Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday photo

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Condor. This time, I’m not in it. I’ve got several drafts that I’ll polish and post on my one day off this week.

Maybe.

Filed under: camera, locations, movies, Photos, up all night, 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, , , , , , , , , , ,

For once, I desperately hope it’s Monday.

Working an all-nighter over the weekend threw off my sense of, well, just about everything. Mostly time, though.

I’m not completely sure what day it is today, but I’m off to work in the hopes that it’s Monday and when I get to the end of the road, there will be a shoot there.

And food. My cupboards are bare.

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, , , , ,

Like sticking one’s head in an oven

Summer has officially arrived Los Angeles – early last week the temperatures were in the 70′s, later in the week they were in the 90′s, and over the weekend they broke the triple digit barrier – although today it’s cooled off to a relatively brisk 90.

One of the advantages of living in a place that used to pass for a desert is that it cools off at night- the knowledge that once the sun goes down the temperature is going to be in the high 60′s or low 70′s it’s much easier to cope with 100 degrees during the day.

This past weekend, however, nature played a cruel joke on Los Angeles and it didn’t cool off at night so much as become marginally less hot and miserable, but still too hot to sleep.

If I wanted to toss and turn in my sweat-soaked bed at night, struggling to breathe and wondering how to sleep in a bathtub full of cold water without drowning, I’d go to Florida. Or NYC, but at least I could manage to sleep on the fire escape there.

Although I’m not near the beach, which is the preferred place to be when the weather gets this hot, at least I’m not in the San Fernando Valley, which is 10 degrees (or more) hotter. During the summer, I dread going into the Valley even though I sometimes have to do so.

Since I’m currently on a short enforced vacation due to bursitis in my left shoulder (what I really need to do is take a few weeks off, but right now I can’t do that because there’s not enough money in my account to survive another strike so I’m only taking a couple of days of turbo-rest and I can actually let the thing heal when SAG walk out and I’m unemployed for an entire month. Or four),  I decided to take the time to drive up into the valley to go to Contract Services for the I-9 debacle.

Contract Services are the people who keep track of who in the union is in good standing, up to date on safety training and able to work, and a few years ago someone there had a really good idea.

For those of you not in the USA, when you work here you have to fill out a form called the I-9, which is a proof of citizenship/work eligibility. The information required to prove work eligibility is just about all someone else needs to apply for credit in your name, buy a bunch of expensive shit and then not make any of the payments and leaving you to sort it out, which can take years and years and turn just about every hair you have grey.

So, Contract Services decided that we’d all go there once every three years and fill out the I-9 info at the office and they’d keep it on file and not show anyone and the production companies could just give them the list of names and they’d tell them if we were cool or not, and then we wouldn’t have to fill it out the form for each job and subject ourselves to potential hair-greying problems.  Saving a couple of trees by reducing the amount of paper required would also have been a good thing.

Except that none of the production companies will accept the Contract Services on-file I-9, so we still have to fill one out each time we start a new show, plus since Contract Services simply will not admit that this program, while a good idea, just. isn’t. working.  we still have to go up into the inferno that is Encino once every three years and fill out that stupid fucking redundant form that no one ever accepts.  My complaints about this have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Perhaps I should complain louder. Or write someone a very angry letter which would probably be put in the same file as the I-9 and used against me at a later date.

I’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn and not going to the gym because of my shoulder, so I’m starting to bounce off the walls.  I’m not working tomorrow, either, but that will be the last day I can afford to be off work so that shoulder better hurry up and get better.

Dammit.

Just for a giggle (and because I’ve been home and able to partially catch up on my internets), Laurie at Crazy Aunt Purl has some hilarious pictures of what San Fernando Valley heat will do to a pillar candle:

http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/archives/2008/06/enough_talking.php

I won’t be able to completely catch up on my internets, though – the way I hold my arms when I type hurts that damn high-maintenance shoulder after a while.

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

I never seem to learn

I have a birthday coming up and I’ve decided that the perfect gift for me (in case you’re shopping) is a Bad Idea Monkey.

Basically, I need a monkey to sit on my shoulder and hit me over the head with a blunt instrument whenever I have a really bad idea – which, this past weekend, occurred about every 10 minutes.

Friday: The news predicted a gradual warm-up over the weekend, so I figured it would be an excellent day to ride my bike out to Santa Monica so I could go to the ‘good’ gym (it’s not all that great, it just has a lower Band-Aid (TM) to pool water ratio than does the gym that’s close to my house). Needless to say, the warm-up was not, in fact, gradual and I got caught by the heat on the ride home. At one point I figured it was a great idea to find a bus and get on it as I was relatively certain I could feel my brain swelling (or shrinking, depending on your viewpoint), and sat in the shade for a few minutes while I failed to find any spare change anywhere on my person. I guess it was a win, though because I did find some electrolyte tablets which kept me conscious until I got home.

Saturday: I figured that since the weather had officially been set to ‘broil’, I needed some straw to use as mulch for my garden to keep the soil from turning into a hard dry wasteland (plants, I’m told, do not like this). Of course, the place to get straw is a feed store, and the feed stores in Los Angeles are all located in the hottest parts of the city, so I drove north until the air felt like a furnace, parked in a vast wasteland of blacktop, and then single-handedly wrestled two bales of straw into the cargo area of my carpeted SUV. Also of course, I hadn’t thought about any type of carpet/straw barrier method so the bales immediately started shedding straw bits all over the inside of my car. Since my air conditioning works but using it makes my fuel economy go from moderately bad to laughable, I stupidly got on the freeway with two bales of straw in the back and all the windows down. I’m still picking bits of straw out of my hair.

Bad Idea Monkey, where are you?

Sunday: I got up early to go throw the straw into the garden, but then realized it was the weekly farmer’s market so I went there first. Market starts at 8:30, I got home around 9:45 and didn’t get to the garden until after 10 am. Then, I had to wrestle two bales of straw out of the back of the truck and into a wheelbarrow (in case you were wondering, a bale of straw is much longer and wider than a wheelbarrow and as such must be placed in the wheelbarrow on the narrow side, making the wheelbarrow top and front heavy) and then push precariously overloaded wheelbarrow up a hill to the actual garden.

Once I got the straw there I had to cut the bales, break it (mostly) out of the flakes and lay it down. Then I had to pull out yet another tomato that got the ick, water, and then go and clean the three inches of straw leavings out of the back of the truck. All this in 100+ degree heat. I sweated off my sunblock and got burned, so of course I then went to an LAist barbecue where I continued to fry until it finally cooled off about 8 pm. My back’s now starting to itch and I’m betting it’s going to start peeling while I’m at work.

Wow. I really need that monkey.

I’ll be on an air conditioned stage tomorrow which is good, and the weather’s supposed to be 20 degrees cooler.

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

Half a weekend goes well with panic attacks.

My main problem Friday night wasn’t the copious amount of poison oak all over our location, but the dust and pollen in the air. For some reason I always forget that if the location’s on a dirt road the approaching vehicles will make the inevitable dust storm worse. I then vow to never again leave my house without dust masks in my work bag. Then, after working all night I’m tired and I forget the whole thing.

Since the all-nigher and related allergy attack shot Saturday all to hell anyway I stayed on the sofa struggling to breathe and then on Sunday I went to see American Gangster (which I highly recommend even though this trend of three hour long movies is beginning to wear thin).

Monday was the day the panic started to set in. I haven’t got enough money saved to make it through a long strike. I’m going on vacation (for which I can’t get a refund were I to cancel so I might as well go) at a terrible time, and if this doesn’t get resolved soon I’m pretty sure I’m going to starve to death on the street, wallowing in a puddle of my own filth.

The incessant strike-related nattering of the local televised news-bots isn’t helping one little bit, either. Trust me guys, it’s a big world out there and there’s got to be something else you can air besides that one fucking clip of the picket line in front of Paramount. Didn’t someone cure some disease somewhere? Can’t you go look and double check?

When I really start to sit and worry, I can work myself up into quite a state, so in an effort to prevent that I spent Monday trying to find a home for one of the neighborhood’s random stray dogs (for some reason, people like to dump strays in my neighborhood. I don’t know why). This one looks like a purebred Chihuahua, but can’t be. Chihuahuas yap and make me want to drop-kick them and this one’s quiet and really nice, so I’m going to conclude that she’s some other flavor of ankle biter that shakes a lot and is difficult to housebreak.

So, after walking about ten miles in a vain attempt to wear out said ankle-biter (who seems to have a hell of a lot more energy than I do) so she’d appear less hyper than she really is when I dropped her off at a friend’s house (where she’ll stay until I either find her original owner or a new one), I was too tired to worry much, but today I’m rested and since a lot of other people are out of work (or will be soon) the phone calls are flying and everyone’s collectively working themselves up into a lather.

Although going three months at a time without work isn’t unheard of (for me at least), since I don’t have the savings pad that I’d really like to, if the strike outlasts my unemployment I’m going to end up sitting in a cubicle somewhere, rocking back and forth and muttering incoherently about my stapler.

And no one wants to read about that.

Filed under: life in LA, movies, Non-Work, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ll be fine once the bleeding stops.

Since I had no work today (that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I worked all night Friday night so I lost Saturday. I know I got up, went out and did…something. I just don’t remember what that something was. Then, Sunday was the annual trip to the LA County Fair where I once again overindulged on strange and disturbing fried foods – so I needed a day to recover and maybe get some weekend-type stuff done), I got up bright and early and did my laundry, and then, because I felt like a challenge, I decided to take the cat to the vet.

This is never a decision to be made lightly. This particular cat, who is all of 7 lbs, can somehow manage to scream louder than an air-raid siren when she’s placed in the kitty carrier and driven anywhere. But lately she’s had this weird thing with her eye and I was starting to get worried about it. Basically, she scratches all the fur off the corner of the eye and then walks around the house shaking her head and crying. I figured since she usually sits on the back of the couch and glares at me silently or sits on my head while I’m trying to sleep, I should probably ask a trained professional if there might be something wrong with her.

So, when I got to the vet, he looked her over, took her temperature, thought for a moment, and then said “I don’t think there’s anything wrong, but I’m going to send you to an ophthalmologist just so he can have a look at the eye. They have some specialized equipment that we don’t.”

Dude. It’s a cat.

Right at the number one position on the list of things I am simply not going to do is stuff a fur-covered Klaxon into a cheap Chinese plastic box and then drive across town to a fucking kitty eye doctor in Santa Monica just because.

Hell, I don’t even think I’d take a quiet, well behaved cat that just sat there in the passenger seat and didn’t fuck with the radio or anything all the way out to Santa Monica just to see a specialist because the vet thought there wasn’t anything wrong, but still, let’s have a look. Or something.

No. I have to draw the line somewhere.

I held the fucking kitty eye doctor’s business card up, shook it, and said “Didn’t you just tell me you didn’t think anything was wrong?”

Clearly, this was not what he was used to hearing from clients.

Sometimes you can just tell that someone is used to dealing with post post-modern middle aged urban professionals (muppies? mappies? puppies?) who have pets instead of children.

“Well,” he stammered “I don’t think it’s really anything, no. I…I just thought you might… just want to be sure.”

Okay, fine. How about I take your word that it’s nothing, and then if something out-of-the-ordinary happens, like she grows a second head or starts oozing green goo or explodes I’ll think about giving the fucking kitty eye doctor a call.


At some point during the conversation, said kitty decided that a really great place to hide from the bastard who was torturing her was under the front of my shirt – in the process of her trying to climb in and my trying to pull her out so said bastard could give her a shot she shredded up a fairly significant portion of my skin.

Guess I should have had him trim her claws, too.

He gave me some eye-drops to put in her eye and I think I’m going to wait until tomorrow to start them. Discretion being the better part of valor (or so I’ve been told), I need to stop bleeding before I take on any more epic cat battles.

Filed under: life in LA, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , , , , ,

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Halfway through a wrap day

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