Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

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, , , , , , , , , ,

Technology Wigs Me Out

One of the most horrible feelings in the world is the nausea-inducing panic of losing something that’s necessary to function and is a pain in the ass to replace.

Note that anything necessary to function is usually a pain in the ass to replace, although the key to the shed in the back where you keep the ladder that you only need once a year is an exception.

Since gas prices are rising (again) here in Southern California, I’ve opted to commute on my bicycle whenever possible in order to avoid pump-induced nausea and anger.

I really do enjoy riding the bike. Not only is it more economical, but I see a lot more interesting stuff when I’m not sealed in the car singing along to a certain teenybopper pop icon who keeps putting his feet into his adorable almost post-adolescent mouth.

The downside of bike commuting is that, in a way, it’s not as easy as driving. Instead of picking up the purse and locking the doors, I have to dig the locks (plural, since I’d like to keep said bike) out of my panniers, find a place to secure the bike, make sure anything that can be stolen is removed (bike computer, water bottle, super expensive blinky headlight that can blind astronauts in space), and then schlep the whole mess into wherever it is I’m going.

Sometimes I forget a step and leave something on the bike. Usually it’s the computer, but sometimes it’s the water bottle – call me paranoid but I feel weird about drinking from it after it’s been out in the world unsupervised – and sometimes it’s something more important.

The other day, I ran errands for most of the day, making numerous stops to pay bills, grocery up,  work in the garden, plot the demise of those goddamn squirrels, etc..

When I got home and discovered that I needed olives (hey, it’s not a martini without one), I dug in said panniers for my wallet.

Nothing. I dug again.

Still nothing.

I did that thing where I slapped my pockets.

Nothing.

Fuck.

So,  since I’m a sensible adult, I did the right thing and immediately called and cancelled my debit card.

I then sat a moment, thought about where I’d been and decided to retrace my steps.

First stop, the Whole Foods in Westwood.

Where the very nice lady at the customer service desk handed me the wallet that some kind person had turned in. Including the cards.

Awesome.

The worst part is that, since I technically did the right thing by cancelling the card, I couldn’t even be mad at myself. Just sheepish and grateful that there are still a few honest folks left in the cold, cruel world.

This morning, I went to the credit union and enquired about a replacement debit card, expecting to get the thing about waiting 10 days while they mailed it, etc.. Also, I wondered if they’d give me a refresher course in how to write a check, since it’s been so long I think I forgot.

“Sure thing!” the teller responded. “Fill out some paperwork and I’ll print one out right now.”

Wait. Print?

Turns out, they can print cards now. Actual credit cards. That work.

New debit card

They didn’t even charge me a service fee.

Freaky.

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

Saved by the call!

This afternoon, as I was cleaning the bathroom and wondering if I could somehow turn the power of PMS into a paycheck, a friend called and asked if I wanted to do a little data entry.

“It’ll be three or four hours of work and he’ll pay you $20.”

That’s a bit low for data entry, but it’s great if I want to distract myself from worrying about the fact that the “slow” season is approaching and what I’ve got in my savings account wouldn’t buy dinner at one of LA’s finer celebrity-infested restaurants.

“Great! I’ll have him email you!”

I suppose I should mention that, back in the days when the interwebz was still on dial-up and named AOL, I hurt my back (fell off a lift gate) and had to take a temp job which involved operating a ten-key. I sat at that fucking thing for eight of the most miserable months of my life. I’ve never been happier than the day I was well enough to quit and run back to the circus.

I’m still pretty fast on said ten-key, especially when I’m being paid a flat rate.

I figured I could finish the job in a couple of hours and then go for a bike ride to celebrate being underpaid to do menial labor (oh… Wait).

Imagine my surprise when I got a Google document which involved cutting and pasting URLs from websites. About 20,000 URLs, which I would have had to find myself (example: “Type the word Sears in field one and then paste the URL for Sears into field two”).

Holy shit. Even with one of those decommissioned space agency supercomputers (which I hear one can buy on Craig’s List), 1,000 trained monkeys and a shitload of cocaine, I doubted this was doable in less than a week.

When I called to  try to explain that this was way more complicated than four hours and $20, the response I got was “well, I wanted it by tomorrow morning, but do you need all day?”

Luckily, just at that moment, I got a call to work. Tomorrow.

Sweet.

So, even though I’ll only get 8 hours, the cut-and-paste nightmare will fall in someone else’s lap.

Life is good.

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

You can never find one when you want one

My garden, while only about a mile from where I used to live, is currently 8 miles away.

Interestingly, it takes the exact same amount of time to drive as it does to bike, and since the bike doesn’t burn $4 a gallon gas I usually prefer to ride than drive.

But lately I’ve had this shoulder issue, and it seems to cycle (no pun intended) between ‘getting better’ and  ‘won’t this thing ever stop fucking hurting’.

Today’s physical therapy appointment wasn’t until noon, and since I’ve been in a ‘getting better’ phase, I decided to bike instead of drive. Hey, I’m unemployed and gas is expensive (for the US).

So I hopped on the bike and headed out. I swear I behaved – I didn’t lean on the handlebars and I stayed off of the drops. I got to the garden fine – no pain and I felt really good. I dumped my veggie scraps into my compost bin, watered the seedlings (leeks, rutabegas, parsnips, beets and celery that looks like it’s not going to come up), admired the out-of-control fava beans (looks like I’m in for another 50 lb harvest from my tiny plot), and weeded for a few minutes.

I then headed out as I needed to be at the PT place.

About a mile into the return trip, I started hurting. Bad.

I then, for the first time in my life, decided to do the sensible thing and catch a bus back home.

I found a bus stop and sat. And sat, and sat and sat.

With the clock ticking (can’t be late, don’t want to anger tiny Asian woman who is torturing me), I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer and started riding, figuring eventually a bus would catch up to me and then I could give my poor shoulder some rest.

Except no bus came. I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping I’d see something – anything. Any bus would do.

Nope. Nothing.

Normally, when I’m biking, I have to avoid being flattened by a bus approximately every five minutes, so the complete lack of buses just when I really needed one was maddening.

Every time I looked back and didn’t see a bus, I’d let loose with a torrent of language that would likely shock a sailor. At one traffic light, a police car pulled up beside me, and the nice officer asked me what the problem was.

“I’m hurting and need to catch a bus, but now I can’t find one.”

“So.. they’re just like cops, then?”

Yes, indeed. Just like cops. Only not on a frantic manhunt which involves several innocent drivers getting shot up.

I finally saw a bus two block from my apartment.

Bastards.

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

I’m late but it’s not my fault

Late Sunday night I got a call to work a follow spot for a show on the Fox lot.

Fox is an easy commute for me, so I left about 40 minutes before call time, so I’d be able to perhaps grab a bite before we got called in.
I was driving east on Santa Monica when, for some odd reason, the traffic stopped. I figured it was an accident, so I cut around and finally ended up completely gridlocked at a barricade manned by the world’s most annoyed police officer. Then, I checked Twitter and found out the President was once again, screwing up traffic on the Westside during morning rush hour.
Can’t they have him sleep in until, say, 10?

So I sat there, in sight of the lot but unable to  get there. I begged the officer to let me abandon the car, walk across the road and then come back and get it later. No deal.

I then tried to get out of the car to get to the trunk to get my newspaper.

“I’m going to have to ask you to stay in your vehicle, ma’am”
I just really wanted something to look at besides the minute hand on my watch ticking further and further past my call time, but an annoyed peace officer with a large gun can be very persuasive.

Out of nowhere, a newsbot appeared at my driver’s side window. I wondered how the hell they’d gotten through the traffic.

“May we interview you about the traffic??

I declined, and gestured towards the increasingly irate looking police officer. “Interview him.”

The officer’s facial expression failed to change as he slowly reached down and put his hand on his truncheon.

The newsbot backed off.

Worst part was seeing the traffic from another street being released and causing a  horrible jam up at the entrance to the parking garage while I was still being held at the barricade.

Walked onto set one hour late. To the minute.

At least both camera operators, half the grip crew and the producer were also late.

Filed under: Work, , ,

Weekends can be dangerous

Some locations are only available on the weekends.

Parking garages in business parks, for example. Not shootable on weekdays when workers fill the spaces, but on weekends, they’re a wasteland just begging for some stunt driving, which is what we were shooting on Saturday.

This particular parking garage was in Santa Clarita, which, if you’re not familiar with Southern California geography, is north of the city and approximately three degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. It was so hot up there that I stopped having to pee despite drinking copious amounts of water all day. I’d just go to the bathroom for the opportunity to make a big puff out of toilet paper and desperately dab at whichever body part I could easily reach in a futile attempt to dry off.

We were shooting on the lower levels of the parking garage and were all very grateful for the cover provided by the roof. It was hot inside (and full of exhaust fumes, of course), but not nearly as hot as it was outside with the sun beating down and reflecting off the acres of cement and steel. Near the end of the day there was a shot on the roof of the garage (involving a helicopter and gunfire) but as we didn’t light it (a wide shot during a day exterior means little, if any lighting) our boss was the only one who had to be up there. Poor guy.

Despite the heat and the humidity (storms over the desert, while they’ve given us some lovely puffy clouds in the sky, have made it feel like Miami around here) the day went fairly smoothly – since we were doing driving shots all day the lighting was fairly simple and there’s a huge difference between the ‘artiste’ type of director and stunt directors. Stunt directors just want to get the stuff shot and move on so they can get their day while the drivers are still fairly alert.

Even the fairly simple stunts take a lot of time to set up, rehearse and shoot (and it’s not possible to rush stunt people) so we had a 14 hour day. In one of nature’s cruel jokes, just as we were leaving the temperature dropped and a nice refreshing cool(ish) breeze picked up.

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , , , , , ,

Attention single ladies of Los Angeles!

Want to nab yourself a man in that coveted 18 to thirtysomething demographic?

Well, hurry on down to the Arclight in Hollywood where you’ll find a whole bunch of fine upstanding young gentlemen taking photos with the Transformers cars.

Self-portrait with

You’d better move quickly, though, ladies. Soon, the cars will go away and the guys will go back home and fire up the Xbox – and then who knows when they’ll leave the house again?

More Transformers photo ops

Get one while you can!

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

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