please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Monday, March 26, 2007


At Thanksgiving most recent, we did a modified version of the 'what I am thankful for' thing. Participation wasn't mandatory. If I had done it though, I might very well have said, "I am thankful for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees."
I only sort of would have been joking. I view that body, like all organizations, as mostly being there to protect the mediocre and send money to Someone Else, Somewhere Else, while serving as a fantastic scale model of Mendacity and Incompetence in action. But on the other hand, what exactly am I but a carpenter of medium skill level, an electrician who barely understands it, though a superb warehouseman? Perhaps I truly am the sort of mediocre worker who needs job security just like anyone. Hence: the union.

And when I went before the membership committee, in January, I was asked the usual question: why do you want to be part of this organization?
Because, I said, I've been doing this sort of work for years, and it's about time I started being paid well for it.
The three-person committee gave me a laugh that was a bit more than courteous. The largest of the three saying something along the lines of "...very hedonistic...", to which I replied, "No. Realistic."
Of all things, being called 'hedonistic' by a man easily heavier than 350 pounds was something I didn't expect that day. Nor was any sort of Materialist Dialectic type rhetoric. They really sort of ARE Commies.

Then I was given a pop quiz. I did poorly due to my lack of knowledge on the terminology of most things theatrical. I proved that in a practical setting, I would have known what was what and how to use it, but not what it was called, necessarily.
I sat around for a month waiting for a reply. At the end though, there was the fat man again, on my phone.
"You interested in some work?" he asked.
"Well yeah...Uh, so I take it that I'm still on the extras list?"
"Don't worry about that."
"But I've kind of been sitting here for a month Not Knowing, shortly after being ambushed with a Pop Quiz..."
"Look, really: don't worry about it. You're fine."
"But I never saw a letter, as was promised. It was way longer than the two weeks I was quoted...I just-"
"Do you want to work or not?"
"Well, of course I do, you just gotta understand that I never know anything as far as you guys go. You're so...Light on the info. So I'm just gonna ask: Am I still on The List?"
"Yes. Didn't I just tell you that?"
"Not exactly you didn't. I just wanna make sure."
"...See Rich, this is why you and I should never drink together..."
"We'd empty out the bar in no time, I suspect."

So I've done a few things here and there since then ('Annie', Rod Stewart, World Wrestling Entertainment, Rascal Flatts, 'The Wiggles' touring show), but we're in another down period.
I got a phone call today. It seems that I have two hundred-ten working hours with the local. You need one hundred-sixty to apply for full membership.
I need to brush up on my knot tying skills, and terminology. They will no doubt ask me to explain to them-in terms they find acceptable-two possible ways to stage a piece of scenery, they will ask me to demonstrate a superior knowledge of three of the four knots every stagehand must know (the bowline, the clove hitch, the figure eight...I couldn't tell you the fourth), and other such things. The Handbook (which I just now found out existed) is available to me for twenty dollars.
And there's no doubt an application fee, on top of the dues I already pay. Then there's the 401-K that currently has fifteen dollars in it, since some employers pay into it and others don't. The possiblilty of health benefits (which means I could finally cancel all business relations with my family) is there...I hate organizations, as they seem to make us all a little more stupid, but I do have a great deal of pride in my work. Above all else, having been all manner of things in my working life, this here is the first thing in a long time I've found that I can do without it making me sick to my stomach, each and every morning.

There's a couple of the oldsters (they make up most of the local; a lot of us talk openly about waiting for a great many of them to die off) who don't like me at all, but many more who clearly have my back. We'll see about this.

On that list I hyper-linked up there, I see I neglected to mention my brief stint as a radio engineer. I wonder how many other things I left off.



Blogger disco boy said...

i know a few knots. the old, stupid joke is that this makes me a kninny, a knumbskull, and possibly a knerd. but, as like a number of tall, white kids from my neck of the woods might... i took a few sailing lessons in elementary school. i remember cloves... and i think the bowline's one you can tie without taking your hands off either end of the rope. handy if you are drowning.

on the one hand, it's a wonder i dint' end on the junk, but on the other, it's a sort of surprise i haven't made partner yet.

fucking disco music!

11:05 PM  
Blogger George said...

My knot experience begins with boy scouts. Bowline: Rabbit comes out of the hole goes around the tree and back into the hole...

Also, in Navy boot camp, we had a piece of rope (not big enough to do anything rash mind you) tied to the end of our rack (bed in civilian speak.) And every day the knot of the day was posted on the bulletin board and by inspection time we were required to have the KOD (Knot of the day) tied neatly to the crossbar at the foot of our bed next to our locker.

And you know what, I am still hazy on how exactly to tie them. Fishing related knots, I can tie in seconds, but navy related knots are a no go. Just goes to prove the worthlessness of knowledge gained under duress, I guess.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Interesting. I did a meme just the other day on all the jobs I've had before.

7:07 PM  
Blogger JACQ said...

Well, I thought of becoming a stripper once. Then I realized it involved taking off my clothes and not paint, so I kinda turned it down.

I know, bad joke. What can ya do. I got nothin'.

Mr. RB, I would have really dug hearing you on the radio. Uh well.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Clint And Jessica said...

Portland? IATSE? I was Googling something completely different and found myself here....IATSE-ish? I oughtta know you but may at 503-516-9980 and we'll all be famous.

4:13 PM  

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