Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday fluff and photo

The last few posts have been kind of angry, so here's something a bit more positive.

I've been renting a lot of movies over the hiatus, and these are some of the ones that I've really enjoyed:

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill - Cutest birdies ever!

Chappelle's Show - Season two was way better than season one, but they were both funny as hell.

The Towering Inferno - Best disaster movie ever, and especially amazing when you consider that there were no digital effects back then.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - It's not often that a movie pisses me off so much that I throw things at the television. I remember those blackouts. It was boiling hot and we were working on a TV show that was shooting at the Culver lot. We had to rent a generator and run cable because lot management couldn't tell us if we were going to lose power, or how much warning we'd have if it did go out. Did I mention that it was boiling hot and when the stage power went out, so did the air conditioners?

Airport 77 - Second best disaster movie ever, but it scared me more than Towering Inferno - my dislike of flying is well-documented and watching this didn't help one bit.

And a photo:

Idol Worship

In front of the Kodak Theater - this is the red carpet madness of American Idol. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the country who doesn't care about this TV show.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't dish it out if you can't take it.

Some years ago, right after I got in the union, I was assigned (by a former call steward* who didn't approve of women in our local) to work with a rigging crew who were notorious for practical jokes and brutal insults ('all in good fun', of course).

I was raised in a household where everyone was very proper and one simply did not dignify boorish behavior with any kind of a response, so working on this crew was really an education for me.

A few things I learned from them:

1) Don't take abuse lying down. Letting the other person know that they hurt your feelings just means you're weak and ripe for more comments about your mother.

2) Right off the bat, go for the jugular. Everyone wants an easy target, so don't be one.

3) The 'fast' way to tie a bowline knot.

4) The title of this post.

So, last night The Blonde sent me on a blind date with a producer whom I'll just call Hairplugs.

It didn't go well. When I walked in and introduced myself, the first thing he said was "I thought you'd be hotter."

This took me by surprise, as I was expecting him to at least say hello.

"Yeah, and your body's okay, but you really need to get your teeth done."

While I was contemplating if I should preserve my dignity by giving him a withering look and stomping out, my mouth opened and out popped a rigger insult:

"Do your customers at the strip club call you jiggles? When you're not at work you should put a bra on those bitch tits so they don't flop around."

I think I might have even made a hand gesture indicating two pendulous breasts knocking together in time to the restaurant's soft jazz.

It's true you never think of the really good ones at the right time. On a certain rigging crew, that would have brought down the house.

Of course, as soon as I said "bitch tits" everything around us got real quiet, and Hairplugs sputtered some lame insult (I think he called me a cunt, which is about as upsetting to me as being asked the time of day) and walked out.

I guess he's not very popular in that particular restaurant, because enough of the staff bought me drinks that I had to catch a cab home.

Hey, guys?

I don't think I ever thanked you for teaching me how to fight back.

* If you need a guy for work, and everyone you know is busy, you call the union hall to fill the job and the call steward is the person you deal with.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A not so damp Sunday afternoon.

So it didn't rain on the picket, after all.

Forum Picket

In addition to the nice folks in Local 33 (I've not met too many of them, and this picket was a great chance to help out and make some new friends), there were quite a few folks from other unions there, including some wonderful people from the Hollywood Park race track.

There were enough folks there to cover all entrances to the Forum (no small feat), and to look good for the news cameras.

Forum Picket

A standard management tactic for pickets is to have goons trying to look threatening while taking pictures of the picketers. These guys were videotaping us, although this one refused to smile when I took his photo (very unsporting of him, if you ask me).

Forum picket

Did I mention that picket lines are fun?

So, what Local 33 would like all of you Madonna concert goers to do is to not buy concessions inside the venue - Most of the money you spend on shirts, posters, hot dogs and beer goes directly to the management who've locked out workers.

If you feel you just can't live without that Madonna poster, shirt, cap, or bottle of wine (no, I'm not kidding), please go to and buy your merchandise there. It's the same stuff they're selling in the venue, but you'll get a better price, you won't have to schlepp it all night and you'll be helping out some good folks.

If you're driving into the parking lot, please roll down your window and take a flyer and one of the really cool bead necklaces they're giving out!

If you wanted to picket but just couldn't make it Sunday, there will be pickets for the remainder of Madonna's shows at the Forum.

Somehow I never see it coming.

Every so often, I post something that really pisses people off and it always takes me by surprise.

This Madonna/Forum thing really opened the floodgates and got that peanut gallery typing but good.

Please enjoy some examples of the email I've gotten - I have not corrected any spelling or grammar errors:

Ur stoopid 4 thnking U can pikett Madonna shes superstar and I hope u all die

Union members are paid too much!! GREED IS A SIN!!!

What about the innocent people who just want to be intertained? Your saying I should not go when I've paid and I'm saying you all should go back to Russia.

Shame on you all for using an innocent person for publicity. Why should she care about you or your silly little problems? If any of you had any brains, you'd go get a real job.

Well, that last one sort of has a point - I think I mentioned that I don't expect uber-rich celebs to give a shit about the working man, and the fact is that most (with a few exceptions) of them don't. Those of us who work in the entertainment industry understand this and although we wish things were different, that's the way it goes.

Once again:


I was, however, hoping that a group of folks who call themselves Christians would care about their employees receiving a fair wage in a city with astronomical housing and general living costs.

It deeply saddens me to think I might be wrong.

As for using Madonna to generate publicity - you bet your ass. She'd do the same thing if our situations were reversed.

And if you think union members are paid too much, please feel free to go work on a non-union low budget movie. Know that you're showing us greedy union fucks a thing or two while you work 80+ hour weeks for a flat rate that works out to be less than minimum wage and be told by the producer that you should crawl into a building full of toxic waste to place a light because "it's the right thing to do because we all care soooo much about the project" and then get fired when you refuse because you decide to make your health a priority over a movie that no one's ever going to see anyway.

If that doesn't sound good (and why wouldn't it?), please do work on some non-union music videos that shoot for 25 hours straight, don't feed you because they blew the catering budget on coke for the artist and his/her friends, and then have armed thugs threaten you when you show up at the office to try to collect another paycheck because the first one (that they issued, under threat of legal action, 6 weeks after the shoot) bounced.

Oh, and have fun not making enough money - no matter how hard you work - to insure your health and your car at the same time.

Go on, do it. I'll wait.

For the haters out there, it should please you to no end to learn that we'll probably be getting rained on while we picket.