Bits 'n' Pieces: Promoting others brings Smith award

By Ashley Swanson and Ruth Zschomler

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Years of promoting others has led to big recognition for PR pro Katlin Smith.

Smith, 61, who owns UrbanWords Group, received the 2011 Vocational Service Award from the Rotary Club of Vancouver in October.

“I was wildly surprised with this wonderful award,” Smith said. “I see myself as a workhorse, plowing the field and doing the work that needs to be done. It was a lovely surprise.”

The award recognizes an individual in the community who exemplifies outstanding commitment to their business or profession, over a significant number of years, leaving a lasting positive influence on their vocational area and the community in general, and who reflects the values of Rotary.

Smith said she was especially happy that the new local Dining for Women Chapter she started in January was mentioned in her award presentation. In just 10 months, it has raised more than $10,000 for organizations empowering women and girls who live in dire poverty in developing countries.

Check out Smith’s blog at southwestwashingtonzest.com. It highlights her love for the region and the outdoors.

Keyboardist Swenson appears on ‘The Office’

Robin Swenson, 62, didn’t know he was auditioning for NBC’s comedy series “The Office” when he got a call out of the blue from a friend. Only when he was told he got the gig, three hours later, did he learn he even had a chance to perform as part of an episode of the comedy series.

Though Swenson has performed for other television shows, he was surprised to find out they’d be playing live.

“Anytime I’ve done a TV show before, you just act like you’re performing,” with the audio recorded at a separate time. Luckily, this made acting on the show easier. “I am a musician, and basically they just wanted a musician, so it wasn’t a stretch,” Swenson said.

In the episode, Swenson played Curtis, the musician friend of Robert California (James Spader), who joined Robert with other musicians for a jam session, much to the astonishment of Andy (Ed Helms), Darryl (Craig Robinson) and Kevin (Brian Baumgartner).

The group of musicians consisted of Swenson, as keyboardist and singer, guitarist Linda Taylor, “mad drummer” Steve Moore — best known for his YouTube videos — and Larry David Cohen, who played the blues harp off-screen. They performed the song “Midnight Rambler” by the Rolling Stones. Swenson was impressed by Spader’s intensity during the scene, that the actor “wanted to look like he was really playing the blues harp,” Swenson said. “He’s very focused, and intent on nailing his craft.”

A member of Columbia River High School Class of 1967, Swen­son has lived and worked in Los Angeles for the past 30 years with his wife, singer Janelle Sadler. Recently the two created a music video for the song “Nothin’ Stupid,” sung by Sadler and written by Swenson, which can be seen on Sadler’s website http://janellesadler.com.

The episode, titled “Pam’s Replacement,” aired Nov. 10 on NBC. The episode is available to watch online at http://hulu.com or http://nbc.com/the-office.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Ruth Zschomler, 360-735-4530, or email ruth.zschomler@columbian.com.