Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

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, , , , ,

Traffic

I will never understand traffic patterns in Los Angeles if I live to be 100.
Yesterday, as I was drinking my morning coffee and watching the amazing commercial-free BBC Olympics feed via a proxy server (NBC will never stop sucking, so why fight it?),  the best boy of Doctors in Love texted me wanting to know if I could come in to cover someone who called in sick.

The answer, of course, was yes, but since Doctors in Love shoots almost, but not quite, all the way across the city, I figured I was in for an incredibly annoying two-hour drive.

Not so much.

I threw on some clothes, headed out the door and didn’t get stuck in any traffic at all.

I’m not kidding. 8 am – the height of rush hour in one of the most traffic-clogged cities on planet Earth and there was no traffic. At all.

I travelled from my house to the set in under an hour.

This, or course,  made me nervously scan the sky for horsemen as I drove onto the lot.

Finding none, I parked, grabbed a walkie and proceeded to have a wonderful day working with people who I like a whole lot and don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Then, driving home at 10 pm on a Tuesday, I got stuck in traffic for an hour and a half.

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

CicLAvia!!

I love CicLAvia.

I’d love it in any other city, but the fact that car-crazed Los Angeles actually closes streets to traffic so a bunch of bike-riding deadbeats can have fun is nothing short of amazing, and makes me giggle like some sort of a super-villian.

Every time the event is held, it gets bigger and bigger, so clearly I’m not the only one who enjoys it.

This year, it was really crowded, but still fun. Since pictures are supposedly worth a thousand words, please enjoy a novel:

Stationary cyclists

Photo OP

4th st bridge

Pinata District

Double Dutch

Traffic jam

Bike Polo!!!

parking problems

Power Rangers!

Fire hydrant, drinking fountain

Next event is October 14. Awesome.

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

Wow, things got busy!

There I was, expecting the usual not-so-busy December, and out of nowhere suddenly work is going gangbusters. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just… unexpected.

I’m bouncing back and forth between two shows crewed by awesome folks that I love to work with – a one-hour ensemble drama (let’s call it Been Done Before) and Yet Another Cop Show.

The two have been syncing up nicely. This week, I have four days rigging on Been Done Before, and Friday working the set on Yet Another Cop Show.

Since BDB is rigging, the hours are shorter (normally not over 10 hours), except today which was a bit longer because we had to rig at the world’s smallest loft.  Had we a cat handy, there wouldn’t have been room to swing it. Seeing a largish production trying to cram a crew into the space was probably hilarious, but I’ve very glad I didn’t have to work the set.

After helping the shooting crew move to the loft (the day’s second location), we went back to wrap our first location at the old LA Times building.  We were shooting in the currently unused Chandler-era executive offices on the top floor in a room called the Round Table – which features, unsurprisingly, a big round table. You’ve seen it in about a bazillion movies.

I really do believe that being honest (within reason) is the best way to live one’s life, but I have to tell you all – had there been a way for me to sneak the original Paul Horiuchi painting out of the building, I’d have done it. It’s just hanging on the wall in an empty office, making no one happy instead of inspiring joy and general well-being, which is a painting’s job.

Oh, well.

Once we’d gotten the shooting crew moved and wrapped, it was right in the middle of rush hour, so a co-worker and I went and had some Pho at a place around the corner from the Times building. Hot noodle soup is perfect on a cold night.

By the time we finished eating, the traffic had died down enough for me to venture onto the freeway towards home.

Tomorrow, we’re wrapping the world’s smallest loft, which shouldn’t take very long, and then Friday, it’ll be a split on YACS.

Five days this week! Yay!!!

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , , , ,

Weekend Photos

Of course the collective freakout and mass exodus meant empty streets and quiet (oh, how quiet it was. Like a little slice of heaven).  The few people left in town proceeded to take photos of the empty freeway, just because it’s so very disconcerting to see it like this. Between empty roads and the silence,  it almost felt like living through The Omega Man. Only, you know, without the vampires.

We should do it every weekend!

The 405, empty

The 405, empty

The 405, empty

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

The four wheels of the apocalypse

Here in Los Angeles, we love our cars. Really, really love them. We do anything we can to avoid using our feet, our legs, or any form of public transit. Should we need to reach some far (or near) destination, we travel via our network of free highways (“freeways” for those of you not familiar with Southern California automotive nomenclature).  They’re clogged with traffic, marred with graffiti, strewn with trash and king-sized potholes, but eventually they get us where we want to go.

It’s a love/hate relationship, and although they make us miserable at times, we just can’t imagine life without them.

Until this coming weekend, when CalTrans will close – that’s close as in completely shut down – a 10 mile section of the 405, one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, if not the world.

To our car-centric culture, this is nothing short of a Biblical-sized catastrophe.

Carmageddon. The Sepulcalypse*.  We collectively flap our hands and hyper-ventilate as we contemplate the idea of not being able to drive.

The newsbots have been raising the alarm about this for weeks, and now the city of LA has resorted to the awesome power of faded television stars to try to calm the masses:

Said masses obstinately refuse to be calm and now hysterical panic is sweeping the city.

Many people are planning, like rats fleeing a sinking ship, to leave town.

“Yeah, we’re just going to drive up the coast Friday, get a hotel for the weekend and just chill out.”

“Wait. You’re driving to a hotel where you’re just going to sit around all weekend? Why not just stay home?”

“Stay home? What if we have to drive somewhere?”

And so it goes.

Unfortunately for me,  I now live west of the 405, and some surface streets in my neighborhood will be closed, making any sort of vehicular egress on my part impossible.

I won’t be able to make the union meeting (on the other side of town, of course) on Saturday or to the three parties downtown, so I plan to do my commuting to the beach on my bicycle.

And take photos of what will be either hilarious chaos or  eerily empty streets.

*The surface street alternative to the 405 is Sepulveda Blvd, which will not be closed, but might as well be, since no one has any illusions about traffic moving at anything faster than a painfully slow crawl.

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

Shooting the poop

Today’s work involved poop. Not the rhetorical kind, the real (well, movie real, which we all know isn’t the same as real real) kind. The rodent kind.

Hero waves flashlight (not a normal one, a special movie one) around, discovers said poop, proves some plot point. Or something. I kinda zone out whenever I try to read the script.

Aside from the fact that shooting poop – even fake poop – is a ‘gimme’ day for bad shit-related puns (“I didn’t like that take. Let’s call it the flusher”), it was also a short day at 10 hours, so I got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home from work.

Any other time, this would suck shit (see, I’m still doing it), but the recent February mini-heat wave we’ve had has made the city’s copious amounts of night-blooming jasmine start to flower so the drive home, while slow, smelled fantastic which abated my normal traffic related rage. Note: I hate synthetic jasmine perfumes, but I absolutely love the real thing. Right now, I’ve got all the windows in the house open and it smells so good even the cat’s happy.

If you’re ever in LA in the late spring or early summer, just step outside and breathe through your nose. You’ll smell it. You can’t get away from it. It permeates everything here, which is impressive considering that such a powerful smell comes from something that masquerades as an innocent shrub to which no one ever pays any mind.

I don’t think it’s summer quite yet (we’re due for more rain early next week), but it’s definitely on the way.

Filed under: hazardous, toxic waste, Work, , , , ,

An unexpectedly busy week

Last weekend, I worked on a friend’s vanity project as a favor – they were paying what amounts to pocket change, but beggars can’t be choosers so when they asked of course I said yes. I ended up working Thursday and Friday, too, and couldn’t turn that down either (since that was actual paying work on a ‘real’ show) so  knew I was going to get fucked on the turnaround, but as of late my own death is the only reason I’ll turn down work.   I got home from work about 10 pm Friday, and had to be on the friend’s set around 7 am Saturday morning. So, of course, something went wrong with my car.

The key got stuck in the ignition and since there wasn’t anything I could do about it at 10 pm on a Friday night (other than throwing a temper tantrum and calling the car some really horrible names, of course. A friend once said that what you yell at the car when you’re mad is it’s name – now mine’s named something I can’t repeat in mixed company), I called and arranged for a ride to work Saturday morning.

The weekend job went fine – everyone was really nice and it was fun. Since it was mainly lit by changing the tubes in the building’s existing fluorescent fixtures, we didn’t get worked very hard which is always the best case scenario when one is working for a very low rate.

Monday, I took the car into the mechanic I usually patronize and was told that he can’t fix it as the newer cars have to be programmed at the dealer when certain repairs are made, which made me very, very nervous since the last time I had a car that needed to have work done at the dealer I couldn’t even walk in the door without it costing me a grand.

I borrowed a car to get to work Tuesday and Wednesday and took the car to the dealer on Thursday – thankfully it wasn’t as expensive as I’d feared (but was more than I wanted to shell out for a car I just bought) and now I’ve got the car back complete with new shifter (apparently some whatyamacallit in the shifter was making some thingamabob in the ignition do something. Or not. It’s all Greek to me).

I also got caught in the Obama traffic cluster fuck three times in two days – once coming home from work on Wednesday night and twice yesterday.

Me: “Why is the street blocked?”

Stone-faced Secret Service Guy: “The president’s staying in this hotel, ma’am. We had to close the street.”

Me: “But I voted for the guy! The worst thing I’m going to do is yell something encouraging out the window of the car.”

Stone-faced Secret Service Guy: “The administration thanks you for your continued support. Please turn around.”

Me: “Fuck.”

It’s all fine now, though. The President’s out of town again and I have a working car once again.  Plus, all I have to do this weekend is take my spent batteries to the electronic waste drop off point and go to the gym.

Filed under: Work, , ,

Friday Photo and Apology

Stairway to the perms

This is the extra steep stairway to the perms – a few times up and down these and my knees will hurt for the rest of the day. At least it’s got good handrails. Some of the stairways have old wooden handrails which throw off weapons-grade splinters – which, of course, renders said handrails useless.

I’d also like to apologize for the disappearing act – I’ve been having car problems.

Not normal car problems, but car problems so teeth-grindingly annoying that when the tow truck finally drops me off at home all I can manage to do is drop to my knees, shake my fist and scream a word so bad  I’m actually afraid to type it.

The problem is that they can’t figure out what, exactly, is wrong with my car.  It’s started dying for no reason and the mechanic determined that it was a bad fuel pump, which he replaced.  The car ran fine for a couple of days and then died again – at a location 30 miles from my house. At 10 pm.

I had it towed to the mechanic (who was, of course, closed at 10 pm so I had to have the tow truck driver drop the car in a parking space in the street and push it in the next morning after they’d opened), who determined that they’d installed a bad fuel pump and put in another one.

The car ran fine for about a day, and then died again. At 2 am on the way home from work in the middle of a busy street. A kind policeman used the push bar on the front of his car to push me off to a side street and said pushbar tore off the rear bumper cover which might have really irritated me any other time but I was just too tired and beaten down to care.

Then, they decided that the aftermarket fuel pump was the problem and ordered one from the dealer.

The car went 20 miles before dying again, but at least this time it was during business hours. Okay, it died 40 minutes before the mechanic closed for the night, so I had to beg the auto club to get a tow truck there quickly and we barely made it.

At this point the mechanic sighed heavily and admitted that he hadn’t a clue what was wrong and was planning on opening the hood and replacing damn near everything he saw.

To date, they’ve replaced the fuel pump relay, the oil pressure sending something-or-other, a couple of other doodads and have scraped a shitload of carbon out of something called the EGR valve. At this point, he thinks he’s got it fixed, but he’s going to keep it and use it as his daily driver while I’m out of town in an effort to put this whole nasty mess behind us. For now.  He’s a nice guy and he’s trying his best, so I really do hope that he doesn’t get stranded in bumfuck in the middle of the night.

My friends and co-workers have been well-meaning but spectacularly unhelpful in informing me that I need a new car.

Tell me something I don’t know.

I know with every fiber of my being that I need to buy another car. I know it every time I cross my fingers and hope I’m going to get home. I know it every time I get stranded in some gas station parking lot in the middle of the night. I know it when I walk into the rental car place and the guys that work there greet me by name.

The problem is that until our friends at SAG get this strike business resolved, I can’t afford to buy anything more involved than groceries.

If the actors walk and I’m out of work for another four months, I’m going to be so broke I’m going to have to put McNuggets on layaway, so buying a car right now is completely out of the question.

I have to work tomorrow and the rental places are all out of cars (fucking holidays), so I’ve got to hitch a ride with a co-worker, which I hate because I always feel like I’m putting someone out.

The lack of car has foiled my plans to overeat at a few holiday parties Sunday, but on the bright side it gave me an excuse to turn down an invite to a screening of a truly dreadful movie.

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

Insert snappy title here

Normally, showing up to work late is a terrible thing in the film industry. The saying goes “15 minutes early is on time, right at call is late” (and much after call time without a really good reason means no more work calls from that show), but sometimes one gets a last minute call and then it’s okay to show up later.

I got called yesterday morning at 6:40 to be at work at 7 am, which was never going to happen (damn LA traffic), so it was just understood that I’d be there as soon as I could. Sure enough, I got stuck in traffic and didn’t get there until almost 8. There are some places in LA that, while they’re not all that geographically far away from me, take forever to reach because of traffic congestion and lack of side-street alternate routes.

When I finally got to work, we spent the day checking lights to make sure they worked – something you really should do before you’re on location and can’t get that light the gaffer wants now to fire up. Note – this only really happens with HMI lamps. Tungsten lamps do, on occasion, fail to work but since they only have two moving parts (flood/spot knob and on/off switch) it’s much easier and faster to troubleshoot and repair them right there on set before the boss starts screaming.  We generally don’t even attempt to fix HMI problems. We just send them back to the rental house and let them deal with it.

Hence the testing. The procedure to test HMI lamps is to set up the whole mess (head, feeder cables, ballast), globe it up (some of the lamps can’t travel with the globes installed due to breakage factor), turn it on and then wait to see if it flickers (which HMIs sometimes do) or if it’s putting out a really fucked up color and will need gel correction.  Then, we break everything down, label the heads which are putting out said fucked up color and load everything back onto the truck.

We did only do an 8 hour day, so we got done early enough that I was able to go vote and then do some work in the garden. Also, to check on the progress of Darth Tomato.

Having started out life as an innocent Sungold Cherry, Darth Tomato was somehow turned to the darkside (probably by my neighbor’s Home-Depot purchased plants – they’re nothing but trouble) and is now on a mission of intergalactic domination.

By using the Force and growing like crazy, Darth Tomato is now 10 feet tall and six feet wide and has only been in the ground since April. If this growth rate keeps up, Darth Tomato will blot out the sun to the entire western half of the US by next Thursday.

Darth Tomato currently has the grapevine in a sleeper hold and is shading all the surrounding plants, plus some poor light-starved hollyhocks next door.

Although I’m going to have to amputate some of Darth Tomato’s many diabolical limbs in order to keep peace with my neighbor (and salvage everything else in my garden, which is now being oppressed by shade), I’ll be sad when I do because all that evil makes Darth Tomato taste extra good.
The evil makes Darth Tomato extra yummy!

Mmmm.. evil makes a nice salad.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , ,

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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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  • New blood pressure medication. Lightheaded and having trouble standing for more than a few minutes doc sez tough it out. Oy. 1 day ago
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