Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Fine, I’ll look on the damn bright side.

Although I don’t know how much of this list is optimism and how much is schadenfreude, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

Especially from me.

Here ya go:

1) At least I don’t live in the Western San Fernando Valley – if you think I’m whining about the heat now

2) At least I’m not a “pro-family” US Senator with a horrible voting record on gay rights who got popped (pun intended) for hitting on a male cop in an airport restroom (insert derisive snicker). Now there’s a guy with problems.

3) The cat has only thrown up one hairball this week. This is a vast improvement over last week, when she threw up about ten thousand hairballs and kindly left most of them right where I’d step in them during night-time trips to the loo.

4) The maintenance guy has switched from Eddie Money to the Eagles. I don’t really care for the Eagles much, but it’s a change and I have to take what I can get, right?

4) I’m working Friday, but it’s on a stage that’s air-conditioned to the point of qualifying as a meat locker with a crew of folks who, if I start acting bitchy, will just throw something at me and not take it personally. Yay!

5) The MRI for the right knee came back, and besides a bit of fluid, everything is normal. No torn anything, no weird tumors.

And, just for the record, I don’t hate France – I love France. Honestly, I can take or leave Paris, but the south of France is where I really fell in love with the country and the people (who were wonderful everywhere I went, and very patient with my atrocious French), even though every time I go there I gain about three metric tons from eating all the delicious food and drinking gallons of the local vin ordinaire.

Whenever I complain about the excess pounds, whoever I’m talking to gives that dismissive hand wave that only the French can do really well and says “Oh, there is always time to diet later. Here, have another croissant”.

Why, merci. Don’t mind if I do.

Stupid France and their stupid wonderful food and stupid delicious wine and cheese (which is so totally worth eating) and nice people and beautiful light and strong coffee.

Mmmm.. France. I need to go there right now.
But I can’t go to France any time soon because today I lashed out with Mr. Debit Card and bought a Nikon D40.

I blame Nezza for this.

Originally, I had only thought of buying the D80, which is WAY outside my price range, so I’d just looked at them, sighed wistfully and hoped that the DSLR fairies would someday leave one under my pillow if I were very, very good indeed, and moved on. Then, when Nezza mentioned a D40, I looked at it and thought it wasn’t so bad, so when I went by Samy’s Camera today to buy film for my ancient SLR, I saw the sale price on the D40 and before I knew it, I was walking out the door with one.

I hope you’re happy, Nezza.

Now I have a camera but I can’t make an impulse ticket purchase to Paris, where I’d jump on the train and go somewhere with fatty food and stunning beaches and cheap wine and fabulously attractive locals whom I’d probably ignore completely due to my being too busy stuffing my face.

Who am I kidding… Once I factor in the lost work, that would cost about a bazillion times more than a camera.

Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t use normal batteries, so I couldn’t just take it out of the box and start shooting (of course, there was a really awesome couch on the way home), but once it gets charged I’m going to try it out.

And, of course, if I don’t like it I’m going to muster all of my imaginary PMS anger and return it.

Filed under: camera, couches, life in LA, Nikon, Non-Work, Off-Topic, overspending, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This time, Kismet works for me.

Usually, when I’m not working it’s a bad thing and I practically glue the phone to the side of my head making calls to scrounge up something – anything.

Sometimes, though, not working isn’t really all that bad.

It’s gotten hot here in Los Angeles – not only is it hot, but the monsoonal rains over the desert – while they’ve given us some beautiful fluffy clouds and a couple of truly spectacular sunsets – have made the humidity shoot up to the point that you can damn near step outside and cut the air with a knife. It’s also not cooling off at night like it usually does, meaning that opening the windows to let in the ‘cool’ night air is completely fucking pointless.

For some reason, when it’s miserably hot I get called to work in the hottest part of the city, doing something that makes me even hotter, such as spending 12 hours up in the perms on an un-air conditioned stage or pulling heavy cable through something that makes me sneeze or break out in an itchy rash. I find myself counting the days until it cools off.

Although I really want to say that the heat’s almost over, I seem to remember it being hot until Thanksgiving last year, and I can’t go that long without working, so at some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with the heat, but even that’s going to have to wait.

The other thing that’s happening this week is that I’ve got a horrible case of the P.M.S.

Not only do I have a Mr. Burns caliber glower going (I frightened a small child today and I didn’t even try), but during the course of the day I’ve lost my temper and shaken my fist while cursing the very existence of the following people, places and things:

WordPress

The Internet

The French

Flip Flops

Gravity

Culver City

Eddie Money

Chevrolet

MySpace

Actually, that last one’s a stretch. Whenever I log on, I shake my fist and curse the very existence of MySpace. You’d think for the money they got when they sold that boat anchor, they’d have hired someone to make the fucking thing work.

Given my current mood, it’s probably better that I’m not at work – I’d just piss my co-workers off.

Tomorrow, since I’m not working, I’m going to either go to the beach (and not go to the beach and ride the bike because I feel like I need some exercise. I mean go to the beach and sit on a towel with a book and not do anything) or use up a shitload of my movie passes and see a bunch of movies.

Either way, it’ll keep me out of the heat.

UPDATE: Laurie over at Crazy Aunt Purl posted a photo of her truly horrifying drivers license photo. The photo’s funny as hell (in a horrifying kind of way), but the comments are even funnier. Although I now have a stitch in my side from laughing, I feel much better.

Filed under: cranky, Non-Work, , , , , , ,

A weekend update’s better than nothing, right?

I’m normally an okay lift driver, but every now and then something happens and I fuck up. Wednesday, I got called in to be the condor person, and because they were running behind schedule, I went out to the location of the exterior scene (on the New York Street facades) to change the barn doors on the lights. Barn doors are metal flaps that attach to the front of the light to help control the beam (if the gaffer only wants the light to shine in a small area, then the operator will fold the barn doors partially over the lens so as to narrow the area that the light’s hitting).

There are two kinds of barn doors on lights – two way and four way. Two-way doors have, you guessed it, two doors and four-way doors have, of course, four metal doors.

Gaffers tend to like one or the other, and as a rule they’re very loyal to whatever type of door they like. This particular gaffer can’t stand two way doors and since the lamps had been hung with them, we had to go out and replace them with four way doors on about 10 heads that were hung somewhere in the facades.

The problem with that is that inside the facades, there’s not a direct route to anywhere, really. The interior stairways sort of wind around, and more than once, I’ve humped something heavy up what I thought was the correct stairwell only to find myself 10 feet from where I needed to be, but with no way to get there except to go all the way back down and then back up the correct stairway.

So, after a time of searching through the facades and not finding the lights, we finally had to get the gaffer on the radio (right in the middle of a lighting set-up when he was super-busy, of course) and have him tell us where the lamps were – turns out, they were hung on the outside of the facades in what was dressed to be a back alley, and to get to most of the lamps, we had to use a scissor lift.

Since we’d blown so much time wandering around looking for the lamps, we got in a hurry after being told we only had about an hour to remove the offensive barn doors and replace them – that’s not as much time as it seems like, since scissor lifts can be difficult and time consuming to manoeuvre when in tight spaces. I ended up getting the lift stuck on the uneven pavement, and in my attempts to get it unstuck, ran a tire through the ‘hero’ set piece.

Whoops.

Luckily, the standby painter (that’s the person who is there to fix things like this) got it repaired before the important people saw anything.

Then, Friday, I was back on an insert unit.

Insert units are fun because none of the important people show up – it’s just grabbing the stuff that the actors and the ‘A’ team can’t be bothered with (like a close-up of a watch or a photo or a hand picking something up), so we spent all day just jumping around grabbing bits. We had a fun day, even if lunch was two hours late – which meant the food was cold and mushy (hey, that’s what happens when it sits in a chafing dish for two hours).

Originally, we were supposed to do two episodes’ worth of inserts, but because we ran behind, we only did one – which is fine. We did an 11 hour day and I actually managed to get home in time to get some sleep before having to get up at 7 am in order to be at the MRI place by 8 (and be semi-coherent, of course).

The big surprise Friday was finding out that I had been designated the best boy. Normally, that means a hell of a headache for not a lot of money (think herding cats for 14 hours and then, just when you’re tired and ready to go home, having a mountain of paperwork dumped on you), but since we were just the insert unit the lot best boy* did the time cards and dealt with the equipment, and the crew we had were all really experienced and diligent, so really all I had to do was make the statement at lunch that we needed to make sure everything was “tits”** for first unit on Monday, and it just sort of happened by itself.

Sweeeeet, even though I can’t really take credit for it.

I’ll get results of this morning’s MRI later in the week.

*On studio lots, a show will have two best boys – one for the show, and one for the lot. The lot best boy deals with the lamp dock and all red tape involving set lighting and the studio, and the show best boy deals with the show and his (or her) crew and all location shooting.

** “Tits” is an unfortunate but heavily used (in the film industry, at least) term meaning really, really awesome.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

A nice, relaxing “weekend”

After working all weekend (on a music video – which means we got run half to death due to lack of planning on production’s part), Monday was doctor day for both me and the car.

The car had to go in because, of course, as soon as it got really hot, the air conditioner stopped working. Normally, I don’t use the a/c that much (it’s really bad for fuel economy in the land of the $3.00 gallon of gas), but lately it’s been sufficiently oven-like around here that I can’t stand to sit in a traffic jam (daily occurrence here in LA) when I feel like I’m going to die from the heat.

The mechanic wasn’t sure if I need a new compressor or not, so he put some freon in and told me to see how the a/c works for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, the heat will be over in the next couple of weeks and I can proceed to ignore the a/c until next summer.

After I dropped the car off, I went to the doctor about the knee which has been hurting like hell – but it’s the other knee this time. When the he sent me to the x-ray tech, he sighed and said “Well, let’s see what weird thing’s in this knee. I wish you could have something normal go wrong with you”.

Hey, knee problems are totally normal in my line of work.

The good news is that there isn’t anything strange on the x-ray, but the bad news is that there’s no immediate explanation for the pain (other than years of abuse), so I’m getting an MRI on Saturday.

I’m working tonight, but I don’t have to be there until 6 pm (and when I do get there I’m going up in the condor, so I can sleep once everything’s set).

Filed under: life in LA, mishaps, Work, , , , , , , , ,

Almost-Friday photo

I’m having to stay up a bit later than usual due to my having a later call time tomorrow (which means, of course, that we won’t wrap until later – like early Saturday morning), so here’s a photo from Wednesday’s job:

Air tastes better when you can see it.

As I’d predicted, it was hotter than hell. At lunch, when I stepped out of the air conditioned stage (which was a bit warm – they turn off the air conditioning between takes, and sometimes the PAs forget to turn it back on), it felt like, well, it felt hot – and it didn’t help when they hauled out that fucking smoke machine and ‘hazed’ the room. I know that stuff’s supposed to be mostly harmless, but it always gives me a sore throat and a cough.

Luckily, I was working with a really wonderful group of folks so I had a good time – but not so much of a good time that I didn’t bail when I got called to work Friday and Saturday on a job that pays more.

Filed under: hazardous, Photos, Work, , , , , , , , ,

Happy hottest day of the year (so far)!

According to the weather-bots on the TV news, today has been the hottest day yet this summer.

It certainly felt that way to me.

I went to the laundromat first thing in the morning in an attempt to get the laundry done while it was still cool(ish). When I went in, it wasn’t so bad. When I came out two hours later, it was scorching. I’d make some sort of an oven joke here, but I don’t think my oven gets that hot. Even on “broil”.

As I walked out, I must have looked like I was suffering because the guy who was on his way into the laundromat grinned and said “You think this is bad, you should be in Miami”.

No, I think I definitely should not be in Miami. The last time I was in Miami, I damn near turned around and went home the moment I got off the plane.

At some point during the day, although all I really wanted to do was buy a kiddie pool and 100 lbs of ice and spend the afternoon in the backyard, I decided that I was going to swelter through all my errands today and spend tomorrow at the beach where it’s cooler. I’d throw the bike in the back of the truck, cruise over to the beach, ride the bike path until I got hot and then jump in the water. I’d stay there, reveling in the cold water and nice breeze (not at the same time, of course) and not come back into Hollywood until it got good and dark and cool.

Whenever I make plans like that, I get called to go to work. This time, it was four hours between the time I decided to go to the beach and the time I got the call. Had I made plans to go to the beach with someone, I probably would have gotten the call much sooner.

The only problem with working on this particular show tomorrow is that the location’s in Castaic, where it’s roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

The first question out of my mouth was “is it on a stage or outside?”

Normally, I feel really guilty when I turn work down, but if I was going to have to work outside in the heat up there for 14 hours, I wouldn’t have felt bad at all about saying no.

Luckily, it’s only one day on a stage that’s supposedly air-conditioned.

Filed under: life in LA, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

Well, at least it smells good now.

The knee brace (no longer the world’s largest – a guy that was in the PT office with me today has one that’s way bigger) is made of neoprene which, as any of you who have a passing familiarity with neoprene will know, doesn’t breathe so well. Combined with it being seasonally warm here in Los Angeles, at the end of the workday both my knee and the brace have been soaking wet and kind of funky-smelling.

Also, the brace is very snug, so there’s a real danger of my throwing my back out while pulling it on in the morning.

So Tuesday night, as I was digging around in my bathroom drawers, looking for something else, I came across a gag gift that I’d gotten for my birthday and then thrown in the drawer that I’m pretty certain leads to an alternate dimension (stuff goes in, but doesn’t come back out. To date, the drawer has swallowed at least five bottles of shampoo, twice that number of expensive foo-foo soaps, a curling iron and about a million condoms).

Someone made a deodorant that smells like vanilla chai and one of my sick, sick friends purchased a stick of it for me.

Now, while the idea of wandering around with my armpits smelling like a coffee drink is more than a little disturbing, for some reason I have no problem wandering around with my knee smelling like a coffee drink, so I used the stuff on the area of the knee that’s under the brace.

The deodorant really does smell like a coffee drink, and also made the knee brace easier to slide on. Later, when when I got to the physical therapist it slid off a bit easier than it did pre-deodorant, and although the knee and the brace were still soaking wet, they both smelled like, well, a coffee drink so I didn’t offend anyone nearby. Good thing, too – I don’t want to piss off that physical therapist. She’s what you would get if you tried splicing together a Kindergarten teacher and a really mean drill sergeant.

Some of her better lines while flitting from patient to patient were “I don’t care if it hurts! You have to give me 15!” and the ever popular “If you lose track, you have to start over!” all delivered in that happy Kindergarten teacher voice.

Fucking sadist.

All joking aside, though – she’s a nice lady (as sadists go), and gave me a lot more information than the doctor did about exactly what’s wrong with the knee and how to fix it – and she told me I don’t have to come three times a week (which would have been impossible). I just have to come back about once a week, do the surprisingly difficult exercises at home and ice the knee twice a day.

Although my knee doesn’t feel any better, the rest of my leg is hurting so much that I hardly notice.

That’s progress, right?

Filed under: Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , , , , , , ,

I just knew this was going to happen.

This is what I foresee happening for the next four (or so) weeks:

I call the physical therapist and arrange to come in on, say, Wednesday and Friday.

(Phone rings) “Hello?”

Best boy: “Can you work Wednesday and Friday?”

Me: “Sure!”

I then reschedule my physical therapy for Tuesday and Thursday.

(Phone rings) “Hello?”

Best Boy: “Okay, you’re not working Wednesday and Friday now. They changed the shots. You’re now working Tuesday and Thursday.”

Me (under breath): “Dammit.”

It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

My first physical therapy appointment is Wednesday, so I took what I thought was a one day call today (Tuesday). Right after lunch, they asked me to work the rest of the week – I hemmed and hawed about the appointment (after having to tell them that I can’t work Friday because I’ve already been booked that day on a commercial) and was told that it was okay – they’ll just let me take a ‘long lunch’ and then I’ll be the person who stays after everyone else goes home to help the lamp dock guys count in the gear.

Now, it’s really bad form to decline work after concessions have been made for things like physical therapy appointments, so although I hadn’t wanted to work Wednesday (not because I don’t want to work; because I don’t want to show up for my first appointment all filthy, bedraggled, and smelly – which is an apt description of me after I’ve been wrapping cable in the perms all day), I kind of got backed into a corner since I like these guys and would love to not piss them off so much that they never call me again.

Hopefully the physical therapist will understand.

Today was the work test-drive for the world’s biggest knee brace, and it went pretty well. My problem sometimes with doctors is that I’m fairly certain they have no fucking idea what my workday’s really like, so when they say “sure, you can work”, they don’t realize that when at work, I’ll be picking up heavy things and twisting my body while holding them (throwing cable into carts: pick up cable, swing cable over to cart by pivoting at – you guessed it- the knee, drop cable coil into cart), climbing ladders (go up into the perms. Okay, it’s coffee. Come down out of the perms. Okay, break’s over. Go back up into the perms. Repeat at lunchtime, or when supervisor decides to rotate crew out of ‘up high’ to give them a break).

So far, the knee’s been fine, but we’re only in phase one – the ‘clearing the floor’ phase. When wrapping a stage, one wraps all the stuff that’s sitting on the floor first – normally it’s lamps (the most expensive item and the thing that production wants us to get off rental as soon as possible), then distro, and then cable. Only after the floor has been cleared of equipment does the stuff that’s up in the perms gets dropped out -the reason for this is that dropping equipment on top of equipment creates one hell of a mess.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Filed under: Work, , , , ,

Friday Photo

Knee - side view Xray.

As much as I wanted to title this post “It’s not a too-mah”, that bump on my femur, is, in fact, a tumor.

The good news is that it’s a benign tumor, so they’re going to MRI it again in four months and if it’s not gotten any bigger, it gets to take a trip to the ‘ignore’ file.

In other good news, I won’t be needing surgery on my knee. As best I understand it, I fucked up the thing that goes over the kneecap, and as a result I’ll need physical therapy three times a week for the next four weeks, and I can’t do squats or lunges at the gym (but I can swim as much as I want to and bicycle as long as I raise the seat so the knee’s not bent too much). And – I’m able to work with the aid of the world’s largest knee brace.

Sweeeet.

As much as I might like to joke about sitting around on my ass collecting disability, the fact is that I don’t like being out of work when there’s work to be had.

I was so happy about not having to have surgery, that after I ran some other errands and went swimming for an hour (hey, the doctor said I could) I stopped at Mozza on the way home and had some pizza and a really excellent glass of wine (my last for the next 10 days, as I’m starting back onto the heavy-duty anti-inflammatory drugs).

The consequences I’m currently suffering because of the cheese are totally worth it.

Yay! No surgery!

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , , , ,

Thanks for the tips, everyone!

So thanks to the wonderful and faboo commenters, I’ve got a cheaper hairdryer on order, so the expensive mineral-enhanced dryer’s going to go back.

Although, I gotta say, whatever magic thingy is in there actually does make my hair less frizzy – my problem is that as I go grey (and I started getting grey hair in my early 20’s no thanks to my fucking ancestors), the grey hair’s coming in a different texture than the normal hair – it’s much thicker and curlier. When I’m at work I don’t care because no one pays attention to how the toolbelt people look, but when I’m in my civvies it would be nice not to look like half my hair’s behaving and the other half’s making a break for it.

Today, my knee felt great – so good that I didn’t even dope up on anti inflammatories before going for a long bike ride (from Hollywood to Westwood and back), which I’ve missed greatly (I get a little nuts when I can’t work out. I suppose that makes me an addict). I even managed to get home before the marine layer (i.e. fog) lifted, so I didn’t get too sweaty, which is a plus.

Then, this afternoon, I managed to find a pair of the “Libertine” jeans at Target in my size, which is rare, because normally my size sells out of Target’s guest designer collection before I can blink twice. It’s not too much of a problem now, because those jeans are the ONLY thing I’ve ever liked from Libertine – even the expensive line’s just not my style – but when they have stuff I like it makes me want to commit fashionicide (killing someone because they took the last item in your size right as you were getting your hopes up about having something to wear – this happens quite often at sample sales. I’ve seen it. Okay, not so much – but I have seen some really awesome slap fights).

Tomorrow, we finish editing our short, and then Friday I go back to the doctor to find out what’s going on inside my poor knee which doesn’t feel so great right now.

I can’t imagine why.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, , , , , , ,

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