Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A nice Friday surprise.

When I staggered out to the mailbox this morning, there it was, waiting for me – the judge’s written decision in the unemployment case.

I won! The judge ruled that my mistake (which resulted in an overpayment last year and caused a delay of benefits and a fine this year) was made because of poor organizational skills and sloppy accounting on my part and not a deliberate attempt to defraud the state of California.

Although I’m not sure how thrilled I am about having a judge pretty much call me an idiot in a written decision, at least the state has to refund the penalties to me now.

If I’ll ever get them is another story – the California unemployment folks seem to be doing anything they can to avoid paying out claims. I know one person who is owed almost 8 weeks worth of checks and can’t get an explanation as to the cause of the delay, another who has had to go to three different offices to verify his identity in person and still hasn’t been issued a check, and another person who is getting one check out of every four that she’s owed – also with no explanation of why.

Even if I never see any of the money, at least now I’m not viewed as a criminal by a group of bureaucrats who may or may not have souls.

Speaking of surprises, I saw this while riding my bike the other day:

Not a couch, but still odd.

I wonder if the homeowner was hoping that some passerby would take them. When she saw me taking pictures of them, she ran out of the house to yell at me in what I think might have been Russian, but I’m not entirely certain.

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

This is the way we scrub the floor

This week has been all about cleaning the house because I don’t want the new owner to think I live like a pig when he does the walk through (I’m not sure when that’s going to be. I’m still desperately hoping I’m going to start working again soon, so I’m cleaning now while I have the time), and I’ve come to the following realization about myself:

I have way too many shoes. Really, it’s out of control. I blame my mother, whose motto was ‘never throw anything away because as soon as you do it’ll come back in style and then you’ll have to buy another one so you may as well just keep the old one’ for my current footwear overflow issues.

Hell, I can’t even wear quite a few of them since Dr. Buzzkill put the kibosh on my wearing heels. But I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.
The doctor has also ordered me to lose as much weight as I possibly can (without becoming one of the lollipop-head set, of course, although years of hauling cable around have left me with enough muscle in my upper body that I’ll never be able to get scary skinny) in the hopes of buying some time for my  knees.

I’m on a pretty brutal workout regime – not only do I have those doctor’s orders to drop some lard, I have to get some of that muscle back on because although I make jokes about being weak and girly, not being able to do my job doesn’t go over so well at work, so when I’ve not been cleaning the house I’ve been pumping the iron and doing the hated cardio in the gym. I’ve basically doubled the workout I normally do – heavier weights, more exercises per body part, longer cardio time (my knees are fucked up because of work, not the gym so the physical-therapist approved workout’s not going to make them any worse).

All this working out has left me sore and cranky. That, and I really hate my gym. I’ve been going to 24 Hour Fitness for years and it used to be a decent, no-frills type place to work out, but now the clubs are oversold, horrifyingly filthy and generally miserable.

They’ve also gotten rid of the gender-segregated spas. I love to sit in the steam room, but I hate sitting in a smelly, trash strewn steam room with guys who stare, make comments and ‘accidentally’ brush up against any women they can corner.

I’ve decided that as soon as work starts back up and I get a steady check, I’m switching. I’m looking at Meridian (no web site that I can find), because they’ve got a club close to me and one of my friends goes there and just loves it.

Of course, the gym I’d really like to join is the Sports Club LA, but it’s so far out of my price range that I can’t even begin to think about it. Damn. They have the best pool ever.

Enjoy a photo from the weekend’s road trip up the coast which I was too tired and sore to write about:

Old San Simeon beach

Also, the couch blog got featured on the LA Times website today.

Filed under: cranky, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, travel, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best news I’ve had all month!

My building is now officially in escrow, so this morning the real estate agent came by to take some pictures of my place (to make sure that I’ve got water-saving fixtures in the bathroom and smoke detectors in all the rooms) and I took the opportunity to pump him for information.

Turns out, the buyer isn’t going to tear the place down – he’s restored several other apartment buildings and houses in the area, and apparently came to court (because the building’s been in conservatorship since the landlady went nuts, so the sale had to be approved by the court) with photos of the other restoration jobs he’s done and an assurance that he intends to return the building to it’s full Jazz Age glory.

Because of Los Angeles’ rent control laws, he can’t throw me out just because he restores the building. Right now I’m very, very happy.

I’m so happy that the knowledge that I hurt myself last night through sheer stupidity doesn’t even bother me.

Somehow, I got on the list for a party held at Prada in Beverly Hills. Since I’ve never actually purchased anything at Prada, how I got the invite is a complete mystery to me, but I’m certainly not going to say no to free drinks, so off I went – wearing heels, which I’m not supposed to do anymore because of my knee. Of course, I was also wearing the obligatory Very Short Skirt which prevented my from being sensible and at least wearing the knee brace with my heels.  Hey, I never said I had any sense.

Sure enough, this morning my knee is swollen and painful. I don’t care. Gallons of free champagne (good stuff, too – not the canned kind), an endless stream of tiny hors d’oeuvres and the assurance that I’m not going to get evicted means today is wonderful even if I am limping around the house with an ice pack taped to my leg.

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

Welcome back to work. Have some coffee.

I’m a habitual early riser – barring an all-night shoot or some sort of post-midnight catastrophe, I’m up by 8 (if I manage to do anything productive by noon is a completely different story). So when I got a mid-day call to report to work at 3 pm the first thing I did was go to my favorite overpriced coffee joint and order the equivalent of a Big Gulp. Saying ‘no’ to the job didn’t even enter my mind, once I figured out I’d be able to make it to the location on time. Right now I’m in no position to turn down any sort of work – even if it means my having to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks on the drive home. Killer bees at the location? Dust storms? Toxic waste? Poison Oak? Hottentots? Rabid gophers? Michael Bay? Fine, fine. Just tell me when to show up.

Being picky about which jobs one takes is a luxury reserved for when it’s busy. If I’m fielding work calls every day, I can afford to turn down the two-and-a-half hour drive or horrible pay rate or the location that’s hotter than hell/infested with angry rattlesnakes/oozes green goo.

This time, though, I got lucky – the drive wasn’t too bad and I was working with a great bunch of guys who I like a lot, so I had fun and my pre-work coffee guzzle turned out to be unnecessary as we didn’t work that late. I was home by midnight.

Filed under: Work, , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Women in the City exhibition

A Cindy Sherman still from the Women In The City exhibit. The exhibit isn’t in a gallery, it’s placed all over the city, mixed in with all those advertising images I usually utterly ignore.

It’s really interesting (the idea of having the art just out in the open mixed in with – and probably mistaken for – ads), and I’m going to try to find more of them, but the directions to the works are kind of vague (“billboard facing Orange St. near Hollywood and Highland”). This one turned out to be inside the “mall” and I only found it when I gave up on trying to find it and went to get a cup of coffee. There’s some message there, I’m sure of it.

Wednesday, I got the anticipated lecture from the judge about keeping better records, and hopefully I managed to convince her that I didn’t intentionally set out to defraud my mighty gub’mint overlords.

The fashion show shoot went well – except that I had an insecure moment Thursday (I normally think I’m just fine the way I am, but spending six hours in a room with models would make you insecure, too – I left the show feeling like I should have my own gravitational pull. I suppose I should take this time to mention that while I’m a tub compared to a 6′ tall model who weighs 90 lbs, objectively I’m pretty svelte. Except for my arms. Years and years of pulling cable have left me with bigger shoulders than the governator) and overdid it at the gym, so today I didn’t do much at all except list my fluorescent tubes on Craig’s List (we use special daylight-balanced tubes, and I don’t remember what show I was on when I bought them, but I haven’t used them in years, so out they go) and take a few photos.

Due to Flickr’s behavior of late (deleting accounts, censoring users, underhanded rights grabs at photos), I’m trying out a different photo service – Zooomr, which is cool even though there are still some glitches with the site. We’ll see how it goes.

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

A mild disappointment with bonus re-run

Although I swore up and down that I’d have to work the day of the unemployment hearing, no dice. The hearing’s tomorrow and still no work (well, I have to shoot The Blonde doing something at Fashion Week tomorrow night, but that’s not technically work. There’s no paycheck involved and it’s mostly just me directing traffic and hoping there will be some decent food in whatever passes for a green room at a fashion show). I’m hearing rumors of something next week-ish. We’ll see.

Although it feels like forever, tomorrow will be one month since the end of the strike.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I wrote a guest post for Assistant Atlas where I dished out some friendly advice for people who visit movie sets and figured since life is still boring I’d do the blogger cop-out and re-run it here (although since I’m not sure it was ever posted on my blog it’s technically not a re-run. Plus, it’s still relevant. Print out and use as a reference if you don’t get to set that often and get the urge to see how we’re spending your cash. Please).

Enjoy!

—————————————————-

Welcome to our happy little film set! Ignore the swearing and dirty jokes – the crew are really nice folks, but we do have a generally misunderstood job to do, and you can make it much harder for us if you don’t pay attention. Normally when “tourists” or “suits” are on set we roll our eyes and groan, but if you just remember the following things, we’ll love you forever:

1. Never set any liquid on an HMI ballast – they’re the square silver things in the photo, and what they are is a computerized control system for that big huge light. Unless you’re the producer, I’ll bet they cost more than your car, and spilled liquid will ruin them. Don’t sit on them, either. You’ll get the ass rot.

HMI

2. Please, please, PLEASE pay attention to what’s going on around you. Film sets are dark (especially if they’re on a stage), and confusing- and as you can see from the photo, there’s all kinds of cable and construction waste on the ground. People are also in a hurry and rushing while they’re carrying hot, heavy and/or pointy things. If you’re not paying attention, you could be seriously injured. Don’t wear open toed shoes or flip flops, either. 3/4 ” drywall screws have ways of finding your toes.

3. If you take a picture and are using the flash on your camera, please say “Flashing” loudly – before you take the picture. A camera flash looks exactly like a light bulb blowing out, and if the electricians see the flash of white light and don’t know that’s what it is, they’ll go batty trying to find the blown out globe when it was your camera. This is funny, but very, very mean.

4. When the AD says “Quiet” – this means you. “Quiet” does NOT mean ‘continue your conversation in a whisper’. “Quiet” means shut up while we’re rolling. The microphones that are used can pick up a whispered conversation from a surprisingly long way away.

6. If you see crew running in and out of a doorway, please don’t block that doorway while you have a conversation. We might accidentally hit you in the back with something pointy. On a related note, the phrase “Watch your back” means move right now. If you’re in a doorway and you hear the phrase “Watch your back”, move AWAY from the doorway. Do not attempt to go back through it. Remember, pointy object = pain.

7. Whoever’s carrying the heavier load gets right of way. If I’m carrying a 40 lb light, and you’re carrying a 10 oz. cell phone or two sheets of paper – You are the one who needs to yield. I don’t care who you are. Neither does my spine.

8. When craft service puts food out, let the folks who’ve been there longer get to the food first.

9. We are happy to answer questions and chit chat when we’re not busy. If we are busy (and you can tell), please let us work. We get yelled at if we don’t.

10. Ladders are for climbing, not for setting drinks on.

11. If you ask really nicely, the grips might let you sit on an apple box (but know that it can be taken from you at any time), but NEVER EVER for any reason sit or stand on camera cases.

12. Don’t stand in front of a light. Feel that heat on your back? It means you’re casting a shadow onto the set. Don’t walk in front of a light, either. On a related note.. if you can look into the camera lens, you’re in the shot.

13. If folks are working over your head, you might want to move. We try not to drop things, but accidents do happen. If a crew member asks you to move, please do so immediately and don’t argue.

14. If you don’t know what something is, don’t touch it.
14a. Don’t plug anything in ANYWHERE without asking first. DC power (which some stages still have) will do a number on your cell phone charger, and if you didn’t ask before plugging it in, we’ll laugh at you.

15. Please don’t wear perfume. Even air conditioned sets are hotter than hell under the lights, and you wouldn’t believe how bad your “Obsession” smells after it’s been hanging in the air for a while and has bred with someone else’s “Opium”. Speaking of bad smells, if you have to fart, please step off the set – off the stage if you can. Thanks.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

Yay! Money!

After today’s particularly grueling bike ride (fighting what felt like a 15 knot headwind may be good exercise, but it’s exhausting. I only got in half my normal ride before I gave up and headed for home. Of course the wind shifted while I was contemplating packing it in so I had what felt like a 15 knot cross breeze all the way home. Nice. When I complained to a friend, he informed me it was proof that God hates me. You know, I’ve always suspected as much) I came home to find an unemployment check! Hooray!

I did the best happy dance I could manage on my sore legs, hopped back on my bike and struggled over to the bank so I could deposit the check (and get some cash for laundry and the farmer’s market on Sunday), and when I got home my legs felt like.. well, like I just biked across Hollywood while fighting a wind. Twice.

I’m hopeful that work will come soon, though – I’m starting to see more and more art department folks driving around in 10 ton trucks, which is a good sign. Those guys are back to work a few weeks before we are, so hopefully I’ll be working again before I go completely insane.

Yesterday I was so optimistic that I dumped my work bag, sorted out the stuff that I actually use, threw away the flotsam (lot passes, commissary receipts, half-finished crossword puzzles, band-aids, old call sheets, candy bar wrappers, broken bits of old headsets that no longer work), and then took the bag outside and hosed it down, so I can now find things and the inside doesn’t smell like socks anymore. Sweet.

Then, I decided it was as good a time as any to crack open my last bottle of the wine I brought back from France (you have to celebrate the small victories, too) – the wine that I schlepped across a medium-sized country, carefully wrapped in a sweater, hid in my suitcase, denied the existence of to a customs agent (“why no, I don’t have any alcohol or food in my suitcase. That salami smell is your imagination”), and saved for just the moment I thought I’d really like it…

Was corked. What really sucks is this was the ‘good’ bottle. Oh, well. Just one more excuse to go back someday, right?

I’m going to smear myself with whatever sore muscle rub I can reach, hobble to the couch and watch whatever movie happens to be in the DVD player.

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

We have a winner!

Jon takes the canned swill  delicious beverage with 20 W2 forms!

Jon, shoot me an email at randomblogmail@yahoo.com and I’ll send it right out!

I’d also like to take this time to apologize for not being more interesting as of late – there’s just not that much going on right now. I get up, write a bit (I’m still behind schedule, though), go to the gym for a couple of hours (I’d be totally ripped right now if I didn’t like wine so much), come home, work on the scarf I’m knitting (it’s my first lace project so it’s taking a while), write some more, watch some bad TV, list stuff on ebay (I’m now listing stuff for people in exchange for a percentage of the sale. Tune in next week when I start dancing on the street corner for whatever spare change passersby chuck at my head) and then go to bed.

No going out, no dates, no movies, no trips anywhere, no social life to speak of and I don’t even have work to blame this time.

Guess I need another excuse, don’t I? 

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

Just in case you all were having a nice weekend

More articles about Axium and associated tomfoolery:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-axium27feb27,1,3609000.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Enjoy!

The upside of my bank account being at crisis level is that it’s officially not worth suing me. For anything. This morning, the lady who picks through my recycling bin every week (technically, this is illegal but since the city of LA is broke I don’t see them doing anything about it, and really I don’t mind. If folks want to get up at the crack of dawn and dig through other people’s garbage to make a buck or two, they deserve that money and probably need it more than the city of … wait. LA’s broke. Nevermind.) threatened to sue me.

She’d cut herself on a bottle that had broken when I threw it in the bin, and I happened to be rolling my bike out the front door right as it happened. “Look what happened to me!” she yelled as she held up her bloody hand, “I’ll sue you!”.

I shrugged, said something about not being able to get blood from a turnip and rode off into the foggy morning which then turned to rain so of course I got soaked.

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

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