Archive for February, 2009

I Want The Benefits of Meditating I Really Do

They say mediation is good for creativity and effectiveness. I want to be more creative. I want to be more effective. But, I’m not sure Cranky’s mind is well suited to meditation.

I take the occasional yoga class. I know it’s really good because I hurt so much the next day I can barely put a blouse on.
I don’t have tattoos or piercings or anything, so I don’t totally fit in there.

The first time I went to a class in the East Village I asked a guy who was waiting outside class a question and he didn’t answer me. He was observing silence. It was my first time there. Nice. They had a dishtowel that everyone dried their hands on after using the bathroom to save paper. That freaked me out.

This week at the end of class we did some meditating. Oh good, I thought. This will be good for me. I will become a better actor. Even our president meditates. Look how successful he is.

So here is how it went for Cranky:
I started out trying to just focus on my breath like the instructor suggested.
Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, I remembered I forgot to buy English Muffins and I know I was supposed just let the thoughts go, but I thought if I did that, I would forget that I forgot. So I wanted to remember, so I was thinking English Muffins, English Muffins, English Muffins, English Muffins English Muffins over and over and over so I would remember to buy them.

Then that seemed like a mantra or something, ENGLISH MUFFINS, and that struck me kind of funny and I had to keep myself from LAUGHING OUT LOUD.

Then I tried to do the other thing the instructor said, and think about nothing. So I kept thinking NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING. Then I realized that thinking the word NOTHING is actually thinking SOMETHING so I don’t think I understood that one.

Then I remembered that the teacher said, “Don’t do yoga for small selfish reasons,” and I thought, “How about big selfish reasons? How about MY BIG FAT ASS?” Which also struck me funny, again.

Then I wondered if I kept meditating if I would come up with a career that I would be happy and successful in. The week before, while meditating, got the idea that I could start my own business giving instant makeovers on the photo line at the DMV. But when I came down from my yoga endorphin high, it didn’t seem like such a great idea.

This time I got the thought that I could rent myself out to the weather channel as a human barometer because you can tell the exact level of humidity by the size of my hair. Is this what is called the inspiration that comes from meditation? I don’t know.

Anyway, then I tried to go on to this joy thing the teacher told us about but then right away I thought about how the girl in front of me had on this great bandanna and I wondered if I had a bandanna on if I would be a better meditator. ESPECIALLY IF IT WAS IN A NICE PAISLEY. It might hold my thoughts in or something. And then I wondered if they had one in the yoga shop downstairs. Then I wondered what else they had in that shop and I decided to go there immediately after class was over.
Then I got this itch. And I didn’t know what to do. I know we’re supposed to sit still. But an unscratched itch is excruciating. And I was like, “Is it OK to scratch it?” And I have my eyes closed and I didn’t know if anyone is looking at me, which also became a weird feeling. But I didn’t want to disappoint the teacher and move before the time was up or something, but the itch became like real torture. But I didn’t let myself move. And then finally the teacher said we could come out of it and I like never enjoyed scratching an itch so much. Which maybe for me, was what I got out of it.

Cranky and Her Crazy Relatives

Cranky has some crazy relatives. Did you say you’re not surprised? Shut up! Bettie Davis had a crazy sister, so I’m in good company. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with crazy relatives. No one ever talks about it.
I had a visit with one of my crazy relatives with her psychiatrist, and even the psychiatrist was so bored and testy she wouldn’t let my crazy relative finish a sentence. She just scribbled yet another prescription and was outta there. And she is someone who is supposedly caring for the crazies. Interesting that all the theories of the unconscious, the collective unconscious, etc, all boil down to meds when someone is genuinely nuts. When you’re not nuts, you can talk about these things for years, but real nuts and out comes the script pad.

I have one relative who is sure the government is in cahoots with the aliens, and if you disagree with him he will hang up on you because you are obviously part of the conspiracy. So how do I have an honest relationship with him?
To be honest, there is nothing I could do even if it was true. I know he gets pissed off by my reaction to him. He’s like: “LISTEN TO ME! THERE ARE ALIENS HOLDING HIGH LEVEL POSITIONS IN OUR GOVERNMENT!” And I’m like: “Ah, OK. I really have to do the dishes now.”

The world could be coming to an end and I’d be like: “Did the dog eat yet?”

I also read the paper this way. I’d much rather read about Murray’s Cheese Shop than the tanking economy or the latest bombing on the West Bank. I run out and buy the twelve-dollar table salt recommended by the New York Times and it makes me so happy. And it is something I read in the paper that I can act on.
So I definitely don’t get worked up over his latest theory about the aliens. I’m good at avoiding even earth problems.
Now he says that there are some kind of reptilian aliens. They look like reptiles, but can shape shift into human form. He says there is a concentration of them in my neighborhood. I told him, “ I haven’t seen anything except a few water bugs. Do those count?”

I have another crazy relative whose entire life is smoking and watching TV. The worst part about it is the cough

I can only see this relative sometime between “All My Children” and “Jeopardy”. She’s very strict about that. Sometimes I have this fear that I’ll be arrested by mistake and I’ll get my one phone call and I’ll call her because I know I can never get through to my executive husband (I could be dying in the street and I’d get “Welcome to Audix”). So I place my one call, and I’m like screaming: “IT’S ME! I’VE BEEN ARRESTED! I’M AT THE POLICE STATION! YOU HAVE TO KEEP CALLING MR. CRANKY UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! GET A PEN! I’LL GIVE YOU HIS NUMBER! HURRY! OH MY GOD!”


It’s sad, this sitting in front of the TV all the time thing. I’ve tried to get her to go to a movie and she asks; “How much does it cost? Oh forget it! I could buy a whole pack of cigarettes for THAT.” I tell her I’ll pay, but she says: “Sorry Cranky, you can’t smoke in there. CAAA HAAAA KAAAK HAAAAA.”

She has never expressed any interest in going anywhere. Then out of the blue, she started asking about the Shinnecock Indians. “Maybe we could take a ride there sometime.” I think this is totally amazing and a big break through, until I later find out she’s trying to figure out a way to buy cheap cigarettes from the Indians.
I think the soap opera she loves is a bad influence. I know she thinks, “Look at Erika – she’s beautiful, she’s rich – look at all her problems. She’s been in jail, she’s always in trouble, it’s really safer just staying on the couch, look at what can happen when you get involved with people.”

Sometimes I get so worried about my crazy relatives that I end up looking through their prescriptions to see if I can find anything good and steal something from them to help me relax because I’m so worried about them. But I don’t. I just stay cranky.

I know my crazy relatives think I’m insane, because I will spend twelve dollars on salt or something, but actually there is a deep underlying philosophy there. Enjoy the little things in life, because the BIG THINGS REALLY SUCK.

Cranky-Queen of the Subways

Going to auditions means I live on the subways. The good part is it’s fast. The bad part is what you have to endure while you are on them.
Last week, my worst fear, phobia, cringe-making, thing came true. A homeless man walked into the subway car. He was wearing a blanket that looked like it came off of a diseased Egyptian mummy. There was a hole in the middle where his head came through. It was caked with ancestral crud. He made one pass by me and I was OK. Then he started heading my way again and I saw it. He was gonna touch me. I actually swung my legs around and put them up on the seat to give him clearance. It didn’t matter. The scuzz blanket swept across my lap. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The other passengers were laughing at my reaction. Fuck them. It wasn’tfunny! I knew unseen vermin were spreading across my legs. I was horrified. I ran home and took off my clothes in the foyer and tied them up in a plastic bag and jumped in the shower. If I knew what fumigation meant I would have done that too.
Yesterday, there was a guy screaming for money at the top of his lungs in the subway car. After he had passed me, I looked up at his back and he was wearing a Day-Glo orange jacket with the words PSYCH WARD and inmate number 126-53-42 printed on the back. Guess the Day-Glo orange didn’t keep him from escaping into the anonymity of the subways.

I love New York. Nobody bothers you if you are famous, and nobody bothers you if you are batshit crazy. You gotta be a little tough to take it all.

Especially after 9/11. When everyday felt like it might be my last day when I got on the subway. I was freaked out. I saw a billboard for The New York Times and I read “Expect The WORST”. “Wow, that’s harsh,” I thought. It said, “Expect the WORLD.” I was experiencing some sort of psychic overlay when I read signs. I saw another one that said, “It’s your city. Don’t let the TERRORISTS have all the fun.” And I was like, “What? That’s kind of weird, the TERRORISTS have all the fun?” And I looked back again and it was TOURISTS. Don’t let the TOURISTS have all the fun. I was so freaked out , I couldn’t even read anymore.
And still, even now, they keep saying, “If you see something, say something.” I still have no idea who the hell we’re supposed to tell on the subway. You ever see anyone? There’s like one driver on a train of fifteen cars. So, if you started walking in one direction to find someone when you saw something scary, if you didn’t die while walking between the cars, when you got to the end, chances are you went the wrong way, and then you’d have to turn around and walk all the way back, and by the time you’d finished, you’d end up in the Bronx at like Dyre Avenue or something, and even if it was a false alarm, you’d probably get killed because you ended up in a strange neighborhood.

One day, during the orange alert days, I was standing on the platform as the train pulled up. I had to choose which subway car to get into. I looked one way and there was a guy carrying two huge duffle bags. He looked like a terrorist for sure to me. The Bush administration had turned me into an instant profiler. He was Middle Eastern with a beard. I knew he had bombs in those duffle bags. Or some death chemical. I knew it. I looked the other way, and there was a really, really, really skanky, crusty homeless man. A man with body odor beyond human comprehension. And I was like “The terrorist or the homeless? The terrorist or the homeless? The terrorist or the homeless?” And you know what? I chose the terrorist. I chose the possibility of death over the certainty of olfactory repulsion. That’s how scared I am of vermin.

And everyone is cranky on the subway. No one is happy to be there. Except the Ipod people. The best is sitting next to someone who has heavy metal music coming out of their headset first thing in the morning. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

I actually once witnessed a man chasing another man with a knife in the subway cars. Everyone stared at their feet, believe you me.
And on top of it all, the fluorescent lighting down there is totally unflattering. So I suggest you never do a makeup check when you are in the car. You will be frightened by what you see. Especially if you are on the way to an audition. Makes you want to turn around and go home. “They are gonna film THIS?” you ask yourself. It’s quite possible that installing beauty lighting in the subways might lead to a major reduction in crime.

Hatcheck To The Stars

I’m thinking about the time I spent working as a hatcheck girl. At a fancy place on the Upper East Side that was a celebrity hang out. With yet another coked out boss.

“CCCCCCranky CCCCCCranky CCCCCCranky” was how he addressed me. One night he was red-faced and sweating, and he said to me, “CCCCCCCranky CCCCCCcranky, you just let the richest man in America hang up his own coat!” Oh boy. This is what he was like when he wasn’t busy hitting on the model he picked out for the evening.

Working with the public was particularly hard on me, because Cranky is an introvert. At times I was standing in a crush of bodies. I don’t know how I stood it. Well, I know how. It was the bag of money I brought home every night.
Besides making good dough, I took advantage of the opportunity to eavesdrop and watch people. Some people were great. Some people were horrible. Some people made you sad.

Some were really amazing. Like the beautiful Asian girlfriend of the TV weatherman. One night when they came in I admired her earrings. The next time she came in, she handed me a box with the earrings in it. “I can’t believe you did that!” I said. “I just wanted you to have them,” she said. I wore those earrings every night and felt like a million bucks.
One night there was a pair of blondes sitting together. They were styled very similarly. Both had frosted hair, long nails, leather skirts, and lots of makeup. But even with all that, one of them was looking well, kinda dumpy. Dumpy was crying. She was telling her friend “I don’t understand why he left. What happened? It came out of nowhere. How could he do this? I was good to him!” Her sobby tirade went on for a good fifteen minutes. Finally, the other blonde broke in with a husky voice. She flicked her cigarette and said. “You wanna know what happened? I tell you what happened. You got fat and took advantage of the situation. That’s what happened.” Ouch.

Another night, a highly sophisticated looking woman came in when it was particularly nuts by the door. She looked at me and asked, “How can you stand this?” “ You get used to it,” was my answer. “No darling. No. You DON’T get used to it. PRINCESSES get used to it.” She was like indignant that anyone was living like this. I loved her. Maybe there was hope in life after all.

A prince came in. A rock star. All the tennis players. Great actresses. A famous actress slash acting teacher came in. I never saw her before in my life. She grabbed me with an iron claw and whispered in my ear in just a slightly threatening tone, “KISS ME DARLING.” I did. Then she smiled and dramatically flung off her mink coat. I was part of her entrance.
A famous actor/playwright who I had admired sauntered in in his cowboy boots one night. The two stewardesses who were a joke to the people who worked there, latched on to him. They were real man-eaters. They wore blue eye shadow. Their eyelashes had so much mascara they looked like doll eyelashes. They lived in leather bustiers. In the winter even. He went to the China club with them and partied. Ewwwww. Do you lose your taste in people if you live on some fucked up farm? Heard later that he got into a drunken fight with a cab driver and started waving a gun around. He really was believing his cowboy persona. EARTH TO ACTOR!! HELLO!!

My favorite encounter ,was the night I was watching a few men standing at the bar. They seemed like Bronx boys. They cupped their cigarettes. They stood like guys who were used to standing around a lot for long periods of time. I decided I had them pegged. I went up to them. I said, “Hey, are you guys cops?” “Hah hah hah,” they said, “No honey, we’re the opposite!”
They were hoods. The hoods used to come in too. Along with the DA and his crew. So the maitre d’ used to get in a sweat trying to give them both tables in the best section but not seat the gangsters and the district attorney’s office near each other.

Once, a reporter I was friendly with came in and said hello. He was carrying a newspaper that announced that one of the hoods had just gotten off in a case against him. The headline was “MOBBY WALKS” in giant black font. I glanced at it and said, “You think they’re trying to say he’s really guilty?” Reporter grabs the guy he is with and runs away. “What just happened?” I thought. The reporter came back and said I’d be lucky not to find a horse head in my bed that night. The guy with him was Mobby’s lawyer.

I took a cab home every night. One night I got a woman. Theresa. She was very chatty. She told me how she hated drunks because they breathe up your nose. Christmas was coming and she said, ” I spend so much time in the car, I decorate the dashboard. I put Santi and his reindeer right up there on the dashboard. I’m in the car twelve hours a day.” (Yes it was Santi, not Santa.) Then she started handing me pamphlets about all the different weight loss programs she was gonna try. “I gotta lose weight, honey. These look pretty good. One of them cleans out your system, it’s either that or the H-bomb.” Months later, I hailed a cab and Theresa was the driver “I remember you!” she said. “Look! Look! I lost the weight, sweetie! Can you believe it?”

One night a customer gave me a box of amazing dark chocolate truffles. I got in a cab to go home and the driver looked like an angry Rasta who wanted to blow up the world. He looked pissed. He would only grunt. I asked him, “Hey, you wanna chocolate?” as I pushed the box through the opening in the plexiglass divider. He looked stunned., “Yea,” he said as he took one. He broke into a beautiful big smile. He looked at me and said, “Wow. I can’t believe it. You broke my bubble. Nobody breaks my bubble!”

Facebook or Wastebook?

Having a weird morning. Realize I must stop checking facebook and email so often.

Went to my desk to find a dentist bill to submit for reimbursement and ended up watching a video with a cat and a fawn. Then pictures of a fawn and a beagle. Then got an email with cats with headphones on. Then forgot why I had gone to the desk in the first place.

Then got a comment on facebook and had to respond to that. Then someone new befriended me. Then had to look at the new friend’s pictures and profile. Then saw she was friends with someone I sorta know, so had to look at that person’s picture and profile also.

Is this what most peoples busy mornings now consist of?

I recently had lunch with a friend and we realized for the first time we are both on facebook. My expression was one of dread. If I have to read any more updates, I don’t know WHAT I am going to do.

Have a friend on facebook who I thought was sane until he wrote on the facebook wall what exercises he did that day. Every day. No kidding. “Ran 2 miles, did abs, bi-ceps and chest.”

Writers all procrastinate. Facebook is like an advanced procrastinating tool.

My friend says the next thing after facebook will be “Shitter”. People will write about the success or failure of their bowel movement that day. If there are pictures, I’m outta there.

Why You Must Google YOURSELF.

There is a short film I worked on on youtube. It is in two parts. It’s been there since February ’02. It’s had 16,390 views. One of the people who is not among the 16,390 views is me. Because I had NO FUCKING IDEA IT WAS THERE.

This type of thing happens. A film you work on goes on youtube, or  goes to a festival. Or maybe a bunch of festivals. And nobody tells the actors.

This is why if you’re an actor you must google yourself. I know it’s dorky. Do it when you are alone. Put quotes around your name and add the word cast to speed things up. And I guarantee you will find out things you’ve been doing that you didn’t know you were doing.

I’m credited on some horrid video game and I have no idea how that happened.

An actor friend of mine had a full-length film released in Europe. There is a larger than life poster with his name in huge letters. There are like Russian words across the top. (Comrades! Don’t Tell Any of the Actors if You Meet Them!)  He had no clue it had gotten released anywhere.

Can you imagine? You spend days freezing in Central Park. Or stuffed into a little walk-up apartment with no air and no room, full of equipment for days on end.

Then you’re done and the director is like BU-BYE!! And uses the film to promote himself and doesn’t think like maybe the actors might be interested in what the film is doing. Or could use a prestigious festival name on their resume.

So if you are an actor. Do it. Right now. I guarantee you will have things to add to your resume. Something you worked on might have even won awards.

Googling yourself may not be attractive. But it is so necessary.

Callback Spooks Me Out

Had a callback today. It was for a voice over.

For the audition all I had to do was read sides into the computer. I have no idea how this works or anything. But who cares? I got to audition in my purple velour lounge outfit. In bed. Cranky likes that. Pretty much audition heaven. No people, no waiting, no traveling, no outfit, no makeup. If I could have been watching reality TV at the same time it would have been perfect.

So the mysterious recording on the internets got me a callback. It was at a postproduction house in Soho. Full of trendoids wearing funky glasses and talking about yoga class.

When I arrived there was a sign in sheet and a sign that said, “Please take a seat and wait.”

I sit. I wait. I feel like I’m waiting for an eternity. What makes it seem like an eternity is that there are two people at desks across from me, and about eleven people walk by, but not one of them will make eye contact with me.

It’s so weird. It’s as if they all had a meeting earlier in the day and decided together, “Look, actors are really needy. If you start in with them who knows what will happen. Let’s make a pact not to make eye contact with them when they come in later. Not even once!” And they don’t.

When another actress comes in and enters the void with me, she instinctively wants to break through it. She gets up and goes to one of the people at the desks and asks a question. Before she is through she gets the hand. “I know nothing about it!” the person says. Proving my theory that they indeed did have that meeting.

When the actress sits back down she starts biting her nails the poor thing.

No wonder actors are paranoid.

Why I Now Love Christian Bale More Than Life

I know I’ve been keeping everything anonymous and all. But I have to break my own rule, and say I could listen to Christian Bale’s freak out on the set that is on YouTube all day. It makes me quell. It’s on YouTube:

Go and listen to him yell at a DP who was “strolling in the background” while Bale was trying to do a scene. The DP said he was checking a light. No no no.

It brings me back to the audition I had where people were walking in and out of the room while I was reading a scene. And opening and closing the door no less. And whispering to the director. While the horse’s asses actors are trying to concentrate and act.

Listening to Bale makes me happy. And I fantasize that I said every word that came out of his mouth when I was at that audition. Instead of just feeling horrible and all and slinking out of there.

Some people got on Bale’s case. People who don’t understand and have no fucking respect for acting or idea what it takes.
Bale’s diatribe is not an actor having a tantrum. It’s an actor standing up for what is right.
I’m seeing him as the Spartacus of the acting world.

You go Christian!!! I so love you now.