Action Footage! – Friday 12/7/2007

As a news photographer, I am definitely lacking in skills.

We were working in our office this afternoon when we heard hooting and honking. Lookit! The WGA right outside my window.

Well, almost.

It’s actually at the corner of Pass & Riverside, which is very near.

Interesting, as we were just heading into our weekly meeting to discuss just how much work is left to do. Not much.

Oddly, this morning was quite fun at Bob’s Big Boy. One of the Three Musketeers was there when I arrived! I’m usually there before him, so I had to give him a little bit of a hard time. He told me his name and a nice little story and the names of the other two Musketeers. T, N and H.

I had a printout about Bott’s Dots for them because yesterday they asked what I thought those road bumps were called. I thought Bop Dots. I was wrong. T said he and his daughter always call them Road Braille. LOL.


Holiday Bob – Tuesday 12/4/2007

Large festive balls hang threateningly over my table.

“Write about us,” they whisper, “Write about Bob’s Big Boy and the fascinating array of waiters, waitresses, regulars and novices. You know you want to.”

I refer to my notebook, hunch over my keyboard and try to focus on the scene I’m working on. I know what I want to accomplish in it, it’s just a manner of concentrating.

It’s a party scene. Hey, maybe it’s a Christmas party. Maybe there are gigantic decorations hanging threateningly over the heads of the revelers.

Maybe our eccentric antagonist has decorated his home like a fifties diner, complete with happy statues!


Scratch that.

The Etiquette of Restaurants – Tuesday 11/27/2007

A man with a briefcase comes in and stands near the register. He is uncomfortable. He is unsure whether it’s all right to just go take a seat or if he has to wait for someone to escort him past the curved counter.

He is exposed. He is on display. He won’t look at the other patrons who could probably answer his question. He has committed to some rules of behavior.

I look up a couple of times. If he meets my eye, I’ll tell him that it’s okay to sit anywhere.

I’ve been in that position. Most recently in a restaurant in France in which my mother and I made spectacles of ourselves standing and waiting for a cue, then walking deep into the busy dining room, then walking awkwardly back to the door and waiting until we could catch the eye of one of the busy servers to get permission to enter.

Yikes. I felt like I had “AMERICANO” or the French equivalent etched on my forehead.

The waiting man gets the attention of someone in the back. He lifts his chin, smiles, nods, points with one fully outstretched arm toward the back of the restaurant and starts walking.

The rules are different in the early morning hours. Unless the back is blocked off, it’s anarchy! You can sit anywhere! If you get here at lunch time, not only do you have to be seated by a hostess, but you might have to wait 10-15 minutes for a table.

A man in the black sweater and baseball cap pushes through the big glass doors. He knows his way around restaurants. Or at least around pre-dawn Big Boy. He slides into the booth in front of me with his back to me.

He orders coffee, ice water, corned beef hash with poached eggs, fruit, and an English muffin with butter on the side without even looking at the menu.

Diner Rock Star!


Oh, and here’s another WGA Strike video. A really funny one. Only 2:56 minutes of your time. Free! (Sold yet?)

Up Front – Monday 11/26/2007

Grumble grumble. They’ve been closing off the back (cozier) part of Bob’s for the past couple of weeks. Because they only have one server on duty in the early morning hours. Because there are no production crews coming in before or after long days of shooting.

So I have to sit up front. It’s okay. The table’s bigger.

But the new waitress, who has now waited on me at least 8 times, still doesn’t remember that I take milk with my tea and that I want a glass of water. I miss UT and K. And when E came in today, she was busy setting up the back station and didn’t have time to chat.

That’s okay.

I’m here to write.


[On a lighter note, I’d just like to say that I had a wonderful time over the five-day weekend. Wrote for an hour and a half by candlelight every morning. There is no one easier to live with than a writer who has written. We can be very nice people.]

Cool Thing: I learned how to embed a video. Very easy if someone writes the code for you.

Foggy Bob’s – Monday 11/19/2007

I was amazed at how the flash revealed texture in what looked like solid fog to the naked eye. It was so foggy I became disoriented driving down Riverside Drive. They even shut down Burbank airport due to the fog.

Cool Thing: Another funny video: The WGA Strike: A Love Story.

And now some thoughts about writing, because it’s been going well again for the past week or so. (Rah!) You’re excused, if you want to be. But if you do read on, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about the process.

I remembered that candlelight provides a private sphere in which to create. It helps me focus and dims out the rest of the world. I rose before dawn and Saturday and Sunday and had a great time writing in candlelight.

How interesting! My bad guy, who would spend a lot of time in firelight, came out of the dark and had so much to tell me.

I planned to write in third person from the points of view of the three other characters and let him be a mystery, but when it comes right down to it, a good villain is someone we can relate to on some level.

He has a whole different perspective on everything that happens in that canyon. Of course. His set of recent experiences has been vastly different from anyone else’s

In exchange for letting him express his point of view, he showed me how to address a couple of plot problems.

I guess it takes me a lot of writing and thinking to get to the point where the characters start showing me things. Kind of like acting, where you have to learn the lines and really own them before you spark to the character’s perspective and motivations.

It’s interesting to know that others are doing NaNoWriMo right now, and to reflect on how good it was for me. I’ll always know I started this novel on November 1st, 2006.

Writer’s Strike Hits Big Boy – Thursday 11/8/2007

As you can see, it was a bit of a gloomy day in Toluca Lake yesterday. This is a side view of the Big Boy sign from across the street.

I walked in after a 2 1/2 week absence (the morning regulars hadn’t seen me on Monday with Mom) and opened my laptop and got started.

Waiter D came by just before his shift started at 6:00 a.m. and said, with a smile in his eye, “You’re writing? You’re writing again?”

“Yep! Back at it.” All proud of myself for finally showing up after so many days of not really concentrating on anything.

“What about the writer’s strike? You’d better be careful!” he said, sliding a tray of glasses into its slot beneath the wait-station sink.

“Oh– It’s not that kind of writing. I don’t write scripts. I’m not in the Guild.”

“Still, watch it. There was a guy came in here yesterday asking how far our security cameras reach. He was from Universal. He had some kind of argument about the strike out there, and the other guy tried to strangle him!” D demonstrated two hands around an imaginary neck. “It’s getting crazy already.”

Wow. No kidding.

Later, on my way out, I stopped to talk with the 3 Musketeers who were curious whether I’d been laid off or what. They are two older guys who own a printing business and one younger guy who I found out today owns a gas station. They are more regular regulars than I, hardly ever missing a weekday.

The younger guy asked if I know a location scout.

“No, but I might be able to find one. Why?”

Turns out that a location scout asked about using his gas station as a location and asked what he’d want for compensation. I told him what I’ve heard from people whose houses have been used. That they usually get the amount per day of their monthly mortgage payment.

He seemed happy about that. I said that he should probably also take into consideration what it might cost him in lost business.

“So?” one of the older guys asked, “Is $5,000 enough for the inconvenience to your customers?”

“Are you kidding?” The other one said, talking to me now, “For $5,000 he’d stay there all night serving coffee and donuts!”

We also talked about the strike. The previously funny one said, “The way to end it? Dissolve the union.”

“Oh no,” I said, “I’m not with you on that. And what they’re asking for…” All stuff you’ve heard me say here.

The two older guys have heavy Russian accents. Now I wish I’d told them that I’m practically a socialist. I’d have liked to have seen their reactions. I sure wouldn’t want to work for them. They always seem to think their employees take advantage of them simply by asking for a paycheck, let alone vacations. I try to tell myself it’s just blowhardiness.

While we were talking about the strike the 5 or 6 big burly men at the next table kept glancing over at us. Probably teamsters. Truck drivers who have a real moral dilemma at hand.

They don’t want to cross picket lines, but have reportedly been told by the studios that they are free to strike, of course. But if they do, they will be replaced and if the new hires don’t volunteer to leave after the strike, they won’t be let go. Aha. Very nice.

Cool Thing: an unofficial, but very interesting WGA strike blog called United Hollywood, which has great tales of real-life experiences on the picket lines, etc.

Cool Thing #2!: you really should take a minute and thirty-one seconds to watch this funny strike video submitted to YouTube by Daily Show writer Rob Kutner.

[Thanks to The American for keeping me abreast of all the latest news, and passing along great links like the ones above.]

Mom! Bob! Mom! Bob! – Monday 11/5/2007


My favorite mother and my favorite diner! Together at last!

Yeah. I copped out and didn’t take Mom to LAX. Usually we drive down there and have breakfast at Dinah’s before I drop her off. But the timing was bad today, and it was my first day back at work, and… We opted for a SuperShuttle from Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank.

We had a nice, unhurried breakfast. Her: pancakes and scrambled eggs. Me: two poached eggs, fruit, dry rye toast. After two weeks, we still had plenty to talk about.

We always have a wonderful time together and it’s hard to let her go. I’m a very lucky person to have such a terrific family.