Monday, November 30, 2009

At least I’ll have fire-eating to fall back on. You know, if the acting thing doesn’t work out.

I have terrible blog guilt.

It’s been way too long since I’ve been around, I know.  (Insert deeply shamed head bow here.)

I feel like that guy in the news that put his kids in the trunk and then went to do a little shopping.  I only planned to be gone for a few minutes, and Whoops!  I got distracted by shiny things and you’re all still in the trunk, and maybe you’ll still love me after  your brains get some oxygen and I get you back from foster care, but maybe not, who knows?

I don’t even know where I’ve been exactly.  Just….needed a breather, I guess.  We could pretend I was doing soul-expanding yoga on a mountain top somewhere, if you want, with a swami guy, and Richard Gere.  I definitely did NOT sit on the couch all Thanksgiving break, eating large amounts of pie and scratching, and dressing the cats in little outfits.    (Did I say that I missed you all?  I did.)

So here I am!  Hopefully this is a good thing.

Some things that have happened in my absence are:
  • my husband bought a bullhorn off Ebay.  He giggles worryingly whenever he mentions a new feature of the horn he’s discovered, such as that it plays “La Cucaracha” at a high volume. I’m probably going to have to break it at some point.
  • my husband bought me a blow torch, also off Ebay.  For my birthday.  I think I forgot to mention this somehow.  I shook the package and felt liquid moving.  I made a little joke about getting a propane tank for my birthday. Haha. He said, “Of course it’s not a propane tank!…….It’s a different kind of fuel!” 
I should explain that a blow torch had not been on my birthday wish list, so SURPRISE!, but I think now with the bullhorn and the blowtorch we may be equipping ourselves for the circus.
  • I dreamt two nights ago that I was running a bed and breakfast.  Business was good until I discovered that some guy on the third floor was kidnapping people and draining all their blood out while they were alive.  I was really mad that I had to do all that laundry, because there was a lot of blood on those sheets, and once blood sets it’s really a laundry challenge.  Then last night I dreamt that my director tried to kiss me. The second dream was creepier.
  • I have been very busy becoming other people.  Not like Chastity Bono.  Just a blind lady, Mrs. Fezziwig, and other assorted loud Victorian women.   Christmas Carol opens on Friday, and tech week started today, which is also known as Hell Week, and for good reason. For instance, we have dress rehearsals every night this week until eleven. I have five costume changes to figure out.  Sometimes I change quickly in the hall.  Also the sets are huge, and if you don’t watch where you’re going, you could actually be killed.  Fernadette, my nemesis, has reappeared in her caroler’s bonnet and  perpetual sneer.  She watches me from the other side of the stage, but I just put on my Annie Sullivan glasses and pretend she’s not there. 
I realized tonight that I am paying for all my harsh judgment of blind stalkers on this blog.  Turns out that seeing anything from behind those dark glasses is really hard!  Especially when you are on stage, and the lighting is all swirly-foggy, and you’re supposed to say your blind lady lines right at the edge of the stage, after you’ve walked hunched over wearing the dark glasses and a petticoat that drags under your shoes periodically.  I haven’t yet cartwheeled into the orchestra pit, but it’s just a matter of time.
Also I have to wear a horrible grey wig for another scene, and I’ve been experimenting with old lady makeup.  According to the helpful Old Lady Face Diagram I got at the costume store, it’s easy!  Just a little contouring and shadow, and sallow yellow stipple and age spots, and sunken eyepits, and wrinkles.
Last night I spent an hour and a half in the bathroom dabbing and stippling, and frowning at myself to find my forehead creases, and pursing my lips to create old lady smoker lines with an eye pencil.  Then I stood back to look. It’s like getting a horrific glimpse of the future you.  Hopefully far, far, into the future, but possibly next year when I am an old crone with a face like a shrunken head.
So I figure I did some excellent makeup work, because when I came out of the bathroom, my husband said “Ahhh!!  Jeee--sus!!” like you do when someone sneaks up behind you playfully with a large snake and dangles it just at eye level with its fangs exposed.
The dog averted his eyes tactfully. 
Also my Mrs. Fezziwig dress is too big in the bodice which means when I lean over to take the tray of fake candied apples (which are going to go into the orchestra pit too at some point) the audience will be getting an eyeful of old lady boob.   
This week is going to be a little crazy with the thespianism, so I promise to come by and see you all at your blogs (because I really did miss you all) soon, just maybe not for another couple of days, unless I find a free minute or two somewhere between makeup sessions and hiking up my bodice.
In the meantime, forget I said that thing about dressing up the cats, okay? 
Thanks, you’re the best.  I mean that.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The one where I finally get my “Up With People” membership card revoked.



(From Sunday’s lunch. Where are the Coke people hiding the cameras? )

I used to know this man who’d spent hours and hours of his life planning a revolutionary new amusement park.  He would tell me about his plans in vivid detail, his hands drawing the shape of genius in the air. Sometimes, in his urgency, spittle would collect in the corners of his mouth as he lectured and I would have to lean away slightly to avoid the overspray.

It’s been awhile, but I remember that the amusement park was built on a huge triangular (isosceles) mountain, but not a stationary mountain, a spinning mountain.  Actually, sections of the mountain would spin, in opposite directions simultaneously, and then huge  mechanical arms, which were attached to the core of the mountain, would shoot out and flail wildly, thus providing a thrilling experience for the hundreds of tiny people strapped to them.   If memory serves, the people were actually strapped into little fuzzy beanbag  chairs, which were, in turn, affixed with  suction cups to the mechanical arms.

It was all very technical.

Sometimes he drew me diagrams with a dull pencil stub and some notebook paper, and I wish I still had one, but mostly he would have to eat them after he was done talking, because it would be disastrous if the plans fell into the wrong hands.

The best part, the climax, if you will, was when the machine guns came out of the mountain on additional octopus arms.  Because everything,( people, beanbag chairs, machine guns) was spinning in different directions, there was a lot of suspense about which riders would be shot.  Some would live.  Some might only suffer flesh wounds.  That was the beauty of this ride.  Thrills and suspense.  Death-defying action.  It couldn’t miss.

Sadly, the amusement park mountain never got built, mostly because the CIA and the man’s mother were involved in a conspiracy to steal his ideas, and so they had him committed to a mental hospital where he spent all his time looking for bugs in the outlets in his room.

I lost track of the man after I quit the job working at the psychiatric hospital, and sometimes I‘ve wondered if he’s still there, with his pencil stub, fine-tuning the plans.

Until this weekend, when I rented a movie named Synecdoche, New York, and I realized that my old friend must be making movies now.

Have you seen this movie?  Of course you haven’t, because what kind of masochist would rent this movie other than me? No one, that’s who.

It’s a Charlie Kaufman film, and it makes the spinning mountain seem like a good idea by comparison. Also the machine guns are totally cheery next to the bummer that is Synecdoche.

For example.  In this movie, the main character is unhappy. I think because of all the stark, fluorescent lighting.  He develops a mysterious disease. It comes and goes, but ultimately has no bearing on further events, just covers him in ugly pustules for fun.  His four year old daughter is taken to Berlin by his wife, where the four year old almost immediately morphs into a fully tattooed German woman who is having a lesbian relationship with her own nanny.  He learns this by reading her diary, which she left under her pillow. Back in America. It spontaneously updates. He never sees her again.

He then becomes involved with a woman who lives in a house that is on fire for forty years. She marries another man who lives in the basement (he came with the house and wears a wife-beater), and they have twins.  Three.  Not three sets of twins.  Three twins. She dies of smoke inhalation. Naturally.

Then he marries an actress in his theater troupe and they have a daughter too, but he can never remember her name, and then he leaves his second wife to go and clean the pretend apartment of his first wife, who paints miniatures. Nude miniatures.

(If your head hurts right now, you’re getting it! Good job!)

The apartment is pretend because it’s part of a theater set. He’s decided to make a play of his life.  And possible there is a play of the play of his life.  There are wigs, and multiple versions of everyone, and all the dialogue happens at least twice, like Ground Hog Day only not funny, and they rehearse for a couple of decades and build a replica of New York City in a warehouse,  but never perform the play for an audience.  Some people die in unexplained ways. A man in an overcoat stalks him.  It might be him stalking himself, but only until the suicide.

(This is where my husband sighed heavily and went to look for my son’s Halloween candy stash.)

Later he decides to play the part of the cleaning woman in the play instead of the director because of stress, and then he has a touching conversation with his/her mother, who died a long time ago.  A fake priest that looks a little like David Arquette gives a speech while standing on some Astroturf. Then he dies. Not David Arquette.  The main guy. Probably. The cleaning lady says so.

That’s basically it.

Be glad I just spoiled this movie for you.  You could use those two hours for something more pleasant and productive, like pulling out all your own teeth with a bottle opener.

I’m sure there are those of you that think Charlie Kaufman is a genius, a profound surrealist with a potent commentary on the existential crisis we all live daily, a man willing to present the tragic absurdity of life with unflinching honesty.

You would be wrong.

Charlie Kaufman is insane, and also an intellectual masturbator.

Not that I have any strong feelings about it, but I think forcing prisoners to watch Charlie Kaufman films would be both an effective interrogation device, and a violation of the Geneva convention. His movies make popcorn stick going down.

I’m feeling a little hostile suddenly. Wow.  I thought only Andy Kaufman affected me that way. 

If you see this movie in the video store, feel free to fling it under the shelving unit.  Go ahead and push it clear under with your toe. You’re doing everyone a favor, even Charlie, who clearly needs to be spending his time more productively, like maybe designing amusement park rides and checking his outlets for listening devices.

I’m done now, I think. 

Check in next time when I discuss the perennial favorite, why Kevin Costner must be driven out of movies and forced to watch Charlie Kaufman films as punishment for every movie he’s done in which he wore pleated slacks.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

UPDATE: I’m pretty sure I have an extra-spongy brain. It’s absorbent. Not like those bargain brands.

“If the last hair in line at the back of your nose had a hand, it could slap you in the brain,” said my son, while industriously smashing down the innards of his baked potato with a fork.

“That’s disgusting,” my daughter said, and demonstrated how she, also, could slap him in the brain.
A brief scuffle ensued.  Threats were issued.  Conversation continued.

We were talking about swine flu shots.  Actually, not the shot, but the Flu Mist, which the literature says is perfectly safe, even if it is a live virus you’re snorting directly into your brain. So to speak.

And it absolutely can’t give you the flu.  That’s just wild conspiracy talk. It’s only that the virus (weakened!) can possibly give you many of the symptoms of the swine flu. So it’s the flu virus, that makes you feel, possibly, as if you have the flu, but it’s not.  It’s different.  (Try to keep up.)

It might also make you lose all control of your legs, in some cases, and also makes you potentially contagious for twenty-one days, fearsomely capable of infecting anyone around you unwise enough to have a weenie immune system, with swine flu.

So getting the Flu Mist absolutely doesn’t give you the swine flu.  Just other people.

This is the best I could figure out after consulting with our doctor, the nurse at work, forty-two incredibly alarmist internet sites, and the women on the phone at the county health services office.

The health services office was where we were originally scheduled to bathe our brains in contagion.  I hate going there because the bug-flecked fluorescent lighting and peeled paneling in the waiting room send me in to an instantaneous state of despair.  It’s institutional angst with a side of can I get syphilis from sitting in this orange plastic chair?  

Chair syphilis.  Probably they have a pamphlet on that.

So now we’ve skipped out on the mist, and are contemplating the shot, or alternately, just waiting for someone who’s already had the mist (Swine Flu Time Bomb) to infect us and get it over with.  The kids are all for living dangerously, of course.

Also the cats have taken up sneezing as a secondary occupation. (Their primary job is tripping the unsuspecting. This involves stretching out into a three foot long cat-strip and lying in wait)  They like to sneeze on your face just as you are waking up, which is just their way of saying Good morning! Here’s direct shot of cat-borne virus to the brain! Or worms! 

So now that I’m probably a wormy, syphilitic, potential swine flu time bomb, I’m planning to come visit you at your blogs really soon! 

I’ll bring the hand sanitizer and the pamphlets.

UPDATE:  Breaking Medical News!   Apparently a cat in Iowa has just been diagnosed with H1N1.  The news this morning advises that anyone with sneezing cats should visit the veterinarian.

Sometimes I scare myself.