Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Title Can Do This Story Justice

As most of you are probably aware, I really hate graduations, or indeed similar ceremonies of any type. So it was with some dismay that I found myself, in the middle of a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, sitting at about the thirty-yard line of the football field at my cousin’s high school, waiting for the commencement ceremonies to begin.

Allow me to reiterate. I hate graduations. Before this past Sunday, the only graduation I had ever attended was my own, a fact that only occurred because on several occasions I was explicitly told that if I did not attend the ceremony, I would not be eligible to receive my high school diploma. Why that was the case, I do not know, but I do know that the event was excruciating. Pure pain. But I digress.

So there I was, just shy of the red zone, with my lawn chair and my sunglasses. The ceremony began at 2pm sharp with the high school band playing about thirty-five minutes of “Pomp and Circumstance,” which, under the best of circumstances, is only a marginally tolerable piece of music. This is to say that perhaps the high school band did not do the song its full justice, what with the flat trumpets and the squeaky French horn, but anyway, after about the sixteenth repeat, all nine thousand graduates had filed in (out?) and the speeches could finally begin.

And what speeches they were. Even if you were directly in front of the stage, the public address system left something to be desired, and I was off to the side, so I only heard snatches of the speeches, which was probably for the best, as I might have begun to heckle had I been exposed to them in their full glory. What I do know is that at one point during his speech, the principle donned a snorkel (although I’m not quite sure why) and gave the rest of his speech looking like a total douche.

It was at about this point that a line of dark clouds began to gather in the west, and the temperature dropped about ten degrees in as many minutes. The air became very windy and then very calm and then very windy again. This was small town Wisconsin, and the residents are not idiots when it comes to weather. Everyone there knew it was going to storm. A lot.

But what was really entertaining to watch was what people did with that information. Sitting where I was, in full view of the main grandstand, there was noticeable discomfort among the patrons of this event. Some shifted nervously in their seats. Some got out their umbrellas. Some, presumably of the mindset that their graduate was not worth getting wet over (really proud of you, son), simply walked toward the exits.

About twenty minutes into the proceedings, the principle interrupted to say that because of the impending storm, they were going to cut straight to handing out diplomas. At which point, the sky opened with tremendous force. It rained - as the saying in downeast Maine goes - “like a cow pissing on a flat rock.” It was a true Midwestern summer rain-storm, which is to say that everyone was fully drenched within fifteen seconds. I was able to stave off drowning by putting my folding chair over my head, but pretty soon that became saturated at which point it became about as useful of an umbrella as a tennis racquet would have been.

The really entertaining part of this debacle was that the graduates were having a fucking blast. What better of a way to end your high school experience than to see all your administrators fully soaked, and fully embarrassed, have a graduation ceremony the entirety of which took under forty-five minutes, and have what amounted to a big-ass water fight after you got your diplomas. People were literally spraying each other with water bottles (not that it really mattered at that point) as they stood in line to cross the stage. It was fantastic. I could never go to another graduation, satisfied in the knowledge that I have already seen the best there is to see.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Craps, bro.

I would just like to say, that when I left my apartment this morning (at 8:45am on a Saturday mind you) there were three grown ass men in various states of reclining on the sidewalk, playing craps. This scene was replete with fists full of cash, hats turned sideways, and indeed, one of the gentlemen was wearing no shoes – only socks. It seemed like they had really made themselves at home, right there on the street in front of my apartment. This was hilarious to me on several levels (really, craps? So passé) but mostly due to the fact that approximately 1:29am that morning (but who’s counting, really?) I was shouted awake by several men arguing over $20 won at craps. Which could possibly mean that I had witnessed at least a 7 hour game of craps, give or take. Weirdly enough, I ran into my roommate at work today, and she said that these same gentlemen were still playing when she left the apartment at 11:30am (that’s 11 hours and counting) and additionally, that they had decided to use her bike, which was locked outside, as a coat rack. I’m super excited to see if they’re still going when I get home tonight.

I won’t miss living here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Fuck I'm so sorry I suck real bad at keeping this blog up to date. Though to whom I'm apologizing I'm not even entirely sure. But if anyone actually still reads this given my shitty track record of not being able to update worth a damn, be consoled in the fact that I have, in fact, been writing, and in 5 or 6 weeks when I'm not in tech, I might even get around to editing and posting some of the things I've written. Again, my deepest apologies. Fuck.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

This is awkward, one of us is going to have to change...

So here’s a funny story: over Christmas, I went to visit my aunt in Orange County, and had the opportunity (misfortune) to drive around in her Prius. I had a whole post written (graphics and all!) about how terribly poorly that car was designed (seriously, everything looks like as though it was an afterthought - how is that even possible?) and then Toyota went and proved it for me. Like, I can’t even be funny anymore, because Toyota one-upped me on their own shitty product. I had all this stuff about how it looks like a shoe, and how the tiny steering wheel makes it seem like you’re driving with a paper plate, and then Toyota was all: “Oh yeah, sometimes the gas pedal gets stuck so you fucking careen out of control while you’re driving.” How am I supposed to make fun of it now? I was going to talk shit about how the joke-ass mini spoiler on the back serves no purpose except to ruin your view out the back window, but that’s not even funny compared to that tricky gas pedal they put in. What a laugh! And then Toyota: “Oh and also, sometimes the brakes fail too, so when that trick gas pedal sticks down and you’re going mad quick, sometimes you can’t stop.” Awesome. Toyota, you sneaky dicks: tricky gas pedal and prank brakes – that’s a riot. Thanks for fucking ruining my jokes. Next they’re going to tell me they did this on a bunch of different models too. Wait, what? Fucking really Toyota!?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Not Tonight...

So now that I’m pretending to be a grownup with a real job, it turns out that it’s much harder to update a blog with any regularity. It’s not really for lack of free time – I just don’t really do interesting stuff anymore. In college I could always fall back on the “I got real drunk and something funny happened” story, but I don’t really do that much crazy shit, and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t write about it in a public forum, because it turns out that employers don’t like that so much. Plus, it’s much easier to motivate yourself to write about something asinine in college because the choice (at least for me) was usually between writing something fun online or writing something boring for class. Round about the fifth or sixth essay about Plato or Lessing or Wordsworth, writing about beer sports or baseball or really anything that’s not literary, seems downright enjoyable. It’s like a warmup for writing something meaningful – twenty minutes to let the martini kick in before starting to write. (That’s the trick to good writing kids – fix a real dry martini before you sit down with your computer and twenty-odd books. It really gets the creative juices flowing. All the great writers did it.) But now it seems like more of a chore than anything. In fact, the only reason I’m even writing now is because I didn’t have anything to do at work between my morning meeting and my afternoon meeting, so I took a two hour lunch break. I’m not even hungry, but I’ll be damned if I’m sitting at my desk for no reason when I don’t get paid hourly. But I digress. What generally happens in my life is this: I go to work, then to the gym, and then I make dinner, and by the time I get to my computer, I look at my blog and it looks at me, and I’m like, “Not tonight, I have a headache.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Electrics Glossary

Every profession has its own lexicon, built on the jargon, jokes, and technical terminology used by its laborers. Theatre – perhaps more so than other trades – has some really quality (and really colorful) vocabulary, the brunt of which originates in the electrics department. For all those of you who are fortunate enough to have a job that isn’t a theatre electrician, allow me to introduce you to some of the more useful and entertaining terms and phrases that exist in my world. In no particular order:

Hot Pocket: Hot patch or “courtesy” outlets contained in many touring dimmer racks. They are always on (“hot”) allowing the user to quickly test fixtures, cables, etc.

Inhibs: Inhibitive Submasters, which prevent lights from coming on. Opposite of a standard submaster, the higher the level of the sub, the lower the level of the light. Also a verb.

Pepsi Challenge: the act of slightly altering a designer’s specifications to be more practical/less neurotic. For example, if a designer specs a trim height of 20’-1” on his or her electrics, you would trim them at 20’ because that is a normal height, and then if, and only if, the designer notices, you change it. Pepsi Challenge can also refer to a scenario in which a designer gives you a note, and you don’t do it, but the next day you tell them you’ve done it and see if simply thinking it’s better alters their perception of what they thought was wrong in the first place.

50/50: the standard home position for many moving lights. 50% of tilt faces the light straight down, and 50% of pan gives the light ability to rotate in either direction.

Iso-opto: isolated optical splitter. It’s a device that splits a single line of data (usually DMX) into several lines. It serves roughly the same function for lighting data as a switch does for Ethernet.

Strippers: wire strippers.

Spaghetti: a cable or rope that is hopelessly and irrevocably knotted around itself and other cables or ropes. Also referred to as an “Asshole.”

Fucknut: the tiny set-screw on many lighting c-clamps that controls the pan of the unit. So named because it is super easy to over-tighten and shear off, and when you inevitably do it, you say “fuck.” Also known in some circles as the OJN (Oh Jesus nut).

Dykes: diagonal cutters.

Stinger: can be one of two things. Either a) a hot Edison extension cable or b) a short wire cable used for rigging.

Meanie: a rope cleat on the west coast.

Uncle Buddy: a rope cleat on the east coast.

“Spin a disk:” to save a show on a light board. This phrase has its origins in the fact that all computerized lighting consoles used to have floppy disk drives so you could save a backup copy of your show.

Jumper: an extension cable (usually stage pin).

“Bang it:” to go directly into a cue, bypassing the computerized fade time. This phrase has stems from the fact that on early model ETC consoles, you would go into a cue by “banging” the playback faders down and up. This phrase has been made largely obsolete by the “go to cue” function.

Dimmer Beach: the area in a theatre (or, more commonly, in a touring setup) designated for the lighting dimmers. Supposed origin: Since the dimmers are usually the heaviest things on the electrics truck, they are usually packed near the rear of the truck, over the wheels. As such, they are one of the first things off the truck during load in. Once the dimmers off the truck and set up on the venue, many L1’s like to set up a beach chair near (or sometimes on top of) the dimmers and instruct the crew on where to put the rest of the lighting gear. Hence, dimmer beach.

Alligator Pits: This may just be a thing at my theatre, but the open holes in the grid through which the batten lift lines travel are called alligator pits. Presumably because if you fall into one, you die.

Yup. See if you can take my job seriously now (as if you ever could)…

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Needless Sexual Innuendo The Week Before Christmas

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to log in to my work email before I went home. Awaiting me were several messages, but the one that jumped out at me had a subject line that read, “Have you seen my package?” I was really scared to open it, but it turned out to be a guy looking for a DVD he got in the mail. Fortunately, the next email I read was one about how there was a going to be a free keg at 4:30pm, so I was able to calm my nerves. But, Jesus Christ. Proofread your emails.