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Steverino ex machina.

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Location: PEI, Canada

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

ABC has an interesting show on right now. Well, maybe it's just winding up. I don't know, 'cause it wasn't interesting enough to hold my interest. Apparently there isn't enough stuff going on right now to make people scared, so they came up with something to act as "fear filler". I can hear the network execs pitching it now... "There's no big storms right now - well, except for Mexico, but who cares about that - no new war, yadda yadda... I say we make a top ten of the worst possible scenarios for mankind." In the minutes that I watched, they covered:

- gamma ray blast of an exploding sun 8 whateverillion light years away, which would kill all life and scald/dry everything, even altering us right down to our cells, making it impossible to get use out of food / drink. What fun! I guess terrorism is SO 2001 now.

- black hole which would suck everything in it. One dude said it would rip your feet off, then legs, etc. Another guy said he thought it would be a cool way to go. Nice. And less friggin' likely than the prvious one, that isn't very likely. Stephen Hawking even said so, but I don't think they wanted to talk to him for more than one question, 'cause they were afraid of making his eyelids tired from talking too much.

- machines that turn against us. An old fear. Possible, like the other ones, but only if we're stupid enough to make something which makes this possible. Some Dollar Store batteries or a pulled plug could fix this imminent catastrophe.

Holy frig what a waste of TV time. Couldn't they have done a feature on something useful? Like the state New Orleans is still in? Or another point of view on the Middle East? Or maybe something positive... like how to do some good and make a difference in/to this world in three easy steps or less. Surely to God, if there can be Seven Minute Abs (maybe even six!), there can be positive and constructive TV. Anyway, the biggest threat to the world is us, not some outside force. We're just too blind, ignorant, and selfish to admit it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Last week I went on another trip to NS (which also included a trip to PEI on one day). In short, it was motherfarkin' awesome.

It's called the Atlantic Teachers Tour. For four days, we got schooled on tons of things forestry related. We went to see harvesting, thinning, planting, planning, effluent treatment, production, we had presentations, we just about had it all. We learned scads. I left feeling a bit better about the forestry industry, which was probably one of my main goals. The thing that impressed me most (and there were many things) was the sense of care and responsibility, especially by small woodlot owners. In NS, we saw how a large company has things marked on maps like nests of birds of prey, so that they avoid those trees. That, among other things, I thought was cool. For the small woodlot owner (Sid Watts on good ol' PEI), I was impressed with how much work he will do for his lot, just for the betterment of it. He'll see some profit, sure, but overall, he's planning and doing things that he'll never see any benefit from. It was a great attitude of stewardship and doing the right thing. I thought it would be nice if everyone thought of the world that way.

Aside from learning, we had a lot of fun. We had lots of laughs (got Team Pregnant! I mean Purple!) driving, and lounging around the lodge. We had campfires, stayed up real late drinking, talking, and playing crib of all things. There was a reception and meal every night... from bruschetta to salmon to bacon-wrapped scallops, to veggies & cheese, to apple-stuffed pork & shrimp-stuffed haddock... great veggie sides, BBQ night was incredible, deserts were awesome. Man, it was killer. And, ya can't beat free drinks every day. Double rum & cokes (good & strong, too), beers aplenty, Singapore slings, scotch... and that was just me! They really knew how to cater to teachers. :)

It was A-1 all-round. I hope to try and keep contact with some of the cool folks I met. Maybe I'll try and attend next year's similar tour in NB. Free travel and liquor? OK!

Hey hey, my my... good news yesterday. I got my contract for next year (my P2 year) boosted from 85% to 100%! Woohoo! Now, hopefully, I should be able to sign my tenure contract next June at 100%, thereby solidifying some job safety and my perpetual percentage status! Nice!

One subject got dropped, but I got a big one in return... plus some other changes. So, what's a 100% teaching assignment look like in a small school? Check it out... if you dare...

1-6 technology (six individual and different classes to plan for)
7/8 tech (1/2 hour class a cycle)
Library (1/2 hour each day)
Grade 8 Language Arts
5/6 Science
5/6 Health
7/8 Science
1/2 French (1/2 hour a cycle)
Site Tech Contact duties (fixing, helping, making calls and whatnot, etc)
Resource time (I think with 1s and 2s now)
Data entry (homework / detention slips)

Sweet merciful crap, that's like a couple or few jobs there! It's pretty nuts when I can look at it like that. Well, I'll try to squeeze some more out of summer, and then it's back to the grind I go. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 07, 2006

T.P.B. Photo Essay!

I finally got some time to upload these (it's a bitch on this dang dial-up). Enjoy!

The "jail", looking gloomy in the morning fog. It's right next to the cars...

Some of the assorted vehicles on set. On the other side of that building is the start of the main street of the current park (the office trailer, extras trailer, etc.).

The Shitmobile!

Ricky's pad. I like the lunchbox and the drugs drying in the window.

Three sevenths of our crew, looking like regular park riffraff.

Hmm... I wonder whose shed this could be...

As if we didn't know...

Tim with the go-kart.

Me in Bubbles' shed. There was a pic of me and one of the kitties working on a Rubik's cube, but I don't like how I look in it.

The "Extras Holding" trailer, with the other extras. How posh!

The current park.

The front part of the set. A "separate" park from the current one.

Wendy and Pat.

My very first acting cheque/slip... for the TPB!

Sunnyvale from the road. PEI, here we (sleepily) come.

Again, there's some pics I know I can't show, and some others I'm unsure of. On account of my hush-hush agreement, I'd better not show 'em. Maybe after certain episodes air I will. Also, some stuff I just left out, since it wasn't terribly exciting. Like, Julian's trailer. It's right next to Bubbles' shed, but there's nothing noteworthy about it. Anyway, I tried to show you the best of what I feel is safe to show. Hope you liked 'em.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well. Things didn't go as planned. Allow me to try and explain the story as briefly... nah, frig it... as completely as I can.

First off, I had to sign an agreement about not telling or showing things, well... anything... so I'll just go with what I think I can freely/legally say.

In the end, after several changes / casting scenarios, seven of us got to go on the trip. We were to show up on location at 4:00am Friday morning in Nova Scotia, dressed "upscale casual". We met in Summerside, and left at around 11:30pm Thursday night. Well, we ate at Rotten Ronnie's first, then we left. So, I guess we probably shoved off at about 12:00. We arrived at our NS destination at about 3:30. We waited in the car for a bit, had a little walk around... the shitmobile was there, a cop car, and shoot gear / vehicles and whatnot. It was starting to feel a little more real. As it got closer to 4:00, and after 4:00, other extras started to arrive. Not too long after 4:00, we got the news. Jonathan Torrens, AKA J-Roc, who was needed for our shoot wasn't able to fly out of New York (bad storm). So, the whole shoot was cancelled. As Wendy, the organizer / brains of it all said, it was a "clusterfuck". We were like, "Well, crap. We thought this might happen. We thought we were going to be on the TPB, we're tired, we drove all this way, payed money for the trip already, and we get SFA."

But, then, a rainbow of hope came through the foggy and cold NS skies. Wendy told us that she may have nothing for us to be in, but at least she'd take us back to the park and we could see it along with whoever was there. I was still disappointed, but glad we could go to the park. I still held onto a bit of hope I'd get to be on camera, too, but I didn't want to hope too much. So, tow trucks came and took everything away, and cleared the scene. The other extras waited in line for their cheques to get their min. 4 hours pay, and went on their way (except for about 6 of them). We got in our cars and waited for the caravan to the park to get started. We stopped at Tim's first to pick up some snacks for the set. We made sure to take a box of boxes to ensure our indisposability. Then, it was like a high-speed chase of 4 or 5 cars in a row around the area, zigging and zagging, running ambers and maybe some reds, to stick together and make it to Sunnyvale.

Then, there it was. Sunnyvale Trailer Park. Well, one of the parks they've used over the years anyway. This is, obviously, the most recent one, and the one they used for the movie shoot (which comes out in October! woo!).We drove up through the gates, then, actually through the park to get to the other side of it to park our cars. Along the way, we could see all the trailers, different items, like Bubbles' go-kart, Ray's sleeper, etc. We were like freakin' kids in a freakin' DisneyWorld made of candy. We went around back, and parked our cars. Funny thing was, the back of the big old building (can't say what, as it may give away the location) that the park was built in front of actually served as the jail. We'd thought the jail was a different location, but it's right on the set. The rest of the building had camouflage paint on it, as, for the movie, they stuck trees and stuff to the side of it to make it disappear, make it look like a wood lot or something (Daryl, the DVD guy, told us this and some other cool stories). I'll be curious to see how well they made the big building disappear. So, back by the "jail" was their parking lot as well. Two shitmobiles, Julian's car, cop cars, other cars... all just sitting there. Some cars are in various states of condition, which may give away plot stuff, so I won't show those pics. I'll just show things that won't give anything away. So, if you're saying "where's that car/thing?" I probably can't show you that pic for some reason.

We walked around the back of the lot / set, seeing various things here and there... and that's when we hit the end of the street. Of course, all along the street are the trailers. It was cool, 'cause it's like seing the actual home of one of your TV characters... akin to landing on Sesame Street and seeing Oscar's can, perhaps. You see J-Roc's house, Ricky's, Julian's, Bubbles' shed and go-kart... they're all there, yard junk and all. Very cool. This was still really early in the morning, like, probably 6:00am. It was cool, foggy, and awesome. We took some pictures of the trailers and recognizable things, looked in Bubbles' shed and took a couple of pics in and out of it, talked to Daryl the DVD guy along the way, and made it back to the front of the park, where we were to wait for anything to happen.

It was about this time, when we made it back to "Go", that Wendy came and told us that if anyone was taking pics during the shooting, that those people would be asked to leave. "So we should put our cameras away in our cars, then? OK." So, we didn't get any celeb pics or anything, but that's OK. The "Extras Holding" trailer wasn't exactly swank. The professional extras were in there with us: one introverted musical kid, a dressy older guy that just had his head back and eyes closed the whole time, another regular dude, reading, and a couple of older ladies who didn't seem to fit in. They talked a lot about other shoots they'd been on, including previous TPB episodes, something with Tom Sellick, how this set-up was really nice compared to other ones, etc. They thought they knew it all, it seemed. They thought this set-up was nice, 'cause at least we weren't outside. I guess, sometimes, extras can wait in the rain/cold. We were in what was probably a pretty typical trailer on set (everything was in trailers... lunch, offices, etc.). It had sloppy pale green walls with holes in it, plywood floor, mismatched lamps, a fridge with junk in it, a table, grey lockers on both sides of the room, and other assorted trailer decor touches. Lemme tell ya, it wasn't glamourous. A lot of the time we sat outside, to avoid the scene in there (people, smell, airborne toxins, who knows). Pigeons also loved these places. They were always flying up into some nook or hole in any given trailer.

After what seemed like a pretty long while, all the other extras got sent home, but got paid for (I think) their 8 hour min. for setting foot on set. Then, we waited for a another while, thinking we could be there f o r e v e r because that's how slow time seemed to be going. Not fun. Around, oh, 8:30, I think, Wendy came in all jazzed and said she needed three people! Woo! Our doubts about our chances just got smaller. Smaller because there were seven of us. We let Tim (the organizer) and his son go, and Gordo just rammed his way on up, too. You see, this guy was apparently on the bottom of OUR list. Last one picked, shoulda been last one to get a chance. But, he just zoomed his way into action. So, the other four of us were left in the trailer for a looong time, moping about how this could be it and we may not get any chances. We were a bit hopeful, but things were feeling pretty tired and bleak.

Things weren't all so bad, though. By the end of the day, all of us got to do at least four to six shots, I bet. I can't remember for sure, but I think the next call was for everyone. There was a scene down the street, and everyone was given something to do along the sides of it, as background action. For this, Jeff and I were as far back as you can go, blocked by some trees. We were pretending to work on an old car. Not much of a chance we'll be seen in that... scene. My next scene was pretty awesome. Two of the main characters were having a confrontation of sorts. One was between two trailers, and one was driving up and stopping there to get them. Tim's son and I were walking at the front of the driveway, between the car and other person, so there should be a good chance we'll at least get my arm or something in that one, heh. Tom said he could see the camera, though, so maybe our faces will show up. I hope so, but I won't hold my breath. We also did two "establishing shots". Basically just the street with people doing regular things on it. They'd say "rolling" & maybe "action", then "background" for us to start moving. In the afternoon one, I'm walking across the street, right up front, near the camera (yes!). In the early evening one, I'm about halfway up the street, leaning on a TV with a buddy, drinking. We watch a car screech by. My other shot may be a good one, too. I was between two trailers (as were a few of us), as a car and someone running by it go by. As the car goes by, I'm walking down my step with a beer, to my BBQ. Hopefully it shows up! That shot was funny, 'cause on the other side of the trailer next to me, Neal was using a bong.

The lunch, also in a rented trailer, was awesome. There was chicken and fish, roasted and herbed up (how appropriate) wee potatoes, roasted carrots and beans, mixed greens salad with an awesome dressing, great strawberry cake, and there was always stuff to drink around... water, iced tea, pop. Through the run of the day, we also had grilled cheese, our morning snacks, and pizza. We also apparently missed the good morning food (nobody told us we could go into where it was).

For the most part, everyone was pretty friendly. Most of the crew was essentially go-go-go, tons of energy all day, trying to get stuff done. Not rude, just business. A couple of them were more friendly. A couple of the actors weren't too talkative, but then again, they were in character. I have to say I was surprised by Lucy. She would never register on a "fave character" list from the show before, but she was really nice. She would come up to us and talk our ears off non-stop, curse worse than a sailor, give people the finger, say she was going off to kill herself (in jest, of course), stuff like that. She was very easy-going and easy to talk to... and gave me the finger for shits and giggles during shots. In between shots, she'd sing and dance, too. Pretty funny. One thing I never saw coming? She snubbed Physics to do a degree in Sociology, has done grad work (or degree), and is going to do her (at least) Masters in Education in Australia next year. A nutty super intellectual... go figure. We didn't get to see a couple of the main characters we wanted to, but that's OK.

At the end of the loooooong (work) day, 4:00am - 6:45pm, we were pretty beat. Beat, but excited about what we'd just been able to do. We got our cheques, signed our "cone of silence" forms, and went on our way from Sunnyvale. The crew said we were pretty much the best extras they'd ever had (quick, on the ball, on the right spots, not goofing around), which was nice. They also thought it was very cool we came all the way from PEI just to do that. I think that may have been part of the reason we got to stick around and got such good treatment. Who knows.

So, off we were to try and find our way back home through all the twists and turns we took on the way there. We'd all been up for about 35 hours or so by this point, and were pretty zonked. We stopped for some DQ on the way home, at Mastadon Ridge, and drove on to Summerside, blackened by night, just like we'd left it. We came full circle, and luckily nobody crashed anything due to exhaustion. I would like to know why someone was driving a golf kart on a main street in Summerside that night, though. By the time my head hit the pillow at home, I'd been up for 41 hours. Forty-one monotonous, tiring, endless, repetitive, entertaining, exciting, once-in-a-lifetime awesome hours.