My husband and I have a hard case of the flu. High fever, nausea, violent night sweats, heart palpitations, ear aches, this flu has it all. I have lost 11 pounds in 6 days, he has lost 22. Keeping up with the base level farm chores is difficult, and trying to keep one another hydrated challenging. The house is a wreck, the chickens are out feed, the garden I’d worked so hard to maintain in the heat has withered and the mortgage is late.
Jeff regained an appetite first, starting solids slowly with small meals and snacks. Now I was going to nibble at the breakfast table, mainly oats and berries. A first sip of coffee felt like a sword slicing down my throat. Porridge made it worse. Blood sugar began dropping, I asked for orange juice.
Dragged upside down by a ship racing in darkness, battered by nightmare waves of confusion and simmering pain. Layers of nauseating blackness upon blackness with dull edges, unceasing. Disassociation with no survival instinct nor hope, only chaos. Yet presence enough to sense this eternal hell was all that existed.
“Bea where are you!” cried out my love as he helped me struggle to sit up. Apart from a soreness in my chest I felt normal flu crappy.
I lost time.
“How’d I get on the floor?”
He had set me down as my eyes rolled back into my head and I was going over.
“You stopped breathing – there was no heartbeat – I did compressions – you went stiff as a board, arms straight out, neck arched back – my life flashed before my eyes – what was I going to do?”
All I could do was return to bed, refusing the Emergency Room. Jeff called a Dr. friend who said it sounded like my heart skipped a beat or 2, keeping fresh blood from the brain for a few seconds, causing me to seize up. Fever is the bodies natural way to burn waste but try to keep it from getting so high again.
I felt delicate and did not have an easy day. By evening Jeff called a couple friends in distress and the amazing Larson’s packed up some supplies and ran over, bringing such a positive healing feeling into the house with their loving care – making hydrating drinks, rubbing my tense spots, cooking and calmly eating dinner with Jeff.
The fever yo-yo-ed but stabilized the next day. And the weeping begins over the shock Jeff went through, over the generous care of friends, over the color of late summer through the window, over lemon tea, over a birdsong, over abandoned kittens in the orchard, over having extra towels as I sweat through them nightly, over so many memories, and not being worthy of any of it. And how hiding out from a sick and crazy world on a funky farm in the middle of nowhere God still found me to share so much. Everything.
Dr Rich also said emotionally a flu means we’ve resolved something, whether we realize or it or not. And in the rebuilding and healing we are a new creature, and to celebrate that.
In this time of burning up and physical weakness I am changed. The old me has “died” with release from coffee addiction, a wine habit, eating from boredom, running to the computer throughout the day to expose myself to other peoples programming. I more clearly see how I often try to control that which is beyond my control. I notice how negative thinking (ours or via media) instantly brings our home down into the pits. Our nightly habit of watching a show or movie as an excuse to unwind and rub on one another is actually an excuse to not focus fully on one another. There’s so much about my life that I have actually hated. And I don’t have to do or include those things any more. Whew!
This phrase has circled social media for several years as independent journalists and regular palookas share research and observations in the digital town square, picking up the slack from the polluted Main Stream. It’s best to keep vigilant, to discern and verify sources, for “it’s true, I seen it on TV” has become “I saw it on the internet!”
By the way, did you know the word gullible is not in the dictionary?
But the upside of maneuvering wisely through this flood of voices is less technocratic censorship and control. If a big platform stomps a story down, it can reappear in a hundred other places, as vlogs, blogs, websites, podcasts, research boards, specialty forums, newsletters and person-to-person text or email.
Like him or not, an important accomplishment of President Trump was breaking the spell of what he calls Fake News. Fake News, where Media Conglomerates, beholden to their billionaire owners or corporate sponsors, beholden to what will make money for them, to what will promote their ideology, or politics, dictate down the pyramid to supposedly local television, radio stations and newspapers, what the stories or angles are to be, often regardless of how vetted or true. Mockingbird Media. Remember the video showing Sinclair News subsidiaries, local newscasts from across the country, reading the same script, verbatim?
Hence the local news may not really represent the community it is supposed to serve, and may instead be working to inorganically nudge that community in an unnatural direction. “Eat ze bugs!”
At one time journalism was considered the Fourth Estate, the guardian to help keep the checks and balances of our government checked and balanced. But what if that watchdog has become a lapdog, trained to fetch Master’s slippers for the hopes of a belly rub or a bone?
How potent is the power of the press? The Office of the Historian provides an example of its effect on diplomacy and public opinion, leading to war and an expansion of the United State’s foreign reach. Basically, used as a device to sell more papers in the late 19th century, a strategy of sensationalized, rumor-based reporting vs. factual reporting, yellow journalism created a hot button of anti-Spanish sentiment in the Cuban struggle for independence, and helped pave the path to the Spanish-American War.
Fake News is not new, just expanded, monopolized and now congressionally sanctioned.
Once called the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. Agency for Global Media states that it “and the media organizations that it supports can now make their content available in broadcast quality upon request within the United States. This is due to a law that went into effect on July 2, 2013, amending the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, known as the Smith-Mundt Act.”
The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 was tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in 2013, section 1078. If I am reading this whole bill come amendment correctly, it provides that “information” (propaganda?) prepared for distribution in foreign countries (think Voice of America) to spread democracy (how’s that going?) can now be distributed domestically to the American people.
Perhaps the initial intention was lovely, but could the use of this Act be weaponized to mislead, control or twist a narrative, and thus the public? In such a short period of time our country seems irreparably divided in a dozen ways. By design? By distraction, to subvert attention away from those in “power” as they feed off most of the life on earth?
The USAGM’s arrangement for “Global connectivity” seems like a handy tool for promoting global lockstep lockdowns and global pandemic procedures, or bureaucratically created global energy and global food shortages. “We’re all in this together….”
Oh boy we live in interesting times! And if not satisfied with corporate newscasts, magazine and paper subscriptions, we now have the option at our fingertips to instead research for ourselves; to read, listen or subscribe to more direct and less biased sources of information.
So “we are the news now” does not refer to this specific grassroots publication per se, but to we the people, sharing what we consider pertinent findings with our friends, families and groups in a bigger way, allowing space to ask questions, challenge mainstream narratives, and dare, with due diligence and verification, to discover the truth.
Some interesting fictionalized film examples of political media manipulation:
(Originally written for a local journal July 2022)
We are at war. And have been for decades, incase you missed the enemy’s infiltration and inversion of our way of life, corrupting the school system, food supply, the medical industry, technology, military, energy, media and entertainment, religious institutions and our culture. Our government. Our financial system.
“Permit me to issue and manage the money of a nation, and I care not who establishes its laws,”— credited to Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founding father of international finance dynasty.
What is a Central Bank? It’s an institution that controls the policy, production and distribution of a nation’s money and credit. Founded in 1668 the first Central Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, is still in operation as the oldest of dozens of Central Banks around the world in places as China, Russia, Israel, India, Korea, EU, England, Greece, Iceland, Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, UAE…
The Central Bank of the United States is known as the Federal reserve bank.
Suzie Q cannot open an account there with her lemonade stand earnings, for these are the bankers’ banks, invested in one another.
Who oversees the Central Banks? The Bank for International Settlements, BIS, in Basel Switzerland, with its mission of “promoting global monetary and financial stability through international cooperation” is THE Central Bank of them all. Currently 63 Central Banks are members with voting rights. To reiterate, the Federal Reserve stands arm in arm with the Central Banks of China and Russia under the BIS. As George Carlin said, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”
Established in 1930 for settling reparation payments imposed on Germany after WWI, the BIS claims to be the oldest international financial institution. Article 55 of its Statutes, penned in 1930 and amended in 2016, declares The Bank enjoys immunity from jurisdiction, from seizure, attachment, freeze, enforcement or sequestration. All BIS (and thus all Central Bank) deposits, shares or claims, wherever located and by whomsoever held, are also immune from any measures of such execution.
Good Lawd! This states the existence of a global network that can funnel billions or trillions worth of monies, gold bars or whatever assets from one nation to another, or to “whomsoever” in relative secrecy, with sovereign immunity. Could this be an avenue for stealing or “misplacing” money from government budgets? The winnings/thievings of war? International financial aide?
During the years of Covid crushing economies and the looming Great Reset working in tandem, BIS has simultaneously promoted a change over to Central Bank Digital Currency – CBDC.
What is digital currency? It is a medium of exchange that exists solely in a digital or electronic format. Think cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, which is not a coin at all but encrypted digits in a computer. It does not jangle in your pocket or fall to the bottom of your purse. You do not leave a handful of cryptos on the table at a restaurant for a tip.
Is it secure for the People? Is electronic voting secure? Do computers ever crash? Are email accounts ever hacked? Does the GPS in the car always know where in reality it is going?
Why would global banks want to replace cash with a single global digital currency? Digital currency is traceable and controllable. Imagine that on a global scale. Imagine our financial system being openly beholden to a brotherhood in Switzerland that Mr. and Mrs. Peanut Gallery have no say in.
In October of 2020 the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, hosted a panel titled CROSS BORDER PAYMENT – A VISION OF THE FUTURE. The four Central Bankers speaking included Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, and the BIS General Manager Agustin Carstens, who stated:
“In cash we don’t know, for example, who’s using a $100 bill today, we don’t know who is using a 1000 peso today. A key difference with the CBDC is the Central Bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of Central Bank liability. And also we will have the technology to enforce that. Those two issues are extremely important and that makes a huge difference with respect to what cash is.”
What is cash? Cash is a physical means of exchange, of legal tender, uniquely expressed in different nations. In general, every day cash in hand used for legal activities is untraceable, private and unhackable.
What kind of controls will determine how CBDC is used? How would they enforce that? Currently cancel culture punishes certain voices that dare to question the narrative promoted by Big Tech’s masters, kicking those voices out of major social media universes. Like when the President of the United States was kicked off of Twitter, or the many Doctors from reputable hospitals and universities posting their research and findings that proved contrary to the pharmaceutical backed Covid narrative.
This type of banning has even crossed over to payment platforms as Go Fund Me, Pay Pal, Patreon and Venmo, blocking donations to certain people or groups that dare to question, protest or point out true injustice, as when the Canadian Truckers’ Convoy gathered in Ottawa, desperate to go back to work. The donations made to their cause were blocked from these platforms, and some of their bank account were locked too.
So is it a giant leap or a small step to foresee a future where a financial system plugged into Big Tech’s data collection as well as government surveillance can track a person, and control or limit their spending if such person has a questioning or dissenting voice? And beyond?
Over a billion people live in the Chinese Social Credit System, which provides a “holistic assessment of an individual’s or a company’s trustworthiness. “ In his article “China Social Credit Explained,” Dr. Drew Donnelly, advisor on international compliance and regulatory issues, clarifies that one’s social credit score “may affect travel prospects, employment, access to finance, and the ability to enter into contracts.”
He continues, “The eventual ‘end state’ of the system is a unified record for people, businesses, and the government, which can be monitored in real time” (monitored by cameras, “smart” tech, and a lunatic agenda of implanting microchips in our bodies, like Elon Musks’s Neuralink). But this isn’t merely for tracking corporate embezzlement or fraud. Simple things as cheating on a video game, or taking care of elderly parents can lower or raise this score. Speaking against a government policy or questioning the promoted narrative sends points down the flusher.
The People’s opinions and behavior is not the controlling business of bankers, technocrats and politicos.
Simply put, in a CBDC world, the Bank has the power to turn an individual’s money off with a mouse click. Or an algorithm, to limit spending, limit saving. The rainy day cash in the mattress won’t be fit for anything else if cash is demonetized. They don’t want the money, they print the money. They want control, resources…they want your children.
Whistleblower Catherine Austin Fitts, former Asst. Secretary of HUD and Wall Street Investment Banker, offers some hope! In an enlightening interview on CHD.TV’s Financial Rebellion show (episode 33), she explains how we are paying for our own digital prison. She suggests a defense by using cash everyday, using ‘dumb” technology, and getting out of the Big Boy banks and their affiliates (JP Morgan, Chase, Wells Fargo…), to instead invest locally, in small banks, in real material goods, in community building.
May 2023 be the year we’ve been working toward and waiting for – do it!!
I’m not so good at calendar resolutions. Hoping doesn’t bring results. Wanting to improve, to shift something, though nice, is not the same as choosing to do so. For to choose action some of us have to first be aware of what we are even going after.
The past several years have been table flippers and noodle cookers for many of us. At times we all tune things out emotionally, psychologically or physically to survive the day to day.
Wanna talk CV, MK, JFK or any other supposed “conspiracy?” No problem, pass me a piece of that cake, let’s go.
Does my husband want to tell me what he really thinks about the way I ______ (fill in the blank)? Awesome, yes lets talk about it, help me improve. Open to seeing, sharing and learning.
My fuzzy spot is in the material realm, the world of stuff bringing my home down, like the Titanic, sinking from a burden of repair projects like lopsided chairs, fried electronics and broken auto parts (garbage). As well as things that can in theory be repurposed in some mysterious way like raggy sheets, disintegrating books, empty plastic orange juice containers, and cardboard boxes (also garbage).
Am I really going to teach myself to macrame with all that neon colored string cut off the hay bales? The time has come to face the truth.
‘Just throw it away.’ But really, there is no away.
We’ve work so hard to keep things out of the waste stream we ARE the waste stream. S O S!
And honestly I think there is also a strain of fear, of such a dystopic future where we will be grateful to have a pile of junk to search through for buttons or knobs or wiring, that we tend to hold on to the broken for that worse .05% chance scenario. Bah.
And really might my brain also be holding on to faulty familiars, old programming and ideas that no longer serve me, safe refuse, cluttering up the corners of my mind in loops, to distract from different ways of expressing or looking for solutions, from taking risks on something new? How does this pile up happen, by not dealing with each little piece of thought trash as it comes in?
Christmas week was flu week for both of us – tired, achy, spacey, lumping around slightly disconnected. A simple search for tissue meant maneuvering through useless stacks and piles and cases, so inconvenient, so ridiculous, I was snapped out of my daily survival game of excuses, not just seeing but downright knowing that inch by inch this creep of junk has been taking over my house.
We consider flu and fever as burning the cellular trash, to free up energy for building health and strengthening immunity. Nature’s update. If it was time for our bodies to ‘clean house’ maybe it’s time for the house to clean house too, and make room for the unbroken, the useful, or even nothing at all but space to breathe.
Maybe abundance isn’t having stuff, it’s having what you need when you need it. We can’t even find what we have when we have it!
So instead of some day or later, now is the time. Even without touching a bag or box I know I will recycle and repurpose what can be, and trust my amazing mother nature to breakdown the rest in her embrace. Instead of walking past that sink of dishes again, I’ll pause and do them. Instead of excuses for ‘later’ I actually turned off the TV to write this, and instead of waiting I will put it up as imperfect as it is.
Last night we watched an old film that was racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemitic, filled with hate speech and animal cruelty; elder abuse as a wheelchair bound man was lynched, and a person with cognitive and mental disability was chained and beaten. Women were objectified, and one of the main characters was constantly misgendered, called by a gendered name with which he did not identify. Indigenous peoples were mocked, Native American as well as Latinx, while the KKK and Nazis were featured toward the climax.
The previous 48 years perspective –
Last night we watched Blazing Saddles, and we laughed and laughed.
Was Mel Brooks attacked, cancelled, vilified, for his 1974 Western, or any of his projects, where he lovingly pokes fun at film, at everyone and their stereotypes? Was Richard Pryor, the black potty-mouthed comedian who co-wrote it?
To recap, black Bart (get it , Black Bart?), a sparkling “urbanite” works building the railroad and whacks his idiot boss in the head with a shovel, sending him to be hung. But a couple of executioners called in sick so they are running behind as a long line of people wait for their turn in the noose, including an old man in a wheelchair.
In a window above the gallows, the cross-eyed Governor, played by Mel Brooks, is really only interested in relations with his near naked secretary. His crooked District Attorney Hedy Lamarr (no that’s HEDLEY, HEDLEY Lamarr) devises a plan to get the people out of Rock Ridge, a town in the path of the railroad. They decide to send a black Sheriff, randomly seeing and thus saving Bart from his hanging, only to be killed by the criminals or the residents of the town , so they think.
Sharply dressed with Gucci saddlebags even, Bart rides into Rock Ridge. A welcoming reception becomes un-welcoming when they see the Sheriff is a you know what. At this point the word which shall not be written here has been ridiculously said a dozen plus times making us laugh at the speaker or their attitude, using humor to take the sting out of the word.
Bart takes on an alcoholic sharp shooting deputy, Jim, and tells him a childhood story of an Indian attack on their wagon train. The Chief, again Mel Brooks in full feathers and war paint, tells Bart’s family to go on, in Yiddish, because they are darker than the native people.
Bart gains the respect of the townspeople by protecting them from the goons sent in by Hedy (no that’s HEDLEY, HEDLEY Lamarr). Mongo, a gargantuan dumb brute, introduced to us after a few rounds of bean dinner farts round the campfire, reminiscent of being on set after chili lunch, is chained and beaten, seemingly unaffected by such treatment in his strength. The gang boss sends him to terrorize Rock Ridge.
As he wreaks havoc, Bart tricks him, captures him and also must chain him up in the jail, but releases him when a lawful order to do so comes in. But Mongo does not want to go back to the gang and instead stays to help.
Hedy ( No, Hedley blahdy blah) tries another approach, sending a torch singer Lili Von Shtupp, tired from whoring, into the town to perform and seduce Bart. Here’s another sprinkling of peeny and vv jokes, and Bart’s charm and other assets brings Lili to his side too.
Hedley and the Gang decide to flood the town with marauders and hold a casting call of baddies from throughout the world and across time. Mixed in with cowboy types are banditos that don’t need no badges, Nazis, and the KKK with “Have a Nice Day” on the back of their robes.
Bart gets his railroad building friends to come help the town build a booby trap for the gangs, in exchange for some land. At first the Mayor agrees to give land to the blacks and Chinese, but not the Irish. Anyway those guys fight beside the townspeople when a brawl ensues in the streets against the roughnecks. Mongo even punches a bad guy’s horse, knocking it out in pure stuntmanship. The camera cranes up up up to reveal the big battle is on the back lot of a Hollywood studio.
The brawl rolls over into a soundstage filming an elaborate musical number with dozens of tuxedo clad gay men dancing down a cascade of steps. They join in the fray (“c’mon girls”), and jokes are made with synchronized swimming, and a cowboy joining their team.
The brawl rolls further into the commissary with a blend of actors taking lunch in their costumes, including a guy dressed as Hitler. A pie fight ensues, but ultimately the film ends with Bart and Jim taking to a trail on horseback, meeting up with a limo, dismounting the horses for a wrangler, and riding the limo out into the sunset, presumably all the way to the bank.
A little levity used to go a long way in reminding a generation we can or have outgrown certain ideologies and labels by seeing the ridiculous side, instead of replacing them with more divisive ones.
Over 20 years ago you spoke at the SXSW festival in a smallish room that held 100 or so people. Though familiar with a couple of your more comic films from my childhood television viewing, I was not familiar with you. Upon seeing your initially dour expression and that neckerchief, well, who knew what to expect.
But then you painted the room with fascinating stories and loving observations of films and filmmakers of yore. Though just a festival volunteer, I was placed in the front row with Albert Maysles, who gently punched me in the arm with unfettered laughter during your talk. He punched me a lot.
Since then I’ve caught up with most of your films, and learned more of your personal story with the theater, acting, critiquing, as well as the triumphs and heartbreaking trials both in film production and in romance.
As innovative and enjoyable as most everyone’s favorites Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show were, it is your early film Targets that brought me to tears. It wasn’t over the ending of the Old Horror type genre, nor the beginning of the new horror of real life violence, shootings and mass murder portrayed with the sniper in your film.
While tension builds towards the climax, car loads of innocent families and couples pull up to the drive-in for a night at the movies, unaware that a shooter lurks behind the giant screen, waiting for the right moment to unleash further bloodshed and bullets.
While waiting there is a quick camera shot of one of the sedans, of a little boy in the backseat, bouncing up and down, anxious and excited for the movie to begin.
And I wept. Not from concern of this little character getting caught up in the coming slaughter. I wept because that is how I used to feel about going to the movies. And that delicious, sweet anticipation tingling through my body dried up after too many years of disappointment and downright disgust at what more often than not junk was being presented to us from the movie making leaders. Profit at the expense of story, in the mainstream.
My final fizzle was in 1999 with Star Wars IV or Star Wars I or whatever it’s called. I was actually excited to reconnect and further explore that world that had enchanted and moved me so as a child. After the heart pounding thrill of that famous opening theme music blasting through the darkness, and the familiar prelogue scrolling away into the sky, the movie began. And I did not know what I was looking at, with so much modern CG, using animated effects instead of a compelling story to try to whisk me away. Then Jar Jar Binx came out and I knew I, and millions of others, had been had. All the way to the bank.
This wariness of commercial films is not a rejection of all. I have still gone out of my way to see intriguing work, and have a few contemporary directors that I keep up with. My love and appreciation of film is not less, just my expectation of what it could be/ has become.
I believe you felt the same way, and that this dejection from the general lowering of the bar actually inspired you to keep telling those personal stories of the great films and filmmakers, to spread a little of that fire, that creative passion that used to light up the screen, reminding us of the rich cinematic history and lineage waiting to be rediscovered and explored.
The very first time back on set was also the very first time wearing a mask – hours and hours in the humid Texas swelter. Add a Bizarro world hotel room of anti-slumber (next to a highway literally being demolished), and I was soon sleep deprived, heat exhausted and oxygen starved, with long stretches of heart palpitations.
By only Day 3, I barely made it to our distant location, a rough ranch. If staying on the road was a challenge by day, how would navigating the dark hills by night be any safer?
Extra coffee was not going to cut it. Despite multiple other situations of near incapacity, in 2 decades of movie making I have never called in to the office or opted out. Until now. Sitting in crew parking, “I don’t think I can make it through the day.”
Covid pre-testing protocol means it’s near impossible to be replaced. What could Production do? They sent over TM, an AD, to quickly and crudely train so I could go home. OMG.
Well, an AD knows filming protocol, and the basic slating system. An AD knows the Actors and the story. An AD has their own long term career goal which doesn’t threaten the Script Supervisor position. TM was glad to get to be in the middle of filming instead of at the periphery or at base camp.
This was actually a good choice.
We started slow, with noting takes and lining pages, but it still seemed like too much. So I asked TM to stay with rehearsals down in the ravine, to follow the dialogue and learn what the shots were going to be. Then as we rolled he followed lines while I took notes. It was a relief to not tightly track dialogue and call out lines.
I kept still, in shade, hydrating. With lots of breathing breaks. And started feeling a little better. They put me a trailer for lunchtime, to cool off and rest. With TM’s help and a bit of care from my film fam (they know I am not normally needy), I made it to wrap. And Universe presented a room at a friend’s near by, saving a lengthy bumpy dark drive.
Long story short – having an extra person to take on just a couple of the duties made the biggest difference. These scenes had several characters, stunts, 3 cameras panning all over. Wide Shot, Medium Shot and Close Up of the same Character is a timesaver. And doing Over The Shoulders at the same time saves all that matching. But 3 cameras doing their own thing is 3 times the work. Which is now rather standard.
Sometimes – if we are pooped, if the dialogue’s pages long, if they add additional additional cameras , it can be a little much, tracking all and supporting the Actors, the Director, the Editor. As THE Script Supervisor there is no one to support us, not even for a bathroom break.
On a few occasions I have been called in to cover the extra cameras for big filming days- like football games etc… But I have also tracked 5-6 cameras simaltaneously, not sprinkled throughout the day, solo, several times on two nightmare shows, and was too beaten down to pipe up when I realized what was happening.
So as our job has taken on more – more cameras, less cutting during multiple takes, capturing screen shots and video, not alternating Script Sups for episodic (which means breakdowns and prep on the weekends), sending batches of notes ASAP at lunch and wrap to a growing list of people, and now with the CV excuse for more walking lunches where you don’t get that chance to catch up, I feel we trade quite a bit of the actual craft of Script Supervising for the data entry chase.
Is there a win/win way to have, on big days, some assistance and flexibility to help make even better work, that Production sees as beneficial? Or can nothing change the more work less pay steamroller crusade for content quantity as king?
Pardon I’ve not been blogging. All the writing was more film history, or Covid-in-film venting. Frustration. Frankly, not uplifting. But the show (and the blog) must go on! Projects started and stopped, based on mandates and such, but since Texas has been “open” productions been consistent for months.
After a year on standby, avoiding some of the learning hiccups of the evolving CV protocol, I jumped on a TV show this spring. Once an online CV safety tutorial and a clear pre-start test were completed, I was back on set.
The actual work is the same, but the routine is different, with daily health questionnaire, temperature check and tri-weekly CV tests before starting our actual day. This does cut into our unpaid time. Crew positions are categorized into zones (closer to actors, more testing, more access etc…), which early on caused division and a new layer of elitism in our film family. “I’m in zone A, could you step back a few feet from me while trying to do your job? And use your allotted toilet, lunch line and drinking fountain?”
Wearing masks all day (in the Texas heat and humidity), limited capacity in the socially distanced transportation vans, and distancing at catering, with spaced out lunch seating looking like a ping-pong tournament, slows everything down (we even had some walking lunches to save time). No-touch craft service, not even allowed to grab water out of the cooler, slows everything down.
And all of this protective separation zaps those pleasant impromptu moments of the past in talking with someone you happen to be next to for a van ride, or at a lunch table, or in the craft trailer. This Script Sup can get a little lonely. This Script Sup enjoys hugs hello, and likes to catch up with fellow crew without meters between mask muffling. Those were the days. Bah.
On top of the masks, some Directors and Ads wear a “mandated” face shield when approaching actors, but some do not. Interesting. Paper is limited as a potential contaminant, so no paychecks brought to set, but sides (script pages) are still passed out. Hmmm. And the ‘convenient’ paperless camera reports transform a quick handful of circling good takes on set into an extra 15 minutes at wrap to go through separate excel sheets for 3 cameras, not to mention a Camera AC having to type in info for every take.
Surely each department has undergone some tweaks. May swabbing, masks and these limitations soon be a thing of the past! What I DO hope remains forever and ever is the cleaning – the hand washing stations, the sterilized bathrooms and doorknobs! And the shorter (normal length) days to accommodate the extra clean up. Some productions are aiming for mostly 12-hour days and under. Some kinda blew past that early on.
Overall, thankful Texas film is back up and running. Now, to make better stories!
Okay obviously it was because I am here to tell the tale, but it wasn’t enough to keep what should’ve been a healthy adventure from becoming a nightmare.
At the start we found the first layer of winter and freezing pretty, refreshingly a tad more than the occasional kiss of snowfall, and thought the power outage was a mere blip, as had happened for a few hours or even once overnight in the past. That morning The Electric Co-op even said I was the only person to report an outage.
Though aware of a big storm coming, we did not hustle our bustle beyond setting aside several gallons of extra water and making sure we had foodstuff for all of us creatures in the event we were holed up for a bit. We’d finish our chores on the day. In our years here we have been through torrential rains, massive hails and the fringe of a tornado.
By evening we realized this was not about tea and candles and long pajamas.
Though better off than most folks out of power, our normal simple way of living (with a wood stove for heat, a gas cooker, well water and water tanks, rain barrels and an old back-up just-in-case never-tried-out generator), did not prepare us for literally inches of ice quickly coating, encasing, everything. And unrelenting cold that made one’s home feel like an unheated garage. In Canada.
On top of the uncontrollable circumstances were the controllable circumstances – as the consequences of so many choices, of incomplete projects, of every can we kicked down the road – coming back up right in our ruddy, sleet pelted faces.
While submerged in teens to single digit to no digit degree temperatures, in a place not built for extended bouts of such weather, we found ourselves spending precious hours and more precious than gold daylight into the harsh night doing tasks that should have been locked up long before. One ‘incomplete’ caused a chain of floundering events.
We’d be chuckling about how nippy a couple of those nights were IF even only ONE of the following had been done BEFORE the storm and not during.
IF the firewood was cut to fit the stove, thus already dry inside, not coated with unbreakable ice and needing to defrost in tubs and bins all over the house, the chimney top may not have frozen over leaving us with cold inefficient fires those early desperate nights.
IF the horse stall was built all the way we wouldn’t have had to coax jumpy to stampeding horses into a rigged up shed garage spot a after a tree fell on their flimsy temporary roof.
IF my car was parked in the shed garage instead of blocking it. To move it we had to brace up and cut the tree that fell on and buried my car in a mess of thick icy limbs piece by piece.
IF the generator was accessible, not blocked in by immovable equipment and flat-tired sunken in the mud, needing big farm machinery to extract it to the house. It was great until the not fully winterized diesel fuel froze, shutting us down.
He worked to move blocking fallen trees from the road in case we needed to try to 4 wheel it out of here, as well as clear our neighbors’ driveways. Some of them are elderly, some unskilled, and some selfish. All of them left.
Through this we texted and shared photos with friends and family to paint a brighter picture, thank goodness the cell phones worked! But we were, or it felt we were, literally fighting for our lives and animals and everything we have worked so hard for. A primitive lizard brain survival instinct kicked in, and it was ugly. My husband and I had a different set of priorities, each totally correct, which put us at odds against one another.
I focused on helping my husband, but mainly our home and animals, firewood and water. For a couple days we could not bust through the inches of ice to any potential water in the troughs, which meant several daily hauls of warmed water to the coop and horses.
It wasn’t about getting through a night or two. We soon realized we could be out of power for weeks (please not more!) and decisions made in those moments would effect us in that future.
He spent time each day bringing our (in the beginning) limited water to a neighbor’s accidentally abandoned donkey up the hill (she also broke his nose while trying to escape). Some of those days the 4 wheeler would freeze and he’d have a long hike up the hill and back. He also checked on a friend miles down the road, bringing appreciated supplies, and again the 4 wheeler almost shut down, frozen. Each time he left, I had to consider he might not return.
Heavy ice laden log-like branches and trees fell in every direction, near and far, crashing down for days and nights, sounding like gun shots or cannon fire or avalanches.
When that frigid darkness came crushing in on us those first few nights, no amount of candles or flashlights could dispel the stomach churning fear of more deeply understanding vulnerability, mortality, and just writing it now, and even now-now typing what I had written on paper, has it victoriously jogging a couple tight laps around my tummy.
Then it snowed several inches, actually making everything easier to maneuver, without having to struggle 10X more on the ice. The sun’s glare over-lit everything to glowing, with flakes shimmering like diamonds.
At bedtime – those nights brought no relief to our tense and aching and injured bodies, only cold dread, for we knew in a few hours we’d be doing it again, on alert, on our feet, out in the elements til or even into dark. My husband and I could not comfort one another for we, or our inner lower reptile brains, detested each other. One of those mornings in my sleep I ended up next to him for warmth, and upon waking he snarled that I had crossed enemy lines.
There’s more weirdly learned to dos and not to dos, and I hope to write about the positive gleanings at another time. But first is the need to release at least some of this, well, trauma. It’s embarrassing to in any way compare homesteading to such as our Service People go through in battle, yet there’s a shadowy hint of what in the most minor connection of ways, minor like a second cousin, through marriage even, feels like a roaring whisper of PTSD.
This was written on day 11 of no power. I type this on day 15. Who knows when I can wriggle this up online through my phone. However, we’ve figured out a system for the house basics, and are now challenged with keeping the fridge and freezer cold, for over the course of one afternoon, everything has melted into spring.
All of the animals made it (the chickens are champs), and my marriage is stronger for surviving one another, seeing the necessity in each of our efforts, and especially those of my husband who is truly a hero.
We begin the months long work of clearing downed trees and branches, to make structures safe, and he’s patching up the well rutted road with the tractor. My hands are torn up and my feet ache – despite the warm weather they still feel laced with ice. We eat very well, and as part of God’s design, with the aid of sun, the hardships begin to get a touch fuzzy. I try to release more of it here as the true reason for getting words out. If anyone is still reading this rough unedited rant I thank you for your time.
My parents didn’t take us to the movies as much as I would’ve liked, but a couple of those early screenings have stuck with me as filmic comfort food. After the daily stress of the world on hold and nightly chores on the farm, 2020 has been the year of classic cinema. Not meaning highbrow, just old!
Grease is the word! Or it was last night, streaming into our living room. Way back, when movies stayed in the theater for months, I did get to see this film projected a couple times. That year a friend and I danced and sang our little girl heads off to the soundtrack. And when it later came out on VHS, and when my family eventually (better late than never) got a VCR, teenage me maybe might’ve rented it once, or twice, until someone down the road gave me a tape of my own. Never got around to a DVD copy.
So my hub and I watched, in HD on a decent sized flat screen. And during the climactic final duet, some childhood cinematic memory urged, “was I right?” There was something that I remembered feeling off about that part of the song where Sandy and Danny move their way up the zig zaggy stairs of a carnival attraction.
And there it was. The close ups didn’t match in continuity, the backdrop didn’t quite match, and were (now quite obviously) filmed on stage. I felt that as a kid! But I’ve seen this on tape several times since then, and thus knew this already no? No. Poking around versions of the scene on Youtube it became clear. After seeing it in the 1970’s theater, the other viewings were on a squarish TV, the image severely cropped (unless there’s a letterbox version out there), with the softer focus and drained color saturation of a film on tape.
Good grief, who knew then that seemingly useless observational sense would apply to decades of work as a script supervisor!
As an aside, in mentioning this to a friend, she brings up the cringiness of some of the sexist dialogue and lyrics in my beloved Grease. Well, I look at it as a film about the 50’s made during the 70’s. Context people! BTW what kind of example are today’s big name musical artists promoting? I will take my hand jive and pussy wagon all day long over a degraded twerking Cardi B or Miley Cyrus.