Friday, December 31, 2004

Rigging Training

A friend of mine emailed asking about rigging certification. While I was answering I thought to myself "this is a useful chunk of information, I should write it up for Td&t or something." It turns out to be basically a big long commercial for several companies, so maybe it doesn't make a good article. But it is still a hunk of useful info all in one place so of course I thought I would put it here...

> Hey I also had a work question, noticed on your profile your on the ESTA
> Essential Skills board. I've been trying to dig up some information on
> Rigging, certifications, skills etc etc.

So the short answer is that there is nothing. There is a longer answer though.

Starting something like next November there should be a rigging certification. I'm working on it and that's the schedule. Its targeted at the top 1/3 of riggers, and the first cert will be for arena riggers. Hot behind that there should be one for theatrical riggers and then one for some kind of entertainment electricians (I'm not in that group so I don't know exactly what they are doing). This is all happening through the ETCP and information can be found here:

Behind that, ESTA is working on a less rigorous certificate program for essential skills - things for basically the last guy on the call. I'm not sure when this groups work will come to fruition. Its at least two years out. Info for that is here:

Then of course, you have the standbys, things like Jay and Harry's seminars. They do a certificate of attendance, but there is no test. There are other people that will do this sort of thing too, Doom and Sapsis and Delbert Hall. Kevin and I would probably do one for you if the money was right. They all have standing courses or will craft a course specifically for your venue. Some info:

There is some place in Oregon that purports to actually do a tested certification, but its more geared to construction than entertainment. I think this is them:

So it turns out that after all of that I left out some stuff. Tomcat Truss does several courses commonly referred to as "motor school" although they have started to call it "Tomcat University" because they cover more than just motors. Info for that is here:

Its a flash site, you have to look under [latest news] and then under [workshops]. Also, CM does training as well. There's a page for it on their site, but right now there's nothing on it so I guess you would have to call. Eventually information would be found here:

So there's the more than exhaustive answer to rigging training & certification - unless you want to move to Australia. There they have a license. If I've missed anything I would sure like to know, drop me a comment.

Doing something anyway

So I haven't talked about the Tsunami carnage because I don't really know what to say. My gut reaction to tragedy is to make jokes, and with over 100,000 dead it seems like the time for gallows humor hasn't really arrived yet.

Marisa and I made a Red Cross Disaster donation today. Amazon has a thing on their home page for donations. They say they've raised over $7,000,000 so far.

There was a story on CNN today talking about corporate giving. Seems like the companies that are stepping up are worth mentioning, they deserve some good word of mouth. Coke and Pepsi both have bottled water units and are shipping water to the area. Lands End is sending clothing, and Motorola is providing communications equipment. They also said that FedEx and NorthWest Airlines are providing free relief transport.

The story also mentioned that carriers sometimes allow you to donate air miles to charity. With all the people that are needing to move around to deal with this event, now might be a great time to shed some frequent flyer miles you don't think you'll be able to use. I don't know if USAir participates in this kind of thing, but with the airline threatening to liquidate before February this might be the single best use of those miles.

If you want to make a donation yourself, CNN has a page with links for several organizations all in one place:

It may not be much, but its something.

Family Portrait

The holidays at home...

I think I may be getting fat. (getting?)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Course Evaluations

Today I got my grades. I did ok, not great, but ok. Its a little difficult to tell what a good grade is because the school is shifting from an old evaluation method to a new one. Used to be on or about the last day of class you handed out a bunch of paper forms and students filled them out. Students could give numerical responses and comments, but the feeling was that most people just jammed through and put down numbers without taking time to give the comments.

There was also some thought that they weren't really a good measure of the course - that there was no way to tell if a course was good or if it was just the instructor, or the homework, or whatever - especially to distinguish between people that had to be there and that wanted to be there. I always seemed to wind up doing the FCEs in my classes on days where I was giving an exam. Somehow I think that was always to my detriment.

The new online FCEs were supposed to solve a lot of those issues. The time pressure was supposed to be released so it was thought people would write more, and demographic filters were added so that analysis could consider the responding population.

Looking at the results I think they may have succeeded in some ways, and failed in others. The demographic stuff doesn't work well for me because everyone is required to take my classes, both designers and production students and often I think that's the most useful demographic split. It doesn't look like the overall comment level went up any, which is too bad because this is the most useful part for me. Most depressing though was the response rate. In no class did more than 50% of students take the time to do the survey. At least the old way you got a more participatory sample, even if it was a cursory one.

The numbers say the same kinds of things, I give good contextual examples and most people gained factual knowledge and an appreciation of the field. I still need to work on feedback, and people still would like to see work scheduled differently. Still, based on both numbers and comments I think I am on a positive arc.

Comments? Well there was:

"Teacher is Dull. Subject is Dull. Teacher expects everyone to have a firm grasp on excel but never teaches it or mentions it at all."

but then there was:

"this is a great class, and while intense at times, participating and preparing for class was a joy."


"dave is great, a humorous, clever, but absurdly intelligent and sharp professional and teacher"

and even:

"i was truly introduced to a whole side of production i had never known about before, and it turns out i really like it"

in my head I am thinking: "It was much better than Cats, I would see it again and again." (Who gets that reference?)

All in all I think its positive, some bumps, but mostly positive. I just wish more people had responded. Have to find some way to work on that for next semester.

Geek Alert

So we're coming home from our little vacation to see my family, and we're just about to leave the airport when we see this thing and I have a total geek attack.

There were a couple of maintenance guys replacing the power transmission on one of the moving walkways. Big machines, got to love it.

Can you see the six inch transmission shaft? And the double roller chain drive sprocket? The coolest part for me is seeing the sprockets that drive the walkway pieces themselves. At the end of each walkway piece it is attached to a HUGE piece of roller chain which meshes with those two ridiculous sprockets in the picture. I'm not sure what the smaller sprockets are for, but I bet its for some kind of feedback.

Bigger parts than a theatre guy will likely ever use. But cool anyway.

What's on Your Fridge? II

Well, home for the holidays and Mom's refridgerator made me feel like a total fridge poseur:

I guess I have a lot to learn about fridge art. Unless someone asks specifically I don't think I'll go through the motions of identifying each of these items.

Interestingly, being home and thinking about this precise topic lead me to the following conclusion; in some ways, refridgerators are like year-round, secular Christmas Trees. I only say that having walked through not one but two rooms with (what in our house must be called) holiday trees all decorated before coming upon this refridgerator that so puts my own to shame.

Anyway, if I'm lucky maybe the next time I see this fridge there will be a printout of this blog in that empty space in the lower right corner.

Friday, December 24, 2004

What's on Your Fridge?

Stolen from Peg at The Palmyra Sliver, and partly to push the last entry down the page a little, we now proudly present what's on our fridge:

Front Top (Freezer):
  • a picture of Marisa and my cousin Rachel
  • a Melissa Etheridge fanclub magnet
  • an invitation to our engagement party in Bloomington last month
  • a Traci Bowering magnetic realty calendar
  • a picture of me with my cousin Rachel
  • a 2004 Ultimate Player's Association calendar magnet
  • a printout of the "Night After Critsmas" poem
  • a note with the measurements of all of our windows for curtains
  • 1 Italian and 2 Chinese takeout menus
  • a picture of Ari & Nadav Gilboa
  • a Zion National Park magnet
  • a magnetic clipboard & pen with a pad for a grocery list (empty)

Front Bottom (Refrigerator):

  • a delivery Pizza menu
  • a Chicago Scenic Studios business card magnet (with a dead address and phone number)
  • a note with Marisa's car insurance agent's phone number
  • a notice from the Vet for RoLaren
  • a letter from our mortgage holder
  • a "I no longer work at The Effects Network" business card magnet (with a dead phone number)
  • a Christmas card from Peg & Scotty and a picture of their dog Max


  • an expired Lowe's Improvement Center coupon from when we moved
  • an extra house key
  • several expired Domino's coupons
  • a couple of good Pizza Hut coupons
  • a recipe for Italian Seafood Stew
  • a recipe for Indian cauliflower
  • a Carnegie Mellon University business card magnet

and that's what's on our fridge. Goodnight.

Politics, Religion, & The Founding Fathers

So this site's greatest critic, my Dad, had another editorial comment for me. As you may or may not know, the address of the blog was changed very early on because my Dad didn't like ""

This last missive was to lay off of Jesus. I guess between the action figure and the painting I got a little far afield. So I just want to state that it isn't the intention of this site to belittle any religion (or maybe more like it could be the intention of this site to equally belittle all religions).

He also felt that perhaps the commentary being made through my founding fathers pictures wasn't hitting the mark. A comment on an earlier post directed me to seek out Robert the Monk's account of Urban II's speech at Clermont late in the 11th century. So I did.

This is a speech where the Pope directs his followers to mount the First Crusade:

"Go, brothers, go with hope to the fight against the enemies of God, who for so long have dominated Syria, Armenia and the countries of Asia Minor. They have already committed many outrages: they have taken the Sepulcher of Christ and the marvelous monuments of our Faith; they have forbidden pilgrims to set foot in a city whose worth only Christians can truly appreciate. Are these facts not sufficient to upset the serenity of your faces?"

Thanks to:

I guess I am supposed to cross this with George W. Bush. That would look something like this:

I'm not sure the artwork here is really recognizable enough to make the point. W rallying his followers to go and fight for the Holy Land. Still, it does express the idea, and fairly well.

I guess my stumbling block here is that I think that this particular approach would not be desirable to the right wingers, nor humorous to the left wingers that I thought would be a market for the first set of images I proposed. In the end I think that perhaps the upshot of that thought is that the first set of images really ought not be desirable, or comical, and that they are is a more cutting statement about the times we live in that the images themselves.

Looking at the two images. Knowing the figures and the context of each, I think that actually this image is much more disturbing, and could be offensive in a way that the Washington/Jesus image just isn't. I think that could be attributable to the stature of the constituents. This image uses what are to us true people, where the previous image uses figures that although exist in history are also in some ways superheros - icons, and there seems to be a little more latitude in satirizing icons than real people.

So much for that.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Turnabout is Fair Play

Methinks that perhaps this will be the end of the Crits thread. I think that besides not electing Bush, this may be the most posted topic.

Since I posted everyone's boards I thought maybe I would post what I have of mine. I looked through the photos I have and came up with three that are representational. I know everyone I ask insists that we critted twice a year back in the day, but I can only find one set of pictures for each year, and each photo has work from the fall and the spring. This is what leads me to believe that we only critted once a year. I suppose I just didn't photograph half the crits I did, or that I've lost the photos - I really don't know.

So here's what I found...

Freshman Year:

So you got projects here from Basic Design, Drafting, Lighting 1, and Tech Production 1. I think one or two of these projects still makes an appearance in current semester reviews. The only thing I can see that looks like it is missing is the toy project, which I guess may have been broken already.

You know, now that I look at it I suppose it is possible that this is one semester. I am sure I would have had the fire hydrant out, and I don't see the toy or Cletus' event project, as well as a drawing to music I know we did. Of course a few of those projects sucked...

Sophomore Year:

Here's one from Sophomore year. Stage Design, Lighting 2, Tech Production 2, Welding, and a class called "Art & the Computer." If you look closely on the left you can see an IBM PC/XT used for that class. There are also drawings and photos from the first show I TD'd in this round. This must be a fall only as well as I had nothing to show from the second semester of Stage Design, and I would have been taking AutoCAD and I don't see anything from that class either.

The highlight of this board has got to be the costume renderings for "No Exit" and "Volpone." An artform I never attempted again.

Third Year:

I have to call this "Third Year" because I think it would have been my Junior year had I not spent a year in the Physics department prior to coming to Drama. Turned out that the one year in MCS was enough units to fill in for all the electives I would have taken in four years. So while this was my third year in the department, it was also my fourth and final year at the school.

The only class here I can identify for sure is Lighting 3. I believe that's a plot for "Cabaret" in the Kresge. The binder there would be from Dick's Arch & Decor class.

Know what, I'm wrong, this is the spring following the last photo. That would explain the welding final on the table and the Greg Bell class I can't identify. The lighting projects in Lighting 3 were in the Benedum and I don't see any of those. The musical must have been the second semester of Lighting 2 (Lighting 3 was opera, ballet, rock & roll, and industrial - none of those here).

Hmm. Guess I have some pictures to find.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

'Twas the Night After Critsmas

'Twas the night after Critsmas, and all through Purnell
Not a creature was stirring and that's just as well.
The presentations were over after what seemed like weeks,
The years' conferences concluded, just a few tears on cheeks.

As always it started with the end of the classes,
The teachers running figures to see just who passes;
Then teachers meet, all together - no factions,
To discuss student progress and agree on the actions.

Thanks to DR, Norm, Ben and delinquent GA's
Students could hang up their work, sure to amaze.
Thanks to Todd and his grads we'd all be able to see
They'd lit up the Wells like a holiday tree.

In the dead of the night the students would creep,
To set up their boards all composed and so neat.
They'd mined through their closets and piles on desks,
To find the work that portrayed them the best.

And then in the morning arriving cold and some haggard,
David & Anne confirmed that their group had all gathered.
From homes and from offices slowly they came,
The heads stood in the hall and called them by name:

"Now, Cindy! Now, Dick! Now, Michael and Susan!
On, Barbara! On Kevin! On Tina and Holcomb!
We have speeches to hear, downstairs in the Wells
Let's go hear what they say, and see if it sells!"

First Seniors and Juniors, then 3rd years and Sophmores
Recounted their fall and questioned their crew scores;
And when they had finished or been drowned out with noise,
Their teachers would comment with insight and poise

At the end of each day when they could no longer think,
The teachers would gather for a much needed drink.
Thank God for the weekend, all patience run thin,
To our homes to recoup and a great Steelers win!

Then came 2nd Years and Freshmen and the 1st years at last,
After four days of reviews we'd heard the whole cast.
Some laughter, some tears, some stress and some fun;
Secret back room meetings, and then it was done.

And then from the PM's office there came such a clatter,
All of the faculty ran to see what was the matter;
"What were you people thinking, the entire headgrid's a mess
We'll need another meeting, I'll bring a list to address."

And so one more time the whole group got together,
Hoping quickly to fix the havoc they'd rendered;
With all but one hole plugged, the group starts to tire;
"Here's what we'll do, we'll use overhire!"

Then like the students, the teachers do flee
To their homes and their families and to holiday glee.
Back in their offices with a pain in their heads,
Anne and David write letters and then retire to beds.

By now the students are home with family and friends,
Rightfully ignoring how the semester did end;
Come next month we'll all be back in the thick,
Now is the time to recharge and but quick!

With the whole process over the panels are struck,
DRs crew takes them down and packs up the truck.
I heard him exclaim as he drove out of site,
"Merry Critsmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Monday, December 20, 2004

Crits - Day 3

Day three crits, 2nd Year Grads and the 1st Year Undergrads (read: "Freshmen").

Morning session, Thesis bound 2nd Years:

Ms. Nickerson

- took the class that shant be named
- didn't think much of the class than shant be named :-)
- looking forward to budgeting Candide AGAIN

Morning session shoe winner:

Nope, nothing stand out. Bummer

Afternoon session, first Freshman crit:

And here they are...

Not time to single anyone out yet...

... or anyone's shoes for that matter:

Conrgats to all for a good semester and a great crit.

Some Notes About Crits

So, over there on the tag board, Blake asked "Whats a crit?" Here's what I tell students:

Some Notes About Semester Reviews (i.e. "Crits")

From time to time students come to me with questions about what crits is supposed to be and why the process is useful. I thought it might be appropriate at this point to address a few of those issues. The following is just one person’s opinion, someone who has been on both sides of the process.

Occasionally, the idea gets out there that your crit is supposed to be the primary faculty feedback for the whole semester. Everyone needs to remember that primary feedback should be handled one on one between instructors and students. If you believe you are not getting the access you need to faculty you should make an appointment with the instructor. If you fail to get what you need from that you should pursue a more formal process starting with your advisor. Although some class feedback does happen at crits, this really is not what they’re about.

Lacking a better analogy, a semester crit is like a "State of the Union" for your education. Twice a year we take time out for each student to present their work to the entire community; faculty, staff and students. It is an opportunity for everyone involved to see what you are doing and hear how you feel about the process.

Some of the things appropriate to present include the classes you took, examples of successful (and perhaps unsuccessful) work from those classes. It really isn’t necessary to present every project from any class. We’d also like to hear how you felt about your work in the class; if you thought you applied yourself and if you’ve improved as a professional. This is also an appropriate time to comment on if you believe a class is consistent or inconsistent with your educational goals and to suggest changes to classes or curriculum that might make them more focused. You should also let us know what classes you have coming up that you are excited about and/or dreading and why.

You should discuss each of your production assignments and show examples of the work you did in those assignments. Calendars, memos & schedules are absolutely as valid a display as draftings, renderings & models; it isn’t a competition, everyone has a rough idea of what to expect to see – and if we’re lucky we’ll see something unexpected. You should let us know how you though the production process went, what worked well and what didn’t, what you conquered and what still might have you befuddled, and again if you thought you grew as a professional as a result of the process. This is an excellent time to let everyone know what you think would be good assignments for you for the next semester.

It is also appropriate to briefly mention things that are happening to you away from this building. If you have involvement with any campus organizations, outside work, or interesting family goings-on they are well worth bringing up. We definitely would like to hear what your plans are for the summer – or what you did the previous summer.

You should also take some time to evaluate your position in general. Is the aggregate experience you are having at CMU consistent with your current goals? What are those goals and what are you doing to move toward them?

Your presentation and demeanor should show respect for the process, the other presenters and to all the people there to listen. Dress should be consistent to what you would wear to a job interview. You should spend some time deciding what work to present and go over what you are going to say in advance. There certainly is room for "non-standard" presentations and even humor in this process, but if you elect to go that way you need to be sure that you still cover all the bases and that you combine that levity with a demonstrated respect for the process. Also, this is an individual event. Everyone should prepare his or her own, separate presentation.

This process has value, in and of itself, as a project. In the professional world you will often have to do presentations. In interviews, project presentations, commercial pitch sessions and many other situations the same skills you will be honing at crits will serve you well.

Crits is a very important component of our program. Mostly it lets everyone get on the same page about what you are doing. It helps to establish a presence for you with faculty that may not have you in class and with other students with whom you may not normally interact. This goes a long way toward helping your work and process being respected on production projects. It also lets your instructor from one class see the work you’ve been doing concurrently in other classes, perhaps helping to properly frame their evaluation of the work you did for them in the context of your overall load or demonstrated focus. This is an opportunity for everyone to hear your goals and the tools you believe you need to get to them; and your take (right or less right) on where you stand in that process.

Many of the decisions that affect you both individually and as a group, from academic actions to curricular changes, are made by the Design and PTM faculty as a whole. This is your best chance to have your interests, goals and concerns heard by that entire group. This opportunity is really unprecedented in the community of other schools and departments. It really is to your advantage to make good use of it.

The document needs a little work, but it still tells most of the story (except for the part about the shoes).

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Crits - Day 1

Photos from Day 1 are in.

The Seniors are conspicuous in their absence from the pictures. I guess they think their work speaks for itself.

Morning session, soon to be job seeking Seniors:

Ms. Kinch

- working on consistency
- really liked PIFOF
- enjoyed glass blowing

Ms. Kelsey

- wound up with some good show drafting
- really hoping she is done
Katy is looking for work NOW!

Ms. Wells

- had the semester of many binders
- good TV course semester
- Malfi outshined everything else

Ms. Gable

- experienced the wonders of the warehouse
- her classes were dissappointing
- liked working with other people

and the morning session shoe winner:

Kathleen Dobbins - Congrats.

Afternoon Session, intrepid Juniors:

Ms. Ikeda

- Yay, sleep, woohoo!
- Less design more PTM this semester
- those darn electives

Ms. Buckser

- complained about sound a lot
- sometimes thought she was wrong
- discovered she is high strung

Mr. Groeneveld

- started SO excited
- tech direction to spreadsheety
- Sound Design has the evil "D" word

Mr. Davis

- liked doing projects twice
- had the semester of excel
- posted this blog on his board

late session shoe winner:

Ms. Ikeda
But nobody took a picture. :-(

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Crits - Day 2

I thought maybe I would present some of the sights and sounds of the fall crits here. I apologize for the picture sizes, but I have suddenly become concerned with the storage space and long term archiving - have to figure that out. I would have a Day 1 entry, except that the students that took pictures for me have yet to send them.

Morning session, soon to be job-seeking 3rd year grads...

Ms. Baillie:

- likes playing with Legos
- discovered that sometimes the theatre elves don't show
- is taking her thesis to the beach

Mr. Hales

- never takes a break
- LOVES outreach
- thought his assistants were too good

Ms. Broughton

- should have registered for mononeucleosis
- took the class that shant be named
- loved taking structures

Ms. Santamassino

- "be careful what you wish for"
- "what he said"
- designers say "bla bla bluh bluh"
- thinks Kevin is dreamy

Morning session shoe winner:


Afternoon session, newly declared PTM students...

Ms. Culver

- classes appealed to her inner PTM
- felt awash in a sea of knowledge

Ms. Stone

- learned a lot
- missed a lot

Mr. Schwartz

- wants to take everything
- gagged on the idea block
- PTM/TD - and PM (with a little SM)

Ms. Lipson

- sick of Excel

Mr. Jentzen

- "I'm having so much fun"
- Chose to sleep

Mr. Harris

- experienced a battle of quality vs. quantity
- tap-a-holic

Ms. Burford

- not into the whys
- neurotic about cleanliness

Ms. Fellin

- Excel is her best friend
- scared to death of both of David's classes

Mr. Grathwohl

- gets down to the nitty-gritty
- courting Mr. Chemers

Mr. Torska

- "I know I learned a lot"

Ms. Alejandro

- likes having a formula

Afternoon session shoe winner:

Ms. Culver - Congratulations!

Friday, December 17, 2004

The New Book Idea

I was struck the other day for an idea for a book. This was not something about theatre and therefore about career advancement but rather just about making money.

Marisa was telling me a story she had read or heard on NPR about a school teacher in California who was suing his district over the content of his syllabus. Apparently under the guise of a US History course this instructor was teaching a class about the importance of Jesus in American government. I'm foggy on the details. The course used George Washington's personal prayer journal as a source document as well as a George W. Bush speech.

I was struck by the curious combination lately in the public conscious tying together our current president, our founding fathers, and Jesus.

Suddenly I had an idea for a book. Since its for contemporary mass consumption it is of course a picture book. Here's the idea, I take iconic American images and then insert Jesus. For example:

You know, connecting our patriotic roots with today's evangelical Christian faith. There are many possibilities: the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence... There should be no end of opportunities for images - all of which are in the public domain. I think the title of the book would be "Our Faith is Our Strength." I especially like this one with Jesus sort of Steering the Ship of State. I think that would be the title of this image.

So, I have to explain that part of me thinks this is a little sick. Its just not the part that thinks it will make a lot of money. I believe that the sickness is a marketing tool as well. On the one hand you'll have the people that will buy the thing as a serious testimony to our nation and their faith. On the other hand you'll have a whole population of sarcastic people like me that will buy it for the humor value. I swear it will make a mint.

Anyone out there better with photoshop than I am want to help?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Fun With Luggage

So the other day I got into a conversation with one of my upperclassmen about the evaluations she was supposed to be doing of her crew members. Apparently she had an assortment of less than useful people. This lead to what for her was probably a less than useful explanation of the varying degrees of useless crew members and what you might call them (in any context other than say - a crew evaluation, or god forbid to their face).

On the more useful end of the spectrum you have your "Jeds." Jed is someone that can be depended on to hold something still in a particular position with some precision. In this way this person is like a clamp, and that's the source of the name. Or rather the Beverly Hillbillies venerable father figure: Jed Clampett. You'll also often here people in a shop refer to a clamp as a Jed Clampett, but I am partial to using the designation for crew members.

Someplace just a little less useful than a Jed is a Jack. There's a piece of standard scenery referred to as a stage jack. Its used to hold up flats (or walls). A Jack on your crew can be told where to stand and to keep something from falling over. One day, when I am boss of my own little outfit, and when I have a CNC router table I am going to make stage jacks from 3/4 ply cut in the shape of people with one arm up and the other on their hip. I think I would enjoy having them around - at least they would be quieter than actual Jacks.

Next on the food chain, below the Jeds and the Jacks you find Sam. Someone called Sam really can't be counted on to do anything. Sam in this case is short for Samsonite - because as far as usefulness to your crew, this person is luggage. You are going to have to carry them.

A slightly different classification of personnel is the dramaturg. At the other school we had a pigiron we used to hold doors open labeled "simulated dramaturg." Enough said.

Anyway, I'm not sure it helped too much with the task at hand, but it was probably a little educational. Some days that's all you can hope for.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

All David Class Honor Roll

So maybe this isn't totally without their notice, but with over 300 hits in three days someone is bound to see it. The fall '04 David's class honor roll is:

Rustin Davis
Dominique Burford
Sylvia Fellin
Taylor Harris (with a ridiculous 98%)
Jennifer Henn
Adam Koch
Ian Schwartz

Congrats to all of you, great work.

Monday, December 13, 2004


The \\
Last Cigarette:Had to have been a Marlboro light - ages ago, I don't really smoke, its a long story
Last Alcoholic Drink:I had a beer two days ago
Last Car Ride:Home from work
Last Kiss:My fiance, this morning
Last Good Cry:In the car listening to MLE's "Tuesday Morning"
Last Library Book:I checked out something for class, I can't remember
Last book bought:Doctor Who - Superior Beings
Last Book Read:Star Wars - Survivors Quest
Last Movie Seen in Theatres:Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Last Movie Rented:Lost in Translation - On Demand - Woohoo
Last Cuss Word Uttered:Shit
Last Beverage Drank:Cherry Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper
Last Food Consumed:Chicken Soup
Last Crush:I don't drink Crush
Last Phone Call:Office Voicemail to delete messages from September
Last TV Show Watched:West Wing
Last Time Showered:This morning, ok afternoon, before work
Last Shoes Worn:those same Nikes that look like bowling shoes
Last CD Played:whats a CD - iPod BABY - 412/3467 Children of the Moon - Alan Parsons Project
Last Item Bought:Cheeseburger combo to go at the O
Last Download:San's two late homework assignments
Last Annoyance:Work turned in under my door
Last Disappointment:That I was not featured in this year's holiday roast
Last Soda Drank:Cherry Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper
Last Thing Written:There are no bad Ideas - Ellipses - http:\\
Last Key Used:Car key
Last Words Spoken:No, lets not do that
Last Sleep:um, last night
Last Ice Cream Eaten:Giant Eagle Strawberry
Last Chair Sat In:Office chair in front of this computer
Last Webpage Visited:



There is a cat sitting on my list so I can not see it... We have now moved the cat... I had a lovely conversation today about different names for mostly useless crew people: Jack, Jed, Sam & Dramaturgs... I have a book idea that I think now I am not going to use about American imagery from the founding of our country with images of Jesus edited in... Does anyone know how you are supposed to shovel a gravel driveway and not in the process dig up your driveway??? I escaped another end of semester holiday roast unscathed, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing... The fall '04 all David's classes honor roll is just about ready for publication... The next ten days or so contains our semester reviews, I have to go buy tequila... Its nice when you give people a chance to improve things for themselves and they take it... In the last week I have watched somewhat depressing documentaries about the space shuttle and the Concorde, have you noticed that in some ways technology is actually going backward??? It is clear to me that in the planning of any home renovation task that the most difficult thing is to find "the line" where the renovation will be stopping... It turns out that flying cats are often sharp... Why is it that registering for gifts is such an ordeal??? I bought a new printer for my office and already I believe my quality of life has improved, its the little things... Only one episode of "The Wire" left for this season, that's really too bad... Your own wedding turns out to be several orders of magnitude more difficult to plan than any other event you can conceive of... Why is it that students will pin work to my door, tuck it in the door handle, slide it under the door, or send it by email rather than just put it in my mailbox, especially when I tell them that I want it in the mailbox??? iPods are cool... A former student of mine is trying to revolutionize the freelance theatre world, jury is still out, it may just be theatre friendster, check out Trinity appears to have another nameless ailment, this time under her chin (do cats have chins?), I wish I knew more about cats... The more people in your family, the harder it is to plan the holidays... Just when does blog reading become blog stalking??? I love my dots... The book has not grown in over a week now, I believe that constitutes a genuine loss of momentum... Don't even get me started on the other book...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Delicate question

So I have this idea for a book. Its not a theatre book, more like a book to take advantage of the current social/political climate. Anyway, it led me to this question. Do you think that people would be offended by a picture of Jesus holding a gun?

Now I have to tell you that this was really only a sideline to the idea I had, but for kicks I did a clusty image search and it turns out that there are few of these images kicking around already - even if you do filter out the Charlton Heston photos. I guess its clear that both Jesus and guns have played a significant role in that man's life.

One of the pictures was apparently an album cover for the group "fuel." And one was not really a picture at all, but an action figure:

I have to tell you, I wasn't expecting: "includes Ninja-Messiah throwing nails, Death Killer-Cross pump action over-under shotgun." You have to go to the site to see that. Should you choose to do so, they are here:

and you will be happy to see they are equal opportunity offenders. On their FAQ page you can see this:

"- But... but it's blasphemous isn't it?
- Silly rabbit, tricks is for kids. "

Anyway, just goes to show you what happens when you turn idle hands free on the internet.

Wither the American Play?

This will be a long post for me, but the article really does seem worth reading. I'm on a mailing list that winnows theatre news and sends it out daily. This came today:

December 12, 2004
The Broadway Play Is Getting the Hook. So What?

AS the fall Broadway season comes to an end this week - with the opening
of a 229-year-old comedy, "The Rivals," on Thursday - it is a good time to
consider all the new, culturally significant American drama produced there
this year.

Anyone? Don't hold back. Just shout out a title. Any title will do.

If nothing jumped to mind, you shouldn't think you're a philistine. The
original American Broadway play has long been consigned to second-class
status in an industry dominated by musicals, but this fall it reached a
low-water mark. Other than one-person shows, only one new American play -
comedy or drama - made it to the stage, August Wilson's "Gem of the
Ocean," which opened Monday. And the producers and Mr. Wilson, the
nation's premier African-American playwright, had to beg, plead and call
in a favor ($1 million worth) from a wealthy producer in San Francisco.

The trials of Mr. Wilson caused more than a little wringing of hands along
the Great White Way. But it caused barely a ripple of worry elsewhere. And
why should it? New Broadway plays - burdened by high costs and expanding
competition from other forms of entertainment - barely register on the
national cultural radar. So exactly what is being lost is unclear.

The vast majority of Americans have never seen a play on Broadway.
"Proof," a father-daughter drama that ran for more than two years before
closing in early 2003, had a total audience of about 650,000. Last week,
"The O.C.," a teen drama on the Fox network, was seen by 10 times that

But more than numbers, which naturally favor TV and film, what's striking
is the recent inability of the Broadway drama to stir the passions of
anyone except the most dedicated theatergoers. TV, films, books and music
all create waves of discussion about the way we live or run our
government, as well as whether Carrie Bradshaw should stick with Mr. Big
or drop the bum.

Mention "The Passion of the Christ," or Eminem or "The Apprentice" or
Richard Clarke, the former White House adviser, at a cocktail party and
you'll have a conversation on anti-Semitism, earthy lyrics, office
politics and terrorism. Mention "Match" or "Sixteen Wounded" or "Prymate"
and you'll likely be met with a silence to make Beckett proud. (Hint: They
were all new American plays produced on Broadway last season.)

" 'The Sopranos' does for people now what 'Death of a Salesman' did for
people in 1948," said Laurence Maslon, co-author of the PBS documentary
and book "Broadway: The American Musical." Pressed to name a play that
really got people talking, he reached back a decade to "Angels in
America," Tony Kushner's two-part epic, which dramatized the AIDS crisis
and stirred commentary from the "Today" show to Vanity Fair.

But "Angels" is probably better known now that HBO turned it into an
Emmy-winner this year. Indeed, the "Angels" experience might illustrate
how theatrical ideas only bubble into the culture at large via film or TV,
two industries that have been snapping up the best young American
playwrights for many decades. John Guare's play "Six Degrees of
Separation," from 1990, might jog a few memories if only because of its
clever title and conceit (and that addictive "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"
game, which became popular on the Internet).

When Americans pay attention to Broadway, it is usually a celebrity
one-man show (like Billy Crystal's current "700 Sundays") or a musical.
"Rent," the singular sensation of 1996, landed on the cover of Time, and
the 2001 hit "The Producers" even cracked "60 Minutes."

An argument could be made that Broadway plays have a subtler effect, an
influence that far outlasts their time on stage. Would Tony Soprano's
midlife crisis exist, for example, if Willy Loman hadn't suffered one
himself a half-century earlier? Would Larry David's Jewish guilt be as
funny if Neil Simon hadn't cornered the market for such comedy in the
1960's? Does "Queer as Folk" owe Tennessee Williams royalties?

Playwrights can also have a more immediate effect: no fewer than five East
Coast playwrights are writers on "Law and Order: Criminal Intent." No one
knows the impact of today's plays on a mesmerized youngster who might be
the next great screenwriter.

Still, when a play does tap into a hot issue these days, it tends not to
happen on Broadway. In the last year, Off Broadway plays have dealt with
the treatment of war prisoners ("Guantánamo: 'Honor Bound to Defend
Freedom' ") and the war on terror ("The God of Hell," Sam Shepard's latest
play). But on a good night, these plays might reach an audience of 400, at
best. Neither will make it to Broadway, though another Off Broadway
production, "Doubt, a Parable," about the pedophilia scandal in the
Catholic Church, will transfer uptown this spring.

All of which must tickle the British, who have a thirst for putting on
big, meaningful plays on their top stages, including "Stuff Happens,"
David Hare's dissection of the war in Iraq, and "Democracy," Michael
Frayn's study of politics, human and governmental, which has been
transferred to Broadway. Not surprisingly, each year more of the plays
that do make a splash on Broadway are the ones that come from London.

On this side of the Atlantic, it has been left not only to Off Broadway to
pick up the intellectual slack but to the regional theaters, which are
exposing audiences to probing, smart work like "Spinning Into Butter,"
Rebecca Gilman's 1999 drama about racism, which started in Chicago.
Another important source is the Humana Festival of New American Plays in
Louisville. "They've really been establishing themselves in their own
communities without relying on a connection to New York," said Robert
Brustein, founding director of the American Repertory Theater in
Cambridge, Mass.

That said, for many playwrights and stage actors, Broadway remains the
ultimate goal, even if having your name in lights on 42nd Street doesn't
mean that you'll be talked about around a water cooler in Akron.

"I suppose TV and a movie can get there, but when a play is working, that
communion is different," said Warren Leight, a Broadway playwright ("Side
Man") and a "Law and Order" producer. "An audience moved by a play is
moved in a different way. It lingers longer."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Return of the Hitmap

The folks that run the hitmap application have finished their upgrade. I pasted in some new code today and, presto-change-oh, there's a new map. The entries that were there before are gone, but I guess that's ok. I couldn't really fathom who that person in the center of the Australian Outback could be.

I have to admit it, I really like seeing the little dots around the country for people I know are following the page. Its very cool. I think Deano finally got his dot, and I think I see one for my dad, and for Peg, and maybe Blake. Its a nice kind of passive feedback.

There also appears to be someone in Alabama, and maybe someone in Libson. Does that make me an author with a world wide circulation?

So check out the map and see if you can guess the dots are. If you click on it you get a larger image, and you can zoom in on particular continents as well. Have fun, I know I am.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Vocational Greeting Cards

Today, we got this lovely card from my mom. I believe that it was intended more for Marisa than for me. What do you think:

(much thanks to Hallmark)

I've been trying to think of other cards that could be done this way, for instance if they could do a barber/xmas card around "trimming the tree" or maybe a boxing/xmas card around "deck the halls." That might go over better in Britain where they also have Boxing day.

Perhaps a porno card around "oh come all ye faithful?"

Right, a perfectly nice gesture ruined. That's quite enough of that.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Mind... a terrible thing to waste.

It often amazes me the things that are locked up in my head. I thought I would share. And when I talk about stupid things I remember I'm not talking about the names of all the Klingons, or the phone numbers for my last three apartments, or the names of my ex-girlfriend's sisters. Most of those things I don't remember anyway - if I ever knew them at all. I mean really stupid things.

And no, lyrics to old songs don't count, nor do hours and hours of standup comedy. Also, nothing one ever really had to learn for a class, no matter how useless now can qualify as truly a waste.

Here, here is an example of a real waste of brainpower. For the rest of my life I will never forget the phone number for the Empire Carpet Company in Chicago: 588-2300. That is a real waste, is something I never needed and almost certainly never will. Right along side of that is the phone number for 1st Metropolitan Builders: HU(dson)3-2700. These are forever encoded in memory engrams thanks to local TV advertising on channel 9 in Chicago while I was growing up.

Now that's stupid. How about this? Can anyone guess what this is:

< < < < ^ ^ > > ^ Shoot

That is the key sequence that works to score a basket off of any change of possession on a Mattel Electronic Basketball game.

I remember the fingering to the 1st trumpet part to "The Blue Rock," which was the first song I remember playing that I liked in the intermediate band when I was in 5th grade.

Often I wonder about how much memory is clogged up with meaningless prattle like the next line in a Seinfeld episode. Being able to guess which Stargate episode I'm watching within the first 4 seconds often seems like a wasted resource. But at least I am somewhat likely to call on that information sometime in the future. How likely am I to be going to call Empire?

Do you think that stuff is just there forever? Does it take up space from other things? Make the recall of other information more difficult, like every time I am trying to come up with a number I need, do I have to search by HU3-2700? Do you think memories like that are displaced as other more pertinent things are encoded? Is there a business to be run deleting and de-fragging people's minds the same way one would do a hard drive? I wonder.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ok, a Rigger Isn't a Rigger Isn't a Rigger

Or more accurately, it looks like a rigger isn't always a rigger, or at least there are apples and oranges - not apples and apples. At least it isn't apples and bowling balls like people have been making it sound for so long.

After many many months, ok years, of meetings and cajoling it looks like I have failed in my quest to bring arena and theatrical rigging under one banner. At the end of the latest round of meetings we were still in two camps. With the necessary vagaries again, it seems like something close to 5/6 of the material turns out to be the same, even more so if you only look in one direction. But the remaining 1/6th of the material turns out to be unique enough that it did not appear viable to require it of the group that would rarely use it. Its not really that simple. What each group does with their outline will also be distinct. But what with the overlap and the demographics it did seem at least for a second that there was a chance. But alas no.

I can't tell if I am disappointed or not. My biggest fear all along if the scopes weren't merged was that the theatre people would not get a certification for their riggers. That's not going to happen. There will be a theatrical rigging certification. So even though there will be two certifications rather than the one I was pushing, I do think that I have been successful in driving the theatrical certification along side the arena credential. And that success is really the thing that was most important. The other was just nice for reasons like unity, simplicity, and style.

Everything on the theatre side looks good. I assume the same is true on the arena side, but I wasn't working with them this go around. We're on track to launch next year with at least two more sets of meetings along the way. Its kind of exciting. Next step for us is to start writing questions. While we're doing that the ECTP council is preparing application requirements. Really, when I wrote my thesis I never expected to see this happen. Its pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


So I'm out of town, checking my email on my phone, and I see "YOU MUST CONTACT SALLIE MAE IMMEDIATELY REGARDING YOUR LOAN" and I think - crap.

So I find a computer I can use, blow open the link, and spend like 45 minutes sorting out usernames and passwords - because all that info is at home. Eventually I get through the red tape and discover that the machine is telling me I haven't made my December payment. This is real distressing as I pay by a direct debit from a bank account, so if I haven't made the payment its because there is suddenly no money in the account.

At this point I swallow hard and figure that I'd lost track of something and that account is not what I remember. I click on the "make one time electronic payment" find the payment account and authorize the transfer.

And here's where it gets weird. It won't let me make the payment.

It seems that interest is calculated from the due date, but direct debit payments are made early in the cycle. Normally this doesn't matter, except that in this one case the 10-day payoff amount was less than my automatic payment amount. This kept generating an error essentially saying "you can't pay your regular $2 payment, you only owe $1."

So, I found the payoff amount and made the payment. I wish all accounting problems ended so well.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pages Pages Pages

I think maybe its getting out of control. I have this page here, but now to comment in other peoples' pages I have had to make a page here:

and a page here:

I wonder if there is a way to get the site feed form this page to automatically update those pages? Right now both of those pages sort of just say "hey go look at David's Blogger page!" Then, the other day I made a page here:

which you may not be able to see; and that page, along with listing this page also lists:


Then of course, these days there's that page at:

which auto links to another page (pretty high tech I think).
Blogger keeps another page for me here:

and here:

Sara has been after me forever to join Friendster. That would be another page. I used to have a personal page at, but I deleted it, as well as ones on HometownAOL, JDate and Thats alot of pages. Come to think of it I must be forgetting some. I have a page I apparently can't post a link to (you have to pay to get to see them) and I think that's crossposted on another resume engine - at least I keep getting spam from some other one.

Oh yeah, there's also:

where the images for this page live, and:

which is apparently where the tagboard lives, and then also:

where I drop things for people at school. Can't forget those. They're the thingamabobs that do the job.

Pages pages pages. It seemed like the world ran just fine without them.

Keep your head up

I've been hearing on Air America some of the details of the Bush nominees to replace the officials who have been resigning. In most cases its about how truthfully dreadful they are, and how it won't matter because the confirmation process in the congress won't make a bit of difference. So, on the whole, bitter and cynical radio - just like me.

Peg cross-posted an article from New York Newsday in her blog the other day. I am cross-cross-posting it (double-cross posting? re-cross-posting?) You should read it:

Its a sort of home town introduction to the gentleman President W has set up to be our new Director of Homeland Security. I also have to say that Peg is not the only one I have heard complain about the title for that office. And to all the complainers, I concur. In fact, I believe that when written it should always have to be huge and bold, and it would help if we all heard menacing music in our heads too. How long can it be until the folks in that office decide it is easier to refer to the Secret Service as the "SS"?

Anyway, I am uncertain there's much anyone can do about it. I'm never one to rave "Write your congressman!!!" But I think it can't hurt to know these people's pedigree, if only to be less surprised when they continue to do everything they've been doing all along. So keep you head up.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Rigger's a Rigger's a Rigger

Could it be? But I thought Rocky says that's not rigging. I was all ready to use that for a title for a stage rigging book: "Rocky Says That's Not Rigging." Hmm.

I have for a few years now been involved with a group of industry professionals trying to formulate a certification for entertainment riggers. The group is dominated by truss & motor riggers, people who have been grouped for parlance under the heading "Arena Riggers" even though they work predominantly in convention halls. The rest of us have been lumped under "Theatrical Riggers" although the arena guys keep trying to split us into "installers" and "show crew."

One of my missions in this group has been to try to make sure that when the dust settles we don't wind up with a cert that covers the arena guys and nothing to cover the theatre guys. It's been a tough road. The people opposing the idea say that "flymen" don't need a cert, and that the install of these items is "carpenter's work", and that there isn't really anyone working like that (at least not a population significant enough to drive a certification program), and that we really don't work with that much weight - so how dangerous can it be?

I've been trying to explain that theatre guys are also responsible for the volume of work done by arena riggers. That in some ways, even arena type point ever set is just a "dead pick" in my world, and that the arena guys would only have to pick up a very little bit of information to learn the theatre end.

Suffice it to say that most of the arena guys disagree.

Today I opened an attachment I got last week from the consulting agency working with us to come up with the actual certification. This is actually the third survey I have participated in. The first two were about "do you think a certification would be a good idea?" This one was about individual job tasks and whether they were part of what you do as a rigger. It also had a slew of demographic questions: what you do, where you work, how long you've been working. What did it say? Basically it says to many people a rigger is a rigger is a rigger.

(there's a NDA in play here, so I don't want to be too specific)

Could it be? Was I right all along? I wonder if that be enough to switch the program to a single certification rather than two. Somehow I think it is still to low an agreement, but its certainly enough to argue - and I do love to argue. Suddenly this meeting I wasn't looking forward to next week is looking more interesting.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Computer applications

I'm asking this all over the place, so I thought I would put it here too.

As part of a large scale review of our curriculum at the drama school we are taking a look at the computer applications that we have, either just available, taught in a class, or having a class all to themselves.

If you're working in my field and you have opinions on what programs and procedures people ought to be familiar with I would love to have them.

Thanks much.

For Peg

A Frankenkitty update..

So, people who have followed this little site for a while know that some time back we discovered that my oldest cat, Trinity, had some kind of aggressive cancerous tumor on her hip - and that the vet basically wanted to cut off everything behind her shoulder. We had the surgery, and as of the last post Trinity was a real unhappy cat with a bald spot on her butt and a mesh t-shirt to cover up her kitty-morphine patch.

We went through a long depressed phase, which I think just ended a few days ago. The fur has grown back both on the surgery site and where the pharmaceutical patch was. She's regained her personality a little. She never really lost any mobility, so she's getting around ok. She's not really that old a cat, 6 years. Sometimes it seems like she behaves a lot older than that. Maybe living with me causes people to grow old more quickly. We'll have to keep an eye on Marisa.

So, for the time being all the news there is good. The trouble is that the prognosis after the surgery is that it is virtually a 90%+ chance that the condition will recur and then we will have the same decisions, medical, money, and quality of life to make all over again. So, the next recovery for us will be for me to stop thinking I feel a lump every time I pick her up. Just a day or two ago I started to feel something suspicious in the same region as the original tumor. Just have to hope whatever it is its normal.

We'll see.

Lazy post

I haven't posted a quiz yet. Seems like as good a time as any, and this one came out kinda funny for me. How about you?

You scored as Buddhist.













created with

Probably this says more about people who read blogs and take quizzes more than about people. It also seems that there are quite a few possible answers missing. Anyway, I find that being mostly buddist is interesting to me.