Monday, October 31, 2005

October 31 Part IV

I'm like a restless, tempramental racehorse in the starting gate.

I want it to be midnight NOW.

Oct. 31 Part III

Most of November is set for Circadian and ready to upload. Most of December is actually set, too, but not ready to upload. Wrote three essays and started a fourth for various sites that need them in the coming days. I’m trying to get as much done ahead of time as possible so I can focus on The Fix-It Girl.

Nine pages on Never Too Late, bringing me up to 55,250 words.

Tomorrow, the bars will be flipped to put The Fix-It Girl on top, but, for today it reads:

Never Too Late – 55,250 words
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
55 / 90

The Fix- It Girl – 0 words (of NaNo goal)

Zokutou word meter
0 / 50

The Fix-It Girl – 0 words (of completion goal)

Zokutou word meter
0 / 100

Oct. 31 Part II

If you're interested in Samahain and Tending the Dead, check out today's entry on Kemmyrk.

Monday, October 31, 2005
Dark of the Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and mild


In spite of the need for today being a busy, productive day, today is also the day to take stock of where I am and where I need to go; to get rid of what I no longer need; to figure out where I went off the rails in the past year and get back on track. A time for reflection and planning for the future. Today is the final harvest of the year. I have a lot for which to be grateful. And I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Check out the buffet of Halloween treats over on Circadian Poems.

I’m very excited that, at midnight, we can start NaNoWriMo. I’m ready. I know how much I need to do each day to hit the minimum, I know how much I want to do to reach my goal.

The Fix-It Girl will be approximately 100,000 words, so hitting the NaNo goal this month will mean it’s half way done. I’m going to run two bars for it – one for NaNo, and one for the completed piece.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to work on Never Too Late lately, I don’t want to simply shunt it aside completely. I do want to continue with it. I’d like to do a page every day if I can, just so that I don’t completely lose the thread of it. I’ve come so far with it; I don’t want to lose it.

Once NaNo is done, I have to figure out which piece is a “primary project” and aim to write 1000 words per day on it. Then, I’ll do whatever I can on one or two “secondary projects”. This way, the main focus (outside of the paid assignments) will always be on one major piece and I can start finishing projects. The unfinished projects are taking up far too much energy. I can’t sell it if it’s not finished, and I can’t disperse my energies in a hundred small directions and expect to get anywhere.

I’ve met some really great people through the NaNo site, and I look forward to doing the work with them in the coming months.

I think The Fix-It Girl will be both fun and has the potential to be a decent sale. I’m going to focus on the point of NaNo – getting the words on the paper. Once the draft is completed, I will have to go back and fact check and do some more research on the period. I’ve done some preliminary research, but nowhere near what I should have – I couldn’t, with the hours spent on set. So, in the second draft, I’ll have to go back and fill in the political and social context and more tangible detail.

My preferred way to write and revise works something like this:

First draft: spill it out as quickly as possible, so that I don’t lose the momentum.
Second draft: overwrite; fill in; explore every possible tangent and see what works.
Third draft: cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.
Fourth draft : has the cuts in it; this is the draft sent to my Trusted Readers.
Fifth draft: take the notes that feel right and work them in.
Sixth draft: machete time again; cut and tighten.
Seventh draft: final polish and out.

Writing the serials, I could --and was forced to -- compress the process, but the above is the way I prefer to work. That is what results in the best, tightest work.

So I’d better get moving – there are essays and articles to write today, submissions to get out. I have November chosen for Circadian, but I need to set them up so that I can simply upload.

And tonight, Tending The Dead begins (a combination of Celtic ceremonies and the Days of the Dead).

In other words, it’ll be closer to 3 AM than midnight when I start NaNoWriMo.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Oct. 30 Part II

My mind wandered.

Unfortunately, it left the rest of me behind.

Huge neck and shoulder pain does not help. It feels as though the injured shoulder has slipped forward in the socket again and is rotating incorrectly. Just what I need.

Or maybe I’m just empathizing with my mom’s injury by my injury flaring up again.

Worked on the FemmeFan article a bit, but it’s not finished. Worked on the two essays I need to do, but can’t focus. Tried to read some submissions – but one, in particular, I tried three times and couldn’t get past the third paragraph. I will try again tomorrow; I don’t want to do it a disservice because I’m overtired.

I’m about to fix a pork dinner and create an apple and parsnip stuffing to go with it. And spinach.

I’m definitely moving web hosts this week, which will mean some chaos on the DE site; hopefully it will clear up sooner rather than later.

I’m trying to get everything lined up for NaNoWriMo. I have a special altar set up just for the project. I have my notes ready to go. I’m going to do a double word meter for it – the words in relation to the NaNoWriMo goal and the words in relation to the completed novel goal, which is about double the NaNoWriMo goal.

I’m working on my Christmas lists -- gifts, postcards, stuff to make, etc. The overseas whatevers have to go out by Thanksgiving. The rest by Dec. 12.

Working on the blog swap list for NaNoWriMo. Hoped to put it up today, but I think it will be tomorrow.

Getting ready for the Samhain festivities tomorrow.

I should have worked on the November set-up for Circadian, but my shoulder and neck hurts too much. I think I’m going to have to break down and take something for the pain.

It was such a gorgeous day that I took a walk on the beach and took a bunch of photographs. It’s warm and sunny and gorgeous. It was a nice – and necessary – treat.

And then, hopefully, I can at least finish the FemmeFan article tonight.

Since it should have been finished last night.

Tomorrow, as part of Samhain, I’m going to do some serious reflecting on what I need to do to reach my goals and how what I currently do is not meeting them.

But, tonight – it’s all about pain relief.


Sunday, October 30, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Direct (as of last Wednesday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I’m back, I’m wrapped, I’m exhausted, and everything hurts.

There’s a special poem by my friend and colleague Pamela K. Taylor up on Circadian poems today. Please check it out when you get a chance.

And check out my friend’s new blog: Costume Imp.

My pre-Breeders’ Cup is up at FemmeFan, but, since the BC was yesterday, you might as well wait until the wrap-up article goes up on Tuesday. I have two essays and an article to write today, plus today and tomorrow are my last days to work on Never Too Late until after NaNoWriMo starts.

Also, either today or tomorrow, I will put up a special set of NaNoWriMo links up just for the month – if you get a chance to check some of them out in the next 30 days, please do so.

I’m eager to start work on The Fix-It Girl on Tuesday.

Anyway, to fill you in on last week:

L.L. Bean came through. My coat arrived at ten minutes before ten, and I was able to get on the 10:26 train to get to work. I was so happy that I frightened the Fed Ex man, who tossed the package in my direction and ran away. I called LL Bean to thank them. The coat is great – and boy, was I grateful for it.

I indulged myself by taking a cab from the train station up to the show – I had a lot of luggage and the weather was dreadful. Day work was fine, although I felt completely detached. I got the work done, which is the important thing. I dropped my stuff off at my friend’s.

Then I headed down to Greenwich Village early. I was so happy wandering around down there. Just . . .plain . . .happy. In a way I hadn’t been for a long time. I even looked at an available apartment on MacDougal Street, and had to remind myself that I’m trying to get away from city life. But a Greenwich Village apartment is still tempting, even if the price is prohibitive, it’s too noisy, and I wouldn’t be able to get the work done. The Greenwich Village as a haven for poets and writers is long gone, I’m afraid, except for those with hefty private incomes.

I went to one of my favorite stores on Christopher Street, called Stick, Stone, and Bone. I found a great thank-you gift for my wonderful host, and a few items to set up for my NaNoWriMo altar. I also restocked on incense – my supply is severely depleted. Walking a bit along Bleecker Street, I stopped at a cigar store that also sold beautiful aromatherapy candles. I got a large pillar candle for NaNoWriMo, for harmony, that smells like basil and lime – heaven. The proprietor gave me a discount on it because “you smile on a rainy evening.”

I met my friend J. at Le Figaro Café, on the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal. During my college years and beyond, I spent many, many hours scribbling stories, diary entries, scripts, letters, and more in that café, drinking either wine or coffee.

Tonight, behind me sat a table of pretentious men talking in loud voices about television – making it painfully obvious how little they actually knew about the business. Since I’m working on the shoot of a television pilot, it was particularly ironic.

All the corner places on that block change frequently, but Le Figaro has been there since the 1960s. I hope it stays for a long, long time. It’s one of my NYC sanctuaries.

At one point, the annoying men behind me started calling me “Mrs. Peel”. If you don’t get that Avengers reference, bone up on your 1960s television. Finally, I turned around and said, “That’s right, sweetie, which means I can kick your asses without smearing my make-up or breaking a nail. So leave me alone.”

They shut up.

When J. showed up, we headed a block or so east on Bleecker to a Spanish restaurant – whose name escapes me right now. We had a lovely paella dinner and drank a bottle of wine with dinner. I hoped that Wednesday morning’s early shoot would be called on account of weather, but no such luck.

Which brings me to:

Up at 4 AM. Had a long wait for the subway, and barely made my 6 AM call all the way up in Spanish Harlem.

We had 85 background today, 50 of whom were children. The person hired to help me with them today made my job ten times harder with a bad attitude, refusal to hustle at all, no sense of responsibility towards the work, not even an attempt to assist with the continuity, wandering off when needed, and arguing when I asked her to do things. There were some major, major, major flaws – but I simply could NOT run around catching and fixing all of her mistakes. It was physically impossible.

Also, we had kids in short sleeves because we were shooting summer in 40 degree weather. Which meant before every shot, we had to run around and grab 50+ coats.
It would have been nice if I hadn’t had to carry 40 of them by myself each time. The DP nicknamed me “The Coat Maven.”

No matter how difficult, ultimately, the responsibility for the mistakes rests with me, because I’m in charge of the BG. I was absolutely beside myself by the end of the day. Knowing that I would have fired me, if a person I hired had been responsible for the mistakes that were made today. I even offered to take myself off the shoot. My boss, however, said that of course I was coming back, and mistakes happen and we do the best we can.

One of the mothers was horrible to her daughter – the girl wasn’t doing anything wrong and there was absolutely no reason to call her a “fat, lazy slut”. You don’t do that to a teenage girl. Some parents left their kids on set and wandered off – the company had to track them down and remind them that we are not a daycare service, and that, legally, the parent has to be present AT ALL TIMES. The company had to threaten to pull some kids and send them home (which means no paycheck) unless the parents came back.

There were a couple of positive moments in the day – with the emphasis on “moments”:

After about the 75th time I took one boy’s coat, he asked me, “Do I have to give you a tip at the end of the day? ‘Cause I need to call my dad for some money.” I told him, no, no tip was necessary, but thanks for the thought.

Another skinny little boy literally ate all day. He must have had at least twelve bowls of soup, and I don’t know how much of anything else. He walked back to the truck with his arm linked in mine telling me “Thank you. I had the funnest day ever. I don’t wanna go home.”

I picked up Chinese food and a beer on the way back to my friend’s place. I looked so pathetic in the restaurant that they opened the beer for me right there so I could start drinking while I waited.

I was as happy to see my friend’s cats as they were to see me.

Somehow, I managed to be dressed all in deep shades of green today. Getting in touch with my Inner Tree, I guess.

It’s pretty sad when getting up at 4:30 AM constitutes “sleeping in”.

On the subway back up to Spanish Harlem, there was an older, very overweight man, with his pants unzipped. At first, he seemed to be asleep. Later on, he’d get up and, on purpose, run headfirst into the subway poles.

I was glad to get off the train.

We had to match 20 of the kids from yesterday, which took some time. And, since the kids had to bring a change for another scene, two of them misunderstood and changed too early, so that held things up. Plus, the asst. designer who hadn’t been there to check kids in yesterday wanted to move faster, and got mad at me when I was polite to the kids. I’d rather take my time and do it right and I’m not going to be rude to them simply because they’re BG.

The BG was used in smaller groups today than yesterday, so I was mostly off the set, in holding with them. I got to talk to one of the kids brought in for the street hockey scene – he’s been an ice hockey player since he was 3. So we had a few good hours to talk hockey. And I spent some time talking with two of the stand-ins – who I really like – about the state of the country, politics, the upcoming holiday, and, believe it or not, NaNoWriMo. A group of one of the SI’s friends do it every year. So that was pretty funny.

Then, one of the featured BG from yesterday didn’t come back today and we had to match the shot, so the company had to track down the kid, the mother and do whatever it took to get them back on set.

It happened, but it cost us time.

And we were losing the light. It’s fall. The days are getting shorter.

And we were shooting summer.

Then there was chaos with a missing coat, which was eventually found, even though we all were looking for a different coat. Someone somewhere had not described it distinctly enough for us all to be on the same page. But we got there eventually.

It wasn’t as bad a day as yesterday, but I was ready for it to be OVER.

More Chinese food. And TWO beers.

And I hand-fed one of my friend’s cats because she was hungry, but wouldn’t eat when it was in the dish. So I fed her, kernel by kernel.

I didn’t have to be on set until 10:30 AM – what luxury. AND we were shooting down in the Village, in Washington Square Park. More coat-pulling, but these were adults. Whiny adults, but adults. We shot near the dog run, which was great, because I got to play with dogs coming and going in between shots.

We shot most of the afternoon in the Village, then moved up to Chelsea and broke for lunch. Most people would call it dinner time, but it was lunch for us. And then, after a few more bits and pieces, I was done! I helped restock, waited for my check, said my goodbyes, and off I went.

I walked back up to Hell’s Kitchen – I wanted to stop at Old Navy and buy those Halloween pajamas I’d set my sights on two weeks ago. Of course, all that was left, were the pants in XXL.

A disappointment, but, in the scheme of the universe, being denied a pair of Halloween pajamas is hardly a big deal.

I went back to my friend’s place – and the cats had been busy. Things tipped over, mats rolled, dishes everywhere, everything off the towel rack. I cleaned up. The cat I hand-fed yesterday flung her dish at me when I wouldn’t do it again, the spoiled little princess. I cleaned up, packed the rest of my stuff, and headed back to the train.

Artie is the best host in the world, and I had a wonderful time with him and with the cats, but it was good to be home.

And then I had to deal with my cranky kitties.

Hit the ground running. Made/ate a birthday breakfast with my mom. Ran errands – grocery shopping, post office, etc. Went on a mission to buy lamps – didn’t, because everything I saw was so unbearably ugly I don’t want it in my apartment.

Breeders’ Cup all afternoon. Plenty of upsets. Good racing. Very cold (thank goodness for body warmers and foot warmers strapped on – the positive aspect of wearing a sweater dress is that I could fasten the body warmer to the camisole under the dress and it wouldn’t ruin the line of the dress).

Immediately after horse racing, off to the Islanders-Sabres hockey game. Looked like the Islanders would do it, but Buffalo ended up winning. A plus was that I saw one of my 2003 draft players, Robert Nilsson, score his first NHL goal (for the Islanders).

I was wrecked by the time I got home, and it was hard to get up this morning.

I still have clocks to turn back and writing to do.

And a lot to think about.

Except for two days, I had a good time filming the TV pilot. But it made me realize how the choices of my life are in direct conflict with the needs of this kind of production. I want to live my life mindfully, and production is all about rushing, rushing, rushing and stress, stress, stress. That is not how I choose to live my life.

I have to figure out how to match the income I’d make by, literally, killing myself with stress, by doing what I love to do.

A lot to think about for next year’s Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions.

And now . . .

To get my life back in order. It’s been sorely neglected for the past three weeks.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

It felt very much like a hurricane last night. Earlier this morning, the temperature was dropping, the rain tapered off, and it smelled like snow. But now, the rain’s whipped up again full force.

I am not looking forward to going out in this.

That’s another reason I want to leave this frigging business: Enough with “the show must go on.” I’m no longer willing to risk my life venturing out in effing hurricanes so a producer can make money.

Let me point out that I have to head out to the show, not the pilot today. We’re not shooting the pilot today, and, if the weather keeps up, there’s a good chance at least they will be sane enough to reschedule tomorrow.

Or not.

Published the week’s worth of Circadian last night. I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of October!

Yesterday was a happy, good day: in spite of unpacking, repacking, laundry, trying to catch up on way too much email, etc. I roasted a chicken and created an absolutely delicious parsnip-carrot stuffing. Served with mashed potatoes and other fall vegetables, it was a good, good meal for a cold, rainy day. Then I boiled down the bones with onion, celery and parsley for stock.

Paid some bills this morning, moved the car to higher ground in case the brook overflows (we have a repeating motif here), etc.

Last night, I got to carve a pumpkin, for the first time in several years. Um, next year, I’ll invest in the carving kit. The kitchen knife wasn’t the best choice. But I have a cute, jolly pumpkin that even the cats like.

Fed Ex better not screw up, and my barn coat better arrive before I have to run for the city. I might blog at some point in the week, or I might be offline until next week.

Who knows?

No one.


Oh, and Roman Ruler got injured and is out of the BC Sprint on Saturday. There goes my exacta.

Oh, well.

Have a good week, everyone, and stay safe.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Part II

Okay, I shouldn’t be doing this right now, but I am anyway. I was tagged by somebody to do the Three Things thingy – here it is:

Three Names You Go By:
Um, in life or in work?

Three Part of Your Heritage:

Three Things That Scare You:
The disconnect and corruption in our current government
The choice of ignorance

Three of Your Everyday Essentials:
Pen and paper (counts as one!)

Three Things You’re Wearing Right Now:
Eye of the Ice Dragon pendant (from Scotland)
Maroon corduroys
A thermal shirt with a body warmer heat pack attached (hey, I just got back from location)

Three Favorite Bands or Musical Artists:
Ani DiFranco
Patti Larkin

Three of Your Favorite Songs:
“Four Stone Walls” by Capercaillie
“Walking in the Woods” by Elvendrums
“Flick it up and Catch it” by Jim Sutherland

Three Things You Want in a Relationship

Two Truths and a Lie
I was born in Massachusetts
I smoke
I love to play the ponies

Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex that Appeal to You:

Three Favorite Hobbies:
Poking around thrift shops
(Note: I consider anything related to reading or writing, including travel and photography as part of my work)

Three Things You Want to Do Really Badly Right Now:
(maybe not in that order)

Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation:

Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
Learn to play the piano
Own a house with enough land for my beasts
Own a racehorse

Three Ways You are Stereotypically a chick/guy:
I hate mice when they’re running around near me and I climb on the nearest piece of furniture and let the cats deal with it.
I’ve managed to break out of the other clichés.
I think. You’d have to ask my friends.

Three Things You Do Daily:
Care for the cats
Yoga should be on that list, but I sometimes let it slide!

Monday, October 24, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Alpha and some other kick ass weather-something are all supposed to converge on NY tomorrow.

When I have to haul around a suitcase.


Needless to say, next week’s shooting schedule may well be tossed into the air and rethought – we may not be able to shoot outside on Wednesday.

I’ll know by the end of the day tomorrow. And I just have to have patience.

Which, of course, is always a struggle.

So Bush is angry and frustrated at his lack of popularity, eh? Well, honey, if you didn’t make so many dumbass decisions to benefit your friends and screw the American people, maybe the people who actually do the work that makes this country run on a daily basis wouldn’t have such a low opinion of you!

Yesterday was a long, cold day out in Long Island City. Several of our background were late and then complained that they couldn’t stop to eat before going on set; one kept boasting that she was a friend of the producer’s – needless to say, she was the most difficult and uncooperative of the bunch; some had never done background before and brought things like red and pink. You’re supposed to blend in, you’re background. We had drivers and walkers scheduled to come in at 1:30 and hookers, pimps and drug pushers scheduled to come in at 5. So, of course, at quarter to four, the director decides he just has to have two hookers in the shot he’s setting up. The “hookers” were all bringing their own clothes and we had nothing on the truck, but we grabbed two ladies, figured something out, slipped a blouse off a shoulder here, pinned a tacky brooch to show some cleavage there, some fishnets, added some seriously odd plastic jewelry, and got ‘em back on set for the shot. And in between every take, I dashed over to throw a coat over them and give them a chance to use the hand warmers.

Nothing like someone else’s creative inspiration to make you freeze your ass off.

Seriously, though, there were some gorgeous shoots using the camera on the crane, starting along the elevated subway tracks and then panning down to the street. The look of this piece is quite wonderful. And it’s a good group of people with whom to work: creative, intelligent, and nice people. Not pretentious. That makes a huge difference.

However, I was still very glad to get back on the van and get back to Artie’s by about 11:30.

I eagerly anticipate the arrival of my barn coat tomorrow. It’s going to be a hell of a cold winter – and it’s already starting.

Today, I need to unpack, do laundry, repack for the week, and maybe, maybe get some writing done.

This is the last week of the shoot, the last big push. I may be able to blog, if the shooting schedule changes. Or, after a short post tomorrow, I might be offline until the end of the week.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Cold and cloudy

Busy day yesterday. Got the article out to FemmeFan for Breeders’ Cup. Shopped, cooked, and got everything prepared to my mom’s fridge and freezer are stocked for next week. Unpacked bag from the past few days, repacked for tonight. Caught up on some email, dealt with some – though not enough – of my writing world responsibilities.

Pretty much the only yoga I could manage was the corpse pose.

Ordered a barn coat from LL Bean, because next week, I don’t plan to freeze my ass off on location. LL Bean called all their shippers, and Fed EX SWORE it would be here on Tuesday before 10:30 AM. My train leaves at 10:46 AM. I don’t entirely believe them, but LL Bean tends to be reliable, and they’ll make it right if Fed Ex screws up. I told them that, under no circumstances, were they to use UPS.

The guy who helped me also wrote down the name of the show, so that he can watch it when it airs.

Nothing interesting to say. I’m exhausted and my neck hurts. I am so looking forward to my acupuncture appointment in mid-November (the earliest my wonderful person could book a double for my mom and myself).

Gotta run and catch the train, zip across town to drop off my overnight bag and zip back across town to meet the courtesy van for the drive to Queens.

Hopefully, we won’t be shooting all night and I’ll get a little bit of sleep before heading back home tomorrow.

I have A LOT to do tomorrow to prepare for the rest of the week.

And it would be nice to get some writing done. My characters in NTL are feeling abandoned, and, once NaNoWriMo starts, it’ll get even worse. My minimum on Fix-It Girl to achieve the goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month is 7 pages per day; my personal goal is 10 pages. The piece itself is going to be 100,000 words, not 50,000, but NaNoWriMo should give me a firm foundation for it.

I’ve been working on my Christmas list – after all, the overseas stuff has to go out the day after Thanksgiving.

I need more hours in the day. Preferably a few of them for sleep.

Happy Sunday!


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and COLD

Back home for just a few hours. I was held over on set for an extra day, which means I didn’t get home yesterday.

Friday’s poem is up on Circadian today – although it took a good damn while, since Blogger wasn’t publishing properly this morning.

I am so tired I am practically shaking, but I’m so overtired that I can’t sleep.

So. . .

Thursday, I went in to the show early to do day work. There was a put-in, and ten minutes in the company of chorus girls and I was ready to kill them all. Usually, my tolerance level is much higher, but not when I’m this tired.

On the way in to day work, I had a confrontation with a stupid tourist woman near Rockefeller Center. There’s a homeless veteran in a wheelchair who frequents that neighborhood. He’s a perfectly nice guy who fell on hard times. So this stupid tourist bitch from Podunk in her Wal-Mart special physically tries to shield her daughter’s eyes from the man, and glares at him with revulsion as they pass. How dare she behave that way?

So I stopped her. I told her how disgusting she was and that she was part of the reason this guy was on the street (she had Bush-voter written all over her), and she certainly wasn’t any better than the man in the wheelchair. I told her I bet she went to Church every Sunday and thought of herself as a real Humanitarian – yet she couldn’t even treat this man as a human being. What kind of example is she setting for her kid? And that, someday, it might be her. I loathe people like her.

The same way I loathe parents who throw fits about what’s taught at their children’s schools – they don’t want their kids “exposed” to certain types of thought. Now, a kid should be exposed to as many types of thought as possible – and then the parent sits down and discusses what’s been taught in school and explains how the family’s values may differ from what’s being taught in school. If a parent is so terrified of what other views a child is exposed to, that parent must know the views he/she holds are faulty and intolerant. Otherwise, the parent would be secure enough to know that he/she is setting a firm enough core for the family that the kid won’t be unduly influenced. And for parents who claim “not to have time” to keep up with what their kids are doing in school? Guess what? It’s part of the deal of parenting. You make the time. Or don’t have kids.

I see more bad parenting come out of the suburbs and rural areas than ghettos. More chosen ignorance and intolerance and fear of other points of view.

Again, it’s becoming more and more obvious that I have to leave the US.

And our union is screwing us on health care – again. Third time this year. The point of being in a union is to be a part of an organized labor organization that advocates a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and offers good health care. Our union is deteriorating into something that is more concerned with pretty balance sheets and aiding and abetting in the anti-labor policies of the current administration. It’s disappointing. I busted my ass to help negotiate the last contract, and now the people with whom we’ve given the trust – and the name “Trustee” are screwing us. Time for me to move on.

The TV pilot shot in Greenwich Village today – one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. I have so many happy memories there. We shot in and around the Minetta Tavern. It’s a great neighborhood, but hell to shoot in – the level of disrespect shown by the passsersby – again, mostly tourists, not locals, was appalling. I know barn cats raised with better manners than these people. They obviously weren’t spanked enough as children, or ever told “no.”

There was a man walking around with a 14 pound calico cat sitting on his head and a kitten on his shoulder. Um, okay.

So, we had 26 extras there to be “Italian soldiers” – meaning working for the Italian family running this part of the neighborhood in the script. The casting people were told very specifically to instruct the men “No leather”. So what happens? Every damn one of them shows up in a black leather jacket. So we had to re-dress them in what we had on the truck. The older guys were nice. It was the younger guys with all the pomade in their hair who were pains in the . . . One guy, wearing an iridescent tie argued with us about a tie change. Guess what, buddy? You don’t get to choose. Another guy’s energy gave me the heebie jeebies, so I stayed away from him as much as possible.

One of the female extras called tonight was on Sunday night’s shoot – one with whom I’d had a lot of fun. So we got to chatter a bit, too.

A young writer/filmmaker from Toronto is also on set to observe – she’s a protégé of the director’s. She and the writer/producer and I had a good conversation about politics, creativity, moving to Canada, and the way Hell’s Kitchen has changed over the years.

Our very lovely producers brought us pastry from Rocco’s (a very famous Greenwich Village bakery) at 12:30 AM.

Our ever-lovin’ background guys were like kids when the prop guns were handed out. They were so excited about the scene running out of the tavern waving guns, getting into cars and screeching off into the night that, on one take, they ignored the director yelling, “Cut.” The principal actors stopped in their tracks (as supposed to when the director yells “cut”), but the BG continued running around waving guns and getting into cars and driving off, in spite of all the people running in front of them with megaphones telling them to stop.


I got to leave at 2 AM, when the BG wrapped.

And then I had insomnia.

Oh, a colleague on the street who reads the blog gave me a copy of Marion Davies’s autobiography as background for The Fix-It Girl. She was William Randolph Heart’s mistress during that era.

On Friday, after about two hours’ sleep, I rolled out of bed, dashed up to the show to pick up and cash my check. I’d hoped to buy some heavy-duty all-weather gear, like a barn coat, at a thrift shop, but they didn’t have anything. I’ve been borrowing barn coats off the truck. Oh, well. Maybe get something overnighted from LL Bean?

I had breakfast at the corner diner near Artie’s –they recognize me there now. Who says NY isn’t a neighborhood anymore?

I hopped the subway down to Canal and Varick (turned out I managed to miss a subway fire that shut down the whole system for hours by several minutes) to wait for the courtesy van. People kept coming up to me asking me for directions in Spanish and Chinese and then getting mad when I didn’t answer in their native languages. Now, I’m a five foot seven inch tall redhead. Do I look Spanish or Chinese?

We shot in a hospital way out in Brooklyn today. Part of it is still a functioning hospital. Part of it is an arts academy for kids. And part of it is rented out to film and television shoots – the money allows the hospital to stay open. Law and Order keeps a full-time set there.

We had to rush to dress today’s BG – yet hair and make-up were so slow that they were late getting up to set anyway. Then – we’d told casting to send over BG to play the extended family of the Irish family that are the protagonists of this piece – and they sent us African-American actors. So we had to reshuffle everyone to find enough people who could pass for Irish. I hid in the bathroom at one point – as a redhead, matching the woman who plays the mother (who’s an old friend from Broadway) – I was afraid they’d want to dress me up and put me in there. Casting people should know that “Black Irish” does not equal “African American”.

Can I just say that the guy who plays the protagonist of the piece is one of the nicest, most considerate actors with whom I’ve ever worked? He’s not a star yet – but he will be. He’s genuinely interested in every single one of the 150 people working on this project. His mamma brought him up well – the only young men I know (he’s 23) who are that considerate are hockey boys. It doesn’t matter how crazy things get on set – he’s calm, cheerful, cooperative, funny, and looking out for us all. One of the truly good ones – and that level of care and consideration for everyone on a project are rare in the business, especially in television.

I was wrapping the rooms of the actors who finished for the day – that means gathering up the clothes out of the camper rooms and bringing them back to the wardrobe truck so they can be prepped for the next day – armload full of garment bags of clothes. There’s no light in the street by the trailers and Prospect Park is to the other side. I hear scrabble, scrabble, scrabble in the wet oak leaves and then something heavy ran across my foot. An enormous rat. I didn’t scream, I didn’t faint. Most importantly, I didn’t drop the clothes. But I was shaking when I got back into the truck. I am less than fond of rats. Especially ones the size of small lap dogs.

Got back to Artie’s a bit after midnight. I had begged for Saturday off so I could write my Breeders’ Cup article for FemmeFan and get a few things sorted. Since they only have 20 BG today, my wish was granted.

Got up early this morning, caught a train out, and hit the ground running. Put my paycheck in the bank. The TV rate is so much higher than Broadway rate that the amount of taxes withheld from this check is almost equal to a full week’s take-home pay on Broadway. TV money is addictive – but the pace would kill me.

Did a major grocery shopping, so I can cook for my mom for next week, when I’m back on set. My mother – who feels frustrated and helpless from the doctor’s prognosis – cleaned both apartments and defrosted the freezers and cleaned all the floors, et al, one-handed, while I was gone.

I took some turkey stock from the newly-cleaned freezer, threw in onion, garlic, leeks, parsnips, organic baby carrots, celery, dandelion greens, fresh parsley, oregano and rosemary and made a big ole kettle of soup. I’m about to bake a chocolate cake. And then I’ll cook up some other things.

Next time I’ll get to blog will probably be Monday. I’m back on set tomorrow – we’re shooting on a rooftop in Long Island City, and we’ll work till we’re done. Then back home Monday morning to do laundry and pack for next week. Tuesday, I go back in and I won’t get home until sometime on Saturday. Next week is small, sticky children week.

I’d love to get some sleep today, but I’m so wired that I lie down and two minutes later, I’m back up.

Off to do the article for the Breeders’ Cup.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Frustrating day yesterday. Barely any creative work done. And not much of anything else. I caught up on business-y things – although I didn’t get out the materials I planned. All e-mail catch up.

Then, I decided to work on the text for the other site. Worked on the text, went to code and add the navigation bar – and, somehow, the Site Builder (which was NOT on) launched itself when I signed in to the site and put up gibberish. I managed to get it off, but all the coded pages are useless. I have the text – but I have to recode everything.

Then I thought, okay, I’ll just use the site builder to update the single page I have because I have important info that needs to go up. Site Builder tried to upload pages from a site to which I wasn’t even logged in to.

I am so frustrated and so over the Yahoo hosts. I’ve paid them for years and they give ZERO customer service or support, they don’t actually READ your questions, they read the headline and then give a standard answer. I’m seriously thinking of moving hosts. That doesn’t help me now – and I’m sure it would be a pain to do. Maybe I should just move the one site and get it off Yahoo and then Yahoo can’t try to upload all the material from either site. However, I’ve found hosts that offer better deals and I could move both domains to them for less money than I pay now for one. AND they offer more bandwidth AND they offer more e-mail addresses. That’s the other thing – I’m supposed to get 25 addresses with EACH domain package. I tried to add an 11th to ONE of them, and was told I exceeded my quota and I HAD TO BUY IT. You know what they can do with that?

I’m too cross and too tired to make a rational decision right now. I ran my frustrations past a friend who actually understands all this crap, and I’ll see what he advises.

So, um, Lost: Better than it’s been; still not as good as it could be. Would someone just bludgeon Ana-Lucia already? I loathe bullies, and that’s what that character is. They can’t make excuses any more – she bullied Jack in the bar last season, under the guise of flirting, and she bullies everyone now. There’s a difference between being tough and resourceful and being a bully. That character is a bully. I like Echo a lot, although I suspect they’ve signed his death warrant by Ana-Lucia telling Sawyer he’ll come back. Truly angry that the next new episode is three weeks’ down the pike. That’s bullshit, pure and simple. The first four, dragged-out episodes could have been two tight, suspenseful ones. And now they take a three-week break?

I might not be back in three weeks. Lost might have lost me for good. I respect the actors a great deal, but I’m frustrated with this season’s pace. I know that they’ve expanded the ensemble and it’s a challenge the juggle that many stories (I learned that the hard way with Clear the Slot), but they’re writing to draw it out now (the way they did at the end of the last season, where they didn’t fulfill their promises to the audience) instead of making each episode as suspenseful as possible. And, the schedulers are not respecting the audience. What they did last year doling out the episodes was hateful. But they get away with it because it’s a good show.

I know I’m complaining to the network, and I urge every other fan to do the same.

Gotta run for the train – day work on the show, then down to set. I won’t be back on line again until, hopefully, sometime tomorrow, but, who knows?

I did manage to do the research for next week’s FemmeFan article pre-Breeders’ Cup. It’s going to be a thrilling day – and since I probably wrap at 5 AM that morning filming, I’m going to be a wreck.

And Microsoft already corrupted a brand new disk for no reason. AND Blogger's not working correctly.

So sick of technology where you pay to do ten times the work you'd do otherwise.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

The Good News: Café Du Monde reopened in New Orleans today (one of my favorite places). Soon, I’ll be able to start ordering coffee from them again.

The Bad News: Hurricane Wilma is now Category 5 and headed for Florida.

Today’s poem is up on Circadian Poems. One of the exciting things, to me, about Circadian is that I’m getting submissions from all over the world. I love that. Poets from far-flung countries including the Philippines and Pakistan are sharing their work and their points of view.

My first contribution to The Scruffy Dog Review Blog is up. Wednesday is my regular day. It was fun to write. I ended up having to split it into this week’s and next week’s entry because it got a little . . .long. I had more to say than I thought! Funny how that happens.

Yesterday was tough. My mom got bad news from the orthopedist. She may never get the use of her arm back. Since she’s right-handed and it’s her right arm, this is a problem. It’s very upsetting for her. I suspect they’re writing her off because of her age, and I am not willing to accept that. She will start PT shortly, and I am taking her with me to my acupuncturist – we’ll do double sessions for the next few months. When I had a dislocated shoulder, acupuncture was the only thing that helped, especially as far as pain management.

I desperately need to go for acupuncture, because now my pain has gotten out of control – still from the shoulder injury five years ago, and also severe neck and shoulder pain from the current work.

Chronic pain is exhausting because it interferes with your thought process and drains your life force. Your tolerance builds up to a certain point and it becomes a dull roar. And then the pain increases and you start all over again. I’m hoping a good long yoga session later today will help.

It also means a slew of medical bills coming my way – and the work booked for November has been cancelled. So now I have to scramble for work. That’s the part that sucks about freelancing – I can never count on money coming in regularly. I know how much I have to earn each month – and, trust me, because of where I live, I need to earn in a WEEK what most families of four live on for a MONTH in other areas of the country. But I can’t COUNT on anything.

I can’t hustle work right now, either, because in my line of work, when something opens, you have to take it NOW – not in two weeks, but NOW. And I can’t start anything for two weeks.

Something will come up. It always does. I’ll put out some calls. And one of the guys on the crew with me on the pilot works a lot on the various series that shoot in NY and he said he’d recommend me for everything because he thinks I’m awesome, so I can probably pick up a good bit of additional work over the next few months. And, in our union, people help each other. They recommend each other. They want everyone to work.

It’s still stressful.

Day work was fine. Caught up with people, got some info I was looking for that had nothing to do with the show. Was so tired I could barely think, so it was good to get home and just collapse.

Misunderstood a gesture from a colleague – she meant it as a thank-you for work done, and I received it as a demand for additional work that I don’t have the time or resources to take on. Fortunately, we could actually talk and straighten it all out.

Spent some time on the NaNoWriMo boards. Most of the people are great. Some are not. But, if you’ve got several thousand people in a “room”, that’s bound to happen.

I’ve got some business to handle – sending in my rebate for my new phone, printing off articles for some editors, etc.

And then, hopefully, I can sit down and write.

Tomorrow will be a very, very, very long day – I’m doing my day work four hours early so I can go to set in the afternoon and shoot well into the night. So I’m going to be really confused by Friday.

It’s also becoming more and more apparent to me that my SO is right, and I need to think about moving from the US. The country is moving back towards a brand of intolerant fundamentalism that we haven’t seen since the Puritans in the 1600s. Health care sucks. And the discrimination against independent thought grows every day – no matter what protections are promised by the Constitution. I wouldn’t be an ex-patriot, either. I’d be an exile. Not something I want to be, but I’m hitting a point where there’s not much choice.

I really wish someone would reanimate the Founding Fathers – and Mothers -- so they could step in and kick some ass.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Last Day of the Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Muggy and cloudy

Yesterday was spent catching up – on the various projects, the mountain of email. Then, of course, because when it rains mail it pours mail, a packet of fan mail. I always appreciate the fan mail – it’s simply going to take me longer to respond this time around. So – if you’ve sent me a letter c/o one of my publishers recently – it will be awhile before you get your response, but I will respond as soon as I can.

Circadian’s feature today is an interview with poet, novelist and short story writer B.K. Birch, the founding editor and publisher of The Scruffy Dog Review.

In the stack of mail waiting for me was an invitation to the opening of a new jewelry store (huh?) and two political parties. By that, I mean parties thrown locally to meet current political candidates. I know I can’t go to the jewelry opening because it’s on Thursday and I may be filming. I might be able to go to one or both of the other receptions. Needless to say, I have some pointed questions for the candidates. I look forward to sharpening my quills in preparation.

I’m spending probably more time than I should on the NaNoWriMo forums, but it’s fun. Since I’m not working fulltime on B’way in November after all, I might actually get to do some of the meet ups. I’d love it. I want to meet some of these people. And I’m working on the special section of NaNoWriMo blogs that will be added to my links for the month.

I have a piece to write for tomorrow’s Scruffy Dog Review blog – I know what I want to say; it’s a matter of making the words line up properly.

I didn’t get any writing done yesterday that wasn’t directly connected to business-y stuff and catch-up. My total work on NTL during the days I was trying to write in and around set wasn’t as bad as I originally thought – because the bulk of it was written at Artie’s last Tuesday night before I started – 10 pages. With far too many placeholders. But my word count is up to 53,000. I seriously doubt I can finish it before NaNoWriMo starts, but I hope I can find a comfortable stopping point.

In any case, I’m rambling, far too overtired, and have to catch a train in to the city – I’m doing day work on the show today. But if everything works out happily, I’ll be home tonight and can get some work done.

Somehow, the front door blew open this morning. I shut it – and then heard mournful caterwauling from the other side. Elsa had gone to investigate the hallway and gotten locked out. So I hauled her back in – she’s very upset. And now she insists on hauling one of my tee shirts around in her mouth as she wanders the apartment.

It’s going to be a long day.

I scraped my hand on something on set and didn’t think anything about it, but last night it started to look ugly. I washed it out with hydrogen peroxide last night and found some ointment I bought in Europe. It’s much better. Going to the doctor before the piece wraps is not an option.

Off to – what am I doing today? I’ll figure it out when I get there.


Never Too Late – 53,000 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
53 / 90

Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Home for a few brief , shining moments. I’ve spent days being cold and wet. Thank goodness for my friend Artie, with whom I’ve been staying, for keeping a hot pot of stew in the crock pot, and all the extra towels.

It’s been a good experience, but everything is sore.

I’m glad I learn really fast.

Last Tuesday, of course, it began to rain as soon as I walked out the door. My mother was in a lot of pain and I felt guilty about leaving her, but I had to go to work and then stay in for the shoot.

The Fury Muse took over Never Too Late. My martini-swilling muses stepped back, and the Fury (in the sense of the Greek mythological Furies) took over. She’s a goddess of creation and destruction beyond even the warrior goddesses. I like it, although it’s very hard on the people around me. I’m getting better at seeming to function in this world while actually “writing” in my head. Which is how I spent most of day work. I was thorough, but I know the work well enough know that I can engage my mind elsewhere while only a small part of my consciousness and my body are actually doing the work. It’s sort of like a drug, though – you don’t want to drive or operate heavy machinery when a Fury is in charge.

I realized that I need to figure out the entire series. One of the things I’ve learned, re-reading the Harry Potter books in order several times running now, is how much she benefited from outlining the entire series and then writing it. So many little things connect in the various books, which is not something that happens when you discover as you go, but the book it should harken back to is already on the shelves and you can’t go back and put in a detail important to it all.

So I have to sit down and work out all 13 books in the overall scheme of where I want each character to go and how I want to get them there. I want to find overall themes. I want to find the theme for each individual book and see how it fits into the overall themes. I don’t want to imprison myself, but I need to plant seeds in the first book that might not fully bloom until the 13th.

I had dinner with a friend after day work, and we caught up on our various friends in common. Many people we know are at a crossroads – it will be interesting to see where we all wind up.

Got a call from my supervisor – tomorrow’s work switched from 85 small, sticky children to 40 adults, possibly getting shot.


Roo and Bast, my friend’s cats are just adorable, and so affectionate. I would have missed my cats terribly without them.

I forgot how loud NYC is.

On Wednesday, I woke up every two hours, but finally gave up and got up at 4:30 AM – only 15 minutes before I needed to. At that hour, showering quietly and opening the Coffeemate are challenges.

I trekked up to Spanish Harlem to the location and off we went, dealing with the background.

Background (extras) are called by the casting agent and given a call time, a location, and how to dress. One is always supposed to bring choices – most travel with a small suitcase – but some of them claim not to know this and wear what they want, whether or not it is appropriate to the scene. If that is the case, we take the sizes and pull something from the stock on the truck. Or, in the worst case scenario, we try not to use them, or tell the Assistant Director to keep them “deep” (not let them work close to the camera).

We shot in the monsoon-like rain, outside, on a construction site, so, very quickly, it was mud. My supervisor ordered up several boxes of raingear from a supplier and sent me down in a cab to get it (two hours round trip due to traffic and flooding ). By the time we all got dressed in it (the crew), we looked like a pack of Gordon’s fisherman. Unfortunately, I did not have the rubber boots and had to keep changing socks in an attempt to keep my feet dry.

One of my colleagues on the shoot, the PA with whom I work most closely, is up from New Orleans. He lost everything in Katrina. He has a backpack left. But he’s got a job here and is staying with a friend, and apartment hunting. He’s very good at what he does and really nice, so that’s a good thing.

The director is prepared, and the cameraman is very good, and that helps.

The work is not hard, but it’s physically demanding and you have to pay attention all the time. And it always takes awhile to learn a new system.

I was home in the evening in time to watch lost. Can I just say I despise the character of Ana-Lucia? The actress does a good job, but the character has alienated me so much that I want her killed off. No explanation they can come up with will justify her behaviour to me. There’s a difference between being a strong, tough, resourceful woman and being a bully. And she’s a bully in the worst order. Of course they’ll make Kate take her down, for the gratuitous girl-on-girl violence. Lost is starting to lose me.

On Thursday, I began to wonder if it would ever stop raining? It doesn’t seem that way. I’m glad I brought a second pair of shoes along, and I’m starting to wish I’d brought a third. Everything is in Ziploc bags, even my cell phone – the Ziploc containing my fortune cookie last night was just the right size.

I’m tired of the noise: construction; rap coming out of someone’s truck at 5 AM; listening to the drunks fighting on the street.

We shot inside today, down in the East Village, but getting to and from the location to the truck and/or holding (where they keep the extras) was a pain in the . . . .I also feel like I’m not getting enough information, but that’s often the case in this kind of work. I’ve found people who I can ask, and I can piece things together.

We shot scenes inside a bar – party scene flashback, then funeral scene (Irish wake). My Paddy in the coffin kept fidgeting – I’d straighten his suit before each take, and he’d fidget and be rumpled by the time the camera rolled. He was a very sweet man, but I kept scolding him, reminding him he’s supposed to be dead! I had another little old man who kept falling asleep between takes, and I had to fix his tie and adjust him before every shot. I think he liked the attention. They were a good group – about 40 of them – mostly nice people. You always get a couple of problem children, but, for the most part, they were very nice.

The actors in the leading roles are also very sweet – and one of the actors who plays a detective is an actor I worked with over 20 years ago off-Broadway! One of my favorite actors with whom to work. Better yet, he remembered me, and we had a good catch-up session between takes. I think he was pleased to see a friendly, familiar face from long-ago theatre days, too.

The big thing we worked on was the bar fight – with stunt coordinator, breakaway glasses, a rubber stool, the whole nine yards. The boys loved doing take after take of the fight. They thought it was the most fun ever. Of course, one of them got a little overzealous and picked up a real bar stool instead of the rubber one, but, fortunately, it was thrown on the floor, not on another actor.

One of the network producers who came in really pissed me off. A very sweet electrician set up a spare light pole for me and ran me a line so I could hand-steam one of the shirts being used in the fight between takes. The LA network guy walks in the room, takes off his soaking wet coat and tosses it over the light pole where I’m working, hitting me in the face with the jacket. I grabbed it and threw it back at him, saying, “No!” the same way I would scold a bad dog. I was willing to be fired rather than be treated with that kind of disrespect.

He backed down.

They kept me on an 8-hour day today, because of the tight budget, so I got to go home and relax in the early evening (with the commute it comes to a lot more than 8). I keep trying to write, because I can hear the Fury always there in the back, but I’m so physically and emotionally exhausted I can barely think straight. I just collapse onto the couch and let the cats sit on me before crawling in to bed around nine or ten at night.

On the way back, though, I swung by Wicked to get my check and bought some socks, underwear and a shirt, because they decided to keep me through the weekend. Thank goodness NYC stores tend to stay open late.

On Friday, I woke up with excruciating neck pain and felt nauseous. Not much I could do except take a hot shower and a lot of Advil and hope I didn’t spit up. My clothes were still wet from Wednesday.

Television moves so fast because of the tight budget that it seems a lot is sacrificed. Fortunately, the director and one of the producers co-wrote the piece and they have some truly kick-ass credits. The director is very prepared – there’s no shilly-shallying and indecisiveness on set, which I like. I can’t stand it when a director stands there and reconceives the piece because he didn’t bother to prepare ahead of time. This guy is very decisive, very prepared, and knows what he wants. He’s open to suggestion and experimentation, but keeps it moving.

My problem in this case is the nickel-and-diming by the network. If they are so interested in the project and believe in the creators so much, why are they trying to do it on the cheap? Put the money in and help it be the best it can be. Get rid of a dozen or so executives who stand around doing nothing but getting in the way and chatting on their cell phones because they think “quiet on the set” doesn’t pertain to them and put their salaries into the project.

As someone working on the production, I feel that there’s a sacred trust in helping the director/producer/writers bring their vision to reality. But, as always, networks look at money, and very few of them have creative capability if it’s not a number that can be crunched.

I’ve also been spoiled in many other experiences, because I’m used to being in on the creative end – and often being the one doing the scheduling.

I was so happy that there was a Dunkin Donuts right across from the wardrobe truck! A nice way to start the day (as though catering doesn’t feed us every few hours – they bring trays of food around the set, in case we can’t reach the catering table – and most of it is very good).

I snuck online last night and I’m pleased to see that people miss my blog. I certain miss my other life!

I stopped at Old Navy and K-Mart to buy a few shirts and some thermals to get through the weekend. I saw a pair of Halloween pajamas at Old Navy that I have to go back and buy. Too cute! And yes, I’m twisted enough to wear Halloween pajamas.

So, the background, who were recalled for today to match shots – some bits taking place in and around what we shot yesterday – some of them don’t seem to understand the concept of wearing exactly the same thing. Or matched shots.

Like someone on set said, “There’s a reason they’re background and not featured.”

One guy says to me, “Do I have to wear my sweater? It’s hot.”

I say, “We’re matching shots. You have to wear exactly what you wore yesterday.”

“But if it’s hot, wouldn’t he have taken off his sweater?”

I say, “That’s a director question; and, on top of it, since we’re not shooting in order, the shots have to match what we did yesterday.”

Another guy wore a different suit, because his “got wet” yesterday.

And what part of “wear the same thing” don’t you understand? And you obviously have a hair dryer – why didn’t you use it on the suit, or bring it to us to let us deal with it?

So we kept him deep. So deep you could only see his head.

And he was one who’d been pushing to the front at every opportunity the previous day.

Fortunately, there were “milling shots” with people moving around. Plus, even though I tried to match people to yesterday, the director kept moving them around, having them take off a jacket, do this, do that, so there’s very little continuity in that scenes.

Believe me, all those Polaroids I took yesterday came in handy.

One woman came to me terribly worried because Hair decided to braid her hair when she’d worn it long yesterday and scolded her when she protested. So we walked over to show the Polaroid and he had to stand down. We’re matching, people!!!!

Another woman came to me and said, “My coat was wet from yesterday. I didn’t like the way we were treated yesterday so I wore a different coat, hoping I’d be fired.”


Actually, by the end of the day, each and every one came up to me to thank me for being so nice to them and taking care of them, so it was all good. I do feel rather protective of them because they are mine.

And one of the leads locked himself accidentally into the bathroom of his camper, and wardrobe had to rescue him when we wrapped the rooms – or the poor guy would have been hauled to the next location and trapped overnight!

Saturday morning, I was up early, although I had a fairly late call. Artie left me a heating pad, so my neck was much better. We had time to go out and have breakfast together (buying him breakfast is the least I can do to thank him for letting me stay with him).

I was very twitchy. I called my supervisor, convinced I’d gotten the call wrong. She reassured me; then called me back, saying she’d gotten the call wrong and needed me earlier. I raced back up to Spanish Harlem, but the train was running express so I got there an hour early. Since I can’t do anything until I’m on the clock (we don’t work for free, people, and if you’re called at 2 and start work at 1, you don’t get paid for that hour)., I found a place to tuck away and write for an hour.

There’s a whole section in NTL that needs to be thoroughly worked out, with a lot of sensory details. And I’m just too damned tired to do it right now. So I put in some placeholders, and make several pages of notes on the overview.

However, once dropped back into that world, it was very hard to leave. The entire trip to the location was a running conflict between wanting to work on my own vision and being well-paid to work on someone else’s vision. It was very hard to get into “set head” and it left me depressed, frustrated and angry at myself for those feelings. After all, I am grateful to have this opportunity and want to do good, focused work. And yet – even though Chiron is now direct – I know that it’s not my soul’s purpose. And – Uranus Retrograde – I continue to feel that my place is no longer in the technical world. It’s an increase to the internal friction that caused the birth of this blog in the first place. And it makes me sad.

I have to rework my transition plan. The transition has to happen more quickly than it is. I’m not quite sure how yet.

And, not writing every day is taking its toll.

Then, I get to set and find out they wanted to cancel me, because they cut down from 66 background to 27. However, 25 or more, and they have to hire an additional (that’s what I’m called – “an additional”) and, if they’re going to cancel me, they have to let me know by 3 PM the previous day. Since they didn’t decide until 6:30, they had to pay me for today anyway, so there I was, on set.

This was not a nice bunch of background. Very sullen and cranky. And I was in no mood for that. When I say “Lose the gold bag and the necklace” – I mean it. Although I did get annoyed at the Asst. Designer, who told me to line them up for a look over, and then wandered off to get himself coffee. I knew he would be at least ten minutes, so I had them all line up – in chairs. I won’t have them standing around in line for no reason, especially not when some of them are elderly. I just think it’s disrespectful.

I want to be cooperative, but if I feel something is simply wrong as far as treatment of another human being, I’m not going to agree to it, or simply stand back and let it happen. You want a Yes Man or an Ass Kisser – someone else has to be hired. I’m not your girl.

Then, because we had to match shots to what we shot in the monsoon earlier in the week – first nice night in a long time and we had to bring in the rain truck. Gotta love the magic! So we were all in raingear again. And wet. Even though the weather was beautiful.

By the time I crawled back towards the train station late at night through Spanish Harlem, people were stopping me and asking me if I was lost, because, “we don’t get no white girls up here. Not at this hour.” They were all very nice and genuinely concerned with getting me safely to the subway, which I thought was sweet.

It’s also odd to be riding the subway again – I haven’t ridden it since before 9/11.

As far as sleeping Sunday – very little. Some jackasses with jackhammers worked across the street. So I kept calling 311 and filing complaints with the EPA – because not only were their work permits out of order, both the decibel level AND the time they were doing it was against city ordinance. The inspector kept showing up and having a screaming fight with them; they’d turn it off until he went away. A half hour later, they’d start up again; I’d make another call and it would start all over again.

All night long.

Then, I see, as I leave for the day, that the street is closed for filming. A film crew vs. a construction crew. That should be interesting. I can’t wait to hear what happened.

So I haul my suitcase and all my crap to the location – and there are no campers. It’s moved – but they didn’t tell me. So I call my supervisor, and it’s only a few blocks away, so I haul all my crap over to the new location.

Our holding area was the top floor of a furniture store. I kid you not. My “desk” to check in was a Queen Sized bed, and the extras sat on couches and in chairs until called to set.

One of the guys is someone who works on everything that shoots in NY – he resembles an older Denis Leary-type and he’s funny as hell and very sweet. It was a pleasure to have him on set.

And the writer/producer bought us all Happy Meals from the McDonald’s around the corner. Can you imagine? 150 Happy Meals out of his own pocket! It worked – we were all smiling.

We then had a pretty big location move and another set of background coming in. One of the new background is someone totally nuts – total whack job. I warned the PA about her – and then, of course, not only is she far more uncooperative than anyone, but she wants the PA’s number to give to a “friend” who she claims is an A.D. I warned him that he doesn’t want to be associated with her – she’s poison, barely works, and people who work with her tend not to be hired by anyone because one can’t risk that those people are as skill-free as she is.

The only reason she even got this background gig is because ten projects are shooting in NY and there aren’t enough background to go around right now.

Another background looked very familiar, and, once we’d dressed the six out of twenty people dressed inappropriately again and moved to the new holding area, she and I figured out I’d been her stage manager a million years ago in a repertory company downtown. Neither one of us worked there very long (long story) and we had a nice chat.

We shot in Harlem that night, another stunt sequence. Background was standing around for hours, and I kept giving out hand warmers and taping body warmers to their backs. Especially for the stand-ins, which stand around a lot.

They weren’t kidding, calling them “stand ins”. Also known as “B Team”. The actual actors are “A Team” and the stand-ins are “B Team”.

Any way, these hand warmers and body warmers are great. They’re little packs, and you take them out of the plastic, shake them and stick them in a pocket with nothing else in it (it’ll melt stuff). And you warm up. Or you tape the body warmer to the inside of you clothing (but not touching skin), and it gives you a warm patch. They work for about six hours.

And then they fed us Popeye’s Chicken at 11:30.

I was released at midnight, but there were still some extras around. However, my supervisor wanted to make sure I got the last train out, so she had a teamster drive me to the station.

My schedule said the train was 12:27. When I got to the 125th St. Station, on the board, it read that it was 12:35 on Track 3.

Well, at 12:30, a familiar looking train stopped on Platform 1. I asked the conductor what it was – and it was my train. I would have been stuck on the Harlem Platform until morning if I hadn’t asked.

Metro North bites. Big time.

I got home around 1:30 (I bet they were still shooting), puttered around and fell into bed.

Now, I need to catch up on my life and do laundry – the wet clothes from last week are starting to stink.

And I have to prepare for this week’s shooting – which might be two days, might be more, or might be nothing, depending on how much they tweak the schedule.

Of to try to catch up.

I missed blogging!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Packed and ready. I have day work on the show today, dinner with a friend, then off to the friend with whom I’m staying. I won’t know my call time or the location until later today; and, on top of that, if the weather is as bad tomorrow as predicted, the day may be cancelled and rescheduled.

I won’t know until probably 4 PM today what’s going on. That’s the way it is in this business.

Blogging will be sporadic from now until the end of the month. When I can, I’ll write.

What people who don’t do this for a living don’t understand is that it’s not like a regular job, where you work a few hours and then can do other things. Once a show is set, and you’re on an eight-show-a-week schedule, you can sort of have a life around it. Show times change around the holidays, but, for the most part, because producers don’t want to pay a dime extra, even if they’re making money hand over fist, you keep a pretty regular schedule. You work nights, weekends, and holidays, but you can have a life during the day and on your dark day.

Film and television are different. No matter how big the budget, they are still tightly budgeted and tightly scheduled and every department is busting their asses trying to get the job done within the set parameters. And you have to get it done – even if it means working overtime. If you’ve only got a location for two days, you have to get the work done in that period of time, or it costs tens of thousands of dollars. If a location is cancelled due to weather, that’s a huge budget problem, even if indoor work is substituted for the day.

Regular series has somewhat of a regular schedule, although the hours are still long.

But when you’re shooting a film or a pilot that’s not yet picked up – the hours are what they are. You have no room for any sort of life outside of working on the set, catching a few hours’ worth of sleep, and going back to work some more. That’s the way it is. People can do it because it’s for a finite amount of time. But, if you’re a working parent, your kids aren’t going to see you; if one of them gets sick, it’s not like you can take off. The other parent has to take off from the 9-5 world (most working parents make sure both parents aren’t working at the same time – they alternate projects), or someone else has to care for the kid. The work needs to get done, and your life is on hold. Completely. The only excuse not to be there is death, and it better be your own.

Civilians look at the gossip shows and all they see is red carpet, obscenely expensive gift bags and the yammering of the actors – who have plenty of time between takes, most of the time, to have a life. Plus, they can afford child care.

That’s not a slam on actors. When they come on set, they are required to sustain complete focus and continuity of performance to do take after take after take of something that may appear as mere seconds on film – or land on the cutting room floor in the editing process.

And, since films aren’t shot in chronological order, but in the best budgetary and location scheduling the production manager can coordinate, the actor has to maintain the throughline – often without more than a quick camera rehearsal.

Most films/tv pieces don’t have the luxury of a rehearsal process. While a play might rehearse for several weeks before moving into the theatre and adding the tech, film/TV usually has a read-through, blocking rehearsals, camera rehearsals and shoot. They might get a few hints from take to take from the director, but they don’t have the chance to craft a chronological performance.

Some films do take the time for rehearsal. I was fortunate – when my work’s been filmed, because we’re independent, we rehearsed for three weeks as though it was a play. Some of the rehearsals were shot on video. So, when we went on set – it was camera blocking and go. I feel it saved us a lot of both time and money.

But often, actors are scheduled for a day or two because they’re moving from project to project and CAN”T set aside a few weeks to rehearse – especially if they’ve only got a few scenes.

In order to actually bring you the film that surrounds the actors, it takes a small army of people, who have chosen to give up their lives for a set period of time in order to create the world for the actors and the audience to inhabit. They’re working on very little sleep, in extreme temperatures, making a lot of decisions on their feet, and handling the literally millions of details that comprise a scene.

It’s an act of creation and requires complete commitment and total concentration. For that period of time, the only thing that exists in their worlds is the work.

Next time you watch TV or look at a movie – remember that every single object on a set was chosen to be there because of a creative process. Unlike our own lives, where we accumulate sometimes randomly and then are surprised by our possessions, every single detail – every knickknack, every picture, every pen – is chosen by a set designer or an art director or a prop person or even the actor or director and has meaning to the piece.

And then the objects have to be tracked by continuity so that they match shot to shot. Sometimes those shots are taken weeks apart.

If you are unwilling or incapable of making that kind of commitment to the work, you won’t have a life in these arts.

That is why so many people who dream of a life in this business don’t end up here. They’re not willing to make the sacrifice.

How many of you can sustain unbroken focus for 18 hours in a day? No forays off to surf the net, no breaking concentration “just for a second” because something caught your eye or your thought of something that needs to be done? Your “just for a second” could result in a continuity error that could necessitate another take, which costs money; a reshoot, which costs even more money and heads will roll – including yours; or, if no one catches it until it’s screened, could cost the non-release of the piece. Some pieces are released containing errors – and the audience catches them.

We work with smoke and mirrors. We make it look easy. But it’s not.

One of the reasons I’m transitioning out of this business is that I want more of a life. Not a “normal” life – I’ve never wanted that. But a writing life, where I can make up every day as it comes. If I want to write for twelve or fourteen hours, I can. If I want to write for two and then go walk on the beach or go to a museum, I can.

I’m grateful for the career I have. I intend to enjoy every second of it that’s still left.

But my eye is on the horizon and I’m paddling towards The Island of Working Writers.

It’s hard to let go of Never Too Late. I played with titles last night – I can’t find something that hits just right. So, I have to stop trying to force the title and let it come. The right title will come when it’s ready to reveal itself. In the meantime – patience.

Something I have in short supply.

I wrote 23 pages yesterday – 5750 words. This brings me to 50,500 words, past the halfway point.

No matter how exhausted I am, I have to find ways to steal time so I don’t lose the rhythm. I’m not sure how or where yet – I can’t bring the work on set – but I’m hoping that, on the days away from set, I’m secure enough in this work, my connection to it is strong enough, that I can drop back in and take up residence again.

Until next time – which, if the shoot is cancelled, may well be tomorrow – enjoy! And think of the work that goes on behind what you see next time you turn on the television.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Never Too Late – 50,500 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
50 / 90

Monday, October 10, 2005

Oct 10 Part II

I tried to figure out why I’m so damned crabby today – I mean, there’s lots of great stuff going on, I’ve had a productive day, etc.

Then, I realized: I don’t want to leave the world of Never Too Late and have to concentrate on somebody else’s world for awhile.

I have to, but the writing’s going so well in that fictional world that the real world simply annoys me.

Thirteen pages today – which puts me over my estimated half way mark. I think I will get a few more pages done tonight, once I finish packing. I’ll update the word meter tomorrow.

I did a really wonderful ballroom scene and also a solid shape-shifting scene. I managed enough sensory details so I could feel the pain of the shift as I wrote it.

If you’ve never read Rosalyn Greene’s book The Magic of Shapeshifting, read it at once. It is one of the bravest books I’ve ever read. Much of what I learned from her comes out in certain sections of Never Too Late.


Monday, October 10, 2005
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Today is the launch of a brand-new ezine called The Scruffy Dog Review, which was founded by my friend and colleague B.K. Birch. She’s invited me to be an Associate Editor of the publication, and I accepted. My column on writing, “The Literary Athlete”, will appear in the publication, beginning with the January, 2006 issue. Regular readers of this blog and blogs linked to the right will also find some familiar names and wonderful work on the masthead -- including Colin Galbraith, Michelle Miles, Lara Stauffer, Angela Miller, Terri Dunham, E.L. Reedy, and Mark Vender.

We’re accepting submissions of poems, short stories, plays, reviews, articles . . .visit The Scruffy Dog Review to check it out and find the guidelines; also visit The Scruffy Dog Review blog right here on Blogspot.

Too much to do today and not enough hours in the day. Since I’ll be on location for most of the week starting tomorrow (I think I’m back home for a half day on Friday), I have to do all the packing, the housecleaning, etc. that needs to be done. Writing-wise, I’m in decent shape. I have my auto-response turned on (too bad my main Outlook Express doesn’t have one), Circadian is prepped for the month except for the last article which came in yesterday, which I will prep today, and I cleared all my deadlines. I have to print out some hard copies and mail them to editors, and I have to buy pens – I go through a box of gel pens in less than a week. I found a particular brand I really like – they flow well and write softly – but they don’t last long.

Never Too Late is going astonishingly well. Sixteen pages yesterday, and the only reason I stopped was because I couldn’t curl my hand around the pen anymore. Needless to say, I do not want to stop working on it. I’m taking it with me and hoping I can drop down the creative well for a few pages each night when I get back to my friend’s place from set. I’m hoping, if we have 5 AM calls, that we won’t always be working until midnight. But it changes moment-to-moment on set. If you get behind, you have to stay until you’re finished.

So – off to be a House Elf today and hope the scouring I do can last the week. Since I’m not much of a scour-er, that will be a challenge. Cooking, laundry and dishes are always kept up. The litter boxes are clean, the plants watered. The rest of it – it often is let go, because the writing is a priority.

Off to clean, pack, retrieve my mom for her appointments (she still can’t drive) and then steal time to write.

I have a lot to say about hockey – but it will have to wait until later in the day. Can I just say the new rules limiting the protection d-men can offer the goalie doesn’t make any sense? Let the D-men do their job, for crying out loud! And how about calling some of this goalie interference? Well, what do you expect, when the Commissioner is not only anti-labor but comes to the sport from basketball? Ick.

The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Circadian Poems
The Scruffy Dog Review

Never Too Late -- 44,750 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
44 / 90

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday, October 9, 2005
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not much flooding yesterday – a few yards and probably basements, but nothing major. The brook’s still too high for me to be comfortable putting the car back in its lot – hopefully I won’t get a ticket.

Also, hopefully, with the beefed up security and three arrests made so far in the subway bomb plot it won’t happen today. Or tomorrow. Or ever.

It just appalls me that every intelligence organization EXCEPT the Dept. of Homeland Security believes it is a credible threat, and no matter what ANYONE says, the White House won’t take it seriously.

And we wonder why 9/11 happened in the first place.

I had a lovely day yesterday, reading, writing, working on various projects. I needed it. This is my last weekend to myself probably until December, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible.

Fifteen pages of Never Too Late, bringing the word count up to 40,750.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
40 / 90

I’d like to finish it before NaNoWriMo starts, but I don’t see how I can write 50,00 words between now and November 1 while working on set.

I do love this project, though. I’ll have to be careful when I finally do get to marketing it, because “they” will try to compare it with other well-known projects, but I’m writing it because it’s unlike what’s out there, and it’s something I want to read.

I have apple corn muffins with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in the oven, so I better tend to them.

And then, back to writing.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Saturday, October 8, 2005
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Hurricane Tammy

The brook’s already at its top, so I moved the car to higher ground. Got rid of all the garbage and the recycling. Will fill the tub and pots and pans with water, in case we lose power. It should be an interesting day. If it’s already this high and we’re expected to get four more inches of rain today, I don’t see how we can avoid flooding.

Gotta love the department of Homeland Security. The FBI and international agencies received a specific date for the subway attacks here in NY – on or around October 9 – and our ever lovin’ federal government shrugs it off.

At Mayor Bloomberg said, “If I’m going to err in this, it will be on the lines of caution.” And he said (paraphrasing) that it’s different for an analyst sitting behind a desk in Washington than it is different than someone living here responsible for the lives of the citizens. Right on, Bloomberg! There are plenty of his policies with which I disagree, but he is committed to keeping EVERYBODY in NY safe – not just the highest earners.

On a grisly note – but interesting for writers – a body-snatching operation working out of funeral homes was discovered. Over 1000 corpses were dismembered and bits sold to a tissue bank in NJ – tissues and tendons and ligaments, etc. It is believed that very rarely did the families give permission – the bits were harvested during embalming.


On a happier note, I wrote 17 pages on Never Too Late yesterday (while cooking)-- 4250 words. Which brings my total to 37,000.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
37 / 90

I doubt I’ll get the first draft finished before NaNoWriMo starts, but I’m going to try!

And can I just say how much fun I’m having on the message boards over there? I have to figure out how to download the icon and add it in here.

Off to deal with the flood. Gee, thanks, Tammy! Remind me to name the next villains in my books Katrina, Rita, and Tammy.