Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Surprise, with an aftertaste of ouch

Sometimes one is just not prepared for the day one gets.

It was supposed to be a fairly light day, work-wise, which was just what I needed because tomorrow I know I’m going to get the shit beaten out of me.

We were supposed to change some tubes, run some light cable, then go home. Maybe 6 hours.

We showed up at 7 am, but the equipment we needed to start working didn’t arrive until 10 am, due to traffic.

Fine. Maybe 8 hours.

We changed our tubes, ran the cable we needed to run and were hopeful we might still get out by lunch.

Then, surprise!

We had another set full of fluorescent fixtures that no one knew about before. So we got more tubes, and changed those fixtures.

I suppose I should mention that the standard-issue fixture for drop ceilings (aka troffer), isn’t designed to have the tubes changed very often. The whole point of installing these fixtures is the lack of maintenance needed.

Stick them in the ceiling, and forget they were ever there. They should last for years.

Unless you rent out your space for shoots – then we have to change out the tubes for color balanced ones, which involves wrenching open the bottom of the fixture (the delicate plastic part), wrestling out the tubes by twisting them and swearing, breaking some of the tiny parts that aren’t that fucking important anyways because I have to do 100 more of these fucking things, shoving in tubes that are just a micron too long, so there’s more shoving and swearing and sweating and 20 years of dust from the fixture falls everywhere – which is really bad if you wear a bra, because guess where that dust likes to land?

You haven’t lived until you’ve stood in the shower and tried to scrub off a combo of asbestos* dust and sweat.

But we got it all done, albeit a bit later than we’d originally intended.

Then, we got the call.

Something, somewhere, had changed.

We had to go back to all the fixtures and change the tubes for a different color.

Dammit.

I’d just used up all my baby wipes scraping off the asbestos. Now I was going to get covered in it again and itch all the way home in rain traffic.

The rain isn’t predicted until midnight, but the mere mention of water falling from the sky is enough to send the entire city into a blind panic.

All of us were hoping to be home before said panic.

Alas, it was not to be and I spent 1.5 hours crawling home on a route that should have taken me 20 minutes.

Thanks, rain.

I’ll be standing outside all day tomorrow.

 

 

*If you’re in an office building built before the era of ‘holy shit this causes cancer’, look up. See those white tiles on the ceiling? They’re not the asbestos (maybe). The asbestos is the weird popcorn looking stuff that’s sprayed everywhere between those tiles and the actual ceiling. Calm down, it’s not going to get to you. Unless you’ve rented out the building to a movie, and the riggers came in and changed the tubes. If that happened, your lungs are fucked – but it’s okay, you won’t have any issues until you’re old and decrepit and too old to care. Or so I’m told. Excuse me while I cough. It’s totally unrelated.

 

 

Filed under: crack of dawn, cranky, hazardous, locations, movies, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Time for a rest.

Pilot season – when, unsurprisingly, the pilots for next season’s new TV shows are shot – is officially over.

Since I didn’t get a spot on a crew, I bounced around between three shows, sometimes only getting a few hours of turnaround before guzzling coffee and going to work another job.

Also, there’s a 5 am mental barrier for me.

Getting up at 5? Fine. No problem.

Getting up at 4:30? Anxiety about oversleeping which results in sleep so fitful I’d be more rested had I stayed up and shopped for shoes on eBay, especially since one of these shows was with a gaffer I love working for, but who is absolutely intolerant of anyone being even a nanosecond late to work.

In production world, 15 minutes before call is on time, and exactly at call time is late. Well, not late, but…frowned upon.

So I got there 20 minutes early every morning. And I worked. And then I worked. And I worked some more. And when I didn’t have work, I called our union hall and got send out on a job immediately, because there was so much work.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy going out on hall calls. I get to meet new people, who may hire me in the future, and in fact one best boy who had me as a hall call recommended me for full-time spot on a show. I didn’t get it, but it’s the thought that counts.*

Now it’s all over.

The pilots are finished, and the established episodics are ending their season within the next week or so, so it’s down time.

Which is a really good thing for me, because over the weekend I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and am now covered in hives.

Since I can’t seem to do anything that’s not excessive, these aren’t normal hives. They’re super hives that have spread into giant weeping mats of  blisters.

I can blame the initial upper respiratory infection on what the newsbots are calling the worst allergy season in 30 years, combined with working in a junkyard (which may or may not allow toxic waste if you slip the right person a few hundred bucks), and the city deciding to jackhammer the alley behind my place presumably for the sole purpose of coating the entire neighborhood in dust from the Yorty administration.  You know, for the lulz.

Of course I had to go off the antibiotics, and I have to wait until the reaction subsides before I start anything new.

So I’m itching, oozing, staggering around like a drunk, and coughing like a tubercular Victorian poet.

The elderly woman three apartments down keeps bringing me matzoh ball soup, which is great, but it’s 90 degrees and I don’t really want anything hot.

On the upside, WordPress has brought back the built-in spell check, so I can be lazy when I type.

Yay!

*It really does count, because a bad referral usually reflects badly on the person who made it, as in “What the fuck with that guy? You said he was good. You must be smoking shoelaces.” So any time anyone throws my name in for a job, I take that as a huge compliment even if I don’t get the call.

Filed under: california, crack of dawn, cranky, hazardous, locations, Los Angeles, mishaps, toxic waste, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

The check is in the mail

Ten days ago, I worked a micro budget favor job for a friend of mine who is trying to move up the food chain (which, of course, necessitates moving down the food chain first) and shoot.

I don’t have a problem with favor jobs. I don’t mind helping out friends or people who need it, but since my landlord won’t accept good intentions, I usually expect to be paid the amount I was promised.

The amount I was promised for this particular job was relatively small, but every little bit helps, and I factored that pay into the monthly budget. Job was on Friday, we were told checks would be mailed Monday.

No check.

Then we were told checks would be mailed Thursday.

Mailed on Thursday means it should show up in my mailbox on Saturday, or Monday at the latest.

Monday: No check.

Today, I worked a day on a commercial (and thankfully I know they’ll pay), and figured I’d look again when I got home.

No check, although I did get a dividend for some worthless stock – it’ll buy a shitty bottle of wine. But at least they paid, goddammit.

This is even more annoying because this was supposed to be a cash job.

Some time ago, crews got wise to the ‘promise and then skip out’ tactic, and began to demand cash. Usually at the end of the night, but some production companies had to pay upfront, and then pay again if they wanted more work.

I know, that statement makes us seem like greedy assholes, but you can only get burned so many times before you stop trying to make people like you.

So at the end of the day, we walked up to the money man, expecting to be handed envelopes.

He looked shocked.

“I never promised anyone cash. I never pay cash! Who told you I’d give you cash?”

I think that’s when we all knew.

Knew we were going to have to fight.

I haven’t had to do this in a long time – hopefully I won’t have to go to the office and make a scene, but I won’t hesitate if that’s what I have to do.

Remind me to tell the baseball bat story. It involves a shady production company, a bounced check, and a baseball bat.

Or someone who is currently working micro-budget can tell it, since I’m sure it’s the same story.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Filed under: cranky, life in LA, mishaps, movies, rants, Work, , , , , ,

I see dead people

For the past few weeks, it’s been extremely hot and humid here in Los Angeles.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always hot this time of year, but the wonderful thing about living in an arid climate is that it cools off at night so, for a few hours, there is some relief. The important hours – when one is trying to rest without sweating like the proverbial whore in church.

Not lately.

It’s been so awful at night that sleep has been impossible – and not just for me.

Everyone on the crew (maybe the cast, too, but they have makeup) have black circles under their eyes and are downing coffee (iced, of course) as fast as they can.

It’s not just us, though. Tempers are flaring all over the city, as the police cope with near-record cases of cranky pants.

Excessive horn-honking, overly aggressive shouts of “points” when one isn’t carrying anything, passive-aggressive latte ordering, crafty grabbing*, scuffles over shaded parking spaces, crowded beaches,

Today, I snarled at a man in the grocery store for breathing.

No, really. That’s all he was doing. Through his nose, making that goddamn high-pitched whistle from hell.

I’ll kill him.

Wait…

I mean it’s cooled off tonight and maybe I can get some sleep so I’ll feel less homicidal tomorrow.

Although I have a 4 pm call in northeast Bumfuck, so I doubt it.

*Those peanut butter cups are mine. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

Filed under: crack of dawn, cranky, distant location, life in LA, locations, long long drives, Los Angeles, Work, , , , ,

I am so over 2015

Right before Christmas, I learned that a swim buddy who had gone to the doctor for stomach pain had been diagnosed with stage four gastric cancer.

In case you’re not familiar with stage four, it means ‘get your affairs in order, and soon’.

It was the last thing anyone expected – we knew he’d not been feeling well, but to go from “I need an antacid” to “They tell me I’m going to die and they can’t help me”, well, that’s… difficult.

We all want life to be fair. Good things should happen to good people, right?

People who love everyone and bring nothing but joy to the lives of others deserve all the best – like winning the powerball and dating vapid supermodels while relaxing in their obscenely awesome mansions.

Good people don’t deserve to be blindsided by the news that’s they’re going to die, painfully, really soon.

And when they do die, it hurts like hell.

You think it’s easier if you have time to prepare, but it’s not.

I can give you advance warning that I’m going to hit you in the head with a brick, and you can brace all you like, but you’re still getting hit in the head with a brick.

In the midst of all this, a co-worker headed home to the San Fernando Valley after working a day at Fox.

Since said co-worker had a newborn baby at home, he opted to ride his motorcycle so he could get home faster and spend more time with his son.

As he crossed over the Sepulveda Pass, two cars collided.

I’ve heard two stories.

One was a car swerving out of control, the other was flying debris.

Either story results in him dying on the scene.

The local news kept showing pictures of his downed motorcycle while trying to placate the irritated commuters who just wanted to get home.

Perhaps to their newborn sons.

The memorial services for both men were the same weekend. One on Saturday, one on Sunday. Both were lovely, thoughtful attempts to celebrate a life.

But both services had the feeling that something, somewhere, was just not fucking fair, and someone, somewhere, needed to fucking do something about it.

FYI, given a choice, I’d choose the hit to the head with no warning.

The knowledge that it’s coming just makes it worse.

But thank your deity of choice that all the shitty stuff happened in January.

You know, get it all over with right away.

Or.. not.

A week ago, one of my teeth started to ache.

Said tooth has always been… difficult, ever since getting a shitty National Health filling while living in a certain un-named place.

Said shitty filling broke right after college and became an even larger shitty filling which never stopped giving me problems, but I’d go to the dentist, she’d say my bite was ‘off’, and grind until said bite was back on.

Then, Saturday, I had a nice hot cup of coffee and it felt like someone hit me in the side of the head with a very hot nail-studded brick.

All weekend I figured it was my bite, again.

Then, Monday, when I saw the dentist, I got The Look.

You know, the look you get when someone is about to tell you something that is exactly the opposite of what you wanted to hear.

“This isn’t a bite thing any longer, and I can’t fix it. The tooth is making you sick. I’m going to refer you to an oral surgeon”.

Then, the dreaded words: Root canal.

I’d never had a root canal, but I’d heard horror stories.

I must have paled or pissed myself or screamed or something, because she felt the need to pass me a tissue and assure me that the oral surgeons were ‘very good’ and I’d feel better right away.

I assumed I’d go for a consult – but when they finally saw me 90 minutes late (speaking of the brick and the warning, think about 90 minutes sitting in the waiting room of an oral surgeon reading the pamphlets about everything that can go wrong with various teeth), I was ushered into a room where a nice lady tried to chat about the weather while laying out instruments which would have given the Spanish Inquisition a massive boner. Or something.

So I had part (one – two is next week) of a root canal, which, honestly, wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

Now my biggest problem is craft service and the lack of soft food.

Let’s all hope that’s it for the year.

Please, let this be it for the year.

Filed under: cranky, mishaps, Non-Work, , , , , , ,

Happy New Year

As is normal for the first part of January, I’m unemployed. Even in busy years, January just doesn’t see that much action.

Although this normally worries me (even though it’s been happening for years), I guess it’s not a terrible thing as this week I seem to have picked up some unholy cough from hell. I’m talking bent double with spasms in my lungs, wheezing like an asthmatic pug.

It could be that it was 40 degrees last week and 80 degrees this week, or it could be the 8 percent humidity, or it could be the sudden lack of cat hair in my lungs.

Or, I could have caught the plague when I was flying across the country on the screaming baby express.

Who knows?

I’m sure I don’t have the flu, since I haven’t got body aches or a fever, but whatever it is has moved into my lungs and is picking out wallpaper. Or something.

I’m just glad it’s relatively warm here. According to my sister, the high at her place tomorrow is supposed to be 2 degrees (F).

I love you, California.

I do have one day of work this week, but I’ll be up in a condor so hopefully no one will hear me wheeze.

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

Hooray! A computer!

After a return and about 15 angry emails, I now have a semi-working computer, which is great.

This one came with a bad SATA cable, but I yanked a good one out of the old machine and it’s fine.

It’s going to have to be fine.  I can’t deal with another return. I’ll murder someone.

What’s also great is that I’ve got a show. Not day playing on a show, but full-time on a show that’s running for 9 weeks.

It’ll take me through Thanksgiving, and it’s shooting at Sony, which is close to my apartment – not as close as Fox, but still under half an hour in the car and once it cools off I’ll be able to bike to work in about 40 minutes.

Sweet.

Since I’m going to be at the same lot for nine weeks, I decided to splurge and join the on-lot gym as it’s right there and instead of going to my gym and then driving back to work I can just show up early, work out and then go hit crafty (hey, I deserve it. I worked out). Also, being able to take a shower after a bike ride to work is awesome.

There’s been this big thing with the studios of going ‘green’ – not allowing bottled water on sets, replacing lawns with fake grass, etc… but not one of them have set ups for bike commuters (lockers and showers), which seems to me would be pretty fucking green.

Guess they can’t get tax credits for having non-smelly bike commuters.

So after work today I waltzed over to the gym, credit card in hand, ready to sign up and work out.

Turns out, it doesn’t work like that.

One has to leave one’s email at the front desk with one’s name, show, guild or union affiliation, and email.

Then, after checking out your (probably bullshit, you sweaty fucking liar) story, someone will contact you and inform you of their decision.

In my case, the powers-that-be have deigned to allow me access.

Hooray.

Before I can go and work out, though, I must fill out a questionnaire, about my medical history, my family’s medical history, my workout history and general fat-assedness, and my primary care physician’s contact information.

Then, in block text, they WILL CONTACT MY PHYSICIAN TO DETERMINE IF I AM ABLE TO BEGIN A WORKOUT PROGRAM.

That one made me blink.

Begin? Begin?

Not to give away my age here, but I began a workout program when leg warmers and butt floss were acceptable gym-wear.

Except for the occasional surgery or distant location, I’ve never stopped working out.

I’ve never stopped riding my bike whenever possible.

I’ve never stopped trying to swim the stress away.

I’ve never stopped working out my problems by lifting weights.

So I have to decide if I want to attach a snarky letter to my application or let them call my doctor and let him be snarky.

I think I should let him be snarky. He so rarely gets the chance.

 

 

Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, movies, overspending, rants, studio lots, Work, , , , , , ,

Computerless for what seems like an eternity.

Call me a Luddite, but I love my desktop.

There’s something…civilized about sitting at a desk and writing. Nice big monitor, upright posture, movable keyboard (in case one’s posture becomes less upright), desk lamp (no green shade, though), space for the cat, no sore thumbs or cooked lap.

A little over a week ago, my elderly desktop finally died.

It’s been coming for a while. It got slower and slower, had to think about things longer and longer, and eventually became unable to play internet cat videos, which we all know spells doom.

So, I backed up my data (learned that lesson the hard way), and started browsing eBay for another tower.

The new tower got here the day the old computer died.

So I started to hook up the new tower and then noticed something odd about the monitor output. It was white, not blue, and had extra pins.

Great. More fuckery.

A friend lent me DVI-D monitor, and I turned on the new computer expecting blazing fast cat videos and… nothing.

Not even a peep. Not even BIOS. I tried opening the tower and checking the connections, I tried a different monitor, I tried screaming, I tried threats. Nothing.

So the new tower is DOA – which, I suppose isn’t a surprise given they shipped it parcel post wrapped in one layer of bubble wrap and no ‘fragile’ sticker.

I have a smart phone, but I hate trying to write more than one paragraph on it – the whole picking out letters on the tiny digital keyboard makes me want to find the cutest puppy in the entire world and kick the ever-loving crap out of it.

I now have a newer, much more expensive computer (with a warranty from a higher-rated seller) in transit, but it won’t be here until Monday and that’s the day I’m starting a new show – at a lot close enough to the house to bike!

So hopefully I’ll be back online before too much more time passes, and too many more puppies get kicked.

Filed under: computer, cranky, humor, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , ,

It’s there, but I don’t have it

It’s been a very long time since I fell asleep at the wheel while driving home.

The first time, it was after a 16+ hour overnight in the high desert and I dozed off while stuck in rush hour gridlock. I woke up when my face hit the steering wheel, but luckily my foot never came off the brake.

There have been a few more times over the years – mostly just weaving on the road and having to roll down the windows or stomp the floor of the car with my left foot.

It just became a thing. Night work meant a fun drive home trying to out-weave the drunks, but I never felt concerned (if I should have is another post).

But I was really frightened Saturday morning when I dozed off while travelling southbound on the 405 at approximately 80 mph.

Luckily, I just weaved in my lane and then stomped the hell out of the floor of my car and made it home.

Wait.. let me back up.

This time of year work is thin, so when I got a call to work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I said yes before I asked any questions.

It was only after I was booked that the best boy told me it would be all nights on the other side of town.

Nights bother me a lot more now than they did when I was younger – I have a much harder time adjusting, and if I’m flipping between days and nights it’s even worse.

It would have been bad form for me to say ‘no’ after accepting the job, even with the construction in the unit above me (they say they’re remodeling it, but really I just think they’re chopping holes in the walls, patching them and cutting them out again just for practice), so I was stuck.

Lucky for me I was with a wonderful bunch of guys that I really like a lot – but that construction starts up at 7 am and I can’t sleep later, even with earplugs and a white noise machine, so even with the interim days off I spent an entire week on so little sleep I think it might have qualified as cruel and unusual.

As an added bonus, Friday’s pre-call ‘breakfast’ of a seemingly harmless turkey burger resulted in a three-day bout with rotavirus.

I got picked up for this week as well, which is great, but it’s been 7 am call times all week. Between the sleep loss and the power cleanse today was the first day I’ve felt even vaguely human.

Tomorrow, our call time is 6 am in west bumfuck, so I will have to get out of bed at 4:30. AM.

We have 9 pages to shoot, but it’s all day exterior and we don’t have enough lamps to make daylight*, so it can’t go all that late.

Since I didn’t post anything last week, please enjoy an apology photo of uplit trees and a condor with someone besides me in the basket:

P1050103

 

*It is possible to shoot day exterior at night, but you need a lot of equipment. Like a 48 foot trailer full of HMIs. Then, when the sun goes down, we unload the truck and curse our poor life decisions.

 

 

 

 

Filed under: crack of dawn, cranky, locations, long long drives, movies, Photos, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , ,

It’s resolution time!

No, not mine.

At this stage of my life, I’ve given up all hope of self-improvement and am just aiming for remembering to brush my teeth.

No, no.. it’s that time of year when folks make a resolution to get in shape and descend on the gym like a horde of sweaty, confused locusts.

While I certainly want to encourage people to exercise, this time of year can be unpleasant for those of us who have become accustomed to the less-populated gym of the off months.

I realize it’s not possible for the staff to walk everyone through the basics of gym citizenship, so here’s a few points directed at the resolution crowd:

1. Re-rack your weights. For fuck’s sake – do you think those dumbbells are going to grow eyes and legs and show themselves back to the rack? Of course you don’t. Fucking pick them up and put them back. If I trip over them I’ll tie your shoelaces together while you’re sitting on a bench chatting.

2. Speaking of which, if you’re not actively using something, don’t fucking sit on it. It’s not your private garage fitness room, it’s a space you have to share with several hundred of your new best friends. Normally, I’d say watch the bodybuilders and do what they do, but those bastards plant their asses and proceed to gossip like fishwives, so in this regard, ignore them and keep the long involved conversations to the juice bar or the couches in the lounge area.

3. You might think that eau de mouffette dans un jardin smells divine. You might want to douse yourself with three bottles of it before you work out just to share. Please don’t.  This goes double and triple for the pool and the steam room. Do, however, feel free to liberally apply deodorant. Please, for the love of all that’s fucking holy, liberally apply deodorant.

4. Wipe your sweat off of the equipment. You’re carrying that towel around for a reason – it’s certainly not a fashion statement. If I have to scrub something down before I can use it, I’m going to find you and bill you.

5. The cardio areas and the pool get very, very crowded. Please, if you see people waiting, keep it to a half an hour. I know, I know. No one likes to have to get off the treadmill or out of the pool after only half an hour (personally, I hate it), but remember we’re sharing space here. If you stick it out, the gym will eventually be less crowded and you’ll be able to stay on for the full hour (or even more!)

6. Speaking of the pool, at various times of the day classes will reserve lanes. Although this particular gym has a masters swim program (and we’re pretty mellow), mostly they’re aqua exercise classes populated by sweet little old ladies who will gut you like a trout if you don’t get out of that lane three seconds ago. You’ve been warned.

7. If you don’t know how to use something, ask. One of the trainers will help you, or if you can’t find them, another gym member will be more than happy to walk you through how to properly use the kegelnator.

8. Please be nice to the locker room attendants. They’re very nice ladies (gentlemen on the guys’ side) and have to clean a bathroom all day, every day. Think about that before you scream at them.

9. This particular gym provides towels. It’s a very nice amenity, and we’d like the gym to continue to provide it and not decide it’s too much of a pain in the ass to bother with. So pick them up and place them in the hamper when you’re done with them. They’ll be happy to be with their friends.

10. Gentlemen, if you’re rocking those 70’s style running shorts, please wear an athletic supporter underneath. Sit ups and unsupported junk in tiny shorts is something I can’t unsee no matter how much I drink.

Happy New Year and have a great workout!

Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , , ,

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