Category Archives: Opinion

Rude Sandwich

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In the waning hours of the holiday season, we decided to squeeze in one last activity by heading out in the pouring rain for a matinee showing of The Accountant.  Perfect rainy day activity but ultimately a bit more interactive than I anticipated.

I drop my wife off in front so she could avoid the rain and get tickets. I then wade off to find a spot in the crowded parking lot to dock my vehicle.  50 yards from the theater, I wedge in between two other U-boats; but before I step into the monsoon I get a txt from my wife advising to skip the line and just find us a seat in the theater.  She notices there are no ticket takers, and with 5 minutes to the show if one of us doesn’t grab seats we may be watching the movie with our necks at a 90 degree angle to our bodies.

She’s not kidding.  The lobby is wall to wall-to-wall wet wool and bad breath.  I serpentine through the lobby masses and head for the entrance to our theater.

Somehow on my way in, I get sandwiched between three larger than life characters (husband/wife/child).  The woman in front of me is unaware I have slipped in front of her husband and is narrating her thoughts on seat selection at full volume.  Clearly thinking hubby is right on her heals and having selected her preferred row she barks, “How ’bout this one?”   At the same time she wheels around and finds herself face to face, with me.  Apparently she thinks I am a big white ghost because she lets out a, shriek, then immediately breaks into this humongous HAW HAW HAW when she realizes she has been blabbering absentmindedly to a total stranger.  She and I do this little dance in the aisle, and I step into the row immediately in front of her selected row.  BIG MISTAKE.

Anyway, the woman, her husband, young daughter (I’m guessing about aged 8 – in an R rated movie??), tub of popcorn, large drinks and assorted luggage sit behind me and continue their conversation through the previews.   I put my wet umbrella in the cup holder of the seat next to me and a minute later my wife lands.

A man and woman in front of me are also working through a large vat of popcorn but not 5 minutes into the previews, the man gets up and heads for the snack bar.  He returns as the opening scene appears on the screen and I miss the set up for the movie.  He then proceeds to sit (thankfully), pauses briefly before tearing into a grocery store size bag of something.

Could have been candy.  Could of been Calamari. But whatever it was, it was two hours of crinkly loud.  Like nails on a chalkboard, how someone could occupy themselves with a bag of such volume is unimaginable.

Now this is no spoiler, but The Accountant is about a high functioning man with Autism who is also a trained killer.  As you might surmise, the movie builds around the eccentricities of this unlikely combination of behaviors.   Pretty much every time the Accountant mumbles some inappropriate comment or puts a bullet in some nasty guy’s head, the trifecta behind me bursts forth with hearty HAW HAW HAWS,  MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCKS, and HONK HONK HONKS.  Even the eight year old.  Between the inappropriate comments, head bullets, and GUFFAWS there is the occasional “jump out of the closet/big white ghost” scene met withheld now familiar womanly shriek followed immediatley by a stereophonic MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCK, and HONK HONK HONK.  Oh, and of course there is the ringing cell phone during the final head/bullet scene.  She answers it of course.

Between the the incessant CRINKLE, CRINKLE, CRINKLE and HAW HAW HAW,  MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCK, HONK HONK HONK, I feel a bit like week-old turkey in a rude sandwich.   To say the rain must have driven all the rats out of the sewers would be a huge overstatement, but I have to chuckle at the world in which we live today.

A few additional thoughts:

  1.  The Accountant is worth seeing in the theater or in home.
  2. Next time I choose the long ticket line over seat selection.
  3. “All you had to do was pick a freaking decent seat and you picked the two between the Three Stooges and Willy f’ing Wonka.” (reprimand from my wife)
  4. When I get a little uptight.  I write.
  5. If I put the words, “Donald Trump” in my blog post will I get more views?

Hell Is A Forever 21

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Hell Is A Forever 21

Your time has come. You head on up to those pearly gates to meet good ole Peter. You boldly state your name, he looks through his list, and examines you gravely.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You can’t come in. I’m afraid you have to go to…the other place.”

Being the gentleman that he is, he gives you directions. On your journey, you begin to imagine the terrors of the potential scenarios that await you: the classic hellfire, or perhaps an eternity of hard labor? You envision desolation, unimaginable heat, a jail cell. But as you round the corner and meet your fate, you see that it is even worse than you could’ve possibly imagined.

Before you looms a massive Forever 21.

As you enter, for a moment you are fooled.
You think, “I guess I haven’t been so bad! I get to shop the latest trends and pay next to nothing for them! This might be fun!”

You wander into the first cavernous room. It is “festival” themed, with racks of flower prints, fringe, and tie dye surrounding you. It’s not exactly your style, but you think you might find something you like.

But then you take a closer look. The racks have no organization; random clothes are all mixed together. You find a shirt you might like, but alas: XXL. You glance around, thinking there MUST be a rack containing your shirt. You carefully begin to dig and sift, like an archaeologist trying to preserve a bone (because surely there’s an order to this madness, right?? Someone must have a plan here….right?)

You search and search, but it seems that is the ONLY shirt of its kind in this god-forsaken room, despite the fact that the room is enormous. You begin to grow weary. You’ve exhausted this room’s many racks so you wander into the next space: club themed.

Somehow, despite the fact that club attire is not at ALL your style, the devilish pull of the store takes over your body and you find yourself once again desperately sifting through racks, shelves, and corners. You begin to succumb to the feeling that surely there must be something in this room for you to try on. I mean it’s so BIG! There are so many options! In your sheer desperation to get to the dressing room, you grab several items in varying sizes close to yours, thinking “Well, I don’t really like this on the hanger, but maybe it’ll look really great on!”

This happens in room after room. Your arm grows weary from carrying so many items, at which point you get excited all over again. You think you MUST have something you’ll love in there, simply because there are SO many pieces! You begin to search for a dressing room. At this point, you are shaken from your concentrated stupor enough to notice the music: thumping, mind-crushingly repetitive pop music. Each song sounds exactly like the last, except that each NEW song is somehow WORSE than the last. You start to get a throbbing headache, both from the horrendous sounds you’re being forced to listen to and the sheer weight of the clothes you’re carrying.

You round the corner and FINALLY: you see a dressing room sign. You gleefully rush towards it and BAM, you get smacked in the face with the sight of a line so long it makes Disney World on spring break look like amateur hour. You hold back and join the end of the line.

Approximately 3,892 incredibly painful seconds go by as you stand there like a pack mule with your load. You have time to think about each minute of your life, each choice you have made, and wonder how you ended up in a place like this. Your head throbs, your feet ache. And just when you’re about to give up, you get a dressing room.

You walk down a dirty, dingy hallway and go into a small, cramped dressing room. The door’s lock is broken. Fluorescent lighting causes you to jump when you see yourself in the mirror: you look like an evil witch who did meth for 6 years. You take a deep breath and try on the first item. It fits terribly, with itchy fabric that somehow highlights all your worst qualities. Great. So now you’re a FAT evil meth witch. You try on item after item, each piece (like the music) worse than the last, until you’re utterly convinced that you were the most heinous creature to walk the face of the planet. The mirror becomes your biggest enemy.

And then: a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. An item that you normally wouldn’t think twice about: it’s plain, boring even. But it doesn’t make you look as bad as the others! Comparatively, you’ve never looked better and…look at that! Only $6.49, what a steal! Relieved your efforts were not for naught and energized by your “find”, you dump all of the other clothes with the pained woman manning the dressing room and find your way back through the maze of the store to the checkout. Hardly believing your bleary eyes, you are stopped in your tracks at the sight of (you guessed it!) another line longer than the Amazon river.

Brain about to pulse out of your head, with no self esteem left to give this terrible place, you decide maybe you should look around at the rooms you missed until the line dies down. You wander aimlessly into a room with western attire. And then one with workout clothes. And one with bathing suits.

…And you do this for the rest of eternity. Because hell is a Forever 21.

Train Training

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As I zipped along in the underground confines of the Q train yesterday, the subway car began making odd noises. About every 30 seconds or so, the train would make a horrible groaning sound as if the side of the car was grating against the wall of the tunnel.

My friends, if you’ve ever ridden on any form of public transportation (and I certainly hope you have, unless you are fabulously rich and can afford those things I’ve heard speak of called “taxis”), you know that irritating, delay-causing, and exceedingly odd occurrences happen each and every day. So my subway car making a horrid noise was not cause of any alarm or concern.

But it did get me thinking…

How in the hell subway drivers train to become a subway driver?! There must be some sort of class, note taking, hours of simulated driving, an exam they must pass. They MUST have a training period.

BUT, as in most jobs, there must also be that terrifying and nausea-inducing first day, in which the little baby bird of an employee must leap (or be shoved) from the safety of the training nest and ACTUALLY perform whatever task they have been hired to do.

What I want to know is how many times I have ridden on a subway that was conducted by a driver on their very first day. Does this explain a myriad of strange occurrences throughout my time as a dutiful subway rider?

I think back to the other day when, rather than the typical automated voice droning the stop and subsequent instructions for being a courteous rider, a person with a strange, high pitched, circus-announcer voice came over the intercom and made announcements.

“Laaaaaadies and Gentlemeeeeen, this is LEXINGTON and 59th!!!” He screamed excitedly, as if nothing so thrilling had ever before happened in his life.

“Pleaaaaaase step out, step out, step out of the car quickly! And make room for our new guests! New guests, new guests, kiiiiiiiiiiindly move to the interior of the car, say hello to the other passengers, and away, away, awaaaaaaaay we go!”

…This strange man was making the N train sound like a ride at the fair or a jaunty square dance rather than 20 people too many squeezed against each other like extremely uncomfortable sardines.

Could this be because it was this odd man’s first day? Was he so incredibly excited to finally be fulfilling his dreams of driving the N train that his enthusiasm was spilling out and over the intercom?

And could this explanation account for just yesterday, when the train inexplicably honked its incredibly loud horn over and over again, causing me to think “Who the hell are you honking at?! We’re on a singular track! I surely hope you’re not honking at ANOTHER TRAIN, sir or madam, because if you are, we are all about to die!”

But perhaps this was simply a fresh employee, being initiated into some secret subway drivers’ club by honking the horn and casually terrifying unsuspecting passengers!

I began to imagine the inner monologue of the inexperienced man driving the Q train I was currently on, awkwardly and continually scraping the side of the train against the walls.

“Oh…oh shoot. Sorry! Sorry. Dammit,” He would think, as the train emitted its shocked groan of discontent.

Swear pouring from his brow, he would nervously overcorrect and scrape the other side instead, all the while thinking, “I’m TRYING here! But this subway track is absolutely NOTHING like the one in the simulation! I think MAYBE these tracks have been updated since they developed the driver training in 1987!”

This is all just a theory, dear friends, and once which I’m sure bears very little merit. However, the thought of it entertained me until the conclusion of my ride, and I felt the amusing need to share my theory with you.

What do you think, subway riders of the world?

Service with a Smile…And About 400 Other Emotions

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I recently moved to New York City in hopes of pursuing a career as an actor. Just like 95% of the people currently living in this city.

Determined to defy the stereotype, I turned my collar to the hoards of waitressing jobs, convinced I could hold out for better.

Better, ladies and gentlemen, turns out to be….wait for it….customer service.

Yes. You heard me right. I went to a prominent University, wrote a thesis, and graduated from the Honors College so that I could be in customer service.

The seemingly bizarre part is, I’m finding myself struggling with it. This overly educated, extensive vocabularied, overachieving uber-nerd is having trouble with SERVING CUSTOMERS.

I’m shocked to my core. There are a mass amounts of online applications to learn, inexplicably detailed instructions to remember, specific verbiage to use when speaking, and impeccable decorum to uphold. My friends, this job…is HARD.

It’s causing a rollercoaster of emotions that only an overachieving actor is capable of exuding. I’ll begin my day confident, answering simple messages and calls with ease. I find myself feeling silly for ever considering this job a struggle in the slightest. Humming to myself, my confidence builds over several hours, and ultimately I get juuuuust cocky enough so that when I get the most bewildering, confusing, and complicated message and request in the world, I completely fall apart at the seams.

Suddenly, I can’t remember ANY of those inexplicably detailed instructions. What the hell do I do next?! I find myself hurriedly clicking through the myriad of tabs I am required to have open on my computer, searching for answers from applications that only seem to be laughing at my extreme incompetence and making my brain seize up. All of a sudden, I feel as though my entire cortex has crashed, I get incredibly panicked, and have to do what no nerd EVER wants to do….consult my notes.

MY NOTES. I can’t even remember how to create an account, reship an item, and soothe an irate customer on my own. To an overly studious dork such as myself, consulting my notes is a sign of weakness akin to a New Yorker consulting a map in their own city. You drown in the impending shame, disappointment, and horror due to your lack of skills and crumbling sense of self.

I end each day feeling as though someone has ripped away a chunk of my personality, depriving me of any shred of self confidence, and I conclude my hours feeling parched of intelligence and leave with a head full of scrambled eggs.

Finally I come to the final destination of the emotional road on which I have been progressing throughout the day, whose previous pit stops consist of confidence, shock, pain, depression, and confusion. No mental Disneyworld or metaphorical beach awaits me here; rather, this weary traveller crashes straight into a solid brick wall of anger.

The anger tends to explode in the form of many, many questions. Why the heck do my bosses care so much about beauty products?! Who cares about Random Rachelle’s missing lip balm?! Why do people think their products are going to ship to them when they haven’t ADDED AN ADDRESS to their order?! Who could possibly want to be receiving MORE emails from this company?! Why are they all SO irate about choosing which minuscule sample of body wash will be sent to them this month?!

The final question is always this: why is it that THIS is the natural path for actors? It’s a given that artists must begin their “careers” with having a “day job” in order to support themselves monetarily. According to some unspoken rule, I MUST bang my head against a metaphorical wall of complaints for seven hours a day so that I can have the “luxury” of going to my audition and actually getting to do what I love for five whole minutes of my day.

This seems so incredibly backwards to me. Who decided this was normal? Imagine if we told accountants “Hey friend. I know you’re a great accountant, but before you can…you know, actually crunch those numbers, you’re gonna need to be a yoga instructor all day long. I know you went to school for accounting and you’ve never cared about yoga a day in your life, but nevermind all that! You can do your little math problems at the end of the day, but we’re not gonna pay you for it. Pay those dues, baby! Enjoy!”

It’s hard to imagine, yes?

And yet, we, as actors, do it. Willingly. We get up each morning and commence dealing with the vicious cycle of complaints and overflow of emotions just so we can attempt to pursue what we are most passionate about in this world. And that, my friends, is something most people cannot say about their jobs.

So…you tell me. Am I lucky? Deranged? Brave? Insane? An inspiration? A whiny baby? Some combination of all of the above?

When you figure it out, let me know. I keep trying to determine that myself.

Bereft as Background

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A couple weeks ago, I got a message from a casting director. It said they’d like me to come work as a background extra on a high profile upcoming TV show that’s currently filming their first season. Now, to preface this, you need to know that I am a recently graduated actress with a fancy degree and training coming out of my ears. Right now, I’m a post-grad with no job, so a little money and the opportunity to work on a real film set made me practically pee my pants with joy. Here’s a little rundown of how my day went.

5:15 AM: Wake up. Do my makeup and hair (trying to impress anyone important I might see. Naturally. Imagining people saying “Who’s that adorable extra?! We need to hire her as a series regular IMMEDIATELY simply based on her wicked good looks!!”)

6:00 AM: Leave my house. Drive a nice long drive in rush hour traffic to get to set early (I am perpetually the goody two shoes. Again, why not impress people?)

6:45 AM: Arrive at the sound stage. Feel important because a very nice worker in a large, fancy van picks me up at my car and drives me to base camp. Maybe getting up early wasn’t so bad.

6:50 AM: Get to check in. Immediately lose my newfound sense of importance. Feeling lost and confused, feeling like everyone’s staring at me because I’m clearly incompetent and have obviously NEVER done this before. Feeling like I’m making everyone (including myself) feel uncomfortable.

7:00 AM: Sit down next to a man and woman (early 40’s) who look like they know what they’re doing. I learn they’re extras all the time and have worked on every major project that’s filmed here. They’re making themselves sound important and all of a sudden my fancy degree is making me feel even more incompetent, since both say they didn’t go to college.

7:30 AM: Tentatively say, “Am I allowed to eat the food?”

7:31 AM: Get overwhelmed by the amount of nice food and end up getting scared and panicked and randomly selecting a dry cereal. Brilliant.

8:45 AM: FINALLY get to set! Eager to get started! Let’s make me a movie star!

8:46 AM: The production assistant leads us through the incredible set and into a horribly lit back area where we are instructed to sit in metal folding chairs and be quiet until someone comes to get us.

9:30 AM: Still sitting in this folding chair. The PA re-appears, tells us to continue to sit and to please be quiet. I am now feeling like an abandoned kindergartner and I’m getting antsy.

MANY HOURS GO BY. MANY, many hours. So many hours that I’m feeling like they’ve forgotten us. All of a sudden it’s lunch and we still haven’t done anything. I’m feeling confused and irritated, but the other perpetual extras don’t seem to mind. I drown my sorrows in a giant piece of Cheesecake that’s not very good.

3:30 PM: After 8 1/2 hours of waiting, we are fetched by the PA and led, like cattle, onto set. Our big moment has arrived!!! But wait…our big moment includes walking from one end of a hallway to another, over and over and over again. What? This is not what I signed up for. I cannot decide which is worse: The evil folding chair room or the sad, back and forth walking.

4:00 PM: I am somehow paired with an insanely annoying and slightly creepy boy, about my age, who keeps insisting on holding my waist while we do our incessant walking. Umm…can you not?! I don’t even know your name and you smell. Please go away and stop trying to get me to put my head on your shoulder. I’m not ACTUALLY a hospital patient and you are NOT my boyfriend. Goodbye.

4:45 PM: “BACKGROUND?! Can you NOT make so much noise with your shuffling feet?! Again, NO noise with your feet. Clear?”
…College degree certainly necessary for this job. Not.

5:00 PM: We are returned to our hell hole of a waiting room. My butt is no longer amused by this game, and is not enjoying the return to its awful folding chair. The lady I met back at 7 AM insists upon showing me picture after picture of her cats. I do not like cats and I certainly do not care about yours. Please desist.

7:00 PM: I am hungry. I am sleepy. I am starting to feel like an awful person for not keeping up a chipper attitude even though we’ve been here 12 hours.

9:30 PM: We are FINALLY released! Oh thank you, little baby Jesus! Unfortunately, I had to return the next day and do it all over again. Lesson learned: being an extra is essentially being a glorified prop. Actors not needed, just people with inordinate amounts of patience.

If The “Rich” Pay More, Will My Morale Be Improved?

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As a Federal Income Tax paying American, I do not know whether my morale would be improved if the “rich” are required to pay more.  But I do know my morale would be improved if EVERYONE was required to pay something.

And by the way, if I pay Federal Income Tax, does that make me a de facto member of the middle class??

 

Man Up Obama.

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It is my observation that individuals who do not take responsibility, tend to have been in positions in their lives for which little responsibility has been required. 

Blame is something generally heaped on others whereas responsibility is something generally heaped upon oneself.  Blame is about dumping.  Responsibility is about seizing.  Blame is about taking care of oneself.  Responsibility is about taking care of others.  Blame is selfish.  Responsibility is selfless.

I have to say I am getting a bit weary of our President pointing the finger of blame.  Everyone knows that all the problems of America are not his fault.  Even if he didn’t remind us at every bend in the road.

 Do you think the President’s focus on blame is a function of his past?  A past in which he has had to take little responsibility?  

One of the big knocks on him during his campaign was his inexperience and how that might affect his ability to lead.   I think for the President, the first step in his quest to become a great leader is to yank the reins of responsibility.

The job’s not easy.  But didn’t anyone tell him that when he campaigned like a bad assed champion to get it?  When it comes to great leadership nobody cares who caused the problems.  They only care about the person willing to take responsibility, the person who will seize responsibility and get ‘em fixed.

…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”  Luke 12:48 (NIV)

Or if that does not compute, two words: Man Up!