Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trod Upon?


It's a perfectly cromulent word.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Today Kinda Sucks.

I have a buttload of stuff to get done today. And the thing that sucks about it is that I'd get holiday pay if I just sat on my ass at home all day.

What've I gotta do?

-Stop by the armory and sign all of their paperwork. (We shoot there Monday afternoon.)
-Stop by the Railroad and sign all of their paperwork. (This one's not my fault - it's their paperwork and they just got it ready Wednesday afternoon.)
-Make a deal with one of the houses right near the railroad for Tuesday afternoon's shooting. (This was a scheduling change and we just scouted houses at the beginning of this week.)
-Sign the paperwork with next Wednesday's location. (This is a change of location. Our original location was on 2nd Avenue and it's become unshootable because the 2nd Avenue subway construction - which has done nothing since approximately 1986 -- has actually reached the spot where we wanted to shoot. It's really hard to shoot a scene when it sounds like there are 12 jackhammers working in the basement of your location.)
-Get the director look at pictures of a check cashing place a block from Wednesday's location for a mini-move to shoot one scene.
-Replace Thursday's location - you don't want to know.
-Signing the paperwork for next Friday's location can wait until next week.

Then I have to go into the office (which is closed) and drop of check requests with copies of all of this paperwork so Accounting can cut checks for all of these locations.

Oh, and I have to hang signs for the people driving to Monday's location, but I don't want to do that today because they'll all just disappear before Monday morning if I do.

(That's not one of our signs -- just something I found online.)

I guess I'm working a little on Sunday as well.

There are some other minor (and not so minor) details to be resolved for the next two weeks of shooting, but they can all wait until next week when I can foist them off on other people.

The good news is that on Tuesday, we get to crash a train into a car! (...since I'm gonna sign the Railroad's paperwork today.)


Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Totally Stole This...

...from Ken Levine. Look it up on your own, but this thing was a Showstopper in 1968. Was everybody on acid?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Which Nathan Is Dragged Kicking And Screaming Into The 21st Century. (Now With Klaxon Sound Effects)

This is what my old phone looked like. You'd flip open the cover and you could make phonecalls. You could recieve text messages. I'm told you could send text messages with it but I refused to learn how because the letters were all on the numbers (three to a number) and they were tiny and...I had no interest in trying to type on a telephone keyboard. I did know how to take crappy little pictures with it but since I never figured out how to get those pictures off of the phone and onto my computer (or anywhere else), that was a pretty useless feature for me. I'm sure it had some other features I never bothered to figure out, but I didn't care -- it made phonecalls.
Over the weekend, I finally knuckled under. I bought a Droid. Look at that sweet sucker!

With a full QWERTY keyboard and even a little trackpad. Or you can use the touch screen.

This little guy can do everything! I'm making phonecalls. I'm sending texts (really short ones with lots of misspelled words). I'm getting emails wherever I am. I can find the nearest Starbucks no matter where I am. (I don't really like Starbucks, but the App was free.)

This morning, the nice lady in the phone told me how to get where I was going. (She doesn't even get pissed off when I disobey her "In 800 feet, turn left" instruction. She just figures out the new route and starts bossing me around all over again.)

I could shoot a feature film with this camera (as long as it needs less than 32 Gigs). I totally wasted 45 minutes playing Jewel Drop on the thing this afternoon. I came close to getting it to mate up with the bluetooth in the car I'm driving, but that was because the guy riding with me was doing all of the programming -- until it got the little safety lockout that prevents you from completing the mating unless the car is in "Park". I can't get the car to ask me the same list of questions when I'm in the car by myself and not moving.

The phone makes lots and lots of random noise for phonecalls coming in, another for emails, another for voicemail, another for an incoming text. There are some other noises it makes and I've gotta be honest, I haven't got a fucking clue what those noises are trying to tell me. (A year from now I'll probably discover that one of them was a noise telling me that Verizon would have given me free service for life if I had only called them back within 2 days.)

I'm still getting used to the touchscreen and to the little buttons on the keyboard. I'm really good at mashing 2 or 3 at a time. It'd be nice if there were some benefit to that. I have a bag full of accessories I haven't unpacked yet -- one set of new technology to learn at a time is enough for me. I'm also totally good at hanging up on people before we finish talking.

Oh...and one other thing. If this thing is obsolete before I get it figured out...the kitty gets it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Finding The Right Needle In A Haystack Full Of Needles.

If I said I was looking for a NYC Rooftop with a brilliant view of the skyline for a scene, you'd think there must be just gagillions of choices. I mean NYC has a brilliant skyline surrounded by buildings, right? And the buildings all have rooftops, right? This ought to be as easy as falling off a log!

But it's never that easy. The script said, "Ext. Chinatown" and "Ext. Chinatown Rooftop". There are three scenes to be shot there. The first is at night showing the arrival of our lead actors at a crime scene where someone has killed himself by jumping from a roof. This scene will take place on the ground. The next scene has a crane shot starting on the crime scene (street level) and rising up to see two actors up on the roof (still night). The third scene is up on the roof and takes place the next morning.

With all of the obvious choices out there, where will we begin? Well, first of all, you may remember that I can get a permit to shoot in Chinatown, but I can't get the equipment trucks anywhere near a location there. The mere fact of the crane shot and the amount of lighting necessary for a night scene takes Chinatown out of the running before we even start. (And with apologies to JTS, the Chinatown in Flushing isn't a viable option since it's way too far from the skyline).

OK, so far we have some limiting factors without even talking to the director. The fact that there's a crane shot showing two actors up on the roof means that we can't use a building with a high parapet wall - we wouldn't be able to see the actors. The fact that the brilliant skyline needs to be in the background when we the crane gets high enough to see our two actors on the roof means there can't be higher buildings blocking the view of the skyline. The orientation of the street and the building to the skyline need to be right, (i.e. if the camera is looking north - at the south-facing front of the building as it rises -- the skyline needs to be behind the building). Since we're using a crane on the street (as well as the emergency vehicles you'd expect to see on the street at a crime scene), it needs to be on a street that we can control. And since we'll be shooting one day scene on the roof and two night scenes on the street and seeing the roof, it's obvious we'll shoot it out of order, (i.e. we'll shoot a split day -- Start around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. to shoot the day scene and then shoot the night scenes after sunset - at about 4:30 p.m.) That means the first of the night shots will take place during rush hour -- which eliminates a whole lot of places from consideration -- like stretches of Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Avenues where there's no way in hell we'll get a permit to control any part of the street leading to the Lincoln Tunnel. (Traffic on those streets move at a snails pace even when the parking rules clear the parking lanes for additional traffic every afternoon.) And the scene on the roof means it has to be a roof that's accessible for getting the crew and the equipment up there.

Then I met with the director and got some more particulars about the crane shot. Look at my nifty diagram showing the dead guy on the street with the camera starting on him and the crane going up until you see a guy on the edge of the roof and a skyline in the background. (That's Perth's skyline, not NYC's because...I have no idea why I stuck Perth's skyline into the diagram instead of NYC. I just did.) Anyway, the director and D.P. add a couple of more particulars about the crane shot. He wants to see into windows as the camera rises and see people inside doing...whatever... maybe watching what's going on outside the window...or being completely oblivious. He wants a building that 3-5 stories tall...tall enough to kill yourself by jumping, not so high that the camera move will take forever in screen time.

At first, we scouted a bunch of 3-5 story buildings. Then, we decided which crane we'd be using for the shot -- the Super TechnoCrane. It's a really cool crane with a telescoping arm which, among other things, lets you get a shot that goes straight up as opposed to a usual crane which makes the lens describe an arc as it rises. But the Super TechnoCrane (at least the version we were getting), has a maximum lens height of 50'. A quick run back with a laser rangefinder to some of the buildings we'd scouted told us that that most of those building were 65' or more in height. So we started again. We needed a building approximately 40-45' tall (with a 6'2" actor added, we'd be able to get the lens up near his eye level). These were all 3 story buildings.

Here's one roof we considered. It's facing directly toward Times Square and even the buildings you couldn't see behind the Salvation Army building would have made a really cool glow. The only problem here was that when we went up to look at it (with only 5 of us on the scout), we were afraid that we'd fall through the roof. There was no way we were putting a full crew with heavy equipment up there.

This one wasn't bad, but the view isn't in a straight line with the camera move we intended...the camera would have had to pan off to the right and things just wouldn't have lined up just right.

This one was pretty good but the city didn't want us shooting there during the day on a weekday.

This one had one cool building nearby, but the rest of the skyline was too distant and would have been really small in the shot.

We settled on this one in Long Island City (part of Queens). Mid-town really looms over this one.

And here we are shooting the scene last Thursday night. There's an 80' Condor (Condor is really a brand of man-lift, but, at least in NY, we call all booms and articulated arms "Condors"...kinda like nobody asks for a "tissue", they all ask for Kleenex), on the left side of the shot for lighting. The white building is the main building we're using. You can also see a scissor lift on the left side of the neighboring building for getting gear and people up there. (The building itself had a roof hatch and a rickety ladder for getting up to the roof.)

Here, you can see the crane in operation. And you can see all the cones from our traffic diversion, so we could all play in the street without getting killed.

Oh, did I mention that we only settled on this building on Tuesday night at 11:00 p.m....for a Thursday shoot? And before shooting there, we made deals with the owner of our building and the owners of the neighboring buildings on either side for lighting. And we made a deal with the owner of the bar next door. And we made a deal with the veterinarian in the ground floor of our "hero" building and with two of the upstairs tenants. And, we found another location to shoot a scene across the street because the work at the rooftop wouldn't have been a full day's work by itself. We did all that in one day.

Good Times.

BTW, I'm sorry the night shots are a little..uh...soft on focus. I was about to pull out the tripod to get some decent timed exposures when the battery died on me. So you get the ones I shot standing as still as I could (apparently not very).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And While We're At It...You Play Like A Girl!

All That You Dream.

Two videos of Little Feat with the incomparable Lowell George from 1977. I loved these guys.
(Uh...they make me smile too.)

This makes me feel good.

Hat tip to Michael Taylor.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Few Observations On A Tuesday Morning.

Why was there a salt-spreader and snowplow on West 104th Street this morning? Was there a storm that I missed? (I haven't seen a flurry yet.)

I was a little surprised to see a line of school buses this morning that said Billy Earl's Transport on the side. That seemed a little out of place in Manhattan. Mobile, Alabama sure, but Manhattan?

I smoke. I drink. I don't get enough sleep. I'm not gluten free, low-carb, high-fiber, or any of those other things. Why do I feel great and the rest of the crew on this show seem to be dropping like flies with various versions of the flu. (Only one Producer got SARS -- or Ebola -- I forget which.)

We have 15 more days of shooting to go. At least one of those days, I expect to show up in the morning and find the caterer parked where we wanted him.

There may or may not be updates. Supply some of your own.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Send Lawyers, Guns and Money..."

I mentioned a few days ago that I had almost been arrested and I also promised to tell you about it later. Some of you, understandably seem to have conflated my almost-arrest with my almost-ticketed-for-speeding, but they were two separate events. The almost-ticketed-for-speeding part took place on my way to work last Tuesday...uh...sedately motoring up the Palisades Interstate Parkway on my way to work...where the almost-arrested part was scheduled to take place. Incidentally, it would have been a little ironic if I had gotten that speeding ticket since I had scheduled to have Palisades Interstate Parkway Police working with us during the week for some of our filming (to the tune of three different officers splitting about 20 hours of overtime). I've mentioned before that cops like overtime and they're generally friendly toward the people paying it to them. The very same cops can be singularly humorless when you're just some putz breaking the speed limit and they have no idea you're about to be the guy who approves the bill for about $1000 worth of overtime pay.

Anyway, here's how the almost-arrested part happened.

Last week, we were scheduled to shoot for four days at the Douglas House. The Douglas House is a very cool place that was set up specifically for filming. It's an old farmhouse with grounds and a few outbuildings sitting on a fairly large piece of property. The house itself has a variety of rooms decorated in a variety of styles. There are 400amps of electricity available in a few different places with electrical connections that match up to the type of connectors we use on our feeder cables. There are hidden "chaseways" where you can run cable from one room to another without having to run it through a door or window where it might be seen in a shot. There are walls that slide out of your way so you can back the camera further away from the action. There's a practical "working" kitchen where you can prepare food and a huge "set" kitchen for filming where the cabinets and counters can be easily rearranged to suit the needs of the scene you're doing. It's a really cool place.

Side note: You've all seen the Douglas House many, many times. They started doing business in the 1980's and, as of 2001, they'd had over 2000 days of filming on site. In fact, most of the fake commercials you've ever seen on Saturday Night Live were shot there. SNL never knows from week to week what they'll be putting on the show, so they just have an ongoing "hold" on the place for every Friday in case they think up a commercial to shoot there.

One of the coolest things about the place from a Production standpoint is that there are no permits says so right on their website. And that's completely true for 99.9% of the productions shooting there. We were -- possibly -- going to fall into the other 0.1% category.

First of all, most commercials are not terribly massive affairs. They have 20-40 people involved. They've got 2 or three trucks and maybe a motor home. The show I'm on, which isn't really very big when compared to most other movies or TV shows has a cast and crew of 70-100 people on any given day. By the time we get settled in for the day, there are four 5 and 10-ton straight trucks. There are two smaller 14' cube trucks. There are three tractor-trailer rigs for makeup/hair and wardrobe, the honeywagon and cast dressing rooms. There are 5 15-passenger vans to get people up there from the city. There are another 30+ cars for the people who can't or won't take a van to work. We just don't fit on the property.

So we rented part of a parking lot down the hill for the tractor-trailer rigs and we rented part of another lot a 1/4 mile away for crew parking. We were not going to be inconspicuous. Furthermore, during our four days on the property, we intended to move our equipment trucks and crew to two other locations in the area, once to shoot at a cemetery about 1 mile away, and once to shoot some scenes with a car on a process-trailer.

May I digress for a moment? A "process trailer" is a big-assed thing towed by a "camera car" or "insert car" (which is kind of a big-assed truck itself). You can shoot from a multitude of platforms. You can light the car. You can put a dolly on tracks next to the car on the trailer.

You can take the trailer off the insert car and use it to shoot a car traveling on its own -- car to car shooting. You can do tons of shit you couldn't do if you didn't have this kind of flexible set up. (Among other things, putting the car on a process trailer allows actors to act instead of having to think about driving.)

The trailer itself expands in width to accommodate all of the equipment and crew you may want to bring along. This one can be expended to 14' wide.

And it's not like you just show up on the side of the road, set up your rig and go blithely filming wherever you want. Here's an empty lot waiting for the crew and equipment to arrive.

Here's the same lot with the small percentage of our equipment and crew needed for these shots. (The empty part of the lot will all be seen in some of our shots -- AKA "in picture".)

And here's a little four-shot progression showing some car to car shooting.

Later, we put the car on the trailer and went out and did some shooting on the highway, but that was night work, so I don't have any great shots of that. I could do a few posts just about camera car work, and I probably will sometime, but I wanted to give you a taste of what's involved for the sake of this post. Go look at the website for the company that this rig comes from. Look at the second picture on this page and you'll get the idea pretty clearly that you can't just drive around on your own without needing some cops and traffic control involved.

So back to our topic of me almost-getting-arrested. You can't park half of your trucks down the road and thirty or so crew cars a little further down the road and run shuttle vans for four days without being noticed. You can't move four equipment trucks and 60 crew members a mile down the road (to the middle of town) and shoot a couple of scenes without being noticed. You can't set up for camera car work and then go driving around with a 14' wide trailer loaded down with crew and lights without being noticed.

Genius that I am, it occurred to me that some of this work might require permits. So we did what we always do. We contacted the Town Clerk's office who told us there was a $250/day permit fee and that we should contact the Highway and Police Depts. to see if they'd have any other requirements. Fair enough...all normal at this point. The Highway Dept. listened to our plan and said, "Thanks for informing us. That's all in the local Police's jurisdiction so we won't be involved". Then we contact the local Police Dept. and...things started to go down the toilet; the wheels came off; our plans went south; monkey wrenches were thrown; the shit hit the fan.

They reminded us of the $250/day permit fee -- no problem there. That's a perfectly reasonable fee. They told us that local cops were $100/hour with a cruiser. On the expensive side, but still not a huge problem. We could deal with the expense.

Then, they told us that the town allows filming between 8:00 a.m. and sunset...which occurs at about 4:30 p.m. this time of year. They said that we'd have to tell them, in advance, how many hours we'd be filming outside of the permitted hours and that we'd be allowed to proceed if we paid a $500 per hour fine for the excess hours. We were told that if we exceeded the hours we'd already paid a fine for, we'd be fined an additional $2500. I never did figure out exactly what they were talking about since none of this was being called a was all fines. We'd be allowed to pay the fines and then be penalized with additional fines in a geometric progression if we exceeded our proposed illegal activity? Huh?

We intended to shoot until as late as midnight on some the four days. We sent them a letter outlining what we expected to do and they kindly sent us a letter telling us that the fines would come to $10,000 if we stuck strictly to the illegal hours we were already planning for, but that there'd be additional fines if we worked any more illegal-er(?) hours. WTF!

This information was coming in just a week before we were scheduled to film there. (Yes, we'd made the first calls to the town almost a month earlier, but with one thing and another, they hadn't gotten back to us and we hadn't chased them down because the shoot was comfortably off in the future and yada, yada, yada. We were finding this stuff out at the last minute.) Had we known this stuff much earlier, we'd have either decided to just build the fines into our budget or we'd have decided to find another location. With four days of shooting breathing down our necks and no alternate location in our back pockets...we were a little panicked.

The owner of the house was getting nowhere with getting the police to back off. I contacted another film (of roughly our size) that shot there a year or so earlier and found out that they had just "bitten the bullet" and paid the fines. (They were shooting during summer, so the sunset fines didn't kick in until almost 9:00 p.m., so it was less of an issue.) I contact the NY State Film Office and asked them to intercede on our behalf.

They contact the Town Clerk. Now, it turns out that when we called, we spoke to some flunky in the Town Clerk's Office (no normal reason to distrust what they tell us). The State Film Office spoke to the Town Clerk Her-Own-Self. She was livid. It turns out that the town does not have a permit fee OR regulated hours if you're entirely on private property...which described us perfectly. Add to this the fact that Douglas House doesn't even really have neighbors, and we should be in the clear. She gave the State guys her cell phone and asked them to have me call her.

When I did, she basically said that the cops were putting their noses where they don't have any business and that we should ignore them. She said we should not respond to any calls or emails from them and just go about our business. She said I should call her cell phone if the cops gave us any trouble.

On the one hand, it was nice to know that she'd back us up and deal with things if we had any trouble. On the other hand, I'd have felt a lot more comfortable if she were planning to deal with things preemptively. But, hey...local politics is local politics and sometimes we just have to do things the way they want us to do them.

So, Tuesday morning rolls around and our crew has an 8:00 a.m. call on location. This means we'll be rolling in the trucks around 6:00 a.m. to get everything set in place before the crew shows up ... two hours before the 8:00 a.m. start the cops have told us would get us into trouble. And we've been ignoring phone messages and emails. And I fully expected to have the cops show up and either start writing summonses and/or to haul my ass off to the hoosegow. (Tractor-trailers backing into an otherwise silent parking lot while someone waves a flashlight and hollers, "mom-back, mom-back" aren't exactly subtle.)

Nobody bothered us.

Around 10:00 a.m. we got a voicemail from a Sergeant asking us to call and explain ourselves. I called the Town Clerk who said she'd pay him a visit. That evening, an officer was directed to "drive by" our set after 8:00 p.m. to see what we were up to. He arrived. We explained that the Town Clerk had already spoken to a Sergeant and that we were informed that no permits were required. He went away without any hassles. (It didn't hurt that when he drove up, our cameras were rolling and we actually had to shush him so he wouldn't spoil the take. We were not making any noise.)

We didn't see any other cops for the next two days.

I didn't get arrested. I know it would have made for a better story, but kindly modulate your disappointment.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm A Little On Edge. (That's a pun).

I told you a couple of weeks ago that we were doing some helicopter shots of a car going off of a cliff and I promised you pictures. I haven't posted any yet.

I suck.

We're not really driving the thing over the edge, but here's a little taste of what we were doing, though. This is the cliff it will look like we drove over. See the little white car waiting there? You can't tell from the pictures, but the ledge is about 100' above the river.

And here's the chopper with the chin-mounted camera. (It's not every day you get to shoot pics of a flying helicopter from above it. In the shot, the chopper would hover level with the cliff edge and then it would do a quick dive toward the river.

Here's another shot.

And that's all you get from that today. I have more...but no time to post about it. We're back at the same location today, but with the full company to shoot the stunts of the car fishtailing toward the cliff and then crashing through a break-away wooden guard rail. It'll all look fantastic...I promise.

I will tell you that one of the things we had to have done for the shoot today was get some boulders moved so we could drive the car onto a closed section of roadway. I showed up a few days ago to meet someone from the Parkway Authority to show them what we wanted moved and make sure they could do it for us. Instead of just being a meeting to point to stuff, when I showed up there was a front-end loader waiting for me and a guy who greeted me by saying, "Where d'ya want this shit moved?" I love big machinery and helpful people.

I'll shoot a bunch more pictures today. That'll give me a whole lot more stuff to feel guilty about not getting around to posting. It's delayed Lack-of-Gratification. I'm sure that's good for all of us somehow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Almost A Jailbird.

It's a story that I can't really tell until next week, but I could have been arrested this morning. (I suppose that's possible on any morning, but today I had reason to suspect that it might actually happen.)

I'll tell you all about it next week, but suffice it to say, I'm actually a little disappointed that my incarceration did not transpire. It really would have made a better story.

Instead, I'm sitting on a lovely bench out by a swimming pool while our crew is happily ensconced in a big rambling house...just filming and filming away...and not calling me on the radio every ten minutes. And we seem to be having a little resurgence of clement weather (67º today), so I'm really quite happy and comfortable.

Oh, and I also didn't get a speeding ticket this morning because just as I was passing the hidden cop by the side of the road, some lunatic in a mini-van went flying by me doing about 90mph. He made a much more attractive target.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just Hold It Right There! I've Got A Blog And I'm Not Afraid To Use It!

Polybloggimous is fast approaching its second birthday and I'm pleased to announce that it has been a force for good in the world. Yeah, that's right! Occasionally things have pissed me off and I've raced to my laptop to tell the world all about it. I'm quite proud of my record of fearlessly taking on giant corporations, international bestsellers and, even clueless kids toiling (poorly) at their first forays into the world of employment.

While it's true that any one of these entities might have come after me seeking retribution...or even just wishing to silence my lone voice in the dark, I haven't allowed myself to be deterred. I'll admit that when I first began revealing the problems I encountered in the world, I thought my little opinions would pass unnoticed. I thought, "I'm just one little guy with one little blog. Will my voice be heard?" Well I'm happy to tell you that the world is a better place today, due, in part to some brave stands I've taken here at Polybloggimous.

I'll let the results speak for themselves.

-I took issue with Jeffery Deaver's portrayal of Location Scouts...twice! Since I took my courageous stand, pointing out the errors of Mr. Deaver's ways, he's only published two or three books and had one movie released based on his writing. Take that DeaverMan!

-Dominoes Pizza is now delivering your pizza the moment you think of it! No need to order online or look up their phone number. Moments after you imagine the aroma of pepperoni and pineapple, your doorbell rings and you've got your pizza. I'm told they give away every tenth pizza for free and the deliverers say, "You've got Nathan to thank for this. We're just not willing to risk offending him ever again."

-StubHub has gone belly-up. They couldn't stand up to my withering revelations about their poor service and just decided it wasn't worth even trying.

-Grocery Baggers throughout the Continental U.S. are required to read my helpful post on the proper way to prepare your purchases for the trip home. (My reach hasn't extended to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico yet. It's something to do with their perverse sense of rugged individualism. Don't worry, I'll get them on board soon! Don't hold your breath about Canada, though. They don't even speak English there.)

I never would have thought, when I started this blog, that the power would be so AWESOME! And I realize that with great power, comes great responsibility. Fear not; I promise to use the power only for good.

Update - 10:59 a.m.:

I was afraid to tempt fate, so I dared not even hope...but my little missives have even created a Bizzaro-World version of Home Depot! It purely boggles the mind!

-Hopped in the car at 10:03.
-Encountered NO TRAFFIC driving to Home Depot.
-Slid right into a parking spot close to the building and dead-center between the entry and exit doors.
-Found a dolly of the right variety waiting for me as I entered.
-Went straight to the kitchen cabinets aisle where I found not one---but three--of the item I was looking for---ON A SHELF I COULD REACH!
-Had I not found what I was looking for, there was a gentleman in an orange apron standing at parade rest, right at the end of the aisle. He had a canny, intelligent twinkle in his eye. Had I made a mistake and pulled a box of SB-36-WK off the shelf instead of the SB-30-M that I needed, surely, he would have come to the rescue and corrected my error.
-There was NO-ONE in line at the registers.
-When I arrived at my car, another helpful gentleman in an orange apron materialized from nowhere and asked, "Can I help you get that loaded up?" And then he took the dolly back to the cart corral so I didn't have to.
-Back home at 10:37 a.m.

None of this could possibly have anything to do with the fact that I got off my ass and went to Home Depot before 1:00 p.m. when all of the other lazy Sunday shoppers put in an appearance. NO! IT'S A MIRACLE!

Next week, I may take on the Church of the Eternal Caterwauling down the block. Their beliefs don't offend me, but parking on my block on a Sunday Morning is harder than on street cleaning days. I think they could benefit from more walking.

P.S. I'm going to Target later today where I expect to find nothing but clothes in my size -- on sale -- in the style I want -- for the appropriate season. If that lady who tries on pantyhose in the hosiery aisle is there, she'll be mercifully hidden from my view. The scanner will mistake the 30% off tag for an on sale for 30% of the listed price tag. It's gonna be great!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Last Tuesday was the election for the next Mayor of NYC...and some other stuff. Of course, there were tons of print and broadcast ads and plenty of robo-calls. Since most of you aren't NYers and may not know, I'll give you the short recap. Mayor Bloomberg and current City Comptroller, Bill Thompson ran against each other. During recent years, the two of them repeatedly publicly stated that the other was the best Mayor/Comptroller the city has ever had. During the last year, while the election ramped up, they each repeatedly publicly stated that the other was the worst Mayor/Comptroller the city has ever had.

Bloomberg won the election, but only by a surprisingly small margin. It should be acknowledged that:

-Bloomberg sorta issued a unilateral legal-thingy that said term limits didn't apply to him so he could run for a third term in the first place.
-Lots and lots of people didn't bother voting because Bloomberg's reelection seemed like a foregone conclusion. (Frankly, I think it was the Bloomberg voters who stayed home, figuring their votes weren't really needed, but what do I know?)
-Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire, is said to have spent $180 per vote. (Personally, I'd prefer he pay me directly instead of inundating me with ads for two years.)

Anyway, I'll admit that my favorite thing about Wednesday morning was that the ad blitz had stopped and the election analysis would peter out in a day or two.

NY will have another election a year from now in November of 2010. Our Governor's term ends on December 31st 2010 and whoever wins takes office on New Year's Day 2011. The current Governor, David Paterson, you may remember, took office when Eliot Spitzer resigned 15 months into his term. Paterson is kinda behind the eight-ball at the moment. There have been stories that Obama (or his people or the DNC) have discouraged Paterson from running. There are lots of people calling Paterson the most ineffective Governor NY has ever had. (Did you ever notice that candidates are only capable of being the best ever or the worst ever? It's never, "Hey, he's kinda, sorta OK, but look at our guy, he's better!") Anyway, I think calling him the worst is overkill. New York has had lots of mediocre Governors. On top of that, I think if they're going to go after Paterson, they ought to just latch onto the scruffy-assed-Yasser-Arafat-Beard issue.

I don't really have any firm opinion about the guy at the least not in comparison to anybody else who may run. But the guy lost me this morning on one thing and he's going to have to work awfully hard to get me back into the undecided column. Actually, what he needs to do least for a few months.

Ya see...this morning, less than a week after the previous election ended, this bastard was on TV campaigning for next year's election.

Hey David, any chance you could give it a rest for a couple of months? Pretty please?

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm SpamTastic!

For the last couple of weeks, I've started getting comment or two a day...on old posts here. I won't further tempt the spam Lords by naming the products, but they all want to make you hairy, horny and capable. I've had to close three comment threads that inexplicably seemed to draw them over and over again.

I'm going to choose to view this all as evidence that my blog has hit the big time.

My delusions keep me happy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Glitz And Glamor On The Set.

OK,'s another look as I pull back the curtain and reveal more of the glamorous life we production folks live behind the scenes. (With photo credits going to Malcolm Alston.)

Here I am out on the street with all of the trucks. There's no room on set and it's boring in there anyway. I've already had forty cups of coffee and somehow, the snacks at Craft Service don't look any more appealing now than they did an hour ago. So I do what any other self respecting production guy does. I help one of the PA's hold up the fence. I think we're doing a brilliant job.

But let me show you the real glamor. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the honeywagon. It's big and impressive looking and whenever there's a picture in a newspaper showing "behind the scenes" stuff, it's a shot of the honeywagon. Look at all of those doors. Look at all of those stairs. What on earth could be hidden behind those doors?

Most of them are dressing rooms for cast members who don't get their own big-assed trailers. But there's also a production office. How's that for glamor?

That's Lisa, the paperwork PA on the left and Megan, the 2nd A.D. on the right. They're buried in paperwork. If they open the door, it's just like having a window. A really noisy window with people bugging Malcolm and I.

I'm not sure they appreciate our visit.
And ignoring us just makes us more obnoxious. Look at all of that space. It's practically the corner office!

But let's get to the real star of the honeywagon. This is why a production really panics if the honeywagon is late to set.

Now you know!

Sunrise / Sunset

The Tri-boro (they won't get me to start calling it the Robert F. Kennedy) and the Hell Gate Bridges at sunset yesterday.

And look. It's all still there at sunrise this morning. Who-da-thunk-it?

I have a backlog of pictures to post with really boring stories to go along with them. I'll get around to it.


I swear it.

Have a happy Wednesday and chat amongst yourselves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cheery Stuff On A Sunday!

You'll have to bear with me til the end of this to get to the actual cheery part!

This morning, I found myself surfing aimlessly while having my morning coffee and I ran across this article. Maybe it was the early hour. Maybe the coffee hadn't kicked in yet. Maybe it was the font they used in the article. Maybe my eyes are getting old.

Maybe I'm just friggin retarded.

I don't know what to blame, but I was sure I was reading an article about Detective Underwear. I won't embarrass myself any further by telling you how far I got into the article before it registered with me that there wouldn't be anything about a super-sleuth who refuses to wear pants.

So, what's the cheery news? Just that I'd say you have an 85% chance of one of my readers making a better joke out of Detective Underwear than I ever would have come up with!

And guess what else? I'm over on the West Side of the Hudson River this morning getting ready to do some helicopter shots of a car driving over some cliffs. QUEL KEWWWWWL, NON?

I'll post something with pictures when I get home.