Friday, December 7, 2007

Episode III: Revenge of the TD

There is entirely too much to post here. I was going to continue my attempts at getting current with all my ideas and writings and thoughts and all that and then post something close to weekly on my progress at ruling Bristol, PA with an iron (yet loving) fist but hey, guess what? I'm knee deep in Load In right now and all of the sudden I care less and less about posting on MySpace. To post as I had intended would take hour upon hour that I simply do not wish to use sitting front of my computer late at night. There's sleep to be had, people. Still. I feel I owe you, my lov-ed ones, at least a little SOMETHING. So then, here is the last three of my intended postings . . . In bullet form.

Lemme explain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up:

  • I Hate my Table Saw. Now, when I say "hate," know that it is not a word I use lightly. My mother always taught me that when you say you "hate" something it is with nothing left. No love, no remorse, no hope for the future. When you stoop to finally hating something, you wish its demise. To kill it. We need reserve the word "hate" for only those things which we truly wish the world now lacked. Rape. Genocide. The Department of Transportation. When we hate, we mean it. So: I hate my table saw. It is old. It is under-powered (single phase power on a 2 HP motor in a professional scene shop is akin to handing a man a knife before entering into a gun fight). It is rusty. It is dangerous (it has an On/Off TOGGLE SWITCH instead of a magnetic starter which means that whilst the blades spins you have to reach underneath the damned thing to find a tiny toggle switch very akin to trying to find the light switch in the pitch black before your toe finds the couch's corner – now imagine this particular couch can cut your foot off). Somewhere in the inner workings of this small but gnarled and angry beast there is a part loose. I know this because every time I switch the fucker on I hear it rattle. I have looked for this piece but it remains hidden underneath the twenty-odd years of saw dust caked on the inner carcass. I know the only day that I will discover this phantom piece is actually some integral part to the belt aperture is the day when it snaps and sends a shudder through the motor's drive shaft that sends the blade whirling up through my kidneys. I can see this happening almost every time I flip the on switch. Clear as day. I kid you not when I say it fills me with a little bit of mounting dread every time I do. I do NOT want to give this thing a nickname of the "Widow Maker." It is high time the damn thing were retired and buried dead in an unmarked grave at a crossroads somewhere but seeing as I lack the $1200-$2000 I'd need to buy a better one, I must wait. Like a cobra.
  • Half of my Shop is Used for Storage. If I had to guess I would estimate my shop's square footage at something around eight to twelve hundred square feet. Nothing too shabby. Very nice, in fact. The ceiling's low (lowest point are garGANtuan i-beams at about twelve feet high) but the floor space is actually quite lovely. Well, it WILL be soon enough. Dumpster Day is coming and the crap in that back corner had better rue the coming of Dumpster Day. Most of the stuff in there is platforming: 4x8s, 2x8s, 4x4s and the like. THEN there are the wacky ones: 2'6"x2'6", 3'x5', 4'6"x7'3" (I'm not making that last one up, I swear to you). Platforms that are rhombus-shaped and therefore conceivably useful in the future but big and bulky and heavy and taking up an ENTIRE CORNER OF MY SCENE SHOP!!! All in all, what with the platforms and the odd pieces of scenery and the crapTASTIC storage rack on the opposite wall (I . . . I can't even go into that . . . I'm sorry) I think I've lost roughly half of my workable space. This might be a slight exaggeration, then again it might be eerily accurate. Only Dumpster Day can tell for sure. My ire is partially due to the fact that I don't have enough room to build the show I'm supposed to be building and partially because I don't believe you can sleep where you shit. Pardon the my crassness but if I'm storing things no one wants to throw away, where am I supposed to put the stuff I've just built? BRT is entering its twenty-first season but in some degrees they are still cutely ensconced in the small theatre mindset of Pack Ratting. "Don't throw that away! It took So-And-So three days and six hundred dollars to build that! We might be able to use it again." . . . "It's a to-scale foam replica of the French Barricade. When the fuck are we going to use that again?" Money not spent on materials is money best spent somewhere else. I realize that. Hell, I support that. Still, there must come a time when you say, "Out with the old!" and cut some fucking cords. Stored scenery, even scenery stored well in climate-controlled, single-unit isolated storage cells, has a lifespan. Scenery stored next to all the saws, hammers, building materials and groggy carpenters is guaranteed to get smacked around and damaged and then it's useless on stage again and then all it's doing is taking up space. My space. And I want some of that back. Dumpster Day is planned to be this Friday. My Production Manager is supposed to order a twenty or so foot dumpster into which just about anything I see fit to throw away gets thrown away into (if you're reading this, Scott – get on that, huh?). Of course, I plan on keeping those things that are truly useful. Those that are not must fight for their survival ala Gladiator. And right now, I've got a lot of lions at the ready.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Sucks. Long story short. I lost my SS card long ago and never bothered to replace it because doing so was such a ridiculous pain in my ass. In order to change my driver's license from MD to PA I NEED my SS card, no exceptions. And my birth certificate. Only, the birth certificate I received at my ACTUAL BIRTH was issued by Harrisburg Hospital (yes, if you're keeping track that IS the capital of PA) and not by the STATE of Pennsylvania; rendering it useless for the purposes of proving to the State of Pennsylvania that I exist. I do have a bill, proving my residency but that apparently is all I'm allowed to do here: Pay bills. After twenty years I have returned to the state of my birth only to be told in no uncertain terms I do not exist. Thanks Pennsylvania. You and your PennDOT can lick my shav-ed balls.
  • My Master Carpenter is Crippled. This would have been funnier if I'd posted it two weeks ago when it actually happened. I have two, maybe four on a good day, people to my crew. Anna is my MC. Scott is my PM and fly-by-night carpenter. Steph is my Scenic and Props mistress and when she's not doing both of those time-sucking jobs she's supposedly a carp as well. And Mike is a retired school teacher/motorcycle enthusiast/ex-military-volunteer-specializing-in-firearms who is bored in his retirement and helps out at the shop whenever he can. Now that you know the cast, let's read their bios: Steph has her hands full with her duel responsibilities and whilst Mike is a godsend and can make or break a successful day, I can't count on him because he's volunteering his time and if he's got other stuff to do that is more important, he MUST do those things. Scott's always going to have Production Managerial responsibilities to tend to and while he certainly can be handed projects with little to worry about, the amount of time he's actually able to put into the shop is part time, at best. I bear none of these people ill will for the other responsibilities. We all have jobs to do and we must all do them. How's that for zen? But that leaves me and Anna. Anna, the miracle worker. Good carpenter. Good instincts. Good work ethic and a sense of humor that'll keep me giggling even through the wee hours of the night. BRT did well to hire her on. But I swear to the heavenly gods who reign from the skies above if at the end of the first week on contract that girl did not slip off a Dag-Burn step and sprain her fucking ankle. Off her feet for two solid weeks; doctor's orders. Now I know shit happens. It was an accident, of course. Something to do with collecting her Chinese take-out for lunch that day and getting lost in the heavenly aroma of her egg roll and down she goes (she tells the story much better than I). But come on. Throw me a bone here, Fates. On the plus side, because I can't give her any real physical labor to do, our tool room is in near pristine condition. Oi . . .
  • There is Vast Room for Improvement. I'm picking my battles. I know Rome can't be built in a day and I know that even if I bitch and moan and cry and fuss I won't get everything I want/need/must have in order to do my job right. The MIG wielder and the metal-working area? Will have to wait. New table saw? As much as I know we need a new one, I'm willing wait until the moment's right and we have the funds or it finally blessedly dies on us and I MAKE them give me the money or some one loses a finger (I'm kidding, Lord – oh, sweet perky baby Jesus, I am only kidding about that). Until then, I'm biding my time. We don't have a speed square? No glue? For serious? Those're battles I can win! I still like a lot of my coworkers and like I said, the right attitude can go light years past where a lot of money can go. I'm wary, but I'm optimistic. The place has a lot of idiosyncrasies that aren't so much problems that want fixing but quirks that need adjusting to. I have to keep reminding myself I'm still technically in a honeymoon period. Give it time, Jake my lad. Give it time. My shop does have a kick-ass stereo system and I got a sweet, sweet drafting machine through a literally overheard freak bar-room discussion that's made my drafting work a breeze by comparison (LOVE that thing!); I practically made love to that thing when I first got it. My office has a couch. Cripes, I have an office! With a phone! Things could be worse. Who knows? In six months, people might not even recognize the place. "Where'd the hole in the wall go? And where'd this fab new scene shop come from?" I can only hope. . . . And in the meantime, sabotage the Widow Maker.

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