Saturday, March 22, 2008
Hi, Honey, I'm home! By the left meatball of the Flying Spaghetti Monster what a long, strange trip it was. Sorry for not posting more from Houston, but between trying to keep my cranium from a cataclysmic rupture, and dealing with the hotel's 'high speed internet' connection that made me long for the good old days of dial-up, it was an exhausting time. Tuesday's class, which lasted from 9am-5pm, contained many more relevant issues, but it was still a lot of information to assimilate in such a brief time. On the one hand I was pleased to see that I know quite a bit about safety, but on the other hand I was appalled to see just how many OSHA regulations we in the theatre tend to violate on a daily basis. Once the current show is finished I have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately my hotel was a $15 cab ride from the convention center, and the only places to eat within walking distance were a MacDonald's, a scary looking greasy spoon/bar, and a Denny's, so Tuesday night I was reminded of a joke I heard once. Complaining about the food from Denny's is like sleeping with a hooker and then complaining that you didn't feel loved. But, full if not necessarily satisfied, I crashed early.
Wednesday was when the actual convention began. My first class began at 9am, and I didn't get a break until 1ish. Most of the classes I chose were about safety and Hazcom procedures(meaning how to properly deal with, and disseminate information about hazardous materials). Again it was a mountain of information, but at least the instructors were actual theatre people and were able to help us navigate the numerous sources of health and safety data. Each class was 90 minutes long, so we were able to get rather in-depth about stuff. After I had lunch at the food court of a nearby mall I was back in classes til 9:30pm. There was a reception for the convention goers after that, but after I saw that a beer was $6, and a glass of wine was $7.50 I decided to take my tired brain back to the hotel and get a six-pack for the price of one beer.
Thursday saw the opening of the show room. Vendors of all things theatrical were set up in an enormous ball room hawking everything from moving lights to portable scenery. The room was awash in spinning logos, hissing fog machines, and audio displays. And the SWAG...oh the SWAG. Everyone was giving away all kinds of trinkets and toys. Glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, yo-yo's, lanyards, and catalogues by the ton were there for the taking. It was like trick-or-treating for grown-ups. Keep in mind that going back to the hotel to drop off any of my booty was not an option, and by lunch time I was carrying around at least fifty pounds of junk. As I sat down to eat my smothered burrito from the convention center snack bar, my gimme-that mindset cooled, and I culled the herd a bit. I got rid of several catalogues that were already sitting on my desk back home, and freed myself of a good ten pounds of gak. There were a few classes to take on Thursday, some were good, some were so basic that I left after ten minutes or so, then it was back to the vendors. There were a lot of things that we actually need, so I got business cards and literature, and many things we'd never use. I ran into a few old friends, and cruised the floor one more time just in case I'd missed anything cool or important. Then, around 6 or so, I went back to begin the arduous task of fitting all this crap into my luggage.
Back at the hotel, after dining on a Denny's breakfast(the one meal they do right any time of day), I threw away another fifteen pounds of redundant catalogage, and crammed everything into my two carry-on's. The shuttle was to pick me up at 4:30 the next morning, so I tried to get to sleep early. I set the alarm on my phone for 3am, and crashed. Unfortunately, while I had reset my watch for Central time, I never had reset my phone, so the alarm went off at 2. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. I drank coffee, watched CNN, and did a bit of low-speed intertube surfing. Finally it was time to go home.
The return trip was uneventful, and thanks to the power of Xanax completely stress-free. The worst part of it was that I got into Tampa three hours before Mrs. Marius, who is a TSA screener, got off work, but I read, and rode the monorail around the airport a few times, and once she was done we went home. But first we had to stop by Wally World to buy a new pillow for me. I learned long ago that if I want to get any sleep when I am away from home, I need to bring my own pillow. Which I did this time. But when it came time to try to get everything back into my luggage, something had to go. Fortunately I had been planning to replace that pillow anyway, so it was not that big a deal to jettison it.
And there you have it. If any of you are still awake, thanks for lasting this long. It was a fun, educational, and exhausting trip, and I hope I get to go again next year in Cincinatti.