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November 15, 2009

Joke of the Day

I call this: random,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:20 am

The other night I was at Phantom, and in preparing the day’s in/out sheet was “in charge of comedy,” which is the technical term for flipping through old issues of The New Yorker and picking a funny cartoon, which will be pasted on the bottom of the sheet, copied and distributed, along with vital performance information, throughout the building in the hour-and-a-half prior to the show.

As soon as I found the below cartoon, I knew it was the one for me. I didn’t even finish looking through the issue in my hand. I was pleased to see several people specifically stop at the callboard to read the joke, and comment on it being funny.

IMG_0997

If you really must know, I blog in running shoes. Sometimes in socks.

For a few more tales of the Joke of the Day, see this post about the decorations in my Phantom calling script.


October 13, 2009

Grand Opening!

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 12:32 am

balloonsIt’s time for HeadsetChatter.com to be unleashed on the world! The dust has been cleaned up from the site redesign, and pages have been added and updated.

Tell your friends, tell your enemies!

Don’t forget to follow @headsetchatter on Twitter!


October 2, 2009

Headset Chatter. Dot Com.

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 12:32 pm

More big changes are on the way for the site. Last night I bought a domain name. First, I need to apologize to the long-time readers of this blog — I hate changing phone numbers, email addresses, etc, so I don’t like to make people change their bookmarks. But I need to preface this by saying that I never wanted to call the site, or the blog for that matter, “The Go Button.” The problem has always been that the .com was not available. It’s the site of some wifi finder app. What that has to do with go buttons, I don’t know, but nevertheless, the internet is a “finder’s keepers” world, and somebody else found it first. If thegobutton.com had been available, I would have bought it years ago when the blog was still hosted on Blogger.

This past May, I had two weeks off between jobs, and during a feverish four days I learned to code HTML, decided to expand the blog into a full site, hand-coded the whole thing, and launched the new site at thegobutton.net. I did take some time trying to come up with a better name before buying a .net domain, but nothing was good enough, and anything that was was already taken. So I decided that since I had to pick something, I would stick with The Go Button identity even though it’s a pretty terrible idea long-term not to have a .com. My hope was to come up with a better domain name in the first 3-6 months, and get the transition over with quickly before I had built up a lot of long-time readers, and before the GoogleBot got all comfortable with indexing the site. This summer I spent many days sitting on the couch in front of my full-height windows at my apartment at Reagle, just daydreaming and hoping that inspiration would come if I put myself in a relaxing situation. Some ideas did come, but for various reasons they weren’t good enough.

Last night on the Slow Boat to Washington Heights (otherwise known as the A train at 1AM), I decided to use the time to think more about possible names, or at least better logos for the current site. I was thinking that in 13 years working for Dewynters Advertising I should have absorbed more about proper logo design and branding. If you haven’t heard of Dewynters, they’re a British ad agency that has done some logos for theatre. If you know what this

or this

is, that’s because of Dewynters. They know a thing or two about logos. So I started to think, if Dewynters was designing a logo for a musical called The Go Button, about stage managers who talk about stage management and computers (an excellent idea for a musical if I do say so myself), where would they begin?

Finally I had no choice but to drag out these archaic tools called pencil and paper, and began making sketches of logos for The Go Button. Some of them might actually have been nice. But I let my mind keep wandering about images that are iconic to stage management, and came back to the headset (which I already use on the back of my business card, shown here:)

And almost before my brain could think about it, my hand was writing on the paper, headsetchatter.com. Well that certainly sounded like a domain that was available, and while it doesn’t quite have the theatre / technology metaphor of a go button, it’s close, and also suggests a place for discussion and sharing of experiences and ideas, which is really what the site is about. Things said on the site might be the things discussed in typical headset chatter — anything from “how are you liking your new flashlight?” to “did everybody see that there’s a new Starbucks app for the iPhone?”

Once I had written those words, all work on the Go Button logo ceased, and I couldn’t wait to get off the train and buy the domain before some cybersquatter came to ruin my great idea. I was very happy to find it available, and for about $7, snatched it up. I also grabbed the Twitter and AIM accounts for it. In fact, you can go to headsetchatter.com right now, and well, nothing terribly exciting will happen, but it will drop you off at the front page of The Go Button.

So what does this mean for the site? Nothing, in the larger sense. The focus and content of the site will remain the same. Over the coming weeks (my show starts previews tonight, so I should have some more free time), I will quietly be building a rebranded version of the site in parallel to this one. I’m thinking the layout colors may change a little. If all goes well and this really seems like a good idea, eventually the headsetchatter address will be unlinked from The Go Button and will start pointing to the new site, once I need to start testing it online. And then someday thegobutton.net will take you to headsetchatter.com, until in May of 2010, it will probably be released into the vastness of the interwebs.

In all honesty, I plan to use my next day off to stock up on Monster drinks and Mountain Dew, order a pizza, and spend like 18 hours straight working on this. So when I say “someday” it might actually mean “overnight.” It will happen when it’s ready. And once again I apologize in advance for making you change your bookmarks (I advise against doing it before the new site is launched), but I’m very happy that I think I have a web identity that will be more successful in the long term.


September 18, 2009

Facebook as a Business Tool

I call this: random,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:44 am

I know there are Facebook haters. People who think that anybody who uses social networking sites is a waste of oxygen and must have the IQ of a gnat. Those people are stupid. But they generally don’t know it, otherwise they would know they are not one who should be scoffing at the intelligence of gnats. This post is one small story in disproving the assertion that Facebook is useless.

First there are those who believe that social networking actually makes us less social. For some people who are very naturally social, I suppose this may be true. Myself, I am extremely antisocial. I think I’m a very pleasant person and well-liked by the people in my life, but though I have many friendly acquaintances, I have a lot of trouble forming close friendships. As a result, I lose touch with people the moment they leave my life in whatever context I knew them (which in this business can mean a new job every few weeks or months.) I tend to assume (maybe neurotically) that nobody really wants to hear from me that badly, so as a result I never contact anyone. But Facebook is a way of saying hi when even an email feels too intrusive. If someone is reading my message on Facebook they are there because they want to get random messages from people like me, and so I feel no anxiety about making contact with them. It also keeps me up to date with what other people are doing, which opens up ideas of other things we might have in common or be able to do together. Which brings me to my point.

I have a show in rehearsal right now. I have been Facebook friends with our production manager since we did a show together about a year and a half ago. One day last week, his status was about how he was looking for an Express programmer for certain dates (pretty clearly our tech). On that same day, another friend, who was the venue tech director for a show I did at NYMF last year, had as her status “Amy really needs to find employment,” or something to that effect. I wrote Amy a message and asked if she could program an Express and was willing to work a short-term job for undoubtedly crappy pay. She was. Cut to today, and Amy has been hired as the programmer for our tech. Now she has a job, we found a programmer, and maybe she’ll get future work now as a result of making these new connections. And all this was made possible very easily, when there’s no way I would have known about either her need for work, or our lack of luck finding a programmer if we had to rely on talking to people individually to find out what’s going on in each other’s lives.

And on top of that, since the job in question happened to be the show I’m working on, I will actually get to see her in real life, proving that Facebook does not cause you to see your friends in person less! Someday I’ll give you my rant about why text messaging is more useful than phone calls.


May 23, 2009

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 5:53 pm

firstpage

Since I created this blog, I have long dreamed of having a full website where people would go for stage management tips, tricks, stories and downloads. I was held back only by my complete inability to properly design web pages.

A while back I purchased Macheist Bundle 3, which includes lots of fun software. One of the more popular apps is Espresso, which is a new app for web developers. While on tour I started feeling a little bit inadequate as a geek because I didn’t know any modern programming languages. So since I have this random free copy of Espresso, I thought I’d take some time to start out small and work my way through hand-coding websites in HTML, CSS, and onward from there. With nothing but free time between the tour and the Reagle season, in just a few days I had progressed through HTML to basic and intermediate CSS, and I decided to go ahead and buy the domain I’ve had my eye on for over two years, thegobutton.net (thegobutton.com, unfortunately, was taken, otherwise I probably would have bought it when I started this blog).

Along with that I purchased a hosting plan from godaddy.com, and uploaded the little site I developed onto it, and began expanding it. As of this writing, I have been working on this little project for three days, and I am ready to announce it on the blog. It’s very much a work in progress, there are a lot of placeholders, but if you’re curious to see what I’m working on, you can browse around, and there’s a forum that’s up and running, too (what I need a forum for at this point, I don’t know, but I like forums).

This blog will eventually move over there, as soon as I figure out exactly how to do that. In all likelihood I will install WordPress and transfer all the posts over.

And I promise, the banner will calm down. I needed to design a dummy one to get started, I had new Photoshop filters to play with, and things just kind of went from there.


May 2, 2009

Turning 30

I call this: gaming,random — Posted by KP @ 10:49 am

You know when you’re playing an RPG, where you have to complete some side tasks before moving past a certain point in the game, or not make any mistakes, or else you’ll never be able to achieve the good ending? And once you’ve failed to do that, you might not even be halfway through the game, but from then on you know the best you’re going to get is the generic ending. And maybe you bother playing the rest of the game out, but you’re not really enjoying it, because you screwed it up and no matter what you do you can’t get to the result you want. That’s how I feel about turning 30.


February 20, 2009

An Open Letter to the Hoteliers of America

I call this: On the Road Again,random — Posted by KP @ 12:32 pm

Dear Hoteliers,
I am tired of filling out those little comment cards, and quite frankly they don’t leave enough room for the rant that is about to ensue, so I will address all of you in the hopes that some of you will shape up before I stumble half-asleep across your doorstep some afternoon.

First of all, I see that your comment card asks me lots of questions about things I could care less about: “overall exterior appearance of hotel,” “responsiveness to your needs,” “condition of furniture.” ¬†Let me save you the time and tell you that when I walk into your hotel, I expect 3 things:

  • A bed
  • A shower with decent water pressure
  • an internet connection with sustained speeds over 1.5mbps

I don’t care if the room has a TV, a couch, or a chest of drawers. ¬†I hope it has lights and maybe a fridge. ¬†A desk and chair would add to my comfort greatly, and frankly the bed is not strictly necessary, but would be preferable to sleeping on the floor. ¬† But really, the only reason I am here is to take a much-anticipated shower, and to use my little free time to play an online game that demands a reliable connection, and perhaps to download some episodes of “The Wire” from iTunes.

In my travels thus far, I have found few hotels that can meet even two of these needs. ¬†Everyone has accomplished #1, and for that I congratulate you. ¬†But Holiday Inn Express in Harrisburg, PA, and Hampton Inn in Hampton, VA, are you pumping the water into my shower with a bicycle pump? ¬†Is there a little man in the wall who pours a cup of water at a time into the back of the shower head? ¬†I haven’t had a shower in THREE FUCKING DAYS, give me some damn water!!!

Ahem, now on to the most important question, and the area where almost all hotels need to improve. ¬†With the exception of the Holiday Inn Express in Poplar Bluff, MO (!!) you all failed to provide sufficient internet services. ¬†Every hotel I have stayed at has advertised “high speed internet,” including the Holiday Inn Select in Lafayette, IN, which provided consistent speeds of 250kbps, which might have been considered high speed 10 years ago. ¬†Here’s a tip: ¬†I have just run a speed test on my laptop using my cell phone’s connection (in an area with 3G and full bars), and pulled down 818kbps / 348kbps up. ¬† I don’t think it’s asking too much for your rather large, stationary, and overpriced building to provide better internet service than a fucking PHONE.

A few other things of less importance:

  • I’d really like the soda machine to be on my floor and not sold out of everything but Diet Pepsi. ¬†And at least one snack machine in the building.
  • Why do some of you hide the listing of the TV channels so well that I only discover it when I’m packing up to leave?
  • Laundry – you must have laundry machines. ¬†When I get a spare hour or two at 2AM, I need some clean clothes. ¬†I might only get that chance once a week, and if I’m in your hotel when it happens, you better be ready for it!

So get it together, folks.  I will be adding to this list as I see fit.


February 14, 2009

Another Bag Review: Ricardo Beverly Hills Essentials 30″ Rolling Duffle

I call this: bag reviews,On the Road Again,random,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:36 am

According to my statistics, probably the most popular post ever on my blog is the review I did of my BBP bag (which I decided I kind of hate, and never use, incidentally). It seems people are always searching for reviews of it, and I hope my rather lengthy post on it has helped them make a decision. So since I’m an admitted Bag Whore, and recently purchased a new bag that I’m very excited about, I will give another review.

For this tour I’m now on, I decided I needed a snazzy new piece of luggage that I could lug around for six months, that would be bigger than the small suitcase I use for summer stock, but small enough that I can still get around with it easily. I haven’t selected a piece of luggage for myself since I was about 12, so I really didn’t know what my options were. After looking for ideas in some luggage stores in New York, I decided to try the rolling duffle format, as it seemed the most expandable while still being lightweight and compact when the contents allowed. I think they actually may not make this model anymore, but you can still find it for sale online (at about half of the original MSRP). Here’s the Amazon link.

This is the Ricardo Beverly Hills Essentials 30″ Rolling Duffle. It’s MSRP is $180, but most places I’ve seen it online have been around $100. It comes in blue, shown above (which is the one I have), and brown. The wheels (which are Razer-scooter-style) match the color of the bag, which is a completely useless but cool feature. It has some little accents that are yellow (such as the zipper pulls, and the button you push to make the handle pop out).

As this handy image shows, it has two main compartments: there is a lower compartment that’s kind of box-shaped and somewhat rigid, but not completely. The zipper that you see partially opened on top leads to the main compartment which takes up pretty much all the rest of the space. There is also a nice mesh section on the bottom of the top compartment, so you can see into the bottom compartment and air can get in there. It even zips open so you can get in the bottom compartment without opening it from the outside (my bag is always packed too tightly to make that very useful, but I’m sure it could be).

The upper compartment has two pouches on the back edge, like many suitcases have, to stick whatever it is you stick in those (toiletries mostly, I guess, though I travel with a separate toiletries bag since we don’t stay in a hotel every night). These don’t close, and when the bag is flipped open, due to its flexible nature, I find the pouches sometimes bend over and the contents spill out into the rest of the bag. I keep things like my little swiss army knife, apartment keys, coins for laundry, stamps, and a roll of scotch tape in there. I don’t mind it too much, but they’re not the most useful for keeping things separate that you really need to keep separate. Unfortunately, I’d say the one fault of the bag is there really aren’t any small compartments, but I think that’s true of most traditional suitcases as well.

Attached at either end of the upper part of the bag are rather large side pockets. The one on the left is kind of normal, the one on the right has a little trick. It’s mostly designed to be a place to keep dirty laundry, wet clothes, shoes, or other things you might not want getting shoved in with all your nice clean clothes. The pocket actually goes much deeper than it appears — it has a sort of sock-like shape to it that extends into the main compartment. This has advantages and disadvantages: if you don’t need to fill that pocket with much, then it just compresses and doesn’t take away valuable space in the main compartment. If you do try to cram it with stuff, it will expand into the main compartment, giving you less room in there. I think this is the best possible solution, but when I’ve got close to a week of dirty laundry, it can be tricky to shove it all in the side pouch, and then rearrange the rest of my bag to compensate for the fact that the center compartment is now reduced in capacity for clean clothes. In theory it should all work out because it’s the same total volume, but I find I always have to start rearranging things as the proportion of dirty vs. clean clothes changes throughout the week. If you stay somewhere more than a day or two and actually fully unpack your bag in the hotel, it might not matter at all. Anyway, the idea of having a separate place for dirty laundry was a huge selling point for this bag. The fact that it doesn’t waste space when empty is also highly awesome.
UPDATE: After a recent string of nights spent sleeping on the bus, I had gotten to the point where most of my clothes were dirty. I’m happy to report the dirty laundry pocket was able to expand to about 2/3 the size of the total upper part of the bag, successfully keeping all my yucky clothes away from the nice ones until we were able to spend the night in a hotel.

These are really the only four compartments. There is a zipper at the bottom of the bottom compartment which leads into the lining of the bag. I really don’t know what it’s for, but you could shove stuff in there if you really want, maybe for extra security. I keep my mail in there so 3 months of bills and bank statements aren’t rolling around in my way every day. On the exterior there are a few loops, and some elastic straps, which if I’m careful, I can get my toiletries bag to fit in — by complete accident, the bags even match!

The final zippered area is on the bottom of the bag. A panel pulls down revealing some (rather thin and cheap-feeling) backpack straps. I like this feature because if I have to carry the bag up a flight of stairs, it’s much easier as a backpack than as a suitcase. However, when there’s 30-40lbs in the bag, the straps are not particularly comfortable, so I don’t personally see this as an alternative to rolling the bag, except for a quick 30-second jaunt up stairs or the like. I also suspect with any serious use they would start to break.

The bag has a standard pull-out locking luggage handle for wheeling it. It’s very sturdy, the only complaint I have about it is that it’s short. This works fine given the height of the bag, but if you have any carry-on bags that have a slot intended to be passed over the luggage handle of another bag, you will probably find this handle too short to come out the other end of your carry-on.

On the back side of the bag is a little window for your name and address, with a cover that velcros down over it.

The handles are nicely designed. There are duffel-style handles with a velcro strap to keep them together. The top of the bag has a soft handle, and the bottom has a hard rubberish one, which I think is also intended to help the bag stand on end. This doesn’t always work, but it’s a start. No matter how you want to carry the bag, or if you want to carry it with another person, you’ll find a handle for it. I find that especially useful when yanking the bag around in the luggage bays under our bus.

The wheels, as I said, match the color of the bag and are similar to the narrow variety used in Razer Scooters and inline skates. I’m sure you could find a suitcase with more rugged wheels, but I found these satisfactory even through the snow and ice in Minneapolis.

Finally, here’s an action shot of my bag in the Minneapolis airport. This gives some indication that the colors are a little darker and more subtle than the Smurftacular blue that the manufacturer’s photos make it seem to be.

One final observation: when I was shopping for this bag I read some reviews saying that it started to fall apart quickly. I was a little concerned, but I must say so far I don’t see any signs of wear at all. If that changes over the tour I will update this, but we are traveling every day or two now, so it should be going through a lot of use.

Pros:
Separate pocket for dirty laundry, collapses when not needed.
Hidden backpack straps
Handles every place you could think to carry it from.
Wheels roll nicely

Cons:
No small closable pockets or compartments.
Doesn’t stand up on end all that well, depending on how it’s packed.
Handle is too short to attach a carry-on around it.

TEASER: Just this morning, while acting a fool underneath our truck trailer, I got copious amounts of grease on my main backpack, which I fear will be coming off on my hands and anything else it touches from now until the end of time. So I am now in the market to replace my beloved Victorinox bag ASAP. This is one of the most essential objects in my life, so I will be sure to do a thorough review of whatever I get.


November 19, 2008

My Life in Speeddial

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 6:56 pm

Another in the continuing series of snapshots of my life based on who is currently on my speed-dial list.

1. My assistant (Nick)
2. Our company manager
3. The Acting Company main office number
4. My parents
5. Good stage manager friend
6. Another good stage manager friend
7. The Phantom stage management office


July 14, 2008

A Snapshot of My Life

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 4:42 pm

I’ve had my iPhone only a few days, and haven’t completely set everything up permanently, but here is who’s currently on my favorites list on the phone app:
1. My assistant
2. My parents
3. A stage manager friend from NY
4. Another stage manager friend from NY
5. The tech director at Reagle
6. OK sushi place in town
7. Better sushi place in town

Draw whatever conclusions from this you will.


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