Friday, August 29, 2008

My Fig Tree is a Fica

Fica means fig in Italian. It's also an Italian slang term for women who look and act like Paris Hilton. Fig leaves have been used for centuries by prudish church types to cover the goodie-bits of famous statues. Connect the linguistic dots...

Today I picked five pounds of figs off the tree in my backyard. Not only is fig juice harder to get off your skin than beach tar, it appears that I'm allergic to the sticky goo as well. I have an itchy rash all over my arms. So maybe there's another reason why fica has a second meaning...

I drove the figs over to my Psychic Friend who will turn the purple fruits into her Blue Ribbon-winning Caravan Fig Spread. I don't waste my apparently very expensive and fancy variety of figs by letting them rot on the ground, and my friend gets free food.

She informs me of something I already know--that she's giving a canning lesson to Ellen, a fellow exchange for a donation.

A donation? My friends are really too nice, which is why not many of them are rich. My Psychic Friend has problems charging money for teaching what she considers, "A life skill."

"Do you think $40 is fair?" I ask her. "Because that's what I'm going to tell people it costs to come over and assist your canning efforts. You can give them a free jar in return for their work if you feel guilty about opening your home to total strangers for $40."

So far, including myself, I've got 10 people signed up for her next "class." Canning is the new knitting.

But she insists on comping me the $40 class fee in exchange for more figs.

Was I complaining about figs? Figs are awesome.


August 30, 2008

Today I mailed my old eyeglasses to the Lions Club who will forward my very wacky prescription on to my eyeball twin somewhere in the Third World.

And by old I mean my glasses from college that I stopped wearing in the last century.

I hope there's not a time limit on random acts of kindness. I've only been thinking about donating those glasses since 1999.


August 31, 2008

I took the huge shipping crate containing my new bike (Yay! My bike) to the Bike Oven, my local bike co-operative, today for expert advice on reassembling it. I discovered two things:

1. A lot of guys who are into biking and neighborhood co-ops are really cute. I must file this information away to dispense to all my single girlfriends.

2. Bike fetishists (even the cute ones) are just like every other kind of geek--90% male and obsessed with gadgets and dragons. " that a Brooks saddle?" "Can I look at your disc brake assembly?" "That Shimano gear hub must have set you back a pretty penny. Can I touch it?"

It took me and Mr. Foxypants four hours of constant question and answering with all the guys working away on their own custom bikes to get my bike together. And, wow, is she adorable! I took her for a test ride around the block before biking home. Even the homeless guys on the corner whistled and shouted, "Hey! Cute bike!" Who care about having 8 gears and a hub-powered headlight when you've got the swankiest bike in the neighborhood? Yes. I'm shallow. At any rate, Harv, the resident guru at the Bike Oven was only going to charge me for three hours (they ask for a donation of $5 an hour for rent and community outreach) but I paid him for the full four hours and as my nice act of the day gave him a utility knife I'd brought from home to add to the community toolbox since they didn't have one on hand.

I'd really like to get my life together so I can learn how to be a bike mechanic and volunteer at the Bike Oven. Being a bike activist in Los Angeles is something to strive for...and not just because I'd be the lone girl in a sea of cute boys.


September 1, 2008

The production designer for one of my films emailed me out of the blue today. He just realized, two years after the fact, that he'd never received a DVD copy of the film which was part of his contract. He appealed to me for help in getting one from the studio. Since that film was a particularly miserable experience, made miserable by a power-hungry, yet talentless executive with not-so-secret director yearnings, he was hesitant to call the studio for his rightful DVD copy, as he was sure his call would be forwarded to the executive who never, ever failed to be totally abusive toward him. Naturally, since this is Hollywood where casual cruelty is a fact of life, this executive, whose middle name is Crotch, still has a job even though her lack of professionalism is legendary.

Did I call her? No. She is someone I don't mind badmouthing to anyone who asks, but I just didn't feel like being in a rotten mood today--which is the mood I'd be in if I called her because she is that ding dang unpleasant.

Instead I offered the production designer my personal copy, and instantly felt pangs of regret...or maybe OCD craziness. That DVD is physical proof of my work. It's evidence that I actually do work as a film producer, and not just pretend that I have that job description which seems to be a fib that's reached epidemic levels in Los Angeles County.

I hadn't actually seen the film since the premiere. The DVD was still in its original shrink wrap. Why was I bummed that I'd offered my copy to the production designer who actually will use it to update his reel and his website? It's a movie, not a sculpture. It's not like any of my films are so obscure that I can't walk into my neighborhood video store and rent a copy any time I want to watch them...which has happened exactly never in 20 years.

I fretted over my decision to give away my personal copy of my movie all the way to the post office.

But now, looking at the half inch gap on my office bookcase where that DVD used to sit, I'm elated. I did something nice for someone on my crew who worked really hard for me under thankless conditions. More importantly, this experience has opened my brain to the following thought:

I am a dinosaur. I'm the last generation of producers whose work will be seen mainly in movie theaters and not on the web, or a cell phone or an ipod. For me, the theater is the movie going experience. Watching a movie, in even the scrungiest theater, with a bunch of strangers who want to laugh and cry along with me in the dark will never get old. It's one of my very favorite things to do.

I don't know if I'd have had this recognition of what makes me happy about my job without the nutty preamble as to whether or not I should be stingy with a DVD.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can You Dig It?

A woman named Ellen from The Compact emailed me off-list today. She wanted my expert advice on how to compost. Which, funnily enough, is something that comes up pretty often with me. I guess I'm just really out about all the thrilling details of my life which include knitting, composting and training the cats how to act like dogs.

At any rate, I called her back right away. "OhmyGodI'msoexcitedIcandomyrandomactofkindnessrightnowandgetitoverwith," is what ran through my head as the phone rang.

It takes so little to get me excited these days.

Well, during the course of our scintillating conversation about the controlled rot of kitchen and garden waste, the topic of canning classes came up.

As it turns out, my psychic friend is also an state fair award-winning fruit preservationist. Or jamster. Or whatever you call someone who is an expert at making homemade jellies and pickles.

I hooked them up. Ellen is going over to my psychic friend's house for a "jam session" (cue the yacht rock) next week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stick With Your Day Job

I spent the day writing notes on a script written by a friend who used to be an executive. The company he worked for folded and he's spending his out-of-work time interviewing for jobs with fifty other applicants and writing a screenplay "that he's been thinking about since college."

He asked me to read his rough draft and give him suggestions.

I hope he finds a new job.

His script is terrible.

It's always shocking how bad scripts written by executives can be. Did all their knowledge about three act structure, and pacing and character development just fly out the window at the Starbucks they now call their home office?

But then look at all the horrible movies that get made. Maybe these studio executives turned writers never had any story sense to begin with?

I'm trying to be as constructive as I can with my criticism.

All seven pages of it.

I really want my friend to improve his script and sell it so he doesn't have to take a horrible executive job, just because there's no other work. I want to help him buy a little more time to find a really great job that he loves.

But there's no good ending for this favor.

Because what it boils down to is that I'm going to have to tell him that his script sucks. In the nicest, most positive way of course. And I have a feeling that my friend has no clue how truly bad he is at writing the screenplay he's been thinking about since college, which he called an "erotic cop thriller in the vein of SEA OF LOVE."

There are many problems with his script. For starters, anytime anyone pitches me anything using the words "erotic thriller" I immediate imagine what that person would look like naked. Don't ask me why my mind goes there. It just does, okay? Maybe I'm just a prude. Or maybe having to read screen description about a hard boiled female detective "cresting" in the back seat of her Crown Vic while having sex with the lead suspect really is embarrassing. Perhaps the biggest problem with pitching a script as an erotic thriller is that what he thinks is sexy is apparently very different from what I think is sexy.

Maybe my friend will be so mad about my notes that he won't ask me to read subsequent drafts.


August 20, 2009

Mr. Foxypants just announced that he will be taking the entire month of October off from work...

wait for it....

to go through the garage and all his earthy possessions and downsize!

And I didn't even have to be a nagging shrew to get him to this decision.

Since we moved into Dinky Manor in April I have been furiously purging stuff. I'd already gotten rid of 75% of my belongings before the move, but it's apparent now that we are in the house, that I am going to need to get rid of another 15% of my stuff in order to make everything fit into my one tiny, badly laid out closet and armoire.

Mr. Foxypants had a really short escrow on his old house and pretty much did not have the luxurious lead time to purge before moving like I did. He had the movers pack Every. Single. Thing. in his house. The partially used soap bar in the bathroom. Packed. 2200 record albums. Packed. 100 board games. Packed. More candles than any man (or human for that matter) should own. Packed.

The garage was so full by the time my stuff came over that I couldn't fit a needle in there, never mind a filing cabinet. There are boxes of precious things, and by precious things I mean crap, still to be unpacked in every room and no place to store the stuff inside.

I have said nothing about the 4 boxes marked "Star Trek toys" stacked in the office. Nor the 8 boxes of tiki mugs taking up space in the laundry room. I just keep chucking my own stuff and talking about how awesome getting down to 10% will be.

So he's finally gotten to the breaking point on his own and realized that he cannot fit all of his belongings into this house, even if we build bookcases in every room (which was his originally nutbar plan).

Sometimes leading by example totally works!

I'm so proud of being the nice girlfriend these last couple of months. Niceness took longer than a tantrum to get my message across, but I didn't have to have cross words with my packratastic boyfriend.

However, I'm having a really hard time not doing my evil, scheming laugh in front of him. I'm so thrilled.

Mwah hahahahaha!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Be Prepared To Be Nice

August 11, 2008

I'm bummed out to discover that my recycle-mania wasn't as fully successful as I'd given myself credit for. There were half empty bottles left all over the set yesterday which I didn't know about. The location manager was kind of furious with the level of trash left on the set. There was a half full bag of plastic bottles he'd collected the night before unceremoniously plunked where I could see it on the IRON MAN set where I'd set up craft services yesterday. Sigh.

I tell the production assistants to help me round up bottles and to put recycling bags next to every trash bin. It's my contribution to the planet to help stop the disgusting waste that happens on every set where even aluminum cans are thrown away. But since I plan on bringing the bottles and cans to the recycling center for cash, I can't call my recycling demands on set my nice act of the day since I'll be receiving compensation. Even though I'm driving sticky bags of used Gatorade bottles in the backseat of my car and will receive very little money in for my troubles, I still feel like I'm cheating by not being "nice with no strings attached" by accepting even small change.

I also wonder if my guilt is rational, or just me being obsessive compulsive.

After wrapping the show for the day I drive over to K.'s house to bake and frost the rest of the prop cakes for the prop master's T.V. show. I'm in her garage, putting the first of the cakes into her spare fridge, when I notice the huge bins of recycling taking over an entire parking space.

"What's up with the mountain of plastic bottles in your garage?" I ask her. As it turns out her son is collecting recyclables to raise money for his boy scout troup.

Recycling bottles for cash isn't a random act of kindness...unless you donate that income to a worthy cause, like a group of ten year old boys saving up to buy whittling supplies.