Archive for May, 2013

Half sheet brownies

By
May 31st, 2013



One of the hotels I work at had a fundraiser for Charity Walk. I offered to donate something. The night before, I baked a half sheet pan (18 x 13") of brownies.

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In the morning, I was talking to my friend Paul as I drove in. In answer to the common question What are you doing today? I responded, "We're having a bake sale, so I made a half sheet of brownies and I'm bringing it in now."

Which opened more than one question, apparently. Keep in mind he was at a field trip at the zoo, chaperoning three kindergartners, so he was distracted and couldn't hear me that well.

"A what?" he said.

"Bake sale," I answered.

Pause. "Are you guys doing that badly?" he asked.

Brownies and baggies! Dude! 4/20!

Brownies and baggies! Dude! 4/20!

"Ha ha ha. No, it's for Charity Walk," I clarified.

"What did you say you made?" he continued.

"Brownies."

"What kind of brownies?"

"Half sheet."

"What?"

"H a l f   s h e e t," I enunciated over the background din of of small children.

"Oh! I thought you said hashish," he laughed.

"No! HALF SHEET," I emphasized.

Hashish brownies. Sheesh. That is an entirely different kind of bake sale.

Hawaii Five-O: Episode 322

By
May 27th, 2013



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I'm in an episode of Hawaii Five-O. It's #322 and I play a newscaster. I feel very lucky and grateful for the chance.

Diane Ako as unnamed newscaster for Hawaii Five-O

Diane Ako as unnamed newscaster for Hawaii Five-O

It's a small part in which I am announcing some news on the TV and a character is watching it and reacts to it. So, I'm not actually with an actor in a scene.

They called me to audition, so I went in to their studio at the old Honolulu Advertiser building. It was very exciting as the cast and crew were having lunch at that time and I got to pass by Alex O'Loughlin.

The next day, they said I got the part and to return for wardrobing. They were shooting at the same building so I got to pass by Alex O'Loughlin again.

Wardrobing was interesting. They said to bring some favorite newscaster clothing for more options, but they also had a rack of clothing and high heels with a little divider and my name on it.

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I tried on half a dozen outfits. Then a seamstress came out and pinned up the final choices so that it would be absolutely perfect for my frame. She had 24 hours to sew it. What attention to detail!

When that was done, I was told to go to Casting and fill out my paperwork (W-9, etc.) It was very organized.

A couple days later, I returned to shoot the scene. It was an early morning crew call so that I could get hair and makeup.

Half made up

Half made up

I got to pass by Alex O'Loughlin a third time. I think by this time he probably had his TRO in anticipation of me.

Seriously, though. I never make a big deal. I just do the side-eye thing while I keep walking.

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Like last time I was on the show, I was given a trailer to myself to rest and change in. My name and the character's name was taped outside. It was very comfortable, even air conditioned. Woo hoo!

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Craft Services had the breakfast buffet going and there were five choices of menus and a variety of beverages. They totally do this thing right.

I was given my sides (teensy tiny copies of the script with my lines that I could easily and discreetly keep at my side.) I had already been given the script for the audition so I had it memorized, but I do like to have something to refer to.

It turns out my friend and former colleague Leslie Wilcox of PBS (formerly of KHON and KGMB) was hired to play a newscaster for a different episode. For efficiency, we were shooting our scenes the same day.

Leslie Wilcox & Diane Ako

Leslie Wilcox & Diane Ako

We both went into hair and makeup and had a nice time catching up and chatting. Then, a shuttle took all of us to the CBS affiliate, KGMB (part of Hawaii News Now's duopoly) to shoot it. As Hawaii Five-O is a CBS show, it's logical they would work with the CBS affiliate.

Hawaii News Now is comprised of KGMB and KHNL, the NBC affiliate. I worked for KHNL for 13 years. It was like going home.

I sat in the anchor desk, but in what used to be the man's position. When I was on air, my seat was stage right. Here, I was stage left.

Also, the set has been changed around a lot. Still, it really felt like putting on an old shoe.

You wouldn't know it to look at it on the TV, but there were three dozen people to shoot my scene. The hair, makeup, and wardrobe people buzz around and watch to make sure you look exactly the way they prepped you and that the necklace hasn't slid to the right, or the bangs haven't fallen into your eyes.

There is a script supervisor, production assistants, camera people, director, producer, writer. I had to memorize it exactly as it was written, which is totally different from news.

In news you memorize the concept of the message and you say it however which way you want as long as it is smooth. It never comes out the same twice.

I had no TelePrompter. I didn't expect one. I had to memorize it word-for-word and look straight into the camera and say it.

I said it maybe 20 times; I made a few mistakes, but mostly, the director was calling for different camera angles. In news it's also OK to look down at the script now and then. For this show, it was not.

In news, you have a script on the anchor desk. It's not just a prop. You really refer to your hardcopy - in the event the TelePrompter breaks down, or more commonly, so that you can jot down notes if the producer tells you there is breaking news. If there's breaking news, you have sometimes just seconds to write down what they're telling you and then say it on air.

I had three lines, and it was going well. The director and executive producer then came up to me and added on two more lines.

Luckily, my news training kicked in and I was able to memorize it exactly. The whole taping went very smoothly. I'm honored to have been trusted to absorb some last minute additions.

However, here is the funny part. I was getting kind of stressed out inside. I have this thing where I HAVE TO have the script in my hand. I NEVER went live without holding or having the script.

It was my security blanket. I always felt that if I blanked out I would at least have the paper to read. Sixteen years of this habit, OK?

They wanted to see a clean desk without clutter. They took away my script from the beginning. A person would walk up and remove the script and hold it, and give it back between takes.

Inside, I felt totally like the floor had fallen out from under me. This must be how Olivia feels when I encourage her not to suck her thumb at night.

I was anxious. I became more anxious when the extra lines were added.

My news training has conditioned me to not show fear. Calm exterior. When I laughed to the crew later that I had been freaking out, people said they couldn't tell.

Except the woman who was removing my script said she noticed that after a while, I would take the script before she could get to it, and place it under the desk next to me.

This is true. Stupid as it is, I felt better knowing that it was right next to me.

I know this is totally irrational. I can do a live shot without a script. I can speak extemporaneously just fine. I am facile with words and I can internalize the message and spit it back out easily.

Old habits are hard to break. I can laugh about it now that the taping is done and nothing went wrong.

When it was time for Leslie to tape her part, I went into the newsroom to visit old friends. Her taping went similarly to mine, so we were all done in a short amount of time.

That is it. We shuttled back to the base camp and I left with great memories of a really fun morning!

Posted in Career | 5 Comments »

Smart mommy

By
May 24th, 2013



Olivia insisted on wearing snow boots to school today. Claus bought them for her when he took them skiing last December. They look like Uggs - fleece lined, and way too hot for May in Hawaii.

She loves them. As soon as they got back from Utah last December, she wore them a handful of times to school, each time coming home telling me they were too hot by day's end. I had warned of such, but she always ignored.

I do not know why she can't remember this experience, or care when I remind her of it, but she's been trying all week to wear them again. Finally, I gave in.

"Have it your way. When I see you after school, don't complain how hot they were," I warned. "You should really just listen to me. I'm smart."

To test me, she actually quizzed me! Her exact response to me was, "What's 100 + 100?"

"Two hundred," I said.

"What's one million + one million?"

"Two million," I answered.

"What's one million + 200?" she continued.

"One million two hundred," I responded.

"Wrong! Twenty hundred one million!" she exclaimed gleefully.

I suppose I can't argue with that.

Tiger blood

By
May 22nd, 2013



Kids crack me up. Olivia's way of seeing the world or knowing about it is just funny.

At school, they had a year-end celebration in which a shave ice truck came out one day after classes. "It was so awesome! I wanted to bring some of my shave ice home for you to try but I couldn't because it would melt! Can you come next year so you can order yourself a shave ice? I want you to see how great it is!" she bubbled. That is very caring and sweet.

"Thanks for thinking about me, Dear," I said. "Tell me about your shave ice. What flavor did you have?"

"I had half banana, half strawberry, half vanilla, and a drop of tiger blood on top!" she described.

Every time she uses the word "half" it cracks me up because she doesn't get the concept of "half." We've tried to teach her all year but it's not sticking yet. So she uses it to mean "part."

The tiger blood threw me off. So she's Charlie Sheen now?

"What does tiger blood taste like," I asked.

"It's dark red like strawberry but better!" she told me.

Well. That sounds like WINNING! to me.

Licked

By
May 20th, 2013



Be very wary when a little kid wants to give you a gift. On the way to school, we pass a small patch of land that is a little neglected, thus grows wild with whatever seeds the birds drop.

It looks like it's kind of city property but I have learned it actually belongs to a house above it on the hill, whose owners don't seem to come tend it much. It's a sliver of land that abuts the sidewalk.

Don't get me wrong. It grows nice plants, just a little untended.

Wild cherry tomatoes are pretty popular in my neck of the woods. This plot of land lately has many square feet of thriving tomato plants, which have developed fruits.

Olivia stooped down to pick a nice red one this morning. "Want this, Mommy?" she offered.

I am not a huge tomato fan so I declined kindly. "Well, I'm going to give it to my teacher because I like her, then," she re-gifted. "Plus, I didn't even lick it!"

Awesome requisite for gift giving. The next time I give someone a gift, I'm going to have to let them know this present is made better by the fact that I did not even lick it.

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