Monday, June 20, 2011

Worst Graphics Session Ever


After almost twenty years as a video writer/producer, most of that time spent in dark rooms working with an editor or a graphics operator, there are bound to be a few projects that didn’t go as well as I would have wanted them to.

The worst graphics session I can remember (there are probably sessions even more heinous this one, but my mind has mercifully erased them from my memory) took place at one of the most expensive video post production companies in town. I hired the company’s design group to do promo graphics.

At first, they treated me like royalty. I had my own project coordinator who had me come to their offices to meet with their design team. I attended two meetings where I discussed the project with two designers, a graphics operator, the project coordinator, and the head of the design group. There were a couple of other people in the room, but I can’t remember who or why they were there. Maybe they were called in to help fill up the room.

The designers came up with some brilliant ideas and we all agreed on the direction to take. There was lots of creative energy. I was told more than once about how excited everyone was to work on my project. After the second meeting, the project coordinator showed me the session room where my graphics would be created. The room was the home for the latest hot shot graphics machine. It was a big room with a long desk and comfy couch for the client.

“When you come in on Monday,” the project coordinator said, “we’ll have already started on your job. This is going to be the best graphics session you’ve ever had. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.”

This was on a Thursday. I spent the weekend feeling like this project was one less thing I had to worry about.

When I arrived on Monday, I signed in at the front desk and went to the big session room where my project was supposed to have already started. When I entered the room, I was confronted by someone I had never seen before. He wasn’t the graphics operator who had been to my meetings. He scowled at me and this is what he said verbatim:

“What the fuck are you doing in here?”

I explained that I had a session in this room today. And this is how he responded. Verbatim:

“No you don’t. I’m working in this room today. Get the fuck out of here, asshole. This is my room.”

I should add that he yelled his responses. Now, I have worked for a video post production company. If I had spoken to any client, whether they were my client or not, in the same manner that this dipshit had spoken to me, I would have been fired immediately. Even after I complained about his behavior, nothing was done about this guy. Hell, he probably got a fucking raise.

I went and asked the front desk receptionist where my session was since it apparently wasn’t in the room I was told it would be in. The receptionist looked at the schedule and said she didn’t see me listed as having a session with their company today, but if I wanted to I could ask the head of the design group to check the weekly schedule. So I asked the receptionist to get me the head of the design group.

“I don’t know where she is right now,” the receptionist said. “I’m sure she’s around somewhere. Would you like to wait? She’ll probably come by sometime today.”

I didn’t care to wait. I stalked the halls until I found the head of the design group sitting in her office. Apparently her office was the last place the receptionist expected her to be. I told her about my bad experience with the rude operator and the fact that I wasn’t listed on the schedule and where the hell was the session I was paying for that day.

Needless to say, the head of the design group was furious. How dare I come to her with my problems! With a big disgusted sigh, she reluctantly went and checked the weekly schedule. She said it had been moved to another room and gave me a room number. I told her I had no idea where she was talking about, could she show me where this room was? With another disgusted sigh, she got up and led me down a hallway I’d never noticed before and ushered me into a small room. She said my session was in there and left without another word.

I should note here that I have come across this woman since that day and she still hates me for making her tell me where my session was and for having the unmitigated gall to suggest she chastise the rude operator who told me to “get the fuck out” of his room. This despite the fact that she no longer works for that post production company.

So I finally found my session. It was a smaller room that the room I thought I’d be in, but it wasn’t a broom closet either. There was no long desk or comfy couch, just one end of the table holding the graphics machine and an office chair. The graphics machine was not one I had ever heard of before. The graphics operator was not the one who had attended my creative meetings. I had never seen him before and had no idea who he was.

He was a nice guy. A bit goofy. He gave me a big smile and this is what he said. Verbatim.

“So, what are we working on today?”

“They didn’t tell you what this session was for?” I asked.

“Nope.”

“So you have no idea what we’re working on?”

“Hmmm,” he looked at the work order. “I think the name of the project is somewhere on here.” He put the work order down. “Might be easier if you just explained it to me.”

It dawned on me that all those meetings were nothing but show. The designers had done nothing. I was the victim a bait and switch scam. You really don’t expect this kind of crap from a reputable video post production company, but I am sorry to say it’s not as uncommon as it should be.

Well, the post production company had me by the short and curlies. I had to get the project done. I couldn’t afford to pull out at that time and find another company. Too much time had passed. My deadline was looming and I was already paying for this time.

I started to explain to the graphics operator what the project was about when he interrupted me.

“Just so you know,” he said. “I’ve never used this machine before so I might be a little slow.”

That sentence contained the first truthful words I heard from that video post production company.

Once he got started making what would be truly crappy graphics that were barely approved by my angry boss, I called the project coordinator to ask why my session had been changed and what the hell happened with the designers I’d met in the meeting. The project coordinator said they had to change the schedule because of an unexpected conflict that pulled the room and the designers to another project. I knew that was code for the company got a cooler job that paid more so I was bumped to crap status. It didn’t matter that I had already paid good money for what they had promised.

And that my friends was the worst graphics session I ever had the misfortune to endure.

(photo from Shutterstock)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Triple Dog Dare You



Time: 1981
Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Her name was Nancy. She was Jewish and she lived three blocks from the duplex I shared with my sister. Nancy lived with her mother and her two pure breed Cocker Spaniels. Even though the female dog was getting old, Nancy refused to have her fixed.
“I’m only supposed to breed my dogs a certain number of times,” Nancy said. “But people pay a lot for Cocker Spaniel puppies, and I need the money.”

Nancy and I were about the same age. Nancy might have been Jewish, but she was white trash all the way. She dressed cheaply, and her makeup was clownish. She was also one of the stupidest people I have ever met.

Nancy loved to go disco dancing. “That’s how I control my weight,” she explained.

She went as often as she could. I was still new to Atlanta and didn’t know many people, so I agreed to be her date. Nancy and I went to the Limelight Disco. She knew one simple dance step that she repeated like a broken robot.

Nancy insisted on driving whenever we went out. She also insisted that I not put on my seatbelt, because she felt I was insulting her driving. I insulted her driving every time because 1) she drove too fast and recklessly, and 2) she had been in a terrible auto accident that left her in a coma for weeks.

When Nancy came out of her coma, she had to relearn how to walk, talk, and feed herself. She claimed her intelligence was stunted as a result of the coma. I believed Nancy until I met her sister.

“Did she tell you how her intelligence was stunted because she was in a coma?”
 Nancy’s sister asked.

“As a matter of fact,” I said, “she did tell me that.”

“She is lying, Nancy has always been reckless and stupid. That’s how she ended up having the car accident. She was drunk on her ass, driving like a maniac, and not wearing her seatbelt. Now she uses the accident as an excuse to be even more stupid and irresponsible.”

One late night, after disco dancing at the Limelight, Nancy and I decided we were hungry. Nancy suggested a restaurant on Peachtree Street that stayed open late for the night owls who were out partying into the wee hours. So we went to the restaurant, and were seated in the dining room, which was very large and had very low light. Other than Nancy and me, there were maybe three other couples in the place. Our waiter was a prissy gay boy who seemed altogether disgusted by our very presence. He gave us our menus and promptly disappeared. I was trying to decide between a western omelet or a bagel with cream cheese when Nancy commented that all the dancing we had done earlier had left her quite sweaty.

“I wish I could take off my shirt,” she said, “then I could cool off better.”

“Yeah, go ahead,” I said. “Take off your shirt.”

I didn’t say this because I wanted to see Nancy with her shirt off. Her body was too compact and she had almost no curves. I only said it to make conversation.

“You’re not daring me to take off my shirt, are you?” Nancy said, looking around the room to see if anybody was watching us.

“You bet I am,” I said, “I dare you to take off your shirt.”

Now I was just egging Nancy on to see what she would do. Nancy became very serious.

“Whatever you do,” she said,” don’t triple dog dare me.”

“And why not?” I asked.

“Because, “ she explained, “if somebody triple dog dares you, you have to do it.”

I had never heard this before. Somehow, I had made it this far in life without ever being triple dog dared or witnessing someone else being triple dog dared. I figured now was as good a time as any to see if it worked.

“Okay,” I said. “I triple dog dare you to take off your shirt.”

And off came the shirt.

It was a tight, cotton short sleeve top with stripes with visible sweat stains on the armpits. She grabbed the bottom of the shirt and slipped it off over her head. She wore a pink bra over her small compact tits. At that same moment, the waiter returned to take our order. He gasped. She gasped and struggled to put the shirt back on.

“I’ll give you a few more minutes to decide,” the waiter said and then he ran out of the room.

Nancy managed to get her shirt back on, inside out.

I was pissed. Our waiter was already slower than molasses, and now he would never come back. Nancy’s face was bright red. She went to the ladies’ room to fix her shirt. When she came back, she swallowed some water and said, “I told you not to triple dog dare me.”

I just kept thinking, why I didn’t I triple dog dare her to give me a blowjob?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Biscuit catches himself


We keep a plastic crate on top of the litter box. Biscuit was playing inside the crate and somehow managed to flip the crate off the litter box and down to the floor. The crate landed upside down with Biscuit inside. He had trapped himself.

We use the crate for recycling, but it happened to be empty that night or else we would have had garbage all over the floor. Instead we had a very upset kitten trapped in a plastic crate that was too heavy for him to lift.

We were on the other side of the house when Biscuit caught himself. We had heard the crate land and I had gone to see what the noise was. As I was looking around to see what had fallen, Biscuit started crying loudly. At first, I was worried he was hurt, but then when I saw what he did, I admit I laughed at his misfortune.

I considered going to get my camera, but he was so upset, I freed him instead.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jelly Doughnuts



One day I got an unexpected phone call from my favorite television graphics company. Normally, fishing expeditions from production houses annoy the crap out of me, but I always enjoyed talking to their sales rep no matter what the occasion. The rep was (and I suppose still is) a lovely woman whom I will name Sally.

I let Sally know right away that I didn’t have any upcoming projects that needed graphics. We continued to chat anyway. Sally told me that my former boss, Mitch, was coming to town for a video shoot with her company. She suggested I should come by the shoot, say hello to Mitch, and take advantage of the junk food from craft services.

I certainly wanted to catch up with Mitch, but I didn’t feel right about invading his video shoot. I told her I’d give him a call and see if he was available for dinner after the shoot.

“Are you sure about that?” Sally asked. “We have lots of good things to eat on our craft services table.”

“I’m sure you do,” I said, getting into the joking spirit. If you were on a shoot and not part of the crew, it wasn’t unusual to find yourself passing the long hours by gorging on the stacks of junk food provided by craft services.

“If I know Mitch,” I added, “he’ll be at the table most of the day, stuffing his mouth with jelly doughnuts.”

“I never would have guessed that Mitch was a doughnut man,” Sally said.

I had no idea what Mitch thought of jelly doughnuts. I just brought up the donuts because there always seemed to be a box on every craft table I’d ever seen. The jelly donuts were usually never touched and rock hard by the end of the day. I was just riffing on the joke she started and honestly, I thought she was keeping it going.

“Oh yeah,” I said in what I thought was an obviously joking voice. “Mitch loves jelly doughnuts. Especially the ones covered in powdered sugar. That man might be tall and thin, but he can eat a pound of powdered sugar. I do believe he snorts it like cocaine.”

Sally laughed and after some more chit chat, we said our goodbyes.

A week later, Mitch came to town for the video shoot. He wasn’t going to be in town long enough for dinner, but suggested I join him and Sally for lunch.

At lunch, Sally tried hard to give me the stink eye, but was too sweet of a person to maintain it. Finally, it came out. She had made a special trip that morning to Kirspy Kreme for a big box of jelly doughnuts, all covered in generous heaps of powdered sugar. She had put them in the center of the crafts table so Mitch would be sure to see them.

After Mitch ignored them for a few hours, she asked him why he hadn’t tried one.

“I’m not a fan of jelly doughnuts,” Mitch said. “Never have been.”

“What about powdered sugar?” Sally asked.

“That white stuff that sticks to your fingers?” he replied. “Can’t stand it.”

Sally was crushed until she finally got the nerve to explain to Mitch that she only got the donuts because I claimed that he loved them.

“And you believed him?” Mitch said.

During lunch, Sally chided me for fooling her and promised to get revenge on me some day. I apologized for misleading her.

“What happened to the doughnuts?” I asked.

“Nobody wanted them,” Sally said. “I’m going to throw them out. Unless you want them.”

“Oh God no,” I said. “I can’t stand them either.