Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

One more holiday down

Aside from being trapped in 3/4 of an airplane seat on the ride home (look, I realize times are tough but if you take up two seats you really do need to pay for two seats), it was a great trip home, even though I froze my ass off.  My sister’s new neighbors are from Mexico, and they kindly dropped off about a dozen tamales for her, most of which we downed right before we went over to our aunt’s house and ate turkey, dressing and pie. Tons and tons of pie.

I see a lot of the gym in my immediate future.

Normally, the week between Christmas and New Year is completely devoid of work, so I was pleasantly surprised that I got one day on a rig tomorrow.

Sure, it’s just one day and since it’s rigging there won’t be any amenities like craft service, but that’s okay. It’s work.

Not having craft service is very okay, since I don’t think I need to eat again until 2010.

And how was your holiday?

Filed under: Non-Work, travel

Up, up and away!

I’m off to see the family for four days – I usually dread the plane ride most, but this year I have anti-anxiety meds, so even though the guy in the seat next to me with the wet cough will still smell like Old Spice applied to unwashed armpits, I won’t care. I’ll be back on Monday.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Friday Photo and Good News (not in that order)

Having spent a fair amount of time dealing with endless layers of bureaucracy (moving from one country to another several times in one’s lifetime instills a sense of cynicism and an understanding of the need to present redundant paperwork in triplicate, but that’s a whole different story), yesterday I chugged down enough coffee to really make me motivated, and geared up to do battle.

First stop, the disability office in scenic Van Nuys*. I had my pay stubs, but decided I’d go and get the payout summary just to cover my ass. I was expecting a DMV-like wait (here in California that’s forever and a day. I think the last time I was in the DMV office, I saw dust-covered skeletons in the waiting area, and no, it wasn’t Halloween), but there were only three people in line in front of me and my wait was a grand total of 5 minutes. The lady behind the counter was pleasant and very helpful – she took one of the pay stubs, looked up my case file, instantly printed out what I needed and then wished me happy holidays.

Pleasantly surprised, I then proceeded to the insurance company office, where I signed in, was told there’d be a bit of a wait, and then within 15 minutes was ushered into the office of a very nice lady who took the payout summary from me (“It’s less paper”) and then updated my status to ‘eligible’ right there and then.

I asked for something in writing, just in case the cards didn’t come and there was some sort of screw-up, and she handed me a printout with an official-looking red stamp on it, wished me happy holidays and then informed me that my insurance cards would be mailed out as soon as possible.

Talk about pleasant surprises.

Not only did it all work out well, everything happened before noon, so I decided to go for a swim – charged up on coffee, I figured I’d do a really fast paced hour-long workout which would entitle me to a celebratory bacon avocado burger, but all I managed to accomplish was pulling a muscle in my leg which means I’ll have to continue eating boring healthy crap. Remember, kids – always warm up first.

It should sort itself out in a few days, but if it doesn’t at least I still have health insurance.

Bounced light

Sometimes, one wants a soft glow of light instead of a harsh beam. When this happens one ‘bounces’ the light off a light-colored surface such as a wall. When we’re shooting night exteriors, just about every widow you see in the shot that’s glowing has one of these bounced lights inside the room. This gives an even soft light that doesn’t look like some sort of police searchlight or evil alien probe has set up shop in said room, which would be bad. Unless that’s the look you’re going for, of course.

*For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Van Nuys is not very scenic at all. It’s mostly strip-malls and car lots.

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

More foot fallout

Yesterday was our last day of work before 2010 – the main show goes down tomorrow and won’t come back until after the new year.

We had a late call and an easy day – well, set lighting did. The first part of the day was ‘drive-bys’ up in the desert, which meant that the camera guys, the director, the ADs, and the grips, etc.. all piled into a van and drove around with the camera stuck out the window of said van in order to get day exterior driving shots. Since they had no lights or power of any kind with them, there was no reason to send along an electrician, so we came in at lunch after the rest of the crew returned to the stage.

Since we came in at lunch, we only worked about six hours, which means we beat the rate (we get paid for 8 hours minimum, so if we finish in less than that we beat the rate) which is always nice – kind of like a Christmas bonus.  At the end of the day, we had a little impromptu party in one of the morgue sets. We had ice and margarita mix (no booze though. The film industry used to run on hooch and cocaine, but now we have the kinder, gentler, more responsible version and none of us would even dream of breaking the rules. Honestly. You can trust us) and a blender set up on a table where a fake rotting corpse usually rests, and we made virgin drinks and chatted before we drifted off to try to not think about the fact that it’s almost Christmas already.

Today, I ran some errands and went to the gym. When I got home and opened the mail, I got a nasty surprise.

When I was on state disability, they were supposed to report all those hours to the health plan so I’d keep my health insurance – I got the letter in the mail today telling me that I haven’t worked enough hours and am ineligible for insurance. Of course, none of the disability hours were reported. I have ‘banked’ hours that I can withdraw to qualify, of course, but had the disability hours been reported it wouldn’t be necessary. I’m also afraid to draw out of my bank since the past couple of years have been so slow. I’m afraid I won’t work enough to rebuild it, and then when it really slows down (like when the writers go on strike again and hours required to qualify jump from 300 per semester to 400 per semester) I’ll be fucked.

What the hell? The folks at the state disability office told me it was all automatic and that I wouldn’t have to do anything, because I anticipated this very situation and asked.

I know California’s broke and cutting staffing to the bone, but this is just inexcusable.

I’ve got all the paperwork still so all I have to do is spend the better part of the day tomorrow on the phone doing the telephonic equivalent of bashing my head against a brick wall, but honestly I can think of a whole list of things I’d rather be doing with my time.

I just know this is Karmic payback for my calling Joe Lieberman a waste of carbon on Twitter, even though I stand behind the statement 110%.

Stupid foot. How long is this going to go on?

Speaking of the foot, please enjoy the latest photo while I field more email from creeps:

Foot

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

A case of the blahs

For the past few months, I just haven’t felt like myself at all. Although I’ve had a head cold I can’t seem to shake, there’s nothing physically wrong with me, I’m just, well, blech.

I get home from work (and I’m so thankful that I’ve been working a few days a week) and I hardly have any energy and can’t collect my thoughts enough to do anything other than stare at the TV with dead eyes – which isn’t normal for me.

I called the doctor about it last week, and his suggestion was to take some vitamins and find a much younger boyfriend. Now I’m no medical expert, but that would seem to not be the thing that I need if I’ve misplaced my get up and go. The boyfriend, that is. I’m already taking vitamins.

So today, I ventured out to hippy country and saw the Sweater Queen in the hopes that she’d be able to give me some sort of suggestion.

Normally, the Sweater Queen just gives me a list of supplements to take and then we have a good laugh about whatever happens to be going on in the world, but today she looked at me and said with some concern “I think there’s something wrong with your Vata.”

“That’s impossible” I replied. “I just had mammograms on both of them and they’re fine.”

The Sweater Queen sighed, and recommended that I go down the street to see some ‘herbalist’ who’s supposedly really, really old and was doing yoga in a speedo in his front yard (did I mention that today was cold and rainy) when I finally did pull up to his trailer (or shack. It could have been a shack. I’m still not 100% certain. There was a lot of debris strewn about).

He must have misinterpreted my look of alarm because he boomed “the cold – it makes your strong” as he pounded his scrawny chest for emphasis.

Never, ever argue with someone if you think they might be crazy.

I agreed that the cold does indeed make one strong and he gave me an herbal tea which smelled like what I imagine dirty gym socks would smell like were one to boil them. He then told me that sugar, coffee, meat, booze, and anything else that tastes good is poison and I should never ever eat any of it again.

I thanked him, paid him, then drove past the point which I thought a scrawny 300 year old man could walk (apparently cars are evil, too) and pitched the stinky gym sock tea into a trash can.

Then, I bought a box of chocolates and a nice bottle of port.

I feel better already.

Filed under: Non-Work

Technical difficulties prevent a Friday photo

For some reason, my computer and my camera can’t see each other, which is a recent development. I keep getting weird error messages and I have no idea why, and I have to be at work in two hours so I don’t have time to troubleshoot.

You know, I’m actually sorry that I switched over to Linux. Really I am. Sure I don’t have to worry about spyware or viruses, but I’m now in a whole new world of hurt and no one’s coming to rescue me.

Don’t tell me to buy a Mac. I’m not made of money.

Oh, well. At least I’ve got one day this week, which is a very good thing since apparently California’s unemployment offices are dealing with the state’s budget crisis by simply ignoring claims. I was talking to one guy who filed three months ago and has heard nothing back, despite calls and emails.

I’ve been getting a few days a week, which is enough to keep the proverbial wolf at bay, but not enough to have any extra money to spend on operating systems or a plane ticket to Vail, Colorado for the World Cup downhill skiing this weekend.

On second thought, it’s probably better I can’t go to Vail. It’s probably really cold there.

Filed under: camera, computer, mishaps, Non-Work

Post-Holiday carb fest!

Every year I seem to fixate on one particular holiday food that’s usually really bad for me. This year, it’s cornbread dressing. With turkey gravy.
Stuffing-riffic. My local overpriced ‘alternative marketplace’ grocery sells it pre-made (and soaked in gravy) by the pound, and I’ve been gorging on it since Thanksgiving.
Which is fine, but since I’m trying NOT to become so fat that I develop my own gravitational pull, I’ve had to step it up at the gym.

There’s no work this week (maybe a Friday, though), so I’ve been doing two hours of cardio and an hour of weights every day, but it’s not keeping up with the stuffing.

The  pool at the gym is usually stuffed full of people (no pun intended), so it’s been hard to swim (which is what really takes off the chub), but today I managed to get in and swam an unbelievably pokey 24 laps in 30 minutes (in a 25 yard pool, which is so insanely short that I should be doing a lap in well under a minute even when I’m not swimming all that fast).

Normally, when I want to swim long enough for it to actually matter, I go to one of the city pools, which are really excellent, but the city of Los Angeles, in what must have seemed like a logical move, has basically closed ALL of the pools at the same time to do some drain upgrade to keep people from dying or imploding or something, so I’m stuck in said gym pool until February. Fuckers.

I used to be in shape, I swear.

Ugh. What will fix this depression? More stuffing. Maybe with cranberries this time. Cranberries are healthy, right?

Filed under: Uncategorized

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Halfway through a wrap day

Get something out of those jockey boxes, I dare you.

Electricity and water

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