Tuesday, November 30, 2004

See You Next Tuesday

So recently the School of Drama has been doing a lot to try to increase our marketing effort. These days that mostly centers on development of our web page. One of the big steps on the page has been an effort to have photos of recent shows. The feeling was that much of our marketing imagery was getting dated.

The people working on the page have done quite a bit of work and have made great strides. The home page is now a Flash file with some animation and the much sought after recent photos. Here is the photo they chose from last year's production of "Serious Money":

I wonder if that is having precisely the impact we were hoping to get out of new photos? I am conflicted.

Last year we got a message from the university that we should remove a photo from "Wild Party" which featured showgirls in customary showgirl attire because it was offending people at our satellite campus in Qatar. In that case I was one of the first to defend the photo.

I can't imagine how well this picture is going over in Bush's America. So I like it as a political statement. But I wonder if it is doing the recruiting job we want it to do while making that worthwhile political statement.

Let see how long it remains:

Equal Time

Matt Shepard's family is disputing the content of the recent news reporting about the nature of the crime that befell their son. That information can be found here:

So if it really wasn't a simple robbery but really was a hate crime would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

See that way it seems very clear to me that it is a bad thing. But that doesn't have to make the reverse case a good thing does it? Maybe it isn't about being a good thing or a bad thing - or about just being a thing. Maybe its about it being a bad thing or a bad thing.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Good thing or a bad thing?

Scarecrow crying
Waiting to die wondering why
Scarecrow trying
Angels will hold carry your soul away

Melissa Etheridge "Scarecrow"

So it turns out that it wasn't what we all thought it was. This week, for the first time, one of the men charged with murdering Matthew Shepard went on record explaining what happened. When telling his story he explained that it actually had nothing to do with the fact that Shepard was gay. They were addicts, they were craving and had no drugs or money and saw that Matt did. They got him alone to steal his money and then beat him senseless due to their own lack of control and then ditched the body.

No more a hate crime than any other murder is a hate crime.

Now I guess there is the possibility that this is spin, that they feel that they will have a better chance at whatever sentencing or parole or whatever if the act turns out to be a product of addiction, of disease, rather than of ignorance or hate. In that case I think this is just another despicable chapter in the story. I mean if you are going to be a bigot and do the hard work of being a bigot, well then you ought not soften up just when its your moment to step up and take the blame. That's when you are supposed to revel in your commitment to "the cause," whatever misplaced, ignorant, craziness that might be. Hiding from it now is so... dissappointing.

I wonder more about what to do if it isn't spin. I mean if this was just a robbery and a murder would we have ever even heard about it? A mugging gone bad in rural Wyoming? What about Melissa's song, and Moises Kaufman's play, and the HBO movie of the play? All for... what? Are the messages of those artworks less important if the underlying event has been misinterpreted? I can't think of another parallel to compare this to to try to frame the question. Certainly the message is more powerful based on true events than it would be if it had been simply a fictional story, but based on a story that was false, what does that say?

A more broad hypothetical: What if say three years from now we find out that the 9/11 bombings were not about Islamic extremism at all but were actually something to do with currency, markets, and defense contractors; that Osama Bin Laden was actually working as a front for some huge multinational. That would certainly seem to me to undermine all of our actions afterward and would certainly seem that the ire directed at Islamic extremists was misplaced.

So if an attack we thought was based on homophobia turned out to be simple robbery is there a similar problem with the reaction?

I think not.

In rising up against hatred and homophobia we were rising against something that is inherently wrong. That the rallying event was misinterpreted may be unfortunate or embarrassing, and the songs may drop out of rotation, and the play may not be performed again, but the activism although erroneously spotlighted is still built on a strong foundation, is still important, and still speaks the truth.

Perhaps this should be another rally point. Perhaps we should not look back and report the mistake, but rather take this as an opportunity to add new fuel to the cause, energy to replace that which will be lost to this current spin. Melissa should write a new song, Kaufman should write a new play, HBO should do a new movie, all calling attention to the problem that is still there whether Matt Shepard was killed for money or for who he was.

This news isn't a good thing or a bad thing, its just a thing.

(and now I am left to wonder about the inherent rightness or wrongness of a reation to Islamic extreemism too - maybe that was a poor hypothetical)

Photos from my desk II

Now going though the desk at home...

Here we have Dr. Deborah Gilboa before she was a doctor, a Gilboa, or even a professional stage manager.

Yes, that is a Hammerschlag dorm room.

I wonder what else I'll find in my desk?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Purple States

Here's something to maybe soften the blow of all the red state/blue state talk of late:

This is a map of the US showing percentages of democratic and republican votes by county. The disturbing elephantitis of some areas and regretful shrinking of others is due to the fact that each county's representation on the map has had it's size modified based on population. Check out LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, NYC, and Fort Lauderdale. No real mystery where the democrats are living. It would also appear that there is basically nobody living between Idaho and New Mexico.

The voter split is represented by the color placement from blue to red. This happens to leave much of the country purple. Truth be told it also appears to me that there are more bluer than blue sections of the map than there are redder than red - but its been a long time since I painted a color wheel. In any case it is much preferable to the sea of red we've been seeing on the television coverage since the election.

So, maybe something for many of us to feel better about. Moreover, maybe something for the pundits and talking heads to think about when they're talking about the "mandate" that W got in this past election.

We now rejoin the fall semester...

...already in progress

Back in Pittsburgh trying to get re-situated - that and trying to figure out the new iPod (thanks Mrs. D).

More later.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Two down...

The wedding web page says there's 211 days left until the big day. My phone countdown says 211 days, 11 hours, and 17 minutes. Tonight Marisa and I completed our second official wedding event. The first was a small engagement dinner in Chicago. Tonight we had an engagement party in Bloomington with the Dollinger's and their local friends. An opportunity for some of the local people to catch up with Marisa and to meet me.

It was a lovely event at the Dollinger home, an after dinner with champagne for toasting and specially made deserts - kind of an audition for the wedding for the pastry chef. Very very rich chocolate mousse tarts, almond cookies with raspberries, and custard cups with pomegranate seeds, very nice.

Mostly this was people from the IU B-school and from the congregation. Everyone was very nice and happy for us. It was a no gift affair, but we still got a couple of nice presents. I guess we need to get the thank you note writing machine warmed up.

I wonder how many parties the wedding thing really turns out to be. So far we've had the two. We know about the wedding itself and the pre-nup dinner. I think there's a dinner the night before that here, there ought to be some kind of bachelor or bachelorette party or both. There's going to be at least one shower, in Chicago - that's down from what seemed to be a much larger list earlier. So what's that? A conservative 8 events? Could be more? This is going to be exhausting. Fun, but exhausting. Good thing I like all the people.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Do you know when you are at the table for Thanksgiving and someone who is just that much more into the whole thing then the rest suggests:

"OK, now lets go around the table and say just what we're thankful for"

I hate that. It never seems nice to put people on the spot, and make them speak in front of a group when that's not something they are used to. By the end of the thing it always seems like you have to pretty much say "I'm so thankful for people like these."

Here in the blogasphere, even though it is sappy it doesn't seem to suck so much. In fact, I am coming around to thinking that sappy does very well in a blog. What am I thankful for?

I am thankful for my family of 36 years, and for my father's family and my mother's family, and to my sister of not quite 36 years. I have lived a somewhat atypical family life with a huge group of people and very few loses over the years. It is very special to me and has shaped me in ways I am sure I don't even understand. I am thankful for the coming addition to the family, my lovely fiance, her family, and our little family: Trinity, RoLaren, Bretek, and Freya. I am also very thankful for what I guess could be called my associate family, all my friends that have been there for me all along, some for more than 30 years now, and some coming and going every year with new classes, some that are just a few blocks away and some who are never closer than on the other side of a computer screen. I am so appreciate of the work it takes to be my friend and I am thankful to all the people that roll up their sleeves and get it done. These friends are absolutely part of my family, and always have my gratitude - although sometimes it is hard to tell.

The problem with making a list, as we've all heard people bemoan on award shows, is that then it always sounds like you're leaving something off.

I am thankful for a great education, fabulous experiences, a wonderful job with exceptional colleagues and the greatest students - groups of people that keep me on my toes and appreciate what I am able to bring to them every day. I am grateful to be living in a time and a place where I can do this for a living, and be the person I am without having to be afraid of financial ruin or of persecution. For all the complaints about our leadership it is still a great place to live and grow. I am (knock wood) thankful for my health and the health of my extended family.

Does something like this start to sound self centered? Am I being selfish by being thankful to all of these things and how they relate to me? It does seem a little egocentric. Its hard to come up with things to be thankful about if they're not about me. Maybe more of it should be like the bit above: I am thankful for the continued healthfulness and happiness of so many other people in my life (darn, crapped out there at the end).

Shallow things I am thankful for: The West Wing, Rock Bottom Brewery, the internet, my truck after 12 long years, Eleven, Carnegie Mellon, Stargate SG-1, Robert Parker, Skittles, Office Depot, Ben Roethlisberger, Bar Louie & Super Marios, the NBA, Snood, NPR, laundry soap tablets, McDonald's, Air America, USA Today, The Original Hot Dog Shop, cable TV (but not the cable company) and all the other little things that make up my day.

I guess for next year I will try to figure out how to make this less about me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Red States

Today I went west for the holiday, to Bloomington, IN and the home of my future in-laws. We left our blue state paradise and traveled across America, red state America, West Virginia, Ohio, and then Indiana.

We discovered a few things on our trip. First, real Americans apparently eschew Starbucks. We'll take our coffee the old fashioned way thank you, don't need none of your haf-caf-caramel-latte crap. Coffee, black, from the truckstop. And you'll like it.

Next, when all the counting is complete in Ohio, and they do the recounting and it is complete, if the Republicans do win it seems like they did do what it took to get the job done. Due to a tragic CD player malfunction we did a lot of radio listening on this trip. Running the AM dial with the seek feature on the radio from the top to the bottom yielded no less than seven occurrences of the Rush Limbaugh show. That's some brainwashing on a truly epic scale. Do I have to tell you how many instances of the Al Franken show we heard? Even NPR was pretty rare. Although toward the end we did catch a little bit of a static accented broadcast of "The World" talking about hydrodynamic energy.

Other than that its a fairly uneventful trip for Pittsburgh to Bloomington, even blander today. Long, grey, and rainy with lots of people driving like they were in a hurry.

Everyone out there, have a great holiday. Don't eat too much.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Exhibit Project

Because I promised to send it to Andrea:


My Production Planning class has just finished the first phase of a two-phase exhibit project. Phase one had company profiles and conceptual designs. Phase two is a complete job bid with fleshed out designs, budgets, schedules, and a pitch to a group of drama faculty.

The exhibit topic is "The Carnegie Mellon Drama Experience." Its a project I've done for a couple of years now. If you follow the link you will find a cobbled together design proposal that includes some work from each of the groups. This is the scope they will then have to go on to finish.

So far, the work this year has been real strong. Now I guess I'll see if they finish as strong as they start.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


48 pages... Has audience participation made its way to sports, and is it a bad thing?.. Do you think a blog is a good way to get hold of people you've lost track of over the years, I wonder what Eileen Mountner is doing, and if that's still her name?.. Should registering for gifts for a wedding be complicated, who knew, so many possibilities, not only of what to ask but where to ask from?.. Is this an actual ellipse "?.." Does the country need some kind of radical campaign financing revision, I have an idea, I wonder... What on Earth is up with the price of gas? Quick, try to think of anything that was twice as expensive last year as this year... Did you know that 47% of people in this country identify themselves as Christian Evangelical?.. Recently I have found myself evaluating a couple of long term project experiences, as a theatre person most of my work goes much much faster, how about you?.. If they do prove that people tampered with the election, shouldn't that be charged as treason?.. Where oh where is the tape of Vernon Maxwell charging up to like the 25th row of the crowd years ago?.. Is it possible that the free market and the profit motive have killed American innovation?.. Do you think that the entire organized labor movement has screwed up in reverse?..

All this and more, coming to a web page near you. Or not, I think my completion percentage for items included in "Ellipses" columns has been fairly poor to date. I wonder why...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"The Man"

So I have to admit it, the man is really holding me down. I was explaining to a friend today about how I had to pull yesterday's entry and he lamented about how there really was no free speech in our world. I guess on some level he's right. On another level I guess there's nothing keeping me from saying anything as long as I can live with the consequences.

I had the thought to maybe post the thing like this:

So I have to admit it, the man is really holding me down. I was explaining to a friend today about how I had to pull yesterday's entry and he lamented about how there really was no free speech in our world. I guess on some level he's right. On another level I guess there's nothing keeping me from saying anything as long as I can live with the consequences.

and then leave it to the reader to figure it out as an exercise. I actually posted it like that for about ten minutes. But then I figured that all in all that was the same as actually posting it. I'm the one who always gets upset for shows that bleep or pixelate what you can figure out in context, why not just leave it. The webdings above in the end feel like some sort of corporate "there are no bad ideas" pixelating policy.

So we won't be doing that.

In the end it really does bother me that I can't bring myself to air something I think is real funny because of the possibility that someone influential might be offended. I mean, I get the idea I shouldn't tell the monkey joke in class even if it does encapsulate estimating very well - as it is off color and not appropriate for the class room. But this is not a class room, this is something else, even if a student or two (or six, ok all of them) actually reads it.

Ugh, I did not think having a blog was going to lead to ethical dilemmas. Maybe I'll do what TBS does to Sex in the City. I'll just delete the offensive words and leave spaces. It would be like "Go ____ yourself!" No, that won't help either. Too much angst over a hobby. There must be something else to write about.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

First un-post

It took 88 posts, but I finally said something that after a few minutes I re-thought and deleted. I guess I am some kind of E-conformist. Last night I sat here with Marisa and we posted this file I have that we think is funny. A few people saw it and the comments started coming right away, a few people that would definitely get it, and from what they said they did.

But this little composition isn't very secret anymore. I'd thought it was a little more secure, that maybe only some of my upperclassmen or grads new where to find it. But it turns out that this is no more a secret than anything else in the Drama School. So just like an ABC affiliate fearing retribution from the FCC, now I have to filter posts through the lens of explaining them to my boss, or to the parent of a student, or to the Dean of Student Affairs.

I was thinking about this couple in New Mexico that got fired from their jobs because of some pictures they posted on their personal website. Its not like I'd be posting like that, but still, like it or not there are now some kind of standards and practices involved. Always were I guess. My family has had the address from the beginning, and from the start I decided that nothing even close to verging on confidential from work would get published even with names changed. But that had still left me a lot of leeway. Guess last night's post just helped me find the edge of the road.

So, if you saw the post I am talking about I hope you enjoyed it. I have thought since I first saw the thing a couple of years ago that it was just flat out hysterical.

But nothing I want to have to explain away.

Hardwareman II

Dealing with the wonders of commercial scenic fabrication. Enjoy...

Dear Hardwareman,

I was just hired as a Project Manager for a commercial scene shop. Do you have any sage advice?


Dear Anon,

While Hardwareman himself is currently deep in meditation (he went into the bathroom with the Enco catalog), a group of disciples has put this list together for you:

1. If the customer says they don’t need it right away, they mean they don’t need it until tomorrow.

2. Your sales people don’t know what your company does.

3. Nobody will remember how they did it the last time.

4. The file contains nothing but fax cover sheets.

5. If they won’t tell you what time you can leave, don’t let them tell you what time to be there.

6. If the client says they think they have it, they don’t.

7. The job lead has a better way.

8. Don’t agree with the lead too quickly, they don’t really want to make the change. They want to convince you they know better.

9. If you can’t open the disk, assume it is blank.

10. Your sub doesn’t have the font.

11. You will care more about the project then the client.

12. The truck will be late, and when it arrives it won’t have bars, straps or pads.

13. Your annual review won’t happen until you remind them.

14. Seeing the client is better than phoning, phoning is better than email, email is better than a fax, faxing is better than nothing.

15. If you think getting the job you’re about to bid will close the shop, then you should say so.

16. If in doubt the client will be gone for the holiday – which is just fine since it is an overtime day for the local anyway.

17. There is no standard procedure.

18. You have to use the existing form.

19. McMaster-Carr can get it for you.

20. If in doubt, do it yourself.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Embrace your inner geek

So I inadvertently started a little bit of a comment thread about books the other day. Strangely none of the titles were anything I had read. I have to admit to a "what are you people talking about" moment. In any case, it got me thinking. I figured it would be a good time for me to pick ten titles from my shelves to highlight. Since the earlier discussion was in the sci-fi/fantasy world I will talk about that - which is fine because with the exception of Robert Parker and Tom Clancy sci-fi is just about all I read.

Ten really good books, alpha by author:

The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
So right off I am cheating. This is five books, six if you count "The Salmon of Doubt" which I wouldn't. Even without counting it, I would recommend every title Adams wrote. I discovered Hitchiker's as a TV show on WTTW in Chicago and then pounded every single volume. As with a couple of the multi-volume choices here I'm not picking the best of the series. I am very partial to the "bistromathmatic drive" from one of the later books, and Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged and I may be related, at least there's a similarity of personality (better than Marvin the Android I guess). If you haven't read these, run, don't walk to the bookstore.

Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
This one was a total fluke. I tend to read everything a particular author has written and then switch to another author. I picked up "Ender's Game" when I had run out of whatever I was reading at the time. Amazing book, and once again this is actually seven books. The Ender books run out of gas as the original novels carry on, but Card pick up the zip again when he came back to them to write the Shadow series. I've had a couple of opportunities to read multiple stories of the same plot from different points of view. I think its a real cool literary technique and the Shadow books take advantage of it thoroughly. Card is another author where I would recommend virtually everything he's written, the Alvin Maker series and the Homecoming series are also both excellent - and less scifi than fantasy really. the homecoming books may be a retelling of the book of Mormon. I wouldn't know, never having read the book of Mormon. Card is also cool because he is a theatre guy. He started selling fiction to fund his theatre. Sometimes I think he speaks the same professional language I do.

Fountains of Paradise
Authur Clarke
Clarke is a giant. One of three I think: Clarke, Heinlein, and Asimov. I'm sure that there are giants behind them, Lester Del Rey all the way back through HG Wells and Jules Verne. I'll admit to not having looked into it. This is yet another recommendation for everything in the canon. OK, they're all like that, well, all but one. Can you guess which one it will be? "Fountains of Paradise" is a great story, a story about a technical director really. Its got a nice bracketing short story around the full novel. Clarke does that in a bunch of stories, this one, 2001, Childhood's End; a small story to set the context that really has very little to do with the novel and yet still fits perfectly. This story centers around an engineering marvel, an elevator into geosynchronous orbit. The bracket is about another engineering marvel, one from antiquity that required thousands of people to truck buckets of water up a mountain to make a fountain work. Just all kinds of good stuff. Also check out the other Clarke books, and absolutely seek out the short stories.

Pattern Recognition
William Gibson
Oh My God! I haven't been surprised by a book in a long time. I'd sort of started reading Gibson because I thought I should, what with "The Matrix" and all it seemed like reading "Neuromancer" was appropriate. After that its just standard David behavior, got to plow through the rest. Anyway, I think Gibson is getting better. "Pattern Recognition" is the latest effort. It's near future science fiction, which is a favorite of mine. He also leaves the standard context of the world as he'd set it up in most of the previous books and writes in a world you and I live in. There's a little sideline in this story dealing with 9/11. The technology that is usually just out of reach in Gibson books is contemporary this time and a lot of fun. I actually wonder if there are "cool hunters" like the main character, or if there are usenet groups following movies being released one frame at a time as graffiti. All the details are just so special. This book is awesome.

Mawdryn Undead
Peter Grimwade
So far I haven't really been all that geeky. This will fix that. Again this is three books, not one. The series starts with "Mawdryn Undead" and then continues with "Terminus" and concludes in "Enlightenment." The last two are written by John Lydecker and Barbara Clegg respectively. Right, the geek part: these are Doctor Who novelizations, a three episode sequence from the first season with Peter Davidson as The Doctor. I got into Doctor Who in high school. I use to stay up late sunday night and watch with the sound turned down trying to not have my parents notice that I was still up at 12:20am on a school night. I must have seen "Logopolis," the last Tom Baker episode, four or five times before channel 11 got the next season. When the books for the next season showed up in bookstores before the shows ran on TV I jumped at the opportunity to find out what was going to happen. I actually read these out of sequence because I didn't know what was going on. I read "Enlightenment" first. To this day I think it was probably one of the best Doctor Who stories ever written. It deals with a sailing race, with special ships fitted to run in space but are crewed by appropriate crews stolen from Earth history and piloted by beings described as "Eternals." Its a real good story. The TV production of it was ok, but I am glad I read it first. The same goes for "Terminus" which is also a fantastic story that reads better than it filmed. "Mawdryn" is the weakest of the three, but together they are very cool.

Starship Troopers
Robert Heinlein
The second of the three giants in the list. It was real hard to decide which of his books to cite. I got into reading Heinlein because of the cover of the book "Friday."

Teenage boy, jumpsuit, boobies, enough said. Heinlien was also just right to be reading around the end of high school and into college as it is all founded in free love and progressiveness. "Starship Troopers" is a wonderfully detailed scifi story and in some ways a real tribute to military service - another frequent Heinlein theme. I re-read this book right around the time I was finishing undergrad and was trying to figure what to do with my life and darned if I didn't nearly join up. I was so excited when I saw they were making a movie, and so bummed when I finally saw it. The movie is ok, but it misses most of the detail that makes the story special. In a million years Heinlein would never have made that unit "Rico's Roughnecks" at the end, pure movie sap. That and they totally bailed on the technology. In many ways "Aliens" is more "Starship Troopers" than "Starship Troopers" was. Anyway, good good book. One of many great books, and again, check out the short stories as well.

Frank Herbert
I started "Dune" at least six times before I actually got far enough into it to keep reading. I guess the seventh time is the charm as I think that time I stayed up all night and read the thing through in one sitting. Great story, tight mythology, very detailed, just very good stuff. This is the one author I can't speak to the whole of their work. I never got beyond "Dune" although the next three are sitting on my shelf waiting. Someday I guess I'll have to get to them. Again, by the way, neither the movie or the mini-series does this story justice. There's just too much first person thinking in the text to translate to the screen. As a book though, this one has few rivals.

Beggars in Spain
Nancy Kress
At some time along the way I joined the Science Fiction Book Club. Every year I would buy that years "The Year's Best Science Fiction" and look for new authors. That's how I discovered Nancy Kress. She really writes stories that are very fresh from a scifi perspective, where many plots are either intensionally or inadvertantly derivative. "Beggars in Spain" is a story about genetic engineering. Designer children, genemod for intelligence, looks, and so that they would never have to sleep - a CMU drama dream. The book deals mostly with the social consequences of creating an elite class. Very good book, and the two follow ups are just as good or better. The "Probability" series is also very good. I can't wait for her next effort.

Is it possible I am getting tired of writing this? You are almost certainly tired of reading.

Connie Willis
Buy this book. Period. I mean it. Go, now:
Connie Willis is another author I found through the anthology. I've read everything she's written and loved every single book. This one is about a research park in Boulder, CO and some of the scientists there. Mostly just about the campus culture. Again there are great details, the main character goes to the library and checks out classics and then just returns them because the library retires books if people don't check them out and all anybody reads these days is pulp novels. There's this statistical researcher who is doing a project to analyze the aspects of prize winning research so that the lab can decide what project to fund that will have the best chance of winning a prize. Its wonderfully cynical. This is one of the few books I have ever bought for another person. Go get it now. You'll like it.

Also, if I may be permitted a sort of American Top 40 long distance dedication before finishing up, Connie Willis has another book called "Remake" which is just perfect. Its about a guy who works for a movie studio removing morally offensive content from old movies, like they have him go through and remove all the cigarettes and smoke. Then when the times change he goes and puts it back. Its a fun book, especially if you like movies. It's short and a real fast read and well worth it. Check it out.

Heir to the Empire
Timothy Zahn
The one that started this very long entry. Again, three books, this plus "Dark Force Rising" and "The Last Command." Zahn makes a great contribution to the Star Wars universe with this trilogy. All those names I rattled off in the earlier post: Mara, Talon Carrde, Thrawn... They're all from these books. If you grew up with Star Wars like I did, these will be irresistible. Good stuff Maynard.

That I think is quite enough for one post. I'll wait until some other time to do movies and TV shows.

More academic comedy

A letter from my files (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

David B
Technical Director
Carnegie Mellon School of Drama
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

In re: June Black & The West Coast Drama Alumni Clan Achievement Awards

For the life of me I cannot understand why June Black would ask me to recommend her for a WCDAC Award. As a prior award winner (undergrad production 1990) I can think of nothing that would devalue my own award more than recognizing her.

June has been a cancer to the department for four years now. Every single thing we do is made more difficult merely by her presence. When she applies herself, then things can become truly miserable. For her entire time here she has demonstrated to the entire faculty that she feels she has nothing to learn from us, that we are all stupid, and not worthy of her respect. She is the only manager I have ever – in my entire career – heard tell a director to “fuck off” right to their face in a rehearsal. June has consistently asked to be excused from every single department requirement. When she does deign to lower herself to our level, she frequently forgets assignments and is absent constantly with “outside projects” – hooking or something, it’s not like she tells me.

I also need to tell you that this past semester June went out of her way to irritate a venerable member of our faculty, and my own personal hero, Dan Maranowski. For some reason, this little undergrad bitch thought she should be instructing a tenured full professor how to teach his class. Unbelievable.

Also, it has been my understanding that the Clan’s preference was to target these awards toward students expressing a strong interest in film. This is certainly not the case here. When June said “I just don’t understand film at all, The Godfather would have been so much better as a Broadway musical” I was simply flabbergasted. To her, film and television are despicable. Truthfully, she doesn’t even respect theatre as an art form. She’s more like one of these pompous performance art pukes. This is not a student with an L.A. career goal.

I swear if you give her this award I will just have to shoot myself.


David B

Do you think that is what she had in mind? Should have seen her when I showed it to her prior to sending the real one.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Everyone is a comedian

So I get this email from the SM of Animal Farm, the daily rehearsal report:

Animal Farm
Rehearsal Report - Fri. Nov. 12th

Please find the report at:

Carlos Armesto, Juliet Brown, Aly Blume, Izzy Buckser, Karen Corcoran, Sylvia Fellin, Mikey Denis, Khaliah Adams, Dan Amboyer, Johanna Brickey, Jesmille Darbouze, Anderson Davis, Susan Goodwillie, Marissa Lesch, PáTina Miller, Michael Strassheim, Tim Wilson and Alex Wolfe. Gerry Dantry.

Today's Schedule:------------Tomorrow's Schedule:
6:30-7:50 Transitions-------10:00-10:45 Moment 15
7:50-8:00 Break--------------10:45-11:15 Moment 16
8:00-9:45 Moment 26-------11:15-12:00 Moment 24
9:45-10:01 Break-------------12:00-1:00 Moment 23
10:05-10:36 Moment 26----1:00-2:00 Moment 18-19

Fitting Schedule
10:00-10:45 Khaliah---------1:00-2:00 Dan
10:45-12:15 Jesmille---------2:00-3:00 Andrew
12:15-1:00 Johanna----------3:00-4:00 Michael


Line Changes:
Cut Narrator 3, "and?halted"
Cut Clover "Comrade?death" pg. 63

Thanks for the platforms and Posts.
Will there be another adjustment to the post weight?

How does the sign attach to the Posts? Does it need two people?
All of the crates now crash to the floor. Three broke tonight, can we reinforce them?
CUT: 2 Funnels
ADDITION: Bottle of whisky and bottle of alchohol.

When will Boxer's extensions be ready?
Can we rubber the bottom of Muriels extensions?


Can a time be arranged when you can discuss cue sheets and Board Op notes with Paul?

There is a meeting scheduled at 5:30 on Tuesday to make up for today's missed meeting. DSII

There is a meeting scheduled at 5:30 on Tuesday to make up for today's missed meeting. DSII

Thank you for the note.
When do expense reports have to be filled out?

If anyone has any questions or concerns please let us know.

Thanks for everything,
Stage Management

and so having seen the invitation for questions or concerns, I send this:

I am concerned about the recent developments in the political leadership of the country. This also leads to the question "just what were all those people thinking when they vote the way they did?" and "do we really have to live with this, or is there something we can do about it?".

I am concerned that we will go in so many bad directions, foreign policy, economic policy, environmental policy, education policy. Really I guess I am just concerned about everything.

Yes, I have a concern. I am concerned about everything.

I have some other questions too...

Is it ok to have just a fish choice and a veggie choice at a wedding, or does there have to be a meat or chicken choice too?

If there is over 100,000 miles on a car, is it time to buy a new one, or keep driving this one till it quits?

If not filing taxes quarterly, can one still claim to be an independent contractor?

Why does the blogger spell checker think "blog" isn't a word?

Do cats have feelings?

Are there too many Cirque companies in Las Vegas?

Is Listerine really as good for your teeth as flossing?

When dining at Eleven, should one order the Veal and Lobster or the Seafood Tasting?

Who drives on the right side of the road, Americans or the English?

If I think of any more I will be sure to send them.


Some times I crack myself up. I've so far gotten no response from Stage Management. Maybe they think its not their job. But then, really, she shouldn't have asked.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

For my Dad

I've never been all that good with birthdays. So I just wanted to say happy birthday to my dad.

He's been real great to me. I don't think I will ever fully appreciate all he's done for me. I love him very much.

I hope you had a great birthday and that I get an opportunity to see you real soon.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Survivor's Quest

by Timothy Zahn

When I had the idea to start the blog I thought mostly I would talk about TV, and have a place to review movies. With the exception of talking about some election coverage I've never really gotten to TV or film, but curiously here is another book review. I haven't been reading enough. Years ago, while doing stock, I came to depend on reading as a stress management tool. Even mid install I would always have a book that I'd fall back to during breaks. It was a real welcome distraction. I could use more of that these days.

Being, as I have said before, from the Star Wars generation I think it makes perfect sense that I would be reading these books. So far to date I have read some ridiculous number of Star Wars books. There are so many of them that for a stretch it was difficult standing in the bookstore to remember which ones I had yet to read. I've read five prior publications of this author which I had really enjoyed. So much so that I think I've read at least another five non-Star Wars titles of his as well. He's a good writer.

Once again, Zahn is working with the Chiss and the mythology around Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn was a great character and I think Zahn is bummer out that he had to kill him off in the first group of books he wrote. The second pair of books brought us a clone of Thrawn. This book doesn't go that far, but Thrawn is there in the background for the entire story as the events taking place are all fallout from a great battle years before, orchestrated by - it could only be - Thrawn.

The story is also nice because I think Zahn has a special attachment to Mara Jade. The Mara from before she was Mara Jade Skywalker, the Mara who worked for Talon Carrde. Since I really liked that character its nice to read a story where she's more like she was at the start.

The whole plot revolves around Luke and Mara going with a party of Chiss to the wreckage of "Outbound Flight" which was a deep space exploration mission launched just before the Clone Wars by the Jedi. They were looking for undiscovered civilizations and for possible colonization worlds. The legend went that soon after leaving Republic space they were obliterated by Thrawn. Luke is hoping as usual to pick up some piece of the Jedi's history.

Its a nice set up and worth reading for that if you're a fan. If you're not one of the indoctrinated though its a fairly average sci-fi story. A lot of it is derivative of "Universe Common Sense" written by Heinlein half a century ago. The story mechanism of a lost ship and its insulated culture is one that has been repeated many times. Zahn repeats it here somewhat to middling effect. It's not nearly as good as "Heir to the Empire" and its follow ups, or the "Conquerors" series of non Star Wars book he wrote after that.

Good enough for the fans though.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Been that kind of day. That kind of week. More like that kind of two weeks. Really the last month hasn't been stellar.

I need a very large drink.

Anyone care to come along? You can tell me what you think sucks and then I'll tell you what I think sucks. Maybe after it won't seem to suck as much.

Now where's that bartender?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Don't the red states get cable?

Tom Hanks may have saved Private Ryan from the Germans, but he seems to have been no match for Janet Jackson and the FCC. This evening tuning in to ABC for the movie I was amazed at how much it looked like "Far and Away." I could have sworn that that was Tom Cruise and not Matt Damon.

Do we really live in a country where you can't run Saving Private Ryan on over the air TV on Veteran's Day because of violent situations and a few bad words?

Don't the red states get cable? The news on CNN is more violent then a lot of movies, and its real. Movies are make believe, aren't they, or have I been confused for a real long time.

Is it possible that this is the beginning of the end of over the air TV? How long will it be before Steven Bochco and David E. Kelly come to the same conclusion as Howard Stern and take their efforts over to satellite or cable where they won't have to worry about moral censorship? No. I think its likely that there will always be something on over the air TV. It might very well be the beginning of the end of anything worth watching on over the air TV. Well, there should at least be sports. Or maybe not, are directors going to have to pixelate over the mouths of athletes now?

I guess I am jaded. I watched every episode of OZ. Its possible that my meter may be out of calibration, but it would seem that a movie like Private Ryan, offered as a memorial to the service and loss of so many could be interpreted in the context it was produced and that we can all deal with the coarseness of reality for the time it takes to appreciate it.

Spilled milk or fried egg?

The Air America people have got me thinking. There's bit quite a bit of discussion on the radio about whether or not the election this year was "stolen." They bring out all kinds of just this side of conspiracy theroys that occasionally sound like they would make more sense if I were hearing them on Art Bell. Things about how electronic machines tallied votes for Bush even if you voted for Kerry, and how they did a "dry run" with a primary in Florida, and and and and...

(Art Bell had a radio show that talked about UFOs and all the like that you would see on X-Files. I just checked and there isn't an Art Bell anymore, although his show "Coast to Coast" is apparently still running with another host. Post for another day.)

Anyway the whole thing gets me thinking like this: if these people are right (big if), and if they are in some way able to prove it (bigger if), and if they are able to get some court to listen to them, is the election spilled milk or is it a fried egg?

I had this bio teacher in high school, Mr. Boyum, who used to drill it into our heads. It was about denatured proteins (which he was also telling us is not the same as "killing" them, they were unfolded, there was nothing to kill in the first place) and how once they were unfolded you could not put them back.

So if the election is spilled milk, I guess if there is genuine demonstrable fraud with intent, then maybe we can soak it up and put things right. But do you remember the last time? The rush to get through it?

I never understood during the whole Bush/Gore thing what the hurry was. I mean I get that there are constitutionally mandated deadlines and that they are likely somewhat tamperproof to discourage fraud, but should the system be so bulletproof that it cannot react to legitimate problems? We should never get to the point in our process where we say "well, there just won't be time to count the ballots." If we're not going to count the ballots, why did we bother to vote?

My recollection of the last time is that the people involved don't have the gumption to do what is necessary in order to make sure we count all the votes. Actually, I think it is likely that the real problem is that releasing the deadlines would take the out in the open action of the congress, an elected body, and that's a fairly rigorous position for anyone in an elected body to take. And, aside from that, in both cases now expediting the process has favored the party that controls the legislative agenda. Why on Earth would they want to extend the process if by truncating it they can simply declare their man the winner?

So, even if the investigators really do find the smoking gun that proves that there was an orchestrated, and successful, effort to steal the office of the President, I think they are likely to find that it is more of a fried egg than a puddle of spilled milk. Don't get me wrong, its not like I don't want to know the truth about what did or did not happen. I just think that knowing probably won't change anything in the end.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Two great things

that go great together: Uncle Andy & Eleven !!!

My buddy Mr. Beckman came to town today to talk to the kids about the wonders of exhibit project management. This is his third year running appearing to speak here. I think it might be more interesting for him and for me than for the class this year. See, since he started with us he has been working on the design and fab of the same project. So the first year he brought the design proposal, and then last year he brought the contract documents and the drawings, and this year he brought photos of the finished project. So I have had a real nice, real long view of the design. Pretty cool for me. I think the class appreciated it a little more this year too. So all were happy all around.

If you're interested, here is the exhibit:


But actually one of the best parts of bringing in a guest is taking them out to dinner on the company, and this time we did the whole Magilla. Probably the single best restaurant I have been to in Pittsburgh is Eleven. Its currently the crown jewel of the Big Burrito restuarant group - their eleventh as it turns out, and it is awesome.

Tonight I had me two Clear Cosmos, Jumbo Lump Crabcake with braised cabbage and a citrus reduction, Pacific King Salmon with butternut squash & potato hash and herb beurre blanc, and then a hot chocolate coffee cake and mocha shake. It was real hard to leave.

I've been to Eleven three times now and each time was better than the last. Wherever you are you should try to check it out. John's plane was delayed and he nearly missed class, and I sent around an email asking other instructors if I could reschedule "because it would be a real waste for him to come all the way to Pittsburgh just for dinner." Turns out I was wrong. I think he would have been just fine with that.

Thanks so much Uncle Andy.

The Cat Came Back

They thought it was a goner but the cat came back it just couldn't stay away.

I guess the people at bunnyhero paid their bill. That's nice. Now if I could only figure out why its still 5:58am on the Parkway. Just goes to show you, if it's not one thing its another and sooner or later you're dead.

Wow, two late 70's TV references in one post.

In other news, I've added a tagboard to the site for even more user participation. Just trying to make your "There are no bad ideas" experience everything it can be. Have fun.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

42 Pages

It's out of control. I've completed pasting in all of the existing digital content and the book outline is now 42 pages long. The next bit will be to formalize and type up the content that is currently longhand or cerebral. I think that's a list of about a dozen, so it looks like the outline will be just north of 50 pages long.

It should slow down significantly now. Most of what I have been doing so far has been data entry. I've been doing a little bit of editing, but mostly it has been cut & paste and just some formatting. Now the real work begins.

I wonder if a 50 page sentence outline is long enough to produce a 200 page book? Maybe I should start coming up with ideas for charts & graphs. I really can't tell from looking at the thing what the expansion will be. I wonder how long is too long for this kind of book. I've already started putting "dump this?" next to some headings. Sure would be a pain to write entire sections only to cut them later. But that's what the process is all about I guess.

The Palmyra Sliver

I wonder what has happened to "The Palmyra Sliver?" There's been very little activity over there since the election and the "VOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTE" post. I sure hope everyone is ok.

Maybe the entire staff has packed off to Ohio to try to dig up voter fraud evidence. Its possible. The Sliver had been fairly outspoken in its support of the Kerry/Edwards ticket. Since it seems the neither Senator Kerry or Mr. Edwards will be doing much about it I could see how the editor of the Sliver might send their entire reporting staff to do their own independent investigation. Perhaps they're all in one of those precincts where something between 100 and 5000% of voter turnout. That's a neat trick, someone ought to be investigate it. Maybe they can pass the methodology on to the IRS and they could collect taxes from 5000% of citizens with income. Be a cool way to deal with that whole deficit thing.

I guess its possible that the Sliver's reporters didn't go to Ohio at all. Maybe they've been embedded with a military unit currently tasked to the invasion of Fallujah. Perhaps the editor herself is currently battened down inside a US Bradley fighting vehicle cursing her international cellular provider and desperately looking for a scrap of paper on which to document her experiences. Its unfortunate that the military rules and the technological limitations will cause us to have to wait for the story, but what a wonderful story it will be once she returns. I sure hope that if the staff of the Sliver has gone to Iraq that they all return safely.

My real hope is that in the wake of the terrible election disappointment the editorial staff of the Sliver has decided to take a vacation. It would be great if there's a little Tequila and sand therapy being used to salve the lumps from the vote count. A little nap on the beach, a margarita or two, or three, then maybe a little nap in the hotel room. Sounds nice. I vote for this one.

Or maybe she's just busy.

Ding, dong...


I feel safer already.

I wonder what dreamboat they've got lined up to replace him? Guess maybe I should reserve judgement.

Prescription filled while you wait - if God says its ok

Perhaps in the light of last Tuesday's election we ought to pay closer attention to things like this:


In brief the article explains that there is a growing trend among pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions based on religious grounds. Seems there's a slippery slope from Abortion to RU486 to Ortho-Novum.

And here just a day or two ago I was having an nice conversation with one of my, apparently, media elite friends about how all birth control ought to be on-demand and free because its a good thing for the country. Guess we're a little out of touch with the mainstream.

Truth be told, the guys at Monty Python called this one years ago. It was in "The Meaning of Life" I think where they took this to its natural conclusion, declaring: "Every sperm is sacred." That would put a dent into a lot of cultural assumptions.

I've always thought we were safe here because this was one of those issues where everyone would want it to be this way except for their wife, girlfriend, or daughter. Counting on b-flat American hypocrisy I guess. Maybe I've been wrong. Maybe the same kind of moral center that runs one this way also keeps the same people from becoming hypocritical.

If I had to guess, I would say that in the end American hypocrisy will trump American morals every time. I mean we're the country founded on freedom and religious freedom that then immediately forced out and murdered an indigenous population and then enforced strict Puritan rules. Surely a country with such a dysfunctional foundation will be able to protect access to birth control? Wouldn't you think?

Still, might be a good time to invest in condoms - the stock in your dresser and the companies' stock on the exchange. Although if they're campaigning against The Pill, can condoms be too far behind? If every sperm is sacred, is there really any difference?

Monday, November 08, 2004

The one that started it all:

Ask Hardwareman

So, this is Kevin's original "Ask Hardwareman" compilation of universal TD truths. It was for regional theatre and is better than I remembered (and typed) the other day:

Dear Hardwareman,

I was just hired as the technical director for a regional theater. Do you have any sage advice?


Dear Anon,

1. Never use a stock unit in a show unless you know exactly how it was built.

2. Never let anyone rig unless you know they REALLY know what they’re doing. And never let a momo coil your rope

3. “Draft twice, build once” is the TD’s version of the carpenter’s adage, “measure twice, cut once”.

4. You can never have too many 1-5/8” drywall screws on hand.

5. Whenever possible, use a real one. It’s frequently cheaper.

6. Designers aren’t always trying to annoy you when they specify a hardcovered flat 8’-3” tall by 4’-3” wide. Sometimes it really matters. I said SOME times.

7. Often, the scenic unit you are most proud of and consider your greatest technical accomplishment will be cut from the show. I find that in these cases, heavy drinking is preferable to open weeping during tech notes.

8. When in doubt, overbuild.

9. If it moves, overbuild it, even when not in doubt.

10. Always test a moving unit if an electrician has been anywhere near it since it was last moved. They have this funny way of stringing cables everywhere.

11. Be willing to pay more for a known quality than an unknown quality.

12. Mountain Dew and PainAid are not in any of the four basic food groups. They are members of an elite food group.

13. Directors respond to you better if you don’t call them “pinhead” to their faces.

14. If you are a male person and don’t wear a beard, only shave when you have a day off. (I’m gonna let this one be a little mysterious for the uninitiated.)

15. Whenever anyone suggests using real dirt in quantity on stage, run screaming in terror from the building and answer that ad for that job hanging drywall.

16. As a TD, you will be continually asked to violate the laws of physics. It is your responsibility to do so.

17. Many unsolvable spatial problems can be remedied after stage management has gone home, by moving a few spike marks.

18. Try and laugh at least once every day.

19. If you accidentally move a lighting instrument, it’s good to tell lighting about it right away. If you don’t, they’ll eventually find out about it, then get back at you by stringing another cable somewhere.

20. In our world, it’s perfectly normal to build a brick wall in front of the brick wall, hang a grid underneath the grid, and hang masking in front of the masking.

The interesting thing is that there is a story behind each and every one of these statements. As I recall, #4 is about my throwing a fit during a load in. #5 is about a unit in the same show - a chain link fence gate. #14 has been me on many occasions. #15 & #20 are from the same show as #4 & #5, it was a real prototypical experience in frustration. Even though these things mostly have one show or person at their root, they really do apply to many many productions and participants.

Lost Cat

My virtual kitten has run away. If you try to chase it down, all you see is:

This Account Has Been Suspended
Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.

It is so depressing. We'd had so much fun together. If you see her, please grab her and let me know.

27 Pages

When I was at "The Other School" doing my grad degree, in my third year while we were all amidst the Thesis process we had this odd greeting. It would go something like this:

"Hi. How many pages?"
"24, How many pages?"
"24, really, how nice. I myself have 48 pages."

And so it went for the entire year. I guess it was 1/3 encouragement/reminder, maybe 1/3 rubbing their nose in it (if you had a lot of pages), and 1/3 simply having not the slightest inkling of any other topic to talk about.

So right now if you said to me "Hi. How many pages?" I would say 27.

Over the past week or so my 2 page broad outline has mushroomed into a 27 page specific outline. From the original 50ish items to expand I am coming down to the final dozen or so. Unfortunately these are the ones that are either hand written in my course binders or, even worse, completely blank; indicating that I either composed it on the fly in class or think I know it so well I never wrote it down. There's even one that is just a digital photo of the board at the end of class. All seem to be difficult to cut and paste into my current document.

I'm thinking that for bilateral motivational purposes I may put myself onto the PTM Thesis schedule for my current 3rd years. This way when I pass them in the hallway I can say "Hi, how many pages?" Plus this would land me at substantial completion at the top of the summer and give me until the fall to tweak. That would give me a completed companion text for my Technical Direction course the next time it is offered. It's aggressive, but I think it might be a good idea. So, my next step is to make up a thesis proposal the same way I am having them work: title, genre, audience, abstract, outline, schedule, budget, and advisors. I looked at the submission form for Focal Press today and a lot of that stuff is there as well - may as well complete the exercise.

Right now this is a lot of fun. I hope it stays that way.

Maybe it is ignorance after all

So after all that soul searching about tradition vs. progress and religion vs. secularism and liberal vs. conservative and democrat vs. republican and going out of my way to think that if it was anything it really could not be about ignorance... then I have to see this:

I really wish it weren't this cut & dry. Maybe education is the answer. But then, IQ is supposed to be inherent, isn't it? Ugh, this might be harder than we think.

Crossposted from Katy and http://chrisevans3d.com/files/iq.htm (the guy complained about bandwidth).

Then there's this little tidbit:

(Crossposted from: http://sensoryoverload.typepad.com/sensory_overload/2004/11/free_states_vs_.html)

The more things change, the more they stay the same? I guess I will try to draw comfort from the idea that it is often easy to demonstrate a statistical correlation without having a causal connection.

Oh well, time for the healing to begin, right?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

New Levels of White Trash

So you tell me, should I be worried?

Today I slept in. Then I got up and went with the woman I live with who is not my wife for breakfast at like noon. After that I came home and sat on the couch to watch the Steelers game, during which I fell asleep. The Steelers game was followed by my going to the store, but that was hindered by my truck breaking down and a conversation with this same woman, driver's window to driver's window in the middle of the street. We then went together to the Pep Boys so I could get the thing I needed to fix my truck. While we were out we bought a gas leaf blower. Upon returning home I fixed my truck in the driveway. Then, roughly and hour after dark I fired up the leaf blower and cleared half of the back yard.

I am concerned.

Not that any of these activities on their own say anything about me, but the totality of the list seems to merit concern. I feel I am in danger of the phrase "the mother of my baby" in my future, or perhaps shopping for a nice property with a trailer home.

I swear, if this had been last Monday, in this frame of mind, I might have found myself pulling the lever next to Bush/Cheney. For a few minutes there I think I really connected to the heartbeat of America.

I take heart in the idea that very few true white trash representatives (members? designates? people?) would then come in and enter their experiences in a blog. So maybe I don't need to be all that concerned afterall.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The call starts at 9:00

Note to self: do not assume the install call will begin at 8:00, lest you wind up having time for a blog entry at work (yuck), in the morning (double yuck), and you'll have to drive to four different entrances before you find one not closed for free-rolls.

Still, this feels like an appropriate time for a cross-post. Several years ago when he was at the Goodman, my associate Mr. Hines had a column in a regional magazine called "Ask Hardwareman." Kevin became Hardwareman due to his proficiency in the fabrication of "stupid Yale hardware." The shop at the Rep has cornered the market on making one time hardware to solve a problem rather than adjusting the solution to include off the shelf parts. For his column Kevin came up with a list of truisms for Regional Technical Directors. Things like "Many problems can be solved after Stage Management has left by judicious movement of spike tape" or "Don't call the Director 'Pinhead' to his face." Inspired by Kevin's LORT list I wrote a Summer Stock ("costumes does not have time to sew your soft goods") and a Commercial Project Manager ("the file contains nothing but fax cover sheets") list, and some day when it won't feel depressing one or both of us will write the Academic TD list ("anything you think can be changed in a couple of weeks will inevitably take a couple of years"). Perhaps on the occasion of that writing I will post the other three here as well.

Recently a student was inspired by the existing lists and created an Academic Student TD list herself. I present it here for your enjoyment:

Dear Hardwareman,

I have recently been assigned to be a mainstage TD in a Conservatory theater program. Do you have any sage advice?


Dear Anon,

Hardwareman was last seen heading into an all-day faculty meeting with only a stack of square paper. In his absence, we put this together:

1. Run everything by your advisor, that’s why you have one.

2. If you want a tool that you can’t find in the tool room, ask the shop supervisor, he will want to buy it.

3. You can’t buy your crew beer on the show budget. But you can buy them bagels and coffee.

4. When Kevin said that steel was lighter, he was right.

5. The ME is a quiet lighting designer, you will probably step on her toes. You should watch for her feet, but in the end, it is her job to say “ow, get off” when you do.

6.The overhire carpenter isn’t necessarily any more skilled than a sophomore with a work ethic.

7. Put in your requests for specific crew as soon as the list is available.

8. Every crew has some smart actors, find them, they’re your ace in the hole.

9. Do NOT overthink on the shop floor. Build what you drew. At least then you can track back the problems.

10. Your designer will always question your estimate. Only give them a summary sheet.

11. Publish your lineset schedule early.

12. Paints will always be behind. Don’t be the cause of it.

13. Talk to your PM. If you don’t, they will think you are hiding something. And then you have to have nightly meetings. No one wants that. Not even the Production Manager, they have to stay at school later.

14. Your designer’s advisor just might become your favorite person.

15. Have your own workspace away from others on the same show.

16. Be the good cop.

17. When David suggests something, it is not a suggestion.

18. Your labor numbers will get doubled. Deal with it. Then you’ll have time for pre-rig, dry-fit and getting stuff back from paints.

19. Build during build, install during install, do notes during tech, catch up on homework during the run of the show.

20. Remember, its just a school play.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Pictures from my desk

I was doing some housecleaning today in the office:

Thursday, November 04, 2004

And so it begins

Tonight I culled a list of 60 headings for a book. A new book that I will write. A book about Technical Direction. I have to write a book. Barbara says so, and Barbara knows what she's talking about. So I have to write a book.

I think I would like to be: "David Boevers, author of Theatrical Technical Direction." That would be cool.

Do you think the Excel people thought that the program would be used for outlining books? Is that why the default filename is "Book1?"

Will anyone want to publish a book about technical direction? There can't be too many people apt to buy the thing. I guess if it turns out to be a good college text there would be a few buyers and then maybe even a publisher. Could I then be one of those people that makes their class buy their book? That seems so crass to me. Maybe one's opinion changes once you're officially an author.

So, 60 syllabus entries with at least a once page lecture outline to go with each. So we're up to 60 pages and that's just the outline. A typical one page lecture outline generates between 2 and four pages of notes for someone in class. That would expand the thing to 180ish pages as a sentence outline. Expand that out to actual text and its likely 150-200% of that, between 270 and 360 pages. Charts, examples, and diagrams maybe another 30-40 and we're in the 400 page neighborhood.

That's too long. Too long by a bunch I think. I can't imagine any TD reading more than 150 pages about this crap. Guess I should look at some comparable texts for length. Still, nice to know there's something there before I really get started. I wonder what the next step will be.

So, How 'bout them Steelers?

I think they have a real good chance this year.


I guess it's a silver lining that we still all woke up Americans. It was nice of Mr. Kerry to remind us of that, although I'm uncertain its something I'm real proud of at the moment.

So, what did we learn?

  1. Even if Puffy threatens to kill them, only 1 in 10 people 18-30 will turn out to vote.
  2. All the blogs in the world don't equal a single vote.
  3. The True Believers ought to have voted their conscience.
  4. Calls from Mary J, P. Diddy, Spike, and Bill Clinton only help so much.
  5. Randi Rhodes will find some way to decide the election was stolen.
  6. Larry King really wants to go home and get to bed.
  7. There really wasn't a silent majority.
  8. "The People" want more of the same.
  9. Ralph Nader is probably right.
  10. John Kerry didn't blow up their shorts either.

But mostly I think what we learn is, there are more of them then there are of us. Often working in this industry I forget what the world is like. Living amongst artists really is a rarefied air. Things that my peers accept as second nature really are odd and sometime abhorrent to other people.

I found myself wanting to think that rather than the election being about Democrat or Republican or about Liberal or Conservative that it was about Enlightened and Ignorant. That people that think simply could not support the things that the President of the United States stands for, and that in the wake of this election performance that what the country needs is more public education. But really, although I think that would help I don't think that's what its really all about.

As the day wore on I think I became more comfortable with the idea that what the difference really is about is Progress and Tradition. It is a battle between a desire to have a forward moving lifestyle and those who are rooted in a traditional lifestyle. Its important to phrase it like that too. I don't think you want to make this about Secularism and Religion. There are devoutly religious people with a progressive view of the role of government. So really this is about a group of people more open to change than another group.

Maybe we should do a national production of "Fiddler."

Interestingly the skew to this axis, to issues on a progressive continuum makes the Democrats inherently weaker. When a Republican candidate takes a position on say gay marriage or abortion it unites their base. Often when a Democrat does it, it has the opposite effect, splitting the base. In a popularity contest we simply cannot compete with the Republicans on these types of issues because they are typically more energized than we are to begin with, and they are more comfortably in agreement. I am uncertain if there is an alternative to the traditionalists when you are talking about social issues. I'm not sure there really ever has been. Most of the ground staked out by progressives was cleared not by popular mandate, but rather by the courts and the protections the founders put into the constitution. When you give the entire country the choice they often don't go that way, and they certainly don't lead that way.

As much as anything else this election was determined by gays, guns, and god.

Like it or not it seems like progressives are in the minority. This is too bad for the electric car, universal health care, and publicly funded elections. Its too bad for gays, draft age kids, people without health insurance, and people without the discipline to save for old age. Its too bad for people that favor negotiation over military action, preserving the environment, and protecting America's standing and reputation in the world. Those of us that favor progressive courses are going to have to find other avenues to bring our ideas to fruition. For the time being, any public mandate will be in another direction.

Even though I've been mopey all day over the outcome, I've also been kinda guilty. See, I'm past draft age and have no kids, I have a job and health insurance, and I make decent money. Even though this was a lousy day for the country, the world, and the planet Earth, I think in the end it might be a fairly benign outcome for me personally. Maybe that's really what many of the traditionalists are thinking of when they make their voting decisions. Me? I feel dirty and I didn't even vote that way.

In the meantime, I think that Ben Roethlisberger kid is definitely for real.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Count faster

Well, I did my part. Went to vote and everything came off without a hitch - which is more than can be said for something like 1500 students in the area. Looks like PA will be Kerry country anyway, so on some level I guess we can all put on the flightsuit and say "Mission Accomplished."

However, much like the war in Iraq, it seems like it isn't going to be that simple. As of bedtime Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and a host of others are still running their scantron forms or counting beads or doing whatever they do there.

Guess I'll just have to wait for the morning. Fingers crossed...

Monday, November 01, 2004

Hey True Believer... NOT TODAY

So, soon it will be time to vote. Time for you to exercise your constitutional right to help to choose the leader of our nation. I just wanted to remind anyone out there who might have a touch of the idealist to perhaps spend November 2nd being a pragmatist.

I've touched this before, and Kevin Kostner touched it this week on Bill Maher, and if my Aunt Sarah were here she would chime in too to tell you that neither of these guys really blow up our shorts. That neither of them are inspiring, that neither of them will fix the real problems, that neither of them have vision, and that really for all intents they are the same.

Such is the litany of the Independents, Libertarians, and Greens. Its a depressing tale that asks for politicians to rise up above it, not to take the money, solve the problems at the root rather than salve the symptoms. This is the desire to have a candidate speak to us, not to interests, and to say the right thing instead of desperately avoiding saying the wrong thing. Here is the realm of publicly financed elections, single payer health care, and cars that don't run on gas.

Here is the desire of the true believer, the idealists paradigm of representative democracy. And all of these ideas and intents are lovely, BUT NOT ON ELECTION DAY.

Take these hopes and dreams and Wednesday start working on them again. Donate your money and your time to these absolutely worthwhile causes. Take your incredible energy into the streets, let your representatives know, and work to change the corporate culture. GO KID GO, but do it next week.

Election day, set aside the idealism for 24 hours and become the best case, become a pragmatist and put your vote where it can do some good NOW. Remember that even one step in the right direction is movement, and keep in mind how awful the current administration has been on all your issues. Take all that energy and turn it out for John Kerry and send the Bush administration packing. Do that, and Wednesday do your best to make the new administration miserable - but get the new administration first.