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.

Is This Exciting Or What!

Personally, I'm a little disappointed that it isn't an orange crayon.  But I suppose blue will have to do.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

They're Playing Our Song Again.

GF and I had dinner in an Irish Pub last night.  And, of course, there was the obligatory Irish Folk Band playing.

I must digress for a moment.  American Country Music has always consisted of, "My dog got dead and my truck's done busted and my wife's done run off with some Banker, but her mother still lives here..." kinda stuff.  Irish Folk Music rarely veers from, "The English, they came and we kicked their arse, but they sent some more and we're livin' in the basement wiv a potato.  Damn The English!"

Both of these wear thin on me fairly quickly.

Anyway, you can't see squat in this video, but if you listen, you'll be able to hear the song they're playing (for Eric).  I have it on good authority that the mandolin player is the childhood friend of a third cousin of the nephew of the guy who played Ike Godsey!  Enjoy.

Word (Verification) of the Day!


I ran across this as the word verification on someone's blog today and I deem it an excellent word.  I'm not entirely sure of the definition, but I offer some possibilities.

Noun: One who does not fit in with current society.  Example: James Dean represented the Malitype in Rebel Without a Cause. 

Noun: The act of type-casting an actor in the "evil doer" role.  Example: Oh, you think of one.

Noun: The act of typing badly, as if with one's thumbs or large toes.  Example: V'min. upi guis.  Uyov'e all fone rhis barouf.  Vaxters!

Go ahead...take a whack at it yourself.

P.S.  I'll have (bad) video to post later today just for Eric.  He'll (hopefully) find it amusing and the rest of you will invite us both to shut the hell up.  Something for ALL of you to look forward to!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Clearly, We've Completely Lost Our Minds.

Blows your nose so you don't have to.

Wipes your ass so you don't have to.

Eats your lunch so you don't have to.

Watches Football so you don't have to.

Kisses you wife so you don't have to.

(Helpless) Ladies and (Useless) Gentlemen...I give you the RoboStir!

Mediocre-Man And His Team of Also-Rans.

Once upon a time, (OK, a year ago), I decided to take the whole idea of time travel and poop all over it.
Yeah...I'm a "glass-is-1/2-empty-and-there's-a-little-hole-in-the-bottom-of-it-too" kinda guy.  I'm totally capable of seeing the gray cloud inside every silver lining.

Like most of you, in my childhood, I imagined myself a super to leap cracks in the sidewalk in a single bound...faster than a speeding box turtle...more powerful than a paper airplane.
And, in adulthood I've had my flights of fancy, imagining what super-power it would be really cool to possess. Unfortunately, I tend to forgo the fantabulous in favor of the more attainable.  See, here's the thing...most of those super heroes had to suffer some horrible tragedy or misfortune to attain their powers.

Spiderman got bitten by a radioactive spider.  Batman doesn't have any actual super powers, but in order to be inspired to come up with all of his gadgets, he had to suffer the pain and angst of seeing his parents murdered. Superman had his whole planet vaporized and then he basically got flung at another planet.

I figure I'd be willing to settle for some lesser power if I don't have to suffer too much to get it.  I'd be more than willing to stub my toe once in order to become to kick the crap out of anything without hurting my foot.  Besides, it seems like all of the really cool super-powers are already taken.  As a public service, let me tell you what's left.

Doesn't Need Jack LaLanne Boy
You'd remain a 98 pound weakling, but you have a built in force field surrounding you.  You're impervious to sand kicked at you.  You'll always get the last French, no less.  The main drawback is that your force field is ineffective against anything with more mass than a grain of sand. Rocks still hurt.

You have the ability to see a detailed view of anybody's innards. But only if they stand completely still for 15 seconds.  And hold their breath.  And you can only make use of this awesome ability when all ferrous objects have been removed from your vicinity.

Super X-Ray Girl
Similar to MRI Man, her power has some disadvantages.  She sees through everything. She is effectively blinded by her super power.

Rube Goldberg Woman
She is similar to Batman in that her super power is really the ability to come up with any gadget necessary to combat any crime.
(No, I don't know what crime this gadget is fighting either.)

The main problem with this super power is that Rube Goldberg Woman always needs to ask the Evil Doer to wait while she goes to the hardware store to purchase the necessary components.  And sloths can be difficult to come by.

Perfect ComeBack Boy
Perfect ComeBack Boy always has the perfect response to every insult, barb or slight. His cutting wit can reduce any foe to a blubbering mass of chastened remorse. Crowds gather in anticipation of hearing him put any miscreant into his place.  Similar to Rube Goldberg Woman, his response usually comes 24 hours after it would have done any good.

He has the ability to turn back time, rendering any misdeeds undone!  There are two problems...1.) He can't alter the future, so the misdeeds just keep happening over and over again when their time comes, and 2.) He gets no credit.  When he undoes the misdeed, nobody is aware that anything bad ever happened or that he had anything to do with making it unhappen.
The OsmosiScientist
The OsmosiScientist absorbs any substance with which he comes in contact. Nobody wants to get too close to him.

The Human Slug
Ewwwww.  Just Ewwwww!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Issues With My Lack of a Thanksgiving Message?

This bunny seems to have issues with my lack of a highly meaningful Thanksgiving message.

Sorry. I got nothin!

But we did eat just the right amount of really good stuff today. And the bunny should be pleased that we didn't eat any mammals at all.

OK, there was a sandwich earlier in the day, but it was only a little sandwich.  It might have only been the product of an amputation.  I bet that pig is healthy and strong and getting around just fine with the aid of modern prosthetics!

Cheer up Bunny!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dirty Old Town...Another Country Heard From.

Eric posted a video of The Pogues performing Dirty Old Town today.  Well...I see your Pogues and raise you a David Byrne!

OK! It's a totally different song (from Byrne's most excellent album Rei Momo), so it's apples and oranges...but hey, I thought I was about to hear The Pogues doing this one when I clicked "play".  So all's fair.

Incidentally, Byrne's done the other one too.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Dice!

I considered flying somewhere for the Thanksgiving holiday, but then I heard about the new TSA security procedures...that whole full body scan or "aggressive" pat-down.  Some choice, huh?

Well I figured if I can't stand naked in the middle of an airport and get felt up at the same time, why bother?

Checking The Gate!

There are any number of terms we use in film that have their origins firmly placed in bygone systems and obsolete technology. Like other bits of jargon, they're terms that are useful and will continue to be used.  You use that "cc" notation on emails every day, don't you?  But how many 20-year-olds have ever had the pleasure of trying to jam eight sheets of onion skin separated by sheets of carbon paper into a typewriter.  How many of them know that "cc" stands for carbon copy?

Every once in a while, one of these terms will stop me cold and have me scratching my head.  One of those terms is "Checking the Gate".

With cameras that use film, there's an actual "gate" that the film passes through as it's briefly exposed when the shutter flashes open.  Whenever we finish shooting a setup (one camera angle within a scene), the A.D. announces that we're "Checking the Gate".  This serves two purposes.  First, it's an instruction to the Assistant Cameraman to do just that -- to check the gate for hairs or dust or scraps of film that would indicate that the film might have been scratched or torn as it passed through the gate.  It's something that happens.  And it's much more economical from every standpoint to just shoot another take before moving to the next setup than it is to wait; see the scratched dailies; and then return to the location with the same actors and shoot the setup all over again. It also announces to the rest of the crew that you're about to be "moving on"; that they should prepare to get the next setup ready.

And now, even with digital media, the A.D. still announces that we're "checking the gate"...even though there isn't one.  I realize that it still serves the purpose of alerting the crew that we'll be moving on to the next setup, but, otherwise...just what the hell are we checking?  I suppose somebody needs to make sure they actually pressed "record" before the take.

"Best Boy" is used to refer to the 2nd person in the Electric or Grip Departments.  It has it's origins in the early studio days before unions made floating between departments unheard of. If the Gaffer needed an extra pair of hands to help for a while, he would ask the Key Grip if he could borrow his "best boy".  Similarly, "Craft Service" was a jack of all trades (and it's still a union position in L.A.).  Originally, this was someone who might sit on the electric truck helping to fix extension cords.  Or he might help the sound department if a scene called for two boom operators.  Or he'd help the grips hauling lumber.  And, since he wasn't always needed to fill some technical need, a big part of his job "servicing the crafts" consisted of running for coffee.  Over time, getting the coffee (and water and snacks and sodas) became his raison d'etre.  I'm told that in L.A., it's not unheard of to see Craft Service actually chipping in with one of the departments (which is allowable there, since it's still a union position), but you'll never see Craft Service pulling cable in New York.

I've mentioned before that the term for shooting a scene that doesn't need any recorded sound is "MOS".  That one is said to trace it's origin to a recently immigrated Austrian or German director telling the crew "Ve'll shoot dis one Mit Out Sound".  That may not be true, but I prefer it to the alternate explanations.

Everyone refers to the last shot of the day as the in, we get this last one and it'll be martini time!  The second to last shot of the day is universally referred to as The Abby Singer, or just The Abby.  This one is named for the legendary eponymous Producer, Production Manager, Assistant Director who first started communicating to crews that "we have this and one more shot" to get.  A week or so ago, when our A.D. announced The Abby for that day, I found myself wondering how many people on the set knew that it was actually named for a living breathing person.  And I found myself remembering being a lowly P.A. (not that all P.A.s are lowly by definition -- just that I was about as far down the food chain as possible), on a two-day shoot when St. Elsewhere came to shoot on location in Boston.  It's a little surreal to recall the A.D. calling The Abby on one of those days...while the guy it refers to was sitting 20 feet away.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adventures in Turkey.

Not this one...
 This one...
I went to buy a turkey today.  GF and I are cooking just for ourselves this year, so we don't want anything too massive.  I figured a 12lb. bird was about right for Thanksgiving and leftovers we'd actually get through before they went to waste.

I decided this year I wanted to get a "natural" bird.  I'm using the term natural on purpose here. On the one hand, I don't give a crap about "free range" or "organic"---sorry, it's just not that important to me.  On the other hand, I've decided that most factory farmed birds don't taste all that great.  That, and they're all bred to have massive breasts and teeny-tiny little mutant legs.  I happen to like legs and thighs and wings.  And as little as I care about "free-range", I do prefer to know my dinner was capable of standing up during its lifetime.

See this guy?
If he'd had some regular arms instead of those little thalidomide thingies, he'd have tasted better.  And if he'd tasted better, somebody would have cared enough to see that he survived the ice age.  

I rest my case.

So, anyway...I stopped off at one of the two newer markets in my neighborhood.  They've got a butcher who gets real sides of beef and actually butches the meat. (I know that may be the wrong word, but it worked fine in my head.)  They didn't seem to have any turkeys, though. I would have asked, but, frankly, the place was full people who would have been wearing Birkenstocks if it was a little warmer and they were giving me the heebie-jeebies, so I skedaddled.

Then, I went to the other new market.  This one is kind of a hike and I've never been there before.  In a back corner of the store, I found four turkeys.  All were the same brand.  Two of them said they were Organic and two said they were Free Range.  The descriptions of their virtues were identical. Both mentioned in large print that they had no hormones and both mentioned in tiny print that the federal government prohibits the use of hormones in turkeys.  Neither bothered to mention that they were free of glass shards.

I stood there trying to figure out what the difference was.  I called GF.  She asked me what the price per pound was.  Now, honestly, I could look at the price per pound, but since I buy turkey so rarely, it wasn't going to mean that much to me.  I skipped right to the total price. Sixty-Seven friggin dollars for a 13 pound turkey.  Price per pound, I may not know, but even I recognize that SIXTY-SEVEN dollars for a 13 pound turkey is an awful lot.

It's not like it was Kobe Turkey or something...fed on a strict diet of orchids, saffron rice and candy corn. With daily beer massages.  And a math tutor.  Sorry, I just can't imagine the 13 pound turkey I'd pay Sixty-Seven dollars for!

I ended up going to the Associated and buying a Butterball.  For $26.00.  I have no idea what its walking capabilities used to be, but wrapped up in that plastic, it ain't going anywhere anytime soon.

Maybe I'll get a live one and raise it in the backyard for next year.  I'm not sure I'd have the heart to kill it, but it'd be fun watching the cats freak out about it.  I might even feed it candy corn.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Promised Final Report. Plus Some Pictures. And Reader Question(s?) And Answer(s?)

Last night, I said I'd be doing a final report on my my most recently completed celluloid escapade. 

And I've got some pictures for you.  I was going to add an adjective before the word "pictures", but that might be presumptuous of me.

And at the end of the post, I'll be answering question(s).  So far, there's only one, so I'm including that parenthetical plural!  I do try to be accurate.  You guys can even ask some more and make the plural true!
Our last day of filming on location, at least the last full day on location, took place at what's actually a parking area for overflow parking from a Buddhist Monastery overlooking Woodstock. We went there for a few really good reasons.  1. The woods were sparse enough to stage a scene going through them and actually be able to see the characters in the scene.  You'd be surprised how many types of "woods" you can run across when searching for "Ext. Woods".  Lots of them are really dense and lots of them have way too much undergrowth.  2. There was a really lovely pond there and we intended to do a shot across it of our lead character walking alone and reflected in the water. (That shot got dumped when the fog grew too dense to see more than three yards across the water.)  3. There was actually enough room to park the trucks and the crew at the location.  This may seem an obvious consideration to most of you, but you'd be surprised how many place the "powers-that-be" wanted to shoot that had nowhere to park the trucks in the same zip code.  Oddly enough, the Camera Department wasn't eager to hump their gear a mile or more to some locations and the Electricians pointed out that they'd need a two-day pre-rig and another couple of trucks full of cable to be able to reach the generator.

Here's a shot of us parked there.  It's early in the day and the fog (read dense cloudbank) hadn't had a chance to really get its act together.
There was another picture that included actual equipment trucks (making it more appropriate to a post about filming), but I deleted it by accident.  Oh well.  The fire truck is there and you'll see why shortly.  Also, I'll mention that the Honeywagon and the Makeup/Hair/Wardrobe Combie Truck still ended up 2.1 miles from set.  There would have been plenty of room for them nearby, but the two of them always need to park together (dressing rooms go with wardrobe -- d'uh), and one of them didn't have the requisite Ooomph to make the trip up the mountain.  File this under "lessons learned":  When planning a shoot in the mountains, don't rent trucks that have anemic automatic transmissions and are really designed for city driving.

The reason we had the fire truck on set was that the day's scene was the opening of the movie, in which our heroine is having a nightmare about a witch burning in 1668.  You'll note that the wood for the pyre is actually a little distant from the actress so that we don't actually end up burning the poor woman.  Viewed from the front, with a narrow depth of field, it looked like the flames really were licking at her ankles.  And in a bow to the actress's tender sensibilities, our First Assistant Director instructed everyone to refer to her as "the falsely accused witch".  This inspired me to suggest that we refer to one of our crew members as a "falsely accused   fill in job title here   ".  (He wasn't very good at his job, but there's no need to out him here.)

Here, you see the upright townspeople dragging their neighbor to the stake.  It's much foggier in these shots than it actually was at the moment.  Since you can't count on the real thing, we were surrounded by fog machines to make things just right.

And here are some shots of that magic moment when the townspeople save the poor woman's soul from perdition. 
 I'll put this woman's screen scream up against any in the business!

As the day wore on, the fog grew denser and denser.  The top of the mountain, where we were shooting, was firmly planted in the middle of a cloud.  At the end of the day, you had to drive down the first quarter-mile at a crawl and then, suddenly, you were in clear air.  It's not often you need truck drivers to be instrument rated.

Here are a couple of shots from before it got too dense to see your own feet.  Nothing particularly relevant about them...I just like them.

And here are a few more random shots of things that have nothing to do with anything...I just liked them too!

This is one of the cutest churches I think I've ever seen. It's not quite as grand as St. Patrick's Cathedral, but it's got a certain charm!

Here's a rocket ship by the side of Route 28 in Boiceville.

And here are some shots of the gate to a place that doesn't seem to exist anymore.

Speaking of stone gates, here's a shot of one our Construction and Scenic Departments created for one of our locations.  I'm constantly impressed with what they manage to do with plywood, styrofoam and paint!

Two more things to leave you with before I start answering the voluminous queries that have come in so far...

First, it would appear that the diner next to the hotel where I was living got a deal on some placemats from 1956.  Not only might it inspire customers to try a drink that may have waned in popularity, the bartender could use it to learn how to make a Gin Rickey!  All around WIN.

Second, I noticed that the sidebar on my blog has developed quite the potty mouth!  This, too, shall pass.
And now, on to the question(s?) and answer(s?):

Megan asks:

We get to ask any questions we want? Yes, you most certainly do!

Okay, here's mine:

When you watch those "behind the scenes" extras on DVDs or late-night TV specials, do they generally ring true, or are they bullshit?
They ring true with me, but I'll admit that I'm as gullible as anyone else when it comes to movies and stuff about movies.  When I was in film school (at Emerson Daycare Center), I found myself analyzing every bit of film I watched to figure out how they did it or why they did it or if I thought I could do it better.  This made for a "not fun" viewing experience.  Over time, I was able to revert to just being some schmuck watching a movie.  I only notice technique if it's spectacularly good or spectacularly bad. (The uninterrupted steadicam shot that follows Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco to their Copacabana table in Goodfellas is ridiculously impressive.) When a filmmaker wants to make me cry, odds are I'll sob like a little girl, right on cue.  And I know why the music is swelling.  I know why the camera is lingering on that extreme closeup.  I'm a sap...sue me.

As to the "behind the scenes" stuff, I suppose I choose to buy into it.  Granted, I'm sure the lead actor giving an interview isn't spilling the dirt about what an asshole the director was during the production. And I doubt the Wardrobe Supervisor will go into detail about the macho action hero who refuses to work without wearing his favorite silk bra and panties under the costume. On the other hand, I doubt there's all that much actual lying going on either...except maybe lies of omission. 

I've never rented the DVD for Roger Dodger, but I sat down for interviews for the DVD extras on that one. If I recall, the main area of interest we talked about was that this was one of the first films issued a new permit by the City of New York after a two-week shutdown caused by 9/11.  During one day of shooting exteriors on Park Avenue, there was a fairly massive scaffolding collapse in the courtyard of a building across the street from where our trucks were parked.  The building was about 14 stories tall and they had been doing stonework on the facade facing the courtyard, so it was a lot of scaffolding.  It sounded like an explosion and, while I'm sure there would still be a massive Police and Fire Department response if it happened today, the response that day was certainly enhanced by post 9/11 jitters. (This happened in November, if I recall.)  Fire Trucks and Police Emergency Services Units flooded the streets for about 5 square blocks and, naturally, we were shut down.  The collapse also managed to tear out a bunch of electric lines in the building, so we ended up lending lighting to the rescue units and running in cable from our generator so they'd have power. (It took almost a month to track down all of the lights that left with the various fire trucks later that day.)

If any of you ever rent the movie (and it's one of the ones I'm actually proud of), let me know if I made the cut...and whether or not I come off looking like a twit!

Now, I'll just stand by and wait for more questions to flood in.  Maybe I should warn Blogger that their servers might not be able to handle the traffic!
Vince asks: (actually, he asks a little more than what I'm gonna answer, but I'm ignoring part of it!)
I notice on IMDB you appear under "Other crew" above the office production assistant but below the teamster captain.

SO, a) does this reflect your actual standing?
No.  IMDB uses that catchall "Other Crew" thing for a lot of job categories and then just lists them alphabetically by last name. As you might guess, I'm just thrilled to be relegated to "Other Crew" with the guy who gets a special thanks for the really fresh bagels.  b) what's a teamster captain (yeah, yeah I could look it up, but you're the one who asked for questions) The Teamster Captain is the guy in charge of all transportation.  The truck drivers, van drivers and people driving cast around in cars all take their orders from the him.  Any type of special equipment that is self propelled is ordered by him. Generally, if it has wheels and a motor, it's in his jurisdiction. (I would have been less gender specific, but I'd have to think hard to recall a female Teamster on a movie I worked on and I'm certain I've never worked with a female Captain.  and c) does your name normally appear in the ending credits on movies you work on? I never actually read them (especially in the theater) so I'm curious. And if it does, is that under the company contract with you, or the union contract, or the whim of the movie jinn? I've been credited on most every movie I've ever worked on, including when I was a Production Assistant.  For some categories, getting a credit is at the Producers' discretion.  As a DGA member, I'm contractually entitled.  As to where my credit appears in that massive list, that's a bit more capricious. I've had my name show up really large and almost alone at the head of the list and I've seen my name whiz by somewhere in a crowd populated by the guy who plowed snow for us and and one of the Director's childhood friends he wanted to mention.
Janiece asks... 
How's the Zombie Pancreas? It's been behaving quite nicely of late.  Flareups have been fairly rare, and of short duration.  Are you still drinking your coffee from a sippy cup? The ignoble photograph to which Janiece refers you is from when I met up with her and John The Scientist for dinner in Danbury, CT.  Two things to note here:  1.) Danbury was chosen since it was equally inconvenient to all of us...roughly 90 miles from where each of us started.  and 2.) That sippy cup was the only thing the restaurant could offer when I asked for a coffee to go at the end of dinner.  Did they bury the neighbor on hallowed ground? Try as I might, (and I'm sure I'll catch shit for it), I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.  I'll leave it to your discretion to decide whether to remind me publicly here on the blog or to send me an email.

Eric doesn't so much ask a question as let fly with a string of F*Bombs.  You can read it in the comments, but suffice it to say; he found my sidebar inspirational.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back In Brooklyn!

So the latest cinematic adventure has come to an end and I'm home.  I'll post something about it tomorrow with some final pictures as well.  In the meantime, if anybody has any questions, the information desk is now open. 

And questions will help me flesh out tomorrow's post. You like to help, don't you?

Also, since I'm a generous guy, here's a picture of a goat to tide you over until I get something else written.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ned Was Destined To, Once Again, Experience The Bitter Disappointment Of Failure.

Note:  This post would be a lot better if I had only stopped the car, gotten out, and taken a few pictures.  On the other hand, I have the utmost faith in all of your imaginations.

Or, for those of you less creatively inclined, here's a picture I totally stole from the Internet.  It's only tangentially relevant, but then again, so are most of my posts.


Earlier today, I was driving into Woodstock along Rt. 212 -- a drive I've made way too many times lately, and I noticed something I'd totally missed on all of my previous trips back and forth. And to be fair, I'd estimate that 85% of those trips have been before sunrise or after sunset.

At any rate, as you come around a bend in the road shortly before getting to Woodstock, you pass a particular farm with a slightly odd menagerie.  This farm is not Noah's Ark recreated.  Ya'see...there's ONE of a lot of things.  One cow.  One horse.  One goat.  One Llama (yes...a llama..I know what they look like from the 1967 version of Dr. Doolittle -- but this one had a head at only one end). There were a few other things in their solitary one-ness, but I was doing 60 at the time (in a 45mph zone, thank you very much), and failed to properly catalog all of them. 

There were also ducks (in multiples), but I imagine they're free to come and go and the farmer has no power over them.

The thing that immediately sprang to my warped little mind is that the farmer -- whose name, I'm sure, is Ned -- had purchased the finest breeding stock that money could buy, but was lacking in some basics of animal husbandry.  Or possibly, he was making an attempt at some bizarre hybrids -- with a similar lack of background in his chosen subject.

On another topic, I've got two more shoot days, then a few days of wrap, and then HOME!


Sunday, November 14, 2010


I don't know what time it'll be when I get around to hitting the "Publish" button on this post, but it's 5:47 a.m. as I start writing it.

It's pretty dark.

We shot some driving shots and a stunt overnight on a really dark country road near Woodstock last night.  I mentioned that I've been working days while the rest of my department works the shooting crew's hours.  So I was with the rigging crew for much of the day yesterday getting this location set up for the night shoot.  We had a couple of big lifts for lighting and three generators spread out along the road for those units and for the rest of the lighting all over the place.

I went back to the hotel around 9 last night and I came back at 5:15 to wrap the location.  My guys were the last to leave about ten minutes ago.  And now I'm waiting.

I'm waiting for the sun to come up in a 1/2 hour or 45 minutes.  Or when it gets around to it.  I'm waiting for the rigging crew to get here at 8:00 a.m. to wrap the buttload of equipment that's spread out over 1/2 a mile of road.  I suppose I'm also waiting for daylight to show me how much other crap is neatly distributed randomly strewn about the landscape. While I'm waiting, I'm sitting in my car with the flashers on so nobody inadvertently drives into the 135' lift that doesn't really fit off the side of the road. It's just sitting here being big and in the way.  I think the company that owns it is coming to pick it up around ten.  The big-ass generator we rented to power the 100k sunlight is another story.  Yup, I said ONE-HUNDRED THOUSAND watts.  When it gets light enough, I'll take a picture of it for you.

And now, thanks to the miracle of time-travel, I'm including those pictures I promised you almost 45 minutes ago when I typed the words you just finished reading.

And now...back to the present...or the past...or whatever.

Anyway, to power that monster, you need a dedicated 480 volt generator. And that's big too.  The trailer it's built on has three axles and the weight of it makes all six tires look like half-squished doughnuts.  When it has all six tires on it.  See...yesterday, when they went to move to this location from the previous night's location, it made it about 30 yards before the lug nuts sheared off of one wheel and the wheel went merrily rolling off into a field.  The generator settled at a jaunty angle on its remaining five wheels and made it clear that it did not wish to make its scheduled 12 mile journey.

So, our Teamster Captain magicked up a flatbed tractor-trailer to get it here.  And here it sits. And here, it will continue to sit until sometime Monday morning when the company that owns it can get their own big-ass flatbed trailer here to move their big-ass six five-wheel generator back to Connecticut.

It occurs to me that this post may be somewhat lacking in coherence.  But I'm tired.  And I'm bored...did I mention I'm pretty much serving the purpose of a lighted traffic-cone at the moment?  But since I'm bored and I have nothing else to do for the next hour or so, I figured I'd talk to you guys.  And, frankly, I'm kinda marveling at the fact that I can sit here in my car typing messages and take pictures with my phone and then...sitting in the middle of nowhere, I can post it all onto the InterWeb!  Living in the future is pretty cool.

Now, if I could only get the replicator in my car to spit out another cup of coffee I'd be perfectly content.

Update 5:30 p.m.:  I've just looked this over and it's entirely possible I was a wee bit delirious 12 hours ago.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

OK...I'm still up, so I might as well tell you something.

We're shooting "splits" this week and we'll be in nights by the end of the week.  "Splits" are when you start the day shooting a daylight scene and then you work until sometime in the night to shoot night scenes.

Splits suck.  Splits suck only marginally less than nights.

The issue for me personally is that I'm still stuck dealing with people in the real world who don't go to work at noon and stay there 'til midnight.  My solution is that I try to keep on a day schedule and have my Asst. Location Manager work the crew's hours.  That's the theory anyway.

I went to work at 7:30 this morning to get the company in at today's location.  Then I ran around all day working on prepping the rest of the week's locations.  I got back to set around 6:30 p.m.  I intended to leave set by 8ish and start my day tomorrow at around 8:00. It's now 12:48 A.M. and I've been on the phone to set multiple times since getting back to the hotel.  I'll admit that I'm a lot more comfortable sitting here with my feet up in a warm room than I would be sitting in a tent with a heater doing it's feeble best to win the war with the ambient 36º air.  I'll also admit that, since I'm here already, I don't have a 45 minute drive from set still facing me.

But I'm not sleeping.  And I'm not mentally checked out for the evening.  What I am doing is getting progressively less and less time off between the finish of today's workday and the start of tomorrow's workday.

They wrapped a little later than planned, so they've "pushed" tomorrow's call time by 1/2-hour.  So...instead of having a 2:30 P.M. call tomorrow, they'll have a 3:00 P.M. call.  Big Whoop.  I'm sitting here waiting for a call back to let me know that the "evening's" last issue has, in fact, been resolved.  And regardless of what time the crew call is tomorrow...and regardless of how long I end up waiting for the phone call telling me that last "issue" has been resolved...I'll still be getting up at 6:30 so I can make it to beautiful downtown Esopus, NY by 8:30 A.M.

I shall now bring to a close, this evening's unsolicited whining jag.  And I'll continue hoping the phone will finally ring.

Ain't the Film Biz glamorous?

Update 1:08 A.M.:  I just saw the first crew van arrive back at the hotel from location.  This means I started work 2 hours before most of the crew, left set 3 hours before they did, and I'm still not done working while they're done for the day.  And I get to start 7-1/2 hours before they will tomorrow.

Guess I still had a little whining left in me after all.

Random Book Quote:

I don't have the time or the inclination to come up with anything original to tell you about so I'll just give you a quote from an early chapter in Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue.

"Adeline recovered and stomped into the store, praying Jesus to forgive Pokey for his sins, but adding to her prayer a request for Jesus to beat the shit out of Pokey if He had the time."
I only managed to read one short chapter, but that's a good line to retire on for the night!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If Disney Ever Builds A Haunted Tavern Ride, It's Gonna Look Just LIke This!

You may want to embiggen it for the full effect.

Happy Sunday.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Greatest Rock & Roll Lyrics Of All Time --- Or, Today's Pointless Exercise.

"I went down to the demonstration,
to get my fair share of abuse."
I don't really know why, but I've heard that lyric a million times and every time, I think, "Damn, I wish I'd come up with that."  Today's exercise is for you to post some of what you think are the Greatest Rock & Roll lyrics of all time.  Nothing long -- just a snippet.  Don't credit the author or singer or name the song -- that'll take the fun away from all the know-it-alls who want to prove they know everything.

Also, no posting anything about Lucy and this guy with diamonds -- that's another game altogether.  And while you won't really lose any points for obscurity, I have to say that Greatest status sorta means other people should have heard the lyric at some time in some place.

So, go ahead.  Spout your favoritest lyric you've ever heard on the radio...or on your own CD or MP3 player...or in a bar...or in your head.  Oh, hell...rules suck.  If you've ever bellowed a lyric in the shower to yourself, it qualifies.  But the rest of us retain the right to be merciless in our disdain for your opinions.

Have at it.