Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Back to Boredom

Well, after the brief flurry of excitement over two jobs in two weeks, I have sunk back into my accustomed habit of casually drifting along.  However, I've got one more check coming (the one from Boardwalk), which is at least something to look forward to.

I haven't been entirely a slug; there are a couple more pictures up on my walls, and I actually got out to my lousy grocery store today.  I must say that even though they don't carry much of anything in the way of meat for one person (i.e., steak), they really do have a great selection of fruit and vegetables.  This is interesting, since I really am living in the housing projects over here, and the received wisdom in New York City is that you haven't any selection of good fresh food in the ghettos.  I don't know what this means, exactly...probably nothing more than that my neighborhood is gentrifying,  However, since I'm the beneficiary, I have no complaints.

Yesterday I was madly active and focused...it was Sarah's day behind the bar at the Bistro, so I had a list of things to do that would eventually bring me to her...go to Citarella (a lovely gourmet grocery store on 6th Avenue), get my upper lip and chin waxed (menopause makes you look like an aging billygoat if you don't keep track of your fur, and I'm allergic to the home products) go to Barnes & Noble (because I couldn't stand to wait for the new Janet Evanovich book in paperback a second longer and thought I'd splurge on the hardcover), go to the bank to deposit my lovely check from Law & Order ($225 and change...almost worth the cold, wet, and snottiness), and buy cigarettes.  And I actually accomplished every single one of those things!   I'm quite proud of myself.  Tonight I'm going to hang a couple more pictures and take out the garbage, and tomorrow is laundry day.  Face it...we party girls know how to live.

I watched the Oscars on Sunday, as I usually do.  About the only reason I do this is that I always hope for some sort of nice disaster in either outfits (in terms of bad taste, not nipple slips...I mean, I've got nipples.  Who cares what they look like on other people?) or thank you speeches, or something interesting.  Everybody's gotten terribly correct, however, so it becomes boring.  But, as it IS, after all, my profession, I do feel the need to keep up to a certain extent.  I haven't seen any of the movies...I've got The Iron Lady sitting here on the table but I haven't gotten around to watching it.  You see, the SAG awards come before the Oscars, and we members of SAG are sent screeners of all the nominated movies.  Unfortunately I forgot to change my address with SAG until way after I moved, so I missed getting most of the movies this year.  Oh, well.  I'm dying to see The Artist and Hugo, so I may just drag myself off to a movie theatre.  I also want to see The Descendants, just because I will watch George Clooney doing ANYTHING, up to and including his  laundry.

Before the Oscars, of course, I read the Sunday papers, and while the vanity press ads didn't have anything terribly interesting in terms of subject matter, they did yield this little number:

"Does Caleb have the power to take on the enemy and be the bane of its existence?  Filled with dark twists and unpredictable turns, The Long Weekend is a gripping book that will keep you at the edge of your seat."

What I like about this is that it gives no clue whatsoever as to what/whom this "enemy" might be.  Are we fighting Satan?  A next door neighbor in the CIA?  The cable company?  It might even be alcoholism, given that the title reminds me of that great old movie, The Lost Weekend.  Whatever the enemy is, it can't be terribly awful, if it can be vanquished in a weekend, right?  However, it caught my eye because the author is a gentleman (I think it's a gentleman) named Ophalandus Brasfield II.  What a horrible thing to do to a child.  If YOUR name was Ophalandus, would YOU perpetuate the agony by giving it to your son?  I say son because I would think that the female would be Ophalanda or Ophalandia.  Whatever the sex, it's a terrible name.  And what would the nickname be?  Opha?  Oom pa pa?  Yuck.

Love, Wendy

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Well, I call that a great shoot on Boardwalk.

First of all, it was a gloriously late call...I didn't have to meet the van until 8 AM, which meant that I could take public transportation and save myself some money.  When I got there, I discovered that I was the only female background actor there, which was interesting...also it made me feel like a star, because I had my very own makeup gal (the sweet Asian gal who's done it many times before) and my very own hairdresser...no waiting in line, no cramped dressing room with 60 other gals in it...and I also had my very own costume assistant to get me into that ghastly mustard and brown outfit.

So I got to eat about two-thirds of my breakfast before I was called to set, which is about par for the course.  But this being HBO, there was a nice fully stocked crafty right on set...you'll never starve at HBO (are you listenng, Law & Order?).

I get to where I'm supposed to be (the second floor back porch of a house supposedly in Chicago in winter, but actually on our set at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn), and I suddenly realize that I'M THE ONLY ONE THERE.  Yup...FEATURED.  I had to come out the back door to the house, realize I was freezing, draw my shawl closely around my head, grab a couple of logs and go back in the house.  Just little old me.  There was action going on below me (passers-by, I think), because there was an action call before my action call, but from my angle I couldn't see what was going on.

But there I was, all alone, being directed, shooting far shots and closer shots...movie star city, guys!  AND they kept asking me to slow down the action...so I think I might even be visible for more than a second and a half.  I'm pretty sure this will be in the first episode of the season, whenever that airs...it's Episode 301, and this was only the second day of shotting for this season.

Unfortunately from the point of view of my paycheck, it was a short shoot...not quite six hours...but really, who cares?  And even better, Steve Buscemi came by while I was sitting on a break, and gave me a big hi, how are you grin!  Can I even begin to tell you how much I love my Boardwalk?

In other news, Time Warner Cable finally gave me a break today...I've been trying to get my old cable equipment back to them (Time Warner doesn't work in this building, so now I have Fios), but it's really a schlep from where I am.  So they've been calling me...but tonight a nice young man called and said he could come over and pick it up!  Which he promptly did, and now I don't have extinct cable boxes any more...isn't that nice?

And the Dweezil  cat damn near gave me a heart attack today.  I went to see Sarah at the Brooklyneer (where she works three days a week) because the shoot was over so early, and then I somehow ended up at the Bistro, and what with one thing and another I was feeling no pain by the time I got home (note to self: EAT SOMETHING, STUPID!).  I got up this morning and as the day wore on, I realized I hadn't seen Dweezil all day.  So I thought he might have gotten out between my legs last night as I was trying to remember how to open my front door or whatever I thought I was doing.  I looked in the closet where he likes to sleep and then started searching the entire house.  Then I started on the hallways in the whole building (because I couldn't find him anywhere), then finally I went and put a note on the lobby wall.  I was getting frantic by this time.  I came back in the apartment, and guess who strolled out of the bedroom yawning at me?  Thanks a lot, cat.  I have no idea where he'd been for the better part of the day.  I'm going to enter him for a hide and seek competition...surely there's a reality show for that?

Love, Wendy

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another Fine Costume They've Got Me In...

Oh, dear.  After a completely hellish last minute commute to Brooklyn...the crosstown 14D was filled with 200 teenagers, then stopped to pick up (and then drop off) two wheelchairs, the A train to Jay Street got stuck in a tunnel, and then the B57 bus took forever to come...I finally got out to Steiner Studios for my costume fitting (to be greeted with delight by Lisa, head of costumes, and Gus, the costume shop dog...so nice to be loved and remembered, although I think Gus was looking for a Milkbone).

I am to be an immigrant carrying wood...shoot date 2/22 (they predict rain, of course).  I will be wearing a long brown skirt, a very saggy brown checked blouse, a mustard colored cardigan and a large brown and gray scarf wrapped around my head and shoulders.  And of course, the requisite laced boots which take for-friggin'-ever to get on and off.  I will look just awful and downtrodden.  I don't think anyone in the world, up to and including Angelina Jolie, looks good in a mustard-colored anything.


Love, Wendy

It's A Wonderful Life!

On my way to a costume fitting for Boardwalk Empire!  YAY!

Love, Wendy

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Warm and Dry...At Last!

What an absolutely lousy shoot on Law & Order today. 

We were called for 8:45 AM (for which thank God...the 5 AM calls are a little hard to take when it's this early in the year and you're wandering around Harlem in pitch blackness).  So I get to holding with a nice guy named Paul whom I met outside, since we arrived at the same time.  This was at 8:30...15 minutes early for the call.  We got our vouchers (to be filled out for paycheck purposes) and asked where Crafty (the food truck - it's called Craft Services) was.  The two background wranglers said they didn't know.  So we thought, well, they'll give us a breakfast break  soon...we'll just sit and fill out the vouchers.  Well, they didn't give us a break.  They made us wait, and when I finally went and said, Hey, it's 9 AM and I haven't eaten yet and I got up at 5 AM to get here, the girl said, "Well, Crafty is right by the train...why didn't you stop on the way?"  No...no, it most certainly was not.  Turned out Crafty was on 127th Street, and the only way you could see it was by going two blocks out of your way.  Then she said we should have gotten there early if we wanted to eat, at which point we informed her that we HAD gotten there early and been told that she and her male cohort didn't know where Crafty WAS.  At which point she sneered at us...charming girl, just charming.

So some of us didn't get breakfast because this cute pair kept preventing people from going to Crafty.  Not just me and Paul, but other people as well.  Luckily there was a deli right at the set, so I just announced I was going in to get something to eat before I keeled over and didn't take no for an answer.

It rained all day and was in the 40s, and we were kept in two of the coldest holding pens I've ever been in, and of course when we did go out to shoot it was damp and cold.  And then, just to top things off, they wanted us to take the subway home, which is against the rules, on account of it's in our contract that if a shoot goes beyond 9 PM, we HAVE to be dropped off in a safe location.  Trust me...the subway at 125th Street is NOT a safe location at that time of night.  We quickly disabused them of this cute little idea and made them get a van and get us back into town (it was a small group).

What friggin' assholes...but really, I have been so cold and damp all day.  I'm just letting off steam here.

On the bright side, lunch was excellent, and I got a 12 hour day which included wet pay, one meal penalty, and some night differential...it shouldn't be a total loss.

I can't even begin to tell you how nice it is to be wearing nice warm jammies, a nice warm bathrobe, and lovely, fuzzy, DRY slippers.

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Promise To Do Better

I do apologize...I have been being so damn lazy about this blog, and it's getting embarrassing.  I will begin to be a grownup and keep up with myself here...honest.  (Well, in the interest of full disclosure, it's highly unlikely that I'll begin to be a grownup, but at least I'll keep up with the blog.)

The biggest news is that I got a Law & Order for tomorrow, and not only THAT, but they're finally letting me out of Brighton Beach and my Russian persona (Law & Order ALWAYS casts me as Russian).  This time I'm going to be on a soup line.  This is obviously a lateral move rather than a step up, but at least I don't have to go to Brooklyn.  Unfortunately, I DO have to go to 141st Street.  Since I now live on 2nd Street, this is a bit of a bitch, but I can do it entirely by bus, which is wonderful.  Central Casting says they think it's going to be an early call, which means I will be trotting out to a bus stop at 3:15 in the morning, but the wonderful thing about the East Village is that there are people all over the place at 3 in the morning...the bars don't close until 4 am.  And Sarah (who knows her East Village) says it's fine then.  So no problem.

Well, that was deeply annoying...just had to stop and reboot.  And while I'm thinking of rebooting, my all-time favorite story about rebooting is the following.

One morning I came in to work at my old horrible law firm, and started up my computer and noticed that smoke was coming out of it.  Well, I hastily turned it off and then crawled under the desk to unplug it.  I called our IT department, and guess what the first thing they told me to do was?  Uh huh.  Reboot.  Now I ask you.  Would anybody in their right mind try to start something up that had SMOKE coming out of it?  I personally think that all IT departments are staffed by robots, and whenever they hear a phone, they're programmed to say, "Reboot" no matter what you tell them.  "Gerbils are crawling out of my keyboard!"  "There's a sea serpent wrapped around my screen!"  "The computer just blew up and the office is on fire!"  Try it!  Endless amounts of fun for all!

Meanwhile, back on the professional front, nice Yancey at Central Casting not only gave me my Law & Order for tomorrow, but he checked my availability for a multiple day shoot on a new untitled project for March, AND said he'd start sending me out on AFTRA jobs and get me waivers!  The waivers thing is excellent because you can then bypass the entire application process for AFTRA, of which I am currently NOT a member, and I'm missing jobs because of it.  I was holding off because there's supposedly a merger between SAG and AFTRA coming up, which is closer to fruition than I've ever seen it before, but it'll still take at least a year before it goes into effect...and that's a year during which I could be earning more money.  And this AFTRA/SAG merger thing is something we've all been hearing about for somewhat longer than forever...in my case since the 1960s.  Hasn't happened yet.  So very good all around.

And I actually had my first dinner party in the new apartment!  I never had them in Chelsea because I hated the place to begin with and also because the kitchen (and the kitchen table) was in another room, and because of the kitchen storage problems, there was really no room to eat at the table...I would have had to put up the card tables.  Ugh.  Not to mention the fact that I find it hard to have coherent table conversation when people are leaping up and down to go downstairs for a cigarette.  But now, with my lovely open kitchen and all the counter space, we can actually sit around my battered old table and put out the ashtrays!  Yahoo!

I made a very old-fashioned dish that I've been making for about a million years.  It's a sort of bastard lasagna known as Martha's Casserole, and while it's the most church-supperish thing I can think of, people absolutely go nuts for it.  It was a constant feature of Encore Theatre cast parties way back in the 60s, because it can be infinitely multiplied or cut in half, and is pretty cheap.  You take 8 oz. of broad egg noodles and cook them.  Then you saute a pound of chop meat (leaner is better) drain it, put it back in the pan and add two 8 oz, cans of plain tomato sauce.  Then mix 8 oz. of cottage cheese, 8 oz. of soft cream cheese, a quarter cup of sour cream, and one bunch of chopped green onions.  Now, put a layer of the noodles (half of them) in a one quart casserole dish (deepish, for this amount), out the cheese over that and spread it around, put the rest of the noodles on top, then cover that with the meat sauce and a couple of tablespoons of melted butter over the top.  Stick it in a 375 over for half an hour.  This serves 4, but as I said, you can multiply and divide it at will.  And it reheats well in the microwave.  I think I've probably given this recipe before, but it's such a useful thing that it bears repeating.  I served salad and hot biscuits with it.  It's perfect for a cold winter night, and people love it.

And I'm rethinking the apartment yet again...I keep sitting here on my bottom doing nothing, but at least the mind is working.  I let the movers just put shit down wherever they wanted to, more or less, because I was so glad to get here, and then I just left it where it was because of getting Christmas together, in terms of putting books in bookshelves, essentially.  However, we're in the middle of February now, and while I fully expect we're going to have a massive snowstorm or a week of subzero temperatures yet to come (I never trust the weather...that's being a Chicagoan), the fact remains that we ARE going to get to March, and shortly thereafter (yeah, yeah, but time tends to telescope as you get older), I will want to use my airconditioner, which currently has a large leather chair directly in front of it.  This is obviously counter productive, and also anybody wanting to watch TV from that chair has to look sort of sideways.  So I want to move stuff into the bedroom, where there are already bookshelves on either side of my bed.  They are, however, stackable, and they're not currently stacked...so I can get two more in there, if you see what I mean (i.e., the ones I'm moving are stackable too).  That means I can move the bed/couch over and stick the chair angled into the corner, and voila!  Better TV sightlines!  And a clear path for air conditioning.  I'm going to have to take all the books out of all those bookshelves, to which I'm NOT looking forward, but on the other hand, I can really stand to get rid of more books...so it's a good opportunity.

Now I'm going to put away the laundry and decide on three outfits for tomorrow...it's a wear one, bring two day.  That means I need one outfit for being in a soup line and two more outfits for being a pedestrian.  This is a flying nuisance, because Law & Order has a terrible tendency to tell you what to bring and then decide you don't need it after all...and there you are hauling your entire wardrobe all over creation.  Bleahhh.  But I'm working!

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Social Whirl

Oh, I tell you, living in the East Village has certainly improved my social life.  Which is pretty ridiculous, since I could have easily gotten anywhere I chose from Chelsea, which in fact had way better transportation than my current neighborhood has.  I think the thing was that I was simply out of town to most of my friends, who frequently have cause or desire to be in the East Village/Lower East Side area, but who never have any reason whatsoever to be in Chelsea, so they kind of forgot I was out there in exile. 

So last week, would you believe I went to the ballet TWICE?  I have a friend who works in phone sales at the New York City Ballet, and he hooks me up with tickets.  I must say, I was surprisingly unimpressed by three of the ballets I saw.  I went to an all Jerome Robbins evening last Wednesday, and I LOVE Jerome Robbins and was prepared to be enchanted.  With the exception of the last ballet...I wasn't.

The first piece was In G Major, with music by Ravel, and it left me totally cold...the problem is me, I think, not the ballet.  I'm a rank traditionalist, and this was Robbins in VERY modern mood.  The music was interesting though, because I hadn't realized that Ravel died so late.  Somehow I kept lumping him into the 1900's in my mind, when in fact he died in 1937.  The result was that this particular music had a lot of very modern sounding jazz bits in it, which was fascinating.  Please don't ask me what the hell the ballet was about, because I couldn't possibly tell you.  Excellent dancing, of course...just not my style.

The second ballet was a mourning piece called, logically enough, In Memory Of.  It was fairly depressing, what with a dying girl and mourning dances.  It must come before Robbins choreographed Les Noces, which has somewhat the same theme, but which I love...I haven't bothered to look up the dates.  Again, not to my taste.  And it was done to Alban Berg's music, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate Alban Berg.  He got involved with Schoenberg at some point or another, and it shows.  Strange flatnesses and atonalities creep in, and I hate them.  (Yes, I love Tchaikovsky...so sue me.)

Ah, but the third ballet!  It was utterly charming and absolutely hysterically funny.  In my youth (that would be, oh, 1876 or so), there used to be band concerts in the park, not rock bands but little funny oom-pah groups or string quartets and things, and that was what the ballet was about.  A gentleman came out, sat down at the piano onstage, looked at the its keyboard, and took out his hankerchief to dust the keys, at which point a large puff of dust appeared.  It went from there.  People wandered on with chairs to watch the concert...a very henpecked man with a virago of a wife, a group of rather raucous young men in search of pretty ladies, the pretty ladies, and a girl in love with the pianist who sat right at the upstage end of the piano to lean on it and moon at him, and was so fascinated that she didn't move a muscle when someone removed the chair she was sitting on.  (I can do that trick, but it's HELL on your thigh muscles.)  The poor henpecked man kept trying to follow the pretty girls, and his wife bopped him on the head with her purse for his pains...it was just charming and funny and lovely.  And music by Chopin, which was a great relief after that damn Berg stuff.

Then last Friday I went to a dress rehearsal of the new Christopher Wheeldon ballet, DGV: Danse a Grand Vitesse.  I could NOT make heads or tails of this thing.  Wheeldon is supposed to be the new Great Hope of choreography, but frankly...  The music was by someone called Nyman (I think), and was interesting.  People came on and off and did all sorts of lifts and things, and various people writhed in the background, and I found the whole thing somewhat depressing.

But what the hell...I really can't spend the rest of my life confining my ballet going to Swan Lake, now can I?  One must broaden one's horizons.  Even though I should love to see Swan Lake at the moment...it's at least comprehensible.  And it has pretty tutus.

You may or may not have gathered that I am a ballet nut.  I had great plans to be a ballerina, and took ballet for years, and would, in fact, have made a terrific ballerina except for one tiny little problem...I am without a doubt the most untalented dancer in the world.  How on earth I managed in all the years I did musical comedy is beyond me...up to and including actually dancing in Sweet Charity.  Yeah, a Bob Fosse show.  In that instance, I announced to the choreographer that I was a singer who moved (preferably behind a large piece of scenery) and he said, "Don't be silly!  By the end of this season, you'll dance!"  At the end of the season, he said, "You know, you were right.  You can't dance."  Duh.  I knew that.  Another choreographer, fascinated by my complete lack of dancing talent, once told me excitedly, "I've got it!  You can't count to eight!"  I can count to eight, you know...just not when I'm trying to dance.  I start to forget the steps somewhere around six.  Ah, well...there's always Shakespeare.  THAT, I can do.

And tomorrow night I'm going to see a friend's band playing.  What I should be doing is hanging pictures (they're all still leaning against the bedroom bookshelves) and generally getting this place together properly.  But I want to go out and play, so there.

And tonight I watched the third Narnia movie (so I'm a nerd...so what?) in complete comfort in my big chair with my Diet Coke and my ashtray.  I love it here!

Love, Wendy