Wednesday, June 19, 2013


“So I got this box from my parents the other day...”
“Oh dear Lord, not “the box”...” my friend RJ shuddered “psychically” on the phone before I’d even begun to explain anything.  (What can I tell you, we’ve known each other since kindergarten and we both know our families all too well.)  “I got “the box”, well, actually three of them a few years ago from my parents, and I kinda wished I’d never opened them” he added.  “Did you already open yours?” he winced.

Honestly, I don’t know if this is strictly an American tradition, or perhaps just a Midwest curse upon children who grow up and move away, or if this is a worldwide phenomenon.  But where I come from, there exists an apparently unspoken parental rite of passage; an inexplicable day, month or year, when those that have labored, nurtured and sacrificed for the care of their young, purge the guano of the bat colony’s pups out of the cave for good.
Having left a precious golden chest (I kid you not!) of treasures from my childhood, high school and college years in my parent’s Fortress (again, I kid you not); apparently my time capsule of memorabilia had reached its expiration date.

And so my parents shipped me my schist.
Slicing open my Pandora’s Box, I immediately marveled at my childhood collection of spectacular geodes.  Oh, the quartz, the calcite, the pyrite, (and yes) the schist!  Oh, the hand-written catalogue of every fossil and geological stone I’d ever unearthed, or spent my hard earned allowance on the purchase of such delightful hand polished treasures!   There was even my very favorite slab of amethyst cradled maternally in a tissue!  And continuing my archeological dig, I was suddenly ten years old, holding 1,000 year old lava “glass” in my hot little hands!

(Yes, I collected rocks.  And I’ll hop on a High Horse right now if you make fun of me.)

Chronologically out of order, I next stumbled upon a few items from my years at the University; including some sentimental items of clothing, as well as my glitter-bedazzled mortarboard (graduation tassel still attached), which my Mom had blissfully contained in its own plastic baggie.  (Uck... GLITTER!  One tiny nostalgic peek inside the bag, and I wound up with about five specks of gold mocking me on the carpet, which having travelled across the US, had now begun to nomadically multiply and maneuver their way throughout my entire apartment.  (Sure I can run a vacuum over those glistening dots a gazillion times, flick them around easily with my pinkie and vacuum again, but they WON’T GO AWAY.)

Delving into the bottom of my Pandora’s Box, I smiled fondly at some High School items which I hadn’t seen in decades; and looking forward to all the sentimental goo attached to those formative years, I actually gasped at the Evil horrors which I had unwittingly released...

Rummaging through a Senior Album of sorts, I excavated what must’ve been an envelope of fifty or so class pictures of my schoolmates from the 80’s – all with embarrassingly gigantic Aqua Net hair-sprayed bangs in the photos, coupled with optimistic swirly handwriting on the back; most of which were emblazoned with the same sentiment over and over of “don’t ever change!”  (Dear GOD, what were we THINKING?)
Now, from a purely archeological pondering over the unfortunate documentation of our desired “look” back in the day, I couldn’t help but wonder:  A.) Was there a time in the Pleistocene period of Neanderthals when their children looked up at the cave paintings of their parents and grunted an “Ooogh” with embarrassment that the elders felt comfortable mixing and matching so many clashing animal prints?   B.) Exactly how much of the earth’s ozone did my classmates and I destroy with all of that aerosol in order to try to look like Farrah Fawcett?  C.) Will the offspring of today’s youth look back at Grandpa’s Facebook page forty years from now and wonder why Gramps’ plaid boxers rode so much higher than his pants, as well as how could Grandpa even sit down when his designer back hip pockets were drooping behind his knees?   

But I digress!
Mining further into the pre-printed album which provided fill-in spaces for our answers to such penetrating questions as “favorite teacher”, “favorite class” and “favorite part about being a senior”, I was mortified by the majority of my responses. 

The shards of history glared at me – the snot-nosed, self-entitled, demonic teenage rebellious ramblings of a smart-assed brat who thought she knew absolutely everything there was to know in the world at the tender age of 18.  Good Lord, how on earth did my parents ever put up with me?  (Seriously -- if I were them, I would’ve saved myself the drama and devoured my young.)  No wonder they wanted to get rid of my schist!
(Side Note:  As I so often share my dreams on this blog – nocturnal and/or realized – I must say that I thrashed uncomfortably in my sleep that night, as I found myself being bullied by modern day teenaged girls with iPhones who mocked me relentlessly whilst we were stuck in a trapped elevator of a high rise building.) 

(Yeah, don’t really need an interpretative book to dissect that one.)

My archeological dig into Pandora’s Box, did proffer some long lost treasures:

Disbanding the final sacred burial tomb (actually it was a Christmas tin with two rubber bands around it), I delicately parted the Shroud of Turin (or, you know, my Mom used a towel) and stared wide-eyed at the trove before me...
Could it be?  Were there really ninety or so Pirate “pieces of 80’s”?

In perhaps my most spectacular dig into the past (lava glass rocks and fossils notwithstanding), I’d recovered promotional buttons from my favorite 1980’s musical bands!
There were Adam and the Ants!  There was Loverboy!  There were the Police!  There was Bow Wow Wow!  There was even Van Halen (prior to the Sammy Hagar years)!

But shining humbly like the Holy Grail among the throngs of musical idols (yes, Billy Idol was also represented), sat one innocuous button; a true homage to the days of yore; nay, a carpenter’s relic who knew not what prophecies might be built upon such a humble undertaking.

Yes my friends, I have in my possession, the VERY FIRST MTV Birthday cake pin with a one year candle on it!  (Believe it or not children, they used to actually ONLY show music videos on that channel!  (The button is dead center if you can see it above.))  And to this day, I’ll never forget the very first MTV premiere of The Buggles performing “Video Killed the Radio Star" – the unsung heroes who I believe innocently launched what has now evolved into the universal phenomenon known as You Tube.

After spending some time with Pandora’s Box, I think I’ve begun to make peace with my past, present and future.  (Although I must say, I’m STILL experiencing lucid dreams which take place in the house where I grew up.)
But at least I now fully understand my compulsion to occasionally spend a few bucks on a piece of jewelry as long as the rocks catch my eye.  My inner youthful Geologist deserves to be nurtured and respected for the vast advances she achieved as a child.  (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!)

In reverence to my High School years, I pulled out an iTunes gift card that had been gathering dust in a drawer since a television Director gave it to me awhile back; and sorting through the catalogue of available songs online, I now possess a small library of tracks which hurtle my pea brain twenty years back into the punk rock/post-punk era should I ever feel nostalgic for the days when I hadn’t a care in the world that was bigger than my hair.
And as to the University which provided some structure towards my “glistening” future, I’m bravely embracing the new world and all of its shining opportunities.  After all, I’ve made it all the way to Tinsel Town!  And despite a temporary slump this year in gainful employment, my hopes remain high for crawling in on the ground floor of any potentially highly rated successful sit-com later in the fall season.

Now, if I could just excavate the brain of the snot-nosed know-it-all brat from my past that once was me, perhaps I could learn how to download iTunes music from my computer to my Kindle Fire (Ooogh!), and figure out how to recover a picture lost in the cavernous depths of my cell phone!
Wishing you all a box full of joy,


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Penny (the Dime a Dozen), Television Armchair Quarterback

Ah, Tinsel Town!  The glitz!  The glamour!  The fame!  The fortune!  The bounty of residual checks shining like winning Lottery tickets in the mailbox!
Ah, the EDD...  The unemployment forms...  The bureaucratic red tape... Both the bane and vein of life for an unemployed actor such as myself...

But such is a day (or in my case, months) in the life of Hollywood!
Most accustomed to filling out the banal paperwork for my Government cheese on the dole, I took off my glasses to delicately scribble in the miniature bubbles of the standard document. (What can I say; I’m an anomaly.  Blind as a bat my entire life; but seriously, sans eyewear, I could etch your name on a grain of rice.)

But I digress!
I wasn’t sure if I was saddened at the one year “anniversary” of losing my feline sidekick Pretty, or feeling a bit out of sorts that one of my best friends was suddenly incommunicado into the “drunk tank” (not my words) for a month; but staring at the aforementioned form before me, I waxed philosophical at the questions:

1.  Were you too sick or injured to work?


Having purchased new bedding months ago with my tax refund, the unopened box still sat quietly in my living room.  Pillows, shams, a duvet and matching sheets awaited the glorious redecoration of my sleeping sanctuary – a cleansing homage to moving on in Life, as well as a tribute to my beloved feline sidekick that (should she choose to pop by again in a dream), Pretty could pounce on kitty-barf-free linens! 
Of course that also meant a tedious load of laundry, a minimum of ten quarters (if I got the inefficient dryer) and trekking outside to buy a new bottle of bleach...

Not to mention the fresh hell picture below:

Seriously?  I’m supposed to toddle outside to the laundry room beneath a two story ladder looming ominously over the front gate?  Just what kind of superstitious mind-fuckery are my crappy landlords playing at now?  Come on!

But once again, I digress.
So was I “too sick or injured to work?”  (Well, only to do the laundry!)

Color bubble “NO” on EDD form.
    2.    Was there any reason (other than sickness or injury) that you could not have accepted full time work each workday?


Having taken Cecilia (my Toyota) for a proper bath and triple foamy rainbow-colored frothiness, she rewarded me by once again turning off her “check engine” light in gratitude; so with the assurance of my trusty automobile in my quiver of arrows with which to attack any cowboy renegade cable sit-coms still up and running, I confidently colored in the “NO” bubble once again.
   3.    Did you look for work?

DID I LOOK FOR WORK???  Are you KIDDING me?!?!  I’m ridiculously blessed to be a tiny part of a massive industry that won my heart as a child!  My kingdom for a new show and a steady paycheck!

And yes... I even succumbed to humbly checking the recorded line from the Casting Company that usually hires me – only to hear that they were currently seeking only Background Actors for three projects:  one which required a “student” with a back pack (I have a back pack!), who is “18 years old to look younger, African-American, and small in physique to shoot in San Pedro” (I’m a great actress, but I’m not THAT good...) (And where the heck is San Pedro?); secondly, a Non-Union gig for females size 0 to 10, ages 25 to 50 (I’m in that range!), willing to be available for filming in Irvine (Where the fuck is Irvine?); followed by a final listing of women who possess automobiles that were manufactured prior to 1975.

(The blinds were down, the windows shut in my bat cave, but I’ll be darned if Cecilia didn’t “Harrumph” from her parking spot outside at the mere thought of playing older.)
So did I look for work?  Color bubble “YES” on EDD form.

4.  Did you refuse any work?

What am I, stupid?

Color bubble “NO” on EDD form.
     5.  Did you begin any kind of school or training?

Whilst I’d not spent any money to enroll at the local Annex for a class on learning the ins and outs of show biz, I had taken to some serious studying on my own... 

With nothing but idle hands during my down time, I focused on the research that might help ultimately provide a new insight into the field of television production; specifically a broadening of my horizons, should I ever be offered the opportunity to work on a single camera one-hour drama.  (Not my forte, but I’m willing to learn!)
Sure I could stand-in for a shot for lighting here or there; but the more I studied the shows, the more petulantly annoyed I became with the entire process...

In the fertile land outside of sit-coms, approximately ten actors/actresses are hired to star in absolutely everything!  And guess who the villain, villainess or victim always turns out to be? 
Actually, it’s quite simple math, as the actor/actress is either portrayed in the opening credits as a “Special Guest Star”, or provided with the divine “AND” at the end of the credits.  (Don’t get me wrong, a “with” credit is a strong showing, but a “with” is never as financially lucrative as an “AND”.) 

AND, studying my television for further tell-tales signs of the formula behind one hour dramas, I shook my head in dismay...
Apparently, before asking any simple question of a distraught widow regarding the death of her husband, she’s granted approximately ten minutes of utter silence in deference to brewing hot tea for the detectives.  Really?  Everyone sits there quietly for as long as it takes for a kettle to boil water?  (Well, there go my real life chances of ever being considered as an expert eyewitness, since I’d be lucky to dredge up a twenty-year old packet of Oolong.)

So did I begin any kind of school or training?  (Only if you count the fact that I learned how NOT to win an Emmy someday!) 
Color bubble “NO”.

6.  Did you work or earn any money, WHETHER YOU WERE PAID OR NOT?
Uck.  This one always gets my goat. 

In my opinion, I’m working every single second that I watch TV.  I study the actors, I observe the lighting, I question Director’s choices (seriously, one more pot of tea?), I rewind at poor grammar, and having ever-so reluctantly spread my wings into the occasional dose of “reality television” have wanted to bitch-slap whoever came up with most of that crap.  (Insert two guilty pleasures:  “Bar Rescue” (essentially an intervention for people who can’t run a business), and “Beyond Scared Straight” (a no-nonsense jail program to help at-risk children change their rotten behavior).
So, yeah, in a way I’m forever working during my down time (albeit not as defined by the Unemployment Department).

Humbly once again color bubble “NO”.
Yet meanwhile, I feel quite good about continuing to hone my craft at home!

I’ve re-learned that if you’re working with a burly veteran actor such as John Goodman (I did!), find your key light! 

If you’re stuck with a newbie fresh-faced comer out of God-Only-Knows-What-School-of-Sucky-Acting, teach him to enunciate! 

And should you ever be blessed to work with the genius actor Jere Burns (I did that too!), stand back and let the Hollywood magic happen.  (Insert personal television armchair quarterback opinion, that as truly lovely as a person Jere is, he scared the CRAP out of me with his performance on the A and E series “Bates Motel”!!!)

Cheers to Tinsel Town,

I’ll be watching you...

~Eagle-eyed P

Author’s Addendum:  In a spectacular twist of Fate whilst writing this post, I accidentally tripped over the leg of my computer table and landed flat on my tail bone.  (OW!!!)  I’m sure I’ll be fine - but for now, I’m a slave to Advil, ice packs and a heating pad.  Thank God for cable television to keep me company! 

Oh!  And if Simon Baker from “The Mentalist” should happen to want to comfort me by brewing a cup of tea for me in my current state of distress, well, I suppose that would be okay...  ;-)