Friday, February 13, 2009

The Fatman Scoop Chronicles: Musical Chairs

I moved. No, I take that back. I was told I had to leave. I was given two days to pack up all my ish and move out. I found some spare boxes around the way and quickly filled them with all of my belongings. As I sat there with my life packed away in boxes, waiting for movers to come help me move, I was told I had to do it all by myself. So I rolled up my sleeves and pushed my own file cabinets down the hall and around the corner to my new cubicle.

I wasn’t the only one forced to leave. Four other people were uprooted as well. Why? Because Slim moved into our neighborhood. My boss showed me the top secret floor plan that he and the other upper management bigwigs came up with. It was a nicely drawn up diagram with squares that represented people’s cubicles and little numbers that displayed each cubical’s dimensions and layout. Although he tried to tell me the purpose of the move was to get everyone who worked together closer to one another, I knew better. In actuality, the purpose of the plan was to move Slim as far away from everyone as possible. This is how it all went down:

Slim was moved to the cubicle next to Jane and across from me, Suzy and a consultant.

Suzy moved 2 cubicles down to get further away from Slim.

Jane moved to Becka’s cubicle.

Becka moved back to the cubicle she left because it was two spots down from Slim and she couldn’t take the smell. (She’s glad to be back in her old neighborhood.)

The consultant was moved to a new “permanent” home.

The lounge area that’s located across from where Slim sits now has been turned into a storage room.

I was moved to the cubicle next to where Slim used to sit.

When Slim vacated his old cubicle, it instantly turned into a tourist attraction. As folks made their way down the hall, they would purposely slow their roll just to get a peek inside. “It’s disgusting in here,” one woman whispered. “Who are they going to put in here now?” another man wondered. “No one’s going to want to work inside of there” everyone agreed. “I sure hope they pull this carpet up and rebuild this cubicle from scratch. This is just horrible,” another woman protested as she turned her nose up and walked away. Truth is, his cubicle was everything they said – and more. I swear I thought I was going to come to work the next day to find it roped off with yellow caution tape. Yes, it was that bad. Instead, I came to work to find it spotless. The carpet was clean, (I'm not so sure if they pulled it up. This is a recession), the desk was sparkling and the phone and chair were replaced.

As for Slim, well, I hear he still smells. In fact, the people who use the hallway by where he sits now have started to complain. Poor Slim, he just can’t catch a break. What’s more, he is beginning to drive people crazy outside of work as well. When I first began to blog about Slim, I felt bad. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that others find him to be blog-worthy as well.

Oh, and as for Slim’s old cubical; a new hire will be occupying that space in about a week or so. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. And what we do know will make for even more comical, workplace banter.

To Be Continued…

Friday, January 16, 2009

Room Tone

"Quiet on the set!" It's one of the first phrases they teach you in acting school. Before there is sound, speed and a rolling camera, there must first be silence. Not so much the case at auditions.

Typically, the audition process consists of actors sitting or standing in a small room or narrow hallway, side-by-side with their immediate competition. Some are silently mouthing the words to their monologues or pacing the floor feverishly as they study their sides. Acts like these have become common practice and tolerable in the audition setting. But then you have the talkers. The actors who use the waiting room as a social playground for catching up with their long lost thespians.

Jacob Sanchez, a stage actor in New York City, is guilty of being a waiting room chatterbox.

"I'm constantly running into old classmates and other actors I've worked with at auditions and I can't help but to use that opportunity to catch up with them" says Sanchez. "So many times, we change our phone numbers, move away and lose contact with one another. So, when I see an old friend, I want to catch up with them right then and there."

Everyone doesn't appreciate Sanchez's friendly banter. Jasmine Miles, a veteran stage actor, wishes she could give these newbies a lesson in audition etiquette.

"It's God-awful the way some of these kids conduct themselves in the waiting room" complains Miles. "I'm forced to hear about their problems, summer vacations and previous auditions all while I'm trying to prepare for my reading. They have no consideration."

Alana Cass, a casting intern at a mid-level, bi-coastal casting agency in New York City, has seen and heard it all.

"I get complaints from actors everyday who are upset about the noise other actors are making while they are waiting to audition" Cass says. "I try my hardest to accommodate everyone, but that's never easy, and always hard to do."

Once, Cass had to play mediator between two feuding actors. One was fuming because the other showed up to the audition with a crying child in a stroller.

"That was a rough day," recalls Cass. "It was an all-out screaming match. I politely asked the woman with the baby if she could step outside and return back once she quieted down her child. She walked out in a huff and never came back."

Cass understands that "common folk" tend to be fascinated by the whole process. But she suggests actors leave their Aunt Sally visiting from Arkansas at the Starbucks around the corner until they are done with their appointment.

"I always urge my actor-friends to go to their auditions alone," says Cass. "Sometimes the noisemakers are not the actors, but the company they drag along with them."

Cass has even begun to take things into her own hands.

"I got the okay from one of the senior associates to put up a sign that reminds the talent to keep their cell phones on silent and chatter to a minimum," says Cass.

In the meantime, Sanchez has become cognizant of his actions in front of the casting director - and in the waiting room as well.

"I have gotten quite a few ugly looks," recalls Sanchez. "I'm getting better. When I run into old buddies, I whisper for them to meet me down in the lobby so we can talk there."

He'd better, or Miles will certainly teach him a thing or two about manners.

"I'm ready to pluck these twerps upside the head if I have to," quips Miles.


Monday, January 12, 2009


We all have our thing. Some people have nice, long legs that never seem to hit the ground, while others have pretty, straight, white teeth that light up a room when they smile. My thing is my skin. I'm known for having a clear face. Of course growing up (you know, with puberty and all) I had the occasional break out, but overall, I've been pretty lucky in the acne department. In fact, my back broke out more than anything else, that is, until my senior year in high school when my dermatologist prescribed me some "special" cream and pills that zapped those zits into oblivion - and burnt me to a crisp. I remember my mom slathering Vaseline on my back to help ease the stinging agony. But hey, beauty is pain, right? After that I thought I (and my skin) was in the clear. Besides, only kids have breakouts and adults don't get bumps (or so I thought). Flash forward to today, and my face looks like a cheese grater.

Maybe I'm over reacting. Actually, I know I am. But what do you expect? I'm an actor and I make use of my dramatic license any chance I get. But seriously, I've got bumps all over my face. I feel...dare I say it? Unpretty! You know, like if a person is holding a conversation with me, their voice slowly begins to fade into the distance as I drift off to a galaxy far far away where I imagine said person snickering and pointing at me and my bumps. What gives? Could I actually be suffering from adult acne?

According to, "adult acne affects 25% of all adult men and 50% of adult women." The website also goes on to say that "people can develop unpleasant acne or have an acne recurrence in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond." (Sigh) Clearly, I'm not in the clear after all. The website advises that I do a benzoil peroxide over-the-counter regimen. I immediately ran to my medicine cabinet. Turns out, I have that already! I actually have quite a bit of product.

As I rummaged through my cabinet and began to apply my benzoil peroxide filled Proactiv refining mask and repairing lotion, I started to wonder if the issue was deeper than my clogged pores. What's more, why do I care? Am I that superficial that I would let a few bumps to ruin my day and allow a wave of insecurities to flood my head? Well, yes, yes I am. But if Oprah can put her over-weight self next to her formerly skinny self on the cover of O, then why can't I bare my soul here on my little, ity bity blog? So, instead of hiding behind a pair of big shades or inside the oversized hoody of my Gap snorkel, here I am, stripped, exposing all my private bump treatments. Take that Oprah! Oh, and Happy Monday!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Fatman Scoop Chronicles: The Discovery

There is a sweet, four to five hundred pound man who works in my department. We'll call him Slim. Slim comes to work everyday, does his job and minds his business. After being an employee with the company for over twenty years, his job performance doesn't seem to be an issue. It's other things of a more personal nature that raise a flag: His hygiene.

Over the years, I've heard horror stories about how Slim carries an odor. "No way," I thought. I've walked pass Slim plenty of times (without holding my breath like I was urged to do) and smelled nothing of the kind. "Why are they picking on this poor man," I wondered. Sure, his cubicle is a two-by-four disaster area full of empty Coca-Cola cans and dingy old news papers scatterd about his desk, but everyone isn't a neat-freak, you know? He even got sent home once, forced to use one of his vacation days, because a co-worker in the cubicle next to him complained that the stench was too much to bear. Poor Slim. "These people are awful," I proclaimed shaking my head. He's such an easy target. Why are they so mean to him? I mean, I have heard him mumble to himself a time or two as he wobbled down the hallway to the elevator for lunch, but who hasn't? Then there was the time I caught him slicking his hair down with the sanitizing gel they provide for us outside the men’s room. But forty hours of fluorescent lights and beige cubicle walls would make you a bit loopy too! In my head, I always stood up for Slim. Well, until yesterday that is.

As I clocked in and made my way to my cubicle, I saw Slim easing on down the hallway and I gave him my usual corporate tight-lipped grin and head nod combo, and continued to breathe as I always do. "WTF?!" I said out loud. There it was in all its glory: Funk! It was a mixture of haven't bathed in days, cheap cologne and sanitizer gel. It wasn't an urban legend after all. Dude really does reek. But unlike my office cohorts, I kept my discovery to myself. The man has enough enemies. Why must I add to the list?

As I continued on with my usual day of faux-work and light office chitchat, a co-worker rushed into my cubicle. "Where's the fire?!" I asked. "They're moving Slim over to our area," she exclaimed. "Everyone in his area banned together and marched into the director's office and demanded that he be moved." "No fair!" I shouted. "If they can't deal with it over there, what makes them think we'll be able to deal with that funk over here?" It was in that moment that I turned into one of them: The ones that shake their heads and snicker as Slim passes them in the hallway; the ones that have him sent home for smelling up the place; the ones who demand he be ostracized to another section of the department. I had turned against Slim and felt horrible about it.

My co-worker, eyes squinting, right brow raised so high it nearly hit the ceiling, looked out into the hallway and in a sinister Wicked Witch of the West resonance said, "I'll take of this," and darted out of my cubicle.

Will Slim be loading up his empty soda pop collection and year old Newark Star Ledgers into his garbage bag (yes, he carries his belongings in a garbage bag everyday) and setting up shop in my neck of the woods? If so, what will I do? Glade candles from Target? No, there's a no candle rule in the employee handbook. Shoot. Hang up one of those automatic timer air freshener thingies that go off every 15, 24 and 36 minutes? Hmmm...Maybe not. That may be TOO obvious. What I won't do is panic. Maybe Slim won't even make it over to my section. For now, all I can do is wait, and continue to do what everyone else has been doing for years: Hold my breath, grin and bear it.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guess Who's Back?

I’m here to make amends. I know. I know. It’s been ten long months. And I know what else you’re thinking. Perhaps I was M.I.A. because I finally got an acting J.O.B. Ha! Think again. Oh how I wish my being busy learning lines on some lush, tropical set in the forests of the Amazon, sans Wi-Fi connection, was the reason for neglecting this blog. But it’s not. I just straight up stopped blogging. Period. But here I am, back, and with lots of explaining to do.

Since my abbreviated hiatus, I became a published writer (big ups to Upscale Magazine); got a promotion at my job (oh the joy of health benefits); went back to school full-time (Empire State College let’s expedite my rationale so I can officially mark that graduation date on my calendar); moved into a new apartment (only 5-minutes away from my old crib, but change is change, right?); witnessed one of my homeboys tie the knot (still mad your entire wedding was in Spanish…the things we do for friends); had my precious Honda Accord broken into by Jorge C. Rodriguez (no relation to my homeboy - the cops caught the bastard in my backseat and gave me his name when I filed a police report. The damage was minimal …let’s just say he took a note out of Jazmine Sullivan’s songbook); and I made it through the holiday season without swiping my credit card one time (Suzie Orman would be proud).

All in all, it has been a pretty busy ten months. No excuse, I know, for leaving you high and dry. Hell, I’m a writer. I could have at least thrown together a Dear John letter of some sort. But all of that is about to change. Like any other year, I’m sure 2009 will be chock full of misadventures, welcomed surprises and random acts only you would truly appreciate. So consider this post my white flag. Can we call a truce and start all over again?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Product of a Broken Home - Sort of

Early on in the season, I caught an episode of Oprah on TV - okay, I didn't catch the episode per se, I actually watch religiously. This particular show was about adult children from divorced homes. I'm talking 40 something year old men and women crying on stage about how their parents getting a divorce - decades ago - continues to plague their life.

My first thought? How pitiful. I wanted to throw my "Oprah Show Snack" at the television and yell, "grow up and get a life!" I simply couldn't believe these grown ass men and women were sobbing about how daddy left mommy for his secretary 25 years ago and how the nightmare of it all still wakes them up at night. Perhaps I'm numb to it all having grown up in a single parent household. There was no daddy to leave mommy, and if mommy left, I was up Shits Creek.

Flash forward to November when my mom announced she was separating from my step-father. I was devastated! I immediately began to worry about the both of them. Who would help mom bring in the groceries or fix a leaky pipe under the sink? Where would my step father get a home cooked meal from and how would he wash his clothes? Better yet, how could I begin to see them as two separate people and not as one?

Eventually, things fell into place. Mom makes me pick her up from the grocery store and help her bring in those heavy bags; which of course I don't mind. When there is a leak under the sink, she calls the plumber. Not too long ago, I had to use my step-father's car when my battery died, and I found an empty carton of popcorn chicken from Popeyes in the trash. Was that his home cooked meal? Hey, at least he was eating something, right? I even heard he was in the laundry room of his building, washing his own clothes. Who knew? The last time I spoke to him, he told me he was playing around on the computer - something I almost never saw him do pre-seperation.

I guess it goes to show that under insinuating circumstances, strong people can step up to do what they need to do, and it feels good to know that I have strong people in my life. Although if it were up to me they'd still be together, maybe the separation needed to happen for them to rediscover who they really are outside the confinements that marriage can impose.

Boy, I sure can relate to those big 'ol cry babies on Oprah now. But will this divorce make me resentful or develop feelings of abandonment 20 years from now? I doubt it. However, I do understand that feeling of wanting things to stay the same, but usually that's to benefit me, and not the people involved.

My parents get a divorce and I grow up and learn something about myself in the process. I guess every cloud does have its hard to find, heavily veiled, silver lining afterall.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Keeping it Real

The Real Thing is confident, feminine and strong. The Real Thing is comical, vulnerable and unpredictable. The Real Thing is talented. The Real Thing is: Jill Scott.

Scott brought her “The Real Thing” tour to the Prudential Hall Theatre at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ on March 5 and 6.

R&B crooner and Newark native, Raheem DaVaughn, opened for Scott. He got the ladies to their feet with songs about how they should be put first and loved all night long. His frequent falsettos sent shivers up their spines as he took to the aisles of the theatre while singing his Grammy nominated hit, “Woman.” After a five-song set, it was time to make way for the main attraction…and an attraction she was.

Supported by an eight-piece band and three back up singers, Scott took to the stage in a low-cut LBD, silver pumps, a burnt orange pinned up hairdo, and looking sexier than ever. She opened the show singing “The Real Thing,” the title track to her tour and her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3.

As if that spectacular opening wasn’t introduction enough, Scott took the time to welcome and thank everyone for coming out to see her and reintroduced herself to the Jill Scott concert virgins - there weren’t many. That’s when the Real show began.

After singing “Cross My Mind,” the hit song from her second studio album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, Scott confessed to the audience, “it’s a scientific fact that good dick can cause problems,” referring to the confessional lyrics in “Mind” which tells the story of her reminiscing about a former lover who rocked her world in the bedroom and the temptation to call him. Of course, by the end of the song she remembers she was never good for him and he was never good for her. “He still lived in his mother’s basement and had bad credit,” she amusingly added.

It’s comedic undertones like that, which give Scott’s show a layered, authentic feel. She doesn’t take herself or every song so serious, but doesn’t hide from the songs or issues that strike an emotional chord. “I never thought I’d be standing in front of yall - a divorced woman,” she admitted after nearly breaking down on stage from singing the track, “Whenever You’re Around.” The song is about a woman who has taken up conversation with another man because she feels lonely whenever her lover is around. A clue as to what ended her marriage perhaps?

But don’t cry for Jilly from Philly. “The divorce is old for me. New to yall, but old for me,” said the three-time Grammy winner. “I’m alright. I picked up another Grammy this year, I sold a few records and I’ve got a show on HBO coming out. And its not a reality show either. Success is the best revenge,” she playfully gloated.

As this show of reality steadily continued on, Scott sung fan favorites from her 2000 debut, Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, and a few of her favorite tracks from both her current album and 2001’s live double-disc set, Experience: Jill Scott 826+. But she hit a nerve with the ladies when she took on her current single, “My Love.”

The song was inspired by a cheating relationship. “I’ve been the woman and I’ve been the other woman, “ admitted Scott to gasps from the audience. “Yep, I know what yall thinking, ‘oh no she didn’t.’ Well, yes I did. Life’s not a straight path - it bends. And you’ve got to take the ups with the downs,” she preached. While performing the ode to her love, she navigated away from the scripted lyrics to a poetic freestyle of how she really felt: “You came to me all messed up/And I gave you all of my love and fixed you up/And then you left me for her/It was almost like you planned it,” a hurt Scott frustratingly spoke. The women went wild.

By the end of the show, Scott brought the audience to its feet with her Grammy nominated smash hits, “Hate on Me” and “Whatever.” Just when the packed house thought they had seen it all; Scott had a trick up her sleeve. She took everyone to the opera by putting a Luciano Pavorotti-esque twist to her hit "He Loves Me (Lyzel In E Flat)” and then sighed as if the vocal brilliance just displayed were a walk in the park. For her, it probably was.

After introducing her band and back up singers to the audience, the lights came up and everyone started to file out. Only then did Scott run back on stage to the microphone asking to share a piece she jotted down on a napkin in her hotel room the night before. Of course, the audience stopped in their tracks and gladly obliged.

For the first time that evening Scott seemed shy - nervous even - to share her new work. By the second verse, the band joined in and the audience was singing the chorus as if it had been a hit on the radio for years. As the audience sang the chorus, Scott, her band mates and back up singers all did a two-step off stage; Scott being last, took a final bow and blew a kiss goodnight to everyone.

In a time when music lovers are inundated with pretty young things gyrating across the stage - lip-syncing - while performing complex choreographed numbers, you want something different. Something refreshing. Something simple. A band, some back up singers, a microphone and a voice. You want, The Real Thing.

Check out Jill Scott’s tour dates at: