Friday, November 21, 2008

A Little Sondheim Music

In Stephen Sondheim's wonderful show, A Little Night Music, the lead (Desiree, an aging actress) sings about her career, to wit:

Pack up the luggage, la la la,
Unpack the luggage, la la la,
Which town is this town? La, la, la
Heigh ho, the glamorous life.

(The la, la, la bit is Sondheim's, not mine. I know the words, he just wrote those la's in there. Listen to the album.)

Which is, of course, what our lives are like - those of us who have chosen acting as a life.

And this leads me directly to the madly glamorous world of movie making. So, yesterday:

Arrive nicely on time for 10 am call at a temple on the upper East Side (75th and Lexington). Collect papers - the all-important pay slip (wherein you give your SAG number and call time and all that stuff which allows them to pay you - VERY important), and the I-9 form, which announces that you are, in fact, a citizen or resident alien of the United States of America and can prove same.

Hang out in temple for an hour or so, get checked by wardrobe (suitably dull colored? Good to go. No red scarves or hats.).

There is NO COFFEE. Never work indie films. There was NO COFFEE. There was water and there was one lonely half bagel, which I scarfed up, along with some cold water. There was (yes, I know I'm repeating myself) NO COFFEE.

Walk down the block and get on background bus to get to site - which is Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Get on set. There is NO COFFEE. There is, thank God, hot water and packets of hot chocolate mix. 'Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as an ocean, but 'twill serve, 'twill serve.* However, there is still NO COFFEE.

Go be a background person. Walk here. Leave your mark at twenty beats. Okay, terrific. Now for this shot, leave your mark at 17 beats. (This means that when Action is called, you count to twenty or seventeen, as the case may be, and then move to where you're moving. Okay? Are we clear on this?)

This goes on for two and a half hours. Kindly remember that it is 38 degrees out.

Okay! Print that shot!

Back to bus, which doesn't have enough seats for everybody and is a climb up those stairs and a bit of a hike to get to from set. Get on bus and begin to thaw...then, as soon as thawing begins, get told to get out to craft services truck for food. Food is all cold, as far as I can tell. Have ham sandwich and some popcorn. There is NO COFFEE. What is WITH these people?

This takes rather less than an hour...not like anyone wants to hang out in a bus eating their lunch in the aisle.

Back to fountain. New scene. Yay! It now being three in the afternoon, begin to see light at the end of the increasingly cold tunnel (on account of there's this thing called, you know, um, sunset). Listen to Lisa Kudrow making small speech about our commitment to dead babies and their memorial service. (The scene is supposed to be one of those walks where you remember dead children who died of crib death or something and you have a badge with the name of a dead child on it...first scene was us all lining up to get said badges.) Gawk in a mild manner at Natalie Portman standing about four feet away. (But not while cameras are rolling. Anyway, I once saw Zero Mostel in his underpants a million years back when I was an apprentice...Natalie Portman is NOTHING. Lots smaller, to begin with.)

4:30 pm and completely congealed, many layers of clothing notwithstanding. Get wrapped (i.e., our day is over). Get told that we're being bumped (being bumped, in union language, means an extra payment) $25.00 bucks for not enough seats on the background bus. Cheer, shiveringly. Go back to temple. Get signed off. Go home and uncongeal. Not sure whether cold beer was exactly the proper thing for uncongealing, but it tasted wonderful.

Heigh ho, the glamorous life.

And you know what? I loved every second of it. There were lots of neat people to talk to, lots of industry chat, one lady who took my name and number for a new play she's doing, and a general feeling of bonhomie and we're all in this together. Freezing to damn death and (I think I'm beginning to belabor this point, but we were all yelping) WITHOUT COFFEE, but absolutely united...in our deep desire to get the fuck out of Central Park and get somewhere warm that had hot food...and COFFEE.

And today I went trotting off like a nice little temp lady to my Population Council job and sent all those nice things off to Guatemala and Mexico and Bangladesh...and that office was colder than a witch's tit today, and the ladies room was friggin' freezing. Key West (only one of my favorite places in the whole sidereal universe) looks wonderful about now.

Tonight I had to take the subway home on account of being out of Metrocard (and wouldn't you think that the MTA would realize that there are those of us who are bus people and would dearly love to be able to buy a Metrocard above ground?). However, that was fine because just across the street on Lexington there is an AT&T store, and I had to stop there. I tried to charge my phone with the charger I keep downstairs last night and it wouldn't charge, so I tried with the upstairs charger, and it wouldn't charge. Evidently, I needed a new battery for the phone. I figure one charger not working may be the charger's fault, but two chargers not working has got to be the phone's fault. And I have two chargers because of the mitten theory. You know the mitten/glove theory. If you lose one mitten/glove, and you throw out the remaining one, the second it irretrievably disappears into the maw of the garbage truck, the other one turns up. This is what happened with my chargers...couldn't find one, bought another, a day later the original turned up. Anyway, turns out that my phone was so old (two years...oy, does technology ever not know from old) that they couldn't get a battery for it, so they gave me (GAVE me, like for free) a new phone. The voice mail seems to be screwed up somehow, but after trying to fix it for half an hour tonight (with customer service...hee, hee, hee...misnomer of the century) and it's STILL not working, I'll worry about it tomorrow.

Anyway, having achieved a new phone (I like my old one better, but I'll adjust), I found myself entering Grand Central to get the Metrocard and the shuttle at the door to that glorious food market. So I wandered through, wishing I could buy everything in sight (it looks rather like Dean & Deluca...everything all polished and not for the likes of us poor people). What I had planned to do was go to Gourmet Garage over by Christopher Street and get some shrimp for dinner, because they usually have great cheap shrimp. The shrimp at Grand Central were running in double digits, but as I was passing the last seafood stand on my way to the subway, I spotted a cooked lobster...FOR TEN DOLLLARS. For a 1-1/4 pound lobster. Well, hell - the best I can do at Gourmet Garage is 8.99 a pound for medium shrimp...so guess what I had for dinner? (Sidney Poitier, on toast...oh, no, that's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner).

And just as I had finished my lobster, two pals turned up, and I actually got to talk in my own house. Well, Joshua doesn't converse, he pontificates, and Caesar keeps yelling at me to change my name or, alternatively, to feed him...and if the two of them are together, they talk to each other at cross purposes...and the result is that I never seem to get to talk in my own house. I had a lovely time, thank you.

And so to bed. Oh, and that asterisk? Here:

*This is what Mercutio says when he's dying in Romeo and Juliet - Act One, Scene about three, I think, but don't quote me. Romeo is saying "Courage, man, the hurt cannot be much," and the above regarding wells and oceans is Mercutio's line before he dies. And if you didn't already know this, you should immediately quit reading crap and apply yourself to Shakespeare. Yes, I am a snob and snot about it. Live with it.

Love, Wendy

1 comment:

Jay Williams said...

Big Lisa Kudrow fan. How as she?

What about Natalie Portman? She's really sweet. Tell us more about her.