With my High Holy Holiday of Halloween approaching, I would’ve been remiss not to take advantage of the sales, plus I probably would’ve suffered some serious delirium tremors at not getting my yearly fix!After all, if you know the first thing about me, my home is my sanctuary, and whilst the rest of the world may update their living environment on any given day, I’m somewhat limited to a short window of time when all manner of delightfully spooky accoutrements are trotted out on display. (Yes, I confess to a once-a-year needle in my arm…!)
Sure, the fixation was temporarily quelled at a Rite-Aid store with the purchase of a tiny shelf dweller skeleton wearing a Mardi Gras mask and cuddling a black kitty (for only $3.00?):
But soon thereafter, I found myself on a full-blown Target binge!There was a glow-in-the-dark skull and crossbones pillow! There were even luxurious embroidered hand towels to spruce up my bathroom!
Not to mention the world’s greatest ever throw rugs that were reversible? (Hello? One for my bathroom and one for my kitchen? Awesome!!!)
And whipping out my Debit card to pay for my yearly upgrade addiction, I didn’t even flinch at the total of seventy-six bucks for my purchases. After all, we’re approaching my High Holy Holiday of Halloween wherein I feel most connected to the rest of the world, and I couldn’t help but smile stupidly at the local Smart and Final cashier later that day; a daunting scythe-wielding skeleton draped in shrouds, hovering ominously over his conveyor belt. Joy!!!And once again, my world made sense!
Halloween? There’s nothing really scary about it! Embrace it, I say!!! (She typed innocently the week prior to the Holiday…)“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
>>><<<Walking onto the stage early on a Monday morning, I blanched at an oncoming awkward moment that was inevitable as I encountered one of our Executive Producers in the tiny pathway to and from Craft Services. (Now THAT, I find to be scarier than any Halloween movie ever created.)
“Good Morning!” I may have unnecessarily shouted (as I think his ‘good’ ear was further away, but I could’ve been wrong…)“Ya gotta BIG part to play today, Pen” he responded; his comment trickling eerily up my spine to all the little hairs on the back of my neck. And glancing down at the cover of my script, I noticed that he had personally written the episode.
“Well, thanks for your faith in me!” (???) I smiled, never entirely certain as to how to interpret the enigmatic minds of the Powers That Be. Were they words of camaraderie and trust? Or had I just been threatened with being fired if I sucked? Plus he called me “Pen”, as though we’ve been BFFs all along? (I didn’t think he even knew my name!) “I’ll do my best” I offered cheerfully.“Uch, I’ve heard ya do the accent a million times, and you’re funny” he waived me off with a flip of his hand and without a further thought beyond scarfing down his plate of bacon and eggs.
(Um, Fear Level, minimal?)>>><<<
Now, as a Stand-In, I’m quite accustomed to the appropriate amounts of respect towards, distance from, and tact with our Cast. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again now, but I understand my boundaries and limits as to being visible yet invisible as necessary ala Casper the Friendly Ghost.That said however, I was required to fill in for a Guest Star, whom despite enjoying a rather meaty role, she was currently unavailable for the day. And requested to sit side-by-side with the Actors at the table-read, I complacently took a seat to enact the part of our lovely Guest Star, who has to mimic the accent of my Gorgeous Actress.
Slightly anxious as I may have been initially, I must admit that table-reads are BY FAR the least terrifying experience for me as an Actor. You bury your nose in the script, you deliver your jokes as written and you’re done! EASY-PEASY! And getting a feel for the timing of the laughter before you put the scenes on their feet, you learn when to speak, and when to shut up. It’s not Rocket Science!(Again, Fear Level, minimal.)
So not surprisingly, my day was going swimmingly throughout rehearsals. I had multiple shared dialogue with my Gorgeous Actress (well, that was sort of bizarre as I normally Stand-In for her), but working out our comedic timing together, I was feeling relatively confident as the day progressed.Tackling the first couple of scenes during our Network/Producer/Writer Run-Thru, my heart soared with joy as the Powers That Be laughed in all the right places! Oh, they were ROOTING for me to do a good job! Oh, I hadn’t tanked any of their jokes! Oh, I would still be gainfully EMPLOYED!!!
Until…Attempting to finish a scene wherein our Guest Star was directed to take my Gorgeous Actress’ dog (HER REAL DOG!!!) out of her arms, I fumbled a bit at grasping the sizeable girth of an eleven-year-old, deaf-in-one-ear, cataract-suffering, feeble-legged, twenty-pound (I think I’m being kind in regard to her heft) Chocolate Pomeranian, as I attempted to balance the rescued (and extraordinarily pampered) pup on top of my script from the arms of my Gorgeous Actress – all the while trying to clasp said canine, whilst trying my best to discern the boundaries between scooping up the doggie belly, without accidentally including our notoriously bra-less Actress’ breasts in the exchange.
(Fear Level now escalating towards acute discomfort and unease.)And somewhat bastardizing the dialogue (in my defense, I’d planted the puppy’s ass on my page, as I would prefer to be fired for ruining one line, as opposed to the guillotine I’d face if I accidentally made that helpless doggie yelp!!!), I attempted to smile (in absolute TERROR) as my Gorgeous Actress STARED ME DOWN as scripted for the day; her baby, cuddled in my arms…
“And, CUT!” our Director ended the scene, as my Actress softened, warmly reclaiming the enormous mass of her canine companion.“She’s just a butterball, isn’t she?! Mommy LOVES her daughter! Yes she DOES!” she cooed affectionately to her pup, giving her belly kisses, as I wiped a bead of sweat off my brow.
*whew!*By all accounts, the rest of my week appeared sunny and delightful! Certainly there would be NO more horror stories, as our Guest Star was available on Wednesday through Friday, and I could happily return to my Casper-like invisibility!
Until…With re-written scenes flooding the stage (as usual on our show), our Fearless Leader attempted to get ahead of the Zombie-esque stalking of our brains being eaten by all of the slow moving twists and turns of the script. And throwing Second Team in head-first (if you will), we attempted to block as much as possible for cameras. Sure, the dialogue was undoubtedly subject to change, but (and I don’t have the power to read our Director’s mind, yet the impassioned determination to find an ounce of dominance over a set that’s so cock-blocked (pardon my language) by the Powers That Be), come Hell or high water, our Director was determined to get SOMETHING accomplished on his own terms!
And as our ever-so obedient Second Team performed to the delight of our Director, we actually had a decent grasp of a show – even with a newly written scene which involved the delicate choreography of a bitchy, mud-slinging cat fight between my Gorgeous Actress and our Guest Star!Oh, I could finally put my feet up after an eleven hour day (twelve, if you count lunch) and rest comfortably on my laurels!
Until…“Wait, wait, wait!” my Gorgeous Actress suddenly stopped all production. “Who remembers when I crossed stage left?” she wanted to know as I barreled onto the set with my script as a back-up plan should anyone higher-up have failed to take note. And singling me out, she made the Executive Decision to watch me perform her blocking and remind her of the moves she had made earlier that morning.
“G’head Pen” she smiled. “I need to see it, to be reminded” she nodded sweetly, as the entire crew fell ominously silent.EEK!!! (Fear Level at DEFCON ONE!!!)
Ever-so-tiny as my pea-brain may be, and ever-so-nervous of the random occasions when I’m relegated to perform a scene FOR my Actress AS my Actress, I sucked it up to the best of my ability as she watched my movements and kindly endured my impersonation of her.“OK! Most of that works for me!” she beamed. “Thanks Pen! I really appreciated that!” she smiled warmly as I IMMEDIATELY scampered into the shadows.
And nestled comfortably in the darkness with my crew, I welcomed the heartfelt blessings of two camera operators and a camera tech who all hugged me.“Ya do great work kid! Don’t let nobody tell ya otherwise!” my pal Vito patted my back.
(And just like that, Fear Level? ZERO!)>>><<<
Tired yet wired after a thirteen hour day, I retreated to my sanctuary to embrace my Halloween purchases, including two spectacular picture frames that I’d not yet filled.And pulling out the first one (elegantly painted with spooky spider webs), I selected a photo from my Hollywood archives over six years ago:
(Yes, that would be the Divine Reba McEntire, the hilarious Melissa Peterman, myself, and the ever-so-handsome James Denton!)But staring at the second frame, I couldn’t quite imagine what might fit into the tiny 2”x2” shadow box…
However, as The Universe tends to pay more attention to the obvious that we sometimes overlook, my eyes were drawn (for whatever reason) to a small plastic Ziploc bag I keep near my purse – a go-to packet of photos should an Earthquake hit and I have mere seconds to grab a handful of pictures of my family and other loved ones. And just who might be staring at me on the top of the pile?And with peace in my heart that I’d finally stumbled upon an appropriate frame during my shopping frenzy, I lovingly inserted my favorite pic of my heroic feline sidekick Pretty, lounging happily inside one of her favorite plastic baggies.
Celebrating today – which would’ve been our 17 year anniversary since her adoption – and every day this week on my first hiatus, (!!!)~Casper the Fearless, Friendly P