Friday, October 31, 2008

The Charnel House of Memes.

I think that would be a great name for a horror film. And so appropriate tonight.

What brings this up?

The Anonymous Production Assistant has hit me up with a late Halloween meme. And while I appreciate the thought, those of you who have been around for a while know that I am

The Memelator!

Anonymous, I'll refer you here for my meme policy. And, no, there's no way you could have known, but think of it as an opportunity to join my crusade. Hell, you can be The Gateway to The Black Hole of Memes! Let me know. The title's open.

P.S. Anyone feeling the need to read some excellent posts about appropriate Halloween Movies, go check out Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets. Eric's been running various posts for the last week or more. As of this posting, they start three posts down...or type Halloween in his search window. (They really are worth reading.)

I'm Making A List...And There's No Need To Check It.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane. Back in May, we brought home two new kittens. As you'll recall, we knew Lulu's name was LuLu because we'd gone to the shelter specifically looking for a LuLu. LuLu just oozed LuLu-ness. The shelter thought the little yellow kitty was Marvin (if I remember correctly). Uh, No.

For almost a week, the poor little yellow kitty had no name.

And then I settled on Teufel as a name. (It's German for Devil).

Here they are showing an early affinity for sliding around in the tub.

And Lulu likes the sink too.

Here's when I should have known we might be in trouble. What you can't see in this picture is that Teufel had just closed Firefox. To this day, I don't know what he was searching. He even managed to clear my history before I could get a look.

So, here's the thing. LuLu is a little angel, or at least she would have us believe that. It's entirely possible that she's just the cat who doesn't get caught. I do know that when LuLu is doing something and you holler "No" or "Down", she usually does it.

Teufel, on the other hand really is a devil. Yell "No" or "Down" at him and he only does whatever he was doing faster in hopes of achieving his evil goal before you can pull him out of whatever he's gotten into.

Here are some of Teufel's achievements.

- He has knocked over his bag of food, figured out how to open it and crawled in to eat. When I found him, he'd actually gone to sleep in the bag.
-When we started keeping the bag in a cupboard, he figured out how to open the cupboard door, then chewed through the outside of the bag to get at the food.

-We keep Widget's "Fat Cat on a diet" food in a plastic bin with a snap on lid...think giant tuperware. Teufel can open that too.
-Teufel has discovered that we keep twist-ties and rubber bands in a little basket on a shelf over the kitchen sink. Teufel likes twist-ties and goes up there to get one every morning right around 10:00 a.m.
-And Teufel likes water. If you don't put down the lid on the toilet, Teufel will make an appearance at some point with wet paws.
-LuLu still likes playing in the tub, but only when it's dry. Teufel jumps in and starts rolling around the instant I step out of the shower...and then runs to jump on the bed because he likes the look of his little wet pawprints.
-He likes to see if he can climb a towel faster than it will slide off the towel bar.
-He likes climbing the shower curtain because...I have no idea. Maybe the world looks better from up there? Maybe he thinks we wanted little holes in it? Whatever. He looks awfully proud of himself when he does it.

And whenever Teufel conquers some new level of "things we'd be just as happy if he hadn't figured it out", LuLu is always there looking on...looking innocent...looking like she's thinking "Can I have all of his Christmas presents, Can I?"


In the comments, it has been intimated that I have brought this behavior upon myself by choosing the name Teufel. Carol Elaine, however, wisely reminds us of the dire consequences you might all have suffered had I retained the name Marvin. You're welcome.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Channel 7 Peeves My Pets in the First Five Minutes of the News.

Dear Channel 7,

It is not alleged that the woman was missing. It is not alleged that she was murdered. She was in fact missing and after police found her, the M.E. investigated and determined that she had been strangled. So, unless you believe she may have hung herself, then in Zombie-mode, took off the noose and dumped herself in the woods, the only thing that is alleged is that her husband is the murderer. Please save your alleging for that which isn't yet a fact.

Also? There is no need to clear up things by saying "3:15 P.M. in the afternoon".

Thank you. That is all. (Well, actually, you've got 18 minutes to offend my ears again.)

I'm Truly SideKick...Or Something Like That.

An actual conversation in Brooklyn:

GF: (about three minutes after warning me not to knock over the little jar of hamburger grease) Are we gonna make the turkey?

Me: _____________ ::crickets::

Me: We're talking about Thanksgiving, right?

GF: Yeah. What Else?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

♬ ♪ ♬ Singin' In The Rain!

One of the biggest complications of shooting a movie on location is dealing with weather. Simply put, most of the time, the Director doesn't want to put weather in the movie. Nobody likes working in the rain or snow if you can avoid it. So, the first thing you should know is that if you see rain or snow in a scene, odds are it's because it was in the script. And guess what else? If you see rain or snow in a scene, odds are the filmmakers made that rain or snow. For one thing you can't count on it raining or snowing any more than you can count on a nice day. And you want the rain or snow under your control. Is it a light storm? A raging hurricane? A Blizzard?

Regardless of what it is, you need to have control over it, possibly for a number of days and every time the camera rolls, you need it to be doing what you want it to do. Another thing to add to the mix is that a.) real rain photographs like shit (something about the shape of the drops), b.) you need to backlight rain or you won't see it and c.) you need to frontlight snow or it looks black (because you'd only be looking at the dark side).

The flipside of this is --how do you deal with the unpredictability of the weather. On a TV commercial that is only a one or two day shoot, you usually just cancel and postpone the shoot. But you need to notify everyone early enough the day before or you have to pay them all anyway according to union rules. On a feature, you need to have cover sets -- some interior set that can be called up on short notice and can be dressed and lit in time. And the producers usually want to hold off as long as possible to make the decision about whether you're "going to cover". Some will make the decision by lunch time. Some will wait until the "Call Sheet" has to be ready at wrap. I've worked for one producer who would put a note on the Call Sheet instructing everyone to call the Production Office at 5:00 a.m. to find out where we'd be shooting.

On Crocodile Dundee II, our first day of shooting was the scene where Paul Hogan is fishing with dynamite from a rowboat in the East River. Day one was a bright sunny day with a clear blue sky. Problem was, that this scene was scheduled for two days. So the Call Sheet for the second day had three possible sets listed: Bright and sunny - finish the scene on the river; Cloudy - some other exterior that didn't have to match; Rain - an interior scene. If I recall, we went on like this for a week and finally went back to the river on Day five.

Needless to say, this is a pain in the ass for all involved. It's tough enough making sure you've got all of your ducks in a row for what is scheduled to shoot; being ready for two or more locations is just Teh Suck!

Iron Will, which I've talked about before had it's own unique weather problems. (An aside: At the time this job happened, I was living in L.A. but on a job in NY. The night the Producer called me about it, he forgot about the time difference and called me at 2:00 a.m. So the phone rings and wakes me up and without introduction, he says, "Hey kid. I'm making a movie in Minnesota. It'll be cold as hell and they fucking hate Jews. Wanna come?" How could I turn down an offer like that?)

Anyway, back to the subject. This movie, being about a dogsled race, was totally dependent on snow. Because of that, the Producer bought weather insurance. Buying weather insurance is extremely rare. It's very expensive and if I recall, we had a $100,000 deductible. In 1991, on that movie, that was probably equal to the cost of shutting down the production for one day. But that's the never shut down production. You do everything humanly possible to keep shooting. And the insurance could be applied to what you spent in order to keep shooting.

So, it snowed in the weeks leading up to shooting. It was cold, just like it was supposed to be. In fact on Day One of shooting, it was about 30º below zero with a few feet of snow on the ground and snowing lightly...gorgeous little diamond crystals floating in the air. And it stayed cold after that.

But. It. Did. Not. Snow. Again.

All went well for a couple of weeks. It stayed cold, so the snow didn't melt and we were shooting at some fairly remote locations, so the snow wasn't getting dirty before we got there. Then we had to go somewhere -- Not remote. Snow all tracked up and filthy. So the Producer asigns me to find some clean snow, have it trucked in and spread over the set. (I've mentioned before that this job would usually go to an Effects Supervisor or a Greensman, but for reasons of his own, he decided my department should do it.)

One of the Assistant Location Managers, being local, pointed out that the airport didn't use salt because of the damage it can do to planes, so they'd have mountains of clean snow. So, we called the airport and made arrangements for 10 dump trucks to come over and get loaded up with snow. Then they brought it to our set and dumped it and we had a bulldozer move it around until it was spread all over. Unfortunately, even though we had the bulldozer "pull" the snow (drive backwards so that he wasn't leaving his own treadmarks in the snow), it still looked like shit. So, the same Assistant Location Manager (thank God for locals), suggested we call MN-DOT and see if we could get one of their snowblowers. Hey, it's not like they were using it. So we sent the trucks back for another 10 loads of snow and waited for the snowblower to show up.

For those of you who don't live in the Frozen North, places like Minnesota do not fuck around when it comes to moving snow. The machine that showed up looks like your basic heavy dumptruck, but mounted on the front is a scoop that's about 8' X 8' and has a giant turbine inside. When they crank it up it can throw the contents of one dumptruck 200' or so in about 20 seconds. Yeehaw! So, after some fits and starts, we had a bunch of heavy equipment on the payroll and we had a system.

Then the mountains of snow at the airport dwindled. Let me tell you, I'm willing to bet you've never seen anything quite like the look you get from a farmer when you ring his doorbell to ask if you can take his snow away. System still working. And the producer is checking with me regularly to make sure I'm doing this as economically as possible.

Then one day, he comes to me and tells me I need to change how I'm doing things. "Spend as much as you need to". I guess the possibility of spending $90,000 when you have a $100,000 deductible and a policy that wasn't cheap to begin with was not an attractive prospect. He needn't have worried...'cause then it got warm. The day we shot the end of the race (at a big open field next to an old railroad station in Two Harbors, MN), a contingent from Disney showed up to see how we were spending their money. The tent for the extras was on low ground (who'da thunk?) and shin-deep in water. We had 20 dumptrucks making roundtrips all day and we were dumping loads of snow between takes. It was melting as fast as we could put it down. The Disney execs were so astounded that we hadn't ever shut down that they didn't give anyone a hard time about budget.

At an earlier point in the schedule, we shot a stunt on a railroad trestle. Here's a picture of us laying down the snow the night before. (Sorry, it's actually a photo of a photo, so not perfect.) You can see our big-assed snowblower doing its thing and if you look closely at the right edge of the frame, you can make out a clamshell-crane that was mounted to four railroad gondola cars full of snow. It turns out that if you drop big giant clods of snow from high enough they explode and spread out quite nicely.

So, the next morning, the director walks up to me and says, "You know that little scene where Kevin's supposed to lean out of the train and hook up to the telegraph pole? Well, I found a perfect spot just a couple of hundred yards down the track. It's even got good snow!" To which I responded, "Of course it's got good snow. I put it there last night". When he just gave me a blank stare, I added, "Haven't you noticed there hasn't been any snow behind the camera for the last three weeks?"

That's all I've got for now. If you're new to the blog and want to read the rest of the story, it's here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nothing To See Here. Go About Your Business.

I really don't have anything to post about today, but I actually feel guilty if I don't put something up, so you're getting boring crap that you have to read and comment on if you don't want me to feel unloved. You wouldn't want that, now would you?

Today, I was reminded of another perq. that comes with DGA membership. Free Movies...Yay! At this time of year I receive letters from all of the studios encouraging me to go to a screening of movies they think are award worthy...because I get to vote for the DGA awards. If I remember correctly, only directors get to vote for best director, but I get to vote for best picture. In addition to these special screenings, I can show up at practically any theater in town, show my DGA card and get in free to anything that's playing right now...with a guest.

Cool, Huh?

What else? It snowed north and west of the city today. Some places got as much as 14". It was rain and wind all day in the city, but cold. The furnace finally had to kick in today. Guess what? Some of you live in Minnesota or Michigan or Alaska and you expect this crap in October. I don't! I'm supposed to have another month before I have to think about shovels and sand and all that other crap.

What else? According to an auto-email from the Postal Service, the surprise was delivered yesterday. I have not seen photos online yet and I demand publication. Sometimes you do get what you asked for...maybe just with a slightly different interpretation.

I have a kind of pissy post in mind about Homeland Security but it's going to take some actual research if I don't want to sound like a moron, so you'll have to wait for that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let's Get Ready To...Raaaaammmmble!

You have to imagine that wrestling announcer guy when you read the title. Are we all on the same page now? Good. And I would have titled this "Let's go visiting Monday", but then you might have expected to see a similar post every Monday and I wouldn't be able to take the pressure.

Once upon a time, I introduced a feature where I'd point out a cool blog I'd found and invite you all to go visit and say hi. Honestly, I thought this would be an easy thing to do as a regular feature, but guess what. There are a lot of truly sucky blogs out there. And I don't think any of you want me directing you toward sucky blogs, do you? No, of course not.

So, anyway, I think the last time I pointed you toward a blog, it was toward The Anonymous Production Assistant's Blog. I'm still following that one. Are you? Why not? What the hell's the matter with you?

Anyway, yesterday our favoritest Random Michelle in the whole wide world commented about waitresses and the restaurants in which they work:

"Except for those awful places that force waitresses to dress like whores. I'm just embarrassed on behalf of those waitresses"
This made me remember that I've recently discovered a new blog and it's my duty to point you guys there. And to tell you to say "hi". Because it makes me feel all powerful and stuff when you just go ahead and do my bidding. (Full Disclosure: The part of the above paragraph that says "I've disovered a new blog" is totally a lie. I didn't discover it. The Anonymous Production Assistant pointed me there. And it's not so much a new blog as one that's new-to-me.)

Anyway, Michelle's comment about waitresses forced to dress like whores made me think of the Girl on Girl Action blog. (The name of the blog doesn't mean what you think it means and you should just get your mind out of the gutter dammit. She explains it on her sidebar so you might have to check that out too.) Anyway this post is the one that the aforementioned Anonymous Production Assistant pointed out and the one that came to mind when I read Michelle's comment. I dare you to read it and refrain from snorting. And she's got other amusing posts. Go read them. And say "hi".

Was this rambling enough for you?

By the way. Did I mention thatl you that you should go visit? And say "hi"? Well, you should. And just for the hell of it, I think it would be amusing if everyone also visited Talk Wordy to Me and just commented "Rhinotillexomania".

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Totally Have To Stay Up and Watch This Movie!

Theodore Rex

Sun, Oct 26, 11:35 PM Run Time: 120 min.

WABC - 7
Genre: Movie
  • CC
  • TV-PG
  • PG

A murder involves a smart-aleck detective with talking dinosaurs brought back by genetic science in the near future.

I'm Eating a Ginormous Steak Burrito Right Now.

And I had two margaritas while I was waiting for it.

What? That's not interesting enough?

My Right Brain Needs a Little Exercise.

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 12(12)
Right Brain Dominance: 7(7)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

Saturday, October 25, 2008

LuLu Loves T.V...Take Two

Jeff Hentosz thinks this is a better repesentation of LuLu's viewing habits. Personally? I think it's a little 'tarded.

Friday, October 24, 2008

LuLu Loves T.V.

Or maybe she's just got a crush on this guy.

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Hey, I worked on this video. And guess what? I have absolutely no memory of where we shot it. The song came out in 1986 so I must have still been living in Boston when we did it. Something makes me want to say that we shot it in New Hampshire, but I don't know why.

I do remember it was in this semi derelict boat house and the back doors opened up onto the river. There was a boardwalk on stilts leading to it from the road and it rained so much that at one point the boardwalk was under water. It was a long miserable day and even though I like this song now, you try listening to the damned thing 500 times in one day. It took a while before I ever wanted to hear it again.

So now, I give you My Baby by The Pretenders.

Somewhere In A Malternate Universe.

In yesterday's round of reading the entire internet, (I was bored, so I read the whole thing), I stopped in over at Brian White's Talk Wordy to Me. Yesterday's post over there contained links to a few things he had found interesting. One of the links took me to this post on Watch Yer Language. The proprietor there was decrying the existence of the word malternative. Once I read the actual definition (alternatives to malt liquor such as Zima), I found myself in agreement with him in that context.

But if you read the comments, you'll see that I (and the commenter who got there ahead of me, the bastard), had heard the word differently. To quote the commenter:

"Before I read what a “malternative” was, I thought the word was a portmanteau of “mal-” and “alternative,” making the word refer to a bad alternative. In that case, it wouldn’t have been such a bad word."
Note: I don't think it actually is a portmanteau since I think of the "mal" as a prefix rather than a word on its own. But it does end up providing us with a perfectly good word if we only seize the moment and utterly co-opt it. Just think of all the situations where it'll come in handy.

John McCain: "Sarah Palin? Really? Who the hell is she?"
McCain Advisor: "She's the least objectionable malternative."

or how about,

Me in a Chinese Restaurant: "Jeez, the stinky tofu sure is expensive. Do you have a cheaper malternative?"

Yes folks, I just know this one is gonna catch on. Just like my coinage for trawling did!

The assignment, then, for today shall be the co-opting of words. What words out there already have a perfectly good (or bad) definition, but you think it should mean something else? Throw your worst malternatives at me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In A Snit.

So I mentioned yesterday that GF went to Minnesota yesterday to meet her Mystery Trip friends (AKA Chicks! No Dicks!). I knew she was meeting the girls at around 10 this morning, so I waited until about 1:00 my time to call and ask where they were going. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hey, so where'd you end up?
GF: I don't know. We're about 20 yards from the meeting spot.

At this point I hear much hooting in the background reminiscent of the episode with The Three Trollops, only louder.

GF: We're at a restaurant. There was some trouble at first but one of the girls explained to the waitress that I'm from NY, and gave that look, so they decided we could stay.

Me: Ooooookaaaay. Well, have fun. Call me when you find out where you're going.
GF: Ooooh! Ooooh! Oooooh! I've got a snit in front of me. I'll send you a picture.

(For those of you not of the Mid-Western persuasion, a snit is a little 5oz. beer they give you with your drink as a chaser. I could only approve of that more if they started giving out snits when the drink you order is a beer...or a coke...or coffee! Hmmmmmm Snits!)

So anyway, I heard from GF a couple of hours ago. They're at some three bedroom lodge-type condo somewhere in Wisconsin right on Lake Superior.

They still sounded like trollops when she called...just a little more trollop-ey with the passage of time.

Hey, GF, if you read this, say hi to the other trol...girls.

P.S. I'm On A Mac.

Mac has been making their "I'm a Mac / I'm a PC" commercials for ages, and most of them are pretty damned funny. So, I was kind of surprised to see this commercial show up recently. It's actually a really good response and the only thing I can't figure out is why Microsoft waited so long to come up with it.

On the other hand, this is funnier.

Note: This message brought to you by Jim Wright, Internationally famous lover of Macs.

V.O. "My name is Jim Wright and I approve of this message".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Well It's Not Going To Write Itself, Now...Is It?"

That's what my mother would always say when I was procrastinating about writing whatever paper was due the next day in school. That's kind of where I am right now. I have no idea what to write about today.

Let's see now. GF left at 4:30 this morning to head to Minnesota for a few days. She's got a group of women friends who've gone on a Mystery Trip just about every year for the last 25 years. They pool their money and one person plans each trip and nobody else knows where they're going until they get there. They just get a note telling them where to show up and what kind of clothes to pack. ( I don't know if they've ever left the country before, but I'm sure someone would say something if they needed a passport.)

So, last night, GF says I should post about how she's going away and I'm going to be here on my own and "WoooHoo, Party time, here I come". Uhhhhh...not so much. In fact I barely left the couch today. I was supremely lazy. Let's see...what did I accomplish today?

- I read (online and on dead trees).
- I cleaned the refrigerator. (Just kidding, but there's less leftovers in there now than there were this morning.)
- I fed the cats and emptied the litter box (or at least I will empty it when I finish typing this).

(I actually did clean the air filter on the furnace because it's getting cold enough that the heat is gonna kick on any day now.)

OK, well that's about all I've got. Not much, huh?

Ooh! I just remembered. You know that something I said was going to go to someone. Well, I'm informed that it's now in the hands of the US Postal Service, so any day now. I know you're all attingle with nervous anticipation. Well, one of you should be!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Book 'Em Danno!

It's been a busy few days on the intertoobs and I didn't really have all that much to contribute.

But in honor of Janiece, John, Jim, MWT and Eric (FTW), I give you some entertainment I find especially appropriate (not to mention two kinds of cool I never expected to find in the same place). We may not have known what the hell the UCF was about for sure, but now, apparently, it's a law enforcement agency, an investigative journalism clearinghouse and a means of ridding the internet of bug-shit crazy and butt monkeys. Who knew?

Monday, October 20, 2008

This, I Must Protest.

It has come to my attention that the Boston Red Sox failed to beat the Tampa Bay Rays last night, thereby losing the American League Championship Series. I cannot idly stand by and let this stand without some pointless act of retribution. Therefore, I put the Red Sox Owners, Managers, Trainers and Players on notice that I refuse to watch any game in which the Red Sox participate between now and April 6th, 2009. Take that you heartless bastards.

Note: Gifts of cash and/or Red Sox merchandise may convince me to watch a spring training game, but otherwise, the Red Sox are on their own until April. (Incidentally, the home opener will be against Tampa. I don't know if that has any special meaning, but I thought I'd mention it.)

Anyway, moving on from that bit of ugliness, let's look around the neighborhood a little. First, let me show you some Treehuggers.

This is an installation on a little traffic island in my neighborhood.

There's three of these stick and twig figures hugging trees. I don't know if this particular piece especially excites me, but I do like that NYC spreads stuff like this around. It definitely brightens things up a little and some of them are really cool.

If you look carefully on the left side partially blocked by the trees, you'll see the Empire State Bldg. (I once had a customer service rep from T-Mobile tell me that the reason for my poor reception at home was because coverage was a little spotty in more rural areas.)

And look, we're starting to get some fall color here.

And now let us finish with a topic that I'll probably return to when we get our first snow. I live in a special wind vortex which sweeps the neighboring sidewalks clean and deposits everything in front our our house. Leaves, snow, whatever, it all gets piled up for me to clean.

I know for a fact the neighbors haven't swept up any leaves, yet here they are, all clean and tidy next to my pile of leaves.

Looking in the other direction, the leaves end about 4' past my front steps.

The Red Sox can also get a reprieve from my dire protest by showing up to sweep leaves and shovel snow this winter. I'm nothing if not flexible.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Glamour Shots of Teufel. (NSFW)

Updated to include the proper spelling of Glamour in the title. This was pointed out to me by GF just moments ago...hours after this has been out there for you to ridicule me.

Note: I actually spelled glamour right the first time, but looked at it and thought I was trying to be pretentiously removed the offending "U". Sometimes the unthinking fingers are right the first time around.

Teufel is a little jealous of LuLu getting all the recent pictures. But he's still a little shy.

Make up your mind big boy.

Some Random Stuff for a Sunday.

First off, I told you a while back about my history with the D.G.A. and that I was rejoining for the job I just finished. Well, the process takes a while and most of it involved formalities (like me sending them a buttload of money) and that process just completed itself last week when my membership had to be approved by the folks on the Eastern AD/UPM Council. (That's Asst. Directors and Unit Production Managers). Yay, I wasn't blackballed. And the membership is retroactive to the day I started the job.

So, guess what showed up in the mail yesterday. Yup my shiny new membership card. Bask in its glowing glory.

And that's not all that was in the envelope either. There was also a nice letter telling me that they wanted the rest of their buttload of money for the initiation fee and here's a handy worksheet where you can report your earnings for the 3rd and 4th quarter so we can send you a bill for your dues. Ain't Guild membership grand?

The better news on that front is that I earned enough on that movie that I'll qualify for the Health Plan which will take effect in January. I'll hold off on getting sick until then.

Also, Michael Taylor stopped in and commented on the previous post:
"The mystery of seemingly random referrals remains an ongoing conundrum. For a while there, I got a small blizzard of hits from a web site called "Modern Drunkard Magazine" -- apparently because my own blog title contains the word "juicer."

He's got a blog called Blood, Sweat, and Tedium: Confessions of a Hollywood Juicer

There's a couple of things that strike me here.
1. I like having new readers and commenters. That's why I write here.
2. I've certainly heard of electricians on sets being referred to as "Juicers", but I think it's more of a West Coast thing.
3. There's a "Modern Drunkard Magazine" ? Holy shit! This I had to see.

So, off I went to have a look. I think most of you will enjoy this entry called "Drunks in Space". Give it a look.

Oh, and what am I forgetting?

Go Red Sox!

Oh, and one more thing I forgot about. One of you is getting a surprise. I'm not saying who and I'm not say what. It should show up in about a week and I suspect we'll all hear about it when it gets there. Feel free to speculate.

Oh, What the Hell, Let's Belabor the Point.

I finished off yesterday with 247 visits and 319 page views. I know that's chicken feed for most bloggers, but it's 3 times my usual traffic. And all of it was from people searching for "memorial ship in Central Park" and variations on the theme. The searches have continued this morning, but ebbed off quite a bit.

I'll continue to be confused. OK?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Could It Be Saturday? Must Be a Multi-Post Day. Let's Get Started.

The morning began with only coffee. It's too late for breakfast now, but something brunch-ish might be in order. Oh, what to eat? What to eat? Oh yeah. We have that!

PostDeux or WTF?

As you'll note from the screenshot of my Sitemeter summary, I average 81 visits per day. So I was a little taken aback to see that today as of noon, I've already had 87 visits. Hey, half a day left to go and I'm already over the average daily visits? What's going on?

Then I checked the referrals and whoa! Almost all of them are searching for "ship memorial in Central Park" which gets hits because of this. So, was there some documentary on last night that got everybody searching the same thing? Anybody know? Curiosity overwhelms me.

A Conundrum

Pizza seems to be on the menu this evening. My history with Dominos is known. Little Louies? Liberty Pizza. That little joint up on Dekalb whose name I can never remember? (I've actually got a craving for the Dominos thin crust stuff, but...Must...Resist.)

BTW, we're up to 186 visits today, most of them continuing to be a variation on searches for "Prison Ship". I'm really dying to know what sparked the sudden interest.


I know this has been killing you...we went with Liberty. And we're up to 215 visits. WooHoo!

Roaming the world:

I've had my first visit from Ho Chi Minh City. It was not a search for anything to do with Central Park.

Uh...that's a lot of hits for nothing.

Somebody Has Too Much Time On Their Hands.

But I like it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Poor Little Post Without a Title.

Pixelfish posted this video in response to the news that Cuba may start producing oil sometime next year and may be sitting on 20 billion barrels of the stuff.

I never saw this before and it's pretty damned funny.

Problems With Portion Control.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Chicken Pot Pie for Two...small Guatemalan villages.

Happily, it tastes really good because we'll be eating it for a while.

"And It's Not a Good Stigma."

I was just running around the internet and happened upon this story from Joplin, MO. The story, itself doesn't really bother me one way or the other. The school board there, apparently doesn't think teachers should be showing their tattoos off to students. I'm old enough that my knee-jerk reaction to tattoos is that they only belong to sailors, bikers and prisoners. (If you're offended by this, please remember that a.) I'm old, b.) I considered getting a tattoo 30 years ago, and c.) I feel sorry for all the dermatologists who will be working in 2060. Sorry, but your 80 year old tattoos are gonna be kinda ugly.)

Anyway, I have no opinion on whether or not students will be hopelessly damaged by seeing a teacher's tattoo. You never know what will or will not make an 8-year-old into a nascent axe murderer...could be peanuts, maybe overexposure to Barney, maybe tattoos.

What does get my knickers in a twist is a School Board Member who doesn't have a vocabulary. In the middle of the story, I was stopped cold by,

Board member Jeff Flowers said the issue comes down to what is acceptable within the community.

“There’s a stigma associated with (tattoos), and it’s not a good stigma,” Flowers said.

I'm sorry, but good stigma?

stig·ma (stgm)
n. pl. stig·ma·ta (stg-mät, -mt, stgm-) or stig·mas
1. A mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach.
2. A small mark; a scar or birthmark.
3. Medicine A mark or characteristic indicative of a history of a disease or abnormality.
4. Psychology A mark or spot on the skin that bleeds as a symptom of hysteria.
5. stigmata Bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain corresponding in location to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, usually occurring during states of religious ecstasy or hysteria.
6. Biology A small mark, spot, or pore, such as the respiratory spiracle of an insect or an eyespot in certain algae.
7. Botany The receptive apex of the pistil of a flower, on which pollen is deposited at pollination.
8. Archaic A mark burned into the skin of a criminal or slave; a brand.

Sorry, I can't find the good one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And Also, 'Cause I Know You Guys Will Like This...*

Inside CERN and the LHC.

*Title does not apply to Dr. Wagner.

In Which LuLu Asks...

"Do I bother you when you're in the tub?"

As a matter of fact LuLu, you have been know to visit while I'm in the shower.

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

I give

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tonight's Debate.

Let's face it. If you're in Obama's camp, you're sure he won. (I am.) If you're in McCain's camp, you're exchanging high fives over how well he did.

The only people this debate mattered to are the undecideds. And I've just got one thing to say about the undecideds.

How pathetically clueless or apathetic do you have to be to be undecided at this point? Is there some nuance of a difference between the two that you need clarified? I'm not telling you who you need to support, but the differences are pretty clear by now. If we're waiting for people who are incapable of telling the difference to decide the election...I'm really scared.

So this is my request to the undecideds. Don't vote. Please. Don't. Vote. You're too stupid to decide an election. Just stay home on Election Day. I'm laying odds you can find a Honeymooners marathon somewhere on TV. Bang. Zoom. Alice. Yeah, that'll be fun.

Adventures in Boating.

In a recent email from a loyal reader, I was asked:

"Nathan, your job seems so fascinating. How do you go about finding the locations you're going to use in a movie."

OK, I totally made up the part about having loyal readers or getting emailed questions from them. It just seemed like a good way to start a post. (BTW, I'm in the market for a word to use in place of "post". Suggestions will be most welcome.)

Anyway, back to th topic at hand. The way we go about looking for stuff varies depending on what we're looking for and it's also changed somewhat with the advent of the internet and other new tools available. If I'm looking for a house, for instance, I'll go about it in a few ways. First, I want to define what type of house we need. Is the character rich or poor or somewhere in between. Are they old or young? How big of a family is supposed to live there? Urban, suburban, rural? Does the script or the Director or the Designer have anything specific in mind...Victorian, Ranch, etc.

With that in mind, the first thing is going to a neighborhood that might be fertile territory. Once I'm in the right neighborhood, I'll do two things. One is that I'll be knocking on doors. It's a uniquely odd feeling to come face to face with a homeowner and have about 30 seconds to explain why the hell you're on their front porch and be believed that you're really looking for a place to shoot scenes for a movie. There's no formal I.D. I can show people to establish legitemacy and more often than not, I start scouting before the company can even print up business cards. Surprisingly, I still get into a fair amount of homes from just knocking on doors cold.

The second thing I'll be doing is dropping of flyers describing what we're looking for and asking them to call us if they think their home might be right and they're interested. After all, lots of people aren't home during the day.

I've worked with realtors before but truthfully, this doesn't work as well as you'd think. First of all, even with a commission, this isn't terribly lucrative for the realtor, so they rarely want to put much (if any) effort into it. And second, realtors tend to show you what they have, not what you're actually looking for.

Need a hospital? You're going to be spending a bunch of time on the phone calling every hospital in the area. Restaurants, bars, schools, churches...get out there and go where they are. Note: It is not recommended that you show up at a restaurant at the beginning of the lunch rush or at a church during a scheduled service. That might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many scouts don't think about that sort of thing.

So anyway, what's all this got to do with "Adventures in Boating"? One of my first movies as an Assistant Location Manager was Another You. It was a movie starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. In the movie, Pryor, a con man meets up with Wilder, a recently released mental patient who bears a striking resemblance to a missing millionaire. Pryor procedes to take advantage of the situation by talking Wilder into taking the millionaire's place. A fair amount of the script was to take place on a yacht.

So, how do you find a really impressive yacht for a movie? First of all, unless you've got unlimited time and money, you want it to be one that's in the general vicinity of where you're shooting the movie. That lets out all of those fabulous yachts that are currently in Dubai and Monaco. Next, since you're probably starting this search without having hobnobbed with the Yachting Crowd a whole lot, you've got to start learning a little about the damned things. In my case, this took place in 1990, so the internet wasn't an available tool...or if it was, I certainly didn't know anything about it yet. (I was still a couple of years from owning my first computer.)

That left phone books and magazines. Both of these mostly didn't help. The phone books had listings of "party yachts" available for charters...for things like company outings and the like. Those turned out to be...fugly. Not impressive at all. The magazines had lots of yachts that were impressive as hell that were available for charter. Unfortunately, most of these were in the Carribean, might want to spend time on a chartered yacht.

Ultimately, I found the yacht we'd eventually use by visiting the marina down near the World Trade Center. This particular yacht had been launched only a week or so earlier and was in transit from the manufacturer in Miami to the owner in Connecticut. I met the captain, got put in touch with the owner and shortly, we had a deal. Bear in mind that even though the owner drove a reasonably hard bargain regarding how much we'd pay to rent his yacht, he was not doing it for the money. I don't remember what we paid, but it was actually less than someone chartering it for the same period would have paid. He mostly just thought it would be neat to have a movie shot on his yacht.

Anyway, we're out tooling around NY Harbor on our first day of filming on the yacht. The crew is extremely conscious of the fact that this is a brand new yacht and it's full of fabulously expensive furnishings and everyone is taking great care to make sure nothing is damaged. We've got protective coverings on most things that could be damaged and we've actually removed a lot of items that would be difficult to protect. However, in the salon, there's this custom made table. It's a huge slab of Italian crystal on a granite pedestal...and it's bolted down with a heavy rod that goes all the way down to the keel...three decks below. That sucker ain't going anywhere. So we wrapped the thing in multiple layers of furniture pads and put a police tape barrier around it and announce that it is off limits to everyone except the camera department who will be permitted to keep camera cases under it. (Camera departments are used to dealing with very expensive, very delicate peices of equipment, so you kind of figure they're a safe bet to know how to be careful around other stuff.)

So, it's the middle of the first day of shooting on this yacht and I'm up on the top deck staying out of the way and the Captain comes up to me and announces that someone has broken the table. I go flying down there to see what's happened and he's right on my heels and when I get there...nothing wrong with the table. Ha Ha...very funny. In his defense, he knew how paranoid I had been about the table and you can't blame a guy for pushing a button that's so deperately crying to be pushed.

Cut to a few days later. We're on our last day of shooting on the yacht. Everything has been going swimmingly. On this particular day, the yacht's owner and his family are along for the ride so they can watch some of the filming. His kid's are hanging around on set and I'm back on the upper deck schmoozing with him and his wife when the Captain makes another appearance. He takes me aside and tells me, "They broke the table". "Fine", I say, "go ahead and play the same joke with the owner aboard." "No, really," he says. "The director and one of the stars sat on it and it's broken into three really big peices." Long story short, the owner didn't freak. We had insurance; he had insurance; the table got custom made once; we'd get it custom made again.

Now if you slavishly check my credits, you'll note that IMDB doesn't list me on this movie. The movie was scheduled to shoot for 6 weeks in NY and then to get finished in a studio in L.A. So, I got 8 weeks of work prepping the movie and then 6 weeks of work during the NY shoot. And then on the last night of NY shooting, the director found out from his agent that the producers planned to replace him when they got back to L.A. Needless to say, that night's shoot got wrapped early. And then when they showed the new director what had been shot so far, he said he couldn't use any of it. They ended up tossing all of the NY footage and rewriting the script so they could shoot the whole thing from scratch in L.A.

In hindsight, they didn't make a mistake by tossing the NY footage, but they really should have just stopped there. The movie they eventually made is also a stinker.

Suck It Mumbai.

There's an old joke that goes like this..."Can you please tell me the way to the Empire State Building or shall I just go fuck myself?"

Well, in a Reader's Digest survey, NYC was found to be the politest place in the world. WOO-HOO! This really doesn't come as a surprise to me. I've commented elsewhere that if you stop someone in the middle of Times Square to ask directions, 5 people will beat the crap out of each other for the opportunity to educate you. We're really fucking polite here and don't you dare deny it or we'll hurt you.

On a more serious note, though, I'm really not surprised by this. New Yorkers are in a hurry. There are a lot of people here and we're all in a rush and we don't like it when you get between us and our goal. On the other hand, we really are conscious of each other. Holding doors open for the person behind us is sort of ingrained. Stores with rude sales people don't get patronized...there are too many other places to spend our money. Forget about helping people pick up dropped papers...people in NY have been known to dive onto subway tracks to help someone who fell. I think it's got something to do with living in a crowded, rushed place. We share that experience. And while, on a day to day basis, there's a more or less "every man for himself" attitude, that doesn't extend to people in trouble...major or minor.'

So, pat yourself on the back NY. Or maybe pat yourself on the butt. That way you can make sure you've still got your wallet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

John McCain Looks Really Creepy in Hi Def.

That's all I wanted to say.

Pie Charts

song chart memes

Sorry, The pic is getting cut off. Top should say "Pie I have eaten". Bottom should read "Pie I have not yet eaten".

Hey, I got a kick out of this. Found over on Go have a look.

It's F***ing HUGE!

Today, we did our part to revive the economy. Yup, we went and bought the new flat screen TV. It's a Sony 46" LCD. And when you look at it in the store with all the other TV's, you're thinking, "Ooh, maybe I need the bigger one."

Let me tell you. When you get it home, it is just fucking HUGE. I mean like, obscenely big. Like if you put on a tennis match, you'll have to wag your head back and forth to follow the ball. Like you feel the need to rent a bunch of Cinemascope movies. Like "That actress's head is twice the size of yours", huge.

The Burger King commercial makes you fear that eating a Whopper might prevent you from ever standing again. The baby in the Pampers commercial gives you a massive case of heebie-jeebies about what might be found in one of those diapers. And the bra commercial for the "full figured" women?...yup, HUGE!

I plan to sit here and just marvel at huge-osity for the rest of the day.

Update: I finished publishing this post, looked up at my new TV and noticed...It's Still Just Awesomely HUGE!

Update the Second: Two hours later and yup! STILL HUGE!

Update the Third: I just got back from the store, and I swear the thing grew some while I was out.

Monday, October 13, 2008

360º of Rwong.

The weekend's Screaming Meemies seem to center around Gayle Quinnell's moment of fame at a McCain rally last week. There's just so many things wrong with this story that it's impossible to find anything right about it.

The short story is that a 75 year old delusional woman stood up at a McCain rally and tried to make the point that Obama is an arab. McCain stood there shaking his head for a moment and then took the microphone away to say it's not true, that Obama is "a decent family man...citizen..." who he disagrees with on fundamental issues. McCain is getting credit for correcting her immediately and firmly.

Fine. I'll give him his far as it goes. The story picks up steam when Gayle gets interviewed after the rally. She remains unconvinced and she goes on to talk about how she's sent "400 letters" full of "bad stuff" from her local McCain Campaign Headquarters. She goes on to solidify her position by talking about how she showed her letter to some "young women" in line at the Kinkos who didn't know that stuff before seeing the letter and that all of her children and grandchildren agree with her.

OK, here's the part where we dissect this.

1. She's a delusional old lady! Why is anyone listening to her or paying any attention to her? The man she supports to be President just told her she doesn't know what she's talking about, but she knows better.

2. The people interviewing her ask leading questions and put words in her mouth! I don't think anyone among the interviewers were legitemate press, but from the beginning, instead of waiting for her to answer questions and self-destruct all on her own, they try to direct where she'll go with her answers. About midway through the video, some woman can be heard saying, "You called him an Arab Terrorist". Uh, no...she didn't. She never used the word terrorist. It's splitting hairs and it's a fine distinction but she never said that. She certainly implied that because it's obvious she thinks arab and terrorist are synonymous, but if you're going to report what she said, if you're going to take her to task for what she said, stick to what she said; it's bad enough on its own.

3. Why does McCain get credit for correcting her while leaving out there the impression that if Obama was an arab, that would be a bad thing? Look, I'm Jewish and I'm American. If there's any target audience for fear of arabs...I'm it. I'm just not buying it. I don't happen to believe that every arab out there is, by default, waiting for the chance to wipe me off the face of the earth. Since I'm not delusional, I certainly recognize that there's a very vocal portion of the arab world that wants Israel eradicated and thinks that Jews are responsible for most of the world's ills, but I don't believe you can paint the entire arab world with that brush...especially not arabs who were raised in America. I just don't buy it. And, Ralph Nader's an arab. Really. His parents are from Lebanon. Nader's been tarred with just about anything opponents could throw at him, but nobody's ever taken him to task for his ancestry that I know of. So...Obama's not an arab, but what the fuck would be wrong if he was?

4. She's a delusional old lady! Once she starts her moment in the spotlight by making a demonstrably wrong statement why interview her and give any of her other statements any credence. The "young ladies" at the Kinkos are just as likely to have looked at her little missive and then politely said, "Uh...O.K." I think Gayle might take that as an endorsement. It's entirely possible that her children think she should have been shipped off to a home years ago. Fer gosh sakes, it's unimaginable that there's a family anywhere in America that's frequently embarassed by their matriarch's frequent ventures into the land of loonie.


1. Ignore delusional old ladies.
2. Let peoples' ignorant statements speak for themselves.
3. Give McCain credit for doing the right thing...but only as far as it goes.
4. Ignore delusional old ladies.

That's my 3¢.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Iz In Ur Blogz, Stealin Ur Kontenz!

Last week, CW, over at Refugees From the City, wrote a post about outmoded technologies and which he actually remembers using.

I'll take a stab at it

How many do you remember?

Head lights dimmer switches on the floor. Yes
Ignition switches on the dashboard. Yes
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall. Yes
Real ice boxes. Grandma had one in the garage.
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards. Yup
Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner. I think I have one in the basement.
Using hand signals for cars without turn signals. I remember doing this on a bicycle and having to prove I knew them for Driver's Ed, but I'm not sure if I was ever in a car without turn signals.

Older Than Dirt Quiz: Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you
were told about Ratings at the bottom.

1. Blackjack chewing gum No
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water Oh yeah!
3 Candy cigarettes Loved 'em.
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles Little 10 oz. Cokes.
5 Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes Those are obsolete?
6 Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers Yup
7. Party lines I don't think I ever actually spoke on one, but I knew about them.
8. Newsreels before the movie That, at least, is before my time.
9. P.F. Flyers Had 'em.
10. Butch wax Uh???
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (OLive-6933) My childhood number was ELgin-5-0038.
12. Peashooters We used straws.
13. Howdy Doody Never saw the guy.
14. 45 RPM records Yup
15. S&H Green Stamps Yup, but they were for trailer trash.
16 Hi-fi's Yup
17 Metal ice trays with lever Yup
18 Mimeograph paper Loved the smell.
19 Blue flashbulb Yeah
20. Packards Don't think so.
21. Roller skate keys Yup. and also those metal roller skates that locked onto your shoes, but not well enough to actually stay on. Also, the metal wheels made the whole skating experience pretty crappy.
22. Cork popguns Yes
23. Drive-ins Yes
24. Studebakers Not so much.
25 Wash tub wringers I saw one in a museum.

If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You're older than dirt! I didn't have to count.

1. 5 1/4 inch floppies (or better yet, 8 inch floppies). Bonus points if you remember the capacities of 5.25 and 8 inch disks. Extra bonus points if you had a computer that loaded the operating system on floppies. I was computer-phobic until I got my first PowerBook 160 in 1992

2. The TRS-80 See above.

3. Pure-text internet. The idea from this post came from John's reference to Usenet. Bonus points if you used the pure-text internet on a machine with floppy-loaded operating system and a monochrome (green) monitor, connected via a 2400 baud modem. (Bonus points if you thought 2400 baud was impossibly fast.) See Above above.

4. A modem (probably 1200 or maybe even 300 baud) that involved sticking the phone handset into large rubber cups. Continue seeing above.

5. Gopher You mean the guy on The Love Boat?

6. Loading an IP stack into Windows For Workgroups 3.11 to connect to the internet via a modem (maybe 4800 or even 9600 baud). Back to above.

Moving on to some non-internet stuff:

7. The TV antenna on the roof of your house that had a large dial on top of the TV to rotate and point it (I may have used that one in my old blog). Yes

8. Cable TV with 13 (or fewer) channels. No

9. Making coffee with a percolator, or even by putting the grounds directly in a pot of water and boiling them (folks who camp or spend a lot of time in remote areas without electricity (Jim maybe?) probably not only remember that but still do it that way. I still have a percolator. It makes great strong coffee. (I can't remember the last time I pulled it out, though.)

10. Those "All in one" stereo systems that combined a turntable, cassette player, and receiver in one, cheap, enclosure. Speakers were usually separate. Double bonus points if you had one of those in quadraphonic. We had a Panasonic.

And now, in the interest of being not completely derivative, I'll add some stuff of my own.

I remember the telephone and the telephone table in my grandmother's house. The phone, (dial of course), was made of bakelite, weighed a ton and would make a really nifty weapon. It sat in a place of honor on the "telephone table". This had a shelf for the phone itself, a drawer for the phone book and a small writing surface for taking notes. When you made a call (or answered one), there was no multi-tasking. You were on the phone! In our own home, we'd graduated to the wall-mounted push-button phone in the kitchen. The one with the 25' cord, so Mom could make dinner while chatting away.

I remember actual Carbon Paper. I love how cc: still means the same thing in emails. And I don't trust the bcc:. I'm always afraid that will turn out like the dreaded Accidental Reply All, so I forward stuff to anyone that I want blind copied. I know. Luddite.

I remember the little plastic spacers you put into 45 RPM records so they'd fit on the Hi-Fi spindle. I also remember nobody thinking twice about stacking a dozen or so of the suckers on at once.

I've mentioned before that I remember having dog tags as a child. Living in Jacksonville, FL, we were considered a likely "First Strike" target, so they had to have a way to identify my charred little remains in case the worst happened. The tags had my name, address, phone number, Dad's name and the fact that I was White and Jewish. I didn't really understand any of this until I was about 18 and remembered having worn them. I still have the tag and the bracelet.

I remember wearing a beeper for work. I also remember the year the phone company was on strike, so you couldn't find a working payphone in NYC. Yeah, sure, I'm gonna pull over just because you paged me. Sure.

Not only do I remember P.F. Flyers, I remember getting them at the Buster Brown Shoe Store. When you got real shoes, the salesman would cut a crosshatch pattern in the sole so they weren't so slippery.

That's all the remembering I'm gonna do right now.