Monday, October 25, 2010

Free of the Javits!

That was a long, long week there. Next year, I swear I'm going to find myself a little battery operated heater, if there is such a thing, and tuck it under my feet. But as always, the two guys who run the computer expo are very nice, so except for the freezing and boredom, it wasn't as bad as it might have been.

Nothing's coming up, so I might get deeply busy cleaning my house, which two dogs have not improved in the least. I must say it's fun to have them around, though. There's something deeply cozy about watching television with two nice warm dogs resting their heads on your lap.

My, Boardwalk Empire just gets more naked every day, doesn't it? (No, Beth, I haven't been seen recently, not since the first episode...but keep watching!) I must say I was quite pleased this past Sunday to get my first glimpse of the full male frontal. It's not, you understand, that I have any great interest in gentlemen's what have yous...not after two marriages and many rather less formal liaisons. Face it...unless you've got a square knot or an interesting tattoo, you guys all look pretty much alike. No, what was bothering me was that we were getting lots and LOTS of ladies in all their unpruned glory, but the boys were always covered with a sheet or something, which I felt was some sort of discrimination. Small sidelight about the movie business in re that "unpruned glory" remark...did you know (well, how could you) that they actually put out a casting call that way? For women who would appear in the nude and were "completely natural; no Brazilians." I wonder if anyone desperate for work went out and had it put back on?

And I seem to be having a play reading! My friends Pete (my current roommate, he of the dogs) and Trish were reading a one act I wrote some years back, and decided to talk Carla, who owns the bar where they and my daughter all work, into doing it as a reading in the bar! I think this sounds like fun. It's a funny little one act about Gabriel coming back to earth to search for a new Mary for a second Son of God. It should be fun...since the script is somewhat blasphemous (yeah, well, we fallen away Catholics tend to get that way), audience reaction will probably be greatly improved if they're all a little drunk.

Meanwhile I am going to clean the icebox, because the lettuce is brown and the cold cuts are green, and somehow I feel that should be the other way around. Also I distinctly heard rustling noises in there the other night, and I'm deeply afraid that things are taking on a life of their own.

I shall leave you with this...I was reading the paper during a lull at the Javits last week, and my, how the world has changed. Seems there was a gala celebrating 50 years of the contraceptive pill (God bless its little heart - sure did make life more fun). During this event, Cosmopolitan Magazine was presented with an award for Best Contraceptive Reporting. I think this is by far the best award I ever heard of. Sure beats an Oscar for, say, Best Sound Editing of An Already Written Score For A 7 Minute Documentary, or whatever other bizarre things they hand out.

Love, Wendy

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back in the Javits Again....

Why did I remember so many things about the horrors of working in the Javits Center (bring your lunch and snacks, remember that the only affordable coffee is out back by the loading dock, there is nowhere to eat lunch in any comfort whatsoever), while forgetting the main thing...the first day of the Interop Expo is when they set up the Exhibit Hall and LEAVE THE LOADING DOCK OPEN ALL DAY. Aside from the usual pigeons wandering around indoors, the result of this is that an icy wind blows through the whole place for all of your 12 hours there.

Long underwear tomorrow...and boy, does that ever feel sillier than shit in October.

Love, Wendy

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Hundred Shrieking Nurses From Hell

Bet THAT title caught your eye. It is extremely descriptive of the day I have just had...or, even more descriptively, the day that just had me.

Off I went at 7 am to do a medical seminar for a company for whom I have worked many times. These things are absolutely easy, simple, no problems, so I picked up the morning papers, because once you've signed people in, no problems whatsoever.

Oh, hee hee hee, and giggle giggle giggle. There was not one single damn thing that worked today. And by not worked, I mean, craziness beyond belief.

Here is how you do these seminar things. When you get to your location, normally a hotel or that nutsy 7th Avenue joint that I've talked about here (the one that's a conference center and antique store), your boxes of handouts and stuff to sell and your various bits are sitting there waiting for you. You unpack everything, set it out enticingly, and then you collect your nicely faxed list (UPDATED the night before list) and settle back to welcome the hordes.

Yeah. Right. We (me and Vincent, with whom I've worked on many of these things) got there at 7:30 am for a seminar that started at 9:00. There were no boxes. There was no fax. The hotel staff had to go running around to find the boxes. There was no fax. We had to make an entire new list, damn near.

So, OK. It then was made quite clear to us that the organizers had seriously overbooked, because there were seats for 180 people. We had (and this according to the organizers) 196 people. AND we had walk ins. We had to turn down the walk ins after one or two of them. They objected fairly strenuously, but hey, they were walk ins.

This thing started at 9:00 am. Around 10:00 am, a lady (I use the term advisedly...she weren't no lady) walked in and announced that she had a seat because she had paid for it six weeks before, and we should throw out people to make room for her. She was quite determined, and very, VERY loud.

Now, you have to understand that by this time we had already attempted to make room for people by removing tables in one room...which brought down on our heads the people who had been sitting at those tables. All of them, according to each and every one of them, had terrible back problems, and couldn't do without the table. We had also, in complete defiance of Fire Department rules, ranged people along walls and out in the hall, within at least earshot.

Next, a lady turned up...this at 10:30 am for a 9:00 am thing...and she was even nuttier than old Nurse Ratched (see One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). SHE called the cops. No, I'm serious. She actually called the Fire Department to get the whole shebang closed down, but what we got was a very nice cop. Who went away. She also called the Mayor's office and God knows who else.

And when we finally lurched to the end of this day...all of these people who attend are given certificates to say that they have attended before they get professional points for this. Because of the earlier kerfluffle about the old sign in sheet, Vincent and I had to hand write some of these (this always happens...usually with walk ins). At which point we had people screaming that their various employers wouldn't give them credit unless their names were typed.

After that, I went to Sarah's bar and got somewhat drunk. Because, to be honest, the only thing that held me together all day was the notion of nice cold beer. And, given the lovely mix of people at the is just so lucky that there wasn't a nurse in there tonight. Because I would have cheerfully strangled any nurse I saw.

Oh, and by the by, after about 16 of these damn people threatened to sue for not having seats they paid for, I happened to look at the actual title of the seminar, which was: Nursing Documentation: Legally Proven Strategies To Keep You Out of the Courtroom.

Um, yeah.

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disjointed Remarks

Oh, good Lord. I'm now harboring TWO dogs. Really, life does get complicated. As I think I must have mentioned, Sarah's friend Pete is currently living in with his darling (large) puppy Luna...well, it turns out that Aisha (another of the denizens of Sarah's job) has to give up the dog she just got...another largish one, Bella. So Pete is helping with this effort...and in the meantime, guess who gets to live with BOTH dogs? It's damn good thing that A. I love dogs, and B. I have made it perfectly clear that I do NOT walk dogs. Unless they're my own, of course. In fact, I'd have a dog again in a heartbeat, except that my life is not dog-friendly in the least. You can't leave a dog alone for the 16 to 18 hours I'm sometimes away on a movie shoot, for instance. It's cruel first of all to the poor dog, and second of all to my floors and furniture...even though the cat has actually not left much undone to said floors and furniture.

Speaking of which, I honestly got down on my hands and knees today (which, at my age, takes a while) and started cleaning the bedroom floor. Then I got up and got a start on the ironing...wherein I found a dress I haven't worn since, I believe, last spring. Oops. Naturally, what I've been doing is ignoring the entire tottering pile and just grabbing and ironing the pair of pants/skirt/blouse/dress I want to wear that day...but since I have a heavy few days coming up, I thought I'd better tackle the heap.

Temp work has suddenly revved up, you see...which means I need to look like a nice professional type person instead of a friendly Greenwich Village bar patron. I've actually got work for this coming Thursday, Friday, and Sunday through Thursday (all seminar stuff). That's a Franklin Covey seminar Thursday, a PESI on Friday (these are nursing seminars), and then off to the dear Javits Center (retching noises here) Sunday through Thursday for Interop.

Much to my fury, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is forcing me to take a taxi to each of these jobs except the Interop orientation/training session on Sunday (because that's from 1 - 5 in the afternoon). The taxis are because the MTA has cut out my overnight crosstown bus and it doesn't start until 7 am, and has cut the hours of the uptown bus, which also doesn't start until 7 am. This is of limited usefulness to me since all of these jobs START at 7 am. And I am damned if I'm going to walk 6 blocks to the subway in pitch blackness in a neighborhood which unfortunately has gotten pretty dicey at that hour. And it makes no sense to grab a cab to the subway, because the Javits is over here on the far West Side and a straight shot up West Street, whereas the subway is over on 7th Avenue. Oh, and did I mention that after all these service cuts, they're raising the fares again? ARRGGGH.

Meanwhile, if you're not watching Glee, you should be. Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, is lobbying her cute little socks off at the moment. Seems there's going to be (in real life, I mean) a revival of Funny Girl in 2012, and the kid is going for it at the top of her lungs, which are somewhat upwards of considerable. She sang Don't Rain On My Parade at the Oscars this year, and in tonight's episode of Glee, not only did she sing Happy Days Are Here Again, but she was wearing a replica of one of Streisand's first act costumes from the show (the sailor suit, if you care). Personally, I think she's pushing it, but she really is just about the only one of the current crop of actress/singers who could do it...more power to her. Meanwhile, I absolutely can't wait for Tuesday after next, when the Glee cast takes on The Rocky Horror Show...which I love with an unholy passion.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend Raising Hope, which comes on right after Glee. It's silly as hell, and very, very funny...the story of a young man with a mad family who becomes a rather reluctant single father. Try makes me giggle.

Love, Wendy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh, For God's Sake

I just saw this new study that's come out linking childhood obesity to the cold virus.

Boy, it is just really hard for people to admit that they eat the wrong things, now isn't it? And even a mother interviewed for this video says that when she was a kid (and when I was a kid), we were out playing until we were called home for dinner. We were all running up and down the block, we had our bikes out and our roller skates, we were playing baseball in the vacant lot down the block.

By the by, this study encompassed 124 children. Um, no. Could we get a much larger sample here?

When Sarah was growing up, we didn't have junk food in the house because we couldn't AFFORD junk food. I never made dessert because I am not that much of a sweets eater and am fairly lousy at making desserts.

And once again, and probably to the enormous boredom of everyone, because it's my favorite rant. Make dinner. You can do it in half an hour. Look up quick recipes for decent food. Rachel Ray, whom I detest as a person, has very good family recipes that can be made in a short time with fresh food.


And now I'm going to eat some more candy corn (and a nice big mouthful of popcorn) and go to bed. Nobody's perfect.

Love, Wendy

Bizarre Movie Shoot

REALLY bizarre movie shoot.

So Grant Wilfley called me on Tuesday for a shoot yesterday. Be in Long Island City at 6 am Wednesday. And LIC, God help us, happens to be what SAG calls "in the zone." In layman's terms, this location bus.

Up I drag myself at 3 am. Out the door at 4:30 am. On the N train by 5 am. And at Queensboro Plaza by about 5:30 am.

Frankly, I defy anybody who doesn't live in Queens to follow the directions we were given, which were (I know, because I dutifully wrote them down), go to the Five Star Indian Banquet Restaurant at 13-05 43rd Avenue, between 21st Street and 13th Street. Um, WHAT? This is one of those peculiar addresses that only exists in Queens. In case you ever find yourself having to do this, I will be the first to tell you that there are no people, no lights, and no nothing at 5:30 am in Queens. Luckily, a block away I saw a street with all kinds of unoccupied taxis racing down it. UNluckily, as I soon discovered, they were all deadheading in from the airport and heading back to Manhattan, because I had to stop six of them before I found a driver who knew anything about Queens.

Well, I got to holding on time and we shot stuff under the train lines. Then we were told, okay, now we're all going to Times Square. Oh. We are? This little detail wasn't mentioned before, but okay, why not. So we piled into the picture cars (they hire people to work with their cars on various shoots, because you can't depend on actual traffic to move when you need it).

So we get to Times Square JUST in time to shoot during the lunch rush. As I think I've mentioned before, after my nice quiet Boardwalk set, this shooting right in the middle of the immediate world tends to be annoying. You have to spend so damn much time clearing the civilians out of the way.

We shot most of the scene, went to the midtown holding on 46th, and had a nice lunch. Then we finished up there, and were told that the vans were coming and we were now off to 34th Street. Well, to begin with, those damn vans should have been at the subway station first thing in the morning, and we were all fairly pissed off that there were suddenly vans to take us from 49th to 34th (and some of us are planning to lodge a complaint with SAG).

Once the scene on 34th was explained to us, the whole shebang suddenly rocketed into complete and total insanity. This was the first day of shooting on a movie called Safe, which stars a guy named Jason Stathorn, who seems to be quite hot as an action type character. Awfully nice. Very British. Anyway, the powers that be had decreed that the shot was going to be some sort of guerilla filmmaking/cinema verite stuff, where two production people and two handheld cameras would be on 34th Street right opposite Macy's. We 12 or so background people were to form a flying wedge around Jason to protect him from unwanted civilian types.

This was the nuttiest thing I have ever done on film. (I have done many, MANY nutty things in my life, but I've never gotten paid for them before.)

We got out on 34th Street and the production guys, Steve and Brad, organized us into our wedge shape. We then proceeded to stand in this odd arrangement in the middle of the sidewalk across from Macy's for about 40 minutes while we waited for Jason and his stand-in Chris to appear. You simply have no conception of how idiotic you feel standing like this in the middle of the damn sidewalk for 40 minutes. After a while, we started playing around...we'd all look up, for instance, with varying degrees of horror and prurient interest on our faces. This achieved nothing at all, because everybody on 34th at 5:30 pm is either running for a train or to catch a sale, but it amused us for a while.

Well, eventually Chris the stand-in arrived, and we all started marching up and down the street in formation. Yeah. Right. Have you ever noticed how deeply focused New Yorkers are when they're trying to get somewhere? They were shoving us out of the way, intent on their Blackberries and train schedules...

Then Jason arrived, and evidently he's something special, because suddenly people got interested...and it all got MUCH worse. We're supposed to be keeping these people out of the way, but really, when some little girl leaps out in front of the poor guy and flashes a phone camera in his face...I just don't see myself tackling a 14 year old. And some ditzy broad thought it would be great fun, despite all our reasonably discreet closing of ranks, to insinuate herself right in the middle of our flying wedge...oh, and did I mention the lady in the red outfit who wanted to dance with us?

I have never been so tired in my life. Whoever dreamed up this nutsy shoot should Preferably in three locations in one day. Starting at 5:30 am in Queens.

Love, Wendy

Friday, October 1, 2010

Weird Jury Duty

Well, that was deeply amazing.

You have to understand that I seem to do a LOT of jury duty. I almost never try to get out of it, because you have to serve anyway, right? So why bother? I've done it a couple of times, but only because I'm leaving for Europe or something. And I'm always put on a case because I seem to be the demographic they're looking for...nice middle aged liberal woman with family.

So, as I said, I called in on Wednesday night and was told to report at 9 am Thursday, which I dutifully did (in that lousy weather). I got there a bit early because the buses were for some reason nonexistent (two of them didn't turn up) and I knew damn well that even if one did come, it would still be lousy service since New York has this weird thing about weather. You see, New York seems to be completely incapable of dealing with anything other than fair and warmer. The powers that be...i.e., the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) and drivers of cars and anybody else who's trying to get around greets everything like a major emergency...something that has never happened in the history of the world. So if it rains, you get all this doom and gloom about "The subways will flood!" No, actually, they won't. In forty years in New York, they never have. "Snow is coming! Everybody panic!" Um, it's winter. Snow tends to arrive. At any rate, I said the hell with it and took a taxi.

I got to the jury room around 20 to 9, had a cup of coffee and a brownie, and then they called us into the jury assembly room and said "Please sign in." After we had done this, the gal (Clerk of the Court, I think) announced, "The case has been settled out of court. You have discharged your jury duty. Thank you for serving."

Eh? Two from 8:30 to 12:00 and one from 9:00 to 9:10? And I don't have to do it again for four years? I can live with this.

So I went to my decent Old Navy on 18th and 6th Avenue, and found my pair of black, one pair of khaki, and one pair in a nice black and white tweed. I'm not much of a fan of khaki pants, but some of the jobs I do require in wear black pants and a white shirt, or khaki pants and black t-shirt. So, a pair of khakis is kind of a necessity. This being New York, a black t-shirt...or anything also a necessity.

On a related theme (clothing, children...we were talking about clothing), doing background work has an extremely boring effect on one's wardrobe. You see, my colors are black, red, and white. I decorate my various and sundry living spaces that way, I buy clothes in those colors...I mean, this is me. Now, when you get a call from a casting agency, unless it's a period show like Boardwalk Empire, they tell you what to wear/bring. This can get deeply annoying, because quite often they say something like wear one, bring three. Yeah, seriously. And you're shlepping three sets of clothes all over the damn place. But the FIRST thing they always say is, "No red, black or white." Naturally, it's because those colors are eyecatching, which is the LAST thing they want you to be if you're doing background. In that regard, according to me and every other woman on Boardwalk Empire, that show is a dream. Fall out of bed, throw on your jeans and t-shirt, catch location bus. You don't have to touch your hair, your face, your anything. It's all done for you when you get there. Admittedly, this requires you to catch a bus at 5 am, but think of all the time you saved by not having to think about anything!

This is why I agonized about buying that lipstick red dress for the wedding...because I can't wear it for background work. Not like I have the money or the space for two totally separate wardrobes. So now I find myself eying clothing in medium blue, or dark wine red or deeply boring beige...not colors I would choose if I had my druthers. And I cherish the remark of a gal at an open call a couple of years back at Central Casting who, when confronted with the bit of info about the black, red or white rule, said, "This is New York. Have you ever tried to buy anything that ISN'T black?"

Meanwhile, I have a ferocious hangover (yeah, good night at Sarah's bar celebrating my release from jury duty) which, in a deeply stupid move that I should have gotten over YEARS ago, I am attempting to cure with cold beer. Unfortunately, it seems to be working pretty well, or else I'm blitzed again. Which is fine because I'm going to bed...having successfully fought off the blandishments of my roommate Pete and my old pal Jiggers (who dropped by tonight) to come out to the bar. Luckily, the notion of attempting to find clothing is quite beyond me at the moment. I'm going to eat something or other and go the hell to bed. I just hope the dog and the cat don't take up ALL my space in it.

Love, Wendy