Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

…And it just keeps coming

My landlady stopped by today to tell me that they’ve put my building up for sale.

My childhood was pretty nomadic – I’ve lived in this place longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere before. This is the first place I’ve ever had that truly was a home. My home.

Now, it’s for sale and I’m helpless. All I can do is sit and wait to see what happens.

Given the frenzy with which developers are covering Hollywood in “luxury loft condos” it’s highly unlikely that it’s not going to get torn down.

Although I’m not sure there would have been a good time for this, I can’t really think of a worse one.

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

Friday Photo

It's been a rough night around here.

This sort of sums up this particular winter storm – it’s not just that it’s rainy and windy, but it’s rainy with an occasional strong gust of wind. There’s just enough time between gusts to give you and your umbrella a false sense of security and then…Pow!

You’re left standing in a downpour with an inside-out-brella, swearing like a sailor and trying to keep your camera dry.

Somehow I doubt this phenomenon is unique to Los Angeles, though.

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

Mid-week random updates

The anklebiter (the small dog I found) was kept by her ‘foster’ home – so I still have visitation rights and I don’t have to pick up poo! Best of both worlds!

The toilet is fixed.

I’m appealing my unemployment denial, and when I got the statement from unemployment about contributions, I saw that Axium reported none of my earnings to them at any time last year. Fuckers. Interestingly, a subsidiary company of Axium called Pax did report earnings.

All of us are really hoping the writers take the DGA deal – pilot season is when I make a significant chunk of my year’s income, so losing it would suck even worse now that I know over half what I made last year wasn’t reported to unemployment.

Over the weekend, I decided to go out for a long bike ride (I know I sometimes make it seem like I use martinis to cope with my problems, but I really use my bicycle to cope with problems), and when I was about 15 miles away from the house, I managed to get two flat tires. Basically, what happened was this: the city of Los Angeles will sometimes try to put stop signs right in the middle of the road (in the lane dividers), so motorists can see them better – of course, it takes about a nanosecond for the sign to get run over, so then the city comes along and cuts off the signpost about an inch above the pavement – also of course, they don’t bother to mark it so anyone can see it, so it just sits there until either the road gets repaved or someone important shreds a tire.

After I ran over the thing, I went back and looked for it and I could barely even see it when I was looking for it. Awesome.

The good news is that it just tore up my tubes, so I won’t have to replace the fairly expensive road slicks I’ve got on the bike.

Also, I only had to walk about a mile to reach a bus line that went to my neighborhood. Normally, whenever I put my bike on one of the bus racks, I’m completely freaked out that someone’s going to grab my bike at a crowded stop – this time, I figured if they did try to steal it and ride away, they wouldn’t have gotten very far so I was able to sit back, relax and listen to the guy next to me talk to himself all the way home.

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

Okay, I promise I’ll stop freaking out. For now.

Today I got a very important piece of mail – the statement from the pension and health plan which tallies my qualifying hours for the previous semester.

As previously mentioned, we have to work at least 300 hours every semester in order to keep our health insurance – we can ‘bank’ hours in excess of 300 (up to 450), so we have an emergency pad just for times like this (although just about everyone I know desperately wants to avoid having to pull hours out of the bank).

Last semester, I worked 760 hours, so even if half of them are retroactively disqualified due to our good friends at Axium, I’m still okay, and since my bank’s full I’ll at least have insurance for the next year, even if the unthinkable happens and I don’t work until June or July (remember SAG? They have contract negotiations coming up in a few months and they’re also tired of getting screwed by The Man).

Thank heavens. Of course, possibly losing 400 pension hours is going to matter a great deal to me when I’m 105 and running out the clock while trying to avoid the jobs which will require me to pull cable 14 hours a day*, but for now it prevents the total meltdown that I was working myself into.

On a happier (if unrelated) note, last night I went to a free screening of the movie Once (which I really liked), and then on the way out of the theater, stopped by the Virgin Megastore which is closing (word on the street is that the landlord jacked up the rent – there seems to be a rash of that happening all over Los Angeles these days), and took advantage of the half-off sale to pick up the new Radiohead CD. I don’t normally buy CDs because of that thing that they do where there are only two good songs and the rest are crap, but Radiohead (if they’re your thing) seem to be consistently good.

I figured I could spare the 8 bucks because I haven’t driven the car in almost a week, which means that I’ve not spent 50 bucks on a tank of gas.

*Actually, since I didn’t get into the union until I was almost 30, the chances that I’ll be able to work enough to qualify for full retirement are slim to none.

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

Well, this is depressing, but it isn’t a surprise.

Today’s LA Times hit me like a hammer*, and it wasn’t so much of a surprise as it was a confirmation in my not having much faith in humanity these days:

Go Here and Here

Of course the suits looted the company. Of course.

You know, if I lose my health insurance** and pension qualifying hours and have to double pay taxes because one of these motherfuckers wanted a tacky $100,000 car and a mostly plastic bimbo, I’m going to scour the earth to find the guy.

When I do find him, I’m going to do things to him that will violate every single clause of the Geneva convention.

That’s all I have.

I’m just too angry right now to be clever. Maybe later.

*I stood in the coffee shop (I’ve cancelled my newspaper subscription to save money) shaking my scavenged paper and screaming “You motherfucker!” at the top of my lungs. I think I was asked not to return. Ever.

** Crew people’s health insurance is dependent upon our working a certain number of hours (currently 300 per semester). If we don’t work enough, and don’t have enough extra hours saved in our ‘bank’ to cover the shortfall, we lose our insurance. If Axium didn’t pay into the proper fund, some of use could lose our insurance.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

An extra special link just for today.

One of the wonderful commenters left this link:

Sweeeeet. I’ll continue posting what I know here, but since I’m just a toolbelty schmuck, the above link might be a better source of information.

Oh, and my unemployment claim has been delayed for six weeks – about a year ago, I made an accounting error that resulted in a $200 overpayment, so today I got the “fuck you, buddy” letter in the mail.

I’m going to appeal it – although there’s the argument that stupidity should hurt (as the only way to alter behavior), I think a six week ‘time penalty’ and a 30% monetary penalty is a bit harsh for an honest mistake. Of course, the appeals process takes about six weeks.

Dear gods… I think I’m going to have to get a job.

You realize, of course, that the whole reason I work in the film industry is because in the ‘real world’ I’m completely unemployable. You know, like a monkey that you can’t get to stop flinging poo no matter how hard you try.

At least this should be interesting.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , ,

And now for something none of us needed right now.

Over the weekend, the recent crash and burn of the Axium payroll company has been the subject of many panic-stricken phone calls and late nights spent rocking back and forth talking to oneself while clutching a bottle of cheap whiskey.

For tax and unemployment insurance purposes, when we work, we are technically employees of the payroll company instead of the production company. This is not a bad thing – it cuts down on the tax-season paperwork (16 W 2 forms instead of 138) and reduces instances of in-house rubber checkitis (back in the bad old days of tiny shows run by fly-by-night production companies, one would pick up one’s check at the office and then drive like a bat out of hell to the production company’s bank to cash it while there were hopefully still funds in the account. When everyone started using payroll companies, the checks, when they eventually arrived, were usually good).

Although I read the LA Times articles about Axium folding, I didn’t think much about it until this weekend, when we found out that they haven’t been paying the tax contributions on paychecks for “months and months”. Needless to say, these contributions were withheld from checks, but the money somehow just…disappeared.

As of right now, there’s some debate about if they’ve paid into the pension and health fund.

Did I mention that over half my work (and thus, over half my pay) last year was with companies that used Axium? Including the movie that I was on for months?

Which means, that although the taxes were deducted from my checks, as of right now there’s no way to know if I fall into the happy group who had the deducted monies actually paid to the gub’mint. Since I doubt the IRS cares that I had the money deducted, they’ll probably make me pay twice.

‘Cause that’s how the IRS rolls.

No one has exact numbers yet, so I’m desperately hoping to just get a little bit fucked instead of utterly and completely screwed sideways with sand in the Vaseline.

Great. Just my luck I’ll have to write the IRS a check right when I haven’t been working in months.

Filed under: cranky, mishaps, rants, Work, , , , , ,

Six different types of ouch!

Since most of the awards shows and all the accompanying parties (so far) have been cancelled this year (plus the whole unemployment thing), I now have nothing to do except dig up the garden.

I don’t mean dig a little hole here and there, I mean really dig – this last round of being busy at work has left me far, far behind in my war against the neighbor’s Bermuda grass, so I’m having to dig down 24 inches in all of the raised beds to pull up the big underground runners (and the big underground runners of the mint plant that I had no idea was going to go so crazy and be so hard to get rid of. Ditto the sweet potato that’s never produced anything edible but just. won’t. die.).

All I’ve been doing for the past two days has been digging. Get up, drink coffee, dig, lather, rinse, repeat.

This, of course, uses an entirely different set of muscles than my normal work does, so now I’m in a surprising amount of pain and am popping aspirin like candy – and I’m not finished yet.

I’ve got at least two more days of really hard work, including at least a full day to pull out the grapevine.

It’s not that I don’t like grapes, it’s just that I’m never able to get any because the birds eat them before they’re ripe, so I’d rather just get rid of the thing and plant something that I’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of actually getting to eat. Or, failing that, something that looks pretty.

Really, what I need to do is remember to alternate feet when I’m digging, because right now just the left side of my ass is really sore (from pushing down on the shovel). The right side’s fine, which means my gait has taken on a serious tilt at this point. More so than usual.

This does, however, bring me to one of the reasons I really, really love Los Angeles.

Today I was too sore to make lunch, so I gimped on down the road to the salad bar at the local supermarket – without bothering to change my clothing. I was limping around the offerings while wearing rubber boots (not the cute J. Crew rain boots, either – Army surplus store heavy black rubber knee-highs), paint-splattered dirt-crusted red plaid pajama bottoms, a tank top with an obscenity printed across the chest, 80’s era Top Gun style mirrored sunglasses, and a lime green cowboy hat. Plus, a losing battle with a blackberry vine had left me oozing blood out of most of my forearms (If you’re interested in home defense but don’t want to shell out for an alarm, just plant blackberry vines all around your house. If someone does try to break in, you’ll be alerted by the screams of pain).

Not one person even raised an eyebrow. I had an entire conversation with a fellow shopper about how getting older sucks because you have to start eating vegetables again and he didn’t even say “So… you look kind of homeless. Everything all right?”

I do so love you, Los Angeles. I just forget to tell you sometimes.

Check back next time for an exciting episode of “I fought the old rotten trellis and the old rotten trellis won”.

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

Breaking news! Water falls from sky, entire city panic-stricken!

Los Angeles is a desert-ish city.

Sure, we have the baking heat, tumbleweeds and single digit humidity, but we don’t get the monsoonal rains like a ‘real’ desert, so when any water at all comes down, the whole place grinds to a halt.

Drainage is poor, so even a fairly light rain (by the rest of the world’s standards) will result in flooded streets, traffic jams as frantic drivers thumb through their manuals to try and figure out how to turn on those windshield wiper things they vaguely remember being on the car, and hysterical local news anchors warning the good citizens to just stay at home so things don’t get worse as civilization as we know it comes to an end.

This time, however, there really is reason to be concerned as we’re supposed to get several inches of rain overnight – although some of you in wetter climes are snickering right now, this is a big deal around here and is going to result in worse than usual flooding and huge mudslides in those burned areas.

Not where I live though – I’m just going to have to deal with car accidents in front of my house (people seem to mistake my residential street for the straightaway at a racetrack and hit the gas. Combined with a wet street this is fun) and all other news being pushed to the back burner (“Coming up next on Action News! Keeping your latte warm in cold wet weather! Plus, later in the newscast… the heartbreak of hair frizz!”)

Earlier today, I decided to wade out into the apocalyptic afternoon drizzle in order to go swim in the outdoor pool since for some strange reason people won’t swim in the rain (I can’t figure this one out. They’re going to get wet anyway) which meant I’d have an Olympic sized lap pool all to myself and all I had to do was drive a couple of miles through….The Water (cue scary music).
Actually, it wasn’t so bad except that I don’t have windshield wipers – it’s been so long since the last bit of rain that they’d gotten the dry rot and disintegrated as soon as I tried to use them. Oops. Guess I’m making a stop at the auto parts store in the morning.

Of course, Trader Joe’s was a complete madhouse – shelves emptying as people grabbed for the last package of lemon basil pasta, puddles of rainwater everywhere inside because no one wanted to leave an umbrella in the provided rack (include me in that – the last time I put my umbrella in the rack it got stolen and there weren’t any good ones left. I had to wait months before I could find a good umbrella to, um, Karmically replace the old one).

I got my coffee (I ran out this morning), more martini fixins and some fresh basil (now I can make pesto while I drink), so I’m set for the night.

Until tomorrow, when I venture out again, because I just can’t resist that empty swimming pool.

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

It’s a shiny bright new year!

Instead of the normal list of completely unrealistic resolutions (“I will only eat healthy things” “I will always be nice to people” “I will not scream ‘cocksucker’ out the window of my car every three minutes”), this time I’ve decided to just be happy and make a list of things which I will not be changing in the coming year.

1) I resolve never to stop yelling “Hahahahaha… suckers!” as I coast past gridlock in mall parking structures on my bicycle. Schadenfreude is really underrated, you know.

2) I resolve to continue swearing like a mule skinner whenever possible. Even around kids. Especially around kids.

3) I resolve not to watch a lot of important art house movies in the coming year. I’m totally in touch with my inner magpie, and Speed Racer looks shiny.

4) I will not buy a hybrid car in 2008.

5) I will not get around to cleaning out my hall closet and throwing away those festering doodads that have been in there for a decade.

6)Except the Battenburg lace Christmas tree angel that my aunt gave me a few years ago which I will probably put on eBay just because it’s completely pointless and it makes it harder for me to find my tools when I need them.

7) You know what? Fuck it. I’m just going to set the thing on fire, video it and post it to YouTube.

8) I don’t even know why my family keep buying me tree ornaments anyways. I haven’t had a tree since the early 1990’s.

9) I resolve to continue setting grossly inappropriate gifts on fire and posting the video to YouTube. Burning Mary Kay perfume (fire can only improve that smell) coming soon.

10) I resolve not to decrease my alcohol consumption during the coming year.

11) I will continue to call my cat “pinhead” even though that’s not her name.

12) I will continue to ignore whatever ridiculously overpriced skin product/procedure du jour is making the rounds. Goddammit, I earned these wrinkles.

13) I will continue to procrastinate…. later. Maybe. When I get around to it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Filed under: humor, Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 2008

Flickr Photos



Random Quote

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

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