Saturday, September 27, 2008

Double Indignity

It sucks to be sick. Just ask famous interweb logger Gwen. But it sucks even worse when you're sick and you make a public spectacle of yourself, as I did this evening.

I woke up with a horrible cold this morning. My head was a cinder block. All day I resisted taking medicine, because NyQuil is the only thing that works for me and I didn't want it to put me out in the middle of the afternoon. Finally at around 9, I decided to give in. I went to the medicine cabinet and lo, there was no NyQuil to be found! I never think to replace it when it runs out, because by then I'm usually healthy. This is known as "poor planning", or more colloquially as "being fucking retarded".

Since I was sick, I was dressed in my most comfortable, least presentable clothes - the purple t-shirt with the stretched out neck that shows a tuft of classy chest hair and the black gym shorts with white paint stains. The composition of "sick clothes" can be seen in this handy chart:

Despite my appearance, I felt like shit and I was just NOT going to change to run to CVS for NyQuil. I thought to myself, "I know exactly what I'm getting, I'll go to the self-checkout lane, and I'll be gone in 2 minutes flat before anyone can see me, point and laugh."

Yeah, not so much.

I approached the self-checkout machine and scanned the NyQuil. The wrong price came up, so I didn't want to complete the transaction. The machine, in its best HAL 9000 voice (if HAL 9000 were a screeching undersexed housewife), yelled "PLEASE PUT YOUR SCANNED ITEM IN THE BAG! PLEASE PUT YOUR SCANNED ITEM IN THE BAG!" The barked orders were accompanied by a beeping of such fanfare and volume that for a second I thought I had hit three cherries on the Double Diamond machine. The manager had to come over from the register where she had seven patrons in line to reset the self-checkout machine. So far my plan to go unnoticed was working brilliantly.

Undaunted, I made a second attempt to scan the NyQuil. The machine, clearly having lost patience with me, immediately started yelling again. "AGE RESTRICTED PURCHASE! AGE RESTRICTED PURCHASE! ASSISTANCE IS ON THE WAY! DO YOU SERIOUSLY GO OUT IN PUBLIC LIKE THAT? DON'T YOU HAVE ANY PRIDE?"* The sirens whipped up their frenzy again, and above the patrons in line a collective thought bubble formed that said, "Why can't that homeless guy work the goddamn self-checkout? I just came in for smokes and Lost starts in ten minutes!" The poor manager had to come over again and confirm my age. Apparently, you can't buy cold medicine in California unless you're 18 because so many cold medicines are ingredients in crystal meth, and because crystal meth is California's third-largest export after porn and malaise. I find this law highly illogical, as I would guess that 97.5% of crystal meth makers are 18 or older. Besides, if someone under 18 is a drug kingpin, I don't want to smother the entrepreneurial instinct in such an industrious young person. That's the kind of thing America was built on.

After the manager took my hair for DNA analysis and determined that I was at least 18, I was allowed to pay for my medicine and slink out the door just ahead of the glares from the rabble still waiting in the human line. On my way to the parking lot, I passed a guy begging for change outside the store. He took my hand in his and slipped me fifty-six cents. I kept it.

* I may or may not be paraphrasing the self-checkout machine's remarks

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Eff You, North Terrace!

I was at work on Friday and found out that I was going to get a few more Benjamins than I expected from this job. So I decided to splurge and go to see My Morning Jacket on Sunday night. I first looked for just one ticket, because I don't know any other big MMJ fans. BOOM, as soon as I hit up Ticketmaster, one ticket in the pit popped up. SCORE. Now, I thought this was odd, as the show has been on sale for months. But that nagging voice in the back of my brain that tries to make me a social animal begged me to check what kind of seats were available for two. I figured I'd try to badger my friend J into going, since our musical tastes are very similar and she's going to the Raconteurs with me on Monday.

I searched for two tickets, and they were wayyyy in the back. Like, my car would have been closer to the stage than my seat. So I said, "screw friendship" and I went back to get my single pit ticket. I log back in, type those illegible, senseless words that they use to make sure that Mr. Roboto is not trying to buy tickets, and search for one ticket, best available. I'm told that best available is in the north terrace. WHAT? GIVE ME MY PIT TICKET! I WAS HERE FIRST! My exceptional math skills soon led me to deduce that if the best available single ticket was in the pit, and the best available tickets for two were in the back, that I was given the opportunity to buy the VERY LAST pit ticket. And I passed. By actually trying to be a sociable person, I got the shaft. And it had spikes on it.

Eff you, north terrace. And eff you, friendship.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This Will Be Funny Only To Me, Part 2

The sequel. After this, we'll return to your regularly scheduled "comedy".

University of California at Los Angeles
Graduate Studies in Feature Production Administration

The overwhelming popularity of our undergraduate degree program in Feature Production Administration has encouraged us to offer a graduate studies program. Due to the difficulty of this coursework, prospective candidates must complete degree requirements for the B.S. in Feature Production Administration. Students who successfully complete the program will be granted a Master of Science degree.

PRD 501 – Advanced Production Accounting
This popular and lively class will explain the tough choices that the movie producer encounters when faced with the inevitable budget cuts. The class will culminate in a case study wherein the student must determine how to cut $600 a week from the budget of a feature. Students will be assigned to one of three teams. Each team will argue one of the following budgeting strategies:

A) Fire a production assistant. This will save valuable production funds that can be better used to pay the director’s cat-sitter, fly in the lead actor’s girlfriend for a set visit, or ensure a free flow of gin and hookers. A side benefit of this approach is that wasteful fat will be cut from the bloated production office staff.

B) Retrain the production assistant to perform the duties of cat-sitter, airline pilot, bartender, and fellatrix.

C) Eliminate animal husbandry, superfluous air travel, and liquor-fueled sex romps from the budget.

It should be noted that option C has never been successfully argued, and if a team should accomplish this task, the team members shall be immediately awarded their degrees.

PRD 660 – The Psychology of the Production Office
The purpose of this essential class is to give the future production office worker some psychological food for the soul. Such encouragement will buttress his resolve once he steps into a movie and realizes that he is lower on the rung of the film ladder than such luminaries as the Assistant To The Producer That Nobody Ever Met, The Agent of That Annoying Brat With Two Fucking Lines, and The Nephew Of The Studio Exec Who Is A Set P.A. But Can’t Read A Call Sheet.

Through an exposure to topical film and literature, the student will learn to accept his lot as a faceless cog without complaint. Featured works include:

· The Stranger by Albert Camus
· The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
· Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
· The Collected Works of Friedrich Nietzsche
· “The Handmaid’s Tale” (film)
· “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” (film)
· “The Passenger” (film)

PRD 790 – Graduate Independent Study
As the final requirement for the Master of Science degree, the graduating class shall produce a film. To mimic the most realistic work environment, jobs on the production shall be assigned as follows:

· Those who went to Ivy League universities, and/or whose parents have a gross income of $200,000 a year or higher shall be given the job of producer.

· Those who live in Silverlake shall be production and costume designers; those who live in the 909 and 805 area codes shall be transportation drivers; those who live in Malibu shall be directors and actors; and those in the Valley shall be production assistants.

· Those who went to law school but haven’t the soul to fight for anything worthwhile shall be agents.

· Those who crave authority but lack the discipline for the military or the courage for the police academy shall be assistant directors.

· Those with no discernable skills who do not fit in any of the above categories shall be studio creative executives.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This Will Be Funny Only To Me

This is something I wrote a couple of years ago to amuse my coworkers. It plays partly off of the idea that film school doesn't prepare you for working in the film industry, and partly off the idea that you swallow a LOT of shit on the way up. It's really only funny if you work in this business, but I want a home for it online, so you poor saps have to read it.

University of California at Los Angeles
Bachelor’s Degree program in Feature Production Administration

The Feature Production Administration program at UCLA will prepare students for careers in the production offices of feature film and television productions. Students will receive instruction and hands-on experience in the various facets of production office work, and will hear from guest lecturers with professional experience in the field. Below you will find a sampling of our coursework.

PRD 101 – Introduction to the Production Office
In this introductory class, students will become familiar with the various duties of the production office worker and the personalities of the major players. Topics covered will include ordering lunch, getting the mail, grocery shopping, organizing office betting pools, and dividing your office into red desks and blue desks.

PRD 220 – Theories of Phone Answering
In this challenging class, students will be given instruction in the many methods of answering the phone through both classroom and lab work. Many thorny questions will be answered, including:

· How to give out a phone number that is on the crew list for the twentieth time without disparaging the caller’s heritage
· How to transfer a producer to another person cheerfully without wondering too hard why a third party needed to be involved
· How to explain that production and accounting are two separate and distinct departments without confusing a caller unduly
· How to deal with callers that insist on speaking only to the coordinator and then only ask for a phone number

PRD 370 – Care and Feeding of a Big Cheese
This course will teach the advanced student how to deal with the various big cheeses on the film, from producers and UPMs down to assistants who simply think they’re big cheeses. Valuable skills like assuming blame, banning offensive condiments from sandwiches, 20/20 hindsight, and obeying contradictory orders simultaneously will be learned. The class will culminate with a real producer’s assistant challenging the student to gather a scavenger hunt-like list of hard-to-find items completely unrelated to the film and to deliver them 30 minutes before they are asked for. NOTE: Successful completion of PRD 260 – Time Travel is a prerequisite for this class.

PRD/HOS 390 – Catering the Production Office
This joint offering of the Production and Hospitality departments will cover the feeding of the production office. This most important duty will be explored in depth. Topics include craft service shopping, faxing a coherent lunch order, convincing department heads to avoid ordering off the menu, choosing a restaurant that is inexpensive yet does not make the staff feel like white trash, reconciling the staff’s request for healthy snacks with their penchant for eating only candy, and handling the Vegetarian Question. The class will feature guest speakers, including Lupe from Baja Fresh and Chad the Disgruntled PA.

PRD 440 – Maximizing Your Income
This new and controversial class is being offered this term on a trial basis. Students will learn tried-and-true tactics for increasing their potential income. A sampling of the lectures offered:

· Padding Your Mileage for Fun and Profit
· Craft Service Purchases No One Questions
· Ralph’s Club Discounts: Don’t Pass Along The Savings
· An Overview of Liquor Stores That Don’t Itemize Receipts

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Burn, Baby Burn

I can't possibly come up with anything as biting today as an email I received from my friend R. So I'm just going to post what she said and bask in her reflected glory.

R lives in New Orleans, and Hurricane Ike forced her to get out of town for a couple of days. She left me a voicemail telling me that she was evacuating because her part of town was threatened by a levee on the verge of breaking. Regrettably, I did not call her back right away. There are two reasons for this:

1. I didn't understand most of the message because our phones hate each other and I usually get about every third word when we talk.*
2. I'm a terrible person who hates phones and never calls anyone back.**

Today I get an email from R. It says, in part:

"I wondered why you didn't call me back, what with the imminent danger of losing everything and all.

These pictures are of the levee that protects my home. You may notice how it resembles a waterfall.

So yeah, um, really sorry to read you couldn't find a fork to eat your salad the other day. That had to be difficult.

Burn. Of. The. Century.

A tip of the cap to you, R.

* Mostly true.
** Completely true.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fork You

Lowdown dirty rotten scoundrel rat bastard.

I was eating lunch at work today and the restaurant forgot to give me utensils for my salad.* So I went rooting around in the kitchen for utensil packs left over from lunches past. I came upon a treasure trove of those little plastic-wrapped packs that have utensils, salt, pepper and a napkin. I picked one up and took it to my desk before I realized that it only had a knife and a spoon in it. "Odd," I thought. "What the hell could I eat that would require a knife and spoon but no fork?" So I went back to get another utensil pack and soon realized that they all had knives and spoons but no forks. "Okay, this is weird," I thought. "Obviously, there is a (popular) dish that needs a knife and a spoon but not a fork." And it is killing me that I can't think of it.

Then I realized the true horror of the situation.

Some gutless weasel had opened all the utensil packs and removed the forks. WHY? Someone had taken the time to go through maybe 30 of these things and take out every single effing fork. WHY? All I can think of is that a bunch of forks were needed for some meeting and nobody had time to go to the store. Even then, wouldn't a normal decent human being replace them? At least say, "Hey, we're out of forks because I'm a humongous tool!" I swear to God. It's like eating all the chocolate out of a carton of Neapolitan ice cream. It's. Just. Not. Done.

But no. This mealy-mouthed coward will get away with it. And I'm sitting here eating salad with a spoon like a chump.

* Yes, even fat dudes eat salad. We eat everything.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

omg, it's lolhistory!!1!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Make Considerably Less

If I find out a detail about someone that just rubs me the wrong way, it will be the only thing I think about whenever I see them. Most people call this "petty". I call it "having standards".

A few weeks ago I temporarily lost my mind and looked up one of my favorite bands on MySpace.* Each of the band members has their own MySpace of course, so I visited those too. This is where we get to the detail that rubs me the wrong way. One of the band members had taken the trouble to answer the question about income. Of course, he selected "$250,000 or higher".

Now, I like money. I hope to have a little at some point. Maybe even enough to answer the question the way that this gentleman did. But something just seems unspeakably crass about choosing to answer that question at all when you're a rock star. We get it, you make a lot of money. We knew before you answered that question. Why rub it in? He also answered that he was married, so it's not like he's looking to impress chicks. And even if he was, my guess is that he didn't need to state his income on MySpace to do so.

Every time I have seen this guy in a video since this experience, all I think is, "Wow, that guy makes $250,000 a year or higher!" I even picture a thought bubble over his head that says, "Hi, I'm _____. I make $250,000 a year or higher!" I now think he's a crass a-hole with new money, when in fact he may well be a perfectly decent guy. Do I have standards, or is this just petty? I fear it may just be petty.

He's still a showoff.

* I would like to stress that I don't normally frequent MySpace, as I am not a fourteen-year-old girl or a pedophile impersonating a fourteen-year-old girl.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Adventures of Ol' Soapy

I have several friends (including from this here Blogger site) who think that because I work in the movie industry, my job must be cool. Repeated denials that my job is cool have been mistaken for modesty. A description of today's activities at work should put this misconception to rest once and for all.

The movie I'm working on has finished filming, and we are clearing out of the offices this week. One of the final and most hated tasks when a movie wraps is the sending out of crew gifts. Crew gifts are usually a jacket and/or baseball cap with the logo of the movie embroidered on it. No one has ever been able to adequately explain to me why, in the temperate climate of Los Angeles, a jacket is the traditional crew gift. I've got like six of these things, and I wind up giving them away to relatives who not only think it's cooler than I do, but live in a state that actually gets cold. Besides, I work on terrible movies, and I'm not eager to advertise my part in some of these atrocities. "Look at that guy's jacket, he worked on Garfield 2! Get him!"

But I digress. We were shipping crew gifts. The gifts for this particular movie are a jacket, a cap and a promotional bar of soap. No, don't go back, you read that right. Soap plays a part in the movie, and someone thought it would be a cute idea. Someone that did not have to put 300 bars of soap in Baggies and add them to the 300 FedEx boxes with the 300 jackets and 300 hats. Real cute. Three of us were on the task - one typing and printing the FedEx labels; one stuffing the boxes with a jacket and a hat; and yours truly bagging soap. Our location manager came in the office and saw me on the floor surrounded by soap and Baggies and laughed out loud. He was not the last to do so. As luck would have it, virtually every member of the crew still on the payroll found their way into the office to witness my shame. Even my boss chimed in, asking me if FedEx-ing soap was one of the skills taught in the master's degree film program at Syracuse. An hour later, the location manager came back in. Seeing me still on the floor at my task, he said "Ah, I see Ol' Soapy is still at it!" To my chagrin, a nickname was born.

Eventually, 300 boxes were packed and sent to 300 recipients who will throw the jacket in the back of a closet, give the hat to a child, and toss the soap in the trash. Crew gifts are Reason #87 why it costs $10 to see a movie. To all my friends who think my job is cool...I told you so. Welcome to the glamorous world of movie production!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Brief Post

This isn't really worthy of a post, it's more like a postette. But it made me laugh so hard that I have to share it. This is the TV listing for a show on the kids' network Boomerang from today:

2:00 - 4:00 PM.... No Undies Mondays
Cartoon shorts featuring characters that do not wear pants.

How can you make a living at comedy when people insist on giving it away for free?