Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Good news, everyone!

Normally one likes to ease into work after being idle for months.  It gives a chance to adjust to the hours, the early rising (which I do anyways, so no change there), the heavy lifting and the bad air from construction and paint.

Most of the time, that wish isn’t granted and one just gets thrown into 50 hours per week of whatever it is one’s not used to (heights, heat, cold, smelly air, Michael Bay).

One goes from wondering if there’s ever going to be any work to wondering if it’s possible to survive the week of work.

It does make it easier with wonderful nice co-workers and a boss who’s the greatest guy on earth, but still.

Monday was my last day (bonus day! Hooray!), and after a Tuesday of doing nothing and swallowing aspirin like there was no tomorrow, today I went to see Dr. Dreamboat to assess the shoulder and my general well-being after 11 days of paint fume-fueled upper body workout.

Turns out, the shoulder’s not bad. It’s ouchy, but it’s  not as jacked up as I’d feared.  Which is good.

I know you’re waiting for bad news, but there isn’t any. The shoulder is doing well, and I’m very pleased.

Next mission is to try to get a day at the end of the week – or, failing that, next week.  Yay work!

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

Sweaty and itchy

Most types of lights have ‘tails’ with heavy rubber jackets, but some units, like striplights, far cycs, and cyc strips, are hung and tilted down (positioning the tail on top of the light where the heat vents) which makes the heat too much for standard coatings, and a special fireproof jacket is used.

Back in the day, these jackets were made of asbestos, but now they’re a type of woven fiberglass cloth stuff:

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I’m not 100 % sure which material we’re looking at here.

Whatever this is sheds bits all over the place, and any contact that it makes with bare skin results in ferocious itching. Should one manage to wash the whatever-they-are particles off the skin, the particles that have lodged in one’s shirt will take up residence on said freshly washed arms.

My first job Monday morning was to circuit (connect to power, label, etc..) the far cycs, and I got that fiber all over me.

Certain types of pain one just learns to live with. I’m standing for 12 hours and my feet hurt. Got it. I’m lifting things all day and my shoulders hurt. Expected. The painters are spraying right under me and my sinuses are clogged. Yup, that’s normal.

But then one thing like itching gets thrown in the mix and it all goes to hell. All of a sudden I notice the aching feet and the smell of paint and the sweat pooling up in my bra. And it bothers me.

Right at the apex of my itchy nightmare, I was sent ‘up high’ to feed some cable out of the perms.

Oddly enough, the sweat rolling off me (no, really. It was about 110 degrees in the perms) was what finally stopped the itching.

Today, I outsmarted the fiber from hell and wore a long-sleeved shirt while I worked. Then, I finished and removed said shirt by pulling it over my head, which deposited the fiber in my hair, so my head itched all day.

I can’t win for losing.

Just for posterity, I’d like to point out that actual asbestos is marginally less itchy than the fiberglass stuff.

How I know that is probably a blog post all on its own.

Filed under: hazardous, Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Work light

Temporary worklight, in the permanents.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , ,

What? I can’t hear you

At the same time we’re running cable in the perms, construction are, well, constructing.

Although there’s no video, this is audio of three different saws plus the shouts of co-workers desperately trying to communicate.

Oddly enough, the one saw that was making me insane (teeth grinding, ears ringing) seems to be outside the decibel range that the phone can record. It’s that very low rumbling noise.

Welcome to the rigging crew. At least we managed to get the really loud radio turned off.

Earplugs aren’t an option as I have to be able to hear my co-workers and rigging crews don’t have walkies (on The Island, we had earplugs over the walkie headsets and those heavy-duty headphones for shooting ranges over that. Still didn’t work, though).

I ended up wadding up napkins from the cafe and shoving them in my ears, and they worked surprisingly well. The noise level went from “I’m going to kill someone” to “It’s loud, but I’m okay”, and I still managed to hear my boss, so all was well.

Have I mentioned how super happy I am to be working?

In much more important news, the cat is fine.  She’s holding down her overpriced cat food with overpriced quail eggs on top (don’t judge – she’s the kitty equivalent of 90, so every calorie counts and a chicken egg is too much since I don’t want to scrub down the litter box every day), and walking on my face while I’m trying to sleep.

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

Nature hands me my ass

I had it all figured out for today – I was going to get up early, pack my lunch, and then walk the two blocks to the bus stop so I could save some gas and get that nice eco-smug feeling. What’s not to love?

The bus was due at 6:05 (have to be across town for a 7 am call), and as I was getting ready to leave, the cat started following me around and crying.

I picked her up and was petting her, then her eyes bulged and a veritable fountain of vomit erupted. She didn’t even make that ‘huk huk huk’ noise. Just puked.

It went everywhere.  Down my shirt, into my bra, in my hair where I turned my head to keep said puke out of my mouth.

Since I definitely didn’t want to spend the next 11 hours smelling like cat barf (or any barf, really), I peeled off my now very gross clothes and hopped in the shower.

So much for that bus ride.

After a frantic wash and clothing change, I looked at the time and went pale. I might make it, I might not, and one can never predict what the traffic’s going to do.

So, I texted the best boy with the information that I might be late because my cat barfed on me.

Worst. Excuse. Ever.

Shockingly, I made it to work with minutes to spare and we climbed up into the perms.

In response to a comment on the last post – not only do rigging crews not get lunch*, they don’t even get air conditioning.

The air is only turned on when the shooting company arrives. Since it’s currently July, it’s quite hot in the perms.

Our boss has made the very sensible decision that we’re only to be ‘up high’ before lunch, and then in the hottest part of the day we come down and do work on the floor (wiring fixtures, labelling equipment, etc…).

So the morning was all about sweat and sore muscles (after two days of carrying cable, I’m in serious pain), and the afternoon was all about frustration as we attempted to re-install some fixtures from last season in exactly the same places they were before.

The clock ran out before we finished, so we’ll have to try to pick it up tomorrow.

After we were dismissed, I walked out to my car, which was parked on the street as this particular lot has the most difficult parking ever so it’s  just easier.

I’d parked under a tree and the avian residents had left their calling card, so to speak.

Although the idea was to get back across town before the traffic got too bad, I had to stop and get the car washed, as I couldn’t see out of the windshield.

Damn animals.

*Film crews can either be on production, which means the shooting unit, or off production, which means anything not actively making the movie. On production means one gets free parking, free meals, climate control and craft service. Off production means you get reasonable hours (usually) and don’t have to carry a walkie, but you have to pay for your own food and parking (depending where you are. Paramount Studios, for example, charges for parking, but if you’re on production you get a voucher. Riggers have to suck up and pay it).

Filed under: long long drives, mishaps, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Finally, some good news.

This has been a bad year for work.

Actually, it’s been beyond bad. It’s been an unmitigated disaster – I’ve worked approximately 10 days since January 1st.

Mainly I’ve just been trying to fill my time in between wringing my hands and wondering what’s to become of me.

Texts to various best boys about if they’ve got anything have been met with either “I’m out-of-town” or “I’m looking for work, too!”

The irony is that there does seem to be a fair amount of work out there, it’s just not with anyone with whom I have any sort of professional connection. Guess I need to start attending mixers or that annual bowling party that’s a 90 minute drive east or something.

I’m certain I’ve had a year this bad before, I’m just hard pressed to remember it.

On the bright side, I’ve shaved almost 10 seconds off my 50 meter freestyle.

But starting Monday, I have two solid weeks of work.

It’s rigging on a multi-camera sitcom, and I’m beyond pleased to get it.

Two solid weeks.

It’ll be 100 hours into my health insurance (I have to work 400 hours per semester, and I have until October 10th to get the remaining 300), a paycheck and  a badly needed injection of optimism.

Today, I went to the grocery store and splurged on some chicken, veggies and various goodies (apples, grapes, those teeny little packages of trail mix) to pack  for lunch so I don’t have to eat the overpriced slop at the commissary (in all fairness, calling the commissary food slop is an insult to slop).

I’ll also enjoy working with some wonderful folks that I really like, and I can take public transit and save both the wear-and-tear on the car and the rage-inducing miz-maze that passes for parking on this particular lot.

Except on Mondays – I have swim on Mondays and I’m not going to give up that hard-won 10 seconds.

I have to take the victories where I can get them.

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

WARNING: OFF TOPIC! If my Vagina shot bullets, could I conceal it from Rick Perry and John Kasich?

My favorite octogenarian bloggers tell it like it is. Reblogged for your pleasure, ’cause there’s nothing like granny with bee in her bonnet.

Margaret and Helen

Margaret, if my vagina could shoot bullets it would have fewer regulations on it.  Plus, it would be easier to conceal from idiot politicians like Rick Perry and John Kasich.  And while that might be a bit graphic for even me, it’s a sad but very true statement.  We women in Texas (I can’t speak for the women of Ohio) are madder than hell and I think it’s time again for another Ann Richards to come make things right – God rest her soul.  Years ago she said that government should “open the doors and let the people in.”  Well ready or not, here we come.  And this time, we’re bringing a Harvard grad named Senator Wendy Davis.

For years now, Governor Perry has waged a war on women based on conversations he has with God and his pastor.  It’s a given that Rick’s god speaks to…

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Filed under: Non-Work, Off-Topic

You lose some, you win some.

I love fava beans. Love them. Fresh much more so than dried.

So every year I plant them in my garden. Some years are better than others – but most of the time I get at least 20 lbs. of beans.

This year started off looking promising. In addition to the perennialized beans that come up year after year, I’d planted two other varieties that I’d purchased from Baker Creek Seed Company and things were growing well. I thought perhaps it was looking like a 50 lb. year.

Then, the weather turned dry. Dry for Southern California, which is very, very dry indeed.

The rats (they’re everywhere in the city – in the trees, in the hedges, in your crawl space. Don’t think you don’t have them because you do), understandably desperate for water, turned to my fava beans.

And destroyed them.

My total yield for the year? 12 lbs. I ate what I had and didn’t share (normally I can, dry, or give away as much as I keep) and was very, very disappointed indeed. I think there weren’t even enough beans left to seed  for next year, so I’m going to have to start fresh in the winter.

At the same time, I planted scarlet runner beans. I’d never planted them before, and they went crazy in my garden. Because I didn’t  trellis them properly (not enough room. The vines supposedly only grow to 6 feet, but mine are closer to 10), they’ve formed a sort of thicket (which is overtaking my garden – I’ve had to get the shears and cut back to save the life of an innocent tomato), and now the beans are getting ready to harvest.

I won’t get 50 lbs, but I’ll probably get 20.

Scarlet Runner Beans

These are the first of the beans. When  I was reaching into the plant to grab the pods,  I found a hummingbird nest – abandoned, as babies and mama have moved on, but still awesome.

I did have someone tell me that beans inhibit the growth of tomato plants, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The tomatoes that are near the bean thicket are growing really quickly and are super healthy.

I have two weeks of work starting the 15th. It’s all the way across town, but it’s work and  I’m incredibly grateful for it.

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

Newsflash…Children cause pain and suffering.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a favor job setting up a kid’s day camp. Which was fine – it’s good for the delinquents to get off the street, and I got grocery money.

Every little bit helps, right?

The only problem is that part of the job was lifting some fairly heavy boxes (unassembled bookshelves, mainly). Which was also fine, except that my partner in said lifting was a 17-year-old camp counselor who didn’t understand how to do things like communicate with a partner, or keep hanging on when asked to.

Me: “I’m going to  step back to get around this…”

Kid: “Step back?”

(loud crash and scream)

Box, meet toe.

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Sexy!

I can’t even be mad about it.

I’ve had more years than I care to admit to learn to do this stuff without killing my partner.  All of us who do this sort of thing for a living develop the understanding of how to work with a partner – how to communicate, how to read body language, how to walk backwards while carrying a slippery dimmer pack up equally slippery stairs, how to NOT LET GO.

But we all remember the day when we didn’t know it.

Just like the kid. And the feeling that one gets when one hurts a co-worker is terrible. So yelling wouldn’t have done anything other than crush Junior’s tender spirit.

Lucky for me, the toe’s not broken, it’s just… horrible. And kind of throbbing, but I’m so grossed out by the idea of stabbing it with  a needle that I’m just going to tough it out.

No sandals for me this summer!

Or, toenail polish, which I don’t normally wear, but I’m sure it’s better than the black blob.

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

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