While awaiting "working actor" status (i.e., both paid and working regularly) I have been for some years as a transcriptionist, typist and/or editor. Most of my work the past few years has been for one woman that runs a small but successful company. About a year and a half ago she told me I make more mistakes than any other transcriptionist she has ever used. Man, I thought I was fired for sure when she said that. After all, she has used a number of typists over a span of at least thirty years. This was obviously quite a mark of un-distinction! I don't know why she lets me keep working for her. I like to think it is because I am doing a much better job now, and that my past flurry of mistakes were a fluke. She's the best client (or boss) I have ever had and I adore her really. My delusions of having become a top-rate transcriptionist through my devoted efforts in the past year and a half were broken when she recently said to me, "I'm glad you are taking more acting classes. You seem to get more positive feedback for your acting than your typing." Well, I haven't done much in acting yet. Not much at all. That made it quite a mouthful to take in. Hah!
But then, I very greatly appreciate the pragmatist outlook - going with what works. I have heard of other actors that weren't very good at their previous jobs either. Any chance this could be a sign that I may do great guns in acting? Well shoot, I can only hope so - and of course, try harder at never giving up on the work that fires my passions and dreams. And I do enjoy writing too, so here are some meandering thoughts I hope you might find informative and/or of some amusement.
There are dreams, and then there are deep thoughts. Well, maybe not all that deep, but here's one recurring thought: I never could understand about Daylight Savings Time - adapting the time on the clock to our habits rather than just changing our habits with time. I remember as a kid asking why we had it and being told that it was to help the farmers and other who needed it to be light when they were working. The best I can make of the entire reasoning behind all this was that people just couldn't stand the idea of going out to work or coming home at 7 o'clock instead of 6 o'clock, so everyone in the entire country has to make-believe - only this is an "official" make-believe - that 6 o'clock is really 7 o'clock for six months of the year. This way, folks can go to work at 7 o'clock rather than 6 o'clock without feeling guilty that it's so late or something. Or maybe it's just that they didn't want to have to change their schedule. Beats me. Still can't figure it.
And how about the way food is being grown now in the huge factory farms using not only gazillions of pesticides? Pesticides were first developed during one of the World Wars as something to kill enemy human beings with. When the war ended, the company that made the poisonous stuff had to figure out a way to turn their profits in peacetime, so they changed the name of it to pesticides and started selling it for farmers to spray on the food people eat - to kill the bugs, yeah, but some of that stuff seeps into the actually food that is grown too.
As if that weren't enough, now we have a plethora of genetically engineered (GE) foods and even some genetically modified (GMO) foods in our grocery stores. Although polls have shown that 75% of the American people think GE and GMO foods should be labeled as such at the stores, they require zero labeling. And as much as 75% of the foods now sold in the supermarket chains are or contain GE or GMO foods. Just about all the breakfast cereals for instance. Reading discussions on the website where I get a lot of inspiration and moral support for my raw foods diet I came across this post by Jaya: "Did anyone see the article that described a new GE corn? Some brilliant scientists injected it with some protein that stops pigs from having diarrhea....You really have to wonder about the kind of person that thinks these things up. I wonder how they would like to eat their own creation." Maybe that's the answer. Maybe the folks that put this stuff out should be required to eat it themselves.
Some people see GE and GMO foods as an improvement on what Mother Nature has been offering. I've even heard proponents of such food technology go so far as to say that it is ecological and will help feed the starving masses. Listen long enough and one would think these companies have a heart as big as Mother Theresa's. But I don't know. My sensibilities ran a shiver up my spine when I heard that tomatoes were being tested with being crossed with alligator skin. Is it just vegetarians that find this disturbing?
GMO foods are not as common as GE foods - yet - but the reports coming out are definitely disturbing. A friend read in an article recently in which a farmer complained that since his cows have been eating GMO corn they've been rendered sterile. Other farmers have made the same complaint. No studies have been done on the effect on humans, but this certainly sounds like something that should be looked at.
In 1996 (six years ago) a major GMO food disaster was narrowly averted when researchers in Nebraska learned that a Brazil nut gene spliced into soybeans could induce potentially fatal allergies in human beings. Tests on animals had turned up negative. Hey, I am only touching the surface of the problems in my little column here. Okay, here's a little more. As of 1998 in the US, one-third of all corn was genetically engineered to produce its own insecticide. Really there are some serious concerns. The thought of humans being cross-bred with Aliens is less frightening to me that this GE and GMO stuff, let me tell ya! If you want to learn more about this - and what foods are being affected now - check out www.truefood.org, www.biointegrity.org, www.panna.org,
The possible effects on human beings who consume GE and GMO foods has never been studied, and the FDA has approved for these foods to go into our marketplace not only without such studies but also without labeling. Wanna know why? A guy who was in legal counsel at Monsanto (the multinational company that is developing, pushing and selling GE and GMO worldwide), Mike Taylor, put a proposal in to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that these foods should be approved with any studies for safety on humans be done. Then he quit his job at Monsanto and took a post at the FDA. As Deputy Commissioner at the FDA, the Monsanto man was in charge of such studies and approved the proposal he had submitted when working for Monsanto. Then, he quit his job at the FDA and went back to Monsanto, where I understand he got a nice promotion. His is now a Vice President of the company.
Maybe you don't want to research this or get active about it, but one very practical thing to know is that if you want to make sure you are not consuming GE and GMO-altered foods, the only easy answer is to buy and eat organic. More and more American consumers are buying organic now, and the prices are coming down. By definition, food labeled as organic has zero GE or GMO ingredients. There are other advantages, like also being guaranteed that your food has not been irradiated, but I won't get into them here. Hopefully what I have written will be helpful to a few people who had no idea this stuff was going on and want to know.
But that Mike Taylor guy, now he sounds really talented. I wonder if he can act too? I don't know, but I like to think of film acting as something truly organic - something natural and whole. Maybe acting would be a good therapy for Mr. Taylor. And with his special talents, maybe he could audition for a role in a megabudget Hollywood movie, then get a job as a Producer of the same movie, choose himself for a lead role, and then go back to acting. But instead of the principal role he auditioned for, he could be a Star. But then, what if he can't act and has no charisma? Then the mega-movie will end up in bad shape.
I couldn't really afford to "do up" Christmas this year. No tree, and minimal gift exchanging. Yet I do love the tradition of giving. I try to think of ways to give that don't cost money. It's fun. So, here is something for you. My own recipe for one of the tastiest and healthiest eggnogs ever. It's non-dairy - except for the egg. I guess that's technically dairy. Or maybe not. Vegans usually consider eggs an animal product and therefore not a compassionate way of eating. I see it another way. I mean, I don't lay eggs. But if I did, I wouldn't mind if animals ate them. And being a Golden Rule girl and all, I just don't see what all the hoopla is about, especially if one eats the eggs only of free range birds that are fed good wholesome organic food (and to avoid salmonella worries too). What I was having a problem with was just how gross it sounded to eat raw egg yolks. Being on a 97-100% raw diet now for over 8 months, I don't even think of terms of eating cooked foods anymore. I feel ten years younger and have lost close to 80 pounds of excess weight. And believe me, if the food didn't taste good to me this way, I would never stick to it. Luckily, I am finding that I am enjoying raw recipes even more than I ever enjoyed cooked. Anyhow, here's my recipe:
ALMOND MILK EGGNOG
2/3-1 c. almonds, preferably soaked 8-12 hours in pure water
10-12 dates, preferably soaked 3-6 hours
Drain almonds and dates, carefully remove the pits from each date, and blend at the highest speed of a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix, Ktec or Waring blender. (If you don't have a high-powered type blender you can still do this: just blend at the highest speed for about 4-5 minutes). Pour water in to the 4 cups line and then blend at high speed for 1-3 minutes. If you don't have any dates and want to use honey instead, that's okay too. Just wait and add the honey later, with the spices and egg yolk(s).
Strain blended mixture (most easily through a mesh strainer made from pantyhose), throwing out the pulp. I bought a pair of white pantyhose and cut them high up across each leg where the material gets thicker and just roll them down to convenient size. It's really fun. When you pour in the almond milk mixture it blows up at the bottom like a water balloon - so use a wide-brimmed bowl for this part! Pour liquid back into blender and add:
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 organic free range egg yolk(s), discarding the whites
1/4-1/2 tsp. vanilla (or a little piece of vanilla bean)
Blend at low speed just long enough to blend well and serve.
This recipe got a very enthusiastic, "Wow, this is GOOD!" from my very discriminating (and traditional eggnog-loving) son, Tristan. If you're vegan, just leave out the egg. It still tastes great, just less vitamin B12.
But all that wasn't what I was going to write about. I wanted to write about the Holidays and New Year's musings. I think first on my list of New Year's resolutions was to keep on task and not procrastinate.
Oh well. Maybe next year.
See you in the movies!
Michele Déradune is a single mom, film actress and voice talent represented by Ciao! Talents in Georgetown. She had a principal supporting role as Mel in SNAKE TALES (Winner "Best Independent Film Comedy" at the Gene Siskel Film Center), was featured in an unscripted movie by actor/director KEVIN SPACEY, and was the voice of Wakana in the English version of the Japanese anime SAKURA WARS 2. You can see Michele's online acting résumé by clicking on the link at http://www.Deradune.com.