Archive Page 2

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!

Not Another Student Film!

Cranky is doing her eight hundredth graduate school film this weekend. I figured graduate school – its gotta be good. They use Bob Giraldi’s DP and sound guy. I got the lead part. Sounds OK. Right?

OF COURSE NOT.

“Oh yes. We have a producer and a wardrobe person and hair and makeup,” the director said. Love that. Love when they are taking care of the actors. I had great expectations.

Until the wardrobe person actually called. Four days before the shoot. Completely unintelligible.

The phone rings.

“Ah, hello. Is this Cwankery?” says the voice on the phone.

“Um, this is CRANKY,” I say.

“Oh, yes Cwankery this is Naohagalaga. You playing housekeeper. I need to get uniform,” she says.

“I’m not playing the housekeeper”, I say.

“No director say you need a uniform,” she says, “Housekeeper?”

“But I’m not playing the housekeeper”, I say.

“Do you know who is playing the lead?” she says.

“That would be me,” I answer.

“I need to get you uniform?” she says.

“But I’m not playing the housekeeper,” I say.

“Oh. Do you know who’s playing the housekeeper?” she asks.

“No,” I say, “Why don’t you ask the director.”

“Do you have the director’s phone number?” she asks.

This is a first. The wardrobe lady is asking me for the director’s phone number. Seriously.

Then I get a call from the director. I had agreed to go and have a few pictures taken with the guy playing my husband and the guy playing my son for photos around the house so he is calling to schedule that. It was fine with me until he wants me to go an hour into New Jersey by train to take the pictures. “Why can’t we do them in the city?” I ask. “Because the guy playing your husband can’t leave Jersey,” he says. “Why? I answer, “is he under house arrest? Does he have an ankle bracelet?”

Of course not. He doesn’t WANT to leave New Jersey. He is a friend of the director’s parents who has agreed to play my DEAD husband who has no lines in the film so of course he has more power than I do because who the hell can you get to play the dead husband with no lines and one flashback scene?

Then I get the shooting schedule from the previously unheard from producer. All the scenes are marked by scene numbers. But there are no scene numbers in the script, only page numbers. I can’t tell which scene is which and I am in every fucking one of them. I have a million different outfits to figure out and all Naohagalaga can do is buy a uniform. I email the producer to please send me a script using page numbers as there are no scene numbers on the script and she writes me back that she can’t change the script.

HUH?

For this I am losing quality time with my dog?

Wish me luck.

PS – Of course after all this it came out fab. It is now one of my fav roles.

The Putrid Pyramid

I have noticed interesting phenomena on my blog. The most popular search that brings people to my blog is “I am so depressed I can’t function.” I have one post about being depressed. Of course being Cranky, I make a joke about the whole depression thing. I am sure that the depression post is disappointing to people actually looking for real help with the depression. As a matter of fact, one reader was so angered by the whole thing; he suggested that I should go kill myself. Nice. He didn’t get the joke I guess. But I think being depressed is more highly likely now because of the crappy economy. At least that is my excuse. And the crappy economy is causing another phenomena. Formerly totally sane people are now desperately getting involved with pyramid schemes and pushing them on me with a glazed look in their eyes. And they are not just people. They are friends. Real friends. Which makes it all the more embarrassing and AWKWARD.

Like the time I met a lovely couple I know for coffee at a Starbucks in the Village and before I even took a sip of my cappuccino they had whipped out an Arbonne bag full of products and started the schpiel. “We want you to take it home. We know you’ll love it. The products are all natural. They’re made in Switzerland!” What the hell could I do? It’s all so embarrassing. What a nuisance. If you take the kit home you then have to arrange to meet again soon to give it back. What a pain in my ass. But of course Saint Cranky of Avoid Confrontation took the fucking bag home, didn’t try anything, returned it, ordered something, and then threw it away when I got it, just to get them off my back.

This is bad.

Now every time I go to the hairdresser the front desk receptionist slips me his card while I am trying to pay and tells me about his great web page where I can buy lots of products and lots of brands and get lots of discounts.  “Everyone loves a bargain, right?”  He says it every single time.  Must  have been in the training brochure.

Then last week another formerly sane friend called me. “Could you look at my new website?” she asked. Well of course I can. I’m an actress and I have probably asked you to read my blog, look at my reel, check out my web page, blah blah blah, so I am all about quid pro quo. I go to her new website and my heart sinks when I realize it is a travel club pyramid scheme. OH NO. There is a membership fee, a monthly fee and the possibility of winning dream vacations when you get others to join. The video is complete with excerpts from the loser conventions they hold with the pyramid scheme inspirational speaker and the drank the Kool Aid audience enthusiastically applauding his every word and dreaming of quitting their jobs and making six figures DOING NOTHING.

Dear God please let her not call back. Please please! Pretty please? The phone rings. My friend has turned into an unrecognizable high on enthusiasm and hope sounding person. “What was more attractive to you? The travel or the money?” “Ah, I don’t know….”I answer. “See! I knew it! They are both so great you can’t decide!” (Not really I am thinking. Cranky is a bad traveler and an even worse salesperson.) But there is no opening for me to say ANYTHING. “Wait! Wait! There is someone I want you to talk to!” And the next thing I know she has called some guy in Arizona and he starts talking to me about how he makes six figures now and all his dreams have come true. “Wouldn’t you like more time?” he asks. Ah, right now all I want is a way to figure out how the hell to end this phone call. It goes on and on. I am pacing in my living room. “Its never gonna end,” I think. “They are never going to let me off the phone. Not until I sign up. This is torture.”

Ten torturous minutes later he is telling me about this fabulous place he got to stay in in Rome. I was in Rome. I missed my dog. Aha! Dog dog dog. Bring up the dog. “Um, ah, listen, I’m sorry, I need to take my dog out. I was supposed to take her out an hour ago. Bye.” And I hang up. I know that was lame. But I couldn’t help it. I was desperate. I was losing my mind.

I’ve gotten four messages from the friend since, and I am afraid to call back. In her last message she apologized and said she was depressed and joined it because it gave her something to be hopeful about. That’s more like it. I might be ready to call her back by next week now.

Then on Thursday I was walking home from Gristedes and ran into a lovely gal I know who has a dog who plays with my dog. Neither of us had our dogs, but she came running towards me anyway. “I HAVE A NEW BUSINESS! I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT! I WAS THINKING ABOUT YOU!” A bit more intimate then our fellow dog owner relationship warranted I thought. And then she dropped he bomb. The new business? Arbonne. ARBONNE!!!

“Look at my skin! Doesn’t it look great? I can’t believe it! Right? They’re all natural. They’re made in Switzerland.”

The whole time I am listening to this I am thinking about my dog again. Saint Cranky of Avoid Confrontation is wondering where I am going to walk the dog now.

My Dog Meets A Rock Star

Cranky has decided to try to get some background work.   Have to think of someway to make some dough after parting ways with Oscar the crazy boss. I was having nightmares that included close-ups of seeing his fungus fingernail pointing at the computer screen and him saying: “How about that one?” about some beautiful young woman on match.com.

I haven’t done any background in years because I felt it simulated the experience of being a homeless person because you end up being on the street for like twelve hours. It’s hard to have studied Stanislavsky and then get paid to basically be a piece of furniture that moves itself.  But tough times require that you suck it up.

So this is how my dog met a rock star. They needed a black terrier type dog. So I sent Lu’s portrait. I got a call saying to stay by my phone because the rock star had to approve the dog. The next day I was told to report to the Upper East Side where the rock star is directing a film.

When I got there they told me there was another dog in the running and there would be FINAL approval for one dog. So now it is a dog eat dog situation. Hate that, but since I am SAG will get paid if I work or don’t work, so WHATEVER.

Little Lu and I are brought to the lobby of a building on Park Avenue. The rock star is seated in the lobby. Starbucks in hand. I figure she is like Rachel Zoë and Anna Wintour who are never seen to consume ANYTHING except the non-fat latte. Although someone told me they once saw Rachel Zoë eat a piece of GUM. I digress.

So I casually sit down opposite her and when she is not looking I must analyze her outfit. Blue training trousers with the white stripe down the side – the one thousand dollar version that Jay Z might wear. A lovely Argyle sweater- triple knit cashmere. White sneakers that are vented on the side also very expensive looking somehow. And giant Poindexter glasses to fit the intellectual endeavor of directing a movie and look SERIOUS. The master of reinvention has combined hip-hop, rock and roll and egghead into one outfit. Impressive.

The woman sitting next to her gives me and my dog a disdainful look and says with her best bitch face; “That’s a toy?” Cranky just shrugs her shoulders and doesn’t answer which is the best way to deal with such people.

The other dog comes in and it is GREY.

We are asked to go stand in the vestibule. The rock star comes over and asks my dog’s name. I tell her. She says; “What?” Which is understandable considering what multiple rock concerts will do to your eardrums. I repeat. Then she says; “So, whose dog is better behaved?” How do I know? The grey dog could be fucking Cujo for all I know. Are we supposed to compete with each other in espousing our dog’s etiquette skills? Cranky hates stupid questions. So Cranky squinted her eyes and sarcastically said; “My dog’s an angel.” Why can’t Cranky keep her mouth shut? Please tell me? So of course the rock star turns her back to me and says; “We’re using Dixie.” Dixie. The grey dog. Dixie, who I think they put black hair dye on to avoid using Cranky’s angel dog. Maybe if that other woman hadn’t given my dog a dirty look. Cranky loves her dog like in a crazy way.

As I am going to sign out the AD tells me to hang out for later street scenes. So I go to crafty and have a lovely made to order cheese and spinach omelet. And they have a JUICER so I have some fresh juice so I am now totally impressed with this operation.

And I am taught by the best how to navigate background work.

By hour five when my feet start hurting from my sandal heels a lovely actress looks at me and says; “Honey always bring thongs. Put them in a little bag and keep them with you.” By hour nine I am standing barefoot on the pavement. I am hoping I am not getting hookworm or some awful thing.

At dinner the lovely actress whips out a three-foot high stack of Tupper ware containers and fills them with the leftover food. “They’re just going to throw it away.” In five minutes they are filled, stacked, and securely tied in a plastic bag and sitting on the table. I love actors. Actors have been recession ready for years.

After dinner I am given a lesson on how to evacuate your bowels when getting up at five a.m. for an early call. “First you have to eat dinner at four thirty in the afternoon the day before. Not a morsel after that. Maybe some coffee. Senecot before bed. Then get up early and do some yoga and have a black coffee. It will clear you out. No way I can go on set. I cannot go in some Porta Potty. I cannot go in a public bathroom. I can have sex with other people but I CANNOT crap with other people.”

And I am taught that as background it doesn’t matter if you are used or not used. “Honey, some days you are box office poison. Some days they never use you. And then other days you are seated right next to the star because the color of your shirt looks good next to theirs. That’s what this boils down to. The color of your shirt.” Actors. Love them.

I am there for twelve hours. The other actors show me how to fill out my form. They explain overtime, penalties, etc. I get a voucher. I am getting prop dog pay, wardrobe change pay, night pay, time and half for two hours and double time for one hour and I DID NOT have to look at one fungus fingernail.

Oh Oscar Oscar Oscar

I realized today that my working life with Oscar has turned into my own little Becketesque “Waiting For Godot” hell.

Here is some sample dialogue:

Oscar
Would you boil some water please?

Me
What do you need the water for?

Oscar
I want tea.

(LONG PAUSE)

With milk.

Me
Do we have any cups?

Oscar
I don’t know.

(LONG PAUSE)

Why don’t you look.

(I LOOK)

Me
There aren’t any cups.

Oscar
I bought cups yesterday. I had enough cups to last a lifetime.

Me
Where are they?

Oscar
I left them home. I couldn’t manage to carry them.

(PAUSE)

What about the tea?

Me
I can’t make tea without a cup.

Oscar
Look. There must be something.

Me
There is nothing.

Oscar
Forget the tea.

Seriously this is giving me an existential crisis everyday. The futility of every task is too much for me to take even if I am getting paid for it.

Then later:

Oscar
I think my ex-wife has been stealing my dividend checks.

Me
Oh?

Oscar
Call the Bank of New York.

Me
Who should I call?

Oscar
I don’t know. Call them!

Me
Ah, do you have an account number or something?

Oscar
I don’t know.  I can’t remember.  Just call them!

Me
Well what should I say when I call them?

Oscar
Ask them where my dividend checks are?

Me
But how will they know who you are if I can’t give them a number?

This is a all new to me as I’ve never had to deal with elderly parents as they both left the planet way before I wanted them to. Thanks Mom, thanks Dad, leave me to deal with Oscar without any parental supervision. What would they say? What would they say? My softhearted Dad would feel sorry for him and say something like; “Cranky give the old hump a break.” My mother would say: “I think life is way to short for that.” And in her case that was all too true. So in a way, I am following both their advice – I am very understanding and patient while there, while praying all the time that I can get the hell out of there and NEVER go back.

But we are in the new economy. Here is what the new economy means to me. In the old economy my husband enjoyed a few luxuries. Including handkerchiefs from Thomas Pink. Without a second thought. That was the past. In the new economy it takes an hour and a quarter of work in the present to buy one handkerchief of the past.

But the existential crisis of the present might still be influenced by the past. One day soon I might look at Oscar and say: “Sorry Oscar.  My mother’s calling me.”


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