Misery, Mississippi — Day 11

My head hurts.

My stomach is queezy.

The room won’t stop spinning.

And it’s a full 24 hours after my drunken escapades.

Bourbon is most definitely NOT your friend.  I repeat.  It is not your friend.  It will sometimes masquerade as your friend, especially when it’s Bulleit Bourbon.  But never ever let your guard down.  It’s an evil, evil trick and you’ll regret having made that mistake.

I repeat bourbon is NOT your friend.

And how did I spend my hungover Friday.

I bought shorts.  Actually I bought four pairs of shorts.  They are green shorts.  Even though they are blue, brown, and khaki.  They are green.  I confused Kelly by this statement today.  I don’t know how they are green, but somehow these shorts are good for the environment.  I think it’s because the sun’s rays reflect off the whiteness that is my legs and is able to power a small city with the energy that is produced.

I also FINALLY got someone at my insurance agency to talk to me about car insurance.  I called four times and each time I was told that they would research my question and call me right back.  36 hours later I was still waiting.  When I called today, I was grumpy and said that if someone wasn’t able to answer my question after two days of calling, then I’d be happy to take my business to one of the other 1200 State Farm Insurance Agencies in the city.  That seemed to get there attention.

I was actually calling because after some research on line I discovered that there are car insurance policies out there for people that don’t own cars.  Yes, it’s true and I can buy protection for something I don’t even have.  Think of it as buying a condom when you are a lesbian.  So after two LONG days of calling I was able to confirm this fact, discover that in fact it’s only a few dollars more than the insurance I would pay just this week at rental company.  For a whole year.   And as of Sunday at 12:01 a.m. I’ll be fully insured to drive any car in the U.S.

After my insurance discussion, I went to the movies.  Since I have a new reader — Kelly.  I’ll let someone else explain what going to the movies means.

After the movies I came home to discover that I’d locked myself out of my room.  In my hungoveredness, I didn’t pick up my room key.  So I hung out in Kelly’s room and waited for the “RA” to show up and let me in.  Unfortunately, Kelly’s room is about three degrees cooler than the sun.   So by the time I was able to get into my room I was sweating like a pig.  Which is only funny because in case you didn’t know it…pigs don’t sweat.

And this brings me to the fun part of my day…

I’ll start by saying that I’m tired of being a grown-up.  I’m also pissed off that my friend Kelly has the hardest job in the company and is paid the least.  I’m also sorry that people don’t let her know how great she is…more often.  And I’m not just saying this because she’s reading either.

My day started with a production meeting.  I explained this last week for any newcomers.  The meeting was attended by me, the lighting designer and my M.E.  It was also attended by the stage management team, both TD’s, the prop person and the evil cunt Ashley, better known as the costume designer, used to be set designer.  For any latercomers she was fired last week from her scenery job because she’s dumb as a rock.  And this wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t true that a bag of rocks has a million times more intelligence than she does.

And so the production meeting started.  And “The Director” in all his usual flair began to stray from the known facts.  Suddenly he didn’t know what color the windows were.  He didn’t know what the banner looked like.  He didn’t know this.  He didn’t know that.  Which is all fine and we are used to it so we didn’t mind.  But then he did the unthinkable.  He turned at one point to the “used to be set designer”, from this point forward referred to as “Ashley the Cunt” and asked her what a piece of scenery should look like.  No one said anything.  We all kind of held our breath.  And she responded by saying “It’s in the drawing I sent ages ago.”  And once again we held our breath.  Well they held there breath.  I was biting my tongue to keep from flicking it across the table and knocking her off her chair.

And the meeting was finished but the damage was done.  By the time I was home from the movies I was pissed.  I was tired of the wishy washyness.  I was tired of the constant battle to get him to get him to decide something.  I was tired of his inability to show any appreciation for the hard work we are doing.  I was annoyed about this.  I was annoyed about that.  And more than anything I was annoyed that “The Director” had turned to “Ashley the Cunt” and asked her a question about scenery that we’ve designed and that she hasn’t been a part of in almost a week.

So I decided that enough was a enough.  Someone needed to say something.  And by someone I meant me, but I didn’t want to do it by myself.  So I arranged a meeting with “The Director”, the TD and the SM.  For tonight at 11:00 p.m.  What I wasn’t anticipating was “The Director” showing up at the house at 6:30 requesting me to go with him to get coffee.  But that’s what happened.

And so we get in the car and he asks me how things are.  And I say they are fine.  And he asks me again.  And I say fine.  And he asks me again and I say “they’re okay.”  And he says well what does that mean…and at this point I’m wishing that I were at home sleeping away my hangover.  I wish that I was at the dentist getting a root canal.  Or that I was at the doctor getting a colonoscopy.  But none of those things were true so I took a deep breath and said…”We are all a little frustrated.”

“By what?”

“By you.”

“What does that mean?”

“Just what I said.”

“No really, what does that mean.”

This went on for a bit.  Finally I took another deep breath and said that we were tired of the constant changing, we were tired of being made to feel anappreciated, we were tired of being expected to do things that weren’t our job.  And more than anything we were pissed off as fuck that he’d ever turn to “Ashley the Cunt” and ask her a question after the royal fucking she gave to all of us.  And she didn’t bring a condom either.  Actually the fucking she gave us was what my friend Sean calls the “Spit and Ram method.”  Fun for her, not so much for me.

Within seconds of this explanation of what we were bothered by, “The Director” shut down.  He stopped talking and began to sulk.  And then he got angry.  And then it became all about him.  No one appreciated him.  No one said thanks to him.  He was tired of doing everyone’s job for them.  He didn’t get paid extra to be a babysitter and design scenery.  Perhaps we might take a moment to think about him.  And then he began to fixate on the little things.  He wanted specifics.  I tried to maneuver away from them, but he kept asking.  And well there were too many examples not to know them so I started listing them off.  But then he became fixated on one example and could talk of nothing else.  Still angry and shut down.

Finally we get to Starbucks and he’s stopped talking and is just brooding.  We go into the store and he says nothing to me.  He grunts at the guy behind the counter.  We go outside we sit down.  I do have to say that I appreciated him letting me sit so that I could see the hot gay couple at the next table.  They gave me something to look at while “The Director” sulked.

And he kept it all about him.  At no point did he ever try to look at things from our perspective.  It was about his feelings and his efforts and our inability to see his hard work.  And as I sat there, I realized that it was sort of like breaking up with your boyfriend.  And it’s one of those times where you think this would be so much harder to do if the douche bag wasn’t such a prick.  And as you sit and listen the more you realize that you are doing the right thing.  That’s how I felt sitting there talking to “The Director.”

Finally the 14 hour cup of coffee ended and we headed back to the theatre.  He asked if we still needed to meet tonight and I said that I thought that we did.  And then he didn’t speak again.

I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.  I sat through rehearsal.

Damn for a two hour play it takes about four days.

And then after rehearsal Kelly and I head over to the local pub to have our meeting.

We get there we all sit down and I start by saying that “The Director” and I talked earlier today and that he’s aware of our feelings.  And he instantly made it about himself again and became uber-efficient director.  He wanted to cut right to the chase about all of these things.  He had always known what they looked like and had never wavered on any of these things.  And as he talked he became louder.  And it was clear that he was pissed.  And it was clear that none of us could understand what he was dealing with.  And it was clear…and I stopped listening.  And stopped trying to be diplomatic.  And then I started to tune him out, but that was hard because he was talking even louder and slamming his hand on the table and being irate.

And I snapped.

And I yelled at him.

And I yelled some more.

And I told him it wasn’t all about him.  That he needed to get over this angry shut down mode and actually try having a dialogue with us.  That if for a moment he’d stop being pissy and talk to us we might be able to work through all of this.  And it got slightly better.  It’s still all about him, but what can you do.  As Kelly says, yelling at him does no good and he just shuts down making your job that much more difficult so why do it.

At the end of the meeting i had decided (I do a lot of deciding) that we should talk to “The Director” and to the TD about some crap that’s going on with the the crew.  But since “The Director” was in a mood already we decided to just talk to the TD about it.

So fast forward about 30 minutes and join our show already in progress in Kelly’s room.

“So what did you want to see me about?”

“Just wanted to talk about some stuff we’ve been hearing about the crew.”

“Like what?””

(I’m doing all the talking.  Kelly ever the diplomatic one (as all good stage manager’s are) is just listening.)

“Well you know how Ashley took the show hostage by fucking us with the scenery design and holding it hostage.  Well Brian (the assistant TD) is doing the same thing with the crew.”

At this point the TD sinks into his chair and said “I thought that was happening I just hadn’t known it for sure.”

To summarize.  There is a power struggle on the side of Brian because he wants to be the head TD.  It’s not his job and he’s really not qualified for it.  He also got pissed when “The Cunt” was fired because it meant that a lot of work they’d already done had to be started over and the whole show was being reconceived and he felt like he should make more money.  My response to this initial statement was sure the crew should get more money but the rest of us should not.  It’s our job.  He no longer speaks to me because of this conversation.  He also made the mistake of telling the crew that they wouldn’t have to work after the first show opened.  (This has never been the case and had he asked we would have assured him that this wasn’t the case this year).  And so over the past two weeks, he’s become the hero of the crew.  And how’s he done this.  By casting himself as the good cop whenever possible.  He has become the dissenter among the crew.  He’s stirring the pot trying to cause trouble.  He’s announced things like, “It’s dangerous for the crew to work six, 9 hour days.”  “I’ve gotten you the afternoon off, because I know how tired you guys are.”  He’s also let it be known that he thinks the real TD is incompetent and he’s clueless.

He’s made no secret about these things.  And it all come to a head today when Brian and the head carpenter found out we were meeting with Eric to discuss the things we weren’t happy with.  They both announced they were attending this meeting and were going to let everyone know that the crew was no longer going to take the working conditions they were suffering under.  And well they let this get back to Kelly.  Who told me.  And since I’m always the one to stir the pot I decided that we needed to tell the “real TD”.

And so we did.  And he was shocked.  And taken aback.  And shocked.  But NOT surprised.  And then we had a VERY long discussion and I think the “REAL” TD is going to talk to the crew tomorrow morning and then he’s going to talk to the assistant TD and he’s fully prepared to fire him.

So by all means stay tuned for more exciting adventures.

And remember.  Bourbon is NOT your friend.

BTW…if you Google “Ashley the Cunt” this is the first image you get

Hot huh?

Pissed Off, Oklahoma — Day 9

I’ve been pissed off all day.  And it’s only gotten worse as the day has progressed.

It started off by being told that the company I’m working for won’t pay for my rental car.  I’m told that they took the rental fee out of the budget because I broke my ankle and surely I couldn’t drive.  I assure them that I can drive with a broken LEFT ankle.

I’m finally told that they’ll pay for the car, but not happily.  I have to pay for the car up front and they’ll reimburse me later.  The issue is, I’m going to have the car for five weeks and with insurance and rental fees it’s a lot of money.  So to have a car, I have to figure out how to balance the fee on a credit card that I’m using to pay for expenses, since I haven’t worked in almost two months.

What I was finally told was, that I could rent it by the week, get reimbursed each week and that way I’m only ever one week behind.  Sounded great to me so I made the reservation.  And this afternoon I picked up the car.  With the rental fees and insurance it’s 400 bucks…a week.  Which is a lot of money, but it is in my contract that I get a car for the five weeks that I’m here.  (I’m not expecting them to provide me with a car for the first week that I’m here that was on my own).

Before anyone starts.  Here’s the deal with the coverage your credit card provides.  Yes, it will cover the cost of damage to the car in the event of an accident and it will pay for the car if it’s stolen.  That is where coverage ends.  If by chance, I hit your car and cause you severe bodily damage and say your left leg has to be amputated and then you sue me for damages.  That is NOT covered.  And when you are getting insurance from the rental company, the liability is the expensive part.  Fixing the car is a set amount.  If I decide to sue it could be tens of thousands of dollars.  So I’m not willing to go without insurance.

I’d been told that I got a car while I was here so I rented it.

Fast forward to tonight.  At around 7:00 p.m.  “The Director” called to see if we were all meeting tonight to continue our discussions about the set.  I told him I didn’t think so, but I’d check.  To which he replied it’s fine if we don’t, I just want to make sure that we are all set.  I assured him things were fine and that we didn’t need to meet.

This is where things went south.  I thought I was safe, but then he says, “Well would you like to have dinner with me after rehearsal?”  Quick think of some excuse!   Unfortunately my brain wasn’t functioning and I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so I said okay.  fuck, Fuck, FUCK!

So I got home and started work on the actual lighting design that was due this past Monday.  I was told that the people who need the design are aware of why it’s late but I’m not 100% sure that this is true.  And I work and work.  And while I work, I chat with Kelly the SM on line.  And I work, and she works and we chat.  Around 9:00 I copy a drawing from another document to paste into my new document.  As I hit Apple “C” I get a message stating that the item copied is from a student version of the software and will cause my drawing to now have a watermark stating it’s created by a student version.  Okay, this is new.  Unfortunately there’s no way out of this message.  I want to back up and say no to this but it won’t let me.  So I close the file.  My program saves every five minutes so I knew that I could back up five minutes and start where I’d left off.  So I close the file.  And I open the file, and wouldn’t you know none of the changes I’ve made in the last hour are there.  fuck, Fuck, FUCK!  I start to panic a little.  It’s not like I’m miles into the project.  For the most part it’s prepping the document to start the actual drafting, importing the set, the electrics and the architecture of the space.  But I’ve now spent two hours on it and I don’t want to have to start over.

As I panic, I’m chatting with Kelly.  I tell her what’s happened.  She tells me not to get upset.  But still I’m pissed.  I continue to look and look.  It’s not there.  The problem with the new version of the software is that when it saves, it doesn’t actually save it to the file you are working on.  It creates a new file in a backup folder.  I became aware of this on my last project.  So I open every version of my file.  Not there.  Finally I tell Kelly she’s going to have to tell “The Director” that I can’t go to dinner because I’ve got to redo my work.  She tells me that she won’t tell him cause he’s in a mood so I can wait till rehearsals over and call myself.

As I say this, I figure out what I’d done.  The file is there.  In it’s entirety.  Yippee!  I tell Kelly and she says now I can go to dinner with “The Director”.  I try to talk her into going with me.  I beg her to go with me.  I threaten her if she doesn’t come with me.  I tell her I hate her.  Nothing works.  I am damned.

Around 20 minutes later “The Director calls.”  He’s on his way.  He has two actors with him that we have to drop off, then we’ll go eat.  He picks me up and we are on our way.  He drops the actors off and then he starts.  The soprano is a diva.  The tenor is too positive.  Kelly should be more on top of things.  Erin the assistant needs to shape up.  Andrea the other soprano is pushy and out of line.  This is all in three minutes.  At this point he asks me what I want to eat.  I tell him as long as it’s not the bar we eat in every night I don’t care.  As we were dropping the actors off we passed a Village Inn.  I suggested we go there because I could get breakfast which sounded great, and it’s cheap which sounds even better.

He immediately said no.  He wanted food that would stick to your ribs.  If that’s not Denny’s I don’t know what is.  So he suggested another place, that was far more expensive.  The real catch was “are they open?  So he calls.  They close at 10:00.  It’s 9:45 now and we aren’t even on our way.  I try to convince him that it’s never a good idea to be the last one sat in a restaurant but he poopoos that comment.  (He’s an over the top opera/musical theatre director.  Think stereotype and you’ve hit the nail on the head.)  We get to the restaurant at 9:56 p.m.  Fuck.  I hate this.  As a server I hate this.

We walk in the restaurant and as we are greeted by the host “The Director” makes a call on his cell phone.  He does this a lot.  At least half the time we are together he’s talking to someone else on his phone.  While he is talking the person who greeted us, leads me to a table.  Just as I’m about to sit down, “The Director” walks up and throws a hissy fit.  “Do we have to sit in a booth?”  “I hate sitting in booths.”  Did you request this booth?”  Exasperated he plops himself down and goes on a tirade about how he hates booths.  I apologize and bite my tongue.

We are greeted and we order.  Of course he gets an appetizer for us to share.  Which I can’t really afford.  Did I mention that I haven’t worked since April 1?  Dinner come,  we eat.  During dinner he bitches about everyone some more.  And then he starts asking stupid questions about the set again.  I just ignore him now, and just assure him that what ever he says is right.  And then after 12 hours dinner is over.

We are waiting for the check.

And “The Director” asks me if I figured out the car situation.  I tell him that I did and that I picked it up today.  He asks me if it’s the same deal the tenor got.  I tell him “no it’s more expensive.”  He asks how much.  And I tell him 400 dollars.  And he flips his lid.  “That’s more than the tenor.”  “That’s more than double what we thought it would be.”  “Why don’t you call the tenor and find out how to get a better deal.”  “We are not paying for that.”  “Why does it cost so much?”

When he calms down I explain the situation.  I am renting a car without car insurance.  Because I don’t have a car insurance I have to take the insurance that the rental company offers.  That is more than the price of the rental itself.  At which point he loses his shit again.

My two favorite quotes:

“It’s just stupid not have car insurance.  Why don’t you have car insurance?”

“We promised you a car.  We didn’t promise you insurance.”

By this time I was pissed and I was through trying to hide it.  I asked him what the alternatives were and that IT WAS in my contract that I would be provided a car.

He assured me he didn’t know but that the board wouldn’t approve this.  I told him to have the board give me a car then.

I suggested he rent the car and let me drive his new car.

I suggested that he put it on his credit card and be liable for the damages.

He of course said no to all of these things.  By this time I’m very angry.  I tell him fine.  I have the promise of a car in my contract.  If he’s unwilling to fulfill this obligation then I expect the monetary equivalent in cash, up front.  He doesn’t like this either.

He knows I’m pissed now and begins to backtrack but by now it’s too late.

I assure him that I’m fine.  I’m not angry.  I get up and hobble out to the car.  He asks me five times if I’m okay.  I grunt that I am.  But I’m not.

What I’ve found works with “The Director” is to let him think you might be pissed and walk away.  That’s the only thing that gets his attention.

I think by now I’ve got it.

Beating a Dead Horse — Day 8

I’m beginning to think the artistic director is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.  Or at least stupid.  Take your pick.

For the past week we’ve been holding evening meetings to decide what the scenery is going to look like after we fired the set designer.  Kelly, the stage manager, and I show up with solid ideas about what each scene should look like.  We then explain all of this to the director.  He asks questions and does his best to figure out what we are talking about.  When we think he’s grasped the idea we move on to the next scene.  This continues as we move moment by moment through the show.

And we think we are  getting somewhere.

And then today, we have a production meeting.  A production meeting is a time for all the production staff to discuss concerns and issues.  And so in the midst of this production meeting the director starts talking about things we have decided on.  And these have nothing to do with the meetings that we’ve had.  There are a few ladders in one show.  We decided that they would be wood.  Today he says, “We decided those should be aluminum, right?”  There is a beanstalk at the end of Act 1.  We had decided that to stay consistent with the other ladders this too would be a ladder.  Nope, wrong.  This is something the idiot set designer that was fired is now making, just like we didn’t talk about at the meeting.  And this continued and continued.

By the end of the meeting I was trying to figure out exactly why we were even spending time trying to help him.  He listens to our ideas and then goes in an entirely different direction.  I think the one that clinched it for me though, was dealing with this huge platform designed by the idiot set designer.  It’s a large raked disc that is 17 feet wide.  This is huge.  It takes up more than half the stage side to side and almost all of the stage up to downstage.  It was a very bad idea but unfortunately by the time she’d been relieved of her duties it was almost built so what can you do?  The original idea for the platform was for it to break apart into three pieces that could be used separately.  This would be great if the director could visualize anything, but he can’t.  So for show number 3 he’s completely at a loss as to what to do with them.  So at our meeting several days ago, we decided that the platform would stay as one piece and would move around to different places that help define the ideas of the scene.  This was settled on and a approved.  So much so that we’d told the tech director not to worry about letting it break apart.

And then Mister Director comes into the production meeting.  And he has little sketches.  And the platform is broken into multiple pieces.  We were all annoyed more than anything.  He doesn’t seem to understand that he can’t continue to change his mind.

And then he wanted to meet again tonight to look at Act 2 of show 3. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.  It’s not like anything we are going to say is going to make a difference.  He’s so wishy washy that at the bar tonight where we were meeting, he actually called the waiter over and asked if we could PLEASE order.  The waiter looked at him like he was stupid.  And why you might ask, because we had ordered 15 minutes before hand.  This is what we are dealing with.

So we discussed Act 2.  And we asked again what the deal was with the ginormous platform.  And we asked again about the beanstalk.  And we tried to make sense of it all.  And as we left the bar, we all looked at each other and said, “You know he won’t remember a word of this tomorrow.

But the most fun moment of the evening.  He looked at Kelly and me and asked when he was going to get sketches, or renderings or a model.   A model would be great.

Without missing a beat, I said, “You’ll get those when you hire a set designer.”

He thought I was being snarky (my new favorite word) but I think he got the point.

Day 7 — Tornado, WV

I slept late today, which is not surprising since I didn’t get to bed until almost 7:00 a.m.  The late nights have to stop if I’m ever going to get any work accomplished.  I also don’t like sleeping my whole day away.  It was almost 4:00 p.m. when I woke up and by then it was too late to do anything constructive during the day light hours.

I did go the movies tonight.  I saw Made of Honor.  My roommate said that I was out of my mind to have seen this movie.  I, however, think it was the perfect way to spend the early part of the evening.  It was mindless entertainment.  It required no thinking.  No thought at all.  It was light and airy and after the week that I’ve had it was nice to just sit back, eat my popcorn and lose myself in the cuteness that is Patrick Dempsey.

Right now I’m waiting to meet with the Technical Director whose in charge of the building the set and Kelly the stage manager.  We have to figure out some things concerning the set.  We also have a list of things to talk to the TD about that were mentioned to us last night by the director.  The director gets very bogged down in the little stuff and loses sight of the big stuff.  I’d like to tell him that no one cares what the birds are going to look like when the rest of the set doesn’t exist.  I’d also like to tell him that he needs to be a little more open to the realization that we don’t have three months to make these decisions.  We have about 30 minutes.  And I got more than a little pissed off today when he complained about having to meet on his day off to figure these things out.  It’s my fucking day off to, and I’m not even the set designer.  I’m the lighting designer and I’m not getting paid extra to figure all of this shit out.  That’s what I’d like to tell him.

At the moment we are having a more violent storm than we did last night.  It’s raining like nobodies business and the thunder is shaking the walls.  We have tornado watches out and the weather is supposed to only get worse as the night progresses.  The storm we are experiencing right now is supposed to be moving out of the area in the next 30 minutes or so, but there is a much worse storm behind it that should be here in about two hours.  Ah, the beauty of living in the Land of Tornadoes.

Since the weather is bad, I’ve decided to stay put in Tornado, West Virginia tonight.  If things are clear tomorrow I’ll be happy to move on.

Not much else to report today.

Making My Mark on the World — Day 6

I’m about to go to bed.  It’s 6:11 as I type this.  I’ve spent the evening in Loretto, Kentucky.  Loretto is best known as the home to Maker’s Mark.  As someone who grew up in Kentucky, you learn from a very early age that bourbon is part of your heritage.  Bourbon, thoroughbreds, and tobacco.  I don’t smoke, so that’s not really me.  I love the horse races, but it’s a different beast when you live in New York.  In Kentucky it’s a gentlemen’s sport.  In NYC it’s for the masses.  I spoken to my friends often about the difference between see horses race at Keeneland, versus anywhere else.

In Kentucky when you go the races you are expected to dress nicely.  You sip on mint juleps and enjoy the day.  It’s an air of civility.  That’s not the case when you travel outside the state.

So I spent the night in Loretto, enjoying their drink of choice.  Maker’s Mark. Usually I drink beer, but over the past couple of years I’ve learned to drink bourbon and I have to admit that it’s quite tasty.  Actually, I learned to drink it in graduate school.  When I was growing up, there was always bourbon in the house.  There were bourbon balls at Christmas and hot totties, if you were feeling ill.  And I hated it.  However, when I was in grad school, I lost my voice just as I was starting tech for a show.  Tech for a lighting designer is the most stressful, fun part of the experience.  You spend all day on headset, talking to your board op, telling them what to do.  Not having a voice in just unacceptable.  So a friend suggested I sip on bourbon.  It coated my throat and got me through the two weeks of tech.  And during that two week period I learned to like it.  And now every once in a while I get the hankering for some bourbon and tonight was that night.  And I have to admit it was tasty.  And since Maker’s Mark is made in Loretto, Kentucky, I thought I would spend the night there.

As I type this the most wonderful thunderstorm is going on outside.  The rain is pounding at the window and the window is being lit up by lighting.  Every so often the walls are shaken by thunder as it roars through the night sky.  It’s the first thunderstorm I’ve experienced in a long time and it’s great.  If and when I finally get to bed, it will be great sleeping weather

And with that I think it’s time for bed.  I have many things to share with you, but I think they’ll wait till tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day.

Whirlwind Day — Day 5

There’s something about me and bad things happening.  For a recap, while I was in Iowa:  3 fire alarms, one earthquake, one snow storm, one tornado, one broken ankle.  Good thing I left when I did.

I’ve been in Tornado, West Virginia only five days and wouldn’t you know it we had a tornado.  Actually it was about 2 hours east of where I am in Kingfisher County.  We didn’t even have rain today although the weather was certainly tornado weather.  The air was thick and the temperature was hot.  And it’s still hot.  I do have to admit that I was a little nervous today watching the storm warnings on TV and seeing just how close the storms were to me.  This is always worse when you are traveling because you don’t really know just how far the storm is from you because when they show the map it looks like it’s just down the street.

So in honor of the weather today I decided to visit Tornado, West Virginia. Population 1,111 in 2000.  It’s a quiet little place that’s named for a whirl wind of protest to reopen the post office in 1881.  So the federal authorities decided to name it Tornado.

Except for the heat the day was fine.  I got up early and went to rehearsal.  They were running most of Act 1 of the second show that I’m designing.  It’s okay.  It’s still rough so it’s hard to know what it’s going to look like.  So I’ll try and reserve my judgement for next week.

After rehearsal I came home and took a nap.  Before I went to sleep I was watching TV and saw the reports of the bad weather.  Like I said, when you don’t know how close it is to you, its a little disconcerting.  Then I took a nice three hour nap.  It was almost 7:00 when I woke up.  I was having a dream about having sex with a woman.  Trust me it’s worse than you think.  After the nap Kelly and I ran off to my least favorite store to pick up a few things and then went to the Olive Garden for dinner.  It’s an awful place, but the food’s not bad for Mid-American Italian.   And it’s cheap.

And then we came home and started drinking.  It’s what we do here.  We work hard, and drink beer.  Everyone else went to bed around 3:30 a.m.   I’ve been up for the last hour checking email and playing online.  But I think it’s time for bed.

Before I go, just wanted to let you know that Tornado, West Virginia is just 15 miles from Hurricane, West Virginia. Population 6,071.

Why Not? — Day 4

Why?  Why not?  I decided to venture to the southwest today to the lovely little town of Why, Arizona population 113 as of 2000.  It’s called Why because it’s the “Y” intersection of state routes 85 and 86.  At the time the town was named it was a state law that all towns had to have at least three letters in their name.  Thus it was named Why.

It’s about 172 miles from The Glory Hole Mine.  But that’s another story.

And what fun did I have in Why?

I tried sleeping late but the ME and assistant ME decided to come calling at 9:30 a.m.  I’ve tried to explain to them that I’m not a morning person.  Especially when I don’t go to bed until 5:00 a.m. I also don’t think they need to wake me to find out what to do next.  Figure it out or wait till I’m awake.  Or perhaps I can wake them at 5:00 a.m. just before I go to bed to let them know what they need to do the next day.  And before anyone suggests that I should tell them what to do before I go to bed, I didn’t walk into the house until almost 1:30 and they were long since in bed.

After I told them I didn’t care what they did, I went back to sleep.  I slept until about 12:30 when they lovely boys called again.  Ugh.  They just don’t get it.  They wanted to know if I wanted them to do anything before they left to get lunch.  I said no as long as they brought me back lunch.  They did but unfortunately it was Taco Bueno and in the world of fast Mexican food it sucks.  So we chatted about what they needed to do the rest of the afternoon.  And at the end of the discussion I was told that they would just wait till Monday to do it.  I explained that I wouldn’t have told them what to do if I had wanted them to wait till Monday and that since Monday was a holiday, it wouldn’t happen till Tuesday and that was too late.  Ugh.

And then I listened to the score of one of the shows we are doing.  It’s a very well known show but it’s the one I know the least.  So I read along and listened to the music.  It’s okay.  It’s not my favorite show but it’s okay.  I can understand why people like it so much.  I got through both acts and then played around online, read some blogs etc.

And then it was time to go watch a run through of the first show that I’m designing.  It’s a VERY well known show that has multiple movie versions and most people know at least a couple of the tunes from the show.  And well, it’s bad.  First off the young male lead is played by someone older than me.  He’s supposed to be 21.  His love interest should be around the same age.  She’s even older.  The old woman is clearly younger than the two young people and weighs about 300 pounds.  It’s very interesting casting.  And then EVERYONE speaks in these weird affected voices that sound stupid.  The play takes place in the late 1800’s and has supposedly been modernized majorly although not a single line of the text has been altered and the show is quite confusing.   And I’m terrified that it’s going to be my job to make sense of the whole thing with light.

After the rehearsal the director, stage manager, and two TD’s gathered at Why’s favorite pub and continued our discussion of the scenery changes.  When the TD’s priced out the cost of the changes to the set we were 7,500 dollars over budget.  Whoops.  Most of this had to do with the realization that they’d never been able to cost out the original design because they never knew what it looked like because we never got any drawings.  After much debate, and discussion we were able to cut off about 2,500 dollars worth.  Who knows what they are going to do for the rest of the money.  All I know is that it’s not my fault.  And it kind of annoys me that the artistic director/director never picks up the tab.  I pick up the tab all the time with my crew.  I figure I make more than they do, and it’s a nice way to say thanks.  I don’t think the AD gets that.

And now I’m in my very modern room at the local Why sleeping spot.  And I’m about to go to sleep.  I got some very fun suggestions as to where I should go tomorrow.  All this traveling is start to exhaust me.  But that’s why I’m getting paid the big bucks.

Day 3 — Cando, North Dakota

When I woke up today I was in Cando, North Dakota, population 1, 235.  So named by Capt. Prosper Parker who on February 14, 1884 said,

“…and in virtue of our authority we select this location and name the town ‘Cando’ to show you that we can do it.”

It’s a lovely little town although it’s a little hotter than it was in NYC.  The temperature here is getting up to the 90’s each day.  So I’ve sort of gone from winter to summer with out the chance to see spring.

So it’s been an interesting day overall.  I didn’t get to bed until almost 5:00 a.m. this morning.  We were up late trying to decide what to do with the firing of the scenery designer, how to proceed once it was done, and what we were going to do if she did decided not to do costumes which she is also designing.  So around 5:00 I finally got to sleep.  At around 9:30 there was a knock on my door.  I ignored it.  At around 11:00 there was a knock on my door again.  So I asked who it was.  It was Mike, my assistant master electrician.  So I got up and opened the door and asked him what he wanted.  He told me they had found the TV that I was looking for and had brought it to my room.  I said great and asked them to bring it in.  As they walked in they started giving me shit about still being in bed, and then I explained that I was up late and that unfortunately this time it wasn’t drinking beer.

And then I went back to bed and slept until the alarm went off at 12:30.  The little meeting we were having to deal with our problem was supposed to start at 2:00.  At 2:00 when no one had come by to pick me up, I called to find out what was going on.  I was informed that the meeting was pushed back to 3:45.  Damn, I could still be sleeping.

So at 3:45, Kelly the stage manager, and I arrived to take part in the execution.  We were both a little nervous because we weren’t sure how the set designer was going to react.  And so we all took our seat around the table and the artistic director started.  And if I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn he was about to give her a raise.  He was praising her efforts and telling her how much we appreciated her work, and blah, blah, blah.  Then he said that he felt she should concentrate more on the costume designs, since she seemed overwhelmed by it all.  She admitted that she was, but felt it was all coming together.  He then told her that I, along with the two TD’s and Kelly would be willing to take over some of the duties and that she would now be more of a consultant.  And so it continued, and finally he stopped and said, “Does anyone else have anything they’d like to add?”   And well, I did what had to be done.  I set the record straight.  I made it clear that she was no longer going to be dealing with the scenery designs, that we as a group would make any future decisions.  I told her that we would do our best to honor her concepts but things had to change to make the shows work.  I told her that the reasons we were doing this was because there were major design flaws and we didn’t have two weeks for her to figure out the problem and fix it.  I told her that we appreciated the work the she had done, but that we no longer needed her help.

To which she said, “This is the color the of fabric I think we should use in Act 2.”  And we all just looked at her.

And I said, “Okay.  We’ll take that in to consideration.”  To which she said, “When do you want paint elevations (small drawings of what the painting of the show looks like so the scenic artist can paint it to look like what it’s supposed to look like) by.  And we all just looked at her.

To which I said.  “We don’t need paint elevations.  I don’t think we’ll be needing anymore information from you at all.”  And then I added, “Well is there anything else we need to discuss, because if not then I have a lot of work I need to do.”  Thanks.”

And thus I fired my first person from a job.  It was kind of fun, in a Mean Girls sort of way.

Kelly, and the two TD’s and I gathered at a local pizza place to figure out what the set was going to look like.  We made some executive decisions and came up with a game plan.  We figured out what each show needed, how we could accomplish it, and whether we could afford it.

And then we went to the artistic director’s house (at 11:30 p.m.) to discuss our ideas with him.  He’s not the easiest person to deal with.  He gets bogged down in the little things and forgets that if we don’t figure out the big picture the rest doesn’t matter.  It took almost 2 hours to get through the first show.  And we still had two more to go.  Each time it was a matter of keeping him focused and explaining our ideas.  There were also a couple of times he said, “But that’s not what we talked about.  The scenery designer said it would look  like this.”  And I would politely say, “Well then perhaps you should be meeting with her, and we can all go home and go to bed.”  And then he would sigh.   There were also a number to times he told us what the original ideas were and none of us had even heard of them.  It would have made the afternoon a little more productive if we had known all of this stuff.  We left his house around 2:30 a.m.  We were all wiped out and one of the TD’s was very cranky.  He’s convinced himself that it’s going to be too much work and it can’t be done.  We are hoping that he’s just tired and that some sleep will help him change his mind.  We’ll see.

And that my friend is Day Three in Cando, North Dakota. I chose to go to Cando today, because if there was ever a day that I needed to remember that I can do, it’s today.

Where I should go tomorrow?

Day 2 — Study Butte, Texas

Down here on the range in Study Butte, Texas. It’s been a very excitin’ day if I do say so myself.

Woke up with a serious hangover. And I was tired. Together they were kicking my ass. I didn’t mention in my post last night that we had been drinking for about a million beers last night. It started with just a couple of us and I think by the end there were about 10 people in my room. I was having a great time. And since I’m the one with the fridge, I’ve become the keeper of the beer.

So what’s new to tell you. Got to Study Butte yesterday around 11:00 a.m. Went straight to the house to drop of my one piece of luggage. I say one piece because it seems that one piece was missing when I got to Study Butte. Did you guys know that American Airlines flies to Study Butte? So I was told that it had been put on a different flight and would be in at 2:30. On the way to the house we stopped and grabbed lunch and I came back and got settled. I wanted to take a nap but there was no time. By the time I finished lunch and chatted with my best friend Kelly, it was time to head to the doctor.

I had another orthopedist appointment yesterday here. I had decided that I hated the boot that they put me in and that I wanted to get the cast put back on. The doctor yesterday said that in the time that he’s been doing this NO ONE has ever come in to get the cast put back on, everyone wants it taken off. So I headed to the doctor and it was a very long experience. They insisted on taking new x-rays even though I had just had them shot on Thursday. Then I talked to the PA. And then the doctor. This doctor was a little more clear about what was going on. Yes, my foot is healing fine. No, there is no reason for concern. But no I won’t be walking on it anytime soon. I have to go back in two weeks for new x-rays. At that time they’ll determine whether the cast comes off and whether I can start walking. Even if I’m allowed to start walking, I’ll be in a boot for six more weeks. The place thats broken is very delicate and has to heal completely or it’s going to give me nothing but grief the rest of my life.

While at the doctor I got a lovely blue cast. It’s really pretty and I like it so much more than the old one.

Here’s a picture of the PA that was with me most of the day. He was dreamy.

After the doctor, which took two hours. I headed back to the house. There I met bunches of new people and waited for my friend Kelly to get home from rehearsal so I could get the keys to her car. I was on a mission to get everything I needed for six weeks in Study Butte, Texas.

Luckily Study Butte, Texas has a Bed Bath and Beyond. Who would have known? At BB&B I had to get the little foam thing you put on two twin beds to make them a king size bed. No twin for me this year. I also wanted to get champaign flutes and martini glasses for Kelly. It took a while to find the bed thingy and being on crutches didn’t help any.

Then it was off to Target. I needed to get a prescription filled and then pick up all the other things I needed for my room. First, sheets. I wanted the cheapest king size sheets they had. Unfortunately they were still expensive for disposable sheets, but what can you do. Then I needed a blanket, since the air conditioning runs at full tilt not that I mind. Well wouldn’t you know that the cheapest blanket they had was almost 60 bucks. But they did have king comforters for only 25. I was going to buy the blue one, but then I was persuaded to go into a different direction.

Here’s a picture of me on my new comforter.

Sexy!!!

After target we stopped at the local liquor store. In Study Butte, Texas you can only get real beer in a liquor store. If you go to the Kum & Go it has less alcohol in it. And god knows we need all the alcohol we can get. Actually last year I kind of made it the habit that I supplied a lot of the beer that my crew consumed. I get paid a lot more than they do and they work hard for me so the least I can do is give them beer once in a while.

I’m already helping them get rid of it.

And then I took my Master Electrician and Asst. Master Electrician out for dinner. I’ve tried to do that on all the shows I work on. I treat my crew to dinner and it gives us a chance to chat about the shows, the process and what I expect of them. We had Mexican food that was YUMMY!

Then it was back to the house to drink and chat. I think I got to bed around 4:30. Tipsy, VERY tired and ready to hit the sack. Of course I had to be up at 8:30 for a production meeting so I was a bit tired today as well. Luckily the four hour nap I took this afternoon took care of that.

And to end tonight. I’ve mentioned on here that I’ve had trouble getting the information I needed from the scenery designer to start my designs. I’ve sent many emails, and made pleas for information. Each time I was assured that I would get what I wanted, and well it never materialized. Well the scenery designer had a deadline today that she met. And so I got to work this evening figuring out what was what and trying to make sense of it all. I realized almost immediately that there were some mistakes. Then I realized there were many mistakes. So at around 11:30 p.m. I got together with the two technical directors who are building the show to try and make sense of the drawings.

I could stretch this out, but about an hour into it, something clicked and I clearly saw what she had designed for the first time. And in that same moment realized how fucked we were. She had made the mother of all design mistakes with a piece that’s already been built that’s 26 feet tall by 10 feet wide. The mother of all mistakes. So as soon as I realized what I was seeing I pointed it out to the 2 TD’s. They were like — OH SHIT! So we continued looking and realized that there were a series of these mistakes that should have and would have been caught a month ago if she’d actually turned her designs in on time.

So tomorrow (Thursday) at 2:00 p.m. here in Study Butte, Texas the scenery designer is officially being relieved of her duties. After we discovered these series of mistakes I called the artistic director and told him what we had found and then just told him, that it was time. She had to go. He’s been putting up a fight about it all night but he realizes he’s fighting a losing battle. The only person willing to give her another chance is him. The rest of us are ready to get rid of her. And so we are going to meet with her and let her know what the problems are and that we’ll try to honor her design as much as possible but that she is, as on now, relieved of her duties.

Of course I’ll have complete coverage of all the festivities here in Study Butte, Texas.