Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Special Leap Year Friday Photo

Sunset

My big excitement this week was hauling my bike out to the beach and going for a ride along the oceanfront bike path.

Happy February 29th!

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

Hooray! I can see the future!

How quickly things can change.

This morning I was pacing the floor, wondering if I’d ever start working again, but this afternoon… well, I’m still pacing the floor but now I can safely say I’ll definitely be working again by March 12.

How is it that I’m able to predict my return to work with such accuracy?

Simple. I got a letter today informing me that my appeal hearing for unemployment is on March 12 at 2 pm (“arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled hearing. We do not validate parking”).

If the letter is to be believed (and I’m a firm believer in the absolute authority of any letter with complicated folding and more than six staples) this hearing cannot be rescheduled under any circumstances, and if I don’t show up for any reason other than my own death, I automatically lose the appeal. Of course, there is no appeal process for a missed opportunity during the appeal process.

Did I mention this can’t be rescheduled?

That’s damn near a sure bet that I’ll have to work that day.

Lest you think I’m just being paranoid, years of experience have proved the theory that any time I plan anything in advance (date, unemployment appeal hearing, vacation, elective surgery) I’ll have to work.

I will, however, predict that I’ll be so happy to be back to work that I’ll only be mildly annoyed about missing the hearing. And I’ll get over it in mere minutes.

Perhaps I should plan something important (that can’t be rescheduled that it would suck to miss but that’s life isn’t it) sooner.

Filed under: Non-Work

Friday Photo with extra backstory

I don’t normally shop at Ralph’s (one of the local big chain supermarkets).

I think I was just out of college when I figured out that I spent much less if I shopped at the local farmer’s markets for produce and got everything else at Trader Joe’s (the local ‘specialty foods’ market which is a hell of a lot cheaper – especially for booze). Sure, I couldn’t get the brand name stuff at TJ’s but once I got used to the weird chewy pasta and panda-flavored crackers, there was no turning back. I became a happy supermarket exile.

I lived like this for years, supplementing my diet with the occasional expedition into the local funny-smelling health food store for bulk items like rice and beans which worked out to be cheaper even though trips to said store were a guarantee that I’d run into at least one hippy. It’s not that I dislike hippies per se, it’s just that the majority of them annoy the hell out of me and I want to beat them with a rolled up copy of, well, anything that’s been published this century until they regain their senses and wash off that nasty patchouli.

Even after I started making enough money to buy the overpriced crap at Whole Foods (yuppies bother me too, but they’re easier to scare and sometimes don’t smell as bad) just on the off chance it might possibly be healthy, I never went back to the regular supermarkets. I continued to buy produce from a hippy at a farm stand (remember, only most of them annoy me) and get just about everything else from Trader Joes.

Until today.

No, I haven’t finally embraced fluorescent lighting, soft Muzak(tm), and corporate cereal stocked in a non-threatening environment.

I have gift cards. $200 worth – and I’m too broke to turn down free food.

A week ago, I filled out an application for a Motion Picture and Television Fund assistance grant – I figured they’d string me along for a few weeks and then give me the sad face as they hit me with a list of restrictions on grants that excluded damn near everybody (like the WGA grants – supposedly for non-writers affected by the strike, but just try and get one).

I had my in-person interview today, and much to my surprise, the extra wonderful social worker cut me a check for next month’s rent right there on the spot. Right after I’d finished spelling my landlady’s last name for her, she asked if I wanted some grocery store gift cards.

Why, of course I did. It’s food, right? She then handed me four $50 cards and apologized because she didn’t have larger denominations available. Perhaps she mistook my stunned misty-eyed gratitude for pique.

I thanked her profusely, dried my eyes, promised I’d pay them the amount of the rent check back when I started working again (“you don’t have to- just if you can eventually. It’s a grant, not a loan”) and made a beeline for Ralph’s.

Which is where I saw this:
Is this really necessary?

Really, now. There’s overkill and then there’s overkill.

I will be enjoying my free food, though – it will also nice to be able to buy the good toothpaste and not have to agonize over it (“really, do my teeth need to be all that white? I’m kind of old anyways”).

I love you, Motion Picture and Television Fund. If I ever start working again, I’ll donate as heavily as I can.

Plus, if I ever manage to accumulate enough crap to justify my bothering with a will, you’ll be in it (don’t even start with me about it. Right now, the sum total of my assets are an old car that leaks oil like it’s going out of style, not nearly enough cash to stuff a mattress, and a soon to be obsolete television set that may or may not turn on when asked. Oh, and a 20+ year old busted up saddle that’s unsafe to use because the billets need to be replaced. Yeah, that’s worth fighting over).

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

After a long weekend, more rain.

This holiday weekend was especially good to me since the antibiotics finally got the better of the upper respiratory infection and I managed to walk three steps without breaking into the horrible rasping cough (although I have to admit it was fun watching people scatter like cockroaches the second I started. One guy even got up and moved to a different seat in the movie theater despite my assuring him in between wheezes that it wasn’t contagious) I’ve had for what feels like forever.

Thankfully, it’s mostly gone now. I even managed to go for a bike ride Sunday and only had one coughing fit right after I accidentally inhaled a stray bug (that’ll teach it to mind it’s own business).

Good thing I got the ride in, too.  It’s supposed to rain for the rest of the week, which of course means the entire city has descended into a panic about wet Ugg boots and the local news is doing a feature about the horsemen spotted running across the sky somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. Or something.

In other happy news, I finally got my Axium tax paperwork – it was sent out by Avalon in an envelope from PAV (both Axium subsidiaries – guess they’re using up the office supplies that weren’t looted).

Which brings me to this years “How many W2 forms do you have?” contest:

W2 forms

The person with the most forms wins the can of champagne I managed to weasel out of drinking!

I have 17 this year, but I don’t count, of course.

Filed under: life in LA, Photos, , , , , , , ,

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Champagne in a can!

Champagne in a can! Actually, since it’s from California, it’s technically sparkling wine in a can. I got it as a gag gift over the holidays and jokingly said I’d pop the top when the WGA strike ended.

Now I’m to have to drink it in front of a witness*.

(So-called friend: I’m afraid I’m going to have to watch you drink this. Otherwise how will I know you didn’t just pour it down the drain?

Me: Don’t you trust me?

So-called friend: No. )

Hold me, I’m scared.

* I did cut a deal to not have to drink it before 5 pm, and I may also be able to weasel out of drinking it this week at all since the doc put me on antibiotics for the cough.

Filed under: Photos, Uncategorized, , , ,

Pick a deity and start thanking

The strike appears to be over.

I should take this time to mention that even if the WGA members vote to end the strike and they start working again tomorrow, it will still be around a month before the rest of us are back to work – despite what the mayor of LA says (he made some comment that this needed to get resolved and then everyone would be back to work in a week. I wish, and so does everyone else, I’ll wager).

It takes time to get a production up and running – the script has to be written, then approved by whatever monkey happens to have the  ‘ok’ stamp that day,  then the script has to get ‘broken down’ (where they figure out exactly how much everything in the script is going to cost), budgeted, storyboarded, etc…

Then, we get to start rigging (maybe, if our shows are coming back at all).

Then, we work like hell and hope that SAG don’t go on strike and shut us down again in June, which is when their contract expires.

My big project today is to go see the doctor about the nasty dry rasping cough I’ve had for almost three weeks. I was lucky to get an appointment – since no one’s working, everyone’s got time to go see the doctor.

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Friday Photo

Backdrop

At least someone’s working.

Filed under: Photos, , , ,

A week of cautious optimism

Right in the middle of this week full of highly amusing election snark (bye bye, Rudy! Bye bye, Romney! Also, sadly – bye, bye Edwards – the only really pro-labor candidate) , there are rumblings that the WGA might have reached a deal.

Admittedly, this would be totally sweet, but do remember that most of your friendly crew people will continue to be unemployed for about a month after the official end of the strike – it takes time to get a production of any size moving, so although it’ll be over for the WGA, it’ll still be rough for me for a while longer.

Especially since unemployment seem to be stalling me – guess it’s their way of dealing with California’s budget shortfall.

Also, there are now multiple offers on my building (all from developers, of course), so tomorrow’s project is to find a lawyer. I have a feeling I’m going to need one if I don’t want to get screwed.

Also, I still have not gotten tax paperwork from Axium, which doesn’t really surprise me.

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

Out, damned sandwich! Out, I say!

I’m feeling much calmer now – thanks to everyone for the kind words after my little “on-air” panic moment.

Last night I went to my last FilmIndependent screening (my membership expired the 31st and I can’t afford to renew until I start working again. Needless to say, the office has not been receptive to my request for a charity extension). The movie was In Bruges and it showed at the new(ish) Landmark movie theaters, which used to be the outdoor section of a shopping mall (no, it did – when they renovated they decided to put in a better movie theater instead of more pointless retail. The theater’s much better than the old one, but I still like the Arclight better. The seats are more comfortable and the actual theaters are bigger. Plus, you can’t beat reserved seating in a nearly child-free facility).

Since I’d spent the entire day running errands and hadn’t eaten, when I got to the theater I figured I’d sashay up to the bar (so to speak) and grab a snack – this is when sticker shock kicked in.

Seriously – four bucks for a pretzel? Seven for a slice of lukewarm pizza?

I decided to beat the system and ran into the adjacent bookstore/overpriced (but not as overpriced as the theater) coffee bar, grabbed a sandwich and then proceeded to scarf it down before entering the theater – just in case the ushers confiscated the forbidden ‘outside food item’.

Problem solved, right?

Not so much with my current run of luck.

About halfway through the movie, my stomach began to plot revenge, and by the end credits, I felt it was a good idea to exit the theater very quickly and move in the direction of the nearest ladies room, where I sat on the floor of a stall for about 20 minutes, desperately hoping that I’d throw up, feel better, and could go back into the theater for the director Q & A.

Nothing.

After deciding that the whole episode was a false alarm (but not feeling well enough to go back inside the theater), I went to the car and started up the ramp to get out of the parking garage, where I made it almost all the way out to the street before had to stop the car and hang my head out the opened driver’s side door for a moment (or three).

Still nothing.

On the way home, high on Salmonella (or something), I stopped and took a bunch of pictures of an abandoned diner. This place has been closed for at least 10 years, yet for some reason the sign’s still on. I worked on a movie that shot here for weeks, and all day today I’ve been trying to remember the title, but I can’t. I’m going to blame the memory lapse on the sandwich. It never did come up and I’m just now feeling better.

Sign close up

Neon

missing letter

I would also like to take this time to apologize for the hackneyed Shakespeare riff in today’s title. The sandwich made me do it.
I swear.

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

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