I'd like to relate a little observation from today's job that illustrates why I have become rather ambivalent about working in Hollywood:
We're making a commercial for Scotts Advantage. Apparently they make fertilizer steroids for your overwatered, resource wasting lawn. The stuff is toxic. You're not really supposed to handle it, breathe in its dust, or spill it on the healthy parts of your lawn. We're shooting in Pasadena at a really nice house with a perfect lawn. We were warned not to let the Scotts Advantage stuff spill all over the healthy lawn as it would chemically burn the lawn or something. In an effort to comply with the location requests a piece of black cloth was put over the part of the lawn we were shooting. As the fertilizer spilled it collected on the cloth and rapidly fell off of it and into the lawn. When the cloth was moved for the shot the stuff went everywhere. In short, the lawn was not protected.
What makes me laugh is that the cloth is a perfect example of Hollywood caring: half-ass and ineffective but hey, shouldn't we get points for trying?
Ah, Hollywood. So coy. So disarming. So pointless.
In regards to Obama's state of the union address: the more things change the more they stay the same.
Never watch Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" if you're not in the mood to go out and get nice cheese and meat and bread. I watched the Brittany episode at about 11pm after having made and consumed an excellent dish of Pad Thai with ducks I'd shot a few days prior. It was fucking good. I was sated and lying in bed and bam, Anthony Bourdain is eating like a champion in Brittany. A stack of shellfish a mile high. Fantastic gallettes and rillettes and cookies and meat made just the right way and crepes with all kinds of good stuff in them and artisnal piggies and all manner of goodness flowing from said piggies. It was food porn of the highest caliber and I fell for it the next day. Yeah, I woke up this morning with a single thought in my spider web encrusted brain: find good cheese and good salami and good bread and eat it for lunch. Oh, and maybe make something nice for the other two people you live with. Maybe.
First I had to do some yoga. That was a nice use of 45 minutes! Then, off to deal with the dog and his grub and a walk and some petting and some retriever practice. Good use of 5 minutes. Kidding. Another hour goes by. Shower, forget to shave, run out of the house and off into the rain and traffic jams of LA. First stop is Trader Joe's for some supplies. Then off to Monsieur Marcel in the world famous (I hope) Farmer's Market. Love that place but we'll talk about it some other time. Monsieur Marcel's is a slightly overpriced French market with all manner of good things to eat. I picked out a nice wedge of Ossau-Iraty and a dozen slices of some amazing Sopressata and a fresh baguette and a bottle of San Pellegrino. I also bought two pounds of perfect merguez sausages for the pizza I was going to make. Dammit! Good stuff I says!
Second I had to go to work at the slowest camera house in town, Clairmont Camera. I got lucky today, by the time I rolled in looking like an escapee from the Food Network all of my gear was out and waiting for me. In addition, my second AC is buddies with the whole staff somehow so she expedited the remaining bits and pieces. I should make her some food someday or maybe just keep buying her and the rest my toolbelt monkeys booze. They seem to like it anyway so... We finished up in near record time for Clairmont and after finalizing some bs with tomorrows task masters we were off.
Off into the most retarded traffic ever. LA in the rain is like a prison riot: way more chaotic and ridiculous than would really make sense since everyone is back in their cages as soon as it's all said and done and so where are you really for all the violence? People drive like idiots here in the rain so I took back roads and managed to travel 12 miles in only an hour and fifteen minutes. Epic fail.
End of long winded bullshit: here is a pizza that I made with buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, shallots, garlic, really good roma tomatoes, and merguez. I wish I had made the dough but alas, TJ's provided once again. I'm told it was quite good.
What a lovely day! No rain, no mud hole sucking up my car, no ducks not flying overhead, and no work or work types to bug me. Today I got to wake up late and do a nice hour of yoga and then, and this sucked, I paid some bills and went to the post office. Nice bit of working on home type stuff and then off to get the car cleaned and buy groceries.
I like days like this, where you get a bunch of shit done and it's all normal and respectable and what what. It's comforting. It's a good pair of wool socks and waterproof boots on a crisp fall morning when the pheasants are flying. It's a well made and warm wetsuit when it's cold out but the waves are pumping so you have to go out. Pick your favorite metaphor or simile or whatever and that's what it feels like for me to have a normal day. The rest of the week is going to be stupid, I'm running around on a commercial for some crap product and I'm sure the hours are going to be annoying. We're shooting daylight only which sounds good in winter but usually results in the toolbelt monkeys getting their asses kicked. That said, at least I had today.
I made the ducks into Pad Thai and served a side of Chinese style green beans. A little white wine was the perfect pairing and then I ate some mint ice cream with fresh mint leaves on top. It was good. There are some leftovers if you happen to be in town.
After an afternoon of duck hunting in the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge I came away with four Ruddy ducks and a filthy dog. Damn fine hunting.
I wandered down the road a spell and found myself in the parking lot for the Wister Unit of the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge whats next to the Salton Sea. Yeah, that tree hugging Sonny Bono went and helped build a massive waterfowl refuge and you can hunt there on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I showed up Saturday night and signed up for the Sunday hunt and then set up the Pumpkin for some car camping. I made some dehydrated lasagna with "meat sauce" and settled in for a little "Blade Runner" and an early bedtime.
I love waking up early to hunt. I don't like getting a bad blind assignment and Y115B-3 was a shit box of a blind. The whole morning I was there I saw one bird fly overhead and I was half asleep when he flew over. Good times. Great miss. Going home. I did like watching the sun rise over the marsh and hearing all of the various bird calls and songs but it would have been nice to murder a duck or seven.
On the way out my day completely turned around and this happened:
Stuck. Stuck. Stuck! The good thing is as I started sliding I didn't slide into the river on the other side of the road.
Clearly I was not amused.
I walked a mile, got some guys with tow straps, and then got completely covered with mud as I dug out the front of the car so as to attach said straps. Fucking hell.
And then the Vikings lost.
And then the Saints won!
What an odd day. Ducks on the menu tomorrow so things are going to be looking up soon.
A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Two things complete your pirate persona: style and swagger. Maybe a little too much swagger sometimes -- but who really cares? Arr!
I had a dream last night about a rather large and old tiger or tigress. I don't know how you tell the difference but I got the feeling it was a tigress. It's not really that important to the story as far as I can tell, I just thought I'd put it out there in case, well, you know. In case it did end up being important.
I'm in a bit of high desert rocky country looking for quail. I'm all alone, just me and Thumper versus the all mighty Gambel's quail and I'm hoping along some rocky drainage. It's not too hot and not too cold and the sun is high and there are a few clouds. Perfect quail hunting weather. After awhile I'm sitting propped up against some rocks watching a giant TV screen floating in the sky. There's a Vikings game on and the screen is insanely crisp and saturated and, most impressive of all, utterly giant and floating over the sage and rocks of an arroyo. As I'm sitting there, feet propped up and Thumper at my side, I realize there is a very large tiger (tigress?) hunkered down in some scrub brush ten yards off to my right. I see the orange and black stripes of its enormous shoulder as it slowly glides along on its belly towards the TV screen. I briefly wonder if it is watching and if it's a Vikings fan.
In the blink of an eye I'm on top of the tallest outcropping I can find and looking down at the tiger as it notices me and looks up. It has an excessive amount of long hair around its snout, almost like a beard, and what looks like a gouge in its lower lip. I will later be told it had a bought with mouth cancer. The tiger snaps upright and is three quarters of the way up my little perch without expending any visible energy. It is standing upright, hugging the rock, and looking at me with what I interpret as curiosity. With a flick of its tail it is up the rocks and a hairs breadth away from me.
Survival mode kicks in and I start spinning around looking for another tall rock to jump atop. I have Thumper with me but it never once occurs to me to shoot the tiger. We jump from rock to rock, my stomach starts to hurt with fear and exhaustion. Soon I am in a grove of trees that I know I've hunted from before, perhaps for dove a million years ago, and I'm running. I am running and breathing and I can hear the tiger padding along like a border collie guiding the lamb to slaughter. It's right next to me then a little in front and bearing into me so I have to go right then it's behind me and I'm trying to go faster. Forever. Then the grove ends and I'm next to a high school and next to that is another high school that was abandoned when they built the new high school.
I run for the abandoned high school and find a tool shed and duck into it just as the tiger flicks at my heel. The door closes as I crash into grass sod and shovels. Then the tiger is opening the door with its snout and I am behind the grass. As the tiger enters I exit and slam the door and wedge a shovel through the handles and shove a trash can in front of the whole thing. Off I go through the school and I realize as I'm running through familiar corridors and stairways that I'm running through Franklin High in Highland Park, my alma mater, and I wonder how long it has been abandoned.
I've found the Ranger station and just like that I'm back at the outskirts of the hunting grounds where I first saw the tiger and I'm explaining to them that they have a fucking tiger roaming around the arroyos and no wonder there are no goddamn rabbits around! The damn tiger is eating them! How must the poor quail be fairing I ask. I'm told of the tiger's mouth cancer, the miracle of its being here in Southern California, and how lucky I am that it didn't just jump me from behind and eat me. I feel bad for locking it in the tool shed and the Rangers tell me it's OK, just go home and next time hunt with a partner because the tiger will get too shy to attack if you're with someone.
I woke up and kissed my fiance after all of this and then I went to work. I'm anxious to get back to sleep and see if the tiger wants to chase me again.
You'd think shooting mannequins would be quick and easy but you'd be very, very wrong.
Mannequins, apparently, require tons of lighting tweaks, a whole passel of fussing over their clothes, and tons of time to mess with their arms and heads. It's incredibly annoying and frustrating to watch a bunch of people make decisions based on committee opinion. If that committee is made up primarily of uninteresting and uncreative people those decisions will take forever and ultimately be useless and counterproductive. In addition, the day took forever and dragged on for 14 hours. Fourteen hours of totally stupid decisions and unnecessary wastes of time and effort. Ah well, what the fuck are you supposed to do? Get a real job?
That said I'm going to go pay some bills as I really don't like holding on to my money.
It's church Sunday here in the hood and everyone is in their Sunday best. In addition, there are several very drunk young men wandering from playoff party to playoff party and these two facts about my neighborhood are giving me a headache.
It is also about to be monsoon week here in lovely Southern California. At least this time I'm not scheduled for any outside jobs so I shall stay nice and dry on Soundstage 29 at the old MGM lot (now a subsidiary of the mighty Sony, itself a subsidiary of some other even more gargantuan Japanese conglomerate). It'll be nice to be out of the elements for a bit, trapped on a boring and cavernous but wonderfully non-soaked soundstage. It's funny, you go in at night and come out at night and a whole sun cycle was completed in your absence. Nothing in the Universal mechanism of "day" seemed to really care that you missed the whole show. C'est la vie.
As I continue to ramble I will mention this: the Vikings won today by kicking the Cowboys in their metaphorical nuts and I'm very, very happy about the whole game. For some reason that really isn't well formed enough to be defendable I hate the Cowboys. I loathe them. I think part of it is that they're referred to as "America's team" even though no one really lives in Texas and most of the time Texans go out of Texas people ask them to return asap. Everyone always wants to fuck a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader even though they're about as average looking as the rest of the cheerleaders. Jerry Jones, the billionaire owner, isn't the brightest bulb in the house just because he's rich. He's made horrible decisions regarding his team and the new stadium is a fucking monument to Texas-American excess. (Yeah, they're their own sub-group due to inbreeding and bad diet.) Anyway, I could go on but I won't because they lost so screw 'em.
The problem lies in that now I am forced to acknowledge that next weekend my beloved Vikings are going to play the New Orleans Saints for world supremacy of a division in a league of a game only played here. What? Nothing. The Saints are the historic, family-roots team so... I think I'll miss the whole thing and go duck hunting. Yes, overnight in Wister! A little camping, maybe take the dog even though he'll just get dirty and in the way... Genius. OK, that's what's what.
Harold and Belle's is an LA institution and I love it. It's the kind of place you can go to a few times and you're a local. Creole food and good service and good times makes the world go round, y'all. Anywhat, I hadn't been in there for ages but now that my internal organs aren't in a state of rebellion I decided to get in and get some grub. As soon as I walked in the bartender Santos gave me a holler and started pouring us our traditional shot of tequila. The hostess remembered me from last time I'd been in there. I slid up to my usual spot at the end of the bar and waited for my hot sausage po' boy to show up and had me shot. Next thing you know, Councilman Bernie Parks rolls in, you know, ex-Police Chief Parks. The conversations between the real old timers was priceless: The Saints- yes or no? Parks- good job or bad job? Upwardly mobile looking black boomers and their grown kids, young hip hoppers with baggy pants and chains, and older men and women rocking out on a Thursday. Ah, hilarious. I love being in LA.
Back to Old Navy tomorrow and ducks on Saturday. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta...
As I drove home from working on an Old Navy commercial being shot along the coast of good ol' Southern California I happened upon coverage of the new Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The heads of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley went before a committee of mostly Democrats and said "mea culpa." Wow. What balls. A group of the richest, most corrupt, most morally bankrupt douche bags actually sat together and had the balls to lecture another group of rich, corrupt, and morally bankrupt douche bags and they all thought we'd be so dumb and broke and desperate that we'd fall for the charade. Asking Congress to investigate it's financial backers and figure out what went wrong is sort of like asking your teenage, pothead kid to tell you why you're an alcoholic. Everyone with a brain knows what happened: Congress got rid of Glass-Steagall, pushed through tort reform for corporations, amended interest laws in favor of credit card companies (thanks Joe Biden, ya cunt), and deregulated as much of the financial markets as possible while also grossly underfunding the few organizations still tasked with keeping everything legal. In short, the guys funding Congress and any President ever asked for some lanyap and got it in the form of no more government oversight. Same thing that led to the first Great Depression and these dicks are running around acting like they didn't see it coming BUT they did have the prescence of mind to stick the country up just as Bush was walking out the back door. They punked us and now they're putting the onus of responsibility on, yeah you guessed it, the working stiff. According to the brain trust represented at the first of only two days of meetings (because the whole thing is so simple) the problem lies not so much with repealing all of the oversight or with greed or insider trading or overt corruption but with sub prime loans on houses. Yes, apparently that's all it took to ruin a once great financial empire: letting a small fraction of the overall number of home loans go to people who couldn't pay.
So, spider derivatives and hedge funds and the rest of the pseudo-economic crap that these guys were peddling over the last thirty years had nothing to do with the mess we're in? Banks that are lenders, brokers, and speculators had nothing to do with it? Financial "wizards" promising an unsustainable 20% a year return on investments had nothing to do with it? Fuck you, give me a break! Blaming housing markets and their bubble for an economic implosion that responsible people have been warning of for twenty years is reprehensible. I say we take the heads of these companies and several members of Congress and beat the shit out of them, transfer their individual wealth into the public coffers and throw them out on the street, all as a warning that the American people are tired of this shit.
As for the President, I have full faith and confidence that he will do absolutely nothing about this problem as he is part and parcel of the whole problem. Any President is going to be until we the people realize that corporations are not people or citizens and as such have no Constitutional rights and that corporate money is not the same as free speech. Money should have nothing to do with free speech or the ability to express one's political will. The only reason it does is because the vast majority of us who don't have money don't use what we do have: our voices.
Whatever. What the fuck do I know? I'm just a toolbelt monkey working on an Old Navy commercial.
Day Three of Free Food Poisoning or Why I Love Music Videos
a story by a sick tool belt monkey
I slept a combined two hours last night and I think my poor wife to be slept only a fraction more than that as I kept making trips to the bathroom every ten to fifteen minutes. It's amazing how much liquid is in the human body. Truly amazing. It's even more amazing when that liquid fails to get properly processed out of the digestive system. In addition to diarrhea I'm also experiencing stomach cramps, bloating, and burps that smell vaguely of sulphur. You really can't get sexier than that, I tell ya.
I'm supposed to go into Panavision Hollywood today to prep some cameras and assorted gack for an Old Navy commercial we're doing over the next two weeks. Praise be to Buddha, my contact at PVH just called and told me several of the bits and pieces I need to prep won't be in until later today so I get a bit of a reprieve. I can lie in bed and occasionally strap myself down to my own toilet as opposed to the ones at PVH. It's the little things in life that make it all worthwhile. My only hope is to eventually get out of bed, shower, and load up on Immodium AD and then hope one of my credit cards works so I can get some gas. Awesome.
I guess it's time for another shot of ginger ale as the ol' gut is starting to burn again. Here's looking at you kid!
Oh lord, did they ever try to kill me this time! So I go out and do this stupid-ass John Mayer video about vampires and whaddya know, after about 18 hours of work I get fucking food poisoning. Awesome! I basically collapsed by the last shot and left the guys there to pack out the gear. I drove home at 2am bent over and whimpering from the stomach cramps and praying to the Universe that I'd get home before my ass exploded again. To make it even more pathetic, I'm almost out of gas and totally out of money as two jobs haven't paid me yet. Sweet! Feeling like a success at 38 is always a gas.
It's now Monday and I'm feeling less on Death's door, more like I'm out on the lawn and crawling towards Death's fence. You know you're living the high life when you're excited about finally peeing. I won't bore you with the details any further but I'm stuck in the house in the hopes that by tomorrow, when I need to go back to work, I'll be back to normal.
In regards to the video all I can say is it should look pretty cool but John Mayer is one of the most boring people ever. Ever.
Yesterday was a fucking wash. Straight up waste of time on my part as I had once again made the mistake of going to Tortuga and tying one on with the lads. Yeah yeah, sure sure, a good time was had by all but in the fucking morning I was the only one here and I wasn't even sure I wanted me here bugging me. That's right, I was hungover yesterday and I accomplished nothing. I got the tree out of the house and cleaned up the house and didn't really leave the house except to take my laundry to get dried. That was only three blocks away so I'm not even going to count that trip.
Yep, all in all, not much of a day but I managed to do a bunch of reading, clean the dog up, and do the laundry. I failed miserably to get out of the house or get the car washed. The car is a wreck, more mud than anything else, and covered in dog hair. Good times. Very sexy. I'll be at work all day tomorrow on a freakin' John Mayer video so I think it's OK if it's a mess. No one will notice.
OK, must stop typing and pretend to be interested in looking at wedding sites. I kid, I'm not going to pretend to be interested. I am going to stop typing though.
It's funny what the mind sees when it wants so badly to see something. This is never made more evident than when duck hunting. Once again, various agents of the thing called Nature conspired to keep me from successfully murdering a duck. I did, however, manage to murder some species of marsh bird closely related to that most hated of beasts the Coot. Coot-Lite, as I've named it, took on the wonderful red undertones of a Cinnamon Teal as it tried to swim into my decoys so I shot it through the neck. It then drifted out to the deep channel that bisects good old E1 pond and I had to go find a long enough stick to drag it back. Good thing the dog doesn't do water retrieves, damn good thing. After procuring a suitably long and sturdy log of about 9' in length I almost got water in my waders but managed to drag back to me what I thought was a Cinnamon Teal and then thought was a Redhead and then found to be a Coot-Lite. It's amazing how very unlike either the Teal or the Redhead a Coot-Lite looks like but in the wonderful and tricky light of the early morning over a duck pond you'd be amazed what happens. Every little wrinkle in the water, every little reflection of light into a tree, every sound, becomes that duck you'd really like to see flying into your dekes at that moment. Alas, I senselessly murdered a Coot-Lite and that was the sole critter I shot this morning. I had a few more passing shots on some actual ducks but I was feeling kind of guilty about the lil Coot-Lite and so my heart wasn't really into shooting anymore.
Following a truly depressing morning of non-duck hunting I drove through traffic all the way into Hollywood so I could hang out with a pack of snooty fashionistas and shoot a film test. Yep, from fetid swamp to fashion island in only one hour. Of course, I reeked of swamp water, had mud on my pants and boots, and was still wearing a camo hat but hey, I was the cameraman so what the fuck were they going to do about it? At least I left the dog outside as he really smells like ass. The whole thing was rather painless, I guess, but I'd have preferred to have stayed out in the duck blind and maybe rallied after lunch. There's always this weekend! Oh wait, no, I'm working on some shitty music video. Next Wednesday! Nope, Old Navy commercial. The weekend after! I could go down to Wister for the weekend! Hmm, doubtful. Fiance and kid have been gone a week and that'll be there first weekend after returning to school/work. Weekend after? Sure. Just keep telling yourself that, kid. You'll be fine.
Of all of the things that have happened lately only one thing has been at all important or interesting. I asked Melah to marry me on New Years Eve and she said yes.
There was a party. There was champagne. There was a countdown and then there was a ring. The new year has started off quite nicely, thank you.
I am now in a hotel in Blythe, CA. I spent the morning cleaning the house and the rest of the day wandering around the desert with Thumper and Ghostface Killah. We shot nothing and jumped a coyote and saw a million roadrunners. Good times.
Tomorrow we're at it again north of Blythe. Wednesday it's ducks in the morning and a film test in the afternoon for an upcoming commercial. What a world.