Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grabbing the Bull by the Horn


Whilst I have no clue whatsoever as to the etymology of referring to a telephone as a “horn”, I seem to have been a tin-eared elk honking like an out-of- tune saxophonist this past week...

“This call will be recorded for quality control purposes” the mechanical voice properly officiously informed me as I dialed a utility company with a simple question.

“Yeah, God willing”, I accidentally sighed out loud.

“OK.  Got it.  I’ll transfer you to billing.”

“Wait, wait, wait; NOOO!

Crap...  Welcome to thirty minutes of pressing buttons on the “horn”...

Are there really no more living, breathing human beings available to pick up the phone except out-sourced companies that leave you on hold with Muzak and then transfer you to another country?


In a worthy attempt to keep my expenses down, but craving some beef, I purchased a bacon cheeseburger at a local mini-mart from their refrigerated section and wagged home the chilly cow.

YAY!  Time for a tasty lunch, yes?!

“Insert burger into store microwave and press #3”.


“Customer satisfaction is guaranteed!” the label read all happily, with an 800 number for my requisite ‘customer satisfaction’.  (Cue more Muzak.)

“Hi.  I bought a bacon cheeseburger from your company, but didn’t cook it in the store.  Can you help me with approximately how much time I should nuke it as to the equivalence of whatever is #3?”

“Oh, I don’t have that kind of specific specs maam. But thank you for calling, and have a great day!”

Are you kidding me???  Yeah, let’s just wing it with E.coli!!!


Still feeling a bit bullied by my on-line Tech Support, I frowned at my computer which was encouraging me to follow seven steps of uploading/downloading (I don’t understand the difference) for technological blah, blah, blah...  (No thanks to my nephew Austin, who is an absolute genius, but is currently waaay too busy being a teenager to help me.  Rebellion.  Got it.)

So, sometimes you just have to take the bull by both horns.

Sending a seriously crabby email (this One Red Cent was in her own rebellious mood); I asked just what the heck I was paying for. 

I’ve seen the little window pop up, and I know that they have the remarkable ability to access my poot remotely!  So, why should I have to sit through all of their idiotic procedures for a program that I never wanted in the first place?

“You’re going to have to allow me remote control, and the current queue is 70 minutes long.”

And pawing at the ground like a bull, I stood my ground, ever at the ready.

“Thank you” I typed, most kindly.




Lastly, aroused during a pleasant mid-day catnap, I awoke to yet another mechanical voice on my landline from my telephone/computer service jarring me into calling their 800 number lest my account catastrophically collapse. 


“Hi and hello, I paid my bill the day after I received it in the mail” I explained truthfully to ‘Ethan’, who tappety-tap-tapped on his computer during the majority of our conversation.  ”Yes, I received your email a week ago identifying my usual monthly bill” I continued, “but I write actual checks to pay my bills.”

And baffled by a dinosaur such as myself, Ethan continued on with his scripted dialogue...

“So, just to be clear, may we use your cell phone to send you text alerts when upgrades are available?”

“Absolutely not” I replied, feeling very much like a bull about to tear down the streets of Pamplona and gore him long distance in the belly.

(Hey, I’m an Actor by trade, and I respect the written script handed to me, but sometimes you need to be aware when your fellow Actor in a scene has fallen off the same page.)

“Sooo, you really DON’T want to be contacted in advance by any form of social media?” simple, stupid well-meaning Ethan sat ever-so confused, confounded that not everything in the world must be handled with whack-a-doodle technology.

(Feel free to insert some sort of rolling eyes emoticon here.)


And just when I thought I’d finally tackled the bull by the horns...


Yes, kind readers, a fax machine is now apparently in love with my cell phone and calls the private number five times a minute every morning with cheery beeps.  (Good grief...)

Maybe some days, we’re all snuffed by the bull?

Unplugging everything for a few hours, but always hopeful for a better tomorrow!



Monday, July 27, 2015

Maybe I Need to Cut My Bangs?

In my twenty-five-ish years of working in Hollywood (mostly behind the scenes, but occasionally blissfully in front of my multi-camera Sit-Coms), I consider myself TRULY blessed that I can count on one hand the amount of people in The Industry with whom I’ve personally clashed.  (Seriously, I’m a delight, and I’m brilliant at my job!)
Yes, egos are to be anticipated in my business from various Actors, Actresses and Directors; but with gentle hands and kind comments, a vast group of them are actually rather manageable. (I often envision a herd of fragile lambs/goats that just need to be carefully wrangled by a friendly sheepdog.)  But seriously, sometimes a simple “you look so gorgeous!” comment will get one of the Cast members out of their mental space and back into the show.
I’ve also found that occasionally offering “do you need to run lines?” is an excellent kicker that either makes them slightly annoyed/motivated as Professionals who insist that they artfully know their craft, and/or are extraordinarily grateful for the personal attention depending upon their individual psychopathy.  (I told you, I’m brilliant at my job.)

Of course, sure, you’re going to get your fair share of the occasional Divas who demand that no one looks Her Majesty in the eye (I won’t type her name here, but I “worked with” one lady who put me through a special kind of Hell back in the nineties), or the Nazi-esque Director who makes it his douche-bag macho priority to try to make every single crew member weep and feel incompetent...  (There’s literally one Director in Tinsel Town whom I’ve “worked with”, and to this day, upon simply hearing his name, I immediately develop a Pavlovian rash on my arm.  No joke.  And yes, he berated me and a MALE friend on-camera and made us BOTH cry...)   
Yet as I’m actively searching for a fall TV show, I’m grateful for any leads to assist me in acquiring a new job, and I find myself daily busy at following up on any info.

But learning that one of the other five people that I seriously clashed with has a multi-cam show coming up, I needed to take some personal inventory...
Yes, obviously I need to work again, if only to keep my health insurance and continue to accrue my future pension...  And yes, we “mostly” parted on “civil” terms, but I still think he’s contemptuous, ridiculously tyrannical and completely incompetent; a control freak who believes in the “straight eight” hours of work with no overtime, whether or not we were needed.  (Can somebody loan me a sheepdog?  Or maybe a Pit Bull Viper?)

Perhaps I’m speaking out of turn in my lowly position as a Stand-In, but does it take an Einstein to rationalize that you ought to allow your veteran Crew bathroom breaks (at least ONCE), during six hours of camera-blocking before lunch?  Hello?  Our Cameramen were all in their sixties!  Could he not possibly schedule five minutes for their bladders?  Do you really want to “piss off” a Prostate Militia?
Additionally, I found out later (after he had been let go quietly and I received a hand-written “Thank You” check from my Actress), that this man illegally screwed me out of money for legitimate work performed.  Granted, it was only around $125.00, but still, really???  It’s not like I could afford an Attorney to recoup my losses, but hey, that still would’ve paid a few bills!  (Welcome to the dark underbelly of Hollywood.)

Regardless, hearing that this idiotic tool has a show, I contemplated sending an email to let him know that I’m available...  But the more I thought about it all, the less my desire to make contact.  I saved his @ss every single day running interference between him and our extremely high-maintenance lead Actress (which made him seem brilliant at handling her to the Producers), but you know what?  He doesn’t deserve my unique talents!  Maybe it’s the menopause, but I sweat enough for one person – I’m too old now, to sweat it for two!

Learning that my favorite UPM is producing a show later this fall (it’s generally not acceptable for someone in my position to contact a UPM – Stand-Ins are kind of like vampires:  we have to be invited in), I contemplated sending that email too. 
But as he and I sort of ‘grew up’ in the business together, of course I could reach out to him.  Unfortunately, with info from a separate insider, the show will be shot single camera – a format with which I’m painfully unfamiliar.  (Sooo, after twenty-five years, I’d be the rookie?  Old dog, new tricks?  I guess anything is possible!)

Meanwhile, keeping my sheepdog eyes open to everything in the realm of the possible and dealing with some computer snafus, I contacted the Geek Squad, who sits ever at the ready to assist me as my online Tech Support.

But notified that my plan is about to expire in a few days, I logged on to chat with an Agent as to billing questions, updates and all manner of hoopla that I really don’t understand.  What’s “Webroot?  Why can’t I just renew Tech Support?  If I already have Norton Anti-Virus, why do I need your security plan?”  (Geez, how many condoms does the World Wide Web need to put on its ‘laptop dance’ for a computer that I don’t even use every day?)  And almost as if to prove me right in my sheepdog awareness, I found myself linked to the dumbest Geek Squad member whatever lived...
“I can’t help you with your billing questions, but feel free to call this toll-free number listed below, 24/7.”

Umm, hello?   
Yeah, there’s no “hello” unless you’re phoning the great state of Kentucky between 8am and 7:30pm CST.

Meanwhile, I’m still choosing to remain optimistic for a fall show!

Granted, my faith in The Universe (and the human race) has been a bit shaky of late, but receiving an extremely apologetic email the next day from “Agent Philip F, Covert Quality Assurance Agent/Geek Squad Covert Operations Online Support/ PC In-Home Support”, (does all of that title even fit on his business card?) who explained everything to my satisfaction in simple terms, I’ve agreed to renew my membership with them.  Technically (HA!), I can’t afford it, but since too much of my work info is haphazardly strewn about the Internet, I can’t afford NOT to keep Tech Support on the poot.
And just like that, credit card in hand, I found myself as the fragile lamb/goat (it's all ovine to me) that needed to be herded by a friendly sheepdog.  (I didn’t see that coming!)

Additionally, as I took a much needed walk in my neighborhood to soak up some sunshine after a few nights of actual thunder storms (Yikes! The weather blew out my landline for a couple of hours!), I stopped at my local 7/Eleven for a container of heart-healthy mixed fruit and a big ole’ honkin’ fudge brownie.   (Some days, even when you’re unemployed, you can scrounge up the money for, and really just REQUIRE, a big ole’ honkin’ fudge brownie!)
But best of all for the day, collecting my snail mail as I came home, I noticed an envelope from the SAG/AFTRA Department of Residuals...

Yes, kind readers, by someone’s internet rental, I received my very first residual check for smashing my teen idol’s dreamboat face on-camera with a chocolate cream pie!!! 
Hold your breath...

Twelve dollars and ONE RED CENT!  (Well..., before taxes.)
Living the dream!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Cent-a-Mental" Thoughts about Trying to Make Sense

Scrounging around the bat-cave and unearthing a few years old two “Santa 39 cent stamps”, I slapped both of them on my Unemployment form and sent the irony to EDD. 
But watching a commercial (I think it’s for a toilet bowl cleaner), apparently everything is now technologically available with a click.

Ergo, Spock-logically, I clicked on USPS to purchase stamps!
Yes, the lilies are lovely, and I’d like to purchase two sheets.

“Your credit card has been processed, and your stamps will arrive within five to seven days.”

Wait, what?
“Additionally, your credit card will be charged for postage of us mailing them to you.”

What the heck kind of scam is THAT?  I can mail a letter and have it arrive in three days anywhere in the United States, but the USPS takes its own sweet time?  Well, gee, sorry, but that’s just stupid...  And tacking on postage for mailing me stamps?
Can someone please help me make sense of this?

Next scenario:

“We need you to move your car for tree trimming between 2pm and 3pm” one of my Landlords alerted me. 
“No problem!” I kindly replied thankfully in a text to one of my Landlords the night before.  “I think my car is being eaten by the overgrown bougainvillea since I haven’t been working!” I emphasized with all due gratuity.

“Remember, you have to move your car” another Landlord reminded me at 11:30am the day of.
“Yeah.  Got it.  But it’s not even noon...”

(Geez, enough, already!)
And maneuvering Cecilia (my Toyota) into one of their parking spots (the Landlords have now absconded with three out of five places - although I’m not convinced that the dorky miniature circus car deserves a whole spot), I left Cecilia in one of their empty places for two and a half hours and then politely moved her back into her designated spot.

“Good job moving your car!” one of my Landlords applauded me as we happened upon each other.
(What am I, five?  Do I get a gold star on my report card?)

Meanwhile, with his deceased Dad’s dog (“Keifer”) on a leash in our recently strictly designated “NO PETS ALLOWED” building, I patted the poor little white fur ball that seemed desperate for attention, a chin scratch and a double ear rub.  
(Sooo, I can’t adopt a kitty from a rescue shelter, but you can trot out the pup?)

How does this make sense?

Additionally I’m having issues with Vladimir (my monster bed).  Whilst it’s spectacular that I can elevate my head to assist my allergies and hit the vibrate button to help unclog my sinuses, somehow I keep ending up scuttled down to the lower half of the end of the mattress, and spend hours trying to claw up Mt. Everest to get back to a pillow.
And doesn’t a pillow have but one function?  “Memory foam”’?  How about a pillow that “remembers” it should simply be fluffy?

Concordantly, with respect to the new apartment regulations, I’ve complacently turned down the volume of my comforting television at midnight so as not to disturb anyone.

Yet my upstairs neighbor trots around happily at all hours.  Is he moving furniture?  Is he working on his Arthur Murray tango lessons?  Who moves around that much at three in the morning?  I’m not antagonistic, yet what is he DOING up there?
Again, I can’t make sense, but I’ll not be the billy goat gruff knocking on that door...

(It’s no wonder that I’m an insomniac.  And yes, some nights, I just lie there quietly and wait for Mr. Happy Feet to crash through the ceiling joist and smash me like a Wile E. Coyote “Acme” anvil...)

Lastly, as I’m trying to take care of my health, I’m devoted to the consumption of my daily vitamins.
But can someone please explain to me why “One A Day” multi-vitamins say the proper dosage is to take TWO pills?  You’re called One A Day”!

Perhaps I’ll never make sense of the world...

Recently, the Landlords left a note on my stoop:  “Water will be shut off from 11am to 1pm.  Sorry for the inconvenience” on a day when I was experiencing some rather unpleasant tummy trouble. 
Excellent!  (Seriously, has no one yet developed a “sarcasm” font?)

Forever befuddled,