Monday, April 26, 2010

The week of family, friends and food

So, last week was kinda crazy. Tuesday, my Sister-in-law, L, came for a visit with her 3 kids (G, H & C). They were on spring break and hadn't been here in a while. It's always a joy to hang out with those guys. L and I became such fast friends when M and I got together that she was my Matron of Honor at our wedding. And of course, the kids love playing with their cousins. The timing worked out pretty amazingly - her kids are all about three years apart, with my kids perfectly sandwiched in about halfway between each, so they really play well together (most of the time). While they were here, we went to the Franklin Institute, which was fun, but exhausting. Seems like we usually eat out a lot when they come, but this time I mostly cooked. The soup I made for dinner on Tuesday wasn't such a hit, but I redeemed myself with a much-appreciated beef and noodle stir-fry on Wednesday and homemade pizza on Thursday. Friday morning, we gave hugs all around as L and the cousins headed out for the next stop on their week of visits and N and I headed to her school, where I was asked to fill in for one of the teacher's assistants for the day.

When we got home, I cleaned as much as I could before Friday night, because we were welcoming friends from Binghamton (our best man, P, and his family - wife C and kids A & H, plus their two whippets - Zinger and Comet) and from Syracuse (S & J - our SCUBA diving buddies). Saturday all the grown ups met up with another couple (C & K - college friends) for dinner at Amada. For the past few years, we've gotten together for a splurgy meal in Philadelphia each spring - usually in April, and called it Philly Phood Phest. Past excursions have taken us to Roy's, Le Bec Fin, LaCroix, Morimoto, and others. M and I had a dinner at Amada last year that we really enjoyed, so we thought it would make a good Phest choice. Basically, it's an upscale Tapas joint. Tapas is the perfect cuisine for people like me who like to try lots of different foods, because it's small plates, meant for sharing. Think of it as an entire meal of appetizers. And Amada does it really, really well. The table got the chef's tasting menu - three courses of chef-chosen specialties, with several plates in each course. I didn't take a bite of anything I didn't like, but the standouts (for me) were the Ensalada de Jamon, the artichoke and wild mushroom flatbread, Parmesan Artichokes, lamb chops and the Leche Frita. My biggest complaint is that the place is very loud. Also, the first time we visited, (when it was just me and my husband) we felt that our 2-top was squeezed in too close to other tables (it was difficult to get up to use the restroom without bumping the people seated near us). But this time, our group of 8 got us a large table with lots of room around it...much better!

But I think the best part was just hangin' with family and friends for the week. We love these folks, and wish they all lived closer so we could see them more often. Ah well, still don't have enough money for that family compound where they can all just live with us. Someday...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The day that wasn't

So, a couple of entries ago, I told about an open call I went to. They were looking for background talent for a movie that's shooting in town, as well as an NBC pilot. Well, less than a week later, I get a call. They catch me in the middle of grocery shopping and ask if I can be on set of the pilot the next day. Much as I want to, I can't just immediately say, "yes." Why? Well, there's that pesky child care thing to arrange. So, I tell them I'll make a few calls and get back to them as soon as I can.

First call is to my across-the-street neighbor and good friend, P. You may remember P from my power-outage entry - they're one of two families that let us bunk with them when our house got too cold to be habitable. Anyway...P was available to watch the kids - which is fantastic on a number of levels. She knows them almost as well as she knows her own son, since our two boys have been playing together since they were less than two-years-old and before my daughter, N, was born. Plus, since she lives right across the street, the whole school bus thing is a no-brainer. And we have given each other keys in case we lock ourselves out (which we have), so she has easy access to all of our Feingold-friendly food for A. Brilliant!

Call the casting people back, yes, I'm available. Cool, get the info on how to retrieve all of my call information for the next day from their web site and I'm good to go. Mind you, all of this is happening while I'm racing around Trader Joe's grabbing groceries so I can be done in time to Pick N up from preschool.

Finish shopping. Check. Pick N up from school. Check. Oh crap! There's a dentist appointment and a parent-teacher conference the next day. Okay, these acting opportunities don't come along very often, so the dentist and teacher will have to wait. Reschedule the dentist appointment for THREE MONTHS LATER, sheesh! Luckily, teacher (Mr. H - the BEST!) was much easier. Simply rescheduled for the next day, perfect.

Hubby comes home and announces that he's decided to work from home while I'm off earning money as human set-dressing. So, wonderful P is off the hook. Still, I'm awfully grateful to her for being available. The kids are excited to get to hang with Daddy on a school day, although I remind them he still has work to do, so he won't be able to play much.

Now, it's just a matter of waiting until 9pm, when I'm supposed to log on to the casting site to find out when I'm called, where I'm supposed to go and what I'm supposed to wear. Wait, wait, wait... 9pm - site says come back at 10. When I spoke to them that morning, they said call could be as early as 5:45am. Don't they know I don't work well without much sleep? *sigh* Wait, wait, wait...10pm - site says come back at 10:30. AAArrgh! Wait, wait, wait... Finally, info! Luckily, I'm not called until 9. Still, with getting the kids ready, getting myself camera-ready and driving in during rush hour, I gotta get up pretty early.

The next morning goes a lot smoother than I expect. Although I'm asked to wear a suit. My suits are pretty old. Not worn-looking, but definitely a bit dated. Still, they're suits, so I wear the one that fits me a bit better and keep my fingers crossed. Mental note: should probably have a more up-to-date suit in the wardrobe for just such an occasion.

The place we're told to park is about 18 blocks from where we're to sign in, but I arrive in plenty of time. I decide to walk. But as I'm leaving the parking lot, one of the PAs tells me there's a shuttle, but it won't be here for another 20 minutes or so. Okay, I'll wait. The weather's not bad, but it is breezy, and after standing there for 10 minutes I'm starting to feel cold. I'm regretting not walking (or taking the subway) just to keep warm. But eventually, I get on a shuttle and am on my way!

There's a background PA to report to. This poor woman's job is to literally wrangle all 30-40 background people to make sure we wait where we're supposed to, eat when we're supposed to and don't leave the room (even to go to the bathroom) without letting someone know where we are. Much as waiting around is boring, her job is both stressful and boring at the same time.

We get approved by wardrobe, the makeup lady tells me I look good, but keep my lipstick on me and refresh often, the hair lady fixes me up a little, I fill out my paperwork and I'm good to go. So, then we move from the holding room to a hallway just outside of the stairwell where they're shooting to be ready for when they need us. The stairwell, by the way, is large and ornate - if you've seen the film Law Abiding Citizen, you've seen it. It's part staircase, part atrium.

So, we wait, and wait, and wait. While we wait, I get to see Jimmy Smits, David Ramsey and Jesse Bradford walk by. Cool! After a lot more waiting, we move into one of the nearby unused courtrooms, so that we can at least wait in chairs. At one point, about ten of us get pulled into the aforementioned stairwell and we think we're about to actually get to do something. Oops, sorry, no. False alarm. Back to the empty courtroom. More waiting.

Eventually, we got to stop waiting for a while to have "lunch" which was actually after 4pm, so it was almost dinner. Good food. We finish - go back to the original room where we signed in. And those of us who are non-union (that would include me) are told we're done for the day, we can go. WHAT?!! Seriously, I covered child care (twice, really), rescheduled two appointments, stayed up late and got up early to wait around all day and never step in front of a camera? You've got to be kidding me. No, sadly, they weren't.

Mind you, I got to spend the day talking to some interesting people. Nearly all of them have a lot more experience with TV and film than I do, so I learned a bit. But still, it really wasn't worth it. Especially since, getting the non-union rate - my pay for turning my family's life upside-down for the day and waiting around for ten hours for nothing was, after taxes, a whopping $68.36. No kidding. Of course, if I had gotten into the scene, I wouldn't have cared about the measly check. But as it stands, I'm a trifle disappointed.

Sorry to have this entry be a bit of a downer, but there you have it. If it makes you feel any better, last year, when I got onto the set of Law Abiding Citizen, I got a union waiver for the day, which means I got the union rate (that day's check was over $300 after taxes). Plus, I not only got into the scene, I'm easily seen right behind Girard Butler. Guess you win some, you lose some.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sorry I've been away so long...

...There's been so much going on, I don't know where to begin.

So, what would you like to hear about?

The day I got called onto the set of Garza - the new NBC pilot that was shooting downtown?

Our trip out to CA for spring break, my ridiculous knee injury (and aftermath)?

Our time in Disneyland?

Our time in Legoland?

Our low-key Easter?

A's potential opportunity to have a speaking role in a film?

My much-delayed trip to the tax preparer's office?

Any other requests?

Seriously, a little guidance could go a long way, here.