Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Men and Television

What is it with the way men watch television? I have been listening to Joshua watching Law and Order in the den (because he keeps it up very loud on account of he's deaf and I was eating in the kitchen). So he turns it on in the middle of an episode and then proceeds to watch the rest of the episode with every indication of enjoyment. He also settles down to watch a basketball game or something and then starts switching channels back and forth, which makes no sense to me...I mean, basketball is FAST. I would think you'd miss all kinds of exciting stuff that way. (I am as interested in basketball as I am in any sport - i.e., practically not at all. I can appreciate basketball for the skill involved, I think it's fun to go out to the ball park and waste an early summer afternoon eating popcorn and hot dogs and drinking beer in the bleachers, and I used to love to go to the Chicago Blackhawks' hockey games - again, because it's such a fast sport - but mostly sports leave me cold. Like many women I can, however, manage to keep a vague eye on them if there's some man I feel the need to impress.)

Matthew (my husband) used to do the same thing. He would turn on a show and then start flipping through the channels the instant a commercial came on - and then rejoin the original ten minutes after it started again.

How do these guys ever figure out what the plot is? Sarah and I made Matthew quit pulling this one during the X-Files, because if you missed one single second of that show, you were totally lost. Half the time you were totally lost anyway, but at least you'd seen the whole show.

Matthew also had two deeply annoying television habits. One was that he got a thing about certain shows and would watch the reruns incessantly, without giving any indication that he'd ever seen the show before. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen certain episodes of MASH - and much as I loved the show the first time around, I had no great desire to see every episode six times. The other thing was that whenever any show came on he would announce that it was an episode we'd seen before and stick to this in the face of all common sense, such as me and Sarah telling him that it happened to be the season opener of a brand new season. He would say this about every single show that came on - every single show. Why I found this so annoying I couldn't possibly tell you, but I did.

I have actually mostly given up on television. I'd rather read, to begin with, and I'd rather shoot myself than watch a reality show - so that pretty well leaves me with old movies and the one series I do watch religiously, which is Rescue Me with Denis Leary, for which I have a passion. (Also I have a terrible crush on Denis Leary as Tommy Gavin - let's see - alcoholic, drug-abusing Irish guy with issues - you know this is my kind of man. No wonder I don't date.)

There was one reality show I did used to cast an eye on every now and then (because it was on before something I actually wanted to watch and I'd turn the television on early). This was a thing called The Swan, where they took these plug-ugly broads from Little East Armpit, Ohio or some damn where and put them through grueling diets and exercise regimes and plastic surgery and God knows what all and then they turned out gorgeous. What fascinated me about all this (for the last ten minutes or so of the show, which was all I ever watched of the thing) was that they all turned out looking exactly alike. Every single time. They all ended up with the same new noses, the same new hairdos, the same kind of evening gown. And to a woman, they all looked like pageant winners. "And now, Miss Little East Armpit, Ohio!" All of them - bouffant hair, spike heels, clingy (and unattractive) evening dress...identical. It was deeply weird. What was even weirder was that they were all going back to live on the farm where they would have absolutely no reason to wear any of this stuff or do anything at all where they could show off the new look - I assure you it wouldn't play at church on Sunday which, as far as I could figure out, was the only place these gals ever went. Well, if it made them happy - what the hell. I just could never figure out why anybody would want to turn themselves into a Barbie doll. Anyway, I'm sure it boosted their self-esteem no end, and that can't be a bad thing.

I think I'll play some solitaire and go to sleep. I tell you - this fast pace is killing me.

Love, Wendy

Monday, July 28, 2008

Loose Ends

I just realized that there were a lot of things I intended to do the last couple of days that I sort of left hanging, but blogged about anyway. I will now make amends.

Last Saturday (i.e., day before yesterday), I did indeed go to the street fair, although I didn't have a sausage sandwich because my stomach decided to do some exceedingly strange things right after I ate all those zeppole. Anyway, the Lucy's truck wasn't there, and I try to eat Lucy's whenever possible because they're the best (I think their grease has been going for about 40 years now). I did, however, manage to drop into the Partners in Crime murder mystery bookshop and buy a couple of books - which I couldn't afford and couldn't resist. One was the new Jasper fforde - and you have to read Jasper fforde. He writes the Thursday Next series and the nursery crime series, and if you have not read him, it is a necessity. If you can imagine a cross between Lawrence Sterne (as in Tristam Shandy) and Terry Pratchett, you'd sort of be there. Fair warning - if you're not an omnivorous reader, you may miss stuff. I'm addicted to him - also, they're funny as shit.

I also bought In the Woods, which I've been hearing about and hearing about. Boy, is that ever worth it. I frankly blew off all of Sunday because I could not put the thing down. It is amazing.

And I didn't go to the agency call, because I went back to the listing and discovered that this agency has a monthly call to which I am going a week from Wednesday (first Wednesday of the month). I'm sorry - evidently, even though no one will call me for a job, I still have a 9 to 5 mindset, which means that doing ANYTHING on a Saturday involving work just feels wrong. Unless, of course, it's an actual job that people are paying me for...duh.

So now all the loose ends are neatly tucked away.

Love, Wendy

Lots of Totally Unrelated Topics

First, from the Metro section of today's NYTimes. It seems that the New York City Administration for Children's Services has hired 60 retired cops to "serve as a bridge to active law enforcement when child welfare and crime overlap."

Okay. Ms. Porsenna, a "child protective specialist" (I thought they were case workers, but then again, janitors are now sanitation specialists or some damn thing), asked one of these gents, a Mr. Flores, to look for the father of the child of one of her families. And Mr. Flores, using his in to the "law enforcement databases," promptly found the gent, who is due in criminal court in September on a trespassing charge.

Now it begins to become - to me, at least - extremely weird out here. Ms. Porsenna has decided, now that this errant father is found, to intercept him at his court date "in hopes of steering him into drug treatment and urging him to attend family court hearings."

Meanwhile (back at the ranch), the one year old daughter of this guy is living with her mother, who is getting help for substance abuse. The mother also has an order of protection against the father. Ms. Porsenna: "So whatever is decided, we still want to involve him."

Whoa. Let's see. The mother is an addict. The father has been trespassing, and has "a history of abusing the mother", to the extent that she has a protection order against him. And Ms. Porsenna, wants to involve this guy in the rearing of his child? Whatever drugs this woman is taking, I would dearly love some of them (well, I sleep badly and I would love to have a mind filled with unicorns and butterflies the way this caseworker does).

ARE THESE PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR FUCKING MINDS? And we want to know why there are all these cases of child abuse and wife abuse. Christ on a crutch. Listen up. Get somebody who will A. drop in once a day to make sure mom is attending her therapy. B. Make sure that the kid is decently fed and clothed and living in some sort of reasonable cleanliness (and we all know that my standard of reasonable cleanliness is possibly the lowest in the world - I just mean, you know, clean kitchen, no obvious moving beasties on the dinner table...basics). And make sure that SOB who fathered the child is kept firmly away from mom and kid.


I have vented. So there.

So I finally bowed to popular opinion. Every single time I let my (to me) glamorous mane of hair out of its clip, about 47 people (well, mainly Sarah and Caesar) told me I still looked like I was playing head witch Hecate in Macbeth. I gave up. I trotted off to Astor Place this morning (well, all right, about 11:30) and got myself an extremely minimal hair cut. Well. I've got to keep the length, because the bright auburn VERY short crop wasn't precisely what you'd call versatile - and on my level of acting, ain't nobody gonna buy me no expensive wigs. And now I have what I can only describe as a sort of Jennifer Anniston thing - it's the same length it was, but all the straggly bits are gone and when I let it down it actually looks like it was meant to be that way. According to Dee (who, bless her, understood exactly what I wanted), it's "just a tiny bit of layering and clearing off the ends."

However, I decided to fuck with Sarah's head, so I sent her an email, which my child promptly posted on her blog, headed "Oh, for the love of...", and which starts with the immortal line, "My mother is an asshole." You may see it here - http://sarahbooz.blogspot.com/

And lastly, I am full of food. I didn't even cook it (even though, having had my hair cut, I actually went to the grocery store and refilled my icebox). Caesar came over and we ordered Indian food, so I am delightedly full of lamb curry, shrimp korma, meat samosas, garlic nan and rice and chutney. So there.


Love, Wendy

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hello, There!

Yes, well, nothing of any interest has happened since I last posted, unless you count that abso-fuckin'-lutely wonderful thunderstorm the other night. Wasn't that brilliant? There was one simultaneous lightning bolt (a real jagged lightning bolt!) and huge crash of thunder right over my porch that made me jump out of my chair - I thought it was coming for me.

Aside from that, I have done nothing of any use to anybody other than feeding cats and occasionally trying to put books in my bedroom bookshelf. This is a losing proposition, because it's already double-rowed. Which causes another problem - if there happens to be something in there I want to read, I can't find it without major expenditures of time in moving stuff around and aside. This is all an unholy nuisance, and naturally caused by my dear cousin's book collecting madness - I had just about enough book shelves before.

Oh, I tell you, he's amazing. Yesterday he got some sort of government approval to get permanent dental implants, and he had me read the notice because he can't read legalese (well, most people can't, but through many years of typing it, I can usually get the gist). One of the points in this determination was that his doctors had all written letters saying that because of his ADD, he was incapable of dealing with dentures (well, that's what it said in English, anyway - there were a lot of "counterindications" and "to wits" in there).

Is there anyone out there who can explain THIS piece of nonsense to me? Now, here is a man who is so incredibly vain that he uses two bathrooms to shower (yeah, that's right - one to shower and then the downstairs powder room to spend half an hour drying his hair and God knows what all) (by the by, he doesn't HAVE any hair to speak of - he's balding and wears it in a very close military cut), and comes home from a walk to tell me about all the 18 year old girls who are flirting with him on the street. Do you honestly expect me to believe that this person is incapable of remembering to put his goddamn teeth in? I mean, due to the fact that I have lovely English teeth - or I had lovely English teeth - I have worn dentures for years. (Hey, nothing like full disclosure here.) Lovely English teeth start out just fine and then they crumble. I got mightily sick of caps and crowns and pain and suffering and humongous dental bills and eventually (with the help of a lovely dentist) said the hell with it - I have been happy and pain-free for years now. I ASSURE you I can't walk out of the house without my teeth. Nobody can. It just isn't possible unless you happen to have Alzheimer's disease. Particularly if you're a person who spends a great deal of time looking in a mirror.

I have called all two and a half of my temp agencies - the half is the one where I tested so well but that hasn't sent me out on a job. I called my actual agency and my crazy lady. If I hear the word "slow" one more time I'm going to scream. Actually, I'm going to starve, is what I'm going to do. In darkness with no contact with the outside world due to no electricity, no phone and no computer.

So tomorrow I'm off for a sign-up at one of the big film background actors' agencies. I figure once they meet me in person, they'll be so blown away by my wit, style and charm that they'll promptly cast me in everything in town, right? Right. Then I'll go by the street fair that is right there where the call is, because I haven't yet consumed my summer's worth of sausage sandwiches.

I dream about sausage sandwiches all winter. I know you can get them in various pizza parlors, and obviously I could quite easily make my own, but a sausage sandwich is something that can ONLY be eaten on the street, standing up, with the whole thing dribbling down your face and clothing. This is a rule. Calvin Trillin, the author of Alice, Let's Eat, among other wonderful books, agrees with me. So I have an authority on my side. And as far as making them at home, that's ridiculous. You need the ineffable flavor of the grease that has been used for 500 street fairs, otherwise it's just not right.

There are foods like that, foods that belong only in one place and time. I love a good Ploughman's Lunch, which is an English thing that is basically bread, cheese and Branston pickle. Well, of course, I can get all the ingredients, but it just can't be eaten in a New York kitchen. It can only be eaten in a London pub, preferably on Charing Cross Road while leafing through the seven hundred or so used books you just bought. And drinking a pint, of course.

Filet de perche is a specialty of our little town in France, and can only be eaten there, Chicago deep dish pizza is eaten at the original Uno's in Chicago (not that plastic damn thing they have here).

Damn. Now I'm hungry again. Must go - need snack...

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Smoking?

New York State has just decided to insist that everyone who seeks treatment for addiction in their residential centers quit smoking. I mean, drug addicts, gambling addicts, alcoholics...

Guys, have you really thought this through? Here are these people trying to do something that's horrendously difficult to begin with, and you decide that instead of treating one addiction at a time, you're just going to yank everything away from them. This is the worst idea I ever heard in my life. Have you ever, for instance, tried to give up say, smoking and ice cream at the same time? Doesn't work...not at all. Hey, people need rewards. And I should think that recovering addicts need rewards more than anybody.

I just can't wait until the powers that be decide that, okay, we're treating them for heroin addiction, we're taking away their cigarettes at the same time - hey, while we're at it, let's put them all on a macrobiotic diet for their health! Yay! What a great idea! This is absolutely the way to get more people into the treatment they need. Riiiight.


Love, Wendy

Shoot The Weatherman!

Boy, am I tired of getting lied to by the damn weathermen. I don't care what you look at or listen to, be it weather.com or the TV news or whatever, everybody's been predicting thunderstorms for two days now. Last night there was even a severe thunderstorm warning on weather.com - for about a minute and a half. Then you go look at the radar, and there are all these thunderstorms popping up - in a neat circle around the island of Manhattan. Never anything actually OVER Manhattan. I know that the idea of climate controlled domed cities is science fiction, but honestly, I'm beginning to think that maybe there are things we don't know, and we really are under a dome. Which actually doesn't make any sense because if you're going to control a climate, you wouldn't have had this heat wave, I guess. Unless maybe the climate is being controlled by Con Ed and the manufacturers of air conditioners. THAT would make sense.

Meanwhile they keep saying it's going to rain heavily. Two nights ago there was a tiny little splatter on my bedroom skylight, and when I went to the deli tonight around 6 pm, I felt four raindrops. I don't know about anyone else, but this is NOT my notion of heavy rain.

However, there may just be some rain coming, because now we have humidity. Did anyone but me notice that while the temperatures were in the 90's the last few days, the humidity was very low? (Probably not - as a thunderstorm nut, I get obsessive about this sort of thing as normal people do not.) Anyway, I think, although don't quote me, that there probably has to be some moisture around for a thunderstorm. But now we've got humidity! Oy, have we got humidity. So what we need now is RAIN, damn it. I have an idea, however. Perhaps tomorrow I will take a nice long walk to somewhere without an umbrella or the money to grab a taxi home. That should do it, right?

On a completely different subject (I'm allowed, it's MY blog), I swear I can't get elected for dogcatcher these days. No temp agencies are calling. I have submitted my picture and resume for every single thing for which I am at all right - this includes "homeless squatters" and "mental ward patients" - you think I'm kidding? - and nothing. Nada. Not a peep from anybody in this whole wide world who wants to pay me for doing anything. I am beginning to get somewhat annoyed - not to mention extremely broke again.

Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna go eat worms. (Which, if I don't get a paying job soon, may turn out to be my only alternative. Paging Anthony Bourdain...) WAAAAA!

Love, Wendy

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eating with Cats

I have had it with one of my cats. Blackfoot has suddenly decided that he isn't being fed enough and doesn't like the dry food he's been eating all his life, and now my dinner table is under siege. Tonight I made myself a nice (if somewhat dull) meal of sauteed chicken and green peas, but trying to eat it was a nightmare. Cut off piece of chicken. Throw cat on floor. Put chicken in mouth. Chew fast, before throwing cat on floor. Pick up forkful of peas. Drop forkful of peas to throw cat off table. Try chicken again. Begin to look like maniac throwing punches (not, of course, intended to connect) at cat who is now trying to sneak up from the other side of the table. Give up. Saute cat. Damn, I'm NOT going to resort to eating my dinner in the bathroom - I already eat my midnight ice cream in there to avoid having to stop every six seconds to throw all three cats off the table. Enough is enough.

And yes, of course, I've tried feeding Blackfoot different food. That's another nightmare. In order to keep Gypsy from eating his food, I have to get Gypsy out of the upstairs bathroom, get Blackfoot into the upstairs bathroom, and then shut the door so Blackfoot can eat...which has to be done very quickly because otherwise Tarbaby decides that HE wants in the bathroom because the other two are so damn fascinated with it. Talk about herding cats...I suppose the answer to this is to feed all of them the soft food all at once, but that gets awfully damn expensive. Anybody want three somewhat used cats? One of whom is VERY used, being now about 450 years old? Anybody?

So, as Sarah has already mentioned, we had a mugging under my bedroom window a couple of days ago. That was scary. I mean, when I'm acting, I come home late quite often - you do a show, you go out and have a couple of beers, you get home around 12:30 or 1 in the morning. And now Sarah has taken to calling Joshua whenever she comes home (I mean here, as opposed to her own place in Brooklyn) so he can either meet her at the bus stop or stand in the doorway when she comes up in a taxi. (This is an EXCELLENT idea.)

Damn it, I've lived in this neighborhood for nearly 40 years, and I've NEVER been afraid to be out alone at any hour of the day or night. And some of those hours were fairly bizarre - not to mention the fact that if you were looking some thirty years back you would have seen me happily coming home on my hands and knees after closing a bar at 4 am. One classic night when I was living on Jane and Hudson and my local joint was right across the street, I crawled home and fell asleep in the elevator. Our super informed me the next day that he saw me in there but didn't want to bother me because I looked comfortable. Ah, the good old days.

This is nuts. The Village has always had non-residents coming in to drink and party, for heaven's sake. And you'd get the occasional fistfight or something, the way you do with drunks. These new characters, however, seem intent on just making trouble. We've had a 25% increase in the crime rate in our precinct, and that has nothing to do with the quality of life infractions - like people pissing in the street and worse - I have neighbors who've found human feces on their doorsteps. Another neighbor has a front stoop where they like to hang out and do drugs, and she has flower pots on it. They tear up the flowers. And of course they yell and scream in the street at all hours, but then, you know, this is New York. You can sleep through that.

And we can't use the piers. There was a huge renovation of our pier a few years back, and it's just lovely, and would be a wonderful spot to go look at the water on a hot summer night - but they've taken it over, and now it's too dangerous.

The thing about the pier is interesting. Before it got renovated, it was a hangout for gays and transvestites and hustlers and all of that, but we used to go and watch the sunset, or walk out on a summer night, because they had their own agenda and weren't in the least interested in what we were up to. Nobody was bothering us, and we weren't bothering them. So now we have this gorgeous park out there which is filled with people who want to beat and rob us. What is that?

I don't go to someone else's neighborhood and piss on their doorsteps. I hang out in the East Village a fair amount because it's full of theatres where I'm working or my friends are working. Now, it wouldn't occur to me to wander around the East Village peeing on people's doorsteps or ruining their flowerpots and trying to rob them, for heaven's sake.

Nobody says these people can't come in the neighborhood. Nobody is waiting at the Path station on Christopher (which is where they all seem to come from) to arrest them as they get off the train. All we're asking is to live in peace, quiet and safety in our own place - is that too much? It seems to be...

Love, Wendy

Friday, July 18, 2008

Count Your Calories!

Well, here in New York, the calorie counts have been posted in fast food restaurants. I hate to tell you this, but I don't think it's going to make a damn bit of difference.

I don't know about you, but when I have an urge for a double cheeseburger at McDonald's, I have already given myself permission to ingest a whole lot of calories. And I add a small order of fries. Admittedly, I also order a diet soda, but I've been drinking diet soda for so many years that I literally can't swallow one that isn't diet - the sugar gags me.

But I absolutely do not believe that listing the calorie counts is going to have the slightest effect on say, a harried mother of 4 who's just been buying school clothes on 42nd Street and will do anything short of murder to get the kids to shut up. Nor do I think it's going to have any effect on hordes of teenagers after school, or any of the other normal denizens of McDonalds, etc.

The reason I feel this way is that I just don't think that anyone who has a jones for McDonald's gives a shit about how many calories are in it. Also, I'm not at all sure (and I know this is just as elitist as hell) that a lot of the people at whom this idea is aimed have any clear notion of what the hell a calorie is to begin with. And, I don't think they care much.

In order for this idea to work, you have to start teaching people about nutrition very seriously. In the two grocery stores in which I shop for all my basics (both of which are geared to us low income types), I see the shopping carts of lots of people, and when I stand in line behind them, I see exactly who's paying with a food stamp card. There tend to be a whole lot of empty calories in that shopping cart. And I understand this, because food stamps most certainly have not kept pace with the rising cost of food, and if you a large family...well, you get what's most likely to fill everybody up at the least cost. And that doesn't include a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables or even a lot of meat and/or chicken, and certainly not fish, because who can afford that these days.

I would like to propose that before you can get food stamps, you must take a course in nutrition. There are optional courses for it now, but I think they should be a great deal more available and I think they should be mandatory. (Of course, learning how to say no to your kids regarding a diet of pretzels and ice cream would be helpful, but you know, first things first.) I realize this sounds somewhat draconian, but we have to start somewhere, for God's sake. Today's papers featured a story announcing that 25% of New Yorkers are obese. That's just simply awful.

And, as I go on about at positively horrendous length, we have GOT to find a way to make fresh fruit and fresh vegetables more affordable. The present setup is simply unacceptable. Plums, two for a dollar. Hey, great! If you live alone. Plain old iceberg lettuce, 1.99 a head. Hey, that's really useful for a family of six. One salad for one dinner, and that's the end of that.

I don't know what the answer is, but we can't go on moaning about the problem without DOING something about it. Nobody is ever, ever, ever going to lose weight if their main diet is rice and beans.

Isn't that weird? This blog was going in an entirely different direction when I planned to write it, and then I got off on my hobbyhorse. Ah, well. The pleasure of blogging is that you never actually know what you're going to say until you say it.

By the by, about all those neat social occasions? Well, only one of them ever came to pass - the night at the Anyway Cafe. Oh, well. I have been terribly social for the last two nights, on both of which I had planned to eat dinner and go to bed at some sort of nice reasonable hour. Last night my friend Steve turned up, and we had a nice chat involving his recipe for a chicken stroganoff. This is something I don't think should exist to begin with, but as Steve is an absolutely brilliant cook, I'm willing to take his word for it.

Tonight, just as I was thinking about making dinner, Jiggers turned up with a very nice guy named Matt - but for some reason, Matt was dragging with him a book of Tom Waites' lyrics. The guys both read aloud from said lyrics and then insisted that I do so too. I was disposed to be pleasant about this nonsense because Jiggers had bought me an entire six pack of beer, and one must be kind. But I frankly feel that song lyrics are best left to records which include the music...

Many, many years ago there was a wonderful comic named Dick Shawn, and he appeared with a fair amount of frequency on the Ed Sullivan Show. His most famous shtick was that he read song lyrics aloud. I don't know whether there's any video on this (when I get new speakers for the computer I'll look it up on YouTube [amazing - here I am writing this on a computer, and when I hit spellcheck, it doesn't recognize YouTube - it suggested Yoruba. Eh?] and get back to you), but I am here to tell you that it was hilarious, because late 50's/early 60's rock and roll, which is what he was doing, was amazingly idiotic read out loud. You have to see this tall, attractive man standing onstage, intoning in a rich baritone - "Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong? Who put the boop in the boop de boop de boop?" - in a solemn voice that was entirely Shakespearean. And he was very serious about the whole thing. Even thinking about it now I get the giggles.

Ah, well. I think I'll go to sleep, having missed dinner once again. On the other hand, if I can end up looking like Helen Mirren in a bikini, my sacrifice will not have been in vain.

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Politically Incorrect Statement

This is a reply of sorts to Sarah's blog regarding riding a bicycle. I hate the damn things. I know they're better for the environment and all like that, but I'm frightened to death by them.

I am sick and tired of being terrorized by bicycles. When I rode a bike in the city (both Chicago and New York), it was a given that bicycles obeyed stop signs, street lights, pedestrians...all that happy horseshit. According to law, a bicycle is a vehicle, and must obey vehicular laws. (Honest. You look it up.)

When I rode a bike for transport and shopping and whatnot, I rode sensibly, I rode at a sensible speed, and I obeyed all traffic laws. Today's bicylists seem to feel that the street belongs to them, and nobody else should get in their way.

A year or so ago, I was crossing 10th Street at Bleecker. There is a traffic light there, and it was green, and it said walk. The 8th Street crosstown bus was sitting there, waiting for the light to change, and secure in the knowledge that I had the Walk sign, I crossed the street.

Only to be slammed and knocked to the pavement by a fucking bicycle that was coming from the opposite side of the bus, who evidently felt that the traffic light did not apply to him, who also evidently felt that obviously he was king of the street and the fact that people might be crossing the street and unable to see him because of the bus were none of his concern.

This was not a crazed bike messenger, by the way. This was a very well dressed young man who simply felt that he and his thousand dollar bicycle could go wherever he chose at whatever speed he chose without reference to whoever or whatever might be in his way.

And this problem goes on and on and on. When I cross a street (at a WALK SIGN, goddammit), I feel that I should be able to do so safely. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have looked carefully both ways and then suddenly been terrified by a bicycle appearing out of nowhere at warp speed, causing me to jump about a mile in the air and scuttle back to the safety of the sidewalk.

And even the sidewalk isn't safe anymore. I get tired of having to leap aside suddenly for the Chinese delivery guy, or just some random idiot who feels that instead of riding in the street until he gets to where he's going, he should get onto the sidewalk at the corner and swoop down on me.

I really do believe that bikes are better for everybody...but not until they learn some damn street manners. And yes, as a longtime city bike rider, I had my share of being suddenly doored by taxis and all the rest of it. But I don't think that's any reason why I should, for instance, be afraid of getting off a bus that can't get into the bus stop. What happens is that these nuts go between the parked cars and the stopped bus, at high speed, of course - again without regard for any human being who might be getting off the bus.

What really frosts me is that without exception, when you show fear, they all laugh uproariously. This is the best fun they've ever had! One middle-aged lady jumping about a mile as some asshole speeds within an inch of her toes is just terrific! Wow! What a great day I'm having!

Let's not forget, by the way, that bicycles don't carry license plates. This means that a bicycle can cream you all over the street, ram your head into the pavement so that you become unconscious, and merrily race off - with no possibility of anybody ever being able to catch him. Isn't that a cheerful thought?

And the bike messengers are the best. They come charging at you from the wrong way on a one way street and then start calling you names if you have the temerity to scream at them when they've just come so close that your pants are ripped. You think this didn't happen? Wrongo. My good pants torn and me with a large bloody scrape from a bike pedal. It's your fault for being in the way of the almighty bicycle.

I've given up on the idea of getting a pellet gun for large fat tourists who get in my way (this may be because I don't actually think they'd ever notice the sting what with all that flab - hey, a new NY theme song! All That Flab). I'm now getting one for any bicycle that dares to come near me. I've had it.

I hate bicycles. And I really miss riding one, but I'm WAY too scared.

Love (but not for bicycles), Wendy

Monday, July 14, 2008

Totally Blown Away

This has been a day of the most completely bizarre coincidences ever in the history of the world.

First I read Sarah's blog about bicycles and the fact that her acquaintance Amelia was killed on her bike Friday night (God rest the poor child). Well, if you recall, I went to see Anna Christie on Saturday night. After the show, me and Tom and Ingrid were waiting for our pal John outside the theatre when the gal playing Anna Christie came out, and one of the actors in the play said to her something like, "I'm so sorry. Will you be all right?" And then he walked back over to us (he was a friend of Ingrid's) and said, "Her girlfriend Amelia was killed on her bike last night."

Tonight I went to see my pal Jiggers play guitar and sing at the Anyway Cafe on Second Street, and I had grabbed a table in front of the bar (i.e., outdoors so I could smoke in peace and quiet - the bar windows and door were open so I could hear him perfectly well), and Jiggers' wife Kathy and I were sitting there listening and chatting and drinking (and in my case, eating - they've got red caviar and creme fraiche and crepes there and I was a very happy camper). Anyway, various of Jiggers' and Kathy's friends were floating about and would come over and I was introduced to them. One of these people was a gent named Julius.

So Julius and I started chatting and (and I can't remember how this one came up exactly - beer number five, I think), it turned out that we were both Chicagoans. Naturally (this is what we Chicagoans do) I asked what neighborhood, and he told me, and he said where did you go to school. I said Bateman, and he said, "So did I."

Well, quite frankly, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to this, on account of - well, shit, it's a little complicated. Sometimes people in a bar will say exactly what they think you want to hear, you know? And The Bateman School was such a wildly peculiar place, and such an extremely small school (I don't think there were ever more than 200 people in it at a time, and it went from kindergarden through high school), that you never, EVER meet anyone who went there.

So I'm thinking, uh-huh, yeah, right, sure you did. When all of a sudden he says, did you know David Masur? At which point I let out some sort of wild shriek (which probably sounded something like - "HOLY MOTHER FUCKING SHIT YOU REALLY DID GO TO BATEMAN AND YOU KNOW DAVID MASUR?")

Turns out that Julius is some three hundred years my junior (like, in kindergarten when I graduated from high school), but did indeed go to Bateman, knows the teachers and all that happy horseshit. (We actually sat there and sang the school song - which, incidentally, is just awful - "We hold your torch aloft, dear Bateman School, proudly may you shine on us, your sons and daughters here" - etc. Gag.) Un-befucking-lievable.

So I had a absolutely WONDERFUL time tonight doing Chicago/Bateman lore with Julius (made even better by the fact that Jiggers and Kathy have both heard my stories about my entirely weird high school and there's finally someone who can back me up), and he may (if he can find it) give me the greatest damn gift in the whole world.

You see, in the back of the Bateman yearbook every year were the pictures of the senior class play from the previous year. Ergo, the senior class play for 1962 is in the back of my graduation yearbook for 1963. And since I never got the 1964 yearbook (why the hell would I and anyway I was off doing a show when it came out), I have never ever had any pictures of the world's most peculiar senior class play. And Julius thinks he has the 1964 yearbook!

We had at that point a drama teacher named Stan Sidlick, and he decided (kindly remember it was 1963) that we were going to bring Bateman into the 20th century and do something "really relevant." (Up until then the senior plays had been the usual run of You Can't Take It With You and Oklahoma.) Oh, yeah - now I remember. We were supposed to be showing our solidarity with the struggles for integration, that was it. By the way, this was a very expensive and very white prep school.

So Stan decided that we would do Green Pastures. I am fairly sure that few of my loyal readers have ever heard of this play, so here goes. It was written by Marc Connelly in the 1920's, and is the story of the Bible done by blacks (I think Paul Robeson played the lead but I'd have to look that up), and it all takes place at a fish fry attended by God and his angels - let me re-emphasize that it's an all black cast.

Well, we get the loaves and fishes, of course (it being a fish fry), and then eventually we get to the crucifixtion of Christ, with God (called, in this play, De Lawd - did I mention it's all written in "Negro dialect"?). So De Lawd looks down with his best friend Gabriel at his side, and says things like, "Oh, Gabriel, dey gonna make him carry dat heavy load."

Anyway, that was my senior class play, and I believe that we were the last white people on EARTH to actually appear in blackface. Because we all were - in blackface, I mean. And yes, my children, your mother did indeed play De Lawd (well, I was dating Stan at the time - I SAID that school was peculiar). When I think of bizarre, I think of all these nice little white kids smeared with black makeup in white choir robes, trying desperately to sing spirituals. I would KILL for photographs of that.

And today my actual SAG card came in the mail. Woo-hoo. Look at me. I'm a real card carrying actress. Now if any of those damn submissions I sent out on Casting Networks would pan out...

But wow. What a day. Oh, and I missed dancing on the pier last night on account of my stomach decided to do weird things at me and I didn't actually trust my internal organs to go to a place where I didn't know about the Porta-Potties. Ah, well - those dances go on every Sunday through the summer. I'll get there.

Love, Wendy

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Misleading Headlines

A new headline on CNN that is somewhat obscure...

In recent days there has been a story on CNN regarding a church in Kentucky (insert your own redneck joke here - I'm too polite) which is one of those snake-handling places. The authorities were (understandably) getting rather upset because A. people were getting bitten, and B. having all those undocumented rattlers and cottonmouths is illegal anyway. So they decided to raid the church and get rid of the snakes.

Leaving aside all thoughts about religious freedom - my feeling is that if people honestly think playing with poisonous snakes is good for them, it's their problem - the headline is still somewhat ambiguous. It says, "100 snakes seized, pastor arrested."

Somehow I thought that seizing snakes was precisely what they were trying to prevent.

Last night I went off to the first event of my fun filled next few days, except that as the event happened to be a production of O'Neill's Anna Christie, it wasn't precisely - um - jolly. Eugene O'Neill doesn't really do jolly. And the production was notable, I must say. My pal Tom and I are horrendously sharp critics, and we were fascinated by the accents in this effort.

My pal John was playing an Irish bartender (I love him dearly) with a slightly slippery grasp on his accent. The guy playing Chris, the old drunken Swedish seaman who is Anna Christie's father, was extremely Swedish about every sixth word. But the gal playing Anna was the capper - she sounded exactly like Anybodys in West Side Story. Given that according to the script, she was raised on a farm in Minnesota and then worked as a whore in St. Paul, this was interesting. Also weird.

And of course, we're dealing with O'Neill at his most turgid here. By the end of the show, if I heard the words "Dat ole debbil sea" one more time, I was going to scream. Not to mention the fact that O'Neill evidently felt that none of his characters should ever do anything but talk - and that's what they do. Unless you've got a very clever director (and my pal Ted on this one did his best), what you get is endless hours of people standing up or sitting down and talking at each other - interminably. As far as I'm concerned (and I assure you I'm allowed an opinion here because Eugene O'Neill is my second cousin - yeah, for real), the man either bores you to extinction (don't ever, ever, if you value your sanity, go near any of the early one act plays - Dynamo comes to mind here) or rips your heart right out - as in Long Day's Journey Into Night (I grew up in exactly that family - you think I'm kidding, but my aunts and my mother all said the same thing) or Moon for the Misbegotten. Other than that, my loves, you may have Cousin Gene on a platter.

However, there was one lovely thing that had absolutely nothing to do with the play. The couple sitting in front of me and Tom were necking. Now this is a tiny, tiny theatre. These two were sitting almost onstage in the front row, and they were necking, and nibbling each other's ears, and holding hands. I fail utterly to understand several things about this. 1. Were they perhaps under the impression that they were at the movies? 2. Were they entirely unaware that the "action" (see above) on stage often came to within two feet of their seats? 3. Were they (this is the best explanation) merely trying to alleviate the unrelieved O'Neill gloom? And 4. if this was what they wanted to do, why on earth didn't they just go the hell home and go to bed together? Call me confused.

So, on the next leg of my jolly social explosion here (which I have every intention of enjoying to its fullest, since God knows when I'm going to have anything to do but the laundry for the next million years), there's swing dancing on the pier at 14th Street tonight! Yay! If you can think of anything better than dancing on the edge of the Hudson River on a summer's night, I can't. I'm going to wear a nice full skirt...you can't swing dance in jeans. Oh, all right. I can't swing dance in jeans. It's just wrong, somehow. I was probably scarred for life by all those Fred Astaire movies.

I used to date a wonderful man in Chicago back in the 60s (God, I think it was before I married my first husband, which would put it somewhere in the Pleistocene Age) (I think I actually spelled that right - or else spell check has no damn idea what I was trying to say and will probably suggest plasticine or peroration for a substitute). This gent was a newspaperman who had gone to Groton and Harvard and been on the Chicago Sun-Times Paris desk - very, VERY chic (he later won a Pulitzer prize, which means I've dated two Pulitzer Prize winners and am a friend of a third - this guy, Roger Ebert whom I briefly dated, and John Patrick Shanley, a great drinking buddy - aren't I cool as hell?).

Anyway (digression is my middle name - Wendy Digression Booz), dancing brought David to mind. Our dates used to follow an absolutely lovely pattern. Drinks at Riccardo's, an upscale newsman's bar, dinner in whatever French restaurant David had found (invariably one run entirely by French people, which has a lot to do with why I love Tout Va Bien so much - reminds me of those dinners with David), then on to the coffee and brandy and dancing at the Pump Room. With me wearing my nicest cocktail dress. Ah, those were the days.

I shall now take a nap and prepare for the evening's jollification.

Love, Wendy

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Extreme Necessity of Punctuation

Fascinating story title on CNN just now - "Man saves lives, donates 50 gals blood." Excuse me? This is a video story, which means I can't get it because I don't subscribe to their video feed (since I think you have to pay for it). However, I think I prefer it just as it is, because it's such a rich field for speculation.

Now, I am the first to appreciate the problems of space in headlines. One of my first non-theatre jobs out of high school was working in a company for which I wrote catalog copy, and I sat there with a printer's ruler carefully measuring how many ens and ems I had to work with for a headline and the selling copy. (By the way, if you think this was a glamorous copywriting job, you would be entirely wrong. The copy I was writing was about things like radial tires and sump pumps.) These days all of this is done by computer, but back then you had to do it yourself. Ens and ems, incidentally, are measures of how much space letters and spaces take up - you used to hear copy editors saying things like, "Put an en dash in!"

But surely that line about the blood could have been fixed somehow. Obviously it looks like this life-saving character has donated the blood of 50 gals to a blood bank (that would have made it "50 gals' blood", of course), which can't possibly be right, can it? I mean, surely they can't be talking about his saving lives if he's drained 50 gals of their blood. I know vampires are madly popular nowadays, but still...

So one presumes that he himself has donated 50 gals of blood. Well, you know, I honestly think (and remember, I'm experienced!) that room could have been made for some sort of period in there. Like, Man saves lives, donates 50 gals. of blood. This would have made it completely clear. One can only hope that the gent has done this over a fairly long period of time - otherwise we're sort of back to the vampires. I don't think the human body actually CONTAINS 50 gallons of blood at any one time.

I am unclear about this whole thing because I will not under any circumstances donate blood. First and foremost, I'm violently needle-shy, and my nurse technicians at my doctor's office laugh their heads off because every time they come at me for a blood test I pick up a book and start reading very assiduously with my head firmly pointed in the opposite direction from whatever they're up to. This is a great improvement. It took me years to explain that if you didn't let me do some sort of displacement activity, I simply passed out cold. I would get up, say, "Oh, that wasn't so bad at..." - thud. The other reason I don't give blood is because I'm A. RH negative, which makes a lot of people sick if they're given my blood, and B. I take blood thinners, which makes my blood kind of iffy for people who don't need blood thinners. (And I carry nice little cards in my wallet announcing all this, just in case. I hate any medical anything, having had WAY too much to do with it, but let's not be silly. Suppose I get in an accident? I wear clean underwear too, just like Mother told me.)

I have had the most frustrating damn day. I haven't heard from my possible new temp agency, so I was very pleased when my old temp agency (the real one, not the crazy lady) called and asked if I wanted to work next week at a law firm I like very much (or at least as much as I like any law firm or any job that's not in film/theatre). This was around 11:30 in the morning. I leaped at the chance, and the guy said he'd call me back after he talked to somebody or another.

Well, he finally got back to me about 3:30 in the afternoon to tell me they'd decided to go with one of their internal people.

This sort of thing infuriates me. Either don't call me, or call me for a job that actually exists, for God's sake. Don't make me sit around all day and wait for something non-existent.

So the whole day was wasted - I mean, it isn't as if I had anything earthshaking to do, but I do like to get dressed and take a walk, if only over to Christopher Street where the cheapest cigarettes are to be found (cheap being relative these awful days). So I screwed around on the computer, submitted myself for several background jobs on my casting website, read Dickens, ate some things, and in general did fuck-all. Growl.

However, things are looking up. I actually have social engagements tomorrow night, Monday night, and Tuesday night! Isn't that amazing? Tomorrow I'm going to see my pal John's play in company with a few of the other Richard III survivors, Monday night I'm off to the East Village for a friend's performance at a silly restaurant I love because you can get cheap red caviar and blini, and Tuesday night I'll be off with that same pal to the Philharmonic concert in Central Park. And they're doing Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Sibelius! I mean, what's not to like about Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and I adore Sibelius because he's wonderfully creepy. I produced Hamlet once upon a time (not to mention playing Gertrude and doing the costumes - should someone ever ask you to do this - DON'T), and I used Sibelius for the Ghost's music. He wrote a piece called the Swan of Tuonela (sp? - although I think I'm right) which is just spine chilling and was absolutely perfect for the Ghost. And fireworks afterwards! I love, love, love concerts in the park with pals. Lots of lovely food and wine and music and talk and outdoors in Central Park at night without getting mugged - what more can one ask?

Speaking of Central Park at night, why are people so goddamn stupid about it? Almost every day there's a story in one paper or the other about somebody getting mugged at 2 am in Central Park. You want to attempt to explain to me why on God's green earth anybody with a brain at all is in Central Park at 2 am? Unless, of course, it's another mugger and somebody got him first. This would be lovely. One story I just loved, in a ghastly sort of way. This was a tourist who got mugged. According to the story, he was in the park after dark, "carrying bags from Tiffany's, Coach, and Louis Vuitton." Hell, I'd sure as hell mug him, wouldn't you? I think some people need minders when they travel.

Speaking of which (tourists, it was, I think), once when I worked downtown, I was waiting for a bus on my way home and there was a tourist lady there with a couple of dollar bills in her hand. Well, all of us nice New Yorkers (and we are, you know, if you're not stupid), told her gently that the bus wouldn't take dollar bills and we'd be glad to get together and change them for her. She WOULD NOT LISTEN. She kept saying that it was just fine, and she was sure the bus driver would take the bills, and we kept telling her that no, he wouldn't...and of course the bus came, and guess what? And this, I might add, was a well-dressed American! We were not attempting to convey our advice to a non-English speaking person. She was just stubborn as a mule - I bet she was the absolute ruler of her garden club at home in Little East Armpit, Illinois.

Another time I was on the same bus (well, I'm not fond of subways - buses are much more fun) - it was the 6th Avenue bus - when we came to Chambers Street and there was a HUGE crowd of people at the bus stop. I mean, 40 or 50 people. Now the bus was already crowded (well, it was rush hour, after all), and the lady who seemed to be the leader of this mob got on the bus and announced to the driver that all of these people were about to get on the standing room only bus. The driver, quite logically, said, "Hey, lady, look at this bus. I ain't got room for all those people." And boy, did she try. He had to get them on the bus, they were an Italian tour group and they must get on the bus, and the driver kept wearily saying, "Lady, there ain't no ROOM on the bus." Eventually, she was persuaded that there actually wasn't enough room on the bus - helped along by the original passengers, who had been patiently waiting for ten minutes by now and probably all had festering dinners in their CrockPots - and got off the bus.

Honestly. When I travel, I do my best to sink quietly into the scenery. I don't go places without research. Admittedly, I go to our own house in France and to London, which is essentially my city, but I still don't behave like a tourist. I dress politely (gosh, I guess I'm not a real American - I don't own a single pair of Spandex bike shorts, flip flops, or a skin tight wifebeater) and behave politely. And I have the best damn time! So there. As always - give what you want to get - and things work out quite nicely.

Love, Wendy

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

No, I haven't taken leave of my senses - or not more than usual, anyway. It's just that I walked into RiteAid today to get some toilet paper (aren't you glad you know that?) and discovered that they had an entire aisle devoted to Back-To-School and autumn decorations.

Now, today is the 10th of July, I believe. NYC public schools let out on the 26th of June. By my count, that means that the kids have been out for about two weeks. WTF?

I have gotten used to seeing Christmas decorations for sale before Halloween. Annoyed, but used to it. I have a very large gift shopping list and a very large grocery list around Christmas, and seeing all that tinsel before I've even begun to think about my (even larger) Thanksgiving grocery shopping list tends to make me panic. Please, guys - could we have summer before back-to-school, and Thanksgiving before Christmas, and all that good stuff?

When I was a girl (that would be 1908 or so), back-to-school occurred in August. It was great (this is when I was in grammar school, which I loved - I HATED high school and was just vile at it). You went out and got all your new underpants and undershirts - little girls don't wear these any more, I don't think, but in my day you started dressing with your Carter's Spanky Pants and your undershirt, which was basically what we now call a wife beater and was, I think, intended to keep your chest warm. Well, I grew up in Chicago. Maybe little girls in warm climates didn't wear them. And you got a new red plaid dress for the first day of school. St. Thomas Apostle, where I went to grammar school (second generation - my mother and my four aunts all went there) was a solid sea of red plaid dresses on the first day of school. And also before school started, the usual package would appear from my older cousins Carol and Cathy with the hand-me-downs - which, if they were in any wearable shape when I got through with them, would then be sent on to my cousin Mary. I think a lot of Mary's clothes had about three distinct hemline marks on them...Carol got them the right length, they were taken up a little for Cathy, a little more for me, then again for poor Mary. I may add here, because this is beginning to sound sort of like Jane Eyre or something, that none of us were poor - it's just that we were 50's kids, and the depression was pretty clear in our parents' minds - use it up, wear it out, make it do. Of course we all had perfectly good brand new clothes to wear, but why waste stuff when the kid grows out of it in a year anyway? And there we were, with a lovely four girl line to pass down through. (My boy cousins passed down too.)

In other news, I have discovered that my new favorite website is fark.com. which is a compendium of all that is completely nuts about the world today - which means it's a pretty large website. Today's gem was, of course, from England - the nanny state par excellence- which is refusing to let a mother take her severely epileptic son to school until she undergoes a criminal records check. WHAAAT? Now, the state has already given this child a chauffeured car to get him to school - but the chauffeur is certainly not trained to deal with the kid, who requires 32 (yeah, 32) medications a day. Anybody think there's anything just a little off about this? Don't all talk at once.

In another recent story from fark.com re England, another mother was refused the right to do something like serve cupcakes at her child's school without a criminal background check. In this case, they discovered that the woman did indeed have a record - only it wasn't the right woman but someone else with the same name. The nanny state has decided that it's up to the poor mother of the child to prove to them that she isn't the one with the record. Meanwhile, who's serving the cupcakes? Given the bizarre Alice in Wonderland notions that seem to be so rampant in England, I'm just waiting. I'm quite sure that if it takes too long for the poor gal to prove that she's innnocent of anything, they will then get her for child abuse because the kids don't have cupcakes. Sheesh. And I thought smoking bans were bad. (There was ALSO a story from England where a gent called the police to get them to stop a bunch of teenagers throwing rocks at his house and breaking the windows. By the time the police arrived, some two hours later, the guy was in his yard waving a piece of wood at the kids - naturally, he was arrested. Kindly remember he hadn't touched them - but by God, he was threatening them. And we can't have that.)

I just had a thought. If they are going to keep all these mothers from acting like mothers to their children without having checked their backgrounds for criminal activity, wouldn't it be a great deal more efficient to have them checked for criminal activity before they're allowed to engage in sexual activity? No sexual activity = no babies, and then nobody would have to worry about it. Makes sense to me - but making sense doesn't seem to have anything to do with it.

I leave you with a lovely old Quaker saying - "Everyone's queer but thee and me, and sometimes I wonder about thee."

Love, Wendy

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hey - I'm Good

Well, my, my, my. I am here to tell you that taking employment tests at one's very own computer is absolutely the best thing that ever happened. Sitting about in one's nice clean brand new schmatta (yes, showered, washed hair and all like that) with a friendly cigarette in the ashtray and a can of that absolutely awesome Arizona watermelon juice works wonders. High marks on my Windows test, high marks on spelling and grammar (um, duh). I mean, on the Windows (the one where I normally score in the general category of "very low to sub-normal"), I actually got 100% in basic word! 100%!!!! Me!

I didn't take the typing test because my computer decided it wouldn't open it, but I've been doing the online typing tests and getting roughly 60 words a minute, so I'm not concerned. My computer also did something VERY weird today. It decided to come from an alien planet. I was trying to get into the test site without using the link that had been emailed to me (on account of not being able to open the typing test) when the computer decided it was going to go backwards. Uh-huh. I went to type in the URL and instead of showing up on the screen as what I typed (www.proveit.com), what appeared was moc.tievorp.www. I was somewhat disturbed by this. However, rebooting solved that problem (or got rid of the aliens, whichever).

In re rebooting - once when I was at dear old Pillsbury Winthrop, I was typing away when all of a sudden I smelled something burning and sure enough, there was smoke rising from my computer. I promptly turned it off (hey, I is a computer tech) and called the Help Desk - or, as the entire office referred to it, the Helpless Desk. Guess what they told me to do. Yup. "Have you tried rebooting?" Well, no. I'm damned if I'm rebooting ANYTHING that has smoke coming out of it.

So, yes, about that stove I was going to buy. I have decided that I'm going to put that one off for a while until I see whether today's testing bears fruit in terms of steady work. It seems to me that it would be a great deal more sensible to keep what I've got in the bank until I have some sort of regular paycheck coming in again. And if somebody comes over for dinner, what the hell - I can always saute something - this because the bottom drawer doesn't close properly - Joshua tends to kick it - and therefore the oven temperature gets wonky. So there.

Speaking of dinner, I started the day off in a deeply healthful fashion with a quarter of a lovely cantaloupe and some cottage cheese - a combination I like in summer. Then I went to hell with myself and after I took the test, I decided I should definitely have a treat (well, of course). So I bopped over to a bar in the East Village which serves something I love with an unholy grease-craving madness - fried shrimp in a basket. This is one of the world's most out-of-date dishes, and I adore it. I don't know another place in Manhattan that serves it - maybe Bubba Gump's Shrimp joint in Times Square, but if you are under ANY impression that I would A. eat in a Times Square tourist trap, or B. pay what I'm sure would be $27.95 for the privilege of what would probably be three shrimp, you are entirely wrong. At my joint (it's the go-to for people working at LaMama, which is how I found it because I was doing The Three Sisters over there), for a pint of beer and the shrimp and a tip, it's an even 15 bucks. And lots of shrimp and really good fries. Then I came home and hung out on the porch hoping for non-existent rain (growl - they keep talking about thunderstorms, but they never get here), then I went to the deli and bought some nice garbage to eat and dined on heavily buttered popcorn, beer, and some Pepperidge Farm cookies. Deeply into health food, that's me.

While I ate this elegant repast, I read a cookbook (I always read cookbooks when I eat alone - because I LIKE reading cookbooks). This was my copy of the old 1950 Gourmet Cookbook, which is hysterically funny in spots - at one point they seriously suggest that you pit jumbo black olives and stuff them with foie gras. They also write recipes in that paragraph style, as opposed to a list of ingredients and what to do with them. One of the recipes I came across tonight was just annoying.

It was a recipe for lasagna, and it told you how to make the meatballs, and the tomato sauce, and then it told you how to layer the dish. Well, the problem was that after perfectly clear amounts for the meatballs, the sauce, the sausage, and the lasagna noodles, it then casually talked about layering all this with mozzarella and ricotta. No amounts given. Nor, incidentally, was there any indication of what size pan should be used. So how much mozzarella and ricotta do you buy, for heaven's sake? I mean, since the recipe serves six, I could figure this all out if I had to, because I know how to cook, but why the hell should I have to? This sort of thing makes me crazy.

I have no idea of what I'm going to do tomorrow. I submitted myself for a couple of background things (that's extra work to you non-SAG types - hee, hee, hee - did I mention I GOT MY SAG CARD?), but nobody's called me. So I'll just wait for many phone calls and emails - from casting agencies, from temp agencies, from old boyfriends, from anybody else who wants me...and meanwhile, I'll read Charles Dickens because I'm catching up on my Dickens and having a lovely time with it, thank you very much. Mr. Dickens is tailor-made for people like me who read too damn fast...you have to force yourself to slow down so as not to miss characters and to be able to keep track of the ones who appear in Chapter 2 and are not seen again until Chapter 26, and also they're nice thick books. Lots of reading to be done!

And one final and ghastly note - merrie olde England, my great good place, has lost its collective mind. They have decided to begin paying attention to racial prejudice in day care centers, and one of the markers for blossoming racial prejudice among the three year old set is assumed to be not liking ethnic food. So evidently if your three year old, the one who has been on sausages and mash and a nice beef and kidney pudding, turns up his adorable little nose at vindaloo, the Nanny State will be watching him very carefully to see what his racial prejudices are. Eh? Huh? For those of you out there who are not blessed with offspring, I am here to tell you that a three year is quite liable to turn up its nose at damn near anything - including the dinner that was eaten last week with every evidence of delight and is served again this week. This is flamingly silly.

Love, Wendy

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Would somebody please try to explain to me what on earth goes on in men's minds? I have been wondering about this because one of the people I saw last Saturday was a man I absolutely adore, whom I saw every single Saturday night for quite some time, who just suddenly decided he didn't want to see me again. I have never had a satisfactory explanation for this one. (I had an explanation, of sorts - but I assure you it wasn't in the least satisfactory). He wouldn't answer phone calls or emails, and I eventually quit trying because it obviously had no effect on him and just made me crazy. However, every time he sees me (which isn't exactly frequent, but since we know all the same people, it does happen), he greets me with huge hugs and kisses and is obviously thrilled to spend time in my company. We were not, by the way, even having an affair together - just being friends who hung out together every weekend. And there's no other woman. And he's still delighted to see me. WTF?

The other man I always think of in the context of what the hell goes on their heads is a guy I was with long before I met Sarah's father. This gent and I WERE sharing a bed, and we used to go up to this great A-frame house he had in a tiny little town in Pennsylvania. You know, curl up in front of the fireplace and watch the snow - all that good romantic stuff. And he introduced me to all his friends around town, and every time we were up there he'd say things like, "Do you ever think you could really live in a small town like this?" And, "All my friends think you're just great." And, "Are you sure you wouldn't miss New York?"

He then decided to give up his NYC job and apartment and move permanently to Pennsylvania. At which point, when I asked (logically enough), "Well, what about us?", he answered, "What made you think we were going together?" HUH?

You would think that someone like me, whose friends are almost entirely male, would have some sort of handle on this stuff by now, but no...I'm still left going, "What in hell are they THINKING?"

Other than that, I am going out to spend more money tomorrow, and that will be the end of my shopping spree, because I hate being broke. Today I went to the Strand, which is a place into which I should never set foot, and bought a couple more books (oh, yeah - just what I need) and I found a buy one get one half off sale at Payless (I was slightly worried about this, because for a minute there I thought I'd end up with only three shoes), which got me the red ballet flats I wanted and also a pair of wedges, which I've always wanted to try. Given the sale, they were 7.60...which means if I hate them I can get rid of them without guilt.

I wanted the red patent ballet flats because it occurred to me that while that black and white checked dress looked great with its self-belt and black flats last weekend, I bet it would also look great with red flats and a red belt. So far I haven't found the red belt, but I'm looking.

Tomorrow's purchase is going to be a new stove, because I can afford it and because mine is really on its last legs. PC Richards has a sale - a Tappan range - self-cleaning, tra-la! - for just about 400 bucks, and I'm getting really nervous that our old one will blow up on me.

And then I will settle down and become a nice quiet lady who saves her money and sits home making little stuffed animals for amusement. Riiigghhht.

Love, Wendy

Thursday, July 3, 2008


No, no - I was NOT talking to my body. I assure you it doesn't need any help in that direction.

I'm talking about the fact that yesterday I went uptown, went to my bank, obtained a cashier's check for a truly frightening amount of money, and went to the offices of the Screen Actors Guild - AND GOT MY MEMBERSHIP BACK! To those of you not in the business, this means that I can (presuming someone hires me to do so) go out and do background work in motion pictures and TV and get paid $130 a day. Not to mention free food, time and a half for overtime, etc., etc., etc. Yahoo!

Other than that truly terrific thing, I have done not much of anything. I called the nice people at the temp agency Saint Tiger Lily put me on to, and found out that I can actually sit right here at my own computer and take their typing and computer and whatever test...which I think is an EXCELLENT idea. Taking an employment test in my bathrobe with no makeup on strikes me as an extremely civilized way of going about things. Of course I could, I suppose, just go to an agency office in my bathrobe with no makeup on and do it, but somehow I don't think this is quite the thing, do you? "Yes, she's really absolutely marvelous for the job and you'll be very pleased with her. Now, you'll have to be prepared for the fact that she walks around in a ratty bathrobe, bedroom slippers covered in cat hair, and untweezed eyebrows, but other than that..." I don't think so.

Of course, the best part of this is that I can sit at my computer with a fully prepared cheat sheet next to me with cues to all the things I invariably forget how to do whenever the word "test" looms up. The recent employment tests I've taken have made me so traumatized that this is a HUGE plus. So I will spend the weekend taking all these nice typing tests that one finds on Google and making my cheat sheet, and test on Monday morning - after yoga and a nice shower, breakfast and the papers - feeling fresh, clean, stretched, full of food and well informed. What the hell. I think I'll even wash the bathrobe.

I have been shopping. Having achieved the microwave, I got carried away after I left the SAG offices and went over to the Conway on 34th and 7th in my never-ending hunt for the morning deli walk schmatta - I know I bought one, but Sarah was right - it really was too bathroby and anyway too big. Somehow I felt Conway could help - and by God, there it was. It's intended to be an actual dress, but it's heavy lined cotton (of course washable), falls straight from the neck, and hides my entire body, which is exactly what I want. Admittedly it's got these crappy plastic beads around the neck, but after all - all I want it to do is look reasonably polite to run 200 yards to the deli in the morning. I hadn't planned to wear it to any Oscar parties. I keep saying it - there are actually two of them because they were 8.99, and it seemed reasonable to have one in the wash and one on the body - one in a black and yellow print and one in a red and white print. Now I'm happy.

And today I popped over to Kmart because I was looking for some loosish light summer pants for neighborhood errand running - jeans get heavy in 90 degrees. Also I wanted more T-shirts. Kmart was a dead loss on both those items (the pants were all Capris, which I hate, and the T-shirts either had stuff on them - flowers and junk - or were in weird off colors), but I did manage to get a new hand mixer (ours died one Thanksgiving and it really is easier than using a whisk for the whipped cream for the pumpkin pie). But I found the canvas slipon shoes I like in summer for 5.99 a pair and bought three pair - beige, black and white. (I'm still not into sandals because I had a horribly severe toenail fungus a year ago and they're still growing out. One can only hope nobody was eating while reading that bit of TMI.) Then I went over to RiteAid for cigarettes and got myself some of that body sugar stuff - I've been really horrendous about using my body butter and I've now got the worst alligator skin you've ever seen (please God, nobody whom I might ever want to see me in the nude is reading this). I'm a little nervous about it because all those things look like they'd scratch the hell of me, but I'll slavishly follow instructions and give it a try. I mean, I WILL get a date some day. Won't I? WON'T I?

I am going to spend the weekend cleaning. Yes, well...at least I'm going to TRY and spend the weekend cleaning. With all this neat new stuff in my life - SAG card, body sugar, possible new temp agency - I really should quit lolling about and get my life organized. And I've had a sign from God that I should get the ironing done on Saturday night (unless someone ASKS ME OUT), which is that Princess Bride is on Channel 13. This is a perfect ironing movie because since I know it by heart, I don't actually have to keep my eyes on the screen all the time (except for stuff like the shrieking eels and that wonderful swordfight).

Rereading the above, I really think I should also make an effort to find myself a nice man, because I'm beginning to sound just a little desperate...

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What Have You

I keep thinking about getting a Crock Pot/slow cooker. However, I have several issues with this idea.

First of all, every recipe I've ever seen for one of them seems to involve mushroom soup and appear on the cover of Family Circle magazine. Or on one of those magazines that turns up on the newsstand when you're looking for, say, Gourmet, which is called something like "Feed your family for 12 cents a week!" Secondly, all these recipes say cook for six hours or eight hours. Well, now there's a major problem. My office hours are usually 9:30 to 5:30. That's eight hours right there, and there's travel time. And shopping time, if I want to, after work. Meanwhile, this thing has turned itself off, but there's all that food sitting there, hot, in a very enclosed space. This seems to me like a recipe for ptomaine poisoning if I ever heard one. I think I'll wait until they invent a slow cooker that will refrigerate the food when it's done and then reheat it at the touch of a button. That seems safe, right?

Anyway, nothing in a slow cooker will ever have crisp edges, and I'm very big on crisp edges. Admittedly, I make stew, but the stews I cook are invariably named ragout, or daube, or bourgignon...or carbonnade a la flamande. Somehow I feel none of this would work, and anyway it wouldn't make the house smell good on a cold day, which is the point of stew, isn't it?

I got my new microwave! I was so excited I came home immediately, plugged it in, and reheated some leftover lo mein. Yahoo. I almost got the microwave I REALLY wanted, but I'm saving that purchase until I get rid of Joshua, whose grasp on technology is shaky in the extreme. PC Richards had a microwave/convection oven for only $149, and I was drooling over it (I paid, with tax, $86 and change for mine), because we used to have one when they first came out and it was something like $500 bucks then. However, given what Joshua can do to appliances (and almost anything else), I felt the better part of valor was to wait until he moved out. Anybody who can bend a slotted spoon nearly in half and break a potato masher should not be near anything that requires pushing more than one button at a time.

And tomorrow is glory day...I'm off to get my new SAG card! On the advice of pals who are in SAG, I have carefully removed my student film stuff from my resume, because I wasn't supposed to be doing it and SAG gets frantic about this sort of thing. Thing is, they want you to bring in a resume when you arrive to pay your (fabulously expensive) fee, and I didn't want to risk it. The resume I actually send out has all that stuff on it, of course.

Also, I want a country house in Vermont. This is something I will never under any circumstances get, on account of it requires lots of things I don't have, not counting money. This dream would need:

1. Either a man with a car or a car and chauffeur (I'm a true city kid - don't know how to drive and don't want to)

2. A deep desire to spend more than two days out of the city

3. The ability to exist without an all-night deli (well, one does run out of cigarettes and Ben & Jerry's - not to mention cat food)

4. Changing my sleeping habits altogether to allow for the fact that in the country, I've noticed, those friggin' birds start in at 4 in the damn morning and nobody can sleep.

5. Some sort of actual love for trees and all that stuff. Trees have their place - which are along sidewalks. I'll also give you Central Park. But at least you can see buildings from Central Park.

My cottage in New England fantasies were somehow awakened by reading H.P. Lovecraft today, which is very weird - both Lovecraft and the notion of a cottage in the woods. This is because all of Lovecraft's stories involve New England and populate it with horrible monsters...kindly don't ask why my psyche suddenly began to think that this would be ANY place for me. Frankly, I don't sleep well without fire trucks, ambulances, and gay bitch fights under my window. This is my lullaby. I find country silence extremely threatening. Ah, well. I'll just go back to my other getaway dream - a place in Key West, near Duvall Street, where I can walk to everything - and have fire sirens, ambulances, gay bitch fights AND an ocean. This is obviously perfect. (And of course there's the REAL dream - a flat in London - but that'll have to wait until I win MegaMillions.)

Ah...the welcome sound of a soprano shriek of either fury or delight outside my window. Now I can sleep.

Love, Wendy