Sunday, April 30, 2006

Eerie Coincidences Continue

Parsons' Plans Lie Among Ruins of Iraq - Los Angeles Times
Pasadena-based Parsons was to rebuild the health and security sectors. But poor work and U.S. lapses leave many goals abandoned, sources say.
By T. Christian Miller - Times Staff Writer
April 29, 2006

I know someone who interviewed to work for them. This kind of thing often happens to companies who interview this person but don't hire him. Strange.

Ontario's A&W Drive-In Closing

A&W Drive-In Closing - Los Angeles Times
The Southland's last A&W with carhop service is calling it quits. Today's eat-and-run crowd prefers drive- through windows.
By Susannah Rosenblatt, Times Staff Writer
April 29, 2006

Today is the last day.

>>Ontario's A&W drive-in, the last root beer stand in Southern California with carhop service, is closing Sunday.
For 46 years, the curbside servers at A&W — on and off roller skates — have delivered their signature root beer floats in frosty glass mugs right to your driver's seat.
"There's not many mom-and-pop places left," said Larry Roan, 64, who has run the stand with his wife, Sherrill, since 1971. After 3 1/2 decades of seven-day workweeks and diminishing sales, the Roans are ready to retire.
Four of A&W's roughly 100 remaining drive-ins are in California, all in the Central Valley. The chain was founded in 1919 in Lodi.

Most of the company's 1,300 locations are conventional fast-foot restaurants, said A&W spokesman Rick Maynard. But the company, owned by Louisville-based Yum! Brands Inc., which operates Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and Long John Silver's, has opened two drive-ins near Orlando, Fla., since 2004.<<

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mail From the Mouse

Stuff like this postcard I got in the mail makes me scratch my head. I never wanted to stop being a Disneyland Cast Member in the first place. It was an extra job for me. I did it for the fun of it. Since I wasn't relying on it for income, it wasn't stressful for me. I enjoyed interacting with the guests, and passing along traditions to those working with me who hadn't been there as along as I had.

For many years, I got away with working Saturday, Sunday, and holidays (and Fridays, if needed), even though everyone was officially required to be available work full time in the summer season, the winter holiday season, and spring break. I think Cast Scheduling's definitions of those seasons are now as follows:

Summer: Sometime in May to sometime in September
Winter Holidays: The weeks containing Christmas Day and New Years Day, and a week before or after that block.
Spring Break: Three of four weeks.

Never mind that college students would have classes much of that time, even if they didn't take any summer courses. And, of course, a great many cast members have at least one other job.

But after years of "getting away" with working only my days off from my "real" job, the demand came down that I (and others like me) work as cast members 5+ days a week in the summer. Considering my "real" job paid me considerably more, the choice was easy enough to keep my real job and be forced out of my term as a Disneyland Cast Member.

Now, as the summer season approaches again, I get this invitation to apply to come back... with no seniority or any of the things I had grandfathered into my routine there... like having my own costume locker.

Is Casting hoping that I've lost my "real" job and have been unable to find a comperable position elsewhere? I mean, unless they are now willing to let me stick to working weekends through the summer, what would be the point of me calling that hotline?

As the postcard says, the perks are pretty sweet if you or your family are into Disney or the Disneyland Resort. Of course, if you worked for In-n-Out Burger, you could be doing the same kind of work and the difference in pay could more than cover the costs of buying yourself an Annual Pass, admission for friends, and the regular (instead of discounted) merchandise and food prices. Still, if you're really interested in being a Disneyland Cast Member, read this first before you call that hotline, and go for it! There's no place like it.

MastersFX's Horror and Sci-Fi Creations

Fulfilling a Boyhood Dream of Making Gore for Fun and Profit - Los Angeles Times
With body parts, slimy creatures and ghoulish effects, Todd Masters leaves his mark on films and TV shows.
By Richard Verrier - Times Staff Writer
April 23, 2006

>>Inside his shop of horrors, not far from three naked, bloated bodies propped against the wall, Todd Masters proudly displays his latest creation: an impaled head.

For a scene in the upcoming horror flick "Snakes on a Plane," Masters and his colleagues have rigged the silicone head with a giant syringe that will pump a blood-like corn syrup mixture through the ear canal.
When it comes to creating gruesome physical effects — as opposed to those created on a computer screen — few have an edge on MastersFX, the company Masters founded two decades ago.
Their numbers have dwindled over the last 15 years, falling from about 30 companies to fewer than 10 as filmmakers have relied more and more on digital effects.
Masters' warehouse contains countless boxes of foam and silicone body parts. There are dismembered torsos, intestines, skulls, noses, leg stumps, human hair, even brains — leftovers from an operation scene in Stephen King's TV miniseries "Kingdom Hospital."<<

David W. S., if you're reading this, e-mail me. My e-mail address is at the end of my columns.

When I was a teenager, I really got in to all of this stuff along with my partner-in-crime, Francisco M. (Hey, Francisco, if you're reading this, I want you to e-mail me, too!) Francisco and I made stop-motion films in junior high school that featured comparitively crude versions of this kind of work - in clay. They were titled, descriptively enough, "Laserfight" and "Laserfight II". Todd helped us out on the sequel. We also did the annual Halloween thing of applying bloody make-up effects to ourselves to give the kids a show as they came to my house for trick-or-treating. We coined a term for our art, but I'm not publishing that here yet.

Alas, writing and theme park design had more of a hold over me especially in high school, where we didn't have filmmaking classes. My family home ended up being sold and Francisco went back to Chile with his family, so I had to find new places to help out on Halloween.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Had Lunch With Betty White

I had lunch today with Betty White. And Johnny Grant. Betty White!!!

Well, me and hundreds of other people.

Damn, she made me laugh as Rose when she did those shows.

Seems like a sweet lady.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ken Quoted

Flooded Road Reopens to Public
Official says there’s no timeline for permanent bridge.
Kristopher Daams / Signal Staff Writer

>>"This was the most challenging effort resulting from last year’s storms for this area," said Ken Pellman, the spokesman for the county’s Department of Public Works.

While the road was under repair, a pilot car would have to escort a dozen or so other vehicles at slow speeds through the road during rush hour because a portion of it ran on a bridge with only one lane.

"It was just to get these people through who depended on that road for their commute, because otherwise they would have quite a detour and that would have increased traffic on other roads," Pellman said. "This is an important link between Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley."

A two-lane temporary bridge was completed and opened March 15, Pellman said, and the road had to be completely shut down for two weeks during its construction.

"The road is done until we go and build the permanent bridge, which we don’t have on a hard timeline yet," Pellman said.
Pellman said he expects traffic to be able to flow on San Francisquito Road during most of the construction of the permanent bridge.

"The important thing is that we wanted to get two-lane traffic," Pellman said.<<

Stay Out of the Washes, Channels, and Rivers

From the Los Angeles Times
2 Girls Rescued in Pacoima Wash
From a Times Staff Writer
April 9, 2006

Pacoima Wash sounds like a coin-op laundry. It's not. It is part of the flood control & water conservation system in the Los Angeles area. Thanks to recent storms, there are high flows of water in the system.

>>Firefighters rescued two girls who fell into a flood-control channel Saturday in Sylmar and were carried more than two miles by a 20 mph current.

The girls, who are cousins ages 16 and 11, were playing near the Pacoima Wash when they fell into the channel and were swept away, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Had they not been rescued at that point, the girls would have entered a more dangerous part of the channel and probably drowned, he added.<<

The water is cold, turbulent, and often full of nasty stuff. It's very easy to die when swept away in part of the flood control system. The swiftwater rescue crews are awesome, but there's only so much they can do.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My Letter to the Editor

Pasadena Star-News Printed My Letter on eHarmony Lawsuit

>>If this suit gains any traction, it will be a sign of just how absurd we're getting about discrimination criteria. Being married is not a trivial thing, and eHarmony is right to require people to be unmarried to use certain features of the site.<<