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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Knock Three Times On The Ceiling If You Want Me

Finally met with our drywall installer yesterday afternoon, and everything appears to be good to move ahead with Phase II of our seemingly never-ending sound baffling project

I was a bit concerned that he might have underestimated on his preliminary bid, and sure enough, he failed to take into account the fact that he and his crew will be installing two layers of hardwall, in addition to the other necessary steps to buffer our sound bleed to the apartment upstairs. Luckily, his revised estimate still comes in under our spending allocation cap (just barely!), and he indicated it should only take about four work days to complete the project, which is far fewer than the 13 days we had allotted in our schedule.

So, things are proceeding apace. We'll clear the stage after our current show ends on the 8th, finish up with the last of the cotton insulation on the 9th, load-in all the dry-wall and other project materials on the 11th, and let them have-at.

Which means, in point of fact the end IS in sight, and by the 19th at the absolute latest we'll have a brand new, fully insulated ceiling in the theatre proper that should have the effect of muffling 100 db's of amplified sound in our space down to about 25 - 30 db upstairs - and vice versa.

And then, we'll move on to some other massive project - don't worry, we've already got a list.

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Posted byCOMTE on 11:03 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This Camel Is Tough On The Spine

Got "Little Nellie"'s new throttle cable installed after work last night - I'm getting pretty good at it, given this is my third time - then dashed off to a meeting with the contractor who is going to be doing the last part of our Sound Baffling project at the theatre.

Unfortunately, he got stuck in traffic trying to come over from the Eastside, and we had to reschedule for today; a bit frustrating, since we'd originally planned to meet on Monday, so this was the second postponement we've done this week.

After that, it was more with the stuffing old, shredded blue jean insulation into the ceiling. We're gradually getting to the end-point of that part of the project, but we've only got a couple more days left in an already tight schedule to finish before Phase II is underway. It'll go "down to the wire", but I think we'll just make it, assuming my back doesn't go out on me completely in the meantime. I'm just not flexible enough anymore (assuming I ever was) to be executing some of the physical contortions required to simultaneously balance on top of a step-ladder positioning an uncooperative square of insulation into place with my head, and at the same time pay out and staple restraining cord around conduit, pipe and lighting fixtures; I guess that's what the Ibuprofen is for.

Despite some muscles already beginning to complain, I decided to stick around afterwards for a "movie night" instigated by the cast of our upcoming late-night show. They've been reviewing screw-ball comedies from the 1930's and 1940's, and last night they were showing "Road To Morocco", one of a string of Hope and Crosby "road pictures" (and by all accounts, the best of the lot). I've never really thought of myself as a "movie geek", so I was rather pleasantly surprised at how many of the 65 year-old "in jokes" I caught; I actually had to explain a couple to other people watching, because they were apparently THAT obscure.

I don't think I've ever seen this particular film before, although I'm sure I've seen at least one or two of the other incarnations they produced over the years. Still, it's evident pretty early on how influential this series was on later comedians and screen comedies; everything from Martin & Lewis, Woody Allen, and Mel Brooks - even Monty Python and perhaps distantly Rowan Atkinson could be cited as inheritors of the zany, ad-libbed, direct-to-the audience presentational style developed in the Road pictures, which themselves were probably influenced in no small measure by the likes of W.C. Fields and The Marx Brothers.

The plot of course, is almost an afterthought, and really only provides a framework for Hope, Crosby, and their perennial "straight man" Dorothy Lamour to crack jokes, set up sight-gags, good-naturedly insult each other (AND Paramount Pictures, which produced the films), and sing a few songs to boot. (For example, I hadn't realized until last night that "Moonlight Becomes You", a song I've used for years as an audition piece, was first presented in "Road To Morocco".)

It's also surprising how well the film holds up to a present-day audience, at least the small one watching last night, as the style and execution of much of the comedy is pretty "deconstructed" in terms of its self-reference, the breaking down of the "fourth wall" between actors and audience, the parodying of other film genres, and what must surely have been a lot of ad-libbing caught by the camera (the director clearly understood that some of the best material he would get came after the "take" officially ended). Pretty cutting-edged stuff for 1942.

A most enjoyable evening, all-in-all, even if I did get to bed late, and woke up this morning feeling sorer than I'd hoped I would.

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Posted byCOMTE on 11:48 AM

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Monday, February 25, 2008

If It Weren't For Bad Luck I'd Have No Luck At All

Got back from PDX late Saturday evening, and was fairly wiped most of Sunday. Still trying to eject the last clinging bits of the bug that hit two weeks ago - and people are telling me now that it might hang on for a couple more weeks before I feel completely back to normal. Tenacity, thy name is "rhinovirus".

Going back to the old "home town" (I wasn't born in Portland, but spent some of my most formative years there, and that, in addition to the large number of relatives who still live there, grants it hometown status) is always a bit of an adventure, and once again she didn't disappoint.

I got into town about mid-day on Friday, after a longish train ride down from Seattle, where my day began at the unconscionably early hour - for me at least - of 5:30 a.m. Managed a bit of a nap on the way down, and actually felt pretty alert by the time I disembarked. Our soon-to-be-ex-Portland Exec met me at the station, and we drove over to the office in SE PDX for a few hours of orientation, getting the lay of the office-land, where things were kept, etc., etc., all of which I'll need to pass on to her replacement - once they're hired. After getting down all the particulars, and taking a quick trip to the local bank branch to arrange a few details, she dropped me off at Powell's for an hour's worth of book nirvana while I waited for my hotel room to be readied prior to check-in.

Once safely ensconced, I headed over to "old town" for an early dinner, courtesy of the expense account, then started mapping out plans for the evening. I don't know that many people in Portland, aside from the relatives, almost all of whom were themselves out-of-town this weekend, so whatever I ended up doing, it was going to be solo. Fortunately, Portland has a lot to offer for a smallish-sized city, and I actually had a bit of a quandry deciding between a couple of musical groups I've followed for a few years, and going to see something in the way of theatre. I finally opted on going to see a play at a small theater not too far from my hotel.

That's one of the great things about Portland, it's a fairly walkable city, even though it's a lot more spread out physically than Seattle, for example. Being as I was on the northern edge of "downtown", just south of The Pearl District (a neighborhood that didn't even exist when I was growing up there some 35-odd years ago), I was nicely situated about equal-distance from several of the spots I was contemplating, and figured I'd walk to the theatre, and if time permitted, I could always grab a cab for a short ride to one of the music clubs.

Unfortunately, that turned out to not be feasible, since the show ran nearly three hours with intermission (and was a fine production, just longer than advertised), so I would have missed the two bands I wanted to see, even if I'd exercised that option.

By this time is was after 11:00, so I figured I'd just head back in the direction of the hotel and grab a late snack on the way. Not knowing exactly what I'd run into in terms of late-evening dining options, I kept going until I got a couple of blocks from my "home base", and decided on a pseudo-Irish joint called Jake's, which had a fairly substantial late-night appetizer menu. Since I was by myself, I figured I'd just sit in the bar, since there would be no waiting for a table, and as I wandered in, I was rather amazed to make eye contact with an actress I know - from Seattle! Turns out she, and a couple other mutual acquaintences had trekked down to see some other folks we all know in a show at another theatre, and had popped in for some aprez-theater libations and chit-chat.

So, I sat down with them, ordered a couple of snacks and a beer, and we were casually chatting away, when I glanced out the window and spied - yet another actor-person I know who lives in PDX. "Is that Olga?" I asked one of my table-mates, incredulous at the thought that we had all suddenly and synchronistically gravitated to the exact same location at the exact same time. Sure enough, I ran out the front door, and dragged her in for a brief reunion, after which, everyone went merrily their own way, shaking our heads in bemusement over what was truly a bizarre set of coincidental meetings.

But then, that's the sort of crazy thing that happens in Portland, and another reason why I still love the place so much.

I had originally set Saturday aside for family visitations, and purposefully booked a late return, but with nearly everyone unavailable, I really only had my grandmother on the schedule for the day. Unfortunately for me, she had recently moved to a residential home-care facility out in Gresham, and I had only the vaguest notion of how to get there. So, after a late "continental breakfast, Portland-style" consisting of a cup o' Stumptown coffee and a Voodoo Donut "bacon-maple bar" (!), I walked the four blocks down to Pioneer Square, where I caught the "blue line" light-rail heading eastbound.

And that's when things started to go very, very wrong.

Now, by "very, very wrong", I don't mean anything traumatic, or violent, or unsavory - just - wrong, as in "not at all according to plan". First off, it took far longer to get to Gresham than I'd anticipated, roughly on the order of an hour, and by this time it was already 3:00 p.m., and I knew I needed to be at the train station by about 5:30 to check in and what-not for my 6:00 departure. Secondly - I missed the bloody stop! Totally my fault, no excuses. I simply misjudged where I was, and ended up getting off two stops beyond where I needed to be. By the time I figured this out (not being able to locate the transit center was a BIG clue!), and finally demeaning myself by asking where the heck I was, then getting back on a west-bound MAX to the appropriate stop, THEN locating the correct bus stop, I'd wasted another 40 minutes.

And of course, the bus was running late.

So, by the time I got off at the nearest stop to my grandmother's it was about 4:00, meaning at best I'd only have a few minutes to spend with her before having to haul out back to downtown.

Which would have been the case, if I hadn't gotten completely turned around getting off the bus, and walking in the wrong direction to where I was supposed to be going. By the time I clued into that, I was about 4:20 p.m. and by my best, and decidedly uninformed estimate, I was more than a mile's walking distance from my intended destination. Needless to say, by this point I was starting to get a bit desperate, not to mention achy from having lugged an overnight bag laden with an extra 15 pounds or so of recently-purchased used hardback books on my back (in addition to a thick sheaf of documents I needed to bring back to Seattle) for several hours.

By the time I'd retraced my steps back to the bus stop, I calculated I had just enough time to get back on going the opposite direction, and catch the last possible MAX back to the City if I wanted to make my train. Calling my grandmother to let her know I wasn't going to make it after all was terribly disappointing; she was very good about it, and we had a pleasant phone conversation nonetheless, but I was mentally kicking myself the entire time for not having allowed more lee-way, and for not having brought along a map or at least more specific directions than the one's I'd downloaded a couple of days earlier - another reason, if people haven't already figured this out from their own experience, why one should never completely trust online mapping software.

So, that was a disappoinment, but for whatever it's worth, I did manage to make it to the station with a few extra minutes to spare before my train left.

Once we were underway, I was able to relax a bit, and the trip home was decidedly, and mercifully, uneventful. Got into town about 10:00 p.m. and cabbed home, where I managed to hit the hay by 11:00 after a rather frustrating day.

But of course, the run of questionable luck wasn't quite over, as I somehow managed to snap the throttle cable on my scooter yesterday afternoon - yes, the same one I just replaced about a month ago.

So far today, I seem to be - - out of the woods in terms of unfortunate and frustrating occurances. However, there are still a few hours left to go before I get to an "all clear" point.

Wish me (good) luck.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:16 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Goin' Out In Portland Town And See What I Can Do

Still trying to shuck out the last vestiges of the Death Gripe; it's been 10 days now, and I can still feel it rattling around loose in my lungs like change in an empty purse.

In other news, my boss just informed me he wants me to take a trip to Portland on Friday to help transition our office down there. The office manager is leaving at the end of the week, and our regional office hasn't hired a replacement yet, so we need to coordinate getting phone lines and mail temporarily forwarded, get keys, etc., etc. So, I'll hop Amtrak early Friday morning, get to town by mid-day, and have the evening and most of Saturday free before heading back, and mostly on the company's dime. Hopefully, I can squeeze in some family visiting whilst in town.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:41 PM

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And All This Science I Don't Understand,
It's Just My Job Five Days A Week

Happy Birthday Chuck

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Posted byCOMTE on 9:29 PM

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Won't Live Long, And I'm Full Of Rot

Now I know why they call them "rhinoviruses", because it feels like someone has stuffed a whole rhinoceros up yer snoot; and then let it stampede down into your lungs when it's done rampaging around your sinus cavities.

I blame the Democrats. The filthy, disease-ridden donkeys, and their "let's jam 2,000 people into an elementary school gymnasium for an hour, while they breath on each other, and spread teh SARS all over each other like Miracle Whip on a baloney and Wonder Bread sandwich".

And also the Children, because we all know what sort of pestilence-laden vector your average third-grader is on the best of days.

It's a simple and obvious equation:

Massive Caucus Turn-out + Grade School = DEATH!

After being out two days of work, I got back this morning to find that one of my two other officemates was also knocked down with the same bug. My boss was actually glad we both stayed home; he hasn't caught it yet, and figured he'd be safer in an empty office, than one where the two of us were spraying our viral-laden exhalations into the air like DDT on an apple orchard.

Can't say as I blame him, either.


Posted byCOMTE on 5:02 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Vote, Baby, Vote

Today is Caucus Day for Democrats in WA state.

My precinct caucus was held at an elementary school about 10 blocks away, and it was PACKED! My completely rough estimate is that between 3,000 and 3,500 people showed up (WA 37th Legislative is the most heavily Democratic leaning district in the state).

Here's a photo of the crowd inside the school's gym, where about a quarter of the precincts caucused:

It got so crowded just before we broke up into our indivual precinct caucuses that a school official got on the intercom to beg people to vacate the building once they'd registered their vote, so that they could get the capacity inside the building down below fire-code limits.

From the looks of things a lot of people were clearly first-timers, because there seemed to be quite a bit of confusion about the process: people had trouble figuring out their precincts, then locating them, then figuring out how to register their preferences. The volunteers were for the most part helpful, but it was a little appalling that I actually had to explain to one of them how things progressed through the county and state caucus process (I was a state delegate for Edwards in 2004).

Still, people figured things out pretty quickly, and we had our final vote count: 81 for Obama, 9 for Clinton, 2 undecided; tallied up about 15 minutes after we started.

(Here's our PCO and another volunteer counting up the votes)

From what I was able to observe, most of the other precincts in the gym were running similar totals, with Obama dominating at about 7 or 8-to-1. Based on reports I'm seeing at local newspaper web sites and on other blogs, it looks like Obama is going to run away with WA with at least a 4-to-1 majority of delegates.

I've seen a lot of comments around the sites complaining about the messiness and seeming chaos of the caucusing process; it disenfranchises people who couldn't make it to their caucus; there were too many last-minute site changes due to the unprecedented turnout; it took too much time; etc., etc. Yeah, it's messy, and at times may appear disorganized (we're Democrats, after all!), but, I for one appreciate the direct, face-to-face, participatory nature of it all. You get to meet your neighbors, engage in some one-on-one dialogue and debate, and people have the opportunity to represent their immediate locale as the process continues to the county, and later state conventions. Sure, it's not a "secret" ballot, in the sense that people are looking over your shoulder as you state your preference, but it also means you get to defend your choice in a public forum, and perhaps even, occasionally sway someone to change their vote.

I did learn one important lesson today - which surprisingly, had absolutely nothing to do with politics: a "death coffee" (my recipe: a square of 87% cocoa dark chocolate - although in this instance I had to settle for a generous squeeze of chocolate syrup - melted into a medium drip coffee with a shot of espresso "depth charged" into it), PLUS a Cupcake Royale "Deathcake" is, as one might suspect a potentially DEADLY combination. Four hours later and I'm still so wired I swear the molecules at the tips of my fingers are actually vibrating THROUGH the molecules of my keyboard; the action really feels just a little "stickier" than normal.

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Posted byCOMTE on 5:00 PM

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Answer My Friend Is Blowing In The Wind

When I got in to work on Monday, I noticed our landlord had attached two enormous "Ron Paul For President" signs to the posts holding up the large neon sign and clock outside our building. Okay, great. I'm not a Paul supporter, but it's his building, so he's entitled to express his opinion and all that.

Yesterday afternoon, as a rather windy rain squall that passed through, one of the signs was unceremoniously ripped from its anchorage; someone from one of the other offices rushed out to retrieve it, presumably to prevent it from being blown into traffic, or against one of the cars parked in the adjacent lot.

When I came in this morning, I noticed the second sign (each was facing a different direction) had also been blown off the post, and had been jammed between the two support pylons, to keep it from blowing away completely.

I'm not much of a believer divine justice or whatever, but all of this certainly seems to describe, in euphemistic terms at least, the overall state of Mr. Paul's campaign to-date.

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Posted byCOMTE on 2:08 PM

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Youre A Candle In The Window On A Cold, Dark Winters Night

Occasionally, I am afforded the rare and distinct honor to sit in the booth during our monthly late-night cabaret. This month, I was asked to video-tape the show, to capture some archival footage for submission to our local annual summer arts festival.

Now, it's a small sort of booth; in point of fact not really a "booth" at all, just a platform behind the audience where we cram the light and sound boards, and anyone else who needs to be at the back of the house. This month, we packed in four ops: lights, sound, video, and a still photographer, so it was rather cozy.

But, it's also a lot of fun. We get to make snarky comments about the acts and performers - if justified - some consumption of adult beverages takes place (and due to the cramped nature of our space, this usually involves the luxury of table - er, booth service), and because the whole process is very loose and on-the-fly, we also get to be a little creative in the execution of our various and sundry duties (an example of my, um, "creative videography" can be seen here.)

This month's show was a real peach, and included (among other things): a mock-Bollywood musical production number; a story-teller who consumed an entire six-pack of Rainer Beer in ten-ish minutes; three thirty-second dances; Southern Gothic shadow puppets; a pretentious - and long - dance/art/film piece (much snarkiness ensued); one bona-fide national celebrity who performed an AMAZING, off-the-cuff, improvisational monologue about the history of our building; the aforementioned Gude/Laurance doing their traditional monthly Gude/Laurance stuff; all topped off with some tag-team smut reading (also a monthly tradition).

Now, one would think the above would be more than sufficient to sate both our aesthetic, not to mention our prurient sensibilities, but one of the advantages of being the last ones out of the theatre on a night like this is that, occasionally, magically - THINGS HAPPEN THAT NO ONE ELSE SEES!

I don't want to get into too much detail, because, well, frankly it would spoil some of the "specialness" of the moment, not to mention slightly embarrass the people involved. Let's just say, it involved an REO Speedwagon song, two slightly tipsy, but nevetheless, unquestionable straight young women, and, um - yeah, I think that's all you really need to know.

Before you start to get any funny ideas (too late, I know), let me just say that the um, "performance" was more suggestive than graphic, and nothing that could even remotely be considered illegal or immoral occured. But still, it was - wow.

As they say, position does have its privileges.

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Posted byCOMTE on 1:36 PM

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In The Velvet Darkness Of The Blackest Night Burning Bright

Oh, and in case any of the three of you was wondering WHY I have no time to cook this week:

Hey, turning your recently cleaned up theatre space into a "post-Apocalyptic Wonderland" isn't easy! Those pipes and girders and duct work aren't going to hang themselves, you know!

Opens Friday.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:40 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Choppin' Broccoli-eeee

Got home last night after pulling a 13-hour work day (our annual Membership Meeting was last night), to find a large lidded plastic tub chock-full o' delicious organic goodies parked on the front step: Broccoli, carrots, squash, kale, arugula, onions, pears, apples, oranges, yams, grapefruit, baby bok choy, and cabbage; definitely a good week's worth of fruits & veggies. The amounts (esp. the fruits) are somewhat smaller than the quantities listed on their web site, but that was expected because I opted for the single size, as opposed to the standard size bin. Still, it's an awful lot of food - do organic vegetarians really eat THIS MUCH?

Now the issue becomes: will I be able to consume all of this before I get another deliver in a week? The issue isn't so much, CAN I cook and consume it all in seven days, but more, WHEN am I going to find the TIME? Wednesday is the only free night I have before the weekend, and I've already got four meals prepped in the fridge, due to my attempt to cook up as much of what I already had in-stock beforehand, so right now, my little half-sized refrigerator is already full-to-bursting. Taking it to work isn't really an option at the moment, since after last night's meeting we have enough left-overs to keep my two officemates and myself reasonably well-fed for several days. The best I can hope for is to try to scarf through as much of the left-overs as I can before say, Saturday, then cook up a huge mess of - something - to clear out the veggie bin before the next load shows up on Monday.

Either that, or I start subbing, which is an option. I have a feeling I'll go through the fruits pretty quickly, since those are easy to just throw into a pocket or bag and munch on-the-go. So, maybe for next week, I'll ask them to load up the bin heavy on the apples & pears, and not so much on the greens and roots, which I already have in over-abundance.

Everybody should be faced with this sort of dilemma, eh? Having TOO MUCH FOOD.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:09 PM

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