Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

And don't forget to tune in to Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve, where Dick will be celebrating the first year where his full powers of immortality have finally kicked in!

Some of the features his 'deal-with-the-devil' will allow him to bring to you this evening will be:

-An advanced In Memorium telling us which celebrities will die during 2011.

-A magical moment (actually 10 minutes) when every other broadcast and cable outlet will mysteriously go off the air shortly before midnight!

-The revelation of his Manifesto for World Media Domination! (Preview: Fox News will be switching to an "All Hip Hop - All The Time" format!)
-The sight of Ryan Seacrest's lips suddenly fused together!

-Dick's announcement that Times Square is seceding from NY City and State. The borders (8th avenue to 6th Avenue and 40th Street to 52nd Street) will be manned by resurrected teenyboppers and 
boy bands under the able leadership of the ghost of Buddy Holly. And Justin Bieber's gonna be one of his first Cabinet announcements!

-And for the piece de resistance, contrary to prior announcements, Snooki will be dropped from the top of One Times Square -- just not in the ball.

Don't miss it folks!

Happy 2011!

This Morning's Petty Annoyance With The Neighbor

What's wrong with this picture?

You may recall that I've had issues with how my neighbor chooses to define the border between his snow and our snow. You may also recall that I've had issues with how my neighbor puts his trash out for collection...namely, making it look like its our trash.  Well, the picture you're looking at illustrates, among other things, how I made a point of digging out a path to the street.  I've also dug through the berm created at the end every time another plow has gone by since the storm. (The plows here always plow snow toward the left side -- my side -- of the street.)

This little path comes in handy.  It's nice to have a way to get to the street.  I also had in mind the fact that eventually, the garbage trucks would shed their plows and start picking up garbage again.  I thought it might come in handy  to have a way to get the trash out to a truck in the street.  Well, that trash you see at the end of the path made by my efforts isn't my trash.  It's my neighbor's trash.  

And there's another thing.  Not only is my neighbor putting his trash out in the spot I created so I'd have a place for our isn't even going to get picked up!

Yup.  If they had a TV, or a radio or some-o-that newfangled interwebby stuff, they'd know that trash pickup is still suspended.  I will be putting their trash back in front of their house with a printed copy of the city's homepage taped to it.

I'm also waiting to see what they can do next -- ya' pull off the NeighborlyNeighborTrifecta.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Open Letter to David Weber.

Note:  This post contains spoilers...I suppose.

Dear Mr. Weber,

A few days ago, I finished reading Out of the Dark.  This is the spot where I'm supposed to start frothing at the mouth and demanding that you refund my money, forthwith!  I'm not gonna do that.  I'm an adherent to the philosophy You pays yer money; You take yer chances. But, really...Vampires?  Are you fucking serious?  Fucking Vampires?

Allow me to digress a moment.  I'm a fan.  I'm not going to count, but I'd guess I've read 90% of the books you've written.  And I buy them.  Probably 50% in the hardback editions.  I'm looking at a bunch of them on my shelf right now.  I'm not trying to say you owe me or anything...but I have been a fairly supportive reader over the years.  And I've enjoyed your stuff.  Really.  But...Vampires?  Fucking Vampires?

Here's what I've come to expect of your fiction:  There will be lots of characters...some of whom I'll get to know intimately; some of whom will be blasted to paste by the end of the chapter in which they were introduced.  There will be lots of intense battle scenes.  Shit will blow up!  There will be heroes.  There will be villains.  There will be smart people.  There will be idiots.  Good stuff.

There will also be pages and pages and pages and pages giving detailed descriptions of created political interactions, descriptions of weaponry, descriptions of imagined future-tech...well, frankly, a bit more than I care for.  That's fine.  It's what you're into and it's what I suspect a great many of your fans are into.  I, on the other hand, tend to skip over the 3-page interludes that plumb the depths of all possible minutiae about how many grains a projectile is and how many foot/tons of energy it exerts after leaving a weapon with a certain muzzle velocity and has to travel 1500 yards with a specific windage and elevation to be accounted for.  ( I probably used some of those terms incorrectly, but I'm perfectly happy to read a description that says, "the brandy-new XT21-R variant of the sea-deployed RamTech Cannon was capable of firing a schoolbus-sized projectile over 36 miles and landing within 20 meters of its intended target.")  But that's just me.  Like I said, you and many of your fans are into that stuff, so I can skim a few pages to get back to the stuff I like.  No big whoop. I suppose I can be thankful that I didn't have to skim a 12-page treatise on various vampire mythologies.

And I'm not about to whine about vampires on the basis of them being "made-up stuff".  That'd be stupid.  You're a Sci-Fi novelist.  The whole point is that you make up stuff.  I've just come to expect most of the stuff you make up to be...oh...plausible.  I have no idea whether or not the Faster Than Light technology you've created for the Honorverse makes any actual scientific sense.  I have no idea whether or not the wormhole junctions you make use of could really be.  I have no idea whether or not Hyperspace makes any friggin' sense at all.  But I do know that they're plausible as plot mechanisms.  I can't remember a spot in any of your other books where I found myself saying, "Whoa dude...where the hell did that come from"?

And I've also read (and enjoyed) more than a few vampire stories.  It's not the vampires themselves that offend me.  It's that I got 391 pages into a 407 page book and found out -- out of nowhere -- that fucking vampires save the Human Race!  This pissed me off.

Now, I suppose I can blame myself for never having read the original story this book is based on.  But I'm not a huge fan of short fiction, so I never crossed paths with it before.  My bad.

And I suppose I could have read the review that was right there on the Barnes & Noble page that would have told me about the vampires.  But I tend to avoid reading too much about a book before buying it.  I like being surprised...usually.  I only read the synopsis that said:
In the stunning launch of a new military-SF series, DAVID WEBER tells the tale of humanity’s near extinction by hostile aliens and of the surprising alliance that fights back.
Hey, I thought;  A new David Weber book, military SF, hostile aliens...sounds good to me!  And I bought it.  And I read it.  And then...fucking vampires showed up and saved the human race!  Have I mentioned that this pissed me off?

Look, I've already don't owe me anything. You don't owe me any more Honor Harrington books.  You're free to take up romantic comedy set in the rain forest if you want.  Write a few non-fiction books about worm castings if that floats your boat.  But when I pick up a David Weber book that purports to be military SF, I want aliens to be aliens, and the cats to have six legs and the weapons to go BOOOOOOM, and...well, you get the picture.  I don't want the humans to be un-fucking-dead.  Unless, maybe, they start out that way.  In other words, I might be OK with a whole book of vampires battling aliens; just not one where they're the surprise saviors of humanity.

What annoys me even more -- if that's possible -- is that there were other potential candidates for the surprise alliance.  Maybe one of the other Hegemony races could have shown up to chip in.  Maybe, despite their pacifism, they might have decided that the Shongairi were a greater threat to the Universe than the Humans.  Maybe some of the Shogairi could have defected to Humanity's side.  There were hints dropped that some of them might not have liked their spots in the pack's pecking order.  Maybe you could have alluded to some latent telepathy in the Shongairi and that litter of puppies that were born in the book could have absorbed Shongairi intelligence by some weird osmosis.  Even that would have been more satisfying than fucking vampires!

I know...if I want to suggest alternative story-lines, why don't I write my own fucking book?  Point taken.  So I 'll just go back to whining about the book you wrote without any more helpful suggestions.

So, while we're on the of the bits of evidence the Shongairi noted proving the backwardness of humans was the fact that they were still so dependent on fossil fuels in spite of having developed nuclear technology.  So why, for Godssake do the Shongairi's vehicles burn so satisfyingly when missiles hit their fuel tanks?  What the hell are they burning in there?

I think I'm done now.  I didn't ask for -- and I won't be getting -- my money back.  But I did get a subject to get all ranty and frothy about on my blog.  I suppose that's as good a trade as I'm gonna get.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One More Thing Some Stores Are Doing That Could Just Make Me Lose It.

Remember a while back, I was annoyed about stores that assume you're planning to steal all their stuff if you come in with an empty shopping bag?  Not only do I resent the implication that I'm a thief, but none of these stores seem to have figured out how to get your empty bags back to you conveniently so they can be filled up when you get to the cashier.

Well there's another related thing they do that I find utterly crazifying.  The Walgreens referenced above got rid of their "All of our Customers are Shoplifters" sign a month or two after I wrote about it.  I'm now welcome to walk into the store with empty shopping bags.  Yay!  I can even walk in there with bags full of stuff from another store.  Double Yay!  But their answer to letting me walk around with all of my stuff may be worse than what went on before.  Boo!

First, they started putting locked plexiglass shields over some of the over-the-counter drugs.  You have to ring a little bell that triggers the P.A. system call an "associate" to that section to open the shield and get what you want.  Then, instead of handing it to you, they take it up to one of the registers where it will wait for you to show up and pay for it. Note:  Once he drops it off at a register, you're stuck waiting for that register.  When they open up a new one, you can't go there, 'cause your stuff won't be there.

The last time I went in to buy one of these OTC items, the bell in that section was missing.  So I walked down the aisle and found the next nearest bell.  The P.A. system dutifully called for an "associate to help a customer in the cold and flu section."  When the "associate" showed up, I pointed him down the aisle to what I actually wanted, at which point, he got pissy and said, "That's not the cold and flu section!  That's not my section."  I pointed out that there wasn't a bell to push in that section and he grudgingly got what I wanted.

So, next, I'm following him up to the register and he gets waylaid by a couple who are trying to get to some other locked-away items.  So I get to follow him around as he shops for them.  One stop for shampoo--(they're really concerned about people shoplifting massive economy sized shampoo bottles?) -- deodorant, disposable razors -- all locked away in their own little sections.  And then, I get to get in line behind the people who just took me on their shopping trip so I can wait to pay for my one little item now being held hostage at the register.

If they're going to lock everything away, they'd better hire more people to meet us at the door to act as personal shoppers.

Earlier today, I ventured into Office Max.  I needed a black ink cartridge for my printer.  All of the ink cartridges are behind the Customer Service Counter.  Only there's nobody working at the Customer Service Counter.  Eventually, I get some guy's attention.  He comes to the counter and finds the right ink cartridge for my printer.  Then, he walks across the store and hands it to one of the cashiers. (God-forbid he should be able to just ring me up at the Customer Service Counter.)

So, I go over and get in line at that particular cashier.  There's only one customer in front of me, so that ought to be O.K., right?  No.  First of all, she's got a basket full of a zillion little items.  And the cashier can't just ring it up as "6 of item X" and "12 of item Y".  No, he's got to scan every friggin' one of them.  And when the scanner doesn't work on one item, he doesn't just scan an identical item a second time...he keeps running the defective bar code over the reader over and over and over and over again...until it accepts it.  While I'm waiting for this, I'm watching customers breeze through at the other open register.  And, just when I think I'm about to have the opportunity to pay for my ink and get the hell out of there, the cashier invites the woman in front of me to sign up for Office Max's savings card.  So, I wait some more, while customers behind me move to the next register and leave before I do!

I officially despise any store that makes me wait for anything as a prelude to waiting in line to pay for my stuff.

P.S.  A note to my fellow shoppers.  If you get up to the cashier and realize you forgot to get "one thing", I can deal with that.  Go ahead and trot back for it.  We're all human.  If, however, you forgot to get more than "one thing", you're officially "still shopping".  You're now annoying the crap out of all of us.

Snowmageddon 2010 -- The Stuckening!

So, the plows have made it down my block a few times.  I'm on what's called a secondary street.  Walk to the corner and you're looking at a tertiary street.  No joy there.

This car appears to have backed in at some point.  Now that the plows have created a berm (I'm standing on it in this shot), that car ain't goin' nowhere.

And this sucker's gonna hurt when it lets go:

Yesterday, the news was having fun showing all of the city buses that got stuck in the snow.  Today, they can't decide which is more fun; showing snow plows stuck in the snow, or showing snow plows plowing into parked cars when the bulldozers and such try to pull them out of the snow aren't so careful about it.

In all fairness, shots of stuff stuck in the snow lack a certain amount of...motion.

Monday, December 27, 2010

30 Inches! (Heh-heh, heh-heh)

Between the amount of snow we got and the fact that the wind isn't letting up, this may rate as the biggest storm I can remember in the city.  I do know that the plows are having a tougher time of it than any other storm I can remember.  They plowed my street some time overnight and haven't been back since.  The smaller side street near me hasn't seen a single plow yet. (See panorama below).  And the main drags near me are lucky to have one lane getting by.

Here's a couple a pics and a movie from my front stoop!

Update 10:00PM:  There's been ONE PLOW that made ONE PASS at my street all day.  It wasn't terribly effective.  The good news is: A.) we parked GF's car on the school side of the street, B.) it can stay there since school is out all this week, and C.) when the plows DO get around to showing up, they always plow away from the school side.  WIN-WIN-WIN!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Important Genetic Discovery Made In Brooklyn!

A scientisty-guy in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn has made an astonishing and somewhat frightening discovery.  There is now proof positive that between the ages of 45 and 55, a gene mutates in the male of the species, making it seem acceptable to leave the house wearing socks and sandals.

Be warned.  This will happen to you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memory's A Funny Thing.

How many among you only remember how that woman you were dating broke up with on Valentine's Day...and conveniently forget that it was because that was the day she came back from a 2-week business trip and discovered that you had forgotten to feed her cat?

How many among you only remember that time the waiter was such a jerk to you and your friends...and fail to recall that there were 36 of you...and you waited 'til you'd ordered dessert to ask for separate checks?

How many among you have a distinct memory, and loathing for that 10th Grade math teacher who flunked you in spite of the fact that you aced the final exam...and have no recollection of the mass of assignments you never turned in?

How many among you have no memory whatsoever of the last six office parties you attended?

We all remember things in a way that makes us happy.  Sometimes, it's just easier that way!  What's so wrong with choosing to give yourself a break?  Hmmmmm?

With that in mind, I've been reading where a lot of people are taking issue with Haley Barbour over his memories of desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement.  And I say, "Give the guy a break!"  He's entitled to his memories!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Abbreviated Updatery.

Earlier today, I was thinking about something I wanted to post about.  It involves Directors of Photography...which we in America abbreviate to D.P.  Our Canadian brethren abbreviate it to D.O.P.  Can't be leaving out the of, I suppose.  Only, the whole idea behind abbreviations and acronyms is to...well...abbreviate.  To make things shorter.  To reduce the necessary syllables.'re doing it wrong.  Or, at least, not right enough.

I'll post my thing about D.P.'s when I get around to it.  Hint:  Some of them are a right pain in the ass!

Other stuff?  I considered staying up last night to see the lunar eclipse.  Since it wasn't going to be complete here until about 3:30am, I decided against it.  Now, as you know, last night's eclipse involved a ridiculous number of things all happening simultaneously that rarely happen simultaneously.  A full moon.  The winter solstice.  An eclipse. All occurring at once.  Well guess what?  Two other things happened at once.  At roughly 2:45am, I woke up having to pee.  And the moon was clearly visible right there outside of my bathroom window!  How's that for a dose of serendipity?

More stuff? I ran across this picture today and found it entertaining.  Kinda makes me glad I never really considered a career as a wildlife photographer.

Also,  in case you didn't know it, there's a new Terry Pratchett book out there!
In this one, Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle pay a visit to Ankh-Morpork!  If any of that means anything to you, you'll be rushing out to get hold of this book.  If not...then you won't.  Nuff Sed. 

I also downloaded the Nook App for my Droid.  In addition to being really, really can automatically sync itself to my actual Nook.  So, if I read a bunch of pages on my Nook and then later, want to read some more on my phone, it'll automatically figure out what page I'm up to.  I may be easily impressed, but how cool is that?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

There's A Reason I'm Posting This, But I'm Not Gonna Tell You!

And I'll bet there's a version out there in English, but I like it better with a bit of mystery.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Guess Who This Uber-Macho Guy Is.

Sorry the poll looks like crap.  I got tired of looking for a good code to cut and paste without having to register.
This macho dude later became known...
for creating and marketing a famous line of women's beauty products.
for a notorious crime spree.
for postulating a controversial theory.
as half of a wildly successful singing duo.
as a globally influential politician.
for his prolific and groundbreaking novels.
his discoveries in the field of cellular biology.
as a noted philanthropist.
other: (specify in comments). free polls

Friday, December 17, 2010

Today's Random Book Quote.

Chris knew all about that: the fundamental law of physical metamorphosis, by which any object magically transformed into something else will always have one slight flaw or mistake in it -- a piano with one too many keys, a nine-legged spider, or anything produced by Microsoft.

Have I mentioned I like this guy's books?

Congress Makes My Naughty AND Nice List. All In One Week!

This has been a problem!  You all know you've sat there with the volume cranked up on some show because you couldn't decipher the dialog.  And then the commercials came on and blasted you into the next room.

Well, supposedly, no more.  On Wednesday, President Obama signed legislation prohibiting broadcasters from airing commercials at a higher volume than the highest volume in the show.  It'll be a year before broadcasters are held to this and I can see some wiggle room left open -- Uh, I won't be surprised to hear about networks demanding that producers include some loud scenes to bring up the permissible decibel level.  But, on the whole, it's a step in the right direction.

On, the other hand, there's another piece of legislation working its way through Congress that I'm not so sure about.  Their hearts are in the right place...and they're trying to solve a real, though limited problem -- but I'm pretty sure there will be some unintended consequences.

It seems that the new Hybrids and Electric cars are too quiet.  I know that I've been fooled into thinking I hadn't actually started a Prius, so I can easily imagine the difficulty this causes for blind people trying to walk around city streets.  But if you read the story carefully, you'll note that while solving a problem for roughly 0.3% of the population, they run the risk of driving the other 99.7% of us batshit crazy.  It seems that car manufacturers are planning to (or already do), install a "chirp".  Like the chirping you hear from traffic signals at some intersections.

Now I've got no problem with chirping traffic signals.  You can only hear the one you're standing nearest to.  But what happens when Electric cars become a lot more widespread?

Is every street going to sound like a scene from The Birds?  Think you'll be able to stand it?

I'm pretty sure somebody's got a handle on the technology necessary to make an Electric car sound like a gasoline powered car.  I bet they could even link the sound generator to the speedometer so you'd be able to distinguish between a car speeding up and a car slowing down.  And it wouldn't have to be any louder than current models of gas powered cars -- nobody seems to be complaining that they're too quiet.

I realize this doesn't sound like a great big issue for our times (pun intended), but just wait a few years and tell me you still love the pastoral sound of birds tweeting.  But you'll have to email me.  I'll be hiding inside -- with the commercials cranked to max volume to drown out the sound of the damned cars coasting by my house.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Can You Watch This Without Smiling?

You CAN'T! That's how.

BTW, Yes, I know I'm only like 2 years too late to claim I discovered these guys -- what with them being on TV in commercials every ten minutes and stuff, and with that video only having like two-MILLION hits -- but some of you are even more out of touch than I am.  So there!  You're welcome.

A Location Manager's Job Is Never Done.

When I finish a job, I usually get as much as a week to "wrap" the show.  There are "thank you" letters to get out.  There are repairs (hopefully minor, but sometimes -- egad -- not so minor) to follow up on.  There are invoices to chase down and approve (or dispute) for accuracy.  There's a ton of paperwork the Production needs put in order for the future. (A year from now, they may have to prove they had some business owner's permission to use their name in the movie.)  And when they do a sequel (and hire someone else for that one -- what's that all about?), they need to know who owns that house from Scene 27B so they can go back there and shoot again.

After that week or so of paid wrap is over, you just know there will be emails and phone calls coming in for the foreseeable future.  It goes with the territory and you just kind of chug along and respond to this stuff -- gratis.  Sooner or later, though, it gets ANNOYING.

The movie I finished last month is still within it's grace period.  I'm getting emails from people waiting for final checks. (OK, in at least two cases, it's because their faxed invoices were so smudged, the mailing addresses were practically illegible and their checks came back as undeliverable.)  And in one case -- and I'm really not sure how many other ways I can say, "Nuh-Uh! That's NOT what we agreed to."

And frankly, I'm getting a little less patient about waiting to get reimbursed for my out-of-pocket petty cash expenses.  Granted, it's not their fault I waited until the last minute to submit my expense reports and it's not their fault I spent my own money instead of submitting interim petty cash summaries and getting my float renewed as we went along, but, c'mon guys, it's been almost a month now.

It's not just the shows you just finished that keep intruding on your life.  Yesterday, I had to chase down a piece of paperwork from a show I did two years ago.  That one was pretty easy, but I can see a number of situations where the producer would have been S.O.L.

I had another show where a homeowner claimed to have been missing a bunch of stuff from a closet in their home.  And we're talking ridiculously expensive 6 vintage fur coats; and some antique crystal; and some other irreplaceable tchatchkes.  The only problem with that is that there's no way anyone associated with our production could have taken the stuff -- if it existed in the first place.  Ya'see, the first thing our set-dressers did when they started prepping the house was to move a hugely-heavy bookcase in front of the closet door so we'd never see that it was there in the movie. (Trust the context of the movie, it wouldn't have made any sense for there to have been a door where this closet was.)  And the homeowner was there when we moved the bookcase into place.  And they were there on the last day of wrap when we moved it away.  And it took something like six people to move the thing. Did I mention it was huge and heavy?  There are a few other reasons this stuff couldn't have been taken while we were using the place -- if it existed in the first place -- but the argument went on for months.  And as the dispute made it's way through the various departments of the studio and to the insurance company, I got call after call after call to fill them in -- from scratch -- what our side of the dispute was.  It didn't seem to matter that the person calling me always had a copy of my written report in front of them when they called me.

Eventually, the insurance company made some sort of settlement to make the whole thing go away and I stopped getting phone calls.  And if any of you are concerned that the home-owner may have felt abused, about a year-and-a-half-later,  a scout working for me brought back brand new pictures of the same home for another show.  He said he'd met the home owners and they claimed to have never been involved with a movie production but that they'd love to have one shot in their home.

Uh Huh. 

Another time, I got a call from somebody at a studio.  His question went something like this:

"Hey, do you remember when you were prepping _________________ and you and the producer went and had a meeting with ________________?  Do you remember what he said about ______________?  Hmmmm?  Do you? It's kinda important."

That one was easy to deal with too.  I hadn't worked on that show.

P.S. I mentioned a week or so ago that I had recently been scouting and when I found out my camera battery wasn't holding a charge, I ended up shooting everything with my phone. And, of course, my phone has a built in GPS.  Since then, I've discovered something kinda neat -- or really scary, depending on your outlook.  There are a number of times where you're out shooting stuff "in the middle of nowhere" and it can be a pain in the ass to keep notes that are good enough to find your way back to the spot again.  Not anymore!

Look at these pictures I just randomly shot as reference along "Rt. 79".  Then, click on the button on the upper right that says "Map This".


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beware The Pygmy Marmoset!

 Marmoset Insurance Salesmen can be very unscrupulous.

 I have no idea what this image has to do with marmosets, but it showed up on the GoogleImage search.

 The invisible ones are the worst!

Except when they're not.

 They pretend to be lovable and adorable.

But then you can always count on someone playing the Marmoset Card when you least expect it!

Sorry. I Have No Self Control.

You may need to embiggen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don't Go Back To Rockville.

Once again, I find myself being totally suggestible and letting Eric decide what I should be posting about.

The short story is that back in '91, I got a call to go work* on Paradise in Charleston, SC.  I was in the process of moving to Los Angeles at the time and that phone call came about 5 hours after I had arrived at my brother's house in Orange County after spending a week driving from NY.  So, I packed and got on a plane. The movie stars Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, Thora Birch (pre-disaffected Kevin Spacey progeny), and Elijah Wood (pre-bein' a Hobbit)!

Saying we shot the movie in Charleston is a little deceiving.  We shot in a lot of places around Charleston, but every location we shot at seemed like it was miles from Charleston. And we were at one of those locations for a buttload of days out of the shooting schedule.  I know it was only about a 40 minute drive, but it got to the point where it seemed interminable.

So, the caterers decided we had a theme song.  Every day at breakfast, you'd hear this tune blaring out of the mobile kitchen.

There are two things that I remember most about making that drive over and over again.  First, there was the morning that I was just ahead of our Craft Service guy on the two lane road leading to set.  It was foggy as hell and both of us were probably driving at least 20 mph over the speed limit.  About 2 miles before our destination there was a place where you had to take a fork in the road, and as Crafty took the fork, I saw a cops lights come on in my rear-view and pull him over.  Since I knew many of the County Cops by then (we'd hire them for security and stuff), I turned around and went back to see if I could rescue him.  When I got back, he said he wasn't in trouble at all.  It seemed he had an arrangement that whatever cop was on duty in that area would pull him over every morning for a cup of coffee and a bagel.

The other thing was that our producer managed to amass something like 15 speeding tickets.  At one point, he asked me to talk to the Sheriff and see if we couldn't get them "fixed".  About a week later, the Sheriff got back to me and let me know that he could get all but one ticket thrown out on the condition that we get a driver for the producer -- it seems he didn't want the guy driving in his county any more. (In fairness, I have the distinct memory of the producer arriving one morning with exploded feathers and a bird's claw sticking out of the front grill of his car.)

Anyway, I thanked him profusely and asked, just out of curiosity, why he couldn't get the last ticket excused.  In answer, he asked me whether or not it was possible that our producer had called his officer a cocksucker.  I conceded that he might have used such intemperate language -- if he'd been in a particularly good mood that day.

I'll leave you with Elijah being interviewed on the set of that movie.  He was young.
*Please note that I said "work on", not "manage the locations".  I received a Location Manager credit (with my last name misspelled), but frankly, I think that was kind of generous.  By my standards, I was an Assistant Location Manager on the movie.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Awfully Cold Here In Binghamton...But I'm Enjoying It Anyway.

I'm in Binghamton, NY working on a Music Video.  Much like cigarettes, this makes the ____th time I've sworn I was done with them...and the ____th time I'm back at it.  I'm not going to go into a great deal of detail, but working on Music Videos can truly suck -- used to almost always suck.  And they suck less often now for much the same reason that many of you might complain about watching Music Videos, (i.e. they've become too slick).

At some point, while I was officially retired from them, they became more of a professional endeavor. I'm not going to get into a discussion of the worthiness of Music Videos...or a discussion of whether or not they might be better or worse than they were in the early days when I worked on my first. (BTW, the shot of the snare drum covered in milk, about 2:45 in, was the great "concept" for that entire video.)

But the point of all this is that I'm working for a really enjoyable and talented Director.  Tomorrow promises to be fairly entertaining.

Here's an example of some of the class and imagination he brings to a project:

LIPTON - Green Tea & White Tea from Yoann Lemoine on Vimeo.

And here's an example of the class and imagination he brought to another project*

(Not Even Remotely Safe, Even A Teensie-Weensie Little Bit Safe For Work)

AIDES - GRAFFITI from Yoann Lemoine on Vimeo.

*This was an internet project for Aids Awareness in France...and it got millions of hits and ended up actually airing on French TV.

Over the River and Through the Woods...

So, it's 5:30.  I'm not sure I slept more than half-hour last night.  No reason...just couldn't sleep.  And at 6:00am, I'll be on my way into Manhattan to pick up some big-assed SUV...and a director.  And then we head out to Binghamton to meet up with the rest of the crew.

And tomorrow we'll shoot a bunch of stuff.  Not sure exactly what we'll shoot -- we'll decide that when I show him a bunch of places this afternoon.

It's snowing out there.  Which is why we're going there.  And it's cold.

Now I know it's not that cold, but I don't remember how to be outside in the cold.  It's still early in the season for us.  I expect to look like this by Noon tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear, And it shows them pearly white.

An Egyptian official has announced that a recent series of shark attacks in the Red Sea can be laid at the feet of Mossad...which has apparently been recruiting agents among their friends in the Chondrichthyes family. (Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know Chondricthyes is the Class name. Somehow,"class" just didn't roll off the tongue in that sentence!)  It's all clearly a plot to ruin the Egyptian tourism industry.

In totally unrelated news, I swear I'm going to get around to learning how to use PhotoShop one of these days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back in Brooklyn!

I'm back in Brooklyn after spending the weekend in Western New York searching for various locations with snow.  Here are a few pictures just to give you an idea what it looks like near Binghamton at the moment.

There! Don't you all feel like I was working for you?

And here are a few really quick observations.

In the middle of shooting the first location I went to, I discovered that my camera's battery no longer holds a charge.  Quelle Catastrophe! No worries...I just shot everything else with my phone.  And it turns out that my phone actually shoots as nicely as my camera -- maybe even better.  There are two problems.  I usually "dumb down" my camera to a lower resolution since I'm usually posting files online instead of printing anything.  Larger resolution pictures don't really show up that way on the website and higher resolution pictures just take longer to upload.  I can't find a way to "dumb down" my phone's camera.  Each shot is about 1.5 MB and they're 2592 X 1936.  The stitched together pans are ridiculous! Also, it's customary to include one shot of a location with a compass in the shot to show people what direction things are in -- D.P.'s want to know where the sun will be during the day.  My compass is an App on my phone.  Kinda hard to shoot a pic of your phone with your phone when there aren't any mirrors handy.

Enterprise gave me a KIA Soul to drive...which is a little baby SUV.  It's pretty fun to drive,  but every time I pulled into a gas station, I ended up pulling too far past the pumps.  You kinda expect the rear of the car to be further from you than it actually is.

I don't know why I'm always surprised when Google tells me a trip will take 3 hours and 19 minutes -- and it actually takes 4-1/2 or 5 hours to drive it.  

If NYC is supposed to be such a great place, why do all of the radio stations suck so bad until you get 50 miles away from it?  Except for the stations that switch to an ALL CHRISTMAS format for the entire month of December.  I'm betting there's a high incidence of suicides among DJ's for those stations.

I've never listened long enough to get the guy's name, but there's one Evangelical broadcaster who sounds exactly like Al Franken.  Every time I land on a station and hear him, I end up listening for 5 or 10 minutes.  I know there won't be one, but I keep waiting for the punchline.

And I can't think of anything that'll get me to change the station faster than hearing the announcer say, "After the news, we'll be back with ONE SOLID HOUR of The King of Polka!"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Adventures in Western New York.

I'm scouting locations for a music video in Western New York.  The main thing is to find somewhere within three or four hours driving time of NYC that will have snow on the ground next Thursday. (There's more to it than that, but I won't bore you with details.)

Anyway, since I know the general area I'm looking in, but not the specifics of where I'll finish any particular day, I'm just finding hotels to stay at when the light runs out for the day.  Yesterday, I asked my trusty phone for a list of nearby hotels.  I went to look at the "reviews" of the first one on the list and found the following (paraphrased):
I've never stayed at this hotel before, but I check the Sex Offender Registry regularly and this hotel seems to be where they all move to in this county. 
There was another review that said something about it feeling like staying at a place designed for a horror movie.

I went elsewhere.

P.S.  I also don't think I want to know anybody who checks the Sex Offender Registry regularly.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Polybloggimous: Continuing It's Tradition of Disappointing Googlers!

You may remember this little post I put up about a year-and-a-half ago.  I'm too lazy to really check into the details, but it's one of my most popular posts for people showing up here via Google Searches.  I've had 7 hits today, alone, for people searching variations on the words "fucking democrats". (fucken demoncrats was one of the search phrases, but I'll cut them some slack.)

Every time I see one of these, I feel a little bit guilty.  Kinda like someone enticing customers into his store with pictures of beautiful FREE caramel apples...only the apples under all of that beautiful, delicious caramel are all rotten.  And there are worms.

Then, I figure that if Hansel and Gretel want to come into my store only because there's FREE stuff, they deserve whatever they get.

And I have no idea why someone searching "Ass Paragus" ended up on my blog today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eh! Walk If You Want To. Why Should I Care?

A malfunctioning(?) sign in Spokane, WA.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Darius Lives! Well, Not Really Lives. Well, He's Kinda Back.

Remember a while back, I wasn't sure if this was a short story...or the beginning of a short story...or what?  Well I've decided it was the beginning of a short story.  Well, I've decided it's the beginning of a short story.  And I've dusted it off.  And I wrote a little bit more of it today.

And even though I made you look at that link, I'm putting the whole thing here from the beginning...'cause I'm a snot like that.  And yes...I kinda know where it's going, but I'm not sure what the ending is.  Ah well.

P.S. I'm still thinking of making up a new banner with Jim's suggestion as a tagline:  Don't Listen to the Mean Internet People.

Darius Coville woke at precisely one minute after Midnight.  He didn’t wake with a start but the transformation from deepest sleep to wide awake had been instantaneous, nonetheless.  The first thought that occurred to him was to wonder how he knew the time precisely to the minute.  He didn’t have an answer to the question, but he knew that he was exactly correct.

The next thing he noticed was how completely dark it was.  It didn’t scare him at all, but this too, weighed on his curiosity.  He was actually rather pleased with himself that the dark didn’t inspire any sense of panic. His mother would be proud of him if she knew.  After all, he was little more than 11 years old and he could well remember being afraid of the dark; and that was normal dark, the kind with shadows moving about, taking outlandish shapes and meanings in his imagination.  This was an utter absence of light and even though it should be much scarier, it did nothing but add another item for him to ponder.

Something was truly different but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

He thought back.  He recalled that the day had started like any other day with Momma hollering from the kitchen for he and his little brother Jake to come in for breakfast.  He had been doing his morning chore of milking Honey Pie, the family’s one cow.  Jake was still too small to handle the milking but he had recently gotten the job of tossing feed to the chickens and retrieving any new eggs in the coop.

After breakfast, Momma had made sure that Darius and Jake practiced their letters.  School might be out for the harvest but Momma still made them keep up with their lessons.  She had plans for her boys and those plans didn’t include scraping out a living on any Missouri farm, no-siree!

The rest of the morning had also been uneventful.  Jake had been sent out to collect fallen apples from the tree behind the barn and Darius was kept busy splitting some logs for the woodpile.  Eventually Papa came in from the fields for lunch and the family had all sat down together for a meal of Momma’s fried chicken (almost fresh from the icehouse), and sweet buttermilk.  Lunch was eaten in silence after Papa had uttered a short prayer.

Darius had heard his father and some of the other men down at the town store arguing about whether or not a war was really brewing.  Nobody there was overly fond of Lincoln, (Darius had learned a few new terms listening to that conversation), but neither were they all-fired eager to get involved in a fight they didn’t see as their own.  There wasn’t a single slave owner in the county and the few freed blacks living there weren’t any trouble at all.  That young’un, Thaddeus Washington was a fine blacksmith and when old Bart Johnson had died, all of his usual customers had taken their work to him without a word of complaint.  Darius knew his Papa was a lot more worried than he let on.

After helping Momma clear the dishes, Darius was told he could take Jake down to the creek and see if they couldn’t catch some dinner.  They chased each other and stopped to have swordfights with their cane-poles on the way down to the creek but it had only taken them twice as long to get there as it should have.  That was fine, though.  Momma wouldn’t expect to see them again for hours and as long as they brought back a few fine catfish, everyone would be happy.  The fishing might be serving a real purpose on the farm, but everyone knew the boys had been let loose from chores for the rest of the day.

The day had turned awfully hot by then and Jake shucked off his clothes and jumped into the creek the minute they got there.  Darius had yelled at him to come on out, that he’d just scare all of the fish away, but there was no heat in the rebuke.  Soon, the two of them were both splashing in the creek and cooling off.

Jake was making a game of diving under water in one place and reappearing somewhere else, hoping to surprise his big brother.  Darius just floated lazily on his back, enjoying the sensation of the cool water.  The cool water and the quiet of the creek flowing and the breeze in the trees.  The quiet.

Suddenly, Darius had realized that he didn’t hear Jake splashing or whooping any more.  He’d looked around and hadn’t seen him anywhere.  Frantically, he’d started searching for his little brother, diving and swimming underwater in the silty water.  On his fourth dive, he’d come up hard against a large tree limb resting on the bottom.  Somehow, Jake had gotten his ankle trapped under the branch and was trying to free himself.  Darius tried lifting the branch, but that only forced his feet deeper into the muddy bottom.

He dug furiously at the mud and rock bottom trying to free his brother. With his breath burning in his chest, he fought a heavy rock out of the way and Jake was free.  In the act of moving the rock, however, he had rolled it onto his own forearm.  He was trapped himself now and knew he couldn’t hold his breath a moment longer.

Darius lay in that unusual darkness, just moments after he’d awakened and smiled inwardly, knowing he’d saved his little brother.  He was glad to have that memory because he also remembered that it was the only thing he had to stack up against how much it sucked being dead.


Right on the heels of that thought, Darius indulged a moment of curiosity. Sucked?  That sure wasn’t a word left over from his short life.  He realized he knew exactly what it meant, though; the way someone living in a foreign land wakes up one morning to realize they had just been dreaming in the local language.  Where the hell did “sucked” come from, he thought.  And when did “hell” replace “heck” in my vocabulary?

This was followed almost immediately by another thought.  “Vocabulary”? I’m sure I’d heard that word before my unfortunate accident, but the other boys would have ragged me to the ends of the Earth if I’d ever used such a high-falutin’ word in their company.

Darius lay there for a moment, understanding that if he was only patient, it would all come back to him.  Patience was something he hadn’t come by naturally.  Achieving any sense of patience had taken…well…a lot of patience.

He remembered the first time he had “woken up” here in his casket.  That one had been really bad.  He hadn’t even realized he was dead at the time…just that he was in a dark, stuffy place.  He’d panicked and tried scratching his way out.  Good thing the dead don’t feel pain.  Or bleed.

In fact, he’d lost count, but he was sure he’d wasted his first 20 or 30 “risings” panicking and trying to figure out what was going on.  Finally, he’d made a breakthrough when he remembered how pointless the anxiety was.  That time, he’d calmed down almost immediately and really put some thought into his situation.  And, sure as can be…he’d drifted up through his coffin lid…up through the six feet of soil and roots that had taken hold since his drowning.  Up to a surface he didn’t recognize.  And then, he’d let panic set in again.  Another wasted rising.

It took him another 6 risings before he figured out that he was in his family’s burial plot out on the little rise overlooking the house.  Only the house wasn’t there anymore.  The farm wasn’t much to look at either. “Well, it never was all that much to look at, but at least you could tell it was a farm back then”, he’d thought.  Apparently, while Darius had been decomposing – funny, he didn’t feel any less solid – the town had come out and swallowed up the farm.  There was a Bank building and a Sundries Store and a Theater...clear out here almost a mile from where "town" used to end.  There was even a trolley line.  He was just beginning to wonder how he knew anything about "trolley lines" when this particular rising came to an abrupt end.

It took two more risings after that for him to come up with anything resembling a plan.  Toward the end of that second subsequent rising, he decided he should take advantage of the little time he seemed to keep getting – try to actually learn something about his situation.  And then, of course, that particular rising came to an end too.

On the occasion of his 42nd rising after his death, he wasted only 20 minutes or so trying to force answers.  He quickly came to the conclusion that if he was going to ever make any real plans, it would help to know how this whole rising thing worked…and how long it lasted.  He quickly set himself to simply observing.

There were very few leaves on the trees; it must be autumn.  And, on thinking about it, he was pretty sure it was always autumn during his risings.  He also realized that there was a full moon.  It sat huge and bright almost directly overhead.  He watched the moon transit the sky and tried to judge the time passing.  He thought he might have heard some birds start to stir and chirp in the trees, but before he could sense the onset of dawn, it was all over again.

The next, rising, however, he remembered all that had gone on in the previous.  He was making progress!

On October 18th, 1904, Darius rose and, in no time flat, he recalled all that had he had learned since his death.  And he decided to go for a walk.

Surely, Nothing Could Go Wrong With This Plan. (And Stop Calling Me Shirley.)

NYC has announced plans to send two ambulances on certain calls during a test program for the next few months. The first unit will do it's damdest to save your life.  The second will be standing by to harvest your organs!

I don't actually have a great big problem with this, but it might be well to remember that one of the reasons that municipal EMS units came into existence in the 1970's was that private ambulance companies used to have a habit of fighting over who would get to transport accident victims...while the patient died by the side of the road.

Just sayin'.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Does This Count As a Meme? If It Does, Michelle Will Suffer For Tagging Me.

Michelle tagged me with this thing on FaceBook.  And, you know how I feel about memes.

Meh...whatever.  I'll bite.  You may take a stab at this one if you choose.  Or not.

Bold those books you've read in their entirety.
Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien   
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
6 The Bible   
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens  
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller   
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier 
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk 
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens 
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams  
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment 
28 Grapes of Wrath 
29 Alice in Wonderland
30 The Wind in the Willows 
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy 
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Screw-tape Letters- CS Lewis 
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy 
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding   
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens  
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez        
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov   
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac  
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy 
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath  
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola 
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray    
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker 
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazu Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad         
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams 
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (I hated this book so much, I threw it on the barbecue about 1/2-way through it.  Did I mention I HATED THIS BOOK?)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas 
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo_
110 To the Far Blue Mountains - Louie L'Amour
111 Desert Solitaire -   Edward Abby.
112 Death in the Long Grass- Capstick.
113 The Fionavar Tapestry -Guy Gavriel Kay.
114 The Time of the Dark- Barbara Hambley. 
115. Maps of the Mind- Charles Hampden-Turner
116.  The Discovers  - et al- by Daniel Boorstin
117. The Modern Mind - Peter Watson           
118. A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs
119.  To the Lighthouse- Virgina Woolf.          
120.  Foucault's Pendulum - Eco  (I hated this almost as much as Confederacy of Dunces.)               
121.  Le Morte d'Arthur   - Malory. 
122.    Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe    
123.     Don Quixote. -Cervantes.
124.     Man's search for meaning- Frankl.

I have no idea what, if anything this list reveals about me. Maybe I just don't read the stuff I'm supposed to read. I can't think of any time during the last 35 years that I didn't have some book I was in the middle of.
And, as long as we're revealing readerly things...I've just started Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.  I can't imagine how I managed to never read it before, but I'm remedying that situation.