Thursday, May 29, 2008

what is going on.

Just for you faithful readers. I am hanging out at home, leaving for Philly on Tuesday. So, no blogs about the Corporate Theater happening till then.

I would post a photo of what I am doing now, but no one wants to see me passed out with a bottle of Jack Daniels spilled across my chest.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Ok, For whatever reason... my normal photo posting methods are not cutting it anymore.
So, it all goes back to the beginning and I am once again posting on Flickr.
Flickr allows a bulk upload process which makes it soooooo much easier.

My old Flickr site was

hope you enjoy... I am sure it will change again nothing ever stays the same on the inter-web
I did however post a few just below this one for your enjoyment.

I made it out alive!

The show ended, and we all just basically walked away. We felt the Russian crew didn't deserve our help on the strike and load out. So, we were out of there. 
We met in the bar in the hotel for a drink, and then shortly thereafter we went to the Japanese place that Eric and I went to on Sunday. We ended up getting a couple of tables out on the patio in front, and had a ton of Sushi. It was really good and a nice way to end a pretty hard week.
The one good tech from the Russian crew joined us, and then after dinner took us to an Irish pub to watch the Chelsea/Manchester soccer game. We stayed there till the game was over, and then finally left around 2:00 am. 
The next morning Rob and I were going to try to meet at 10:00 am for breakfast, but we both were entirely to exhausted, so we ended up somewhere around 11:00 am in the lobby. 
We hired a van from the front desk to take us over to the other hotel, and were pleasantly surprised at how perfect the place was for our needs. Nothing flashy, but not a dive either. 

Once we dumped off our stuff, we were in desperate need of fast food. We hiked back over to Nevsky Prospect and went to Carls Jr. We downed some greasy cheese burgers  and then headed over to the souvenir fair to pick up some Russian gak. 
Back to the hotel and I was exhausted... ready for a nap. Staying out till 2:00 am just isn't as easy as it used to be.

Rob wanted to go to the Hermitage though, and so off we went!
By the time we got there we had about an hour and a half to see the museum. We went in and I was really amazed at the beauty of the actual museum. The Art was gorgeous as well, but the interior of the building was fantastic!

After the Museum, we went to a restaurant for a beer, and shot some pool. We were really tired, and didn't want to spend a lot of money or time on dinner, so we went to McDonalds and had a delicious Big Mac and some tasty Chicken Mc nuggets. then back to the hotel to crash. The next day we got to the airport and it was very confusing! We finally just followed the crowd through a doorway, and found that before you even get to the ticket counter, you have to go through security. Once you figured that out, it was pretty painless. I sat in the lounge for a while, and then off to the gate.

I landed in frankfurt with plenty of time, but no tickets. So, I had to find a United counter to get boarding passes printed.  From this point on, I started feeling very run down.  By the time my plane landed in DC I was feeling really bad. Home in Greensboro by midnight, and I didn't know if I was going to make the drive home. I collapsed into bed and have not moved since Friday night. Today is Memorial day, and I am actually feeling like I am going to survive.

Here are a few more photos from Russia.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Show

I have typed a few different sentences and then backspaced over them to start this blog. I just have no idea where to start. 
The madness started out in the General Session when Eric turned on the first microphone and found that the simultaneous interpretation vendor was taking the feed from the PA and sending it so hot into the earphones that the 120 earphones were louder than the PA system.
The lighting instrument that we were using to project a gobo was most likely right out of the box, and it started smelling up the room with a burnt paint smell.
Then the stage right projector decided to just overheat and turn itself off. 
Then the stage Left projector crapped out. We called for a back up and a brand new back up lamp. George ripped apart the machine and worked on it for a bit... to no avail. 

It took hours... like 5 hours to get them to bring us the new gear. 
Then towards the end of the day, we lost the front couple of rows of microphones so I had to become mic runner boy. 
Everyone needed a drink last night... that is for sure.

Today... smooth sailing. You wouldn't think that there were any issues at all.

Oh... Besides the fact that the Russian AV crew stinks. Beyond the idea that they are not good at the  job... The have more body odor than just about anything I have ever smelled.
All I can tell you.. is don't get into the elevator with them.. take the next one!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Our call ended at 10:00 pm last night. The dinner was held in the Admiralty room which we are using as the break out for this morning. We rocked in there with an LCD projector and a couple wireless mics, and within a half hour, AV was pretty much set. We didn’t tape any of the cables down because the hotel had not moved the tables around from dinner.


This morning, we walked into the room, and go figure. The hotel not only had not moved the tables around, but they also ignored the fact that the room was going to be used as a break out today and set it for dinner this evening. After asking, begging, and pleading for them to reset the room, and move the tables from the very front. Our meeting planner Tina gave up and started moving tables and chairs herself. Meanwhile, there were two housemen sitting in the room, at the tables Tina was moving. Not bothering to help even in the slightest. When she got to the table that they were sitting at… They just stared at her. Finally when they didn’t get the idea, she looked right at them, and said “MOVE”

They figured that one out, but never helped us move the tables and chairs.

Finally after Rick, Tina, and I finished moving all the Tables and Chairs, some supervisor woman came up to us and asked if they could help. We said, “No, not now” and then she snapped something in Russian to the Ivan and Igor, and they started moving some chairs. Igor, being about the laziest houseman I have ever seen is dragging a chair across the floor, and nails the power cable that is taped down feeding the projector. He cut the thing right in half. What a pain. I then had to go find another extension cable, and although that seems like it should be easy, here in Russia, nothing is easy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Let me make myself very clear!

The Russian TD came up to Rick and asked what time did their techs need to be here in the morning. 
Rick - 7:30 am. 

TD - 7:30 am

Rick - Yes

TD - Ummmmm 8:30?

Rick - (with his face turning red faster than an Astronaut on the sun with nothing but a speedo)

Rick - NO.... Let me make myself very clear! Everything we have asked for has not happened on time. This is why I asked for everything the first day when we talked. The crew hasn't eaten, we are going to be here past 10:00 pm.  7:30 am... Not 8:00 am, Not 8:30 am, Not, oh... I hope they show up at 9:00 am.... 7:30 am!

TD - uuhhh... ok

Rick - Do I make my self clear? 

TD - (blank stare) yes

AV in Russia

After we met with the equipment vendor yesterday we felt pretty good that we had avoided some major issues. They had intended to provide us with a Video switcher that was a 4 channel composite switcher. We told them that we needed a seamless VGA switcher that would handle a minimum of 4 computers. 
They understood, and told us they would get one.

This morning, this is what showed up.
So those of you in the business, will know that when we asked for a Seamless VGA switcher... we were expecting something a bit different. 

Oh, and the power Tie-in... it speaks for itself!

Hours later after waiting for a new switcher, this epic piece of equipment showed up. A crash switch. Strike 32-45 

There has been so many lost in translation moments so far that it would be impossible to keep count.
Everything from the basics like no gaff tape, to a $200 lighting board instead of the Whole Hog II that we finally were able to get. 7.5' x 10' screens in a room with a 10' ceiling. Pipe and Drape is not a few uprights and cross bars. It is 40' of lighting truss with gray cloth gaffed to it, and the list goes on and on.

The other part of the equation is that the hotel has just gone through a major renovation. So, amidst the carnage of our AV setup, there is the constant sound of hammer drilling, dust everywhere, and Hotel staff that could never find a reason to smile at a guest even if they worked at Disney for the next 35 years.

Last night, Eric decided to take a photo of the flowers in the lobby. He was instantly harassed by a security guard and asked if he was a guest. Then he was asked for his room number, and then that just wasn't good enough. The security guard then told him he had to go to the front desk. When he asked why, he was just ignored and told to go to the front desk. 

It was a mess and pretty annoying.

The sun doesn't set here till 11:15, and that makes it hard to get adjusted to sleep.

The show starts tomorrow, it is almost 6:00 pm and right now.... we are just rounding the corner to start the climb up success mountain.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Sushi... in Russia

We landed in Russia, and stood in line in passport control. Anxiety rising just a little... I walked up to the booth and handed my passport and arrival/departure card to the woman behind the glass. She didn't even look up. She took my documents and started pounding on a keyboard that I couldn't see, and when I say pounding... I mean you would have thought she was using a hammer!
After a short time, which felt all together too long, she looked up, stared me in the eyes, and then looked down and pounded some more. Then I heard the sound of the rubber stamp slamming it's way onto the pages, and she all but through the passport at me and I was halfway there.

We went over to the baggage claim area and shortly received our bags, and now was the final test.
Russian soil, or Russian Rubber glove.

There were two doors ahead. One door was green, and one was red. Green was nothing to declare, and Red was declarations. The green door had a sign that said, "If you hesitate, you should use the red door." Well, thanks for the advice! Without hesitating, I put my head down, and started walking at the pace of a New York Commuter. Like I owned the place.
Once you go through the green door, there are X-ray machines, and they can randomly pull you out of the line and run all your luggage through a security check. 

The distance between the sweet free air of Russia and ending up in a concrete room trying to find answers to questions that you don't have is only about 20 feet. 

There were official looking people in uniforms pretty much ignoring me, as I crossed the threshold into Russia. I was in!

I heard footsteps behind me and some dude say "Sir, please, your bags on the X-ray. I looked back still rolling forward, and Rob had gotten snagged for a random bag check.
I couldn't wait right there for him, so I walked outside the secure area, and waited. 

About 3 minutes later, Rob came out and had no problems. Woo hoo, we are all in Russia now.

The transportation was a bit insane, as we seven people and luggage for about 30.

Rick and I ended up in some ones car with Luggage on our laps, and basically Rick sitting on top of me. He was in the middle and I was against the door. 
This guy drove so hardcore and fast, that there were a couple of times that I was sure we were going to clip another car or slide into a bus on the way through an intersection.
Apparently, we were not the only ones that had a crazy ride either. Eric and Evan had about the same experience although maybe a little bit worse!

We got to the hotel, met with the AV Vendor. Straightened a few things out, and then all met down in the hotel bar. After a few drinks, and many laughs, a few of us decided to go to the restaurant in the hotel and eat dinner. I had a great chef's salad, and a really tasty club sandwich. And then off to bed. Rob, Eric, and I agreed to meet at 8:00 am for breakfast and photos starting at 9:00 am. 
I went to my room, climbed into bed, and had to close the drapes, because the sun doesn't set here till about 11:15 pm. I fell asleep for about a half hour, and then woke up and was up till about 1 or 2 in the morning. 

The alarm went off too early today and I went down for breakfast and there was no sign of Rob.
Eric and I went off on our own, and saw some cool churches and buildings. We tried to get some good photos, but it was cloudy and then it started to rain. We ended up finding a cool little souvenir fair, and bought some little stuff. Then we were hungry. So, we walked back to the main drag, and found a hip Japanese place. I ordered some sushi and Eric got some soup and then a cool dish of chicken and pineapple. I was still hungry after my sushi, so I got the same dish. It was really good, and we headed back to the hotel.

The boys had arranged for a bus tour around the city at 3:00 pm. I wanted to go, but I was just feeling exhausted after my night of not much sleep. So, I bailed on the tour, and went to my room and slept so deeply, I am feeling a lot better than I was.
Scotty called me up and we both walked around the corner and hit the Russian McDonalds for a Big Mac meal.

It was really tasty. I mean... you gotta eat McDonalds around the world. It is like a little slice of home heaven!

After we got back to the hotel it was about 5:00 pm, and we went to check the ballroom. The vendor had told us that starting at 1:00 pm, they would be bring gear into the ballroom for our setup tomorrow. 

At 5:00 pm... the ballroom was a ghost town! Not one piece of equipment or anything at all has been loaded in so far. I have a feeling, this is the kind of place where it really doesn't matter what they say... You get what you get when they decide to give it to you.


Last day in Prague

After we finished tearing down the show and putting it back in the trucks in the rain, the sun came out, and we all hung out in the loading doc and had a party. Upon Evans suggestion, Scotty, Horst and Andrea went to a market and bought 3 cases of beer, Sausages, Cheese, Bread, Peppers, Tomatoes, Proscuito, Chips and I am sure other things that I am forgetting.

We all had a really great time, filled with laughter and stories. 
It was really a great way to end the show.

I tried to leave the party as soon as I could, so I could get to my room and pack. It was still around midnight before I went to bed. I really need to learn how to not over pack!


The alarm went off at 6:30 and I snoozed for a bit. I was already packed so, it didn’t take long to get up and out of my room.

As I was checking out, Rick showed up, and then George.

Pretty soon, the rest of the group was all down, and we got on a small bus and headed to the Prague airport. Check in was really no big deal, and we ended up sitting in a restaurant having a drink and waiting for our plane. 
I am now on the plane writing this brief update, which I am sure will have some interesting stories, as we are landing in St Petersburg Russia. 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Heading to Russia

In about 45 minutes we head to Russia. Because we ran out of time, some of us did not get a business visa to enter Russia, so we are traveling on tourist visas. The rule is that on a tourist visa, you are not allowed to preform any tasks that would be considered work. 
So, the official line is that we are attending a meeting.
I hope this works. I am not ready to sit in a room and be interrogated by the Russians.

Maybe the 20 pounds of camera equipment will be enough to make them believe I am just an American tourist.

So, if this is the last post you ever see on Life in the Corporate Theater, you will understand. I don't think they will give me Internet access in Siberia. Someone should really pick up where I have left off. 

Today should be an experience, that is for sure!

some photos finally

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Quick Update

Today is the first day of the show. It is 8:00 am currently, and the show starts at 9:00 am. 
I will be running a break out this morning for an hour, and then playing the role of stage hand in the GS most likely during the afternoon. 
It isn't glamorous, but someone has to do it.

Last night we all worked till about 7:00 - 7:30. Then went to the bar for a drink, and I ended up staying there with Evan and having dinner. There is something about an international club sandwich that is pretty satisfying! I try to have one in every country that I am in. 

The client came down and joined us for a drink. He is really one of the nicest guys that you will ever meet, and he really shows us how much he appreciates the work we do.
I got to bed around 11:00 pm and slept really well. The phone rang at 6:00 am and I woke up with a start feeling like I had overslept and missed my call. I hate that.

The city of Prague really has been wonderful! the photo opportunities have been amazing, and the food is great! We have been taking the Tram, Subway and Cabs to get around the city. Cabs are pretty expensive, but the Subway and Tram is cheap.
It takes about 15 minutes to get downtown, and when you get there, you wander around and see so much cool architecture as well as tons of people enjoying the city.

A bunch of us went to dinner downtown, and when we got off the subway, Rob and I started clicking away. We walked by a church that had just finished the service, and Rob and I jumped in to try and get some photos.
As soon as we started, we were told that the church was closing. So, I begged for just 2 minutes to rocket off a few shots.
The guy wasn't happy about it, but he let me shoot a few, and then Rob and I told the rest of the group that we were going to bail on dinner and just keep shooting. 
The sun was setting and the sky was gorgeous! We shot photos of the St Charles bridge for the next hour or so, and then realized we were completely starving. So, we dived into a Chinese restaurant, and had a great, cheap meal sitting outside.  Took the train back to the hotel, and realized that we had hopped on the wrong train. We jumped off at the next stop, and then finally found a cab which took us all over the city trying to find the hotel. We finally got back around midnight, and crashed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blogging in Prague

I have been remiss in keeping the Blog updated as much as I would like to have. However, I have a good excuse. We have been out shooting photos of the most amazing city I have ever seen!

I landed in Prague at 9:40 in the morning, after an awful connection in Frankfurt. 
I arrived in Frankfurt and had about 1 hour to make my connecting flight. So, I followed the signs to the gate that I was supposed to leave from and it took me through passport control. That is not a good thing. Now, I am outside the secure area, and have to go back through security which is just going to take more time. 
I also had not been given my boarding pass for the next flight, and had to check in at the Lufthansa counter. So, after finally getting some paperwork to get through the check point, I rushed over to security because the lady at the ticket counter told me I was going to have to run. They were already boarding the plane. 

At Security, I got stopped and they made me empty my camera bag. Completely! Then they took me around a corner and checked every lens for explosives. 

I had 4 minutes left....

Finally they let me go, and I started running. 26 gates through a crowded airport and I was huffing and puffing, sweating, and just about to collapse. 
I made the flight however, and landed in Prague at 9:40 am.  Then I had a pleasant surprise. There was a driver waiting for me with my name on a sign. 
He took my bags, and put me in a new mercedes and about 20 minutes later I was at the hotel.
Checked in and took a quick nap. 
Then I decided to go out and explore the city by myself for a while because I was hungry. 
So, I will post a few photos of my first experience in Prague. 

I am having trouble uploading to the blog, so Here is the link to the photos so far.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Heading to Czech Republic.

So, I am sitting on a 747-400 and using my AT&T Aircard. We are still at the gate and the door is open, but I feel like they are going to shut me down any minute. 
I video called Rick and that was fun to do while on the airplane. It isn't often that you get to play around with technology like that.
The meal is Prawns appetizer, Tomato/pepper salad and then Filet Mignon for dinner, followed up by ice cream for desert with sundae toppings.

There is the announcement that they are closing the doors. So, I am done for the next 7 hours.

More once I get to the hotel in Prague!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

When it Rains... It Pours

I was just finishing up packing when I started to hear thunder... lots o thunder!
Then flash after flash about every 10 seconds there were about 15 flashes. 
The wind started to pick up, so I flipped on the TV and saw a tornado watch for the county I live in and the surrounding areas.
Over the course of about 30 minutes the wind and rain picked up to about 50 miles an hour! The hanging ferns were horizontal, and the Rockers on the front porch flipped over and blew onto the steps.
It turns out that the heart of the tornado was about 1 mile away. Then came more rain, and finally when I thought it might be dying down... Huge chunks of hail.
The storm is moving north east.

Great.. just what I need! I am flying out of Greensboro tomorrow morning, which is East of here. 
Landing in Washington DC, which is North East of here. 
I am sure I am going to get delayed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

International Travel

I am headed out on Friday to Prague, Czech Republic, and then directly to Saint Petersburg Russia. I am still waiting for my Russian visa which should be here on Wednesday with my passport. My friend Rob and I are arriving a day early in Prague to see some sights and shoot some photos of this amazing city. 
Prague should be the normal part of this trip. Russia however, is going to be something entirely different. The hotel is in the middle of a huge renovation, and when our lighting director went there last week for a site survey, he found that the ballroom that we are going to be setting up in is completely torn apart, wiring hanging out of the ceiling, and construction materials everywhere. It should be a trip! Rob and I are staying for an extra day in Russia as well.  

After the Europe trip is over, in June, I head to Philadelphia for a few days, then straight to Boston for a week, and back to back... right to Chicago. There is some potential that I may fly to Chile South America, and then right from there to Brussels. Either way, Brussels is for sure. 

So, the next two months are going to be amazing, and full of tremendous opportunity and experiences.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Back from Florida

I went to the front of the hotel and asked a Valet for a taxi to the airport, and he just looked at me and said, " I can't help you" you need to go talk to the transportation desk. So, I went inside... had to wait till this guy finished his personal phone call. He didn't actually hang up the call... just put the caller on hold. Then after I asked for a taxi, he picked the call back up and told them he had to call them back.
Already bad service. The valet could have just gone in and told the guy to call a taxi for a guest... but that was not his job, and he made sure to let us know that we were asking the wrong person. Then, the guy behind the transportation desk on the phone with a personal call. How do I know he was on a personal call? Well... "Later Dude" is probably not the Boca Raton Resort and Club's policy on how to finish a business call.

So,  I ask for a taxi to the airport, and the guy asks what time my flight is. I tell him, but just wishing I could get someone to say no problem, right away. I am only asking for a taxi....
So, he picks up his nextel, and direct connects someone... I am hoping it is the taxi dispatcher, but overhearing an entirely too loud cell conversation, I hear it is a driver.
He tells me that the "Driver" will be here in 10 minutes.
I say "Driver?" he says yes. I say "Is that a Taxi?" he says.. "No, a Driver" I ask how much it is going to cost, and he tells me without blinking an eye. $96.60 
My cab from the airport was $66.00 
Now, I am livid. I looked him right in the eye, and said, "I don't want a "Driver" I asked you for a taxi, a metered taxi" He just looks at me with blank eyes, and then makes one last attempt to rip me off. He says "Well, sir, that may take between 5 and 20 minutes" 
I say "Thats fine.. just get me a taxi" 

I just can't believe how many people that they overcharge by pulling this racket, and they just think it is ok. 
The taxi showed up in about 5 minutes, and the driver was a great guy, nice to chat with and he informed us that the transportation desk guy would get fired if he accepted kick backs from limo companies. Not worth my time.. but tempting.

I guess I have to apologize to the slime bag valets at Disney who do the same racket, They aren't the only ones who are ripping people off, and if I somehow in my first blog implied that they were the only ones, I sincerely apologize to them. I would feel bad if I hurt there feelings.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Heading to Florida

I am once again sitting in the airport in Greensboro at 5:00 am. The alarm went off at 3:30 am and I thought I was in a dream, so I just ignored it, unfortunately, it did not go away.
So, up and out the door by 4:00 am and at the airport by 4:30 parked, checked in. All seems well.
I am headed down to Boca Raton, Florida. The hotel we are working at this time is called the Boca Raton Resort and Club. A real high end place. Except.... I have worked there a number of times, and so have most of the guys, and none of us, not one of us, actually like the place. They have this way about them that makes you feel like you are in their way. I haven't been there in many years, and that is my impression. We shall see if they have changed, but I am pretty sure that it is still the same. One of the techs on the show flew in last night and his report was par for the course, he already had some challenges just getting a non smoking room.

The good news is, that I am only there for one night, and back on a plane tomorrow evening after the show. 
Last time we did this show, it was in NY, at the hotel with the longest room key in the world. I am serious, the card key for the room had to be 6" long. 
In NY, I was audio for the main room, and Matt was audio for the second room. Evan was TD. Evan couldn't make this show, so I am TD this time, and Eric will take my place as A1. Matt is still A1 for the second room. It will be nice to see Matt again. We have only worked together about 5 or 6 times, but I feel like I have known the guy forever. 
Eric is always good for a bunch of laughs, so this should be a pleasant gig.