Monday, August 30, 2004

A WONDERFUL Day on the Set

So when the director (Rick) of the zombie flick I was in (Stiffs by Sid) asked if I could come up to his place in Orange County this past Saturday to shoot a couple of additional scenes for his zombie flick I said, "Sure." As it turned out, it was just me him and the "star" of Stiffs by Sid, a dude by the name of Theo. As a sidenote, he didn't ask the other zombie because he wasn't very good. Thankfully my job had well prepared me to play a member of The Living Dead.

Rick told me that the make-up chick was on vaca so we'd just do our best with my makeup. I immediately pictured him accidentally spilling latex in my eye, me jumping out of the chair and into walls before going into convulsions and collapsing on the ground all the while screaming, "OH MY GOD!!! IT BURNS!! IT BURNS!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!

The closest metro-north train to Central Valley, where Rick lives, is in Tarrytown so I took the 3:00 Metro-North train in. Theo, coming from the Upper East Side, was also sposed to be on that train. I met Rick at the station. No Theo. Rick checks his cell and sees a message from Theo telling him that he missed the train, he'll be on the next one. We go to a local diner. We eat. We go back to the train to get Theo. The next train comes...and goes. Everyone is gone but Theo. Rick calls Theo, who swears he is there but cant find us. We're right in the middle by the parking lot. Long story short, they actually called each other about five times.. I swear, I thought Theo was lying for some reason and was home laughing at us. As it turned out, he wasn't a lier...just a moron, and a big one at that.

Theo is about 5' 7" tall and weighs approx 260-280 pounds. And he doesn't carry it well...his gut protrudes WELL over his belt, ending somewhere around his knees. His first comment when we got in the car? "I'm famished. Do we have something to eat?" I tell him that we just ate and he asks if we have leftovers. Yeah, I couldn't finish my hamburger...idiot. Before we leave the parking lot he mentions food about five times, finally Rick tells him he has some chips and soda in the trunk. Naturally Theo's all over that, so Rick pulls over and gets his food. We start the 45 minute drive to Rick's and before we're ten minutes in, Theo says, "This is wonderful, but I'm gonna need something else. Can we stop somewhere? The only thing I ate all day were some Cheerios with blueberries."

I had flashbacks of my bud Joel, who is blessed with a similar build and always claimed he ate well. I would go to his place and Joel would tell me he had a salad for lunch. Then I'd open his fridge and find leftover pizza boxes...then open his freezer and find frozen pizzas stacked like gold at Fort Knox.

Also, you may also be struck by Theo's odd use of the word "wonderful." Don't be. He uses it in every sentence. Everything to him is wonderful. Here are some examples -

Upon passing an above ground pool - "Above ground pools are wonderful. I love the way it's the same depth all over. You don't have to worry about the bottom falling out under you."

Upon seeing the kitchen sink in Rick's house - "Oh my, this is wonderful. It's so deep, very splash resistant."

Upon seeing the size of the garbage under the sink - "This is just wonderful. You can really accumulate a lot of garbage before you have to replace it."

Upon seeing the kitchen "island" - "Will you look at that...wonderful, just wonderful...I'll bet three can work there at once."

Upon eating the fried mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders Rick made for him - "Perfect...really hit the spot...wonderful."

I can picture Theo on a double decker tour bus in Aushwitz, eating a bag of cheetos, looking around saying, "My, my...wonderful, just wonderful."

Later, while still driving, Theo asked Rick where we were going. Rick said to his place. Theo asked, "Oh, is that where the food is?"

We finally make it to Rick's - feed Theo - and change into our clothes for a cemetery scene. Since I was only needed to wander in the far distance, there was no need for any make-up. I wore a black polyester jacket, white polyester shirt and black wool pants. Did I mention it was about 87 with the humidity somewhere around 350%?

We drove to the cemetery, which of course according to Theo was "wonderful," and parked in a far corner. Thankfully no one was visiting so we had the run of the place. Which turned out to be good...very good. The scene had Theo talking to the camera while I wandered about in the distance. It's a good thing I wasn't wearing makeup because I would have sweated it all off. In addition, the mosquitos found me quickly. We did about twenty takes. Since I wasn't facing the camera during filming, and I was in the far distance, I couldn't see or hear when the scene ended. Rick had to yell a few time for me to stop walking. So I spent half my Saturday afternoon sweating in wool pants and a polyester jacket, holding my glasses, doing my zombie shuffle in a deserted cemetery while mosquitos bit the crap out of me. And I was doing this for fun.

The other scene filmed there was Theo driving off in a car with a Stiffs by Sid decal on the back. We ended up filming that scene several times. The first time Theo decided to try to turn around on the on the pathway where no one is meant to turn around. Yes, he backed into a tombstone. After that, he went all the way around each time which was fine by us.

The last scene of the day was filmed in Rick's backyard. He made a makeshift grave with tombstone. Deciding against attempting to apply latex to me, Rick gave me a rubber monster mask and rubber monster gloves. No, I'm not joking. I was then covered with fresh soil that Rick bought for the occasion, and a plank of wood. So there I laid (lied?), in a grave wearing my wool pants and polyester jacket covered with dirt, sweat and a plank of wood, trying to breathe thru the small hole in a rubber mask. If only my mom could see me then.

After finishing the scene, Rick insisted i take a shower while they filmed some voice over scenes without me. I didn't argue. We went in and I met Rick's wife, whom I dont think appreciates Rick's vision. When he put his camera on the "wonderful" island, his wife said, "Get that crap off there" - which Rick quickly did.

After finishing up, Rick told us his wife cooked enough dinner for us all in case we wanted to stay for dinner. I said, "Nah, thanks but I'm tired...wanna head back, appreciate it though." Theo had a different thought - "Harris, it would be rude if Mrs. Lavon made dinner for us to say no. The least we could do is eat it." Fine.

Naturally, everything she made was "wonderful," or so Theo said. In reality, the chicken was underdone and the potatoes were lumpy. After eating, Theo hugged her (I shook her hand) and we left with Rick, who drove us back to the train station.

All in all, I had a great time. I dont know if it came across in "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie" but I genuinely liked Rick and was actually sorry that it was over. He did mention a possible screening for the flick whether it makes the festival or not so I'm already looking forward to that. Just before leaving, Rick slipped me (and Theo) an envelope which I later discovered contained $60 -so I've now made more playing a zombie than writing.

Rock On,


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Quaker/Irish Wedding

Man, I thought this was gonna make for an awesome entry - my girlfriend's brother (Irish) marrying a Quaker chick...but nothing exciting happened - just a good time - played out pretty much like a regular wedding...BUT....

I can see why my girlfriend told me she wouldn't have fit in when i asked her why she wasn't in wedding party - when i walked in and saw the bridesmaids together, i immediately thought of the Delta Mu's from Revenge of the Nerd's..what she meant was that she wouldn't fit...not fit in.

Funniest thing never actually happened - Upon entering the bride's house, there was what I thought (and my girlfriend thought the same thing was a protective "runway" so one doesn't walk on their carpet that extended thru their living room...thankfully I didn't use it as it turns out, it was the wedding THAT woulda been funny...i could see her dress getting all wrinkled with sparkly things broken or hanging off (just imagine sparkly things) and her pointing at me throughout the night whenever talking to yet another one of her relatives or friends.

As per their Church's tradition, there is a moment of silent prayer during the service during which time anyone can get up and say something to the bride and groom - i implored my girlfriend to get up...she impored me not to - after a few uncomfortably silent minutes, someone got up and babbled something like "Best of Wishes to both of you...Welcome to the family"...after a couple more hours (or so it seemed) the brides kilt-wearing brother (he played the bagpipes while people entered the one even thought they were Scottish...i think he just likes wearing a dress) got up and blubbered how much he loves his sister...thankfully he was too choked up to say much else - he's in his late 20's and i heard him remarking later in the evening how this was one of his "most fun night's ever"...When I asked him his other "most fun night's ever", he told me that one was when he won a bingo pot at the weekly church social, another was when his parents let him feed the family goose by himself (they do have geese), and the other was when he ate a jawbreaker

i was seated at table with groom and bride's parents - I was opposite Quaker Dad - he looked a little like King Tut from Batman TV show - Since he was opposite me, he kept staring at me...of course it made me look more...and we ended up getting into staring contests (he won as his "look" frightened me)

Quaker Dad did drink Champagne during toast - i think his anti-alcohol harangue prior to wedding was just cause he didn't wanna pay for alcohol...and i guess it worked as it was a cash bar - good thing i'm a lightweight (though Merlot at $3.25 a glass, I was tempted to take a few glasses home)

They had a DJ who played all the normal wedding crap (though thankfully the macarena didn't make an appearance)...the dancing was whiter than white...My girlfriend was the only person there with much rythym...i just wound her up and sent her on the floor pretty much...actually, i felt like Donna Pescow to her John Travolta....we'd be dancing and then eventually, I'd feel out of my league and just stop and head for the sideline and watch her dance - it took her a half hour to realize i was no longer there.

Instead of clinking glasses to make them kiss, each table was supposed to come up with a song that featured the word 'love' in it, at which time, they were sposed to table ended up singing The Love Boat Theme after they rejected my idea..."I Used to Love Her" by Guns and Roses, which starts "I used to love her, but i had to kill her...I had to put her...six feet under...but I can still still hear her complain" - no, i didn't see if Quaker Dad was singing, but I'd pay good money to see him sing my song solo

Anyway, that was it...good great stories...i am hopeful for my next trip as I may be taking a day off in the next couple of weeks to go to prison

Rock On,