January 31, 2012

Battleship in a Bottle

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 3:45 am

This has nothing to do with anything, but I just have to share what I spent my evening doing:

I had been looking for some kind of hands-on project for a while, even considered the idea of building something geeky in a bottle, and had given up. Then today, while looking at all the stuff on my shelves and categorizing the things I don’t need, my eyes rested on the less organized part of my shrine to the ’80s (yes, I have one, and yes, it includes a Voltron), where I realized I owned a Battleship set. I didn’t even remember buying it (it’s not the one from my childhood — thanks, mom!). Suddenly what needed to go in the bottle became clear.

And thus, I put on seven episodes of West Wing, and this came out the other end.

Really, I am doing a reading in 2 weeks, and I have two jobs in April. In the meantime, I am literally whittling.

July 14, 2011

KP vs. Summer in the City

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 9:12 pm

Since I’m not doing summer stock this year, this is the first time I’ve been in the city during the summer in 7 years. I’ve already gone back to my old habits.

July 8, 2011

Shuttle Memorabilia

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 7:22 am

I was poking around my parents’ house recently when I stumbled upon my favorite hat of my childhood:

I think I probably got this at the Air and Space Museum when I was about nine or ten. Sadly after 20 years the hat is so deteriorated that it’s not wearable, so I won’t be able to have it on while watching the final shuttle launch.

I will be wearing the pin, however (it’s Discovery, not Atlantis, but whatevs). Here’s a closeup of the pin:

I was a total space geek when I was a kid, so to rediscover these prized possessions just before the end of the shuttle program was a nice surprise.



June 16, 2011

Profound Observation

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 11:54 pm

This is probably the most profound thing I’ve ever read on Twitter:

In 50 years, a bunch of 80-year-olds will know all the words to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.

Sadly it’s been retweeted so many times I don’t know who to originally attribute it to.

I’ve never had much interest in aging, but now I can’t wait for my generation to be 80. Hearing an entire nursing home bust out into the Fresh Prince theme song is going to be awesome. And you know it will happen somewhere in America every day.

July 19, 2010

It’s a Twister!

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 9:20 pm

So we’re having a big thunderstorm, as this area is wont to have in the summer (which is part of the reason I like spending my summers here). The screams of my actors up and down the halls made me aware of the fact that we’re under a tornado watch. Apparently it’s all over the TV, but my TV doesn’t have a remote, so I refuse to move it from Channel 56 down to the kind of channels that would carry local news.

Weather.com and WeatherBug on my iPhone mention severe thunderstorms and hail, but nothing about a tornado. Not sure if it’s much ado about nothing, or if they just want me to get unsuspectingly killed or transported to the magical land of Oz.

My apartment faces away from the direction the storm is coming, so when they knocked on my door I took the opportunity to visit one of the apartments facing the other way. It does look a little bit scarier, but there’s a big building blocking most of the horizon on that side so it’s hard to really see.

The reason I’m blogging is because when they came to tell me, I quickly packed a bag before going to visit the other apartment. In about 10 seconds I decided on what to pack as a stage manager preparing to ride out a tornado:

  • My everyday flashlight
  • That other flashlight, too
  • And yeah, that other one that can be used like a flare
  • And the other one that’s the same as above but in another color
  • Car keys, just in case that somehow becomes useful
  • Laptop? Probably not necessary. After all I have my iPhone.
  • Laptop. Because if I survive and my apartment doesn’t, I’ll be really pissed that my brand new laptop got destroyed because I was too lazy to carry five more pounds with me.
  • I also packed my space pen without even realizing I did it.

So now I’m back on my couch watching the storm, and will try to get some work done on Hairspray before we all blow away.

What I Learned Today: Camels in North America

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 8:17 pm

I was just doing preproduction for Hairspray wasting time reading Fark, when I came across this article about some fossils discovered in California, including ancient camels.

I had no idea that camels were known to have lived in North America, but apparently this isn’t the first time remains have been discovered.

Upon further research, Wikipedia states:

Fossil evidence indicates that the ancestors of modern camels evolved in North America during the Palaeogene period (see also Camelops), and later spread to most parts of Asia.

So that made me curious about what exactly the Palaeogene period was, and how the camels might have traveled from North America to Asia. Here’s a picture I found of where the continents are believed to have been located at that time (65.5 ‚Äď 23.03 million years ago):

Looks like that move would be kind of hard. Did they swim? Did they build boats or airplanes? Blimps? Did the aliens that built the pyramids bring them from North America to Egypt to use as work animals? Because that would be weird if a species capable of interstellar travel needed camels to pull stones. As you can see, this new piece of information that somehow escaped me for 31 years has raised more questions than it has answered.

May 10, 2010

Jury Duty or Stage Management Empathy Training

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 2:51 pm

This week I had jury duty. Actually I was summoned for March 3rd, but as I would have been performing R&J in Poplar Bluff, MO that night, I got a postponement, and happily received a revised summons for the exact date I requested, right in the middle of my month of unemployment. I don’t have any problem with doing my civic duty when I’m unemployed, but I live in terror of getting a summons when I’m supposed to be in rehearsal, or being offered a job on short notice and having to turn it down because of jury duty. So I was thrilled to get the second summons, because I want nothing more than to get it over with and rest peacefully knowing that that dreaded envelope can’t appear for another six years.

I had mixed feelings about whether I wanted to get a trial. At some point in my life I definitely wanted to experience it, but with the prospect of getting to hang out in a room with free wifi for sixteen hours, vs. being confined to a week or more of actual work all day long, I was kind of torn.

I was sleepily working on my database (I had been up since 5:45), getting kind of restless and bored, when they called the first batch of jurors around 11:30AM. Out of the room of 130, they called about 50 names, and mine was one of the last. At that point I was kind of grateful for the prospect of going somewhere and doing something. I was 21 the first time I had jury duty, and had only been called as a potential juror for one case, which I did not get put on. I never saw a courtroom or a judge, just two lawyers in a small room. Every time since then I have had to do nothing at all. So I was interested when we were brought to a courtroom where the judge, lawyers, and even the defendant were there.

The selection of the jury was a very long process. After four hours, there were fourteen of us in the jury box. I had been one of the last added, to replace someone who was removed because of some bias or potential conflict of interests. When the lawyers were allowed to choose who to get rid of, they eliminated half of the fourteen. As the names were read off, I was completely undecided about whether I wanted to be on the case. On the one hand, I was starting to have fun, and for that reason I was no longer concerned about the longer time commitment, but I was a little nervous about the responsibility of making the right decision. In my job I’m required to make a lot of decisions, some of them very quickly, a few of them involving saving people from imminent danger, but the decision to send someone to prison is a big one, and we all know that sometimes the system gets it wrong. Incidentally, we of course had to talk about our occupations, and while I was not the only professional stage manager on the jury (WTF?!), when she got to me, the judge specifically acknowledged what a responsibility it is to be a stage manager. Apparently even a New York Supreme Court judge thinks my job is stressful. More on that later.

A little bit to my surprise, I was part of the half of the jury box that was not eliminated by the lawyers, and was sworn in and then sent home while the other half of the jury was picked from a new batch of candidates.

In addition to the ringside seats for real-life drama, I found the whole experience rather refreshing from a professional perspective. Jury duty is probably the closest a stage manager can come to understanding how an actor feels about tech.

There is at once an understanding that there are very important things going on that don’t involve you, and also a frustration at the seeming randomness of things. Like being told to come in at 9:45 and then sitting locked in the jury room until 10:30 with no explanation or estimate of how long we’ll have to wait. I try not to leave my actors wondering what’s going on, but the hurry-up-and-wait nature of tech (and to a lesser extent, any rehearsal) is inevitable at times. You must be completely ready to go, and yet even when you’re told that you will be needed momentarily, you may end up standing around a while.

It also affords me a rare opportunity to be part of an organization where I can safely say, “I’m glad that’s not my job!” The court officers must have a hard time shuffling people around. In a sense they’re like the stage managers of the court, making sure everybody makes their entrance at the right time, stays away from where they shouldn’t be, knows their lines and blocking, and that the props (evidence) are ready and in the hands of the people who need them. They even handled our lunch order on the day of our deliberations, which is firmly against the rules for a stage manager. So they’re more like the non-Equity stage managers of the court, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I also don’t have to (get to?) carry a gun.

But my greatest sympathy goes to the court reporter. I don’t know how they actually do it. In our case they would often ask for people to repeat things, and the judge and lawyers were very proactive in asking people who spoke too fast to slow down or speak more clearly, but still, that’s a rough job, especially with people with a variety of accents and speech impediments, or thick accents and speech impediments, in one case. I think it would be like taking blocking, only much worse. And I hate taking blocking more than anything. Thankfully for me, the accuracy of my blocking, or lack thereof, has never sent anyone to prison. If it did, I think there would be a lot of false convictions!

I had never been on a jury before, but it’s my opinion that we were the most awesome jury ever. It was not an open-and-shut case, but strangely both sides must have thought it was a good idea to pick a jury of highly educated, intelligent, analytical-type people (two stage managers, computer programmers, two Ivy League professors, financial people, and various other executive and creative folks). We thought the hell out of that case, and sent a number of requests for evidence, transcript read-backs and more information. At one point we sent out a message asking for a whiteboard and/or Post-Its. Even we laughed at how ridiculous that seemed, but in a few minutes the officers wheeled in a chalkboard, and we put it to good use. It wasn’t easy to make such an important decision, but I think we were a group well suited to coming to a fair verdict.

When I was a kid attending gifted camp, one class I always took was law. We would do a different mock trial every week, alternating who took on the roles of the judge, lawyers, witnesses, bailiff and jury, and over the course of the week tried the entire case. So the basic procedures and strategies of court proceedings are something I’ve been pretty familiar with since I was nine or ten. I thought law class was awesome, but never wanted to be a lawyer in real life. However, I enjoyed it enough that I’ve always wanted to serve on a jury to get to see the real thing as a grown-up. It was a really interesting experience, and like most people I know who have served on juries (at least when they haven’t had some really pressing business to get to), I hope that when I’m called to serve in the future I get put on a trial. But for now it seems I’m off the hook for at least six years.

May 5, 2010

Let Me Tell Ye: Terrorist TV Training

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 6:02 am

The first in a series I’ve been planning for a while: I call it “Let Me Tell Ye,” in homage to one of the Nurse’s lines from Romeo and Juliet — one night while watching the show it struck me that it would be a great title for any random rants and thoughts of the day. Here goes the first:

Tonight while rearranging my apartment, I watched a lot of documentaries between the Military Channel and National Geographic. Probably about nine hours straight. They all started to run together, but there was a definite theme, especially on Nat Geo, that a lot of them were about potential methods of future terrorism, such as nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, and biological attacks.

You ever watch shows like that and think, “Gee guys, do you really think it’s a good idea to be telling everybody about all the things our security procedures don’t cover, and how a terrorist could exploit those weaknesses?”

And then when that inevitably gets said, somebody else will be quick to add, “This may not be common knowledge to the average person, but any terrorist already knows this stuff and they aren’t learning anything new by watching these programs.”

Well let me tell ye…

If I have become sure of anything this week, it’s that terrorists thankfully appear to be pretty stupid. Like mind-blowingly stupid. I mean if it was your main goal in life to carry out a glorious attack in the name of Allah or whoever, and you can’t even manage to detonate a bomb — I’m not just talking about the guy in Times Square, I mean like all the terrorists we’ve ever encountered in and around the US since 9/11 — they foil our security a number of different ways, but then demonstrate they actually have no idea what they’re doing.

So now I’m not so sure that they already know all this supposed Terrorism 101 stuff. If they don’t know that some types of fertilizer aren’t explosive, how do we know they already know that only a tiny percentage of containers entering New York Harbor ever get inspected?

Maybe in light of this new understanding, we should be a little more interested in keeping potential threats in the dark cave of ignorance of which they are clearly the inhabitants, instead of assuming there’s no new tricks we can teach them, just in case they ever get the hang of the “make something go ‘boom'” part.

May 2, 2010

Nerd, Geek, Dork, Dweeb?

I call this: random,tech — Posted by KP @ 1:09 pm

Somebody posted this online, to settle a debate about the difference between nerd and a geek. I don’t know what the source of it is, but it was clearly created by somebody with a fine understanding of linguistics and nerd/geek/dork/dweeb culture.

I tend to think of myself as a geek — a dork when being self-depricating. But I think this proves I am actually a nerd. I feel like that should require there to be tape on the bridge of my glasses, but maybe I’m just a nerd in a union with a good vision plan.

February 16, 2010

In Memory of Sadie

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 12:19 pm

I’m sorry to bring everybody down with a somewhat off-topic post, but this is my little corner of the web and I must take a moment to share with you the memory of my dog, Sadie, who passed away early this morning from lukemia, at the age of 10 (or 70 depending on how you’re counting).

In fairness, I suppose Sadie really wasn’t my dog. My parents got her about a year after I moved out of the house, following the death of our previous dog, who died the week before I moved out. Talk about an empty nest. I would love to have a dog myself, but my lifestyle just doesn’t allow for it, so I have always considered Sadie my dog. When she was little she came to visit my apartment once, and within 30 seconds had peed on the floor. I wasn’t such a fan of that, but I enjoyed going to visit her.

Sadie was born while I was on the road in 1999. I was rather upset because I was excited to be a part of the choosing of the new family pet, and playing with a puppy (my first dog had lived 15 years, so I hadn’t had a puppy since I was three), but my parents were looking for a Tibetan Terrier, and when the breeder they were dealing with had some puppies, they couldn’t wait for me to come home. So they picked Sadie, who I should say was a very good choice, and sent me some pictures — which at that time, had to be printed on paper at a special store, and then put in an envelope and mailed to the person you wanted to show them to. I still carry one of those puppy photos in my wallet, despite the fact that now when people are sharing pet pictures on their phones, I pull out mine and say, “Here’s a video of my dog.” But I also have the puppy picture in my wallet.

Speaking of which, I have uploaded my video of Sadie, which I made when my parents got me one of those Flip video cameras for my birthday a couple years ago. It’s not really that exciting, I just wanted to play with the camera and she was the most interesting thing to film, although her interests at that particular moment were basically constrained to sniffing and lying under the dining room table.

Despite the fact that I didn’t get to see her very often, Sadie treated me like a member of the family from the very beginning. She always looked forward to being driven to the train station because she knew that meant I was coming. She enjoyed chewing on paper very much. For Christmas, she was always more excited by the wrapping paper than whatever toy or treat was contained within. Much to my initial dismay, she had absolutely no interest in playing fetch, and my old dog loved to play fetch, even when she could barely see anymore. I think Sadie was taking too much of a practical view on it — she never understood the point of running after an object, only to return it, only to run after it again. Which I guess I can’t blame her for. If she cared about the object, she would run to it, and then lie down to chew on it. Half the time she didn’t even care enough to chase after it once, she would just sort of turn her head back at the thrower as if to say, “So? It’s over there now.”

Lately she had been having some health problems, but it wasn’t really anything too concerning until just recently. While we were at the Guthrie she was diagnosed with lukemia. The vet thought she might live a while longer with treatment, but then things went downhill quickly this week. She stopped eating a couple days ago, and by last night my parents had made arrangements to have her put to sleep in the morning, but she passed away on her own overnight. I’m very disappointed because we’re getting back to New York tomorrow, and the last time I saw her, right before I left, she wasn’t even sick. If she had lived another day-and-a-half I could have seen her. The plan is for her ashes to be scattered at the beach where she loved to play. I think she would like that.

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