Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Have yourself a hysterical re-gifted Christmas

Every now and then, I just have one of those days.

Like today.

The toilet’s stopped up and the landlord’s out of town, so every time I need to pee I have to hike up the street to the gas station that’s also used by the local, um, working girls who are really guys whenever they need to refresh their makeup. Hey, at least it gets me out of the house. After calling around and pricing plumbers, I’ve decided that I can certainly live with a walk up the street a few times a day until the landlord gets back and deals with it.

Around lunchtime, I decided to hop on the bike and take a longer trek to the gym, which happens to be next to a movie theater with really nice restrooms – you know, so I could workout, offload breakfast and see one of the end-of-the-year award-bait movies all in one trip (although not necessarily in that order).

At the gym, everything I wanted to use was either broken or covered in puddles of sweat. Really, people.. you’re not just carrying that towel for the hell of it.

Later, as the movie was letting out, I looked up at the leaden sky and decided the predicted rain was still far enough away that I could get in a bike ride.

Of course, I got completely soaked, and when I got home I discovered that the FedEx delivery person from hell had taken my package of prints that I’d ordered from Flickr so I could save money on Christmas gifts this year, folded it in half and crammed it partway into the mailbox where it had then gotten rained on.

So now, instead of having that smug “I beat the system” feeling,  I had a big stack of soggy fucked up photos.

I now regret my decision not to bother with any sort of plan B.

I then called FedEx to file an insurance claim, and when the rep asked for the exact monetary amount of the order, I couldn’t find the order confirmation email from Flickr. It wasn’t in the inbox, in the trash, on the desktop.

It was just completely fucking gone. Then I realized that I had to pee again, which meant a hike up the street in the rain and that’s when I started crying.

“What am I going to do?” I wailed “Now I don’t have anything for Christmas and I have to get on a plane Saturday morning! I can’t go shop at the mall! I’m out of work!”

The FedEx customer service rep went into “placate the crazy lady” mode and tried to calm me down, but by then I’d worked up a really good head of steam and  there was really nothing he could do besides tell me that I had 21 days to file a claim and that perhaps I should call back later after I’d calmed down.

I then completely lost my mind and demanded that someone from FedEx call my family and explain to them that this was not my fault.

The rep started laughing, and then I realized how silly I must have sounded and started laughing as well, and although I’m much calmer now I’m going to be digging around the house looking for some crap that I can slap some paper on and try to convince said family that I really thought they might like a T-shirt from the caterer on some TV show that no one’s ever seen and a promotional flashlight from last year’s buzz movie.

Ooo… I think I might have an unused wooden spoon somewhere. That might work. Or batteries. Everybody loves batteries.

Also, I would just like to go on the record as saying that I am now officially sick of Christmas music.

If I hear that fucking Carpenters song one. more. time. I am going to very calmly turn to the person standing next to me and strangle them.

Merry Christmas to you too.

Oh, and I saw Juno. It’s very cute and sweet, although I really don’t think it’s award material. Guess it’s been a slow year.

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

Yet more vacation photos

Although it was cold, I highly recommend visiting France in November – the few tourists there were were French, and although a lot of stuff was closed, what was open didn’t have any lines. We went through the caves at Lascaux and only had about 8 people in the group with us.

We got there before the caves opened and debated if we wanted to skip it or not, but it wasn’t like we could easily come back another day, so after I took some photos of the foggy forest, we drove back into the town and had breakfast.

Foggy morning in Lascaux

Fog and spiderwebs

The funny thing about the Lascaux caves is that it’s not really the cave – it’s a set that was built in the 1960′s because the real paintings were being destroyed by people being in the cave with them; which is why I was really surprised that they wouldn’t let me take photos even if I promised not to use a flash. It was an interesting tour, and then we went into the next town to see another cave.

This whole area of France is full of cave paintings and prehistoric findings. I guess the Neanderthals found it as pleasant a place as modern people do. What was really, well, funny for lack of a better word was that every single gift shop in the area had books about evolution (which makes sense given that the caves were painted during prehistoric times) – in the US, if you even mention evolution or Darwin you run the risk of some jackass running at you and beating you about the head and shoulders with a Bible (or a stick – whichever they have closest).

Of course, the museum of prehistory was closed for the winter, but we still got a good shot of the Neanderthal statue in the town of Les Eyzies de Tayac, which is a very pretty place. We also had some fantastic cassoulet at a roadside eatery while we were waiting for the second cave to open.

Neanderthal statue

River View

On the way to the second cave, we saw this guy:

Plastic Wrapped T Rex

Because no vacation is complete without a T Rex wrapped in garbage bags.

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

And the days keep slipping by.

 Part of the problem of being totally unemployed with no work prospects coming down the pipe is inertia – seems that the less I have to do, the less I’m able to do. I sink into a sort of slug-like state where it’s a Herculean effort just to haul myself up off the couch at all, and going to the gym feels like a grueling expedition to some far-off place.

When there’s work, I get a lot of stuff done because I know I only have the one day (or two days) to squeeze in everything – I get up, get moving and start going down the list of stuff (gym, laundry, projects, etc…)

Since my immediate future is a blank slate of nothing there’s no urgency to do anything. That, and I’m broke.

Well, not completely broke yet, but unemployment are dragging their feet about cutting me a check so I can’t even go out and do anything that costs any money (a great source of amusement which costs money is hanging out in Z-list celeb infested holes on weeknights. It’s way more entertaining – in a train wrecky kind of way – than anything that’s on TV. Really, now. Who raises these people? Wolves?). I’ve got some movie passes to some theaters, but everything I want to see is playing somewhere that doesn’t take the passes I bought at Universal the last time I worked there. Dammit.

At some point the awards season screenings will start, but I’m not even sure how many of those I’m going to care about enough to haul my ass outside.

I’d start squawking about a deal between the writers and the producers needing to happen, but honestly at this point it doesn’t matter – by now just about everyone’s scrapped the remainder of the season (it’s just a 4th quarter loss, after all), so I, at least, am completely fucked and not in a happy way.

Speaking of fucked in a happy way, the only romantic prospect on the horizon is a guy who… get ready for it… is in jail for DUI.

Him: “Can I call you when I get out of jail?”

Me: (heavy sigh) “Sure, why not?”

Friend (after hearing this): “Are you insane? He’s a drunk!”

Me: “Yeah, but he’s got all his teeth. That counts for something, right?”

On the vacation recap, the next couple of days consist of us getting hopelessly lost and swearing a lot. Someone – and I think it might have been me – actually burst into tears at one point.

Here’s some photos:

This was the first sunny day of the trip at the Chateau Chenonceau

Clouds above Chenonceau

View of Chateau Chenonceau

This is the town of Montrichard. Everything was closed because it was lunchtime in November.

Montrichard was closed

Montrichard Fountain

Montrichard Roses

On the bright side, I just did all my holiday shopping by ordering prints off Flickr.

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

Crosstown traffic and unexpected noises

Yesterday’s work day was at Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios, which is in Manhattan Beach (bet you didn’t see that one coming). Manhattan Beach is literally all the way across town from me – and involves travel on two of the most notoriously traffic-clogged freeways in the region (the 10 and the 405) – and yet, by using the sneaky surface street route, I made in to work in about 50 minutes (if I’d stayed on the freeway, it would have taken about an hour and a half to get there). A 7 am call time helped as well – with an 8 or 9 am call time at RMBS, there’s simply no route that will get me there in under two hours.

Yesterday was also a new crew (only one of whom I’d met before) and a new stage – when anyone comes into a set that they’ve never worked before, there’s a bit of confusion – where things are stashed, the best route through the set with a big light on a stand (which is too tall to roll through a normal height door), where the distro boxes are (they’re usually tucked behind walls, and more than once I’ve run power to a box 80 feet away, only to find out that there was a box hidden 10 feet away), things like that.

Luckily, whoever designed the rig on this stage was thinking – everything was hidden from camera, but in plain site from behind the set walls, and the other folks working the set were very helpful (and nice) and the day went smoothly.

Except that I’m now on the AD’s* shitlist for making noise during a take. But it’s not my fault – it was the coffeemaker, I swear.

This particular coffee machine had a little dispenser for hot water off to the side, and since I’m still croaking like a frog, I drank hot tea all day in an attempt to soothe my throat. Since I’m usually pretty good about gauging how much time I have before they call ‘rolling’ and I have to be quiet, I ran the hot water right before they rolled, figuring my tea could steep during the take when I had to be quiet – except that this machine made a weird pumping noise right after it finished dispensing water – and right after they’d rung the bell (the bell rings once at the start of the take, and twice when they’ve cut – that way, if you’re not anywhere near an AD, you still know when they’re rolling because the bell is really loud).

Whoops. I set my tea down and walked away very quickly, but I still got busted.

The day’s main topic of conversation in between takes was the impending rain – according to the news, it’s supposed to rain today (of course I just went outside to take the trash to the curb and it’s sunny and gorgeous) and you’d think the world was ending or something. It’s astounding what we just learn to live with here in LA – earthquakes, crime, smog, traffic, Brett Ratner – and yet the threat of water throws us into a panic.
Thanks to the world’s fastest director, we shot just under six pages in nine hours, and I got off work just in time to get stuck in traffic on the way home – but it was a gorgeous afternoon, so I didn’t mind sitting still and looking at the pretty clouds in the blue sky.

Wish me luck parking at the lot today. Since I opted to sit here and write while drinking tea instead of getting over there at the crack of dawn, I’m going to have a hard time of it.

* AD = Assistant Director. On TV shows, they’re the ones roaming around trying to make sure everyone stays quiet during takes. On movies, it’s a PA (production assistant), but for some reason TV shows don’t use as many PAs as movies do.

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Portable computing not at its best.

My poor little laptop – I bought it cheap off eBay so if something bad happened to it, I wouldn’t much care.

Perhaps that’s not the right way to phrase that – I’d care about a $200 laptop, but not nearly as much as I’d care about a $1200 laptop. So, today, when my computer refused to boot up, I was surprised to find that I cared very deeply indeed.

Not so much for the computer, but for the data which was now completely inaccessible – including drafts of some posts for LAist, about a million photos, a script and a half, and three quarters of a book.

Also, I’m back on the dimmer board tomorrow, so a laptop really helps with quick answers when the gaffer starts asking about obscure movie trivia in between set-ups.

Turns out, all I had to do was re-set the BIOS, which I found out on a computer forum after I’d freaked out and bought another cheap laptop off eBay (the idea being that I’d get the new laptop here, pull the hard drive out of the old one, burn the relevant data off to a CD and then sell the old laptop on ebay “for parts”).

Whoops.

Honestly, though – my laptop’s old so it’s probably not a bad thing to change it for a slightly newer (but still old) one before something even worse happens.

Filed under: computer, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Early arrival has some perks

When one works at this particular lot, one has to consider the garage factor into the arrival time.

This lot’s parking garage simply isn’t large enough for all the cars that need to park in it, so late arrivals have to use the valet service. While this may seem cushy, in reality it’s a huge pain in the ass. Since shooting companies work far later than do the valets, the solution is for the valet to park the car in a space that opens up after the garage empties out, and then take the keys to the front gate (on the other side of the lot from the garage) after the garage closes. If one is working on a stage that’s near the parking structure, this means that after wrap one has to traipse all the way across the lot to get the car keys, and then all the way back across the lot (while carrying all of ones work gear) to get back to the car.

Call me a whiner if you like, but after a 14 hour day that double walk across the lot seems more like a 400 mile hike while lugging a boulder.

So, for an 8 am call I got to the parking garage at 7:15 am, and that was almost too late – all the ‘good’ spots were gone, but at least I didn’t have to cruise the garage with my fingers crossed hoping against hope to find a spot that everyone else had overlooked, plus I had time to finish my coffee and stroll over to the stage and raid first unit’s craft service (since they were in an hour earlier than us and the main unit generally gets better stuff than the second unit).

While I was driving to work, I kept having this nagging feeling that I was forgetting something, and I kept going over my work gear checklist in my mind: change of shoes, change of socks, hat, tools, sunglasses, phone, etc..

I couldn’t figure it out until, of course, I’d gotten far enough away that I wouldn’t have been able to turn around and go back and then I remembered. My knee brace. I left it sitting on the bench next to the front door where I’d placed it so I wouldn’t forget it.

D’oh.

So it was really a good thing that I got put on the dimmer board (since the guy who was supposed to be running the board called in sick). I got to stay off my feet (the dimmer board is almost never on set – it’s usually in a small room somewhere, and the operator gets to sit down, although one generally can’t walk away from the board because as soon as the operator steps away, the gaffer will start adjusting light levels) and I didn’t have to do anything more complicated than bring up the lights the gaffer wanted (one can do incredibly complicated things with dimmer boards – but I’m a bit out of practice on this particular model, so requests for something complicated would have sent me frantically paging through the manual while trying to stall the gaffer) and only had to call the first unit dimmer board op a few times with questions. The rig in that stage hasn’t changed in so long that he doesn’t leave notes out because he’s got it all in his head, so every now and then I’d not know something and then have to call, but luckily our gaffer and the DP were calm and no one flipped out.

Plus, I managed to get out of the studio store without shopping myself broke.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fine, I’ll look on the damn bright side.

Although I don’t know how much of this list is optimism and how much is schadenfreude, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

Especially from me.

Here ya go:

1) At least I don’t live in the Western San Fernando Valley – if you think I’m whining about the heat now

2) At least I’m not a “pro-family” US Senator with a horrible voting record on gay rights who got popped (pun intended) for hitting on a male cop in an airport restroom (insert derisive snicker). Now there’s a guy with problems.

3) The cat has only thrown up one hairball this week. This is a vast improvement over last week, when she threw up about ten thousand hairballs and kindly left most of them right where I’d step in them during night-time trips to the loo.

4) The maintenance guy has switched from Eddie Money to the Eagles. I don’t really care for the Eagles much, but it’s a change and I have to take what I can get, right?

4) I’m working Friday, but it’s on a stage that’s air-conditioned to the point of qualifying as a meat locker with a crew of folks who, if I start acting bitchy, will just throw something at me and not take it personally. Yay!

5) The MRI for the right knee came back, and besides a bit of fluid, everything is normal. No torn anything, no weird tumors.

And, just for the record, I don’t hate France – I love France. Honestly, I can take or leave Paris, but the south of France is where I really fell in love with the country and the people (who were wonderful everywhere I went, and very patient with my atrocious French), even though every time I go there I gain about three metric tons from eating all the delicious food and drinking gallons of the local vin ordinaire.

Whenever I complain about the excess pounds, whoever I’m talking to gives that dismissive hand wave that only the French can do really well and says “Oh, there is always time to diet later. Here, have another croissant”.

Why, merci. Don’t mind if I do.

Stupid France and their stupid wonderful food and stupid delicious wine and cheese (which is so totally worth eating) and nice people and beautiful light and strong coffee.

Mmmm.. France. I need to go there right now.
But I can’t go to France any time soon because today I lashed out with Mr. Debit Card and bought a Nikon D40.

I blame Nezza for this.

Originally, I had only thought of buying the D80, which is WAY outside my price range, so I’d just looked at them, sighed wistfully and hoped that the DSLR fairies would someday leave one under my pillow if I were very, very good indeed, and moved on. Then, when Nezza mentioned a D40, I looked at it and thought it wasn’t so bad, so when I went by Samy’s Camera today to buy film for my ancient SLR, I saw the sale price on the D40 and before I knew it, I was walking out the door with one.

I hope you’re happy, Nezza.

Now I have a camera but I can’t make an impulse ticket purchase to Paris, where I’d jump on the train and go somewhere with fatty food and stunning beaches and cheap wine and fabulously attractive locals whom I’d probably ignore completely due to my being too busy stuffing my face.

Who am I kidding… Once I factor in the lost work, that would cost about a bazillion times more than a camera.

Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t use normal batteries, so I couldn’t just take it out of the box and start shooting (of course, there was a really awesome couch on the way home), but once it gets charged I’m going to try it out.

And, of course, if I don’t like it I’m going to muster all of my imaginary PMS anger and return it.

Filed under: camera, couches, life in LA, Nikon, Non-Work, Off-Topic, overspending, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April 2014
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Flickr Photos

Halfway through a wrap day

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

Electricity and water

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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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