Monday, May 30, 2011

los angeles again

To continue soon.

In some ways I suppose it's a cheap, easy shot to carry on about Los Angeles, and in the end maybe even relatively pointless. After all, it's a big, sprawling city with no more than its share of big, sprawling city problems.

Still, it's hard not to make observations about the unique qualities (and in many cases, shortcomings) of this curious region.

* * *

Sunday, May 29, 2011

lessons learned in la-la land

Last night's drive home from the video shoot was supposed to take two hours. This was on paper. We were working at an industrial location well north of Los Angeles, and despite it being a Saturday, the I-405 South was its usual parking lot at the front end of the drive home.

We'd been shooting training film material for five days and nothing terrible had happened-- always cause for relief and good cheer. The previous day, Friday, my drive back to the Sportsmen's Lodge at Studio City had been blissfully quick along unclogged freeways at just half an hour. One of those inexplicable quirks.

And finally, the week was over. Two days off before the final four. I pulled away from our location at just after five, baselessly optimistic about the Saturday traffic and eager for my break at home with husband and cat.

Two more exits, then one. The sky is cloudy and rain looks imminent. Finally I limp out of my sap and grime-covered car at eight o'clock, hungry and numb. Not what I'd hoped for, but I've had worse at four hours or more.

Yes, I'm grateful for the work after a long dry spell, an attitude of gratitude. I'm paid well and lucky to have the work. This is a tough economic time and we're all doing the best we can. I repeat these mantras as necessary.

* * *

Among the many things I notice when I spend any time in the greater Los Angeles area is the way everyone stares at everyone else, either openly or covertly. You don't have to be wearing mustard on your nose or last year's sunglasses-- you'll be looked at significantly more often than usual as you go about your business. I eventually figured out they're all looking to see if you are Somebody, as in, a famous person.

* * *

Brief backstory: My first work in The Business came back in 1986 (as my longtime friends all know) when I was pulled out of my salon life into the golden opportunity of working on a low-budget feature film, a story for another day. Since then I have enjoyed many fascinating years in freelance work in (primarily) corporate film and video production as a freelance makeup artist-slash-wardrobe stylist-slash-set decorator. As the economy took its ignominious hit, naturally enough my work receded as well. This is far more of a problem for people supporting themselves, of course, and since moving from the Bay Area I've consciously been working less often anyway, preferring to divert my time to making my marriage even better, and working on personal projects.

Even so, I do like my media work. I've always enjoyed it, even when (for various reasons) it's far more gritty than glamorous. My background prior to this was in art, theater, and journalism, and I taught myself this biz by throwing myself into projects with long hours and a paranoid-level of hyper-preparation. It's been a successful run with a lot of great projects in the company of friendly and accepting people. But if you stay in anything long enough, be it Work or Life, you live to see things change.

* * *

Few things in life are as important, overall, as a sense of perspective. Was this a rough week? It was. But the true definition of a rough week lies elsewhere: a woman driving herself to and from chemotherapy alone because her indifferent family members can't "handle it"; a student working two jobs while trying to keep his grades up; the list is endless. I find it interesting to explore various aspects of my recent work week and its many personal nuances, and some of it is going to sound bitchy. But friends and readers needn't wonder: I never forget where this litany falls in the spectrum.

* * *

When I was a youngster growing up in the Bay Area east of San Francisco, I had two recurring, alternating career fantasies: working for Mattel in El Segundo designing Barbie doll clothes and accessories, and working as a designer behind the scenes at Anaheim's Disneyland.

Although neither of those specific careers remained on my adult horizon, a considerable portion of my jobs and hobbies have somehow ended up reflecting those distinctly California interests (not, it should be admitted, through any brillance of planning on my part). This profession has given me so many unique opportunities it's hard to choose examples: I've designed and built costumes both glamorous and quirky, created clown makeup that helped define the look of a feature film, created a convincing urban Chinese residence hotel within a Lafayette, California dining room. Without assistance I've somehow dressed and coiffured rooms full of actors in under thirty minutes. It's been my honor to see convention attendees gather in a buzz of appreciation around my miniature original doll couture, and watched people bidding on my fashion doll creations at charity auctions. My life, in other words, has been rich with childhood fantasies that somehow came to pass. My razzle-dazzle Hollywood interests haven't changed much, and the basic dreams remain, but I have no illusions about the geographical area known as Los Angeles.

One quickly learns what a mixed bag is the City of Angels: the stupifying video-game labyrinth of freeways, the fluctuating ominous belt of orange at the horizon. After half a day in the LA basin I always have a dry cough. A graffiti-covered sound wall outlined in weeds sits just a few yards from a gorgeous, shady street of stately cottage-style homes. Gorgeous hotels, huge television studios, leafless blocks of utilitarian businesses. More soundwalls. Gigantic coils of razor wire across the tops of freeway signs.

Nobody walks in LA, but if you do, the heat radiates from the concrete and your eyes water.

* * *

to be continued

Friday, May 20, 2011

will this be the last video project?

Each job feels like it could be the last. The twilight of a great career.

Details forthcoming.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

forgotten insights

Earlier eras of Western society had some great minds, with much of their wisdom regarding human nature now dismissed as quaint or worse, faded away and all but lost-- a casualty of our modern ways of thinking.

My example of this follows below, a quote about literature with an inherent perspective on differences between the sexes.

In many situations today, social hypersensitivity frightens away the voicing of similarly candid, unabridged observations. Or am I overstating this reluctance?

With special thanks to my brilliant Facebook friend James Gorski, here is a quote from post-Victorian author and philosopher G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) that put me onto this line of thinking.

I first noticed James' news stream post with the GKC quote because it comments on novel writing, of obvious interest to me. But beyond the topic of novel writing, the quote ended up being an intriguing catalyst for me for thoughts on that kind of human observation in general.

The quote in question:

“PEOPLE put the matter wrong when they say that the novel is a study of human nature. Human nature is a thing that even men can understand. Human nature is born of the pain of a woman; human nature plays at peep-bo when it is two and at cricket when it is twelve; human nature earns its living and desires the other sex and dies. What the novel deals with is what women have to deal with; the differentiations, the twists and turns of this eternal river.”

~GKC: The Victorian Age in Literature.’

So, were such differences between men and women, as observed by some of our great Grandparents' leading thinkers, just artifacts of their society? Do such observations have any actual validity today beyond their historical value?

More and more, I'm finding Chesterton a fascinating and worthwhile English author.

Friday, May 6, 2011

two black cranes: a strange dream in the afternoon

dream account
thursday, 5 may, 2011
afternoon nap
* * *

Dream account to follow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

cinco de mayo

People such as myself who are not big drinkers usually glide right past de facto party days like St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo. But when one of those semi-holidays rolls around it wouldn't hurt me to at least mention it. Maybe I can seize the day and use its theme as a springboard for a special meal, or some kind of themed art project. Of course, lately it's been all about the novel writing, and I don't want to stray too far off that path, especially now that I'm finally getting so much done. So maybe I'll just mention the Fifth of May, and leave it at that. Happy Cinco de Mayo, and I'll write more soon. Cheers! /

PS Before anyone misunderstands me and thinks I don't know there are real meanings behind these celebrations, my glib comments don't refer to their serious roots-- only their casual modern identities.

Monday, May 2, 2011

for the studio

New dress form today, plus a half-size form and draping tape. Details sometime soon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

writing the rails: using trains in a story

Over at the Amtrak Facebook news feed this morning, the Amtrak p.r. person who posts on their behalf was asking for ideas to help celebrate 40 years of Amtrak service. This was my suggestion:

Brenda Cox Giguere / Have a writing contest. Invite writers to create works of original fiction that make positive use of an Amtrak journey in the storyline. I'm going to detail this idea on my blog today.