Sunday, October 31, 2010

Random Thoughts on Trick or Treating.

When I was a kid, most of us had costumes that Mom threw together out of stuff we had in the house.  Me being a cowboy didn't call for any real shopping on Mom's part.  Sometimes, there was some sewing involved, or whatever, but I don't recall ever having (or wanting) a costume that came from the store.

Trick or Treating consisted of going to every door on our block (with Mom or Dad along), and ringing the bell to demand candy.  I'm sure there had to be a code the parents knew telling them which doors to leave alone, but I was little and I never knew about it.  And, for older kids (those mostly into the "tricking" part), I'm sure the code was just as useful -- just in an unintended fashion.

Personally, the only doors I wanted to avoid were the ones where someone's Mom was really in the spirit of the holiday.  I didn't care how good the treats might be.  I was completely creeped out by the thought of somebody's mother dressed and made-up to the nines with blood dripping from the corners of her mouth.

I don't have any distinct memory of when I decided trick or treating was for babies, but I suspect it was around the age of 12.  At least I hope it was.

Costumes, of course, make a comeback around the time you're in college.  Costume parties can be fun!  And when you're a little older, you get to take things too far.  I'll never forget the kid from my Freshman year in college who came dressed as Jackie Kennedy...immediately after leaving Parkland Hospital.  It was...colorful. 'Nuf said.

If any of the above make it sound like I've got a prejudice against "store-bought" costumes, nothing could be further from the truth.  All I ask is that there's a little imagination or effort or both involved.

This is a fine costume:

This is not:

I don't know if things have changed for kids who grow up in cities since I never lived in the middle of one before I was 18.  Trick or Treating in cities seems a little pathetic.  When I was in Boston, in the Back Bay, I realized there was a tradition of throwing the kids into the car and heading to gentrified (read rich) neighborhoods so the kids could make a good haul.  I saw the same thing when I lived in Brooklyn Heights.

I've never seen it in action, but I'm told that kids who live in big apartment buildings just ride the elevators from floor to floor and ring any doorbell where there are decorations.

Since moving to Ft. Greene, I've noticed that kids mostly don't go to houses.  They go to the stores that are still open up on Myrtle Avenue.  We tried sitting out on our front porch one year with a bowl of candy to encourage trick or treaters who walked by, but I think we just scared their parents.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Triumph...Of Sorts.

Anybody who's spent any time driving around in rural areas knows that the standard means for getting rid of an unwanted barn is to let it just fall down where it is. Presumably, there's an expectation that eventually, the whole thing will just biodegrade, sink into the earth, become some sort of super fertilizing agent and --- presto --- a crop of ultra-corn, mega-soy, or gargantua-wheat will sprout and take over the rest of the farm, thus ensuring prosperity for the family without effort for generations to come!

I'm sure that's the theory.

I'm also sure that somewhere, at some time, someone got rid of a barn by dismantling it or bulldozing it or otherwise making it actually go away.  But I've never seen any evidence of this either.

Yup, the standard way of getting rid of a barn is to just stay the hell out of it for a couple of hundred years until it's just a mound and some archeologists makes you stop farming long enough for them to conduct an exhaustive excavation so they can tell you what your great-great-great grandparents' chickens ate.

Anyway, this is the closest I've ever seen anyone come to success with this tactic.  I know there's nothing growing there yet, but I can feel it coming any minute now...or maybe in another decade or four.

Ladies and Gentlemen...I present you the Fallingest Downingest Barn in America.

I'm so proud I could weep.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just One More Bit Of Perfection.

I keep driving by things that make me pull over and take pictures.  This view just floored me.

Another one of our crew members caught this shot in the fog this morning.

Suddenly Enlightened On The Opposite of Epiphany!

You will, I hope, recall that I had a brief obsession with discovering what word would serve as an antonym for "Epiphany".  I invited your coinage and lexicographic inventiveness. Well, a couple of days ago, I got an authoritative answer from an honest-to-God Educator.  We're talking about a guy with actual credentials!

According to Michael Sheehan, the word I was looking for is: Epycalyptry [ep´-ee-cal-ip´-tree], "deliberate concealment from self or resistance to insight".

I think it's a fine word and I'll certainly champion its use...if I can remember it without having to search my blog again every time I need it!

Note:  I think this new information is especially timely, given my realization on Sunday that I've been purposely shielding myself from knowledge of what's going on in the world.  Is there any contradiction in the fact that I'm perfectly happy to have a new word in my verbal database that describes my refusal to learn anything new?  I think not!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Congratulate Me. I've Achieved A State of Consummate Nescience!

With very little effort, over the last few weeks, I've failed to listen to any news on the radio.  I haven't watched the news on any local, national, international, broadcast, or cable outlet.  I haven't read a newspaper -- neither printed nor electronically distributed.  This morning, for the first time in weeks, I made a cursory effort to look at some of the news sites I have bookmarked...and guess what.  Not only did I discover that I have absolutely no idea what's going on in the world; I have little or no interest.  I know I'll get back to being mildly obsessed with the news in a few more weeks when I'm done with this movie, but, until then, I'll happily continue in my ignorance.

Let me tell you what I do know about right now.  One of our Locations (scripted as "Int./Ext. Carver House") takes up two full weeks of our shooting schedule.  We're shooting at a really fantastic house in Woodstock called "White Pines".  It's a beautiful example of Arts & Crafts Architecture, built by the founder of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead for he and his wife Jane.  The house was completed in 1902 and now serves as a museum for the colony.  Over the years, some of the homes on the property have been sold, but many remain part of the colony and various sculptors, musicians, painters, weavers, potters and photographers continue to spend time there.

For some shots of the house before we took up residence, you can look at the file on my scouting site.
The shots of the room with all of the pottery on the floor and chemicals on the shelves show Jane's storage room as she left it when she died in the 20's.  Lots of poisons there!  She's also said to haunt the house and to form very definite opinions about the people who visit.  During the 80's the Guild hired someone to come in and appraise the house and it's contents.  More recently, a seance was held and the participants swear Jane made an appearance.  They claim she immediately said, "Is that annoying man still here counting my things?  I don't like him."  As far as I know, she hasn't shown up while we've been there.

Here are some shots with all of the crap that a movie brings with it. (And pictures of the miniature goats I missed the other day!)

 The garden was created by our Greens Dept. They're in planter boxes and will disappear when we do.

 And Set Dressers put the vines all over the outside of the house.

 Lead character's bicycle.

 This is the loom room, which we've converted into a painter's studio.

 And the bridge that joins it to the main house.

And all of our crap hiding behind the house while they shoot out front!

Friday, October 22, 2010

More News From Upstate.

I know I've been obsessing about traffic signs here, but there's one more that's been getting to me.  There's this spot when you're crossing Ashokan Reservoir that you encounter a sign that says "End of 25mph Limit".  Every time I pass this sign -- doing 45 or so -- I find myself wondering again where the hell I was supposed to have slowed down.

A couple of days ago, one of the Teamsters pointed out to me that someone had hit the mailbox for the house we're shooting at and it was leaning over.  The house isn't so much a house as a museum, so I blithely commented that they shouldn't be getting all that much mail anyway.

 To prove my point, I walked over and opened it up to see what there might be inside.  Behold...three pieces of old moldy mail covered by a dusty cobweb and a wasps nest...luckily filled with cold, sleepy wasps!

And since I don't have time to post a whole hell of a lot more right now, here's a couple of pictures taken from the back of our office looking North toward Woodstock.  It was bright sunshine where I was sitting and there was a big storm headed toward me.  It pissed rain on me about ten minutes later.

Oooh, ooooh, ooooh!  I almost forgot to mention...Yesterday we had miniature goats in a scene.  I didn't get around to taking any pictures, so you'll just have to imagine them.  They're just exactly like goats...only smaller and cuter! (But every bit as cantankerous.)

Now that we'll be spending a few days in the same location, I'm going to try to be a better blogger for the immediate future.  We'll see how that works out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Same Old, Same Old...

Did I show you enough of this stuff?

OK, that wasn't all I got to see yesterday.  We went up and scouted some really beautiful property in the mountains over Woodstock.  Most of it is owned by a single family and they've owned the property since 1911.  The first shot is a family cemetery up above where their houses are.  I think I could live with being buried in a place like know what I mean!

If you have to work on a weekend, this isn't the worst job to have!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone.

It seems like only a short time ago, I was complaining about my hotel being deserted.  There was one time when I didn't see another living soul for three straight days of coming and going in the mornings and evenings.  At one point, I was convinced the place had gone out of business and nobody had bothered to tell me.

There is currently a crowd here.  There is continuous line dancing happening in the lobby. 

Please make it stop!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just Some Stuff I Saw Today.

These aren't in any particular order and the only comment I've got is that I was almost blown over by the wind while I took the one of the weeping willow!  Otherwise...another day in the mud. Yay!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


It was rainy and muddy and we broke some shit.

And when I got back to our hotel, I was informed that there was a broken part in the hot water heater for my section of the hotel.  It's on back order.  NO shower for you!

I swear there's a great story here and I'll probably even tell it someday.  In the meantime, you're all invited to speculate!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunrise In Kerhonkson!

Good Morning!  Here's a sunrise.  If I have to look at it, then so do you.  Don't get me's beautiful and all that.  I'd just prefer to stay in bed and imagine what it looked like.

Today is our "Pre-Production" Shooting Day. Yes, we'll be shooting film today.  Yes, it's footage we intend to put in the movie.  No, we're not in Production yet.  I'll never figure out how that one works.

This next part may lose a little being rendered in the written word instead of aurally.  My phone has a GPS which I've decided I dearly love.  Did I tell you I named her little computer generated voice, "Rebeca"... after the waitress GF and I had on our visit to Bethlehem, PA?  Well Rebeca pronounces stuff a little weird.  When she wants me to take Reservoir Road, she pronounces it Reh-seh-Voyeur.  And even though I know the Samsonville-Kerhonkson Road perfectly well by now, I can't resist hearing her tell me to "Turn slight left onto SamSONville-Krunksun Road." She approve of the overuse of syllables.

Y'all have a good day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One More Thing I've Noticed

As you drive around Ulster County, you pass through a bunch of small towns and villages and each one seems to have their own Dept. of Public Works.  When you pass the road leading to their garages, you invariably see one of these v-shaped snowplow blades sitting there at the corner.

Unlike the one in the picture, they're always resplendent in bright yellow paint and they sit, with pride of place, upon some sort of pedestal. It is obviously the Upstate New York Universal Sign for a Public Works Garage.

What I'm wondering is this:  In the winter, when they need to use the plow blade and it disappears from its pedestal, how do the DPW workers find their way to the garage?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Proof Positive...

What I've demonstrated clearly here, through the use of exacting and stringent scientific methods is that Autumn happens from left to right.  Individuals observing this tableau from the opposite side of these two trees might come to a different conclusion.  They would be wrong. 

I'm So Smart. (If Do Say So Myself).

I just finished reading the latest installation in the Honor Harrington Series.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I knew what the big surprise ending was going to be before I'd read the first 100 pages.

If you're a fan, read it anyway.  Even if you know where it's going, it's pretty satisfying.

For a slight change of pace, this is what I'm starting next:
Heck!  It's got 400 more pages than the Weber book!  More words to the dollar -- such a bargain!

Department of Highways; Dyslexia Division

I drive by this sign every night (in the dark) on my way back to our hotel.  It may not be entirely clear from the photo, but this sign indicating that the road runs placed squarely at the beginning of a fairly sharp curve to the right.  Oh well.

If you're going the other direction, you're passing through a section of road where the State Highway speed of 55 MPH is superseded for about a mile by signs slowing you down to 40.  A few hundred yards behind me in the shot you're seeing, you come upon a sign warning you that you're approaching a stop sign.  Shortly thereafter, you encounter a sign telling you that you've reached the end of the 40 mph speed restriction -- so you stomp on the gas pedal to get back up to 55 (or 60 or 65), and as you go around a blind curve to the right, that stop sign you forgot about shows up.  Damn!

The other thing I like about this is that after you've slammed on the brakes for the stop sign you forgot would be appearing is that once you've stopped, you have a choice of going straight or turning right.  Regardless of which way you go, there's a 35mph sign staring you in the face.  I'm pretty sure the guy who put of the "End of 40mph Limit" sign was just getting his jollies.

One other thing that always surprises me about life in rural areas is how many people think nothing of walking for miles to get stuff done.  (Yeah, I know; they probably don't have any choice, but it still amazes me.)  This morning I left the hotel around 10:00am to run some errands and get a late breakfast. Remember, there's no food available at the hotel and the nearest option for breakfast is about 3 miles away unless you decide to knock on the door of some random stranger who lives closer than the Diner.

Anyway, as I turned onto Rte. 44, I saw a woman walking west on the shoulder of the road.  I went ahead and dropped off my laundry and stopped by the Post Office. (Not for nothing, but Jim should consider moving to Kerhonkson...the Post Office here seems to be a model of efficiency and pleasant customer service...just sayin').  Then, as I'm driving back along Rt. 209, I see this same lady again...a few miles from where I'd seen her before.  Nothing extraordinary about this... she didn't seem to be walking particularly fast, but I did think she'd made the distance in pretty good time.

What actually made me think twice about this was that three and 1/2 hours later I went back to pick up my laundry*.  The place I'm using is about 8 miles away.  And who do I see walking along the highway here?  That same lady, carrying a big bag of groceries and headed back in the opposite direction.  I'm sure it was the same lady because she was dressed in a fairly distinctive outfit.  In hindsight, I'm a little ashamed I didn't stop and offer her a ride, but at the time, I'll admit that the thought never occurred to me.  People from Brooklyn just aren't in the habit of pulling over and offering random strangers rides.

I'm sure the word "sad" would be involved, but I'm having trouble deciding all the things I think about the fact that some woman has to devote more than 4 hours of her Saturday to getting a single bag of groceries.**

*Three hour laundry service is another pleasant surprise here!

**I also realize I'm making some pretty big assumptions here.  Lots of people do go out for hours-long walks just because they feel like it. My sister and her husband are on a quest to hike every trail in the state that rises above 3500'.  I prefer elevators.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not That I Have Anything To Tell You...

I haven't had a great deal of time to blog this week, but, then again, I don't have a hell of a lot to write about either.  We go on our Tech Scouts tomorrow and Friday.  We have most of our major terms of screen time and shooting days, but we're still missing a couple of really key locations in terms of their importance to the story.

They're very special locations with a lot of specifics that have to be met to be right, so there are a lot of places that are totally wrong, a bunch that have one or two elements we need...but not the rest.  And there've been a few sites that were really, close to right...but not close enough.  We're plugging away looking for them, and I'm sure we'll come across the perfect sites...but I'd sure breath easier if we had them now!  That, and I'd like us to find something really breathtaking for each of them.  The scenes deserve a great backdrop.

Anyway, I just felt like posting so nobody thought I'd dropped into a chasm or something.  Feel free to wave as you drive by the blog!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm Not Crazy & I Can Prove It. (Well, not about this, anyway.)

One of the first locations we tried to find for this movie is the property where the family of our leading character lives.  A lot of the movie takes place there.  I won't go into all of the details, but there were some very specific things about this location that made it a little difficult to find. 

One day, I drove by a house and I didn't get a really good look at it, but I knew it was unusual.  Granted, we were looking for "Old, run-down, a little creepy, etc." but, when you're coming up empty, "Odd" seems worth a second look.  I was late getting back to our office and I didn't have time to stop, but I made detailed notes about exactly where it was so I could send one of our scouts back to find it.  OK, fine! "Detailed" consisted of, "It's on the left side of Rt. 209 as you're headed back to the office.  It's blue. It's round -- like a turret! It's a either a mile or so before or after you pass through Stone Ridge.  The road curves right near it."

Naturally, with these great directions, nobody else could find it and they all thought I had just hallucinated the place. 

Anyway, today I knew I'd be driving by there again and figured I'd see if I could find it again.  On the way into Kingston, I totally missed it.  On the way back, however, I found it! 

I will also readily admit that if anyone had found this house while we were still looking for the location, they would have come back to the office and looked at me like I'd grown a couple of extra heads.  This house isn't even remotely like anything we were looking for.  

But it's odd!  I'll give it that.

It's Been How Long Since I Posted?

I guess I must be pretty busy.  I'm sure this is the longest I've ever gone without posting anything since I started this blog.  Bad Blogger!

Before I bring you up to date, I just want to assure you all that I'm really having a pretty good time here.  I like the people I'm working with.  The job is fine.  I'm not suffering any major catastrophes and I'm generally happy.  Having said that, "bringing you up to date" is going to, mostly consist of ranting and bitching and moaning.  Hey!  I like ranting and bitching and moaning.  It's fun!

Before I came up here, I picked up a rental car in Brooklyn (on the company's account, natch).  About 1/2 way to my destination, the dashboard started flashing a warning at me that the airbag needed servicing.  The next time I started the car, it added some other warnings about changing the oil and "low fuel", even though I had just filled up the car.  I didn't really trust the warnings, but even if they weren't true, it was annoying, so I traded the car in for another one.

The second car waited 2 days to start telling me that I had "low tire pressure" in the right front tire. By flipping through the various "info" screens available, eventually, you get one that tells you (supposedly) what the tire pressure is in each tire.  According the to car's computer, I had

LF - 27      RF - 17
LR - 56     RR - 64

This seemed a bit distressing to me.  I decided to stop at a gas station to check the air.  As I'm sure you know, this is easier said than done.  Gas stations have free air, or they have air that costs $1.00 for 2-3 minutes.  If you're lucky, they have a built in pressure gauge somewhere on the machine.  There is never a separate pressure gauge available to use for independent confirmation.  (Many of these "service stations" -- read Kwikky Marts -- will happily sell you a pressure gauge, but I kinda resist that when I'm already paying for the air.)  In short, I just don't trust the built in pressure gauges.

I went a couple of days ignoring the warnings, expecting to eventually pass an old style gas station with people who actually know something about cars and have the tools available to, uh, check something as complicated as tires.  But in the meantime, the dashboard warnings had grown more strident.  Every time I turned on the car, a massive strobe show straight out of Saturday Night Fever would begin and the Bee Gees would blare out some new song about the dangers of over- and under-inflated tires.  (You may think I'm making this up, but I swear, those Chevy's do their damndest to get your attention.)  So, I caved in and used one of the $1.00 for 2-3 minutes machines.

Guess what,  $1.00 buys you exactly enough time to fill three tires.  You need to pay another $1.00 to fill the fourth.  And the built in pressure gauge seemed as reliable as I expected it to be.  No matter how long I pumped air, the gauge never got above 27 PSI.  The tires looked awfully full, but the gauge said the needed more air.  I hung my head in shame and asked my smart phone to direct me to an actual tire store.

Having grown up in the 60's and 70's, I can't begin to impart to you the sense of incompetence one feels at having to stop at a specialty store for something as simple as putting air in a car's tires.  And, trust me, no matter how you try to explain your predicament, the guy behind the counter will look at you the same way one looks at a dyslexic chimp after the twentieth attempt at explaining "Lefty-Loosey, Righty-Tighty".  Then, it gets worse!  Mr. Helpful Tire Salesman (who knows I'm not about to actually buy anything), checks the tires and finds that the tires, which are each intended to hold 32 PSI, are inflated to a range of between 48 and 81PSI!  Now, he knows that I'm not only retarded, I'm suicidal, too!

I now have tires that promise to roll properly without exploding if I hit a pothole.  Whew!

That part of bringing you up to date took a lot longer than I expected, so I'll just hit the high points on the rest.

We've pushed the start of Principle Photography by two days. That means we're starting two days later than planned.  I've always assumed that if you decided to start earlier, that'd be called pulling the start of Production, but since I've never heard of that ever happening, I'll just have to keep on assuming.  No, what happens, (and is happening in our case), is that they tack on a "Pre-Production" shoot day.  Somehow or other, it doesn't really count, even though everybody involved has to be just as ready as if it were the actual first day of production.

We keep altering our shooting schedule -- this is not in the least unexpected; it happens all the time.  However, every time I get to the point where I've got all of the locations lined up for the first couple of weeks of shooting, they decide to shoot something during the first three days that we haven't found yet.  Pardon me, but my only reaction to that is, "Fuck"!

I finally got moved to a room with a balcony so I can just step out a door from my room to smoke.  Before I leave, I plan to get a picture of me in my underwear, out smoking on my balcony, just to leave for the jerk who was working the front desk when I checked in.  The room, itself, isn't as good as my previous room, but I'm not going to bitch about it since I made such a big deal out of getting the balcony in the first place.  But just between you, me, and anyone else on the internet who shows up here...this room sucks.  There's two queen beds instead of one king...which means there's a bunch of floor space wasted on something I'll never use and the bed sits so close to the desk that you can't pull the chair out far enough to actually use it.  The shower has two settings:  Off, and Holy shit, that's hot!  But, more than that, I'd like you to see the wonderful workmanship that was applied at some point in the past to repair a leak in the ceiling. 

What you're looking at, is the ceiling that leads into where the sink and counter sits as a lovely little separate area from the actual bathroom. 
If you look closely, you can see a couple of little holes in the ceiling, which lead me to believe that the first attempt at fixing the leak consisted of nailing up something over the leak.  When that didn't work, they must have found and stopped the leak somehow and then just plastered over it while it was still wet (and possibly moldy?).
My favorite part is that they must have had to go up into this little bit of ceiling detail (maybe there's a pipe hidden in here?) so they had to cut away the wallpaper to get at it.  And then, they stapled it back together.

I love this place!

I have a couple more things to talk about, but this is long enough and I've got some actual work to do today, so I'll add some stuff later.  Have a Happy Sunday!