe these ads were even up, well apparently, others were offended enough too that the ads have been removed.

This offensive ad reminded me of what animals in the meat, dairy, fur & wool industry are subjected to on a daily basis. I wish that people would open their eyes and be offended by the meat they are eating or the milk they are drinking and the horrifying existence that we have imposed on livestock & fowl. Chickens & turkeys are debeaked without anesthesia because they are crammed in such close quarters that they would peck and attack each other. Beaks are akin to fingers. They are full of nerve endings and chickens use their beaks to explore.

I guess I should be thrilled about Burger King making a shift towards sourcing from humane slaughterhouses. Not exactly, what a vegan would wish for...but, I am appreciative that some of these big companies are at least cognizant of the pain & suffering of these animals. This is a hopeful step in the right direction.

Well, what's a girl to do with all this empathy overload & frustration?
Make yummy vegan blueberry pancakes with tempeh bacon?

Well, these were delicious and fluffier than any non-vegan pancakes I had ever made, but not the right answer.

The correct answer to what's a girl to do with empathy overload & frustration is:

Party like a vegan rock star of course!

Just picked up some tickets for a fun cocktail benefit on 4/7/07 where I will be with like-hearted people at the the Farm Sanctuary Event in NYC. Am really looking forward to this fabulous benefit- wish you all can join! If you can't make it, I promise to take some fun pictures.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Week In Photos

I have been remiss in my blogging duties and forgive the verbosity from the previous make up for the super long read last time, I give you a week in photos with extremely terse commentary:

Ethiopian Lentil Stew from Post Punk Kitchen, first toasting the spices-

grinding the spices-

toasting & grinding your own spices, fills your home with the most amazing aroma-

yummy finished stew of spices, lentils, peas, tomatoes & crusty bread-

a kind of bruschetta that I made with tomatoes, olives, onions, cashews and an eggplant that I smoked. I loved the flavor of smoked eggplant and never realized how easy it was until Bazu from Where's The Revolution showed us how

a banana split with cocoa fudge rice dream, cranberries & pistachio and Booboo thinking that it's all meant for her-

Here are the vegan cupcakes I made for a definitive non-vegan St.Patty's Day party- always the best way to show some serious meat-eaters that there are yummy, animal-free goodies-

basil chili vegetarian duck at a nearby thai place-

a tofu frittata made with vegan cheese, green peppers, mushroom alongside tempeh bacon and a mesclun salad with rasberries-

On the way to a shoot, right across from the studio is the interesting, but not sure that I love it...Frank Gehry's IAC building
Onto the studio...
Behind the scenes- hair & makeup...and in the right-hand corner, a little friend-

A few secrets for a successful photo shoot- good team, great lighting and extra hair for the models- real human hair...kind of creepy.

The photographer & his lovely dog, who does a great bunny imitation...
And as always, a big yawn- that's how the pups generally feel at a photo shoot- lots of sitting around and waiting....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

L.A. Confidential

After months and weeks of work, worrying, preparation & stress, my shoot date for Los Angeles has finally come. A little background perhaps on my mindset before traveling for either business or pleasure: I worry about Booboo. I have separation anxiety. I worry about her being home alone. I also worry about flying. I have watched way too many reports on the 9/11 commission (and all the essential recommendations still not implemented after all these years) and the CNN report on TWA Flight 800 (the likelihood that a short circuit caused a spark that ignited the center fuel tank- an inherent problem in all commercial passenger planes)- so yes to sum it all up: work stress, flying anxiety- ah yes, just another neurotic child of today's environment.

Shall we begin?

Had a car pick me up at 6:30am Saturday morning, arriving bright & early for my 9am flight at JFK. Breezed right past check-in and security, no lines whatsoever...even encountered a pre-packaged vegan salad with chickpeas & vinagrette dressing at the first food counter (perfect for lunch on the plane!). Now onto the search for some coffee with soymilk and the only place that would have soymilk is good ol' Starbuck's. I am on hyper-overdrive and my senses are working at optimal speed, quickly scanning for the familiar green & zooming in on everyone's coffee containers- I locate a Starbuck's about ten gates down from mine. They have this little flag up to let you know that you are about a few feet away or so I thought...

That flag is to encourage you to stay on the super long ordering line! Honestly, that line for Starbuck's took longer than check-in & security put together that morning. But then again I had plenty of time before the plane boarded and this was the only place in the airport that carried an alternative to that mama cow secretion meant for their own babies- you know that sad drink known as 'milk' (humans are the only species that drinks another species' milk- how unnatural. And don't get me started on what dairy cows are subjected to... another interesting tidbit from that link- "There's a hunk of veal in every glass of milk. Every single veal calf is the child of a dairy cow." So if you would never consider eating veal, you should also consider giving up dairy. It's all so inter-related because those dairy cows are so used up by the age of four that they are then turned into hamburger meat. It's all so incredibly sad. So for the need of soymilk in my coffee & empathy for cows, I happily stand on this line.

So after my 15min wait, drink in hand- off to the gate for more waiting...finally boarding the plane ( I got a comfy exit row seat- though I take my exit row duties very seriously, making sure I know exactly how to manuever that emergency door as my exit row partner snoozed on.)
I made numerous work lists, read a little, knitted a lot, drank lots of apple juice, went to the bathroom a few times, worried about short circuits & sparks igniting the center fuel tank as my reading light went on and off by itself and the nonstop incessant stewardess call bell in my section rang every other minute the whole entire 6hrs flight. This was definitely faulty wiring because apparently it rang nonstop on the flight before, well nothing I could do but turn up the volume on my ipod. 6hrs later with a permanent ding in my ears, I emerged from the plane into the California sunshine.

Yes, I can see why people are so much more mellow here and especially down by the beach in Santa Monica where the hotel was. Did I mention that Fcat was the photographer on this shoot? So perfect that we get to work & stress together and as the producer, I can put us in the same room to look out for my shoot budget!

We were staying at The Viceroy, which was a cute hotel- a little too super-trendy and decor that was trying too hard to be cool for my taste, but was still cute and subtle enough in certain places. I love the griffin wallpaper by the elevators- that's partially my reflection with coffe cup in hand.

I love green and the door was green!

Cute little dog lamp- can't go wrong there...
Our room with a green chair...

Our room with a little terrace that never got used...

Here's a shot of the pool that I never got to lay out by...

However, I did get to have a quick bite by the hotel garden. The only vegan option was the portobello burger, and I had asked if it was vegan, though I suspect that the brioche bun probably had egg in I left the bun off.

Fcat, in photographer mode, decided at the last minute that he really did need a prop for the shoot after all. So we were going to have to go 'shopping' for a table that he envisioned for this portrait- all I wanted to do was sleep, but I wanted to be supportive and off we went to La Brea to see if we could find this distressed table that he had in finding a needle in a haystack- so last minute and in unfamiliar territory with 2hrs before the stores closed.

Went to a whole bunch of places and we were getting cranky...didn't find the table here at this crazy junkyward kind of place, but I thought it an appropriate pic considering how slow going and hopeless our search seemed ( we were shooting the next morning at 7am)...

This little person embodied how I felt- tired, cranky and just plain tired. Also reminded me of those figures in Pompeii, people encased in soot at the moment of death. However, just goes to show, never give up because as we were ready to throw our hats in and were driving back towards the hotel, when we spotted one last place and lo and behold, inside was a table to Fcat's liking. The owner was more than happy to rent it out for our shoot and carefully into the car it went.

That evening we should have just stayed and ordered in at the hotel and get an early night's sleep for our big shoot day tomorrow, but since I was over-tired and being difficult- there was nothing on the hotel menu for me to eat. We decided that it might be good to get some air and venture out to Real Food Daily , an organic vegan resturant within walking distance from our hotel. What I am about to say is upsetting because I, like Urban Vegan hate to give a bad review to a veg place, but I did not love it here at all but I know there are people that do. Though, to the restaurant's credit and of course to their fans'credit- I may have ordered the wrong dishes or their kitchen could have been having a bad night. The restaurant was certainly packed. And we met some lovely people like Mario & Jennifer, she's an owner of Mandala Tea Room, a vegan tearoom/cafe in Scottsdale and they also have a spa & boutique called Mandala Apothecary. Everything they ordered, they liked. We, on the otherhand, fared differently.

We started with some raw rolls- similar to vietnamese summer rolls, but all raw. Was crunchy and fresh, but was on the bland side.

These were the enchiladas and they were actually tasty, but the tortillas' were on the tough side.

This was the special for the evening- a shepard's pie playfully titled, Dance With Me Van Morrisson. However, despite the name, it was just really bad. Bland mush. Even the brussel sprouts and broccoli were bland. It was terrible and I am so grateful that the non-vegan diner next to me, brought here by his vegan friend, was not able to order the special because they were out of the shepard's pie. It would have been disastrous- a non-vegan thinking that bland mush is vegan cooking.

By the end of the meal, I was happy to just grab a cookie to go. Well, I have yet to find a bad vegan cookie, let alone a bad mint carob chip cookie. Guess the time had come...

Here's a picture of the BAD cookie I met on my trip. It tasted all yeasty and grainy and just what one would imagine bad vegan baking to be like. Yucko- and there it remained in the hotel room.
After an entire night of no sleep due to our room being above the pool area which was adjacent to the super hopping trendy bar, I awoke- cranky, exhausted, but full of nervous energy. It was daylight savings and we had a 7am calltime. After countless warnings to the entire crew and double checking & triple checking, someone was bound to be late. And they were- the production motorhome & my local production assistant, but it was all fine because I adjusted accordingly and our shoot was in motion.

Our shoot was for a charity project sponsored by a watch client. We shot the very gracious actor, Timothy Dalton, who contributed his time for this project. I can see how Timothy Dalton was James Bond because he is such the gentleman and still so handsome and charming. We also had this really amazing sportscar that a wonderful owner donated his time & car for the shoot. It is a limited edition Ford GT40. What a machine! There's Fcat with camera in hand.

Here's a shot of the cool location we ended up at- under the 4th Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles. So proud of Fcat- he really shot some amazing photos and our shoot went really well!

Would have been great to have a fun last night out- but we ate at the hotel bar and ended up passing out after what should have been a quick nap. Another early morning, a little breakfast and off to the airport...but, it's never that calm and easy is it?

Fcat and I had separate flights. And it should have been easy & straight forward, but it wasn't. There was mixup for me because even though my ticket was ticketed by one airline, it was operated by another and I was at the wrong terminal- far from the other terminal in another building with very little time to spare. The harried, panic set-in and I took a deep breath. Luckily, I happened upon the right shuttle bus as I was trying to figure out how to run across the parking lots to get to the other building, had a fairly quick moving self-check in line and then no line at all through security. Rushing headlong to my gate with enough time to buy a super expensive fruit cup, I finally breathe before boarding. Settled comfortably into the three seat row all to myself, I am relieved and ready to get home. As we fly across the varied landscapes and a bit of turbulence, from sandy dunes & desertscape...

to snow- peaked mountains...

to parched rock formations...I cannot wait to get home.

After all the hustle & bustle of the shoot and traveling miles and miles, this little furball that sleeps on her head is what I can't wait to come home to....

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Prepping for Stress

Clearly, I am behind in finishing the posts that I begin...and here comes the dog-ate-my-homework excuse: I am extremely busy with work. I've been prepping for some big upcoming shoots and consequently, badly managing my anxiety and stress. You know how they always say "Don't sweat the small stuff.", well, my job when producing a photo shoot is exactly that - sweat the small stuff, the big stuff and everything in between- anticipate all possible things going wrong so that everything is covered . And yes, I was sweating it all.

My boyfriend, who shall now be referred to as Fcat- he not only has the patience of a saint, but he always tries to make me feel better during my especially stressed-out weeks, even though I still take it out on him- thank goodness for me that he has the patience of a saint!

So have been crazed working all week on castings & the upcoming photo shoot in LA, but then I added yet another project to extra packed schedule- a casting presentation. I had been busting my behind all weekend, sitting in front of the computer from 9am til 10pm, working on a last minute power-point presentation that would ultimately defend my job and answer heckling from the peanut gallery (which I discovered the heckling was due to an ulterior motive- the peanut gallery has close connections with a really big peanut in the casting business and as I and many others suspected, it was less about me and more about trying to get their big peanut into my cookie jar...). So on top of everything I was working on, I also had to come up with a kick-ass presentation which was extra tedious and time consuming.

Fcat to the rescue with taking me out for Sunday lunch! I did need an hour away from the computer because I was starting to see in pixels. We went to Patsy's- a great brick oven pizza place very very close by. We split a salad and a large pie with olives & broccoli- my half with no cheese of course!

I ate three slices. Grabbed a shot before I polished it off.yum!

Pizza hit the spot and I went back and worked until the evening, but ended up putting together a rather impressive presentation and the clients were thrilled and hopefully, will keep their cookie jar in my kitchen for a while longer...

Woke up and made Fcat some scrambled tofu (boring, I know that's all I seem to make- scrambled tofu, well that and marinated tempeh...see below) to start the week off properly to fortify & stave off the oncoming anxiety attacks...

Also made Fcat a little dinner of oh guess what- tempeh again, mashed sweet potato, quinoa & delicious brussel sprouts which Bazu had called attention to another blogger's yummy recipe. Garlic, breadbrumbs,lemon and brussel sprouts- so tasty. I've discovered that what I thought I loved about baked clams, has nothing at all to do with clams- it's the buttery, garlicky, lemony breadcrumbs that makes it so damn good. So now, I no longer miss baked clams because now I can mix earth-balance, garlic & breadcrumbs on my brussel sprouts!

Another dinner, was swiss chard w/olives, garlic, lemon & sweet potato with flax seed.

And Thursday came with yet another big video casting of models. This is one of the many configurations of studios where I put models on camera. Yes, that little yellow taped box is where the model stands. Stacked on the stool are portfolios of models that can't make it, but I still show the books to the clients. That is Fcat's back sitting below- he's here to light the models and work the camera. We get to work together a lot, which is nice, but since he is so empathetic- he takes on my work stress because we are constantly working for the same clients.

This tiny little teacup came to the casting with a model. This little teacup was super cute.
At the end of crazed casting day, my Fcat brought me yummy vegan cupcakes from S'Nice. What a nice treat! I got to sample them all: yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting, red velvet with vanilla frosting & chocolate with peanut butter frosting. The choc with peanut butter was the best. The red velvet was a little too sugary, but I was a trooper and was able to get through it somehow...hehehe.

Well, onwards to my big LA production- as I cross each project off my list, the stress levels down. The best thing for my stress, anxiety and the knots in my back would be to go to yoga, but have had no time at all- so the cupcakes and pizza will have to do for now...
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