The Great Escape


I had originally intended to write about an incident I witnessed last night involving the neighbors that live on either side of me. Long story short, I’ve grown tired of repeatedly reporting this idiot neighbor to Animal Control for having his dog off-leash and seeing it go after other neighborhood dogs — and their owners on occasion. I figure for as big a nuisance as that dog is, if those involved in the fracases don’t bother to report this jackwipe* and his wild animal then I shouldn’t really give a damn, either.

Not my circus, not my monkeys. Deal with it or don’t. It’s no longer any of my business.

Now onto my life.

We have two cats: Monte and Steve. And they are extreme opposites.

At 15 pounds, Monte is one great big lump of orange-tabby love. He’s the friendliest and calmest cat you’ll probably ever meet or as Ann and I like to say, “He’s a lover, not a fighter.” He really is.

Steve, on the other hand, is much different. He’s very skittish and will often wildly jump in the air if he’s walking by me and I happen to twitch my foot. We think he drank too much coffee when he was a kitten.

And Monte will talk to you in little gurgly bursts while Steve will just meow and meow and meeeeeoooooooooooowww at the slightest mention of his name.

We sometimes let Monte roam the backyard because a) we know any plans of an escape are practically impossible considering his girth and b) he likes to roll around in the dirt. Steve? We’ve tried but given his uh…skittishness, the outdoor life is just not for him. Sometimes even the indoor life is scary for him.

Take, for example, the day we brought him home. Tommy, the name he was given at the shelter, was running all over the place trying to find a place to hide. Eventually he did but he was so well hidden that we came to the conclusion that he had escaped. Ann and Anthony walked up and down the street calling for The Cat Formerly Known as Tommy but didn’t get a response nor did they see him.

We eventually found him hidden not only underneath the couch but inside the bottom of it. Steve is funny that way.

In the past, Steve has made a few runs for the door and 99% of the time, we catch him. Given his personality, who knows how he would handle himself if he ever escaped into the wild.

Well, Monday night we sort of found out.

The patio screen door has a hole in it but it was a little warm that day so we left the sliding glass door open so get some air flowing through the house. We covered the hole with a piece of Anthony’s child safety gate that we normally put in front of the couch at night to keep Arliss off of it.

Monday night as I was nodding off, I heard a noise at the back door that woke me up. By the time I realized what was going on, Monte had slipped his chubby body between the gate and the screen door, and squeezed his way outside. Seeing this, I jumped into action and brought him back in the house.

After a minute of scolding him, it dawned on me: I need to see if Steve had gotten out.

No chance, I figured. He likes sleeping in the closet at night. Or on our bed, in the kitchen window, etc. He’s got his spots.

But I checked all of them and Steve wasn’t in any of them. I started to panic and woke up Ann.

We then grabbed flashlights and began to search the backyard — every corner of the backyard. We called for him and he never responded, something unusual for Steve. With that in mind, we went back in the house to check again.

Still not in any of his hangouts; still not speaking up.

Then we really started to panic. Remember, this skittish Steve. He doesn’t even like when any of us P-pop in his face (as when using a word such as pepperoni or anything else with more than one P in it. He’ll run away because it annoys him so much.

That’s why we were worried. If Steve can’t even handle something like a P-pop, there’s no way he would do well in the wild — especially considering the coyote population in our area. Yes, in southern California, even in a city with the word “beach” in its name, we have a coyote problem. They do and have eaten neighborhood cats.

Total panic mode. Ann even woke up Anthony to help us join the hunt. They went to search the backyard again while I got in the car to drive around the neighborhood and look for him.

None of us had any luck. At this point, after exhausting pretty much all we could do by 2:30 am and knowing that work/school alarm would be going off at 6 am, the only thing I could do was sob and think of what a great cat Steve was.

Even though he was tweaky, he was still our kitty. He loved having his belly scratched and batting LEGO pieces around the floor. Oh, and chewing on Anthony’s Nerf darts. Temptations cat treats were his favorite and at the sound of the crinkling bag, he’d come running. That didn’t happen Monday night.

We were nearly certain Steve was gone and there was nothing we could do. The thought of coyotes just gave me chills and I would have lost it if I had heard him put up a fight while…ugh. Just never mind. I was a mess enough as it was.

We decided to go to bed around 3 am and we were all upset. Then I saw Monte sitting at the patio door, looking outside as if he was expecting Steve to come back any minute.

I sat down next to him and pet him, quietly sobbing and looking out the door with him. My heart hurt. I got to bed at about 3:30 am.

The six o’clock alarm went off. I hadn’t gotten much sleep between then and 3:30, as if running on 2.5 hours of sleep would be healthy to begin with. As usual, Ann was up first. This was our first day without our tweaky Steve.

I was still in bed, obviously tired. I started to compose a Facebook post regarding Steve’s escape along with a picture of him curled up with Monte. It was almost a goodbye to him, considering his demeanor and lack of outdoor experience.

I then started to compose a flyer in my head that we would post around the neighborhood, then thought about when we should start looking at the shelter for him. Even though he’s chipped, I’m certain the phone numbers are not current.

But as I started to compose the somber Facebook post, I heard Ann calling me from the den quietly then progressively louder.

“Dave! It’s STEVE! IT’S STEVE! I found Steve! OMIGOD, he’s on the patio!”

I dropped everything and ran to the patio. Yes, it was Steve in Ann’s loving embrace, the hug that only he allows her to give. Anthony was excited. Ann cried. I was relieved.

Then I grabbed him and gave him a big hug as I cried. It was chilly that night but Steve was warm. The only thing we could figure was that he had gotten inside the shed in the backyard and found a nice little nook to sleep in. That, or he hopped the wall and curled up on our neighbor’s patio furniture. Steve’s good at curling up. Monte? Not so much.

But wherever Steve was hiding that night, it kept him safe from harm and that was a relief to all of us. For as little sleep we got that night, we were all so happy and excited to have good ol’ Steve back in our lives — even if he was only gone for a matter of hours.

Steve and Monte

Here’s Monte (background) keeping an eye on his brother from another mother the day of his return. Steve seems a little more reserved now, as if being in the wild sort of humbled him a bit.

Regardless, I’d rather have him back and meoooooooowwwwwing around the house than worrying if he is going to end up as coyote chow.

Welcome home, Steve. Now don’t ever do that again.

*Jackwipe: a phrase coined by a friend of ours, combining the words “jackass” and “ass-wipe.

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13 More Pictures of the New “Amityville Horror” House


First and foremost, I need to explain a little bit.

As I post my pictures of the location and the interest in this movie continues to gain momentum, I’ve witnessed a blatant disregard for the intellectual property in regards to my images. I’ve seen many of them being reposted on Instagram and while I have no problem with that, when users go so far as to crop out my watermark on the image, that’s when it becomes an issue.

The watermarks on the images serve two purposes: to clearly indicate the owner of the image and to deter unauthorized use so when someone doesn’t ask permission or give me credit, at least my Twitter handle will still be visible. That hasn’t been the case with the images I’ve seen on Instagram where the watermark was cropped out completely.

While I understand that trying to prevent images from spreading like wildfire online is practically impossible, intentionally omitting the owner’s mark and pretending that the images is yours for the sake of gaining 200 likes is, in a word, uncool. That said, I have had bloggers contact me asking permission to use them to which I agreed as long I was given credit for them. All of them have complied but it only takes a few bad non-blogging apples to spoil things so from this point on, I will be watermarking the images with my Twitter handle in a conspicuous location on the image as well as applying filters so that they are more distinct. Hopefully this will alleviate things or at least show who the rightful owner is.

Besides, I will always own the original, hi-res versions.

With all that out of the way, here’s today’s batch of images from the new Amityville Horror location. It’s been almost a few weeks since I last went running through the park so a lot has changed. Here’s a shot approaching the rear of the set.

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Walking up to the set, it appears that a lot of the props are now starting to be placed. Here we see a small boat as well as some gardening tools.

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The rear of the house seems to be taking the longest. Since my last visit, roof tiles have been placed, windows installed, and painter’s tape/masks removed from the existing windows.

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In addition to this, a fence has been constructed around the backyard and foliage – real and artificial – has been set in place.

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Compared to last time, we can see that this side of the house appears to be much more detailed with the addition of shrubs. Although not visible here, zooming in on the original image shows that house now looks more weathered than it did before. Those SFX guys are amazing.

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I wasn’t able to get a good 3/4 shot last time so here you go.

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The front of the house.

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Another shot of the infamous home. Note the prop tree stump and firewood. You also get a better view of the wooden fence from this angle. Filming must be happening soon if the details are going in now.

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Also put in place since last time was this big pile of firewood which I saw the security guard messing with as I was walking by. I’m not sure if he was going to bother me or not so I played it cool with taking pictures until he was out of sight. I should have just taken them anyway. (I mean, come on, it’s in a public park. We have a right to be there!)

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An interior shot showing wallpaper being hanged. Note the “NOT A STEP” warning written on the ledge above my watermark.

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A better shot of the backyard details.

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The backyard fence.

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And finally, from afar.

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At this point I went back to my 2-mile mark to hydrate a little bit then continued on my way. Unfortunately, I had worked 8 hours (4pm – midnight) the previous day and my knees just couldn’t take much more punishment, especially working on 3 hours of sleep. I ended up walking the rest of the way, my route shortened from the standard running of 9 miles to walking 4 miles. To top it off, my Endomondo app kept losing my GPS signal and my measured distance was way off. It was a horrible workout overall and I didn’t even save it. I’ll save a better workout later on.

One more thing I’d like to address. I’ve gotten questions as to whether the set was located near a lake. The answer is yes, it is, but not entirely close to it. Click to enlarge the image, courtesy of Google Maps.

amity map 2

And with that, this post is a wrap. I will post more images as I take them. Hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve gotten so far.

Pictures of New “Amityville Horror” House


Last week, a little bird told me that there was some kind of construction going on at El Dorado Park, which just happens to be part of my BSR (Big Sunday Run) route. The park, literally 2 miles from home is huge, divided into two parts, and takes up a good portion of my run.

I figured I had to check this out for myself so I took a break from my run to see what was going on.

Here’s the back of the house, still under construction:

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Here’s another shot with a small garage adjacent to the home:

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I continued to make my way around the house:

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This is where I thought it would be funny to pose with a rather frightened look on my face (flames added for dramatic effect because, you know, Amityville Horror and stuff):

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And finally, the front of the house:

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The set is drawing a lot of attention because, well, it’s in the middle of the park for crying out loud. For someone unfamiliar with movie locations or set construction I’m sure they’re curious as to why a home is being built in here and to those who know, it’s becoming a cool spot to take pictures and brag to your out-of-state friends about. In fact just after I took this shot, a group of runners was taking a break and decided to take some pictures themselves. They wanted a group shot so I volunteered my services and took it for them.

For more info on the movie, visit this post at OLV.

And hey, one of those pictures looks familiar, doesn’t it? With all the filming around here, I’m always on the lookout for new locations and tweet pictures to OLV when I see something new. I’m always happy to let them use my shots.

Oh, and my run? I ended up with 9.2 miles. Not bad for an old(er) guy.

I Feel Loved


Okay folks, it was an interesting day to say the least.

First of all let me cut to the chase. I signed a confidentiality agreement with the studio and therefore cannot divulge any information regarding intricacies of today’s shoot. But what I can say is this: you will see me – a lot. This is, without a doubt, the most camera time I’ve ever had with any show. In fact, if you combined all of my time they wouldn’t equal today’s camera time. I will let you know when it airs.

Oh and it was hot out there today. Very hot.

I can also tell you about the networking I did with several other background actors (henceforth referred to as “background”). With all the downtime we have, sharing stories, interests, and the job itself are great ways to pass time. You can learn so much about people if you just sit down, let them speak, and be an active listener. I was with everyone and it was an amazing time and picked up some very positive vibes. They were all good people and it was a great chance to network with all of them.

Also, there was a kitten that had to be under a year of age wandering around the set. And me, being a cat person, immediately befriended said kitty and she took a liking to me instantly. She had no fear of anyone and just wanted a little love. As the day went on and she got more used to us, a few of the background were telling me that I should take her home since I was so attached to her.

Believe me, I would have. But the cost of vet bills and the possibility of her needing to be spayed at a time when I just lost my job wouldn’t have worked too well. And and strictly forbade me from bringing her home. Trust me, I still have the text.

Later, I did notice that those running the location put out cans of cat food for the strays which gave me a little solitude, but I wasn’t entirely happy about the cat’s future.

That was until we wrapped for the day and I saw one of the PAs (Production Assistant) sitting on the ground next to the spotted kitten, petting her. She told me that two of the crew members were going to split the cost of the vet bill and take her home. This totally made my day and I gave the kitty a few more scratches on the head before I went home. She was awesome.

Sadly, no pictures of Kitty. There was a strict policy regarding photography and if you were caught, you were made to delete the image/s and escorted off the set, perhaps never to work on the show again. But she’ll live on in my mind and my heart is at ease knowing she’ll be taken care of.

So why do I feel so loved, as the title of this post implies?

Today was the day when my departure was announced at the Monday Meeting of my former employer. Before it happened, I was getting the play-by-play via SMS from a former coworker who was telling me the reactions from people about my getting the ax. I also was checking Facebook posts. Here are some excerpts from both:

“She is upset that you are gone. Her eyes watered up and she said she couldn’t believe it.”

“I think everyone is really shocked.”

During the meeting, “There was a silence after they said you weren’t there.”

Afterward, there were arguments over looming deadlines and someone said, “Well, you shouldn’t have let David go. You could have put him on [another project].”

But perhaps the best comment of the day was this one:

“There were fireworks in your honor!”

You know, it almost makes me feel bad for what I said in my last post – almost. Perhaps they should have treated me a little bit better and given me a few more chances to prove myself rather than cut me from their budget because as you can see, there’s a world of pain ahead for everybody without me there to help pick up the slack.

And it’s only Monday. I’m not saying the place is falling apart but man, it sure seems like it’s been in better condition. I don’t recall there being this much strife over someone’s departure in my almost 3 years of working there. I was the quiet one who just did his job and went on to the next one and as I stated in the previous post, told very little of my private life to permanent employees which is why I’m finding this outpouring of support so freaking odd.

But just as I’m doing, they need to move on.

By the way, today’s shoot was only 30 minutes from home. You don’t know how happy I am to not have to drive 40 miles round-trip daily to and from my former job.

So between the arguments over my layoff, meeting some amazing people, and nearly taking home a kitten who stuck to me like glue, today I truly and honestly feel loved.

And somehow I keep thinking I’ll be getting a call within the next week…

CSI’m Done!


My two glorious days and 24+ hours of wandering the New York streets of Paramount Studios to add a little Puerto Rican atmosphere to CSI: New York are done. They were a bit exhausting but as usual, a lot of fun.

This was originally a one-day shoot for most of us but a few, including myself, got a callback for today. I was used a lot on both days and, as the previous post clearly indicates, I was given some props to handle during most of my scenes.

Also as expected, I got to meet a ton of great people who are doing this in their free time. This is an amazing way to network.

And from what I hear, this episode will air on October 15th (date subject to change). Be sure to mark your calendars so you can see my mug all over the place. I will post an update should I hear anything different.

Tired, I am. But if you want work in this business you have to get it yourself, so now it’s time to make some calls and see what’s available for next week!

Addendum: I forgot to mention that although this is only my third day of doing this kind of work, it seems like I’ve been doing it for months. I find it hard to believe that I only started on Monday, but maybe it’s the long days coupled with being out of work for so long that have made this job feel like I’m already a veteran. Either way, it’s still the best minimum wage job I’ve ever had!

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