Monday, January 27, 2014

The Comedic Timing Transmutation

“Are you completely comfortable using your left hand without breaking his nose?” a Very Mighty Power That Be asked me sincerely, as I stood stupidly on set in front of four cameras, trying VERY hard to process the logistics of the absurd situation and how on earth my world could have possibly evolved into such a profoundly surreal moment.

“Yes Sir!” I replied confidently and obediently in a nanosecond.
“Excellent!” the Power strode away to confer with the Director and a few fellow Producers just minutes prior to shooting.

Oh, good grief...  What had I gotten myself into this time?

Just to back up a day for you on the events, the original offer seemed both benign and possibly ludicrous, er, lucrative; as whilst I’d rather avoid performing any manner of Background work WHATSOEVER, our warm-hearted AD appealed to our Second Team both compassionately (and financially).

“The UPM doesn’t want to risk our Lead Actor getting injured, so she’s really hoping that five of you would be willing to step up and participate in the “M” scene.  I can’t promise you that you’ll get a Contract or scripted dialogue, but you’d be doing us a huge favor!” she clasped her hands together pleadingly, as five of us immediately caved in.

So there I stood, a Background Actor.
Having successfully made the grade with the Wardrobe Department (who most wonderfully promised to have our garments cleaned by the next morning, and reminded us all to have a change of clothes on the day); having been (ironically) touched up by the Make-Up Department who took the time to take pictures prior to the filming (you’ll understand in a moment); and with a few takes to make sure that the beginning of the scene was clean, covered and in the can by the multi-cam operators, we prepared for the scripted final shot.

(And thus, I welcome you back to the beginning...)
“Are you completely comfortable using your left hand without breaking his nose?” a Very Mighty Power That Be asked me sincerely, as I stood stupidly on set in front of four cameras, trying VERY hard to process the logistics of the absurd situation and how on earth my world could have possibly evolved into such a profoundly surreal moment.

But WAIT!!!
Once again, my tale of timing requires yet a bit more backstory.

Flash back with me if you will... 

So there I stood as an adolescent in Indiana; pictures of my Teen Idol ripped from the pages of Tiger Beat magazine thumb-tacked to the corkboard on my bedroom wall.  (Dreamy!)

And then, there too I stood; standing-in on a Sit-Com (maybe ten years ago for nine episodes?) wherein I came to appreciate my former Teen Idol as a professional Director.  (Respect.)

But on this current day that I speak of (when apparently The Universe desired a belly-busting Cosmic chuckle that I shall FOREVER savor as a comedic Actress); I quietly listened patiently and professionally for my cue.
Granted I was deaf in one ear and blind in one eye, not to mention somewhat distracted by the chilly ooze of God-Knows-What drizzling down my cleavage, but by golly, I was going to hit my mark if it killed me!

And with one fell swoop (after a single word of dialogue from our Lead Actor) I physically bopped the crap out of my once Teen Idol with a full pan of chocolate cream pie smack dab in his face; a haphazard halo of graham cracker crust clinging stickily to his brow.  (Awesome!!!)

Now for those of you who’ve never experienced the joy of a real live pie fight amongst TEN people (prior to the Hero shot, and all new to me!), here’s a few tips. 

Number one; be prepared for the gooey floor to feel like a giant patch of slippery ice wherein you must tense up every muscle in your body to prevent falling down (yikes!). 
Number two; NOTHING can mentally prepare you for the first whack to the face, as although you’re anticipating the missile, that’s still a helluva shock to the cranium! 
And number three; cream pies have a unique way of lodging themselves in the most unlikely and unpleasant places of the human body...  (This is a lesson I learned over the course of the next six hours and forty-two minutes; as despite Wet Naps and hand towels (and my ponytail wadded up into a glue-like knot), I still had to finish out the day as a Stand-In, randomly clawing leftover chunks of goop off my head with my fingernails before we wrapped and I could go home to take a shower.)

Tonging some healthy fresh fruit at Craft Services the next morning (I know!  Never thought I’d be repulsed by a morning pastry in my lifetime!), I smiled politely at the Very Mighty Power That Be who strode into the room as I proceeded to immediately avert my eyes (as one in my job capacity is generally expected to do).

“Hey, thanks for agreeing to do the pie fight yesterday, Penny” the Nicest Power in the Whole Wide World smiled.  “That scene was so much fun to watch!” he continued pleasantly.  “And I can’t tell you what a giant relief it was to all of us to know that we have such a great team who we trust and are so excellent at their jobs!”

“I think we were all just happy to help!” I beamed sincerely as I subsequently took my leave and scampered off into the shadows as I am wont to do.
Ever so delighted to have had the experiences; phenomenally grateful for the financial Contract (!!!) from The Powers That Be, and never more thankful in my life for having actual running water in my home,
~Hollywood “pie-eyed” P (see below):



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bubble, Bubble

With a phial full of wishes, a dash of aspirations (and perhaps a tiny pinch of desperation?), I finally brewed up in my cauldron an official call time which evoked my earthly presence at a local Studio (for thirteen episodes of a recurring Sit-Com in its third Season!!!).
Oh, I was already a-tingle as the Magic of Hollywood welcomed me once again into its bewitching environment...
There would be food!  There would be paychecks!  There would be all manner of cackling laughter!  (And did I mention there would be FOOD?) 
Yes, my cauldron doth bubble over! 
I’d already previously met the Cast on this particular show, and with the knowledge that my young Actor (22?) is an absolutely lovely lad (yes, I’ve been hired to stand-in for a male -- which really doesn’t seem to matter on a cable TV budget) I profoundly thanked The Universe profusely for my multitudes of bounty and blessed good fortune.
And with all due proper respect and gratitude for my penultimate night of personal mischief and mayhem last week, I ethereally wafted past the gargoyles in my living room; and reassembling my human form in the kitchen, I concocted an enchanting celebratory potion into a ruby glass goblet filled with eye of newt and toe of frog.  (Or, ya know, just voddy and diet tonic.) 
But yes, the Magic of Hollywood was a-swirl around me! 
Oh, I could feel the energy pulsating through my veins at the thrill of my upcoming adventures! 
I could almost mystically see into the future and practically taste the sweetness of fresh fruit and a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes and bacon! 
Why, I could even smell the stale coffee grounds of...
Wait:  What the Hell was that SMELL???
Personally, I don’t like or drink coffee, but the indistinguishable “aroma” (stench to me) of the caffeinated bean had surreptitiously shrouded my presence and had begun on its own to ephemerally waft about my bat cave...
Good Heavens, what had I done?  After all, I’ve only ever used my mystic gifts for the greater good, but had my personal selfish wishes for financial gain caused some sort of brimstone pyre to ignite from the Netherworld?  Did I somehow upset the delicate balance of Good vs. Evil in my Sanctuary?  Was I being punished for dreaming huge of spectacular breakfasts and paychecks, without a proper appreciation for basically eight months of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at home? 
Standing motionless clutching my ruby red goblet, my cauldron (in this case, my kitchen basin), sans syrup of ipecac, involuntarily spit up on itself.

Oh but of course I was being ridiculous and making far too much out of the moment. 
After all, my singular new gainful employment back into the wondrous world of Hollywood couldn’t possibly upset The Universe, as I was but an insignificant twig on a branch of the Tinsel Town tree yearning for nothing more than to sprout and feed.

Whilst I hadn’t necessarily been craving any food in particular at that precise enchanted moment, there next erupted the remnants of someone else’s supper from upstairs in the apartment building; once again bubbling down (and up) into my cauldron, and most unpleasantly leaving a greasy green residue of cilantro and a smattering of corn nibblets.
Now, whilst I’m forever a proponent for believing that The Universe conspires to assist us, my cauldron was on the verge of just being creepy.
Clearly my Yin and Yang were out of sync, and whilst I’ve avoided my Landlords as much as possible in order to protect the sanctity of my Sanctuary, I was probably going to have to request another plumber from Son of Deceased Landlord Yang.   (You have to love the irony of the surname). 
Oh, but yuck – yet another person in my home?  Couldn’t I just buy some Drano or bleach, or cast a spell over my garbage disposal with wing of bat?  (I have some unused left-over eye of newt!)

Yep, my cauldron didst indeed bubble over...
On the work front, I’m delighted to inform you that I’ve been blessed with a great group of people that I know and love.  My second day involved a whopping 13 plus hours (a brutal shock to the system, but I couldn’t have been happier!), and with twelve more episodes, I’m excited to see what the future may bring.   
I even acquired my very first Security Pass at this Studio!  (It took me two tries as my incantations where incorrect regarding paperwork – plus apparently I needed the signature of an Authorized Production Wizard – but my wish finally came true!) 
And to top off an absolutely exquisite day of overtime pay, Son of Deceased Landlord Yang had indeed invoked the presence of someone who fixed my bubbling cauldron:

Yes, my Yin and Yang were once again in sink, um, that is to say, in sync!
And with a few (OK, a LOT) of swipes with a Mister Clean Magic Eraser (best product in the whole wide world whatever created), all evidence of a greasy-pawed mechanical-monkey in my Sanctuary disappeared as though the mere mortal had never even been there.  JOY!  
Now, I’m not entirely sure why the darkness must always bubble into the light. 
Sure, I get that Nature has a delicate balance and I respect that.
But sometimes we need a greater force of Goodness on our side in order to triumph over the bleak.
“I can’t do it” I whimpered to my friend Kathila at work.  “I can’t open the envelopes...  Please help?” I woefully besieged my dear friend who is a God-Given Angel, and whom Evil would never deign to touch.  (Although trust me, she’s a hard-core New Yorker and doesn’t put up with any shit.)  “What do they say?” I whimpered as I cowered in my chair, trusting that whatever demons may lay waiting, Kathila would easily and effortlessly slay.
“Well... this is not so bad!” she rallied at the first disclosure.  (A force of Goodness, I tell you!) 
Yes, kind readers, the EDD saga continued:

(Oh, and did I mention that I received two more forms the next day?  Awesome.)
With one more giant manila envelope, yet another USPS tracer and seven copies of my last Residual Statements copied, stapled separately to a hand-written letter and highlighted to reflect all important information; as well as my entire parcel of triplicate (?) quadruplicate (?) forms, I shipped off my paperwork and let it go.
And then the true Magic happened...
As of last Friday, the EDD has (all by itself!) opened a new claim for me for 2014 to assist in my hiatus weeks; the only additional form I received was for the first week of this year; and by the Grace of God, my AD texted me with the next call time at the Studio -- where I shall be blessed to ethereally waft past the Background Actors waiting to check in at the Security Gate -- and once again reassemble my human form on the sound stage where I belong.
Moderately terrified to admit to being happy lest lightening smite me,
~Truly Blessed and Temporarily Trouble-Free P

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ab Ovo


Giddy with the excitement of seeing a call sheet in my computer’s inbox from the Production Company at the Studio, I eagerly clicked open the attachment to prove my worth as a once again valid employee contributing to society! 
Were my unique services actually required a week in advance prior to my start-up date?  Might I somehow be meta-crucial to the needs of the Electricians and Gaffers?  Had I been specifically chosen to receive an additional week of work as a grandiose act of Kindness from The Powers That Be? 

Well... that would be a big fat no, no and no.
In fact (and obviously I’m been away from having a series for way too long to not remember the basics), the call sheet rightfully included only Construction/Set Dressing/Prep; Grip and Electric/Prep at 6am as well as Wardrobe at 9am.

Oh, but by the mere inclusion of the email, I finally had a straw to cling to!  “Unemployment, schmunemployment!”  I shouted happily to The Universe.  “Enough with the government forms and red-tape gobbledygook” I raised my fist triumphantly in a grand symbolic gesture for all those who suffer from oppression.  “We shall overcome!” I announced to the world and all of the hypocritical tyrants!  (Well, “announced” may be a bit of a stretch, as I didn’t wish to wake anyone.)
But ecstatic at the thought of a brand new year, a fresh beginning and delighted to toss away all of the intolerable yucky suckiness that was 2013 for myself (and far too many of my friends), I charged into the evening to throw away the contents of my trash can -- accidentally scaring the crap out of my neighbor’s teen-aged grandson who had snuck out to text a friend, and who was clearly not expecting a bespectacled red-head in a “Wonder Woman” snuggie shod in sensible loafers wielding a Hefty bag -- and proceeded to collect my snail mail.  (I can’t help but “wonder” what his next text might’ve said?)

Still full of joy, I traipsed gleefully to the mail boxes inside my security gate, and key in hand, pulled out a fistful of envelopes. 

Were some friends or family perhaps belated in sending Christmas cards or Birthday wishes?  Might I have a random bill due?  Had I been specifically chosen to receive a blessed residual check for a TV show re-run by The Powers That Be?
Well... that would be a big fat no, no and no.

Welcome to the gruesome innards of my mail box:

Spectacular, no? 
Yes kind readers, the EDD has thus sent me SIX forms to be mailed on January 2nd to Sacramento, which incidentally, were mailed to me – per the postage on the envelopes – from San Bernardino ON the second of January.

But wait, there’s more!
Additionally, as the Great State of California wishes to bundle my work efforts in seeking employment, plus official documentation of residual checks and any money sustained between 10/13/13 and 12/28/13 on all SIX forms, I’ve been knighted with the greatest possible noble task of filling in the following information on the back of each sheet since Question #3, Section B requires my “work search record”.

These delightful categories include the following: 
“Date Applied.  Company Name.  Company Address.  Person Contacted.  Type of Work Applied For.  Results: Please explain.”

Date applied?  What, did I walk into a restaurant with a resume in the 1950’s where I never served a table?  (Um, ever heard of email or texting?)
Company Name?  Company Address? 

Well, until I get officially hired, I never know the title of the Production Company or where and at which studio lot we will film; nor can I brazenly stride past the Security Gates to randomly chat with Casting Directors, Producers and miscellaneous Powers That Be who might be working over the Holidays.
Person Contacted, Type of Work Applied For and Results:  Please Explain: 

Oh, I’ll explain it alright... (Insert possible grand symbolic gesture of raising a “fist”.)
Yes, as evidenced by a photo taken by my Dad some years ago, I’m forever a little fighter by birth!

(My Mom and the tiny bundle of terror that was myopic me, already trying to make sense.)

To my knowledge, I spent approximately five f***ing hours filling out forms; and have now Xeroxed, documented, bundled and had a tracer placed on the large manila envelope sent today to Sacramento.  I’ve done my due diligence, and to this end I can only hope that the nightmare is over, the Government is appeased and I can acquire a modicum of sleep.
Sometimes I just want to throw my dress over my head and call it a day...

(Some things never change!)
Very much looking forward to working next week,

~Penny-pinched P