Archive Page 2

Cranky As Divorcee

Cranky is in transition. And women in transition have to be careful. I’ve seen it before. A woman used to having a man around will settle for the nearest thing at hand just to fill the newly emptied space in her life. I had a friend who lost her husband at age 40 and dated wildly inappropriate men for a while. Seriously, she would have brought home the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Hunchback could have been sitting in her living room drooling and she would look at him and think, “I can make this work. From some angles he looks OK. He’s not so bad in this light.”

So I know I must be careful not to fall into cliché newly divorced will date weirdoes category.

Last night when I was walking my little black dog down the street I reached the corner and saw a busboy who was getting off duty from the local pub. “Hello” he said. “Hi” I said back and continued on. Two blocks later he pulled up beside me on his bicycle. “You bootiful lady,” he says, “you have boyfriend?”

And for a moment time freezes and I wonder what would happen if I took Jose home? I flash forward in my mind to mornings a month from now. I am leaving for work in the morning. “Did you make the beds Jose? What are you making for dinner tonight? Don’t forget to do the dishes.” (His specialty) Sort of Brooklyn version of a pool boy. And we would never fight because he can’t understand a word I say. I could make this work. Maybe I could.

I come back to reality and hear his words in my head, “You have boyfriend?” “No,” I answer, “We broke up. I’m in mourning, I can’t talk.”

He looks at me with a confused look and drives his bicycle away. I know it was a ridiculous thing to say, but sometimes Cranky just says things to entertain herself.

Commercial Audition Freaks Cranky Out

Cranky had a commercial audition this week. And without fail, commercial auditions are completely fucking retarded. Seriously.

And of course when I got up in the morning there was a mystery bump on my face. Mystery bumps always seem to pop out the day of an on camera audition. Why why why?

Had an appointment at Three of Us Studios. Get there and it is a morass of women of the same age range on a serpentine line just to sign in. Really? Everyone is Asian except for me and one other gal – so I know we are the token Caucasians. Just so the NAACP doesn’t come down on them. National Association of Caucasian Persons. Because the Caucasian middle age white ladies really do need help in the commercial world. Actually this one needs mental help to make it through the audition.

At sign in I am given a board with my name and a number. Then I am brought into the room with eight other women and lined up against the wall to wait my turn. The stone face clients are sitting behind a table. Nobody is saying nothing. You can hear a pin drop in the room. Really? If I am going to make an ass of myself auditioning for your commercial, at least act like you are engaged. The room is dim. The nervousness of each woman as they take their turn in front of the camera is palpable. They are rushing because they are behind. So nurturing for artists, you think?

A woman whose job description I think is “herder” keeps coming in and shoving us down the wall to make room for more victims.

Finally it is Cranky’s turn. Cranky hates reverent silence and must be irreverent at all costs to feel like a semblance of herself. The camera guy asks me to hold the board under my face while he takes my picture. I lock eyes with him and say, “You know this all feels very Nick Nolte.” At least I made him laugh and broke the horrible horrible silence. “I know,” he says, “just don’t let it show on your face.” Then I turn for the profile shot. Then a close up of my hands. OH NO! Not the hands! My nails and cuticles look like they’ve been through a blender. I had a friend who went out for a lot of commercials, and every time she had a call to go on, got a facial and a manicure the day before. Now I know why, but I’m not sure if working in commercials ended up profitable for her.

But the hands were not the worst of it. Next was the video camera. “State your name, your agency and give us your best dance moves.” Your best dance moves in a silent room with the stone face people. YOUR BEST DANCE MOVES! This, as they say in “Tropic Thunder” is FULL RETARD. But it pays pays pays. So Cranky hears the song Money, Money, Money in her head and dances to it. In retrospect, my dance moves were a bit too pole dancey for the mom in a cell phone commercial. Yeah I guess they were. But I closed my eyes and went for it. The specter of dollar bills dancing in my head.

As I was leaving, I pass a room that was auditioning kids for a commercial. The kids are all hanging out by the door to the audition room, and there is actually a girl of about eight wearing a black sequined beret. How sad. Actor kids are such freakazoids. Take your kid home and let them play after school and get dirty. The precious actor thing looks kinda unnatural on a kid, you know? It is bad enough on adults. Of which I admit I am one.

And now it is Saturday and now it is over and I think I will spring for eight bucks and get a manicure. Because us freakazoid actors always have to be ready as they say.

Grammy’s With the Gays Saves the Day

Cranky fell apart last week. Why? Cranky’s husband took a powder that’s why. Cranky’s usual powers of concentration were gone gone.

I had a few incidents that made me doubt my sanity. Which takes a lot because Cranky already accepts that she’s a bit crazy. But I was saved. Thank goodness for the gays.

But I digress.

Last week. Had a meeting with my boss and an important luncheon. And the running question all day that my boss had was; “Where is my manila envelope with the information I need to write the proposal?” “Ah, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it,” answered Cranky. “Are you sure?” asked my boss. “Never saw it,” I say. This goes on all day. We search the car. We search my partner’s car. At the end of the day the boss puts me in a car and has her assistant drive me all the way to the Westchester office to see if she left it there. It is 7:00 at night. It’s an empty warehouse building. I unlock three doors, turn on lights in the pitch-black building and turn off the alarm system. The “envelope” is not there. The assistant drops me at the train and one minute before my train to Grand Central arrives I get a text from my boss: “Are you SURE you don’t have it?” I give out an exasperated sigh and open my briefcase. There it is. It is a folder, not an envelope, which is what I was looking for all day. I text my boss back: The fucking folder is in my fucking briefcase.” She calls me,” Get in a cab and bring it to me.” So I get in brand X car service car and go from one Westchester town to another to find the restaurant she is in now. My boss talks really really fast and I cannot understand the name of the restaurant or the address. And I can’t keep saying, “What what what?” because even if the other person is completely unintelligible, if you keep saying “what what what?” they think you are the stupid one. So I end up doing multiple U-turns on a dark suburban street while the Hispanic driver looks at me like I’m a complete idiot. By the third phone call I ascertain that she had given me the wrong street name. It was Envelope. Just kidding.

The next day I go to work to find out that I had entered the wrong code into the alarm and the police came and we are being charged one hundred and fifty bucks for the unnecessary visit. The landlord is happy because he hates me and has the whole thing on tape from the security camera. “She was in the building for six minutes!” I can hear him yelling up and down the hall.

Then I did background work on “Damages” on my day off and left my wallet on the roof when I went up there to take pictures of the view. My wallet. On the roof. A crew member by some miracle found it and gave it to me. I was completely unaware that I had lost it.

I guess I had lost it in more ways than one.

But then I got to watch “The Grammy’s” with the gays. They set Cranky straight. “It’s all about moving past it,” they tell me. “We have to find you a song.” They were SO FUN. And Cranky found some perfect songs. That darling Taylor Swift really hit the nail on the head with that “Mean” song. And Adele gave me chills with her “Rolling in the Deep” performance. They are on my IPod now and I play them every morning when I get ready for work.

I was feeling better already. “WE COULD’VE HAD IT ALL…….”

Tweet Yourself to an Evening of Theater?

Last week in The New York Times Peter Funt reported that theaters are now creating tweet seats so the umbilically electronically attached may tweet on Twitter during performances. Really? This makes Cranky like crazy cranky. STOP. NO! Dear Mr. Funt titled his article “Theater for Twits.” A man after mine own heart.

Exactly what is the world coming to? I ask you. Why why why would they change the etiquette of the theater to accommodate what teenagers are doing walking up and down the sidewalk?

People need to learn the proper etiquette of theater going, and adapt themselves to that. Not the other way around.

I once witnessed a family of five try to bring five full Happy Meals complete with humongous beverages into the theater to see “Spiderman.” They didn’t know. The door guy told them they couldn’t bring them in. Next time they will know. It was their first time at the theater, and contrary to what happens in a movie theater, there are actually live people on the stage who need to be heard and can hear you. There is a first time for everyone. I know a guy who saw his first Broadway show at three years old-but he is city people and we all know they are not the norm. I saw my first Broadway show as a teenager when a friend brought me to see her father in a play. Of course Cranky was immediately entranced – hence a life of suffering in the theater.

Tweeting at the theater is wrong on so many levels. What’s next? A sleeping section complete with reclining seats for recalcitrant husbands who didn’t want to go to the theater in the first place? “This is more like it,” says the husband as he kicks back and pulls the lever on his Lazy boy theater seat and reclines away his evening of theater.

Or sections in restaurants for people who want to chew with their mouth open? “This is great!” says the customer as bits of food fly out of his mouth hitting the other open mouth eaters beside him.

I’m sad to say The Public Theater was one of the theaters with Tweet seats.

I wonder who was the first one to tell the actors about this? Were they in the dressing room about to go onstage? I just love when someone drops a bomb right before you go onstage. “SO AND SO IS IN THE AUDIENCE!” Great. Thanks. Now I will be completely self-conscious and not be able to think about anything else throughout the entire show.

I can just see it. “Oh, guys, ah, hey,” says the assistant director. (Poor AD’s always have to do these things.) “Um, ah, we have Tweet Seats in the theater now, so if you see something glowing in the audience, just ignore it.”

Does anyone besides actors realize the depths of an actor’s paranoia? You know that that night onstage every time an actor caught a hint of a glimmer in the audience they were thinking; “Are they tweeting about me? Are they making fun of me? Maybe if I was more interesting they would stop tweeting.”

Hello Public Theater! Actors spend years developing their craft and they have to put up with this crap? How about some “Respect for The Theater” as Uta Hagen says?

Is this a technological return to pre-Wagnerian theater? Are we technologically recreating audiences more interested in talking to each other than watching and listening to the show? Wagner was the one who insisted that the house lights be turned off so the audience had to focus on his music. He felt his music was important and the audience needed to listen to it instead of talking to each other and visiting each other’s box seats. You go Wagner dude. I’m with you.

A Cranky Thanksgiving Story

Cranky’s husband has taken a powder. Which is why Cranky’s life has turned into an episode of “Two Broke Girls” or actually the Cranky version, which is “One Broke Girl and Her Dog.” Every week, I compare my bank account with theirs. 632.23? You go girls! So Cranky has had to hustle for money to put food on the table and in the dog bowl. After applying for like a light year’s amount of jobs, Cranky got hired by a company that supplies personal assistants to rich people. Which is really the perfect thing for this economy. A direct redistribution of wealth. If we cannot tax the rich we can at least get them to pay us a nice chunk of change for rearranging the Birkin bags in their closets. It’s all very Robin Hood like. The tagline for the company should be “Takes From the Rich and Give to the Poor.”

So off I go on my first assignment on the Upper East Side, natch.

I get there at 9 a.m. and it seems no one is home. 9:05 no one there. 9:10-nope, nobody. The uniform doorman shrugs his shoulders. 9:15-nothin’. Then the doorman asks another building employee about her. “Oh her?” he says, ‘She’s in the gym.” Doorman calls the gym. “She says to wait,” he says. Thanks, got that. Would I ever in my life do that to someone? No. But I have never in my life had a personal assistant.

So to sum up the day. The client spent the entire day trying to decide whether she should go to Rancho La Puerta or the mental hospital. Cranky could not make this up. RANCHO LA PUERTA SPA OR THE MENTAL HOSPITAL.

The plan was for me to organize her office. What actually happened was doctors kept calling to tell her to check herself in to the psych ward.

The phone rings. “Hello?” she says, “A locked ward? I don’t know. I don’t know. Well, I have a tennis game on Tuesday, I’m not sure if I can find a sub.” She turns to me. “He hung up on me. He’s not very nurturing.” Then she stops and brings her face close to mine and while gently moving her face back and forth asks, “Do I look crazy to you?”

Why the universe puts Cranky in these situations I will never know. Maybe it’s because Cranky has a sense of humor and the universe knows Cranky will appreciate it. Anyway, Cranky answers tentatively, “Not really,”

“I don’t?” she says.

“Well,” I say, “ I’ve been around depressed people and usually they can’t do anything. You play tennis and go to the gym. You don’t seem very high on the depression scale to me.”

The phone rings again.

She answers. “Hello? Yes I am thinking about it. I don’t know. Well maybe. If I check myself in can you guarantee I’ll be out by Friday afternoon? I have a big dinner that night.”

So the day is spent with the client sitting with her hands on my knee asking me what she should do. “I think I should just go to Rancho La Puerta instead. I mean, they have a structured environment there. Maybe I just need a rest. But I don’t know if I should go alone.” A pause. A long stare at Cranky. “It might be better to have someone with me.”

Now Cranky loves a spa as much as anyone. The people in the white robes and the new age music remind Cranky of the afterlife, but all the shiatsu in the world could not reverse the psychic cloud surrounding this woman, so I swivel in my chair and look down.

She invites me to lunch. As we are entering, she says; “We’ll split something.” I am on the Upper East Side. The bastion of rich women who eat nothing and are cheap cheap cheap. So she orders a lunch special and we pick at it. I keep asking for refills of the teapot to fill myself up.

When we return, I do my one task of the day. I make out a check for a kid having his Bar Mitzvah and write a card. As I am writing, I realize that I have been out socially with the Mom. It is a classic reversal of fortune moment. A few months ago I was a happy wife. Now there I sat, poor, alone, listening quietly to a crazy rich woman who has all the material things anyone could ever want, who can’t decide whether to go to the nuthouse or to Rancho La Puerta, and I see, in spite of everything I am still lucky.

Last Day of the Webisodes

Cranky had her last day of shooting the webisodes last week. I can’t believe we made it though all eight episodes. Amazing. Everyday there were grumbles among the crew about leaving. The sound guy said he couldn’t make the last day. Early on, one of the producers kept telling the crew to stick it out. Then she decided to actually show up on set and work with the production. She lasted two days, then she split.

Then the last day was pushed up by five days. Nothing was ready. There was stuff to be built. Wardrobe to pull. I got an email from the wardrobe person that used the word HAVOC. I had been scheduled to work that day and since money trumps webisodes, I had to go to work. So the whole day had to be shifted for a later call time – 5pm. Oh oh. We know what that means, an all-nighter. Cranky becomes non compos mentis after 1am. That’s it. I’m done. I’m either laughing or sleeping. Speaking of sleeping, one day on the set I was doing a scene that takes place in a spa bed. And Cranky actually fell asleep between takes. I swear. I woke up to hear the word “ACTION!” It was very surreal. And Cranky remembered her lines! Another webisode miracle.

So I show up on set and set pieces are in the process of being built on the sidewalk. The makeup and hair people have total pusses on. When my hair is being done it is completely fried by the hair lady who keeps it in the curling iron like FOREVER. But the puss makes Cranky afraid to say anything. Curl, fry, smoke, curl, fry, smoke, curl, fry, smoke, over and over to my poor hair. Which means I will have to get an extra, unscheduled haircut to undo the damage.

We have about three days worth of work to do in one day, or night I should say. But it is webisode world, and the producer got the space for free, and this is the day we got it, so it is do or die. The space is a regular sound stage and we needed a place to shoot scenes that take place on the set of a soap opera. Cranky is playing a soap star. They actually made a mock magazine cover with my face on it. I know it’s stupid, but it is still on my coffee table. Like maybe it is true and not just a prop.

All my first scenes of the day take place in a hospital bed. Hospitals are big on soap operas where there is always a crisis or a shooting. Or a coma. One of the crew lends me his Soduku book so I have something to do for the hours in the hospital bed. Of course, as an actress, I hate the fact that I have practically no makeup on because I am in a hospital. I was in a hospital once. I put on makeup EVERDAY. And earrings. And a velvet robe. I told them that, but they said that it was not normal. Really? Cranky is not normal? So I got no makeup.

Then around 1am it was time to get ready for the wedding scene. Cranky is the fucking bride. I kid you not. I am sure that by this hour Cranky looks like Miss Havisham in a white veil. And both dress choices are strapless and I have to figure out a way to keep my breasts from getting out of control and spilling out everywhere. And Cranky has always said no one over forty should wear a strapless dress. And here I am being FILMED in one. But the wardrobe person tells me we are lucky to have ANYTHING. FOR NO MONEY.
So in the words of Tim Gunn I have to make it work. I keep trying to get the veil to cover my armpits. At this point a Burka/veil would be much appreciated.

I go downstairs to the room that they have been furiously decorating for the wedding scene. There are like forty extras in the scene. The first time we run the scene I am walked down the aisle by a man and all the extras stand. And I can’t believe this faux wedding brings tears to Cranky’s eyes. Seriously, how lame. Cranky is crying at her own fake soap opera wedding. Because Cranky never had a wedding and right now Cranky thinks her husband hates her. So I am thinking, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. You stupid idiot! Don’t Cry!” I try thinking about the latest episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It takes three takes to stop the tears from happening on the walk down the aisle.

Then I realize that I know the story line, and that my fellow actors the forty extras DON’T. So they don’t know that when I do the soap opera scenes I am doing kind of over the top bad acting. Oh no!! So between Takes I am on the stage by the priest and I stop everything. I say; “EXCUSE ME! I HAVE TO MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT! I AM NOT A BAD ACTRESS. I JUST PLAY ONE ON TV.”

I couldn’t help myself-or my ego couldn’t help itself.

So the working on the webisodes is over now. And it was a big pain in the ass. And like every actress I am so sad that it is over and I miss it like crazy.

Acting in August-Webisode Hell

Cranky is working on some webisodes. I don’t know if anyone gives a crap about webisodes, but as there are no other acting jobs flying my way what the hell. And as an added inducement Mr. Inscrutable is directing. And he has a real live Emmy sitting on his desk. Which reminds me. I must add this to my resume and put DIRECTED BY EMMY WINNING DIRECTOR _______________. Because I am an actress and must take advantage of anything that sounds good.

And right now “sounds good” is about the aptest description for shooting webisodes. But as my dear friend Lisa from Chicago says, “Making the sausage is never fun but the result will be.” This is my daily mantra as I sit sweating in full makeup in August heat waiting waiting waiting for shooting to BEGIN. Every fucking day. Three hours. Four hours. Some days I am in makeup already when the crew arrives. What is wrong with this picture?

And the criminal acts I must commit to keep going. Like driving without a license. I know. I know. How crazy. But the queen of the subways doesn’t need a car.

So anyway, one day on the set they want to film me pulling into a parking space. The first time I do it I keep pumping the brake out of fear so me and the passenger actress look like two bobble heads on camera. Finally, I get the hang of it and I look at my co-star and say, “My motivation in this scene is not to get arrested.” Then after like ten takes my blood turns to ice when a cop car pulls up in front of us and a policeman gets out. “It’s happening” I think, “It’s happening.” There is nothing to do. Nowhere to go. And then the cop goes into the ATM to get cash and I realize I’m not going to jail. Whew.

The best day was the day the producer procured a Mariachi band to provide atmosphere the Mexican Restaurant scene shot in an Irish bar. Where did she meet them? Playing in the subway of course. So six guys three feet tall in cowboy hats show up on set. And as usual we are waiting waiting waiting so the Mexican Mariachi men buy Irish beers and keep buying them the entire three hours we are waiting.

It comes time to shoot. They are each directed (with a translator) to do actions involving writing on a piece of paper, carrying it across the room, reading from it and then turning it around and showing it to me. And Cranky is thinking, “Uh-huh. Good luck.”

Ok then. Everyone is ready, SLATE, Sound – SPEED. Camera- ROLLING. And the director yells, “ACTION!” And there is complete and utter silence. The only movement is the gently swaying of six cowboy hats on the heads of the three feet tall Mariachi men. It all seems so Felliniesque.

After much yelling and translating, yelling and translating, yelling and translating, their action is changed to standing still holding a piece of paper.

I could have told them that. This is why I took technique. This is why all actors study. The simplest tasks are impossible for the layman on camera or on a stage. DUH!

We get through the scene and the subway Mariachi band is wrapped. They go outside. They refuse to leave. They are demanding money because they had to wait. They are told that they were told that there was no money involved.

We continue shooting inside and one of them deliberately comes in and walks through the shot. As if to say, “I may be three feet tall but I can still make TROUBLE.”

After we finish I go outside just at the right moment. A wad of cash is being handed over to the Mariachis.

What does this mean? It means that they are being paid to leave, and that Cranky is not getting one fucking penny TO STAY!



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