Friday, September 6, 2013

You'll never have lunch in this country again

First an aphorism;

"If you are a little behind on a project, skip lunch.  If you are a lot behind on a project, have a good lunch."

It's one way to work smarter, not harder.  The instinct is to push yourself.  So you push even though you are physically slowing down, and you are getting stupid.  When you are really far behind, tunnel vision sets in.  It is too easy to fall into this behavior pattern of just working, working, through the night, maybe somehow it will okay.

Eat.  Rest.  Take breaks as necessary.  Get enough sleep.  All of that time will return to you twice-fold as it is only when you are rested and fed that you can reach and sustain peak efficiency.

And if the project is in dire trouble?  This is the best time to stop cold.  Don't grudgingly stop to eat, race through a meal, throw yourself back into it.  Go away.  Get out of the shop, put some kind of mental barrier out there (like clearing the work table and setting out a proper meal).  Because the thing to do it not just keep plugging and somehow it will all work out (even though sometimes it does -- generally to the detriment of everyone else on the project as well).

The thing to do is stop and figure out what you can change.  Where you can cut corners or compromise, or how you can add more labor, or if there is something that can be moved from the Friday deliverable to delivery closer to opening.  Find a better way to solve the project.

At the very least, work out priorities and target dates and figure out where you actually have to be.

But don't just blindly keep pushing until you collapse.  I've seen it.  I've done it.  It isn't pretty.

Second, an observation.

Stage Managers are the Sound Effects Man during rehearsals.  Sometimes this can be a problem, as they are leading the cast to expect something quite different than what you were going to design.  It is the same effect as temp tracks in Hollywood.

But I've noticed lately -- and the is multiple stage managers, in different theaters and different towns;

Sirens go "Wee woo wee woo."  And telephones go "Ring ring.  Ring ring.  Ring ring."

Thing is, I'm not in Europe.  The standard telephone ring in the US (when we still had dial phones) is a single ring (2-second ring, 4-second pause).  Not the double-ring of England.  And the siren (before electronic sirens) was a long wail, not the European two-tone.

Why are those the standards?  Is it because they are easier to pronounce?  Is is because no-one remembers any more what a Bell telephone sounded like?

Incidentally, my upcoming show I'm intending to ring an old dial phone.  I have a couple of ring signal generators (90v AC at 20 Hz.)  My intention is to switch it via MIDI, however, so QLab can run the phone just like any other sound cue.

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