I’m a TV Star (329th new thing).

July 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

From the beginning of this blog (and probably way before that), I have wanted to act as an extra in some sort of film or TV show. I never actually applied for the position; it seemed as though the casting calls for a large group of background people never happened on my days off. However, on Day Three Hundred Twenty-Nine while working (a freelance thing), I was asked to step in to portray a script supervisor extra. I didn’t even hesitate.


I was sent to the makeup chair to be powdered and primped. Stephanie added under eye concealer, powder, eyeliner, and a touch of lipstick. She said I didn’t really need blush because I had a naturally rosy glow. I told her it was probably more because I was outside for two hours in the thirty degree morning directing angry gaffers to park further away than they’d like. Or my English heritage.

The clipboard is so official.

My featured scene was a flashback set in the 1980’s. I think I was chosen because one, others turned it down, and two, I was wearing jeggings and slouchy boots (hello, 1988!). I don’t know how I felt about either of theses rationales, but as long as I could accomplish my life long dream of acting in front of the camera, I was thrilled!

My moment of glory passed quickly. Although the little flashback scene I was in will probably be left on the cutting room floor, at least I can officially call myself an AC-TOR.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

TV vs Commercials (328th new thing).

July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Day Three Hundred Twenty-Eight I worked the first shoot day on my first television pilot. I had worked as a Production Assistant on many commercials in the past year, but the only TV series experience I have is my one year at Whole World Theatre when they shot for Turner South. And I guess Gem Shopping, although that is an entirely different beast. Everything else has been commercials or promos. I suppose it’s been better for me financially (since commercials typically pay better), but I also like the range of work that comes with working on different narrative formats, even if I can usually be found doing office work.

The TV pilot I worked on was like Fight Club. We do not talk about Fight Club, at least until it airs (next January). However, I can spend a little time waxing about the difference (in my opinion) in working on on a television advertisement versus a television pilot. There aren’t an extensive amount of differences, but here are the ones that stuck in my mind:

The narrative. I liked reading the script of the TV show much more than any commercial. There is more dialogue, a plot, and developing characters. In a commercial the script can be an outline of movement, a suggested line, or even just an idea. Point one, pilot.

The activity. The activity on a commercial varies based on the budget, client, etc. I’m sure the same is true of a television show. However, being a PA on a commercial shoot that is longer than a day, it usually takes me about that time to establish myself to everyone, letting them know that I am not a slacker, but a smart, funny professional. It doesn’t always work, but it works often enough to where I begin to believe it. So I think the length of filming on a TV series would win in this battle, although I have worked on a few commercials for a week or more, so it’s kind of a toss up when comparing commercial and pilot.

The pay. Commercials pay better, across the board. So they win in a daily battle.

The titles. I was bumped up to a Production Coordinator title on the TV show I worked on. It’s a step up from Production Assistant, even though I was doing similar office work, just more of it. Resume-wise, though, pretty cool.

In all actuality, there wasn’t too much of a difference between my experience working on a commercial shoot and the TV pilot. The latter had a lower budget than a typical pilot shoot, which basically meant that I was working as a coordinator for commercial PA rate. And that the crafty selections were more limited. But I liked working on the pilot, liked the longevity that it could mean. And most importantly, I liked the project and the people I was working with. Which happens often on other freelance jobs, but this one just seemed cooler.

Old Man Whisky (327th new thing).

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

After a long day (or evening) of work, Patrick will sometimes fix himself a “man drink” once he arrives home. This is usually bourbon in summer or scotch in winter. A creature of habit, Patrick keeps a version of one of the bottles in our tiny liquor cabinet (which currently holds a nearly full bottle of sweet vermouth from National Vodka Day, half a bottle of MacCallan that was a Christmas gift from my parents, and maybe a smidgen of brandy from who knows when). I once poured a little bourbon for a hot toddy when I felt a cold coming on (apparently a waste of good booze), but I’ve never had a desire to test out the scotch. The smell of it makes my nose hair curl. This reaction could be the result of consuming too much cheap whiskey in more youthful times, but is more likely that scotch is an “acquired taste” which I have not yet acquired.

After my own long day at work on Day Three Hundred Twenty-Seven, I decided to give the old man drink a try, Patrick style.

I had Patrick make me a “baby” version of his favorite relaxing liquor. I wasn’t going to go full old man yet. And he had to make it since he is so particular about the ratio of ice to scotch. Three cubes and two fingers of alcohol is the normal serving for Mr. Hill. I know this because if I add an extra cube of ice or an extra measurement of scotch I am quickly reminded of the rules. However, this one being a “baby” or “old lady” version, he gave me two pieces of ice, the scotch poured to the top of the second finger against the glass.

It sure did look pretty, but I was so afraid of spitting it back out as soon as the liquid touched my tongue that I waited for nearly both ices cubes to melt before I had my first sip. Patrick said I was ruining it, but I still found the flavor and alcohol pretty strong. I gradually took baby sips of my baby drink through about an hour’s worth of bad television (I still don’t know why Patrick was watching the Lifetime Movie Network, but “Sexting in Suburbia” is one weird movie). Finally I had my last gulp and it was time for bed. I did feel more relaxed than when I had first come home, but I couldn’t see having a man drink at the end of the night becoming part of my daily routine.

World Class Ham (326th new thing).

July 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I like taking pictures. I like being in pictures. I like manipulating motion (jump!) contortion (stick out your tongue!), and positioning (stand there!) of people in pictures. So when I discovered the photo booth at my friend Liz’s post-wedding shindig on Day Three Hundred Twenty-Six, I was excited. I commandeered it.

The photo booth was one of those open air, DSLR set up on a tripod in front of a wall type deals, my first in fact. And with the shutter release remote tucked into my palm, I directed my friends (and even strangers) into jumping and cheesing and posing. Wine helped.

In no particular order, visual proof of my cheesing:

Cheesing it up with the ladies. Liz is bemused.

“Act Surprised”

I really don’t know in which direction this was going.

Addressing the camera.

The Varsity Hats

The beginning of the series “jump!”

Matt takes jumping to heart.

Liz is shocked by my jumping skillz.

Liz joins the jump movement.

Liz’s dad joins the photobooth action.

And now for more “alternative” posing…

OMG, everyone point at the window!

And…the solo jump.

I had a ton of fun jumping around and making faces, but what I think I took away from the experience is to not be such a ham. And maybe to not watch so much America’s Next Top Model for inspiration.

Bingo! (325th new thing).

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve passed by the American Legion in Duluth, GA hundreds, thousands of times over the past several years, often taking note of the sign outside which reads, “Bingo, Wednesday and Friday at 7:30PM.” I’d always thought it could be an enjoyable way to spend an evening, but never took the chance to stop in. That is, until Day Three Hundred Twenty-Five.

On Bingo Nights I imagined the inside of the brick building would be smoky and full of retirees with large pages of bingo cards laid out in front of them. In reality it was a brightly lit room with a stage at one end for the caller and many plastic tables laid out in rows. The attendees were a mixture of ages and races and I wasn’t the only single woman in attendance. People are serious about their bingo.

Dauber, check. Bingo cards, check.

I bought a “three book paper” for fourteen bucks an a “dauber” for a dollar twenty-five and found a seat at the end of a table populated by a quartet of retirees on a double date. The book had six pages of nine Bingo squares. We would be playing six rounds, each with a different objective.

In the first game we had to stamp out an equal sign in the center of the board, no Bs or Os being called. I didn’t win.

In the next game we had to block out a square of four blocks in any corner, followed by a diagonal line stemming from it to the opposite corner. I didn’t win that one either.

There were three other games before the grand finale, the blackout, none of which I won. I even purchased additional cards half way through the evening. There was no “traditional” bingo game, where a straight line across any part of the board would win you a prize. Apparently that’s too boring for these seasoned champions.

The grand prize was six hundred big ones. I was beginning to see why people came back every week. One square was always blocked out before the game, which I found out later was because the pot had turned over. At the beginning of a series of games (one which is played every Friday night), there is an added bonus to the blackout winner if he or she gets bingo in fewer than a certain number of calls (which I think is 40). If no one achieves this, the number is raised the following week and the additional prize is rolled over. So the six hundred dollars included the bonus, and number 53 was always free since they had spent thirteen weeks without a winner of the additional money.

Until that night.

Any winners?

It wasn’t me. Did you think it could have been? No, it was actually the man sitting one table over from me, playing on his electronic card which resembled a child’s fancy See ‘N Say. He called it as the fifty-second number was read out, and thus walked away with six C notes.

I’m going back next week.

Hodgepodge (324th new thing).

July 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

My friend Lynne had been working on opening a coffee shop/gallery for quite awhile. The dream finally became a reality and on Day Three Hundred Twenty-Four for the first time I visited Hodgepodge Coffeehouse & Gallery, for the Grand Opening.

The Ever Hospitable Lynne

The space is lovely inside. With tall ceilings and large windows, everything is bright and open. There is a rotating collection of artwork for sale lining the walls and plenty of room to sit or stretch out. I met Lynne at the counter and helped myself to the complimentary wine and mini cupcakes, leaving a donation in return. I had a bite size red velvet and it was delicious. Coffee and cupcakes? What a wonderful combination.


I wandered around the expanse of the shop, seeing a couple people I knew and chatting briefly. Before too long it was time for me to head home to take care of Murphy, but I was really excited about visiting Hodgepodge again. With such a wonderful proprietor, how could anyone not be back?

Tall ceilings, big windows, and good coffee.

And you should visit too!

Shake Your Gut (323rd new thing).

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have a belly. In my family, we call the hereditarily disposed paunch the “Bending Belly” after my great grandmother (Annie Bending). I’ve had it all my life. You can see it protruding off my skinny frame as far back as 1987 (I was five). I used to hate it, but now I embrace this familial trait. I say all this because based solely on its name, belly dancing seemed like the perfect match for my Bending Belly. On Day Three Hundred Twenty-Three I discovered how wrong I was.

Shake it, Sister!

I headed to the nearby Nazeem Allayl belly dancing studio for a Shimmy Fit class. I arrived a few minutes early and purchased a twenty dollar waist scarf decorated with random shiny bits that jingled when I wiggled. I felt like I needed to embrace the whole belly dancing experience. At twenty bucks, it was the most inexpensive hip belt in the small shop.

Then I stood in the back of the tiny dance studio, by the lockers, and waited for class to begin. That wasn’t smart. The class filled quickly and once thirty-five plus women had found their places I was pushed onto the fringe of the group, in a corner, with an industrial strength oscillating fan at my back. At least I wouldn’t sweat.

The instructor took her position in front of the mirror, faced the class and introduced herself. “I am Marwa. M-A-R-W-A and I’m kinda of a big deal.” Good to know. She told us this was not a class to learn a routine in, but rather a “Simon-says” type follow along. And then she started to shake, and make faces that reminded me of a fourteen year old dancing alone in her bedroom to her favorite song. Batted eyelashes, pursed lips resembling a duck, and a sort of sneer/smirk combination expression. I remember making similar faces many years ago, but back then I was a dorky teenager.

The hour passed quickly enough, with a soundtrack mix of Bollywood and pop songs. As if I hadn’t had enough Black Eyed Peas the week before during spin class. I tried to follow along as well as I could, but without being able to see myself in the mirror, I can only imagine I looked like an epileptic white girl with spastic shakes and unnatural face contortions.

The girl next to me took pity on my moves and the confusion on my face as I was forced further and further towards the fan. She caught my eye with a sympathetic smile and asked if it was my first time. I answered in the affirmative and she informed me that it would be easier next time. As if there would be a next time.

Actually, I would consider taking an eight week class to learn the basics. Professional belly dancing is pretty awesome to watch. Perhaps with a few lessons under my belt I would actually have the guts to take a position in the front row of a “Shimmy Fit” workout. And then I could look at the new girl huddled in the corner with sympathetic eyes.

But I would never, ever, make a smirky duck face.

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