Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Strike Pants, Come Home -- All Is Forgiven

Wonder what the WGA picket lost and found box contains? Wonder no more!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Emotional Baggage

"So, what's in that magic bag of yours?"

I got that question last week from Deric, a fellow picketer and WB stalwart. The bag in question is a small, bright orange nylon Mossimo backpack with numerous zippered pockets. I bought it years ago, I think at a Ross Dress for Less. This bag was attached to me like a limpet for the last 14 weeks.

Orange? Backpack? Obviously, I very early gave up trying to be remotely fashionable on the picket line. When you're walking in circles for hours, comfort is key.

I did try bringing a cute backpack-style purse to carry my strike essentials for a while, but found it was too small, particularly when I needed to stow an outer layer like a sweatshirt or jacket. An experiment with a shoulder bag one day about killed my back, with the weight so unevenly distributed.

So, enter the Magic Bag. It's done good service for me in the past: I've used it as a daypack while prowling both Mayan ruins in the jungles of Belize and the eardrum-crushingly loud caverns of E3. Packing for a strike, I learned, has a lot in common with both.

Here's what was in Kira's Magic Bag:

  • Keys
  • Cellphone
  • Wallet - A lighter wallet than my "main" one, with less stuff in it.
  • Makeup bag - A girl goes through a lot of lip gloss during your average picket shift.
  • Brush - Unnecessary. My hair spent the last 3 1/2 months in one or more ponytails, under a baseball cap.
  • Scarf, gloves, ballcap - If I wasn't wearing them.
  • Sunglasses - Same
  • Two energy bars - Because you can't always count on StrikeSnacks...
  • Bottle of water
  • Cough drops - Chanting (early in the strike) and chatting over the honks (later) takes it toll.
  • Pocket pack of Kleenex - Between allergies, the cold, and a cold, I went through a couple of these.
  • Hand lotion - Brisk, dry SoCal air and wind = dry hands.
  • Sunscreen
  • Advil
  • Earplugs - For the Weeks o' Jackhammering.
  • Travel pack of toilet paper - Don't laugh. I needed this before Warner Bros. started super-stocking the bathrooms at Gate 2.
  • Packet of hand wipes
  • Spare hair elastics - For the aforementioned ponytails, or for cinching up a too-big strike t-shirt.
  • iPod - Didn't actually use this much. Occasionally at Fox.
  • Small notebook, pens - For notes, and exchanging contact info.
  • Folding umbrella - During that rainy spell, otherwise it stayed in the car.
  • My Warner Bros. ID - Not really sure why I brought this. As a totem, maybe, for luck?

    As you may've guessed, I was a Girl Scout. Why prepare when you can over-prepare? Sure, you snicker now, but when our plane goes down in the outback, you'll want to be on my team.

    The orange backpack worked out great, but I hope that this was its one and only strike. Now, the Magic Bag's unpacked and put away, dreaming of future hikes or videogame trade shows.
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    It's Over

    The strike's over, with a 92.5% majority, according to the WGA E-Bulletin I just received.

    Another Vote

    Like a baby stoat! Just returned from casting my yes ballot at the WGA Theater to lift the restraining order, i.e. end the strike. The place was crawling with media and the mood was excited and relieved, much like Saturday's membership meeting.

    Variety's article on that meeting, by the way, may well have been their one bit of accurate reporting during the entire strike, which in the magazine proper (not the Scribe Vibe blog so much) was characterized by appallingly biased anti-Guild coverage. The membership did indeed give the WGA leadership, the Negotiating Committee, and the deal a positive response.

    The deal is good/good enough, and I'll be voting yes on that too. Not perfect, but it wasn't going to be. At the meeting David Young walked through the terms point by point, noting what we got and how we got there, both the gains and the hold-your-nose concessions. Very straightforward, and I appreciated that. I believe the leadership when they say that they pushed as far as they could on the "bitter pills" without blowing up the deal.

    And there are bitter pills. The change of contract expiration to May kneecaps the ability to make another strike a credible threat, although I don't think anyone's in any hurry to strike again. Reality and animation are still out in the cold, and cable TV is still underpaid compared to network. The 17-24 day window sucks. I know from my years in online how fast content relevance decays there. But the long-tail phenomenon is a real thing, which could mitigate that. Regardless, all that's not enough for me to vote down the deal thinking we can get better. Important jurisdictional gains were made, and we know the areas we'll want to improve come the next negotiation.

    So, what happens next, provided the ayes carry the day? The town takes stock. John August had an apt analogy on his blog: in a small way it's like how after a disaster returning residents are allowed back to their houses to find what's still standing.

    It's still not officially over, and I for one will wait to celebrate until the word comes down, but all signs point to the town heading back to work, as early as tomorrow.

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 14


    Monday - People were talking about this weekend's hot rumors of a deal being in place, but with some skepticism. Everyone's cautious after the last nasty bait-and-switch from the AMPTP before the holidays, and by the way, THERE IS NO OFFICIAL NEWS YET. Everyone's getting emailed by friends and family, understandably excited that the strike may be over, everyone having seen the same non-news stories that appeared in the New York and LA Times and got picked up by CNN and the wire services. Talk about irresponsible reporting. There's. NO. NEWS. YET. No sources who can be named, no official comment from either party. It's a story that integrity-challenged reporter Templeton from this season of THE WIRE would write. In other news, I was cold. I dressed completely wrong, without a layer to compensate for the wind whistling down Olive. Reasonable showing today, everyone staying strong and wanting to give a good showing as we were exhorted to by phone calls from Larry Gelbart, whose voicemail I've kept on my machine, I confess. It's Larry freaking Gelbart!

    StrikeSnacks: Doughnuts from two different bakeries

    Pedometer: 2.6mi

    Tuesday - Happy Mardi Gras and Super Duper Tuesday! Went to Fox today after voting. Gorgeous sunny SoCal day, with something of a festive vibe in the air. I'd brought an armful of red Mardi Gras beads, and the gate captains had brought beads as well, so we were all decked out. As far as I can tell no one flashed anything, no Writers Gone Wild here. No hurricanes of the atmospheric or bibulous variety either, but there were theme treats (see below). Fair amount of election talk, naturally, and we were visited by a couple of local politicians, state senators I think. WGA VP David Weiss and another Board member dropped by to give an update -- in short, progress toward a deal is being made but there is no language yet and negotiations are still going on -- and answer questions. The next few days and the weekend's informational meeting with the membership should be very interesting, with all kinds of scenarios possible.

    StrikeSnacks: Some homemade cookies which I didn't try; some pro cookies shaped like flipflops which I did. And Mardi Gras KING CAKES from a MOONLIGHT fan in New Orleans, and fantastic pizzas underwritten by more MOONLIGHT fans. What show has the best fans? I think you know.

    Pedometer: 5.4mi, but I'm pretty sure I cancelled that out with the pizza and king cake.

    Wednesday - Fun day. The three hours zoomed right by. It was "Spooky Wednesday" at WB, featuring writers from MOONLIGHT, SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, SUPERNATURAL, and others. Really big and enthusiastic turnout (gratz again, Priya!). Chatted with two writing teams both starting horror pilots and caught up with mah peeps from mah show. Everyone's at Disney tomorrow, and while we still don't know when the strike will end, there's a chance we may not see our buddies on the line on Monday, so there was exchanging of emails, etc. Here's hoping we see each other on the lot. Soon. After we're back at work.

    StrikeSnacks: Croissants, danish, doughnuts

    Pedometer: 1.3mi

    Thursday - Everyone was at Disney today, which has enough gates that the crowd was able to spread out. I was one of the first there, a little before 8am, and left a bit after 11 at which time the lot was swarming with Guild and SAG members. A beautiful day, with kind of a festive, "last day of school" vibe, although cautious optimism was definitely the predominant voiced opinion. Emails were exchanged, calls made to cell phones to save the numbers, vague plans made for lunches in the commissary when we're all back at work. Which hopefully will be soon, behind a fair deal. Saturday will be very interesting.

    StrikeSnacks: The strike classic, doughnuts. Also, a coffee truck supplied by an anonymous donor. Thanks for the latte, Anonymous!

    Pedometer: 2.7mi

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008


    Pretty exciting times, not leastly for California, which stands to make a difference this primary. Participatory democracy only works if you, y'know, participate, so vote! Like a baby stoat!

    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    A Note About Strike Notes

    I'm behind again on posting these, but hope to catch up during the Giants vs. the Cheaters game. I'm changing the post dates to reflect the week they're about, not the day I'm posting them (today), just FYI, so you'll need to scroll down here or in your newsreader.

    I'll try to be better about posting these in a more timely fashion. With luck, this won't be an issue for much longer. We'll see what the week brings! Until then, see you on the line.

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 13


    Monday - @ Fox today for WGA/SAG solidarity day. Took the first morning shift, guessing (correctly) that it'd be a mob scene and hard to park later. When I left, incoming picketers were already following people in the parking lot, trolling for a space. The turnout's solid, but there's not as many people here as I'd expect. But hey, it's early. Maybe all the actors are hungover from the SAG awards last night.

    StrikeSnacks: Some homemade cookies. Not much of a showing given that the WGA and SAG were all being directed to Fox today, but maybe the treats came later. Got excited seeing a guy with two bags of Sprinkles cupcakes, but turns out he just left them at the guard shack presumably for delivery to someone inside. Sigh. I heart Sprinkles.

    Pedometer: 5.3mi

    Tuesday - Back at WB. Chilly today, although of course we have nothing to complain about compared to our compatriots in New York. Did more standing around and chatting while holding a picket sign than actual walking.

    StrikeSnacks: Doughnuts. Also someone brought by $5 Taco Bell gift certificates from an anonymous donor.

    Pedometer: 1.3mi

    Wednesday - Cold again today, although it got warmer and very nice despite the windiness. One big gust blew a blast of that nasty water from the Fox fountain at us. Or maybe Peter Chernin has a button that does that.

    StrikeSnacks: Homemade cookies

    Pedometer: 5.7mi. Yeah, baby!

    Thursday - Another Teaching Thursday, this time multi-camera comedy day, although some single camera-ers came too. It was warm and sunny for the participants, who included writers from SAMANTHA WHO? and BIG BANG THEORY, Jay Kogen (FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS), and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND creator Phil Rosenthal. Chatted with a couple of newcomers to LA who were lamenting their timing. This too shall pass, folks.

    StrikeSnacks: When it rains (not literally today, happily), it pours! Doughnuts courtesy of Priya, the Teaching Thursday organizer, plus pizza from Fans4Writers -- delivered by Nia Vardalos -- and another visit from the Tropical Smoothie Cafe lady.

    Pedometer: 2.0mi

    So begins month four of the strike...