Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"You Guys, Debbie's Bachelorette Party ROCKED!" By Stefannie Taylor in Accounts Payable

Hey you guys!

How about Debbie's bachelorette party the other night? Wasn't that rad? Thank you all for coming. I know we're not all 32 anymore, but I think it's important for all brides - no matter how many times they've been married before - to have a bachelorette party. It's just such a totally fun and honorable tradition.

It was really cool of Slammer's to let us still keep the reservation on their back room even though I didn't get confirmation from everyone until the day of (this is why you should all check your Outlook reminders, people! Helloooo? Sorry to be the office warden!) I was especailly excited that Luke (our fave hot bartender, ummmm....YUM!) made up a special drink for Debbie called the White Wedding. Just in case you don't remember what's in it: Red Bull & vodka (duh!) but Luke added a shot of white wine. Now, I never would've thought of that! I guess that's why Luke is in a highly creative field and I work with numbers. Could you imagine if Luke and I traded places for a day? HELP! I can barely mix water and water!

On that note, I'm glad that you breast feeders (and there are a lot of you. I should know, since I organised all of your baby showers held in the Large Conference Room!) remembered to pump. I know it's painful, but wasn't it worth it for a Girl's Night Out?

I SO can't wait to get my pictures back from Rite-Aid from the karaoke portion of the evening!!! Remember that? Thanks (all eleven of you!) for helping me sing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot". I don't know what I would've done if I had to sing by myself! My 'Karaoke Motto' has always been: "THE MORE THE MERRIER!" Personally I think that more people around the mic makes for a better performance. I know that T.G.I.Jeff (remember meeting him?) appreciated all of us singing backup to his brilliant "Love Shack". (I had Silly Foo' take a picture of that moment. Remember him? He was the old man with the cigarettes sticking out of his ears for a goof. Remember Jeri? He asked if you had any dogs. Remember?) Anyway - it was so great to cut loose!

Oh my god, I had so much fun! You know who were were? We were totally like 'Sex and the City'! I guess this means that Debbie will have to stop being Samantha and start being Charlotte! Ouch! HAHA! Just kidding Debbie. No I'm not! Double ouch! HAHA!

How about those fun games? Thank you so much Amanda for bringing that funny book - I don't know where you got it but those games were priceless. Remember that group of guys we got to sing: "Who Let The Moms Out?" to the tune of "Who Let The Dogs Out?" Price. Less.

I'm glad everyone got home okay. I'm so surprised that no one puked (except for you Stacey...but not because you were drunk. You're still having morning sickness seven months in? That's so weird! When I had Cheyanne and Sharona I barely even knew I was pregnant.)

When I get the pictures back, ALL of us are taking an extra long lunch (I'll call that skinny temp we always get) and we're going to Applebee's.

On me!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


(*** thanks to Ted Douglass for coining the phrase months ago when we first saw this poster in the Spamalot! program and couldn't stop laughing. Then Spamalot! started and we stopped laughing pretty quickly.)


Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wonder Years

Sydney, Australia 1983: I was 15 and all swoony over a boy named Matt who was my first kiss, one of my best friends and (briefly) my first boyfriend. What made me even swoonier was his Specials t-shirt (man, how I coveted that shirt.) This is us at his Black and White themed 14th birthday party. Matt was (and still is) one of the most stand-up people I've ever met. Artistically gifted and smart, he'd stop and make sure you were okay if you were a stranger and he saw you faint across the street - he's that type of guy. He could also play anything by ear on any instrument. He is now living in Adelaide, South Australia with a beautiful family (with a daughter) and working as a still photographer for The Movies. (If you've ever looked up a picture of Hot Fuzz for example, he's the man who took it. He just wrapped Where the Wild Things Are with Spike Jonze. Very cool job.)

What is really super aces about this is that last week Matt and a whole gang of old friends from Sydney got back in touch with me completely out of the blue. I had been wondering for years what happened to a handful of people I deeply cared about from the Mosman High crowd, and nearly everyone who were in my thoughts and heart over the years were the very ones to say 'Hi'. It's been pure comfort and joy to catch up. I feel like I just talked to these people last week instead of last 25 years.

What is astounding is that everyone (everyone!) is happy and doing what they love to do and also they are practically all artists in one way or another.

(I can't get over all the talented people in my life. Really. There are many.)

The day I got about ten e-mails all at once from Australia with names attached who I thought I might never ever see again, I was reading through smiling, giggling and so thankful that the Aussie life I left behind was found again. It's not easy to be a very awkward girl in the 10th grade, told that you'll be moving across the ocean in a few weeks and will have to get used to a whole new set of friends and lifestyle. It was terrifying. It made me feel the way math does.

When our family moved to the States, I had no idea what to expect. Born in California and whisked away to Sydney at five years old, I did all the formative stuff in Oz. The idea of American high school repulsed me at the time and I seriously didn't know if the first day at school would involve a gunfight or everyone bursting out into song and dance. Would it be 'Grease' or 'The Warriors'? There was really no way to know until I walked through the quad for the first time with my head down and bottom lip trembling. I had just become comfortable (as much as I could be; I had zero confidence) and now we were moving? To America? Where people shoot each other from their cars?

Everything turned out alright, but that first year was brutal. That first day, San Rafael high was the polar opposite of Mosman. Everyone could've been a giraffe for all I knew. I spent a good portion of that time being homesick and afraid. I missed Sydney so much that something like hearing INXS on the radio would put a lump in my throat and INXS have never been my favorite to begin with. I was obsessed with the mailbox. Letters from friends filled with party stories came the first few months and then disappeared as they grew taller, a little older and busy. It happens. To tell you the truth, I wasn't a dazzler in the letter writing department myself. I developed a few bravado tactics in the form of eccentricities in order to have a 'personality' to try to offset my volcanic acne and frizzy hair which looked like an electrified poodle at best. (As far as my clothes, on most days I looked like I was dressed by a seeing-eye monkey.) I decided that my 'thing' would be to carry a briefcase. Then I was just That Weird Australian Girl With the Briefcase. I made friends with exchange students and flew under the radar. I learned a lot about holiday customs from around the world.

The 12th grade was a lot easier, making friends with art and drama nerds. It was the first time in ages that I felt comfortable and that I had something in common with anyone. I ditched the briefcase, stopped pining so much for the smell of salt water breezes and opened up my mind to allowing people to get close. I still had no confidence, but that life-long battle wouldn't be won until my late 20's.

This past weekend I went to my 20th high school reunion in San Francisco. Along with the Mosman crowd, I've been lucky enough to get back in contact with my weirdos from Marin County. And I mean that with such affection and love it's not even funny. Quite a few people didn't know who I was at first. Some remembered, but the difference is that I didn't try to hide my face behind my hair. I smiled big and felt fabulous. It was a good night for both my hair and skin - which are now soft and clear these days. I danced barefoot with my best girlfriend Maria (who I'm back in touch with for good this time) and stayed at Mark and Nysa's house; a place straight out of Dwell magazine except not intimidating. Paige their six year-old daughter entertained us. She's the coolest six year-old I've ever met. (I'm not even kidding. I begged Mark and Nysa if I could be Paige's Sirius Black) Joining us were Scott (who lives here and builds tiny robots - he's also the biggest Tubes fan in the world) and Anne (the lovely Oregonian he married.) We laughed, we lounged, and enjoyed one of the most stress-free two days I've had in years. It was definitely a most perfect weekend etched in the brain.

As we were driving to the actual reunion racing across the Golden Gate bridge, the final sun made everything look like that happy, sultry California 1970's lighting. The visual equivalent of any Eagles song. I thought about that miserable first day of school in the States and it hit me that San Francisco and Sydney are actually official Sister Cities.

The journey through adolescence was pure hell, but I was very lucky. Oh boy, do I know this now more than ever. I had it great. An opportunity to live in two countries? In two of the most beautiful cities on the entire planet? Come on. I know. My selfish teen aged head just didn't know it at the time. Here I was in a limousine sipping champagne with people who loved me warts and all back then, and who still love me now.

I'm just so glad I got rid of that fucking briefcase.


Trainspotting: The Cereal

If theres one thing that's absolutely true, it's that all frogs love heroin! Need proof?

1. The word 'SMACK' with a spoon next to it.

2. The picture of the cereal itself is partially obscured by the net weight info (so you know just how much smack is in the box, I guess.)

3. Is the cartoon frog standing in front of a red brick wall? The kind of red brick wall found in an alley? An alley where people might do smack?

4. I can't find the word 'Honey' which is supposed to come before the word 'Smacks' anywhere, clearly making this a box of convenient pre-weighed black tar heroin.

5. Hurry kids! while supplies last!


Friday, September 14, 2007

Certainly Not The End...

(L to R: Livia Scott, Elizabeth Biz Ellis, Reggan Holland, Becky Poole)

When ever I hear people speak about MEAT, it's always with a giant dollop of awe and a whole lot of respect. When you look at their individual backgrounds, it's clear that MEAT is really some kind of comedy Justice League. Their influences are similar, but somewhat different and because they have such presence alone and together as a group - it works any way you slice it. And the individual talents are staggering. You've got Biz, the New York Southern Belle with the fastest quick-draw wit this side of the Rio Grande and a laugh like Christmas. Becky, who is in a duo (Becky and Noelle) and a band (Stickerbook). She plays the accordion and the saw to perfection; to see her play the saw dressed as an elephant is beyond precious. Reggan is the resident London trained Shakespeare chick with a killer voice (smooth as silk) and killer timing. Livia is the woman with a thousand faces, voices, ideas and gifts. (I'm trying to work it out so that I can have Cynthia Falconcrest on speed-dial - it would still be Livia's number, but maybe we can get a special ring or something so that Liv knows how to answer the phone: "WHAT!")

I remember when I first saw MEAT.

I nearly literally ran into them. It was on the street in Portland. Let me go back a bit.

When Ted and Andy B. from The 3rd Floor decided to start a Portland Sketchfest (after we'd been to Seattle - the Godfather of Sketchfests - and Chicago) they threw down a few ground rules:

1. Invitation only.
2. All groups had to be good - really good.
3. We have to had seen you perform live.

A list was put together for the first Portland fest, and it was sketch comedy god Brandon Campbell who came up with a suggestion to fill the last empty spot. "You guys should get MEAT. They're phenomenal and exactly what you're looking for." Ted was apprehensive at first having not seen anything they'd done, but Brandon was persistent. "Trust me. You will love MEAT". With that, Ted booked them blind.

Fast forward to the night of the Sketchfest kick off (held at a local karaoke bar.) I was walking around the corner when I spotted four women striding across the street toward me. Because of their site, I knew who they were, but even if I didn't know this - how could they be anyone else? There was Biz (in cowboy hat), Reggan, Livia and Becky, tank-topped out almost strutting across the road like a prettier, funnier Rolling Stones. I spoke: "Are you MEAT?" All of a sudden - there on the crosswalk for all of NW Davis Avenue to see, enthusiastic hugs attacked me from four sides. I was in the middle of a MEAT sandwich on this balmy evening and I was instantly surprised and giggly. "Follow me!" We spent the evening being loud in a karaoke bar with a room full of other sketch comics which was at that moment The Most Obnoxious Bar In Portland. It was a great time.

I remember when I first saw MEAT perform.

A night later, I sat down in a sold out house and watched a show that by the end made me feel like I had just gone on Space Mountain. Never up until then had I seen performers so tight, in sync and writing so solid. So smart. It also only dawned on me only later that I was watching four women perform. There were no jokes about diets, cramps, eating ice-cream during a break-up or shoe shopping. Not once did they play a secretary and I never got a vibe of "men bad women good". I was instantly, instantly in love...and also envious. Ooooh! Envy! How I wished I had written "Evil British School Children" or "The Classy Abuser". Their "She Lac" sketch practically put me in traction. My face hurt at the end.

I have learned so much from these women.

Seeing them that first time and every time since, I've realised how it can be for women in comedy. After that first taste, the only thing I wanted to do was go home and write nothing but characters. I still get inspired every time I talk to them and because they said yes to the invitation to come to Portland - my life is better. I have some really great girlfriends (for once, sorry Guys) and I can tell them anything. It is for them I've coined the word 'hot-larious'.

After seven years together, MEAT is going to be performing their last official show this Saturday night at the People's Improv Theatre in New York. I'm not the only one who wishes she could be there by a long shot; the fans among the friends of MEAT are many, and we're all over the map. There are legions and chapters devoted to these New York ladies.

But this is not goodbye.

These amazing comics, musicians, writers and actors will be performing in all kinds of combos and doing all kinds of projects - just not the four of them together for a while.

I (and I know many others) would just like MEAT to know how much they've meant to us.

So quite simply, thank you MEAT.
I love you.
We all do.

Everyone You Know.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My look alike experience

So Jordi's post on her celebrity look alikes inspried me to go and seek out my own look alikes.
So here is the first place I tried.

I don't look anything like these people. Are you serious?

I like that in the results section they make the joke "Hope you are the btter looking one!"
Well, I'm not. I probably wouldn't be against celebrities.
Thanks for crushing me Look Alike!

So then I tried another one. Upon clicking the link I was taken to this website where a request to "push the fart button" outweighed the look alike search info.

FYI...I pressed the fart button, mainly because I am not above it, adn it did not fart. It instead took me to a website that promised hilarity by adding a joke button to my website.
So then i went to the number one google site for celebrity look alike matching and here were my results.
James Spade was a give...not flattering, but a given.
Wu Yi? OK.
Guy with glasses....big surprise.
But William Shatner? Really? He doesn't even have glasses. Maybe everybody gets Shatner.
Over all this was a bust for me and possibly a major hint that it's time for a makeover.
I believe I will now go and try to find out what type of cocktail I am.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I got your back Jordi

I too hope that Brit pulls it together. Perhaps not pulling it together on the VMA's wasn't the best "next step" for her, but there you go.

Good luck to you Brittany. You come back when and if you are ready to. You can't fuck up those kids any more than your parents did you. Just keep them out of the entertainment industry and they'll be fine!

Now enjoy this hilarious PSA with a new voice over.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Defending the Great and Powerful Spears

I currently have the Britney Spears hit "Baby One More Time" stuck in my head. It's a really good song. It's a really great song actually.

The rhythm is tailor-made for slow snaky swivelly hip moves - not that epileptic attack that attention depraved Shakira tries to cram down the throat of our eyes every time she's on camera ("Hey! Hey guys! Look at me! I'm shaking my hips! LOOK AT ME! I HAVE HIPS!").

Oh I hear you..."What about Britney? Isn't she the biggest attention whore of all?" Not really actually; there's a difference. Shakira I could care less about, but Britney? We've shared so much together and you try growing up surrounded by wolves with only your little red hoodie as a shield.

Why I'm writing this is because whenever I used to have this song stuck in my head (usually during mundane filing tasks...which is what I'm supposed to be doing), I'd picture the video - and you know what the video looks like. It's the one that launched a thousand atomic clocks counting down to Britney's 18th birthday featuring a choreographed dance number in a Catholic school hallway. It was cute, sexy, adorable, cheeky and most importantly - it wasn't just set decoration trying to hide a shitty song. The song stood out. The song is good!

Just now, there I was filing away humming it in my head when it struck me that the only thing I can picture these days is Britney drunk at her house, alone and putting on a show for her living room furniture in the dark. I pictured her running through past routines and falling over a chair. Her wig falls off. It's very sad.

I really hope that she is able to come back in a big way and I mean that.

The cynic, record snob and hater of celebrity gossip in me would chalk this up to "Not my problem" a few years ago, but once you get past a certain point in your thirties, you just want to see people doing well. I especially want to see women doing well; especially the ones who had something sweet and light within them until they were raped out of a childhood. Thanks Disney.

Sure, she has dug her own bed and now she has to make her own home in the mud-hut and she should be kissing the statue of Walt guarding the entrance to Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Anaheim, but as I think of what I did in my twenties it scares me. No - terrifies me. The horrible decisions, poor judgement and lack of 'common sense' which I considered extremely glamorous were (at times) moments when I escaped serious danger by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. I would answer a breezy: "Sure, why not?" to any suggestion (no matter how cringe-inducing) which is exactly what every doomed person says before they die or lose an arm in any 1960's education film short with titles like "Shake Hands with Danger!" and "Don't Do That!".

I think Britney is a "Sure why not?" girl. And I think that's okay; she should be given a chance to escape her twenties knowing that when she gets into her thirties, she may end up doing her best work yet with redefined confidence and a smarter set of guidelines for herself. Just adding a decade to your age is an amazing thing and can do wonders. Wonders!

She'll fall a few more times. She might decide to buy a frilled-necked lizard thinking how exotic that would be and then regret it the minute she realises that she can't walk past the kitchen without it lunging at her from the chair it never leaves, mouth agape and hissing. She may be squandering her "Onyx Hotel Tour" cash right now on two million cases of pudding to make Pudding Town. She might take a few more frat boys home and hang upside down from a Chateau Marmont balcony but I have a feeling that she'll pull through it all.

Some of these will be: "That was fun and I don't regret doing that" and others will be: "What was I thinking?" Everyone has experienced both, but not in front of the whole world. I used to see the giant neon sign pointing every time to the thing that wasn't good for me, but that didn't stop me from running toward the impulse decision, arms outstretched knowing full well that I would pay for it later. Britney's not stupid. She sang herself: "I'm addicted to you / Don't you know that you're toxic?". She knows what's happening. All I can say is, I'm glad The World didn't see me the night I shaved off my eyebrows.

What about 'the kids'? I know Britney has kids, but please. Please. I was born in 1968. My dad was in advertising at its most debauched period. I have stood next to other five year-olds in 1973 past 10PM, while we watched our dads jump from the roof into the swimming pool, holding tumblers of whiskey and shouting "Geronimo!" Britney has made some outright stupid decisions regarding their safety, but maybe one day they will look back on it like we kids of the 70's look back on the days when the car seat belt was a parents' arm suddenly stretching out in front of us while they said (cigarette dangling from the mouth): "Hold on, honey. Sorry about the ash!"

Britney has screwed up and I think she needs to be forgiven. I screwed up a lot. I still screw up with the simplest concepts all the time (i.e. turning a load of whites bright pink just by adding a red dress). My husband Ted calls me Monkey. For the longest time I thought it was a sweet term of endearment, but I'm seriously starting to wonder if it's because my thought process sometimes resembles that of a real live chimp. My guesswork and estimating skills pertaining to math, bills , how money works, how logic works, knowing to not touch the still broken off part of a light bulb when it's in the live socket is as reliable as one of Ellie May Clampett's pies tasting like poo. I'm sure she has sent Jethro to the hospital a few times.

I find great comfort in that I don't do the big screw-ups anymore. I don't skip through the worst neighborhood in San Francisco waving sweetly at the hard-core heroin addicts on my way to the 24-hour Double Rainbow ice cream shop at 3AM. I don't stop in the alley to tell them: "I was going there anyway, so what's your poison? You look like a mint-chip kind of people". No sir, I haven't done that in years.

Britney will never read this but there's going to be a day when she'll Hit Us Baby One More Time and she'll thrive. She will turn thirty, and start the ass-kicking again. She will get to toss her knit cap in the air and "make it after all".

And just so you know, I'll be there to watch her catch it. And I'll be cheering on the sidelines in my fucked-up laundered pink clothes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Uh oh...

Somebody is angry about Truthiness.