Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mayhem! (Hey! I consider this a cheery subject!)

In a couple of weeks, I get to run over a car with this sucker! W00000000t!

OK, I don't get to drive it or anything, but the guy who does drive it will do it because I made the deal.

Yay for mayhem!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Today's Cheerful Information Slightly Spoiled.

The fact that nobody done nothin' in half of an entire state is somewhat tempered by news of an entire continent plagued by crime.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today's Shiny Happy Thought.

At least nobody's shooting at me...or if they are, it hasn't been well aimed.

A Month Of Cheery News!

This morning I was driving in to work and there was some guy on the radio talking about how you could force yourself into a better frame of mind by just reminding yourself of a few good things that happen every day. Of course, my first reaction was, Oh fine, think happy smiley thoughts and everything will go right.

And then, I thought, What could it hurt? So I decided I was going to blog only about positive things for a month. And I'd announce it and I'd live up to it...for an entire month. I mean, how hard could it be? There's good stuff that happens every day. All I'd have to do would be to remember to accentuate the positive and eeeeeee-liminate the negative. One month reigning in my inner snark. One month of restraining all bitching, complaining, whining, and rending garments. And sure, I'll admit it...I figured I'd just post some short snippets every day with some positive spin and that would go well with working long days. How hard could it be?

Here, let me start. On our first day of production, we were shooting a scene in a grocery store. The scene took place all in one aisle and would be shot MOS, (MOS means "Mit-Out-Sound"--spoken with a German accent -- I shit you not), so we made a deal to shoot in a grocery store while it was open. We'd just take over one aisle for a while and everything would work great -- and we wouldn't have to pay to completely shut them down. So, while we're there, we're setting up the shot and a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, comes up behind the director, tugs on his jacket and when he looks down at her, she says, "What, exactly, is the significance of all this?"

I mean, how precious is that? And how hard could it be to come up with one funny, uplifting snippet a day for 30 days?

So, I totally decided I'd give it a go.

So, I continued my drive in the pouring rain, but that wasn't really a problem since I'd left the house with plenty of time. And I got to my first meeting of the day with time to find a parking space and even pick up a cup of coffee on the walk over. And I got there, and they were expecting me and I didn't have to wait any time at all to get together with the people I was meeting and get things started.

I had 4 different meetings today with various property owners and building managers and merchants and...EVERY. SINGLE. MEETING. was like being served up a fresh steaming cone of dogshit-flavored soft-serve ice cream. And I stepped in a puddle that was shin deep. And people I tried reaching on the phone had taken the day off. And things I was told to my face turned out to be open to interpretation (not mine). And I finally decided to sit down and have a meal like a human being and when it came to my table, it was least the four bites I got to have before I got an emergency call telling me to get my ass back to set. And some other shit.

Happy-crappy stuff for a month? I couldn't even make it long enough for the first post.

The hell with that! I like bitching. If I find that asshole from the radio show I'm going to tell him what I really think of his moronic advice.

So...Polybloggimous will remain a bitchy, whiny place for the foreseeable future. I'm sure Sesame Street has a positive, optimistic website if that's what you're looking for.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I hate late calls.

The normal way to schedule a shoot, especially when you need daylight when the days are short, is to have an early call time. You park the trucks at 6:00am, have crew-call at 6:30 or 7:00am and start shooting not long after sunrise. The sun is going to set by 6:00 pm, so you use every hour of daylight you can get their hands on.

We're not doing that.

Today's call was 10:00am. Gah! Granted, I don't have to get up at 4:00am to be at work on time, but I was still working at home at 6:00. And then I was on set by 8:30 to get the set dressers into the location.

At 9:05, I get a call on the radio: "One of the extras just fell down the stairs at the holding area. She says she's fine." I say, "OK. Make sure you get her info and pass it on to the paperwork P.A. so it get's on the production report and specify that she refused medical attention. And WTF is she doing showing up an hour early anyway?"

We spent the day shooting exteriors (in the rain), and then, as it was approaching time to break for lunch, two realities set in:

1.) We had one more exterior to shoot.
2.) If we broke for lunch before getting the shot, it would be dark by the time we got back from lunch. (Hey, remember that thing about scheduling lunch 6 hours after call time? Lunch was scheduled for 4:00pm.)

So we decide to keep shooting until we've got the last exterior done and then break for lunch. (Hey, remember that thing about meal penalties for breaking late? We broke for lunch a 1/2 hour late.)

So, we break for a half hour lunch at 4:30-ish. We're back "in" from lunch at 5:30-ish. (Hey, remember that thing about a 1/2 hour lunch that takes an hour? Well, it does!)

When we came back from lunch, we started on the interior scenes. This is what it looks like when you're shooting "Nite-for-day" scenes. These shots were taken around 8:00pm (photo credit: Malcolm Alston -- happy Graham?)

Between the people inside and the people huddling in the dark, there are about 100 people involved in this shot. They'll be aiming to wrap by 11:00.

And, OK...I admit it. I got home a little while ago. Nobody needs me huddling in the dark.

Update: They didn't wrap until 12:45am (I'm still not sure if that was "camera wrap" as in stopped shooting at 12:45am or wrapped, as in "last man out the door".) Regardless, today's call time is pushed to Noon. The list of things that this sucks is myriad.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day #1 of 31.

Hey! We've got trucks! And somewhere to park them. (Well, at least most of them.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Web, v. 3.2

Here's a spider web I noticed earlier today. The right side of it is anchored to the side of our front steps and the left side goes to a little evergreen in the neighbors front yard.

In case these pics don't give you enough perspective, trust me -- that's one big-ass spider.

And it's got nothing to do with anything else in this post. I just liked it.

I'm pleased to report that our trip to Home Depot was ultimately successful. I'm not going to go into the details, but we encountered our share of clueless civilians and employees alike. The visit was more painful than it should have been and it took about twice as long as it should have taken but they're going to deliver the stuff we bought tomorrow and that's all I'm going to say about that. Let us speak of it no more.

After we finished our home improvement extravaganza, we decided we deserved a reward and went to a little pub near home that we like a lot. Unfortunately, since our last visit there, they've obviously gone headhunting for staff at the Home Depot. I ordered the brunch burger. I asked for it "medium - medium rare". The Girl Scout taking our order proceeded to tell me that "medium - medium rare" doesn't exist. There's either medium or medium rare; nothing in between. She then went on to tell me about warm centers with no pink left and cool centers with a little bit of pink and I decided the better part of valor would be to just order it medium and shut the hell up. (I like most steaks medium rare, edging toward rare; burgers a little more done; and Prime Rib should be hit over the head and brought to the table squirming.)

Now this may sound like a really small annoyance, but it got under my skin. I wanted to tell our infant server that she could show me any cut of meat and I'd be able to identify it for her. I wanted to tell her that I pride myself on being able to cook most meats, seafood and poultry to exactly the level of done-ness I intend to. Mostly I wanted to tell her to ask the cook to make the burger medium rare and then leave it on the grill another 30 seconds or so. But then I realized that the laws of physics might be suspended in their kitchen or that they might have some highly technical computerized cooking system incapable of cooking meat to any level of done-ness other than three or four pre-programed options. I kept my mouth shut, but I self-heated to...oh...medium rare.

GF ordered what sounded pretty good. It was touted as sort of an Eggs Benedict, only with a crabcake instead of a slice of ham. It showed up dry. GF asked if maybe they'd forgotten the hollandaise sauce. Baby Einstein admitted that they had, in fact forgotten the sauce and s-t-r-o-l-l-e-d right off to let the kitchen know about their error. About ten minutes later, a guy showed up from the kitchen bearing a teeny little condiment cup filled with something that looked a whole lot more like French dressing than any hollandaise I've ever seen. It was the orangest hollandaise ever concocted.

We decided it must have been some sort of computer glitch...or maybe a nod to Halloween?


Just a little followup to yesterday's post. We went to the Home Depot of my choice.


We made a beeline directly to the kitchen cabinets aisle, deciding to look at their "off-the-rack" section first to see if there was anything there. It turned out that in that section, you had a choice of white, white, or white cabinets. And they were all the types that have to be assembled when you get them home. A really nice salesman came by and asked if he could help us. GF says, "Are these the only choices you have? Aren't there any other colors?" Nice salesguy says, "What color were you looking for?" GF says, "Not white." Salesguy says "You can order any color you'd like. It'll only take 2-3 weeks for delivery."

He suggested we go upstairs to the Design Center where there would be more choices. (He also mentioned that the other Home Depot -- the one I didn't want to go to -- would have more in-stock choices. Traitor!)

So, we went upstairs. Here's the successful part of having gone upstairs. It wasn't crowded. In fact, we were the only customers up there. That totally met one of my wishes for a successful, happy shopping experience. It was also the only thing about going upstairs that rated in the plus column.

We walked around and looked at the spectacularly gorgeous kitchen displays. I opened one cabinet door to see the price on that particular display. $14, 598.32! Really? REALLY? I moved on to the next display. Ugly as sin, but only $2,943.00.

Then we got a little more systematic about the whole thing. Kitchen cabinets are priced by the linear foot. We looked around a bit and figured out that for a rental apartment, we really wanted to spend about $50 per linear foot. We knew that was more or less a fantasy, but we have a right to dream. Steve had suggested we look at KitchenAid cabinets because that'd keep his neighbors employed. We might decide to follow Steve's advice when we buy new cabinets for ourselves, but not for the new neighbors upstairs we haven't even met yet. I doubt we'll like them enough to spend $117 to $320 per linear foot on their kitchen.

Here's another thing about going upstairs that fell into the fail column. I mentioned that we were the only customers up there. I neglected to mention that we were the only people up there. We looked around for about a 1/2-hour before a saleswoman put in an appearance. She showed up as we were making our exit. I honestly don't recall any of the exact sentences involved in our badinage, but I can tell you that the HD saleswoman oozed "Don't-give-a-shit" with every word she uttered and from every pore in her body. That's O.K. We didn't give a shit by then either.

Later this morning, we'll be going to the big, giant, scary HD in Red Hook. And since it's Sunday, the Hassidic DIYers will be out in force as well. Oh, joy. (Before anyone gives me crap about singling out the Hassids, let me just remind you that one of the cornerstones of their belief is that they're commanded to repopulate the earth with Jews and they take that commandment seriously. They have lots of kids and they take all of them on Sunday trips and the kids think they're at Disney World and...Oh, leave me alone -- I'm allowed to be annoyed by anyone I want to be annoyed by.) (Side note: The other day at work, a couple of us were discussing which ethnic group it was still safe to dis in movies and realized that the list has been narrowed down to only the Amish -- because they're not going to watch your stinkin' movie anyway. I'll be writing the next 007 movie with an evil nemesis named Stolzfus bent on world domination and he'll have a secret weapon made out of hand-carved wooden dowels and pegs and stuff and it'll -- eventually -- fling a giant wooden wagon wheel at the big city and...OK, this idea needs some work.)

BTW -- There was a line, so I didn't even get a hot dog out of yesterday's adventure.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Variety of Hell Awaits.

I need all of your thoughts and prayers. Yes, we'll be paying a visit to ... duh-duh-duh (that was ominous music)...Home Depot later today. We're getting the top floor apartment ready for new tenants and we need to upgrade the cabinets (kitchen and bathroom), redo the bathroom tiles, and give the whole place a new paint job. (We had the floors redone just a couple of years ago and they're just fine.)

GF and I have each taken a stab at looking at HD's website for cabinet ideas and each of us came away from that even more confused than when we started.

We have a choice of two HD's to go to that are roughly equidistant. I'd like to go to the one that's slightly smaller (and therefore slightly less crowded and slightly less overwhelming with choices of what to buy). GF wants to go to the one that's the size of a small New Jersey Town. My attitude about all of this is that the best cabinets and tiles will be:

-the ones that are in stock.
-the ones that I don't have to dodge other customers to inspect.
-the ones that are really attractive (but not so attractive that they make me want to move upstairs).

In other words, I'll consider this trip to HD successful if it happens really quickly, doesn't involve encounters with stupid or rude fellow shoppers, and doesn't involve encounters with stupid or rude or ignorant or apathetic or oblivious salespeople. A hot dog would be a bonus.

Pray for me.

P.S. The guy we always hire to do this sort of work came this morning to look things over and give us a quote for the work. He's from India or Pakistan or somewhere like that. His indecipherable accent and command of the English language aren't really his fault and we either work our way past that barrier or, when we can't figure out what he's talking about, we just nod and figure we'll find out what he intends to do when he's finished. On the other hand, his conviction that neither of us knows what the hell we're talking about when it comes to any subject involving tools, tile, paint, wallboard, appliances, electricity, grout, marble, wood, plaster...oh, everything...that gets a little annoying. I had to leave in the middle of this morning's tour. As I was walking down the stairs, I could hear GF saying, "STOP TALKING. LISTEN." She's much tougher than I am sometimes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unintentional Literalism?

I've run across two of my favorite product names this morning. I have no idea where the names originated, but I think they're both particularly fitting.

First we have Onan, the generator manufacturer. Might there be any connection to the biblical story where God struck down Onan with lightning for spilling his seed?

And how about Omron, the folks who made some of the first cash registers with pictures of hamburgers and different sized sodas, for the cashier who has trouble with numbers. It's only one little letter-swap from Moron!

Any other names out there that I should add to my list?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Movie Excitement! (YMMV)

I'm leaving on another Tech Scout in about 45 minutes, so...not much time to write anything for you today.'s some shots I took last week from a shoot for The Other Guys (Will Ferrel's next movie). They were shooting a scene at Chelsea Piers' Golf Club.'s where that is. (The green looking pier at the end of 18th Street is the driving range.)

I honestly don't know completely what the scene is about, but there are bad guys on a helicopter and they...uh...go somewhere...and they shoot some stuff. And the good guys shoot back. Or hit golf balls at them. Or maybe there are the hounds that when they bark, they shoot bees out of their mouths. or butts. are some pics. I don't have time to put them into any kind of narrative order. Tough!

Here are the "picture helicopter" and the "camera helicopter" getting ready to make a pass at the golf club.

This is the picture helicopter making its approach for a shot.

You can kinda see the bad guy leaning out. You can't see his machine gun, but trust me...he's got one.

This shot looks like he's having second thoughts and climbing back in. I'm pretty sure that's not in the script.

Lined up for another pass.

Here he comes!

And this is when they hover low over the driving range. I think the guy jumps out. Or falls out. or gets shot. Or all of the above.

Some of the same.

That's the camera in that bubble on the front of the chopper.
Here's when they were just hanging out waiting.

And here's a wide shot showing you the golf club and all of their trucks parked across the street. (I bring you guys the most exciting shit...don't I?)

This shot is just here because one of the helicopters lined up with a contrail just right so that it looked like he was shooting missiles. I would have written in missiles if it was my movie. Everything's better with missiles.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Thousandth Post! Wooohoooo!

Sunrise on West 19th Street

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm In Hell

My assignment for the day is to figure out the Locations budget for the TV show I'm on. The illustration can be taken two ways -- that I've got a fistfull of dollars to spend or that I've got to squeeze my dollars 'til they cry. My boss prefers the second interpretation.

And it's not like I get to make this budget based on what I think I should be allowed to spend. The producer already created a budget months ago and it's my job to make my budget fit into the one he already created. This is sure to cause headaches...either for me if I manage to do it the way he wants it to turn out or for him if I do it the way that makes me happier. Odds are we'll both want some aspirin.

Anyway, there are a buttload of details that have to go into the budget I'm working up. Some items are based on deals I've already made. Some items are based on stuff we'll need that have fixed prices. Some items are wild-assed guesses. Some items are wishful thinking and fantasy.

So, today, I'm trying to figure out what it will cost to:

-shoot 86 locations in 31 days (including property owners, coop boards, and pissy neighbors).
-pay for bldg. labor like freight elevator operators and bldg. managers who need to be around when we're working.
-have a place for lunch for the crew every day.
-rent tables and chairs for the places that won't have them.
-have a place for the extras to hang out, change clothes and pee for 31 days.
-haul the garbage away every day.
-put up signs to get the crew where they're going every day.
-buy extra insurance for any out-of-the-ordinary scenes ... like stunts and stuff.
-pay for police when we need them (whether we think so or not).
-pay for fire dept. when we need them.
-pay for standby paramedics when we really, really, really, hope we don't need them.
-"courtesy payments"...uh, gratuities. Yeah! That's what they all are!
-trash bags, paper towels, sharpies, tape (gaffers, painters, duct!), cleaning sprays, toilet paper, brooms, mops, Goo Gone, WD-40, batteries, clip lights, light bulbs, makeup mirrors, power strips, matte knives, staplers, staples, zip strips, duvateen scraps, trick-line, sash chord, flashlights, plunger, padlocks....a bunch of supply type stuff.
-permit fees
-parking (for the crew and the trucks and the stuff we'll see in the shots).
-water (from hydrants).
-electricity (from the corner store when the generator is working on a shot two blocks away).
-nuisance abatement (How about if I buy you a really nice lunch for the rest of the day and you come back to jackhammer that sidewalk tomorrow?)

Well, you get the idea. There's a lot more, but it all amounts to having a fairy godmother look into a crystal ball and tell you what's going to happen on November 28th...and then, somehow keeping a budget based on fortune telling.

What are you doing with your Sunday?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Context Is Overrated.

See? Usually, if that picture headed my post, you'd expect me to write something that had something to do with that picture. You'd expect me to provide some context. Well, I'm not gonna. I just liked the picture and decided to put it there.

Here are some random quotes from today's news all strung together:

"I do not know when we will hear from him. It does not matter if it takes some time to consider it, as long as they give it proper consideration." It is something of a fairytale. And it all began with a second hand bicycle that was gathering dust in a north London junk shop. I pack away my binoculars and prepare to head back to camp for breakfast. It takes the form of a family video featuring children playing in the flat. I would love to congratulate you rather than admonish you," she added. ... but there was no way to say "I love you" and "pass the salt" - the French linguists' criteria for detecting life.

I have no idea what any of that means, but I could certainly imagine it all making some kind of sense.

I hereby deem this

International Contextual Abstinence Day!

Have at it!

Updated to add something else completely out of context...

Go ahead and try it! It's fun!

I Like Tabasco, But This Is Just Plain Disturbing.

I really don't have a whole lot more to say about it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's A Grand & Glorious View!

I can tell we're really getting close to beginning to shooting this TV show because I have to get into the office earlier each day. This is what things look like on my drive into work.

Today was especially lovely because the sky, in addition to being dark, is exceedingly wet. Note, that I didn't exactly say it was raining, it's just a wet sky...or the optimist in me would say it's kinda like a slightly dry swimming pool...if it wasn't for the fact that I keep the optimist in me locked in a deep dark dungeon. He's such a chipper jerk. Who needs that shit early in the morning?

We have monthly parking spaces at a parking lot a block and a half from the office. I had been pulling in a little before 8:00 every morning and there'd usually be two or three cars ahead of me waiting for one of the attendants to give them a claim check so they could dash off to work. The attendants are really slow and waiting for that claim check can practically double your commute time. Now that I'm coming in between 6:30 and 7:00, there are usually 8 to 10 cars ahead of me waiting. Where the hell are all these people going? As soon as I figure out the optimal time to show up so that there's no wait at the lot, we'll start shooting and I'll just being going straight to location every morning instead of the office.

Overlooking the parking lot, is this ginormous billboard for Armani underwear featuring Victoria and David Beckham.

Look, I know it's supposed to be all cool and aloof and shit, but Victoria, David...I'm sick of looking at your pouty mugs every morning. Hey! You're rich and people pay you boatloads of money to pose in your underwear and you get invited to all of the coolest parties and David can at least play a game really well, but all Victoria ever did was sing in some lame girl-group a couple of eons ago. What the hell have you guys got to be so morose about. Smile, Dammit! You've got it made. All your damn billboard makes me think of is that I'm on my way to work and you probably just got home from some hellatiously bitchin' party and now you're going to take a shower in your champagne dispensing bathroom and then crawl onto you cash-filled mattress (Dollars, Euros, Yen...whatever might come in handy). You are not making my commute any more joy filled.

And that's not going to get me to buy any of Georgio's underwear! Just sayin'!

P.S. In breaking news, it has been revealed that every small child in America is currently not floating over Colorado in a homemade weather balloon...none of them. Similarly, none of them are in the cargo holds of 767's currently on the polar route. There are zero children in the lions' cage at the Bronx Zoo. Thousands upon thousands of children did not fall into a sausage stuffing machine in Omaha this morning. Video and more news as events continue to not warrant.

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You And Your Fancy-Shmancy Technological...Stuff!

Yesterday, I was standing around with two of the guys I'm working with (OK, we were smoking out on the fire escape), and they started talking about video games. Guy #1 says he was never really into video games and didn't play them much as a kid. Guy #2 says when he was a kid, there was only one of his friends who had a Nintendo and the rest of the kids on the block would gather in a circle behind his couch to watch him play. (Q: How many Teamster's kids does it take to play a game of baseball? A: Teamster kids don't play baseball; they take folding chairs to the park and sit around watching the other kids play.)

I think I got my first video game when I was about 35. When I was a kid, I had a stick!

Here's the deal. When I was actually a kid, there were pinball machines. They were entirely mechanical and the numbers were on little wheels that rolled over to keep your score. Eventually, the numbers became digital. I think I was in college before I regularly played anything that could actually be considered a video game. It weighed 300 lbs. and it stood in the corner at a pizza place a couple of blocks from Kenmore Square. I think it was called Brickles.

My college friends and I would go get really greasy cheese-steaks at the pizza joint and feed minor fortunes worth of quarters into that damned machine trying to get the high score. Eventually we'd have to go home to the dorms (where we had stereos that played LP's on vinyl and CDs were still almost a decade in the future).

Like I said, when I was a kid, I had a stick...and I liked it. We also had bicycles. We used to have races around the circular driveway in front of the Wolfs' house. Nobody ever officially won. The big kids would usually lap the little kids a couple of times and as they were closing in on the finish line, since they were approaching lapping the little kids again, it would looked like they were behind the little kids, and the outcome of the race would dissolve into screaming and a little hitting and a little crying and.... We had some conceptual problems with how to count who had completed how many laps. My stick would have come in handy but I never thought to bring it to a bike race.

We didn't have helmets or any kind of pads. My oldest brother wiped out once and lost a tooth. Mom threw the tooth into a glass of milk and hauled him off to the dentist while the rest of us just ran the next scheduled races. (Going to the dentist in those days hurt! I won't exactly compare it to having a limb amputated while biting on a leather strop, but still...)

We had cap guns. I could wear my holster and my two guns to school if I wanted to. (I probably had to leave the caps at home, though.) We liked our cap guns just fine, but we discovered that if you put the roll of caps on the concrete driveway and hit it really hard with a hammer, they'd all go off at once. That made a much more satisfying BANG! I know we never had any adult supervision for this and I also know that nobody had a problem with us blithely bashing the shit out of (admittedly small) explosives in our front yard.

At one point I decided to become an artisan. I'd take a bunch of fishing weights (pure lead), smash them flat with a hammer (damn that was a fun hammer), and then engrave crap into the resulting medallions with a chisel. Ahh...craftsmanship blending beauty and toxicity!

There was a creek we used to play in in a neighbor's back yard. OK, it was a drainage ditch and you'd have to dig an indentation in the bottom to make it deep enough to put your face into it to drown, but still...

I don't want to sound too much like an old fart, but I've seen some kids around lately who could probably afford to spend some quality time with a good stick.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scents In The City! Autumn finally begins to take hold, presaging Winter, it is time to bid a temporary adieu to the wafting aromas the City inures us to.

Farewell until June, convection-baked garbage!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spoilerific Sunday

I just finished watching House of Sand and Fog, kindly delivered to us by Netflix. If you've never seen the movie and have any wish to ever do so, be warned...THIS POST CONTAINS NOTHING BUT SPOILERS! Don't read it if you have any wish to remain ignorant of how the movie ends.

Clearly, people like to cry because Tragedies have a long and honored tradition. I'm not sure I see the point.

Here's the plot of House of Sand and Fog.

-The county evicts Jennifer Connelly from her crappy little house (because of an unpaid tax bill that wasn't owed in the first place).
-The county auctions off the house to Ben Kingsley.
-Jennifer Connelly meets Ron Eldard who --- leaves his family, gets Jennifer Connelly to start drinking again after 3 years of sobriety, and gets himself in trouble with Internal Affairs by threatening Ben Kingsley to get him to give the house back to Connelly.
-Lots of bad shit ensues.
-Jennifer Connelly tries to kill herself but Ben Kingsley saves her.
-Jennifer Connelly tries to kill herself but Shohreh Aghdashloo, Kingsley's movie wife, saves her.
-Jonathan Ahdout, Kingsley's movie son, gets shot and dies.
-Ron Eldard goes to jail. (He didn't shoot anybody but it's all his fault anyway.)
-Kingsley poisons his movie wife (with the pills I thought Connelly had used up), and she dies.
-Kingsley puts on his uniform and suffocates himself with a garment bag.
-Connelly finds dead Kingsley and dead Kingsley's dead movie wife and cries a lot.
-Connelly gets her house back. Ha Ha! Fooled ya. No she doesn't.


Oh, fine! Brilliant performances, beautiful camera work, lots of good technical stuff...Yada, yada yada.

This was not a particularly uplifting way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Books Today.

I've been without a book for the last couple of days. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG! I would have panicked if I hadn't been falling asleep.

So, this afternoon, I found myself near Lincoln Center and there's a perfectly good Barnes & Noble there, so...duh...I went in.

First thing: I've been to that bookstore more than a few times so I went straight up the escalators and headed toward the SciFi section. They've rearranged. I found myself in Religious Fiction. I can't decide if that was ironic or a case of "What's the dif?"

Then I discovered another problem. Things I want to read all came out at the same time.

-Emissary by Fiona McIntosh isn't new, but it's the next book in the series I started.
-I'd heard about Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and there it number two into the cart.
-A new Terry Pratchett? Holy Shit! MUST HAVE. Unseen Academicals into the cart.
-And my super sekrit -- I'm obsessed with a romance series. Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone. Diana Gabaldon has finally published the next book in the Jaimie & Claire series...An Echo in the Bone. I don't think it's officially the Jaimie & Claire series, but that's what GF and I call them. Couldn't leave without it.

So, I make my way to the checkout with my 15 lbs. of 4 books and I get to the cashier and he wants to know if I have a B&N discount card. I say, "No". He asks, "Do I want one.?" I could SAVE MONEY if I got one. I say, "Don't I have to spend a fortune before I actually save the price of the discount card?" He says, "Uh...yeah, a bit more than you're buying here."

I didn't buy the discount card.

I think I'll read the Pratchett first.

And Another Thing...

I saw one of my pet peeves on the way into work this morning. It's no secret that NYC has some seriously congested traffic. One of the things they do to try to make things flow better is that on major streets, there's no standing or parking during the morning and evening rush hours. This adds one or two lanes for the traffic to use. Hey, every little bit helps.

There are also traffic enforcement people out to keep those lanes clear. They chase people away if they try to stop or they write tickets if there's nobody there with the vehicle. But guess what else they do.

They pull their big ass van full of 8 traffic agents into the parking lane that they're supposed to be keeping clear so they have a nice comfy place to sit during their breaks. And the traffic builds up behind them as people try to merge back into the regular lanes to get around them. Where do I think they should put their van so it's out of the way? That's not my problem. They don't make any suggestions to me when they tell me I've gotta move my car...they just tell me I can't park there!

Know what's even worse? I can't tell you how many times I've seen the traffic agents pull up at a car that's illegally parked so they can write it a ticket. Do you think they pull up behind the car that's already blocking the lane? Or in front of the car that's already blocking the lane? No, of course they don't. Because if they did that, someone would have to drag his lazy ass out of the car to place the ticket on the windshield of the offending vehicle. No, they pull up next to the car they're ticketing and they sit there for a few minutes while they write the ticket so that once it's been written, one of them can just lean out the window and put the ticket on the car. Of course, while they're doing that, they're blocking a second lane of traffic.


Status Report On Nathan's TV Show.

We start shooting on October 26th and our Tech Scouts are a week from Monday (and Tuesday...and maybe Wednesday. We have a lot of locations). Every time I start a show, I think of my deadline for having all the locations as the first day of shooting. Within a couple of days of starting, something will remind me that the real deadline is the Tech Scout...which means the deadline always takes a noticeable leap toward me at the very beginning of things.

That's OK. It's the film business's way of reminding me to gird my loins for weeks of frustrating moments, shocks to the system and bitter disappointments. Hey, it's all good. (Side note: I don't know about you, but I've never heard the words, Hey, it's all good without them meaning the exact opposite. If you're trying to reassure me that you've got your shit together, saying Hey, it's all good is not going to help.)

We've been making good progress choosing locations. We've been picking them off in twos and threes every time we go out to look at choices. Steady progress.

Anyway, things are progressing pretty much the way they always do. The schedule keeps changing as we figure things out. We pick a location for such-and-such scenes and we find out we can only use it on certain dates...adjust the schedule. An actor we've wanted for a certain role has signed on...great news! But she's only available during certain weeks, so...adjust the schedule. this is all completely normal and goes with the territory. Flexibility is a highly valued quality hereabouts.

But a little quirk has reared its ugly head lately. We keep ending up with some fairly major location on the first day of filming. And it just so happens to be a location we haven't found yet. So, we ramp up the panic a notch and make a full court press to find something. And we do! We stand there looking at our newly chosen location and think about all of the ways it will be a brilliant place to shoot our scenes and we pat ourselves on the backs for dodging another bullet.

And that self-congratulatory feeling may last all of ten minutes. Because that's when we find out that we can have the location; we just can't have it on the first day(s) of shooting. Oh well.

So, we move it to somewhere else in the schedule and we figure out what else can be pulled up for the first day of shooting. And every fucking time, it's a location we haven't nailed yet. Every. Fucking. Time.

I try to take it in stride. I try not to get too excited over it. At least not for too long. We'll get it worked out; we always do. I've got to go now. It's time to find the first day's location...again.

Hey. It's all good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear Asshole In Front Of Me At The Deli This Morning,

Before you bitch at the girl behind the counter to learn some damned English, kindly demonstrate that you are capable of uttering a few words in Spanish (or Mandarin or Farsi or Swahili or whatever) so that you may make the case that she's actually more ignorant than you are.

For that matter, why don't you attempt to speak English in a manner that proves you have a command of your own native tongue before you make snide comments about someone who speaks at least one more language than you xenophobic, redneck, fuck, you!

That is all.

We now return to sweetness and light and unicorns farting fluffy rainbow bunnies.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chelsea Moon - 7:58 A.M.

Here's what my little corner of the world looked like this morning.


Your car has officially signed on with all relevant authorities to:
-Notify police when you transgress.
-Assist the police in your apprehension
-Waive your Fifth Amendment rights and provide evidence to assist in your conviction.


I'm mostly kidding. Really.

OnStar, the vehicle assistance program available in most GM models has announced two new features to assist subscribers when their vehicles are stolen..."Remote Ignition Block" and "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown". On the face of it, these two things trigger the following reaction in me...Cool Beans!

Your car gets stolen; you call the cops, you call OnStar. Voila! OnStar gives the cops a GPS location for your car, they activate the anti-theft stuff and cops recover you car. How cool is that?

On the other hand, this inspires a certain level of both the "healthy" and "whackjob" varieties of paranoia in me. Do you really think that cops will never use this technology for anything other than recovering stolen vehicles for their rightful owners from nefarious evil-doers? No! You don't either.

Oh,'ll start with cops contacting OnStar because they see an obviously drunk driver who won't stop. Boom! Some cooperative service rep at OnStar slows the guy's car to Zero MPH and the cops get a dangerous guy off the road.

And maybe next, they'll be chasing a bank robber who makes the mistake of using his very own OnStar-equipped GM car as a get-away vehicle. Ta-daaaaaa! Bad guy hoist on his own petard!

I'm sure there's some small print in OnStar's contract that supposedly prohibits OnStar reps from activating these features for anything other than their stated purpose. I'd wager there's even some rule against activating them for any reason while the car is being operated by their own subscriber. But c'mon! How likely is that to stop some civic-minded OnStar rep from just being helpful to the cops. Hey, who cares if he's our customer...he's breaking the law and we can help the cops!

And then, there's the cops who might...uh...misrepresent what some driver is doing. Some cop thinks his wife is cheating on him with a guy driving a 2010 Chevy Equinox? Kill his car with a theft investigation. Maybe the cops miss one of the guys holed up in a hotel room who was Tweeting G-20 protesters on police movements? No Problem. The guy drives a GM pickup truck.

Bear in mind...I have no plans to buy a new car any time soon, and I certainly have no plans to commit any felonies (or even really bad misdemeanors), but I don't think I'd be rushing out to buy a GM car anyway. It seems a little like buying a house that's equipped to call the police to rat me out if I have any bad thoughts. Then it'll lock me in while waiting for the cops to arrive, and invite them in to arrest me when they get there.

And I can't decide how serious I'm being with this post vs. tongue-in-cheek* about the whole thing...but it's probably more than a little telling that these are the first thoughts that occurred to me when I saw these features advertised.

*You may now all take this opportunity to be as snarky or as frothy as you choose about the whole thing.

Ready? Begin!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wild Goose Chases.

If the following sounds like an exercise in pointless and futile whining, that's because it is. But I'll defend it on two fronts. 1.) I've conducted an exhaustive survey of the internet and determined that two of the most vital purposes of blogs are as repositories for cat pictures and for pointless futile whining. I'm doing that much right! 2.) If there's nothing else I've taught you about the motion picture industry, it's that those of us who toil in it whine a lot. Whining isn't a privilege for film crews, it's an unwritten obligation. Extras whine about the holding area. Grips whine about stairs. Office people whine about the on-set crew and the on-set crew whines about the office. Everybody whines about catering. (It's totally understandable that everyone will whine about eating something-in-sauce for the fifth day in a row, but even if you hired a rotating cast of celebrity chefs, we'd get tired of it after a week or two. " If we have to eat chilled potato leek soup, endive salad with smoked salmon, cajun stuffed peppers, sizzling prawns, curry pork, or bruschetta al pomodoro one more day, I'm gonna puke! Don't any of these effete assholes know how to make a friggin' grilled-cheese sandwich? Would it kill them to put out some corn dogs?")

So, what, you may ask, has got me all wound up this morning? Everybody wants to help me! The bastards! Sure, I can hear you all boo-hooing sarcastically; Aw, everybody wants to help Nathan get his work done! Well, let me tell you; it sucks.

Let's start by recognizing that nobody ever helpfully walks up to the Director of Photography and says, "Have you seen this filter? You should really try it." Nobody tells the Costume Designer where there's a better deal on 1950's police uniforms. I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of the guy who thinks he it's a good idea to advise the dolly grip about when he ought to be using a dance floor instead of track and bogey-wheels. I think that would turn ugly.

But you know what? Everybody goes places and sees stuff, so they all think they should help their Location Manager find places to shoot. Spoiler Alert: YOU'RE NOT HELPING!

There are two categories of people who want to help. Those I have to listen to and those I don't.

The second category is much easier to deal with. They'll say something like, "Oooh, it'd be great to shoot that scene at The Rainbow Room." And I say, "Oooh, that's a great idea! Can I have your props budget for the first three weeks so I can afford it?" O.K., I'm not usually that snotty about it; a totally insincere "Thanks, I'll look into that" usually does the trick.

The first category, however...those I have to listen to, can really add to my workload. And there's rarely anything to show for it in the end. If a Producer or the Director or the Production Designer suggests I look into something, I'd better put some legwork into it. They're going to ask me about it later and I'd better have investigated their suggestion. Sometimes that's easy.

I've had a designer give me a photo and say, "We should shoot here." I remember saying, "I'll see if we can find something like that", and he said, "No! Not somewhere like that; I want to shoot there!" In that instance, I was able to direct his attention to the caption at the bottom of the page indicating that it was a picture of a place that had been torn down in 1982. Ta-daaaaa! Off the hook!

Some other ideas aren't so easy to dispose of. Let's say you've got a scene in the script that takes place a t a pizza restaurant. And let's say you show the director pictures of...oh...twenty pizza restaurants. And let's say you get into a van one day with the director and the production designer and the D.P. and a couple of producers and the A.D. and you go look at 4 of those 20 pizza restaurants and, for whatever reason, none of them work for the movie. I promise you, you'll get back in the van and someone will say, "Did you look at Pizza Gourmet on First Avenue?" And someone else will go, "What about Chez Nouvelle Pizza in Williamsburg?" Yet another will wonder aloud why you haven't checked out Brick Oven Pizza Universe on Bleeker.

Suddenly, you find yourself realizing that nobody is going to be happy until you have a definitive answer about the availability and appropriateness of every pizza restaurant in NYC. And you're thinking, Jeez, there's a lot of pizza restaurants in NYC.

A quick little search of Superpages reveals 673 pizza restaurants in NYC. And I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's an incomplete list. Somebody working on your show will know some hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that isn't on the list.

If you take three location scouts and assign them exclusively to The Great Pizza Restaurant Search and they manage to contact, scout and photograph 5 pizza restaurants each, every day (working a 5-day week), it'll only take seven weeks to scout every listed pizza restaurant in NYC (and still miss God-knows-how-many other pizza restaurants that managed to avoid the notice of If you've got a limited budget (and you know you do) and you've got 50 or more locations to find for the whole movie, this will be a monumental waste of time and money.

And when you've compiled and cross-checked and searched out and contacted and photographed every pizza restaurant in NYC and you somehow convince the powers that be to sit down and look at pictures of every pizza restaurant in NYC, the guy who asked about Pizza Mafia in Bensonhurst will look at the pics and say, "Oooh, is that what that place looks like? That's horrible." And you'll look at him with barely concealed murder in you eyes and he'll say,"We always call for delivery. I had no idea what the place actually looks like". And then, as if it might make any difference to how the place would work as a filming location, he'll add, "Their pizza really tastes good."

Maybe you're looking for a Gym for some scenes. There are the BIG NAME national franchises that may or may not want to be associated with your show. There are the local Mom & Pop gyms that...may or may not want to be associated with your show. (It's pretty rare to be walking into a place and be able to sell yourself in two heartbeats because you're doing locations for the fifth season of Sex & The City and everybody wants to be on your show.) Even if you plan to create a completely fictitious name for the gym in your scenes, there's the fact that people tend to work out at ridiculously early and late hours, so getting into any gym is difficult to schedule. So, when you're coming up dry on places that look good and/or have any wish to get involved with your show, a producer may say something like, "Have you seen that new gym on the corner of "X" Avenue and "Y" Street?" And you...thinking you've got nothing to lose, make a point of going by there even thought it's about as far out of your way as it could possibly get. And you spend 15 minutes finding a parking space. And you walk the four blocks back to the corner of "X" Avenue and "Y" Street. And you stand there, perplexed, looking at the four corners. Three of them have the same old crap you've known was there for the last 15 years or more. The fourth corner has something new...but decidedly not a gym. So you call the Producer and you say, "Did you maybe mean something not exactly on the corner, because, if not, the only new thing at the corner of "X" Avenue and "Y" Street is an Armani Outlet".

I could really go on, but that would be futile and pointless, wouldn't it? People will still ask if I talked to the folks at that church they went to a wedding at 7 years ago that was somewhere on the Upper West may have been Catholic or Episcopal...or something like that. It was in the middle of a block. Somewhere in the West 70's...or maybe 80's. Or maybe it was in East Harlem. They'll still tell you they know a guy who works at this really cool bar and he knows the owner and he can get you in. And it turns out the guy they know delivers beer kegs once a week.

I can whine all I like but it'll never change. Everyone goes places and sees stuff and they just want to be helpful. We, in the locations department, just learn to live with it. There is, however, one situation where we get our revenge. If you're a Production Assistant, you definitely fall into the category of People I don't have to listen to. If you attempt to upgrade your status by offering location suggestions in a van full of People I do have to listen to, I'll be more than happy to arrange a tragic mishap for you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen...I Give You Dan Pasternack!

Uh...this is one of the guys I'm working for right now. For some odd reason, even on clear days, there's a chance of being struck down by lightning in our office. (Happy now John?)


Thursday, October 1, 2009

For The Mechanicky Girl.

That's all I got!