[musicmonday] Singin’ the Blues

I went to the Rusty Nail for the First time Ever on Tuesday

It just so happens that every Tuesday, and every 1st Saturday at 8pm,  The Rusty Nail hosts a Blues Jam. Having never been to a blues jam before (or the Rusty Nail for that matter), I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As I crossed the threshold, I walked into a sea of jean and plaid. And none of it was worn ironically. A few people hovered around a pool table at the entrance, and others sat at 6 to 8-top tables tapping their toes in rhythm with the music.

Drunk or not Drunk

My date and I were the youngest people there by a decade or two, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. But nobody seemed to notice or care, so he and I pulled up some chairs and soon felt at ease. “Let’s play a game,” he said, “drunk or not drunk. Starting with the lead singer.” I glanced over at the woman behind the microphone. She was belting her heart out, and doing a mighty fine job of it, too. In between singing, she sipped on her drink and nodded her head with her eyes closed, swaying to the music. “That is a drunk face if I ever saw one,” I said.

Good Vibes

And that is the way this place rolls. People come on Tuesdays – it was pretty crowded – and they check their baggage at the door. They have a few beers and listen to soul-hardy music and they hoot and holler for the musicians (who were all on point regardless of how many beers deep they were). This is not a rough and rowdy crowd. There was not a single feeling of ill will floating around anywhere near that bar. And when we eventually left, the celebration was still going strong.

Some Other Blues Happenings in Wilmington

[musicmonday] Paco Strickland: a Wilmington Legend

lately I’ve been listening to the radio a lot

For such a small town, Wilmington has a number of great radio stations. So many that I can’t fit all of them onto the 6 program slots available on my car stereo. There’s the Oldies station (Jammin 99.9), the Classic Rock station (93.7 The Bone), the Modern Rock station (98.7), the Classic Hits station (94.5 The Hawk), 80s, 90s and today station (Sunny 104.5), the Alternative station (The Penguin 98.3), the Talk station (The Big Talker 93.7). There are also a few hits stations, NPR (which unfortunately just plays classical music all.the.time.), and another rock station or two.

Vacation Town

I think part of the reason we have so many good stations is because we are close to vacation towns Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. And each station seems to know what good music is in their genre. For instance, most Modern Rock stations seem to play way too much Nickelback and Linkin Park and not enough Talking Heads and Smashing Pumpkins. Not so with 98.7. At times they seem to be more of a rock alternative station than a typical modern rock station.

And then there’s Sunny 104.5. Tuning into this station is like having a flashback to high school. And I’m ok with that. The only unfortunate blip on the radio radar in Wilmington is the NPR station. It must be run entirely by unoriginal old folks who think that too much Beethoven is not enough Beethoven. I usually like to tune in to NPR to hear their news programs, not to listen to classical music. Luckily, we also have The Big Talker 93.7. It’s talk radio all the time.

For the most part, Wilmington radio stations rock my socks off. It’s as if they’ve all signed some agreement not to suck. And I’m diggin it.

So I heard some sad news on the radio the other day

Paco Strickland, the host of FLAMENCO CAFE on The Penguin and a Wilmington native renowned Flamenco guitarist, passed away from Multiple Myeloma, a terminal blood cancer.

From his website:

William “Paco” Strickland is one of North America’s few working Flamenco guitarists…Paco’s own passion and love of Flamenco has prompted a dedication to creating an awareness and appreciation of Flamenco Art in the Cape Fear Region.

Paco hosts “Flamenco Cafe” the nation’s only regularly broadcast radio program which is in syndication from the Atlantic Coast to the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, Paco has independently produced seven locally best selling” CDs and has been voted Best Solo Artist by area media for 10 years running. And, Paco scores music for various independent film, video, commercials, and television projects and contributes to local publications.

I am sad to have only just heard of him as they announced his death. The music by him that I’ve listened to so far is inspired and at times incredibly moving. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to see him in concert. But instead, I will have to settle for this video of him on Star News:

My Marketing Adventures with World’s End Vintage

On December 21st, 2012, Nothing Happened

Well something happened. I had a wardrobe sale. My very first since moving into my new studio space in Wabi Sabi warehouse. Actually my very first ever. I called it (cue dramatic voice) THE END OF THE WORLD WARDROBE, VINTAGE AND ODDITIES SALE.

Not too long after the sale, I opened a vintage Etsy shop and called it WORLD’S END VINTAGE. Now I’ve been doing my best to market this shop online to all of my lovely internet friends. This is what I’ve learned:

1) Internet Marketing Takes Work

I never expected it to be a cake-walk, but it really does take a ridiculous amount of marketing to sell one item. Or just to get views and likes. There are about 7 social networks that I share every one of my items on when I list them. Not to mention the 5 Etsy groups I am a part of. Once I have a larger number of items in my store I plan to start marketing to blogs as well.

2) How to Politely Solicit your Friends

One of your most important online avenues is Facebook. Most anyone who runs a business or is selling a product knows this by now. And the best way to get “likes” on Facebook is to solicit your friends. So I do my best not to be that friend who invites people to “like” pages on a regular basis or who sends out oodles of event invites to people who don’t live anywhere close to the event’s venue. Be kind to your Facebook friends and they will generally be kind to you.

I put out a politely worded request on my FB wall for friends to “like” my page and ended up with over 100 “likes” in less than 24 hours. On the flip side, don’t be embarrassed to promote yourself or your business. If you never mention your page, how are your friends supposed to “like” it?

Reciprocate – if you have friends with businesses or other pages, show your support by “liking” them. That way those friends will feel more inclined to help you out by “liking” your own pages.

3) Why you should Spread Out Your Updates

While it’s good to list a lot of items, I listed about 8 the first day and have been adding 1-3 items every other day. I don’t want to add all of them at once because I know if I keep updating my social media, people will come back to see updates. Plus you’ll appear more frequently in people’s news feeds and Etsy’s circles.

4) Reasons to Find a Mentor or ten

Find somebody who can impart their wisdom to you so you won’t have as much of a learning curve as they may have. Get people to critique your shop, the photographs of your items and your prices. Participate in threads on related Etsy teams and try to get people invested in your success. It’s a lot easier to be successful when you’ve got lots of people on your team instead of battling by yourself.

Help promote other shops and try to become a part of a few different groups. Find a friend or two who can keep you motivated – maybe you can trade off modeling each others’ clothes or jewelry for listings or craft together if you’re selling handmade items.

5) Setting Goals helps your shop flourish

It helps immensely to set goals – both long and short term – for your shop. I find this is the best way to manage your work when you’re working for yourself. For instance, one of my goals for my Etsy shop is to be able to pay off in sales what I pay for my studio in rent. Since my studio is the size of a large closet, rent isn’t that much, but you gotta start somewhere.

Secondly, set up a POA for how to reach your goal. My current POA is to list 1-3 items every other day and to spend 3-4 hours doing online marketing (all of the above) every MWF. Once I have more items in my shop (30 sounds like a good number) I’ll start trying to get some interest from bloggers and other local groups. Maybe I’ll create some flyers or postcards to put in stores around town.

I’m still working on my marketing strategy, obviously. But it’s getting there! With any luck, I’ll be selling more soon.

to follow my store, check out the links below

Here are some pictures of my studio just for fun.

Costume Studio in Wabi Sabi Warehouse

This is the back half of my costuming studio. Somehow I’ve managed to fit two full Z-racks back there plus a desk and two shelves piled high with boxes etc.

Costume Studio at Wabi Sabi Warehouse

Here’s the pretty side of my costume studio. I have curtains dividing this section from the back so it can be used as a fitting room. I also put up all of those shelves myself and the cheval mirror was a gift from the costume designer on We’re the Millers.

End of a Show, Beginning of an Era (?)

We’re the Millers is over

I found myself strangely nostalgic as I cleared my desk and packed everything from my desk organizer to my mini jade traveling Buddha into the stereotypical cardboard box of the employee who’s been let go. Thankfully, I hadn’t been fired. On the contrary, my boss was disappointed to hear I’d be leaving a little early. But when I told her that I’d be leaving for a Costume Designer position on a local feature film, A SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY, she was very excited for me. The timing worked out very well, as I only had to leave one week before WE’RE THE MILLERS changed location to New Mexico.

My desk in the costume warehouse of We're the Millers

Goodbye desk!

Learning Experience

I could not be more thankful for the incredible experience I had on WE’RE THE MILLERS. Even though I was hired originally as a Costume Assistant, I had the opportunity to work one to two days a week as an additional Set Costumer. Which, besides giving me valuable experience, was a pretty big pay increase.

As a Set Costumer, I (with my fellow set costumers) checked and dressed background actors (extras), prepped stock clothing, handled extras’ vouchers and kept an eye on the background’s overall color palette. We had a big carnival scene, so there were days when we had as many as 300 background all sitting around in a huge tent with air-conditioning blasting in through giant tubes. Most of our carnival scenes were at night, so we had 6pm-6am shifts, and the background tent felt like a hurricane shelter – children running amok, people in various stages of dress sleeping in chairs or on the floor, a woman rocking her 2-year old in her lap.

Vans shuttled us to and from set, and there were snacks and coffee (“crafty”) available. Also, we had a truck. A really big one. And it had a washer and dryer in it, a fridge, office, and tons of racks of clothes! I may or may not have used the cross bars for gymnastics.

Costume truck We're the Millers

Our traveling warehouse.

Saying Goodbye

The strangest, most difficult part about film (in my humble opinion) is knowing that most of the people you’ve worked with and become close to over the past couple weeks or months will head back to their respective homes and you’ll never see them again.

Now, I know that sounds dramatic, but think of it this way: working on a film is a little bit like going to summer camp. You meet a bunch of new people, work with them day in and day out, hang out with them on the weekends (because your last batch of friends left town after the last film ended), deal with drama, laugh about past events, develop these close friendships, and then you’re suddenly removed from their presence. Just like that.

Maybe you keep in touch with these people – via Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, but phone calls are rare occurrences, visits practically unheard of, and after a while they just drift away. After a couple of gigs like this, you stop investing in these relationships. You begin to accept the transience of your friendships and the fact that you may never again have close friends that are also close in proximity. This is part of my struggle with film work: the nature of the work prevents forming close relationships.

Where do I go from here?

That issue aside, I have been finding some success in the industry, and I am excited to see where it might lead me. I’m hoping to do this for a little while still – as long as I can hold out on my social life and other side projects, I suppose (you may have noticed a bit of a hiatus in my blogging. It’s rather difficult to spend hours writing nonsense when you work 70 hours/week).

In any case, I have managed to say no to a couple of projects this month in order to take a little vacation (it helped that I booked my flight months ago). We’ll see if I can keep up that trend. I’ll try to get up a couple posts about SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY and WITCHES OF EAST END soon, so stay tuned. I’ll also try to get up my pumpkin pie recipe this week! Yay, delicious treats!

Meanwhile, in Wilmington

So I’ve been working. A lot.

Which is good and bad. Good because I’m getting tons of experience in costuming & making pretty good money without the time to spend any of it. Bad because I have zero time to spend on anything else (ie blogging, writing, drawing, guitar, crafting and all the other creative projects I’m always trying to do).

I’ll be honest, this post is a filler.

Consider this my apology for being MIA for ages and a few more weeks to come, too. Starting the week after I finish on “We’re the Millers”, I’m going to be costume designing an indie feature called “A Short History of Decay”. I’ve already started working on it a little bit in my “spare time” on the weekends so needless to say, I don’t (and won’t) have much time to come up with well thought-out blog posts for a few more weeks. Just throwing that out there to anyone who might actually give a rip.

Meanwhile, here are some amusing pictures from a fundraiser I went to last weekend for my friend’s moped gang as well as pics of feeding time at Wilmington’s Serpentarium, an invitation to the Great Gatsby Gala, and a video I took by accident of the sun setting over the riverfront. Enjoy.

Just another Saturday at Satellite

Chicken Shit Bingo

how does a moped gang raise money, you ask? chicken sh*t bingo. obviously.

Chicken Shit Bingo

Trying to herd the chickens back into the pen

Somehow, I happened to stop by the Serpentarium right at feeding time.

Wilmington Serpentarium

snaaaaakes

Wilmington Serpentarium Feeding Time

nom nom nom

Wilmington Serpentarium

this is the most cuddly-looking snake I’ve ever seen.

“Let’s get out, this is much too polite for me”

Great Gatsby Gala

Totally want to go to this. Who wants to be my date?

Can’t say I’m not excited about the remake of “The Great Gatsby”, but I think it will be hard for them to top the 1974 version with Robert Redford.

It hurts by brain to think about how many extras this scene took. And how many of them had to know how to Charleston.

And finally, a random video I took while trying to take a photo.

Hometown Tour Pt II: Wilmington’s Arboretum

The other day, I was driving past Wilmington’s Arboretum for about the 12th time after a meeting that ended sooner than expected, so I decided to stop and enjoy the free (!) garden.
Arbor over greenhouse in Arboretum Wilmington, NC
As I mozied through the unattended gates, I noticed an art class painting the scenery directly to my right. Nice to see that the community is taking advantage of this free space!

Japanese rock garden Arboretum Wilmington, NCI wandered past the painters, spectators, and children running underfoot toward a section of the garden that immediately caught my eye. It was a Japanese rock garden directly in front of a small hut built in the Japanese style, with large red wooden ‘gates’ in the same style on either side of the path. You may or may not be aware of my obsession with all things Japanese, but suffice it to say that this part of the Arboretum made me very happy.

Japanese style hut Arboretum Wilmington, NCI played with the sliding doors to the hut for a little while, then moved on to other parts of the garden. It was not nearly as large as Airlie Gardens, but the space was well-planned and had plenty of secluded areas where I could envision myself reading or drawing or simply soaking up the green space for use on a rainy day.

Pencil Cactus in greenhouse at the Arboretum in Wilmington, NCI toured the two greenhouses, observing some really neat types of cacti. Then I read about rainwater irrigation techniques and learned that this urn-like fountain was more than decorative. It was recycling the water collected from the roof of the greenhouses.

Rainwater Irrigation System Arboretum Wilmington, NCEventually I made my way over to the Ability Garden (Horticulture Therapy Program) where a myriad of flowers and herbs were for sale for the meager price of $3.00. Better than anything I’ve seen at Lowe’s that’s for sure. They even had planters for sale full of various greenery that had been assembled by kids in the program.

Ability Garden Arboretum Wilmington, NCI walked back to the final space (as it turned out, it was supposed to be the entrance) which appeared at first glance to be a community garden. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that all the vegetables grown in this garden were donated to a charity that helps people in need. I think the Arboretum is my new favorite place!

big old tree arboretum wilmington, ncOn my way out, I grabbed a couple pamphlets about volunteering with the Arboretum and peered through the locked doors of the gift shop. Guess I’ll have to stop in next time!

(Accidentally) Furthering My Yogic Practice

Today I (accidentally) made great progress in my yogic practice.

I attended my first level 2/3 hot yoga class. I also attempted my first headstand and didn’t die! Considering I intend to (eventually) pursue yoga teacher-training, I think this is a giant leap in the right direction. To be fair, I didn’t exactly attend this class on purpose…

Yesterday I attended (what I considered) a difficult class after 5 days without practicing asanas (poses) at all. I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck, so I decided to go to the relax and restore Yin class today instead of a more challenging one. Of course, my groggy morning translated to a slow day of plodding through menial tasks and chores which led me to (naturally) get behind in my work. Consequently, I was running late to yoga after arriving to (and leaving from) a meeting behind schedule, and I didn’t make it on time for the class.

Not wanting to leave without my daily dose of yoga, I decided to stay for the last class of the day – starting 15 minutes later than the other class. It didn’t register with me until after we’d begun meditation that this was a level 2/3 class.

And let me tell you, it is amazing what your body is capable of, even when it is most exhausted! Don’t get me wrong, this class was tough, and my tired muscles suffered. After I got through it, though, I realized that perhaps I’d previously been too easy on myself. Here was the push that I needed to help me grow stronger in my practice.

My struggle today – in class and outside of it – was more mental than anything. During the day I allowed myself to sink into a lazy automation instead of gearing up to accomplish something great, and in my practice, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other students in a level 2/3 class. Luckily, I was proven wrong by an accident.

I’ve been told that the best way to improve at something is to practice with those who are more accomplished than yourself. I am confident now in the truth of those words. Had I not pushed myself (even by accident!), I would never have known what I was truly capable of.

Now, I plan to amp up my goals. For the next few weeks, I’m going to attend at least one level 2/3 class per week, in addition to 3-4 other classes (schedule permitting).

At the beginning of another class, our instructor suggested a few ways to live a yogic lifestyle off the mat. She mentioned swapping to energy-efficient light bulbs and conserving water. “We are so lucky to have the technology available to us to take long hot showers and baths, but maybe occasionally – even just once a month – you could cut off the water and bathe like they do in India, with just a bucket and a sponge.” A few people in the class chuckled uncomfortably, and I shifted a little on my mat. I have never been good at quick showers! So here is another goal : limiting my shower time to 10 minutes.

My third goal is to go to bed at a more regular, early time and to wake up at a more regular, early time. I’m going to say 11:00PM and 7:30AM.

I’m going to conclude this post with a couple of links that were shared with me today and that I believe are particularly relevant. Namaste.

Video: Yoga for Pain Relief

15 Things to Give up in Order to be Happy

Ally in Yogiland

Wilmington, NC: touring my new home

A few days ago, I did my first touristy thing since moving to Wilmington

I was feeling the need for some greenery and decided to seek out a Botanical Garden. The idea was planted (ha) in my mind a few days after I’d arrived when I drove out to Wrightsville Beach and passed a sign for Airlie Gardens. It wasn’t until I’d spent two days confined to my apartment doing some copy editing for a friend of mine that I finally snapped. I needed green and I needed it now!

I’d finished my work around 2:30 – Airlie was closing at 5:00 – just enough time to soak up the ‘wilderness’ for an hour and then come back to get ready for my yoga class (I’ve started attending yoga classes at The Wilmington Yoga Center…$15 for 15 days!).

When I was living in Montreal, I was spoiled with a number of amazing parks and green spaces close by. The Botanical Gardens was one of my favorite places to go, and I went quite a few times. I’ve also grown up going to Brookgreen Gardens outside of Myrtle Beach, another incredible green space. I’ve seen Kew Gardens in England, Versailles in France, Elizabeth Park in Hartford, an entire city of parks in Ottawa, High Line Park in NYC, and plenty of other beautiful green spaces that I haven’t mentioned here. Needless to say, I have pretty high standards when it comes to parks.

Airlie Oak in Airlie Gardens Wilmington, NC

The Airlie Oak - estimated to be over 400 years old

 

I paid my $5 admission, nodded as the man at the desk explained the self-guided tour route, then walked out the door and stared at my map. Cautiously, I followed what appeared to be the correct path, passing by a miniature version of a train station not quite small enough to be a doll’s house and then emerging onto an open lawn. There was a crew of workmen busily erecting big white tents, wiping sweat from their foreheads as they hammered 3-foot long metal stakes into the groomed terrain. This was my first impression of Airlie: an open space perfect for weddings and special events. Not much different from anyone’s backyard.

I passed through the ‘Tranquility Garden’, a butterfly house with a handful of monarchs and a huge tacky sculpture hanging from the center surrounded by ‘donated’ private spaces. One of these spaces even had a sign hanging above its cascading pebbles listing the name of the landscaping company that created the monstrosity. I felt more like I was on a tour of homes in a newly-developed neighborhood than in a botanical garden. Despite my aversion to the layout, I did absolutely adore one of these ‘private spaces’. Check it out below.

Secluded garden in Tranquility Gardens of Airlie Gardens Wilmington NC

After the Tranquility Garden, I followed the path to the Pergola Garden. This was more like what I had envisioned – decades-old growth over a pebbled pathway that led to a small pond in one direction and an unknown grave in the other.

walkway in Pergola Garden Airlie Gardens Wilmington, NCPergola Garden in Airlie Gardens Wilmington, NC

Unknown grave in Airlie Gardens Wilmington, NC

According to legend, this is the grave of one of Napoleon's former generals. How he ended up in Wilmington, NC I don't know.

I wandered past these landmarks and into the Camellia Garden with its 150-foot (barren) rose trellis. Maybe it’ll have blooms in the summertime.

Tulips in Spring Garden Airlie Gardens Wilmington, NC

I continued to the Spring Garden, where tulips bloomed around a fountain, and then on to the Mount Lebanon Chapel, which was built in 1835 and still in use today. I meandered through the cemetery behind the chapel, marveling at the new graves built around the centuries-old decrepit ones. I’ve always felt most at peace in cemeteries, so I stayed here for a little while, trying to decipher the names and dates on the old grave markers, imagining how each spent his or her life. One grave, covered in seashells and beach sand, I imagined was that of a light-house keeper, in love with the sea and all its creatures.

Mount Lebanon Chapel view from cemetery in airlie gardens wilmington, ncSea Shell grave in cemetery behind Mount Lebanon Chapel in Airlie Gardens Wilmington, NC

Finally, I moved on to some beautiful marsh-side views and circled round to the Garden Services Center where I started.

Bradley Creek and Airlie Lake Airlie Gardens Wilmington NCThough off to a rough start, my trek through Airlie Gardens was not disappointing. Definitely worth the $5 and 10 minute drive spent to get in. Not a must-see on your first trip to Wilmington but definitely a pleasant additional activity for any nature lover.

My next stop in this town will hopefully be the Arboretum, a free-to-the-public 7-acre “horticulture laboratory”.