Monday, June 29, 2009

'Missing Paris Day'~Pont Alexandre

(a historical
It is
Alexandre III
during the
by some
50 million
So the Paris "Soldes" have begun again. According to one source, this year's second round of state-regulated sales began last Wednesday on June 24th and run until Tuesday July 28th. The last of this year's twice-yearly (allowed) sales hits just before the usual August vacations when much of Paris shuts down and tout la monde hits the autoroute (usually at the same time). Since so many of the French head down South for 'vacance', my guess is bikinis and beachware are gracing hordes of department store and boutique windows.
Of course, one could also parade bikini-wear during the annual Paris Plage: the one month period each summer when the Pompidou Expressway becomes one long beach along the Seine, complete with (literally) tons of sand trucked in.
I also just read that in June is held the "Garcons de Cafe" (waiters) Race. Sorry to have missed that. Wonder if any of our favorite waiters at Le Suffren participate!
So much to see and do in Paris in the summer! Sigh.

(Photography copyright: Kirsten Steen

Friday, June 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye...

A sad day yesterday for Pop Culture, whatever you think of it. As I wrote on a card to someone recently, saying goodbye is one of the hardest things we do on this Earth. The Leaving and The Left!

To Her I say, Thanks for being here. To Him, Rest now tortured soul.

Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Rive Vienne

Taken one evening in Chinon over the River Vienne. The photo of this little French town and the name of the river make me think of the sweet film "Chocolate" and the character Vianne, played by the ever-lovely Juliette Binoche. Oh, those chocolates!

Happy Monday everybody!

Photograph copyright: Kirsten Steen

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

A bookish meme posted by MizB at shouldbereading.

This week's Teaser comes from a book I won through one of Amy's giveaways at Passages to the Past. Thanks again, Amy!

From Daphne Du Maurier's

My Cousin Rachel.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.

"His old shooting coat with the leather at the elbows that he had left behind when he went upon his last journey, that I wore constantly. Yet these things, the dressing-gown, the slippers- it was almost as though we had opened up his coffin and looked upon him dead."

Feel free to share two lines from your current read, either in the comments or on your own blog. And stay tuned for upcoming 'Random Writing Prompts' and 'Flash Fiction Fridays' to start here soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Day 'On Set'

Photo courtesy of

I'm not a junk-food fan but last week, I gratefully ate my share.
After being in an Extra's Casting Company database for over a year, I finally got my day On Set. I had one close call last year when it looked like I would work on the set of Twilight. And on my birthday, no less. They'd checked my availability twice and had locked me in. I re-read the Do's and Don't's of being on set, went out and bought a hanging garment bag to keep my three sets of clothes changes (required of all paid extras) wrinkle-free, then packed and repacked it several times, sweating and fussing over it. I told my sister and a friend about the gig, went out and got the book to be somewhat informed and read three-quarters of it. A few days later I checked the site again only to find that the dates had changed.


I never got the text to "log online for information" which was their usual protocol. Besides the original date, I was now obligated to be On Set and On Call every day for a week. A week I was scheduled to be working someplace else. I emailed. I called. I asked if I should still be On Set on my original date or if that was now canceled because I could only be there the one day. Never got an answer (which means no in Pollywood—my term for Portland's film business).

FYI, all that calling and emailing with questions about 'Am I hired or not?' are big “no no's”. Mentioned in the 'workshop' of info one must sign off on before getting jobs, one "must think fast, move fast and don't ask a lot of questions". (ie, Don't look or sound stupid or waste anyone's time with inane questions!) A bit of a problem for one who has trouble tracking. I'm one of those who asks, when someone says 'Be there at 5:30', "is that am or pm?" A little deductive reasoning would answer this easily but my questions always seem to fall out ahead of thought.

So, where were we? Oh yeah, after recently getting several requests as to my availability for The Untitled Crowley Project filming in Portland (Harrison Ford, Keri Russell & Brendan Fraser), I'd had to turn down most of them due to scheduling conflicts and then an injury. After saying yes to one such inquiry and making myself available (which means you MUST STAY available... but they'll let you know) for a certain date, I had to do the other big “no no” and both email and call with the message that an injury had made it impossible for me to walk which meant I was no longer available for that date. After last year's bout of emailing and calling with inane questions, I thought for sure I'd be sent to the end of the line with a sign on my back (or profile picture) that said “Absolutely Do Not Call—Waffler, Non-Tracker and Inane Question Perp!”

But then I got another text telling me to log online for job info. I logged on and found it was a date I could do. And my hip was healing. But they wanted me to rate my roller skating expertise. I responded with 'zero to none', forgetting to add that the recent injury meant I could walk but roller skating was out of the question, even if I'd had any skill. Luckily, 'zero to none' did not get me the roller skating gig but they were looking for any and all Pollywood fans to come out and be part of a large crowd at an amusement park. An 'Amusement Park Go'er' was the technical term. No pay but a raffle with lots of fun prizes.

I drove up to Portland, wondering if I would be one of 5 or 6 cars of film geeks willing to be part of a movie for free. When I arrived, the parking lot was filled to capacity and I was stuck in a long line of cars waiting to be told to turn back. I quickly maneuvered out of line, backtracked to the Oak Park lot and hightailed it through the grass to the amusement park entry, with young and middle-aged hopefuls alike.

When I arrived at the gate, even those on foot were now being turned away, told the project had all the extras they needed. Dejected and moping, we headed back toward our cars. Or at least they did. I took five steps and suddenly halted.

“Hey, wait a minute,” I heard myself say. “I'm Tore Steen's daughter. They have to let me in.”
Or at least... mayyybe they'll let me in to use the bathroom when I tell them I drove two hours to get here. And then mayyybe I can catch a glimpse of some filming or get someone to let me sneak in for a quick peek. As it turned out, there was no sneaking. I walked right past the guy on the phone and the traffic controller, both turning people away, and headed into the amusement park.

By the time I got near the bathroom, I spotted the line for extras signing up and slid right in, signed my form, got my instructions and took my spot in the “Extras Holding Area”.
We were given group names and I was one of the “Yellow Jackets”. We listened to instructions from a young guy with an important ID badge paid to keep the extras spirits up with hollers of “I can't hear you”, generally meant to make us yell, laugh and rev up. He reminded us that the motto On Set for extras is always “Hurry up and wait...with lots of patience.” He got us all jazzed and informed but after an hour and a half of waiting with no sign of filming, stars, or any kind of action at all, I could see a few smiles fading. I myself, and a few others, brought books to pass the time (& keep from thinking about said time that could have been spent doing something constructive) while others looked at our books and sighed, wishing they'd thought of it.

Pretty soon, more young people with important ID badges arrived carrying boxes of snacks to keep the unpaid extras happy with chips, cookies, pretzels, etc. A short while later they offered to escort us to the hot dog stand in small groups. After about the third group, I opted to go, not because I wanted a dog but because I wanted to see something, anything, that might be happening. I began to fear that the 'Extras Holding Area' was the only place I was going to see On Set.

The hot dog stand stood just outside the roller rink (where the immediate filming was taking place). We were not allowed to go inside the rink or approach anyone coming out. By the time I got back, all the extras in the holding area were heading into the park. When I asked, I was told we were free to roam the park for an hour while they finished tearing down and setting up the next shot. I made my way right back to the roller rink and parked myself on a bench just across from the door so I could watch.

Another extra sat down next to me and pointed out Keri Russell as she came out of the rink. She's so perfectly tiny I would have missed her. Perky though. Everything about her is perky. Her nose, her bod, her hair, the way it flips about when her perky gait bounces her from place to place. I watched hoards of preened little girls rush out of the “so hot and stuffy rink” (I'd overheard crew members talking) during a break, heading for the catered food boxes, moms in tow. Didn't take long to figure out that each caste of people On Set enjoys a different food level. The unpaid extras get the aforementioned packaged snacks and hot dogs. The paid extras get boxes of prepared meals and certainly somewhere on the back lot was a catering truck for the bigwigs.

As I stayed glued to my bench, the film crew finally emerged from the rink to set up the next shot—and just happened to place the director's chairs right near me. I had an unobstructed view of the monitors right behind where the director, a producer and others watched the filming as it took place .

The two stars filming that day (Keri Russell and Brendan Fraser) had slightly different processes with the director. Keri stood next to the director's chair before filming and, with some animation, gave him her comments and did not return between takes. Brendan, after each shot, stood without a word, watching the dailies and listening to the director's comments (while two assistants hovered over him with tiny, hand-held fans to keep him from sweating as the scene involved running).

The woman next to me had obediently gone back to the 'Extra's Holding Area' some time back to check in but I wasn't moving. I didn't care about being in the film. I wanted to watch the process. And the process had come right to me, allowing me the perfect, front-row seat without being in the way.

When they were finally finished and setting up for the next scene, I went to find the Yellowjackets and check in, lest I be 'in trouble' and never work again but was told they'd given up on the tidy group idea. We were still free to roam the park and pick a group to walk with when they yelled “Background!” (FYI: "Background" is for the extras to start moving. "Action" is for the actors. ) So this time I positioned myself inside the Carousel gate, again right behind the monitors, and skipped being “IN” the scene.

By the time they were done with us that day, I'd eaten pretzels, a granola bar and a hot dog for lunch, a hot dog and 2 'Grandma's Cookies' for dinner. And I didn't win a prize. But getting to watch the process up front had been payment enough for me. Now I'm just hoping the next time I get a text message telling me to log in and give my availability for a job, I get to eat from one of the prepared food boxes. Oh, and just a little, tiny glimpse of Harrison Ford wouldn't hurt either!

Monday, June 8, 2009

'Missing Paris Day'~ Obamas dine in Paris!

In honor of the Obama's dining at a little-known favorite bistro of ours Saturday night, The Fontaine de Mars (far left), I thought I'd post a couple of photos of the sweet little square and fountain right next to the restaurant.

Located in the 7th arrondissement, it is a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower and just across the park from our 15th arrondissement neighborhood. The New York Times reported the bistro had received reservations 10 days earlier but had no idea the name of their high-profile guests until Saturday morning. Owner, Jacques Boudon, exclaimed, "I saw God before me," as he described the President's smile and Michelle's radiance.

In case your inquiring mind needs to know, the Presidential party dined on foie gras, lamb and steak with shallots. I hope someone ordered the profiterole.
We once strayed on this square and decided to try a little restaurant across the way only to find on our plate frozen vegetables. We were shocked! Who in Paris, of all cities, would serve frozen vegetables?! Do you think maybe they're revisiting that idea this week?

Directly across the street is also one of my favorite boulangeries, A La Fontaine de Mars, of which I can't help but take photos every time I walk by as I find it to be one of the most ornate and stunning boulangeries I've seen in Paris!

If anyone knows of an even more ornate boulangerie in Paris, send me the location so I can start a collection.

Happy Monday everybody! And here's to the President's visit bringing Boudon much deserved business!

 Photography copyright: Kirsten Steen

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

Join in the Teaser Tuesday fun!
Hosted by MizB at

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.

Here's this week's Teaser:
From Sarah Dunant's "In the Company of the Courtesan".
"From that night on, my lady sleeps in clean sheets, warmed by Meragosa's lies (told with the same gusto with which she delivered me the truth) and tended by a crippled, blind sparrow of a woman whose unctions and pastes smell so rancid that every time she arrives I can hardly wait to get out into the sour air of the city.
And thus do we come to live in Venice."
Now you!!