London Calling

I awoke muddled. Miss-the-tram-stop-and-have-to-walk-in-the-rain muddled. It’s all Big D’s fault for getting married yesterday. The day was hot and muggy and we had no problem with the idea of leaving the festivities early. Then there was a very light rain, the breeze picked up, and I was in a really good place, sitting out in the bar’s garden, drinking beer someone else had paid for, watching the sunset. We stayed longer than we should have. Also, I should never ride the trams before I’ve had tea.

I woke this morning at 5:30, tried to go back to sleep but there was too much to do. I had crashed at fuego’s after making plane reservations, and I was up in time to see them off to work. I sat down to check emails. I had a few responses to my announcement of travel plans, and a couple others from Rudolph (we’ll call him Rudolph until I forget and give him another name). Rudolph is on the ball. He’s not terribly experienced but he has the one key quality that every producer must have: he does not wait to see if things work out. He has a list of concerns, and when he has a problem he makes sure he’s not the only one with the problem.

Currently he is most worried about filling in some key holes in the production team. These are all volunteers, so in some cases they want to work on the project that will best help their own careers. That’s either the best script or the project with the industry mentor whose ass they most want to kiss. Our mentor, Seldom Seen Smith, could be a big boost for a New Mexico filmmaker’s career, but he hasn’t made an appearance yet. So fair enough, the Director of Photography candidates are waffling, but Rudolph doesn’t like uncertainty. He wants these guys to commit. I want to make sure that when they commit, they really commit.

This morning Rudolph also sent some heads-up messages about a couple of potential Ruthies. One candidate, apparently, is really, really tall. We’d probably have to hire Kareem Abdul-Jabaar as the pirate captain, but I’m not sure if he can say “Arrr!” with sufficient gusto.

Rudolph, despite his concerns, seemed to be looking forward to taking a break today and cutting the top off a car. And here’s one of the cool things about making a movie. People say yes to the most outrageous things. rudolph has a buddy with an old station wagon that runs well. All he wants out of it is he motor, so the body is our plaything. Because we’re making a movie. The art director says she can cut the top off no problem. It’s just how things work.

In the last shot we wanted fighter jets to fly past. Knowing that that was an outrageous request for a production of this scale, we wrote in a pair of black Suburbans instead, the kind the intelligence agencies are stereotyped to use. Rudolph said the suburbans were going to be a problem. There is really no money in the budget to rent cars, there’s just people and equipment. At some point we mentioned that what we really wanted was jets, anyway. It’s not a done deal by any means, but apparently jets are more doable than cars, since if the government agrees, they pay for it. The governor of New Mexico is not a lightweight and he’s a big supporter of this festival. So we’ll see.

Jets. That would just plain kick ass.

The flight from Prague to Gatwick was an odd one. I flew on a budget airline called “Smart Wings”, which may be Czech-owned. The crew was czech, and I took the in-flight magazine as a czech tutorial since it had the same articles in both Czech and English. While the crew may have been czech, the passengers were English. They were drunk english men, to be precise, most of them on the large side, all on the loud side. Some groups had matching shirts, so I assumed there was some sort of sporting event in Prague that had just wrapped up, but one group’s shirts were to commemorate a bachelor party.

I looked around the waiting area and there was exactly one female waiting to board, sitting as far away from the worst of the drunkards as she could. In the end there were two female passengers on the sold-out plane. We almost didn’t take off; the copilot came back to talk to some of the rowdier passengers. Riot on Airplane I imagined the headlines. I’ve had enough tear gas in my life already, thank you. (It doesn’t take much tear gas to be enough.) Finally things calmed down and we were on our way, but the copilot put in an appearance in the cabin a couple more times. “Don’t make me pull this thing over!” It wasn’t a long flight, it just seemed that way.

So here I am in a bar in England, paying far more for my beer than I am used to paying, but I must say I’ve been missing the ales. I keep speaking czech to the bartender. It’s the only czech I really know, and I guess this place still feels foreign enough that the czech impulses reign. Approaching the bar: Don’t be stupid. Speak English. “Another four X’s?” “Ano, děkuju.” D’oh!

Now, I’m very tired. It’s early here, and it’s early afternoon in New Mexico. I should stay up late tonight, to start adjusting. Yeah, right.

Tomorrow I hit the ground in Albuquerque. I need to find some Internet tonight to coordinate just who is meeting me and where I’m sleeping tomorrow night. Everybody is jumping to help. Rudolph sent a picture and said I could stay with him, which is probably the best idea, as long as he is a better conversationalist than I am.

2 thoughts on “London Calling

  1. You shoulda been in Clovis last week. They had jets. Boy, did they have jets. The folks there are working really hard to convince the military powers-that-be not to close the Air Force base there.

  2. An update: potentially good news for Clovis — the Base Relocation and Closure committee that was at Clovis last week got sufficiently positive vibes about Cannon Air Force Base that the chair of the committee sent a letter to Donald Rumsfeld questioning why this base was on the list of proposed closures — there are many other bases with far more shortcomings than Cannon had that weren’t on the list, and many of the shortcomings that were listed as reasons for closing Cannon were false, sometimes egregiously so — such as the assertion that Cannon was short on airspace for military practice flights, when Cannon is third in the country for airspace and is negotiating to get even more.

    Gee, I wonder if maybe the powers-that-be who made the recommendations had the same intelligence sources that asserted the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Yeah, we have to shut something down, so we’ll shut down the base in Roosevelt County, since there aren’t a whole lot of voters there — we’d rather make voters happy (or minimize the number we make unhappy) than make sure the Air Force is operating well.

    Lest you think I’ve become a war-mongering jingoist — rest assured, I haven’t. I just believe that any decision about something important has to rise above politics. A decision about which military installations to close or cut back upon has to hinge on what’s best for the military’s ability to protect this country.

    In similar fashion, a decision about endangered species must deal with the preservation of that species. If the scientific data show that a species is endangered, then it is endangered. We can’t look at how many people will lose their jobs and then decide that the species isn’t endangered after all. That species is just as endangered whether its protection causes no job loss or massive job loss. The challenge, in this case, is to find a way to re-employ people in protecting the species — not always an easy task.

    No, there are never any easy fixes. But at least for the folks in Clovis, there’s hope.

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