Friday, August 31, 2012

THE TRANS-GLOBAL EXPLORATION EXPERIMENTATION




Badgered relentlessly gently prodded by a few people who loathe the fact that I’m still on a relaxing hiatus who sincerely care for my well-being, I’ve been verbally harassed I’ve engaged in a conversation or two regarding my deviant choices of self-indulgence available options for appropriately spending my time away from the stage.
I’m blessed to have been requested back to my last sit-com, blessed to be returning to a UPM that appreciates my work and blessed to have earned enough money so that I can sustain myself (with a bit of help from the unemployment department, of course) on my summer vacation.

So, when did the word “should” become so popular?
Apparently, with my down time, I should be travelling here, there and everywhere as opposed to simply enjoying quiet time in my bat cave.  But if I’m more than happy, what’s so terribly wrong with doing what seems right to me?

Perhaps I’m being a tad overly sensitive, and I understand that everyone has an opinion, but as a Stand-In in Hollywood, I’m told what to do and I do it.  No questions asked.
But off the set and in my own personal time – I don’t believe in “what I should do”.

So I hereby dedicate this post to the “Below the Line” peeps of the world, that have the absolute right to (legally) do as they please when they’re not being told what to do!
Finding a flier outside my apartment gate, I took a chance on a new neighborhood pizzeria and am now proudly addicted to the self-titled “East Coast Flavor” of Tomato Pizza Pie Joint on Melrose Avenue.  (I’ve been to New York City, and this is awesomely authentic!  Please feel free to salivate at my NY Style pie with savory ricotta!)

 
I’ve travelled to “Las Vegas” (without leaving my home) whilst playing at a “casino” with fake money (thank you Hoyle Games) and won some artificial cash.  (The bells and whistles are great fun!)

 
I’ve splayed in front of the television watching repeats of shows I love whilst simultaneously solving difficult crossword puzzles (my Dad says I get that honest enough from his side of the family!), and have gone days without feeling the need to be bothered.

 
I’ve also rescued Cecilia (my Toyota) from the florid jungle madness that was the aggressive bougainvillea assaulting her parking spot (EEK!), and treated her to a spa day of a bath and triple waxing whilst the son of my deceased Crappy Landlord trimmed the hedges…


…And I even traipsed all around 19th Century Paris with my favorite Author, Christopher Moore, as I dedicated one whole day to reading his latest novel Sacre Bleu cover-to-cover!

 
(I’m a sucker for absolutely anything he writes, but as I majored in Art History at my University twenty-some years ago, I fell in love with the Masters all over again…)

Yet, that doesn’t mean you “should” read it!!!
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Nevertheless, waking up on my own terms the other day around noon, I could feel the oppressive weight of the “should” beginning to gnaw at me…
I only had one and a half slices of my TPPJ ricotta delight left, plus, having hit a “$400.00” jackpot the night before:

 
…I had celebrated with cocktails, which left me with maybe enough voddy for two thinly mixed drinks that evening. 

And cue the ugly inner dialogue…
“I should go out and get supplies” I sighed (despite the fact that I still have waaay more food in my kitchen then I ever do when I’m working).  “I should stock up on more Vitamin Water too” I added, surveying my refrigerator.  “Oh, and I should definitely buy more milk” I fretted (hey, “it does a body good”).

But turning on the TV for some mind-numbing background noise whilst attempting to reconcile all of the “shoulds” in my pea-brain, I found myself positively glued to the screen as I watched a marathon of “World’s Wildest Police Videos” from across the globe.  A riot in London!  A car chase in Istanbul!  A man barreling his luxury automobile all the way through City Hall in Topeka, Kansas because he was irate at getting a ticket a few hours earlier for having his speakers up too loud?!  Awesome!!!
And as if The Universe was acknowledging my right to enjoy my vacation time as I saw fit, I logged on to my heroes at Yummy.com once again to place an order for my beverages to be delivered to the bat-cave.  After all, I was looking forward to a riveting afternoon!

But pausing (ironically) my TiVo in the middle an old(ish) video recorded on the streets in Hollywood of a meth-head attempting to elude the police in her car with her daughter; I greeted the Yummy.com driver at my door, who seemed, well, a little bit rattled.  
Had I ever had one inkling that The Universe was NOT on my side as I celebrate my well-earned hiatus, all doubt was immediately removed with the arrival of said driver, who started to unload a case of plain bottled water at my stoop.

“Um, we didn’t order that” I spoke on behalf of the household (i.e. my deceased heroic feline sidekick Pretty in an urn, and one ambitious philodendron plant named “Boo” miraculously thriving on a nightstand).
“Oh, geez, sorry” the harried young fellow apologized.  “The police just turned me away from a delivery in Hollywood.  Do you hear the helicopters?”

“Yeah.  What’s going on?” I wondered as I signed for the grocery bags.
“Apparently an armed gunman in an apartment building” the driver wiped his brow worriedly.

“Well, you be careful!” I smiled, channeling my Mom.
By all accounts, The Universe was applauding my personal choices to remain happily at home for the day, and at that moment, my world made sense!

Until…
Padding out to my mailbox around 8pm to retrieve the daily “snails”, I was horrified to find a letter from the EDD (Unemployment Dept.)  Apparently Sony Pictures had notified the EDD that they had cut me a residual check in July for over $2,200.00 which I had not documented.  “NOTICE OF POTENTIAL OVERPAYMENT” read the headline from EDD, with all due manner of terrifying Governmental threats of denying me future benefits for up to 23 weeks as well as charging me $520.00 for failure to report income.

Are you freaking kidding me?!?!  I reported with complete honesty a puny residual check from “Saved by the Bell” for $10.50 a couple of weeks ago!  Do they seriously think I’m going to try to hide a whopping two grand from the Government in order to score a couple hundred dollars for a week?  That check (whenever it arrives) will be a badge of honor!!!
But chatting with my knowledgeable friend and fellow Actor James (who has also had his fair share of dealings with EDD), he assured me not to worry.  Yes, call the number on the paper and politely ask how the form should be filled out, and yes, since the letter explained that “earnings are residuals”, just remind them that the payroll company does not send the checks directly to you, but has to go to the Union first, which may take around ninety days (depending on the contract) before you receive payment.

Feeling more at ease but still somewhat peeved, I set my alarm clock for 7:30am the next morning to call EDD for assistance as necessary.  But wouldn’t you know it, all lines were “busy”, and all the “help” I received was a tape-recorded voice telling me that “no one in the office can answer your questions at this time.  Goodbye.”   
So filling out the Government form to the best of my ability, I ended my lengthy statement with the absolute truth:  “I cannot claim funds which I’ve not yet received”.

>>><<< 
As to my Trans-Global Exploration Experimentation, I must say I’m 99.99% satisfied with my choices during this hiatus.  Time is flying far too quickly, but I am looking forward to the challenges of adapting to many new Directors on our show, earning the trust of our new 1st AD, and hoping to prove my abilities once again in Tinsel Town.

But, for now?  I think this commercial says it all…!
 

With love,
~Sloth-esque P

 

 

Friday, August 10, 2012

CURSES!



The very first time I got the Evil Eye working on a sit-com, I was so na├»ve as to assume that everything that happens behind the scenes is a purely collaborative process. 
And in many aspects, that’s a logical conclusion. 

However it wasn’t until (as a newbie working in Hollywood), that I made the nearly-fatal, potentially-career-ending error of helpfully suggesting a tiny line change in a script to a Higher-Up – a small bit of dialogue which I sincerely thought might be slightly more appealing and comical to a Midwest audience (because to be perfectly honest, I didn’t understand the written joke, nor did I find it even remotely funny when someone else explained it to me.)

To this day, I still recall the slow-motion body turn, as the Higher-Up’s face flushed a terrifying rainbow of first sort of a baby pinkish hue, which grew into a dark crimson, followed by deep shade of purple (a color which I have yet to see anywhere else in nature).

“I have a WGA card!  It’s right here in my wallet!  Do YOU have a WGA card?!” he bellowed sarcastically.  “I also have a DGA card in my wallet!  Do YOU have a DGA card?!” he strutted like a peacock, ever so proud of his accomplishments, whipping out his credentials for everyone on stage to witness the validations of achievements in his life should he ever be doubted for his remarkable talent.

At the time – having had no formal training in motion picture or television studies (and embarrassingly unfamiliar what all the hoo-ha was about with the clearly CAPITAL LETTERS resume) – I did what any girl in my situation would most naturally do and immediately burst into tears!

Not an easy pop quiz there, but suffice it to say, I learned my lesson!

And from that day on, I chose to become a dedicated student of my craft.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still made a pant load of rookie mistakes, but I tried to learn from each and every one of them:

          1:  Unless you’re specifically told to carry an item on stage as an actor, DON’T TOUCH THE PROPS (no matter how interesting they may appear to be – and they are almost ALWAYS fascinating!)

          2:  Should you stumble upon a row of clothing on a rack backstage, DON’T TOUCH THE WARDROBE (or physically try on anything, including wigs and jewelry just for fun or because a pair of shoes might go nicely with a jacket at home.)

          3:  If something shiny and twinkly catches your eye on a set, DO NOT TOUCH OR DARE TO MOVE said item (due to threat of dismemberment by mild-mannered Set Dressing people who apparently carry machetes…)
>>><<< 

Personally, I consider myself blessed to have shared my early lessons at such a hands-on (or rather HANDS-OFF) “University” of crash courses with a select group of “tweenagers” who were also just learning the ropes.
 
And I must say that despite our drill sergeant-esque training, (nearly) every single one of us developed an absolute respect for all of the difficult work that’s required to pull off a show together.  (To this day, the “kids” make me so proud to see them book a series!)

>>><<<

“So what’s with the trip down Memory Lane, Penny?” I’m sure you’re all wondering (if you’re still reading this page and haven’t abandoned my story for adorable cat videos on You Tube just yet.)

Well my friends, I accidentally forgot about one of the cardinal rules, which is sort of an “understood and to be respected” Sub-Section “A” of rule #1 listed above:

In a nutshell, not only should one never touch the props, but this unproven (yet scary) law has a unique Jinx attached when it comes to superstitious actors and infirmary items.  Unless your Character has a broken leg, DON’T hobble around on the crutches for your own amusement!  Unless your Character is immobilized, DON’T lounge in the wheelchair because you’re too lazy to get up!  You’re just asking for trouble!

Now, thankfully, I’ve done nothing of the kind (despite posting catalogue photos of said items.)  However, misrepresenting my “flu recovery” to the neighbors a few nights ago, I apparently infuriated The Universe with my utter disrespect to my humble craft, and have thusly been punished unmercifully for over forty-eight hours with what I can only describe (to use a Hollywood term) as an EPIC case of a REAL stomach flu…

Good Lord, my KINGDOM for a bullet between the eyes to decide the Battle of Rights over the Land of the Lavatory! 

>>><<<

Blissfully however, I choose to believe that The Universe eventually brings comfort to those who require a bit of new-found strength during adversity.

(Or as in my case, those who authentically plea in a pathetic, achy, every-muscle-in-my-body-hurt capacity; plus I was still sweating under the air conditioning and could barely lift my arm to hold up a mini fan over my face so I didn’t over-heat and barf all over the bed.)*

But as of yesterday, with the assistance of belly-comforting saltine crackers, electrolyte water, ginger ale (which I used to think was some sort of urban myth, but is truly perhaps the most soothing tummy beverage ever); and wondering how to Oscar nominate the underappreciated talented role of Pepto-Bismol in my “independent color film” I felt like I had triumphed in the battle over the Hollywood Jinx!!!

(For now!  For now!  Don’t curse me again!)

And like a welcome wagon back into The Universe’s Good Graces, I logged onto the computer today (Whee!  It was my first time completely upright in three whole days!), to find a friendly email to all the crew from my favorite UPM, confirming our upcoming start-up date for our next twelve episodes.  HOORAY!!!

Celebrating my first McDonalds Happy Meal this afternoon after the flu (baby steps!),

Curse-free, happy P

*For those of you who noticed the asterisk above, now I understand a bit more of the mind of a kitty.  Hair balls are not a choice!  And for those of you who’ve not seen his videos, may I introduce you to the world of “Henri”.  (Tres dramatique!)



Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Catalogue Conspiracy




Wallowing in the temporary throes of being on hiatus, napping like a polar bear in hibernation under the coolness of my air conditioner and all around generally giddy that I have the rare luxury of a wee bit of time to myself away from work, I was feeling like a care-free teenager.  (Shhh, don’t tell my parents, but I even slept until 5:30 in the afternoon one day!)

And when I got hungry, I cooked!  Well, I boiled water, and nuked some Al Fredo sauce from a jar in the microwave.  But I made a whole plate full of cheese-filled spinach tortellini without scorching my eyebrows!  And it only took me THREE tries to nail the timing!!! 

(BTW, 20 puffy pasta thingies nearly put me over the edge.  Should you choose to don your own imaginary chef’s hat, I, the Temporary Dark Priestess of Kitchen-y Paraphernalia personally recommend a more modest yet satisfying 16 puffy pasta thingies to prevent belly-plumpage as well as the immediate desire to flop on the bed and sleep like a bloated tick.)

Shake your head all you want to in utter disbelief at my on-going inner teenaged Genius-ness, but occasionally, I have my moments:


Still hoping to achieve my riches in Hollywood, looking forward to buying my first mansion in the secluded Hollywood Hills and planning to sloppily apply all manner of extreme black eye liner whilst wearing a creepy tattered wedding gown and occasionally burying small treasures under the full moon in my gated community (guarded by magnificent gargoyles), I plodded to my current apartment mailbox (guarded only by my Crappy Son of Crappy Deceased Landlord) to discover the following (which has nothing to do with Crappy Landlord; but my faithful gargoyles could surely have prevented this):

I am now officially on the Geriatric list of mail order catalogues!

Apparently, having made the semi-comforting slash somewhat creepy purchase of a “Perfect Petzzz” Arctic Fox (an animatronic stuffed plushy faux animal that appears to breathe with a small motor inside its belly to simulate a furry napping companion as a transitional experimentation to learn to sleep without my heroic feline sidekick Pretty), I’ve unwittingly opened the window to massive solicitations; all of which are supposedly addressed to my new level of Senior Needs.

I suppose it’s comforting to know that at a certain age, we have the ability to order a high-rise toilet seat:


But we can also stuff a Glock into our slimming waistband:


Yet travel around freely:


And also pack a rifle!


But hey…  If the sequence of catalogue arrivals is correct, at the end of our weary gun-toting potty-trained fiasco, we eventually get to put together a happy puzzle of kitties and puppies!  (Well, you know if we haven’t already accidentally shot off our hands.)


Meanwhile, as I’ve apparently been categorized as “elderly” (Dude, I’m only 46!  And I probably shouldn’t be using the term “dude” as yet another catalogue has offered me an extendible tool should I be unable to, uh, well, let’s just not even GO there), I looked forward to tuning into the Opening Olympic Ceremonies that I’d TiVo’d the night before.

I was hoping to grasp some Universal sense of “belonging”; a twinge of purpose, a sense of Worldwide Unity and perhaps even a tiny glimpse of the magnificent aspirations of a teenaged girl competing in gymnastics as I had done in my youth!

Hmm…

Really???

I’m admittedly one of the first to burst into stupid chick tears at anything remotely patriotic; but staring at the peasant people traipsing about with smoke stacks and eventually mentally torturing small children with nightmares and a 100 foot tall blow-up statue-floppy-doll of Lord Voldemort?  
Hmm…

(Take that whichever way you want to.  If you hadn’t noticed, I have a dark side.)

>>><<< 

Meanwhile, back at the bat-cave, Crappy Son of Crappy Landlord posted a new notice next to the mailboxes (where I am cursed with a continued scourge of multiple catalogues crumpled into a two inch square box), all residents have now been advised that as of nine o’clock next Saturday morning, our apartment building will be having some “much needed landscaping, and all bedroom and bathroom windows must be closed in what is expected to take no more than four hours.”

Well THERE’S a happy day off for everyone who was looking forward to sleeping in late!!!

Hmm…
Perhaps the catalogues were rightfully designated…
Perhaps I had become a crotchety old lady…

But never, EVER discount the mental acuity of the so-called “elderly”!!!

Already perturbed by my next door neighbor who has zero control of his ankle-nipping yappy dogs that bark incessantly outside of my bedroom window, my inner teen angst got the better of me after three days of listening to home improvement buzz saws and miscellaneous wood thumping that could have competed in the Olympics should snarky four inch tall canines ever vie against lumberjacks for disobeying a noise zone.
Take your time – I’ll wait whilst you weigh the scales (as it were).

Meanwhile, something had to be done…

Strapping on a hoodie, I contemplated my approach to the house. 

Sure, I could pretend to be the exasperated student trying to finish a term paper stomping unpleasantly on the porch in juvenile defiance…

But sometimes (as I’ve learned as an Actor in Hollywood) you have to play against the words.

“I’m supposed to be on vacation” I apologized, ever so weakly; “I live next to you, but I’m just getting over the flu” I fabricated.  “Can you tell me how much longer you’re going to be with all the power tools?  Between the noise, and my stomach, and I just need to sleep a tiny bit…” I pleaded with all due appropriate elderly weariness.

“We’ll clean up everything within the hour!” I was reassured.  “We’re sorry for the inconvenience!” my neighbor stammered regretfully.

“Thank you ever so” I smiled frailly before tottering back to my bat-cave, to theoretically curl up with the creepy Arctic Fox which I have knighted “Cousin Itt” (title courtesy of “The Addams Family”) and order more tortellini. 


AND THE AWARD GOES TO…


 
 ~Blanche (?)