Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do I Smell Cheddar?

Clad in a buttoned-up stark white coat, I walked amongst the human lab rats enthralled by their simplicity. Haphazard Christmas shoppers passed me unnoticed, purses unzipped, arms heavily loaded with holiday packages crying out to be swiped by any grifter who should happen to ‘accidentally’ bump into them – Oh, such easy targets!
But they were mere linear-thinkers, blind to my superior genius-ness and not surprisingly painfully oblivious to my master plan.
“Do you have any questions?” the blue-vested gentleman named Dave abruptly interrupted my scientific research.
“Why aren’t people smarter?” my enormous brain wondered judgmentally, clearly mounted atop one of my occasionally recurring High Horses (I have a whole stable for those of you new to my writing).
And reining in my chosen steed of the day “Einstein”, I struggled to grasp why anyone in their right mind would randomly wander through a store like a mouse in a maze in search of cheese, floundering handbag agape.
“Yes” I replied ever so smartly. “My parents would like to buy me an LED TV for Christmas.”
Floundering handbag agape, talked into purchasing additional cables for optimization of picture clarity in High Definition as well as a power surge bar, “free” cleaning cloths and a two year warranty; an embarrassed Einstein and I spent another hour at home idiotically bungling our way as to how to properly install the base with the doohickey thingy (you know, the twirly stick with the four pointy tips*), a couple bags of screws, a paper manual, reading glasses and a flashlight…
But declaring my newly constructed television set an iconoclastic asymmetrical eclectic piece of artistic brilliance with its daring post-modern angular base pointing East in a radical yet freshly poetic reinterpretation of Zen in an age of technological waste versus wonder, I gave my High Horse Einstein a metaphorical High Five.

(Hey, did you know that TVs these days swivel?)
“You’re Logitech wireless mouse batteries are critical” a less than threatening (to my genius-ness) warning bubble appeared on my computer screen, whilst I smugly emailed the above photo to my parents as a “Thank You” – categorical proof that my supremely empirical mind is as clever as ever (*although it didn’t happen to recall that the stick with the four pointy tips is called a Phillips Screwdriver.) (Thanks Dad!)
What I hadn’t anticipated however, was a complete lack of ability a couple days later to maneuver around the internet without a working external mouse…
Celebrating my 45th Birthday I looked forward to opening e-cards from family and friends, and ‘delicately’ sliding a finger across that intimidating silver panel on the laptop, I ended up accidentally shopping for Bounty paper towels.
(Innocent enough, but rather annoying.)
Making my way back to Yahoo, I glided towards an email from my niece, only to wind up having unintentionally double-tapped on an ad for Kotex and a free offer should I happen to be suffering from bladder leakage.
By the time I skated involuntarily onto ads three and four – “Meet Singles in Inglewood Who are Looking for YOU” (creepy!), and a “Pre-Approved Medical Prescription for Penile Enhancement” (double creepy!) I was done.
Whistling for Einstein, my High Horse and I trotted to the store for a pack of AA batteries only to discover that despite our combined massive cerebrums and brand new pack of batteries, the stupid wireless mouse still didn’t work.
However, such opportunities are mere fodder for astute problem-solving minds…
As I’d disconnected the Mother Ship Doodad with the three prongs that was connected to the computer that somehow allows the wireless gizmo to function, I logically plugging that external thingamajig back in, rebooted, clicked on “connect”, re-ran the software twice and allowing the laptop to shut down and restart itself while I randomly clicked on every prompt to “run” or “allow program” I was once again confident in my genius-ness ability to master the bastard technology!
But two hours later I sighed in defeat, my High Horse having retreated humbly to the stables, myself resigned to spend an eternity (or a day until I could get to an electronics store) randomly landing unintentionally on uninvited internet roll-over banners…  
Pills for Clinical Depression.
“Click here”
Pouring myself a Pity-Party of One cocktail, I poked disagreeably at the brain-dead Logitech mouse.
“Stupid contraption, stupid reset button, stupid battery container” I huffed as the back panel disengaged itself.
(Hey, did you know it apparently significantly matters which direction of the chamber you aim the + and sides of the batteries?)
Forfeiting my Nobel Prize for now!

Monday, December 20, 2010


“Ooh, it’s sooo verrrry nice to meet you!” I gushed unprofessionally, my sweaty palms shaking her hand far too long; my diligently repressed Ethel Mertz persona bubbling uncontrollably to the surface, horrifically betraying my starry-eyed gazing at a real live Movie Star making a special guest appearance on our TV show.
“Penny, let’s have you stand-in for the anorexic teen model in these three scenes until we get the other actress on Wednesday” our Director proposed, orchestrating the blocking wherein I would have the opportunity of a lifetime to perform with said Movie Star.
“OKayyeE-E-E-E!” I piped up in some sort of alien dolphin-esque warble.
But thankfully after years of working in show business, I do tend to snap to attention when I hear the word “ACTION!” And rehearsing our first scene together was surprisingly easy peasy. By scenes two and three that she was appearing in I felt like we were pals, having exchanged dialogue, gotten laughs at a Producer Run-Thru, and if I knew how to Twit or Book a Face, I was certain that she and I would be BFs. (Mock my technological savvy if you will, but even Captain Steven Hiller* accidentally backed the ship up…)
While my job may require actual acting on any given occasion without so much as a minute warning wherein one can only hope to make the crew laugh while you’re reading a script “cold” (i.e. having never performed the scene before, but now you need to replicate it to the best of your abilities out loud and in brutal zit-enhancing microscopic High Def), there is also the dreary technical aspect of tedious camera-blocking.
Frankly the whole process tends to vampirifically suck the life out of the crew as my fellow Stand-Ins and I spend endless amounts of time STARING at each other while the Director makes adjustments and the DP checks the lighting.
But prepped for pre-shoots and more than happy to stand-in for herself, I found myself suddenly staring eye-to-eye with the aforementioned Movie Star in full make-up, hair and wardrobe.
And who should emerge on my behalf, but freakin’ Ethel Mertz…
“You look sooo beautiful!” I gushed once again.
“Thank you” the veteran Actress (my age) whispered, quietly meeting my gaze and waiting patiently for instructions from our Director.
Perhaps my encounter with the Movie Star had provided me with a new sense of self-awareness. Perhaps I had learned that the playing field was more level than I thought and that all of us are equals as human beings.
Or perhaps my eleventy-third cocktail on a Friday night before Christmas hiatus provided me with just enough stupid liquid courage to send my blog link to my favorite Author, Christopher Moore.
And I, in true Ethel Mertz form, vodka-logically typed the following:

 Hi Author Guy,

As a loyal fan of your writing and a die-hard enthusiast, I just wanted to say thanks for your ridiculously brilliantly warped brain. 

I work in Hollywood on television sit-coms, and have now effectively drawn a new following of "lambs" (if you will) into the Collective of Christopher Moore Admirers who are buying your books like nylons and chocolates. 

I even encouraged a few of them to write to you via this email address, and every single one was absolutely astonished that you replied to them quicker than any of their family members. (Thanks for living up to your hype Mr. Moore!)

I HIGHLY doubt that you would ever have time to read something as simple as a blog even though you are my inspiration as a writer, but here's my link nonetheless:

By the way, I was handed a Carl Hiaasen novel in exchange for "A Dirty Job"...

No offense to Mr. Hiaasen, but he doesn't even begin to hold a candle to you!

With admiration and best wishes for Happy Holidays,


What I neglected to remember however, was the fact that Mr. Moore always responds to his fan mail…

I liked your blog. It's very, well, perky. And I mean that in the nicest way. If I had to work in Hollywood I'd probably have a collection of human heads and one of those bulletin boards with the yarn and the Polaroids showing the progress of my collection of people who had flipped me just a little too much shit on their way to being headless.

So, you know, props to you for toughing it out with a good attitude. It's probably best I'm not working down there. But you seem to be doing fine.

Have a great holiday break. I'll be finishing up a book. (And working on my map. Oh no, Mr. Hardware Store Guy, I don't think you will be condescending to me again over which kind of washer I need for my drippy kitchen faucet. Here, let me take your picture...)


So my blog has been deemed “perky” by a professional writer, albeit a potential serial killer…?
Well, Merry Christmas to ME!!!
Gushing unabashedly and wishing you all Happy Holidays,
~"Perky Ethel P!"
(*p.s. That’s the only clue you get, C2.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cirque de so L.A.

There but for the Grace of God...
Lumbering onto the stage on all fours like a hungry grizzly bear after a six week hibernation hiatus from our sit-com and rising up on my hind legs (as it were) in search of helpless campers’ picnic baskets, I sniffed the air and surveyed the land.
There were friendly faces. There were holiday stories of over-indulgence of turkey and trimmings. And while there wasn’t a hot breakfast available on our first day of rehearsal, there were DONUT HOLES…
“Welcome back!” one of the office people (?) embraced me in a maternal hug as I was attempting to extend an outstretched paw toward the tongs in order to procure a deep-fried ball of glazed Heaven-on-Earth. “How was your Thanksgiving?!” the overly-indulged story teller asked sweetly.
“Uh, just fine” I smiled, uncomfortable with spewing the rather Charlie Brown details (i.e. nuking a single package of Kraft “Easy Mac (‘cheesy, pleasy!’)” microwavable macaroni and cheese for myself and my semi-toothless feline companion who has taken to clacking her lack of teeth like she’s wearing ill-fitting dentures).
“How was yours?” I inquired politely, having already heard the details.
“Well…” she launched into her lengthy tale again as I listened, responding with proper hearty laughs and all due respect.
(What can I say - being the trained bear in a tutu at the three-ring circus known as Hollywood, sometimes you have to dance before they feed you.)
Wearing an imaginary red-sequined spandex bodysuit (with a built-in tummy tuck apparatus!) and carefully checking my financial balance, I walked the tightrope in anticipation of a tent full of applause as I reached my final destination of stepping onto the platform and finding a belated unemployment benefit in the mail box after the holiday weekend.
Sure I had a small savings account equivalent to a safety net below, but what’s a highwire act without the drama, the suspense, or the possibility of injury whilst executing a death-defying stunt?
And eyeing the familiar envelope from the government that would ultimately assist me in keeping The Big Top over my head for another month, I tore open the paperwork with a dramatic flourish.
“TADA!” I announced ostentatiously in the face of my Ever-So Ferocious Man-Eating Lion. (Well, OK, maybe not ‘man-eating’ without all her teeth, and perhaps not ‘ever-so ferocious’ since I adopted her with front paws already declawed; but given the opportunity, I wouldn’t put it past her to lick my bones clean should I happen to have a tragic “accident”.)
“Heydewhaddayahunh?” I blurted a minute later; frightened by the notification from Chuckles the Bureaucratic Clown who had lured me into smelling the fresh fragrance of his boutonnière, only to squirt me in the eye with the following statement:
(Never did like clowns…)
But thankfully I’d learned how to juggle years ago.
And wrapping coins from my piggy bank ($6.00!) as well as taking in some recycling to the center ($11.16!), I, “The Flying Pennendo” took comfort in the ankle hang from the swinging trapeze, knowing that paychecks would be arriving in the near future – yet another safety net in place!
What I hadn’t counted on however, was my grand finale as The Human Cannonball.
The text message was innocent enough – “Can u talk 4 a min?”
But had I known the consequences of dialing the phone I would have at the very least strapped on a helmet and protective padding.
“I’m moving to Florida December 14th” the Ringmaster of the Rock Star Ex-Boyfriend Circus informed me.
“Heydewhaddayahunh?” I blurted for the second time in one week.
I learned awhile back (thank you Ellen) that life isn’t so much about how we can control uncomfortable situations, but more about the choices we make when faced with them.
And I for one, am looking forward to strapping on my tutu for the next five days before Christmas hiatus!
With love (and best wishes to the Ringmaster),