Translate This Page




Here's where you can buy the MisAdventures worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France

United Kingdom ...........................Spain

Canada ........................................ Italy

Germany ..................................... Japan

Brazil .......................................... India

Friday, February 3, 2012


"We owe a lot to Thomas Edison. If it wasn't for him we'd be watching television by candlelight." (Al Boliska)

"Aw, Geeze, Guys, You Gotta Help Me," pleaded the Code Red Location Manager. "I'm getting royally fucked on that fireworks story."

"But we already fixed the sucker once," Chris pointed out. "Turned a car on fire in a canyon into a pickup truck explosion in a parking lot."

"An abandoned parking lot," I added. And just in case he'd forgotten our wonderfulness, I ticked off fingers: "Approved by the fire department. The air pollution people. And the environmental control agency."

"No, no, that gag's all set," the Location Guy said. "It's the big fourth act fire that's giving us conniptions."

"The restaurant deal?" I asked.

He sighed. "Yeah, the restaurant deal."

"But we're shooting on Monday," Chris said - a fact the guy already knew, or he wouldn't be here on his knees begging for help.

"That's the thing," the Location Guy said. "The owner waited until the last minute, then demanded more money." Another sigh. "A lot more money."

The restaurant in question was not only way, way out of business, but the lot the building stood on would be worth a helluva lot more if the building was demolished. We had offered the owner a bundle of cash if he let us burn it down first. Now he wanted more and unless something was done pretty damned quick, he'd have us spread-eagled over a fire hydrant.

It's not easy to find something to burn. Unless they are in league with Terry The Torch, people generally don't like to have their houses and business burned to the ground. Also, the fire department tends to frown on such activity, as do the county air pollution people. That goes double in LA, where sometimes the smog is so bad you can't see across the street. (The car burning in the canyon was nixed by the environmental control agency. Spotted owls, or something.)

It was an especially hard task on Code Red where we had to have two fires a week, one small and cheap, but the other something spectacular - and cheap. Fortunately, we had one of the best Location Managers in the business, and he and his crew scoured the area daily to find things we could (legally) set on fire.

Don't Mess With The Actors
Unless we wanted to pay the actors and crew golden time, or put them up in hotel rooms if it was a night shoot, the location had to be within what Hollywood calls "The Loop." Loosely defined, The Loop is within a 30-mile radius of SAG (the Screen Actors' Guild ) headquarters, which started life as a one-office dump near the La Brea Tar Pits and over the decades meandered into pretty nice digs on Wilshire Boulevard.

Ideally, the location would match whatever was going on in the script, but the fireworks story had given us a lot trouble, starting with the fact that the freelance writers responsible were so pissed off at Irwin (The Towering Toupee ) Allen that they just dumped it on our desk and ran like hell for the nearest bar.

Also, the story idea was pretty lame: kid dealers selling illegal firecrackers to their chums. You know, start 'em on sparklers and pretty soon they're hooked on M-80's.

The biggest problem, however, involved locations that kept falling out. When that happened, it was the job of the story editors to find a substitute flammable object with minimal changes to the story. Not because we were loathe to mess with the writer's artistic intent. I mean, get real, this was network television folks. But because at this point the script had been approved by legions of vice presidents of this and that, including the most important of all, Susan (The Censor) Futterman.

She was not only a VP, but for reasons involving making nice to the Federal Communications Commission so ABC could get away with all those T&A shows, she was on the board of directors of the Anything But Class network.

Chris asked, "What'cha got to burn, besides Irwin's toupee." He held his nose. "What a stink! Imagine the grief the EPA would give us if we set fire to that."

Laughing, the Location Manager handed us some photographs of possible sites. "Already talked to the owners, plus I've got permits drawn up and ready to go."

"That restaurant was a two-story job," I observed. "And there's a big action-packed rooftop scene, so we have to match that."

Chris pulled out a picture of an old warehouse, with a boarded over garage set into it. "How about this?" he asked. "We can change the victim from a fry cook to a mechanic, no problem."

"Perfect," the Location Manager said. "We can get that dump really cheap, too."

Okay, so everybody was going to be happy, except for the greedy guy who owned the abandoned restaurant. Now, he would not only be out the money we had offered, but the cost of the demolition job just went up, since he wouldn't have our crack special effects maestro - Joe Unsinn - to burn it down first.

We got busy making the changes and then called the Casting Office to alert the actor hired to play a fry cook that we were waving our Magic Writer Wands and poof! he was a garage mechanic. Both involved grease, so what the hell, right? If he was a Method Actor he could just imagine car grease instead of deep fry grease. And if he wasn't, shit, he could just read the lines like they do in the U.K. where most of the best English language actors and actresses reside.

After work, we had a beer or three with the Location Manager. We asked what locations were the hardest to manage.

We thought he was going to say the gang areas of LA, but he said, "Oh, they're pussycats. Get all Hollywood starry-eyed when they find out we're going to shoot a TV show on their turf."

"No problem with warring gangs?" Chris wondered.

"No way," he said. "We hire guys from both gangs for security, plus we tell them that if they are good boys, we'll put 'em on TV. Make them and their girlfriends background extras, and such." He chuckled. "You'd be surprised how many already have SEG (Screen Extras Guild ) cards."

Don't Shoot In Chinatown
He swallowed beer, then said, "Worse place to work is Chinatown. The shop owners there are always trying to find ways to screw greenbacks out of you."

Location Managers typically carry huge rolls of cash in their pockets for emergencies, like getting rid of trouble makers, or tipping employees who might be surly because their boss makes them work harder when the shoot is going down.

"One time in Chinatown," the Location Manager said, "we were shooting up the hill - you know where the main entrance is?" We both nodded.

"It was a handheld deal, tracking the detectives to this antique shop where they're following up on a clue. Anyway, I paid the shop owners on both sides to keep out of the way for a few hours. Greased everybody who would be in camera range - which was about halfway up the hill.

"Well, we're shooting away, and all of sudden there's a creek running down the middle of the sidewalk. Director's going, 'What the fuck? Cut, cut! Where'd that fucking water come from?' I go up the hill to see, and damn if there isn't some guy - way out of camera range - casually hosing down the pavement outside of his shop. He sees me and just smiles and aims the sucker more down the hill.

"I'm thinking, no problem. I give him a few twenties and he stops with the hose. But, I had no sooner got back to the action, when more water starts running down the middle of the sidewalk."

"The other Shopkeepers, right?" Chris said.

The Location Manager nodded.

"So you had to pay them off too?" I guessed "Must have been an expensive morning."

The Location Manager shook his head. "Nope," he said. "Pissed the director off so much he brought in a rainbird (a machine that makes it look like rain) and we changed the scene so the actors were walking up the hill in a storm."

"Shit, it never rains in LA," Chris said.

"Did that day," the Location Manager replied.

Laughing, we finished our beers and headed home, well satisfied with our day.

As it turned out, we didn't need a rainbird for the storms that followed. And on the same blinking episode, too.



The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!


Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    


Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?

No comments:

Post a Comment