My 15 minutes

It really was a dark and stormy night—the night I was in my first movie, a memory brought back by last week's Academy Awards.

The movie was Halloween II, and my wife and I were "extras." Extras are the people in the background who are kind of like props with legs. If they do their job right, you never notice them.

It was a "night-shoot," so we arrived at 8 p.m. It was already dark, cold and wet. Because extras are at the bottom of the movie making "caste system" (think "untouchables"), there weren't even chairs for us to sit on. They expected us to sit on the cold, wet curb for three or four hours *in the rain* until they were ready to shoot. My wife was appalled by this.

Since she's never afraid of authority figures, she soon spied a prop police car and she suggested we get in where it was dry. I thought this was a *very* bad idea. Before I knew it there were six of us huddled inside the car.

I was terrified that an AD (assistant director) would find us, send us all home without pay and yell, "You'll never work in this town again!" I only stopped worrying when I fell asleep, along with the everyone else in the car.

We woke when someone banged on the hood and pointed towards the catering tent, because dinner was being served at midnight. Since everyone else had eaten, we lowly ones could eat what was left. We clambered out of the car and had a surprisingly good dinner.

Around 3 a.m. the rain stopped, the lighting (which always takes hours, even when it's not raining) was done and they were ready for the first shot. We were an angry mob (shades of irate villagers with torches in Frankenstein) throwing rocks and stones at the infamous Halloween House. It sounded like great fun until we were cold and unable to feel our fingers which made it difficult to throw rocks well enough to break windows.

We stood in front of the scary-looking hovel which was just a badly maintained house in an otherwise nice South Pasadena neighborhood. The AD informed us that we were angry (duh), and we wanted the guy with the hockey mask out of the house! Of course I can't imagine that we wanted him coming out *at* us, but they never give extras much to go on.

The lights switched on, as bright as day, but made to look like night. The director and camera rose on a crane in the middle of the street. The AD yelled "Quiet, people, this is a TAKE!" and then we heard "action" and we started throwing rocks and stones at the windows.

The thing we weren't doing was yelling, because 1) it would upset the neighbors, and 2) they would add *professional* yelling in post-production.

They replaced the glass and shot the scene a few more times, then moved on to a scene with Donald Pleasance talking to police men (extras with moustaches) while we milled around directionless in the background.

At around 6 a.m. they paid us $20 in cash, and we went home. Months later the movie came out and we're on screen for about a second. You can see my wife because she's wearing a snow white coat. You might be able to see me because I'm overacting right behind Donald Pleasance.

We did extra work on a few more movies, including a big three day stint on a Dyan Cannon TV movie where she spent one entire day yelling the same line, "Dace, Jess!" until it was burned onto our brains (clearly it still is!), and we discovered our that new friend, "Chalet" a beautiful, tall African American woman who worked in the garment center location, was actually a man. Shades of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

My career as an extra skyrocketed to include such impressive non-speaking parts as a hot dog vendor on the TV show Cagney and Lacey (the crew said they were very impressed because my acting was "so big" it could be seen from across the street).

My last, and I mean last, extra job was a few years ago when John Carpenter was filming  "Village of the Damned" in our small town. It starred Christopher Reeves (whose acting was brilliant in person—he was also extremely nice off the set), Kirstie Alley (the less said the better), and Mark Hamill, who said I could have read his wallet if he hadn't lost it.

After three long nights filming (at a big $40 per night), my appearance on screen consists of my left arm. My wife's role is bigger—her ear has a tantalizing brush with fame as the camera glides by.

My favorite review of this movie was, "Village Of The Damned is one of the worst movies I've ever seen—everything about it was bad." Well, surely not my wife's ear or my left arm.

Daniel Will-Harris

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Quick Tip To Stop Hiccuping

No, this *isn't* an April Fool's joke—it actually works. I was having a bad attack of hiccups and my wife had just seen a new cure on TV. She got a dollar bill and waved it front of my face and I stopped hiccupping immediately. I assume it will work with larger bill and international paper money, too.

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Free Upgrade To NetObjects Fusion 7

Yes, NetObjects Fusion 7 is in beta. I've used it, it looks good, and that's all I'm allowed to say about it at the moment.

Buy a copy of NetObjects Fusion MX now and get a free upgrade to NetObjects Fusion 7, the next version. It's the fastest and least expensive way to get Fusion7 when it's released.

A full copy of MX is only $99.95 (less than half the price of other company's upgrade charges), and upgrades from previous versions are just $49.95.

To qualify, simply buy NetObjects Fusion MX or the NetObjects Fusion MX upgrade between March 12 and June 15, 2002, complete the online registration form, and provide a valid e-mail address for redemption purposes. Get it now!

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How many sites link to yours?

Want to see how many sites link to yours—and how your number stacks up with other sites, including major sites on the web? Just go to http://marketleap.com/publinkpop/default.htm and enter your URL (it's free), and the URL of up to three other sites. The system uses the major search engines to count the number of links there are to your site.

This site also can check and tell you which search engines your site is listed on (though I have to say I found some errors here). It will also check how many pages on your site are actually indexed by search engines.

All this info adds up to give you a good idea of where your site stands in the world of links. The more links, the more traffic.

How do you get more links? First, it helps if your site says something useful! Use your particular expertise to offer valuable and useful information.

Then the tried and true method is to trade links. Go to sites that have content that your site visitors would be interested in, then e-mail that site and say you'll add a link to them if they add a link to you.

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Missing pictures in Fusion?
Verify your assets

If you open your site in NetObjects Fusion and find that a picture has disappeared (the box appears with an X and a red "!"), it means you either deleted, renamed or moved either the picture, or the directory containing the picture.

If just one picture is missing, double click the missing graphic, and then go find the picture on your hard disk.

If you're missing a lot of images, you can often fix them all at once by going to Assets and choosing Assets/Verify All Assets. If something's missing it'll ask you where it is now, and you can point to the new file and then it will reappear on the page. If an entire folder is missing and you specify a new location, all the files that used that folder are updated at once.

The best way to prevent this is to store all the images for a site in the \assets\ folder under your \user site\site name\ directory. That way you won't accidentally move or rename the files or folder.

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One more thing:

The next time you watch a movie or TV show, look at the people in the background. It's interesting to watch them, though you may find it difficult to focus on them rather than the stars in the foreground.



Like the stories? Buy the book!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.