Monday, April 10, 2006

My big exciting weekend

Working weekends really fucks me up - on Saturday, I kept thinking it was Tuesday, and on Sunday night I kept waking up in a panic thinking it was Thursday and I had forgotten to put out the trash.

Today, I wandered around in a daze, not really knowing what day it was at all, until I saw the Monday chili special at the BBQ place near Culver Studios (and then I went back to being confused as soon as we got back on the lot - must have been the hot shirtless dancers for the Madonna video on the next stage. I know they're gay but they're still nice eye-candy).

The weekend's work was rigging the LA Sports Arena for the DFISM*.

Rigs go in in layers - first the cable and distribution boxes are laid out, connected, "gak"** is added, and once that's all sorted out we hang lighting units, then connect everything together, then fix problems, should they arise.

Laying cable is pure muscle. The technique hasn't changed in 100 years: pick the cable up and put it down, then repeat - first from the trucks that it's delivered in, onto the ground to count it; into a stakebed truck to drive it to the other side of the arena, then onto the ground to sort it again and back into a cable cart to wheel it across the icy arena floor to where it's going to live for the next few days.

Saturday - all 12 hours of it - was laying cable (the LA Sports Arena is very, very large and requires a LOT of cable to get from the generators to the set).

Sunday - yet more cable. For the first half of the day, I got the 'girl job', which was sending coiled cable up to the catwalks via the winch. Not the hand-eating kind of winch, though. We're using a high speed chain motor, which our Local 33 brothers had to operate for us due to some union jurisdiction thing (so basically what I was doing was attaching our cable to the chain and then stepping back while the other guy pushed the 'up' button). The 33 guys were a really cool bunch and it was great hearing stagehand stories for a change (fresh material, you know). At some point, though, all the cable had been sent up and I had to go up high to help the boys run the cable through the catwalks along the roof of the arena (what I really wanted to do was take a nap in the cable cart, but that's not a good thing for my boss to catch me doing).

The permanent catwalks in the Sports Arena are not constructed the way stage perms are - stage perms are made of wood and have a wooden grid underneath them. Not only do they feel solid when you walk on them, the grid gives the illusion of some sort of floor and somehow makes the distance to the ground less intimidating. I'm very rarely nervous or afraid of falling out of a stage perm (the exception being the tall stage at Sony - I think the perms are 70 feet up, and it's scary as hell despite the grid).

The Sports Arena's catwalks, however, are metal (not mesh, either - it's thin metal sheets welded together - they almost look like a wood floor made of metal, if that makes any sense) floored walkways that flex and creak like hell when you walk on them - plus there's no grid so you're looking 80 feet straight down to the deck with nothing to break up the visual of the ant-like co-workers scurrying about below.

Of course, since I have an overactive imagination, the whole time I was up high I kept envisioning that three seconds of free-fall followed by the sudden halt.

After lunch, we had to hang lights on the truss over the ice rink***, and of course they froze the rink before we had to walk on it - the location lady told us she tried to get them to hold off, but they were in a hurry so they wouldn't wait. Oddly enough, the rubber mats we had to walk on (so we didn't fuck up the ice) were more slippery than the ice itself, so we ended up walking on the ice anyways. In case you were wondering, walking on rink ice in work boots will cause it to crack.

Today, some of us were back at Culver to tear out the rig on the main stage - others were left to 'assist' first unit at the arena. I can't even begin to explain how much being on the rigging crew and having to help first unit sucks - so I'll just leave it at my being very, very glad to have been on the tear-out crew (where I'll be for the next few days).

Oh, and the car's problem was the water pump. Three Benjamins later and he's purring like the proverbial kitten.

The cough I can't shake is getting progressively worse - I keep trying to stay home and rest, but I have an aversion to turning down work. My best friend gave me a ride into work today (after I dropped the car off) and spent the entire drive reading me the riot act about not slowing down.

Easy for her to say - she's got a steady job. Me, I have to make enough money to get through the slow periods, plus I'm nervous about the potential SAG/WGA strike next year so I'm attempting to hoard as much cash as possible - even if that means working while I've got a cough.

I'm off to bed - hopefully I won't have any more garbage-can related panics tonight.

*Dumb Fucking Ice Skating Movie

**"Gak" is what we call the little stuff that sits at distro boxes - bates cables to connect lights, extension cords ("stingers"), etc...

***Ice rinks, in their unfrozen state, are smooth concrete, and are prepped by being flooded with about half an inch of funny-smelling (sort of lysol-ish) water, which is sprayed on in layers while it's being frozen via elements in the concrete. Apparently it takes about a day to get the ice ready to skate on.


Lost on Locatioin said...

728 was to run the spots on "DFISM" but 33 pulled rank and will crew the job. Good to hear 728 still has the power side of the rig and floor opperations. Get Well

Peggy Archer said...


Wait - are you the poor locations person who kept asking us to not walk on the ice?
I do not understand how any of you can have that job and stay sane.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that 75 feet is the height from which a fall is certainly fatal. I hope you are using some sort of safety harness when working up high like that. Sounds like a job for a Mohawk indian.

Anonymous said...

When you going to join the dark side of first unit?

Charli said...

My dad fell off scaffold while laying brick for a high-rise Hilton. Yeah, he survived with just a cut on his brow, few stitches and back to work just like that.

Don't worry 'bout falling, girl, don't ya know, girls have wings.

Talk about a hard day. I won't look at arena cable the same.