Day Twelve: July 29, 2006
I realized that I’ve left many of you hanging with regards to the invasion of bugs in the hotel lobby. Let me include the text of a letter many of us received in our rooms just the other day (all grammatical errors are not mine for a change):
Please let me first take this opportunity to thank you for choosing JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel on your visit to Romania.
I would kindly like to inform you that during this summer season Bucharest is again faced with a particular situation. Due to the high temperatures, the entire city of Bucharest is challenged by a Spanish flies (“Cantharis” a small black beetle) incursion. You might have seen them around the premises or in very rare cases in the hotel.
We have contacted the local authorities which are also aware of the occurrence.
Fortunately as we have been informed, they are very clean and do not represent a danger to health.
We have also introduced appropriate measures accordingly but still as they are being able to fly, some of them are capable to enter through the windows if they are left open or through any other accessible areas.
Therefore we would like to kindly ask you to keep the windows in your room closed.
Thank you again for staying with us and for your understanding.
Front Office Manager
Nice note. Now I’m not sure if the beetles received the same note but ever since we got it, I haven’t seen one beetle in the hotel. It must have been the line about contacting the local authorities.
I’m still on a hunt for a pencil sharpener. I’ll survive if I don’t find one. It’s just the idea that a country like this doesn’t seem to feel the need to have one. It seems to be a foreign concept here. I wonder if, when people make the effort to look for one, they’re really looking or just pretending so I’ll walk away thinking that people care. I asked the front desk this morning, thinking that the answer might be different if I ask at a different time of day. Different time of day, same answer. They even called the Business Center but I wonder if they really called or just called that number to check the time.
Well today’s my day. After all of this watching over everyone else’s stuff, it’s time to shoot Big Trouble. And it looks like it might be a fun day. Someone’s already working with Teodor (the grandfather) on alternate lines such as “I’ll do your homework.” It plays really funny. Funnily? No, funny.
A few days ago, I mentioned Christy and Sarah’s trip to Comic Con, the annual dork festival out west. On the heroscapers.com website, nerds who love this game enough to talk about it online mentioned how happy they were that Hasbro hired “booth bunnies” who, in reality, were just Hasbro employees. Well I found out today that the front page of the heroscapers.com website features a picture of the one and only Sarah Barber, now admired by housebound nerds and muscular Romanian men and those are just the ones who are vocal about it.
Sarah’s the one on the right. I don’t know who the other two people are. I’m willing to bet that the guy on the left is a “fan” who now has enough photos of Sarah on his bedroom wall to alert any of the cops from any of the Law and Order franchises. Either that or I just insulted the head of some corporation.
There’s a stray cat on the set. Actually, it’s more like a kitten. Very cute. It’s sort of latched on to me, but that’s only because I keep picking it up and letting it sit on my shoulder. I look like a pirate with aggression issues. There are allergy issues so my new buddy and I make sure no one with allergies is near us. Although somehow I keep ending up next to Christy.
Director Tom, who isn’t happy unless he’s making some kind of comment or another directed at me has started calling me Flea, not for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s bassist, but because I’m walking around with a stray kitten. Flea. Like that’ll catch on. But Liz and Robert have endorsed “Flea”, so that’s apparently a new nickname for me. Later on in the day, this changes to “Fleabowitz” and then, simply “Fleabo” to match the “Liebo” name many friends call me. Liz isn’t much for leaving things the way they are. Instead, she always searches for something to make whatever’s in front of her a little better. So it was no real surprise when she named the kitten “Witzy.” This evolved into a new cartoon series, “The Adventures of Fleabo and Witzy.” She can’t stop laughing at this. To be honest, neither can I. Reading this now probably doesn’t do justice to how fun it really was. Plus, Liz has this really infectious laugh so it’s hard not to join in.
We’ve started shooting “Big Trouble” and it’s not going as smoothly as I’d like. The dynamic that existed with the cast when they were just playing for fun seems to be missing. So does half the family. It’s only a little girl with her two brothers out on the set. So I summon for the dad who, I noticed, is sort of the ringleader of the group. He’s a bit goofy and everyone seems to feed off his energy. It’s around this time that Christy approaches me with a comment about the game play. Now, I can’t remember exactly what it was but I do remember her actually saying something about, “the mixed metaphor for game play.” Okay I get it Christy. You graduated college. Although so did I and I have no idea what she’s talking about. So we had a laugh about that and then Hemmingway punched me in the mouth (a very select few will get that reference).
By the way, Chariots of Fire’s real name is Albert. I know this because James (who has now become Jimmy Mac, thanks to Liz) has brought him over and introduced him to Sarah. I don’t know what James’s motivation is for this but it’s irrelevant. The question remains: Albert? This guy’s name is Albert? I’m not buying it.
Yesterday, we were eating lunch and marveling over how much we had done to that point, what with blowing up stuff and things like that. Robert mentioned that one of the worst feelings is when you break for lunch and haven’t even shot anything yet. That almost happened today. Lots of set up and lighting and stuff and the next thing you know, it’s time for lunch. Let me guess, chicken and pork. Yes!!!!!
We’re introducing some new things to the vernacular. The first is 35. 35 is similar to 86 as in “to get rid of something.” But 35 refers to the number on the shirt of the kid we axed from the Cosmic Catch shoot (see Day 9). So when something is missing or thrown away, it’s been 35ed.
Also, in celebration of the proliferation of the name “Ionescu”, we’ve coined the phrase, “not so fast, Ionescu.” This basically means, “Hold on there a minute, sport.” And we had our first “not so fast Ionescu” moment yesterday while shooting Yahtzee Turbo game play. We’re trying to get authentic reactions from these people. There’s a cute little girl and when she does something, we want the parents to look thrilled. But the actors playing the parents are taking this to bizarre levels, especially the dad who grabbed the girl’s head and kissed her on the cheek. Not so fast, Ionescu!
Now that I have a new nickname, I should mention that the list of Topher nicknames keeps growing. The latest entries:
1) T. Loose
2) T. Loose Lorette
3) Laurette T’ouffer (this is his NBA name. Robert has a specific spelling. This isn’t it.)
4) T. Lo
5) Jimmy Mac and T. Lo (Jimmy Mac is James’s nickname)
7) Chet (that one’s mine from our Canadian casting trip)
The Canadian cast is working out okay. The little boy, Tyson, is pretty shrewd. Between takes, he’s been upstairs playing Electronic Battleship. This is a newer version and he’s having a hard time learning it. Or so he says. He came down to the stage and approached Sarah, asking if she could help him play the game. She was flattered and honored and followed him upstairs. After a bit, I run up to see how it’s going. This kid is in love with Sarah. I keep imagining that he’s purposely making her reach for pieces and stuff. Smooth. So if anyone out there is keeping score, Sarah has attracted the interest of creepy Heroscape fan, Chariots of Fire and 9-year-old boy. And there’s still 2 days to go!
The thing that Topher is learning quickly is that no one is safe on our shoots. Every day someone is going to be on the hot seat, the recipient of some good-natured ribbing. Yeah, ribbing. I said it. After 12 days, young T. Lo is finally starting to smile instead of wonder why we’d make fun of him to his face.
Many of you haven’t met Topher. He has light blue eyes that always appear wet or slightly glazed. That’s a good thing. I’m trying not to sound like I’m in love with the guy or something. So we’ve picked on the glazed look thing and made fun of that. ‘Cuz that’s what we do. And just when you think he’s adjusting to all of this, Robert tells me that Topher approached him, took him aside and said, “Do you really think my eyes look glazed?” Ah Topher. We’ll make you one of us yet.
The day marches on at a snail’s pace. We’re finally up to the grandpa and we’ll be shooting close ups of his line readings. All day, we’ve been trying to get the cast to read directly into the camera. But Tom tells me not to get my hopes up with the grandpa. See, aside from being hard of hearing, he has cataracts. So Super AD Benita Allen is frantically waving a white piece of paper in front of the lens to focus poor Teodor.
The thing is, Teodor was the life of the party! Just when you think he’s not getting it or he’s totally out of it or something, he delivers a line or a piece of performance that cracks up the entire cast and crew. I’m developing a theory that this guy is not what he seems. I think he was a big shot with the Communist party during Ceausescu. The communism fell and he went into hiding. He plays the doddering old man but he’s probably a cold-hearted killer. I’m trying to get others on board with this theory but no one’s biting. Oh no! Teodor’s gotten to them already!!!!!!
So we wrap up and it’s time to head back to the hotel for a beverage. Stephanie wants to go upstairs and change her clothes. Into what? A ball gown? A prom dress? Stephanie always dresses to the nines (hang on, my computer just slipped back into 1926). Always looks like she’s ready to go out. Today was no different. It’s like the joke in Blazing Saddles where Lily von Shtupp says she wants to change from her tight body suit into something a little more comfortable. And then she comes out in something even more flashy and revealing. Not that Stephanie’s outfits are revealing. Far from it. She just has a great sense of style.
We’re all getting tired. At least I am. Robert wants to order another drink but he can’t. Not because the bar is closed but because, “it’s after midnight and he’s not allowed to have lime.” That’s what the bartender said. I have no idea what that means. Some things are better left unsolved.