Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Gasping for air

I’m coming to the end of my physical therapy, and things have improved with the shoulder. I’ve been doing some light swimming – mostly at my gym, where they offer what’s called a masters program, but is mostly a form and skills practice with moderate yardage.

Today, when I showed up at the gym for the 6 am swim, I was told that the swim was cancelled as the coach had a family emergency.

Since I was out of bed anyways, I checked my SCAQ schedule and saw that there was a 6:30 swim nearby, so I headed out, thinking that if it got too hard, I could just tell the instructor I was injured and sandbag my way though the workout.

It wasn’t marked on the schedule, but this particular swim turned out to be an IM. Normally, I prefer IM workouts since they’re varied and more interesting than just 3,000 yards of freestyle, but recently I’ve been ‘dialing it back’ at the insistence of the physical therapist.

Just to be safe, I got in the slow lane.

The workout started with some freestyle, and after being driven absolutely batty by the woman in front of me, who was swimming slower than I wanted to but too fast for me to pass, the IM portion of the swim started.

Surprisingly, the stroke that bothered my shoulder the most was the backstroke, not the butterfly, but I still managed to make it all the way through the workout.

The downside is that I’ve not really done any really hard swimming for a while so after the workout I dragged myself out of the pool and kind of flopped around on the deck like some sort of pasty white fish badly in need of an 8 am martini*.

I’m very happy at having been able to make it through the workout, even if I had to go home and nap afterwards.

Next up: Is there any work in Los Angeles at all and if so, will someone hire me?

*I settled for a cup of coffee and a chocolate muffin (since even though I’m single it’s supposedly the day to eat chocolate).

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

Home again, at last.

Long ago, at a party, a friend who had spent her entire adult life in a wheelchair said to me “When you’re handicapped, everything is a procedure.”  At the time, I nodded sagely and sipped my drink while I tried to look like I had a fucking clue what she was talking about.  After the last 24 hours, I completely – truly – understand.

I’m still working on the procedure, but since I’ve only been up and about for the past day, it’s all fairly new.  At my wonderful saintly friends’ house, the only time I had to get up was to go to the toilet – everything was brought to me and I even had help taking a bath. Now, I’m on my own and were there webcams in my house, my antics would be comedy classics.

See me try to carry a cup of coffee (yes, I know it was stupid) while on crutches and spill it all over the cat!

See me trip over a throw rug!

See me try to coax hissing coffee-soaked cat down from the top of the bookshelf!

See me try to retrieve errant crutches after they fall just out of reach!

See me try to wash the dishes and keep my foot propped up at the same time!

Best of all – see me try to bend over and pick something up off of the floor!

Hilarious.

I’m sure it’ll get better – I just missed out on the crutch practice days that I would have had without the complications.

Because nothing ever seems to go all that smoothly for me, I picked up a staph infection at the hospital. Not at the incision site – on the top of the foot. I was fine at first, but as soon as the hospital’s anesthesia wore off, the foot began feel like it was on fire.  Since I have actually set fire to myself (on more than one occasion), this is a feeling that I know well and quite frankly don’t care for all that much.

The medication wasn’t helping the pain at all, so  the doctor was called and he told me to take more of the medication, which made me vomit. Repeatedly.  I have now officially poisoned myself with vicodin. Sweet. Remind me not to do it again. I don’t know how people get addicted to that stuff.

I got a better pain drug and was much happier once I managed to get my face out of the trash can.

Although I didn’t have internet, I had cable TV (I’m going to miss that), the best dog ever to keep me company and wonderful people who kept me fed and updated my blog for me. I owe all of them something spectacular now.

When I went to the doctor for a check up, he just scratched his head and said that he couldn’t figure out how I’d gotten the infection – then wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and said that if there was no improvement in five days that he was going to have to re-admit me to the staph factory hospital.

The good news is that the infection’s definitely clearing up – I still can’t put any weight on the foot, but it’s stopped hurting so much when it’s not elevated, which was the one obstacle to my going home.

So now I’m back home and I have the internet again. Of course, the first thing I did was go online and order some padding for the crutches because my armpits look like hamburger.

I’m going back to the doctor in the morning. I don’t suppose he’s going to let me drive yet, so I’m planning on being stuck in the house for another week.

Which isn’t a bad thing – I have a lot of stuff I have to get done if and when I can manage to balance.

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

How much has to happen before it’s officially a bad day?

My internet connection is like an indifferent lover – it dissapears for days at a time and despite my desperate pleas, doesn’t tell me where it’s gone, who it’s with or when it’s going to come back. I always swear I’m going to leave it for something more reliable, but I never do.

This latest outage was almost a full week, and service was just restored this evening. I think it’s the heat.

I’m just about ready to break up for good, though. There are some decent deals on other, more attentive companies offering faster and better connections. Now that I have internet again I can look around and see who’s offering what in my area.

Speaking of stuff that I just don’t need, this morning as I was on my way into work a guy cut me off on the freeway and I slammed on my brakes without bothering to slap my hand on top of my cup of coffee, which, of course, went flying and completely soaked the front of my car – most of the coffee fell into the center console, soaking the flotsam that happened to be living there (’cause I don’t clean out my car often enough) and my bluetooth headset ( I plugged it in to see if it’ll charge. Keep your fingers crossed).

When I got home tonight, I had to soak the entire front section of the carpet in cleaner and then wet vac the whole unhappy mess. I could still smell coffee afterwards, so I got the screw gun and removed the center console in order to spray underneath. I hope I got it all – it’s really unpleasant in there right now. I love coffee, so you’d think I’d be overjoyed to have my car reek of it. Not so much.

I also hurt my back at work today. This particular set has a super-shiny (and super-slippery) floor. While it would be nice if construction could wait to lay the floor until after we hang the lights, sometimes that’s just not possible, so we have to put layout board (which is a very thick cardboard) under the scissor lifts so the tires don’t mar the floor. Since we weren’t given enough board to be able to cover the entire floor, we weren’t able to tape the board down and we had to keep picking it up and moving it to where the lifts needed to go. In case you were wondering, thick cardboard laid down over a slick surface does not give the best footing in the world, so I slid a few times and now my back’s killing me.

I’m going to have to dig out the back belt just to get through the day at work tomorrow.

Aside from the lack of internet, the searing pain and the coffee soaked vehicle, this week hasn’t been too bad. I’ve had 7 am calls on a lot which is fairly close to my house, but I’ve had to be there by 6:15 as this particular lot has a trash truck which makes its rounds along the only drivable route from the ‘crew’ gate to the parking structure around 6:30 or 6:45. There’s no way around the trash truck and getting stuck behind it will result in being late to work despite being on the lot with plenty of time to park and walk to the stage.

Of course the parking structure has it’s own entrance, but only execs are allowed to use it. The rest of us have to come in the peon gate and drive across the lot to said structure while trying to outrun the delay causing trash truck. This has forced me to get to work very early, which means I’ve been able to sit on the tailgate while drinking my coffee and reading my paper before we’re called in, so I haven’t really minded.

I’ve also been working with some really wonderful people, so in that respect it’s been extra nice week.

Today I had a 6 am call and I would have been there around 5:45 but I had to stop and try to mop up spilled coffee, which, by the way, I didn’t cry over.

Oh, wait. That was milk. Never mind.

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

The sun’s still up and I’m off to bed

Tomorrow morning I have to be at work at 4:30. In the morning.

Not get up at 4:30. Be at the lot, on the truck and relatively coherent at 4:30. This means I need to get out of bed somewhere in the 3ish range.

The really sucky part is that the nearest branch of McCoffee used to open at 4 am but recently changed their hours. Now, they open at 4:30, which doesn’t help me one little bit.

I know the obvious solution would be to make coffee at home, but the only coffeemaker I have is a french press and I seriously doubt I’m going to be co-ordinated enough that early in the morning to be able to figure out that one.

I’m lucky if I’m able to speak that early in the morning. Besides, McCoffee is easy. I just swing by, refuse to call it a “grande”, pay my money and I’m on my way. A work day ritual, if you will.

Hopefully the donut shop where all the cops hang out will have some decent Java.

On the bright side, we’ll be going to lunch at 10:30 am (six hours from call), so the food at the commissary won’t be aged and we’ll get in before the rush.

I’m going to pack my bag before I go to bed (at 7:30pm) – the last time I had a call this early, I forgot my cell phone and my sunglasses.

Filed under: crack of dawn, Work, , , ,

Crosstown traffic and unexpected noises

Yesterday’s work day was at Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios, which is in Manhattan Beach (bet you didn’t see that one coming). Manhattan Beach is literally all the way across town from me – and involves travel on two of the most notoriously traffic-clogged freeways in the region (the 10 and the 405) – and yet, by using the sneaky surface street route, I made in to work in about 50 minutes (if I’d stayed on the freeway, it would have taken about an hour and a half to get there). A 7 am call time helped as well – with an 8 or 9 am call time at RMBS, there’s simply no route that will get me there in under two hours.

Yesterday was also a new crew (only one of whom I’d met before) and a new stage – when anyone comes into a set that they’ve never worked before, there’s a bit of confusion – where things are stashed, the best route through the set with a big light on a stand (which is too tall to roll through a normal height door), where the distro boxes are (they’re usually tucked behind walls, and more than once I’ve run power to a box 80 feet away, only to find out that there was a box hidden 10 feet away), things like that.

Luckily, whoever designed the rig on this stage was thinking – everything was hidden from camera, but in plain site from behind the set walls, and the other folks working the set were very helpful (and nice) and the day went smoothly.

Except that I’m now on the AD’s* shitlist for making noise during a take. But it’s not my fault – it was the coffeemaker, I swear.

This particular coffee machine had a little dispenser for hot water off to the side, and since I’m still croaking like a frog, I drank hot tea all day in an attempt to soothe my throat. Since I’m usually pretty good about gauging how much time I have before they call ‘rolling’ and I have to be quiet, I ran the hot water right before they rolled, figuring my tea could steep during the take when I had to be quiet – except that this machine made a weird pumping noise right after it finished dispensing water – and right after they’d rung the bell (the bell rings once at the start of the take, and twice when they’ve cut – that way, if you’re not anywhere near an AD, you still know when they’re rolling because the bell is really loud).

Whoops. I set my tea down and walked away very quickly, but I still got busted.

The day’s main topic of conversation in between takes was the impending rain – according to the news, it’s supposed to rain today (of course I just went outside to take the trash to the curb and it’s sunny and gorgeous) and you’d think the world was ending or something. It’s astounding what we just learn to live with here in LA – earthquakes, crime, smog, traffic, Brett Ratner – and yet the threat of water throws us into a panic.
Thanks to the world’s fastest director, we shot just under six pages in nine hours, and I got off work just in time to get stuck in traffic on the way home – but it was a gorgeous afternoon, so I didn’t mind sitting still and looking at the pretty clouds in the blue sky.

Wish me luck parking at the lot today. Since I opted to sit here and write while drinking tea instead of getting over there at the crack of dawn, I’m going to have a hard time of it.

* AD = Assistant Director. On TV shows, they’re the ones roaming around trying to make sure everyone stays quiet during takes. On movies, it’s a PA (production assistant), but for some reason TV shows don’t use as many PAs as movies do.

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, at least it smells good now.

The knee brace (no longer the world’s largest – a guy that was in the PT office with me today has one that’s way bigger) is made of neoprene which, as any of you who have a passing familiarity with neoprene will know, doesn’t breathe so well. Combined with it being seasonally warm here in Los Angeles, at the end of the workday both my knee and the brace have been soaking wet and kind of funky-smelling.

Also, the brace is very snug, so there’s a real danger of my throwing my back out while pulling it on in the morning.

So Tuesday night, as I was digging around in my bathroom drawers, looking for something else, I came across a gag gift that I’d gotten for my birthday and then thrown in the drawer that I’m pretty certain leads to an alternate dimension (stuff goes in, but doesn’t come back out. To date, the drawer has swallowed at least five bottles of shampoo, twice that number of expensive foo-foo soaps, a curling iron and about a million condoms).

Someone made a deodorant that smells like vanilla chai and one of my sick, sick friends purchased a stick of it for me.

Now, while the idea of wandering around with my armpits smelling like a coffee drink is more than a little disturbing, for some reason I have no problem wandering around with my knee smelling like a coffee drink, so I used the stuff on the area of the knee that’s under the brace.

The deodorant really does smell like a coffee drink, and also made the knee brace easier to slide on. Later, when when I got to the physical therapist it slid off a bit easier than it did pre-deodorant, and although the knee and the brace were still soaking wet, they both smelled like, well, a coffee drink so I didn’t offend anyone nearby. Good thing, too – I don’t want to piss off that physical therapist. She’s what you would get if you tried splicing together a Kindergarten teacher and a really mean drill sergeant.

Some of her better lines while flitting from patient to patient were “I don’t care if it hurts! You have to give me 15!” and the ever popular “If you lose track, you have to start over!” all delivered in that happy Kindergarten teacher voice.

Fucking sadist.

All joking aside, though – she’s a nice lady (as sadists go), and gave me a lot more information than the doctor did about exactly what’s wrong with the knee and how to fix it – and she told me I don’t have to come three times a week (which would have been impossible). I just have to come back about once a week, do the surprisingly difficult exercises at home and ice the knee twice a day.

Although my knee doesn’t feel any better, the rest of my leg is hurting so much that I hardly notice.

That’s progress, right?

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

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