Monday, July 26, 2010

Schrodinger's co-worker

For the past week and a half, I've been going into the office on a daily basis. I haven't been doing that since I started working from home back in December. Many things are the same after 8 months of me rarely being there, but a few things have changed.

Naturally, there are people in the office I haven't met or seen before. There's one guy in particular who I only ever see in the break room when I go to get coffee. He seems to enjoy lounging around the break room, whereas I am in and out like a Delta Force team whose sole mission is to extract a cup of coffee.

As I say, I only see him in the break room. I've never walked past a cube or office and seen him. And it seems like he's there every time I'm in the break room.

One can't help but wonder: is he always in the break room? Does he just spend his whole workday there?

Surely not. But it's Schrodinger's cat, I only know this guy is at work when I look in the break room. Does he exist when I'm not in the break room?

This led to a more disturbing thought...for him, I'm the guy he only sees when I come in to get a cup of coffee. In his observable reality, I only exist when I'm standing in front of that huge silver Starbuck's machine.

The thought is dizzying and alters my perception of reality. If I dwell on it too much, my nose starts bleeding and I wake up on the floor 42 minutes later.

Usually with no pants on, which I can't figure out either.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Shooting on location

I love watching TV shows and movies set in Seattle. Not because I love Seattle so much (although I do love it), but because of the inconsistencies that always crop up. For instance, the view of the Space Needle that Fraisier had from his apartment was impossible. I'm sure this kind of thing happens in every show set any place it's not actually filmed, but Seattle is the one I know and where I can spot the errors.

This weekend, I was watching some recent episodes of In Plain Sight, partly because it features a number of cast members of my favorite show ever, West Wing (Mary McCormack, how I love thee).

In Plain Sight is set in Albuquerque. The episode that made me think about all this, however, started in Seattle.

In the opening scene, a homeless man (who turns out to be a genius and homeless by choice, as are all our homeless in Seattle, I'm sure) wakes up in a basement room where he's been crashing and walks out of the basement of a low stucco building (something you'll never see in Seattle anyway), and then walks past a sign that says "Pioneer Square Library" which made me laugh heartily. For those of you not from Seattle, Pioneer Square is a neighborhood made up almost completely of bars and restaurants. There's no library. The most educational thing in Pioneer Square is the Underground Tour, which I recommend to tourists and locals alike.

The homeless genius then walks what appears to be about a block to some small urban park, where he discovers a bomb while looking through some trash. He runs to a pay phone (almost non-existent downtown) and calls 911, reporting a bomb in "Westlake Plaza". I start laughing harder. Whoever wrote this episode has clearly never been to Seattle and just pulled a couple of place names off of Google or Wikipedia. Westlake (again, for those not local) is a shopping mall downtown. There's no park, and if there is a "Plaza" it's concrete.

Then, there's a wide shot of Seattle, showing (as every show set in Seattle must) the Space Needle - with the Kingdome in the background.  The Kingdome. Which was demolished a decade ago.

What about things shot on location? Surely they would contain fewer errors, right? Ha. I saw or drove past the filming of at least three of the scenes in the movie Assassins, back in the day. When we went to see it, I got a good laugh out of their creative editing. The opening scene, taking place in a graveyard, was shot in the suburb of Everett, about 30 miles from Seattle. In the scene, they pull onto the freeway and a minute later are suddenly in downtown Seattle. I wish my drive to and from Everett went that fast! Later, the heroes are in an alley that I know was just off Union Street, and when they pull out they are on Olive Street 3 blocks away. But the one in Assassins that made me laugh the most was when Sly Stallone jumps from the monorail onto the roof of a building on Fifth Avenue, and climbs down from the roof of the Hurricane Cafe a few blocks away. And for some reason there are some vicious guard dogs out back of the cafe. Awesome.

Whether it's filmed on a set or on-location, remember: the locals are always going to laugh at you.