Monday, July 29, 2013


If you haven't read "Ready Player One" and we're roughly the same age, you really should do that right now...  It's nice to see income inequality making some press again.  It's like the President and the folks at The Newsroom coordinated message calendars...  I need a really good wire management solution - well, two really good solutions; one for a laptop dock and the other for a digital home theatre...  Do I need another watch?  Probably not...  Got a picture today I would really like to share with my folks.  That probably won't be happening...  I wish bugs weren't attracted to screens...  Four weeks gone and no Facebook requests from the prekies.  I guess maybe there's some learned behavior there kicking in...  If I had a basement arcade I would need a Tempest, a Defender, and a Galaga...  Looks like no Melissa this summer...  If anyone is keeping track, I've finished Ultraviolet 44 and have moved on to the second season of Breakout Kings...  TNT and TBS updated their iOS apps today to include live streams.  I wonder why they don't have similar Roku apps...  There's probably a whole new Technical Direction class in my Evernote.  Now I just have to remember to look at it, and find time for the content...  I'm with Ms. Warren, banking should be boring...  Speaking of, how long until we get a Capital Steps show:  Mrs. Warren's Profession?  Shouldn't take long...  Saw Mr. Hales on the TAITStages show tonight.  I think that's leaves on Mr. Siebert on my CMU/TAIT bingo card...  Missing my chat experience some I think.  Maybe time to look into a new desktop client...

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Trying to up the tempo.  Failing...  Two weeks of precollege left, which can only mean its like six weeks away from realcollege starting.  Too soon...  Is what Carlos Danger did really all that bad?  The MSNBC people called him a "serial digital flasher."  I don't know...  The righties are upping the hysteria level on the ACA.  Too bad when asked about the components of ACA people are overwhelmingly for it...  The Steelers started training camp today.  Life in Pittsburgh can get back to normal...  Is it worth doing crown moulding just to hide a cable path, or easier to take the wires through the ceiling?  It's a mystery...  The prekies are now aware of the existence of the blog; well my blog, my twitter, and Joe's twitter.  Haven't noticed any new traffic though...  Really beginning to think that the weekly newspage reader may be the most significant work I am doing these days.  Not sure where to come down on that...  The more we brush Bean the more it makes me think we should just take him to the groomer...  The home office is coming together nicely.  Just about 6 linear feet of wall to puzzle out and then I can move on to actually using it... Gonna have to take off some weight.  Suggestions are welcome...  Wondering if my job will be substantially different in the fall.  It has been the same for so long...  Still want to do an excel spreadsheet that automatically generates an infographic resume.  That would be such a cool tool...  Does anyone know why all of a sudden tweets from weeks ago turn up on other people's favorites list?  Seems kinda weird...  Trying to make some changes.  Can't seem to kick the Night-Own thing.  Once a drama student, always a drama student...  Haven't turned on AIM in quite some time.  Could it be over for me?  I have thought chat valuable in the past...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

The Paradox of Devised Theater on the Twenty-First Century Stage

HowlRound: For about a year now, my theater company, The Krane, has been working on a piece of devised theater called The Underground. During this period, we have, appropriately, been living in a kind of metaphoric underground bunker of ideas wherein what we are doing, in essence, is building a ladder to the surface of the contemporary stage. This ladder to the surface is complex. Our intent is that, once we come out from our den of creativity, we are able to reach a broad audience, while, at the same time, remaining true to the “underground” nature of the form.

Nickelodeon Computer Graphics Artists Overwhelmingly Ratify Union Contract Newly organized computer graphics artists have ratified a contract negotiated between the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, and Nickelodeon Animation Studios, the union announced Friday, with a Yes vote from 90.1% of the bargaining unit’s 61 employees who voted. (9 employees out of the 70 member unit didn’t vote.)

Why does the shadow in this unedited image cast a future action? This image hasn't been photoshopped or digitally altered in any way. So why is the shadow so out of sync with the frisbee thrower's action?

How Are Artists Getting Paid? How are artists who have been systematically denied fair wages and access to basic services like healthcare and unemployment protections gaining access to those things today?

Setting the Stage for a New Regional Theater

HowlRound: The budding identity of American regional theater is fresh ensembles creating devised work. Restructuring the conventions of traditional venues or reimagining the presentation of performance, these companies, such as Progress Theatre (Houston, TX), New Paradise Laboratories (Philadelphia, PA), Nature Theater of Oklahoma (Long Island City, NY), or Teo Castellanos D-Projects (Miami, FL), are breaking the proscenium and thrusting their work out towards the audience. They’re creating new structures of collaboration, story, casting, touring, outreach, and inreach. Working collaboratively, they have returned to the initial regional theater acting company model, where, as Zelda Fichandler once noted, actors have a home of artists that are rooted in a community. And like Fichandler’s early Arena Stage or Nina Vance’s early Alley Theatre, these new companies—while still being rooted in their respective homes—exchange their work with other communities across the country, and even the world.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Did We Learn Today?

Last Thursday I had the kids do this layout exercise I came up with last year...

(Actually this is a little harder than last year because last year's group finished off the thing more quickly than I had anticipated.)

The idea is to get them to do some full scale layout using constructions that we're doing in the Drafting class at the same time.  In order to do this you need to do the following:
  • Construct a perpendicular bisector
  • Construct an ellipse
  • Construct a pentagon inscribed in a circle
Once you get through those, there's some other stuff, but that's the meat of the thing.  The ellipse construction is best accomplished with what I was taught as the "Card Method" and what seems to also sometimes be called the "Trammel Method"

One of the reasons the card method seems so right for this is that you can mark each of the three different ellipses at the same time just by making additional ticks.

Here is one group doing some layout:

Fast forward to today.  I'd planned on using today's class to talk about various approaches to full scale layout beyond geometric constructions: cartooning, projection, full scale plot, CNC...  But before getting to that I wanted to take some time and walk through the solution to the previous exercise since one of the two groups kinda imploded.

I talked a little bit about initial layout and then how to do a 3-4-5 triangle with tape measures instead of doing the bisector construction.  Then we discussed alternates on how to do the ellipse layout starting with the "String Method" which drove us off on a tangent about locating the foci of an ellipse.  So we watched a little bit of a video from Kahn Academy:

After rounding out discussion of the difficulties of implementing the string method and the two circle method we went back to a discussion of the card method.  And here I asked them a question I really didn't have an answer for.

"Are these ellipses concentric based on the center point or on something to do with the foci?"

I still don't know.

If you look at the drawing, it is clear that the offset distance at the compass points are true to the given dimensions:

But I found myself wondering if laying out the inner ellipses via the card method and additional ticks actually gives you the shape on the drawing.

The answer to that appears to be a no.

If you put additional ticks on the card when laying out the ellipses you get an inner ellipse that is always exactly the same distance away from the outer one - although at this point the conversation becomes difficult due to the use of "always" because you have to ask "where and in what direction?"  We looked at it rather exhaustively...

What we discover is that if you construct a circle with a radius of the offset distance anywhere along the perimeter of the ellipse except the compass points then that circle and the inner ellipse have no intersection.  Not only are the ellipses not concentric about the center point, but aside from the four compass points the distance is not the offset distance anywhere.

For most of the class this had reached brain freeze level a while ago - now the cranial numbness had started to get to me.

Then one of the kids had the bright idea of drawing the inner ellipse as an ellipse with known major and minor axes rather than by offsetting the first ellipse.  So I did that.  FWIW the ellipse that generates matches the offset generated ellipse only at the compass points and no place else.  Also, this ellipse intersects the circle with a radius of the offset distance not at a tangent, but at two points.

My faith in CAD at this point is starting to quake.  Most of the ellipse generated by OFFSET is too far away and most of the ellipse generated by ELLIPSE is too close.

While we're at this another student does a quick Google search and comes up with something akin to this:
"Normally if you offset an ellipse in AutoCAD, the resulting object is a spline. Kent's routine creates an ellipse whose quadrant points are exactly the desired distance away from the equivalent points on the original ellipse. Other points along the new ellipse entity are not necessarily a consistent distance away from the old one, and that is why AutoCAD creates a spline."
Which I guess is saying that when you use the offset command on an ellipse you get something that is more of a mathematical approximation as opposed to a true geometric construction.  That could I guess be another way of saying "concentric ellipses" may be a somewhat more complicated concept than is belied by simply using the OFFSET command.

So, now for the sake of the exercise we have another question:

"As the person replicating the design in full scale, do I need to know specifically how the drawing was constructed in order to replicate it?

Since we had discovered that an ellipse created by OFFSET would be different than one created with ELLIPSE, can I possibly create a high fidelity execution with only the drawing?  The answer to this would appear to be no; a dimensioned drawing would not be enough to mechanically recreate the shape correctly.  In order to be truly faithful one would have to either project, or plot full scale or CNC from the design drawing.

Except probably not.  Setting the CAD unit tolerance to 1/256" the difference between the intended and actual ellipses created by the OFFSET command was still showing as 0'-0" on a DIST query.  The distance between the intended and the actual ellipses created by using the ELLIPSE command for the inner figure was 25/256" - less than 1/8" over 20' or probably not something that would matter in regular theatre materials in a regular theatrical scale.

But if you find yourself doing any enormous ellipses for an incredibly anal designer you might want to be wary of any drawing or file but the designer's original.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Blog something, loser...  I didn't watch even a minute of this year's Tour.  I blame Lance Armstrong...  Don't go to Costco while you are hungry.  It adds up quick...  That thing I used to do with people's AIM accounts just doesn't happen anymore.  I blame Facebook...  When they say "under Obamacare you may not be able to choose your regular doctor" they are being disingenuous.  You may not be able to choose your regular doctor as things were before ACA, and that won't change with ACA.  It's like the Koch brothers never heard the phrase "out of network."  But then they probably have really good insurance...  Supposedly we start the first mainstage build next week.  I'm not holding my breath...  I don't care about the royal baby unless they name him Gib5on - I've got dibs on that...  My summer of walking to work has included an awful lot of driving...  We're playing Settlers of Catan this week.  I guess I should figure out what that is...  For a week it seemed like everyone that authors in my feeds was at ComicCon...  I meant to see Pacific Rim on the Mills IMAX like two weekends ago.  Must not have been a priority...  Precollege is half over.  I gave drafting assignment #4 today, although everyone is still deep in assignment #3...  I'm up to the M's in my 50 states of shops on the tumblr - Maryland today.  I'm starting to try to come up with useful applications of the data...  We're doing something wrong with our precollege assistant hiring.  Alternately all of our students are doing something right in their summer job seeking...  I bought a refurbished freezer.  Now I find myself worrying that it will never turn off, or that when it turns off it will never turn on again.  No, I never have trouble coming up with things to worry about...  The real estate mogul plans flared again briefly this weekend.  Maybe after the refi...  For a moment I had my RSS zeroed out yesterday.  Now we're back up over 1000.  Maybe it's time to cull some feeds...  I really wish I would quit stumbling over "past" and "passed"...  They are going to hold up the debt ceiling over a repeal of the ACA.  Sure hope the Democrats stand their ground...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from this week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One

Shots - Health News : NPR: We open our hymnals to Hymn 379, and we begin to sing. "God is Love, let heav'n adore him / God is Love, let earth rejoice ..." Lifting voices together in praise can be a transcendent experience, unifying a congregation in a way that is somehow both fervent and soothing. But is there actually a physical basis for those feelings? To find this out, researchers of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden studied the heart rates of high school choir members as they joined their voices. Their , published this week in Frontiers in Neuroscience, confirm that choir music has calming effects on the heart — especially when sung in unison.

1214 Foundation To Produce Seussical: The Musical

Stage Directions: The 1214 Foundation aims to build a performing arts center in Newtown as “a living remembrance of the events of December 14, 2012.” To help achieve that dream the Foundation has recruited several august theatre names to its board, including lighting designer and creator of Theatre Projects Consultants Richard Pilbrow, noted New York entertainment lawyer Richard Ticktin and Michael Price, chief executive director and founder of Goodspeed Musicals. Its next steps towards making the dream of a memorial PAC come true will be a performance of Seussical: The Musical at Newtown High School this August.

Cheap Trick File 1 Million Lawsuit Against Canadian Music Festival

Music News | Rolling Stone": Cheap Trick have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Ottawa Bluesfest for a stage collapse that occured during the band's 2011 performance. The band has accused the music festival of "putting economic considerations over safety" at the site's main stage, which buckled during a storm.

The Spinning Lariat: It’s an art

Heave Media: It’s an art. That’s an answer I use frequently when people ask me why I love professional wrestling as much as I do. That answer leaves them confused at times. To the average person the words art and professional wrestling don’t really belong together, but what they fail to realize is how much of an art it really is. Television shows are considered an art. Stage plays are considered an art. Musical concerts are considered an art, why not professional wrestling? It, like the aforementioned forms, is also performed on a stage for an audience, so why doesn’t it get the same treatment? The quick answer non-fans like to use is because it’s scripted. So is CSI, what else you got? Oh, because it’s “fake.” Mind you, these are the same people who tune in by the millions to watch Academy Awards shows where guys like Russell Crowe get awards and praise for films they make because yes, Gladiator is totally real.

Historical Disney Princesses In Period Accurate Dresses Here’s an interesting take on the Disney princesses that alters their existing gowns into period-accurate costumes. DeviantArtist Claire Hummel researched different periods and then made adjustments so the dresses would fit a specific time in history. She even explains how she altered each dress.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are some posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

In Philadelphia, Actors' Equity celebrates a new century

NewsWorks: The union meeting at the Wilma Theater in Center City wasn't your typical one – but then, Actors' Equity isn't your typical union. Just the age range proves that. At one end of the Wilma lobby was 13-year-old Brigid Harrington of Long Beach Island, a member for two years. At another end were Center City residents Sylvia Kauders, who became an Equity member with her 1982 Broadway debut and Deen Kogan, founder and leader of Society Hill Playhouse, and an Equity member for more than 50 years.

Pasadena Playhouse ends 'lifetime' ticket perks after 19 years The curtain has come down on one of the best theater-going deals anywhere: lifetime subscriptions to the Pasadena Playhouse that were offered briefly in 1994 for a one-time, $5,000 donation. The playhouse recently finished informing nearly 200 households that had held the subscriptions -- worth up to $1,256 a year at current prices -- that they wouldn't be for life after all, but for 19 years.

HOLY CRAP, this puppet from King Kong: The Musical is INSANE How do you make a King Kong musical? Apparently just like this. Melbourne's Regent Theatre has constructed a giant King Kong for their musical adaptation of the 1933 movie, and it is completely nutso. We love it!

Hollywood Fights L.A. Bike Lane: 'It Just Ruins the Shoot'

The Hollywood Reporter: The Historic Core neighborhood is one of the most frequently filmed in California, often standing in for New York. But now SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the MPAA and Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, have banded together to exert pressure on City Councilman Jose Huizar to mitigate what they consider a nuisance.

Dialing Up a Hit? Influence Over Musical Is in the Crowd’s Hands Seven minutes into his new musical, “Somewhere in Time,” the Broadway producer Ken Davenport leapt off his stool at the back of the theater the other night, and began pointing. Not at the stage, but at a nearby laptop that showed — in a fever-chart line — the reactions of 60 audience members as they turned hand-held dials among three choices: “Love this part,” “Neutral about this part” and “Hate this part.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sunday, July 07, 2013


Got to watch the Open Ultimate Championship game live at home.  Be nice if they could make the leap from ESPN3 to ESPN2 (and cable)...  Sounds like the GOP is gearing up for another spat over the debt ceiling.  They really may be some of my least favorite folks...  The USB input on the projector is too slow to steam video, but probably fine for a standard presentation...  Since I got a stand for my laptop and connected it to a standard keyboard and monitor I haven't moved it...  Really, really enjoying the #NERDLAND show on the MSNBC Weekend lineup...  I may have screwed up a field trip for the prekies.  I'll try better next time...  I have a follow up V.E.T. visit for cat #1 tomorrow.  I am hoping that turns into a surprise visit for cat #5, but I'll have to catch her first...  After buying a cherry pitter so as not to poison myself putting cherries into smoothies I've decided that cherries don't add much to smoothies...  "Pitter" doesn't appear to be a word...  My new office machine is making my laptop seem slow - the circle of life...  I wonder if you never force quit apps in IOS if eventually your device just goes insane...  Went to see "This is the End."  I got the same "written in an afternoon" vibe I got off of "The Three Amigos"...  With all the discussion about Congress missing the deadline to keep student loans down we're missing the point that tuition is just too high...  Although I did dig the Cybermites, this season of Doctor Who is still testing me...  It seems to me like a "pumpkin chuckin" type event based on melon would be a great add to CMU Spring Carnival...  One week gone out of six for Precollege...  Maybe we'll get lucky and Congress will extend the voting rights act supervision to all 50 states.  Yeah, that'll happen...

Friday, July 05, 2013

Worth A Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Pennsylvania Considers New Tax Credit to Attract Game Production

TECHBurgher: The Pittsburgh Technology Council is endorsing a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to create a new Digital Entertainment Tax Credit as part of an expanded film tax credit. Just as the film tax credit has proven its ability to attract film production to our state, this new credit would create a powerful incentive aimed attracting investment in permanent gaming development centers in Pennsylvania.

Viola Davis on the Crisis for African American Actresses

Women and Hollywood: We're in a crisis mode as black actresses. Not only in the number of roles that are offered but the quality of roles. And therein lies the problem -- we're in deprivation mode. When you only have two or three categories for black's a natural instinct that if you throw a piece of cheese in a room full of rats that they are going to claw at each other, it's natural. At what point do we stop stepping on each other?

Seven stages of the Guthrie Theater at 50 Tyrone Guthrie recalled in his memoir that “even the audience had stage fright” when his new theater opened “Hamlet” on May 7, 1963. This was a new and nervy proposition — planting a resident company of established actors performing the classics away from the hot house of New York. “It is a long way from Broadway and the people have a sort of Scandinavian freshness,” Guthrie told Life Magazine in a picture story headlined “Miracle in Minneapolis.”

When unpaid internships are illegal

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

All In: A U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of interns and against Fox Searchlight Pictures because the intern's work on the movie "Black Swan" was that of an employee who should be compensated under the law and the Judge also certified a class action lawsuit. Chris Hayes talks with one of the plaintiffs in the case, his lawyer, and a labor expert on how this case could change the status of the intern class in America.

The Science Of How Applause Spreads In An Audience

Popular Science: Sorry, Toastmasters. When people clap at a performance, they're not really driven by how much they enjoyed what they saw, according to a new study. Instead, they decide how long to applaud based on the applause they hear around them. The research is part of a larger field in which scientists try to figure out how memes spread among people. Clapping is like a small, brief meme that moves its way through the limited audience watching a performance. And it really is just as infectious as a great gif or a communicable disease. When the researchers graphed the times at which people started and stopped clapping, the graph had a sigmoidal curve, like graphs of people getting infected and then recovering from a disease, the researchers wrote in a paper published this week in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Dog Days

It's been kinda slow here for the month of June.  Without a regular work schedule I did manage to get a little bit of a break.  It's even slower over at In Process, my tumblr of current goings on in the PTM world of the School of Drama.  There's been the odd shot of a really clean, empty room and a couple of shots of our brand spanking new 3-D Printer.  I was hoping for shots to be submitted from students away at summer jobs, but that has only generated a couple of pictures.

So that the thing wouldn't come to a complete standstill I started posting at least one link each day.  I started out with some resources and a couple of shop pages where we have a relationship with the company.  For a little while I just started different internet keyword searches and posting the first shop I could find.  After that I got the idea to try to post a shop for each state in the union, alphabetically.

Clearly I haven't been putting too much shoulder to the wheel, so some of the states get a cursory look and then a pass.  I'll come back to Arkansas later.

Today was H, and I think I may have found an escape job.  Attco, Inc. is a full service scene shop with offices in Hawaii. 

Wouldn't that suck?

After CSSI and TEN I've usually been of the opinion that I am not really interested in going back to a commercial scene shop.  Plus you know... Tenured Technical Director.  Still, I think I might set up a news alert on this company just in case something isn't going quite right in my already idyllic life.  If there has to be running away, this seems like a good place to run away to.