Thursday, May 29, 2008

Big girls still cry, but they're cuter.

So Isabella woke up a different person yesterday.  She said, first thing, "I'm big today." and stretched.  Like, oh well, I guess that happened.  And then she said some disturbing things.  Because she's big now. 

Belly has always been the funny child in our house.  Aidan's humor is too contrived and we have to do the courtesy laugh nearly every time.  And he jokes often about video games.  Like we can relate at all to anything Kirby may or may not have done to Blastoise?  Thank heaven for the neighborhood of boys.  They all get each other.  I don't know how but they do.

But Belly is hilarious.  Her facial expressions are beyond her years and she will hold an expression then allow just her arms to drop.  Or hold her body still and allow the crayon in her hand to drop...with professional timing.  Brett is SO her dad.  Yesterday we were playing with the Playdough that she got for her birthday.  We have these birds from Tiki Island where you push the hollow bird shell down over it's feet and the clay hair and beak come out.  Because I'm me I made "wing warmers" and decide the female's should be polka-dotted.  I decorated another bird's wing warmers with bigger polka-dots.  And I told Bella I would be happy to decorate her Bird's wing warmers also.  She raised her eyebrows and said, "My bird doesn't want polka dots because he's a grown man."  And then the grown man bird proceeded to tell his family of birds that there would be no back squawk.  I really love my job but I may start working less and less because I just won't want to miss the Bella Show.  It's so good, I won't want commercial interruption.  Aha!  (Yeah, I'll leave funny to the B's.)

Friday, May 23, 2008


So this last week I got to shoot a Sci-Fi mockumentary commercial.  Big reveal: I hate Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Brett's really into WoW and I have endless fun making jokes about him being a level 72 Druid Enchantress Rogue Healer or whatever the hud he is.  (Keep in mind as long as I keep it quality material, he loves it.)  On one hand I couldn't wait to poke fun of this genre but on he other I know shoots like this are delicate.  We are making fun of people.  People I'm not married to.  And we have to cast people to play the people we are making fun of.  Unless we cast total pros that are in on the joke and cool about laughing at themselves there can be hurt feelings.  We have to tread lightly with our people and make them feel as super-dee-duper special as possible.  Which is why I am not at all cool for laying into a man we will call, "Mr Extra."
Mr. Extra catches my eye in the line of actors waiting to be given costumes because he's really tall.  I immediately plan to put him in one of my favorites.  A big black alien head with all these cool hoses sticking out of it.  The one the Director loved.  What he doesn't know is that he has just been blessed with the chance to be our favorite character.  But today Mr. Extra has chosen to bring to set with him some unwanted friends we will call, Expectations.
He comes up while I am smack in the middle of ten other things and says, "I can't breathe in my mask."  I say, "OK, not good.  I will put it on my radar and when we get closer to shooting we'll talk about that again.  In the meanwhile don't wear it.  Have a coke and hang out."  And I go back to doing my ten other things.  About fifteen minutes later Mr Extra comes over with a length of tubing from an alien costume he pulled from a box or found on the floor or something.  He asks, "Can I cut about this much off from this hose to use to breathe out of my mask with?"  I stop.  He now has my full attention.  I square up and look him in the eye.  I say politely, "Absolutely not.  These costumes are rented from Universal Studios.  You can not remove a piece of tubing from a costume and cut part of it off.  What you need to do is keep your mask up off of your face until we shoot.  When you hear, "Action" you put it on, and breathe through the mouth slit.  When he yells, "Cut" take it back off and breathe."  And I demonstrate how to breathe.  In-Out, In-Out.  "OK?"  I point to the part he thugged. "Now go put that back." 
After a Herculean effort by make-up to get everyone done, the actors are put in their places.  (So to speak.)  They are pretending to be uber fans waiting to see the phony new film, Trek Wars, The Meekshaw Prophecy.  We are shooting outside in a light rain at the Tower Theater.  Mr Extra is placed towards the front of the line under the marquee.  There are forty or so other "Meekshaw Fans" trailing down the alleyway.  We start to shoot.  For the first two full takes I am occupied elsewhere.  On the third, I stop to watch.  Mr Extra is clean in the shot without his mask.  So I check in with the Director about what's going on with Mr Extra.  He says to get in there and tussle.  I trot over and ask, "Where's your mask?"  Oh, not to worry he's just sitting on it.  But when I look, there on his chair is some green latex thing.  I ask where the original mask went, the one with all the cool tubes coming out and he says he couldn't breathe in it and so he got this one.  I tell him to put it on, please.  I do not question it because one of my assistants may have opted for that as a solution and ours is a unified front.  Mr Extra grudgingly obliges.  I step back behind camera.  Erin from the crew tip-toes over and tells me that Mr Extra said out loud while snacking at crafty that he wasn't going to wear any stupid 'ol mask because he wanted to use this spot for his reel.  Mr Extra will not be identifiable to future clients in a mask.  Mr Extra is creating a false story line he is now supporting by cutting up my costumes.  Mr Extra wants this to be his shoot.  But as is always true in life, when you have a selfish agenda, you will eff things up for yourself every time.  
We shoot an hour more and it begins to rain harder.  We wrap quickly.  We have to be out of the Tower Theater so we move to a tent outside.  Everyone comes out to return their items and they all say thanks and are super cool.  Mr Extra comes up all glowing and high.  (I've seen this before.  Theater people say you're bitten.  Which is why Sarah Jessica Parker named her clothing line Bitten, but I digress.)  Mr Bitten Extra hands me his outfit and smushed mask and a length of black segmented tubing.  I ask him, "What is this?"  He then shows me where he ingeniously cut a hole in it to create a breathing apparatus.  And the part that gets me is that he actually looked proud of himself.  I ask him where he got it.  He said something dodgy like, "I just found it."  I say, "Did you ask someone for this?"  He says no.  I ask if it was from Costume and he says "Yeah, kinda." Kinda?? "Didn't I tell you these were rented costumes?"  I notice that I am sounding very stern.  He goes, "Yeah, but it's just a piece of tubing..." He smirks.  He is NOT sorry.  He acts like I'm killing his buzz.  I am now going to be all over this guy in front of a line of people and some crew.  I say, "So after we have a conversation in which I specifically tell you under no circumstances are you allowed to cut into the costumes, you find a piece of costume and cut a hole in it?"  He sort of snorts, like, "So what?"  I explain that we put deposits on these costumes and we are under contract to care for these costumes with UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and we will have to pay for this thing that he did.  (Money isn't the point...)  And Mr Extra with an eye roll in his voice then tells me to just give him the tube and he'll go to the store and buy a new one for like .75 cents.  And he rudely begins to try and take it out of my hands.  I yank it back and tell him that he is dismissed.   
Over dinner the Director's brother asked if I had a problem with Mr Extra.  I admitted that regrettably, I had.  He told me he saw me giving him the talking to.  And then he thanked me.   Mr Bitten Extra had tried to get a bump in his rate because he felt that he had been made a Featured Extra.  Mr Bitten Featured Extra and his entourage of expectations left a wake of bad feelings with the people on set.  I sure hope he's gonna get ever so much work with that killer reel he's working on.  

Monday, May 12, 2008

Getting to know Amelia Merritt

So I have noticed that the people who read this are Brett's friends.  Hi.  Most of you do not know me, really, so I thought that I would help you learn about the person Brett married.  Let's get acquainted via the common date question, "What is your most embarrassing moment?"

First let me confess, I often give a fake answer to this question.  I say it was when I was a cyclist and I crashed a teammates brand new bike into a pole in a parking lot and was taken away by Ambulance.  Yeah, that did totally suck, but these other gems actually turned out way worse then scrubbing my lips with asphalt.  (I just secretly like dropping that I was a cyclist.)
Here are the top five.

#5.  While using the bathroom at the Mall my son decided to play with the door.  I told him repeatedly to get off of it and then heard that ominous sound.  Click.  I grabbed toilet paper to beat it out of there when sure enough, the door opened and an older hispanic man walked in on me, in mid-wipe.

#4.  I heard the Prom King was asking me to Prom.  But I found out that a boy that wasn't the Prom King was also going to ask me.  So I told the King's friends to tell him to hurry it up.  He asked me that night and I said yes but I felt really bad I rigged it in my favor.  My mom worked internationally then and was flying home the day of prom.  I bought a dress from the Limited for 20 bucks.  It looked just like a Calvin Klein slip dress I had seen on the runway.  I loved it.  No one else did.  It was a slip dress.  I was sixteen.  My mom planned to come home and sew in some modesty.  She arrived late.  My date waited an hour while I was being sewn into my dress.  And the couple we were with also waited, in the car, for an hour.  We went to the dance and my dress fell apart.  I spent an hour in the bathroom.  I tied the spaghetti straps that were luckily still sewn into the front behind my neck and was the first girl in Utah County to wear a halter to prom.  We had a late night carriage ride I froze through.  At the door I leaned in to kiss his cheek.  He got a mouth full of hair.  This one agonized me for years.  Really, years.  Until...

#3.  I tried to kiss my best friend in college.  I had been spending every day with him and got confused.  I called our mutual third party best friend at Princeton.  He told me I had to just hold him down and kiss him or I'd spend the rest of my life dropping hints.  I mulled this over and then saw Reality Bites.  I cut my hair like Winona's.  I went over to his apartment.  He was taking a date to see Reality Bites.  I had to give him something to think about during the movie. I told him we had to talk.  He had to go.  But he had to get past me.  I stood in the doorway of his room and I actually...oh the horror... put my leg up to block him.  Then I grabbed his shirt and went in.  He ducked under my leg and ran.  Leaving me to front confused questions by his roommates, walk home in shame and writhe in the pain of the retarded.  He said later that he needed to just pretend it never happened.  So we did.  And we still do.

#2   I was in New York with Aidan's dad.  Next to our hotel was a movie premiere for a Sandra Bullock thriller film who's name now escapes me.  While we stood there and watched the stars, someone from the event came up and gave us free tickets!  So we decide to change our plans because how often do you watch a movie with Sandra Bullock?  Seriously.  We walk the red carpet.  It took two hundredths of a second and not one of the photographers was fooled into thinking we were someone. We got our free popcorn and the theater was EMPTY! I think they walk the carpet right out the back door.  We sit in the middle.  But like High School, all the cool kids sit in the back.  The only stars even remotely near us are Donald and Melania.  (Boy is she pretty.)  So I tell Ty, "Dude, I have my camera.  I have pictures from out front but I want a picture of Donald."  He proceeds to tell me how lame I would be for acting so uncool.  I tell him I don't care.  He and I have obviously not been officially introduced in our four year relationship.  I am uncool.   So I go back to the cool kids area with my crappy digital.  And I ask, "May I please have a picture of you and your lovely girlfriend Mr. Trump?"  (Not bad.)  And he says OK.   And I know this only because he nods his head in the affirmative.  I take the picture.  And then he says, "asdvnb nuas a ekjbfu hka kdhsfhuh kewh fjb."  And I realize I have no idea what he is saying to me.  I can't hear anything.  And all my mind thinks is, "Donald Trump is talking to you right now.  See, his lips are moving.  Do something."  So I nod my head in the affirmative.  And then I walk away.  What did Donald Trump say to me?  Perhaps, "Are you looking forward to the movie?"  And I nodded, yes.  Or, "Are you enjoying New York?"  And I nodded, yes.  Or, "Do I look like a ridiculous pedophile next to this gorgeous girl?"  And I nodded, yes. 

Why couldn't I just say, "Pardon?  I couldn't hear you."   I don't know.  I don't know.  I still find myself on odd months contemplating possible combinations of things Donald Trump may or may not have asked me one spring night in New York City.

#1  Here it is.  My skeleton.  It's not my illegitimate kids, everyone knows about them!  It's Pictionary.  I am really good at Pictionary.  And back in the day there were shows like, Win Lose or Draw and...Pictionary.  So I decide one day that I would follow in our grand family tradition and go on a game show.  (My mother was on Sale of the Century and stared without blinking for the whole hour long episode and managed to answer the ONE question with the shaky response of..."The ice man never cometh."  I was nine and I knew the never part was wrong.  But I digress.)  I call up and get the try out info.  I go to LA.  I muster up more personality than usual and play well.  They have me come in a bunch of times and play other contestants in front of multiple producers and everything.   I come back to Utah and get called with a shooting date.  I drive to California and check-in with the contestant coordinator, Tony.  He says they have some special stuff planned for shooting.  I should bring extra changes of clothes.  I immediately start thinking about actually being on TV.  I get sick.  But not to my stomach.  I get a sore throat and fever of 102.  I have the chills in my Hollywood Hotel 6.  I try to sleep and can't.  I show up the next day and can barely draw a dinosaur.  I take a handful of Dayquill at the CBS drinking fountain.  I go back to the practice to find out they have changed the rules for today's show.  We are on a special cut-throat episode.  Returning champs have been re-instated for our show only.  If we win today, we come back.  We may need our extra outfits.  As an added bonus, the creator of the show, the producers and even the man who created Pictionary are all on set for our episode, to watch.  I meet the other contestant, a nice boy from Canada.  I meet the host, Alan Thicke.   I am asked to pick a colored envelope.   Orange or Purple.  I hear a voice in my head say, "PURPLE!"  I go,  WTF Amelia?

Now I told everyone before I left that my dream team would be Screech and Jim J Bullock.  Those two exact names.  It seemed like a funny and unlikely duo.   And now who do you suppose is on the Purple team?  Jim J. Bullock and Screech.  And who do you suppose is on my team?  Some anorexic B actress and Joan Van Arc, who is wearing more make-up than her head should physically be able to support.   And we sit down and prepare to shoot.  I hate the intro for some reason.   Alan makes no sense and says I am a Tailor from Utah while visibly kissing up to the Canadian boy.  Alan is from Canada, too!   We begin to play.  I'm beating the Canadian.  And then we break and come back to tell a "spontaneous" story about brushes with fame we've had.  I once met Pierce Brosnan and I relay that I just melted on the floor.  I then said, and I quote myself, "There was a puddle of me."  Alan laughs AT me and makes a Pee Pee joke at my expense before sitting on the other couch and fawning all over the Canuk.  Next is the lightening round.  And the theme is cliches.  My team is first and I eventually get one I have to pass.  But Alan Thick sticks out his arm and says, "No."  No!   I go back and try and draw but I just have to pass.  This time he "lets" me.  The next cliche puzzle Joan tries to draw.  She draws notes and cans and breathes heavy before she passes to the skinny girl but she's at a loss.  She draws piano keys and a fish.  Time runs out.  The cliche' is revealed.  It was, "You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish."  My mind reels.  The other guy sails through the lightening round and got more puzzles than me and gets to come back.  He wins five thousand dollars.  I collect my six other outfits.  Tony tells me that since the cliche was questionable and since Alan stopped me from passing that I am welcome to come back.  From somewhere way down inside of myself I manage to say, "No thanks."  And I drive 10 hours home dizzy from Dayquil and regret.  Alan Thick.  Bah.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mold, black mold.

So I have had the pleasure of staying home for the last few weeks.  (Because I work in waves.)  And now I am sick.  We had the mold tested and in Aspergillus spores per cubic meters of air our upstairs livingroom tested at 285.  Just so you have a control, outside measured 57.  Where we watch TV every night measured 1560.  And in the three adjacent rooms I spent three days doing demo in measured 29,600.  Those rooms are currently sealed.  The ugly stuff, Stachybotrys, in SPCM of air weighed in at 0 outside, 6 in the living room and 57 in the sealed off rooms.

We have been advised to Hepa clean and/or dispose of all porous belongings in our entire downstairs.  It either has to be washed or it has to go.  Gone.  All of it.  Brett had his entire life's treasures in boxes in that room.  All of our books still unpacked, with no where to go, in those rooms.  My son's Rokenbok building set it took three years worth of Birthdays and Christmases and Ebay auction bids to establish. I can't imagine what it's like to have a fire and lose everything.  I've only lost part of the downstairs.  It not the stuff it's what it means.

I am right now trying to contain my frustration and anger that people would actually leave a situation like this to fester and harm other people.  What if we had put the kid's rooms down there?  We had planned it that way.  What if?
My Mother in Law slept down there and so did my sister and her newborn baby.  The baby she was not supposed to have because she was told she couldn't conceive.  The one that cost her tens of thousands of dollars to create.  Like babies aren't priceless enough.  Like people don't already think their babies are a miracle.  And some careless thoughtless heartless people just decided that they just wouldn't care about this stupid house and it's problems and would dump it and make it someone else's problem.  In America that's called a law suit.