And the bird has the last word


Thanks to a Face book thread, I had interesting subject matter for my video project today. Wednesday seems to be the once a week day that I have assigned myself to take my camera and keep up my documentary shooting chops. Please listen with headphones.

This video was shot at Redwood Park, Sue Biermann Park and the deliciously ambient, cavernous Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, California.

Dear SEO Pros

Please stop trying to sell me your services to promote this blog. I have been doing publicity for so long that I remember having to hand deliver press releases for theater productions because some publications would not accept faxes or email. I do not believe that you can get me word of mouth.

It is not rocket science that there is more than one Sylvia Toy trying to get exposure on the Web. The reason the first page in a Google search of “Sylvia Toy” only pulls up references to me and my content is because a few years ago, I devoted an hour and a half every day for about six weeks creating solid content, connecting my Facebook, Vimeo and LinkedIn so that they would automatically tweet and tumble, and building up my YouTube page with informative, interesting descriptions of every single one of my videos, as well as putting them into meaningful playlists. In about 6 or 8 months, I was a YouTube partner.

I am a professional artist and previously, I have been a professional artist with solid track records in visual art and also in theater. I am not a professional blogger. People who watch my videos do not care what I write, for the most part. A few artists find my articles about acting, etc., interesting. That’s about it.

This blog is never going to attract the kind of traffic that my videos do. I am not going to get into any business relationship to make something happen that cannot happen. I am almost 63 years old. I have counted the take at the door many a night after a show in a theater. I have haggled with patrons over the price of my art. And I can very ably read the stats on my Vimeo and YouTube pages. This blog is never going to match those stats.

Thanks for your attention.


What I learned in (spite of) college

Sylvia Toy -The Blue Lady DAWN-Prologue 3

Elizabeth, The Blue Lady

I have been taking care of my sick husband and my sick self for over a week – first his version of the virus and then mine 5 days later. During the days that it has been all over by the time I took a bath, I have been working on my web presence – that includes my LinkedIn page, from which I think I finally deleted any trace of “paralegal.” I even made a pdf of theater notices for 5 or six of my plays and uploaded it.

Sylvia Toy -The Blue Lady ANCESTOR MONOLOGUE 3 Ⓒ2013 2

Blue, The Blue Lady

I’ve been working on it ever since the beginning of March or so, when the improve-your-profile feature asked me what my activities at the University of Nebraska. Even though I was an art major, I was involved in theater most of the endless years that I was plugging my nose to get that piece of paper. Except for the history, French and Spanish I took, all I learned that turned out to be useful for me was theater – oh, and hanging out in the Anthro department half my time as an undergraduate on campus, even though I only took one Anthro class (freshman year).

Sylvia Toy USA 2013 - Lucy The First Human 3

Lucy, The First Human

So never having filled out my “activities” before, I was surprised how substantial my theater experience in college was – acting, makeup, costume, directing, producing. I am so damn pragmatic and pessimistic about the inevitable dayjob, that it never occurred to me that in my last career, I would continually be falling back on what I learned “on the student job” when I was 22. Not only that, because I worked so hard to keep my French and Spanish, it has benefitted me in networking with other video and moving picture artists. And my French and Spanish are still good enough that I am able to also read Italian a little better every day.

Sylvia Toy as The Doctor in TYFTB

The Psychiatrist, TYFTB (thank you from the bottom)

All photo, costume & makeup credits: Sylvia Toy

What should I be doing?


Today, down for the count due to a virus, I spent this morning doing SEO and stats analysis. This afternoon, I am wondering whether I should have found some way to make my eBook, Writing While Manic, a video instead of a book. I’m not nearly the most viral artist on the Web and I never expected to be, but clearly, my writer is lagging way behind my moving picture artist.


Book - Writing While Manic: Amazon Best Sellers Rank, #1,031,006 Paid in Kindle Store,
Blog – Do You Want to Buy My Brain: 5,941 pageviews (mostly spam) (2008-2013)

Vlog - My Favorite Walls Are in San Francisco: 7,169 pageviews (2011-2013)
Vlog - Sylvia Toy on Vimeo: 288,392 loads/25,585 plays (2010-now)
Vlog – Sylvia Toy on YouTube: 7,810 plays (2012-now)

Yesterday, I received a gift. A woman joined Vimeo yesterday and liked this video.

The only activity on her page is that “like,” so I cannot tell you how honored I feel. This morning, I was on an artists’ group page on LinkedIn, reading responses to the question, “This question repeatedly shows up in art groups on LinkedIn: ‘What is your definition of art?’” I stay out of the fray because it’s amazing what a brawl artists often get into on LinkedIn.

I “liked” this response: ‘I would define art as: Works (music, visual, performance) that stir the mind and the spirit to consider the tangible and intangibles of life from another’s perspective.’

Then I saw this one – “[A]rt is the only way out of suffocation” – and it occurred to me that misunderstandings probably are one of the reasons brawls begin. The former is an outer look on the question and the latter is an inner perspective.

I think both are valid, but I get my satisfaction from stirring the mind and spirit of others. And that’s what I should be doing.


Blogging The Blue Lady: Prologue, the beginning of a long sad day

Sylvia Toy -The Blue Lady DAWN-Prologue 3In the 1820′s, it was a capital offense in South Carolina for slaves to know how to read. As a child, LaLi, unbeknownst to the Master, was taught to read and write by the Master’s 7 year old daughter. When the Master found out, he began beating LaLi; a few years later, he was regularly raping her. Right before dawn, LaLi wakes and opens her stash of charcoal, surreptitiously harvested from the kitchen hearth. These are opening scenes happening in the morning of the long day during which this story takes place. The Blue Lady is a story is about what happened the night Master died and the relationship between two slaves in 1830 South Carolina, LaLi, Elizabeth, and The Master’s wife, their mistress, Missy. This is a revisionist tale about slavery from a female point of view about how three people with a blood connection – The Master, The Master’s & LaLi’s mulatto son, and Blue, the mother of their grandchildren – wound up dead in the space of a night. At least one of the dead, Blue, was murdered. The Blue Lady finally is the story of how guilt was assigned that night without anyone taking responsibility.

Writing While Manic: What will you be thinking about on your deathbed ?


Diary entry, April 7, 2014.

When I was younger and had a longer attention span for romanticism (probably because I had time on my hands due to thinking more about being an artist than actually making art), I planned my death, which I imagined would be on my 82nd birthday. I would be wearing a beautiful nightgown in a canopy bed under a spotless white chenille bedspread, while eating a piece of sour cream triple chocolate birthday cake in a room with old-fashioned embossed wallpaper. Nowadays, I figure it will be more like my 90th year and I’ll drop dead making a movie, unless I’m lucky enough to die in bed, in which case I’ll be playing “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

My dayjob has been paralegal since 1980 when I got my certificate at the first ABA approved paralegal school in Philadelphia. That was a mistake – I probably should have been a hairdresser or a makeup artist. I was an undiagnosed but functioning mentally ill young person when I was 28. I knew I had a problem (that at that point and for 15 years afterwards) I was taking care of on my own. I wanted stability. I did not have the self confidence nor the maturity to create my own stability in a creative career. Considering the brain I was working with at the time, after being mad at my 28 year old self all this past winter I realize that I made the best decision that I could have made at the time. Not only did paralegalling pay for my art classes in New York, it later funded a theater company and now pays for video cameras, mics, awesome computers, etc.

It was cathartic and gave me closure to deal with my having chosen a career that has always felt awkward, though I really tried to fit in (impossible, really). But the other side of that is finally being aware of being openly ridiculed and made fun of when I walk up the street to my office building, usually wearing cowboy boots. The boots in this video are for when I want to feel special. (Cowboy boots, just so you know are great everyday shoes because something about the way they’re constructed forces you to stand up straighter.)

In the past, before I finally looked my 28 year old self in the eye and told her she made a serious mistake in her career choice, I was pretty oblivious to people laughing at the way I looked. But once you open your mind and accept that it does look strange to most people in the Financial District (even in San Francisco) for a middle-aged woman, probably especially a black one, to dress like I’m dressed in this video; and that they’re probably going to act just like they did in junior high school and laugh in your face even if they’re in their 50′s or 60′s, and they should think about their blood pressure, abdominal fat, their stress level, etc., instead.

And maybe they should also be thinking very seriously about how they’re going to die and what they’re going to think about. I am not going to be mad at myself (mostly, anyway) when I’m on my deathbed. I went after the things I wanted and I’m still doing them – no matter how stupid anyone thinks I look collecting footage to and from dayjob.

I was really angry this morning. I am glad I have such a creative, constructive way to deal with anger.