Friday, September 01, 2006

Color me crabby

In case you haven't noticed, I've not been in the best mood lately.

The stench of absolutely mind-numbing stupidity is hanging over this show, and just like the vomit, we can't seem to pinpoint the exact cause. It's not us, it's not any of the other below the line departments, and the few producers I've met seem pretty sharp, so it can't be them. It's coming from somewhere up high though - and since shit does like to roll downhill we're catching the tail end of it.

Today, we had to rig a new stage but were forbidden by the production office from renting any new equipment. That meant we had to go into a standing set*, tear out the things we needed, make copious notes about what we'd taken and from where (because we have to put it all back next week), haul the stuff to the other stage and rig it. Then my boss got called upstairs (into the production office) for a talking-to about us not working fast enough ("Do you understand how valuable this company's time is worth? Do you?").


Stupidity and frustration are bedfellows - when people start having to work twice as hard because of a series of bad decisions by the folks wearing $800 suits, it starts to wear on the nerves.

Everyone on the show is cranky as hell - people are snapping at each other, constantly threatening to quit and today the first unit best boy yelled at my boss over, well, nothing (the first unit best boy's normally a really great guy - he's just closer to the stupid than we are, and it's turning him into Mr. Cranky Pants).

But it's not just production. There's something else going on, and I can't put my finger on it (of course, I'm on the bottom rung of the ladder so there's a lot that I don't hear about).

Maybe our stage is haunted. Maybe the layout of the furniture in the sets forms some satanic mandala that's making our footsteps churn out a constant cloud of acrimony.

You know what? I'm going with that theory. I blame set dressing - I bet they think it's funny. I can just picture them, driving away at night, snickering: "Hee hee... this one's going to give them all cold sores! Haw haw haw!!" (Please note that I really like our set dressers, even though I can totally picture them doing something like this).

They laid off the rigging crew on Tuesday (we're off on Monday anyway due to the holiday), so I took a call on another show for that day.

It'll be a nice break. I might even crack a smile.

* A standing set is one which is used very often, so it's never stripped out when we leave. It just, well, stands there when we're not using it.

Couch of the Day:


Thursday, August 31, 2006

With friends like this...

Well, okay, not friends.

Our higher-ups have been gracious enough to do us a favor by giving us a 5 am call time tomorrow so we'll do our ten hours and be done by 4 pm - you know, in case we wanted to have a Friday night.

Of course, today we worked until 8 pm.

I should be disgruntled about a nine hour turnaround (on a rigging crew), but it doesn't really matter - I haven't been sleeping for shit lately.

I'm off to bed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dude, what's that smell?

One of the things that's really affected us is the industry ban on zip line. Zip line (lamp cord to you, buddy) is what we used to use when we had a bunch of practical lamps in the center of a room - zip line's damn near flat and it's easy to tape down so the actors won't trip on it. Because it's flat and easy to tape down it's very easy to hide from the camera even when it's running across the middle of the floor.

Now, we have to use standard heavy-duty extension cords ("stingers"), which are safer, but harder to hide from the camera and much more of a trip hazard (even when taped down). Some studios will let you run zip line for a few feet, and some won't allow it's use at all, but we can't run hundreds of feet of it anymore no matter where we are.

Most of our work today was wiring the small table lamps in the center of the club, aiming the lamps that we hung yesterday, making sure that the stingers were well-hidden and taped down, and making sure that we got power to all the last-minute lamp additions.

Yesterday, one of our guys had to leave early because of the paint fumes. He came down from the perms, told us that he felt like shit and went to see the nurse.

What he didn't tell us is that he threw up somewhere in the upper levels of the facade where he was running cable.

Now, I certainly can't blame the poor guy - there are some bodily functions that just won't wait, and sometimes you feel like crap and just forget to tell people things (had I been vomiting I don't know that I would have remembered to inform my supervisor about it - "Hey, I just hurled upstairs somewhere! Have a great day!"). No biggie, except for the smell.

It smells like, well, puke. It wasn't so bad first thing in the morning, but as soon as we turned the lights on and it got hot up there - icky, icky poo (or icky, icky puke as the case may be).

We're not exactly sure where he puked, although we can make an educated guess from where the smell's strongest (none of us were really all that eager to find a puddle of vomit, anyway).

So of course, that's where we put our dimmer board operator's table*. We even made sure it was safely secured to the deck by bolting it down.

Wasn't that nice of us?

* We all love our dimmer board operator - he's a great guy, and we've all known him for years and had some great times with him on various shows. Don't feel bad for him. It's really easy to re-locate a dimmer board, so he won't be in the smell for long, but that five minutes or so are just going to be priceless. My only regret is that we won't be there to see it.

Couch of the Day:


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Trash can insides and a contact high.

Today, we were rigging on New York Street - there's a little nightclub set that's being dressed to look like a cross between CBGB and The Limelight.

Whatever the painters were using to make the fake stained glass windows made me see purple puppies and rainbows - I ended up having to run home at our coffee break and get my respirator (that I got on the last show where they were spraying something toxic). I took it home with me tonight as I'm afraid that if I leave it in our gold room (where we store small things like lightbulbs, color-correction gels, etc.), by morning one of our pranksters will have removed the filters and soaked them in something disgusting before replacing them.

Right after they did the stained glass effect, they started spray painting the graffiti on the walls, so it was a paint fume smorgasbord - it was so bad even the painters were commenting on it.

After lunch, when I finished my coffee, and went to throw the cup away - only to stop when the trashcan I was about to use seemed suspiciously clean.

Turns out, it was a prop trash can (which, of course must be returned to the rental house free of garbage) - another show was shooting a few yards away and had put out trash cans in order to make New York Street look, well, urban.

So I wandered along the 'street', peering into the trash cans, looking for the one that was actually full of garbage - one of the other show's PAs came up to me and wanted to know what the hell I was doing.

"I'm looking for a real trash can", I answered, wagging my empty cup at her for emphasis.

"Just throw it in the one that's actually got trash in it".

If only it were that easy- they look alike from the outside, and if I throw trash into a prop trash can and let it sit in the 90 degree heat all day, I'm going to have the other show's set dressers coming after me with thumb screws.

We're back in the club rigging again tomorrow - hopefully all the painting will have been done so I don't have to spend another day with that creepy rubber fetish thing on my face.

Couch of the Day:


Monday, August 28, 2006

Toy store, here I come!

Well, I failed in my mission, but the Pink Princess has learned a hard lesson about negotiation.

Some background:

Back when we all had Shawn Cassidy posters on our walls, one of my Roosevelt-era (or so) great aunts decided that toys cost too goddamn much nowadays and she wasn't going to take the bait.

In a fit of pique about those bastards charging $5 for something that was just going to get fucked up anyways, she broke out her ancient Singer and made me two dolls - an Eeyore and a standard early 20th century-looking girl doll (sans creepiness, of course. Her face is hand-embroidered so no evil little eyes). Both were made solely from materials in her rag-bag.

Eeyore was made from brown tweed (which is probably closer to the color of an actual donkey after all), and had white corduroy tummy. The best part was that his tail actually came on and off with the button. The worst part was that I immediately lost the tail, and spent the next 20 years telling people that Eeyore was sad because his tail was probably rotting somewhere in a landfill in Sunland.

The girl doll (whom I never bothered to name - despite my father's attempt to beat some girliness into me, I was never much for dolls, frills or pink things) lost her pantaloons immediately (I pulled them off to see if she was anatomically correct. Hey, cut me some slack - I was 7), although for some reason she still has all her petticoats under her gingham dress.

I lost Eeyore in my late 20's. My ex, The Devil (no, really, he is the devil), took Eeyore when we split up - not because he wanted Eeyore, but because he knew that was the one thing he could take that would really hurt me (I got him back, though. I burned his baseball cards in his driveway while he watched, horrified, from his deck. I even roasted a marshmallow over the little bonfire while I laughed. Don't even start with me about it. Looking back, I'm deeply ashamed of the way I behaved, but hell hath no fury, I guess).

So the only memento I have from an aunt that I adored (who died early in the Reagan administration, and who was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise completely miserable childhood) is that doll.

The Pink Princess wants the doll bad, and that was what she demanded in exchange for the basket.

I counter-offered with my entire collection of Bugs Bunny DVDs but she wouldn't budge.

"Sorry", I said. "You can't have her. She and I have history."

"But I want her!"

"Well, I want world peace and perky tits without having to have surgery, but that's not going to happen either."

"Then you can't have my basket."

"Fine. I'll go buy one."

I could tell from the look on her face that The Pink Princess hadn't thought of that one.

"Well, that's what you get for being inflexible" is what her mom said as I said my goodbyes after dinner and kicked at the tumbleweeds on the side of the road as I marched towards my car, empty-handed, wondering about the location of the nearest "Toys R Us".

Hey, sparkle glue and handlebar baskets are still cheap and plentiful, aren't they? 'Cause I haven't got a sewing machine.

Couch of the Day: