Monday, September 29, 2008

A Sign Of The Times

As I sit and write this post, the local news stations are leading with stories of gas shortages all over the Atlanta area. They have reporters posted in different areas confirming what we have known for a couple of weeks now that we really are out of gas.

I'm one of the lucky ones since I no longer work full-time, so I'm not using gallons of gas each week. I've noticed that the volume of traffic has declined during the day, which makes it easier to get to Target in less time than normal.

Anyway, last week, I noticed that my gas was hovering around a quarter of a tank, so I made it my mission on Friday to just suck it up and go on a scavenger hunt. As luck would have it, I found gas at a Quicktrip station about ten minutes from my house. I waited in line for less than ten minutes ...I was lucky. FYI California friends, I still only had to pay $3.97. No gouging at Quicktrip.

On the way home, as I passed several stations that were empty, and since I have a lot of family and friends who don't live in the south, I thought I should take pictures so y'all could see what is happening down here. So I got my camera and hit the road.

The images below speak for themselves.

Here's how they keep people from trying to pump gas when there is none. I guess some people can't read the signs...or maybe they think they're just kidding. I have to say that that BP's bag looks a lot more professional than the plastic bag that the Shell station used.

You would have to see it to believe it...I found a gas station that actually had gas and lines.

And finally a close-up. Most of the stations have employees directing traffic. That seems to keep road rage or gas rage under control. But I've heard stories. It's not pretty.

The pundits seem to think we have two more weeks of this so-called shortage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my camera in my car.

Friday, September 26, 2008

S.O.S., Saturday afternoon

Every spring and fall, Tom and I go to O.D. (North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) for S.O.S. This year was special for Tom because it was his twenty-fifth anniversary of deejaying for this event. Pam, H.Lee, Maria, and Steven were "the planning committee" for this occasion and we have so much to thank them for. Basically, this was Tom's day and this blog is all about him. I'm importing 18 images that include our friends and especially, "the folks between the posts." These are the loyal followers of not only Tom, but of his music.

On Saturday afternoon when he deejays, he always passes out "backstage passes" with the tour's name on it. In several of the shots you will see people with the passes around their necks. This year's tour was, "Playing What You Need to Hear, Not What You Want To Hear." He doesn't take requests or do special dances, i.e. birthday or anniversaries. Like the backstage passes say, he plays what folks need to hear and he doesn't think they need to hear The Electric Slide. He plays three afternoons from 3 P.M. until 7:00 P.M.

At around 6:00, the manager of the pavilion, H.Lee, told him to stop the music and come to the dance floor. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. He joined "the folks between the posts," not knowing what was about to occur. The spokesman for the ceremony was Milton, the second in command of "the folks between the posts." That's just the way it is.
I have no idea of what he was saying because I was several feet away. There was no way they could have gotten these people to get quiet. Remember they have been in a party mode for several hours, if you know what I mean. It looks like Milton must have said something funny judging by Kim's (the guy with the white tee shirt, who by the way, drove four hours Saturday morning to be there for the presentation) expression. In the picture above, behind Milton's left shoulder, is Billie and to her left is Linda Gray, Charles' sister-in-law. Directly behind them is Joe, a newcomber to the tribe.

In the picture below, Milton is reading the inscription on a plaque that "the folks between the posts" gave him. H. Lee is standing next to him, holding the plaque. The words on the plaque were, "Thanks for 25 years of boogie woogie music." Wonder what Tom's thinking?

Next, H.Lee made his presentation in which he and his wife, Pam, presented him with one of his anniversary tee shirts framed with two photographs.

This presentation was followed by Tom trying his best to hold back the tears. He was so surprised and humbled by the whole ceremony.

This shot is of Charles, the leader of the tribe, giving some kind words to Tom. Through the years they have become close friends. Charles has been such a support to Tom and always knows the right thing to say.

Again, Tom and Charles.

Pictured below are Linda Carol on the left and Cathy Jane on the right. I have no clue who the woman is in the center. Both women are the the Hall of Fame, and are such southern ladies. I guess you could tell that they're from the south by their names, Linda Carol and Cathy Jane. Cathy Jane's sister is Linda Gray. It goes on and on.

Steven (a.k.a. Stevie) and Maria were "the planning committee." Maria hung banners and balloons and I have no idea of what Steven did. I guess he did what Maria told him to.

We share a condo with Freck and Sylvia each S.O.S. Both Freck and Sylvia are in the Hall of Fame. Great dancers, wonderful friends.

This is Phyllis and her friend Skip. Phyllis, another Hall of Famer, has been a supporter for years. Skip, although a local, is a newcomer to the group. I have to say that Phyllis has the MOST SOUTHERN accent that I have ever heard. She can put at least two syllables in the words "help" or "at". Really, it's a gift.

Maria and Sylvia just lookin' good. They shamed me into wearing lipstick.

Tom and Rosie. What a doll. Sweet to the bone.

Freck, Sylvia's husband, took this shot. Not bad. That's me in my new orange sweater.

Hanging around the outside of the pavilion were these two. On the left is Steve and on the right is Butch. Both are deejays at Duck's. Ain't they somethin'?

Pam and H. Lee joined Tom in the deejay booth for one final shot. One big happy family. Can't wait until spring.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SOS, Society of Stranders, Friday afternoon

In my last post I mentioned that we were at the beach because of SOS. I found an article at does a good job explaining this phenomenon that we attend twice a year.

S.O.S. Fall MigrationMyrtle Beach, SC -
The Society of Stranders calls its thousands of active members to return to North Myrtle Beach in mid-September for one last big party before winter sets in. Days and nights are filled with activities, shagging and sightseeing. Clubs around the Ocean Drive section pitch in to make sure that every evening resounds with nonstop beach music.
If you've never been Shag Dancing, you've missed out on an American original... this dance craze started in Myrtle Beach over 50 years ago, and it's still going strong. Shaggers slip into their special Shaggin' shoes all year long, but the highlight of every calendar is the S.O.S. Fall Migration - a "pilgrimage" to the birthplace of Shag, Myrtle Beach.

What is "Shag" you ask? It's a phenomenal dance craze that started here, in Myrtle Beach, in the 40 and 50's. Local teens invented the dance step that is most suited to Rhythm & Blues music. But "Shag" is much more than a style of swing dancing, it is a way of life for people from Virginia Beach to Florida!

"Serious shaggers are in a lifestyle, which goes way beyond the dance, it's a camaraderie thing," Phil Sawyer, President Emeritus of S.O.S says. "I've been involved for over fifty years, serious for twenty-five, and I see it all the time... serious bonding between shaggers, they bond and stay bonded... shagging is far more than a dance, it's a lifestyle."
If you don't think these folks take this seriously, think again. "We've had churches call wanting to know when S.O.S is having our Fall Migration, so they don't schedule revivals during that time! And we've had people call about weddings for the same reason," according to S.O.S.'s Mr. Sawyer.

Shag is a 6-count, basic pattern dance with East Coast Swing. There is a rearrangement of the footwork that makes it look and feel unique. All the action occurs below the waist, though instructors tend to teach a very standard basic pattern..
True seasoned "Shaggers" take pride in adopting their own versions of the dance, each being distinctive and smooth. Using the balls of their feet and small steps, "Shaggers" manage to perform this very "cool" style of dance to individual perfection!

Now that you know about S.O.S., here are some pictures of the O.D. Pavilion and our friends who were there while Tom was playing. This was the crowd outside on Friday afternoon. Who works?

And this was inside. That's Sam, the good-looking one with the sunglasses on his head.

Here's the deejay, my Tom, having a big time.

I couldn't get shots of all of our friends, only a few. This is Norfleet and Brenda.

This is young Geoff doing some fancy footwork.

And this is my stepson, George, and his partner, Crystal. He likes to dress-up for these occasions.

I took several breaks while Tom was playing and went on the beach to take a few shots. Look what I found. They were everywhere!

I did get some good beach shots, but I'll wait for another time to post them.

At last 7 P.M. came and we went. This is a shot of the group going to a condo to dine on "Frogmore Stew," or some call it "Low Country Boil." Thanks, Skip.

Just another day at the beach.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wouldn't You Just Know It

This is SOS week at North Myrtle Beach. I'll explain SOS in a later email, but today I've got to show you what happened to us the day after we arrived. I had great intentions: walk on the beach getting that badly needed exercise, get some sun at the pool, and just look at the ocean from our condo. HA! Here's a picture of our view taken on Wednesday after we checked in. As you can see, we don't exactly have an ocean view. They call it "side view." Yea, side view if you lean over the balcony while someone is hanging on to you. But this is the good part.

The next morning, after my coke and bagel, I put on my shorts and tennis shoes to get ready for my big walk on the beach. Before I got my iPod and water, I decided to investigate the situation, so I walked to the beach, and this is what I saw.
And then it came closer.

And even closer.

It wasn't looking good for walking on the beach, I hung around and watched the action. This is called a crab. It checks the bottom of the ocean for holes. That's what they told us. Here's more.

If you look in the upper left of the image, you will sand and water gushing. They, the Army Corps of Engineers, were pipeing sand from the ocean to the beach, and they had to do it during this week! Here's more.

There were lots of these little machines...looked like backhoes, but I don't know machinery. Here he comes again.

By the Thursday afternoon, they were moving down the beach. They started stacking the pipes right next to our condo.

This is the final shot. This morning, Friday, one long pipe was still in place, I guess it's transporting sand down the beach. I've lost interest.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Did It Again

Last Tuesday afternoon, I got a call from Extras Casting. Somehow after working on We Are Marshall, I remained on someone's list because two years ago, I was called twice to do a "gig" on October Road, but the timing wasn't right, and besides I didn't want to drive forty to fifty miles south of my house at 5:30 in the morning. The caller asked me if I wanted to be an extra in a pilot for a television show, called "Drop Dead Diva." This time I knew the questions to ask: when, where, and how much would I be paid. Although it was less than minimum wage, I decided since the location was about ten miles from my house and I didn't have to be there until 6:30, I would do it.

The next morning, with mapquest in hand, I loaded up my stuff. I took books, extra make-up, shoes, and of course, my camera. I arrived on time, went to the hospital (abandoned), was given the wrong directions, finally found the right place for extras and waited. That's what you do when you're an extra...wait. After an hour or so, they herded us to wardrobe in groups. For the first scene, I was a nurse. I was given scrubs and tennis shoes and proceeded to a trailer to change. Again, we were herded onto the set (Hollywood talk) to take our places. I was lucky because for this first scene, Carol and I were placed behind the Nurses' Station in chairs. Yea! Carol and her son were also extras in We Are Marshall (WAM). It was good seeing her again.

Just like WAM, they rehearsed the scene about five to ten times before beginning to film. They moved extras around, changed the camera angle, and generally walked around in circles until they were happy. When they began filming, it took at least ten to fifteen takes to complete the scene. The good thing about this "gig" was that there were less than fifty extras. This enabled the director, the assistant director, and the production assistants to give us individual instructions. One smallish man came up to me and introduced himself as Jim. He asked my name, then proceeded to show me what he wanted me to do. My instructions were to hold my hands in the air as if starting to type something on the computer. He was a pleasant guy, but very serious and very, very focused. I started to tell him about my degrees thinking that that would comfort him knowing that I wasn't a total idiot, but held back. It was a good thing that I kept my mouth shut because I later found out that he was the director. It wouldn't be a good thing to be a smart ass to the director. McG, who was the director in WAM hardly ever had direct contact with the extras. I'm just sayin'.

The conditions of the set could have been worse. Because this was in an abandoned hospital, there was no air-conditioning. They had a huge vent piping in cold air, but when they were shooting, it was turned off. By the afternoon, it was getting really, really, hot. They provided lots of water, soft drinks and snacks during the breaks. Again, this didn't happen on the sets of WAM. We had to keep our water bottles and fill them up at the fountains. It's probably because of the large numbers of extras and who knows what their budget was. I just bet Matthew McG got anything he wanted. He had a personal assistant who hovered with Gatorade and a wet towel. I didn't see an assistant hovering around Matthew Fox. I don't even need to start about how I feel about this narcissistic business. My brother-in-law told he they call it "the industry" in LA...that's industry talk for Los Angeles.

The camera man was of utmost importance in the two scenes in which I was involved. It seems that the diva dies in a car wreck at the beginning of the show. The way we (other extras) figure it, after the accident, she is brought to the emergency room, where she either comes back to life, or that is where she dies. Hard to tell. When the action began the camera man who spoke with a German accent, walked quickly down a hall with the camera attached to his body, then turned right passing the nurses' station and went in a back office and shot through a window. I don't want to mislead you into thinking that it was just a camera man, it was he, a guy one step behind him carrying a battery or two, a guy carrying cords and another guy carrying cords. We always knew when they were coming because they always followed the same sequence: rolling, counting from ten to one, then action, then freeze, then eyes open, then cut. The only thing we could figure as to why they yelled, "eyes open," was the diva either came back to life or opened her eyes before she died. I know I'm on the edge of my seat. When Jim and them (a southern phrase, kinda like your mama and 'em) were happy with this first scene, we were sent to Extras' Holding.

A P.A. (industry talk for production assistant) entered the holding area after we had been waiting for about an hour, and announced that we needed to change for the next scene. I changed into my original outfit which was basic khaki slacks and a coral blouse. We were herded into another section of the hospital. The placement of the extras took about thirty minutes. Carol and I kinda stayed in the background thinking that it might be cooler if we weren't under the lights in the hallway. As luck would have it, I was moved to the hot hallway and was instructed to act like I was in the middle of a step. The man next to me, who was playing a doctor, gave me some documents to fan myself. In the shot it looked as if I was reading the papers. You know, sometimes they pay attention to details and sometimes they don't. Since I figure I was supposed to be a visitor, you would think I would have a purse. But, I didn't. No one did. The guy across the hall from me was in a hospital gown sitting on a gurney. We think he was supposed to have a head injury, but he was sitting up with his legs dangling off of the side with an IV taped to his arm. One of the extras who is a nurse said that hospitals don't let you sit up on a gurney, especially with a head injury. I don't know if it was the heat or lack of food that made this scene funny. While the crew were setting things up, this guy kept mumbling something about smelling "poop," only that wasn't the word he was using. Then his friend, who was playing a doctor, was standing next to what looked like a circuit breaker. He kept opening and closing the door to the circuit breaker making a squeaking sound. The two of them were driving me to distraction... and I told them, but it had no effect. During this time, another extra told a P.A. that she was getting dizzy. The natives were getting restless. It really was hot and there was no air circulating, but the crew were working as fast as they could. At one point, the guy who was on the gurney jumped off and started straightening the sheet, mumbling something about having to do everything himself. He was really, really comical...I guess you had to be there.

At last the camera man came running down the hall. The word was that we would appear as blurs. The camera man and his friends stopped at the double doors and shot through the small windows in the door. They probably did that run about five times. It will be interesting to see how that scene turns out. I figure it was about three hours work, including the crew setting it up, for about four seconds on the screen. People actually like to do this.

We broke for lunch about 1:30 and at 2:30 we were back in the holding area. Another P.A. announced that they were going to let eight of us go. After another thirty minutes, he chose me and seven others who could leave. After signing my paperwork, I was in the car and home in thirty minutes.

One big difference in this group and the WAM group was that there were lots of serious extras here. Many of them had been in other projects in the Atlanta area. They love it and really, really, want to act.

This is Meg with another extra. In real life, she is a nurse. She's been an extra in several movies.

This is Carol. In real life, she is in real estate. After WAM, she was an extra in several episodes of October Road.

This is Gary. He did a commercial for Mr. Sparkey and a reality show on BTV. He seems to know "the industry" and enjoys being an extra. During one of our conversations, I mentioned that I would have liked to be more involved in what went on behind the a camera person or a producer, etc. You know, in charge. But Gary has no interest in being behind the scenes, he wants to be an actor...actually he is an actor, but just needs big parts.

Before I left the property, I took a few shots of the action.

It was fun meeting new people and seeing how this group differed from the WAM group. It's an exciting business, but not something I would like to do on a permanent basis. Too much waiting around...I've go too much to do.