Twelve year old Casey Wilcott was declared the winner today. By default.
“He was always most comfortable with a gun in his hand,” Casey’s proud mother would have said if she was still here.
“Casey is clearly the best shooter in the 6th grade, probably in the whole school. Nobody handles an Uzi like Casey.” These were the last words of Principal Miller of Williamette Middle School before being gunned down.
If Casey’s classmates were still alive, they would give Casey one last wedgie and tease him about mining for gold up his nose. Alas, Casey made sure they can tease no more.
Of course, Casey will now be forever attached to his reviled braces after shooting his dentist dead during his last orthodontic adjustment. Casey should have pulled the trigger after his orthodontia was removed. But then hindsight, like Casey’s aim, is 20/20.
Now Casey has literally no one to bully him, love him, worry over him, or fix his overbite. But no matter, like some old episode of The Twilight Zone or Grimm’s Fairy Tale, he is the last man/boy standing. He is the king of the world. Or at least of America.
As he ages and his hormones get the best of him, Casey could try to make his way to Canada, or swim an ocean to Australia or Europe with the intention of procreating, but he would, sadly, have to leave his arsenal — and his talent for wielding it — at home.
Again, no worries. No doubt whatever Casey decides will be the right decision. The best choice for him. Because, now, he is all that matters.
It used to be that getting your SAG – or Screen Actors Guild – card was a big deal for actors who wanted to act onscreen. It was a big deal because it was so incredibly difficult… in a Marxian way. Not Karl, but Groucho. The only way to join was if you did union work. And you couldn’t get union work because you, well, weren’t in the union. Another club that didn’t want me as a member. As a young actress, I was, of course, dying to get in. This is the unlikely story as to how I finally did.
Dateline: Los Angeles, 1991
I was working as an assistant to an executive producer who had created a primetime puppet show. Yes, puppet. As in the Jim Henson family of puppets. (No, my boss wasn’t Jim Henson, may he rest in peace.)
My boss didn’t create the puppets. He just thought he created the world.
Other than being obsessed with himself, this boss was also obsessed with – of all things – the promotional posters used in advertising the puppet show. Posters, really?
Let me back up a bit more and write this story in chronological order.
I didn’t start off working for this executive producer (How ‘bout I call him EP from now on?). No, I began this decade (1990) working as an assistant to a former boss who I had known and loved. But she was a co-executive producer on another show run by EP. So the EP would hang around not only his puppet show, but this other show as well.
And one day in a meeting where my boss and the EP were pitching stories, I made the mistake of massaging the EP’s shoulders briefly. It was a nice thing to do, I thought. Little did I know this would lead to my downfall.
Because after a few minutes of this friendly shoulder massage he grabbed my wrist and instructed me to keep massaging. So I did. What was I gonna say?
I ended up massaging his shoulders for two hours that day. This is closest I’ve ever come to a casting couch. From then on, if at all possible, I steered clear of the pitch room.
But that two-hour massage was enough. EP loved me after that. So, later in the year, when his assistant announced that she was leaving, EP told my boss that he wanted me to be her replacement.
My boss encouraged the switch. “It’s a good move for you. He is the head honcho, after all…”
And so I became the right-hand woman to the big boss, the EP.
In the meantime, I had started being trained by his current assistant in their offices a floor below. She was leaving to get married or have a baby – I don’t remember. But I do remember how haggard she looked. Like she couldn’t wait to dance into the sunset – or run.
I also started hearing stories of how EP liked to be “babied” with, for example, homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or, you got it, neck massages.
So, within a week or two, we made the transition. I was EP’s new mother, er, assistant.
One of the first phone calls I got as the new assistant was from someone on the crew asking if he could have one of the show’s publicity posters. These were posters of the various puppets on the show, shot in couplings and situations to elicit mirth from even the most brain-dead of television viewers.
I don’t remember when the friction started between EP and me, but I do know the fact that I no longer was the “mistress” giving massages and was now the “wife” who refused to make widdle-biddy-baby a PB&J didn’t help the situation. And, frankly, I didn’t care. I was an executive assistant, not a professional coddler. (And yet the latter is exactly what 99% of show runners want in an assistant.)
I could see EP getting cranky about my refusal to change his diapers and wipe his butt, but what really surprised me was his anger at the fact that I’d given away a few of his publicity posters.
“I told you to always ask me before giving away these posters.”
I didn’t remember this conversation, but okay. “I only gave one to the studio publicist who called and asked for a poster for the photographer who took the pictures.”
“I DON”T CARE,” I remember him bellowing from the same mountain upon which Moses delivered the Ten Commandments. “ASK ME FIRST!”
Evidently, I didn’t realize that these posters were, in fact, gold. If only eBay had existed in 1991.
But the shit really hit the fan on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
I had used my lunch hour to get my hair cut and told the other assistants where I’d be. I was sitting in my chair, chatting with my hairdresser, when the salon’s phone rang (remember this was before the ubiquity of cell phones). My hairdresser answered the phone, looked at me with perplexity, then walked over — extending the cord a good twenty feet — and handed me the phone.
“It’s for you.”
From the receiver streamed such histrionic vitriol that I had to hold the phone away from my ear. Even my barber was stunned. EP spat at me so viciously that spittle practically flew from the earpiece. The call ended as abruptly and abusively as it started.
After taking my beating, I lowered my head and silently cried through the snip, snip of scissors.
I arrived back at the office and could see past the bullpen of assistants’ desks to the large corner office that was the EP’s. He was pacing like a tiger. Back and forth.
He saw me and motioned me in. The moment I was past the threshold, he released the door’s magnet and it closed behind me.
“I quit.” This was gonna be an ugly mess, but at least I got in the first words.
“I told you not to give away my POSTERS!” I felt like Christina Crawford in the showdown with the wire hangers.
I was already crying ugly, snot running, dry-heaving. But – dammit – I would have my say. “It was your wife who asked for them. She said you wouldn’t mind.”
“Oh, I MIND alright!” He gesticulated to the credenza behind his desk. “Those posters are more important than THESE!” He pointed to the photos of his children. To this day, I don’t know if he meant the posters were more valuable than his children’s pictures or than HIS ACTUAL CHILDREN.
Through the kind of abominable sobs only a twenty-something girl can emote, I said, “I give you my two weeks notice.” Then I walked out and sat at my desk in the bullpen.
The Monday after the four-day Thanksgiving holiday.
I went back to work, honoring my two weeks notice. And, ironically, after some downtime and a likely chat with his wife, Attila the Hun came to me with remorse. No, he didn’t apologize exactly, but he did tell me he’d like to “help me get started in the field I want to work in.” He had helped a previous assistant get a job working with a director, is that what I want to do?
“No,” I said, “I want to be an actor. You can give me a line on the show and those few minutes of work will pay as much as my salary for the week. The extra income will also help as I look for another job.”
“Oh,” he replied, “I can’t do that. EVERYBODY wants a line on the show. Every wife, sister, nanny. EVERYBODY.”
“Okay,” I said. “But if you’d like to help me that’s what I want.”
My line on the show was, “Hi, my name’s Lynn, and I’m having trouble with my boss.”
The irony of this line was not lost on either one of us.
Yippee, there’s a new Star Wars movie on the horizon and, hurray, all the original 1977 cast members are returning! So it’s set in an adult day health care center, right? Let’s get a preview of where they are now: As a result of a critical cloud car crash, Luke Skywalker went through extensive rehab. This led to his patent pending invention, Skywalker (TM). It’s a walker for Galaxy boomers — those from a long time ago and far, far away. The device even allows for yoga-style exercises which Luke is also developing under the name Death Evader.
Alas, studly Hans Solo found himself pained with gout and prostate issues. But it was worry over loss of testosterone and a mid-life crisis that led to an affair with Ally McBeal and a subsequent divorce from Princess Leia.
Princess Leia has battled both the bottle and an addiction to Chips Ahoy. Ironically, it was the attention of her former captor Jabba the Hutt that brought Leia to her senses. He convinced her that all men are giant worms, whether literally or figuratively, and that she had too much to offer not to move forward with her life. Leia is now a born again Christian and organizer of AA meetings at the Creature Cantina.
When do we reach the tipping point on bad behavior? Aren’t we saturated yet? God knows, I never need to see another “real” housewife from anywhere or keep up with a single Kardashian. But, for me, the tipping point came when I heard about Self magazine making fun of a woman running the Los Angeles marathon in a tutu. Now, I personally think that ANYONE who has got the guts and tenacity to run over 26 miles in one day should not only be celebrated but probably be elected to Congress because they have got more character than I (or most Congressmen) will ever muster.
But, evidently, the sultans of style at Self think anyone running in a tutu is lame (I shudder to think how they’d judge me). So they ask this runner for permission to use her photo in their magazine and she says yes and is excited to be in the magazine and then sees this under “BS Meter — what’s lame this month”:
And here’s the kicker (wait for it…): the tutu-wearing runner is running her first race… After. Surviving. Cancer.
Now the lame editor of this lame magazine has apologized — perfunctorily — and gotten a whole bunch of press (although I think Sheryl Sandburg needs to buy up this rag and fire the whole lot of them). But my point is not merely that ridiculing a sick person is evil, it’s that this constant state of one-upmanship that has been trending — and gathering steam — in social media is evil.
There is a tsunami of bad behavior that has invaded our television channels and our magazines and, well, us. I can’t watch it anymore. I can’t read it. Look, I’m no Pollyanna by any stretch and, yes, I love sarcasm and banter that is witty and intelligent and helpful to individual and cultural growth. But this epidemic of bad behavior fueled by the 24/7 infiltration of media is, I’m convinced, going to lead to society’s downfall — a bunch of self-absorbed, snarky, entitled cliques interested only in their own shallow needs who thrive on degrading those of us simply trying to get by. Did our ancestors fight and win World War II so their heirs could watch trash TV and take non-stop selfies and surf the internet all day? Really?
We’re better than this, America. And the only way to prove it is to stop watching, stop reading, and stop buying this crap. The one thing of which I’m certain is this: If we don’t buy it, watch it, wear it, or tweet it, the media will stop producing it. Show that we are more discriminating in what we consume and we will rise above this degradation being shoveled at us.
I vow to turn it off and tune it out. Anybody with me?
It dawned on me the other day that I never look in the mirror anymore. In fact, I don’t think I’ve looked in the mirror since 1988.
I look inwardly a lot, constantly self-evaluating and analyzing. But, since I never look outwardly virtually at all, I still think I look like I did in 1988.
So my mind’s eye sees myself as a svelte 26-year-old while my real self is a 51-year-old who’s rapidly losing the war to muffin top. No wonder I haven’t really looked in the mirror in three decades.
Now this wouldn’t be a problem — and I’d certainly be happy to continue living in my river of denial — if I weren’t an actress who auditions in front of other people for jobs that require me to be in front of the camera. This is the revelation I had the other day upon leaving a meeting with an agent and noticing that 1) I had failed to notice my blouse had come unbuttoned and was exposing my bra and that 2) a watering eye had caused my mascara to smear the side of my face. I looked like Ray Lewis in drag. Well, at least I’m not a vain actress…
Still, is it better to not look at yourself at all or, as is the trend lately, to look at yourself all the time? I say this is a recent trend because a study just came out stating that elective plastic surgeries are on the rise because of selfies (photos taken of yourself via a smartphone). So young women — beautiful young women — are getting unnecessary Botox, facial peels, and nose jobs because they look at themselves too much. Come on, ladies, you are more than your imperfect nose, your thin lips, your porous skin. At least, this muffin-topped, slightly rumpled Hollywood actress thinks so.
Last night I went to bed mad. Not Hulk-throwing-furniture-out-the-window-mad, but disgusted mad. Last week was an unusually frustrating and misogynistic week in Hollywood for me and it all boiled up as I tried to squash my emotions and just sleep.
And I thought to my self, “Self, you can sit on this anger or you can use it.”
I’m aiming to turn my anger into a positive. Here’s how:
1. Recognize that life is not fair. Not for me. Not for anyone.
2. Number 1 sucks, yes, but move on. Action is key.
3. Use anger to motivate, ridicule, self-analyze. But, for God’s sake, use it. Remember number 2: Action.
I write these rules for myself as much as for anyone else. An old therapist once told me that anger is simply depression begging for action. If I don’t use my anger as motivation, I will fall into the inactivity of depression. And if that happens, who wins? Certainly, not me.
My right knee has been hurting me lately (like for the last 20 years) so the other day I had it X-rayed before seeing the doctor. The X-ray tech took one picture and when she returned to set me up for the next shot, I said, “Don’t I get a lead apron?”
“Oh,” she said, “I can give you one, but we usually don’t offer after a certain age.”
“Because?” I prodded.
“After a certain age a woman is no longer likely to be pregnant.”
“Well, God knows I’m not pregnant, unless it’s the second coming…”
“After 50,” she said, tired of me already. “We don’t offer the aprons after 50.”
So, ladies, if we’re too old to be fertile, we’re too old to protect from unnecessary radiation. Just think of all those years I wasted (by choice) not breeding like a rabbit. Now I’m old, useless, dried up, and childless. Luckily, the X-ray technician came from a family of fourteen which is plenty of breeding to make up for my idle barrenness.
Oh, and, yes, for the remainder of my X-rays I did use the lead apron to cover my 51-year-old fruitless ovaries. Why? Because I am, women are, more than our reproductive systems.