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  1. Coughin', Sneezin', and All that Jazz

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    I have a miserable cold and fever besides other issues.  That doesn't mean there aren't good things going on too.  But right now, my energy is low.  I have stories to share, as usual, but for now a blast from the past.


  2. Respect For Helen Mirren by Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, August 18, 2016

    On a lunch break his week. doing stand-in* work on the TV show Madam Secretary, I had a provocative exchange with a background** co-worker we'll call Patricia Patrician.
    She was a petite mature white woman more attractive in person than the selfies she shared*** conveyed.

    I envied the flattering cut of Patricia's thick head of gray hair. Yes, I envy women (of a certain age) who confidently sport thick heads of white, platinum, or graying hair with aplomb. I also envy women who use words like aplomb with aplomb, but I digress.

                This Photo Is Not Patricia

                               The Only Photo After I Searched For Images Of Black Women With Gray Hair

    Patricia was researching roles for a screen scene study class (say that 3 times fast!) and was disappointed those she'd read included semi-nudity, which she felt was demeaning to women.

    We got on the topic of standing-in, which I've done many times including for Whoopi Goldberg on an episode of Absolutely Fabulous shot in NY. I mentioned Patricia could easily stand in for an actress I've admired for decades...

    Helen Mirren

    I not only envy this hair-do I need this photo filter for my life!

    We bonded over our affection for Helen Mirren until I mentioned how frequently she appeared semi- nude in many of her (critically acclaimed!) films. Patricia's face paled as she sighed.

    PP: Now, I've loss all respect for her.
    Me: Why have you lost respect for Helen Mirren?
    PP: I don't think a woman should demean herself by doing that on film.
    Me: Doing what?
    PP: Taking her clothes off on-camera.
    Me: Do you have less respect for Jane Fonda, Sophia Loren, and Susan Sarandon?
    PP: I don't respect any woman who would take her clothes off on-camera. What do you think?
    Me: I think you have every right to your opinion.

    And in my head I continued... "If I were offered the quantity and quality of diverse and challenging roles offered to Helen Mirren, I'd drop clothes in a NY minute. And I'm not going to mention my youthful lead in an indie feature in which I played a stripper!

    That being said, I recently turned down the opportunity to audition for a nude part just because I considered my naked body of the moment not "camera ready". Now THAT is demeaning! I may have just lost all respect for myself.

    *Stand-in is a (2nd team) actor who stands in position for the principal or featured actor while the director sets blocking and technicians arrange lighting and assorted equipment needed for a particular scene; after which the (1st team) star, feature or day player actor steps into place.

    **Background artists or ambiance is the name I prefer to what some disparagingly call "extras". These are the (non-speaking) actors who walk around or sit near 1st team actors to support the look or ambiance of a scene.

    ***Sharing pictures of our different "looks" is a traditional pastime on set. We compare the "characters" we offer casting directors who hold our incomes in their decisions. For example ...

    Join me in cabaret mode with Ann McCormack, Woody Reagan & Friends 
    Like, Follow & Re-tweet Me on Twitter, Tumblr & IG
    Cause That's The Thing To Do These Days


  3. Yes, I've got a few thoughts on our 
    Presidential Campaign 


                           I made this tape to enter the MoveOn.Org contest 
                                            Love Trumps Hate

    Who Knows What Next Week Will Bring?

  4. At the "Nightly Show"

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016

     My long-time friend Judy and I went to the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

                              I love being with her.  We know each other over more than three decades.  Before the actual taping, one of the people who work with audience offered to take pictures on our cell phones of us on the set.  I have a flip phone, but I got it ready for picture taking.  I thought I’d get mine, and Judy would get hers on her more sophisticated phone.  As I stood in position, Judy gave the woman her phone and joined me on the set.  I had to laugh because we can easily look like a “couple.”

                              I leaned over and told Judy, “No one is ever going to believe I’m straight.”
                             “What else is new?” Judy responded.  I had to laugh.

                        That is so true.  No matter what the reality is, people see what they see, and to many, we are a couple.  We are actually a couple of friends who have been on and off in terms of making time for each other over the years, but when we are together, we have typically shared our deep concerns, happinesses, and unhappinesses. Our time together has not been consistent, but it is meaningful and most often very fun and love-filled.

                        The show was good.  Wilmore is naturally funny.  The tickets are free.  If anyone in the NYC area wants to go, you, too, can request tickets here:

                        Toward the end of the show, a hip hop group performed an anti-Trump song (cleaned up somewhat).  At one point, my body jerked back.  Judy turned to me to see what was the matter. 

                        "I thought his dick hit the floor ‘cuz he let go.”


  5. A Commentary on My Commentary

    Tuesday, July 19, 2016

    I was asked by the producer if I could attend a commentary on a film I was in since it is getting attention by a distribution company.  It was for a Friday night, and I actually was available.  I wrote back, “Yes, yes, yes,” and I asked for the details.  Nothing.  Then as the evening was approaching, I contacted him and said I never got the details – time, address, etc.  He said, “I thought you couldn’t come.”

    Now, I know when women say “NO” it is sometimes interpreted by men as “Yes.”  But here I said, “Yes, yes, yes,” and he thought I said no.  Go figure.  It made me wonder if maybe he didn’t want me there for the commentary.  He sent me the details though never answered one of my questions.  It was an important question.  I went anyway.

    I definitely didn’t allow myself enough time to get from the Bronx to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  So I was late.

    When I arrived, the producer said he couldn’t believe we were all there at the same time.  It wasn’t the whole cast, just a few of us.  He even asked me (and the others) what made me agree to come.  I said that since I was in the film, I felt a part of it and involved since then.  I came to the cast party too. 

    It is in the horror genre with a twist of comedy, and definitely some originality.  I don’t watch horror films.  I could appreciate this one because I was in it, the producer and director treated us well, and everything they said they’d do, they did.  I’m glad for them if they get some fame from this.  They are pretty focused and passionate about it.

    I arrived a bit stressed from the trip, being late, etc., but I was in a generally good mood though somewhat tired.

    The others were males, and, within minutes, I felt like I was on a very male planet like the one I’m actually on, and it felt awful.  I wasn’t expecting this since my experiences with them had been good, so I was off guard.  They were talking about some other film where someone put a charger or something in a woman’s vagina and charged their phone.  And I felt like I felt much of my early life, speechless and horrified at how we are hated.  The thought never occurred to me to do such a thing to anyone including a rapist.  I’d rather a rapist just be shot dead.  I’m not a fan of torture.

    Then later it seemed to get a little more comfortable.  The producer shared stories with us about different cast members.  He had frustrating experiences with some.  One woman apparently was supposed to get paid extra because she was supposed to have a make-out scene with one of the actors.  But the day of the filming of that scene, the actor had a cold sore.  She refused to do it which was understandable to all, but she insisted on the money for the make-out scene.  That was the point of contention.  I admire that she did insist on the money, but I know I wouldn’t have, unfortunately.  She was counting on the money, it wasn’t her who had the cold sore, so good for her.

    Now here is what took the whole thing back in a shitty direction.  Another actor said that she still could have kissed him, just not on the lips.  Then he went on to say that the producer should’ve made it so every actress has to make-out, and then just tell them it landed on the cutting room floor.

    Just love that dehumanization.  It’s so heartwarming when a human is spoken of as a thing.  At that point, I guess my spirit was sinking and I was starting to wish I had stayed the fuck home.  Almost a two-hour trip to feel invisible and speechless.  If we don’t keep consciously addressing it, this shit just takes over again.  Generation after generation is always in danger of having any progress reversed.  Geeeez!  (For those readers who are concerned about “upsetting the guys,” I’d say they come that way.  How else can they speak of us as containers for their garbage?)

    At that point, I wasn’t feeling very commentative.  I suddenly had so little to say.  As an actress, it had actually been a really fun experience to do the film.  And we were paid.  But when it came to the commentary, I felt smothered by misogyny.  It was a sense of the world being about them while everyone else is just kinda there to serve and adorn. 


  6. Integrated Minds

    Tuesday, July 12, 2016

    For a long time, I often wondered how gay people could be practicing Catholics or how women can be police officers or soldiers when their "own" are as dangerous to them as the perceived enemy.  I have wondered what black police officers feel about their peers and their jobs.  I'm not talking about black people who forgot where they came from or women who don't appreciate real women.  I'm talking about those whose many positions in life are connected, integrated, and not compartmentalized.

    I am a teacher.  I come from the poor working class until my Grandpa passed away.  Then we were on welfare.  At 17, I was thrown out of my grandmother's apartment because I was dating a black man, didn't lie about it, nor did I feel wrong.  Now I am the working struggling class.  I went to college living on a top floor walk-up, eating creamed cheese sandwiches for many meals.  I had hope.  Then Reagan became president, and rents quadrupled or more.

    My students are adults who also had challenging lives and didn't get to finish high school.  We connect rather easily.  We generally do well together.  Other teachers have puzzled over what I "do in my room" that I generally have good attendance, students making academic progress, laughter in the classroom.  I don't know how to get across to those teachers that it isn't what I do as much as how I am and what I don't do.  Many teachers have much more interesting well planned lessons than I do, but what I do tends to go in because of the relationship.  I don't work in the Bronx to convince myself I'm a progressive person while snickering at those who live here.  I live here and work in my borough.  A student once told me, "Mindy, you don't change because you are real."  Moments like that take a permanent place in my heart.

    As a teacher in the Bronx, I often have felt our students would be better off if the bigoted do-gooders stayed in their own communities because as skillful as they may be in their craft, they bring their bigotry with them while believing they don't.  It does its damage.  I have often felt my insides screaming, "Why are you in this field? Go sell real estate!"

    This is someone I feel in sync with.  Her worlds are integrated.

    One black female police officer's response to what's going on ...

    Tears rolled down my face as I watched.  Yet it felt comforting that other sincere people exist, mean what they say, and live an authentic life.  

    On a positive note, I was uplifted by seeing what some younger women are doing with their intelligence, talent, and concern about others.  Enjoy!


  7. Comics Watching Comics

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016

    Sunday, June 26th had lots going on.  In my Bronx, the Bronx Museum of the Arts hosted “Boogie on the Boulevard” which takes place on the last Sunday of each summer month on the Grand Concourse.  There’s music and games, dancing and art-making, and all sorts of things.  I want to get to one, but I couldn’t get to it this time.

    Sunday, June 26th was also the Gay Pride March in Manhattan.  Years ago, I went regularly to support my gay friends and the gay community and humanity in general.  But this year wasn’t going to be one when I could go.


    Sunday, June 26, 2016 was the day I was going to be at the New York Comedy Club most of the day for a taping of 50 comics for upcoming episodes 3 and 4 of Comics Watching Comics.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show, here are former episodes that I enjoyed watching before deciding to do it.

    Before I reached the train to head downtown, a man who lives in my neighborhood saw me and told me, “Ever since your dog passed away, you’ve put on weight.  You look good.”  He affectionately touched my shoulder.  I believed him that he thought I looked good.  No black man ever told me I was too fat.  One once told me to put some weight on. 

    I sat through 50 comics.  I am super grateful that I was #9 on the list.  I actually went up 8th because the person before me hadn’t arrived yet.

    The show is one where the panelists are going to talk about the set of each comic.  A year ago, I might not have taken the chance.  I am also aware that my work quality and my confidence do not match.  That’s true for many people.  Many seem to have more confidence than their work merits (NOT talking exclusively about comics regarding this phenomenon – I’ve seen it across the board, teachers, writers, poets, etc.)  Then there are those who don’t feel as confident as they should.  My confidence fluctuates and sometimes may have little to do with the actual quality of my work.  

    As it got closer to the day of the taping, I questioned again if this was a good thing for me to be doing.  I’d be performing to a roomful of comics.  Those of you readers not in comedy, I will tell you that performing to comics is not typically the most responsive audience/ rewarding experience.

    Fast-forward.  The roomful of comics turned out to be a wonderful audience!  My set went quite well.  I was able then to relax and enjoy the others.  Between my set and sitting down, I was greeted by Rhonda Hansome, our Thursday “She,” who was also going to be taped performing a set.  It felt so good to see a familiar face and supportive person.  I gave her a big hug.  She hugged back.  That was a nice plus.  And even better yet, I don’t think she and I are competing with each other.  I believe I am in the episode 3 batch, and she is in the episode 4 batch. 

    I left feeling good that I did this.  I can only do my current best.  I am braced for whatever the panelists might say.  I am okay with it being aired.  I’m proud that I feel that okay with it all.  I just hope the cameras (that supposedly add pounds to the look of a person) help people see me through the lens of that man in my neighborhood.  J