Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Hooray! A computer!

After a return and about 15 angry emails, I now have a semi-working computer, which is great.

This one came with a bad SATA cable, but I yanked a good one out of the old machine and it’s fine.

It’s going to have to be fine.  I can’t deal with another return. I’ll murder someone.

What’s also great is that I’ve got a show. Not day playing on a show, but full-time on a show that’s running for 9 weeks.

It’ll take me through Thanksgiving, and it’s shooting at Sony, which is close to my apartment – not as close as Fox, but still under half an hour in the car and once it cools off I’ll be able to bike to work in about 40 minutes.

Sweet.

Since I’m going to be at the same lot for nine weeks, I decided to splurge and join the on-lot gym as it’s right there and instead of going to my gym and then driving back to work I can just show up early, work out and then go hit crafty (hey, I deserve it. I worked out). Also, being able to take a shower after a bike ride to work is awesome.

There’s been this big thing with the studios of going ‘green’ – not allowing bottled water on sets, replacing lawns with fake grass, etc… but not one of them have set ups for bike commuters (lockers and showers), which seems to me would be pretty fucking green.

Guess they can’t get tax credits for having non-smelly bike commuters.

So after work today I waltzed over to the gym, credit card in hand, ready to sign up and work out.

Turns out, it doesn’t work like that.

One has to leave one’s email at the front desk with one’s name, show, guild or union affiliation, and email.

Then, after checking out your (probably bullshit, you sweaty fucking liar) story, someone will contact you and inform you of their decision.

In my case, the powers-that-be have deigned to allow me access.

Hooray.

Before I can go and work out, though, I must fill out a questionnaire, about my medical history, my family’s medical history, my workout history and general fat-assedness, and my primary care physician’s contact information.

Then, in block text, they WILL CONTACT MY PHYSICIAN TO DETERMINE IF I AM ABLE TO BEGIN A WORKOUT PROGRAM.

That one made me blink.

Begin? Begin?

Not to give away my age here, but I began a workout program when leg warmers and butt floss were acceptable gym-wear.

Except for the occasional surgery or distant location, I’ve never stopped working out.

I’ve never stopped riding my bike whenever possible.

I’ve never stopped trying to swim the stress away.

I’ve never stopped working out my problems by lifting weights.

So I have to decide if I want to attach a snarky letter to my application or let them call my doctor and let him be snarky.

I think I should let him be snarky. He so rarely gets the chance.

 

 

Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, movies, overspending, rants, studio lots, Work, , , , , , ,

The day after the day after the day after the fifth of May

As the Cinco De Mayo cleanup winds down and the city sweeps away the piles of vomit and cheap plastic novelty sombreros from the streets, the annual panic to get enough hours to keep the health insurance ensues.

As I’ve mentioned before, we have to work a certain number of hours per semester to keep our health insurance. For years, this was 300. Recently, in an effort to force as many people as possible off the insurance, the producers upped that to 400.

800 hours a year doesn’t sound like that much, until you remember that most of us don’t work full-time – we bounce around, and even when we’re full-time on a show, we don’t work the whole year.

So it’s not as easy as it seems.

I have to call tomorrow and find out for sure, but I think I’m about 30 hours short – which doesn’t seem like much except that I have to get them by the end of June and there’s currently not very much work.

It used to be that when TV ended, the low-budget movies would start up, and although no one really liked working for the tier 1 wages (the less they pay you, the worse they treat you), it filled out our bank accounts and qualifying hours nicely.

Now, there’s nothing. Other states, deciding they want some of the magic movie money, are handing taxpayer dollars over to studios in the form of subsidies (or, as we like to call them, bribes) to re-locate the productions to their states.

I’m certainly not begrudging anyone else any work, mind you. We all need to make a living.

I just miss the days when it was easy to get and I didn’t spend so much time worrying about if I’m going to keep my insurance.

Actually, scratch that. I know I’m going to lose it. It’s just a question of how long I can hang on.

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, , , , , , , , ,

A Contagious Christmas

This has been the busiest December I’ve had in a long time. I worked almost every day, which was great, and thought that I’d managed to avoid the Holiday Death Plague currently being passed around here in Los Angeles.

Said plague featured a combination of the worst head cold one could possibly imagine and a tubercular cough that, like house guests, just won’t go the fuck away.

I was feeling pretty smug – I had three days of work the week before Christmas, no days of sickness, and one day off before I had to get on a plane to go visit the family and overeat.

Wednesday promised to be great – due to the slowest director in the world, we were going to get a hefty check, production were buying lunch, and holiday cookies were plentiful.

Mid-morning, one of our extras started to cough. I didn’t think much about it – after all I’d not gotten sick yet, which must have meant I was immune to the Holiday Death Plague. Throughout the day, her cough got worse and worse, and by mid-afternoon almost 20 people on set (including me) were starting to cough.

Refusing to believe that I was getting sick, I attributed it to dust from when I had to go up into the perms to drop out some power for a new set, but as I was driving home I finally had to admit to myself that the Death Plague had, in fact, won.

So, I spent the holiday sniffling, hacking and wheezing while stuffing my face full of fatty food and sweets. The day before I was to leave, my sister started coughing.

Whoops.

As of now, the head cold portion of the program is gone, but the cough is still lingering and frightening anyone who comes anywhere near me. I hope it’s gone before the middle of next week, which is when I have to work.

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

How to gain back all the weight you lost when you had food poisoning

Chess Pie

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Combine all ingredients in bowl and whisk until smooth
  • Pour into lined pie shell and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and center is set when touched with finger, 55 – 60 minutes.
  • Cool before serving

This is sickeningly sweet and unbelievably delicious. I only eat it when I’m back home and my favorite aunt makes it (which she does better than anyone else on the planet).

Between this, the turkey, the dressing (my sister snarled at me when I called it ‘stuffing’. Apparently, stuffing is declasse these days), the eggnog, the three gallons of gravy and all the other crap I ate while I was gone I’ve gained back that 5 pounds.

Oh, well.

Since I still don’t have a car and am having to bike everywhere I should lose it quickly, although since I have a sneaky suspicion that they’re not going to be able to fix my car and I’m going to have to buy another one (a thought that makes me very unhappy) I really feel like consoling myself with chess pie and rum-laced eggnog.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , ,

Happy holidays, everyone!

I’ll spend tomorrow crammed into an airplane being sneezed on by my seatmate, and will spend a few days listening to the same old stories and arguments that I’ve heard a hundred times before.

Also, my sister has informed me that it’s really, really cold where I’m going – which should be fun as I don’t own any clothing that’s suitable for weather hovering near 0 degrees since I live in Southern California.

Hope all of you have a very happy holiday, whichever one you celebrate.  I’ll be back on Saturday.

In the meantime,  enjoy this short video that’s been making the email rounds:

http://video.canadiancontent.net/96156021-sugar-grip-fairy.html

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , ,

My big fat Thanksgiving hangover

It was the deviled eggs that did me in.

Thursday, I had dinner at a friend’s house. Earlier in the year, we’d decided that since times are tough all over, we’d do a potluck this year – normally my friend does all the cooking and won’t let anyone help, but this year she gave in to peer pressure and just did the turkey while everyone else handled the sides and desserts.

One friend brought deviled eggs. I love deviled eggs – even the garden variety pickle juice/paprika kind. I’d eat them all day, every day were I not so afraid of cholesterol poisoning. I’d have been happy to see any kind of deviled egg on the table, but Ms. Overachiever went all out and did three kinds: Curry deviled eggs, BLT deviled eggs, and Caesar deviled eggs.

Oh. My. God.

I scarfed.  And I drank, since the beaujolais nouveau is out. Then, our hostess brought out the heritage turkey- which I guess means ‘weapons grade tryptophan’ because about five minutes after I shoveled it into my gaping maw (amazing I had room after all those eggs) I needed a nap.

Note to non-Americans: You’ll see a lot of gibberish about Thanksgiving being a holiday about family time and togetherness and all that Currier and Ives misty-eyed nostalgia crap. It’s a PR stunt, so feel free to ignore it. Thanksgiving is about food. And eating as much of it as possible. It’s the one time when outright gluttony is not only excusable, it’s expected.

So we eat. And eat and eat and eat.

Friday I felt like one of those giant Macy’s parade balloons – even rolling out of bed was a supreme effort. I went to the gym and struggled through a rudimentary workout and a pitiful excuse for a swim, but I felt better afterwards.

Shame the feel-good moment was just that. A moment. On the way home from the gym, I stopped into a local cooking store looking for muffin pans, and spied Vacherin cheese, which is extremely tasty and until recently was illegal in the US (or so I thought) but there it was and I couldn’t resist.

Yes, I know what cheese does to me. Sometimes it’s totally worth it.

Saturday I really wanted to go out, but I was busy eating cheese and drinking the rest of the wine – hey, it’s new wine. It doesn’t keep. I have to drink it.

Sunday, in an example of really bad planning, there was a Jonas brothers concert on the same day as the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The annual parade closes many streets in Hollywood and creates a traffic snarl that must be seen to be believed, which, combined with several thousand hysterical tweens running amok in the streets makes for.. well, I’m not sure but I’m glad I didn’t have to drive.

I walked around and took some photos and chatted with some of the really nice folks who were participating in the parade, and then dragged my cheese-bloated carcass home.

Total weight gain for my holiday weekend bacchanal (with optional pig-out package): 2.5 lbs.

Could have been worse.

I’m eating extra healthy this week and going to the gym every day to work off those damn eggs.

Mmm… deviled eggs… I wish I had some right now.

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

Boo! It’s Friday Photo!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Happy Halloween!

I’ll be at work tonight so I won’t have to worry about giving out candy, which is good since I didn’t buy any.

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

Stop me before I kill again.

Although I really wanted to grab the camera, hop in the car and go somewhere scenic and cooler than LA (like up to the redwoods), since unnecessary driving is no longer on the agenda around here I decided to use my holiday weekend to catch up on some of the around-the-house type stuff I’ve been putting off.

My project this weekend was installing some shelving in what I generously refer to as the ‘office’. Really, it’s what is called in Los Angeles apartment nomenclature as a “junior bedroom”, which really means a large closet used to justify a ‘2 bedroom’ rating and thus more rent. Of course, I don’t use it as an office so much as a repository for the flotsam that doesn’t have anywhere else to go – most of which is books, so shelves would give the appearance that I’m organized. Or at least that I care.

So, I drove up into the valley, fought the crowds at the local Swedish furniture warehouse, bought some of the unfinished wood shelving, wrestled it into the truck and somehow got it home.

I decided against trying to finish the shelves – the humidity is still at tropical levels around here, so I’m guessing it would take the varnish about 30 years to dry completely, and it’s still way too hot to even think about sanding anything.

If you’ve never purchased furniture from said Swedish furniture warehouse, it’s all flat-packed and has to be assembled with some of the most fucked-up instructions I’ve ever seen. In an attempt to only print one set of instructions for the entire world, they’ve decided that hieroglyphs are the best choice of instruction for assemble-at-home furniture. There are little line drawings of bits of what I can only assume are the shelves being attached to each other with a hexagonal bolts (wrench not included, of course. Thankfully I happen to have a socket set and a power drill).

The main problem is that the recommended method of assembly and installation is simply not physically possible.

I don’t mean ‘difficult for one person’ or ‘impossible after a few drinks’. I mean it’s not physically possible to put the fucking shelves together the way the stick figures are doing it in the little paper.

Although the idea that the furniture should be assembled while flat on the floor and then ‘Iwo Jima-ed‘ into place looks great on paper, I knew from the get-go that it wasn’t going to go well as I purchased a configuration that has corner pieces, since I needed shelving on perpendicular walls.

If the hieroglyphs were to be believed,  the shelving units also had to be connected to one another for structural integrity which made my original plan of just building them individually and bolting them to the wall unworkable.

I decide to try the recommended method of building them flat on the floor first, and it went well until I got to the corner piece, where it became completely impossible to build as the floor was no longer supporting anything, and to lift and a corner shelving unit with one half-assembled end sticking straight up into the air is surprisingly heavy and unbelievably awkward. Several attempts to lift the thing resulted in a nasty bump on the head, a cut on the shin and several deep gouges in the wood floor.

I then threatened to kill the person who had drawn the instructions.

Next, I tried to just assemble the back side, lift that into place and then bolt the front uprights onto the units while they were, well, upright. That failed as well and resulted in my threatening to find and kill whoever designed the damn things in the first place.

By this time the cat and my neighbor had both wisely hidden (guess the screamed obscenities rattled them. The neighbor, at least. I would imagine the cat’s used to them by now) somewhere while I had a temper tantrum, threw some things, threatened to kill a few more Swedes just for practice and then decided that if I’ve ever really, truly needed a drink, that was the time – medication be damned.

After I’d calmed down, I made the trek back up to the store, bought extra uprights and made each section a stand alone bookcase, lined them up and bolted everything to the wall, despite the warnings from the store’s personnel that this would create a dark, unstable-shelving magic which would lead to a politician selecting a completely unqualified redneck as a running mate in the presidential race…

Whoops.

Sorry about that. But I did get the shelves in and they’re loaded up with books (and camera gear, and painting stuff) and they’re still holding.

So far, I’ve only got one day of work this week, but it’s a short week so I didn’t have my hopes up to begin with.

How was your weekend?

Filed under: cranky, humor, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hard Outs

Certain parts of Los Angeles have decided that film crews are a giant nuisance and have enacted laws to rein in the madness. Most of these areas are, of course, the areas where everyone wants to shoot because they aren’t instantly recognizable as Los Angeles.

One of these areas is the city of Pasadena, who, in a desperate bid to save their citizens from the horror of late-night shoots, have declared that any shooting in the city must be over by 10 pm – and that’s not ‘stop shooting at 10 pm unless you slip someone a couple of Benjamins’ like it is in certain parts of town. That’s a hard out, or ‘taillights’ by 10. That means that the dirty movie people and their accompanying cluster fuck must be on the freeway hightailing it out of town by 10 pm on weeknights. Period. No extensions.

This is fine with most of us. It guarantees that we won’t have a terribly late night, but sometimes the powers that be forget exactly how long it takes to stuff all that gear back into the truck and they do something like shoot until 9:30 and expect us to cram a two-hour wrap into 20 minutes (remember, that’s driving away at 10 pm, not cramming the last cart onto the truck at 10 pm).

Last night, we were graciously given almost hour to wrap our scattered gear (much of which was on a rooftop and had to be lowered down, which only happens quickly if we don’t care if the stuff breaks) back onto the trucks.

Too bad it took us 90 minutes to wrap.

If we’d been able to get our 48-footer down next to the location itself, we probably would have made it in the allotted time, but since the trucks were in a parking lot a few hundred yards away from the location (connected by a steep winding driveway), we had to wrap the gear, load the carts, push the carts onto a smaller stakebed, drive up the hill and then load the stuff into the big truck. Lather, rinse, repeat as the clock runs out.

Which meant that the trucks couldn’t roll that night – our driver told me that if they were caught on the city streets after our out time not only would the production company be fined, but the drivers would be ticketed as well.

So instead of making the move to the next location at night when there’s less traffic, the drivers were going to have to report to work a few hours early and drive the trucks to the next location early in the morning instead.

Luckily, it’s a long weekend this weekend in celebration of Labor Day, which celebrates the formation of unions* so the workers don’t get screwed by management anym… oh, wait.

Enjoy the extra day off anyways if you’re in the US. If you’re not – enjoy that day off in May that we don’t get here.

*Not so much, actually. Labor Day was never anything other than a day off for the downtrodden worker organized by the unions in the 19th century, but I’m more than willing to exaggerate if it helps me work a joke.

Filed under: Work, , , ,

Happy holiday weekend, everyone!

Although I’d love to be able to jet off to somewhere exciting and fun over the holiday weekend, economic uncertainty and high gas prices (for us. You Europeans can stop snickering now, thanks) mean that I’ll be staying home this weekend, dodging bullets.

No, really.

In certain areas of Los Angeles, the locals celebrate major holidays (4th of July, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, tax refund checks) by firing guns into the air at random intervals from dusk until they get tired or run out of ammunition, whichever comes first.

The funny thing is that I never even realized it was gunfire until someone told me – I always thought it was fireworks. The only time I ever heard gunfire that I knew without looking was a gun was when one of my neighbors fired off a shotgun – not in the air, though. He thought he saw a prowler which later turned out to be a stray cat. Guess it’s a good thing he’s a bad shot.

That, and machine gun fire on set, which is really loud and scares the crap out of me even though I know it’s not real.

This weekend, I’m going to a pool party (so many friends with pools who will never let me come over and swim – I have to wait for parties), a birthday (not mine so I have to find a cheap or free gift), and I’m going to try to go see the Hunter S. Thompson documentary since I do worship at the temple of Gonzo.

Hope everyone has a great weekend full of greasy food that’s been cooked outdoors!

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , ,

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