Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Such a little thing, but it made me so happy.

I was in Whole foods today, buying the white Bordeaux* they currently stock, and when I went through the check-out, I got carded.

I haven’t gotten carded in years. A career of working outside much of the time (even with sunblock and a hat) has left me looking, well, a bit weathered when I’m not wearing makeup (I’m not too wrinkled, I just have some really serious sun damage, but it’s easily concealed when I decide to care about how my face looks) .

The clerk was very polite about it, but still actually looked at my drivers license to check the age.

I’m still in a great mood.

Isn’t it funny that at 21 getting asked for ID made me angry, but now – in my 30’s – getting asked for ID makes my entire day.

* I normally hate white Bordeaux, but this particular one is pretty decent – Chateau La Graviere Entre-Deux-Mers. It’s under ten bucks a bottle, and it’s surprisingly good. I bought it as a throwaway to take to a barbecue, tasted it, and now I’m hooked.

Filed under: Non-Work

Friday fluff and photo

The last few posts have been kind of angry, so here’s something a bit more positive.

I’ve been renting a lot of movies over the hiatus, and these are some of the ones that I’ve really enjoyed:

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill – Cutest birdies ever!

Chappelle’s Show – Season two was way better than season one, but they were both funny as hell.

The Towering Inferno – Best disaster movie ever, and especially amazing when you consider that there were no digital effects back then.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room – It’s not often that a movie pisses me off so much that I throw things at the television. I remember those blackouts. It was boiling hot and we were working on a TV show that was shooting at the Culver lot. We had to rent a generator and run cable because lot management couldn’t tell us if we were going to lose power, or how much warning we’d have if it did go out. Did I mention that it was boiling hot and when the stage power went out, so did the air conditioners?

Airport 77 – Second best disaster movie ever, but it scared me more than Towering Inferno – my dislike of flying is well-documented and watching this didn’t help one bit.

And a photo:

Idol Worship

In front of the Kodak Theater – this is the red carpet madness of American Idol. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the country who doesn’t care about this TV show.

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos

Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

Some years ago, right after I got in the union, I was assigned (by a former call steward* who didn’t approve of women in our local) to work with a rigging crew who were notorious for practical jokes and brutal insults (‘all in good fun’, of course).

I was raised in a household where everyone was very proper and one simply did not dignify boorish behavior with any kind of a response, so working on this crew was really an education for me.

A few things I learned from them:

1) Don’t take abuse lying down. Letting the other person know that they hurt your feelings just means you’re weak and ripe for more comments about your mother.

2) Right off the bat, go for the jugular. Everyone wants an easy target, so don’t be one.

3) The ‘fast’ way to tie a bowline knot.

4) The title of this post.

So, last night The Blonde sent me on a blind date with a producer whom I’ll just call Hairplugs.

It didn’t go well. When I walked in and introduced myself, the first thing he said was “I thought you’d be hotter.”

This took me by surprise, as I was expecting him to at least say hello.

“Yeah, and your body’s okay, but you really need to get your teeth done.”

While I was contemplating if I should preserve my dignity by giving him a withering look and stomping out, my mouth opened and out popped a rigger insult:

“Do your customers at the strip club call you jiggles? When you’re not at work you should put a bra on those bitch tits so they don’t flop around.”

I think I might have even made a hand gesture indicating two pendulous breasts knocking together in time to the restaurant’s soft jazz.

It’s true you never think of the really good ones at the right time. On a certain rigging crew, that would have brought down the house.

Of course, as soon as I said “bitch tits” everything around us got real quiet, and Hairplugs sputtered some lame insult (I think he called me a cunt, which is about as upsetting to me as being asked the time of day) and walked out.

I guess he’s not very popular in that particular restaurant, because enough of the staff bought me drinks that I had to catch a cab home.

Hey, guys?

I don’t think I ever thanked you for teaching me how to fight back.

* If you need a guy for work, and everyone you know is busy, you call the union hall to fill the job and the call steward is the person you deal with.

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

A not so damp Sunday afternoon.

So it didn’t rain on the picket, after all.

Forum Picket

In addition to the nice folks in Local 33 (I’ve not met too many of them, and this picket was a great chance to help out and make some new friends), there were quite a few folks from other unions there, including some wonderful people from the Hollywood Park race track.

There were enough folks there to cover all entrances to the Forum (no small feat), and to look good for the news cameras.

Forum Picket

A standard management tactic for pickets is to have goons trying to look threatening while taking pictures of the picketers. These guys were videotaping us, although this one refused to smile when I took his photo (very unsporting of him, if you ask me).

Forum picket

Did I mention that picket lines are fun?

So, what Local 33 would like all of you Madonna concert goers to do is to not buy concessions inside the venue – Most of the money you spend on shirts, posters, hot dogs and beer goes directly to the management who’ve locked out workers.

If you feel you just can’t live without that Madonna poster, shirt, cap, or bottle of wine (no, I’m not kidding), please go to and buy your merchandise there. It’s the same stuff they’re selling in the venue, but you’ll get a better price, you won’t have to schlepp it all night and you’ll be helping out some good folks.

If you’re driving into the parking lot, please roll down your window and take a flyer and one of the really cool bead necklaces they’re giving out!

If you wanted to picket but just couldn’t make it Sunday, there will be pickets for the remainder of Madonna’s shows at the Forum.

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

Somehow I never see it coming.

Every so often, I post something that really pisses people off and it always takes me by surprise.

This Madonna/Forum thing really opened the floodgates and got that peanut gallery typing but good.

Please enjoy some examples of the email I’ve gotten – I have not corrected any spelling or grammar errors:

Ur stoopid 4 thnking U can pikett Madonna shes superstar and I hope u all die

Union members are paid too much!! GREED IS A SIN!!!

What about the innocent people who just want to be intertained? Your saying I should not go when I’ve paid and I’m saying you all should go back to Russia.

Shame on you all for using an innocent person for publicity. Why should she care about you or your silly little problems? If any of you had any brains, you’d go get a real job.

Well, that last one sort of has a point – I think I mentioned that I don’t expect uber-rich celebs to give a shit about the working man, and the fact is that most (with a few exceptions) of them don’t. Those of us who work in the entertainment industry understand this and although we wish things were different, that’s the way it goes.

Once again:


I was, however, hoping that a group of folks who call themselves Christians would care about their employees receiving a fair wage in a city with astronomical housing and general living costs.

It deeply saddens me to think I might be wrong.

As for using Madonna to generate publicity – you bet your ass. She’d do the same thing if our situations were reversed.

And if you think union members are paid too much, please feel free to go work on a non-union low budget movie. Know that you’re showing us greedy union fucks a thing or two while you work 80+ hour weeks for a flat rate that works out to be less than minimum wage and be told by the producer that you should crawl into a building full of toxic waste to place a light because “it’s the right thing to do because we all care soooo much about the project” and then get fired when you refuse because you decide to make your health a priority over a movie that no one’s ever going to see anyway.

If that doesn’t sound good (and why wouldn’t it?), please do work on some non-union music videos that shoot for 25 hours straight, don’t feed you because they blew the catering budget on coke for the artist and his/her friends, and then have armed thugs threaten you when you show up at the office to try to collect another paycheck because the first one (that they issued, under threat of legal action, 6 weeks after the shoot) bounced.

Oh, and have fun not making enough money – no matter how hard you work – to insure your health and your car at the same time.

Go on, do it. I’ll wait.

For the haters out there, it should please you to no end to learn that we’ll probably be getting rained on while we picket.

Filed under: Non-Work, rants

Be there or be square!

Reposted (with permission of the original poster) from our union’s mailing list:

Stagehands Locked Out at LA Forum
Faithful Central Bible Church, the Forum’s Owner, Won’t Meet with Local 33

After more than two years of negotiations, Faithful
Central Bible Church’s bargaining agent forced steep cuts on
Forum workers. Wages were cut more than 30 percent. Workable
hours were also slashed.

Not content, management then locked veteran stagehands
out of their jobs. These men and women, IA Local 33 members
eager to return to work, stand on the sidewalk as replacement
workers are brought in on church buses. In spite of its direct
involvement, the Church has tried to wash its hands of the dispute
and all of its unions, including Teamsters 42 and SEIU 1877.
Bishop Ulmer has yet to meet with these workers or their unions.

This afternoon I went down to the great western forum
and walked the picket line with our IATSE 33 brothers and sisters.
Although I missed it, Madonna crossed the line for rehersals
(Peggy’s emphasis) for her upcoming concert.
This coming sunday, 21 May, the evening of the concert, Local 33 is organizing a huge rally and picket line from 5:30 PM-8:00PM. For more information on parking and details please go to their

Although I’m not stupid enough to assume that insanely wealthy celebs give a shit about me, unions or the working man’s welfare in general, I’m really surprised that Bishop Ulmer – a so-called Christian – would do something like this.

Before I start getting hate mail (which I know I will), I have a completely biased outlook towards locking out workers and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I’ll be there Sunday, and although I wish we lived in a world where this kind of stuff didn’t happen, I gotta tell you that picket lines are fun. I get to be disruptive, yell insults at the people crossing the line (and yes, I’m looking forward to yelling at Madonna’s limo) and shake my sign menacingly.

Although I know we’d all rather be home watching that wonderful Sunday night television, if you’re in the Los Angeles area please do show up.

After all, how often do you get to yell at Madonna?

Filed under: Non-Work, rants

My life’s not so exciting now.

The dreaded call from the concerned girlfriend came yesterday:

Her: “So you’re not working now, why don’t you put up a personal ad? You need to get out more.”

Me: “No time. Very busy.”

Her: “You’re not busy. You’re sitting at home, reading War and Peace to your plants so they’ll grow faster”.

Lying bitch. While the cat might appreciate Tolstoy, the plants really seem to prefer InStyle.

My life these days consists of trying to cook without using butter or oil, going to the gym (damn crafty goes right to my ass), The Simpsons reruns, begging The Blonde to stop dating D-List train wrecks and trying to organize my closets. Should I throw out something that’s now two sizes too small and out of fashion, but for which I paid a small fortune?

On second thought, girlfriend has a point. I do need to get out more.

So, I put up an ad, and then deleted it a day later.

The responses I got fell into the following categories:

a) HeY CutIE!!!!! ur HOTT!!!!!Plz snd phne number sos we CaN taLk nd I can be sure uR really not a dude, Peace.

b) 16 paragraphs of self-absorbed drivel that I couldn’t even finish reading.

c) Outright lies

d) Photographs of someone’s penis

e) Inquiries as to whether I was ‘down with (insert stomach-turning perverted activity here).’

Single’s not looking so bad right now.

Besides, the plants really do need to know if green is the new black.

Filed under: Non-Work, rants

Friday Photo

Painting the Cyc

Cycloramas must be repainted to white if the color is changed for a shoot.

Note: The link above leads to the Wikepedia definition of a theatrical soft cyc – ususally made of cloth.

Permanently installed plaster wall cycs on film stages (such as the one in the photo) are called hard cycs – a term not included in the Wikepedia definition.

Filed under: Photos

No good will come of this, I fear.

I love me some Fug Girls. I think they’re smart, funny and I enjoy the hell out of their site, but sometimes I worry about them.

I was at a trunk show (where a designer shows the new clothes for the upcoming seasons in a retail store while onlookers eat mini-quiches and drink bad chardonnay) last night with The Supermodel, and saw something that I fear will lead to one of my beloved Fug Girls climbing into a bell tower with a rifle.

Which I must admit could be fun, but innocent people might get nasty blood stains on their white formal shorts.

That’s right. Formal shorts. They’re not going away anytime soon.

I’m sorry girls. I hate them too – but I’m sad to say it gets worse.

This particular designer upped the ante by accessorizing the formal shorts/hippie shirt/dominatrix boot ensembles (dammit, why did I forget my camera) with drapery ties, worn around the necks as pendants.

I’m not kidding.

Oh, Heather. Oh, Jessica.

Please don’t do anything rash.

Filed under: Non-Work

Oscar. Winning. Rap. Group.

Think about that for just a moment.


Kinda rattles the brain, doesn’t it?

The dreaded video finally materialized, but it ended up being just wrapping it out (my occasional working life these days – just enough money to fuck up my unemployment).

The job was uneventful – they were just shooting the rappers against the cyc so there weren’t a whole lot of lights; just a few skypans hung on the pipe grid, and a few lights on stands.

The Oscar Winning Rap Group were polite and fairly well-behaved, as rap groups go – but we got there late in the day, so I have no idea what happened earlier.

Sometimes production decide to ‘help’ us by giving us a sleep-deprived production assistant. Normally they just kind of wander around in a daze, and we tell them to go pick up C-47s just to get them out of the way.

This particular sleep-deprived PA decided he really had to help us and proceeded to start throwing all the equipment in a big, messy pile in one corner while insisting that the stage guys had told him to ‘keep everything tight’.

When one stages equipment, it must be done in an orderly fashion so the guys who come to count it can do the count as quickly as possible. ‘Keep it tight’ means keep it as close together as possible while still keeping enough order that the guys can work.

That means like goes with like, everything is lined up in an orderly fashion, and cable is laid out so that it can be quickly counted and loaded. Dumping everything into a sloppy pile doesn’t help anyone, and it makes the rental house guys who come to count the equipment crazy.

Despite our pleas for him to stop helping, he insisted. My boss eventually had to go to production and get him sent home before he started making extra work for us. We probably did him a favor – I think the poor guy’d been awake for over 24 hours.

We got everything laid out to count, and then went home around 3 am, as the rental house guys wouldn’t be coming in until 7 am.

Oh, what the hell. One more time:

Oscar. Winning. Rap. Group.

Filed under: Work

May 2006

Flickr Photos



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