Patrick will be starring in the Last Cyclist at the West End Theater this May - June. Click here for info

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shouldn't I at least get my $200 from passing GO!?

I Know it's a stretch, but I'm pretty sure the MTA here in NYC has a monopoly over public transportation.  They cover the buses and the subways.  Sure there are taxis or good ole fashioned walkin', but who does that.  Most NYer's main form of transportation is on the rail.  And for the love of god the MTA sucks!

It is a monopoly, right? almost?

So Monday night I'm on my way home from seeing the ever talented Sarah Jacobs and Regina Gibson performing at the Kraine Theater.  It's cold, I'm a little tired, but happy to have seen some amazing theater.  So I have a little high.  That being said, I decide to brave the 8th street subway stop.  I know full well that SINGLE turnstile is temper-mental, but I go for it anyway.  Of course I miss the R train that's headed uptown, but I'm ok.  I'll catch an N.  I swipe right through and I'm on the platform.

Now, at this stop, dear readers, the Q, which I could take, is express.  So it skips this stop.  No worries.  The N is a local and will stop here.  I can take this train as well.  The R...useless to me, but stops here too.  So I just missed an R.  No worries.

Also bear in mind its 10:14...not late.  No construction going on till late that night.  And no alerts about this stop.  It's a normal Monday night.

I wait a few minutes, here comes an N...on the express track?!!  Oh eff me.  What is going on.  No announcements, nothing.  Just zooms by on the express.

More minutes tick by

I see a light at the end of the tunnel..literally, cause the headlights are on.  Here comes.....a Q.  what?  On the local track?  Well...ok, it'll stop.  clearly.  Cause it's on the local.  No it doesn't stop it just zooms right by blaring it's horn.  WHAT THE HELL!?!??!  Again, no announcement.  So now i've missed 2 trains with no explanation at all.

Another R comes, remember..useless..

And Another R.  I take it to the next stop where both the express and local trains stop.  Hopefully one will come by now.  More waiting.  Finally an N, on the right track comes.

So I'm pretty annoyed.  We don't have road rage here we have MTA rage here.  They know that the general public thinks they're a bunch of morons, but nothing get fixed.  Stations close, rates go up, entire train lines are taken away.  Nothing gets better.  Every year we pay more and more to travel in this city and the quality of service goes down.  Why does no one fix this?

Well..i guess we kinda can at least share our thoughts.   That night i found this amazing site:

Lodge a complaint with the MTA.

And did just that.  I lodged a complaint.  I told them exactly what happened.  And here is the response b.s....

Response (Pamela Elsey) - 12/22/2010 11:41 AM
We sincerely regret any inconvenience you experienced while using our subway system.

Please be aware that we generally schedule construction and track repair projects during off-hours and weekends so that they will not pose a problem for the majority of our passengers.  While we understand that some people are inconvenienced, rehabilitation work is necessary to ensure the safety of all our customers and to improve service in our system for all of our passengers. In addition , despite our best efforts to maintain scheduled service, delays in service can sometimes occur for a variety of reasons, including track rehabilitation work, mechanical malfunctions, equipment failure, and police or emergency service activity, among other causes.

Therefore, in response to your concerns, please be assured that we will take corrective measures to ensure that adequate and timely service on the N, Q and R lines, along with all our lines, is provided and that customers are properly informed in the event of a service delay.

In addition, please note that planned service advisories are available on or website at -

As you know, we do have a Subway Service Advisory E-mail Notification Program that gives information about planned service disruptions. In addition, up-to-date Service Alerts are posted on an emergency/as-needed basis.  You may sign up for the Subway Service Advisory E-mail Notification Program by visiting:

Otherwise, please note that bus and subway service information along with travel itineraries within New York City may also be obtained by calling us at (718) 330-1234, from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., 7 days a week, where customer service representatives are available.  Please have a pen and paper ready, provide each starting point, destination and the approximate time you will be traveling.

We take the concerns of our customers very seriously and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Pamela Elsey
N Line, R Line General Manager

I'm not an idiot.  This doesn't address my concern.  There were no alerts.  There was no construction.  I want to call her and yell at her.  But that will get me no where.  All I can do is continue to complain and send in suggestions.  And I urge you all to do exactly the same thing!!

Merry freakin Christmas MTA

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Joined a Union, ready to strike.

So this past October I was cast in an honest-to-goodness-olde-timey-radio show.  There are guns and explosions, nerdy scientists, Nazi evildoers, and plenty of sound effects to blow your ears off your head.  It was a lot of fun to do and made me want to do more voice over work.  My charactery voice should get me some work, right?

Well this project went AFTRA do to the producers deciding it should be.  (Some cast members are AFTRA and I guess it was easier..blah blah blah, technical paperwork stuff)  Needless to say, I went right along with it and am now a proud card carrying member of the union.

So AFTRA is the union you can just buy into. You can wake up one morning and say...I want to blow $1600 in one shot.  How can I do that?  I know, I'll join AFTRA.  Bam.

I had a choice.  Don't join, but after the next AFTRA project I do, I am a must join.  Or just join now.  So I joined.  And I'm instantly eligible to join AEA and SAG (after I wait my year) because this radio show counts as my 1 project I have to do in order to join a sister union.  Good deal I think.

So I'm part of a union.  It's something.  Onward and upward right?

I'm a little put off though.  There is a very impersonal touch with AFTRA.  with Equity, they've been in contact.  send me little notes here and there.  They are very personable when it comes to members, prospective members, and EMC (of which I am one).  AFTRA was literally all online.  I suppose that comes with a union that takes anyone.  You don't have to earn anything to join.  You just throw down some money.

Happy New year, bring on 2011 and debt!

Necessary evil, right?

I do have a nifty card to show people when they ask, so that's something right?

Monday, December 6, 2010

SAG, Waivers, Vouchers and Union joys..

I in no way claim to be an expert on any of this.  Afterall, survival job/creative income/web design..all that stuff.

There, that was my disclaimer.  So this post is inspired by numerous conversations with friends, colleagues, anyone and everyone about joining a union.   If something is wrong, please let me know and I'll adjust the info.

There are so many questions surrounding this union.  And all unions.  I'm hoping to use this as a way to clarify.

How do I join sag?

There are a few ways to join the union.  Its not like AFTRA where you can just buy in. Nor is it like other workers unions where you have to be nominated by a member.  No no no. SAG makes you earn your member ship.  The first way, and way most people join is buy earning vouchers.
What's a voucher? we go.

There are Vouchers and Waivers.  
This is a VOUCHER:

For every SAG production, there must be a certain number of union background members before they can use non-union.  Lets say the number is 20 for "imaginary Epic Film Project."  Now, if only 19 of those union members show up, the production crew HAVE to make a non union person union for the day.  How is this accomplished?  They give you a voucher.  This DOES NOT MEAN YOU'RE SAG.  It means for that day you were given SAG status.  Just for that day.  Yes it includes SAG wages as well.

You may see on notices that are seeing SAG and NON SAG that it will say..SAG RATE/WAGES for non-union.  This does not mean you'll be getting paid the SAG rate as a NON SAG member.  This means you'll be getting paid SAG's NON UNION rate.  Which is about $70 something a day.  79?  Something like that.  This came up on the last project I worked.  If you're hired as NON UNION, they're not going to throw money at you.  So be aware of that.

Now, this has to happen 3 times in order to make you eligible.  THREE!!  Again, you need three WAIVERS, and they're cumulative.  It could take a few months, weeks, or years.  It's completely random.  The ones I have I was called in specifically because of a certain look I have.  So I knew going in I was getting a voucher.  Makes it easy.  But that's not how it always works, obviously.

Now whats that WAIVER thing I mentioned before?: 

This is for all you SAG members who are looking to work on student films or indies.  Almost all student films allow SAG members to work for them penalty free.  Not all.  But most.  And some independent films.  Since they're so low budget they can't afford the union's day rate, so you get a waiver that does what it says...waives all the perks of being SAG.  But you're not going against your union.  It's just like an Equity Showcase code for stage actors.

So thats the first way.  And the main way most people join the Union.  It's tedious and takes a long time and a lot of patience, but SAG here you come.

Hey brother can you spare a TAFT HARTLEY?

You've probably heard this term bandied around a bit, it comes from the 1940's when labor unions were up in arms trying to right the many wrongs that were being done to the workers.  No one was safe, not even we actors.  What does it mean for an actor?  It means that if you, as a NON UNION actor are cast as a performer in a main role, supporting, anything with a line, and are paid for that work, you are considered  SAG ELIGIBLE.  Look at that.  Easy peasy.  Sure it doesn't happen that often, but it happens.  There are numerous anecdotes about how this act has been played out.  I know I read an article once where the lead actress came into a room and said good morning to a NON UNION BG actor.  Of course being NON, didn't have any lines.  Well after doing multiple takes all day, the Actress finally said, he needs to say good morning back.  A person would say good morning, they wouldn't ignore you.  At this point it was too late to switch in a union BG actor since they'd been filming all day.  Mr Lucky duck NON UNION?  Tafted.  Bam. Now after 30 day's he would have to either join, or stop working on UNION films.  This way forces your hand a little.  The VOUCHER method gives you the option to get as many as you like and stay NON as long as you like.  Taft Hartley rarely happens, but is another way to become a member of SAG.  There is a fine that the production has to pay for this to happen, which isn't too hefty, but still something to be avoided,  hence why it rarely happens.

I wanna Join too, here's some money!!!

The third way, which is probably the second most common, is the buy in method.  Some Unions, like AFTRA will happily take your money and BAM...union.  Not SAG, but AFTRA.  What does this mean for you, you potential SAG or even EQUITY member?  Well after a year, as long as you're a member in good standing and have filled that particular UNION's criteria, you can just buy in to the other UNIONS.  You're now eligible.  The criteria, i believe is 3 background credits, or one principle credit. My AFTRA credit is principle, so you know where I'll be in a year.  It's pretty simple.  But also takes time.  It's because they all consider themselves sister unions.  Sometime long ago, they were all sitting around drinking, crochetting on the train, something, and decided, they should join forces to help eachother out.  Join 1, in a year you can join em all.  it's a win win for the unions and for you.

I'm going to add to this as more info comes in and is made clearer.  I'm sure I missed some aspects, or potentially got something wrong.  But these are the basic ways people become union.

good luck!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Being nice goes a long way people...

The holidays always throw things into some sort of disarray.  Hence updating now.  I know a lot has gone on, but as I sit here now trying to type it all out I keep thinking, "man! I'm doing nothing."

But here is a quick update first....

Well first off, the scripts for Macbeth are ready to pick up. I'm excited, can you tell I'm excited?  For many reasons, but one of the biggest is that I feel this is a sign that my career is moving towards bigger and better things.  Especially in the area of professionalism.  The past 3 projects I've worked on, Fringe, The Radio show, and well..Macbeth to be..have all been on a level of professionalism that starting out in NY was in short supply.  It's nice to be in actual studios and not meeting at a loud bar for a production meeting.  I love bars, don't get me wrong.  But time and place, you know?  So the wonderful people at American Globe contacted me last night saying the scripts are in.  I cannot wait to read their cuts and begin memorizing and working.  It's also an ideal situation for prep work.  We don't start rehearsals in earnest until February.  So who'll be off-book?  This guy.  It's a good way to enter the holiday season, with something on the horizon.

Which leads me to say: The holidays can be rough for actors, dancers, artists!!!!

For those of you I've met that are just starting out and looking for advice, and even for people who've been toiling away for years, remember that this time of year is SLOW.  So don't panic.  As the song says, "It's the holiday season, well whoop-de-doo."  Just take it easy.  Use this time to research agents, CD's, take a class. See shows!  (The Elf is on Broadway right now and I just can't help myself.)  Especially all you stage actors...student films are scrambling to finish before the end of the semester.  Or they're casting for Jan. projects.  There is work, even in slow times, but you have to look.

And now the real meat of this post.......  

I've also been meaning to post about being nice.  I love NY.  It's fast paced.  You can feel the buzz of the city.  People think we're mean.  Let me just say that New Yorkers are some of the nicest people in the world.  And I mean it.  It's not they we're mean, we're just always in a hurry.  Or thinking about the next few days worth of things to accomplish.  That being said, you don't always see the niceness. It's there, just hidden under coats and scarves....

So the same day I had my fight callback for American Globe, I was to audition for a student film at SVA.  The gentleman calling me in was actually a contact from twitter.  Hello social networking you crazy fad you.  It was nice to meet an actually tweep?  Is that the right term?  Anyway, to say I blew it is an understatement.  I felt horrible for doing so poorly in front of someone who was kind enough to invite me in.  I don't know if it was the adrenaline of the callback still flowing through my post sword holding muscles or the fact that I nailed it and was in a cloud of..well...Nailed it! Euphoria.  But, I blew it.  Could not concentrate.  You've all been there.  Lines just fell out of my mouth.  And a sci-fi horror film was not something I could sink my teeth into after feeling so giddy.

Well, I received a Thank You email!  You get them once in a while.  Most people don't bother to say thanks but no thanks.  But this guy took the time to say we're sorry we didn't cast you but thanks for coming in.  That little extra makes all the difference.  So thank you!  And on top of that, he graciously offered me an under 5.  So it was not all lost.  But still.  Even after walking in and basically letting the words fall out of my mouth onto the floor in a steaming pile of talentlessness, they thanked me and asked me to still be a part of the film, just as a different character.  I'll take it.

So see, people are nice.  And I really wish more people would contact us saying thank you, but no thank you.  It helps too because sometimes you just never know.  You'll be waiting for weeks thinking...I still have a shot...months even.  The thank you but no thank you helps you let go and move on.

Ah, niceness.  Be nice people!!

And now I think I should probable shut down as apparently there is a massive rain/wind storm outside.  Time to break out the yellow legal pad and write.