Friday, August 17, 2007

Black Wednesday (no racism intended)

Been an odd week.

It started well (or, maybe, last week merely ended well): we wrapped Splatter Movie, ending not with a bang or a whimper but more of an "OK, I guess we're done". Having captured all the footage, I found only one small insert needed due to a continuity error. Otherwise, it's all fine—much of it is actually beautiful, courtesy of Jeff's lighting and the natural photogenic qualities of both the Hundred Acres Manorand our cast. Now all we need to do is finish editing.

Sunday we briefly assisted Nic Pesante on his short film, which gave us the chance to catch up with Rich Conant (Absence of Light) and Debbie Rochon. Then we went to Amy's family reunion and ate way too much.

Monday we decided that it was too nice a day to work, so we both took half-days. We went to Oakland and checked out some of the vintage book stores, then had lunch with Debbie and took her to the airport. Following that, Amy, Jeff and I returned to the Manor to shoot some publicity stills and fulfill our contractual obligation by shooting a video installation for their opening room. I won't mention who donned the very creepy "living skin" mask and the old suit for the sequence, but he was amazing. A true thespianic genius.

Tuesday, I had a very good job interview for something that, while not completely up my alley, at least pays more and had better hours than anything I've been doing lately. Then I returned to my marketing job, waiting to hear if I got this new position or not. I was terribly nervous about this because, as you know, Tuesdays and I don't get along very well. But no plummeting pianos came forth (or downward) and we escaped the day relatively unscathed. We celebrated our niece's first birthday (Happy Birthday, Haley!) and returned home, full of pizza and hope.

So far, so good, right? And to think I thought nothing could go wrong since The Muppet Show Season two was released last week!

Wednesday…It would appear that Tuesday had taken the day off and decided to double its efforts on Wednesday. I woke up to discover that one of the companies I do PR for were "no longer in need of [my] services". But would I mind finishing out August. I didn't, since they'd already paid me. It wasn't a nasty letter, or a "you suck" message. This happens. They decided to go with a bigger firm in L.A. and that's perfectly understandable. It still blows, but it's understandable.

At this point, good news about a new job would be very welcome.

It didn't come.

Keeping my head down and my mind focusing on capturing footage, I avoided the internet and the mail box, thus avoiding further bad news. Then Amy called, stuck in traffic due to multiple accidents on rush hour traffic-choked bridges and highways. No one in Pittsburgh can drive, so there is one of these every fifteen minutes somewhere around the city. I told her to call me when she got closer so that I could start dinner. The next call she made was a bad one: the car died. All the warning lights came on, smoke poured out and oil spilled onto the highway. She just managed to ease it over to the side of the road—no shoulder and on a busy interstate. Of course, just about every driver in PA is an asshole as well, so no one moved over for her and she was almost hit a number of times by cars and trucks passing too closely to our dying car. She called the cops to report this—since it's, you know, like a law in PA that you have to move over to avoid hitting people on the side of the road. But for people doing 90 on an interstate, what's one more violation? If you're going to get pulled over for speeding, might as well add vehicular homicide to the mix. What is that? One point on your license or something?

But the car thing is particularly tragic. This 2000 Saturn wagon was the first new car we'd ever bought together. It hauled anything we threw in the back—equipment, con inventory, screen doors—the trunk space knew very few bounds. You can see that car in Severe Injuries, A Feast of Flesh and Retreat. We lived in that car. We drove it to Canada, to Tennessee, North Carolina, New York, Michigan… And after we moved 60 miles away from Pittsburgh, we drove it over 100 miles a day back and forth to work. It passed 200,000 miles a few months back and it was still going strong. It no longer had air conditioning and the vinyl trunk covering has been eaten by the garage, but the body was in good condition and our mechanic was convinced the engine would last forever.

Monday, after our last shoot at the Hundred Acres Manor and, consequently, our last Splatter Movie shooting day, we passed 220,000 miles. Not to anthropomorphize the vehicle, but, the car seemed happy.

After towing it to our favorite Monroe garage, our mechanic, George, informed us that there was a softball-sized hole in our engine. A new engine for it would be more than the car was worth and, quite frankly, we think the car gave us all that it could. And more.

This left us terribly depressed. Not to mention in a bit of a bind—especially if I do end up getting that new job, which would require me, at least occasionally, to have a car of my own.

Thursday morning seemed very grim. It was storming and pouring out. We left the dogs inside and headed for work. We had considered not going in at all, but I had an assignment for Fangoria to cover, so Amy opted to go to work as well. About twenty minutes from town, the rain stopped, the sun rose and the day turned beautiful. Amy got to work and started researching new cars, I headed for my assignment and spent the morning standing on the very spot where all the basement scenes for Night of the Living Dead had been shot. Finishing up my interviews, I went back to my marketing job and immediately got a call on my cell: I got the new job. I start Monday. Barring any catastrophes, I'll be making something close to a decent, regular salary for the first time in my life. The cloud of Black Wednesday hadn't lifted, but they were letting some light in.

Today, we have to find this new car, which requires waiting to hear first if we're approved for a new loan. This is going to mean a car payment—something we haven't had in over a year—and higher insurance. So there goes my nifty new salary, but at least we won't be further behind. I've solicited a couple of new companies about the possibility of writing for them, but haven't heard back yet. (I have no end of cheerleaders when it comes to my writing prowess. Any time I have an ego falter, Amy is there to pick me up; countless others as well. But I can't shake the feeling that if I were really that good, I'd be working a whole lot more…) In the meantime, Sirens of Cinema's 2nd Anniversary issue is in layout and will be on the stands with a gorgeous Joe Jusko cover sometime in September and I still have one or two other companies to rep with PR, so things aren't as black as they seemed a few days ago.

Still, the sooner this week is over, the better.

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