May 25, 2006

Last Weekend’s Madness, or The Dampening of My Spirits, part 1

Filed under: PolenBabble, Kvetch! Kvetch! Kvetch! — Twin C @ 1:42 pm

Our good friend and frequent commenter DKNY and the lovely Sally McG got married last weekend, way way way upstate in Blue Mountain Lake, NY. This is not as far as say, Plattsburgh, but it is definitely much farther than say, Yonkers. A bunch of us New Yorkers were to caravan in two big vans, and last Friday morning, we met up at a Budget on the East Side, and got on our way.

It is here that my story starts to get kvetchy. There are two reasons why - the first is that while PSB and I were with the lovely Erin (also a frequent commenter) and her friend Emily (who is awesome), we did not know anyone else in the van. Twin A and Kissyfur and Lee Aaron Blair and Matt Shaw and the Ooghes and Maggie were all in the other van. This was minor. The big reason was that it turned out that our driver was, well, not the best driver. I should have realized something was wrong when he started making very aggressive passes and giving other drivers the finger for no good reason. It was really awful when he was speeding on a highway, in a rainstorm, tailgating a truck, talking on a cell phone, and reading directions from a Mapquest printout, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The stress culminated when he started rolling a joint at a rest stop. Fortunately PSB and another van member saw this, and asked him politely to not get stoned off his gourd while driving us, and he agreed not to.

Rest stops also turned into an issue at one point, when early in the trip our van waited half an hour for van #2 to return, thinking we needed to get on the road ASAP, only to discover that they were all sitting inside having lunch.

We arrived at the wedding location, a set of cottages by a lake with a lodge and a little beach. PSB, A, Kissyfur and I were all in the same cottage together, and no doubt we were given the best place to stay - we had a huge living room with a fireplace, a big enclosed porch, a nice kitchen, and two cute little bedrooms (PSB and I stole the one with the double bed - the other one had two twin beds. SUCKERS!). It was great.

The problem was, much of the festivities were to be held outside. Outside was cold (50 during the day, 30s at night), and rainy. There was a big tent for us to hide under, but it was still kind of cold, and there were leaks in the tent, as I discovered during a song practice we had.

Regardless, we held our spirits high. We had packed warm clothes so we were prepared. We ate our barbecue and had some drinks and reveled. Twin A began an ilicit relationship with two bolster pillows, which he named Pillowy and Pillowina. Kissyfur flew into a rage and attacked them. They then found a strange attraction to me. PSB did not seem to mind as much.

Saturday morning, there were options for outdoor activities. As many of you know, I am an indoor cat, not an outdoor cat, but for some reason I was drawn to one of the two choices: boating. (The other choice was hiking, which PSB wanted to do.) I think because it reminded me of summer camp, or when we went to Lake Placid (as it turns out, an hour north of where we were) on vacation years ago. Regardless, there were paddleboats and canoes, and I was going BOATING! I grabbed all of my warm clothes and bundled up, and headed out to the lake.

It was kind of cold, but fortunately not rainy. A few other boaters gathered. I decided to hop into a paddle boat with R. Ooghe - and off we went!

Paddle boats were a lot slower than I remembered. My legs started getting a little tired. But it was still fun.

Then, a problem. For some reason (as neither R. nor I am exceedingly large), the front of the paddle boat seemed to be leaning forward a lot more than it should have been, and we started taking on water. R. removed his shoes and socks, as they were the only shoes he had brought with him for the weekend and would prefer that they did not get waterlogged, and we made our way back to shore. We decided to get a canoe, and head back out on the water, as there was a “mysterious” island that we wanted to venture out to. . .

May 24, 2006

Two of my favorite things!

Filed under: HA!, PolenBabble — Twin C @ 12:38 pm

Yet another reason why They Might Be Giants are my favorite band.

Via Boing Boing.

Also via BoingBoing, here’s a cyber version of one of my favorite things to set up when I was a kid.

Brag Post!

Filed under: PolenPoker, PolenBabble — Twin C @ 12:29 pm

My poker league finished last night, and I am proud to announce that my team ended up in first place!

I am also very proud to announce that I took first place on the individual scoreboard for most points taken! My best showing was last night, after quite the see-saw battle, I ended up in second place out of 42. I might have had a shot at first, but didn’t really play for it, as it was me and two teammates in first, second, and third place.

I had a blast playing, and really enjoyed the teamwork aspect of it. If I could translate this into some bigger wins in the non-league setting, I’ll be happy. . .

Letters From Lem #6

Filed under: Letters From Lem — Twin A @ 12:14 pm

Todd,

My psychiatric treatment is going well! Some examples:

#1 I just participated in Music and Imagery Group, where Jason, the staffer, played instrumental pieces on guitar and then piano while a few of us sat around a table with magic markers, paints and colored pencils and made interpretative artwork on 11� by 17� pieces of paper. I’m pretty sure the last piece he played was “Music of the Night� from Phantom of the Opera.

#2 The other night, a doctor with grey hair burst into my room at 2 in the morning and barked my name. “I’m Doctor Such-and-such and I’m going to ask you some questions. Have you had thoughts of hurting yourself?� No. “Have you had thoughts of hurting anyone else?� No. He went through the usual tired roster of questions and somehow ended up grilling me about my previous life as an assistant editor for television shows. “Do you want your own TV show?� he barked. No. “Why not?� It’s too much work. “Too much work — that’s another one,� he muttered to his assistant as he disappeared and I collapsed back onto my pillow.

#3 I met with my “team� this morning, which meant walking into a small room and sitting in front of a group of relative strangers who let me know that:

a) I would probably not be receiving any treatment for my broken knee & elbow while in the psychiatric ward, and
b) I would probably not be discharged from the psychiatric ward until “early next week� (this departure date is by no means certain.)

When I asked my team what I should be trying to get out of my experience at 20 East, they encouraged me to “participate in more groups� (see #1).

Someone just asked me if the letter I’m scratching out on a wooden chessboard is a 72-hour letter. Since I voluntarily committed myself, I have the right to request my own discharge in writing. However, the doctors have 72 hours to review this letter, and during that time, they could make the decision to switch me to involuntary status, ha ha! So, no 72-hour letters for me. I’m going to stick to writing missals to you, Todd.

More to come,
Lem

P.S. Good news! I got 30 cents for my sugar packets at dinner! If this keeps up I’ll be able to afford a bag of Fritos from the snack vendor who comes by every Friday at 11 a.m. Wish me luck!

Last Week’s Madness, Part 2

Filed under: PolenBabble, Kvetch! Kvetch! Kvetch! — Twin C @ 11:27 am

At the end of the rollout last Tuesday, the woman who called me about the job (ABC used to hire us directly - I guess they’re trying “outsourcing” the stand ins) asked me if I wanted to go to a “go-see” on Wednesday.

For those of you who don’t know what a go-see is, essentially it’s “you go and they see you”. It’s usually done for print modeling work - magazine shoots or other advertising. They’re usually pretty quick and painless, as you fill out a form, stand on the line, they shoot you, and you’re done.

As I had just spent two days being around a bunch of actors, I felt more connected to “the scene”, especially as one of the fellow stand ins kept telling me “You shouldn’t be giving up! You have a great look and a great speaking voice!” (I think he might have been trying to pick me up, but that’s another story.) So I decided to go to the go-see, and the woman left me a message later that evening telling me to show up between two and four in the afternoon, and giving me the address, and the fact that they were looking for “young dads”, but not much more information.

I left work at 1:45 p.m. last Wednesday afternoon to shoot down to the go see, figuring at the most, I’d be back in an hour. When I got off the elevator, I realized that there was no way in hell that was EVER going to happen.

The room was filled with babies. FILLED. with BABIES. And parents, playing and nursing and rocking and cajoling. Random single adults without babies were strewn inbetween, patiently waiting or looking annoyed. Amazingly, there wasn’t much crying, but to say the least, the room was cacauphonous. There was also nowhere to sit, save for a few spots on the floor not already filled with parents and babies or strollers or car seats.

I waded through the baby pool (heh heh) and found the check-in desk the back of the room, where I was given enough information to figure out what was going on. The print ad was for Babies R Us, and they were shooting the babies and the adults at the same time. I filled out my form and tried to figure out if it would be worth waiting, as my number was very high and the “baby line” and the “adult line” did not seem to be moving very quickly.

I called PSB, who the previous evening had also encouraged me to go, and said “I’ve made a terrible mistake”, while smiling and waving at babies whose eye I had caught. (I must admit, most of them were really cute.)

Eventually I figured that I might as well stay - I wasn’t doing anything at work and my managers are away at that other meeting. But I was in one of the situations that I always dreaded when I was pursuing acting. If I am told to come between two and four p.m., I want to know I’ll be seen between two and four p.m., and not have to deal with a huge crowded room with nowhere to sit. The organizational skills of the vast majority of audition holders is dreadful, even if it’s all adults. It’s one thing if it’s an all-day open call - you’d expect hundreds of people and to have to wait all day no matter how early you get there. But if they give you a specific time range, and you know it’s not an open call (they were only seeing people represented or freelancing with agencies), there’s just no excuse.

Other people from the roll out showed up after I did, and got numbers that were worse than mine, but the line did seem to start to move. The small pack of us stayed up by the desk, watching and waiting. I became really annoyed as people who missed their turn decided to show back up and forced their way back into the line in front of me - I went from being at the top of the list to three people down, adding another twenty minutes to my wait. A woman kept trying to squeeze herself next to me but got aggravated every time we bumped into each other, despite the fact that it was her own fault.

I finally got up to the photographer, took my shot, got a big smile from the woman proofing everything on a computer as they were shot (I guess my picture came out well), and went back to work. I was tempted to call the woman who gave me the information and bitch to her about how awful it was, but it’s really my own fault. I could have left, but I chose to stay.

What’s really silly is that even if they liked my picture, if they choose a black baby or an Asian baby, there’s no way in hell I can be cast. They should have cast the baby first and then built the “family” around it, and only called whatever race they were looking for to the go-see.

In the meantime, I’ll go on more go-sees if called, but I’ll make sure to get more information first.

May 23, 2006

Letters From Lem #5

Filed under: Letters From Lem — Twin A @ 7:26 pm

Todd:

I was walking down the long hallway of 20 East today and one of the nurses admonished Madonna, the overweight black woman who is missing her front bridge and who always asks me for my coffee. “I’ve got my eye on you, Madonna.” said the Nurse. “You can’t be talking like that.” “I was just talking to my nasty Jesus,” protested Madonna. “He was sucking some dog pussy.”

Madonna also does movie commentary. Just now, when Gary S. came on the screen in the TV room, she announced to no one in particular: “That’s a doo-doo man. he wants to smell your butt and eat your shit.” She then drifted off into an ugly scatalogical reverie.

There are a small number of women on the ward, and the ones that are even moderately attractive find themselves under siege from the moment they are checked in. Eliza, the suicidal Polish girl, gets to roll out her conversational skills with mentally unbalanced men roughly once every ten minutes. One of my favorite encounters was when David W. walked up to Eliza one afternoon.

David claims he was built by the U.S. government at a cost of $20 million before an aircraft carrier accident left him with head injuries that resembel schizophrenia. “Do you like Guns and Roses?” he asked. Eliza shrugged. “Well, I invented them when I was a baby.” He went on to explain — “When I was about 12, I asked the Gods and Goddesses on Earth to create the ultimate rock and roll band, and they did, it was the Guns and Roses.” I think I was more impressed than Eliza was.

I don’t have a Nasty Jesus or an Earth Goddess to talk to up here. My conversation comes in bits and pieces from twenty-seven unbalanced people who are operating on a sliding scale of functionality. I did catch myself talking to myself the other night, though. I think I was saying something like, “I need to get out of here.”

More to come,

Lem

Last Week’s Madness, Part 1

Filed under: PolenBabble — Twin C @ 12:57 pm

Looks like we’re consistently up and running, and I’m not getting any work done, so here’s the first catch-up post.

Last Monday and Tuesday I worked as a stand-in for ABC’s Fall Rollout, where they show off their new shows to all the advertisers. All the networks, when doing their rollouts, get as many of their stars together as possible in order to show them off to the advertisers in the audience (I think there’s always an afterparty where the advertisers can shmooze with the stars, but I’ve never been invited). Before the stars show up, they need people to stand where the stars would stand, so they can aim lights and cameras, practice timing, etc., and occasionally mic them up to test the mics and the teleprompters, listen to the speech, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to do this because an old high school friend works very closely with Roger Goodman, the VP of Special Events at ABC. They’ve hired me on and off for the past six or seven years to come stand in for famous people, not so famous people, and audience members. It’s easy money, aside from having to wake up early (no pity, I know), and sometimes a lot of standing around. I haven’t been able to do the fall rollout for the past few years, as a national meeting has always been at the same time, but this year the admins did not have to go, so instead, off to the rollout!

The rollouts are also interesting because you get to be onstage in places that you might never get to be onstage for ever. This year was at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, and years past have been at Radio City Music Hall (HUGE stage!!!!!) and the New Amsterdam theater (where The Lion King plays - amazing stage with a ton of hydrolic lifts and turntables). You also get to be surrounded by really neat sets, with tons of huge screens and projectors and crazy lighting rigs. If you’re lucky, you also get to practice being on-camera, and reading from a teleprompter, two things I’ve gotten pretty good at through doing these.

In years past I’ve stood in for David Blaine, Stephen King, various ABC execs, and various famous people. This year I got to be Terry O’Quinn from Lost, who also was a star on one of my favorite shows ever, Millennium. I also got to play Mike Shaw, the President of Sales and Marketing for ABC, which involved being miked up two minutes before he was supposed to go out and having to read from a teleprompter for five minutes without having warmed up at all - I faked my way through as best as I could, and I guess Roger thought I did okay, as I wasn’t asked to be replaced, or even stop reading (he is VERY vocal when he doesn’t like something).

I’m not much of a starfucker, but as it happened, I will mention: famous people I was close to at one point or another included William Shatner, Mary J. Blige, Patrick Dempsey and the other two male stars from Grey’s Anatomy, and at one point, Terry O’Quinn. (I did not throw myself at him yelling “YOU WERE ON MILLENNIUM!!!!! IT WAS THE BEST SHOW EVER!!!!! Which it was. Well, one of them.) There were plenty of others, but I didn’t know who they were.

I was also tapped, along with my friend Stephen, who I see every once in a while whenever we get called to do these, to actually be in the rollout. Anne Sweeney (Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks andPresident, Disney-ABC Television Group), as part of her presentation, reveals an amazing new invention, the “TV”, and needed two nerdy scientist types to wheel it out. Here’s a picture, taken with a cell phone camera of a backstage monitor (hence the overwhelming crappiness of the pic) of when we were onstage:

I'm on the right.

You can almost make out the nerd glasses they gave us.

Other than the fact that I had to wake up very early both mornings (yes, I know, no sympathy, especially from Twin B) and the fact that it was a little boring and often hard to find a place to sit down backstage, I had a lot of fun. Everyone I worked with was really nice, and I actually enjoyed having a toe back in the “acting” world.

(Side note: Virginia Heffernan blogged about the rollouts, aka upfronts. You can read about all of them here. The ABC ones are amusing for me to read, because I lived them for two days.) (The ABC ones are kind of far down on the page, past Fox and CBS, if you want to skip through. I would recommend reading them all if you have the time, and/or are interested in what’s coming on in the fall.)

A Quick Pseudo Post

Filed under: PolenBabble, Kvetch! Kvetch! Kvetch! — Twin C @ 10:37 am

So much to tell you about last week and last weekend, but not at the moment.

For now, all I’m going to say is that yesterday morning I deleted 150 spam comments out of the comment queue, and then another 200 spam comments that were clever enough to skip the queue and go right to the blog.

Bite me, spambots!

May 22, 2006

Letters From Lem 4

Filed under: Letters From Lem — Twin A @ 1:50 pm

Note: This was sent via cellphone.

Todd

I place the palm of my hand on the grating that
protects the windows at the back of Room 20E36. Felix
is singing in Spanish in the day room and I listen to
him and stare across the sparkling green brown water
of the East River at the neighborhood of Greenpoint
flung on a hill around the spire of St. Anthony of
Padua. Somewhere down there is my apartment, and the
life I dimly remember leading outside the Hospital.

Felix is my new roommate — I was moved so that I
could have a handicapped access shower — and he is
depressed. Hes been here for months because a social
worker caught him writing graffiti on the sidewalk
with a brick, and that social worker let the police
know that Felix was already on medication. So off to
Bellevue he went.

Theres a lot of rules here. I shave in the morning
with a single razor and a dixie-cup full of shaving
cream in the hallway bathroom between 7:30 and 8:30
am, being sure to leave the bathroom door ajar the
whole time and return the razor when Im done.

At 9:30 am everyone has to retire to their tiny,
bare-bones rooms for a half hour while a couple of
nurses push a cart down the length of the hallway
dispensing medications. Then everyone wanders around
for a while between meals, depemdimg on how assiduosly
the staff badgers us into participating in one of
their unfocused, chaotic groups. They put us to bed by
10 pm, except on weekends, when its 12 midnight.
(Because everyones so medicated not many people make
it that late.)

This morning. I put my swollen leg up on some pillows
and stared at the blank ceiling. When I leaned my head
back, the sun bloomed through the grating on my upside
down window and I thought about the fresh air and the
bright blue sky that surrounded me over five weeks ago
when I hung out the window, ready to drop.

Rabdy and David are looking out the window now,
talking about the boats on the river and the apartment
complexes that lie alongside us. The guys in the day room
transfixed by the women dancing the Soul
Train– even Babu, the staffer monitoring us, exclaims
Thats my music! A dishevelled weekend psychiatrist
sits down next to me, asks a few perfuntory questions,
disappears.

Levine shouts angrily about people using the phone too
much. Were all waiting for the Saturday coffee break
that comes at 3:15.

More to come,
Lem

Letters From Lem 3

Filed under: Letters From Lem — Twin A @ 1:48 pm

Todd,

Levine was pissed off today. Levine is a shambling Rasta warrior with bright black eyes and a giant mass of grey unwashed hair that sort of floats and bounces as he shuffles down 20 east’s hallway, ducking into rooms as he goes. Levine’s rampage began at the front window that the staffers hide behind. the front window is like a cashier’s window, only with a cardboard and construction paper display about “COMMONLY USED MEDICATIONS” instead of a price list. He started cussing out everyone in sight, telling one staffer to “go back to Africa.” Later, he dominated the morning Community Meeting, where the doctors and staffers sit in a row and talk down to the patients, yelling that he was going to drag 20 East’s night staff into Criminal Court, Federal Court, Supreme Court, whatever it takes.”

By the time he cried “scavengers! I don’t eat scavengers.” at lunch, most of us had stopped listening. (I guess he was objecting to schrimp and pork, which wasn’t anywhere to be found in our lunch. Just the usual chicken, bland vegetables, individual plastic-wrapped slice of bread, half-full lukewarm styrofoam cup of coffee, and a cup of dessert.

Mealtimes are alive with yelling, anyway - not necessarily angry yelling although this is added to the mix, but a bustling commodities trading floor: “Coffee for cranberry?” “Eggs, who wants eggs?” “Can I get sugar?” “Who wants soup for pudding?” “Sweet and low! Swee and Low!” The one thing no one can get rid of at any price are the tiny plastic cups of cold orzo salad — they’re awful.

Levine’s ability to sustain his anger morning, noon and night is admirable, if ultimately irritating. In the Hollywood adaptation of Bellevue Hospital, 20 East, Levine would be cast as a fold hero, liberating the patients with his passionate monologues. Perhaps that’s how he sees himself. Personally, I’m content to take my depokote, let people throw eggs and cereal packets over my head, and stay quiet until the let me out of this joint.

More to come,
Lem

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