Archive for October, 2006

Observations From a Different Kind of Person

On Wednesday, I made a valiant attempt to discretely ask about the painting. The actor playing one of the leads is super-nice, and definitely has been involved in quite a few shows with this company. So I tried to ask if there was a master painter, scenographer, or just know-it-all painter already around the troupe. But I was too discrete, I suppose, so I had to spell it out.

“I really love painting, and I think I’m pretty good at scene-painting. I just want to know if there’s someone I should make sure to defer to, or if I can take some control on that.”

She called over the producer to ask if a certain person was involved in the production. He said he was not, and asked why. This started a conversation that ended with me volunteering to paint approximately 50 square feet of faux marble.

I was thinking about it for the rest of the week. I knew this was my opportunity to impress or be ignored. At least in the tech-related area. So I basically day-dreamed of exactly how it would look, and how I would accomplish it.

Sunday came around, and after church I only had a few minutes to grab some food before I headed over to the hall (which is part of a local church) for 1:30. I had hoped that I’d have time to run to Home Despot (yes, I mean “despot” — until the gigantic Lowes is built, they are a nasty monopoly in my area, so I like to think of them as a tyrant — yes, I’m crazy.), but things happened, and I was just starting my car at 1:25. So I drove straight on over to the church hall.

No one was there.

I rolled my eyes, and just got right back in my car and took off for the Despot. Later, I would find out that the producer had sent an email out pushing back the start time to 2:00.

The big orange store in my area happens to have paint supplies right by the door. That was exciting to me, because I didn’t really want to run all over the store looking for them. I snagged a plastic pail, and started rummaging through the sponge box. I found one that might be okay, but then saw a box containing a starter kit claiming to have an “extra large natural sponge” as well as a VHS tape with instructions on how to faux. I threw the kit under my arm, and went looking for a brush or ten.

I have never used a proper brush to paint a set before. This is mostly a lack of trust. I never really trust people to properly care for a good brush. So I’m used to leaning down to the bins on the bottom and picking up the 50 cent crap. But that day, I was on a mission for a good quality set of brushes for me and me alone. I picked out some that claimed to be “professional” in a 4″, 2″, and 1″ size. I also snagged a package of detail brushes, which contained 5 little brushes and cost less than the 1″ professional brush.

Self check-out is awesome.

When I got back to the hall, at about 2:00, the producer and one of the important-board-member-types were opening things up and chatting about the plan for the day. I wandered in with my bucket full of paint supplies, and the producer was ecstatic to see I had them. The first phase of any set-build day began.

The producer had been bringing in flats and platforms with his jeep all week long, so most things were actually already there. It is nice to have a head start. But that first phase, of pulling out everything, looking at it, and heaving a great, big, “gosh I have a lot of work to do” sigh — that’s a key phase.

The producer started pulling out gallons and gallons of leftover paint. We went through them looking for black and white. No black was to be found, they had used it up on the last set, but a pretty serviceable dark grey seemed appropriate. I also picked out a lovely lavender.

Of course, the one thing that wasn’t ready to be painted needed to be marble… but I forgave him. I tried to find other things to do, before I realized that he also wanted one of the platforms done as well. Fabulous. Paint, paint, paint!

An overview of my painting behavior:

  • My arm is speedy.
  • With a good brush, I can paint faster than most people can roll.
  • But it will be messy.
  • Drop clothes are necessary.
  • Buckets of water for sponging are a requirement.
  • I never leave a brush with paint on it.
  • I obsessively wash out my brushes and sponges.
  • I have a hard time stopping: “Just one more stroke…”
  • I pretend to be modest.

That last one is pretty important. My modesty in the realm of faux painting is minimal at best. I know I’m good. And I was doing my best job to make sure my new theatre group would know it too.

But all that wasn’t what I originally set out to write about today. The real story was in my watching people who I’d never worked with before. It’s weird. They aren’t at all like WPI theatre geeks.

WPI theatre geeks Community theatre geeks
The producer is tired because she majors in something like chemical engineering, and was up late working on differential equations or something. The producer is tired because he was working Faneuil Hall the night before selling his sausages to drunks, making a killing from the 2 AM crowd.
There is no end of people willing, able, and excited to work with lights, sound, or anything electronic. The producer suggests going to get the lights out and everyone groans.
The set design was done in several steps, ending with a CAD drawing with precise measurements and angles. The set design was done in pencil on a piece of paper, which the designer accidentally left at home, and no one is really sure what angle to put the wall at.
“Where is the set design? I want to double-check something.” “Where is the set designer? When will he be back? I guess we’ll just hold this up here until he gets back.”
Half the people at build have a measuring tape, and the other half is constantly borrowing it. There isn’t a measuring tape to be seen, and the closest thing is a twelve inch plastic ruler which is being used to measure wall paper.
Faux paint everything. Wall paper bricks (which, by the way, look awesome, so I guess I have learned something).
Nearly every person at set build knows how to operate at least a screw gun, if not an air-compressor-driven bolt gun. Hand screw drivers seemed to be the preferred tool.
Plastic drop cloths on every surface except where the paint ends up flying to. A piece of fabric that we pretend is a drop cloth, even though it seems obvious to me (and I was right) that the paint will soak through and stain the floor.
Logical measuring of things to make sure everything will fit together is the norm. Trial and error as a method where we can hope it will eventually fit.
“If you aren’t doing anything, follow me down to do some heavy lifting right now!” “All men, if you don’t mind, please come with me to do some heavy lifting.”

But, there were some similarities. There were still “I love paint” people (covered in paint up to our elbows), “paint is okay” people (daintily wielding a brush), and “paint is disgusting” people (staying as far away from all paint-related things). There were still “I’ll hold anything” people (who don’t want to do anything but hold up the wall), “give me that screw gun” people (who like playing with tools), “I’ll climb that ladder” people (who aren’t nervous about heights at all), and “I don’t mind scrubbing the floors” people (who feel responsible for other peoples’ dropped paint). The flats are 4 feet wide, as a general rule. The French doors are hand crafted and temperamental. No one wants to do props. And pizza is considered fuel.

It’s just like home… if home were in an alternate universe.

October 30th, 2006 • 9:51 am • dinane • Posted in Theatre8 Comments »

Two Idiots and a Funny

Idiot the First

Last night, as I was walking towards the T station, I noticed that there were still a few seconds left to cross the street. So, I did what any walking-in-Boston specialist would do, and speed-walked up to the corner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the mood for running, so as I got there, the cars started streaming through the intersection.

As I sped up, though, a gentleman that I passed glared at me and muttered something completely indecipherable. It didn’t phase me in the slightest. People can be weird. Whatever.

When he reached the corner just behind me, he did something that any normal tourist would do (not that I thought he was a tourist, he didn’t have the bright orange “Bamboozle ME!” sticker on his forehead). He pressed the button on the post to get a walk signal. It’s not necessary at this intersection. Walk signals are part of the rotation. But that’s not what made him an idiot. Uninformed, perhaps, but not an idiot.

So, here I am, standing at the corner of two major 3-lane one-way streets, during rush hour, waiting for my chance to cross. And there he goes, pressing the button, holding his hand out like Correy Dillon in a bizarre attempt to stiff-arm the cars, strolling across the intersection, diagonally. Horns honked, but he didn’t get hit. My jaw dropped. And the shock was fully complete when he got to the opposite corner and pressed the button on that crossing signal post as he passed on down the sidewalk.

Idiot the Second

I’m pretty sure that pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. I was about to cross a small road at an intersection with no traffic signals this morning, and an incessant beeping came from over my left shoulder. This was a reverse T intersection. I was walking along a one way road in the direction of that traffic, and about to cross a one way road that leads away from the more major road I was walking along.

So, along that major road came a taxi cab. That would be the source of the beeping. Myself and a couple other bleary-eyed commuters stopped just in time to watch him whip around the corner, almost hitting someone who had made it more than halfway across the clearly-marked crosswalk.

The Funny Sandwich

So stuck right between those two crazy adventurous moments, I heard the neatest thing. My radio station was interviewing Caroline Rhea this morning. She’s a fun lady. And she said something about Boston that struck me as pretty funny. I managed to write it down in my magazine while at a stop light.

“You know what I like about Boston? You guys celebrate all four seasons most days.”

October 24th, 2006 • 9:00 am • dinane • Posted in Uncategorizable2 Comments »

What a Pane

On the rather long list of jobs I could never do, you will find Window Washer. There is, right now, a mustachioed, muscular man hanging from a rope outside my window, swinging back and forth applying soap and squeegee to the windows. As far as I’m considered, that man is, like Spider Man, a super hero.

October 19th, 2006 • 1:37 pm • dinane • Posted in Uncategorizable2 Comments »

Interesting

It would appear that I mistook a bottle of nutmeg for a bottle of cinnamon at ABP this morning. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a little nutmeg on my oatmeal and maybe even in my hot chocolate. But I shook on enough to look like brown snow.

It’s not awful. But it does remind me a little bit of tree bark. Which is odd, because cinnamon is actually made of tree bark, and nutmeg is in fact a nut.

October 19th, 2006 • 8:14 am • dinane • Posted in FoodNo Comments »

I Guess This is Why They Have Drills

All summer, we have been promised fire drills. They were to happen in May. Then they were postponed until July. Then August. And now October. Only this time, we weren’t notified, here in our little company up on the 11th floor.

Most of the building is occupied by a single company. They were apparently aware of a scheduled fire drill. My next-cubiclette-neighbor apparently got wind of this 10AM scheduled drill, and decided not to come in until 10:30. When he arrived, he found that the sidewalks were coated in people, and grumbled to himself that they had run the drill late. So, he went to our company’s rendezvous point – the bar across the street.

He waited a while, and yet, none of us showed up.

That would be because WE DIDN’T HEAR THE ALARM!

That’s right, folks. The alarm didn’t sound on the 11th floor. Our floor. The floor where we are. The floor where our entire company, save some roaming sales guys and a couple engineers in Texas and Washington, is. The floor where I am!

It’s a good thing they have fire drills. If this was a real fire, we’d all be dead.

DEAD!

Except for my next-cubiclette-neighbor, who informed us all that we were zombies as he strolled in around 10:50 or so.

October 18th, 2006 • 11:12 am • dinane • Posted in Uncategorizable9 Comments »

For the Love of Tetris

On Friday, a little collection of my friends got together. It was quite the adventure, really, considering that Paul and Kelly live in Canada.

Okay, not actually, but as I said to my coworker, their town is practically in New Hampshire, which is practically Canada. I mean, come on! The leaves on the trees were already brown and… well… not on the trees so much any more! (At our house, we are just past peak. The colors were absolutely perfectly gorgeous on Friday morning. I was almost “moved” by the beauty. In Boston, we’re just starting to see some change in colors. There’s one giant yellow tree in the Public Garden and a couple smaller-looking [perhaps just farther away] in the dark gold and red varieties. I see a good number at the tail end of green, however, and I suspect that today’s relative coolness will turn them right to shiny gold.)

Mike and I did our best not to get lost, and failed at that. Luckily, we didn’t stray far from the intended destination, and were soon at building K. (Who letters their buildings rather than numbering them? Canadians!) Their place is rather nice, actually, and quite spacious.

Tara came, dinner occurred, Jeremy came, etc., etc., etc….

Really, what I came here to talk… *ahem* write about was the Tetris. I’m not exactly sure what transpired that got us to that point, but we were eventually playing Tetris 2 for the NES along with the new Tetris for the DS. Holy falling blocks, Batman!

I have been playing a lot of Tetris on my DS on the ride in to work. I’ve gotten rather good at it. Sometimes, if my mind drifts, I see “Tetriminoes” behind my eyelids. That’s probably not healthy. But whatever. I think that my skillz (note the use of the “z” for emphasis!) at the more standard Tetris are what caused my downfall at Tetris 2.

At least that is what I’m going to believe.

How could the creators of such a lovely simple organized game, in which there are always four blocks falling from the sky, and they all connect in easy to understand ways, possibly create such a hectic pile of insanity? I mean, really. Do there have to be pieces that disconnect from other pieces? And matching by color? Good grief! (Yes, I know… thank you, Charlie Brown. Maybe I should be Charlie Brown for Halloween. That might make my affection for that phrase seem less insane, if only for a day.)

What is my point? Oh, hell if I know. Basically, Tetris. Blocks. Falling. Rotating. Settling. Tetrising.

October 17th, 2006 • 8:32 am • dinane • Posted in Life, Video Games6 Comments »

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I just thought I would share with you, gentle and innocent readers, the song that currently coursing through my brain.

See, a couple weeks ago, I bought this new sweater. I bought it because I was cold. It is a nice sweater, a light beige color, good to match with almost any outfit, and warm, but not sweaty warm. It is, by all accounts, lovely.

Today, I have chosen to wear my sweater again. It is still lovely, and freshly cleaned. It is soft and supple, and happily adorns my shoulders as I sit at my desk. However, until moments ago, it had been left open in the front.

Oh, I didn’t mention, did I. This is not a pull-over sweater. This is a zip-front sweater!

So, I just fancied closing the zipper, and followed through with said thought. An innocent enough gesture, certainly. But my deep childhood memories can only associate a zip-front sweater with one thing.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!
A beautiful day for a neighbor!
Won’t you be mine?

October 16th, 2006 • 1:24 pm • dinane • Posted in Life4 Comments »

40 Days and 40 Nights

I woke up more or less on time this morning. That is an unusual feat for this week. I think the three-day weekend threw me for a loop. That and the darkness. The impenetrable darkness.

Give me back my sun!

If I could live someplace that had lots of sun but still got four seasons, I’d be a happy lady. But alas, cold weather and lots of sun repel each other like magnets turned to face each other.

I was slowed down a bit by the tying of shoes, so I knew I’d be cutting it close to catch the train. See, I’ve recently decided that one of the more annoying features of my commute is in fact the drive to Malden. So, as an experiment this week, I’ve decided to take the commuter rail from Melrose – which I can get to in under five minutes, even when the traffic lights are against me.

The traffic lights were against me, and as I approached the railroad crossing, I could just sense that I would be trapped on the wrong side of the lowered gates, unable to get my car to the parking lot and dash for the train. Much to my surprise, however, the gates were not down and the bells were not ringing. I pulled in to park as close to the parking-money-taking-ticket-spitting-box as possible, dashed out, paid my $2, dashed back to my car to put the ticket in the window (why can’t Melrose be like everyone else and just have the box you shove money into based on parking space number?), locked the car, and dashed to the platform.

I grinned as I looked left to see if I could see the train’s headlights in the distance. I did not, so I started towards the Metro box to pick up a free paper. Then my brain kicked into gear and heard the muttering of annoyed commuters. This caused me to follow their gaze – up and to the right… Oh… the red-glowy-lights-of-information…

“…30+ minutes. We apologize for the inconvenience…”

What?!

“…flooding at Bradford, trains will be delayed 10-15 minutes…”

Okay…

“…mechanical difficulties, the 6:05 departure train from Haverhill is running late by 30+ minutes. We apologize…”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………………………..

The ladies whose gaze I mimicked were just realizing that our 6:51 was in fact the 6:05 departure from Haverhill.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I can’t waste $2. I could have gotten in my car and drove into Malden. I could have taken the orange line like I did only last week. But I would have wasted my parking ticket in Melrose, and that was simply unacceptable. I went across the tracks for a muffin.

After selecting my corn muffin and Pure Premium orange juice, I settled down at a table to munch. Then I heard the tell-tale ding-ding-ding-ding of the crossings going down. “I guess the train isn’t delayed that much!” I bolted. Across the tracks. Like the idiot I am.

It wasn’t really that close of a call. But my heart and brain were racing when I realized I had just crossed in front of the train heading from Boston outbound. The outbound trains don’t stop at all the stations in the morning. It was going at full speed.

The poor engineer was probably shocked silly that such an idiot maneuver had been performed right in front of his train. He blew the whistle, but by the time he did that I was already safely on the other side of the tracks. Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t be an idiot. Stay behind the gates when they close.

After I recovered from my adrenaline rush of near-death, I went back to munching on my muffin. I finished that, and grabbed myself a Metro. It’s a good thing I wasn’t sipping my orange juice at the exact moment I turned to page 2. The second headline on the page had the gaul to read, “T: Commuter rail on-time rate is greatly improved.”

Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha haaa haaaaaaa!

Unfortunately, the rest of my fellow commuters were already onto later pages. I could not share the laugh. Plus, morning commuters are something like beta fish – happier to be left alone.

The next wave of commuters started to arrive as an outbound train sped by again. We were probably a little too hopeful that the ding-ding-ding-ding was for our train. The 7:17 commuters were slightly confused, but much less annoyed than us 6:51 people. They realized that they would be able to get on our train, long before theirs would show.

Finally, our inbound train showed up. I saw several 7:17 commuters dash from their cars and homes at top speed, thinking they were about to miss their 7:17 train. But no, they merely missed the 6:51, which was oddly half-empty. I expected it to be jammed full, with extra 7:17 commuters on board.

The ride in was uneventful, and accompanied in my ears by Gnarls Barkley.

I cannot tell you how glad I was to hear the announcement at North Station that the orange line was “experiencing heavy delays due to flooding at Back Bay.”

October 12th, 2006 • 9:10 am • dinane • Posted in Life, WeatherNo Comments »
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