Lost Angeles: Gross!


Hello my dears!

I wrote some of this a looooong time ago so forgive the delay.


This last year has had me writhing a little bit. I'm not squeamish but for some reason, the universe has seen to it that I'm confronted with the grungier elements. Perhaps it's payback for deciding that I'm on a permanent vacation.

1. Wine

We're never told what kind of event we're catering until we get there. It can be anything from the diabetic foot product convention last summer to a private goodbye dinner for the now ex-police chief to the Los Angeles tattoo convention. It's kind of fun not knowing what you're walking into except when . . .

I showed up one day to a wine tasting event. "What fun!" I thought . . . not that I would be allowed to taste any of the wine, of course, but the whole culture of wine is fascinating. It's amazing to see what you can do with a bunch of grapes, a barrel, and some time. It's even more amazing to see how seriously people take it. So I was thrilled to see all of the wine sellers at their tables with pretty displays of bottles. Buckets were filled with glistening ice for the whites. The reds were lined up in neat rows with their labels arranged just so. Shiny metallic wine pours were inserted into the bottles to minimize spillage. People everywhere were speaking French. In other words, chic and exciting . . . until the tasting started.

Suddenly the room was flooded with every type of person you can imagine. It was a veritable stampede to get to the tasting tables. The drinking glasses that were provided at the entrance were snatched up and filled with a taste of wine and then emptied into various silver buckets around the room . . . and this, my friends, is when the event became gross. Emptying of the wine glasses happened in two ways. Either a) the glasses were simply poured into the empty buckets and then rinsed with water to clean them for the next tasting or b) the person tasted the wine and then spit the wine into the bucket.

One man in particular had really perfected his spitting technique. I looked on in a mixture awe and revulsion as a very long jet of wine shot out of his mouth and arced into a silver bucket . . . not as beautiful as a stone nymph in a fountain, trust me. The entire room was covered in wine by the end of the night. The once-white linens covering the tables were doubtlessly thrown out (or burned) afterward . . . and of course guess who was given the task of emptying the spittoons?

2. The Grammy's

The theme of the Grammy after-party this year was western. There were bales of hay arranged for seating, there were ribs, there were large rampant carousel horses beside my buffet over which hung a sign that said . . . "Waste Management."


Waste Management was the company that sponsored the after-party. If you don't believe me:


But being under a sign that said “Waste Management”, however, wasn't as bad as watching a woman in four-inch stilettos remove her shoes and smear what appeared to be chapstick all over  her little toes which, doubtlessly, were getting chaffed from being shoved into those ankle breakers. Another woman in a pink sequined sheath dress sported a large pink band-aid covered in rhinestones across her shin. At least woman number two seemed to have a sense of humor about it.

3. Saki

I bartended a private 50th birthday party. The theme was fantastic--saki! The host's best friend bought five or six different types and everyone was given a saki cup painted with the birthday boy's (man's?) initials. The saki cups were intended to be the evening's party favors. After everyone had been served and was lounging about eating hors d'oeuvers, the host and a woman friend of his wandered over to the bar.

    Host: Where's your saki cup?
    Woman Friend: I don't have one yet.
    Host: Really?! You must have one! They're the party favors. I’ll        take offense!
    Woman: Well, then I'll have to get one.
    Host: Maybe you already do. Maybe you have a few stashed in your     pockets.

Then he proceeded to feel up the woman right in front of the bar . . . checking her "pockets" for hidden "saki cups" . . . wife in the room . . . son in the room . . . fifty friends in the room. I looked the other way. Finally, he noticed me “not noticing” what he was doing . . . correction, what they were doing.

    Host (to Berda): Oh . . . uh, no! We've known each other since we     were eight!
    Berda: Okaaaaaay.

Offering them more saki didn’t seem like the right thing to do . . . so I adjusted the saki display and they scurried back to the others.

Now . . . I know these things happen BUT I do think it should have been more discreet . . . say, in the bathroom . . . or behind one of the giant bushes in the back yard . . . or perhaps the pool . . .

5. Bad Auditions

Playskool invited me to audition for a "Mom" role. I was paired with a beautiful, dark-haired girl with big brown eyes to play my daughter. Perfect. She was intelligent, playful, and sweet . . . but completely uninterested in speaking to me or reviewing the script. Her mother was horrified and offered apology after apology. I tried to shrug it off but it stunk. We cajoled. We teased. We pleaded. We played peek-a-boo but nothing. Her mother looked at me and said honestly, “I’m never going through this again. This is it.” I nodded. Finally, just before we were about to walk in, the girl deigned to acknowledge me. Whew!

The door opened. We stood at attention, our headshots in hand, giving each other encouraging little smiles. The casting director came flailing out of the room like Disney’s Tasmanian Devil.  He looked like he'd been in a barroom brawl the night before and hadn't bothered to go home to either shower or report the incident to the proper authorities. There was a bloody gash across his upper lip, his hair was on end, and there was a wild I-want-to-punch-you-in-the-face look in his eye. He yelled, "NEXT!" The girl and I stepped up. He grabbed her hand, pulled her into the room, and screeched to the casting assistant, "Get another kid for her (meaning me)!" I watched as all of my hard work for the last twenty minutes got swept into the room without me.

The casting assistant quickly replaced the girl with twin blond boys. "Blond?" I thought. “Really?” But there weren’t any kids of questionable ethnicity left in the waiting room so I guess she had no choice. The upside was that the boys were very social and introduced themselves to me right away. The downside was that despite our chemistry with each other and our good script preparation, the toy we were given malfunctioned. The guy behind the camera kept yelling at me, "Help them, MOM! Help them!" It's impossible to help them when Playskool makes a defective product.

And then there was the music video audition . . .

Audition Notice received the day before: “You are invited to audition for Blah Blah Blah Productions at such and such time in such and such place. Information to be received during audition.”

It’s always a really bad sign when they don’t give you sides or even a description of the character/situation before you walk in. It means they’re not prepared and don’t know what they’re looking for. I know this and yet . . .

I arrived at the audition. I went in. They described the plot of the video. It seemed pretty self-explanatory. Then I heard the second worst words an actor can ever hear if she hasn’t been allowed to prepare for at least ten minutes (the first worst words being “get naked”) . . .

“Be angry.”

There was a little more to it that that but not much. So, if you’re reading this and you hold auditions or know someone who does . . . PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give us something, anything to work on in advance! It can be an idea, a line or two, a character, whatever. Our auditions will be better meaning your day will be better too. You won’t have to suffer with bad audition after bad audition. Makes sense, right?

6. Not gross at all but worth mentioning

My friend and fellow artist, Tory Scroggins, wrote a fascinating short play called The Beautiful Ones. We sold out for two weekends and got a really fantastic review. It was especially fantastic because it was Tory’s debut as a playwright! We had a ball doing it so Tory is busy writing another. Yippee!

Also the short film called Everything's Jake that I produced with my acting class at the Archibald Studio was accepted into the 2010 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. It was such fun to see the other work that was screened with our short. There’s some great talent out there!

And finally, I wrote a short and will be producing it for the remainder of this year. My friend and fellow artist Robert Beaucage will be directing it. We’re in the process of assembling our team and location scouting at the moment. Fun, fun, fun!

Stay tuned for the next  installment entitled “More Roommate Hell.”

Please write and tell me what you’ve been up to!



Blurry picture of Tania and me at the Los Angeles Beer Festival. We weren't impressed with the beer but the Border Grill taco truck was stunning!

Production still from The Beautiful Ones.

Craig Archibald on the red carpet for 2010 Los Angeles Short Film Festival

Valentine's celebration with Don, Kenny, and Gloria.

Yes, it's a German chocolate cupcake.