Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Day 7, part 1: The Shoot!

January 19.

6:20 am. I wake up, still face down on my bed. I don’t know what woke me up. I mean the alarm was never turned on. I never requested a wake-up call. Maybe it’s that little internal clock everyone has which just knows when it’s time to get up, like when you have to go to the bathroom or when the bed is on fire or when YOU ONLY HAVE 10 MINUTES TO GET DOWNSTAIRS FOR THE SHOOT!!!!!

This is the other tradition I was talking about at the end of day 6. There’s some kind of psychological barrier in me, which wants me to sabotage shoot days or something. I think this is the third time that something like this has happened to me. On the positive side, three times is not so bad in an entire career. Well whether the glass is half empty or half full, I’ve gotta get my ass downstairs in 10 minutes. There’s no way I have time to shower. Bring on the deodorant.

And it turns out I have one day of deodorant left. That’s good because I only have one day left in Buenos Aires. It’s just that as I was applying the stuff, the remains broke apart and crumbled all over the bathroom counter. But I got the job done. And oh yeah, the spare right lens is holding up just fine. Brushed my teeth, got dressed, put on a hat and made it downstairs with a minute to spare. Not that they would have left without me, right?

Uh fellahs? You wouldn’t have left without me, right?

Here’s the big surprise: Julietta approaches me with my missing lens. Apparently Sergio found it when he was cleaning out the van. Ah, Sergio. He’s been our driver for the three consecutive days now. The lens is dried up and hard but I run upstairs to drop it in saline anyway. I’m trying to work out a way to thank him so much not only for finding the lens, but for making the effort in the first place. But all I manage to do is shake his hand and say, “muchos muchos gracias.” Stupid American…

It’s actually a bit chilly outside so at this point; the no shower thing may be a non-issue. It’s not even 7 yet and this could change but I’m staying positive for now. And for the sake of those around me.

I forgot to mention the stray dogs around here. Fans of the Romania blogs remember that the country was littered (see what I did there?) with them and they were fairly aggressive. Friendly, but aggressive. The dogs here have taken on more of the Mexican stereotype of just lying around, taking a siesta. Some walk around, of course, but I think it’s just to go from one napping spot to another. No need to mock throwing a rock unless you want to see the dog yawn. It's very easy to follow the old cliche about letting sleeping dogs lie in Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires, at least what I’ve seen of it, also lacks streets with simple names. Everything here is named for a historical figure or a date. But it’s not like Washington Street being named for George Washington. They use full names down here, as well as specific dates. Where we may have an Independence Drive, they have Avenue 9 de Julio, commemorating the founding of the city. There’s also a road called Estados Unidos, which is nice, but probably filled with Taco Bells and Sunglass Huts. The exception up here is Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. But I’ve heard of him. I haven’t heard of any of these guys. Then again, I haven’t heard of Harry Van Arsdale Jr. either and he’s got a boulevard in Queens!

I’ve mentioned several times how Susannah is a target for these invisible mosquitoes but it’s getting pretty bad. We’re actually seeing them land on her. I thought I heard one of them licking their lips. She’s sprayed herself down with Wanda’s Off. I also spotted a stash of the stuff in a truck on the location. I’m truly thankful for Susannah being here because she’s a great colleague, a wonderful friend and she seems to have kept the mosquitoes away from me just with her presence.

So we’re shooting outdoors, which is the primary reason for us having to be so far south. We’ve cordoned off a hole on a golf course. I’m not sure how we pulled that off. I can see golfers on the other hole and am waiting for an errant drive to come sailing in and knock some kid on the melon. And how are they playing around us? Are they going out to shoot a quick 17? Maybe repeating a hole? I don’t really care. I’m just wondering.

Funny: Suzanne the Australian producer has taught the kids to say “g’day mate.” It’s amongst the only English phrases they know.

I’m starting to question the whole ethnic diversity thing, not as a social concept but as something we always strive for in our commercials. I totally get the reason for it but sometimes it comes across as forced. We got a great black kid named Herbert to be in the spot. The thing is, the other 3 white kids don’t seem to want anything to do with him. I know I’m reading in to stuff but I see Herbert running around the Twister dots by himself and the other three kids running around with each other. There are times when the kids are supposed to fight over a dot. But fight in the same way you’d fight over the last chair in musical chairs. Nothing violent. Just some good-natured activity. So this big girl pushes Herbert and he falls to the ground. It actually happens a couple of times. Wanda thought it happened 3 times but she was watching a playback of the previous scene during the “3rd time.” To be fair, the girl is bigger than Herbert. But still, it’s enough to make my mind wander. As I mentioned a few days ago, there really don’t seem to be a lot of blacks down here. So maybe the kids don’t like them. I don’t know.

I saw an article a few weeks ago on one of those “the world hates us Jews” websites. The breaking news was that a Brazilian paper was abolishing the verb “to Jew” as in, “What to do when daylight-savings time ‘Jews’ body and soul.” This quote is from the Jornal do Brasil. It’s just hard to believe that in 2007, there is still so much intolerance for people different from us.

According to the article, the Portuguese verb “juidar” means “to mistreat, to spoil, to mock.” Funny, I thought it meant, “to steal” as in “the company wants to jew me out of an extra day off.”


I need to address the cookie I just ate. The Craft services table here isn’t much better than Romania but it is better. I just ate a small cookie. It’s about the size of a half dollar, flaky, with dolche de leche inside. It’s too small and flaky to take a bite (although Susannah tried and ended up making a mess) so I pop the whole thing in my mouth. Remember that powder called “alum” which Sylvester the cat would accidentally ingest and it would shrink his mouth rendering it impossible to eat Tweety? I always thought it was some silly Acme product. Well this is sort of what this cookie did to me. I was chewing, yet the cookie seemed to be getting larger. The flaky crust turned to some kind of paste and it was getting harder and harder to chew. What was this diabolical cookie, which seemed bent on my destruction? Well after a few more chews and some gymnastic tongue motions (easy now…), I freed my jaws from the clutches of this treat.

And then I had another.

The sun is out but it’s actually a bit cold today. There’s a weather observer on the location. Hasbro bought weather insurance and apparently, an observer must be on location for the duration of the shoot in order to verify any inclement weather. She’s getting $250 US to sit in a lawn chair and take notes. Nice work if you can get it. On the ground next to her is some scientific-looking piece of meteorological equipment designed to measure wind speed or humidity or seismic activity. Or all three.

Why is it that the product shot takes the longest to do? Nothing’s moving. There are no actors. And yet this tedious exercise takes forever!! But 1:15 comes and we wrap for the day. Yep. We’re done. And we’re planning on heading to La Boca, a section in the southeastern corner of Buenos Aires. I game even though I haven’t showered yet. But I’m not gamey because it’s been cool.

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