Archive for March, 2016

Ones and Zeroes

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
Ones and Zeroes

Tuesday – 22 March 2016
I’ve worked in IT, in some capacity or other, for almost 15 years. I enjoy it; I’m even nominally good at it. Today, however, I had to call my ability in this field into question.

A little over a month ago, I was tasked with spinning up a new server for an application that we’re going to vet and possibly put into service. And I did. And promptly went on my merry way with other tasks and projects. This morning, I had to come back to that server and do some additional configuration. I attempted to remotely access the machine. No go.

Huh.

Undaunted, I considered that I’d possibly built the machine in a different site. So, I tried to connect using that sites code. Still no go, Flight.

What the…?

At this point, I started getting “a little” concerned. I was sure that I’d built the machine, but not being able to connect to it or even ping it caused some alarm.

 

I logged into the local virtual machine cluster to look for the machine. There it was, big as day and twice as bright. It was on, so that negated the “Did I remember to turn the bloody thing on” question. I opened its vm console, logged onto the server, and validated that it was working properly. It was. I tried pinging the server from other machines. Pings out, no ping replies returned. I pinged the other machines from the server. Pings out, ping replies returned.

The last time this happened – last week, actually – I had neglected to turn off a server’s firewall, preventing it from responding to any external contact.

I looked at the firewall settings; it was turned off. Good. I checked its IP address. I was able to ping it from other machines. Okay, that narrowed down the range of possible problems, but it raised another question. The server properties showed that it was joined to the domain, so it should (operative word) have been registered properly in DNS. I prepared to remove the system from the domain and re-add it when I saw what the problem was.

I had mistyped the computer’s name when setting it. I hadn’t caught the error because I kept looking at the correctly-typed name in its VM console window.

...

I renamed the computer, removed it from and re-added it to the domain, and in probably the least-surprising thing I’ve encountered today: It appeared to pings and remote calls.

Super. Genius.

“I’m (a) super… thanks for asking!” (Part V – Finale)

Monday, March 21st, 2016
"I'm (a) super... thanks for asking!" (Part V - Finale)

Sunday – 20 March 2016
Today was the final performance of Aida for Utah Opera‘s 2015-2016 season.

Aida: War

Aida: War

That was a bittersweet statement. I met a lot of fine people and had a fantastic experience. I’m also going to have snippets of the music from the opera playing in my head for some time to come. This was a great run, with an exceptional cast and crew.

In fact, let me quote UO’s Artistic Director, Christopher McBeth, to accentuate the point:

Near as I can figure at the moment, Utah Opera’s AÏDA played to well over 10,000 people. This calls for my best pipe and tobacco. Thanks to all involved in a great run and full houses. Slaìnte!

Let’s do a little math here:

  • The Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre seats 1,790 people, according to the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts website.
  • The show ran for five (5) days, plus one tech rehearsal – open to a smaller audience – before opening.

By those numbers, I’d be inclined to say that we played to full houses every night of the run. I consider that a pretty remarkable feat.

Anyone who’s been reading my posts for the past couple of weeks knows that I’ve truly enjoyed my experience as a supernumerary. Let me elaborate on what it took to get me to actually become part of the process:

  • Sara was a supernumerary in The Italian Girl in Algiers. She had nothing but good things to say about the experience and suggested that I give it a try sometime. This was in 2010.
  • Christoper McBeth is also a friend and had suggested that I be a super, many times over the years; I always respectfully deferred.
  • After The Merry Widow (earlier this season), Michelle Peterson, Utah Opera’s Company Manager, was talking with Sara and me and said, “You need to be in the next opera!” I told her that I’d give it due thought.
  • Christopher, at our January Guys’ Night Out gathering, mentioned – to the entire group – that we should run away and join the circus be part of Aida. Some of the guys gave him contemplative (but entirely non-committal) looks.

It was shortly after that January GNO that Roy and I decided “Why not…?!” We reported to rehearsals at the UO Production Studio in mid-February, without any idea of what to really expect. What we found was not only an incredibly well-run organization, but one that welcomed newcomers openly and warmly. To my knowledge, at no point was anyone made to feel like an outsider and they were very kind to the mistakes and questions of those who were new to the environment.

Rehearsal

Rehearsal at the Production Studio

Let me also note here that when it was rehearsal time, it was a serious endeavor, but that didn’t mean that we didn’t have fun. Roy was cast as a guard, I was cast as a Captain.

Roy: Guard

Roy: Guard

 

Robert: Captain

Robert: Captain

 

No good can come of this...

No good can come of this…

We rehearsed for the next couple of weeks, first at the Production Studio, later at the Capitol Theatre. It was when we first arrived at the theatre that we got to see the set. And at that point, things started falling into place. Next came costume fittings and dress rehearsals.

Costume fitting

Costume fitting

 

Final dress rehearsal...

Final dress rehearsal…

 

Captains: Thomas, Richard, David, me, and Cayman

Captains: Thomas, Richard, David, Robert, and Cayman

All too soon, it was time to hit the stage for opening night. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, they threw a curveball at me and told me – minutes before the show – that I’d be filling in for another role, during one part of Act II. I’d heard the phrase “The show must go on…” more times than I can count; it never really hit home until this point. And the show did, indeed, go on. A bit scary. And far more fun that I could have imagined.

And it was like that every night.

The members of the cast and crew were great. Our director, Garnett Bruce, made a comment at the opening night cast party that stuck with me. One of the other first-time supers noted that he had really enjoyed the experience and that Garnett’s demeanor and energy had helped to make it so. Garnett simply said,”If we don’t make the rehearsals fun and welcoming, people don’t come back. We want to make opera inviting.” And it was. I would gladly be part of another of his productions, as long as my schedule permits.

Robert, with Garnett Bruce (director)

Robert, with Garnett Bruce (director)

I’ve mentioned Jennifer, our AD, before – she’s the one who got me my new axe. She was also the top kick after opening night, as Garnett had to leave and prepare for his next show. She’s also the one who informed me of my role-reassignment (co-assignment?). And I don’t think that I ever saw her without a smile on her face.

Our stage managers, Kathleen, Carli, and Sarah ran a pretty tight ship, but they also kept the wheels on the bus. And kept the bus running. Carli was the Stage Left ASM and she gets my undying gratitude for putting up with Roy and my shenanigans:

One of Roy’s entrances had him carrying a statue of the Sphinx, our group was carrying litters of treasure, but referred to as “booty palettes,” right after him. So, naturally, we lined up at the same time. Whenever Carli would give us our standby calls before we walked out of the wings, “Standby, Sphinx and booty palettes…,” we’d break into booty-shaking dancing. Just off-stage. Barely out of line-of-sight of the patrons in the balcony. Her reaction was (usually) head-shaking… with laughter.

I also need to acknowledge one of our dressers, Jason, who helped lace me into my cuirass before every show and would also help adjust any other costuming issues he noticed as I was walking down the hallway to head onstage.

I’d also like to be sure to give a tip of the hat to the costumers, hair designers, makeup artists, musicians, dancers, and the backstage crew for also making this not only a fun production, but a memorable event.

Whew.

There was a lot to say and I’m sure that I could say so much more. But, I think that I’ll just close with “Thank you, to Utah Opera for providing such a fantastic opportunity, not only to be part of this amazing production, but also to see what goes into putting on such a show and for allowing me to meet so many new and interesting people.”

Derrick Parker (Ramfis) and Robert (Captain)

Derrick Parker (Ramfis) and Robert (Captain), after the last performance

 

With Jonathan (Guard/Carrier)

With Jonathan House (Guard/Carrier)

 

Robert, Roy Dawson, Will Johnson

Robert, Roy Dawson, Will Johnson

 

With Jennifer Cheek (Aida) and Roy Dawson (Guard)

With Jennifer Check (Aida) and Roy Dawson (Guard)

 

Roy Dawson (Guard), Derrick Parker (Ramfis), and me

Roy Dawson (Guard), Derrick Parker (Ramfis), and me

Namaste.

Spectre: Aftermath

Sunday, March 20th, 2016
Spectre: Aftermath

Saturday – 19 March 2016
I have just finished watching the latest/last (?) Daniel Craig outing as James Bond: Spectre.

James Bond: Spectre

James Bond: Spectre

I enjoyed Craig’s Bond, as usual, but something seemed a little… off. Not so much in the performance, mind you. It felt like something in the script itself was missing. Christoph Waltz as Blofeld – I was quite fine with that casting… although, much like Star Trek Into Darkness‘ John Harrison/Khan, it might have been better to let him be someone else. Lea Seydoux’s Dr. Madeleine Swan was alright, but given the way that her character was introduced – a direct and intelligent woman – it later felt like she was just “kind of there.” (I know, some will just say “Bond girl” and shrug it off.) I appreciated Ralph Fiennes’ M more in this movie than in his previous appearance. And the movie scored bonus marks for the inclusion of Dave Bautista and Moriarty Andrew Scott.

I did like the nods to Bond history. I also appreciated the way that they made Bond’s connection to Spectre personal – it was a touch that I wasn’t quite expecting them to execute in the manner that they did.

On the whole, it wasn’t a horrible movie, but it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat in the manner that I expect from a Bond film. It didn’t feel like a waste of a movie night, but I think that my expectations might have been a bit high after Sam Mendes’ outing with Skyfall. If I had to rate it against the recent round of movies, it would look like this:

  1. Skyfall
  2. Casino Royale
  3. Spectre
  4. Quantum of Solace

Something else that didn’t work for me was the theme, Writing’s on the Wall. I wasn’t sold on the lyric content or the performance by Sam Smith. By the same token, I wasn’t taken with Jack White and Alicia Keys’ theme for Quantum of Solace (Another Way to Die), while Casino Royale and Skyfall‘s themes – You Know My Name and Skyfall, respectively – felt just fine.

All things considered, I give the movie six (6) Spectres.

spectre_ringspectre_ringspectre_ringspectre_ringspectre_ringspectre_ring

Namaste.

“I’m (a) super… thanks for asking!” (Part IV)

Friday, March 18th, 2016
"I'm (a) super... thanks for asking!" (Part IV)

Friday – 19 March 2016
Fourth performance. Still having an amazing time.

Our AD, Jennifer, emailed me and told me that the gentleman for whom I’d been subbing in one portion of Act II would not be able to return to the show. She also asked if I’d mind continuing in that role for the next/last two shows. I told her that I would be happy to do so but, since I wasn’t walking out with my original group and not getting to carry the axe that I was supposed to have as a prop…

Eye of Horus standard and axe...

Eye of Horus standard and axe…

 

My axe... that I haven't gotten to wield since our last rehearsal.

My axe… that I haven’t gotten to wield since our last rehearsal.

…that I wanted a commemorative axe to take home. (Hey, it worked for Samuel L. Jackson and his lightsaber, so why not ask?)

She totally hooked me up.

My new axe - IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!

My new axe – IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!

So, I proceeded as a standard bearer for one entrance and returned to my group of Captains for the other two entrances.

We also received our Aida t-shirts tonight:

Front

Front

 

Back

Back

One other thing of which we were informed: Tonight’s show was sold out! That’s always a good thing.

There’s only one more show – Sunday matinee – so if you’re interested in seeing this amazing production, I’d suggest getting tickets soon.

Namaste.

Happy Green Lantern Day! (Or, you know… St. Patrick’s Day)

Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Happy Green Lantern Day! (Or, you know... St. Patrick's Day)

Thursday – 17 March 2016
Not only is today #NoBadNewsThursday…
…it’s also Green Lantern Day!

John Stewart (art by Neal Adams)

John Stewart (art by Neal Adams)

 

Hal Jordan

Hal Jordan

 

Green Lantern Corps

The Green Lantern Corps

Or, as some people would say: St. Patrick’s Day.  (I’m fine with sharing the day.)

St. Patrick (image via Wikipedia)

St. Patrick (image via Wikipedia)

Have a green day!

I’m (a) super… thanks for asking! (Part III)

Sunday, March 13th, 2016
I'm (a) super… thanks for asking! (Part III)

Saturday – 12 March 2016
(Some of this was written during my group’s break in the opera, some was written after.)

To liberate (in the name of the people!) a few words from The Muppet Show…

It’s time to put on makeup!
It’s time to light the lights!
It’s time to get things started
At [Utah Opera] tonight!

It is opening night for Utah Opera‘s Aida. I found out – as I was getting my costume on –  that I’m going to be filling in for another role for a couple of nights. No pressure. (LIES!) We did a rough walkthrough of my changes partway through my getting dressed. Different cues, entrances and exits. Yeah, no pressure. We did, however, head down to the stage, so that I could find my marks… five minutes before curtain.

Captain

Captain

 

Captains: Thomas, Richard, David, me, and Cayman

Captains: Thomas, Richard, David, me, and Cayman

They just called us for our first walk-on. I’ll finish writing this after I’ve either rocked it or embarrassed my ancestors, family, progeny, and myself.

::: heading up to stage :::

::: back from stage :::

Nailed it.

For my second and third walk-ons, I rejoined the other Captains for our regularly-scheduled roles. (Nailed those.) Then, there was a lot of waiting in the Green Room for Act III, in which we had no part. Fortunately, the others waiting for their calls helped keep the mood light and fun. Then came the curtain call. And then, my first opera as a supernumerary was over.

After the show, was the cast party at Squatter’s Pub. It was a nice – if a bit cozy – gathering. It was nice getting to have a more relaxed social interaction with members of the cast and crew.

me, with Garnett Bruce (director)

With Garnett Bruce (director)

 

Roy Dawson (Guard), Derrick Parker (Ramfis), and me

With Roy Dawson (Guard) and  Derrick Parker (Ramfis)

 

With Jennifer Cheek (Aida) and Roy Dawson (Guard)

With Jennifer Check (Aida) and Roy Dawson (Guard)

 

With Jonathan (Guard/Carrier) - no, we really didn't coordinate outfits intentionally.

With Jonathan (Guard/Carrier) – no, we didn’t intentionally coordinate outfits.

On the whole, this process has been amazing. As I’ve mentioned many times before, it’s been great to be part of the production. Thank you to SaraRules!, Michelle Peterson, and Christopher McBeth for suggesting that I jump into it! Thank you also to Garnett Bruce, our director, for making my – and many others’ – first supernumerary role a fun and inviting experience. Thanks also stage management, cast and crew for providing an opportunity to check something off my bucket list that I never even knew was on it! (Two things, actually, but let’s not quibble over minutiae.)

One show down, four to go…

…but for now, bed.

Namaste.

Friday!

Friday, March 11th, 2016
Friday!

Friday – 11 March 2016
It’s the end of the week! Of course, I thought that last week and wound up back in the office at 11:30 PM…

Tomorrow is opening night for Aida. If you:

  • are in the Salt Lake City metropolitan opera,
  • are looking for something different to do on a Saturday evening, and
  • like opera,

you should come check it out – ticket information can be found here. It’s pretty amazing. (Personally, it’s even more amazing, having seen what’s been going on behind-the-scenes.) Added bonus, you get to see about 100 more people1 (other than just Roy and me) dressed up as – and walking like – Egyptians:

AIDA: Captain (me) and Guard (Roy)

AIDA: Captain (me) and Guard (Roy)

sdfklj

Stray Toasters

  • Conversations like this are among the many reasons I love Sara:
    • 1:25pm
      Sara
      I apologize, in advance, if I come home with a windmill tonight.1:34pm

      Robert
      I’m sorry…. WHAT!?
      Like garden-sized windmill?1:36pm

      Sara
      Well, I’m going to a vintage market… there’s no telling what I might come home with this time.1:37pm
      Robert
      You bring home a windmill, I’m making a miniature golf course hole in the backyard.
      Just putting that out there.

      1:38pm
      Sara Kelly Neal
      Okay, I accept that gauntlet.

    • Minister Golf
  • Does anyone have a recommendation for a good OBD-II diagnostic scanner?
  • What is the order of the Gorillaz videos in terms of plot line?
  • It seems as though Shohreh Aghdashloo has joined the cast of Star Trek Beyond. That’s just a bonus, right there.

Namaste.

1 – DISCLAIMER: Not all 100 will be Egyptian; some will be dressed as Ethiopians.

I’m (a) super… (Part II)

Monday, March 7th, 2016
I'm (a) super... (Part II)

Monday – 07 March 2016
When I signed up for a part in Aida, I knew that there would be a couple of proverbial hoops to jump through. Rehearsals. Props. Costuming. All of which is to be expected when you’re in a production, be it stage or screen.

One of the things that came later – in the details of what it meant to be cast as a male super (a.k.a. “the fine print”) – was that I would have to be clean-shaven for the part. Finding out that I had to shave wasn’t a deal-breaker, but that’s not to say that I didn’t inquire as to whether it was an absolute for the role. I did, it was.

I’ve worn a goatee since… 1991 or 92, if memory serves correctly. Since then I have been clean-shaven exactly twice: Once for a friend’s wedding (September 1993)

1993

1993

and once for a Hallowe’en costume (October 2005).

2005

2005

 

As the pictures show, there is precedent for me having a naked chin. That said, Sara had never seen me without a goatee, nor (obviously) had Team DiVa. So as to not have an encore presentation of their reaction to Sara’s cutting her hair a few months ago – let’s just say that “less than pleased” is a gross understatement – I told them a few days ago that I was planning on shaving my goatee. That hurdle passed fairly easily. This morning, I asked them if they wanted to watch as I shaved it off, since I won’t see them until tomorrow morning – tonight’s rehearsal runs until well after their bedtime. They were both enthusiastic in saying “Yes!”

I went about my usual morning shaving routine, but also pulled out the clippers, to thin the goatee before using the razor. The girls kept asking “When are you going to shave it off?!” I had to inform them that it had to be done in steps. They were okay with that… but still impatient, as the hair apparently wasn’t coming off quickly enough for them.

A few minutes later, the deed was done:

Going, going, gone...

Going, going, gone…

And this is how I’ll look for the next two-ish weeks.

Namaste.

Scenes from a Saturday

Saturday, March 5th, 2016
Scenes from a Saturday

Saturday – 05 March 2016
I like sleeping in as much as the next guy. Being the father of twin four-year-olds, however, opportunities to do so is rare. (Granted, I can often extend some weekend sleeping by letting Team DiVa play Starfall or color on the iPad for 30 or so minutes…) This morning, I slept in until 10:30. It was glorious. It was also very necessary.

Yesterday, I was up at 7:30, worked all day, went to rehearsal, and came home… only to get a call from our monitoring company, saying that a system wasn’t allowing users to access shares and files. I wound up having to go back to the office at 11:45 PM. I didn’t get home until almost 3 AM. By the time I got home, I was completely drained.

The drawback to sleeping in was that I lost a couple hours of my day. At this point, I’m considering that a necessary evil. On the plus side, I was awakened by little girls who wanted me to take them outside to play. If you need a reason to get up and start the day, that’s a pretty damned good one, I’d say.

I got up, had a quick bite to eat, grabbed a shower, and took the ladies outside. They “chopped down trees” with axes (curved branches that had fallen off the corkscrew willow). They played on their balance beams. They put up an obstacle course with cones. And, they “climbed” trees… with a little help.

Tree-climbing001

Learning to climb trees

This picture was taken a week or so ago, but you get the gist. The sheer joy they had from “climbing” in the trees made getting out of bed worthwhile.

Namaste.

“I’m (a) super… thanks for asking!”

Friday, March 4th, 2016
"I'm (a) super... thanks for asking!"

Friday – 04 March 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I’m going to be a supernumerary in an opera – Utah Opera‘s production of

uoAida

Aida (for performance details, click the image)

(And, no, the irony of being one of a handful of Black performers in an opera set in Egypt being performed in Utah has most definitely not eluded me. In fact, it amuses the Hell out of me.)

We’ve been in rehearsals this week (and part of last week, as well). So far, it’s just been staging and timing, without our costumes. And, for the record, there are going to be a LOT of bodies on the stage. And a LOT of moving parts. I was warned that being part of the production, even “just” as a super, was a totally different experience. It’s true. Seeing how it is all coming together to present this show has been very enlightening, especially for someone who hasn’t done anything on-stage since grade school. But, I digress…

In a Facebook post, I wondered how similar/dissimilar my costume would be from that of my former City of Heroes/current DC Universe Online character, Nefer-Tem…

Nefer-Tem

Nefer-Tem (City of Heroes)

 

Still super... re-suited

Nefer-Tem (DCUO)

Yesterday, I went in for my costume fitting. I’m in a headdress, tunic, cuirass, beaded necklace, belt, sandals, and a shenti. (For those who aren’t familiar with the term “shenti,” let me break it down for you: “man-skirt.” (Oddly enough, I knew the term “shenti” because of some research I did while playing City of Heroes. Yeah, yeah, I know… “Nerd.”) The headdress was close enough to make my inner fiend smile; what made it laugh was remembering a secondary costume that I did for Nefer-Tem:

nefer-tem_costume3_001

Nefer-Tem: Alternate costume (The kilt was the closest I could get to a shenti. Go figure.)

Just add the tunic and swap out sandals for the wrapped boots and you’re pretty much looking at my costume for Aida. Yes, I do have pictures of the actual costume; no, I’m not posting them before the performance… mainly because I’m not sure if we’re allowed to show them prior to opening night. #sorrynotsorry

For those interested in attending the production, click here for ticketing information.