Monday, December 28, 2009

I am Bear Claw Chris Lapp; bloodkin to the grizzer that bit Jim Britcher's ass! YOU are molesting my hunt!

Happy little house in the hood. We're back and doing laundry, birds in the fridge awaiting some gutting. It's a bit of a let down, really, as we tried to kill some quail and rabbits but they didn't show up to the party. C'est la vie. I'll go again on Wednesday perhaps, or next year. Duck and quail aren't over until the end of January but I do have to get some work done. Work. What a crock of shit. I'm going to work on an Old Navy commercial. Yeah, Gap-lite as it were or rather, cheap clothes made by underpaid labor in various third world countries. Ho-fucking-ray for global capitalism and most of the mullets around here think it's OK because they can get cheap clothes. Cheap clothes that are killing their future and creating an unsustainable imbalance in the world economy and environment!

OK, OK, everyone calm down. Put the soap box away and have a beer. Ah, that's better, right? Now, let's all watch the Vikings game and maybe eat a few hot dogs, eh? Much better. Have some more soma.

Peace out, bitches!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just get us up river!

Wister Unit, a part of the Imperial Wildlife Refuge located along the Salton Sea, is so much more amazing than San Jacinto. It's a revelation. Amazing. Eye opening. I've never seen so many birds in one place at one time. A flock of geese numbering in the thousands turned the sky salt and pepper. Birds went streaking by left and right all morning and into the evening. Melah took a couple of pot shots and the midget fidgeted and complained but blew a really good duck whistle. She'll be quite the hunter if she ever learns to calm down. (As I write she is doing splits in the hotel room, high as hell on sugar.) The best part of the day was shooting my first goose. I can't even describe how amazing it was to see it, take three long shots, and watch it fall. I had to walk about a hundred yards through a swamp to find the bugger but there was no way I was going to let him go.

A little cheeseburger action and now we're watching TV and getting ready to quail hunt tomorrow. It ain't Mexican food and beers with the boys but it's pretty close.
The happy couple and a mangy mutt. Notice the green wing teal around my neck, I'm quite proud of killing them dead.

This is going to be the cover of the new Vogue Wilderness edition. It's called Duck chic with dekes.
After lunch in the ol' duck blind.

My first snow goose and some random black kid.

Peace out, bitches!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I slowly began to realize that I was not going to be destroyed.

Here are some things that happened recently:

On Wednesday I got up early and went duck hunting. It was a hard hunt as the weather was cold, the water was freezing, and the wind was still. This all meant that the ducks weren't flying. At all. At daybreak two ducks flew well overhead but that was it on the day. Oddly enough, though, I ended up shooting four birds but I worked my ass off for those birds. I kicked the tulies and almost went underwater a few times but dammit, I got my birds. I shot a pintail from the embankment and he spun in, no parachutes. By the time I got across the water to the reeds he had landed in I found out that he was only wounded. I had crossed over without Thumper, thinking that were I to go into the drink I didn't want him getting ruined. Stupid decision as the pintail took off right next to me and the rock I threw at him missed. It was a hard and sweaty day of hunting but I loved every minute of it.

I served the ducks to the sibs. Breasted out and lightly fried in olive oil and spices and served hot with a homemade chimchurri sauce. Seemed to go over well.

Christmas Eve and I'm lying on the couch with my dog asleep on my feet. Melah came over and laid down on top of me and we watched the rest of "It's A Wonderful Life." As the townspeople come in with money to bail George out of his mess I started crying, openly weeping with my girl on my chest. It was bizarre, I just couldn't take the happiness and started bawling. What a world, what a world. In touch with my feelings and crying over a movie I've seen a million times. I'm happy again and watching old George Bailey realize he's rich in friends made me appreciate what I have. Cue the waterworks.

Yesterday I made tomato bisque with wontons. It was good. You should have been there. Melah's mom made a really good lamb shank and I made scalloped potatoes with bleu cheese and Melah made perfectly cooked asparagus. Add in a cheese course and a few bottles of nice wine and we had quite the Christmas feast.

We're up now and at some point we'll clean the house and pack up for a couple days of duck hunting and quail on Monday. Melah now has her waders and the midget has some nice Wellies and a warm coat. I got gloves finally. Should be fun although I wish we were camping and not in a hotel but that's for another trip.

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!

I've come to the realization that no matter what you do you'll get sucked into the vortex of consumption and inanity that is Christmas in America. Whinny, spoiled, self-centered kids whirling around whinny, spoiled, self-centered adults, all creating a feed ball for the greedheads to decimate down to the last whimpering bank account. Add in traffic, noise, and that goddamn Coke ad agency fat bastard Santa Claus everywhere you look and it's no wonder the Grinch went mad. Too bad he backed out in the end. I guess everyone does. I did. I went out and spent about $500 on gifts for the girls. Sure, it's all stuff that'll be around for awhile and will help them go hunting but still... It's annoying that even a guy who not only doesn't believe in God in the organized religion sense but also passionately loathes Christmas got sucked in anyway.

That said, I do like the smell of the tree and the lights but I suppose that's because I'd rather be out in the woods or the desert most days and I'm a cinematographer. Lights and trees, if only that were the extent of it all. To everyone who thinks Christmas is a load of bullshit, this drinks for you. To all the rest, I'll be calling you for Eid presents.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, December 21, 2009

My God, I haven't been fucked like that since grade school.

One of the most dangerous things you can do in Hollywood is driving coverage. Putting a camera in a car and trying to shoot another car on the streets of Los Angeles is, on its face, asinine. Think about it for a minute: the director is going to push for crazier and crazier action, the DP is going to push for crazier and crazier angles, and the drivers are going to push for crazier and crazier speeds. All of this pushing is happening on actual streets in a crowded metropolis and absolutely no one is really conscious of the fact that we're not on a controlled backlot.

We took it a step further and got a rig called The Ultimate Arm. It's a souped up Mercede Benz SUV with a liquid mercury balanced articulated arm mounted to the roof. Inside there are controls to swing the arm around and control the three axis head attached to the end of the arm. I got to sit in the back, sideways and wedged between the batteries that power the arm, and pull focus with my little remote focus unit. It's cramped, everyone is constantly farting, and I'm pretty sure I was breathing pure exhaust the whole time. The whole thing is, from an engineering standpoint, pretty fucking amazing. It's also a complete ass fuck when you're in a rush as we were from the beginning of this job. See, the problem is that you can do too much too quickly with the thing and thus no one slows down long enough to do anything right. We almost hit a pizza delivery kid we were rushing around so much. We also almost rear ended one of the picture cars, almost hit a divider, almost ran head on into both picture cars at once, almost rolled over, and almost ran into a bus. I bruised my head, chin, and almost broke my hand. Rushing around and yelling a lot while trying to outrace the sun in downtown LA is no way to make a living.

In the end we got the shots we needed but it left me wondering, why in the hell do I put up with any of this shit? I really need to find another career. Maybe basket weaving.

Peace out, bitches!

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Do you know who's in charge, soldier?" "Yeah."

I came back from the light and space of Panama into a cramped room in the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood and it really put the zap on my head. To go from raw power and beauty and chaos to the tight and uptight confines of a commercial with Halle Berry was to experience true jet lag. By the by, Ms. Berry is a jackass ("I'm very sensitive to spirits.") and has a really bad tattoo on her right ass cheek of a sunflower, the stalk looks as if the flower is growing out of her asshole.

I've spent the last week doing night shoots for an Audi commercial posing as a movie. Justin Timberlake is the star. The schedule is insane: twenty set ups before lunch. No time for marks, no time for rehearsals, no time to light. Shoot shoot shootshootshoothsootshothsooahoshoot. Hacking it out like butchers but the money guys don't seem to care. Timberlake is funny and nice enough but dammit that boy don't know when to shut the fuck up about continuity. We talked about guns all night and it would appear I'm not only a better shot but far more knowledgeable about the whole deal. Take that Mr. Bring Sexy Back. At least he's not as short as I assumed he'd be.

The night shoot is a particularly brutal bit of Hollywood film making. You lose touch with friends and family and your dog forgets about you. The house stops feeling like yours and you greet the sunrise with joy and regret: joy as it means night is done and unless the tent in a five story wherehouse we're going home and regret as you realize everyone else is up and you're about to go down. Done long enough you can go mad or get divorced or realize that your kids are in college all of a sudden. I hate night shoots.

We're trying to shoot a movie in one week and the producer underbid the job. We don't have enough time or crew to get this done right. Nerves are frayed. People are yelling a lot. An extra had a seizure. An actor cut his head open. The B 1st got his foot run over by the dolly. I am doing my best to keep my head low and my powder dry. I will not get killed on a job. I will not get hurt as bad as Sweden on a job ever again. In short, I am going to get through this and call it a wrap on the year.

Call time is 5pm. Time to brush the dog out and get a goin'. I'm going to sleep at lunch and then go duck hunting at wrap, which should be 5am or so on Saturday. I'll miss the early morning shoot but maybe I'll get on a blind in the early afternoon. Nice. Work all night, drive like a banshee out to San Jacinto, and crash out in the car for a few hours before tossing out the dekes and blowing some calls. Not a bad Fraturday.

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blast all to carcasses, men! Forward clear to the powder magazine! And the rest of you, bring me that medallion!

Words will fail to express the depth and breadth of the torture and joy that was working in the San Blas Islands of Panama. Roy Batty's famous lines come to mind, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe." In the end we did it, we humble men, we made the impossible happen despite the odds. There was some blood, actually, there was a lot of blood. There was a lot of sweat. There was more sweat than anything else really. There were even some tears but we're not supposed to speak of that.

Suffice it to say, it was tough.

Now look at some pretty photos.

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wrong! It's the most amazing, fabulous, sensational gum in the whole world.

The food here sucks. I ate it all, that's how bad it were.
Peace out, bitches!

For every action, there is a reaction. And a Pikey reaction... is quite a fucking thing.

I'm in Panama. It is hot. It is humid. It is 8am. We are going to prep gear today and shoot a scene on a beach. Following that we fly for an hour to the Caribbean side of the country and live on a yacht for a few days. What the fuck? Don't ask me, it ain't my money. Apparently we're hanging out with models and race car drivers and Izod has all the money in the world to spend on this shit. Go for broke. Coming from a Third World country like the post-Bush USA I was under the assumption the world was suffering from some sort of serious financial meltdown, Great Depression Part II. Apparently I was mistaken.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, November 30, 2009

And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.

The other day I went to work instead of going duck hunting. I made several hundred dollars for standing around for a few hours and then packing gear for a job in Panama. I left early and tried to drive out to do a little duck hunting in the afternoon. Simple really, just drive 80 miles and get in for an afternoon shoot. I failed miserably. For some reason it didn't occur to me that there would be holiday traffic on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It took me two and a half hours to get to the ranger station and I missed the deadline to get on a pond by 10 measly minutes. I was crushed. I ended up looking for rabbits in the Upland Game area of the refuge but really I just took a two hour walk to the top of the foothills and through the brush. It was nice but...

There are too many people here in Southern California. Too many people doing too many stupid things and getting in my way. More and more I find that I want to leave my beloved California for some place less cluttered. There are acres and acres of ugly cookie cutter houses covering the deserts. There are so many damn miles of pointless roads in pointless subdivisions and the system cannot maintain itself. This is a desert but people are treating it like we can support billions. There's no water here. There's no infrastucture to deal with all of these people. It's a mess. I dream of people leaving en masse and repopulating the rest of the country. Maybe the fact that the state is broke will make people leave. That would be nice.

Peace out, bitches!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The pathway to salvation is as narrow and as difficult to walk as a razor's edge.

Yesterday I awoke at 1am, petted my girlfriend and kissed my dog. The car was already loaded with decoys, blind bag, waders, heavy jacket, water, a thermos of mate, and Thumper. Time to drive through the cold, dark morning and into the fog that blanketed the Inland Empire.

One simple hour later a left turn led me up into a shallow valley and a dirt road at the end of which sat the ranger station. Several trucks and for once another Element, all of us waiting for the 5:45am shooting time. In the end, it's all a crap shoot even if you have a reservation for one of the fifty duck blinds. I end up with a semi-crappy draw and make my way out through the dark into Walker 1 blind. Not bad but definitely not good so I decide to leave the decoys in the truck. Sleep little decoys, sleep. After getting situated and as comfortable as you can get when it's thirty degrees out I hear ducks but as I've learned over time they will leave just before the sun comes up. Smart little ducks. There are widgeon, mallards, and shovelers out in the dark and they are talking and making plans. I am drinking mate and eating a Green Bar as I am a champion and this is what we eat for breakfast.

I hunt two different blinds and use the decoys. I shoot a Northern Shoveler in the morning and he goes down like a champ. Flaring to my right and doing what he can to make me miss but he goes down somewhere. I find him as I leave and scare a hawk away from his perfectly folded corpse. He's been split down the chest by the hawk but the meat is still intact. Damn fine duck. Later, after more mate and after I deploy the decoys, I shoot a hen Pintail. She pops up from the cover to my left and we look at each other in surprise for a moment. Thumper is leaning against the blind to my right and I have a book in my hand. The pintail has jumped out of her cover to land in my spread but she is now almost frozen in the air ten yards from the blind, the duck equivalent of a look of surprise on her face. Suddenly Thumper is in my hands and the duck is moving and I am shooting and the duck is falling and then it's quite again. Out into the pond past my decoys and I thank them as I wade out towards the Pintail. She is a fine looking duck, damn fine duck.

Sooner than I'd like it is quitting time. As I grab the last set of decoys a wave of Northern Shovelers flys low out of the setting sun and I freeze in both wonder and frustration, Thumper lying twenty yards away on the bank of the blind. I scramble back trailing decoys and throwing gloves to the side, desperately trying to get to cover and Thumper. As I get into the blind I start in on the calls and use every one I have hanging around my neck. Hails and feeding and contentment and teals and widgeon calls blare from the blind to no avail. I throw two rounds of steel into the air and watch the ducks give me the finger as they soar overhead. I smile. There will be more ducks next season and I will be here.

The next fifteen minutes look like a commercial for Ducks Unlimited. Wave after wave of ducks fill the sky and I sit back into the corner of the blind and pour myself some mate and enjoy the show. My depression melts away and I wonder what all the fuss was about.

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I want more life, fucker!

I have no desire to get out of bed today. I want to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling all day while listening to Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and "The Skies Gone Out" back to back on an endless loop. I am listless in a black sea of depression and the horizons look endless.

But I have to get up. I have to try to convince myself that something good will happen, if not today then soon enough for me to meet my many fiduciary responsibilities. There is also, as always, the matter of the midget in the front room who is my ward today as she has a "pupil free"day. There are also, as always, bills to be put in the mail although perhaps today I will mail the credit card bill to the gas company and vice versa just to stall them out.

What I'd like to do is to be able to say I shot some ducks yesterday but I'd be lying if I said that. I couldn't have hit the side of a barn if you'd placed the end of my gun barrel on the barn. My head wasn't in it even though Ghost and I stayed out all day, 3am to 5pm. We had some shots but... At least the sunrise and sunset were spectacular. I even replaced my leaking waders at lunch by convincing the Bass Pro staff the leak was a manufacturer defect. I think the fact that I was muddy, wearing camo face paint, and my left pant leg was soaked sold them on the idea. Or motivated them to get me the fuck out of there.

I want to go deer hunting this weekend. It's the last chance before the season ends. Is it irresponsible to go and spend three days and about $100 in gas pursuing a deer I probably won't even see when I'm broke and have no jobs on the horizon? This is part of why I'm so fucking depressed right now, that I have to even think about stuff like this. Ah, it's just as well, those deer were probably rotten anyway.

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends.

Legend? Doesn't feel like that'll ever happen. No work. Lots of bills. Depression started in right around my birthday this year. Ho hum. I don't mind getting older I just don't like where I'm at right now with myself. Thirty-eight and not too terribly successful and starting to feel the weight of it all, nahmean? I'm moping around and acting stupid, I guess, but I figure I might as well let it wash over me and not repress it all. That's what my therapist told me once a long time ago. It's been ten years now and you'd think I'd have a handle on this stupid business but every now and then... It'll work out. Or I'll have to figure out an entirely new career to start up at 38. Joy.

In more interesting news I just watched a surf video title The Drifter and it made my weepy. It stars one of my surf heros, Rob Machado. I met him after I got divorced and he got divorced and our mutual friend got divorced. He was in a ton of pain and I guess he started working on this movie a short time after I met him. The film is a recreation of his time in the Wilderness (In this case, Indonesia. In my case it was Atwater. I wish I were a pro surfer.) He was drowning in pain and came out of it by going solo in the Wilderness for a spell. I'm happy for him and the film is quirky and wonderfully shot and made me happy. Buy a copy and enjoy.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Being bad feels pretty good, huh?

On Saturday I awoke at 1am and made some tea and left my house. I drove out to the San Jacinto Wilderness Area and stood in line with a bunch of duck hunters for a few hours. I didn't get picked for a good blind so I took a nap in the car. As the sun rose over the hills "Appalachian Spring" came on the radio. The beauty of that composition, the glory of the morning sun, and the sounds of distant shotgun blasts made me so happy to be here, right now. As much as is wrong with this country and as bad as it's been during the craziness of the Bush junta I love this place. Where else can you hunt ducks and not have to be rich? Go deer hunting on millions of acres of publicly owned land? Hopefully there are real changes coming soon. Hope? Either way, I'm proud to be a mixed race, leftist American who hunts.

Peace out, bitches!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This is Sparta!

Scenes from my birthday hunt. One guy, one gun, one duck- my first freakin' mallard! I am now a duck hunter for real!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes and joy. I'll post some photos of tonight's idiocy at various joints 'round town.

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'll teach you to laugh at something that's funny!

Yesterday was watch old white assholes run Hollywood day and it fucking sucked. James L. Brooks of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets, Spanglish, The Simpsons, and a host of TV shows is directing some movie with Reese Witherspoon in it and we did glorified B-roll for the movie- a highlight reel of Reese's character's softball career. It should have been so simple but it wasn't as there was no plan, no support, and no money despite Brooks and a couple of heavy hitter producers hanging around the baseball diamond. What a bunch of wrinkled, bitter, loud mouthed jackasses. The DP was Janus Kaminski and until I met him yesterday he was one of my favorite DPs. In real life he's a fucking racist, neurotic, self-absorbed old bastard. My guys and I ran around  like complete lunatics trying to keep up with the capricious whims and bs of both Brooks and Kaminski. Both of them spent the day stressing out, talking shit, and yelling as if something important were going on. My God, so rich and successful and still so fucking petty and annoying. What gives? What does Brooks have to prove, what's he so worried about that he needs to run around acting like a spoiled child? So typical of Hollywood. Anyway, the old man babies all freaked out and we shot two days of inserts in one day and we're all still getting paid for today so hey, that's a W for the freakin' worker drones.

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You are fighting for the biggest nothing in history.

Republican governors win in two states. White "independents" are drifting back towards the Republican neocon fascists. Change? No, not really. It's the same thing day in and day out. Peace prize for bringing America back in line with European ideals of geopolitical cooperation and then what? More young people blown to pieces physically and mentally so that we don't loose face in Afghanistan. Afghanistan? Seriously? Who cares! They're land locked, medieval, and fully capable of fucking up their country on their own. Sigh. The backlash begins against the first black president but why bother? He's running the same plays the white president would have.

Work tomorrow on inserts for a movie. As the prep tech said of the job, Less than B-roll. What has become of my love? My love for film has gone the way of the dodo.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I love this place at night. The stars... there's no right or wrong in them. They're just there.

The house is clean. I'm listening to XM Pops and a lovely chamber piece is playing. The dog is quietly lying at my feet. The stillness in the house is wonderful.

Shhh. The universe is at rest right now inside my house and I'd like to keep it that way for a bit longer.

Peace out, bitches!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Proud of yourself, little man?

So, apparently there's no point to the Universe as the only ducks I saw were a million fucking miles in the sky. Out of range. Out of sight. So very windy that the trees were all bent sideways about ten feet up. Painful. On the plus side I had a little island all to my self, well, Ghost was there too. I did have to carry dekes and bag and gun 100 yards through the water. Then I went back for the dog. And vice versa on the way out. I'd do it again, of course, but just with some shootable ducks.

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are we Ducks or what?

The winds are blowing heavy and cold. They have been all day. All my gear is in the car. I can't wait! If there's a point to the universe ducks will be flying and dying.

Peace out, bitches!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Well, a gun that's unloaded and cocked ain't good for nothin'.

So it ends: raining and somewhat unsuccessful but nonetheless enjoyable. I shot five pheasant in five days and all of them were over my dog. My goofy, hyperactive little dog turned into a real hunting dog on this trip and I couldn't be happier. Sure, I threatened to kill him a couple of days ago when he ran off into a cornfield but that was then and this is now and while he smells like alfalfa and ass I still love him. The skies opened up on us this afternoon but a couple of beers and a few shots of tequila later I'm not too bothered by it all. We had fun, we talked shit, we walked forever, and we managed to get a couple of birds in the pot. All's well.

Photos for you and yours.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains! You know, you're the second guy I've met today that seems to think a gat in the hand means the world by the tail.

So today was much better. I'm reborn. I sat in the beautiful fall woods by a gently flowing stream, my dog at my heel, leaves the color of fire and the deepest blue sky as the backdrop. I sat in this serene state with a twenty year old shotgun and a simple wooden mouth call and tried to trick a covey of quail into walking into their deaths. It was so wonderfully calming and real and of the moment and I will remember it forever.

Here are some photos of the day. I hope you enjoy them and realize that hunting is more than just killing and shooting. It's also fathers and sons and friends and challenging yourself and being out amongst the flora and fauna that you never see when surrounded by steel and concrete and plastic and people.

Peace out, bitches!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We should have shotguns for this kind of deal.

How depressing. No birds added to the pot today. I never even fired my weapon. Oh no, wait, I took an impossible shot at a quail and missed. V shot a pheasant and then lost it in the brush. Typical. Grey, cold, rained a little. Nothing else to report other than that I'm totally bummed out. Our little spot isn't treating us too nicely this year. Sadness.

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some weird fuckin' shit, eh, Bud?

Here are some more photos. Venard got a bird. The second one is the pile of burrs I pulled off of and out of my poor little dog. The last one is my new motto and comes from the back of a little old ladie's electric wheel chair. Go Oregon!
We walked a million miles and only got one bird and we are getting crazy. Of course, on the way out we saw three roosters just chillin' by the side of the road. Ah, yes, the peaceful joys of hunting.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, October 19, 2009

"You missed, Mr. Bond." "Did I?"

Here are some snaps from the first day of hunting out here in the wilds of Eastern Oregon. It's tough but at least we're all together.
Peace out, bitches!