I woke up to say goodbye to Dahlia before falling back to asleep.
The apartment was empty when I did finally wake up and get ready. I called Kelley (spadada), and as I waited for her to pick me up, I watched some more Daily Show/Colbert Robert and Robot Chicken. And I did some dishes, because...they were there and I could.
On the way back to Kelley's, Elisabeth (idreamofpeace) called to see what lunch plans were, right on time (it had taken some time to get a hold of her because she hadn't been answering my calls for a while since she didn't recognize the number). Well, Zachary Levi had recommended this place called Vivian's to Kelley, so that would work. In a strange coincidence, Dahlia, Kelley, and Elisabeth all lived within a mile or two of each other.
We entered Kelley's house, where I was greeted by a pit bull who was very happy to see me. Like Memphis, he was jumping all over me.
We hid in Kelley's room, where she set up her laptop so I could check my e-mail and such. Elisabeth called, impatient, chiding me for not being able to go two seconds without checking e-mail. But it was important this time! Because Hadley had told us yesterday that there was going to be picketing today, outside of NBC Burbank, due to Leno's going back on the air. He said it was sort of a word-of-mouth thing (secret picketing!), and he'd e-mail us with more details if he found them. While there was no e-mail, details were posted on DHD via the WGA site. So, not so secret, then. Kelley knew which studio it was.
On our way to Vivian's, I presented Kelley with her mix CD, As Heard on TV, which comprised songs used memorably in TV shows. Now, I only did this because it seemed very appropriate for Kelley, but, apparently, it was even more appropriate than I knew, as her Myspace profile (ewwww) described her favorite music thusly: "I have to be in a certain mood to really listen to a song. Even though I could list a few favorite bands and singer songwriters here, honestly, I think I would be happy with a mixed CD filled with the snippets of songs used in my favorite movies and TV shows." So...I win at mix CDs? Even though Kelley loses at the inherent game, which was to identify what show each song was from. Of course, it started out unfair, since the first song was from Smallville (Massive Attack, "Future Proof," which is a great album opener and opens the episode "Asylum"). But then she just guessed Veronica Mars for every single one. She was right once, of course.
We parked across the street from Vivian's, and while Kelley went to get change for the meter, I dangerously jaywalked to get to Elisabeth and give her a hug. We had had a lot of fun the first time we met.
Inside, we chose to sit outside, which was sort of outside but covered in an inside way, giving us the best of both worlds. The weather was nice. I opened up the menu and was astounded. It was cheap! Look at that, a cheap place in L.A.! I could get a sandwich for like SIX BUCKS. That Zach Levi must be as miserly as I am!
Our waitress was very cute (that's why Zach came here!), and I asked her what sort of bird sandwich to get, as I couldn't choose. She first recommended the Geoff, which was the only really "special" sandwich on the menu and thus the one I had gravitated toward, but her actual favorite thing on the menu was the chicken salad melt (and I love chicken salad and had never seen a chicken salad melt before). She had just started a diet, however, so she couldn't get it. I, however, was living it up in L.A., so I ordered it. When she asked what cheese, I wasn't sure. Elisabeth said to go with cheddar, which seemed like a sound idea. One of the choices was American, and Elisabeth and the waitress bonded over their distaste of American (people had actually said, "No, don't get cheddar, get American!"). The melt itself was so, so yummy, but also so, so oily. I could see why you wouldn't want to eat it were you on a diet.
We had some rollicking conversations at lunch, most notably Elisabeth's nanny stories. She had lived in L.A. for years but was still awful at celebrity sightings. One time she'd talked to some girl about her dog for a few minutes and then, afterwards, been told she was just talking to Alexis Bledel. And the park she took her charge to was frequented by celebrities. He played with Jon Cryer's kid on occasion. I think she might have even gone to his wedding (Jon Cryer's, not the kid's).
I told Kelley I was covering her, and, when Elisabeth didn't have enough cash, I decided to just treat her rather than make the waitress deal with two cards. We had just been talking about how expensive it is to live in L.A. and how hard it is to find a job. She offered to pay the tip, which worked for me. I had never heard of that idea, but it's kind of neat! When I got the check, for the tip I wrote, "Cash on table!" That's probably easier for her anyway, isn't it? Kelley tossed in an extra dollar since she had been good. I considered adding in a dollar because she was cute. I didn't know whether that was wrong or so very right.
Vivian's didn't have dessert (they were a breakfast/lunch place only), and Elisabeth liked dessert. We spied a Baskin Robbins across the street! Also: a Rite Aid, which I had been needing to go to. You see, I had had Ravi and Laura's wedding gift shipped to Dahlia's so I wouldn't have to lug it around for a week and a half before.
The gift? All three seasons of Arrested Development.
Now I needed to wrap it. Elisabeth and Kelley suggested that a bag might work better, but I couldn't stuff the gift in a bag and stuff that bag into my luggage; it would get all crumpled. Kelley noted that I could just bring the bag and tissue paper separately and assemble the gift in Scottsdale. Perfect! Except someone would have to teach me how to do the tissue paper thing. We looked for a good, non-girly, wedding-appropriate bag. I picked a small lavender bag and some tissue paper that ended up being replaced when Elisabeth found a better one near the front.
At Baskin Robbins, all Jamoca Oreo flavors were only ninety-nine cents! We had a winner. Kelley treated me this time, and we all sat outside and ate ice cream. Before Kelley and I left, Elisabeth suggested we come over later that night after she'd put her charge to bed so we could play Scrabble. It seemed like a good plan!
It was off to NBC Burbank. We had considered bringing the writers something, but we couldn't think of anything in time. It was about two o'clock, so it was after lunch. And the studio was much closer than I had expected, so we showed up with nothing but Kelley's sign and MY AXE! Kelley honked in support of the writers before finding a parking space.
Crossing the street was complicated, as it took three crossings. In the middle of the street, a man in a suit asked us a question since Kelley had a sign. Was it okay to go up to the strikers and ask them questions? Totally, we said, they'd be more than happy to explain what was going on. It was interesting to see what Joe Q. Public thought about the strike.
As we approached the line, a woman saw the sign and exclaimed, "Yay, TV fans!" Aw. I didn't have a sign, but I saw a discarded WGA sign and picked it up. It had a bunch of names on it to show who had used it before, but I didn't recognize any (a woman I later met was using a sign that had been used by Doug Petrie!).
We walked back and forth along a path several yards long (there were only fifty or so people, I think). Just walk, turn, walk back, turn, walk, turn, walk back, turn, walk...this is the life of a picketer. It wasn't all that organized either; the turnaround point kept shifting. Sometimes Kelley and I were the ones who created a new turnaround point because no one knew where to turn around. We were pioneers! Meanwhile, it was nice to hear the honks of support. Best of all was this awesome lady:
I didn't even know the WGA had "WE SUPPORT" signs for people. Neat.
Since Kelley's sign identified us as TV fans, people often asked us, "What are you a fan of?" Which is a simple question with a long answer. I chatted with one guy about Dexter for a while, as well as Lost. He highly recommended Californication. He was a nice guy, if somewhat touchy (he sometimes clasped my shoulder in excitement during our conversation; I didn't mind, but it was unexpected from someone I'd just met), but I've forgotten his name. I have no idea why I feel weird mentioning the fact that he was black, but it's simply a description! And, besides, the vast majority of the picketers were white (but not all white men, there were a lot of women). The people who weren't stood out. Like this very cute Indian woman who looked just like Smitha from World Series of Pop Culture.
There was one guy who had a megaphone, and he was telling the people who were waiting in line to see Leno that they were crossing a picket line and that in a few years when big corporations had gotten too much power, they could look back today and know they had supported them, and also enjoy the show. I felt weird about that because it's not like they cared about any of it. They just wanted to see Leno; that was their concern. And they shouldn't be made to feel bad for that. The guy's tone rubbed me the wrong way, even though it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Later on, he started up with esoteric, free-style chants about...I'm not sure what. "It worked for Laverne and Shirley!" Except I don't know what "it" exactly was. "It worked for Lost!" What was IT? And Crispin Glover wasn't there to ask, either. Amusingly, he got the megaphone taken away after that.
What was neat was that several people there asked about the skytyping over the Rose Parade, and they asked if we were from Fans4Writers. I made sure to tell people about Cash for the Crew.
It was fun to read other people's signs. Since the guest was Mike Huckabee, a lot of signs were Huckabee-specific. I had been thinking of what sign I should make, and the best I could come up with was an "I ♥ Huckabee" riff (with the ♥ crossed out, of course). There were some Family Guy writers whose signs were awesome. One was the Death Star labelled FOX (and I think there was a Darth Vader on the other side), one had Brian, and another had Stewie holding a "We're here, we're queer" sign.
After about an hour at the front, Kelley and I walked down the road and around the corner to see what was going on over there, since we'd seen some picketers go that way. As we turned the corner, an older man in an Uncle Sam hat accosted us. We were fans, he noticed, and he had this great new movie script, and maybe if he built up a fanbase, he could get it made. He gave me his card. If I was a fan of something, I would be a fan of anything! Kelley said she'd seen him picketing before.
Halfway to the Ellen parking lot, I saw that someone had an "I [don't] ♥ Huckabee" sign. "You stole my idea!" I cried.
We went to the sign-in desk. I was not a WGA member, but Kelley said I should still sign in as it helped them know what kind of numbers they had. I signed in as a member of "FAN." As I was signing in, I noticed that Jed Seidel had signed in earlier! Holy crap, Jed Seidel might be on the line! EXCEPT WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE. Kelley and I did randomly shout for Jed Seidel and ask if anyone knew what he looked like, but we weren't successful.
Then I made my very own picket sign!
If you click, you can read both sides better. One side has all the shows I'm watching (I accidentally left out Entourage, and I stuck in Avatar just for pimps), and the other side has qualities of good television (I have to agree with Kelley that "sparkling dialogue" isn't that winning a phrase, but I'd already used "snappy" for one-liners).
The line over here was smaller, as it covered only the entrance to the parking lot, which meant we were stopping every so often to let a car through. We were circling more frequently.
"Is that Jon Cryer?" said Kelley. I looked. It...really did look like Jon Cryer. Holy crap. It was confirmed when we saw him talking to some cameras for a while. Of all the celebrities to be picketing today, it had to be one we were talking about at lunch. It was too amusing. I wanted to talk to him just because of that. Elisabeth had said he was the nicest guy in the world. We didn't really know how to approach him. Neither one of us watched Two and a Half Men. Kelley loved this movie of his called Hiding Out, though.
And then I saw another familiar face! It was...crap, why couldn't I remember the name of Celia's husband on Weeds? Because that's who it was! We circled for a while until finally, we were near the guy, and I asked him what his name was. He said it was David Weiss. I couldn't remember the actor's name. I asked him whether he was on Weeds.
He...wasn't. Well, this was embarrassing. In my defense, I swear he looked exactly like this picture.
Another time, it was I who looked familiar. "What do you write on?" a man asked. "The Internet," I said, explaining. Aha, the man said, he had read my blog. He...really? Had he? He said I had looked familiar; he had seen my picture. And then when I told him my name (real name), he was even more sure he'd read me online; he'd been keeping up with online postings about the strike. His name was Mike. I had no idea what he was talking about. I still don't know where he might have known me from, since I hadn't been posting about the strike.
I saw a man with a Smallville hat, so I asked him if he wrote for Smallville. He did! It was Al Septien. I resisted the urge to give him my honest opinion of Smallville because, really, what's the point? This was not the place. Instead, I was still honest and told him I was excited about Bizarro. I asked him how many episodes they had left, and, to my surprise, he said they had six. They were filming the last two right now. That was a lot! That was...sort of unfair. It might end up being the only show I watch with new episodes, eventually.
There were chants here too, and I was a little uncomfortable about participating in some of them since many were union-based, and, I don't know, I feel like I've been conditioned to see "union" as a dirty word. I wasn't here making a political statement; I was here to support the writers. So I could join in on "Writer!" "Power!"
We ended up behind Jon Cryer, perhaps intentionally, but I still couldn't figure out how to talk to him. I made some funny comments in his presence about the Rolls Royce that had entered (apparently containing an NBC executive of some sorts), but that didn't lead to an opening. So I took some stealth pictures for the hell of it.
You'll notice on the right the Huckabee sign covering up one of the most amusing signs there, which read, "Teens for Distributor's Gross Based Residuals." I had to explain that one to Kelley. So many demands, this WGA. (The teens were the children of a writer who had also brought his preteen daughter; she was also holding a sign. It was really cute to see picketing families, especially since they're the ones whose mouths needed to be fed with residuals!)
Kelley was talking a lot to this guy named Ron, who was quite friendly. He pointed out John Bowman (without saying his name), the WGA Negotiating Committee Chair. He praised him for being so well spoken, which was a common sentiment on the lines; they were very glad when anyone they considered well spoken was being interviewed, as they were the best mouthpieces for the organization.
Now, I had noticed the cute Indian woman had ended up on this line as well, and there finally came a time when we were standing at a turnaround, taking a break. I asked her what she wrote for, and she said she wrote features (most of the people we met were feature writers); she had only joined the WGA a year ago. Her name was Deepika. She had just finished a movie called Waking Dreams.
"Is that like Waking Life?" I asked. (It was on my mind because of the posters in Laga's apartment.)
She looked at me as if she didn't know how to respond to a question so stupid. "There's a similarity in...titles." Wow, I sucked at picket-line flirting.
She went on to explain that the original title had been Dreamland, but by the time the movie was done, there were like three other movies called Dreamland. I asked if one was the movie about Timothy McVeigh (that Jason Dohring had been cast in), and she responded, horrified, "No! Not that context!" Wow, I really sucked at picket-line flirting. She said that one of the Dreamlands starred Agnes Bruckner.
I asked for her last name, from which I gleaned she was South Indian. I didn't think my mom would approve. Why can't I meet a nice, cute Gujarati writer/director? That would make my life so much easier. I told her I had to talk to her since she was the only other Indian there. "Yeah," she said, "when I saw you, I thought the South Asians had really arrived."
"Represent!" I said. I am awful at picket-line flirting.
We tried to think of other Indian writers in the entertainment industry, but we couldn't think of many. She said that someone on C.S.I. was (and, as it turns out, there's a Sunil on CSI: Miami). But there weren't a lot. In film, there was mostly just M. Night; most Indians were directors.
I let Deepika get back to her picketing, and I turned to Jon Cryer, who was also hanging out at the turnaround. "This is really funny because we were just talking about you at lunch," I said. So then I tried to explain to him that my friend Elisabeth nannied a boy a who played with his son in the park. He had trouble following all that, and I couldn't remember Elisabeth's last name.
"Elizabeth Dennehy?" he asked.
"Jewish?" I said.
"No, that's Irish." He thought some more. Someone called him for a group photo, and he told me to wait right there as he got in the photo. He said he couldn't think of any Elizabeths with sons named [name withheld]. I clarified that it wasn't her son; she was his nanny.
And, suddenly, he completely understood whose son it was and by extension who Elisabeth was, and the moment of enlightenment was hilariously followed by "We have the same dentist!" He told me to give her his best.
We got back in the line, walking together. "Hi, I'm Jon," he said, offering me his hand. I introduced myself as well. It was amusing. Like, dude, I obviously knew who he was. But I suppose it would be impolite not to introduce yourself anyway. He was indeed very nice; he chuckled a lot. I told him I had enjoyed his performance in that YouTube thing, and we talked a bit about how funny it was. As we made the turnaround, I told him I wanted to introduce him to my friend Kelley, who loved Hiding Out. He was a little dismayed, because even though it was nice to be complimented about your work, he didn't think it was that great a movie. Pretty in Pink, Hot Shots (Sunil's brain: he was in Hot Shots? I do love something he was in!), those were good movies.
He said that TBS actually owned Hiding Out now; the studio had gone out of business, and TBS had bought the rights for a "fire sale price." The mention of TBS prompted my comment that I had just seen A Christmas Story for the first time. He asked me how it held up. As we were talking, a man asked him, "Are you that guy from Two and a Half Men?" He was. The man asked him if he could take a picture with his son. I kept on walking, amused.
Having spent an hour on this line, Kelley and I headed back to the main line. On the way, we talked to a man who turned out to be a former Leno crew member. He gossiped a bit about Leno and his "loyalty" to crew members, which sounded like stories I'd read online, but I'd also seen good stories about Leno, so who really knows. In any case, I was glad that the WGA wasn't picketing Leno; they were picketing the network for making him return without writers just because, say, Letterman and Ferguson were returning with writers. The guy didn't think the WGA should be making all these side deals, though; back in HIS day, when you struck, you stuck to your guns! We weren't WGA members, so, really, we weren't the people this guy needed to be talking to.
It looked like a group of people were circled around John Bowman, who was speaking.
People were taking notes and pictures. There were cameras everywhere. I don't think I've been photographed so much in my life. We did end up on the F4W photostream, as did my sign.
The line was smaller now. A SAG member saw us and cheered. "Solidarity!" I said. We made the circle smaller in order to concentrate the smaller number of people and make them look bigger.
Later on, I went to talk to the actor, who read both sides of my sign to an older man who was trying to read the many words in small print on it. He sounded a lot like Owen Wilson, even though I knew it wasn't him. He asked me why Californication wasn't on the list, which was bizarre, since that was the second time I had specifically been recommended that show, even though my friends who watched it didn't seem to think it was that great. I told him I had a lot of shows, as he could see. He thought I'd like it, based on the shows I had on there, like Weeds. I said that I did watch a little bit of one episode (I didn't tell him it was to see Paula Marshall naked), and there was a lot of cognitive dissonance in seeing Mulder having sex.
"Get over it," he said. "He's an actor; he doesn't always have to be Mulder...even though he's filming the X-Files sequel right now."
He also commented on Avatar, asking if it was the James Cameron thing. No, I explained, that's a different thing; this was a cartoon on Nickelodeon. I acknowledged that it wasn't a WGA show, but I had put it on there anyway, since it did have all the things I listed on the other side. He was skeptical. He asked me how long it had been on, and once I told him how many seasosn it was and how long each episode was, he was all, "So I'd have to spend 20 hours to get caught up on this?" Like it was such an imposition.
I asked him what he had been in, and he said he hadn't been doing much lately, but: "There's this thing called 'new media,'" he said, as if I'd never heard of it. He was really into podcasts now too, and he had started a blog. One of the things he loved about podcasts was music podcasts that were just music. It was a much better way to discover music than the radio.
"For every White Stripes," he said, "there's a dozen Nickelbacks."
Heh. "Actually, I have a sort of shameful love of Nickelback."
He was taken aback. "Well, a dozen Linkin Parks..."
"And I love Linkin Park!" He was at a loss. "I really do have good music taste, I promise! I just happen to like some bands that other people don't." He didn't know what to say anymore because I clearly could not understand what good music was. I thought it was amusing at first, but, honestly, I was a little pissed at that whole thing because, first of all, I had even said I was slightly ashamed that I liked Nickelback, and I make no apologies for loving Linkin Park because I think they make some great music (the latest CD is not nearly as good as their first two, but Meteora is pretty damn awesome). Get your music elitism out of my face.
I even had the good taste to shut my mouth when he talked about how brilliant the New Caprica arc on BSG was when OMG THE CYLONS WERE AMERICANS AND THE HUMANS WERE IRAQIS. Because I thought it was annoying.
Kelley was getting tired, but I was still good to go, so she left to go call her mom while I remained on the picket line. The Leno audience was inside, so there was no one to scold.
I started talking to a woman on the line named Jasmine Love (which, in retrospect, totally sounds like a porn star name). She had written for The District, The Division, and Moesha, none of which I'd seen. But that didn't matter because Jasmine was way cool. We both loved Dexter, and we had an extended conversation about Six Feet Under. She was really excited that I, a fan, was there supporting people (as I told another picketer, "This is my vacation"), and she thought that the WGA should really tap into the fans as a resource. I babbled on about fandom and Veronica Mars. She asked what I was into before VM, and I said Buffy. "Ah!" she said. "I know your type."
As I told her what I loved about the shows I watched, she thought that I should write a "Why We Watch" companion piece for the "Why We Write" essays. I told her I'd love to. Jasmine was actually a strike captain, as was, it turned out, Deepika. So now I knew three strike captains, including my good friend John Enbom.
The WGA was going to be targeting sponsors next, she said. Like going to some sort of Coke event and pouring out Coke, Boston Tea Party-style. "But I love Coke!" I said. So did she!
She was pretty impressed with me; at one point, she exclaimed, "You know everyone!" Well, I do try to stay connected. I gave her my business card! Look at me, all professional and job-having! Even though medical writers aren't going to strike any time soon. We don't get residuals.
There was someone being interviewed, and I rallied people to walk back and forth behind him so the cameras would pick up signs in the background and think there were more than a dozen people around. Then I tried crouching down and just waving the sign back and forth, thinking that would be just as effective.
I had been picketing for about three hours, and people were clearing out. Leno had actually started taping early; I saw the audience being let out. My picketing experience was coming to an end. It was sort of sad that I had met an actor from a show I don't watch and a writer from a show whose writing sucks.
Kelley picked me up, and we went back to her place, where we watched some Two and a Half Men in honor of Jon Cryer. For dinner, Kelley ordered pizza from Papa John's, the (un)official pizza of Rice! I hadn't had Papa John's in a while. While we waited for the pizza, I was able to do my laundry, because, once again, I had run out of clothes. It was almost eerie how a washing machine always appeared right on time.
Kelley lived with a woman who had a little daughter. She hilariously called for "The Boy" so she could show me her dollhouse or whatever. It was cute.
After dinner, I curled up with the dog on the couch.
We headed out to the house where Elisabeth was babysitting. I brought in the mix for Kelley to continue to fail at guessing. It was Scrabble time!
It was Kelley's first real Scrabble game! And she got to start the game off with WITCHY. Later, we joked that we should have played Veronica Mars Scrabble, where all your plays had to be VM-related in some way.
We told Elisabeth that we met Jon Cryer. She was appropriately shocked and amused.
At one point, Elisabeth let the dogs in...and they flocked right to me and started sniffing. I have no idea what it was with me this trip, but dogs fucking loved me. There was also a cat who didn't hate me, I don't think.
Elisabeth turned out to be better at Kelley than guessing the songs off the CD. The best part was at the end of the closer ("Breathe Me" from Six Feet Under), I told them to shush; luckily, it was my turn, so they thought I also just wanted quiet to concentrate. There was some silence (thirty seconds to be exact) and then the hidden track ("Werewolf Bar Mitzvah," which neither of them recognized: EPIC FAIL) started up.
Kelley was surprised, as she had the tracklist in her hand, which showed "Breathe Me" to be the last track. "How do you that?" she asked. "Do you just not put the title on the list?"
Elisabeth and I cracked up for a couple minutes.
I ended up winning only because Kelley accidentally highlighted the fact that she had put a Z in a position to be Triple Word Scored. My favorite play was BROMIDE, especially because I hadn't actually meant to play it; I only saw I could make it when my original play was blocked. It was a close game, though.
After navigating back down the Driveway of Doom, we returned home, where Kelley watched The Amazing Race and I did some work only to discover that my work had already been done for me and I had wasted my time. Oops. I also skillfully removed my picketing sign from its picket so I could take it home with me.
I went to bed on one of Kelley's roommate's bed. Sadly, she was not in it.
We woke up around 4:30 and went to the airport, seeing too many cars on the highway at that hour. I hugged Kelley goodbye.
So that was Los Angeles, in a giant nutshell.