Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What a week

This is turning into an eventful week, of sorts. It started last week, actually, when I attempted to record the LBSC's production of Euripides' The Bacchae, which closed this past Saturday night. This production included music that had been composed specifically for the LBSC by one of the company members, and there had been several audience requests for a soundtrack album. As the LBSC is a small community theater organization, no opportunity for fundraising can be overlooked. The topic had been discussed a couple of times, along the lines of 'so-and-so has the equipment', but no actual action was taken. It was clear from the backstage and greenroom atmosphere that this cast was not going to stick around beyond the cast party on closing night. Having hurriedly assembled a basic recording setup, I ran the idea of recording the last week's shows by the director, not expecting any difficulty. I figured that if I recorded all three performances, we'd have a better chance to end up with enough material to assemble a good final recording. Except that it turned out that she didn't want a recording of the actual show for various reasons. Instead, she suggested assembling the singing members of the cast for a couple of recording sessions before the last two shows. Fine by me, except that the music for the show is prerecorded and run from the tech booth during the show, and her preference was that we record upstairs in the greenroom, which she felt would be more suitable for audio recording. Since the greenroom is not connected to the theater sound system, this development required the presence of the actor who actually played the music on the recording, and who also played during the pre-show warmups. As seems par for the course in this sort of thing, he wasn't able to arrive a couple of hours before scheduled call on such short notice. So, in a last-ditch effort to make this work, we prevailed upon the tech director for the show to come in early - the music was recorded on his computer, and so he was the ideal person to work out those details. He was actually one of the people mentioned earlier who had the necessary equipment to make the recording, and he brought some of it with him. We ended up using a combination of some of his and some of mine, with the result that the final product will be a lot better than anything I would have been able to produce on my own. When it's all said and done though, I imagine that my main contribution to this project will have been making it happen - I didn't sing, nor did I do the actual recording.

The same night as The Bacchae closed, I learned of the likely demise of The Four Olives (http://www.fourolivescafe.com/), the restaurant owned and run by a couple of friends of mine, also from the theater. The down economy has had a severe effect on their business, and hoped-for expansion plans have not panned out. I had supper there Sunday night before going to work (I had the mid-shift), and may have been their final customer - I was the last one out, and they closed before I left. I hope that they can find a way to save the place, but I also know that it's been a financial black hole. Too bad, as their sixth anniversary in business would have been later this summer. I heard a long time ago that most new restaurants don't make it through their first year, and most of those that do aren't around after five years. The biggest challenge (and this applies to the theater as well) is just getting people in the door.

Later that night (well, actually it was the wee early hours of the morning), I had to discuss the imminent termination of training for my trainee. He's nearly out of training hours on ground control, despite our creative accounting of his training time. It's too bad, because he's one of the most dedicated trainees I've ever seen, and he's a great employee - other than his inability to do the job. I don't think I've ever worked with someone who wanted something so much, and worked so hard, and yet was still unsuccessful. A little over a month ago, I told his supervisor that I didn't have anything new to say, and had run out of new ways to say the old stuff. And it was old stuff; we were dealing with the same issues in May that I'd first written up in November or December. His other instructor has maintained for quite some time that he wasn't going to make it here, and early on I felt it was too soon to make that call, and in fact felt obligated to take the other side just to balance the training team, lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the meantime, we've had all the other instructors on our side of the schedule work with him some. This served two purposes: One, there was the chance that one of them would be able to make a difference; and Two, if not, then we would have corroboration of his inability to handle the traffic. All of this will come into play later this week when we have the training team meeting. It's been understood that his hours could be extended if he was showing progress at the time that became necessary, but it's now that time, and he's not showing the promise that we'd need to carry on. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to reassign him to one of the smaller airports in the basin; his family home is here in LA (about the outer markers for the 24's and 25's - how convenient is that?), and I think he's got the potential to do the job - he's just not ready for prime time. This brings up another recent development, concerning one of our previous wash-outs who was assigned to another tower in the LA area. This person has apparently made themselves rather exceptionally unpopular by spouting off about how 'that's not how we did it at LAX'. Never mind that the reason that this person is there in the first place is because they couldn't do it at LAX. As an instructor, I will say that there's not much I want to hear less than how you used to do it where ever you used to be, especially when you're using it as an excuse not to do it the way you're expected to do it here and now. I know it's human nature to compare something new with something familiar, but even so. The common viewpoint among ATC instructors is that what you did before doesn't matter; it's what you're doing now. Show me that you can do it my way first, and then I'll more amenable to listening to how it's done elsewhere.

Music stuck in my head for the better part of the last week: Blue Rondo a la Turk by Dave Brubeck. The opening minute or two seems to be on an endless loop. The only escape will be when it gets replaced by some other ditty or sound clip. Before this, it was one of the songs from The Bacchae; apparently the recording sessions were enough to finish that off.

Between the stuff at the theater, the restaurant, and the quick-turn for the mid-shift, I completely missed Father's Day. Fortunately I got a card in the mail last week, but I had hoped to call on the day. Last time I was back home, I gave my dad his Father's Day present early, as I had it in the truck at the time: a metric crescent wrench. I'm not making that up - it really was an adjustable wrench with metric markings. Who'd a thunk it?! Next year, I'm gonna get him a bottle of prop wash!

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered your blog linked from a comment on Decision Height. I enjoy reading about ATC at other places, and I think I'll probably read through all your posts tonight.
    I had to laugh at this post, though, cause we have an ORD washout here. He had a deal several days after he certified in the tower here. He tried to defend it by saying "That's how we did it at ORD!!" Then threw his headset across the TRACON.