Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Tour de Courthouse

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving work, I was pulled over.

I had a burned out headlight, and given how incoherent I was after a 14 hour day, I’m surprised the cop didn’t haul me out and administer a field sobriety test, but he just gave me a fix-it ticket.

As he was finishing up, he told me I could go to any police station in the city to get a sign-off on the repair, and then go to any courthouse in the county to pay the small fine.

Sweet. I currently reside within a ten minute walk of both a police station and a (small) courthouse.

I figured I’d get the headlight fixed, get it inspected, then get it off the books and not even have to burn a gallon of very expensive (for America) gas.

So this morning, I rolled up to the West LA police station, ticket in hand, and asked at the desk to have someone check my car.

I was met with blank stares from the attending officers.

After an uncomfortably long pause, one of the civilian volunteers said “I’ve got this” and handed me a sheet explaining that the LAPD isn’t authorized to inspect vehicles and I’d have to drive to one of the county sheriffs’ inspection stations to get my signature.

Fine.

Except that the nearest inspection station happens to be in Beverly Hills.

I hate driving in Beverly Hills.

Under normal circumstances, the traffic is horrific because it’s apparently déclassé  to time one’s stop lights, but now it’s springtime and the tourist bloom is beginning.

In spring and summer, the normally crowded streets of Beverly Hills become impossibly clogged with tour busses and rental cars.

Which is great – the city and the county greatly appreciate your visit and your tax revenue, but residents tend to snap when traffic speeds drop from ‘slow crawl’ to ‘perambulate’.

This results in tempers accelerating from ‘recreational asshole’ to ‘nuclear war’.

Generally, I prefer to bike or bus it through the area – I can either sail past the problem or be encased in the T.Rex of vehicles and be safe from random punchings or headlocks.

But, if I must drive into the fray, 10 am on a weekday is a good time to do so.

Rush hour’s mostly over, and the lunchers haven’t started stalking parking spaces.

So, off I went – thinking I’d get inspected and paid off and then be back home in time to catch the afternoon talk shows.

I guess I wasn’t surprised when the clerk told me that although I got my inspection in Beverly Hills, because my officer had checked the ‘Chatsworth’ box on the ticket, that’s where I’d have to go to pay the fine.

To those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Chatsworth is not near anything.

Not a freeway off ramp, not any sort of landmark, not any sort of train or bus stop or life support.

So because I’d tried to save gas by not driving, I then drove to the edge of civilization.

Where I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity behind a woman arguing with anyone who would listen that her failure to appear for her court date wasn’t her fault because she’d lost her phone and had written the judge a letter proving her innocence.

Lucky for me another window opened and I paid my $25 and then fought traffic back home.

I have work tomorrow (non-union, but it pays and it’s with a bunch of guys that I really like), and since I’m going downtown I’m going to take the bus.

I’ve had enough of the car for now.

 

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, overspending, travel, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m feeling much better now.

About 10 days ago, my doctor put me on a new medication for my blood pressure, which, due to my parents’ apparent genetic inferiority, is high.

Really high, despite the former medication – during a check-up the doctor started muttering about a stroke and wrote me a new prescription.

I was told that there would be an adjustment period of  ‘a few days’ where I might not feel so well.

During this ‘few’ days, I accomplished the following:

Smashed in the fender of my car trying to back out of my parking space.

Stepped on the cat.

Got lost while swimming. In a pool.

Forgot my own phone number.

Spent half an hour arguing with a cardboard cutout of Austin Powers*

Also, I apparently did some online shopping, as I’m getting packages from eBay that I don’t remember buying. So far, I’ve been too afraid to open any of them.

I’m not sure I want a peek through that window into my psyche.

It was all the bad parts about being really, really drunk with none of the social acceptance. Or drinking.

A week and a half later, I’m finally semi adjusted – meaning the world has stopped being so annoyingly spinny and I can think again.

Except that one of the side effects of this medication is heat intolerance, which, despite my trying to explain my job to my doctor (outside. all day. no breeze. cable. burning sun. pants), just resulted in him advising me to not get dehydrated.

Which is fine – hydration is awesome – but it’s currently hotter than chicken fried ass here in Los Angeles and no matter how much water I drink I still get light-headed, red, and blotchy when I go outside and think about doing anything more strenuous than breathing.

It’s dead right now so I can keep my tomato-colored face inside, but this is going to be a problem in a couple of months – especially since ‘red and blotchy’ progresses through ‘light-headed’ to ‘involuntarily horizontal’ fairly quickly.

Since I can’t imagine that being too terribly popular at work, I have to discuss options with the doctor.

Hopefully, this won’t result in my being put on yet another medication requiring an adjustment.

 

 

*That one’s an exaggeration. It was more like 10 minutes.

Filed under: humor, mishaps, Non-Work, , , ,

What is it with me and fingers?

I need my hands to do my job. So one would imagine I’d be extra careful, but still it’s the body part I manage to mash and smash more than any other.

After waiting a week to get in the ocean after Los Angeles’ torrential skywater catastrophe, some friends and I decided to go for a swim. Our usual spot in Santa Monica wasn’t an option as it was parking for the LA Marathon – and near the street closures – so we went a bit south to Venice beach, thinking that we’d have an easier time with traffic and parking.

Which worked out very well. Plenty of parking, light traffic for those who drove (I rode my bike as I had to traverse the most congested part of Santa Monica to get to the beach).

And then we approached the water, and came face to face with 6 foot waves.

I’m not particularly fearful of the ocean once I get past the surf (if something gets me, it gets me. C’est la vie), but I get a little nervous in surf much higher than my head.

Okay, that’s an understatement. Any waves bigger than about three feet and I’m a panicky idiot who needs supervision to ensure I won’t do anything stupid.

Needless to say, I didn’t get past the surf, and the one swimmer who did had to come back because it took so long to get my heart rate down from ‘coked out hummingbird’ that we ran out of time.

I would have hung my head in shame, but my neck was too sore from getting tossed in the surf.

So, with my proverbial tail between my legs, I slunk off to breakfast and then decided, last-minute, to try to get some sort of workout in and make a yoga class at the gym.

As I was rushing out of the house and using my foot to keep the cat from running outside, I pulled the door shut and didn’t move my finger quite quickly enough.

So it got slammed in the door.

If you’ve never done this, I can assure you it’s excruciatingly painful.

After screaming a few choice words, I looked at said finger and saw the nail turning black.

I’m told that’s bad. There are numerous tutorials on the internet to deal with this in the comfort of your home, but since I am lucky enough to still have insurance, I can go have a doctor do that for me, for only the cost of a very pricey night out.

So instead of going to a yoga class, I went to urgent care.

Where the very nice doctor numbed up my finger (FOUR shots in the nerves) and drilled a hole through the nail to let the blood out.

If you’ve never had a doctor drill (actually, it’s a burn. They BURN a hole though the nail. The smell is… unfortunate. I may never eat again) into your nail, I can assure you it’s really gross and also – take the ‘digital block‘ option. You do NOT want the doctor burning through your fingernail with no pain meds. Trust me.

So now I have a hole in my fingernail. Surprisingly, it’s not that painful. It’s just gross, as we’re over 24 hours on and it’s still bleeding.

Eeeewwww.

Although I think the post-burning photo of the fingernail gushing blood is funny, I’ll be nice and post a photo taken today – the grossest thing about it now is how badly I need a manicure.

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Right now, it’s a pathetic excuse for pilot season here in Los Angeles, so although it’s busy, a day off isn’t a bad thing.

I’ll make work calls tomorrow.

Filed under: humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, , , , , , , ,

What’s a life got to do with it, anyway?

I suppose it’s not a huge secret that film sets aren’t exactly  the safest working environment. We routinely enter condemned buildings, work in extreme heat and/or cold (sometimes on the same day), navigate treacherous  footing, run cable through human waste, inhale asbestos and snack on lead paint chips (oh, wait. That’s just the ‘healthy’ baked potato chips. My bad).

In the past decade or so, there has been a concerted effort to make sets safer for everyone, and it’s been very successful.

But accidents sometimes still happen. Mostly those accidents are just that. Accidental. No fault, no blame just…Oops.

But sometimes, it is someone’s fault. In this particular case, a criminally negligent someone’s fault.

About a week ago, a film crew in Georgia were trying to get a shot for a Gregg Allman biopic – a dream sequence with a bed on railroad tracks.

At first it was just a terse announcement on some of the film-worker centric Facebook circles.

Camera assistant killed while shooting. No details.

Then, an ID. Sarah Elizabeth Jones, age 27.

Then, more details started to  emerge, and I began to suspect that this was going to get really bad.

Sadly, I was right. I hate being right.

The production company had requested a permit to shoot on the train tracks, and had been denied.

Someone decided to order the crew to set up the shot on the tracks anyhow.

Just stop and think about that for a second. Someone – we don’t know exactly who as the production company has suddenly gotten very, very tight-lipped and lawyered up – knew that they were not allowed to be on a live fucking rail line and decided to do it anyways.

A train came. About 15 minutes later, another train came. The crew began setting up, and in about 20 minutes, another train came. There was approximately one minute of warning. The crew tried desperately to clear the track in time, but one young woman was unable to do so and was struck while one of her co-workers tried to save her.

And died.

Died. For a stupid fucking movie. Produced by a fucking waste of carbon about a fucking has-been waste of carbon whose claim to fame is fucking Cher.

I jest, of course. The subject of the movie is completely irrelevant. It wouldn’t matter if it was a movie about a paralysed nun who saved a busload of adorable orphans from Nazis.

It’s not worth a life. Any life – even the life of someone who has chosen to wear a toolbelt and not get any glory or residuals.

The “Slates for Sarah” thing is very sweet, but the person who is responsible for this needs to suffer, and greatly.

Sadly, I don’t see that happening.

What I do see is (hopefully) more people saying ‘no’.

As in: “I’m sorry, Mr Producer. This isn’t safe. Oh, you want to fire me? Fine. I’ll live to work another day, and you can burn in Hell.”

Oh, wait. My bad. Burning in hell is too good for some people.

Filed under: mishaps, movies, rants, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Go on, say it.

Did I say I had steady work coming up?

Whoops.

What I meant was I thought I had a gig but the best boy made a change at the last-minute (as in the Friday before I was to start), and didn’t tell me.

These things happen, and I’m sure he had a good reason – there are so many folks who are really, really hurting right now. It’s possible that whoever replaced me is going to lose his/her house or insurance or become destitute save for this gig.

I’ll never know. It stings a bit, of course, but I just have to let it go and hope that it’ll all work out for the best.

It usually does (most of the time).

The first thing I did was get on the phone and start informing people I was available.

My “I need work” texts must have seemed sufficiently desperate as I’ve managed to scrape up one day this week, which is better than nothing,  but still…

Right now would be the appropriate time for the  ‘I told you so’ chorus.

Remind me to spend the rest of my life at financial DEFCON 1 no matter how well work is going.

On the bright side, I’m now officially too broke to drink so my liver gets a nice vacation. Hooray!

Filed under: mishaps, overspending, Work, , , , , ,

Everyone’s laughing at me but it’s okay.

For the past two weeks, the ocean has been terrific. Water temps in the mid-60s (balmy for the Pacific), and almost no surf.

So, some friends and I have been swimming just about every morning. We’re usually in the water around 6, at low tide, and we swim before the sun really gets blazing (the marine layer usually burns off around 10 am).

The water around here is normally cloudy – 10 feet of visibility is a big deal. This isn’t a bad thing. Cloudy water means one can’t see the bugaboos of the deep swimming beneath – or the used condoms and discarded shopping carts arranged into some sort of unholy fish henge.

But this morning everything was clear as crystal. We could see the sun coming up, the sandy bottom of the ocean and the school of fish swimming about 10 feet below us (presumably doing maintenance work).

As I was thinking what a wonderful view it was and how lucky we were to get the nice water, I heard a loud splash about a foot (30cm) from my head.

It was a pelican, diving to get at the fish.

I looked up at the Hitchcockian pod diving inches away (not an exaggeration) from the swimmers and started to wonder about the birds’ ‘wild’ status.

Here is where I have to admit that I’m not exactly crazy about birds. I don’t have any past traumatic experiences with them (other than freshly washed car poopings and a nip from an aunt’s parrot), they just make me… uneasy.

Especially when they’re rocketing into the ocean water inches from my head.

My swim partner suggested we get the hell out of there (“I’ve worked too hard to not be in the middle of the food chain!”), and I agreed.

No amount of beautiful water was worth getting a shit to the back of the wetsuit (pelican shit is some unbelievably foul stuff), or, worse, a beak to the back of the head.

As I spun around and headed towards the shore, I saw a blurry gray mass slide past my face (I refuse to pay for prescription swim goggles), followed by a fluke so close I could have bitten it.

I turned my head and briefly locked eyes with the dolphin.

If you’re holding your breath waiting for me to wax poetic about what a life-changing spiritual experience it was, you can exhale now.

It scared the hell out of me.

In case you were wondering, dolphins are fucking huge. This one was at least 6 feet (2m) long.  Plus, I think it was carrying a knife and a bag of bloody swim caps.

I attempted to exit the water by jumping straight up in the air, and making a noise that I’m told sounded like “GAAAAUUUGGGGHHHMMMFFFFF!”

I spun back around, only to see another dolphin pass about 3 feet (1m) behind my swim partner, who must have seen the reflection in my saucer-sized eyes, as she yelped and proceeded to swim like hell towards the beach.

Me: “Fuck you, don’t leave me!”

Swim partner: “I just have to outswim you!”

Bitch.

When we got to the beach, we both stood there for a few minutes while our heart rates dropped from hummingbird to normal and then decided to go back in – not into the deeper water, but just enough so that we weren’t carrying the memory of fear all day.

So we swam back out to not quite where the birds were, then came back in.

Where my swim partner stepped on a stingray.

She didn’t get stung – she just stepped on the ‘wing’ as the ray swam off, but she jumped and made a similar scream to mine.

We then decided to go back in, so we weren’t carrying the memory of Poseidon trying to murder us all day.

Third time’s the charm.

The birds had moved off, the water was clear and calm. We swam out to the buoy (about 200 yards offshore), hung out and enjoyed the view, and then swam back.

No dolphin attacks, no bird dive bombs, no lurking stingrays. Just a wonderful swim in the beautiful clear water.

When we came back up to the lifeguard tower where everyone keeps their stuff, one of the guys told me he’d been trying to get that close to a dolphin for years, and that I’d let everyone down by behaving in a cowardly manner.

He then imitated my shriek for good measure.

Easy for him to say. He didn’t see that bag of swim caps.

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, , , , , , , , ,

Nature hands me my ass

I had it all figured out for today – I was going to get up early, pack my lunch, and then walk the two blocks to the bus stop so I could save some gas and get that nice eco-smug feeling. What’s not to love?

The bus was due at 6:05 (have to be across town for a 7 am call), and as I was getting ready to leave, the cat started following me around and crying.

I picked her up and was petting her, then her eyes bulged and a veritable fountain of vomit erupted. She didn’t even make that ‘huk huk huk’ noise. Just puked.

It went everywhere.  Down my shirt, into my bra, in my hair where I turned my head to keep said puke out of my mouth.

Since I definitely didn’t want to spend the next 11 hours smelling like cat barf (or any barf, really), I peeled off my now very gross clothes and hopped in the shower.

So much for that bus ride.

After a frantic wash and clothing change, I looked at the time and went pale. I might make it, I might not, and one can never predict what the traffic’s going to do.

So, I texted the best boy with the information that I might be late because my cat barfed on me.

Worst. Excuse. Ever.

Shockingly, I made it to work with minutes to spare and we climbed up into the perms.

In response to a comment on the last post – not only do rigging crews not get lunch*, they don’t even get air conditioning.

The air is only turned on when the shooting company arrives. Since it’s currently July, it’s quite hot in the perms.

Our boss has made the very sensible decision that we’re only to be ‘up high’ before lunch, and then in the hottest part of the day we come down and do work on the floor (wiring fixtures, labelling equipment, etc…).

So the morning was all about sweat and sore muscles (after two days of carrying cable, I’m in serious pain), and the afternoon was all about frustration as we attempted to re-install some fixtures from last season in exactly the same places they were before.

The clock ran out before we finished, so we’ll have to try to pick it up tomorrow.

After we were dismissed, I walked out to my car, which was parked on the street as this particular lot has the most difficult parking ever so it’s  just easier.

I’d parked under a tree and the avian residents had left their calling card, so to speak.

Although the idea was to get back across town before the traffic got too bad, I had to stop and get the car washed, as I couldn’t see out of the windshield.

Damn animals.

*Film crews can either be on production, which means the shooting unit, or off production, which means anything not actively making the movie. On production means one gets free parking, free meals, climate control and craft service. Off production means you get reasonable hours (usually) and don’t have to carry a walkie, but you have to pay for your own food and parking (depending where you are. Paramount Studios, for example, charges for parking, but if you’re on production you get a voucher. Riggers have to suck up and pay it).

Filed under: long long drives, mishaps, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Newsflash…Children cause pain and suffering.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a favor job setting up a kid’s day camp. Which was fine – it’s good for the delinquents to get off the street, and I got grocery money.

Every little bit helps, right?

The only problem is that part of the job was lifting some fairly heavy boxes (unassembled bookshelves, mainly). Which was also fine, except that my partner in said lifting was a 17-year-old camp counselor who didn’t understand how to do things like communicate with a partner, or keep hanging on when asked to.

Me: “I’m going to  step back to get around this…”

Kid: “Step back?”

(loud crash and scream)

Box, meet toe.

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Sexy!

I can’t even be mad about it.

I’ve had more years than I care to admit to learn to do this stuff without killing my partner.  All of us who do this sort of thing for a living develop the understanding of how to work with a partner – how to communicate, how to read body language, how to walk backwards while carrying a slippery dimmer pack up equally slippery stairs, how to NOT LET GO.

But we all remember the day when we didn’t know it.

Just like the kid. And the feeling that one gets when one hurts a co-worker is terrible. So yelling wouldn’t have done anything other than crush Junior’s tender spirit.

Lucky for me, the toe’s not broken, it’s just… horrible. And kind of throbbing, but I’m so grossed out by the idea of stabbing it with  a needle that I’m just going to tough it out.

No sandals for me this summer!

Or, toenail polish, which I don’t normally wear, but I’m sure it’s better than the black blob.

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

Technology Wigs Me Out

One of the most horrible feelings in the world is the nausea-inducing panic of losing something that’s necessary to function and is a pain in the ass to replace.

Note that anything necessary to function is usually a pain in the ass to replace, although the key to the shed in the back where you keep the ladder that you only need once a year is an exception.

Since gas prices are rising (again) here in Southern California, I’ve opted to commute on my bicycle whenever possible in order to avoid pump-induced nausea and anger.

I really do enjoy riding the bike. Not only is it more economical, but I see a lot more interesting stuff when I’m not sealed in the car singing along to a certain teenybopper pop icon who keeps putting his feet into his adorable almost post-adolescent mouth.

The downside of bike commuting is that, in a way, it’s not as easy as driving. Instead of picking up the purse and locking the doors, I have to dig the locks (plural, since I’d like to keep said bike) out of my panniers, find a place to secure the bike, make sure anything that can be stolen is removed (bike computer, water bottle, super expensive blinky headlight that can blind astronauts in space), and then schlep the whole mess into wherever it is I’m going.

Sometimes I forget a step and leave something on the bike. Usually it’s the computer, but sometimes it’s the water bottle – call me paranoid but I feel weird about drinking from it after it’s been out in the world unsupervised – and sometimes it’s something more important.

The other day, I ran errands for most of the day, making numerous stops to pay bills, grocery up,  work in the garden, plot the demise of those goddamn squirrels, etc..

When I got home and discovered that I needed olives (hey, it’s not a martini without one), I dug in said panniers for my wallet.

Nothing. I dug again.

Still nothing.

I did that thing where I slapped my pockets.

Nothing.

Fuck.

So,  since I’m a sensible adult, I did the right thing and immediately called and cancelled my debit card.

I then sat a moment, thought about where I’d been and decided to retrace my steps.

First stop, the Whole Foods in Westwood.

Where the very nice lady at the customer service desk handed me the wallet that some kind person had turned in. Including the cards.

Awesome.

The worst part is that, since I technically did the right thing by cancelling the card, I couldn’t even be mad at myself. Just sheepish and grateful that there are still a few honest folks left in the cold, cruel world.

This morning, I went to the credit union and enquired about a replacement debit card, expecting to get the thing about waiting 10 days while they mailed it, etc.. Also, I wondered if they’d give me a refresher course in how to write a check, since it’s been so long I think I forgot.

“Sure thing!” the teller responded. “Fill out some paperwork and I’ll print one out right now.”

Wait. Print?

Turns out, they can print cards now. Actual credit cards. That work.

New debit card

They didn’t even charge me a service fee.

Freaky.

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, , , , , , , , ,

September 2014
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