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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , ,

The Streets of Beverly Hills

For the past few months, I’ve been taking part in a visual survey documenting road hazards for cyclists in Los Angeles.

That translates into riding my bike around and taking pictures of the shitty roads crisscrossing our fair city.

I don’t understand when and why Los Angeles county decided that having usable roads was near the bottom of the priority list, but cycling here can be an adventure.

There’s a choice if one is going to commute by bike – road tires or fat knobby mountain tires? There are advantages to both. The road tires, which is what I ride on, roll easier so you can go further, faster with less effort, but the fat tires can roll over the city’s plentiful potholes with less of the breaking and crashing.

I like the lower rolling resistance of the road tires – I made my choice, and I’m happy with it, but I do have to worry more about pavement than do the mountain bikers.

Today, as I was riding home from the garden, I spotted this:

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And this:

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And this:

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Oh, and this:

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And last but not least, this beauty:

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These are not so much potholes as they are small canyons. All of them on the same 2 mile stretch of road in the glamorous metropolis of Beverly Hills.

I’m not even sure a mountain bike could roll over those top two, and while I can roll over the last one I’m not sure I’d be able to keep all of my fillings in my head.

So what I have to do – since this stretch of road has no sidewalks – is veer out around the potholes into the path of the luxury SUV driven by the guy talking on the cellphone and simmering road rage.

There’s a residential street just north which has better pavement, but since there’s a stop sign every block it’s slow and frustrating.

Happily, though, the roadway is due for a reconstruction project which will mean a complete repaving (not just shitty asphalt patches), and there seems to be support for bike lane striping.

This is especially wonderful news since Beverly Hills has historically been, um, resistant to bike lane striping (and bike racks, and people on bicycles), even though the city’s streets are wide enough to accommodate bike lanes without giving up traffic lanes or parking (both are legitimate concerns for motorists).

But of course, the consultants hired recommended some weird mixed use travel lane which will just put cyclists and other undesirables in a center lane and right in the path of angry drivers.

But until whatever happens happens, I’ll still marvel at the crappiness of the street right in the middle of Beverly Hills.

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

Good times are rolling

My job’s actually starting next week  – whoops!

Over the past few years, as work has gotten less plentiful I’ve become really conscious of cash outflow, but since I’ve got a job starting, I’ve been playing a bit fast and loose with the bank account.

I’ve been swimming in the ocean several times a week – the temperature is a balmy 59, but it’s not that bad once you get moving. Our swim group goes to a coffee shop after we get out (hey, we’re cold!), so I’ve been buying quite a few breakfasts.  I’ve also been paying to park in the beach lot, which I usually try to avoid at all costs.

We have a pile of new cat toys, I’ve been driving the car and burning gas,  I have a new wetsuit (and a thermal cap and booties. That water is cold), the fridge is well stocked with tasty stuff, and I’ve been drinking the good wine.

Later this year when it’s dead and I’m in panic mode, I’m going to regret the hell out of this money hemorrhage, and you all can feel free to let loose with a rousing chorus of “I told you so” but sometimes it’s really nice to not worry about anything and just live.

In case you’re wondering, swimming in the ocean in the winter is pretty awesome. The water is super clear (visibility in the Pacific is usually about three inches, but now we can see the bottom in 30+ feet of water), and there’s no one out there but the few of us who are, well, crazy. Or hardy. Pick your explanation.

I’ll worry later. I’m having fun right now.

 

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

Friday Photo

Where I live now, there just aren’t that many couches left out by the curb – or the trash collection are more efficient, but either way there’s not much to put on the couch blog anymore.

But every now and then, I see one.

Like today:

 

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It didn’t show up on the picture (damn iPhone), but that note reads ‘Free’.

No idea if the creepy naked doll is included.

 

You’re welcome.

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

Sometimes I don’t want to be right

I was really hoping my prediction about getting all my week’s calls for the same day was going to be wrong.

Nope – four calls for Tuesday and then nothing for the rest of the week.  Not ideal, but not a bad thing, either, as yesterday it started to rain and, predictably, all of Los Angeles went into panic mode and the terrifyingly wet streets.

So I cleaned the apartment, did the laundry, did some work on a side project that’s been keeping me too busy to write posts as often as I’d like, brushed the cat and got my annual physical (my cholesterol is good but my blood pressure has me at death’s door in the next week or two. Damn parents. This is their fault).

Since next Thursday is a holiday, there will only be three work days next week so although I’ll be happy to get some work I’m not holding my breath.

Since I’ve been roped into doing some cooking for Thanksgiving (cornbread, herb rolls, carrot cranberry salad and kale chips), it might not be bad to at the very least have Wednesday off.  The cornbread’s my great-grandmother’s recipe and has to be started Tuesday as the cornmeal needs to ferment (I know, it sounds gross, but it’s really good).

We’ll see. I’ll be happy for any day I get.

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

Write? I’m lucky I can stay awake

To say that it’s been a tough few weeks would be an understatement.

I’m in my last week of the dimmer board gig, and my brain still hurts when I come home at night – the three camera shows are a lot busier for board ops than are the single cameras.

The entire formula for a multi camera sitcom is entirely different from regular single cameras.

They only shoot two days a week – one ‘block and shoot’ day and one audience day.

The block and shoot days are usually swing sets and anything that’s got an effect that might go horribly wrong in front of an audience. On the block and shoot days, the crew standing around will laugh at the scripted jokes while the cameras (and sound) are rolling, which I swear I will never, ever manage to get used to.

The audience days are the really stressful days for me. We come in late morning, rehearse, do some more blocking and more lighting, and then they load in the audience and we run the show in sequence – meaning we start with scene A and go until the end. The stuff that was shot on the previous day is played on monitors while the lights in the sets are dimmed down. By me. In real time.

Usually with the video playback people yelling ‘playback’ in one ear and the gaffer yelling ‘playback’ in the other.

Lucky for me everyone has been remarkably patient with me, even when I melted down and threatened to fill a co-workers underpants with that bowl of mayonnaise that had been sitting, un-refrigerated, on the crafty table all day.

The other three days of the week are rigging – a brand new rig every week, with brand new cues and brand new opportunities to let it all get away from me.

At least I can say I really know this board now. Not well enough for theater, mind you, but well enough for what I’m going to need to use it for.

On the home front, the cat is unwell.

Her kidneys are starting to fail, so I’ve been having to give her fluids under the skin.

The vet made this look so very easy, but honestly I really need a third hand to manage it. One hand to hold the cat, one hand to manage the disturbingly large needle and one hand to fend off the claws.

It was only moderately difficult when she wasn’t feeling well, but now that she’s got some spunk back, it’s like trying to hang on to, well, a cat. A squirmy cat. With teeth. And claws. And a grudge.

She’s also decided that she will only eat liverwurst and canned salmon – not the cheap canned salmon, either. The Alaskan wild-caught $5 per can stuff.

And since I know she hasn’t got much time left, I can’t say no.

So I pay it and grumble about it and then I sit and praise her while she eats, as she’s down to 5.5 lbs (2.5 kilos) from 8.5 (3.8 kilos), so every bite counts.

Since a kitty picture is going to make me too sad, here’s a shot of an outdoor Zumba class from CicLAvia:

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

Slightly damp Friday Photo

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This is not my apartment building. It’s the building across the alley, who sometimes (often, actually) leave the pool gate open.

I see nothing wrong with taking advantage of this, especially on a hot night.  The pool’s not really heated, so it’s a very refreshing change from sweltering in my living room.

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

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, , , , , , , , ,

You lose some, you win some.

I love fava beans. Love them. Fresh much more so than dried.

So every year I plant them in my garden. Some years are better than others – but most of the time I get at least 20 lbs. of beans.

This year started off looking promising. In addition to the perennialized beans that come up year after year, I’d planted two other varieties that I’d purchased from Baker Creek Seed Company and things were growing well. I thought perhaps it was looking like a 50 lb. year.

Then, the weather turned dry. Dry for Southern California, which is very, very dry indeed.

The rats (they’re everywhere in the city – in the trees, in the hedges, in your crawl space. Don’t think you don’t have them because you do), understandably desperate for water, turned to my fava beans.

And destroyed them.

My total yield for the year? 12 lbs. I ate what I had and didn’t share (normally I can, dry, or give away as much as I keep) and was very, very disappointed indeed. I think there weren’t even enough beans left to seed  for next year, so I’m going to have to start fresh in the winter.

At the same time, I planted scarlet runner beans. I’d never planted them before, and they went crazy in my garden. Because I didn’t  trellis them properly (not enough room. The vines supposedly only grow to 6 feet, but mine are closer to 10), they’ve formed a sort of thicket (which is overtaking my garden – I’ve had to get the shears and cut back to save the life of an innocent tomato), and now the beans are getting ready to harvest.

I won’t get 50 lbs, but I’ll probably get 20.

Scarlet Runner Beans

These are the first of the beans. When  I was reaching into the plant to grab the pods,  I found a hummingbird nest – abandoned, as babies and mama have moved on, but still awesome.

I did have someone tell me that beans inhibit the growth of tomato plants, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The tomatoes that are near the bean thicket are growing really quickly and are super healthy.

I have two weeks of work starting the 15th. It’s all the way across town, but it’s work and  I’m incredibly grateful for it.

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

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