Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finding Mr. Write (aka Bob Balaban)

For the third year in a row (you can read here about years one and two), I've been fortunate to attend the Writer's Guild Awards (East) show in NYC as my friend, Meredith's, date: 
She's a great date, albeit a bit handsy.
Her husband, John, is the Executive Producer and Head Writer of the awards show. (And this year, he was also executive-in-charge-of-making-the-BB8-costume-from-a-giant-soccer-ball-outfit.)

You'd think that being a VIP at a glamorous awards show and mingling with some of the best writers in the industry would be the highlight of the weekend. Alas, it is but one of the many highlights, which included going to the dog groomer so the dog could get something sticky cut out of it's paw fur, sitting at Meredith's office while she finished up some work and doing the grocery shopping.

Don't be jealous, haters.

Perhaps the real highlight of the weekend is pictured below. It is the DVD cover of a horror movie Meredith and I filmed many years ago at a farm house that belonged to the family of my then-boyfriend. As a Christmas gift this year, her husband edited and scored the film, which they presented to me while I was in town. It is probably the single best gift I have ever received.

Please note: probably the scariest thing about the film are our fashion choices -- it still makes us wake up screaming that these were captured on film...
The cover of the DVD. I tried to upload the five-minute video in its entirety,
but was not able to do so. Please enjoy stills from some of the key scenes below,
which I think nicely illustrate the high-quality plot development and performances:
Me screaming when I see the murderer in the barn.
Me after being impaled by a pitchfork. 
Meredith after the murderer gets her.
Meredith being amused after the murderer gets her.

And even though we felt our acting and especially the writing were spectacular, we were not nominated for any Writer's Guild awards. (How's that for a segue?)

For the awards show this year, we again got our lashes done at Rouge, ran home to get dressed, then hopped in a cab. And as soon as we did, the cabbie hopped out.We were confused at first, but he explained that since it was about a zillion degrees below zero, he wanted to go into a store to get some coffee and asked if we minded sitting in the running cab while he did so. We did this happily, as it kept us out of the frigid weather. (And we enjoyed that even something as mundane as a cab ride is never just a cab ride when you're with Meredith.) When we got to the Edison Ballroom, we checked in with John and said hi to Rob, who was starring in one of the sketches during the show:

Rob starred in one of the show's sketches with Michael Ian Black. 
(Fun fact: Rob and Mr. Brutalism are friends from high school.)
The show was hosted by Michael Ian Black, and included presenters like Tituss Burgess, Margo Martinale, John Slattery, Emmy Rossum and Michael McKean. Also, Senator Al Franken was in attendance to receive an award for bringing honor and dignity to writers. (I also saw Fred Armisen and Gina Gershon walk by and brushed by Bob Balaban, who you likely know as Phoebe Buffay's dad from Friends, and many other notable roles - one of which landed him an Oscar.) It was at this moment that I decided I had a mad crush on Bob Balaban and not just because it is fun to say his name.
Bob Balaban
Actually, it's pretty much because of that. (Note: Ask me how many times Meredith and I have texted each other about Bob Balaban since this weekend. If your answer falls somewhere between 19 million and infinity, you are correct.)

Who did I wear, you ask? A Vera Wang dress that has a built-in-bodysuit that is 
nearly impossible to figure out how put on. 
(Meredith loves that all of my awards show clothes are so high-maintenance.)
With this, I wore pewter sandals and clutch. (Necessary point of clarification:
pewter-colored, not made of pewter - that would be uncomfortable.)
My feet look huge in this photo. Fortunately, the shadows
(fairly successfully) camouflage the self-tanner debacle.
One of the writers of the awards show and generous Cosmo-sharer, Bruce Cherry. 
The show was fantastic and we also got to go to the after party at the ski-lodge themed rooftop bar at the Sanctuary hotel - where our little posse got to surpass everyone standing in line (thanks, executive producer John Marshall) to head for the cocktails.We stayed out til the wee hours celebrating and laughing -- it was a blast.

As I was leaving NYC early the next day, we went for a quick breakfast at The Mansion (neighborhood diner that is not as fancy as it sounds) and I ate my body weight in cheesecake (as I tend to do the day after I've eaten nothing to fit into a dress for an awards show), then Meredith accompanied me back to the area where the bus picks up to head back to Virginia. I have made this trip several times, so Meredith is just as familiar with the process as I am, and was concerned when she did not see any other passengers lined up outside the Starbucks where we were waiting.

I assured her that this was probably due to people waiting inside as it it was one degree outside ( degree), and that she should not worry. She humored me until about five minutes before the bus was to depart, and then asked, "does the bus company have a web site?" I went to the web site and realized that the bus pick up area had moved (something that I also learned -- and promptly forgot -- when they sent an email a few weeks prior to my trip -- and also when they dropped me off at the new stop two days earlier).

The new stop was SEVEN BLOCKS from where we were, and the bus always leaves right on time, which means I had FIVE MINUTES to run that distance. So, in boots and a dress, while carrying my suitcase and regretting that I ate a slab of cheesecake for breakfast, I tore down the street as fast as I could, with Meredith shouting directions behind me. And as I turned the corner where the bus was parked, I ran up behind it waving my arms so the driver would spot me and not take off. As I ran up the bus steps, the driver opened the door and invited me aboard, laughing and telling me that I lucked out because they had run out of hand sanitizer on the bus and his assistant had gone to a local bodega to stock up.

I have never been more grateful for an understocked bus bathroom in my entire life.

A glamorous end to a glamorous weekend.

Bob Balaban's bae,

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wowzy Wowzy Woo Woo, Incorporated

I'm a manager at my place of employment, something I have aggressively tried not to be in my last several positions, and not just because those I manage do not respond positively to my (extremely effective) general management philosophy:

I plan to write a book and begin a seminar series centered around this concept.
Move over, Steven Covey!
I've also tried to avoid management because I find it basically entails keeping track of a trillion crises that seem to occur only on work days and in a disproportionate amount to the general population. Call me cynical, but I find these sorts of things never seem to interrupt a vacation or day off.

I was explaining this to a friend who could totally relate and who shared with me, without exaggeration, a list of work-missing issues that affected her own team (of just a few people) in the past couple of months (she honestly pulled this list from her emails):
  • running into the garage door while trying to exit the garage
  • getting into a car accident 
  • getting a flat tire
  • having a car broken into
  • having general car trouble
  • having a check engine light come on
  • having computer trouble 
  • having a sick cat
  • having a sick dog
  • having a sick kid
  • having a kid break a bone
  • having a kid get braces
  • having a sinus headache
  • having a migraine
  • having a regular headache
  • having a colonoscopy
  • having food poisoning
  • having general malaise
  • oversleeping/running late
  • being snowed in (along with everyone else in the area)
  • being snowed in (when no one else in the area was)
  • being delayed due to transportation planning issues for an upcoming trip
  • being delayed due to sitting behind an accident on the way into work
  • needing to take a relative to the airport
  • needing to be home for a renovation project
  • forgetting a laptop at home
Wowzy Wowzy Woo's the schleprock-ification of the workforce.
Forget the management seminars, I'm going to develop a screening tool for people to apply to potential new hires to determine the risk to their productivity. 

Step 1: those with a rain cloud over their shoulder don't get a second interview. 

The Butt of The Joke

Due to a little extra focus on the glutes during a workout last week (all part of 2016's "transform flat white-girl butt" initiative), I had an extremely sore posterior. As I do when this happens, I decided to take a nice, long soak in the tub when I got home from the gym.

And it was delightful. My muscles felt better, I warmed up, I was everything I had hoped.

Until my bath was over and I attempted to exit the tub.

I put my hand on the side of the tub to balance myself but because there was a lot of water on the edge, my hand immediately slipped out from under me. And somehow (though I'm still not exactly sure of the physics here), the side of my head followed and slammed into the porcelain.

It hurt. A lot. And if that was not humiliating and painful ear started bleeding.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both. And after my husband consoled me and determined there were no serious injuries, he gently suggested that I wear a helmet during all future soaks.

Embarrassing as it was, I decided the story must be shared with my trainer at our next session because, frankly...a funny story is a funny story, even if it makes me look like a complete idiot...also I pretty much consider this to be all his fault.

As I began recounting the saga, I laughed so hard I could not finish the story, and then during every exercise I did for the rest of the hour, no matter how hard I tried to focus, I burst into laughter.

In fact, I laughed so much my abs were sore after the workout.

And even though I really wanted one, I decided to play it safe and skip the bath in favor of taking some Aleve.

Don't worry -- I put the helmet on first.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rave on!

I tend to forget that the annual Washington Post PEEPS diorama contest is perhaps not as significant an annual event to most other (reasonable) people. This became painfully apparent when I shared the fact I was up late on a recent Monday night submitting my diorama during the course of a manager's meeting on Tuesday and was met with confusion and blank stares.

It's not my fault their priorities are misguided.

I found myself explaining the contest and scrolling through photos of my oeuvre conveniently saved on my iPhone so they are always close at hand. 

(Note: I asked for and was granted an obnoxiously large raise shortly thereafter. I'm pretty sure these two things are related.)

This year, I pulled from my vast collection of rave experiences to create the following masterpiece:

It's PEEPS! At a rave! With peepmau5! 
Detail photo of PEEPS with pacifier, sunglasses and MDMA necklace.
(I used my daughter's beads -- something about this does not
feel like especially good parenting, though I'm not sure what...)
Anyway, as with all of my dioramas in the past eight years, the Washington Post shut me out yet again. I used to liken this phenomenon to Leonardo DiCaprio's genius never being acknowledged with an Oscar, so I now need a new frame of reference.

An oddly appropriate tribute to Leo. 
However, because I am freakishly competitive and quite possibly clinically insane like to hedge my bets, I also entered this year's work of art into the Pioneer Press contest, with the hope that a state smart enough to elect Al Franken as senator is also intelligent enough to appreciate fine art.

Hoping it's good enough and that, doggone it!, people like it,

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

No Stranger To Sarcasm

A short play:

Me, coming out of a convenience store, where I had run in to buy a much-needed cup of coffee, to the family: "You know, I was going in to get coffee, but when I was in the store, I realized that I was really thirsty, so I grabbed a bottle of water. And they had this lemon water that looked really good..." (voice trails off and I then note, "Wow - that is the most boring narrative, ever" and laugh at myself.)

Avery, ten minutes down the road, after I exclaim, "Oh, you guys! Guess what happened last night?" and without looking up from her iPad: "Well, whatever it was, I hope it is as riveting as your water story."